Mademoiselle

The least one could say was that now, things wouldn’t be the same. Between Maya and Hijiri, a line had just been crossed: the confession line. Before, he could try to fool himself, she could try to close her eyes, and just remain friends without trying to become more. They could have been tensed and suspicious, nervous while trying to cover their feelings, too scared to be found out by one another. Not anymore. He admitted out loud, in front of her, that he was in love with her, and there was no coming back. No cancelling, no memory erasing. They just had to deal with it. He loved her.

Maya couldn’t say a thing. What should she say? What should she do? She was scared to give him the wrong answer. Beside, he was the first person who told her “I love you”. The other times, when Sakurakoji or Shigeru confessed to her, it was always “I like you” or ever “I like her” said to someone else as an indirect confession. This time, Hijiri had looked in her eyes, during what seemed a very, very long time, and said “I love you.” And this was a first. But, when she was getting really embarrassed, seeking for inspiration in a matter of good answer in case your benefactor and best friend happen to confess he fell for you, Hijiri sighed with satisfaction.

“Ah! It sure feels good to say it! I hope I didn’t startle you too much, right?” Maya shook her head as an answer. He laughed. “Why don’t we eat at my place, it’s almost noon.” He added.

Maya was certain that her heart just stopped for a second when he said that. Hijiri must have noticed it, because he cleared his throat and hurried to add: “I rearranged my apartment the way it was before, so I wanted to invite you to...to celebrate. Now it looks like an apartment again.”

Maya smiled. She could clearly remember the evening they spent rearranging the flat to make a rehearsal room out if it. Especially when after that, they drank a cup of hot chocolate in purple mugs. She laughed. “You mean an almost wall-free, doorless apartment, right?” Hijiri laughed too. “Yeah, right, but at least it’s not an empty floor anymore.”

She agreed and he drove them to his place. He placed his phone earpiece and dialled a number. “Kirino speaking. Yes. I will be there within two or three hours, make sure there is something good to eat by the time I get home. Hum. Perfect. And I will have a guest. Yes. Of course. Thanks.” He said and hanged up. Maya glanced at him inquiringly, so he said “I notified my domestics of our arrival.”

“Y-you have domestics?” She exclaimed “I never noticed it...”

That’s a strange thing that he rearranged his apartment himself if he had workers to do it for him, she thought. Takumi smiled.

“They aren’t mine, actually, but Daito’s.” he said cheerfully. “Since I’m quite important in the company, Daito provide me with housekeepers. I just have to call, and they come.”

And after telling me that, you still think I will believe you saying you’re not some kind of prince? Maya thought, pouting. “I didn’t know that any translator could have all this...” she said sheepishly.

He glared at the road. “Let’s say I not just any translator...”

Maya looked at him, quite surprised. He was so serious suddenly. Both his hands were clutched on the wheel as he accelerated.

When they stopped in front of the building, he got out first quickly. Maya feared that she said something wrong and didn’t know what to do. She struggled with her seat belt and when she tried to reach the handle, the door suddenly opened and a big hand appeared where the handle was before. She raised her head and saw Takumi, smiling at her, slightly bowed with elegance.

“Mademoiselle.” He said classily.

Maya didn’t even try to hold back the deep flush that was heating her cheeks and ears, due to her temporally blank, inefficient mind. She just couldn’t concentrate on anything in front of this bright white smile. He was doing this a bit too often. Dazzling people wasn’t fair, he shouldn’t do that. She awkwardly put her hand on his and let him help her out the car. They walked the few stairs to the entrance, and then Hijiri threw his car keys to a doorman with energy and demanded: “Park it carefully and bring us up the suitcases.” The man bowed at almost ninety degrees and obeyed. Maya hesitated for a minute, seeing the man leaving with the car. “Is it really okay?” Takumi laughed and answered that the man was only doing what he was paid for and they took the elevator.

As expected, the lunch was on a well decorated table, and under metallic covers to keep the heat. Maya smiled. I was exactly like the first time they went there.

*

“And then, I was sure I would die, but when I opened my eyes...the mother wolf, and the young ones...there were all gone.”

Hijiri couldn’t bear any more details. He knew it; he knew she would act carelessly during this training in the wood. He shouldn’t have asked about the daily adventures, now he was simply horrified. Hearing about her fainting in the wood, falling sick, eating food bitten by wild animals, sleeping with wolves and following them, and facing an adult one, endangering her life in every possible way she could, he was feeling that it was pure miracle to see her sat in front of him, healthy, alive, in his apartment. It was making him wanting to grab her arm, to feel her flesh, making sure she is not a ghost telling him happily how she died. This girl needed protection. She definitely needed to be protected, to be wrapped under cotton wool. They were safe in his apartment, yet he was still scared. While he was trying not to jump from his seat and grab her by the shoulder to shake her, she was cheerfully telling him the moment she had her marvellous revelation.

“That’s...really interesting, Maya.” Hijiri cleared his throat. “I’m proud of you.”

“Really?” She said, beaming happily as he nodded. “Thank you!”

“But...next time...just be a bit more careful. Please.”

She nodded and sipped her tea. Hijiri sighed and smiled. When she caught his gaze she suddenly chuckled and nearly died from drowning with a sip of tea. Dismayed, Hijiri sighed again. Endangering her life again. How did she manage to stay alive the past nineteen years? She put her cup away, a wise decision, and changed the subject.

“What about you...what did you do this week?”

“Me? I worked. I’m in charge of the translation of the Crimson Goddess text in Chinese, Korean, French and English.”

Maya’s eyes widened. “Seriously?” Hijiri smiled: he got her full attention. “It’s great! This way everyone could be able of reading this play!”

“Actually, we might not be able of publishing any translation at all.” Hijiri said.

“Why?”

“Beside Tsukikage Chigusa, no one has the right to use this play for any kind of business.”

Maya dropped her chopsticks. She always heard about the fight for the rights of the play, but she never thought about what Hayami Masumi wanted to do with them if he would get them. “You mean that, if Tsukikage-sensei doesn’t agree to give he rights to the Daito, you can’t publish the text around the world?”

“Yes. Beside Tsukikage, I’m the only one in the world that has a copy of the original text.” Hijiri saw her amazed and inquiring gaze and said. “It’s just that it happened to be in my family. It’s a long story, I don’t know the details. ” He lied. He just couldn’t tell her the story behind this copy; it was too painful to him, and he had no idea of how she would react if she knew. But he also had the impression of hiding something important from her. Anyway, he couldn’t tell her. Even Masumi didn’t know about it.

“So, like I said: I’m not just any translator.”

Maya nodded and finished her lunch silently. She wasn’t feeling really easy now. She always sided with her teacher without trying to understand anything. Mr. Hayami was so rude, and even cruel sometimes to get those rights, not taking Tsukikage’s health in account, that she immediately made him stand in her mind as the villain. She understood the need of her teacher to protect her precious play, and she didn’t want the Crimson Goddess to be considered as a mere product for billion of people to use, in a way it would be degrading and the marvellous play would loose its worth. But still, Maya was sure that if only the text could be published, and that people could read it all over the world, dreaming about it, like she does, this certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing. She didn’t know what to think anymore.

Once the lunch eaten, Hijiri fastened his hair in a short high ponytail, rolled up his sleeves, and started to clean up. The sink filled of hot water lathered as they bustled about the dishes together. Maya was very careful and tried to avoid the touch of his hand, but Takumi was not willing to easier the task. She glanced at him and saw that he was staring at her, waiting for her reaction to his frequent brushing. She blushed deeply and took another plate when she suddenly felt in the hot water a big hand grabbing hers tightly, imprisoning hers in its fist. She startled and accidently met Takumi’s intense gaze. She froze and felt her pulse increase in her wrist. Too nervous to bear it any longer, she looked down and freed her hand. A deep silence settled in the apartment. The more the silence was lasting, the more she feared to have hurt him, so she started to stammer: “Look...Takumi-san...”

But she didn’t have the opportunity to finish her sentence, because a thousand of bubbles flew to her face when she was lifting it. The bitter taste of the soap foam came into her mouth and she chuckled, surprised, while clearing her face frenetically. When she could finally open her eyes again, she immediately saw Takumi’s bright smile as if he was trying not to burst into laughing and her heart skipped a beat. Then she realised she was being mocked, she pouted: “You...!”

She didn’t know if the face she just made was that fun, but apparently her friend couldn’t fight it any longer and burst into laughing: “Maya, you are so...”

“Don’t laugh!” She screamed, vexed.

But Takumi laughed even louder, just before receiving a big splash of hot foaming water. Surprised, ha stared at Maya, who was obviously making fun of him too. “You silly little...” But instead of ending his sentence he splashed her back, Maya laughed and tried to protect her face with her arms, but fruitlessly. Beaming, her eyes closed, she suddenly felt two strong hands grabbing her writs gently and heard Takumi whisper:

“Don’t you...protect yourself from me.”

This sentence sounded like a begging as he lowered her arms. She opened her eyes and met his, surprisingly close to hers. They were glistening with sorrow in a disarming way and Maya couldn’t help but worry. His hand brushed along her arm, caressed her neck, and stopped on her cheek.

Could he? Hijiri didn’t know. His heart was racing; a warm, delightful pain was electrifying his whole body, clouding his mind: he couldn’t think. She was so close, so close to him right now. He could clearly feel her breath heating his lips. A little bit, just a little bit closer and they would touch, and then maybe, maybe she would accept it. Maybe she would let him hold her, like she did in the villa. Maybe she would hold him too. His hand, still on her cheek, could feel her blood flow increase, rushing to her face. How was she feeling right now? Was she seeking for the same thing that he was? More important: if she wasn’t, could he stop himself from doing it? Somehow, he was certain that it didn’t matter, that it was too late already. He learned down a little more...

But then Maya recoiled and looked away. Now that he could see something else than her eyes, he noticed her glowing red ear. Overwhelmed by a dreadful feeling of rejection, Hijiri stepped back and lowered his arm.

“Sorry—“

But Maya wasn’t listening to him. She was rushing toward the piano. She glanced at him and smiled mischievously as she sat down on the stool. Curious, he went closer to have a better look. The first notes of a tune came out, and to his greatest surprise it actually sounded like music. When did she learn to play? It didn’t fit the idea Hijiri had of her life. He searched for a moment, in her life, when she could have learned how to play the piano.

I see the grass blooming...”She began to sing. Hijiri was even more surprised to hear the sound of her singing voice. It wasn’t exquisitely awesome, but it sounded natural, effortless. “...with pretty colours.” She glanced at him, seemingly expecting something from him. But he didn’t have anything to say, he didn’t even know this song. He just smiled at her while she was going on singing. “So many varieties...what a fragrance!” She stopped singing and looked at him again, more intensely though. “I don’t remember what’s coming next. Do you?” She asked with hope. Hijiri shrugged: “I can’t help you: I’ve never heard this song before.” He was about to ask her its name, when he saw Maya go pale, her lips parting a little and her  eyes widening with shock. This expression took him aback. Then, as if she was getting aware of it, she blinked twice and looked away, a deep flush rushing to her cheeks. She sighed, more to relax than to express her upsetting, Hijiri believed, and restarted to play. The notes were more awkward than the previous, but after the end of the first measure he could already recognize it. This time, she wouldn’t be disappointed.

“I know this song!”

She immediately raised her head toward him, seeming oddly relieve to hear that, and grinned. “I can not play it well, for myself.” She said modestly. “Please teach me!”

Hijiri was more than pleased to hear that. This meant they would be able to spend more time together, and this, this was priceless. He sat beside her.

“I would be delighted to do so, Maya. Though I only know how to play it with violin, and I don’t have any piano music sheet of this song in my possession I believe. But don’t worry, I would easily find one. This song is really famous, so I think I would find it at Musical Hours, then I would learn it myself, which shouldn’t be so hard since I already know how to play it with....”

But while he was telling her that, he had seen Maya’s face turning paler and paler, her feature going stiff and frozen, in an almost horrified expression, until, finally, she stood up and run away from the apartment as if her life was depending on it.

“...violin.” He concluded for himself as, stunned, he stared at the door that the shut up violently when she left. “What the...What did I say? Maya?”