Isadora

Two days had passed since Maya ran away from Takumi’s apartment, and now Maya knew exactly what to do. She was determined, in control. It was now or never. The deadline was nearer than even, and she was ready. Completely, definitely ready, free of any kind of doubt in her mind.

Though that two days ago, she was not even close of being calm and confident. 

Scared, Maya was running as fast as her legs could in the crowded street. She was breathing too fast and to deeply, yet she couldn’t feel any air coming into her lungs. Instead, her chest was painfully ice cold. She looked over her shoulder, no he wasn’t following her. She sighed and stopped running to lean her back on the wall of a shop. Trying to get her breath back, she looked up and saw the name of the shop, painted on a little piano shaped sign: Musical Hours.

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...

The clouded sky threatened the passers-by with its dark colours. She should shelter somewhere: a passing rain was coming. Indeed, the first drop fell on her palm, and it was getting colder, windier. She entered in the shop. Without paying attention, she let her feet drive her from department to department, from the vinyl records to the sheets music.

“Miss?” She turned her head and looked at the politely worried seller. “Do you need any help? Are you searching something?” Maya hesitated, and glanced at the compartment, as if she was searching for something. But she couldn’t even think properly, it was as if even her mind was shaking. Her heart was beating so hard it was painful when she finally decided to say: “Do you—do you have Träumerei?”

“Schumann’s Träumerei? Yes of course, what it is that you need, specifically? We have the whole of Schumann’s work in CDs if you want. We also have all the sheets for...” The seller didn’t finish his sentence, seeing Maya’s expression, and his eyes reflected a sincere concern. She was dreadfully pale.

“Can I just have the...piano sheet music? And a CD of Träumerei, if it’s possible...”

“Of course. Have a seat; I’m getting you that immediately.”

The vendor went away, looking over his shoulder, perhaps wondering if letting the young woman alone would be a wise decision. Maya dropped into the first seat she found: a padded pouf into what she sank.

Four month. It’s been four month since Takumi Kirino revealed himself as Mr Purple Rose. During those months, they took the habit to meet several times a week. All her plays were in his apartment, as well as her graduation diploma and her school memory album that she gave him. However, why was it that in the other hand there were so many things that were not fitting the pattern? She tried to think properly, to analyse those four months, but she couldn’t. She was shaking, feeling completely lost. Only one thing was in her mind right now. A frightening thought based on nothing but speculations. The most terrible hunch she ever had...

But how dared she even think that way? After everything that he’s done for her, how could she think that way? She must be the most ungrateful, selfish girl of the world. He had done so much, he gave her so much; how could she doubt him now?

But she couldn’t help it, it was beyond her control. This...intuition, this feeling, was stronger than her, and it was terrifying her. 

“Here, Miss.”

Maya startled and stared at the seller. She realized after a second of confusion that he was told to give her the piano music sheet and she CD. The seller smiled at her and said.

“If you want, you can listen to the song right here.” He handed her a headphone that she put on, and the song started immediately as the seller was walking away.

When Träumerei started, her heartbeat increased spontaneously. She definitely knew this song. But it was much more than that. Inside of her, a feeling started to trouble her. The song played so well, like that, the feeling was a hundred times stronger than how it was in the house. Her hands and writs began to tickle with anxiety. Her stomach grew tightened with sadness, but also with some kind of nervousness. Not exactly like fear. But it was strong. Her heart was aching, as if it was craving for something. As if the air in her lungs wasn’t enough to breathe. Before she could stop them, tears were rushing out her eyes. This song was making her feeling like she was lacking something. But she didn’t want to stop listening to it.

Was she right? To feel this way, toward this song, this song someone, one day played in her presence, this song bookmarked by a purple rose, this song Takumi didn’t know? Was she right to doubt? Sobs joined her tears, and she cried loudly in the music store, holding the music sheet tightly on her chest, until her heart was drained of all its tears.

When Maya came back home this evening, Rei was first relieved to see her after her long week of absence in the woods. But then, after getting her share of hugs and warm greetings, the young woman noticed the pale and tired face of her friend. She took her visage in her hands.

“Maya!” She gasped. “You’re shaking” She checked her forehead. “You’re don’t seem sick, are you cold? What is it? Tell me!”

“Rei...I have this...this dreadful feeling!” The poor thing wasn’t crying, but her eyes were red, proving that she cried before coming home, and Rei was getting even more worried. “I think that Kirino Takumi is not Mr Purple Rose!”

Rei’s heart skipped a beat. Here they were. She knew. No, wait, she was suspecting something, but how far she knew, Rei didn’t know. Then Maya began to tell her everything: the Tsuda who left the house for some reason, the feeling when Takumi hugged her, the sheet music book, the moment at the apartment, the piano. She eluded the whole part when he told her he loved her and when he tried to kiss her, of course.

Rei tried to hide her horror. She was not stupid, and this kind of enormous lie doesn’t last long, mostly. But if there was a time when she could absolutely not discover the truth, this time was right now. Because she knew Maya: she knew that this girl didn’t have much control on her own feeling, and that it shows in her work. Upset, she might not be able of becoming Jane on stage, which meant no Award, which meant no Crimson Goddess. She couldn’t afford to be overwhelmed by harmful feelings.

“And, I don’t know,” Maya was telling her with tears “Am I thinking the wrong way? Or is he really acting strangely? I don’t know, it’s like he is not the same person I used to know, that’s why I thought that maybe...”

It was more than Rei could bear. She had to come up with something, now. She put a gentle mask on her face, grabbed her friends hands, and looking straight into her eyes, she lied:

“Maya: It’s perfectly normal. That kind of things happens a lot in a relationship! During seven long years you were wondering who that marvellous Mr Purple Rose of yours could be, so you started dreaming about him. Imagining him this way, looking that way, talking this way...and now you suddenly meet him, and of course he is not like you imagined it! You have yet to know him. Try to see him as a simple man, not as Mr Purple Rose, and you’ll see that it would be all better. So what if he forgot your song? It was seven years ago Maya! People forget things! To be honest, I’m not even sure I remember it! And yes, he forgot that he had a sheet music in his villa, but what’s so important with that? And when he hugs you it feels different? That’s because you are different! It was four years ago and anyway back then you couldn’t completely trust you senses because they were altered by your blindness and deafness. And he...anyway: what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t worry about that, all this, it’s just mere details. And again, it is completely normal to feel that way. But now you should concentrate about Jane and only Jane. Remember that this is the only thing that matters now. Focus on Jane, Maya!”

And so Maya decided to. She smiled at Rei, and went to bed, assuring her friend that her speech had calmed her and that she was grateful for that. What Rei told her wasn’t completely wrong, after all. There was sense in those words. And she had to focus on Jane, no matter what.

However, the feelings remained there.

Rei’s explanation had at least calmed her, which made her able to think properly this time, unlike three hours ago in the shop. In the bedroom, in the dark, Maya could hear her friend loud sleep. She stared at the dark ceiling, and started to analyse the situation

She had the hunch, that Takumi Kirino was not Mr Purple Rose. Why? Because he doesn’t know how to play Träumerei, she responded to herself. At this thought, she remembered the song and her heart hurt for a second. It was mysterious, the effect this song had on her, by the way: a mixing of desire, emptiness and pain.

She also had this hunch, because this same song is bookmarked in the Villa, with a purple rose. So, it was logical to think that Mr Purple Rose would know it. Or at least would remember that he has the sheet. She also found strange that he didn’t remember Beth’s song. It was the first time he sent her roses, so she thought this play would have been as special for him that it was for her. Also, the Tsuda were not there in the Villa, and the new housekeepers told her that it was due to a change of owner. So, it should mean that the current owner isn’t the same person who hugged her when she was practicing Helen. And, as if it wasn’t troubling enough, it happened that she actually felt the hug he gave her different from Mr Purple Rose’s!

Wait...It wasn’t the first time something was strange in his behaviour! Maya held a gasp of horror. Now that she was thinking of it this way...didn’t he look surprised when she came to thank him for getting renovated the old Theatre? And also...she put her hand on her mouth, keeping herself from screaming her anguish out.

“It’s not much, but I thought you would probably like it.”…“It’s a thanks for the box,”… “I really liked it.”

“The box?”

“Yes, the make-up box you gave me! It is really pretty, I love it!”

“But, wait, I didn’t…”

Tears of fear were falling on her pillows, and she hardened her efforts to make her sobs as quiet as she could. Was it possible, could it be that the person who gave her the make up box, and who renovated the Theatre, that this person was not Kirino Takumi? That it was Mr Purple Rose, being someone else, out there?

All this time, she thought she had finally found him! Was it possible that during all those four month, Mr Purple Rose...

But the first time they met, he seemed to know so many about her, and Mr Purple Rose...

No, she was wrong; the first time they met...it was at the end of her last High School year. He introduced himself as Hijiri Karato. He also told her this day that Mr Purple Rose was a wonderful person. Was he speaking about himself?

But, the very next time they met, it was at the High School headmaster office, and this day she made the mistake to speak out his name, which he had forbidden her to. She could remember it because remembering this incident was always making her wanting to slap herself for being so spontaneous: never thinking before speaking. Anyway, she could clearly remember that Hijiri reassured her by telling her the Headmaster already knew about him. So, was actually his real name Hijiri Karato?

It was getting even more difficult to cry quietly now. Where was the truth, where was the lie? She didn’t know. If he wasn’t Mr Purple Rose, then what about this apartment? What about the rose garden? What about the Villa? What about everything that he told her, everything that he...

I love you...

He even tried to kiss her, for God’s sake! Why, why! Did he love her or not? Was Mr Purple Rose or not? What was his name? She knew nothing! Nothing about him! What should she think about all those evening at the apartment, about the night she spent there, about the breakfast she at there, about the purple mugs! She liked him! Even now, she still...

The worst part of this was that she was not sure. It was a hunch, a feeling. She had no prove. She didn’t even know if she wanted to get some. She liked him, he was nice to her, and they were going along great. But she couldn’t stop crying.

If he wasn’t Mr Purple Rose, then who was?

Maya realized then that she was back to the same state than four month ago. She had no clue about who Mr Purple Rose really was. She only knew about Hijiri Karato, if so was his real name. She also knew that he was somehow related to Träumerei. She might even have met him, the moment she heard the song for the first time. She had to discover who that person was.

But another question troubled her. If Kirino Takumi was in fact Hijiri Karato, if he wasn’t Mr Purple Rose, and if Mr Purple Rose and Hijiri knew each other, then why ? Why would her greatest fan, her dearest friend, her beloved benefactor allow Hijiri Karato to make himself out to be Mr Purple Rose? Why would he let that happen?

All those questions remained unanswered. Maya was tired. She was tired to cry and to try answering questions which answers couldn’t possibly make her happy. Rei was right. She should focus on Jane. If her hunch was heading her in the right direction, then it meant that Mr Purple Rose actually never revealed himself to her. He never trusted her enough for that. She was back to the same situation as four month ago. For now, she had to focus on what was most important: Jane. 

Jane was running thought the dark forest. Outside, it was raining. A storm was howling, the trees’ branches were shaking, and the vegetation was answering with anger. She couldn’t stop running, even thought the bramble branches were whipping and grazing her cruelly. She had to find a shelter. The other members of the pack were already in the cavern, she had to find her way back. Alone, she was vulnerable. Somewhere, one of her sisters howled to show her the pack position. It wasn’t too far, but she had to run, a danger was following her. It was getting closer. She had to run faster!

Far behind her, a piano started to play Träumerei...

Maya stopped. She looked back, but she couldn’t see any piano. Instead, was standing Hayami Masumi in the woods. He addressed her a soft and friendly smile as he held out his hand.

“Do you know this melody?”

“Well” Maya said, puzzled “To tell the truth, it rings a bell, but...”

“It’s Schumann’s Träumerei.”

The storm was howling even louder now and Hayami-san turned round and walked away. She tried to hold him back, but she couldn’t move. She couldn’t scream. Don’t leave me! But he was already gone.

The storm suddenly stopped. The forest was completely silent now. Only one sound remained. It was behind her. A loud and warm breathe; brushing her neck...she turned round and froze.

The mother wolf was just in front of her, her yellow eyes crashing her. She crouched on the ground. It seemed that the ground was moving. She was on billion of ants. But she couldn’t move; she couldn’t take her eyes off the mother’s. Her legs and arms were numbs, she was trapped.

When Maya woke up with a start, dripping with sweat, her dream quickly vanished off her memory. Only the feeling remained in her heart.

She was alone in the bedroom, and she could hear the noise of china and chopsticks handled coming from in the main room. Rei was already up. But she wasn’t late. She came eating breakfast with her friend.

“So” She asked while serving her miso soup. “What did you decided?”

“I decided to focus on Jane, as you said.” Maya reassured her.

“Good.” Nevertheless, Rei glanced at Maya to be sure she was alright. But Maya smiled at her innocently, so she calmed herself and at peacefully. That’s when she remembered she had something to tell her.

“By the way, you, Yuu and Kuronuma had been invited to the opening show of Isadora.”

“That’s wonderful!” She exclaimed, delighted. “To be able to see Isadora, on the opening show! Is that an idea of Kuronuma-sensei?”

“Actually, it’s from Hayami Masumi.”

Maya almost dropped her chopstick. Hearing Masumi Hayami’s name had made her startle, and she blushed without reason while finishing her rice bowl. Right, Masumi Hayami will certainly be there, too. She dried her sweaty hands with a tissue and rushed to the bathroom to prepare herself for today’s rehearsal, followed by Rei’s suspicious gaze.

She practiced, again, and again. Kuronuma Sensei and Yuu, as well as the other members of the team, everyone was astonished to see how she had improved herself. The director declared that she was now completely awardable, and no one could disagree. Not even Maya. Actually, among everyone in the team, Maya was certainly the most confident in her Jane. She knew she was perfect. It was an awesome, thrilling feeling of strength and victory, a first to her. For all her other parts, she always had doubt until the end, but this time was different. This time, she could feel it, she was sure she was capable of playing Jane in front of anyone, at anytime, in anyplace. It was as easy as breathing now. She thinks “Jane” and immediately, the wolf girl take control of her body. She was ready.

So, this day, when she came to the opening show of Isadora, played by the famous actress Madoka Enjoji, she was completely relaxed. She just had to forget the presence of Hayami Masumi.

“There she is, finally, the lady that won oven a guy as austere as yourself!”

“Onodera-san” Masumi said calmly, his date hanged to his arm “Let me introduce you. This is...”

“...Shiori Takamiya, yes I know. And she is even more beautiful that it is rumoured!” The complimented young woman tried very hard to blush, but she always had a great pain in faking modesty. The fat director went on cheerfully “And I always thought that Masumi would never be sensitive to womanly charm. Some were even wondering if...”

“Onodera-san.” Masumi interrupted him with a smile demanding silence before the joke could go any further. His co-worker cleared his throat and searched another subject of conversation.

But actually, this very subject was everyone’s lips in the big hall of the Daito Theatre. Most people were seeing Shiori Takamiya in the flesh for the first time, and everyone was agreeing to say that if those two celebrities could show together at such an official occasion as the opening show of Isadora, that could only mean that the engagement wasn’t too far away. The reporters couldn’t hope greater scoop and the flashes were surrounding them.  Suddenly, Masumi saw, among the crowd, the two only people he wanted to see there. The two people he invited to this show: Maya and Kuronuma.

Maya was wearing a simple but cute dress with flowers on it, but what he saw first was the adhesive dressings she had on her knees, ankle, arms and neck. As always, she must have risked her body for her role’s sake. He sighed

.

They were coming with Sakurakoji, which, for being the male lead, he had had to invite too. This boy was obviously too close to her. He was really making a habit of it, wasn’t he? A warm, handsome young actor who knew Maya for as long a he did. A threat that was going to hug Maya freely on stage, once, twice...He really hated the guy. Speaking of threat, Masumi looked everywhere; there was no trace of Hijiri. Oh, right, he forgot, he had assigned him on another project tonight. Masumi smirked. But his evil little joy died when he heard the mutter in the hall speaking ill of Kuronuma, since his play had been thrown up by the production to advantage Isadora. He had to do something. As always, things would certainly come naturally. He just has to make a few steps and says with a bright smile:

“Welcome, Chibi-chan.”

Maya swallowed loudly, and repeated to herself: Be calm, and confident, answer to him the most politely you can. But she was feeling so nervous. She couldn’t even look at him. She had to. He invited her. Why?  She raised her head and met his bright green eyes. She was feeling even more anxious, all of the sudden. He stared back at her, free of any sarcasm or bad intentions, so it seemed. Before she could fight it, she smiled widely, nervously.

Masumi was surprised to see that Maya wouldn’t even react anymore, hearing her nickname. Did she get used to it? Instead of what she even smiled at him.

“Hayami-san, thank you for the invitation. I’m really grateful to you.” She seemed oddly sincere and Masumi could hear or see neither hate nor hostility toward him, which was comforting and alarming at the same time. He shouldn’t have left her to Hijiri. He should never have done that.

Hayami-san’eyes melted, to a warm, soft expression that made her mind go blank for a second as he said “After the show, there will be a reception to celebrate the opening. You are also invited.”

This time she blushed. Why? There was no reason to be embarrassed. Masumi didn’t know, but he heard the crowd mutter their surprise to see him invite her publicly like that. He smile and enter in the theatre take his seat.

Maya was first of all impressed by the luxurious set design and lights, then, by the popularity of the lead actress. When she made her entrance on stage, the applause was incredible. The show was amazing, Maya loved it. The story was wonderful and moved her to tears. But yet, Maya never felt scared, not even once, to be unequal to the task. Her Jane could compete with Madoka’s Isadora; there was nothing to be afraid of. She watched the show until the end, amazed as always during a stage play, and applauded like everyone. 

After the show, everyone came to congratulate Madoka Enjoji, which was already covered with roses. Maya would have loved to add her own congratulation, but she didn’t dare approach too much. Instead of what she caught herself scanning the crowd, looking for a certain gentleman. She wanted to talk to him. She had nothing particular to say to him, but she wanted to talk to him. It was ridiculous. But somehow, this feeling was familiar. It wasn’t the first time she was feeling this way. But she was too busy trying to find him in the crowded room to realize it. Suddenly their eyes met, and Maya was oddly relieved: He wasn’t with his beautiful fiancée this time. Masumi came closer to her and smiled friendlily to her, a smile he she gave him back, to his greatest surprise.

“You shouldn’t be so silent. It’s not a good time to be shy; you have to sell yourself a little.”

“I see.” She said with a humorous smile “Should you invite me to dance, like the other time? I’m sure it would be fitting.”

“Oh, was that irony?” He said with astonishment. “And when was that I danced with you?” He faked not to remember.

“It was after my Award for the part of Helen Keller.” She was a little upset. Why was everyone forgetting her important memories?

“Oh, right! It was forever!” He laughed. This day he almost got found out, how could he ever forget that?

“Yes, absolutely, you’re right, things are different now: today you have a date.” She said bitterly.

He stared at her, frozen, as his heart sank in his chest painfully. Maya took advantage of his lack of good answer to escape. Evoking Shiori-san had left a bitter pain in her chest that surprised her.

Among all the flatterers, Kuronuma was the only person who judged the acting of Madoka too shallow. Upset, Madoka asked his protégé, Maya, who just came next to him, to tell her impression too, hoping for more praise, which she got: “I was thoroughly impressed by the dancing and singing, but must of all; I loved Isadora’s passion for dance. I had the impression to hear myself speaking of my passion for acting; I was completely on her side!!”

There were some surprised whispers in the listening crowd. Masumi, as well, was taken aback. He didn’t expect her to make such a comparison. Madoka tried to make fun of her and said: “You must really like acting, to compare yourself to Isadora Duncan!” But Maya didn’t see the sarcasm and said with force “Yes, I love it! And every line was like an echo in my heart, it was amazing!” And Madoka, attacking again: “Every line, she said! You cannot remember all the line of this play, can you?” But everyone was shocked to see Maya nodding happily to that mockery. The whispering got louder around them. She did remember the whole thing. Masumi choose this perfect moment to come and ask. “Then...which part did you prefer?”

Maya pondered the question during a moment, and then she said she would choose the final scene. That’s how Masumi ended up asking her to act the scene out in front of everyone in the room. First, Maya wasn’t sure; it was not a good time, everyone was watching, it wouldn’t be polite, but then Masumi Hayami said.

“So, you lied when you said you memorized all the lines!”

“No!” she exclaimed, shocked.

“Then why don’t you show us?”

The entire room was silent; nobody dared to breath, and watched Maya’s reaction. She closed her eyes, and concentrated. At this moment, on stage, Madoka was acting like...this.

Maya straightened up and raised her heard with elegance. “I danced for the first time in a cradle! I was waving my little hands and feet on the sound coming from the music! Now as then...dance is all I have...nothing else!” She took off her shoes with grace and held them tightly on her chest. “Now as then...I am bare-footed. And everything has gone away. Happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain...love and hate...they’ve gone away, dancing from my heart. Even now, I’m dancing. Why? For what purpose? Because it’s my life! I’m sure I’ll go on dancing until the moment I die!” She fell gracefully on the floor, still holding her shoes. Doubt was obvious on her face, but she wasn’t Maya now. “What shall I feel on the verge of death? Sadness? Fear? Pain? Or a happiness that will ease me? Near the end...” A flash of fear lightened her eyes as she raised her head, despite the fact that at this exact moment Madoka had leaned it down with sadness during the play. “How should I dance then?” Then, her scene ended, and Maya came out to reality and put her shoes on, thanking the stunned audience for its attention.

Then the Chairman of the Hoshika productions came to her and asked: “Why did you interpret differently from Enjoji-san at the end?” When Maya said that it was just because she felt like it, the old man seemed impressed and satisfied at once. The crowd started to mutter again, mostly to compare Maya’s performance to Madoka’s, and many were who preferred Maya’s.

“She didn’t have a single mistake in the lines, she really remembered them all!” exclaimed someone.

“As expected of the former winner of the Best Supporting Actress Award in the Academy Festival, don’t you think?” Masumi said out loud with a bright smile. “Good Job, Maya Kitajima!”

Maya startled. She just remembered something. “You!” She couldn’t believe she fell in such a trap this easily! She got closer to him and said with a low voice “You did this to make me sell myself, as you whished to!” Masumi laughed happily, which made her heart stop for a moment. “Yes, and let me insist: you made a great job!” She blushed with anger. Yet, she felt in her stomach something moving frenetically. She was strangely excited and wasn’t sure whether she was angry or about to burst into laughing. “I would let you know that I don’t think I absolutely need to do that to get an Award!”

This time, Masumi was the one who startled. He didn’t expect such a confidence from her. Maya was normally shy and lacked of confidence. It was, according to Tsukikage, her biggest weakness. And yet, here she was, outrageously confident of winning an Award, before everyone else. If this wasn’t an invitation, then nothing would be. He smiled.

“Does that mean that you succeeded in portraying your character?” 

Maya glanced at the crowded room, which was lapping up everything they were saying again, smiled and looked at Masumi straight in the eyes, saying:

“I did. She is perfect.”

The whole room commented her confidence, seeking for more show. Masumi, astonished, felt that he admired her even more than before. Not only was she confident, but she was obviously inviting him to make her prove her ability in front of everyone.

She was crazy. But she couldn’t help it. She could hear the audience muttering about the Forgotten Wilderness. Oddly, she was feeling secure here, speaking to Masumi Hayami. As if nothing could happen to her in his presence. He wants to play; let’s play! She wanted to do it with him, to do as he would say. She wanted to dance with him. All her former worries, her doubts, her fears, everything was long gone. She was certain of what she was doing. Better: she was enjoying it. To her greatest pleasure, Masumi went along with her.

“Then, if your character is so perfect, why don’t you give us a demonstration, Chibi-chan? Come on; show us your wolf girl, Jane!”

Yes! Well done, Hayami-san! It was just what she needed. She was about to go on he knees when Sakurakoji tried to interfere, and again, Hayami-san did the exact right thing by pushing him away firmly. Then Maya went down on her knees and closed her eyes.

“Jane!” Masumi called her, and when she opened her eyes, they were wild.

The audience couldn’t believe it. Maya Kitajima, the same girl who just played the beautiful and elegant Isadora Duncan, was now a wolf-girl. 

Masumi smiled coldly:

“You look just like a wolf, now...then let’s give you something to eat!” He politely took a chicken wing that a waiter had in a plate and show it to the wolf girl. He had now all her attention. Jane was about to grab it when Masumi smirked and threw the wing away.

“You are more suited to be a wolf girl than Isadora.” He said “Come on; go get it, wolf girl. That’s your food! Oh but...maybe you don’t like spiced chicken?”

The whole assistance laughed to his joke. Maya understood. He was trying to humiliate Jane, to upset her. She had to go along with him, to fit his acting. It was a play. They both were acting. Okay, you want me to get upset...then let’s get upset. She clenched her fists and teeth, and a strange guttural growl came out of her throat, powered by her stomach. She was not even forcing herself into it. Jane was angry, and this sound was the first thing she felt like to do. As a warning: don’t mess with me.

Now, nobody was laughing. Nobody was breathing too loudly. Everybody was watching, wondering if what’s happening in front of them was really acting. Masumi smiled. She was completely following him, a feeling he enjoyed a lot too much: “Finally things are becoming interesting.” He put off his jacket and wrapped it around his arm.  He shook it before Jane, to provoke her.

“Come on! Jane!”

Sakurakoji wanted to interfere, but Kuronuma commended him to wait and see. The photographs were overjoyed. The Daito Vice-President fighting with Kuronuma’s wolf girl at Isadora’s opening show. That was definitely a headline! Flashes were surrounding them, while the audience was growing more interested by the incoming show.

Kuronuma couldn’t believe his eyes. Could it be that Masumi Hayami was actually advantaging their show by making publicity on purpose, putting his own image in the risk? All those two had to do now, was to go along with each other, and to improvise this happening into a great show. If they could do that, then the Forgotten Wilderness would get audience. Maya would get an Award. Was it possible that Masumi Hayami calculated all this?

“Come on!” Masumi said to Jane “What’s wrong, wolf girl? Your food is on the floor! If you want it, try to take it!” Then, Masumi swished his jacket toward Jane, but she dodged it, again, and again each time he was trying, making him almost loses his balance. Then, Mausmi swished the jacket at the same moment when Jane leaped to get it, and his thigh accidentally hit her belly quite hard. But she landed with agility like a real animal. Masumi was shocked. If she was in pain, she wasn’t showing it. Instead, she seemed more upset than ever, and her growling became louder and angrier. Her eyes were reflecting a deep, absolute wildness. She was no longer human. Jane was truly looking at them.

“That’s it!” Kuronuma exclaimed out of joy. “That’s Jane’s face! You did it, Kitajima!”

“Sensei...”

“Sakurakoji, I appreciate you, but if you stop them I swear to God I will punch your light out!”

Jane dashed herself toward the chicken wing, but at the last moment, Masumi kicked the meat out of the way. Jane tried to get it again, but with a swish of his jacket, Masumi got the food away again. Jane threw herself in the new direction, but this time, Masumi slapped her face violently, and Jane fell on her back. She didn’t scream, or say anything, but her pain was obvious. Masumi feared for a second that he hit her too hard. But she finally sat up and glared at him, her growling showing her teeth.

“Maya-chan!” Sakurakoji screamed, and he came closer to check on her. Kuronuma grabbed an ashtray and held it up, threatening Yuu to throw it at his face. “I told you: do NOT interfere with her!”

Masumi smirked at him. “Exactly: People who are not involved should get out of the way, Sakurakoji Yuu!”

Shocked, Yuu backed away, still staring at Maya that could temporally not hear him.

Jane was making Maya into getting upset very badly. She got up on her four paws and roared furiously, glaring at Masumi who was mostly relieved to see she was alright, but also impressed. “Alright, that’s the spirit. Come! Jane!”

But when she dashed herself to her food, Masumi quickly picked it up and threw it behind him. The wing dropped on the top of a flight of steps. The only way to get the food was now to pass through Masumi Hayami, who was purposely standing in the way. ‘Go on, what’s the matter? Your meal is at the top of the stairs!”

Be careful, Hayami-san, I’m not a human being. Things could get very ugly if you go on like that.

“Or will you run away with you tail between your legs? Oops, you don’t have a tail, do you?” And then he burst into laughing. Which was more than Jane could bear. Shaking with anger, she decided to end this one and for all. She dashed toward Masumi, dodged the jacked, and reached the hand that was holding it, which she bit as hard as she could. She clearly heard Masumi trying to suppress a moan of pain, and she tasted something warm, salted and metallic in her mouth. Masumi dropped his jacked, which she grabbed with her teeth before dashing herself with agility toward her goal.

At this very moment, instead of a young actress, everyone could clearly see before their eyes, a true wild and agile wolf. This illusion made the audience gasp.

She turned round, facing an astonished Masumi Hayami, and let go of the jacket. She dared him with her eyes, doing to Masumi, without even realizing it, exactly as the mother wolf did to her. She dared him with her two wide opened wild eyes. Seeing that he wouldn’t move, she got up the stairs with grace, in the respectfully silent room, and protecting the chicken wing between her four paws, she dared the audience, in a glare clearly saying: It’s mine.

Then her glare went to Masumi, who had his friendly smile back on his face. “Well done, Chibi-chan, you won.”

Jane blinked, and Maya appeared back. She straightened herself on her own two feet. The show was done, and Kuronuma quickly had to deal with the numerous reporters that wanted to know more about the Forgotten Wilderness. Fortunately, no one was paying attention to Maya and Masumi anymore.

Time had stopped. A great euphoria was overwhelming her but she couldn’t move for now. She feared that she would faint if she tried to walk down the stair by herself right now. Taking her breathe back, she couldn’t stop staring at Masumi, mostly because he was staring back at her, his wide eyes absorbing her with their warm and joyful expression. A wide smile was painted on his face, and Maya was only half-aware of the fact that she was grinning like a silly too. She was feeling like her heart was light and filled with warmth and electricity, which at every beat was being delivered to her entire body. She was feeling dizzy, a really agreeable thing to feel. A sensation of triumph and joy she only remembered feeling while she was on stage, and after and play. But this time, this had nothing to do with acting. Not even with her performance of Jane right now. She was just feeling...happy. And for the first time, she wanted to share this feeling with someone else. But not just anyone: Hayami-san. It had to be him. She wanted to thank him, to express her great happiness to him right now.

The weirdest thing was she had the impression that he was feeling the same way. His eyes were glowering with the same level of pleasure and joy as hers. Was he feeling happy? Was he as happy as her right now? She had never seen such an expression on his face. Her heart was certainly about to explode, and her to burst into laughing. Was it the same for him? She wanted to know. As if they were thinking the same thing at the same time, they started to walk toward each other, but then, suddenly...

“Masumi-sama!” said a soft and worried voice. “You’re bleeding!”

Shiori rushed toward her beloved one with an obvious concern. It’s only then that the two ex-partners paid attention to the bleeding wound Masumi had on his hand. Maya was on a guilt trip. His blood was still on her tongue. Masumi glanced at Shiori and reassured her, but she wouldn’t listen and insisted to bondage his hand with her handkerchief. “But...” Masumi glanced at Maya who looked away as soon as their eyes met, and his heartbeat increased with worry. What was this expression just now? She was so happy, but as soon as Shiori came up her face completely changed. It wasn’t exactly the first time, thought. Last time, when they came out of the elevator and that Shiori was waiting for him, she cried and ran away.

“There, it’s done. You should come with me, now, Masumi-sama. There are many reporters here...”

While taking Masumi away, she glared at Maya who startled with surprise and her gaze followed them. Sakurakoji came across the lot to nearer to her. A change in her look had alarmed him. “Maya, Are you okay?” But Maya didn’t answer him “You’re pale...and your hands are shaking. Did you hurt yourself?” But he got no answer but her gaze following the President Hayami.

She could hear Yuu’s voice, but his words were meaningless. Her mind was blank. She couldn’t move. This feeling... She had felt it before. Now she realized it. All those things she felt today, added to the sadness and pain she was suffering right now...all those emotions...Masumi just disappeared in the crowd but she didn’t wanted him to leave the place. It was like she was left in an unfinished conversation, and completely left behind. She almost missed him. A lack of something, added to a desire and a suffering. That was it! That was this feeling she felt before! That was the feeling she felt listening Träumerei! Not when she heard it on the CD, not even in the Villa, but when she listened to it for the first time. She found it! The person who played Träumerei, that person was Masumi Hayami!

It was during the time when she was living at Ayumi’s place, in order to grasp the heart of Aldis, the beautiful princess living with happiness in a great castle. One day, she heard a piano in a living room, so she walked down the stairs to see who was home.

“You can play the piano, Hayami-san?”

“I learned when I was a child. Do you know this melody?”

“Hum...well, to be honest it rings a bell but...”

“It’s Schumann’s Träumerei. Now I can only play this...”

All this time, the song was reminding her Hayami Masumi! That was him: this person. Maya’s heart stopped.

Mr Purple Rose.