Chapter 19:

New Beginnings

Will The Stars Remember My Name?

Ryuuji stared outside the window. He hadn't said anything at the dining table but he knew that they had met Hinata before. He saw Ryouta and Hinata walking in the garden and frowned.Bookmark here

"Master Ryuuji, is everything alright?"Bookmark here

Ryuuji turned around to see Himawari looking at him with concern. Behind her, the oddly dressed man was lying face first on his bed and snoring loudly. Bookmark here

Ryuuji realised his eyebrows were scrunched as he was trying to remember who Hinata was exactly. He eased his face and politely laughed, "Of course, of course. Everything is per-fect!"Bookmark here

"Master Ryuuji, you're a terrible liar."Bookmark here

For once, Ryuuji was at a loss of words. He scratched his head and chuckled nervously. He looked at Himawari's clear brown eyes only to see his own reflected back at him. He knew Himawari could be trusted, not because she was loyal to those she served, but simply because she had no reason to betray. Bookmark here

Himawari was a thinker, not a feeler. She always took logical decisions and even dealt with emotions just as a complex response to stimuli. Bookmark here

He gathered up courage and said a bit hesitantly, "Um... Himawari, I don't know how to put this but I remember seeing Hinata before. I faintly remember her ginger hair and her... Poised demeanour. Do you know anything about that?"Bookmark here

"Hmm... I wonder. I was still a trainee back then but I believe all three of you went to the same elementary school. But why do you ask?"Bookmark here

Ryuuji clenched his fists. Bookmark here

"Hina-chan... I finally remember her." He muttered under his breath. Bookmark here

Ignoring her question, he said, "Thanks a lot Himawari, you were a big help. Tell Mr. Ichinose that we loved the food and we will definitely visit whenever he wishes to see us again. Unfortunately, we won't be staying the night today."Bookmark here

He looked outside to see Ryouta staring at Hinata in shock. Bookmark here

"But master Ryuuji, I have been ordered to-"Bookmark here

"It's just for today Miss. Himawari Hamamoto." Said Ryuuji, a bit more assertively.Bookmark here

"Understood. I'll inform Mr. Ichinose that you had to leave early because of unprecedented circumstances. Then, let me show you the way out."Bookmark here

With a polite smile, Ryuuji thanked her, "Thank you Himawari. I appreciate this a lot."Bookmark here

"Of course, it is my duty. Three years ago, I was given the order by Master Daigo to treat you both as part of the family. I will always serve you as long as Daigo Ichinose wishes."Bookmark here

She bowed and then opened the door for Ryuuji.Bookmark here

"After you, Master Ryuuji."Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

On the way back to home, the two brothers didn't speak much. There were too many people on the bus and they couldn't find some private space to talk. Ryuuji had come in at just the right moment. Ryouta recalled just standing there, refreshing his memories when Ryuuji popped out of the house and apologized for leaving early. He dragged Ryouta away somehow, and left Hinata standing there with a sad smile. Bookmark here

When the two finally made it home, they avoided the topic and immediately started doing chores. They worked the entire evening, cleaning the house, doing laundry, preparing a light supper and much more. It was finally during dinner when Ryuuji spoke about Hinata.Bookmark here

"So, Ryo," said Ryuuji, playing with his food, "I guess you remembered Hina-chan."Bookmark here

"Yeah... It was her. I didn't know she was the daughter of Mr. Ichinose. But it makes sense... He did say that she left 5 years ago."Bookmark here

"Ah! So that would mean..."Bookmark here

"Yes. That was probably the reason why she left suddenly."Bookmark here

Ryouta didn't take a second serving. Apart from the reason that he had had a grand feast for lunch, he was lost in thought to have any appetite. Bookmark here

He wondered if he would see her again. He wanted to talk to her properly. He doubted he would have been able to speak freely while at her house. He wanted to speak to her frankly, as before, not when she was putting up airs. Bookmark here

He sighed and got up quietly. He was tired after doing all those chores and went straight to bed. Ryuuji finished soon and stayed up to watch some television. After that, he called Futaba and they talked for a long time. Bookmark here

Ryuuji sat on his coach, playing with his hair and listening to Futaba.Bookmark here

"Ah, that reminds me your brother wanted to say something to everyone at Shio's birthday. He never got the opportunity to do that..."Bookmark here

"Hm? Really? I wonder what he wants to talk about. Let's call Haru-senpai and Shio-senpai near the roof tomorrow during recess."Bookmark here

"Ooh sounds good. I'll ask Ryouta if he still wants to tell us what he wanted to at that time."Bookmark here

"Mhmm. Oh that reminds me, we visited the principal today."Bookmark here

"Mr. Daigo Ichinose!? What? Really?"Bookmark here

"Yeah, he was our father's best friend you could say."Bookmark here

"Huh, you guys have your connections."Bookmark here

"Yeppp, no wonder the underworld dons call me All-Seeing Eye. I have connections everywhere and know what's going on anywhere."Bookmark here

"Ohhhhh is that really so? Then what am I doing right now Ryo?"Bookmark here

"Hmm... Wait a minute. My mind is telling me that you're going to take a bath soon and right now you're slowly getting undressed."Bookmark here

"That's just your lewd imagination, not an 'All Seeing Eye'!"Bookmark here

"Pfft- Well, I'm pretty sure you're reading a book."Bookmark here

"Ding ding! Correct."Bookmark here

"I always am..."Bookmark here

Futaba hummed on her phone as she read the book she was holding. Ryuuji had stopped speaking and she realised that a few moments later.Bookmark here

"Ryu? Are you there? Why're you so quiet?"Bookmark here

"I... I was just thinking... How long do we have to-"Bookmark here

Futaba interrupted him immediately, "Ryuuji, we both agreed to this. We made a deal remember? Just hold on."Bookmark here

"But I just can't see this! Everyday, it's like he's getting farther and farther from-"Bookmark here

"Ryuuji Ito," said Futaba a bit sternly this time, "I believe that is my part of the deal and I am responsible for whatever happens. Whatever I want, I will get it and in the way, we'll fulfill your wish too."Bookmark here

"..."Bookmark here

Futaba calmed down a bit and said, "Ryu, I know what you're trying to say and honestly, I'm fine with that for now. I know you really want to fulfill my wish but it doesn't make sense if it is rushed. Then there would be no meaning to it... Understand?"Bookmark here

Ryuuji clenched his fists and gritted his teeth to stop himself from shouting. Bookmark here

'Yes!' he thought, 'Of course, I understand that! But everyday, it's getting harder and harder for me to... You can't understand what I'm going through right now. How much am I holding back for your and Ryouta's sake.' Bookmark here

He breathed in deeply to calm himself and said softly, "Yeah, I understand Futaba."Bookmark here

"Good. Now go get some sleep. You've had a long day."Bookmark here

Ryuuji sighed and held his head. Bookmark here

"You're right... I'm sorry Futaba."Bookmark here

"Hey, it's alright. Both you brothers need to learn how to rely on someone else at times."Bookmark here

"Hahaha. Maybe, yeah."Bookmark here

"Goodnight Ryu."Bookmark here

"Goodnight Futaba."Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

The next day during recess, everyone came to the rooftop. Ryuuji was the first one to arrive. Then came Haruto, Shiomi and Futaba. He noticed that Haruto and Shiomi held hands and he felt warm inside. He glanced at Futaba's hand wondering if she would mind. She... Wouldn't? Would she? After all, they were supposed to be in a relationship. He came closer to her and wished her. He was about to hold her hand when his brother arrived. He immediately withdrew his hand before anyone could notice what he was trying to do. Bookmark here

"Good that everyone is here! I had... A few thoughts on my mind that I wanted to share with everyone..." Said Ryouta, a bit excited but hesitantly.Bookmark here

"I’m all ears. Go ahead!" Replied Haruto with a smile.Bookmark here

"So Um... I was thinking that all of us have been through so much together. I- I feel so happy that I have people around me that care for me. You guys have really helped me grow so much and helped me come out of my shell. I just... Want this to never end. These happy moments I spend with you all, sometimes stumbling along the way but always getting back up..." Bookmark here

He saw Ryuuji making a cringed out face.Bookmark here

"Just hear me out Ryu..."Bookmark here

Futaba hit his arm and Ryuuji looked down with guilt as Ryouta continued, "So, I just wanted a special place for ourselves. I- I thought we should make a club, with just us as members."Bookmark here

Ryouta smiled weakly, hoping that he wouldn't be shot down. Bookmark here

"Why not?"Bookmark here

Futaba smiled as she came over and stood beside Ryouta. Bookmark here

"I think it's a great idea!"Bookmark here

Ryuuji sighed, "Even though I died a thousand times listening to Ryo's speech... I think it's a decent idea."Bookmark here

Haruto and Shiomi looked at each other and came to an understanding. Bookmark here

Shiomi said, "As much as we would love to join Ryouta... We can't. Haruto has the football club and I have my art club. We've been a part of our clubs for so long, it would feel... A bit different leaving our clubs."Bookmark here

Ryouta looked down, feeling guilty for asking both of them to leave their clubs. He had forgotten that they were already a part of some other club. Bookmark here

"But, y'know," said Haruto with a bright smile, "We would still like to be honorary club members of your club. When we don't have our club activities, we can come and hangout if that's fine?"Bookmark here

"Yes! Of course! You guys will be welcomed anytime."Bookmark here

"Thank you Ryo. It means a lot. It really does."Bookmark here

Ryouta scratched his head and chuckled nervously, a bit embarrassed. Bookmark here

Futaba said, "So Ryouta, what have you decided to call this club?"Bookmark here

Ryouta smiled and said, "That's a secret for now. Once I get through the formalities, I'll tell you guys everything."Bookmark here

"Huh" said Ryuuji with a raised eyebrow, "Keeping even the name a secret?"Bookmark here

"Don't worry, you'll like it lil bro."Bookmark here

"Well if you say so..."Bookmark here

Just then the recess bell rang indicating its end. Everyone made their way downstairs while chatting and left for their classrooms. Bookmark here

Ryouta sat in his seat happy that he managed to create a place for all of them. A place where they wouldn't need any reason to hangout. A place where all of them could be themselves without worrying how the society would look at them. Even though Futaba was just the same both outside and inside, the two brothers still had to manage their personalities. They still had to come terms with themselves and Ryouta knew that wouldn't be so hard with her around.Bookmark here

The rest of the day sailed smoothly and Ryouta went to the staff room to apply for a new club. After completing all the paperwork, he quickly left for his part time jobs. After working for the rest of the evening, he ate his dinner, studied a bit and then retired to his bed. He was excited for tomorrow. The club had not just been approved but much appreciated by the teachers. Their club advisor was a science teacher and was usually busy with his own work, so he trusted Ryouta to handle the club activities. He had handed him the keys yesterday and left him to his accord to do whatever he pleased with their clubroom.Bookmark here

With a smile on his face and a peaceful look, Ryouta closed his eyes and slowly fell asleep.Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

The next day Ryouta woke up a bit late and dressed up in a frantic hurry. He couldn't miss out on school today after all! He had to introduce Futaba and Ryuuji to the new clubroom. He checked his phone to see he had an unread message by Daigo. He wondered what he would have to say early in the morning, but decided to ignore the message at that time. Bookmark here

He ate his breakfast in a hurry, wore his socks and shoes, picked up his bag and locked the door. Ryuuji had already left for school. He fast walked to quickly catch up with him.Bookmark here

When Ryouta arrived in his classroom, he was just in time. The homeroom teacher was taking roll call. Ryouta had never been tardy before and had never had to enter a classroom that was already full. A bit embarrassed, he hung his head and quickly made it to his seat at the back. Bookmark here

He decided to check Daigo's message before the first period. He opened his phone and clicked on the unread message. Bookmark here

Ryouta froze immediately when he saw the message. The homeroom teacher had finished calling out the names and got up to announce, "So everyone, we have a new transfer student today with us."Bookmark here

The door of the classroom opened, and in came a lovely young girl with ginger hair tied into a single french braid, and lovely deep sea green eyes that seemed to be fixed on Ryouta.Bookmark here

The message read: Ahh I forgot to tell you this Ryouta, my daughter will be transferring to your class today. Please take care of her!Bookmark here

The girl smiled gracefully and bowed as the class started murmuring, astonished at her beauty and elegance.Bookmark here

"Good morning everyone! My name is Hinata Ichinose and I've returned to Japan after 5 years."Bookmark here

This time looking directly at Ryouta, she said,Bookmark here

"It'll be a pleasure to know you."Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.