A/N: I don't know where this emo Tsurara came from. Sorry ahead of time for the OOC-ness!
It’s Monday, and Tsurara had been up late the night before finishing a paper. Put together with the fact that there had been another eviction notice outside her door that morning and an overly peppy Yukari chattering away next to her, the morning was shaping up to be perfectly horrible. Tsurara is massaging her temples when Yukari suddenly stopps talking and pokes her in the shoulder, whispering, “Ne, Tsurara. I think there’s a guy staring at you.” Tsurara looks blearily in the direction she was pointing, and sees a tall, bespectacled student waving timidly at her. She blinks, nodds, and turns straight ahead. “I think he likes you! Maybe he’ll ask you out, he’s cute, do you like him? If he asks you out you should totally say yes!” Tsurara starts humming to herself.
That day at lunch there’s a single flower sitting on the bench where she usually eats. There’s no one watching her, but a tree branch five feet away quivers, and she can hear a muffled curse from behind it. She smells the flower, smiling wistfully.
She’s walking up the stairs that night when she runs into him. He’s holding a white envelope out to her, and she can see his mouth moving but all she’s hearing is a steady buzz in her ears because there’s a pink heart on the envelope and she didn’t think he’d be the type of guy to go for blatant displays of affection but she’s not complaining and- “Anyway, just take the card,” he said, shoving the card into her mailbox. “And next time, make sure lover boy gets the right mailbox.” She blinks, opens the card and skims to the bottom.
From your admirer,
She flattens the sudden urge to stamp her foot.
It’s Tuesday, and Tsurara is desperately guzzling the coffee in her hands. She’d made a point to go to sleep early the night before, but had been woken up a few hours later by a dream involving coffee beans and him, lying in a pool of blood on the ground. She hadn’t fallen back asleep until dawn. She’s staring at the notebook on the desk in front of her when Yukari pokes her- hard- and says insistently, “He’s staring at you again!” She looks to where she already knows Yukari is pointing, and Naoki smiles at her. She thinks she sees a question in his eyes, but is too tired to care. She barely manages a nod.
That day at lunch there is another flower on her bench. She examines it, wishing she had the freedom of Yukari, who went out with a different boy every night. The freedom of a heart that wasn’t already shackled to a sinking ship. She smiles, because she’d read once that if you act happy, eventually it comes true.
She’s unlocking her door that night when he comes out of his, wearing a pinstriped suit and a red tie. He eyes the flower in her hand and scoffs. Normally she would answer his scoff with an annoying comment, but she’s sick of this game and she turns back into her doorway without saying anything. “Yoshida” she hears from behind her, and she turns around, a tiny hope reluctantly sparking to life in her chest. But all he says is, “if you have money for flowers, where’s your rent?” He continues down the stairs, and she’s stuck standing just inside her apartment, wishing that he wasn’t so cruel all the time.
It’s Wednesday, and Tsurara’s shirt is inside out and her skirt is backwards. Yukari is looking concerned in her general direction, but she can’t muster the strength for even a reassuring smile. She’d been woken up by muffled moans and muttering last night. Images of bodies strewn together on a bed, and a red tie lying crumpled on the floor assault her, and even Yukari’s, “He’s gesturing with his phone, Tsurara! I think he wants your number,” can't bring her out of the nightmarish trance she’s fallen into.
When she sees the flower on the bench that day, she leaves it there. She walks past the flower on the bench, out of campus, and back to the apartment. By the time she’s made it to the steps, she's angry. Desperately angry, because she feels as if the second she stopps being angry she might never feel anything again. She knocks on his door viciously. Once, twice, again and again until it opens. She looks into his face, blinking in the sunlight, and wants to say something cutting and righteous and satisfyingly devastating. But there is a rumpled red tie lying on the floor and she knows she has to get out fast.
She runs down the steps. When she stops running she's at the river. She starts laughing at the irony of it all and she laughs and laughs until it turns to sobbing. She wakes as the last sliver of sun disappears behind the buildings, and walks back to her apartment.
There is a flower on her doorstep. She looks at it for a long time, then steps on it, crushing it beneath her heel. She walks inside and lays down on her bed without undressing.
It’s Thursday and Tsurara is lying on her bed still in the clothes from yesterday. There are grass stains on her elbows and her alarm went off hours ago, but she’s still in bed. She had promised him, all those nights ago, that he’d never be alone. She had never entertained the possibility that she would be the one alone at the end.
Her cell phone rings and it’s probably Yukari, but she takes out the battery. Six hours later, when it’s already dark, she finds another flower on her doorstep. She leaves it on the doorstep, but five minutes later it’s inside on her counter in a vase. She feels a strange affinity with the flower- they’ve both been shoved on unwilling recipients, unwanted. The sight of the flower, wilted and still lying on the floor the next morning, would have made it worse, somehow.
It’s Friday and Tsurara is once again at school. She’s wide awake and doesn’t have to be poked by Yukari this morning because she’s already looking at Naoki when he starts walking towards her. He greets her and asks tentatively if he can have her number. She gives it to him immediately. When he tells her he’ll call her and she remembers another call she’d gotten months ago from a number she didn’t recognize and a voice she’d known immediately her smile doesn’t falter. Yukari is watching, and if she tells herself she’s happy, she knows sooner or later it will be true.
There’s a flower on the bench that day at lunch. Tsurara doesn’t understand why Naoki would feel the need to give her a flower after she’d already said yes, but she’s a little bit grateful. The flower looks unharmed and resilient. Tsurara smiles, and this time it’s more happy than wistful.
On the way home from school that day, Tsurara feels as if she’s taken a step back towards normalcy. (He's not the only criminal in the world, after all.) She’s almost convinced herself that when she goes out with Naoki, she’ll be able to enjoy it when she gets to the bottom of the steps. He’s standing halfway up the stairs, holding a bouquet of the flowers she’d been receiving all week. She flashes back to Monday and the mistaken card and feels the smile slide off her face. It seems unnecessarily cruel of the gods to do this to her. Tsurara’s gotten the message already, and the sight of him holding the flowers given to her by someone else is too much to take. Now he’s holding them out to her, and he’s not saying anything, and she wishes he were yelling at her like he had Monday because then he might not notice the way her lips are shaking and her nails are biting into her palm. But he notices, and he takes a step down. He’s still staring at her as he takes another step down and she feels like she’s suffocating but she can’t turn away. So she closes her eyes.
“Yoshida,” he whispers so gently it’s like a caress on her skin. She opens her eyes and he’s so close that she can’t help but to meet his eyes. She’d never thought of herself as a masochist before, but she supposes that everyone has their weakness and she’s clearly met hers.
He says her name, more insistently and she realizes he’s saying something to her. “I didn’t know what kind of flowers you liked,” he says, almost like a challenge. “Hayase-san said you wouldn’t like roses, so, I thought that- here.” He lets out a sharp breath and curls her fingers around the flowers. She stares at him, and he fidgets under her stare.
She hears herself say, “What about the girl you were with that night?” He looks confused, and she says, “I heard moans. And the next morning, the tie. On the floor.”
He looks embarrassed and she feels a sort of disgusted satisfaction and starts to turn away, but he says, “It was a dream. My father, he-” before he’s cut off by Tsurara suddenly turning around. She’s smiling in a way he hasn’t seen her smile since that night with the fireworks and he’s slightly confused as to why his dream makes her so happy. But the next moment she’s taking his hand and he’s too busy staring at their intertwined fingers to be confused anymore.
He pulls her to him and she puts her arms around him, still holding on to the flowers.
It's Saturday, and Tsurara wakes up in his arms.