Captured Confessions – Chapter Three
by Dreams in Pink
|← Chapter 2||Chapter 4 →|
By the following afternoon, the sun had chased the rain away, and the Tokyo streets were once again bright and busy. Mamoru made his usual trek to the arcade to find an impatient Motoki waiting for his arrival.
“So, did you catch up with her?” he asked as soon as Mamoru was within earshot. The man nodded as he took his seat, tiredly rubbing his eyes. “Well at least you didn’t kill each other.” He winked, soon catching on to Mamoru’s expectant glare. “You look like shit,” Motoki noted, turning to pour his friend a cup of coffee.
“I didn’t really sleep,” Mamoru replied, inhaling the coffee’s comforting aroma.
“The doctor is in, if you want to talk about it,” he offered, all too eager to forgo his arcade duties.
“Is that off?” Mamoru pointed to the video camera that had been sitting on the counter, eyeing it suspiciously.
“It is now,” Motoki lied, switching the button to record, and thanking the heavens for black, permanent markers. “So?” he asked intently, palms pressed against the counter in anticipation.
“So?” Mamoru raised his brow, still unsure whether sharing with Motoki was a good idea.
“You caught up with her and…” the blond started the story, barely able to contain his excitement; he knew they were meant to be together.
“She eventually let me take her home.” Mamoru’s succinct answer made Motoki’s lip twitch in annoyance – he needed more.
“Did you two fight the entire way to her house?” he prodded, hoping for a far more detailed story.
“No,” Mamoru shook his head. “No, it was… quiet,” he said, his mind flitting back to the awkward glances and brief dialogue. He should have said more. “I don’t know why I have such a hard time around her.” He sighed, and ran a strong hand through his uncharacteristically messy hair.
“Maybe it’s because you have feelings for her?” Motoki ventured, choosing his words cautiously and taking a small step backwards in preparation for the possible onslaught. However, this time, Mamoru didn’t deny it.
“It doesn’t matter if I do,” he snorted dejectedly, “I’ve ruined my chances with her.”
“You do know that this is Usagi we’re talking about, right?” Motoki cocked his brow. “She doesn’t hold grudges, she’ll give you another chance.” Despite his brilliant scheme, Motoki hoped that his pep talk would convince Mamoru to finally move forward. “But maybe you should tell her how you feel,” he suggested.
“How can I tell her how I feel when I don’t even know that myself?” Mamoru replied, beginning to grow exasperated. Motoki looked at him disapprovingly; he knew exactly how he felt about the girl. “I’m so damn frustrated,” he mumbled, clenching his hand into a fist.
“Sexually?” the blond nodded sympathetically.
“Motoki,” Mamoru warned, his face stern and tone sharp. He was definitely not in any sort of mood to joke around.
“Just asking.” He raised his hands in surrender. “So basically, you really like her, and don’t know how to tell her,” he concluded, his face aching from holding back a giant grin.
“Yeah,” Mamoru conceded. “She doesn’t get that I’m just messing around when I tease her,” he said, heart wracked with guilt. He had never truly meant to hurt Usagi, but the sight of her riled up was too tempting to resist.
“And you tease her because…” Motoki urged, eyebrows raised as he waited for Mamoru to finish the sentence.
“You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you.” A lump rose in Mamoru’s throat as Motoki bobbed his head fervently.
“It’s all part of my therapy style,” he explained, causing Mamoru to roll his eyes. “Well?”
“Fine, I like Usagi,” he said, and although part of him felt like a weight had been lifted, he kept face and feigned indignation. “Are you happy now?” Motoki nodded.
“So, why don’t you just ask her out?” Motoki wondered as that seemed like the obvious solution.
“Because what we have now is better than her avoiding me,” Mamoru admitted, truly realizing for the first time that what he saw in Usagi was something worth holding onto.
“You just need to jump in there, and stop being so scared,” the blond advised, unable to clearly understand the reasoning behind Mamoru’s stubbornness.
“I can’t lose her,” he whispered, embarrassed at the confession. His jaw clenched, and he stared ahead, unwilling to make eye contact. Motoki’s features softened; at least everything made sense now – Mamoru was afraid of suffering the same feelings of loss that he had so many years ago.
“You really do like her.” Motoki felt his heart swell – he was going to make this work. “Listen, I know your past hasn’t made it easy for you to-” Motoki stopped when he caught the panicked look on Mamoru’s face.
“Okay,” Mamoru said, releasing an uncomfortable sigh. He was definitely not ready to delve further into his sealed emotions, “that’s enough ‘therapy’ for today.”
“Suit yourself,” he shrugged, “I still think you should at least talk to her.” In an attempt to ease the mood, he slid Mamoru a fresh cup of coffee. The conversation between the pair died down, both reflecting on the secrets that had been shared. Motoki went back to work, catching up on the duties he had let fall behind.
As Motoki began grabbing the clean glasses to stack under the counter, the camera caught his attention. He knelt down, snaking his arm up and discretely flicking off the device. All feelings of guilt had subsided, and he knew he was doing the right thing – for both of them.
“Hey, why don’t you come over this weekend and we’ll watch movies or something?” Motoki asked, popping up from his kneeled position, and interrupting Mamoru’s silent train of thought. Relieved for the shift in subject, Mamoru smiled.
“Last time you said something along that line, we somehow ended up stuck in the middle of nowhere-” Motoki put up his finger, silencing his friend.
“Never again. We promised not to mention that ever again.” He shook his head solemnly. “So, are you game or not?”
“Sure,” Mamoru agreed, his stature relaxing as he took a sip of his coffee, then settled to read the newspaper.
“It’ll be great.” Motoki grinned, a mischievous glint sparkling in his baby blue eyes. “Just great,” he repeated under his breath, the anticipation building.
With the weekend fast approaching, Motoki still had to complete phase two of his brilliant plan. He had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to confront Usagi, wondering if he could get her to admit anything at all. Realizing that he might need a little help, the perfect accomplice bounded up to the counter.
“Minako! Where are the other girls?” he asked, glancing behind her for the rest of her usual party.
“Makoto is just in the washroom, and Ami and Usagi are meeting Rei on their way here after they’re done at school.” Minako tapped her fingertips as she rattled off her friend’s whereabouts.
“Perfect,” Motoki cooed, an artful arch pulling at his brow.
“Why?” Minako replied warily; Motoki had that look on his face.
“Would you help me with something?” he asked sweetly, turning on his full charm.
“Sure, just name it,” Minako smiled, apprehension gone as she hopped onto a stool and tossed her golden hair over her shoulder.
“Do you think Usagi likes Mamoru?” Minako shot him a deadpanned expression, eyes straight and head dipped to the side – what a ridiculous question. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Motoki chuckled. “Do you think you could get her to admit to that?”
“I’ve been trying for weeks,” Minako admitted, “and have gotten nowhere.” She shook her head in defeat – Usagi was stubborn when she wanted to be.
“How about giving it one more shot, for me?” Motoki pleaded, batting his lashes and pouting. “And preferably with this on.” He placed the camera in front of Minako, who pursed her lips in thought. “I have a fool proof plan,” he insisted.
“She won’t even admit it to herself, what makes you think you’ll get her to confess in a video?” Minako mulled the idea over in her mind.
“Give it a try? It’s for their own good, I promise,” Motoki begged, clasping his hands together with hope.
“Okay,” Minako agreed, nodding her head slowly as her fingers inched towards the device. “But you can’t upload it,” she said sternly.
“I won’t, I swear,” he promised, holding up two fingers as his scout’s honour.
“What are you two talking about?” Makoto wondered, joining Minako at the counter. The blonde jumped, quickly pulling her hand away from the camera.
“Nothing, just talking about the weather,” Minako lied, absentmindedly fixing the bow in her hair.
“Right,” Makoto replied skeptically, raising her brow at the pair who smiled innocently. “The other girls will be here soon, let’s go grab a booth,” she suggested, choosing to ignore whatever harebrained scheme the two blondes were cooking.
“Sounds good,” Minako said, sliding off the stool and following Makoto to their favourite table.
Arms linked, Usagi, Ami, and Rei finally arrived at their destination, the petite blonde nearly dragging her partners inside. She glanced at the counter, noting that Mamoru was not in his usual place, and without a moment of hesitation, masked her disappointment with a bright smile.
“I’ll meet you guys there in a second,” Usagi said, freeing herself from the chain and skipping over to Motoki. Rei and Ami made their way to the booth, as both Minako and Makoto shuffled to one end of the red vinyl seat to make enough space.
“Sorry we’re late,” Ami said sheepishly, “I got a bit carried away in the library.” She leaned down to pat the heavily packed bag that had fallen with a thud to the floor.
“And you know how chatty my grandpa can be,” Rei added, smiling apologetically at her friends.
“Don’t worry about it,” Minako replied cheerfully, waving it off as nothing.
“Where’s Usagi?” Makoto asked, noting that the blonde was nowhere to be seen.
“She stopped to talk to Motoki.” Rei motioned her head in their general direction.
As soon as her friend’s backs were turned, Usagi slowed her pace. Her stomach had been swollen with a ball of anxiety ever since she returned home the night before. She had packed Mamoru’s jacket in a plastic bag, and hidden it in her backpack, leaving her textbooks behind and accepting yet another hour of detention. She knew she had to give it back to him, but the thought of her friends seeing the gesture and jumping to hear the story of how she got it in the first place made her heart pound. Her cheeks flushed rose every time she replayed the memory of his strong hand grasping hers. The entire thing had felt surreal, and if it weren’t for his jacket secretly packed away in her bag, she would have sworn she had dreamt the entire thing.
“Hey, Usagi!” Motoki called, waving as she reluctantly approached.
“Hi,” she replied, looking nervously over her shoulder to ensure her friends weren’t paying attention. The girl dug through her backpack. “Could you give this to Mamoru?” she asked, sliding the wrapped blazar across the counter towards the blond. Motoki opened the bag to see what was inside.
“I think you should give it to him.” He closed the opening, and pushed it back.
“You’ll probably see him first,” Usagi said forcefully, nudging it closer to the blond. The man shook his head, determined not to give in; she wasn’t getting off this easily.
“I’d probably end up losing it and then we’d both be in trouble.” Motoki smiled as he once again moved the package towards the girl. Usagi glowered at him, and frowned.
“Fine,” she sighed, shoving the bag into her backpack, and shuffling off to join her friends.
Once the girls had placed their orders, they settled into idle conversation. Motoki trotted over with their food and drinks and the group readily dug in. Before leaving, he pulled the camera out from the front of his apron.
“Here’s the camera like I promised,” he said, setting it front of Minako who had momentarily forgotten about her mission. “It’s all ready to go,” he stated pointedly, hoping she would catch on to the insinuation – the camera was already rolling.
“Thanks, Motoki!” the blonde grinned, picking it up to give it a once over, before placing it back on the table, lens facing Usagi.
“Why do you have Motoki’s camera?” Usagi wondered, picking a fry off her plate, and dragging it through a pile of ketchup.
“I… I wanted to try to make some of my own videos,” Minako stammered, finishing her lie with an awkward smile.
“About what?” Usagi asked, genuinely interested in her friend’s endeavour.
“Uh, well…” Minako took a large gulp of her milkshake, stalling as she formulated her answer.
“Yes, Minako, we’d love to hear about your video ideas.” Rei batted her long lashes – she instantly knew something was up.
“About… love.” She gritted her teeth, shooting Rei an irritated glare.
“Love?” Makoto repeated.
“I’m going to give love advice, online, to… lonely people,” she explained, feeling a sense of relief as Usagi nodded; at least one of her friends was completely convinced. “Speaking of love advice and lonely people…” Minako silently applauded herself on her segue. “Have you given any more thought to the comments from that video Motoki posted?” Ami, Rei, and Makoto glanced at each other – what were the two blondes up to?
“What video?” Usagi played innocent, choosing to forget that that video and those comments ever existed.
“The one of you and Mamoru,” Minako replied flatly. Rei leaned in, curious to see where the confrontation would lead.
“What? No, why?” Usagi blushed, shaking her head vigorously.
“Because everyone can see it,” Minako crooned, stopping to take a sip of her thick, vanilla milkshake.
“See what?” Usagi prayed that if she feigned ignorance for long enough, the subject would be dropped.
“That you like him,” Rei answered slyly, and although she was completely reveling in making her friend uncomfortable, she also agreed that it was about time for Usagi to come to terms with her feelings.
“There is nothing between us,” the blonde grunted, staring down into her glass and refusing to make eye contact.
“You know, you’ve never actually denied liking him,” Ami said thoughtfully, watching the red creep up the tips of Usagi’s ears. The other girls momentarily paused as they considered Ami’s observation – she was right.
“You’re blushing,” Makoto noted, causing Usagi to scowl.
“What is this, an intervention?” she slumped back into the seat, crossing her arms over her chest. “We fight all the time and he teases me every day.”
“Well you know what they say, boys always tease girls they like,” Minako sang, and Ami, Rei, and Makoto bobbed their heads in agreement.
“Yeah, when you’re like, five.” Usagi sighed in annoyance. “Nothing will ever happen between us,” she reiterated.
“Why do you think that?” Makoto looked at Usagi with a newfound understanding. It wasn’t that Usagi wasn’t interested in Mamoru, it was that she figured she didn’t have a shot. The blonde shrugged, unwilling to answer.
“Okay,” Minako regrouped, shifting to sit on her knees. “Let’s try something different,” she said earnestly, “yes or no answers only.” She waited for Usagi to hesitantly agree. “Do you see Mamoru almost every day?”
“Yes.” She furrowed her brow; what did that have to do with anything?
“Do you talk to him every time you see him?” Minako asked. Usagi chewed the inside of her cheek, trying desperately to think of answer that couldn’t be twisted.
“Well, he –”
“Yes or no,” Rei interrupted, strictly adhering to the rules of the game.
Usagi growled, glaring at her friend. “… yes.”
“Do you think he is attractive?” Minako continued, four pairs of eyes started at Usagi, waiting in anticipation for her reply.
“I’m not answering that,” she snorted, pigtails swinging as she shook her head.
“So, yes.” The violet-eyed miko smiled, grabbing an edamame pod, and pushing the beans into her mouth.
“I didn’t say yes,” Usagi countered, her patience growing thin.
“Oh, so you’re saying he’s not.” Makoto glanced at Minako, who winked approvingly.
“I’m not saying that,” Usagi admitted, unable to deny the fact that Mamoru was, regardless of his attitude towards her, a very attractive man. “Everyone knows he’s hot,” she cried, exasperated.
“Do you ever think about him when he’s not around?” Minako wiggled her brows, which only served to redden the stain on Usagi’s fair skin.
“That’s not really a fair-” The words died in her throat upon seeing her friend’s unimpressed pursed lips and raised brows. “Yes.” She clenched her jaw, her hands fiddling with the ends of her hair. “Can we talk about something else?” she begged.
“Sure, when you admit that you like Mamoru, we can talk about something else,” Minako flashed a saccharine smile.
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, he’s a good guy.” Ami laid a sympathetic hand on Usagi’s arm. It was unusual to see Usagi so secretive about her emotions, and Ami could only link that to one reason: fear. Fear of being mocked, fear of being rejected, fear of change. Ami completely empathized with what the blonde was struggling through, and began to feel guilty about harping on the subject. Usagi lifted her eyes to Ami’s, her lips pulling into a silent thank you.
With a bout of strength, Usagi turned back to Minako. “Why are you so convinced that I even like him?” She applauded herself on her diversion tactic – answer a question with a question.
“Because you’re not as good of an actress as you think you are,” Minako quipped, desperately trying to think of something to say to get Usagi to confess.
Pretending to be busy cleaning the table next to them, Motoki made sure he was out of Usagi’s line of sight. He caught Minako’s attention, and animatedly mouthed, ‘Ask about the car…’ while mimicking a steering wheel with his hands. Minako squinted her eyes, trying desperately to read his lips. Makoto choked back a laugh watching his spirited display.
“What about the car… drive?” she asked, watching as Motoki shook his head, mouthing the word again. “Raid,” she corrected, furrowing her brow – that couldn’t be correct. Slapping his forehead, Motoki tried again. “RIDE,” Minako yelled. “What about the car ride?”
“What car ride?” Usagi’s face blanched; how could they possibly know?
“Yesterday.” Minako said, understanding Motoki’s wild motions as he pointed behind him, his mouth silently exaggerating the answer. Motoki shot his partner in crime and enthusiastic thumbs up, and went back to wiping down the table.
“Mamoru took you for a car ride yesterday?” Makoto asked, surprised at the news.
“He just drove me home,” Usagi said, her stomach tied in knots. “It was raining and thundering and lightning,” she continued, trying in vain to play it off as if it had meant nothing to her. “And it was the most awkward car ride of my life.” She pushed her plate away, no longer wanting to finish the remaining bites of food. Her mind took her back to the events of the drive, and she felt the heat rise to her cheeks.
“Probably because you like each other and are both too stubborn to admit it,” Rei muttered, stabbing the melting ice cubes in her drink with her straw.
“He held my hand and I liked it,” Usagi blurted, unable to hold it. Her heart raced and she swallowed nervously. Why did this seem like such a big deal?
“That is not at all what I was expecting,” Minako said, eyes wide and lips curved.
“He was just trying to be nice,” she quickly added, poking at a fallen piece of lettuce on her plate. The thought of his gesture being meaningless made her heart ache.
As if reading her thoughts, Rei sighed. “Usagi, if you can honestly tell us that you’re not interested in him at all, we’ll leave you alone.” She promised, as Minako narrowed her eyes – that was not part of the plan!
“I just –” Usagi licked her lips, as her four closest friends waited with bated breath. “I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like him,” she said carefully, shoulders hunched as she picked the nail polish off her fingers.
“Are you saying that you like Mamoru?” Makoto asked gently.
“A little.” Usagi bit her lip, and lifted her gaze. “…Yes,” she admitted.
“You should –” Minako stopped when Rei put a hand on her shoulder, and shook her head; Usagi had had enough pushing for today.
With Usagi’s confession finally pulled out, the girls returned to their light-hearted conversation. The nervous beating of her heart had slowed, and Usagi carefully looked over her shoulder, wondering if Mamoru had come in. Instead, she saw Motoki cheerfully making his way towards their booth.
“Do you ladies need anything else?” he asked, looking purposely at Minako.
“Nope, we’re good!” she beamed, as they all began to stack their plates.
“Thanks,” Motoki smiled, loading the dishes onto his tray. “Oh, before I forget, my folks are out of town, so I was wondering if you girls wanted to come over tomorrow for a movie night?”
“Sounds fun,” Usagi grinned, her face lighting up at the invitation. What could be better than spending a Saturday night with your best friends and some good movies?
“Definitely,” Minako nodded her head excitedly. “I’ll bring DVDs from my collection!” she volunteered, completely unaware of Motoki’s true intentions.
“I’m in,” Rei readily agreed, still convinced that Motoki was up to something.
“Me too,” Ami chimed, taking out her phone and adding the night to her schedule.
“Do you want us to bring anything?” Makoto offered, mentally shuffling through recipes, having already decided to bake some treats regardless of Motoki’s answer.
“No, just come around seven,” he said, mentally walking through the steps of his plan.
“We’ll be there,” Usagi cheered, clasping her hands in excitement.
With dishes cleared and orders paid for, the group of friends decided it was time to call it a day. They gathered their bags and backpacks, making their way towards the door. Clutching the camera in her hand, Minako stopped in her tracks.
“You guys go ahead, I just want to ask Motoki a few questions,” she explained, holding up the device. Buying the excuse, her friends bid her a brief farewell before heading out.
“Did you get it?” Motoki asked, eyes shifting suspiciously as Minako set the camera on the counter.
“I did,” she confirmed, hand resting on the device. “Will you tell me why now?”
Motoki leaned in, checking over his shoulder for any eavesdroppers. Minako licked her lips in anticipation, her shoulders shrinking in an attempt to appear discrete. “No,” he whispered, earning a large frown and smack on the shoulder from the blonde.
“Jerk,” she murmured, standing straight and crossing her arms over her chest.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” he promised.
“Fine,” Minako huffed, a dramatic pout forming on her lips. She looked at Motoki sternly, “just remember –”
“I know, no uploading,” he winked, and Minako shook her finger as a warning. Motoki chuckled to himself as the girl skipped away, taking the camera from the counter and running it to his bag for safe storing. With phase two finally completed, Motoki turned back to his work duties, whistling happily as he tended to customers. Tomorrow was the big day.
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