Until Then
Until Then
Author: Olivia Sera

Until Then: Prologue

"Will you marry me?" The question that every woman had hoped to hear. Mikoto Ayane stood in the center of an empty restaurant, her boyfriend, Takechi Kenji, whom she has been dating for 3 years, kneeled in front of her with a ring asking for her hand. Speechless, tears started welling in her eyes. She slowly nodded her head and offered her hand to Kenji. With a nervous chuckle, Kenji took her hand and placed the ring on her finger.

"I love you." Kenji spoke as he stood up and kissed Ayane. "Thank you for making me the happiest man alive."

The memory rang in Ayane's head as she stood by the doorway of their bedroom. Her eyes were stuck to the two bodies asleep in each other's arms. Clothes scattered all around the bedroom floor. She dropped her bag onto the floor creating a loud bang, waking up the two. When he had come to, Kenji saw his fiancée crying by the doorway. He looked at the sleeping woman next to him and realized what had happened.

"Ayane… It's not what you think." He said while desperately trying to get out of bed. "Let me explain…"

Ayane, with tears in her eyes, had decided to leave. She thought of running away but the pain she felt had consumed all her energy. She couldn't believe her best friend, Saiko Miyu, had slept with her fiancée.

"Ayane… wait." Kenji followed Ayane into the living room and tried to explain. "Listen to me, please."

"What else is there to explain?" Her voice cracked. "I need to go."

Ayane turned her back on Kenji but he wrapped his arms around her. He begged for her to listen to him but she was too broken to listen. She tried to push him away but Kenji was persistent. He held onto her tightly, afraid that if he let her go, he won't see her again.

"Please let me go, Kenji." Ayane begged with tears in her eyes. "We'll talk later when I've cleared my head."

Ayane managed to pull herself away from his grasps. She ran out to the driveway, got in her car and left. She didn't know where to go but she kept on driving. Her vision blurred from her tears which she furiously wiped away. With tears in her eyes, she went to the only place she knew of where it would be silent.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Kenji furiously woke up Miyu. It's all her fault; he thought. Miyu opened her eyes and saw a furious Kenji towering over her. She smiled at him but he was in no mood to be smiling.

"Good morning." She spoke without knowing what had happened. "What's going on?"

"Get out of my house!" Kenji shouted. His loud voice startled Miyu. She looked at him with worried expression.

"Why are you like this?" She asked. Kenji filled with rage, threw her clothes at her and told her to get dressed.

"You spiked my drink last night and you slept with me on purpose." Kenji spouted at her. Miyu was surprised that Kenji found out her plan but it was too late now. She got dressed and walked closer to Kenji.

"It's too late now. Something happened between us." She said confidently. She tried to touch Kenji's face but he slapped her hand away.

"Get out of here. I have to find Ayane." Kenji picked up his car keys and proceeded to walk out the room.

"It's always Ayane." Miyu shouted. "Why is it always her?"

Kenji stopped dead in his tracks and turned back to face Miyu.

"I liked you first. Ever since we were little, I was the one who was always there by your side. Why can't you like me instead?" Miyu recalled her memories of when she and Kenji were little. She was the one who can cheer him up whenever he was sad. She recalled her memories of them playing outside during the snow and how she eventually developed her feeling for him.

"Get in the car." Kenji sighed and opened the door for Miyu. "I'm taking you home."

Miyu got in the car and Kenji drove to the direction of her house. Thinking that the situation couldn't get any worse, Kenji decides to go and have a drink after he takes Miyu home. Miyu on the other hand, had a different idea. When she was dropped off at her house, she immediately called her father and told her what had happened between her and Kenji.

"What?! He should take responsibility. Don't worry, sweetie. Dad will fix this." He hung up on her. Miyu knew what she wanted and she'd do anything for it. The Saikos and the Takechis were two of the wealthiest families in Tokyo. Miyu and Kenji have known each other since they were little because of the connections between their families. Miyu's parents wanted her to marry Kenji for political reasons but Ayane jumped into the picture. The Takechis accepted her as if she was one of their own.

As for Ayane, she was not from a rich family. She had neither parents nor siblings. Kenji and her first met during high school and they've started dating when they were in college. At first, the Takechis thought that she only wanted money from Kenji but she proved her love for him and his parents accepted her. Ayane would work multiple jobs during her college days to pay for her tuition. Kenji offered to pay her tuition for her but she refused. Their love blossomed over time until the day Kenji finally proposed to her.

Now everything came crashing down.

Ayane had turned her car around and drove back to Kenji's house. It was no longer their house seeing as she had no place in it. Kenji's car was not in the driveway when she came back. As quickly as she could, she took out all her clothes and packed them up in her luggage. She brought everything except for the ones that Kenji gave her. She had decided not to leave a note. She took off her engagement ring from her finger and placed it on the kitchen table. She also left the car keys next to the ring.

She hailed a cab outside of their house and told the driver to take her to the airport. She took out her phone and called an old friend.

"Hello?" As soon as she heard her voice, tears started to stream down her face.

"Rei?" Her voice was shaking. "It's me, Ayane."

"Aya! It's been so long. How are you?" Her cheerful voice managed to calm Ayane down.

"I'm fine. Listen, I'll be arriving in Osaka in a few hours. Can you pick me up?" Ayane wiped her tears away and tried to sound happy.

"Of course. Text me once you land." Ayane agreed and ended the call. Kato Rei was Ayane's childhood friend. Ayane's hometown was in Osaka where she and Rei were neighbors. They grew up together until Ayane's parents died. She was taken to Tokyo by her grandmother to take care of her. When she was in high school, her grandmother died and she was left to fend for herself. Ayane was still friends with Rei for all those years. It would be the first time in 10 years since they've seen each other.

Ayane arrived at the airport. She had booked herself a flight earlier and is waiting to board. She told no one that she was leaving or where she's going. Her only close friend was Miyu and she couldn't face her right now. Not after what she did.

"Calling all passengers of Flight 318 bound for Osaka. Please proceed to Boarding Gate 2." The intercom repeated the message. Ayane rolled her luggage over to the gate. All her other luggage were already checked in. She boarded the plane and waited for the other passengers. She took out her phone and texted Rei that she was on the plane. A few minutes later and the plane was ready for take-off. It'll be an hour and a half before she reaches Osaka.

Kenji arrived in one of the bars his friend owned. He drank drink after drink trying to forget Ayane's face when she saw them this morning. I have to talk to her; he thought. He threw money at the counter and stormed off. The sun had just set when he arrived back at their house. The lights were off and it was clear that no one was home. Her car was here and Kenji thought she had already come home and was ready to listen to him. His pulse raced as he unlocked the door. The house was quiet.

"Ayane." He called out but there was no answer. A terrible feeling washed over Kenji and he immediately ran to their bedroom. He opened the closet and he was devastated when he saw most of her clothes were gone.

"Ayane!" He called out again but still there was no answer. He went to the dining room and saw something shiny on the table. He walked closer and saw her engagement ring. Fearing the worst, he slumped down to the floor clutching the engagement ring.

Where could she go? He thought. He was determined to find her no matter what. He tried calling her but she wasn't answering. Just then, his phone rang and it was his father.

"Where are you?" His father asked. "We need to talk."

His urgency forced Kenji to go to his parents' house. When he arrived, not only were his parents there to talk, the Saikos were also present. He sat down next to his mother as all eyes followed him.

"Kenji, I've known you since you were a young boy. And I know you're a nice man." Miyu's father started off by praising him. Kenji knew what he wanted. Before he could continue, Kenji cut him off.

"You want me to marry your daughter." Kenji said. Miyu's father was elated to hear him say those words.

"Will you?" Kenji's father asked. Both he and his mother had preferred Ayane to be their daughter-in-law. They both knew that Kenji was madly in love with her so this decision baffled them.

"I will take responsibility for whatever may happen. But marriage is out of the question." Kenji answered, his face determined. Miyu's father stood up out of anger.

"Why won't you marry my daughter?" Miyu's father asked angrily. "What if she gets pregnant?"

"Then I will support her and the child." Kenji calmly answered. "I can be a father to her child but I cannot be a husband to her. In this life, I'll only marry one woman and that's Ayane."

Kenji stormed off angrily. He got in his car and drove back to his house. His parents' apologized for their son's behavior. Shortly after, the Saikos left the Takechi house. Kenji, filled with despair, had broken down crying the moment he entered his house. Kenji could still smell her scent as if she never left. Every corner of the house holds a special memory of Ayane. After pulling himself together, he decided to try and find her as soon as possible. He pulled out his phone and dialed a number.

"Jin, I want you to try and locate Ayane." Without so much as a greeting, he ordered his assistant. After giving him the order, he hung up on him and went to bed.

Ayane arrived at Osaka at exactly 8:15pm. She texted Rei the moment she was allowed to use her phone. She took her luggage off of the conveyor belt and proceeded to the exit. As she was walking out, she spotted her childhood friend waving at her. She quickened her pace and hugged her the moment they got together.

"Nice to see you again Aya." Rei said happily. "I've missed you. You've grown so much."

Feeling her warmth, Ayane couldn't stop her tears from falling. Rei noticed that Aya's breathing became irregular due to her crying. She quickly pulled away and saw tears streaming down her friend's cheeks.

"What's wrong?" She asked; concern was evident in her face. "Stop crying." 

Rei helped Aya wipe away the tears. Before she encouraged Aya to speak, she took her bags and took her to the car. She put the luggage in the trunk, helped Aya be seated in the front seat and she took her seat at the driver's side. She drove back to her house, both of them silent for the whole ride. When they arrived, Rei took out the luggage and rolled them inside. She showed Ayane to a guest bedroom where she'll be staying. After she settled down, Rei called her out to the dining room and offered her dinner.

Ayane wasn't like what she was; thought Rei. Something must really be bothering her.

Ayane sat at the dinner table but she didn't touch her food. Too concerned for her friend, Rei moved her seat closer to Ayane.

"I'm worried about you." Rei put her hand on Ayane's shoulder. "You can tell me and I will listen."

All the emotions she's been bottling up have finally spilled over. She told Rei everything that had happened and Rei listened intently. When everything was laid down, Rei put her arms around Ayane, offering her support.

"So what are you planning to do now?" Rei asked. Ayane looked at her with a defeated look.

"I'm just going to have to start all over again." Aya had forgotten how she lived her life without Kenji. They've known each other since high school and she spent most of her days with him. She thought she could forgive him but it was far too hard.

Ayane wasn't the most outgoing person ever since her parents died. She was a loner during her high school days and the only one who would talk to her was Kenji. When her grandmother died, she suffered depression and was slowly losing sanity but Kenji's presence in her life was her saving grace. After hurting for so long, she risked it all by opening her heart once more. She was certain that Kenji was the one. She never thought that even he could hurt her like that.

"What about…" Rei spoke but she was cut off by Ayane.

"I know what you want to suggest but I can't. It's something I have to handle alone."  She answered. Rei looked at her, her eyes filled with concern.

"Well, whatever you decide to do, I'll be here for you." Rei put her arm around Ayane and gave her an encouraging smile.

"Thank you Rei." Ayane smiled at Rei. "I never thought even after all these years; you'd be the one to save me."

"You know I treat you as my sister." Rei moved back to her side of the table. "And we're in a similar situation. We're alone in this world."

Ayane felt guilty for leaving without telling him but having Rei with her, she felt as if she could forgive herself.

"Enough drama; let's eat! I bet you're starving." Rei smiled at Ayane and she served her food. They spent the night talking about their memories of when they were kids. Rei tried to divert her attention from her pain so she talked about their childhood days. Seeing Ayane smile made Rei's uneasiness go away.

I have to go and move on from him; thought Ayane. She has to give it her best shot.

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Mouni G
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