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Until Then: Another Chance

Not even a month after Ayane left Tokyo, she had already encountered a troublesome predicament. One early morning, she felt sick to her stomach that she ran from her bed to the bathroom. Out of concern, Rei advised her to get checked. She had called her friend who's a doctor and set an appointment for Ayane.

"Do I have to go?" asked Ayane. "I feel a lot better now."

"Don't worry, if anything happens I'll be right here." Rei put her hand on Ayane's shoulder. They walked in the hospital together. They met the doctor and she immediately did some tests to Ayane. In the waiting room, Rei was reading the latest business magazine while Ayane was busy fiddling with her phone.

"Ms. Mikoto?" The attending nurse called out to the waiting room. Both Rei and Ayane stood up and walked inside the doctor's office.

"Congratulations Ms. You are 2 months pregnant and there seems to be no problem with your pregnancy so far. I advise you to stay away from any stressful situations in the future." The doctor handed Rei the test results. Upon hearing the news, Ayane felt like her world had come crashing down. She was slowly building it back up but it all came down. Tears filled her eyes as a mix of happiness and fear crept into her heart. They thanked the doctor and left the hospital. While in the car, none of them spoke; both were too shocked to even speak.

"Aya?" Rei looked at Ayane with hopeful eyes. "Are you going to go back?"

Still confused and a bit frustrated, Aya did nothing but cry. Rei offered a helping hand to Ayane. She offered to take her back to Tokyo if she wanted to go back but Ayane refused.

"Rei, I don't think I can face him." Her voice, hoarse from crying. "Every time I think I can forgive him, I'm reminded of that image of the two of them in bed and it pains me."

Ayane couldn't hold back her tears anymore. Rei hugged her and she burst out bawling her eyes out. Rei couldn't offer any words to Ayane right now. She has no idea what to say in a situation like this so all she thought she could do is to offer her presence. Ayane was too broken to function on her own and Rei knew that. She knew what she needed to do and that's to stay by Ayane's side.

"Don't worry Aya. I'm here. If you can't make yourself go back then stay here with me and I'll take care of the both of you." Rei helped wipe her tears away. Ayane cracked a small smile at Rei which made her sigh out of relief.

"Let's go back to the house." Rei offered.

"Okay." Ayane answered. I'm glad that I still have Rei with me; thought Ayane.

A few weeks after finding out she was pregnant, Ayane had taken it as a blessing. Rei was at work while Ayane was left in the house. Feeling bored, she decided to head out to the mall. Rei had only one car and she uses it to go to work hence Ayane had no choice but to take the subway. She arrived at the station near the mall. While walking, she felt as if she was being followed. Paranoid, she turns to a busy corner where a lot of people were close by.

Assuming she was no longer being followed, she slowed her pace. Just then, as she was passing by an alley, someone came from behind her and covered her mouth. She was pulled into the ally and was bound and blindfolded.

"Who are you?" Ayane shouted bravely. "What do you want from me?"

There was no answer. She was carried and thrown into a car. She remained silent, fearing for her life. The car skidded to a stop and she was carried out. She was thrown to the ground and she felt the pain from her lower back.

My baby. She thought. Suddenly, someone pulled the blindfold away from her and her eyes took a while to adjust to the lighting. When she could see properly, there were 4 men in the room with her.

"W-who are you?" She asked once more. One of the men stepped forward and grinned.

"Who we are isn't important. What's important is we do our job right." He answered. When another man walked closer, she recognized him instantly.

Itsuo? It is Itsuo. He's one of Miyu's bodyguards. Does that mean she's behind all of this? Ayane kept her words to herself, fearing that they might kill her if they knew she knew about his identity. Without a word of warning, Itsuo swung a bat at Ayane and it hit her on her shoulder. She felt as if her bones have shattered from the impact. She cried out but no one could hear her.

"W-why…?" She muttered with tears in her eyes. She collapsed on the floor, bloody and bruised.

"That's enough. We're ordered to hurt her not kill her." She heard one of the men say. Thank God; she thought. Before they left, Itsuo walked back closer to her and kicked her in the stomach. Ayane coughed up blood while Itsuo laughed. She felt something trickling down her leg.

"M-my baby… My b-baby…" She stammered. She was sure that it was blood that was trickling down her legs. The men could no longer hear her cries. Tears streamed down her face while thoughts of her unborn child ran through her head.

"HELP!" She shouted over and over again but it seemed that no one was around to hear it. She tried to move her body towards the exit but it was too painful.

"PLEASE SOMEONE HELP!" She shouted one last time, tears blurring her vision. As she was about to lose consciousness, she heard voices getting louder. She managed to see a glimpse of a figure coming towards her before she lost consciousness.

Rei wondered what Ayane was up to when she was alone at home. She wanted to come home early so she could prepare dinner for her. Suddenly, she felt a chill run up her spine. It was like something was wrong; she could feel it in the pit of her stomach. She tried calling Ayane's phone but there was no answer. She started to get nervous. She tried texting her but she wasn't replying. Rei asked permission from her boss if she could go home an hour early from her usual schedule.

Before she could even get an approval, she received a call from Ayane's number. She picked it up immediately.

"Hello? Ayane? Why didn't you answer my calls?" Rei sounded exasperated, anxious to hear her reason.

"Hello? Is this Ms. Kato?" She was surprised to hear a man's voice through the phone. She thought she had just misread the caller's ID with Ayane's. She checked again and sure enough it was indeed Ayane's number.

"I am Ms. Kato. Who is this?" Rei's anxiety shot up and she felt something has happened to Ayane.

"This is Doctor Hayato from Osaka Medical Hospital. Ms. Mikoto has been rushed here. Since you are the only family listed, I advise that you come here at once." Without a second thought, Rei ran out to her car and drove as fast as she could. She arrived at OMH within a few minutes. After parking her car, she ran inside and immediately asked about Ayane's whereabouts at the nurse's station.

"I'm the family of Ms. Mikoto Ayane." She talked so fast that the nurse fumbled to find Ayane's information.

"She's in the VIP room on the third floor." Rei was surprised to hear that she was put in a VIP room but she had no time to ask. She thanked the nurse and ran up to the third floor. She didn't even bother waiting for the elevator. As she reached the hallway leading to the VIP room, a doctor came out and saw her. She approached the doctor, still out of breath.

"You must be Ms. Kato. I'm Dr. Hayato, the attending physician for Ms. Mikoto." He formally introduced himself. He offered his hand out for a handshake but Rei was too shaken to notice. She bowed her head at him.

"Dr. what happened to my friend?" She looked up at him, waiting for an answer. The doctor sighed.

"Ms. Mikoto was brutally beaten. It was a good thing that someone managed to get her to the hospital in time. Ms. Kato, please be mentally prepared for this." Hayato put his hand on Rei's shoulder. "Ms. Mikoto has suffered a miscarriage."

A tear slowly slid down Rei's cheeks as Hayato told her the news. She suddenly felt that she was responsible for what happened to Ayane. Her knees slowly lost their strength and she slumped on the floor. Hayato took her hands and pulled her up to stand.

"She'll be waking up soon. I suggest you stay in the room with her until she does. It'll be good for her to see a familiar face when she wakes up. Don't worry about the expenses. Everything has already been paid for." Rei was surprised to hear about the expenses. She raised her eyebrow at the doctor.

"Who paid for her medical expenses?" She asked but the doctor only shrugged.

"He didn't leave any information. He was the one who rushed Ms. Mikoto here." Rei thought about who it could be. As far as she knew, Ayane is alone and no one knows she's come back to Osaka. As she was lost in thought, the doctor cleared his throat which startled Rei.

"I'll take my leave. You can call for me if something happens to her." And with that, the doctor walked away. Rei didn't waste another second. She went inside the VIP room. As soon as she stepped in, she saw Ayane's eyelash fluttering. She rushed to her side as Ayane opened her eyes.

"R-Rei?" Ayane's voice was hoarse. Rei couldn't help but cry. She held Ayane's hand as tears streamed down her face.

"I'm sorry Ayane. I'm sorry." Rei said in between sobs. Ayane became confused; she held Rei's hands which made Rei look at her.

"It's not your fault. Please don't cry." And with those words, Rei had calmed down. She took the remote next to Ayane's bed and adjusted her headboard so she could sit up.

"What happened to you? You poor thing…" Rei put her hand on Ayane's swollen cheeks. She was indeed filled with bruises. Her face was filled with purple spots. Her right arm and left leg had casts on. Ayane looked at Rei with an emotionless gaze.

"Rei, tell me. Did I… Did my b-baby…" Ayane couldn't finish her sentence. She already knew the answer to her question but she was hoping to hear something different. She was hoping for a miracle. Rei looked at her, tears glistening in her eyes. She slowly lowered her head. Ayane's chest tightened. She wanted to cry but she couldn't. She was tired of crying.

"I know who's responsible." Ayane said, her voice held no emotion. Rei looked up at her, wide-eyed.

"What do you mean?" Rei asked. Ayane clenched and unclenched her fists, trying not to get too angry.

"I recognized one of my attackers." She answered. Rei rose up to her feet.

"Then we should report it to the police." Rei suggested but Ayane shook her head. Rei, confused, sat back down.

"We won't stand a chance against them. We'll deal with them, but not now." Ayane sounded very determined that it gave Rei courage. She believed in Ayane so she would follow her no matter where she goes and what she does. Rei held onto Ayane's hand.

"I'll be with you every step of the way." With Rei's assurance, Ayane's determination grew. She knew who she was up against. As for right now, she doesn't have the capacity nor the abilities and connections to fight. She needs to concentrate on her career for now. She needs to learn a lot of things before she can take them head on and she's very determined to see it through.

The doctor wasn't lying when he said that Ayane's medical expenses were already paid for. They left the hospital after a few weeks of confinement. Ayane still had to go through physical therapy for her to be able to walk properly. Rei offered to hire a caretaker for Ayane but she refused. Whenever Rei went to work, she would send Ayane to the hospital for her physical therapy sessions. She'd pick her up after work and they both would arrive home together.

3 months passed by in a flash. Ayane no longer had casts on her leg and arm and she no longer needed to attend physical therapy sessions. She was good as new and it made Rei happy but Ayane was never the same after the incident. She rarely smiles and she's often very silent. Rei tried her best to bring her back but she was too broken. Rei couldn't do anything but accept what she has become.

"Are you planning to work?" Rei and Ayane were at the dinner table having breakfast. "I can help you look for one."

With Rei's offer, Ayane thought about it. She came to the conclusion of accepting her offer. She slowly nodded which made Rei happy.

"Great. I'm happy to help. What kind of job are you interested in?" Rei asked as she sipped her tea. Ayane looked thoughtful.

"Secretary." She answered briefly. Rei thought of the companies she knew that were hiring secretaries. She took out a piece of paper and a pen and jotted down the names of the company. Rei works as an HR staff thus proves her knowledge on company hiring. She gave the list to Ayane.

"Thank you." Ayane spoke; Rei smiled at her. It was time for Rei to leave for work. She said her goodbyes to Ayane and left. Ayane on the other hand, worked on her resume. She needs to start applying soon. After finalizing her resume, she went out to submit it to the companies Rei had listed down for her. She was halfway done when she felt hungry. She ate quickly and went back to submitting her resume to the remaining companies on her list. It was late when she finally submitted to the last company on her list. She hailed a cab and got in.

"Welcome back. How was it?" When Ayane arrived, Rei was already home, cooking dinner.

"I'll be waiting for any calls." Ayane answered. Rei smiled at her and served her dinner. They ate while Rei talked about her day. Ayane stayed silent.

The following morning, Ayane received a few calls from the companies she applied for. Her schedule was packed with interviews. She catered to all the companies who scheduled an interview for her. When she told Rei about it, she was elated. She helped Ayane pick out an outfit for her interview. The day came for her interview. Rei made sure Ayane was well rested and prepared.

"Good luck." She dropped Ayane off at the first company she had an interview with. Ayane thanked her and she drove off to her work. Her first interview went well. She moved on to the next one. Ayane spent the whole day being interviewed. She wasn't hired on the spot but she should be expecting a call from the companies. She had one more company to be interviewed for. As she was walking towards the building, she saw an old man fumble on the steps. No one around went to help the old man.

Don't be late for your interview. The boss doesn't like to be kept waiting. Ayane remembered the HR personnel's words during their phone call. She looked at her watch and it was almost time for her interview. If she walked inside without any distractions, she should be able to make it in time. She looked at the old man again and it tugged at her heartstrings. She risked the job interview and helped the old man.

"Are you okay?" Ayane asked as she picked up the pieces of paper that the old man dropped.

"I'm fine. Thank you for helping me, young lady." Ayane handed him the papers and helped him up the remaining steps.

"Are you headed inside, young lady?" The old man asked. Ayane looked at him, her expression was indifferent.

"Yes I am. I have an interview." Ayane answered honestly. The old man looked at his watch and then back at Ayane.

"What time is your interview?" The old man asked. Ayane didn't want to be rude so she kept her answers as honest as possible.

"It's at 5:00 pm." The old man's eyes widened.

"It's already 5:10. I heard the owner of this company hates tardiness. I'm sorry I made you late." The old man apologized repeatedly before Ayane convinced him that it wasn't his fault.

"I chose to help you. It's not your fault. Besides, I've already been interviewed by other companies. If the owner doesn't want to hire me, I'll just have to wait for a company that wants to hire me." The old man looked at Ayane, his lips curled into a warm smile. When they entered the company lobby, the old man thanked Ayane and went on his way; while Ayane went to the reception desk to ask about her interview. She was directed to the 21st floor.

When she arrived at the 21st floor, she saw no other applicants waiting to be called. She went straight to the HR room and knocked on the door. An older woman who seemed to be around the age of 40 opened the door. She raised her eyebrow at Ayane.

"Who are you?" She asked. Her tone wasn't too pleasant but Ayane didn't mind.

"My name is Mikoto Ayane. I have a scheduled interview for 5:00pm." Ayane bowed her head at the grumpy lady. The woman looked at her watch and scoffed.

"It's almost 5:30pm. You should learn to be on time. You've missed your interview and we don't have the time to schedule you a new one." She said those words with a weird gleam in her eyes; as if she's pointing out that Ayane wasn't welcome. Without a hint of disappointment, Ayane smiled at the lady.

"I understand. Sorry for wasting your time." She promptly bowed her head and turned on her heel. She pressed the button on the elevator and waited. As the elevator doors opened, the old man whom Ayane met downstairs appeared before her.

"Oh it's you." The old man said with a smile. Ayane smiled at him too.

"Hello Mr." She politely bowed her head at the old man.

"Did you make it in time for your interview?" He asked. Ayane had an apologetic smile on her face as she shook her head.

"Oh I see. Young lady, May I ask you to help me one last time?" Ayane was surprised but she agreed to help the old man.

"Can you accompany me to the HR room? My eye sight isn't as good as before and I'm afraid I'll walk into a different room if I go alone." Ayane smiled at the old man and took his arms. She was careful; she slowed down her pace to accommodate the old man's speed. Slowly but surely, they arrived in front of the HR room.

"Thank you, young lady. By the way, may I ask for your name?" Ayane let go of the old man's arms.

"My name is Ayane. Mikoto Ayane." The old man smiled at her knowingly. He knocked on the door and was greeted by the old lady from before.

"Mr. President. You're here. If there's anything you need, don't hesitate to ask." The old lady's attitude changed in an instant.

"From today onwards, Ms. Mikoto is my new personal assistant." The old man said those words with pure confidence. The old lady agreed and started to process her papers. Ayane still hadn't fully understood what just happened. When she came to her senses, she looked at the old man.

"Sir, thank you." She bowed her head at the old man. The old man put his hand on her shoulder and asked her to raise her head.

"My name is Tennouji Taizo but you can call me Mr. Taizo." He held out his hand and Ayane shook it. A few moments later, the old lady came out of the room and gave Ayane an ID card and a folder filled with the President's schedules and preferences.

"I look forward to seeing you tomorrow Ms. Mikoto." Mr. Taizo said. With a smile, Ayane said her goodbyes and went home. When she arrived, Rei had already cooked dinner and was waiting for her.

"I'm back." Ayane called out when she entered. Rei greeted her at the door. Ayane left to go change while Rei set the table. Once seated, they started to eat their dinner.

"So how were your interviews?" Rei asked. Ayane swallowed the food she was chewing before answering.

"It went well. I was hired on the spot today." Hearing the news, Rei became elated.

"Really? Which company?" Her eyes were eager to find out more.

"Habitect Co." When Ayane answered, Rei was a bit surprised to hear the name of the company.

"The architectural firm? That's a bit of a surprise." Ayane raised her eyebrow at Rei. They had both finished eating and were cleaning up. Rei washed the dishes while Ayane took the plates from the table and put it in the sink.

"I actually didn't make it to the interview because I was helping an old man. Turns out, that old man was the president of the company. He was the one who hired me on the spot." Rei had just finished washing the dishes and was wiping her hands. She looked at Ayane with a smile.

"Aya, you're a licensed architect. Why are you trying to find a secretarial position?" Both Rei and Ayane sat down on the couch in the living room. Ayane was silent, she didn't want to answer but she had to let Rei know.

"Kenji's family owns the biggest architectural firm in Tokyo. I worked as an architect there. If I worked as an architect then it'll constantly remind me of my life back in Tokyo." Rei felt the sadness in Ayane's voice. She put her arm around her and rested her head on Ayane's shoulder. There was another reason why Ayane took the position but she felt it wasn't the right time to tell Rei about it.

"I'm sure you'll do great on your first day as an assistant." Rei had changed the topic seeing as how much it affected Ayane. After their talk, they both went to bed, eager to start a new day.

It was Ayane's first day as the president's assistant. She arrived bright and early at the company to receive further instructions. She studied the president's schedules and preferences last night and memorized everything. She was directed to the top floor where her desk was right outside the president's office. The president hasn't arrived yet but Ayane took the initiative to prepare his coffee.

A few minutes go by and she heard the elevator open. She stood up from her desk and went to greet the president.

"Good morning Mr. Taizo." She bowed her head.

"Oh good morning Ayane." She walked with him to his office. When he entered the office, Ayane went back to get his coffee. She knocked on the door 3 times and waited for permission. When he heard Mr. Taizo, she opened the door and placed the coffee cup in front of him on his desk.

"Thank you. I have a meeting today at 1pm and I'm expecting my grandson to visit me. If he comes, let him in. His name is Ryuji." Ayane remembered every word he said. She excused herself and went back to her desk.

The day went by quickly. Mr. Taizo's grandson never showed up. As Ayane was fixing her things, she heard the elevator door open. It was well past 8 o'clock and she wasn't expecting anyone to show up. A tall, handsome young man walked in. He walked past Ayane's desk and straight to the president's office. Before he could grab the handle, Ayane stopped him.

"Excuse me sir, are you by any chance, Mr. Ryuji?" Ayane had a feeling that this man was the president's grandson.

"Who are you?" His voice was deep and rich. He was calm and aloof, and it seemed that he doesn't like to talk.

"My name is Mikoto Ayane. I'm the president's assistant. If you're here for the president, he has already gone home." Ayane lowered her head as a sign of respect. Ryuji stared at her; his eyes were cold and uninviting. He didn't say a word. He turned on his heel and left. Ayane was a bit confused but she snapped out of it when she heard her phone ring.

"Hello?" She answered. It was Rei on the other line.

"Hey Aya. I'm downstairs waiting for you." Ayane quickly grabbed her bag and ran to the elevator. When she arrived at the lobby, she went to scan her fingerprint to log off from work. She went outside and saw Rei's car. She got in and fastened her seatbelt.

"How was your first day?" Rei asked as she pulled away from the sidewalk.

"It was okay. Nothing too hectic yet." They arrived at Rei's house shortly. Rei had bought take-out and prepared it while Ayane changed her clothes. They had their dinner and talked about their day.

A few months have passed and Ayane had settled in Habitect. The president treats her well and her coworkers often look up to her for her leadership and determination. The company hosts an end-of-the-year gala where they celebrate the accomplishments of the company throughout the year. Ayane was given the task of booking the hotel where the gala will be hosted.

"We'll be celebrating this year's annual gala at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Have you booked the venue?" Mr. Taizo asked. Ayane nodded and handed him a folder filled with the program proper, the menu and the seating arrangements. Mr. Taizo studied it carefully and afterwards gave Ayane a smile.

"Well done Ayane." He praised her. Ayane smiled and thanked him for the kind words. The event was a week away and everything was already prepared thanks to Ayane. As she was busy preparing for the gala, she had forgotten to prepare her outfit.

"The event is a few days away and you don't even have a gown to wear. Let's go." Rei grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the car. They drove to the mall where Rei frantically went from shop to shop trying to find a gown for Ayane. Rei was a bit disappointed since none of the dresses seemed to grab her attention. There was one last shop that they haven't visited. As soon as they entered, Rei caught sight of a beautiful gold off-shoulder gown.

"Ayane, this is it. This is your gown." Ayane had no interest in dressing up for the gala. She wanted a plain dress but Rei insisted otherwise. She pushed Ayane into the dressing room to try it out. When she stepped out, Rei's jaw dropped.

"We're definitely buying it." Rei said. The gown was a short front-low back type with golden embellishments. Ayane looked at the price tag and almost choked on her own spit.

"Rei, this is too expensive." Rei took a look at the price tag but wasn't as surprised as Ayane.

"It's not that bad. I'll pay for it." Ayane changed back and handed the gown to Rei. After paying for it, they went to another shop to buy matching shoes for the gown. Ayane was dead tired after shopping with Rei. She hoped that it was worth the effort. It surely made Rei happy and nothing makes Ayane happier than seeing her like that.

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