Until Then: She's Back

3 years. 3 years have passed ever since Ayane disappeared. There were no traces left behind. Ryuji spent 3 years looking for her but to no avail. The same goes for Kenji; he would come back to Osaka every month to stay for a week looking for her but it was like she never existed. No matter what method they tried to look for her, she was never found but that didn't stop them. Both of them were more determined than ever to find her.

"What's the update on the search?" Ryuji asked his assistant as he was entering the car. His grandfather followed after him. Both of them were headed to Habitect. The driver started the car and drove off.

"We found a lead. One of the security cameras in the airport caught sight of a woman who seemed to be Ms. Mikoto." His assistant handed him a photo from the surveillance footage. Ryuji examined the photo and was confident that it was Ayane. His grandfather looked at him and smiled.

"You haven't given up on that woman yet? I'm impressed." His grandfather said. He looked out the window and sighed.

"I haven't been completely honest with you, grandpa. There's a reason why I can't seem to get her off my mind." Ryuji recalled the passionate night they spent 3 years ago. He remembered the taste of her soft lips and her bright blue eyes.

"There's only one answer to that, Ryuji. You love her." His grandfather answered. Never in a million years would Ryuji believe that the word love would have meaning in his life. Brought about by his grandparents, Ryuji never felt the love of his parents. He was an only child who was taught at an early age to be independent. Who'd have thought that a one-night stand with a complete stranger could turn his view on love around.

Amidst their conversation, the car started to swerve. It turns out a little girl was running across the street and the driver reacted accordingly. The driver stopped the car and Ryuji went out to see what had happened. The child's nanny caught up to the running child and tried to console her.

"Mommy… I want to see Mommy…" The little girl was bawling while constantly screaming for her mother. Ryuji wasn't mad about what happened, instead he was feeling bad for the child. He walked over to the nanny. The nanny looked at him and started to apologize profusely. Ryuji reassured her that it was fine.

"Is she okay?" Ryuji asked. The nanny looked at him and frowned.

"She really misses her mom." The little girl started crying again. As she turned to look at Ryuji, their eyes met and she suddenly stopped crying. Ryuji felt warm inside all of a sudden. He smiled at the little girl and she smiled back. He bent down to her level and patted her head.

"What's your name?" He asked. The little girl sniffled before answering.

"Kayda." She said shyly, which made Ryuji smile. Just then, they heard a voice coming from behind. It seemed to be with the nanny and the child. She was running up to them carrying another child. She was out of breath when she finally reached both of them.

"I'm glad we caught up to you. Did anything happen? How's Kayda?" Ryuji looked at the little boy in the arms of the other nanny.

"Kotaro." All of them looked at the direction of Kayda. She was calling out to her twin brother. Kotaro tried to reach out for her but she was too far away. Ryuji was drawn to the boy. He didn't know why but something about the little boy reminded him of himself.

"Are they twins?" Ryuji asked the nanny to which she nodded in response. The nanny looked at her watch and was surprised to see the time.

"We have to go now. We're terribly sorry for the trouble." The two nannies bowed at Ryuji. The two kids looked at Ryuji and smiled.

"I'm sowwy." Kayda apologized. Ryuji chuckled and tousled her hair.

"Don't worry about it. Now go, your mom must be worried about you." The twins waved goodbye at Ryuji. After the whole ordeal, he went back to the car. When he got in, the car was quiet. None of them were talking about what happened. Feeling uneasy, he broke the silence.

"Why are you all so quiet?" He asked out loud. His grandfather looked at him wryly.

"I think this is the first time I've seen you smile." His grandfather asked. He didn't even notice that he was smiling. Something about those kids made him happy. He looked out the window, trying to hide his obvious happiness.

"That little kid reminded me of you when you were little. The young boy had an uncanny resemblance to you." His grandfather said. He agreed with what he said. He also saw himself on the boy. They arrived at Habitect a few minutes later. He and his grandfather went up to the conference room. There was big news today about Archetive. Everyone was tuned in to the news about the Kamenaga's heir coming back and claiming the company. This was the perfect opportunity for Ryuji since he wanted to form a partnership with Archetive.

"Is the contract ready?" He asked. His assistant distributed copies to everyone in the conference room. They were called to discuss the partnership contract for Archetive. Ryuji wanted the contract to be fair for both parties hence the meeting. They went through all the conditions stated and agreed that all of them were reasonable. After the meeting, Ryuji and his grandfather went up to the president's office.

"You're really going for the partnership. Does Habitect really need the help of Archetive?" His grandfather asked. Ryuji took the cup from his desk and sipped his coffee. He thought about his grandfather words. He had the same enthusiasm about his ideas as before when he first pitched it to him. He didn't blame his grandfather for his concern; Ryuji knew what he was worried about.

"Archetive will be like a stepping stone for Habitect. I'm not going to rely on them solely. Building this partnership can allow us to expand and create better opportunities in the future." Although the chances of getting a partnership with Archetive were slim, Ryuji was determined to get it. Just then, his assistant came in with big news.

"Sir, the president of Archetive requests your presence. They'll be sending a car here to pick you up." Ryuji and his grandfather were both surprised. Seeing this as his only opportunity, he took the contract with him. They both waited at the lobby when a limousine arrived outside the company. The driver came out and opened the door for them. Ryuji and his grandfather were silent for the whole ride. When they arrived at Archetive, they were greeted by an assistant at the entrance.

"Welcome to Archetive. The president's office is at the 45th floor. Please follow me." They followed her into the elevator and waited. When they arrived, the assistant led them outside the president's office.

"This is as far as I can take you. The president is waiting for you inside." She bowed her head before leaving. Ryuji looked at his grandfather before knocking on the door. They waited for an answer but the door opened on its own. They entered the room but were greeted by no one. Confused, Ryuji and his grandfather took a seat on the coach.

"Glad to see you again, Mr. Taizo." A voice came from behind them. Ryuji recognized whose voice it was. It was the voice he'd been searching for the past 3 years. He turned to look and saw Ayane. She wasn't the simple assistant from before. She wore an elegant suit and her hair was longer but she was the same woman whom he fell in love with. His grandfather stood up and welcomed Ayane with open arms.

"Ayane, it's you." They shared a hug to which Ryuji felt envious of. Everything about Ayane was different. One thing that stood out most to Ryuji was the coldness of her eyes. He clearly knew since he had the same coldness in his eyes.

"I'm sorry for making you wait. I had an emergency to deal with." Both Ryuji and his grandfather were shocked when they realized who Ayane really was.

"You mean, you're the new president of Archetive?" Mr. Taizo asked in disbelief. Ayane took her seat at her desk. She thought it was normal for Mr. Taizo to be surprised since she used to work as his assistant.

"I'm sorry for keeping my identity from you Mr. Taizo. I didn't really plan on taking over Archetive. I tried running away but it kept coming back to me so I just decided to embrace it." Mr. Taizo wasn't disappointed nor angry about it instead, he was ecstatic.

"My real name is Kamenaga Ayane. Mikoto was my grandmother's maiden name. She took me in when my parents died and decided to change my last name." She explained. Ryuji and Mr. Taizo listened intently. Ayane and Mr. Taizo talked a lot which made Ryuji uneasy. Feeling ignored, he decided to cut their little reunion short.

"Pardon me Ms. Kamenaga but why did you call us here?" Ryuji asked. Ayane looked at him and smiled. She pulled out a contract from her desk drawer and put it on top of the desk.

"I remember clearly about what Mr. Taizo said about you Mr. Tennouji. He said you wanted to form a partnership with Archetive. I called you in to talk about it." Ryuji shot a glare at his grandfather. He felt ashamed that she knew about his plans without context. Ayane pushed the contract in front of Ryuji.

"This isn't a contract for the partnership. Instead, this is an agreement." Ryuji raised his eyebrow. He took the contract and skimmed through the pages.

"What kind of agreement?" Ryuji asked.

"It's sort of a trial period for the partnership. For 1 year, both Archetive and Habitect Co. will assume a semi-partnership however the decisions concerning each other's companies will still be handled by the respective presidents. None of us are allowed to interfere without the approval of the president. After a year, the true partnership between our two companies will be fulfilled. Furthermore, if I see your sincerity and you do not wish to betray me then I can shorten the trial period." Ayane's voice was calm and collected but her eyes were like ice caves. Ryuji thought about the conditions and it seemed to be reasonable. He agreed to sign the contract then and there. Ayane handed him a pen and he signed it. Ayane stood up and held out her hand. Ryuji took it and shook her hands.

"I hope you won't disappoint me." Ayane said. Ryuji cracked a small smile at her. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Rei came in and walked up to Ayane.

"The conference room is ready. We should go." As Rei looked at the guests, he noticed Ryuji right away. Ayane took the signed contract and gave it to Rei.

"I have a meeting to attend to. You're welcome to tour the building if you like." Ayane and Rei went out of her office and walked to the elevator. While waiting, Rei was curious about Ayane's guests.

"Aya, the man in your office just now, was that the president of Habitect?" Rei asked. Ayane nodded and turned to her.

"My boss was his grandfather but since then Ryuji had taken over Habitect." Ayane doesn't seem quite bothered with Ryuji but Rei was.

"Isn't it weird that Kotaro looks like him?" Rei was suspicious. She was still trying to force Ayane into finding the kids' father but she was too stubborn to do so. Ayane looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

"Does he look like him? I don't see the resemblance. In my opinion, Kotaro and Kayda look like me." Ayane answered. She really didn't bother noticing Ryuji's face so she doesn't really know if they look alike or not. After the meeting, Ayane and Rei drove back to the Kamenaga Mansion.

"Mommy!" Kayda ran up to Ayane as soon as she entered the door. Ayane welcomed her with open arms.

"I miss you baby. How was your day?" Kayda placed kisses on Ayane's face. Kotaro came running towards Ayane to which she bent down and kissed. Kotaro and Kayda stood next to each other, huddled together to get their mother's attention.

"Mommy Rei is here too." The twins went over to Rei and gave her kisses as well. Ayane carried Kayda and Rei carried Kotaro. They went upstairs to Ayane's bedroom. They let the twins down and they were jumping on the bed. Ayane went inside her walk-in closet and changed her clothes. When she stepped out, the twins were still playing around with Rei.

"Kayda, Kotaro, come here." She called out to the twins which made them run towards her. Rei excused herself to go change as well. Ayane carried the twins to the couch and they sat there face-to-face.

"How was your day?" Ayane asked. Kayda and Kotaro looked at each other.

"Kayda was almost hit by car, looking for mommy." Kotaro answered. Although he's only 3 years old, his speaking skills are beyond his age. Ayane was surprised to hear about this. Kayda looked down and fiddled with her fingers.

"Is this true?" Ayane asked her. Kayda slowly nodded. Feeling alarmed, Ayane called for the twins' nannies. When they arrived, they explained what had happened earlier. Ayane was relieved to hear that no one was hurt but he told the nannies to be more careful. Ayane wasn't as firm-handed at home as she is at the company. She knows her kids like to do everything she does and that's one thing she doesn't want them to be.

"Dinner's ready everyone. Let's go down to the dining room." Rei walked in and carried Kotaro while Ayane picked up Kayda. They went down to the dining area where there were two high chairs placed next to each other. They placed the twins in their respective chairs and handed them food. The twins were more than capable of eating on their own but they tend to fuss around that's why they still eat on their high chairs.

"Habitect signed the agreement; what now?" Rei asked. Ayane took her table napkin and wiped the food from Kayda's chin.

"We observe their intentions. If it's true that they're really just planning to expand Habitect and not have any ill intentions then I'll give them what they want. If they're planning something then we'll show no mercy." Ayane spoke nonchalantly as if destroying a company didn't bother her. Rei nodded at what Ayane said.

After dinner, Ayane took the twins upstairs to bathe them before bed. Kayda and Kotaro played with each other in the bathtub while Ayane prepared their pajamas. After the bath, Ayane dried them off and helped them get dressed. Ayane sleeps in the same bed as the twins. They already have their own rooms but the two were very clingy towards their mother. It was due to the fact that Ayane spends most of her days at the office and they weren't allowed to visit her during office hours. The reason for it was because Ayane hadn't disclosed to the public that she had children. She was worried that her kids may be targeted by her enemies.

"Goodnight mommy." The two said simultaneously. Ayane kissed their foreheads and tucked them in. They fell asleep a few minutes later. Ayane needed to be early tomorrow so she turned the lights off and went to sleep. Ayane usually wakes up earlier than the twins because Kayda cries when she sees them leave. Kotaro was more calm and collected than her twin sister and doesn't fuss about their mother leaving to go to work. When Ayane woke up the next day, she was surprised to see that the twins were already awake.

"Good morning mommy!" Kayda greeted her mother as soon as she opened her eyes. Kotaro was seated next to Kayda on the bed; both were waiting for their mother to get up.

"Why are you up so early?" Ayane rubbed her eyes and yawned. Kayda and Kotaro both looked excited.

"We go with mommy to work." Kotaro said. Ayane was surprised to hear that from Kotaro. She'd expect Kayda to give that request. Ayane smiled at the two of them and patted their heads.

"Okay, you can come to mommy's office. But you have to behave or else mommy Rei will get mad at you." Upon hearing their mother's approval, both of their eyes sparkled. The two got out of bed and went to the closet. They wanted to pick out their outfit for the day. Ayane helped them pick out what they wanted to wear. After preparing the clothes, Ayane bathed them and dressed them up. The kids' nannies arrived to take them to the dining room while Ayane took a shower. She got dressed and followed them to the dining room.

"Why are these two all dressed up?" Rei asked when Ayane arrived at the dining room. She had a defeated smile on her face.

"They're coming with us to the company." Ayane sighed while Rei laughed. After eating breakfast, they headed towards the main door. A car was already waiting outside for them.

"Are you sure you're ready to introduce the kids to the company?" Rei asked. Ayane looked at her; determination in her eyes.

"They're going to see it sooner or later." Ayane wasn't worried about what the employees in her company think of her. All that mattered to her was that her kids were happy. Ayane told the kids' nannies to stay home for the day since she'll be taking care of the kids while they were in the company with her. They entered the car and the driver drove to Archetive. 

"Good morning President." The employees greeted Ayane as she passed by the lobby. Ayane smiled at those who took notice of her presence. The twins trailed behind her, holding onto her pants.

"Mommy, a lot of people…" Kayda mumbled. Ayane bent down and patted her head.

"Don't be afraid baby; these are all Mommy's friends." Ayane reassured her. Kayda smiled and waved at the people in the lobby.

"The kids are so cute. Are they President's kids?" Some people speculated. Ayane went to the front desk and spoke through the intercom.

"Good morning everyone; I would like to formally introduce my kids, Kotaro and Kayda. Be sure to be nice to them." Ayane thanked the receptionist and they went to the elevator. They arrived in her office and Kayda and Kotaro immediately climbed on top of the couch and started jumping. Rei became anxious and went over to stop them.

"Be careful. You might fall and hurt yourselves." The twins listened to Rei and stopped jumping. Ayane took her place at her desk and skimmed through the documents.

"Rei, can you please deliver these to the Accounting department." Ayane handed her a folder and Rei took it. Before leaving, she kissed the twins' forehead. The twins waved goodbye at her. A few minutes passed and there was a knock on the door.

"Come in." Ayane said. She had handed a coloring book to the twins to keep them busy for a while. Ayane's secretary came in with a huge bouquet of flowers. The twins' attention was caught with the colorful array of flowers.

"Good morning president. Someone sent this bouquet for you." She handed it to Ayane. Ayane looked for a card saying who it was from. She found it and read the card aloud.

"Thank you for yesterday. It was nice seeing you again. R." Ayane raised her eyebrow.

R? Ryuji? Why did he send me a bouquet? Ayane thought to herself. Kayda ran up to her mom and asked for a flower. Ayane took out a peony from the bouquet and gave it to Kayda. She gave the whole bouquet back to her secretary, telling her to put it in a vase so she could admire it in her office. The secretary excused herself and did what she was told.

"Mommy, who gave you flowers?" Kotaro asked. Ayane looked at Kotaro and smiled.

"It was one of mommy's friends." Kotaro smiled and went back to his coloring book. The secretary came back and placed the vase of flowers on the center table. She excused herself again and left the room. Rei came in and handed Ayane a pile of documents that needed to be signed. While Ayane was busy signing documents, she didn't notice the twins followed Rei outside. Rei was the Vice President of the company and was also fairly busy. She didn't notice that she was being followed.

As the twins followed Rei, they heard the elevator door open and their attention was caught. Thinking that it was okay to roam around the company, the twins decided to step in the elevator. They arrived at the lobby where it was quiet. Walking around, the twins suddenly realized that they were lost and there was no one around to help them. When Kayda started crying Kotaro followed suit.

"Are you okay?" The twins heard a familiar voice. When they calmed down, they saw the face of the man from yesterday. Ryuji looked at the twins and recognized them immediately.

"Kayda and Kotaro; why are you here alone? Where's your nanny?" The twins ran up to him and hugged his leg.

"Mommy is working." Kotaro said while sniffling. Ryuji felt happy whenever the twins are around. He couldn't explain why; it's rare for him to like kids since he doesn't enjoy their company but it was different with these two. Ryuji patted their heads and reassured them.

"Don't worry; I'll help you find your mommy." Ryuji carried the twins and went over to the front desk. He was about to ask the receptionist when he noticed that she was talking to someone on the phone. Ryuji waited when the receptionist spots him carrying the twins.

"Ah Ms. Rei, the children are down here in the lobby." Ryuji heard this and realized that she was probably talking to the kids' mother. A few seconds later and Rei appeared in front of Ryuji. The twins immediately called out to her.

"Mommy Rei!" Ryuji handed the kids to her and she calmed them down. Ryuji had read about Rei before when he had Ayane's background investigated. She was her childhood friend and she was the one who took care of her when she moved back here in Osaka. She also happened to be the vice president of Archetive. Ryuji was indifferent to Rei but felt friendly towards the twins.

"Oh Mr. Tennouji, I'm sorry for the trouble. These two really are a handful." She smiled at the twins. Rei looked back at Ryuji and studied his face. No matter how she looks at him, she couldn't deny the fact that Kotaro looks like him.

Could he be the twins' father? Rei thought. She was snapped out of her trance when Ryuji cleared his throat.

"Oh by the way, did you come here to meet with Ayane? If so, I can take you to her office." Ryuji nodded and they headed to the elevator. Before entering Ayane's office, Rei dropped the twins in her office and gave them some crayons and coloring books to distract them. Rei knocked on Ayane's door before entering.

"Mr. Tennouji is here to see you." After getting an approval from Ayane, Rei let Ryuji in. She excused herself and Ryuji and Ayane were left alone together.

"Ryuji, what brought you here?" Ryuji took a seat in front of her desk. He took out an invitation and handed it to her.

"The Tanakas are having a party for the elite tomorrow night. They've invited quite a few renowned architects here in Osaka. I would be honored if you would accompany me to this party." Ayane read the invitation and smiled. She looked at Ryuji and their eyes met.

"Are you asking me to be your date?" Ayane said teasingly. Ryuji smirked and stood up, putting his hands on Ayane's desk.

"If that's how you've interpreted my words, then yes." Ryuji, who was known to be a cold and aloof character, had shown a side of his that was unknown to everyone including his grandparents. Ayane seemed to be enjoying their conversation and decided to keep going with it.

"My, and I thought that Mr. Ryuji was cold as ice. I didn't know that he could be this charming." Ayane smirked.

"If I can woo you then I can consider myself as charming." Despite the game they're playing, Ryuji was serious about wooing Ayane. Thinking it would be a lot of fun to see Ryuji try, Ayane thought about something.

"Care to put your money where your mouth is?" Ryuji raised his eyebrow. Ayane stood up and looked out the window.

"If you can win me over within the year from our agreement then I'll sign the partnership early. If not, then I won't sign the partnership and you'll have to leave me and the company alone." Considering that both of them were highly competitive, the odds were evenly matched. Ryuji cracked a smile and held out his hand.

"Deal." Ayane smiled and shook his hand. Before he could let go of her hand, he kissed the back of it and looked at her.

"Then, will you be my date for tomorrow night?" With a smile, Ayane nodded.

"Don't forget to pick me up. Here's my address." Ayane handed him a piece of paper where she had written her address on along with her phone number. Despite what Ryuji thought, Ayane sees this bet as entertainment. She was confident that she will not fall for Ryuji.

"I'll be leaving now. I can't wait to see you tomorrow." Ryuji flashed a smile at Ayane to which Ayane responded with a sly grin. Ryuji left and Ayane sighed. She didn't expect for that to happen but it did. Being a woman of her words, Ayane called her secretary and asked to prepare a contract. It was for their agreement earlier. As her secretary left, her phone suddenly rang. It was an unregistered number but she answered it anyway.

"Hello?" She said.

"It's only been a couple of minutes and I already miss you." Hearing his voice again, Ayane couldn't help but laugh.

"Mr. Ryuji is sweeter than I expected. I might just lose this bet." She heard him chuckle. Ayane was busy talking on the phone that she hadn't notice Rei coming in her office. Rei was curious about Ayane's conversation, more importantly who it was with. Just as Ayane ended the call, her secretary had entered the room and handed Rei the contract she was asked to do. Rei was surprised to see what kind of contract it was. Ayane finally noticing Rei's presence called out to her.

"Rei, is that the contract I asked for?" Rei snapped out of her trance when she heard Ayane's voice. Feeling slightly perturbed, Rei asked Ayane about the contract.

"What is this for?" Ayane knew Rei would get too concerned with this issue.

"It's a contract between me and Ryuji. I think its great entertainment." Ayane said those words with utmost confidence. Rei sighed and handed her the contract.

"And what if you lose? I don't want to see you in that state ever again." Ayane looked up at Rei and sighed.

"Don't worry Rei. I assure you that I won't go back to that state." With a heavy heart, Rei accepted Ayane's decision. There were good things that come with this agreement though; Rei was hoping that Ryuji would be the one to open Ayane's heart once more. She's been stuck on revenge ever since and Rei wanted her to focus on herself and her kids. She was hoping for a silver-lining with this agreement.

"I promise I won't."

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