Will a second chance at first love be just as magical? Warning: Boys love
Tsubasa watches the sleeping face next to him. The warm glow of the bedside lamp softens the contours of the face, making the beautiful mesmerising. He floats his hand closely above the face, almost touching its defined yet delicate features.
'Sometimes, I wish you won't wake up,' Tsubasa whispers.
Gazing at the sleeping form of his lover, Tsubasa wonders what is to become of their love. They've only been together for a month but cracks are already forming. Perhaps he shouldn't have moved in so soon.
Tsubasa believes that love being energy doesn't die, it simply transforms into another form. And what is their love transforming into? Whatever it is, it started off subtly. First, it was Takki saying that he had to stay back at work. Soon there were breakfast meetings he had to attend. Only a month ago, they were shopping for a king-sized pocketed-spring bed and hauling bags of grocery from the local supermart. Tsubasa was often envious of families and their overloaded shopping trolleys. With Takki, he felt for the first time that he was part of that exclusive privileged group. But it seems this coveted membership is expiring.
Of course, this wouldn't be Tsubasa's first setback in love. He's going on 30 and has been around the block. It's just that like a scar that takes longer to heal with age, it becomes harder to recover after every heartbreak. He isn't young anymore. Besides, this love is different. It's special. It's also the first one he reached out for.
Six months ago, while aimlessly wandering around, Tsubasa chanced upon a cake shop named Claudia. The shop, lined with blossoming colorful flowers, and chalk-written specialties at its door, had a country feel that was instantly welcoming. Entering the shop though had somewhat of an opposite effect. A life-sized standee of the owner, with open arms, was there to welcome all. Tsubasa, who didn't approve of such blatant egoism, was however quick to forgive upon hearing the story behind the shop. The owner had hoped that by naming the shop after his first love - a long lost childhood sweetheart, it might reunite them. And since the savvy businessman has other more profitable business to tend to, he had the standee stand in for him. Being a die-hard romantic, Tsubasa was instantly won over. After his fifth cake in a sitting, he was even tempted to queue behind the bevy of ardent female customers for a photo with the 2D attraction.
Longing to meet the man in person, Tsubasa was soon working at Playzone, a host club the young cake shop owner patronised. Tsubasa could still remember vividly that night when he fought Pi, the club's top host, for Takki. One night, Pi returned unexpectedly during his leave to confront Takki, his regular patron. The possessive young host went ballistic when he heard that his favourite and faithful client had been seeing another while he was away. Not waiting for Takki to take sides, Tsubasa seized the conflicted man's hand and ran out of the club. It was a grand exit, so spectacular it would have made the director of a love dorama proud. And the scene of them running hand-in-hand across crossroads and junctions would've looked perfect in any blockbuster romance.
Are all whirlwind romances doomed to an easy-come-easy-go fate? Tsubasa wonders. At this point of the transformation, it seems more of a mystery than anything else. Instead of waking up as a somewhat charming bird-nest head that would smilingly croak 'Good morning' through half-opened eyes, Takki has recently been waking up in the middle of the night to creep into his study and hide there till dawn.
'Tsubasa.... when did you come in?'
'A while ago, when you were staring at that thing.'
'Tsubasa, you know-'
'I know I'm not supposed to be here. It's your space. But how about some damned respect for me? Just what the hell is up with you? With us?'
'I've told you it's nothing.'
'You know what? I'm so sick and tired of hearing "It’s nothing. Nothing’s wrong." Right now, I'd rather you make something up and lie to me!'
Like all heavy downpours, the outburst soon died down. And after the storm, in the quiet calm, a soft revelation surfaces.
'I've been having dreams.' Takki confesses.
After scouring the kindergarten, Little Takki finally found his young sweetheart on a bench near the entrance.
'Claudia-chan,' Takki-chan cooed as he planted himself beside his first girlfriend. 'Look what I got you - Hello Kitty erasers! Aren't they cute?'
Claudia-chan looked at them absentmindedly and reverted to guarding the paper bag on her lap.
'What's in there?'
'A strawberry shortcake. My art teacher gave it to me as a reward for my latest masterpiece.'
'What did you draw?'
'My favourite person.'
'Who's that?' Takki-chan asked innocently.
Embarrassed, Claudia-chan refused to answer. Instead, she cunningly diffused the interrogation with an offer of cake.
'Aren't you eating that other half, Claudia-chan? I thought you liked cake.'
'I'm saving it for mommy. Half for you, half for mommy.'
For a moment, Takki-chan fell silent, gazing lovingly at his beloved with newfound devotion. He was touched. Even many years later, recalling that seemingly little gesture never failed to warm his heart.
With a bowed head and broken spirit, Takki hands Tsubasa the tiny white box in his hand and the diamond ring inside.
'I'd wanted to give this to you. I'd wanted to close down Claudia too. But... I kept dreaming of her.'
Turning his face away in shame, Takki continues, 'I made her a promise. I promised to love her forever. It was childish. But I think, even now.... a part of me still loves her.'
'Do you hate me?'
Tsubasa was silent for a long time.
'No. Because I loved her too.'
'Tsuba-chan, isn't this fun? Tsubasa's elder sister chirped excitedly.
That day, both his sister and mother were getting a perm at the neigbourhood salon, and his stylist-wannabe sister decided on a whim that he would look good with one too. Tsubasa didn't protest. Resistence was futile. If his elder sister wanted it, she got it, even a baby 'sister'. Until he was 12, she insisted on dressing him up in her hand-me-downs and introducing him as 'Claudia'. And his irresponsible parents were only too happy at the expenses they saved to bother about minor issues like a healthy self-image.
'Curls would so complete your transformation!' His sister chorused.
Although he pouted with all his might, Tsuba-chan didn't really mind it that much. Being a girl wasn't all bad. Everyday the cute school idiot would visit 'her', sometimes with gifts but always with hugs and kisses. Just yesterday, 'she' said yes to his marriage proposal and received a pretty ring made with blades of grass. It even had a tiny white flower on it.
'Let's pretend it's a diamond. I'll get you the real thing when we grow up,' Takki-chan promised.
'Are you sure you'll still love me then?'
'Of course, I'll love you forever!'
'Me too. Love you forever,' Tsuba-chan promised.
End. More stories at http://avery-averette.livejournal.com. Enjoy!
A/N: The title of the story is thanks to Robert Pattinson (of the Twilight fame). Apparently, his sisters really did transform him into 'Claudia' until he was 12.