Chapter One

Change of Fates
Takashi Komuro was a man with a problem. More accurately he was a teenage boy with a problem. A dilemma, in fact.

For years he had considered himself bound by a pinky promise made on a playground to a girl name Rei Miyamoto. It was probably silly to think that way, but Takashi liked to think he was a pretty honorable guy, and he had made a promise. That had to count for something, in his opinion. Even as a kid.

But lately he’d been regretting that promise for at least two reasons. The first reason was that Rei was starting to be. . .weird. She had become more and more prone to being angry and even resentful toward him and lashing out at Takashi for little to no reason.

At first he’d tried to reason with her, trying his best to find out what was wrong so that he could help fix it. When that didn’t work he’d tried to just endure, always waiting for her to calm down, and usually apologize for doing it. That had actually worked for a couple of weeks, but then Rei suddenly seemed to become angry at him because of his reluctance to engage her in arguing.

He had tried again to get Rei to talk to him rather than yell at him, or insult him and put him down. All to no avail. He had heard “you wouldn’t understand Takashi” until he was sick of it. So on the one hand was that Rei was no longer the girl he had made the promise to in the first place.

The second problem, the second part of the dilemma, was on an entirely different level.

He had been friends with another girl, Saya Takagi, since literally their first day in school, all the way back to the age of five. The two had become fast friends on their first day of school and had stayed so until that very day, almost eleven years later. Takashi had very few secrets that Saya wasn’t privy to, and the same for her.

And lately, Takashi had been thinking very hard about Saya.

At first he had refused to entertain those thoughts. He didn’t know, wasn’t quite sure when he’d begun noticing that Saya was, for lack of a better term, beautiful. She’d always just been. . .Saya. His friend. His confidant. His. . .other. He didn’t know how else to say it. It was as if they were two halves of the same whole.

True, they couldn’t be much more different. Her parents were rich and powerful, her mother an investor and her father a wealthy man who was heavily involved in the political structure of Japan and a descendant of Samurai.

Takashi’s parents would at least be considered upper middle class, but were nowhere near the Takagi’s station in life. Not that something like that had ever mattered to Saya. At least not in their friendship. It wasn’t like Takashi was poor, or from a poor family. Far from it in fact. It was simply that Saya’s family was among the elite.

There were other differences of course. For one thing, Saya was a pure genius. Smart just didn’t cover it. While Takashi was smart, even crafty and borderline brilliant, Saya was a head above, with a mind like a computer. It seemed at times that she literally knew everything there was to know. And if she didn’t, all she had to do was read a book and then she’d know it after that. She strove for excellence in everything she did, no matter what.

Takashi on the other hand did just enough to scrape by and not an iota more. He wasn’t dumb; just the opposite in fact. He lacked motivation; a reason to work hard. He was doing okay and that was good enough for him. He couldn’t even really be called a slacker, because he wasn’t. Not really. He just didn’t seem to have reason to do any better than he was at the moment.

But he was beginning to.

Because Takashi Komuro was a man with a dilemma. A man who considered himself bound by a pinky promise made to a girl a decade ago, but now almost certain that he was in love with the girl he’d been friends with even before then.

And Saya Takagi would not tolerate his underachieving.

*****

“Why are you here?” Takashi heard Saya behind him and knew before he turned around that she would be standing there, arms folding beneath her boobs (which he had to work not to notice these days), foot tapping impatiently on the concrete.

“Just hanging out,” he told her, turning to face her and seeing exactly what he thought he would.

“You know you should be in class, baka,” Saya told him flatly. “You’re going to end up being held back a year if you don’t start working harder.”

“You know that won’t happen,” he shrugged. “And I’ve. . .I’ve just got something on my mind, that’s all. Something I need to work out.”

“On your mind?” Saya snorted. “How long could that take?”

“You might be surprised,” he told her, looking directly at her. He was pleased to see her blush slightly under his gaze.

“W-what are you looking at!” she demanded, suddenly flustered.

“Someone I’m starting to see, really see, for the first time,” he admitted suddenly, wondering where he’d gotten the nerve.

“Shut up!” Saya snapped, her face now definitely red. “I’m going back to class!” she said suddenly. “You’re not going to take me down with you, baka!”

“No, I would never do that,” he agreed after she’d gone. “In fact, this might well be the last class I skip, Takagi.” He turned back to the rail behind him, looking out over the yard below.

There really was only one road open to him now.

*****

Takashi made his way across the plaza and past the fountain to the place where he usually met Rei after school. She was there already he could see and he took a deep breath, slowing his steps. He’d headed this way earlier than usual, wanting to be there before her. Sort of an adolescent taking of the high ground, he supposed. She’d beaten him here, though.

I’m not backing down, he told himself as he steeled his nerve and walked on. I’m not backing down. I’m not backing out.

“Hello, Rei,” he said gently. She turned on him imperiously and he could see the fire in her eyes before she ever opened her mouth.

“Where have you been?” she demanded.

“Ah, in class, Rei, until five minutes ago,” he replied. “I came straight here after going to put my things in my locker.”

“I’ve been here at least that long,” she sniffed, throwing her hair over her shoulder.

“Sorry,” he raised his hands slightly along with a partial shrug of his shoulders.

“That’s not good enough!” she snapped. “We need to talk, Takashi,” she added, her tone still harsh.

“Yeah, I think we do,” he agreed, and was pleased beyond reason to see her eyes widen slightly in surprise.

“I’ve decided to date Hisashi,” she told him flatly, crossing her arms in a gesture of defiance.

“Hisashi Igou, my best friend,” Takashi said, making sure he heard her right. This had come completely out of left field.
“That’s right,” she nodded. “He’s just better for me.”

“I see,” Takashi nodded thoughtfully. On the one hand, this was great! She was breaking up with him. On the other, what kind of rat bastard ‘best friend’ went behind his friend’s back to date his girlfriend.

“I guess you two have been talking then,” he said into the silence.

“We’ve been dating the last two months, unofficially,” Rei informed him.

“Unofficially, as in sneaking around so I didn’t see it, I guess,” Takashi noted, still calm.

“I don’t have to explain myself to you!” Rei snapped. “It’s better if you just accept this and move on.”

“Okay,” he nodded, almost relieved. “That’s what I’ll do then. I hope you and he get everything you deserve, Rei.” With that he turned and started walking away.

“There’s no need to be nasty about this, Takashi!” she called, all together too loudly. He realized that she was trying to get attention from those around them and it was working. He decided to play her game against her. Her and his so called best friend, even though the back stabbing bastard had actually done him a favor without realizing it.

“You’re absolutely right, Rei,” he told her, smiling. “Like I said, I hope you and Hisashi get everything you deserve. You certainly deserve each other and I’m glad to see two people find the one they are supposed to be with. Good-bye.” He turned around and started walking again.

“You’re just walking away?” Rei called.

“Yep!” he didn’t turn around this time or stop walking. “You just told me you’ve been dating my best friend for the last two months, Rei,” he made sure his own voice carried this time. Two could play that game. “There’s not a whole lot for me to say at this point other than good-bye.”

He didn’t bother to look back or to respond to her again. He heard her saying something else as he made his way back to the building, but he ignored it. Whatever it was, he really didn’t want to hear it.

His future was in front of him as far as he was concerned.

*****

“I should have known.”
Takashi turned to see Saya standing behind him once more as he leaned on the railing overlooking the yard. It was Thursday. Three days since Rei had broken things off with him. The news had made the rounds pretty quickly thanks to Rei’s performance in the plaza. Takashi’s turning things around had caught her by surprise, and it had worked. Rei and Hisashi had found themselves the center of a lot of stares and gossip about ‘cheating’ and ‘betrayal’.

“Should have,” Takashi grinned.

“What’s going on?” Saya was instantly suspicious.

“Nothing,” he admitted. “I’m just getting some air. I was about to come back to class, to be honest.” And he had been. He had just waited five minutes to see if she’d come looking for him.

“You really expect me to believe that?” she demanded.

“No, but I’m going to prove it to you,” Takashi told her. “I’ll walk back with you.” Her face clearly showed her surprise, but she nodded.

“Yes, you will,” she told him, as if that had been her purpose all along. “It’s time you stopped moping about Miyamoto.”

“Not moping,” he shook his head slightly. He started down the steps alongside her. “Seriously not moping,” he repeated at her incredulous stare. “Best thing that ever happened to me in fact.” Her stare only intensified at that.

“Then why are you out here?” she asked, eyes narrowing again.

“Told you, Saya, just getting some air. Honestly. I had a few things to consider, and this was quiet for the moment, so. . .I used it. If there had been someone here I would have gone to the roof I guess,” he shrugged.

“And skipped the entire class,” Saya sounded almost relieved, much to his delight.

“Nope, just five minutes or so,” he assured her, opening the door into the building and holding it for her. She eyed him closely as she walked inside, waiting as he followed her in and closed the door, resetting the fire alarm.

“Lady Saya, may I walk you to class?” he asked formally, holding out his arm. She blushed beet red but took his arm without thinking about it.

“You’re starting to scare me a little, Takashi,” she told him. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I promise you, faithfully, that I am okay,” he told her, smiling brightly. “I am so very okay. And thank you for coming to check on me.”

“Y-you’re welcome,” she almost stammered. “Baka,” she added in a murmur and he laughed.

“Your baka,” he nodded and her blush deepened, but she didn’t dispute the claim. She released his arm as they reached the class room door, and he opened it for her, allowing her to enter before he did, and then going to take a seat beside her.

For the first time in several weeks, Takashi Komuro was a man without a dilemma.

He was in fact a teenager with a plan.