MARS Fan Fiction ❯ Rise of a Fallen Angel (Part II of the Angels Series) ❯ Home ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

I've gotten a lot of reviews from people saying they like Emily. I'm glad! I didn't know what you guys would think of her. I've never written a character like her before, so it's kind of a challenge. But I'll try to keep everyone in character, and I'm going to try to keep this story at a steady pace… I've been reading over my other fics and something occurred to me--I'm the friggin' Speedy Gonzales of fanfic writing! So I've gotta break that habit…
----------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------
Chapter 4—Home
Kira took a deep breath as the plane took off. This was it; there was no turning back.
Rei, sitting beside her, was nothing short of terrified, though he hid it well enough that Kira was the only one who noticed. Emily, sitting next to the window, was listening to a portable CD player and writing in a green spiral notebook. Sighing, Kira laid her head on Rei's shoulder and closed her eyes.
The next thing she knew, she was waking up to hear the announcement that the plane would be landing in twenty minutes.
Emily had put away her notebook and her CD player and was staring out the window. Rei had fallen asleep with his head resting on Kira's, and he was holding her hand gently in his own.
After a moment, Kira shook her husband gently to wake him. “Mmm…wha?” Rei asked groggily.
“We're gonna land soon.”
“O-o-okay,” Rei said, failing to stifle a yawn. “How's Emily?”
“She hasn't said a word,” Kira replied in a whisper, casting an anxious glance at the small girl by the window. However, Emily either hadn't heard a word of the exchange, or had heard but didn't care. Either way, she didn't look at her new parents.
Rei waited impatiently for the plane to land. He wanted to get home, and he wanted to get there soon. He had to get Kira alone so they could try to find a way to get along with the newest member of their family.
Something told him this wasn't going to be easy…
Kira sat silently in a chair in their living room, watching Rei pace up and down the room. He didn't look angry, but Kira could tell that he wasn't exactly happy either. He was freaked out. Severely.
“Rei, please say something.” The words issued softly from Kira's mouth, but she knew Rei had heard them.
Rei didn't reply for awhile, but after several more minutes, he stopped pacing and turned to look at his wife. “Kira, I've never done this before. I was hoping to adopt a nice, normal kid, one I could talk to and actually get an answer from!”
“And now… I just keep feeling like this is going to blow up in my face! I just know I'm going to do or say something stupid and make all our lives worse! I don't know how to do this! I haven't had to get close to someone so closed off from the world since…”
“Since you met me,” Kira said quietly.
“Well…yeah.” Sighing, Rei began pacing again. “But she's worse than you were. I can feel it. You at least had some kind of emotion I could understand. She's just so…blank. Unattached. I won't be a good father until I know what to say to her. How can I?”
The poor, tortured man came to an abrupt halt in his pacing as he felt a soft hand on his arm, and he looked down into Kira's large, expressive eyes. Right now, those eyes were full of understanding and anxiety.
“Just…say what feels right. Try, okay? For me? Please?” She leaned forward to press a kiss against his shoulder. “That girl upstairs…she needs us. I know it.”
After a long pause, Rei sighed. “Okay. For you. But if this all blows up in my face… I wasn't here, I couldn't have done anything, I don't even know who you people are.”
Kira giggled. “Okay. Now let's go to bed. We've all got an early morning tomorrow.”
Emily was up with the sun the next morning. She lay in bed for awhile, staring at the ceiling and listened to a song on the classical radio station she'd tuned it to in an attempt to calm her thoughts.
Because while she presented a calm and unemotional face to the world, her mind was as turbulent as a river swollen from a spring rain.
The room Rei and Kira had given her had clearly never been used. The floor was hardwood, with a braided rug on the floor by the bed, the white walls were bare and waiting to be filled, and the bed was covered with two colorful quilts, white sheets sprinkled with flowers, and three thick feather pillows along with two small pillows for decoration. The only other pieces of furniture were a dresser made of deep reddish-brown wood and a matching desk, which was situated under a large window that presented a view of the city.
The rest of the house had taken her by surprise. Knowing that Kira and Rei weren't exactly short on money, she expected them to have an extravagant house filled to the brim with expensive items, and yet instead of having one of the large and expensive-looking houses located toward the outside of the city, they had chosen to live in a cozy apartment on the fifth floor of a fairly new apartment complex. All of the floors were hardwood, and there were only two bedrooms, a kitchen, a study where Kira spent much of her time painting, and the living room, which was the largest of the rooms and sported a large television set, two armchairs, a couch, and two end tables on either side of the couch. Kira and Rei's bedroom had only a queen-sized bed and a dresser, both made of the same dark reddish-brown wood that Emily's were made of. The study held all of the supplies Kira used when she painted, and several of her paintings were hung from a clothesline that had been strung up from wall to wall, so that they would dry without becoming smudged or blotched. And the kitchen was….well….a kitchen. Everything was cozy and comfortable and not the least bit intimidating.
Emily liked the place. It didn't exactly make her feel settled; nothing had, not for a long, long time. But it was the closest she'd felt to safe since that night, so long ago, when her parents, her protectors, her shields from the outside world had been taken from her in the most brutal of ways.
Sighing, the girl stood up and walked over to the window. The city was quiet, with only a few early-morning drivers on the street below. The sun wasn't even fully up yet, but Emily knew she'd never be able to go back to sleep. So, sighing, she went over to the closet, took out a pair of old, faded jeans and a blue T-shirt, got dressed, and went downstairs to make breakfast.
Rei woke up just as the sun made it's appearance. Most unusually, he sprang awake as suddenly and completely as if he'd been doused with cold water; typically, his alarm wouldn't go off for another two hours.
Go figure.
Sighing, he stretched, sat up, and looked down at the young woman lying beside him on the bed.
A fresh strip of sunshine fell through a crack in the window blinds and across Kira's sleeping face. That face was, as far as Rei was concerned, the face of an angel. Her chest rose and fell gently as she breathed peacefully in her sleep. A soft smile touched Rei's face as he gently brushed a wisp of hair out of her closed eyes. Then, after over half an hour of lying there and staring at her, he stood up, dressed quietly, and left the room.
Emily, upon reflection, had decided to make breakfast for her new parents as well. It was the least she could do for them, for taking her in. She had laid out three places on the table, and each plate had a helping of scrambled eggs, three strips of bacon, a stack of three pancakes, and two biscuits. Each also had a coffee mug next to it, and in the center of the table were plates of pancakes, bacon, and biscuits, a bowl of scrambled eggs, a gallon of milk, a gallon of orange juice, some sugar, a tub of butter, a container of syrup, and a jar of grape jelly.
When Rei entered, Emily gestured to a chair, clearly telling him to sit down, which he did. “This looks great. You must have been up since sunrise making this!”
Emily nodded and took a seat across from him and pointed at the full pot of fresh coffee on the counter. Rei got up, poured himself a mug, and sat back down.
Silence reigned in the kitchen. Neither one said a word as Emily poured herself some orange juice and they both began to eat.
All in all, Rei was relieved when Kira made her appearance ten minutes later. She was dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and running shoes. “Why didn't you wake me up, Rei?” she snapped, though her face was nothing close to irritated. “And what's all this? Don't tell me you made it…you can barely use the microwave…”
“Good morning to you, too,” Rei replied, grinning. “Emily made it. It's good, too. Eat.”
Kira smiled back at him. “All right. But I only have time for a quick bite before I leave.”
Rei looked confused. “But it's Saturday.”
“I know it is. Miki called. She needs me to swing by and check on some stuff for the auction. It won't take long, and I thought when I got back Emily and I could go over to Rumi's store. How about it, Emily? Do you like art?”
Emily nodded vigorously.
“Good. Then how about this: You can come with me to the studio, I can show you around the place, introduce you to the freaks I work with—” Here, Emily gave her a tiny smile, which Kira considered a huge feat. “What? They are! And then I can introduce you to my friend Harumi. She owns a clothing store, and she's one of Japan's biggest fashion designers. She'll give us a huge discount, and you and I can go on a shopping spree. There's a music store right next to her store, too. So I figured we can spend most of the day shopping—we had an auction at the art studio right before you came and now we're having another one, which seems weird, I know, but we need it to keep the place in the black—so I made a bunch of money selling some of my paintings and that, in addition to the salary I get for keeping the employees and the building alive, means I have a ton of money which I was saving to spend on you—and I can show you around the city, and then we can meet Rei for dinner at a new Italian restaurant. He's gonna go visit a friend of ours at the hospital. How does that sound?”
Emily blinked and nodded very slowly.
“She talks that fast a lot,” Rei said teasingly, glancing at Kira as he spoke to Emily. “You'll get used to it.”
Kira stuck out her tongue at him.
“Oh, c'mon, Kira. What are you, four?”
“No, I'm hungry. Pass the syrup.”
Emily smiled again, which was as close to a laugh as she's gotten in a while, and tossed the syrup across the table to Kira.
Life was finally starting to look up.
The art studio/music hall was located in what Rei referred to as the “artsy” part of town, with an art supply store on its left side and a music shop on its left. Across the street, a two-story bookstore and a coffee shop stood on either side of a sprawling clothing store with Rumi's Clothing and Accessories across the wall over the door in foot-high neon purple letters.
As Kira explained to Emily, Kira hadn't been able to afford the building when she'd wanted to buy it, and she hadn't thought she'd ever own the place. But then she met and became good friends with an American woman named Linda Sheffield, who wanted to turn the place into a music hall. Finally, after having known each other for about a month, the two made a deal. They became business partners, bought the building, added onto it, and used part of it as a music hall and the other part as an art studio and mini-museum.
Unfortunately, two years before Linda had moved back to L.A. and sold her part of the building to a stern and semi-unfriendly Korean who didn't know Kira and didn't particularly care about that fact. The Korean had hired an instructor for the orchestra and rarely visited the place except on business matters.
“Okay, I've gotta do some work,” Kira said as they entered the building through the double doors. “I'll be done in about an hour, maybe two, so feel free to look around until then. Miki is the only other person working today, so you'll be able to poke your nose into whatever you want and no one will stop you. So will you be okay by yourself for a while?”
Emily nodded.
“Okay. Off you go then.”
The building was much bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside. After exploring the foyer, which held only a huge desk covered with papers, pens, pencils, and a phone, she moved off through a door to her left.
She spent about an hour exploring the art exhibits. The floors throughout the building were wood, polished so that Emily could see her own reflection when she looked down, and the walls of the first room were made of a slightly darker wood and hung with colorful tapestries, portraits, landscapes, oil paintings, photographic art, and abstracts. Continuing on into the next room, Emily found a room filled with beautiful, antique tables on which sat all manner of sculptures, pottery, wood carvings, glass figurines…
After she finished looking at the art (and wishing she had the kind of talent that these artists had), Emily doubled back to the foyer and walked through the double doors on the other side.
The moment she stepped through the doors, Emily was sure she'd died and gone to a heaven that only existed in the brightest corners of her mind.
This part of the building consisted of only one room, the most beautiful room the girl had ever laid eyes on. A desk on the back wall held neat stacks of sheet music—hundreds of different tunes, dozens of sonatas, concertos galore. A music stand stood in the exact center of the room, bearing more sheet music. Surrounding it were at least fifty chairs, each with a music stand in front of it. Like the one in the center of the room, each of these stands bore several pages of music.
But what caught Emily's eye immediately was the grand piano that stood in the far corner of the huge room. Polished to a perfect shine that reflected the room perfectly, it shone black and beautiful, drawing her to it like a magnet.
Slowly, hesitantly, Emily sat down on the stool in front of the piano. Her fingers tingled, longing to feel the instrument again after so much time.
The last time she had touched a piano, she had just come to the orphanage for the second time. She had accompanied Ms. Reese to visit a woman, Rebecca Sanders, who wished to adopt a child. While Ms. Reese and her friend had been talking, Emily had wandered into a room with a piano, and she had managed to play a few notes before Mrs. Sanders had run into the room and screamed for Emily to get away from her beloved piano. Emily had never seen the woman again.
If she strained her memory, Emily could remember herself as a child, sitting on her mother's lap in the music room of the local dance club, as her mother taught her how to play the instrument. After her parents had died, Emily had continued to practice, sneaking into clubs every night after hours to teach herself how to play.
Finally, after sitting for several minutes staring at the piano, Emily reached out slowly to press one of the pearly white keys. And at that moment, the rest of the world, all of her problems, fell away into nothing, as though they had been kissed away by the softest and gentlest of touches. The world and its problems were insignificant, a tiny stain in the beautifully woven tapestry that was the music the instrument made.
Lost in the gentle, lilting notes of an old, familiar song, she didn't realize that she wasn't alone until she finished the sonata and a voice behind her said in perfect English, “I wasn't aware that the hall was open today.”
Emily jumped a foot in the air, stood so quickly that she had to grab the stool to stop it from toppling over, and dropped into a hasty bow of apology in front of the Japanese man standing in front of her. Then, as she straightened, she did a double-take. No, not a man. A boy. A Japanese boy only about three years older than herself, with raven-colored hair that brushed the tops of his shoulders and curious, gentle eyes, wearing blue jeans and a loose white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and the top button undone. Cocking her head to the side, Emily gazed at him questioningly, and he laughed. “Do you speak Japanese?”
She nodded.
“Good,” the boy said, switching to his native language. “I know English but I'd rather speak my own language—it's familiar.” He grinned at her. “I'm Akemi.”
She just nodded again.
“Um….and you are….?”
“Okay….I'll guess then.” He thought for a moment. “Maria.”
Emily shook her head.
Once again, she shook her head.
“Is it American?”
“So you're American?”
She shrugged.
She nodded.
“American name?”
Once again, a nod.
“Hmm…. Oh, I know! Emily?”
Smiling her little smile, she nodded.
“Ha! Third time's the charm. So you like music?”
Emily looked at him as if to say, “Duh.”
“Right. Stupid question. Well, you play beautifully. You can't be more than….twelve? Thirteen? But you play like a professional….”
Emily blushed faintly, but was spared the ordeal of trying to run away by a voice behind her. “Emily! What are you doing in here?”
Akemi turned quickly. “Mrs. Kashino!”
“Hey, Akemi,” Kira said, smiling. “This is Emily, the newest member of our family. This is Akemi, Emily. He lives with his music teacher in an apartment on the floor under us, and he helps Toshiro—that's the orchestra director—and I keep this place up in exchange for music lessons.”
“I've been trying to get her to talk to me, but it seems she doesn't like me enough yet. Well, never mind, that will change soon enough.” He grinned at Kira. “She's an amazing musician. The best I've heard yet. You should think about getting her in the orchestra. She's about five years younger than most of the people in it, but she's just as good as they are, maybe better. But I've gotta get back home, I just came to get some music.” He held up a small stack of sheet music, gave them a mock salute, and walked off.
“I didn't know you played, Emily,” Kira said, putting her arm around the girl's shoulder and steering her out of the room and through the double doors, back into the noise and bustle of the city. She almost added “You should have told me” before she remembered that that was not a good thing to say. After a moment, she said, “C'mon, let's head over to see Rumi.”
Harumi greeted them enthusiastically, grinning and welcoming Emily to her store. Having been called and filled in beforehand by Kira, she didn't expect the girl to talk, and she proceeded to offer a fifty percent discount on anything they wanted to buy.
By the time they met Rei at the restaurant, the car was laden down with bags of clothes, jewelry, books, several tablets of blank sheet music, a roll of canvas, and art supplies. After going to Harumi's store, they had gone shopping at a music store, a bookstore, and an art supply store. They'd had lunch at the coffee shop across the street from Kira's art studio after they'd stopped at Rumi's, then spent the rest of the day shopping.
Dinner was nice, in Emily's opinion. Kira and Rei spent the time talking about Miaka (the girl Rei had been visiting at the hospital), Kira's work, Rei's next race, and all the shopping that Kira and Emily had done. They took time to fill Emily in whenever she looked confused, and she just listened as she ate her way though four-star Italian cuisine.
That night, as Emily lay in her bed with the covers up to her chin, she smiled up at the ceiling. Well, Mom, Dad, she thought, I'm here. I have something I can....sort of call a family again. I hope you're happy for me
----------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------
So there's that chapter. I never thought I'd get it written, but I wanted it to be longer than the others. Well, there it is. R+R please!