It was until the fourth day that I was finally alone with her father. Chri, the two brothers and I have been sightseeing the last few days. We mostly visited the beach. I’d manage to get away from the brothers who only thought of competing and would stroll hand in hand with Chri on the sandy beach.
I didn't know if I should be scared or not as I sat on the sofa in the living room opposite him.
“You managed to stay in this family without getting frightened,” he spoke in English. “Even Maltese guys can’t handle my sons and my daughter as they are always doing whatever they want. You, as a Japanese guy, are able to handle my family, which is why I can’t stay against you dating my daughter.” He paused and I refused to say a word.
“Since you can’t understand our language,” he switched to speaking back to his own language. I gulped as I understood. “I heard that you don't have a family. Your parents died when you were just seven and you were taken in by your late parents’ friends who treat you as their own family. Christine told me how you have started to treat us like a family as well even though I have been against you going out with her. Once someone loses their loved ones, its then they value their important person and I know how important my daughter is to you that you travelled so far just to meet us. Even if you’re not a Maltese guy, I know you’re a good guy and I know you’ll make her happy so I can leave her with you.”
A warm smile formed on the corner of my mouth.
“You’re smiling as if you understand,” he said. “But there is no way you will understand.”
My smile nearly faltered but I forced it still. Shit, I cursed inwardly. He can never find out that I understand Maltese! He was a proud man so if he found out I would be a dead man and he’d probably make my life with her a misery.
“What did you say, sir?” I said through my forced smile pretending to not understand.
I was given a surprise the night before our flight. Chri’s mother had cooked traditional Japanese food just for me. There was even rice that I missed so much. I was really glad that I have come all the way to meet them. Although I had been scared and nervous, they have taken me as a member of the family. I felt blissful as it has been ages I felt a family’s warmth.
It has been a year since I visited Chri’s family. We were happy than ever although we tend to fight occasionally which I’d end up at Ryo and Ayu’s place. But happy nevertheless after all there were no more issues regarding sex unless she was upset with me and I would have to sleep in the spare room. In fact, I was making her compensate for the year I missed out.
Lately as we were happy my friends weren't. I noticed how my friend and my self-claimed sister have been distant. I also noticed how Ayu only forced smiles whenever I was there. Even Chri took notice and was getting worried.
“What’s up?” I asked my best friend one day unable to take Ayu’s forced smiles any longer. We were sitting in a small bar near my apartment.
He shrugged. “Nothing,” he replied. “Why do you think something’s wrong?”
“Because I’m worried about Ayu-chan,” I told him. “She’s not been herself lately. Are you guys having a bad time?”
He frowned. “No. I don't think so...”
“Come on you can tell me anything,” I stated desperately wishing to help my friends as they have helped me many times. “I’ll try and help you guys however much I can.”
He laughed. “There’s nothing wrong with us.”
He wouldn't say anything after that even when I tried to pester him so much. And every day after that, I would always ask the same question and every day I would get the same nonchalant reply. It was breaking my heart to see my friends in agony as well as my girlfriend, who would come home every time she visited Ayu, crying.
So, the two of us took Ayu out so we could finally get to the bottom of it since Ryo wouldn't budge. We weren't prepared to hear that Ryo might be cheating on her. I know my friend. He wouldn't cheat on Ayu, not when he loved her so much. Yet I couldn't help but doubt him. We planned to follow him on the Wednesday’s he always disappeared for few hours.
“Damn!” I cursed under my breath. It was a Wednesday and there was a lot of traffic due to an accident ahead of us. I hit the steering wheel hard. I turned on my CD player because listening to a song always calms me down. Today of all days it wasn't working. “Damn!” I decided to switch on the radio instead.
“Ryo-kun will be leaving soon,” Chri said from the passenger seat. “What should we do?”
I stared ahead at the long queue of cars in front of me. We wouldn't make it. Just then Chri’s phone vibrated.
“It’s Ayu,” she whispered as she answered it. She quickly put her call on loud speaker for me to hear.
“Where are you?” I heard her shouting.
“Sorry, we’re stuck in traffic!” Chri shouted back over the music.
“He’s already left,” she informed us.
I grumbled. “Should we leave it until next week then?”
“But I don't want to wait that long,” Chri blurted out.
“I’ll follow him. I’ll keep my phone with me. Use GPS to track me.”
I hesitated. I didn't want her going alone just in case she wouldn't be able to handle whatever Ryo was keeping from us. Before I could utter a word my girlfriend agreed and then the line went dead.
“Dammit, Chri, why did you agree?”
“Because I don't want to see her upset any longer,” she replied, tears forming on her eyes.
I sighed. I took out my satellite navigator that could be used as GPS. Turning it on, it beeped as soon as it found Ayu’s location. The traffic wasn't going any faster. After thirty minutes of waiting in frustration I asked Chri to call her to see if she was okay. It rang for a while until it went to voicemail.
Another five minutes went by. I was getting anxious although we were nearing the location that she had stopped at. I told her to call Ayu again which once again went to voicemail.
Shit what happened, I panicked inside. I didn't want to worry Chri although she was visibly worrying already.
We got to the location and jumped out of my car. We came to the rough part of the city and I got a bad feeling forming in the pit of my stomach as I searched around looking for them. When we found them in the alley my heart sank. My steps slowed down. I could hear my own breathing and the sound of my heart beating fast against my ribcage.
The sight was heartbreaking. There was a large pool of blood beside them. Ryo was on the ground leaning his back against the damp wall, unmoving. His eyes were closed, his head bowed and resting on Ayu’s shoulder. Ayu was on the ground as well in front of him. She had her arms wrapped around Ryo’s neck, unmoving.
No, it can’t be... It can’t...
“Oh my God!” I heard Chri gasp beside me. “Ayu!” she screamed. “Ayu! What have you done...?” Her voice trailed off as she sank down on the ground staring at them in utter shock.
I snapped out of my own shock. “I’m calling an ambulance,” I announced as I fished out my cell phone from my pocket. I refuse to believe it no matter what it looked like...
“How are they?” I quickly asked breathlessly as soon as a doctor exited the emergency room where Ryo and Ayu were.
Chri, who had been crying nonstop since we came to the hospital, stopped immediately as she spotted the nurse. She got to her feet and was beside me within seconds also waiting for the response.
The doctor sighed. He pulled off his mask, leaving his apron and hat. “Nishikido-san is now in a stable condition after the blood transfusion,” he informed.
“What about Ayu-chan?” Chri cried out as the doctor was refusing to say anything else.
He hesitated. “Hamano-san needs blood type O. Our blood bank for O blood type has run out regrettably just an hour ago and it wouldn't take until another few hours before more comes in. We need to do the blood transfusion now or it will be too late. Do any of you carry the same blood type?”
I paled as well as Chri. “My blood type is A,” I whispered feeling gutted as I couldn't be any help while Ayu was fighting for her life in the other room.
“Mine too,” my girlfriend’s voice came out hoarsely.
I ran my fingers through my hair in frustration Shit, shit, shit.
“Where is she?” Bam’s loud voice brought me out of my reverie.
I turned to her and saw Jaejoong right behind her. They were at the receptionist desk. Bam was scaring the receptionist with her loud voice and glares.
“I said where is she?” she screamed.
“Bam!” I yelled over catching her attention.
She turned to me and then stalked over to us. “Why the hell couldn't you prevent this from happening?” she was yelling at me now.
I averted my eyes away for a few seconds in shame but then I had a bigger problem at the moment. “What blood type are you?”
“AB,” she replied with a frown, her anger subsided momentarily.
I glanced at the Korean guy who quickly caught on to my question. “I’m B.”
“Damn, we need a O,” I let out a breath of air haggardly.
“I’m a O.”
We all looked up to find that Jessie and Hangeng had come behind Bam. They were breathing heavily as if they had been running which they probably had. But I didn't care at the moment.
“Your blood type is O?” I asked out loud for confirmation, to the Chinese guy.
“Yes,” he nodded. “Who needs blood?”
“Are you happy to donate your blood to Hamano-san?” the doctor cut in to ask.
The four newcomers’ eyes widened. Hangeng nodded. “If it will help, then yes!”
The doctor guided Hangeng to check his blood and Jessie followed him for support. I watched as the guy who could save Ayu’s life walk away with the doctor. I relaxed just a little but just a little. I still had to wait and waiting wasn't my forte.
All six of us slept in the hospital that night. We all refused to leave just in case there was some news regarding the two or either of them woke up. The blood transfusion to Ayu had been successful but she was in ICU for the night.
I was starting to worry the next day when there were no results with the two, until after sunset. Ryo woke up. At first we never noticed although we were in his private room trying to figure out what we would do about work as none of us wanted to go. He was calling for Ayu. When he saw all of us but not Ayu, he began panicking. And when we refused to tell him where she was, he went into hysteria. The doctor and nurses had to come in to sedate him.
The next morning, we all had concluded that we won’t go to work until we were sure Ryo and Ayu were okay, all taking emergency leave. We all visited Ayu at the ICU but none of us were allowed to stay with her which is why we slept in Ryo’s private room. There was a spare bed that the girls managed to share while we boys were sleeping on the chairs and we forced Hangeng to sleep on the foldable bed for guests as we were all grateful for him saving Ayu.
Ryo woke up again that afternoon and once again was asking for Ayu. I understood him then because if I was in his shoes and I was looking for Chri, I would want them to tell me. He nearly went into another hysteric fit when he heard how we had found them dying. I forced him to listen that Ayu was okay. She was alive.
“W-what happened?” his voice was shaking and he was on the verge of breaking down to cry. “He only stabbed me and then ran away. How did she get stabbed as well?”
I opened my mouth to speak then closed it. I have already concluded what had happened. “She must have felt guilty and stabbed herself.”
“It’s my entire fault,” Chri wailed from the spare bed she sat on with the other two girls who wrapped a comforting arm around her. “If only I didn't agree.”
“It’s not your fault,” Jessie assured her gently. “You couldn't have known that this would happen.”
“I want to see her,” Ryo suddenly said making all of us gasp.
“You should rest,” Jaejoong told him in concern. “As soon as she’s out of ICU, you’ll be able to see her.”
“No!” he protested. “I want to see her now!”
He began to pull off the needles that were stuck on him. I, as well as the other foreign guys, tried to stop him. But he pushed us away.
“Get away from me,” he roared angrily.
We immediately stopped. He got off the bed and nearly fell. I stepped forward and caught him before he could fall to the floor. I told him to lean on me and I’d take him to her. My heart went out to the guy who I treated as my best friend and brother when he gave an appreciated smile even when he was in agony both emotionally and physically.
Ryo finally broke down and began crying when he saw Ayu plugged into so many machines. The six of us could do nothing but watch in despair. He had to be sedated once again as he had started to have a panic attack after crying so much.
For the next two days we all took care of him. His family who had turned up for the first day couldn't stay but they were relieved to know they could leave him to us had visited again for a day. Ryo would ignore everyone and would always go to the ICU. He’d stay there for hours until the doctors and nurses would pry him away because he needed to rest. As soon as she was out of the ICU they placed Ayu in the same room as the doctor didn't have the heart to separate them and it would also keep Ryo in bed where he should be.
Everyone was overjoyed when she had woken up after a week of sleeping. We were all finally able to relax, especially me, both my friends were alive and awake. The fear, I did not want to go through again, especially if it was Chri in the hospital.
I have already decided what I must do. Life was short. I could die any time and so could Chri which is why I wouldn't wait any longer. I’m going to ask her to marry me as soon as I was alone with her. I wasn't scared of commitment anymore as it was next to nothing against death.
I loved her and that’s all that mattered.