"So where has my darling little idiot problem child been for the past week?"
"Out." Mao answered as she stared at her alarmingly young looking old grandmother. Actually no she didn’t look young, she looked like a good mid-fifties woman. But she sure as hell didn’t look old enough to be her grandmother. Most people just assumed that Nao had been one of those unlucky women who had a child too late in their lives, not be the mother of a young mother.
"Let me tell you where you’ve been then shall I?" Nao dictated back to her.
As she left her bag at the door and sat down in her favourite chair she heard the tinkle of her million and one leather silver outlined bracelets clinking happily. Nao offered Mao an arrogant smirk and it was all Mao could do to not disrespect her authority and roll her eyes.
It wasn’t like their relationship was bad...it was just a little hostile. It was hard to explain. Mao resented the fact that she lived with Nao and Nao just had no choice but to take care of her.
"You’ve been out looking for information for your mother even after I specifically told you not to." Nao’s voice was quiet as she sauntered into her own kitchen and Mao struggled to not show expression to the face peeking out of their half open kitchen.
Of course that didn’t last very long. Nao’s powers were beyond her, and by powers she meant cooking skills.
"Fine I’m sorry. Can I have some lunch now?" She complained trying to change the subject.
Nao turned to raise her eyebrows and shake her head in a disapproving manner. She couldn’t believe that this girl wasn’t going to protest to her quite obvious accusation.
"You know what I’m not." Mao changed her mind just as quickly after receiving the look from her grandmother. Nao nodded approvingly; yes this was more like the girl she knew.
"Because I know nothing about Erika and SHE! Is my thesis!"
"Let’s forget the fact that she’s your mother and technically you’re cheating by doing this thesis. I don’t care what stupid reason you have for researching your mother. You shouldn’t do so and we’ve been through this many a time. You don't want to know who she was Meow."
With each word from her grandmother Mao only grew more determined, and more furious. "I don’t know why I bothered coming home." Mao didn’t bother controlling herself, within moments she was up and darting back towards the door where she’d left her bag lying in a position that almost screamed that she had always had the intention of leaving again. She grabbed it and shut the door with a loud bang that signified she was mad and wouldn’t be coming back for at least another three days.
Nao sighed as she felt the silence echo in their apartment. God knew where she’d go in that time but...what Mao wanted...Mao did.
Like someone else Nao knew so well. Feeling a sort of tug at her belly she lifted her shirt up to glance at the stitches she’d gotten after Erika’s birth. She had never regretted, what the doctors dubbed, the worst natural birth in the history of their hospital.
Not even when she’d betrayed all of them. Because of one reason and one reason only. Nao, no matter how much she had wanted Erika to understand that you couldn't always have what you wanted, had admired her for pushing through for what she wanted all her life.
And just like that Nao fell back into the memories of her departed daughter.
"Erika!" Nao screamed as she turned the food in the pan while their maid Yui helped by giving her the spices and other ingredients she needed in the correct measures.
"Oh god where did this girl disappear off to again?" Yui muttered quietly for she knew that if Erika didn’t show up in the next minute or two she was about to be sent off yet again to find the little heiress.
Nao didn’t care about Yui’s troubles...she cared about the safety of her daughter and thus gave her a pointed look that told her she had to go out and get Erika back inside before it became too late. She didn’t like seeing her daughter outside the house after six o’clock.
Not to mention that dinner was almost ready.
"I love you," Erika suddenly burst into the room, her tone one more of bewilderment and confusion than true sentiment. Yui took a small step back at the sudden entrance of the girl and her odd choice of words.
The little young girl understood their exact meaning when it was coming from her mother or her father but coming from whom she’d heard it from they seemed to take on an entirely different meaning.
Erika was an eleven-year-old wanderer, unable to ever keep herself from doing something at some point in time. She could never be found sitting there idly; rather she would be the life of whatever she was taking an interest in for the next thirty seconds.
Pour her deepest efforts, and all of her essence into her passions.
But of course being the fifties her extrovert attitude was found stifled by her father. Not that she would let such a tiny thing be a hindrance to her. She’d found a way to get around it and hung out incessantly with all the kids of the people her father was friends with so he wouldn’t mind all that much. So he would approve.
"Okaa-san," She started and immediately Nao's motherly instincts clicked off that this would be another of questions she couldn't answer seriously for another two years at least.
"Nani Erika?" Nao said to her daughter as she watched the peppers sizzle in a final glory and turned off the stove letting the contents of the pan cool in it before she poured it onto a serving plate.
"What does it mean when someone who isn’t related to you tells you he loves you?" Her wide doe eyes quite resembled the confusion she honestly felt. Nao found herself a little taken aback but she tried to think logically even though it was a little hard for her to imagine that this was already happening to her daughter.
She’d always known Erika was beautiful, and was bound to get hordes of young boys after her, but not quite at such a young age.
"Well he might love you for the wrong reasons or the right reasons. Can I know the context please my little flirt?" Nao grinned at the sight of a small blush rising up on Erika’s face as she turned away from her mother slightly embarrassed at the sudden allegation that her mother had thrown onto her.
"I was standing there outside waiting for- well a boy. When out of no where he came out and ran onto the yard and of course I stood there smiling like an idiot thinking we were just going to go play in the back or something. Then I found myself being hugged and he told me he loved me. That was it. I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING! Yakusoku." Nao simply wanted to hug her daughter silly as she saw Erika’s pinky pointing upwards in a pinky promise.
"Well maybe he was afraid you were mad that he kept you waiting." Nao said as she opened up the cupboard to grab the china they used daily.
"That’s never been a problem before with-" She suddenly shut up yet again as if she didn't want to say his name out loud. Like it would shame her in some way. Nao looked at her a little closer for a second and put the plate down and stopped in front of her daughter kneeling only a little to reach her daughter’s height.
"Neh Erika is this-"
Of course her daughter would not let her finish that sentence and she bounded off into her room, her own private haven. Where she could be secure from her father, her problems, and of course now this boy. Nao simply grinned. Her little girl was already getting confessions. It wouldn’t be long before the proposals started dropping by at their doors like flies.
Outside the door she could hear Erika mumble softly. Her eyes shot open at the words that her daughter had uttered and she started towards the exit but stopped halfway. No she had to offer her that little bit of privacy that she never obtained with her father.
Otherwise her little eleven-year-old girl would go mad. Still...those words...so serious at such a young age?
"Aishiteru yo." Erika repeated yet again...as if she just like her mother could not believe the words that had come out of Akanishi Jin's mouth.