“This is nice…” Toma started when he realized everyone was so shocked to even speak, but after hearing him, Christine being herself, was then jolted back to reality and immediately started gushing out.
“Is it really you? Ikuta Toma in the flesh???” Christine reached over to touch his arm, Lillith's eyes went wide as if Christine did something incredible.
“He is real…” Christine whispered loudly.
I know he is real but how could I have not seen through his emails that Ik.Tomasu was Ikuta Toma?!?
Ik. Ikuta. Tomasu. Toma.
Are you that dumb not to see that coming?
I told myself as I stared at Toma. Maybe I was just being too cautious to even bring myself to have any sort of illusion on having personal contact with the person I have only seen on the internet and day dreamed about?
Toma chuckled as he observed each one of us.
“If you’re this surprised to see me, I wonder how you’re going to be if NEWS comes in.” He said this with a grin on his face.
“NO WAY!!!” Blossy suddenly exclaimed, her face had this mixture of excitement and eagerness.
"YAMAPI is coming too?!?" Christine blurted out looking awfully exciting.
“Oh… actually they’re right over there.” Toma turned around to point at where Ryo, Koyama and Shige stood.
They were standing by the counter waiting for Toma’s cue before they walked over to our table. As soon as the three stood so close to us we could smell their aftershaves, Shige flashed a bright smile.
Christine looked very much disappointed.
“We didn’t want to cause too much fuss so we asked Toma to warm up for us.” He raked his hand over his hair and this made Annie roll her eyes with a scoff but then she turned to look back at him with complete amusement in her eyes.
“We’re over being shocked now, thank you very much.” Annie announced coolly before Shige.
“I’m not.” Tali and Blossy said at the same time which made me chuckle and relax a bit.
My eyes kept darting towards Toma and yet it seems like he wasn’t looking at me.
He knew I am biniBningPunkista, since I have introduced myself earlier as Shan already. So why wasn’t he looking at me with familiarity?
Uneasiness was creeping to my gut and I was trying to suppress it hard.
“I’m looking for a certain Blossy.” Ryo suddenly announced.
“I’m her!” Blossy immediately raised her hand then had a questioning look on her face, “How did you know…”
“I’m SexyOsakaMan.” Ryo gave her a bright smile and then took a chair to seat beside her. I automatically slid my chair to the side to give him room.
It looked like Blossy was going to cry from happiness at any moment from this revelation. Christine still had that longing look on her face as she scouted around the cafe, half expecting for Yamapi to appear out of nowhere.
That’s when I noticed that everyone was suddenly engaged in a conversation which felt like I was an outsider looking in a bunch of people who already knew each other.
Tali was asking questions to Koyama while Lillith and Christine kept Toma occupied with something about his upcoming movie and Annie seemed to be enjoying Shige’s jokes despite the look she gave him earlier.
I then excused myself to no one and went to the bathroom.
My heart was doing that little flutter I always feel whenever someone I like is around. I’m suddenly stuck in my own little place and I felt pathetic for it. My head was swimming around thinking on how I could talk to Toma normally that I didn’t notice I have already bumped into someone.
The person I bumped into apologized, though it was really my fault since my head was floating and I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.
“It’s my fault, I’m sorry.” I bowed my head forgetting that the person I am talking to may not actually understand what I was saying.
“Oh… you speak English?”
That’s when I looked up and my knees almost buckled when I realized who I was talking to.
“Yamashita Tomohisa?” I said with utter surprise.
“Hai!” He nodded his head and then took my hands to shake it.
I can’t believe he is shaking my hands so casually.
Were idols in Japan usually this friendly to strangers or fans?
“You’re with…” I started to say but he cut me off saying, “I’m Ramenboy. Tell me, who’s Christine among those girls?” He pointed at our table and wriggled his eyebrows up and down so I carefully pointed out Christine so that it wouldn’t be hard for him to identify her.
“I can’t believe that NEWS is actually here, only… where is Yuya and Massu?” I asked, pretty much curious as to where those two were.
“They’ll be coming after their commercial taping.”
“Ano… thanks for pointing out Christine to me, you’re a life saver. Ramenboy is now very happy.” He was grinning at me.
“How could you tell that I’m from AFF and that I may not be Christine? For all you know I might be her already her.”
“Ah… first, not much foreigners frequent this café and second… you didn’t seem that much happy to see me. You were surprised, yes but happy? I didn’t see that in your face. Christine on the other hand, I have this feeling that she would be ecstatic to find out I’m Ramenboy.”
“You got that right.” I nodded my head in agreement.
“You should go there already. The girls would probably blow their heads off once they realize you have tagged along.” I smiled politely, then Pi bowed his head before walking over the table.
Before entering the restroom I was able to hear the loud gasps coming from our table with a very distinct shriek which I knew came from Christine. Hearing these made me smile to myself.
Inside the restroom I looked at the mirror and started pinching my cheek, checking if everything was real. I felt the pain but at the same time I still felt numb.
Why is that? It feels all like a dream that anytime now I’m going to wake up.
I heaved a loud sigh when someone came into the restroom.
When I looked at the door, I immediately recognized her as one of the AFF authors.
“Yuki?” I asked and her face lit up when she saw me.
She rushed over to give me a tight hug which was rather surprising since this was the first time we have met and yet it was comfortable as if we’ve been friends for a long time.
“Shan!!!” She exclaimed and beamed at me.
“Have you met the others yet?” I asked while I observed her face.
Yuki had these small eyes which would crinkle at the sides when she beams, her lips were set into a gentle smile and her hair was in a tight ponytail. That's when I notice her entire face was flushed.
“No… not really.” Her face filled out with redness as if she was thinking of something to be embarrassed about.
“Ok Yuki. Spill. What’s up? Your face is totally showing it, might as well tell me so I could cover for you when we get back at the table.”
“I… I came in with Kamenashi Kayuza.” She blurted out taking me by surprise.
“And here I thought I wouldn’t be surprised when other JActors keep showing up.” I chuckled at her.
“So… was he nice?” I nudged her and her face flushed once again.
“Ummm… I’m actually dating Kame for some time now.” She bowed her head looking shy.
That’s when my jaw dropped.
“You… you mean when you said you came in with Kame… you where already together before that? You brought him in as a date???” I rephrased my words.
“I didn’t want to tell anyone since I’m not sure if you guys would believe me. Kame and I met in a convention in US which was related to my work. We hit it off, starting from there.”
“That’s… so… you… I seriously don’t know what to say.” I laughed out loud and gave her another hug.
“I’m so happy for you. You’re very sly Yuki! You didn’t even give us a hint!”
“Who would have believed that I’m actually dating Kame when I just make fan-fics about him, right?”
“I know how that feels. I never thought that I was actually exchanging e-mails with my long-crush idol Ikuta Toma if I didn’t see him for myself.” I told her while shrugging.
Upon hearing this, Yuki’s eyes turned round.
“Ik. Tomasu is really Ikuta Toma?” Her voice was high pitched from astonishment.
“I myself can’t believe it.” I told her while shaking my head.
“So that's why Toma and some NEWS members were sitting on our table. This meet up is so unexpected! I came to the restroom first to let Kame greet everyone so I can have little breather.” Yuki gave me this small smile.
"Same here." I told her with a weak smile.
“You know… Kame’s fans are going to slaughter you once they find out he’s dating someone!” I said teasingly.
“That’s what I’m really afraid of.” Yuki laughed this time then added, "If Toma starts falling for you... you better watch out for your back too!"
We both laughed hard from this silly conversation and when we were finally calmed down, I was ready to go back and face everyone again.
“You ready to head back?” I asked her and she nodded then we walked out of the restroom feeling light hearted.
The saying "Time flies fast when you are having fun" was definitely true because spending time with the AFF authors and our long dreamt idols seemed like we’ve only been together for a few minutes instead of hours of talking, laughing and getting to know each other.
We were having so much fun we didn’t notice the time until the café waiter came to our table.
“Ano… excuse me but the Café is about to close now, do you have any last orders?”
All of us stopped talking and looked at each other then burst out laughing.
“No no… we’re good.” Yamapi told him and the waiter bowed and left.
“I guess this is it?” Toma begun to stand up and my heart dropped in disappointment that he wanted to leave so quickly.
“You guys want to go to a karaoke???” Yuya asked with an excited face.
“I want to!” Christine blurted out immediately and stood up from her chair to get ready.
“You guys going?” I asked Annie and the rest of the girls, they all nodded in response.
I was planning to go back to the hotel since I wasn’t that familiar with the road. Everyone was already getting out of their seats and gathering there things when someone gave me a nudge. When I turned my head to look at that person, I almost froze.
“You coming?” Toma asked with an expectant look.
Did he want me to go with them?
I didn’t know what to say but then he grabbed my hand and pulled me out of my seat.
“You should come.” He said and took my bag which was hanging from the chair.
My heart felt like it was running one hundred miles per hour as he held my hand to tag me along with the rest of them but as soon as we got out of the café, I suddenly remembered that I brought a car with me. I was about to offer a ride but everyone were already car pooling with each other until all that was left was me and Toma.
“I brought a car with me.” I told him timidly and I knew he clearly brought one too since he already had his car keys on hand.
“You can leave it here, I’ll let you ride with me then we’ll come and pick it up later.” He said with a smile.
I didn’t even have the chance to say anything because he had pulled my hand once again towards his car and opened the door for me. I never thought that Toma could be someone persistent and at the same time a gentleman. It was sort of confusing.
Inside the car, Toma hit the accelerator and we sped through the light traffic. Then I noticed that instead of following Yamapi’s car which turned to the first exit along the freeway, Toma drove on ahead.
I turned my head towards him in alarm.
“You missed the exit. They went that way.” I pointed towards the right sounding startled.
“Sorry, I really didn’t want to go with them. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to get you alone.”
You want to spend some time alone with me?
My head was spinning in giddiness as I gawked at him, looking flabbergasted.
“For someone who has so much to say on e-mails, you are awfully reserved in personal. Your face also tells me so many things even if you don’t open your mouth. I really find it cute.” Toma chuckled as he continued on driving.
There was a long silence between us because I was too embarrassed to speak but then I took the courage to ask where we were going.
“Oh… I’m bringing you to the beach.” Toma said casually.
“Really!?!” I exclaimed with an excited look on my face.
“I told you before that I’ll let you see Japan’s sunrise right? I know you like sunsets but sunrise is as wonderful. I also like seeing you this excited… I only had that look in my imagination but now… I’m glad you’re happy.” Toma gave me a smile which made my heart and stomach tumble all together.
When we finally arrived at the beach, we stood a few paces away from the water, listening to the waves crashing on the shore. Toma conveniently took out a beach blanket from his car and laid it on the sand. This made me smile inwardly because it looked like he really has prepared for this.
Toma sat on the blanket and patted the empty space beside him.
I sat next to him, feeling shy all of a sudden. There was a tiny space between us but he covered that distance by sliding over that our shoulders were now touching each other.
“I never believed in the power of the cyber world or the bonds that it could connect from different parts of the world. Can you imagine a busy person like me or you would even have the time to know each other?” Toma said with a smile on his face.
“I did look forward to your e-mails...” I muttered shyly under my breath.
“I looked forward to your e-mails too and of course your fan-fic updates… but why does it always have to be about me and Inoue Mao? Can’t you pair me off with someone else other than her? Jun Matsumoto is about to kill me every time he catches Mao reading your fic.”
We both laughed at his statement.
“I don’t know. I like the thought of you two being together.” I scratched my chin while thinking really hard about it.
“What about the perspective of “us” being together instead?” Toma said in a low tone as I turned my head to look at him only to find his eyes gazing intently on me.
I wasn’t able to speak because I was already caught in a trance by staring back into those dark piercing eyes.
Slowly, our faces inched closer towards each other until I could feel his warm breath gently brushing my face. Suddenly I stopped myself, failing from my resolution to kiss my idol because I don’t feel like I deserve him.
Toma, you're too good to be true. I’m only a woman who’s been fantasizing about you and I…
The thought that has been clouding my mind was instantly cut short when a pair of soft lips caught my own. It was a sudden but gentle probing kiss, willing me to answer back. I was already swept by the sweetness of his mouth that I dared myself to taste more. As I returned the kiss, I have also unconsciously brought my hand towards the back of his neck, setting my face closer to his. I felt him lift one side of his lips and then pull my waist towards him till our bodies were touching. We were both exuding heat from such a kiss and before I knew it I was already gasping for air. My eyes was half closed and I was breathing heavily when I parted from him, but he caught my lower lip and nibbled on it before letting me go.
I’m pretty sure my lips were a bit swollen as his was right now.
A smile escaped my lips, “You’re not just a pretty face Ikuta Toma… you’re also a good kisser.” I told him before reaching out my hand to touch his lips.
“I never thought you can be someone who is straightforward.” Toma pulled me in for a hug then turned his face towards the horizon.
“Crap… we missed the sunrise.” He whispered in my ear.
“If I get to kiss you like that again, I’m glad to miss it every day of my life.” I told Toma teasingly.
“Really?” He asked, while he stared at me looking really serious.
I was about to say something when we heard some people shouting from behind.
“Oy!!! You two!!! Why did you ditch us like that?!?” It was Shige shouting at us while the rest of the AFF authors stood there looking at me knowingly.
My face flushed when I realized they were looking at the sight of Toma and me cuddling with each other. I quickly released Toma which made him chuckle.
“You’re as shy as ever.” Toma teased and brought me back towards him to hug me more tightly.
Everyone was running towards our direction, Shige was already in the water with Annie on his back who was shrieking not to get her wet. Yamapi had his arm around Christine's shoulder as they ran towards the shore. Blossy and Ryo were both running away from Massu, Lillith and Yuya who were sprinkling them with booze. Tali and Koyama carried a huge picnic basket between them and brought it towards our place.
Yuki who was already standing nearby was beaming at me with a meaningful look while she had her hand interlaced with Kame's. I looked back at her with a grin and we both laughed at the same time confusing the men who were beside us.
“Why are you laughing?” Toma asked as he pushed a stray hair away from my eyes.
“It’s something only Yuki and I would understand.” I winked at him then he stared at me with a weird expression on his face.
“What’s with that look?” I asked suddenly feeling self conscious.
“Has anyone told you you’re adorable?” His statement made me smile and made my heart go flip-flop.
“You’re the first.” I told him honestly.
“So… is it okay for you to be with me?” He asked.
“What about the distance? Japan and Philippines is a pretty long distance from each other.” I pointed out to him.
“We’ll work it out somehow.” He assured me.
As for me? That was already enough to convince me through.