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Disclaimer: Look! Itfs another disclaimer! Gravitation doesnft belong to me and as a fangirl, I do this for fun and

for fun alone. We donft make a profit out of this <3 Nya! (Editing is horrible!)





Clearing Smoke





Her marriage was crumbling, its delicate pillars refusing to hold against all the doubt and misgivings that had piled throughout

the years. She hid it behind a quiet little smile though, a smile in which her lips were pressed so tightly to keep traitorous words

within her turmoil-infested heart. And as her husbandfs many acquaintances, friends and enemies, her own immediate family and

friends, walked about her smiling in and laughing about the season, she watched her husband closely, wondering idly about the

turmoil within him and if he was, in fact, in turmoil.



Uesugi Mika, a woman who preferred to refer to herself under her maiden name due to the many aspects of her marriage, was in

turmoil. For once in her long life, as it now felt, she was desperate and insecure, and eternally so like she would be for a long,

long time yet. She knew insecurity and doubt but had known it to be temporary, unlike now. She was no longer young and she

had a son. Her husband, Seguchi Tohma, was a man of reputation and for the past few months that very same reputation Tohma

had been cleverly attacked and used against him, and them.



Seguchi Tohma was, for the first time in his long-running career, knee-deep in a scandal that was putting more strain than Mika

could handle on their marriage. That was why their marriage was crumbling. That was why the doubts were materializing one by

one inside Mikafs mind and threatening her illusion. Because Mika had known it was all but a dream and she was fooling
herselfc all alongc all along.



gMika-san, youfre looking a bit tired.h



Mika blinked and turned her head to the source of the voice, never once letting the smile on her face to falter or her eyes to

twitch after being so suddenly interrupted in her thoughts. Ayaka, who had come to the annual N-G Christmas party, stood in

front of her in her dainty red and green dress, holding out two plastic cups of what-looked-to-be punch from the local counter.



gI suppose I am.h Mika managed to say without delay and accepted when Ayaka handed her a cup. She said a quick eThank youf

with a slight, obligatory, bow and smiled wider. Ayaka returned her smile with a smile of her own and fell back beside her,

opening her mouth to start a light conversation. Mika was ready for this, having pointed out the sympathy, perhaps pity, in the

younger womanfs eyes beforehand. Ever since the scandalfs break a few months ago, shefd been the target of eassuringf

conversations or indirect eI feel sorry for youf phrases. She didnft particularly like it, especially when they did it with her three-

year-old son around, but she decided acting gracious and pretending not to read into their suddenly ecaringf actions was the

best remedy. And it was working; she no longer felt contempt towards their actions.



gTheyfre sorting things out, Mika-san. Everything should be well.h Ayaka whispered quietly and Mika was glad to know the

Usami heiress was not looking at her. She nodded quietly; she didnft quite believe that but disapproving would not, could not

do anything in the situation. gIfm surec Kyousuke made it all up to get publicity.h Ayaka paused, gWe all know how it is with

the show business. Sakuma-sanc and Shindou-sanc they got through it. And Hiro tooch



Mika held a treacherous chuckle back and resisted the urge to sprout a deeply sarcastic response to that. Sakuma Ryuichi had

been
obviously disinterested in women to begin with and the same went with Shindou Shuichi who could not be seen in public with

her famed novelist brother, Yuki Eiri, without being practically glued to the man. And then Hiro had been engaged to none other

than Usami Ayaka when a rising TV actress claimed to have been having an affair with the man. His devotion and marriage with

his fiancée earlier in the year pretty much summed it up for the public that he was in no way interested in an ex-porn star

bombshell.



But Tohma – Tohma just had the luck to be caught with a scandal that hit a bit too close to home. A few months earlier

blonde, half-American-half-Japanese Sagano Kyousuke, a reject from NG-records, came out on TV to promote his debut single

under a new label. By the end of the show, he ended up becoming the subject of every housewifefs gossip after admitting to
having had a sexual affair with his former employer, the elusive NG Records President, Seguchi Tohma. That was where and

when it all begun and the sad thing was, Mika wasnft so sure whether to believe him or not. She was not blind. She had known

about Tohmafs unhealthy eobsessionf with her brother and had, for a while early in their marriage, suspected the real intention

behind his
agreeing to the marriage.



It wasnft that Tohma neglected her and her needs, however rare that may come – she was not a demanding woman. It was

just that, she hadc. She just never knew where they stood in their relationship and oftentimes Mika found herself just going

with the flow. She had never thought about, never worried about Tohma being gay, or marrying her out of spite. In fact, she had
never had the reason to do so and had always been willing to calmly lay out a simple explanation to counter the doubts that

threatened to surface. She had survived like this for so long but now, it seemed, she couldnft continue misleading herself with

baseless, disillusioning words.



She suspected it was because she now had a son through the man and the thought of her son being affected by the inevitable

destructive aftermath of this scandal scared her.



Tohmafs love for you isnft that kind of love. Itfs not the romantic type. Itfs platonic.



c.Itfs like a father, protecting his child.



gIfm sure it will all get sorted out.h Mika found herself saying finally though at the back of her mind she was idly playing with the
thought of who would file for divorce first and if Tohma would let her have custody of their son. She turned to Ayaka who

looked glad about her response and Mika couldnft help but notice the silver ring on the younger womanfs left hand when she

lifted her cup to drink from it.



Just how much was a simple pair of rings and a piece of paper worth?



gIfd love to get away from this party as soon as possible.h Mika said offhandedly with a tinge of irritation that immediately

caught her companionfs attention. Ayaka gave a curious look and she grinned before sighing exaggeratedly. gBut if I leave any

sooner than him, the whole of Japan will take it as if I was walking out of our marriage.h The tone in her voice was light,

almost joking and Ayaka laughed, but little did she know just how serious Mika was about it.



And how Mika wanted to simply walk out of the party in reality, even if it meant walking out of their marriage ultimately.



---



The ride back home was longer than usual with the couple in a no-talking stance. The atmosphere in the car was remarkably

colder than the winter weather outside and even Tohma seemed to notice it. Mika couldnft care less though, being satisfied with

the foggy view the window in her side of the car provided. It was because of this distraction though that the usually road-

attentive Mika, who was very much fond of fast cars and tricky roads like her brothers, didnft notice Tohmafs change of

direction until they stopped. Mika started when she realized, in looking out of the window, that they werenft anywhere near their

apartment complex but Tohma cut her off effectively in a cold, almost monotone voice that truthfully scared Mika.



gI donft think we should go home in this way, Mika-san. Whether or not Chihiro is awake, he will notice the obviousc rift

c between us as of late if we come home like this.h Tohma was staring straight ahead, avoiding her gaze and she smiled.



gAnd you think coming home alone while I begin to rot in some nearby gutter will be better?h Mika countered defiantly, ignoring

the fear welling in her heart. She was well aware of what Tohma could do and that crossing that line with her husband
could mean more than divorce. After all, this was the man who almost put an end to one Aizawa Takifs life without qualms for

hurting her beloved little brother. God, donft think about Eiri anymore.



The moments of silence that followed was filled with what Mika imagined to be one-sided tension. She could practically hear her

heartbeat booming in her ears and it struck her suddenly how much she simply did not know Tohma anymore. It frightened her

and then there was that uneasy feeling that would not go away and she could not quite identify. It made her want to break down

but she held herself up, using the steeliness that had kept her going even as she had to literally be her younger brothersf new

maternal figure to keep herself from tearing.



gMika-san.h Tohma was still avoiding her gaze and he spoke softly, gWhat makes you think Ifm planning toc kill

c you tonight to solve this problem?h



He seemed to hesitate and then he added, gChihiro would not want that.h



gYoufve done it before, Tohma.h Mika pointed out quietly, gAnd Ifm sure Eiri did not need and honestly want you to almost kill

Aizawa.h



Mika watched as her husbandfs lips disappeared into a thin line and she bit her lower lip, already formulating more

countermeasures.



gYoufre dragging Eiri-kun into this again.h Tohma reminded softly and Mikafs delicately shaped eyebrows drew together in a

frown.



gItfs because hefs always been every single equation you draw, Tohma.h Mika countered, gIn every single situation and reason

– it all comes back to Eiri.h



There was a pause and Tohma lifted a hand off the steering wheel and ran it through his hair. It was the first movement hefd

done ever since he began the conversation.



gYou think I really did have an affair with that boy, donft you?h Tohma asked softly and then continued in a harsher tone

that was slightly laced with sarcasm – a frightening combination for the usually calm and collected President. gYou think I

was really fucking the boy behind my office desk and behind the recording booths, donft you?h He turned her to her

smiled, gMika-san?h



Mikafs breath caught and she froze visibly. Unconsciously, she began to edge away from the blonde, pressing her back against

the safety of the car door.



gYes!h She spat and then laughed as she ran a hand through her hair. gYes! Yes, Tohma! I believe their juicy lies, their fucking

supposed-exaggerations and it would honestly make me happy if you admitted it in public and filed for divorce and ran with the

boy instead of beating around the bush like this!h



She swallowed and then smiled condescendingly, gOr are you afraid of their prejudice, Tohma? Are you?h



Tohma didnft say anything and instead closed his eyes as he sat back.



Mika viewed this as an act of confirmation and she felt the last of her walls threatening to break down. gTohma.h She hissed

through gritted teeth, gIfm tired of all of this. Whether this scandal is solved or not, I donft care what the outcome is but Ifm

getting a divorce.h She breathed deeply and swallowed, gAnd then, you can go your way and Ifll go mine. Wefve been suffering

together for far too long and this was meant to be a marriage of convenience.h



gYou have your money, your power and your reputation.h Mika added and then finished, gI need my life back.h



Again, Tohma didnft say anything and she balled her fists, feeling the frustration bottled up within her rise up to unbearable

limits. gI want your answer, Tohma! I donft think I want to live like this for a couple of years more – I donft intend to sit

around until you discard me once Ifm too old to find any—g



gcFaithlessch Tohma whispered suddenly. Mikafs breath hitched and she found herself unable to continue when Tohma

opened his eyes and turned to her, anger written all over his face.



Mika started but Tohma cut her off immediately. gMika-san.h He said harshly, gThree years ago, when I promised to

protect you and our son, I meant it.h



The blonde looked away and then added with what could almost pass for sincerity, gIt hurts me to know you have no faith in me.

h



Mika clenched her fists until her knuckles were white and it irked her, irked her so much how Tohma could still say something to
self-righteous and how he could make you feel like you were in the wrong all along. She hated it but she refused to believe him,

refused to let his sweet-talking get to her.



gI have every right to doubt the man who agreed to this marriage because of the bridefs brother.h Mika stated calmly, ignoring

the fact that she was pretty much digging out old grudges against her husband. gAnd why am I supposed to believe you,

Tohma-kun? Youfre the man who sweet-talks his way with lies and blackmail up the social ladder. I refuse

to be manipulated by you any more.h She spat her last sentence vehemently and ignored whatever reaction her outburst had

elicited from the blonde.



Tohma swallowed and was visibly shaking. Mika waited, empowered by knowledge that she had hit a nerve. It hurt to know just

how much mentioning her brother affected her husband but it only strengthened the doubts she had long been cultivating inside

her mind. Finally, Tohma spoke.



gI loved Eiri.h He whispered, almost in shame and Mika did not know whether to be smug or to be terribly hurt by this emission

of truth. gIt was true I was alright with the arranged marriage because of thatc..h He trailed away and then stopped ultimately.

Mika breathed in slowly and closed her eyes, already feeling the telltale burning down her throat.



gMika-san—g



Mika sighed slowly as she struggled to keep her breathing even and opened the door beside her before stepping out. She

ignored Tohma behind her and began walking away to the first direction that came to mind; ahead and away from Tohma.



She heard the doors from Tohmafs side of the car open and close but refused to turn around even when Tohma called out to her.



gMika-sancPlease, stop.h Tohma called out the second time and then continued in a much softer voice that resonated in

the darkness. gLet me finish, Mika.h



That stopped her then and she lowered her gaze to the gravel beneath her expensive shoes, ignoring the biting cold weather.



gI meant – yes, I was attracted to Eiri-kun the first time I saw him.h Tohma paused, gI wonft deny myc nature,
if you put it that way. I wanted to have him, yes. But I knew my boundaries, Mika-san. And I settled for being his

guardian, his over affectionate-guardian, if you like to put it that way.h



gThat still doesnft quite justify your unfair usage of me, Tohma-kun.h Mika whispered harshly and then

laughed ironically, gWait, you werenft using me to begin with. You were taking advantage of me because whether

we liked it or not, we were arranged into this marriage.h



There was a long pause from Tohmafs side and then the sound of his feet on the gravel hit Mikafs ears. It was just a few steps

and Mika was glad he did not decided to go further.



gI did, honestly, lovec Mika-san.h Tohma began, sounding hesitant. gI enjoyed your support. I probablyc I probably took you

for granted. You and your trust and thought I could go on assuming you understand mec when you donftch



gYes, I donft understand you, Tohma. Ifm not God. Ifm not up to par with you and your skill, Ifm sorry.h



gMika-san, I donft mean it in that way. Itfsc notch Her husband paused then, gHow can I make you believe Ifm not playing

with your mind?h



gYoufre a naturally manipulative person, Tohma.h Mika said softly, gThat would be hard.h



gIfm realizing that.h He paused and then seemed to lighten, gI never prepared for this. I never thought it would come to this. I

never had the reason to think so.h



gYou kept a tight lid on all of your other affairs, you failed on this one. Of course, Tohma, no plan or procedure is impregnable.
Youfre not God. Youfre not perfect. h



gI know.h



The sound of gravel shifting under moving weight reached Mikafs ears and before she could think about them, a pair of arms

encircled her shoulders.



gIfll have you know, Mika-sancMika, I never did plan on impregnating women and then running off with their children, in

fact, if it were any other woman, I would have had arranged for something to cause a miscarriage for them.h Tohma said softly, in

a frighteningly truthful voice and Mika struggled to break free from her husbandfs grasp only to find those arms to tighten even

more around her.



gWere you looking for that kind of reply, Mika?h Tohma whispered distantly, gBecause I canft seem to find the right words right

now that would satisfy you.h



gMaybe.h Mika replied in kind and there was a long pause between the two of them. Then, she quietly extracted herself from

Tohma, who willingly let her go this time, and stepped away from him. They stayed like that for a while, motionless and then

Mika turned around and looked at her husband straight in the eye.



gMaybe I need something more.h Mika whispered quietly and took a small step forward before placing her hands, cold from the

weather, on both sides of his face and then leaning forward to press a soft kiss on his lips.



The kiss deepened and lasted for a couple of minutes until Mika broke away and smiled at her husband.



gI want something simple, Tohma. Some reassurance.h



Tohma smiled back, gently and then held Mika close as he pressed a kiss on her forehead.



gYou would want something cliched, Mika?h



She nodded and Tohma suddenly looked wistful, as if realizing something worth regretting.



And then he smiled, laughing softly.



gI love you, Mika.h







---







A/N: Screw edits again, ne? Editing is such a pain for me, I can never read through something I wrote for the nth time

just to edit because my eyes automatically screen past mistakes, or something like that. I wrote this months ago, around

December, for a Secret Santa exchange though, upon finishing it, I realized itfs a bit too heavy for something themed for

Christmas. Still, itfs undoubtedly fluffy, isnft it? I enjoyed writing it, for some reason though now looking back it feels a bit too

short and not elaborate enough. I suppose this is the extent of my writing abilities. Ifve come to really hate my writing as

of late. gDunf wanna write anymore!h I end up saying whenever I try and finish my ongoing fics or start a new one. But I still do

it T_T, so persistent. Nanana. I should stick with drawing – or sketching though that doesnft go very far either.



One day! Ifll make a doujin! Yes! Then maybe, if my muses really donft work, Ifll continue Yuki and Tamashii no

Rufuran
in doujin form! Yay!



^_^

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