I was five and it was shortly after my mother had left, leaving me alone to live with my father. To this day, I don’t know why she left or where she went, but a part of me will always be thankful to her for bringing Uchi Hiroki into my life.
My father worked as head of what he referred to as “security personnel” for a rich restaurant owner. When he took me in, I went to live with him on that estate.
The first time I saw Uchi, he was playing in the gardens on the estate. He was tall for his age, dressed in a summer yukata and a pair of geta. Compared to my dark complexion, his skin was as smooth and white as porcelain. I thought, for sure, that he must be a prince, or at the very least, the restaurant owner’s son.
I saw him around as I was moving in, and though I wanted desperately to talk to him, I was shy and didn’t know if I was allowed.
He seemed to be just as curious about me, and he was the first to break the ice. I was surprised to see him leaving a building on the servants quarters, convinced that he must have been the owner’s rich son that I had heard about.
“Hi,” he called, waving when he saw me looking at him.
I blushed, waving back.
He smiled broadly and rushed over to meet me. “My name is Hiroki. But you can call me Hiro.”
“My name is Nishikido. Er, Ryo.” I answered, bowing deeply.
He laughed at the bow. “How old are you, Ryo?”
“Five.” I answered, looking up at him.
“Really? I’m taller than you, and I’m only 4!”
Usually, I got angry when people commented on my height, but there was something to Hiro’s tone that made me relax.
“Do you want to play?” He asked me.
“Wouldn’t your dad mind?” I asked him.
“My dad? I don’t have a dad. It’s just me and my mom. She works here.” He grabbed my hand, pulling me up from the stairs.
“So then you’re not the owner’s son?” I asked as he dragged me across the grounds.
He laughed again and I realized that I could grow addicted to the sound. “No.”
“Oh,” I said, relieved that I had a playmate.
Hiroki and I were inseparable over the next few years. If I wasn’t at home, I was at his house and vice versa. We went to school together, ate together, and some nights we even slept together, squished onto a single futon.
I thought that I would be happy if we could go on living forever like that. Just us two. My father was never around, and although Hiro loved his mother, sometimes she never even came home at night. Back then, we used to think it was because she was working so hard.
Our friendship didn’t stay perfect, however. One day during summer vacation, my father had brought us some nets to catch stag beetles. Hiro and I were having so much fun until his mother showed up.
“Hiro, Ryo-kun,” She smiled, holding tightly onto a young boy’s hand. “This is Tadayoshi-sama. Would you let him play with you for a while?”
Hiroki’s face lit up. He had always been curious about Tadayoshi, the rich owner’s only son. Although Hiroki had lived on the estate his entire life, he had never once caught a glimpse of the other boy. Several times in the short years since I met Hiroki, he had come up with schemes to catch a glimpse of the older boy. And now that he was standing before us in the flesh, I’d never seen Hiro smile so big.
And that made me pout. I didn’t understand how some stranger could make him so happy.
“My name is Hiroki. But you can call me Hiro!” He exclaimed, grabbing Tadayoshi’s hand.
And a pang of jealousy shot through me. He introduced himself the same way as he had done to me. He grabbed Tadayoshi’s hand the same way that he had grabbed mine. His hand was supposed to hold mine. His smile was supposed to be for me.
Although I had no reason to dislike Tadayoshi, I couldn’t control the hatred I had towards him.
“Come on Ryo. Let’s teach Tadayoshi how to hunt for stag beetles!” Hiroki was still holding onto Tadayoshi’s hand, dragging him off to the side of the yard covered in thick trees.
“Wait!” I called, annoyed that Tadayoshi was getting all of Hiro’s attention. “We don’t have enough nets. He can’t play with us.”
Tadayoshi looked crest fallen, but Hiro smiled at him, handing over his net, “We can share mine.”
The whole day, I felt alone as Hiro and Tadayoshi played together. Tadayoshi was using my nets, playing with my best friend. It wasn’t fair.
After that day, Hiroki started dividing his time between Tadayoshi and me. At first, he would only go play with the older boy one or two times a week. Then, it was every other day. Soon, Hiro would go straight home from school and play with Tadayoshi. He never invited me along, and I realized that I had lost my best friend.
When we were together, we began to fight. He began walking to and from school alone. One night when we were around ten or eleven, Hiro’s mom didn’t come home. Unable to stay home alone, his mother brought him over to my house.
We were laying in my futon, the lights out when I turned to Hiroki. “Hiro-kun?”
“Hmm?” he asked, his back towards me and his voice sleepy.
“Are we still friends?”
“I guess,” he said.
“You like Tadayoshi better than me.” I meant for it to come out as a question, but it was more of a statement.
“Sometimes,” he answered honestly, and my heart sank.
I stayed silent, because I felt like if I were to open my mouth he would be able to tell that I was crying.
“But sometimes I like you better, too.” He grabbed my hand.
“Then stop playing with him so much.”
“He’s my friend.” Hiro commented.
“But I’m your best friend.”
“Stop being so jealous,” Hiro pulled his hand away from me. “I’m allowed to have two best friends.”
“I only have one though,” I said and my voice was shaking.
“Quit being a baby,” he spat at me.
“I’m not being a baby!” I shoved him, suddenly angry at him.
“You are so!” he pushed me back before standing up.
I shot up too. “Yeah, well, your mom is a whore.”
Hiroki punched me hard in the cheek. “Take that back!”
“No!” I shouted at him. “Everyone knows it’s true. You don’t still think she’s working this late at night do you?”
“Shut up!” He held his hands over his ears.
“You’re the baby!” I shouted at him, as he ran from my room.
The was the last time I saw him before the accident.
The accident happened three weeks later. Hiro was at school, but I had decided to skip, unable to stand being in the same class as him anymore.
The estate had been abuzz the morning of the accident. There was a lot of screaming and yelling and soon, Hiroki’s mom was carrying box after box out of her small house on the estate grounds.
“Despicable. I’ve never heard of such a thing,” an old woman spat at his mother.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” his mother cried, sinking to the ground.
“Sleeping with your boss? It’s shameful. Makes me wonder about that bastard son of yours…” She growled out at the younger woman. “Don’t even think about blackmailing Ohkura-sama for money. You take that child and yourself and get out of here.
“Please,” She begged. “I don’t have anywhere to take him.”
“That’s none of our concern,” The old woman said simply, before turning on her heel and leaving.
His mother sat outside a long time, crying, before my father went to her and pulled her from the ground. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but soon he was helping her carry boxes out of the house.
I was still too naïve to understand exactly what was going on, but I knew that Hiro was leaving. And it felt like somebody had stolen away my happiness. If he was still around, there was always the chance that we would make up and be friends again someday. But if he left and I never saw him again, I wouldn’t have a best friend anymore.
Hiroki didn’t come back to the estate that night, and it was a few days before I knew what happened.
“Ryo,” My father came into my bedroom one day, carrying a suit. “Get dressed.”
I didn’t know where we were going, but I knew better than to refuse. I changed into the suit and followed my father out to a limousine. Though we were poor, it was always a mystery to me why my father traveled around in limos, how he could afford expensive clothes.
After a short car ride, we arrived in the parking lot of a funeral parlor. I had been to a funeral once before when my grandmother died, so I was no stranger to where we were. I followed him inside to where there was one single child standing by the cremation fire.
It was Hiro.
He turned to me, tear streaming down his cheeks. Without a word, he rushed towards me and wrapped his arms around my waist, and buried his face in my neck.
I still didn’t understand what had happened, but I wrapped my arms around Hiro, hugging him back fiercely. In the midst of whatever had happened, our fight seemed to have ended. “Ryo,” He cried, “She’s dead.”
And then everything made sense. This funeral was for Hiroki’s mother.
I stroked his head, “I’m sorry, Hiro.”
His grip on me tightened and sob bubbled up from his throat.
“I’m sorry about what I said about your mom,” I continued.
He nodded his head, “I know.”
My grip on him tightened before my father pulled us apart. “The funeral is starting.”
After the funeral, my father took us out for ice cream. Neither Hiroki nor I were in the mood to eat, but we both sat at the booth and asked for identical ice cream sundaes anyway.
My father left to go pay for the sundaes and I turned to Hiro. “Where will you stay?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t have any family.”
“You can stay with me, Hiro. I’ll watch after you.” At 10 years, Hiroki was still bigger than me. But as he sat, staring at his hands and trying to keep from crying, I was filled with the urge to take care of him. It was my duty, from that day on, to make Hiroki happy.
He didn’t have a chance to answer as my father returned with two ice cream sundaes. He placed them on the table, one in front of each of us, before sitting down.
“Hiroki,” My father began. “There’s something you need to know.”
Hiroki looked up at him, and I thought that perhaps my dad was going to invite him to stay.
“Your father…” he began.
Hiro cleared his throat, his eyes suddenly filled with interest. “He’s alive?”
My father nodded, “He is.”
“Then will I live with him?”
“Well, it’s complicated,” my father answered, but I could see greed filling his eyes as the cogs in his head turned. He was trying to figure out a way to make the information on Hiroki’s father work in his favor.
“Who is he? Do I know him?” Hiroki asked.
My father leaned across the table towards Hiro, a grin spreading across his face. “Your father is Ohkura Hideo.”
Everything changed after that. The Hiroki that I had known throughout my childhood transformed into a stranger. He had become an angry, bitter person.
The knowledge that his father had been so close his entire life took a toll on Hiro. He couldn’t understand how his father could allow him and his mother to live as servants.
And then there was Tadayoshi. He was furious that he was treated like the bad child, when Tadayoshi was allowed to live in the lap of luxury. Even more than he hated Hideo, Hiroki seethed at the very mention of Tadayoshi’s name. And while I was happy that he no longer wanted anything to do with Tadayoshi, part of me felt sick over Hiroki’s new found anger.
With help from my father, who had obvious ulterior motives, Hiroki obtained a lawyer. First they went to the media with claims of being Hideo’s illegitimate child. When they had managed to drag Hideo and Tadayoshi through the mud, they brought their claims to court, seeking a blood test to prove their case.
They succeeded and when the results were revealed, the world knew that Hiroki was Hideo’s son. I thought that would be the end of things. Hiroki would live in the mansion, become rich, and forget about me.
And for a while, he did move into the huge mansion, and I did see less of him. But none of it took away Hiroki’s anger. When we were together, our conversations always revolved around the same subject. He was obsessed with the idea that Hideo and Tadayoshi had killed his mother.
I was afraid of the person that Hiroki became, but I had promised myself already that I would stick by his side no matter what. Losing him was the last possible thing I wanted.
He did not stay in the house long.
“I’m moving to Tokyo,” he told me one afternoon as we were sitting in the garden.
“I’m coming with you.” I answered.
“Are you sure?” he asked me. I nodded my head in reply and he smiled. The first genuine smile I had seen from him in months. And it was because of me. “Will you stay by my side forever, Ryo?”
“Of course.” I smiled back, grabbing his hand.
In Tokyo, Hiro and I went to separate schools. I didn’t have the money or the grades to join him at the expensive school that Hideo had sent him off to.
Adjusting to life in Tokyo was difficult. I had moved there so that I could stay by Hiroki’s side. But he was living at an all boy’s school and I was living in an apartment with my father. We hardly saw each other, and when we did, we were always surrounded by my father and his “associates”.
We were both heading into our teenage years, and Hiroki was more taken with my father and his business operations than spending time with me. Slowly, I started to realize that Hiroki and I didn’t have anything in common anymore.
Soon, his visits to the apartment weren’t to see me, but my father. Hiroki had lost one parent, and couldn’t see eye-to-eye with the other. So perhaps he saw a parental figure in my own father.
By the time I was 14 or 15, I understood what it was that my father did for a living. When I was a child, he would hide the drugs and guns from me. Or perhaps I was just too innocent to notice it. Either way, Hiroki’s fascination with the lifestyle scared me.
When I tried to bring it up, he would get angry with me. Like whenever we fought, from the time we were kids, he would call me a baby and tell me to mind my own business.
So I took to ignoring him. When he came around, I would leave. At school, I made my own friends and I was rarely ever home.
One night, I went out with friends, and when I came home he was waiting for me in my bedroom. He was just sitting there in the dark on my bed.
“Where were you?” he asked, and though his voice was calm, I could tell he was angry by the way his nostrils were flaring.
“I went out with my friends.” I answered defiantly.
He shot out of the bed and crossed the room towards me. “Who said you could go out with your friends?”
“I don’t need your permission.” I stomped away from him.
“Ryo,” he said firmly, and I turned to face him. “You said you would stay by my side forever.”
I was torn between anger and sadness. “You’re the one who left my side.”
“Come here,” he said, and his voice was gentle but firm. I crossed the room to where he was standing, and he reached up, touching my face. And then he gripped my chin tightly in his hand. “Ryo.”
“Hmm?” I answered, trying to move away from the painful grip he had on me.
“You’re mine. You promised yourself to me. Don’t forget that.” He let go of me, turning to the door and leaving the room with a slam.
I sank to the floor and cried. My Hiro had changed, and I knew I would never get him back.
I knew, even back then, that the wisest thing to do would be to leave Hiroki forever. His violent display from that night was only the beginning of things.
He became desperate to keep me by his side, and I obediently followed everything that he told me to do. I know that I should have been afraid that he would hurt me if I said no. But even more than that, I was afraid of disappointing Hiroki.
When Hiroki got involved in drugs, I did too. When I was high, there was no fear of Hiroki, or who he had become. Those were the moments when I only thought of him as my precious best friend. And when he started carrying a gun with him, I followed. My father found it amusing how I would follow Hiroki’s every whim, often calling me weak.
Hiroki was probably more of a son to him than I was.
I started skipping school, and lost touch with all of the friends I had made in Tokyo. My world consisted only of Hiroki. And for a while I was happy with that.
The Hiroki that I knew and loved was buried somewhere deep down still, and I think the only thing that kept me around as long, was the fact that I thought that Hiro might come back to me someday.
But the longer I waited, the more desperate and isolated I felt. Hiroki kept me on a short leash, but came and went as he pleased. I knew he was in something that I couldn’t save him from. And it became too hard to stand around and watch him slowly kill himself.
So I tried to leave.
I packed only the bare necessities and left in the middle of the night, back to the only place I could think of, Osaka.
I was foolish to think that it would end there. Of course Hiro would come looking for me. And with him, he brought my father.
With their ties to the streets, it didn’t take them long to track down the homeless shelter where I was staying.
“Ryo,” Hiroki smirked after he had found me. “You can’t run away from me.”
“Leave me alone, Hiro,” I replied weakly.
“Come back home with me,” he started towards me.
“I’m staying here.”
“Have you already forgotten your promise to me?” He continued advancing towards me.
“I can’t do this anymore,” I could feel the tears start to come, but I held them back. I couldn’t let my father see me cry.
“Ryo, get your things. You’re coming back.” My father said, his voice final.
But still, I shook my head.
“Don’t tell me you’re gonna grow a backbone now?” He smirked, his hand moving towards his gun’s holster. “Are you gonna make me do this the hard way?”
I thought he was bluffing, so I ignored him, standing my ground.
“Fine,” he said, when he saw that I had no intention of coming with. He pulled the gun from the holster and aimed it at my chest. “One final chance. Are you coming or not?”
I shook my head again, crossing my arms over my chest.
“What are you doing?” Hiroki asked, staring with wide eyes at my father.
“Are you gonna be a pussy now too?” My father smirked as his finger curled around the trigger.
And then with a flash, a loud snap sounded, echoing off the walls.
“FUCK!” I screamed, grabbing my arm as pain shot through me.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Hiroki screamed at my father. “You shot him.”
“He’ll be fine. It’s just a flesh wound,” my father smirked. “He has to learn that this is what things are like in the real world.”
I stared down at my arm in shock, red liquid pooling out between the fingers clasped tightly around the wound.
Hiroki ran over to me, “Ryo, are you okay?”
“Leave me alone,” I spat, seething in anger.
Outside, I could hear police sirens. “Come on,” my dad grabbed Hiroki’s arm, pulling him from the room. “The police are coming.”
I ignored them, staring at the drips of blood pooling around my feet.
Before leaving, my father turned to me one last time, “I expect you home tomorrow.”
The police came and carted me away to the hospital in an ambulance. I was asked question after question about what had happened, but I refused to answer.
The more I thought about it the angry I became. I never believed that I would hate Hiroki, but when I was left alone to my thoughts, the hate continued to grow.
He was the reason behind all of my pain. If I had never met him, I would never be addicted to drugs. I would never have been shot. I would have friends, and school and a happy life if I had never met him.
The part that made me the most angry, I thought, was that he had left me alone, hurt both physically and emotionally. Maybe I thought that if I left, Hiro would become afraid of losing me. Perhaps he would realize all the mistakes he had made and try to change.
I was released from the hospital after a day, but I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t go back to Tokyo. I never wanted to see Hiroki or my father ever again.
“You need somewhere to go?” a police officer asked me.
I nodded, but I still wasn’t sure that I could trust him. Although he wasn’t one of the police officers constantly demanding answers, he had been lurking around.
He took me a to a clinic, where I thought, perhaps I had a chance at getting better. But it was too hard. I was alone, withdrawal was hard, and no one seemed to want to help me.
It wasn’t until Uchi came back that I started to feel anything but anger. Those long weeks apart from him had made me so furiously angry that I didn’t think I could ever see him.
But when I saw his face, when he visited me at the clinic, all the feelings I had for him came back. His face, his voice, everything reminded me of the precious best friend from my childhood. And though I told him I hated him, I was lying to myself.
I loved Uchi Hiroki more than anyone or anything else.
When my father came back a second time, I was terrified. How could I possibly go back to Tokyo with the man who shot me? And then Uchi came in.
With a gun.
And I was even more terrified. I would rather have my father shoot me a million times over than have Hiroki carry the burden of physically harming another person. I knew he had changed, but if he crossed the line into murder, I doubt he would have ever returned to the Hiro I had loved for most of my life.
And when he put the gun down, and looked into my eyes, I saw that old Hiroki. I saw that he wanted to change. I saw that he was sorry. But most of all, I saw that he loved me.
I wasn’t ready to completely forgive him, though I wanted nothing more than to return to his side. And in order to heal, I needed time to myself.
During our time apart, Hiroki had been amazingly patient, and it proved to me how much he wanted me back in his life. So, slowly, I decided to let him back into mine.
After I left the clinic, through some miracle, I was accepted into university back in Tokyo. I had dreams of being an actor, and Hiroki supported my decision and encouraged me.
Seeing him once or twice a week graduated to almost every day. Soon, he was spending nights sleeping on my couch and tagging along to classes with me.
He was so wonderful, and I could honestly tell how hard he was trying. He had forgiven Tadayoshi, realized that none of what happened was his brother’s fault. Some days I was startled at his maturity and kindness.
But then there were days when his jealousy and anger would get the best of him. If I wasn’t home when he expected me to be. Or if I cancelled our plans in order to study. Or if he felt like I was spending too much time with my friends.
So, I tried to help him. I invited him along on outings with my friends. I thought he would see it was harmless, maybe have some fun, or make some new friends.
He didn’t care for my friends very much and didn’t waste any time telling me.
“I don’t like that Tatsuya guy,” Uchi commented on a cab ride back from one of the outings.
“Why not?” I asked, feeling slightly annoyed at him.
“I don’t like the way he looks at you,” Hiro pouted, staring out the window and crossing his arms over his chest.
“He’s fine,” I commented dryly, choosing to ignore his pouting.
The next time we went out, Hiroki made his distaste for Tatsuya clear. He interrupted whatever conversation I had with my friend. Made snide remarks about everything he said. Like an idiot he would wrap his arm around me whenever Tatsuya got clear.
Hiroki was grating on my last nerve, so I left to the bathroom to cool down. When I came back, Tatsuya was on the floor, nursing a rapidly bruising cheek. And Hiroki was standing over him, fist raised.
“What the hell are you doing?” I shouted at him, pulling him away from Tatsuya.
“He needs to learn to shut his mouth,” Hiroki growled, shrugging me off.
“I’m leaving,” Tatsuya shot up. “Ryo, here’s some advice. Ditch the psychopath.”
And then Tatsuya and the rest of my friends left. I turned to Ryo, “I can’t believe you. You’re such an idiot.”
I grabbed my jacket and left the restaurant where we had been eating. I could hear Hiro running to catch up with me as I stomped down the street. “Ryo, wait!”
I ignored him, deciding that walking back to my apartment would help me cool down. I could hear Hiro following me, but I didn’t bother acknowledging him and he didn’t try to talk to me again.
When we got to my apartment, he followed me upstairs. “Ryo, can we please talk about this?”
“What is there to talk about?” I threw my jacket on a chair and turned towards my bedroom.
“Will you let me explain?”
“There isn’t anything to explain, Hiroki. You’ve made it clear that I can’t trust you. And I can’t live normally with you around. As far as I am concerned, our friendship is over.” With that I went into my bedroom and slammed the door shut behind me.
I stripped down to my boxers, still fuming with anger over how stupid Hiroki was as I crawled under the sheets.
I heard the door creak open a while. I had closed my eyes and tried my hardest to fall asleep but I was still so angry at Hiroki that I felt like I could punch a hole straight through the wall.
“Ryo-chan?” He whispered. “Are you awake?”
I decided to feign sleep in fear that if I spoke, my anger would get the best of me and I would end up saying something I would regret.
I heard the sound of his bare feet against the wooden floor as he crossed the room towards my bed. “Ryo?” he asked again.
I pretended to roll over in my sleep, presenting him with my back. I heard him sigh, felt the bed move as he sat down gently on the mattress. “Please don't stay mad at me.”
It was soft, barely audible but I heard him all the same. I rolled in bed then, facing him so that I could hear him properly. Still I didn't let on that I was awake.
His hand went to my forehead, brushing hair from it and though I was still mad at him, it felt incredibly nice. “I know you hate when I get possessive. I’ve tried to change, tried to make you happy. But it’s no use.”
I could feel my anger start to rise again at Hiro’s arrogance. We both knew that he didn’t try to change. From the moment that I met Uchi Hiroki, it had always been about him and what he wanted. He was selfish to a fault.
Deep inside, I hoped that Uchi would change. That he would try to think about me instead of himself, but every chance I gave him was wasted. He would never change, and I was beginning to think that our friendship was becoming an impossibility.
As I lay there in bed, my anger continued to escalate until I was balling up my fists, ready to punch the object of my anger and tell him to get out of my room, and out of my life.
And then his hand trailed down my arm, and I relaxed as his hand found my own, threading his fingers tightly through mine. “I know I don’t deserve you. I make you mad more often than I make you smile. I’m stubborn and selfish and stupid.”
I sighed, melting slightly at both his words and the way his hands felt in my own. This was just like him. We both knew that he would never change. He’d never get over his jealousy or his possessiveness. We’d never be able to get along. We wanted different things.
Hiroki had proved time and again that we were no good for each other. Whenever I was around him, I was consumed with a feeling of suffocation. And if I knew what was good for me, I would kick him out of my life.
The only thing stopping me was that I just couldn’t imagine living a life without him in it. Of course he was stubborn and selfish and stupid just like he’d said. But he was also my best friend. For as long as I can remember when I was lonely or sad or angry, Uchi Hiroki was by my side.
If he were to just disappear and walk out of my life forever, what would I have left? Sure, he was the reason behind most of my anger and my sadness. But he was also the reason for my happiness. If he was gone, perhaps I wouldn’t feel sad as often or as angry or as isolated from the rest of the world, but I probably wouldn’t be happy either.
I knew the suffocation I felt when I was around him wasn’t because he was an all-consuming burden on me. The truth was that I was in love with him. I had been in love with him since I knew what love meant.
Love isn’t easy. I knew that it wasn’t all butterflies and dandelions. We both knew that he would hurt me again. And that I would hurt him back. Most of all, I knew that I had to decide now whether all of that pain was worth it.
The bed shifted again and I could feel Hiroki lay down next to me, his shoulder butting against mine. I didn’t dare look at him, I could feel his eyes on my face. And sure enough, I could feel his fingers trace my face, slide along my cheekbones before dancing over my lips.
“I wish I could make you happy. I wish that I could change. I wish that I hadn’t punched that guy and that you weren’t mad at me right now. But I can’t change how I feel. In my head, you’re mine.”
My heart beat wildly in my chest as his warm lips connected with my cheek. And then they were gone and the room was silent.
This time, I did open my eyes and when I did, Hiroki’s were closed. “Does that mean that you’re mine?” I asked, my voice coming out surprisingly soft.
“Huh?” Hiroki asked, his eyes wide as he realized that I had heard every word of his confession. And before he had time to answer, I lowered my lips to his, kissing him slowly.
Choosing Uchi Hiroki was by far the easiest decision of my life.
A/N: This story and Subaru's Story were written to help catch readers up on what's happened to the side characters in the time that has passed between the first story and the sequel. Now that this is out of the way, I will be posting Chapter 1 of the sequel soon.