First and Last and Always
This time, it’s not me, it’s them: the first and only story available is Taki’s, so whether I go for assholes or not is completely beside the point. I’m not saying I would have gone for his route first, and you can’t prove anything. But here we are, and I’m basically left with no choice than to give you this story. You’ll thank me for the sacrifice I made.
Reluctantly, the MC starts working as Taki’s housekeeper, but then she learns of an additional requirement: in order to keep people from foisting their daughters on him, Taki wants her to pretend to be the inexistent fiancée he keeps mentioning to everyone. Needless to say, the MC is thoroughly horrified, but with few other options at her disposal, she agrees.
During a dinner with one of his customers, Taki says that the MC and him have been together since High School. He knows so many very specific things about her youth, that it dawns on her that he is, in fact, Taki: her first and very much beloved boyfriend, who had left her suddenly and without explanation. Back home she confronts him, asking if it really is he; when he assents, she finds it very hard to reconcile the Taki she knew with the man standing in front of her now. Where the former was gentle and warm, this new Taki is cold as ice. He, on the other hand, insists that the past is dead and that this is all that is left of him.
Which we all know is never true. Over the course of the next several days and weeks, both of them manage to open up to each other, little by little. An old misunderstanding is cleared up: on the night they were supposed to meet for the fireworks in their hometown, Taki saw the MC kissing another man. Being a guy, he did not stop to think that she was being, in fact, sexually assaulted against her will at the time, and left without saying a word. He comes to regret his hasty decision.
Meanwhile, scumbag Tomohiro attempts to win her back, and Taki has to intervene. When Tomohiro asks them to prove that they are engaged, Taki kisses the MC in front of him. What was meant as a demonstration turns into a passionate night when they are back home. When the MC wakes up in the morning, Taki is already gone. A note says that he’ll be back the day after next, but then a terrible accusation about his actual line of work is made via a newspaper article. Can the MC trust this man that she has known for so long, and yet is a total stranger to her in some regards?
They were each others’ first loves, and as soon as the MC becomes aware of this, it’s a roller coaster. She loved Taki in High School, his leaving her without an explanation hurt her deeply. He, on the other hand, does not believe he can go back to who he was back then, as some events during the last ten years were fairly traumatic.
The MC, meanwhile, after handling the whole getting-rid-of-the-asshole situation beautifully, now has some major trust issues, so that the slightest imperfection in her relationship with Taki sends her running. This, I have to say, got old pretty fast for me. Especially since she relentlessly believes she can get the old Taki back if she just tries hard enough. Which she does, of course. But still. It seems a bit incongruous.
The epilogue hasn’t been published yet. What we do have is his PoV, illustrating the process from his side of the equation. The struggle with his past is nicely laid out, as well as the conflicting emotions he experiences through their unexpected reunion. His PoV adds to the story, and especially the ending is a little less “meh” with his side of the story visible.
The Love Meter
So, there’s a Hearts in Paradise ending and a Bodies on Fire ending. The needle pretty much went back and forth on me constantly, finally settling in the Hearts section. This ending… it could have been better. Stuff was handled in a very sub-optimal way. Maybe I should try for the other ending.
So, basically, I enjoyed this story. The twist was good, but as is usual with Voltage, not much comes of it. Also, it is increasingly clear that, about 80% of the time, I just don’t understand the MC’s fears. Although I have to say, I’ve met this “I will never trust another human with my heart” line of thinking in real life, as well, so the odd one out might be me. The story was fine, and I appreciated most of it. Shout out to Sydney, the pet crocodile, she’s awesome. The last two chapters were kinda crap, or at least somewhat mediocre. Also, that’s no way of getting someone back, you know. But well. It wasn’t entirely bad. It just wasn’t all that good, either.
PS. This is Sydney. Isn’t she adorable?