Can I Buy You?
Danica clearly remembered the experiences, but never the faces nor the words.
As a woman who prided herself on her memory and analytical skills at present, she hardly recognized the sweet, shy little girl she was before. In looking through photo albums or reminiscing with her family and friends around the living room, she knew that the little girl they mentioned in passing was her, and she knew where it all began, but she didn't remember who and what was said to her that made her who she was that moment.
It all began in grade school. Upon transferring from the rural area of her family's beloved province to the new and frightening world of the metro, not only did she not understand the abrupt and straightforward culture of her new home, but she had to struggle in her studies. Studying in an all-girls school made it doubly difficult as girls really held nothing back in their teasing, back-stabbing and harassing, especially eight and nine-year-old brats.
Once an honor student, she was suddenly someone who was struggling to keep her grades above or at the 75 grade line. She tried to get past the bullies – who were, funny enough, smaller than her – but failed to rise up. High school came soon after and she found herself in a barkada who didn't mind that she wasn't very vocal or confident. Rather, they helped her become comfortable, their presence alone seeming to protect or end the cycle of bullying she suffered for the last six years. Her grades, once ranging from 75 to 83, then ranged from 80 to 95, her efforts and intelligence recognized by both her teachers and peers.
But it wasn't enough.
She felt that something was missing, and with the promise her mind was showing, her family dove right in and told her that she should pick a great double-major course (Economics and Japanese Studies) in one of the top schools in the country and aim high. College entrance exams drew close; she and her friends attended extra classes to prepare for the tests, and when the day finally came, she opened the envelope in her hands and saw that she was accepted into the university and course of her choice.
With her family backing her up the entire way, she entered the academe and began to climb higher than anyone ever expected. She excelled in all her classes, garnered the respect of the teachers and staff, was admired by not only her classmates but majority of the student body, and was a consistent first honors dean's lister. By the time she finished her second thesis, her CGPA was an unbelievable 3.902, thus ensuring her the title of Summa Cum Laude and most outstanding student of the year. Not only was she asked to deliver the speech on behalf of the entire graduating class, but even before her graduation day, calls and offers from different companies, both in the Philippines and in Japan, came rushing in.
And as she stood before the entire congregation, delivering her speech, she felt her smile wilt around the edges as she gazed into the lenses of the video cameras. She had finally gotten everything that she wanted; everything that she had lost the moment she moved to the metro and everything that she lacked while she lived in the province. She was a formidable force and people knew it. She could weave her way through the world of business and economics as well as work professionally in Japan, one of the strongest countries in the world at that moment.
Yet she felt numb within; lost and tired, as if she had been running all her life and was suddenly still as a rock. She now had no idea why she did all those things, why she worked so hard and sacrificed so much. Was it for revenge? Justice? Self-satisfaction? Was it to make her family proud?
The moment she read the last line for her speech, she grasped the notes tightly in her hands, gave a small bow to everyone, and walked towards her seat in a daze, the sound of people clapping loudly cocooning her. She saw her mom and dad give her a strange look but she didn't bother meeting their gaze head-on. She settled herself down on her seat, heard her seatmates congratulate her, and heard an explosive silence in her head. She could only process one thought, a thought that kept flashing inside her head over and over again, and felt a sick feeling course through her.
As everyone stood up to sing the school anthem one last time, their jubilation and energy encasing the entire hall, she remained seated and stared down at the floor, watching the notes in her hands fall slowly to the ground, the papers face-down, leaving her to stare into rows and rows of empty lines.
Ginji Katou was once the ideal image of a young boy who lived carelessly and fully in the world despite the fact that every single breath he took brought him closer and closer to the arms of Death.
Born into a family that never seemed to fall below the line that divided the elite and the higher middle class, he lived recklessly and exuberantly; a free-spirited boy who would run across the gardens of his family's mansion, play tag with his three thorough-bred horses and went to the best and top private schools in the metro. He and his younger brother, Kenji, were even named the so-called 'Princes of Tokyo', their family constantly in the magazine covers that catered to businesses, families and Japan-pride as a whole.
Then, one day, when he was at the tender age of 10, his father died in a car accident, leaving the biggest and most influential corporation in the entire country with no heir, not one of the other officers wanting to take the place of Japan's top businessman. Not giving Ginji much time to grieve for the loss of his father, his family and the members of the board bombarded him with a lifestyle that he had never been forced into…until then.
Long gone were his days of freedom and childishness. Forced to grow up quickly in order for him to take his place as the legal heir to Katou Corporations, he attained the top scores in his schools, sacrificed socializing and prepared himself to enter the most prestigious university in the entire country.
At the age of 15, he began working within the secure arms of Katou Corporations, the officers showing him the ropes of how things were done, what made them the best in the entire country and the plans they had for the future. Whilst attending board meetings, interacting with the employees and officers, he began to understand the world his father lived in and was determined to make his family proud. Balancing both school and business studies, he never pondered over the fact that he had skipped a large part of his life that may have been filled with childhood and young adulthood experiences. He just jumped from being an immature and naïve child to being a mature adult.
The ideal child of a Katou.
Upon entering the university at the age of 17 and completing his double-major course in three years, he graduated top of his class and even garnered the title of the most accomplished student in the 130 years the school has existed. And despite the number of companies – most of them top firms and businesses not only in Japan but around the globe – he rejected all offers and took his seat as the owner and CEO of Katou Corporations, bringing the company into the present and future generation with an ease and fluidity that reminded everyone in the world of business and the family of the man they lost.
Now, at the age of 25, he had everything he had worked for; a company at the forefront of competition, a loyal and intelligent workforce, and an ideal image of the company in all countries. As he stared into his young brother's eyes, the both of them standing in the middle of the genkan area as other hosts and their patronesses laughed and drank with each other, he felt something in him unwind, something that had wanted out for a very long time but one he had never allowed to come out. Not from the moment he stood up from his classroom seat and moved towards his mother's open arms, her eyes red and tearing, outside the door with his little brother clutching her skirt.
Something that he knew had been festering from the moment her cold hand cupped his cheek and gave him a smile that was meant to comfort him but only made him more scared and wary of what she was about to say.
barkada - a clique; group of friends
Summa Cum Laude - "with highest honor"; one of the Latin honors
Camry: Yay! A little background information about our beloved main characters in this chapter. In the next chapter, expect the story to return to the 'present time', with Danica just having purchased Ginji, and Ginji giving in to becoming a fake-host for her. What else can you expect? Hmmm... The UNexpected. Hahaha! Oh! And I don't know if this'll make much of a difference for you, but I personally like to set my stories whenever I read them online using the DEFAULT FONT SIZE, FONT VERDANA and 3/4 WIDTH setting. It makes it looks nicer, I think. Anyway, see you all soon! And thanks so much for those who reviewed! Love you all!
PS. For those who don't know, I already uploaded the PROLOGUE of OBMG:NW. Check it out when you can. Bye-bye!