STEAK, CAKE OR ICE CREAM?

Part 4: Together Forever………………??

Rukawa didn't know why he ran but he did. He felt the ache in his heart when he saw Nayami and Mitsui kissing. But why was he running? Where could he go? He looked around to find himself at the park behind his house. 'What am I doing here?' He remembered this was where he told Nayami that he liked her. He had feelings for her and she told him that… she didn't understand hers. 'So wait… she said…it's obvious now that she has feelings for somebody else,' he thought bitterly, fighting back the tears he had longed to but never wanted to shed. He felt the pain in his heart again and how used to it he was.

"Kaede-kun!" Nayami shouted, looking for the boy high and low. She found herself at the entrance of another park altogether. She remembered that this was where… fate had led Rukawa have feelings in his life for once. 'Kaede-kun…' She ran into the park, hoping that he was there.

He sat and watched the couples walk pass him. 'Happy looks on their faces… I've always wondered why they would be…' Rukawa thought, feeling low. He struggled to swallow down the ache in his throat for a while now. He never felt this bad, even when his mom died. Not wanting to understand why, he shook his head. 'What am I waiting for? Why am I still here?' As if to answer his questions, two hands rested on his shoulders. He turned to see Nayami's face and glowered.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, frigidly.

"I-I…" Nayami stuttered, feeling slightly hurt by his sudden coldness.

"Why aren't you with Mitsui?"

"Because… I…"

"You picked him, right?"

"No! I didn't pick anyone! And if you're going to keep on pressing me with your selfish words I won't! I'll keep this limbo until all of you tire out!" She shouted at him, feeling the frustration of her problem finally rising. Rukawa stood up, facing her.

"You don't care about any of us. You're just happy that you got the three of us at your beck and call…"

"You think I asked for this?! I never thought I'd hear that from you! I thought you'd understand!"

"I don't," Rukawa retorted, " and I thought maybe you did."

"About what?! I understood what you were going through. Everything you told me about yourself, your life… you… And I wanted you to understand me for a change!"

"Why do I have to?" Rukawa glared at her, angry at her selfishness.

"Because I love you!!" Nayami blushed at hearing her own words that instant.

"You what?" Rukawa asked, his anger fading off, only to be replaced by the curiosity and hope.

"I-I… love you…" she said the last two words with understanding and shyly looked up into Rukawa's blue eyes.

"Nayami-san…" He hugged her with his good arm. Nayami understood everything. Despite her words, she cared for Rukawa the most. The reason she backed off from Sendoh, rushed to the hospital, her jealousy towards all those fan girls, slapped Mitsui…

"Kaede-kun… I… I'm sorry," she said, burying her face in his chest as she felt the tears falling to her cheeks," I didn't want to hurt you or Sendoh or Mitsui but I ended up hurting the three of you. I'm sorry…" He gently pushed her chin with his finger, making her ocher eyes meet his sapphire orbs. His lips pressed against her in a soft kiss. She closed her eyes and felt warmth surrounding her. 'Kaede-kun…' Finally, she was in bliss and so was Rukawa. 

"Inter High will be in a three days so we need all the energy we have," Nayami went, looking at her girls, tired from their practice," there's morning practice tomorrow and light training the day after that. Make sure you girls drink plenty of water and get rest, okay?"

"Hai!" The girls agreed, as they dismissed themselves. Nayami turned to grab her bag when she spotted it in the hands of Sendoh.

"Sendoh-san… What are you doing here?"

"Sending you home… It's kinda late for girls to be out alone," he stated.

"And you think I can't take care of myself?" Nayami crossed her arms.

"No… but I wanted to talk to you about something," he went.

The night breeze was refreshing as it touched her screen. Nayami closed her eyes, letting the cool wind stroke her body. She took in a deep breath before turning to her companion.

"So what's up? And please don't tell me it's about you." Sendoh shook his head.

"I just wanted you to know about Mitsui," he went. Nayami's face flickered a sudden detestation.

"What about him?" she muttered, not able to hide her anger. Sendoh knew that she couldn't really forgive him for his rash actions.

"I guess I don't need to remind you about recent events but there's a reason for it all," Sendoh said calmly, watching Nayami's sudden change from angry to curiosity. 'I can watch this girl forever and still be fascinated by the way her face shows her emotions.' Sendoh sighed inwardly, knowing that it was Nayami's specialty. 'She doesn't even know her own feelings and everybody knows it already.' Sendoh smiled before continuing, "Mitsui and I knew that we had no chance between you and Rukawa so we just fuelled it up till you realized on your own. He had a feeling that you won't forgive him for acting that way but you needed to know…"

"So you guys threw me off track on purpose?"

"Kinda… but the thing is Mitsui still wants to be your friend. He promised you, remember?" It was the last line that made Nayami recall Mitsui's promise.

"Sendoh-san, I have to…" At that, Sendoh pulled out his cell phone and waved it just above her reach.

"Sendoh-san, give it to me!"

"Say you love me!"

"Nanda to?! I love Kaede-kun, not you! Now, give it!" At that, she jumped and grabbed it from his hand. She quickly dialed Mitsui's number as she stuck her tongue out at Sendoh who grinned. 

Mitsui stepped into the school with a smile the next day. Who wouldn't when a storm had passed? 'Okay, half a storm but it will pass soon…' he thought as he spotted a crop of raven hair in the midst of the students. Nayami told him that the best way to straighten things out with Rukawa was to confront him. So he raced to the boy, knocking down some people in the process, and tapped Rukawa's shoulder.

"Nani?" Rukawa asked, whispering, without turning.

"I'm sorry that I kissed your girl but I had to wake her up so that she sees whom she really loves," Mitsui explained before running off. Rukawa turned and saw Mitsui's fleeting back.

"Thank you," he muttered, smiling inwardly.

"We've got great seats," Sendoh commented as he and Mitsui watched the Ryonan girls have their fifteen-minute warm-up practice. The girls Inter High had arrived and Ryonan was having their first match with Tsukubu High.

"You'd think he'd at least come early?" Mitsui huffed.

"He did… he was here with me but then… he left for a while…" Sendoh explained, looking around.

"That's weird…" Mitsui muttered.

"Yeah… Rukawa wouldn't just run off…"

"No, no… Nayami-san's not there," Mitsui pointed out. It was true. The captain for Ryonan basketball team was not there at all.

"Kaede-kun…" Nayami whispered as she tried to wiggle out of his grasp. But Rukawa was a bit too fast for her and he kissed her again. This time she pushed him off and shook her head. "Now's not the time…" She was cut off with another planted kiss on her lips. It was a good thing that the locker room was supposed to be locked up by her. Rukawa hugged her from the back and started nibbling at her ear.

"Can't I give a good luck kiss before the match started?" he teased, making her blush.

"Yes… but that wasn't only a kiss… You're squeezing groping time altogether…" she smirked, gently putting away his arms from her. "I've got a match to win…"

"They say endorphins are good for your everyday workout…" Rukawa muttered.

"Its endorphins are good FROM your everyday workout. I can get endorphins from the match… let me warm up at least…" not giving her another minute, Rukawa kissed her again. This time, it was a definite last as he made it quick and brought her out to the court.

It was without a few minutes to spare. Ryonan High had the lead up by fifty points, by no doubt.

"Mitsuki!" Nayami shouted passing to her. Mitsuki caught it before passing to Chiharu, who executed a three pointer with ease. The Tsukubu girls had already given up. It was obvious that their spirits were gone. The buzzer sounded and the Ryonan High girls cheered. They had bagged their first game. Nayami smiled, looking up. Mitsui and Sendoh were waving at her. She waved back and spotted her raven haired, one-armed boyfriend. She smiled and punched the air, her salute to victory.