Title: A Seashell [1/1]
Author: Kikiam
Rating: G
Description: She may only be a small sea shell to be hidden by the sand, with many unable to see her small glow hidden within the fine grains. But then, it wouldn't stay that way forever. No matter how common or typical she may be, someone would see her, recognize her and consider her special from all the other shells lost in the beach during that beautiful night to be remembered for all time. [RuHaru]


A/N: Just a short fic before I start with 'In the Snow'. Inspired by 'Things I'll Never Say' by Avril Lavigne.
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// When will she come out? //

The soft sea breeze flew against his face as he sat on the cool white sand. He watched the dark waters of the sea fly around and form a nice blue and yellow palette with the velvet night sky and its stars, with an occasional cloud giving the view some gray. Kaede Rukawa clenched his fists getting sand in his hands then relaxed once more and sighed. He then shifted his position, laying his legs out, letting the sand touch his pale skin. A few grains entered the bottom of his khaki shorts and his rubber sandals.

It was rare that he couldn't sleep, for he was one who loved it. But then, his restlessness for tomorrow's opening game kept his eyes wide open and his senses keen. He kept envisioning it in his mind and felt that he was in it at that moment. The excitement swam through his nerves, feeling adrenaline rush over him. And thus, he couldn't sleep.

The smell of salt wafted across his nose with each breeze that passed him by. It was a beautiful smell. There were many beaches in Kanagawa and the smell of salty water in Hiroshima reminded him much of home.

// But I can't go home yet, // he thought to himself. He had to win as many games as possible. This was the Inter-High School competitions. He couldn't lose just because he was feeling homesick. After all, he'd only been in Hiroshima yesterday morning.

He looked at his watch. It was already 2:00 am, and he hadn't slept a wink since he went to bed at 10 pm the previous night. He decided to sneak out of the youth hostel, creeping over two sleeping teammates who didn't even stir upon his exit from the room. As he went out, he was able to snatch a flashlight and made his way through the dark corridors.

He looked for a place where he could be alone and comfortable: where he could relax and try to get some sleep. After walking a few more yards from the hostel's main entrance, he found the relatively desolate beach and the breath-taking view it possessed. Here he sat and tried to clear his mind. It had been four hours since then, and still, he hadn't fallen asleep, and nor has the tense feeling in him disappeared.

It was starting to bore him. To pass the time, he moved his hand around the sand and felt a small, sharp object. He dug his fingers in and picked it up. He stared at it for a while, then placed it in his pocket. Again, he stared into the sea, feeling the sight and the sound of the water whistling with the wind.

// This is a nice remembrance, // he thought as he felt for the small object in his pocket. A few more minutes passed. As the sounds grew louder, he felt his eyelids become heavier, his body feeling lighter by each note. He opened his mouth and yawned, though not very loud. He then gazed at it. He noticed that his breathing was slower now, and his eyebrows had eased themselves. He let the feeling take over, and before long, his body was sprawled on the beach. His eyes closed and the world around him formed into a mere swirl of sights and sounds. He was finally falling asleep.

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Haruko had been watching him from behind a tree for a few minutes already. She wondered why Rukawa was there and why he wasn't sleeping. Well, she knew that she should be asking the same question herself. She couldn't sleep for she was nervous about tomorrow's game.

She figured out that Rukawa must be there for the same reason, too, though quite unlike him. Now, she couldn't take a place the sit on at the beach and relax, for she would be too near Rukawa. Although she knew that he would just ignore her completely and nothing would happen, she still felt nervous with him. She was afraid to do something embarrassing that would give her name a shameful mark in his mind that he might not forget for some time or make him ignore her even more.

And at the same time, she couldn't sleep because she had been thinking of him, too.

She watched him shift positions and play with the sand in his hands. She also saw him sigh many times and feel the soft sea breeze on his face.

// So this is Kaede Rukawa, // she thought. She had never seen him so relaxed when awake, for he was always either playing basketball or sleeping.

Before she knew it, though, she saw him lie on the sand and his eyes slowly closing. He was going to sleep there! Although he was known to be able to sleep anywhere, she still felt that it was improper to slumber on an empty beach, no matter how absurd her reasons may be. Only Kami knows what might happen. She knew she had to wake him up, but then, she felt her uneasiness take over. She continued to watch him for a few more seconds.

// I have to wake him up. But how? Maybe I can throw a stone at him. No, that'd be painful. //

She desperately raced through her mind for ideas, but found none except to go to him and wake him up. However, if he found out that she was there, he might think that she had been spying on him (which was partly true), and that would be very embarrassing.


// What now? // A few more minutes passed. The sound of the waves rang in her ears, telling her to do something. She decided that nothing would happen this way. Thus, she mustered up all her courage (though quite hesitant to do so) and slowly and carefully walked towards him. Each step raised the tension in her and her wanting to go back became more intense with every inch that shortened the distance between them. Still, she went on, and before long, she was already standing at his side. She knelt, leaned over and took a closer look at his face.

His eyes were closed, and his eyebrows, for once, were quite distant from his eyelids, giving no sign of the agitated look he always had. He was breathing very softly, his mouth was slightly open to let a few drops of drool out. At that moment, he actually looked cute and angelic, like a baby who fell asleep inside his crib.

// When he's actually so cold and mean. //

She recalled the times when Rukawa ignored her. All the moments when she could just look at him and sigh. When she did her best to cheer for him in all his games when she could, even if she knew she'd get nothing in return except for the satisfaction that she did something for him. She gave him praise when she could, but the response was only a cold stare that said practically nothing. It felt stupid, to like him as this, but she couldn't help it. It was like being trapped in a feeling she could never escape from, but it felt good: a nightmare disguised as a dream.

But then, here was a chance, to get to talk to him, and at least, get more than a blank look from his finely chiseled face. He was all alone, and so was she. She felt her heart beat faster at how her chance was coming closer and closer to reality.

// But he'd just ignore me. Like some seashell in this beach... A small, small, seashell. //

She stared at his face, lost in her thoughts.

// I'm no different from all those other girls who like him. I guess I'll just have to leave. //

She stood giving up. A small voice told her that there was still a chance. But it was only a small voice, anyway. How can something so small be significant?

She was about to turn away when she heard a cool, familiar voice call after her. It took her by surprise. It seemed that her heart skipped a beat, no, two beats perhaps, as the sound swiftly reached her ears.

"You woke me up."

Haruko looked at him, and saw that he had already sat up, ruffling his hair with his left hand, looking pointlessly at the sand. She didn't know what to say, whether to apologize or to think of something else. And to think that he was the one who spoke first was quite hard. She expected that he'd give his famous 'ch...' remark and leave her there with his usual agitated look. Or maybe he'd go back to sleep and wake up in the morning. But no, he talked and said something to her.

She finally managed to stutter, "S-s-s-orry... I didn't mean to----"

Her words were cut short when he stood up then tossed her a small object from his pocket. Haruko caught it and cupped it with both hands, holding it near her to keep it from falling into the sand. She wanted to see what it was, but before she could look at it, he spoke again.

"Thanks for waking me up." And with that, he turned away.

He said the words in an apparently flat tone, with his usual blank look. But somehow, it was different. She couldn't tell what was that different thing in his voice, and she didn't even have any evidence to prove it to herself. Maybe it was just her, but still...

She watched in awe as she watched him slowly walk away from the beach and disappear into the darkness. She couldn't believe what just happened that morning. Just a minute ago, she was asking for his acknowledgment, and now she got more than she could ever expect from him. The excitement and happiness in her was hard to contain. If only the circumstances permitted it, she would run around the beach and scream like she had gone mad. It was the usual girly feeling, but she was a teenager after all.

The wind blew her hair across her face. She pulled the strands with her left hand, then felt something sharp come in contact with her cheek.

// Oh... // she remembered the small object he tossed her before he left. She looked down her palm.

It was a small shell, with the color almost the same as that of the sand. Under the moonlight, it gave a small glow. In the sand, it couldn't have been visible, though. It was only the size of her fingernail, and maybe even smaller.

// But he still found it. //

// A small, small seashell, huh? //

She smiled to herself and placed the small shell beside her ear. It then softly played the sounds of the wind and the waves, gently flashing into her mind the events that just took place.

It was a good remembrance.

Slowly, she made her way back to the youth hostel with a small smile on her face. She held the shell tightly in her hand, as if containing all the explosive feelings she was having right then and there.

She may only be a small seashell to be hidden by the sand, with many unable to see her small glow hidden within the fine grains, but then, it wouldn't stay that way forever. No matter how common or typical she may be, someone would see her, recognize her and consider her special from all the other shells lost in the beach during that beautiful night to be remembered for all time.

"You're welcome, Rukawa-kun."

~Owari de gozaru yo~
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