Notes 1: Alternative to simple people.

Notes 2: Read Thundercow's fanfic The Rain Is Trying To Tell Me Something first (or maybe read all of her fics because I love her writing), this is like a spin off with like snippets that wove around her story.

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over a hill of rice

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– inspired by Thundercow's fic The Rain Is Trying To Tell Me Something and a modified ending to Tamako Love Story

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Oreki doesn't know what he's doing at the Chitanda estate.

Chitanda had just called him earlier – not too long ago – asking him if he would like to come over. Only, this time, there is no umbrella to hold or mystery to solve or anything that is unavoidable. The invite is just a simple question for a simple request; an activity that is a time waster between friends, fresh watermelon to share and a Summer that feels always short and never endless.

He is eighteen, and his Kamiyama graduation scroll lies on the top of his bookcase along with many of his paperbacks. Regardless of all this, Oreki still finds himself here with the sunray beating against his back and his bicycle by his side as he slows his pace and looks at the green rice paddy fields.

.

.

.

"What are your two AM thoughts?" She asks, lying side by side with Oreki on the Chitanda living room floor. Though their shoulders are brushing and he's close enough for her to hear him breathing and she swears she can count his heartbeats, she can't read his mind and wants to know everything about him – how he thinks, why he speaks the way he does and why he does things a certain way.

"Hmm?" He hums back, heavy eyelids fluttering, he's struggling to stay awake. Today feels so right for a nap with the sudden shower of rain earlier, cooling him from the heat. He's falling asleep, going under and it's only three in the afternoon. But it's not the first time he's ever fallen asleep at her house so it's no big deal.

"What are your two AM thoughts?" She repeats herself, waiting, hoping. She may even hold her breath if she wants to be cliché.

His green eyes now snap open, wide awake. He realizes how sensitive such a question is. Thoughts at twilight are thoughts that either bloom evil strong enough to make the strong cry or make the content lonely.

"I'm asleep by then," He says. He wants to roll over and actually sleep now but it's too late. It's too late and she knows it.

"But what about when you can't sleep? When you let your head run wild and you suddenly think of the strangest things?" She jabbers on, curious as always. "And if so, what do you think about?"

This time, he does not throw a curve or try to find a way out.

'You', He thinks and he may have said it aloud because she's suddenly looking at him with those big eyes that he may as well sink into the floor and melt.

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There is no time to visit the pool or work or go to the beach. The same window they have now are spent studying for college entrance exams.

While Oreki had chosen the same college as Satoshi and Mayaka, not out of convenience (but it could also be seen that way), Chitanda is going to a different college to help the rice fields not fall in the red.

"I'll … miss this." He says, not looking at her but at the little world Chitanda had explained to him years ago. And he doesn't tell her what 'this' is but she's smart enough to know what he means. His words are out and open to the world before he can even take it back.

"Will you?" She asks with an overwhelming amount of curiosity.

"Yes," He says though there is a hint of uncertainty. He's never as sure as her.

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"Oreki-san." Came her voice.

It's gentle and calm and understanding but despite this, Oreki finds himself flinching, he's all tense and bundled nerves. He's suddenly reminded of Spring and cherry blossom petals falling on sidewalks and people and the last traces of Winter as they stand at the train station with his luggage by his side.

He's delayed this as much as possible, Mayaka had went first then Satoshi had followed after.

"Yes?" Oreki answers, swallowing his dry throat.

Chitanda didn't have to come. Really, she didn't. She could be spending her time doing other things, busying her life, tending her garden or helping her parents or speaking to the locals. She could be doing something that brings her joy. But instead, she chose this; bidding him good-bye as he leaves Kamiyama for Kyoto.

He looks at her and thinks, I thought we'd have more time.

"Oreki-san," Chitanda calls his name again, making it oh-so personal. "Why did you choose Business as your degree?" She asks, perhaps her final question. Perhaps the last mystery he can help her solve.

And because of this, Oreki doesn't hold back like all those other times. He does not dodge because the last time he held a similar answer, he was sixteen and comparing himself to Satoshi.

"Isn't it obvious?" He answers, playing with his words, it's a habit of his. He wants her to unpack it by herself. He wants her to understand the meaning behind his words.

(And thankfully, he doesn't have to spell it out to her, because that would kill him for sure, he'd die from embarrassment for sure)

Chitanda smiles, large eyes glistening and girlish hands gripping onto her skirt. He can tell she's overwhelmed with emotion, and maybe he is too because he can't meet her eye. This is so –

She takes quick steps towards him, relentless as she is when she's driven, and closes the space between them. He doesn't move away, used to her invading his personal space.

"Oreki-san," She says again but it sounds more breathless. She takes his face in her small hands, lifting his gaze from the floor to her eyes. Chitanda's expression tells Oreki that she's both glad and a little frustrated that she had to wait this long for an answer. "Do you mean what I think you mean?"

Oreki doesn't remember what he says but he remembers nodding his head like an idiot, sweaty palms and a luggage that feels far away, a rush of air from the train passing by and her purple eyes staring into his soul and –

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Chitanda arrives back to Kamiyama a little earlier than Oreki does when the next semester break comes, and she patiently waits for him at the same train station until she no longer has to be patient.

She crashes into him, vibrating with eagerness.

His grip loosens around his luggage, willingly abandoning it. He would have spun her in the air, it was the perfect setting, so cliché and rose-coloured. But being the person that he is, he doesn't. But he does hold her tightly and that does not make it any less romantic.

Even now, she is still invading his space. But, like he said, he does not mind it, not at all.

"You're back!" She exclaims, practically tackling him in a tight embrace and wanting to kiss him but refrains herself from public display of affection.

He almost laughs in amusement but settles with a smile, holding her close to him, "You didn't think I'd ever leave you, did you?"

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end

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Notes 3: "I should really be working on I now know why caged birds sing," I say as I continue to not touch the document and write nonsense, clean the house, play sims and sleep like a deadman.

7 August 2018