Author's Note:

Oookay, I know. This fic's been sitting for more than three years now that I'm not sure if I'm even doing it any justice by updating. Oh well. *dodges tomatoes from readers* I read it again and was inspired. All my files are gone now (blame computer virus and countless reformatting) so I'm hoping to continue this without the outline that I used to count on. Argh, kill me for being a very lazy author.

Answers to chapter 3's reviewers will not be posted anymore. Doing so would be a little weird because a lot of time has passed. Kill me again for being lazy.

Anyway, enjoy! :D

Disclaimer:I do not own Flame of Recca. Standard disclaimers apply.

CRUEL FATE

By: yuki kawaii

I was filled with confusion all throughout my walk home. Every step that I took, it was only one certain lad that I thought about. His image, his attitude, his actions, his letter…

I stopped, and suddenly, the image of him smiling as he handed me my wallet flashed across my mind.

It made my heart melt.

I shook my head, and I ran. Faster and faster, like something was following me. I was scared, very scared. I knew what was happening to me, and I wished that this feeling would just go away. Gosh, I was probably falling in love, and I hated it!

CHAPTER 4: MORE THAN A FRIEND…

As much as it felt a little weird being with him after the cafeteria incident, I tried to act as if nothing major happened. Yet, deep inside, I was hoping that I wasn't the only one who felt that something special had evolved between us.

We never talked much about Yanagi but I still got to know what was happening between them. He never asked for my help, but I was always there to aid him, just like at that moment when we bought scented candles for Yanagi's birthday. I didn't bother asking him what he felt about her because that just wouldn't be me. And I was scared that if I did so, Mi-chan would become uncomfortable and the only secret that was binding the two of us would be gone. Heck, sometimes I felt like I was in a best-friend-is-in-love-with-her-guy-friend tragedy. But that's just way too dramatic for me.

As for Mi-chan, he was his usual irritating self. He treated me like I wasn't female for most of the time, and called me monkey like I was named so since birth. Well, it's not as if I wanted him to treat me like a girl. In fact, I appreciated his playing forgetful about the letter that he snuck into my wallet. I didn't bother asking him about what he meant with it; things were awkward enough for me as they were, thank you.

As if to emphasize that the letter was nothing really significant, he started bombarding me with trivial notes, from sticky notes on my locker telling me to "throw my trash" on days when it was overflowing with bubblegum wrappers, to strips of paper in my pencil case scribbled with "you've slept lots last night so don't doze off now" before my major exams. I felt uncomfortable with the thought of writing him back since we never really talked about his notes by the end of the day, so I did so only once when he ran for student council president. I put a box in his locker and inside it was a folded piece of paper that looked like a ballot. Beside the word president, I wrote his name. Talk about exerting too much effort. Predictably, he won.

It would have been easier to believe that somebody else was writing the notes and pretending they were from Mi-chan. In fact, he was cold and simply himself whenever we were together. And with together, I meant every afternoon. Before I realized it, we already had this routine of waiting up for each other at the end of every school day. We usually walked home together. Wait, replace usually with always. Our routine never failed, even for a day. It started that day of the cafeteria incident, and there wasn't a skip even once, despite my numerous trips to the guidance office and his hectic schedule, especially during the campaign period.

The rest of the gang didn't seem to notice. Most of the time, we never really did walk home together anyway because our houses were not within the same area; only mine and Mi-chan's were near each other and the rest of the gang's houses were on the other side of the school. Basically, the school was our houses' midpoint.

As always, Recca would drag me after class and just keep poking me on the head for personal pleasure, especially on those days when he and Yanagi didn't have any plans for a date. I was always the girl friend to turn to whenever girlfriend was not around to fill-up his afternoons. On this particular day, he said that Yanagi had excused herself because there was a family errand that Recca didn't need to worry about. He looked like he was lying, but I really didn't care. If there were a problem between them two, they ought to fix it like a real couple.

"Come on Fuuko, this time I'll win ten points ahead of you!" as if emphasizing his point, Recca pulled up his uniform's right sleeve to flex his muscle. I laughed as if he was telling the funniest joke.

"Why not give basketball up, Recca? I'm already crowned queen!" He swung his bag towards me in an attempt to hit me, but I dodged it all too easily.

Domon's whining was next in line yet again. "Fuuko, why not try something more feminine?"

I raised my eyebrows in a "like what?" fashion. Domon grinned, "Like fixing flowers?"

I sighed. "Heck Domon, I don't even have an idea how they should be arranged! We'll leave those kinds of things to you." I pat him on the back in a mocking-comforting way, and again, Domon sniffed and well-submitted. He never had a word against me.

Despite the arguments and teasing that we always had, we would still head to the arcade and play until all our coins were gone – and only our coins and not all our money if we were responsible enough. If we finished early, I would bid them farewell and simply take the route back to our school before I head on home. I would wait by the big tree near the back gate, the one where I've spotted "miserable Mi-chan" months before. Usually, he would be there already by the time I got there, looking impatient but nonetheless making only few negative remarks. It was quality time with Recca and Domon that I've been indulging into, after all.

On this particular day though, Domon excused himself early and said that he did have to attend to their flower shop and fix flowers because there were a lot of orders placed for the day. I was guilty about the joke I cracked earlier and told him sorry that I sort of made fun about flower arrangement a while back.

"Oh, Fuuko-chan! My looove! It's okay, it's okay." He started wailing loudly like a child and attempted to hug and smooch me, and I regretted ever feeling at fault. I punched him in the nose and sent him flying home once and for all.

So, it was me and Recca alone at the arcade. I have to admit, I was fidgeting for a while; I haven't really gotten over my feelings for him completely, yet I had to let go because it just wasn't meant to be. He and Yanagi were getting closer and closer each day, and I wasn't the kind of person to play blind at something as obvious as that… though it hurt like hell for sometime.

Okay, that wasn't Fuuko speaking there.

And besides, my mind had become preoccupied with thoughts of something else that I completely forgot about Recca. No, I wasn't pertaining to someone in particular, especially not to Mi-chan. I didn't like Mi-chan; I liked Recca. I didn't like Mi-chan; I liked Recca. I didn't lke Mi-chan; I liked Recca. Did I really have to repeat that thrice just to convince myself that that was what I really felt?

"Earth to Fuuko!" I woke up just in time to dodge a basketball that Recca threw casually at me like it was as soft as a pillow. "Hey dude, you okay?"

"Ha! Of course!" I replied like it was the most obvious thing in the world. Forget about inner female dilemmas and ranting. I've lived as a guy since I was young. There's no room right now for messing around and trying to pretend that I was becoming a girl. No room right now and would be no room in the future.

"Game's on!" We chanted out of habit before pushing the Start button, and for the next half hour we were shooting endlessly without even opting for water breaks. As if it weren't enough, we played gun games and car racing and even did two rounds each of dancing and karaoke though we both sucked big time. We had tons of hearty good laughs anyway. By the time the sun was setting, we were slumped on one of the benches in the nearby parked, downing our nth bottle of water and soaked in sweat.

Eventually, the people in the park started on their way home one by one. For some time, I and Recca sat still, waiting for our drenched tresses to dry and catching our breaths.

"That was one hell of an arcade getaway, huh?" I commented without even really thinking deep about it. I dunked my empty water bottle to the trashcan at my right.

"Yeah. It was like you were releasing some piling up stress within you."

I was expecting Recca to chuckle after his statement, but he didn't. I glanced to my side to look at him. His head was bent back with eyes closed, his bangs catching the passing breeze. After a while his eyes half-opened and he was staring blankly at the orange sky.

I opted to nudge him playfully just to swerve things back to how they were supposed to be, or at least how I always viewed them to be: all fun. This boy beside me looked too serious to be Recca. What stress was he talking about? Wait, could he be reading what I was thinking before we started playing? If not, then what the hell was referring to?

"Recca?"

"Fuuko."

The next thing I knew, I was in his arms – his arms circled around me tight, one of his hands pushing my face down on his shoulder. My left cheek was wet with the sweat on his neck and my heart was thumping fast. He was squeezing me tighter and tighter like he never wanted to let go, and for some moment he was clutching on to my short hair rather painfully and it seemed like he was crying.

"Recca?"

"Fuuko," he inhaled deeply. "I'm sorry."

Sorry for what?Nonetheless, I shook my head.

He released his hold of me and I leaned back and watched him. Sweat continued to trickle down form his forehead, and he rubbed his face with his palms. I wasn't able to tell anymore if the droplets of water below his eyes were tears or sweat. After a while, his hands landed on my shoulders but he kept his eyes on the ground. I let him breathe for a while. What was I to say?

"Thank you." He spoke first. Finally, he looked up. "Thanks for always being there for me."

I wasn't sure if it would be inappropriate to do so, but I smiled. I hit him playfully on the head. "What in the world are you talking about?" He looked a little startled at how I reacted, but I teased him more as I laughed heartily. "Whatever you do, you will never be able to remove me from your life."

Recca's face broke into the most grateful smile, and my first urge was to hug him. And I did. Soon enough we were tackling each other and playing like how we used to do when we were young. It got dark and we decided to go on home after a couple more teasing and physical fight.

My mind wandered off as I let my feet drag me. It was only then that I realized that I never asked Recca about his problem, or if he had one, that is. Whatever it was, he should know better than to doubt our friendship. I would always be there for him, not just because I liked him, but because that was how it had always been ever since our childhood. Our relationship had become a big part of my life.

My thoughts on Recca were disrupted when I realized where my feet took me: a few steps from the back gate of our school. It became harder to gulp when guilt suddenly struck me; it took time to sink in that after all the afternoons that we spent going home together, on this particular day I completely forgot about Mi-chan.

What was the big deal anyway? I didn't like Mi-chan; I liked Recca.

But unconsciously I started pacing back and forth, trying to ease my mind and think straight on what to do. Should I act like nothing happened and simply acknowledge him with a little "thank you" for waiting up? Or would jumping bubbly with a sheepish grin and a big "sorry" work better?

Okay Fuuko, whatever. It's getting dark and we should just get it over with.

I walked on straight to the gate and almost bumped my nose onto the metal because it didn't open.

"What the-" I was startled, but then a quick look at the clock post near the gate told me that it was already seven in the evening. Stupid Fuuko! Of course the gate would be locked already.

Still I peered in with hopes of finding someone under the big tree. It would be stupid to do so, but he waited for me, right? I felt my heart thudding in my chest. What was I nervous about? He would be there. It was an unspoken promise between us. That was why my feet themselves carried me there even after a night of fun with Recca.

I squinted my eyes to see in the dark. And then I saw it – the fact that there was no one.

My grip on the metal of the gate tightened as I felt something ache within me. Was that my heart? I turned around in dismay and leaned my back on the metal gate. As if sharing my mood, the dark clouds started pouring rain, subtly at first, until more and more droplets fell and drenched me.

My body slid down until my butt hit the pavement. I hugged my knees close to me and was biting idly on my right thumb.

He didn't wait for me. There was no promise between us after all.

I hit myself hard on the head for a couple of times, hating myself for getting too emotional about something as trivial as that. He didn't wait for me, so what? Why was I making a fuss about it? It wasn't like he really did promise to wait. But I was hoping. And personally, I made a promise to myself to be there everyday. But I forgot. Still, I promised. And I was assuming he promised too.

Argh, I felt like the most despicable person. Fuuko didn't like girly-girls; I was turning into one, and I hated it. I hated myself for thinking that I could ever predict what Mi-chan would do. I hated myself for hoping that he thought there was something special between us. I hated myself for assuming that I was more than just a friend to him. I hated myself for ever considering liking him.

"I see monkeys take baths only when it rains."

Yes, that was probably what he would be thinking if he saw me all drenched. I was a mere monkey to him. Heck, I wasn't even a friend!

"And they turn deaf when they take a bath."

Huh? What the- ?

I looked around and realized that the rain had stopped… but only around me. I looked up to find a big brown umbrella over my head. And holding it was Mi-chan.

He frowned. "Stand up. The whole world can see your underwear."

Blood rushed up to my face, both because of anger and embarrassment, and I quickly stood up. I glared at him, but before I could think of a good way to defend myself, I was stunned when he threw a scarf over my shoulders. He stepped near me and wrapped it around my neck. I immediately felt warm. Without a word he started to walk, and I leaped to catch up with him.

"Uhm, thank you," was all I could manage. He got my bag from my dripping hand and we continued walking.

Good heavens, I was elated! He didn't forget about me after all. He probably just went home to change when the guard was about to close the gate. And then he came back for me. I was totally happy. I grinned from ear to ear.

I was actually skipping like a child that after a while Mi-chan looked at me questioningly, but I just smiled genuinely at him. He looked confused, but he nodded anyway.

The rain was almost gone when we reached the intersection.

"I can manage from here." I told him with a wink. He simply nodded and handed me my bag.

With a final wave, I held my bag over my head and exited the umbrella. He started on his way as I ran right towards home.

I was happy, totally happy with how things turned out.

The moment when he wrapped his scarf around me played inside my mind over and over and made me grin more like an idiot. My free hand went up to touch it. It was soft and silky and… wait, I forgot to return it!

I halted my steps and quickly ran back. I reached the intersection in a few minutes and was surprised to see that Mi-chan wasn't too far off. Except that he wasn't going straight towards his house, but back to the school's direction, carrying a stack of books.

I opened my mouth to call him but something I saw stopped me. It was his umbrella. Or rather, the umbrella he was holding. It was brown with flowers embroidered in white and flesh on its surface. It was one umbrella that I myself have used a dozen of times that it was so familiar; I could readily tell whose household's it was –

Yanagi's.

Why didn't I notice it earlier?

It took me a while before I was able to make a concrete story out of everything that transpired. I felt so stupid. I was completely fooling myself, thinking that he treated me as someone more than a friend when from the start it was Yanagi who was special to him.

He was with Yanagi all along, and he just happened to pass by me – drenched and looking super stupid –on his way to pick something up from his house.

Stupid Fuuko. He didn't wait for you after all.

TSUZUKU

A/N: Okay, that was sketchy and long, but I hope you liked it! Please be kind and leave a review. I'm still terribly sorry for putting it on hiatus. And I know there weren't much ToFuu moments, but please bear with me. I needed to write this.

Reviews will make a certain girl happy. Guess who? Haha. Thank you! :D

Just a tidbit from the next chapter:

"His voice was surprisingly shaky as he repeated, 'We're a couple now.'

I wanted to shout with joy."

Chapter 5: Boys Define Relationships