Chapter three

Tachibana's POV

Photos are spread around on my bed. I can't seem to get myself to forget all of it just yet. Fact is, I don't want to forget…

I miss him. He's only gone for two hours and I already feel a part of me is missing. It's not because he's not here. We've been separate before. But never like this. The only time I'll probably see him back is when, if, we, Kouzu, have to play against Hayamazaki. And the chance to that, without him at our side, is nearly zero…

I bite back tears. Last night was wonderful. It was perfect. Just lying in each other's arms. Cuddling.

I grin stupidly while a couple of tears escape my eyes. Never thought Hitonari to be one to cuddle… But then again, neither did I think I was. Yet last night… It felt good. Those soft kisses are imprinted in my memory. As well as the ones filled with passion and need… However, except for kissing, nothing happened.

A knock on the door makes me look up. Mother…

"Time to go to traini-…"

She falters when she sees my face. In two steps she's standing next to the bed I'm sitting on. Setting herself on the soft mattress, she wraps both her arms around me. Gently stroking my hair.

"Ssh… It's okay…"

I sob softly against her shoulder. Clinging to her as if she was my only chance not to drawn… I didn't know what else to do.

Five minutes later I stand up.

"Thanks mom…"

Quickly taking my sporting bag, I'm probably going to arrive too late at training. But I don't care. Even if they kick me out of the team. Without him, playing will be worthless anyway.

- - - - - -

"… not coming back."

I swallow hard. Minefuji just explained everything to the guys. What will their reaction be? Surprise? No doubt about that. But what else? Anger? Disappointment? Will they understand?

I walk into the gym. My eyes cast downwards.

"So, you finally made it."

Her tone is harsh but when I look up I see sympathy written in her eyes. Would she know? Does she understand?

Looking around me I can see sadness on all the faces of the team. Pure sadness. Nothing else. No anger, no disappointment, nothing. They understand…

"I know none of you feel like training after this shocking news, but…"

I cut in.

"He wouldn't have wanted for us to let our heads hang. He would have wanted us to train and become even better than we already are…"

Minefuji nods. If she would have said it, they wouldn't have understood it. They wouldn't have done it. But to hear it coming from me, the one Hitonari was the closest to, they can, and they will. In fact it isn't a lie. He really would have wanted us to… But that doesn't mean I'm ready for it. That doesn't mean I can…

- - - - - -

At last the training is over. Nothing worked. With no one. Something was just missing. He was. He's silent, never says a lot, yet his presence seems to have been enough…

It's already dark when I walk back home. My bag slung casually over my shoulder. No one to walk with me. Alone… I hate the feeling. I always have…

Once I'm inside, I greet my mom, and immediately hide myself in my hidden room. I don't want to be alone, but neither do I want to be around someone. Taking the photos out of the closed. This is going to kill me… All these memories. They hurt… Hurt so much.

Far in the distance I hear the doorbell ring and my mother who walks out of the living room to open the door. But I don't care. There is only one person I'd like to stand there. However I know that that is impossible. His father would never allow it. Beside, he chose to go back…

What is this? Am I angry? At him? For not abandoning his family in favor of us? How can I be angry with that?

Tears escape my eyes. I'm going crazy. If I even start to blame him… Blame him for doing something I would also have done should it be me who was presented to choose like him…

A knock on my door. Forget it! I'm not going to open. I'm not getting out…

"Akane… Please, can you come out, just for a second, to greet our guest…"

I shake my head. Knowing that she can't see it, yet doing it any way. If only to convince myself…

I can hear her sigh and leave my room again. So, she has understood… I smile sadly. That's what I like about my mother. No matter what, she respects my wishes… She respects the sign on the door.

Yet someone else doesn't. I turn around angry when I hear the door to my photo-room open. My eyes widen as they take in a familiar form.

"Is that a way to greet me back home…?"

I shake my head, trying to clear away the dream that is standing before my face. It can't be. He left. They wouldn't allow him to come back…

Tears are rolling down my cheeks and his gaze softens. Taking one step he's standing before me, against me, with his arms tightly around me.

"I'm sorry. I won't leave you again… I'm here now. I've arrived back home…"

Sobbing softly I clutch my hands at the front of his T-shirt. Holding him as close to me as possible. Never wanting to let him go.

But how… He is here. I'm not dreaming this… How is this possible?

I loosen my hold a bit, so I'm able to look in his blue-gray eyes. Our bodies still pressed together.

"You're really here… How come…? Your father…"

His smile falters a bit for just a second.

"I don't care about my father. If he can't understand this… Beside, my brother did…"

My eyes widen. His brother? He sees my surprised face and chuckles softly.

"Yes Akane. Takuya came to pick me up. I told him I was going back and he let me go. He figured everything out…"

One of his arms leaves my body and I grunt softly feeling the loss of warmth… His hand takes something out of his pocket. The picture of me. I smile when I recognize it. His orbs question me.

"Mother has taken it this morning. After breakfast, when you were taking a shower. I've quickly developed it so you could take it with you. And then I felt the need to write something on it. So you wouldn't forget what it exactly is I feel for you, because I don't think I've actually told you, have I?"

He shakes his head and the little twinkling has returned in his eyes. We both smile.

I bent my head forwards so my lips are gracing his ear.

"I love you…"

I can feel his cool breathing in my neck and shiver slightly. He doesn't know the effect he has on me. Or perhaps he does…

My arms hold him close and my head rests on his shoulder. I breathe in the scent that is uniquely him… And I feel complete again…

- - - - -

"Come on, hurry up Hitonari. Training is about to begin…"

I smile when I hear him grunt softly. He's living with me now. Well, with us. I can't exclude my mother now, can I? In fact it has been her idea.

Finally he's ready and we run to training.

I am the first one to enter the court.

"Tachibana! I know you are sad but that doesn't mean you have to make it your habit of arriving to late at practice…!"

Oops, Minefuji sounds a bit angry. I hold up my hands defensively.

"It's not my fault this time coach… I swear! I told him to hurry up."

The others all look at me in non-understanding. Well, I can't blame them. A stupid grin appears on my face when I hear the doors open again. I turn half so I can see him enter the gym and at the same time see the reactions of the team.

"He's telling the truth coach. For once it wasn't his fault, but mine…"

It is priceless. Exactly how we planned it. Hey! What do you mean, 'for once'…? Yet I keep on smiling. There is nothing that can break my smile today…

When the biggest shock has ebbed away we find ourselves in a big group hug. Everybody laughing and with tears in our eyes.

The training is the best one we've ever had. At least we are complete again. Everything works, with everyone. For the simple reason that he's back…

- - - - - -

And when the both of us walk back homewards, I sigh happily. Our fingers intertwined and my head resting on his shoulder.

I'm not alone anymore. I'll never be… For he is with me. Forever…

&The End&

AN: Well, this was the last chapter. I hope you liked it, and please, leave a review:)