Chapter Eleven: Finally
"Do you… That is… If it's alright…" Kazuma began to stutter in his words as well, his pulse was racing, his breaths were quickening as well. "Would you…" However, the brunet never got to finish his request as Shigeru asked his question for him…
"Can I kiss you, Azuma-kun?" This was it. Shigeru knew he could hold back no longer, he heart still ached for the brunet no matter how many questions he had thrown at himself.
"…Please…" the brunet replied with a wide smile.
Shigeru leaned closer and closer, Kazuma's arm around his neck consequently tightening as he drew nearer to the brunet. Both their eyes were beginning to slide shut, their holds on each other tightening until it finally happened…
A soft touch of his lips on Kazuma's and Shigeru felt his stomach do a back flip. Their kiss remained light, mostly since they let each other get used to the feeling. They broke apart after a couple of seconds, eyelids slightly revealing dazed orbs of caramel and amethyst. A small nod from Kazuma became their signal to meet once more, this time adding a bit of passion.
Shigeru held Kazuma closer as the brunet did the same, bringing their bodies together making the room seem to heat up for the two artisans. Kazuma moaned as he felt Shigeru's body press down on his, electric shocks making his insides shiver in a pleasurable way. He kissed back fervently as Shigeru reverted to sucking on his bottom lip.
Their quick and light kisses evolved to long, passionate ones that left them both breathless but still asking for more. Quiet moans of satisfaction began voicing out hunger for more… more passion, more sensuality… just more…
Kazuma let the tip of his tongue escape through his parted lips, and in turn gave a teasing lick upon Shigeru's lips.
Opening his amethyst orbs, Shigeru witnessed the playful look hanging around the brunet underneath him. Kazuma's half-lidded pools of caramel were staring into his soul, voicing out the brunet's inner thoughts…
Shigeru captured the brunet's soft lips once more, pushing down a bit of his weight on certain 'spots' on the tanned teen's body.
Kazuma gasped in surprise as excitement flooded his body; he could almost feel his temperature rise up by 5 degrees or something. "Ahh…Kanmuri..." Kazuma moaned softly, making himself even more vulnerable.
By act of instinct, Shigeru's tongue slowly entered Kazuma's mouth; tasting the exquisite flavor that the brunet's moist tavern had offered. Kazuma's tongue soon met with his, caressing it and having a taste of him as well.
Shigeru maneuvered his hand wherein the brunet was resting his head, gently tilting it up giving him more control. His tongue returned the brunet's favor, wrapping around Kazuma's tongue, sucking; making the brunet experience something akin to heaven.
Eventually, Shigeru pulled back a bit due to lack of breath, both of them were panting, a thin line of saliva connecting their tongues. Kazuma momentarily raised himself to give Shigeru a quick peck on the lips, thus breaking the 'thread' of saliva between them. Pulling back and licking his lips, a flush and a grin came unto the brunet's features as Shigeru gave him a dazed, half-lidded look that plainly said 'I want you'.
"Azuma-kun?" Shigeru found himself questioning as the brunet rolled them over, letting the brunet lay on top of him.
"Hmm…?" Kazuma queried back as he placed a hand on the pale-skinned artisan's shoulder and rested his head on Shigeru's chest, letting his other hand trace looping patterns on the teen's clothed chest.
Thinking of it as the brunet's way of telling him 'enough', Shigeru's arms wrapped around Kazuma's waist, holding the brunet in place. Serenity… so this was what it felt like…
However, serenity didn't stay too long, electricity suddenly crept throughout Shigeru's abdomen. His half-closing eyes snapped open, his eyes automatically turning to the direction of the brunet lying on top of him.
Kazuma's eyes didn't meet Shigeru's as they seemed to be absorbed in something else. That something else being his hand slowly 'exploring' underneath Shigeru's polo shirt; he started by gradually touching Shigeru's washboard stomach with the tips of his fingertips. This eventually led to him teasingly resting his palm flat on the artisan's abdomen before slowly bringing it upwards to caress Shigeru's chest.
"Azuma-kun?" Shigeru asked as the brunet's hand finally rested on the middle of his chest. His face was flushing from the sensuous touches as he tried to regain normal breathing.
"We've done it before, haven't we?" Kazuma told the querying artisan quietly as he turned to look at him in the eyes.
Shigeru was about to ask the brunet what he meant but the images quickly came flooding in his mind and, if possible, his blush darkened even more. "That's quite out of the question… That event only occurred because we were both wet and cold from the rain…"
"So… if I say I was cold, would you agree to it then?" Kazuma offered as he moved closer to Shigeru's face.
Shigeru closed his eyes; he could not face a pouting Kazuma right now, since he knew he would instantly give in without any hesitations… But this was a different case that he really need to think about… Sure, Kazuma's offer was tempting but he had to consider… What if he wouldn't be able to restrain himself?
Kazuma's breath reached his lips as he felt one of the brunet's hands cup his cheeks. Shigeru half-opened both eyes, finding himself staring straight back at Kazuma's pleading (and might I add inviting) face.
"Please…?" Kazuma purposely sugarcoated his tone of voice. "I'll do anything…" The brunet added as his lips hovered over Shigeru's, teasing the other artisan with light touches here and there.
Shigeru could feel his defenses melting down; he had never, in all his life felt this weak before. Kazuma began caressing his bare chest, making him moan in pleasure… His hold around the brunet's waist tightened, his hands clutching at the back of Kazuma's t-shirt.
Kazuma gently brushed his thumb against Shigeru's lips, halting the artisan in his words. "It's Kazuma… Just call me Kazuma, Shi-ge-ru…" the brunet said with an endearing tone.
"Kazuma…" Shigeru said quietly as though testing out calling the brunet by his first name.
"Yes?" Kazuma replied with a smile as he kissed Shigeru on the lips, a little reward, he decided, for calling him by his first name. "You know, Shigeru, your chest is kinda getting all sweaty and stuff… I feel too hot as well; don't you agree that it'd be better if we lessen our clothing…?"
Shigeru's thoughts were swimming in his mind, the pros and cons were all muddled up. He could feel the increase in temperature as well; the back of Kazuma's t-shirt was already sticking to his hands… Still, he couldn't let it be… He must fight these... these urges from within him… He had to find his chances and use them to his advantage… And firstly, there was a need to change positions…
After securing that Kazuma's head would fall on one of the cushions, Shigeru then put his efforts into rolling them to one side. Kazuma's eyes shot wide open when he realized that their positions had changed in an instant. Shigeru's rather ragged breathing eventually slowed down to normal, as he stood on all fours above Kazuma.
A thin layer of sweat lingered upon Kazuma's face as his lips slightly parted as he panted for breath. His caramel orbs stared directly back at Shigeru's.
"Kazuma… I think it'd be better off for us to have some sleep right now…" Shigeru said firmly.
"But Shigeru…" Kazuma began to protest, propping up his body using both his arms causing the pink-haired artisan to back away a bit.
"No more buts, Kazuma…" Shigeru said in a gentler tone as he used one hand to brush away stray strands of hair from the brunet's face. "It's late at night and we're both already tired… We need rest, Kazuma…"
Kazuma looked downcast; he didn't want to sleep just yet, not when all this adrenaline was pumping through his body… But he knew Shigeru was right, he did feel tired after all but still…
A light smile formed on Shigeru's face as Kazuma began to sulk; he couldn't help but give out a small laugh as he kissed the brunet's pouting lips. His body felt lighter as he felt Kazuma's lips form smile in the midst of their kiss, the brunet's arms consequently turning to wrap around his neck as Kazuma kissed back.
"Come on," Shigeru invited as their kiss ended, reaching out his hand for the brunet to take.
Kazuma just gave a contented sigh before placing his hand in the one that Shigeru had offered. The two of them then stood up, hand in hand, heading towards the door to finally go back to their room and have some shut-eye. However, things didn't go as expected…
Shigeru placed a hand on the cabin door's knob and turned but nothing happened. He tried once again, this time giving a little more pressure but still the door didn't budge. Thinking that he was going the wrong direction, he turned the doorknob counterclockwise but it yielded no results…
"Shigeru… is something the matter?" Kazuma asked as he leaned against Shigeru's arm, their hands entwined.
"I… The door won't open…" Shigeru told the brunet. "I don't get it… It was working properly a while ago…"
"Maybe it's locked," Kazuma pointed out bluntly.
"What? But who- how- why…" questions began popping up from Shigeru's mind. He didn't understand it, surely he would've seen it if anyone had locked them up but he could definitely swear that he hadn't spotted anyone who could've bolted the door, thus trapping them inside… Who could do such a thing?!
"Shigeru…" Kazuma said quietly, causing the aforementioned artisan to look at him. "Stop stressing out… I don't think anyone would mind if we spend the night here…" the brunet pointed out as he placed his other hand of top of his and Shigeru's entwined hands, giving the pink-haired artisan's hand a light squeeze.
"Okay then…" Shigeru agreed wearily as he allowed himself to be pulled by the brunet back into the circle of cushions.
"See, it wasn't so hard…" Kazuma said with a quiet giggle as he rested his head once more on Shigeru's chest, one arm draped over the artisan's chest and shoulder. "…and Kanmuri?" Kazuma added as an after thought.
Shigeru saved himself the effort of replying as he placed a kiss atop the brunet's head.
Kazuma felt warmth rush all the way down his body coming from the spot where Shigeru just kissed him, he snuggled closer to Shigeru before whispering his last words for that night… "I love you…"
"…Same here…" Shigeru replied quietly, wrapping an arm around Kazuma's waist once again, the artisan shifted to a more comfortable position as he felt the brunet's breathing even out. And slowly Shigeru's eyes slid shut as well…
No one could properly describe what the two had felt that night… It had started with never-ending questions that not all have been answered… But one thing was certain, tonight was the night for the two artisans. It was as though tonight, it was only the two of them and no one else. No one else existed in their world… everything was theirs… even if it was just tonight… It was mutual between them; they had no one but each other in their eyes and minds. It was no question of what they felt… the question revolved on their confidence in showing it…
The next morning…
Kazuma snuggled closer to the warmth. He breathed in the scent that surrounded him, he felt comforted. He made to pull his pillow closer when he noticed something, something odd… Pillows never had hands that continuously ran through his hair, soothing his nerves…
Caramel orbs met with stunningly bright light, it took him a while to get used to it and he noticed that during that period the hand seemed to halt its ministrations. Focusing his eyes on the material that served as his pillow, the brunet found himself looking at familiar light green clothing. Kazuma's eyes widened as realization hit him… He-him-they-it couldn't have-but… Kazuma's heart seemed to miss its paces as he braced himself, slowly he tilted his head upwards trying to see who his companion was.
Somehow, the brunet wasn't surprised when he found Shigeru's face a couple of centimeters away from him with the artisan's amethyst orbs eyeing him carefully. An unexplainable look was upon the artisan's features… Shigeru's mien showed surprise… concern… worry… sadness and…was that fear?
The two stared at each other; neither uttering a single word for naturally neither of them knew the proper words to say given their situation…
A wave of dizziness passed through the brunet's mind and Kazuma found himself cradling his head with both hands as it began to hurt. He seemed to be getting a sort of migraine or something but whatever it was, it was making his head hurt like crazy. "It hurts…" Kazuma groaned as he shut his eyes tightly, feeling the world around him spin.
"Here, Azuma-kun… You should lay down for a while…" Shigeru instructed as he carefully guided the brunet to a lying position on the carpeted floor, making sure that a cushion was supporting the tanned teen's aching head.
For a few more minutes Kazuma's face continued to constrict in pain, until finally the pain seemed to have subsided as Kazuma released his hold on his head. Kazuma opened his eyes once again, this time they met directly with Shigeru's amethyst orbs.
Shigeru was looking at him with concern filling his amethyst orbs, "Azuma-kun, do you feel better now?"
"A-A bit…" Kazuma replied truthfully, he could swear something was different just about now… "Why does my head hurt so much?" Kazuma asked the question more to himself than anyone else.
"I think it's probably due to the large amount of wine that Mayumi had us drink during the game last night…" Shigeru explained, shifting to sit Indian style on the floor with his back against the wall wherein the room's only window was situated.
"Last night…" Kazuma echoed absentmindedly as he tried to recall the events of last night, finding himself lost as he stared into Shigeru's eyes. Slowly, one by one, images of last night came to the brunet's mind… Even the feelings seemed to return to him as familiar sensations crept under his skin.
"Kanmuri…" Kazuma said in an almost awed voice, "a-about last night… I-"
"You don't have to explain yourself, Azuma-kun," Shigeru cut in politely, "It's understandable… Both of us were under the influence of alcohol last night, it's not much of a surprise that things went… out of hand…"
Why did Shigeru seem so distant to him? Kazuma wondered sadly… But then again, the brunet couldn't blame him, Shigeru had sufficient reason to be angry at him… "Either way, Kanmuri…" Kazuma began quietly as he sat up, "I just want to say I'm sorry… I-I knew you and Mayumi-chan are together and yet I… I wasn't able to control myself…" Kazuma said quietly as he broke eye contact with Shigeru, opting to stare at the floor instead.
The brunet's words kept ringing in Shigeru's ears, Kazuma… the brunet didn't regret what happened last night, Kazuma's main concern was that Mayumi was his supposed girlfriend… But… that wasn't even true…
"Azuma-kun, listen…" Shigeru said, "Let's talk about it…"
"Think about Mayumi-chan, Kanmuri…" Kazuma interjected, rightly reading what was in his companion's mind. "She's your girlfriend…"
"No, she's not…" Shigeru replied sullenly, his bangs covering his eyes as his hands balled into fists.
"What are you saying, Kanmuri? She's-" Caramel orbs never left their spot.
"She's my cousin, alright?" Shigeru said in a dark tone, almost through gritted teeth. He couldn't believe how much of an idiot he had been.
That statement managed to tear Kazuma's eyes away from the floor, the surprise filled orbs found themselves staring at the depressed artisan.
"Wha-What do you mean, Kanmuri…" Kazuma was almost afraid to ask but he knew he could never just let this pass.
"It's all a lie, okay?" Shigeru's tone had changed, it was now almost pitying… "I-I lied to you… Forgive me…"
"Kanmuri… What do you mean?" Kazuma couldn't help himself any longer, he moved closer to Shigeru fearing that something was wrong.
Shigeru finally looked up as he felt some warmth come up to his side, without much surprise he found Kazuma now sitting beside him; an apprehensive look was upon the brunet's features.
"I don't understand, Kanmuri…" Kazuma's eyes were teary as he spoke his words. "T-Tell me… I-If Mayumi-chan's your cousin… Then wh-why did you keep it from me and the others…?"
"I just didn't want to hurt you…" Shigeru admitted breaking eye contact once more, this time turning his gaze upon the whitewashed ceiling.
"Me? Wh-Why?" Kazuma was taken aback; he had not expected the artisan's previous reply. He didn't like having Shigeru look at something else whilst talking to him, so despite the hammering heartbeats in his chest, Kazuma took action. Gently, he cupped the pink-haired artisan's cheeks with both of his hands and slowly turned Shigeru's head to face him. "Please, Kanmuri… I-I don't know what to do anymore… Everything is so confusing…" Kazuma added in a voice that was barely above a whisper.
The brunet's actions shocked Shigeru, one moment he was staring at the dull white ceiling and the next he was facing Kazuma's expression-filled caramel orbs. Shigeru knew he could hide things no longer…
"I love you…" Shigeru said simply not even moving an inch since Kazuma had shifted his position, his amethyst eyes staring sadly back at Kazuma. He paused for a moment, waiting if Kazuma would say something but not a word left the brunet's mouth, a sure sign for him to continue… Shigeru then elaborated his words, "I've loved you, Azuma-kun, even before you and Kawachi became together and I've never ceased to do so until now… However, I know that it would be rude of me if I told you of my feelings back when you and Kawachi were together so I held back… I had hoped that my feelings would eventually just 'die down' but they never did. To be honest, I felt a mixture of feelings back when the two of you broke up… A part of me told me that it was my chance to be with you but another part wanted me to reconsider my 'supposed' plan… My conscience told me to think more of your wellbeing than anything else, it made me realize that what you needed at the moment was some space. I made a pact to myself that I won't make any move on you until you had opened yourself once more for a new relationship. Then, Mayumi came and she instantly realized that I had fallen for you… She offered to help get us together but I refused her offer, I told her I didn't need it but she could help me in another way. I told her that I didn't want to take advantage of your 'situation'… That was when I asked her to act as my girlfriend; I thought that if I distanced myself from you through our act, maybe you wouldn't see my actions as some form of taking an advantage on you or anything… I knew that you've been deeply hurt by your previous break-up so I wanted to help you in anyway I can and at the same time give you some space for yourself. Acting like Mayumi-chan was my girlfriend was the only way that I could think of in order to fulfill that…"
The regime of silence began once Shigeru had finished his statement. Slowly Shigeru shifted his gaze once more, his hands fisting around the hem of his shorts. A minute or two had passed before the spell was broken…
"I see…" Kazuma said in a quiet tone as his hands slowly released their hold upon Shigeru. "You know, Kanmuri… I want to thank you for being honest with me… Just… thank you… Because right now, after hearing you say all those things, I… I just feel so happy… It's like my chest is swelling up making me feel so light it's like I could fly… You've always been there for me in every moment that I'm in need that I realize how stupid I've been. You've been there through the good and bad things that had happened to me… I feel like an idiot for not seeing it sooner… so, I want to say 'I'm sorry' as well…"
"You don't have to…" Shigeru muttered, continuing to avert his gaze from the brunet.
A sad smile made itself known to the brunet as he sat against the wall beside Shigeru, bringing up his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around his legs. "Still… I, at least, have to return the favor-"
"Don't feel obliged by it, Azuma-kun…"
"It's already here, Kanmuri… I don't think there's anything else to do… You've been hurt so much when you held back your feelings for me… And for these past few days, I just realized how hard it had been for you… It hurts so much, trying to be happy for the one whom you wished to be yours… I know t-that I may n-not be p-planned but… I-I just feel so… so angry at myself because I r-realize that I h-had caused you th-that much hurt… It's just so…" Kazuma's statement was left hanging as unexpected tears leaked from the brunet's eyes.
Soft sobs caught Shigeru's attention, turning towards it's source, he found his heart melting at the sight of the tears quickly running down Kazuma's cheeks. His body had moved before he could even think of the situation and not a few seconds more, he was already beside Kazuma gently wiping the brunet's tears away.
"Azuma-kun, look…" Shigeru said, finding his voice once more, "It's not like I hate you or anything… It's just that… I… I don't want to hurt you as what had happened with Kawachi-san…"
"I'm not asking that of you, Kanmuri…" came Kazuma's quite reply as he lightly placed his hand on top of Shigeru's, which had paused from wiping away the tears from brunet's face. "…After all, you were still there for me even though you weren't my boyfriend… And both of us were happy with that, right?"
Shigeru nodded for he knew that Kazuma was right, just seeing the brunet happy had always been enough for him, but sometimes he just wished there was just a little something more to that…
"So why can't we keep that? You don't need to be my boyfriend or anything to do that, right?" Kazuma said as his hold on Shigeru's hand tightened.
Shigeru thought about the brunet's proposal… True, he had always been free to care for the brunet but something was still nagging him inside his head and it confused him to no end… He was afraid… deeply afraid of hurting Kazuma thus he was afraid to claim the brunet as his own but at the same time, he didn't think that he could survive if Kazuma got together some other person… He found it quite preposterous actually and yet he couldn't take his mind off of it.
"I-I don't wish to lose you again, Azuma-kun…" Shigeru finally said after about a minute of contemplation. "I mean, I'm afraid to make you mine, fearing that I would just hurt you in the end but at the same time, I don't know what I'll do if ever you got together with someone else once again…"
"Weren't you paying attention to what I've told you last night?" Kazuma asked rather testily but his gaze softened towards his companion.
"Azuma-kun, you were drunk… both of us were…" Shigeru explained.
"But I still meant what I said…" Kazuma replied simply.
"Nonetheless…" Shigeru began but he was cut off by Kazuma's gentle tone.
"We don't have to label our relationship, Kanmuri… I-I love you…" Kazuma added, a blush furiously making its way on his cheeks. "You know that, right? So there isn't any reason for you to be afraid of hurting me or anything…"
"Still…" came Shigeru's uneasy tone.
"You care for me, right?"
"You love me don't you?"
"Of course, Azuma-kun, but-"
"And wouldn't you always do your best not to make me sad or anything?"
"I will… Really. However that-"
"I trust you, Kanmuri."
"-I can't promise tha- Wait, what?" Shigeru's mumblings were cut short as he just realized how close Kazuma had shifted towards him. "Azuma-kun…"
"I trust you, Kanmuri." Kazuma repeated as he leaned closer to Shigeru's hand, which was still unmoved from his cheek. "You can never really guarantee anything in life, you know… All we can do is try… do the best that we can…"
Shigeru mulled over Kazuma's words… The brunet was right; maybe he had been thinking it over too much…
"Azuma-kun?" Shigeru began uncertainly, he could feel his very own hands shaking.
"Yes?" was the reply that Kazuma gave, excitement and joy laced his voice despite much of the brunet's attempt to hide them.
"I-I just want you to know that… I'll do my very best to keep you happy at all times, and even though I-"
"Thank you… for giving me this chance to be happy again…" Kazuma said, now removing Shigeru's hand from his cheek and enclosing it with both of his own, squeezing it gently to emphasize his words.
Shigeru couldn't help the smile that formed on his lips, he had waited so long for this moment and now that it was playing right before his eyes, he just couldn't believe it… "Anything for you, Azuma-kun," he gently told the brunet, earning him a wide smile from Kazuma.
And suddenly the brunet drew nearer to him, this got Shigeru a bit flustered; pinkish red hues surfaced on the artisan's cheeks as his breaths became short and shallow. "Azuma-kun… Sh-Should we really…?"
"It would be our first kiss as a couple…" Kazuma told the flustered teen, as he slowly continued to move closer.
The brunet's tone left no place for arguments, but then again, Shigeru wasn't having problems with Kazuma's 'proposal'. The pink-haired artisan then shifted closer to the brunet, his unoccupied hand sliding to take hold of Kazuma's jaw. The two artisans slowly closed the gap in between them, sliding up closer to each other with each passing second. Eventually the two got so near each other that their breaths were intermingling and with only half an inch in between them, the two breathed in deeply before…
"Azuma-kun? Kanmuri? Are you guys in-"
A familiar loud female voice suddenly bounded on the walls of the room, however, its cry suddenly halted causing the room's occupants to pause in their actions and quickly look at the source of the noise.
Tsukino woke up with sunlight almost blinding her eyes, sitting up proved to be quite difficult for her as a painful throbbing had erupted near her temples. Once sat up properly, apple green orbs scanned the room, eventually landing on an arm hanging from the bed above hers. Blinking in confusion, the brunette got out of bed and found her roommate lying haphazardly on the mattress staring blankly at the ceiling.
"Good morning Mayumi-chan…" Tsukino greeted cheerfully.
Cerulean orbs automatically flickered to the direction of the brunette as their owner seemed to have woken from her trance. "Ah, yes… Good morning, too, Tsukino-chan… How're you feeling?"
"I'm fine… just had a minor head ache earlier…" Tsukino explained as she watched the raven-haired girl descend from the top bunk, landing a few feet from her. "You?" she asked in return.
"Oh nothing much… I'm still a bit tired from the game last night, though…" Mayumi informed her friend with a yawn as she slipped her feet into her slippers.
"I see..." Tsukino said as she put on her slippers as well at the same time, the brunette reached for her cell phone which was located inside the bag resting on her bed. Checking the time, Tsukino's eyes widened as she realized that breakfast was just about to be served… "Mayumi-chan, it's already 7:58…" Tsukino said in a disbelieving tone, "We'd better head to the dining room soon…"
"Sure, let's go!" Mayumi invited as she held the door open.
Moments later, the two girls found themselves facing Kageto, Manager and Erhard, all sitting around the table, which was now laden with American breakfast dishes. Tsukino took a seat beside Kageto, her apple green orbs eyeing all the scrumptious food that lay before her. Picking up the plate of pancakes, she got herself two before putting it back and consequently asking Kageto to pass the butter. The girl was just about to spread the butter onto her pancakes when she realized that Mayumi wasn't beside her; looking up Tsukino saw the raven-haired girl still standing by the doorway.
"Mayumi-chan? Aren't you going to eat?" the brunette asked her friend.
"I was just wondering why Kanmuri and Azuma-kun aren't here yet…" Mayumi said thoughtfully, having an innocent expression on her face.
"Oh don't worry about those two… They're still probably asleep right now… Don't worry we'll leave enough food for them when they wake up…" Manager Ken said, halfway through his omelet.
"They are quite right, young mistress. You certainly need nourishment after having a tiring game last night…" Erhard added, just finishing his cup of coffee.
"Still, I'll just have a quick check on them… Just continue eating guys, I'll be back in a sec!" Mayumi called as she closed the door behind her, a rather evil grin then made it's way to her face; her innocent mien was no more. It was time to see if her plan had worked or not… Surely by now, Shigeru and Kazuma had worked everything out between themselves. I mean, come on, they had the whole night to deal with it, for god's sake! Nonetheless, if the initial plan backfired, the raven-haired girl had a sure back-up plan made up just in case. Cerulean blue orbs glistened as the girl rethought of her plan: if Shigeru still hadn't resolved with Kazuma by that morning then she, herself, would confess everything to the brunet… Seriously, Shigeru might be the smartest kid around but when it comes to things like love… It's like an entirely new language to him. So as a self-proclaimed 'love-expert', Mayumi 'knew' that it was her obligation to help her cousin who was in dire need…
Knowing that she had locked the two in the TV room last night, Mayumi wasted no time in searching for the two in the bedrooms and headed directly to the room just in front of her. The door to the TV room had its lock on the outside so her plan was quite flawless, after all, no one would suspect two people being locked inside in the dead of the night… And besides, she had left the two almost (if not thoroughly) drunk, so there was little chance that the two could have shouted for help.
Breathing in deeply, Mayumi then prepared herself for what was awaiting her on the other side of the door… Undoing the lock on the door, the girl then turned the knob, fully opening the door and accompanying it with a rather deafening greeting…
"Azuma-kun? Kanmuri? Are you guys in-"
However, her words suddenly got stuck in her throat as her cerulean orbs took in the scene before her. The room's arrangement was the same as when she had left it the night before; the TV was in one corner, many cushions were aligned to form a circle in the middle of the room (though some of them were already misplaced), and the tray with the wine bottle and shot glasses were set aside away from the cushions. But those weren't the things that caught the girl's attention…
Situated near the wall directly opposite her location were the two artisans that she had been looking for… Despite having planned for the two to get together, she had not quite counted on seeing them as such… The two were leaning towards each other a little too close, one of Shigeru's hands was placed on Kazuma's jaw, as though he was pulling the tanned teen closer. Both teens sported half-lidded looks upon their faces and were blushing furiously, but either way the two had suddenly broke apart upon her entrance…
"Uh… Sorry? Was I interrupting something…?" Mayumi said quite uncertainly, she had definitely not counted on this scenario.
"Mayumi-chan…" came Kazuma's only reply. The tanned teen couldn't quite find the right words to explain himself to the girl who happened to walk-in on him and Shigeru just before… Kazuma started to blush furiously at the thought and resorted to biting his lower lip in the hopes of keeping his mouth shut.
Shigeru, meanwhile, had a loose grin set about despite the faint pink hue that hung on his cheeks. "Mayumi… erm, what brings you here?"
"Oh!" Mayumi's eyes widened as she seemed to just suddenly remember the main reason that she entered the room. "Uh, well, I was quite worried when I couldn't find you guys anywhere in the bedrooms so I came to look for you here since this is where I last saw you guys last night and um… Well, I just came to tell you that we're having breakfast in the dining room so… If you guys are hungry… well, you know…" Mayumi smiled once before going back to the dining room, not even bothering to close the TV room's door.
"Mayumi-chan!" Kazuma called out just as the girl stepped into the hallway.
"Yes?" Mayumi asked, turning to look at the brunet once more.
"C-Can I talk to you for a moment…" Kazuma said, finding a bit of confidence within him.
"Sure, Azuma-san!" Mayumi agreed.
Kazuma made to stand up but Shigeru suddenly placed a hand on the brunet's shoulders.
"Azuma-kun, what are you doing?" he asked, albeit concerned.
"Don't worry, I just want to clear things up with her…" the brunet replied with a smile as he gently removed Shigeru's hand from his shoulder and proceeded to walk towards Mayumi.
"What is it that you want to talk about, Azuma-san?" Mayumi asked the moment that the two of them had walked out to the yacht's deck, a cool morning breeze greeting them along the way.
"I actually don't know where to start but… Are you really okay with me being with Shigeru… I mean, you are his cousin… So I just thought…" Kazuma trailed off.
"It seems that Shigeru had already told you everything… Azuma-san, of course I'm happy for the two of you!" Mayumi exclaimed, giving the brunet her brightest smile. "I can see that you two cared for each other a lot, ever since the first day of my arrival… And besides, I'm glad that Kanmuri had finally found the one for him…"
"Do you really think that, I-I'm the one for Kanmuri?" Kazuma asked, not being able to help getting quite flattered.
"I can see it in both of you…" was all that Mayumi said as she placed a hand on Kazuma's shoulders and turned him around, making the brunet see the person who was watching them from within the shadows of the cabin.
Shigeru's eyes widened when he saw Kazuma turn his way, he thought about hiding but his feet wouldn't move. Unsurprisingly, his gaze met with Kazuma's and he flashed the brunet a sheepish smile, which the brunet gladly returned.
"See what I mean?" Mayumi told the brunet as she removed her hand from his shoulder.
Kazuma just nodded and smiled at her for the lack of words that could possibly express his happiness at the moment.
"Let's get going to breakfast then!" Mayumi invited as she made her way past Kazuma going back into the cabin. A smirk was on her lips as she passed by Shigeru who whispered a quiet 'Thanks' before heading out, making a beeline towards Kazuma.
"So…" Shigeru began as each step brought him closer to his target.
"So...?" Kazuma asked, a smile playing on his lips as he stood his ground and waited for Shigeru to reach him.
"Hmm, I don't know…" Shigeru said as he wrapped his arms around Kazuma's waist.
Kazuma giggled as he leaned into Shigeru's embrace, and as though on cue, a moderately strong wind blew bringing along with it cool air that made both teen's shiver. Kazuma brought his arms around Shigeru's neck as the aforementioned artisan tightened his hold on him, keeping him warm. The new couple remained unmoved for a few minutes, contentedly wrapped in each other's embrace.
"Kanmuri…" Kazuma called softly, still having his face burrowed in Shigeru's chest.
"Hmm?" came Shigeru's reply as Kazuma shifted to look up at him.
"This is just…" Kazuma began but ended up trailing off as Shigeru tucked stray strands of his hair behind his ear.
"Aren't you hungry, yet, Azuma-kun?" Shigeru queried still not releasing his hold on the brunet as another breeze passed them by.
"…Not really…" was Kazuma's half-hearted reply as he gazed almost longingly into Shigeru's amethyst eyes.
A soft sigh escaped Shigeru's lips just before he leaned down and placed a kiss on Kazuma's forehead. "Come on, let's not keep the others waiting… They might worry you know…"
Complete and utter surprise awaited the two artisans as they entered the yacht's dining room. Apparently, upon her return, Mayumi had already spilled everything to her companions; thus upon the two's arrival, they were greeted with jovial cheers.
"Congratulations, you two!" Tsukino hollered gleefully, looking up from her plate of pancakes.
"Huh? What do you mean?" Kazuma asked quite surprised at the brunette's greeting.
"Don't play dumb, Mayumi here told us everything…" Manager Ken commented looking at his two workers from behind his dark sunglasses.
Mayumi just gave Kazuma and Shigeru a peace sign as they both turned to look at her disbelievingly.
"Well, there's nothing to hide anyway, is there?" Shigeru said to the brunet beside him.
"Nope… C'mon, let's eat already!" Kazuma said, grabbing Shigeru by the hand and pulling the artisan along as he bounded towards the empty cushions that surrounded the table.
A faint pink hue tinted Shigeru's cheeks as he and Kazuma got to their seats; he had never really thought that everyone would consent to their relationship that easily… Amethyst eyes scanned the table, around him people were all happily interacting with each other, a casual talk here and a little joking there; everybody was having fun… Yes, this definitely was a worthwhile vacation…
A tug on his sleeve brought Shigeru back to reality, looking to his right he found himself staring back at Kazuma who had a worried look about him.
"Aren't you going to eat?" the brunet asked, concern lacing his voice.
"Don't worry, I was just thinking over some stuff…" came Shigeru's casual reply. "Would you want some rolls?" he added as he reached for the breadbasket at the center of the table.
"Sure…" Kazuma replied, his lips curving up to a smile.
The rest of their trip back to Tokyo had been spent on the yacht's deck, just basking in the summer sun and feeling the cool wind on their skin. Occasionally they would spot some dolphins swimming beside the yacht and the girls would squeal in delight at the sight of the water mammal. The sun was just setting when they finally reached the port. The familiar white limousine awaited them at the port, which then brought them all back to the Pantasia Southern Tokyo Branch store. Needless to say, there was a teary farewell as the Pantasia crew said their goodbyes to Mayumi and Erhard…
"Mayumi-chan!" Tsukino cried as she hugged the raven-haired girl, leaving her bags on the pavement. Tears had threatened to fall from her eyes. "I'll miss you!"
A small smile found its way to Mayumi's lips as she returned the embrace. "I'll miss you too, Tsukino… and all of you guys as well…" she added, looking up at the rest of her companions.
"You're going back to America already?" Kazuma asked, feeling down. He had not really spent much quality time with the girl since he had been quite jealous of her (though it was unknown to him back then) for the past week and now he utterly regretted it…
"Don't worry, Azuma-san…" Mayumi told the brunet as she and Tsukino parted from their hug. "I swear, I'll be back soon… then, we'll hang out again…"
"It's been great having you around," Manager Ken told the girl.
"And it's been so much fun being around all you guys…" Mayumi returned the comment with sincerity.
"Young mistress, I dare that we need to leave… We wouldn't want to miss our flight now, would we?" Erhard politely reminded his charge.
"Already? Ah well… See you guys soon, okay?" Mayumi said waving a final goodbye to the group as she entered the awaiting limousine and Erhard closed the door behind her.
"Oh, and Kanmuri?" Mayumi called out, bringing down the car's tinted window, poking her head out.
"Yeah?" Shigeru replied quite surprised that Mayumi had suddenly called on him.
"You'd better still be with Azuma-kun when I return, okay? Or else…" Mayumi threatened her cousin although she had a grin plastered on her face.
"You can count on it, Mayumi!" Shigeru shouted confidently, a smile finding its way to his lips once more as the limousine drove away.
"And I'll make sure of that…" a familiar voice called out, instantly gathering the group's attention. Five pairs of eyes turned to the noise's direction, two of which had widened upon seeing who it was.
Kawachi stood there, his hands crossed in front of his chest and a smirk was on his face.
Kazuma's hand found its way to Shigeru's and held on to it tightly. Shigeru squeezed Kazuma's hand as he looked at Tsukino, Kageto and Manager who instantly got his message and left them there, each going their own ways home.
"So, uhm, Kawachi-san…" Shigeru began, quite nervous since the last time he was face to face with the teen, he was rather pissed off and right now… Well, with Kazuma being the teen's ex and him being with Kazuma right now, it was kind of difficult for him…
"Oh come on, don't be like that, Kanmuri?" Kawachi said with a laugh.
"Kawachi…" Kazuma started, giving his ex a small smile, "I know you understand…"
"Yeah…" a loose grin appeared on the blonde's face, "So, how long has it been like this?"
"J-Just this morning…" Shigeru replied, finding his voice once more.
"Ah, I see…" Kawachi said thoughtfully, his onyx orbs shining, "… Kanmuri, do you still remember what you've told me before?"
Shigeru was reminded of what happened months ago, in the alleyway just behind them; the memory of it still etched clearly within the depths of his mind… Shigeru nodded to show that he completely understood what the older teen was talking about.
"I give you that same challenge, Kanmuri…" Kawachi said, looking the aforementioned artisan in the eyes. "And just a reminder… don't make the same mistake, I did…"
Shigeru's jaw seemed to have unhinged itself from his skull, his mouth was slightly ajar still unbelieving of what had just happened. But at the same time, he felt as though all his worries were blown away…
Reality returned to Shigeru as he just realized that Kawachi had now walked past him and Kazuma. He instantly turned around to see the blonde's retreating back, one of Kawachi's hand was raised up waving goodbye to them.
"Kawachi!" Kazuma spoke up out of the blue causing the older artisan to halt and look back at them, Shigeru could feel Kazuma's hand tighten its hold on his.
"Yeah?" Kawachi cocked an eyebrow.
"Thank you…" Kazuma said almost breathlessly as though an invisible weight had just been removed from his chest.
A nod was all that Kawachi had given as a reply before he resumed his walk. Amethyst and caramel orbs continued to watch the blonde artisan walk away, never leaving their spots until the teen was completely out of sight. Night had dawned on them before they even knew it and the streetlights flickered open one by one.
"I guess it's time to go home, now…" Kazuma said with uncertainty… his caramel orbs now looking up at Shigeru.
"I see… So, I guess its goodbye for now, Azuma-kun…" Shigeru said as his eyes shifted at the night sky momentarily before finally landing on Kazuma.
"Hmm," Kazuma nodded as he gave Shigeru's hand a final squeeze before letting go and then focusing his eyes on the ground.
"Azuma-kun…?" Shigeru asked quite surprised at the brunet's sudden course of action.
"… I don't want us to end up the same way as me and Kawachi did…" Kazuma said quietly, Shigeru thought he heard a sob from the teen and so he instantly took action.
"Azuma-kun…" Shigeru said as he gently cupped both of Kazuma's cheeks and made the brunet face him. Sure enough, tear tracks now stained the teen's tanned cheeks and more were still coming… "You told me yourself that we really can't assure such things, didn't you? And that all we can do it do our best… And I intend to do just that…"
"Still, Kanmuri…" Kazuma was almost pleading as his watery orbs looked upon his lover.
"Ssshhh…" Shigeru soothed as he pulled Kazuma into an embrace, holding the brunet as close to him as possible, showing that he was there for him, that he would always be…
Kazuma laid his head against Shigeru's chest as his hands clung to Shigeru's shirt, he knew that it was quite pointless of him to cry but he just felt scared…
Thunder suddenly rolled in the sky's grayish clouds, and lightning soon after followed. Kazuma yelped in surprise at the sudden 'BOOM' from the skies, making him hold on to Shigeru much tighter than before, burying his face into the artisan's chest.
"You've said it before that you trust me, right? And now I want to prove to you that I'm worthy of your trust…" Shigeru said as he felt water drop on the top of his head. "This is our one chance, Azuma-kun…"
Shigeru's words made Kazuma look up at him; the pink-haired teen felt happiness replace his previous inner turmoil as Kazuma finally smiled back at him.
"I know…" Kazuma said quietly as he felt himself relax in Shigeru's hold. Shigeru was right, he had nothing to worry about… And to think of the irony of it all, wasn't it he himself earlier who had been trying his earnest in convincing Shigeru to be with him? A gasp escaped his lips as many droplets of rain suddenly poured down on him. Looking upwards, he freely allowed the rain to pour down on him, the rainwater mixing in with the tears that had previously occupied his face. The rainwater soaked him wet before he realized that Shigeru was still with him and that he had caused the artisan to become wet as well. Quickly looking back at his lover, Kazuma gave a sheepish grin.
"Sorry 'bout this, Kanmuri… I didn't mean to let the rain get to you as well…" Kazuma apologized as his hands found their way to Shigeru's shoulders…
"It's alright… It sort of feels great to have the rain pour down on you; it's as though the rain is washing away all your troubles…" Shigeru commented as he stared back at Kazuma, the streetlight behind him gave a good lighting making him see the brunet's smile properly in spite of the darkness that had surrounded them.
"Mmm-hm…" Kazuma agreed as he slowly shifted closer to Shigeru. The rain had thoroughly soaked them both that their clothes were already sticking to their skin; a familiar sensation began to creep through the brunet's body. And it was that same sensation had caused the brunet to take action, he gradually wrapped his arms around Shigeru's neck as he slowly inched closer. It seemed that Shigeru's thoughts were headed the same way as his was as he suddenly felt the other's warm body slide up against him, Shigeru's arms wrapped around his back pressed him closer even more…
Shigeru's eyes met with Kazuma's, a single thought was going on in both their minds and not a word was needed. Shigeru leaned in closer feeling Kazuma's warm breath on his lips despite the coolness of the rain. The teen captured the brunet's lips in a kiss, which Kazuma more than gladly returned. The kiss was filled with passion as the two held each other close, blissfully unaware of their soaked-to-the-skin state. It seemed to have been an hour for the two (though it was really just about ten seconds) before they finally parted, but still their faces remained close, their foreheads were pressed against each other's much like how their bodies were. Rain continued to pour down on the two as they tried to catch their breaths, panting, breathing in the air that the other had breathed out.
"So in the end, we finally get to have our kiss… although this isn't quite the exact scenario that I pictured it to be…" Kazuma commented, laughing a little as Shigeru's lips met with his in a quick kiss.
"Azuma-kun, our things are getting soaked as well, you know…" Shigeru quietly reminded the brunet with a chuckle.
"Oh right…" Kazuma's eyes widened as realization hit him; he then pulled away from Shigeru and picked up his backpack from the ground with an apologetic smile on his face.
"Good night then, Azuma-kun… See you tomorrow…" Shigeru said as he slung his own backpack on one shoulder.
"Mm-hm… See ya, Kanmuri…" Kazuma said as he stood on tiptoes and gave Shigeru a quick peck on his cheek.
Finally, everything seemed to be perfect… he waved goodbye as Shigeru crossed the street and headed his way home. After a few more minutes of watching the pink-haired artisan's retreating back (as well as getting soaked in the rain), Kazuma decided to finally go up the staircase behind him to go back to his flat above the Southern Tokyo store. Upon getting inside his flat, Kazuma leaned back against the closed door, his fingers lightly tracing his lips, a blush making its way to his cheeks… This was just the beginning… the beginning of everything…
A/N: well…That's it for this fic then… Hope the ending was sufficient (it gave me hell trying to find out what line goes next… confession lines always kill me…) I know this isn't my best work but at least I tried… right? –sigh- I probably won't post anything for a while now… I'll try to get fresh new ideas for my next Yakitate fic (yes, I never get tired of writing Yakitate… It's my life!!) So… tata for now!!