The Summer to Remember

Chapter 7: Lost

Author's note: Well I know that I left it hanging a little at the last chapter. I noticed that there are more and more fan fics on Hino and Tsuchiura, which is a good thing. I'm planning to write another fanfic about them after I finish this story. But, I should just finish this one first before I start another.

Well I still support this couple and really hope that they end up together in anime/manga.

Okay back to the story, what's going to happen to Tsuchiura? How will it change everything? Please read and review.


The rain was still falling heavily from the sky. Everyone was busy, there were so many people rushing about, doing their job that everything seems to be a blur to Hino. But she didn't know why she suddenly felt so protective of Tsuchiura.

" Hino." Takeru whispered.

" No, don't take him away from me." Hino shouted, shaking her head as she continued to hold Tsuchiura.

Why? She was probably afraid that they would bring him to the hospital and then declare that he was dead. Her hands clenched into fists. The paramedics were shaking their heads and Takeru came over and started to pull Hino away from the unconscious Tsuchiura.

" NO! Let me go!" Hino shouted, struggling against Takeru.

" Calm down Hino-san, there's nothing we can do but let them take him." Takeru told her.

" No!" She cried out.

They watched as they lifted Tsuchiura and placed him on the stretcher and was about to lift him into the ambulance. Takeru's grip around Hino loosened and she rushed forward. Hino wanted to be there with him, in the ambulance, but they closed the door on her. All Hino remembered was seeing the unconscious Tsuchiura lying there with his still bleeding hands.

" Tsuchiura-kun!" She shouted, banging her fist on the ambulance door.

" Open up, let me in!" She shouted.

Takeru held her back.

" Hino-san, please, he needs help." Takeru whispered.

Hino heard the engine of the ambulance starting. She reached out as if she could touch him, but the ambulance sped off with the wailing loud siren following.

" Tsuchiura..." Hino whispered as she slowly sank down onto the wet ground.

Tears fell from her eyes, but in this weather, no one could tell that you were crying.

" Please... nothing must happen to you." Hino whispered, looking down at the floor, her fringe covering her eyes.

Takeru looked at the place, the blood stains were slowly being washed off in the rain. But Hino was soaked to the skin and what disturbed him the most was the bloody handprints on her white skirt that he knew belonged to his best friend.


Hospital

Somehow, Takeru had managed to escort Hino home, but she hardly had the will to stand, let alone walk. Hino's mother looked surprised but tended to Hino immediately without asking a single question. Takeru then went home, changed and called Tsuchiura's parents. Then he managed to get Hitomi and Ryousuke to drive him and Hino down to the hospital. All four of them were standing outside the Emergency Room. Ryousuke was pacing up and down the halls and Hitomi looked really worried. Hino looked like she had just seen a ghost, as for Takeru, he was wishing that he could have been there sooner.

Hours past and nothing has changed. They changed positions a little, Hitomi and Ryousuke hadn't demand an explanation about what had happened. Takeru wasn't sure as well, but it seemed like Tsuchiura got into a fight to protect Hino and he was obviously overpowered.

Takeru noticed that Hino was crying. He too didn't know what to say to her. But he was surprised when Hitomi sat next to Hino and talked softly to her instead. Hino nodded and then wiped her tears away and forced a sad smile.

The red light on top of the ER room was gone and everyone jumped up from their seats. They went over and waited for the doctor to come out. Sure enough the doctor came out with the nurses.

" Who is... Tsuchiura Ryoutarou's family?" The doctor asked.

" We are." Ryousuke told the doctor.

The doctor sighed.

" I have to admit, it's not pretty. Your son suffered from internal bleedings, as well as fatal wounds on his back. He's lucky to not break his ribs." The doctor told them.

" Is he okay?" Hitomi asked.

" He's out of critical danger for now."

Everyone heaved a sigh of relief.

" However... I have some bad news for you." The doctor told them, sounding grim.

" What is it?" Ryousuke asked.

" His hands were beaten so badly that their nerves were damaged. Not broken, just damaged." The doctor stressed.

" What does that mean?" Ryousuke asked.

" It means that... he cannot move both of his hands."

The look on everyone's face was astonishment.

" It's only temporary, he will be able to move them when he heals or maybe after some physical therapy." The doctor told them.

" How long is temporary?" Hino whispered.

" It could be a week, a month, a year, five years or in worst cases, never." The doctor told them sadly.

Hitomi cried first, covering her mouth with her hand as if shocked to hear that. Ryousuke comforted Hitomi.

" He plays the piano, the piano is very important to him. Isn't there a way to save him?" Hino asked.

" I'm sorry, but in situations like this, you should be glad that he didn't break his hands. He might be able to move his hands again, but it would never be the same again as before. As for playing the piano, it's going to be far too difficult for him. I'm sorry but he might never be able to play the piano again." The doctor told them.

Hitomi cried harder while Hino just stood there and stared blankly ahead.

" Can we see him?" Takeru managed to find his voice.

" He's being transferred to a room, you can see him after that. However I have to stress that he's going to be very surprised to find that he cannot move his hands, so please try not to agitate him." The doctor told them before leaving.

The atmosphere grew heavy. Hino sank down on a seat and buried her face in her hands. Takeru was very upset to hear those news as well, but how were they going to tell Tsuchiura that he might never be able to play the piano again? Hitomi and Ryousuke left to see their son, while Takeru stayed with Hino. He saw her shaking, and he knew that she was crying.

" It's all my fault... He... got into the fight to protect me... This is all my fault." Hino whispered.

" He would rather die than let you get hurt, Hino-san." Takeru whispered.

Hino continued shaking as she cried.


Tsuchiura woke up to find himself staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling. Where was he? His head hurts so was his back and he felt heavy. He tried to move his hand to touch his own forehead, but something was amiss the second he raised his hand towards his head. His... hand... He could see that his hands were bandaged, but there was something really wrong. He didn't know what it was but, something felt amiss and he had a really bad feeling about it. His hands were out flat. He tried to close his right hand into a fist, nothing happened. Frowning, Tsuchiura tried again. His fingers didn't even move at all, they didn't close themselves into a fist like he was willing them to. Shocked and somehow not wanting to believe it, he looked at his left hand and tried to close it into a fist. Still nothing happened. Bad thoughts were flying through his head.

No... I'm dreaming. Yes, I'm still dreaming. Let's go back to sleep and everything will be better. He tried to convince himself.

Tsuchiura closed his eyes and tried to sleep, but he felt so much pain that it was keeping him awake. Then he thought about Hino. Was she alright? He remembered that Takeru came and helped to chase those men away. He didn't remember a single thing after that. There was knock on the door and his parents came in. Tsuchiura was surprised to see them, weren't they still at work?

" Mum, dad?" Tsuchiura asked.

Hitomi came over and Tsuchiura noticed how red her eyes were. Hitomi sat down on the chair beside his bed and held his hand. She said nothing but started to squeeze his right hand. Tsuchiura just stared at her in shock when he realised that he didn't feel it. He couldn't feel her squeezing his hand. What's going on? This is a dream right?

" Ryou-chan." Hitomi whispered, looking away as she looked as if she was about to burst into tears.

Tsuchiura looked at his father, Ryousuke looked motionless. It was something bad, Tsuchiura could feel it.

" What did the doctor say?" Tsuchiura asked softly.

" Ryou-chan." Hitomi whispered.

" Tell me what the doctor said... please." Tsuchiura whispered.

" You suffered from internal bleedings as well as some wounds on your back." Ryousuke told him calmly.

He stopped, but Tsuchiura knew that they were still keeping something from him.

" And?" Tsuchiura asked.

" Ryou-chan, why don't you get some rest? The operation was long and..." Hitomi tried to cut in, but Tsuchiura interrupted her.

" Tell me, please." Tsuchiura whispered.

He looked at his mother then to his father. His father who was forever so calm suddenly slammed his fist down on the table.

" Damn it! The doctor said that you have damaged the nerves in your hands. Because of that you are unable to move both of your hands." Ryousuke told him.

" But it's only temporary." Hitomi cut in forcing him a smile.

" And?" Tsuchiura asked pressing on, knowing that there was still something else.

" You might be able to move them in a month's time, a year's time, in 5 years time... or you might never be able to move them again." Ryousuke burst out.

That was shocking news, to know that you might not be able to move your hands again. But to a pianist... Their hands are everything to them.

" The piano... When I heal... Can I play again?" Tsuchiura asked.

" Ryou, don't tell him anymore." Hitomi pleaded with Ryousuke.

" I can't, he deserves to know the truth." Ryousuke told Hitomi.

Hitomi looked disappointed to hear that, she shook her head.

" What truth?" Tsuchiura asked.

" Even if you heal, your hands would never be the same again. The doctor says that playing the piano would to be too difficult for you. You... might never be able to play the piano again." Ryousuke told him.

When Tsuchiura heard this, he felt as if he was flying on a plane and someone just pushed him out of it. And he had just fallen to his death. His world was crashing down. He could no longer play the piano again...

" He's kidding right?" Tsuchiura asked.

His parents were silent.

" Tell me that he was joking. Tell that all of this isn't real." Tsuchiura told them.

" I'm sorry Ryou-chan... But it's the truth." Hitomi whispered, looking down as she started to cry.

Tsuchiura started shaking his head. No, it's not the truth. It can't be! He had made a deal that if he could win first place in the competition, he would be able to stay in Japan. He even promised to bring back a golden trophy for his parents. But now those dreams and promises seem so far away now. He couldn't even play the piano! How can he compete in the competition? How can he even win? All these years of... playing the piano...

Tsuchiura just stared ahead looking blankly.

" We can find the best doctor and get them to treat your hands." Hitomi told him.

" Money won't be an issue." Ryousuke told him.

All that Tsuchiura could think of was the fact that he could no longer play the piano.

" Leave." He told them.

" Ryou-chan." Hitomi whispered.

" Please, just go." Tsuchiura told them, he wanted to be left alone for a while.

Ryousuke pat Hitomi on her shoulder and they left the room, though Tsuchiura could tell that they were very reluctant to do so. After the door closed after them, Tsuchiura raised his hands up to see them. He could no longer move them... He could no longer play the piano again... Tears fell from his eyes as the horrible and painful truth sinks in. He loves the piano, so much that words couldn't describe it. He enjoyed playing the piano and he even had plans on making it big in the future with music. But all those dreams were now crushed... with the truth that he cannot move his hands and he might never be able to move them again.

Tsuchiura looked down, he wanted to clench his hands into fists, but they didn't move. He raised his elbow joint and knocked his open right hand down on the table in sadness and anger.

" Damn it, feel! Move! Why won't you move?" Tsuchiura shouted out at his hand.

He didn't even feel the pain as he noticed that blood had flowed from the reopened wound on his hand. He couldn't move them, he couldn't even feel pain. He couldn't feel anything with them. He was hopeless, nothing in the world mattered to him anymore. It seemed pointless and useless to continue living with hands that cannot move or feel anything.

" Why does this have to happen to me?" Tsuchiura whispered.

Tears fell onto his hand, but he could probably never feel them. But he didn't want to give up, his dreams... playing the piano. He don't want to give them up, he still wanted to continue playing music. What else could he do if he gives up music and playing the piano? The two things that were part of his existence and now he has to give them up. What would happen to him then? What could he do to live by? Soccer? Running? Everything just seemed so farfetched, impossible and hopeless.

Tsuchiura looked up at the ceilings as tears continued to flow from his eyes. He hadn't cried for so long that he no longer seems to remember what it was like to cry. He had always felt that men shouldn't cry as it was a sign of weakness and it was meant for the females. But now... he didn't care anymore.


Hino's hand froze above the handle of the door to Tsuchiura's room. Her eyes were still a little red from crying. But the reason why she was still hesitating outside was because she didn't know what to say to him, what to tell him, how to comfort him. She felt pain and sadness as she blamed herself for what have happened.

Tsuchiura-kun wouldn't have become like this if he hadn't tried to protect me. All of this is my fault. He would probably hate me for life. Hino thought to herself.

The other reason she was hesitating to go in was that because she was afraid that Tsuchiura would be mad at her. Hino clenched her hand into a fist then she took in a deep breath and knocked on the door.

" Tsuchiura-kun? Can I come in?" She asked knocking on the door.

There was no answer. Hino knocked again, but there was no answer. She pressed the handle down to go in.

" Go away." She heard him say.

" Tsuchiura-kun." Hino whispered, feeling the sadness in her heart.

" Just go."

Hino really wanted to go in and see if he's alright.

" I..."

She wanted to thank him for saving her and wanted to apologise that because of her... He could no longer move his hands again.

" Tsuchiura-kun... I..." Hino started to speak to the door.

" GO!" She heard him shout from the other side of the room.

" I..."

" DAMN IT! JUST GO!!!" She heard him shout.

Tears filled her eyes as she heard him shout at her. He was mad at her, it only made her feel more guilty and upset. Hino turned and ran off in the other direction. She looked down so that people couldn't tell that she was crying. The sadness in her heart pained her.


The next day,

Hospital

Takeru and Tsuchiura had their statements recorded and Tsuchiura told his parents about what happened. After that, Hitomi got the day off to look after Tsuchiura while everyone left. Tsuchiura was silent and he seems to be always thinking about something else. They gave him some time alone to think things through.

Hitomi smiled as she pulled opened the curtains and sunlight streamed into the room.

" Let's not let the sunlight go to waste." Hitomi told her son, smiling at him.

Tsuchiura didn't respond, he just continued to stare ahead with a blank look. As Tsuchiura couldn't move his hands, there were a lot of things he couldn't do. That includes eating, drinking and going to toilet. Tsuchiura felt pathetic, and couldn't help wishing that he was in a coma or dead instead. At least it would save him from the agony and pain.

" Is there something you want to do?" Hitomi asked Tsuchiura.

Tsuchiura looked down at his now useless hands.

" Stop looking at them, Ryou-chan. It's not going to make matters any better. " Hitomi whispered.

Tsuchiura closed his eyes, unsure of how to continue living like that. He had gotten about a week off school. But Tsuchiura was thinking of quitting school, he couldn't even hold a pen, he couldn't write a single thing. To Tsuchiura, life just seemed to have ended for him.

" Takeru would be visiting after school. He mentioned that Hino-chan would be here too." Hitomi told him.

Tsuchiura looked at his mother sharply.

" Is there something you want to tell me, Ryou-chan?" Hitomi asked him softly.

Tsuchiura looked down sadly.

" I like Hino." Tsuchiura told his mother frankly.

" That would explain why you protected her. Is she why you didn't want to move to Singapore?" Hitomi asked him.

" Partly... I never had the courage to tell her how I felt about her." Tsuchiura told her softly.

" Why?"

" I was afraid that it might affect our friendship. Plus she never saw me as anything more than a friend and... She already has someone she likes." Tsuchiura told her softly.

" What about now?" Hitomi whispered.

Tsuchiura didn't answer her, for all he knew... He felt as if the chances of ending up with Hino are getting smaller. Who would want to be with someone who might be handicapped for life? Tsuchiura felt as if he was already a burden to his family, he wouldn't want to be a burden to Hino.

" It doesn't matter anymore." Tsuchiura told his mother.

Hitomi didn't press for more information as if she understood how he was feeling right now.

" Your father is looking for ways to cure your hands." Hitomi told him.

Tsuchiura forced a smile, what are the chances? Hitomi came over and gave his arm a squeeze, knowing that he couldn't feel anything in his hands.

" You will get better, Ryou-chan. But before that, you cannot give up on yourself. Don't lose hope." Hitomi whispered.

Tsuchiura reached up and placed his motionless hand over his mother's hand. Tears fell from her eyes but she smiled at him sadly.


Hino stopped walking for a while. Takeru noticed and went back to where she was standing.

" What's wrong?" Takeru asked.

" Maybe I shouldn't go... He didn't want to see me yesterday." Hino whispered.

" He shouted at me too." Takeru admitted.

Hino looked at Takeru in shock.

" I don't blame him, he just found out that he might not be able to move his hands again." Takeru told her softly.

They continued walking to the hospital.

" I told you before that I didn't know that Ryou played the piano. He must have been playing it secretly. That's probably why his hands aren't as delicate as a pianist's. But to a pianist, their hands are the most important thing in the world. As it's the only thing that allows them to play the piano. To know that you might never be able to play the piano that you love again, no normal person would be able to take it well." Takeru told Hino.

Guilt filled Hino, she still didn't know how to face Tsuchiura. She had spent last night crying her heart out in her house. She hardly slept and was feeling really tired. But she was worried about Tsuchiura.

" I believe that what Ryou needs now is his family and friends. He needs someone to encourage him and support him so that he can get through this tough time." Takeru told her.

They went into the hospital and went to Tsuchiura's room. They knocked on the door before going in, but the room was empty. Takeru frowned and checked the toilet but Hino couldn't help feeling that the worst might have happened.

" He... wouldn't have..."

" Don't say it, Ryou's not that kind of guy." Takeru cut in.

" Where could he be?" Hino asked, looking worried.

A nurse walked past and they asked her if she saw Tsuchiura. The nurse told them that he left a while ago. They ran in the direction the nurse pointed out. Then they split up to try to look for Tsuchiura.

Please Tsuchiura, please be alright. Hino thought to herself as she ran up and down the halls to try and look for Tsuchiura.

She stopped to ask a few people, but none of them seem to see him. Hino walked past a children's playroom and froze when she saw a familiar flash of green. She looked back to see Tsuchiura standing there by the window. What was he doing here? She stood next to him and when he didn't seem to notice that she was here, she peeked into the room to see what he was looking at. The children inside were all playing happily. Some were running around, some were on the slides and playing with toys. Hino noticed that Tsuchiura's eyes were glued to the other section of the room were some musical instruments toys were. And there was a tiny piano meant for kids. A girl was playing on the small piano, pressing a few piano keys as if out of curiosity.

" Tsuchiura-kun." Hino whispered, knowing that he must be feeling upset to see a piano.

He must be reminded of the fact that he could never be able to play a piano again. Hino seems to feel what he was feeling. Tsuchiura looked down and raised his hand up. He stared at his hand for a moment before pushing it to rest on the glass window. His hand was flat open, but somehow Hino had a feeling that he had wanted to clench them into a fist.

Hino felt upset and worried about him. Tears welled up in her eyes to see him this upset. Tsuchiura looked down a little so that his fringe covered his eyes. And what shocked Hino the most was that he cried. Hino watched as tears fell from his shadowed eyes. She wanted to hug him and comfort him like he had comforted her then. She slowly reached out to touch him, but hesitated as her hand floated in midair for a while. But then determined to comfort him, she finally reached out and closed her hand around his arm. She gave him a tight squeeze, but he didn't seem to notice it as he continued to look down. Unable to contain the tears that were welling up in her eyes, Hino cried too with Tsuchiura. She felt that he was trembling as he cried. Hino then hugged him from behind and rested her cheek against his back. She felt that it was the only thing she could do to comfort him.

" Tsuchiura-kun." Hino whispered as she cried with him.


Takeru was walking when he saw Tsuchiura and Hino standing outside the children's room. But what was shocking was that Hino was hugging him. And both of them seem to be crying. People who walked by shot them the "shameless" look. Takeru smiled a little to know that these two people were progressing on their own, but he had no choice but to break them. It's wouldn't be good if children started seeing the two of them like that. Takeru walked over and cleared his throat loudly.

Hino stepped back in shock and when she saw that it was Takeru, she blushed and turned away as she wiped her tears away.

" Ryou! I was looking everywhere for you!" Takeru exclaimed, smiling to try to brighten the mood a little.

When Tsuchiura didn't move, Takeru frowned and kind of wrapped his arm around Tsuchiura's neck in an attempt to strangle him.

" Hey, hey, give me some response here!" Takeru joked.

" Fuyuki-kun, you will hurt him!" Hino exclaimed.

" Let go." Tsuchiura told him firmly.

Takeru released him and watched as Tsuchiura straighten himself and turned to look at the two of them.

" We came here right after we finished school." Takeru told him.

Takeru noticed that Tsuchiura looked rather lost. His eyes were empty and he didn't even seem to hear them. Tsuchiura turned to walk away.

" Ryou?" Takeru asked, sounding concerned.

" Just leave me alone for a while." Tsuchiura told them and disappeared down the halls.

Hino watched as he walked off, her heart felt as if it was pierced by an arrow. Hino looked at Takeru to see that he looked a little pissed.

" How long does he want to continue to drown in his own sorrow?" Takeru asked as if mad at Tsuchiura.

Hino said nothing as there was nothing she felt that she could do to help Tsuchiura. But most importantly, she still felt guilt. She watched as the girl who was playing the tiny piano move away to play with another toy. Takeru noticed what she was looking at.

" He was looking at the piano?" Takeru asked.

Hino nodded. Takeru sighed and suggested that they get a drink from the vending machines.


It was already night time and Tsuchiura was still sitting on the bench by the fountain. He looked up at the starless sky and wondered if everything would get better. His body doesn't hurt that much as he had taken a few painkillers. But what worried him the most was still his hands. He thought about Hino. What does she think of him now? And the most embarrassing thing was that she saw him cry. But she comforted him. Did that mean something? No, Tsuchiura shook his head.

She probably only comforted me out of pity and guilt. Tsuchiura told himself.

That's when he felt something icy against his face. He turned sharply and saw that it was Takeru.

" What are you still doing here?" Takeru asked him, holding out a canned drink to him.

Tsuchiura was immediately saddened by the fact that he couldn't hold it.

" Oh, I forgot about that. Well it's not for you." Takeru told him.

Tsuchiura watched as Takeru opened it and sat down beside him on the bench to drink it.

" Where's...?"

" Hino-san? She went home." Takeru told him.

" So, what do you plan to do now?" Takeru asked him after some time.

Tsuchiura didn't say anything. With his hands like this, the deal would be off. To think that he was forced to give up before he even tried/started. Tsuchiura looked up at the starless sky.

" I'm moving, Takeru."

Takeru choked on his drink and he looked really shocked to hear that coming from him.

" But... the competition, the deal?"

" How can I take part when I cannot even hold a canned drink?" Tsuchiura asked him.

Takeru looked away sadly. Tsuchiura sighed.

" I already made up my mind. Since I cannot even play the piano anymore, I might as well just admit that it's my fate and move to Singapore early. That way we can adapt to the country earlier." Tsuchiura told him.

" You are giving up, Ryou?" Takeru asked.

Tsuchiura nodded, what else could he do? His hands cannot even move anymore.

" What if you get better? What about Hino-san?" Takeru asked him.

" Even the doctor said that the chances of me getting better aren't high. As for Hino... It's better this way." Tsuchiura told him softly.

" If you aren't injured, I will really punch the daylights out of you!" Takeru told him.

Tsuchiura looked at Takeru.

" Do you know how upset and worried she was when you were in the emergency room? She cried for you!" Takeru told him.

" She didn't cry for me, Takeru. She cried out of guilt, because she blames herself for what happened to me." Tsuchiura told him.

Takeru looked like he was going to curse and swear at him, but he held his tongue.

" You don't believe that there's a possibility that she likes you?" Takeru asked him.

" No, I don't believe it. She had never seen me as anything more than a friend, that part had been clear." Tsuchiura told him.

" Ryou..."

" I was just the invisible guardian angel." Tsuchiura whispered.

Then he looked down at his useless hands.

" Who has now officially retired." Tsuchiura whispered.

His heart felt depressed and he felt the familiar feeling he felt when he cried. But he tried to contain the feeling, he didn't want to cry anymore.

" What if she does?" Takeru asked.

" Nothing will come out of it." Tsuchiura told him.

" Why not?"

" Damn it, Takeru! No normal person will want to be with someone who's handicapped. I cannot even hold a single thing... I cannot hold her hand, I cannot even eat anything on my own, I can no longer write... There are so many things that I can no longer do. I will only become a burden for her." Tsuchiura told Takeru.

Takeru was silent, Tsuchiura got up to go back to his room.

" They always say that we only realise how important and precious things are to us only after we have lost them. It's true." Tsuchiura told Takeru before walking away.

Takeru looked down at his own hands.

Tsuchiura's right, as humans sometimes we take our own hands for granted. And when we lose them, then we will realise how important they are in our life. Takeru thought to himself.

However, now he has to think of a way to make Tsuchiura pull himself together and try to stop him from moving to Singapore. He knows that his best friend is upset, but that doesn't mean he have to give up. There has to be a way that can save him. Takeru looked up at the sky and sighed.


Night time, Hino's house

Hino was sitting on her bed and looking down at where her violin was. She closed her eyes as she thought about Tsuchiura. Maybe if she devoted her time to helping him until he gets better? Hino still couldn't believe that Tsuchiura might never be able to play the piano again. The piano that he loves so much... He was such a good pianist. And because of her... Hino wondered if she should quit the violin as well. She wasn't doing well anyway...

" Kahoko, someone's here to see you." Her mother shouted out.

Curious to know who it was, Hino went down the stairs. She saw that it was Takeru.

" Fuyuki-kun? What are you doing here? How did you know where I live?" Hino asked.

" Let's just say that I have my way of finding out things. Anyway... I have bad news for you." Takeru told her.

" Bad news? Has something happened to Tsuchiura-kun?" Hino asked almost immediately.

Takeru nodded and looked down sadly.

" He's leaving Japan."

" What, why?" Hino asked.

" As he cannot play the piano anymore... He wouldn't be able to play in the competition, hence he will still be moving to Singapore. Looks like Ryou has really given up hope." Takeru told her.

" When will he leave?" Hino asked.

" I'm not sure... I believe that his parents are making the necessary arrangements." Takeru told her.

Hino looked away for a while, to think that Tsuchiura was really leaving.

" Do you want him to leave, Hino?" Takeru asked.

Hino shook her head.

" But there isn't much that we can do, can we?" Hino asked.

" Hmm... I have a plan, but I need your help." Takeru told her.


2 days later,

Hospital

" I guess that's all." Hitomi told Tsuchiura as she zipped up the bag.

Tsuchiura's moving out of the hospital. He knew that going home and surviving on his own was tough but it was better than staying here. He told his parents about moving to Singapore early. His father said that he will make the arrangements. As for when he's actually leaving Japan is a question he cannot answer.

Tsuchiura looked down at his hands, they were still bandaged. Tsuchiura had an x-ray taken, none of his bones were broken. The nerves were the only ones damaged. Tsuchiura had thought about his own actions. Was it worth it to save Hino and lose his own hands instead? He only knew that if he didn't save her, he will regret it for life and Hino probably won't be the same person again. He finally understood what his father meant, when someone was in love, he will do everything he can to protect the one he loves, even if he loses his life.

Aware that he was leaving Japan, Tsuchiura felt that there was two things the he still haven't do yet. And knew that if he left now... he will still have regrets for not doing them. One was the competition, which was impossible for him to go now, in his current state. The second was to tell Hino how he felt about her. Then again... it would have been better if he just disappeared from her life.

He followed his mother out of the room and they continued towards the exit of the hospital. The paper works were done as well. They went to the car park and his father drove them home. Tsuchiura looked out of the window and wondered if he will ever miss this place.

" Ryoutarou." His father called him.

" Yes?" Tsuchiura asked, looking at his father.

" I did some research and found out that there's a way to treat your hands." Ryousuke told him.

" There is?" Hitomi asked looking hopeful.

" This is, they are going to operate on your hands. It's a complicated process but the main idea is that they are going to see how damaged your nerves are and then somehow sew them back. Then they will allow the nerves to grove back on it's own. It's not 100% guaranteed that it will work, it depends on how damaged your nerves are. But it's worth a shot, so what do you say?" Ryousuke asked.

Tsuchiura wondered if he should try.

" Is it risky?" Tsuchiura asked.

" Well, worst come to worst... you might never move your hands again. And all operations have their risks..." Ryousuke told them.

" How much would it cost?" Tsuchiura asked.

" Money is not an issue, dear." Hitomi told him.

" But..."

" Son, we want you to get better and we all know how important your hands are to you. You might not be able to play the piano again, but at least, I want you to be able to move them." Ryousuke told him.

" Dad..." Tsuchiura whispered.

" Well I happen to know a great surgeon who specialise in this type of operations. I called him last night and pulled a few strings. I managed to get you an operation, but it's a 3 days from now." Ryousuke told him.

" 3 days? That's really soon!" Hitomi exclaimed.

" But, we have to fly to Tokyo for the operation." Ryousuke told Tsuchiura.

One week from now, he's going to go to Tokyo and get an operation to reconnect the nerves of his hands so that he could move them again? But 3 days was really short, how did his father manage it?

" How did you manage to get an operation so soon?" Tsuchiura asked his father.

His father just grinned.

" Let's say he's a distant cousin of mine. So, are you up for it?" Ryousuke asked.

" We weren't force you if you do not want to go for the operation." Hitomi told him.

" I say that we try." Tsuchiura told them.

" That's my boy!" Ryousuke exclaimed happily.

Tsuchiura couldn't believe that things are starting to get better. He might be able to move his hands again... For the first time since he found out that he couldn't move his hands, he finally smiled.


Afternoon,

" Are you sure you want to go out on your own?" Hitomi asked.

" Yeah." Tsuchiura told her.

" But..."

" I will be alright, plus... Takeru's going to be there." Tsuchiura told her.

" Alright, but be careful." Hitomi whispered.

Hitomi helped him into his shoes and opened the door for him. Tsuchiura ran off to go to the park to meet Takeru. He wanted to meet his friend and tell him the good news. When he got there, there was no one there. Sadly, he couldn't call him friend, so he decided to wait for him instead.

But Takeru never showed up, instead Hino did.

" Hino?" Tsuchiura asked, when she approached him.

She looked sad and somehow the sight of her upsets him as well.

" What are you doing here?" Tsuchiura asked.

" The school ended and... Fuyuki-kun asked me to meet him here." Hino told him.

Tsuchiura discovered that he had been tricked, Takeru had planned for him to meet Hino. Tsuchiura stood up and turned to walk back to his house.

" Tsuchiura-kun, where are you going?" Hino called out.

" Home."

Hino ran up to catch up with him.

" Are... are you feeling better?" Hino asked him softly after walking by his side for some time.

" No." Tsuchiura told her.

" I... I'm sorry for what happened. It was all because of me that... you cannot move your hands again." Hino whispered.

Tsuchiura stopped walking, so did Hino, as she turned to look at him.

" I don't blame you, so you shouldn't blame yourself too." Tsuchiura told her softly.

Hino still look sad.

" I would rather die than to let those guys touch you, Hino." He told her softly.

Hino's eyes widened in shock to hear him say that. Could it be that Tsuchiura likes her? Hino looked down and blushed really badly. She didn't know why, but her heart was racing so fast... and she felt like he just confessed or something. Tsuchiura cleared his throat and looked away.

" I mean... er... At least you are safe... No... I mean..." Tsuchiura seems to be at a loss for words.

Hino couldn't take it anymore and then she laughed. Tsuchiura was surprised at her response. Hino had never seen him look so confused and flustered. Tsuchiura blushed slightly and looked away as he was embarrassed.

" Thank you for protecting me." Hino told him and smiled.

Tsuchiura continued walking while Hino followed beside him.

" Takeru told me that you are leaving Japan." Hino told him.

" Yeah..."

Tsuchiura hadn't told Takeru about the operation, so Hino must be thinking that he's leaving for Singapore and not coming back.

" When will you be leaving?" Hino asked.

" 3 days from now." Tsuchiura told her.

" 3 days? That's really soon!" Hino exclaimed.

Tsuchiura said nothing, noticing how she was walking beside him. A part of him wanted to reach out and hold her hand. That same part of him wanted to tell her how he felt about her, after all it might be that last chance he has.

" Hino..."

" Yes?" She asked. They stopped and turned to look at each other.

Their eyes met and somehow Tsuchiura has a feeling that Hino is waiting for him to say something.

" Take care of yourself when I'm gone okay? You will have one person lesser to look after you." Tsuchiura told her.

" I can... take care of myself. But thank you for your concern."

" And... about that Tsukimori..." Tsuchiura told her.

" What about him?" Hino asked.

" If you like him, you should tell him. He's an idiot and really thick in the head, so you have to tell him how you feel about him." Tsuchiura told her.

Hino looked surprised to hear that.

" But I..."

" Lastly... study harder to get into college." Tsuchiura told her, cutting in.

" Why are you saying all these things? It's not like you aren't coming back." Hino told him.

" I probably won't, for some time." Tsuchiura admitted, knowing that if the operation had failed, he will move to Singapore straight away.

None of them spoke for a while, then Hino reached out and took his right hand. She closed her hand around his and gave him a squeeze, but Tsuchiura couldn't feel it, nor could he move his hand to close around hers.

" What if I don't want you to leave?" Hino asked softly, looking into his eyes.

The reason wasn't strong enough, as to Hino, he was just a good friend of hers. Tsuchiura shook his head.

" Things are already decided, it cannot be changed." Tsuchiura told her.

" What if I..."

" I guess nothing you say at this point in time will be a strong reason for me to stay. Goodbye, Hino."

Tsuchiura walked off, as Hino wasn't holding his hand tightly, his hand slipped out of her grasp and then he walked away from her. Hino didn't move to chase after him, for she felt like her heart has just broken into many pieces. It was a horrible feeling, the same feeling she felt when Yamato rejected her. Then it hit her... She does like Tsuchiura. That was the reason why her heart was in so much pain and why she was crying as she stood there watching him go. She only has 3 days left before he's really gone...


The next day,

School

Hino was sitting at her desk and resting her head on the table. She was really tired, she hadn't been able to sleep last night. All she was doing was crying and thinking about Tsuchiura. To think that she's already crying for him when they aren't even together. Kuromi and Yumiko came in and greeted her, but Hino turned away, afraid that her friends will know that she was up all night crying.

" Hino, are you alright?" Yumiko asked, coming over.

" I'm fine, just... tired." Hino lied.

" Is something wrong?" Kuromi asked.

Hino shook her head, but did not look at her friends.

" You want to talk about what's troubling you?" Yumiko asked.

Hino shook her head again. How was she supposed to tell them what have happened? Then they heard a few girls in her class gossiping.

" Did you hear, Tsuchiura-kun's taking a 3 month break from school."

" What? That means I wouldn't be able to see him for 3 months!"

" There were rumours going on about the fact that he might be quitting school. Some say that he's migrating to another country with his family."

Hino was depressed to hear these things, because they were true.

" Is that true, Kaho-chan?" Yumiko asked.

Hino merely nodded, he was leaving.

" Is that why you look so upset?" Kuromi asked.

Hino didn't answer. Her two friends exchanged worried looks. The teacher came in and class started. But Hino was day dreaming throughout the entire day. She didn't remember what the teacher talked about. Her friends caught up with her after school ended. They dragged her to a cafe and they got a spot at the far end where it's more private. There her friends asked her on how she was doing and all. The more they pressed, to more Hino felt like crying. She was trying so hard to act like everything's alright but everyone seems to be able to tell that she's not. She finally gave up and started crying. Her friends comforted her, then she told them about what have happened.

Her friends were surprised to hear about what happened to Tsuchiura. Hino admitted that she likes him, but he seems to think that she likes Tsukimori and that... he's leaving in 3 days time.

" Kahoko, you have to tell him how you feel about him!" Kuromi told her.

" But... I..."

Hino was afraid of telling them that she was afraid of rejection. The thing with Yamato was already depressing enough, and now... She feared that Tsuchiura would reject her.

" He won't reject you." Kuromi told her.

" How do you know?" Hino asked softly.

" Well... I... never mind, that doesn't matter. If he's really going away for good, all the more you should tell him. Kahoko, you don't want to live with regrets do you?" Kuromi asked.

" Kuromi's right. You might not be able to see him again, hence it's the last chance for you to confess your feelings for him." Yumiko told her.

Hino clenched her hands into fists, but she was really afraid. The fear of rejection was bigger than the fear of never seeing him again.

" Kaho-chan, all of us are given the chance to find our own happiness. We can be happy and we can be with the person we love. But when these chances come knocking on our doors, we always come up with excuses to not take them. Kahoko, don't let this opportunity slip out of your fingers. Tsuchiura-kun is a good person, he will treat you well." Yumiko told her.

" But..."

" Don't think about this logically, just follow what your heart says!" Kuromi told her.

Hino thought about it. But would she survive a heart break the second time?

" It's better to know that at least you have tried your best and the two of you really couldn't be together. Kaho-chan, you don't want to be the one who looks back at these 5 years from now and ask yourself why didn't you tell him how you felt about him then, right?" Yumiko asked.

" I... need to think this through." Hino told them, standing up.

" Kaho-chan..." Yumiko whispered.

They watched as Hino left the cafe. Kuromi sighed.

" Can't she tell that he likes her too?" Kuromi asked.

" I guess all that's left is for Kahoko to find the courage to bring herself to confess to Tsuchiura, and to overcome the fear of rejection that is holding her back." Yumiko told her.

" Do you think Tsuchiura will leave even if Kahoko confessed?" Kuromi asked.

Yumiko shrugged.

" I have no idea." Yumiko told her.

Then she sighed.

" I just wish that one of these two idiots will just hurry up and tell the other the truth already." Yumiko told Kuromi.

" I wish so too." Kuromi whispered.


To be continued....

Author's note: The story is going to end soon, so please continue to support it till the end. Sorry that I took so long to update, busy with school life. I also know that I kind of exaggerated on the seriousness of Tsuchiura's injuries. Then again, I thought about it and realised that once we cannot move both of our hands, many simple things cannot be done anymore.

Anyway, I did my research, a medical procedure called the nerve repair actually exists. It mainly sews the nerves together and gives it time to grow again. The process might take some time.

Also, I have no idea which part of Japan they are in, so I just named a place in Japan that Tsuchiura's supposed to go to for the surgery. Lastly, please read and review, thank you for supporting this story. Tsuchiura X Hino forever.

Coming up next chapter, Will Hino confess? Or will she regret it forever? More importantly, how will Tsuchiura react? And the operation! Will it be successful? Find out next chapter in The Summer to Remember.