School is out, summer is in; now let's let this story begin! Oh, I made a rhyme! The poll for my Kirihara story is still up and running! A few more votes and I'll consider writing it out. Anyways, here's the next chapter!
Eiji's POV (One Week Later)
"Okay, that is the end of today's lesson. I hope you all took good notes because there will be a quiz tomorrow."
With that said, the bell rang, signaling the end of the day as it echoes through the halls. Our teacher let out a farewell to the students bustling their way out of the classroom door, making their way to their own personal lives. I, on the other hand, was busy packing up my stuff as quickly as possible. Slinging my backpack onto my shoulder—along with my tennis bag—I quickly dashed my way out the classroom door, running not to the tennis courts, but to the front gates of Seishun Gakuen.
"Hey, Eiji," Oishi waved, making me stop for a second. Fuji was next to him, the same smile he always had plastered on his face, "Where are you going in such a hurry?"
"No time to talk Oishi," I said, my legs still moving in a jogging motion as I stayed still in place, "I have to hurry before they leave. I'll try to make it back for practice, see you later, nya!"
I gave a tiny salute, letting my legs return into motion as I continued running down the hall.
"I wonder where he's off to this time," Oishi sighed, shaking his head as he turned to face his locker once more, "He's been skipping practice a lot lately. Do you think he's in trouble at home?"
"Saa, he would've told us that if he was," I said, a thoughtful hand to my chin, "But Tsuki-chan hasn't been hanging around us a lot lately. Maybe he's disappearing because of her?"
"It's a possibility," Oishi said, gaining his own thoughtful look, "Ever since they started dating, they've been inseparable. Then she stops hanging around so much and he goes along with her."
"I wonder what they could be up to." Oishi looked at me with that worried mother hen look of his; he was probably wondering what my smirk was all about. I chuckled, settling his fears with a pat on the shoulder, "I'm sure they're not doing anything they'll regret."
"I know," he sighed, staring in the direction Eiji had run off in as we started our walk to the tennis courts, "I still get worried though. It's a good thing you told us what really happened between them before they got together. If you hadn't, things would've been awkward."
"We should really be thanking Hiroshima-san," I mused, thinking about my past Health partner, "She was the one who had told me about her friend's trickery."
"Fuji-kun, I have something important to tell you."
I glanced up from the paper I had been writing on, taking a look at my health partner; we were at her house, discussing some questions our teacher had given us for our project reflection. She looked at me shamefully, her eyes seeming apologetic for some unfathomable reason.
"Yes, Hiroshima-san," I said, urging her to continue.
She tugged unconsciously at the hem of her blouse, scrunching the fabric between her fingers, "Tsuki-san didn't betray Eiji-kun."
My eyes widened the slightest, revealing small amounts of azure irises. I urged her to tell me more, my curiosity getting the better of me.
"It was Chieko-chan's fault," she whispered, her eyes tearing up. I guessed it was hard for her to go against her best friend, "She was jealous of Tsuki-san hanging out with Eiji so much; always being with the tennis team, even being on it! She took the picture when Naoki-kun was walking Tsuki-san home the day he picked her up from practice. Everything she had told Eiji and you that day, everything she had said Tsuki said, they were all lies."
She quietly apologized, for both her friend and herself. I sighed, running a hand through my hair, "Saa, thank you for this information Hiroshima-san. It really does help."
"Yes, it was brave of her to tell on her friend like that," Oishi said. "By the way, why didn't you tell Eiji about that little mishap earlier?"
"I thought it'd be best if he heard it from her," I answered, opening the gates to the tennis courts as we were greeted by the rest of the club, "It seems to be working so far."
"Come on mom, can't we stay for a little while longer?"
"I'm sorry Tsuki, but we just can't," my mom said sternly, passing by me as she went to go place another box into the moving van we had called.
I growled, watching as the movers, my mom, and dad all worked together to place boxes into the oversized van outside. A sad sigh escaped my lips as I glanced at the clock on the coffee table before they took it away; it would be at least fifteen minutes before school ended. He would never make it on time.
I took a photo out of my pocket, staring at the people in the picture.
"Mom, can I have a piece of paper?"
My mother sighed, running a hand through her tangled hair. Handing me a small piece of paper, she told me to try and find a pen on my own while she continued to pick up boxes. I foraged around a few opened boxes, looking for a pen. When I found one, I sat in a secluded spot in what used to be our living room, pen in hand as I started writing.
I was running, my breath puffing out in short gasps; I barely noticed the puffs of frozen moisture escaping into the atmosphere as I ran as fast I could. A silver car passed by me and I panicked, wondering if it was her car, but even if it was I wouldn't stop running, not until I made it to her house.
As I ran, I thought about this past week and all the fun Tsuki and I had made up from the time we were apart. She hadn't been able to join back up with the tennis team, but she still hung around much like Sakuno-chan and Tomoka-chan always did; she had even gotten to know those girls a bit more. There was one day—I think it was on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday—that Tsuki had convinced me to skip practice again and I soon found out why as we walked through the park that day.
Hands intertwined with Tsuki's, I hummed happily as we walked through the park, enjoying our cups of hot cocoa. I glanced over at her, watching as a thin blush spread across her cheeks from the cold winter weather. It hadn't even started snowing yet, but it was freezing still.
"Tsuki, let's go sit down on that bench, nya," I said, tugging on her jacket's sleeve.
We made our way to the two person bench, sitting down as we snuggled close, sipping slowly at the hot chocolaty liquid in our cups. We both sighed in contentment, staring out as other couples walked through the frosty park. I looked down to Tsuki, watching as she stared back at me, surprising me with a quick peck on my lips.
As she pulled away, I smirked, "Can I have another one?"
"Very funny Eiji," she pouted, tapping me on the head with her hand when I told her I liked how she tasted like chocolate. "Thanks for skipping practice today, Eiji. I really do appreciate it."
I grinned, nodding as I took another sip of hot cocoa, this time from Tsuki's cup. She tapped me lightly over my head again, taking revenge by taking a sip from the cup held in my hands. We laughed together, watching as the moisture from our breath made puffs of white escape into the atmosphere. Silence consumed us as our laughter finally settled down, the calm air around us seeming soothing.
"Eiji, there's a reason I asked you to come here with me today. I've got something important to tell you," she said, looking away from me. I poked her side, asking her what was wrong. "I…I'm moving in a couple of days. That's why I haven't been able to hang around that much."
I frowned, knowing full well that she wasn't kidding around. Asking her when she would be leaving, I was surprised to hear the answer. We would only have a couple more days to hang out with each other before she had to go.
A warm hand to my bandaged cheek caught my attention. Looking down at Tsuki, I saw her worried face. "Don't worry Tsuki," I reassured her, "We can always talk over the phone and through email. Besides, the city side of Tokyo isn't that far! In the meanwhile, I can come over and help you pack, nya."
Her frown quickly turned into a relieved smile, "Yeah Eiji, you're right."
Ever since then I had been skipping half of practice to help Tsuki pack up for her move; it hadn't really occurred to me what punishment I would go through once I did get back to a normal tennis schedule. And that was why I was running. Today was the day she would be leaving for the big city. She hadn't bothered showing up for school today—last minute packing—but I knew she hadn't left yet. She had told me herself that she wouldn't be leaving until at least four in the afternoon. Glancing at my watch, I panicked once more as I urged my feet to move faster, noticing that it was only five minutes until four.
"There it is!" I yelled out, not caring who heard me as I saw the familiar red roof I had been going to for most of the week. I took almost no notice to the vacant spot where a silver car once occupied, "Tsuki, I'm here!"
I walked up to the front door, knocking a couple times before stepping back to wait for an answer. Staring upwards towards the window, I noticed how dark it seemed to be in the rooms above. I strained my ears, trying desperately to listen for the soft sound of footsteps walking through the hall. When a minute or two had passed I called out again, this time louder, only to be greeted with more silence. Turning away from the wooden door, I heaved a heavy sigh, trying my best to hide my watering eyes. I was too late.
Taking a single step forward, I was about to walk back to school for practice when a small piece of fluttering paper caught my attention. I looked to the floor near the doorway, watching as a small piece of paper fluttered helplessly underneath the doormat. It took me a couple of seconds to realize it was a letter. Stooping down, I lifted the doormat and grabbed onto the letter, making sure it didn't fly away in the winter breeze. As I stood, I started reading.
I don't really have much time since I'm writing this right before we pack up the last of our things. Eiji, I just want to say I'm sorry we couldn't have hung out as much as I wanted. Thanks for an amazing experience at Seigaku, even if we had our rocky moments. Don't think of this as a "goodbye", but an "I'll see you later" so keep in touch, okay? It's like you said: the city isn't that far away.
A small flake of white fell onto the paper in my hands, making my attention shift towards the sky. Snow had slowly started to fall from the gray clouds above, dancing in the wind. I stared back down towards the letter, watching as small snowflakes landed on it, melting slowly. Staring closer, I could see a few more words on the opposite side of the letter as the snow soaked through the paper. Turning the letter over in my hand, I was met with a single photograph. It was the one Tsuki and I had taken together during the health project; the one with our eggs in it. Flipping the photo over, I stared at the words written on the back, reading the single sentence over and over again in my head.
I'll miss you.
"I'll miss you too, nya."
Stay tuned for the sequel, Rematch in the Game of Love!