A/N: I was finally able to find and watch all the episodes, yay! I wish I could say the same for the manga, but that's a different story.
Dream Cager: Thanks for the info about Hihara's brother! The fan sub I was watching used "brothers" so I just went with that. As for Hino not mentioning Fuyuumi and Shimizu, I left them out because when I started writing she had little interaction with them that I could see. Now of course I've gotten far enough to know better )
As for the "always someone better/worse than you" quote, I think it really is a matter of opinion. My violin teacher used to say it and its stuck with me ever since.
Thanks for the reviews! They really keep me motivated!
Kahoko hurried down the stairs that led to the roof, her violin case clutched tightly to her chest. She knew without a doubt that her cheeks were stained red with her embarrassment. She half expected the door to burst open and Kazuki to follow her as she darted around students in the hallway on her way to the practice rooms. To both her relief and dismay, he didn't.What she had come to regard as her practice room was thankfully empty. Slipping inside, she placed her bag and case down and sighed.
'What was that? Why is my heart beating so fast?' Unconsciously her fingers found their way to her lips. He had almost kissed her, hadn't he? She found herself wondering what it would feel like, kissing Kazuki. Her first kiss.
"Hino Kahoko!" Her name was followed by a pop as Lili appeared in front of her. If it were possible, Kahoko felt her blush deepen as she was interrupted from her thoughts.
"Lili! You surprised me. I was just about to start practicing." She busied herself with opening her violin case and pulling out the instrument and bow. She made sure she took her time putting rosin on the bow. Normal. She had to act completely normal. Like nothing happened. Like her heart wasn't about to beat out of her chest at any moment.
"Are you okay? Your face is all red. You're not getting sick are you!?" Lili fluttered nervously around her head. Kahoko suppressed a groan. So much for acting normal.
"I'm fine Lili, I just…I ran here to make sure I got a room. I missed signing up for one today. I really lucked out, didn't I?" She smiled, her arm still pulling the bow back and forth over the rosin.
"Umm…Kahoko…Don't you think that's enough?"
"Enough?" She blinked, glancing down at her hands where Lili was currently pointing. Oh, that. She put the bow and rosin down, watching as the small cloud of dust from her over-zealous rosining settled down.
"Maybe you need a few days off from practicing…"
"No! I mean, I'm fine. I need to practice." Determined, she placed the violin under her chin and positioned the bow on her strings. Lili frowned as she closed her eyes and began to play, knowing he had just been dismissed.
"Just don't overdo it, Hino Kahoko."
"Yunokiiiii!" There was no mistaking that loud mouth. Azuma stopped walking and glanced over his shoulder. Sure enough, Kazuki was running towards him, one arm waving wildly in the air. As if he couldn't already hear him coming.
"Hihara." He smiled. Kazuki, he thought, was probably the only concours participant that he could read like a book. He looked even happier than usual, and he wondered the cause for the grin stretching from ear to ear.
"Yunoki! Were you practicing?" He nodded to the instrument case in Azuma's hand. Observant as ever, Azuma thought dryly as he nodded. Kazuki, surprisingly, said nothing as they walked towards the front gate. The sleek, black Mercedes was already waiting at the curb to take Azuma to his own personal hell. When had he lost all control of his life? The answer, he realized, was when he gave up the piano for the flute.
"You're awfully quiet today, Hihara. Is something wrong?" He glanced at the trumpet player curiously. Kazuki, Azuma noticed with interest, had turned a rather deep shade of pink. Curiouser and Curiouser.
"Nope, there's nothing wrong at all! Absolutely nothing is-"
"Ah, it's Hino." Azuma watched the younger girl as she walked a few paces ahead of them, her head bowed. Kazuki froze, his eyes fixed on the back of Kahoko's head. His stare was so intense, Azuma wondered if the girl could actually feel it.
Suddenly, it all made perfect sense. The answer was so simple, Azuma was amazed he hadn't caught on earlier. So Kazuki had a crush on Kahoko. How very interesting. The realization made his stomach twist in an uncomfortable knot, though he wasn't too sure why.
"Huh? You see? See what?" Kazuki finally blinked and turned his attention away from the violinist. Azuma smiled.
"You like her."
"Ehhhhh!?!" His outburst, as Azuma had predicted, had gotten Kahoko's attention. She turned, the smile on her face faltering slightly when her eyes darted to Kazuki.
"Hihara-senpai. Yunoki-senpai. Were you practicing late too?" There was no mistaking the slight flush of her cheeks as her eyes darted to look at everything except Kazuki. It was so painfully obvious to Azuma that once again he wondered why he hadn't seen the subtle but sure hints.
"The second selection is almost upon us. Practicing is imperative, don't you think so?" He raised an eyebrow. She met his eyes briefly before averting her gaze to the ground. What was she hiding? Not for the first time he found himself dwelling on the mystery that was Hino Kahoko.
The rumors were impossible to ignore, surely she had heard them herself? A beginner. No one could just pick up the violin and play like that, it just wasn't possible. And if she did that would make her, what had he told Tsukimori? A genius? Studying her now, he just didn't see her as a genius. She knew too little about music, always asking questions. Odd how most of the time he found her listening to CDS rather than practicing. Almost as if she could play just by hearing the song…
"Kaho-chan, have you picked out a song yet?" Hihara's voice broke into Azuma's train of thoughts. He watched as she shook her head, lips drawn in a frown. The two of them broke into light conversation and banter as they walked out of the school grounds. He bid them both goodbye as his chauffer opened the door to the Mercedes and he slid into the leather seats. Azuma watched Kazuki and Kahoko as the car drove by them.
'What exactly are you hiding, Kahoko?'
Kahoko had thought it would be awkward to see Kazuki again after their mishap on the roof. Mishap? No, she corrected herself. Not a mishap. But a…Hell, she didn't know what to call it. She had been grateful though that he appeared to be the same Kazuki as always. Just as loud and happy as he was before that. Actually, he seemed happier. Like he had reached some resolution.
"Kaho-chan, we should play Gavotte again sometime. It was fun!" He grinned, swinging his trumpet case back and forth as they walked. She had insisted that she could get home just fine and that he needn't go out of his way. It appeared, however, that Kazuki had selective hearing. He didn't seem to mind the fact that after he walked her home, he would have to turn around and go in the complete opposite direction.
"Mm, it was fun. The second selection really is getting closer, isn't it?" She sighed as that familiar knot in her stomach seemed to reappear. Guilt, nervousness, and what could only be described as an anxiousness to not disappoint, warred with the focus she needed for the upcoming event. Kazuki frowned, noticing the tension in her hunched shoulders and the way she dragged her feet (still sock-less, he noted) against the ground.
"You'll do great! I'm looking forward to hearing you play again!" Although it was an obvious attempt to cheer her up, it was something he also found to be true. When the announcement that a general education student would be participating, he hadn't known what to think. That was until he had heard her play. She was timid, there was no denying that. But she didn't follow the music note for note, and it carried a certain warmth to it that Tsukimori's performances lacked. That wasn't to say that she was better than Tsukimori, in fact it was just the opposite. She did, however, have the capability to send shivers down one's spine (when she wasn't performing on a stage or in front of people). And that was going to be the biggest problem for her, in his eyes.
She would be, no, he corrected himself, was, a good violinist. And she had the potential to be better. If only he could break her from the absurdity of her irrational fear of performances. After all, a musician lived to perform, didn't they?
"Thanks…I guess I'm just a little nervous after the first selection. Now that I know what to expect and everything. I just can't…No, I won't disappoint anyone else." They stopped walking in front of a small, white house. Kahoko's place. Kazuki frowned as he watched her make her way up the front steps. Just as she was about to turn the doorknob to go inside, he stopped her.
"Who have you disappointed, Kaho-chan?" She glanced over her shoulder and the unmistakable shine of tears in her eyes made something in Kazuki's chest constrict painfully.
"Myself." She offered a watery smile before quickly pushing the door open and slipping inside. He wasn't sure how long he stood in front of her house, staring at the door, her words echoing inside his head. 'Myself'.
"You're wrong Kaho-chan…You're anything but a disappointment." With a sigh, he turned and started slowly on the long walk to his house, his thoughts centered around the violinist.
A/N: It took me a little longer than expected to finish, and it's shorter than I wanted. I honestly didn't like this chapter as much as the first, but this was really just a filler/transition so I guess it's okay. There are probably grammatical/spelling errors because I haven't had a chance to go back and reread it yet, but it's currently 12am and I wanted to get this done and up.
On a side note, in the first chapter I presented the names like 'Kahoko Hino'. In this one however, I used 'Hino Kahoko'. I think I prefer the second method now that I think about it…I'll go back and make changes later on when I'm more awake!
Note: "Curiouser and Curiouser" is a quote from Alice in Wonderland, I just borrowed it.
Reviews/Crits are greatly appreciated! )