disclaimer: I do not own marmalade boy or anything to do with it.

He held her hand tightly while walking through the woods on the other side of the park bridge. Nudging his head warmly on

top of her short, light brown hair, he called out, "Miki?" "Hmm?" She answered lifting her head from his shoulder to look to at

him. "What will you do when I go back to Kyoto tomorrow?" He sounded so sad. But what was to be expected when just the

thought of being separated again depressed them both. Miki looked at yuu's light brown eyes with clear sincerity in hers. "I

guess I'll be a little lonely. But don't worry. I have school to distract me plus ginta and arimi will be there so I'll be too busy to

sit around and mope for you!" She grinned playfully punching his arm. Yuu stared at her wide-eyed. For a moment, she

thought she might have said that last part too harshly, but his sudden burst of laughter assured that he'd thought it was

funny too. "Well miki, I'll be too busy studying at a prestigious school and working long hours to even remember to call you."

He said it so passively that for a second she thought he was serious. "You better not, yuu!" She pouted holding a clenched

fist to his face. He chuckled. "Relax, I won't. I promise." She grinned at that. Suddenly remembering something, her grin

broadened. She turned to face him and giddily started skipping backwards. Yuu noticed the funny gesture and chuckled at

her liveliness. "What are you so perky about?" he asked with a calm face but an obviously curious tone of voice. Miki's

giddiness seemed to want to explode from her heart. She knew she wouldn't be able to hold it off for later. "I have

something to tell you. It's kind of a big deal for me." "What is it?" he asked once more, wide-eyed. "Well…," she started,

looking up at the sky and noticed it was starting to darken. He followed her line of vision and they stared at scene above

them for a few moments. The sun was slowly setting and the crescent moon was starting to be visible along with a couple of

stars. "It's getting late," she said slowly in a spaced off manner. "Yeah...so what is it?" He cocked his head, turning his vision

back from the dim sky to her. "What?" she replied with a questioning look. "Your big deal news…?" "Oh yeah, my news!" She

grinned sheepishly, quickly snapping back from her moment of emptiness. "I was just going to tell you…" she started again

looking straight at him and seeing how curious he looked at what she was going to say, got an idea. "…It is getting late so

we should probably go. I'll tell you when get home." She finished rapidly before she chickened out of doing something so

mean. "Miki, home is almost five miles from here. Can't you tell me now?" he practically mumbled, turning his head up to the

sky again. Though it was almost like if he wanted to hide his facial expression, she could still see the obvious impatience

mixed in with curiosity in his eyes which was rare for yuu to show. Usually he was the calm, patient one who never lost his

cool. If he ever wanted to know something badly, he always seemed to keep it to himself so miki took pride in delaying what

she wanted to say as a way to see his vulnerable side and to pay him back for all the times he'd messed with her head. This

was her one chance to turn the tables on yuu! She smiled slyly for a few seconds until a negative thought spoiled her plan. It

suddenly occurred to her that all her thoughts were dumb and she was reading into his expression too much because his

curiosity would not block his thinking senses and he'd quickly catch on that she was making him wait for the news on

purpose. Yuu could read her like a book and she knew that very well. Giving up on her over-thought plan, her head dropped

in disappointment. Her thoughts were interrupted by a cold finger that swiftly and roughy pushed her forehead backward

and looked up at a smirking yuu who responded her annoyed stare with a seemingly innocent, "you space out too much."

Knowing this was true and no longer seeing any point in delaying the big news by talking back like she always did, she went

straight to what she'd wanted say from the beginning. "Come to think of it, it's really not big news at all," she said to herself,

pine needles and leaves crunching loudly under her feet as she slowly, almost solemnly made her way back to the small

wooden bridge that divided the wood side of the park from the entrance. Yuu followed closely behind silent the rest of the

way as, she figured, he heard her mumbling to herself. "I'm just thinking about getting an apartment!" She finally let it out,

loud enough for yuu to hear as she cheerfully jumped with a loud thump onto the boards of the bridge. "You change moods

so quickly," she heard him whisper to himself. "What?" she asked, turning around to face him. He shook his head and walked

over to her as they stood next to a wooden railing. "Really?" he asked, leaning over the railing to look at the small clear lake

below. "Really what?" she asked blankly. She noticed she had been making too many blank expressions. "You're getting an

apartment?" "Oh yeah, but I'm not exactly getting one yet. I've been thinking about it all summer and I'm still thinking about,

but…" She smiled excitingly, looking up to see his face. He was still looking down at the lake. "…I really, really want to do it! I

have almost enough money saved up from work so I could definitely pay a cheap first rent. If I work a few more extra shifts,

I'll have enough for the first month's water and electricity. Money is not a problem." "Then what is the problem?" He pulled a

few pine needles from his pocket and carelessly threw them at the water below. She sighed heavily. "Mom. I'm worried she'll

take it the wrong way and won't understand why I want to move." She furrowed her eyebrows. It worried her just to think

about it. "Why do you want to move?" He threw the last of the pine needles into the water. "I just…want to know what it

feels like to be completely independent, out on my own, no strings attached. It almost feels like something I need to do.

Now. I need to this now or I might never be this determined to move out again and I'll end living with my parents for a very

long time and I don't think that's how things are supposed to go. Besides, I know I'm ready. I'm just ready to live by myself,

take care of myself, be responsible…" She heard him smirk and almost started laughing herself. "It's true! I want to be more

responsible!" "So how will this upset rumi?" "I know…," she turned to lean over the railing and gazed at the lake yuu had

been staring at all that time. Night had since fallen completely and moon's radiant light reflected itself in the pond clearly,

making it seem almost glow-like. She would have liked such a nice looking pond if her head hadn't been so troubled. "I know

she'll think I'm just trying get away from them or something. She'll think I'm just tired of living with them and that's not it at

all. Do you get it?" She dropped her head into her arms and shouted out in a muffled sound, "I don't want to hurt her!" Her

head stayed in there for a few seconds and neither of them said anything. She tried to think about all the good reasons

she'd mentioned for having an apartment and realized she didn't really have any. As she thought about wanting her mom to

understand her motive, she started feeling disgusted at herself. All she had was her selfish wish to be independent. There

was nothing humble or righteous about that. "Just talk to her, miki." She quickly looked up from her sweater sleeve at yuu

who had finally turned to look at her. "If you don't explain everything to her, then her mind will go crazy with assumptions.

You can do this. Just leave everything out in the open and you'll see her running to congratulate you." "She won't believe

me!" she protested. "Yes she will. This is your weird parent you're talking about, remember? Don't tell me I know her better

than you do," he replied with a grin. "But I'm really scared to see her face if I tell her! I'm too scared!" Her head dropped

down once more. "You're right," he answered in an almost cold tone. "What?" Her head came slightly back up. "If you're not

tough enough to face her now, you'll be too chicken to do it later." He intently stared at her face. It almost seemed like if he

was in a no blinking contest. "So are you tough enough?" Her brow furrowed and she nodded briskly. "I am tough enough

and to prove it, I am going to tell her! I feel braver already! Grrrr!" She tried making her toughest, scrunched face which

ended up looking more like a blow in the head than a mean look, but at least it broke through yuu's sudden cold exterior and

he let out a burst of laughter, not mocking or teasing laughter but the genuine heart felt kind. She knew he wasn't laughing

at her bravery but at her funny face though there was no harm in pretending like she didn't know that. "Are you laughing at

me, you cow-headed, leek-faced jerk!" She rolled her hands into the sharpest, tightest fists she could make and immediately

put them up to yuu's face. "So you think I'm funny, huh!" She put out her tough face again and watched as his laughter

soared. "No, I… (laughter) don't! I just…(laughter). Yes I do! Y-your face! (Laughter)" "Grrr!" She playfully punched his head

again and again as he tried to dodge her seemingly angry attacks, scrunching up her face and eyebrows more and more until

she was sure she looked like a squashed tomato. But he was laughing, even if it really was at her, and it was a thousand

times better than his cold stares. After sweatingly chasing after him with her pretending fist blows and giving him the run of

his life for five whole minutes, she finally gave into the pressing pain on her face, unclenched her sore fists, and collapsed

onto the bridge board. Panting from all the running she'd done, she sat up more to let her head rest against the wooden

railing and closed her eyes. She suddenly had the strangest impulse to just fall asleep there and then. She heard footsteps

walk over to her and heard yuu pant, then chuckle as he stammered, "Y-you're so w-weird!" "I know, but that's why you love

me, isn't it?" She joked, rubbing the back of her hand against her forehead to wipe away the sweat. "Yeah." She opened her

eyes and smiled as she saw him standing across from her, leaning against the railing and looking at her warmly with a

genuinely caring glint showing in his eyes. She'd made him laugh and had received possibly the warmest look he'd given her

all summer. That was enough to make her feel good the rest of the night, no matter what else was on her mind. "Let's go

home, miki." "Yup!" She happily nodded in agreement, pushing herself up from the railing. Yuu bent down to help her up and

grunted when she grabbed his hand. "Heavy as ever," he muttered. She teasingly stuck out her tongue at him as she stood

to her feet and with a supposed annoyed expression but a happy heart, they made their way to the park exit gate.