Disclaimer: I don't own La Corda D'oro
"Did you see that just now?"
"No way, wasn't Maestro-sama in that same room?"
"Does this mean that those two Gen-Ed students are actually dating one another?"
"They've been a hot topic for a while now."
"Isn't Yunoki also interested in her? Is this a love triangle of some sort?"
A certain blue-haired violinist couldn't help but quickly shut the door to the sound-proof room he had reserved in advance so that he could block the noisy people who had nothing better to do but to mind other people's business. He gently set down his violin case at the nearest table and began to set out his music sheets, but he suddenly paused.
The image of his childhood friend running past by him flashed back into his mind.
Len was on his way to the music rooms when he saw a group of girls standing outside a particular room. He was internally disgusted as he guessed that they were most probably eavesdropping or gossiping about whatever was inside the room. The prodigy was just about to ignore them when the door suddenly flew open and out came a very familiar person. Seeing as how she was running away, Len knew that something was wrong, yet he had remained frozen from where he stood— until he saw his childhood friend run straight to the arms of the pianist he scorns so much.
He turned his head just in time to see the well-bred Azuma of the Yunoki family emerge from the same room his childhood friend had just ran out from. Len could feel his jaw clench upon more or less guessing what could have happened. Although the upperclassman had a good reputation within campus, for some reason, Len always had a feeling that that person was hiding something sinister. It didn't sit well with him when he discovered that the flutist had set his eyes on his childhood friend, but then again, he had no right to interfere in other people's business. It had nothing to do with him. Who Kahoko decides to date is her decision alone.
Still, he'd rather she chooses the General Education student over this pretentious Music Department student— as the last resort.
He couldn't help but glare as he turned back to watch the said General Education student trying to comfort his childhood friend. As much as he disapproves of Tsuchiura Ryoutarou, he can't deny that he takes good care of her.
He was slightly surprised when Ryoutarou met his eyes just as the two were about to leave. The mere shake of his head was enough for Len to know that the upperclassman hadn't done anything physical to hurt her. How he knew that the shake of Ryoutarou's head had meant that, he didn't know too. It was just that.
With just that, he knew that he could leave his childhood friend with the pianist. If Kahoko wants to talk about what had happened, she would tell him about it on her own. For now, it was none of his business.
Len snapped out from his thoughts when something small and white fell down from his pile of music sheets. As soon as he recognized what it was once he picked it up, another flashback came into mind as he remembered the night after the concert.
"Those two really do get along quite well," Misa observed as the car sped away from where the scarlet-haired violinist stood beside the green-haired pianist. As she said so, she stole a glance at her son who was sitting quietly across from her inside the limousine.
A small smile crept onto her lips at her son's expected lack of response."If you don't do something soon, Kahoko will definitely be taken away by somebody else." She giggled. Although Len didn't verbally react, she didn't miss the fact that his shoulder twitched upon her words.
"Which reminds me," The older Tsukimori said as she rummaged through her purse and pulled out a small white envelope. "Do you remember Tsuki-san, your father's best friend?" She reached out the envelope for her son to take. Len looked at his mother and carefully took it from her. "It's a party to celebrate his recent successful tour, he reserved four seats for us."
"And?" The prodigy resisted the urge to raise an eyebrow at the suspicion crawling into him. It was definitely no secret how his mother and Kahoko's mother are trying to set them up together, but it bothers him to some extent how persistent his own mother is about it. Especially how she didn't stop teasing him on the fact that he had requested Kahoko be part of his mother's concert—rather than "requested" it was more like he simply "inquired". Now it didn't seem likely for her to let him forget about it anytime soon.
Misa laughed, knowing that there was no point in hiding behind the bush. "Bring Kahoko as your date. The party isn't something serious, it's just musicians gathering together. The usual. She might enjoy it once people start playing their instruments."
Len looked at the contents of the invitation and nodded once to himself. He's been to several parties where it was just simply a gathering of musicians, and although he had never participated, it was actually worth listening to the older ones once they begin to play their instruments for fun.
The blue-haired violinist began to debate with himself whether he should go ahead and invite his childhood friend or not. Considering the incident that had just happened a while ago, he didn't think it was a good idea to bring up the subject of attending a party to her. At the same time, maybe a light-hearted party is what she needs. He shook his head, mentally berating himself that he shouldn't mind too much as it wasn't any of his business... but just as rumors about her always catches his attention, he couldn't help but want to know what had happened between his childhood friend and his upperclassman.
Len sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair upon realizing that more than thirty minutes had already passed and he had yet to touch his violin.
"It's always like this," He grumbled to himself. Whenever his childhood friend is involved, he seemed to lose himself. He sighed once again as he placed the small envelope on the table and decided to put his music sheets back into his bag. There was no point in practicing when he was distracted.
He pulled out his phone and decided to send out a short message to Kahoko before he left the room.
Where are you?
"Have you finally calmed down?" Ryoutarou gently placed a hand on top of his best friend's head as he sat beside her on one of the benches in the park close to her house. She hasn't spoken a word since they left campus, but tears kept on falling uncontrollably from her eyes the whole time— until now. At least right now, the tears had stopped and after handing her a bottle of water which she took in one sitting, he felt that she had considerably collected herself.
"I'm sorry you had to see that," The scarlet-haired violinist murmured. For some reason, she felt really guilty about having her best friend see her in the state she was in. He had warned her plenty about the flutist of an upperclassman, yet she always ignored his warnings and still went ahead and met with him alone.
Ryoutarou ruffled her hair before pulling his hand back. "Idiot." He said. Kahoko lifted her head to look at her best friend, and she was surprised to see the complex expression on his face. The worry in his expression was already a given, but at the same time he looked like he was in pain.
He shook his head knowing full well that he wasn't able to keep his expression as neutral as he had wanted to. "A part of me is relieved that you finally opened your eyes about Yunoki Azuma, but another part of me feels bad that you have to cry that much because of him." He brought his hand onto her cheek and used his thumb to rub off the dried tears under her eye. "This is the first time I saw you cry as much."
"There's no need for you to apologize." He immediately cut her off. "But please, talk to me?" Somehow his words came out as a desperate plea as he looked at her straight in the eyes. Knowing her, she would just brush off what had happened earlier and decide not to talk to anyone about it. He knew that she would definitely keep the burden to herself. "If you're really sorry, you'll talk to me." He said, seeing that she was hesitating on saying anything.
Kahoko's eyes slightly widen at her best friend's demand, but she knew that he was right. But when she thought about what had happened a while ago, tears began springing from her eyes once again.
Never. Never did she expect that Yunoki Azuma had that kind of side to him. Although she already had a feeling that there was something more to him, she didn't think he was the kind of person— she didn't want to believe that he was the kind of person who would spread malicious rumors with the goal of getting what he wanted. And because of that, she and her best friend had to withstand rumors about them ever since the start of the semester...
She shook her head. "Cruel... he's just so cruel..."
"Hey..." Ryoutarou said in a soft voice, gently brushing her bangs away from her face.
"Everything," Kahoko looked at her best friend's golden-emerald eyes, "Everything was him. The rumors..." She bit her lip and looked away, "He knew everything. He knew that I like Hihara-senpai..."
Ryoutarou didn't know what to say as Kahoko spilled everything out. On a normal scenario, he would have already bolted up and go on a man-hunt for the person who had hurt his best friend like this, but right now... he didn't know why he was acting as calm as he is. A small part of him already knew that the upperclassman was behind it, his sixth sense had been warning him ever since he could feel the cold glare from the flutist. Just as he had said before, he's torn between what to feel... Relief that his best friend has come to her senses? Or the opposite?
"I deserve this, don't I?" Kahoko said in a small voice, seeing as her best friend was struggling to say something to her. She could see that he was about to deny her claim, but he slowly closed his mouth and still remained silent. The violinist nodded in understanding as she wiped away a few more stray tears.
"Just stay away from him from now on." The pianist decided to say in a tight voice.
"I think I've learned my lesson." She agreed, looking down at her hands. "I'm really sorry for troubling you..."
Ryoutarou sighed with a roll of his eyes as he got up from his seat and crouched in front of Kahoko. He poked her forehead with his finger and said, "You didn't." Kahoko brought a hand to her forehead after he poked her hard. She looked at him in surprise as he let out a chuckle. "Even if you were to trouble me, it would be my pleasure to be troubled."
Her brows furrowed as she tried to process what her best friend was saying. So far it wasn't making any sense to her.
Seeing her confused expression, Ryoutarou shook his head with a laugh. This girl is too dense. He slowly reached out and was about to caress her cheek—
The both of them jumped in surprise when they suddenly heard someone's phone ringing. "Sorry, that's mine," The scarlet-haired murmured as she reached into her bag to look for her phone. Meanwhile, the pianist gave out a heavy sigh as he stood up from his crouched position. One day... He thought to himself.
"Eh!? Wait, Tsukimori-kun!"
At the mention of the name, Ryoutarou couldn't help but look down at his best friend who had a bewildered expression as she stared at her phone. He guessed that the other party mostly hang up on her. "Tsukimori?" He asked.
"Nn," Kahoko replied shortly, fiddling with her phone. "He was asking where we were, so—oh!" She gasped before she could explain. Checking her phone, she realized that she had messages from her two best friends and Len. She felt her heart twist upon reading the messages from her two female friends. "News spreads fast, doesn't it..." She mumbled.
Ryoutarou didn't have to guess to know what she was talking about. He scratched the back of his head, still unsure of what he could or should say.
"Do you think..." Kahoko said softly, looking up at her best friend, "do you think he'd tell Hihara-senpai?" She couldn't forget the threat from the flutist. A shiver ran down her spine, just like the time she was with him. The feeling of being trapped with nowhere to run was still vivid in her mind.
Ryoutarou shrugged at her question. Despite the slight prick he felt in his heart from the fact that she's more worried about that, he gave her an answer. "They're best friends." Kahoko bit her lower lip once again. "Once Hihara-senpai knows how you feel, he'd feel bad because his best friend is the one interested in you." Ryoutarou wouldn't doubt for a moment that the upperclassman is capable of telling Hihara Kazuki of Kahoko's secret in order to pull them apart.
"You're right..." Kahoko said in a barely audible voice.
"Kaho—" Ryoutarou had straightened his shoulders, prepared to say something more to her. But he noticed someone familiar approaching from his peripheral vision. He sighed and gave a small chuckle. "The timing's never right."
"What are you talking about?" His best friend asked, hearing the defeat in his voice.
He simply gave her a smile as he shook his head. "Time to switch out," Ryoutarou chuckled as soon as he saw the blue-haired prodigy walking towards them. He had guessed as much that he would be coming when Kahoko mentioned that Len was asking where they were.
Kahoko groaned while glaring at him. "What is this, babysitting?"
"Maybe." He answered, giving her another smile before he began to walk towards the prodigy's direction.
As soon as Len got off the car, he had to pause his step. He saw his childhood friend with the pianist known as her best friend. Kahoko didn't look as bad as he had predicted, assuming that she would have still be in the state she was in when he last caught a glimpse of her in campus.
As he quietly studied the two from afar, Len could only shake his head. When will that girl realize that— maybe it's better that she doesn't. Len suddenly caught himself at the direction his thoughts were leaning towards. "It's none of my business." He said loudly to himself, and decided to start walking towards them.
"She's calmed down now." The blue-haired prodigy paused as the green-haired MVP passed along a few words to him.
"I can see that." Len answered shortly, not looking at the pianist as he stood beside him. His gaze was fixed on his childhood friend who was staring at the two men, a curious expression on her face.
Ryoutarou chuckled at the cold response. What was he to expect from the Ice prince? The only time he saw him project real human emotions was when he and Kahoko were together. Ryoutarou shrugged, "Just don't be too harsh on her."
Without another word, Len began walking towards his childhood friend. As soon as he reached her, he came to realize that contrary to what he had initially thought, she didn't look well at all. Her eyes were red and swollen, her usually vibrant golden hues were now a murky yellow. He sighed upon seeing the apologetic smile she had on her lips.
Kahoko look down at her clasped hands as her childhood friend heaved another sigh. She tried to prepare herself for what's to come from him. In contrast to her best friend, Len will definitely shove reality right at her face. He'll most probably just tell her the things that she already knew, but thinks that she has to hear it out loud. She squeezed her eyes shut when she felt him sit beside her on the bench.
"I don't think there's anything more for me to say."
At his words, Kahoko's eyes widen in surprise as she turn to look at him. Seeing her expression, Len couldn't help but feel a bubbling irritation rising from inside of him. What did she think I was going to do?
Kahoko couldn't help but let out a small weak laugh sensing how her childhood friend was internally feeling right after seeing his brow slightly twitch. Yet she couldn't help but also give out a small sigh afterwards at the inevitable. "I guess you've heard about it too."
"Rather, I saw you run out of the music room." He replied shortly.
The scarlet-haired jump in shock. "You saw?"
"Coincidentally." He didn't feel like explaining himself further.
Kahoko gently shook her head as she looked back down at her clasped hands, "So I guess whatever you saw was so bad that you had to look for me immediately..." When her childhood friend didn't say anything else, she murmured, "You had to worry about me...I'm sorry for troubling you..." She couldn't help but repeat the same words she told Ryoutarou.
"Don't be conceited. I wasn't worried about you."
Kahoko felt her chest tighten at the cold words from her childhood friend. She couldn't help but glare at him with a bit of tears forming at the corner of her eyes again, "I know I was wrong, but—" She stopped when he suddenly flashed a white envelope in front of her face without looking at her.
"What..." She took the envelope while feeling confused.
He finally turned to look at his childhood friend as she opened the envelope and looked into its contents. He didn't miss the fact that the confusion on her face just increased as she read the invitation. He knew what she was thinking. "Mother insisted you come."
"But." She couldn't help protest as she looked at him, "This is addressed to the Tsukimori family. Bringing me might cause a bit of a misunderstanding."
"Not just a bit." He agreed.
Len shook his head, "Just come. If not, we won't hear the last of it." A small smile played on his lips when Kahoko groaned in agreement.
She knew that if she insists on refusing right now, Hamai Misa would certainly involve her own mother. She knew as well as Len did that if the two mothers are involved... Kahoko involuntarily shuddered at the thought. "Fine." It wasn't like she had any other choice.
With that reply, Len abruptly stood up. "I'll walk you home."
Kahoko looked at her childhood friend's back, still unable to believe that he didn't scold her at all. Not once did he ask what had happened for her to be in the state he saw her in. Well, he might have already heard it from someone else. At the same time, Kahoko knew that Len wasn't the type of person to pry nor would he ask someone else about what happened. So why did he come look for me?
She couldn't help but think that he was really worried about her despite the fact that he denied it earlier.
"Why did you come?" Kahoko asked in a small voice, unable to hold back. "If you wanted to hand the invitation to me, you could've just dropped this off at my house... you didn't have to personally—"
"Just because." Len interrupted. "Let's go, I won't wait all night long." With that, he started walking towards the direction of Kahoko's house which wasn't that far away.
Just because? Kahoko couldn't make sense of the words he just said, but she still stood up and followed her childhood friend. Since when is he the type to say "just because"? Kahoko silently studied Len's poker face as she finally walked beside him.
Len sighed as he ran his fingers through his blue tresses. He could feel Kahoko's curiosity and confusion radiating off of her. He also knew that his childhood friend wouldn't give up unless he gave her a cohesive answer. "During this gathering, it's just fellow musicians. It's usually just a light matter where you get to play your instruments."
"You might end up enjoying it."
"And...?" This time, a smile was already on Kahoko's lips as she tilted her head further, trying to meet Len's obviously avoiding eyes.
"You shouldn't dwell on what happened." He looked at her with irritation knowing full well that she just wanted him to say it out loud when in fact she already knew what he was going on about.
Kahoko laughed, knowing that her hunch was right. So he really was worried. "Thanks, Len." Kahoko looked at the invitation in her hand once again. She's heard about these parties from Len's mother before, and if it's still how the older Tsukimori had described it, she might actually have a good time.
"I wasn't the one who insisted you come." He answered briskly, stopping as soon as they reached the front of her house.
The scarlet-haired couldn't help but laugh once again at Len's denial. "Yes, yes." She said teasingly. Kahoko slowly walked in front of her childhood friend and gave him a smile despite his slight glare. Before Len could say anything back, she had given him a hug.
Len stiffened at the sudden move. He stood awkwardly with his arms loose beside him as Kahoko hugged him around his waist. "Thank you, Len." Kahoko murmured against his chest. "I didn't think I'd be able to laugh this soon." Hearing those words, the prodigy had began to relax. His hand had instinctively reached out and was about to stroke her head, but he caught himself before doing so. Len closed his eyes and clenched his hand shut.
"It was nothing." Was all he said.
Kahoko smiled as she pulled away from him. "I'm really going to be okay. I can't have you and Ryou worry about me all the time." With that, Kahoko walked up to the steps leading to her front door. She gave her childhood friend one last smile before going inside her house with her spare keys.
Len stood there silently for another few minutes after Kahoko had closed the door behind her. "I wasn't worried." He stubbornly murmured before turning to walk back to the car waiting for him.
"What took you so long to get back dear? I was getting worried." Kahoko's mother poked her head out from the kitchen upon hearing the front door close.
"Sorry," Kahoko smiled apologetically as she took off her shoes. "I was just talking to Ryoutarou about something and we didn't realize that the time already passed quickly. I also saw Len on the way home. He handed an invitation over." The violinist quickly glanced at the nearby mirror to check her face before she entered the kitchen to show the invitation to her mother.
The older Hino didn't turn to look at her daughter as she resumed her cooking, "I already heard about it." She laughed.
Kahoko shook her head, "And I was about to turn it down." She might as well have made the right choice.
"I would like to confirm the date, though." Her mother glanced at her with a hint of concern.
"Eh?" She didn't remember seeing the date, so Kahoko took a look once again. "Um, I don't think we have anything going on on that day."
Her mother laughed again as she shut off the fire on the stove and turned to fully face her daughter. She wiped her hands on the front of her apron and then gently cupped her daughter's face. "It's your birthday, silly."
Kahoko sighed as she stared up at the wide blue sky as she sat on the middle of the rooftop floor of their building. Three days had passed since the last incident with the flutist upperclassman, and thankfully she hadn't crossed paths with him yet. Usually, they really don't, but Coincidence can be very scary at times.
She had carefully explained what happened to her two best friends, and just like her initial reaction, they couldn't believe that the upperclassman was capable of doing so. As for Ryoutarou, after she discovered her indoor shoes in the trash on the first day after the incident, he'd been hovering over her protectively since. She shook her head. The reason why she's also here is because he's been telling her to wait for him here before they eat their lunch together. Usually she would be stubborn and roll her eyes at his protectiveness, but she feels like she owes him after what happened.
She slightly jumped in surprise when she heard the door behind her open. Kahoko couldn't help but smile to herself as she called out, "Ryou, I'm hungry."
Kahoko froze from her spot as she heard the voice which definitely didn't belong to her best friend. She didn't have to see the face to know whose voice it belonged to. The scarlet-haired violinist shut her eyes tightly as dread began to fill her up. Her heart began speeding up when she felt warmth touching her back. She opened her eyes in surprise, only to realize that their backs were touching as he sat opposite her.
Kahoko sat stiff frozen as silence took over them. At the same time, her mind was racing. Just as she felt relief over not crossing paths with the flutist, she was also dreading seeing the trumpeter. For all she knows, he already know of her feelings. She might as well be waiting for her rejection right now.
"I heard," The upperclassman started.
The violinist's heart might as well have stopped at that moment. Since the usually cheerful upperclassman wasn't acting as such, wherever the conversation was headed is definitely not in a positive direction. Kahoko couldn't help but bite her lower lip.
"You turned down Azuma."
"I did." Kahoko said in a small voice.
She was surprised when she heard a deep sigh coming from the usually perky trumpeter. Kahoko couldn't help but move and turn around to look at the upperclassman's face. Kazuki Hihara had his cheek resting on the back of his hands which were on top of one of his bent knee. When Kahoko turned to look at him, he was facing her. He gave her an apologetic smile.
"Sorry, my mood must also be bringing you down." He said.
Kahoko swallowed when Kazuki lifted his head and moved away so that he and Kahoko could face each other properly. "I was trying to make small talks, but it seems like it didn't work." Kazuki shrugged with a self-depreciating smile.
"Did something happen?" Kahoko couldn't help but ask, her earlier worries immediately disappeared. She definitely wasn't used to the green-haired musician acting this way.
"It's actually about Azuma,"
This time, just when she thought her heart was beginning to calm down once again, Kahoko felt like it was trying to escape through her throat. She couldn't help but avoid his eyes.
"I know I sound like a kid, but I think Azuma doesn't want to be friends anymore."
"Eh?" Her eyes widen as she looked at him properly once again.
Kazuki scratched the side of his chin in embarrassment as he was the one to look away this time. "I know it sounds childish, but it feels like he's been avoiding me these past few days."
It's my fault. She couldn't help but think guiltily.
When Kahoko didn't say anything, Kazuki couldn't help but look at her once again. "I'm sorry!" He couldn't help but blurt out, misunderstanding her conflicted expression. "I didn't mean to dampen your mood too. I just suddenly said something like that out of the blue."
Kahoko was about to interrupt, but found that she couldn't as the upperclassman began to ramble on. "It's just that I was feeling kind of lonely with Azuma avoiding me and all, and I saw Tsuchiura a while ago and I suddenly had this urge to talk to you. Then I asked him where you were, and—" He clamped his mouth shut when he took in Kahoko's dumbfounded expression.
"I'm sorry." He exhaled in defeat.
For some reason, Kahoko couldn't help but laugh at what had just happened. Whether in relief because he didn't come here for the reason she thought he was, or because of his obvious misunderstanding and effort to explain himself was just amusing.
"You didn't have to laugh so hard Hino-chan." Kazuki said in a sulking way as he let himself lie down on the floor in embarrassment.
Kahoko tried to hold in her laughter as she looked at him, "I'm sorry," She tried to apologize.
"The apology doesn't count when you're still laughing Hino-chan." He glanced at her before looking away again in a childish manner.
"I'm sure that Yunoki-senpai just has a lot of things to think about at the moment, you shouldn't worry too much." Kahoko felt her stomach knot at the lie she just said, knowing full well that she had a hand as to why the two best friends have become this way.
Kazuki turned to her once again with an impish smile, "I'm just thinking too much, aren't I?"
Kahoko smiled back.
Kazuki sat up and nodded to himself. His earlier gloomy expression all but completely disappeared as he was back to his usual self again. "I guess it was the right choice to come talk to you after all, Hino-chan."
"I barely said anything senpai,"
Kazuki grinned as he laid his hand on top of Kahoko's head. "It's a shame Azuma's not the one you like." Kahoko's eyes widen at his words. "But," For a moment, Kahoko caught a hint of seriousness flash across the trumpeter's eyes as he looked at her, "Who are you in love with, then?"
"What?" Kahoko couldn't help but blurt out the question at the unexpectedness.
Kazuki lets out a quick breath as he stood up, "Whoever you'll end up saying 'yes' to will be a lucky guy." He stretched his arms over his head before saying, "After all, just talking to you like this has brought me back to life. You'll surely be that lucky guy's muse."
Kahoko was stunned speechless at the cheerful and innocent smile from the upperclassman.
"Thanks for listening Hino-chan, I'm off to practice again!" He waved goodbye to her, "If you need someone to listen to, I'm all ears!" He said, before leaving and closing the door behind him.
Ryoutarou stood still as the door just a few distance beside him opened, and Kazuki came out. He held his breath as the upperclassman ran down the stairs, completely oblivious that he had been standing there the whole time.
When he was no longer in sight, Ryoutarou silently moved to open the door slightly, and found his best friend still on her spot with her arms wrap around her legs.
"You're an idiot, senpai." He heard her say out loud.
The pianist carefully closed the door once again as he let out a deep sigh. "The idiot is you, Kahoko."