I'd apologize, but there's nothing to apologize for. Let's just say this story couldn't have worked out. If you've read Shugo Chara Encore, then you'll get it when I say I don't want to go against the authoress' wishes. And her wish is to have Kuukai and Utau canon. I'm not complaining really. I'd never finish this story to begin with. So many chapters were planned, but they're irrelevant now.

So think of this as a gigaaaantic time skip to this chapter.

It's also dedicated to all my friends who I may never see again, and also the ones I'll see on Friday. I wrote it thinking of you and not him.

I don't even want Shugo Chara anymore :P So it's not mine. Obviously.

It was late in the afternoon with the sun high in the sky. Arisa stood quietly with her luggage at her feet and fidgeting with the phone in her pocket.

"Don't worry Ari-kun, I'm sure he'll be here any second," Hikaru reassured while Ryu and Daisuke nodded in agreement.

Even Sion, who was now clinging to Kaidou's arm agreed, "That's what he did when I left Tokyo!"

The brunette willed a weak smile over her face. She glanced at the stairwell hoping, almost begging for the familiar face to come rushing up the stairs and proving her worries wrong.

An awkward silence followed through the group. Shinyu who stood by Tsukiga and Aika reached forward for yet another hug. They had lost counting about an hour ago.

"So you enjoyed your time in Tokyo right?" she asked, voice almost breaking.

Arisa couldn't help but smile, "I'll never be the same." Which was completely true. She had too many experiences to ever change.

"Plus, you got to meet so many awesome people," she added jokingly.

The sound of Kaidou's phone beeping caught her attention. "I just got a text from him. The dweeb is on his way right now." Arisa really, really hoped so, but deep inside, she gave up hope; she knew.

I'll be meeting up with Utau quickly before we see you off. You know how the traffic is, but I'll be there.

She stopped listening after 'quickly'. She already knew there would be no chance, but at that moment, saying her heart shattered would be a cliché, and it saying it broke would be an overstatement. If anything, a giant mass of disappointment settled itself into her chest and refused to move even as she replied with a smile, "No problem."

Arisa patronized herself for not realizing it sooner. The signs of attraction were just so obvious. All those times she felt like a third wheel or all the nights he was in the kitchen 'studying', it was all for her. And how can she even blame him? At least Hoshina-san isn't some sorry, little pink haired mouse who couldn't stand up for herself for shit.

Utau had every right to be confident with herself. She was famous, pretty, strong (he admitted it himself), down to earth and sweet when she wasn't assertive. When Arisa realized it that day, it felt like she'd been part of some triple kill-headshot-tea-bag combo.

Then again, Cal of Duty sounded rather appealing at the moment.

It gave her the chance to escape the reality where nobody harboured romantic feelings for her. But while she couldn't blame a thing on the boy, the only thing she can do was thank him. He had given her the chance to be in love and fall out of it a lot less painfully than how other relationships end. Theirs never even began.

And while she'd like to go on hating his guts, she couldn't bring herself to be the attention grabbing, self pitying girls she'd known.

Her inner monologue was interrupted by the final call for boarding the train. Arisa hugged her close friends tightly and allowed the Souma brothers to ruffle her hair affectionately. With the sweet words she received from all of them, plus their warm smiles and sincere wishes, Arisa figured it out; she didn't need him.

Now she felt like an asshole neglecting her friends while they cried tears for her. Instead she only focused on some ass who didn't even bother to reschedule his date with his precious girlfriend to see her off.

As she was lifted off the ground by Unkai, and hugged by Ryu, she decided, screw him. She had all she needed there with her. Finally she lifted her bag off the ground and smiled a final farewell, feeling the tears fall down her cheeks.

The train ride was far too quiet. With her friends, it was never quiet. Someone was always screaming or someone was always being yelled at. But when Arisa's phone chirped to life, she nearly fell out of her seat at the familiar ring tone of Check Yes Juliet.

Sorry I couldn't make it. I really tried to, but I'll miss you. Have a safe trip. Utau says bye too.

She never knew she could close her phone so quickly.

Eventually, her mind adjusted to the silence of the train. As she drifted off to sleep, she realized that she hadn't shed a tear for Kuukai that day. Maybe in the past, but the past is irrelevant.

Only for her friends; the ones who truly cared for her and the ones she held dear until their final moments together. They were the only ones worth shedding tears for. Not tears of 'a happy ending', but tears of a 'to be continued'.