AN- I am SO SORRY for taking so long! Really! I'm absolutely horrible, and as such I'm sure you're all glad to know that after this drabble there'll be no more waiting around for weeks (even months) for something that's only like 1000 words long. Anyways, hopefully you enjoy my final drabble~!

Disclaimer: I own the first 8 SC books. As in, I bought them. At Barnes & Noble. But that's as close to ownership of this series as I can get.

One Last Challenge (and Your Reward is a Kiss)

"So, Utau, how long are you going to be gone for your concert this time?"

It was, of course, the next day, and, like always, Utau and Kuukai sat side by side in their (inwardly, the blonde felt just slightly giddy thinking of it as their; outwardly, her face remained unchanged) ramen shop of choice.

She set her bowl down. "About two months. It's an actual tour this time."

The rusty haired boy choked and spluttered in protest for a good couple of minutes---he had literally choked at the news, and had to thump hard on his chest a couple times to swallow. "What?! That long? But---!"

"There's nothing to be done about it. This is the first tour I've been offered since I left Easter, so of course I have to take it."

Her clipped, no-nonsense tone deflated the his outcries quite swiftly. A few tense moments passed in which she ate her ramen quickly and silently (inwardly, she was beating herself over the head for being so harsh to him, not that she'd show it), him frowning into his own bowl sullenly.

Utau couldn't exactly blame him for his bad mood, though. As much as she still hated to say it, she had gotten so accustomed to this ritual of eating together that she knew she'd feel terribly lonely those two months on the road.

I wonder… if that's how Amu feels without Ikuto, or vice versa. Her eyes widen. Ikuto! When had her feelings begun to change? How had the strong love she'd felt for her brother manage to disappear so completely without her notice?

…She strongly suspected the boy beside her staring holes into his food and the way her heart sped up just looking at him had something to do with the phenomenon.

But just when the blonde was about to throw away yet another fragment of her pride for him and apologize---leaving out that she wasn't looking forward to the prospect, either, of course---Kuukai brightened up very suddenly. "That's it!"

His mood whiplash startled her so much, she literally had to grab the counter to keep from toppling off the stool. Before she could question his antics---or possibly yell at him for scaring her---though, he continued on, oblivious to her own souring mood.

"Hey, Utau! You said you leave tomorrow, right?!"

She glared. "What of it?"

He was completely unfazed. Curse him. "We should have one last ramen-eating contest!" Curse him to… say what?

After the initial confusion wore off, Utau gave him a look that surely perfectly conveyed an unspoken, "Not interested." But Kuukai just kept on grinning, sure of his own success and filled to the brim with energy and confidence.

The blonde's competitive streak ran deep, so, against her will, she found herself agreeing. "The stakes?"

His smile grew wider, longer, and she found herself thinking she was Alice, walking right into the Cheshire Cat's tricks. "The winner gets a kiss from the loser."

Between her competitive side and her girly side, girly won out. In spades. Utau blushed down to her roots, and couldn't even manage an about-face to hide it. "W-what?!"

The boy leaned back on his haunches, a predator waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on his flustered prey. "You heard me."

The blonde tried desperately to regain control of the situation. "L-let me guess---you spent all night thinking of how to freak me out most, and that's what you came up with?!"

He actually paused for a moment, but then he came back in full force. "Actually, no! I thought of it just now! And while getting you upset wasn't part of the plan, I agree it should've been---you're cute when you're angry!" To accompany this statement, he winked.

The heat spread across her face like fire. Given this information, it was clear that he just wanted some sort of special goodbye before she left for the longest two months of both their lives. If she was honest with herself, she… kind of wanted it, too. The perfect ending, so to speak.

She regained her composure a fraction and ordered new bowls for the both of them. "You're on, Kuukai. But let me tell you---I expect to win."

His smile was so wide and genuine and happy, her heart felt like it would thump right out of her chest. "So do I!"

And really---they both won, in the end.

Special Thanks To:

AlleluiaElizabeth; Amulet Misty; and black neko hime for reviewing so many of my chapters and just generally inspiring me to continue on. You rock, guys!

AN- So, that's it. The final chapter. I hope you all liked it. Oh, yeah, one little thing: I kind of secretly think of this chapter as being named Breaking the Trend, because, well, it does just that. As one last challenge to all of you, can anyone tell me how it differs from the others? It's been a blast writing this, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did! ^_^