Hi. Gratitude to derranged and kana for their reviews.

Disclaimer: I do not own Gals.

"Really?" Ran's eyes widened in awe as they all sat together in the usual place…the three of them.

"Yes."

"Oh my God…I'm happy for you…" Miyu said and hugged her friend. "Wouldn't this be great? You and Otohata-kun would see each other often."

Aya gave them a wry smile. She's getting the hang of pretending the mention of the name does not affect her at all. "I'd go there for a study…not for him."

There was an awkward silence that passed between the three before Ran cleared her throat and eyed Aya seriously.

"May I ask you something?"

Aya nodded. "Go ahead."

"How did you take it?"

"Take what?"

"Don't play with me, Aya. I know you heard about this rumor going on…about me and Otohata. You did not in any way believe that, did you? Because if you did – "

"Ran," Miyu hushed her friend while Aya leaned on the chair and listened casually. No sign of any emotions in her face…this thing about her…it was what bugged Miyu…it was what scared her…Aya is starting to change…

"You want me to be honest?" Aya asked casually…so casual that even Ran was unnerved by it…

"Yes."

"I did believe it."

There was hurt in Ran's face and anger as well as she stood up and reach for Aya across her. She held her friend's shoulder. "You can't be serious! Do you always have to believe everything you hear from people? How shallow is our friendship Aya? Is that the reason why you are starting to change?"

Before, when Ran does that to Aya, the latter would cry and would admit how weak she was…yet she took everything coolly now…

"You questioned our friendship because I happen to believe the rumor going around," she commented. "But did it occur to you that it might be true?"

Angry at the answer, Ran shook her friend. "And that's exactly why I am questioning it. Why do you believe other people's words than us? Otohata does not like me. He likes you."

Aya gently removed Ran's hand on her shoulder. She reached for her drink. "That's where you are wrong Ran. He does like you. You said you want honesty, I'll give you that. He admitted that to me right on Valentine's Day. And if it makes you feel any better, I learned about that even before the rumor started going around."

Ran and Miyu stared gave her a dumbfounded look. Seriously? Rei likes Ran?

The latter shook her head in disbelief. "That's not true."

"It is…"

Miyu clasped her hands tightly and studied her before an uncertain smile curved her lips. "Aya…you're starting to change…"

Aya gave Miyu a questioning look. "In what way?"

"It was a good thing you are starting to stand on your own feet…and yet…it is unnerving…you seldom hang out with us – "

"Because I have tutorials and jobs."

"Yeah I know that…but…you're slipping away…"

Aya gave her worried friend a reassuring smile. "Trust me…I am not slipping away…"

"Who broke it? You or him?" Ran asked seriously.

"Me."

Again, the revelation shook the two. Aya did it? They were sort of expecting her to answer Rei…they never expected Aya to make the first move and break it with him…she always loved the guy since the day she developed a crush on her…

"Why? I thought you love him…"

She nodded. "I've grown just as the two of you did. I came to realize one thing after I learned he likes you…"

"You're not hating me for this, are you?" Ran asked again.

"Believe me, I'm not. As I was saying…it was unfair for me…I have him confined in a relationship which does not have any direction to follow. I would be honest and admit that part of the reason why I broke with him is because he likes someone else…another reason is that I am giving him back the freedom I stole from him."

"You're talking nonsense," Ran said angrily while Aya stood up.

"Maybe I am…but you were never in that kind of situation Ran. You never know what it feels like…knowing you are with a man who loves someone else and yet you kept him chained to you."

The next thing Ran did was to slap her friend but Aya held her wrist. There was an understanding in her eyes and no fury at all…she just looked at her with that bitter smile…

"How could you…" Ran trembled in controlled fury.

"You're blaming Ran?" Miyu asked in astonishment.

Aya released Ran's wrist and gathered her things. She glanced at them. "Did I ever say I blamed her? As I have said, the reason why I broke with him…the half reason is he likes someone else…I did not say Ran is at fault…I hope you see the difference."

"Aya…"

She walked away now and saw Yuuya and Rei standing in the doorway. She wondered if they heard everything. She gave them a casual smile and bowed her head a little as acknowledgement.

"Aya-chan…" from Yuuya's voice, it was evident they heard what they were talking about. Rei's face was impassive as usual but Aya did not mind it at all…it was part of moving on…to never allow him to affect her so much…

"Hello Otohata-kun, second place…"

There was an awkward silence that followed while Rei studied her cool façade. He glanced over her to see Ran and Miyu looking at their friend with a confused look. He glanced at her again but she was not looking at him.

"Yo," he finally spoke. "I see you are leaving."

She nodded. "I am."

His eyes met Yuuya's gaze and he silently gave him a roll of the eye. "Want me to walk with you?"

She offered a polite smile and shook her head. "No. I can manage. Thanks for the offer anyway."

He did not listen and stepped out already. "Where to? I've got my motorbike with me."

And it struck them both that she never rode on his motorbike yet. Ran did.

Aya shook her head. "Otohata-kun, I appreciate your kind offer…but I'd like to walk on my own. Besides, I've got a part-time job later tonight."

Rei sighed and shrugged. There is no point insisting if she does not want it. But he gave her a cool gaze. "If you say so…" then he walked passed her but he stopped when they were back to back. He was looking at Yuuya, Miyu and Ran while Aya was looking across the street. "You act cool and strong…yet I wonder…what lies behind that façade Aya?"

The question surprised her but she did not turn her back as she continued walking now while Rei tucked his hands on his pocket and watched her walk away. Yuuya stepped outside and they watched her go.

"She changed a lot…" he commented.

"Yeah I agree," Miyu said from behind. Ran stood beside her. Rei sighed and gave them a dry look.

"Really? I wonder about that," he said and gave the retreating figure a meaningful look.

"You know…I heard about this rumor," Ran started. Trust her to always be upfront.

"Yeah?" he said lazily. "What about it?"

"All this tale about you being in love with me is just a joke, right?" she asked. "I can just laugh it off."

He gave her a look. "Take it any way you want."

Ran beamed. "Then I will laugh it off."

"But I'm worried about Aya…" Miyu spoke.

"She'll be fine. But Otohata, you really should work it out with her." Ran suggested but Rei had already entered the café and was not able to hear what she said. Ran scowled. "That guy…grr…"

Inside, Yuuya sat across his friend and studied him. He wondered if he too had fallen for Ran…with a girl like Aya…Rei is an idiot for letting her go…

Rei was just resting his arms on the table while staring outside like he usually did. He glanced at his friend and raised his brow. "Out with it."

Yuuya blinked. "Eh?"

"You have that look…"

Yuuya grinned cheekily then scratched his head. "I'm just wondering how Aya changed so suddenly. You heard the conversation she had with Ran and Miyu. You did screw it up, didn't you?"

Rei just gave him a wry look but said nothing while Yuuya sighed. This is something difficult about Rei. You can hardly make him talk.

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Aya clutched her bag tightly as she stood just outside Meishou High. Calm down. You can do this. There is no need to be afraid.

"Oh? It's Hoshino," a voice startled her enough to make her turn and find Mami's best friend. Said person moved towards her.

"Harue."

"So you're the representative from your school eh?"

Aya just gave her a weak smile. "Yeah. I was not expecting you to be here. I was thinking maybe it would be Mami."

Harue chuckled. "That's exactly why I was chosen than her. The principal knew Yuuya's her boyfriend and the purpose for us here is to study their behavior around opposite sex. Mami would definitely just hang out with Yuuya. And you might do the same…"

"Oh?"

Harue nodded. "Yes but I heard rumors about Otohata liking Kotubuki…seems you and Mami are on the same boat eh?"

"Well…" Aya could hardly find the words to say.

Harue was not so dense so she changed the subject. "How about we go inside now? I wonder who is the third one."

Harue entered the school gate and Aya followed closely. Since they rarely have girls inside the school, all heads turned and gave them a look. Some whistled.

"Jeez…these guys are impossible. They only get to not see a girl inside the school yet they act as if they never saw one in their entire life," a voice from behind Aya said and the two girls turned to find a blond girl trailing behind them. Said girl smiled shyly. "Hello. I'm Masaki and you two might be my companions here."

Aya nodded and smiled. "Yes. I'm Aya. Aya Hoshino and this one here is Harue."

"Nice to meet you," Harue said with a wave of her hand. "Why don't we keep going?"

"Where to?" Masaki asked.

"Principal's office. We're instructed to go see him first."

"Hi girls," one guy said and gave them an overall look as he licked his tongue over his lips. The three ignored him while the other guys laughed at the one who spoke.

"Wow. They are indeed all boys," Masaki muttered.

Aya and Harue did not comment as they continued walking towards the building. They still keep on getting unwanted attention from the boys.

"Would you look at that…the one in between is sure a babe," one commented as he referred to Aya.

His companion nodded. "A chic indeed. I wonder what they are doing here."

Yuuya was actually looking outside the window when he spotted them and he frowned. Rei is in the music room. His class starts on the second period anyway and he usually hang there.

"I wonder who they are," his classmate said as he looked at them as well.

Yuuya did not answer as he rushed outside to meet his friends. He waved his hand as he saw the three enter the building now. "Yo Aya-chan!!!"

A smile curved her lips as she spotted him and she waved back cheerfully. "Second place."

The name had kinda grown into him ever since Ran started calling him second place instead of his name Yuuya Asou. He stopped in front of the three to catch his breath while Harue gave him a shake of the head.

"What are you doing here?" he asked while ignoring the third person.

"We're studying here," Harue answered. "We were recommended by the principal."

"Speaking of which, can you lead us there?" Aya asked with her soft smile.

He glanced at his watch then nodded. "Yeah sure…no problem…"

"By the way, meet Masaki," Aya introduced to the awestruck girl beside her. "She's from another school recommended here as well."

Masaki cleared her throat and extended her hand. "Hello. It's nice to meet you."

Harue and Aya exchanged glances at the obvious adoration in her eyes. Yuuya shook it with a friendly smile on his face.

"Yuuya Asou."

"Masaki, I hate to say the guy is taken so…you know…" Harue said with a shrug and embarrassed, Masaki withdrew her hands with a flushed face and bowed to Harue once. "I'm so sorry…I did not mean to…I'm sorry…"

The three chuckled until Aya placed a gentle hand on the girl's shoulder. "Harue is not second place's girlfriend. Her name is Mami."

The mention of the name frightened her. "Mami? As in Mami Honda?" she groaned before sighing in relief. "I'm really sorry nonetheless. It is just that I wanted to meet him and Otohata. They are way too cool."

They were starting to attract attention even more as the boys inside the classroom peeked on the door and watched. Harue exchanged glances with Yuuya at the mention of the name. They gave a furtive glance towards Aya but nothing on her expression revealed anything.

"So, how about we go now?" he suggested and led the way.

"Oh? Yuuya, you know the chic?" one boy asked as he now entered the building and followed them.

Yuuya glanced over his shoulder and smiled. "Aya and Harue are my friends."

"What's the dark-haired girl's name?" he asked and whistled towards Aya. It was a rude behavior and Yuuya frowned at the man who had the reputation of being a notorious womanizer at his young age.

"If you are interested with her, back off," there was a warning behind his tone which Aya had never heard before from the friendly guy.

Nakamura raised his brow towards the second popular guy in town. "I heard you have a girl named Honda. Aren't you being selfish? You wouldn't want to spare me that chic?"

"No."

They were starting to create a scene so early in the morning and the three girls especially Masaki found it interesting. Aya is less than thrilled since she's the subject of the conversation.

"Oh?" he moved towards Aya while Aya stood her ground. "Would you like to go out with me, babe?"

Aya offered a smile then shook her head. "Sorry but you are not my type."

Yuuya chuckled while the others laughed at Nakamura who was giving Aya a meaningful look. He took another step and tried to hold her arm but one hand stopped him. He glanced to find Otohata staring at him with his usual detached features. Nakamura huffed. When it comes to looks and popularity, he would definitely lose to this guy and Asou.

But if it comes to women he had had in his life…the two would lose to him…and he made it a point to add the chic on his list.

"I was wondering what the commotion is all about," he said in his cool voice then released his hold on Nakamura. "You heard the girl. You're not her type. Class is about to start so why not go to it?"

"That's rare from you, Otohata," Nakamura smirked. "You're usually the type who does not concern yourself with the other's business."

Rei gave him a cold look. "It so happened that the one you are about to touch is my girl."

Everyone gasped at the remark. They heard some rumors about Rei having a girlfriend some months back. So the beautiful girl is his girl eh? The others nodded their head as they studied Aya. If it comes to look…it seems the two are fit for each other…and it's their first time to hear Otohata claim a girl as his.

Nakamura raised his hand in the air. "I get it."

Rei nodded his head. "I'm glad you do."

He then turned to the girls and Yuuya who was giving him a weird look. He raised his hand in mid-air. "Yo."

For a moment, he saw something in her eyes…shock perhaps because he still claimed her as his…even if they already broke up. Then it was instantly gone and masked with coolness. He shook his head. The girl is definitely starting to become a fake. And he somehow felt guilty that he contributed to that change.

"What an entrance," Harue said with a shake of her head. "You're one hell of a guy, Otohata."

"So they say," he turned to Aya. "What's up?"

"They were sent from their school to study here. I don't why," Yuuya answered for Aya. "I was about to lead them to the principals' office. You might want to do me a favor and lead them instead?"

Rei gave his friend a dry look. That's a pretty lame excuse to get me to talk with her.

"Are you really his girlfriend?" Masaki asked in awe as she held Aya's shoulder. "You're so lucky."

Aya just smiled while Yuuya and Harue observed Rei while they all waited for Aya's answer to the question. It was a good thing the others had already dispersed and left only the five of them there.

"Was," Aya finally answered. She ignored the confused look from Masaki. "Let's go?"

Rei silently shook his head in amusement. Maybe she was not aware still but he noted the slight tremor in her voice. He turned to Yuuya. "Why don't you lead Harue and the other one? Aya and I will follow along."

Yuuya gladly took the meaning and held Harue and Masaki's hand as he led them along the hallway while Aya and Rei stood there alone.

"Thank you," she started casually. "But you did not have to interfere."

He smirked. "You don't know the guy. What does Yuuya mean by recommended?" he moved and held her arm to get her to start moving as well.

"We are to study here for a couple of months. That's all," she answered.

"Really huh?"

"Yeah."

They walked in silence once again before he glanced at her. "Do you still not want to talk about it?"

"About what?"

He gave her a cold look. "You're becoming a fake as days passed by. Are you aware of that?"

She gave him a startled look and blinked. Was she that transparent to him still? That's what she's trying to amend right?

She bunched her fist then stared at him. She opened her mouth to speak but chose against it then she walked stiffly again while Rei shook his head once.

"I never felt confined in our relationship," he said which stopped her but she did not look back. Rei shrugged. "I just thought I'd like you to know that."

She nodded her head and continued walking again while Rei tucked his hands in his pocket and followed slowly. Is there a possible way to reverse back the time so he would take back his words?

Or maybe not to take his words back but to at least amend it? Honestly, it was only when she's slipping away from them did he realize that he wanted her presence around him. Then again, being the detached one, he never let anyone know about it. He wondered if he is just like her now…hiding under his cold façade as well…

When in fact…deep inside…he wanted to do things differently now…when in fact, deep inside…he just wanted her back to him…that it hurt when she broke up with him…and it hurt even more to realize he was the one who caused her great pain…

When they followed the group entered the principal's office, Yuuya glanced at his friend as they walked back to their classroom. "See what I mean now?"

He gave him a look but did not say anything at all. He is still pondering over things. Yuuya sighed. "You're not the only one aware of it you know. I can see it too. And before it's too late…why not…do something about it…reverse everything and be the man this time."

He gave his friend a smug look. "That's a serious tone you are using on me," he said with a smirk. "Shouldn't you do things differently as well? Between you and Mami? After all, Mami still thinks you like Ran or do you still?"

Yuuya looked confused at the question. "I don't know," he admitted then turned to him. "How about you…don't you like Aya?"

"How is like different from love?" he asked with a frown. "I don't like her. I like Kotobuki. I like Yamazaki. As for Aya? I think I love her."

Yuuya was giving his friend a dumbfounded look and Rei was shocked himself. Did he just say that? Then he turned at Yuuya seriously. "Say one word about this and I will make you pay," he threatened. Yuuya just nodded his head while trying to get over the fact that Rei had just admitted his feelings openly…and seriously…

Then a smile grazed his lips as he hurried to his friend. "So, you are going to make a move then? To get her back?"

Rei's face was impassive as usual as he turned to him. "Like I said before…I don't know where to pick the pieces up. I was the one who threw away everything even if she was the one who broke with me."

Yuuya patted his shoulder. "Then you should start looking for those pieces…for the things you missed…for everything…"

"Hn."

"And you and Aya would start afresh."