This little story ends here. Thank you for reading this far. I am sorry for suddenly dumping four chapters and ending with them. Thank you for your nice words and reviews. You will be thanked properly at the end of this.
I went back to the shrine to retrieve my things left there. It was just the bag and my tea set, not much. I hugged Kusakabe-san, thanked him for all the things he did for me while I was there. I got lost in his large bulky self.
He was sorry he could not tell me more about my master, good or bad. The contacts in Hong Kong considered that a good sign, rather than a bad one. I thanked him for going through the trouble, all the same.
I went back to the apartment to put down my things. I sighed. I had to go back to cooking for myself, to being alone in a lonely room.
If I don't sound like someone who had just been kissed, please forgive me.
I honestly did not know how to feel. A kiss would not change things. He still had to leave for Italy, he was not sure when he would be back. I still had to stay where Lambo was, so as not to ruin Tsuna-nii's plans. And when Tsuna-nii's plans come to effect, we would still be separated. I could not be with him, he could not be with me. Worst of all, I did not know how to explain this awkward situation to Lambo, poor Lambo. My best friend, who was a nice boy past all his bluster and all his girl-chasing ways.
I love my best friend, I do. But he is my best friend, my childhood friend. I know him too well, and I remember all the games we played with each other and at each other. I know there are people who marry their childhood friends, but I don't know if I will be one of them. I don't know.
He also knew me too well. It showed when I opened the door to Tsuna-nii's house.
" 'Kuso. You've done it." He sighed, frowned, and bowed his head.
"Sorry." It was all I could say.
He took a deep breath, repeated his "to...le..rate..." sequence for a few times. He raised his head and looked at me with one closed eye. "Can't I change your mind?"
I shook my head.
I shook my head again.
He sighed. "Oh, well. You know where to find me if he makes you cry again. I'll knock him into next week for you." He looked away from me.
I was more worried when he was not blustery. This was one of those times. "Lambo, you're still my best friend."
"Yeah, sure, whatever you say," he kept his eyes away from me.
"Nothing will change between us, alright?"
"Of course something will, you idiot," he said, quietly. "Something already did."
"And I can't do anything about it."
"I'm sorry, I'm really sorry..."
He sighed one last time as he grinned at me. "Wanna lollipop? Maman bought some. I could use one right now."
It was his best answer to life's painful times. "Strawberry, please," I said.
He turned his back to me and faced the hall.
"Lambo. I do love you."
"Just not that way, right?" He did not turn.
"At least that's clear. Now let's be friends and have those lollipops, before I cry in the hall."
My sentiments exactly.
Life went back to normal, as before the sakura spring began and ended. I went to school. My best friend sometimes went to school and sometimes he didn't. Too often our fighting skills were practiced on the streets in broad daylight or at night. The battles were still going on. Nothing seems to have changed about me.
My friend continues to be my close companion, and yet something has changed. He no longer teases me about being her girlfriend. He no longer tells me about the other girls. Sometimes he goes off alone to eat or walk around (which is why his younger self often switches with just him, and me coming from somewhere else). I know, it should not be that way, but at least we are still friends. He will understand, I hope he does, someday.
I'm working again at the ramen house. Kawahira-san is still hard to find for the deliveries, but he is still easy to please, I am grateful.
It was on one of those days when I got a delivery order to Takeshi-nii's house, of all places. I headed over there with a bowl of our best ramen.
Takeshi-nii was the one who met me. "I've been missing these! Thanks!"
But as he handed me the money from his pocket, I also felt a small piece of paper under all the money. I looked at him, wondering what that was.
He grinned at me. "Tsuna told me to give it to you, to give to someone. You know who."
I did not understand.
"If this works, I'll be having more ramen, and that would be so nice," he smiled. "And it would be better for you, too."
I still did not understand. But Takeshi-nii would not tell me anything more, just grinned his sad grin at me.
I opened the paper, but it was full of gibberish in Japanese, probably some encrypted message. And I did not know the code. Surely a coded message would not be sent to Lambo; Lambo was always directly told what he needed to know. It was the same with me. So who would Tsuna-nii want the message sent to?
When I reached the ramen shop again, I found another delivery waiting for me. This time it was to the shrine. Which was no big deal, despite the stairs one needed to climb, because Kusakabe-san did order from our shop once in a while. Although Kusakabe-san ordering for the seafood-type ramen was rather odd. Maybe he just wanted variety. I headed off to the shrine anyway.
I knocked at the kitchen door as usual when I delivered the noodles, hoping they were still warm after the climb up those steps.
The door opened, and there he stood in his dark kimono and with dark straight hair, smiling at me.
I bowed to him with a smile and greeted as well. "Your noodles, sir."
I somehow managed to land the bowl of noodles in the kitchen table, and the piece of paper from Takeshi-nii into his hand.
"Na li de hua."
He gave me a small piece of paper. I unfolded it, just to see to whom I should be sending it to, but I found no instructions and no coded messages. Just a rather long message, to me. My cheeks grew red as I took up the delivery box to leave.
"Take care of yourself."
"I ask the same of you."
This was how we saw each other, how we greeted each other, until times could be better. It was not the best arrangement, but for now it would have to suffice.
Soon we could be together, like we were that spring.
(I know this is no longer legal, but please don't report me.) Thank you for the reviews: Garowyn, hp23, CloudGuardian18, Yagami Vongola (who even went to the blog to read it), Princess_one99five, Mishimoto Sakura, just-a-web-artist, gracymarei22, and LavanderSkies. I apologize for not replying to you all individually. But I sincerely thank you for all the kind words and the support.
Thank you for reading this little story and for liking it, my first multichap for this fandom.