Title: Count to Ten

Summary: So this was how it started. AU Shinji/Takako; Hiroki/Takako

Genre: General/Angst

Rating: K+

00. maybe this is just a hoax or some form of tattletale we've heard;

"What a surprise."

She took a seat farthest from him in the set of the bleachers upfront the open barren soccer field. At day, these bleachers were stairs of losses and wins; but at night, they were creating magic.

Or so they said.

She ignored him but they boy stared at her.

"Don't tell me you believed what they said about some magical shit in this place?"

He continued his staring and this unnerved her. Finally she broke her silence, expressionless and uncaring, directly to the boy's face.

"Were you?"

She never meant to ask; it sounded more like of a statement anyway. But she did not quite get how this particular boy had the guts to ask her what she was there for, when ninety-nine percent probability would conclude he also had the same reason.

He was still staring at her when he said, "Moments ago, yes."

He only returned his gaze back at the open field when she remained silent.

"But now, I'm here to disprove this shit."

01. maybe we should or should not or should have listened, but anyway;

Indeed, she was never a believer of myths and whatever fuckery the girls could conjure from their fairy tale like fantasies.

She briefly wondered though, why it was the fifth time that she was here again, with the same old boy she met a few days ago.

Inside her head, she cursed him. The tales said that if you waited for the person you love in this place, he'd come for you—some sort of fairy or whatever entity would draw that person to this longing someone (her and the other fools, perhaps) because the wishes of their heart were heard.

Or really, so they said.

She wondered if the magic, if it had existed to begin with, repelled Hiroki from coming here because someone was also waiting for someone else. She wondered if the time it would take for Hiroki to come here for her was doubled, because someone was also waiting for someone else. She wondered if she was also now doubting, or disproving this shit, quote unquote, because someone was also waiting for someone else (while disproving this shit, or to prove it, or whatever—he would win either way.)

She also wondered whom he was waiting for.

But she never dared to ask.

For the fifth time in this togetherness, they still remained silent; same old, same old, until one of them would get hungry and leave the other to chum with the grasshoppers in the cold night.

02. maybe we are supposed to be here at 28th of september in this year, or the next, or the next lifetime, or the next lunar calendar the next genius would next create;

She had not been looking, no. But she would not miss the fact that from henceforth that fifth night she left him, he had been endlessly looking at her with that weird smile on his face.

It was not malicious; it was not a smile that preceded his reputation. It was a serene one. It was a weird smile.

"Could you please stop the fuck you're doing?"

He smiled widely at her and looked away. But after five minutes he went back to his staring again—was this some sort of tactic to drive her away, well she, or he, could only wish.

On the eleventh night, she pretended to ignore the fact that she had been looking to know that he was at it again.

03. maybe like some sort of entity or magic I throw my drinks at you and my fries and my ketchup just to get to hold you instead;

She had enough. She moved closer to him and without any form of notice whatsoever, she poured her fresh chocolate drink on his shirt. It made a nasty spill on his uniform.

He frowned.

"Are you going to apologize?"

"No."

She was still not back to her place when he scooted closer to where she stood—she realized it was the first time both of them shattered that private space bubble they entitled themselves via an unspoken agreement ever since they discovered each other in this place. Well, they had not been talking since anyway.

She also realized that was the second time she heard his voice—after fifteen nights.

"Why not?"

"You have been staring at me. I do not like it one bit."

He crossed his arms on his chest.

"What, you're pretty. You're nice to look at."

She did know that but, "And here I am trying my very best to breathe the same polluted air as you. If you try that again, you're dead."

On the twenty second night, she pretended to ignore the fact that she had been looking to know that he was at it again…and again.

04. maybe we could work some sort of peaceful compromise;

She had thought of not going there anymore.

It made no sense actually. Hiroki was not coming—she frowned when she saw he was talking to Kayoko again—and that nerve of a man; he was all too much to take.

And so she wondered why she was there again.

Maybe she was still hoping Hiroki would still come for her.

She absentmindedly sat on a place farther from her usual seat, closer to her company, an invasion of private space for the second time around occurring to them unconsciously. She had been gazing at where Hiroki still stood, waiting.

Maybe he was also waiting for her to come to him.

She stood up when she noticed that Hiroki had started walking at her direction.

She ignored the fast beating of her heart, the wild pulsing of her veins—the same old familiar reactions she oh so very knew when Hiroki was nearby (or when he was talking to her, or when he was walking her home, or when he was comforting her in his strong arms…)

"Don't look."

She heard a voice and felt irritated, "The fuck?"

"Don't look," he said, and he stood up just as fast as he said those words, his arms stretching out maybe to cover her eyes or rape her or whatever—but it was too late.

Hiroki had been talking to Kayoko and was now walking away…

Maybe she was also disproving the magic, this shit, or the myth or whatever fuckery.

She felt warm hands leave her body but the presence of the boy who almost saved her—she almost puked at the thought—remained still.

The first threat of tears left her eyes but she did not wipe them away. She did not even know she was crying.

"Told you so."

And those tears turned to ire as she turned to him and gave him a hard punch on his jaw, her tears turned to anger as she scratched his arms with her long nails and punched him all over again, and her tears turned to pure hatred as she plummeted his stronger form down to the bottom of the bleachers, into the wild grass, her on top of him only hitting and hitting and hitting as hard as she could—

--until the sun had set and she remained sitting on his flat stomach, remorse not registering on her brain for the bloody mess on his face that she caused.

And then she cried.

05. maybe they are playing a cruel joke and maybe we cannot laugh;

The pangs of remorse came when she went there back again (again she did not know why she came back) and she saw him with bandages all over his face, with that serene smile she had grown accustomed to, obviously waiting for her to arrive.

She absentmindedly sat on a place farther from her usual seat, closer to her company, an invasion of private space for the sixth time around occurring to her unconsciously.

He was still looking at her.

When she said sorry, it was almost inaudible and he could not believe her when she said it because her beautiful aristocratic face remained expressionless, as if forming words did not require moving a muscle. He caught her apology, inaudible as it was, and he marked that moment in his unwritten diary.

"I'm sorry…"

"Shinji."

He said his own name, as if she did not know it, trying to tell her who he was and that she better remembered it.

"I'm sorry…Shinji."

She looked up at him for the first time. When their eyes met, God, for the first time, his heart is swelling in pride.

"Takako. That's my name."

They looked at the open field over them just like the first time.

Uncle, I've finally found the nice girl.

06. maybe you like me, maybe not, maybe you like me, maybe not;

He felt like he already lost this battle with the bleacher entity.

He felt like she had finally arrived.

They were eating mango crepes this time. Yesterday it was the caramel sundae favorite. Yesterday yesterday it was her homemade onigiri. Yesterday yesterday yesterday it was wicked oreos. Yesterday yesterday yesterday yesterday…

"—but that's what we do during Christmas anyway…hey are you listening?"

He mentally scolded himself.

"Yes, yes, I was. Your prettiness distracts me from time to time though."

She ignored his compliment and continued babbling.

He felt like he finally understood that this was what his Uncle meant.

He felt like he was no longer waiting for anyone, and yes he had lost, but then he remembered what about her and her waiting?

So, he felt like this was short-lived victory after all.

07. maybe maybe maybe, I do too;

On the thirty-seventh night she asked him;

"Do you like me?"

On the thirty-seventh night he answered;

"Yes, I do."

08. maybe I lost and you won so now how do we count this when we prove it and disprove it at the same time;

She did not come for weeks.

He wondered if it was because he told her he liked her, or maybe she got tired of waiting. He wondered if she already stopped waiting when he saw her approach the bleachers…once again.

He wondered if Hiroki had already come for her by the radiant smile on her face.

He wondered if he could tell.

"Hey."

She brought him hash browns and strawberry yogurt.

"I had not seen you in a long time. Have you been well?"

He accepted it.

"Yes. Have you?"

She did not answer.

"So, that person you were waiting for? I never got to ask who she was…"

"She had come."

Takako's heart skipped a beat and two.

"…Really?"

He only smiled at her. She pretended to ignore the fact that she was looking when she saw that he was smiling a sad smile.

"Cool. Hiroki…he—told me he liked me too. You knew, right?"

"Yes. Did you come to tell me that?"

He took a bite on the hash brown.

"Well, he is waiting for me there. I did tell him I'll go somewhere first. Well, maybe I did come to tell you that."

Almost as fast, she took him in her arms and held on tight. On muffled words, she tried to speak but she did not know what to say. She was thankful at the way he was holding her—she wanted to be nowhere but here. She did not know what to say. She…

"So, introduce me to that girl…is she nice?"

"She is. Just like you, actually."

"Then she must be very nice. I need to meet her soon."

A muffled silence and she held on to him, tighter and tighter and never understanding why she did not want to let go; she only held on to him tighter.

"But she had just slipped me by."

And then she cried.

09. maybe she will come back, and then maybe I won't be waiting;

"Will she come back?"

Uncle, I…

"I hope she does."

…I found the nice girl.

10. maybe you and I are not not meant to be, and we're not not waiting for each other after all;

On the hundred and first night, Takako came back for Shinji.

End.

A/N: Story dedicated to imjuzakyd's fantasy of Hiroki/Takako. I TRIED MY BEST BUT THAT'S IT. It ends Shinji/Takako still anyway. SO. Blegh.

And to the ever lovely patient always there supporting readers, Myahra and SkyLilies.

Pardon for any OOC-ness (I tried my best picturing them in angst, really), grammar (unbeta'ed forever) and everything else that needed pardoning. (edited: OMG it's so unbeta'ed I tried taking care of the most obvious of errors, but whatever, that's it!)

Shameless pimping of Something Rhetorical, last two chapters and it's done!

Read and review? Cheers!