IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR PREVIOUS READERS!

IMPORTANT!

So, for previous followers of "A Step Forward" (now called "Running Forward"), you guys must be pretty mad and/or confused right about now, right?

Well, there is an explanation.

I got bored and writer blocked. This led to my plan to totally rearrange the path the story was going but then I settled to do a one-shot instead. The Rin running away concept is the same but I guess you can say it's pretty different after that.

Thank you for sticking through if you did! I was originally planning to end the whole caboodle altogether until I thought of the readers that had liked this story. So thank you and I apologize for my irresponsibility. I hope you enjoy this one-shot version just as much as the original.

Enjoy~

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"Hey, Rin."

"Yeah?"

"I li-"

"Ack! Wait, give me a head start."

"No way."

"Stay right there!"

"But I like you!"

"Argh!"

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Miku couldn't help but be amused at Rin's condition. The blonde was splayed on the bench in the tealette's front yard looking tired and extremely red while pumping oxygen into her lungs. "Rin, you look tired, why?" Miku already knew the answer to the question but asked for the sake of asking.

"Len."

"Mm," Miku hummed in response. She knew it.

"Curse him for being on cross country. He has horse legs, I tell you, horse legs!" Rin let out a long, exasperated, completely worn-out sigh as she slumped across the bench. Miku laughed.

"Pretty surprising actually. Who would've guessed those chicken legs could keep you running circles for half an hour, probably longer if you hadn't lost him," Miku pointed out. Rin grunted in response and flipped onto her stomach.

"I don't know why he's so persistent. I told him I'm not ready for a relationship. I can barely build friendships," Rin frowned.

Rin was shy, extremely shy to the point where Miku created a category called the "Rin level," the highest level of shyness. Rin disliked being in the limelight and couldn't hold a conversation for more than five minutes with a person she barely knew. Her thoughts were slow and often came out incoherent; she usually settled for making noises and head gestures while looking anywhere but the person's face. This subconscious tendency to avoid people made it difficult to create friendships even when she really wanted to. She wasn't antisocial, just timid.

"Mm, that statement is invalid," Miku waved a finger in Rin's face.

Rin moved onto her side to face Miku. "Why? If I can't make platonic relationships, how could I sustain a romantic one?"

"Rin, Rin, Rin, so simple and innocent."

"What? Just answer the question."

Miku smiled knowingly, "Mm, you'll learn eventually."

Rin pouted and rested her head on her arm, "I don't get you sometimes, Miku." The older girl laughed.

"Wisdom comes with age, or so they say anyways," Miku mused.

"...you just like confusing me."

"That too...so what number does this confession make?"

"15," Rin sat up, "and counting," she added. No doubt he would confess again tomorrow.

"You never know, he might stop," Miku pointed out. Rin blinked slowly as she considered the idea.

"You think so?"

Miku smiled slyly, "Why? Having second thoughts?"

Rin frowned, "No, well, I don't know," she sighed frustrating, "can we change the subject?"

"Okay, weren't you going to meet Len for lunch?"

"You're still talking about Len."

"Well, you're going to meet him. How're you going to act?"

Rin sat up, "Normally, like I always do."

"Aren't you hurting Len's feelings?" Rin blinked and started chewing her bottom lip, a habit of hers when she felt guilty. She never considered that.

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Rin stood awkwardly at the food court in the mall. She leaned against a pillar and looked around for her blond friend. After leaving Miku's home, Rin couldn't stop thinking about what Miku had said: Aren't you hurting Len's feelings?

She felt completely stupid for not realizing this sooner. How could she have not realized? Why didn't she realize?

"Rin!" Rin blinked and saw Len jogging towards her. She had a mini heart attack.

"L-Len! What are you doing here?" Len raised a brow.

"Whaddya mean? We're having lunch together," Len poked Rin's forehead much to her annoyance.

"Oh, right, lunch." She batted away Len's hand.

"Is there anywhere particular you want to go?" Len asked. Rin shook her head.

"Mm, not really, you?"

"Yeah, that new arcade by the book store."

"I thought we were having lunch?"

"Yeah, but I want to stop by there, y'know, work up an appetite through some hardcore gaming," Len said and goofily pumped his arms. Rin laughed and the two set off.

"Ugh, what kind of messed up machine is this?" Len whined as he childishly stomped his foot. Rin grinned triumphantly and held her hammer above her head.

"The great Rin Kagamine owns Lenny-boy in a game of whack-a-mole, haha, in your face," Rin laughed proudly. Len frowned and inserted two quarters into the machine.

"Revenge match!"

"You're just wasting quarters, sir," Rin smirked. They went through three more rounds before Len claimed the machine too weak to handle his so-called "awesomeness" and so the two started a set of new games.

"Hey you, are you like the queen of video games or something? This is just wrong, I've only won two games against you, two!" Len glared accusingly at his female companion. Rin was surprised herself that out of twenty-seven games Len had only won twice seeing as how Len came to arcades much more often than Rin did. She thought his "veteran skills" would give him the upper hand.

"And that second one was only cause you batted away my gun," Rin grinned.

"Potato, Pahtato, want a drink?" Len offered as he pointed to the vending machines in the corner.

"Yes please, water's fine," Rin handed Len two quarters but he waved his hand.

"It's a gentleman's duty to pay for a lady," Len mocked bowed.

"Pft, since when were you a gentleman?" Rin asked. Len grinned and walked off.

Rin sat herself on a nearby bench and sighed. Playing games for so long tired her out and the arcade, although new, was rather stuffy and crowded. She started to pick at the hem of her shorts when her conversation with Miku came back. Could what she was doing with Len right now be considered a date? Then, wasn't she leading him on or something? But they always hung out like this even after the confessions started. Rin bit her lip. Maybe she should really knock some sense into Len and tell him to stop. But she had in the past, he just never listened.

"Mrgh, cold!" Rin gave out a small squeal as she felt something cold and wet touch her face.

"You were making a weird face," Len, the culprit, said and handed Rin a water bottle.

"I was? Mm, it was nothing," Rin said and gulped down some water.

"Hey, you like oranges, right?" Len asked as he stared off at a different direction.

"Yeah, why?" Rin followed where Len was looking to spot the biggest, most orange, cutest orange plush doll ever. It was round, soft, and had a little perky face. Love at first sight.

Rin whipped her head towards Len and the male teen laughed at Rin's longing face.

"I assume you want me to win that?" Rin nodded vigorously.

"I would love you for like, ever!" Rin exclaimed and then froze, "What'd I just say?" she asked out-loud.

Len smirked, "I'll hold you to that," and he rushed over to the ring-tossing booth to win the giant orange plush.

"N-n-n-n-n, wait!" Rin wasn't sure whether if she was horrified or embarrassed. Probably both.

".gosh. What did I just say? That's like, oh my, what did I just? Grah!" Rin spazzed, "Rin Kagamine, you're sooooooo stupid. Len has feelings for you so why, why, did you go and say, 'I would love you for like, ever! Tee hee,' " Rin insulted herself with a mockingly high-pitched voice.

Rin groaned some more, stared at Len who was currently failing at getting the plush, and decided to go over and stop Len and explain herself until a hand grabbed her shoulder.

"Hey, it's Rin, I haven't seen you in awhile," the hand said. Rin turned her head to look at the person who stopped her and frowned.

"Tom."

The tall brunette had an easy-going smile and Rin really felt like wiping it off with a wire brush.

"Just 'Tom'? No 'Hi, how's it going?' Just 'Tom', huh?" the male teen smiled. Rin thought it was a cruel smile and she didn't want to be around him any longer than she needed to.

"Yeah, well, nice seeing you, bye," Rin tried to walk away but Tom jerked her back.

"Hey, stop treating me like a bad guy," Tom quickly glanced over Rin, "you've seemed to have grown out of that lil shy persona, didn't ya?" he laughed. Rin pushed his hand off her shoulder and brought her arms closer to her body.

"It's not a persona," Rin almost growled. She needed to leave before Len came back. Rin glanced to her side just to see that Len was still occupied and inwardly sighed in relief before looking back at Tom. She ignored the dull pain in her head.

"Really? I beg to differ," Tom said.

"What do you mean?" Rin warily asked but regretted furthering the conversation right after.

"Well, you acted all cute and shy like you needed protection. But when I got close to you to protect you that persona," Tom spat, "went away and you showed how truly manipulative you were, huh? You just wanted attention, and once I gave it to you that was it. Dumped me like a toy," Tom dropped any friendliness he had and gave Rin a dark look.

Rin allowed herself to fully glare at Tom, "Protection? I never wanted protection, I wanted friendship, but what you were giving me wasn't friendship. You were trying to use me!" Rin defended.

Her memories with Tom in middle school swirled into her mind, and she felt like the world around her was ringing. It was soon after Rin opened up to Miku that Rin decided she would try to befriend more people, upon Miku's insistence. Tom was her lab partner for the semester so Rin thought it would be a good idea to get to know him seeing as how they would have to work with each other. Of course, she was shy and it took awhile, but Tom seemed nice and was understanding of Rin's lack of communication skills. Even after the semester ended they occasionally talked and hung out during lunch, but then Tom became possessive and soon started touching Rin in ways way beyond the limits of friends. Rin remembered trying to avoid him and then discovering that he had been planning to use her the whole time. She had heard from his own mouth and quickly broke ties with him but had to resort to restraining orders.

"Rin."

Oh no. Rin whipped around to see Len. She saw the orange bear in his hand and noticed his grip. The poor bear probably lost all stuffing circulation. Rin remembered when she conferred everything about Tom to Len she had to use a lot of persuasion and begging to keep him from physically doing anything. She cursed her luck. The ringing started growing.

"Would you look at that, you found yourself a new toy. How long will you keep this one around? A day? Week?" Tom jeered and Len stared at him coldly. The need to get herself and Len out of there as quick as possible grew and Rin started feeling desperate.

"Tom, leave Len out of this," Rin said in as firm and strong as a voice she could possibly muster. She tried her best to ignore her growing headache.

"I'm just trying to warn him of what being with you will bring," Tom said almost casually.

"Rin's not like that. You were just being a-" Len was cut off by Rin gripping his arm.

"Come on, Len, let's just go," Rin looked pleadingly at Len. She felt like she was running away but she didn't care. The ringing was becoming too much for her, and she forced herself not to sway from the headache.

"Why? So you can finally show him how much of a sl-" Tom stopped midway when a water bottle smashed into his nose. He didn't stagger but he stared wide-eyed at the fierce, blue eyes in front of him and tried to stop the blood that was slowly trickling from his injured nose. Len was equally as shocked as he stared at the red girl in front of him. She was normally passive and peaceful but the current Rin was anything but peaceful. She was ticked.

"No! That's not it! Len isn't like that to me! He's my friend, nothing more, so stop making up these sick lies and hallucinations and leave me alone!" Rin shouted and ran out of the arcade feeling the gazes of the people around her. The ringing was too loud, too much. She wanted out, so she kept running and letting her blood pump into her legs to carry her away from the noise and away from Tom.

After running for a good fifteen minutes, Rin slowed her pace and leaned on a street light. She was away from the bustling streets and in the residential area. The homes and streets were quiet, and she closed her eyes to savor the peace and waited for the last of the ringing to stop.

I acted too rashly. Rin bitterly thought and bit her bottom lip. She sat on a small brick wall and groaned as she replayed everything.

Ugh, soap drama status much? Okay, maybe not that bad but I should have been more mature. Rin sighed and then jolted up. Len!

"He's my friend...nothing more..." Rin repeated those lines with wide eyes. She realized a mistake: she rejected Len, harshly.

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"Rin, you're going to have to get out from there sometime," Miku sighed exasperatedly. She huffed and glared at the lump on the bed. Her bed.

Honestly, if you're going to lock yourself up at least do it in your own room. Miku thought as she poked the lump with her big toe. She was determined to get the lump out of her house and out making kissy faces with Len, but to do that she first needed the lump to look at her.

"Rin~, Rinny, Rin-Rin, Teenie-mini-Rinnie," Miku taunted. Rin flipped the pink blanket and indignantly glared at the tealette. Miku tried to stifle a laugh which came out as a snort. Honestly, Rin's scowl looked as if someone had stretched out the blonde's face making her chin seem long and her mouth squashed to her nostrils.

"I thought I said never to call me that," the blonde huffed. She wrapped the blanket around her and shuffled to the side to allow room for Miku to sit. The bed sagged with the new weight and Miku leaned against a pile of propped up pillows.

"So, what are you going to do now?" she asked.

"I...don't know. I want to apologize, but I'm scared," Rin buried her head under the blanket which was promptly yanked off by Miku. Rin pouted but merely re-wrapped the blanket around her and brought in her knees. She stared at the karaoke machine in the corner when a thought occurred to her.

"Hey, Miku, you know when you told me that my statement about making relationships was invalid? What did you mean by that?" Rin asked.

Miku, unprepared by the change of topic, hesitated bringing the conversation back to the previous problem before answering, "That it's all part of the learning experience."

"Meaning?"

"Y'know, for life. You have to take chances and learn from mistakes. Relationships, platonic or not, aren't going to come perfect in the first try. No relationship is perfect, there will always be bumps in the road. You just have to keep at it." Miku looked out the window, "Rin, I know you're shy and have trouble creating relationships. Heck, it took me months to get you to open up to me. But that shouldn't stop you from giving Len a chance. It may not work out, but you have to try and branch out of your shell. Staying in it won't make the relationship-building any easier, and you know it," Miku lectured.

"Yeah but..." the recent occurrence with Tom reappeared in her mind and she shuddered.

"Len isn't like Tom," Miku stated firmly. Rin looked at Miku with wide eyes.

"You're expression says it all, that's what you were thinking about weren't you?" Rin nodded and Miku put a hand on Rin's head, "there are guys out there like Tom but not all of them and Len is definitely not one of them."

"I know that," Rin stated quietly but truthfully. Len was definitely not like Tom.

"And if another guy like Tom appears, you have friends here for you, true friends," Miku assured.

Rin smiled and thought for a moment when another horror struck to her, "But, let's say I do go out with Len and it doesn't work out? It won't be the same."

"Maybe, but you've guys have been friends for a long time, close friends. I'm sure you guys will work something out," Miku shrugged.

"Maybe," Rin agreed slowly and then abruptly sat up straighter and shook her head, "Wait wait wait, back track, back track, back track! Before we go into giving Len a chance, what if I lost my chance? I," Rin paused, "I hurt him."

"Can't argue with you there."

"Not helping."

"Just apologize."

"You're awfully nonchalant about this, Miku," Rin crossed her arms and gave Miku a look. Miku responded with playful haughtiness.

"What can I say? If it doesn't directly influence you, you don't feel the same pressure," Miku then smiled at Rin, "and I think you and Len have something. Maybe that's why I'm so relaxed about this, I don't see how it can all blow up. But if it does, Len's going to get an earful from me naturally," she finished and promptly started shooing, mostly shoving, Rin out of her room and to the front door.

"Hopefully it won't come down to that," Rin paused at the doorway before giving Miku a tight hug, "Thank you Miku, you really are the best friend I could ever, ever, ever, ever have. I mean it!" Miku hugged her friend back and laughed.

"What would you do without me?" she joked. Rin let go of her friend and grinned.

"Probably curl up on my bed and prepare for my future occupation as a hermit."

"Yeah, yeah, go get em," and with a push Rin was off.

She couldn't stop thanking Miku for being such a great friend the whole way down to Len's house.

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Rin stood awkwardly on Len's front porch. Looking anywhere but the boy's face. And wondering if she should just run away now and seriously become a hermit.

At least she would have an excuse for never leaving her home to see the light of day, or Len, again.

She was a hermit.

Or not.

Oh well, guess not.

"Um, hi, um, I..." Rin trailed off and measured the earthquake her body was suffering.

Probably a 9.0 plus a blood tsunami.

The poor blood cell civilians.

"Hi...is there something you need?" Rin winced. Len's tone wasn't necessarily cold but she could tell he was holding back. He was trying to be polite, civil, but he was hurt. That just made Rin feel much worse.

"Um, no, I mean, yeah, kind of, well, y'know, it's just that, well, mrgh," Rin clamped her mouth shut, breathed through her nostrils, looked at Len's eyes, and rushed in one full breathe, "I'm super, duper, ubber sorry, and I know it might be much for me to say this but I do care about you except at a platonic level until I realized that maybe I should give you a chance otherwise I'll never learn to stop being a baby about things and those words I said, I didn't mean them, I was just going under so much stress thinking about you, your feelings, and then Tom showed up, and when he said all that stuff all the pent-up stress exploded but in the wrong way, it all came out wrong, it was wrong, I didn't mean it, and I'm just so sorry," Rin's voice cracked at the end of her fast-paced apology as she sniffed the snot slowly oozing out of her nose. Her emotions were getting the best of her.

Len stared back with a look that was a cross between surprised and bit amused. The next few minutes passed with Rin blowing into tissues that Len grabbed from inside his house and Len replaying Rin's apology in order to understand everything she said. She spoke a little too fast.

"Rin."

Here it comes, the rejection.

"I wasn't really mad about that."

Wait, what?

"Huh?" Rin couldn't find the right words and so her mouth moved like a fish making the male blond laugh and flick the white ribbon on Rin's head.

"I mean, I was too shocked at the fact that you punched Tom to really care about what you said. I figured you were just really mad. I would be too in your position. Besides, if anything I was just annoyed that you left without me. I was totally planning to comfort you and make you realize my charm," Len grinned while Rin just stared at him in shock and then she glared.

"What the heck? You didn't get mad at all? How easy-going and nice of a guy are you?" Rin half whined and half blurted in relief. He wasn't mad after all, or if he was he was sure being nice about it. Rin was relieved, happy, and awed.

"You better be telling me the truth that you weren't hurt, even a little bit," Rin pointed accusingly.

"You were just defending the both of us," Len replied easily.

"I still shouldn't have said that while knowing about your, er, feelings," Rin argued, "You're just too nice," she shook her head and smiled wryly, "Someone's really going to take advantage of that kindness one day," she warned.

"I wouldn't mind if it was you," Len grinned and Rin gawked.

"Masochist."

"I try," Len said in mock-pride.

Rin paused, "So, are we, uh, normal?" Len nodded.

Rin couldn't help but sigh in relief and then she remembered her conversation with Miku. She figured she should solve everything now and looked determinedly at Len.

"Len, you've been confessing to me multiple times a day and I never really took them seriously even though you were serious, for that I apologize, and," Len nodded and Rin continued, "I figured I should start taking you seriously so um, if you hadn't...um, changed your mind," Rin twitched as she started to mutter, "do I still have a chance?" she finished meekly and looked down at her sandals. There was an unnecessarily long pause (which Rin bet was Len just making her suffer, the masochistic sadist) before Len laughed and hugged Rin tightly.

"You've always had a chance," he whispered and Rin couldn't help but feel a little giggly.

"I'm still new at this though, so bear with it," Rin muttered quietly. She leaned into Len and felt at ease. Maybe allowing herself to like Len wouldn't be so bad.

"Well, I kinda am too so no big," he smiled and started to lean in when –

"Nuh uh, what part of 'new at this' translates to 'kiss me now'?" Rin glared and she squirmed out of the boy's embrace.

"Aw, come on Rinny, just one?" Len started advancing towards the flustered girl who was slowly stepping backwards.

"No no no, just stay right there!" Rin commanded, with no promising results.

"No way."

"Gah, get away!" Rin sprinted with Len closely in pursuit, but this time everything was different. Things were better and would hopefully keep getting better, and Rin realized that she couldn't stay in her bubble forever. Maybe Len will help her come out of it although she would appreciate if he would stop chasing her.

Then again, Rin figured the running thing was just their dynamic.

At least she felt like she was running forward.

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PlushieBunny says: Haha, running forward, get it? It's the title. No? Aw, fine.

That bit with Tom was sort of dramatic for me to write but fun in an overly dramatic way. I felt that it was a bit cliché though, the whole "dude from the girl's 'dark' past" thing. And yay for Miku and Rin's friendship. What Miku said about relationships at the end was actually from a conversation I had with my best friend. Inspiration is everywhere, just gotta find it.

Two things that urk me about this oneshot: the transitions are a bit sloppy and Len is unrealistic...or just too nice.

Hoped you enjoyed.