Disclaimer: Not mine.

Chapter 3

I didn't ask my father what his plan was. I didn't want to know. I was worried, when Shuri ran past my room in tears, that on top of telling her what he was going to do, he might have hit her again.

In a way, I almost wish he had. It would have hurt less than what he was actually planning to do. He was going to send Shuri to London. A new school on the other side of the globe, where no one knew anything about the scandal we had found ourselves in. She was terrified. I wasn't much better off, my thoughts moving at a crawl until the idea finally occurred to me.

I wouldn't let Shuri be sent away alone. I wouldn't let father send he to a country where she would have no familiar faces or places. I couldn't convince father not to send her away. I could come up with a way out. For both of us.

Every child fantasizes, at some point or another, about running away from home. For adventure, rescue, safety, attention. I would take one of those dreams, and I would turn it into our reality.

If we went through with it, I knew we wouldn't be able to come home, or contact any of our friends, for a long time. Maybe years, maybe more.

We would be alone. But we would be safe, and together. And as long as I had Shuri with me, the loss of friends and home didn't matter as much.

I would do anything to stay with Shuri, because she needed me, just as much as I needed her. She showed a tough face to the world, but I was allowed to see her softer core. The part of her that hurt just then. She relied on me to protect her and help her when it just got too tough for her to handle, and I relied on her to keep the harsh outside world at bay.

So we promised each other forever.

The next day was a difficult day in some ways, and a relieving one in others. It was nice to see Sana, and Hoshino, even though the meeting had to happen in a hospital. I didn't think much of it when Hoshino asked Shuri to stay behind. We were friends. Sana's nervous behavior should have tipped me off to the fact that something was wrong.

When Shuri, my tough Shuri, ran out of the hospital in tears again, I nearly went back in that hospital to finish the job the old lady started. It would be a very long time before I could begin to forgive Hoshino for what she'd done to us. But no matter what she had done, it didn't change our plans. Knowing it had been her just gave us someone to blame. It didn't fix anything, wouldn't change our father's mind.

So we tried to act normal. We went to school, ate lunch, hung out. If it weren't for Shuri kicking me every now and then, making sure I paid attention, I would have spent the whole day in a fog of worry.

As it was, I was pretty sure Sana knew something was up. He always did know when I was up to something. It took him just a few minutes too long to figure it out.

If he'd caught us at the station... We might have stayed.

There were a few moments, when I saw him racing the train on a borrowed bicycle, where I almost regretted my decision enough to go back. When he started yelling from the riverside, I couldn't help the tears that filled my eyes, yet the feeling of regret vanished. Yes, I would miss him, and all the others. But he understood, and he would wait for us to come back again. We would always be best friends.

On our first rest stop, I took a chance, and took the time to send a gift back to Sana. My fishing rod. I knew he would make good use of it.

Shuri and I had each other. We would endure and survive whatever fate threw at us without letting it get between us. We were one soul split into two bodies, and we fit together perfectly. It was enough for me. I didn't let myself think of home, and our friends. I didn't let myself wish. On the occasions that Shuri and I fought, I could see that she let herself wish, once in a while.

Eventually, many years later, we did go home for a visit. We didn't tell Sana, or anyone else, that we were coming. We were happy with our lives. We weren't desperate for our friends and home, and the attention it would bring if we suddenly showed up again.

It was great to see Nanaka up on stage again with her violin, and I thought I saw the glint of a ring on her finger, as well. Sana always could be counted on to take care of her. He was just what she needed.

We caught glimpses of a hyperactive Aoi greeting Hoshino, who seemed to be quieter than before, calmer. I frowned anyway, unsure of just what it was I felt towards Hoshino. I shrugged off the emotions. It was good to see everyone doing well, regardless.

We left without saying hello to anyone. I knew we didn't really have a place there anymore. They would welcome us in, I knew, but... The decision we had made to leave had brought us to where we were. I would never regret the choices I made, despite what could have been.

Maybe, someday, we would choose to go back. I knew Sana and everyone else would be waiting.