Hey, everyone! What's up? Welcome to the third to last chapter! :D Enjoy! Comment, please!
This chapter goes to Raf Kowalski for the amazing drawings of Miku and Riko (from my other story, AKA). I don't know if you're reading this but thank you again!
Miku woke with a start, suddenly aware of the fact that she had to cook breakfast for over fifteen people. It was a good thing Hyoutei didn't stay; that'd be nine more servings, not to mention Eiji's and Momo's monstrous appetites.
She rolled over and sat up so that her legs were hanging over the side. Speaking of Eiji, she wasn't quite ready to forgive him as of yet. Just the fact that he had been practically stalking her and Choutarou was wrong, but to make false accusations about something he hadn't even seen clearly was completely inexcusable.
Miku jumped onto the floor, and started to stomp to the kitchen, but remembering that there were still people sleeping, resolved to tiptoe instead past the regulars' room.
Meanwhile, Eiji lay awake on his futon. It hadn't helped that he'd rolled onto the cold floor a few minutes ago, but his terrible dream didn't make things any better. It had involved Miku not talking to him anymore, and he had been in a state of trepidation until he realized it was actually happening.
He half wanted to yell at everyone to get them up so he didn't have to go talk to Miku himself, but that would mean at least five of them tackling him as revenge. But it was no matter; Tezuka would probably be up soon and wake everyone up.
Turning off the ancient stove, Miku grabbed the rather oversized pot of tea and entered the dining room. The regulars and their guests (or coach, helpers, and cleaning crew to be more exact) were already eating apart from her and Katsuo, and latter had been extremely helpful in the cooking department for the past day.
Miku took a seat between Taka and Fuji; the latter had saved the spot with his bag of raw wasabi that no one wanted to touch (and Miku was afraid to even sit there). Eiji, after looking up at his crush from across the table, continued to eat voraciously.
"This is really good, Miku-chan," Taka commented shyly, smiling. Miku grinned back in thanks.
At the end of breakfast, Coach Ryuzaki had everyone give the cooks their own applause, but everyone was scooted out the door soon after for the day's onslaught of tennis. After the rules of what was called the "tennis biathlon" were read out, everyone went accordingly to their stations.
After ten minutes of running, the leading few regulars came to their first station. There was no one there, and they were stuck on one side of a river. When yells echoing into the forest were unanswered, Coach Ryuzaki was called on Fuji's phone. The realization was astonishing to all present, which by then meant all the regulars. Miku was missing.
In the chaos that followed one person managed to calm people down enough to organize search teams. Tezuka, after relative silence covered the group, spoke.
"As an unexpected extra part of our training, we are going to assist in finding Kasuragi-san. We will organize into groups as follows: In group one, Oishi, Kawamura, and Kaidoh. Group two: Inui and myself. Group three: Momoshiro and Echizen. And finally, in group four: Fuji and Kikumaru. Remember: yudan sezu ni ikou!"
"Tezuka, wait," Fuji spoke hesitantly.
"What is it, Fuji?" several people asked.
Taken aback, the group looked around them in shock. The energetic redhead had been there a second before. His disappearance simply meant one more person to look for.
Meanwhile, Eiji was searching frantically off the trail on which the regulars had previously run. As soon as he heard that Miku was nowhere to be found, he bolted off to find her, not thinking of what the rest of the team would do if he left without a trace as well.
The acrobat stopped in his tracks. Miku was close, so he decided to call back.
"Miku-chan!" he yelled.
"Eiji! Where are you? Hello?" came the answering shout, soft but still loud enough to be heard clearly.
Eiji looked down to try to find the voice that was calling him. In a steep depression in the ground, Miku was waving to him.
"Eiji! There you are! Can you help me?" She was surprisingly calm, given the fact that she was stuck in a hole with a frenzied search for her going on.
"I'm coming down," Eiji informed her, sliding down the leaves and loose dirt and landing on his feet next to her. He crouched and looked at Miku's face.
'We're alone; everyone else isn't going to bug us... should I tell her?'
Miku intruded on Eiji's thoughts by pointing up to the top of her trap.
"You know, Eiji, now we're both stuck. We can't get out."
He looked up. Sure enough, there were no trees to use to climb out, but there were rocks stuck in the dirt. The only problem was that every time he pushed on one, it fell out of the dried mud and onto the bottom of the hole; none of them would support the weight of a human.
Eiji sighed and sat down next to Miku. "How did you get in here, anyway?" he asked.
"I was walking to my station to help with the biathlon, but I wasn't watching where I was going. I stepped on the edge of the hole and fell in, I guess."
"Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself again?"
She shook her head, smiling in slight triumph. "Did I create a commotion?"
Eiji laughed softly, looking at the sky. "A bit, yeah."
The two sat in silence for a time, simply enjoying the other's company. The redhead fidgeted a few times before he moved to face Miku.
"Miku-chan, there's something I need to tell you."
"...W-what is it?"
Suddenly, a panting Fuji was peering over the edge of the hole. Miku was the first to notice.
Eiji turned in alarm. He had blown his chance.
"Miku-chan, Eiji, how did you get down here?" Fuji asked with a slight laugh.
"Well... it was all Eiji's fault, really," Miku explained with a scarily well-meaning grin.
"Na-nani? Miku-chan! That's not fair, nya! You're the one who got stuck first!" Eiji cried, pouting.
"Aha… okay, I'll get help, then. I can't get you out myself," the tensai informed, straightening and pulling his phone out of a pocket.
Ten minutes later, when Miku and Eiji were removed from their hole in the ground, the biathlon was allowed to continue once everyone was at their stations; Miku was just escorted that time around.
That night, after dinner and the regulars' baths, Eiji was lying awake in his sleeping bag by his room door, looking at the ceiling. He didn't know what he was going to do since he hadn't confessed earlier. Maybe Fuji would help him more, he thought.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a light flick on down the hall. Sitting up, Eiji felt curious. He slid out of the room as quietly as he could and into the kitchen. More instinctively than out of necessity, his eyes narrowed to adjust to the bright light.
"Eiji, what are you doing up?"
Eiji looked to his right. Miku was staring at him, and it seemed she was in the middle of doing the dishes. The old estate didn't have a dishwasher; it was a wonder it even had a stove in the first place. Consequently, she had to wash every dish by hand.
"I was just… um… getting a drink," the redhead excused himself. "Do you want help?"
Miku looked down to the soapsuds in the sink, and then back up to the acrobat with a smile.
Eiji picked up a rag and assisted in drying the dishes and putting them all back in the cupboards where they properly went. The two both laughed nervously when a plate clanked on another too loudly or when they heard sounds down the hall, feeling like a team of conspirators working in secret.
When they were finished and everything was where it rightfully belonged, Eiji and Miku said their farewells. The latter headed to the back of the kitchen and turned off the light. Still facing the wall, Miku spoke softly.
"Eiji, I forgive you—for everything."
Through the dark, Eiji could see her turn and smile at him. His face grew hot.
She walked toward the hall, saying, "Well, I suppose we should better be getting to sleep-" She stopped suddenly, feeling the redhead's hand on her wrist.
Miku's eyes traced up Eiji's arm and to his face.
Love is patient.
"M-Miku-chan," Eiji began. "I've… I've loved you for so long."
Love is kind.
He pulled her into a hug.
It does not envy.
"I was really mad about Oishi, Ootori, and Saeki, but I'm not now." Eiji released her, and stepped back, looking at his sock-covered feet.
It does not boast. It is not proud.
"You have no idea how often you cross my mind and stay there." Miku looked down at her feet too, not believing what she was hearing, despite the utter joy of it all.
It is not rude. It is not self-seeking.
"Would it be possible for you to love me back?"
It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.
"The past is the past. It doesn't matter anymore."
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
"All I care about now... is you."
Miku was silent for a few moments, which seemed to take forever. A smile grew on her lips as she met eyes with Eiji.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
She took his hand, and, smiling still, said, "I love you too, Eiji. Ever since I met you..."
They both laughed nervously, and hugged again. Looking at each other, Eiji pulled her closer and kissed her, suddenly glad to have the darkness to hide them both.
Breaking away, the redhead smiled and squeezed his new girlfriend's hand.
"I love you. Good night, Miku-chan," he said simply.
After watching him go down the hall, Miku ran to her bunk and sat on it, panting. She couldn't believe it. She had just kissed Eiji.
She knew he loved her. She knew, for the most part, that it wasn't a dream.
But most of all, she knew she loved him—with all her heart.
Oh dear. That seemed rather rushed, didn't it?
Anyways... So? How was it? Comments are greatly appreciated!
And if, for some unknown reason, you read this a week or two from now and find the ending line to be different, it's because I came up with a really good sentence and then completely forgot it by the time I got to the end. :( I hate that so much.
Um... If any of you have some extra time on your hands and want to help me out a little, can you do some illustrations for me? I don't care if they're of one of my stories or of a favorite anime/manga character that I like as well. That'd be fantastic! :)) If you want to submit a drawing I'll give my email so you can share it. Maybe I'll make a contest out of it ^.^ You may get a chapter dedicated to you or some other reward, but I don't want that to be the [only] reason you do this. Thanks in advance!
Love ya! Bye.