Chapter Twenty Three – Happy Ending
"Kunimitsu, you should focus on studying. If you don't pass these final exams you'll have to repeat your final year. I don't want that to happen." Miyako said. It had been the same subject of their conversation for the past week. He spent as long as he could in the hospital with her and though she appreciated the company she didn't want him to leave off studying.
"I'm getting enough study in." Tezuka replied. He held up the book he was currently reading. "This is our text for Literature – I'm studying right now."
She pursed her lips disbelievingly. "I'll let you off this time."
"Oh, and by the way – ."
"The team is visiting today."
Miyako smiled warmly as the team filed into the room, Eiji and Fuji leading the way with a gift bag in hand. They hadn't visited her yet, under Tezuka's orders to let her rest and recover enough to survive such a visit.
"We bring you recovering gifts~!" Eiji announced, carrying the bag – and as a result dragged Fuji along – to her bedside and placing it down in her lap.
The team created an uneven wall around her bed, Sakuno and Echizen to her other side – a bunch of assorted flowers in hand – with Tezuka.
"There's no Inui Juice in there, is there?"
Inui looked away dejectedly. "They took it out."
Miyako took this moment when he wasn't looking to whisper to Eiji and Fuji. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it." Eiji replied.
"It was rather nice actually." Fuji mused.
Eiji and Miyako looked at him questioningly.
"Okay…" She muttered as she opened the bag and took a look inside. She laughed at the first thing she saw. "You guys know me that well already?" She asked, pulling out the three packets of strawberry flavoured Mochi.
"Mochi makes everything better~." Eiji said.
Miyako placed them to the side and then pulled out the next item. She looked at the closed box confusedly and then carefully opened it. It was a bento box filled with a traditionally made meal. "Taka-san?" She asked, looking up at the nervous senpai.
Taka-san scratched the back of his neck. "I know that hospital food can be rather dull – I thought that maybe you would like something fresh."
Miyako smiled. "Thanks Taka-san." She said and placed it with the Mochi to eat later.
A few minutes later she'd pulled out every item from the bag: a cute stationary set, a 'Get Well' plush toy of a Unicorn and a coloured in drawing that Kaiya had insisted go into the gift as well.
Sakuno placed the vase of flowers she and Echizen had bought on the bedside table with the fresh vase of dark pink roses and then noticed a notebook sitting there. "Hey, where did you find this?" She asked.
Miyako looked over and noticed that Sakuno had spotted the leather bound book Tezuka and Kaiya had gotten her. "Kunimitsu and Kaiya gave it to me." She replied. "But that was months ago now."
"That was after that match, that made Miyako-chan sick, wasn't it?" Fuji asked.
"How did you know?" Miyako asked.
"Oh, I just do." Fuji replied sneakily.
"Mou, that's scary, Fujiko." Eiji muttered.
The tennis Regular's hung around for several hours and when her parents arrived with Kaiya they gladly introduced themselves and Miyako noticed that because of her sudden leave from Tezuka's birthday party the week before Kaiya had found friendship in Oishi, Fuji and Eiji – so much so that she asked them to tell her a story that they had told her that night.
And so began a re-enactment of an epic and tragic fairytale seemingly born from Fuji's imagination.
Miyako tiredly sat back, watching the performance under hooded eyes, maintaining a warm and content smile on her lips as to not let them believe that she was completely exhausted already.
But naturally, Tezuka noticed. He cupped her cheek tenderly, gaining her attention. "Hey, are you tired?"
Miyako nodded slowly. "But I'll watch the rest of the show. I want to know what happens."
"They won't be offended if you nap. The nurse did say that you should sleep as often as you can." Tezuka said.
"Yes, but…I'd feel so rude either way." She whispered.
"Go to sleep, Miya. They'll understand." He said, kissing her forehead. "I'll be here when you wake up."
. : . : . : .
Miyako's check up was in the Children's ward with her original doctor from her first diagnosis. She was feeling a little down as she had denied herself visits from Tezuka for several days. She had ordered him to study at home where he could concentrate. His exams were in another week and he would need to focus. She knew it was for the best but she still missed him dearly.
Her Mother took her in and they sat down in the waiting room that was filled with colours, murals on the walls and floor and tables with toys and puzzles scattered around haphazardly to keep the young patients occupied while waiting their turn. Though several of the children playing were ones without illness – but they were siblings of children who were weakly sitting in their parent's laps in the many seats placed around the room.
Miyako couldn't help but notice the little bald girl sitting beside her. She was sickly, too thin and had was very pale, though her cheeks were slightly pink – Miyako assumed this was her natural skin tone as she had been the same way.
Another thing that Miyako noticed was that the little girl kept looking over with a fixated gaze on her hair.
"Hi." Miyako greeted softly.
The little girl jumped and looked away, her cheeks growing a little darker.
"My name's Miyako, what's your name?" Miyako asked.
"Ruka Toyami." The girl replied shyly.
"It's nice to meet you." Miyako said with a kind smile. "Tell me, Ruka-chan, if it's not too rude for me to ask: why are you here? Shouldn't a cute little girl like you be in school with your friends?"
"I'm sick." Ruka replied. "I can't go to school because I'm not well enough."
Miyako's smile changed a little, unable to prevent herself from feeling sorry for the girl. "Me too." She said, showing the girl her arm which was still bandaged.
"What happened?" Ruka gasped, worried about the amount of bandages on the older girl's arm.
"I got a little growth in my elbow so they had to take it out."
Ruka gasped. "Will you have to lose your hair too?"
Miyako smiled. "I hope not." She replied.
Ruka sighed sadly. "Mine fell out…I liked my hair."
Miyako glanced up at the girl's Mother, who looked just as upset, and then back to the girl. "Don't worry, sweetheart, it will grow back. Mine did."
Ruka looked up, surprised.
"When I was about your age I lost all of my hair too." She explained
"But your hair is so long now~."
"Because I let it grow and grow. I didn't let my Mum take me to a hairdresser until I realised that it had to be trimmed regularly so that it would look pretty all the time." Miyako explained.
Ruka's lips formed an understanding 'o' shape, her bright green eyes sparkling in wonder. "Will my hair be that long one day?"
"If you grow it." Miyako replied. "And remember this, okay? You are beautiful – some kids might not understand what you have gone through and they might make fun of you and make you feel sad because of the words they say. But you survived – in a way you are stronger than they are."
Ruka nodded and suddenly embraced Miyako, the beginnings of sobs quaking her tiny, fragile body. Slightly surprised, Miyako held the girl back, looking up at the Mother.
The Mother had tears in her eyes and was smiling warmly. "Thank you." She whispered.
"What's she sick with?" Miyako asked quietly.
Miyako's eyes shut and she looked down at the girl, feeling a pang of pity and remorse. Ruka's hair won't be able to grow for many years.
"Miya, that's us." Tamie said hesitantly.
Miyako nodded. "Ruka, I need to go now, okay?"
Ruke pulled away, brushing away tears with her heel of her small palm. "Okay."
"You'll pull through, Ruka, I know you will."
. : . : . : .
Miyako took in the fresh air of freedom. Her arm was still bandaged, but only with a thin layer to protect the still healing evidence of surgery. She was finally out of the hospital gown and into her own clothing. A month in hospital was long enough to drive her mad at her age – not to mention that she hadn't seen Tezuka in nearly a week and a half.
"Feels good to be free, doesn't it?" Tamie asked.
Miyako smiled to her. "Yeah, it does."
"But…you can't play tennis for another three months." Tamie reminded her.
She sighed sadly. "A small price to pay."
Tamie embraced her. "I'm just glad that it wasn't anything serious. You're such a lucky girl."
Miyako smiled. "That little boy still watches over me, Mum. And I have people who love me."
"You should go and see him." Tamie suggested. "You'll be driven mad at this rate."
"He's got one more exam today. When I called him yesterday he said that he'd have practice with the team and then come to see me." Miyako said.
"But you – "
"I didn't tell him on purpose. I want to surprise him this afternoon."
"It's not noon yet, do you think you'll last that long?" Tamie asked as they reached the car.
"Yeah, probably. Mum, do you have time to take me to the hairdresser and then back to the Children's ward?"
Tamie nodded. "Of course, why?"
"We need to pick up something."
. : . : . : .
Tezuka took his frustration out on the ball.
He'd been terribly unfocused between his exams – managing to focus there as he had been ordered to. Either way he was confident that his results would be as they should.
He needed to see her and though he knew that finishing the game faster wouldn't finish practice faster, it would make it seem so. The sooner he could see her, the better he would feel – he might even be able to relax a little.
He marvelled a little at the way his breath came out in a faint puff of mist. Winter was definitely on its way. It was the first week of December already and he could hardly wait to take Miyako out into the snow – he admitted to himself a small fantasy he'd imagined. To kiss her in the snow.
The ball flew by him.
"Focus, Buchou." Eiji teased, grinning widely.
Tezuka looked over at Eiji and slowly pulled a spare tennis ball from his pocket to serve.
Fuji was becoming increasingly worried for his stoic friend. They all understood why Miyako had told him not to visit her and though they shared phone calls there was still the separation that weighed down on the both of them like a tonne of bricks. There was no doubt that they were both being driven mad by the loss of contact.
And anyone could see the pain that had grown in Tezuka's heart and mind just by watching him assault the ball – and Eiji whom he was playing against. No one would dare mess with Tezuka when he was in that state of mind.
Fuji was just glad that Tezuka would be seeing her that afternoon after practice and everything would be fine for them.
Unconsciously, Fuji scanned the crowds that had gathered for the last practice of the year. It was always the same, yet he was glad that the pupils of the school would miss them so much that they would skip their own club activities just to see the senior members of the club play just one more time.
Then, to his surprise, his eyes zeroed in on an oddly familiar girl standing in the crowd by the open court gate. She had sparkling chocolate eyes and matching coloured hair that fell down her shoulders in gentle waves and would reach her mid-back, a fringe parted to the left brushed into her eyes a little. She wore a light blue, 'v' necked dress with ruffled skirts that reached her knees, along with a pair of white and blue Converse. On her left arm was a bandage that told him exactly who it was.
Her eyes met his and he smiled welcomingly as he walked over to her. "It's good to see you."
"You too." She replied.
"Tezuka!" Fuji called.
On instinct, Tezuka looked over to Fuji, questioningly before he turned his gaze to the girl standing beside him. He dropped his racquet. "Miya."
Tears springing to life in her eyes and broke into a mad sprint, running through courts and around students until she reached his arms, slamming into his body as she desperately clung to him for dear life – ignoring the slight pain her arm as she did so.
"You cut your hair?" Tezuka asked, running his fingers through her hair, deciding to ignore the fact that they had an audience.
Miyako smiled. "I met a little girl and…she loved my hair so much I decided to give her a piece of it."
"I had it cut last week and it was made into a wig – I gave it to her this afternoon."
"I thought that you wouldn't get out for another week or so."
"They let me out this morning, I wanted to surprise you – and watch you play before club activities ended." Miyako admitted, looking up at him. "I missed you."
"I missed you too." Tezuka admitted.
"Hoi hoi, Tezuka. Look up." Eiji called.
Tezuka and Miyako looked up and Miyako made a confused sound.
Hanging above them, from a racquet held by Echizen who was seated on Momo's shoulders, was a bunch of mistletoe.
"It's not even Christmas yet." Miyako scolded them.
Tezuka smiled and tilted her chin towards him. "Does it really matter?"
Miyako blinked. Tezuka had always waited until there was definitely no witnesses before he performed any shows of affection – but suddenly he was going to partake in a very public display of affection.
But then, how could she refuse?
She smiled as she stood onto her toes. "Yeah, I guess it really doesn't."
He smiled and pressed his lips securely against hers. "I love you."
"I love you too." Miyako replied and sighed. "This makes me so happy." She whispered, brushing her fingertips along his smiling lips.
"When you smile."
Well, that's the end :) Thanks so much for reading, I hope you all liked it.
~Crimson Winged Kitten