Author's Note: After one and half month of deciding about the story ending, at last I manage to publish this. Allow me to give my gratitude to the following who share their time in reading this story.
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Chapter 8: End Of Contract
Niou looked at his watch to see the time; Eri is already 40 minutes late and yet he didn't receive any sms or call from the girl. He dialed the girl's number but it cannot be reach. The party has already started and everyone is having fun including Sanada who seems to be challenging Atobe to a dance showdown.
"Tsk, that Sanada… I thought he doesn't know how to dance?" Niou commented to entertain himself from boredom.
"Hmm… the probability that it's the only dance steps that Genichirou knows is 99.99 percent," Renji assumed while cupping his chin.
"So where is the .01 percent?" the trickster asked.
"I don't know, I just like to say 99.99 percent so that it will sound more logical," the data master replied.
The other regulars can't help but to laugh at Renji's comment, they never think that the so called Data Master of Rikkaidai could say something like that.
"Did I miss something?" Marui who just arrive at the Rikkaidai's table suddenly asked.
"Marui-senpai, where have you been?" Kirihara greeted.
"Yo Bakaya, what's happening here? Where's Yukimura and Sanada?" the red hair asked ignoring his kohai's question.
"There's nothing interesting going around except from Yukimura cross dressing as Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Sanada dancing tango on the dance floor," Niou replied passively to Marui and drinks the tasteless orange juice.
"I see," the red hair replied.
Suddenly, the trickster noticed something that will interest Akaya. "Hey bratling, look over there, your girlfriend (a.k.a. Kirihara's admired girl) is dancing with Hyotei's Ootori."
"Oh yeah Bakaya, that is your girlfriend and she looks so happy with Oootori. Tsk, tsk, tsk… Aren't you going to get your honey back from the one who steal her?" Marui flamed up the seaweed headed kohai.
"Of course I will take her back," Kirihara replied starting to flame up.
"Yeah, that's the spirit Bakaya, take her back since you're her first love. Don't let that Ootori to steal her away from you," the red hair cheers up his kohai.
"You think it's that easy to take her away from Ootori, ne Marui? I don't think so, that girl also likes Ootori the way she also likes Akaya," the trickster replied.
"You might be right Niou-senpai, but I won't give up that easily."
"Tsk, then prove it… you see them dancing? Take her away from Ootori. Puri~"
Upon hearing the challenge, Kirihara get up from his seat and walks towards the dance floor where Ootori and the girl is dancing. Niou and Marui were shocked of their desperate kohai. They almost jaw dropped and look at each other.
"That Bakaya…" the red hair muttered and chuckled.
"You seem so happy, did something good happen to you?" Niou asked and take a sip of the tasteless orange juice full of ice.
"Yeah, there's something good that happened to me. Is there a problem with that?" the tensai replied and pop his precious green apple bubblegum. "I also won't loose to you, Niou…"
The trickster shrugged and looked back at the dance floor where Akaya is dancing horribly. After sometimes, he excused himself from the group to breathe some fresh air since the mood of their table has changed when Marui arrived. Not far from where he is, he overheard the conversation between Eri and her friends.
"Let them play tennis and choose whoever wins the match," Eri's friend suggested out of boredom.
"I agree with that, it's the best way to determine who is better," another one said.
By hearing her friends' opinions, Eri decided to walk away from them because instead of helping her on her problem, she is getting more confused on what to do. Still out her mind, the girl suddenly bumps to Niou who purposely appeared behind the marble post.
"Serious debate with your friends?" Niou asked with a smirk.
The girl was surprised of the trickster that she almost jumped back. Her heart started to race fast and become speechless. She feels so guilty of what she did when she go with Marui earlier since she promised Niou that they will be together at the party.
"Haru-kun, I'm…" her words are cut off when the trickster placed his fingertip on Eri's lips.
"Shh…" Niou draws himself near the girl and smiles.
"Aren't you going to ask why I came late?" Eri asked with guiltiness on her voice since she went on a dinner with Marui before going to the party.
"I do not ask questions that I already know the answer, Eri-chan."
"Why do you love to torture me?" Eri asked while looking directly at Niou's eyes.
"Because you also love to see me in pain…" the silver hair replied and ruffles Eri's hair.
Eri take off Niou's hand on her hair and give a gloomy smile. When Eri noticed that there are students looking at them, she asked Niou to come with her at the rose garden to avoid any gossip. They sat on a bench near the garden fountain and remained silent while listening to the music being played by the orchestra at the party. Eri sighs deeply as she remembers her friends advise to choose the one that will leave her no regret. She take a deep breath and was about to say something when Niou suddenly speak up.
"Happy White Day, Eri-chan." trickster said and pulled out a rectangular wrapped present out of his coat.
"Arigato, Haru-kun…"the girl blushed and takes the present from Niou. "Happy White Day too…"
"You're so pretty tonight your royal highness," the silver hair teasingly whispered to Eri.
"Stop teasing me Haru-kun… everybody knows that I'm not that attractive."
"But you still caught my attention Eri-chan…"
"Should I believe your beautiful lie?" the girl asked.
"Lies are not beautiful at all times Eri-chan; always remember that."
Niou smirks since Eri can't hide her blush. He was about to pull the girl closer to him but he stopped himself when he saw Marui looking at them from the veranda. It's the first time that he saw such kind of seriousness on the tensai's face. Considering the feelings of Marui and for the sake of their friendship, Niou didn't continue his plan of hugging Eri.
"I like…" the girl mumbles while looking downward and hugging her arms.
The trickster yawns; pretending to ignore Eri's confession. He stretched his arm and wrapped it gently on the girl's shoulder then he looks upward on the starry sky. "Don't say things that you are not supposed to say… your presence is enough for me."
"Liar…" Eri whispers and leans at Niou's shoulder blushing extremely. "How many girls did you say those words Haru-kun? And how many girls have you danced while I'm not around?"
"Why Eri-chan are you jealous that I dance other girls?" Niou looked at the girl and smirked.
Eri turn away her gaze from the trickster and slowly moved away, "I'm trying to be lenient as much as possible Haru-kun..."
"Oh come on Eri-chan, don't be jealous… you will always be MY ONE and ONLY. Puri~" Niou knelt in front of the girl; he waved his empty hand magically and a rose appeared on it.
"I'm not moved by your trick Haru-kun! Now tell me, how many ONE and how many ONLY do you have?" Eri tries to brush off her blush and pretends to be stoic on how romantic Niou is acting.
"You're so mean Eri –chan, of course I only have you," he replied and gives the rose to Eri.
The girl gets the rose and sniffs it gently, "Until when are you going to tell al lie Haru-kun?"
"Until the end, Eri-chan…I will live by my name." Niou smiled and stand up while fixing his coat.
Before the party is over, Niou accompany Eri back to the girl's table. As they arrive, Eri's two friends are grinning mischievously on them. The silver hair greeted Eri's friends and even kissed their hands. Eri's friends are accustomed to him.
After the party, Eri doesn't go home because she was invited for an over night stay by Atobe's cousin who happened to be one of her best friends. Because of that, Marui was waived on his responsibility of accompanying Eri to go back on the girl's house since he asked Eri's father to escort the girl at the party. Niou has a strong feeling that Eri and Marui have been together before they went to the party but he doesn't confront either of them.
"Let's have a match," Niou said out of the blue when he met Marui halfway on the wash room.
"I would have asked you that, you have just asked me first." The red hair replied.
"Next week before graduation day, meet me at the public court near Hyoutei Gakuen, I'll be waiting for you," the trickster challenged.
"Fine with me, may the best man win." Marui said.
Unfortunately, their plan of deciding who will win Eri didn't happen since the girl discover it. Eri gets so angry and made the two boys realize that she's not a trophy that could be the prize of whoever will win the match. Marui and Niou didn't say any word. They could have gone far by using tennis to decide on whose gonna win Eri's heart. But what surprised them is when Eri speaks up…
"After the graduation ceremony tomorrow, I want to see both of you under the big old Rikkaidai tree…"
Niou rest his left arm on his eyes while lying on his bed hoping that he will fall asleep but nothing is happening; Eri's words are still lingering on his mind. How could it happen to him? He's hailed as Rikkaida's trickster and now he's suffering because of a girl. He get up from his bed, grabs his phone and leave his house in the middle of the night. He can't wait until morning to see Eri.
"Hello?" the girl greeted over the phone while rubbing her eyes.
"It's me Eri-chan…" Niou said.
"Haru-kun…?" Eri talked back and glance at the wall clock on her room.
"I'm here outside your house."
"Am I dreaming? It's very late Haru-kun… go home already."
"I won't go home unless you say you forgive me," the trickster desperately stated.
"Is that all that you came for? How imprudent!" Eri replied and looked outside the window of her room. She saw Niou standing on a lamp post while looking at her.
"I'm damn serious Eri-chan. Will you forgive me of what I did?"
"Haru-kun… you got nothing to ask sorry for. It's me who has to blame since I don't know what to do…"
"I'm sorry Eri-chan. I'm sorry that things turn this way. But always remember that no matter what happen tomorrow, I will always be here for you."
"Well, got to go back home. See you tomorrow Eri-chan." Niou hanged the call and waves his hand while he leaves. As he walked away, it's the only time he realize that he is wearing pajama. Good thing that the street is so clean that nobody could notice him or else he might be misunderstood as sleep walking.
Graduation day has come and as Eri wished, Niou and Marui went to the old Rikkaidai tree. It might be a tough decision for her to choose between the two boys she loves dearly but it's a must. After her father permits her to excuse herself, she immediately runs towards the big old tree.
"She's late," Marui muttered.
"Do you think she'll come?" Niou ask while leaning on the opposite of the tree where Marui sit.
"Who knows…" the red hair replied and popped his green apple bubble gum.
Suddenly, Niou spotted the girl running towards their direction. He immediately fixed himself and welcomes the girl with a gentle smile. As Eri approached him, she accidentally tripped on her kimono and fell towards Niou's arms.
"Hey Eri-chan, are you alright?" the trickster asked.
"Ha..hai, I'm alright Haru-kun…" the girl replied while blushing. "Stupid kimono!"
"Why are you so careless Eri-chan?" Niou asked and assist Eri to stand properly.
"I'm not careless Haru-kun…" she replied with a smile.
"Ah, that's my girl… but don't let me worried about you so much," the trickster said and place her two hands on Eri's shoulders and looked at the girl's eyes directly. His sapphire eyes gazing with sincerity at Eri's dark brown eyes.
The girl suddenly takes away her gaze on Niou but the later raise Eri's chin gently so that their eye contact will be maintain.
"Don't be careless Eri-chan… and please always take care of yourself. I'll do everything to see you happy."
"What do you mean Haru-kun, why are you saying these things to me?" Eri asked uncertainly when Niou suddenly hugged her for a while.
"I'm ending our contract here," the silver hair whispered and let go of the girl.
Eri stayed on her place and couldn't react for the moment. Is everything only the trickster's act as part of their contract?
"Haru-kun, I…" again Eri's sentence was stopped.
"When the dark, white horse moves forward and forward, it goes back." The silver hair said as he pulled away from the girl.
"I still don't understand Haru-kun."
"Eri-chan, I know that my presence brings you a lot of trouble. When we first met, I thought I could have you to play my pranks but as I know you more things become different. You have Marui before you have me and I know that no matter what I do; Marui will always have a place in your heart."
Eri doesn't speak up as tears started to fall from her eyes. She wipes it with the sleeves of her kimono like a helpless child. "Is everything part of your trick Haru-kun?"
Niou nods, "You're right Eri-chan, everything is only a play. I only like you because I see you as Aiko (Niou's first love). I'm sorry Eri-chan… please forgive me. Puri~"
"I hate you Haru-kun! I hate you!" Eri yells while punching Niou lightly on the chest but the trickster ignores her whinning.
"I know you're still there chewing your precious bubblegum Marui Bunta! Show yourself now; your Honey is waiting for you!" Niou yelled while receiving Eri's attack.
Surprised of Niou's words, Marui swallowed the green apple bubblegum. Then he casually shows himself to them.
"Now that your prince charming is here, allow me to leave and give both of you privacy to talk about yourselves," Niou said and avoid looking back at Eri. When he passed Marui, he pushed the tensai towards Eri and grins mischievously. "Puri~"
"Niou you're…" Marui glares at the trickster since he accidentally hugs Eri.
"As I told you Marui, I am not the kind of person who will betray a friend." The trickster said and waves his hand in a careless manner then he walks away.
As he walks dejectedly, he encounters Eri's father halfway. He looked at the older man and gives a gloomy smile. On the other hand, Eri's father gives him a tap on the shoulder.
"Is it really alright with you, Niou-kun?"
"Hai, Ichirou oji-san… I take your advice to make Eri-chan happy. And I know she will be happier with Marui." Niou replied and looked at the bright sky.
"Niou-kun, it's not what I meant when I told you to always secure Eri's happiness."
"I know it Oji-san, bust still I lie to her, I told Eri-chan that I love another girl."
Eri's father sighs and pats Niou's back lightly, "It's part of growing up. Unless you didn't experience pain of sacrifice you will never be a man. Eri will study in Germany for 2 years… it's her flight tomorrow."
"If Eri-chan will go to Germany does it mean…nah, why does water keep pouring from my eyes?"
"Take this to wipe your tears, don't be embarrassed." the older man gave him a handkerchief.
"Arigato gozaimasu for everything Ichirou oji-san," Niou said and gives a bow. Then he takes the handkerchief and runs away.
"Young love… how thrilling yet painful in the end… it's so rare to find someone like him this time. Someone whom I could entrust Eri and be called as my son," Eri's father said to himself.
Niou wipe his eyes and continue running towards the school gate. His mind is clouded by many things and pain is tormenting his heart. But what can he do, even it hurts life must go on. It's so early to say that Eri is the girl meant for him. There are many things that will happen along the way and he still have 10 more years to keep his promise of staying at Eri's side as a friend and to prove to Eri's father that he is worth of the girl.
"The next time I see you Eri-chan, I promise that I will be the man worth of you…" he mumbles under his breath and suddenly stopped from running when he saw someone that really surprise him.
Niou gives a smirk and walks towards the direction of the only person who called him like that. Life is really unpredictable, a time for goodbye and a time for hello. Who knows what lies ahead?
"Ah…why does the sky is so blue today? Ne, Aiko…?"
Author's Note: Will Niou still hold his promise to be by Eri's side? Or will he move on with his life and renew his affection with other girl who happened to be his first love?
Please do not remove this from STORY ALERT since I will publish a sequel for this. But then it will take a long time since I will concentrate with "Dance with Me: Tango by Three" (AtobeXOCXSanada).
Feel free to tell me your opinion about this ending on your review. Arigato Gozaimasu. *bows*