At last, he finally said the words out loud.
His palms were cold and clammy. He found it embarrassing to show this side of him to Chihaya.
They both stood there, in silence. He stood anxiously waiting for her response but she stood in front of him wide eyed and speechless.
Perhaps he made a really bad move…whether he'll risk their friendship over his unavoidable feeling?
C'mon say something…he repeated in his head. The awkward silence was broken by Chihaya's nervous laugh.
"Taichi, you're being weird" she laughed coarsely. The tone of her laugh told him that she too felt discomfort between them.
"Do you wanna come in and have a glass of juice? You're sweating. I'll tell mom not to interrupt us while we practice karuta in my room later." she said with a smile, trying to avoid the subject and his eyes which were still fixed on the ground.
She felt uncomfortable hearing this sort of thing from Taichi. Why is he making her feel this way?
She started to walk towards the house, walking pass the frozen figure of Taichi when his shaky hand moved and grabbed her arm gently.
"Ah." Chihaya whispered softly in surprise, turning her head to the side to see Taichi's stiffened reaction.
"Chihaya…" keeping his eyes on the ground "please take me seriously" he brought his chin up and looked over at Chihaya's surprised eyes. Each second, it felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest. The beat of his heart pounded painfully in his ears.
"I've been keeping this in ever since we were young. I can't…" he paused and looked away with embarrassment preparing himself for the next line of words that he can never casually say to anyone. "I can't keep it in anymore. This one sided crush…it's painful, Chihaya"
He squeezed his eyes shut realizing what he had just said was not a thing he would say and he wanted to melt on the floor with embarrassment. But, he was sick and tired of being a coward and running away from her.
Chihaya's cheeks blushed under her skin. She hasn't seen this side of Taichi and it made her feel extremely shy towards him however she couldn't believe any of it at all.
She couldn't believe that Taichi, her best friend, is standing in front of her house, confessing to her. All this time, she looked at him only as a friend and a brother. She thought it was just a silly joke he's pulling on her. It was always like this when they were younger. He'd tease her continuously, she'd get mad and he would enjoy every reaction she made. And right now, she bet this was one of his sick, childish jokes.
Maybe he's waiting for me to freak out so he can make fun of me or maybe he's expecting me to talk sweet and he'll laugh at me afterwards! Well I'm not falling for it!
She shook her arm away from his grasp, "Taichi! Stop messing around! It's not funny. You're crossing the line with all these teasing so quit it!" she exclaimed with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
"I know you wouldn't love me in that sort of way and you have a girlfriend. What are you trying to pull?"
She held her hands on her cheek and playfully mimicked a typical teenager girl in love, "Oh, Ta-kun!" she imitated the way Taichi's girlfriend say his name.
Taichi let his head drop. He let out a soft chuckle as he fought to hold back his tears.
"Here I am, scared and nervous, confessing my feelings and you take it as a joke." He shook his head and chuckled again softly, "But if it was Arata standing here, I bet you'd take him seriously!" he tried to hide his sorrowful face. He held back the tears that were ripping their way out to his eyes.
He swallowed back the big lump in his throat and stood there a little longer, waiting for her to accuse him of being wrong and to defend herself about Arata. But there was nothing but silence.
When he heard nothing from her except for her deep breaths he started to walk away feeling embarrassed yet again and incredibly stupid.
Chihaya was confused. She didn't know what to do or what to say. She froze on her spot, unable to do anything but watch Taichi's silhouette walk away into the setting sun.
And why did he bring Arata up? What was that all about? So he was serious? Guilt took over her. She didn't know what was going on. She didn't know Taichi felt that way towards her and she had treated him rudely.
She finally found her composure and moved her feet to run to him, apologize to him. She started to walk slowly but after a second she came to a halt.
If she caught up with him, what would she say? What would she do? Should she apologize and hug him like those characters she read in mangas? That's all that she can think of right now.
Just run to him and hug him and apologize for her rude actions but she couldn't move again.
All of a sudden she felt something warm trickling down her cheeks. She reached up and found her tears had escaped from her eyes without realizing it.
Why am I crying? What is this feeling?
Her legs gave up and she fell to the floor, putting her palms in front of her face crying as Taichi vanished out the corner of the street and the sun finally disappearing in the horizon and darkness took over.