It all started when Kairi and I were walking to my house after ballet practice.
Normally the two of us didn't hang out together much after school, but exams were coming up and I'd asked – okay, pestered him to give me some private tutoring in the afternoons. That way both of us could revise at the same time. Everyone's happy.
Unfortunately I forgot I had ballet practice after school today, so he was stuck watching me and the other girls twirl around the studio while sitting on a chair at the far end. I could tell he wasn't exactly pleased with how he had spent the last few hours, but at least he didn't confront me about it. Maybe it'll all blow off and he'll forget about it. He's not the type to hold a grudge, after all.
"Hey, iinchou, look over there!" I had just spotted a new ice cream stand across the road, and I decided it was time for a snack. Before Kairi could protest, I had dragged him over to the stand and bought two ice creams.
"Ace, we should get to your house now and start studying. We already lost two hours at your ballet practice," he started to say, but I shut him off by stuffing a cone into his hand. He had that flustered and slightly exasperated look on him again; I don't know why, but I love seeing him like that. It's just so cute and endearing, in a way.
Just then, a brown-haired girl with glasses walked up to the stall and ordered an ice cream. As she waited for her ice cream, she looked sideways at us, and I could see her eyes widen in surprise.
"Kairi-kun?" she said in a surprised tone, surprising me as well. How did she know him?
"Huh? Zuki-chan?" he replied, equally surprised. He knows her too?
"Who's this?" I asked, wanting to get to the bottom of this.
"Ace, this is Zuki-chan, my old classmate," Kairi introduced her, but I could see his cheeks turning slightly pink. He's blushing because of her? Strange.
"Zuki-chan, this is my classmate, Yaya-san," he said to her. "What are you doing here in Tokyo?"
"I just moved here during the summer holidays when my father's company relocated him," she explained, smiling at him. "I'll be going to Seiyo Academy starting next Monday."
"Seiyo Academy? That's our school too!" he exclaimed, his face lighting up. "That means we might be classmates!"
"That would be so cool!" she said happily, while I stood aside watching them engage in conversation, like a mere bystander. I did not like this at all. Kairi was supposed to be helping me with my schoolwork, not standing here chatting to an old friend. And from the looks of it, they were once pretty close. A feeling of jealousy started to creep upon me. I'm not sure why, but somehow I don't like the idea of the two of them together.
Sure enough, when Monday came there she was, standing at the front of the class smiling that annoying smile of hers at everyone. "Class, this is Kiyosawa Zuki-san. She just transferred here from another school, and now she will be studying here with everyone. With exams coming up, I hope you will all pitch in to help her understand the curriculum as fast as possible," the teacher said as he introduced her.
Just my luck she was assigned to the empty seat beside me. As she sat down she flashed that smile of hers at me. "Hello Yaya-san. I'm so glad to see you again. Let's be friends, shall we?" she said as she extended her hand in greeting.
"Sure, whatever," I said not too enthusiastically as I shook her hand limply. I usually love making new friends, but I wasn't so sure I wanted to be her friend.
In the first few days after she arrived she was busy making friends with everyone. You could always find her in the classroom during recess, chatting to someone else about homework or the teachers or whatever caught her fancy. Pretty soon the whole class grew to like her, and even the teacher made her a class president alongside Kairi. That last bit made me really displeased, as Kairi would be spending more time with her carrying out class duties, instead of revising schoolwork with me. Her arrival has certainly changed a lot of things around here, and I don't like it.
Two weeks later I finally managed to catch Kairi alone at recess eating at the cafeteria. I immediately plunked down my tray of food beside his without asking first. I really wanted to have a proper chat with him, as we haven't been seeing much of each other lately.
"Um, Ace, if you don't mind, could you sit somewhere else? I'm saving this seat for Zuki-chan," he said.
That was what set me off. "Zuki-chan this, Zuki-chan that! Ever since she came you haven't been talking about anything else but her! Honestly Kairi, have you forgotten everything else when you're around her?" I shouted.
He opened his mouth to speak, but I just continued on. "I mean, what is it about her that you like so much? Is she your former crush or something? What is it between the two of you?"
I finally stopped for a while, for I was out of breath. To my surprise, he nodded his head slightly. "Yes, I do have a little crush… on Zuki-chan. She's been my best friend ever since second grade. I like her a lot, and I really like being around her," he said slowly, his cheeks starting to blush.
I was completely caught unaware by this. "So that's why…" I stuttered, unable to say anything else. The silence between us stretched out to fill several seconds, and I felt like the smallest person on Earth. I was really embarrassed, and also a bit heartbroken.
Suddenly I stood up, startling him a bit. "If that's the case… I'll leave you two alone…" I said as I turned to leave. I had to get out of there fast, before the tears came out. I knew that once they did I wouldn't be able to contain myself, and I would be even more embarrassed.
However, as I turned I slammed into Zuki, who was holding a tray of food. I fell to the floor, and her tray came crashing down on me. The spaghetti and orange juice on the tray fell onto my shirt, leaving an array of orange and red stains on it. I could feel everyone staring at me, whispering to each other while pointing at me, and in the middle of it was Kairi-kun, standing there with a horrified expression on his face.
"I'm sorry," I sobbed as I stood up, with tomato ketchup, spaghetti strands and orange juice all over me. Two streams of tears were running down my face, and all I could think about was getting out of there fast. I started running away as fast as my two legs could carry me, and I thought I could hear Kairi-kun cry out "Yaya!" from behind me, but I didn't stop. I just kept running, out of the cafeteria and through the corridors, not knowing what else to do.
I kept running until I came to the girls' bathroom, and I yanked the door open in one swift movement. Thankfully there was no one there, so I was free to cry my heart out as I tried to wash off the stains on my uniform. As the water ran down my shirt, turning the stains into smudges, I began to calm down a little. I haven't cried this much since after Tsubasa was born, and it felt good to let all my pent-up feelings flow freely. However, a new sense of numbness covered me immediately. There was no way I could face the rest of the class after this, much less Zuki and Kairi. And the school day was less than half over, so I had no choice but to bear the shame until after school.
When recess ended, I sat back at my desk with my head down, not daring to make any eye contact with anyone else. Zuki tried to talk to me, but I just ignored her. Once in a while I could feel Kairi staring at me from two rows away, but I didn't look back. I just kept my head down and tried to make as much sense of the teacher's words as well as I could. When the bell finally rang to mark the end of school, I ran out of the classroom without looking back.
I didn't stop to greet anyone as I headed straight for home. Not even when I passed by Rikka-chan and Hikaru-kun, and they called to me. I just wanted to hide myself under the covers of my bed, and shut everything else out. Then at least I would feel a bit better.
When I reached home, I bounded up the stairs without even stopping to announce my return to my mom, or to say hi to Tsubasa. The first thing I did when I got to my room was to take a bath and change out of my dirty uniform. After dumping my uniform into the laundry basket in the hallway, I went back to my room and locked myself in. I then flopped onto my bed, staring blankly at the ceiling for what seemed like hours.
Suddenly the ringing of my cellphone broke the silence, and I picked up my phone from the bedside table. Looking at the caller ID, I could see that it was Kairi calling. I didn't know whether I can face him now, but I took the call anyway.
"Ace, can we talk?"
I remained silent for a moment, then I replied, "Where are you now?"
"I'm right outside your house."
I was immediately at the window. As I drew back the curtains, I was surprised to see him standing in front of my front door, waving up to me. I hung up, then ran downstairs.
Kairi and I walked in silence until we came to the park near my house. As we sat down on a park bench, neither of us spoke. Then he broke the silence. "Zuki-chan heard everything we said back in the cafeteria."
I didn't say anything, and he continued. "After you ran out, she told me that she just liked me as a friend, and nothing more." As he said that, I could see his head droop down a little, as if his feelings were still hurt. I guess they probably were.
He then looked up at me, his blue-green eyes staring into me. "So, um, why did you run out back then during recess?"
I took a deep breath. I didn't know if I was able to confess my feelings for him yet, but I pushed on anyway. "I ran out because I didn't like to hear that you liked Zuki-chan the way you did. It was because… I like you too."
A mild look of shock appeared on his face, but I continued. "I like your thoughtfulness, your effectiveness, and your wisdom. I like how you seem so mature and like you know about everything. I like you because you're dependable and punctual, and because you're a good friend. I even like your exasperated expression when you're displeased with something I did. I like all that about you, and I like just being around you."
I paused for a moment, while my words sank into him. Then I said, "I guess I was jealous of all the attention you've been giving Zuki, and I felt like you neglected me. I was wrong to blow up because of that, and I hope you can forgive me. Will you, Kairi-kun?"
He was silent for a while, then he surprised me by giving me a big hug. "Of course I forgive you, Yaya. I'm sorry I forgot about you. And also," he let go of me, and his cheeks started to blush again, "I think I might like you too."
I could definitely feel my face growing hot. "You… you really mean that?"
"Yes. Yes, I do," he said softly but firmly. Then he paused for a while before continuing. "I'm not really sure of my feelings for you yet, but I do know that I want to be your really good friend. I want to be there for you when you're feeling sad, and also when you're feeling excited. I want to be able to share in your happiness and your hardships, and I hope you will allow me to do so."
I listened silently to his words, then I finally smiled. "I will, I will! After all, you're my very best friend!" Then I hugged him happily, glad to finally have him back with me. The sun shone warmly, and the whole world seemed to light up immediately.
A few weeks later, Kairi and I were walking to my house after ballet practice again. The exams had just passed, but we still hung out together after school. After that day we grew even closer, and I just think there could be something else in our friendship.
This time it was Kairi who pulled me towards the ice-cream stand. "Kairi-kun, I have to drop off my ballet equipment first," I started to say, but he shut me off by stuffing a cone into my hand. I gave him a look of mock exasperation, and he just smiled mischievously in return.
Just then, someone else walked up to the ice-cream stand and ordered an ice-cream. She turned her head, and I saw that it was Zuki. "Hey, Zuki-chan! Over here!" I shouted to her, waving my hand in the air.
She waved back, then walked over to us after taking her ice-cream. "Hi Kairi-kun, Yaya-chan!" she said to us. I finally accepted her after that day, and now we're good friends.
As we walked together, she spoke suddenly. "I'm moving again soon."
Kairi and I immediately stopped. "What do you mean, Zuki-chan?" Kairi asked in surprise.
Zuki shrugged her shoulders. "My dad's company relocated him again, to Nagoya. We're leaving in two weeks." She turned to us. "It's been really great to see you again, Kairi-kun, and to meet you too, Yaya-chan. I only wished we could have been together for a longer time."
I smiled at her. "It's okay, Zuki-chan. At least we'll never forget the memories we had together." She smiled back at me. "Yeah, we'll always be friends. I have to go home now. Bye!" Then she ran off, her hair waving in the wind.
I looked at Kairi from the corner of my eye, and noticed him still gazing after her. "Hey, what's wrong?" I asked elbowing him lightly. "You're not going to miss her, are you?"
He continued staring into the distance. "Well, I will miss her. After all, I've only met her again for a few weeks, and now she's leaving again."
He then turned to me, smiling at me. "But at least I'll still have you by my side, right?"
I smiled back, and held his hand. "Right. You'll always have me with you, Kairi-kun." Then we continued walking together, hand in hand.
First of all, this was actually a fanfic by cutevampkitten03, and I originally intended to just correct a few grammar and punctuation errors, not rewriting the whole story. However, I hoped you liked it, and reviews are much appreciated!
Disclaimer: Carrot-Bunny does not own Shugo Chara! or any of its characters, but wishes she did.