"It's raining." Yakumo whispered as as she walked by the patio door. She had left it open earlier with the intent of carrying out a load of laundry that needed to be dried but it seemed as if that would have to wait. By the looks of the dark clouds in the sky, she suspected that it might take till morning to put the clothes on the line.

Placing the basket of damp clothing beside the patio door, she walked into the kitchen and proceeded to clean off the counters. Sundays were usually reserved for cleaning since Yakumo was busy every other day. If not with her studies then with a tea club meeting. Though lately, she hasn't been able to relax while making tea since Hanai had started hovering outside the club room door. She sighed and briefly tried to figure out why Hanai insisted on stalking her everywhere.

Her sister, Tenma, would usually stay home with her during Sunday mornings and help her clean before running out of the house to spend the afternoons with her friends but today was the last Sunday of the month. This meant that Tenma was enjoying her monthly all-you-can-eat ice cream day with Mikoto, Akira and Eri. They usually went to see a movie afterwards so she didn't expect her sister to return until shortly before sunset.

Yakumo honestly didn't mind the alone time this particular day brought her. It was easier to concentrate when her sister wasn't constantly making a ruckus. Yakumo smiled to herself. She didn't care what others said about her older sister. She thought her sister was the sweetest person in the world, even if her poor grades were a constant worry for Yakumo. Though if Tenma had to repeat her third year year, it would put the two of them in the same class.

When eleven o'clock came around, Yakumo figured it was time to see what she should make herself for lunch. She needed to buy groceries for the house anyway. Writing a quick list, She placed it in the pocket of her white capris and located her straw shopping bag before locking up the house and setting off for the market with her cerulean umbrella overhead.

Halfway down the road that led from her traditional home to the supermarket, Yakumo stopped to admire some daisies growing on the side of the road. A couple of boys sporting rubber rain coats, that she recognized from her class, were jogging on a trail to the right. Both stopped and began to wave wildly in her direction. She tried not to frown as words began to appear above their heads.

"Wow, Miss. Tsukamoto is even prettier today than she usually is."

"She's the hottest girl I've ever seen!"

Neither voiced their opinions out loud. That much she was grateful for. When she waved back shyly, they grinned and began to jog, once again, down the dirt trail. Neither seemed to mind that it was raining at all. Looking down, Yakumo began to walk a little faster. The rain was making it a little chilly and her thin purple sweater wasn't helping much.

Finally making it to the market, she stepped to the side and allowed an elderly couple to walk in ahead of her. Closing her umbrella, she pushed the handle in and placed it inside a protective plastic cover before placing it in her shopping bag. Pulling out her list, Yakumo walked inside and headed directly for the produce section of the store.

"Hey Yakumo." She heard someone call. Turning towards the familiar voice, she smiled.

"Sarah, how are you?" She asked.

Her blonde friend seemed just a tad nervous. "I'm alright. I was about to visit you when the storm started. I ducked in here to wait it out. I've got something to give you but it can wait until after you finish your shopping."

Curious but nonetheless patient, Yakumo continued her shopping with Sarah at her side. Paying for everything, she carefully placed it inside her straw bag and walked out into the rain with her friend. The two headed back to the house under the blue umbrella, neither speaking. By the time Yakumo opened the door and let Sarah in, she was itching to ask her what she needed to give her. She quickly put away all the groceries and pulled out a box of berry tea bags from the cabinet.

"Would you like your tea plain or sweetened?" Yakumo asked as she pulled out a tea kettle and a porcelain teapot.

Sarah laughed. "Plain please. I really need to cut back on the sugar if I'm ever going to fit into my dance dress."

"But you're so thin already." Yakumo complemented. She couldn't fathom why girls felt the need to drop a dress size right before special occasions at school. She figured the ever independent and carefree Sarah would be above doing something like that.

"Not as thin as you." She sighed as a teacup was placed in front of her. "But enough about that. I've got a message to deliver."

"A message?" Yakumo asked as she sipped her own sweetened tea.

Sarah began to dig around in her purse. "I know I put it in her somewhere...Ah! Here it is." She pulled out a small white envelope with Yakumo's name on it and placed it on the table in front of Yakumo. The handwriting was all too familiar. This letter was yet another love note from Hanai. Yakumo grimaced and Sarah began to look even more sheepish. "I'm sorry. He cornered me in the hallway yesterday and wouldn't let me pass until I agreed to pass the note on."

"It's not your fault." Yakumo assured her before tentatively placing her hand on the envelope. She nearly jerked her hand back. All of Hanai's intensity was clinging to this letter. Yakumo could assure herself, even before reading it, that Hanai had probably spent quite a while trying to perfect this note. It radiated with passion and sincerity. She wished, once again, that she couldn't feel the inner thoughts of the boys around her.

"Are you going to read it or sit there poking it?" Sarah asked with slight curiosity in her eyes.

"Is there a point in reading it? It'll be just like every other letter." Yakumo whispered before taking another sip of tea.

Sarah leaned an elbow on the table and rested the side of her head in her palm. "If Hanai isn't exactly your cup of tea then who is?" She asked suddenly, causing Yakumo to look startled.

"My cup of tea?" She repeated, not exactly sure what her friend meant but having a vague idea.

"I mean who do you like? Since Hanai seems to sort of repel you." Sarah asked again, her dark eyes alight with curiosity.

Yakumo blushed prettily. "I don't like anyone, really."

This wasn't true at all and Sarah seemed to know it. "We're best friends, aren't we?"

Yakumo nodded. "Of course."

Sarah clasped her hands together and pouted. "So please tell me the truth."

Stunned by her friend's intuition, Yakumo thought about telling her who she had been fondly thinking of lately. The truth was that Yakumo's thoughts had been consumed with a certain animal lover she knew. Kenji Harima, a boy in her older sister's class, was known throughout the school as a rebel. Though he seemed to be a far cry from the bad boy he used to be at the beginning of last year, Yakumo knew that Sarah would find her declaration of possible love for the delinquent disturbing if not laughable.

Looking at the table in embarrassment, Yakumo shook her head. "I can't. Please understand."

Before Sarah could question her any further, both girls heard a knock at the door. Grateful for a distraction, Yakumo stood up and scurried from the room. Opening the door, she was a little surprised to see Kenji Harima himself. Said boy stood on the porch with a black umbrella in hand. Upon seeing that the door had been answered, Harima closed his umbrella and shook it out.

"I'm here to fix the heater." He said with an awkward smile. She now saw that he was wearing the same uniform he had worn when he fixed the air conditioner last summer. There was slight moisture on the outside of his glasses, as if he had been looking up at the rain previously. Blinking in surprise, Yakumo fought back a blush and stood to the side so that Harima could walk inside.

"C-could I interest you in some tea?" She asked nervously before taking his umbrella from him and sitting it in a umbrella holder next to the door.

He shook his head. "Thank you but I'll be fine. Just point me in the direction of the heater and I'll get right to work."

Yakumo stared at him disbelievingly. "I did call earlier to have the heater fixed but they said nobody would be able to make it until after the rain stopped since you'll have to climb on the roof to fix it."

Harima shrugged. "They told me. But I figured I should head over anyway and say hello. Besides, a little rain never hurt anyone."

Worried about the possibility of Harima trying to climb a ladder in this weather, Yakumo took his arm and began to lead him towards the kitchen. "At least wait until it lightens up. I'll make you a snack or something."

When Yakumo and the surprised looking Harima entered the kitchen. Sarah looked at the two in curiosity. "Is everything alright?"

Yakumo didn't miss the glint in Sarah's eye. She felt as if her friend could see right into her heart and knew exactly how she felt. Blushing harder, she guided Harima over to the table. "Everything's fine. Harima is here to fix the heater since the weather is getting colder and all. Would either of you like something to eat? I was just about to make lunch. I hope spicy curry is fine with you."

The two nodded and sat at the table while Yakumo set right to work on lunch. As Yakumo stirred the curry, she listened intently to the small talk the two were making.

"So you're in Tenma's class, right?" Sarah asked politely.

"Uh-huh." Harima answered in a enthusiastic voice. "And you have class with Tenma's sister, right?"

Yakumo repressed a sigh. He had been calling her that ever since they both started working on his comics. She didn't understand why he couldn't just call her by her name. He doesn't even call her by her last name. "Right." Sarah answered.

"What's this?" Harima asked. Yakumo looked over her shoulder and saw him pick up the little white envelope that remained unopened on the table.

Panicked, Yakumo turned off the stove and walked quickly towards the table. Taking the letter, Yakumo put it in the pocket of her pants. "It's nothing. Just some junk mail."

Sarah gave Yakumo a disbelieving look before grinning at Harima. "It's a love letter. I swear, she gets one almost every single day. It's no secret that Yakumo is very popular with the boys."

Blushing scarlet, Yakumo gave Sarah a pleading look. If looks could speak, her's would be saying 'SHUT UP' at the loudest decibel imaginable. Sarah seemed to get the message and finally shut her mouth.

Harima laughed and looked up at Yakumo would a light expression. She wished he weren't wearing glasses so she could see his eyes but bit back the desire to reach out and remove the offending object. "Yeah, that sucks. Getting chased all over the place by a bunch of overzealous guys must be tough on you."

Yakumo smiled weakly before heading back for the stove. "It's easy to ignore most days."

Dividing the curry and rice onto three plates, she sat them on the table and made more tea. When the three had sat down to eat, Yakumo felt more nervous than ever. It helped that Sarah was there to ease the tension. Said blonde did a good job of thinking up conversation topics.

Unfortunately, Sarah had to leave as soon as the dishes were washed. Yakumo walked her friend to the door and offered her a spare umbrella so that she wouldn't get wet as she walked home. Shutting the door, Yakumo walked back into the kitchen with Harima. He was currently sitting at the table, staring out a window.

"It lightened up. I'm gonna go ahead and get to work. Harima stood and walked out the door, his mouth set in a grim line. As the heater was repaired, Yakumo continued to clean the house with a dazed expression. Why did Harima look...upset? Was that the right word? Feeling as if she might have done something to offend him, Yakumo felt very uneasy.

"I finished." She heard him call as she walked down the stairs with some dirty dishes she found in Tenma's room.

"Uh, thank you." She said. "Let me get my purse and I'll write you a check."

Putting the dishes in the sink, Yakumo located her checkbook in the side pocket of her straw shopping bag and began to write a check to the company Harima worked for, plus an extra tip for Harima since he had to work in the rain. Handing it over, Harima folded it up and placed it in his overhaul pocket.

Realizing that her time with Harima was drawing to a close, Yakumo looked towards the door sadly. Harima suddenly cleared his throat. "Are we still on for Tuesday? Coffee at the cafe? I've got a new comic for you to look over."

Yakumo looked up at him and nodded with wide eyes. "Yes, of course. I'll be there."

Harima's stone-like expression softened slightly. The former delinquent gave her a small, rare smile. He reached forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Have a nice day Tenma's sister."

In spite of her desire to hear him say her actual name, she gave him a small smile in return. Yakumo was nothing if not patient. She'd wait for him to realize her feelings, even if it took till graduation. As she watched the tall boy walk away with his black umbrella overhead, she felt her heart ache a little. But at the same time, she felt happy. Kenji Harima really did remind her of her sister in some ways. Maybe that's why she liked him so much.

Later that evening, Tenma arrived home with a dazed look on her face. As the two siblings sat down for dinner, Yakumo finally remembered the letter in her pocket. Pulling it out, she gazed at the envelope for a moment before tossing it in the garbage can near the table.

Tenma looked up in surprise. "What was that?"

Looking at her plate with a thoughtful expression, she shrugged. "Junk mail."

"Did I get any mail?" Tenma asked excitedly. When Yakumo assured her that she had not, Tenma frowned. "You know what, I've been thinking that it's about time Karasuma and I went out again. There's another wrestling match we could attend this Tuesday after school. But I hate leaving you at home all by yourself. Wanna go?"

Yakumo looked at her older sister and smiled, touched that her sister cared so much that she would invite her to go with her on a date with the boy she liked. "Thank you but I've got something I need to take care of that day." Tenma only nodded and continued to eat her supper.

While scraping the leftover bits of food into the trashcan after dinner, Yakumo caught sight of the envelope. Gazing at it, an idea began to form in her mind. After putting on her pajamas that night, Yakumo sat at her desk and pulled out a paper and pen. Taking a deep breath, she began her letter of declaration.

Dear Harima,

She paused with her pen over the paper. What could she say? Sighing she crumbled up the paper and threw it in the trashcan. Maybe it would be better to let things happen on their own. After all, Yakumo was absolutely positive that there was no possible way to explain what he meant to her in a single letter. She really didn't even know that answer herself.

Switching off her bedroom light, Yakumo climbed into bed and closed her eyes. When did she turn into such a coward? If she were brave, she'd get back to her desk and write a passionate love better with reckless abandon. The idea of rejection had planted itself in Yakumo's mind. She had always suspected that Harima loved Tenma. She had often heard him mumble her name while talking to himself and the thickest of sunglasses couldn't hide the eyes that gazed at her longingly. Even though Tenma didn't seem to return his feelings, she one day might and who was Yakumo to try and deny Harima's desire to confess his love?

Curling into a ball under the covers, she stared out the window sadly.



Startled, Yakumo sat up and looked at the window. She could have sworn she saw something hit the glass. Afraid but wanting to disprove what she thought she saw, she climbed out of bed and crept towards it. Before she could even reach it, she saw something hit the window again. She blinked. It looked like a pebble.

Looking out the window, she was surprised to see Harima. The full moon illuminated his face. Opening her window, she looked down at him. "What are you doing here?" She asked.

"Um... Do you think you could go ahead and read my comic now? I can't wait for Tuesday. Please?" He asked.

Staring at him for a moment in surprise, she shook her head to clear it. "Sure. Go to the front door. I'll be down in a minute."

As soon as he began to run for the front door, so did Yakumo. She carefully snuck past her sister's open bedroom door. Said third year was sleeping soundly in her bed, a peaceful look on her face. Giving her sister a sad look, she shut her bedroom door for her.

"I'm sorry but I'm not sure if I can give you the chance to change your mind about him." Yakumo whispered before walking downstairs and opening the front door for Harima.

Harima walked right in then, regular clothes on his back instead of his work clothes and a large manila envelope under his arm. The two sat at the traditional table in the dining room and Harima handed her the comic. Opening it up, Yakumo pulled it out and blinked in surprise. Instead of seeing a drawing of her older sister like she always sees in all his other comics, she's shocked to find a drawing of herself.

He coughed and looked at the table with slightly red cheeks. "Well, I was talking with the guy from the comic book company and he says I have real potential but that I might want to choose a look that better fits the personality of my heroine. Since the heroine has a softer, more romantic personality, I ended up doodling a bunch of characters and eventually this is what I came up with. You think it's good?"

Looking through the comic in surprise, she felt her eyes begin to well up when she hit a specific page. There in the middle of the comic, there was a little sticky note that had been placed there. In Harima's slightly messy handwriting, it read,

To Do List:

1- Visit Cousin

2- Fix Yakumo's heater

3- Finish final page of comic

Seeing the tears in Yakumo's eyes, Harima began to freak out. "Ah! I knew it sucked! Never mind! I'm so sorry!"

Yakumo shook her head quickly. "No, please don't worry. The comic is wonderful."

Wiping away the only tear that spilled, Yakumo read the remainder of the comic happily. That little sticky note wouldn't leave her mind. For the first time, he had used her actual name instead of just calling her 'Tenma's sister'. Later that night, Yakumo walked Harima to the door, a content smile on her face. Before Harima could walk away, Yakumo quickly reached forward and hugged him tightly.

Harima tensed slightly in surprise. When she pulled away, she couldn't help the blush that formed. "What was that for?" He asked.

Smiling at him, she waved a hand, as if to dismiss it. "Nothing for you to worry about. Please have a wonderful day at school tomorrow."

Harima began to blush. "Are...we still on for Tuesday?"

At first Yakumo just stood there in shock. He still wanted to meet up even though she'd already read the comic? Smiling just a little brighter, she nodded. "Wouldn't miss it."