Chapter 4 – Kiss heard round the world
It seemed that everything about the bullying was gone. Replacing it was awkwardness between him and Rina and rumors that him and Akemi were dating. But, it was time for presentations so no one really took notice of the changes.
Rina stammered through her presentation, flustered that this was her first time talking to Yuuta since her second confession. However, Rina is so painfully shy that she avoided talking to Yuuta since the whole shoe incident. Her friends made her, for the first time, their sole focus of attention and she didn't know how to balance the two. She resigned herself to the fact that her feelings with Yuuta would be one sided, but was terrified that he might be looking at her.
Akemi, on the other hand, performed eloquently, like she was used to presentations. She never looked at notes. She knew when to change the slides, what was on each slide without ever turning. Yuuta only realized that she was nervous because she was shaking like a leaf when she sat back down.
It took a week for the presentations to be fully finished and they went straight into exams.
"We should do a goukon to kick off the summer," someone called out at the sound of the bell. Excited chatter erupted as people discussed times and places.
"What are you doing this summer, Akemi?"
"Oh, I'm working. What about you, Shun?"
"Nothing in particular… Are you taking on more hours?"
Akemi shook her head. "At my first job, I can only be part time since I'm in school. So I found a second part time job I can work during the week."
"Where," Yuuta asked, slightly upset.
"Umm.. a restaurant."
"Is tuition that expensive?"
"Oh, no, but it'll be my last chance to make a lot of money before the New Year… and I'd like to help out at home if possible."
Shun smiled, wanting very much to hug her for her hard work. He wasn't entirely sure of her situation, but he knew that it must be very hard if she has to work as much as she did.
"Are you ready?"
Akemi put her chopstick back in her locker and slipped on the shoes. "Yeah."
"What are your hours?"
"Your new job… at the restaurant," he asked, looking straight ahead.
"Oh, I'm working nights."
"Is that safe?"
Yuuta's eyes slid to her, "You know, being a girl, coming home late."
"I'll be okay."
"Akkkkeeemmmiiiii," someone called from the front gate.
Akemi looked up and smiled, the biggest smile anyone in the group has ever seen. The group looked to where Akemi was running. There was a guy and a girl, the girl was in another school's uniform, waiting for Akemi with her arms open.
They guys watched as the girls squealed. The guy patted Akemi on the head and she punched him playfully.
"Akemi, who are those guys watching you?"
Akemi looked over her shoulder. "Oh, they're friends. Let me introduce you." Akemi held Mao's hand, who held the boy's hand and walked over. "Guys, this is my best friend Mao, and her boyfriend, Ryosuke."
The guys were taken aback, Mao was busy embracing Akemi from behind. Burying her face in her hair, sniffing Akemi. "I haven't seen you since school started and the first thing you do is take me to see other guys," she pouted.
"Hey!" Ryosuke tried pulling Mao off of Akemi. "You're supposed to be hugging me, " he playfully scolded.
Akemi ended up spun around, her back to the guys, while Mao held her (they're face to face now) and looked over her shoulder at them. "So, you must be Shun?"
"Eh, how did you know?"
"Akemi talks about you."
Mao went off naming everyone in the group. Mary being the most obvious as she was the only girl. She paused when she got to the twins. "One of you is Yuuta and the other is Yuuki…"
"Hey," Ryosuke called again. "My next class will be starting soon. I need to get going."
"Aww!" Mao pouted, hugging Akemi tighter, "Akemi, let me spend the night!"
"Oh, Mao, I'm sorry. I have work."
"I hate your work!"
Akemi patted Mao on the head, "I know I'm sorry. I haven't been a good friend."
Mao pulled back and held Akemi by the shoulders, tears nearly in her eyes. "No, it's my fault. If I was here you wouldn't have gotten bullied."
"Hey, don't be so dramatic," Ryosuke said, smacking Mao on the head, shocking the rest of the group. Ryosuke looked at Akemi apologetically, "I really have to get going…"
"It's okay. Thanks for coming to see me." Mao and Ryosuke sandwiched Akemi between kisses on the cheek. Akemi laughed like a little child being kissed by parents.
"Make time or me okay," Mao said, holding Akemi's hands.
"Us…make time for us," Ryosuke corrected.
"I will," she said as Mao was practically dragged away and thrown into a car.
After the car drove out of sight, Akemi turned around, still shining from the encounter.
"What… the heck… was that," Kaname asked, nearly exhausted.
"I'm sorry, those were my friends… Ryo and Mao…" Akemi said, although they were already introduced.
"Do you know them from childhood," Mary said, trotting along the group as they finally left school.
"Mao and I met in middle school and were best friends instantly, but we ended up going to different high schools. Ryo is older than us. He was dating Mao when I met her. He's a university student. They're both very energetic."
"Dating since middle school!?" Chizuru asked, shocked.
"It happens you know, you're just completely unlucky in love," Kaname quipped.
"Isn't it random," Yuuta asked.
"Umm… no not so much. It was more weird that we haven't seen each other for so long, it's just become so much harder to do so. I'm working so much and she's studying really hard to get into the same university as Ryo. Other than that, she tries to see him as much as possible, but he's nearly done with university, so he needs to focus on getting a job."
"Sounds complicated," Yuuki said as they waited at an intersection.
Akemi looked down, seemingly saddened, "Yeah, I guess…"
"WAAAHHHHHH" Chizuru whined, "I want a girlfriend! They're practically married!"
"Who would date a chatty monkey like, you" Kaname said, adjusting his glasses.
"His time will come, everyone's will," Shun said, pushing Kaname along as they crossed the street.
Yuuta looked up, realizing that Akemi wasn't with them. Akemi looked up and started to cross, but the warning signal was going off. Yuuta ran back, using his body to push her back to the curb. Akemi grabbed onto his shirt to keep from falling over. "Are you okay," he asked Akemi. She nodded into his shirt.
"Yuuta…" his brother called from across the street. Ahh… we should probably leave them alone… He thought and turned urging the others to continue on.
By the time Yuuta looked back, his brother was gone as was the rest of the group. His attention was brought back to Akemi when she backed up from him. "You spaced out."
"Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking," she smiled nervously.
They waited on the curb for the light to change again. This time, Yuuta held Akemi's hand as they crossed the street. The walked back home in silence. Akemi slightly behind Yuuta, staring at their hands.
Why… he's always holding my hand… he probably thinks he has to because of everything that happened with Rina… I don't even know if they talk anymore. He probably thinks I'm a burden… Ever since the shoe thing... OH NO! I haven't even properly thanked him for the shoes!
He closed his eyes when she called him. That sounds nice.
"Thank you… for the shoes. I just realized I never thanked you."
He turned to face her, still holding her hand. "It's okay, I never put my name on it."
"But I knew it was you, and it's been a month already…"
He stopped walking, stepping closer. "It's okay."
Her face flushed even more. Her heart beat so hard she could hear it pounding in her ears. "Why?"
"I noticed that Rina never talks to you anymore…"
"Takahashi and I are done."
She looked up at Yuuta. She never heard him call her by anything other than her first name. "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault."
Yuuta squeezed her hand. "Why are you asking?"
She turned her head, embarrassed by what she was going to say, but needing to know the answer … "It's just… you're always walking me home… and holding my hand… and…" she took a deep breath and looked him in the eyes, "I want to understand why."
"Is it not obvious?"
"No, not unless you say it."
"Don't actions speak louder than words?" This took her off guard. "What do you think my actions are saying?"
She looked at him, still shocked, "I was trying to sort out the difference between you and my brothers the other night. I was talking to Mao about it, which is probably why she came today."
This took Yuuta by surprise. He knew her brothers were older than her… at least by 5 years since they were already out of college and working… She was right. He hadn't done anything different than what an older brother would do… walking her home, carrying her bag occasionally, holding her hand…
He looked at her, she was still talking and was now avoiding eye contact.
He squeezed her hand again, "Akemi…"
As soon as she turned, he leaned in, nudged her nose to make her tilt upward, and kissed her. It was a closed mouth kiss but she felt like they were standing there forever.
He pulled back slightly; her face was hot as he rested his forehead on hers. "What do you think my actions are saying?"
She looked him in the eyes, her chest heaved. This time he let go of her hand. She stepped back slightly, but he cupped her face in his hands and brought his mouth to hers. One hand slipped into her hair and the other wrapped around her, holding her to him as he slid his tongue in her mouth.
She kissed him back, her tongue sliding along his…Then pulled away in embarrassment. (They were in public on a sidewalk.)
"What do you think my act—"
"You like me."
"I like you too," she said, looking directly at him, but thoroughly embarrassed.
It was amazing, the kiss, how she reacted… what it felt like when she said she liked him. No avoidance, no eyes closed. But direct and clear. His chest swelled with joy while the room in his pants got smaller.
"Yuuta, I'm sorry, but I really need to head home…"
Back to reality... "Work?"
"Well, I'm working from home tonight, but my brothers…"
He nodded and they resumed their walk back home… holding hands, side by side.
Meanwhile … back to when they were at the intersection…
"We got separated," Shun asked.
"Let's just go," Yuuki said, pushing them along.
"We should stalk them!"
"Chizuru!" Mary said…appalled, sort of.
"You're curious too, aren't you Mary?"
Mary looked at Shun. "Are they dating?"
Shun looked at Yuuki, "Are they dating?"
Yuuki looked at Kaname. "Why are you looking at me?! He's your brother."
"If we follow him, it'll look weird if he gets home before Yuuki,"Chizuru said, scheming.
"But I want to watch…"
"You could run home," Shun offered.
"That would be too obvious," Kaname said, still feigning disinterest.
"Should we split up," Mary asked.
The all looked at Mary. "If we did that, we could see it from different angles…"
"How will Yuuki beat him home?"
"Well, after a certain point, it'll be too difficult, so he'll just have to go home then. Anything after that we'll have to report."
The discussed quickly and ran off. They broke out into teams: Yuuki and Kaname are Team 1. Shun, Chizuru and Mary are Team 2.
Team 1 went across the street, Team 2 stayed behind to follow them.
They followed them in this manner and nothing seemed to be happening. "This isn't any different than every other day," Kaname complained.
"I know, I'll have to give up soon."
"Yeah, I need to go home… We should call Team 2," he said fishing for his phone. Kaname felt a hand on his shoulder.
They watched as Akemi seemed to be asking a question…
"She's blushing a lot." Kaname said squinting.
"He's getting really close."
"What are they saying?"
Their eyes went wide.
"He kissed her! On the street," Kaname said in shock.
"It's my phone Yuuki," Kaname fumbled to answer it, not taking his eyes off of them. Kaname dropped the phone. This kiss was much, much more intimate than the first one. "Oh… my …g…"
"I'm going home," Yuuki said, slinking away.
Kaname just nodded, his own face flushed in embarrassment for watching.
"KANAME!" the voice on his phone called to him.
"Shun didn't want to yell…"
"We should go."
"Yeah, let's double back to the tea shop so they don't see us."
"Okay…see you soon…"
Yuuta finally walked into his house, "I'm home."
His father slinked around the corner. "You got home after your brother."
"We got separated at a stoplight."
"That's not even proper grammar…" he said walking past his father.
"Are you hungry," his father asked.
"Yeah," he sat down at the table beside Yuuki.
"Welcome home," he said, looking at his older brother expectantly.
Yuuki and his father stared at Yuuta.
"Did you tell him," Yuuta asked Yuuki.
"Tell me what," his father asked, looking back and forth between the two.
"Why are you looking at me like that…" there was silence, "You guys followed me again didn't you."
"Okay, now I really want to know what happened," their father said, already forgotten.
"Did you see?"
"Maybe… Are you mad?"
Yuuta paused, "No, I don't think so."
"Should I be congratulating you?"
"Maybe… Are you mad?"
"No, not at all."
They both turned to their father. "I'm hungry, where's mom," they asked in unison.