Snow Falling – Chapter 6 [Finale]
The next morning is horrible.
Airi cried herself to sleep and totally forgot the fact that she told her mom she’s spending a night with Nanako. So when she came downstairs in the morning, Airi find herself in big trouble.
“Airi-chan!” her mother shouted when she saw her daughter sleepily walking down “Why are you here?”
“I thought you’re with Nanako-chan!”
“Busted…” Airi mumbled to herself. But lucky for her, Kenta saved her life.
He walked into her house like he lives here, eating Airi’s breakfast and compliment her mother’s cooking skills. Seeing Airi was in trouble, he helped her out by saying he walked her home last night. And that statement only, put her mother at ease.
“Thanks” she whispered to Kenta.
“You’re welcomed” he grinned.
They walked to school together. It’s as if a dream comes true for Airi. Kenta rarely goes to school with her after he starts dating 2 girls a week. Though it’s supposed to be all dreamy, Airi somehow feels… nothing.
Her mind went back and forth from Shiniji to Kenta. Why is she not happy that she’s with her first love now? Is it because she feels sorry for Shiniji?
“Airi!” she went back from la la land and realized that Kenta is calling her.
“Are you sleep-walking?” he teasingly asked. Airi shrugged… doesn’t want to haggle with him. Kenta was silent for a little while before he said “I meant it”
“I meant it” he repeated “I meant what I said last night.” Airi stops walking. All these things are too much for her emotional control to handle in 24 hours. “I may realize it unforgivable late, but I do realize it now. You are the one I really love. And I knew you have feelings for me too…”
Airi sighed deeply “Ken-chan…I –”
“Hey! Do you have any appointment today?” Kenta’s voice rose when he quickly changed the topic. He acts as if he didn’t say anything a minute ago.
“I remember a place we used to go after school.” He continued.
“Oh! Umm. Sorry Ken-chan, I have Archery practice today.”
“Ah yeah! I almost forgot. When is your match? Isn’t it next month?”
“Yes” she replied. Kenta pats her head.
“You’re going to do well” he said “You always do”
“Thanks” she smiled for the first time and that makes Kenta happier.
“Hey if you win the match, I’ll treat you a meal”
“Ken-chan, you always bribed me with food” she pouted.
“It’s because you are too skinny! You need to add more meat to your body”
Airi hit him with her school bag. “Ouch!” they’re laughing along all the way to school, not knowing a pair of eyes watching them all these times.
At school, everyone is in the bad mood… well everyone except Kenta.
Nanako is angry with Airi because as her best friend, Airi refused to tell her where did she go and who was she with or what happened last night.
Airi is depressed because not only her best friend is angry with her, but she also couldn’t decide where her heart really lies.
Shiniji is sad and moody but try to cover it up in front of Airi. He snatched some girl from the other class and has been with the girl all day long causing Airi to be even dimmer.
Shiho is upset with Kenta as she has never been neglected by any men before. And for him to disregard her for someone like Airi who is inferior to her in every way makes Shiho even more furious.
Tatsuya is also mad at his best friend because Kenta has been a jerk and ignored him for the past couple days.
Glad that Airi and Shiniji separated, Kenta couldn’t care less that there are 2 people angry at him. But after sensing and realizing how depressed Airi is, Kenta also becomes gloomy knowing she still has feeling for Shiniji.
Somehow, Shiniji managed to switch the seat with another student and he is now sitting far away to the right. Both Airi and Kenta know the reason. Nanako notices it but she says nothing.
But as the afternoon comes, her patience is lost.
“Airi-chan, are you really not going to talk to me?”
“Am I not your best friend? Aren’t I a person you can trust anymore?”
“Nanako-chan, it’s not like that.” Airi tried to explain “It’s just that… there are something I’m not comfortable about and –”
“Forget it” her best friend cut her line “Just tell me when you are “comfortable” enough to discuss” and she walked away, leaving Airi behind.
How great, now even her best friend refuses to speak to her. Airi shuffled to the Archery field.
Airi warmed up next to Hayashi Eirie, her team mate who is in second year. Both of them wear sweatshirt and trousers. The bows are in their hands and the long tubes of arrows is in front of them.
Even just for practice, Airi strangely performs very badly.
She pulls another arrow from the tube and aims.
“Are you fighting with her, nii-chan?”
“What?!” once again, the arrow missed its target, it landed on the grass. Airi turned to Eirie, annoyed.
“Nanako-sempai” Eirie said “Are you two fighting or something?”
“Oh, yeah…” Airi pulls another arrow out “Just a typical friends’ fight”
“I see… no wonder I saw she stormed away earlier” Airi aimed at the bull’s eye, and this time, the luck is hers.
“Yes! Rie-chan, I hit the bull’s eye!” but Eirie isn’t listening, she is staring at something. Airi turns around to see what her young friend is looking. And there, sitting on the bench waiting for her, is Kenta. He waves at Airi and Eirie when he saw them looking at him.
“He’s waiting for you?” Eirie’s surprised “He’s never been around here ever since he and Tamao broke up” Eirie talks about another girl in their Archery club.
Airi turns back to her track. For some reasons, that fact doesn’t hurt her anymore. Her arms and hands hurt from lifting the heavy bow and pulling the arrows, but she still pulls another one out.
But just that moment, she saw Shiniji walking along the side with a different girl in his arm. A pain flashed up and Airi missed her target.
“Does he distract you?” Eirie asked. Before contemplating her words, Airi nodded. “Then I’ll shoo him away!” Eirie shouted and ran to Kenta.
“What?” Airi was confused and then realized her stupid. Her junior meant Kenta was distracting her, not Shiniji! “Wait! Rie!”
Kenta has had a great laugh when Eirie told him to get lost coz he’s making her senior and team captain losing her concentration.
“The Archery match is coming up!” she yelled at him “And Airi nii-chan needs undisturbed practice! So sempai, go away please!”
Airi caught up with her. “Sorry, Ken-chan” she quickly apologized “Just a little misunderstanding” she pulled Eirie back to the field and hissed. “Rie, it’s your turn to practice!”
“But but but”
After finishing her practice, and got long lecture from the coach as she’s not as accurate as she supposed to, Airi walked to the waiting Kenta.
Her coach’s words still echoed in her head “Whatever distract you, go deal with it”
And Airi would have to do exactly like that.
“Airi” Kenta called her “Let’s eat ice-cream”
“In this winter?” Airi asked him “In this snow?”
“Yep!” he confirmed “It wouldn’t be fun if we eat it in summer, eh?”
Airi thinks if it’s a week ago, she would definitely jump at this chance. But that’s the past, and this is the present.
“Sorry, Ken-chan, I –”
“Well, I know you’re tired” he continued “We could go to that Café. I remember you really like the shortcake there”
“Ken-chan” Airi called him “I’m sorry. But I need to see Nanako-chan”
As she expected, Nanako refused to see her when Airi went to her house.
She’s not picking her phones and not replying her texts.
But Airi doesn’t give up. She knows Nanako’s house as well as her own. Airi climbed up the tree to her friend’s bedroom’s window and knocked.
It must be the annoyance that makes Nanako pulls the curtain apart. Her eyes bulge when she saw Airi sitting on the tree branch, knocking her window.
Putting the anger aside, Nanako was afraid that Airi would fall and hit her head to the ground, so she quickly opened the window and let her friends climb in.
“Airi! Are you out of your mind?” Nanako brushed the leaves and snows out of her clothes. “If you have a death wish, do it at your house, not mine!”
Airi laughs. That is so Nanako. She throws her arms around her friend’s body “What do you want me to do? My best friend is not speaking to me. So I have to gain her attention this way” probably that makes Nanako remember that she’s angry at Airi, coz she turned away.
“Nanako-chan” Airi pulled her sleeve “I’m sorry”
Nanako sighed “I’m sorry too” Airi surprised “I shouldn’t push you too much.” She sat down on her bed. “But it’s so frustrating that you don’t talk to me about it. It’s like you don’t trust me enough to tell me that”
“I know. I know. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was going out last night”
“Idiot! I didn’t talk about last night!” Nanako swings her hands around
“Then what’s you’re talking about?” Airi started raising her voice as well.
“I’m talking about Kenta”
“What?” Airi shocked. So Nanako knows it? All these times, she knew it?
“You really think I don’t know?” Nanako pouted “I’m your best friend, but you don’t even tell me this important thing” Airi sat down next to her, speechless. “I know you like Kenta. I know it for a long time. But I didn’t say anything because I want you to tell me that by yourself when you’re ready” Nanako paused and chuckled “But seems like that time never comes”
“I’m sorry” finally, Airi speaks up “I guess I have kept it to myself for so long… too long that I never thought of sharing it. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings”
Nanako hugged her “But I also know that you’re over him now, right?”
Airi looked away “I don’t know”
“I can sense that you and Shiniji… Weren’t you two going out?”
“Do you like him?”
She nodded again.
“And what about Kenta?”
“I don’t know!” she groveled to the bed “I don’t know what to do anymore!”
“Yah! Get up!” Nanako pulled her friend up “Now learn that this is what friends for” she pulled Airi to face her “Tell me what happened and how do you feel about both of them”
Airi told her everything. From her first love with Kenta to her kiss with Shiniji and now that Kenta is into her while Shiniji went back to his playboy self, Airi was so confused which one she really likes.
“Well then, I guess you are the source of the problem” Nanako said.
“What? How am I the problem? It’s them!”
“No. You need to sort out your feelings and stop torturing the boys”
“Hey! When did I ever torture them?” Airi brawled.
“You brat! You didn’t know that at all, do you?” Nanako hissed “You never know Tatsuya has the biggest crush on you, right?”
“Yeah. He talked to me about it. Both of us know for a long time that Kenta likes you.”
“What?” There are so many surprises today.
“Kenta didn’t let Tatsu confess to you. I guess he didn’t realize it that time, but thanks to Ichizawa Shiniji, that jerk finally realized his feeling”
“I never know this”
“Don’t worry” Nanako patted her head “Tatsu has moved on now. He knows you don’t like him. But! It’s all because of you. You gave him hope even though you didn’t realize it. And now you’re doing the same to those guys”
“Then what should I do?”
“Sort out your feeling.” Nanako told her “Find out who you really love and let the other one go.”
His eyes are on the book, but his mind was somewhere else.
Shiniji is thinking about Airi. She seems fine with Kenta. And that guy didn’t let her out of sight. He sighed. It’s him who couldn’t do anything. They are all fine.
Shiniji turned his cell phone off. He knew he shouldn’t have tried using those girls to hurt Airi, though obviously it failed. Now those girls keep calling him non-stop. But Shiniji still wants to know if she ever calls. He reach over to the phone.
Before he could turn it on, his half-sister, Shiho barged in.
“What is it now?” he mumbled.
“Get that nerd away from my boyfriend”
“Isn’t she your girl? Get her back!”
“Shiho, they were friends long before knowing us”
“I don’t care” she flipped her hair “Get her out of my way”
Shiniji sighed. Maybe going out with those annoying girls would be better than listening to his sister right now. “Whatever, I’m off now”
“Where are you going?”
“I have a date”
“Date? Aren’t you dating that Yamamoto girl?”
“Nahh. We broke up. Bye”
Shiniji aimlessly walked further away from his house. Before he knows it, his feet brought him to an unfamiliar street. Shiniji then randomly walk into a Café before hurriedly get out of it. He glances back. They didn’t see him.
Airi and Kenta are sitting at a corner, talking. Because the guy sitting with his back towards the door, Shiniji couldn’t see his face, but he can clearly see Airi’s. She’s looking as cute as ever. Airi holds Kenta’s hand and said something to him. And Kenta moved up to…
Shiniji couldn’t stand it.
His whole body is shaking. He quickly ran away from that scene.
Now he knows how Kenta felt when he saw Shiniji and Airi kissed.
His mind was so caught up with them that he wandered back to that park. The park that he kissed her for the first time, the park that he also left her behind.
Shiniji sits down on a bench, looking around them. There is snow everywhere. But why can’t it cool him down?
He turns his phone on and looked through all the numbers calling him. There’s none of her. He chuckled to himself, what was he expecting after seeing them at the Café?
He looked through the mail box next. All those mails are from the girls he flirted with.
‘Shin-chan, let’s meet up’
‘Call me back please’
‘Why are you turning your phone off?’
Shiniji thoughtlessly deleted them one by one until… his breathe stumbled.
‘Please come and meet me at the rooftop 5 PM. – Airi’
Shiniji couldn’t hide his nervousness. Why would she want to meet him? Did she want to say something to him? Should he go and meet her?
And the fright creeps up to him. What if Airi just want to tell him she’s with Kenta now? What if she just wants to make it clear… that they officially broke up? He saw them at the Café and it hurts him tremendously. Could he bear hearing her tell it to his face?
Shiniji couldn’t make his mind. A part of him wants to see her so bad, but another part does not wish to look into those expressional eyes ever again. 5 PM. came and passed, Shiniji watched the clock ticking. Maybe it’s better this way… maybe it’s better than they won’t meet again.
But at that moment, he thought back to all those times they spend together. When Airi laughed or cried, the way she looked at him and Kenta. And her lips…
“Gosh! I have to see her” Shiniji abruptly ran off. Even if it’s for the last time, he needs to see her. He knew that he would regret it if he didn’t. No matter what it is she needs to say, he’d say what he wants as well.
Half the way to their school, Shiniji just realized that the snow is falling again and it’s getting darker and darker. He left the house without thinking, so he only wears sweater and denim trousers, no coat, no jacket or even gloves. Heck, he doesn’t even have the wallet with him. But Shiniji couldn’t care less. All he has in his mind is that he hoped Airi is still waiting for him.
Shiniji jumped over stair steps to his destination.
It’s already dark. The sun has set and even though it hasn’t, it was hidden behind those clouds whole day. There were only lights from the electric posts and the athlete clubs where those people are practicing. Shiniji looked around… there’s no sight of her anywhere in this rooftop.
“I knew it. I’m late again. She would never talk to me now” he panted and slide down to the floor. It’s already 6 PM. he’s more than an hour late. Of course, Airi wouldn’t be here waiting for that long.
Shiniji lightly laughed at himself. How pathetic he is, couldn’t even hold on to his true love.
The door to the rooftop flew open, and the girl he wants to see the most rush in. She didn’t notice that he was sitting next to the door she just ran passed.
“God! He must have gone back already. I was so late” she rested her hands on her knees, gasping for breath. Shiniji couldn’t believe his eyes. The girl is even later than he was.
“Airi” he called out and she turned around suddenly to see him.
“Shiniji” she mumbled before shouting “Shiniji! I’m so sorry I’m late! How long have you been waiting?” he opened his mouth to tell her but she keeps continuing “I’m so sorry. The coach didn’t let me go. And my phone was out of battery, so I couldn’t call you. Are you angry with me? I –”
“Airi!” he cut her. Airi stunned at kept looking at him. She was about to say something but Shiniji stopped her, his hands are holding hers tightly. He inhales deeply to gather his courage before saying. “Please let me say this first, coz I don’t think I would have the guts to say it ever again.” He paused “Airi, I love you”
Airi looked up at him
“I really do. And I believe that my feelings are not any lesser than Takano’s. But I also want you to be happy. And if staying with him makes you happy, then I’ll step away myself. But if you still haven’t decided, then I’m ready to fight to the end”
She looked down to her feet, speechless. The tears are welling up behind her eyes.
“Airi” Shiniji called “Say something” she finally lifted her head up to meet his eyes.
“Shiniji… I… I have already decided” he gasped. His grip loosens. But it’s Airi who hold his hands tightly “My feelings for Ken-chan were strong and they are still there, but it’s no longer as deep.” Shiniji looked at her, unable to believe what he’s going to hear “I’m healing” she said “And it’s all because of you. Because I think… No. I know. I know that I love you”
The happy Shiniji pulled her to his arms. And Airi continued saying “But if you’re going to cheat on me, I’ll go back to him” Shiniji laughs and his grip tighten. He kisses the side of her head and her forehead.
“I would never do anything to hurt you”
“Liar, you went out with those girls as soon as you left me” she wriggled around in his arms, trying to avoid his kisses.
“What about you?” he pushed her off a little to see her eyes “You were all laughing and smiling with Takano”
“But you’re the one who left me. You also pushed me to him”
“I know” he hugged her again “And I regret it. I should never give him a chance” Shiniji thought of what he saw at the Café. His hands ran up to her face before he forced a kiss on her lips.
Airi was astounded but she yields in to him. Their kiss was so passionate that they feel like they are the only people in this world. Shiniji’s experienced lips nibble hers and when she opened up, Airi received the French kiss for the first time in her life.
When they eventually pulled apart, Airi is still dazed. “What was that?” she whispered with her eyes closed.
“A revenged kiss” he smiled, resting his forehead on hers. “I saw you two at the Café.” He revealed. Airi’s eyes opened.
“But we didn’t kiss” she said, confused.
“But I saw him… erm…”
“He just kissed my forehead” her arms snaked around his waist. She just realized how cute Shiniji is when he’s jealous. “I met him there to tell him about what I feel. And he let me go” Shiniji caressed her rosy cheeks.
“I’m surprised he let you go so easily”
“It’s not so easy if you ask me” she pouted and once again, Shiniji couldn’t help but pecking her lips. “Enough about me. What about you and your girls?”
“You’re my only girl”
“Liar.” She’s trying to get away from him again. But Shiniji doesn’t let her.
“Don’t be angry, ok? But I just used them”
He blushed “I used them to make you jealous” Airi’s cheeks are redder. She hit his chest.
“Ouch!” he pretended to be hurt “You are so mean”
Another snowflake fallen on his head. Shiniji dragged her inside the building, away from the snows. That’s when Airi notice what he’s wearing.
“You came out of the house wearing that?” she pointed at him. “I’m surprised you’re not frozen”
“I’m too hot to be frozen” he grinned
“Vain” she called him. But still pulling a scarf out of her bag and put it around him. Shiniji just realized that his hands are feeling numb. It’s fricking cold out here.
“It’s actually freaking cold” he said “I ran here without thinking” her eyebrows raised “Actually, I just arrived here a little earlier than you.”
“What?” she cried “What if I was waiting for you? Shiniji, you idiot! Is this how you treat woman?” he grabbed her fist mid-air.
“What was I supposed to do? I thought you’re going to dump me for goods.” He kissed her hand “I didn’t want to hear that. But I just realize I have to talk to you or I’ll regret it for the rest of my life”
“Are you happy that you came?” she smirked.
“Absolutely” Shiniji used his body to push her to the wall. And then bend over to claim his possession. They ardently kiss, again and again.