The Runaway Empress

Chapter 11

"Kimikocchi! Over here!" Kise waved at the newcomer, and heads turned as everyone in the café looked at the person that had earned the model's attention. A girl with chartreuse hair wearing a purple spaghetti top, black pleated skirt, and gladiator sandals was smiling pleasantly at the beaming blonde, and everyone wondered if she was Kise's girlfriend.

"You're the popular one, do you know that?" she quipped as she sat across Kise, her hand waving a waiter over to their table. She scanned the menu, and Kise followed suit. "Any chance of this headlining the news tonight?"

Kise smiled in his usual carefree way. "Nope! My fans respect my privacy."

She hummed. "Good to know that they still have some discipline in them. Though I am sure that they're quite the rabid bunch when they get to see you wandering around the streets."

"They only do that when I'm alone."

She raised a brow in amusement, then informed the waiter of her choices. "I'll have a mocha frappe and red velvet cake."

"Cappucino and black forest cake for me!"

The waiter bowed before leaving to get their orders, and Kise found himself staring at the girl before him, his face in his hand, while the chartreusette was busy looking at the people outside through the glass wall of the cafeteria.

Kimikocchi is like a doll, he thought absentindedly, taking in Kimiko's face with her captivating eyes with bewitching golden depths, her long eyelashes that brushes against her rosy cheeks whenever she blinks, her delicate nose, and her pink lips that looks oh so delectably attractive especially when she smiles...

"Beautiful...," he murmured. The girl heard him though and she turned to face him, eyes lit in wonder.

"You were saying, Ryou-kun?" she asked, and Kise still finds it a bit disconcerting that this new Kimiko was a tad nicer and more mellow than the one he knew from middle school. Not that he was complaining.

Maybe it comes with growing up, he reasoned.

"Nothing, Kimikocchi!" he replied with a grin. "Ne, Kimikocchi, not that I don't like it, but I noticed that out of all of us, you call me 'Ryou-kun' instead of 'Ryouta' like you used to back then..."

She stared at him for a moment, then blinked once, twice, before mirroring Kise's position, resting her chin on the back of her hand. She shrugged. "I don't know."

"Kimikocchi!"

She laughed. "Seriously, I don't know! You just came over yesterday and when I opened the door, it came into my mind and has stuck ever since."

"So does that makes me special to Kimikocchi?" Kise asked excitedly. He can't help feeling smug. Kimiko actually calls him by a nickname, unlike the other Kiseki no Sedai. Not even Kuroko has that special treatment.

Kimiko's lips quirked in a half-smile. Kise really acts like a child. "Of course. You're like a younger brother to me, regardless of the height difference. I don't know, I just have this tendency to always look out for you."

Kise knows what her answer is going to be, always had ever since they first met, but there's no harm in hoping, right? At least he won't live with the regret of not asking her about it. For Kise, it's like a form of finality, for him to accept that that's how far he can go with these unrequited feelings of his. After all these years, he finds himself letting go.

But still, he can't help feeling smug about it. Kimikocchi says I'm someone special! And the fact that out of all the other members of the Kiseki no Sedai, it was only him that Kimiko calls by a nickname, and that was saying something. Not even Kurokocchi got this special treatment from Kimikocchi.

His smile went a couple watts brighter. If Kimiko sees him as a brother — a younger brother, to be specific — then he's fine with it. It's better than nothing. And if ever Kimiko finds that special someone, then he'll be happy for her, and then it will be his turn to look out for her. He'll be her knight in shining armor if ever someone dares to play with her heart. They better not try, or they'll have one furious Kise Ryouta to deal with.

"Aww, Kimikocchi is so sweet ~!"

Just then, the waiter returned with their food, and the two talked about Kaijou's ex-captain. Kise told her everything he knew about Kasamatsu, which was a lot — to the point that Kimiko eyed him suspiciously.

"You sure you're not stalking him?"

"I do not! I'm just — observant! Yeah, that's it! I'm just observant!"

"Alright, alright, if you say so," she drawled, not believing him.

"Kimikocchi, you have something on your —" Kise placed his fork down and with his thumb, he wiped the icing on the corner of her lips. "There! Gone now!"

"You could have just told me," Kimiko said.

"Hmm, can I have a bite, Kimikocchi?" Kise asked, eyeing her red velvet with obvious interest.

"Yeah, sure." And saying that, she surprised him when she took a forkful of her cake with her and offered to him. "Here, say 'Aah!'"

Kise leaned in and let her feed him. He savored the sweetness of it, and closed his eyes in bliss. We're acting like a real couple, he realized, but he did not let it get to him. We're siblings now, so no.

"So, how about a new guitar, then? An acoustic?" she suggested. "You've mentioned that his guitar was a bit old. Let's get him a new one."

The two went to a music shop that Kise had visited once with Kasamatsu when Kaijo's captain bought new strings for his guitar. They headed to where several acoustic guitars are on display and Kise's eyes sparkled when he remembered that Kasamatsu had been eyeing one in a metallic blue color that time.

"Kimikocchi, I think this one would be perfect," he said, pointing to said guitar. Kimiko smiled, indeed, the guitar's color was nice.

"If you say so. Get it then, and let's pay up."

Kimiko included a capo and an extra set of strings and Kise went up and paid for it. It cost him quite a fortune but the blonde didn't mind; he can always earn that back easily with his part-time job as a model.

As they waited for a cab, Kise suddenly had an idea. "Kimikocchi, are you free next Sunday?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Wanna go with me to a photoshoot?"

Her eyes brightened. It was her turn to get excited. "Really?"

Kise laughed. "Hai! Really. I'll pick you up?"

"What time?"

"Around seven in the morning. The shoot starts at 8:30 but if we go early, I'll give you a tour and introduce you to my manager."

"Sure!"

On the ride back home, both had smiles on their faces — one from excitement of seeing how the other's workplace looks like, and the other from excitement of getting to spend more time with the other.


It was Wednesday, and Kimiko had nothing to do in her house but to mope around with nothing to do. Yesterday she'd gone to Teiko to check things up with her "students" and she was glad to know that they were all doing fine. However, they don't have practice today due to some reason or another and thus, she has no reason to go to Teiko today. She tossed and turned in her bed.

"What to do, what to do..." she grumbled, lying facedown on the soft mattress.

Her phone beeped and she reached for the device on top of the pillow. Her movements were lethargic as she slid open the screenlock with a swipe of her hand and read the message.

[From: Himuro Tatsuya]

[Good morning, Kimiko-chan.]

Kimiko rolled over and smiled as she read the message. She reached out for a pillow and placed it above her stomach as she typed a reply to Himuro.

[To: Himuro Tatsuya]

[Ohayou, Tatsuya-kun.]

She pressed 'Send' and a few minutes later, he replied.

[From: Himuro Tatsuya]

[Are you free this Sunday?]

"Hmm? Why would he—" she raised an eyebrow. Her fingers were already typing her reply. She wondered out loud, "He's not asking me on a date, is he?"

[To: Himuro Tatsuya]

[I have someplace to go this Sunday. Why do you ask?]

[From: Himuro Tatsuya]

[I was thinking of inviting you out for a dinner or a movie together, if that's fine with you. How about Saturday?]

"Dinner? Movie?" she read out loud. "Hmm, well, he's a nice guy, though. No harm in going out with him to eat ..."

[To: Himuro Tatsuya]

[Sure. We can go out this Saturday. Just tell me when and where.]

[From: Himuro Tatsuya]

[I'll get you from your house after lunch. Movie first, then we'll eat out. Is that okay with you?]

[To: Himuro Tatsuya]

[Yep. I guess you're staying in Tokyo this weekend?]

[From: Himuro Tatsuya]

[Yeah. At a friend's house, so you don't have to worry about me getting home late. :P]

She giggled at the cheeky comment. "Idiot," she mumbled.

[To: Himuro Tatsuya]

[Hmp. Fine. See you Saturday ^_^]

[To: Himuro Tatsuya]

[Thanks. Gotta go, break's over. Saturday, then :)]


"Muro-chin, stop smiling like that. You look like an idiot."

Himuro glared at the purple giant beside him at the cafeteria. "What are you talking about, Atsushi?"


"So where to go? Shutoku or Seirin?" Kimiko wandered around Tokyo, and her feet led her to a certain greenhaired Oha-Asa follower. It was late afternoon; classes were already out, and several students on their way out stared at the chartreusette as she went the opposite way. The gym was easy to spot since it was huge one. As she neared the door, she can hear the shouts of the club members and the squeaks of their shoes as they did their warm-ups, followed by a dribbling sound and the swoosh of the ball through the net.

"Kimi-chan?" A voice spoke behind her, and she stopped and turned, surprised.

"Kazunari!"

Takao grinned at her. "Nice to see you again, Kimi-chan! You're visiting Shin-chan?"

Kimiko nodded. "Yeah, thought I'd drop by since I was in the vicinity."

"Then let's go!" Takao led the way to the gym, then he stopped at the door and called out in a loud voice.

"Shin-chan, Kimi-chan's here to see you!"

Midorima, who was in the process of shooting one of his famous high projectile three's, released the ball too early due to Takao's shout, causing it to graze the ring before falling right in. His eye twitched in irritation. He turned to glare at the chuckling hawk.

"Takao!"

"That's the first time I saw that happen to your shot, Shintarou. So this guy here is the one who can make the great shooter to miss his shot?"

Midorima blinked. "Kimiko... What are you doing here?"

Before they could continue their conversation, Miyaji passed by him and smacked his head, causing his glasses to get askew. "Talk to your girlfriend later, Midorima! And you too, Takao! You're late! Get to practice! She can watch from the bleachers."

Kimiko could hardly contain her laughter. The look on Midorima's face was priceless! Takao was laughing manically beside her, and she elbowed him lightly.

"Go to practice, you idiot!" she whispered harshly, and that stopped the boy from his laughing fest. Midorima had already turned his back to them and was talking to Miyaji, probably clearing things up. Takao apologized to her then went to the side of the court and did his own warm-ups before joining Midorima. Kimiko watched them from above and noticed how close the two were to one another. Their plays were perfectly in sync. And it was there that she saw the move that Midorima and Takao used against Akashi during the Winter Cup.

"Amazing," she said to herself. "So that Takao is skilled in passing and a wide field of vision, too. An excellent point-guard..."

Down on the court, Midorima overheard someone say, "Midorima-san's girlfriend is beautiful, ne?"

Takao chuckled at his partner's expression. "What's with the face, Shin-chan?"

"Tsk. Miyaji-senpai just had to open his loud mouth and say that Kimiko is my girlfriend. And now everyone in the club thinks the same thing."

Takao slapped him on the back, earning a glare from the ace. "You look pretty cute together, though."

"S-shut up, Takao."

"Eh? Is Shin-chan blushing?" Takao stood on tiptoes and brought his face closer to Midorima's flustered one, causing Midorima to blush even more.

"Get away, Takao!" He shoved the ball he was carrying to Takao's hands and jogged away to the other end of the court, leaving the ravenhead confused at his reaction. 'What's with him?' he thought as he dribbled the ball and ran towards the greenhead, who went into his shooting motion, and Takao passed the ball smoothly into his waiting hands. Midorima caught the ball mid-air and shot a graceful three.

Above them, Kimiko smiled mischievously. "Oh my, is that love I see?"

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