Growing Up With Dreams

Selfish Demands

Growing Up With Dreams

Chapter Ten – Selfish Demands

"You're going out again?" Kankuro asked exasperatedly. It was like she was never home any more!

"Yes, Kankuro… Why is it such a big deal?" Temari sighed, running her fingers through her blonde hair to get it to sit right.

"You've been gone almost every night this week. Aren't you still working?" It's not like it was a huge deal but most of the time he didn't know where his sister went. Never before in his entire life had she ever gone out more than once month! Let alone four times in one week! Kankuro was just starting to get worried was all. He was allowed to worry about his sister.

The 23 year old sighed and turned around to face her younger brother. "Are you just upset because I'm seeing someone? Or is it because he is American and not Japanese? Since I started seeing Lockhart-kun, you've been nothing but resistant and a pain in my ass. So what's your problem?" she demanded, teal eyes flashing.

Kankuro bristled. He didn't like her accusing him. Whether there was truth in it or not, he didn't like the tone she took with him. "Temari, I don't care who you see, American or not; I'm just worried. You spend a lot of time away from home and I don't know where you are. Are you still going to school? Are you still working? What's going on with you?" he demanded right back. He was going to stand his ground!

"Kankuro, I'm 23, turning 24 in a few days. I am a grown woman and I know how to take care of myself. Don't you think I deserve to go out and have a bit of time off?" The eldest sibling was starting to lose patience.

"This is no time to be selfish! You have obligations, Temari! You can't just forget about us and leave us behind! You have a life that needs looking after here!" Kankuro found his voice was starting to rise with his frustration. Why couldn't she see what she was doing!?

"Kankuro! I've given you both the best years of my life!" Temari snapped, angry and hurt tears starting to sting her eyes. "I've sacrificed a lot and did nothing but support you, care for you, put you through school, feed you and clothe you! How could you ever say that I was abandoning you? I am your older sister, Kankuro, and I've done nothing but give and give and give! So why don't you stop being selfish?! I deserve to be happy and loved just as much as anyone else. And if that means seeing an American who loves to listen and support me, then that's what I'm going to do! Do you not have a roof over your head? Food on the table to eat? Clothes on your back? An education in that thick skull of yours?"

Kankuro was momentarily stunned, unable to speak. How did he respond to that? "Well, don't you?" Temari demanded, her voice shaking. He only nodded yes. "Then have I not done more than my fair share to help you, support you, raise you and keep you safe? Have I not earned at least some time to myself?"

Without waiting for an answer, the blonde grabbed her purse, book, phone and keys and left, slamming the door forcefully behind her. How dare Kankuro accuse her of being selfish? She had given years of her life, did nothing but work and slave and beg and claw her way to do everything in her power to do anything and everything for her brothers. She deserved some time to herself! Even if she was being kind of selfish, so what? Her whole life, she had been nothing but selfless! It was her time now, her turn to think about herself. And despite Kankuro's denials, she knew that he really had an issue with Cole. It probably wouldn't be so bad if he were Japanese and not American but so what?

Cole had been nothing but kind, generous, funny, and supportive since she met him a month ago. He had even taken to learning Japanese with her, trying his hardest to be able to communicate with this stranger. And in return, Temari had asked him to help teach her English so she could communicate back. A strange thing to do for someone you hardly know. Though to them, it was necessary. Cole had told Temari, after much confusion and miscommunication that he would be in Japan on Yumenoshima for 6 months as he was working on a big project for his newspaper back home in New York.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Cole asked immediately after opening his apartment door for her. He saw the tears threatening to fall, the slight puffiness around her sad but beautiful teal eyes and the slight quivering of her soft pink lips.

"I had an argument with my brother," she whispered in broken English, trying to wipe at her eyes to hide the tears. This only made it worse. Her tears started flowing freely and a tiny sob wracked her chest. Cole hushed and hummed and pulled her inside, sitting beside her on his couch. She found comfort in his arms, found care and patience in his voice. He couldn't make out what she was murmuring about. It was in Japanese and she was speaking too fast for him to follow and understand. So he just held her and told her, in Japanese, that it would be alright.

Temari sighed into his warm embrace and let her sorrows melt away with the loving touch of a stranger. Blown away by the simple fact that she hardly knew this man and yet she felt so deeply for him in ways she could not even begin to express.

With the end of August and beginning of September, the summer break ended and it was Term 2 for all the students. This also meant that baseball season was almost over as it ended in October. This made Daisuke, Ryder and Naruto very sad. They always hated the winter lull. Even though the baseball club carried on indoors after school, it just wasn't the same as actually going out and playing tournaments as a professional team.

"Do you think the basketball team will hog the gym again this week?" Ryder asked with a pout from the change room stall. For the past two weeks, the High School's basketball team had been occupying the entire gym, refusing to share, with the pretext of 'training for a game'. Even Tsunade, the Tiger's baseball coach, wasn't buying it. But Morino Ibiki, Basketball Team Coach, was not a man to mess with.

"I hope not. We need to practice just as much as they do!" Naruto sighed, pulling off his uniform pants and pulling on his gym sweats.

"Well, Tsunade is the principal; can't she do something about it?" Ryder sighed, coming out of the stall in her gym uniform. For the boys it was dark blue sweats and white t-shirts with the Mihoshi High crest on the left side.

"As Principal, her powers are limited. She has to give everyone an equal shot at booking gym time otherwise it wouldn't be fair. As coach, her powers are even less. There isn't much she can do other than book time like the rest of the teachers," Dai explained, shoving his clothes into his cubby.

And Dai was right. There really wasn't much Tsunade could do for her team without showing favouritism and getting written up for it. The team this year had grown again though. Daisuke was Catcher and Captain, as always, showing great leadership and skill and ability when it came to strategizing the game. Naruto was Assistant Captain and 3rd baseman still. Ryder was Assistant Captain as well and still Center Fielder. The three hadn't changed positions over the years. They knew where their strengths were and they stuck to it. And their Pitcher was a boy named Haku. A very friendly and quiet boy with intense brown eyes that never really spoke much to anyone and kept to himself. He had a wicked arm though. Something Daisuke could recognize and respect.

Then there was Yuuto-kun as 2nd baseman, Hanai-kun as Right Fielder, and Oki-kun as 1st baseman. Then people either dropped out or switched schools or graduated, leaving Daisuke to replace Short Stop with Suyama Shoji, a teenager with a square jaw line, intelligent eyes and dark, short, buzz cut hair. He was a lot like Daisuke; mush more reserved and less rambunctious than the rest of the team. And Daisuke had to replace Left Fielder with the red head, Mizutani Fumiki. He had a friendly grin, wide dark blue eyes and a slender build. And on top of the new recruits, Daisuke had added Nishihiro Shintaro as the reserve. He had shaggy black hair and a very wide, trusting and kind face. Supposedly he was a genius in school as he never had to study for tests, much like Daisuke.

New additions meant training and lots of Team Building exercises. And today was one such day. They really needed the gym to practise today and get something done before the Baseball season ended.

When they got to the gym, Tsunade was already there having a not-very-friendly conversation with the Basketball Coach, Morino Ibiki. "You've had access to the gym for two weeks, Morino-San. I've been nothing but patient and lenient with you and your excessive booking. But now it's the Baseball teams' turn and I must insist!"

Ibiki just crossed his arms and shook his head at the Principal. "Are you sure you're not trying to be selfish and abuse your power as Principal for your silly little baseball team?"

Tsunade clenched her fists and ground her teeth, trying very hard to keep her temper in check. "You know as well as I do that I cannot and will not do that. I've given you two weeks with this gym while the Baseball team has had to do other exercises and training. Two weeks! That's more than fair. Selfish is not a term I take lightly to, Morino-San. Now, today and for the rest of the week, I don't want to see you or your Basketball team here in my gym!" she snapped.

Ibiki sighed and motioned to the boys to head for the hallways. As the team jogged by, Naruto caught sight of Sasuke. This was becoming an increasingly rare sight; Sasuke at school. As time wore on, the blonde boy noticed that his old best friend was just withering away and changing. The Uchiha had lost a lot of weight, constantly looked high and miserable, and yet still somehow managed to carry himself with that 'holier-than-thou' arrogant air that kept him as the king of the school.

Sometimes Naruto still really worried about his old friend. Worried and wondered just what he was getting himself into and often wondered just what exactly set him down this destructive, dysfunctional, detrimental path.

As Sasuke went by, he glanced at Naruto. Naruto only smiled at him and waved before going to the equipment room with the others. Unfortunately, there was nothing Naruto could do for Sasuke. The other teen wanted nothing to do with him so Naruto could only keep his distance and try not to think about it too much. Hinata smiled at him shyly, a blush covering her small pale face as he took the gloves from her with distracted thanks. The flashing smile, battering of eyelashes, and sultry voice was completely lost on the perplexed teen.

On Friday, bad news came in for the Mihoshi Tigers Baseball team. "Haku is in the Hospital with fractured ribs and a dislocated shoulder," Daisuke announced with a grim face to the Mihoshi Tigers.

"What?!" Naruto exclaimed, blue eyes wide with shock.

"What happened?" Ryder asked.

"Something about falling off a ladder trying to fix something at home. He's gonna be out for a long time. He can't play Baseball for a couple months." Dai sighed and gently touched the scar over his nose. He was nervous. Thinking. What was he gonna do? Since his childhood injury, he wasn't able to pitch any more. His arm would never be up to snuff and the other players could pitch but not with great aim or consistent velocity. They needed a new pitcher.

"Oh no! What are we gonna do? The big game against Nishiura is only two weeks away!" Yuuto panicked slightly.

They all looked to Dai for his guidance and all he could do was shake his head. "I don't know guys…"

"You used to pitch, didn't you Dai?" Hanai asked, leaning forward.

At this, Ryder looked guiltily away. Dai noticed but didn't mention it; he knew it upset Ryder just as much as it upset him… "I used to when I was younger. But I ended up breaking my arm and it still causes me pain sometimes. I wouldn't be able to pitch properly. I can't do it."

The team fell silent. They all knew that no one would be able to pitch. They could all have a go, but none of them had the strength or control to be able to pitch consistently for the game. They needed a miracle. Naruto buried his fingers into his hair and bowed his head. Think! There had to be someone to replace Haku! Hinata put a consoling hand on Naruto's shoulder. "I-It'll be ok… I'll do some digging and see if I can't find someone to step in…"

"We all should… Everyone, keep your eyes open. Do some scouting. Gym class or even other players from our other clubs here. Anyone who looks like they have control. I'll train them and do what I can, but we need to look for them," Daisuke requested. "We still have a shot at this, guys. Don't give up."

They would need a miracle to be able to find someone not only talented but willing to join the team and pull them out of this mess. Throughout their day, everyone tried their best to look for a replacement. No one had any luck at all. Time was not on their side despite Daisuke's encouraging words.

"Alright class! Get out the Baseball and Tennis equipment. We will split into two groups today!" Maito Gai ordered. The gym class split and set up. After the equipment was set up, Gai delegated the groups. Daisuke, Ryder and a few others went to tennis first while Naruto, Gaara and whoever was left took to the baseball equipment. They didn't have a diamond inside and it wasn't safe to play a full game inside so instead they split into pairs and just practised their throws.

So naturally, Naruto linked arms with Gaara playfully, "Hey, partner!" he teased with a wink of his sparkling blue eyes. Gaara flushed slightly, his heart starting to hammer in his chest; something that occurred quite regularly when the blonde was around.

They grabbed some gloves and just started playing catch. Right away though, Naruto noticed that Gaara had great aim. "I thought you said you hated sports?" Naruto pestered, catching another throw and tossing it back, taking a few steps back.

"I do," Gaara replied, frowning, confused.

"Throw it at the same spot," Naruto demanded, a mischievous grin on his tanned face. So Gaara obliged. Then Naruto took another few steps back, tossed the ball back and waited. Gaara threw the ball again to the same spot. They repeated this process till Naruto was almost on the other side of the gym and Gaara finally missed a throw. "Amazing!" Naruto called out, jogging back to Gaara and damn near crushing the redhead in an excited hug. "Do you know what this means?!" Naruto asked, his hands sill resting on Gaara's sides, their bodies and faces still close.

"Uh… I can throw far?" Gaara asked, swallowing the lump that formed in his throat and trying to still his heart beat.

"No, silly! You could be our new pitcher for our baseball team!" Naruto exclaimed, his enthusiasm bubbling over. It was catching.

"What? What are you talking about?" Gaara frowned and tilted his head slightly to the side. Pitcher for the baseball team? What in the world for?

"Please, Gaara? Haku, our pitcher, was hurt really bad and can't pitch anymore but our big game with Nishiura is coming up in two weeks and we desperately need a pitcher! Please say you'll do it? Please?" Naruto begged, his blue eyes wide and pleading, pink lips pursed in an adorable pout.

"I don't know, Naruto… I've never played baseball. What makes you think I'm any good at it?" Gaara squirmed uncomfortably under the intense gaze. He wasn't sure he really wanted that kind of responsibility.

"You're great! I just proved it! You have amazing consistency, aim, control and speed! With some coaching, you'd be unstoppable! Please Gaara? We really need you!" Naruto's grip never faltered or let go, his eyes never looked away, their bodies were still so close and Gaara's heart was close to exploding out of his chest. He flushed again and blinked his sea-foam green eyes, trying to think of an excuse as to why he shouldn't.

"Please don't say no, Gaara… We need you! I need you!"

How could Gaara say no to that? "Uh… I guess I can… for you," Gaara murmured, the flush on his cheeks darkening a shade.

The ear-splitting grin that plastered all over that pretty, tanned face was worth it. Naruto hugged him again, tightly, and lingered for perhaps a moment too long. "Thank you, Gaara! You won't regret it! I totally owe you one! Let me grab Dai!" then the blonde released the speechless redhead and took off to the tennis courts, dragging the green haired captain from his game.

"Hey! Naruto?! What's your problem?" Dai demanded, stumbling along behind his excited friend.

"I found us a pitcher! Gaara! Show Daisuke your throw!" Naruto jogged down to the other side of the gym and held up his gloved hand. Suddenly nervous, Gaara hesitated and fidgeted. Then, with a deep breath in, Gaara closed his eyes, focused and calmed himself and looked down at his waiting crush. Then with a skill he didn't know he had, he threw the ball straight into Naruto's waiting mitt. He didn't have to move to catch it at all. He did it again and again and again till Daisuke was almost as excited as Naruto.

"Amazing! And you've never played before?" Gaara shook his head no, feeling nervous. "Please say you'll join our team!" Daisuke begged, his big muddy brown eyes shining with admiration.

"I told Naruto already that I would," Gaara shrugged, trying to come off as nonchalant. Naruto jogged back to the pair and slapped Daisuke on the back.

"What do you think, Dai? Worth giving a shot or what?" Naruto bragged, suddenly so very proud that Gaara was his friend.

"Absolutely. We can start training tonight during our club and then this weekend. We've got to teach you and I need to get a feel for your pitches. We only have two weeks to do this." Daisuke was already working on exercises for Gaara to do in his mind. "Your accuracy is astounding and the strength is perfect… There isn't much to improve on…" Dai started rambling as he thought to himself.

While the Captain was off in his world, Naruto looked back at Gaara. The redhead grinned nervously. Naruto grinned back. "Thanks, Gaara. You are gonna be amazing. Thanks for doing this for us."

"I'm doing it for you, Naruto," Gaara replied, fidgeting nervously.

Naruto hesitated for a moment. Why would Gaara emphasize that? Why would Gaara do it only for him? He smiled warmly at Gaara, despite his confusion. "Well, thanks for doing it for me. It means a lot to me." Maybe it was because he and Gaara were closer friends than Gaara was with the others? But a tiny voice in the back of his mind told him not to be so daft. Clearly, Gaara was doing it for Naruto because Gaara liked Naruto. In the way Yuuto liked Delilah. In the way Daisuke had admitted to liking Yuuto. In the way Ino had liked Ryder. In the way Naruto had found himself liking Gaara…

Naruto flushed when that thought crept into his mind and he realized he had been staring at Gaara the whole time. Now he looked at his friend in a different light and he wasn't quite sure he was ready for that.

"Naruto! I need you to come to my place tomorrow morning to help me train Gaara, ok?" Daisuke suddenly interrupted.

"Yeah… s-sure," Naruto murmured, a little caught off guard. He glanced back at Gaara again and noticed Gaara was already looking at him. His whisker-scarred cheeks flushed again and he looked away but it was too late. The seed of doubt had been planted…

"Guys, I have a question," Naruto suddenly announced at Daisuke's house that night. He, Daisuke and Ryder were hanging out together in their usual study group.

Daisuke only sighed, "I told you already! You do the equation in the brackets first then you do the multiplication!"

"No, not that," Naruto waved his hand in dismissal. "I wanted to ask you guys… how do you tell if someone likes you? But not in a friendship way; more like a … uh… romantic way I guess? How do you tell?"

Ryder and Daisuke exchanged looks. "They try to stay close to you. They look at you a lot and pay attention to every word you say. They get nervous and shy sometimes. They find excuses to be alone with you. They offer to help you in any way. Make physical contact. Eye contact. Those kinds of things," Daisuke generalised.

Naruto nodded, thinking. "Have you guys noticed anyone doing that towards me, lately?"

"Hinata," Daisuke and Ryder said simultaneously.

Naruto paused and looked at them like they were little green men from another planet. "What?"

Ryder slapped her palm to her forehead. "You dolt! Hinata has been crushing on you and giving you hints for months, if not years!"

"What in the world are you talking about? Hinata?" Naruto had suddenly been thrown into a whole other world of confusion that he didn't realize existed.

"This morning, for example. She was touching you when she saw your frustration at Haku being injured. She was speaking to you when she said it would be ok and that she would help keep her eye out," Daisuke explained calmly, his muddy brown eyes filled with mirth.

"Or last week at baseball practise and she only gave you a water bottle and no one else," Ryder pointed out.

"She didn't give-"

"Or the way she blushes and bats her eyelashes at you and only stammers when you speak to her, no one else," Dai added.

"I've never seen-"

"Or even a couple years ago, the way she was hanging off you at the festival and only had eyes for you?"

"Ok! I get it! Hinata likes me! And has for a long time apparently. But that's not who I was asking about!" Naruto cried out, running his fingers through his blonde hair in exasperation.

"Then who?" Daisuke asked curiously.

"Gaara!" Naruto finally burst out.

The three friends sat in silence for a minute or two, contemplating this new information. Till Daisuke piped up again, "Why do you think he likes you romantically?"

Naruto sighed and stood, starting to pace the room. "I don't know. I didn't realize it till today in gym. But now that I'm paying attention, all those little things keep popping into my head!"

"How did you figure it out today?" Ryder asked, green eyes curious.

"Well I found out he had a great arm and before I grabbed Daisuke I begged him to join our baseball team. He didn't really want to because he hates sports but I pleaded and he finally said ok. For me. Then I grabbed Dai and after we showed Dai, I said thanks again for doing this for us, for the team. And he corrected me and said 'I'm doing this for you, Naruto' and emphasized that it was for me. Then I noticed he was staring at me with a blush on his face and … I dunno… then I started thinking about all the little things and… "

"So you naturally came to the conclusion that he likes you," Daisuke finished for him. Naruto nodded, still pacing the room.

"So, what's the big deal? If he does like you that way, does that matter to you? You've been doing a great job of ignoring Hinata over the years…" Ryder pointed out.

"I don't know if it matters or not. I don't think it does. I mean, I'm not against gays or anything. I just never considered myself to be one, you know? 'Cause I like girls… I know I like girls. I've always liked girls… but I've never considered… or thought about… guys…" Naruto, poor Naruto, started tugging on his messy blonde hair in his confusion.

"Well," Dai started, leaning back against the edge of his bed and looking at his friend with empathy; he knew what Naruto was going through only too well, "Start slow then. Maybe just keep being friends with him as you have been and let it take its course. When the time comes, think about it then. How you feel, how he feels, your reaction… just don't react too rashly. But don't stop being friends with him. That's worst thing you could do."

Ryder nodded her silver head in agreement, her mind on her own romantic problem, Moriko. "You're also a very emotional person, Naruto. When you panic your mind closes off and you have a hard time thinking things through. So go slow and take your time. Talk through it and work it out."

Naruto finally sat back down with a heavy sigh, "Thanks guys. I appreciate it."

"No problem," Dai smiled and bent down over his homework again. Teenagers!

At training the next day, Saturday, Naruto couldn't help the feeling of cold nervousness flood through him. He was trying very hard not to think about Gaara in any other sense than training but it was proving difficult. Now that the knowledge was there, it was hard to ignore. He wanted to be blunt and just ask out right but that would be rude and it might scare Gaara off if he was completely wrong. But then…when was the right time to bring something like that up? When was the right time to figure it out? Was there ever a right time?

Naruto didn't think so. The right time was just whatever time you make it. "Ok, Gaara, when you throw, is there a certain system you use? How do you figure out where to throw?" Daisuke asked, setting up the pitchers mound.

Gaara shrugged, "I don't know. I just kind of have sections in my head."

"How many?"

"Uh… nine?"

Daisuke paused and stared at Gaara for moment, stunned. "Nine?" he asked incredulously.

Gaara nodded, suddenly self conscious. Even Naruto stared at him with shock. "Is that bad?" he asked.

"No! That's amazing… even professional pitchers only divide the strike zone into four! That's incredibly rare to be able to divide those sections into nine!" Daisuke started chattering excitedly, scribbling something down on a notebook. Gaara glanced nervously over at Naruto who smiled and rolled his eyes at Daisuke. Gaara smiled back. He supposed it wasn't too bad to be acknowledged. To be admired for something he didn't have to work for.

"Now, Naruto, stand by Gaara and monitor his throwing. I'm gonna catch a few a see what he's got for breaking balls," the green haired boy explained, taking his place at the catchers back stop. Naruto hesitated for only a fraction of a second before moving closer to Gaara and standing just behind him. The redhead flushed slightly, suddenly feeling uncomfortably like he was under scrutiny and observation. Being judged. Even though he knew he wasn't.

"Throw a curve ball to the third quadrant, inside the strike zone," Daisuke instructed, putting his mitt to where he said to give direction to Gaara. So he did. Easily. "Throw a fast ball, bottom left, inside," Daisuke instructed, again putting his mitt where he wanted Gaara to throw. So he did but the ball arched slightly and went to the outside of the strike zone.

Naruto moved up behind him, his body slightly pressing against Gaara's as he corrected his hold on the ball. "Your hold needs to change for the different throws. For a fast ball, you should hold it more like this," the blonde explained calmly, trying very hard to ignore how close he had gotten to Gaara. His hand on top of Gaara's, his chest pressed against Gaara's back. For the first time he noticed he was a little taller that Gaara. Not by much, just an inch or two. For the first time he found himself noticing how soft Gaara's skin was as he showed Gaara the motion to throwing a fast ball. Suddenly feeling very uncomfortable, he withdrew. "Understand?" he asked, a blush starting to spread over his whisker marked cheeks.

"Yes, thank you," Gaara murmured, a very similar blush on Gaara's pale cheeks.

That's the moment Naruto really started thinking about Gaara and what liking the boy might mean for him.

It had started out as a typical day. It was a Sunday. It just so happened to be the day before the big game with Nishiura. And as such, it was a tradition for the Mihoshi Tigers Baseball team to hang out together and just relax. Today was no different.

So Ryder had slept in joyfully, curled around her body pillow. There was no greater joy than sleeping in. Eventually she woke up and crawled out of bed. She had her breakfast in her fluffy purple pyjama pants, red tank top and messy silver hair with her older brother, Kio. She watched TV with him too and, as most siblings do, they got into an argument and decided to solve it by getting into a wrestling match.

"You're getting stronger, Ryder!" Kio exclaimed, trying hard to pull the athletic girl off him. The 18-year-old boy struggled under her hold till he finally tapped out. "Alright! Uncle! Uncle!" he called.

Ryder only laughed and let go, victory in her green eyes. "You're 16-year-old sister can kick your ass? You're losing your touch, Kio!" she teased. But they both knew that it was because of her hip-hop dancing and her baseball. Kio had almost always known about her charade around as a boy. He didn't care. He loved his sister and only encouraged her to be who she wanted to be. Just don't get caught. For that, Ryder was very close to Kio. Ryuzaki was a different story but since he was always gone, being at University and all, she didn't care.

The tomboy made to stand up and move back to the couch but once she had straightened out her body, a sudden sharp pain coursed through her body, centering on her pelvis. "Ouch!" she gasped, the pain making her double over. She didn't notice getting hit hard by Kio… what was hurting?

The pain pulsed through her again and she gasped again, holding a hand to her lower stomach. "Are you ok?" her brother asked, his own green eyes watching her, concerned. Ryder shook her head; she didn't know. "Do you need to lie down? Or should I take you to the hospital?" Kio asked, standing beside his sister. He ran nervous fingers through his shaggy black hair.

Ryder shook her silver head again. "No… I'll be ok… I'm just… gonna go to the bathroom… I think I'm gonna throw up," she groaned, hobbling, bent over, to the nearest bathroom. She closed herself inside and just as she sat on the lid of the toilet, she felt something squish. Alarmed, she stood quickly, despite the throbbing pain in her lower abdomen, and looked down. What she saw terrified her. Reddish pink streaks on the perfect white lid. What in the world? She checked the bum of her pyjama pants and groaned when she saw that her pants were covered in the same stuff. What was going on?

Her heart started hammering as the panic slowly rose in her. This was blood… where was all this blood coming from? Other than this stomach and pelvis pain, she wasn't hurt… did she end up getting cut by something? The throbbing pain made her wince. Starting to worry, she slowly pulled her pants off and looked at her body carefully. She didn't notice a cut anywhere. She started the hot water in the sink and plugged the drain so her pants could soak. Then she pulled off her underwear and gasped. They were soaked in dark red blood.

Then a terrifying, horrific, gruesome, dreadful, life-ending thought occurred to the teenaged girl… Did she just get her period?

"Huh, I guess Ryder isn't coming… he's having some kind of emergency at home…" Daisuke murmured, checking his text from his silver-haired best friend. The message sounded frantic so he only asked if she was ok. Ryder usually only got frantic when it had something to do about her being a girl so he hoped everything was alright.

Yuuto shrugged, "Hope everything is ok with him. So is it just gonna be you and me today then? It seems like everyone has cancelled today."

Daisuke shrugged and put his phone away in his jacket pocket. "I guess so. Naruto is behind in his homework, Hanai and Oki are on the mainland with their families, Gaara had already made plans with his other friends, Suyama and Mizutani live too far away and Ryder now has an emergency… And Hinata would only come if Naruto was going to be here so yeah… I guess that just leaves you and me today."

"Ok, well what do you wanna do then? Wanna just walk around the mall?" Yuuto offered, his boyish face smiling and friendly.

Daisuke smiled and nodded, "Sure!"

Over the past few months, the boys had been finding it easier and easier to get along with each other. Their friendship had grown again and Daisuke couldn't be happier. Well, maybe he could be if Yuuto would be more than just a friend… but Daisuke could wait. He could be happy and grateful for what he had. He wouldn't do anything to jeopardize that friendship again.

Yuuto had been trying very hard to not think about the awkwardness with Daisuke. He had been doing well with coming to terms with the whole Daisuke being Delilah thing. Though sometimes he did still get angry about it and slightly disheartened because Daisuke wasn't one you could stay angry at. Despite the bond of trust being very thin, Yuuto found himself caring less and less and wanting to be with Daisuke. Wanting to hangout, wanting to do things and go places…

With this strange frame of mind, the two friends perused the mall and several different stores together, joking around and actually having a good time together, forgetting about the fact that their bond was severed and hanging by a thread.

"Here, Dai, what do you think?" Yuuto joked, putting on a pair of wide, tinted sunglasses that were much too large for his face and tried to do a sexy pose with his lips pursed and eyebrow raised.

Daisuke laughed and shook his green haired head. Inside however, his heart pounded painfully against his chest, his throat constricted and he was overtaken with a sudden urge to kiss his friend. A strong feeling of belonging and want and need coursed through the 16-year-old boy. The urge was so powerful and overcoming and unavoidable that, despite the loyal and almost cowardly part of him wanting to do nothing; shouting at him DON'T DO IT! He couldn't help it. So when Yuuto straightened up from putting the sunglasses down, Daisuke couldn't stop himself.

"Like you'd look any better in them! I'd like to see you try the-" Yuuto's words were cut off when Daisuke hesitantly yet firmly pressed his lips against his. Daisuke's muddy brown eyes were closed, his eyebrows furrowed slightly, his body so close to Yuuto's. Yuuto just stared dumbly at Daisuke, their lips locked, his heart stopped and his breath caught in his throat. What was happening?

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