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Hidden Feelings

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The heat. The constant and incessant heat that radiated off the sand, the sidewalks, and just about everything. I had thought, countless times, of all the things that I missed about Okinawa. Apparently I forgot completely about how hot it could get compared to Tokyo. While I could do without the heat, the moment I decided to make the trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I did remember to miss.

I missed the beautiful crystal blue waters, Chinen, hanging out with the group of guys I called my best friends after practice, Chinen, Rin’s dorky personality that no matter what he did Kite could never seem to get mad at him for long. I missed Kai and his stupid mass of red hair that even though he would get it cut, the next week it would be just as wild. I missed Chinen and I missed how no matter how many times we would say it, Kai and I would still have to tell someone that no, we weren’t twins. I missed how eventually, we just decided to start a joke between our group of friends that we were in fact separated at birth, despite the fact we were two different nationalities.

I had even missed how Tanishi would get so uncomfortable when he noticed a conversation between his friends begin to get heated at all he would let out a large burp, sometimes accompanied by a release from the other end of his body as well, and we would all be so shocked that everyone would just stare and blink at him for a moment before bursting into raucous laughter. I missed Kite and his stuck up attitude towards everyone except his friends and I even missed the way he would push his glasses farther up on his nose when he got annoyed that sometimes I was afraid he was trying to make them a permanent addition to his face. I missed how, only after the tennis team that he had formed so perfectly to be undefeatable had lost to Seigaku in the National Tournament, did Kite finally realize that Rin was totally in love with him and Kite was actually in love with the blonde as well.

But most of all, I missed Chinen Hiroshi.

~~~~

My name is Amelia Palmer and I was only ten years old when I first arrived in Okinawa, Japan after my parents died. Being so young and travelling alone so far and to a whole different country was frightening enough but when I looked around me at the people who lived there, I thought I stuck out like a giant, sore, infected thumb on the community. I had never been able to tan easily because of my fair skin. So, pretty much all year round, I was very white, sometimes almost ghastly. Because I had moved to Okinawa where the people weren’t only darker skinned from being Japanese, but were all so very tanned as well, I didn’t know if I would ever fit in. But, eventually, I would meet a group of local guys that would help me get a tan and keep it not only during the summer but through the winter as well.

Not only did I have the shade of my skin counting against me but I also have bright, blue eyes and a mass of red/orange curls. So even once I managed to change my skin tone semi-permanently, it was still obvious I wasn’t a native of the island nation. I had also always been the tallest kid in my class at school and after learning from my classmates that Asian people were typically shorter in stature than most American’s I figured I would stand out for that too. But, I soon learned that while most Japanese citizens were typically shorter than I was, a respectable percent of them were around my height with some actually being taller.

I also couldn’t speak Japanese worth a damn.

However, Shogo-san, my godfather saw fit to home-school me until I went to middle school. So having the extra time to learn the language at my own pace and get caught up to the level where my classmates would be learning at, helped. Though while it was nice to have my own personal teacher at home while other kids were stuck in classrooms, it wasn’t that fun not being able to actually hang out with kids my age very much, or at all, for the first couple years after moving to Japan.

The summer before I was about to start middle school at the local Higa Chuu, I started venturing out more on my own to the beach near Shogo-san’s home. That was when I met a group of guys that not only would become the most successful tennis team that the school had seen in 26 years but also my best friends.

I was walking along the beach, trying to prolong the time I had until I had to head home, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and tripped so hard I almost fell over a lump on the beach. I turned to see what it was when I noticed the mass was actually a scrawny blonde boy about my age, sitting next to his surf board which stood tall behind him in the sand and rubbing his ankle which is what I must have kicked.

“Oh, excuse me, I’m really sorry!” I told him. Then, I realized after I actually looked at his face that I had noticed him and his red headed friend surfing earlier. They were both pretty good. Since I didn’t see his friend anywhere, I looked out toward the ocean and saw that he was still out in the water, apparently not satisfied with coming in until he caught one final wave for the day.

“Hey, I saw you surfing earlier. You and your friend are pretty good. Much better than I would ever be.”

I had never actually tried to surf by every time I watched someone paddle out into the water on a surfboard and then pop up at just the precise moment to ride the wave through; I knew I would never have the coordination to be able to do it properly.

The boy looked up at me with bright blue eyes almost like my own and said with about as much energy as I would expect from a lame cat, “Oh thanks. I’m not really that good. Kai’s way better.” He looked out toward his friend and added, “I wish he’d come in already. I’m starving.”

I looked out towards the ocean as well and watched the boy named Kai floating around in the water, paddling back out when the current would bring him closer to shallow waters. I turned to leave but the blonde boy asked if I wanted to sit and keep him company until Kai returned. I surprised myself by happily obliged as I was just going to go home and do chores anyway and at least this would buy me a little more time.

“I’m Hirakoba Rin by the way,” he said, offering me his hand. “And the guy out in the water is Kai Yuujirou. I haven’t seen you around before. You must be in Okinawa on vacation with your family. You speak Japanese very well too.”

“Thanks. Actually, I moved to Okinawa a couple years ago. My parents died so I came to live with my godfather, Suzuki Shogo. I’m Amelia.”

“Oh bummer. Sorry about your parents. I guess you’re being home schooled I your father is Suzuki Shogo-san, the famous actor.”

It was true that my godfather was a well-known actor. He had told me once that he had wanted to act since he was a little boy and had even done a couple commercials. But, his father had other ideas for him and convinced him to go into the military and serve the minimum time there before pursuing a career of acting. That’s where Shogo-san met my father who was stationed in Japan while serving in U.S. military. The two men became such good friends that they stayed in touch after my father moved back to the states and Shogo-san was eligible to be discharged and he began his pursuit of becoming an actor.

When my mother was expecting me, my father wouldn’t have dreamt of asking anyone other than Shogo-san to be my godfather, never imagining that I may actually end up being relocated to Japan after a fatal car accident. By the time my mother was pregnant with me, Shogo-san had already been in numerous stage productions and had started considering a move to films. Not to mention the fact he was also expecting his own child in the form of a son. When his son, Shogo Jr. was born, Shogo-san was ecstatic and with the encouragement of his wife, made the move to starring in films. He became such a hit that he was cast in more and more movies and started making more and more money.
However, he hadn’t yet become famous enough to venture farther than a neighboring Asian country to film a movie, partly because he didn’t want to make the move into being cast in American movies even though he had been offered several roles but also just so he was never farther than a flight lasting more than a few hours away from his family.

“Yea. I was home schooled when I first got to Japan so I could learn the language easier but now that I’m about to start middle school, Shogo-san has enrolled me at Higa Chuu so I can officially start to hang around with kids my age in school.”

“Higa Chuu? That’s awesome. Kai, me, and the rest of our tennis team are starting there this year too!” Rin exclaimed.

“Tennis?” I asked him, actually rather surprised.

“Yea, our friend Kite has been playing it for a really long time and he chose me, Kai and our other teammates to train to be the best team that Higa’s ever seen! He even plans on us going to the National Competition by the end of our first year.”

As he told me this, I couldn’t help but notice how Rin got a lot perkier when he started talking about the Kite guy.

“Wow. You must have been either really bored or you must really like that Kite guy to take up tennis. I’d see you as the type of person that would prefer to lounge around the beach all day rather than get all sweaty running around a tennis court.”

“Well, the only part you are wrong about is Rin being bored enough to take up tennis,” A voice beside me said.

I turned to see where it came from and found a dripping Kai approaching us from the water. Immediately I couldn’t help but notice that the part I was wrong about was Rin being bored and not the part about liking Kite. But I shook it off because I figured I didn’t really want to know about Rin being in love with another guy right after I just met the guy.

“Yea, well I’m pretty good at reading people most of the time. I’m Amelia by the way,” I replied offering my hand to him and not really caring when he started to drip salt water on me as he bend to take my fingers in his and brush them lightly with his lips. I tried to control the already redness of my cheeks from the heat from turning any more scarlet when Rin chimed in.

“Kai you know I hate it when you have to find ‘the perfect wave’ every single day! I’m starving man, come on.”

At that moment, I realized I didn’t want them to go. I wanted to get to know my new surfer friends Rin and Kai more so I at least had a few people I knew when I started school. So, I interjected by saying, “You know, you could come to my house. Shogo-san’s out shooting late tonight and I’ll be really bored walking back up the beach by myself. Besides, we have pretty much anything you could want to eat and you can eat as much as you want since Shogo-san’s out. Plus, I have like every video game that has come out in the last five years,” I added, hoping that would seal the deal.

I had always been a bit of a tomboy, even when I still lived in America. I never really liked getting all dressed up with lots of make-up on for anything other than special occasions. While I did play with Barbies, I always preferred to play video games or with Legos. So, every time a new game came out that I wanted, all I had to do was simply ask nicely and bat my eyelashes a few times and Shogo-san would be putty in my hands because as his only daughter, even though I wasn’t biologically his, he seemed to feel the need to get me whatever I wanted.

The two boys agreed and after they gathered up their boards, we made our way back to Shogo-san’s house. Normally I may have worried about Shogo Jr. wanting to join in but he had developed a call to act as well so he and his mother were out at an audition for a commercial and wouldn’t be there to bother us.

~~~~

The last few days of summer flew by quickly. Over the span of about a month, I met the rest of the Kai and Rin’s tennis team and became best friends with all five of them.
Kite Eishirou, at first, seemed like he had a stick up his ass constantly, except when he was around Rin and the rest of the team. Once we got to know each other better, I realize he was actually pretty laid back. The only exception to that was when they had tennis practice where he was sometimes pretty hard on the guys because of his big dream of being such a successful team. It didn’t take long for me to realize what Kai had meant about me not being wrong about Rin really liking Kite. Of course the only person who wasn’t aware of Rin’s affections was apparently Kite himself.

Tanishi Kei wasn’t what you’d call a growing 12 year old boy, unless you meant around the middle. Kei-kun could put back 3 two liters of cola within 2 minutes, if he was taking his time. He could usually be found with some sort of bag of snack anything in his hand and still claim he was hungry. While he looked kind of big and terrifying, especially on the tennis court, I soon found out that he was basically a big teddy bear who, while loving a confrontation on the court, would hate when his friends argued about anything.

Kai was pretty outgoing and very mischievous, especially around Rin. While they were both somewhat troublesome on their own, when they got together, we all had to be careful in case we found ourselves at the end of some practical joke. Kai’s massive amount of red, frizzy curls could usually be found sticking out every which way from underneath his favorite white ball cap. He would jokingly say that he’d have to go “tame the beast” whenever his mother decided it was time for another haircut that would end up being useless later as almost the next week his hair would have grown out almost to the point it was before it was trimmed. Kai had a big mouth and wouldn’t even care about mouthing off to Kite if he was fired up enough. Most of the time though his mouth got him laps around the tennis court, so I notice that he did try his hardest to not do it very often.

Rin was a lot more boisterous than my initial reaction of him. He seemed to bounce off the walls nonstop until Kite would glare at him or just ask him politely to settle down in his house, where we spent most of our afternoons trying to stay cool and just hanging out after practice. Of course Kite woul also threaten Rin with Goya, the only type of food the blonde despised and would refuse to even be near, on an almost daily basis but Rin would still act out. I figure he was just trying to get Kite’s attention but the captain would just ignore him or threaten him some more. However it did seem like Kite was the only person Rin would listen to when he got out of control and extra hyper.

Then there was Chinen Hiroshi. I didn’t know it at the time but by the time we reached high school, I would be completely and utterly in love with him.

When I first met him, according to Kai, I had the same reaction most people did with Chinen. I thought he looked like a 12 year old drug addict. His eyes seemed really sunken in, a trait I realized later was just how he got when he was tired, which was most of the time as he was usually left with the task of caring for one of several elderly family members that lived with his widowed mother and him while his mom was working one of her two or sometimes three jobs trying to make ends meet. He always looked so serious and distant too, especially while playing tennis.

Chinen WAS what you would call a “growing boy” in terms of height. Every week it seemed he’d get taller. By the time he finally stopped growing, which was sometime in the middle of our high school years, he was about 6’7” tall and was really useful when we’d go to concerts or out to other crowded places and would get separated from each other.
Both Kite and I lived in rather large houses and didn’t really want for anything since my godfather was a famous actor and Kite’s parents were both successful business people. The other guys on the team weren’t necessarily poor and they joked about us having the money to spare every time Kite or I would pay their way to some concert or field trip. The only exception to the group was Chinen. He was absolutely set against someone else paying his way to anything and would save up the small allowance his mother made sure to give him for taking care of his live-in relatives while she was at work. If that money wasn’t going to be enough, he would usually try to pick up a few extra hundred yen babysitting for his single cousin who had two small children and would hire Chinen if she needed a date night or a girls’ night out. If that still wasn’t going to be enough, Kite would help him out as long as Chinen promised to stay after practice and do extra training or something else so that he wasn’t just giving his friend the money for nothing.

Since we both had nicer places than the others, every day after practice, which I didn’t participate in, I just became what Rin called the “original Higa Chuu Tennis Team Cheerleader”, a title I would sometimes joke about holding with honor once we started school and the team gained a large following of hormonally charged girls, we would go to either Shogo-san’s house or Kite’s. While there, we would relax and have fun playing video games or pool or just watch a movie before we had to go our separate ways to do homework. Eventually I did pick up enough of how the game was played through watching the guys play or actually asking them about it to keep score for them and since the day the group became my best friends, I vowed to be at every match no matter what, to cheer them on.

When we did finally start school, the other girls immediately noticed Kite. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with their need to swoon every time he walked into a room but I couldn’t deny that Kite Eishirou was an attractive young man. Although he wasn’t really my type before or after I realize how I felt for Chinen. Only a few weeks into our second year at Higa Chuu, yet another of the many ongoing jokes between the team and I began.

One day, Kite apparently couldn’t take anymore, so when some girl, who was either new or just couldn’t take the hint when he had turned down so many others before, came up to ask if he was free that weekend to go to a party with her, Kite slipped his arm around my shoulder and replied, “I’m sorry, but I’m hanging out with my girlfriend this weekend.”
The girl slumped off sulking and we were too busy staring at Kite with our jaws hanging open to notice her returning to her friends who had been watching and were now glaring daggers at me.

“Don’t look at me like that you guy,” Kite said as soon as the girl was out of earshot, apparently not bothered with removing his arm from my shoulder. “I’m just tired of being harassed by girls I’m in no way interested in. So I figured the best the solution is just to pretend that Amelia and I are dating. That way I don’t have to worry about other girls distracting us from practice trying to get my attention like last year. I think that was a big reason why we didn’t get to the national tournament actually.”

We all ignored the last snide comment because we all knew that the distractions at practice weren’t the reason they didn’t get to Nationals, it was that they simply weren’t ready for it. Kite knew it too.

From that day on, any time we were sitting together at lunch, I couldn’t help but notice the glares coming at me from a 360 degree radius around us from girls that were wondering what made me so special that I was worthy enough to date Kite Eishirou when none of them were. Kite would just simply slip his arm around my shoulders when he would notice the stares were bothering me and somehow that would make the girls falter. He would also hook his elbow with mine as we were walking down the hall just to annoy the girls that much more.

But, even if they didn’t like it, it still didn’t stop all the advances towards Kite on a regular basis. Although now they were trying to convince him to leave me for them rather than just asking him out. On more than one occasion I would overhear a conversation between several girls that were whispering about they didn’t think I, as a foreigner, should be worthy to date the elite Kite Eishirou. Half the time, I wondered if they were actually trying to talk behind my back without me knowing or if they wanted me to hear them because they would sometimes not talk so quietly to make sure I did hear them.

When I would confide in my friends about this, they would all try to assure me that the girls were just jealous because they thought Kite and I were dating. Kite would also lean over and brush his lips across my cheek lightly and say loud enough for any girl watching that I was more than worthy enough to date him and if anyone thought I wasn’t just because of my race, then they were the ones no worthy enough to date him. He would then lean in and whisper that if our relationship wasn’t just a ploy to detract girls swarming him, he probably would date me because I was more beautiful inside and out than any other girl in the school. That is if he was looking to date someone rather than being so focused on his dream.

One afternoon as Rin and I were playing a game of pool at my house while the rest of the team were in another room playing video games, I realized that perhaps the whole charade of Kite and I dating may bother him.

“Hey Rin,” I asked hesitantly.

“Hmm?” he said, lining up his shot.

“I hope you don’t think that there’s actually something between me and Kite. I mean he’s just a friend and I know you’re kind of in love with him.”

He took his shot and looked up at me smiling as he responded, “Its fine. I totally get what he’s saying about the distractions at practice. Honestly it kinda puts me at ease knowing that he won’t be bothered by so many other girls while he’s ‘dating’ you.”

At that, we both started laughing.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t until our third year at Higa Chuu that the tennis team finally went to the national tournament. While we were there, we crushed our first opponent from Rokkaku Chuu in the Chiba prefecture. Then we played a team from Tokyo called Seishun Gakuin. That was the day everything changed between the team.

Higa lost horribly, not winning a single match against Seigaku. Kite was so devastated that no one said a single word on the plane ride home and we all wondered what would happen to the team after failing so badly.

That night was when it happened.

We were all staying at Shogo-san’s and were told by my godfather to relax and not think about what happened at the tournament. Shogo Jr. and his mother had moved out several months before because she couldn’t handle his crazy hours of filming anymore. The only reason she had left me was because he insisted that I was his responsibility and that he needed to take care of me. Despite his promise to his not yet ex-wife, there would still be times when I was left alone in the house to fend for myself. Mostly I behaved because I had never been one to be very mischievous when my parents were away.

However that night Kai was apparently so determined to raise everyone’s spirits that he got into Shogo-san’s liquor cabinet. What then ensued would change not only the joke of Kite and I forever between the team but would also make me realize feelings I never knew I had for one of my best friends.

After the guys had finished the third bottle of rum they apparently decide that it was too constricting to wear clothes so they all just stripped down to their boxers and jumped in the pool. I had never been fond enough of alcohol to drink that much of it so I was trying to act as the responsible one of the group by staying mostly sober. A little while after finishing the rum, Kite stumbled inside to go to sleep when an almost equally, if not more so, drunken Rin decided to follow him.

When I went inside to get towels for everyone else, I couldn’t help but hear distinct moans of pleasure coming from one of the guest rooms that was clearly Rin and Kite in the heat of the moment.

I went out to tell the others that it seemed Kite finally got the hint that Rin was in love with him when I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of Chinen climbing out of the pool.
It really shouldn’t have been a big deal. I had seen them all half naked with only swim trunks on many times before but that night I just couldn’t stop staring at Chinen. His soaked silver bangs caught the moonlight in just the right way to make them sparkle. And I couldn’t decide whether it was just me or had the light from the stars, reflecting off the drops of water resting on the rest of his blue tinted hair always make it looked as if it was specked with glitter. Then there was the way the water just gradually ran down his long, slender chest and over his stomach muscles and down across his hip bone. Not to mention the reflection of the very full moon seemed to reflect so beautifully in those steel grey eyes or the way his cotton boxer shorts were plastered to his backside in just the right way to make me notice how perfectly round it was.

“Amelia, why don’t you put down those towels and join us in this nice pool of yours? You know you don’t need a suit, just do what we did and skimp down to your undies!” Kai called to me, snapping me out of my ogling.

I quickly turned my head in his direction to answer when I remembered what I was planning on telling them before I got so thoroughly distracted by Chinen.

“Wha…oh, well I think I’ll just sit here and be the responsible one while I watch you guys make fools of your shit-faced selves. But, I will tell you that apparently Kite finally opened those half-blind eyes of his and realized Rin is totally in love with him. I just heard odd moaning noises coming from one of the guest rooms when I went to get the towels. So either we have a noisy ghost or they’re going at it pretty hard and heavy.”

“Well that’s a relief!” Kai replied swimming over to rest his chin on the edge of the concrete that surrounded the pool closest to me. “I figured Kite would never get the hint and we’d eventually have to sit him down and either draw him pictures or just slap the shit out of him until he got the message. I mean, Rin was never really secretive about his affections. But hey, I guess that means you’re off the hook for being Kite’s ‘girlfriend’ now huh?”

As he spoke, Kai sounded perky but the look on his face told me he wasn’t very thrilled about my news as he acted. I shook off the feeling and went to put the towels on the patio table where the empty rum bottles sat. I wouldn’t find out until many years later why Kai wasn’t as happy for his best friend as he seemed to be.

“I guess you’re pretty bummed to find out your ‘boyfriend’ is gay, huh?” Chinen asked casually as he came over to get a towel.

I had to try the hardest I ever had to just look at my friend as I replied, “Well, you know I kind of had this sinking feeling about that. But I guess I’ll just have to deal with it. I just hope things don’t get weird with the team now that the captain is dating one of his team members.”

I actually had to force a smile because part of me was actually kind of jealous that Rin and Kite were finally together and I was actually “single” again. The charade had gone on for so long that it had almost felt as though Kite and I were dating.

“But you know what? I guess now this makes me ‘single’ so I can finally go with Kai to Shogo-san’s end of the semester picnic. Right, Kai?” I chuckled.

I turned to see his reaction but the red head was nowhere to be seen. As I looked around for him, I felt a sudden push from behind me and I couldn’t stop the force that Kai hit me with so we both ended up in the pool. Of course it was just my luck that I managed to hit my head on the bottom of the pool at just the right angle to knock semi-unconscious.

As I was just kind of floating there trying and failing miserably to both stay conscious and figure out how to make my way to the surface, I only half realized when an arm slid around my waist and started pulling me to the surface, over to the edge of the pool and then up and out of the water. When I had completely come to, I looked up and began to sputter out the water that had flooded my lungs. After I had gotten all the water out, I found myself looking into those beautiful steel grey eyes I had been admiring only moments before. I had to force myself to not lean up and just press my lips to Chinen’s as he leaned over me, freshly dripping with more water and with the most worried expression I had ever seen him have and let him know that I was quite alright, apparently thanks to him.

“Amelia, can you hear me? Are you Ok? Should I call an ambulance?” he asked with a sound of even more worry in his voice.

All I could hoarsely respond with was, “Yea I’m fine.” I took another couple seconds to completely catch my breath before adding, “However Kai may need that ambulance when I get through with him.”

I tried to laugh but what came out was mostly coughing as Chinen helped me slowly sit up.

“Damn, Hiroshi, I’ve never seen you so freaked before, “Tanishi stated as my savior started to relax next to me. “I thought you were going to have a seizure or something the way you tensed up after she hit the water.”

“I’m fine, I just got really scared when she didn’t come up right away with Kai. I was afraid she was knocked out and we’d have to tell Kite his ‘ex-girlfriend’ drowned by the hands of Kai while he was in the house getting his brains fucked out by Rin. Or fucking Rin’s brains out, whichever way they do things.”

That was the first time I ever saw Chinen Hiroshi even crack a smile.

~~~~

High school went by fairly uneventful.

Of course for the sake of image, at school I still pretended to be Kite’s girlfriend. Then, after practice when we were safe at either Shogo-san’s or Kite’s, he and Rin couldn’t seem to keep their hands off each other.

I had decided to take a different route with my feelings for Chinen. I had decided that, for the sake of our friendship, I would lock my feelings away and just ignore them. I knew it wasn’t healthy but the team needed to focus on trying to get back to the National Tournament, which unfortunately never happened, and it was hard enough trying to keep Rin focused at practice when everyone could tell he’d rather be wrapping his arms, or legs, around his captain. While we had never really talked about what type of girls the guys were interested in or if they were more interested in guys, I was afraid that one way or the other, Chinen wouldn’t reciprocate my feelings. Plus I figured the best team of doubles players in Okinawa didn’t need both its members distracted.

However every day it seemed to get harder and harder to just look at Chinen in the hallway or watch him work hard at practice only to slump all hot and sweaty towards the locker room with the rest of the team. On countless occasions I prayed that, for some reason or another, Chinen would be the last out of the locker room and I could sneak in and open his eyes to the way I felt about him instead of just sitting idly by like Rin had made look so easy to do before Kite realize his feelings. My prayers were never answered though, as the guys usually trooped out of the locker room together and we would all go straight to one of our hang out spots.

~~~~

After high school, Kite and I left Okinawa for schools away from home. Kite went to Fukuoka to study medicine and I headed to Tokyo to study fashion and costume design. Rin and Kite stayed together for about six years after that but then suddenly everything fell apart. I hadn’t heard exactly what had happened but that was one thing I planned on finding out at soon as I went back to Okinawa.

That wasn’t the only big thing to happen while I was gone either. Shogo Jr.’s mother developed cancer and had passed away. He then moved to Tokyo and stayed with me for about a year and even paid most of the rent on our apartment with his paychecks he received after being cast in a children’s show about samurai in the modern world who fought monsters that would cross into the human world through cracks in the wall, the ground or even a drinking glass. After that, Shogo continued to act in various productions and become a successful actor on his own and we continued to share an apartment, eventually splitting the rent and other expenses after I started work at a new magazine company during my third year of college.

About a week before Shogo and I planned on taking a trip home however, I ran into the last person I ever thought I would at a coffee shop after spending all day trying to finishes some sketches for a movie Shogo-san was working on as a producer, his new hobby, who had more news than I had heard on the subject of Kite and Rin’s relationship, even from our own friends.

It was pouring down rain outside and I was thankful for the dry and the warmth as I entered the shop. I ordered my usual when it was chilly out, a very simply large hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie and turned to sit down to enjoy it when I noticed a semi-familiar face sitting at one of my favorite tables by the window. The guy seemed to be thinking pretty hard about something as he stared at the rain running down the large pane of glass. It actually didn’t take me but a few seconds to realize exactly who it was when I noticed the white baseball hat that I remembered him wearing that would always be pulled down so far over his eyes you would almost think his face actually started at his nose, sitting next to him on the table.

I made my way through the semi-crowded shop full of people trying to escape the rain and sat across from him without even saying a word. That seemed to snap him out of his daze.

“Oh, hello, did you want an autograph or something?” he responded like he wasn’t too thrilled about either option but that was just his initial reaction to anyone approaching him.
“What?” I asked rather startled by his response. “No, I noticed you sitting here and for one, this is my favorite table so I was planning on sitting here regardless and two, I recognized you as soon as I saw this stupid hat you always wore when you played.”

“Oh, sorry, I’ll move,” the man said. Then the rest of my words registered. “Wait, the hat I always wore? Do I know you from somewhere?”

“You probably don’t know me as much as you would know the guys I hung out with in school. The Higa Chuu Tennis Team.”

After a few second of thought, realization dawned on him. “Oh yea, you were the girl that always got all the dirty looks from the other girls because you were dating the Hitman. Sorry, but what was your name again?”

“Hitman” was what they used to call Kite and I had to smile because I hadn’t heard him called that since middle school.

“It’s Amelia. Honestly, Kite and I weren’t actually dating. That was just a charade to ward off unwanted attention from other girls. Besides, after your team killed them at Nationals, Kite realized he preferred a guy’s company rather than a girl’s. Specifically our teammate Rin. It was actually that night that everyone got drunk and Rin finally expressed his feelings towards Kite.”

“Wow. Rin was the blonde one right?” Upon my nod he added, “I so didn’t see that one coming. Although I also didn’t think that Tezuka-buchou would fall so hard for Atobe Keigo only to have his heart crushed either.”

I didn’t really know why I was sitting in a coffee shop discussing our ex-captain’s love lives with Echizen Ryoma but I couldn’t help but be surprised by what he said.
“You mean Hyoutei’s Ice Queen, Atobe Keigo?” I asked.

Ever since we had heard about Atobe, Higa had started to call him the Ice “Queen” because he was such a cold jerk. Not unlike Kite, according to some people, but we were all used to Kite and knew that he had a good side. From what we heard about Atobe, he used his money to get whatever he wanted and was a complete snob all the time.
“I so saw that one coming about Atobe being gay but Tezuka? He always seemed so…straight,” I commented.

“Well, he was actually in a relationship with Atobe for a long time. They started dated about midway through high school. But when Tezuka tried to see I Atobe cared for him like he cared for Atobe, Tezuka was shot down and decided he had had enough. I guess one good thing about the situation is that Tezuka’s going to school in Fukuoka and Atobe’s still here in Tokyo so Tezuka can clear his head away from everyone questioning him about it and everyone that reminds him of his ex.”

“I guess that’s good then. It’s a little ironic though. Kite’s also in Fukuoka and Rin’s still in Okinawa and apparently they just had a bad breakup too. I don’t know any of the details though because I just heard about it from Kai when I called him about picking me up from the airport when I fly back in a couple days.”

I really didn’t know why I felt the need to Echizen, someone who was practically a stranger to me, about my friends’ failed relationship but I suppose it was just good to have someone who understood the breakup of a very close friend.

Echizen and I sat and continued to talk about the pros and cons of being in love for about an hour before he looked at his watch and said he needed to go. He told me he was planning on going to see Tezuka the next day and he still needed to pack a few things before turning in early to catch the train. We exchanged numbers and promised to let the other know what was going on with our respected ex-buchou’s love life and we parted ways unknowing of what was about to unfold.

Chapter Text

Shogo had needed to stay a few extra days for work so I flew back to Okinawa on my own. When my flight landed and I made my way out of the terminal, I was surprised when I didn’t see the mass of red hair that I had expected waiting or me but the tall figure of a beautiful as ever, and solemn as ever, Chinen. He was leaning against a column with his arms crossed over his chest and was wearing worn, baggy cargo pants, those stupid army boots he always wore and a faded 80’s rock band t-shirt that he favored. While it had been at least two years since I had managed to get back to Okinawa, Chinen hadn’t changed much in that time. Although since high school he had grown out his hair so that the silver-white bangs were the same length as the rest of his hair that was now all shoulder length rather than having the back longer while the front part only reached down to his ears. It was currently tied back into a ponytail and while I liked it like that, I thought he looked a lot sexier when he had it down.

He was getting lots of uncomfortable stares from people passing by him but was ignoring every single one of them.

I’ll admit I was thrilled when I saw my old friend but at the same time I was extremely nervous about the idea of spending the long car ride to Shogo-san’s house alone with him because I knew I still had those feelings for him that I promised I wouldn’t think about again. But I tried to squelch those feelings as I made my way toward him.

“Well I see you’re happy as ever Hiroshi,” I said as I closed the last several feet between us. “Where’s Kai? I though he was picking me up.”

Chinen shrugged and answered, “He had something else that we both felt was more important for him to take care of so we agreed that I would pick you up and take you to my apartment. There’s something we need to talk to you bout and we’d prefer to do it somewhere secluded rather than under the watchful eye of Shogo-san’s new staff.”

He was right. Since both of his children had been gone, my godfather had for some reason realized that he needed a full time staff since I had move to Tokyo. They were rather attentive and didn’t seem to be satisfied with their job for the day if they didn’t ask if you needed something every ten minutes, making it rather difficult to have any sort of private conversations.

“O…k…” I said hesitantly.

If the guys needed to talk to me about something so important that we couldn’t talk at Shogo-san’s then I couldn’t help but think that something really bad must have happened. However I was rather quickly snapped out of my train of thought about one of my friends being in some sort of horrible accident when Chinen bent down to give me a hug.

I really didn’t know how to react so I just stood there and let him hug me. Not once since I had known him did I ever remember Chinen Hiroshi giving anyone a hug except some elderly relative he only saw at Christmas. While I was nowhere near as tall as Chinen, I had stopped growing at almost 6’ myself so he didn’t have to lean down too far for the embrace. I was about to reach my arms up and wrap them around him and snuggle my face into his chest and show him how much I missed him when he pulled away and picked up my bags and started heading out with them.

I was slightly startled by his actions so it took me a moment before I said after him, “Chinen, wait. I can carry those.”

I ran after him and finally managed to wrap my fingers around his arm and was surprise that he let me stop him that way. Chinen, and the rest of our group of friends for that matter, wasn’t someone you could just stop by grabbing a hold of them.

“Damn it Hiroshi, stop!”

He spun around and just looked at me, puzzled. It took me a few seconds to catch my breath and ask, “Chinen, why are you doing all this? I’ve never seen you hug anyone but your great-grandmother and the first thing you do when you see me is give me a hug. Then you grab all of my bags of luggage from me and run off. What is the rush?”

He didn’t say anything for several beats but instead just looked at me. Finally he replied, “I just missed you that’s all, is that not reason enough to give someone a hug? It just seems like there’s been nothing but drama around here for the past couple weeks and I’m just glad to have someone who can hopefully distract us from it since we haven’t seen you in so long.”

Chinen half smirked at me before adding, “And what’s wrong with a gentleman wanting to carry a lady’s luggage for her?”

I sighed and took one of my smaller bags from him and started walking again, not wanting to think about Chinen being gentlemanly towards me like a boyfriend would.
“I really don’t see what the big deal is. Rin and Kite ‘break up’ like every few months. It won’t be long until they run back to each other and lock themselves in a room for two days apologizing to each other.”
I knew this from experience with dealing with their “break-ups” in the past. Every so often, Rin and Kite would get into some argument and after a few days apart, they would realize they were still in love with each other and would make up, over and over again.

“I wish you were right. This time though, I think it’s really over. Kite apparently even has a new man in his life.”

I stopped in my tracks for a second after hearing that before continuing to follow Chinen across the parking lot. “Wow. That was pretty fast. Didn’t they just break up like three weeks ago?” I paused again when Chinen stopped at an old, beat up car and proceeded to put my bags in the trunk. “Whoa, Hiroshi I thought you had a better car than this. What happened to the other one?”

He shrugged and simply replied, “It died. This was the best I could afford.”

That was one thing I both liked about Chinen and bugged me at the same time. He would either say a lot, although he only seemed to do that around me or the guys, or he’d just say a few words. While he got his point across either way, sometimes when he didn’t elaborate when asked a question it could be frustrating.

As I climbed into the passenger’s seat of the beat up old car, even though I was sure he would refuse it, I planned on buying him at least a car new enough that didn’t look like may disintegrate if it rained hard enough. In fact, I would buy him anything he wanted if he’d just acknowledge my feelings for him but since I tried so hard to keep that from him, I knew that would never happen. So, I was happy with just buying him a proper car. I figured I at least owed him a couple birthday and Christmas presents didn’t I?

We rode to his apartment in silence, except for the rock music he had blaring from the radio. I knew Rin would probably hate it but I was glad for it because it made me start to feel like I was home. While we drove, memories came flooding back of the team piled in the backseat as we went to Shogo-san’s or Kite’s house after practice to relax. My relishing was abruptly halted though when he pulled to a stop and parked outside a large, brick apartment building.

Chinen’s apartment was exactly as I pictured it would be. It was rather sparsely decorated but it still looked comfortable. He had a single couch that looked like it was probably bought second hand, a small TV, a battered wooden coffee table and instead of a proper chair, Chinen had a bean bag just sort of plopped next to the table. At some point, he had also apparently acquired a very shabby looking cat that came plodding over to us when we came in. I reached down to rub it and mere seconds later, several globs of drool started to form at its mouth and fall to the floor. For some reason, I realized that the cat and Chinen seemed to fit well together.

I went to sit at the bar that separated the small kitchen from the living room and noticed that it seemed we were the only two there.

“Where’s everyone else? I thought we were having a ‘team meeting’.”

“Kai and Rin must still be out goofing off,” Chinen replied as he sat my bags down by his couch.

I suddenly felt the urge to run over and push him down onto said couch and just start ripping his clothes off to show him how we could goof off too but when I realized what sort of things I was thinking, I snapped myself out of my day dream. I really couldn’t understand what was going on with me. I had managed to keep my feelings for Chinen subdued for so many years but suddenly, now that I was in Okinawa, alone with him in his apartment, all I wanted to do was jump him and tell him how I felt.

“He was trying to get Rin to stop sulking around the house for at least a few hours by taking him surfing,” Chinen added as he moved towards the kitchen.

At that moment I heard the front door open and turned to see Kai and Rin emerge from the hallway, hair still soaked from the ocean and carrying their surfboards. At the sight I was assaulted by the memory of the day we first met. When the two boys saw me, their eyes lit up as they used to when they could tell that they had a tennis match in the bag, dropped their boards with a loud THUNK and came running over to me. I was nearly knocked over when they both rushed me and gave me a very bone-crushing hug that I had learned from my past trips home that I could only get from them.

I had to struggle to breathe just to say, “Well, I missed you guys too!”

They continued to squeeze me so hard I thought I may break in half but I did manage to give Chinen the most evil glare I could muster as I looked out past the mass of Kai’s red curls and saw him simply standing in the kitchen trying and mostly failing to stifle his laughter at the entire scene. After what seemed like a week, they finally let go and sat on the vacant stools on the opposite side of the bar while Chinen started going about the motions to make tea for everyone.

“Wow Amelia, you cut your hair! It looks really good,” Rin exclaimed acting a bouncy as ever.

It was strange seeing him so happy when I thought about how he and Kite were finally over and that Kite had apparently moved on so quickly. I had imagined he would be mopey like Chinen said he had been. It made me wonder if Rin even knew that Kite had a new man in his life and only Chinen knew that bit of information.

So, I decided to ignore my questions about his perkiness and instead answered him about my recent decision to chop all my hair off, taking it from stretching down to the middle of my back to up just below my earlobes. “Yea, I wanted a change. It was getting to be a pain in the ass trying to work with as long as it was. I see Kai’s hair still has a mind of its own.”

I didn’t catch Kai’s response. Rin’s reaction of running his fingers through his friend’s red locks and his smile that made me realize that Kai had his arm wrapped around Rin’s waist and they were sitting awfully close. I then realized why Rin was so happy when I thought he should be a total emotional wreck and I began to wonder why Chinen had failed to mention this not-so-small development in our friends’ relationship. When I looked over at him, Chinen was just mindlessly going through the motions of making tea with his back to us.

“So I guess Kai succeeded in getting you to stop sulking then?” I asked, nodding towards where Kai’s arm stretched around Rin’s torso. “According to Hiroshi, you’ve been a complete hermit the past few days, moping around and not even coming out of your room.”

“Well…I was, but Kai sort of snapped me out if it one night while we were playing videos games,” Rin told her. “Apparently he just couldn’t hold his emotions in any longer and proceeded to let me know how he felt. I was kind of hesitant at first because part of me was still kind of hoping that Eishirou and I would get back together. But Kai managed to persuade me and I think I’ve completely gotten over Eishirou. As sappy as it sounds, I really think Kai pretty much helped me put my heart back together as well.”

“Wow, that really was sappy,” Kai laughed as he slapped his blonde boyfriend’s arm. “You know, I am sorry though Amelia. It seems that you and I will never get to go to one of Shogo-san’s parties together. I mean first you were pissed at me for almost drowning you after Nationals, then I was grounded for several of them and couldn’t go, and whatever other reason’s that we never went together.”

I tried to look put down about it but instead just ended up smiling as I responded, “Yea, I guess you’re right. But I think I will live to see another ay with the knowledge that we still won’t be able to go together. Anyway, will you guys excuse me? I’m going to go ‘freshen up’. I always hate those stupid flights from Tokyo. They aren’t really overly long but they always seem to be long enough to make me need to pee right after we land and I was in such a hurry today that I didn’t stop and find a bathroom before heading out of the terminal.”

The guys laughed because I was rarely so “girly”, as they called it, when I said I was going to “freshen up”. But I also felt comfortable enough with them to be honest about needing to relieve my bladder too. Chinen pointed me in the direction of the bathroom and I left the guys alone for a moment.

As I was heading back to the kitchen, I heard Kai say something so unexpected that it made me stop in Chinen’s bedroom doorway and just listen to their conversation for a moment.

“…I mean it, Hiroshi. Amelia is totally in love with you dude. Sometimes I thought you were even more clueless than Kite was with Rin when I would see her looking at you. At first I thought it was probably from when you pulled her out of the pool that night and she was just having some sort of savior complex because it started around then. But all through high school I noticed that she had trouble even looking at you sometimes.”

I had no idea that Kai had been so observant, or that I had been so obvious about the way I felt. I was kind of curious to hear Chinen’s answer but I decided it was better if I didn’t hear his thoughts in case I ended up crushed. Since I didn’t want them to know I had been listening, I opened the door as nonchalantly as I could.

Their conversation ceased when I entered the room and I tried to act like I hadn’t noticed as I went to sit back down and said, “Well, I feel better now. So, what was it that we needed to have this ‘team meeting’ about?”

Chinen acted like they weren’t just talking about how I was secretly, madly in love with him as he sat down, after serving everyone’s tea, on the only vacant stool beside me. Knowing that he at least knew how I felt now that Kai had let him in on it, deep down I wanted to embrace him like Kai was holding Rin close. But I was also afraid to sit any closer to him lest he not feel the least bit attracted to me romantically.

“Well, part of it was that Rin and I are now together,” Kai chimed in before Chinen could answer. “However, the most shocking part, and I’m sure Chinen told you, is that Kite moved on to another guy.”

“Yea he did. I don’t see how that’s shocking though. I mean Rin did the same thing and it was really only a matter of time before Kite did too right?” I asked.
“Well, yea, I guess,” Kai responded. “But that’s not really the most shocking part.”

“What he’s trying to say is that Kite is now dating Tezuka Kunimitsu,” Rin blurted out as though he couldn’t take Kai dodging the facts any more.

My thoughts immediately went back to that day in the coffee shop when Echizen Ryoma and I were discussing how Tezuka had just had a nasty break-up with Atobe. Apparently Kite and Rin weren’t the only ones moving on so quickly. I had to remember to ask Echizen about it when I talked to him. Whenever that would be.

“You mean Seigaku’s Tezuka Kunimitsu, the one that kicked Kite’s ass in their match at Nationals? I never would have thought he’d go for someone that beat him so thoroughly at his life-long dream after he had gotten so close,” I commented.

“I thought the same thing at first but Eishirou really seems to like him,” Rin said as he stared down into his cup.

I suddenly got the feeling that he was officially uncomfortable with the conversation so I tried my best to quickly change the subject.

“So, we’re all here and pretty much caught up about each other, except Tanishi. What has he been up do while I’ve been away?”

Thankfully Kai got the point and quickly chimed in, “Oh, he met this girl that owns this little bakery downtown. She makes the coolest cakes ever. It shouldn’t be surprising that when Kei-kun went in to get a cake for his mom for her birthday that he fell head over heels for the girl who made it. He actually even got a job there so they pretty much spend 24 hours a day with each other. Sometimes we wonder how she’s even able to stay in business with Kei-kun working there.

“They’re even getting married soon,” Kai added almost as an afterthought.

“Wow. Although, that doesn’t surprise me. I always knew that he’d end up with some world class chef or someone who works with food for a living with his love for food. Speaking of food, why don’t we all go out to dinner? It will be my treat.”

Everyone agreed that dinner sounded perfect as, of course, Rin was starving. He was the only other person I knew other than Tanishi that seemed to have a bottomless pit for a stomach. The only difference was that Rin never seemed to gain any weight.

We decided on going to this little Italian place that I knew was too expensive for them to have been before but since tonight was a special occasion, I figured I would treat them to something fancy. I took it upon myself to make sure they were each dressed decent enough to go to such a ‘ritzy’ place, as Rin said, which took longer than I though.

It took probably ten minutes to find anything in Rin and Kai’s shared closet that wasn’t jeans, shorts or a t-shirt. But, finally I managed to dig out a decent pair of khaki shorts that were clean and didn’t have any holes in them and since they were roughly the same size, I borrowed one of Kai’s polo shirts to go with it. Kai had a few more options to work with, but I still had trouble finding something that wasn’t wrinkly or desperately needed to be washed. Once I had the pants found, finding a shirt proved even more difficult. Just when I was about to consider taking Chinen’s old high school uniform shirt and seeing if it fit the redhead before tearing off the Higa High emblem, I spotted a box in the bottom of the closet.

It was wrapped in shiny blue wrapping paper and looked as if it hadn’t even been opened. A tag hanging on the silver ribbon said it was from Kai’s mother which told me why it had just been discarded in the bottom of the closet. Several years ago, Kai and his mom had had a pretty bad fight that had ended with him moving in with Chinen and Rin in their rather small two bedroom apartment. I imagined his mother had probably sent the gift for her son’s birthday in hopes of reaching out to him and he had just ignored it.

I pulled the ribbon off and tore into the package myself and was surprised and rather glad to find a deep blue button up shirt folded inside. Without saying a word, I took the tags off with my teeth and tossed the shirt to Kai to put on. He looked at me confused for a moment before pulling the shirt on. I left him to get it buttoned himself while I went to Chinen’s closet to look for something he could wear.

I was shocked to find that his closet looked completely different from the other’s shared one. Everything was hung up neatly was arranged by type of clothing, with all the pants separated into denim, khaki and other materials; the t-shirts all hanging together and the dress shirts and polos placed in between. I pulled out a black button up shirt and a dark pair of jeans and handed them to Chinen while I headed out to the living room to dig through my luggage for something to wear myself.

Chinen allowed the use of his bathroom to change and I emerged from his bedroom wearing a flowing, black, knee length skirt and a simple teal v-neck sleevless shirt, holding a pair of small heeled sandals in my hands, I was only slightly surprised when Rin and Kai’s jaws dropped to the floor.

“Wow, Amelia, it’s been so long since we’ve seen you look so girly that I forgot how beautiful you are,” Rin said as he took my hand and twirled me around once.
I glanced over at Chinen and was happy to find that he was slightly slack-jawed himself when he saw me in a skirt.

At dinner we were stuck in a corner booth away from everyone, at my request and with a little incentive offered to the maître de, so Rin and Kai wouldn’t have to be uncomfortable about wanting to sit so closely to each other. That of course left Chinen and me sitting next to each other. As I slid onto the padded seat, I couldn’t help but think about the conversation I overheard between my three friends and I figured Chinen was probably thinking the same.

During dinner, we mainly talked more about what had been going on with everyone since I had last visited. We were all smart enough to stay clear of anything that would bring up Rin and Kite’s relationship or Kite’s new one. Afterwards, we were talking a sipping on a rather expensive bottle of wine with our dessert when Chinen surprised me by slipping his arm around my waist and without a word, pulled me nonchalantly closer to him on the bench seat. Rin and Kai were too busy whispering and giggling in each other’s ears as they fed each other pieces of their shared slice of cheesecake to notice but I really didn’t care. I just longed for a much closer embrace with the tall, stoic man beside me.

When we got back to Chinen’s apartment, Kai said he needed to go to work early the next day so he and Rin trooped off to their bedroom where we soon heard those familiar moaning sounds coming from inside. Chinen and I just smiled to each other and he started making me a cup of my favorite hot cocoa. I had planned to head to Shogo-san’s pretty soon since it was starting to get late and I could clearly see that my only choice of a place to sleep would be the couch if I stayed at Chinen’s apartment. But, and I only partly blame the wine I had at dinner, I decided it was finally time to tell Chinen just how I felt about him, completely uncaring about the possibility of being rejected.

I stood up and slowly walked over to where he had his back turned as he busied himself with preparing our drinks. I slowly slipped my arms around his waist and felt his body tense up as I snuggled my head into his back. I stood there for a moment taking in the glorious smell that reminded me of the beach that I somehow never noticed about him before.

After several beats during which neither of us moved, I told him, “Chinen, I overheard what Kai was telling you earlier. What he said was true. I am in love with you and I have been for a long time. I’ll understand if you don’t feel the same way about me and I’ll be fine just staying friends but I just really wanted you to know how I…”

My thought was quite suddenly cut off when he turned around in my arms and lifted my chin so that he could press our lips lightly together. When he broke the kiss, he didn’t say anything; he just looked down and smiled at me. I returned his smile with one of my own as I threw my arms around his neck and pulled him down closer to me so I could kiss him again.

I hastened to deepen the kiss and was very happy when Chinen obliged and parted his lips slightly so I could slide my tongue into his mouth. I was lost in the moment as we stood in his kitchen, fighting one another with our tongues, that I only partly noticed when he picked me up and wrapped my legs around his waist so he could carry me to his bedroom.
We used the weight of our bodies as he slammed me against his door to fully close it. I was surprised by his roughness but my train of thought quickly derailed when he set my feet back on the floor and moved to begin kissing across my jawline and down my neck before finding a spot on my shoulder to start sucking on. With what concentration I could muster, I started to fumble with unbuttoning his shirt and after a few seconds, I thought to myself why in the hell did we have to go somewhere that we had to get all dressed up? I had only managed to get two buttons undone when Chinen pulled me quickly out of my own thoughts when his lips found mine again. He picked me up again and turned me around before laying me gingerly on the bed.

He basically just ripped his shirt the rest of the way open and threw it on the floor in his haste and while a part of me was thinking what a waste of such a nice shirt, the more prominent part was too busy ogling Chinen’s bare chest to care. He leaned down toward me and kissed me again as he slid his arm around my back and placed his palm in the center of my back and lifted me into a sitting position with more gentleness that I never would have thought him capable of. He moved his mouth to continue kissing down my neck and across my shoulders before moving down and tracing the line of the V in my shirt with his mouth. As his lips pressed against the skin of my breasts I couldn’t help but let out a soft moan at the sensation and the realization that I finally had Chinen’s lips on me like I had dreamt of many times before. He paused briefly to pull my shirt over my head and laid me back down to continue kissing me all over.

I tried my damnedest but for some reason I couldn’t stifle the little sighs and moans that kept popping from my mouth as Chinen’s mouth wandered down my neck and very lightly traced the line of the top of my bra and around my stomach beneath it. With his lips to my navel, his hands slid up to very slowly slide the straps of my shoulders. He sat up and pulled me up to him again, kissing my bare shoulders and back across to move up my neck, as his fingers worked to unhook the tiny clasps at my back. Once he had it off, Chinen continued to kiss me all over gingerly that I didn’t even notice when he had pulled my skirt and underwear off as well.

He stood up to, quite hastily, undo the buttons on his pants but was having troubles. So, I sat up and moved his hands away from the little black button and started pressing my lips to the skin of bottom part of his stomach and hips. I moved my own hands along the fabric of his pants across his hips and felt his long, slender fingers tangle in my hair as I slid his pants and then his boxers off an down to the floor.

When he was finally free of the obviously constricting fabric, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the size of his cock. I had imagined it would be long but it was also rather thick as well. I was just about to lean in and slide my tongue along its length when he laid me back down on his bed, spit out a glob of saliva into his hand and slathered his cock with it before sliding into me. I shuddered when I felt him inside me and was glad that it didn’t take long before he started to move slowly in and almost completely back out before thrusting back in again. I don’t really know how long his slow and steady pace lasted as he continued to kiss me all over while he moved his hands up and down my body. But I never wanted the moment to end. I had finally gotten the only man I had ever loved to see me as more than just a friend and be mine completely.

I could hear him moaning in pleasure as my fingers almost clawed his back so hard to draw blood while he thrust almost viciously inside me as he worked to reach his peak. But I couldn’t form any sort of words until he finally brought me over the edge and a second later he met me there causing me to release a loud, “Hir-ohhh-shi!”

After he had caught his breath, he pulled out of me and rolled onto his back, drawing me closer to him and quietly whispering as he pressed his lips to my forehead, “I’ve always loved you too, Amelia.”

Chapter Text

Part of me had been afraid the night before had just been a dream but the next morning when I woke up wrapped in those long, slender arms that I had dreamed of waking up to for a very long time, I was elated to find it had been real. I didn’t ever want to get up from this wonderful position so I wrapped myself tighter around him and very lightly pressed my lips to his bare shoulder. The action caused Chinen to shift next to me.

“Ungh. What time is it?” he asked sleepily.

I hadn’t looked at a clock but I figured it could probably still be considered early to I responded, “Who cares? Let’s just lay here all day like this.”

“Mm, that sounds like a pretty good idea. But, I don’t trust Rin in the house by himself while Kai’s at work.”

“Well, we could at least stay for a little bit longer can’t we?” I asked looking up to give him my best puppy dog expression.

When he saw the look on my face, he laughed and rolled me over to pin me to the bed. He leaned own and kissed the tip of my nose once. I could still feel his smile as he whispered in my ear, “Now that’s an excellent idea.”

I reached up and turned his face so that he was looking at me and said, “Well then, how about we try to see if we can make Rin feel as uncomfortable as we always did whenever he was locked in a room with Kite.”

I pressed my lips to his gently and was surprised when he immediately deepened the kiss. We then proceeded with an encore of the night before.

A few minutes after Chinen had lain back down beside me, my phone buzzed from somewhere in the room. Chinen took that as his cue to press his lips to my forehead and sit up. When he stood to get dressed, I couldn’t help noticing how even more beautiful he was when he was naked.

He saw me ogling him and smiled again, coming over to kiss me once more before saying, “I’ll go start breakfast,” before slipping from the room.

I imagined Rin was probably waiting for him, quite impatiently, on the other side to see what happened after him and Kai “went to bed” the night before. I let out a small chuckle before remembering my phone. I went over to the dresser where my skirt was draped haphazardly and pulled the small cellular device out to look at the message. I was slightly surprised to find it had been an email from Echizen.

Hey,
I remembered that you said you were going home to see the rest of the team and thought I would warn you.
Apparently Tezuka had gotten over Atobe rather quickly.
The reason I tell you this is because he’s now dating Kite Eishirou.
I thought you may want to know before they got wind of it somewhere else so you could keep Kite’s ex from overreacting in case he’s still hung up on him.
Call me soon.
E

I thought about what Echizen had said about me keeping Rin from overreacting in case he was still hung up on Kite. Did he really think I could prevent Rin from doing something stupid in a situation like this? I had only met Echizen once and he already thought that I had such an influence over my friends to keep them level headed. Not that I needed to worry about Rin overreacting anyway.

So I shook it off and replied to his message. I didn’t tell him that we already knew about Kite and Tezuka but instead just simply said, Thanks for the warning. I promise I will call soon.

Then I looked up and noticed myself in the mirror.

My hair was a wreck and I was stark naked. I didn’t even try to hide my smile from myself as I remembered just why I was naked. I decided the best way to take care of the hair situation was with a shower until I realized that all my luggage was still out in Chinen’s living room. So I dug through his drawers for a pair of sweatpants and grabbed an old t-shirt from his closet before heading to the bathroom.

I tried to be quick but I kept finding my thoughts straying to images of sharing my shower with Chinen which caused the area between my legs start to get warm. I tried to just think of something else and managed to make my arousal subside several times. However after a rather vivid vision of Chinen holding me against the shower wall and pounding into me, I couldn’t help but let my fingers wander down and into the warm folds of flesh.

Finally, after climaxing almost as hard as I had the night before when I actually had Chinen inside me, I quickly finished my shower and got dressed in Chinen’s clothes before making my way out to the kitchen. When I opened the door to Chinen’s bedroom, I was hit with a wave of something that smelled absolutely wonderful cooking on the stove. Then I noticed that someone other than Rin was sitting at the bar chatting with Chinen who was on the other side of the kitchen.

At first glance, I didn’t recognize him, even though he hadn’t changed much except for merely getting a bit older. He still wore the same frame-less glasses that he had always worn but other than that, his appearance wasn’t something I had seen on this person before or even imagined seeing. His usually slicked back, black hair hung limp around his face. He was also wearing loose fitting jeans and a t-shirt. I actually had to think when I had ever seen the man in jeans and a t-shirt and looking so relaxed and decided that while I may have seen on or the other, I had never seen the combination of the three things at once.

“Well, well. If it isn’t Kite Eishirou,” I said walking over to stand next to him.

I tried to make my voice sound accusing but I still couldn’t help myself from grinning widely. Our old captain turned on his stool to look at me and I noticed he looked happy, maybe even happier than I had ever seen him even when he had still been dating Rin.

“Well, if it isn’t Amelia, my ‘ex-girlfriend’ coming out of my best friend’s bedroom and wearing his clothes. If you would have been wearing your own clothes I may have considered it a walk of shame. But according to Hiroshi, you both have been hiding your feelings for a very long time.”

He stood up and pulled me to him for a tight hug. I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed for a second before I let go and he did as well. I gave him a quick glance and a smirk before running to the kitchen to wrap my arms around my new love.

Chinen paused what he was doing and twisted around in my embrace so that he could lean down and kiss me lightly on the lips. Then he noticed what I was wearing.
“Wow, I wouldn’t have thought my clothes could ever look so sexy. You didn’t even have to roll up the legs on the sweatpants very much,” he commented.

“Well, I wanted to shower but I remembered that all of my clothes were sitting out here in your living room so I figured this was the best solution instead of traipsing out only wrapped in a sheet.”

The corner of Chinen’s mouth lifted at the thought, “You know I wouldn’t have minded that either. But I don’t think Kite would have appreciated it too much.”

We both looked over at him and saw Kite just sitting there smiling widely. I shook my head and let go of Chinen so he could continue with his cooking and went to sit next to Kite.
“So, what brings you back to Okinawa? From what I hear, you’re pretty happy in Fukuoka.”

Kite continued to smile and replied, “Yes, I am. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about you guys and when I heard you were flying in, I thought I would come home for a few days too. Hiroshi was just explaining the new developments in your relationship when you so rudely interrupted us.”

Again I had to think about when I had ever seen Kite so laid back but then I just shrugged and replied, “Yea. I probably shouldn’t have taken as long to explain my feelings. But at the same time, I’m glad I waited until we were older to make sure it wasn’t some high school crush as a result of raging hormones or something.” I turned to face him before adding, “So I hear you have a new man in your live as well.”

I don’t think he expected me to be so up front about it but his expression didn’t change. If anything, he began to smile even more. “Rin never could keep his mouth shut. But yes, I have a new man in my life. I’m sure you already know who it is too so I won’t even bother trying to awkwardly explain that to you.”

“Yea. I will admit I was rather surprised when I heard you had moved on to Tezuka Kunimitsu though. I mean you were more pissed off at losing to him than I had ever seen you. I figured someone who annoyed you enough to come back to Okinawa and get trashed and then fuck one of your teammates would never be someone you would hook up with. Although I never thought you and Rin would break up either, or that I would finally be with Chinen.”

“I was pretty pissed at losing, but I think the years since then have made me realize that it was just a stupid game. I’ve moved on to bigger, better and more important things than tennis.” The smirk he gave me reminded of the grins that Rin and Kai would get when they were about to unleash some sort of foul plan on someone that was messing with them. It made me wonder if he meant that he had moved onto other things by working to become a doctor or if he meant it the way Rin would have meant it, very perverted.

Chinen interrupted our conversation by sitting plates of very delicious looking food in front of us, not saying a word as he did. I looked up and smiled at him and the three of us ate our breakfast continuing to discuss how Kite had ended up with Tezuka and what I had been up to in Tokyo.

Kite stayed for a while and we all continued to talk about various things, just catching up with each other’s lives. Around mid-morning, Chinen got a call to go in to work for someone who was sick. We decided that Kite would take me to Shogo-san’s to get my car and then I would come back to get my luggage using a spare key to the apartment that Chinen would leave me since Kite had driven his motorcycle and Chinen wouldn’t have time to take me home.

While Chinen showered, I had to resist the urge to join him as I used his bedroom to change into my own clothes while Kite flipped through channels on the TV. When we got outside and I noticed Chinen’s car, I remembered the promise I made to myself when I first got back to Okinawa about burying him a newer car. After Chinen kissed me goodbye and was out of earshot, Kite handed me a helmet and I told him about my plan and asked if he could drive me to some car lots to look. Kite agreed that, while I was somewhat crazy for wanting to buy Chinen a car myself, it was definitely a good idea and he would go with me to pick something for our friend.

After the first stop, I didn’t see anything that caught my eye but I did come up with a strange idea to have a “group date” to get the entire team back together at least for one night while Kite was still in town. At first, he was rather hesitant about going on a “date” with Rin after their not so smooth break up but he eventually agreed to it. Somehow, I even managed to agree to coax Tezuka to come to Okinawa to join us for it. After some further discussion about it while we stopped at a café to be able to hear each other, we had set up a date and time. I wasn’t sure if Kite actually knew that Kai and Rin’s dates would be each other, so I didn’t mention it and decided he could find out when neither of them had anyone else show up.

On our way to one of the car lots that we planned to check out, we stopped by the bakery where Tanishi and his fiancé worked and invited them to the “date”. After the initial surprise of seeing two of his oldest friends again, Tanishi very energetically accepted the offer.

While Tanishi was surprised to see Kite and me, I was slightly more surprised when I met his fiancé. Mai Yamaguchi didn’t look like the type of person I would have pictured owning her own bakery. She was a few years older than Tanishi and her body type was the complete opposite than our friend. Mai was very fit and slender and was very beautiful too. She had long silky black hair, wore very little make-up, and had a very infectious, warm smile.

After we left Tanishi, we headed to the nearest car lot. On the way there, I briefly thought of buying Chinen a sports car but knew that with his height, it would look kind of silly with such a tall man driving around Okinawa in such a little car. So, I settled on seeing if I could find a good truck because he just seemed like the person that would fit in a truck. Even though I knew he would hate it and probably refuse it at first, I was determined to get him a fairly new, and fairly expensive one too because I loved Chinen Hiroshi that much.

Of course I had to check with Shogo-san before actually even looking for a car that I would be buying for my new boyfriend that I hadn’t even been with for 24 hours. But like Kai, Shogo-san had been thoroughly observant of my feelings during high school so he was actually rather elated when I told him the news of our now romantic relationship and agreed to my proposal of buying him a car.

After going to several more car lots, I still hadn’t found anything I liked. Eventually though, we ended up at a Porsche dealership. I hadn’t planned on getting him anything quite that expensive but when I saw the new Cayenne, I knew I had found the one. The moment I saw the car, I could picture Chinen in it and they just seemed perfect together. As soon as we were finished with the paperwork and I had the keys in my hand, Kite started laughing as we walked across the lot.

I stopped and turned to glare at him as I asked, “Eishirou, what is SO damn funny?”

Kite ceased his laughter briefly to look back at me and reply, “I just think it’s kind of funny that you’d buy something that expensive for someone you only started dating last night. I just hope Shogo-san doesn’t flip out when he finds out you bought Chinen a Porsche.”

“Well, he isn’t just my boyfriend. He’s also one of my oldest friends, which you happen to be one of too,” I said more defensively than I had meant it to sound. “Also, I’ve been in love with Chinen since middle school. Our relationship just became official last night. Besides, he deserves to have a better car than the pile of junk that he is driving now, even you agreed with me on that.”

I punched him in the shoulder lightly and let out a small chuckle of my own as I told him, “You also know good and well that YOU would do the same thing for your boyfriend. In fact, if I recall, you happened to purchase most of Rin’s game consoles and games to go with them while the two of you were dating. Not to mention any other things you gave him. I guess you haven’t been dating Tezuka long enough to be comfortable with buying him presents yet but I’m sure you will eventually.

“And if Shogo-san freaks out, I’ll just pay for it all myself. I just paid the down payment out of my pocket and I’m more than capable of making the payments if Shogo-san won’t. I think the person who would flip out the most though would be Shogo-kun,” I said as I climbed behind the wheel of Chinen’s new car.

Kite returned my punch with an even lighter one of his own and said, “Well he’ll get over it. He always does.”

As he climbed onto his bike, he still chuckled slightly to himself. After Kite and I said our goodbyes, with him promising that he would immediately start trying to coax Tezuka to Okinawa, I called Chinen. I was calling to double check about what time he would be getting off work and once he gave the time again, I headed to the grocery store to pick up ingredients to make him dinner. On my way, I called Rin to let him know he could return to the apartment since I figured he had probably left once he learned Kite was coming by this morning. Then I asked if there was any way I could convince him and Kai to let Chinen and I have the apartment to ourselves for a real date. He wasn’t sure since he didn’t really have anywhere else to go but after a quick call to my godfather, I told Rin that he and Kai could stay at Shogo-san’s for the night and play video games on one of the large screen TVs. That made the blonde man immediately agree.

When I was finally sure we would be alone and had finished my shopping, I went back to Chinen’s apartment and when I parked outside his apartment building, I received several awe-struck stares from the few people walking past. But, I ignored them and gathered the bags from the back and headed inside.

Two hours later, as I was just finishing dinner, I heard the front door open and several seconds later Chinen walked into the kitchen and stopped in his tracks when he saw the spread of food I had cooked. He resumed his composure and stepped into the kitchen to wrap his long arms around me and plant a kiss on my cheek.

“Mmmm. That smells good. I didn’t know you could cook,” he commented. “And did you get a new car? I saw a very new Porsche sitting outside with temporary plates on it and you are the only person I can think of that would drive something that nice. Well, other than Kite.”

“Well, not exactly,” I stopped what I was doing with dinner and twisted in his embrace to face him. I pulled the small box that I had wrapped the keys in out of my pocket and handed it to him.

He hesitated but he pulled one of his arms from around my waist to take the small, blue box that I had tied with a white ribbon from me. He looked down at it questioningly and then back at me several times before removing his other arm to open the box and lift out the pair of keys that hung on a key ring with a leather tab that displayed the Porsche emblem on it.

“Amelia, you can’t be serious. I have a car. I won’t accept it,” he said as he shook his head. He gave me a very matter of fact as he tried to press the keys back into my palm.

I caught his hand and closed his fingers around the set of keys s I leaned up to kiss him. “Hiroshi, I promised myself when I got here and saw what you were driving that I would buy you a new car. I know you don’t like accepting gifts like this, but please just let me spoil you a little. I hid my feelings from you for long enough and I’ve been gone long enough that I think you deserve it. If it makes you feel better, you can contribute to the payments every month.”

He looked down at me, wrapped his arms around me and returned my kiss with a deeper one of his own, with and added one placed on my forehead.

Then Chinen pulled his own key ring out of his pocked and added the key ring to the Cayenne, removing one of them. He placed that one in my pocket and whispered in my ear, “You can at least keep a spare.”

I gave him a quick kiss before I slid from his embrace to finish dinner, telling him that we had the apartment to ourselves for the night so we could have a proper date. While we ate, I told him of my plan to get the entire team back together for a “group date”, including Kite and Tezuka. Like Kite, at first Chinen was apprehensive about the idea. However, after some discussion, he made a comment that since I was the one planning on it, everyone would be totally into it because I usually got whatever I wanted. He even agreed to help me arrange it. With his comment about getting whatever I wanted however, I picked up a carrot from my plate and threw it at him. I was only partly surprised when he caught it in this mouth and smiled at me while he chewed.

After we ate Chinen “thanked” me even more for his car. Around midnight when we were both sound asleep, I got another message from Echizen. He was asking how things were and I realize that I had been so busy that day that I forgot to call him and let him know about everything that was going on. I replied to his message by telling him I would call him in the morning and turned back to return to Chinen’s bed. When I turned away from his dresser, I paused and just looked at him to take the image before me in.

He had rolled over so that he was lying on his stomach and the sheet was pushed down so that it just barely covered his backside. Because of his height, his legs stuck out from under the thin, almost threadbare, covers and I almost had to stifle a giggle because as beautiful as he was, I still thought it looked slightly odd. I tiptoed back over to the bed and climbed onto it, clamoring over to lean down and kiss the back of his neck. Chinen twitched slightly in a sort of shrug but stayed sound asleep.

Chapter Text

“Amelia, I can’t believe you actually talked me into this. I DO NOT want to have dinner with Kite and Tezuka,” Rin whined.

We were sitting in the restaurant, waiting for Kite and Tezuka to arrive. Kite had sent me a message several minutes before saying that they were running late and the more time that went by, the antsier Rin got. Tanishi and his fiancé, Mai were chatting casually with Chinen who sat on one side of me, holding my hand in his under the table and Kai, who sat across from Chinen and next to Mai. Kai had joined in the conversation simply just because he got tired of listening to his boyfriend whine. I could tell he wasn’t really that interested as they were talking about Tanishi’s upcoming wedding.

Rin had outright refused at first when I suggested to him about going to dinner with Kite and Tezuka. But after some persuasion from me and A LOT of “special” persuasion from Kai, that I imagined either included lots of sex or lots of threats about hiding the controllers to the game consoles, or both, Rin had finally agreed to join us.

“Rin, stop fidgeting. Everything will be fine. Besides, how do you think he’ll feel when he sees that you’ve moved on to dating Kai?”

Rin looked at me, obviously pouting. He knew that I was always straight forward about things like that, that didn’t mean he always liked it. However he did relax a little and began sipping his drink.

About five minutes later, Kite walked in followed by a very uncomfortable looking Tezuka. He hadn’t changed much since I had last seen him at Nationals, but like Kite, he just looked like an older version of the Tezuka Kunimitsu that I remembered.

After some short introductions, the two men took their seats, which I had strategically made sure were on the opposite end of the table from Rin, and the moment they sat down, Tanishi immediately engage the two in conversation about his upcoming nuptials. Kite was quite interested in them since he hadn’t heard that Tanishi had even planned on proposing the last time he was in town and had talked to him. Kai finally turned back to his boyfriend and began talking to Rin about some new game that would be coming out soon to try to ease his discomfort while Chinen turned to men and started discussing a book that I had convinced him to start reading.

The rest of the evening gradually became less uncomfortable and by the time we were ready to part, everyone, including Kite and Rin, were smiling and laughing with each other. Somehow the suggestion was made to take our party to Shogo-san’s and have one of our old nights of drinking and being complete idiots. The only ones who declined the idea were Tanishi and Mai who had to open the shop early the next day to start work on a very intricate birthday cake that someone had ordered.

Several hours later, everyone was thoroughly drunk, even Tezuka, and I wasn’t surprised when we ended up outside splashing around in the pool in our underwear. Again I was a lot more sober than the others and because I of it, I was reminded of that night after Nationals when I had first noticed my feelings for Chinen. Apparently he was too.

Chinen was also still sober as we sat on the steps of the pool with me sitting in his lap with my head lying back on his shoulder while he had his arms wrapped tightly around me when he asked me, “Hey Amelia, do you remember that night after the National tournament when I pulled you out of the pool after Kai pushed you in?”

I nodded and replied, “Yea, I remember, that was the night I fell in love.”

Chinen chuckled and said, “Do you remember the reason I gave for pulling you out? That I didn’t want Kite to kill Kai?”

I wondered where he was going because he hadn’t really talked about how he had liked me for a long time too. But I just nodded and when I did, he continued.

“Well…that wasn’t the entire reason. I actually was really scared when you didn’t come up. But that was because I didn’t want you to drown. I had fallen for you’re a few weeks before, which I suppose was when I had fallen in love, and when Kai pushed you into the pool I panicked. I didn’t want to lose you so soon after I had finally realized how I felt for you.”

I lifted my head off his shoulder and turned so I could look at him. I had no idea he had fallen for me before I had fallen for him. While I still wished that I knew more about when he realized his feelings, I could only think about how torturous it must have been with how I had been slightly withdrawn all during high school because of my feelings, for him to feel the same way. I turned fully around in the water, so that I was facing him while still sitting in his lap and wrapped my arms around his neck, holding him there for several moments as I looked into his eyes before leaning in to kiss him passionately.

~~~

A year and a half later, everyone was still happily together.

Tanishi and Mai had gotten married in a beautiful ceremony that had included not only Tanishi’s ex-teammates but Mai had recruited me as a bridesmaid too. Somehow they even managed to convince me to sing as well, which is something I didn’t often do in public. They had also added to their family with a set of twins, one girl and one boy.

Rin and Kite had also made up and were not even going to be taking a trip to Hawaii in several days with their significant others. Even though Kite and Tezuka still lived in Fukuoka while Kite worked on his medical degree, Kite and Rin tried to make sure they visited each other often.

Chinen and I were also very happy and had moved in together. Granted it was only into Shogo-san’s house and Kai and Rin had followed us, but we weren’t actually staying in the main house. My godfather had a house made for us on the premises where we could still be close but have our privacy. Kai and Rin on the other hand took one of the guest rooms in Shogo-san’s house. Later I realized that ironically, they were staying in the exact same room where Rin had confessed his love to Kite.

We still had Chinen’s shabby, drooling cat and I had actually grown very fond of him. I had promised not to buy anything as lavish as the Porsche for Chinen and I had kept my promise. Mostly. Whenever I caught him admiring some sort of gadget or something, I would offer to buy it for him but would receive a stern glare from him. But I would always make a mental note of whatever it was to either buy it for him later in secret or wait for his birthday or Christmas.

Two days before the other guys were leaving for Hawaii, Kite surprised Chinen and me with tickets of our own to join them. We were both rather shocked, mainly because it was such short notice, but according to Kite, everything had been previously cleared with both Shogo-san and Chinen’s employer so all the two of us had to take care of was getting everything packed.

A few days later in Hawaii, also on the day of my birthday, I found out that Chinen had actually made the arrangements for us to come with them himself. He had set me up a day at the spa and told me that he had planned a romantic dinner on the beach for that evening. The spa was fabulous and all I could think about was how sweet Chinen was to have me pampered like that on my birthday.

However the spa trip wasn’t his only gift to me.

We were sitting on a blanket, watching the sunset when Chinen gave me the biggest surprise of my life. I was sitting between his legs and as usual, he had his long arms wrapped around me.

He removed one of his arms and I felt him pull something out of his pocket as he whispered in my ear, “So, are you ready for the best present?”

I couldn’t think of anything that would be better than sitting on a beach in Hawaii, watching the sunset with the love of my life but I nodded. He reached his arm back around me so that he held a small box in front of me. I took the box and realized that it was the same one that I had put his car keys in when I had given them too him. I untied the bow and opened the top of the box. Inside it was a smaller, black velvet box that I immediately recognized as one that would hold either earrings or a ring from a jeweler. I hesitated before pulling the little fuzzy box out and opening it.

Inside it was a very simple white gold band with at least a one carat diamond set in it. I stared at it for a few seconds before turning to face Chinen. He smiled at me and removed the ring from its cushioning in the box so he could place it on my left ring finger.

“Hiroshi. What…?” I couldn’t even form a full sentence because I was in such shock.

“Amelia, you know how much I love you. So I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” He turned me around to fully face him before asking me properly, “Amelia Palmer, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

I still couldn’t say anything so I just nodded and wrapped my arms around his neck to pull him down into the sand and into a very heated kiss.