The sun hit Taichi’s face as he drank the last of his water bottle and then tossed it in a trashcan as he walked by past it.
“And then he got mad because I told him what he was doing was wrong!” exclaimed his friend Nagato, from the soccer team, as he walked besides him on their way home from practice.
“He got mad because you called him and idiot” Taichi snorted.
As Nagato was the one who lived closest to him, they always ended up walking the last eight blocks together. Taichi liked him fine, he liked all his teammates (ones more than others), but Nagato had a habit of not being very nice to people when he got irritated. Just today, another teammate was having trouble with a certain pass, which Taichi had remarked him earlier, but as he kept on failing, Nagato had gotten mad and had reproached him, calling him an idiot (in not a very nice way) ignoring that it was something very unlikely for the other to master immediately that same day.
They had argued and Taichi and another teammate had had to intervene. The dispute per se hadn’t lasted long, but Nagato also had a habit of not letting these things go.
“Well he was being one! Who screws up that many times?”
“He just needs more practice”
“You need to be tougher”
Taichi eyed him, annoyed. He took criticism on his leadership skills better than he did back then, and the few times someone had complained about something he had said or done, he always ended up agreeing with them. This was not the case.
“I’ll talk to him tomorrow” he finally said, hoping that’d be the end of this conversation that had started since they were alone.
Nagato nodded, finally pleased, and moved onto the subject of complaining about classes and homework. Taichi was half listening to him, trying to come up with a new strategy to finally beat that videogame level he was stuck in, when they ran into Sora and Mimi leaving a store.
“Hi!” Sora said to them, and the four of them greeted each other.
“We were just coming from practice, what are you guys doing?” Taichi asked them.
“We’re doing our San Valentine shopping for tomorrow” Mimi said cheerfully, with bags from the store in her hand.
Oh right…that. Taichi thought bitterly, he had forgotten all about that. Although it’d be fairer to say he had never cared much about it; it wasn’t like he was going to get something from the girl he liked anyway, so what was the point.
His eyes went to Sora’s hand and saw she was carrying a bag too.
So she liked someone. Taichi felt his stomach twist.
Nagato was talking to them, standing as close to Mimi as he could, and Sora seemed weirdly quiet. He guessed it was because she didn’t like Nagato very much. She had told him once she found him rather annoying. Or maybe she was thinking about the guy she liked.
Sora liked someone. And she was going to confess to him tomorrow. Lucky guy, he thought feeling that spark of jealousy waver in his chest, he already hated whoever this guy was. What was worse, they would probably end up dating, because who in their right mind would say no to her.
“Who is it for?” Taichi heard himself asking.
He was going to found out whoever the guy was tomorrow, or in a few days at least, better just ripped off that band –aid now.
Sora almost jumped at the question, and unconsciously tried to hide the bag behind her. “Uhm…uh-
“It’s none of your business!” Mimi interrupted with an exaggerated gesture.
Of course it isn’t. It never is.
After that Mimi ended their conversation, and Taichi was glad to leave. They said their quick goodbyes and went each their way.
“Dude, that Mimi chick is hot”
“She has a boyfriend, Nagato” Taichi said flatly.
Just six more blocks.
Taichi found two little boxes and four letters on his desk that Valentine morning. He shuffled them without much caring, and sighed, he didn’t care. But when Sora sat in her usual sit, in front of him, something in him stirred.
Sora would have a new boyfriend by the end of the day.
Taichi hated feeling jealous. Sora hadn’t liked a boy since a few years now, so his feelings not being reciprocated hadn’t bothered him in a while. It was just something in the back of his mind that he’d learned to live with.
He eyed one of the letters; he didn’t want to be alone when Sora got herself a new boyfriend. Two of the letters had the names of the girls written on it, one did not, and the other name he had no idea to who it belong to.
The teacher entered the classroom and he put the letters without much care on his duffel bag. He’d deal with them later.
After classes ended, Taichi found a pink box and two other letters inside his locker when he was leaving. He put everything inside his duffel bag without much thought and left the schools grounds rather quickly in case he’d run into Sora and her new guy.
That late afternoon he was lying in bed, looking at silly videos on his phone while he ate some of the chocolates and thought about the girls that had written to him.
He discarded the one that didn’t have a name and the others whose names he didn’t know or cared about, and the pink box that also had no name either. Taichi looked at the box; he felt a little itch in the back of his mind whenever he looked at it, but he ignored it quickly as it didn’t led anywhere.
Ever since he had become captain of the soccer team last year, more girls seemed to have taken a like to him. Without a doubt it stroked his ego, but that was about it.
Sakura was one of the girls that had left him a small box of chocolates on his desk, she was really pretty and had big boobs. The other letter was from Kimiko, she was from Yamato’s class. She was somewhat pretty, but she had a reputation on being a little easy, so maybe if he dated her he could finally have sex.
Taichi sighed frustrated, he knew that wasn’t okay. He just wanted someone to date so he’d feel less pathetic when he got to meet Sora’s new boyfriend. And who knew, maybe he could actually end up liking this new girl.
He scratched his head and put the letters away, not wanting to deal with them right now. He looked at the pink box again when he placed the letters by its side. He had liked those chocolates, and felt that itch in the back of his mind again. He turned his attention back to his phone, watched some more silly videos and scrolled through social media, when suddenly he sat down and looked at the box again, furrowing his brow.
He had found it inside his locker.
The other two boxes had been on his desk, where anybody could leave them. The only way to put a box, even a little one, inside a locker, would be by opening it.
But the only two people who knew his combination were….
Suddenly he jumped from his bed and, grabbing the box, ran to the computer room where Hikari was. He jerked the door wide open, making her jump and give little cry.
“Did you put this in my locker?!” he asked in a hurry, shaking the box at her.
Hikari stared at him blinking.
“Did you put this in my locker?!” he asked her again.
It took her a few seconds to process his reaction.
“Why would I put that in your locker?” she asked, confused “I’m your sister”
“UGH. I know.” Taichi complained exasperated as he stomped his feet “So no one asked you to put this in my locker?” he asked her, heart beating faster, because the only other person besides Hikari who knew his combination was…
Hikari shook her head, looking at him like he was crazy. She started to open her mouth to ask him what was going on, but had no chance to do it because he left as rapidly as he had come.
Taichi ran back to his room and knelt next to the little trash bin in his room shuffling through the different wrapping papers. He was almost sure the box hadn’t had a name on it, but he needed to check. He grabbed the transparent paper it had been wrapped with. Plain, nothing on it.
He sat on the floor feeling like his heart was going to come out of his ribcage at how fast it was beating. His hands were slightly shaking. There is no way… He tried remembering yesterday afternoon when he had run into her, trying to remember if he had caught a glimpse of what she had had inside her bag, but it was pointless, he had no idea. And she hadn’t answered when he had asked her for who they were for.
An unconscious a smile started forming in his lips.
The box was from Sora.
Taichi felt a tingling in his chest as he held the box in his hands with so much delicacy and care, as if suddenly it were made out of glass.
His heart plummeted and he breathed a shaky sigh.
No. There was no way it was from her.
They knew each other. If she would have wanted to give it to him, she would’ve done it in person. Or at least written her name on it, why come up with all this secrecy.
Maybe a girl had asked Sora to put it in his locker. Yeah, that must be it. And if not, it surely had another reasonable explanation he wasn’t able to come up with right now, he thought with a heavy heart. He got up and put the box besides the letters where it was before.
Taichi put on sweatpants and an old t-shirt, and grabbed his cell phone and headphones. Maybe he could run for an hour before dinner and clear his head. He would have to decide between Sakura and Kimiko at some point.
Next day Taichi tried to avoid Sora as much as possible without making it too obvious. The minute he had set foot in the school he had been surrounded by the lovey-dovey air of new couples, and he had realized he didn’t have the stomach to face Sora walking hand in hand with her new boyfriend just yet. But as the hours went by, he saw that on the few times they had ran into each other she had been awfully quiet, so he had started to think that maybe this guy had turned her down. He tried not to seem too happy about it; he really didn’t want to see her hurting, but at the same time he couldn’t deny he was happy about it.
By recess he had stopped avoiding her, so when Mimi had asked them if they wanted to join her and Koushiro eating lunch at the terrace, he had agreed.
After ten minutes of their lunch a couple sat on the other corner of the terrace. Mimi looked at them and then at her friends.
“Can you believe some girl had the nerve to leave him chocolates?” she complained, nodding to Koushiro.
Taichi laughed out loud, Sora barely chuckled and Koushiro just looked embarrassed.
“You’re kidding” Taichi asked with food in his mouth.
“I wish” Mimi snorted “How can you leave chocolates to a guy that has a girlfriend?!”
Taichi leaned closer to Koushiro “Did she kill her?” he whispered with a grin to the red haired one.
He eyed Sora to see if she was laughing too but she seemed too busy playing with her lunch.
“Of course I didn’t kill her” Mimi said as serious as if he had asked a real question. She bit a piece of her lunch “I just kissed him in front of her” she said flatly.
Taichi laughed again and Koushiro covered his red face.
“You can’t mess with another woman’s man, don’t you agree Sora?” Mimi said as she turned to Sora to seek validation.
Sora shrugged, not comfortable with the question. “Maybe she didn’t know he had a girlfriend” she answered softly.
“Oh she knew” Mimi said and then looked at Taichi “So, Taichi…” she started with a different tone, changing the subject. He eyed her as he swallowed some food. “Are you going to ask a girl out after yesterday?” she finished with a flirty smirk.
After her run last night he had been too bummed out to chose between those two girls. But considering that apparently Sora wasn’t going to be dating anybody, it didn’t seem so important to choose right now.
“Mm I don’t know” he lifted both hands as if they were a scale “Kimiko is pretty funny…but Sakura has the big boobs so…” he shrugged, lowering the hand that had been Sakura as if it weighted more, to suggest the last one.
He put some more food on his mouth after that, but lifted his head to look at his friends when a full minute passed of complete silence on their part. Koushiro was looking at him disconcerted; the piece of food on his chopsticks fell. Mimi made a facepalm gesture. And then the silence was broken by the loud clatter of Sora’s lunch tray as she put it aggressively on the step she was sitting in, and left without saying a word or looking back.
Taichi looked at the closed door she had just left through, taken aback, and then looked back at his other two friends.
“Do you even have a brain under all that hair?!” Mimi screamed at him, exasperated. “You’re such an idiot” she said pinching her nose.
Taichi took offense “Hey! Why are you calling me an idiot for?!”
“Because you are one! How can you even think to choose one of those bimbos instead of Sora?”
He suddenly felt his mouth dry “What- what are you talking about?”
“God! And to think she even wasted her time thinking which chocolates you’d like most. You’re unbelievable” Mimi continued as if she hadn’t heard him.
His mouth opened and closed as his brain tried to process this information. “S-she…” he turned to look at the door, and then back again to were his friends were, although he wasn’t really looking at them “it was- it really was…”
Taichi rapidly got up as if the floor burned him and ran in the direction she had gone.
He chased her through the hallway, luckily she hadn’t gone far and he spotted her red hair from the other end of the hallway as she entered their empty classroom.
His heart was racing faster than ever as he entered the classroom.
“Sora!” he called after her, but she ignored him as she grabbed some notebooks from under her desk and put them in her bag.
Sora put her bag on her shoulder and turned in his direction “Would you mind?” she asked with a hand gesture, as he was inadvertently blocking her way between the rows of desks.
Taichi looked at her, catching his breath “It-it really was yours” he said, more to himself than her, still incapable to believe this was true.
Sora shifted in her place, uncomfortable, and avoided eye contact.
“It didn’t have your name” he blurted out.
Sora looked at him as if he had just said the most stupid thing ever “I left it inside your locker, given that I’m the only person not related to you that can open it, I assumed it was obvious that I didn’t have to”
“I-I thought, I thought maybe somebody had asked you to put it in…”
Sora furrowed her brow and looked at him with even more disbelief “Why would somebody ask me that?! That doesn’t make any sense!” she said raising her voice. She couldn’t believe him right now.
“I don’t know!” he said, raising his voice too, although his was still confused, instead of pissed off like hers “Weirder things have happen in our lives!"
Sora sighed and pinched her nose "I can’t believe I’m in love with someone so dense"
Taichi had never thought it was possible one could ran out of breath in such a wonderful way. His mind was processing a million thoughts at once, feeling a smile starting to appear in the corners of his mouth.
He slowly took a few steps towards her “You’re in love with me?” he asked with what he thought was the most stupid smile on his face. Some part of him sure this was a dream and he’d wake up in any minute.
Sora shrugged, annoyed, but it was just in appearance “It’s not like it matters now, you want Sakura with the big boobs”
Taichi laughed and got closer “If you really think that then you are even more dense than I am”
Sora looked at him, trying to suppress a smile to not give him the satisfaction. Guiding purely by instinct Taichi leaned closer to her face, she wasn’t moving back, so he tilted his head for better angle, and when their faces were barely touching he closed his eyes.
Taichi opened his eyes in surprise when his lips were met by the palm of her hand
“I’m still pissed at you, I don’t want out first kiss to be while I’m mad” Sora said with blushed cheeks, still suppressing her smile.
He chuckled against her hand and nodded. Sora removed her hand, and they both took a deep breath, staring at each other, processing this soon to be new reality.
“How about now?” he tentatively asked.
Sora scoffed and tried pushing past him, but he hugged her from behind and lifted her up.
Sora gave a little scream, trying to get rid of him. “Ugh I hate you!” she complained but she was laughing as she did so.
“Mmm I don’t know if I believe you, I seem to recall you just said you were in love with me”