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Lovestruck Marathons & Precious Dreams

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Sunny and clear. What an ideal day. Even if there was still a good chill in the air from the late stages of winter’s season, a clear day was rare, and a nice sight to behold.

“Stop daydreaming, Miki.”

Ah…oh. Miki blinked, turning her head to take a brief look at her classmate and best friend, Kei Shidou, nearby and gathering the last of the litter by the track.

“Geez…I don’t want to weed all this…worse even, my best friend is over there daydreaming and leaving me to do it on my own.”

How overdramatic. Miki rolled her eyes and walked over to Kei, before picking up the trash bag and holding it open for her.

“Aren’t you being a little overdramatic? Don’t tell me you’re getting interested in acting.”

That comment managed to pull a small laugh out of Kei. The rest of their classmates were scattered about the field, doing the same as them. Cleaning. As unsavory as the task could be, at least being able to do it with company rather than by yourself was a lot more bearable. The exclamations of a nearby third year class could be heard—they were sharing the field with their P.E. class, though the teacher made a fine point of insisting his students focus on cleaning and not wasting time distracting their seniors from their tasks.

“I can’t tell if I’d rather be inside with my face in our textbook, or out here doing this.” Kei gave a small and disgruntled grown, shaking her head with a brief huff.

Miki could only offer an apologetic grin, before shaking her head. “This isn’t that bad.”

“We could be inside though, actually preparing for our third year.”

Fair point. They weren’t far off…the current senior students would be graduating in a few months, and second years like themselves would be taking their place. It was a daunting thought. Miki can’t quite place why she didn’t feel quite…ready, yet. Her grades were fine—they were impressive, really. Socially, Miki could use some work, but it wasn’t really something she was heavily concerned with. Kei was concerned enough for the both of them in that aspect. She always insisted that Miki needed to come out of her shell more, even if she understood better than to force Miki into the spotlight.

So, what actually frightened Miki about the aspect of taking on her final year here in the academy was beyond her reach of recognition.

“Miki, do you have plans after class? I know neither of our clubs are meeting today.”

“Hm?” Miki blinked, her train of thought falling back down to Earth by the pull of her friend’s voice. “Ah—I was going to help out in the library a little bit. Why?”

“Mm, okay. It’s nothing. I was actually planning on heading to town and seeing that store manager about his job opening. Remember the one?”

“At the music shop?”

“Yeah!”

“He got back to you about it?”

“I got a call yesterday to come in today if I was still interested in working part-time there.”

“That’s great, Kei. If you wanted me to tag along, I don’t mind changing my plans.”

“No, no, you’re okay. If you came along I was just going to ask if you wanted to drop by the bookstore on the way home anyway. I’ll just surprise you with something tomorrow,” Kei said with another small laugh.

“That laugh worries me. Don’t come to class tomorrow handing me something that shouldn’t be on school grounds in the first place.”

“You worry way too much. I’m just pulling your leg anyway. I promise I’ll try and find something you’d actually want.”

Kei tugged at a weed, pulling its roots from the ground before tossing it in the bag. Momentarily, the sound of a whistle once again cut through the warm air, drawing their attention just slightly to the track field nearby. One of the students had just finish her run, the instructor calling out her time with an impressed tone of voice and a compliment to follow. Expectedly, with a word of encouragement to the other classmates to pick up the pace. Miki looked curiously at the student catching her breath, hands on her knees and curiously long, twin-tailed hair hanging down from either side of her head.

“Isn’t she part of the track team? The captain, in fact. I think she got that position only a few months ago.”

“Hm?” Miki glanced back to Kei, who only sighed and shugged.

“It would suck to get yelled at by the teacher just because you can’t keep up with one of the best runners in school.”

Ah—that did seem a bit unfair, didn’t it? It was hard telling how the girl herself felt about the spotlight from where they were.

“Miki, you look like you’re wandering again.”

“E-eh? I do?”

Kei frowned a little bit and sighed. “You let the trash bag close again too. As cruel as I realize it is to stop you from staring at pretty, out-of-breath third year girls, I’m gonna need you to help me out a little bit here.”

That comment managed to get something out of Miki. A reddened streak across the face, along with the start of a surprised stammer in her retort.

“W-what?!”

Kei laughed. Now being out here was a little more bearable again.

***

Over at the track field, meanwhile, the rest of the students started their mile runs as the exhausted girl’s hand extended to the offered bottle of water, and took a seat next to her kind donator.

“Damn I wish she’d stop shoutin’ about me.”

“She thinks it’s impressive, is all.”

Kurumi Ebisuzawa could only offer a disgruntled kind of groan into the towel that she placed against her face. That noise only died down once she lowered it, and worked on getting the water open. Picking up the second water bottle near the girl next to her, she twisted it open before offering it to her.

“Ah—thank you.”

“Tch…I saw you strugglin’ with it while I was running.” Kurumi smirked over at her quieter friend. Yuki Takeya. The center point of a rumor or two here and there, but only because of her withdrawn behavior. Yuki wasn’t an entirely cut-off person, thankfully. She had a good handful of supportive and surprisingly reliable friends, even if together the group didn’t quite look that conventional. Kurumi was only one of them, but she was one of the closer ones, for certain. Rough as the track girl’s friendly affection could be, she was as protective as a bouncer at a private event.

Kurumi took a long swig of her water, setting it down with an abruptly loud sigh of satisfaction before finally letting her posture relax a little bit. “I’m kinda glad the track meeting t’day was cancelled now. I might’ve run a little too hard, there.”

“What are you going to do after school, then? You didn’t seem like you were itching to head straight home.”

“Ahh, I dunno.”

“Rii-san suggested the library.”

That comment just brought another disgruntled twist to Kurumi’s facial features as she looked off to the side.

“She’s out sick today but she still texted a lot about making sure you take the new free time to study.” Yuki giggled softly, pulling up the texts on her phone and handing it to Kurumi to look over. The runner stared at the harping messages for a moment before handing the phone back with a small grunt, but no coherent answer.

“You probably should, you know.”

Another grunt.

“That one bad grade is going to get the track team’s attention too, isn’t it?”

Now, that comment earned more than a grunt. More like, a frustrated groan and a rub of her own hands over Kurumi’s face.

“Yeah, yeah…I know. I gotta keep my grades up, for both track and graduatin’. Fuck though…English is hard. Why do I even need to know that crap? Are you sure y’ don’t need company on the way to your appointment, or anythin’?”

Yuki smiled a little bit, shaking her head. “No excuses, Kurumi. My appointment’s tomorrow, not today. Takae is taking me there anyway, so you can’t get out of this one. Sorry.”

“Ugh…fine. Fine, whatever. I’ll…drop by the library after school. See what I can do. Find some books ‘r something.”

“You should try asking about a tutor while you’re there. That might help you a lot more. Kurumi’s always struck as more active of a learner than just sitting down and reading.”

“Don’t push your luck, Takeya. I’m goin’ to the library, leave it at that.”

“How about I tag along? I don’t really have any plans…we can look for something together.”

Kurumi grimaced at Yuki, only to avert her eyes and groan quietly as she watched the other students run. It was way too hard to say no to a girl like Yuki Takeya, once you got to know her. Too damn kind for her own good, if you asked Kurumi. Too kind for Kurumi’s good too. After a few seconds of stubborn silence, Kurumi sounded an abrupt, frustrated noise of defeat (startling some of the other recovering classmates in the process) and leaned back against the bleachers behind her.

“You win, already. Ease back with Kindness Express there, Yuki.” Despite the defeated tone, Kurumi mustered a quiet chuckle and reached over to ruffle Yuki’s hair a little bit. It wasn’t often that the girl’s pink head of hair wasn’t covered by that hat. The only thing that stopped her, likely, were the rules during P.E., as well as the heat. “We’ll both go after school. I’ll need a little help tryin’ to look for decent study books anyway.”

The agreement seemed to brighten Yuki’s features a little bit. As infrequently as that happened, it was nice to see such a delighted smile on the smaller senior’s face. Any of Yuki’s friends would agree, really.

“Looks like they’re done out there…c’mon, shrimp, we gotta head back inside.”

That comment earned her a stubborn pout. “Don’t call me that!” Nonetheless, Kurumi laughed, and Yuki stood up from her seat and followed her friend, as well as the rest of the class, back into the comfort of the air-conditioned school gym. It might’ve been the last class of the day, but that only meant a quick shower and a trip to the library next, for the disgruntled track team captain.