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The Journey of a Thousand Miles

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Team GEMINI x The Polaris Project

Dedicated to Jokulhaup, thank you for being with us and sharing so many memories.

HiraYui - Railgun

Spoiler: The Underlying Guilt
The Underlying Guilt

The cherry blossoms fluttered to the ground gracefully as a soft breeze passed by with the scent of spring hot on its tail. My eyes were captivated by the beautiful sight before me, but somehow the smile on my face felt forced. I was happy in this current moment, but somewhere in the back of my mind a restless memory refused to silence itself. I tried to ignore it; I tried to drown it out, yet somehow the more I struggled to hide it the easier it was for the memory to resurface.

‘Would you mind if I stayed here with you?’

‘I have an exam to study for; I don’t have time to entertain you.’

‘I know, but I miss you.’

“Your teary-eyed, are your allergies picking up?” a gentle voice beside me asked with concern.

I turned to face my companion and felt the air leave my lungs. She looked breath taking in her well fitted knee length light blue dress lined with white lace. Her body looked so amazing I felt a little uncomfortable standing next to her, but the look in her eyes told me she had dressed up just to impress me. The goofy grin on my face must have told her everything I was thinking of.

I willed my heart to steady while in her presence and pushed back my thoughts to reply, “A bit.”

It was a little shorter than I expected, but she knew I could be a woman of few words when my mind was preoccupied.

“Your nose is red too; did you bring your medicine?”

I shook my head and wrapped my arms around the thoughtful person’s waist. “No, I didn’t. I thought I would be fine, but hugging you makes me feel better so this’ll have to do for now.”

“What am I going to do with you, silly girl?”

“I don’t know...”

Long, slender arms encircled my shoulders as the smell of lavender filled my senses.
“Do you want to go home and get it? We aren’t too far from the car yet.”

“Carim, it really is okay.” I told her; however, the truth was quite the opposite. “It’s an hour drive back to the apartment and we’re already here. I want to get a good spot; I’ve been dying to come here with you!”

I wanted to go back and get my allergy medicine; I had carelessly forgotten it at home. My sinuses were going haywire, dealing with all the pollen in this park was going to be difficult, but Carim really wanted to go.

“Well if you insist...” the blue eyed blonde replied hesitantly.

She led me by the hand to a clearing near a large cherry tree and laid out our picnic blanket. There were families and couples all over the field enjoying the day, it was a warming sight. The woman beside me was excitedly preparing everything for our lunch. This was Carim’s first cherry blossom viewing and she wanted to make it a memorable day so she went all out.

She stayed over last night and started preparing for our lunch at the crack of dawn. In the picnic basket before me waited freshly baked scones, hot green tea in a large thermos, my favourite BTL sandwiches, fruit salad, Rays sour cream and onion chips, and lastly two slices of strawberry short cake from the Midoriya Cafe.

I watched Carim with my best smile, but it was getting difficult to keep it up. My mind was riddled with trivial things that did not belong in my world anymore. I tried to force the thoughts out, but they managed to crawl back in when I stopped to relax a little.

‘Wow, I haven’t seen anything this beautiful since this morning!’

‘What could you have seen that could compare to the cherry blossoms?’

‘Try and guess! Try and guess!’

‘It wasn’t the neighbour’s cat licking itself right, because if it was I’d have to cool your head.’

‘No, no!’

‘Then what is it?’

‘It was your sleeping face after we made love.’

I buried my face into the palm of my hand and exhaled slowly trying to repress the heavy blush on my face.

Why did I have to remember something so embarrassing?

The person who said that was no longer here with me, I no longer loved her and she no longer loved me. We were nothing more than strangers nowadays, it’s rather sad actually; we had gone through so much together and now we’re barely on speaking terms. When I finally regained my composure Carim had already noticed my strange behavior. This is what I get for dating a psychology major.

“Sweetheart?”

Before she could say more, I leaned on her and giggled cutely trying to sway her concern, “Sorry, did I worry you?”

“A little,” she paused, “Be honest with me here, are you sure you don’t want to go back home for your medicine? It wouldn’t be a bother; I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

I still really don’t know, what should do?

“The food looks great; I can’t wait to dig in!” I chose to ignore Carim’s worried expression and reached for the green tea and cups. I poured Carim’s first then served myself, she had a way with tea and it tickled my fancy. “Mm, nothing tastes better than your tea, Care Bear!”

Doing that was probably a bad idea--no it was definitely a bad idea—but I didn’t know how to properly handle the situation without hurting her feelings even more than I already had.

“Thank you for the kind compliment,” Carim blushed shyly and sipped her warm beverage. The edges of her mouth twitched as she tried to repress her smile.
How could she be happy with something so small?

I took in the scenery around me for the umpteenth time and marveled in it. Last year I was watching them like this, but the person beside me is different. They shared some resemblance, but in the end Carim is still Carim. My beloved British exchange student who came out of nowhere and brought the smile back on my face when I felt I was at my lowest, she’s the one I deserve to be with forever.

“Cherry blossom viewing is always like this?” Carim had been speaking this whole time, but I only caught the end of it.

Play it cool, she hasn’t noticed anything yet.

“Yep and it’s a good thing we came early, it’s really starting to fill up here.”

“You mean it gets worse than this?”

“Much worse... last year I could barely find a spot.”

I looked at all the people having fun and found myself searching for someone in specific. It wasn’t intentional, I couldn’t help myself and my body responded unconsciously. Would she show up with someone new like I did, or would she even show up at all? Those sorts of thoughts came pouring through my mind when I stopped for a bite of my sandwich.

Carim looked at me with anticipation shimmering in her beautiful blue eyes as she watched me chew my food. Was she expecting me to say something? The sandwich was good, but it wasn’t spectacular—it was more ‘alright’ than ‘good’ really. It had a little too much mayonnaise in it for my liking, and the bread was a soggy from the lettuce and tomatoes. I couldn’t complain about the bacon much, she at least got that right... sort of.

“Well?”

Her gentle smile surprised me a little, but I quickly returned it to save face.
I felt guilty for feeling this way, my happiness with her felt like a constant lie.
“So how is it?”

“It’s great!” I quipped before taking a large gulp of tea to drown out the tangy taste of the mayonnaise.

Carim folded her hands on top of her chest and sighed in relief. “Thank goodness, I was so worried you wouldn’t like it. I didn’t know if you liked crusts on your bread or not, but I ended up cutting them off for appearance’s sake.”

“Mm, no, I’m not particularly fond of the crusts.” That was a lie, I love the crust. It’s the healthiest part of the loaf; if I could I’d skip the bread entirely and just eat the crust.

“Fufu, did Carim do a good thing then?” Carim asked me excitedly, I could practically see her tail wagging in delight.

“Yes, Carim did a very good thing!” I replied with just as much enthusiasm albeit forced and rather irritating to the nerves. “I should give the good puppy a reward for doing so well, but what I wonder what she would like? A dinner, a bath... or me?”

I patted her head like I would a dog she played along and nuzzled against my palm, she stuck her tongue out and winked at me. Carim was acting uncharacteristically girly today, I guess even the most sophisticated of women are still girls on the inside.

“A kiss?” was her humble request.

I nodded my head and leaned in closer to her and waited for my timid lover to bridge the gap between us. Carim’s eyes were half lidded and her lips slightly parted, still moist from licking her lips free from bread crumbs a second ago. Even though she was a little over half a decade older than me, Carim was still a novice at love. She wasn’t very interested in the dating scene and always chose her studies over a hot Friday evening date, but with me she chose to break all of her barriers.

The kiss was soft and sweet with a hint of mayonnaise and bacon, but it wasn’t unpleasant. I grew to love her kisses more than anything else. I could feel her love wash over me with every second we stayed connected; nothing could pull me away from her when we were like this.

My dear Carim was always sweet and always put in effort to converse with me in a way that held my attention. The only person in her eyes was me; she never looked at anyone else even if they had clothes she liked. And the only times she pulls her cell phone out was when she gets a phone call or if one of us forgets their watch at home. When we’re together I never have to fight for her input or beg for a reply that contained more than one syllable. Carim really is everything that person wasn’t.

We broke apart soon after and giggled at the awkward atmosphere looming about. People around us were starting to stare, but we couldn’t care less. What was wrong with two respectable young women being together? Nothing... though we were still probably a bit of a spectacle, this is a family area after all.

“Thank you for bringing me here,” Carim said as she looked up at the clear blue sky. I could tell she was genuinely happy, and I was glad to have been part of that little tidbit of joy.

“You drove us out here; I should be the one thanking you.”

“I’d drive a thousand miles for you.”

She had a tranquil expression on her stunning visage that nearly stole my breath away. From the way the edges of her lips curved upwards, to the way she stared up with half lidded eyes while her eye brows were both raised, and down to the way she mindlessly fiddles with the hem of her dress when she secretly wants something, everything about this woman I want to love.

I grabbed a clean bowl and scooped up some of the fruit salad. I had been dying to try it since it looked so refreshing and after the first bite I knew I was in heaven. Carim used an assortment of my favorite berries, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, peaches, and apples soaked in some orange juice. This was amazing! The lunch today was a bit of a hit and miss, but this salad made up for it.

“How do you like it?”

“Carim, it’s amazing. You’re amazing.” I plunged my fork into a slice of watermelon and offered it to her. “Say ‘ahh’...”

When did I become so domesticated? I never did the ‘say ahh’ thing before and now it feels second nature to me. As Carim took the fruit into her mouth I couldn’t help but wonder if things were a little more exciting with that person. I used to be so rambunctious, but look at me now I’m feeding my girlfriend fruit while acting all cute about it. I felt a little sick comparing the way I am now to the way I was. Carim has changed me so much in such a short amount of time, it’s a little frightening.

“I love you.”

“Thank you.”

My reply came to the both of us as a bit of a surprise, I hadn’t meant to say it like that... however, it still didn’t feel right to say those three words to her. I know it’s a little vague, but my feels are still a little jumbled and it’s almost like I’m lying to myself.

“Oh...” the look of confusion that crossed Carim face hurt me a little more than I thought it would.

“I’m sorry, I—“

She held her hand up and shook her head, “No, it’s alright. You don’t have you explain or apologize. I was in the wrong for springing that on you so suddenly.”

‘Hey, could you get off your phone and look at me?’

‘Sorry, I just wanted to check on my crops.’

‘Is your farming game more important than my feelings?’

‘No of course not, it’s just... you’re overreacting right now.’

‘Overreacting!? I just spent an hour begging for you to listen to me.’

‘And I was listening to you, but you kept repeating things. You already know how you feel and yet you still want to go on about it, just let it go or something...’

‘Of course I know how I feel, but I’d love it if my girlfriend understood how I felt, too.’

‘...’

‘What now?’

‘I’m listening.’

Carim blinked away her tears and decided to preoccupy herself with clean up duty. I sat there and reflected on my actions. She didn’t deserve the way I was treating her. The words she struggled to say was appropriate and I’m grateful for them, we’ve been together for awhile now and it was only natural for one of us to say ‘I love you’.

“Do you want some more green tea?” she asked me to break the stifling silence. I looked down at my cup and realized it was still full and declined the offer. “Alright, I’ll put the thermos away then. Tell me if you want some more though okay?”

My heart wrenched when I caught sight of her trembling hands. I had reduced my graceful Carim to a fumbling teenage girl afraid of getting her heart broken for the first time. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath to steady myself, but I had to mentally kick myself when I realized that person’s face came to mind. I would most likely be crying if I was still by her side, there’s no doubt about that. I should always be happy when I’m with Carim who loves me so, but...

I see her smile whenever I close my eyes, I can’t tell anyone but my heart is constantly thrown in confusion. I’m so happy with Carim and I want to forget about the person who shattered my very being, but I can’t seem to let go. I don’t know anything more, what I should I do? I can’t say it... I can’t say it...

‘Take a moment and breathe, listen to what I have to say.’

‘Whatever it is make it fast, looking at you is starting to make me sick.’

‘Okay I deserve that, but please listen. I know we fight a lot, we fight more than most couples do, but that’s something we can’t avoid. We’re both strong headed women who can never back down and can only ever advance. We’re always at odds and you’re more of a leader than I am, so when you come to me with your problems I can’t help but think ‘oh... what do I do?’ You have everything sorted out before I can do anything to help.’

‘That isn’t true...’

‘You came to me with some problems that you already solved, yet you still asked for my opinion. I answered you and that still didn’t seem enough, it feels like you want me to write you a sixty-page report.’

‘There’s nothing wrong with me asking for your opinion.’

‘Of course not and thank you for considering me, but once again there’s nothing I can do to help you. I’m down here and you’re all the way up there... I can’t reach you no matter how hard I try.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘You want something from me that I can’t give you. I’m fighting so hard to meet your expectations, but each time I hit the goal, you raise it just a little higher.’

‘My expectations for you are to be there for me like you used to.’

‘We’ve gotten older; I can’t be for you like that anymore. We both have our own lives, our own problems, our own responsibilities, and for you to expect so much from me and for you to give so little in return, it isn’t fair.’

‘...’

‘Are you starting to understand?’

‘A little...’

‘I want to keep fighting for us. I don’t want to give up.’

‘I don’t either.’

I love you.’

Carim was almost done cleaning up and was about to put the last of the food back into the picnic basket when she asked me, “Do you want to do anything after this? I booked the day off to spend it with you, so we shouldn’t have any interruptions.”

“Huh?” I blinked rapidly to erase the images in my head. “Sorry what was that?”

“I asked if you wanted to do anything after this.”

“Oh,” looking down at my watch I realized we had been here for nearly three hours. Time really flew when I was with this woman.

“Well?” she seemed to be getting a little impatient with me.

“I wouldn’t mind curling up on the couch and watch a movie with you.” It was an honest suggestion, I liked cuddling with Carim. I felt safe, I felt loved.

“My place or yours?”

“Will your roommate be home?”

The blonde shrugged and said, “I have no idea, she’s always home when we don’t want her there though. So I think it’s best if we stay at yours.”

“Sounds good.”

A yawn escaped my lips; I didn’t even realize I was tired. The vibes surrounding this park were revitalizing and refreshing. I felt calmer even though my heart was in chaos.

“Do you want to take a nap? You were up pretty late last night.” Carim smoothed out her dress cheeks flushed with a light crimson at her double-entendre and motioned for me to lie down. I eagerly took the offer and rested my head on her lap. She hovered over me with a quaint smile, her hair tickling my nose on accident.

“This is definitely one of the many perks of being in a relationship with another woman.”

“Really?”

I nodded my head and smiled, “Well you can’t really do this with a guy, and he’ll end up a blushing mess and pop a boner or something.”

“A what now?”

“Y’know when it stands up.”

Carim blinked in confusion, “I’m not really following you...”

“Forget it,” I said giving up on explaining simple biology to her.

The blonde was very conservative and didn’t know much about anything that didn’t involve her or her specific line of studies. For a gorgeous woman like Carim you’d expect so much more, but she hadn’t even been kissed until we met and that still frazzled her when the mood wasn’t right. Sex wasn’t an option with us and it was hard fighting my urges since my last relationship moved at a blinding rate compared to the snail’s pace with Carim. I didn’t mind it too much, I enjoyed the stress free commitment, but this really wasn’t what I imagined being with an older woman would be like.

I knew from the very start that she was still a virgin and wanted to wait till she got married or found someone she really loved. She dropped hints here and there that the thoughts have been crossing her mind, but neither of us had the courage to initiate anything. Carim didn’t know what to do and I was just too scared to bring it up. We’ve been at an impasse for months because of our cowardice.

“You’re adorable you know?”

“So I’ve been told...”

“Really now? Have you heard anything about me perhaps?”

I reached out and gingerly touched her cheek with my fingertips; a rosy hue tinted her cheeks in a matter of seconds.

“Rumor has it that you’re gorgeous.”

“I lo—“ she forced herself to stop. “I, um... sleep well; I’ll wake you up in an hour or so.”

“Thank you...?”

Guess that killed the mood.

Her hand brushed my hair lovingly as she leaned down and kissed my forehead, her lips lingering for what felt like an eternity. My face felt hot and I was a little uncomfortable, but Carim’s lap worked its magic and I fell asleep within a matter of minutes. The feel of her slender fingers weave through my hair was therapeutic.
My dream took me to a very familiar park lined with blossoming cherry trees. Soft voices began filling my head with a promise that had faded long ago. I fell to my knees and covered my ears, I screamed out in my loudest voice to drown out the voices, but they seemed to only get louder and louder.

I had seen the cherry blossoms with that person for so many years in a row, and this was my first time going without her. I should be fine now; the past didn’t have a hold on me anymore. But whenever I see the cherry blossoms flutter and fall I can’t help but think of her. Was it a mistake to bring Carim here with me? Was she not enough to make me forget this infuriating love? Was it still too soon for me to move on?

‘Let’s make a promise to always see the cherry blossoms bloom together.’

‘Eh? There’s no way we can do that!’

‘Why not? We manage to see each other during every Christmas, what makes flower season any different?’

‘This and that are totally different.’

‘I don’t see anything wrong with it...’

‘Fine, if it’ll get you to stop bugging me: I promise from this day forward to always see the cherry blossoms bloom with you.’

I haven’t told anyone, but I’m constantly shouting on the inside. I don’t love her anymore, I can’t love her anymore. There’s nothing between us now but problematic promises and a handful of painful memories. But repeating these words don’t seem strong enough to stop my feelings.

Carim, what should I do? I want to love you so much...

This problem had been answered a long time ago; however, I don’t think I’m brave enough to face it just yet.

I don’t love her anymore, I don’t love her anymore.

‘You know you do this thing with your hair when you’re solving math problem.’

‘What do I do?’

‘First you grab your longest lock and you start moving it around like an extra pencil, and when you feel the answer is wrong you start waving it around like you’re trying to erase it, but on the actual work sheet you leave it as is.’

‘Do I really?’

‘Yeah, I have it on video! Whenever you’re too busy studying I end up watching it.’

‘Is that what you do on your cell phone, Nanoha?’

‘Yep, I watch my secret ninja videos of you!’

I opened my eyes, tears brimming over as I smiled at Carim who was surprised to see me awake. She quickly pulled out her handkerchief and dabbed away the tears.

“What’s wrong?”

Slowly I reached out to her and cupped her face with both hands, playing along Carim puffed out her cheeks to fill in the gaps.

“The truth is: I love you.”

It was a lie for now and my heart belonged to another, but someday this woman holding me will be the one I’ve been waiting for.

Spoiler: The Price of Cowardice
The Price of Cowardice



I stared blankly at the empty message screen on my phone, my fingers brushing over the number pad without clear direction. There was so much I wanted to say to someone, but the words wouldn’t come to me, they downright refused to. Each time I tried to send her a message I’d lose confidence in my words and stop to erase whatever I had written only to try again from scratch, this new message never got sent either.

A heavy sigh escaped my lips when I gave up and shut the phone. There was no use in trying to force out your feelings. I sprawled over my desk with the device dangling over the edge in my hand.

“Well this is a surprise,” a snarky voice behind quipped. “The happy idiot is pouting.”
Trouble came in many forms, but its current embodiment was a pretty college student who had too much time on her hands.

“What not going to say hi to an old friend?” I lifted my free hand and waved unenthusiastically. “Put a little effort in a greeting will you, people might start thinking poorly of you.”

“And what does that have to do with you?”

“Everything? Nothing?”

“Leave me alone...” The tone of my voice had surprised me a little, I didn’t mean to sound so harsh.

Footsteps circled around my desk like a curious shark to a diving cage. I wanted nothing to do with this girl at the moment, why couldn’t she get the hint we weren’t friends anymore? We might have been childhood friends and sure we went through a lot together, but once a friendship goes sour it’s nearly impossible to bring it back. It’s even worse if that former friend was your crush’s former love and your roommate’s current lover. Such a twisted web this girl has spun...

“Love troubles?”

“Not any of your concern.”

“I’m trying to play nice here; this is as awkward for me as it is to you.”
I looked up at the girl with an irked expression on my face; it wasn’t any surprise to me that her face was just as annoyed as mine. She was doing her best to get along with me, the faint trace of a blush on her cheeks told me that much.

“Did you anything fun recently?” I finally managed to ask.

She looked down at me with a quirked eyebrow before replying courtly, “I saw the cherry blossoms yesterday.”

“How was it?”

“My allergies nearly killed me,” she chuckled dryly.

“Forgot your medicine again?” I sat up straight and rubbed the back of my arm, I wasn’t very good at these stiff conversations.

Nodding, the young woman sat down in the chair beside mine. “I do this every year and yet I keep forgetting my meds, I think I’m starting to get old.”

“Did you go by yourself or with—“

“Carim of course,” she cut in before I could finish my question. She seemed a little too eager to say her girlfriend’s name, it almost sounded like a product placement in a movie. “She made us lunch, it was okay.”

“Okay?”

“The sandwiches she made were kinda gross,” Fiddling with a forelock my former friend smirked devilishly, “But the meal I had after was much better.”

“You deflowered our instructor, whatever shall I do? I cannot go on living after hearing this.” I said in a droll voice. Hearing about her conquests stopped hurting a lot time ago, it annoyed me more than hurt really. “As long as you guys didn’t do it on my bed, I don’t care.”

“The things I say don’t always mean sex you know?”

“You mean you didn’t?” I raised an eyebrow slightly intrigued, if I didn’t know her any better this would have been a first. The horny bitch from hell quietly passing up on sex, the world would freeze over before that happened.

“We were at my place don’t worry,” She looked away with a slack grin telling me I had caught her. “Carim’s still a little freaked out though.”

“I can imagine...”

Images of her touching me all over still haunted my dreams and thoughts, I had stopped caring about the woman beside me a long time ago but there are some things you just can’t forget. My cheeks warmed while I was under her scrutinizing gaze.

“Well now this is a little unsettling,” a sultry voice cooed from the front of the class. Our instructor walked into the class with a large stack of papers pressed against her chest.

My former friend quickly got up and rushed to the foreigner’s side offering her help. I got a little jealous watching them get close, a part of me wished to be in Carim’s place just so I could see how it felt to be treated nicely by her. No that isn’t right, she was always nice to me I just chose to ignore it for my own selfish purpose.
The lab was finally underway but my partner, Nakajima Ginga, and I didn’t pay much attention. Carim had given us a briefing of the material for today when we went for crepes the day before. We were playing a discrete game of hangman instead of taking notes.

“This is too hard,” Ginga grumbled under her breath. I snickered at her inability to guess the answer.

I snatched the pencil out of her hand and started drawing features on the stick doodle. The look on Ginga’s face was priceless, I thought she was going to burst out into laughter when she realized who it was but she managed to keep herself in check.
“You’re horrible,” she sneered.

“It looks just like her doesn’t it?” I chuckled.

“Ladies, would you mind showing me what you’re giggling about over there?” Carim’s voice startled us; it was rare for her to raise her voice even when she was mad.
I looked at Ginga and grinned sheepishly, “Uhh... best not to, Ma’am.”

“And why is that?”

“I-It’s...ahem,” I cleared my throat, “Inappropriate.”

Carim’s mischievous smile told me I’d still have to show her later at home, not that I had a problem with it; the blonde was surprisingly laid back and took any jokes about her girlfriend in stride. A soft prodding on my rib cage made me jump in my seat disrupting the class; luckily Carim didn’t care too much this time around and let me be.

“What is it?” I snarled at the mauve haired girl beside me.

She smiled innocently and asked, “Do you mind waiting for me after class? I need to tell you something.”

“Can you tell me now?”

“No, it has to be in private.”

I scratched my cheek nervously and wondered what Ginga wanted, but knowing her it was going to be outlandish or taxing. Either way I didn’t have much of a choice.
Class ended without any thing of interest occurring and as promised I waited for Ginga. She was up front talking to Carim about a couple questions she had. My eyes started feeling a little heavy, maybe the warm weather was finally getting to me?

“Wake up, sleep head!”

“Mm...”

“Ah, she lives!” Ginga giggled. “Sorry for making you wait so long.”

I got out of my desk and stretched my limbs, I had been sitting in an awkward position for the last hour or so it felt good to stand up.

“What did you need to tell me?”

Ginga’s face lit up in a bright blush when I asked my question, she bit her bottom lip and fiddled with the hem of her skirt not saying a word. I cocked my head to the left and asked her again, but she jumped in her boots and looked away shyly.

“If you aren’t going to say it, I’m going home. Carim and I have a raid tonight and I have a feeling my tier token is going to drop.” I bid her farewell and turned around to leave only to get jerked back by a trembling hand.

“I-I’m sorry this is so sudden, but I’ve liked you for a very long time now!”

“Awha?” I stared at my best friend with wide, terrified eyes.

She took my hands into hers and took in a deep breath. “My heart’s beating so fast, can you hear it?”

“I-I... ahh...”

“Every time I see you I can’t seem to think straight, I’m bursting with joy whenever you come to mind and I-I want to get to know you better...”

Ginga looked about ready to cry, what do I do in situations like this? Do I agree or do I say no to preserve our friendship? My mind was racing with various thoughts and scenarios. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be with Ginga, she was sweet and funny, I love her style and she’s incredibly beautiful, but my feelings for her were always that of friendship and nothing more, plus I already had someone I liked.
“Just kidding!” she beamed. I fell to my knees and let go of the breath I had been holding in. “You thought it was real didn’t you? Well to bad, this was only a confession rehearsal! The real thing is tomorrow.”

I pulled my hands out of her hold and tugged on my hair in gnarled frustration. I can’t believe I got played like that!

“Was it cute? Were you shocked—hey, stop looking at me like that! Your face is all weird, it’s creeping me out.”

“Ginga,” I growled menacingly, “Don’t mess around like that, I thought I was going to have a heart attack!”

“But you’re the only one who’ll play along with me so earnestly!” she said with an adorable pout.

“I thought you were being serious,” I smacked her upside the head lightly and huffed. “And here I thought I was finally going to get a pretty girlfriend.”
“You think I’m pretty?”

“Yes,” I mumbled while grabbing my book bag. “Anyways, if that’s everything you wanted to say, want to go for some food? I really don’t want to see what Carim has in store for me right now after we disrupted her class so many times.”

“I wouldn’t mind stopping by the ramen place,” she suggested.

“Ramen here we come then!”

“Hey before we go,” she tugged on my sleeve and bit her bottom lip, “You’ll support me right?”

I nodded my head, “Of course, that’s what best friends are for. And regardless whether or not you get rejected I’ll be here with the ice-cream!”

“Really?”

“Yeah, so buck up and let’s go.”

-0-

Later that night I was sitting in the living room with Carim going over a couple of notes for the next lab when my cell phone went off. I knew by the ring tone it was Ginga calling, Carim said it was okay to call it a night so I bolted to my room and answered.

“Hey.”

“So tell me honestly was my confession too over the top, should I tone it down?”
“Um...”

“Or should I just say something completely different?” Ginga kept going for another five minutes before stopping to talk to me. “Well?”

“I have no idea what you just said,” I sighed. “All I heard was something about wearing a pomegranate color—you just described a color as ‘pomegranate’, girl it’s fucking pink!”

“What should I do then?” she asked in frustration. “I’m going to tell the person I like tomorrow, but I feel so unprepared.”

“You can never be prepared for these things.”

“Is that what happened between you and you-know-who?”

The woman Carim was currently seeing was my first love, we were never together though. She had been my best friend until I met Ginga, my former love used to be so nice but ever since her childhood sweet heart broke up with her she changed. She had trouble trusting people after that and when I introduced Carim to her I thought things would go back to normal I was wrong. She got meaner, snarkier and liked to play around with the poor woman’s heart.

“Yes and no, when I confessed to her she was already seeing someone. Maybe if I hadn’t waited so long things would be different.”

“Hey you’ll support me right?”

“Of course.”

“Then do you think we could practice again tomorrow? I know it’s a selfish of me to ask you something like this, but you really are the only one I can turn to.”
“You can count on me then,” I replied without thinking. “But you have to be serious okay? A lying heart can be seen right through, so if you hesitate for even a moment I won’t hold back and reject you pronto!”

“That’s horrible!” she exclaimed. “You’re supposed to be all lovey-lovey with me when I do this.”

“Eh, why?”

“Because I’ll probably be rejected,” Ginga sighed heavily before continuing. “So could you just pretend that you like me back?”

“But I do like you.”

“I mean it. You have to pretend to be in love with me secretly!”

I rolled around on my bed and chuckled, “Alright fine I’ll pretend to be in love with you.”

“I bought a lot of good luck charms on my way home today.”

“But you hate fortune telling, is this guy that important?”

“Who said it was a guy, it could be a girl you?”

“Is it a girl?”

“Maybe.”

“Tell me!”

“I’ll tell you tomorrow, but for now I should hang up and practise what I’m going to say.”

“Mkay.”

“Oh hey before I hang up can I ask you for a favour?”

I pulled my pillow close to me and yawned, today had been rather taxing. “Sure, what do you need?”

“Could we practice again?”

“That’s fine,” I answered. “Just text me when and where okay?”

“Thanks a bunch! Have a good night, Fate.”

“Night, Ginga.”

Ginga made me realize a lot of things tonight, she made me understand that confessing to someone was more than just saying ‘I like you, please go out with me’ in a serious tone. It was about trying to convey your honest feelings.

I looked at my cell phone’s scrap box and scrolled through all the unsent and incomplete messages I failed to send and contemplated what was holding me back. I had liked this person for a very long time, but she never gave me any signals that the feelings might have been mutual. I want to tell her so badly; I want to tell her how my thoughts always trailed over whenever we talked.

“Another day...”


-0-

There wasn’t a lab scheduled for today so I wouldn’t be seeing Ginga at all till lunch. We agreed to meet at the library and go from there. She decided that she’d rethink her confession and come up with something more amazing. It was 1:32pm right now and Ginga was late.

“Where is she?” I grumbled. I looked at my watch for the thousandth time this hour and shook my head in disappointment.

“This is rare, I thought you never studied.”

My heart leaped up to my throat when I heard my crush’s voice, “I’m waiting for a friend.”

“Ginga?” I nodded my head. “I saw her with Hayate a while ago, haven’t seen her since.”
“What’s she doing with Hayate?”

“I have no idea...”

The silence between us was stifling. This was the longest we had been around each other without interruptions and I was blowing it. The girl of my dreams was right in front of me smiling as if she was waiting for something to happen. Ginga’s words drifted to mind when my crush said it was about time she left for her next class.
I reached out to her and held her hand firmly; my action surprised the both of us, but she didn’t put up any resistance as if she was waiting for me to say something else.
“Whatever happened to the person you left Hayate for?”

“Nothing happened... I thought she liked me back, but I guess I was wrong.”

So she’s been single this whole time? I could have had her this whole time...

“A-Are you seeing anyone at the moment by chance then?” My voice trembled ever so lightly when I asked.

“No, why?”

“Because I’ve liked you all this time and I don’t know when I’ll get another chance like this,” I shut my eyes and took a deep calming breath. This was it no more hesitation, just take the plunge and go. “Even though I’m trembling and I can’t stop thinking about how badly I want to run away right now, I still want you to hear what I have to say.”

“...?”

“I love you. I love you more than anything in this world; I want to be with you during the sad and happy times. My thoughts are all about you and I can’t seem to stop falling in love with you,” I managed to blurt out. “Please don’t make me say anymore than this...”

“You’re being serious right?”

“Of course...”

She pulled her hands free and folded them behind her back. Looking around to see if anyone else was around, she turned back to me and smiled brightly her voice bursting with confidence, “Nyahaha, guess what? I feel the same.”

Ginga never showed up that night, she didn’t respond to any of my messages or answered my calls. I was worried about her, however, the day after made sense. She sat down beside me and apologized for bailing last minute, but she had seen something she wished she hadn’t and left it as is. Her answer wasn’t enough to sate my curiosity though, so I asked if she confessed to the person she liked and her answer was a simple ‘no, they have someone else’. Ginga didn’t want to talk about it anymore and avoided any question that breached upon the topic.

She blames herself for losing her chance, but when it comes to love hesitation translates into cowardice. I had taken the plunge and came out victorious and I know if Ginga had done the same she would have, too.

Spoiler: The Journey of a Thousand Miles

The Journey of a Thousand Miles


I have long lost track of the time I spent with the person I love, every day was a dream come true as long as I was with her. Whether we were fighting or cuddling, everything became a precious memory. We’re old now and the time to say good bye was nearing.

“How are you feeling?” she asked me with a worried expression. I held onto her for support when we walked down the corridor to our bedroom. This hallway seemed like it dragged on for miles, I could barely see the end of it.

“A little tired,” I replied with a weak smile.

She held onto me tightly and kept a slow pace to match mine, I could feel her hands trembling from my weight. I wished I could walk on my own but my legs felt like they were about to give way at any moment now.

“I wish I could carry you like before,” she chuckled.

“You could only carry me for a couple of steps before dropping me,” I teased.

We arrived at our bedroom and she helped me get comfortable. She pulled the blanket over and tucked me in nicely; she placed one kiss on my forehead and another on my lips. My lover walked over to the chair near my dresser and brought it back, she had difficulty carrying it but managed to anyway. She sat down and took my hand in hers caressing it with her thumb.

“I don’t think I can love anyone more than I love you, nyahaha.”

She looked up at me with tears brimming in her weary eyes, “I don’t think I can either.”

“We went around in circles, huh?” I gave her hand a gentle squeeze. I blinked away the tears and took in a deep breath this wasn’t the time for tears.

“I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

“I wouldn’t either.”

We both laughed at how silly we were being. Going on about such trivial things at a time like this was typical us.

“Do you still remember the first time we met?” I asked, “You were clinging to your mother crying because you didn’t want to go without her.”

“Yeah, I had just transferred and didn’t know anyone.”

“I walked up to you and offered you my hand,” raising our hands to my face, I placed a kiss on her palm. “You took it without thinking and followed me.”

We were old now. Memories were fading and it was hard keeping track of what happened and what didn’t, but when it came to us everything was still crystal clear.

“I love it when we spend time together like this...”

“I do, too.” She played with my finger tips deep in thought.

During our silence I thought about many things, but mainly about my first love. It was a story the people involved never spoke about. I had caused so much pain for everyone and it took years for it to be forgiven.

“There was a time I thought I couldn’t love anyone anymore.”

“Hm?”

“But one day you came knocking and forced open the door open without realizing it.”

I was referring to the day I had gotten into a big fight with my lover at the time and packed my bags. I left the apartment we shared with only the necessities and the clothes on my back. I had been wandering about in the rain for hours when I bumped into my soul mate and her roommate waiting for the bus.

“You took me in from the rain and listened to my story without judging even though we weren’t exactly friends anymore at the time.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you remember the big fight Hayate and I had that got so bad I up and left?”

My partner looked up in thought trying to dig up any trace of what I said. “I think so; didn’t she come knocking on my door asking where you were at a ridiculous hour?”
“Yeah, that was when you introduced Carim to her.”

“I remember it now; we started spending a lot more time together after that.”

A sudden cough wracked my body; the taste of copper flecks in the back of my throat startled me. “I think that was when I started falling for you.”

“Really?”

“Mm,” I nodded my head wistfully, “Look at us now, we’re old and wrinkled.”

“I don’t mind the wrinkles; I take them as a memento of our times together. Each wrinkle tells a story of ours and every time they increase I know I’ll meet a happier you the day after.”

She held onto my hand and kissed my fingers one by one, the tears were getting difficult to hold back. I don’t think I’m ready for good bye. Not yet, not now...
I thought back to all the times she and I laid around cuddling doing nothing of importance, how much time did we spend like that I wonder? If we added all the hours, minutes and seconds how many years would it equal to?

“Do you remember our promise?” she asked suddenly.

I looked at her and shook my head, “We’ve made a lot of promises, it’s hard to keep track of them all.”

“This one was the big important one though,” she said with a pout. “Try and remember!”
My eyes were feeling heavier now, but I still wasn’t ready. There was so much I wanted to talk to her about still. This can’t be it.

“Was it our promise to get married?” She shook her head. “There was something bigger?”

“Of course there was. We promised that when one of us passes away it’ll be with a smile.”

“Fate,” I breathed out in a panic. “No, it isn’t that time yet. We’ve still got many more days and years ahead of us.”

“I know, but I just wanted to ask if you remembered.” The tears on her face told me that she was preparing herself for the worst.

“Hey do you remember the day when I asked you to marry me?”

“Of course how could I forget,” Fate’s crystalline laughter filled our humble room. “We were at WacDonalds and you were complaining about how Hayate and Carim didn’t tell us they eloped to Canada.”

“And in a jealous fit I grabbed your hand and put an onion ring over your ring finger.”

“How could I forget? It was still really hot.”

“I said sorry a million times already,” I let out a weak laugh. “We finished our food and headed down to the nearest accessory shop and bought matching rings.”

“When you put my new ring on you laughed and said the onion ring suited me better.”

“The onion ring suited so you well,” I said mimicking my voice from back then. “It matched your hair.”

“Don’t pin the blame me for that, you’re the one who ate it after putting it on me.”
It was getting late and the last of the sun’s rays were filtering into our bedroom dying our off-white walls a warm orangey hue. It was then that I accepted today would be the last. I knew from the beginning that something like ‘forever’ in all honesty was impossible, but there’s no way we can leave each other after all this time right? There had to be something more.

“Hey, let’s take an oath one more time...”

“Hm?”

“Pro-Promise... me that we’ll m-meet again... soon.”

“Un...”

“And that we’ll get to spend more lazy days together.”

“Un, I promise.”

I took in the beautiful sight before and locked it away in my heart. My beautiful Fate, old and wrinkled, beside me holding my weak hand scared and trembling. She was crying like a child with tears streaming down her face and her nose running on both sides, but the most dazzling smile I had ever seen shined through.

She was keeping our promise.

“Fa-Fate,” I said managed to say through my choked sobs. “I love you.”

Please don’t let this be goodbye, tell me this is all a dream and that I’ll wake up a couple hours later in Fate’s warm embrace.

“I-I love you, too.”

No, please... just a little bit more time. I don’t want to say goodbye!

“Wake me up soon okay? I’m going to take a little nap.”

“U-Un... I promise.”

I took one last breath and smiled at her with every ounce of strength I had left.

“I’m... so happy that I got to met you...” I said as I closed my eyes.

The End For Now
「僕は幸せだ。」

My world turned dark and I could breathe again. Before me was a bright light that beaconed for me to come forward. I took a tentative step and felt my weight leave me. I continued to move forward and soon the darkness began to fade, but before I took that final step I stopped and turned around. Through the still silence I heard something, my name being called out along with the promise of tomorrow.

“Nanoha, we’ll meet again!”

I couldn’t hold back the smile on my face as I shouted into the abyss, “Un, we’ll meet again, Fate!”

Spoiler: Author's Notes

HiraYui: And there you have it folks, happy Valentine’s day! It’s been a while since we did any holiday related releases, so hopefully this will make up for it. This story was written based on three songs, who ever can figure out all three songs gets a cookie.

Anyways, about the story itself we tried to do something a little different. It might’ve been a little difficult trying to figure out who was who, but anyone familiar with our past works knows we have our set pairings. Though for simplicity’s sake we’ll explain the relationship chart.

Railgun: The first part of the story is all about how Hayate is still struggling to forget her first love. Carim is trying her best to make Hayate happy, but our lovable boss-lady is making it difficult. By the end she comes to terms with her real feelings, but she doesn’t want to lose Carim so a little lie was told.
The second part of the story is about Fate and Ginga. This portion mainly shows the distance between Hayate and Fate and how the brunette is trying to bridge the gap once more for Carim’s sake. Ginga on the other hand is conflicted about her feelings. She uses the excuse of a confession rehearsal to try and figure out Fate’s feelings for her. Now the title of the story directly talks about her hesitation. If she had only kept going instead of playing it like a joke, she could have had Fate who was alright with the idea of dating her. Nanoha also indirectly tells Fate that the girl she left Hayate for was her.

Lastly the third part of the story wraps up the odd love-shape-thing. This is written in Nanoha’s point of view and focuses on her love for Fate and how guilty she feels about the things that happened between her and Hayate. It is hinted that they never managed to become friends again. Also, since they are still in Japan the promise of their marriage never got fulfilled hence why Nanoha thought of that before the promise of a smile when one of them dies.

HiraYui: That pretty much sums it up. Now in true Team GEMINI spirit this was done in a matter of hours with both Railgun and I surviving off of very, very little sleep. It isn’t much of an excuse, but we apologize for the buttload of errors. We really wanted this out by Valentine’s day, so it should suffice.


Thank you for reading!

Railgun's picture
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Yuki and I worked all night on it, but we finally finished it! Enjoy guys.

Crazyla's picture
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Posts: 434

You know, I'm always scared to read when you guys publish something, because you've made so many sad/angsty stories....

Railgun's picture
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It's cause we're brooding emo Japanese girls. The ratio to happy: sad stories are about 2:1... we just forget to update. Haha