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21 January 2013 @ 11:16 pm
[One-shot] Running into sunsets is not just a Gokusen thing  
Title: Running into sunsets is not just a Gokusen thing
Pairing: Kyomoto Taiga/Mitsumune Kaoru, side Anderson Casey/Fujii Shuuka 
Genre: Romance, general
Rating: PG
Summary: High school AU! Ever since Casey dragged him along to join the track and field team in their first year of high school, Taiga has been watching this one senior. The one with the long legs who ran like nobody else. The final summer before she leaves, he finally found enough guts to try to win her over.
Notes: I have a lot of feelings for this pairing.

Summer. 2nd year of high school for Taiga.

It's when guys ditched their cardigans and girls had translucent shirts half the time. Windows were opened wide for lessons, letting in the lazy drone of the crickets that sent anyone who heard them into a lethargic slumber (apart from the teachers. Taiga reckoned their ears couldn't pick up the frequency). 

Math on Thursdays had become somewhat of his favourite class that semester - not that he was brilliant at it. It definitely wouldn't have been if not for his window seat and a god-sent schedule for his classes. 

Wide open windows. It didn't quite face the track and field at the right angle but it was enough. A 3rd year class was having PE and he could easily spot the short head of brown hair amidst the other ponytails and buns in the group of girls running. 

She could outrun them on those long, slim legs of hers if she wanted to, he mused, and watched the group disappear from his field of vision. He turned his attention back to his teacher, quickly taking down new notes from the board before the group rounded the corner of the track and back to where he could see them.

She never would wear shorts during practice. Which was why, to his 17-year-old mind and the youthful surge of hormones in his veins, this math period was holy. Casey (seated next to him, already fast asleep on the desk and drooling onto his textbook) had called him creepy once, to which Taiga simply pulled up the AV folder on Casey's laptop as a response. 

"Kyomoto-kun?"

He turned around to face the rounded belly of his math teacher.

"...uh, 4?"

Casey, suddenly awake, made a face at him from behind sensei.



Mitsumune Kaoru's story was a bit of a legend within the sports clubs in school. Apparently she moved here from Osaka in the middle of her first year, and on the first practice session of the track team after she entered, she had tied up her then long hair with a red scrunchie and beaten half of the 3rd year students in one afternoon. Naturally that made her team captain this year. Sometimes, Taiga wished he was born a year earlier just so he could have witnessed that. 

Casey had talked him into joining the track team together, simply because a girl he laid his eyes on during matriculation had joined. It took some convincing in the form of a semester's worth of English homework, but he went along with it. 

He had honestly thought that she was a he at first glance if not for her voice. Butch, he had snickered to Casey, to which he was met with a bewildered "Are you serious?!" look and /then/ he saw her run and he had no words left. 

Thank god for best friends and stupid ideas.



School ended on a boring note, no practice, no detention today either since he had finished his two weeks after a bad prank by Juri that he was signed on for against his will. Apparently filling the entire corridor outside the teachers' office with paper cups of water was deemed too disruptive. He got off easy. Juri had a month and was still stuck in the teachers' office probably brewing coffee for the principal.

He slung his bag over his shoulder and stretched under the afternoon sun as he headed for the gates with Jesse and Casey in front of him discussing English assignments. 

"Oi, Kyomoto-kun! Gaijin-kun!" 

He turned to his left, spotting her usual gang a distance away and her waving frantically in his direction. The rest of her group of guy and girl friends stood around and naturally he felt inadequate standing in his skinny 173cm frame compared to the rest of the tall, built guys that she hung out with. Except for nerdy Inoo-senpai. He was okay.

"We'll be discussing for the upcoming marathon tomorrow, don't be late!"

He nodded quickly and she grinned back at them.

"See you!"

His eyes followed her as the group left. If he could, he'd make her attend practice in her usual uniform - short checkered skirt, shirt with sleeves rolled up to her elbows and headphones on her shoulders - but it was far beyond practical and on the brink of being creepy so he buried the thought. He allowed himself to wish to be able to see her in a skirt all the time though. That was okay.

"When she says 'Gaijin-kun'," Jesse turned to Casey and asked. "is that me or is that you?"

"Are you in the track team?"

"No."

"Go figure."



"It sounds fair," Casey shrugged. 

"It's stupid," Taiga frowned. "I don't even... like her that much."

Jesse swallowed his mouthful of burger and pointed right at his nose. "You made me swap seats with you for Math."

"...I like fresh air."

Coordinated snorts. Taiga sighed.

"Look no one can beat her. What makes you think I have a chance?"

"You don't!"

"Thanks, Case."

"But but--" Casey reached over and grabbed Taiga's arm. "It's not really about winning her you just have to leave a good enough impression. How else do you expect to catch a senpai's attention?"

"...This is not shoujo manga."

Jesse sighed dramatically. "It's not. It's life, and it's harsh. And she's leaving in another half a year, you don't have a lot of time."

"...She probably has a boyfriend."

"Last I checked with Inoo-senpai, she doesn't."

Taiga frowned across the table at Casey.

"How do you even know Inoo-senpai?"

"I'm tutoring him English. He needs it to get into Meiji."

"..."



Friday passed in a blur, mostly because he was preparing himself mentally for the humiliation that was bound to happen later that day, and even during practice he ran an extra lap during warm ups because he was so distracted (though Kaoru did commend him for going the extra mile).

The team was training for the regional marathon and she took the job of captain seriously, taking her time to pace as many people as she could during the training session. He pumped himself harder that day - put himself a short distance in front of the others just to stand out, and there was a spark of satisfaction when she had to jog up a couple of steps to catch up with him to pace him along too.

"H-Hey, don't push yourself too hard now," she said in between breaths. "Pacing... is the key for marathons. Endurance." 

"I'm doing fine."

She laughed soundlessly and kept up.

"I know. You've always been a good runner."



"Alright, so," she stood in front of the team seated on the track after the session was over. "It's in two weeks. We did okay today, but we can do better. Everyone can do their own practice in their on time in addition to what we covered today. Have a good weekend!" 

While the rest of the team retreated, she continued to flip through her clipboard of event dates and things, headed for the notice board a distance away to sign out for using the track. 

Casey kicked Taiga squarely on his butt to get a move on. He scowled back, and much to his embarrassment, some of his team mates stared quizzically as he remained, still and awkward, on the track. Eventually people left, and she turned around to notice him.

"Kyomoto-kun?"

"A-Ah right, um," he scratched the back of his head. "T-Thanks for your advice today. I'll keep it in mind."

"Yeah?" she grinned. "I hope I did okay. I'm looking forward to seeing you at the marathon though."

"Well, that's not really what I'm here for--I mean! I wanted to ask you something else."

She narrowed her eyes at him with a sly smile. "Hai?"

"...Can I race you?"

"Now?"

"Yeah."

"What for? Extra practice?"

"No, um," he let out a long breath and closed his eyes. It was a stupid proposition, he knew it, his friends knew it but -- oh wait, maybe that was the reason behind their persistence. "Senpai, if I win the race, will you... go out with me? On one date."

He opened his eyes after getting the question out in one breath. Seeing her expression turn from one of amusement to confusion was probably the most nervewrecking experiences of his life, but when she set down her clipboard and stood up to face him again, she had a small smile on her face.

"That's an interesting bet..."

"Well -- the thing is, I'm just in 2nd year, and you're in 3rd year, and I can't think of any way to impress you other than... Winning this."

"But you are already impressive--"

"Can we just do this?"

"What if you lose?"

"...I'll race you again next week, and the next, until I win."

She laughed. "Okay, it's good training, I guess. But... I'm not sure if I'm worth your time doing this, Kyomoto."

"You are," he mumbled and got down to a starting position. "You can start this off."

He avoided her amused gaze as she got down on the track beside him.

"Alright. Ready?"

He nodded.

"Set... Go!"



He didn't win.

But he'd like to think that it was a close second. After pushing himself to go faster than he ever did before for a 400m sprint he was ahead of her for a good half of the track until his burst of energy started draining out and she caught up to him. They ran parallel for the last bend, until she burst in front of him and stepped over the line a couple of steps before he did. 

"So..." she said, grinning but out of breath. "That was fun..."

"Senpai..."

She walked over to the benches and grabbed two bottles of water from the cardboard box, throwing one over to him and devouring half of the other bottle.

"Tell you what. If you rank in the marathon..."

He blinked at her in disbelief.

"...I'll go out with you."

"Really?!"

She laughed - more like giggled, but he had never seen that before so he couldn't quite tell.

"Y-You're really cute like this," she shook her head. "Really. I like you. You work hard and everything. So... I don't see why not."

"Aren't there... I mean, the 3rd year guys in track..."

"They're alright. But you're just as good."

She shrugged, and turned to head back to pick up her things from the bench. 

"Make that your motivation! Rank in the marathon, and my time will be yours for a day."

"...Is this a ploy to get medals for the team?" He called out after her. She turned around with the same grin.

"Maybe?"

As betrayed as he felt, he couldn't stop the grin from spreading across his face. He did a little fistpump, which unfortunately, Casey caught on camera from behind the vending machine beside the benches.



It's a lazy sort of Sunday and a lack of assignments granted Taiga and his friends an entire afternoon of bumming around the neighborhood. He had told them what happened after practice - rather, Casey had shown the rest the video he had taken and forced him to spill the beans.

He caught himself smirking as the rest chattered on about his destined victory. He was allowed to be cocky every now and then, he figured.

"So," Juri slung his arm over Taiga's shoulders. "What should we do now? Check out date spots to start planning your romantic day with Mitsumune-senpai? Maybe you'd even get a kiss!"

With that said, Juri puckered his lips and Taiga almost had to flip him off. "Gross, d-don't do that!"

"Yeah he'd only let one person do that," Jesse snickered, but his eyes focused on something behind the rest and pointed it out. "Wait--isn't that--"

Taiga wasn't sure what he had expected when he turned around, but maybe he wasn't surprised either. Dorky Inoo-senpai just stepped out of the parfait cafe from across the street with Mitsumune beside him. As the pair turned to head down the other direction Taiga's eyes trailed after the flowing skirt of her summer maxi dress, until Casey's words brought him back.

"…Oh, is that why Inoo-senpai said she wasn't dating anyone?!"

Unknowingly he had locked his jaw, and he turned to his friends with a half hearted apology.

"Sorry guys, I need to go."

"Wait where?!"

Taiga was already rounding the corner when Juri called out to him.

"Running!"



"He… He insists they're just friends."

Taiga opened his eyes a tiny bit against the evening sun and turned to his best friend, lying on the grass beside him after a long afternoon of training.

"Who?"

"Inoo-senpai and Mitsumune-senpai."

"Oh."

He hadn't been able to meet her eye for a week since catching her on her "date". He didn't want to assume things but it was impossible not to, even though he had never really expected Inoo to be the one in his way. He took a deep breath and scratched his hairline, wiping away the sweat gathered there while he was at it.

"Hey, have you thought about what you'd do after that one date?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean," Casey sat up, turning around to look down at Taiga with a frown on his face. "It's not going to be enough, is it? Just one date."

He draped his arm over his eyes and shrugged. Without looking he knew that Casey was shaking his head and reaching over to poke his sides. He rolled over and got off the grass just in time with a big grin on his face.

"We'll see. Come on. I'll race you home."



"Kyomochan? Casey?"

"Training."

Juri frowned at the sole occupant, Jesse, at the cafe table. "But they trained yesterday. And the day before that."

"Yeah well," Jesse sipped his coffee noisily. "They have a lot at stake. Kyomochan's pride as a man and Casey... Well, Kyomochan made Casey promise that he'd ask Shuuka out after the marathon."

"Who?"

"Fujii Shuuka. Dude she's in your class!"

"Oh."

"It's okay, you're just back from the dead." Jesse gave him a heavy slap on the back. "Let's get you some creme brulee to get your high back."

"When are they coming back?"

"The race is next week. They either come back victorious, or we'd be stuck with two sour players for Battlefield that weekend..."



The race was held on a Saturday, late afternoon, running through the housing areas and finally ending alongside the river in the neighbourhood so that participants could appreciate the sunset when they finished in the evening.

As the 500 or so participants gathered at the starting point, Taiga surveyed his competition. There were a few familiar faces in the crowd - kids he had met at track and field competitions, his own team mates... As far as he could tell, she wasn't in sight, and he swayed back and forth on the balls of his feet to relax himself.

"Hey," Casey clapped him on the shoulder. "Relax. We got this."

"Yeah well - yeah."

"...we'll rank. I'm sure of it. But if you feel like you can go ahead, just dash on. Your pride is at stake here."

"I'm not leaving you."

Casey made a face.

"Ew, you're turning into a woman."

"Bros before hoes."

"I'll tell her you called her that."

Taiga rolled his eyes but continued with his warm ups knowing that Casey wouldn't be far behind him at all during the race. They waited impatiently for the start signal -

"Hey. Good luck."

"You too. Here's to summer romance---"

"GOOOOO!"



He was damned sure he would have ranked. So damned sure. He was leading all the way through the first three quarters of the course, Casey at his side, and though neither of them mentioned it, they could both feel their impending victory. With just the last quarter to go, they didn't have much to worry about.

Until they rounded a street corner. Taiga was slightly ahead and it took him a couple more steps to realize that Casey wasn't beside him anymore. He risked a look over his shoulder in case stopping would have allowed competitors to overtake him, and found Casey just pushing himself off the ground. He immediately dashed back to where his friend was.

"Hey, you okay?"

"Go on," Casey winced. "I think I twisted my ankle. Stepped on a loose pebble or something."

"You can't run anymore?"

"No, oh my god--"

A runner jogged passed them easily. Then another.

"--Just go!"

Without another word, Taiga pulled Casey's arm over his own shoulders and tried supporting him to brisk walk onwards. "Can you walk like this?"

"DUDE--"

"Shut up!"



They finished close to last, he reckoned, by the time they reached the last stretch along the river, the sun was already skimming the horizon. More runners overtook them, but he gritted his teeth and pulled Casey across the finish line with him, seating him down on the grass at the first aid station right after their timings were recorded.

Almost immediately the rest of the track team were with them - people that they had convinced to just carry on and overtake them for the sake of winning the school title - and Taiga watched with a small smirk on his lips as Fujii kneeled down by Casey and started tending to his ankle. Casey met his gaze with a look of bewildered joy and mouthed something along the lines of "Scored!" but Taiga couldn't be sure.

He took in deep breaths and walked a distance away to an unoccupied patch of grass by the river to catch some fresh air, and just as he sat down a bottle of water appeared before his eyes.

"Otsukare~" Mitsumune said as she sat down beside him. "You did well."

"Sorry I didn't rank. Did the school do alright though?"

She flashed him a thumbs up sign and laughed.

"Third consecutive year as regional champions."

"That's great."

"Mm. I was waiting for so long here for you for hours, I thought I had missed you and Anderson-kun or something when the rankings were announced."

"…There was an accident."

"I know," she nodded. "The others told me. You're a great friend for helping him out."

"I try," he looked down between his feet at the ground. "It's not a big deal."

"It's a big deal that you didn't rank."

"I'll try racing you again next week."

"No need."

His heart sank. There was his one chance gone, but he felt her finger poking his cheek and he looked up at her, surprised to find somewhat of a shy smile on her face.

"I'll still go out with you. I heard about how hard you were training for this and… What you did for Anderson-kun, it's commendable. I do like you."

"…As a teammate?"

Her smile grew into a grin and she shrugged. "I'm not going to answer that just yet."

"Oi! Wait--Senpai!"

She was already on her feet, dusting bits of cut grass and dirt off the back of her track pants.

"You already have my mail address, right?"

"Y-Yeah, but--"

"I'm free on weekends, so…"

"Aren't you going out with Inoo-senpai thought?"

The question was out of his mouth before he could stop himself, and he watched her burst into a fit of laughter.

"I-Inoochi?! No!! He's a good friend. I treat him like a sister, even," she stopped herself for long enough to say. "No, not Inoochi. I don't have a boyfriend right now."

"…So that spot… is for me to fill, right?"

She pressed her lips together in a small, sheepish smile that he found irresistibly adorable in that moment.

"Maybe."

"Why can't you just answer yes?"

"Because it depends on… things. Depends on how well the date goes, for one."

"Do you want to go to Fuji Q Highlands? The haunted hospital is worth a visit."

She narrowed her eyes at him again. "Smart ploy. But okay, I don't mind."

"O-Okay, I'll mail you then!"

"I'll be waiting~"

After she walked away to check on Casey, he fell back against the grass and kicked the air like an excited little kid. He laid there, sprawled out, for a good couple of minutes until Jesse and Juri came to pick on him and Casey for being wimps and not winning, but the sight of Fujii sitting right by Casey and chatting with him shut them up effectively. Taiga, on the other hand, chose to remain more subtle about his victory.

He finally managed to meet her eye as she was leaving the area, and even managed a wink and a thumbs up, which, much to his delight, she responded with a wave and the same shy smile that was on her face a while ago.

"Did you just--"

"--wink at Mitsumune-senpai?!"

He shrugged and went to pick up his belongings with the widest grin on his face.
 
 
 
Luna: squealdreamweavernyx on January 21st, 2013 03:24 pm (UTC)
aksfslhg yaaaaay saki i love you this is so cute ;u;♥