Kento stared at the man uncomprehendingly. "You want me to what?"
"Come on, come on, this is no place to talk," the guy said. He then muttered to himself in English, "Crap, crap, my Japanese is so rusty... it's been years since I came out here..."
Kento folded his arms, frowning. "Show me some way of proving that you're from that school."
The man groaned, obviously trying to figure out what he just said. He rubbed his nose for a second, squinting up to the ceiling. "Why can't everyone just speak English?"
At that moment, Kento's mother walked up, much to his dismay. He didn't want to hear her fake praise, not one bit. The instant they were alone, she would surely scold him (and probably more) for bringing unnecessary attention to himself, as well as to Rin. Not only that, but the song was about her... her and Yuuta and his father. He had no control over the song, but he would probably get blamed anyway.
Much to his surprise, she instead lightly touched the man's arm. "Kento, this is Leonard Princeton. He's from America. Our schools are working on becoming sister schools. Although, it technically is not his school. He's just the representative. Any who, he's from The Clarke Academy of Music."
Kento felt his eyes widen very slowly. Next to Juliard, Clarke Academy was literally the best school in the world for going into music. In fact, it might just be better because it focused completely on music, and not just on preforming arts. Not only that, but you could go from sixth grade to your doctorate. Obviously you could switch schools if you really wanted to, but Kento had no clue why anyone would. Honestly, if Kento was to name his dream school, that would probably be it.
The brunette boy looked up to Leonard with new eyes. The guy was a representative from Clarke Academy. Not only that, but he had taken time out of his busy schedule to watch Kento preform. To the young boy, that was amazing. He suddenly felt rather self conscious about the two notes that he had completely butchered while he was singing. What if the guy was here to talk with him about that?
Sakura-sensei murmured something to the black haired man, who nodded quickly. The silver haired woman turned back to him. "He's here to ask you if you'd be interested in going to his school."
Kento felt a strange sense of euphoria and fear. The idea that he could go to such an amazing school was… was shocking to him. He had never even considered that he would be good enough to go to Clarke's. To be considered for it… what an honor. Still, he would have to leave home, leave Japan, and… and leave Ichigo... that was something he was unsure he could do.
The man muttered something to Sakura-sensei, who was beginning to act as a translator. She looked up to the boy, nodding to Leonard. "He would like you to join during sixth grade as well as go to the summer program they put on. He also would like you to go to their six week English immersion program, just so you're not totally lost when you go to school."
Kento felt very overwhelmed. He probably would have felt overwhelmed no matter what as long as the sleek haired man had asked him to join his school... but it was becoming dizzying. Going to America? Learning English? Going in sixth grade? But... but that would mean that he'd have less than two years to spend with Ichigo... he felt his heart sinking at that thought. Less than two years. He wanted a lifetime with her, not that tiny amount of time.
"You look rather shell shocked," Sakura-sensei noted.
"That's... well... I am," Kento mumbled, looking down. "That's a lot to take in..."
The golden eyed woman nodded, turning back to the man. She spoke to him in English once more, and he nodded empathetically before putting on a thinking face. He then grinned, snapped his fingers, and said to Kento haltingly, "Please consider it! See you later!" As an afterthought he added, "Thank you!"
The man gave a little wave before walking away. Sakura-sensei turned to look at her son, eyes flashing somewhat, almost as though she was warning him that he'd better take the offer. "He will be here for tomorrow and the day after. Then he will go home. It would be best if you did not delay your decision. I do have his contact information, but I would rather if you told him in person. It's always better to say things in person, Kento."
With that, the woman turned and walked away, her hair moving with her. Kento watched her go, trembling. He couldn't quite believe what had happened. He had managed to get into Clarke Academy. Come to think of it, though, why didn't they ask Rin? Wouldn't it make more sense to ask her? She was much more polished than him, much more experienced... she was so... so much better than him when it came to music. He was quite certain that she didn't miss a single note during that song.
Kento looked down, trembling somewhat. This was too much to take in. For him to be chosen for such a great honor… he shook his head. No. He'd think about it later. He needed to go meet up with Ichigo and the others right now. He had no time for this.
The boy loosened his tie as he walked into the back hall, looking about. He felt nervous butterflies swirling through his stomach. What if he didn't do quite as well as the others thought he did? What if Ichigo didn't like the song? What if Purin noticed all of the things wrong with his voice? So many questions ran through his mind, dizzying him.
He looked down to the floor, taking in a slow breath. For him, it was almost more terrifying if they thought that he had done well… Kento had never sung in front of people. He simply didn't like it. It made him feel anxious and worried and he would always get adrenaline rushes that left him a shaking mess. This had been horrifying, but he had to admit that he did much better than he thought he would.
Needless to say, the brunette boy was quite surprised when he was pummeled by a sniffling Ichigo. She smashed her face into his chest, making rather overdramatic sobbing noises. Kento had no idea what to do at this point. Should he hug her back? Should he pat her head? What do when cute girl hug you?
"Kento, you jerk!" she finally exclaimed, looking up to him with a runny noise and watery eyes. "I can't believe you sang such a sad song! Everyone was crying and it was horrible but so pretty and your voice is really awesome and I don't know what do do because you made me have so many feelings! Wahahhh!" She buried her face in his chest again, letting out her sobs once more.
Kento awkwardly wrapped one arm around her and patted her head. "There there... uhm... you'll be okay..."
"Noooo!" she wailed. "It was so sad! Everybody was crying! Oh my gosh, it was horrible!"
Kento nervously stroked her hair. He was really, really close to her. She was so warm, so cute... she was trembling, clinging to him desperately. He soothingly rubbed her back, her soft, soft back... she was so very tiny and adorable. He suddenly became frightened that she could hear his pounding heart. Then again, with her noisy wailing, it wasn't very likely that she could hear him.
Purin jogged up to them, with the others trailing behind them. Kento felt a lightbulb go off in his head. If anyone would know what to do about Clarke Academy, it would be Purin! She was good at music and knew everything about everything. Not only that, but according to Ichigo, she gave very good advice! She would know what to do. She would help him figure it out.
He mouthed to Purin, 'I need your help.'
She blinked and nodded. 'What?'
'Tell you later.'
"You did really well, Kento," Nicholai murmured, smiling softly. "Rin and you were very much in harmony."
Kento flushed slightly and gave a half grin. "Ya think?"
Mary nodded. "Yes. You did very well."
Kento chuckled slightly, face quite pink. "Thanks."
Ichigo pulled away, much to Kento's disappointment, looking up to the brown haired boy with tears still in her eyes. "You- you're... amazing, Kento." She sniffled, rubbing her nose. "Your voice is super cool. You sound more mature when you sing."
Kento felt his entire face go up into flames at this point, giving a faintly dazed smile at this. "You- you think... ?"
"Yeah, you almost sound as prince like as Yuuta-sempai! Only almost, though." Ichigo smiled innocently as she allowed Kento's happiness to crash all around him.
"Right..." he mumbled. "Of course..."
The strawberry blond didn't seem to notice, instead a cross look making its way onto her face as she looked beyond Kento. The brunette looked over his shoulder and nearly rolled his eyes. Rin and Yuuta had walked out together, close enough that they weren't obviously friends, and far enough away to not be not friends. They were chatting, the back of their hands brushing occasionally. However, they never wrapped those hands around each other.
"She's not allowed to be near him," Ichigo hissed. "I'm going to kill her."
"Don't inter- and, she's gone," Kento muttered as the girl stormed off to talk with Yuuta.
The boy blinked as he felt the light brush of fingers on his arm. He glanced over to Purin in slight surprise. She nodded over to an empty classroom, to which Kento returned the nod. Now was as good of a time as any.
"Kento and I are going to have a little chat about what he could do to improve and what I could do to improve," Purin lied easily, tugging him towards the room. "It's something that none of you would probably understand, so I'm gonna just take him away so we can chat about it in private and crap like that."
Nicholai watched them go, a slight churning in his stomach. Was that... was that jealousy? No, no, there was nothing to be jealous about! That was just silly. Kento was so terribly in love with Ichigo that there was no reason for him to be jealous.
Then again... how did Purin feel? Who did she like? It would make sense for her to like Kento. They were both musically inclined, so they had that in common. Kento was super cool. He was handsome, unlike Nicholai, who was pretty like a doll. Kento was so kind, so adorably awkward, so funny... they got along so well. Much better, perhaps, than he and Purin did. All in all, it would make a lot of sense for her to like him.
Nicholai felt a wave of depression overcome him. Why was he so... so girly? Every girl would want a guy to take care of them and he... he needed someone to take care of him. He needed someone who would cuddle with him, and kiss his forehead, and grab ahold of his hand... not the other way around. He was too shy, he couldn't possibly do something like that. He'd get too flustered and embarrassed and awkward and it would just be absolutely awful for him. There was absolutely no way he could possibly be the guy in the relationship.
He watched them enter the room together, a feeling of longing overcoming him. He wanted oh so desperately to be the one to go in with her. If only he was musically talented... but, no. No, that wouldn't suit him at all. He would probably faint before he got up on stage. He'd get too flustered and might just die. He couldn't possibly do it. All he could do was watch enviously as she continued on with Kento.
Purin closed the door behind them and leaned against it, folding her arms across her chest. She casually flipped her black hair out of her eyes and looked to him with her blue eyes afire with curiosity. "So? What do you want to talk about?"
Kento looked down, scratching the back of his neck as he took in a deep breath. "Well... ya see... a guy named Leonard Princeton talked with me earlier..."
"And?" She tilted her head somewhat.
"Well…" The brunette boy began nibbling on his bottom lip, running a nervous hand through his hair. He was really going to have to tell her if he was going to figure this out. He took in a calming voice, closing his eyes as he softly mumbled out, "And he's from Clarke Academy and he wants me to join up."
Purin stared at him for a moment blankly, tilting her head somewhat. She looked up in thought, mouthing the words as though she didn't quite understand what he had just said. She froze after a moment before snapping to look at the golden eyed boy in a slight state of shock. Her arms and mouth dropped, eyes widening somewhat. She was silent, however, as though she couldn't quite get any sounds out.
Finally, she burst out, "The Clarke Academy!?"
Unsurely, Kento nodded. He could feel a nervous welt boiling up within him. This wasn't shocking just for him, at least.
"When?" was her immediate question.
"Oh, uh…" He laughed nervously as he jumped up on a desk, kicking his feet back and forth. "During sixth grade."
"What are you waiting for?! Take it! It's a great opportunity!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms up in the air.
Kento looked off to the side, gripping the edge of the desk until his knuckles turned white. "Well… that's just it. I don't think I can accept such an offer."
Purin's eyebrows shot up. "Why on earth not?!"
"Because…" Suddenly, Kento's throat felt oh so dry. He was sure that if he gripped the desk any harder, part of it would break off. His heart raced and he did his best to calm it through deep breaths that threatened to become somewhat like hyperventilating. He blinked several times and felt a slow blush creep into his cheeks.
Purin raised an eyebrow as she tapped her foot, drumming her fingers on the door. "Because? Because what, Kento?"
Kento squeezed his eyes shut and screwed his face up, feeling it beginning to turn bright red. "Because… I'm not sure if I can… stay a- away… from Ichigo that long…"
The boy knew that there would be some issues with saying something like that out loud. First of all, the most predictable: he would get extremely embarrassed from saying something so utterly. Then, there was other awful side effects. Such as… Purin bursting out laughing at him…
"Shut up!" he snapped, turning his heated face away from her. "God, you're such a jerk!"
"I- I'm sorry, I'm- oh my gosh, I'm so sorry," she wheezed out between laughs. "But… it was so cheesy! Like, holy crap, where did that come from?! You must be made of swiss because that was… man, that was the cheesiest thing that I've ever heard!"
Kento covered his ears, squeezing his eyes shut even tighter. "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I hate you so much, just shut up!"
Purin managed to calm down slightly, taking in deep breaths as she rubbed a tear out of her eye. She was grinning broadly, obviously about to tease Kento to high heaven. "So, then, Mr. Oh-So-In-Love-With-Ichigo, you seriously can't go because your dear not girlfriend won't be around?"
He glowered at her. "Shut up. As if you could take being away from Nicholai."
She rolled her eyes, folding her arms. "First of all, I don't like him. Second, I totally could. Honestly, I would have accepted the instant the offer came out of the dude's mouth. Do you know what this could do for your future? Do you know all the places you could go? You could get any record label in any place of your choosing. You could become a star easily, whether it be in America or Japan or Korea or wherever you want to sing and preform and all. You can always come back to Japan, but you can't always go back to Clarke Academy. You're crazy if you don't accept this offer."
Kento looked down, taking in a deep breath. "But… you see… the problem is… I… I really do… love… her…" His words came out more and more quietly until Purin had to strain her ears in order to hear.
"Don't be an idiot," was her simple response, flipping her hair. "You're only ten. You know what you're feeling? It's simply called infatuation. Almost obsession, really. You don't love her."
"I do!" he snapped, turning to glare at her. "You know- she just- I fell in love-"
"At first sight? Not possible." She folded her arms, looking to him coolly. "That kind of thing is only for fairy tales."
"You don't understand," he hissed. "You don't understand at all. Because it was one look. One look at her and I knew, even though I didn't want to accept it. Because… because… the day before school started this year, I was…" The boy trembled, eyes slowly lowering, trying to hold back tears that were a mix between anger and anguish. "I was going to commit suicide the day before school started back up."
This caught Purin's attention. The girl looked to him, jerking her head sharply in the process. Kento could feel his breath coming out in a shuddering sort of way, the sort of way it comes out when you're trying your very best to hold back tears. The lump in his throat had grown and grown until he found that he was unsure if he could even talk.
"What was that?" The raven haired girl asked slowly, raising an eyebrow.
Kento sucked in a jittering breath. "You see, I… I know it's partially my fault, but I… I never had any friends, and I just… nobody was ever there to support me and I've… I don't want to go to deep into details, but my mother… my mother is not the woman that you think she is. Neither is my brother."
"I know that," Purin said softly. "She forgot your birthday and your brother… your brother, he… he was the one who spread all of those horrible rumors about all of us…"
Kento gave the slightest of nods. "Yes, but there's… there's much worse. They're…" He shuddered. "They're some of the most awful people on this planet. They both put on this friendly and kind and helpful front that everyone buys into, but… but when we're alone… when we're alone… I don't want to live when we're alone. At least, I didn't used to. Then… one day… at a bus stop… a girl was staring at me." His horrified look relaxed into a tiny smile. "A girl with strawberry blond hair in pigtails. I looked at her… I looked at that girl with those big green eyes and that curious face and I just… there was not a thought of suicide in my head. I couldn't imagine doing anything like that ever again, just so long as this girl was around. I found myself becoming devoted to her, so that every waking moment was filled with thoughts on how I could make her happy, how I could see that smile, how I could wipe away her tears… all I wanted was for her life to be joyful. And that's why I can't let her get with Yuuta."
His expression darkened, eyes cast off to the side. "I could have prevented it, you know. Made it so they hadn't met. She tripped while she was getting off the bus. I was right behind her. I could have grabbed her arm and pulled her back up. Maybe she would look at me like I was the prince. Maybe she wouldn't have fallen for Yuuta. Maybe I would never have had to worry about if I could be her friend or not. But I hesitated. I was an idiot because I didn't want to touch her. I felt like a dirty thing like me…" He laughed without any humor. "A dirty thing like me should not be allowed to touch a pure and beautiful thing. But… I'm afraid that by that action, I allowed something a million times more despicable to touch her. It's sickening irony."
Purin was silent for a moment before speaking, her voice firm and strong. "Kento, I don't know what your family has put you through. And I really don't think I can quite understand your feelings at the moment. However, I can accept that maybe you are in love with her. And, if you are, then I can understand that it would be difficult for you to leave her, especially after recognizing that she's what's kept you living. But here's my problem: if Ichigo doesn't ever love you, then what are you going to do?"
Kento felt a little unprepared for the question, almost jumping back. "What?"
"What are you going to do?" she repeated, giving him an intense look that was almost fiery. "What if she never feels the same? Are you just going to spend your life following her around like a puppy dog who's lost its owner?"
The brunette opened and closed his mouth several times before gulping. He had never thought about that. He had always just kind of assumed that she would change her mind someday and fall in love with him… fall in love with the guy who was so crazy about her. If she didn't… then… what? Would he have to watch her grow up? Watch her date other guys? Watch her get boyfriends? Watch her get married? Watch her have kids? Watch her… watch her live her life without him? That… that sounded so awful…
Her voice was soft now. "Do you understand now? Kento, you can't just live your life for Ichigo-chan. You've got to live your life for yourself as well. I know you love her and she's your reason for living and all of that, but maybe… maybe it would be good for you to find another reason for living? I'm not saying that you have to replace her as a reason for living, but maybe you could add something on as well. Something you're passionate about. Something that you know you can do. You shouldn't give everything up for a one sided love. I think it would be best for you if you went to Clarke Academy."
Kento nodded, attempting to take it in. He hand't realized that there really was a possibility that Ichigo wouldn't fall in love with him. The idea weighed on his shoulders heavily. Still, he knew that… that if he really wanted to be happy, then all he would have to do is… is live for himself. It hadn't worked in the past, but that was then. He had a better shot at being okay now that he had a support group, but… it wouldn't make it any easier. Giving up Ichigo as his number one thing would be… well, painful to say the least, but if he did, then… then he could really be happy. He could find his own way in this world, a way into this world that didn't require Ichigo to be completely and utterly in love with him. He could be happy on his own.
Kento looked up to Purin, feeling tears beginning to overflow despite himself. Although words of him understanding what she meant were supposed to come out, instead he cried out forlornly, "I'm so scared, though, Purin! I don't want to give up on her! She's my everything!"
The blue eyed girl tore herself away from the door and wrapped her arms around the now sobbing boy, letting out a sigh as she stroked his head. "I know, Kento. I know. But this way… this way everyone can be happy. Especially Ichigo. Just… let her go. You don't have to do it all the way, but…
"You need to let her go."
Leonard Princeton felt a sense of relief when, just under two hours from when he had to go to the airport, Yoshi Sakura called him down to her office. It meant that she was either going to finalize the agreement between Clarke Academy or… or a certain student was ready to give him an answer. He brought his luggage over to her office anyway, just in case this sort of thing ran long and he would have to go to the airport in a jiffy. The only part that really sucked about it was getting up the stairs, being that the heavy suitcase didn't want to make its way up the stairs.
He was pleased to find the ten year old boy standing next to his mother, nervously fidgeting with his school uniform. He didn't seem to get any more relaxed as Leonard came in, chewing on his bottom lip and looking up to him with wide eyes. The man gave the boy a cheeky grin, to which the boy responded with an edgy smile. The boy leaned over and whispered to his mother after the American had closed the door, to which Sakura-sensei gave the slightest of nods. She looked up to him, no indication of his answer on her expression. She then let four words go that simply could not have filled him with any more joy than they did.
"He accepts your offer."
A/N- Good golly gosh it's been a while. I'm not going to lie, part of this was writer's block, but the other part was wow school is crazy. I'm in my last year of high school, ya see, so I've been trying desperately to get everything done so I'm ready to graduate and go on to college. However, I am taking easier classes this semester and I am on track to graduate as of Monday, so I've had more free time to myself. I had no homework tonight, so I decided to get caught up with some things, mainly being getting ready for an anime con and finishing up this chapter. Now, I can't promise that I won't go onto hiatus again, but I can promise you that I will always come back. This story is my baby and there is no way that I will ever abandon it. Thank you for reading.