Title: A thousand paper cranes
Written at: September 16, 2007
Summary: Shiraishi discovers the paper cranes he folded with Ashita more then a year ago, when she was sick in the hospital. This then made him realise how much she cares for him.
Word count: 1438
Warning: most of the other stories in chapters are actually more focused on Shiraishi and his own conflict in regard to tennis and being the buchou- however, this one is quite romance based so yeah…(well, I usually write that kind of stuff and considering this is the ninth story in this series it shouldn’t be that surprising. That I would eventually write one. It’s more on the sweet side.
So this story is inspired by the whole a thousand cranes thing, which is that if you fold a thousand cranes then you get a wish, and it is usually given to people who are sick, a wish of getting well.

Once again, Shiraishi leant forward to place his hand over his girl friend’s forehead to cheek her temperature.
“You, neechan and niichan are all so bad.” She protested. “It’s not as if a slight fever will kill me. You don’t have to be here, you can go and play tennis with your friends.”
“But I want to look after you.” He told her firmly, and he was sure that the redness of her cheek was not caused by her illness at all. “I much prefer being with you instead of playing tennis.”
“Do you want to eat or drink anything?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I think I just need to lie down.”
“Then I’ll get you another blanket.” He decided.” There is some in the closet, right?”
“Kuranosuke, don’t use that door!” Ashita yelled out but her warning was much too late. Her boy friend had already opened the door they were not meant to use, causing him to be buried underneath the context of the rather full closet.
“I’m fine.” Shiraishi quickly assured her, although he was quite surprised at the amount of pain you could receive just from being hit by masses of clothes.
He was searching for blankets when he suddenly noticed the box that had fell down with the other clothes. As he prepared to place the lid back he naturally glanced at the context: it was filled with paper cranes and some unfolded papers that were placed at the very bottom of the box.
These papers…they seemed very familiar…

“I am so sorry for not visiting you more often, Ashita.” Shiraishi apologised as he sat down beside the hospital bed. “But because of…”
“I know, because I got injured during the Kansai regional of tennis. I understand that you have to use all this time to practice.” Ashita told him understandingly. “Did you do well?”
“We are the winners of the Kansai regional.” He told her proudly. “I’m so happy because we will be able to go to the nationals this year. But you will recover soon, wouldn’t you? I never realise how dangerous karata is…”
“It’s not a serious injury, Kuranosuke. Will you…will you stay long?” she did not want to beg, as he would probably agree if she do so, even if he was meant to be doing other things.
“I will stay with you until today’s visiting time is over, but I probably can’t come to see you every day.” his voice trailed off as he could see that she was rather bit sad at this. “By the way, I brought you a present .”
He took out the object he had carefully inserted between his textbooks in order to prevent it from being damaged in any way, and placed it into her now stretched hands.
It was a stack of origami paper, each sheet in a bright and colourful traditional Japanese pattern, much like the yukata that she would wear.
“It is so pretty.” She whispered in wonder as she spread the papers out to see each one, occasionally saying “I want a yukata just like this one.”
“I thought that we can try and fold a thousand paper cranes together.” Shiraishi suggested rather shyly.
Ashita immediately nodded. “Do you think we can get a wish each?”
“Maybe, I certainly hope so.” He said as he took the first paper.
“If we don’t…” Ashita said very softly, her voice barely audible. “I will have the same wish as you so what you want will come true.”

“Kuranosuke, are you alright?” Ashita asked him rather worriedly as he was still staring at that box.
“You kept them.” Shiraishi finally said. “You actually kept these paper cranes.”
“Paper cranes? So that’s where I put them.” she smiled as she took some of the cranes out. “I must have folded this one because I am not as patient as you, I can’t be bothered to do everything to perfection.”
“Why did you keep them?” he asked her.
“Because you gave them to me,” Ashita answered simply. “I kept these cranes and papers because they are like the ribbon that you gave me for my birthday. It is a present from you.”
“Even after I…”
“They are your gifts to me so I treasure them because I always feel the same way about you. Although I did think that I should stop throw them away after you showed me that tennis is more important, I think that is why I shoved them in my closet.”
“I…” he wanted to apologise to her once more for the mistake that I made but she quickly stopped him by leaning forward.
“You’ve apologised enough,” she said firmly. “Just show me that this will never happen again.”
“I am here, right?” he pointed out. “Ashita…did you not fold more paper cranes with these papers because I wasn’t there?”
He did try to visit her every two days but it was rather difficult as the nationals were approaching, as the buchou he had to train the rest of his team as well. The hospital’s visiting hours tended be finished when he was finally free. Now that he thought about it, he probably only visited her on a weekly basis.
Nor did he remember their promise of folding a thousand paper cranes, as he was so occupied.
They always used to spend Sunday together at the very least, but when the regional and national began to approach he would sometimes use these Sundays to practise. But they would walk to the train station together since his extra practices did not use to be very long.
Then he was possessed by the obsession of doing anything he could in order to win after Shitenhouji returned as being third in the whole national. After that day he began to practise so much that he ended up almost only seeing her in class.
He had been really single minded so he didn’t really realise that it was quite miraculous that she didn’t end their relationship when he barely saw her in the holidays.
“Don’t you remember what happened at that festival?” she asked him instead of answering him.
“I remember.” He told her firmly. After all, that was their first date, as well as where they confessed to each other.
“I told you that I like you the best, didn’t I? When you like someone the best you want to always be with them, right?”
He quickly nodded at this, although he did not understand her. “The only reason that I broke up with you is because I know that I would want to be with you instead of practising tennis more if you are there.”
“This is why.” Ashita stated simply. “I wanted you to spend more time with me, but the opposite would happen if I broke up with you. We still go out together even though it was not very often, but if we break up then I wouldn’t be able to be with you anymore.“
“But you never once told me that…”
“It was very easy to see that you really want to reach the finals next year, and I was afraid that you might actually dump me if I was too…”
Her words were interrupted as Shiraishi pulled her in his arms, whispering his apologies to her once again.
“I don’t deserve you.” He said simply. “Do my other achievements matter if I am such a lousy boy friend?”
Like most other schools, there were many girls who were fan of the regulars- especially the buchou. Shitenhouji differs as their buchou was regarded as having a girl friend before he even assumed this poistion, although they technically only went out in their second year. As a result, many girls would tell Ashita how lucky she was, and the two of them would always laugh about this together.
“But Kuranosuke, you are a really good boyfriend apart from that period. It is just as if you were sick because you are the way you used to be again. So attentive and caring.”
“I will try and always be like that for you.” He promised her before he released her and covered her with her fallen blankets.
“Let us fold our one thousand cranes.” He said as he took out the unfolded papers, placing them on her lap. “I have a wish that I really want to be granted.”
“And what is it?” she asked him rather hopefully.
“To be with you forever.” He told her simply, and he was finally rewarded by a kiss on the lips from his girlfriend.
“We have the same wish then.”

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