Challenge: Theme 2, Candy Heart (21_hearts)
Notes: shit, how long has it been since I posted something for this claim? And I've had this one done for ages, too...
Cleaned up the story a bit, for final posting.
Sohma Yuki leaned heavily against a desk on one arm, sighing to himself. The day had finally ended—February 14th. That day was a tiring day every year…but this year especially.
Instead of chocolates lying inside his locker (or in the trash cans, as Hanajima-san was disappointed to note), what felt like every girl in school had given him a chocolate in person. It had taken up a lot of time, and he had been late for a lot of classes. Thankfully, his teachers had understood, although Mayuko-sensei had been very distracted. He spotted her fidgeting with a box on her desk whenever she looked towards him or Kyou (who had received an equally bountiful supply of chocolates, half of which he gave to Hanajima-san, which cheered her up greatly, and half of which he left on the ground before running out of the school, Kagura chasing after him).
The only problem now was that the day wasn’t really over. He still had a Student Council meeting, and that meant one thing above all…
“Yun Yun!” Yuki sighed, wishing his thoughts hadn’t manifested themselves in the form of his Vice-President, Manabe Kakeru. While he enjoyed being around the guy (somewhat) and he certainly didn’t hate him, that didn’t change the fact that sometimes Kakeru could be entirely annoying.
Kakeru wrapped an arm around Yuki’s neck. “Enjoy your day, Yun Yun?” He teased. “I bet you got stopped more times than you can count, and with bunches of honmei chocolates! Myself, I only got giri chocolates from my classmates—and not even all of them gave me any!” As Kakeru pouted, Yuki sighed.
“You do have a girlfriend, Kakeru. Certainly Komaki gives you chocolate?”
Kakeru frowned, trying to remember past years. “No…it’s usually meat.”
Yuki looked at him sideways, not sure if he should take the comment seriously. He had suspected the “meat angel” line, but that had been true enough…
Yuki blinked, noticing that they had just passed the Student Council’s room. “Ah…Kakeru…”
“We’ve passed the Council room.” Kakeru glanced back behind himself.
“Ah…so we have.” He turned his head back around, and continued walking.
“Kakeru…why have we passed the Council room?”
Kakeru looked scandalized. “Yun Yun…don’t tell me you didn’t know? We’re having a special meeting, because of the day an’ all.” Kakeru put a finger on his chin. “More like a party, actually. People have been planning on what to bring for a while. There’s even a karaoke set, I think…are you sure you hadn’t heard about this? It’s pretty big to have gone unnoticed by the President himself…”
As the two of them approached a classroom, Yuki suddenly felt the eyes of a hundred vengeful demons on his neck. The door opened to reveal loud music and talking, and confetti floating out. At the door stood Secretary Toudou Kimi giggling cutely, who invited the two in.
The eyes seemed to turn into daggers on his neck.
“Something tells me there was a very good reason I wasn’t told…”
The party was just as rowdy as the sounds from outside had implied. Class representatives from all three grade levels were dispersed throughout the room, chatting and snacking. There was indeed karaoke equipment set up (stage, microphone, speakers, and a TV set with lyrics scrolling across it), and at the moment someone was singing a very bad rendition of the Mogeta ending theme, fifth season (…not that Yuki would know that). Music from speakers on the other side of the room drowned the poor soul out, so no one was really paying him any attention.
Yuki glanced around the room as Kakeru got in the middle of things (as he always did). Snacks, drinks, and…a pile of presents. Not too large of one—just enough so that probably everyone in the room could have one. They weren’t all the same size, so it couldn’t be the same thing for every person…
“It’s an exchange.”
Yuki jerked somewhat; it was Treasurer Kuragi Machi, quiet as ever, who had answered his unspoken question. “Ah…you mean like each person buys something for a different person?” She nodded. “But…I didn’t know about this until just now. Won’t that mean someone won’t get a present?”
Machi turned away for a moment, pensive.
“President…if you were to buy someone here a present…and those girls who did not receive a present found out…it would not be good for either of you, would it?”
The obvious struck Yuki. Those eyes outside hadn’t just been staring angrily at Kimi for being…Kimi-like…they had also been staring to make sure he wasn’t carrying a present for Kimi, or any other member of Student Council.
“No, I guess it wouldn’t…”
With that thought hanging over his head, Yuki wandered towards the bowls of snacks. “See you, Machi.”
She stared after him silently, a blank look in her eyes.
The snacking, dancing, and general merriment lasted for far longer than Yuki had expected—he called Shigure’s house once to let them know that he was taking longer than expected…and more than likely would not need dinner. Someone had pulled a platter of assorted sushi out of a fridge earlier, and there was batter heating up for tempura.
Just as another karaoke attempt at a Mogeta theme (this time, the first season opening number...not that Yuki would know the difference) ended, a chant began in the crowd. Normally calmer (with the exception of a few…), this crowd of intelligent people once hyped up on sugar and caffeine, were anxious to have something big happen. Kakeru, having noted the pile of presents on the side, had started the cry from within a crowd of laughing boys. It had quickly spread, and the room reverberated with two syllables.
“Presents! Presents! Presents! Presents!”
As there were no adults in the classroom (nor had their been any at anytime during the party), Yuki realized that he was the one in charge, and therefore the one responsible for the distribution of the presents. How ironic, considering he hadn’t known about any of this in the first place.
Taking the karaoke microphone from its stand, Yuki got the attention of the crowd—with a very high-pitched squeal of static. The entire room seemed to groan as a whole.
Yuki winced, then tried to speak again. “Excuse me! Excuse me, everyone…” Silence, except for Kakeru’s wild shout of “Go Yun Yun!”, met his ears.
“Um…if it’s alright with you, we’ll start the exchange.”
It took a long time to get through the pile. Girls had given to boys, boys to girls, girls to girls and boys to boys. The gifts varied by the person who had given it, and by who it was for as well. Some were obviously pranks and inside jokes between friends, and others looked as though they were simply thrown together at the last minute. A few didn’t make sense to anyone. Kakeru, as an example, had picked out a rock CD for 2-D’s representative, who was shy as anything, and was a noted fan of Mozart and Bach.
Kimi had pulled Naohito’s name, and she had made a nameplate with pink lettering that read “Chibisuke,” which he flushed at the sight of and promptly tossed back in its wrappings. He stuffed it in his school bag while grumbling about stupid morons. Kimi just giggled (which brought half the guys in the room to their knees).
People began drifting over to the tempura table once it was obvious the number of gifts left was no more than a half-dozen. If they had already gotten their gifts, why bother waiting? The smell of the cooking meats and vegetables drifted over to Yuki, and he was suddenly painfully aware of how long it had been since the lunch hour (he hadn’t had much from the sushi tray).
He sped through the last few gifts so he could get to the food himself. He didn’t realize that he was on the last gift until no one else was standing around him, and he was reading off his own name. Almost nervously, he looked around, but no one had noticed his mistake.
Yuki turned off the microphone and set it down, getting to work at the wrappings. It was a small, flat sort of gift, and he didn’t have a clue as to what it could be. Too large for a CD, and too small and the wrong texture to be a book…and there wasn’t a name of the sender on the package, either. How curious…
The simple design of the ribbon and wrapping paper were quick work to get off. He pulled the last bit of tape off to reveal a thin box. Yuki opened it up to reveal little heart-shaped candies…he opened the box and tried one experimentally. Homemade by the look of it, and pretty good at that.
Yuki packed up the box and headed over to the tempura table, snatching himself some celery, carrot, and chicken.
“Eh? Yun Yun, what’s that?” Kimi, carrying a small plate of shrimp tempura, had noticed Yuki approach the table. “Is it your gift? Who’s it from?”
“I’m not really sure, actually. There was no name on the package.”
“Really? Hmm…” The second-year secretary pouted cutely. “Even though putting your name on the package was optional, Kimi thinks it sounds suspicious. Everyone else put their name on…”
She clapped her hands together. “Ah! It must be because it’s Yun Yun! Your present-giver is too embarrassed to let you know she made you candies all by herself.”
“Is something afoot, Yun Yun?” Kakeru popped over Yuki’s shoulder.
“Nothing is afoot, Kakeru…there’s just no name on my present, that’s all.”
“Sounds like a case for the Student Defense Force!” Kakeru quickly got into his “Black Mode,” pulling a wheat straw out of his pocket and sticking it in his mouth, and began interrogating his classmates. Yuki put his face in his palm. There really was no stopping this guy, was there?
To avoid the imminent confrontation Kakeru would force on him with whomever the “guilty party” was, Yuki wandered out of the classroom. He was surprised to see that it was still very bright and sunny out—the darkened classroom and the length of the party itself had led Yuki to believe that it was nearing night, when in fact there was still a good hour left before sunset, if not more.
“Time flies,” he mumbled, chuckling slightly. “Or seems to fly, anyway.”
A metal click from Yuki’s right caught his attention; someone had just closed their locker. He glanced down the hall, only to see Machi picking up her bag.
“You aren’t staying.” The way he said it made it more like a question.
“…I don’t really like tempura…and I was only here because I had helped set up.” Machi glanced up at Yuki as he walked towards her. “It was in my homeroom class, so it was convenient. That’s all.” She ducked her head down as he got closer to her.
“Ah…” Yuki looked around, thinking of something to say. “Before you go, Machi...would you like one of these candies? They were my present…I was going to take them home for later, but maybe you should have one. If you didn’t eat anything…”
Machi flushed. “No! You don’t have to do that, really!” She brushed past him and started walking down the hall.
“Machi! Please, you must be hungry. Take one.”
Her stomach growled loudly. Machi froze in embarrassment as Yuki approached her.
“Machi…take one. Please.” He held the box in front of her face. “They’re good; I’m sure you’ll like them.”
“No, really…I’ve got food at home…” But Machi’s argument continued to grow weaker. “I…I couldn’t eat your own gift for you. It’s not right.”
“Then I’ll take a bit of the present you got, if I can. Problem solved.” Instead of reassuring Machi, Yuki’s decision seemed to make her even more nervous. “What? What is it?”
“I…didn’t get one of the presents.”
“…you were the one I was supposed to get something for?” Machi looked anywhere but in his eyes. “Ah…I’m sorry, Machi. I’ll try and find something to apologize.”
“I—I don’t want to be any trouble, President.”
“It’s fine, really…meantime, why not have one of the candies?”
Machi sighed, and mumbled something under her breath.
“Because I have more of the same at home!”
There was a long moment in which neither of them spoke, Yuki too surprised to speak, and Machi too embarrassed.
Machi backed away from Yuki. “…if you’ll excuse me, President. I’ll miss my train if I don’t hurry.” She turned around and rushed off. Yuki watched as her hair shifted while she ran, then turned his eyes back to the box.
Yuki smiled to himself, then took another one of the candies out of the box. A burst of sound drew his eyes to the classroom door. Kakeru stepped out, and glanced up at him.
“Hey, I was looking for you…” Kakeru walked over to him and slung an arm over his shoulder. “I went through the entire group, Yun—none of them confessed to sending you the mysterious poisoned candies.”
So now it’s poisoned candies…? Yuki smiled despite himself and decided to play along. “No need, Kakeru. I found the suspect myself…the so-called poison is harmless.”
“You sure? They could’ve been lying to you…”
“I’m positive. This was an honest person I had on my hands.”
Kakeru sighed, wiping a hand across his forehead. “Well, that’s a relief.” He pulled the wheat straw out of his mouth and tossed it away. “Do you know how hard it is to hold a wheat straw in your mouth like that?”
A long moment of silence…
Yuki burst out laughing.