Challenge: Theme 10, Sweetheart (21_hearts)
Notes: And yet again, I resurrect a fic challenge I haven't worked on in months. Though, to be fair, I was working on this one on-and-off after I finished Valentine's Day, which is referred to in this one.
Toru woke up one morning in mid-March to the horrible smell of burnt sugar. Panicking at the top of her lungs, she rushed to the kitchen in her pajamas, thrust the door open, and found a room full of smoke. Coughing and waving the smoke away from her face, Toru walked into the kitchen. And into someone. A small poof of more smoke let her know that whoever was in the kitchen was (a) male, and (b) a cursed Souma. In this household, that usually meant one of three people...none of whom Toru ever thought she'd find simultaneously awake before she was and cooking.
"Honda-san, is that you?"
Toru scrambled on the floor to find the speaker. She didn't want to step on him in his cursed form. She found the rat quickly, and brought him into the hallway so he could breath easier. His clothes could wait a moment.
Then something occurred to Toru. "Yu-Yuki-kun? What were you doing in the kitchen?"
Yuki laughed somewhat nervously. "I've been trying to make chocolate all night, but something must be wrong with the directions on the package...I followed them exactly, and it ended up, well..." He gestured at the open kitchen door, which still had a steady trickle of smoke escaping from it.
A trickle of sweat trailed down Toru's neck. "I-I see. But, um, Yuki-kun, why were you trying to make chocolate all night? Not getting any sleep can't be good for you."
"Eh?" Toru spun around, almost dropping Yuki in the process, to look at Kyou, who was half-way down the stairs. He had a tight grip on the handrail, and stared at Yuki for a long moment. He jumped over the rail and landed in front of Toru, who squealed in surprise. Kyou leaned in very close to the rat.
"What did you just say?" Kyou sounded furious at first glance, but there was an underlying tremor of panic in his tone.
"White Day. A day of giving and receiving, conveying feelings of affection and thanks in return for presents given on Valentine's Day. March fourteenth." Yuki said in a tone you would use to explain simple arithmetic to a three-year-old. "Any of this ringing a bell, you stupid cat?"
Kyou muffled his cry of frustration. "I know what White Day is, you damned rat! I want to know why you're making White Day chocolate!"
"...because I received chocolates on Valentine's Day, and wish to convey my feelings of thanks in return? And White Day is tomorrow."
What happened next was such an enormous explosion of panic and nervous energy that it cannot be conveyed through any known language.
Needless to say, Shigure woke up. He wandered downstairs to see Tohru flailing in a combined panic about White Day and Yuki returning to human form, which he did in a nice white poof of smoke. It was floating to the ceiling along with the smoke from the kitchen, where a smoke alarm was blaring. Kyou was standing in a corner, trying very hard (and failing miserably) to conceal his own panic about White Day.
"Ah, what a lovely normal morning. Are you finished destroying my kitchen, Yuki?"
Yuki glanced over his shoulder at the still-smoking kitchen while he pulled on his pants. "It looks like it, yes."
"Then in that case, would you be so kind as to save what is left of the kitchen, Toru-kun?"
"Eh...ah, yes, Shigure-san. Of course." Still shaking a bit with nerves, Toru started to save the kitchen. (Incidentally, it would take her the entire day.)
"Now, Yuki, what's this I'm hearing about White Day? I thought you didn't give your fanclub any chocolates?"
Shigure's question was followed by silence. Kyou removed himself from a corner of the hallway to glance at Yuki, who was, surprisingly enough...embarrassed. He glanced first at his feet, then the wall, and then rubbed the back of his head awkwardly.
"I, uh...she's not in my fanclub, Shigure."
Shigure arched an eyebrow. "But you are still making White Day chocolates for a "she," are you not? Or at least trying to?"
Yuki blushed darkly. "Yes."
"Well, in that case..." Shigure slid towards the table, and placed a hand on the telephone receiver. He lifted it to his ear, and winced as Yuki grabbed onto his wrist.
"Call Nii-san and you will die."
"Ehehe, in that case..." Shigure slid out of the room as soon as his wrist was free.
"Y'know, he has a point," Kyou drawled, slouching against the kitchen table. "You never give anyone but Toru White Day presents. Even though that bunch is always giving you chocolates for a week before Valentine's. What's so different about this one?"
And there was the question of questions. Machi hadn't made him those candies because she wanted to give him something--it had been part of the present exchange for the Student Council party. Which he hadn't known about until the day of (for his own good, as Kakeru claimed), and he hadn't had a present for Machi. But was this just giving her a gift in return for a gift? He could have just gotten her a hair ribbon or some kind of trinket if he was just giving a gift in return.
Yuki sat down at the table and cupped his chin in his hand, staring off into space. "I guess...it's because she can see me."
Kyou made a questioning noise in the back of his throat, but Yuki didn't elaborate further.
In the end, Toru helped Yuki make a small box of white chocolates. Well, she prepared a new batch of chocolate from the mix he had bought, and he poured the shapes. Still, he thought to himself as he walked to her classroom during break the next day, it was the thought that counted, wasn't it?
"Yuki." Hatsuharu was standing in the doorway, Momiji standing at his shoulder.
"Hi, Yuki! What brings you here?"
"Morning Haru, Momiji. I'm looking for Machi--is she in there?" Momiji eyed the box wrapped in silver foil that Yuki carried but said nothing, while Hatsuharu glanced over his shoulder into his classroom.
"No. I think she might have gone to the Student Council room for something."
Yuki frowned thoughtfully. "Is that so? Strange...I didn't think we had a meeting during break today. Well, I'll go find her then."
"Yes?" The young-looking sophomore stared for a moment as all three boys answered her in unison.
"C-could you move out of the way, please? You're blocking the door."
Yuki nodded goodbye to his cousins and started on his way to the Council room.
"And, Souma-senpai? If you're looking for Kuragi, she's outside."
Yuki turned to look at the girl, who grew flustered under his gaze.
"Um, I know it's not any of my business, really, but I heard you ask, and I saw Kuragi walking out just now, so...I thought I'd help you..." She turned away, red-faced, and walked into her classroom. Yuki smiled, and went on his way.
Momiji followed the girl into their class. "That was a nice thing you did, you know."
The girl turned a brighter red and didn't face him. "I really like Souma-senpai, but I'm not blind or stupid. It's White Day, and he's holding a fancy box, looking for Kuragi. I can put two and two together."
Momiji smiled. "You and everyone but them."
Yuki found Machi sitting under a cherry tree, its branches heavy with unopened buds. She didn't look up at him as he approached, but didn't appear surprised when he sat down next to her.
He placed the box next to her.
Flushing, Machi turned away from him. "You didn't have to do that. I told you before that I didn't want to trouble you--"
"--this isn't for that." Machi snapped her head around sharply, but Yuki wasn't looking at her. He stared up into the tree branches, eyes glazed over somewhat. "I wanted to thank you."
Yuki met her eyes. "For seeing me."
Machi flushed darker and glanced down at the box. "That isn't something the president has to thank me for."
"But I want to," he insisted, pushing the box into her hand. Their hands brushed for a moment. Machi pulled her hands back at the sensation, the box of chocolates tight in her grasp. Yuki laughed gently and smiled. He leaned back against the tree and looked at its branches again. Machi did the same.
"They'll bloom soon, the cherry blossoms."
"In a few weeks."
"After they bloom, when all the petals are falling out...would you like to walk through them with me?"
Machi jerked up straight, and stared disbelievingly at Yuki. "W-what?"
Yuki stared determinedly up at the cherry tree. "I know it isn't quite the same as snow, but we never got to make footprints."
Realizing what he meant, Machi blushed darkly and turned away. She clutched the small box of chocolates to her chest and nodded fiercely. Yuki glanced at her from the corner of his eye.
"I...would like that very much."
Yuki smiled. "I'm glad." He slipped his hand into hers, and she only stiffened for a moment before relaxing into his touch. Looking away from each other, they smiled faintly.
A short flash of light quickly ruined the scene. Machi sprung away from Yuki, hair standing on end, and ran towards the school building, the box of chocolates clutched tightly in both hands. After a moment of stunned disbelief, Yuki stood up and approached the poor vice president that had taken the incriminating photograph.
He laughed. "How threatening you are, president!" And quickly ducked under the stranglehold Yuki was trying to put him in. "Hold on, hold on, I'm still sending the picture to Commander."
Yuki froze. "C-commander?"
"You know. Your brother."
Somewhere else, schoolgirls gossiped, giggled, and smiled over their gifts. Somewhere else, one schoolgirl tucked her present into her desk, fuming silently under the knowing gazes of two of her classmates. Somewhere else, another schoolgirl retied her hair with a cat-patterned ribbon while her gift-giver smiled behind his hand. Somewhere, people were having a good White Day.
Yuki wished he could be Somewhere Else. Or in a hole, for the rest of his life. Or anywhere but here, where his brother was telling him over Kakeru's phone how Shigure had called late at night about Yuki's new sweetheart and how Ayame in all his cleverness had realized who this mystery girl was and called Black-kun to get the live-action scoop and wasn't it wonderful of Yuki's magnificent older brother to take an interest in his younger brother's romantic affairs, because Mine had certainly thought so and if anyone was more of an expert on romance than Ayame himself it was surely Mine, and...
Yes, Yuki wished he could be Somewhere Else. That was certain.