|Love is in the Air
Author: SilvorMoon PM
Fubuki and Manjyome are writing love letters. Lots and lots of letters. To whom, you ask? Silly! They don't need to write letters TO anyone. They just feel like writing letters!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - Words: 6,380 - Reviews: 25 - Favs: 46 - Follows: 3 - Published: 03-27-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2861822
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Love is in the Air
It was a breezy day. Manjyome scowled as the vagrant winds tossed his hair in all directions, including into his mouth every time he tried to speak. He remained silent and glowering as he walked, feeling the wind tug at the hems of his jacket and try to get it tangled in his legs the minute he took his attention off of it, and wished he'd had the sense to stay indoors. He would have, but exams were fast approaching, and the Osiris Red dorm was a madhouse this time of year, as other students tried desperately to get in a bit of last-minute studying in hopes that their scores would improve enough to give them a shot at moving up next year. Or else they were resigned to their fate and running about like crazy things as they enjoyed the fact that there was no class for the next few days to give everyone a chance to adequately prepare. Manjyome wasn't sure which of those activities Juudai had been involved in, but it was spectacularly noisy, whatever it was. It sounded like a construction area, or perhaps a one-man demolition derby. It gave Manjyome a headache just being in the same building with him, so he'd gone outside to work off some restless energy. He didn't really need to study, anyway - his grades had suffered so much from his long hiatus from school that there was no way he'd be promoted this year short of a miracle. Anyway, he knew it all already. What he needed was some peace and quiet. What he needed was some time alone to unwind.
What he needed was to get out of the paper airplane's way before it put his eye out.
Manjyome ducked, and the brightly colored bit of paper whizzed over his head, caught a draft, and sailed off in the general direction of the Ra Yellow dorm. Manjyome watched it in befuddlement until another one - a pink one, this time - sailed by and got caught in his hair. He jerked it free and looked around, seeing more paper airplanes soaring around him like strange insects. They all seemed to be coming from the same general direction. Overcome by curiosity, Manjyome followed their trajectory until he came near the cliffs.
There he found a young man sitting cross-legged on the ground, surrounded by brightly colored pieces of paper, sheets of stickers, assorted markers, and a few largish rocks to hold everything down so the wind wouldn't blow it all away. He had a heap of paper airplanes in his lap, and was in the process of tossing them one at a time into the air, watching raptly as they flew away.
"Shishou?" Manjyome exclaimed. Other people found him a bit odd for using such a respectful title on someone who was only two years older than him (and probably not any more mature), but Manjyome still looked to Fubuki with a kind of awe and addressed him accordingly. "What are you doing out here?"
"Writing love letters," came the reply. Fubuki picked up a blue and green checkered airplane and sent it off to ride the sea breezes. It found an updraft from the cliffs and rose high above their heads before drifting off towards the main buildings.
"You look like you're making paper airplanes to me," said Manjyome.
Manjyome looked down at the paper airplane he'd pulled from his hair and gave it a critical look. When he unfolded it, he found that someone had written across it with a purple pen, and the words were of a decidedly amorous bent.
"Who are you writing them too?" he asked.
Fubuki shrugged. "No one in particular."
"Oh." Here was a mystery, but that was acceptable. Manjyome had accepted that Fubuki was the high guru of all things romantic, and Manjyome was but a lowly student who could not be expected to understand everything his master told him at first.
"Yeah. Great idea, isn't it?" Fubuki answered, smiling dreamily. "That's like the essence of romance, you know? Love unconstrained by a single human being, spread to the entire human race! The sea! The sky! Love that spreads over the entire world, flying on delicate wings... I mean, if you don't put any names on the letters, it's like they're not to anybody or from anybody. They're just pure love."
Fubuki beamed, eyes aglow with the wonder of it all. When he spoke like that, with such conviction in his voice, it was hard not to believe there was something truly profound about what he was saying.
"That's deep," said Manjyome.
"I thought so. I mean, these aren't just any love letters - these are like infinite love letters."
"I don't know..." Manjyome answered uneasily. Sure, Fubuki could write love letters. He probably wrote the best love letters since the days of Casanova and Cyrano de Bergerac. Manjyome had never written any, unless one counted a number of unfinished scribbles that had been torn to tiny pieces lest anyone should find them and read them. "I'm not very good at love letters."
"Sure you are!" said Fubuki. "You're a man with a passionate heart! Just put your feelings into words. That's all there is to it."
"That's easy for you to say," said Manjyome, but he sat down next to Fubuki anyway and picked up a pen.
"That's the spirit!" Fubuki cheered, clapping his student on the back. "But first you can help me get rid of these." He dumped a few of his already-written letters into Manjyome's lap.
"I can do that," Manjyome agreed.
The two of them sat quietly for a while, taking turns tossing airplanes into the sky and watching them scatter in all directions.
Asuka looked up from her studying to see her friend Junko holding a piece of purple stationary. It had a number of pink heart stickers stuck to it, and while she was too far away to make out the exact contents, she could see someone had written on it in silver ink.
"What is that? An advertisement?" she asked.
"It's a love letter, silly!" said Junko.
"Who is it from?" asked Momoe, who had been helping Asuka with some practice questions.
"I don't know! It isn't signed," Junko replied. "It just flew in my window, and when I looked, there was no one there! It must be a secret admirer!"
"Or the wind blew it off course," said Momoe, "and it blew in the wrong window. It could have been meant for someone else. Like me, for example." She reached in her notebook and pulled out a second, nearly identical letter.
"Where did you get that?" Junko exclaimed.
"It flew over to me while I was walking by the lake, okay? It's not like I stole it from you, so you don't have to get all defensive!"
"Well, is your name on it anywhere?"
"Then how do you know it's yours?"
"Well, it hasn't got your name on it either!"
Asuka watched as her two friends went into a loud squabble. She sighed softly and managed to snatch one of the letters up to have a look for herself. Her eyes scanned the note's contents briefly.
"I should have known," she muttered. "Listen, you really shouldn't take these so seriously. This looks to me like it's Fubuki's handwri-"
She didn't get a chance to finish. At the sound of Fubuki's magical name, both girls started carrying on more loudly than ever as they vied for the right to claim his attentions. Asuka sighed again.
"I'm going outside," she said.
The breeze was still blowing briskly on the shore of the lake, but it was otherwise a pleasant day. As Asuka looked for a shady, quiet spot where she could continue her studies in peace, an orange paper airplane drifted serenely down out of the sky, and she reflexively reached out and caught it. This one had sparkly stickers in the shape of various flowers, and she smiled a little. They reminded her of her brother's penchant for bright colors and gaudy clothing. She unfolded the paper out of curiosity, and was not surprised to find it strewn with the romantic panegyrics that typified her big brother's usual mode of thinking. Then her smiling expression turned thoughtful as she realized that this writing didn't resemble her brother's at all.
"C'mon, it's easy," Fubuki encouraged. He was already merrily scribbling on his piece of paper - it was half-covered in his loopy handwriting already.
"It's not easy for me," Manjyome protested.
"Just write what you feel. It will come to you once you get started."
Manjyome scowled at his piece of paper. It had stripes in various shades of blue. He wondered briefly where Fubuki had found this peculiar stationary; he surely didn't buy it on the island. The only thing the card shop stocked was basic writing paper, plus some high-quality drawing paper for the upper-level students specializing in card design. He decided that this paper probably came from the same place he'd gotten that ukulele.
Okay. Write what you feel. What do I feel?
He closed his eyes a moment and tried to clear his mind. He would think of Asuka. She was, after all, the love of his life and delight of his eyes, and so on and so et cetera. That was what he usually did when he was attempting to write love letters. The problem was, it had never worked then and it wasn't working now. What had initially attracted him to her was her dignity, her sense of serenity. His entire life had been a whirlwind of struggle and competition, and to be within the presence of such utter peace had been a profoundly moving experience. He had never wanted to leave it. But this letter writing scheme wasn't about peace and serenity, and he didn't think he could make the two concepts work together. Frustration welled up in him, and he opened his eyes, intending to throw down his pen, declare the whole operation stupid, and shuffle off to sulk.
The first thing he saw on opening his eyes, however, was Fubuki's irresistible smile, and all his frustration fizzled out. To call this stupid would be to call Fubuki stupid, and Manjyome couldn't do that. Fubuki was magical, a wizard, someone who made the impossible possible and the unlikely a certainty. Why, here was Manjyome himself, possibly the most undemonstrative, unpoetic, unsentimental person on the island, writing love letters! Or trying to, anyway.
Write what you feel. Okay. Fine.
Hesitantly, he pressed his pen to the paper and wrote, Every time I see you, I forget about everything else.
Fubuki, seeing him writing at last, looked over at his paper and smiled.
"Hey, not bad!" he said. "That's a good start! I knew you could do it!"
"You think so?" asked Manjyome, torn between being pleased and embarrassed. It felt odd to think that the only way he could successfully write a love letter was if he was actually writing about Fubuki.
"Sure! That's perfect! Just keep writing just like that."
Manjyome shrugged uneasily. "Whatever makes you happy."
What else could he write? I look up to you. I admire you. You make me want to be better than I am. You make me believe I can be. I want to be with you and follow you wherever you go.
"Not bad, but you need more compliments," said Fubuki. "You know, stuff like, 'your eyes are like two stars' and 'your lips are like rose petals' and stuff like that."
"Oh, fine then. Everyone's a critic."
Manjyome sighed resignedly. Compliments didn't come easily to him. Once again, he looked up for inspiration, and then went to work writing again - slowly at first, and then with more enthusiasm: ...the way the sun shines on your skin... the light in your eyes... your smile... your voice... your laughter...
"Now you've got it! That's perfect," said Fubuki. "Just like I said - write whatever's in your heart, and you've got it made!"
"You know I'm just making all this up," said Manjyome.
I'm writing a love letter to Fubuki.
Manjyome stared down at the paper he'd filled with superlatives and wondered what was wrong with him. There was something strange about all of this that he wasn't sure he liked, but the fact remained that this was undoubtably a love letter and he knew exactly who he'd been thinking about when he'd written it. He decided whatever had brought it about, it couldn't have anything to do with him. Fubuki was the love magician - he practically radiated romantic thoughts, and obviously had so many to spare that he found it necessary to send them out to the world in general to keep from bursting. The romantic bit was just a part of Fubuki's essence, so of course he was a natural fit as the inspiration for a letter. It wasn't a personal thing; it was just a commentary on Fubuki's nature.
Manjyome folded up the letter and threw it as far away from him as he could.
It didn't make matters any better that Daitokuji had chosen to up and die only days before the exams started. If Chronos hadn't known better, he would have thought the man had chosen to time his demise so that there would not be enough time to bring in a replacement, with the end result that Chronos, being the most highly-ranked teacher on the island, had been chosen to administer the test for Daitokuji's class in his stead. Fortunately the test had already been prepared and an answer key made up, since Chronos wasn't sure he actually knew enough about that area of study to pass the test himself, but it was still more work. Nobody ever thought about Chronos's feelings.
Least of all Daitokuji's cat. Chronos looked up from his desk in alarm as he saw the beast that had wandered into his office and gave a yelp of fright. There had always been something about cats that set him on edge, and this cat in particular had something creepy about it. Chronos always got the impression that there was something more than naturally intelligent behind that sleepy facade, and he didn't trust it one bit.
"Out! Out of my office, you flea-bitten brute!" Chronos ordered.
He leaped up from his desk and opened his window, intending to chase the cat outside where it belonged. As usual, his intentions and reality did not align perfectly, and by the time he had found the mechanism holding the window shut and figured out how to manipulate it to get the window to open, the cat was gone. Chronos looked around his office briefly, reassuring himself that the cat wasn't just in hiding somewhere, but it appeared to have vanished back to wherever it was it had come from.
"Well, at least it's gone," he told himself.
He thought about leaving the window open, but changed his mind. The wind would probably get his papers mixed up, not to mention what it would do to his hair. As he went to close it, however, a blue and yellow paper airplane drifted through the fenestration and into his office, landing on his desk as neatly as if it had come here for that exact purpose. Chronos stared at it a moment, then picked it up and studied it more closely. There was writing on it. He unfolded it. He read it, and then read it again more slowly, his annoyed expression gradually melting into a foolish smile. Obviously he'd had it all wrong: someone out there somewhere thought about his feelings after all.
Humming cheerfully, he got up and left his office. After all, there were no classes, it was a beautiful day, and he was suddenly in an unusually good mood. Who cared about exams?
"Ooh, that's good! Deep as the night sky and... and brighter than the sunrise."
"Perfect - thanks!"
"Okay, um... Oh! Your smile dazzles me like sunlight on the ocean."
"I could go for that. Hm, what else... When I look at you, I feel..."
Manjyome was in his groove now, filling page after page with poetic not-quite-nonsense. Fubuki was right: once you started, it was not only easy but hard to stop. The two of them were enjoying themselves, reading aloud to each other whenever a choice line came to mind. Both of them had their hands covered in various colors of ink, and Manjyome had a sticker in his hair, transferred from his hand when he'd absent-mindedly brushed a wind-tossed lock away from his eyes.
He was so caught up in his work that he didn't realize he had a spectator until someone spoke almost in his ear.
"Manjyome, have you seen Aniki anywhere? I lost him."
Manjyome shot a glare up at Shou. "Why would I know where Juudai is? He's your aniki; you take care of him."
"I just thought he might have come this way," Shou said. "I thought he was studying, but then things got really quiet, and I went to look for him, and he was gone."
"Well, he's not here, so go away. We're busy," Manjyome snapped.
"What are you doing, anyway? And why do you have a sticker in your hair?"
"Huh?" Manjyome ran a hand through his hair and came up with a sticker in the shape of a sunflower.
"We're writing love letters!" said Fubuki proudly.
"To who?" Shou asked.
"No one in particular," Fubuki replied. "We just are."
"You're weird," said Shou. He ambled off, calling for Juudai. Fubuki shrugged, clearly disappointed that Shou wasn't willing to join in such a worthy persuit.
"Glad he's gone," Manjyome muttered. He didn't want anyone else to join this party. This was between him and Fubuki. Having anyone else watching him, he told himself, would be embarrassing.
Fubuki grinned at him. "You shouldn't have taken the flower out of your hair. It looked cute there."
He peeled a sticker off one of his sheets and stuck it to Manjyome's nose.
"Hey!" Manjyome yelped. "Why, you...!"
He grabbed another sticker, a prismatic silver star, and stuck it to Fubuki's cheek. Fubuki just laughed and left it there, where it threw off glints of light whenever he moved. It put Manjyome in mind of the time he'd been watching Fubuki surf, and seeing the way the spray rose up around him, glittering in the sunset. He decided sparkles suited Fubuki.
"I'm glad you joined me," said Fubuki. "I don't think anybody else would have. You're the only one who understands me."
"You mean I'm the only one crazy enough to go through with something like this," Manjyome muttered.
"That's the same thing, isn't it? More or less?" Fubuki said. "I mean, Asuka doesn't listen to me most of the time, and Ryou... he's a great guy and all, but he's not good at this love stuff."
"And I am?" asked Manjyome.
"You," said Fubuki, with all the magisterial weight of a king issuing a proclamation, "are awesome."
"Oh," said Manjyome. And then, almost inaudibly, "So are you."
Fubuki laughed and ruffled Manjyome's hair. "I knew that."
A breath of fresh air would lift his spirits, he decided. Nothing in his contract said he had to sit in his office all day. He got up and stepped outside, pausing a moment on the front steps to take in the warm sunlight, the pleasant breeze, and the heady scent of the ocean that could be detected from anywhere on campus. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, and while he did so, something struck him on the head. He reached out and grabbed at whatever it was, and his hand closed around a paper airplane.
"Now, where did that come from?" he wondered. He looked at the airplane and tried to smooth it out a little - it was a nicely folded airplane, and it seemed wrong just to crumple it up and throw it away. Maybe he'd keep it to play with in his office for a while. It would brighten things up. Then he realized that there was something written on it, and he unfolded it and read it. He thought about it for a while. Then, with a brisk, decisive stride, he started heading off in the direction of the card shop.
Meanwhile, on another part of the island, Ms. Tome was out feeding the chickens. The end of the semester made her sad. She loved the students here at Duel Academia like the children she'd never had, and it was always lonesome here over summer break when everyone went home. There were times she regretted never marrying and having a family of her own. Still, she held out hope. She was no longer as young as she used to be, but really, she wasn't that old...
A paper airplane dropped out of the sky and landed in her bucket of chicken feed. She picked it up and looked at it, wondering if this were some kind of practical joke. Hoping to find a clue to its origins, she unfolded it and read what was inside. She thought a moment. Then she quickly dumped out the last of the chicken feed and hurried off in the direction of Sameshima's office.
They ran into each other at the midway point.
"Oh, I was just looking for you, Principal!" Tome exclaimed.
"Ms. Tome, I was just coming to look for you."
"That note in the paper airplane..."
"I see you have..."
"When I read it, I thought..."
"For a moment, I wondered..."
Both of them stared awkwardly at each other for a moment.
Sameshima was thinking, She didn't send the letter.
Tome was thinking, It wasn't from him, after all.
Sameshima was thinking, She came looking for me.
Tome was thinking, He thought of me first.
Both of them were thinking, Well, maybe...
Tome broke the silence first. "Have you had lunch yet, Principal Sameshima? I was just thinking I might make some, if you'd like to come join me."
"My dear lady, I would love to," he replied. He bowed graciously and offered her his arm. She giggled like a schoolgirl as she shyly placed her hand at his elbow and let him gallantly escort her back to her home.
"Yeah, that's right. What about you? Is there anyone you like?"
"Nah, not really."
"But you're all into this love and romance stuff."
"That doesn't mean I'm in love with someone in particular," said Fubuki lazily. "It just means I love love."
The two of them were taking a break. Their hands were sore from writing and folding paper for hours on end, and now the two of them were stretched out side by side on the grass, watching the clouds drift by and listing to the surf.
"I would have thought there would be somebody," said Manjyome. "I mean, every girl in school is wild about you. Even Miss Ayukawa is starry-eyed over you, and she's a teacher."
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean anything," said Fubuki. "What about you? People are crazy about you, too."
"They are not!" Manjyome said, blushing a little. "Most people don't even like me."
"Lots of people like you. Don't you ever pay attention when you're dueling? Everybody cheers for you! I mean, everybody. You've got... what do you call it? Charisma, that's what it is. You've got charisma. People just want to follow you around and be with you all the time just to watch you do what you do." Fubuki laughed. "Even me!"
"You're just saying that," said Manjyome, but he blushed more than ever. He turned onto his side so Fubuki couldn't see his face.
Fubuki laughed. "Nah, I'm serious. You're all right. You listen to me and don't tell me I'm being crazy, even when I am. You know how to work a crowd, just like me. Hey, we oughta go into show business together. What do you say? Man, we would have it made, then!"
"You know what? If the dueling thing doesn't work out, I'll think about it," said Manjyome. "I can think of worse fates."
"Worse than being stuck with me?" Fubuki teased.
"Better than being stuck with Juudai," said Manjyome. "You don't get on my nerves like most people do."
"Why not?" asked Fubuki curiously.
"Oh, I don't know. You just don't. I guess because... you don't put any pressure on me. I mean, anything I do can't possibly look stupid next to the things you do, right?"
"Right," said Fubuki. "It's not about looking good; it's about having fun."
"Is this fun?" Manjyome asked.
"Yeah. Don't you think?"
Manjyome thought about it. "I guess it is. Yeah. This is all right. I... can't really think of anywhere else I'd rather be."
"Me neither," said Fubuki. He sat up and shook himself. There was grass in his hair and clinging to the back of his shirt. "Oh, well. Ready to start again?"
Manjyome made a noise of assent and sat up. Fubuki laughed.
"Your hair is full of weeds now. Can't you keep it straight? Here."
He reached out and ran his hands through Manjyome's hair in an attempt to set it straight. Manjyome shivered a little.
"What's wrong? You can't be cold," said Fubuki.
"You gave me a chill, that's all," Manjyome snapped.
Fubuki hesitated a moment, apparently not sure what to make of that comment. At length, he said, "You still have grass in your hair."
Quietly, Manjyome said, "I don't mind."
"Don't mind what? Having them in there, or me getting them out again?"
Fubuki went back to work, and Manjyome sat still and silent with his eyes closed, feeling Fubuki's fingers stroking his hair over and over and over.
As he walked, he was surprised to see a paper airplane go meandering by. He reached out and grabbed it. He unfolded it, studied its contents for a moment with utter bafflement, and then crumpled it up into a ball and threw it away.
"Eh, it's not for me," he said, and then hurried away to the Osiris Red dorm. He hoped they were going to have fried shrimp tonight. He absolutely loved fried shrimp.
"This has been fun," said Fubuki. "We should do this again some time."
"Can we?" asked Manjyome. To correct any ideas that he might actually want to, he added, "I mean, aren't you a third year? You're the same age as the Kaiser. Aren't you going to graduate?"
Fubuki laughed. "No way! I missed one year in the Shadow Realm, and then most of this one on top of that. I'm going to be here for a while. We'll have lots of chances to hang out."
"Ah," said Manjyome. He was silent for a while, writing busily, and then threw down his pen and stretched carefully, rubbing his sore fingers. "Well, I'm done! I don't think I could write another of these if I tried." He folded up the letter carefully and tossed it out into the wild yonder - which was not blue anymore, but a soft shade of gold with the oncoming of sunset.
"I'm done, too," said Fubuki. "With this one, anyway." He folded it up and sent it sailing off to join the other one. The two bits of folded paper both caught the same current and went swooping off together like a mated pair of birds. Manjyome watched them thoughtfully.
"You know what's weird?" he said at last. "I've spent all day writing love letters until I've got blisters on my fingers. There are letters from me all over the island. But you know what? I've never in my life gotten a love letter from someone. Not once."
"That's no good!" said Fubuki. "Everyone should get a love letter from someone at least once. Here, hold up a sec."
He seized the last piece of paper and began to write furiously. Manjyome leaned over for a better look.
"Ah! No way! Not until I'm done," Fubuki insisted. He went on scribbling, and Manjyome got up and paced the ground impatiently until he was finished. At last, Fubuki got up and handed the paper - not in the shape of an airplane, but just folded in half - over to him. "Here you go! From me to you - one guaranteed one-hundred-percent real love letter."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Manjyome asked.
"What I said. Go on, take it."
Manjyome took it. He stared at it a moment, not sure whether he was meant to read it now or save it for later. He wasn't sure what to expect and wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"Take it home with you," Fubuki said. "It's time to eat anyway. I'm hungry. See ya!"
He picked up his pens and the used-up sticker sheets and sauntered off without even a wave. Manjyome watched him go until he'd vanished around a bend in the road. It was only after he was certain he couldn't see so much as a glimpse of Fubuki's shirt through the trees that Manjyome turned around and walked back to the Osiris Red dorm.
He was late for dinner. The building was oddly silent with everyone gathered in the dining room instead of lurking about in their dorms, doing whatever it was they did in their free time. Manjyome avoided going straight to the dining hall - let Juudai eat his dinner; he didn't care - but instead went up to his room so he could have some privacy. He told himself that he was tired of being around other people all day and wanted some time to himself, but as soon as he got to his room, he flopped down on his bed and began to read his letter.
Manjyome - Thanks for being there with me today. It makes me happy to have someone like you who does stuff like that with me just because you like me. You're a great guy, you know that? You've got a ton of courage, you've got attitude, you've got style. I really like being with you, and I'm glad I have to stay an extra year, because I'll bet there's no one in the pro leagues like you who won't mind taking a whole day just to sit in the grass and write love letters. You know what? You are awesome, and I...
Manjyome sighed and closed his eyes. He'd wanted a love letter. He had one now.
There was a window open in the Obelisk Blue dorm, and beyond that window, a tired student was getting ready to fall asleep on the night before exams started. He snuggled down under his blankets and closed his eyes, thinking of little more than how happy he was and how there was only one thing he could think of that would make him happier. He almost didn't hear it when something blew in through his window and came to rest on his pillow with the softest whisper of paper against cloth. Fubuki opened his eyes and picked up the paper airplane, unfolding it to see whose handwriting was on it. He looked, and he smiled. He closed his eyes again and pressed his cheek to the paper.
"Manjyome," he murmured softly, and then his waking thoughts drifted away like a paper airplane on the breeze.