Focus Extra: It's the Thought
Echizen's brow furrowed deeper as he continued to peer into the horrifyingly cheerful interior of the candy shop he was standing in front of. Beside him, Momoshiro mirrored his expression since he also realized what they were up against.
Giving him a nudge with his elbow, the second year said, "Hey, Echizen, do we really have to go in?"
Echizen glanced up at him and reminded him, "You said you needed something too, Momo-senpai."
"I know, but not like I can help it! Isn't that the stupid rule? You get chocolate on Valentine's Day so you have to get the same thing for the other person on White Day?"
"Not really. You could get chocolate or better to return the favor, depending on your sentiments." Startled by the sound of the voice behind them, the two boys spun around to come face to face with Fuji.
"Fuji-senpai!" Momoshiro squawked, "What are you doing here?-!"
"For the same reason you're here," he answered easily. His smile widened a little as he addressed Echizen directly, "Buying chocolate for Tezuka, Echizen?"
Never one to forfeit a chance at teasing his kouhai, Momo snickered and supplied eagerly, "He sure is! Isn't that just cute?"
Glaring at him, Ryoma pointed out irritably, "Momo-senpai's buying chocolate for someone too."
"Is that so?" Fuji said with interest, "I see. Eiji did mention that you had a special friend at another school. Is that who you're getting chocolate for?"
Predictably, Momo instantly became flustered and nervous at the mention of his other senpai. "Crap! Fuji-senpai! Please don't tell Eiji-senpai you saw me here!"
The tensai feigned mild confusion. "You don't want Eiji to know you're here, or you don't want him to know you're here to buy chocolate for someone for White Day?"
"Either way, just please don't say anything! I'll never hear the end of it!"
Fuji tipped his head up in mock contemplation. "I don't know. Wouldn't he be very excited and happy if I tell him?"
"Yes but I wouldn't be!" the second year said pleadingly. "Fuji-senpai! Pleeeease?-!"
After carrying out the torture for a few seconds more, the other boy finally emitted quiet laugh and gave him a gentle pat on the shoulder in reassurance. "Don't worry. I won't say anything to anyone."
Momo face lit up with tentative optimism. "Really, Fuji-senpai? You really won't?"
"It's our little secret, I promise."
Visibly relieved, Momo breathed, "Thank you, senpai. I know I could trust you."
"All right, all right. So, shall we go in?"
As soon as they set foot in the shop, Echizen grimaced. He felt almost bombarded with flowery cuteness everywhere he turned. Banners with effeminately fancy designs were dangling from practically every ceiling tile, screaming at him that White Day was approaching, and that THIS item would be the PERFECT gift for THAT SPECIAL PERSON. The freshman looked around the store distastefully. It was almost as if they had stockpiled their arsenal of obnoxiousness just to unleash it completely for special occasions like Valentine's Day and White Day.
"Did you have something in mind?" Fuji was asking him.
Echizen shrugged as he continued to look about him, slightly perturbed that the senior was practically hovering about him. "Weren't you going to get something too, Fuji-senpai?" he said pointedly, hoping that would be enough of a distraction to prevent the older boy from looking over his shoulder the entire time.
"Yes, but I could help you choose something first if you'd like."
"No, thanks. I'll manage."
Echizen doubted his simple words would be enough to dissuade the older boy from his no doubt less than altruistic intentions, but surprisingly, Fuji actually relented easily and directed his attention to Momoshiro instead, who was indeed feeling helpless and was unabashedly showing it. "Do you need help, Momo?" the senior offered.
Momo's gaze began darting all over the place, seemingly incapable of deciding where it actually wanted to land. "I have no idea."
"All right, let's start with, what kind of chocolate does she like?"
Immediately alarmed, Momo cried, "'She'? Who said it was a girl?"
"It's a boy?"
"No! Of course not!"
"But you just said…."
Feeling completely defenseless in his current environment, Momo could only whine, "Look, it doesn't matter, senpai, can you just please…just have mercy? This one time?"
Seeing the desperate, cornered look on the second year's face, Fuji had to oblige, though not without one more chuckle at the other boy's expense.
"All right, putting the gender issue aside," Fuji said, "What kind of chocolate does that person like?"
Momo's eyes darted around again. "I don't know," he replied a brief moment later.
"What kind of chocolate were you thinking of getting?"
"I don't know," he repeated mechanically.
"Mmmm, all right. How about…what color does that person like?"
That seemed to cause Momoshiro to panic even more. "I don't know! I have no idea!"
"It's okay. We'll do this another way. How much were you planning to spend?"
"Um, what's the right amount?"
"I don't think there is a right amount. It really depends on you."
The second year instantly pulled out his wallet and rummaged through it hastily. He frowned at the sad sum of bills he had in his hands, which comprised of his entire allowance for the week. Since he was still dependent on his parents for his weekly allowance, what he had was basically what was given to him for the coming week. He felt even more helpless as he eyed the price tags that were within his view and realized he had very little to spare.
Immediately understanding his expression, Fuji tried to comfort him by saying, "Of course, in the end, it's really the feelings behind the gift that matters, so I'm sure that person will be happy no matter what you get them. As I was saying before, chocolate isn't the only option. In fact, any type of gift would suffice as long as it is chosen and given to the person with the utmost sincerity."
"Wow, Fuji-senpai, that's really nice," Momo said, truly impressed, "Really nice. No wonder you're so popular."
"I am? Thank you."
"That is nice," Echizen parroted thoughtfully. As Fuji was asking Momo those questions, he had also been trying to come up with answers for Tezuka as well, only to find that he wasn't really sure either. The truth of the matter was, he didn't think Tezuka had a preference when it came to chocolate. He didn't think Tezuka was crazy about sweets in general, but in the few instances where he had consumed chocolate, he didn't seem to be that picky about what type of chocolate he ate. As for favorite color, Echizen didn't think Tezuka had one. Or if he did, he had never possessed the need to ask him what it was. And since in terms of the spending limit, he was basically in the same boat as Momoshiro, after hearing Fuji's words, Echizen quickly came to the conclusion that he was probably not going to find anything suitable in this awful place, nor did he really need to anyhow.
Fuji was studying him curiously, his head tilted to the side. "You look like you've come to some sort of decision, Echizen," he stated intuitively.
"That's right. I'm leaving," Echizen announced with satisfaction as he took one final look around.
"Eh?-!" Momo exclaimed in disbelief. "What d'you mean you're leaving?"
The younger boy shrugged. "I don't need anything here."
"How do you know? We barely got here!"
"So? What're you gonna get the captain instead?"
"Don't worry, I have something."
"I want to know what it is!" Momo demanded.
"No. You continue on. See you tomorrow, senpais."
Feeling somewhat betrayed and abandoned, Momo cried, "You damned brat! Hey, Echizen! What about me? I still haven't gotten anything! I thought you were gonna help me!"
Unfortunately, the freshman was already exiting the store, completely relieved that this bit of unpleasantness was soon to be over. At his senpai's words, he simply turned his head and called out over his shoulder, "I'm sure Fuji-senpai will help you find something." He raised his hand in a brief wave as he finished with a nonchalant, "Good luck, senpai!"
Tezuka held up his hand just in time to prevent the small package that Ryoma had tossed his way from hitting his face. "What is this?" he questioned as he stared at the rectangular box in his hands that was wrapped in shiny red foil wrapping paper and a silver ribbon which was tied in a neat little bow.
"What do you think?" Echizen said sarcastically.
"Oh, that's right. White Day."
"Like you really didn't know. It was all over school today."
Tezuka smiled. "Of course I know. I just didn't think you'd actually get me anything."
"I said I would last month, didn't I?"
They were in Tezuka's bedroom again, with the older boy sitting on the floor beside his bed. Ryoma moved past him to plop himself belly down on top of the mattress. He yawned loudly and folded his arms, resting his head on top of them.
Tezuka was still studying the box, a faint smile playing about his lips. "Did you wrap this yourself?" he said shortly after.
"Why? What difference does it make?"
"None. It's nice." Tezuka tilted his head up to meet his eyes. "Thank you."
Ryoma only grunted in reply as he closed his eyes and sighed contently as he relaxed. He heard the sound of the wrapping paper being undone, followed by a brief silence. At the sound of Tezuka's soft chuckle, Echizen mumbled without opening his eyes, "Like it?"
"Yes, but…did you actually open this to see what's inside?" There was more than a touch of mirth in Tezuka's tone.
"Hmm?" the freshman said lazily as he shifted a little to burrow further into the comforter. The familiar scent of Tezuka's bed never failed to make him drowsy with comfort. "Why? It's chocolate, isn't it?"
"It is, but if you had actually opened the package, you would probably have also seen this."
At the sensation of something being held in front of his face, Ryoma cracked open one eye to see what it was. His head then shot up completely at the sight of the card Tezuka was dangling before him. In glittering red ink was written he following:
Happy Valentine's Day, Tezuka-kun!
I hope you can enjoy my efforts!
Nakamura Fumiko, Class 3-D
The words stood out like an accusation. Echizen grabbed the card out of Tezuka's hand and stared at it in disbelief as he quickly sat up. "What's this?"
Not even bothering to smother the laughter in his voice, the young captain answered good-naturedly, "What does it look like?"
Realizing he was caught red-handed, Ryoma scowled down at the card before emitting a resigned curse. "Damn it."
Tezuka chuckled again. "You recycled someone else's Valentine's Day gift. To me, no less."
Directing his scowl at him, Ryoma grumbled, "Yes. That's obvious, isn't it?"
Tezuka shook his head, utterly amused. "How did you get this?" he said, indicating the box of chocolates, which were also very obviously of the home-made variety based on the number of misshapen failures. Sadly, though definite effort was expended by Miss Nakamura, the actual artistry of shaping the cocoa confectionary into aesthetically appealing forms was obviously beyond her means.
"You offered me some, remember? The stuff you brought back on Valentine's Day."
"So you kept them until now to give back to me for White Day?" Tezuka couldn't help laughing.
Growing more annoyed by the second, both at himself for being so careless as to not have even checked the contents of the damned box before handing it out as a gift, and at Tezuka for being so damned amused by the whole thing, Ryoma reached out and demanded, "All right, give it back." He wasn't about to explain that in a repeat of Valentine's Day, he did try to get something store-bought for Tezuka but once again, decided not to go through with it at the last minute. He doubted that lame excuse would help him regain his lost dignity.
Still chuckling, Tezuka replied, "Why?"
"What do you think? Give it back, I'll get you something else."
"No, it's fine. I like it."
"Don't be stupid, why would you?"
"Because it's what you're giving to me for today."
"But it's not even mine. It's this…Nakamura person."
"It is yours. If you had known about the card inside, you would have removed it, wouldn't you?"
"Therefore, this is what you intended to give me for today and I gladly accept. I really like it."
His magnanimous words only caused Ryoma to glower even more. "Hey, are you trying to make me feel bad or something?"
Tezuka cocked his head to the side and smiled. "Not at all. Why? Do you feel bad?"
"You wish," the younger boy shot back grumpily. Returning to his previous prone position on top of the bed, he continued in a brusque fashion, "Fine. Keep it. Hope you enjoy it. Happy White Day."
Though his words were barely intelligible as he muttered them against his folded arms, Tezuka was still able to hear them loud and clear. As he continued to gaze at the younger boy with unconscious warmth in his eyes, Tezuka reached under his bed and pulled out the small box that he had set there this morning.
"Happy White Day to you too," he said gently as he placed his offering next to Ryoma's head.
Lifting his head again, Ryoma stared blankly at the box before him. It was an exact replica of the one he received from the senior a month ago and he had no doubt as to what its contents held.
"You actually made me milk chocolate truffles this time?" he said, sounding almost accusatory.
"That's what you like, right?"
"You said you'll make me that next year."
Tezuka shrugged. "I changed my mind."
Following another brief silence during which he continued frowning at the gift, Echizen finally said in surrender, "What's wrong with you?"
Instead of answering directly, Tezuka got up off the floor and joined Ryoma on the bed, stretching out on top of him so that he could envelope the younger boy completely with his own body.
His body already automatically turning into the embrace, Ryoma gave up completely. Once again, Tezuka was the victor but he couldn't even find it in himself to really be that annoyed about it. In fact, he could barely conceal the warmth in his voice he stated gruffly, "You are such a sap, Kuni-chan."
The only response he got in return was the soft chuckling breath he felt against the crook of his neck.
Author's Note: I know, this was not the fuller update you were expecting, but I just couldn't let White Day pass completely without offering something. Sorry it's a bit late…I actually finished it in time for the actual occasion for once, but of course, as Fate would have it, was having technical problems so I couldn't upload it until now. Sigh.
Anyway, it's complete fluff and gooey sweetness once again, but I daresay you might want to enjoy it while you can because it might be a while before you will get that again. Yes, hint hint hint hint. Thar be storm clouds ahead…bwahahahaha….