Title: Sweeter Than Chocolate
Authors: Buffybot76 & Sesshiyuki
Emails: email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: Kuwabara is convinced he knows the identity of Keiko's Valentine! But who will Keiko really give her gift of chocolate to?
Disclaimer: We do not own the characters of Yu Yu Hakusho. Dammit!
Keiko Yukimura stood outside the window of the Sakura Candy store, eyeing the various types of treats on display. Beside her, a young light green haired girl also looked over the chocolate candies, every once in a while glancing at her brunette companion in curiosity. But Keiko was too intent on the candies' sales price to notice.
"Only 2000 yen! We'd better hurry, or a crowd will beat us to the candy!"
As she dashed inside, Keiko did not notice Yukina's confused face. Once inside, Keiko released the young Koorime's hand, which she had taken in order to hasten her friend along. Approaching the display, Keiko began mulling over the vast choice of chocolates at her disposal. She wondered which kind would be the best for the purpose she had in mind. All of them looked so inviting. But which was the right one. Which one would he...
"Keiko-san? What exactly are we shopping for?" Yukina asked, tactfully trying to make known her ignorance of the human ways.
Keiko turned toward her friend with an apologetic look, "Gomen, Yukina-san, I totally forgot that you're not used to this sort of thing." Keiko said, pulling her friend within closer speaking range so that nobody else would hear. "It's tradition for a girl to buy chocolate for a boy who she li- er, thinks highly of." Keiko whispered, leaning close.
"Oh, then I'd like to buy some for Hiei-san and Kazuma-san... Would it be too much trouble?" Yukina asked, looking over the assortment of candy.
"Uh... Yukina... Not, like in that way... the other way ... um," she paused as Yukina's confusion grew deeper and whispered again into the Koorime's ear.
Yukina's confused expression faded as a smile spread across her pretty face. "Oh, Keiko-san, that is wonderful! Have you told mmphg." Yukina's question was cut off by Keiko's hand as Keiko quickly glanced around the store to make sure no one had overheard. Sighing in relief when she saw that there was nobody she knew within the store, Keiko lowered her hand from Yukina's mouth as she turned back to the small ice demon.
"I'm sorry, Yukina-san. It's just that... this person doesn't know yet how I feel about him... so, I don't want it getting back to him before I have the chance to tell him myself."
With wide eyes, perhaps that felt their friend's predicament, Yukina agreed not to tell a soul. Other customers were starting to fill the room. Quickly, the girls picked out their chocolate and paid.
Exiting the small shop, Keiko walked with Yukina back to Genkai's temple where Keiko bid her friend farewell before making her own way home. She was halfway there when suddenly, a couple of boys who appeared to be a few years older than herself, stepped from an alleyway to block her. She gasped, taking a hesitant step back, only to bump into another boy who had come up behind her. Keiko trembled, her hands clutching her bag of chocolates, as she looked for a way to escape, but found none.
Just before Keiko was deliberating on whether to slap the leader--the teen advancing upon her with the most not so innocent smile--the choice was made for her. Instead of a slap, however, it was a fist. "What do you think you bastards are doing?! Unfortunately for you, you've been caught on the wrong territory, on the wrong day."
Keiko's entire body visibly sagged in relief at the gruff voice. The other two would be assailants turned tail and ran after seeing their leader knocked flat by none other than Kazuma Kuwabara. Keiko fought to catch her runaway heart as it felt like it was about to pound free of her chest.
"Thanks, Kuwabara. That's twice now you've saved me from punks like that."
In the background, said punks ran off into the sunset, the three members of Kuwabara's gang hot on their tail.
"Hey, I always look after my friends," Kuwabara said, looking at her fondly. "Anything for Urameshi's girl, ne? So, What'cha doing? Shopping?"
Keiko's face went blank at the title that Kuwabara insistently continued to bestow upon her. She sighed heavily, knowing it would do no good to deny it. Her thick headed friend would believe what he wanted. Which was fine. There was no way to change his mind, even if she wanted to. Closing her eyes a moment in order to regain her composure after her little encounter, Keiko was taken by surprise when the paper bag was snatched from her hands. Eyes flying open, Keiko looked up to see Kuwabara smiling playfully as he looked into the bag.
"Hey, Keiko, there's chocolate in here. Bet you're plannin' on givin' it to Urameshi, aren't ya!"
'He'll tell the others.' Keiko's irrational urges screamed for her to grab the sack to hide her red, mortified face, and run. Of course, it was silly. Kuwabara was just a friend, but... she didn't want him to blab his observations to their mutual friends.
Instead, Keiko put on a fake front of irritation as she snatched the bag of sweets back. "That's none of your business, Kazuma Kuwabara." She said, her tone clipped before softening considerably. "Look, thanks for the help. But I really need to get home. My parents are probably worried to death by now. I'll see you at school, okay?"
Kuwabara nodded as he watched Keiko race away clutching her precious bundle, a smug smile coming to his face. 'Huh, I wonder if Urameshi knows.' he thought, tucking his hands into his pockets as he walked on down the sidewalk.~*~
The door was opened by the sweet, if oblivious, Shiori Minamino. "Ah, you must be Shuichi's friends. Please come in."
"Thank you." Yusuke and Kuwabara chorused in cadence. Something about the woman just inspired politeness.They expected to find Kurama in his room, but instead found a mess.
With wide eyes, Yusuke and Kuwabara followed the trial of chocolate candy wrappers strewn everywhere. On the floor... on carefully oiled furniture... on the bed...
"What the hell happened in here? Did a tornado come through or something?" Yusuke asked, a look of awe etched across his face.
The two shocked teens looked around the thoroughly trashed room, which, under normal circumstances, was usually kept clean by the red headed kitsune. Though, without Kurama there at the moment, clean order had disintegrated into chaos. It was on their second cursory glance around the room that they managed to make out the figure sitting on the floor, nearly covered completely by the pile of candy wrappers that lay scattered about him.
With a loud belch that made even Kuwabara flinch, Hiei looked up from his sugary feast to arch an eyebrow at the newcomers. "About time the two of you got here, now if that baka fox would just stop wasting my time..."
A tense silence followed this declaration. 'After all, what is there to say,' Yusuke thought ruefully, "Hiei! I didn't know you liked sugar... Sweets... don't fit your personality." or "Does Kurama know you're destroying his room with your little chocolate revendezous?" 'Right, he'd knock my head if I said that. Of course, normally, I wouldn't care and say it anyway.... but, I don't want Kurama's mom to come upstairs... Where is Kurama, anyway? He's NEVER late...'
It was at that moment that the front door to the Minamino residence was heard opening, drawing Kuwabara and Yusuke back to the top of the stairs. Looking down, their eyes nearly bugged out of their heads at the sight which greeted them.
"Err.. Need a hand, Kurama?" Kuwabara managed as Kurama finally made it to the room. The sixteen year old youkai/human wore an expression of ill concealed strain. In his arms, fingers, and even hair, (read: every available space of his body) were chocolates. Many, many chocolates. Some fell from his arms, bouncing haphazardly on the tatami mats.
Kurama wearily scanned the room until finally seeing Hiei. "Oh good, you ate them all. Here's the next load..." Having done so, he passed half of his burden to Yusuke, and half to Kuwabara. All three teens comically collapsed, Kurama from exhaustion, the other two from the weight. The chocolates scattered madly across the room, with a life of their own, and Hiei grumbled. Now he had to move, if he wanted to eat them all.
Yusuke and Kuwabara managed to stagger back to their feet once they had relieved themselves of the chocolate. They both glanced down at the exhausted kitsune, then back at one another as identical smirks emerged on their faces, followed soon after by amused chuckles. Kurama had always been a favorite with the girls. Behind the laughing pair, Hiei continued to munch on some chocolate kisses.
Yusuke shook his head. "I don't know what the big deal is about getting chocolate. If you ask me it's pretty stupid."
"That's because no girl would waste their chocolate on you, Urameshi, unlike I, the great Kazuma Kuwabara!"
"Yeah, right. You couldn't get a girl to buy you chocolates if you paid for them, Kuwabara."
Both began glaring at one another, faces blustering as they normally did when having one of their verbal fights. "Well, I'm number one of Sarayashiki Junior High! There'll be girls lined up in the corridors waiting to give me chocolate!" Kuwabara declared.
"In your dreams!"
"Shut up over there! I can barely hear myself chew!"
Both boys turned instantly toward the glaring fire demon, who had paused mid-chew to berate the two child hood rivals-turn-friends.
"Eat your chocolate, like a good shrimp." Kuwabara shot back.
"Hn." Was Hiei's indignant reply before he continued to do just that.
"Anyway... I was just pulling your chain, Urameshi... Guess who I saw buying chocolate downtown?"
Yusuke arched an eyebrow. "Who?" he asked in a suspicious tone.
"Keiko, of course! You know, your girlfriend?"
Yusuke rolled his eyes, "Oh, for the love of- for the last time, Keiko's not my girlfri- did you say she bought chocolates?"
"She tried to hide them, but yeah. There were chocolates." Kuwabara grinned goofily.
It was about this time that Kurama was beginning to rouse from his state of unconsciousness.
"Umpharghh...is the chocolate gone...?" he moaned.
His question went unanswered as Yusuke and Kuwabara continued their discussion concerning Keiko and her newly purchased chocolate and Hiei continued to stuff his face.
"I'm telling you, Urameshi, you better start paying attention to Keiko's feelings more!"
"Ah, what are you talking about, Kuwabara. If Keiko wants to buy me chocolates, then that's her problem. I didn't go and tell her to do it."
"I almost pity the human," said Hiei between bites.
"Now, Hiei... Yusuke and Keiko are quite obviously meant to be together..." Kurama suddenly said, apparently over his bout of weakness.
Hiei shot a sour look in the red head's direction before stuffing another chocolate morsel in his mouth.
"See? Kurama agrees with me!" Kuwabara crowed.
Yusuke only grumbled and crossed his arms. "Whatever. Now why did you drag us all here, anyway, Kurama?"
"May I ask a favor of you, Yusuke and Kuwabara? As you see," he gestured to the room. They blink uncomprehendingly. "I have a bit of a problem.... Would you possibly get rid of this chocolate? It's not fair to Hiei, having to eat all of it... And I don't want to waste them. They are, after all, gifts."
Yusuke's eyes nearly bulged from their sockets. "You mean to tell me you want us to eat all of that?!"
Hiei glared at Kurama's words and proceeded to try and grab all the chocolate. "Mine..." he muttered viciously.
"Err... Just... the ones Hiei doesn't get to first..." Kurama amended.
Suddenly, Kuwabara got a brilliant idea. As quickly as he could, he attempted to stuff his pockets as full of chocolate as he could when Yusuke wasn't looking.
Kurama moved to clear off the remaining empty wrappers from his bed so that he could sit down on its edge. Crossing his legs, he leaned back, bracing himself with his arms and continued to watch the other three dispose of the chocolate.
Mrs. Minamino's voice floated upstairs. "Yes, dear, please come in."
"Thank you, Mrs. Minamino. I hope you're doing well?" A feminine voice also drifted upstairs, causing all occupants of the bedroom to freeze.
The spell was broken by the sound of Hiei's belch.
"God, Kurama, just how many people did you invite?" Yusuke hissed.
Kuwabara continued to frantically stuff his pockets full of chocolates as Kurama shrugged.
"I have no idea who it could be, Yusuke. I only invited you three over. It's a girl's voice though, so it's more than likely another of my admirers." he said the last word with a barely concealed note of bitterness.
"Don't worry. If she turns out to be one of your crazy stalkers, we'll throw her out for you." Yusuke assured him.
The door opened then, surprising everyone as the Keiko entered the room. She blinked, staring at the chocolate wrappers, did a double when she saw Hiei... and quickly hid something behind her back.
"Keiko? Uh..." Kuwabara began, seeing the object she'd just tucked behind her. "You know... I should leave... because, uh, yeah, that homework thing! See you guys later, don't have too much fun without me!" The baka finished, directing a wink at Keiko and Yusuke before quickly making his escape.
The other occupants of the room, sans Hiei who was still pigging out, stared at each other.
Yusuke looked about nervously, and then suddenly, there were two pairs of footsteps pounding down the stairs. "WAIT FOR ME, KUWABARA!"
"Obviously not ready for commitment." Kurama murmured.
Keiko shifted nervously, her hands still behind her back as she stared around the messy room. "Um... S-s-so, how are you today, Kurama?"
"Tired, but well. Things always get busy around this time of year... And I trust you've been well?"
Keiko nodded, biting her lips seeing as she didn't quite know what else to say. A long silence occurred, interrupted every once in a while by munching sounds coming from near the window.
Kurama tried to make the girl feel more at ease. Obviously, she had something to say... but what? "Have you come to see Yusuke? If you'd like, I could catch him for you..."
"Actually...I-" Keiko began, but faltered as a panicked look crossed her face. "N-Never mind..." she murmured, making a break for the door. It was as she was racing for the door that Kurama caught sight of what she had been holding behind her.
"Keiko!" he called, causing her to halt abruptly.
Realizing that she had probably given herself away, she turned slowly, both wanting and dreading to see his reaction. Be it rejection, or... shock, or... anger, she would see it through. She winced inwardly as she took in the shock in his eyes, but upon closer inspection, Keiko could also make out another emotion mixed with the shock. Something Keiko couldn't quite put her finger on. Still trying to identify the expression, Keiko jumped when she felt a warm hand close gently around her wrist, bringing the hand which held her gift around in front of her.
Glancing up, Keiko was met with a polite smile. "Please, why don't you stay for awhile, Keiko?"
Keiko nodded numbly, the whole while Hiei sat obliviously on the floor, still stuffing his face.
"Come, sit with me," Kurama said, patting the space on the bed beside him. She complied hesitantly.
Once they were seated, Kurama turned to Keiko. "I don't mean to sound rude, but, why did you come here, Keiko? I know you didn't know that Yusuke would be here."
"Well... I-I thought that Valentine's Day would be a hard day for you... So, I didn't want to give you it when every other girl in town would be giving theirs to you... Because, you're popular Kurama, you really are. And I can't compete with that, Also, I didn't want to bother you at school tomorrow so.. I.."
"Whoa, whoa, slow down, Keiko." Kurama chuckled, holding up a hand to halt the brunette's rambling words. "Now I think I managed to catch a few words you said, but I'm afraid I'm still at a loss. Would you mind terribly if I asked you to repeat that, but at a slower pace?"
"Kurama.. I hope you don't hate what I'm going to say... But I need to get this off my chest." She avoided looking around the room at all those chocolates as she spoke. So many chocolates...
"But.. here. Please, just... let me walk out of this room before letting Hiei devour it like all the others..." With trembling hands, Keiko almost threw the chocolate at him, then rose quickly to leave.
"Impossible.. " Kurama's awe filled voice stopped Keiko in her tracks before she even made it close to the door. "I never thought... I never thought that you would feel the same way... that I feel about you?"
Keiko's entire body stiffened in shock of his words. 'What.... did he... just say?' Turning her head slowly, she managed to glance over her shoulder at the red head who still sat on the edge of his bed, a shocked expression similar to her own visible on his face.
"Huh?" She managed to get the word past the constriction of her throat.
"Keiko... I thought that the chocolate was for Yusuke. Kuwabara seemed positive..."
Keiko blinked, uncertain if she were hallucinating this entire thing, or if Kurama had really just said he felt the same way that she felt. She couldn't possibly have heard right. Not that she'd specified how she felt about him. She'd only given him chocolate... like.... every other girl in rural Japan. The thought left a bitter taste in her mouth.
Somehow she managed to make a comprehendible reply. "When is Kuwabara ever reliable in roma-" she broke off mid-sentence, her face blossoming into a full blush.
"Rom-" Nervous giggling ensued, an attempt to smooth the tension. Keiko looked mortified immediately and stared at the floor. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it that way, really! It's just... Kuwabara doesn't have the greatest luck with love, does he?" Kurama continued.
Fidgeting, Keiko managed to pick her gaze up from the floor long enough to see the amused sparkle in Kurama's green eyes. "Um... no, he really doesn't."
"He'll never come out and tell Yukina his true feelings.. Despite what he says to his friends, and the way he lavishes attentions and gentleness upon our ice demoness, he's never actually admitted his feelings out loud to her. I suppose there is not much difference between Kuwabara and myself in this regard..."
Keiko felt her a tightening in her chest at Kurama's words. Did he already have someone that he loved as much as Kuwabara obviously loved Yukina? How embarrassing for all the girls who had given him chocolate... how embarrassing for her. "Kurama-kun, I... I'm... Gomen, Kurama-kun, if I only bestowed another unwanted gift." she stuttered, turning back around so as not to see the inevitable relief in his eyes at her apology.
For once, Kurama was irritated at the dance of strategy. It wasn't a dance anymore, it was ... a chase! One approaches, the other flees! They were running in circles. Words had failed. Time to try a more direct approach. So, without saying anything, he stood up and approached her silently. Taking her by the shoulders, he turned her so that she faced him before using one hand to tilt her face upward, so she could see his shaking head. Then, he kissed her.
Keiko's eyes widened in shock for the briefest of seconds before fluttering closed just as quickly. A soft sigh emerged from her throat, but was suppressed by the firm lips against her own. Giving in, Keiko leaned into Kurama's form, her arms coming up to entwine themselves around the redheaded kitsune's neck. Kurama's hand cupped her face before letting go to travel over her shoulder, down the length of her back to settle at her waist, discovering the way they molded together so perfectly...
"Mmgth, take it outside," an irritated voice interrupted.
The new couple broke apart abruptly, both their face tinted with embarrassed blushes as they turned to stare at the forgotten fire apparition, who still sat on the floor, pigging out.
Turning back to the girl at his side, Kurama smiled warmly. "I hope you're convinced that the only chocolate I could ever truly accept is your's, Keiko."
Keiko felt tears of happiness sting her eyes, causing the sienna orbs to shimmer with even greater allure. "Oh, Kurama." she whispered, but could not manage to say much else.
Kurama smiled at her gently, and unwrapped Keiko's chocolate carefully, eyes never once leaving hers. Solemnly, he put a piece of the candy on his tongue and savored its sweetness. There was no sound as the couple leaned into each other and kissed again, sharing the chocolate. Together.
This time, when the Jaganshi exclaimed displeasure at their display of affection, neither of them heard.