Title: The Coat
Author: Hawk Clowd
Disclaimer: I don't own them. I don't want them. Really, this shouldn't come as a surprise to any of you. Maki Murakami created Gravitation and, to my knowledge, she owns the rights to the show, the manga, the merchandise, etcetera etcetera etcetera.
Blood Type: Lighter fluid.
Warnings: Zip. Well, maybe some four-letter words. But that's it.
Author's Note: Um. I wrote while I was working at a job I absolutely despise. On a similar note, I'm not overly fond of this fic, although I've recently learned that my own displeasure concerning my work means nothing.
"Your coat is broken."
That statement alone would have compelled me to pause in my typing. Coupled with the speaker's frustrated tone of voice and the presentation of the 'broken' coat, the statement actually made me stop everything and turn to stare. In the doorway stood Shuichi, surprise surprise, glowering at the coat he had draped over his arms. I frowned.
"What the hell do you mean, my coat is broken?" I asked. I made sure to add a level tone of irritation and disbelief to my voice. It was too early in the... Uh... -- I glanced quickly at the clock -- afternoon for this sort of thing.
"The stupid coat is broken!" Shuichi exclaimed again.
There was a beat of silence as I waited for him to go on and explain either why he believed my coat was broken or how he had come to discover such a fact. I did not have to wait long; the guilt, I suppose, plagued him and his tongue loosened quickly.
"I was gonna take it with me when I went out today so I could buy you a new one because your birthday is next week and I didn't think you'd miss it because you never go out anyway but it was to big to put in my bag so I figured I'd just wear it out and stuff, so I started to put it on and it's broken!" he said quickly. His brow furrowed as he gauged my reaction to this news.
I considered the singer's story carefully. My birthday, in fact, had been the day before, but I saw no reason to correct him. Maybe, if I was lucky, he would forget about it entirely.
"What sort of crappy gift is a coat?" I asked at last.
His face fell briefly, but he got over it quickly. "Well... You said you didn't want anything so I thought I'd get you a new coat because your old one was kind of getting ratty looking and now... Now it's broken!"
"My coat is not ratty looking."
"It is, too!"
"Ah." It was not ratty looking, but I didn't really see the need to argue the point any further. Anyway, I liked that coat. I started to turn back to my computer. "How, exactly, is the coat 'broken'?" I asked as I skimmed over the email I had been writing and tried to remember what I'd been trying to say in a sentence that began: 'furthermore, I believe you would find...' Find what? A treasure map? A pot of gold? A small country in need of a new leader? Argh. I deleted the whole sentence.
Shuichi sputtered for a few seconds. "Well, look at it!"
He thrust the garment at me and, with a sigh, I got out of my chair to take it from him. Once I had the coat in my hands, I gave it a cursory examination and then handed it back.
"I don't see anything wrong with it," I told him.
He scowled down at the coat. "But there is! You didn't look!"
"I did look. And I didn't see anything wrong with it."
"Ugh!" I didn't know if the frustrated sound was directed more toward me and my lack of interest or to the coat itself and, quite frankly, I didn't care to find out. Shuichi tried to force the coat back at me. "Put it on and then you'll see! It's broken!"
"I don't want to put it on. It's already warm in here."
I sighed. "If I put it on, will you leave me alone?"
"Yes," he promised, nodding once. I didn't believe him for a second, but I took the coat anyway and slipped it on. Even then, I didn't see -- or feel -- anything wrong with it. I had owned the coat for nearly three years and had practically memorized the feel and the look of it. It fit loosely around my shoulders. The sleeves fell just below my wrists. It was very easy to move in. It was a good coat. I always kept half a pack of cigarettes and a spare lighter in the one pocket, in case I ran out. It was a dependable coat. And, despite what Shuichi said, it did not look ratty.
There was nothing wrong with my coat and I started to tell Shuichi just that, but I made the fatal mistake of slipping my hands into my pockets. The cigarettes were still there, in my right pocket, and, in my left...
I grasped the mystery object and took it out of my pocket. It was a small, wrapped, rectangle box, tied with a silver ribbon. I glanced at Shuichi, whose face was split in a wide, ecstatic grin, then back at the box, and, finally, back again.
"My coat isn't broken," I pointed out petulantly.
Shuichi laughed and poked me in the side. "Open it," he ordered.
"You lied about my coat."
"And about leaving me alone if I put the coat on..."
I hid a small smile in the collar of my coat -- another reason I loved the thing -- and sighed dramatically. Shuichi looked as though he was going to explode.
Well, we wouldn't want that, now, would we?
Having, I felt, drawn out the teasing long enough, I carefully slid the ribbon off of the box and set it aside, then slit and peeled the tape. By this point, Shuichi looked about ready to grab the box from my hands and unwrap it himself, but he restrained himself from doing so. I folded the wrapping paper and, glancing one last time at the singer, opened the box...
...to reveal a pen and pencil set nestled in layers and layers of tissue paper.
Shuichi squirmed and I looked up at him. "Do you like 'em?" he asked. "I got it because I know you like to write by hand before you go type and because you're always complaining that I steal all of the pens and stuff you keep in your desk and you never see them again..."
He had actually been listening to me gripe about my lack of decent writing utensils? I stared at him for a moment, stunned, and nodded. "Yes," I admitted, "they're very nice."
He grinned at me and then twirled around once. "I did good!" He performed a quick victory dance that ended with him bouncing up quickly to kiss my cheek. I swatted him away, more because I could than because I really minded the action, and he laughed.
"I got you a notebook, too," Shuichi told me with a giggle, "but I didn't hide it in any of your clothes."
That statement included two or three suggestive wriggles and one tiny wink, all of which left me with a very good idea of where the second present could be.
"Really?" I asked as I set the box and the contents held therein aside, on my desk. "Then I suppose I should go find the other gift, shouldn't I?"
Shuichi laughed and began to lead me out of my office. "Guess so," he agreed.
That birthday ended up being the least terrible of all the birthdays I have ever had.