A/N: When was the last time that I wrote a pure fluff for ET? Somehow, the fics always end up being narrated seriously, even having sad endings. So for today's super delayed request/gift grant, I shall attempt to produce fun, fun fluff/mush overdose. Pwamis, I'm getting way too staid for my genre specialty hehehe.
Disclaimer: Friendster is not mine. So is CCS. The usual.
Even with the cards returned to their rightful confinement under the new mistress's power, fifteen-year-old Hiiragizawa Eriol was still a busy, busy young man. He was a full-time high school student, taking up advanced subjects in Tomoeda University, to his teachers' awe and his classmates' horrification. From seven in the morning to seven in the evening, he was surrounded by books, lectures, and term papers.
Hours onwards. In the comforts of his almost Spartan living quarters amidst the long, hollow hallways of his almost empty mansion, he was still surrounded by books, doing his assignments. And when there was still time left and sleep wouldn't come, he would busy himself with more books, taking in as much supplemental learning he could get for lessons that he wouldn't take up until the next semester.
Indeed, he was a very, very busy man.
Naturally, Tomoeda's most sensitive young woman, lovely Daidouji Tomoyo, was able to take notice of this. She had always been particularly perceptive towards the behavior of her friends, but somehow the one that takes her attention the most was the London gentleman whose idea of a conversation was "Good afternoon, you look well. Oh, there goes the bell, I'm late for Logic. It was nice to see you, good day." Of course, him being formerly involved with Kinomoto Sakura-chan's card-capturing abilities (giving her even more chances to sew pretty, pretty clothes for her best friend) made her even more sympathetic towards him.
But mostly, the reason why she hatched a plan to get him to become less anti-social was based on the fundamental human nature called boredom. Sakura-chan had long learned how to refuse her dressmaking obsession with a polite and apologetic 'no', to her boyfriend Li Syaoran's relief.
Thus, it was now considered legal to shift all her focus on the main man who built a wall around himself using dog-eared pages of library books.
So that afternoon, she was seated by the bench of the Philosophy Building, waiting for him to emerge from his last class that evening. She tried to ignore the fact that most of the students seated in benches near her were lovers embracing each other, floating in seventh heaven, or whatever they call that dreamland. She couldn't relate to their euphoria; she didn't have anyone special in her life right now, if she wouldn't count her one-way affection for her favorite male musicians and composers.
Her hand reached inside her bag, intending to take her cellphone out, but instead, her fingers brushed against the familiar leather case of her video camera.
A sigh escaped her. Those were the good ole days, when she would sneak out of the mansion, bringing her video camera and her Sakura costume, determined to capture all those yummy Sakura moments. Her mother said that she created quite a collection of Sakura-ness, but she knew better—her mother was probably regretting that she didn't have the idea herself back when Aunt Nadeshiko was alive, so now she had to be satisfied with a picture only.
Li Syaoran, on the other hand, was attempting to close a deal with her, purchasing all the Sakura series, Seasons 1-3. Perhaps, the only other biggest Sakura fan she knew aside from herself was him, so she actually lowered the initial price she gave him. Kindred spirits aflame.
Her train of thoughts was derailed by the rush of students from the building. Quickly, her lilac eyes scanned the crowd for him.
The voice from behind startled her. She turned around and smiled tentatively at the speaker. "H-Hi!"
At first glance, the black coat and the midnight blue hair would easily blend in the obscurity of the early evening. His quiet, reserved demeanor made him even more a nocturnal chameleon. He was like a shadow that moved in its own pace quietly, not asking for any attention, and in return, could make its way to own path to darkness in peace.
Yet up close, it was impossible not to look at him. His height and built was not towering, but she still have to tip her chin up to gaze at him in the eye. The glasses bordering his deep, cerulean eyes were hypnotic, and his face was very…interesting. His face was not like those of commercial model hunks, but the way his face was etched spoke of sagacity. It spoke of wariness too, as she had heard from Syaoran that Hiiragizawa Eriol possess the memories of the greatest mage in the world who knew almost everything about the world, and was not clueless of its own ugliness.
"You are…waiting for someone?" he asked, snapping her out of her daze. She nodded slowly.
"If…" He stopped, as if debating whether he should voice out his concern. In the end, he continued his sentence. "If the person you are waiting for does not come in ten minutes, please head home already. The night is not safe for an unaccompanied lady." He tilted his head, as if bidding his farewell, and was about to turn around when she spoke up.
"Are you doing anything tonight?" she asked, and a second later, bit her lower lip. Why, that sounded pretty….straightforward.
The same thought must have been running in his mind, since his mouth dropped open, but only for a moment. He quickly recovered his composure. "W-Well, yes, I am planning to start my case study for my psychology, and a paper for trigonometry too…." His frown deepened. "Is there something you want me to do for you?"
Her fingers unconsciously touched her chin. "Er…as a matter of fact, yes." And before she would lose her courage, her hand dug into the sleeve of her jacket and planted a small card on his hand.
Eriol's forehead creased. "This is…?"
"My calling card," she said quickly. "My email address is there. Add me as a friend."
She got a blank look from him.
Sighing, she took her ballpen out and wrote something at the back of the card. "Log in to that site."
He read the hasty handwriting. "Friendster?" Oh, he heard his classmates both in high school and college talk about that, but he didn't even bother to know what it was. He had always held the belief that anything "in" was just popularized junk.
Tomoyo, on the other hand, felt her smile turn into a grimace. For a very knowledgeable scholar, he sure was not very updated with the latest in cyber technology. Once again, she reflected on whether she was really up to the personal challenge she made for her jaded self.
After some pause, he spoke up. "I don't have an account."
"Then make one," she suggested, swimming between giving up and slamming her shoulder bag at his dense head or continuing to stretch her lip muscles to smile at him in saccharine flavor.
At least he was tad an improvement than the dense head she originally thought he was. Catching up with the edge on her voice, he quickly tucked the card into his binder, mumbling, "Yes, yes, I should."
"Should I expect a confirmation email tonight?" she asked.
"Making an account will take up no less than five minutes, Hiiragizawa-kun."
"I…I suppose so." He would just have to schedule his Aenid literary criticism for another day. Anyway, this would only happen for tonight.
"I'm checking my inbox tonight. Good night, Hiiragizawa-kun," she bade, smiling at him for the first time in the whole conversation.
Eriol watched her walk towards the nearby limousine, where the raven-haired woman was quickly surrounded by her bodyguards. "What the hell…had just happened?" His eyes darted down at his binder. "Ah Kami-sama…"
"Master, it's a miracle! It's a hallucination!" squealed Akizuki Nakuru the moment she walked into his library holding his evening snacks, and found him in front of his computer, surfing the Net. "You are online!" She knew her master preferred his dusty books to copy-pasting from pages Google-searched, and would only use the computer for word processing.
"An assignment," he said simply.
She peered behind his shoulders, eyes widening. "Ooh! Friendster! Amazing!" She looked at him, grinning. "Will you add me too, Master?"
He blinked. How come everyone else he knew had an account in this community? What did it possess to gain such following? He peered at the happy face icon of the website. Could it be possible that this was just a cover-up for a cult? Or a recruiting agency for cyber wizards that wish to take control of all mankind?
Suddenly, he didn't like the smirk of the icon anymore.
"Well, do you have an account already?" she asked curiously.
He brushed the bangs of his hair back. No, no, he was thinking too much. His Clow Reed persona had taken to extreme paranoia again. But still, he loathed the happy face. "I am…going to inquire for an account—"
"Sign up!" Nakuru pushed the left click on the button, and he helplessly watched the main page disappear, replace by the loading registration form.
There was no going back now. He was going to make his account. Now.
"OK, you fill up those spaces," ordered the moon servant just as its counterpart guardian came into the room, curious with the longer-than-usual stay of Nakuru in the young master's bedroom.
When it saw the website, its jaw literally dropped. "Nakuru!"
She turned its way. "Suppi!" she cried cheerfully. "Lookie! Master's signing up for Friendster—"
"What monstrosity did you teach our master now?" said the feline, exasperated. "Really, this has gone too far—"
"You know what Friendster is too?" asked Eriol, now less surprised. It was evident that in his self-imposed exile, many unbelievable things could unfold without being foreseen.
"Nakuru FORCED me to sign up, just to increase her friends." The cat groaned. "It's just a waste of time."
"But Kero-chan has a Friendster account! And he has one hundred friends!" pointed the moon guardian out.
"And that was the only reason why I allowed you to manipulate me into signing up," retorted the ebony cat before resting on the computer table.
"Nakuru, what is first-level friends?" asked Eriol while he was filling out the last name field.
"Umm…I don't know. Oh well, what you don't know won't hurt you!" said Nakuru cheerfully. She pointed to the email part. "Friendster will never sell your addresses or send spam. What do they have against spam? It's delicious, especially with lots of catsup!"
Spinel threw her a look of utter despair. "And you're supposed to be the other half of my identity. Why do we have to be SO closely related?"
Eriol quietly filled up all the other fields, but paused on the next question. Spinel peered at the screen. "I am looking for…?"
"I chose all of the above!" said Nakuru proudly.
"Being bisexual has its perks," said Spinel, rolling its eyes.
Eriol moved his mouse and clicked on one option. Nakuru groaned.
"What?" asked the Londoner. He clicked 'Just Looking Around'.
"The least you could do is try to sound enthusiastic about the sign-up, Master," said the red-haired servant, slapping her forehead.
"Fine." He clicked another box. It was Suppi's turn to complain.
"Master, you don't need friends!" For the feline, it ruins the image of its cool and aloof reincarnated-mage master.
Eriol looked at the cat helplessly. "But this is Friendster!"
He clicked on a random box and went to the next question. "There."
Nakuru and Suppi exchanged glances. He clicked on 'Relationships with Men'.
Relationship status. "Single." Eriol blinked when Nakuru clicked her tongue. "Now what?"
His eyes went to the next sentences.
"So, why don't you click yes already?" asked Nakuru. "Why—oh." Her master had opened in a new window the Terms of Service.
"Just to be sure that I wouldn't violate anything," explained Eriol before reading the article.
"And he does that in all his registrations online," sighed the moon servant.
"He's just law-abiding," snapped the sun servant.
After ten years, or so Nakuru says, Eriol typed in the verification code and clicked 'Continue'.
"Okay, now you upload a pic, Master!" said Nakuru excitedly. "This is the best part!"
"I don't have a picture," said Eriol, wincing at the thought of displaying his facial anatomy on the web. He turned to Spinel, whose face was contorted visibly while looking at the screen. "What picture did you place?"
"I placed Mistress Kaho's pic while she was asleep. And Suppi was an instant hit!" exclaimed Nakuru.
"Huh?" Eriol blinked. "Did you tell her that you'll use her picture?"
"She won't mind!" said Nakuru dismissively. "I mean, I don't even think she knows this site."
Suppi, who was still distraught by the memory of emails flooding its friendster inboxes with instant marriage proposals and date invitations, interrupted. "Master, the point is, it's your picture we must worry about."
"I don't have a picture," said Eriol, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Never thought of having a shot of me taken."
"Baby pictures?" tried Nakuru.
"OK, let's just put in a picture of Sponge Bob." And before Eriol could complain, she clicked on the Browse button.
"So now that we have your picture up," said Nakuru when the next page loaded. "You just put in the verification code on that box, and your page is done!"
"Can we do that later?" Eriol checked his watch. Any minute now, Tomoyo may come online already and search for that email from him. "I need to…uh, add a friend."
Gapes from his servants.
"What do you expect?" asked the Londoner, embarrassed. "Of course I should—"
"I thought you did it just for kicks," said Nakuru.
"I thought you did it because of Nakuru," said Spinel, eyes narrow.
"Well, apparently, someone else egged you into doing this." Nakuru's eyes gleamed. "Someone we know?"
Now the Londoner looked a bit uneasy. "Well, yes. Anyway, how do I—"
"Someone female?" pressed the red-haired guardian.
"Drop it, Nakuru," snapped Suppi, although it was a bit interested as to who encouraged their monotonously existing master to open a Friendster account.
"How do I add this email address?" said Eriol, intent on changing the topic. He couldn't exactly decipher why he was reluctant to tell his most trusted aides about how Daidouji Tomoyo was able to make him do this; all he knew was he wanted to keep the fact that she managed to make him do something outside his usual itinerary without so much as breaking a sweat.
"Well," said the scarlet-head Akizuki, relenting, "you click on that button, and then you write her email address."
"OK," said the mage, obediently doing what she said.
"How did you know it was a 'her'?" asked Suppi, although it knew that Nakuru was, of course, right.
A triumphant smirk crossed her face. "He did what I said, right?"
"Now what?" asked Eriol, watching the screen load another page. "Will the confirmation email come—oh no."
"Oh yes!" Nakuru's eyes twinkled as she stared at the screen. "See, Suppi? I was right!"
The feline gaped at the thumbnail of the lovely raven-haired woman with a smile that could deprive a planet's supply of oxygen if she only bids so. "The card mistress' best friend?"
Eriol wondered whether the effort of fighting off the colors racing on his cheeks was really worth it at all. Deciding it was a lost cause, he turned his attention to finishing the add-a-friend process.
"Now the system would inform Tomoyo-chan about your
request," said Nakuru. "And all you have to do is wait. Or, you can edit your
profile and provide more elaborations."
"You know, like your favorite pastimes and stuff!"
The Londoner shook his head.
"Oh well," shrugged Nakuru. She shouldn't have expected too much from him. At least he had taken the initiative to do something other than read books. It was good enough for her.
The next evening, Eriol was not surprised when he saw the familiar head-turner in front of his campus evening, waiting for him silently. And like how he always sees her, she was unaccompanied. It was unexpected for someone with brains and beauty, and an inheritance to boot, but then again, his ability to judge human behavior was rusty due to his seclusion. She may not be as outgoing and sociable as he initially presumed based on what he recalls of her from four years ago.
Her eyes spotted him this time. They lit up, and then suddenly, she was on her feet, tugging on her shoulder bag and hurrying towards him. To his amazement, grace never left her movement even once. It was her birthright too, perhaps, along with that Daidouji determination set firmly on her soft lilac eyes.
And he read that she was going to use that whopping grit on him tonight.
"I have received it," she said. If she was gloating, he didn't comment. He merely guided her into one of the benches, maintaining his silence,
"Thanks, Hiiragizawa-kun," she said, smiling once more. He found himself smiling back too. It was impossible not to—she was lovely, but when she smiles, she was ethereal.
"Although it never occurred to me that you like Sponge Bob."
He winced. Oh yes, he nearly forgot about the picture. "I was in a hurry," he admitted. "Nakuru picked out the picture."
"Hmm. And is it true that Sponge Bob is looking for male lovers?"
"I was in a hurry too."
Her smile faltered. But only a little, because her determination came back again. "Well tonight, I want to read a mail from you."
"Huh?" The proverbial question mark was written all over his face.
"Friendster has a mail service, you know." She flipped her hair over her shoulders. "Use it. I'll wait for your mail."
"What will I write about?" he asked, frowning deeply.
She looked at him in disbelief. "Well, you can tell me about what happened to you today."
"Nothing much happens to me. It's school and house everyday for me."
"Well then, tell me something about that too." Tomoyo shrugged again. "Just tell me what you feel like saying."
She made it sound more difficult for him. Scratching his temple, he asked, "Why should my affairs interest you so much all of a sudden?"
Tomoyo paused, and then smiled mysteriously. "I have a wide range of interests, that's all."
She received a blank look from him.
Frankly, she was half-expecting that Eriol would not take her seriously and ignore her request. Which explains why she suddenly broke into a delighted smile when she visited her inbox last night. He did as he was told; he made an account and invited her. It was a common knowledge that people like Hiiragizawa Eriol would not allow himself to be bothered by trivial little things like that.
But he did.
And secretly, she was touched. All her life, it was always her who would do the giving; she was yet to feel how it was like to have other people do something beyond the extra mile just to please you.
And what Eriol did was exactly that, and words couldn't explain how pleased she was.
But the thrill was fast returning to annoyance, especially when she realized from his actuations that he was just forced to do them. And for whatever reason, it was beyond her personal comprehension.
She got up, annoyed. "I want to read something tonight from you, Mister. Good night." She marched away, her not-so-known temper wanting to explode on his face.
Women do not demand, they just ask for too much. Eriol watched her walk off, hair flying in perfect timing with the swaying of her hips. Even when angry, she was still poised. Despite himself, he had to smile at that.
However, he still had one glaring concern. One night spent on her whims was acceptable, considering that they were not really strangers to each other. But would he be willing to give another night for her?
His gaze went down to his binder, pondering on the situation. He was especially protective of his privacy, and he wanted everyone to respect that. His way of informing everyone this was avoiding all kinds of contact with the people around him. Aside from official academic matters, he would rarely speak with his classmates and professors alike.
And there was also the matter of her ordering him around. He had always done the manipulating around, so it was not too easy for him to accept that he would be commanded by a mere woman who just happened to appear one night to talk to him into something he wouldn't normally do.
Her face came into his mind once more. Groaning, he picked up his things and headed back to his house.
Tomoyo gazed at the clock, and then back at her computer. She picked up the mouse, and then sighed. Curiosity was close to killing her already. Did he write her a mail? Or this time, she pushed her luck too much? Asking him to do something he wouldn't do for anyone else was one thing, but asking him about events related to his personal life…that was too much, indeed.
She rested her head on her elbows. Well yes, that was a bit of a mistake too. Why didn't she realize that Hiiragizawa Eriol was not like the other ordinary people she deals with everyday? He keeps his life as his own, and it was all that matters to him.
He has his own intentions—things she knew she would not understand, and he has his own purposes in life—reasons that may be harder to accept than his already previously revealed reincarnated identity.
She toyed with the mouse cord, biting her lower lip. She should probably apologize for being so prying. From there, she would decide on whether she should stop pestering him already.
Just then, her instant messenger beeped.
A new message from Friendster.
Her eyes lit up.
Eriol re-read his typed message. It took him a little while to finish it, but it took far longer for him to finally decide that spending some time to write this would be morally right, since it would make her happy without hurting anyone (including himself) too much.
Although it still boggles him as to what joy she derives from focusing her attention at him.
Today, our papers in Literature Appreciation were returned. Mine was marked with 100, although I doubt whether my teacher really read it. Actually, it was Nakuru who wrote the paper about my comparison of Virgil's Aenid to Homer's works, and she instead wrote about instant brownie mixes sold in grocery stores being way too commercialized, therefore sacrificing taste. My professor must have interpreted it intellectually, with symbols and metaphors of desserts and evil manufacturers for the triumphs and failures of these adventurers. I am not sure.
Also, we were assigned in Sociology to conduct some surveys on ethnocentrism. I am about to start with that one after I finish typing this.
The biggest happening for today though should probably go to that incident this evening, when I had angered a lady with my usual way of obliviousness. I hope she forgives me, for I am not very good with dealing with other people. I am at lost as to why she should fuss on me so much, but I feel that if she does have plans for me, I know it would not lead me to something that would elicit regrets.
Or am I too much of an optimist?
Tomoyo was already giggling when she read the end of the letter. She would not have guessed it was from Hiiragizawa Eriol had she not seen the yellow sponge in the picture. It was very proper, yet the prim tone of the narration could not hide his quirky humor. His affection for his housemates was apparent too.
There was still hope for him after all.
Energetically, she typed a reply.
Perhaps you have just overlooked the potential genius slumbering within Nakuru-san's body. Civilization's most intelligent sons and daughters often turn out to be the people least expected a.k.a. the 'idiots'. Perhaps, you have a prodigy in your hands—take care of dear Nakuru-san.
I don't have Sociology in my course syllabus, so I can't help you with anything except to pray that you will finish your assignment without much hassle for you and for your teacher as well, who has to struggle with the unbelievable depths of your reports and research.
And as for the lady you fret so much about, don't worry. She has forgiven your lack of awareness, for sure, or she would not survive the world she would have to share with men.
Good night, Hiiragizawa-kun. Your letter made me smile.
……………………………………Moth to a Flame
Part 1 of 2
For Shalafi. Belated Happy birthday and Merry Pasko to you hehehe. Did I succeed in making fun fluff, or was my Muse not influential enough? Wakekeke! Gomen then, since I am in the FOURTH restructure of my delayed Christmas gift for rabid ET friend, kyte-chan, and it's not cheery. The fic must still have the effect on me ehehe.