Author's Note: Hi, all. I'm sorry this took so long. I've had hefty chunks of it written for months, but trying to do justice to a couple that really doesn't go for conventional happy endings wasn't easy. (Then I finally realized that I can't imagine how the author is going to produce a plausible happy ending for them in the manga series, either, which made me feel much better.) I've had fun writing this little series, and I hope you guys enjoy reading the final chapter!
Kyohei was hovering outside Sunako's door. Nobody would describe him as a particularly sensitive young man, but even he couldn't miss the black waves of misery radiating from Sunako's room. Ninety percent of him wanted to flee the scene, but the remaining ten percent was telling him quite sternly that it was past time for him and his unhappy housemate to have a Serious Talk. Squaring his shoulders, he knocked.
There was a shuffling noise—the waves of misery got steadily stronger—and the door opened a crack. He could just make out Sunako's left eye, shooting out a death ray of gloom. "Er…" He managed. "Um… hey. H-how's it go…"
The door started to close again. Clearly, this was no time to be wishy-washy.
"Wait," Kyohei's hand shot out. "You—you don't need to go to that party tonight," he blurted out, pushing the door open further and squeezing his way inside…only to stop short at the sight of Sunako wearing the most ridiculous dress he'd ever seen, a rose-colored monstrosity that strongly resembled a ruffled blancmange, looking as tragic as a girl wearing head-to-toe pink frills could look. Despite his nervousness, an involuntary snicker emerged.
Unfortunately for him, Sunako possessed the unique ability to switch from abject misery to murderous rage in roughly 0.02 seconds.
"Die, Creature of the Li—", she hissed, hair standing on end and twin flames of rage lighting her eyes, her fingers curling as she prepared to attack. Then his statement seemed to filter through. "Wait. I don't have to go?"
Kyohei uncurled himself the defensive position he'd automatically assumed. "Er... yeah," he said. Looking at anything but the girl in front of him, his ears turning crimson, he explained: "I… found some cash… and, ah, pre-paid the rent. So… you don't need to go for our sake. You can just do your usual Halloween thing." He glanced at her from underneath his lashes. "Y'know. Be in here. By yourself."
There. He'd said it. Now he was planning to go straight upstairs and lock himself in his room until he stopped blushing, which ought to happen sometime around early January, give or take a week or two.
"I--I really don't have to go?" Sunako asked slowly, her mind trying to comprehend this unprecedented turn of events. "I… don't have to wear this dress?"
Sunako was having some trouble. For a smart girl, she wasn't particularly quick on the emotional uptake, and this really wasn't the kind of thing she handled well. But, dim as her comprehension of basic manners was, she understood that she owed Kyohei a serious debt of gratitude. Taking a deep breath, Sunako did her best, stammering a little. "Er… well, if I d-don't have to go anywhere, then would you… would you like to j-join my Halloween party?" She groped for something else to give him. "I- I cooked! There are cookies and chocolates and a cake shaped like a head on a stake…"
If she'd looked up just a fraction higher, she might have seen the look of goofy joy cross Kyohei's face at her invitation (followed by an expression of queasiness at this demonstration of her cake decorating skills). "Okay," he said nonchalantly, aiming—unsuccessfully—for cool. "I guess. Got nothing better to do."
Sunako twitched a little, making all of the ruffles of her dress tremble. "Fine," she muttered. "Well, uh, I'll just light my Jack-O-Lanterns, and I'll start the movie. It's a Taiwanese import—something about gigantic man-eating rodents."
Kyohei noticed something on her hand as she reached for the box of matches on the table. "What's that?"
Did she truly want to share this—her most beloved, hard-won possession—with one of the Creatures of the Light? She'd already shown it to Hiroshi-kun, naturally, but her inanimate friends were a safe audience. On the other hand, out of the four boys in the house, Kyohei was… well, if not precisely understanding about her tastes, certainly the least likely to run away in tears. Biting her lip, she made up her mind—this was too incredible to keep to herself, and he had saved her Halloween. Her eyes glowing, Sunako tilted her hand towards Kyohei. There was a large, extraordinarily ugly ring with a dome-shaped filigree ornament on her finger.
Kyohei felt his breath catch. This… this couldn't be the world's ugliest engagement ring, could it?
"It's a poison ring," Sunako whispered reverently. "It belonged to one of the Borgias."
Kyohei nearly fell over. "It's a what? Where the hell did you get it? Why's it so ugly?"
"It is not ugly," Sunako scowled at him. "It's beautiful. See this catch? It makes the top of the ring flip open, so poison could fall out into somebody's wineglass. Nakao gave it to me." At the mention of Nakao, the force of her scowl increased approximately one thousand percent. "Had to work my ass off for it, too."
She had to… Kyohei's mind reeled. Clearing his throat, he croaked, "You had to work for it? Doing what?"
Sunako shuddered at the memory. "Nakao's a fashion designer. He's doing a Gothic Lolita line, and he wanted me to model for him. Told him no, but then I noticed his ring…." She trailed off as she stared at the ring. "He said his dad is a collector. We agreed to trade—I did the photographs, and he gave me the ring. The last session was yesterday." She looked up at Kyohei, and his breath caught a little at how happy she looked, despite the pink ruffles. "See? I already loaded it," she confided. "Found some rat poison in the basement."
Kyohei stared at her, watching as she extended her pale hand for his examination. She was totally demented, and dressed in a dress that looked like a tea cosy, and the ring on her hand probably had enough rat poison on it to kill everyone in the house… but she was smiling her lovely, dangerous, rarely-seen smile, and he lost his head.
He dipped his head and pressed a soft, fleeting kiss on her lips. Then he leapt back, hoping for a decent head start if Sunako got homicidal.
Sunako froze, making a slight wheezing sound. Kyohei winced. Dammit, he was too young to die.
She tried to speak, failed, and tried again. She eventually managed a faint "…wh-why…?"
Kyohei kept a nervous eye on the poison ring. "It, uh, seemed like a good idea at the time?" he offered weakly.
Sunako's mind was trying to process this new development. Her eyes looked a little swirly, and actual smoke seemed to be coming out of her ears. Unable to function, she collapsed in a quivery heap. Luckily, the sofa was there to catch her.
Kyohei held his breath and waited for death to arrive.
…and waited some more.
He was still wary, but Kyohei's spirits rose as the seconds ticked by and Sunako didn't A) try to kill him, and/or B) lock herself in a coffin. Sure, she hadn't exactly thrown herself into his arms, but all things considered, they weren't doing too badly. Keeping a weather eye on the girl on the sofa, Kyohei picked up the box of matches and finished lighting the candles in her dozens of carved pumpkins, giving her time to recover. By the time he'd finished, Sunako had managed to sit up, bracing herself on shaky arms. Cautiously, he sat down next to her on the sofa—maintaining a prudent distance—and looked at her out of the corner of his eye.
She was sheet-white and twitchy, but she still looked fully human, which was more than he would have dared hope for. Kyohei firmly clamped down on the huge smile that threatened to break out across his face and reached for the remote to the DVD, trusting that the on-screen carnage would soothe her.
Hell, if the movie was gory enough to really perk her up, he might even try to put his arm around her.
…then again, he decided, eyeing the ring on her finger, he might leave that for another day.
He didn't want to rush her, after all. They had all the time in the world.
ooooo The End! ooooo