White Orchids And Other Colorful Things
Linda/Imprefectlin/Linables

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A/N: Here we go - I succumbed to the temptation to write Kuzco x Malina fic. One thing I can tell you if you're thinking of doing so: they are both a bitch to keep in character in a romance fic. XD I tried my hardest to do so, so I hope that they're at least remotely in character while doing the lovey-dovey thing. Oh, and I also did something else that's difficult for me to do - leave a story at a T rating. XD I usually dive right into lemons like a pool full of chocolate pudding, but I managed to resist. Unless someone requests a lemon, they hey, I'm all over it. But for now, it's rated T for a few blatantly sexual references, because I couldn't completely steer myself away from that. That would be impossible - and way out of MY character.
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Any hot places that were suspected to freeze over before Kuzco graduated school had apparently done so this one fine day – the last day of school for the would-be graduates of Kuzco Academy. The graduation ceremony was scheduled to take place on the following Monday, in three days. Everything and everyone was prepared – including the students. All week they had been exchanging the customary graduation presents among each other, a fact that became painfully obvious when two men came walking up the hill the Pacha's house was on.

The first one walked quickly up the hill and to the door of his temporary home, the other, larger one stumbling a few yards behind him, partially hidden by the huge pile of packages he was carrying. They both entered the house made their way to the room where Kuzco slept. The room was currently filled with stacked boxes, which were to be taken to the palace once their owner (Who undoubtably had not packed the boxes himself) was allowed to move back in.

"Ah! I finally did it!" Kuzco exclaimed, happily flinging his arms into the air as he leaped onto his bed, reminiscent of a boy half his age. "Uh….yeah, you did! And we're all very proud of you! I mean, not Yzma, but I'm not counting her since she's kinda holed up in the lab right now sobbing with a blankie….uh, by the way, where do you want these?" said Kronk, who was still stumbling at the doorway carrying the boxes. "Huh?" Kuzco asked, looking up. "Uh, where do you want the boxes?" Kronk asked again. "Oh, uh, anywhere's okay, big guy. Thanks 'n everything." Kronk deposited the huge pile of boxes on the floor next to Kuzco's bed, bid him goodbye, and left, leaving the emperor-to (Very soon) be looking over the pile.

They were all graduation presents given to him by his admirers, and, considering his status, he had quite a few. He'd been showered with them all day, and once he ran out of ways to carry them, he'd enlisted Kronk's help with transporting them back to Pacha's house. "Hmmm….let's see what we have here," Kuzco said, picking up a box and opening it. He spent the next half an hour doing the same thing over and over – opening boxes, then tossing whatever he found inside into a new box to be taken to the palace.

Once Kuzco had made his way through the whole huge pile, he smiled and reached into his pocket. Out of it he pulled the one present he'd been saving for last – as the old saying goes, the best. Or at least it was based on who'd given it to him – Malina. Kuzco opened the small box and found a small plush squirrel wearing a graduation cap. The note that came with it read; "Well I didn't think it would ever happen – but here you are, graduating with me. Congratulations – I can actually say right now that I'm proud of you, Kuzco. -Malina" Kuzco smiled even wider upon finishing the note, and he hugged the plushie as if it was the girl who had given it to him.

Then he got to thinking – what was he to give her as graduation present? He had been considering it for a long time, and had promised that he'd have it for her that weekend, before the ceremony. He knew that Malina wouldn't think any less of him even if he didn't give her a present. But he felt that giving her something might be just the ticket to get her to finally fall for him – he had also been working up the guts to ask her out officially. The only problem was, he had no idea what to give her. And he didn't know how to find out.

Then, after a few minutes of lying on his bed, it finally hit him. It was brilliant! He would find out exactly Malina wanted as a present. So he quickly ran out of the house and made his way to the park, where he knew Kronk was at the moment - He always fed the squirrels while making small talk with them at this hour. Kuzco found Kronk sitting by tree talking in squirrel-talk with Bucky. "Hey there!" Kuzco said as he ran up. "Kronk! We need to go to the lab, I have a brilliant idea!" Bucky took some nuts from Kronk's hand and ran off up the tree, and Kronk said "Uh-oh….it doesn't involve cheese, does it? 'Cause Bucky was just telling me some things about cheese – it's done some BAD things, you know, cheese!"

Kuzco stared for a moment then shook his head and said, "No, no cheese. Just a potion that can turn me back into a frog for a few hours so I can go find out what Malina wants as a graduation present!" "Hmmm…well, I guess that's okay then. Okay, let's go!" Kronk said, getting up and running to the lab with Kuzco. Shortly after, they re-emerged, having easily swiped the potion and an antidote with Yzma sobbing the corner. Plus, Yzma clutching a pink blankie was a rather unpleasant sight and the two had done their potion-swiping super fast.

Kuzco drank the frog potion, and after telling Kronk to not lose the antidote or else, hopped off. His destination was the house of one of Malina's friends from school – Kuzco had overhead the girls talking about a slumber party they were going to have that night. So he hopped up onto the wall, and peeked in through windows until he found a room with six girls in pajamas sitting together. He silently stayed at the edge of the window so he was out of girl's field of vision but still in hearing range.

"C'mon," he said quietly to himself after a while. "They've gotta talk about girly things they like some time…." And, as if by magic, the next thing to come out of one of the girl's mouths was, "So….did any of you get really awesome graduation gifts?" Another girl answered excitedly. "Well, I did these new earrings! What I really wanted was the gold necklace from the bazaar, but these are nice too." She smiled and touched the large golden earrings she was wearing.

A few other girls shared what they had gotten, then finally someone turned to Malina and asked, "So, how about you Malina? Did you get what you want?" Kuzco perked up his ears and leaned in so he could hear every word she said. "Well….yeah, I got a lot of nice things….but the was one thing that I really wanted that I didn't get." "Well, what was it?" the girls chimed. Kuzco quietly asked the same thing. Malina hesitated for a moment, then opened her mouth to answer. "It was….ah, never mind, it's silly. And no one could get it anyway…." But the girls begged her to tell, so finally she did.

"Well...when I was little, our house had a lot of rare white orchids in the yard. I used to pick them all the time. I loved them – but….then we came home one day and the neighbor's goat had eaten all of them. I was so sad because I'd always wanted to put some in my hair when I graduated school, but now they were gone and the only other place anyone had seen them was on top of Mt. Hightop. And the guy who saw them there is the only one who's ever been crazy enough to try and climb up there."

That was all Kuzco needed to hear. He didn't care about the fact that what Malina wanted was on top of the highest mountain in area – all he cared about was that he finally knew what the perfect present for her was. Despite Kuzco being overly self-centered, childish and generally superficial, he was actually capable of love. He'd actually shocked himself at first when he realized that his attraction to Malina was deeper than an appreciation of her being a "Hottie-hot-hot-hottie".

It had started with the toucan-beak incident, and grown from there. Pretty soon his crush had worked its way up to actual love – and Kuzco knew that when he one day saw Malina having a "bad hair day" – her long, gorgeous tresses looked more like a bird's nest than human hair and Kuzco realized that his attraction to her had not diminished. Not even a little. He'd spent the rest of the time up to this day getting used to that feeling, and growing to like it very much.

So now he hopped off back to the park where Kronk was with the antidote – they had some serious climbing to do.

So early the next day, a human-again Kuzco and Kronk (Accompanied by Bucky, who had tagged along) were sitting in a cart rumbling up a narrow mountain path. Kuzco had taken the cart from Pacha, promising a generous lump of gold once he had access to the royal funds again. ("Aw, c'mon! With what I'll give you can buy two new deluxe model carts!") They'd made it about halfway up Mt. Hightop when they reached a small cave that had no doubt been used to rest in. Despite Kuzco's insistance to go on, Kronk felt sympathetic for the tired llama pulling the cart and stopped to take a break.

So after they'd had a drink and a small meal (Kronk had brough along some of his fabulous home-cooked food) they were ready to go on. But upon glancing upwards and seeing the distance still remaining to the top of the mountain, the llama bounded back down the path at super speed, leaving the two humans and squirrel stranded half-way up Mt. Hightop.

"Oh great!" Kuzco exclaimed, flailing his hands in the air. "Now we've gotta go on foot! It'll take forever! Good-for-nothing scary-cat llama!" He folded his arms and stuck out his lower lip in a pout. "No, it's okay Kuzco! Bucky will think of a way to save us!" Kronk said, spirits not dimmed by the llama mishap. Kuzco just "hmmph"-ed and plopped down indian-style on the ground. Some time passed, Kronk and Bucky chatting in squirrel-talk, then the glorious lightbulb appeared over Kuzco's head.

"I've got it!" he said, shooting up to his feet. "I know how to get us up there! Whooo, go me, go me!" Kuzco did a happy-dance that was only interrupted by his companions asking him exactly what his brilliant plan was. "Okay," he said, sulking momentarily after being thrown off his groove. "You see that tree there?" Kuzco pointed to a leafless but tall tree some ten feet away. Kronk and Bucky nodded in unison. "Okay, there's some rope in the cart. Bucky, you climb up that tree with the rope and hang it on that branch sticking out from the side of the cliff up there. There's another clearing thingy up there, we'll go on foot the rest of the way." He pointed to a single, sturdy looking branch jutting out of the mountain about twenty feet up, with the tip touching the branches of the aforementioned tree.

Kuzco took the rope out of the cart, whined over trying to tie a suitable knot, tossed the rope to Kronk who tied said knot, then handed the rope over to Bucky, who saluted the two and scurried up the tree trunk. A minute later chittering was heard from up high and Kuzco and Kronk looked up to see their little furry friend sitting on a branch way up high in the tree, holding the rope, which was hanging from the branch jutting out of the mountainside. "Alright Bucky!" Kronk shouted, beaming at his squirrely friend.

Bucky scampered over the branch and into the shallow cave that did indeed exist, and Kuzco took a hold of the hanging rope. "Okay, I'd better go first." "Oh, to check the rope, huh?" Kronk said, ever enthusiastic. "No," Kuzco answered as he began to climb up. "Because I don't wanna stare at your butt the whole way up. Plus, I won't crush you if we fall." Taking the typical Kuzco-talk in stride, Kronk just shrugged and followed his friend up the rope.

They made it up to the branch that the rope was hanging from and up over the edge of the path outside the cave shortly, and Kuzco was about to give an encore of his happy dance when Kronk tapped him on the shoulder. "Aw! C'mon, Kronk, how many times are you gonna throw off my groove in one day, huh?" Kuzco sulked. "I'll probably do it a few more times," Kronk said matter-of-factly. "But….you know, I think we'll kinda have to be alive for me to throw off your groove….and uh….is it me or do you feel the ground shaking?"

Kuzco stopped short and raised an eyebrow. He did indeed feel quaking beneath his feet. When it finally dawned on the three friends that the rocky ground they were standing on was about to collapse in an avalance, Kuzco shouted "RUN!" at the top of his lungs, and he, Kronk and Bucky made a mad dash towards the path that continued on towards the top of the mountain.

Panting, they watched as the floor of the cave they'd been standing in collapsed and tumbled down the mountain in pieces. "Wheeeeew…." Said Kuzco as soon as he caught his breath. (Kronk was fanning Bucky to wake him up after the squirrel had fainted) "That was waaaayyy too close. C'mon, I think we can make it to the top pretty fast from here, considering nothing like that happens again." "Yeah, and I hope there aren't any more trees to climb," Kronk added. "'Cause poor Bucky's out cold."

So Kuzco led the way along the path, followed by Kronk who was carrying Bucky. They'd been walking for quite a long time when Kuzco noticed something on the path up ahead – a white orchid. He shouted happily and ran to it, picking it and looking up ahead. It seemed they'd finally made it – there were dozens of orchids lining the path! Kuzco giddily picked a large a bouquet of them, then tied the flowers together. "Hey, Kronk?" he asked, while tying a knot. "Yeah?" came the answer. "Did you remember to save the vase from the cart before we left and it was smashed into a million tiny pieces by falling rocks?"

Kronk stopped short. They'd taken along a vase and a bottle of water so they would have some place to put the flowers where they wouldn't wilt on the way back down, but, having the mind he had, (And that mind being turned upside-down with ideas on how to get up without the runaway llama) Kronk had left it in the cart. He opened his mouth to confess, but just then he heard a stirring coming from his pocket. He looked down, and saw that Bucky was coming to. Stifiling a yawn, Bucky pulled a vase and a bottle of water out of the sizeless, invisible secret pocket all creatures seemed to have behind their backs.

"Uh, yeah, here you go!" Kronk said, taking the items and tossing them to Kuzco. "Yay!" said the aforementioned as he caught the vase and bottle. Kuzco filled up the vase and put the flowers in – perfect. Now all that was left was…. "Uh, Kuzco?" Kronk asked as he caught a glimpse of the town below them. "Mmm-hmm?" "….How do we get down?" Kuzco looked down. He blinked several times, then perked up and said confidently; "Oh, it's easy! We get down the same way we got up! It's always easier going down, c'mon!" And he walked off, whistling a happy tune. Kronk and Bucky looked at each other, shrugged, and followed.

So after a few hours of walking, one break for tea and finger sandwiches, and a frightening incident in which the vase of flowers almost fell, (Only to be saved by the ever-heroic Bucky the squirrel) the three made it down the mountain and back into the village. It was already dark, but not late enough for anyone but small children to be asleep, so Kuzco decided to deliver the flowers to Malina the best way possible – fresh.

He said goodbye to Kronk and Bucky, made his merry way to Malina's house, and then, taking a deep breath, knocked on the door while hiding the flowers behind his back. The door was opened by Malina in a red evening robe. Kuzco almost dropped the flowers he was holding upon this sight, but caught himself in time to say, "Uh….h-hey Malina!" Malina, looking slightly surprised but also happy to see him, answered; "Hey Kuzco….uh, what brings you here?"

'Besides the utter, unadultred desire to rip that robe off of you and introduce you to the golden satin sheets in the palace bedroom?' the typical-man side of Kuzco's brain exlaimed. The newly-built sensible side overpowered it though, thankfully, and he said, "Well….you know how I told you I'd get you a graduation present by this weekend? Well yeah, uh, really loved yours, and I thought I should get you….well, that I should…." Relenting, Kuzco uncovered the vase of white orchids.

Malina's eyes widened and her mouth hung slightly agape for a few moments. "Wha….Kuzco….how did you….where did you….how did you even….?" She stuttered, carefully taking the vase from Kuzco's outstretched arms. Feeling that this was a good time to reveal everything behind the vase of orchids, Kuzco worked his courage and poured out the whole story.

When he was finished, Malina was at least twice as shocked as she's been before. Once she regained the ability to speak, she slowly said, "Okay. So let me get this straight. You got Kronk to turn you back into a frog so you could spy on me, hiked up a tretcherous mountain, caused an avalanche, and endangered the sanity and life of an innocent squirrel….and Kronk….just so you could get me the perfect graduation present?"

"Uhhhhhh...well, yeah, pretty much..." Kuzco said with a slight nervous chuckle. 'Uh-oh,' he though. 'Here it comes...I should have had Kronk talk me out of this!' Malina shook her head. "Kuzco, I am not even going to say how stupid that was! You could have gotten hurt so many times! That was the most outrageous idea you've ever come up with in your life! Kuzco hung his head. A few moments passed in silence, then Malina's face broke out into a smile and she added – "And….the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for me."

Kuzco looked up to see her smiling, and he couldn't keep from smiling himself. He'd done it – he'd made her happy! But there was another feeling looming in his chest. He realized what it was, and it scared him silly – but it was true that now was the perfect moment to come out and tell her how he really, honestly felt about her. Even if she didn't believe him – and hell, he wouldn't blame her if she didn't, with all the signs he'd given off that he could only ever really love himself – he had to do it.

"Uh….yeah, I thought I should get you something really special, because…." But his voice faltered and, feeling very unlike the strong and brave emperor he made himself out to be, Kuzco only managed to whisper the last part. "….special because….because I….love you." "What was that?" Malina asked, not hearing. Kuzco stared for a moment, then broke out into an emotional waterfall, shouting, "I LOVE YOU!" to the heavens.

He quickly gained his composture, then looked back at the girl before him. "I love you! I l-o-v-e, love you, Malina! I really do! And it's not just because of what you think, you know, it's not just 'cause you're such a hottie-hot-hot-hottie, which you are, I mean, but saw you with the birdnest – I mean the hair – and, and….!" Malina stopped him with a gentle hand on his shoulder. "It's okay, Kuzco. I know what you're trying to say. And….I believe you." She smiled, and Kuzco could swear he saw her blushing slightly.

His mouth opened and closed silently a few times, then broke out into a huge smile. "Yay! You believe me! And you should believe me, because I'm telling the truth, it's comp…." then he stopped short, and his next statement wasn't one bit as enthusiastic. "….But….that still doesn't mean you…." And Kuzco hung his head again. In a few moments he felt two small hands weave together with his, and he looked up. Malina was still smiling, and Kuzco immediately wiped off his sulky face and replaced it with a questioning one.

Perhaps drawing courage from Kuzco's uncharacteristically emotional confession, which she was moved and flattered by, Malina opened her mouth to speak. "I….I know that I'm probably crazy for feeling this way. And I know that you're self-centered and childish, and that you might never change. But I guess I'm in no place to question nature, and somehow, for some crazy reason….I love you too."

Kuzco blinked a few times, looking back and forth between Malina's face and their clasped hands, as if expecting someone to pinch him at any moment. When no one did, he decided to try his luck and find out for himself if this was real. "….R...really? You do actually….love me? I mean, it's not pull one over on Kuzco day or anything? You really do?" he stuttered, both dumbfounded and lovestuck. Malina nodded. In a few more seconds, Kuzco finally snapped out of it, and did what anyone might expect him to do a moment such as this – shout happily and dance.

Malina shook her head and sighed, though still smiling, as she watched him. It was about time, she thought. She'd been harboring this insane crush on the teenage emperor for some time now, though she couldn't for the life of her figure out why. And after seeing that he might actually love her for more than her looks, mostly thanks to an earlier-mentioned hair incident, Malina had helplessly fallen for him and used her A-grade acting skill to mostly cover it up. But it felt good to have let it out.

She tapped Kuzco on the shoulder, interrupting his dance. But anyone could bet that he didn't mind one bit when she whipped him around and threw her arms around his neck, pressing their lips together. Kuzco, who'd been practing this for ages in his dreams, responded quickly and eagerly. He still couldn't fully believe it, and it was very possible that the girl he was embracing couldn't fully believe it either – but this moment at least, right then, was real. Kuzco even pinched himself to make sure.

"I love the flowers," Malina whispered once they broke apart. "But there's one more thing I'd like to ask you." Kuzco nodded vigorously in reply. "Well…." Malina said, putting on an uncharacteriscally coy face that she was realizing she'd probably have to get used to now. "I heard some gossip that the sheets in the palace bedroom were golden satin – is that true?"

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Okay, okay, that last paragraph I apologize for. I know Malina wouldn't do that, but I still just couldn't help it. XDDD Like I said, that's me. The lemon queen. Yep. Well review, people, review!