Hahaha. Ayame's chivalry inspired me.

I present: Glass Heart, a Cinderella parody!

There once lived a girl, overworked by her step-family and unfairly put-upon by all around. Her name was Cinderella.

"Hey, Machi, my dearest and most beloved half-sister," Kakeru called, poking his head into the nearly-empty Student Defense Squad Headquarters.

Machi was sitting alone inside, systematically tearing the piles of love-notes and fan letters for the President into confetti. She didn't look up as her half-brother sidled into the room.

"I was just talking to the Interchangable Emmas in the gardening club and noticed that your favorite kind of flower is in bloom…"

When a shower of daisies and dandelion blossoms piled on top of her busy hands, Machi very pointedly began tearing the heads of the stems.

"…And, actually, now that you mention it, willyoupleasetellMomI'msleepingoveratyourhouse?"

Machi kept working industriously. "No."

Kakeru deflated. "Alright…"

One day, the Prince invited all the maidens in the land to a ball so he could choose a wife.

"Birthday party?" Yuki echoed, nonplussed.

"Yeah!" Kakeru punched the air, narrowly missing his president's nose in his determination and enthusiasm. "I asked the girl-teachers to vouch for me in the meeting this week. The principal okay-ed it, even. It'll be in the auditorium, although of course we'll have to take out all the seats."

Yuki pinched the bridge of his nose, and read over the numbers School Defense Squad Treasurer Naohito had just handed him with a grim frown. "Manabe… do you even have the scope to imagine how much work that would take?"

"Half the school volunteered to help," Kakeru explained.

"The girl half," Kimi added helpfully.

Yuki was staring at the second item on Naohito's list. "How could we possibly cater that?"

"The cooking club's on board," they both answered.

"What… What about the short notice?"

"Tickets are five dollars. We've sold more than a hundred, last time I checked."

Naohito grumbled, "One hundred seventy eight."

Yuki stared at them, open-mouthed. "Is there any way I can stop this from happening?"

"Nope!" Kakeru chirped, and then ribbed him. "Think of it as a present. Not every day our president turns seventeen!"

Yuki put his face in his hands in despair.

In the corner, Machi was ignoring them. She took a small wrapped box from a pile that had accrued on Yuki's classroom desk, arranged it neatly before her, whacked it with a hammer until it stopped crunching, and threw it out the nearby window.

Cinderella helped her oppressive family prepare for the ball, as they declared that she could never attend.

"Maaachiii! Have you seen my belt?" Kakeru called, stomping through her small apartment and turning several piles of his clothes inside out.

"Don't use my home as a closet," she muttered to herself.

He stuck his chin over her shoulder suddenly. "It's okay. I found it." He stepped back and struck a pose. "How do I look? Dashing?" His shoes had a red-and-black-checker pattern, and his pants hung off him until his hipbones showed. The notorious belt wasn't helping.

Machi didn't turn her head from the math she was currently butchering single-mindedly.

Kakeru put a hand on her shoulder, because of what happened the last time he tried to give his half-sister a bear hug. "Aren't you going to come, Machi?"


"Why not?"

Her voice was clipped, short. "Too loud. Too crowded. Too many girls."

Kakeru slunk away. "If you're sure… Tell Mom I'm staying with you, okay? Really. She gets weird about curfew, and doesn't believe anything I say anymore. Not after she caught me sneaking in."

Machi ignored him. The house became empty again.

As the evil step-family swept away to the ball, Cinderella cried in despair.

When Machi finished her homework, she cooked a full square meal of instant noodles and toast. She burned it. And then she took a shower.

Her Fairy Godmother appeared and vowed to assist Cinderella in attending the ball.

As Machi was tying the drawstring on her plain, two-piece nightclothes, her front door burst open.

"At long last, fair maiden, you may stem your tears!" a loud, male voice boomed.

One level up, a baby woke and began to wail.

The source approached at light-speed. "I, your fairy godmother, have come to grant your wish!" It was a man, ten years older than Machi and with longer hair. His floor-length dress was mostly made of gauze and sequins, and came with a wand. He looked like Yuki, but much, much campier.

"Stalker?" Machi asked quizzically.

He turned a pumpkin into a coach, mice into horses, a rat in to a coachman, and lizards into footmen.

"I found a bicycle outside, and magically transformed it into a really nice, imported car!" the fairy godmother announced.

A dark-haired, somber man strode into the room with a black coat folded over his arm. "Ayame, why did you first try to borrow my car, and then beg me to chaperone you to a high-school girl's home? I have patients-"

"Magic!"Ayame repeated, swallowing his companion's words.

He then turned Cinderella's rags into a beautiful gown.

"Look!" he sang, "Clothes!"

Before she could blink, Machi was dressed in a shimmering, lavender dress to her knees, and her hair was dry and springing out of its bun in curling bunches. "Um."

Complete with a delicate pair of glass slippers.

She shifted her weight, and something cracked ominously.

Ayame beamed. Magic was awesome.

The Godmother bade her enjoy the ball, but return before midnight, for the spells would be broken.

Machi teetered toward the auditorium, every step on the rough concrete crunching with dark portent.

Ayame leaned out of the passenger-side window. "Oh! And be back before… Mmm, say, nine? Plenty of time. There's only so long that Hatori and I can entertain ourselves in the car, waiting to ferry you home."

She waved vaguely and wandered toward the loud bass booming coming from the closest building.

At the ball, the entire court was entranced by Cinderella, especially the Prince, who never left her side.

"Is that that creepy secretary chick?"

"Why is she wearing a prom dress?"

All of the girls – and they were all girls, with a few boys trying to turn the odds in their favor – were dressed for a concert, all wristbands and tight halter tops. They spoke loudly behind their hands and made a path as Machi walked through on her fragile heels.

The gauntlet ended at the stage. The live music was a rock band, and Machi recognized the drums as a boy from her grade. Off to the side of the stage, though, stood a proud, regal throne. And Yuki, sinking into the velvet cushion, trying to discretely shake his head hard enough to dislodge the brass crown held in place by hairpins and duct tape.

Machi walked closer. When Yuki saw her, the blood drained out of his face, and then returned in full force around his cheeks and nose.

"M-Machi?" he half-fell out of his throne, and came to the edge of the stage on his knees. He nearly ended up doing a faceplant when he slid too far, but a tide of fans rushed forward to hold him up. He scrambled away from the reaching hands.

Kakeru leaned over Yuki's shoulder. "Dude. Machi's hot." He made a hand gesture that suggested Yuki's ultimate happiness could only be attained through Machi's being delivered onto the stage unharmed.

She was raised on a cloud of obligated resentment. The glass shoes touched down delicately next to Yuki's black slacks.

He looked up at her, disbelieving. He cleared his throat and stood up self-consciously. "You'rebeautiful, Machi. You usually are, but now…you're glittering."

Kakeru made the mistake of peering downwards. "Where'd you get those shoes?"

"They're beautiful shoes," Yuki said absently. He was staring at her eyes.

They broke into song.

Machi frowned.

When the clock struck the hour, Cinderella hastily left, leaving behind one of her slippers.

She announced flatly, "Happy birthday. I'm leaving."

Yuki's face fell. "So soon?" He jumped off the stage and hurried after her, trying to keep in her bubble of contempt to evade the grabby guests. They caught the sleeves of his button-up shirt, and detained him effectively.

Outside, on the concrete, the shoes made a series of crunching noises, and then a shattering noise, and then an awful kind of tinkling, powdering noise. Machi shook the shards of slipper away from her right foot, then toed off the other and stalked away as fast as she could.

The birthday boy fought his way out of the knot blocking the door. "Wait!" He saw the shining stars on the ground, from her shoe. "Machi, are you alright?"

A black, imported car drove up in front of her, and Machi darted into the backseat without protest. Ayame half-climbed out of the window again. "Hiya, Prince Charming! See? Delivered unto you, one Damsel. With complementary glass slippers!"

Yuki picked up the intact shoe. "You're a lunatic, Ayame."

Machi's fairy godmother waved his wand at the president and did his best to make his gauzy outfit glimmer.

Yuki shook his head, and called, "Who even told you about all this?"

"Shigure heard from Momiji, who heard from Tohru, who heard from that dashing boy, Kakeru, of course."

"Just…" Yuki's face fell, in something like regret. "Just make sure she arrives home safely. Hatori's driving, I trust."

Hatori grimaced at him. They shared a moment of understanding and Ayame-suffering.

Machi was crouching down low in the backseat, face hot, reflecting on the vacant expression he'd worn when he looked at her. The car drove away at a reasonable, sane pace, despite her fairy godmother's urgent cries of 'mush!'

The Prince pocketed the slipper and vowed to find and marry the maiden to whom it belonged.

Yuki stared at the cooling glass in his hand. It smelled like feet that had spent too long without breathing.

He sighed, and turned slowly to go back inside.

Back home, Cinderella thanked her Godmother.

"You're welcome to call on me whenever you have a wish!" her godmother trilled.

Machi slammed her front door before he came inside.

He pouted.

After a minute, the door opened a crack, and she thrust her arm out, giving him back the lavender dress and the hair things he had used.

He took them all in his arms and yelled, "Good night!" as the door slammed shut again.

She then greeted the Stepsisters who could talk of nothing but the beautiful girl at the ball.

Machi was tucked under her covers, with earplugs.

Kakeru, true to his word (as he had given to his mother), was sitting cross-legged at the foot of her bed. He was in the middle of saying, "…and there was a really hot girl there. Yuki's jaw practically hit the floor. Looked a lot like you, in fact. Only I know that it wasn't you, because you said you weren't going to go, and, let me tell you, that girl was most certainly there."

Machi was asleep. She wasn't listening to his ramblings.

The Prince tried the slipper on all the maidens in the land.

It was Monday, the first day of school since what was colloquially termed The Ball. Four of the five members of the School Defense Squad were holed up in their Headquarters.

They were struggling on the other side of the locked door.

"Oh, Prince Yuki! That girl, at The Ball – that was definitely me!"

"It was dark! All you saw was the glittering!"

"With all that makeup – it's only natural that you'd confuse me for someone else!"

Kakeru was entertaining himself. He hollered back at them, "You know, Yuki, they have a point! Maybe you should have them try on that glass slipper! Logic dictates that it'll only fit your One True Love!"

There was an expectant hush on the other side.

Yuki sighed. "Logic dictates that they might try cutting off bits of their feet to wear it."

Rummaging sounds came from the other side. Unfortunately, none among them had a knife and/or sword handy.

Kimi took the slipper from where Yuki had set it on Machi's desk and experimentally stuck her foot in it. It was too wide; she wiggled her toes and observed the way the curved glass squished them.

Naohito scribbled a little picture of himself throwing Yuki out the door, and then making a break for it while the mob was distracted.

Machi had called in sick.

Cinderella asked if she may try.

Someone was knocking at the door.

Machi rolled out of her bed. Her hair was a mess, since she hadn't brushed it in more than a day, and she was wearing a loose pants-shirt combination that was very comfortable. It was good for when she had a fever.

The fever was, in fact, multiplying the amount of doorknobs in the front door tenfold. She missed the first few times, but the fourth try gave her a solid grip on metal.

She twisted, and pulled. "Kakeru, don't. I'm sick to-"

Yuki was standing on her doorstep. For a second, in the new, bright sunlight and the haze of illness, it almost appeared that he was wearing a white, princely uniform.

But he wasn't. He just waited quietly and smiled apologetically.

She held the door open, and he stepped inside.

Her apartment was a mess, but she didn't particularly care. She led him to the kitchen, indicated the table as a candidate for his new residence, and padded over to the sink. She popped an analgesic and washed it down with water.

There was a loud clunk as Yuki set the glass slipper on the table.

Machi stiffened, and turned around. "Where did you get that?"

Yuki shrugged. "You left it, when you left The Ball."

Her eyebrow quirked at the name, and she pressed, "Why did you keep it?"

He didn't have an answer for that. "…Because I thought you'd forgotten it?"

"I didn't. Go away."

"Will you please wear it?"

She willed him to go away with her mind.

"It will prove Manabe wrong," Yuki offered hopefully.

Machi hesitated the fog of the fever was fading, thanks to the medication. "Fine."

The slipper was set on the linoleum floor. Machi came closer to Yuki, cautiously, like a wild cat taking food from a human.

Naturally, the slipper fit perfectly.

She slipped her foot in with no real difficulty, and then retreated, with an unbalanced, awkward gait.

Back at the counter, she asked, "What did Kakeru say, for him to be wrong?"

Yuki gave her a half-grin. "That only my One True Love could fit into the glass slipper."

Her shoulders fell in a little. "Oh. Right."

Yuki stood, and shortened the distance between them by as much as he dared. "I knew it was wrong. More than one person can wear a pair of shoes. Naohito fit them, and I think Kimi's half-through planning our wedding."

Cinderella returned to the palace, where she married the Prince.

Machi blinked at the ground. Yuki touched her chin, and murmured, "Happy birthday to me," before leaning in to kiss her.

When only an inch separated them, Kakeru stumbled in the front door. "Maaachi! Are you really sick? The funniest thing happened in school today: I saw a girl trying to cut her pinky toe off with toenail clippers! Absolutely priceless!"

Yuki backed up, searched her eyes for any indication that the moment wasn't unwelcome or lost forever, and found it. "I didn't think you two lived together."

Machi glared at the doorway, where her evil half-brother had stopped, looking very surprised. "We don't," she said darkly. "He's just over here constantly."

Kakeru swallowed, and thought that maybe he was coming down with something, too.

The entire step-family begged for forgiveness, and Cinderella forgave them for their cruelties.

Kakeru whimpered. His toothbrush was quickly deteriorating, and he was only finished with half the toilets in the school.

Machi tapped her glass heel imperiously. "Scrub harder."

"Cruel and unusual, I'm telling you! Where's the president when you need him?"

Yuki stepped up behind her. "Don't call on me for pity."

"Not cool! Not cool!"

And they lived happily ever after.