Challenges

It's hard to be in love. It's harder to be hopelessly in love when there is no chance that the other party will ever reciprocate those feelings. But perhaps it is hardest to be in love with someone who would most likely accept these feelings but is simply too dense to recognize them.

Shishido Ryou had the most experience with the latter problem, and he couldn't understand what was wrong, other than Ootori Choutarou's constant state of blissful ignorance. He had sent flowers and chocolate for Valentine's Day (they had been happily received as birthday presents); he had filled Choutarou's locker, desk, tennis locker, and tennis bag with signed love letters (they had each been studiously replied to by Choutarou, who seemed to think that they were the kind of notes one passed in class, regardless of the fact that they were in completely different classes and there was no time to write such notes at tennis practice); and he had told Choutarou (several times! to his face!) that he loved him. In fact, he was almost positive that everyone at school except Choutarou knew he loved him. Atobe, Oshitari, and Mukahi had all tried to help him out already, and all their plans had failed. Shishido had come up with one last plot, and if it didn't work, he was officially giving up on the second-year. It would hurt, but not as much as it would hurt to keep loving him with no chance that Choutarou would ever understand his feelings. Plus, if this didn't work, absolutely nothing would.

He checked his watch. 6:59 p.m. As if on cue, Ootori rushed up to him. "Hey, Shishido-senpai! I'm sorry I'm late!"

"No, no, you're fine," Ryou replied, immediately conscious of the fire that re-ignited in his chest every time he saw his doubles partner. "You're right on time."

"That's good," Ootori smiled. "But why'd you ask me to come out to the tennis courts tonight? You want to train or something?"

"That's not it, Choutarou. I've had enough of being smacked by your Scud Serves, thank you very much." He laughed at Ootori's pouting face. "Yeah, I know you tried to stop me from doing it."

"That's right I did! Even if it means I won't get to play tennis with him, I don't want Shishido-senpai to be hurt for any reason!" he said determinedly.

Shishido nearly choked over his next words. That cuteness of Choutarou's made him love him more and more every time he spoke, even when he was being annoyingly oblivious to Shishido's affection. "Anyway, I have a problem and I was wondering if you would help me with it."

"I don't know how I can help, but I'll do what I can."

"That's all I could ask for." He led Ootori over to a nearby bench and sat down. "You see, there's a person I like, and even though I've tried to tell them many times-"

"You have to be brave and tell them! No matter how scary it is, it-"

"I have told…" Shishido paused. Here was a new way to approach the plan. Perhaps it would work better this way… "Yeah, you're right, Choutarou. That's where you can help."

"Oh… so you're going to pretend I'm her so you'll be ready when the time comes."

Shishido sighed. Why couldn't Choutarou be perceptive when it actually mattered? "You could say that, I guess. Now, you sit over there, and I'm going to reveal my secret love for you."

"All right. Never thought I'd hear that coming from you, Shishido-senpai."

I never thought you'd hear it either, Shishido thought, considering how you seem to go deaf whenever the subject comes up. Aloud, he said, "My confession consists of three parts: informing of my feelings, giving them gifts, and finally, actually asking them out, so-"

"You've been planning this for a while, haven't you?"

"You have no idea… So I'll do one step at a time, and after each one, you can critique me, tell me what I need to improve on and stuff, okay?"

"All right. But are you ever going to tell me who the girl is, or do I need to guess?"

"I've told you who I love on many occasions. You, Choutarou, haven't been paying atten-"

"Shishido-senpai, if you told me who you liked, I know I would listen. We're more than doubles partners, after all… we're friends too… right?"

"Yes, we are. And that's why you need to believe your senpai when he tells you that he's told you before."

"Fine." Ootori pouted and crossed his legs. "But I get to guess between sections too, then."

"Whatever." Ryou coughed and fixed his hair, making a show of getting into character. "All right, here goes. Choutarou, there's-"

"Wait, wait! You can't say 'Choutarou,' you have to use her name! Otherwise, what if the moment of truth comes and you accidentally say 'Choutarou' instead of-"

"Shut up. You just want to know who it is without going to all the work of guessing, don't you? I can say 'Choutarou' if I want, okay? Save your criticism and your pathetic guesses for the end of the section."

"Fine. Go ahead."

"Choutarou, there's something I need to tell you. I know I'm not worthy, but still my heart beats faster, still my face heats up when I see you. When I see you, I can only think of doing impossible deeds for you: bringing you a flower from the moon to lay at your feet, painting a sunset over the span of a hundred years to be admired by you for no more than a second. I would do anything for you, Choutarou, without expecting anything at all in return. I would lay down my life at a moment's notice for you, no matter how little you might appreciate it or how valueless you might find it. The tides may wear at me, but I would toil on until a single word from you stopped my work forever. Even if you did not appreciate my presence, I would be happy to step back for another, placing your happiness above my own. In short, Choutarou, I love you, and I will love you for as long as the stars shine in the night sky and as faithfully as the sun greets the east each day. Oh, Choutarou, it's true. No matter how false you think it is, it could never be a lie, and no matter how unworthy you think me, I cannot help but feel the way I do. Choutarou, I truly do love you." Shishido stopped, breathing heavily. No matter how used to telling Choutarou he loved him he was, he still got nervous and began ranting on like an idiot every time.

Which was absolutely perfect for this occasion, of course.

"Ah, so is part one over now?" Ootori blinked at Shishido with a small smile. That wasn't the response he wanted. He wanted Ootori to be completely seduced by his words. Of course, it hadn't yet happened, and there was no reason to suspect it ever would.

"Yes, Choutarou. Part one is over." Ryou sat down next to Ootori on the bench. "So, what did you think of that confession?"

Choutarou looked thoughtful for a second, then grinned at Shishido. "It was cheesy!"

"Ch-cheesy?" Ryou pretended to be surprised. "R-really?" Che, like it mattered if he was cheesy or not.

"Yeah, really. All those strange metaphors… and the stars and sun part at the end was cliché… but you know I'm a sucker for that kind of thing, so I really liked it… If I were a girl and you were really asking me out, that is, I would have said yes."

"I do happen to know that the person I'm asking appreciates cheesiness quite a lot."

"How do you know that? Did you ask her or something?"

Shishido closed his eyes and prayed for patience. This was why it was so unbearably lame that he was in love with Ootori. "Let's just say that they've told me this before, on at least one occasion." Choutarou still looked unconvinced. "I have done my research, you know." He pretended to read a notebook and adjust his invisible glasses in the manner of that annoying Seigaku player. "'Ii Data,' right?"

Ootori chuckled. "I suppose I believe you then, senpai. It also seems like you rambled a bit… like you didn't really know what you were saying…?"

"To be perfectly honest, Choutarou, I made up all of that crap on the spot."

"C-crap?" Ootori looked down. "But… but I thought it was nice… I thought you really meant it…"

"Oh, I meant it. I put as much of my heart and soul into those words as you put into a Scud Serve, that is, all of it. That doesn't mean it wasn't, as you said, 'cheesy,' and as I said, complete crap."

"… I hope you will feel differently when you are actually speaking to the object of your affections," Choutarou finally replied, still looking sad. Shishido knew he was sulking because he hated when Shishido insulted himself, but he was just going to have to get over it this time. While he usually wrote and memorized his monologues to Choutarou (in sonnet form, of course; Shishido was nothing if not romantic), that last one had been completely improvised around the theme of "I Love Everything About Choutarou," a theme which had been used so many times, it was beginning to feel stale.

Of course, if Ootori would just wise up and accept him, Ryou rather thought he could wring some new inspiration from the tired old topic, namely in the form of Choutarou's lips and how they would feel against his own…

Putting aside that familiar daydream, he prepared himself for the rest of Choutarou's constructive criticism. "Yeah, maybe I will. Moot point. Anything else?"

"That was the only other thing… Um… If I were a girl, and a boy was asking me out, I would rather he was more… self-confident, instead of needlessly humble."

"But that's just it, Choutarou. I'm not good enough for this person. I'm too stupid, too selfish… too poor-"

"Now, Shishido-senpai, we've been over this before. You are not poor. You're just not as ridiculously wealthy as Ato-"

"Atobe's the richest person at this school, not to mention in Japa-"

"Maybe you're just a little economically-challenged, then, senpai-"

"That makes me feel so much better about myself, thanks."

"-but you're not poor and you're very smart and how could you ever think you're selfish when you're one of the most selfless people I've ever met, always sacrificing yourself for the team and for me…" Ootori trailed off, blushing and laughing a little nervously. "I may have gotten a bit carried away and said too much there… I'm sorry, Shishido-senpai."

Ryou playfully smacked Ootori in the head. "Don't be sorry. Optimistic guys like you need to make sure that lame guys like me don't get too down in the dumps. You're just doing your job, so don't worry about it," he said a little gruffly. He hated when Choutarou blamed himself for other people's problems, especially Ryou's. But, oh, how cute Choutarou was when he did.

"So I'm not poor. Any criticism of my character that you will accept? Chicks dig tragic flaws in their men, you know?" Shishido elaborated, though he wasn't sure if the last part also applied to Choutarou-

"That is true! I think it's important that everyone have some sort of flaw-"

Guess it did apply, then.

"-so even though Shishido-senpai would be perfect even if no one else was, he has to have something that's a little… questionable?" Ootori twisted his necklace as he thought, frowning slightly. "…Maybe… tennis?"

"Tennis? How so?"

"She might want to see you sometime out of school, like a date… but you might have tennis practice which would conflict and then she'd be so sad…"

"Don't worry about that. The person I like loves tennis almost as much as I do."

"Aha! One step closer to finding out who this mysterious person is. So she likes tennis, eh? And almost as much as Shishido-senpai, which means she has to be on the tennis team," Choutarou reasoned. "Don't worry, I'll figure out who it is soon, and then you can stop saying vague things like 'that person' and just use her name instead."

"I'll be very surprised if you can guess who it is."

"Oh, don't worry. I will, for sure!" Choutarou decided determinedly.

"I still don't have a fatal flaw," he noted, grinning.

"We'll get back to that. I want to guess now," Choutarou replied, waving the topic aside as clearly unimportant.

"Go ahead and guess then."

"Umm… Omiha Chizuru-san? She's on the girl's tennis team, and she's been to almost all of our matches… including every one of our doubles games. I know she likes you, since she's not one of my fans…"

If there was one thing Shishido Ryou hated, it was "Girls Who Chase After My Choutarou." Ootori's matter-of-fact reference to those he loathed almost distracted him from denying an attraction to Chizuru. "So sorry, you are wrong! No consolation prize this time, but feel free to play again some other time!" he boomed, mimicking the host of a very popular game show.

Choutarou laughed. "So it's not her then? ...I was pretty sure about that one."

"You gonna help out any more, or should I move on to part two?"

"Aww, go ahead with the next. It was presents, right? While you shower me with gifts, I'll keep thinking about who it could be… and your 'fatal flaw' as well, of course.'

"Okay then. I'm planning on giving flowers and chocolate to the person I like when I ask them out." After digging around in his tennis bag for a moment, Shishido retrieved two items and hid them secretively behind his back before approaching Ootori again. "A token of my love for you, Choutarou. I hope you will accept it."

"Oh. A… dandelion. How nice." Choutarou looked confused, and glanced worriedly at Shishido, as if to ask "Are you sure you're not economically-challenged after all?"

"Here is another unworthy reminder of my affection, and I hope you will receive it and enjoy it." Shishido ignored Choutarou and handed over his second present.

"It's… a half-eaten chocolate bar. It's… kind of sticky and gross…"

Shishido regarded Choutarou, who was looking more and more perplexed by the second, with a blank expression until he could no longer resist those pleading eyes. He burst out laughing, ruffled Choutarou's silvery hair ("Hey!"), and flopped down on the bench next to him again. "Sorry… Your reaction…" He started laughing while Choutarou just looked back at him with his most guilt-inducing expression. "I'm not really giving that person a dandelion and half a chocolate bar. It just didn't fit into my budget to buy two huge bouquets and two boxes of the finest French chocolate yen can buy."

Ootori breathed a deep sigh of relief. "Good to hear, Shishido-senpai… I was a little worried, you know."

"I know, Choutarou. I was there. Only wish I had taken a picture of your face to laugh at later."

"Thanks a lot! And I don't even get real presents to make up for it? Now that's what I call lame, senpai."

"Will you feel better if I tell you what the gifts really are?"

"…Maaaaaaaaybe."

"You know that I hate when you get all pouty like that."

"You know that if you don't want to see this face, you should be nice to me, senpai."

"Che, I know. It's just hard to resist sometimes, I guess. Anyway, I got the chocolates through one of Atobe's connections, and he claims that they're almost as divine as 'Ore-sama' is. Take that however you will."

"Does that mean that Atobe-senpai approves of your love for this person?" Choutarou asked curiously.

Ryou thought back to his conversations with the captain before replying, "I think he's sick of watching me lust after them and can't stand to watch anymore. And he believes that if I start going out with that person, we will both improve tremendously at tennis."

"Interesting. I didn't think that Atobe-senpai cared much about the girls' tennis team… Guess it's a matter of Hyotei pride or something."

"That's probably it." Shishido rolled his eyes.

"Tell me about the flowers," Choutarou requested.

"Ah. It's a big arrangement, so there's lots of those little filler flowers. Like baby's breath, the kind no one cares about on its own."

"I like baby's breath. I think it's a nice little flower," Ootori complained.

"Why are you telling me this? You should just save your breath, you big baby," Shishido responded, copying a comedian (or perhaps a Rokkaku player) well known for his bad puns.

Choutarou laughed, as he always did, then paused. "Wait, you said there were filler flowers… but what's the main event? There is one, isn't there?"

"Blue irises. It's that person's favorite flower."

"Hmm… that sure is suspicious, isn't it? It's my favorite flower too… and all those other traits you mentioned seem to describe a certain doubles partner of yours, don't they? Namely, me?" Ootori grinned slyly. "Something you want to tell me, Shishido-senpai?"

Shishido's eye twitched.

"Just kidding, senpai. That would be funny if you really did like me. I don't know what reason you'd have for going through a whole complicated scenario like this, then, so I guess that can't be it… Is it Honda Kyoko-san? I think that I've heard her say she likes blue flowers best, and she certainly plays tennis…" Ootori waited for an answer, and when he didn't immediately get one, he smiled broadly. "So it is her! I knew I'd get it! And to think that you doubted me."

Shishido hadn't responded because he had been busily trying to crush his unnecessary anger at Choutarou. He reminded himself that it wasn't Choutarou's fault that he was completely oblivious to Shishido's love, and it wasn't Choutarou's fault that he had stumbled across the truth without realizing it. It was Shishido's own fault for falling in love with someone like that.

Once he was able to respond, he rebutted Choutarou's suggestion by replying –truthfully- that he didn't know a girl named Honda Kyoko. "Don't want to admit it, huh? I see how it is. But when you get a date with her thanks to my excellent advice, you are going to look awful stupid." (Privately, Shishido thought that Choutarou was the one who was going to look stupid at the end of this plan.)

"Will you show me Honda-san's flowers sometime? It's the least you can do since they're my favorite type and all I got was this dandelion," Choutarou whined. Shishido never knew that Choutarou cared so much about flowers and chalked this up as one of the things that he would learn as soon as Choutarou gave him the chance to.

"Yeah, yeah, of course. I promise that when I'm going to ask this person –who may or may not be Kyoko-chan– you will see the flowers."

"But how can you say that you'll see me for sure?"

"I'm fairly certain you'll be there." Choutarou, of course, missed the irony in Shishido's words.

"But you just don't know! And you've broken promises to me before!"

"I was two minutes late!"

"You should have left earlier!"

"The trains broke down! Unlike some people, I don't exactly have a personal helicopter…"

"But it was my birthday!"

"…You brat. Che, whatever." Shishido turned pointedly away before turning back with a sweeter, almost kind look on his face. "I promise, Choutarou, that you will see the flowers when I go to ask that person out, and I promise that if you don't see them for some reason…" Shishido stopped looking kind long enough to groan inwardly at Choutarou's paranoia, "I will tell you all the details of asking them out and buy you your own bouquet as well."

"All right. Now I'm going to hope that you forget to show me so I get flowers too, though."

"Whatever. The next time you see me with a huge vase full of flowers, you should assume I'll be bringing them to you, so that you can see them before I ask. Like I said, buying two bouquets is not in the budget."

"I see, I see. Fair enough. Oh! Are we on to part three now?"

"I don't see why not." Ryou stood up and faced into the dark before turning back to Ootori. "Part three is simple. It goes like this: 'Ootori Choutarou, will you go out with me?'"

"That simple?"

"Yes. But now you have to respond to me."

"Oh… Okay! …In-character… 'Shishido-senpai-'" Choutarou broke off in confusion. "Wait, senpai, how would she refer to you?"

"The person I'm thinking of would definitely say 'Shishido-senpai,'" Ryou told him with a smile.

"That's easy, then! Okay …In-character… 'Shishido-senpai, of course I will go out with you! I loved your cheesy lines and the tasty chocolates and the gorgeous flowers, but most importantly, I love you!' …is how I would respond… if I were Kyoko, of course," Choutarou said, blushing.

"Of course, if you were Kyoko… My response would be this," Shishido said, breathing deeply before leaning down to Choutarou's level in order to kiss him gently.

Choutarou looked surprised, but responded quickly. Shishido wondered if he was still playing the part of "Kyoko" or if he was enjoying the kiss as much as Shishido certainly was. Eventually he pulled away from Choutarou and grinned cheekily at him. "So, 'Kyoko?' What did you think?" While waiting for a response, he admired the brilliant red shade that Ootori's face was glowing.

"…I-I think that if you were going to do something like that, you didn't need chocolate or silly confessions to win my heart, S-Shishido-senpai…"

"I notice you still want the flowers, though," Shishido smirked. "Thank you for your help, Choutarou. Sorry to do something like that to you all of a sudden, though, haha."

"N-no problem." Ootori was trying to speak bravely, but his face was still blazing away in the dim light. Shishido knew that that kiss had definitely affected him more than he would be willing to admit. Time to finish up and win Choutarou's heart for good.

"Choutarou, I'll be right back. You stay here, okay?"

He walked briskly into the forested area, moving towards the tree he had found earlier.

"It certainly took you long enough, Ryou-kun."

"We can't all be as amazing as Atobe-sama, can we?"

"It's true. Here are the items you requested, and these had better work, because as you said, Ore-sama for one is tired of watching Shishido-kun pining after someone who doesn't even understand his own feelings, much less someone else's." Atobe indicated two items on the ground and turned to leave.

"Thank you, Atobe… Atobe-buchou."

Atobe didn't say anything, but simply strolled off into the woods, possibly to take the nearest secret Atobe-family-underground-subway passage to the Hyotei clubhouse, where he would call an emergency meeting of the entire tennis team to regale them with tales of how Ore-sama had single-handedly brought the star-crossed lovers together.

Possibly.

After gathering the items, he returned to the bench. Choutarou hadn't moved, but was staring resolutely at the ground. He didn't look up when Shishido approached.

"Hey, you. I already made one stupid speech… You said you don't even want this anymore…" He set the box of chocolates down. "You still want these though," he said, moving a large vase filled with the flower arrangement he had described to Choutarou into view. "Hey, Choutarou."

"Shishido-senpai… I… I'm sorry…"

Ryou's heart twinged painfully. After all this, had Choutarou finally discovered his true motives only to tell him that he couldn't reciprocate these feelings after all?

"I... I'm sorry, but I don't want… I don't want you to ask Honda-san out! The truth is, Shishido-senpai, I… I…"

No, definitely not. After all that, Choutarou still hadn't realized what Shishido had been trying to do. The only thing he had managed to find was his own feelings for Shishido. That was good –but Choutarou still thought that he liked Kyoko, and that was bad.

"Hey, listen, I can ask out whoever I want, okay? Now take these flowers." He shoved the huge bouquet into Choutarou's face.

Ootori held on to them, but didn't glance at them. He appeared to be preparing for a rejection; his eyes even looked suspiciously moist.

"Ootori, I-"

"So formal?" Choutarou sniffed.

"Hey… Is this about that kiss?" Che, like he didn't already know the answer to that.

"Um… Yes… You see, I think I… I lo-"

"Oh, just look at the flowers. I don't want to waste my yen, so if you don't appreciate them, I'll find someone who will. After all, this is my confession, in case you've forgotten."

"Wait… do you mean…"

"What I mean is… Listen. Choutarou. I like you. I love you. All this time, I've been trying to tell you, but you just haven't gotten it! So will you go out with me or not?"

"But… You said that… and I thought… So you… love me…?"

In response, Shishido wrenched the flowers from Ootori's unresisting hands and forced him into a kiss that was decidedly more passionate than the last one. "Does that clear things up for you?" he asked once he was finished.

Choutarou blinked dazedly. "Oh." He looked at Shishido, blushed lightly, and looked away again. His eyes widened. "Oh. So then I… And when you… you meant that…"

"You must think I'm so stupid," he concluded.

"You're not stupid, Choutarou. Just a little comprehension-challenged," Shishido grinned, slapping Choutarou on the back.

"Th-thank you, Shishido-senpai."

"Mind you, I have been trying to get you to realize this for the better part of a year… And I haven't exactly been subtle… I really thought I had you a couple times, and I can't help but wonder: what did you think I was trying to tell you all those other times I told you I loved you?"

"I… I thought you meant as my doubles partner… Whenever you said something like that, it was either right before or after a really important match…"

"Choutarou… We're tennis players. It's pretty much all we do. Everything takes place before or after a really important match."

"Yeah, I thought about that now! You know I'm not so good at reading into things-"

"What's so ambiguous about 'Choutarou, I love you, go out with me?''

"-and I only got it this time because, well… 'Actions speak louder than words!'"

"You did seem to like my words earlier though."

"That's… because they were sweet. I never knew you were so romantic, Shishido-senpai… Wait, that was all about… me?"

"Catch on quick, don't you?" Shishido said sarcastically. In a lighter tone, he continued, "Of course it was about you. I reserve all my sappy descriptions of love for you, Choutarou."

"R-really?"

"Obviously. I don't know if you're interested in hearing more of them, but-"

"You have more to tell me?"

"Trust me, I've practiced so much that I've practically mastered the genre. I might be getting some new influences soon… if you say yes, of course."

"Yes? What-" Choutarou realized what Shishido was talking about and smiled shyly. "Here's my answer," he told Shishido before leaning in to kiss him again.

"I'll take that as a yes, then," Ryou smirked. "It took you long enough."

"I do want to hear this 'Ode to My Love Choutarou' that you promised me…" Ootori said slyly.

"'This'…? I do believe you're mistaken. I have over 100 'Odes to My Love Choutarou.' You'll have to clarify as to which one about you're talking about."

"Oh! So you have one about… my eyes?"

"'Those gems that sparkle and cast their light upon me, burning fiercer than the stars,' and so on?" Shishido quoted.

"Haha. What other ones do you have?"

"The usual. Hair, face, your sparkling personality… I even have one about your elbows."

"You're obsessed."

"You've been ignoring me for a very long time." Shishido got up and pulled Choutarou up with him, then handed him the nearly-forgotten flowers and chocolate. "If you want to hear any Odes to You, they're saved on my computer at home," he informed Choutarou, conveniently "forgetting" that he had them all memorized.

"…Okay, but can we hold hands on the way there?" Choutarou asked sweetly.

"Che, just because I asked you out, you all of a sudden think I like you or something?" Shishido grabbed Ootori's hand, face going slightly red. "Fine, I will!"

Ootori leaned over to rest his head lightly on top of Shishido's. "Thanks… sweetie."

"Don't call me that! …And only because I love you, okay?"

-Meanwhile-

"-and that's when Ore-sama appeared, like an avenging angel, and brought the two lovers arm in arm, making them realize their true feelings for-"

"Why is he telling us this?" Hiyoshi whispered to Taki. "I feel fairly certain Shishido already realized his feelings for Ootori a while ago, and I'm sure nobody cares about their love life. I know I don't."

"Because it's Atobe, and he likes to feel important," Taki responded.

"-and then… Hey! You two over there! Pay attention to Ore-sama when he is speaking!"

"...Yes, Atobe-sama…"

-Owari-


Xiana: My first completed Prince of Tennis story… and my favorite thing that I've written. Maybe ever. I used "Ootori" a lot, but when I was writing it, I thought I used "Choutarou" a lot more… And I managed to not start a sentence with the word "Well." Be awed by my… something. Sorry. I really am sorry. I hope that you enjoyed this bit of semi-pointless fluff, and please review if you liked it!

Or if you didn't. Whatever will get you to do it.

Choutarou: So, wait, I'm the reason Shishido-senpai is poor?

Shishido: (sarcastically)Yeah, definitely. (pause) Wait… you actually are…

Xiana: That was me randomly putting characters in the author's note to hopefully get more reviews… Sorry. (At least I'm honest.)

Shishido: Give me back my money, you clueless idiot!

Choutarou: Waah! And right after we got together, too…

And thus Shishido chased Choutarou into the distance… but for different reasons than most people would want to assume…

Review, ja?

Edit: FF is being a jerk. I originally had nice brackets around "Silver Pair" in the summary, which has always worked before, and they suddenly pretended that they didn't exist. So I tried parenthesis, and everything. I even used little hearts! Little hearts, darn it! This doesn't really matter to you, probably, but it's nearly 23:00 and I'm mad about this. Sorry. Again.

I spend most of my time apologizing, don't I?