Happy Valentine's Day, lovers!
Like Kisuhajime, this is a culture shock fic coming to you from Japan. But I think the cultural influences are a bit more toned down. But hey, I love you. And I know how you silly Americans love to learn about the land of sudoku, Nintendo, and tentacle rape hentai.
I do not own The Legend of Zelda.
If there were any holiday Zelda Harkinian hated more than anything else, it was Valentine's Day.
The gift giving, the 20,000 calorie-filled chocolate cakes and candy bars, the overwhelming, suffocating aroma of flowers, the nauseating ubiquity of pink, red and white colored origami hearts—it made her sick.
But in the rigid society of modern Japan, she was socially required to participate.
It's an unwritten rule etched into the Japanese constitution that when a girl comes of age of social maturity—usually around the first year of high school or the last year of junior high—she is obligated to give chocolate to practically every male she's ever come into contact with. In fact, chocolate given to classmates or coworkers is even called giri-choko: literally, "obligated chocolate".
On Valentine's Day, she seemed especially grumpy. Except for February 14, Zelda was probably the sweetest girl one could ever befriend.
Though her contempt for Valentine's Day—or anything remotely related to romance, for that matter—probably stemmed from her not having someone to share the holiday with. She hasn't had the best experiences with boys. Most of the guys she's gone out with ended up cheating on her. A lot of the guys she's had a lot of attraction towards were either already taken, or were simply gay. But did it really matter why she hated it? Whether the reason had been being forced by the commercial industry to spend valuable money on chocolate or her troubled past with relationships, it all meant one thing—she hated Valentine's Day.
But as much as she hated the wretched holiday, she hated being considered rude more—if that were possible—so she just played along with the whole thing. Never mind the fact that at it seemed at times that she was just better off not playing at all.
"W-what the hell is this!?"
Sheik, a boy in her class, stared at the two pound bag of cooking chocolate hanging from her tight grasp. On the front of the package it read, "Terminian Chocolate Mix—Deluxe Valentine's Edition Pack!!"
"What do you mean, 'What the hell is this'!?" She snapped back, shaking the bag in impatience. "It's your Valentine's Day gift!"
"It's just cooking chocolate, though!" He whined, folding his arms over his chest and tapping his foot against the ground. "You were supposed to make something out of it!"
"What's the difference!?" She glared. "Whether it's cooked or not, it's still chocolate going down! If you want something, make it yourself!"
"That's not the issue, here!"
"How dare you complain!? Instead of giving me chocolate on White Day, give me my money back for wasting my damn yen on you!"
"T-ten yen chocolate!"
Ralph held the piece of wrapped chocolate—no larger than a thumbnail—between his index finger and thumb. He raised it to his eyes and squint at the tiny writing that read in Japanese, "10 yen chocolate".
"You're welcome," Zelda sighed indifferently as she walked off with her tote bag filled with gifts for all the boys in her class.
"Lets see what you get on White Day," Ralph mumbled under his breath, drilling holes into the back of Zelda's head.
"Quit complaining," Sheik turned to him. "At least what she gave you is edible from the get-go." He unzipped his bag of chocolate mix and poured some of it into his milk and stirred it with his straw.
"Whoa! Thanks a lot, Zelda!"
Ganondorf grinned happily at the heart-shaped chocolate cake that Zelda placed in front of him on his desk. In white, vanilla icing on the top it read in kanji, "COMPLETELY obligatory!!!"
"And here I thought you were some bitter, old bat when it came to this kinda stuff," he laughed softly.
"Happy Valentine's," she nodded in acknowledgement and turned to walk away. Ganondorf took a bite from the bottom of the heart. He chewed it a few times, savoring the sweetness. But just as soon as it popped it into his mouth, he spit it back out in disgust, choking on his saliva and fanning his hanging tongue with his hands.
"D-dammit, Zelda!" He roared, grabbing his friend's water bottle and guzzling down the cool liquid. "The hell did you put in this thing!? Why's it so damn spicy!?"
She turned back to him and shrugged and eyebrow and her shoulders. "It's curry flavored. I thought you liked spicy food is all."
Yes, she was much better off just not giving chocolate at all. Except to one person.
Link Avalon, an American expatriate who was fluent in both English and Japanese, was one of the upperclassmen at her school; she was just a college freshman, while he was one of the graduating students. He was one of the most well-known students at the university due to his involvement in sports, as well as his very good grades. And he was single. Not that she was complaining, but she didn't understand how someone like him could be single for any length of time, especially around Valentine's Day.
Link was the only person whom Zelda actually spent time crafting a gift on. It was a heart-shaped cake, similar to the curry-flavored one she gave Ganondorf. It was made of strawberry-flavored chocolate; she had heard that he liked strawberry chocolate. Roses made of icing decorated the edges—roses that she slaved and lost hair over.
The reason her attitudes towards the holiday changed so drastically the second Link Avalon came into the picture? As with much of the university's female population, she had a bit of a crush on him. Though 'a bit' was quite an understatement, especially after the long hours she took to make that cake of hers; cooking was never her strength, and desserts were by far the worst for her. Especially when taking into account that the two… have never talked to each other before.
Despite never actually meeting with Link personally, Zelda has seen him around quite a few times around the campus, and even off the grounds at the nearby shopping areas. She knew his usual hangouts, and when he frequented those locations. Call her a stalker if you will; she would much rather be considered 'a faithful admirer'.
Zelda watched Link from across the cafeteria. He was sitting alone, working on an essay for his sociology class. She sat on the far end of the room, alone as well, with the box containing the cake inside.
She nervously drummed her fingertips gently along the top of the box, debating with herself on how to approach him, or if she should even go at all.
Just pretend it's Sheik or something, she told herself, stealing glances of him as he continued to type on his laptop, his eyes rapidly darting back from the screen and his textbooks. It wasn't so hard giving them those crap gifts… Why should this?
"Heeey there, Zelda."
She turned around, and saw her friend Midna Zant standing over her with her trademark mischievous smirk. That smile usually meant that she was up to something. But she wore it so often that not even Zelda could tell for sure.
"Hey," Zelda replied absent-minded.
"What's with the fancy lookin' box?" Midna asked, taking a seat next to her.
"…H-huh?" She snapped out of her daydream and saw that Midna had the box open, staring at the pink cake.
"Pretty fancy…" Midna whistled. "What guy got the hots for you, Zel?"
"Hey!" Zelda yelped and hurriedly pulled the cake back and closed the box it. "No guy gave it to me!"
Midna stared at her blankly for a few moments before laughing in amusement. "Whoa, wait! Don't tell me that Little Miss Anti-Valentine's made that!"
Zelda glared at her and pushed her away. "Shut up!"
"Who's the guy?" Midna calmed down after a few moments.
"…No one," Zelda shook her head as she chanced another shot at Link. But she wasn't quick enough for Midna not to notice.
"Ahh… That Link guy, is it?" She scratched her chin. "…Yeah, I can see why. He ain't that bad lookin'. Got that book worm thing goin' on, but he makes it work real good."
Zelda didn't say anything. She just looked at Midna, who was staring back at her with a goofy grin planted on her face. The blonde knit her brow in contempt and got up from her seat. "Go to hell, Midna!"
Her outburst only made the orange-haired girl laugh harder. Just as she was about to take the box, Midna snatched it with her nimble reflexes. The blonde gasped and before she could do anything, Midna was off in a dash across the cafeteria towards Link.
N-no! Zelda cried out in her head, staring at the them in shock and horror. Damn you, Midna!
She slowly slumped back into her chair with a quiet thud and watched Midna and Link. As she began talking, Link looked up from his laptop to her, taking his eyeglasses off. He was nodding. Midna pointed in her direction, and before Zelda could make eye contact with Link when he turned to her, she looked away, playing it off casually.
Please don't let him come over here… Please don't let him come over here…
She looked up, and saw Link standing over her with her cake in his hands. His glasses were back on, and her perfectly framed his ocean blue eyes. His blonde bangs slightly hung over his eyes. The long sleeves of his striped light blue and white untucked dress shirt were rolled up, and his jeans were sagging slightly.
"Um," he furrowed his brow for a second. "…Zelda was it?"
"Y-yeah… I mean, y-yes… I-I mean, um…" Niiiice, Zelda…
"Your friend over there told me that you made this for me," he chuckled softly, gesturing to the cake in his hands.
"…Y-yeah, I did…" She blushed furiously with a nervous smile. "It was just a little something I made is all…"
"Well thank you," he nodded. "I've gotten a lot of chocolate today, but I think I can stand to eat just a lil' bit more."
"I never actually got to taste it before I packaged it," Zelda shook her head. "So I don't know if it's very good or not…"
"I'm sure it'll be delicious," he smiled. "It looks delicious."
The same could be said for that monstrosity I made Ganondorf back there… She mused dryly in the back of her head.
Link dragged his index finger along the side of the cake and tasted it, waiting for a moment for the taste to sink in. He said something in a low voice in English that she couldn't understand.
H-he didn't like it! She panicked. Now he's gonna heave all over me! Damn, and I just got this top!
He looked at her and grinned widely. "Hey, this is great!"
She just stared stupidly at him for a moment. "E-eh? Y-you're joking, right? I've never been good at cooking, and I can't bake or anything to save a life…"
"No, really!" He shook his head and took another taste. "Out of all the chocolate I've eaten today, this is probably one of the best! I doesn't hurt too much that you used my favorite kind of chocolate too…"
Her cheeks turned a light pink, almost matching the color of the cake. "…I'm… I'm glad you enjoy it."
"…Hey," he spoke after a few seconds. "I don't think I can finish thing whole thing by myself, so would you like to share this with me?"
She didn't know how to respond. At first she didn't want to believe it because most of her past failed relationships started more or less the same way. But then the man before her was no ordinary guy—it was the Link Avalon.
"…S-sure…" She answered timidly. But she gestured to his laptop. "But what about your—"
"Ahh," he shrugged it off. "I could use a break. I've been workin' all day." He motioned for her to follow him. "Shall we?"
She couldn't help a girlish giggle as she got up, pushed her chair in, and followed him. Her cell phone vibrated against her thigh in her pocket, and she pulled it out. It was a text message. She read it, and found that it was from Midna, who was walking in the opposite direction to the cafeteria exit.
'You can thank me later.'
Zelda glanced at Midna, who was chuckling to herself.
"So that girl," Link spoke. "Midna, was it?"
"Yeah," Zelda nodded, putting her phone back into her pocket.
He looked over his shoulder and smiled charmingly. "She tells me you don't like Valentine's Day very much…"
As defined at the beginning of the story, Valentine's Day is a very commercialized holiday in Japan. It's customary that the girls are the ones who give out gifts (most commonly chocolate), though guys do the same, but it's pretty uncommon. When a girl reaches around 14 or 15, she's socially obligated to give out chocolate to her male classmates, relatives, and coworkers, even if she doesn't like them. If she doesn't, she's considered rude and even arrogant. And yes, it really is called giri-choko, or "obligated chocolate". Chocolate you give to a loved one like your boyfriend is honmei-choko, and chocolate to your friends is tomo-choko.
On March 14, boys return the favor on White Day. It's basically the same drill as in Valentine's, but it's the guys who are giving out chocolate. It's usually white chocolate or marshmallows, but some even give out lingerie. Silly kinky Japanese boys (hypocrite alert).
Speaking of March 14... This is the news you've all been waiting for: Circles will begin publishing Friday March 14, 2008 at 1:59a PST!!! YAY! That's a month from now! Why March 14, and the specific time? March 14 is Pi Day (my favorite holiday!), and the first six numbers of pi are 3.14159. March 14 is 314, and 1:59a is 159. hence 3.14159... Moreover, pi is associated with mathematical formulas concerning circles... Get it? Plus, that's when I begin my spring break, so it works out pretty well.
So that's it for my Valentine's tribute. If we don't see each other in a oneshot (though chances are pretty high you will), then I'll see you on March 14. Continue to check the blog for Circles updates.
Reviews are for lovers. :)
Enjoy Life and Smile.