A Story of Chestnuts and Mocha
-Round Three: Gone Wrong-
He did not know what was going on.
He did not know if it was a secret or just a practical joke, but Sakura Kinomoto was acting very different from what he had witnessed before. She was being… feminine. Like an actual female human being her age would act.
He glanced at her again, pretending to look at the road behind her. They were seated outside a café, their backs resting against a wooden chair comfortably. There was a bakery right across the huge café, which had just been renovated. He decided to take her there since it was a good few kilometers away from their school, and he wanted to know how she would compose herself once she was comfortably away from the prying eyes of the student body.
He desired for her to act like the baboon he knew she is, but instead, she was bizarrely normal and actually… she was truly quite refined.
He furrowed his eyebrows and nodded at whatever she was shyly talking about, analyzing her; investigating her. Was she like one of those people who had behavior changes because of a traumatic past? He wouldn't go so far as to wish that upon her, but he had hoped that there was this huge secret she was hiding from everyone else that makes her have such a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality.
"…So that's how I accidentally mistook her for my best friend." She daintily covered her mouth with her right hand's fingers, laughing softly at her allegory. She apparently had forgotten what had happened just a good two days before, and she was determined to let the boy of her dreams think that that was just a hallucination.
She exhaled after her gentle burst of mirth, sighing like she was recounting a good memory when in fact, what she was actually recounting was the money she would have to owe her brother after her date. She had stolen a good few bucks from his savings to buy herself something that would resemble a dress. All of her clothes were either old tracksuits or her new uniforms.
Tomoyo helped her pick out an outfit. She had insisted on letting her borrow any of hers, but Sakura was too embarrassed to do so. The clothing that her best friend would undoubtedly lend her would be more of the costume-y type after all, being the dramatic kind of girl that she is.
They decided on choosing a blush-colored dress which had ruched quarter-long sleeves. The garb gathered around her waist with a ribbon at the back. It fanned out a bit, ending at the top of her knees. She wore plum Mary Jane shoes and accessorized with a simple pair of diamond stud earrings fashioned to look like cherry blossoms (those she borrowed from Tomoyo). He would have said she looked beautiful, but he was much too embarrassed to tell the truth.
"No wonder why she's got those bozos drooling all over her," he muttered to himself as he proceeded to order more caffeine. He needed to be as alert as possible to know if she had any secrets that could slip up that would ruin her if exposed. He was a sly fellow, and a smart one at that. He was sure he could get her to tell him something, sooner or later. "Sakura, you're a very admirable girl." He beamed at her, mustering every ounce of charm he had in him to make her believe that statement. She was admirable, sure, but he was still superior.
"Oh, that's such a compliment coming from someone as commendable as you." She waved a hand in the air dismissively. "I'd love to know more about you. You seem so…"
…Great? …Excellent? …Wonderful? ...Awesome? He tried to suppress a smug expression as he felt his head metaphorically grow larger and larger once more. But then he remembered that the date wasn't about him, even though he would have loved if the direction went that way. "Sakura, I bet you're much more than I am with what you were trying to describe me as."
"I'm… manlier?" She looked at him in a confused way, before giggling femininely, tucking a few hair strands behind her ear femininely, and then biting her lower lip femininely. She made sure she did everything as a feminine lady would do, hence the bombarding of the word 'feminine'.
"Ha, ha… you sure are funny." He tried hard not to scowl at the joke, since he did try very hard to make the conversation about her so that he could get more information for his plan to humiliate and destroy her position as Number One. "Sakura, you're too beautiful to ever be mistaken for a guy."
She laughed her pretty head off like a hyena in her mind. Syaoran knew how to please the girls with his words, but unbeknownst to him, she was putting on an act herself. She wanted to be as elegant and refined as she could be, because that was what she knew that men wanted. "Syaoran, your words are much too kind."
A vein on his forehead nearly popped out when she smiled delicately at him and bowed slightly to excuse herself to the ladies' room. He hated how she could put up a performance better than he did. Everything was a competition to him, after all. Oh, he knew she was donning the symbolical mask of being someone completely different. He had witnessed her being completely different, who was she kidding?
We have found out recently that Li Syaoran is a conceited guy who has only one motive in life, which is to be Number One for the rest of eternity. Being showered with praises on a regular basis was his favorite pastime and he can't take it if anybody would even threaten the high position he was in by the smallest measurement. He regarded himself as the King of Perfection. Of course, he tried his best not to show off his vain side to everyone around him, lest he wants his ever-growing fan club to lose its members. But before anyone starts to despise him, please do remember: everyone has a reason. You're probably wondering what his would be.
Sakura Kinomoto hoisted up her long underwear, thankful that she was finally able to relieve herself. "Banshee!" she exclaimed as she opened the bathroom stall.
…Or at least tried to.
"Ala?" That would mean 'huh' in her strange language. "What just happened?" She tried pushing the door by kicking it, only to find herself almost accidentally sitting on an open toilet bowl. "That was close!" She cautiously avoided the toilet bowl by shuffling towards the entrance of the small area before calmly taking out her mobile.
"Help me! I'm trapped in the restroom!" She whispered-shrieked the sentence as she pounded a palm against the cubicle door.
"Lotus butt!" she exclaimed, before ending the call instantly. She didn't use normal expletives since her father discouraged it, if you're thinking 'why on Earth would she say that'. Now you know.
She had wondered why Tomoyo's voice sounded so manly all of the sudden. She should really check the number first before calling it next time.
"…Lotus… butt?" Syaoran cocked his head to the side questionably as his date put down the phone. Was that some kind of insult? He didn't know. "Oh, wait…" she had said something about being trapped. "Was she serious?" A troubled look crossed his features before he stood from his seat, briskly walking towards the bathroom stalls.
He knocked carefully on the door to the ladies' room, afraid that she might be pulling off some kind of prank on him. She was, after all, probably Dr. Jekyll at the moment, he would think to himself. "…Sakura? Are you there?" he reluctantly asked in a hushed tone as he knocked a few more times, pretending to be looking around whenever someone passed by.
He wrinkled his brows as he continued knocking, albeit louder now. "…Sakura?" Was she tricking him? "I'm going in…" why he wouldn't just ask for help from an employee was uncertain, but it probably had to do with the fact that he hated asking for anything from anyone else. He felt he could do everything better on his own, after all.
The girl inside the cubicle, on the other hand, was silently panicking. She had frozen in her position as she heard his voice on the other side. Was he… was he actually going to come barging in? She had fantasized about being a damsel in distress who would be saved by her prince many times before, but not like this! Not in the lavatory, for Pete's hogichika sake (she didn't know who Pete is, she never would, but she still cussed at him in her usual nonsensical ancient talk)!
"I'm going in…!" There was still no response, but what the heck. If this were a prank, he would have anticipated it, anyway. No one would have fooled him in the end. He slowly twisted the doorknob, causing our female protagonist to widen her eyes, her feet still stuck at the same position. You'd think he would have slowly opened the door, too, but he was impatient. He flung it from the outside going in, causing a very unlucky Sakura Kinomoto to fall backwards.
The distinct sound of an ass falling into a toilet bowl could be heard throughout the lavatory, the splashing noise enough to make Li Syaoran realize his mistake. If you're wondering if the 'ass' would be the person or the body part, well… either way would have worked fine. Sakura anticipated falling for a certain someone, but not like that. Said person flailed her arms in the air as she felt her rear end being sucked in as she accidentally pushed the lever for it to flush.
And then she found her voice. Loud sounds of grunting pleas emanated from her mouth as she tried to get up by wiggling her butt. That only made it worse. She was like a plastic doll thrown into a cup. Her legs couldn't function so she couldn't hoist herself up the normal way. Syaoran stared at his date for a few seconds before realizing what was actually going on. "Sakura! S-sorry!" he then quickly pulls her up through her flailing arms, the now-wet lower part of the dress a vivid shade darker compared to the rest of it.
That should have been that. It would have been enough evidence for Syaoran to tarnish her image. High school kids are a relentless, cruel bunch after all. One slip-up would mean an eternity of unforgiving teasing.
He looked at her bowed head, her wet skirt, and the way her body shook. Now he wasn't sure if it was from the cold or from embarrassment. It could easily be both.
And then he did the thinkable.
He secretly took out his mobile, ready to take her picture.
He should have stopped there. What he was about to do was despicable, after all. He wasn't a prince of a guy, and he wasn't supposed to care anymore.
He should have taken the picture. At least in his mind, that's what he thought later on.
Instead, he did the unthinkable. He decided not to take the picture.
Li Syaoran took Sakura's trembling hand in his, leading her towards the area with the hand dryer. He gently placed her back towards the nozzle as he flicked the machine's switch on. He then took out a handful of paper towels from the container beside the sink at the right of the hand dryer, reluctantly handing them out to Sakura, who had still had her head down.
A hiccup came from her as she didn't seem to notice the latest gesture. She was humiliated. Not just in front of anyone else. She was humiliated right in front of the person that mattered most. And he was being so… so nice about it. The circumstance was overwhelmingly mortifying enough to make any girl tear up. He silently sighed as he tilted her chin upwards.
The sight that greeted the lad astonished him to no end.
He'd never seen any other female cry so… so…
Her eyes were as red as Rudolph's red nose, snot was dripping from her nose rather unattractively, and her tears were flying—literally flying—out of her tear ducts.
"W-what is it?" she managed to sniffle her way out of a sentence as she attempted to act feminine again by dabbing the corners of her eyes.
Syaoran took a deep breath, trying hard not to laugh out loud. This girl really was unpredictable. "I-I'll… f-fix… th-th-that…in-instead…" he choked out, attempting with great difficulty to maintain his composure. He carefully held the paper towels to her face as he gently wiped off the tears (and snot, although he did that part discreetly) from her face.
"Thanks." She looked up at him, aware that she might appear like a mess in front of the boy. The fact that he was being kind added to her being embarrassed but it also added to her comfort around him. He really was, in her mind, a prince.
"You're welcome." He smiled at her that dazzling smile of his. It was all part of his plan to make her fall for him after all… at least in one person's mind, it was.
Syaoran would like to think that he possessed only the finest qualities expected of him. He never was told he was otherwise all of those positive things, after all. But once we look at the scenario he and his date would be in at the moment, you might think that he is really, really clueless about his personality.
He didn't understand why every single boy near the stall they had bought her change of clothes in had to ogle at his date.
But technically, he shouldn't consider the scenario as a date since he felt there was no romantic feeling is involved on his part.
The later part of the 'date' would turn out very stressful for him. "They just don't get it," he muttered to himself. 'These moronic cavemen just can't keep their eyes to themselves!' would be the exact thought in his mind right now. He had tried pretending to wrap his arm around her (he didn't want to invade her personal space so he did it mid-air, but the proximity was close enough that passersby would think he really did have an arm around her), tried to clutch her waist possessively (again, this was done mid-air and he wasn't actually touching her), and even tried to block her from every guy's vision. He was contemplating on holding up a sign to say that she was his date, but decided against it. 'People can be so dense', he would ponder to himself. Oh, the irony of that thought.
The truth of the matter is, even though Li Syaoran had only the idea of competition in his mind at the moment, he was possessive enough to be jealous at some point. Back when he was in kindergarten, he refused to share his toys until he realized that that would dirty his image of being the good guy. Why would now be any different? He frowned. Perhaps it was harsh to imply that Sakura Kinomoto is a plaything. She was more of a pawn in his game of being Number One. However, that fact wouldn't erase the other fact that he was now turning into a green-eyed monster.
"Excuse me, miss?"
Here we go again. It's either they can't tell that they were dating or they think that they are siblings or something. Make him wear a wig. Would he look like Sakura Kinomoto?!
"Yes…?" He could not tell why she had to be so polite to everyone.
"Umm… I would just like to…uh… umm… ask if it would be okay if you would take part in a poll for my org." He would be the third guy to ask her that in two hours.
Sakura looked at Syaoran nervously. His face was contorted in a jester's smile, but there was a huge tick on the side of his head.
"Maybe next time, sorry."
The man nodded with a defeated expression before turning away.
She winced at the sight of his features coming to full view when he faced her. His face was getting redder at the moment.
"Are you okay? Do you want to go somewhere else?"
"If it's alright with you..." His teeth were clenched in a very painful way. Sakura nodded, taking a few steps forward to indicate that it would be okay for them to leave. It was getting late anyway.
He felt bad. He came late for their date and then he cut it short. He even (accidentally) pushed her into a toilet bowl! They were heading towards her house now, much to her disappointment. It was eight in the evening, which would be considered far too early for a date to end especially if the said date started at past five in the afternoon. He sighed.
"I'm sorry, Sakura. I really didn't expect things to turn out this way." He meant it.
"It's fine, really." She didn't mean it.
His eyes darted left and right nervously. What was he supposed to say at times like these? It was so awkward, he couldn't stand it anymore. He was the master of being awesome, magnificent and great, not the master of dates! He exhaled rather loudly as he apologized once again. "I'm really sorry. I promise the next time wouldn't be like this. Today should have been better."
She shook her head at his statement. "It's fine, it really is. First dates aren't supposed to be perfect anyway. I mean… I mean, I guess the ones you have been in before were better but…"
"I'll make it up to you, I promise." He tried to dodge the route the conversation was currently going to, especially since he didn't want to reveal that he had never been on a date before. "I'll even be four hours earlier, if possible! That was unacceptable."
She slightly frowned at what he said, but made sure she kept the expression hidden from him. If he had come earlier, then he would have seen her wrestling Takashi. Now that would be unacceptable. "I'll remember that promise."
"A gentleman always keeps his promise to a lady." He bowed courteously before glancing up at her stealthily. That was sure to get a reaction from her.
Sure enough, it did. Her cheeks flushed red as she looked at the ground shyly. She was aiming to be a lady all afternoon, and he actually called her that! Oh, the magnificence of it all! "Y-yes…"
He hid a smirk as he took her hand in his. He was reluctant in doing so at first, but he berated himself to do it. This may be his first date, but he had to make sure to make it appear as if it is his nth one. "…Would you like to sit somewhere first? I realize it's still early."
"That would be nice," she eagerly bobbed her head before catching herself showing of her real side and consequently slowing her nodding. He didn't seem to notice her quick change of character, though, as they proceeded to sit on a bench on the way to her house. "I forgot to thank you for helping me earlier in the restroom, by the way…" She didn't want to bring up the incident, but nothing else happened during their date (much to her dismay). And she was really thankful, anyway. "I was kind of surprised you just came in. Other guys would have probably asked another female employee to do it."
Syaoran let his figuratively swelled head decrease in size before he casually answered, "I don't really trust people to do their work sometimes… actually, most times. So, really, it's no big deal."
"You don't have faith in people to do their job?"
He let go of her hand so he can fidget with his other one, nodding. She noted the breaking of contact, but she didn't think much of it. "I had this really bad experience as a kid."
"Would you mind me asking what happened?"
He hesitated for a while before shaking his head. "My dad got hospitalized when I was younger. I was around four or five at the time, but I knew what being in the hospital was about." He contemplated on elaborating, and he did. It would do nothing against his reputation ultimately. "My dad had been having abdominal aches for a long time, and he didn't complain much about it. When the pain got too much for him to handle, he finally checked himself in the hospital. The doctor said it was nothing serious, but I knew that something was up. Of course, nobody would listen to a brat, but I knew my father. He would never let himself inside such a place if it wasn't something serious." Syaoran grinned wistfully. "He hated hospitals, after all. He hated the smells, but mostly he hated the feel of those kinds of places." The mood of his smile quickly changed to a darker one, which matched the tone of his voice as he continued, "It turned out to be pancreatic cancer. The doctor didn't do his job right in the end."
Sakura's eyes widened slightly at the revelation, surprised that something could have happened to someone so young. Her mother passed away when she was younger too, but she was just a baby when that happened. "Oh… that must have been awful." She didn't know what else to say. She seemed to lose her act as she scrunched her face in thought.
Syaoran looked at her sideways before noticing how wrinkled her face was from thinking deeply. "A-are you okay?"
"It's just so… sad…" And then she began ugly-crying again, he narrated in his mind as he anticipated the snot to come trickling down her nose. "I'm sorry…" She sniffed as she evidently tried to stop her tears from falling.
"I-it's okay… it was so long ago, anyway and…"
"It doesn't matter how long ago it's been!" She looked at him defiantly, the fire she had seen on his eyes before now in hers. "It doesn't matter how old you were, either. Losing someone is difficult, and especially losing someone to something as devastating as that… well, I wouldn't have known how you felt, everyone copes with hurt differently, but…"
He started to chuckle as he noticed how unfeminine she was now. "Oh, I guess your Mr. Hyde now." He bit his lower lip, realizing he had said something he shouldn't have.
"Hyde?" She contemplated on this for a while. "Like from L'Arc~en~Ciel?" She furrowed her eyebrows. She didn't understand the analogy, but was it a compliment?
"Uh… yeah, sure..."
She beamed at him, a toothy grin on her face. She was quickly forgetting the persona she was acting earlier. "Does that mean I'm cool, in a way?"
He thought about her rear end getting stuck in the toilet and her way of crying so un-prettily. "Yes, in a way…" He lied through his teeth. He honestly did not know if he should be annoyed or amused. She was his competition, he tried to remind himself all afternoon, but she sure was one heck of a character.
"I never thought someone would call me cool." Her smile instantly turned into a smirk. "Yeah… yeah, I guess I can be 'cool'." She used air-quotes for the last word, which would make her highly un-cool. She chortled to herself as she stretched out her legs before her.
More like 'goofy'. His musings were really mean, but please understand. He felt like a toddler whose candy got stolen from him, what with her getting his position at the top. "Yes, right…"
"I never thought I'd get a compliment from you, Syaoran. You're so great after all." He knew he was, but he wanted to hear more. She proceeded, saying "When I gave you the letter that I wrote from English class before, I honestly didn't think you'd take it, much less go on a date with me. It… it's been a few months since then, but I really am thankful. You have so many girls chasing after you, and I really thought you wouldn't give me a chance but you did, and…"
"I've liked you ever since you gave me the letter." It was another lie. He felt guilty, hearing her say such nice things about him. And the only thing he felt could bury that guilt into the ground was another lie. But lies never solve anything.
She looked at him, flabbergasted. "Y-you did?"
"I did." He didn't dare glance her way, choosing to ruefully fumble with his hands again.
"That… really makes me happy…"
He gave her a strained smile, still not looking directly at her. "You make me happy."
"Ah! Look!" he followed the direction she was pointing at. There was a huge pink bunny by the toy store parallel to where they were standing. It was handing out balloons, which was pretty strange since it was nighttime already.
His grin widened. "Would you like one?" she nodded. They walked hand in hand towards the bunny.
"I'd like to buy the… which color would you like, Sakura?"
The way he said out her name made her heart flutter for a while. Her name sounded so nice when he said it. "The yellow one, please."
He nodded, handing out the money to pay for the yellow balloon.
"Thank you." She wasn't wearing the dress she had soaked in toilet water earlier, but the dress they bought in exchange for that for her to wear still suited her quite nicely. The white of her dress seemed to glimmer in the dark of the night, the eyelet flowers adding to the dainty look. She appeared very feminine, and it was a reputation she also had in school. She was far from that, Syaoran reminded himself, the image of her secretly releasing air from her derriere enough to make him remember that he wasn't supposed to be attracted to her.
Attracted… attract…attracting…attraction! He was about to forget his plan of making her fall for him. Thankfully, he remembered to act on it. He pecked her on the cheek, saying, "You're welcome."
It was an innocent little gesture.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?"
He jumped back, startled. The bunny was strangling him now.
"What the hell are you doing?" he grunted back, trying to gasp out for air. The bunny held him with one furry paw, the other paw taking off the large whiskered head. It revealed messy dark brown hair on top of a handsome, chiseled face.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING TO MY LITTLE SISTER, YOU BRAT?!"
A/N: I'd like to thank Adri Mars from the bottom of my heart for helping me write this chapter. This update wouldn't have happened without her help. If you've got the time, please check out her wonderful story, "Stuffed Animal". It's well worth the read.
As always, please don't forget to review :) Updates will be posted shortly.