He heard a sort of crash in the kitchen

How Shin and Kumiko spent Valentines Day.

He heard a sort of crash in the kitchen. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice.

Riiiight. What kind of stupid idiot would try to sneak into this place, anyway?

The sound came from the kitchen. And he could just imagine what he'd find there, too.

Of course, at this very moment, he was finding the sight in front of him, just a little bit hard to believe.

Well…okay. Not really.

"Do I want to know what this is?" He drawled, in that annoying, lazy manner, as he took in her rather…blotched appearance.

Some sort of brown liquid was smeared on her glasses, her clothes, dripping from her hair…the rest, pooled around her feet…and the pan she was using.

She jerked at the sound of his voice, and laughed nervously. Dammit! Why was he always the one to catch her, anyway!!

"Ehehehe…ehe...um. Nothing." She answered guiltily, as she turned around to see…

…a half-naked Shin in only his pajama bottoms, riding a bit low on his hips. She felt warmth suffuse her cheeks as she willed her gaze upwards, to meet an expression that could be called 'pretended curiosity' like he was asking her merely because he felt he had to. Ooooh! He could be so annoying!!

He padded closer to her slowly, inhaling as he did, stopping a little bit in front of her, just a little away from the muddy liquid her feet were in. She was holding a pitcher of water.

"I see." He muttered. He extended an arm, and reached forward. With a finger, he wiped the brown smudge just below the corner of her lower lip-very slowly-and she saw him stick the tip of his finger in his mouth.

She had been watching him and felt slightly hypnotized as he seemed to analyze the taste for a moment.

"You slipped while trying to add water, huh." She heard him say. "Figures."

He turned, and started to walk out of the kitchen, saying "I'm going back to my room."

Though the tone sounded casual, she didn't miss the look of disgust that passed his features, that disappeared fast enough, she wondered if she'd really seen it.

And again, for some stupid reason, she felt as if he was wordlessly accusing her of something, and that she had better explain.

"I-I was making it-"

She saw him stop. And she didn't know how to continue.

"For that lawyer. Yeah. No need to say it." She heard him grumble. Why did Shin always get so touchy about Shinohara-sensei, anyway?

Why, if she didn't know any better, she'd think he was…he couldn't be, right? And even as she denied it, every time she was with Shinohara-sensei, Shin always got this look on his face like he wanted to break something. And in an odd, uncomfortable, horrifyingly upsetting sort of way, things were beginning to make sense…

"Shin…"She began, a look of dread and betrayal on her face, "You're not…? No you possibly can't be. I mean, it's just too, but then I…"

He turned to look at the woman who was now babbling an incoherent stream of words at him.

"What?" He asked, irritation beginning to show.

"Shinohara-sensei didn't dump you, did he?" She asked, suddenly. "And just in time for Valentines, too." She added, to herself mostly, in a low murmur.

She saw Shin's face go completely red, almost matching his hair perfectly, eyes going round, as he gasped a firm, indignant "WHAT?!" at the question.

Apparently, he had heard her.

Shin, on the other hand, wondered how this question came about.

On second thought…he didn't really want to know.

Unfortunately, he had a very good idea. Somewhere along the lines of, 'She's dense in a completely twisted sort of way'

Apparently, she had noticed his reaction to her closeness with the lawyer, and had completely misunderstood the reason why.

Why did this particular fact not even surprise him.

He didn't know if he should correct this assumption of hers or not, but he honestly didn't know how to respond. He slapped a hand against his face and muttered "whatever," this time, really intending to leave her there.

"It's okay if you're gay, you know. I can take it." As she sniffed a little, her voice sounding suspiciously like it wasn't okay, and she was nowhere near 'taking it,' at all.

"I'm not gay, stupid." Floated back from the hallway, where Shin already was, probably on his way to his room. She cleaned up the mess moments later, and chose to take a bath first, before starting over, since it already felt sticky and disgusting.

Upon returning to her room, she found a post-it on her door.

"You don't need to add water. Boil water in a pot over a low fire, put a metal bowl over it, and, using a spatula, prod and stir the chocolate in the metal bowl to melt the chocolate evenly, then put it into the molds you prepared."

And while Shin only wanted to lessen the mess/damage she was making (really, as if he'd help her make something for that jerk willingly), somehow, this just seemed to confirm her theory that Shin was, indeed, gay. Why else would he give her helpful hints? Of course! It was because he didn't want Shinohara-sensei eating something awful!

HOW THE HELL DID HE KNOW HOW TO MELT CHOCOLATE, ANYWAY?! ALL HE EVER SEEMED TO EAT WAS INSTANT NOODLES!!

In a small voice, in an emotion that seemed vaguely similar to panic or despair, she asked herself:

He didn't learn how, just to make some for Shinohara-sensei, did he?!

The very idea was both sweet and sickening to her. And she didn't exactly know what to do about/how to react to this particular facet in Shin's personality she had just discovered.

It was not a thought that sat well with either of them, for the very same reason, incidentally, though, Kumiko was blissfully aware of what that reason was.

Which, of course, was now beginning to worry Kumiko, since she never once thought of herself as 'gay-hater,' but just could not accept the idea (strongly rejected it, in fact, though she insisted the contrary to herself just as secretly), of a gay Shin.

And just to show that stupid Shin she wasn't upset, she decided to make him chocolates for Shin to give Shinohara-sensei at his own leisure, tomorrow. On Valentines Day.

An evil chuckle escaped her as she began her task. Oh, yes. He'll get his chocolates, alright

…….

He saw the awkwardly-wrapped package on his bed, just as he stepped out of the shower, and knew what it would be.

Well…he didn't really want to get his hopes up. After all, the dumb woman would likely be of the firm belief (by now) that he was, indeed, gay. (much to his severe dismay)

So what exactly was this?

And with a sudden flash of inspiration, he knew.

Really. After two years with her, it was a miracle she hadn't rubbed off on him…much.

He gingerly took the note, and read it, his suspicions firmly cemented.

"As thanks for last night, you can have these to give to Shinohara-sensei if you like." It said.

He was torn between curiosity, and common sense. Because common sense told him that this was made by her, and it would likely be a disaster, however helpful his instructions were. But curiosity insisted he taste it, to see just how awful (or good) it really was, since she intended it for that jerk, Shinohara Tomoya.

And oh, let's not forget that totally disgusting part of him that was just a teensy-weensy bit anxious to taste something made by her, because of that very reason, though it would probably send him to the hospital.

Suddenly, an image to the Shingumi flashed in his mind.

"Oi, Shin! We're eating this, okay?" He could almost hear them say.

A half smile now played on his lips, as he put his uniform on. Hehe.

Well. That was one way to do it.

He heard a rather heavy-handed knock against his door as a surly, female voice asked him if he was done, yet.

He opened the door, catching her, just before she fell forward. What was she leaning on the door for, anyway?

"You're not sleepwalking are you?" He asked, in an unsurprised tone.

"Quit yapping and get moving." She grumbled. She wished he didn't stay over that much. He could be such a pain.

"By the way, what's this?" Kyou suddenly asked, dangling the red fishnet pouch he saw fall out of Shin's bag, which he had just picked up.

Kumiko stared in horror. It was the one she had put the chocolates in!! AND THEY WERE IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE KUMI!!

"Oh. That." Shin merely said, in a bored voice. DAMN THAT BRAT, THIS WAS HIS FAULT!! AND HE WASN'T EXPLAINING A DAMN THING!!

"You're not helping!!" She growled, in a low voice. "And after I went through all the trouble to make that for you!!"

"No one asked you to, stupid." Shin shot back. "Like I'd actually give that dumb lawyer anything."

"I know you're just shy and all…"

"I AM NOT SHY, DAMMIT!"

"I SEE." Kyou-san mentioned, reading the note, interrupting the rather interesting LQ the two were having. "Young Master Red Lion. I never expected you to do such a thing. For you to make Ojou chocolates to give Shinohara-sensei, isn't that a bit too…"

"You've got it all wrong!!" Shin protested violently, not about to give the Young Chief any strange ideas. "Do you really think I'd..?"

"I made it, okay!" Yankumi admitted, finally losing patience regarding the whole issue. "I was making chocolates for Ojii-san, but since I didn't know how, Shin caught me making a mess, and gave me instructions. So I gave him those."

"Why would the Red Lion want to give Shinohara-Sensei..? "

And suddenly, the Young Chief didn't have to ask. It was easy enough to guess what happened.

That, upon suspecting the Ojou of making chocolates for the Lawyer, Shin had lost his temper, and somehow made the Ojou notice/remember his ill-humor whenever the young man saw the two together.

And to say that the redhead's reaction had been misunderstood in amazingly huge proportions was probably an understatement.

The Young Chief began to laugh. The rest of the kumi, knowing Shin as they did, as well as their Ojou, seemed to have reached the same conclusion, and began laughing, as well.

"HEY!" Kumiko shouted. "SO WHAT IF SHIN'S GAY, THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!! " Or so she said, though it was upsetting her horribly, by the second.

The audience only laughed harder. And for the first time in his life, Shin understood what the phrase "die of shame" would probably feel like. If he didn't feel like strangling her that very moment.

Wait…did she just say she was making it for her grandfather?

"YA MONKEYS BETTER STOP LAUGHING RIGHT NOW, IF YA KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU." She said in a voice of deadly calm.

Nobody was paying attention. She was about to start kicking their asses, too, when he laid a restraining hand on her arm.

This minimal physical contact, made her heartbeat fluctuate for a moment, which had decidedly confused her, and diffused the situation effectively. And because everyone was too busy laughing, in the midst of all the noise, they found themselves in a strangely private moment.

"So…you really weren't making it for that Lawyer?" He asked quietly.

Her breath caught, as she tried to answer. "Ah, um…eheheheh….anou sa..."

He handed her the note on the chocolates, and lightly tilted her face to the side.

"Thanks." He murmured, lips lightly grazing her ear, as he stepped away from the still laughing goons, leaving her staring after him, in mute, open-mouthed shock.

And so it was much to 3-D's surprise that Yamaguchi Kumiko was late for their first period with her. And with a phenomenal blush on their face, they teased her mercilessly.

"Aw, Yankumi! Valentines came early this year, huh! Is that why you're late?"

"You're actually blushing! You can actually do it?"

"Man, I was thoroughly convinced she was some sort of robot or something."

"So who's the unlucky guy, eh?"

And while each taunt was causing Yamaguchi Kumiko, AKA, Yankumi, to the edge, pissing her off royally, Shingumi, on the other hand, were looking curiously at the pack of chocolates on Shin's desk.

"Man, how could you even get some, this early?" Minami asked, dejectedly.

"A bunch of girls regularly give him chocolates this time of year." Kuma added. "Wonder who this is from."

"Maybe we should taste it to find out!" Ucchi suggested, eagerly, but before he had even a chance to nick one, Shin had, against his better judgment, snatched it up, and took a bit, expecting the worst…

Hey.

It wasn't half bad.

Then he remembered. She was expecting him to give it to that dumb lawyer, after all.

"Shin." A low, threatening voice called, from just behind him. "You weren't planning on testing that chocolate on Ucchi, were you?"

And because he was in a bad mood, he had decided to answer her.

"Why are you interested?"

At this, 3-D suddenly became quiet. All eyes were now on their homeroom teacher, as the question hung uneasily in the air. A question that both spurred their imagination, while all sorts of reasons filtered through their minds, none of them pleasant.

She giggled nervously, and just as she answered with a thoroughly unconvincing "Cuz it's not the sort of thing a friend should do?" the bell rang.

Nobody even tried to question it, and just made hasty excuses to leave the room, on their way to Fujiyama-sensei's music class.

And before she could punish him for getting her into trouble, he asked her in a sullen voice;

"So you didn't make it directly for the Lawyer…but you expected him to have it anyway, huh. By making me deliver it, too."

There it was, again. That guilty feeling that made her want to explain herself to him, as he wore that irritated, accusing, upset expression. Wasn't she trying to do something for him, as much as she hated it? Why couldn't he just be thankful like any normal person would (of course, something told her his thanks would probably just make her skin crawl, confirming that Shin really was, in fact, gay, to be grateful for her to be able to give Shinohara-sensei valentine chocolate.)

Faced with a mute reply, and unsure he would be able to restrain himself from saying something he might regret, he had picked up his bag, and was about to step out the door, when a hesitant voice replied in a hurried tone;

"The plan was that you'd be suspicious of it, and not give it, anyway."

The woman was really too lame, when it came to evil plans and subterfuge.

Was he really going to believe this lame excuse?

Of course…it was her.

"Did it never occur to you that I could've just made some, and given it to him, instead?"

Her eyes went round as saucers, as she covered her mouth. "You didn't…"

The desire to shake her really hard was a little hard to control at this very moment.

"I'm not gay. I'm beginning to think that my telling you this is pointless."

"But, Shin, why else would you…?"

Unable to take the idiocy that was coming out of her mouth, and to hopefully get it across that he was NOT GAY, he pressed his lips against hers, effectively cutting her off, and while initial contact was rather awkward, he willed himself to adjust, to try a gentler approach, as he ran his palm up and down her back, in a slow manner, to hopefully, distract her enough that she'd forget to kill him right away.

Which, surprisingly…she did. It was only when, a few seconds later, the bell that signified the end of the five-minute break, in between classes sounded, that they both seemingly noticed that they were, in fact, sharing a rather nice kiss, that Kumiko, upon realizing what was happening, realized everything that it implied, which caused her to push Shin a bit violently, and punch him with a right hook. Of course, while it was what got their attention, this little detail was about to be forgotten, as hell had just broken loose.

That. That-that-THAT was her first kiss, THE BASTARD!!

"Okay. I deserved that. Ow." She heard him mutter.

"WHAT were YOU thinking, IDIOT? We're IN SCHOOL!! HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING!!"

He could see her demon-face, the aura surrounding her emanating murderous intent.

Part of him wanted to ask why she kissed back. Part of him wanted to ask if it was the location that bothered her. And why she was putting all the blame on him, when it was she who usually insisted on her being "the adult," she rarely acted like. He knew it was the fact that they had just kissed her that was making him retarded. Or cheeky. Or both.

"Do you want me to lie?" He asked, in a suspiciously quiet voice.

"Why would I want you to?" She asked, incredulous at his daring.

"Because every time I try to tell you the truth, you never listen, or you misunderstand, and put everything into a completely twisted context." He replied, matter-of-factly.

"When I said I wasn't gay, did you listen?" He asked, more to the point.

It was as if he had splashed her with cold water.

Was that why he kissed her?

With this extremely dubious reason, she asked "Couldn't you have proved it some other way?"

"And how many times, today, exactly, did I try to explain it?" He asked, again, this time, a frown on his face, his eyes narrowing at her accusingly. "Whose fault was it that The Young Chief and the others were laughing their asses off, this morning?"

(a/n: Oh, yeah. Way to go for misdirection!)

And just like that, any feelings of annoyance were temporarily forgotten (or ignored) since there was no way to answer this question safely (or extricate her from being the guilty party).

"So…you're not…gay." She said, slowly, cottoning to the idea. She didn't really understand the extreme relief she felt, but why bother? The reason wasn't as important as the fact. Shin was not gay!

"Really," Shin replied, rolling his eyes. "If you're not going to listen, stop asking."

At this point, Shin thought he'd make a hasty retreat. Who knew if she'd notice what he just did. When it came to the psychotic things the woman thought up, one could only guess, and he could do it pretty well...usually.

Since today was something new, he had best play it safe.

They had continued to argue, and she resorted to "sparring" with his, when they got back to the kumi, later that evening, to get even.

And, all things considered, only one thing was on Shin's mind.

With a satisfied smirk, in the safety of his room, at the Ooedo's his one thought was...

"It was worth it."