Machi looked around the school gym and all the pink decoration hanging across the walls. She sighed, taking a seat in a far corner, away from all the giddy teenagers, wondering once again why she had even bothered coming. It's not like a boy had asked her to go with them. She didn't have any girlfriends who had invited her to come along. She scanned the crowd, trying to remember what had convinced her to show up.
For the past few weeks, the student council had been putting the Valentine's Day dance together. Many classes of all grades had suggested it and once they had decided to actually do it, everyone had been very excited and had done everything they could to help the student council put it together, like making decorations and buying refreshments.
It had been like any other event that had to be organized by the student council and Machi hadn't thought much of it until just two days before the actual event while they had been making the last minute adjustments to the dance.
"So," Kakeru had begun, leaning back in his chair lazily, "which of you are actually going to go to this thing?"
"I am, of course!" Kimi burst out, clapping her hands together excitedly. "Kimi is going to dance with every boy of every grade! I'll dance with the chaperones! I'll dance with the DJs! Every boy will be blessed that night with Kimi's presence, I assure you!"
Nao shot her an annoyed look, glancing over his pile of paperwork that everyone else refused to help him with. "What makes you think they'll all want to dance with you?"
Kimi's eyes grew wide as she stared at him, dumbfounded. "Of course they will. What kind of question is that?"
"I heard that The President of the Yuki Sohma fan club is coming," Kakeru whispered to Nao tauntingly under his breath, "so I'm going to assume that you'll be going, too?"
Kimi gasped in horror. "Nao's actually is attempting to flirt with a girl?"
"It's funny, isn't it?" Kakeru whispered back. "This should be hilarious."
Nao was already turning red. "What makes you think that I'm going to go just because she is? I don't care what she does! I have no connection to her!"
Kimi and Kakeru exchanged a look. "Not yet."
Nao was about to say something back when Yuki walked into the room. "Sorry I'm late. I had to ask my English teacher something." He paused before adding, "Somehow, I think she doesn't like me. Ever since my cousin went in for Honda-san's parent-teacher conference…"
"Whatever, Yun-Yun. No one cares," Kakeru interrupted. "There are more important matters to discuss right now." Kakeru's face became all business and Yuki, taken aback by his sudden serious demeanor, listened intently to what he said next. "Yun-Yun, this is one of the biggest issues that I'm sure has been in the back of every high schooler's mind these past few weeks." His mouth twitched into a smirk. "Who is Prince Yuki bringing to the dance?"
He rolled his eyes and went over to Nao to assist him with his paperwork. "That's not important. The only reason I'm going is to make sure everything goes correctly and there isn't a crisis of any sort. I'm not dancing."
Machi looked up curiously from her work. Why wouldn't someone like the president want to go to the dance when he could go with whomever he wanted to?
"Their affections are wasted on you," Kakeru muttered sadly. "I guess princesses like you are too shy to ask people to the dance…what a shame…. Ah, youth truly is wasted on the young!"
"Did you say something?" Yuki asked in an acidic voice.
Kimi sat next to Kakeru, smiling. "Are you going to bring your girlfriend to the dance?"
His eyes grew wide in horror. "You have no idea how bad she dances! That would be such a humiliation!"
"So you're not bringing anyone either, but you're picking on me?" Yuki asked.
"You know…" Kimi thought aloud, "it seems more likely that Kakeru's the bad dancer here, but he's just blaming it on his girlfriend!"
No longer interested, Machi blocked them out, focusing only on her paperwork. She could hear the buzz of their conversations in the background, but she wasn't paying attention enough to make out the words. All she could see was her paperwork. Not until she heard her name did she snap back to reality.
"Machi!" Kimi called, "What about you? Are you going? Kimi is sure you're a great dancer!"
Machi looked up, annoyed that she had been distracted from her work. "I don't go to out of school events."
Kimi rolled her eyes. "Whatever. It's not like you're a good dancer, anyway."
Nao sighed. "But you just said…"
Kakeru stood up so quickly that he knocked down all the papers Nao had spent the last hour filing into ABC order. "This is a crime! You must come, Machi! If you don't, the very world on which we live with fall to pieces!"
"Just like your brain!" Nao cried in aggravation. "I'm not filing these again! I'm done!" He stood up and stormed out of the office.
"It is getting late," Kimi agreed, skipping out after him. "I'll see you!"
Once they were gone, Yuki asked, "So, Kakeru, did you get a DJ yet? You're cutting it pretty close, getting something this late."
He smiled. "Don't worry, it's under control! I've got the best possible DJ anyone could ever get, even though it is last minute!"
Yuki looked up from his paperwork with fear in his eyes, as did Machi.
"My brother?" he verified.
Kakeru looked back in forth between their frightened expressions and nodded slowly. "Is that…a problem?"
Yuki sighed. "Well, I guess he would've come anyway if Shigure told him I was going, so it doesn't really matter."
Machi sighed, remembering the last time she had met his brother. This wasn't someone she wanted to deal with again.
And yet, here she was, sitting alone in the corner at the dance as the very person she had been thinking about screamed about the most unimportant, absurd things you could think of into his microphone before he played another one of his terrible songs.
Machi sighed, looking around to see who had come. She recognized many faces from school. It was bad enough she had to see them in school, let alone out of school. The only real reason she had come was fear that Kakeru would kill her if she didn't, but he didn't seem to be anywhere in sight…
Just as she was thinking of this, she heard someone call her name. She looked up to see Kakeru, Yuki, and a few of their friends walking over to her, waving.
"You actually came!" Kakeru cried excitedly. "We did a great job, huh? Everyone's having a great time!"
"Did you just get here?" Yuki asked.
"Oh!" Kakeru gasped. "Look, she's wearing red, just like Yun-Yun said!"
Becoming annoyed, she leapt up so she was at eyelevel with Kakeru. He held his hands up in front of himself defensively. "Mercy, Mercy! I was merely teasing you!"
Yuki looked over his shoulder. "It seems that Kimi's living up to her promise. I haven't seen her take a break all night long! I just hope she doesn't dance with my brother…that would be so awkward."
"Nao didn't bother coming," Kakeru added. "He's even shyer than princess Yuki!" Now Yuki was giving him the deadly stare Machi had used just moments ago. "Mercy! Mercy!"
A slow song filled the air. The lights seemed to dim a bit. Machi sighed. How much more could she take of this terrible dance? She had only been there five minutes and she was already miserable.
Yuki's orange haired cousin went off to dance with Tohru Honda and all of his friends and Kakeru's partnered off and wandered onto the floor. Only the three student council members remained.
Kakeru sighed. "I'd love to dance, but Komaki would kill me!"
"Dance with Machi," Yuki suggested. "She wouldn't mind if you danced with your sister!"
"That's right!" he agreed. "Come on, Machi, let's go!"
Just as he said this, the Yuki Fan Club leader walked over and asked Yuki to dance. Kakeru urged him to accept, saying that it would be a fun story to tell Nao. So, everyone went off to dance.
Machi wrapped her arms loosely around Kakeru's shoulders, regretting coming more than ever. The last person she's ever wanted to dance with was her moronic half-brother. She tried to concentrate on the other people who were dancing around her rather than the person she was dancing with. Sure enough, Kimi had taken Ayame to dance. Tohru Honda seemed very flustered, as did Kyo Sohma. Yuki and his partner danced right next to them. Machi watched them, a sudden feeling of loneliness sweeping over her.
"Snowball!" someone cried out. Machi, not knowing what that meant, didn't move until Kakeru let go of her.
"It's the sign to switch partners," he explained. He left her to go dance with Tohru. Kyo had already been forced into the arms Saki Hanajima.
Machi looked around, not knowing what to do next but leave. She was about to walk to the door when he called her name, holding his hand out and bowing elegantly.
"Will you accept my proposal of dance?" he asked.
She felt like laughing, but she didn't exactly know how to. "Um, I suppose," she muttered, becoming flustered.
She hesitantly walked over to him and took his hand, placing her other hand on his shoulder as he wrapped his around her waist, pulling her close to him. They began to sway back in forth to the music. Machi leaned her head on his shoulder, praying that he couldn't see that her face was as red as her dress.
She was well aware of Kakeru watching from where he was, smirking. It was almost as if he had planned it to end like this all along. A group of girls watched her jealously from the side of the gym, whispering to each other angrily.
The song ended to soon, and then the dance was over. All the teenagers began filing out of the gym, laughing and gossiping about the night's events. Machi released Yuki, stepping back until she bumped into Kakeru, who she hadn't noticed was right behind her.
"I'm going to find Kimi and then let's get the hell out of here!" he laughed. "I'm starving!" He wandered off, examining the crowd until he found Ayame and Kimi, who were also watching Yuki and Machi suspiciously.
"We can wait for them outside," Yuki suggested. "I'm not in the mood for dealing with my brother right now."
"Neither am I," Machi agreed.
They walked out side by side into the cold night air. They parking lot was nearly deserted beside a few cars that were driving off.
"Did you walk?" he asked, "or are you getting a ride?"
"You can come with us, then. Kimi's dad offered to give everyone a ride home."
Machi nodded, turning to look at him uncertainly. He seemed to be the same as usual. She frowned, wondering why the dance had left her so much more flustered than it had him.
"You're a better dancer than I thought," he added, "no offense."
She shook her head, feeling the heat rising to her cheeks again. "That was probably because you were leading. I hardly ever dance."
"Neither do I."
She wrapped her arms around herself, becoming cold, as she examined the empty parking lot, wondering if his one comment and dance had been enough to come for.
shrugged off his jacket and handed it to her. "Knowing them, it'll
be another ten minutes until they actually come out. Here, wear
Machi accepted it, pulling it onto her, feeling more and more embarrassed with every passing second. She wondered if he could hear how fast her heart was beating. This must be why all her classmates considered him a prince.
"I actually had fun," he said thoughtfully. "I thought it was going to be a bore like all the other dances. We should put together another one of these again." He glanced over at her hesitantly. "Would you come again if we did?"
She shrugged. "Would you?"
She shrugged again. "I suppose I could, if I felt like that."
you'll dance more next time."
He smiled to himself and turned away. She looked down at her feet.
and Kimi burst out of the gym. "Alright, guys! Ready to roll? Kimi's dad's going to pick us up down the street!"
They nodded and headed off into the night. They joked about what had happened and relayed stories. Machi dragged behind the three, lost in thought.
Maybe it had been a good idea to come after all.