For some dangnabit reason, I couldn't write a different version of Yunoki. Maybe, it's because I kinda like his darker side? Amou-san was right when she said that he's too perfect, it's almost suspicious; and Hino-san as well, when she exclaimed, "demon!"
I love it when he starts teasing Kahoko; and the oh-so-ever subtle jealousy he throws in here and there is just adorable.
La Corda d'Oro Primo Passo fiction
© Yuki Kure, LaLa shōjo magazine
For what seemed to be the millionth time (and counting), Yunoki Azuma berated himself for jumping in the misery-band wagon. Of course, he'd die first before he admitted it to the whole world, but he couldn't exactly blame Kahoko for being unbelievably dense to the point of actually annoying him. Like he often said his rhythm always gets messed-up whenever she was around, and even more whenever she's around somebody else who expressed a sense of unrelenting interest within the perimeter of his sight.
So, in a nutshell, Azuma felt as if a gigantic bee had stung him one afternoon as he saw Kahoko enjoying her weekend with Hihara Kazuki.
All these weren't about who met her first, or who was always on her side to get her out of trouble; or even, who helped her realize her love for the violin (no, of course, he wasn't referring to anyone in particular who happened to show subtle yet distinct signs of interest.). He didn't need to have those points; and besides, if his serenade didn't cut across her blood-brain barrier the night of their post-concours summer camp, then he doubted any subtle approach would work on her anymore. That, of course, didn't mean he couldn't use it to his advantage. He took pride over the fact that he was the only one among the male competitors who blasted off towards her side in no time at all; and because of that, he felt that some people might already be wondering since when did they got this close— and by "this close", he meant that he was the only one who ever managed to land a kiss on her head.
Azuma's lips quirked, forming a microscopic smile at the memory.
He was Yunoki Azuma after all; and he had his own way around things, especially if it concerned cornering Hino Kahoko.
"My, my..." he suppressed a grin at their wide-eyed reactions, "aren't we enjoying ourselves today."
"Yunoki!" despite his exuberance, Hihara seemed a bit flustered, "I didn't expect to see you here."
"Hmm?" Azuma looked at them, noting that Kahoko's cheeks were slightly tinged in pink, "Am I interrupting something?"
"I-iie... no! No!" he laughed, "Of course not!"
"I see," he smiled benevolently. Well, of course he was, "I was actually on my way to get something, so I wondered if you would like to go with me..."
"Ahh..." Hihara seemed to be at a loss, "that would be nice, Yunoki—"
"Eh? Is it someone's birthday, Yunoki-senpai?"
"No, not really…" he smiled, immediately diverting his attention to Kahoko's question, "Miyabi was supposed to get it but obaa-sama asked her to come along, so I volunteered myself to save time."
"Well," said Kahoko, thoughtfully, "what's it for then?"
Azuma sneaked a glance at Hihara and smiled inwardly at his... expression. He didn't know what it was but he's certain he wasn't too happy about his intrusion, "haha no hi."
Said expression was wiped off Hihara's face, and Kahoko looked about ready to faint.
He simply smiled angelically at them.
Azuma concluded that this was all déjà vu; the difference being the actual set-up and the reason of their coming to this place. On the other hand, that wasn't the case for Hihara and Kahoko.
From the time that they stepped out of the car and into the big parkway of the Yunoki clan's flower farm, Azuma had heard and seen nothing but positive-sounding sighs and twinkling eyes. Of course, anybody would be impressed by the sight; and although it was not unusual for Hihara to act like a floundering carp in the middle of a pond, it unsettled him a bit to actually connect Hihara to gawking over carpets of flowers since he was good at making the impression of being too much of a male sometimes.
"Ne, Kaho-chan," Hihara was critically looking at a bunch of flowers, "do you think I should get these roses or these... other flowers?"
"I'm not really sure... it's kind of hard to decide since they're all beautiful."
"How about those red carnations, then?" smiled Azuma, "It's the traditional flower for Mother's Day after all."
"Hmm, I know that but I just want something different and unique for my mom," he grinned, "or maybe I could have a combination of both, what do you think, Yunoki?"
"Hai, hai... that's a pleasant idea," Azuma nodded; then, an idea struck him, "and since we're talking about flowers from a lady's perspective, should we ask Hino-san what flower suits her liking?"
"Eh?!" she blushed adorably, shaking her head frantically.
"That's a nice idea!" It looked like Hihara's brain hitched on the same idea, "What do you think, Kaho-chan?"
"Well, Hino-san?" Azuma thought she looked like she'd been convicted of a murder, "Which flower do you like best?" Then again, he couldn't blame her for acting all jumpy whenever his attention was directed towards her.
"A-Ano," there was an abrupt halt that Azuma didn't fail to follow, before whispering, "It's too bad they only bloom one summer night."
Azuma froze. He did not just hear that, especially when he thought earlier that his serenade didn't even cut across her blood-brain barrier, did he?
"Kaho-chan?" Hihara appeared to be puzzled. So it wasn't just his imagination if Hihara heard it as well, "Did you just say something?"
"I-Iie! Nothing! I just remembered smelling something really nice along the driveway earlier," her smile came out more naturally, "It just reminded me of something..." she avoided Azuma's eyes, "something rather nice..."
He simply did not know what to make out of it, but… "If it's from the driveway," said Azuma, a bit more seriously than what he intended, "then maybe we should visit the greenhouse. There are more flowers there."
"Yosh!" Hihara bounced ahead of them; appearing determined to pick some more for reasons that Azuma could only imagine, "Then let's go there!"
Azuma and Kahoko stared after Hihara's perky trail. While the latter was obviously thinking about how he never seemed to run out of energy; the former, however, was thinking about taking this opportunity to remove his mask. Telling Hihara his secret wasn't exactly part of his plans, so he had to be careful
"Kahoko," the sudden change of tone in his voice (and the addressing, perhaps) halted Kahoko from following Hihara immediately, "Just what do you mean by that?"
"Those flowers in the summer camp," he was surprised when she looked at him with more confidence now than from the first time he even dared show her this darker side, "I never really told you how much I liked them."
Like he said, he ought to be careful, "You're being annoying again."
"Yunoki-senpai," he went ahead, but not without keeping the smile that he saw on her lips, "if you weren't so mean, I'd say you're just embarrassed."
"Hm," and as usual, her spontaneity never ceased to surprise him, "stop imagining things."
It was already getting dark when they reached the suburbs; each of them bearing a couple of craftily arranged flowers made by the Yunoki clan's experts in the art of ikebana (and one by Azuma himself). Hihara was the first one to get off Azuma's car, thanking him profusely for taking him on the trip and (honestly) for reminding him that it was mother's day tomorrow. After a few sugar-coated conversations that made Kahoko appear a bit uncomfortable as what Azuma had rightly guessed since he had that effect on her, they stopped by the park nearest to where Kahoko lived.
"Yunoki-senpai, I was just wondering," said Kahoko as they walked around, "why did you ask me and Hihara-senpai to come over?"
"Hmm," he pretended to think. Honestly, had he not anticipated being asked of his reason sooner or later, he wouldn't know what to say, "It's because I could tell from your stupid looks that you've forgotten a special holiday." He rephrased.
"Right," she said, irately, "but still, that's kind of nice of you to invite us over."
"You're unusually annoying today," her smiling face forced him to look away for some reason, "and creepy too. Are you sick or something?"
"Iie," her smile got bigger, "I'm just really happy."
He caught her hair between his fingers, and marveled at how different it was from anything he had seen and felt in this world, "it's just really unfortunate that…" he trailed off.
"Huh?" she asked, "Senpai?"
Well, he couldn't exactly say, "It's just really unfortunate that Hihara tagged along" could he? He never intended to say that out loud anyway.
"It's just unfortunate that you're such an ordinary person," he cleared his throat and released her hair, "I just remembered telling you that it would have been more convincing if you have more brains and beauty."
"Well, excuse me for being ordinary," she pouted with indignation, "Like I said before, it's not that I'm here to please you, you know."
"... That's exactly the problem," he whispered.
When he saw her eyes grow like a pair of saucers, and the tell-tale signs of a blush had begun to appear, he did what he was good at doing.
"Really..." he laughed at her, "I just can't get enough of that look," and confused her to pieces, "You're really cute, Kahoko."
"I'm not sure what I'll make out of you sometimes, Yunoki-senpai," she said darkly, "but you sure enjoy making fun of me."
"Well, yes... that's true," he managed a smile that often sent her squirming from confusion to irritation on the spot, "most of the time."
"Most of the time?" her eyes were twitching, "Now what does that supposed to mean?"
"Hmm?" he pulled something from his breast pocket and grinned mischievously, "It just means that I make fun of you most of the time; and the rest..." he offered her a stem of red tulip, "I'll leave that for you to figure out, ne? Kahoko?"
When she accepted the flower, he suddenly pulled her over and kissed her on the forehead; improving the memory that they both had from the first time.
"Ja ne... Kahoko."
Yunoki sat comfortably on the backseat with a small content smile as he ordered the driver to head for home. He looked out of the window for a while, taking out something else from his breast pocket and then smiled, pensively.
Kahoko... you messed up my rhythm for good this time.
It was a picture of Kahoko, standing amidst a carpet of red tulips.
Red Tulips: Believe me; declaration of love.
Post mother's day fiction. It's my very first La Cord d'Oro Primo Passo fanfiction. Feedbacks are appreciated.