For His Own Good
By Laura Schiller
Series: Shugo Chara
Copyright: Peach Pit
Hotori Tadase sat with his head in his hands, alone in the Guardians' greenhouse. The meeting was over and the others had left; he would go home any minute now. He was just waiting for the colossal weight of embarrassment to lift from his shoulders so he could actually get up and walk. At the moment it felt like he would never be able to look them in the face again...especially Amu.
"What's with you?" snapped Kiseki, popping up out of Tadase's pocket with not a jot of shame on his arrogant little face. "Get up and leave already!"
Tadase lifted his head and glowered, his scarlet eyes sending off sparks. "How many times, Kiseki," he said, coldly and clearly, "Must I tell you not to chara-change me unless I tell you?"
"But that – commoner Fujisaki called you a prince!" Kiseki spluttered, waving his arms in mid-air. "He was mocking you! All I did was preserve your dignity!"
"My dignity?!" Tadase stood up and slammed both hands on the table, seeing red. His voice shook with the effort of not screaming as he explained: "Let me get this straight. You put a stupid little crown on my head, make me point fingers at people, shout about world domination at the top of my voice and cackle like a second-rate cartoon villain, all in an effort to preserve my dignity. Wouldn't you think that's a little over the top?"
Kiseki floated higher to stand eye-to-eye with Tadase, hands on hips, with an identical, tiny expression of outrage. "Oh, indeed? Well, my dear Tadase, maybe I do overcompensate, but that's only because you're too weak for your own good. You just won't stand up for yourself, so as your Shugo Chara, I consider it my duty to do it for you."
Tadase softened just a little. "I know. You're doing your best. But can't you see that this is the wrong way to help me? Those displays of yours make all the Guardians laugh at me, even Hinamori-san. You want me to be respected, right? But it won't happen like this."
"Hinamori-san, is it?" At the sound of the name, a mischievous smirk began to travel across Kiseki's face. "You care about what she thinks of you?"
Tadase blushed. That had slipped out without his intention, and he couldn't lie to his Shugo Chara. He took a deep breath and spread his hands.
"Yes, Kiseki, I care very much. And I do not enjoy being forced into King mode in front of her, which is why I'm asking you to please stop it."
Kiseki made a show of reflecting for a few seconds, with his chin cupped in his hand, then said, "Fine."
"On one condition."
Tadase swallowed. The glint in Kiseki's eye was making him nervous. "And that would be...?"
"Prove to me – and the rest of the world – that you're not timid anymore. Show us your courage, honor and confidence."
"Declare your love to Hinamori."
There was a pause. For a few seconds, Tadase thought he must have misheard.
"Wait...are you serious?"
"Oh, yes." Kiseki looked like a cat in cream. Tadase's face, which had been pink all along, suddenly flamed almost as brightly as his eyes.
"And I mean the real Hinamori. None of that nonsense about Amulet Heart."
"I just said that because I was so nervous...she is Amulet Heart after all...she should have realized what I meant."
"You hurt her feelings, you idiot. Ran, Miki and Suu told me all about it. She thinks the rest of her personality isn't good enough."
"But that's not true!"
"Which is just why you should clear matters up."
"But I can't," Tadase protested. "She may have liked me once, but it's too late now. Have you seen the way she looks at that – ?"
By the half-pained, half-angry look on Tadase's face, it was obvious whom he meant. "She mostly glares at him, if I remember correctly," Kiseki interrupted. "And there you go, being insecure again. Look, Tadase...you don't want to spend the rest of your life regretting that you didn't tell her while you could. You know I only want what's best for you."
Kiseki's voice was unusually quiet; both of them were remembering a silent Japanese room, a vase of lilies, and a woman's face, withered and grey, staring blankly into space without listening to a word anyone said. The boy and his Shugo Chara exchanged a silent glance full of affection, understanding, and trust.
"Okay," said Tadase. "I'll do it. But promise me you'll stop forcing chara-changes on me."
"I give you my word."
"It's a deal."
They shook hands – very carefully considering the difference in size – and Tadase, even as his stomach twisted with nerves, began working out a plan for what he was about to do.