Red Roses2: 'Nother plot bunny. This time for Muhyo and Roji. This manga kicks ass.
Disclaimer: I don't own Muhyo and Roji. The owner is Yoshiyuki Nishi and is produced by Shonen Jump.
Warning: Yaoi. Come on, it's me. What did you expect?
Once Upon a Christmas
Enchyu didn't look up from his book until he felt a presence hovering above him. Looking up, he noticed Muhyo standing on the other side of the table, staring at him. Enchyu allowed himself a small smile.
"Merry Christmas, Muhyo. What are you doing in here? I thought you'd be with Yoichi and Biko outside." Enchyu said.
Muhyo shifted his weight onto his other foot. His arms were hidden in his winter cloak. Snow fell outside, frosting up the library windows. The sounds of Yoichi, Biko and the other students playing outside in the snowfall wafted into the library room, but they didn't seem to reach Enchyu and Muhyo as the white-haired boy noticed his friend's hesitation.
"Muhyo? Is something wrong?"
Muhyo didn't say anything. He lifted his arm and handed Enchyu a box. A box wrapped in red paper and blue ribbon. Enchyu's smile widened.
"Muhyo! I thought you weren't giving out Christmas presents!" The boy pushed his book aside and took the box. He felt the present all over. Judging from the rectangular shape and the dips on three sides, it was a hardcover book. He wasn't going to let on that he already knew what it was.
"I'm not. Just for you." Muhyo's face lacked the bored yet amused expression it usually carried, and a frown stood where most people would wear a smile when handing a gift out. His eyes drooped, almost as though he were depressed about something.
A thought suddenly hit Enchyu. "I – I'm sorry, Muhyo. I haven't been able to buy Christmas presents for anyone – "
"That's okay. Who'd want useless junk, anyway?"
Muhyo walked away from the library table as he said it.
Enchyu smiled and pulled the book back in front of him. He'd have plenty of time to open it on Christmas morning with everyone else tomorrow.
However, later that night, when Yoichi and Muhyo were fast asleep, Enchyu just couldn't help himself. He grabbed Muhyo's present and ripped the wrapping paper off as quietly as he could. He had received gifts from other people, but Muhyo's present, what with Muhyo being Muhyo, carried more anticipation than any other present. He already knew it was a book, but that didn't stop him at all.
The wrapping paper fell to the floor, and Enchyu ran his fingers over the titleless book. He lifted the cover – to find that there were no pages. The book was made of wood, and the cover was the lid. It was a disguised box. A smile twisted its way across his face, the moonlight its only witness. In the bottom of the box lay an envelope. Enchyu dipped his hand into the box and pulled the envelope out.
A few rips later, and Enchyu held the letter in his hands. He flipped it open and read it. It held only five words.
Merry Christmas. I love you.
The smile slipped off of Enchyu's face.
. . . . Muhyo . . . what? . . .
Roji let out a high-pitched squeal. Muhyo winced. Yoichi burst out laughing, and Nana and Kenji failed miserably in trying to mask their giggles. Biko smirked.
"You sound like a girl, Roji," Yoichi teased. Roji puffed out his cheeks indignantly and hugged the present to his chest.
"You're just jealous," Roji accused, but with enough ground to make that assertion; he was the only one to receive a gift from Muhyo, after all.
Muhyo shifted his weight, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. Yoichi sent Muhyo a sympathetic look. Biko hid her expression behind her teacup. Nana, Kenji, and Roji remained oblivious to the déjà vu that had just occurred. Yoichi leaned in closer to Muhyo.
"You took the last time really bad. Are you sure you want to go through with this?" Yoichi whispered.
Muhyo closed his eyes, too long for it to be a blink, but not short enough to cause anyone to be concerned. He looked to the side; the snow frosted up the windows as if the investigation bureau sat inside a freezer.
Yoichi let the frown cross his face and the sigh escape from his lips. He straightened up in his seat and took a sip from his hot chocolate.
Yoichi stared at his two friends, one with the condemning letter in his hand and the other waiting for his judgment.
"Is this a joke, Muhyo?" Enchyu asked.
Muhyo looked down at the carpet.
Enchyu's mouth tightened into a thin line. Yoichi wasn't sure which one he felt sorrier for: Enchyu for feeling insecure and betrayed or Muhyo for putting himself out there and – probably – getting his heart crushed.
Muhyo lifted his head.
"Just say it already. You aren't the first."
Enchyu's blue eyes flashed.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Say it's disgusting. Say it's not normal. Say I'm nothing but a sick freak and that you never want to talk to me again. Just get it over with so we can both move past this."
Yoichi's jaw dropped at the words that were spewing from Muhyo's mouth – but no one seemed more surprised at them than Enchyu.
"I – I wasn't going to say that, Muhyo. . . . In fact, I'm actually . . . honored you care about me that much. . . . It's – it's just that – I didn't think you would care about me the same way."
Yoichi's brain froze at that revelation. Muhyo's eyes widened; the dumbfounded expression was priceless.
"I love you, too, Muhyo Toru."
Roji treated the wrapping paper with utmost respect. It tore Yoichi's insides up. Just rip the damn thing to pieces already, the suspense is murderous! Roji squealed when he revealed the newest issue of his favorite manga.
"Thank you so much, Muhyo!" Roji exclaimed, hugging the book to his chest. A surprised expression weaseled its way onto his face as an envelope fell out of the pages.
Muhyo didn't let Yoichi see him cry when Enchyu betrayed them – tried to kill them. He locked himself away late at night, and when he couldn't go to sleep he cried until he was too tired to do anything else. Muhyo Toru didn't cry. It was a well-known fact. He was too weird and freaky to cry. Everyone knew that. Muhyo was the only one who knew better. And he liked it that way.
Biko had hugged him, and Yoichi told him that if he ever needed anything, he'd be there. But Muhyo didn't need anything. He needed Enchyu back. And the only person who could do that was him.
Seriously. Enchyu couldn't have given him a crappier Christmas present.
Roji tore open the envelope.
"What's it say?" Nana asked, leaning over his shoulder.
Biko set down her teacup, a frown firmly set into her features.
Roji unfolded the letter and read the five words that were printed in dark blue ink. His eyes widened. The manga fell out of his grip. Muhyo closed his eyes, waiting for . . . whatever Roji's reaction was going to be. Enchyu taught him not to assume how people would react to that kind of thing.
Nana jerked Roji out of his stupor. "Come on, Roji, tell us what it says!"
Roji quickly stuffed the letter into his pocket and pretended nothing strange happened, laughing off Nana's request by saying it wasn't anything they'd be interested in. Kenji and Nana looked at each other. Kenji shrugged and held up Roji's gift for him.
"Can I open it now?"
Roji smiled. "Of course you can!"
"This has nothing to do with you, Muhyo." Enchyu said, a psychotic grin on his face.
Muhyo pretended those weren't tears running down his face.
"Enchyu . . . why?"
Muhyo gritted his teeth and clenched his fists, the magic book pinched tightly between his palm and fingers.
". . . . It may hurt, Muhyo. . . but I do still love you."
Muhyo fell to his
Muhyo gripped his knee, anticipation pumping through his system. He wasn't sure how much waiting he could take. Yoichi placed a reassuring hand on Muhyo's shoulder. Biko caught Muhyo's gaze and gave him a reassuring smile. Muhyo's mouth pressed into a thin line.
"Muhyo, is something wrong?" Nana asked.
"I'm fine," Muhyo strangled out immediately, wincing at how his voice mangled it. He stood up and walked to the bathroom. He just needed a minute. That was all. He noticed Roji giving him a concerned look. He ignored it as he locked himself into the bathroom. Just a minute.
He needed just a minute.
Muhyo gave Roji a glare. Roji laughed nervously. Muhyo pointed at the small Christmas tree in the corner of the room.
"What is the meaning of this?"
Roji fidgeted with his fingers. "It's Christmastime, Muhyo. A-and I thought it would spruce up the office."
"Get rid of it."
Roji looked at Muhyo with disappointed eyes. Muhyo glared back at him, determined not to succumb. Roji took a deep breath.
Muhyo rolled his eyes.
Roji took out the wagon that he had used to bring the tree in and lifted the poor plant back into it. He dejectedly rolled it out of the office. Muhyo watched, a slight pang in his chest. He told himself it had nothing to do with Enchyu, it had nothing to do with how Enchyu had used to adore Christmas trees and the lights and the presents. He knew it was a big fat lie. He just couldn't bring himself to enjoy the holiday anymore.
Apparently, the absence of a tree didn't stop Roji from enjoying it.
"Merry Christmas, Muhyo!" Roji exclaimed on the dreaded date of the 25th. Muhyo stared at the gift that Roji held. He looked back up at his assistant.
"What is this?"
"I'm not supposed to tell you that, Muhyo. That's the point in opening it!"
Muhyo hid his trembling under his cloak. "Why are you - ?"
"Because I care about you," Roji said, an embarrassed blush gracing his cheeks.
Muhyo felt heat coming to his own face and he quickly took the gift, turned around, and tossed the blasted thing onto his bed.
"I don't have anything for you." Muhyo said, almost coldly.
Roji smiled sadly, not bothered by Muhyo not looking at him. "I know. I wanted to get you something, anyway."
Muhyo told himself he wasn't being emotional, and if he was that it certainly wasn't because of Enchyu. Muhyo Toru didn't get emotional. At least, not in a way that anyone else understood. And he liked it that way. Didn't he?
"Thank you." There weren't tears that he refused to let Roji see.
At least, that's what Muhyo told himself.
Muhyo reemerged from the bathroom. Yoichi and Biko gave encouraging smiles. Muhyo wished they'd all disappear.
"Muhyo?" Roji said.
Muhyo looked in his direction.
"You haven't opened your presents yet." Roji continued, smiling at him.
Muhyo grunted. "Don't feel like it."
"At least read the card?" Roji begged, holding out an envelope. Muhyo took a double take. It was an already-used envelope. The original address and return address were blocked out and the kanji of Muhyo's name were printed on what was left of the front. Roji had run out of stationary just yesterday afternoon.
Muhyo reached out for the envelope. He opened it and pulled the letter out. He recognized the paper as Yoichi's work stationary. He glanced at Yoichi. Yoichi shrugged, as though to say his guess was as good as Muhyo's.
He unfolded the letter. His body relaxed and a smile graced his features. Only four words were printed on it.
I love you, too.
Muhyo looked up from the letter and met Roji's smile.
Yoichi and Biko high-fived each other.
"What'd it say!?" Nana exclaimed. Yoichi put an arm around her shoulders.
"They'll tell you when they're ready. It took Muhyo a long time to reach this moment. Let's try not to ruin it."
"Muhyo, aren't the Christmas lights wonderful?" Roji asked. Muhyo snorted. The assistant gave the superior a look. "Why do you hate Christmas so much?" Roji knew not to be too angry or upset when they talked about Christmas. Muhyo always got this depressed look whenever the subject was brought up. Like something bad happened during this time of year.
"It's disgusting how it's a lover's holiday." Muhyo said, it being a half-truth.
Roji puffed his cheeks out.
"It's only a lover's holiday here in Japan. In countries where Christianity is the religion of the majority, it's a celebration of the birth of Christ and a time to spend with family." Roji explained, a little proud that he knew so much about a religion he didn't practice.
Muhyo glared up at the giant Christmas tree. "It doesn't matter what its original purpose is. Nothing will make this holiday worthwhile."
Roji took a deep breath and tried to calm himself, but that statement of Muhyo's really did hurt.
"What happened to make you hate it so much!?" Okay, calming didn't really work.
Muhyo's eyes widened. Roji regretted what he said as soon as Muhyo looked at him like that: wide eyes, stoic mouth, and impassive face muscles. It was as though Roji's words turned him into a zombie.
So Muhyo Toru was capable of more than a creepy smile, indifferent attitude and occasional disapproval. But Roji wasn't sure he liked this change.
Muhyo looked down at the ground, eyes still wider than usual.
"It's none of your business."
They didn't talk about it for a long time afterwards. Roji didn't learn why until he asked Yoichi, when the Christmas season was approaching yet again.
"You know Enchyu, right?"
"Yeah. . . ."
"Well, he betrayed us during the Christmas season. A year before that, Muhyo admitted he loved him. I guess Muhyo felt like Enchyu led him on and then tossed him aside along with the legal magic. Then again, there's no telling with Muhyo. Muhyo's hated the holiday since."
". . . Oh. . . . Well, why don't we help?"
"Why don't we help him like the holiday again? We could have a celebration at the office. Invite Nana and Biko. Open presents, have hot chocolate. Maybe if he has good memories of it, he won't detest it as much."
"I don't know, Roji. Muhyo doesn't really like 'help'."
"I – I know. I just – I hate seeing him so gloomy during Christmas. That's all."
Yoichi allowed himself a small smile. "Okay. Why not? The worst that can happen is that Muhyo will kick us out of the office."
Roji laughed nervously. "I didn't think of that. . . ." Yoichi held his sides, he was laughing so hard.
"Bye! Thanks for coming!" Roji said, waving goodbye and closing the door behind them.
"Bye, Roji! Muhyo!" Nana and Kenji said in unison. Yoichi grinned at Muhyo.
"Biko and I have to get going, too." Insert suggestive wink.
"Yeah, yeah. Scam." Muhyo said, his trademark grin in place. His eyes, however, said "Mind your own business, you pervert."
"Bye, Roji! Bye, Muhyo!" Biko said, gathering her belongings. "Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas to you, too!" Roji replied. Biko set up her magic pattern sticker on the wall. With a wave goodbye, she disappeared through it.
"Play nice, now!" Yoichi teased, jumping in after Biko. Muhyo threw a book in after him. "OW!" Roji laughed as the pattern disappeared, Yoichi's cursing loud enough for them to hear through the pattern.
Silence reigned in the office. Roji bit his lower lip. Muhyo glanced at his assistant. Roji met his gaze.
"What now?" Roji asked.
Muhyo grinned one of his normal grins. "Whatever we want to, I guess. By the way. . . ."
Roji gave Muhyo a quizzical look. Muhyo pointed at the ceiling.
"What is mistletoe doing here, anyway?"
Roji looked up immediately. Indeed, a garland of mistletoe hung from the ceiling. A blush set into his cheeks.
"I – I – I p-p-put it up t-t-there b-b-because Yoichi was h-h-hoping to k-k-kiss Nana a-a-and – "
"Does the stuttering mean you don't want to?"
Roji looked back down at Muhyo. He relaxed and smiled again.
"No, of course I do."
Enchyu fidgeted nervously. "M-May I kiss you, Muhyo?"
Muhyo looked up from his book. "Go ahead."
"You don't mind your first kiss being with me?"
"Of course not." Enchyu smiled.