Disclaimer: I don't own anything that belongs to somebody else. O.o


Seventh Time's the Charm

Dedicated to:
Corvus corone

The first to agree with me about the Koko/Sumire pairing.
See? I'm not crazy!

The perfect match doesn't happen on the first try.
Or second or third or even fourth.
Sometimes, it takes exactly seven tries to get it right.

-My Hopeless Romantic-


"It's the end of us!! We're done! We're finished! It's over!" Sumire ranted, stomping back and forth in front of a startled Koko who had been hoping to scrounge up some food from the kitchens.

The overzealous girl before him had practically bulldozed the door over with her frighteningly powerful knocks and had started venting all of her troubles to Koko with steam coming from her ears and with eyes, almost red with anger.

"I'll show him who he's messing with! What the hell kind of scum was that guy?! I thought he was the one! I thought he was the perfect guy! He was so nice and treated me like a princess and he had the nerve to dump me on our three-week anniversary?!" Sumire shrieked, throwing her hands up and kicking Koko's bedside table. The force of her anger sent the lamp toppling to the ground with a shattering of the light bulb. The dying screech of the light filament would've rung through the air, if not for Sumire's tirade that seemed to muffle any and every other sound that wasn't her voice.

Koko looked at the lamp on the ground with a sigh and mentally counted how many rabbits he had saved up to buy another one. Oh right—he was broke. Being a single star sucked.

Hoping to placate the hurricane before she happened to break something else in his single-star room, Koko cleared his throat and started, "Sumire, we're talking about Mochu—he could never be—"

Sumire interrupted him with a flick of her hand, "He had the guts to tell me he loved me. Did you know that, Koko? Last week! He told me he loved me last week and not five days later, he dumps me!" she snarled angrily, collapsing onto his bed with a hand covering her eyes. "He lied to me, Koko! Flat out lied to me!"

She growled and made a sound that must've been a mix between a cat's whimper and a dog's snarl before bending in the fetal position. "You might want to restrain me because if I see him again, I will kill him, Koko! Rip out his eyes and kick him where it hurts!"

Koko stood uncertainly beside her unmoving form and slowly sat down on his bed, cautiously listening to see if there were any signs of danger. He heard her sniffle and his eye twitched. Trying to settle his rapidly beating heart and cheer up his best friend at the same time, Koko poked her in the side and said, "I never thought that bald guy deserved you anyway. You're way too pretty."

Sumire swung her arm out haphazardly to smack him in the arm. "Oh, shut up. You're just saying that because I'm your best friend and because I'm crying."

Koko shrugged, without bothering to say otherwise and she unwound herself from her curled up position to look up at the ceiling. Looking at her, Koko couldn't help mentally rolling his eyes. Typical of his best friend, this was her sixth break up in the past little while and she had only just turned fifteen. Her annoying boyfriends would break up with her after a week or two and she'd come barging into his room. First, she'd rant and rave for about an hour, then she'd cry and the next, she'd sulk and cry. It was like clockwork, really.

"Just forget about him," Koko suggested hopefully, leaning onto one arm to observe her more closely. "How about I get us some ice cream?"

She scoffed and glared at him from under her eyelashes before saying, "Who do you think I am—Mikan? Ice cream doesn't make me feel better."

"Oh right," Koko's face fell. "Then what about catnip?"

She visibly brightened and Koko couldn't help the grin that made its way across his lips. "Sit tight," he ordered with mock stern.

He got to his feet and he could feel her eyes on his back as he headed to one of the cupboards he'd explicitly used to stash his junk food. He didn't have Natsume's extensive kitchen and master suite complete with bathroom and whatever else. Nor did he have Ruka's three-star perks, but he made the most of his one star status and, grinning at the curious questions from Sumire's mind, Koko wrenched the puny door open and grabbed two small bags of catnip from the large pile.

He stashes catnip in his cupboard for me? Sumire thought, disbelieving.

"It's not for me, I can tell you that," he answered drily, handing her the bags which she gawked at with wonder. He plopped down and lay on his back, basking in Sumire's slight awe and her swell of appreciation for him and before she could open her mouth to voice out her thoughts, Koko grinned, "You don't have to thank me. I keep catnip in my cupboard and you keep my marshmallows in yours. We're even."

She played with the bags for a bit, and though there was the initial smile after having received the unexpected treat, the recent memories of her break-up came back full force and Koko listened intently to her thoughts.

"You know you're thinking abou—"

"I know," Sumire grated irritably, rubbing her temples in slow circles. "I'm trying not to think about it because I don't want you seeing how he did it but I can't stop thinking about it!"

"I don't mind listening."

Sumire rolled her eyes over to look at him with dark green orbs and his heart immediately started a rapid break dance within his chest. He watched as she lay on her back, looking at the ceiling once more and after a pause, started, "Did you notice Mochu acting weird for the past few days?"

Koko shrugged his shoulders, a wry grin on his face.

Truth was, after Mochu and Sumire had gotten together less than a month before, his close relationship with Mochu had hit a cold, hard wall. Seeing them together for the first few days hadn't been so hard. A little bit of shoulder-knocking and hand-holding didn't do much but make his heart clench a little.

But when they started kissing and making out in plain view, things had become just a little … difficult. Needless to say, the urge to break Mochu's neck had started becoming very frequent and homicide wasn't too far away from his thoughts.

Koko decided some distance might do the both of them some good.

"I knew he was planning something…" Sumire interrupted smoothly, fingering the little package in her hands. "I thought the secretive smiles and the way he … stopped talking … was a sign of him trying to keep that secret away from me. I thought he was planning something for our anniversary…"

Her lips trembled and Koko growled low in his throat, clenching his fists. "Mochu…"

Mochu, however, wasn't the worst of the boys Sumire had dated. To be perfectly honest, his best friend had terrible taste in men.

Koko couldn't help cringing slightly at the memory of her first boyfriend. He'd been two years older than her and in middle school when he'd started showing blatant interest in her. And with the flattery that came with older boys taking an interest to an elementary school girl as opposed to the girls in middle school; Sumire had jumped at the chance when he'd asked her out. Koko had long since forgotten his name but he hadn't forgotten the fact that the guy had constantly showered Sumire with compliments and treated her like a princess. It made Koko sick to think that a guy would stoop to such a low level of pathetic just to make a girl happy. Koko blamed it on the fact that he was a three-star when she'd flaunted a necklace in his face and sneered, 'Look at what Nameless got me! He's so sweet and he pays me loads of attention, unlike you, you jerk!' It didn't bother him much though, seeing as he didn't really take much interest in his best friend's love life. Well… not until she came busting into his room two weeks later with tears streaming down her face and mascara, or whatever else she used, smudging around her eyes.

Koko knew that after the three hours of awkward comforting and Kleenex offering, he'd pay a little more attention to her next boyfriend. Just so that he wouldn't have to go through another horrific three hour session of ranting and crying, of course.

Sumire had started crying when Koko had blinked out of his daze and he listened with a grimace when she said, "I just d-don't see why he (hiccup) bothered to say I l-looked beaut-tiful the other d-day when he'd planned all al-long (hiccup), to break up with me!"

"Sumire—" Koko started, finding it difficult to string two words together, "—I don't thin—"

She hiccupped and Koko sighed pensively.

Her second boyfriend had been their age but in Class 2-D and frankly, Koko had never heard of the boy, and was pretty sure his best friend hadn't either, until Sumire had come up to him one day with a large boy in tow and declared boldly, 'This is my new boyfriend and he's nothing like that Nameless!'

His name was Hoshio Hoshino and the only reason why Koko remembered his name was because he'd been forced to wear a mask to contain his Alice and because the day he'd broken up with Sumire was the day he'd been taken out of the Academy. His Alice was weather control and it faded over time. Truthfully, Koko hadn't minded the kid very much. Not only did he dare not kiss in public (the mask probably made things very awkward) but Hoshio seemed to know that any PDA in front of him would result in bodily harm.

Sumire, as expected, had been heartbroken when she'd burst into his room the same day and wailed about how, 'We would've stayed together forever if life gave us the chance!' and how, '…I'll never find another man like him!'

The third and fourth boyfriends had lasted a little less than two weeks each, five weeks apart and information about them had been limited. The only thing Koko knew for certain was that after Hoshio, Sumire had reverted back to dating the species that was 'older men'. She'd smirked triumphantly in the first week of dating each and stated airily, 'They are far more mature than the jerks in our year!'

The break-up with boyfriend number three was far from pretty, especially when she'd learned that the guy was two timing her with some other chits younger than she. When he'd found out, Koko had to concentrate on restraining himself from killing somebody because he was stuck with a dopey Alice. He'd never wished to have an offensive Alice more than he had at that moment.

The break-up with number four, however, made number three look like squirrels were baking cakes. Sumire had gone on a rampage on Koko in private, saying things she didn't mean and other things she'd apologize for in the morning. It was safe to say Sumire wasn't too pleased to find out her fourth boyfriend had a sudden realization that he was gay when he dated her.

That night, she cried onto his chest, raving about how nobody wanted her and how she must be a really bad girlfriend to turn a man gay.

If Koko had ever been awkward in his life, he could've added all of his past experiences together and they still wouldn't rival how awkward he'd felt after that break-up.

Sumire sat up suddenly and clutched the catnip to her chest. Rubbing at her eyes and hiccupping methodically, she cried, "He called me Love, Koko! Love! Like those British boys do in movies at the end of practically all their sentences!"

"Mochu isn't British," Koko pointed out warily, eyeing the tracks of salt water that streamed down her cheeks. "I heard him. He sounded like a los—"

She sobbed an octave higher and Koko sighed, pulling her into his chest to rub the length of her back, awkwardly. He felt her sniffle and her small hands fisting into his shirt before he sighed quietly and pulled her inconspicuously closer.

Sumire's fifth boyfriend had been a strange fellow named Kaoru Nendo. Koko hadn't known much about the guy except for the fact that he'd done a huge favor for Natsume and the others when Yuu's Alice got stolen a few years ago. Upon learning of the guy's act, Koko didn't see why Sumire shouldn't be with the guy. It bothered him, of course, how Sumire had quickly jumped from fourth boyfriend to Nendo, no matter what good deed he'd done. But when Sumire had come over to his room that night to ask him what he thought about Nendo, her eyes shining and wide, haughty smile on her lips, Koko didn't have the heart to tell her that every boyfriend she'd ever have would never be worthy of her, in his eyes. Unless it was …

"Koko?" she sniffled softly, burrowing deeper into his chest and coughing just the slightest, "Why can't I keep a boyfriend for very long? I mean, Natsume-kun and Mikan have been together for more than a year and Wakako and her boyfriend have been going out for three months and they look so happy… is it wrong for me to want to be happy too?"

She sniffled and looked up at him with sad, dark green eyes and Koko's heart, who had found a nice, steady pace when he'd been holding her, started the same mad break dance except fiercer and Koko's mind blanked upon the steady hold of her eyes. "Uhh… I – er … well, I – uh – think…"

There was no polite way to tell her that she had bad taste in men. Instead, Koko closed his eyes tightly and swallowed hard, knowing that the road ahead would be a frustrating and very tiring experience, "Sumire …"

Mochu was Sumire's latest and last boyfriend and she'd been over the moon with happiness once two weeks had gone by and their relationship was still '… going strong, Koko! I think he's the one! I think he's the one I want to marry!' He had to swallow the unexplainable urge to retch all over the place once she'd said that. Marriage? At fifteen? That was plain insanity. Sometimes, that was exactly what Koko thought of his best friend.

Though Sumire was big on public attention, she'd been insistent on keeping her relationships on the down low. Her dates and break-ups were always quiet (except for break-ups three and four) and Koko hadn't heard much of what was going on with her during her three week relationship with Mochu unless it was from Sumire herself but from the little information he'd gleaned from unsuspecting minds, things were going very well.

So Koko had been very surprised to find Sumire in his room, less than an hour before, raving about how much a bag of scum Mochu was, and then, fifteen minutes ago, crying about how she thought he was the one.

Sumire sniffled an octave higher and Koko blinked to find himself running his hands unconsciously down Sumire's back and she continued to fist his shirt, hiccupping at odd intervals. The crying, fortunately enough, had seemed to cease.

After six break-ups, her horrible boyfriends, weeks of watching behind the scenes and hours upon hours he took to comfort his best friend that he'd never get back, Koko decided to put her in a position where he knew she'd never get hurt.

He scratched the back of his head and gently shifted her a bit in his arms.

"Sumire, I—"

She lifted her head and he could distinctly see the teardrops clinging to her eyelashes which reinforced his thoughts. Clearing his throat and trying to ignore the rapid flutter of butterflies in his stomach, Koko looked down with embarrassment and said, "I know I'm not like Natsume and Ruka. I'm not handsome. I'm not a three-star or even a two-star and I may not be able to get you gifts everyday like the other guys but I … I—"

What is it? she thought curiously, pulling back to sit cross-legged in front of him. She gathered her hair together and tied it back messily, looking at Koko expectantly. What were you going to say?

Koko frowned. "Why aren't you talking?"

She pursed her lips into a thin line and cleared her throat but she shook her head quickly. I—my throat is really dry. Do you have some water?

A goofy grin made its way on to Koko's face. "You hate water."

Oh right, she thought surprised, Juice?

He made to get up but stopped when she put a hand on his arm, Wait, finish what you were saying.

Koko lost his nerve and scratched the back of his head, laughing nervously, "N-Nothing, nothing. Now where's that juice…"

Koko.

He sighed and turned back to look at her. Her dark green hair tied messily on her head, curly tendrils falling into her deep, green eyes and the soft curve of her neck made his heart hammer within his chest. Her face was tear-stained, there were trails of smudged grey surrounding her eyes and the tip of her nose was a dark pink and yet, Koko didn't think she could look any more beautiful than she did at that moment.

Koko…

"I'm in love with you."

What?! Her mind screamed and Koko blinked rapidly to clear his head. He honestly thought about trying to deny and pretend he'd been joking but … should he? It was out there now, wasn't it? Did he honestly want to go back to watching her with other boys, comforting her and seeing her cry after the break-ups?

"I'm in love with you," he repeated, a small grin on his face.

The amount of thoughts that immediately rushed through her mind made Koko's head spin and judging by the astonished look on her face and the confusion evident in her thoughts, Koko thought that maybe confessing his love for her after a break-up wasn't the brightest idea he'd ever had.

"Koko…" she started weakly, her voice hoarse from crying, "I don't know. I—I don't want to be hurt again. I've been with six boys and if the same thing happens with you, I don't know what I'd—"

"I won't hurt you," his legs were feeling awfully shaky, "I could never hurt you…" Koko could feel his body heating up with his nervousness and he stepped forward to cup her cheek in one hand. Her skin was unusually soft except for the interruption of wet tears on her face and he brushed the stray tears away, swallowing with difficulty.

"We can't s-stand each other," she pointed out softly. "You're always so annoying and you always have that stupid smile on your face… we'd never last."

"And you're dramatic and attention seeking and obsessed with the strangest things and still…" Koko sighed softly, the corners of his lips were tugged upward just the slightest, "We've been best friends forever and I can't stand seeing you getting hurt and seeing you with those other guys. I'm not … the prince charming. I can't promise you that I'll be able to be your trophy boyfriend who will call you Love or those other stupid pet names or be able to buy you extravagant gifts."

He felt the heat in his cheeks and the tingle on the skin of his arms when he looked into her wide shock of green eyes and said, "I can't be the perfect boyfriend and I've never been as smart as Natsume or Ruka … but I've never been more certain than I am about this. I love you."

You love me? She clarified; the question in her mind was but a whisper. But why? You've seen first hand; I've gone through six boyfriends and—

"Seventh time's the charm," he smiled slowly, though his heart was jammed into his throat.

Won't it be … weird…?

His smile threatened to waver but he breathed deeply, shrugging, "We'll never know unless we try. But it's up to you if you want to try or—"

She stepped forwardly suddenly, eyes filled with doubt and eyebrows scrunched up with concentration. Boldly, she reached up and after slight hesitation, cupped his cheek with one hand.

Koko was rooted to the spot, his heart pounding within his chest and his breathing, unusually labored. Her green eyes were vivid and the feel of her hand so real …

We'll try.

She kissed him softly and Koko couldn't get over how soft she was. After six boyfriends and months in hell, Koko couldn't help but think that the bundle of drama in his arms was worth it—

She purred just the slightest and Koko grinned slowly.

Yesdefinitely worth it.


Ah well, this was my first and probably not the last attempt at KokoSumire but feel free to tell me to quit while I'm NOT ahead. =) Merry belated Christmas! And alert me if you want to read the HotaruHayate and Mikan's parents' oneshots, respectively, when I end up finding the time to write them.

My Hopeless Romantic