Disclaimer: I do not own Princess Princess and make no money of this story. Everything belongs to the awesome Tsuda Mikiyo.
Warnings: shounen ai
A new fandom for me again (mix of anime and manga canon), and a
recreational, easy to write, undemanding love story that offered
itself up. There was no difficulty with explaining the relationship
here, and I enjoyed for once writing a fic with a single warning. As
for the title, allow me to quote Wikipedia: "Moral
certainty is a concept of intuitive
probability. It means a very high degree of probability, sufficient
for action, but short of absolute or mathematical certainty."
The story is complete and chapters (six of them altogether) will pop up in more or less regular intervals.
Enjoy, and do not hesitate to express your opinion in a review.
xPart One: A Bad Day
Toohru had had enough of this awful day and took the first chance to escape.
With exams coming up and the Princess duties running out one by one, he had too much time to think. That wasn't a bad thing, per se, but his study-stressed mind insisted on coming up with a variety of topics that were unpleasant at best. And yesterday… that was the last drop.
The Student Council President Sakamoto Akira had given the three of them – Yuujirou, Mikoto and Toohru – the trademark shy smile of abounding aggravation and said: "The Student Council convened, and we decided that your idea of singing a few songs wouldn't work. I'm sorry, guys, but we need something more exciting: therefore we will have an End Of The Year Ball on Saturday after the exams are finished. The Princesses will, of course, be present-"
-upon which Mikoto entered into his spiel about wanting to leave as soon as possible to be with his girlfriend and not wanting to dress up as a girl and, god forbid, model for the whole school…
It amazed Toohru that Mikoto had managed to keep up a constant level of unhappiness with his situation for the entire year, but this was fairly normal and it wouldn't have fazed him. What struck true and got him stuck in this mood – as opposed to Mikoto, who was charmed into compliance by it – were Arisada's words: "Ah, but, Yutaka-kun, this is your last performance as a Princess. You must be especially resplendent!"
And that was that.
Toohru wondered if he should have been happy. He decided that how he felt about being a Princess – and ceasing being a Princess – was exclusively his personal matter and therefore there was no 'should' involved. He was melancholy and regretful and, indeed, scared. He had been a Princess for so long that it had become an intrinsic part of him, he felt; it had formed and affected his relationships at the school, not only but primarily with Mikoto and Yuujirou.
Not being a Princess was a huge unknown to him.
Did he even want to return for his second year?
"There you are!" Yuujirou called from the stairway and stepped out onto the roof. The day was sunny, and the boy's hair glinted enough to hurt one's eyes. "I should have checked here first, but I had entertained the hope that you were brave enough to at least go get lunch. Instead, you're being a starving coward."
Toohru rather thought that Yuujirou had the unlucky combination of a wicked sense of humour and propensity for cynicism that made his personality seem abrasive to those who didn't know him. Coupled with his – and Toohru was being objective when he reasoned this out – extraordinary beauty that made girls jealous and boys nervous in his presence, hardly anyone ever undertook the strenuous task of getting to know him.
A tiny bit ashamed, Toohru admitted to himself that had his leanness and girly face not had him nominated for a Princess, he likely wouldn't have come near Yuujirou unless absolutely necessary. Even after a year spent almost constantly in the boy's presence there were moments, special moments when the light hit him just so, or when he looked over his shoulder at exactly the right angle, or when he chewed on his pencil and his lower lip cushioned the wood… basically, there were moments, when even Toohru was struck by the level of beauty.
He wasn't going to fall over himself calling for his Princess and beg on his knees for a smile to brighten his day, of course, but he didn't like the fact that he, like most of the school, was susceptible to this… illusion.
"You…" Yuujirou said in the tone of a stinging accusation that would have had another person trying to recall what mortal offence they might have committed and forgotten, "…have been utterly morose, Toohru."
Toohru very much didn't want to talk about this during his lunch break, on the roof, where anyone was free to come and, indeed, was going to come as soon as the information that two of the three Princesses were there spread.
"You," Yuujirou continued, seemingly undeterred by the lack of response, "haven't even taken the time to appreciate the irony of Mikoto actually looking forward to an event where he would be forced to dress up as a Princess-"
The door opened and a wave of hungry-eyed drooling testosterone-charged students fell through it.
"-whilst you mope around about being forced to participate. What's with the role-reversal?"
Toohru shrugged, turned around, and did his best beaming beatific Princess-smile. The crowd obediently created a cordon for him to pass through, but for once Toohru felt no sense of accomplishment, all too aware of Yuujirou's concerned scowl aimed between his shoulder-blades.
Yuujirou was nothing if not crafty, and Toohru really should have known better than to leave him without an answer. He would have been better off making up some excuse, or even try to placate his friend with some transparent story.
He might not have ended up in this sad position.
It was middle of the Geography class, the teacher was droning on about the exports and imports of some South American country the name of which Toohru couldn't spell (due to lack of attention rather than lack of ability), and Yuujirou was holding his pencil hostage. Ordinarily that wouldn't have been a problem, but a note on Toohru's desk was opening the extradition negotiations, and in it was stated, on no uncertain terms, that Yuujirou would keep stealing Toohru's meticulously sharpened pencils and breaking off the tips for so long as Toohru would maintain his silence.
"Stop being a pain and give it back to me," Toohru hissed, keeping one eye on the hostage pencil, the other on the teacher. "Yuujirou!"
The boy lifted a blonde eyebrow and meaningfully looked at his note.
Toohru stubbornly shook his head.
Yuujirou shrugged and, with a crack that went unnoticed by most of the class but ripped through Toohru's ears, broke off the lead.
Toohru hissed in irritation, but resolved to continue ignoring the pest. He pulled out his second pencil and went back to his picture. That was another tactical mistake, because Yuujirou was not used to being dismissed, and therefore was far from accepting of it.
Expertly, lightning fast and without marring Toohru's doodle, Yuujirou leaned over, extracted the pencil from Toohru's hand and straightened. With a challenging expression, he stood the poor writing implement on its tip and looked over.
Toohru gritted his teeth and turned away. Since he only had a mechanical pencil left (those were great for precise drawing, but awful for anything resembling art) he angrily shoved his doodling paper into the back of his notebook and forced himself to pay attention to the lecture and actually write notes.
"…nineteen departments; the one with the greatest population is Montevideo…"
Damn, but it was dry! What would he ever need this information for? They should be reviewing this close to exams, not trying to cram more useless facts into their heads! And Toohru couldn't even doodle the lesson away, because Yuujirou had stolen his pencils and mutilated one of them-
Come to think of it, he had obviously not harmed the second one.
Toohru risked a peek to the side. Yuujirou was staring blankly forwards, roughly in the direction of the teacher, deep in thought. He was chewing the end of Toohru's un-maimed pencil and, judging by the lines marring his forehead, he was worried.
He didn't ask Toohru again, though, and he didn't say anything when, during the next break, Toohru crumpled the note and threw it into the rubbish bin.
Toohru's ears were ringing after the last lesson of the day had ended and he stood up to pack his notebook. He mourned the loss of his pencils and hoped that Yuujirou would, inconspicuously, return them later in the evening, perhaps after lights-out so he couldn't be accused of having gone soft.
"Are you feeling well, Toohru?" Akira asked, putting a warm palm to Toohru's forehead.
Toohru jumped; he hadn't noticed the Student Council President approaching. He should have expected it, though: Akira had become a permanent fixture in his life. He was kind of like a puppy: bright-eyed and ridiculously cute, and he adored Toohru and Yuujirou, just a little, because they treated him like their pet. Well, he probably thought they treated him like a friend, and they both would claim so if asked, but Toohru just couldn't bring himself to spare affection on someone so adorable and innocently well-intentioned, and he knew Yuujirou felt the same way.
"I don't think you're ill," Akira said, frowning a little. Toohru wanted to pat his head.
"I'm fine, Akira," Toohru told him, and patted his shoulder instead.
Akira beamed at him. Toohru regretted he didn't have a sugar-cube or something to give to him.
"Princess!" a desperate voice cut the post-tuition rustle, and a burly form of a third-year baseball player skidded on its knees practically in front of Toohru, who took a careful step backwards and out of reach. "O, Princess! Give us the blessing of your smile to carry us through the rest of this day-"
More of the young hormone-driven men were converging, and Toohru had to exert a great effort to force a smile onto his face and hold himself with the self-confidence that kept him from getting assaulted.
There were the obligatory tears and cries and promises to bring Heaven down to his feet, and Toohru kept his mask intact for as long as it took Akira to shuffle them all out and close the door.
There really was no appreciating the boy enough.
Akira turned around, concerned, and rubbed the back of his neck. "We have no way of getting out of here before they disperse, I'm afraid," he said with undue embarrassment. It was hardly his fault that most of the students were unable to score a girlfriend and had to get their fix harassing the Princesses.
Then, by a coincidence, Toohru met Yuujirou's eyes. He couldn't read in his friend's face – he had long since given that up as impossible – but he mostly could estimate his thought-process. Right now, Yuujirou was evaluating this opportunity. Should he try to wheedle the reasons for Toohru's 'moroseness' out of him, or should he let Akira do it for him? Akira did have a way of getting people to do things he wanted them to do, often without them even realising they were doing it until afterwards…
Yuujirou did the one thing Toohru didn't expect: he turned away. His eyes slid over the window frame and he went a little closer, evaluating the distance from the ledge to the ground.
Without a word, he slung his bag over his shoulder, pushed the window open and jumped.
Akira opened his mouth to yell something and closed it again before a sound escaped. Toohru, in the first instance, remained frozen on the spot. Then his brain interpreted what he had just seen, and he ran over to the window and looked down, reciting the procedure of calling an ambulance in his head.
Yuujirou was standing on the side of the curb below and looking up, squinting into the sun. "Come on, Toohruko-chan!" he yelled.
With just a split-second of hesitation, Toohru leapt over-
-and landed in a crouch, pausing for a while to let the stabbing pain in his soles abate.
Yuujirou waited for him to stand up straight, then grabbed his elbow and dragged him off, in a direction that was completely opposite to the way Toohru wanted to go. He tried to protest, but Yuujirou was having nothing of it.
He looked at Toohru, serious – and Toohru could tell it was for real – with just a hint of irritation, and said: "Akira will buy us both ice-cream, and we can talk on the way back."
"Hmm… what flavour…?" Yuujirou was muttering, with Toohru's elbow safely in a death-grip after Toohru had attempted to escape for the second time. He appeared to be having great fun, too, gathering smiles from all sides, not only from older students that knew them as the Princesses, but also from complete strangers. Yuujirou just had that kind of personality that influenced everybody around him.
"I will have coconut and chocolate, I think," Akira replied, giving them the patent shy smile, and stepped forwards when the entire line moved. He had finally figured out roughly what the problem was and with the knowledge that he was neither the cause nor a possible solution, he regained his confidence.
"Yuujirou will have double strawberry," Toohru said authoritatively.
Yuujirou scowled. He didn't argue, but far be it from him to leave such a passive-aggressive attack unanswered. "Toohru wants mango and-"
"Stracciatella," Toohru cut in, to ensure that he liked at least one of the flavours.
Akira nodded, easily accepting their quirky interaction, and maintained his Switzerland-like neutrality. While Yuujirou gripped Toohru's elbow and plotted how to get into his brain, Toohru lamented his future bruises and the sad state of his finances that drove him to accepting the daily invitation for ice cream, and dreaded the moment when the door of the P-room would shut behind Yuujirou and himself.
"Any last-minute changes?" Akira asked nonchalantly.
Yuujirou said nothing, and Toohru shifted from foot to foot a few times and finally scoffed at himself for being a bloody softie. "Yuujirou would prefer banana and chocolate, I believe," he said glumly.
He half-expected his friend to amend his 'choice' as well, because they both knew that Toohru despised mango as much as Yuujirou loathed the artificial strawberry imitation, but no such luck. Once Yuujirou decided, he could be more stubborn than a donkey. It was another of their typical fights: they both got angry at each other, then something happened and they both stopped being angry and just shut up, without resolving the issue that had made them angry in the first place.
Akira stepped up to the counter and requested three double chocolate ice-creams. Sometimes Toohru got the feeling the boy was more neutral than Switzerland.
"It's scientifically proven that chocolate lifts your mood," Akira explained, distributing the scones. "Will you walk with me, or are you in a hurry to get back and study?"
Toohru opened his mouth to say that they would take Akira down to his house, but Yuujirou gave his Princess smile over Toohru's elbow and said: "We'll need all the time to study we can get; the Princess duties are keeping us busy."
It was a blatant lie and Akira knew it – he knew perfectly well what the Princess duties consisted of, since he had been helping Arisada with overseeing them all year – but he accepted it as easily as anything Yuujirou and Toohru ever threw his way, and parted from them with a content expression and a light step.
Toohru envied him.
Then they were on their own, but not really, because the park was full of Fujimori students. Lots of them were yelling and cheering them on, as though there weren't real girls walking among them. Although, Toohru supposed that Yuujirou was more attractive in a dress than any girl any day, so it might have been the fault of the company he was keeping-
"You know you're going to tell me anyway," Yuujirou muttered, and a moment later he was blithely beaming at a group of third-years sprawled on the grass around a textbook, in between attention-arresting licks of his ice cream.
Toohru's mouth was cold from the treat. Despite the alleged mood-lifting effects of chocolate, he decided that he wasn't going to admit to himself that his friend had him figured out for as long as he could put it off. He took advantage of Yuujirou's unyielding grip on his arm and let the boy carry him, if he wanted to be so close. Yuujirou took it all in stride, to Toohru's mild aggravation, but it wasn't at all unexpected.
"You like being the centre of attention, don't you?" Toohru grumbled when another pair of unfamiliar people gave them shifty looks. After all, they were a couple of boys walking in the park, hanging onto each other, smiling the professional smiles of angels and waving at seemingly random young people.
Yuujirou lifted his eyebrows. "I do well in the centre of attention. Whether I like it is entirely inconsequential-"
"You do like it," Toohru said with grim certainty. He fancied the idea that perhaps it depended on what kind of attention Yuujirou was receiving, and whose attention it was, but the fact remained. "What will you do next year, when you're not the Princess anymore and your fanclub will go on worshipping another cross-dresser?"
Yuujirou tugged him across the lawn, taking a shortcut out of the student-infested space to the curb along the main road. He didn't reply, but Toohru could tell that he was thinking, as if something Toohru had told him inspired a whole new train of contemplation.
Toohru himself got stuck musing about how much he liked being a Princess. It was a pain, sure, and the fawning crowds of teenage males got on his nerves at times, but he was popular, and they liked him, and, damn it, he enjoyed being a Princess. He had not expected he would (and had he had different colleagues, his feelings might have been very different) when he had started. Come to think of it, he had accepted the position because of the money involved-
Damn! The money!
Toohru somehow tuned out not only Yuujirou, who effortlessly dragged him towards the dormitory, but also the rest of the world. Thirty lunches' worth a month plus the accommodations plus the uniform plus the textbooks and other supplies plus pocket-money… it added up to quite a hefty sum. He had not wasted what meagre finances he had managed to accumulate this year, but it was still pitifully little. He would have to work all through the spring break and, after the next school-year started, get a part time job…
"You're alright?" Yuujirou asked softly.
Toohru blinked and looked around himself. He had missed when they had entered the dorm building. They had come to a halt in front of the P-room, and Yuujirou had finally let go of him to rummage in his bag for a key. It was an act – at least Toohru thought it was an act, because Yuujirou was the type that had his key always handy – but Toohru couldn't for the life of him figure out the why.
"Mhmm…" he mumbled absently.
Yuujirou pushed his hair out of his face and stepped aside, allowing Toohru unlock the door for them (Toohru also kept his key always in the same place and easily accessible) and precede him inside. The door slid shut, the lock snicked into place and Toohru sat down on his bed, staring at his hand. He had forgotten about the ice cream; it had melted and run down over his fingers, sticky and undoubtedly sweet.
"Toohru," Yuujirou said for the umpteenth time, exasperated. A moment later he sat down next to Toohru and wiped the substance from his hand with a napkin.
"It's ending," Toohru said.
They both knew he was going to tell everything, and there was no point in procrastinating. He scrambled to his feet and climbed up to Yuujirou's bed where he laid back and decided to stay for the evening. Yuujirou relocated to the swivel-chair, as he usually did when he wanted to recreate a distance between them.
"After the next Friday, we won't be Princesses anymore," Toohru said, doing his best to not sound plaintive. "No dresses, no make-up, no maniacal worshippers after us… Did it occur to you that we're free to do things that are not normally socially acceptable? When we come back in April, we won't be."
"Are you going to miss painting each other's nails, Toohruko-chan?" Yuujirou drawled in his cutesy Princess voice. Toohru didn't have to look to know the boy was fluttering his lashes, too – that was something that had evolved by itself, and Yuujirou mostly wasn't aware he was doing it. It was the one thing Toohru tended to point out to Mikoto when Yuujirou's teasing got him down.
"I'm going to miss being except from social norms," Toohru said serenely, to fog his real feelings. Yuujirou was a better friend than anybody could have asked for, but Toohru still didn't think it was a good idea to tell him that yes, he was going to miss Yuujirou painting his nails, and them joking while they fixed their make-up and Mikoto's rages and – Mikoto! Did they have anything in common with Mikoto at all? Would they just stop being friends, or would Mikoto outright avoid Toohru for fear of being reminded of his stint as a Princess?
"You need to get up earlier in the morning to be able to lie to me," Yuujirou said.
Toohru, with his eyes closed and a wall of self-imposed imperception built like a fortress around him, managed to ignore that he was currently in his one safe haven, in the place where he was accepted for who he was and didn't have to put on a mask. Conversely, he also managed to rekindle his anger.
"You'll have come to terms with not knowing everything about me," he snapped.
He didn't usually resort to curtness, not even when he was aggravated, and he had never truly given Yuujirou the cold shoulder so far, so it stood to reason that Yuujirou was surprised, even disconcerted by that response. There was a while of silence which Toohru used to fortify his resolve to not give in to Yuujirou's well-meaning prying and evil charming techniques, while Yuujirou undoubtedly contemplated a list of debilitating diseases Toohru might have contracted…
There was a hand on his shoulder, and Toohru tensed up. It might not have seemed so, but physical contact between the Princesses was scarce… generally, physical contact was a scarcity in Toohru's life, and while he liked being touched (though he would never ever tell anyone), this situation made him curl up like a baby and grit his teeth to keep himself from spilling all his dark secrets (of which there were pitifully few as it was).
It wasn't as much the fact that he was being touched (normally, he guessed, but the pink-spectacled part of himself interpreted the tentativeness as gentleness) which made him uncomfortable, as the fact that he was being touched by Yuujirou, whom he had come to perceive as the single most important person in his life. He was ashamed of himself, because it was supposed to be his family: the kind aunt and uncle who took him in after his parents had died and poor misguided Sayaka, who loved him past the point of obsession.
"You're darkening my day, stupid…" Yuujirou complained.
Toohru was on the brink of telling him – anything he asked about-
But he didn't. He bit his tongue and rolled onto his side and stared unseeingly at the wall until Yuujirou sighed and postponed the interrogation in favour of the psych textbook waiting for him.
Toohru woke just past midnight, when his oblivious dreamland was invaded by the alien sound of low cussing. He rolled over onto his other side and squinted into the dim light of the desk-lamp.
Yuujirou was sitting in his swivel-chair, leaning over a book or a note and cursing to high heaven about something or other. There was a veritable pond of crisp-crumbs underneath him, and Toohru knew from experience that by mid-morning the two of them would have unintentionally trailed them all over the room.
"What are you doing?" he grumbled, nuzzling his pillow. It took him a while to realise why he was still dressed in his uniform pants and shirt, but that was okay, because Yuujirou took a while to stop the torrent of vulgarity and notice he was being asked something.
Toohru pulled the covers closer around himself and scrunched up his nose when he took a breath and found out he stank. It was the single most important information his senses supplied him with, and was instantly eclipsed by his mind's assertion that he was free to go back to sleep.
"Cramming," Yuujirou replied perhaps a second before Toohru would have fallen asleep again.
"Shouldn't have spent half your life conditioning your hair, Western Princess, and you might have spared a moment for study here and there…" Toohru slurred. It was a complete fabrication, of course, because although Yuujirou didn't have Akira's perfect marks, he was so smart that he hardly needed to study at all to keep his grades up. He just tried to make his adopted father – a teacher – proud of him, which made him more concerned about his final percentages, hence this late-night cram-session… probably, because Toohru was far too sleepy to be considered mentally competent.
What it came down to was that Toohru usually studied more, and his grades lagged behind Yuujirou's anyway.
"You're cranky when you wake up in the middle of the night, have I ever told you?" Yuujirou quipped.
"Often enough," Toohru replied, easily falling into their usual manner of interaction. "And you're touchy and whiny when you're stressed, beyond even Mikoto's level. Have I ever told you that?"
"You're being a pain, Toohru…" Yuujirou told his friend, who was hugging his pillow close to his body and thinking about tomorrow's ice cream and a way to pay Akira back for all the naïve goodness he had brought into their lives. "By the way, why don't you tell me why you're constantly being a pain these past few days?"
That effectively reminded Toohru that he and Yuujirou were on bad terms right now, though the reasoning seemed somehow skewed to his sleep-induced mind. Nevertheless, he remembered that in a more rational moment he had decided quite firmly that he was not going to talk.
"Yuu…" he muttered with his mouth pressed into the bedding. "This is immensely taxing on me. I already feel like I'm losing something precious, like these are my last happy days, and I would very much appreciate it if I could be spending them with my best friend: a best friend who won't be trying to force me to tell him something I do not wish to tell him, and who'd respect my privacy."
Yuujirou swiveled around in the swivel-chair. He was scowling – worried, Toohru admitted to himself guiltily – and his hair was tied up in a ridiculous topknot. He was entirely too huggable, and it was lucky that Toohru was too tired and comfortable to crawl out of the bed (and likely to fall five feet down and onto his face), because otherwise they might have ended up in awkward positions.
"Promise you'll tell me before you leave for the vacation, and I'll leave you be in the meantime," Yuujirou suggested.
Toohru yawned. "Alright. Fine. I promise." He wasn't entirely sure what he was promising, but he trusted Yuujirou. He knew it was idiotic of him but, damn, whenever Yuujirou had let him down it was to help him in a totally backwards and totally effective way.
And Toohru really, really appreciated that.
"Very well, then, Toohru," the blond said, smirking widely. "But, you know that was something you would normally tell a lover, don't you?"
That was a several-times-revisited argument, and Toohru knew where he stood in it, so he just shrugged and snuggled closer to his pillow. "Don't worry, Yuujirou," he reassured his friend. "I suffer no delusion about our relationship. You've told me, loud and clear and repeatedly: we're platonic."
Yuujirou laughed as he turned back to his desk, and proclaimed: "And don't you forget it!"