Witch's thoughts: a rough sketch for a proper 10051. will contain another chapter, maybe third but I'm not sure. to read this, forget about what happened in KHR, it's just university era, no Millefiore and just choosing presents for Christmas...

feedback? yes, please^^

enjoy!


Americans.

Shoichi winced nervously. He had only been in America for four days, two days on the University, and even so, it was enough to make him want to go back home. Standing out too much, concentrating too much attention upon himself even if he didn't want to, had never been a good situation for him to put up with. And the problem was, he couldn't help it.

The lecture about physics was long and boring enough, even without second year PhD students who came in in the middle, just because they got cancelled their previous classes and decided to visit favourite teacher. Shoichi observed them shortly, before going back to his notes, again turning to face the blackboard. In that position, he couldn't have noticed that one of them was watching him with vivid interest from his place in the last row. And that was a shame.

/

The books were hellishly heavy and choose the best moment to slide out from his arms, meaning when he was still on the stairs. What's more, some thick volume of encyclopaedia knocked his feet from under him, so that his knees met painfully with wooden stairs. Shoichi cursed angrily and helplessly.

"Need some help?"

At that voice, Shoichi looked up. A person was looking at him with eyes narrowed in smile, his figure bend with arms supported on his knees. Shoichi blinked. Even for Americans' standards, this guy was kinda weird. White hair that surprisingly looked natural and a violet tattoo under his eye? One didn't see such thing often.

"Hello?" the stranger waved his hand before Shoichi's eyes when the redhead didn't answer. "You alright? Did you hit your head?"

Shoichi didn't know how one could hit his head by falling to his knees, but just in case, he denied. The guy helped him to carry all the books to library again, taking the bigger part of them and leading the way with calm certainty of frequenter in that part of the campus. And Shoichi could only be grateful for such encounter, as he himself again wasn't so sure where exactly he ended up.

The guy was called Byakuran Gesso and Shoichi was strangely sure that it wasn't the first, and most likely not the last meeting with white-haired.

/

"So? How is it going?" blonde girl sipped from her glass and smiled at Shoichi, who slouched on his chair.

"Don't know. America sure is weird."

The girl laughed. "Of course it is. Especially in comparison to Japan, isn't it?"

Shoichi sighed once more, putting his head on the cool surface of the table. Sitting outside the Chemistry department building, in the university's café-garden, he felt unusually drained from energy. Even his science project that he waited impatiently for, couldn't rise up his spirits and his friend saw that very well. She frowned.

"Everything alright, Sho-chan?"

He smiled hearing the nickname she came up with for him. Shaking his head to show her everything was okay, he apologized for his gloomy attitude today, just in time as she jumped from her chair saying she had to go to her lecture. With one hand waving her goodbye, Shoichi fought back a sudden feeling of chill running down his spine.

"You have a beautiful girlfriend, Irie-kun~"

Shoichi jumped on his chair nervously, in the next second wondering why he did so. There was nothing strange in that the other found him here, during the lunch break. He could sit and talk with anyone, couldn't he?

"Gesso-san." He was met with beaming smile of the white-haired and he decided to ignore the comment on the girl. "Shall we go? The lecture is about to start."

"After you, Irie-kun."

/

Sometimes, he wondered how did that happened. It wasn't clear; such thing don't happen harshly, suddenly, instead growing slowly on the bearer to surprise him with its obviousness all of the sudden. It was like that now too; just out of the blue, Shoichi Irie became friends with one of the most popular guys on the University.

And he didn't know, how.

Byakuran Gesso was a son of some influential and prosperous official. Everybody knew him, everybody liked him and everybody wanted to be in his presence. That's why, majority of people envied Shoichi.

"Shoichi-kun let's go somewhere else. This fan club here is annoying."

"But it's your fan club."

Byakuran smiled sweetly at him, not answering and instead of that, pulling him by hand after himself, in search for calmer place. That was another thing that bewildered Shoichi; how easily he let the other into his personal space. He didn't mind when Byakuran was touching him, especially as the other was incredibly clingy and seemed to like to be close to redhead. Ignoring his presence was strangely easy and hard at the same time. Easy in a sense that it didn't disturb Shoichi, no matter if he was studying or eating. Hard… was hard to define as well. Shoichi became self-conscious all of the sudden, after meeting Byakuran. Painfully aware what he was wearing, what he looked like, especially when he forgot to comb his hair before classes…

He tried to explain it.

"I don't get a word you are saying, Sho-chan." The blond girl frowned, playing inattentively with her bracelet. She seemed worried and that wasn't what Shoichi wanted. He quickly tried to cheer her up.

"Well, I don't get it myself, Coby. You know what? Forget it; I think it's nothing important anyway."

Sitting in the café in the shopping mall, Coby and Shoichi were resting after they managed to choose Christmas presents for their families that were left in their country. As a Japanese, they had to make sure the presents would arrive safely before the celebration, because well, one could never know what trouble shipping may encounter. Coby was actually an Italian, but after her parents moved to Japan, she was living for quite a time in Namimori, near Irie's house. Her scholarship in America was just another travel for her, even if it scared Shoichi senseless. Thank god she was in the same University as the one he got assigned to.

"He seems to be quite affectionate towards you, Sho-chan." Coby finished her coffee and started to look for her wallet. When he gave her a startled look, she couldn't help but smile seeing how clueless he was "there are some rumors flying through the campus, you know."

"What kind of rumors?" he asked, suddenly feeling chilly. Not knowing exactly why, Shoichi had a very bad feeling about what she was about to say.

"Nothing specific, don't worry. Just a constant mention about you accompanying Byakuran Gesso in everything." Coby counted the change carefully before she poured the coins onto the table. "Some girls are seriously envious of you, Sho-chan. They say you monopolize their idol."

"That's ridiculous!" he winced, uncomfortably shifting on his chair. "We are just… hanging out. That's all."

Blonde looked at him from under her eyelashes.

"If you say so." Coby stood up, gathering her packages and bag. "I have to run, Sho-chan. See you later!"

After she was gone with hurried clicking of her high-heels, Irie was sitting at the café for a long time, dazedly looking at the crowd moving before his eyes. Before Christmas, malls such as this one, were full of people with their families, as well as decorations and Carols played through the radio. Shoichi wasn't a particular fan of Christmas shopping, but he gave in to Coby and besides, he would have to do it anyway. With her, he had a chance of finishing it quickly, as she didn't like to shop just as him.

Stretching on his chair, he decided it was time to go, when he noticed an old lady watching him with disapproval. As he was quite a sucker in talking with such elder women, Shoichi quickly escaped from the café, by mistake leaving much more money than he should have. Then, walking lazily and aimlessly through the mall, he decided to choose the bus that was departing later and watch the displays a little more. He still didn't have a present for Coby, not to mention a slightest idea, what to give her. She wasn't the same case as his sister, who two months ago sent him a list of what he could give her. In some way, this was easier, even if a little annoying. However, from her side, asked about what she would like, Coby denied a need for such thing as Christmas present for her. And that was what made him upset, as he wanted to give her one.

Shoichi sighed heavily and nearly got a heart attack at the soft whisper in his ear.

"A problem, Shoichi-kun?" Byakuran asked and laughed happily, seeing that his victim twitched nervously catching his ear in defence.

"Byakuran-san! Don't do it!"

"Did Shoichi-kun got scared? Sorry, sorry, I won't do that again~" white-haired put his hands into his leather jacket's pockets, still smiling in a way that most girls in the campus would get weak knees from. And not only girls. Feeling such smile directed at him, Shoichi felt quite unsure as how to behave around Byakuran, so he settled for friendly formality, which allowed him to recover some strength in his own legs.

"Is Shoichi-kun looking for presents?" he combed through his fair hair with nonchalant movement of his well-cared-for hand. Shoichi tried hard not to stare "or should I say… is Shoichi-kun looking for a present for his girlfriend?"

Irie scowled. He didn't know how it happened, but as much as he spent his time with Byakuran and Coby, these two have never actually met and so, the man still thought her to be Shoichi's girlfriend no matter how many times he had it explained to be a completely different case.

"Byakuran-san." Shoichi sighed heavily countless time today. "Coby is a girl and a friend but she is NOT my girlfriend."

"Is that so? I just thought it was the case, as Shoichi-kun was dazed in front of the lingerie shop."

Accompanied with good-natured laughter, Irie looked behind himself just to find out that yes, he really was sleepwalking in front of the boutique with high-class women underwear. Feeling that his cheeks were hot with embarrassed blush, he stomped away into next alley, with chuckling Byakuran tailing after him.

Next hour was spent by the two of them on visiting various shops, in wonder what it would be that Coby would like to receive. After revealing his problem to Byakuran, Shoichi felt a little better, seeing that even such a women's man like him had difficulty with choosing the gift. What's more, he was quite grateful for that unexpected help, as Gesso seemed to know very well, what girls preferred. Like, right now, gathering a pile of various accessories in all colours and sizes just to dump it on Shoichi with impish grin.

Sometime during the shopping, Shoichi stopped to notice when Byakuran's hand touched his or when his arm drew him closer. It felt natural; one time, when Irie got careless and nearly fell on an elder lady on the escalator, Byakuran was the one who defended him.

"What are you doing, young man!"

"Oh my, did we hurt you? We are terribly sorry, ma'am. This won't happen again, I promise." Byakuran caught Shoichi by the waist preventing him from falling down along with all his bags. Bowing to the fuming old woman, the man didn't let go of his redhead, hugging him closer instead, as if afraid he would run away. After they got away thanks to Byakuran's always sunny smile, Irie felt it to be appropriate to remind the other about what situation they were in.

"Byakuran-san…"he said, as the man didn't change his grip and seemed to be deep in thought "you don't have to hold me now, she is gone."

White-haired's reaction surprised him; Byakuran twitched as if startled and looked apologetically at his 'prisoner'.

"Sorry, sorry, Shoichi-kun. I got carried away~." Slowly, his hand left Shoichi's waist. For a moment, it felt as if Byakuran didn't exactly want to let him go, but after a second, the moment was gone and the man was again cheerfully babbling where they could go next.

Feeling tired, but at the same time having incredible fun, Shoichi didn't count which shop in row was it. However, he quickly sobered, when looked at prices of even the plainer of the t-shirts. He wanted to go out, just to get out of such a place when he felt terribly bad for his messy hair and yesterday's clothes, before one thing caught his attention.

A hair ribbon. It wasn't flashy or glittering with false diamonds like other girls from the University would like, but it was quite… nice. Or as much as a guy could say. Telling himself that it's just to see the price, Shoichi touched shyly the accessory, with pleasure feeling the silk-like fabric. The greenness of it changed a little under his touch, becoming fairer and a little shiny.

"Shoichi-kun has a good eye." He heard from behind himself, when with sudden and unexplained guilt he turned to his companion. Before he could start an awkward conversation that they should go out, that he didn't have money for such a fancy thing, Byakuran was already at the cash point, with his usual pretty self charming the clerk. Coming back with an elegant package, he didn't give Shoichi a chance to complain, already grabbing a necktie and wrapping it around the other's neck, just to pull on it playfully. Redhead had to draw in a deeper breath not to get suffocated and before he composed himself, Byakuran was paying for the tie as well.

"Shoichi-kun's girl deserve to have such a thing." he said to redhead's protests with sweet smile.

"Coby isn't…!" Shoichi resigned from explaining it once more, sighing "Alright, but it's still too much for me to afford. Not to mention this." He added, pointing at the tie hanging around his neck. It was emerald, from deliciously soft material and had the same price as his laptop. Even touching it made Shoichi shiver from high-classness of the product, but Byakuran just laughed, smiling broadly.

"It's yours Christmas present, Shoichi-kun." He said making the other stop in bewilderment. "As it matches the colours of your eyes."

Feeling a mad blush overtaking his face so much that it mixed with his messy hair, Shoichi didn't say anything to such a confession.

What could he?

/

This year, Shoichi decided not to go home for Christmas. Coby was staying as well, as her parents were working and wouldn't be able to meet with her at all, so he would just join her.

To be honest, he didn't quite understand the idea of 'family celebrating'. His parents and sister had their own image of such event and he was afraid that his didn't match their expectations. Justifying himself with his upcoming exam session as a reason for not coming home, for the first time in his life he could do what he wanted with two free days of Christmas.

First of all, he was forced to help Coby in dinner preparation, as she wanted to invite some friends and spend the evening with them. Even though he wished for a quiet time with just the two of them as it happened in the past, Shoichi enthusiastically agreed. It was just an evening and she seemed quite happy with it, busying herself with food, utensils, table, Christmas tree, tablecloth and such things. No point in spoiling her fun.

"Sho-chan, is that you?" Coby shouted from the kitchen, hearing that the door clicked again, after she sent him to the nearby store. However, when she didn't get an answer, Coby left the knife on the table and put her head into the room. "Sho-chan?"

Seeing that he was curled up on the sofa, still in his jacket and heavy boots, she ran to him, worried.

"Sho-chan? Are you ill? What happened?"

Rising his head with effort, he looked at her. Coby blinked, seeing how miserable he was.

"I met Byakuran-san." He whispered finally. Sitting down on the floor, as it didn't seem that they would be changing the place soon, Coby put aside some stray bangs from his face. "He invited me to some party after Christmas."

"Isn't that a good thing?" she asked carefully. He certainly didn't react as if it was. "I remember you were talking a lot of fun things about that guy. He is your friend, right?"

A moan was the only answer she got. Frowning, Coby made a note to herself to actually check on the Gesso guy in her free time, just to forget about it completely, busy with reanimating Sho-chan. By the time she got him out of his winter clothes, unmoving like a doll, the boy was already waiting for her to put the coat down, to grab her and hug. Feeling him trembling, Coby promised Byakuran a lot of unpleasant things if he had in any way hurt Sho-chan. Fortunately, it wasn't necessary.

"… I-I just don't get it… what does he want from m-me… why me… is it normal..? Coby, am I abnormal…?" he sniffed somewhere under her elbow, face hidden in her apron. The girl sighed.

"Of course you are abnormal, Sho-chan." He looked up at her, startled why she was giggling like a maniac. "You love computers more than anything else, to talk to you I have to cut your earphones off from the power, you habitually forget your ID card and cash, but never a textbook from physics… not to mention that you get lost every single time you go to the library! And you ask me if you are normal?"

"Very funny." He said, letting her go and sitting cross-legged on the floor. Coby laughed for a moment more, before she wiped her tears and hugged him, offended, again.

"It's not funny, Sho-chan, but it's what makes that you are you. We all have things we are not exactly proud of, but that doesn't mean we are abnormal, you know?"

"I know!" he burst out, roughly knocking off her arms and standing up, just to ruffle his already messy hair and march nervously through the room. "But what the hell should I do with Gesso?"

Coby sat in the proper seiza on the floor, her hands nicely folded on her knees. She shook her head disapprovingly.

"You have a bad temper, Sho-chan." She said with gentle reproach that made him lose a little of his aggressiveness. "What to do with Gesso-san? Why not try him out?"

Shoichi turned to her in surprise, stopping with his hands in his hair.

"You can't be serious, Coby! He is a guy, just like me!"

"I noticed." She snorted with a small smile. "Listen, Sho-chan. I know you like to spend your time with him. And don't deny it, I just know." She added quickly when he wanted to interrupt her. "Besides, it's just a party. He didn't ask you for a date, did he?"

Shoichi shook his head that no, he didn't.

"See? Maybe he too want to just hang out with you? Try it out, that's what I advise you." Saying this, she stood up slowly and directed her steps to the kitchen again. Silence answered her; turning around she could see that Shoichi was standing in the middle of the room, deep in thought. Laughing mentally, she quietly retreated to the kitchen, back to chopping the vegetables. If Sho-chan needed the time, she would gladly give it to him.


Witch again: Coby is my OC, in the proper KHR world her role is much more bloody than here, but for now she is a Chemistry student, lived in Namimori near Irie.