Stars of Gold

Kaidoh, by his third year of middle school, was pretty used to girls giving him chocolates on Valentine's. His admirers were much less... extravagant than those of his previous sempai's, but they still existed in abundance. He'd been given chocolates by tall girls, short girls, shy girls, outgoing girls, and even one girl who burst into tears when he took the heart-shaped box she gave to him. (She then ran away, still sobbing uncontrollably, and Kaidoh still feels inexplicably guilty about it, even though logic tells him that it couldn't possibly have been his fault. Right?)

Kaidoh thought that there was no way he could be surprised on Valentine's Day.

Of course, that was before Inui showed up to their usual lunchtime meeting with a large, heart-shaped watermelon in his arms.

Kaidoh knew it was rude, but he really couldn't help it. He stared.

"Hello, Kaidoh," said Inui pleasantly, as if he hadn't noticed Kaidoh's staring at all. "How is Valentine's this year?" he asked casually, leaning against the fence separating Seigaku Middle School and Seigaku High School.

Kaidoh didn't say anything. He was still staring at the watermelon in Inui's arms.

Inui didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary as he sat down on the grass and unpacked his bento, setting the watermelon on the ground gently.

That snapped Kaidoh out of his daze. "Sempai," he blurted out, completely bewildered. "What's that?" Because even though Inui was weird and had always been, Kaidoh had never thought that Inui would be carrying around a giant heart-shaped watermelon on Valentine's. Where had he gotten a heart-shaped watermelon anyway?

"Oh, this? It's a watermelon," said Inui as if it should be obvious. Which, well, it was, but still...

Kaidoh hissed. "I know that, sempai. Why is it heart-shaped?"

"That's because it's Valentine's, Kaidoh," Inui said patiently. Kaidoh wanted to kill him. How could he not see the bizarreness of a heart-shaped watermelon? Why did he not understand that Kaidoh just wanted to be less confused when it came to his already confusing sempai?

"...Where did you get it, sempai?" Kaidoh decided to say instead, determined to get some sort of answer.

Inui paused, a takoyaki ball halfway to his mouth. "Well," he said, giving Kaidoh a look as if to say, 'you didn't know?', "I grew it in my backyard."

Kaidoh blinked, frowning. He'd been over to Inui's house several times before, and never had he seen a heart-shaped watermelon growing at any time.

"I'm surprised you didn't notice, Kaidoh," Inui continued, popping the takoyaki into his mouth nonchalantly, "what with the way the tempered glass casing was bright red."

"Why did you grow a heart-shaped watermelon, sempai?" Kaidoh asked wearily, not sure if he really wanted to know.

"It's Valentine's, Kaidoh," Inui repeated slowly, as if Kaidoh were slow. "Your memory is deteriorating at a rate faster than I previously antici–"

"Shouldn't you wait till White Day to confess to a girl, sempai?" Kaidoh interrupted, unwilling to sit still through an insult, even if it were made by honestly concerned Inui-sempai.

"I am following Western culture," said Inui. "Also, I did not wish to wait until White Day to reveal my affections."

"O...kay. Why did you bring it here, then, sempai?"

"Watermelons are to be eaten, and eating is to be done during lunch, Kaidoh," Inui said, as-a-matter-of-factly. He pulled a knife out of his bento cloth and started cutting the watermelon into two.

"What are you doing, sempai?" Kaidoh asked, startled. "Weren't you going to give that to someone?"

"Were the person to accept my watermelon –representing my heart– and consequently eat it, its symbolic meaning would be that my heart would be completely destroyed by the person. Alternatively, by dividing it and then consuming it together with the object of my affections, its symbolic meaning is much less angsty. Don't you think?"

Kaidoh thought about it for a while, trying to see the sense in Inui's logic. It was wasted on Kaidoh, who didn't really care about symbolism. It was a watermelon, for Kami-sama's sake. Inui's heart wasn't going to be destroyed just because someone ate it. He should have considered this when he first decided to grow a freaking heart-shaped watermelon in the first place!

"Yes, sempai," Kaidoh said simply, because when Inui didn't make sense it was just easier to agree with him. "But maybe you should be explaining this to the person you're confessing to?"

"Ah, yes. The most important part," said Inui, setting one half of the newly divided watermelon down gently. "Catch."

"Huh?" Before Kaidoh's mind really registered anything, his body reflexively caught the half-watermelon that had been thrown over the fence.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Kaidoh," said Inui, watching Kaidoh closely for any sort of reaction.

Kaidoh blinked.

Then it sank in, and Kaidoh's face turned such a bright red he was sure that satellites in orbit picked it up.

"F-for m-m-m-me?" he stammered, still blushing uncontrollably.

Inui smiled. "So cute," he said, grinning when Kaidoh's blush deepened at the comment. "Yes, for you. Certainly not a girl, the structurally weaker things that they are. I admire strength, Kaidoh."

"Oh," squeaked Kaidoh. His brain was panicking: Inui liked him! Inui liked him! Inui liked him!

His heart, oddly, was at peace. Inui liked him. Okay. That's good.

GOOD? Why was it good? His best friend, his doubles partner, his sempai liked him in a romantic way! How was that good?

Well, said a small, calm voice in Kaidoh's head that sounded unhelpfully similar to Inui, it's good because you're totally in love with him.

Then it hit Kaidoh, like a punch right to the gut. He liked Inui.

Inui shifted uncomfortably on the other side of the fence. The rustle of fabric and grass broke Kaidoh out of his stupor.

"I suppose I might have miscalculated your feelings towards me," Inui mumbled, sounding like a kicked puppy. "Figures don't work so well with emotions, you know."

His face was so sad and dejected and miserable, like a stray dog left out in the rain. Kaidoh couldn't resist a face like that.

"...Sempai," Kaidoh said softly, embarrassed but determined to bring a smile to that handsome face, "I... I like watermelons."

Inui's eyebrows shot up, and he stared at Kaidoh for a long while, his mouth slightly open. Kaidoh wished the fence wasn't between them; he wanted nothing more than to kiss that big idiot in that moment.

Then a smile broke out of his face, a smile so radiant and full of hope that Kaidoh almost went blind from the sparkliness. Inui could do toothpaste ads, he thought absently.

"I like you too, Kaidoh."

Kaidoh looked away, embarrassed, as his cheeks flared fire engine red. He sat and unpacked his own bento, leaning back against the fence as he did so. Inui plopped down soon after and pressed right up against Kaidoh's back through the chain-link fence. There was a moment of companionable silence.

"Sempai, normal people confess with flowers and candy," Kaidoh couldn't help saying.

Inui grinned. "You should know by now, Kaidoh, I am not normal by any means," he said, producing a roll of grip tape from his pocket and pushing it through one of the holes in the fence to Kaidoh. "Though I think watermelons are a lot more healthy than candy, and flowers don't last very long, do they? Grip tape lasts far longer. Much more useful, too. Speaking of which..." Inui went on in a long ramble as he tended to do.

Kaidoh smiled. Inui was Inui; thank Kami-sama for that. If he'd been all romantic about it, Kaidoh would have died of mortification.

"Happy Valentine's Day, sempai," he said softly.

Kaidoh didn't really like chocolates, anyway.

DISCLAIMER: I know that my work is genius, but I'm afraid you've got the wrong genius. Konomi-sensei lives down the road, at 3612 Genius Grove, not 3621 Genius Grove. Geez, get it right.

I believe it's possible to grow a heart-shaped watermelon. If you can grow a watermelon in the shape of a cube, I think you can grow it in all sorts of shapes. Review? :D They make me happy and feed me during rainy season! (I would say winter, but we never get winter over here :/)

~Stars of Gold