[A/N] - Read this please!
So. Exactly one year after this story's beginning, I wrote the end. And posted it. And now I have this sense of fulfillment. Yay.
For every single person who's favorited, followed, reviewed, or read this story, thank you so much! I couldn't believe people were so interested in this short little thing I threw together. It made me feel so happy to see all those alerts for things in my mailbox. This was such a short project, and yet... Eurgh. You people make me tear up a bit. QQ
So here's your ending to Can't Give the Same Gift Twice!
The trio exited the stone-grey building and piled into Haruka's car. Yako took the passenger's side seat, leaving Neuro to take up the backseat by himself, where he amused himself by violently kicking the back of Yako's chair when she least expected it. She could have sworn he was using one of his Daemon Tools to make his hands pass through the back of the chair to prick her in the back with his thorny hands, but let it slide, as she was wont to do when she wanted to keep all her body parts on her person.
Nevertheless, in general, the ride to Yako's house was fairly uneventful. When Haruka pulled up the driveway to park the car, Yako was relieved to find that the house was still in one piece and lacking the scorch marks and decimated roof she'd been expecting when her mom had told her she'd been cooking. She noted the three other cars parked along the street in front of her house after stepping out of the car – all three were black and sleek, and she could only wonder who else her mom had invited.
"Alright, into the house you go! I'm sure everyone's eager to see the guest of honor on her special day!" Haruka smiled brightly, gently pushing Yako up the couple of steps through the front door with her hands – a welcome change from Neuro's prickly claws tormenting her back. Said demon was keeping his hands to himself for the moment, following after the mother-daughter pair as well as he could pull off a meek shuffle.
"Like I said, though, who else did –?"
Yako's question was cut off by a gasp of delight when she saw four of her friends from the police department gathered in the kitchen, all of them seeming to be eyeing the oven with caution and wariness. They turned at the sound and gave her their smiles, making hers all that much wider.
Haruka came in behind her daughter and said, "I'm sorry I couldn't get Kanae-chan here for you - apparently, she went on a vacation for the summer with her parents. They changed their home phone's voicemail to say so."
Sasazuka coughed slightly and put out the cigarette he'd been holding in his mouth, pinching the end off and throwing it in the trash can. "Didn't think your mom'd be able to get you out so easily. Where's that assistant of yours?"
"Right here, Sasazuka-san." Neuro came up behind Yako with his "I'm as human as you think I am" smile, placing his hands on his shoulder and effectively locking her in her place. "I thought Sensei needed a break from all the hard work she's been doing, so she's taken the day off to celebrate this special day."
"Right…" Sasazuka's tone expressed his skepticism, but he otherwise kept quiet.
"Katsuragi-san, we've been keeping our eye on this for you while you were out, but… I think something's wrong with it." Todoroki motioned to the oven, where the oven light illuminated something that resembled a melted, lopsided cinderblock in a glass pan. The grey substance bubbled over the edges of the pan, oozing down the sides of the pan and covering the metal rack beneath it.
Haruka made a noise of wonder, leaning forward and peeking through the glass of the oven door. "I wonder why it's doing that. I could have sworn I'd put enough seaweed to hold it all together…"
"Is that what was in the trashcan?" Higuchi made a face of disdain, scratching at his head where his glasses rested, nestled in his hair. "I was wondering what could possibly be that slimy and smelly."
"Hey, I was going to use more of that!" Haruka crossed her arms, pouting a bit. "Who threw it out?"
All eyes turned to Ishigaki, who was trying to make his way out of the kitchen. His attempt at sneaking was inadvertently thwarted by Neuro, who was still holding down Yako by the shoulders at the doorway – an immovable object against a relatively stoppable force.
"…What?" Ishigaki frowned, shrinking back from the stares. "It smelled bad and it was spoiling my appetite."
"No one cares about your appetite," Sasazuka intoned, a bored look on his face. "It's about Yako-chan's appetite today."
"It's always about Yako's appetite." Higuchi laughed. "You know Usui-san is always freaked out a bit whenever he sees her walk in, 'cause he knows he's going to end up feeding her one way or another."
"Well, Sensei does have the stomach of a pig somewhere in there," Neuro said cheerfully, smacking her back to emphasize his statement and nearly sending Yako face-first into the floor.
Instead, Yako managed to keep her balance and blushed slightly, trying to pull herself away from Neuro's relatively slack grip, but to no avail. "Didn't Usui-san come with you?"
Higuchi shook his head while Sasazuka said, "Nope. Something about not wanting to waste time on something so trivial."
"So he said, but he did chip in something to your present pile," Todoroki noted, pointing to a small stack of boxes and bags on the dining table. "It's the blue envelope next to Sasazuka's bag."
Yako's eyes lit up. "Could I open presents now?"
Haruka sighed. "Don't you want to eat first? Your cake is almost done."
Looking around the kitchen and noting the lack of anything that resembled a cake, Yako tilted her head quizzically. "… What ca- Oh." 'It must be that… thing in the oven… "I – er, I'm just so excited to see what everyone's gotten for me. I can eat… after. It's okay, right?"
Everyone nodded their heads with some degree of understanding and vigor.
"Well, if you insist…" A small smile played on Haruka's lips and Yako silently let a sigh of relief escape her lips.
She made her way over to the dining table, joining the four police members gathered around the small pile of presents and rolling up the sleeves of her pink sweater in anticipation.
"Whose should I open first?" Yako wondered aloud, looking over the assortment of bags, envelopes, and boxes.
"If you'd like, mine is the box over there." Todoroki pointed to a pink box with a pretty red ribbon tied into a bow on the top with a tag that read, "To Yako."
Yako reached over and picked it up, lightly shaking it and hearing a series of small thuds against the side of the box. She undid the bow and lifted the lid off the box to find a pair of pink hairclips in the shape of shooting stars. She picked them up out of the box and held them gently. "They're so pretty!"
Todoroki smiled, clasping her hands together in front of her. "I'm glad you like them."
"Can you help me put them on?"
Yako pulled her signature melon-shaped, grinning-mouth hairclips out of her hair and pocketed them, allowing Todoroki to clip in the new hairpins in their place. Taking a quick glance at the black screen of her cell phone to look at her reflection, Yako exclaimed, "They look great! Thank you, Todoroki-san!"
"You're welcome – and happy birthday."
Yako smiled widely at the female police officer before turning back to the table. "I guess I'll open… this one!" She grabbed the handle of a silver paper bag with white tissue paper inside and pulled it towards her.
Sasazuka scratched the back of his head, glancing away slightly. "That's mine. Hope you like it."
Yako reached into the bag, pushing the paper aside before her hand bumped into something soft. She got a hold of it and pulled it into view to find a soft plushie in the shape of a tuna roll. It had a comical face of distress on it, simple black lines forming the squinted eyes and open mouth. She hugged it to herself, doing a little turn. "It's so cute! I'll have to be careful not to eat it in my sleep or something."
"You would probably do that." Sasazuka was monotone, but the small upward curve of his mouth told her that he was amused.
Yako replaced the plushie in the bag to bring it up to her room later. There were two envelopes and a gift-wrapped box left on the table. She went for the box, noticing the tag on top that read, "From Mom." "I didn't know you'd gotten me something, mom!"
"Well, I couldn't be the only person who didn't get you something, right?" Haruka crossed her arms, smiling. "I thought you would have figured it out when it took me so long to get ingredients."
"Er, nope. I didn't know at all." Yako's eye twitched slightly. 'It always takes her a long time to get "ingredients," and I never really want to know what she's putting in it, so…' The last of the wrapping paper came off of a plain cardboard box. Using her nail to tear off the tape holding it closed, Yako opened the lid to reveal a shiny orange phone.
Haruka laughed slightly at the amazed look on Yako's face. "I remember you kept complaining about how your old phone kept losing all the data inside because of the old memory card, or something along those lines, so I thought you'd appreciate a new one."
Yako hugged her mom around the waist, hiding the laughter that must've clearly shown on her face from her mother's eyes. 'I can't exactly tell her the memory dump was because of Akane-chan and that giving me a new phone won't really fix the fact that she drains everything out of it when she's attached, but still.' "Thanks, mom."
"Of course. Happy birthday, sweetie."
Two envelopes remained on the table – one stark white, one deep green. Yako reached for the white one and looked at the front to see who it was from, but found that it was blank.
"Oh, that one's from Usui-san," Ishigaki chimed in. "He told me to bring it to you for him." His chest puffed out a bit, perhaps from a sense of pride at having been given a task by his superior.
"And where's your present for her?" Todoroki inquired, one eyebrow raised.
Ishigaki shrugged. "I figured my bringing Usui-san's present to her was good enough."
Sasazuka raised a single fist and brought it down over Ishigaki's head, leaving the black-haired man clutching his head in pain. "Idiot."
Yako didn't mind Ishigaki's lack of a present, and said so while tearing open the envelope in her hands. She found a piece of paper that read, "This note ensures that you will have unlimited access to the department's cafeteria for one day. So don't make us spend any more money on your extremely unsavory appetite. Usui."
Higuchi laughed after Yako had read the note aloud. "That sounds like something he'd say, for sure."
"He never has been good at being polite." Sasazuka shrugged.
"One whole day though… He's being pretty generous," Todoroki noted. "Once you start eating, the cafeteria won't have anything left."
Yako was busy imagining all the different meal combinations and side dishes the police department's cafeteria offered and drooled a bit at the thought before clearing her head with a few shakes back and forth. "Tell him thank you for me. I'll be happy to take him up on this."
"Just warn us ahead of time when you plan to do that," Higuchi said, smirking. "We'll all pack lunch that day."
"Sure." Yako smiled and put the note back into the envelope, trading it with the green envelope left on the table that had neat writing on the front that said, "From Higuchi Yuya." She tore it open to find a slip of paper with the short message, "Close your eyes."
Higuchi gained a small blush on his cheeks at Yako's questioning look. "Just do it. Please?"
"Okay." Yako said the word slowly, her eyes drifting shut. She heard the rustling of clothing as someone moved past her, a slight breeze from their passing making the strands of hair at her forehead tickle her skin.
"Ah! What the –"
The exclamation of surprise made Yako reopen her eyes to find that Neuro had stepped between her and Higuchi, his gloved hand held up in front of Higuchi's face. Yako was confused as to what had occurred and was about to say so before Neuro said, "I just got an urgent call! Sensei's detective skills are needed at the office right away! So sorry to cut this short, but work is work," in a very cheery voice that Yako saw for what it really was – a threat to keep anyone from stopping him from leaving.
Neuro grabbed ahold of her shoulders and steered her to the front door, much to everyone else's surprise. Haruka called after them, "If you really need to go, I can drive you both back – you don't have to walk all the way there!"
"It's fine, we've got our own transportation waiting. I'll do my best to make this a quick job and get Sensei back here as soon as possible." Neuro gave a jaunty wave before pushing Yako out the door and closing it behind them.
Yako tripped on the steps of her front door at Neuro's shove and closed her eyes, braced for the eventual impact of her face to the hard concrete path, but never felt it. Instead, she experienced a sensation of weightlessness, opening her eyes again to find herself falling through a swirling purple vortex of mist and disembodied eyes and mouths. Neuro had a hold of her wrist, so she assumed that this was one of his Daemon Tools and relaxed a bit.
All too soon, her back hit the tiled floor of the detective office and knocked the wind out of her. Neuro landed on top of her, using her as a cushion for his own impact and effectively crushing her abdomen underneath him. She wheezed slightly and made a weak attempt of shoving him off her stomach, surprised when he quickly got up and leaned against Troy.
Yako took a moment to get her breath back. As soon as she did, she got up and asked Neuro, "What was that about? If there was a client, I'm sure they could have waited a bit longer, right?"
Neuro snorted, looking down at her, an annoyed look on his face that didn't seem to be directed at her. "There is no client – my hunger is as strong as ever and hasn't been piqued yet."
"Then why did you pull me away? Higuchi-san didn't even get to give me my present!" Yako knew she sounded petulant, but she was upset from being torn away from her friends so abruptly.
Suddenly, Neuro's face filled her entire field of vision and she froze, unable to put distance between herself and his piercing green eyes.
"Why, louse? That human boy was going to give you a gift that you do not need. I simply saved the little worm the effort. He should be grateful."
"How would you know that?" Yako was sure Neuro had some kind of Daemon Tool with the ability to read minds, but she would have known if he'd used one on Higuchi.
Neuro's face got even closer, their noses almost touching. He brought his gloved hands up to cradle her face gently – as gently as a normal person would, shocking Yako even more. A smirk split his face in half, baring his teeth. "In the words of your mother, 'I couldn't be the only person who didn't get you something.' And so I have a gift for you, and you do not need to receive the same gift twice."
With that, he pressed his lips to hers.
[A/N] - So, I know that ending might have been kind of vague.
Basically, I was as big a Higuchi/Yako (Yakuya! Or maybe Yuyako. You know, 'cause his first name is Yuya.) fan as I was a Neuro/Yako fan at the time of reading the manga. I could really see them as a pairing and translated it into a small thing here. Higuchi was planning on giving Yako a kiss as her birthday present. Neuro was too and made sure she'd only get his.
Because, you know, demons are jealous and possessive like that.
So, if the ending was so bad that you really did need that little explanation for it, I apologize, but I still thank you for reading this story!