Disclaimer: I do not own Uta no Prince-sama or the characters. If I did, then Natsuki x Sho would definitely be canon.
Notes: Okay, this is a sequel to Pain and Joy of Hearts. I'm a bit worried about this one, I think I may have stepped into OOC territory for real this time, but I'll let you be the judge of that. As this story is Natsuki x Sho, I will give the shounen-ai warning. If you don't like the idea of Natsuki and Sho being in a romantic relationship, then please leave now. If you don't mind it or quite enjoy it, then I hope you enjoy this story!
They had been together for a month, and their other friends were suspecting as much. But, they didn't want either of them expelled, so if they wanted to voice anything about it, they'd find a way to be extremely subtle.
It was because of this, Natsuki considered asking all of them to taste the different bento he'd been working on. No matter what Sho said, he still wanted to make lunch for him.
And, that was why Ittoki Otoya, Ichinose Tokiya, Hijirikawa Masato and Jinguuji Ren were sitting at the table. Only Otoya was expressing concern, the others weren't aware of how bad Natsuki's cooking could be.
"Oh? Where is Nanami-san?" Natsuki enquired. He'd also requested her assistance as she was very honest.
"Oh, I think she's keeping Sho busy, you know, keep the surprise from being spoiled," Otoya replied. Truth was, in fear for her health, he simply warned her it would be best to stay away from the picnic, and maybe she should tell Sho not to approach. He didn't mention exactly why, but he was greatly relieved when she complied without argument.
"That is a good idea! I really want to give Sho-chan a wonderful surprise!" Natsuki brought out the first sample.
Otoya never made it past the first sample, he fell unconscious as soon as he'd forced himself to swallow it. Ren lasted until the third sample. Tokiya was still conscious through sheer force of will, though he was feeling quite unwell. Masato was able to fend off the fainting and nausea by mentally telling himself to not let the food get to him.
Natsuki brought out sample number eight. "Okay, Tokiya-kun, Masato, here's the next one."
"No more!" Tokiya didn't know how much more he could take. He really wished he hadn't yelled, he was feeling much worse.
Masato opened his eyes. "Natsuki, have you tasted them?"
He blinked green eyes in confusion. "Is something wrong?" He tried sample number eight. "It tastes fine to me."
Masato sighed and had a taste. "It's..." His eyes rolled to the back of his head and he fell off the seat, onto the grass.
"Natsuki, I am saying this as a friend. There must be something wrong with your tastebuds and stomach," Tokiya commented after swallowing down some rising bile.
"Why do you say that?" Natsuki cocked his head in confusion.
"It tastes terrible and is better considered a weapon than food."
"Your food is killing us, and not in a good way."
"But, I thought everyone fainted because they liked it so much."
"No. They're unconscious because their bodies think they consumed some form of poison." Tokiya sighed. "You can't give any of this to Sho if you want him to keep living."
Natsuki thought back to when he first shared his cooking with Sho.
"Sho-chan! I made cookies! Aren't they cute?" Natsuki, thirteen at the time, held up a basket filled with animal-shaped biscuits, all with choc-tops.
Eleven-year-old Sho looked up at the taller boy.
"Of course, they're not as cute as you."
"Stop calling me cute!"
"Hey, Sho-chan, do you want one?"
The shorter boy nodded hesitantly. "Sure. Thanks." He picked out one shaped like a lion. He had a bite, swallowed, and fainted.
"Yay! He liked it!" Pleased, he picked out an elephant and had a bite. "Yummy!"
"But, if he liked it, then why did he keep trying to avoid it?" Tokiya questioned weakly. He was reaching his limit.
Natsuki sighed. Tokiya was right about that. Sho was always so insistant on avoiding the food. Even that night they finally spoke about Sho's heart disease, the younger had opted to not eat his cooking, instead volunteering to dress up in the cosplay.
I'd rather eat your cooking than wear that!
Now that he thought about it, Sho wasn't saying he'd enjoy eating his cooking, he just preferred it to being forced to wear a cat costume.
You don't have to cook. I'll wear the cat costume.
In the end, Sho was choosing the lesser of two evils. "Thank you for your honesty, Tokiya-kun." He packed up the food. "I'll get the nurse for all of you."
"That would be much appreciated..."
Natsuki headed off. He knew he would have to talk with Sho. Of course, first things first, find the school nurse for his friends.
"Sho-chan, you've returned just in time!" Natsuki was holding a tray. On it were different cookies. Some were homemade, some were store bought. It was time to find the truth. "Here, I made some cookies for you!"
Sho sweatdropped. "Oh, thanks." He couldn't refuse them if they were right in front of him. He picked up a cookie and hesitantly bit into it. His face lit up. "Mmm! Delicious!"
After finishing it, he reached for another cookie and had a bite. This one caused him to feel sick to his stomach. He forced a smile. "This one is also good."
Natsuki noticed his face was green, he looked as if he was struggling to stand. "Is it really? Your face says otherwise." He set down the tray. "You appear quite ill. I want you to know something. The first cookie was from a package I'd bought last weekend. The second was one I'd made."
The younger blond tensed. He was finally caught!
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"You always appeared pleased when you thought I liked your cooking. If the thought that I fainted after tasting your food because I was overwhelmed by how delicious it was made you happy, I wanted you to keep believing that."
"Even though you preferred to avoid it at all costs."
Sho looked down and nodded.
"You should've told me the truth, aren't friends supposed to do that? Aren't BFs meant to do that?" He couldn't say boyfriends so he abbreviated the word.
"I didn't know how to tell you. I didn't know how to bring you down without hurting you."
"In the end, your dishonesty hurts the most. Don't worry, Sho-chan, I won't cook for you anymore. Excuse me." He left the bedroom.
Sho sighed, he knew Natsuki was right. He should've said something sooner. He moved to flop down on his bed.
Natsuki sat under a tree by the lake, his knees hugged to his chest. He never thought Sho would ever betray him in such a way. Sure, the boy had good intentions, but they went awry. He rested his forehead on his knees, closed his eyes and sighed. He loved Sho, he really did. But, how could he know that their relationship would work if Sho couldn't tell him the truth? That thought broke his heart. Should we really...break-up...?
Sho was thinking of a way to make everything up to Natsuki. But, how could he fix this? He'd been lying about it for four years. He should've outright told Natsuki what he really thought of his cooking. "That's it!" He bolted upright. "I know what to do!"
The spectacled blond stood outside their bedroom door. He took in a deep, calming breath before opening it. "Sho-chan?"
"Oh, hey, you're back!" Sho paused in setting up the ingredients. "Just in time!"
"In time? For what?"
"We're going to cook together."
"But, I thought you didn't like my cooking..."
"No...but, I've been paying attention to you over the years. I know where you've been going wrong, and can help you make something delicious."
Natsuki felt he still had to express just how hurt he had felt about Sho hiding something from him. "Sho-chan..."
"Now, you'll notice I added measuring cups and took away some ingredients."
"And, the flamethrower is gone."
"I was thinking while I was outside. Can we really work?"
"Huh? Of course we can."
"Even though you aren't honest with me?"
"Hey, I told you I didn't want to say anything because it would hurt you if I did."
"It hurt worse because you didn't. I had to find out from Tokiya-kun. Do you know how that made me feel? My best friend couldn't tell me something one of my not-as-close friends could."
Sho stepped closer to Natsuki and noticed his eyes were rimmed with red and appeared puffy, as if... "You've been crying?"
"Now, do you understand how much you hurt me?"
"I think the only time I ever saw you cry was when my goldfish died..."
"I once told you that I can't stand the thought of life without you, and I meant it. Before, I was thinking that maybe we should break-up, and that thought upset me."
"I don't want to break-up with you, but I also don't want you to hide things from me or lie to me. Can you promise you won't?"
"I do, I promise! I'm sorry, Nacchan, I should've told you the truth."
"Wait...did you just call me Nacchan?"
Natsuki's eyes widened, finally Sho addressed him by that adorable nickname! "Sho-chan!" He stepped forward, bent down and wrapped his arms around him. "You finally called me Nacchan..." He looked into the eyes of his boyfriend. "I'm sorry for even considering that we break-up. I don't want to be apart from you."
"I'm the one who should apologise. This wouldn't have happened if I'd been more honest. I promise I will be, even if the truth hurts."
Natsuki nodded. "Thank you, Sho-chan."
"So, do you want to cook something together now?"
Natsuki shook his head. "In a minute. There's something else I'd rather do at this very moment." He leaned in and pressed his lips to Sho's.
The next day, Natsuki brought along a basket full of cookies. He wanted to make it up to his friends for inadvertently poisoning them. "Everybody, I wish to apologise for yesterday. I hadn't realised my cooking was that horrible. I made these last night. Please, have some."
Nervously, the four of them reached into the basket and picked out a cookie. May I survive this, my possibly last cookie, they thought as they took a bite. Their faces lit up in delight.
"Wow, this is delicious!" Otoya exclaimed.
"I learned how to cook by watching programs without sound, so I thought it would work if I threw in some random amounts and improvised, like they appeared to, but Sho-chan showed me what I needed to do. I even avoided using pureed squid this time."
"That is definitely for the best," Ren commented as he reached for another cookie.
"So, would you be willing to help me find the perfect bento combination?"
"Only if you follow the recipe to the tee," Tokiya remarked.
Sho watched from the other side of the hall, glad Natsuki was pleased with what everyone honestly thought of his cooking.