A/N: My first CFV fic. Not all may be able to understand it, BUT! I wanted to write this anyway and now I'm am tired of looking at this over and over and over and over again! Enjoy!
The Perfect Gift
Kai x Aichi
Frantic steps pounded atop the concrete with winded puffs of breath accompanying each footfall. Sendou Aichi bounded down the bustling city streets towards the Card Capital card shop; he was in quite the hurry. It was St. Valentine's Day and earlier, one of his teachers had requested that he stay after school a little later than usual. Being the polite soul he was, Aichi didn't mind helping out his superior. But by the time he finished, the time had advanced nearly 3 hours. He usually went straight to the card shop after classes were over, but since he didn't do that this time, he had nearly one hour remaining to make it there before they closed. And if a certain someone had gone to visit there, Aichi wanted to meet with them before the day was over.
After bidding a respectful bow to his instructor, the frenzied youth departed from the school on winged feet and made a beeline for a nearby gift boutique. Because it was much later in the day, all of the typical presents were sold out. Chocolates, flowers, cute little toys and even book covers were entirely stripped from their shelves. While he doubted his crush would like any of those things, it didn't give Aichi much hope towards finding anything suitable for him either. From being in such a hurry, he wished he wasn't so indecisive in situations of urgency. He ended up spending nearly 7 minutes there; he was about to give up and look someplace else when a small red box caught his eye. It was leather-bound and rectangular in shape with a velvety interior of a darker shade. When Aichi saw what was inside, he knew he had found the perfect gift. Without delay, he approached the cashier and purchased the item. The clerk there even had it wrapped for no extra charge.
And now here he was, running as fast as his little legs could carry him to Card Capital in hopes to present his selection. His mouth was parted in a wide aperture as he respired; his face was tinged with carmine caused not by the distant sun, but the excitement of his desire. Aichi kept the small gift held tightly to his heart while he scampered, fearing that if it moved from that spot before he reached the shop that it would mean bad luck. Luckily for him, he managed to make it there with 20 minutes left to spare.
The second the twin door swooshed open, the exasperated teen bowed deeply, "H-HAPPY ST VALENTINE'S DAY!" he announced in a cute raspy screech. He almost sounded like some hi-pitched school girl he was so winded. His cerulean locks swept over his shoulders and nearly touched his knees he had bowed so lowly. He hadn't even looked first to see if his crush had even shown up today. His throat suddenly became dry at this thought and his breath caught in his throat. He would have made a complete fool of himself if that was the-
"HEEEY! BIG BROTHER!" A familiar boisterous voice bellowed.
Hesitantly, Aichi jerked his body back to a standing and scanned the room. He looked up just in time to realize that there were only a few players in the shop; Misaki was busy reading a book at the register and the cheerful visage of Kamui jogging closer to him were all that he saw.
The one he sought, Kai, was not here today.
"Hey bro! Good to see ya! I didn't think you'd show up today!" Kamui enthused, stopping right in front of his elder. A bright smile on the boy's face, he gave Aichi a wink and a pat on the arm, "You sure got here late! Did something hold you up? Did you get stolen and told to stay home?" he continued, messing over his words as usual. Then, he gained a bashfully meek expression and bashfully tapped his pointer fingers together, "I-is M-m-miss E-e-e-em-emi…. w-with…."
"Huh?" Aichi wondered. He completely ignored the last thing Kamui mentioned about his sister and focused instead on the younger's slip of the tongue. Behind the front counter, Misaki was contemplating the same thing. Both she and Aichi muttered to themselves what they thought Kamui meant.
"Stolen….? And told…?"
Misaki was the first to decode the gibberish and corrected the boy in a flat, smooth tone, "You must mean 'scolded', right?"
"What? Yeah, 'scolded' whatever! N-nevermind!" Kamui disregarded, waving a hand in dismissal while returning his excitement to Aichi. He didn't mean to be rude, it was just the way he was. No matter the younger's enthusiasm, it always caught Aichi off guard. Kamui was such a vast contrast from his crush…
"Ah…um… No, Mr. Mark needed me to stay after a little later and…."
"Hey, what's that you're holding? Is that a Valentine present for someoooone?" Kamui teased. Thoroughly embarrassed, Aichi defensively hugged the gift to his chest with both arms and took a step back. All the color drained from his face and he immediately lost the ability to form a coherent sentence, or fragment even for that matter. Unintelligible sounds were all his lips managed to muster. No one was allowed to touch it except for the person it was intended for. Not even Kamui.
Seeing this, ruby eyes widened apologetically and the energetic child held up both palms in surrender, "Um…hey…listen….big brother… I was just being nosy…sorry…!"
"It's okay, don't worry about it," was Aichi's automatic reply. Well, now that he knew Kai wasn't here, maybe it would just be better if he left. Just as he prepared to tell his former teammates that he had better get going, the sound of a familiar nasal voice wavered behind the other side of the doors.
"Hahahaha! I told you not to worry about it, Kai! Chill out man!" Miwa's distinct timbre invaded Aichi's ears and caused his heart to jump. Kai? Kai was with him?
"Sorry, I've gotta go!" Aichi swiftly remarked and made haste out the doors, "Kai-kun?" he shouted eagerly, studying both ends of the street with racing eyes. While handfuls of people occupied the concrete, the object of his expectations was no where in sight. But how? How could they have moved so fast? A frigid chill rushed over Aichi's skin and his heart sank to knees. He felt as if someone were playing a cruel joke on him. He knew he heard Miwa speaking to Kai just now, and all of a sudden were nowhere to be found? It didn't make any sense and it pained him. Yet, instead of sulking, he took it upon himself to go looking for his friend.
The dim glow of the fading sun painted the city in subdued shimmer while its inhabitants were glazed in shade. As people were milling through the streets on their ways home, the hurrying form of Aichi bobbed about, swaying in and out of the crowds and trying his best not to fall.
'Kai-kun…' The name reverberated sweetly through his mind. Each passing second that didn't grant him sight of the calm upperclassman, Aichi's ascent in hope pained him a little bit more. He was going to find Kai no matter what it took-lest he passed out or ran out of breath, whichever happened first. As he ran, he kept Kai's gift to his chest, alternating holding it there with only one or both hands. Affectionately, he glanced down to it. 'Wait for me, Kai-k-' His thought were tarnished as his attention was not in front of him and he tripped over his own feet. He clutched Kai's valentine to his chest and braced himself for the fall. Luckily, his face didn't meet with the pavement. Unluckily, his descent was redirected as he bumped into a pedestrian, causing him to stumble rump-first into a nearby fountain. The lucid liquid encompassed half his body and instantly caused his uniform to cling uncomfortably to his skin. Many of those who witnessed what happened either laughed at him or ignored his folly entirely.
Aichi was used to being the center of a laugh at his own expense. Under usual circumstances he would have blushed rose and wished that he could vanish into nothingness. But with Kai's gift in his tow and responsibility, his focus went to it immediately with no regard for himself. Naturally, because of the water, the wrapped package was stained with a few dustings of moisture along its bottom and its lower corners. But other than that, it was fine.
"Ah…" Aichi breathed; his delicate features brimmed with endearing relief. He couldn't let anything negative happen to Kai's present, "Thank goodness…." the youth beamed at the item in his arms; liquidy glimmers of the dimmed sun decorated his hair and lashes, increasing the beauty of his sincerity tenfold, "I'm glad that you're okay. I'm going to make sure Kai-kun sees you…."
With that in mind, Aichi pulled himself out of the fountain, albeit slipping and nearly falling back in, then continued his search for his crush. Little did he realize, a certain someone was looking for him as well.
Twin drops of pine narrowed beneath sandy caramel tresses. Toshiki Kai entered the area Aichi had just been mere seconds earlier. Hands in his pockets, the poised upperclassman skimmed the location with sharp eyes. Before he sought out this place, he and Miwa had overheard a couple of high school girls snickering about a "cute little boy," of whom they initially thought was female, and how he made a spectacle out of himself in the town's fountain. Kai held no words for the shallow females; he had nothing to say to those who refused to grasp respect. Instead of confronting the students, Miwa had tilted his head close to Kai's and whispered out the corner of his mouth that the one they were describing sounded a lot like Aichi. The more stoic of the two had offered little verbal response in agreement. Observing his friend closely, Miwa tossed him a playful smile. He knew exactly what thoughts were running through Kai's mind and they all started with an "Ai" and ended with a "chi". Miwa then waved goodbye to his best friend, knowing that he would go off to locate the unlucky teen. The blonde knew it was meaningless to look over his shoulder, but he did so anyway as he reached the end of the side street. He was just in time to see Kai round a corner in a casual, and nonchalant, manner. Seeing that, a cocky smirk found its way easily to Miwa's lips, "Jeez, that guy…"
With Aichi absent from his sights, Kai breathed a sound of indifference, then resumed his search.
"Eh… huh?" With bright eyes, the one in question paused in his steps and whipped around. Clad in a pink turtleneck and matching skirt with slight frill, Sendou Emi peered up at her brother; astonished inquiry pinched her cherub-like face, "Aichi! You're soaking wet! Did you fall in something?"
Aichi blinked. Where did his sister come from? Had he really ran past her without realizing? "Um… yeah, but it's okay. I'm fine. Don't worry, okay?"
"Aichi….." she frowned, but instead of looking threatening, her visage was nothing short of darling. Even so, Aichi knew whenever she got that look, it was always best to apologize and just move on. Emi may be a few years younger than him, but she was a little woman in her own way.
"Sorry…Emi… I didn't see you. Were you looking for me?"
The petite girl sighed in a way a tired parent would in place of outright scolding their son. Placing her hands on her hips, she stared intently at her brother. Then, she shook her head, "No, but mom was worried about you. I went to a classmate's house to study and her mother took us out for ice cream. When I got back home, mom needed a few things for dinner, so I'm picking up the spices she needs."
"I… see…" The mechanical words dropped easily from his lips. He didn't want to admit it, but Emi was preventing him from finding Kai as soon as he could. It troubled him immensely. He would do anything for Emi, but her timing right now was horrid. And his emotions always did wear themselves candidly on his face. However, Emi's attention had veered from him to elsewhere.
"Hmm?" she paused; blue eyes trailing down to the squared object in Aichi's hands, "A present?" Emi murmured in a small inquisitive voice, more so to herself than to Aichi. Once she took its pink and red colors into consideration, she blinked, "Is that a St. Valentine present, Aichi?"
"Yes," he nodded promptly, "Have you seen Kai? I need to see him about something…"
"Yeah… he passed by me not too long ago, heading that way," the chipper girl informed, pointing a finger in the direction of one of the parks in the area. The one in particular happened to be one that Kai had been known to frequent on occasion to culture his thoughts and gather needed rest.
"The park… could he really…." Aichi trailed off, speaking aimlessly to himself. Upon seeing her brother space out, Emi tilted her head to one side and voiced her curiosity, "Is something wrong with him Did you forget to give him something?"
To that Aichi flushed, then turned his back to his sister, "I'm sorry, Emi! But I have to get going! I'll be home to help after dinner, okay?" He waved to her, fleeing across the street to reach the park.
"W-wait! Aichi!" Emi called, but her brother seemed to not hear her. Left alone, the girl could only watch her awkward sibling dash towards his destination and nearly fall flat on his face in his enthusiasm. She really worried about him sometimes. …A lot of the time… That boy-just what was she going to do with him?
Aichi had searched the entire park and there was no sign of Kai anywhere. In a few hours, the sun would dissolve into night and he would have no choice but to go home. As much as the thought tormented him, he was still determined to find Kai. He had to. Granted, he could just as easily give him the present tomorrow. A passing day was just that; any sentimental or seasonal attachments were of a person's doing. As long as Aichi held the meaning the gift in his heart, he could give it to Kai anytime and it would still hold understanding. And while that was a possibility, Aichi refused. To him, today was the only time this year he could do this.
Truth be told, Kai was a very dear and special individual to Aichi. Because of him, Aichi had shaped himself into a young man of valiant heart. Kai was the only one who allowed him to accept believing in himself when he was often bullied as a child. Kai was the sole person who made him see, feel and comprehend what it meant to be a Vanguard fighter. Because of the suave teen, Aichi had reached levels in height he never could achieve by himself. Kai was his reason for putting up any kind of fight and he loved him for that. He loved his friendship with Kai, as strained and distant it may seem to the oblivious eye. Aichi knew they shared something that could only be felt. He almost didn't care if Kai never returned his feelings; he just wanted to show them, to express them. He wanted to prove that because of Kai, he wasn't afraid of being himself, no matter how clumsy, timid or weak he declared himself to be. He was Sendou Aichi-a vibrant soul who did serve a purpose and wasn't afraid to fight with all of his heart in the belief that the one held high respect for-was watching.
However, as hopeful and determined as he was, his body was thoroughly exhausted. Thinking it best to rest for a moment to regain his strength, Aichi dragged his feet to one of the benches he had seen Kai rest on. But he didn't use it. Instead, he lowered himself to the grass in front of a large tree next to the bench. The moment his back relaxed against the support of the tree, Aichi truly felt how tired he was. Delicately, his eyes closed and his consciousness slipped away into an swift slumber. His glaucous locks feathered about his face as his head drooped forward. His gift for Kai lay atop his lap held lightly betwixt both palms.
From how at ease he seemed, unless one knew the story of his mishaps to find his idol, he appeared at peace and without care. But the one who observed him now knew of Aichi's turmoil. And that individual knew the meek youth had been looking for him. With gentle advances that barely relinquished a sound to the soft flora beneath, Toshiki Kai made his way towards Aichi. Hands remained in his pockets; an unreadable expression marked his face that one's imagination could only fathom. Kai wasn't certain of exactly how long Aichi had been resting here like this. Thankfully, there was no one else around who could possibly hurt him. The park closed at sundown, after all. Sure, Kai had ignored that law, but he preferred to be in one of his favorite spots to contemplate matters. As a bonus, he managed to locate Aichi as well. Perhaps doing that was his primary priority all along… But he certainly wouldn't hint to the latter if asked.
Even through the heavy shadows of the approaching nightfall, Kai took notice of the peculiar object in Aichi's hands. It had to be of obvious importance otherwise it wouldn't be held in both hands as it was. Kai stared silently at the angular package for a few moments more before inching closer to the slumbering boy. He removed his hands from his pockets to summon proper balance while he squatted down to give the item a closer look. His eyes analyzed the crinkled wrapping. It would seem it got a little water damaged from how some of the colorful inks had smeared and faded. He wondered what it could be and who it was for-but only for a second. He felt that these type of matters were usually none of his business. He features softened for a mere second when the remembrance of what the day was drizzled upon him. Then, he frowned. Today was just another day to him for the most part. He had lost count of the many classmates that had shoved chocolate in his face. He obviously didn't pay it much mind.
He hated St. Valentine's Day, but now he was curious to know exactly who would give such a brightly wrapped gift to Aichi. Or maybe, Aichi wanted to bestow it upon someone instead? What did it matter? It wasn't any of his business. Just as he was about to stand, the strokes of a familiar kanji along the present snagged his attention. "To: 櫂くん", it read. Astonished, Kai blinked; his somber expression melted into one of pure shock for a few brief seconds. This present was for him? Why? He already had all the materialistic things he needed, living by himself. What more could there be? And more importantly, exactly what did Aichi believe he should have? His keen eyes contracted even thinner. Now, he had to know. Against his better judgment, his curiosity dictated his actions. With both hands, he reached forward slowly to grasp the package with his fingertips. Gingerly, he began to slide the item past Aichi's hold, careful not to wake him. However, Aichi's body reacted to the gift being tampered with and countered. With a newfound strength, the boy roughly yanked the present back towards himself.
"LET GO!" he shouted aggressively, not lifting his head to see who was assaulting Kai's gift. He certainly was in for a surprise when the upperclassman's body collided with his from the force behind the pull. Kai had literally fallen right into Aichi's lap-facedown. An annoyed grouse lifted from Kai as he lifted himself to all fours. Through his mess of hair, his eyes sharpened as they delved into widened teal. Aichi's mouth dropped open to say something, anything, but his tongue felt too heavy to form any words or syllables. Instead, there he was- a hair's breadth away from giving his idol an Eskimo kiss, hugging Kai's present to his racing heart with the older's legs on either side of his. Not to mention how much darker the sky had gotten…in a park they shouldn't even be in at this hour…
"….!" Aichi inhaled briskly and swallowed. Hard. They were close! Too close! As if aided by magic from how quickly he managed it, Aichi squirmed to his feet, then jumped away from Kai. With at least a good 3 feet between them, he felt much safer; there was a lesser chance of a mishap able to happen. What if they kissed? What would he do? What would Kai do? Unable to harness the musing, Aichi's thoughts got the better of him. In his mind, he could clearly picture Kai gliding his palm over his blushing cheek, before sliding a finger under his chin. A dashing smirk would touch Kai's lips before they tasted his….
"Ahhhhh!" Aichi shrieked, shaking the images from his head. While he enjoyed it, he wasn't ready to do that with Kai just yet! Or so he believed.
Too embarrassed for words, Aichi squeezed his eyes shut and shyly lowered his head. He was almost thankful for the lack of bright sunlight right now. This way, his immense blush would be near impossible to identify. While that may have been true, it didn't stop his hands from quavering, nor his skin from feeling unbearably hot. Feeling he were stuck in bind with only one way out of it, he extended both arms and offered the present to his crush, "ImsorrypleaseforgivemeKaikun! HappyStValentinesDay! !" The poor youth stammered all in one humiliated breath.
Wordlessly, Kai glanced to the boy, to the gift, then made a face, "Aichi," he stated lowly.
"ImsorryImsorryImsorryImsorry! Ididntmeantopullyou! I- Iwaslookingeverywhereforyou! Andcouldntfindyou! Andthenyoushowedupand…and-!"
"Aichi…!" Kai repeated, hardening the name. The younger tensed from the sternness. His unspoken words wilted on his tongue the moment his ears filled with the shifting grass as Kai walked over it. His blush even more widespread now, Aichi held his breath as he felt the item removed from his palms. Hesitantly, he looked up to witness Kai placing a hand atop his shoulder. A squeak left Aichi; anything he was about to say was gone and lost forever from that touch alone. Kai spoke nothing right away; the expression on his face suggested he was either choosing his words or questioning his beliefs. While he accepted Aichi giving him a present, he still was not much of a fan towards this particular "holiday". Still, he appreciated it.
"Thank you, Aichi," Kai revealed. While the sentence was released stoically, its somberness could not mask its sincerity. He may not have been smiling, but the tone of his voice more than made up for it. The warmth of those words caused Aichi's eyes to shrink and the red streak across his face to brighten. Then suddenly, none of that mattered anymore. A jubilant curve embraced Aichi's lips and he nodded enthusiastically, "You're welcome…Kai-kun!"
"…Be my Valentine?" Kai asked entirely in English. In actuality, what he really wanted to ask was "Does this make me your Valentine?", but even a guy as smooth as he was had limits! Aichi didn't mind this and bashfully nodded, "I will… But …open it first…. I want to know…. If you like it…."
"…." Kai gave a sound of understanding and began ripping the wrapping paper off…
"I'm home!" Aichi called, closing the front door behind him.
"Welcome home, Aichi," Emi's energetic voice greeted her brother in the distance. She then rounded one of the house's walls to meet with him at the entryway as he was taking off his shoes. She stood in front of him with her arms behind her back and a sly look on her face. Aichi, however, didn't notice and walked past her, "Did you and mom eat dinner yet?"
"Nope. We ended up waiting for you after all," she answered shaking her head, her soft tresses bouncing about her face as she did.
"Ah… thank you. I'll place the dishes then," he offered. The sound of his socked footsteps reverberated over the wooden floors as he headed for the Dining Room. Casually, Emi followed behind him. While he set the table, Emi sat down and eyed him curiously.
"What was so great about that empty box you bought for Kai as a Valentine present?"
Aichi blanched and let a plate slip from his fingers….
Obviously, his sister had been eavesdropping on him. Just how much had Emi seen? Everything?
What Aichi had seen inside of the gift he chose to be Kai's present was -nothing at all. The box was advertised as a type of trinkets holder or something for one to toss their car keys in. To anyone else, the box would have been considered a terrible present, but to Aichi, that box was the perfect gift for Kai that he could give from his heart. Its dimensions left a good amount of room to hold a Vanguard deck; he figured Kai could use a pretty one. He just knew that it would be put it to good use.
And Kai had done just that. Underneath his deck ,inside of the decorative rectangle, was a card of another sort. Red and white in color, it featured cute images of various characters from the deck archetype of Royal Paladins that Aichi used. On the reverse it read, "Have a Paladin Valentine!" in bold letters. Directly beneath that was a quick scrawl in Kai's elongated handwriting, "To Aichi. My Royal Paladin Valentine."