One Year Ago - Valentine's Day


"There! It's finished!" Tino cried triumphantly, holding up his finished creation.

A homemade Valentine's Day card for his beloved. After crafting it out of the best materials for weeks, it sparkled with prestige.

"I hope he'll like it." Tino checked his watch. "If I go now, I'll catch him during his lunch period." He tucked the card gently into an envelope and set out to find him.


Tino knew his boyfriend liked to eat lunch in the courtyard, so he figured he'd surprise him there. His face brightened upon sight of the tall, brown-haired man.

"Oh! There he is!"

Before he could call out his beloved's name, another young man ran up to him, slinging his arms around the tall man's neck.

"Calm down, Tino. He may be just a friend..."

His hopes were dashed as his lover leaned in and kissed the boy passionately on the lips.

"I made these for you..." said the young man, holding a red velvet bag to the brunet. "I hope you like chocolate chip."

"My favorite. I hope they're sweet like you." Another passionate kiss.

Tino, heartbroken, dropped his hard work on the ground. His tears seeped through his finger and onto the card as he sobbed.

"What's that sound?"

"Sounds like someone's crying. You go on ahead. I'll catch up."

The brunet was surprised to see Tino, knelt to the ground, sobbing loudly.

"Tino! Baby, what's wrong? Who hurt you?"

He was caught off guard when Tino shoved a fist in his chest.

"Don't 'baby' me, you bastard! I saw the whole thing!" Tino cried. "Is that what you want?"

Silence.

"There's nothing I can say that would make this right, but I'm sorry."

"Sorry for what? What the hell's 'sorry' gonna do?" screamed the Finn.

"I'm sorry. I mean, I love you..."

"You don't love me! You were kissing on another boy! If you want that, you can have him 'cause I'm done!"

Tino wiped his tears, picked up his card and left, tossing it in the trash as his ex stared, bewildered, at his back.


Sometimes, when Tino wanted to clear his mind, he would sit on the roof of the school, watching the other students on the ground. He allowed himself to scream as lound as he wanted, cry as loud as he needed.

Suddenly, he heard footsteps, and rushed to wipe his tears just in case it was his ex, once again trying to plead his case.

Instead, it was a tall, stoic blond man with glasses and a messenger bag modeled after the Swedish flag. Maybe he ate up here every day; he seemed surprised that someone was up there.

Tino gathered his wits to leave. "I'm sorry if this is your spot. I'll leave."

"Naw. Ya d'n't haf'ta." mumbled the boy. Amazingly, Tino could understand his thick accent. "Ya can stay h're as l'ng as ya need ta."

"Oh...no...I wouldn't want to impose."

"Ya look like ya been cryin'. Is ev'rythin' 'lright?" asked the blond.

"I...I don't want to talk about it..." Tino said, fearing he may cry again.

"I und'rst'nd. Ya d'n't haf'ta if ya d'n't wanna. Yer..jus' too pr'tty ta be cryin' sa much."

Tino wiped at his face. "Oh...aren't you sweet? I...think I'll stay here with you."

"Th't's cool. I l'ke yer company."

Tino sat next to the nice boy. "So, I'm Tino. Nice to meet you."

" 'm Berwald. N'ce ta meet ya too."

Berwald looked away, then back at Tino. "If ya wanna cry, ya can go 'head. I w'n't judge ya." He stared somberly as Tino's back heaved with sobs. He wasn't sure if he should, but he sat with Tino, rubbing his back.

"Today...is the worst day ever." Tino sobbed.

"Ya d'n't haf'ta talk 'bout it. It's Valentine's Day, 'nd ev'ry'ne's sapposed ta be h'ppy, b't sa far, I d'ne seen f've g'rls cryin'. Now yer cryin' too." Berwald muttered.

"I'm sure none of their boyfriends cheated on them." Tino grumbled.

"Is th't wh't happened ta ya?"

Tino nodded and Berwald sighed.

"Yer b'yfriend-"

"Ex-boyfriend."

"-ex-b'yfriend...Yer ex-b'yfriend s'unds l'ke a dick." Berwald said bluntly.

"He is a dick. The dickiest of all the dicks on Earth."

"He's an id'ot if he's gonna che't on some'ne as pr'tty as ya are."

Tino shrugged. "He's not nice like you are. You're a really nice guy. I bet you have a girlfriend that loves you very much."

"Naw. G'rls d'n't l'ke me. Th'y're 'fraid a me." Berwald said.

"Well, do you have a Valentine?"

Berwald shook his head. "Ev'ryo'ne's 'fraid a me."

"I'm not afraid of you, Berwald." Tino said.

"Yer d'ffer'nt. Ev'ry'ne thinks I'm sc'ry. B'sides, I d'n't l'ke g'rls."

"It's okay. I don't like them either." Tino said, feigning a smile.

"Ya d'n't h've any more classes?" asked the taller of the two.

"Well, I was going to skip my other two classes to sort everything out."

"I c'uld give ya my number so ya can call me if ya need anythin'."

Tino played with his hands. "Well, I was going to ask if you would...stay and talk with me. I don't want to be alone right now."

A faint smile upturned one corner of Berwald's mouth. "S're. I'll stay wit' ya."


"I'm giving up on ever finding love. I don't need it if I'm just gonna keep getting hurt like this." Tino said, leaning against Berwald's side. The blond put an arm around his shoulders.

"Naw. Ya shouldn't g've up. Wh't if the man a yer dreams is h're r'ght now? Ya'll n'ver kn'w 'cause ya gave up b'fore tryin'." Berwald said.

"Yeah, but how do I know he won't hurt me too?"

"Ev'ry'ne's not like yer ex. He's a twat. I mean, a n'ce guy."

Tino shrugged. In his right mind, he would have said that Berwald was right, but he just couldn't see it any other way.

"Wh't I'm tryin' ta say is, t'ke a break, but d'n't g've up. Learn ta l've yaself f'rst. D'n't g've any'ne yer heart unl'ss he d'serves it."

Tino shook his head. "I don't know, Berwald."

"I d'n't know either. I d'n't kn'w how ya feel, T'no, 'nd I c'n't tell ya how ta feel. Jus' t'ke some time out fer yerself. Ya d'n't need ta rush inta nothin'." Berwald mumbled.

Tino smiled a small, genuine smile. "Thank you, Berwald..."


Present Day - February 12th


Since that day on the roof, Tino and Berwald became the best of friends. Most people couldn't understand why sweet, outgoing Tino was best friends with Berwald, a boy who was his polar opposite in nearly every way. They made it work.

They spent time with each other's families. They went on vacations together. They did so many things together that people started mistaking them for a couple, a claim that Tino was quick to shoot down, to Berwald's chagrin.

He really liked Tino. Really, reallyliked Tino. In fact, he was in love with Tino, but since the Finn told him that he was giving up on love, he wasn't giving him the chance to be anything other than friends.

Currently, it was two days before Valentine's Day. The day that brought Tino and Berwald together. He wanted to do something special for him, something so special, he'd recognize his feelings for him. He had to ask him out first.

Being twenty-one-years-old now, Berwald hoped he could just ask his beloved out. However, he proved to be just as blushy and nervous as a sixteen-year-old.

"Ah...er...T'no?"

"Hm? What's up, Berwald? You're bright red." Tino said worriedly. "Are you sick?"

"Naw, 'm not s'ck...I-I w'nted ta ask ya somethin'."

"What is it?"

Berwald swallowed noisily. "I...w'nted ta ask ya out fer...Valentine's Day...'cause...'cause..."

"As...friends, right?" Tino asked.

"N-naw...I w'nted ta ask ya out 'cause I like ya 'nd all."

"But, Berwald, you know that I-"

"I kn'w ya said ya didn't wanna f'll in l've, but..."

"Berwald?"

"Yeah?"

"Are you...in love with me?" asked the Finn.

The Swede swallowed again, then nodded slowly.

"I und'rst'nd if ya d'n't feel the same way, but I jus' w'nted ta let ya kn'w 'nd hoped ya'd g've me a chance..." Berwald stammered.

"I like you too, Berwald, but I just don't want to get hurt again."

"I w'uldn't hurt ya, T'no. Ya kn'w I w'uldn't do that ta ya. I jus' w'nt a chance ta prove it ta ya. I w'nt ta make ya believe in l've again."

Tino mulled around the thought in his head. He'd be lying to himself if he said he didn't have any feelings for Berwald. He'd become his most cherished friend and maybe he felt more than just friendship for him. One date wouldn't hurt. Besides, maybe he could make Tino fall in love again.

"Well...I guess we could..." said Tino.

"I pr'mise ya, T'no. I'd n'ver hurt ya."


Valentine's Day


Tino had no idea what Berwald had planned for them. He felt ridiculously awkward sitting on a bench in the park as happy couples passed him. He and Berwald agreed to meet there, so he must have known what he was doing.

Soon, Tino spotted the well-dressed Swede striding past a couple on the trail.

"Th're ya are. I was lookin' fer ya." Berwald said, giving Tino a tight hug.

"Yeah. I wanted to sit down, so this was the nearest bench I could find." Tino replied.

They pulled away, Tino surveying Berwald's outfit.

An open, red button-down shirt with a black t-shirt underneath, paired with darkwash jeans and black shoes.

"I don't think I've told you how good you look in the color red, Berwald..." Tino said, smiling.

"Naw. Ya didn't. Thank ya."

"Your cologne smells amazing too."

"Yer flatterin' me." Berwald replied, blushing faintly.

"He's so cute..." Tino thought.

"Well, ya always look sa good, T'no, sa I w'nted ta look good fer ya too."

"Oh, you're too sweet."

Berwald pulled a large bouquet of red roses from behind his back, presenting them to his beloved. "Er...I w'sn't sure if ya l'ked r'd roses er not, but..."

Tino took the bouquet with a smile. "Oh, no, Berwald! These are so beautiful! Thank you!" He inhaled their sweet scent. "Oh, how heavenly...so what are we doing today?"

Berwald hung his head. "I was 'fraid ya'd ask me th't..."

"Why? What's wrong?" asked Tino.

"I w'nted ta do somethin' special fer ya, but...yer jus' sa special 'nd p'rfect, I c'uldn't think a nothin' ta do, sa I thought th't jus' bein' with ya was special." Berwald said pathetically.

"Oh...that's so sweet of you, Berwald. We could just go to a movie."

"Not special 'nough."

"Lunch?"

Berwald shook his head. "All th't's too borin'. I w'nted somethin' 'mazin' and special fer ya, T'no."

"It doesn't matter what we do, Berwald, long as we're together." Tino said.

"Wh't do ya wanna do th'n?"

"Could we go for lunch? I'm kinda hungry..."

"A co'rse. My treat."


Tino giggled lightly as Berwald escorted him to a secluded table in a crowded restaurant.

"This is a nice restaurant!" Tino said. "And since it's Valentine's Day, everyone's minding their own business!"

"Yeah." the Swede muttered, making Tino laugh.

His friend was never much of a conversationalist.

They browsed through the menu quietly until a waitress came over.

"You ready to order, boys?" she asked.

"Hm." Berwald placed his menu on the table, but didn't say anything more.

"Er, Berwald...what do you want?" Tino asked.

Berwald bit his lip. "Ya tell 'er." he whispered.

"Ah...please...a few more minutes?" Tino asked the waitress.

"Certainly. I'll come back when you're ready." she said, turning on her heel.

"What's the matter, Berwald?"

"...'m sc'red." he said.

"Scared? Scared of what?"

Then it hit him.

Berwald still didn't like talking to strangers because of his accent.

"Oh, Berwald. You don't have to worry about anything. She's not judging you." Tino cooed.

"Wh't if she c'n't und'rstand me?"

"It's not the worst thing if she asks you to repeat yourself. I know it's embarrassing, Berwald..."

"I'll try..." Berwald said.

"Ready now?"

"Y-yeah..." muttered the Swede. "C'n I h've the shr'mp alfredo?"

"Shrimp alfredo? Your drink?" asked the waitress.

"Root beer?"

"And you?" she asked Tino.

"The fried fish platter with a Sprite."

"Certainly! Coming right up!"

Tino smiled as the waitress skipped off to place the order. "See, Berwald? She understood you!" He gasped when Berwald laid a hand over his.

"Thank ya." Berwald said.

"Don't thank me!"

"Ya br'ng out the b'st in me..."

"Aww...oh, Berwald..."


After lunch, they walked, hand-in-hand, inside a mall.

"Lunch was amazing!"

"'m glad ya l'ked it." Berwald said.

"Could we go there more often?" Tino asked.

"As m'ch as ya w'nt."

"You know, Berwald...I could go for a snack..."

"I kn'w a place."


"A gourmet chocolate shop?" Tino cried.

"Yeah. Th'y're lettin' couples make choc'lat' taday." replied the Swede.

"Ooh! I like chocolate!"

"Hi, guys. Here for our couples' chocolate course?"

"Yeah." said Berwald.

"Well, suit up, and I'll see you back there!"


For taking part in the chocolate making, they recieved a complimentary box of chocolate. They sat on a bench in the mall, indulging in the treats.

"Oh! These one's have caramel in it, Berwald! Want a taste?"

"Yeah."

Tino picked up the treat in question, placing it against Berwald's lips. He pushed it over the Swede's tongue and licked the excess chocolate off his fingers.

"It's good." Berwald said. He picked up a chocolate, reading the card. "This 'ne's str'wberry."

"I like strawberry..."

"W'nt me ta feed it ta ya?" asked the Swede.

"If you would, please..." Tino cooed.

The Finn opened his lips slightly and Berwald suddenly got an urge to kiss him. He reigned it in, instead choosing to pick the candy up between long, slender fingers. Just as he placed it against Tino's lips, a flash of light confused them both.

There stood a young man with a camera. "You two...you two are the sweetest expression of love I've seen all day!" he cried.

Tino ate the chocolate from Berwald's fingers, choosing to remain silent.

"Uh...who're ya?" Berwald asked, sucking the chocolate off of his thumb.

"Oh, I'm sorry, big fella! I'm Anton and I work for the mall's newsletter! I'm going around taking pictures of the best expressions of love on this day for our February 14th newsletter!"

"That sounds like fun." Tino finally said. "But, he and I aren't-"

"It doesn't matter!" Anton cried. "Could I get your names? We'd also like to feature you on our mall's broadcast."

"On T.V?" Tino asked.

"Just the mall's private broadcasting."

"What do you say, Berwald? It could be fun." said the Finn.

"Ya s're ya wanna?" Berwald asked. "It looks l'ke it's only fer couples."

"Well..."

"It's just a quick interview. Right here! No need to go anywhere! And all couples who participate get an all expenses paid, romantic Valentine's Day dinner to a restaurant of their choice right here in our very mall!" Anton said.

"I...gu'ss sa. T'no 'nd I didn't h've any plans fer tanight anyways..."

"What do you need to know?" Tino asked.

"What you love about your signficant other!" said the photographer.

"S'unds easy." Berwald said.

"It's in front of a big camera, Berwald. Are you going to be okay with speaking?" Tino asked.

"Long as 'm with ya, 'm f'ne."

A man with an even bigger camera stood to the side, recording the interview.

"What's up, shoppers! It's the big A-G! Anton Gardener here for Gimme Some Sugar! Here we have another couple celebrating Valentine's Day in their own special way! I'm here with...?" Anton asked.

"Berwald."

"And?"

"Tino."

"Berwald and Tino! How long you guys been dating?"

"Oh, we aren't. We're just...hanging out...I guess." Tino said. He looked to the Swede for comfirmation, but Berwald only shrugged.

"You two just look so cute together! Do you at least like one another?"

"Yeah." Berwald said. "A co'rse."

"Very much so."

"What do you like about one another?" Anton asked. He thrust a microphone to Berwald.

"Er...T'no makes me happy. He's sa special 'nd pr'tty 'nd I l've 'im." Berwald said, blushing faintly.

"That's so cute!" Tino thought, resisting the urge to kiss the Swede's reddened cheek.

"And you, Tino?" Anton asked, holding the micrphone out to Tino. "What do you like about Berwald?"

"He's a sweetie pie and he's just so selfless. Berwald means so much to me and he's more than just my best friend." replied the Finn. He smiled as Berwald's blush deepened.

"See, shoppers? Even platonic love can be the purest, sweetest love! Enjoy your Sweetheart's Day, and most importantly, enjoy your Sweetheart. I'm Anton Gardener with Gimme Some Sugar!, signing off! Happy Valentine's Day, ya'll!"

"And...cut!"

"That was perfect!" Anton cried. He handed Berwald a voucher. "Free Valentine's Day dinner for two to any restaraunt in the mall!"

"Thank ya."

"The interview should be shown in the main lobby in about fifteen minutes! If you go past the Shoe Outlet and use that elevator, it'll take you right to the lobby!"

They bid Anton goodbye, making their way to the lobby to watch their interview.

"Well, it seems like plans are just falling into our laps this evening, huh?" Tino said.

Berwald's lips twitched.

A smile.


As the man had said, the interview - along with their picture - was shown promptly in the lobby.

"I think you have a great on-camera presence, Berwald." Tino said, pinching playfully at Berwald's cheek. "You're so cute when you blush!"

"Ya w're cute too. Ya always are."

"Oh, stop."

"H've...I made ya believe y't?" Berwald asked. Tino pat his hand reassuringly.

"Let's wait until a little later to talk about that." he said. "For now, let's have some more fun."


He dragged Berwald into an arcade, where he stared, open mouthed, at a dancing game.

"Oh, Berwald! Let's play that!"

"Ya wanna pl'y a dancin' g'me? I c'n't dance..." Berwald muttered.

"It's not really dancing! You just step on the arrows as they pass on the screen." Tino explained.

Berwald shrugged. "I gu'ss I c'uld try it."


"'m st'rtin' ta get the hang a this." Berwald said, smiling faintly.

"See! Isn't it fun?"

Admittedly, it was fun. However, it was starting to get late. They wanted to make it for dinner.

"Where are we going for dinner, Berwald?" Tino looked behind him, but the tall blond was not there. "Berwald?"

He found the Swede, staring into a claw machine game.

"Wanna win ya somethin' n'ce." Berwald muttered, putting his quarter in the machine.

"You don't have to." Tino said.

"I wanna."

He succeeded in grabbing a white stuffed bear with a heart printed ribbon around its neck.

"Wow, Berwald. That would have taken me at least six tries."

"I pl'yed these a lot as a kid." He handed the bear to Tino. "Fer ya, T'no."

"Oh...thank you! He's a cutie! Just like you."

Berwald blushed and cleared his throat. "We c'n go now."


"Where are we going?"

"Wh'rever ya wanna go." Berwald replied. He watched Tino stare at the bear.

"Berwald?"

"Hm?"

"What should we name him?" Tino asked goofily.

"N'me 'im?" Berwald asked.

"Yeah. He needs a name."

"Wh't do ya wanna n'me 'im? Somethin' ta do with l've?"

"Yeah...Captain Cuddles?" Tino asked.

"Th't's r'diculous." Berwald said.

"Hm. You're right...How about Senor Snuggles IV?"

"Is th're a Senor Snuggles the f'rst through the th'rd?" asked the Swede.

"No."

"Th'n it's silly."

"I don't hear you spouting out any ideas." Tino replied, nudging the taller.

Berwald scratched his chin. "I'll think a 'ne."


As they ate in a fancy Italian restaurant of Tino's choosing, Berwald snapped his fingers.

"What?" Tino asked.

"I thought up a n'me fer the bear." Berwald said, sipping at his beverage.

"Well?"

"Why d'n't ya n'me 'im Cupid?"

Tino picked his bear up, studying it closely. "Yeah! Let's name him Cupid! You're so smart, Berwald!"


-The two made it back to the park they met in earlier that day, sitting on a bench.

"A Valentine's Day fireworks show?" Tino asked.

"Wanna w'tch it?"

"Yeah. We can rest a minute."

After a long period of silence, Tino turned to his friend.

"I had a really great time, Berwald. I really enjoyed myself."

"m glad ya did." Berwald said.

It was now or never. Either Tino was going to reject him here or accept his feelings.

"You know...I never had so much fun. I've never had someone shower so much love and attention on me." Tino said.

"W'll, I told ya I w'uld."

"Think we could do it again?" asked the Finn.

"A co'rse."

Silence.

"I can't ignore it anymore."

"Wh't?"

"I...love you too, Berwald."

"Ya do?" Berwald asked.

Tino nodded. "Your love is just so pure and sincere, and I just bask in it. You say I make you feel happy? You make me happy too, Berwald. So very happy."

"I...did it. I made ya believe again?"

"Yeah. I'm happy you did too."

Their hands found each others, fingers intertwining.

"It's just like you said a year ago, Berwald. The perfect man was sitting right in front of me. The perfect man sat and held me as I cried that day and I didn't give him a chance because I was scared. My heart's open again and I'm ready to give him a chance."

"I l've ya more th'n anythin', T'no. Yer my w'rld 'nd I kn'w it fr'm the moment I saw ya. I d'n't ev'r wanna see ya cry again. I wanna make ya smile all the t'me." Berwald said.

Tino pressed his forehead to Berwald's. "You silly boy...you already make me smile. All the time."

The fireworks burst in rapid succession; reds and whites and pinks lighting up the dark night sky. The light dancing off Tino's shining amethyst eyes, Berwald closed the distance, pressing his lips chastely to the Finn's.

Their heartbeats in sync, they shared true love's blessed kiss under a lit sky in their own little world for two.


A/N: I'M BACK! I rather like this! I'm a sucker for the sap! As much as I dislike Valentine's Day (I've had some bad experiences in my youth with this day), I couldn't resist writing this. I promised my friend that I would post it here and on Facebook for my friends to read.

You all are my joy. No matter how bad of a time I'm having or how much of a slump I'm in, you guys are always there. Your reviews keep me going and keep me believing that I can do this thing. This story is my Valentine's Day present from me to you.

From the bottom of my heart, I love each and every last single person that reviews and favorites me and my stories.

(Not So) LonelyHearts2008