A/N: Here is part two of the story! I hope you enjoy it!
When Houtarou woke up in the morning, it was ten am. He flipped onto his side, moving his gaze away from his clock. It was Saturday, and all he wanted to do was sleep in and—
He frowned. He felt like he had something to do today. It didn't feel like it was that important, but the feeling still nagged at him nonetheless. He slowly closed his eyes, thinking and searching through his memory. He caught it effortlessly when he remembered Chitanda.
"Oh, um, Oreki-san! Please don't forget about the club picnic tomorrow. I really hope you can go."
Ah. There it was. The picnic was today, exactly an hour from now. He heaved out a long groan before sitting up. He considered feigning an illness, but then also remembered that Sosuke would be there. He glared at nothing in particular. The idea of Chitanda and Sosuke talking and laughing together stung him again.
With a considerable exertion of energy (in his opinion), Houtarou stood up from his bed and headed to the bathroom. He would be going to the picnic.
It was hot. It was autumn, but it was hot. Just yesterday, the weather had been breezy and the sunlight had been hazy. But today, the sun was glaring at him, as if challenging him to see if he would turn back around or not. Houtarou was still imaging Chitanda and the upperclassman talking together, and that was enough to keep him walking.
He had dressed in the most casual way possible: a white tee-shirt and a pair of slightly worn out jeans. It was as casual as casual could get. He had decided on this outfit rather quickly. He felt that if he dressed too nicely, Satoshi, or even Chitanda might become curious. Satoshi would definitely tease him.
The said boy's eye twitched. Since when had they been on a first name basis? Despite his annoyed attitude, he turned around, looking calm. It was Sosuke, of course. He was dressed in a black and white striped shirt, jeans, and a light grey cardigan. It made him look proper, and good-mannered.
The thing that made Houtarou raise an eyebrow was the backpack Sosuke had on. It didn't look like he had simply brought along a picnic blanket. Something inside of the backpack was square shaped. "Did you bring something?" He found himself saying, pointing at the backpack.
"Oh, this? It's just some food I made. I woke up too early, so I thought I might as well make something for the picnic," Sosuke admitted, rather bashfully. He was the exact opposite of Houtarou.
"Well, let's get going, Houtarou-san. The park's not too far from here, right?" He questioned, jogging over to Houtarou's side. "Mmhm," he replied back, biting back an irritated sigh. He wanted the rest of the walk to be quiet, but obviously, Sosuke was thinking the opposite.
"So, you and Chitanda-san are close, huh?" Sosuke questioned. Houtarou noticed that he was still calling her by her last name. He was probably too shy to start calling her "Eru." Obviously though, the upperclassman was completely comfortable around him.
"I guess. We're friends," Houtarou clarified, not sure what Sosuke was trying to get at. The black-haired teen was nodding slowly. His face finally broke out into a smile.
"She's adorable, isn't she?" He asked. Houtarou nearly choked, but didn't say anything back. What could he say?
"Chitanda-san…mentioned you a lot. She seems to really admire you. It makes me a bit jealous," Sosuke continued. Houtarou sucked in a quick breath. Once again, the upperclassman's sudden remarks were catching him off guard. He couldn't say that he wasn't happy though. He could imagine Chitanda eagerly telling Sosuke a mystery he had solved for her. Her eyes would be large and twinkling, and maybe even a blush would be dusting her cheeks—
Houtarou bit down on his tongue. He feared that if he thought about her too much, Sosuke would somehow sense it. He glanced over at the upperclassman, who looked like he still had something to say. Or maybe Houtarou was simply imagining it. That's what he hoped anyway.
"I have something to say," Sosuke finally admitted.
Well, damn it all, Houtarou thought as he narrowed his eyes.
"I…don't know if I should tell you or not. But you seem trustworthy, Houtarou-san. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I just know that I can trust you," the black-haired teen explained. Houtarou silently squeezed his eyes shut. This was definitely the last thing he wanted. He knew what was going to happen next, and what Sosuke was going to tell him.
"I plan on confessing to Chitanda-san, actually. This is a bit embarrassing…" Sosuke began, awkwardly coughing into his hand. Houtarou made no indication of speaking.
"I sort of scoped out the park yesterday after school. I found a nice place to confess to her. It's a place surrounded by some flower beds. I really think it suits her. And well…I was wondering if you could help me in any way. You know, drop some hints, or something like that," he told him, looking hopeful.
The brown-haired teen remained quiet. "I'm sorry, but I can't promise you that," was what he honestly wanted to say, and it nearly rolled out of his mouth. This was too much for him. He was the type of guy who liked to take things easy, not do guys favors, especially ones that involved Chitanda. There was nothing else he could though. He had no other choice but to agree. It was that, or he would reveal his own feelings for the girl to the meek upperclassman. Both choices would pose as problems for him.
At that moment however, right when he was about to reply, his savior stepped in, tapping both him and Sosuke on the shoulder.
"Oreki-san. Sakurai-san. Hello!" Chitanda greeted brightly. Houtarou let out a deep sigh of thankful relief while Sosuke whipped around, blushing furiously. Judging by the oblivious smile on her face, it looked like she hadn't heard any of their conversation.
Speaking of which, the girl was dressed in a pink dress. After seeing her wear the color many times, Houtarou decided that that color looked best on her, and he never tired of seeing her wear it. The dress was innocently short somehow, most likely because small, frilly lace was lining the bottom of it. Houtarou also noticed that a small portion of her hair was tied up on the back side of her head. It made her look even cuter, though he would never admit it, not even in his own thoughts.
Finally, he spotted the picnic basket she was swinging back and forth. It looked quite heavy.
The moment he had thought that, Sosuke spoke up, after probably thinking the same thing.
"Chitanda-san, I'll carry that for you. It looks heavy," he offered, already beginning to reach for it. Houtarou unconsciously glowered at him.
"Oh, thank you very much!" Chitanda replied, bowing slightly as the upperclassman took the picnic basket from her hands.
Houtarou was thankful once again when he noticed how close they were to the park. He could even see Satoshi and Mayaka sitting in the grass on top of a picnic blanket, talking and waiting. "I'm going on ahead," he said quickly, glancing over at Sosuke, who seemed to appreciate his actions. He had only said that to avoid feeling left out again though.
Without looking over at Chitanda or waiting for her reply, he stuffed his hands into his pockets and walked straight to Satoshi and Mayaka. He didn't even need to turn around to see how Chitanda and Sosuke were doing. He could already visibly imagine them taking their time; walking at a leisurely pace while discussing another book. His hands unknowingly fisted up in his pockets.
"Yo," Houtarou said tiredly as he plopped down on the picnic blanket across from Satoshi and Mayaka. The small girl looked up, looking flustered. Slightly confused, he looked over at Satoshi, who began humming. Obviously, they had been in another argument. But this time, it looked like Satoshi had said something to embarrass Mayaka, who was still blushing nervously. He dismissed those facts, and decided to act normally.
"You brought something?" Houtarou questioned, spotting the cooler behind the pair. Mayaka nodded, and the blush slowly passed away from her face.
"I brought some pudding, to eat afterwards," she informed him. He nodded back quietly, letting his shoulders slack. He would eat a delicious meal with his friends, stay out of their conversations as much as he could, and then go home. That's what he had planned initially.
"Chi-chan!" Mayaka exclaimed, beaming gratefully at the girl as she seated herself. She sat down next to Houtarou, and Sosuke sat down on the other side of her. Houtarou nearly tensed up when her arm brushed against his.
"Okay, let's start the Classics Club picnic!" Chitanda said happily, pressing her hands together. She beamed at all of them before moving to unpack all of the food crammed in the picnic basket.
It was a typical array of Japanese picnic foods: onigiri, grilled marinated meat, pork buns, tako wieners, steamed vegetables and sandwiches. Something about the food looked extremely appealing though, and the group dove to get some of the food.
"This is delicious, as usual," Satoshi complimented as he devoured his portion of meat. Chitanda smiled back, cheerfully thanking him. Mayaka ate with a dazed look in her eyes, probably because the food tasted exactly like delicious home cooking. Sosuke seemed impressed as he bit into a pork bun. Houtarou ate quietly as usual, but he found that his chopsticks were constantly moving to get more food.
"Oh! That reminds me. I also brought something to share," Sosuke spoke up as he removed his backpack and zipped it open. He took out a large plastic container and set it down gently on the picnic blanket.
"I baked a cake," he said modestly as he removed the top of the container, revealing a medium sized vanilla cake topped with light, whipped cream and strawberries. Satoshi, Mayaka and Chitanda all showed faces of approval and excitement as they leaned their bodies in towards the dessert. Houtarou stayed firmly in place, although the cake did look quite good in his opinion.
"You like to bake, Sakurai-san?" Chitanda asked, turning towards the said teen. He began scratching the back of his head, looking extremely embarrassed. Houtarou rolled his eyes. He nearly choked however when he glanced over at Satoshi, who had obviously noticed his irritated attitude. A grin spread across the boy's face, but he said nothing.
"Please let me cut the cake, Chitanda-san," Sosuke volunteered, gingerly taking the large knife from the girl's hands. He cut it into five even pieces and began placing them on paper plates, which he had also prepared in his backpack.
"This is good…" Mayaka commented after taking a few generous bites of her slice. Houtarou had to admit, the cake did taste good. Its sweetness was subtle, and the whipped cream was extremely refreshing. He had expected the strawberries to be sour, but was slightly surprised when he found that they were sweet and perfectly ripe.
"Houtarou, aren't you holding your fork a little too tightly?" Satoshi pointed out. He froze.
"I'm not," he snapped back, relaxing his hold on the silverware. The other three glanced at him curiously.
"Is the cake not good, Houtarou-san?" Sosuke asked, looking at him through large, jet black orbs. It disturbed him. "It's good," he muttered back, putting more cake into his mouth for emphasis. When no one else was watching, Houtarou glared over at Satoshi, who was smiling happily to himself.
After eating the cake and the pudding that Mayaka had brought, the group leaned back and relaxed, relishing in the now gentle sunlight and the soft warmth it provided on their skin. Houtarou found this very appealing, until Sosuke began talking again.
"Chitanda-san, can I speak with you um…privately for a moment? There's something I need to say," he told her, avoiding eye contact. Chitanda blinked in confusion, but replied back casually nonetheless. Houtarou tensed up. Sosuke was going to bring her to the flowerbeds and then confess to her. The sun was out, the birds were chirping and the flowers were plentiful and in bloom. The timing could not be any more perfect.
"Ah, yes, of course," Chitanda said, standing up and following him. Houtarou didn't turn his head to watch their retreating figures. He simply didn't want to. When they came back, they would probably be holding hands and laughing over some lame joke. As much as that thought bothered him, he couldn't find it in himself to stand up and follow them.
He could feel his hands balling up into tight fists. He liked her. He liked her too much. Yet, here he was, simply sitting and lazing around while another man who was much more compatible for her was confessing to her. He couldn't even imagine himself confessing to the girl. His role now was stay put and let things carry on in Sosuke's favor.
"Are you really going to let them go?"
Houtarou's eyes snapped open. He whipped his head towards Satoshi, who was giving him an unusually serious stare. Mayaka gazed at the two boys, just as confused as Chitanda had been. By now, Chitanda and the upperclassman were no longer in sight.
"Does it really matter?" Houtarou found himself talking back. Satoshi frowned. He was no longer in the mood for teasing. Unlike Houtarou, he hadn't expected that Sosuke would confess to Chitanda so soon. Satoshi could clearly see how bothered his friend was by it and he didn't plan on letting him miss this crucial opportunity.
"Sakurai-sempai and Chitanda-san. If things go according to Sakurai-sempai's plan"—
"I know. I know what might happen," Houtarou cut in, feeling even more annoyed.
"Houtarou, I know you're not an idiot. I know that you're lazy, but I also know that you're not stupid," Satoshi lectured him, ignoring Houtarou's complaints and interruptions. The brown-haired teen cringed. Satoshi knew more about him than he thought.
He took in a deep breath. Satoshi resumed his expression of seriousness while Mayaka watched on silently, still visibly confused.
His friend was right. Houtarou knew that he was constantly lazy, tired and nearly good-for-nothing. But he wasn't stupid. When something needed to be done, he would complete it as soon as possible.
"Thanks, Satoshi," Houtarou finally said, standing up. He stuffed his hands into his pockets, looked on ahead, and walked. He would keep on walking. He wouldn't stop until he was directly in front of Chitanda. Even if he turned out to be too late, he still needed her to know.
"No problem," Satoshi said, grinning and giving his friend a thumbs up for good luck. After Houtarou had walked quite some paces away, Mayaka finally spoke up.
"I don't understand. What was that all about?" She demanded, turning towards the human database for answers. He crossed his arms.
"I'm pretty surprised you didn't notice. Isn't it obvious?" Satoshi asked, giving her a small wink. She rose an eyebrow, but still didn't understand. "Sakurai-sempai is confessing to Chi-chan…? And Oreki…" Her frown deepened. Then, as the pieces fell into place, she gasped and placed a hand over her mouth in surprise.
"O-Oreki likes Chi-chan?" She cried out. It all made sense now. She felt stupid for not realizing it earlier, but all that mattered was that it all made sense.
"Bingo. From here on, we'll just be his mental support!" Satoshi announced. Mayaka smiled, nodding in agreement. She had to admit, she did feel a little bad for the upperclassman, but she was still completely in favor of Houtarou. She pressed her hands together, praying for his luck.
After hearing Mayaka's loud realization some feet behind him, a blush had spread across his cheeks and his shoulders had uncomfortably squared up. He silently hoped that Chitanda and Sosuke had not heard her.
In his mind, he was still formulating a plan. He still didn't know what to do. He would be lying if he said that he didn't care about the upperclassman's feelings. His original plan was to grab Chitanda and drag her off somewhere else, but after Sosuke's obvious efforts to impress her, he couldn't find it in himself to go along with that. He hated the upperclassman, but he didn't plan on scarring his love life.
Houtarou had decided that he would interrupt them. Politely or not, he would interrupt them, then proceed to apologize to the upperclassman. He wasn't sure on what to do after that, but he found that he didn't care anymore.
He spotted them quickly, ambling along the small path that was surrounded by flowers. He slowed his pace and watched them from behind. He gulped. He was feeling nervous. That wasn't something he had been anticipating.
He bent down and walked along the sides of the bushes before he was next to the pair, and able to hear their conversation.
"I know this might be sudden Chitanda-san, but there's something I really need to say to you," Sosuke said. His face was flushed and Houtarou could spot beads of sweat appearing on his brow.
"Yes? Is something wrong?" Chitanda asked, completely oblivious. Sosuke let out a short, nervous chuckle. "No, it's nothing like that…" He said.
"It's just…hm…I've always admired you. You're a great person. You're smart, and pretty, and…" He trailed off to take in a deep breath. She was still watching him with large, purple eyes. And Houtarou was still spying on them, from behind a few bushes.
"You don't have to answer me right away. I'll understand. But I still want to tell you that I"—
At that moment, Houtarou stood up, clearly revealing his hiding position in the greenery. Both Sosuke and Chitanda jumped in surprise. Houtarou was stubbornly looking away from them. He had meant to say something to interrupt, but found that his body had reacted before his mind could come up with anything.
"Oreki-san…? Did something happen?" Chitanda questioned, eyes glittering with curiosity. He shook his head, and found that his mouth had become dry.
"Houtarou-san…um…" Sosuke started awkwardly. Finally, Houtarou bowed his head down.
"I'm sorry, sempai, but…I can't let you," he told him, lifting up his eyes to look at him. He kept his gaze steady, letting emerald clash with onyx. Just as he had expected, Sosuke was the first to cave. The upperclassman snapped his eyes away from his.
Silently, Houtarou stepped out from the bushes, used a good chunk of his will power to grab onto Chitanda's hand, and walked away. He didn't dare turn back to look at the upperclassman. He would probably feel guilty if he did.
"O-Oreki-san? Can I um…" He suddenly released her hand and hastily put his own hand back into his pocket. He gulped before turning around to face her. She was blushing, which in turn, made him blush.
"I'm confused and…curious. What was Sakurai-sempai going to say to me? Why were you there? Why did we leave Sakurai-sempai?" She interrogated him without missing a beat. She was steadily stepping closer to him, until her face was directly in front of his.
"I can't stop thinking about it. I'm curious!" She told him eagerly. Her tiny hands were now balled up into fists, and she held them against her chest, looking serious. He stepped back a little before clearing his throat. She was always being way too overwhelming.
"Well…sempai was planning to confess to you. And…" Houtarou scratched the back of his head, unsure on how to answer her other questions. She already seemed stunned enough with his first answer. He finally sighed.
"You can figure out the rest on your own," he stated before walking back towards Satoshi and Mayaka. She was speechless, and he knew without looking that she was still rooted to her spot. Finally, he heard her light, quick footsteps approach him, and then he felt an arm wrap around his.
"But Oreki-san, that won't do! I can't possibly figure out this mystery on my own," Chitanda explained to him, frowning visibly. He nearly scoffed. It's not even that much of a mystery, he spoke in his mind.
He became aware of the way his face was steadily becoming warmer as he realized that her grip on his arm was becoming tighter. He also became aware of the fact that Satoshi and Mayaka were quickly coming into view. Satoshi had a huge, goofy grin on his face while Mayaka gaped at them in disbelief. His life was becoming way too hectic, he noted dryly.
"Oreki-san, please tell me! I'm curious!" Chitanda was still chanting, looking like she would burst at any second. He glanced over and was instantly met with a pair of enormous, twinkling violet eyes. Well, he thought, I might as well give her a hint.
Houtarou moved his arm (the one that she was still gripping onto) at last, adjusting his hand so it could intertwine with hers. He refused to look at Chitanda, Satoshi, and Mayaka, deciding that he should at least spare himself some torture. When the girl had overcome her shock, and finally gave his hand a gentle squeeze, he was positive that she had figured it out.
A/N: I was hoping that I could add in some hormone-driven Houtarou, but I just never found the right opportunity to slip it in. I highly doubt that I'll write another fic for this series, but I still had fun with this either way!
Thank you for reading!