Hana's Heads-Up: It's been over a month since I updated anything. Gah. Terribly sorry, you guys. With soccer season coming up, I'm getting busier with training and stuff. I'll try to be more consistent. ^^"
So, here's my very, very belated Valentine's fanfic! I'd planned to finish by the 14th, but just couldn't. The plot turned out to be more complicated than I intended. :P I had trouble writing this one.
Before you read, there are terms you should know. In Japan there are two types of Valentine's chocolate:
*Honmei-"Favorite Chocolate", which hints romance
*Giri-"Obligatory Chocolate", which is given as a token of friendship
So there you have it! Enjoy! :3
Hanabusa beamed to himself, nodding in approval at the mound of Valentine's Day chocolates sitting on his desk. Heaps of boxes were each stacked so high that they resembled mini towers. He grabbed the topmost box from the nearest pile. It was from Ichigo.
Lifting the lid from the mid-sized box, he discovered a batch of beautiful rose macarons with dark chocolate filling. Delighted, he popped one into his mouth and savored the rich texture and deep flavor. "As expected of Ichigo-chan. Delicious and packed with love."
Just then, the sound of a key fumbling the lock outside Kashino's door was heard. Hanabusa watched as the door swung open and his roommate entered. "Welcome back, Kashino."
The blond growled. "You're about to ask me how much chocolate I got, aren't you? Too bad, because I'm going to take a shower first."
Hanabusa watched as Kashino dumped his school bag contents onto his desk and swiftly made his way into the bathroom. He seemed to be in a foul mood.
"Long day, eh?" The narcissist called teasingly.
"Shut up. It's none of your business," Kashino's muffled voice shot back from behind the closed door.
Once Hanabusa heard water running from the shower head, he sauntered over to Kashino's desk. Among the clutter of books and binders sat a beautifully decorated box. Curious, he gently held it up to study it. The box was laced with red ribbon, and pink polka dots covered the creamy surface. He was about to set it back down before a small label on the side caught his attention:
To: Kashino Makoto
From: Amano Ichigo
It's from... Ichigo-chan?! Hanabusa was appalled. The box she'd given him definitely wasn't as fancy; his was just plain-colored red. Andou's wasn't decorated either. Exasperated for a reason unknown, he carefully untied the ribbon and removed the lid to reveal a magnificent mini chiffon cake inside. On the side was placed a tiny notecard.
Why, Ichigo-chan? Why Kashino? Sighing, Hanabusa sadly wrapped the present back to its original appearance. Man, do I have news for Andou. But wait, why was Kashino in a bad mood earlier?
The water in the shower stopped running. Minutes after, a wet-haired Kashino stepped out of the bathroom, wiping his hair with a towel. "Oi, Hanabusa! What are you doing at my desk?"
Hanabusa slowly spun on the swivel chair to face his roommate. "Why don't you explain this to me right now?" He held up Ichigo's gift.
Kashino's eyebrows furrowed. "What's that? I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't give me that. It was in your bag. Look at the label." Hanabusa stood and flashed the box directly before Kashino's eyes. The blond frowned, confused, as he glanced at the words. Then gradually, his pupils dilated and mouth widened. His facial expression was a mix of shock and awe as he saw what the box contained inside.
Stumbling backward, he shook his head in disbelief. The towel in his hands fell to the floor. "You liar. This is just some joke you're playing on me. No way would Amano give me Honmei Chocolate."
"Why would I do that?" Hanabusa shrugged. "Hey, it's highly possible. You two are pretty close after all."
"Are not!" Kashino defiantly retorted. He fingered the box's ribbon. "I can't believe this. Maybe it's just a fancy version of Giri Chocolate."
Hanabusa shook his head. "Nope. Want to see what she got me and Andou?" He held up the box of macarons he'd received.
Kashino grew silent. "I... see." He turned from Hanabusa as he tried to control the fluttery sensation at the pit of his stomach.
"You'd better treat Ichigo-chan well. You're lucky she chose you." Hanabusa crossed his arms.
Kashino stuttered, "T-this isn't a big deal! It's just chocolate and it doesn't mean much."
"Oh? Is that so?" The narcissist was sly with amusement written on his face. "Are you still happy though?"
"Of course I am! I mean, it's just... I'm surprised. That's all."
"Haven't you been offered Honmei Chocolate often in the past years too?"
"Then why is this one so significant enough to shock you?"
Kashino's cheeks flared bright red. "S-shut up. I just didn't expect it coming from Amano is all. Nothing else, okay?"
"Sure, sure. I'll leave you to enjoy your present now." Hanabusa walked over to his half of the room.
Kashino cast a glare at the rose-crazed male. "I told you it's nothing!"
"Uh-huh. Got it," Hanabusa replied as he examined the remaining Valentine's chocolate on his desk. Although he had way more than Kashino, the blond's gift from Ichigo seemed more valuable than the pile of boxes.
Hanabusa exhaled softly. Oh well. At least I got to see Kashino's soft side, ha. I'm rooting for you, roomie.
This can't be mine. She wouldn't have given this to me. I'm so confused.
Kashino traced the ribbon's path around the box again and again. He was now seated and twirling in the swivel chair Hanabusa had sat on earlier. As he felt the gift in his hands with delicate care, various thoughts of all sorts swam in his mind.
Okay, so Amano gave me Honmei Chocolate. Instead of Giri Chocolate like she gave Andou and Hanabusa, I got "favorite chocolate" from her. What's the purpose and meaning of that then?
He could sense his cheeks flaming as intensely as the sun.
What the heck is going on with me? My insides feel like jelly all of a sudden... Am I coming down with something?
Could I be...? No way.
Unable to fully comprehend the matter, Kashino placed the present inside his desk drawer and decided to call it a day. He could hear the soft breathing of his roommate from across the room. Kashino clicked his lamp off before climbing into his welcoming bed. It had been a long day, full of surprises and more.
Although he felt tired, he couldn't sleep a wink no matter how hard he tried. The struggle to doze off seemed to grow the more he tossed and turned. Exasperated, he eventually folded his arms and tucked them under his head. Following that, he shut his eyes and began to review the day's events.
"Hanabusa-sama! Andou-sama!" Outside the school entrance a chorus of screams by a mob of female students rang. They showered the two popular males with homemade chocolate. To the side stood the stoic-faced Kashino, observing the scene that only took place annually. Once again, he was chocolate-less because people feared his criticism. Not like that bothered him, however. He was actually quite relieved.
But that relief was only temporary. He had another problem always on his hands: Koshiro Miya, the girl who was smitten in love with him. At that moment she arrived at his side from nowhere and presented an overly-decorated chocolate dessert to him.
"Makoto-kun! Darling! I've made you chocolate!" She pounced on him like a wild leopard, squeezing the life out of him until his skin turned extremely pale. "Open it!"
Kashino squirmed while in captivity. "I can't if you don't let go of me!" he choked.
She giggled and released the male. "Fine~"
Dusting himself off, Kashino sighed and unwrapped the gift. "This is..."
"A huge chunk of chocolate with my face carved into it!" Miya squealed. "Isn't it gorgeous? Now," she leaned into his ear and whispered erotically, "you can eat me up."
The tips of Kashino's ears grew warm. He thrust the chocolate back into Miya's arms without hesitation. "No way in my lifetime!"
"Wait, Darling! Go ahead and at least take a bite!" The Heiress started to trail after him as he took off.
"Stay away from me!" He declared.
"Stop it! Please!"
"I'll go wherever you go!"
"Because I love you, Makoto-kun~!"
With that final cry, Miya successfully caught up to Kashino and brought him to the ground. Groaning, Kashino was forced to be suffocated once again.
"Sweetie, come here!" A big, fat smooch was planted on his cheek. The kiss was marked by Miya's dark red lipstick.
Kashino couldn't refrain from fainting.
~End of Flashback~
Lying in bed, he cringed as he recalled the moments later on in the day when his classmates laughed at the lipstick stain. It had gotten worse when Miya had returned with even more kisses awaiting just for him.
This is why he hated Valentine's Day.
And yet, it didn't feel so torturous after he'd received Honmei Chocolate from Ichigo. Somehow the gift had made his insides tingly.
Even after settling into bed for half an hour, the thought of the chocolate would not escape his mind. It was just chocolate, but why was he so preoccupied with it?
Maybe just one peek... Just to make sure this isn't some weird dream I'm having.
Kashino slung his feet over the edge of his bed and turned the lamp on. Now guided by the dim, hazy light, he quietly pulled the drawer handle and took the box out. He ran his hands over the surface area, treating it like some kind of treasure he'd discovered.
Then he opened it and stared at the rich, beautiful chocolate cake sitting inside, oh so delicately. He was about to have a tiny bite of it until he caught sight of the decorated notecard sticking out from one side. Kashino picked it up and started to skim through the lines.
"Kashino? What are you up for?" Hanabusa sat upright in bed and tiredly called out to his roommate. He watched as Kashino frantically turned to face him.
"I thought you were asleep, Hanabusa."
"I was, but why are you- Oh, I get it." A smug grin painted Hanabusa's lips. "Still can't get enough of Ichigo-chan's gift?"
"It's not like that, I just wanted to eat it. I can't sleep." It wasn't exactly a lie.
"Can't sleep, hmm? Sounds like a problem. Have fun for the night then, Kashino. I'm going back to dreamland."
Kashino scowled as Hanabusa dove under the sheets. "Be my guest."
When he was sure Hanabusa had fallen back to sleep, Kashino peered at the card again.
Thanks for helping me out on so many occasions. When I struggle, you're there for me. I'm grateful to have such a reliable friend and classmate like you.
We may have started on the wrong foot when we first met, but look at us now. Don't we have lots of fun these days along with Hanabusa-kun and Andou-kun? This time is precious. I don't ever want it to end... But until then, let's make more memories together!
Happy Valentine's Day, Kashino!
If I hadn't met you, life would not be the same.
Kashino stared at the words. He felt a sense of comfort from the note and smiled. Reading through again, he paused at a certain line.
"If I hadn't met you, life would not be the same."
Wasn't that obvious? Kashino frowned. Why would she add that? Did that mean something? Chills inched their way up his spine.
Forget it, I'll just have to ask Amano about that tomorrow. He stuck the card back into the box and tucked it away into the drawer. Then he climbed into bed and lay there once again, restless.
Why was the chocolate prepared as Honmei while the note seemed to hint nothing more than friendship?
"You look super tired today, Ma-kun," Andou took note of the bags under his friend's eyes. He received a loud yawn as a response.
"I had insomnia last night," Kashino grumbled. "I only slept for about three hours."
"Why?" Hanabusa joined in, taking his place at the cooking station. Kashino witnessed the taunting spark dancing in his eyes.
"No particular reason. I just couldn't drift off."
"Good morning, everyone!" Ichigo arrived beside Hanabusa, smiling.
The narcissist turned his attention to her. "Hi, Ichigo-chan. Thanks for the chocolate yesterday. I enjoyed eating your gift."
"Oh!" She blushed. "You're welcome. I'm glad you liked it." She cast her gaze upon the other two members of her group. "Did you like your Valentine's gifts, too?"
Andou nodded and praised her use of green tea in his macarons. Kashino simply lowered his eyes and remained silent.
"Kashino? What did you think about your chocolate?" Ichigo watched him, piqued with interest.
His cheeks turned the faintest shade of pink. "Do I have to comment on it?" Stealing a furtive glance at the other guys, he noticed Hanabusa's omniscient smirk and Andou's amused grin.
"Why not? Was it awful?"
Seeing her sad expression stung. "No! Of course not. It was just fine."
"Really? You think so?" Ichigo sighed with relief. "Phew."
Kashino felt an urge to question her. It had been eating at him ever since she'd arrived earlier. He had to know everything. "Actually, about that, Amano-"
Quizzical looks by Andou and Hanabusa made him stop short.
"Hmm?" The brunette was as oblivious as ever. "About what?"
Later. I'll bring it up again at a better time.
All day long, he'd been worrying about the Honmei Chocolate. He couldn't seem to get it off his focus. The image of the chiffon cake and notecard inside the box kept popping up within his mind.
Kashino had to find out soon or he'd go paranoid with confusion. What he needed was some form of confirmation about the meaning of the gift. He figured it was narrowed down to either as a token of friendship or...
Idiot! What's wrong with you? Just thinking about the mere idea of romance caused him to redden profoundly. For reassurance, he muttered under his breath, "I'm not in love with Amano."
"What about me?" Ichigo herself appeared at his side.
Kashino almost jumped out of his skin. "N-nothing!" Did she hear what I said?
A playful smile adorned her lips. "Hmm? I thought I heard my name."
"I said that it's nothing!"
"Okay, okay." She giggled at his tense face. "Anyway, what have you been wanting to ask me about? You were acting weird the whole day."
"Oh yeah, that. Well, it's..."
"Nothing? Liar. I know something's bothering you."
He licked his lips. "Um... How should I put it? It's kind of embarrassing, but..." His cheeks felt hot.
"Come on, you can tell me! Kashino!"
The blond stopped in his tracks, causing her to do the same. He gulped and fixed a steady gaze upon her sincere eyes. "Why... Why did you give me Honmei chocolate and act today like nothing happened? Does it mean anything to you?"
Ichigo's pupils wavered while she kept silent for several seconds. Her lips searched for words to speak. "What... I don't understand what you're saying. Wait, did I-" An expression of horrified shock appeared on her face. "Oh no. I-it can't be."
"What's going on?" Kashino was just as confused as the brunette had been. "Answer my question first."
Ichigo took a step back. "Kashino, I, uh, have to get something from my room. Could you come with me?"
"What? Amano! I-" He was stopped short with a jerk of his sleeve. She dragged him along toward the dorms, dashing as fast as her legs would carry her.
This can't be happening, she thought.
Ichigo stood alone in the empty kitchen and mused silently. Cooking utensils were neatly displayed atop the counter. She pinned her gaze upon the ingredients while frowning in concentration. What kind of chocolate should I make?
Cakes? Bon bon chocolates? Mousse? Or... She jerked her head up swiftly. Macarons, that's it! Macarons filled with chocolate cream! And I can even make different flavors of the cookie for every person.
Beaming, Ichigo set to work on her Valentine's Day project. It was a quarter past nine, and she was determined to finish well even if it meant pulling an all-nighter. She decided upon rose flavored macarons for Hanabusa, green tea for Andou, and salted caramel for Kashino.
The brunette hummed a cheerful tune as she prepared the batter for Hanabusa's gift. She'd bought a bottle of rose water ahead of time just in case. Although it couldn't compare to the brand Hanabusa had, it was okay enough to use. Ichigo added a few drops and mixed. He's going to love this.
While she prepared Andou's green tea macarons, her mind drifted off to the subject of her plan for Kashino's present. Was salted caramel really the perfect flavor? It didn't seem like a Valentine's treat that would suit him. Something wasn't quite right.
For Kashino, I guess I just want to make it something different. More special, I guess. He stands out from the other two for some reason. And I think I should try harder for him since it's chocolate. Plus, he's helped me in ways more than one. I want to thank him.
Yes, that's right. It's just extra as a special thanks, not anything more. I'll decorate the box too, but it's definitely not for any other reasons. It's not Honmei Chocolate, it's just... Giri Chocolate, enhanced. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Ichigo felt blood rush to her face. What am I thinking? I'm not in... no. I can't just give him chocolate more exquisite than the other two's. That's unfair. So yeah, forget it.
Yet she found herself preparing a small chiffon cake after the originally planned caramel macarons. She wholeheartedly baked it and decorated the exterior with the leftover chocolate cream, which she'd tempered with effort.
What did I do? Ichigo pushed Hanabusa and Andou's macarons aside and stared at her two distinct creations for Kashino. Which one should I give him?
A glance at the clock snapped her out of her confused daze. It was half past midnight and she needed sleep. Hurriedly, she cleaned up after herself and headed back to her room with her Valentine's treats.
With Rumi fast asleep on the other side, Ichigo sat at her desk and set to work on making boxes to place the sweets in. It was simple and fast using plain red paper to cover the outer faces. But again, she came to the conflict of Kashino's present and became stuck. Give him the macarons or cake? I want to give the cake to him, but maybe I should play it safe and give him the macarons instead...
Tired and exasperated, she chose to wrap both. I'll decide which one to give him later, she reasoned, so it's probably a good idea to prepare both in case.
The brunette colored both of the boxes with polka dots. She even added a red ribbon for good measure. It's only fancier because I need to thank him. Wait, I shouldn't have decorated the macaron box... She sighed before yawning drowsily. Whatever, too late to change plans now.
She might've written a small note to Kashino, but the rest of the night wasn't fresh in her memory. It was all sluggish in her sleepy haze. She could barely recall creating labels for the three gifts and sticking them on. She'd most likely pasted a label each on the two undecided boxes for Kashino.
By then Ichigo was nodding off and starting to hallucinate. She didn't dare to peek at the time. Her head felt so heavy. I'll just catch a few winks for several minutes. No harm to it. With that, she set her head on the table and closed her eyes. Her sprawled arm bumped into a few things and caused them to fall behind the desk. Hearing the sound of the crash, she thought it was just several books and didn't bother to retrieve them. Tomorrow...
~End of Flashback~
Arriving at the dorm, Ichigo left Kashino wordlessly at the entrance before storming upstairs. She'd made the biggest mistake of her life. And would have to explain it later.
She burst into her room and immediately got down on her hands and knees, searching. Where could it be? Where?
Eventually she came across the fallen clutter of books behind her desk. Among it was the polka dot box addressed to Kashino: the one that held the macarons inside. Then it hit her.
Valentine's Day morning after oversleeping, she'd rushed to get ready for school. In a frantic frenzy out the door, she'd tossed the three boxes of sweets into her school bag without thinking clearly.
I gave him the Honmei Chocolate without knowing myself! Crap! You idiot!
The box was just centimeters beyond her reach. She stretched... Stretched...
Ichigo sat, waiting at the lunch table along with the Sweet Princes' school bags. The three were still standing in the lunch line. Seeing this as an opportunity, Ichigo slipped the Valentine's boxes into their bags. Her face was lit with a wide grin as the guys sat down at the table.
"What's that creepy smile for, Amano?" Kashino was the first to speak.
"Mou, don't be mean! I just put Valentine's chocolate into your school bags!"
"Really?" Hanabusa eagerly reached for his.
Ichigo stopped him. "Not yet! Don't look at them until you get back in your rooms tonight! I want it to be a surprise."
Andou laughed. "Good idea, Amano-san. Thank you!"
"Fine, I'll wait for a few more hours." Hanabusa agreed to the rule.
"Hmph, not like it makes any difference to me." Kashino shrugged and picked at his food. "Who would want to peek?"
Ichigo narrowed her eyes. He was so cold, so blunt. Why did she even make his gift more special in the first place?
Why did he stand out from the other two in her eyes?
~End of Flashback~
Her hand came in contact with the box. She grabbed it gently and brought it near before rising to her feet. Then she lunged down the stairs and outside, face to face with the waiting Kashino.
"Well? What was it?" He raised an eyebrow as Ichigo panted loudly.
"This." She swallowed and stepped closer to him as she revealed the box in her hands.
Kashino paused. "...What?"
"It's... It's for you," she whispered.
He took it and peered at the label, which confirmed her statement. "I don't understand. What... Then what's this you gave me yesterday?" Kashino dug into his school bag and fetched out the Honmei Chocolate.
"I gave you that by mistake. You were supposed to get this one." Ichigo suddenly realized she was being harsh. It was like she was demoting her relationship with him right then and there.
"I... Oh." He dropped the Honmei Chocolate back inside his bag and unwrapped the box she'd just given him. His heart sank when he realized it held Giri Chocolate. "So this was just a mix-up? The other one you gave me before didn't mean anything, right?"
Ichigo looked away. Kashino was definitely not going to put up with her feelings for him. She didn't want him to feel awkward about the whole chocolate situation. "It's not like it doesn't mean anything. But yeah, I wrote your name on both by accident." She reddened. "So keep the obligatory chocolate then. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Here, you can give the other one back to me since-"
"No, it's fine. I'll just keep the Honmei Chocolate."
"I don't... I don't mind the mistake. You gave me this in the first place after all. It's okay if it implies more than what you meant it to." Kashino's gaze drifted here and there, his face resembling a ripe tomato. He shifted his body with anxiety as he mumbled, "After all, it made me happy, even if it's not... You know, 'real'."
Ichigo watched with awe. Was Kashino being... shy?
"Don't get the wrong idea though. I-I just want to eat the cake since it looks good, okay? Nothing else to it." The blond stammered, trying to conceal his embarrassment. And feelings for her.
"Are you sure?"
"Positive! I mean, uh, sure. Yeah."
"You're comfortable with that?" Ichigo twiddled her thumbs.
He nodded slowly. Who cared if she didn't mean to give it to him? Why she got the chocolates mixed up didn't matter to him. He was satisfied with the mistake already.
"To be honest, I did make the Honmei Chocolate for you."
He stared at her in surprise.
"I was just unconfident about giving it to you, so I made the macarons as a Giri Chocolate backup. But in the end you still ended up receiving the Honmei Chocolate, so I guess you can't call this a mistake exactly."
Kashino was flabbergasted. "Wait, so..."
Ichigo grinned bashfully at him. "I love you... Kashino."
He felt paralyzed. His temperature spiked as he locked his gaze with hers.
She was quivering a bit as an alarm sounded in her head. What had she just done? Overcome with an unexplainable emotion, she started for the lake and left an astounded Kashino behind.
Augh, augh, augh! Why did I do and say all that? Am I insane? Her mind reeled as she pumped her legs with vigor.
She soon found Kashino close behind her, calling her name while stumbling through the deep snow banks. Eventually she lost her footing at a patch of ice and fell to the ground with a loud thump.
Kashino came to a stop beside her and helped her to her feet. "You clumsy baka," he muttered, red in the face. He averted his gaze. "Why did you have to be the one to capture my heart?"
Ichigo couldn't resist from staring wide-eyed at him.
"I love you too, Amano Ichigo."
She would never be able to fully describe the cool touch of his soft lips upon her forehead. It felt like a wonderful dream.
The blond tousled her hair playfully. "Now that's your early White Day gift."
Ichigo immediately broke from her stunned state. "Eh?"
He stuck out his tongue while still flushed in the face. "Wasn't that enough?"
"No way! I mean..." She cast a downward look.
Kashino laughed seeing her embarrassed expression. "Joking. I'll give you something even better."
Ichigo's face shone with delight just as her stomach rumbled.
"Man, you never get full, don't you?" Amusement laced his words. "Here, let's share the chocolate you gave me."
She gasped as he took the box out from his bag. "No, I can't do that! It's for you."
"Come on, I know you want it." Kashino opened the box and dramatically took a bite of the cake, trying to tempt her. "Mm, it's so delish."
"Fine! Mou, just one bite." She sheepishly gave in and opened her mouth wide. Surprise came to her when Kashino sealed it closed with his own lips.
A sweet euphoria enveloped them, one that neither had felt before. It was tantalizing, indescribable.
Hope the ending was okay. I had no idea when to stop, hehe. X3
Was the whole story confusing? I'd like to know so I can rewrite some parts if needed.
Now I'll get to my other stories soon! Please review, dear reader! :D