Okay, so technically that last one was supposed to be the closing number (according to the polls) and this was going to be the encore, but then I got a brainwave. So now this is the closing number. Hmm…with Nami pulling all these things out of the hat, this concert isn't actually much shorter than the previous. XD We're looking at…9 versus 10 songs (11 if you include the encore)?

This is one of my absolute favorite boy band songs of all time. It's just so incredibly sweet and romantic. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, word of advice if you come to like this song: never, ever watch the music video. It completely and totally destroys everything. You have been warned.

I hope you will enjoy the final installment of the "Just a Little Holiday Blackmail" series.

98°'s "I Do (Cherish You)": youtube…com/watch?v=wjmwDQNC0gU


Nami stared down at the stack of paper in her hands uncertainly as she wrestled with herself. They only had a couple more weeks before the concert. Would there be time? She frowned hard as she calculated schedules, practice time, difficulty, et cetera, et cetera. "Would you guys totally hate me if I asked you to do a planned encore number?"

"Yes," Len replied flatly. "We barely have time to finish what we've got."

"It wouldn't be another dancing number. You'd just stand and sing," she wheedled.

"Even…simply…singing takes…rehearsal…time…."

"But you could seriously enslave the entire female student body with this one song!"

Azuma smiled innocently. "And we haven't already done pretty much that?"

She huffed and resisted the urge to stick out her tongue at him. It wasn't worth her head if word got back to the Yunoki guard.

"Besides," Kazuki mussed up his hair as he wrinkled his nose, "why would we want all the girls to go crazy over us? It's really troublesome having to keep running away from them all the time."

"Give it up Amou," Ryoutaro advised as they all continued to pack up.

"What if it would guarantee that a particular girl saw you in a more romantic light?" she asked suddenly. "Would it be worth it then?"

They all paused.

Nami hid a smile. "Gotcha."

Kazuki and Keiichi looked over at Nami as the other three quickly shrugged it off.

"What…do you…mean…?"

"Is a single song really capable of that Amou-chan?"

The other three cringed. They had a bad feeling about this.

Nami stretched her face into a wide, inviting smile. She'd caught them, now to reel them in. "If your girl has a single romantic bone in her body, she won't be able to resist this song."

Seeing Kazuki's eyes light up, Ryoutaro quickly slapped his hands over his senpai's mouth. "There is no way I'm going to let you-"

"May…I…see it…?"

He groaned and let his hands fall, releasing the third-year to eagerly grab the music and huddle over it with the freshman. "Here we go again." He sent Len and Azuma dirty looks. "Way to have my back, guys."

Azuma just shrugged apologetically while Len simply ignored him. He was determined to not let this become any of his business.

Azuma sighed and walked over to the other two as Ryoutaro continued to grind his teeth at Len. If they were going to get them all roped into something, he might as well let it happen with his eyes open. He furrowed his eyebrows as he read the lyrics over Kazuki's shoulder. "Amou-san, this is very obviously a wedding or engagement song. Don't you think we're a bit young to be seriously thinking about marriage?"

Kazuki dropped the score like it was a hot potato, sending sheets spilling across the stage in a messy heap. "M-m-m-m-m-m-m-marriage?!" He looked ready to faint.

Nami rolled her eyes. Good grief. For a brief moment, she wondered if they were mature enough to even do moderate justice to the song before quickly dismissing the thought. It would turn out once they saw things her way. Or her name wasn't Nami Amou. "Seriously thinking, yes." She smiled smugly. "Dreaming about the romance of it, especially if you're a girl? No."

By this point, Ryoutaro had also come over, looking over the sheets as he and Keiichi picked them up from the floor. "Sappy," he grumbled, then grudgingly sighed, "But I see your point." The words were dragged out of him with all the enthusiasm of having his teeth pulled out, without painkiller. "If you really felt this way about someone and sang this to her, she'd know it."

Len paused. "What makes you say that?" he asked before he could stop himself.

Ryoutaro flashed him a goading smile. "Why? Interested?"

"No," he denied, all frost. He internally winced. To his hearing, it sounded a tad too swift to be convincing.

"Sure…" Ryoutaro drawled with a smirk. Prissy boy was totally interested.

Taking the music from the two boys on the floor, Azuma diplomatically walked it over to the violinist. "Since everyone else has taken a look, why don't you as well, Tsukimori-kun?"

As he perused solo 4, Len pursed his lips into a frighteningly thin line. He hated it when she was right.

Sensing something in the air, Kazuki spoke up. "Hey, guys," he looked around at the others. "Can I have solo 3?"

"Who said we were going to do it?" Len asked icily. The temperature in the room significantly dropped.

Kazuki flushed. "Well…if-if we do do it," he cleared his throat and fidgeted nervously, "I'd like solo 3."

"Why…don't…we take…a vote…?" Keiichi suggested.

"Yes," Azuma agreed. "An anonymous vote," bowing his head toward Nami, he continued, "with Amou-san as the moderator."

Ryoutaro leaned back to look at her. "Got anymore paper?"

As Nami counted the votes, she hid her Cheshire grin. Unanimously yes. Oh, she was good!

~ (^o^) ~

"Will the person in seat K107 please come forward?" Nami called again into her microphone.

"Go on!" a voice could be heard hissing from just off the stage.

"But I don't want to!" another voice quietly protested. "Why don't you go?"

"Her seat didn't get drawn," yet another voice chimed in.

"Don't be a baby," the first voice chastised with a grunt as if dragging something along.

"But-but-but-!"

"Break a leg!" the third voice cheerfully chirped as a slim girl in a black General Studies' uniform was unceremoniously shoved into the spotlight.

Nami's eyes lit up as she caught sight of the red-haired violinist. "Hino-chan! Looks like you're our lucky winner!"

Kahoko smiled nervously back. "Umm…yeah, I guess so." Fate had truly played her a cruel trick. Getting hauled onstage in two different concerts to participate in some weird audience volunteer activity, what were the chances?

"Look, guys! It's Kaho-chan!" Kazuki motioned to the others as they untangled themselves from their wireless mikes.

Nodding thoughtfully as he walked over to the prop table, Ryoutaro hoisted up the large bouquet of pink roses and golden yellow calla lilies sprinkled with baby's breath and star of Bethlehem that was on it. "I guess we're supposed to give her this." With a very slight downturn of his lips, he fixed the lace and cellophane wrapping. Well, at least this time he got to give flowers to a girl he was actually interested in, but it would've been nice if they had been his flowers. Would it kill Amou to let people make their moves when they were good and ready to?

Keiichi stared at the arrangement pensively. "But the…event is called…a Song and…Flower Event…. What is…the song…?"

"Perhaps," Azuma murmured as he watched the flustered girl from beneath slightly lowered lashes, "Amou-san means for us to sing that song. After all, it's the only one left."

A mixture of emotions crossed their faces at the prospect, but chief among them was confusion. What was she thinking?! That was supposed to be an encore number, not part of the concert! Then, confusion slowly gave way to anticipation, determination, nervousness, and uncertainty. This was the perfect opportunity to see if Nami had been right about the power of this song, but now that they knew they would quite literally be singing it to her, could they pull it off?

As Len's eyes followed the golden-eyed girl onstage, he thought aloud, "I suppose this explains the strange way Amou-san staged us." Before the others could respond, he sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "We should get going." And with that, he strode out of the wings to loud applause with the others following behind in a clump.

Nami smiled widely and turned her fellow Gen. Ed. toward the quintet. "So Hino-chan, whom would you like to receive the bouquet from? Choose the one you like best."

Kahoko tried to desperately fight down her blush. Choose whom she liked best? Why in the world did Amou-san insist on asking questions like that?! Looking away from the others, Kahoko turned to the other girl. "I like them all equally, Amou-san. We're all friends."

Ouch. That kind of stung. Although on the bright side, it meant they were all on equal footing.

"Oh come on, Hino-chan. Be a sport. Isn't there anyone you'd like to receive flowers from?"

Kahoko's smile looked a little strained as she shook her head. "I didn't even want to come up here. I knew something embarrassing would happen!"

Before Nami could try to badger and bait her again, Kazuki suggested out of nowhere, "What if we all gave it to her?"

"Huh?" both girls looked at him in surprise.

Keiichi nodded thoughtfully. "It…is…a rather…large…bouquet…."

Ryoutaro laid the flowers horizontally in his hands and the others gathered around.

Azuma chuckled. "It almost feels like Hino-san is our teacher or something."

Ryoutaro's eyes lit with humor. "Thank you for all you've done for us, Hino-sensei," he joked.

Kahoko shook her head with a large smile and accepted the flowers and their White Day wishes. She was glad she wouldn't have to choose someone.

"And this too," Len thrust out a sheer, filmy white scarf.

Nami's eyes widened in surprise, then sharpened in indignation when she recognized her new scarf. She ground her teeth as the other girl took it with an appreciative, "Thank you," oblivious to her friend's ire and the smirks that flirted around the two second-years' otherwise studiously bland expressions. That thing was designer! This was the thanks she got for trying to help these hopeless idiots out? They were so buying her a new one! Thinking of Len's house, she smirked and added that cute, little CHANEL clutch she'd been eyeing to their purchases.

With happy thoughts of revenge, Nami pulled Kahoko toward the boys—making sure to viciously kick the violinist and pianist in the shins for good measure—and settled her smack in the middle of the stage. Then, turning back to the audience, she grinned. "And now, I'd like to present our special song of the evening. Please enjoy 98°'s 'I Do.'"

As applause filled the air, the lights went down, making the entire stage pitch black with the exception of a lone pool of light.

Kahoko fidgeted uncomfortably in the spotlight. It was so dark outside of it that she couldn't make out any of the others despite that they were wearing predominantly white. What was going to happen to her? She jumped a little when she heard the cascade of wind chimes and the little pyuu at the beginning of the song.

Then, out of the darkness, Azuma slowly approached her, moving with predatory grace that made her shiver. "I do I do now." She stared at him much like the way she had when they had first met. "I do I do…"

As Azuma faded into the black, she felt someone tap her shoulder, making her turn with such force that she almost ran smack into Ryoutaro. Chuckling, he ruffled her hair a bit and looked down at her affectionately. Then his eyes went serious. "All I am, all I'll be"

Her heart skipped even more quickly than that really fast Chopin song he had played for her after soccer practice that one time.

"Everything in this world / All that I'll ever need." He shot her that smile that always made everything seem right and stable in the world. "Is in your eyes." He moved closer so she had to tilt her head back to meet his gaze. "Shining at me"

She felt her body tremble involuntarily as he towered over her. There was something very…possessive about his movements.

"When you smile I can feel / All my passion unfolding"

She did a 180 as something brushed her other shoulder, bringing her face-to-face with another green-haired boy.

Kazuki smiled tenderly, remembering how soft her hand had been on his during that class. "Your hand brushes mine"

A funny little ache lanced through her heart as their eyes shyly met.

Touching his own heart, he whispered, "And a thousand sensations," she watched, entranced, as he slowly backed away with his hand held out, "Seduce me 'cause I."

She was shocked when five additional spotlights flashed on, revealing all five boys in a semi-circle around her. "I do cherish you." As she met each of their eyes in turn, she was struck by the earnestness and gentleness that emanated from them.

Touching their hands to their chests, they solemnly pledged, "For the rest of my life / You don't have to think twice." They smiled at her sharp intake of breath. "I will love you still / From the depths of my soul"

Azuma pinned her with his gaze. "It's beyond my control"

Softly, the five cooed, "I've waited so long to say this to you."

She ducked her head self-consciously, disoriented by the strange way they were making her feel (although, that was uncannily similar to real life).

"If you're asking do I love you this much"

Azuma tipped up her chin and looked directly into her eyes. "I do"

Her eyes widened; then, in a blink, the other lights flicked off, leaving her alone with Len.

"Oh, baby," he murmured with a tentative smile. Then, taking a deep breath, he moved closer and fixed her with an intense look that let her know just how truly he'd mean his next words. "In my world, before you"

Her blood pressure spiked.

"I lived outside my emotions / Didn't know where I was goin'." His body language conveyed all the feelings he could never find the words to voice. "'Til that day I found you"

She blushed prettily under his gaze. Who would've thought he'd feel that way about her?

Gold held gold. "How you opened my life / To a new paradise"

Then gold met amber. Her heart burned within her as she was swept away by those tender, expressive eyes. "In a world torn by change." Her smile was grateful as she heard his message: no matter what, I'll always be there for you. But any delusions of that being solely friendly were demolished as he leaned in and affectionately vowed, "Still with all my heart," he bravely brushed a strand of hair from her face, "'Til my dying day"

"I do," Keiichi murmured in her ear, making her start and blush furiously as she turned her head toward his.

"I'll cherish you, my baby," the others called softly from the sidelines.

"Cherish you," he slid in front of her and gave her that radiant smile that always made her face flush and heart flutter.

"This much I know is true"

"For the rest of my life / You don't have to think twice," all five harmonized.

Taking her free hand, he bowed his head to it as if paying homage to a great queen. "I will"

"I'll always love you, baby," the others solemnly swore.

"Love you still." Her eyes gentled as she beheld the young musician before her. She could sense his straightforward feelings for music in every word.

"This much I promise you"

Gazing at her with impassioned eyes, all five declared, "From the depths of my soul."

Keiichi's angelic blues spoke straight to the heart even as he moved into line with the others. "It's beyond my control." Kahoko clutched her flowers more tightly as she sensed that possibly somehow, in some ways, she had become synonymous with music.

"I've waited so long to say this to you." Kahoko looked from boy to boy at a complete loss. "If you're asking do I love you this much"

Keiichi's smile shone. "Yes I do"

"Ooh, I really love you," the others bobbed.

"I do"

"Ooh, I really love you"

Warmth and caring poured out of them. "If you're asking do I love you this much"

Azuma stepped forward, making her feel inexplicably weak-kneed. "Baby, I do"

"I'll cherish you, my baby," the others snapped.

"Cherish you." His eyes skimmed her face, making her breath catch when they lingered on her lips.

"This much I know is true"

As they circled her, she moved as if her heart were connected to theirs by a string. "From the depths of my soul / It's beyond my control." Touching their hearts, their voices soared, "I've waited so long to say this to you." Her heart stuttered and fell before them. "If you're asking do I love you this much…"

Azuma tapped her shoulder and caught her free hand as she spun toward him. Bowing over it as if asking her for a dance, he smiled genuinely and backed away. "Well, baby I do"

With gentle smiles, they stretched a hand out to the girl who had captured their hearts. "Oh…I… / I do…"


*happy sigh* Well, if I were Kahoko, I'd certainly be looking at those boys in a different light. Anybody else agree? The only unfortunate thing is that, well, there are five of them. XD So that'll come with it's own set of problems. XD

I was hesitant to have the boys sing this for a long time because I didn't think they'd be old enough or mature enough to be able to put the proper feeling into it. Like Azuma said, they're all pretty young to be seriously considering marriage, but in the end, I just couldn't let myself leave it out. I am a serious sucker for this song.

Partway through conceptualizing this chapter, I thought it would be cool if the boys could actually sing to Kahoko, and thus, the drawing was born. After all, after what happened in the last concert, there was no way Nami would be able to sucker Kahoko into coming onstage voluntarily. Thinking along this general vein, I actually changed my original concept for "I Lay My Love on You" so Kahoko would believe her participation was the result of a fair drawing. XD

Thank you to everyone who's been reading, favoriting, following, and reviewing! I hope you enjoyed it! I'm a little sad to see this series go, but I think it's ending just the way it should. =)