From Misaki's Perspective

Today is December 24th. A.k.a. Christmas Eve. Normally the Christmas holiday and Christmas festivities have no place in my dictionary, but this year, as of this moment, I find myself fully decked out in red and white, Christmas hat included. Granted, all the other maids who work with me at Maid Latte are also wearing something similar but then again I usually don't go to Christmas parties or participate in Christmas gift exchanges. Speaking of gift exchanges, aren't these things supposed to go in order? Well according to the crowd behind me, I guess not.

I'm staring at my number wondering if there will be anything left for me, (not that I'm particularly worried, more curious than anything else) when Subaru-chan's voice jars me from my thoughts. "I'm number 41," I tell her. My gift turns out to be a seemingly expensive perfume from Sayu. She's currently looking at me as if the weight of the entire sky has been lifted from her shoulders. Although I feel for her, I just can't help but wonder what good it would do for me to be the owner of such a useless thing, while I mutter my thanks to her.

With my gift in hand, standing in a quiet corner, I watch as the Idiot Trio open their gifts. Two of the morons seem to have gotten gifts from someone in their own group. Watching them cry with displeasure over the gifts they received I can't help but feel dread over my gift. Maybe I should have put more thought into it. But it seems that I have no reason to worry as I watch the last one, Shiroyan open my gift.

I walk toward him instinctively; relieved that that's where my gift ended up, while saying so out loud. It's a Get Smarter with Music cd that Suzuna won in one of her contests. It was like a gift from God that Suzuna didn't open it. But he seems to really like his gift, so I too, now feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. As I turn to leave I hear Kurotatsu remark that Shiroyan will now be able to get closer to me as I was second in the exams and he was last.

At the reminder of my less than stellar performance in those very exams, I turn to stop and stare at them with the utmost of hatred and anger in my eyes. After which of course, they run for their lives in the opposite direction. As frustrating as it is, it is true that I placed second in the exams. And where did first go you might wonder. First place of course went to Usui.

God that guy! I have no idea how he does it, especially with all of what's been happening recently. I mean I couldn't even concentrate with my all. But he is the same as always. Although I did have this one other special reason why I couldn't concentrate. And there is one other person, other than myself that is, who knows about it. I'm muttering my frustration to myself when said other person happens to show up and corners me by a deserted table. Aoi-chan.

Aoi-chan of course is decked out as usual in his ultra cute feminine display. This time with a bit of Christmas flair added. Too bad the look he's giving me right now isn't as cute as his outfit. And then he opens his mouth and asks the one question I really don't want to hear right now. "Have you finished with that thing we talked about?"

But he already knows the answer, you can tell by the way he's looking at me and by the tone of his voice but most importantly, by the hesitation in my response. But the words still come out, while I wince in self-hate and admonishment. "No, I say". And then it's done. The spark has been ignited. And he snaps.

Slapping the table for emphasis, his angry words show his surprise and anger. "EH, WEREN'T YOU GOING TO GIVE IT TO HIM TODAY? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING LATELY? YOU SEEMED LIKE YOU WERE ALMOST DONE A WEEK AGO?! I THOUGHT YOU'D BE OKAY BY YOURSELF, WHICH IS WHY I LET YOU DO IT BY YOURSELF!

This last comment causes me to actually look up at his face. "But, wasn't the beginning really awful?" This statement seems to cool him down momentarily. "Well, yes, the stiches in the beginning were really awful and made it crooked," he says very seriously and sternly at the same time. "But you did get better with practice," he adds. But then I open my big mouth again, thinking it was safe. "As I got used to the knitting I thought I could make it better. So I thought I had time to do it from the beginning . . ." "YOU WHAT!? FROM THE BEGINNING!

Ah, well. No matter what I say now it won't change anything. What's done is done. "WELL, HOW FAR ARE YOU NOW?" "I ripped it all out and have most of the border done." You know how the truth is supposed to set you free? Well, it doesn't, just in case you're wondering. "ARE YOU AN IDIOT, OR WHAT?"

"I can finish it tonight, really. There's not much work left to be done. And, well, Christmas is tomorrow." Looking at his disbelieving face, "I'll be fine. Don't worry about it," I add. Still looking doubtful, he asks. "Do you have a date yet?"

Grateful for this change of subject I reply in the negative.

" I thought I'd just give it to him at his place", I say not finding anything wrong with this idea. But of course this is the wrong thing to say. "WHAT! YOU ACTUALLY HAVEN'T MADE ANY PLANS YET? WHAT WERE YOU PLANNING TO DO IF HE WASN'T AT HOME? AND I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT IMBECILE USUI DIDN'T INVITE YOU OUT EITHER! To be honest, I hadn't really thought that far. "Wait for him to come back," I suggest halfheartedly. "YOU IDIOT! GO IN THERE AND ASK HIM RIGHT NOW!"

With that last command and a shove a lot stronger from someone dressed as a girl than you would normally expect, I find myself in the kitchen of Maid Latte. That's where Usui works, I mean cooks, you know what I mean. He turns and asks if my break's over. But it's not. "I have some time left," I reply. But by then the manager is talking to him about the next batch of cookies and I don't want to disturb him, so I leave.

I'm reporting this to Aoi-chan, who firmly tells me to make sure I ask him before I go home and to make sure I actually make date plans when Honoka-chan comes out of the kitchen. She had won a pair of tickets to the amusement park and had been eyeing Sayu-chan's gift.

"You don't wear perfume do you, Misaki?" "What, no, go right ahead," I say extending my gift towards her. Happily, she leaves after our exchange "Alright I'm gonna go now," I say to Aoi-chan relieved that I now have proper date plans. He nods in response. That kid is so not like other fourteen year old kids I know.

After Maid Latte closes for the night, while I walk home with Usui I resign myself to asking him. I mean I have to, Christmas Day is tomorrow! Breaking my train of thought he goes, "Aren't you cold, Ayuzawa? You're gonna catch a cold if you don't start wearing warmer clothes. The base of your neck looks cold." "Not really, I'm totally fine like this," I reply. "I refuse to give into the cold. That's a sign of weakness." "That tenacity is so like you Pres," he says. And I just can't tell if he's joking or not or just plain making fun of me. But it's Usui. And he always makes me feel that way.

And then you know what he says next? Stretching his hand out and reaching for my nose, "But . . . (after making contact) your nose is turning red. At that point of course, my whole face turns red to match my nose. " . . . like a reindeer," he adds. Feeling extremely embarrassed and unsure of myself, I tell him to cut it out, but now my hand is at my nose. And let me tell you, the feel of his hand on my nose makes me feel a lot more than cold ever did. Not that I would ever tell him that. "Anyways," he says,". . . today was pretty busy."

"Yeah, it was," I say. "Why did you even work extra hours today?" "Well," he says, "apparently the other kitchen staff will be very busy starting tomorrow so they wanted a break today." That does make sense I thought. "So that's why you wanted to work all by yourself in the kitch," . . . but he cuts in. "And besides this is the exact day I wanted to work with you." I start to blush furiously. God dammit, he always does this to me. I have no idea how he can say such things so easily. I mean I still haven't asked him out tomorrow!

In the middle of the streets, a gigantic Christmas tree is set up. It's so tall and it looks really beautiful all lit up. And while I'm standing in front of it with Usui I see Aoi-chan, but this time he's dressed as a boy. But from what seems to be the par for today, he's giving me the evil eye. And it's really scary. But I also hear Usui's voice. When I ask what's up he says it's nothing but it sounded a lot like he said, "Why am I surrounded by all these busybodies." But that's not the point. I have to ask him out. What am I so scared about anyways? Alright here goes.

I turn to him and clear my throat. "So, um, yeah about tomorrow . . ." But he's not listening. "Usui, tomorrow"! He turns, startled, towards me, but now I know I can do it. "Are you free?" "Of course," he says. I breathe a sigh of relief. When we start walking again, I start to tell him about the amusement park and the two tickets I got from Honoka-chan.

(The End) For now)