Rockman.EXE does not belong to me! ^_^
Shi-chan: This one's been in my head for weeks, but I could never quite get it down on paper...and now it's late. :P Gomengomen!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: In Japan on Valentine's Day, girls give chocolates to boys. There are giri chocolates (obligation chocolates, for the boys you associate with) and honmei chocolates (for the boy you like). Usually, the boys return the favour a month later on March 14th ("White Day").
The first alarm was a false alarm.
The household had been given strict instruction before even reaching the kitchen to "stay the hell away!" by the lady of the house. And despite their misgivings, depite the smoke pouring out the window on the south side of the house, they left her as she was--because facing her wrath was almost more acceptable than having the house burnt to the ground.
The second alarm, accompanied by a loud string of curses, still managed to keep the servants (for they had raised the young mistress from infancy, and simply knew better) at bay. Calling her father home from work wouldn't be necessary. Yet. Unfortunately, it drew the attention of the gardener, who came to the window to assist, and was reportedly attacked with a handful of thrown cutlery.
At the third alarm, the servants contacted Glyde.
The brown-and-yellow Net Navi, at least, had the decency to look embarassed for his Operator. "Erm, yes, she's a little occupied. Do not worry, I am keeping an eye on her." Glyde did not say how worried he actually felt. Ayano-Kouji Yaito's ire was not something to taken lightly, after all.
Fearing for his own safety but still bound by duty to his mistress, Glyde called Roll. "Roll-san, I was wondering if Meiru-san could come over and assist Yaito-sama with something. Alone."
Roll looked up at her Operator. "Meiru-chan?"
"I suppose," Meiru said dubiously. Her eyes left her Navi for a moment as she spoke quietly to someone outside and waved to them.
Glyde linked back to his PET alone, leaving instructions of strict confidence with Roll, and only a few moments later the relieved servants admitted Meiru into the house. They sent her in the general direction of the kitchen, not daring to go any closer than before.
So, when Sakurai Meiru arrived in the smoke-filled kitchen, she was understandably confused.
"Yaito-chan?" she called hesitantly, trying to duck under the smoke. "Are you in here?"
"Meiru-chan!?" Hurriedly Yaito tried to remove the apron she wore, but the pink-haired girl was at her side in an instant.
"What on earth are you doing?" The answer was painfully obvious, of course, if Meiru were to judge from the miniature war zone around her. The source of the smell was a smoking pot on the stove, and hardened chocolate was spattered in pools and droplets on every surface within five feet.
The young heiress' reply was mumbled. "Making chocolate."
"You're making chocolate," Meiru repeated incredulously. "You're making chocolate. You."
"Yes," Yaito said testily. "What of it?"
"For Valentine's Day? Why didn't you buy chocolate? You could have come with Marisa-chan and Aria-chan and I."
Yaito shrugged and continued to stir the smoking pot. Her blonde hair was escaping from her braids and strands of it stuck to her forehead. Her cheeks were blackened with smoke. Meiru muffled a giggle at the sight. If only the others could see you now!
"Eh, I just wanted to," the younger girl replied. "Why are you here anyway?"
"Erm." Remembering Roll's instructions not to get Glyde in trouble, Meiru faked a smile. "Just dropping by...looks like I came at the right time too. Maybe I can help you out." She had left her whole Sunday open, just in case plans were made, but she hadn't actually gone to deliver her own Valentine's chocolate yet. That could wait until the situation with Yaito was handled.
Yaito looked dubious. "I suppose. Since you are my friend." She shifted to the right a little to allow her friend access to the stove.
The pink-haired girl peered into the billowing smoke. "Maybe you should start that pot over."
"Should I?" She lifted it with two hands and inspected the contents. "It does look a bit charred."
Grinning, Meiru reached for a saucepan. "Here, Mama taught me how to melt it right...I'll show you." Opening up a box of semi-sweet chocolate squares, she dumped them in and turned the heat on medium. "What you have to do is put it on a lower heat, and keep stirring." The younger girl transferred her spoon to the fresh batch, nodding in satisfaction. "Then," Meiru continued, setting the saucepan on the burner, "you get ready to pour it into the mould--you're using these right?" She picked up a silver pan with heart indentations, four small, and one big.
"Yeah," Yaito replied, continuing to stir.
"Okay." Meiru put the pan on Yaito's right side. "Just pour it in."
"That's it?" Yaito glanced hesitantly at her best friend. "Don't you add sugar or cocoa or anything?"
"Oh." For the first time Meiru noticed the open bag of sugar on the counter, and barely contained her amusement. "You don't want it to be too sweet."
Yaito hefted the saucepan and poured its contents into the moulds. "Right. Now what?"
"Now, just put it into the fridge, and then wait for it to set."
"Thanks." Yaito grinned and pushed strands of her hair away from her eyes.
Meiru put the pan in the sink, noting that the servants camping outside the kitchen doors could probably clean the mess up later. A moment later she joined Yaito at the kitchen table. "You're welcome, Yaito-chan. So, what's all this about? I never thought I'd see you hand-making chocolate." Well, as close to 'hand-making' it as Yaito-chan can get...at least she was in the kitchen!
Yaito looked slightly embarrassed. "Lots of people make their own Valentine's chocolate. I just thought I'd try it."
Mentally Meiru counted the number of moulds Yaito had poured the mixture into. One, two, three...and a big one. Why a big one? I didn't know Yaito-chan liked anybody enought to give them the real thing... Meiru herself had hesitantly purchased four giri chocolates and one honmei chocolate. One for Tohru, one for Dekao, and one each for Saibaa and Gorudi, her classmates. The honmei-choco of course, was for Netto...though he'd probably be too dense to notice that his chocolate was bigger than Dekao's. Unless he was really hungry. I wonder who it's for? Surely not Netto... Probably Tohru, because Yaito barely tolerated Dekao half the time. Yes, it was surely meant for Tohru. I'll ask anyway.
"Nee, Yaito-chan...who's the honmei-choco for?"
Yaito's face immediately turned bright red. "Um...no one..."
"Ooh." Meiru poked her arm, grinning madly. "Got someone in mind for that?"
"N-no...it's just in case, you know?" The expression on Yaito's face was a cross between apprehension and embarrassment, forcing Meiru to suspect that her best friend wasn't telling her everything.
"You would tell me if there was someone you liked, right?"
Yaito flushed bright pink. "O-of course."
"I, I...maybe there was someone I liked, a little..."
They locked eyes. "Yaito-chan...who?"
The blonde pouted stubbornly. "I'll tell you when I make up my mind about it. I promise."
"Someone I know?"
"How well do I know him?"
"Meiru-chan, I'll tell you. Later."
Meiru fell silent. Well...it couldn't be Netto...because she knows I like him...doesn't she?
I never did say anything. But it couldn't be...someone I knew, someone I knew well...would she be too bashful to say if it was Netto? Since they're always fighting...
"Why won't you say? Do you think I won't approve of this guy?"
Yaito stared steadily. "I don't know if you will or not. It's a little...embarrassing. This guy. He's kind of rude, and awfully uncouth. But he's nice. I really hope you don't...mind, when you find out who it is."
Rude? That rules out Tohru...and that's Netto in a nutshell. Why else would I 'mind' her liking a guy...? The oven timer interrupted Meiru's thoughts, and Yaito sprang to her feet, shattering the tension. "Done!"
Meiru pushed her uncertainties to the back of her mind. "Okay, now we just pop them out of the mould, and decorate..."
Hours later Meiru left the Ayano-Kouji house, satisfied that Yaito could handle the rest on her own. The blonde was competent, after all, even if she was used to having everything done for her. That Yaito-chan...wouldn't it be just terrible if she liked Netto after all? Maybe I shouldn't... But she shook her head, clenching the bag in her hand. She can give Netto all the giri-choco she likes, that's not going to stop ME from giving him mine! Even still, Meiru felt a little guilty that she might be betraying her best friend...
She stopped in front of the Hikari house. This is the last one. But she had come this far, and gotten so close...it was time to put her fears behind her, and put her worries about Yaito behind her, and just do it.
She knocked on the door. "Hi, Netto..."
Yaito had chosen her scooter as her form of transportation for this "mission." She didn't dare ask her chauffeur to drive her, lest anyone find out exactly what she was doing. After all, it wouldn't do for her to be consorting with such a boy.
Yaito turned and slowed as she reached Netto's house, coming to a complete stop in front of the brightly-lit home. Meiru and Netto were silhouetted in the doorway, the yellow porch light spilling over them both. Meiru stared at the ground, her blush evident even from Yaito's vantage point across the street. The blonde smiled. "That's so cute! I bet she gave him honmei-choco this year!"
"Yaito-sama," Glyde urged, "I suggest you deliver your packages before the servants notice you're missing."
"Quiet, Glyde! I don't want to interrupt...I can come back later to give Netto his after she's gone." Tossing a braid over her shoulder, the young heiress continued down the street and to the Metroline station.
It has taken a lot of sacrifice to get this far, Yaito decided, and she wasn't stopping now. She got off the train in Densan City and marched proudly into the Science Labs, determined not to lose her courage.
Unfortunately, as she entered the building, her resolved faltered and she hesitated. What was she doing? Her friends would never approve of this...and her father would kill her if he knew just who her crush had settled on.
And suddenly, before she could even begin to argue with herself, he was there, wandering in the lobby. "Hi...I wasn't expecting you see you here."
"T-that is..." The young Netbattler put her hands on her hips, trying to come up with a suitable response (or at least a good insult). "It was Valentine's, so I thought I'd bring you something."
He raised an eyebrow. "Really."
All of a sudden she felt foolish. "Well, I bet you didn't get any chocolate from other girls. Didn't want you to feel left out."
He shrugged, neither agreeing or denying.
Her wit abandoned her all at once, and so she mutely handed him the gift-wrapped box. "Here."
"Thanks." He unwrapped it and broke a piece off, tasting it. Yaito tried not to reveal her anxiety. "Not bad. Did you make it?"
"It's good." He graced her with a smile. If he knew that it was honmei-choco and not giri-choco he did not say. Somehow, she was grateful. "Thank you."
"Y-you're welcome...well...I have to get home." she stuttered, and fled. "Happy Valentine's Day, Enzan."
"You too." He hesitated in the lobby and watched her go, the glass doors swinging shut behind the blonde braids. She...made chocolate for me? "That kid..."
Enzan broke off another piece of the bar and put the rest in his pocket, walking to the door through which she had left. He stood there for a long time, following her with his eyes. Honmei-chocolate. I wonder...
As she disappeared into the Metroline station, the boy turned his back on the scene and strode back to the lobby. Blues called for his attention a moment later. "What was that about, Enzan-sama? She gave you a present?"
"A silly tradition, Blues. All it does is provide males with more sugar than they need, and girls with more unrequited love than they can handle." His face was expressionless. "I get more chocolate than I could possibly eat, and all these girls are certain they've stolen my heart."
"I can't be so easily bought," he said, raising an eyebrow.
"Not even by her?"
Was that a teasing tone in his Navi's voice? Enzan tried to glare at Blues. "It's just a stupid holiday."
"It's nothing, Blues. Just a foolish holiday." Still, he found that he could not stop a slight smile.
*If you thought that she was going to give the chocolate to Yuuichirou, let me know. I want to know whether I scared anybody. :P
Arigatou to Gaia and her muses, Cyber, Goldy, Omega, and the gang. :) Happy Valentine's Day!