Written for the 24 Hour Valentine's Day Challenge.
Ironically, Uchi stopped receiving homemade chocolates for Valentine's Day when he was sixteen years old, just around the time when most boys his age started getting them. When he was younger his mother had made them for him, but that stopped when he was twelve and entered Johnny's. A young man with a career was too old and mature to have his mother be his sweetheart, his mom said, and it might have hurt a little to hear that but for the proud smile she gave him.
In any case, as soon as his mother stopped making him chocolates, the girls in his class started. Uchi had always been popular with them, and it was nice but not really a surprise when each year more and more of them started giving him homemade truffles and chocolate hearts. And then NewS debuted and Uchi left school, and his circle of girl friends became almost non-existent. Girls still sent him homemade chocolates, of course, that they mailed to the Jimusho, but he never actually got to keep them because they might be poisoned or stuck with needles or something.
He was allowed to keep what he wanted of the other little presents that he received, not just on Valentine's Day, but throughout the year. This most often consisted of stuffed animals, shoujo manga (often with interlinear notes written inside casting Uchi as the hero and the sender as the heroine), and girls' underwear. None of which compared very favorably to chocolate in Uchi's mind, even if Ryo used to do wickedly funny imitations of the manga storylines sometimes on the shinkansen when they were bored but too wired to sleep.
So it was something of a surprise when Uchi went down to breakfast on Valentine's Day to find a prettily wrapped box sitting by his plate. He cast a look at his mother, half-fearing for a moment that the chocolate was some long delayed criticism, that she was saying that since he wasn't properly a member of Johnny's anymore, he wasn't mature in her eyes anymore, either. And it would have been deserved, too, he knew that...but his mother just wasn't that cruel. She knew something though; that was obvious by the way she wouldn't catch his eye.
"Mmm?" she asked, still without looking up from the stove.
"Where'd the chocolate come from?"
Her cheeks turned a little pink, which Uchi watched with fascination and a bit of concern. "One of your bandmates brought them, but he didn't want me to tell you who."
Uchi's heart beat a little faster, and he got up from his seat to wrap an arm around his mother's waist. "That's strange," he said as casually as he could manage. "I bet it was Yoko. It seems like something he'd do for a joke. Or maybe Maru."
His mother shook her head, blushing harder. "It was Yasu," she whispered, and Uchi felt as though he'd suddenly been doused with cold water.
Yasu? He liked Yasu well enough--they'd been friends for ages, and in any case Yasu was way too sweet for anyone to dislike--but that didn't mean he liked him like that. And while Uchi had become at least somewhat accustomed to having girls confess to him, he'd never had to deal with a confession coming from a boy. He'd especially never had to deal with a confession coming from a boy who'd been one of his best friends for close to seven years. The fact that there was a small, stupid part of him that had hoped the chocolates might have come from someone else only made it worse, and the combination of worry and disappointment twisted painfully in Uchi's stomach.
His mother was watching him for his reaction, though, so Uchi gave her the best smile he could manage and said, "Subaru must have talked him into it. It's not the sort of thing that Yasu would come up with on his own, but Subaru could make anything seem funny if he said it the right way."
"You boys," his mother said, shaking her head fondly, and Uchi gave her a quick hug. His appetite was mostly gone, but he managed to choke down the food she'd put on his plate before he grabbed his box of chocolates and headed back upstairs to his room.
The box he placed on his desk as gingerly as though it were a ticking bomb. Maybe he could just ignore it? After all, Yasu couldn't know that Uchi's mother had divulged his secret; maybe it would be for the best to keep silent and let the entire incident be forgotten. And if there were any awkwardness if and when Uchi returned to work and had to interact with Yasu on a daily basis once again...well, the two of them could just deal with it then.
Even with the emotional tumult of the morning, getting his usual phone call from Ryo later that day made everything seem less troubling. There was a brief pause after they exchanged greetings, and then Ryo said, "So, how was your Valentine's Day?"
The idea of telling him about Yasu's gift flashed through his mind and was as quickly dismissed. "Um, it was fine. My mother made heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast. They were really cute. How was yours?"
"Busy," Ryo said shortly.
Uchi frowned a little when that was all he said. "Laying down more tracks for the album?" he prompted.
"Yeah. Not much of a holiday, huh?" Ryo asked.
"It's not even six o'clock yet. You could still celebrate it," Uchi said, forcing himself to continue over the sudden tightness in his throat. "Call up a pretty girl and ask her to dinner, or something." He held his breath after he'd finished speaking, knowing exactly how he would feel if Ryo agreed that that was a good idea. Somehow, that never made him stop making these sorts of suggestions. He wasn't sure if that made him a good friend or a masochist, or maybe just an idiot.
"I'm too tired for something like that," Ryo said finally. "I think I'll just go to bed early. I probably shouldn't have even called you, but I..."
"I'm glad you did," Uchi said when it became evident that Ryo wasn't going to finish his sentence. "It's good to hear what's happening with the group, even if I can't be there."
"Yeah, well..." Ryo gave a brief snort of laughter. "What else are friends for, right?"
They chatted a little longer, even though Ryo sounded tired and distracted; Uchi was disappointed but not surprised when he pleaded exhaustion and promised to call again the next day, that they could talk more then.
An hour later, his phone beeped with an incoming text message, and Uchi blinked at it in some confusion when it turned out to be from Ryo. Even if Ryo hadn't just said an hour ago that he was going straight to bed...Ryo hated texting him; he always called instead. And then Uchi checked the actual message, which read:
Yasu said he delivered the chocolates. We don't have to talk about it if you don't want. Sorry if I made things awkward.
Uchi's jaw dropped. Then he rushed to open the box of chocolates and spilled the contents onto his desk. Chocolate truffles, which dusted the surface of his desk with cocoa powder and espresso, and a letter that he opened with fingers that trembled embarrassingly.
Ryo's surprisingly neat handwriting stared up at him, and Uchi barely managed to read the letter for the tears that welled up in his eyes. Before he'd even finished it, he was already reaching for his phone and dialing Ryo's number.
"Hey," Ryo said, his voice a bit wary and guarded.
"Hi," Uchi said waterily.
"Oh, shit, are you--" Ryo began, sounding somewhere between guilty and exasperated, and Uchi interrupted, "I didn't know it was from you. I'm sorry, Ryo-chan. I didn't know."
"Oh." There was a long silence, in which Uchi tried unsuccessfully to keep from crying, and then Ryo said, a little uncertainly, "So, do you mean that you..."
"Yes," Uchi said, laughing suddenly through his tears.
Ryo took a sharp breath, and then he said, "Can I come over?"
Uchi's heart skipped a beat before it started pounding doubletime in his chest, but he managed to say, "Absolutely. Come over right now."
"Okay," Ryo said, his grin obvious in his voice. "And then I'm going to kill you for what you put me through today."
"What I put you through?" Uchi said, as indignantly as he could while he was still laughing. "You made me think that I was going to have to turn down Yasu! You had it easy in comparison."
Ryo spluttered a little in response, and then he said, "Whatever, I'm leaving now. We can argue about it more when I'm at your house."
"All right," Uchi said and ended the call.
As far as promises went, that one wasn't quite on par with the last one Ryo had made him, when he'd said, half a year ago, "We'll wait for you. All of us," while the rest of Kanjani8 nodded their agreement. But it was pretty damned close.