What's Inside
A Kodomo no Omocha Fanfic
Sana examined the chocolates in the display case with extreme care, anxiously chewing her bottom lip as she tried -- without success -- to make her selection. Tomorrow was Valentine's Day -- the first that she and Hayama had celebrated together -- and it seemed terribly important that his gift be something special.

Something that reminded her of him.

Milk chocolates had been discarded without a second thought, or even a second's consideration.  They were too sweet and too simple, too ordinary and too... obvious.  No, for his shadows and his silences, sorrows and many-faceted personality... she needed something more mysterious.

Dark chocolate.

Somehow the thought was decadent, making the shopping just a little more fun, even if it didn't make the actual buying any easier.  She frowned, slowly pacing along the elegant glass counter, eyeing each new possibility with something akin to disdain.  Truffles were too girlish, and the chocolate bars too plain; chocolate kisses were trite and cloying, and the non pareils seemed somehow... stuffy.

"Can I help you?"

Caught in the act of glaring at the hapless display case, Sana could only smile sheepishly at the young saleswoman.  "Eeto," she faltered, embarrassed, "I'm looking for a Valentine's Day present."

The older girl nodded encouragingly.  "Anything in particular?"

Sana hesitated a moment, then blurted, "Something that's unusual, but that surprises you with how different it is on the inside than on the outside -- like a person who at first impression seems one way and then turns out to be something else."

Cocking her head slightly to one side, seemingly unsurprised by either the long flow of words or the request, the shopgirl considered.  "Milk chocolate or dark?"

"Dark."  Shifting nervously from foot to foot, Sana awaited the older girl's advice.

Brown eyes lit approvingly.  "I think I have the very thing."

The gift box was around four inches square, and was tied with a pink-chocolate ribbon. It made an interesting rattling sound when Hayama took it out of his locker -- more like marbles than confections -- which somehow declared the giver to be Sana-chan more loudly than any gift-tag ever could.  Curious, he loosed the satin ribbon and opened the box, smiling a little when he found the note inside.  They remind me of you, it read in her cheerfully direct manner, even if the English name for them means 'polite'.  Rolling his eyes at her teasing, he removed the card from the box to reveal a half-pound of some sort of chocolate balls.  Marbles, he thought again, rolling one between two fingers and eyeing it suspiciously.  Why do they remind her of me?

He was still wondering ten chocolates later, when he met her in front of the school. They walked three blocks -- Sana chattering and Hayama listening patiently --- before he finally gave in and asked her:  "Why?"

Her face fell with disappointment, needing no explanation to know he was asking about the chocolates.  "Didn't you like them?"

"Of course I did," he answered, relieved to see her smile return as quickly as it had fled, "but... why do they remind you of me?"

Sana's eyes twinkled merrily as she leaned into him to whisper her explanation, and she giggled delightedly as he flushed with embarrassment.

"Am not," he muttered, frowning reprovingly at her.  Sana merely smiled, his surly response neither offending nor fooling her in the slightest.  He sighed, still blushing, and accepted when she offered him her hand for the rest of the walk.

And if his hold were a little tighter than usual, she didn't comment.

Author's notes and random babbling:

  1. In Japan, Valentine's Day is a holiday on which young women give gifts of chocolate to the men they like. The men reciprocate on White Day in March.
  2. Chocolate cordials consist of a chocolate outer coating surrounding a hard sugar shell filled with flavored syrup. The dark chocolate on the outside is rich, but has a sharper, more bitter flavor than milk chocolates. However, once you bite through the hard sugar core they're surprisingly -- even startlingly -- sweet.

Sekihara Tae
February 14, 2000