“Is it just me or is niisan acting weird?” Hyde asked, watching his oldest brother spy on Shirota Mahiru from behind a potted plant. Kuro waved one hand frantically at his siblings in a ‘shut up’ motion.
“Definitely unusual.” Hugh agreed, frowning. Mahiru turned and headed to rejoin the others, carrying tea and soda with perfect ease. Kuro tensed and changed into a cat, launching himself at his youngest brother. Snow Lilly caught him with an amused smile.
Mahiru paused, “Kuro, don't do that when I’m walking. I could’ve dropped this.”
“You wouldn't have. You're the perfect housewife.” Kuro replied, nodding proudly.
“I’m not a housewife, you damned NEET!” Mahiru snapped as he placed the cups on the coffee table.
“Housewife! Housewife!” Kuro called. “Mama-hiru!”
Mahiru threw his hands in the air, “Weirdo.”
Mahiru stormed off, grumbling about stupid pet cats. Kuro changed back to his vampire form, hugging Lilly with a sigh.
“Why are you shaking?” Lilly asked. “Are you getting sick?”
“I’m a vampire. I don't get sick.” Kuro muttered.
“So why are you avoiding Mahiru?” Hyde frowned.
“Bold of you to assume I’m not trying to avoid everyone.” Kuro replied.
“Ah. But you like being around him. What changed?”
Kuro squirmed slighyly, “Dunno. Couple weeks ago, I noticed I started shaking around him. Like, hardcore shaking. Like I haven't had enough sugar kind of shaking.”
“What?” Hyde gaped.
“Anything else?” Lilly asked.
“Same thing happens if I think about him. I just. Start shaking.” Kuro pulled away from his brother, teeth chattering.
“Curious.” Hugh stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Anything else?”
“Um… what do you think is wrong with me?” Kuro asked, glancing around the table.
“Oh, nothing, nothing.” Lilly answered with a smile. “But are you experiencing anything else?”
“My chest feels tight. And warm. I stop breathing sometimes.” Kuro answered, head bowed. He tugged at the fur on his hood to hide his face.
Kuro looked up, “What was that?”
Hyde had a hand clamped firmly over his mouth, “Nothing. Hnnnk.”
Kuro squinted, “Are you… laughing at me?”
“No! No, I’d never- hnnnk!” Hyde’s shoulders shook as he clamped his other hand over the first. “I’m not laughing, I swear!”
“This is serious! Something’s wrong with me!” Kuro insisted.
“No, no, nothing’s wrong with you. These are perfectly normal responses!” Lilly assured, smiling widely. “Oh, my big brother is growing up!”
“He means you're crushing on your Eve.” Hugh explained. At this, Hyde erupted into laughter, flailing and falling from his perch on the arm of the chair.
Kuro stared, “No way. No way. I’m not? I can't? Mahiru? We? No?”
“Hyde, stop laughing! This is serious!”
“NIISAN’S GOT THE GAY SHAKES FOR HIS EVE!” Hyde roared, legs kicking in the air as he struggled to breathe.
“The what, now?”
“Gay shakes. You shake around your crush.” Lilly explained.
“I am so not crushing on him.” Kuro denied, gaze averted.
“Niisan has a big gay crush on his Eve~!” Hyde spoke in a singsong manner.
“Stop picking on me or I won't trade you the Marshadow I got.” Kuro threatened.
“It’s perfectly ok to crush on him. He’s actually the only person you’ve gotten close to who didn't reject you. He accepts you completely and strives to help you. You two were both alone and don't tell me you wouldn't slaughter a room full of humans or vampires to save him.” Lilly giggled.
“I would, but isn't that normal?” Kuro frowned.
“Well, sure, but I don't avoid Misono like the plague and feel like I can't breathe when I think of him.” Lilly retorted.
Kuro grumbled and kept his gaze on his hands. Hyde sat up, grinning broadly. Hugh chuckled.
“Now, we must help our brother!” Hugh announced.
“What? No thanks. That's too troublesome.” Kuro shrank away.
“Really, we have to. You support us and our subclass! Of course we’ll help!” Lilly beamed.
“Valentine’s Day is soon.” Hyde added. “We could plan a date for them?”
“But what would Mahiru like?” Lilly wondered aloud.
“Our big brother could do the household chores.” Hugh suggested. “Mahiru Shirota works too hard.”
“He likes being a housewife. He feels like a self-reliant adult.” Kuro interrupted.
“Dinner date!” Hyde blurted. “Niisan makes the dinner! Candles, flowers, the works!”
“He may be my housewife, but I am not his husband.” Kuro sighed.
“Oh, hush. You’ll enjoy it.” Hugh waved his brother’s protests away.
“Misono, has Kuro been… acting weird around me?” Mahiru asked, frowning.
“Well, he’s always weird, but is something wrong?” Misono responded, arms across his chest as one of Lilly’s subclass drew a picture of him.
“He won't look at me lately. He mostly looks at the floor or his shoes or his pant legs. Unless he thinks I’m not looking. And then he just… stares at me.”
Misono glanced over, “Well, that is weird.”
“He also makes these, like, strangled gasps. Like he’s in pain or something. And he hides behind plants, lamps, walls, and doors frequently. He fidgets. A lot.” Mahiru listed the symptoms.
Misono arched an eyebrow, “Really?”
“I’m sure it's nothing.” Lilly responded smoothly, adjusting his jacket.
Tetsu shrugged, “Maybe he’s sick.”
“Demons don't get sick.” Licht snorted as he tapped his DS screen a few times.
“Hey, what's everyone planning for Valentine’s Day?” Lilly asked.
“Well, I’ll probably have a discount at the hot springs.” Tetsu answered. “I hope we get customers.”
“Mikuni is coming by the mansion.” Misono added. “He said he was bringing someone. I didn't know he had a girlfriend, though.”
Mahiru shook his head with a smile, “He’s dating Tsurugi.”
“I thought they hated each other, though?” Tetsu blinked slowly.
“Oh. Well, when I came back from grocery shopping the other week and saw them all over each other, I just assumed they worked through their issues.” Mahiru shrugged.
Misono shrieked, “What a violent pairing! They won't last!”
“There's a fine line between love and hate.” Lilly interjected.
“If that was true, I’d be dating that damned rat.” Licht protested.
Misono stared, “Uh… you two are dating.”
Licht paused, looked over his shoulder, then shook his head, “No we’re not.”
“Hyde told us as much!” Misono insisted.
“Well then, he was lying.”
“We all saw you two on a date.”
“You saw nothing of the sort.”
“Methinks thou dost protest too much.” Lilly laughed. Licht glared but turned his attention back to his game.
“Anyway, I guess I’ll just cook and clean and watch TV while Kuro avoids me and mocks couples in the movies.” Mahiru answered with a sigh.
“Do you want him to do anything in particular for the holiday?” Misono asked.
“Honestly, even if we’re just partners, he could buy me flowers.” Mahiru muttered. “I’d straight up die if I was given flowers.”
Lilly pulled out his cell and tapped away at the screen.
Mahiru eyed him, “What are you doing?”
“Oh, nothing.” he answered with a sly smile.
Mahiru snorted, “Vampires.”
Mahiru leaned against the doorway, watching Kuro read a book, stretched out lazily on Mahiru’s bed instead of his uncle’s bed. He had a small container of ice cream beside the book, the spoon hovering over the container. Kuro flipped a page slowly, frowned, then flipped it back.
Kuro jumped and looked up, red eyes wide. “Uh.”
“Are you ok?”
“Ah.” Kuro lowered his gaze. “Um. Just… reading.”
Kuro blushed, “Ah jeez.”
“What? What?” Mahiru lunged for the book. Kuro snatched it up and jumped into the air. “Kuro! Are you reading something dirty?!”
“Hardly.” he landed a few feet away, the book pressed tight against his chest. “I just. Am not ready to share.”
Mahiru stood up, hands up in a peaceful gesture, “Alright. Sorry I pushed.”
Kuro relaxed, “It's ok.” He sat in front of Mahiru’s bed with a sigh. “It’s… a secret, but you’ll find out tomorrow, ok?”
“Ok.” Mahiru smiled.
“So stay out until dinner, ok?”
“Kuro, are you going to cook dinner?” Mahiru asked, slowly smiling.
“You’ll find out. Hang out with your human friends if you can. I’ll call you.” Kuro stroked the cover of the book with a soft gaze. “Ok?”
Mahiru beamed, “Alright.”
Valentine’s Day with his friends was relaxing, the kind of vampire free vacation he’d needed. He was sure to stay close enough to Kuro that he wouldn't suffer, but far enough away that they could have fun. Finally Kuro called and Mahiru excused himself, smiling as he unlocked the door to his apartment. As the door seung open, he froze, mouth open and eyes wide.
Kuro was dressed fairly casually, but in a strangely fashionable way. His normal hoodie had been ditched, exposing a plain white tee, tucked neatly into slim fitting khakis. His normal black boots had been replaced with black sneakers. The bell hung loose, ringing quietly if he moved.
Mahiru looked past him to the dining table. Two white scented candles burned, illuminating the centerpiece, which was deep red roses arranged neatly into a clear vase. All the lights were turned off, even the TV.
“I, ah…” Kuro looked away, “Would you… um. Be my. My uh… my, well, would you be my Valentine?”
Mahiru broke into a grin, “Of course!” He stepped towards the seat and Kuro was suddenly behind him, hands on the chair. Mahiru sat down, “I didn't know you were a gentleman.”
“Basic etiquette.” Kuro pushed the chair closer to the table. “Wait here.” He headed toward the kitchen, returning with a cup of tea for Mahiru and a cup of soda for himself. Once his hands were free, Kuro lef and returned with plates of food. Once the table was covered with food, he sat down, pulling a book out and holding it up.
“You wouldn't guess it but… I liked to cook for my siblings. There were a few recipes I saved from back then, and I wanted to do something nice for you.” Kuro lifted his gaze, red eyes filled with an emotion Mahiru couldn't identify. “Lilly said you wanted flowers. Uh.” He pulled a single white rose out of seemingly nowhere and held it out.
Mahiru accepted it with a smile, “This is great. But Kuro, I didn't get you anything!”
Kuro shook his head, “Just having dinner with me is enough.”
Mahiru froze, wordless as he realized the expression in Kuro’s eyes, “Oh.”
“Just… eat, ok? I promise it's safe.” Kuro put the book on the ground. “I even made dessert. Chocolate lava cakes.”
“You're so sweet.” Mahiru whispered.
“I said that you're so sweet.” Mahiru repeated louder. Kuro dropped his fork, eyes wide.
“I just… well you know… it's um… that one thing…” Kuro mumbled, picking up his fork and poking at the food.
“What thing?” Mahiru asked innocently.
Kuro nibbled at the cooked chicken, “I’m trying to eat. Talking and eating is rude. And tonight, I’m not a NEET.”
“You're only the best vampire in the whole world.”
Kuro took a bite of the chicken, chewed, swallowed, then spoke quietly, “For you, I’d give and do anything. Do you know that?”
Mahiru blushed, “It's always nice to be told things, even if you know it.”
“You're an angel, Mahiru. In my eyes. Bright and beautiful. And, well… there.” Kuro stood, leaned across the table, careful of the lit candles, and kissed Mahiru’s cheek. Mahiru gaped. Kuro pulled away and started to sit down but Mahiru grabbed the vampire’s shirt, dragged him back and kissed his lips. Kuro broke away, turning into a cat and hiding his face in his paws.
Mahiru laughed, “You're adorable.”
“Thank you, Mahiru.” Kuro mumbled from under his paws.
Mahiru took a few bites before glancing down at the shy black kitty, “Are you going to eat or are you going to hide? I can't have a romantic dinner with a cat.”
Kuro kept his head ducked, taking a sip of his soda.
And when dessert was eaten, the Sloth pair watched movies, sitting close enough to almost touch. And Mahiru thought it was the best Valentine’s Day he’d ever had.