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Impressions of Flowers

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Kanda was in a foul mood.

This wasn’t exactly abnormal.  Kanda never had the best temperament, nor was he by nature a pleasant person.  He was easily agitated, and didn’t do well with others; he kept his distance for this reason, avoiding people when he could and staring down anyone who ever felt brave enough to approach him.  It had become something that was expected though.  People knew to keep their distance from the exorcist – they knew to do this, in order to avoid whatever stormy mood he might be in.

And today, Kanda had an especially stormy mood – one that Daisya was not helping.

“Sooooo,” Daisya said, as he leaned back in his chair.  They were seated at a long table – one that was a bit rickety, and down in the servants’ quarters of the castle.  Kicking his feet onto the table, Daisya tilted his chair back a bit farther.  “What did you get Alma?”

Kanda didn’t say anything, elbows on the table as he crossed his arms.  His jaw was tight, and his shoulders tense, with his gaze deliberately avoiding Daisya as he refused to answer the question.

Daisya blinked, as he raised an eyebrow.  “Um…you did get Alma something, right?”

To this, Kanda still looked off to the side without responding.

Daisya’s jaw dropped.  “Dude,” He said, genuinely shocked when he realized what Kanda’s silence meant.  “Kanda, you didn’t seriously forget that it’s his birthday next week, did you?”

Kanda’s head shot up, as he glared at Daisya scathingly.  “I didn’t forget,” He hissed, offended by the accusation.  

Kanda didn’t even know how Daisya could come to that conclusion – it was no secret that Alma’s birthday was swiftly approaching.  Everyone in the castle kept talking about it, with the servants hurrying to get everything ready for the upcoming party.  Honestly, Kanda had almost forgotten just how ostentatious royals were when it came to birthdays.  But with Alma being the crown prince, Kanda should have known that there was bound to be some celebration for it – even more so when just a few months ago the kingdom had thought their prince dead.

For that reason, Kanda couldn’t be too angry about it.  Except for the fact that he hadn’t gotten Alma anything yet.

“But you didn’t get him anything?  I thought he was like the love of your life,” Daisya said.   “I mean, even I got him something!”

Kanda’s head whipped in Daisya’s direction, and he glared.  “What the hell?  What did you get him?”

Daisya grinned.  “Like five jars of mayo,” He said.  “Two were even imported from Lyons.”

“The fuck?  Why would you get him that?” Kanda questioned. 

“Um, because for whatever reason he’s crazy about the stuff – don’t be pissy because I was a genius and thought of it first,” Daisya clipped back.

Kanda sneered, as he turned his face away.  He kept his arms crossed, as he looked off to the side like some stubborn, angry child.  Even if the gift was stupid, Kanda couldn’t deny that he was thoroughly irritated by the fact that Daisya had somehow gotten something for Alma when Kanda couldn’t even think of anything – and he had just a little less than a week away too.

Taking his feet off of the table, Daisya leaned forward.  “Okay, but seriously,” He said, as he eyed Kanda.  “You’ve at least thought of something, haven’t you?”

Kanda gritted his teeth, without answering.

Daisya sighed in exasperation.  “Kanda, you’re killing me here.”

“Well, what the hell am I supposed to give him?” Kanda snapped, as he looked back at Daisya while throwing his hand up.  “He practically has everything already!  And everyone else is going to be giving him more things!”

Daisya looked at Kanda, his dark eyes observing.  A realization appeared to click though, as a thought passed through Daisya’s mind. 

“Ohhh,” Daisya said, as he smirked.  An oddly knowing look appeared in his eyes, as he peered at Kanda.  “I get it now.  You’re worried that whatever you get him won’t be good enough.”

Kanda stiffened.  Quickly, he broke eye contact.  “Tch.  That’s not what it is,” He mumbled.

“Come on,” Daisya said.  “You know that you could give Alma a stick and he’d love it until his dying day if it came from you.”

“I’m not giving him a stick,” Kanda sneered, as he turned to glare at Daisya.  “There’s no way I’d ever give him that crap!”

Daisya raised an eyebrow, as he grinned.  “So I’m right?”

Kanda went rigid, as he immediately realized that he had been caught.  Ears burning, he looked away.

“For real.  Just get something that reminds you of him – you know how Alma is.  He’ll appreciate anything,” Daisya said.  “It’s not like he’s going to compare gifts.  Alma’s not like that.”

As Daisya said this, Kanda could feel himself relax a bit.  He knew that Daisya had a point.  While some royals were more materialistic and superficial, Alma definitely wasn’t that way – Kanda had learned that well enough already. 

Still…that didn’t mean that Kanda would just get Alma some random piece of crap.

Daisya once more leaned back on his chair, a somewhat thoughtful look in his eyes.  “You know, you could always ask Marie for advice – maybe he’d go into town with you to look for something,” Daisya suggested, before he grinned impishly.  “Or you could ask Lavi – he and that Bookman just got here this morning since they were invited for Alma’s birthday.”

Kanda’s nose immediately scrunched into disgust.  “No way in hell,” He spat, immediately put off by the thought of asking Lavi for any help.  Marie, possibly – but even that Kanda was wary on.  He was under enough pressure as it was, and he didn’t know if he’d want someone hovering over his shoulder.

“Alright, alright,” Daisya said, as he threw his hands up in the air.  “It was just a suggestion.”

“Tch,” Kanda grumbled, before he pushed his chair back to stay.  Grabbing his cloak off of the back, he put it on.

Without even needing an explanation as to where Kanda was going, Daisya grinned.  “Good luck,” He sang.  “I’ll make sure to tell people I have no idea where you went if they ask.”

Kanda glanced back at Daisya in annoyance.  However, he didn’t say anything as he stalked out of the room.

The servants’ quarters had quite a few people in it – enough that Kanda nearly ran into a few maids as he tried to navigate his way down the back hall.  He only spared them a cold glarthough, earning a few yelps as the maids scurried off.  Kanda didn’t care; he had other things to worry about.

Like getting Alma a birthday gift.

Kanda exhaled, as he exited out of the servants’ quarters and into one of the main corridors of the castle.  Just what was he supposed to get Alma?  Daisya may have been right in that Alma wasn’t going to judge gifts, but that didn’t want to just get Alma anything.  Not when Alma was so sweet, and wonderful, and…well, just deserved the best. 

But, the problem that Kanda kept running into was that Alma was the prince – he already had so much, and other nobles would undoubtedly be sending Alma expensive presents and finery.  Kanda didn’t exactly have an endless amount of money either, so how was he supposed to compete with that?  How could he compete with that?

A low growl of frustration escaped Kanda.  He closed his eyes, as he brought his fingers to the bridge of his nose.  Damn it, he needed to figure something out soon…


Kanda turned, somewhat startled by the informal use of his name.  He quickly recognized the warmth of the voice though, and as he looked he immediately felt his heart skip as he caught sight of a pair of sparkling blue eyes, and an adoringly sweet smile.

Alma rushed up to Kanda, beaming with mirth as his smile remained bright.  “Yuu, I didn’t know you were around!  I didn’t see you when I was training with Klaud this morning,” Alma said.

Kanda didn’t say anything, though he quickly realized he was staring.  Snapping out of his daze, he rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly.  “Um.  Yeah, I was helping with some stuff in the gardens…”

Alma blinked.  “Oh, right!” He said, as his smiled returned.  “I’m so happy you’ve been able to garden out there – I know how much you like it.  Is it hard with the weather though?  It’s so cold out now, and with the snow it must be hard for much to grow…”

Kanda shrugged.  “Some flowers still do.  The evening primroses and jasmine flowers are fine,” He said.  “Anyways. The gardens still need to be taken care of so they’re okay in the spring and summer…”

Alma nodded.  “That makes sense,” He said, before looking somewhat sheepish.  “I do sort of wish there were more flowers year-round – they’re so pretty in the spring.  But it’ll be something to look forward to.”

There was a slight pause, before Alma looked at Kanda curiously, taking note of his cloak.  “So, were you going somewhere?” Alma chirped.

Kanda blinked, somewhat caught on the spot.  “Um, yeah,” He said, as he tried to think of a vague enough answer to give Alma.  “I have to…run some errands.”

“Oh, can I come?” Alma asked.  “Things have been so busy now that my mother is having me attend all these meetings, and we haven’t been able to see each other lately – it could be fun!”

Kanda tensed.  Without thinking, he rushed an answer, the response coming out abrasively.  “No.”

Upon hearing this, Alma’s face fell – which immediately caused a pool of regret to overtake Kanda.  Alma just appeared so disappointed, with slight look of hurt in his eyes.

“Oh,” Alma said, as he rubbed his arm somewhat uneasily.  “Um…that’s okay.  We don’t have to…”

As Alma said this, Kanda wanted to kick himself.  He hadn’t meant to hurt Alma’s feelings, and now he had just come off like a total jerk.  Uncomfortably, Kanda gnashed his teeth, as he tried to think of what to say.

“It…it’s not personal,” Kanda said, as he looked at Alma.  “I just…have some things I have to do.”

Alma nodded, though he still seemed a bit downtrodden.  “Yeah, I get it,” Alma said, eyes somewhat avoidant.  “It’s fine.”

Kanda frowned.  Despite Alma’s words, Kanda doubted that it was fine.  Alma was still avoiding eye contact, and he had that look about him: the kind that Alma always had whenever he was upset or bothered by something.

Exhaling, Kanda took a step closer to Alma.   “Hey,” He said, as he took Alma’s hand.

Alma blinked, as he looked at Kanda.  There was a slightly confused look in his eyes, though the faint tinge of hurt remained.

Kanda tried not to let the guilt overcome him, as he spoke.  “I’ll…make it up to you, alright?  I know we haven’t spent a lot of time together lately, and I want to,” Kanda said, the words a bit strained and awkward.  He was never good at saying these things.  “I promise I will.”

As Kanda said this, something in his words seemed to ease Alma.  Slowly, a small smile appeared on his face, as he looked at Kanda.  “Okay,” He said, before he gave Kanda a quick peck on the cheek.  “I’ll hold you to it.”

Kanda felt a slight flush appear on his face from the kiss, as he felt Alma squeeze his hand.  Ears hot, Kanda looked off to the side.  “I’ll see you later.”

Alma nodded, as he let go of Kanda’s hand.  “Alright,” Alma said.

Kanda didn’t say anything more, as he turned to leave, as he silently hoped that he would be able to keep his promise to Alma.

The town outside of the castle was bustling.  People were out shopping for goods and running errands, with vendors displaying their best finery and trinkets of all sorts.  Gifts, jewelry, baked goods – there were no shortages of things to look at, with people crowding about and filling the streets with their chatter. 

It was not just the day-to-day errands and goods that were creating such a lively atmosphere though.  Bright banners of silver and gold were hung throughout the town in honor of the prince’s birthday, with streamers to match and all sorts of festive decorations to complement the light dusting of snow that had befallen the town.   People appeared in high spirits, with the event signifying a celebration for all – almost as though the event were a holiday.

For Kanda, it was just another reminder that he was really cutting it too close with finding a gift.

He frowned, somewhat pensive as he looked around.  There were different vendors out, with some having created new displays on the streets to lure people into their shops.  Clothing, jewelry, knick-knacks – there was so much to look at, that it was practically overwhelming.  Especially considering how crowded it was.

Needless to say, Kanda hated being there.

He shook his head, as he tried to focus.  Kanda couldn’t leave just yet – now when he had yet to find something for Alma. 

‘Just find something,’ Kanda tried to tell himself.  ‘Just find something – how hard can it fucking be?’

Too hard, apparently.

Doing his best to ignore his frustrations, Kanda started to look around.  He passed one clothing boutique, though he only lasted five seconds before the shopkeeper irritated him too much, hovering about and repeatedly asking if Kanda needed anything.  Kanda could only glare daggers at the man before he stalked off, too agitated to utter a word.

The next attempt Kanda made was at a jewelry store.  Again, it was an option that quickly began to prove hopeless.  The jewelry pieces were pretty, but some were gaudy and overpriced – nothing like what Alma probably would have ever worn.  Besides, didn’t royals already have a lot of jewels?  Kanda didn’t even know what the hell he was doing there.

This trend continued on for the next hour or so, with Kanda stopping by different shops, each visit with nothing to show for.  Everything was just too plain or too much, with nothing even striking Kanda as a suitable gift for Alma. 

Finally, Kanda stepped outside – having just left another shop.  He was close to giving up, having nearly burnt himself out by going through more shops than he could count, surrounded by throngs of people and a cacophony of chatter.  Quickly, Kanda shoved his way past a group of people, as he hurried off to the edge of a building – just where there was a little more space near an alley.

Clasping at his cloak, Kanda exhaled once he was there.  His frustration remained though, as he realized that his trip might have been for nothing.  ‘Damn it…’

Suddenly, it struck Kanda that he might not be able to find something for Alma – but then what?  Would Alma be disappointed?  Would he be disappointed that everyone had gotten Alma a gift, except Kanda?  Honestly, Kanda hated the idea.  He never cared for gift-giving or festivities before, but this was Alma.  Alma who was so sweet, and so loving, and so thoughtful

Kanda just wanted to get Alma something…meaningful.

Kanda frowned, as he leaned back against the stone wall of the building.  ‘This is hopeless…’

“It’s Kanda!”

Kanda looked up, somewhat caught off guard by hearing his name.  His dark blue eyes skimmed the crowd of people passing by.  Kanda wasn’t sure where to look at first, until his attention finally stopped on the speaker: a small, freckled girl that couldn’t have been older than ten, with a man and woman – both of who Kanda recognized quickly enough.

Suman Dark looked over, his eyes landing on Kanda.  He was beside his wife, Anna, as their daughter Jaime bounded over to Kanda, a vibrant smile on her face.  Without warning, she wrapped her arms around Kanda, hugging him.  

“Kanda!” Jaime greeted, as she clung to him.  Brown eyes bright, she looked up at him hopefully.  “Did Alma come with you?”

Kanda remained somewhat rigid, having taken to the hug rather awkwardly.  By default, he never liked hugs or physical contact – but even he wasn’t about to push Jaime away.  Instead, he allowed for her to cling, as he mumbled a response.  

“No,” Kanda said, his thoughts once more returning to when he had run into Alma at the castle.  Again, he recalled how hurt Alma had looked when Kanda refused to spend any time with him, causing a fresh twinge of guilt to fester.

Anna walked over to Kanda, a warm smile on her face.  “We didn’t think we’d run into you today,” She said.  “It’s good to see you.”

Kanda looked back at Anna, words failing him.  He wasn’t exactly good at these conversations, despite how kind Anna could be; Kanda had only visited Suman’s family a few times since he had come to live in Engelus, usually because Alma would ask him to come.  After settling in, Alma had been eager to introduce Kanda to all the people he knew, with Suman’s family being one of them.  However, in those instances it had often been Alma who had done all of the talking, with Kanda more so hanging in the background.

Despite this, Kanda found himself trying to make…somewhat of an effort.  “Um.  Yeah,” He said, words a bit terse.  “It’s good to see you too.”

Suman looked over, seeing that Jaime was still clinging to Kanda.  “Come on, Jaime – you have to let him breathe.”

Jaime looked back at Suman.  “I haven’t seen Kanda in so long though!” She said, before she cut off, a small fit of a cough starting as she covered her mouth with her arm.

Reflex kicking in, Kanda steadied Jaime – but Anna had already swooped in, to pull Jaime away.

“Come here, sweetie,” Anna urged gently.  “It’s really cold today – we should probably go back soon.”

Jaime looked back at her mother, expression falling.  “Aw, but I wanted to help pick out Alma’s gift.”

Hearing this, Kanda’s ears perked up.  They were looking for something for Alma too?

“We can look for a few more minutes,” Suman said.  “But after that we should get you home – we don’t want you to catch another cold from being out too much.”

Jaime’s face lit up a bit at this, more than appeased by the compromise.  She looked back at Kanda, eyes hopeful.  “You should come with us!”

Kanda hesitated.  He normally would have refused on the spot, not wanting to be dragged around in a group of people.  However, the Dark family wasn’t…bad.  Actually, Kanda wasn’t ever agitated by their company.  Suman he knew a bit more since they had started to train together as exorcists, with them both living in the castle.  If anything, Suman was probably one of the few people Kanda actually felt like he could get along with.

Besides, maybe this would help him actually find something for Alma.

“Sure,” Kanda said, response short.

Jaime beamed, as Anna took her hand to start walking.  They went on ahead, though Suman paused, waiting for Kanda to catch up before speaking.

“What brings you into town?” Suman asked.  “Thought you usually hated crowds.”

Kanda frowned.  He looked off to the side as they walked, once more melting into the throng of townspeople.  Already, the buzz of energy was started to pinch at Kanda’s nerves, but he ignored it as he answered Suman.

“I’m…running an errand,” He said, words gruff.  Then, somewhat awkwardly, Kanda added.  “I’m trying to find something for Alma.”

Suman nodded in understanding.  “Gotcha,” He said, before he looked forward.  “Jaime wanted to get some things to make a wreath for him – Alma told us not to worry about it, but Jaime’s set on it.”

As they walked, Kanda didn’t say anything.  A small frown remained on his face.  A wreath was a nice idea, but Kanda obviously wasn’t going to get Alma that – not when someone else was already planning to give Alma such a thing.  It was a bit immature, but Kanda was actually a little frustrated; how was it a ten-year-old kid could think up a gift idea, but Kanda was just drawing a blank?

Fortunately, Suman didn’t say anything else to Kanda after that, leaving Kanda to stew.  As they continued on, Kanda’s eyes periodically shifted around the shops they were passing by, though again, none of them seemed to stand out.  It was all the same generic crap, and again, Kanda was beginning to feel hopeless.  

Glancing over, Suman noticed the somewhat unpleasant expression on Kanda’s face.  His brow furrowed a bit.  “You know, you’ll probably find something,” Suman said.  “There’s a lot of shops in this town, and it can get overwhelming.  If it wasn’t for Anna and Jaime I wouldn’t even bother venturing out.”

Kanda sneered quietly.  “It’s a damn pain.  There are too many pushy salespeople everywhere…”

Suman chuckled.  “Couldn’t have said it better myself.”

Kanda didn’t say anything else after that, with their small group eventually approaching a shop.  It was a smaller one – something of a hole in the wall, easy to miss and with far less traffic.  Suman grabbed the door, holding it for Anna and Jaime before he went inside, with Kanda in tow.

The inside of the shop wasn’t too bright; there were some candles lit to help illuminate the space.  It was a bit cramped inside, with only a few other people wandering around save for Suman’s family and Kanda.  Shelves were lined with different tools and items though, ranging from colored rope to vibrantly pigmented ribbons.  A few frames could be seen, with wooden pieces and a few blank, wooden boxes as well.

In looking around Kanda, realized that it was some kind of a craft shop.

Jaime and Anna walked over to one section, where some freshly cut plants and flowers were.  They began to look around, searching for materials to use for a wreath, while Kanda opted to walk around the shop.  Some of the items were actually a bit interesting to look at, though again, nothing really stood out to Kanda.  

‘Fucking nothing here either…’ Kanda though, expression twisting into one of annoyance.  Doubting he’d find anything, Kanda turned, planning to just leave – but paused as his shoulder knocked one of the shelves, causing something to fall.

Quickly, Kanda caught the object.  He blinked when he saw it was a book, with a plain, dark brown cover and a simple, floral-like border.  Without thinking, Kanda opened it, but frowned when he saw the pages were blank.

Well, that definitely seemed like a waste.  

“Find something?” Suman asked, as he walked over to where Kanda was.  His attention landed on the book, before he raised an eyebrow.  “Scrapbook?”

Kanda turned to Suman, a frown still on his face.  “What the hell would I even do with it?”

Suman shrugged.  “Whatever you want I guess,” Suman said.  “Anna thought about getting one once – to press flowers in.”

Kanda’s scowl deepened, as he looked at Suman in confusion.

“You know – pressing flowers?” Suman asked, before he explained.  “Some people press flowers into books to preserve them.”

Kanda blinked, a surprised look crossed his features.  Books could be used…to preserve flowers?

Alma smiled, as he looked at Kanda somewhat sheepishly.  “I do sort of wish there were more flowers year-round – they’re so pretty in the spring.”

The memory slipped into Kanda’s mind abruptly, so much that he couldn’t even think of responding to Suman in that moment.  Instead, all Kanda could do was think about what Alma had said, and think about how fond Alma was of flowers.

When Suman’s family had finished their shopping and was ready to leave, Kanda found himself purchasing the book to take with him as well.

The next week passed quickly for Alma.  Every day had been busy, with his schedule overrun by various meeting and activities.  Advisors, delegates – the list was never-ending, with Alma barely ever getting a moment to breathe.  Every time he turned around, there was another meeting, or some kind of council affair Alma had to attend to.  The meetings, the politics – it was honestly overwhelming.

The fact that Alma was also an exorcist didn’t help matters much either.  It was intense enough that he needed to try to maintain his exorcist training with Klaud, though more often than not those sessions had been moved around.  But, Alma had needed to make it work to the best of his ability.  He was juggling exorcist training, all while….well, preparing to be a leader eventually.  To take the throne when the time came, and help lead Engelus forward.

‘It’s so intense…’ Alma thought, as he tried to take a moment to breathe.  He had always known that he was going to one day take place as ruler, though until a few months ago, that had seemed like a far-off possibility more than a soon-to-be reality.  Often, Alma found himself questioning whether or not he would even be fit to do such a thing.  There was so much to do, and so much Alma still had to learn…

Alma took a breath.  Not tonight.  He worried enough as it was, but he had told himself that he wouldn’t worry tonight.

Changing his focus, Alma left his chambers.  He had just finished getting dressed for the evening, adorned in finery of pale blue and white gold.  The night of his birthday celebration had finally arrived, and it was an event he was rather excited for.  Usually, Alma wasn’t the most comfortable being in the center of attention; grandiose events didn’t exactly suit him, but at the same time, Alma was relieved to not be so leaden with responsibility, even just for a few hours.  Tonight, he’d be able to spend time with his friends, his family…and hopefully, Kanda.

Alma sighed, expression falling slightly.  The last week, Kanda had been somewhat evasive, really.  It wasn’t as though they had much time to see each other a lot to begin with, either.  Alma was the heir to the throne, and had a hectic schedule.  It was true that he was an exorcist as was Kanda, but Alma hadn’t even been able to train the same time as Kanda.  Lately, it felt as though they rarely saw each other, which was only more heart-wrenching considering they lived in the same castle.

Quietly, Alma wondered if Kanda was pulling back on purpose.

Alma tried to ignore the inkling, but it refused to budge.  It was silly, but Alma just actually couldn’t stop thinking about a week ago, when he had run into Kanda and asked to go into town with him.  Kanda had been so quick to shut the idea down – was Kanda maybe getting tired of Alma?  Kanda had promised he’d make it up to Alma, but with how absent Kanda had seemed lately…

Alma’s shoulders slumped.  ‘Maybe he just…doesn’t want to spend time together anymore…’ Alma thought, his spirit beginning to fall.

Alma steps slowing to a stop, Alma remained there in the corridor.  It was somewhat empty, with most people likely already having gone to the ballroom where the celebration would be taking place.  It was selfish, but Alma found himself not wanting to go just yet.  Alma just suddenly felt so downtrodden, and the thought of being in a large room with so many people expecting him with a smile on his face felt overwhelming.

‘Don’t be like that,’ Alma tried to tell himself.  ‘It’s not fair to everyone else…everyone is waiting for you so you should go.’

Taking a breath, Alma once more forced himself to walk forward.

There were footsteps ahead, causing Alma to look up.  As he did, he could see someone turn the corner to start down the hallway Alma was in-

Alma stilled, as soon as he saw it was Kanda.  “Yuu?”

Kanda stopped walking, as soon as his eyes landed on Alma.  He looked a bit caught off guard, almost as though he had the impulse to turn and leave – however, Kanda stayed, mouth clamped shut as he held something behind his back.

Alma approached Kanda, eyes inquiring.  “What are you doing down here?” Alma asked.  They were still technically in the wing of the castle where the royals’ bedchambers were – which wasn’t a place that anyone else ever came really.  “I thought you’d be with everyone else.”

Kanda shifted, as he looked off to the side awkwardly.  He was dressed in an exorcist uniform – a more formal one, due to the celebration taking place.  It was a bit stiff looking on Kanda though, and Alma could only imagine that Kanda was likely uncomfortable.

“Um,” Kanda said, as he kept whatever it was behind his back concealed.  “I was…going for a walk.”

Alma blinked, still perplexed.  He could see that Kanda was concealing something though, and again, Alma felt his intrigue pique.  

Alma tilted his head to the side.  “Do you have something?”

Kanda wavered, as he still kept his gaze averted.  His lips remained firmly pressed together, as no words seemed to come out.

Alma exhaled, shoulders falling.  At this point, he was beginning to feel like the conversation was strained, and he had no idea why Kanda was being so odd.  Again, Alma wondered if maybe it was something he was doing.

Rubbing his arm, Alma spoke.  “Um, I should probably get going…” Alma said quietly, as he started to walk on.

As soon as Alma said this, something in Kanda seemed to snap, and he reacted.

“Hey,” Kanda said, as he quickly caught Alma by the wrist.

Alma turned back, bewildered by the sudden change.  However, he could only stare at Kanda uncertainly, not sure what to say.

Realizing that the silence was beginning to brew between them, Kanda reacted, as he pulled out what he had been keeping behind his back.  “Um, this is for you,” He mumbled.

Alma blinked, as he looked in surprise.  It was a leather-bound book with a plain cover save for a few, floral-like designs on the edge.  Curious, Alma opened the book-

He stilled, when he saw was inside.

Flowers.  There were different flowers in that book.  Not just illustrations, but actual, real flowers.  They were pressed down onto the pages, perfectly preserved in color as they rested against the pages beautifully.  Snowdrops, irises, primroses – Alma noticed that they were all winter flowers, with only the first few pages being filled.

Kanda rubbed the back of his neck, as he avoided eye contact.  “They’re pressed flowers.  I only added a few for winter, but…left the other pages for when there are more flowers in the spring,” Kanda said, before he finally braved a glance at Alma.  “I could…add some lavender if you want.  When they’re blooming again.”

Alma looked up from the book, completely surprised.  “You…you made this for me?”

Cheeks flushing, Kanda looked away quickly.  “I bought the book, but…yeah.  I added the flowers,” Kanda said, words coming out in something of a murmur.  “I know it’s your birthday, but I didn’t know what to get you-“

“I love it!” Alma gushed, as he clasped the book to his chest.  Eyes lighting up, he looked at Kanda, his face radiating with warmth.  “Was this why I haven’t seen you all week?  Because you were working on it?  I thought you were mad at me, and I was so worried-“

Kanda turned, completely taken aback by Alma’s words.  “What?  Fucking no, I just didn’t want you to see anything,” Kanda stated, not wanting Alma to think he was mad at him or anything.  

Alma giggled, his previously downtrodden mood now elevated to the lightness of a feather.  He looked back at Kanda, a smile on his face as his eyes sparked with joy.  “I’m glad,” He said, fondness pouring from his voice.  Still holding the book tightly to his chest with one hand, Alma spoke, as he reached over with his other hand to take Kanda’s.  “But…thank you.  It’s so beautiful, and I love it so much.  It’s the best thing I could have ever gotten.” 

As Alma said these words, Kanda could feel something tug in his chest, his breath hitching in his throat.  He just couldn’t look away from Alma, who was smiling so sweetly, and his eyes so bright.

Kanda squeezed Alma’s hand gently, his heart thudding in his chest.  Before Kanda could even think to stop himself, he leaned in, as he placed a kiss onto Alma’s lips.

Alma’s shoulders relaxed, the kiss sweet and tender.  He could feel his eyes close, as a small sigh escaped him.

Pulling back a bit, Kanda pressed his forehead against Alma’s, eyes half lidded as they remained there for a few seconds.  “Happy birthday,” Kanda murmured, voice soft.

Alma smiled, as his eyes met Kanda’s.  He could practically feel his heart overflowing with warmth, as he held onto Kanda’s hand, before he tugged slightly.

“We should get going,” Alma said, as he playfully pulled Kanda along.  “Lots of people are waiting.”

As soon as Alma said this, Kanda scowled, completely put off by the idea.  The sight only caused Alma to laugh gently, before he continued to tug.  “Come on – you’ll make me late for my own birthday party!”

Kanda scoffed.  He honestly doubted anyone would give Alma crap for being late when he was the prince, but he didn’t outright argue, as he allowed for Alma to pull him along.

If Kanda was with Alma, he could deal with other people.  It was Alma’s birthday, after all.