|[FIC] The Claw Game - Furuba
||[Sep. 1st, 2006|01:20 am]
|||||Bokura no Love Style :: Kaoru n' Hikaru||]|
Title: The Claw Game
Characters: Kureno, Machi, Mogeta
Written For: Furuba-Rama Monthly Challenge n' 100_situations
Theme: #54 - Luck
Rating: PG - for mild language and the abuse of a toy vending machine XD
Summary: In which Kureno learns why you should never fall asleep on park benches.
Warnings: Spoilers up through chapters 97/98 of Furuba.
Disclaimer: Sadly, Furuba is not mine... otherwise, I'd make Kureno my squishy.
Author's Note: I SWEAR I didn't pair Kureno up with yet another person. XD (No really... I mean it.)
Dedicated to Ana, who fangirls Machi as hard as I fangirl Kureno, and who's challenge gave me the inspiration to write this. This could quite possibly be the first fic featuring the two of them together. ^^
“Mama… why is that man sleeping on the bench? Is he homeless?”
“It’s not polite to point, dear. Now come along.”
“But Mama… is he?”
“Let’s go, dear.”
Kureno slowly opened his eyes, trying to stifle a yawn with the back of his hand. He had a tendency to wake up rather disoriented, and this morning proved to be no exception. Turning, he stifled another yawn, reaching out to wake Akito up…
And nearly fell off the park bench.
Kureno was fairly certain Akito hadn’t pushed him outside into the garden, so where…? He shook his head, looking around the area. Trees, water… swings?
A… park? But how…
It suddenly dawned on him. Akito had given him the day off earlier that morning, though she seemed upset about something. Unconvinced, Kureno began questioning her: Was she okay? Did she want anything to eat? Would she like to go for a walk? Thirty seconds in, Akito forced him out of her room, leaving him confused… and in the middle of the hallway.
So, Kureno had decided to go into the city and buy her a gift, - a rare occurrence - but he wondered if it might make her happy. Akito liked pretty things – girly things, as Shigure had once referred to them – even though she’d never be able to show them off to anyone… except him… and maybe Shigure and Hatori.
Kureno had searched all morning, traveling from shop to shop. The gift had to be perfect, which made his task all the more difficult. He’d finally found a shop (two hours later) where the items didn’t look tawdry, gaudy, or cheap. He had been fascinated by the wind chimes, wondering if he could convince Akito to hang one in the garden near the bird feeder. After spending an hour or so carefully inspecting each item, he made three purchases – a small box of foreign chocolate, a beautiful hand made journal with pages made from parchment and a cover that had been sewn together with colorful fabric, and one of the nicer sounding, stained glass wind chimes.
The morning had still been fresh, so he’d decided to head down to the park; Kureno loved sitting by the lake whenever he had a day off. He planned to rest for a few minutes, look over the three gifts, and figure out if he wanted to continue shopping or not. It wasn’t a favorite hobby of his, though he did enjoy giving presents to other people whenever there was an occasion.
That had been the plan, but… Kureno looked out at the lake. Had he fallen asleep? Sitting up on a public park bench, no less? He sighed. Of all the places to suddenly fall asleep…
He reached out to his left, intending to grab the shopping bag and head back to the estate…
Kureno’s eyes widened, as he clutched nothing but air. He looked down. The bag was gone.
He tried hard not to panic, but Kureno had never been very good at handling surprises, especially when they happened to him. He got up, circling the bench. Maybe he had put it on the ground instead? Of course, fate had no intention of smiling on him that day, since the bag wasn’t there either.
Do I even have my wallet? He slipped one hand into his jacket pocket, sighing with relief; whoever took the bag had neglected to search him for money. At least he could go back to the shop and buy…
Absolutely nothing. Had he really spent that much in one shop? Kureno couldn’t believe it. He had enough yen to still buy Akito a present… but nothing he deemed good enough for her.
Placing the wallet back in his jacket, he headed down the dirt path that would take him back towards the shopping district. What was he supposed to do now? He’d never been robbed before… Would the shop owner believe me if I told him what happened? Probably not, but Kureno wasn’t sure what other options he had other than to negotiate—
He was pulled out of his thoughts when his body bumped hard into someone smaller, lighter. Kureno reached out to keep the person from falling, but said person had other ideas. When he felt something soft and squishy hit him in the face, he stumbled back, losing his balance, and plopping onto the ground. Across from him, a girl who couldn’t have been much younger than Arisa, glared back at him.
“… Sorry,” Kureno said, hesitating a little. He didn’t really know how to deal with angry women, especially when their anger was directed at him.
The girl said nothing, only reached out near his foot, where a happy looking Mogeta plush sat. Akito had forced him to sit through several DVDs of Mogeta, claiming she hated it, but watching anyway. Kureno was pretty sure this was the first time he’d ever been attacked by a cartoon character.
Kureno reached out to pick Mogeta up, intending to hand it to her, but she snatched it up before he even had a chance.
Kureno blinked. Did she think I would steal it? “Yes, I know. You hit me with it.” Shigure always said Kureno had a tendency to state the obvious.
Once again, she said nothing but proceeded to get up. Kureno wanted to offer her help as he stood, as well… but he also didn’t want Mogeta to hit him again. Not like it really mattered; he probably needed another knock to the head to remind him never to sleep on park benches. Kureno still had no idea what he’d get for Akito with so little money…
The girl continued to stand across from him, clutching her Mogeta plush protectively. Kureno hadn’t realized it was so big; no wonder he’d been knocked on the ground. Wait… Mogeta plush… that might actually work…
“How much was that?” he asked, receiving another glare as his answer. She turned around, walking away from him.
Kureno wasn’t a very bold person, but he just needed a simple answer, right? He could muster up some courage and…
“Wait!” He walked up next to her; she threw the plush at him again.
“I just wanted to know where you bought that.”
“Stop talking to me.”
“No… um…” He took a deep breath. “I bought some gifts for a family member, and they were stolen… uh… while I took a nap on the park bench.” Kureno winced; she wouldn’t believe him, and if she actually did, she’d just assume he was an idiot and walk away… again.
“The person I was shopping for likes Mogeta, and I don’t have much money left, so… I just figured…”
He blinked. “Excuse me?”
“My friend got this out of a local UFO catcher. It’s down on the corner… about three blocks down.”
Kureno frowned. “What… is a UFO catcher?”
She blinked at him. The silence felt awkward.
The girl picked up the plush, turned around, and walked away again. Kureno was baffled. He followed her again.
“In all honesty, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She stopped, and Kureno idly wondered if Mogeta would fly into him once more.
“I’ll show you where it is. You seem pretty hopeless.” She continued walking. Kureno stared at her back, wondering if he should be happy for her help or insulted by her lack of faith in him. (Even though Akito often told him the same thing.) He decided to follow her anyway.
The girl led him out of the park and down one of the more crowded streets. Kureno managed to keep up with her, squeezing past people as he followed. It felt odd; he wasn't used to being in close contact with so many people. Thank God his curse broke, otherwise he'd be a squished little sparrow right now, probably hobbling towards one of the shop doors. Kureno winced at the thought, wishing his imagination didn't enjoy supplying such vivid imagery.
After several minutes, many strings of curses from angry passersby, two missed collisions with little children, and nearly tripping over a fire hydrant... Kureno managed to catch up with the girl, who was looking into some strange machine filled with plush toys. A couple of kids stood in front of it, pressing buttons and staring intently as a mechanical claw reached down and made a swipe at one of the toys. Oddly enough (at least to Kureno), the claw managed to collect a plush before dropping it down another hole. The kid at the controller reached down below him, pulling the plush from the machine and handing it off to the little girl next to him, who squealed with delight. When they were gone, he stepped up to the glass, looking down at the piles of plush dolls, spotting another happy Mogeta plush in the corner.
"UFO catcher," the girl said, pointing at the buttons in front of him.
"Oh... so, I just move these things around?" He stared intently at the machine, like the little boy had done, and began pushing the buttons. Of course, nothing happened. Kureno pushed them harder, but the claw continued to stay still. He frowned.
"This won't wo--"
"You have to put money in," she snapped. Kureno suddenly noticed the coin slot beneath the buttons.
"O-Oh, right... Does it only accept coins? I don't have much change."
"It's not hard to do."
"...right." Unconvinced - but willing to give it a go anyway - Kureno inserted some coins into the slot. The machine whirred to life, lighting up before him. Now, all he had to do was press a couple of buttons and he'd have his present for Akito...
Of course, it didn't cross his mind until after the claw came back empty that he had no idea what any of the buttons did.
He laughed nervously, noting the girl's dumbfounded expression. "Ah, I forgot to ask what each button does?"
She blinked at him repeatedly before answering. "The one on your left moves the claw back. The one on your right moves the claw right."
"I see." He took out some more change and inserted it into the machine. Now that he knew how to control the damn thing, hopefully he could quickly grab a plush and be on his way. Piece of cake, right?
Moments later, the claw came back up empty... again.
Kureno laughed again, trying not to feel insulted. "I'm sure I'll get something next time." The girl snorted; obviously, she wasn't very optimistic about his chances. Four coins and two attempts later, Kureno had wasted all his change, and yet he still had nothing to show for all his effort.
"Where can I get... change?" The girl turned and headed into a nearby store. Kureno followed. The store clerk insisted that they buy something from him before he turned any of his money into coins, so Kureno pulled a stick of gum from a nearby shelf. When they were back outside, he handed it to the girl. She made no attempt to take it.
Ah, it's probably awkward for me to give her something when we don't even know each other. "I don't like gum," he explained. "You can take it and give it to one of your friends, if you want." He dropped it into her open palm and walked over to the machine, dropping another two coins in. This time he was definitely ready…
When the claw came up empty again, Kureno began to wonder just how illegal it would be to break the glass and run off with the Mogeta doll.
He moved to put more coins in the machine, just as the girl shoved him out of the way. "I can't watch you play anymore," she stated, as if it explained everything. Kureno frowned. Was he really doing that bad? He was just starting to get the hang of it!
The girl pressed the buttons, staring at the claw intently as it descended into the pit of plushies. Kureno assumed she'd played this type of game before, so maybe this time he'd finally win something...
Both of their eyes widened as the claw came back up... empty. Kureno sighed.
The girl glared at him. "My hand slipped. That's all." Was she... blushing? Kureno wondered why she was so embarrassed.
"Ah... I can try again if you'd--"
"I'll do it." He wasn't about to argue with a tone like that, so he dropped another couple of coins into the machine. This time she propped Mogeta up against the glass... before focusing her attention on the buttons. Kureno watched her press one down, then the next... then the claw dipped down below the glass...
And came up empty again. Apparently, she was no better than him.
He reached into his pocket to grab more coins. "Why don't I try again?" She glared at him; Kureno decided it was better to just insert the money and back away... even though her third try was just as bad as the first two.
Kureno cleared his throat. "I'd like to try again." She made no move to step aside, so Kureno quickly inserted the coins and attempted to reach over her and push the buttons. She swatted his hands away, causing Kureno's left palm to slam down on the two buttons at the same time. Both watched as the claw descended, and yet another turn was wasted.
He frowned. Getting a plush from this machine was harder than it looked... not to mention the girl kept attacking him from time to time. He sighed.
"Look, I'm running out of money."
"I can handle it. I said I would get one."
"You're just as bad as I am." Mogeta whacked him in the face again, causing Kureno to stumble backwards. He caught the doll in his arms, looking at the girl who seemed rather angry with him. He supposed his statement was a bit out of line, but... she was pretty bad at this game.
They both turned around. A young boy stood behind them, carrying a fist full of coins and eyeing the UFO catcher in anticipation. "Are you almost done?"
Kureno blinked at the boy several times. "Are you familiar with this game?"
The boy rolled his eyes. "All the kids in town play them on the weekends. Of course I know this game... So... does that mean you're done?"
Kureno pushed forward with his questions, ignoring the boy’s rudeness. It was worth a shot. "Are you good at it?"
"Why? Are you trying to get something in particular? Is that why you've been standing here for so long?" Kureno frowned. How long had they been there anyway?
He forced a smile, despite the exasperation he began to feel. "Yes. I'd like the Mogeta plush in the corner. Could you try to get it?"
The boy pointed at the plush in Kureno's hands. "You already have a plush for your girlfriend. Why do you need another?" Kureno looked from the girl to Mogeta and back again. Girlfriend? He couldn't mean...
The girl snatched Mogeta from his hands and moved to the other side of the machine. "This is mine. I'm not with him."
Kureno could tell the boy was obviously confused, but he really didn't care. He just wanted the plush. And to think... if I had stayed awake, this would have never happened. He made a note to never go out into the city when he was tired EVER AGAIN.
The boy finally shrugged. "Sure, put the money in. I'll get it for you." Kureno nodded in appreciation, dropping the coins into the slot and pointing out the plush in the corner. Both he and the girl watched as the boy pressed the buttons, instantly grabbed the plush, and pulled it out of the machine, handing it to Kureno.
"A-Ah... thank you." Some day, the whole situation would be funny to him. For now, Kureno felt rather... stupid.
"NOW are you done with this?"
"Oh! Yes, thank you very much." The boy shrugged, inserted his own money, and began playing. Kureno moved past him, walking after the girl, who was already heading towards the corner.
"Excuse me!" The girl stopped, but didn't turn around. Kureno stayed a few feet back, hoping "flying Mogeta" wouldn't make contact with his face again. "I just wanted to say thank you... for helping me out."
She turned to glance at him, giving just the faintest of smiles. "... You're welcome."
Kureno bowed a little. "Sorry for causing you so much trouble... uh..." He looked up. "I'm sorry, I never got your name."
He smiled and bowed again. "I'm Sohma Kureno. I do apologize for causing you so much trouble, Kuragi-san." He straightened. "But I really did appreciate all your he--"
"You are... Sohma-san?"
Kureno blinked. "Ah... yes... that's what I said." Mogeta came flying at him with record speed this time, causing him to stumble, lose his balance, and fall onto the cement. Before he could manage a coherent response to her sudden outburst, Machi had grabbed the plush and headed off in the opposite direction, leaving Kureno rather dumbfounded. Was it something he'd said?
He picked himself off the ground, proceeding to dust off his own Mogeta plush, which had acquired some dirt in the fall. Kureno couldn't help but wonder if obtaining the plush had been worth all the trouble... trouble in the form of knocks to the head, of course.
He only hoped that Akito wouldn't try out a similar use for Mogeta on him as well.
Comments? Criticisms? Leave feedback, onegai shimasu?
To my flist (espeically you grammar-nitpickers XD): If you see anything that's awkwardly structured and things like that, please tell me. I looked over this a couple of times, but I'm sure I'll find things I want to change in the morning. ^^;