Fandom: Nobuta wo Produce
Characters: Kiritani Shuuji, Kusano Akira, Kotani Nobuko
Word-count: 3 014
Summary: Akira has a present for Shuuji and Nobuta.
A/N: Inspired by the prompt “Easter/Spring”. I saw happy!Akira with Easter eggs and this was born. It’s kind of more OT3 with Shuuji/Akira undertones than anything, but in my head, Shuuji and Akira are too much boyfriends to ever not be.
Shuuji turned to find Akira heading his way, trying to dodge students in the hallway but bumping into most of them. Behind him, Nobuta weaved in and out, never touching a single person. Akira jumped the last few feet, landing in front of Shuuji with a smile on his face.
“O-hay-o, Shu-u-ji-kun,” Akira sang, clapping both hands on Shuuji’s shoulders, tilting his head to the side. “Beautiful morning, ne~?” Akira glanced behind him to see Nobuta . “Ne, Nobuta, ne, ne, ne?”
Nobuta nodded sharply, darting her eyes up to Shuuji’s face for a second. “Ohayo, Shuuji.”
“Yo,” Shuuji replied. There was no need for more, Akira took care of the small-talk both Shuuji and Nobuta were bad at – well, Shuuji wasn’t bad at it, he was the King of Small-Talk with the popular kids in school, but with just Nobuta and Akira, Shuuji was silent a lot.
“I have something for you, Shuuji,” Akira snapped his fingers in Shuuji’s face before he wrangled his bag off his back and promptly sat down on the floor, pulling out papers and pens and wrappers, apparently in search for whatever he was giving Shuuji.
Shuuji looked to Nobuta for some kind of hint. Akira was strange on a good day, but he generally didn’t make a big deal out of it at school. Nobuta, however, didn’t seem bothered; she looked at Akira with curiosity, clutching her own bag to her chest. Shuuji could see the other students looking curiously at their little group, at Akira specifically. The boy had managed to create a surprisingly large mess of things around himself.
“What are you doing, Akira?”
“Searching for Shuuji’s present,” Akira replied as if it was obvious, head still bowed over his bag. He pulled a small Nobuta-keychain out of his bag and held it up for closer inspection. “Nobuta Power – injection!” He did the hand-motions and then ‘kon’ed it before holding it out to Nobuta. “Hai, douzo~,” he smiled. “Nobuta for Nobuta.” Akira laughed shrilly.
Nobuta accepted the keychain silently, squeezing it gently.
“Akira, class it starting soon, we should-…”
Akira didn’t seem to be listening, back to digging in his bag. How he managed to put so much into such a small space, Shuuji couldn’t even imagine.
“Mou~, Akira can’t find it,” Akira complained, looking up at Shuuji with beseeching eyes.
Shuuji frowned, what was he going to do about it?
“Did you look everywhere?” Nobuta asked quietly. When Akira nodded, a small pout forming, Nobuta made a little noise, as if she was thinking hard. “Your locker too?” she asked after a moment.
Akira’s face lit up and he snapped his fingers, pointing to Nobuta. “Nobuta GENIUS!” he cried out in mangled English. “Locker, of course the locker. Akira put it there because it locks and Shuuji’s present needed to be locked away so no one else could get it. Akira forgot. But Nobuta smart, Nobuta genius.”
Shuuji blinked. He was somewhat used to Akira’s strangeness, but sometimes he just didn’t know what to do with it. He was thankful Nobuta was around; she took a lot of attention off Shuuji.
“Let’s go,” Akira announced, bouncing up from the floor, grabbing hold of Shuuji’s sleeve.
“What about class?” Shuuji asked sensibly. Although it was only homeroom and Yokoyama would probably not even care they were absent, Shuuji disliked being out of class when he was actually in school. It always seemed like such a waste. “And this mess…” He gestured to the litter around their feet.
“Akira clean later, let’s get Shuuji’s present!” Akira persisted, tugging on Shuuji’s sleeve, catching Nobuta’s too.
“We should get to class,” Nobuta interjected when Shuuji tried to yank his arm free. Both boys froze, turning to look at Nobuta. “Yokoyama-sensei would be sad if he missed his class,” she reasoned. “And since Shuuji’s present is in AKIRA’s locker, it will be safe until lunch.” Shuuji couldn’t help but smile at Nobuta’s unconscious stress of Akira’s name. It was softer than it had been, but still not as soft as Akira would like.
Akira seemed to deflate and he dropped both Nobuta and Shuuji’s arms. “Hai~,” he pouted a little, gracelessly dropping to the floor again, collecting his things and shoving them back into his bag. Nobuta bent down to help, but Shuuji just stood watching. The few students who still hadn’t made their way to their classrooms, waiting for the bell, mostly ignored the three, but Shuuji could see them glance every now and again.
“Come on, let’s go.” Shuuji walked ahead as Akira slowly got up from the floor, knowing Nobuta would follow and Akira wouldn’t be left behind alone. Sure enough, as Shuuji was a step away from their classroom, he felt Akira’s familiar weight on his back, head on Shuuji’s shoulder. He paused his step, feeling Nobuta bump into Akira before she walked around them and entered the classroom, head bowed but still higher than when she had first arrived in Tokyo.
“Shuuji-kun?” Akira’s voiced questioned by his ear, and Shuuji felt Akira’s head tilt and Akira’s breath on his cheek.
“What you’re giving me, are you giving it to Nobuta too?” Shuuji asked. Akira probably had the biggest heart out of everyone Shuuji knew, but he could be clueless sometimes, and Shuuji didn’t want Nobuta to feel left out if Akira got Shuuji something, but not Nobuta.
Akira giggled and poked Shuuji in the side, causing Shuuji to flinch, unconsciously pressing himself further into Akira’s body. “Silly Shuuji,” the boy chirped, poking Shuuji again. “Akira can’t give Nobuta the same thing, then Shuuji would only get half!”
“But you’re giving Nobuta something too?”
“Of course. Akira isn’t mean. Akira would give every one of his friends, but only Shuuji and Nobuta are amigo so only Shuuji and Nobuta get present~,” Akira sang happily, wrapping his arms around Shuuji and squeezing.
Shuuji nodded, relief filling his chest. All felt right with the world if Akira was happy and both Shuuji and Nobuta were equal in Akira’s heart. It had taken the strange mamechi boy and the new horror girl to make Shuuji feel comfortable showing himself to anyone but his family, and it had taken months for Shuuji to realize that they were equal, all three of them. Shuuji and Akira and Nobuta – three little pigs.
“Good. Now get off me,” Shuuji tried to shrug Akira off. It took a minute, but as soon as the bell rang and they spotted Yokoyama-sensei in the hallway, Shuuji managed to slip away and enter the classroom. He nodded his hello to the popular group in the front, but was saved from having to say anything as the teacher called the class to order.
“Shuuji-kun, want to come karaokeing?”
Shuuji looked up from his desk. The guys, his guys, were standing around, looking expectantly – and a little hopefully – at him. Some of the girls smiled encouragingly, nodding. Shuuji smiled tightly and wondered what lie he hadn’t told yet to get out of spending time with his classmates.
“Shu-u-ji-kun~!” Akira sang and draped himself over Shuuji’s back.
Shuuji glanced at Akira before looking towards the group again. He frowned a little when he saw that most of them looked resigned, and that a few had already started to leave. “Ah, gomen ne,” he started, bowing his head quickly.
“Shuuji-kun is busy,” Akira laughed, poking Shuuji’s cheek.
Before becoming friends, proper friends, with Nobuta and Akira, Shuuji would have felt annoyed by Akira speaking for him, would have gone with the group and on the way pretend he’d forgotten Koji needed babysitting or his father asked something of him. It would have been a lie. Now, Shuuji could only feel relief that Akira took it upon himself to announce that Shuuji was busy, saving Shuuji from having to say or do anything.
“Did Shuuji want to go?” Nobuta asked in her quiet way as Akira skipped ahead.
“Not really, I don’t like karaoke,” Shuuji replied honestly. “I don’t like to sing in front of people.”
Nobuta nodded like it made perfect sense and left it alone. Shuuji wanted to hug Nobuta for never prying. She only pushed when Shuuji was willing to be pushed. Akira said it was because Nobuta was a girl, and girls knew things, they were smart like that. Shuuji was willing to agree with that. Mariko hadn’t pushed either.
“Come, come, come!” Akira waved, bouncing a little in his place. He pointed up the stairs that led to the rooftop. “Shuuji and Nobuta UP~!” he burst out in English, pointing again. “Akira get the presents and Shuuji and Nobuta wait with their eyes closed up on the roof.”
Shuuji wanted to ask why it was necessary they close their eyes, but he figured it was better to just go with it. Besides, Akira had been amazingly patient, enough to wait until school ended – not lunch – to get whatever he wanted to give Shuuji. So when Nobuta nodded and started climbing the stairs, Shuuji followed wordlessly. Up on the rooftop, they sat in silence, enjoying the sun. Nobuta even raised her face to soak up the rays. A few minutes later, a crash and a following “ittai!” signaled that Akira was coming.
“Hai, douzo,” Akira voice announced, dropping something in Shuuji’s lap.
Opening his eyes, Shuuji found himself staring at a large oval thing. Egg-shaped, painted in bright colours, elaborate patterns around the entire thing. It wasn’t particularly heavy, but it had a weight to it. Curiously enough, it had a crack through the middle of it.
“Eh, what is this?” Shuuji asked carefully. Akira looked happy and he didn’t want to ruin whatever Akira’s surprise was, but he was lost. Nobuta seemed equally confused.
“Happy Easter!” Akira exclaimed, converting to his badly pronounced English.
Akira didn’t seem annoyed that neither Shuuji nor Nobuta understood him, and started explaining about a Western tradition. Shuuji became a little lost among the bunnies and witches and something about an egg-hunt. It didn’t help that Akira wasn’t the best person to explain, well, anything. There were plenty of English-sounding words involved that Shuuji didn’t understand either.
“So Akira made Shachou-san order these Eggs of Easter to give to Shuuji and Nobuta,” Akira finished.
“They’re very pretty,” Nobuta said slowly after a moment of silence. Akira beamed at her.
“Open, open, open, open!” Akira commanded, clapping his hands. He looked like a little child at Christmas to Shuuji. All eagerness and twinkling eyes. Shuuji smiled, staring at Akira – a little too long, as he was jerked out of his thoughts by Nobuta’s surprised gasp. Akira looked extraordinarily pleased.
Inside Nobuta’s egg were a pretty blue sweater and a bead necklace that looked very much home-made. As she took the sweater out, small wrapped candies spilled out over her lap and down on the rooftop. Nobuta’s face brightened considerably and she mouth twitched into her half-grimace smile, making both Shuuji and Akira smile fondly.
“Thank you, AKIRA,” she said softly, running her fingers over the sweater.
Akira nodded happily before turning to Shuuji. “Open it, Shuuji-kun,” he prompted.
Shuuji ran a finger long the opening and winkled it open. The same kind of wrapped candies as Nobuta’s egg contained, fell into Shuuji’s lap. There were considerably more candy in Shuuji’s egg than Nobuta’s. Akira leaped forward and grabbed a handful of them, settling down on the ground in front of Shuuji, happily unwrapping three of the candies and popping them into his mouth.
“You added more to mine so you could take them, right?” Shuuji half-stated. Akira nodded shamelessly.
“I would never take from Nobuta, but Shuuji so nice, Shuuji would share, ne~.”
Shuuji couldn’t fault Akira’s reasoning as much as he would like to. He knew he would be bringing the egg home and giving away half the candy to Koji and his father, and Akira fully well knew this and took advantage of it. He was sneakily clever like that.
“What more did you get?” Nobuta asked.
Shuuji peered into his egg, blinking. Amidst the candies lay a pack of hair-ties in every colour imaginable. He picked them up as if the sun would show them differently.
“Pretty,” Nobuta conceded.
“Now Shuuji can tie up his hair with all kinds of colours and Akira can match,” Akira stated, pulling out a similar pack from his pocket. He knocked the two packs together. “Shuuji and Akira match!”
Akira ‘kon’ed at Shuuji. “There’s more.”
And there was. While Nobuta had two larger gifts, Shuuji had what seemed like a hundred. It was like Akira had put anything and everything in Shuuji’s egg. A magnet for the refrigerator with three pigs, one leather glove (“Why one?” Shuuji asked, but Akira only smiled serenely), a small book with recipes (“So Shuuji can make even more delicious food!”), and a bead bracelet similar to Nobuta’s necklace. There were about a dozen origami cranes and a tiny toy car too. Shuuji didn’t know what to do with everything.
“Shuuji has everything already, so Akira can only give Shuuji tiny, fun things,” Akira explained when Shuuji asked. “I wanted to make a thousand cranes so Shuuji could make a wish, but my hands started to hurt after a while.” Akira looked down on his hands with a little pout.
Although he still didn’t know what to do with everything, he was touched by the sentiment. Akira obviously put a lot of thought into the eggs and it was the thought that counted.
“Thank you, Akira.”
Shuuji looked up from his homework to find Koji staring at the egg on his desk. Koji seemed fascinated by it.
“Egg of Easter,” Akira answered from his position on Shuuji’s bed. He waved at Koji who seemed less than surprised to find the other boy there.
“What is an Egg of Easter?”
Shuuji tuned out the sound of Akira excitedly explaining the strange Western tradition to his younger brother. It had made less sense the second time Shuuji heard it, when Akira explained it to his father earlier, and he was sure it would sound even more strange a third time around.
“Sugoi~,” was Koji’s reaction. “Ne, niichan, can I get some of these?”
Shuuji nodded without looking, knowing Koji would be after the candies. He and Akira were similar like that – anything sweet was more than amazing in their world. “Don’t eat too many, you’ll get a stomach ache and I’m not taking care of you for that,” Shuuji warned casually.
Koji promptly ignored him and went away to show the candy to their father.
Akira padded over to Shuuji and laid his head on Shuuji’s shoulder, bracing himself on the arms of Shuuji’s chair. “Ne, Shuuji,” Akira started, “are you happy?” Shuuji nodded distractedly. He was on the brink of understanding the math problem he had been struggling with for the past ten minutes. “Are you happy Akira is here?”
“Would you go away if I said no?” Akira was quiet for a while. Shuuji put his pen down and swung his chair around, making Akira take a few steps back. “What’s this about?”
“Akira was just wondering.” The boy shrugged, a move that looked alien to Shuuji. Akira was never uncertain. “Shuuji likes to please everyone; maybe Shuuji doesn’t want Akira here but doesn’t want to say so.”
“I tell you when I want to be alone.”
Akira nodded slowly, flopping down on the bed. “Shuuji so nice,” he said quietly, as if he was talking to himself rather than to Shuuji. “Shuuji so nice~.”
“What? Where is this coming from?” Shuuji stared at Akira. There was something going on, but he didn’t know what. When Akira didn’t reply, didn’t even seem to hear Shuuji had asked him something, Shuuji did the only thing he could think of: he patted Akira’s side to make him move over and laid down next to Akira on the bed.
They laid silently for a while, staring up at the white ceiling.
“I’m glad you’re here, Akira,” Shuuji said softly after a while. “You’re a good friend.” He took a breath. “You’re better than me, nicer than me. You and Nobuta, you’re-, you’re both better than all of us.”
Shuuji nodded. Pure was probably the best way to describe Nobuta. She was like fresh snow, so blindingly pure you never wanted anything to sully it. It was part of the reason Shuuji wanted to produce Nobuta. Right from the start he had known there was something about her, something he wanted to be around.
“Akira too, Akira is pure and good too.”
“We’re both good people,” Shuuji negotiated. He twisted his head to look at the pig dangling from the lights. He reached out to poke it, watching it sway back and forth. “Nobuta made us good people,” he whispered.
There was another moment of silence when Shuuji could only hear their breaths. Then he felt Akira shift on the bed and a warm arm slide across his body. Akira was spooning him, just like he always did when they slept in the same bed. Akira’s breath tickled his neck.
“Nobuta genius,” Akira whispered.
“We should get her another Egg of Easter,” Shuuji mumbled, feeling drowsy. The warmth of Akira’s body behind him and the steady beating of his heart were lulling him to sleep. He reached up to touch Akira’s hand on his stomach. “Give her something to show we love her.”
“Shuuji genius,” Akira giggled.
Shuuji hummed. “The eggs were a good idea. I like them. They’re pretty.”
Shuuji couldn’t help but laugh. Sometimes they all had great ideas. He inhaled deeply, blinking tiredly. Akira’s shampoo had started to smell a little like home. The Nobuta charm for his lamp swayed back and forth soothingly. Nobuta was watching over them. The three of them together was home.
Shuuji fell asleep to the sound of Akira’s breath; the last thing he saw was the colourful egg and the gently swinging Nobuta figurine.