On the 8th of March (a Monday) the sky was a gray so pale it was almost white, bright to the extent that it almost hurt to look at it. Despite the sky, the weather was mild, a stark contrast from the week before.
Ohtori Choutarou was walking home with eyes down cast. (This had nothing to do with the luminescence of the aforementioned sky, and everything to do with the fact that White Day was drawing near.)
Traditionally, his sister was the one who'd take care of his "thank you" gifts. It was an unspoken agreement that as the one who ate the chocolates, she should also be the one who reciprocated the favor. (This year, she had prepared some rather pretty satin ribbons, with flowers embroidered on the ends in dainty white-on-white patterns.) That wasn't the problem.
And birthday presents were to be returned with something appropriate on the birthday of the giver.
But on February the 15th, Ohtori had mentioned, in passing, that his sister had already liberated all of his chocolates. On the 16th, Shishido had handed him a few small packages, saying that he wouldn't have eaten them anyway.
While it was clear that Ohtori owed Shishido something (he had eaten those chocolates himself,) he wasn't quite sure of "what was owed" and "when should it be given."
Tuesday night, Ohtori was greeted by a piece of cream-colored material, bundled up with a satin ribbon. It was a scarf, that looked as if it had been made to match the Hyoutei uniform.
"What's this for?" Choutarou asked.
"An early white day present," his sister replied. "It's been getting warmer as of late so I thought I'd give it to you a few days early."
"So you were out shopping and thought it would look cute on me." (Ohtori generally tried to think the best of people, but he knew his sister, and she never got him white day presents. She did, however, try to dress him up on a regular basis.)
She laughed, ruffled his hair, and left.
On Wednesday, it occurred to him that the scarf would look well on Shishido.
He spent a couple of hours searching through the parts of Shinjuku that he knew his sister haunted, but had no luck.
(Ohtori's sister was usually out past the time he went to bed, and he didn't really want to ask her anyway.)
By 7pm, Thursday night, (the 11th of March) Ohtori was about to give in and make the call. To find a specific scarf in all of Tokyo was a fairly futile task. (What he had found was 18 packs of Kleenex, (which were white and fluffy, but not what he was looking for) one rice krispies treat, more flyers than he cared to think about, and a pack of face paper. He ended up throwing most of it away. Ohtori knew that she shouldn't have took them, but he felt a bit sorry for the people who tried to hand them out.)
He wandered a bit longer, but about 15 minutes later, he took out his phone.
As soon as he hit the speed dial, a bit of cream in a store window caught his eye.
"Umů Never mind, Nee-san."
Ohtori bought the scarf, had it gift wrapped, and proceeded to spend all of Friday worrying about whether it was proper to give it to Shishido.
That night, he decided that he really must return the favor, and slipped the package into his tennis bag.
Saturday, March 13, was unexpectedly cold. Ohtori had brought his coat and scarf, because he believed in being prepared. Shishido had not.
Ohtori snuck into the club room during lunch, to unwrap the scarf and remove the tags, before replacing it in his locker.
After practice, while they were preparing to go home, he offered the scarf to Shishido.
Shishido looked at him suspiciously. "Aren't you going to be cold?"
Oh no, Ohtori denied. He had his coat and it was a spare scarf. See, he had another one just like it. Shishido-san should keep the scarf.
He left before Shishido could protest further.
Outside, the sky was a clear blue, scattered with clouds.
It had been, Ohtori reflected, a pretty good week to fall in love.
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