'Tis the Season

BY : RaceUlfson
Category: +. to F > Full Metal Panic
Dragon prints: 3341
Disclaimer: I do not own Full Metal Panic, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.







The characters are not mine and are used, without
permission and not for profit, in an attempt to share the love.



 



Silliness from the Fumoffu World. No pairings. Rated for
suggestive language and cursing.



 



For the lovely and talented Lanapanda, who first introduced
me to the madness of FMP Fumoffu, and sweet, clueless Sousuke. Beta’d by my
wonderful partner, Acid Rain.



 



 



 



“I can’t believe we’re shopping
at 8 o’clock at night the day before Christmas!” Kaname glared around at
the festive decorations hung near the grocery store entrance.



 



“Technically,” Sousuke offered, “Christmas Eve is not
Christmas, but the day before Christmas, so this is the day before the day
before -”  Knowing Kaname well, he
flinched even before her fan connected with the side of his head.



 



“I can’t believe you blew
up
the party supplies!”



 



“I was obeying orders.”



 



“Blow up the party decorations as in inflate them with air,
not detonate them to smithereens!”



 



Atsunobu Hayashimizu joined them on the sidewalk. He was
along on the expedition because he owned a car, which he’d just finished
parking in the perfect space, exactly between the grocery store and the paper
goods shop which held the rest of the miscellaneous party supplies. “Perhaps
you should work on your communication skills, Miss Chidori,” he said smoothly.



 



Kaname fish mouthed a few times before giving up. She led
the others into the bustling madhouse of the grocery store. “This is going to
take forever.” She looked glumly at the extended list in her hand, then tore it
into three sections. “Split up, and we’ll meet at the bakery department and see
if we can wheedle them into another cake.”



 



Sousuke patted the nearly imperceptible bulge of his second
favorite gun under his coat. “I can be very persuasive.”



 



“No guns!” Kaname said, loud enough to be over heard.
Several shoppers paused. “No cap guns or squirt guns for the kiddies,” she
improvised quickly. “Too violent.” People relaxed and got on with their
business.



 



“I don’t need the gun,” Sousuke confided. “There are 108
ways to inflict grievous bodily harm with common kitchen items.”



 



Since Kaname was turning an alarming shade of pink, Atsunobu
stepped in and turned Sousuke towards the aisles. “Really? Only 108?”



 



“Based on the pain and type of damage inflicted, yes,
although the list would be much longer if you subcategorized by each individual
utensil…” Sousuke obediently consulted his list and headed off. Atsunobu shook
his head once and followed, smiling faintly.



 



“They are trying to make it look like I’m the crazy one, but
it’s not me. I can’t help it if I’m the odd one out simply because I’m the only
person at that school who isn’t certifiable.” Kaname nodded, enforcing the
affirmation. “Yes, I’m fine, I’m sane.”



 



A few close by people moved a bit away, their wary
expressions returning, as Kaname passed them, still talking to herself.



 



 



 



 



 



 



Sousuke carefully reviewed the rows of canned vegetables
again. Corn. Nibblets, which seemed to be corn. Off the cob, so perhaps corn
was corn with the cob? Except there were little jars of tiny ears of corn,
pickled in their entirety.  Corn with
peppers, which looked very festive. Creamed corn, giving rise to the hope that
starched corn would be nearby, but no such luck. Hominy, which was apparently
horribly mutated corn. Souske ran his pocket radiation detector over the can,
just to check.



 



“Pop corn?” Atsunobu asked from behind him. He was sounding
a bit annoyed, because he was. He’d gotten the last box of chocolate cake mix,
but it had required moving all 23 boxes of cherry, lemon, and spice cake mixes
to get the one he’d known was misplaced way in the back. During the process
he’d endured the jostling of impatient shoppers and the derision of a young man
who looked suspiciously like Issei Tsubaki without his glasses.



 



“No,” Sousuke said sadly. “No corn starch, either.”



 



Atsunobu checked his watch and sighed. “How far have you
gotten on your list?”



 



Sousuke held out his basket, showing off the one item he’d
managed to locate, a large jar of gherkins. “It was in a display at the end of
the row.”



 



“Excellent work.” Atsunobu looked around. “What we need is
an older, matronly, woman.”



 



Sousuke blinked. “Your list is very different from mine,
Sir.”



 



“She will be a seasoned shopper and more familiar with the
locations of items. More likely to be of help than the, ah, overworked staff
here.”



 



“That one man certainly was testy. It’s not like I could
detect the structural flaw in his pickle jar stacking prior to removing what turned out to be the keystone. Keyjar?”



 



Atsunobu patted Sousuke’s shoulder comfortingly and wandered
off like an elegant lion stalking overweight, middle-aged prey.



 



Kaname rushed up, her basket nearly full. “Sweet potatoes…
sweet potatoes… here they, are!” She swooped and pounced on a large can,
holding it aloft triumphantly.



 



“Ah, Miss Chidori?” Sousuke ventured. “You have the wrong
item. That can is clearly marked ‘candied yams’.”



 



There you are! Is that all you’ve gotten
accomplished? We’ll be here all night!” She dropped the heavy can into
Sousuke’s basket; eye balled it, and added another. “Sweet potatoes are yams,” she added absently. “Do you
think 4 pounds is enough?”



 



“No, sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family,
and yams are starchy tubers from Africa.”



 



Kaname’s eyes narrowed. “Well, I meant these when I wrote the list.”



 



Faintly alarmed, Sousuke asked, “Is everything on the list
subject to your arbitrary misnomers?”



 



Kaname took a deep breath, undecided if she needed it to
calm herself or to fuel further shouting, but was interrupted by Atsunobu.
“Miscommunicating again, Miss Chidori?” While she spluttered, he turned to
Sousuke. “Popcorn is a snack and is found on the snack aisle.”



 



“Potato chips are snacks. They are located on aisle three,
across from the carbonated sugar drinks.”



 



“Sodas, those are sodas, Sagara.” Kaname muttered. “And
popcorn isn’t with potato chips, it’s over with nuts and those little cracker
packets.”



 



“Corn starch?” Sousuke asked hopefully.



 



Kaname laughed. “Are you looking for that here? It’s on the
baking aisle. Bak-ing, not bake-ry. With the sugar and stuff.”



 



“I’ve just come from there,” Atsunobu said.



 



“Didn’t you see it? Get the kind in the big yellow box.”



 



“I didn’t see it,” Atsunobu said, “because I was not looking
for it. Corn starch was not on my list.”



 



“This isn’t very well organized,” Sousuke put in. “You
should have arranged the goods by category and location, then subcategorized by
-”



 



I didn’t know I’d be doing this again at the
last minute! I didn’t blow up the party supplies!”



 



People paused and eyed the group. Sousuke set down his
basket and made what looked like a placating gesture. He was, in fact,
indicating to Kaname that she should back up a bit while he drew his gun to
disperse the crowd. She recognized the signal and bugged her eyes at Sousuke,
rapidly shaking her head to indicate her negative opinion.



 



Atsunobu broke in soothingly, “No, of course you didn’t.” He
flashed the hand signal for ‘stand down; situation contained’ to Sousuke who
nodded. And elderly lady clucked sympathetically. Kaname flushed.



 



“Will you please stop that,” she hissed. “I am not the crazy
one here!”



 



“I am not qualified to establish that, Miss Chidori,”
Sousuke said doubtfully. “However I will accompany you to the therapist of your
choi -” He flinched slightly as Kaname swung with her fan, but the blow never
connected. It was neatly parried by Atsunobu, who managed to make it look like
he was merely taking out his own fan and got in Kaname’s way.



 



Perhaps he had. Atsunobu fanned himself slowly, allowing
everyone to read the message printed on its paper surface: Isn’t there
something you should be doing?



 



The other shoppers took the hint and got back to business.
Kaname took a calming breath before checking her watch and handing her full
basket to Sousuke. “I’ve finished my list. I’ll go get the cake and then head
over to the papergoods shop while you guys finish up here. Don’t take forever.”
She bowed and headed towards the bakery.



 



Sousuke picked up his basket. “With your permission, Sir, I
propose we exchange information, then travel together in a methodical, orderly
fashion, gathering necessary supplies as we advance.”



 



“Excellent idea, Mr. Sagara. Let us first establish a mobile
base of operations.” Atsunobu nodded towards the shopping cart another patron
pushed by. Sensing disaster, he stopped Sousuke before he could commandeer that
particular cart. “There was a row of empty ones near the door.”



 



There may have been a row when they entered, but at this
late hour only two were left. A gentle tug demonstrated why the carts were unused;
they were stuck together. “They don’t want to come apart.” Atsunobu observed.



 



“They do seem intimately involved,” Sousuke agreed, trying
to wrest one free.



 



“Mated for life, in fact.” Atsunobu moved to the other end
and tugged.



 



“There must be a clench point along the insertion vector.”



 



“Try gently rocking.”



 



Sousuke obediently braced the cart with his foot and tried
rocking it back and forth. Atsunobu leaned back against the metal cart corral
at his end and moved the second cart in counter rhythm. “Harder.” Sousuke
jiggled the cart more forcefully. “Excellent, now, thrust.” Again Sousuke did
as he was told. “In and out, yes… that’s good,” Atsunobu purred. “Just a little
more… almost there… ahh, that’s the spot. No no, don’t stop -  push harder… good, that’s good, yes!”



 



The carts separated with a jerk and Sousuke and Atsunobu
smiled at each other, sharing triumph.



 



Then a nervous titter brought them back to the business at
hand. They looked around at the small collection of blushing and astonished shoppers.
One group of schoolgirls rushed away, whispering and fanning themselves with
their hands. Sousuke and Atsunobu exchanged glances and the Class President
shrugged.



 



They loaded the hand baskets into the shopping cart and
decided to go up and down each aisle. Sousuke and Atsunobu had barely gone 3
feet when the cart began to shimmy alarmingly. Also, the left rear wheel
developed a hideous squeak. Atsunobu winced and prepared to ignore it, but
Sousuke could not. He dropped to his knees and opened the small tool kit at his
belt.



 



“Mr. Sagara, perhaps it would best if we located another
vehicle.”



 



“Negative. There are no carts without temporary custodians.
I can fix this.”



 



“Of that I have no doubt but I question the prudence of … is
that a torch? You aren’t going to weld it in place, are you?”



 



“Just warm the bearings so I can clean and lubricate them.”



 



“Yes, by all means, use plenty of lubrication.” Atsunobu
leaned on the cart and managed not to roll his eyes.



 



“Oh, Honey, I knew Santa would be good to me this year.” A
slim young man in a dark red belly shirt simpered. “And here you are on your
knees and everything.”



 



Sousuke barely spared the man a look. He did catalogue the
contents of the stranger’s hand basket: two bottles of champagne, a box of chocolate
covered cherries, and a can of whipped cream. “I don’t understand.”



 



“Sweetie, let me explain.” The stranger leaned back
against the shelves and licked his lips.



 



Puzzled, Sousuke looked to Atsunobu, who said, “He finds you
sexually attractive and wishes to engage in oral sex with you.”



 



Sousuke flushed. “I must decline, as I am currently on a
mission. In any event, you are a total stranger and I have no way of
ascertaining your health or true intentions.”



 



Atsunobu translated, “I’m too busy for a skank like you.”



The
cherry buying man gave Atsunobu a cutting look. “I can wait, pusskins. 
Ditch sourpuss here and I’ll show you how to stuff a turkey.”



 “Now
he wants to engage in anal sex with you.” Atsunobu sighed and shrugged.



 “I
am otherwise engaged and my physical prowess would likely be too much for your
physique to withstand in any event.  Please relocate yourself immediately,
you’re in my light, sir, and I am losing patience.”



 “He
warns you that he’s still busy and you’re still a skank but now you’re a skank
in need of an ass kicking.  Get the hell out of the way and take a hint,
Miss Thing, he’s not touching your manpussy.” Atsunobu translated cheerfully.



The man left in a huff. Sousuke eyed him as he went.
“Perhaps you should have been less forceful.”



 



“I don’t think so.” Atsunobu was unreasonably annoyed. No
one was hitting on him. “As class president it’s my duty to shield the
younger students from harassment like that.”



 



“I am older than you.” Sousuke finished with the cart wheel
and cleaned up quickly. “But my point of concern was, I think he had the last
can of whipped cream.”



 



“We’ll get the frozen kind in the tub.” Atsunobu was
delighted to discover the cart now functioned perfectly. And quietly. He gave
Sousuke an approving smile.



 



The boys went through the store as quickly as they could,
hampered as they were by the crowds, their own unfamiliarity with shopping, and
the fact that Atsunobu had to be forcefully removed from the candy aisle. There
was also the occasional difficulty deciphering Kaname’s handwriting.



 



“She can’t want pickled hairbrush, can she?”



 



Atsunobu peered at the list. “Herring, I think, although I
can’t imagine why. We’ll get herring and a hairbrush, just in case.”



 



Sousuke sighed. “Chidori really needs to work on her communication
skills.”



 



“And her spelling.” The class president eyed the request for
‘assorted desert type fruits’. Did she mean ‘dessert’? He split the difference
and dropped a box of candied dates into the cart.



 



It was very late when they finally managed to check out and
quit the store.



 



“Miss Chidori has been out here alone a long while,” Sousuke
said guiltily. “It’s dark and there are undesirables around.”



 



“The car is right over…” Atsunobu’s voice trailed off.
Across the street, Kaname was leaving the Papergoods Store, her arms full of
bags, rolls, and packages. A shifty looking man slipped out of the shadows and
moved to intercept her. There was a flash of metal and the Class President
didn’t need Sousuke’s training to know the man was wielding a knife. He reached
out and caught the grocery bags when Sagara dropped them, abandoning shopping
to go to the rescue.



 



Not that Sousuke needed to help Kaname. She’d just spent the
last 4 hours shopping for things she thought she already had. When the mugger
demanded she hand over her wallet, she snapped.



 



“Are you out of your mind?” Kaname yelled. “What kind
of brain damaged loser mugs a woman the day before Christmas? Do you think I
have any money left?”



 



“Just hand over the packages, then.”



 



“Do you know how long I stood in line for this
stuff?”



“I
have a knife! Don’t make me stick you.” The mugger sounded a bit less certain
than a man who outweighed his target by 75 pounds should. 



“Kaname!” Sousuke yelled, reaching for his gun. “Stand
clear!”



 



“A knife? Ha! You think I’m afraid of being stabbed?? You
idiot! I’d relish being stabbed over shopping again! This is Christmas! I’ve
been shopping continuously since November! I’m sick of it, sick, do you hear
me?” Kaname whapped the mugger upside the head with a paper bag of crepe
streamers. He staggered back, and Sousuke would have had a clear shot had she
not perused him. “How dare you threaten me with more shopping! I’m going to
kill you!”



 



Atsunobu stepped up beside Sousuke and they both watched
Chidori chase the unfortunate thief down the block. He gently pushed on the
barrel of Sousuke’s gun so it was aimed at the sidewalk. “Nice to see Miss
Chidori communicating clearly for once.”



 



Sousuke winced as Kaname scored another telling blow on the
mugger’s head while shouting something about her feet hurting. “She always
improves under pressure.”



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 





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