Author's Note: Ah, Ayame… I love him, and I love Mine too, so I wanted to write a fic about them.
Title: Ayame Sohma
Spoilers: Episode 20 of the anime… and some other stuff…
Summary: Mine is Ayame's best friend. Will she be able to handle knowing his secret?
Disclaimer: I don't own Ayame (*sigh*), Mine, or anything else in Fruits Basket.
Setting: This story takes place after episode 20.
*** = setting change
*~* = begin flashback
~*~ = end flashback
CAPITALS = emphasis
Gorgeous, confident, and eccentric. Three words that perfectly describe Ayame Sohma.
These thoughts ran through Mine Kuramae's head as her boss came into the room.
"Good morning, Mine!" Ayame Sohma said, loud and enthusiastic as always.
Mine smiled. "Good morning, tencho."
Ayame thought back to the previous day, when his darling brother Yuki and his adorable friend Tohru Honda had come to visit his shop. "I think yesterday was a success. Don't you, Mine?"
"Well, it was a step in the right direction, at least."
Ayame grinned. "Well, let's get started. What should we work on today?"
Mine produced a huge pile of unfinished dresses seemingly from out of nowhere. She smiled cheerfully and took the top one off the pile. It was a stewardess uniform. Ayame was holding a piece of paper that stated the client's orders. Mine glanced at it and got to work. There were only a few adjustments to make to this one. Ayame started working on another outfit.
Half an hour later, Mine was finished. She held up the stewardess uniform and said, "I'm finished. Now we need to see if it fits right."
"Good work, Mine." Ayame stood, took it from her, and ran into the dressing room. He came back out about a second later (he was very good at changing clothes quickly). "It seems fine to me," he said.
Mine circled him, examining every part of the outfit. If it wasn't perfect, it didn't come from this store. She pulled gently on parts of it to make sure that it was okay. She adjusted the buttons. Her fingers lightly touched Ayame's long, unusual, whitish-silver hair, and not entirely by accident. He really did have nice hair. It was soft, silky, and not once had she ever known him to have a split end.
"Mine?" Ayame's voice brought her back to the present. "What is it?"
She had dawdled too long. "Oh, it's nothing. I was just thinking—"
"What?" Ayame had a friendly smile on his face.
"I was wondering if you'd look better in this with your hair braided."
Ayame chuckled. "All right, Mine. Try it." He sat very still in a chair as Mine moved behind him and ran her fingers through his hair. "Do you think Yuki will ever visit again?" he asked.
"Maybe." Mine laughed. "He will if his friend Tohru-chan does." She was about a third of the way done. "It would be nice if he did."
Ayame nodded. He was silent for a minute. It was nice to have Mine doing his hair. Her touch was gentle, and she always got it right the first time around. That's what made her a perfect assistant. What would he do without her? "Mine…"
"What is it, tencho?"
"Are you ever planning to get married?"
"Ah?" That question had come out of nowhere. "Why do you ask?"
Ayame sighed dramatically. "Well, how will I run the shop if you get married and move away? It would be disaster! You remember how it was before I hired you."
Mine finished off the braid with a hair tie. "I don't think you'll have to worry about that. And even if I did get married, I wouldn't move away. I like working here. It's fun." She moved around to the front as Ayame stood up. She nodded in approval. "Very nice."
Ayame looked in a mirror. "Wonderful, Mine. How do you do it?"
Mine tilted her head. "Do what?"
"Make me look perfect." Ah, the ego shows itself yet again.
Mine blushed and shrugged. Then she smiled. He was giving her too much credit. After all, he was the one who was so good looking to begin with.
"Mine, I'm bored."
It was two months after Yuki had come to visit Ayame's shop. Ayame was bored. That meant he was thinking of doing something different.
Mine waited patiently for him to tell her his thoughts.
"I think I'll visit Gure-san today." Ayame turned to look at his brown-haired assistant. "Do you want to come?"
"Me?" Mine squeaked. Ayame always went away by himself. He never took her along. Well, except to that one convention a while back… But still, she had never seen his cousin Shigure's house.
Ayame nodded. "Is that a yes?"
Mine nodded slowly, still a bit shocked.
Ayame was already on the phone. "Gure-san, I wish to visit you today." He paused. "Yes, of course I missed you. Why do you think I'm coming?" he said playfully. He paused again to listen. "By the way, Mine will be coming too." He laughed. "Yes, this will be interesting, won't it? See you in a bit, Gure-san." He hung up the phone.
The two of them went to go change their clothes. When Mine stepped out of the dressing room, Ayame was standing at the door waiting for her. He was wearing a dark blue outfit. "Mine, you look fabulous."
Mine was wearing a pretty white dress. She grinned. "As do you."
"Well, shall we?" Ayame said, holding out his hand. "We mustn't deprive the world of our incredible style."
Mine laughed and took his hand.
"What do you mean, Ayame's coming?" Kyo and Yuki demanded at the same time. Shigure had just broken the news to them.
Shigure grinned. "I mean, he'll be here any minute."
Tohru was smiling happily. "It will be so nice to see Ayame-san again."
"Tohru-kun, guess what?" Shigure announced. "Mine will be coming as well!"
Tohru smiled even more. "Really?"
"We're here!" a boisterous voice called.
Everyone turned to look at the doorway, where Ayame and Mine were standing. Ayame rushed over to Shigure. "Gure-san, how are you? I missed you terribly."
"I was so lonely without you, A-ya."
Yuki sweatdropped. Those two were at it again.
Kyo was fighting an urge to scream at the two of them to shut up with their inane comments. He really wanted to, but he had promised himself to try to control his temper for Tohru's sake.
Mine, who had come into the house and closed the door behind her, only smiled cheerily at the actions of her employer and his cousin. Yuki and the orange-haired boy next to him looked murderous. Tohru, on the other hand, was smiling. Mine sat down next to her. "How have you been, Tohru-chan?"
"Very well, thank you," Tohru replied. "And you, Mine-san?"
Mine smiled. Tohru was so thoughtful. She could see why Yuki was so taken with her. "I'm fine."
"Yosh!" That final word indicated the end of Ayame and Shigure's banter.
Yuki and Kyo relaxed visibly.
"Mine!" Ayame said loudly. "You remember Gure-san."
Shigure raised a hand in welcome.
"And Yuki-kun and Tohru-kun."
The two of them smiled at her.
"This here is Kyon-kichi," Ayame said, gesturing to the orange-haired boy.
"Stop calling me that!" Kyo yelled. "My name is Kyo!"
"Nice to meet you," Mine said.
Nobody said anything for a moment. A slight breeze blew into the house.
"Well, who's hungry?" Ayame asked cheerfully.
"Oh, I haven't made lunch!" Tohru exclaimed. She jumped up and rushed to the kitchen.
Ayame grabbed her hand as she blew past. Tohru stopped in her tracks and almost fell onto him, but regained her balance just in time. (AN: Whew!)
"Don't be silly, Tohru-kun! We'll all go out to eat!"
"All of us?" Yuki asked, clearly terrified at the idea.
Ayame grinned. "Of course!" He turned to Shigure. "Gure-san, where shall we go?"
"Hmm…" Shigure pondered the question for a moment. "I know!" he said with his finger in the air. "Come!" He grabbed Kyo as Ayame grabbed Yuki. The two of them dragged the younger boys out the door with Tohru and Mine following.
The company of six was seated at a table of the restaurant that Shigure had suggested.
"What will you have, Mine?" Ayame asked.
"Hmm…" Mine looked over the menu. "I don't know…"
Ayame turned to Tohru. "How about you, Tohru-kun? Or will I have to order for you like I did last time?"
Tohru blushed slightly. "Umm…" She glanced over the top of her menu, and whom should she see but Hatsuharu Sohma!
"Hatsuharu-san!" she exclaimed, surprised.
Haru, who was standing at the entrance (blocking it, no less), turned to look at her. He walked over to the table. "Hello, everyone."
"Haru! What are you doing here?" Shigure asked.
"I was walking home from school yesterday when I saw this butterfly… The next thing I knew, Momiji had disappeared and I was standing in front of a fish market..."
"You got lost, Haru," Kyo said. "Just admit it."
Ayame recovered and said grandly, "Mine, meet Hatsuharu Sohma!" He gestured toward the boy with white and black hair.
Mine nodded and smiled. "Nice to meet you. I'm Mine Kuramae."
Haru greeted her, then decided to sit down, since he didn't want to go out and get lost again.
Ayame whispered to Mine behind his menu, "Haru is always getting lost."
After the meal, Kyo volunteered to help Haru find his way home. He didn't want to be around Ayame any more than he had to. He didn't trust Ayame and Shigure with Tohru, but if Yuki was there, then she would be okay. Even if Yuki was just a stinking mouse.
Ayame and Mine walked out of the restaurant, arms linked, as Kyo and Haru headed for Haru's home. Shigure followed them, with Yuki and Tohru close behind.
"Where are we going?"
Ayame stopped and looked around. "Hmm. Gure-san," he called, turning his head, "where are we going?"
"I suppose we'll just go back to my house."
Ayame nodded and turned in the right direction.
Mine smiled. Ayame was so silly. That's why it was so fun working with him. She remembered when they had started working together.
"Good work, Mine!" Ayame declared, holding up the finished product of the first thing Mine had started working on when he hired her. "This will be sure to please the customer!"
Mine smiled happily. "Thank you, tencho."
"This store is destined to be a success with you working here now!"
Mine looked up at the tall, handsome man. "That's very kind of you. And it was very kind of you to hire me. No one else wanted to. Arigatou."
Ayame's golden eyes focused on her. "It's a good thing they didn't hire you or else I wouldn't have such a wonderful assistant."
Mine smiled again and, although it wasn't in her nature, moved forward to hug him.
Ayame stepped back and caught her arms.
Mine looked at him, puzzled.
Ayame was breathing hard. He also had this look of fear on his face, something that Mine had never seen on him before. She hadn't known him that long, so she obviously hadn't seen all his expressions, but it still looked wrong on him. Mine realized that Ayame was shaking.
"I don't have a lot of rules, Mine," Ayame said in a low voice, "but one that I do have is do not hug me."
"Why?" Mine asked, wondering if he had issues with being touched.
"Just don't. Please." Ayame's beautiful golden eyes had the most pleading look in them. "Promise me."
"I—I promise," Mine said, intending to keep that promise. If he didn't want to tell her why, then he didn't have to. He did have a right to privacy, after all.
Ayame nodded and let go of her. "Okay. Let's—let's get back to work," he said, trying to rid himself of his anxiety.
Mine had kept her promise well. In all the years that she had worked for Ayame, not once had she hugged him, even when she was very excited. She never wanted to see that look of fear on his face again.
Because she had kept her promise, working with Ayame was great. She and Ayame grew close. They had much in common. They both were very interested in fashion, they were both eccentric… Mine became Ayame's confidante. Ayame told her all about his problems with his brother Yuki. He also amused her with funny stories about his past (most of them having taken place during his high school years). She listened, she understood, and she tried to help him.
Mine leaned on Ayame's shoulder. It was a cold day, but Ayame was warm. Ayame was always warm. He was wearing a coat at the moment. To Mine, it almost seemed that Ayame was afraid of the cold. If it got a little too chilly, Ayame would turn on the heater. Oh well. Everyone has his or her own little quirks.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Author's Note: I thought that was nice… Did you? Please review! I want to know what people think of this story.