The insane musings of the authoress:This idea came to me as I was shopping in 'Safeway'. No, seriously (for all of you who are American or don't know what 'Safeway' is, picture 'Wal-Mart' or some other chain-store supermarket). I often have ideas at least once a week, so literally hundreds of them are wasted, and I assumed that this would be one of them. But it just kept nagging at me, so here it is.
Bear in mind that this and my other fic, 'Butterflies', are experiments, so I need as much feedback on those as is possible.
Dedicated to my little sister for always believing in me and telling me thatI'm good, even when I'm not.
Chapter one ~ What Happens When: There is a New Arrival
Hiiragizawa Eriol was in a small coffee store, in a small street, in a small town, in a small country. And small was how he liked it, for it meant that he knew almost everyone around him. Take this store, for example. He knew the owner and all the staff who worked there. In the street where he lived, he knew all the people who lived in the other houses.
If you looked outside at all the stores in the street, he knew the owners and all their staff, too. This was how he liked it- not being surprised, knowing everyone's face. Sure, he didn't know any of these people well, but at least if they ever said 'hello' then he wasn't wondering who he was speaking to when he replied.
He rustled his newspaper as he set it down to pick up his drink from the table. He liked this little place, with its mismatched chairs and tables arranged in no particular way, but it was depressing to see so many happy couples around him, laughing and flirting and joking… It made him feel even more lonely than usual.
'This world wasn't designed for people on their own,'he thought gloomily as he took a deep drink from his mug of black coffee, almost draining it. He shuddered at the sharp taste, but would never have thought of adding anything to it. He was used to black coffee now, and coffee prepared any other way would taste strange to him.
Eriol was now aimlessly staring through the window at the people outside, having finished reading his newspaper and requiring something to distract him from the store's other customers.
He smiled as he mentally named everyone who walked past. Old Mrs Hibiya with tins of cat food for her ten cats, Takako Shimizu, the delivery girl for his favourite Chinese take-away… But he frowned when he saw the back of a head of raven-coloured hair, hair he did not recognise… Who was that? The girl was accompanied by the owner of 'Chase Bakery', Ms. Chase, who was leading her into the store.
Decidedly curious, he drained his coffee before rustling in his pocket for some change and leaving it on the table with his empty mug. Then he folded up his newspaper, hoping to throw it in a bin on his way across the street and walked out the door, pausing only to say a hurried goodbye to the store's owner.
He stood at the edge of the pavement, looking up and down and groaning when he saw a rare car heading quickly towards the place where he was standing. He tapped his foot impatiently and craned his neck to catch a glimpse of the girl. Finally the car whizzed past and he stepped out on to the road, each step affording him a better sight of the inside of the bakery, where Ms. Chase was showing her something behind the counter.
Tomoyo looked and listened carefully to Ms Chase as she patiently explained how the till worked, and anything else that she may have to take care of if left in charge of the store. Unfortunately, the phone rang, and Ms Chase groaned.
"I'll have to get that, dear, but I won't be too long. If a customer comes in, just try to keep them talking until I come and rescue you!" she joked and winked before walking quickly to the back of the store where the phone was located.
Tomoyo idly twirled a strand of dark hair around her finger while she waited for her employer to return, her eyes blankly staring unseeingly at the surface of the counter she leant upon.
She groaned inwardly when the little bell above the door rang, signalling the entrance of, presumably, a customer. Just her luck- what on Earth was she going to say to someone she had only just met? Fixing her best 'I am so nice and helpful' smile firmly to her face, she looked up to face the door, ensuring that she would be ready for whoever walked in.
A black-haired man walked in, and despite her intention to be Ms-helpful-employee-that-acts-like-every-other-female-employee, she couldn't think of what to say. Did gorgeous men usually walk into small-town bakeries?
Forcing herself to be sensible, she said in that bland, Barbie-doll voice that women often adopted when trying to sound helpful, "hello, sir. How may I help you?"
Eriol blinked stupidly. He hadn't thought this quite the way through, but he now realised that he had to ask for something other than her name. She was interesting, this girl, and remarkably beautiful. Who was she? Where did she come from? Why didn't he know who she was? How did she get her hair to look like that?
"Er," he began finally, and rather wanted to kick himself when he realised that his word was definitely not worth the wait, "I would like a cake, please."
Tomoyo resisted the urge to smirk and point out that his statement was rather obvious, as there was very little else that could be bought in a bakery, and instead said, "of course sir. What type?"
"Er…" he said cluelessly, trying to buy himself some time, "strawberry?" He finished lamely in a tone that suggested he didn't much care whether or not he was provided with that flavour.
"I'm afraid that, unless you have placed an order for a custom cake, you will just have to pick from the selection here, and I don't see any strawberry, unfortunately," Tomoyo said kindly as her violet eyes roved the display in front of her.
"That's okay then. I'll have…"
'This isso embarrassing,' he thought, and prayed that the heat he could feel in his face wasn't evident in his colouring.
'You know, when I came in here, making a fool of myself wasn't part of the plan…'
"That one, please," he finished, pointing at a pretty cake with plain frosting.
"That's just a plain one, now, is that okay?" Tomoyo warned him. Eriol shrugged.
"So," he began as she hunted in the space under her counter for a suitable cake box, "I haven't seen you around before. What's your name?"
Tomoyo paused in her rummaging to look up and smile warmly at him.
"Oh," she said, "it's Daidouji Tomoyo."
'Tomoyo,'he thought, 'cute name. Plus, she seems nice.'
"So, Daidouji-san, what brings you here to our little town?"
"Oh, I just moved away from home a week ago, on my seventeenth birthday."
Eriol was quite surprised at this.
"Wow. Seventeen is quite young to move away from home."
"Well," Tomoyo said, her head still in the space underneath the counter, "I had my reasons."
Eriol got the distinct feeling that, despite her smile, he had touched a nerve, for her tone was decidedly frosty.
"Well, there you go, Mr… Sorry, I don't think I got your name," Tomoyo said.
He smiled at her.
"I didn't give it to you. It's Hiiragizawa Eriol."
"Well, then, here you go, Mr. Hiiragizawa. I hope you like it, and I also hope that you come back to Chase Bakery," Tomoyo said, professional-employee façade firmly back in place.
"I suppose I'll see you around," Eriol said as he turned to walk out the door.
"Well," she said with a shrug and in a tone that was coolly indifferent, "it's a small town."
He smiled at her again and walked out the door, where Tomoyo watched him wait at the edge of the pavement before jogging across to the other side and out of sight.
"Well," said Ms Chase, suddenly reappearing from the back of the store, "I see you met Mr Hiiragizawa. He's cute, huh?"
She winked and Tomoyo laughed.
"And charming," Ms. Chase finished with a laugh of her own, causing Tomoyo to roll her eyes.
"When you have quite finished singing his praises…"
"Well, you certainly gave him some difficulty. Usually every girl he goes after falls into a heap at his feet straight away," Ms. Chase said thoughtfully.
"Oh, I know the type. Playboy?" Tomoyo guessed.
"Surprisingly, no. He'll chat up every girl he sees, but I don't think I have ever seen him with a girlfriend. I think he's lonely, and must be waiting for the right girl."
That surprised Tomoyo, as Eriol seemed to her to be the dictionary definition of the sort of guy who could have any girl he wanted. And, probably, he could. But he didn't abuse that. Perhaps she shouldn't judge him before she got to know more about him.
"You were an awfully long time in there on the phone," Tomoyo said, her lips twitching into a smile. Ms. Chase turned determinedly away, busying herself with re-arranging the display.
"Oh, come on! Spit it out! I know you were letting us talk."
Ms. Chase smiled, being a woman who knew when to admit defeat.
"Okay! Okay, so I admit it. I was done way before I came back in, but I would have totally killed the conversation. Besides, you need to make friends here, and Hiiragizawa knows everyone, and everyone knows him."
"But I thought you said he was lonely," Tomoyo said, confused.
"Oh, he is! Everyone else has their friends, but he's always… Alone. None of the girls are content to be just his friend, but he doesn't want a girlfriend. It's an awful pity."
"Then why doesn't he get some guy friends?!" Tomoyo asked, now completely bewildered.
Ms Chase shrugged and smiled wearily.
"They're all intimidated by him. Imagine you were a guy trying to go and ask girls out with Hiiragizawa as your friend! It would be a disaster!"
Ms Chase stopped talking after that and returned to re-arranging the display, but Tomoyo simply leant her elbows on the counter and stared out the large window and out into the street, her hands supporting her chin.
'So he's lonely, huh? Lonely and needs a friend…'
And although she would never admit it, Tomoyo was desperately lonely too…
To be continued…
A.N.:This, and my other new fic, 'Butterflies', are experiments, so I need as much encouragement as possible on those two! If I get enough reviews then expect the next chapter of this and of 'Butterflies' sometime soon!
Shattered Midnight Dreams