"Irasshaimase!" Omi greeted the new wave of high school girls jamming their way into the bakery, which at this point was standing room only. The Kitty in the Bakery had only been open for a week before news spread about the four handsome young men working there. Omi was happy to oblige the girls with small talk, recipe swapping and as many pastries as their diets allowed them to indulge.
"Kawanai datte okaeru!" Ran grumbled, trying to clear the area before the register so that their actual customers could make their purchases. Yohji was flirting and Omi was chatting with the girls with excitement, but Ran was glaring extremely hard. The room was so loud that Ken could barely move, but he did notice male voices among the squealing girls. Ken always found that amusing. The only reason that guys came around was either because of Omi or because of Aya-chan. However, everyone had learned their lessons. While Ran didn't fret about girl's flirting with Omi, the last guys that went near him and Aya-chan quickly got a boot to the bottom and a face full of asphalt.
Aya-chan and Ken swirled around serving coffee, tea and smoothies to the customers, Ken barely making it back to the counter alive. He constantly had to re-smooth his hair, retie his apron and re-button his shirt. Yohji seemed to encourage the girls' rowdy behavior especially now that all of the men working in the bakery were old enough to respond, but Ken had other things in mind—sports being number one.
"Hey, Ken!" he heard Araki's voice sail across the room from the front doors. Araki and Ken's other teammates were an exception to the rule when it came to male customers. While the others paid their bills, Araki and his teammates always assumed their orders were compensated because they were friends with Ken. That, and the opening of the bakery was due entirely to the Yamamoto family.
Ken turned to see his friends. Araki was there with Yamamoto and Genjimaru was perched on Araki's shoulders. The first table automatically cleared, as was custom when Yamamoto entered the building. The three sat down just as Ken made it over to them.
"Nice to see things are booming as usual," Yamamoto said.
"Nice for you…not so much for me," Ken said, and then he chuckled. Yamamoto reached up and fingered along the newly unclasped section of Ken's shirt.
"I beg to differ," he said. Ken raised an eyebrow at him and glanced over to Araki.
"Three orders of Omi's famous rocky road brownies, please," Araki said. Ken nodded and patted Genji on the head.
"Coming right up," he said. When he approached the counter, Omi already had the order ready, including three cups of hot chocolate. "You shouldn't spoil them," Ken said.
"It's my pleasure. We wouldn't have any of this if it weren't for him. This is like a dream come true!" Ken grinned as he took the tray, thinking about Omi's words.
Ken felt as if he'd never seen Omi shine so much. In the past, when they lived above the Koneko, Omi was an okay cook, but he had always had a penchant for baking. Every now and then, he would get into a baking kick and make cake, or cookies, or brownies, and they always went over well with his housemates. None of them knew, however, how much Omi truly enjoyed baking.
He was enrolled in the fall semester at a medium-sized culinary school where he was majoring as a pastry chef and he worked closely with the store's hired baker, Wataru, who was Momoe's youngest son. He would get up at four in the morning to be able to learn all the tricks of the trade from Wataru, a veteran to the business. Omi never complained and he never lost the sparkling gleam in his eye.
Ken lifted the tray high above his head as he went back over to the table. Genjimaru's eyes lit up as he saw the brownies and he reached for one before Ken could sit the plate down. Araki smiled at him and then at Ken.
"Yum!" Genji said, after taking a large bite.
"Just like Nonni's," Araki said. Ken waved at them.
"Enjoy, guys!" he said. As he turned to walk away, Yamamoto grabbed his wrist.
"When do you get off, Ken?" he said.
"That's a loaded question around these parts," Ken said, glancing at the eager faces leaning close to him.
"Then call me," Yamamoto said. "We'll hang."
"You got it." Yamamoto let him go and Ken slipped away from him. He returned the tray to the front and Omi took it from him.
Omi turned around to sit the tray amongst the others, listening dutifully to the enthusiastic voices behind him.
"A box of truffles, Omi-kun!"
"Omi-chan, the pecan trellis!"
"The mocha cheesecake, Omi!"
"Can I have your number?" Omi glanced at Ran's scowl as he turned back to the counter. He stuck his tongue out at Ran, who then visibly relaxed.
"Coming right up!" Omi said with a large grin. Ran handed him the box of truffles, which he quickly wrapped in a sheer, purple and blue ribbon, a trademark of the bakery. He sealed it with a golden logo and handed it back to Ran.
"I still don't know what you were thinking," Ran said, ringing up the girl who was still ogling Omi. "A bakery. Us?"
"It's going well so far," Yohji said, sliding up behind them to dispense drinks.
"We need to dwindle this crowd, the storm's picking up."
"People 'round these parts love this kinda weather," Yohji said. "And so do I. Just look at all these scantily clad honies in their cute little jackets with the fur. It's just magical, this season." Ran nearly rolled his eyes.
"School's almost out for me, Ran-chan, so I'll be home in the evenings from now on," Omi said, handing him the boxed trellis.
"Are you trying to cheer me up," Ran asked, continuing his transactions.
"Yep, and judging from those goose bumps on your arm, I think it's working."
"There's a draft," Ran said.
"My ass," Yohji said as he left to deliver the drinks. Ran gave a sideward glance to Omi, a rather suspicious glint in his eye.
"Yeah," he said. Omi gave him the container with the cheesecake. A girl leaned over the counter.
"You guys should start a kissing counter," she said with a 100 yen coin poised between her pointer and middle fingers. "What d'ya say, Omi-kun?" She waved the yen, and then grinned.
"Sorry, Sayaka-chan," Omi said. "If you want a piece of me, you'll have to stick with the desserts I made."
"Then how about your number, cutie?"
"Now that can be arranged." Ran looked down at him quickly. Omi pulled out a folder piece of paper and held it up by the corners as she held up the yen. Her eyes widened as if she couldn't believe it. Omi chuckled and handled it to her. "Please, give me a call," he said politely. In the circle around Sayaka, things became quiet as the patrons gaped in disbelief. Then came the stunned voices from here and there about the bakery.
"He…he gave her his number."
"Isn't Omi Ran's boy?"
"He just gave her his number!"
"Sssh-sssh-ssssssssh!" Sayaka's best friend Yumari hushed up the crowd. Sayaka remained stunned with the paper.
"Open it, don't just stand there!" Yumari ordered. Sayaka looked over to her, still gaping. Yumari snatched it from her and opened it herself. Her eyes widened.
"It's a number…" she said and she and Sayaka began hoping up and down. Omi smirked at Ran, whose jaw had tightened in displeasure. Omi winked at him.
"Let me see that!" Takei Ryuuichi, Omi's self-proclaimed number one fan, came up between them and snatched the paper. He read it over and then lowered his hand in disgust. "You would think that Prince Omi would bestow something as sacred as his private number to the likes of you. Anyone who loves Omi knows what this number is for."
"It's Omi's!" Sayaka said. Takei scoffed.
"You're a dimwit."
"It is Omi's!" Sayaka said, standing her ground.
"Dial it then," Takei said, rolling his neck.
"I will!" The entire place hushed down as Sayaka pulled out her cell phone and dialed the number. She put it to her ear and everyone looked at Omi. The phone on the wall rang and Omi smiled as he received the call.
"Kitty in the Bakery, how may I serve you today?" he asked with a chuckle. Sayaka's jaw dropped. Takei smirked at her.
"Wannabe," he said.
"Damn, you got played, girl," someone behind Sayaka said as the noise began to rise in the small bakery again.
"Omi," Sayaka pouted. "How could you?"
"Sorry, doll," Omi said as he hung up. "But my heart belongs to someone already."
"I know, I know," Sayaka said. Omi bumped hips with Ran and chuckled at him.
"I had you going there for a while, didn't I?" he said. Ran just sighed. Omi squeezed him arm and leaned closer to him. "I have to go for a Pomme run. Will you be okay?"
"Be back in ten."
"Take your time." Omi ducked through the beaded opening to the back rooms. He bypassed the kitchen to reach the doors to the apartments above the shop. He hurried up the stairs until he reached the third floor where he and Ran shared a one bedroom apartment. He slipped off his shoes and apron at the door and bent to pick up Pomme as he scrambled into the room to greet him.
"Hey babes!" Omi said, holding him in his arms. "Ready to go out?" Pomme barked at him. "Will do, cap'n." Omi went through the apartment to the back door where he slipped on his boots and scrambled down the stairs with Pomme. As soon as he opened the door, Pomme leapt from his arms and down into the snowcapped grass where he wriggled and sniffed about with excitement.
Now that he was working and going to school, Omi wasn't able to spend as much time with Pomme as he had been he was first got him. He followed him around the yard, chasing him and throwing things for him to retrieve. Pomme seemed to cherish these times with Omi almost as much as Omi did, though he probably preferred it after the shop was closed when Omi could wrestle and play with him down in the grass. "Tired yet?" Omi asked and Pomme growled at him as if telling him 'not by a long shot.'
Omi continued to run around with him, happy to be free enough to do these types of things. The only commitments he had now were honest and just ones to himself. He was no longer tied down by the weight and uncertainty of Weiß and of its leaders at Kritiker. He was no longer worried about Schwarz and retaliation. He didn't have to bear the endless headaches and odd dreams of working in a factory. And best of all, he didn't have to listen to weird songs and voices in his head.
The only thing that hadn't changed was the constant headache he received every time he tried to open a mysterious file from Sussex in his mailbox online. He couldn't remember how the file got there, and every time he questioned it caused a pounding pain in his head. He was never able to ask any one about it for that very reason and he tried not to think about it. But he let the file sit in his mailbox so that he would never forget about it.
Omi had grown accustomed to not living with Ken and Yohji anymore. They had moved out of their house in the suburbs and all found some place close to the bakery. Aya still lived with Sakura and Momoe at the flower shop. She worked at the bakery part time just for fun. Ken was closer to his gym and was able to get another motorcycle to take back and forth to work. Though they only really got together to run the bakery with one another, Omi still considered himself close with them. He considered them all to be his family.
Ran and Omi ran the bakery primarily. Yohji had found another job that required him to wear a suit and that he was apparently very good at. Omi felt as if every time he saw him, he was wearing something swank and new. He was proud of Yohji, though whenever he saw him in a suit, he thought he looked out of place in it.
As far as Omi knew, Ken, Yohji and he were able to move on and assimilate into society without many hang ups. Ran, on the other hand, seemed to be taking his time getting back into the swing of ordinary life. Not a day went by that Ran wasn't glued to the TV during the news or that he didn't have his head stuck in a paper, disapproving of the societal ills and silently yearning to make a difference in the world. Omi began to worry about him, but he was also still thinking about not so positive topics. Their last job as Weiß left some loose ends he felt had never been specifically handled, but being that he no longer worked for Kritiker, there was no way he would be able to find out how everything was resolved.
Omi was happy to have some semblance of a normal life. Though Ran basically ran everything, Omi was living with him and sharing space with him more closely now, and he was able to learn more about how the world worked. He enjoyed his classes and expanding his mind; he was looking forward to being able to travel freely within the next tens years if profits continued as they were. And he was happy to have his "family" and the support of his friends and neighbors. Things were peaceful and serene in his world. Though he would never forget the darkness shrouding his past, Omi was now basking in the glow of his promising and beckoning future.
All done! I have tried hard to spot mistakes and irregularities throughout the story before posting these final chapters. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know. As always, thank you for reading and please review,
And as an added favor, I would like to say a special thanks to Mayhem21 and eMu3 for sticking with me and letting me know how they felt about Angel Eyes at just about every turn. Also a special thanks to SanoUno (who I suppose is now big-bad-omi), whose first review lead to the continuation of Angel Eyes. Arigatou Gozaimasu, mina!