woohoo! i finished this chappie in 1 day! 1 DAY! YAY 4 ME! anyways, this story has over 400 hits, even though there r only 6 reviews 4 it. so im only going to update once i get more reviews!

thanks to my reviewers! i hope u like this chap. i personally think it is the best so far!


Romance 'a la Food

Chapter 4

The Restaurant

"Beef Chow Me…" Pirika trailed off, staring at the word on the menu, deciphering how it was pronounced. A low growl escaped from her throat as she stared at the menu with devil like eyes. Ren sweat-dropped. If she stared any harder, he could have sworn the menu would burst into flames. Giving up, she flung the menu at Ren's head and screamed, "I can't read freakin' Chinese!"

"Mein. It's Beef Chow Mein, you dumb girl. Any fool can pronounce that, I assure you." Ren had caught the menu that had been flung at his head, but he was angry because that menu just happened to give him a paper cut. Tao Ren did not like paper cuts. Especially ones that were caused by some dumb girl throwing menus at his head. "And I thought you said there weren't a lot cows out there. They could be going into extinction because of you."

Pirika glared at him. Who died and let him use her own words against her? "Don't you aggravate me. Horo-horo will pummel your ass if you do!" Right after I pummel his ass for making me have to go to this stupid restaurant with stupid Ren.

The Chinese boy sighed and muttered under his breath, "I hope you get mad cow disease."

Pirika, although she heard the comment, chose to ignore it. Maybe she could just ignore this boy until her brother got there. She looked closely at the menu and sighed. "I'll just get the Sweet & Sour Pork."

"Pig." The boy mumbled. Pirika sent him a death glare. Ren glanced at the menu, and said, "I'll be right back." He got up, leaving Pirika all alone as he made his way to the kitchen, where he knew Jun would be.

Pirika glanced down at her hands on the table. Where was Horo-horo? Why hadn't he come yet? What was taking him so long? She knew he had to get Tamao and Yoh, possibly Anna if Yoh had convinced her to come. But she also knew it wouldn't take him this long. He should have been at the restaurant fifteen minutes ago when she had arrived with Ren.

The Ainu girl reflected on the walk to the restaurant. It had consisted of Ren walking too fast for her taste, her walking too slow for his taste, him shoving people out of the way, her almost getting run over several times, and him constantly shouting or mumbling insults. Pirika could have sworn she heard him say, 'She's just like her baka brother' once after she tripped over a dirty lollipop on the road.

It just figures that the one guy I like has to be the one who is my sole enemy. I hate irony, she closed her eyes as she rested her head on her hands. She started to hum a tune she had heard that morning when she got up. Pirika felt that humming was one way to relax herself when she was stressed. And for her, being alone with Tao Ren while he insulted and humiliated her was stressing.

Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. I'll have to buy something yummy once I go home. Pirika thought excitedly. Maybe Ren's sister had some special Chinese chocolate cake or pie hiding somewhere in the restaurant. Or better yet, a special Chinese chocolate cake and pie. She salivated at the thought.

While in her dazed state, Pirika had not noticed that Ren had come out of the kitchen. As he made his way back to the table, he glanced at Pirika's face. Usually, he'd stop himself before he got the urge to look at her. But her eyes were closed, so he guessed it'd be okay. She didn't know that he'd be staring at her with a foreign expression on his face that he didn't like people to see.

He sat back down on his chair quietly, so as not to clue her in that he was back. He placed his arm on the table and propped his head on his fist, staring at her. The Ainu girl's red lips were cast upward in a small, secretive smile. He wondered about what she was thinking, or if she was thinking about someone. From the look on her face, she must have been thinking about something or someone she adored very much.

Startling the Tao, Pirika opened her eyes halfway in a dreamy state. She reached for her purse, a very expensive, cute purse that she had received from Tamao on her last birthday (Ren only knew about this because he had been at her birthday party, forced there by that baka of a Ainu she called her big brother), and pulled out her wallet. She counted her money and sighed in defeat. The Ainu girl went on to mumble, "I think Horo spent the last of his money on those doughnuts this morning."

She hadn't noticed she had company yet. Ren tapped his fingers on the table, staring at her with a bored expression. "Why do you need money?"

Pirika jumped back, her chair tipping over a bit. Just as she was about to fall on the floor, she righted herself and screamed, "Tao! How dare you get the nerve to scare me like that. I could've died of a heart attack!"


"So you want me to die?"

Never. "That was my intent."

"You're so cruel, Tao Ren."

I wish I could show you I wasn't. "Exactly."

Pirika exhaled sharply, crossing her arms over her chest in a childlike manner. "Go jump off a bridge, Ren."

If it'll make you happy. "You didn't answer my question. Why do you need money?"

The Ainu girl got that dreamlike look in her eyes as she peered out of the window she was facing. Clasping her hands together on the table, she answered, "I wanted to get some short cakes once we were done here."

Ren's eyes widened just a bit. It amazed him how much she admired food of any kind. She was just like her brother, in a way.

Except Horo never made him feel happy whenever he was around. Horo never made him feel so guilty and…heartless whenever Ren insulted him. Horo didn't make him feel any of the things he felt whenever Pirika was around.

They were silent after that. It was uncomfortable. They had never been so quiet before in each other's presence. Usually, it was they insulted each other and then one of them left in a pout. But they couldn't leave, because Horo-horo would complain that they hadn't saved them a table. And hearing Horo-horo complain was annoying. Also, Ren had just had a hell of a time telling the cooks their order, and then yelling at them when they didn't make their order fast enough.

Pirika stared at the window, and was delighted to see a blue-headed figure walking down the street with a pink-headed girl. She let out a breath and squealed, "Horo-horo's here!" She rushed out of the restaurant to scream at her baka of a big brother.

Tao Jun watched as the docter poured some red liquid over Ren and Pirika's orders. The liquid seemed to melt into the food as Faust poured about a pint of the red liquid onto each dish. He laughed evilly as the bottle he was holding emptied. Jun and Bailong stared at each other nervously. This plan had better work for the better. She didn't want Ren to complain about her meddling with his life. Again…

She took the dishes away from Faust, inching away slowly as though he would attack her if she moved too quickly. She handed the dishes to Bailong, who she watched as he delivered the dishes to Ren's table. Pirika was outside, screaming at her brother. Ren was staring blankly at the wall as Bailong set his order in front of him.

Pirika came back inside the restaurant, and was delighted to see that their food had arrived. She sat down and picked up her chop sticks along with Ren. Jun giggled as she watched the two each take their first bite.

"No fair! Pirika already got her food. Where's mine?" Horo-horo whined as he watched his little sister take her first bite.

The Ainu girl chewed her sweet and sour pork slowly and thoughtfully before she squealed in delight, "It's delicious! The best Chinese I ever tasted!" She turned to the Chinese boy across from her. "I'll have to compliment Jun on such a fine dish. It's like being in heaven." She stared into space with that dreamy look, a huge, goofy smile on her face. Ren only nodded in agreement. Pirika, noticing he hadn't yet insulted her on being a pig, asked politely, "What did you get, Ren?"

He looked startled at her question. Why shouldn't he be? She was speaking to him in a manner that was neither hostile nor insulting. "Vegetable Lo Mein." He answered in a low tone. He adverted his eyes to his plate for a second, and when he looked back up, Pirika was looking back at him still with the same smile plastered on her flawless face. Ren felt his cheeks heat up, but he did not remove his gaze from the Ainu girl. She was acting strange.

And yet, despite that fact, she was still breathtakingly beautiful…

Ren reined his thoughts. He didn't like to think those kind of things about his enemy's little sister. Even if she did like him (and something like that was as foolish and crazy as Horo-horo and Yoh wearing hula skirts and coconut bras while doing the electric slide), there was no way in hell that Horo would allow them to date each other. In fact, Horo would probably poison Ren's food right that second if he ever got a clue that Ren liked his baby sister. Also, there was the fact that Pirika didn't go out with guys like him, the guys she labeled as 'arrogant obnoxious jackasses'.

Or, in his case, 'The Arrogant, Obnoxious, Really Egotistic Nincompoop'.

He should feel really special because she made an acronym out of his name. On the other hand, he really didn't like being called a nincompoop.

Yoh loved detention. Considering that he had detention almost every week of the school year because he kept falling asleep in class, he just had to be used to detention. Normally, the other students in detention with him worked on homework or graded assignments for their detention teacher. But, Yoh, being Yoh, chose to sleep. Because Yoh liked to sleep. And Yoh would never give up an hour of sleeping time, even though he had to write a five-page apology to his teacher.

But Yoh, being Yoh, wasn't worried about the five-page apology. If he was nice enough, he could get Hao to talk to the teacher and ask for a one-page apology instead. But knowing Hao, he'd probably threaten the teacher with a very accusing picture that could be shown to the teacher's wife at any time if he didn't agree to let Asakura Yoh off the hook. Because Hao, being Hao, just had to do things the complicated way.

By the time detention was over, Yoh was in a deep slumber, dreaming about a land filled evil killer ponies that tried to eat the orange princess, and Yoh was the orange prince that had to save the orange princess from the evil killer ponies' killer pet ogres. It was a tragic dream, one that left Yoh whimpering in his sleep. That is, until someone decided to push his drooling, sleeping form off his desk.

Yoh awoke to find he was lying on the dirty classroom floor, drool crawling from the corner of his mouth and Anna towering over him with a vicious glare set on her face. Her mouth was a thin line on her face, and she seemed like she was going to say something. But they stared quietly at each other instead. Well, Anna glared, while Yoh stared at her with a dazed, sleepy stare.

"Are you going to get up or not, you moron?" Anna asked, rolling her eyes as she turned away from him.

Yoh nodded, still dazed from his sleep and the surprise that she was still at the school. He followed her out of the classroom and out of the school. When she stopped at the gate and turned to face him, he cowered, fearing that she'd kill him with that menacing scowl. "Well? Are you going to take me to this restaurant or not?" she snapped.

The brunette scratched his head. Anna let out a breath of agitation before he quickly remembered the restaurant Ren had told him about. He nodded his head as an answer to her question, his carefree smile bright. The two stood there, silent.

Anna let out another breath. Then, gathering up her strength, she punched him squarely in the face. She yelled at him, "Start walking then, idiot! Take me to the stupid restaurant. It's five o'clock and I'm hungry!" She shook him by the front of his shirt as if to emphasize her point before throwing him into the ground.

Giving a sheepish smile, Yoh's voice faltered. "Umm…uh…A-Anna…"

"What?" the girl snapped.

"I…I don't…know where it is."

"Ah, Tamao! You've gotta try this. Try it, try it!" Horo-horo smiled widely as he pushed his chopsticks towards the pink-haired girl. He had just tried the chicken subgum chow mein, and its taste was so amazing that he just had to have his crush taste it also.

Tamao laughed shyly, her laugh like music to the Ainu's ears that sent tingles up and down his spine and what not. She went to say something to him, but as soon as her mouth was open, he plopped the food into her mouth. She blushed at the thought that she was eating off his chopsticks as she chewed the food thoughtfully like Pirika had. Nodding her head in agreement with Horo on the food's good taste, she found it was hard to form words. She had just eaten off of a boy's utensils. It was like an indirect kiss. Her first indirect kiss, to be exact. It was something to get speechless over.

Pirika held her hand over her mouth to hide her smile. Tamao looked at her friend and blushed. Pirika had just finished her meal when her brother and Tamao had gotten theirs. Ren had finished his also, but the two both chose to stay to keep the other girl and boy company.

"It's getting late. I wonder where Yoh is." Tamao worried. It was five thirty, and Yoh's detention had been let out at five. "He was supposed to meet us here."

Pirika looked at her friend. "Detention? How'd Yoh get a detention?" Tamao sighed as she told Pirika and the Chinese boy about Anna and the note and how Yoh had received his detention. Pirika whistled when the tale was over while Ren just shrugged and proceeded to steal Horo-horo's wanton soup. Pirika looked at her older brother and asked casually, "Did you give Yoh the right directions?"

Horo stopped what he was doing, which was stuffing a huge bite of chicken chow mein into his mouth. He stared at Pirika as though she had grown another three heads and announced she was pregnant with an alien baby.

Ren sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "Did you give Yoh any directions?"

Horo glared at the Chinese boy. Ren gave a small smirk.

Pirika glared at her brother and flew her empty cup at his head. It hit Horo and he ended up on the floor, choking on his food. Tamao kneeled next to him, worried he would choke to death. She helped him sit up and hit his back so he coughed up the food he was choking on. When it was all over, Horo-horo pointed an accusing finger at his sister and screamed, "You almost killed me!" Ignoring the scared look on the other customers' faces, he cried, "Why would you want to kill your only big brother, Pirika? I've only ever been a good brother to you!"

Pirika ignored her brother and said, "I'm going home now. I've got an essay due tomorrow."

"Pirika!" Horo-horo whined. "You can't just go out in the street and walk home! What if someone tries to…" he looks at her with big eyes and spoke in a small, strained voice. "…hurt you?"

The Ainu girl gave her brother a deadpan look. There was an awkward silence in the restaurant as no one dared to do or say anything. Pirika let out a small sigh before punching her brother. Then, as she watched her brother foam at the mouth on the floor, she turned to Ren and said in a sweet voice, "Ren will take me home, won't you, Ren?"

The Tao looked at the unconscious Ainu on the floor and shrugged. "I guess. I have nothing better to do." He put on a calm face, while inside, he was flipping out. Since when did he ever agree to escort Pirika home? What was in that food that caused them both to act so strangely?

As the two left the restaurant, Tamao had somehow managed to snap Horo out of his comatose state. They both sat down at the table and continued to eat their meal in silence. Tamao watched the two kittens before her. Ren had personally gone to the kitchen to receive a saucer of warm milk for the two animals, and they were quickly lapping the milk up eagerly. The girl's eyes softened at the sight and she turned to Horo-horo. "I want to thank you again, Horo-san. I think I'm falling in love with them." Tamao giggled softly as she turned back to the kittens.

The Ainu, on the other hand, was trying not to hyperventilate openly. The soft, caring, loving look she had glued to her face when she looked at him had surprised him so much, he felt like he had fallen in love with her all over again. He looked down at his food. Maybe this Chinese food had a 'special' ingredient in it. So special that he had daydreamed that Tamao had looked at them like they were really lovers.

That couldn't be true. I would have tasted any special ingredient. Horo-horo shrugged off his thoughts and figured that his food was some kind of aphrodisiac.

"Isn't it fun to walk home when the sun's setting, Ren?" Pirika asked, skipping along the road. Ren walked a meter away from her. A small smirk played on his face as he watched the Ainu girl.

Pirika turned around, shocking him. She smiled brightly at him before turning back to skip in the direction of her house again. Then, all of a sudden, she stopped her jolly skipping and looked to her left. Her pointer finger went to her lips in deep thought, her lower lip set in a small, barely visible pout. Her eyes clouded with longing and want. Ren followed her gaze, and almost fell to the ground in disbelief.

She was staring at the window of a small bakery, almost drooling at the sight of the small short cakes filled with whipped cream and strawberries.

"What are you doing?" Ren snapped. "I want to get home. And I can't until I get you home."

Pirika turned to face him, the smile that she had graced him with before showing nowhere on her face. "Shut up, Tao! I can do anything I want to. You can go home on your own. I only said you'd take me home so I could get away form Horo. If you don't want to be with me, then you can leave. I wonder why you're still here."

Because I want to see you home, like a normal boyfriend would do after a date. But that isn't possible because I'll never be your boyfriend, and we'll never go on any date. Ren frowned, but Pirika mistook it as something else other than self-reproach.

Pouting, Pirika said quietly, "In fact, you can just leave right now. I don't need you to escort me home. I can't stand being with you anymore."

Not admitting it to himself, but those last words of hers hurt. A lot. In fact, it hurt so much that Ren felt like he was tearing into tiny little pieces very slowly. Not showing his hurt, Ren gave a grunt and turned around to leave.

Pirika turned to leave herself. But there was something in her heart that made her head turn just in time to see the Chinese boy duck into the bakery that she had been looking so longingly at. She stood upright until he walked out several minutes later. He saw her and walked over to her, pulling something out of the bag he was carrying in his arms. Pirika gave a small gasp when she saw the short cake that she had been staring ravenously at only moments ago.

"Well, don't just stand there, take it." Ren grumbled. Pirika took it, thinking subconsciously, He didn't insult me. He could have called me a stupid girl, but he didn't.

Pirika was speechless. "Why…wha…?"

"Despite what you may think, I'm not always so heartless." Pirika gave an inward gasp. She looked into his golden eyes, only to have him look away at the other people passing by them on the street. The Ainu girl suddenly had the huge urge to wrap her arms around him and hold him in her arms, to tell him that she didn't think he was heartless at all, that he was the most amazing man she had ever met, that she like-no, loved him…

He turned to face her again, his smirk showing the evil, cruel side she knew and hated. "Besides, I couldn't just leave a starving pig on the street, now could I?"

Pirika's face dropped, and she glared her most lethal glare at the Chinese boy. Ren gave a small, evil chuckle. He pulled something else from his bag and handed it to her. Pirika took the peach bun in his hand, her glare still present, but she let her fingers linger over his hand as she took the bun. They watched their fingers lag momentarily before both flushed, embarrassed.

"I'll see you…tomorrow." Ren nodded to her before he turned away.

The Ainu nodded solemnly, watching as he walked away. Then, on a sudden impulse, she yelled out, "Ren!" The boy whipped around eagerly-much too eagerly, Pirika mentally noted. "I…I don't think you're heartless." She saw him nod in the glare of the setting sun, as though he was assuring her. Assuring her that she wasn't foolish for feeling such fanciful feelings for him.

sorry, but since im obsessed w/ Ren/Pirika at the moment, i didn't include that much Anna/Yoh or Tamao/Horo.

so tell me what u think about this chapter! was it good? bad? funny? stupid? the most horrible and ridiculous thing u ever did read?

be nice & review please! if not, im not going to continue this story!