AN: Hehe. Hisashiburi da ne, minna? Sheesh. I'm so lazy. Well, after re-reading Healing by cruelfeline (which is still just as glorious as ever, and if you have yet to read it... there's something wrong with you), I was reminded of how much fun I had writing this thing, so. I guess I was blinded by my new passion for Piyoko and Coo (but this, by no means, signifies the end of me spitting out random drabbles of those two, cuz they're just amazing). :P
Anyhow. After reading back a little to remember what on earth was happening in this fic, I noticed that my writing is incredibly (grotesquely, horrifically, any of these fine adverbs will suffice) weak. I'm amazed that I have as many reviews as I do, and I would like to beg pardon for my lack of writing skills.
Sorry for the shortness. I was unmotivated and determined to prove I wasn't dead.
Alright, I suppose that's enough of my note. I know I've said this more than my fair share of times (and in fact, I think I just said it in the last chapter), but... ON WITH ZE FIC.
The tiny device Pudding grasped in her hand displayed displeasing numbers, and she sighed, tossing it at her pillow.
This morning, the monkey Mew had woken up and sat up straight in bed with the feeling that something was amiss. Out of place. She had to assess the situation. Out of habit from doing battle on a regular basis, she checked to see if she was cut or bruised in any way. Nope. Trying to blink away her drowsiness, she wondered briefly if she hit her head... reaching up to check, she had realized that she felt abnormally warm and dizzy...
One hundred and two. Pudding had a temperature.
"Why today of all days?" she lamented to herself, wearily changing out of her PJs and into her school uniform.
She had to be at her best for everyone; the household depended on her. The girl made a determined resolution to not let anyone on to the fact that sickness had befallen her. Why bother making everyone worry about her? And besides that, she had several exams in school today, and the café was having its special, one-day cake sale that always brought in a large throng. She absolutely could not fail!
"Wake up, everyone!" she tried to shout, but her voice failed her, so she resorted to the gong.
Bang, bang, bang, bang!
Moments later, her numerous siblings clamored out of their rooms, all dressed and ready to go. The alien boys trailed more slowly after them, comparatively less perky.
"Ohayou, na no da," Pudding greeted everyone in what she hoped sounded like her regular manner. "Umm..."
A quick glance at the clock and it dawned on her that she wasn't up nearly as early as she usually was... breakfast would have to be fast. "...Toast," she mumbled to herself, getting out a loaf of bread.
Everyone settled around the kitchen table curiously, accustomed to having their meals ready long before they were fully-conscious. Pudding always seemed to cook with an energetic vigor, but today, she just trudged about as if... something that they couldn't put their fingers on. Well, no one thought to ask, with the assumption that she just didn't sleep well made. So they ate and left for school as usual.
"Fon-san." Silence. All heads turned in the girl's direction. "Fon-san!"
Pudding snapped out of her reverie and looked up to her teacher. "Eh? Oh, sorry..." It was kind of hard for her to focus with her head spinning round and round, throbbing all the while.
"Please stand up."
Sick or not, Pudding blushed... how mortifying! She had never been made to stand up before. She just wanted to go back to bed. It didn't help that every other student gawked at her in wonder, all equally surprised to see Pudding Fon forced to stand up in class. Taruto's eyes, especially, locked onto his caretaker curiously... that wasn't like Pudding. He made a mental note to talk to her about it later.
Oh, and that was only the beginning of the girl's trials. Along with that, she also got a "D" on two of her exams and a "C" on another. She welcomed lunch break with open arms, elated to have a break from the torture.
"Oi, Pudding, are you okay?" Taruto asked, only allowing a mild hint of concern to be conveyed in his tone, sitting down next to the blonde.
"Pudding is fine, na no da!" she tried to reply cheerfully, even though she actually felt miserable. "I just didn't study very hard, I guess! Oh well."
Taruto held onto his suspicions, but decided that if she didn't want to talk about it, it was better not to push too hard. "Okay... let's eat, then..."
At work, Pudding was presented with more surprises.
"K-Kisshu?" Pudding was unsure whether or not the green-haired boy's presence was a good thing. "I thought you had work today...!"
He put on the sheepish grin that he wore when he knew he was in trouble. "Ehh, I sorta... got fired."
Don't say it so carelessly! Pudding commanded in her head, but decided not to vocalize it. She was most certainly not in the condition to bicker right now. Instead, she sighed. "But I thought your boss loved you."
"Well, she did... until the fries incident..."
"Ugh, I don't even want to know." Then another surprising face came into her view. "Pai? Don't tell me you got fired too, na no da...!"
Pai shook his head and replied, "Day off. I didn't know until I arrived there, so I reasoned that I could come here..." and his voice trailed off.
He never did explain what his motives were for coming to the café, but Pudding didn't bother to give it much thought. Duty called. The rush of customers was starting, as a group of highschoolers waited for a table, a couple insisted that they ordered a chocolate cake, not a cherry one, and a small girl spilled her smoothie all over the floor.
Extra money or not, I really hate this sale! Pudding moaned, equipping herself with a mop.
A very-frustrated-Ichigo glared at a way-too-happy-Kisshu. "What. Are. You. Doing. Here. AGAIN."
"I. Came. Because. I. Got. Fired. And—"
"TALK NORMALLY," the catgirl hissed. Kisshu wondered if her hair might stand up.
"I came because I got fired and I had nothing else to do." He smiled like a naughty child that had accomplished something very bad and was pleased that his mother was angry about it.
"Look, we're totally swamped. Last time was different because we weren't busy, but now I really don't need you to get in my way!"
Kisshu nodded simply. "Okay."
So Ichigo headed for the back kitchen, but immediately halted and turned around. "Why are you following me?"
Sigh. She kept walking, hoping he might disappear or something, but alas, he did not. In fact, he was following her way too closely. So after a few minutes of this, she spun around once again and declared, "If you're going to be here, the least you could do is help!"
In contrast to her demanding tone, Kisshu responded with a much more passive, composed tone. "Whatever you say, koneko-chan."
"And don't call me koneko-chan, especially not here!"
"...Whatever you say, Momomiya-sensei."
Ichigo sighed again. She ignored the inaccurate honorific, and proceeded to show him the the kitchen counter. "Do you know how to follow a recipe?" she asked, indicating a cook book.
"Yes, ma'am!" He now stood erect like a soldier. It seemed that to him, this was all just an amusing game.
"Alright, I want you to follow this recipe and make a cake. Be careful not to burn yourself on the oven. I'll be back in a while. The front café needs a lot of help, so I'm going to go help them. Got it?"
Kisshu nodded obediently, then questioned, "I thought the long-haired guy in the suit did all the cooking here." He was, of course, referring to Keiichiro.
"He's out, getting more supplies, because we're already running low," Ichigo answered, then said before leaving the boy to his own devices, "Don't do anything stupid."
"Aye aye, Momomiya-sensei!" He posed again, this time soluting.
Ichigo had a feeling that her last request was in vain.
And she was proven right a little over fifteen minutes later.
Everyone's favorite catgirl had finally relaxed a little as she attended calmly to each table. Without that green-haired alien pestering her, and even doing some of her work, she felt better. Maybe it was even a good thing he came!
But what happened next made Ichigo mentally slap herself silly.
Kisshu managed to make a cake explode.
First, there was a resounding BOOM, then the café's smoke alarms started blaring. Little children began crying, customers flocked out of the building. Ryou yelled, Retasu panicked, Pudding grabbed for an extinguisher, and Ichigo stormed to the eye of the storm: the kitchen.
"KISSHU!" she immediately screamed upon arrival. With a distressed expression, Kisshu watched flames from the oven dance about. "Don't just stand there, idiot!"
The fire continued to grow bigger, so Ichigo had to wade through a sea of smoke to grab the dumbfounded boy and reel him out. Pudding charged into the room in a football player-like manner and began to spray with the extinguisher. The disaster was gradually defeated, and everyone permitted themselves a sigh of relief.
But then came the real "fire".
Ichigo turned and shot Kisshu what was perhaps the iciest glare ever to touch her features.
"How is this even possible?" she demanded threateningly. "You made the cake explode AND catch on fire! I left you to help, and you just caused more trouble. Gosh, I swear, Kisshu, you are so—"
Her assult ceased when she realized the same eerily blank expression he was wearing a few minutes ago was still in place.
"Kisshu." His eyes lifted to meet hers, but they were empty... for a moment. Then then began to fill with guilt. His mournful face extinguished Ichigo's anger faster than Pudding had extinguished the fire.
"I..." His head lowered. "I'm sorry... I don't know what happened, but I just... I just wanted to help..."
The mew mew pat him on the shoulder, her own guilt starting to cultivate. His trembling pouty lip did nothing to allay her guilt. "Ahh, ah, it's okay...! Don't worry. No one was hurt, so that's what matters, and it was an accident..."
Kisshu immediately snapped back into his regular, upbeat mood. Pudding couldn't help but wonder if he wasn't just a drama queen as she stood by, watching the conversation take place. Either way, Ichigo fell for it.
Humph. Well. Back to work.
After scolding his colleague briefly for setting the building on fire, Pai returned to his chair in the corner of the café. Everything slowly wound back up to its regular pace, and he watched as customers shyly returned and the mews worked to tidy up. His eyes remained fixed on one of the mews in particular; the one with bright, blue eyes and long, green hair...
He felt so shameless about indulging his love for watching the shy one at work. Not even a small prick of guilt. This was the reason he had decided to spend his spontaneous day off at Café Mew Mew. To see Retasu.
She had such a petite, endearing way of carrying herself. She was, in every sense, moé, although Pai did not know this phrase, so he stuck with "cute".
Pai's only wish right now was that she would continue to fail in realizing that he was watching, so he could continue to watch and think about her without remorse... but a certain red-haired cat girl did.
And the discovery intrigued her quite a bit...
Notes: When students misbehave, it's not that uncommon for the teacher to make him/her stand up in class. I think it's just meant to make the trouble-maker feel ashamed.
Also, moé is a Japanese slang term, usually used in the anime/manga fandom. It's short for "moeru", literally meaning "budding" (like budding with desire). It's difficult to define in just a few sentences, so if you want to know more, I suggest you go to Wikipedia and search for "moe (slang)".