The ice was cold beneath Canty's fingers as she stared at the
smooth white surface below her. The rink was deserted, her parents had
long left, even the night janitor had packed up his things and locked
the door behind him just shortly before Canty scampered to the side
door and pressed her key into the lock. A flick of her wrist, the
right combination in the security system, and the lights across the
vast, empty stadium-style area had buzzed to life.

Slowly, the teenager had walked across the ice, her sneakers
slipping here and there. Running a graceful hand across the top of the
side supports surrounding the ice, Canty reflected on the moment she
knew Tsuzuki Masanori could never be hers. Chieri won the competition,
but it did not matter, because she had already won his heart. Canty
remembered the brittle feeling in her chest as the arms she always
dreamed of swept around the other blonde's thin waist, the blue eyes
that always seemed to detached were bright and focused into the other
girl's eyes.

"Cherry," he murmured, only for her, but Canty could still hear
him, as if every other sound in the stadium had faded into dead
silence, colors blurring around the couple before her eyes, "will you
pair skate with me?"

Canty knew from the beginning that she would lose... Tsuzuki was
her angel. But that girl, too... she was beautiful like an angel...
Canty was not suited for their world...

Canty turned away before she saw them kiss, and felt her face
smack almost directly into a soft sweater.

"Oniisan?" Why was he looking at her so kindly? "That's not
true," he said, green eyes understanding.

She hadn't realized she'd spoken her thoughts out loud.

He put a comforting arm around her and for a moment Canty felt
something flicker in her the hollowness of her chest. She was loved.

"I see angel wings on your shoulders," Kouichi had smiled.

Now Canty knelt on the ice, the coldness spreading to her knees,
to her hands. "You were the only one, nii-chan," she choked out
through her tears, "who saw an angel in the snobby skating princess."

Black mascara ran down perfect cheeks, damp hair clung to the
sides of Canty's face. She had to admit Chieri was everything she
wasn't: modest, sweet, innocent, childlike... completely uncorrupted by
the world of fame and constant praise. And so was Yuni, all those

So close to her brother, curled in his arms...

"Oniisan," she murmured, sniffling in the cool air, her hands and
toes numb, "have you found your angel?"

Now he'll only see wings on Yuni's shoulders, she realized, and
no one will be there to make me an angel, too.

Outside, a soft sprinkling of snow began to fall on Tokyo.

"Tsuzuki, it's snowing!" Chieri cried, cold wind tinted her
cheeks and nose a soft rose color, her eyes were as bright and
brilliant as a child seeing the world for the first time.

Taking one mittened hand in his, Tsuzuki gave Chieri a rare and
brilliant smile.

"So what do you want to do now, Angel?" he said, laughing
slightly, "we already saw the display at Macy's, the Egyptian temple in
the museum, and pretended we could afford to shop on 5th avenue. What

Chieri was silent, blinking snow off of her dark eyelashes as she
thought. The wind rustled the wisps of hair curling around her ears,
tiny white teeth nibbled slightly on pink lips, small hands pulled at
the soft material of the scarf around her neck. Tsuzuki felt for a
moment like he had been punched in the stomach, like all the air had
left his lungs. The feeling was familiar, he couldn't place the first
time he felt it, but it was enough to make him break a promise to his
father, flee an international airport, and even break another girl's
heart. It was the feeling of knowing, beyond certainty, beyond
question, that he was completely and totally in love.

"Cherry," he said, softy, and she turned to him and he was
falling like he had just finished a quadruple: knowing exactly how he
would land and how it would feel, "arigatou."

Blue eyes blinked up at him, "Nani?" she whispered, but he just
shook his head, eyes so tender that she wanted suddenly to cry.

His gloved hand cupped her face and her face burned with the
knowledge that they were in the middle of a crowded street, Christmas
carols and the smell of vender's food heavy in the air, the babble of
children blurring in with the din of the crowds. But all that faded
when he kissed her. The air was cold, but his mouth was so warm and
for a moment she forgot everything, the packages in her hands almost
fell to the pavement when her boyfriend's arms pulled their bodies as
close together as the thick winter coats would let them.

"Cherry," he said breathlessly, "I don't know how you did it to
me, but-"

"I love you," she interrupted before he could say it, dimpling up
at him as she stepped backwards, never giving him a chance to say it,
never letting him forget who said it first, "and I've decided I want to
go to Rockefeller Center next."

"Ch-" an electronic ringing interrupted his thoughts and shaking
his head, Tsuzuki pulled out the cell phone from his pocket, "Asaka-

Chieri took the tiny phone from his hand and pressed it to her
ear, "Daddy? Yeah, want to meet for lunch? And then we can do
Rockefeller together?"

"Hai, Chieri-chan, that's fine," Asaka said into the payphone
outside of a large bookstore with kanji writing across the black window
panes, "I'm right near Rockefeller anyway."

Pausing, he folded the Japanese newspaper he had just bought at
Kinokuniya and hesitantly asked, "Are you having fun with Tsuzuki-san?"

She sounded so completely happy and elated as she giggled back to
him that, yes, she was having the time of her life. He tried to return
her happiness as they made their lunch plans, but for the life of him,
Asaka could not bring a smile to his face.
"The VCR is all set to tape," Kouichi said as Yuni entered his
house in the early evening.

"I can't believe you can get a New York station," she answered him, "so
we can see them live!"

Kouichi checked his watch, "Yeah, tomorrow at ten am, or New York time
seven p.m. the night before."

He grinned at her, "I figured I'd set it up early, we can spare one of
our five VCRs."

She gave him the look he was baiting for.

"Technogeek," she muttered, and he grinned.

He has really straight teeth, Yuni thought, knowing it was ridiculous.
And really long eyelashes...

A few moments later, they both realized they had been staring at each
other a little too long, and Yuni blushed and laughed nervously,
pulling a hand through her hair.

"Did you call Hiroshi?" she said, after searching a bit for a topic.


Just then the front door opened and closed with slam. The two
exchanged a confused looked and walked into the foyer.

"Canty-san?" Yuni said.

The famed ice-princess turned and gave Yuni a look so cold it chilled
the older girl through.

Swallowing, Yuni lifted her head, refusing to stoop to the level of
this spoiled brat who almost sabotaged her best friend. "We were
wondering if you wanted to watch Cherry and Tsuzuki-san's skate
tomorrow with us-"

"No," she said curtly, "I have much more important things to do then
watch TV like over-excited children."

Without another word, the youngest Akiyama turned on her heel and
marched up the stairs, leaving Yuni and her brother in utter shock.


"I can't believe you dragged me into FAO Schwartz," Tsuzuki complained
good-naturedly that night as the three ate dinner together in the hotel

Chieri smiled, "It's a tradition, Tsuzuki. You can't go to New York
and not go into FAO Schwartz." She smiled at him, "I want my present
from there, Tsuzuki," she made a show of looking innocent, "hint,

"Oh," he mocked surprise, "and here I was all set to go to Tiffany's."

A napkin flew across the table, missing him by a few inches.

Laughing, he picked it up from the floor, "Stick to skating, Cherry."

She blushed slightly. 'Tsuzuki,' she thought, 'you are so beautiful
when you laugh like that...' It was a strange thing to think she might
be the reason for the ice prince, the poker-faced Tsuzuki Masanori, to
let go and just laugh. Did she make him that happy? As happy as he
made her? Was that even possible?

Asaka studied the water in his glass, the ice-cubes bumping into each
other slightly.

"You're quiet tonight, Dad," his daughter said, leaning toward him
slightly, "daijoubu ka?"

He looked up, surprised, "Hai," he lied, "so what's up for you two

"Practice," Tsuzuki said flatly, all traces of amusement gone from his
features. "Bright and early, all day."

Chieri sighed, leaning her head on her hand, "Gomen ne, Dad, but he's
right. We have to practice if we are going to look good out there
tomorrow night."

"Want to get a few hours in before bedtime?" Tsuzuki was asking her,
and Chieri nodded enthusiastically.

You really do love skating, Asaka-san thought, just like I do.

But it was different, to realize how much she loved pair skating then
to realize how much she loved her partner. And he did not want to
admit how scared he was.

Tsuzuki slid rabidly to the side of the rink, his skates spraying
snow-like ice crystals into the air.

"Show off," Chieri muttered, one hand rubbing her sore shoulder.

He spun gracefully on the practice rink in a nearby municipal
gym. "Look who's talking," he said, "I don't seen to remember who was
doing a few quadruples* just for the fun of it before."

The girl had the grace to blush, running a hand through her
sweaty blonde hair.

"Shut up," she managed, but he was already smiling at her,
holding out his hand.

"Ready to call it a night?"

Yuni stared out the window, snow falling gently. "I wonder why
Canty is so upset all of a sudden?"

Kouichi shrugged from his place on the sofa, a magazine in front
of him, "With Canty you never know."

She turned, "You sound like you don't care."

Deep green eyes turned to her abruptly, Kouichi looked up from
pages, his gaze intense.

"I care a lot," he said.

For a moment the room was so quiet even the silent falling snow
seemed noisy.

"She loved Tsuzuki very much," he said quietly, "I understand her
heartbreak at his loving Cherry."

"But Cherry is so right for him!" Yuni jumped to her friend's
defense immediately but Kouichi just held up his hand, a sad smile
across his handsome face.

"I know," he said softly, "but sometimes even the most perfect
love can hurt others."

Yuni paused, her toes cold in the slippers on her feet, her
fingers hot as she reached over to press the pads of her fingers gently
on the top of his hand.

Chieri yawned, struggled to keep her eyes open in the comfort of
the soft pillows she was propped up on. The television in Tsuzuki's
room blurred in her vision, the picture changed from them skating to a
meld of colors and memories.

"That was a good show," she murmured sleepily, curling more into
the warmth of his arms.

"Tired Cherry?" he whispered back, his lips grazing the top of
her head, her hair still damp from her shower.

"Hai. Aren't you?" she managed to say, and felt him kiss her
cheek, his breath brushing her neck, sending tingles down to the tips
of her fingers.

"No," he answered her, and she lifted her head to smile up at

"I should go," she said regretfully, acknowledging the lead
feeling in her arms and legs from hours of relentless practice.

Soft blue eyes gazed at her from beneath long lashes.

"Answer one question first," his voice was slurred, eyes half
closed. As tired as she was, more so even, no matter what he said.
She shook her head, "You're half dead-"

He pressed his lips to hers firmly, and the words died in
Chieri's throat. Her fingers linked around the collar of his sweater,
her knees buckling so she once again fell back into the pillows. He
followed half laying, half kneeling beside her, his lips half an inch
from hers.

His eyes were darker on the outside, dark cobalt fading to bright
aqua. Chieri shivered with the feeling of remember when she first
looked so closely into his eyes, with the knowledge that she was the
only one to know the color his eyes turned just before he kissed her.

"What was your question?" she breathed, and he shook his head
again, brushing his mouth against hers lightly, his too-warm hands on
her shoulders and back.

"How come," he kissed her ear, just missing the little golden
angel earrings he had presented her with just after practice, "your
name is Cherry," her hand moved to the back of his neck, "if you always
taste just like raspberries?"

She couldn't find breath to answer.

Kouichi turned to face Yuni, his mouth open, ready to spill his heart
and tell all. How Chieri had captivated him from the start, her spunk,
her charisma, her determination, naivete, skating talent and beauty.
How in the star-studded Tokyo night he had pulled her, startled and
fluttering like a bird, into his arms.

And how the snow had started to fall around wide, confused blue eyes,
and he realized those eyes would only see Tsuzuki. One of his best
friends, the man whose dream Kouichi and Hiroshi were chasing as if it
was their own.

But he found he couldn't speak. This girl with the kind brown eyes and
warm hands was looking at him so lovingly, and he realized it did not
matter that he once thought he loved her best friend. It only mattered
that the snow outside lent it's soft light into the room, and that
Yuni was slowly lowering her head so her forehead rested against his.

"Whatever it is, Kouichi," she murmured. His first name. No suffix.
When had she started calling him that? Did it matter?

"Whatever it is, I'm here." Her fingers, resting on his hand,
stretched out and pulled his cool fingers against her warm palm.

For a moment green eyes met brown for a long moment, before Kouichi let
his eyes fall shut and leaned his head against Yuni's shoulder.


The red nail polish shimmered as Canty let the brush run once
more over her thumbnail. The little bottle was balanced on her knee as
she sat on her bed, shades drawn against the new falling snow.

"Yo," a semi-familiar voice called from the doorway, and Canty
startled, letting a small, perfect drop of deep red fall onto her white

"Shimatta!" she cried, "You jerk!" Ice eyes glared at Hiroshi,
but the man just cracked a smile and held up his hands in surrender.

"Ah, gomen, gomen," he said in a friendly voice, making his
companion's glare deepen.

"What are you doing here?!" she said, wondering if it would be
okay to throw the little glass bottle at his head, if it would knock
off the stupid Santa hat the kid was wearing.

"I thought I'd see how my favorite ice princess was doing," he
said, leaning his head on his hand as he took a seat in her desk chair.

She whipped her head to the other direction, lifting her chin
haughtily. "It's none of your business."

"That bad, eh?"

"Listen yo-"

"No, you listen," he said, his voice suddenly stronger, as he
leaned forward in the chair eyes intent on the girl before him, "it's
Christmas Eve. One of your closest friends is going to be skating out
there in Amerika tonight and it'd be wonderful if you could tell him
you watched."

She frowned.

"I'm not here to give you deep advice on your problems, although
you have a lot of them," she raised the nail polish bottle
threateningly, and he put his hands up again. "I just wanted you to
know your brother and Yuni would like you there, and I'm sure Cherry
and Tsuzuki would too."

She didn't answer and Hiroshi sighed, fingering the fake fur
around the base of his hat. "You know what your problem is, Canty-

He turned to go, stood in her doorway and watched her watch her
nails dry, "You think the world owes you something, when I think you,
everyone, just owes the world. Smile more. It's the one thing Chieri
can do 100% better than you."

The bottle hit the door as it closed behind him.

In a huge building in corporate Tokyo area, a man sat in a large room,
at a great desk a television buzzing before him.

"This year's world championship is broadcast from here in New
York..." The man smiled, listening to every word.

"Mr. President, all the members have gathered. The conference-"
the man's voice was drowned out by the commanding baritone as the
president answered.

"Excuse me, but I'll be a little longer."

Blinking, the messenger watched as his CEO turned back to the

"But, sir, with all due re-" the words died in his throat as for
the first time in his fifteen years with the company, he saw his boss

On the television, a young man stepped out onto the ice pulling a
beautiful girl with him into the spotlight.

"That's my son," Tsuzuki-san said.
Amidst the smell of popcorn, three teens sat before a large
television screen, the VCR whirring, the morning sun rising. As they
watched the camera pan to a sparkling nighttime city halfway across the
world, the sound of stocking feet on carpet was barely drowned out by
the announcer's voice.

Quietly, not meeting anyone's eyes, Canty padded across the
living room and sat next to her brother. He smiled at her, and while
she couldn't see, she smiled back, her eyes not leaving screen before
her, focusing the two very important people about to live out their

The city whipped around Asaka-san's face, as he watched his
daughter, his life, spin the arms of the man she loved. Time was so
precious. His young, beautiful wife was torn from his arms in a fiery
fall from heaven, he would make sure his angel would never fall.

And if he wasn't there to catch her, Asaka realized suddenly,
Tsuzuki would. His eyes not leaving his daughter's beautiful face,
Asaka-san smiled. He loved Chieri with all his soul, and that
knowledge made it less hard to realize he would never really have to
let her go. The pain his chest did not go away, but as Chieri's smile
lit up her entire face, it lessened.

"Representing Japan last year in the world championship was this
pair, Tsuzuki and Asuka," the announcer's voice boomed through the
area, "We look forward to their first exhibition at Rockefeller

Before the glittering angels of fifth avenue, Tsuzuki reached for
his true love's hand. She smiled.

'We must be drawing up angels to the rink,' Chieri thought as she
let the image of Tsuzuki among angels dance in her eyes, 'we have

"My heart is pounding so hard..."

"Cherry," Tsuzuki said, taking her hands, "My only one angel."

Blue gazed into blue and slowly warm lips brushed against hers.

For good luck.


And someday, Kouichi and Yuni will fall, laughing, into other
arms after a haphazard skating lesson after hours in the rink. And
someday, Canty will smile hesitantly at some other teenage girls in a
nearby shopping mall, and they will smile back. And someday, Asaka-san
will look at some old photos of his wife and baby, and smile without a
trace of hurt. And someday, Chieri will wake up, to sunlight streaming
her eyes, and kiss her new husband awake, so they can skate together in
the Olympics.

But at that moment, in each other's arms, Christmastime air
caressing their faces, the cheers of the crowd warm in their hearts,
hands intertwined, all that mattered to Chieri and Tsuzuki were each
other. And the lighted angels seemed to dance.

[dialoge taken from Glover's translations of The Cherry Project

*about the guads... no woman has ever done a quadruple jump yet... ^^; Just making the sure the world knows the facts. Of course, Takeuchi-sensei has poetic license to change that in her manga, and I'm glad she did.

Okay! Please review! Please!! ^^ The Cherry Project is such a
great anime/manga, and needs more fics. So if you feel you can do
better than this, then by ALL means, PLEASE do so! I'm sure you can,
this isn't that good, I wrote it Christmas Eve in two hours. Hee hee
hee. Gotta do something while you wait for Santa.