Well, damn, it's been a while, eh? Sorry about that...yeah. I suck, I know. But I've got the whole summer to hopefully finish this story, hopefully, if my laziness doesn't take over. So, thank you to all that were so kind to review in my months of slumber. I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH! The reviews made me really happy and, well, guilty too for not updating, but really, really happy. So, here it is. The chapter that I should have written months ago..........
.:Falling In Love In a Pastry Shop:.
"I think that possibly, maybe I'm falling for you."
Ichigo Momomiya had never been a girl with much patience for anything, and that might have been the explanation of all her previous failures. She was impulsive, and liked too much to dive into things quickly, never quite giving a second thought of consequences. So it took all of Ichigo's short wired temper and endurance for waiting for Ryou's answer to her plea. But she did not rest in peace, not at all. The carefully placed ads for airlines, the cheap sale of tickets, the pictures of a heavily symbolized America (with eagles, stars, stripes, and whatnot that represents the US)- those were all strategically placed by her to Ryou's view. She stuffed them in his usual sitting area, the walls going up to his room, his door, in his blankets and pillows, in the bathroom, and dare she admit it, in all of his underwear in his private drawers. It was here Ryou decided to draw the line.
Ichigo could guess as to why the blonde was approaching her with a twitching eye and steam blowing out of his ears, but seeing as she left no evidence of the papers being her act of, err, crime, she very wisely chose to act dumb. "Momomiya," Ryou's angry voice cut into the peaceful afternoon in the café, "What the hell is all of this paper? It's in my room, on my door-" Ichigo looked at him with large, doe-like eyes, her head tilted to the side as if it expressed her complete, utter confusion, "-don't give me those eyes, I know it was you. Who else would have put it in my underwear?" he hissed, shaking the pages of colorful ads in her face. "In every, single, damn one-" Mint interrupted his rant to burst out laughing. "And you call me the pervert? I bet you enjoyed going through my room and touching my things, right?" He ended with a hard flick on her nose, sticking his tongue out at Ichigo's disgruntled face as he went up back to his room.
"Well, he sure got you," Zakuro commented, a corner of her mouth turned upwards in amusement. "No insulting comments or snide remarks...could it be that you've fallen for him?" Ichigo gaped, spluttering fragments of words from her speechless mouth. She could feel the blush as it rose all the way up her cheeks, burning her ears.
"Just so you know," the red-head snapped, stomping her broom against the floor, causing dust to spread all over the air, "I- ACHOO!" "Bless you." "Thank you, Lettuce," she sniffed, shaking the dust off her clothes, "Like I was saying, this is all part of an ingenious plan to get me a raise." Pudding laughed, knowing it would fail, and out loud shouted so in amusement, making sure Ryou would hear upstairs. The rest of the girls smiled, shaking their heads in exasperation at another pathetic attempt of Ichigo's. In truth, it was a way for Ryou to be reminded of the proposal Ichigo made to him, and she would make sure he would not forget. But even more important than that, she thought, biting her lip, How am I going to get Ryou to say yes?
School had ended a few days ago, and only a few days before that, Ichigo had pleaded with her boss to help her get to America to see Masaya, the boy who still loved her despite what he said before he left. Despite the lazy summer days that lolled around in endless blue skies, time to Ichigo seemed too short and quick. She did not reply to either letters, planning her journey across the sea in secret, with only Ryou as her confidante. The plan was still not quite so clear to Ichigo, but she had thought it out several times, going over it with meticulous care and trying to memorize it. The money in her plastic piggybank was enough for a ride to the States and back to Japan, with some leftover for the possible expenses oversea. It was not illegal to travel on an airplane alone at her age, so taking Ryou with her would not be considered kidnapping- on his part, anyway. On hers, Ichigo wasn't so sure.
Or, just to make everything so much more simpler, couldn't Ryou just take her, no questions asked? She groaned, pulling at her hair with her hands in frustration. She was just in high school- why did she have to think so hard about running away to see her boyfriend. Why couldn't everything just be so easy? Sighing, she finished sweeping the floor, and threw out the trash in the dust bin. Placing the broom in the closet, she went into the kitchen to grab a rag to wipe the dirty tables with.
"Why the long face?" Mint asked as Ichigo passed by her. The indigo-haired girl sipped at the lightly fragranced tea from the china cup, her eyes darting to Ichigo. "No raise?"
"Hmm, what? Oh, nope," She threw the rag down on the table, wiping furiously, "Not this time. Again."
"Then why don't you just give up?" Mint placed the cup down, and went on, coolly, "It's not like it worked before."
"Why should I? Because some problems came in the way? Then what would happen to anyone who's been beaten down to reach what they want?"
"And what makes you think it will work, Ichigo, hmm? It seems hopeless to me. And besides, it's not a big deal, really."
"Not a big deal?" The table groaned under the pressure of the rag being pressed into the glass, "How do you know if it's a big deal or not? I might lose something important by not taking action! And who cares if you fail in the process?" Her arm ached, but the pain was dull to her, throbbing, alive, but it couldn't be in a while (like someone else, she thought), "Isn't that better than losing something you love?!"
"We're not talking about the raise anymore, are we?" Mint asked quietly. Ichigo shuddered, her body hovered over the table, shoulders shaking. Her arm felt limp, but her hands clutched the rag, knuckles white at the intensity.
"No," she felt something warm roll down her cheek, obscuring her vision, "I guess not." Ichigo let out a small laugh, and raised her other arm to wipe at the wetness on her face. "Sorry about that. Gee, I hope I didn't break the table," she joked, smiling a 100-watt smile that seemed a bit forced, yet still a smile. She turned to go back to the kitchen to throw the rag out, blinking rapidly, her shoes moving quicker than they usually did.
"Ichigo-" It was Mint. She looked still the same, the teacup in her hands, but she was looking down into it, as if the colored water could tell her something. "Anytime, you know, you can talk to me. Or call. You have my number." She looked up, her eyes were still blue and filled with her self-assured arrogance, but they went deeper this time, like the tea. Something was in them, and when their eyes met, Ichigo could see it. "That is, if I'm not too busy," Mint added with a smirk.
Her voice caught at her throat, and she couldn't really see quite that well again. "Thank you."
Ichigo did not leave when the others left, saying goodbye to Ryou and Keiichiro, the bell ringing sweetly to signal their exit. Zakuro, in her rare subtle jokes, told Ichigo to not spend the entire night at the café, lest she end up with something extra a few months later. Rolling her eyes, the strawberry was very tempted to throw something at the model, but merely stuck her tongue out. She was waiting for Ryou.
On the envelope of the more fervent letter of the two Masaya had sent was the address of the hospital. It was located in New York, called the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She was planning to tell Ryou one simple thing: come with me. If not, I'll leave alone. It was a risky, telling him so bluntly, but if he refused to go, Ichigo planned on going on her own. She refused to betray Masaya- the love of her life since she was thirteen, her boyfriend since they entered high school- just because Ryou wouldn't go with her. When the blonde made his way down the stairs, he was shocked to find Ichigo waiting for him, an unusually solemn expression on her effervescent face.
"Ichigo? What are you doing here?" he asked, pulling up a chair across from her place at the table. Although she tried not to show it, Ichigo was nervous. She felt her palms begin to sweat, and she wiped them against her jeans. "What do you need to tell me Ichigo, hmm?" Ryou asked, raising a brow, "Just spit it out."
She looked up at him with a disturbed look on her face. "How- how did you know?"
Ryou laughed, "Ichigo, I've known you for, what- four years? Nothing gets past me. And besides, your face is an open book. Has anyone ever told yo that?"
She had a scowl on his face, but he knew her long enough to know it was playful. "Only you."
"Only me?" He was smiling.
"Okay, okay, stop distracting me." Ichigo looked down, biting down on her lip. "Look, I've told you about my plan-"
"Which is very impulsive and dangerous."
She ignored him. "And I told you to consider it. I'm here now to tell you that I want you to accompany me to New York to see Masaya."
"And if I say no?" Ryou asked. He felt a small surge of annoyance come on him, though he was not quite sure why.
"I'm going to go alone. There's no law not permitting me to."
He swatted at the fly that circled his head. Ah, he thought, that's the reason why. It flew away to a corner, hobbling from the impact of Ryou's flying hand. "Are you stupid? Ichigo, knowing you, you'll probably get kidnapped."
A glare spread across her face. "And what do you suppose I do? I'm adamant in my decision, Ryou. I'm going to New York for Masaya."
"And your parents? Don't you think they'll be worried sick about you? Are you that selfish? Why don't you ask them to come?"
"They're short in money because of some debt they just paid. I'm using my money to spend on the ticket and expenses," she said. Watching him open his mouth, Ichigo quickly cut in, "And just so you know, I got a scholarship to a college so I don't have to trouble my parents with paying for my tuition."
"What college?" he asked. She blushed, kicking at the ground awkwardly.
"Actually, it's a culinary school," Ichigo admitted shyly, "I'm going to become a chef. I think it's the café- it really captured my attention."
Ryou looked at her with a slightly increased amount of respect. "I see," he said slowly, leaning back into his chair. "And why do you want me to come with you to America?"
"Because I trust you," she said simply. Then, with a thoughtful look, added, "And you're rich."
He let out a laugh. "Of course- always think of the money." Seeing her angered look, he chuckled. "Well, all right. I'll do it."
In the blink of his eye, Ichigo was out of her chair, which clattered to the ground, and standing by his side. Her gaze was intense. "Do you mean it? You'll take me to America?"
"Yes, yes." Ryou waved his hand off. "I think you've convinced me."
"Why?" she asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
"Don't look at me like that," he said, peeved. "I'm taking you because you do have a point. I am rich, so I can afford to take myself there. I'm the only one who knows about this predicament of yours. And besides, if I don't go with you, someone is bound to kick my ass for not looking over you." He paused, lifting a hand to his chin. "I haven't been to America in a while, either. It'll be nice to see it again." It took a moment for the words to sink in.
"Oh! Ryou! Thank you so much!" Ichigo cried, feeling tears trickle down from her eyes. She let out a sob, before quickly covering her mouth with her hands, trying to muffle the noise. "Thank you, thank you. You don't know what this means to me." She bowed, bending her spine to nearly a ninety degree angle to show her gratitude. "Thank you, thank you. Thank you so much."
The blonde looked uncomfortable, shifting in his seat. "Hey, Ichigo, it's- you don't have to cry. It's okay, I'm taking you. Don't cry." Awkwardly, he patted her back. She leaned her head on his shoulder, burying her face in her hands as she wept out the weeks of suffering, of pain for her love, of her hate at his possible death. "Shhhh, it's ok," he said quietly, placing an arm around her.
"S-sorry. I'm such a wreck." Ichigo's voice was muffled by her hands. She wiped away at her tears, taking in a deep breath. "Thank you," she said, looking at him in the eye. Her face was red and puffy, her eyes shrunken in from all the crying.
"Hey, Ichigo, you look like yourself," he joked, ruffling her red hair. The strawberry, who, in her current state, looked just like her name, laughed gently. Somehow, Ichigo managed to be so bubbly and adorable, even in tears. Affectionately, he tweaked her nose, laughing at her surprised cry.
"Thanks you," she said again, blushing, "For cheering me up."
Ryou rubbed the back of his neck, smirking. "Gee, the one time I get to hear thank you come from your mouth, I get tired of hearing it." She pouted at him, crossing her arms.
"Fine, I'll be rude and cranky then, happy?" Ichigo declared impishly, and stuck her tongue out at him.
"I think I like you better that way," he replied, grinning cheekily, "It's fun messing with you." And as if to prove it, he pinched her cheek, causing her to growl and slap his hand away.
She laughed. "Stop that!" she cried, swatting a hand at him. The clock near them struck five-thirty. An hour and half had passed since closing time. Ichigo wondered to herself, did time really fly that fast with Ryou? "It's getting late. I guess I should go, before my parents have a fit."
"They'll be having a bigger fit later," he remarked dryly. Rolling her eyes, Ichigo bounced over to the café exit, with Ryou following, key in hand. "I'll see you tomorrow at work, then." He pointed the key at her face. "Eight o' clock sharp."
"Yeah, yeah," Ichigo muttered. "I come on time now, geez. You should be grateful." Smiling brightly at him, she waved her fingers before exiting. "Bye Ryou!" Ryou leaned against the door, watching her leave. Suddenly, she stopped, and she ran to him, engulfing him in a big hug. "Thank you so much again." Ichigo was blushing when she ran away from him. He wasn't quite sure, but he saw a large smile as she blurred past the café.
Ryou felt the warmth from her hug blow away with the wind as he closed the café door when Ichigo ran out of sight. His mouth hummed a tune as he locked up the café door, turning the lights off. Swinging the key ring in his index finger, he made his way upstairs, a small smile on his face.
The chapter title, by the way, is a spin off of Landon Pigg's song "Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop." I love it sooo much. It's so sweet. The quotations in the chapter title are part of the lyrics.
Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop & lyrics Copyright Landon Pigg.
Review, onegaishimasu! Arigatou.