Disclaimer: I have none of the rights to Tokyo Mew Mew. If I did, Masaya would not exist.
Note: Umm… it can't really go by the manga, but it seems that, in the manga, they keep their Mew powers, so that's really the only change. Oh, yeah, and in the manga, Ichigo only transforms into full-cat form when she gets really excited, not just when she kisses someone, so that's in there, too. Masaya haters, this is for you! (sweatdrops)
Likely as not, neither would admit it.
Their lives were a complete parody.
Ichigo's your average girl, pretty without being beautiful, and a hard worker. Ryou's the super hot high-schooler with money and an attitude. And he fell for her. Hard.
Ichigo, at the moment, was scrubbing a new stain on the café's floor, attempting to get rid of it, since she couldn't go home at the moment anyway due to a sudden thunderstorm. She was quite oblivious to the blonde teen watching her, and was also unawares that, in a sudden fit of frustration, her ears and tail had popped out, causing him to choke back a laugh from her sensitive hearing. She really was a Cinderella, he'd found himself thinking more than once. He knew that she was the one who did most of the best work at the café, she was very kind when caught in a good mood, and that night of the ball he'd been hard pressed not to confess just how much he thought of her. It'd been bliss, those minutes he'd been able to hold her so close, and a sweet memory when he was able to play with her hair for that few seconds it took to re-arrange her bangs properly. He'd never confess that the kiss in the control room wasn't just to tick her off so she wouldn't feel sorry for him anymore; he really had loved that fleeting moment in time when his lips caressed hers so softly.
"As for the weather, ladies and gentlemen, please do not leave your homes, etc. It appears that hail and possible sleet will soon be falling on the area. Again, please refrain from going outside."
Ryou, shocked, looked over at the small table radio nearby. Ichigo, ticked, let out a scream of frustration, following it soon by spinning around and pitching the dishcloth she'd been using across the room. And right into her employer's face. She stood stock-still for a moment, shocked by the blonde's presence as he calmly removed the rag from his face and tossed it onto a nearby table. The red-head was nearly mortified. But slowly, there were subtle changes in his body, and before she could even register what the heck had happened, Ryou was laughing his fool head off, one hand gripping his aching side, the other holding onto the doorframe for support. The nekojin stared at him blankly, and after a minute he managed to look up into her chocolate-colored eyes.
"Am I… that… bad?" he asked between gasps for air. She continued to stare at him without response. He pulled out a chair and sat down, trying, still-unsuccessfully, to calm his laugher, and she continued to wait for him to recover. It took all of two seconds for him to completely collapse, his breathing finally giving way into a semblance of normalcy, his body sprawled across the seat. His head hung backwards.
To the cat side of Ichigo's persona, this meant he trusted her very much. He was completely exposing all his vulnerable areas to her, and lacking in any form of defense. It was strange to the nekojin how it seemed she was the only one, out of all the Mews, that had troubles with instincts (though she'd never believe it if she were able to see what went on in Zakuro's head when alone with Keiichiro…). It was a serious problem when she was dancing with Ryou that one time: not only did she have the time of her life trying to suppress her ears and tail, but it was a real issue when she felt the incredible urge to actually purr the tighter he held her.
"Ichigo… you didn't answer me…"
She snapped out of her reverie at her name, and she could easily imagine her tail perking at his call, as well. But even at his inquiry, his head did not lift from that vulnerable position. An attempt to speak was silenced by her insecurities, but she knew he would wait until she answered.
"Sometimes. Not always. I just had my afternoon… planned… today…" she murmured. All the other Mews, including Keiichiro, had known that her plan for the day was to go home, dig out a bag of chocolate and sour-apple candies, pop in a chick flick and drown in self-pity. Her first letter from Aoyama since leaving for the US six months before was to tell her that he was engaged. It wasn't a happy day. Ryou looked up to find Ichigo, complete with tail and ears, with a depressed look on all her features. Quietly, he stood, and made his way over to her. It was a simple thing he did: using the tip of his little finger, the blonde caressed the edge of on of those elegant black appendages. Her head shot up, and she was graced again with his smile. "Shirogane-san…?"
"Gomen ne. I couldn't resist," he muttered, smirking at her a bit. "You really are a Cinderella, aren't you?"
He chuckled softly, and she couldn't help but realize her chin was propped ever-so-lovingly on his forefinger. Knowing azure orbs that saw through to her very core were laughing before her, dancing a bit with lights that seemed to radiate from their own source. He was… so close to her… it was faint, but she knew she was blushing. It was like… that first time they met, she was sure… his hand gentle on her face, a thumb caressing her lips softly but firmly, his eyes looking into hers, so full of that strange, understanding light. "Ichigo…"
It shocked them both, but the red-head couldn't take it anymore. The cat side of her was perfectly calm about it. She kissed him.
For breathless moments seeming unending, her lips pressed to his. Her fingertips found their ways to his jaw, and ran up towards his hair softly, enticing. But before he could even register what she'd just done, she had pulled away and disappeared beyond the café's doors.
A week passed. Then two. On the third weekend that Ichigo did not appear for work, all the Café Mew Mew staff had become worried. She never answered her phone anymore. She avoided all of them. All attempts to talk to her or see her were blocked. Even Kisshu had appeared on the café's doorstep that morning, inquiring why Ichigo was so withdrawn. He had, once, entered her room without permission by teleportation, but had been met by a dark hole, the only thing to be seen being the petite red-head, buried under a pile of over-sized blankets, watching chick-flicks. He'd attempted to talk to her, but nearly got himself killed when he tapped her on the shoulder.
The Mews were scared to death. None dared bother her in this state. None knew what was wrong- had even the slightest clue.
The one and only exception being Shirogane Ryou.
Every time one of the Mews mentioned her name, he would barely hide a blush, and if it left the mouths of either Keiichiro or Kisshu he seethed with silent anger. Around corners and in the privacy of his room, his fingers would trace his lips again, remembering the feeling she'd given him, and when outside in the cold December breeze he could almost feel her fingers trace the paths across his jaws again. A precious memory… and he was sure this was why she was drawn in unto her self now. Had she regretted her action? Had it not truly been her heart, but instincts that ruled the moment? Was she ashamed? Afraid? Again, his thumb traced where her lips had been as he looked upon his most precious possession: a small picture of the red-head that he had combined with pictures of her in her Mew form and neko form. It was strange, like a mini poster that he'd made just for himself. Another of his peculiarities. With a heavy sigh, the blonde decided that he had no other choice: it was time to put an end to this separation.
"Ara? You're here to see Ichigo?"
Ryou nodded to the mother's inquiry. For a moment, a concerned looked floated across her features, but she allowed him in and showed him to the strawberry girl's room, leaving him at the door. It was a surprise, but he found himself timid to knock; Ichigo had barged into his room unannounced and caught him in who-knows-how-many embarrassing situations, but he, Shirogane Ryou, was afraid to knock at his runaway Cinderella's door. It was too soft. He could hear some romance scene from a cheesy chick-flick all the way out in the hallway, and knew that there was no way she could've heard it over the racket. So, with a deep breath, he let himself in.
The room was nearly pitch-black; the light from the TV in the corner casting a surreal glow as a sappy sunset scene played for the viewing pleasure of the one who watched. The one currently buried under the blankets at the foot of the bed, her front half huddled into an over-sized beanbag chair. He couldn't see any of her, but he knew that, if things were to turn out alright, he would have to act as nonchalant as possible. Carelessly, though he was quaking a bit inside, he flipped the switch to turn the lights on. A resonating growl was heard from the nekojin as she buried further beneath the woolen blankets.
Her restless movements were stilled the moment she heard his voice, her body stiffening into an uneasy posture. He took a couple of steps forward and knelt next to her, switching off the TV before speaking again.
"Ichigo, look at me."
"Iiye. Dame yo, Shirogane…" she murmured, her voice coarse and awkward from lack of use. He tugged at the covers lightly, but she held them tighter about her figure, hiding herself from him. He pulled again, harder, but she held them closer yet again. At last, he was out of what little patience he'd had, and yanked the blankets off her form, throwing them violently over the television set. Shock was all that he could feel in that one, fateful instant.
There were no fiery ruby locks to meet his eyes, nor rich chocolate orbs to return his gaze. There, atop her head, were two fine black kitten ears, surrounded by a mane of onyx hair, eyes the same color with an aura of violet giving him a feral stare. What had happened, he had no idea. It was… frightening. She growled menacingly.
"What?! Why couldn't you just leave me be, Shirogane?!" she asked him, her voice no more than a deep-throated snarl. He stared at her with an indefinable emotion, his eyes fogged and dazed.
"What… happened…?" His hands trailed up behind her head, and drew her down next to him, and suddenly, she could see fear. He was afraid.
Ryou embraced her tightly, one hand gripping her shoulder, the other, her waist, and her head was tucked protectively in neck. The hold he had on her was tight- made so with fear and pain. And beneath her fingertips, pressed against his chest firmly, she could feel him trembling. Deeply shaken… this quavering that rocked his body showed how deeply shaken he truly was. It was painful; tremulous fingers curled into his shirt lightly, and she wondered what to do. And then a new sensation met her: a light kiss pressed to her left temple. Her eyes widened in surprise.
"When… when did this… happen, Ichigo…?" he queried softly in her flattened ears. Her heart heaved in her chest, the hurt in his tone seeming to wound her, as well. She could not answer him. It would have been wrong to answer him; he shouldn't even have seen this twisted version of the beautiful Mew he'd created, this dark version… this destructive version. At last, she could do what she'd wanted to do for a very long time. She cried.
Ryou felt helpless once again as he watched the darkling nekojin dampen his shirt with tears, for this time, he didn't even know the source. So he simply continued to hold her, the hand on her waist moving to rub comforting circles on her back, his cheek pillowed lightly by her onyx hair, though before he knew it, he'd fallen asleep, his Cinderella tucked safely in his embrace.
Later that night, Keiichiro came to the Momomiya residence, looking for Ryou. Ichigo's father and mother had become so accustomed to never seeing or hearing from their daughter, that they'd forgotten about their visitor, as well. The young man was led upstairs to her room, and her mother knocked lightly on the door, surprised to hear no sounds coming from within. Cautiously, she opened the access, peeking in, before stepping aside while stifling a giggle, allowing the two men to see.
Inside, Ryou was tucked securely into the bean-bag chair, sleeping soundly with an exhausted Ichigo flush up against him, held tightly against his body, and covered by the mound of blankets that had hidden her for the past three weeks.
While Ichigo's mother calmed down her father, Keiichiro stepped into the room and adjusted the blankets over them somewhat, moving some of the bangs out of Ryou's eyes, and tucking a strand of pink hair behind the ichigo-neko's ear. He didn't know what had happen to cause this, but he accepted, and was none too surprised about it. He knew Ryou inside out, and this was something he knew to watch for from the moment the two had met.
With that, he made his exit, allowing the two to sleep peacefully.
For the past two years, Shirogane Ryou and Momomiya Ichigo were quiet around each other, though it seemed that the girl didn't end up turning into a cat near as often, and more often then that, when she did, it seemed that Ryou was the one to turn her back. During missions, the two worked together even closer than they had before. They even gave small gifts to each other at birthdays and Christmas. The Mews, minus Keiichiro, were a little surprised, and yet wondered why their blonde boss hadn't asked her out yet.
Oblivious to the fact that she'd become more discreet, Ichigo would find herself drawn into the control room at odd times of the day and evening, and there, she would spend time with her secret lover. They hadn't really gone on any dates, per se, but they spent time together in that place as they could, and Keiichiro entered their sanctuary less and less as time passed.
Today was the second year, to the day, that Dark Ichigo was suppressed back into the tiny corner of the heart in which it resided, and Ryou planned to make the occasion even more memorable.
"Will you marry me?"
And in the end, as with the old fairy-story, the Prince got his Cinderella.
AN: Tada! This is probably my favorite of my TMM works, of which there aren't that many. Enjoy, and REVIEW, KUDASAI!