Okay, I know that I promised to have this chapter up before Christmas, but wouldn't you know it, I didn't. Although this time, I feel as though I have some kind of an…excusable reason for it. Don't you hate it when you come down with some viral flu or the other…and manage to get better, only to come down with something else a couple of days later? Yeah, that's what happened to me. Grr.

Anyways, to make up for the delay, I've made this chapter extra long –and I mean extra long. Hope you enjoy it! I apologize for not replying to the reviews that I received for chapter eleven; I was just in bed most of the time, so…yeah. But I will be replying to them soon!

On to the chapter!

Chapter Twelve: Cake shops, Ankles and Awkward Moments

She chewed the inside of her lower lip once again, and fought back a wince as her teeth came into contact with the already sore skin there. It seemed that she had been chewing on that same spot one time too many throughout this seemingly never-ending car ride from hell.

No, she was not exaggerating, thank you very much; it very much was a car ride from hell, and an awkward one at that.

It wasn't just because she wasn't used to travelling with so many people, because she was; it was just that she wasn't used to travelling with so many people she knew so little of. (Or that she wasn't too fond of at the moment, but that was a different story entirely…)

"Sorry about the lack of space here, everyone," apologized the twin she recognized as Kaoru (simply because she knew that Hikaru had been the one dressed in the lighter pair of three-quarters). "Mummy dearest needed the main vehicle today, and Daddy-dear took the other one to work…"

Misao was positive that she stared at him for a moment –or two, or four- too long, but she really couldn't help it. Lack of space? She was pretty sure that four more people could fit in the back with them, so what on earth was he talking about?

Hikaru, it seemed, had unfortunately noticed the incredulous expression that flashed across her face.

"It's okay, Miso, we understand your amazement. Dealing with Haruhi has helped us learn the meagre, much less extravagant lives you commoners lead," he commented lazily, as he leaned back into the plush seat.

She sent him a look at the comment, which he promptly ignored. "In any case, we should be there soon…"

Thank god, she thought, sending a glance heavenward. "That's quite rude, Miso. Do you not enjoy our company?" questioned Hikaru.

"Enjoy your company?" she managed, only just keeping her voice at a level tone. "Enjoy your company?! Don't even start on-"

"-Maa, you really need to get that temper of yours checked out you know…" cut in Hikaru, shaking his head as he adjusted his position on the seat once more.

"-Excuse me, but I-" She stopped when she saw the look he was giving her. Or rather, the look he was giving her… "Why the hell are you staring at my legs?"

Both Honey and Kaoru turned to Hikaru, who didn't look the slightest bit abashed.

"I was trying to judge if they'd make a comfortable footrest," he said, distantly. "But I suppose the only way to find out will be to test it, hmm?"

And the next thing Misao knew, he lowered himself on his seat and stretched his legs out in the space in between the two seats. Her green eyes widened.

"Don't even think about-"

"-Too late, Miso dear, I-"

Hikaru stopped abruptly, the annoying smile (the one he made sure to put on whenever he was dealing with her, just so he could rile her up even more) on his lips faltering as he felt the firm grip on his legs, just above his ankles.

Following the hand to its owner, he stared at the dark haired senior for a moment, meeting his impassive grey eyes, before sighing. "Hai, hai," he muttered, as he lowered his feet and straightened up in his seat.

Misao shot him another glare before she turned her head slightly, just so she could see the dark haired senior out of the corner of her eye. She was somewhat put out when she saw that he had turned his attention back to the window he had been staring out of. It was as though nothing had happened. At all.

Duh, she thought to herself, crossly, that's because nothing did happen. And that was true; nothing had happened. Not yet, at least, she thought darkly, as she sent the annoying twin an equally dark look.

"Ne, ne, Itachi-chan!" She turned her green eyes onto the (eerily) excited senior seated before her. "What do you think you'll be buying from the mall?"

She blinked once, before remembering that that was what they were apparently setting out to do –go on a shopping spree. Because they were just so…so…well, she didn't quite know what they were, actually; they being the members of the Host club, except, perhaps, Haruhi.

Realizing that Honey was expectantly watching her for a reply, she shrugged.

"I have no idea," she said, without elaborating further. How was she supposed to tell him that she didn't do shopping? Not unless she was threatened with…well, with…her equivalent to a living hell (which included kimonos, heavy make up and looking like the pretty porcelain doll she was decidedly not. Although dealing with the Host club and their…passionate fans was a close second).

"But you must have some idea," protested Honey, shaking his head adamantly.

"No, I don't, actually," commented Misao, firmly, quirking a brow when she saw the expression on her senior's face. "Do you have any idea what you'll be buying?" she challenged.

Honey nodded eagerly.

"I already asked Tama-chan to see if there are any cake shops there!" exclaimed, looking excited at the mere thought of such a place. "Ne, Takashi? Ne? Ne?"

Glancing at the silent, dark haired male out of the corner of her eye once more, Misao only just managed to catch his nod, before he resumed his watching of the passing scenery.

Well gee, what was up with him? It wasn't as though he was woken up rudely this morning.

He'd been acting weird anyway, even in the morning.

And WHY, asked a very troubled voice in her head, are you even thinking about this? That was a good question, Misao decided (if it was possible to make such decisions when the voices in her head were concerned –heck, she hoped the transfer to Ouran wasn't driving her mad or anything like that) that it would be best if she were to abandon that train of thought. Immediately.

Because it's just weird, she thought, satisfied that that was going to be the end of it.

And he's a pervert, she thought again, locking her fingers together on her lap.

And let's not forget the fact that ---argh! No, I am not having this discussion with…myself!

Boy, did she need help.

"-chi-chan? Itachi-chan?"


Honey drew back to his seat, his large brown eyes wide and the expression on his face looking very much like one that would be seen on a kicked puppy.

"Nothing…I was just…worried…" he mumbled, as he slouched in his seat.

Hikaru snorted.

"Way to go, Miso, you've just upset Honey-sempai," he commented, as he stretched his arms out before him. "Could you be any more callous?"

"Could you be any more annoying?" shot back Misao.

Hikaru grinned.

"Believe me," he said, "you don't want to know."

The sad thing about that was that Misao knew he was right; she didn't want to know. Not now, and not ever.

"Well, anyway, I'm sure that you'll find something that you like," commented Kaoru, lightly. "It is, after all, a shopping spree –of sorts, and something you girls love…"

Misao bit down on her tongue, stopping the retort that had wanted to be uttered. There was no point, really, in her wasting her energy. Instead, she just shrugged and slunk back further into her seat, wincing slightly as she adjusted her feet into a more comfortable position.

She wouldn't even be in this car if it hadn't been for her grandfather, she thought with a scowl. That old man was entirely too devious for his own good –and for her own good, as it turned out. Who on earth threatened people with etiquette classes, of all things?! She was from a line of martial artists, for crying out loud! What need did she have for etiquette classes?!

"Tama-chan, Haru-chan and Kyo-chan are probably waiting for us…" commented Honey, drawing her attention.

Hikaru snorted.

"And knowing Kyoya-sempai, he's not going to be too happy with us."

Honey nodded sagely.

"But Tama-chan will be so happy to see Itachi-chan," he said, as he sent the younger girl a bright smile. "You are Tama-chan's niece after all!"

Misao narrowed her green eyes at her senior, but once again, refrained from saying what was on her mind. Niece? Niece? Since when did she become a 17 year old's niece?

Heck, she wouldn't even want to be related to said seventeen year old.

Even though it was…nice of him to want me to be there with them…she thought, rather unwillingly, as she recalled what she had been told earlier in the morning. She was pretty sure she hadn't done anything to make the golden haired senior like her…but…well, he apparently did like her.

Which was more than she could say for the rest of his Host club.

A sudden jerk snapped her out of her thoughts once again, although it didn't take her long to figure out that the car had come to a sudden halt and that it wasn't because that reprehensible person had done something funny. Glancing at the window the dark haired senior had been staring out of, she noticed that they had finally, finally pulled up in front of the mall.

Before the driver could even get out of the car and make his way towards her side to open the door for the spoiled rich kids, she was up and moving, mentally apologizing as she stepped on feet and elbowed unsuspecting stomachs and sides.

Sorry guys, but I need to get out of here.

"Oy, I don't appreciate being stepped on, you big oaf," muttered Hikaru, scowling.

"You shouldn't have such big feet then, big foot," bit out Misao, as she fumbled for the door handle. Dammit, why did such big cars have to be so…complicated?

"Miso, calm down," said Kaoru, as he recognized her desperation to get out of the car. "If you're looking for the handle, it's next to where Hi-"

"-Here, allow me," said Hikaru, deviously, as he easily threaded his fingers around the handle and pushed it open. Misao, who had been leaning against the door in her attempt at locating the handle, was caught unaware as the door swung outward.

"Argh –"

A firm arm wrapped around her middle, saving her from the rather embarrassing situation of landing on the pavement on her face.

Her face turning the familiar hue of red it did whenever those dratted twins were concerned, she whirled around to glare at the smirking twin she now knew was Hikaru. "You little devil! I could have fallen and hurt myself!"

"And wouldn't that have been a disaster…" muttered Hikaru, dryly, looking about as concerned as he would look if he were to be told that she had a dog that had died three years ago.

Er, right, Misao…that analogy made sense.

If the arm hadn't tightened around her middle, for the briefest of moments, she would have flung herself at the orange haired male, and beaten him to a pulp with her fists –and she really would have done that, without the least bit of remorse.

As it was, she couldn't struggle against the arm, so she turned instead to face its owner, and found herself sending the dark haired senior a strong glare.

"Let me go," she snapped, clenching her hands into fists.

Mori stared at her for a moment, before shrugging and removing his arm from around her. Staggering slightly from her position half on the long seat and half off of it, Misao waited only until she had regained a semblance of her balance before she all but jumped out of the car, making sure to elbow Hikaru's smirking face.

As she stepped out onto the pavement, she grinned as she heard the curses from inside the car. That ought to teach him to treat her, Makimachi Misao, like…that. Whatever 'that' was.

Ignoring the other people walking by, she stared ahead of her at where the entrance to the mall was. From the looks of things, it was just a normal mall, much like the one that Omasu and Ochika had dragged her to, early in the year. She really doubted if the Annoying Men From Hell would find anything they liked in it, because, seriously, they could get things of a much better quality (well, that was in their opinion, because 'commoners' like her were quite happy with whatever they got) elsewhere…like in some rich, flashy boutique or something…

Oh well, she thought with a shrug, that's none of my concern. All I need to concentrate on now, is getting 'lost' somewhere inside.

A devious smile appeared on her lips as she thought of what else she could do on a Saturday; especially since going back home was out of the question, what with her too-curious-for-his-own-good grandfather being there.

Perhaps she could---


Huh? Did someone say ---

"Ooof!" She back-pedalled as something crashed into her, trying, once more, to keep her balance unless she wanted to fall on her rear this time. The pain on her sneaker-clad left foot made itself known as she forgot all about not putting too much weight on it, earning a wince from her.

Ouch, ouch, OUCH!

Hands on her arms steadied her before she could fall backward, and the golden haired male gave her a watery, tearful smile.

"Y-You came!" he said, still keeping his hands on her arms. "I thought…I thought my whole family wouldn't come and –and –when Honey-sempai told me that you would rather die that come with us, I thought…I thought that you don't love this family a-anymore!"

Two things sprung into the forefront of the stunned girl's mind.


And; Who on earth said that I loved this 'family' in the first place?!

"Uh, Suoh-sempai, I-"

"-No, no, NO! Not Suoh-sempai! We're family! So it should be…it should be Tamaki-sempai!"

"Er…well, I-"

"-If she's your niece, and you're her uncle, it should be Ojisan then, shouldn't it, Otosan?"

Glancing behind the exuberant golden haired male, Misao saw that it was the eerily knowledgeable second year student that had just spoken. Which meant-

"Tamaki-sempai, please let go of Misao-chan. Not only are you scaring her, but you're causing a scene too."

As the…freakishly emotional ULT (Unidentified Living Thing) pulled away from her and gave her more breathing space, Misao had never been happier to see the short haired brunette.

"Thank you," she rasped, as Haruhi moved closer to her, no doubt to see if she was scarred for life or something of the sort (she still couldn't fathom how Haruhi dealt with this every single day).

"Believe me, nothing they do fazes me anymore," murmured Haruhi, as she shot A Look at the golden haired senior who was now making wild gestures at Kyoya, who in turn looked as interested in them as a dead chipmunk.

The dark haired girl snorted as she straightened out her t-shirt.

"Yeah, well, that still doesn't excuse---oof!" She found herself stumbling forward this time when something slammed into her from behind; or rather, when a pair of hands forcefully pushed her from behind. Somehow, she got the feeling that she didn't need to turn around to figure out who the culprit was.

Haruhi stared at the amused grin on Hikaru's face as their…newest 'toy' stumbled. When he saw her turn around, however, he quickly stepped to the side, revealing Mori, who was in the process of straightening as he stepped out of the car.


"-Okay, that's it, you JERK! I'm SICK and TIRED of dealing with you and your oh-so-hilarious antics and---" Misao paused in mid-rant, her index finger pointed at a somewhat bemused dark haired male. "You?" Her eyes narrowed as she stared at him.

"… …"

"Oh, so what, have you decided that it'd be fun to join that idiot with his immature antics? Huh? Huh? Huh??"

Boy, thought Hikaru, even as Haruhi sent him a disapproving glance, she sure recovers well from surprises.

"When you're done screaming your lungs out, how about we head inside and actually do what he came here to do? Hmm?" he questioned, as he linked his hands around the back of his head, his posture relaxed as he lazily glanced around him. "Besides, you're causing a scene too, Miso."

It was him whom Misao turned on next.

"Miso? Miso? How many times do I have to tell you-"

"-I am afraid that I am inclined to agree with Hikaru on this one," cut in a cool voice, drawing all attention to its owner. "You are causing a scene, Misao, and it would be best for us to head inside in any case. I don't know about you, but I am not accustomed to people gaping at me in disbelief."

Yeah, thought Misao, sarcastically, I'm sure you're just used to them staring at you in awe.

Yet she held her tongue, and, with a glare at no one in particular (unless it was directed at all of the Hosts, except for Haruhi, of course) stalked towards the mall's entrance, head held up high and shoulders thrown back in the very posture that screamed haughtiness and confidence.

Until, of course, she suddenly found herself face down on the pavement as a result of one of her not too uncommon I-always-ruin-my-exits-by-finding-something-or-the-other-to-trip-over moments.

In this case, the 'something or the other' had been her shoes.

Wincing at the pain that shot through her left foot, she grumbled into the hard surface of the pavement as she heard the familiar sniggers from behind her.

And people had the gall to ask her why she sometimes felt the whole world was against her.

An hour or so later:

She was practically buzzing as she made what seemed like her six hundredth trip around the second floor of the mall. And when she said 'buzzing', it wasn't a pleasant sort of buzzing. Rather, it was the sort of buzzing that came with a lack of sleep…or the sort of buzzing that came with a lot of bottled up…anger and frustration, waiting, just waiting to be released.

"Oh, oh, wait –look at this. Do they honestly believe that people will wear something like this?"

"I agree. That may have been the style four years ago…but it certainly doesn't suit this year."

"You have to wonder how these commoners can be so stupid…"

"But maybe this is all that they can afford? Whether it's old fashion or not, if that's all they can afford to buy…then they have no other choice, do they?"

"K-Kyouya! Did you hear that? We…we have to do something! We can't-"

"-No, Tamaki, we can."

"But…but these poor commoners won't be able to-"

"-These 'poor' commoners know quite well how to manage their budgets."

"But Hikaru and Kaoru said that-"

"-I doubt very much if they care about what year's fashions they are wearing, Tamaki, just as long as they have clothes on their backs."

"But it's because of their lack of money. If we were to…if I was to-"

"-You can't go up to random shoppers and hand them money, Tamaki, so I suggest your put your wallet aside."


"-No, Tamaki."

The long haired girl didn't even bother to look to see what was going on when silence suddenly descended upon them, for she was pretty sure what was going on.

After all, the golden haired male had gone into his 'corner of woe' only seventeen times so far.

"Maa, tono, will you please stop that?"

"Yeah, it's quite embarrassing, you know."

"And people are staring too."

"Tono, come on, get up…" All that Kaoru received in answer to his request was a rather loud sniff.

"Ne, Tama-chan, why don't you take me to that cake shop that you said you saw? Hmm?" The golden haired man shook his head, clearly upset that he wasn't allowed to hand out money to the poor, unfortunate commoners walking around –poor, unfortunate commoners who needed money.

Kyouya sighed when he saw his senior's eyes widen. He had a feeling he knew what was going to happen next, and he was not sure if he was going to have the patience to deal with it, in addition to what he was dealing with already.

Honey stared at Tamaki's hunched back. "Ne, Tama-chan…you'll take me to that shop, right? Right?" A moment after he had asked the question, he received another shake of the head as an answer. "T-Tama-chan…" mumbled the short senior, his brown eyes taking on a glassy look as he started tearing up. "T-Tama-chan doesn't…doesn't l-like me anymore…?" he whispered, his voice sounding so…broken that Misao found herself raising her head to look at him in surprise.

What on earth? What's up with him?

The young martial artist's query seemed to snap his younger friend from his stupor, for he whirled around, his own purple eyes as wide as his senior's.

"N-No! No, no, no!" he said, vehemently, as he shook his head. "I like you, very, very, very much! H-Honey-sempai!"

The short senior had a hopeful gleam in his eyes.


Tamaki nodded firmly.

"Really, Honey-sempai!" he said, before he rushed towards him, his arms wide open.


Misao could only stare, her jaw on it's way to the ground in pure disbelief, as her two seniors ran towards each other, looking for all the world like a pair of over-emotional idiots, before they collided –rather painfully, from the sound of things- into each other and fell to the ground in a heap of arms and legs.

"…Well," started Hikaru, amusement apparent in his voice.

"That was certainly interesting," finished Kaoru, with a soft chuckle, causing Misao to snort.

Interesting? More like embarrassing, she thought, as she glanced around and saw the stares their whole…group was getting. Oh great, I hope they don't think I'm involved with them, she thought, as she attempted to make herself look as inconspicuous as was possible.

"Don't worry, the more normal you are, the less they pay attention to you," commented Haruhi from beside her, causing her to jump in surprise.

"Huh? How did you-?"

Haruhi smiled enigmatically at her.

"Believe me, Misao-chan, you and I don't think too differently…" was all she was able to say, before she was suddenly dragged backward by the arms that were thrown around her shoulders. A blank expression replaced the smile that had been on her face. "Let go, Hikaru, Kaoru."

But the twins, it seemed, had other ideas.

"Do you know what I think?" questioned Hikaru.

"No, and I'm not sure I want to-"

"-I think that it's about time we did a little…something for Haruhi…" As the short haired girl looked to Kaoru, her heart sank slightly as she saw the grin on his face.

That did not bode well; it never did.

"I think so too," he agreed with a nod. "And there seem to be a lot of clothes stores here…despite their questionable taste…"

Hikaru returned his grin.

"It'll be fun; and Haruhi will be in a more comfortable atmosphere, one that is familiar to her, so she won't have any reason to complain…" He pulled Haruhi closer to him, an impish grin on his face as he stared down at her blank face. "Don't you agree, Ha-ru-hi?"

She blinked at him once.

"No, I-"


Ah. It seemed as though Tamaki was back.

Hikaru tightened his grip on Haruhi as their senior appeared by their side, his face red. "Let her go! Okaasan, your children are being horrible to my daughter! You must stop them!"

As the whispers started around her, Misao desperately wished that she could just sink into the earth. Did this mad lot have no idea how their actions were perceived by others? Geez, and she thought she was bad.

She frowned as she saw Hikaru lean towards Tamaki, whispering something to him. Whatever it was that he said must have been good, for the angry expression disappeared from his face, only to be replaced by one of anticipation.

Her green eyes widened slowly as four pairs of eyes suddenly turned to stare at her; two amber, one purple and one brown.


"What?" she snapped, rudely, uncomfortable under their stares. If she knew Haruhi better, and had been better able to read her expressions, she would have seen that her current expression was one of pity. "What the hell are you staring at me for?"

She took a step back as Tamaki and Hikaru headed towards her, wincing as her weight was transferred to her left foot. But the pain was banished from the forefront of her mind when she saw the identical gleams in the two males' eyes.

Almost predatory gleams.

"We," started Hikaru, his grin widening, if it was even possible. "Are going to begin our shopping spree now…" he said, much to Misao's slight horror.

All that walking around was for nothing? She had thought that they were uninterested in the items sold at the mall, and that they would leave soon.

"Uh, good for you. I'm not really sure I'm going to be buying anything so-" She was cut of when Tamaki shook his head vehemently.

"No, no, no, my adorable little niece, you have to buy something! We are going to get you some new clothes!"

He did not just say that.

Did he?

One look at the excited beam on his face made her heart sink rapidly.

He did, she confirmed, morosely, before she gritted her teeth.

"Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't need new clothes," she said, scowling when she saw the disdainful look Hikaru shot her.

"Judging from what you've got on, Miso, you really need a new wardrobe."

Narrowing her eyes under his scrutiny, Misao resisted the urge to toy with the bottom hem of her baby blue sports t-shirt.

"What the hell is wrong with what I've got on?" she snapped, seeing nothing wrong with the t-shirt and the knee-length denim shorts she had on.

Hikaru snorted.

"As much as I like the fitted capri's, Miso…that t-shirt? It needs to be burned."

"Excuse me, but this happens to be one of my favourite t-shirts!"

"Yeah, it figures," muttered Hikaru, rolling his eyes.

"Whatever, I'm not going with you. You can do whatever the hell you want, but I'm not joining you guys."

Tamaki gasped.

"But –but –but why?!"


"-Whatever gave you the impression that you had a choice in the matter, Miso?"

If looks could kill, Hikaru would have died, not just in this lifetime, but in the ones that came afterwards as well.

"I am not doing this, and that's that," she said, crossing her arms across her chest, wishing that they could just stop all of this foolishness…or at least stop to get something to eat –that way, she could sit down and rest her aching foot.

"Oh yes you are," said Hikaru, "and that's that," he mocked, cheekily.

Misao dropped her hands to her sides, clenching them into fists. What was wrong with these people?! Did they not understand that if someone said they didn't want to do something, they couldn't force them to do it?! Did they think that they could do what they wanted just because they were rich?!

Those idiotic, selfish, little---

"I know what we can do!" chirped Honey, suddenly. "We'll split up! Everyone that wants to go with Tama-chan and Hika-chan can go with them…and anyone who wants to go to the cake shop can come with me!"

Misao had to wonder if anyone really wanted to go with Tamaki and the diabolical one…but, hey, they were all friends, not her.

But the idea of the cake shop appealed to her, for not only was it a good opportunity to get away from the Mad Ones…but it also meant that she would be able to sit down somewhere, and rest her aching foot – a thought that appealed to her greatly.

"I'm going to the cake shop," she said, quickly, earning a smile from the short senior.

"Yay! Who else wants to join me?" he queried. "Takashi?"


Misao frowned at that. She'd forgotten about Mr. Tall and Broody. But really, suffering his presence was only a small price to pay in avoiding the hellish plans that Tamaki and the idiot had.

"B-But Honey-sempai…I wanted to buy my adorable niece some clothes that would bring out her beauty and…and enhance her wonderful personality-"

"Wonderful personality? Are you talking about the same banshee that we all know?"

"Excuse me?! Who're you calling a banshee, you arrogant pig?!"

"See? Banshee."

"I am not a banshee, you little-"

"What else could she possibly be, except for a banshee? Why, I think she'd outdo that-"

Honey skipped towards the bristling dark haired girl, snagging her wrist in his surprisingly strong grip, before he turned to Kyouya.

"We're off then, Kyo-chan!" he exclaimed, cheerily. "If you need anything, Takashi and I both have our cell phones."

Kyouya nodded.

"Enjoy yourself, Honey-sempai," he said, graciously. "And do be so kind as to leave some treats for the rest of the commoners."

With a quick wave, the suddenly very-active short senior bounded away from the rest of the hosts, dragging his new dark haired friend behind him.

Mori stared after his cousin for a moment before he sighed. Stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans, he sauntered after them, wondering if his cousin even knew where the cake shop was.

"Aw," grumbled Hikaru, disappointed, "there goes my source of amusement."

Haruhi glared at him.

"You shouldn't treat her like that, Hikaru," she said. "It's wrong."

"But it's fun," said the devil-twin, with a grin.

"It's fun for you, but sheer torture for others," muttered Haruhi, before she found herself being dragged along once more.

Why, oh why had she agreed to come on this 'shopping spree'?

Oh right; she hadn't wanted her father to kill Tamaki, and the quickest way to get the golden haired male out of the 'danger-zone' was by agreeing to go with him.

Sometimes, she wondered about her priorities in life; she really did.

A little while later:

Her mood had deteriorated further as she and her seniors had walked around the mall, looking for the cake shop. Of course, they'd have found it sooner if the short senior hadn't adamantly decided to find it himself, as opposed to taking her word for it and heading for the ground floor.

And now that they were finally at the place…there weren't any free tables.

What, did everyone decide to suddenly come and eat at this place? She wanted a place to sit down dammit.

She was startled out of her thoughts when the short senior bounced back up to where she and the dark haired senior had been standing. The large smile on his face made her hopeful.

"Did you find one?" she asked hopefully, despite her bad mood.

Honey nodded.

"Yes! They were very nice people, very helpful too!" he exclaimed, as he once again grabbed her hand and led her towards the back of the shop, towards where the booths were. There was a table for four that was free, and it was with a relieved sigh that Misao slid into the cushioned seat, leaving the two seniors to take the two chairs opposite her.

Ah, finally, she thought, as she sat down, well aware of the throbbing, almost searing pain in her left foot. It appeared to her as though the pain had increased as she had walked around.

Honey smiled as he watched the relieved expression flash across the girl's features.

"Do you not like walking, Itachi-chan?" he queried, curiously, causing her eyes to snap open with a start.

"I have nothing against it," she muttered, with a shrug.

"Oh." She stared at him for a moment longer, wondering if he had anything more to say, but when he said nothing further, she shrugged to herself and turned her attention to their surroundings. It wasn't a big store by any means, but its small interior and the warm lighting inside gave it a rather warm atmosphere.

It wasn't difficult to relax in a place like this, and for that, she was grateful. "Ne, Itachi-chan, what'll you be having?"

Her green eyes turned to her pale haired senior once more, and it took her a brief moment to figure out what he meant.

"Nothing," she said, shortly, frowning when she saw the crestfallen expression on his face. What was with these people and being disappointed for the smallest of things? She'd hate to see how they'd deal with real disappointment, if they even knew what the term meant. "I'm not hungry."

Honey's brown eyes were wide.

"But…but…it's cake…" he stammered, looking for all the world as though she was the first person he had come across who said she didn't want cake.

She shrugged casually.

"I know it's cake, but I'm not hungry, so…yeah."

"But, not even a-"

"-I'm not hungry, okay?" snapped Misao, annoyed at the constant questioning. It was one question after the other with these people; either they were extremely curious, or they just didn't know when to keep quiet. She was guessing it was the latter, but then again, what did she know, huh?

The dark haired senior, who had remained unnoticeably quiet all this while, cleared his throat softly, drawing her attention to him.

"Mitsukuni was merely being polite," he said, quietly, as his grey eyes met her green, which narrowed as she more or less understood the implication behind his words.

"So I shouldn't be honest, then?" she shot back, raising her eyebrows.

Mori stared at her for a moment before shrugging.

"It is not a matter of being honest."

"Oh?" she challenged, her posture stiffening as she stared hard at him, looking as though she was preparing for a fight. "Then what is it?"

As he observed her impassively, Mori took in the changes in her posture. From what he knew of her personality, he knew that she was ready for a fight, a verbal or physical one, it mattered not.

Sighing inwardly, he shrugged once more.

"It is a matter of being polite," he mumbled, before he turned his grey eyes to the table they were seated at. Misao scoffed as she sunk back into the cushioned seat, knowing from the way he averted his gaze that things wouldn't go any further than that.

"I was just being honest," she muttered, somewhat moodily. "Excuse me for stating my opinion."

It was as though a dark cloud drew up above them, for the atmosphere suddenly became very tense. Honey stared from his cousin (who was still staring at the uninteresting table top) to Misao, who was looking off to the side, not looking too happy.

Why was it that he always seemed to be around in sticky situations like this?

Well, at least there was cake. And the thought of that brightened things for the martial artist, causing him to look around the small shop. Most of the people he could see already seemed to have their orders before them…ah, that chocolate cake looked divine…all that gooey, chocolaty goodness…and were those…chocolate chips he could see? Oooh, that looked delicious… …

Misao snorted as she watched the short senior, following his gaze with her eyes before she shook her head. "You're drooling, Hani…Honey-sempai," she muttered, feeling her lips turn upward as the short senior snapped his head around to face her, looking very much like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Sometimes, she thought, amusedly, sometimes, he is just so darn cute…

"I…I want to place my order," mumbled Honey, embarrassed, as he spoke to the table-top. Misao grinned.

"No one's stopping you," she pointed out. "Feel free to go ahead."

Honey looked confused for a moment.

"But I can't. Not until someone takes the order, at least," he said, slowly. Misao glanced ahead of her, towards the counter.

"It's not busy now at all. The sooner you go and tell them what you want, the better," she advised.

Honey blinked.

"Tell who?"

"The lady behind the counter."

"But…I..." Honey paused. "Isn't someone going to come up to our table and take our order?"

It was Misao's turn to blink as both her seniors stared at her.

"You're kidding, right?" she queried, half-smiling until she realized that their confused expressions (or rather, Honey's confused expression) were genuine. "You're serious?"

"Aren't there people to take our order?" asked Honey, again, tilting his head to a side in curiosity. Misao shook her head.

"Not at this store, no," she said, her voice sounding somewhat strained.

"But there should be. At every other cake shop, at every other restaurant, there are-"

"-This isn't a restaurant, Honey-sempai," cut in Misao, slowly. "And cake shops like these don't usually have waiters. Well, no, that's a lie, they do…but not this one, I guess."

Honey's eyes were wide.

"But then…then…who brings the food out? To the customers?"

Misao shifted her focus onto Mori in disbelief, but found that that was no help, for he was staring at her blankly. Oh good grief! I guess they're normal lifestyle doesn't consist of self-service…

"It's called self-service," she muttered, resisting the urge to roll her eyes at the expression on the short senior's face. "You go up to the counter and make your order. They then give you a number, and when they call it out, you go back to the counter and pick up your order."

"They give you a number? Why?"

"So that you will know it's your order that's being called out."

"But how do they know which number they've given you? They must have good memories!"

Misao blinked.

"Er…no, they make a record of it and when they get the cake they look at the records they've made and then call out the number."

"But where do they get the numbers from?"

"Where do they get the numbers from?!" asked Misao, incredulously. "Why, they…" she paused, suddenly. "Uh…they…well, they…" She stopped again with a quick shake of the head. "I don't know where they get them from. They just do, okay?" She sighed. "So go ahead and place your order, both of you. I'll stay here and save your seats."

Both seniors stared blankly at her.

"Who cleans the tables after we're gone?"


"Who cleans the tables-"

"-I heard you the first time, sempai. Is it even important?"

"Well, if there aren't any waiters or waitresses, then-"

"-Oh for the love of god, why do you care, Honey-sempai? It's not important in the least! Just go and make your orders, already!"

She was met with more blank looks. Oh for crying out loud, what was wrong with them?! "Fine," she snapped, sourly. "What do you want?"

"I want cake," said Honey, somewhat surprised at the question. Misao did her very best to refrain from rolling her eyes.

"I wouldn't have guessed," she muttered, unable to help herself, before she shrugged. "What type of cake do you want?"

Honey looked thoughtful.

"Is there a menu I can look at? Usually, they give you a menu and-" Misao held up a hand, stopping him.

"I don't know what cake shops you've been to, Honey-sempai, but this is certainly not one of them. The menu's up there, by the counter," she said, pointing at the board that hung on the wall behind the counter.

"Oh." Honey pouted. "But…I can't see anything on it…"

The dark haired girl was proud that she kept the groan from leaving her mouth.

"That's because you have to go up to it and read it," she muttered. "You know what, never mind," she said, as the short senior opened his mouth to say something else. "I'll just…order something for you both, okay? It shouldn't be too hard to guess what you'll like."

Honey's eyes were wide.

"Really? Really, Itachi-chan?" he asked, stars in his eyes. Misao nodded.

"Yeah," she said, as she slid out of the booth seat. "Now if you'll excuse me…" She stopped when the dark haired senior held up a hand. "What?" she asked.

Mori looked uncomfortable for the briefest of moments, before he held out his hand to her.

"Use this."

Her green eyes fell on the brown leather wallet he was holding out to her, and she realized two things; he seemed more up to date with 'commoner's' ways of life than his cousin did…and he was expecting her to use his money to pay.

"Look, not that I like you two or anything," she started, "but really, I'll pay for this. It's fine." Honey's eyes widened just as Mori looked more uncomfortable.

"It is fine," he said, "I should have…more than enough for this."

Misao's eyes narrowed ever so slightly.

"And I should have more than enough for this too. I don't exactly go around wasting my pocket money," she added, rolling her eyes.

"But Itachi-chan…" started Honey, as Mori fidgeted awkwardly in his seat.


"…Your hard earned money…do you really want to…to waste it on us? Just think, you could use it to buy something else. Something you've always wanted but never had the money to buy…"

Realization dawned on the dark haired girl only then; they thought she didn't have enough money to pay for this.

She gritted her teeth.

"Look, I don't know what your opinions are when it comes to people who are not like you lot," she got out, through gritted teeth, "but I won't allow you to insult me by suggesting that I don't have the money to pay for this? Just because you're very well off doesn't give either of you the right to treat me, or anyone else, like this. So just…stay put until I make the order, alright?"

With a last, formidable glare in their direction, she turned away from them and headed towards the counter, her shoulders thrown back in annoyance as she did so.

Honey turned in his seat to watch his newest friend, the corners of his mouth curved downwards as he wondered if she was angry once again, when something caught his attention.

Misao wasn't walking towards the counter; she was limping.

"Ne, Takashi," he called, causing his cousin to turn to him. "Is there something wrong with Itachi-chan?"

Mori quirked an eyebrow at his cousin. What wasn't wrong with her? It seemed as though his cousin sensed his thoughts, for he sent him a quick pout before he nodded towards their friend's retreating figure. "Look, Takashi, she's limping."

The dark haired senior nodded as he too turned slightly in his seat, so he could observe her.

"She has been limping for…a while," he said, quietly, unaware of the sharp look his cousin was sending him. "She seems to be favouring her left foot."

Really, Takashi?

"Itachi-chan has been limping for a while, Takashi?" queried Honey, his eyebrows shooting up. "And she never mentioned anything to us… I wonder if she's hurt?"

Mori shrugged. How was he to know? Although…he was sure he had caught sight of a grimace or two of pain on her face… "We'll ask her when she gets back, ne, Takashi?"

Personally, he'd rather not, simply because he had a sinking feeling it would all end up turning out to be his fault…as it always did wherever she was concerned.

But who was he to stop his sweet, considerate cousin?

"Hnn," was all he said, as he turned back around in his seat, taking up his earlier task of staring at the table top.

At the same time:

The brunette stared at her two schoolmates, dull brown eyes taking in the mountains of…what appeared to be clothing that they held in their arms.

Gulping, she glanced off towards the side, looking for at least one ally…only to find a grinning twin and a too-calm bespectacled male.

"Kyouya-sempai," she started, as she swallowed, "I-"

"-Do have fun, Haruhi," cut in Kyouya, as he pushed his glasses back along the ridge of his nose. "I'm sure I saw a bookstore somewhere on this floor…" He trailed off as he glanced around him. "If you'll excuse me, I'll be heading off."

Haruhi's eyes widened slightly.

"But…sempai, perhaps it would be…better if you were to stay here? Just in case?"

The smile Kyouya sent her was anything but reassuring.

"I'm leaving everything in your capable hands, Haruhi," he said, politely. "And I don't expect any complaints." Haruhi stared after him as he sauntered off, her heart sinking as he finally disappeared.

There went her only source of…possible help.

"Oh Ha-ru-hi," called Hikaru, cheerily, "come on, we've got work to do!"

This is going to be a long day, thought Haruhi, her shoulders slumping.

Honey's eyes were wide as the girl walked back towards them, a tray in her hands. She set it down at their table, placing a fork beside each platter, before she slid into the seat she had previously been occupying.

"I thought we have to wait until they call a number," he mused, his brows furrowed as he glanced down at the two plates before them.

Misao shrugged.

"You do," she said, "but since there was no other order for them to take, the service was fast." She leaned back into the cushioned booth seat, a sigh leaving her lips unwittingly.

Honey looked up at her as he heard the sigh, and exchanged a quick, pointed glance with his cousin, who merely stared blankly at him.

Letting out a quiet huff, the martial artist turned back to Misao.

"Are you alright, Itachi-chan?" he queried, slowly, for he didn't know how she would react to such questioning.

She cracked an eye open as she fixed it on him.

"I'm splendid, Honey-sempai," she muttered, before she gestured towards the slice of cake before him. "Aren't you eating?"

He nodded quickly.

"I am!" he said, hurriedly grabbing the fork she had placed before him, as though he feared she'd take it away from her. Misao held back a smile as she watched him.

"I hope you like the chocolate chip surprise," she muttered, glancing at the table next to them. The only reason she had decided to get that for the short senior was because he had been staring, and drooling, as he had watched someone else eating it.

"I'm sure I will," said Honey, cheerily, before he proceeded to have his first bite of the chocolaty goodness. He was usually partial to cakes with lots of icing…but this chocolate chip surprise looked too good to pass up. He closed his eyes in bliss as he savoured the taste. "Mmm…it's delicious, Itachi-chan!" he exclaimed, his eyes shining.

Misao shrugged.

"Great," she said, not at all enthusiastically, but Honey chose to overlook her lack of enthusiasm as he glanced over at his cousin.

"What did you get, Takashi?" he queried, curiously, as he stared at the slice before him.

"… … …"

"It's coffee cake," supplied Misao, holding back another sigh, before she glanced up at the blank-faced senior. "It's not really sweet…it's more…bitter, I guess…" she muttered, as both he and Honey looked at her. "I thought you might like something like that…"

Honey smiled as she averted her gaze. She sure was observant of them, for someone who claimed to not like them in the least.

"How did you know that about Takashi?" he queried, innocently. The dark haired girl shrugged again.

"I just…thought…" she mumbled, clearly uneasy.

Honey's smile widened as he helped himself to another bite of his slice of cake.

"Not many people are able to tell that about Takashi, you know…" he commented, casually, causing his cousin to send him a questioning glance. "Especially if they dislike him so much…" he added.

Misao snorted.

"Yeah, well, those 'people' are probably blinded by his good looks and highly appealing body," she muttered, rolling her eyes. "It's not too hard to figure out that he doesn't like anything too sweet." When silence met her statement, she glanced ahead of her, only to see Honey staring at her in a way that was decidedly discomforting. "What?" she asked, at last.

"Do you think Takashi is good looking? And that he has an…appealing body?"

The dark haired girl stared at him.

"What? Of course not!"

"Then…why did you say that?"

Misao blinked, uncomfortably aware of the fact that her cheeks were getting warm. Dammit, Misao, what's wrong with you?!

"I was being sarcastic, you id---uh, Honey-sempai! That's what the rest of those…brainless bimbos think about him," she spluttered, fidgeting in her seat. "I certainly don't think that!"

Honey pouted, but the smile was back on his lips almost immediately.

"What do you think of Takashi, then?" Misao fidgeted further in her seat, not comfortable with the direction the conversation was going in.

"He's a perverted, stupid, annoying…person," she snapped, crossing her arms defensively across her chest. "Now will you hurry up and eat? The sooner you finish the sooner we can get out of here."

"Of course, Itachi-chan," agreed Honey, as he returned his attention to his cake, bowing his head so that she wouldn't see the smile on his lips.

Whatever you say, Itachi-chan, he thought, cheerily.

Glancing at the dark haired senior out of the corner of the eye, Misao saw that his attention was fixed on the slice of cake placed before him. For a moment, a brief, brief moment, she wondered if she, perhaps, shouldn't have said those things about him. After all, it wasn't as though she really thought that of him. He was ---

Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa, she thought, bringing her thoughts to an abrupt halt. What was that about? I don't think that of him? Of course I do! He's the absolute worst! Remember?

Her eyes narrowed in agreement.

But then…maybe he's not…so bad all the time…she thought, remembering how he had more or less gotten Hikaru to leave her room that morning. What he said then…had almost sounded… Argh, it doesn't matter. He's just horrible, horrible, horrible!

"Mou, Itachi-chan, that's mean…" commented Honey, pouting up at her.

"Huh?" She was surprised to see the disapproving expression on the short senior's face.

"Takashi's not horrible," said Honey. "He's really very nice, you know, you just don't know him well enough yet."

Misao's eyes widened in horror. I didn't…say that out loud. Did I? Oh god… She glanced at the dark haired senior, only to see him staring impassively at her, before he looked away.

"I didn't mean-" she stopped, wondering why she was flushing. What didn't she mean? That he was horrible? Or that she didn't mean to say it out loud?

Honey stared at her for a moment longer, before he wisely decided not to press the issue. Instead, he decided to ask his friend about what he had noticed about her limping.

"Ne, Itachi-chan…is something wrong with your foot?" Misao sent him a sharp look. "You've been limping…" clarified Honey, "All day, ne Takashi?"

Seeing his cousin was sending him a pointed look, Mori nodded slowly.


Misao frowned, bristling almost automatically.

"Why, am I not allowed to limp when I feel like it?" she asked, defensively. Honey's eyes widened.

"Eh? No, no, nothing like that, Itachi-chan, I just-"

"-Well there's no need to-"

"There is no need to lose your temper. Mitsukuni is just…concerned."

Misao glared at the dark haired senior, stopping abruptly when she saw the disapproving expression on his face. The disapproving expression directed at her. Who did he think he was to look at her like that? It wasn't like he was perfectly polite anyway! Or any of them, for that matter!

But she bowed her head, somewhat embarrassed. Whatever the rest of them were like, Honey-sempai…well, he was…nice, wasn't he? If you were to leave aside that annoying curiosity of his that is…

"I'm sorry," she muttered, to the table. Silence fell upon them, and she resisted the urge to fidget again. Why, why had she crumbled under her grandfather's threats and accompanied the hosts here? Why?

She sighed. "I injured myself," she said, slowly, not looking at either of her seniors. "When I jumped out of bed this morning," she continued.

Honey looked surprised.

"How?" he asked, concerned.

Misao shrugged.

"I don't know. Well, my ankle's really sore…and I did manage to step on a piece of glass-"

"-Glass? Itachi-chan, are you alright? Did you take it out?!"

"Whoa, calm down," said Misao, as she saw the short senior sit up straight in his seat. "And yes, I managed to get the sliver out, and dress the cut properly."

"But how did you step on glass---ah, never mind," said Honey, as he saw the dark expression flash across his friend's face. "But what about your ankle?"

Misao shrugged again.

"I don't know, maybe I landed wrong on it? All I know is that it hurts…"

Honey frowned.

"And you've been walking around with us too…" His large eyes filled up with tears. "I'm so sorry, Itachi-chan! We should never have asked you to come with us. Or we should have taken greater notice of the fact that you weren't-"

"-It's fine, Honey-sempai, calm down," cut in Misao, shaking her head at his behaviour. "I'm a big girl, you know. I'd like to think I can handle this kind of pain…"

She wasn't entirely comfortable with the disbelieving looks her two seniors sent her. Had she really made her pain that noticeable? What was wrong with her? What would Aoshi-sama say if he were to find out she couldn't handle such a silly, superficial bit of pain? "Er…I wonder how Haruhi's doing…" she mused, desperate to change topic.

"We should do something for your ankle, Itachi-chan," commented Honey, ignoring her query. He glanced sideways, at his stoic cousin. "Ne, Takashi?"

Mori stared blankly at his cousin. Why was he looking at him like that…? Was he supposed to do something…? "Ne, Takashi?"


"Aa," he said, somewhat meekly, even as he wondered where his cousin was going with this, for he brightened at once at his answer.

"Don't worry, Itachi-chan, Takashi will help you," said Honey, with a grin.

"What?" asked Misao, just as Mori turned to his cousin. I will…? Honey nodded.

"A little massage should help," he said, before he turned to his cousin, an expectant look on his face.

A little massage – Mori's grey eyes widened ever so slightly. What was he supposed to do? She'd kill him if he so much as entertained the thought of touching her anywhere. Not that he entertained such thoughts, of course. But, still-

"Uh, no, it's fine Honey-sempai, really. I should be able to-"

"-We're not done with our shopping spree yet, Itachi-chan. And we'll be walking around a lot more…" Misao cringed at the thought.

"Really, Honey-sempai, it's fine. I'll manage somehow and-"

"-Takashi just wants to help, Itachi-chan. Ne, Takashi?"

I do…?


Misao stared at him as though he had grown an extra head.


Mori sighed as he sensed his cousin's eyes on him. He knew that he was the one that tended to the injuries that they received during sparring –it had been his duty, ever since they were young children, starting first with his younger brother, and then with Mitsukuni and his brother. But still…surely his cousin knew that this case was different. He'd like to live to see another day after all.

But evidently, he had no choice in the matter.

"Put your leg up," he directed, impassively, as he glanced at the dark haired girl.

"I will not," snapped Misao.

"…I will just check to see if you have sprained it, or anything of the sort." Why did it seem as though he was convincing her to do as he said?

Misao just stared at him.

"…It can't be sprained…right?"

Mori shrugged.

"I will check…" A few moments of silence passed by, before the dark haired girl sighed heavily. She normally wouldn't care to do as they asked, but her ankle was hurting…and if she had done something to it, she wouldn't be able to attend kendo practice. And if she wasn't able to learn more…then what would he say whenever he got back home?

Grumbling under her breath, she brought her foot up onto the cushioned seat, carefully taking off her sneaker, before she looked up at him. Here goes, she thought, before she put her foot back down and reached out with it until she hit something hard…something that felt like a knee.

Mori tensed as he felt the foot on his jeans-clad knee, tensing even more as he realized whose foot it was. He felt her fumble around as her foot fought for some form of purchase, and he quickly reached out with his hands and gently placed it on his thigh before she could…fumble around…elsewhere.

"Just hurry it up," muttered Misao, trying –and failing- to intimidate him with a glare. Nodding, Mori moved his hand around her swollen ankle, taking care not to disturb the wad of plaster that he noticed on her heel –no doubt where the…glass-wound was.

As he prodded the swollen lump on her ankle, he felt her muscles tense just as he heard the soft hiss from her. Slowly, carefully, he pressed his long fingers around the swollen lump, noting the red tint that appeared on the pale skin once he removed his fingers.

Misao hissed again, gritting her teeth. "Do you have to do that?" she snapped, irritably. When she received no answer, she made to move her leg away from his hands, only to find that he had a stronger grip on it than she had expected.

Honey stared from his cousin, to what he could see of his friend's ankle, to his friend, an unreadable expression on his face despite the fact that there was a strange gleam in his eyes.

"Um…I'm just going to go and see what else they have on the menu," he said, quietly. "To see if there's something we can…ah, get for the others too…" Before his cousin or friend could say anything, he jumped out of his seat and rushed away, only then allowing a devious smile to form on his lips.

Misao stared after him, bemused.

"Your cousin is weird," she muttered, shaking her head. She winced as fingers pressed her injured ankle once more. "Owie…must you do that?"

"…Sorry…" Ceasing his prodding, Mori slipped one hand underneath her ankle and brought his other hand up to just below where her toes started. Once he was sure he had a firm enough grip, he started to turn her ankle, slowly.

"Ow, ow…ow…!"

"The pain will go down after a while…" he mumbled, as he concentrated on turning her ankle clockwise, before pausing for half a moment and beginning to turn it anti-clockwise. When he received no pained hiss at that movement, he glanced up at her. "Does that hurt?" he asked, quietly.

Misao's brows were furrowed as she shook her head.

"…Not that much, actually," she mumbled, after a while. "It's what you did before that hurt…"

Mori nodded to himself, glancing down at her swollen ankle once more before he relaxed.

"It is not serious, then. Probably just a slight sprain."

"Really?" He nodded. "Then why does it hurt so damn much?" He was quiet for a while, before he shrugged.

"Sometimes, walking helps with small sprains, for you can walk them off," he mumbled, from his own experience, "but there are times when rest is still best, even for small sprains."


As he continued to tend to her ankle, he could sense that she wanted to ask him something, but was hesitating. He wasn't going to push her; he was just surprised that she was…not screaming bloody murder at him, for touching her.

Not that he was doing anything inappropriate, of course, he thought, hurriedly, expertly brushing aside the memory of her appearance earlier that morning, with her rumpled hair and her lose pyjama top hanging off her shoulders…

Ankle. Swollen ankle. Sprained ankle. Focus.

"How do you...know all of this?"

Mori hesitated as he continued to turn her ankle.

"I have a younger brother," he supplied, earning a grin from the dark haired girl.

"Heh, I wouldn't have minded that," she mused, causing him to look up at her. "Having a younger brother, I mean," she added hastily.

He didn't know if it was the unreadable expression on her face, or the wistful note in her voice…but he couldn't help but recall Okina's words from earlier that morning. About how…lonely she really was. He hadn't really thought about that before, because, really, she didn't act as though she was…lonely.

Though maybe that temper of hers was a result of that…?

They remained in silence after that. Unwilling to force herself to think of something to speak of, Misao settled for relaxing into her cushioned seat, pressing her head against the cushion as she closed her eyes.

Mori glanced up at her as he felt her relax, and quickly averted his eyes back to her ankle. Where was Mitsukuni? Surely he couldn't be taking so long to look at what the menu had to offer?

"Ano…excuse me…" came a meek, female voice, startling him out of his thoughts. He glanced to his left, at where a short haired young woman stood, an apologetic expression on her face. Misao sent her a somewhat disgruntled look as she was forced to open her eyes.


The young woman smiled at her.

"Well, I was just wondering if you two needed this chair here," she said, as she gestured to Mitsukuni's vacant seat.

Misao opened her mouth to tell her she was sorry, but the chair was needed, when she suddenly noticed the reddening expression on her face.

Huh? Following her gaze, she saw it had settled on…Mori. She held back a snort. Yeah, trust him to attract all that attention, she thought, acidly, as she glared at him.

"Sorry, but we sort of do need-"

"-Oh, I'm sorry!" exclaimed the young woman, her face very red by now. "I didn't mean to…to interrupt anything…"

Interrupt what?

"Interrupt what?" asked Misao, knowing that her companion was just as puzzled as she was. The young woman flushed further as she glanced at…Mori? Or was it something…else?

"I'm so sorry. P-Please, do go on…" She half turned to go, when she suddenly looked at them again. "Although…perhaps it would be…uh…better if you two were to go somewhere…more private? That way you won't need to worry about anyone seeing you and-" she flushed again as she gestured at Mori's lap.

Realization seemed to dawn on Misao and Mori at the same time, for the hands on her leg loosened their grip just as she made to pull her leg away from him.

"Ouch –it's not what you think!" exclaimed Misao, vehemently. "Really, it's not! I've just sprained my ankle and he was…he was just trying to see if-"

But the young woman simply smiled at her, sending her a knowing look before leaving them.

Leaving them in a very, very awkward silence.

Oh god, thought Misao, oh god, she did not, she did not think that…that I was…that he –that we were…!

Mori stared at the table, a faint tinge of red spreading across his cheeks as he slowly moved his hands back into his pockets.

Well now, this was awkward.

"Itachi-chan, how's your ankle now?" chirped Honey cheerily, as he bounced towards them with a takeaway box in his hands. "I got us all some more –" he stopped short when he saw his friend's reddened face, and his cousin's reluctance to meet his gaze. "…Eh? Is everything alright? Takashi? Itachi-chan?"

Misao swallowed against…whatever it was that was making it difficult for her to string a proper sentence together.

"Uh, if you're done, Honey-sempai, maybe we should just…er, go…" she stammered, never once looking at him.

Honey tilted his head to a side.

"But I thought you wanted Takashi to massage your-"

"-NO!" She shook her head. "No, it's…it's fine, really. I feel…better now." She turned her head in the dark haired senior's direction, although she didn't look at him. "Thanks," she muttered, quietly.

Mori nodded, keeping his eyes averted as well.

Honey stood aside as they both stood up, moving around the table. Had he missed something while he had been gone? Something that made them both seem as though they were…embarrassed?

Mou, he thought, as he followed them outside, casting a curious glance at a group of seated young women as they giggled as they walked by them, pointing at his cousin and their new friend.

What's going on?


Hope you enjoyed the extra-long chapter. And a belated Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful and prosperous new year too, in case I don't manage to finish the next chapter before then!