Masaya moves to England and Ichigo finds comfort in her growing friendship with Keiichiro. The mews misunderstand and try to set them up while Ryou's friendship with Keiichiro gets a little cold. Meanwhile Keiichiro tries to expose their unrealized feelings for each other. Will the two stubborn cats finally speak all the words left unspoken between them?
An early warning for you readers…this does get a bit physical in later chapters. Rating may go up.
Also, please don't take any offense to the diction used here such as: 'Jesus,' 'Oh my God,' and the like. I mean no disrespect. I tend to use these phrases so that I can avoid coarser words.
Chapter 1: A Little Misunderstanding
Her cheek lay flat against the cold surface of the kitchen table as strands of strawberry colored hair were sprawled loosely over her face hiding her empty expression. She mildly heard distant voices calling, but ignored them.
"Geez Ichigo, are you listening?" Mint stood beside the redhead with her arms crossed.
"Ichigo," the green-haired girl took a step forward from the crowded doorway as she spoke. "We're all very worried about you." Ichigo sat motionless in her position, only grunting slightly to acknowledge the speakers.
"Ichigo-neesan. Lettuce-neesan is right. We don't like seeing you sad na no da." The monkey girl pushed her way through the three girls and climbed up behind Ichigo's chair. She was just about to brush away the loose fallen hair from Ichigo's face.
"Stop it Pudding. Let's just leave her alone. She obviously needs to sort out her own thoughts." Zakuro's tone was cold but she felt more concern than she led others to believe. The wolf girl motioned silently for them to leave and held the kitchen door open as Mint, Lettuce and Pudding each made their way out the door. But before the famous idol left, she turned around briefly to speak. "I'm sorry Ichigo, but even you must know that no amount of sulking will change the fact that he left."
Of course, Ichigo knew this was true but it wasn't as if she was choosing to feel miserable about it. She just did. What happened to all those unfulfilled promises? Masaya was her one and only true love, how could things have ended so abruptly when they were supposed to be together forever?
Her head was still glued to the table as question after question filled her exhausted mind. "God, it's already been three weeks!" she screamed, suddenly very angry with herself. Masaya was gone and she was still here, stuck in her Masaya-less life, but she just couldn't get over it.
"Momomiya-san?" Keiichiro had slipped in unnoticed, or rather, Ichigo had failed to hear the sounds of the kitchen door opening. "What's been three weeks?"
She sighed. It wasn't really anyone's business, but the Mews already knew. What difference did it make if one more person knew of the pathetic-ness that was Ichigo? "Since Masaya moved to England."
"Pardon?" Keiichiro's eyes grew wide with astonishment. He had known something had been bothering the girl lately, but he never thought it could be this. Seeing the pained expression of Ichigo however, he cleared his throat. "I'm very sorry Momomiya-san. I never would have imagined." Yeah, well neither would she have.
"I just – " Ichigo finally brought herself to speak about it, having been a walking zombie for the entire time she kept it bottled in. "I know it wasn't his choice, but…why? Why did this have to happen?"
Keiichiro pulled a seat beside the distressed girl whose face must have gone numb by now. "Wasn't his choice?"
"His parents were moving for work. Something about a big opportunity for the company in London." She finally peeled her numb cheek from the tabletop and lifted her head. Her voice was impatient. She wasn't quite sure why she was talking to Akasaka-san about this or what good would come of talking about it at all.
"Ahh" he said calmly. "So you can't be angry at him, as it wasn't his decision."
The redhead dropped her forehead against the tabletop and groaned, possibly from the physical pain. "That's why I'm so mad! He leaves after everything we've been through and I can't even blame him for leaving. Do you have any idea how much easier it would be if I could actually yell at him?"
"What exactly are you angry about?" He looked at her, puzzled. "It won't do to be angry over nothing when the circumstances can't be helped." Maybe to him it seemed that simple, but it wasn't at all that simple to Ichigo, who had just lost the love of her life.
Agitated, she lifted her head from the table and stared at him. "I just told you. I'm angry about the situation. It just isn't fair." But after saying it out loud finally, it did seem just a tad bit silly. She brought her head back down against the table, embarassed by her own sudden outburst.
"So you're angry at fate? Fate has drawn you apart. Perhaps it was never meant to be." Keiichiro continued calmly, not the least bit unnerved by the change in tone directed at him.
"Fate?!" she turned around to once again make eye contact with the brunet. By this time, her head was spinning from the constant motion. Groaning, she held her head in both hands for a brief moment, before speaking. "If anything, we were fated to be together. You can't possibly think it's fate pulling us apart, after we proved our love during the Dark Blue crisis."
"Fate is often unexpected and it can't be changed." He said simply. He looked at her troubled expression as she sorted her thoughts. She knew the situation couldn't be changed and it wasn't really the sole reason she was angry as she claimed it to be. The redhead was agitated by her own weakness, by her inability to accept the truth. "Now tell me what it is that is really bothering you." She gradually looked up, dropping both hands against the surface of the cold table, but she could not meet Keiichiro's eyes. She just wasn't ready to admit her own vulnerability.
"Ichigo" his voice was kind. A little startled by the sudden familiarity he used in addressing her, she lifted her head a second time to look him in the eyes. It was after all, the first time he used her first name. Although honestly, she had just confided in him three weeks worth of unspoken anguish, something she had not even done with the Mews who had somehow figured it out on their own (courtesy of Pudding's detective skills), so really it shouldn't have been the least bit shocking.
"If something happens to trouble you. I am always glad to talk to you." Keiichiro had continued to speak, after catching her attention and seeing her unshed tears. He was always calm and collected, never judging the speaker and could somehow tell when she hadn't told the whole truth; he truly was the perfect listener.
"Akasaka-san," she began to say, teary-eyed as she fought the urge to cry.
"It's Keiichiro." He smiled reassuringly at the red-haired girl.
"Keiichiro…" His words had been comforting despite the simpleness of it. She didn't know what had compelled her to speak to him about these matters instead of the girls – perhaps for the sake of some male input or for his apparent wisdom, or maybe in some ways, because of his resemblance to Masaya – but she was glad she did.
"Forget about him." He reached for her wet face. She hadn't even noticed when she started crying. Wiping the tears from her cheek, he spoke. "All you can do now is move on." She knew he was right. She couldn't possibly mope around forever, waiting for Masaya who had already told her to forget him.
A creak at the door suddenly caught her attention as she broke her gaze from Keiichiro's compassionate eyes. Ryou stood by the entrance quite still, eyes wide and mouth slightly open. Ichigo didn't quite understand why he was standing there dumbly so unlike himself without making a single comment about her slacking off once again for only the hundredth time in the history of her employment here. The Ryou Shirogane as she remembered, was never found speechless, even when it was her single most gripping desire for him to stop speaking– that is, right after her foremost wish for Masaya's return.
Uncertain of how long he had been gaping at them, Ichigo broke the silence that had fallen between the three. "Shirogane?" She spoke quietly. If he was to yell at her now in her delicate state, she wasn't sure how she would take it, even if she was half expecting it.
But rather than replying to the redhead's hesitant voice, he immediately turned around to face the door. "Sorry to interrupt, Keiichiro." His tone was icy, though there really wasn't enough time for Ichigo to be certain that it was, since at the very next moment, her blue-eyed boss violently swung open the door and stormed out of the kitchen.
"God, what's his problem?" she muttered under her breath. But she wasn't really all that concerned, having just barely survived a break-up herself.
"Don't mind him" Keiichiro said to her though he continued to stare at the direction of the door even after Ryou left.
" —didn't think how I'd feel. I mean, it feels like my entire world has crashed into one giant mess of a garbage dump." Meanwhile, Ichigo had long stopped wondering about the strange thinking that went on in her boss's mind. She often found it a huge waste of effort to try understanding the madness that was Shirogane, gradually learning to accept that most of his actions really had no reason behind it. Trying to figure him out would only give her a bigger headache, which was the last thing she needed at this moment.
Keiichiro listened patiently to Ichigo's complaints about Masaya's faults, who seemed to have ten times as many now that they were no longer dating. Thirty minutes into the conversation, Ichigo had found that Keiichiro was not only a good listener, but was also someone trustworthy she could confide in. And the best part about her growing friendship with Keiichiro was that each conversation with him incuded free cake!
The redhead would have gladly continued her chat with him over some tea and the strawberry cheesecake that lay half-eaten in front of her, if not for the very rude and grumpy blond who once again interrupted their conversation.
Ryou's voice could be heard beyond the door. "Yo baka. that's enough slacking off for today." She heard a sigh. "I don't pay you to chat with Keiichiro over some tea and biscuits, which are already at my expense. If not for the fact that it's with Keiichiro, I wouldn't be this lenient." His voice was unusually soft and quite unlike the screaming bossy Shirogane that Ichigo knew him to be. "Now get to work before I take it out of your paycheck."
The redhead glanced at the understanding Keiichiro who only nodded in reply. "Coming!" After all, her boss's words were entirely true and he was, for the first time, actually civil about it. She quickly ran out the door, fully adorned with the fluffy red cloth and white frills of her Mew Mew waitress uniform. She barely noticed the silent Ryou on her way out.
Until of course, being the graceful feline that she was, she still somehow managed to walk straight into him.
"Ow" she muttered, rubbing her forehead as she took a step back from his sturdy chest where she had knocked her head. Honestly, would it hurt the guy to put on a few more pounds? Her head at least wouldn't have to suffer so much.
He stared down at her, expression completely blank, though this was not at all surprising to her as this was her emotionless boss. "What?" She was waiting for his typical snide remarks. Maybe he'd mention how she was such a baka that even with enhanced cat DNA, she couldn't avoid walking into something right in front of her.
Maybe not. He stood quite still, remaining completely silent.
"Look, I'm not really in the mood for this right now, so can you go away?" She placed her hands on her hips. Today was a bad day to mess with Ichigo Momomiya. Although she was feeling a little better after talking to Keiichiro, she wasn't ready to handle any of Shirogane's sarcastic remarks or worse yet, the random emergence of his other more flirty, Shirogane-gone-wild personality.
She took another step back, holding her arms against her chest protectively at the thought. But he only continued to stare straight at her, his cerulean orbs never once wandering.
"What?" she questioned again, annoyed by his unending silence as she finally dropped her arms after several minutes of awkward stillness. Ichigo caught a glimpse of his narrowed eyes as he brought his eyebrows closer together, right before the golden strands of his blond hair fell over and covered his eyes. He was thinking about something, that was for certain. That look made her uncomfortable. Could he possibly be...?
"Don't dock my pay! I'm going , I'm going." She said in sudden panic. He didn't have to be so angry about it. She had already said she was going back to work, even when she had been in the kitchen with Keiichiro.
She turned away from him, agitated by his lack of consideration for her situation despite the fact that he had no idea what was bothering her. Of course, she wasn't being too reasonable herself, but she was in such a bad mood at the moment that she didn't care. "Kick a girl when she's down" she muttered miserably, stomping back out into the cafe while Ryou continued to remain motionless with his head down behind her.