Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon or any of the characters in it.
"Hello, Hayden!" her always cheerful- which could be annoying- voice sang the second she walked in. As usual the clock had just struck six o' clock, so she was here just when the bar opened. How did she time this? Did she just wait outside the Inn, waiting for it to open? I would have to check out the window one day or the question could haunt me for a while.
"Hello Miss Akari," Hayden grinned. He was rough with me and other people he didn't know too well, but her? He treated her like he treated his daughter. I would have to ask her how she got to know him so well, or that one would haunt me as well.
She never really talks to me during her entire shift, so she greets everyone else but me. "Hey Kathy!" she waves energetically at the blonde, and then pulls Maya into a hug. "Hey, Maya! Hi Colleen, Jake!" Everyone she says hi to gets this big grin on their face as if Akari is someone so special. I don't quite understand what it is that makes her so charming- I'd have to find that out too.
Then, she continues the routine she'd undergone ever since I had moved here. Maybe she had done it even longer? I would have to ask about that as well.
She walked back up to Hayden, pulling out 180G and saying, "I'd like to get a blueberry cocktail," even though Hayden had already made it for her and had it set aside. We all knew what Akari bought every single day- even Hamilton knew, and he was only in here occasionally.
But why? Why did she buy a blueberry cocktail every single day? I didn't peg her as someone who drank. Quite frankly, when her name came to mind, I thought of her as Little Miss Perfect. She was the rancher, the new girl before me, the one who had won the animal festivals with her beloved sheep Lucky, the one who had befriended the previously vicious white cat that waited outside at night and now brought her along on walks. She was the angel of Waffle Island if there ever was one- I had even heard rumors she'd been working to restore the Harvest Goddess tree.
So who were the blueberry cocktails for? She was buying one every single day- two on Saturdays, as we were closed on Sundays- so she must be giving one away every single day. Giving one away too…well, I didn't know many townspeople that enjoyed them.
Well, Hayden and Jake did, but she didn't give the cocktails to them. They worked here, so I would've seen her give one to them one day. Kathy did, too, but obviously I would've seen that too, and I doubted Akari would just buy Kathy a present right in front of her and then give it to her later.
Who else liked them? Well, Dale did. I had a hard time imagining Akari carting off cocktails to gruff Dale. He was too…rude. I doubted she would spend all of that money on him every single day. Selena liked blueberry cocktails as well, but her and Akari didn't go along too well, and Selena spent most of her time dancing half naked in the hallways anyways.
Toby liked blueberry cocktails. What if she was taking them to him every single day? What if she was courting that lazy fisherman? I pictured them in my mind, and then a ray of hope burst through the image- Akari didn't like fish. She said the smell got to her. Last time I cooked fish in the bar was the last time she had talked to me while I was working, actually, saying sorry when she walked by plugging her nose.
"Well, just get behind the counter and help dry some of the dishes Kathy just cleaned for Chase," Hayden gestured towards me, and I tried to move closer to the counter, knowing that Akari was slightly accident prone.
"Oh, sorry Chase!" she managed to screech out as she slipped on a bit of water that was on the floor behind me and came crashing into my back. I grimaced as my stomach slammed against the rough edge of the counter top, but then I turned to see her big brown eyes and I couldn't bring myself to get angry at them.
"Hey, at least I wasn't holding a knife," I shrugged, gesturing to the large one next to me as she laughed slightly, picking up a towel hanging just a little bit past me and standing next to me, drying a cup I had just washed myself after taking a drink of some orange juice I always had at the side when I was cooking.
She stayed quiet as usual, though she rarely ever worked beside me. Usually she helped Kathy dry while the blonde stood between us, scrubbing my dishes and chattering to Akari about the latest news in town. I had learned a lot about Akari from just listening to those talks. I knew she had moved from the city, where she was sick of doing the same thing day in and day out, that she had only ever had two boyfriends, that her favorite color was orange and that her favorite foods were also oranges, which was surprisingly a favorite of mine. I also learned that she visited her family on some festival days where she didn't have dates or friends to spend the time with, and that she spent a lot of her time at Ganache Mine District.
Ganache Mine District. She went there every day early in the morning and came back, according to what she told Kathy, a couple of hours before she started to work here. Owen and Luke both lived down there, Owen spending most of his times at the mines and Luke spending most of his time at the Praline Woods which were only a short walk away. Both of them liked blueberry cocktails.
Owen was attractive, according to Kathy. She always joked around with Akari about his 'muscles' and 'gorgeous eyes,' and Akari had always just grinned, shrugging instead of agreeing or disagreeing. What if she agreed, and went down every single day to pass off a blueberry cocktail to him and then spend most of her time down there with him?
Akari was good friends with Luke, though. Kathy always joked around about how Akari had once gone to a Firefly Festival with him as 'just friends.' He once stopped by at the bar just looking for her, actually, with an axe she had left at the Praline Woods, but I had never really thought about it.
That's it! Akari was buying a blueberry cocktail every single day for Luke and heading down to Ganache Mine District the next morning to pass it off to him.
"Akari," I blurted out suddenly, and she stared up at me, shocked. When was the last time I had talked to her? Well, that explained why she never talked to me when we were in here, at least.
But what about all of the other unanswered questions? Akari always left me curious, for whatever reason. Not that I cared, of course. I could care less if she gave all her money away to Luke just to keep him happy. I didn't care if we liked the same food. I didn't care if for a moment my body had felt warm when she had fallen on me, and now it felt bizarrely cold.
"How's the ranch?" I asked stupidly, putting a little too much salt into the dish I was working on. Oh well, I thought to myself. It's not like anyone is here this late for food, anyways. Besides, for whatever reason, I cared a bit more about Akari- but not a lot!- than I did about cooking.
However, in saying I cared about Akari more than food, did I care about her a lot? Cooking was my life. It was the only thing I was good at, and it was what I did for a living. So if I cared about Akari more than my so called life…how much did I really care just about how her ranch was doing and whether or not she gave cocktails to Luke and how did she get Hayden to treat her so nicely and how did she get in the second we opened?
"It's good. I bought myself a cow, actually!" her whole face brightened up. Of course she got a cow, I chuckled to my dish. She loved taking care of animals. It was part of her whole Little Miss Perfect image, anyways.
I nodded, not too sure what to say to that. Even if I said something general like, "That's nice," it would come out rude or sarcastic. Lucky for me, I didn't really need to say anything, because Akari kept on talking. "Do you like milk, Chase?"
I could really care less about milk. It tasted alright, but I didn't drink much of it at all, and usually just used it to make fruit lattes or other recipes. But, when I looked at Akari and her smiling face, I found myself nodding, saying, "Yeah, 'course," as if you could just look at me and say, "Milk lover!"
She beamed. "Good! I thought you might." Then again, maybe you can. "I saved a bottle for you, but I wasn't sure if I would give it to you or not…I mean…we don't usually…" she trailed off, blushing as she pulled a small bottle from her rucksack. "Well, here you go!"
So, she had milked her cow thinking of me? No, scratch that. She had put that milk bottle into her rucksack thinking of me? I found that strangely…endearing. If not a little weird. "Thanks, Akari," I said, not looking at her, just staring down at my food as if cooking demanded every little inch of my attention.
"Well, sorry to…distract you," she shrugged a bit as she finished drying, walking towards Hayden, who was talking to Jake on the other side of the room, to get her next assignment. I cursed myself, sighing as I dumped way too much salt in.
At the end of the day, both of us walked out of the bar at the same time, bumping into each other inside the doorway so that we both stumbled over the doorstep and into the street. I closed the door, grinning at the faint sounds of her laughter. I couldn't see her too well in the dark, but I knew where she was standing, watching me, and went to stand next to her.
I wasn't too sure what to say, so both of us stood there awkwardly, watching the dark figures of each other. She must've been closing her eyes, because suddenly her big brown eyes stared at me, looking straight up and giving me her full attention. I was glad she couldn't see me, because I was blushing.
"Akari…can I ask you a question?" I had been listening to her steady breathing, but then, suddenly, it stopped. She nodded, and then muttered, "Yes," to make sure I had gotten that, since it was so dark.
"Who do you get those blueberry cocktails every day for?" I asked quietly, sure my cheeks were red. I do not care, I do not care, I told myself over and over again, but I couldn't keep denying it. There was something about Akari- something all of the other girls in town didn't have. Something that made me pay extra attention to everything she said.
She giggled a bit, an overly girly noise considering she was dressed in her dirt clogged ranching outfit. "Promise not to tell anything?" she asked, her breathing starting normally again, holding up her hand. I stared at her weirdly, one eyebrow raised, and her brown eyes rolled- she actually rolled her eyes?- and then reached down and held up my hand, linking her pinkie finger with mine.
I had to laugh at that, and at the image of the goody two shoes farmer rolling her eyes at me, and didn't object as she 'shook pinkies' and then let my hand fall back to my side. It felt oddly limp without a smaller one holding it up.
"You know Irene, Jin's grandmother, who works in the hospital?" I nodded slowly, remembering meeting the woman once or twice when I stopped by the hospital to run an errand for Yolanda. Akari continued, saying, "Well, you know how Irene and Jin are against alcoholic drinks?"
I nodded again. I definitely knew. Jin was always talking to Jake about how it hurts your health to allow people to drink the way they sometimes did at the bar. "Well, she has one cocktail each night, so every morning I head into the hospital and drop one off for her so she can have it before she goes to sleep that night. She doesn't want Jake or Colleen to know, so she asked me to buy them for her so they don't find out."
My jaw fell open in awe of my sheer stupidity as I stared at her, blinking once and then just staring. I was...okay, I'll say it. I was jealous of Jin's grandmother? I spent the past six hours racking my brain about who she got blueberry cocktails for, and she was giving them to Irene? To say I felt stupid was a major understatement.
"What did you think I did with them all?" she asked, laughing. She was laughing at me- and I didn't blame her.
"Well…Kathy said the other day that you spent a lot of time at Ganache Mine District, and I thought…" I ran a hand through my peach colored hair. I had told her this much already, and I couldn't just stop now. "I thought that maybe you gave them all to Luke, or something." Why do I have to be so stupid sometimes?
Another one of those girly giggles escaped her, and if I didn't sound like such an idiot already I would have snapped at her, but I just kept my mouth shut, flushed bright red by now. I willed the street lamps to stay off so she wouldn't see me.
"Why would I give any cocktails to Luke? He's already so bizarrely hyper- he'd be downright freaky if he got any alcohol in him," she kept on laughing, shaking her head. I rolled my eyes at her.
"Okay, I get it. I'm an idiot," I muttered, brushing past her as I headed down the pathway. Sure, Akari is cute, and she's interesting, funny, smart, determined- but there's only so much of that laughter you can take. I was halfway between the bar and Maple Lake District when she caught my wrist- surprisingly firmly- with her clenched hand.
I spun slowly around on my heel, meeting her eyes instantly. Akari had that quality about her- if you looked at her, it was like her eyes would snap right to you. When you walked in a room, the second you looked up you just met her eyes. It was like a magnet, really. You just looked at her, and she just looked at you.
"Would you feel better if I started to give you milk every day?" she asked, her lips stretched into what would resemble a smirk if she wasn't so innocent. Her face was so pale I could see the pink tinting her cheeks, and then the street lights came on, lighting up her whole blushing face.
"Maybe," I muttered, giving an involuntary smile as she started laughing again, letting go of my hand.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Chase," she yawned and then waved, her fingers brushing my face for just a second before she began heading off to the path that led to her ranch. I heard the distant sound of her cattle being rung in by her bell, and then the sound of her door open, and close.
I didn't like milk much, but I had a feeling I would start having a lot more of it.
Author's Note: Hmm, I don't like the ending too much. :( But I hope the rest of you like it! :) I got the idea because I actually did go to the bar every night to buy blueberry cocktails for Luke haha, and I was talking to my friend about what if the people who worked there could like think, haha, and what they would think about it, and I decided to turn it into a ChasexAkari fic. I don't really know how I came up with the idea about Irene- I was looking at a list of people who liked blueberry cocktails and it just came to me. Well, I hope you all enjoyed, thanks for reading! :)