Disclaimer: I do not own Magical X Miracle. It belongs to Yuzu Mizutani.
A fluff-tastic oneshot featuring Fern x Tirika. Slight Mel X Vaith, as well. I promised that I'd have another MxM story up before 2009 ended, so here it is, finally! (I also thought it'd be good to get something published on a blue moon, since they're not exactly common.)
It was most definitely not stalking.
It was just some...extensive following.
Maybe a little bit of interrogation.
That was it.
Tirika had been looking for her prey- person- for about an hour now.
She would never have expected to find him here, which is perhaps why he chose it in the first place. Not that he knew she was looking for him, of course.
The cafe was pleasantly dim against the bright glare on the spring sunlight outside. Tirika made her way in slowly, gawking in earnest at the inside of the cafe. Moody pink and regal purple cloths were stretched laboriously over the long windows that were littered around the cafe, casting a relaxed, almost mysterious atmosphere about the place. The smell of pastries, freshly brewed coffee and incense only worked to add to this air, as though Tirika had stumbled into an elaborate fortune-teller's stall.
That, maybe, she could see him liking.
It was the frilly doilies and flowers that she had more difficulty processing. Particularly as they were accompanied by white wicker chairs, tiny circular tables and other very cute things, including the waitresses, which made Tirika frown slightly.
But Tirika swept aside this befuddlement into some dusty corner at the back of her mind.
She had spotted him.
The Master Wizard's Shadow was sitting near the back of the cafe, slouched slightly in one of the white wicker chairs, a menu in his hands. He was examining it with a languid air, as though he had read it many times before and was really only checking it to have something to do.
He was older then she remembered him. The pouty, round face he possessed, as a child is gone, to be replaced with more defined features. His eyes were also less round, more narrowed. His hair was the same- startlingly red, shining dimly in the faint light.
Tirika steeled herself- she knew that he was staring at her, and she at him. So, taking a deep breath, she marched forwards and flopped herself down in the white wicker chair beside him.
Fern blinked, a slight frown on his face.
"Can I help you?"
Tirika forced herself to smile. This was the moment she had been waiting for.
"Yes, actually. You can."
A few minutes later, Tirika and Fern both had cups of coffee in front of them- Fern's with no sugar and barely any milk, Tirika's resembling more a cappuccino than a coffee. And, unsurprisingly, things were not going as smoothly as Tirika had planned. Once Fern had identified her as 'that psycho girl from the fanclub', that is.
"Why exactly have you come to me, anyway?" sighed Fern, taking a sip of his slightly orange coffee. "It's not my problem."
"You are Miss Mel's bodyguard," snapped Tirika, finding keeping her patience very difficult. "You're the one who's been keeping Mel away from the public eye since she became Master Wizard, which I doubt she'd want if left on her own."
"First off, I don't have that kind of authority to just banish Mel to the castle, that could only be authorised from Princess Seraphia." replied Fern in a bored voice. "Secondly, Mel's job is to protect Vanguard, not to play with her little fanclub. And third, don't think stalking me is somehow going to improve matters. Mel agreed to be a little bit less in the public eye, you know."
Tirika huffed, twirling one of her signature pigtails around her finger. Fern stared back at her, eyebrows raised. Tirika found herself blushing under the impassive gaze of Fern, trying to control her growing agitation. He had annoyingly green eyes. How come he was allowed to be so colourful, anyway?
"Miss Mel deserves visitors!" pouted Tirika, determined to say her point, "She can't be expected to work all the time, just because she's the Master Wizard!"
"If it was made public that Mel could just be visited whenever people wanted, who do you suppose would have to deal with her annoying, bratty fans? Me, since I'm the person who takes a hit for Mel if somebody attacks her."
"Just because you're anti-social does not mean Miss Mel has to be!" snapped Tirika, finding herself blushing a hot pink.
"What, do you have a crush on her or something?" demanded Fern, cocking his head to one side.
"No, that's not it!" shouted Tirika, slamming her palm down on the table, surprising Fern and upsetting a teacup. Tirika didn't appear to have noticed, "That's not it at all! But I don't suppose a rude, unrefined person like you would understand!"
Fern smirked, dangerously.
Tirika hesitated, but Fern's arrogant little smile was all she needed to continue.
"Miss Mel...is the person who inspired me to continue with my studies," said Tirika, forcing herself to say this calmly, slowly sinking back into her chair, "I admire her a great deal. She's the one that helped me improve, helped me realise my potential."
Tirika trailed off for a moment, a wistful look in her eyes.
"I admire her."
Fern couldn't look at her eyes, shining like that. They reminded him of someone.
Someone who didn't exist anymore.
"It sounds like you want to be Mel," he said, which he knew would sting, but it would hurt more to think otherwise.
Nobody else could be Mel, just like nobody else could really have been Sylthfarn.
But the light vanished from Tirika's eyes and she starting busily examining the frilly doilies on the tabletop. When the silence stretched out too far, however, Tirika whispered her reply to the blue and pink flowers on the table.
"It would be better then being me."
Another silence descended.
"Anyway, I thought you were the one who had a crush on Miss Mel." Added Tirika- anything to fill the unsettling silence. "Considering you're the one who follows her around everywhere and the fact you hate her talking to strangers."
To Tirika's surprise, Fern actually looked a little embarrassed.
"M-maybe I did, once." He muttered, staring at the golden tassel holding back a purple curtain nearby. "Not that it's important, but no, I don't. I follow her around because I'm her Shadow, duh? Plus you never know when a stranger might decide to attack her."
"She's going out with Vaith, anyway."
"She- she is?" squeaked Tirika, startled. "I thought they were just good friends…"
"Yeah, well." Shrugged Fern, finishing off his tea. "That's what I thought, too."
Tirika coughed, which could have been covering up a laugh. Just then, a waitress dressed in a classical maid outfit came over.
"Would you two like anything else?" she asked cheerfully, holding a pen studded with fake jewels and a notepad.
Fern jabbed at the menu.
"Two of these, please."
The waitress nodded, giving Fern a smile before disappearing. Tirika opened her mouth to protest- she hadn't brought enough money for the cakes, but Fern shook his head.
"I'll pay. This time."
"Oh…thank you." Tirika said, wrongfooted.
"Anyway, why exactly do you want to see Mel so badly?" asked Fern, scratching at his cheek. "I know you're sort of friends, but why is it so important to see her? Don't you have any other friends to hang out with or something?"
Tirika rolled her eyes- although it was a somewhat insulting thing to say, she knew that Fern hadn't meant it to be one,
"I wanted Miss Mel to come to my graduation ceremony." She confessed, feeling silly, like a child who wanted to spend time with a teenager. "For old time's sake, since she's the one who…well, who helped me improve my grades."
Fern sighed, tilting his head to the side meditatively.
"Hmm…well, if that's the case, I could talk to her, I guess. BUT. If I did, then in return, you get her annoying fans to stop begging me to pass on messages to her. Okay?"
Tirika couldn't stop a delighted smile light up her face.
The waitress reappeared with the cakes- they looked almost impossibly sweet, topped with strawberries and cream. Tirika enthusiastically dug her fork into hers, tasting it. It was delicious, melting enchantingly in her mouth. She could taste something else too- what was it? It tasted a little bit like toffee, but softer, more light.
"You could…always come along, too." Tirika found herself suddenly saying. "If you wanted, I mean."
Fern paused from the devouring of his cake, considering.
"Yeah, alright then." He said casually, as though Tirika had just offered him another biscuit.
But when Fern flicked his eyes back to Tirika, he noticed a small, silly little smile on her face. It was oddly endearing.
Afterwards, as Tirika and Fern left the café, it was still shining beautifully outside. Tirika glanced at Fern, feeling suddenly shy, although this was a different kind from how she had felt earlier when she had come in.
"Damn, what time is it?" Asked Fern, shielding his eyes against the sunlight. "I always lose track of time when I'm in there."
"Just a little past three." Replied Tirika, glancing at the large clocktower, looming over the houses around them.
"I guess I'd better get back to the castle, then." Sighed Fern, "I don't feel like getting another lecture off Yue or Glenn for being late."
"I'll walk you there, if you like." Offered Tirika, smiling slightly.
Fern cocked his head to the side, a habit Tirika had noticed he had.
"Lead the way."
Tirika and Fern set off through the winding, cobbled streets. Tirika didn't know if Mel really would manage to get to the ceremony- she knew that Mel had a lot going on recently, but now she knew someone was coming, it didn't feel so bad.
Which is why, maybe, when Mel herself glanced out of the window, she saw two figures- one with black pigtails and the other with flaming red hair, their hands carelessly entwined.
When she asked Fern about it later, he had gone a light shade of pink and promptly denied any such thing happening. But each time he came home from his weekly outings, he always seemed to smell of incense and strawberries. And, like clockwork, Mel would see, if she looked out of her window at a particular time on particular afternoons, she would see Fern and her pigtailed admirer, walking together through the cobbled streets, heading down the road and vanishing into the warm spring day.
That cafe really did make the best coffee.
Happy New Year!
Reviews would be lovely. :)