Summary: Keiichiro decides to take matters into his own hands when it comes to Ryou's love life, but it looks as if it won't be necessary when Ichigo accidentally manages to smack Ryou a little too hard... Oops! RxI one-shot. Happy birthday, Cherrie!
It was just another day at work.... Almost. Ichigo's frustrated cries could be heard all throughout the café over idle chit chat between customers, the sound of yet another plate broken by Lettuce, and Pudding's usual tricks and antics. "Listen, Shirogane, I want a raise and that's final!"
Ichigo stood inside of her boss' room, fire gleaming in her eyes, but it didn't frighten Ryou Shirogane in the slightest. Calm and icy as ever, he raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
Ichigo struggled to maintain her coolness, mimicking him and his actions. "Yes." Still, the casual flick of his mouth and his nonchalant behavior riled something within her. How can he remain so cool and collected?! "Yes, I am asking-- no, demanding-- a raise, starting as of next hour."
Ryou smirked, poking her arm with brazen confidence. "And what makes you think that you will get this raise?"
Ichigo paused, pursing her lips in anger and her cool facade dropped. Without hesitation, she exploded at him in pent up rage, "Because I'm the only one around her who actually does any work, that's why! I work my butt off her 24/7 without any slack. Mint does nothing, Lettuce only breaks plates, Pudding tries to destroy the café doing 'tricks' and Zakuro scares away half of the customers! Since I'm the only waitress doing any work, I should obviously get the highest pay! If you don't give me a raise then I'll... then I'll... then I'll quit or something! And I mean it! You're a stupid slave driver of a boss, and ooh, you're such a scrooge! I can't believe I even work for you!" Ichigo took in a deep breath and hollered, "I want a raise!"
Ryou was unaffected by her intense display of emotion. "Okay," he said simply, watching Ichigo huff and puff with amusement plain on his face, "so you want a raise."
At the single statement of a fact, Ichigo's eye twitched. She gritted her teeth together and clenched her fists, creating tiny imprints on her palms, trying not to strangle him. Images of Ryou being fed to sharks or smashed on the head with a rolling pin filled her head. Ichigo managed to choke out, "Yes," in the most civilized tone she could manage.
Ryou still maintained the same careless attitude, although he was clearly finding her inability to control herself hilarious. His smirk managed to grow even wider than before, something Ichigo doubted was even possible, and Ryou crossed his arms. "Are you sure?"
"Yes!" Ichigo screeched, standing up on her tip toes to get closer to his head, and waved a fist around in the air in his direction. "Yes, you baka!"
"Watch your tone, Strawberry, or you won't get your raise," Ryou scolded her, his tone serious and warning.
Ichigo sighed, eyes hopeful, and clutched her hands together in front of her. Her wide chocolate brown eyes sparkled in the light as she gazed up at him. "Please, Shirogane? A raise won't kill you, y'know!"
"And you say you're absolutely sure you want a raise?"
"I told you already! Yes!" Ichigo huffed furiously.
"Alright then..." Ryou said neutrally. He stared at her for a moment or two, as if he was evaluating whether or not she should get her raise, and stretched his arms lazily. Ichigo made a sound of impatience, biting her lip. Ryou looked at her for another second and then replied.
Ichigo screamed. "WUAH, SHIROGANE, YOU'RE SO MEAN! I can't believe you just did that!" She wanted to do nothing more than throw a punch at him at the moment.
Ryou grinned and tapped her nose, leaning closer towards Ichigo. "That, Strawberry, is why you don't get your raise."
He turned around swiftly, waving a hand up in the air as if to say "whatever." Ryou sat down in his chair, propping his feet up on his desk and whistled. He noticed that Ichigo still hadn't left the room. "I already told you that you're not getting a raise," he reminded her, his rebuttal an obvious snub.
"I'm not leaving until I get one," Ichigo replied determinedly. Ryou turned back around in her direction to find that Ichigo's chin was stuck out in a bold manner. Ryou snorted and rolled his eyes before he resumed looking out the window again. "Go get me a cake or something," he suggested, "I'm hungry after watching you flail your arms around dramatically."
"UGH!" Ichigo pouted, stomping her foot on the floor before leaving his room in defeat. "I'll get you one day, Shirogane, just wait and see!"
"You'll clean that mark you made on the floor stomping when you get back here," Ryou shouted after her, barely able to hold back a chuckle, "and get me some cake while you're at it... Chocolate!"
Her feet stopped tromping down the stairs. It was silent, and then... "Ugh!" Certain that no one was in hearing distance, Ryou let out a loud chuckle only to find that he was not the only one in the room.
"Keiichiro!" Ryou exclaimed. "I thought you were back in the kitchen working!"
"I was," Keiichiro told him, "until Ichigo stomped back up the stairs to find you."
"Oh," Ryou remarked casually, "so you heard all of that?"
Keiichiro nodded his head in response and then sighed. "Ryou, you really shouldn't tease her like that..."
"She doesn't deserve the raise," Ryou declared stubbornly.
Keiichiro laughed. "I'm sure that she doesn't, in your eyes. Now why won't you give poor Ichigo what she deserves?"
"I don't have time to talk about this, Keiichiro. Leave me alone."
The brunet's eyes twinkled. "It's not because... You like her, is it?"
"WHAT?!" Ryou shouted.
"Just saying, just saying..." His older friend held up his hands. "But I have noticed that denying her a raise does give you two an excuse to talk..."
Ryou laughed shakily. "Oh, Keiichiro, you've grown soft on me. Trying to hook me up now, is it? Funny. Really funny."
"Whatever you say, Ryou, whatever you say," Keiichiro said warmly; nothing could break his shields. "But I know you better than anyone else, and you clearly like Ichigo--"
"-- Whoa, slow down there. I do not like Ichigo! She's just fun to tease, that's all. She practically sets herself up."
"Oh, Ryou..." Keiichiro tsked.
"Listen," Ryou snarled angrily, "it's not a big deal to tease a girl, okay? It's just teasing!"
"You're sure about that it's not 'just teasing?'"
"Since when did you get rhetorical?" Ryou accused him. "I know it's just teasing, okay? Now leave me alone."
"Okay," Keiichiro sighed, but added, "I was just going to say that if you like her... I think your feelings might be returned." Ryou raised an eyebrow. "You two would be good together," Keiichiro mused before leaving Ryou in peace in his room, "she's exactly what you need."
Ryou rolled his eyes; he should have known that Keiichiro would go all mushy on him sooner or later. "Hey, Strawberry?" He called out languidly. "You got my chocolate cake yet?" It was quiet for a moment or two, and then he got the response he expected.
"I hate you!" Ichigo called back up to him.
Ryou grinned. "Hurry up with that cake!" But when ten minutes had passed and Ichigo (along with his cake) were nowhere in sight, Ryou got worried; it wasn't like her to not do something he asked, no matter how obnoxious the request was. "Strawberry?"
"Ichigo?" Ryou called out hesitantly.
He received no answer. Ryou pursed his lips together and walked down the stairs into the kitchen, slightly annoyed. "Has anyone seen Ichigo?"
"Oh, yes, oops, sorry!" Lettuce answered him, dropping another plate in the process. "She's serving Table Three right now. "
"Alright," Ryou replied blandly, staring at the broken shards on the floor as Lettuce skillfully wiped the remnants into the trashcan. He waited for Ichigo to walk back inside the kitchen for a few short minutes and upon seeing Ryou, Ichigo froze. She glared at him stiffly for a moment before hastening to pick up the next order. "Hey, Strawberry, where's my chocolate cake?" He asked jokingly.
Ichigo gave him an icy glare. "Your order isn't nearly as important as the customers."
"Oh really now? I'm your boss."
"What's that saying?" Ichigo retorted back. "'Customers above everything,' or something like that? You, Shirogane, are simply not on my agenda."
"I should be on your agenda; I'm your boss."
"Will you two stop flirting and get back to work already?" Mint asked disdainfully as Ryou all but choked. "Table Five needs cleaning, Ichigo."
"We're not flirting!" Ichigo snapped before turning back to Ryou. "Listen, you want your cake? You're downstairs now, you're in the kitchen. Get it yourself... I'm busy."
"I'll give you a raise if you get me that cake."
Ichigo stopped moving, the door she was exiting through halfway open. Hesitantly, she asked, "Really?"
Ryou raised an eyebrow in response. "You're seriously that stupid?"
"Ooh, you think you're so clever!" Ichigo yelled, pointing a finger at him. His smirk grew as she continued. "Just because you're the boss doesn't mean you can just boss me around like that! 'Ichigo, the windows need to be cleaned!' 'Ichigo, take the trash out!' 'No raise, Ichigo!' I don't know why I stick around here anymore, I should just quick! I--" Unable to continue, she slammed the door straight in his face.
On the his hand, to be precise. "Oops!" Ichigo remarked quietly, eyes wide in surprise.
"OW!" Ryou hollered, and the café went silent.
"Shirogane!" Ichigo exclaimed stupidly, blinking her eyes in amazement. "You're bleeding!"
"No way, Baka Strawberry!" Ryou snapped. "Way to point out the obvious! What were you trying to do? Kill me?"
She unsuccessfully tried to stifle a giggle. "Just knock a little sense in you..." Sobering up, she looked at him in concern. "Did I-- Did I just hurt you?"
"What do you think?!"
Ichigo placed her hands over her mouth. "Oh my god! I just slammed the door on your hand! Are you okay?! Is it broken?! I'm sorry, I, well... I mean, it's kind of nice seeing you in pain like that, hehe... WAIT, NO, WUAH, DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT! I'm sorry, Shirogane, I'm sorry! I, ah, I'll help you!" Biting her lip, she danced off to find first aid.
"I should dock you pay for that," he said warningly, clutching his injured hand and then groaned, "Ow..." Keiichiro looked at him expectantly. "Well?" Ryou prompted, wincing in pain.
"I'll help Ichigo," Keiichiro replied, unexplainable expression of knowing something that Ryou didn't on his face. When Ichigo and Keiichiro returned into the room, Keiichiro examined Ryou's hand for a few minutes. "You're lucky," he informed him, "there's no break. It's just a bit red and bleeding some... A bruise should develop in the next hour or two, but it'll go away sooner or later."
Ichigo shuffled over, guilty eyes cast down. "Um... is there anything I can do?"
"Yeah," Ryou barked, "stay away from me, you twit."
"Why you--" Ichigo began angrily.
"Ryou," Keiichiro warned, and he sighed.
"Okay, Strawberry, fix this cut..." Ryou said darkly, sitting on the counter expectantly.
"Okay," she replied brightly, getting out some rubbing alcohol. "Sorry about hitting you... I didn't mean to slam the door on your hand."
"I didn't! Now, um..." Ryou raise an eyebrow at their sudden closeness, shifting around, and Ichigo snapped, "Look, it's not like I want to be this close to your or anything but I have to fix this, okay?"
"Oh, yeah," Ryou remarked, tone slightly sarcastic. Ichigo gulped, aware that her cheeks must have been brilliantly red. Focus, Ichigo, she told herself, surveying the damage. The cut honestly wasn't that bad... A small, but deep, mark; nothing that would seriously damage or scar. I did that? Ichigo blinked, almost in a daze. "I really didn't mean to hit you that hard," she started.
"So you meant to hit me?" He suggested.
"No! Well, not actually hit you, I mean..."
Ryou rolled his eyes. "Whatever you say, Strawberry-- Hey, wait, what are you doing?"
Ichigo looked at him as if he was a young child. "Well, it has stopped bleeding. That cut could get infected, I need to dab at it with rubbing alcohol of course."
Ryou backed away from her slowly. "Oh, no, you don't!"
"Yes, I do!" Ichigo countered, lunging towards him in an attempt to clean the cut and pandemonium broke loose.
"Hold still, I'm trying to clean this," Ichigo hissed.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU--"
"I'M TRYING TO CLEAN THE CUT!"
"STOP MOVING AROUND!"
"I'M WARNING YOU, STAY AWAY FROM ME, STRAWBERRY!"
"I'LL DO IT MYSELF!" Ryou roared, snatching away the cotton ball.
"You two bicker like an old married couple, na no da!" Pudding giggled, her comment, thankfully, unheard.
Ryou, suddenly in a curmudgeonly mood, sent a glare in Ichigo's direction. She glared back at him, crossing her arms and sitting down with a "humph." Wincing, he cleaned the cut and walked back towards Ichigo. "Now what?"
"Now what?" Ichigo blinked. "Uh, well... Neosporin!" She exclaimed, reaching towards the tube when Ryou grabbed her hand. Ichigo looked up, frenzied.
"I've got it," he said cautiously.
Once he was done, Ichigo asked, "Do you have something to cover it? Like, some kind of band-aid or...? " Her voice trailed off.
Ryou nodded. "Third drawer on the right."
Ichigo worked in silence, blush upon her face as she moved closer toward him. "Um..." She began.
"Get as close as you need," he told her, slight smirk upon his face, "it's fine." Continuing confidently, he added, "I should dock your pay for this, y'know." Ichigo growled, smoldering. Determined to get a better reaction out of her, he began, "Maybe I should starting tomorrow or--"
"I said it was an accident, okay?" She snapped, jerking his hand.
"Sorry," she muttered, utterly aware of their closeness. Why does this kind of stuff only happen to me? "Now, hold still, I'm trying to fix this." She leaned closer towards him, and he caught a whiff of whatever perfume she was wearing. Vaguely, he noticed that it smelled good and smiled.
"Yeah?" Ichigo was deep in concentration, focused on fixing his injury.
"Thanks for patching me up." Ryou leaned closer towards her, holding a strand of her hair. She's kind of cute when she's concentrating on something. He played with the loop of hair gently and Ichigo looked down, embarrassed. She smiled weakly in response. "So you didn't try to slam the door on my hand?"
"Not on purpose," she giggled, before adding, "well, not really..."
"I really should dock your pay for doing that, you know that?" He repeated. Ichigo attempted to smack him, but Ryou grabbed her hand. The two both looked at each other, startled, when Ryou started to move closer towards her. He tucked the strand of hair behind her ear and shed a rare smile. "Thanks again!"
"Um..." She began, starting to smile too. Neither let go of the others hand. What's going on? He's not... Masaya, but his hand... feels so nice in mine...
Ichigo's thought process was interrupted when a familiar high pitched voice rang out through the air. "You two are in love so listen to Pudding and kiss already, na no da!"
"What is up with everyone today?!" Ryou bellowed, having forgotten that Pudding was in the room, and let go of Ichigo's hand with a jolt. Her hand fell limply to her side, and Ichigo shook her head in frustration. "First Keiichiro, then Mint, and now you!"
"Pudding knows best, na no da," she replied mysteriously, leaving a blushing Ichigo and furious Ryou in the room alone.
It was quiet until Ichigo spoke again. "What did you mean? When you said, um, 'first Keiichiro, then Mint, and now you?'"
Ryou rolled his eyes. "Everyone thinks that we're in love today. Yeah, I know it's ridiculous, right?" Ryou scoffed.
"That's funny," she laughed. "I wonder why."
Ryou clicked his tongue. "Don't we all."
"Well, um, you're all better!" Ichigo said brightly. "I mean, your hand might, ah, hurt for a little while but... It should be fine."
Ryou appraised her. "Thanks, Strawberry."
"You're welcome!" She beamed. "Anyway, I've got to be getting home now, my shift's over..."
He smiled gently. "I'll walk you home."
Ichigo looked up, her eyes wide. "R-really?"
"Yeah, why not?" He stretched. "Might as well." Ryou cast a look outside. "Besides it's getting pretty dark out there..."
Since when do you care...? You're so strange, Ryou. I can't figure you out. "Mmhm," Ichigo shifted from side to side, "you're right. Just let me go get my stuff..." The walk was quiet, the two content with just strolling down the sidewalk side by side.
Until Ryou asked, "Why didn't you let go of my hand?"
Ichigo froze. "I was waiting for you."
He smirked. "You were now?"
"Yes, I was!" She huffed, that indescribable shade of red returning to her cheeks. "Anyway, I'm almost home," she added flatly, and the conversation lapsed into silence once more. "See you tomorrow, Shirogane!"
Ryou stuffed his hands in his pockets; that look she gave him when she said goodbye... "Aw, hell. You know what, Ichigo?"
"What?" She asked suspiciously.
"I'll give you that raise."
"Liar!" She shrieked, hand raised to slap him.
Ryou cringed, thoughts of that afternoon dancing around in his head. "I'm not lying!"
Ichigo calmed down slightly. "You're not?" She panted.
"Sheesh, Strawberry," he teased with her, "you've wanted a raise almost the entire time you've worked at the café and now when I tell you that you get one, you don't believe me?"
"Shut up, you jerk!" Ichigo was still wary, although her expression was more gleeful this time. "You'd really give me a raise, Shirogane?"
"Yeah, Strawberry, really," he said, a rare genuine smile on his face, "starting the next day you get back to work."
Ichigo blinked, her mind processing his words, and then she pounced on him, arms around his neck tightly. Without warning, she kissed him full on the lips.
"I, uh," she stammered, untangling her arms from around his neck. "That, I... Uh, I didn't mean to, um..." Ryou stared at her and Ichigo bit her lip nervously, bright red, running a hand through her wind blown hair. "Ahahahaha, did I just do that?" She didn't give him time to respond. "No, that didn't happen, I didn't just kiss you, heheheh! Um..." Without another word Ichigo blushed, scampering away from him, and Ryou, with a smirk upon his face, turned to leave.
"Wait!" She called out after him, and Ryou turned around slowly.
Ichigo looked beautiful, her windblown red hair in a halo around her face, and her bright brown eyes fevered and frenzied as she stood by her stairs. "Thanks," Ichigo whispered, smile on her lips.
Ryou hesitated and smiled back at her. "No problem, Strawberry."
Ichigo looked after him for another moment. And then she giggled, giving him a light wave before turning away from him.
Ryou watched after her figure, frantic and flustered, scurry away up her stairs and smirked. Naturally, they'd be back at it again the next day and the day after that and... "Get some rest, Strawberry," he chuckled, looking at his injured hand as he walked away, murmuring, "You'll need it."
But not before he heard from inside: "Ooh, who was that?" "No one, Mom." "He's really cute, don'tcha think, Ichigo?" "Mom...!" "You kissed him, too--!" "YOU KISSED A BOY, ICHIGO?" "No, no, no, Dad, I mean, I--" "Are you two dating? Oh, Shin-kun, you have to see Ichigo's boyfriend, he's so cute!" "BOYFRIEND?! MY GIRL IS DATING?!" "AIEEEEE!"
Ryou smirked. Maybe he would give her a raise next week, too, while he was at it...
A/N: Happy birthday, Cherrie! :) You've successfully managed to get me to write RxI; consider it a feat. Not only that, but I enjoyed writing it very much so! And by that I mean that I seriously might ship the couple from now on. I've actually grown quite fond of them...You sneaky, uh, devil, you! Just kidding. ;)
Anyway, happy birthday. I hope it is (or was depending on when you read this XD) amazing!!