This goes out to Raynieday who requested an unusual pairing in Yakitate Japan

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own Yakitate Japan, if I did, it'll be like I ate Japan #44 and gone to heaven

He's been staring at her for five minutes now. God, doesn't he ever get tired of looking at her? It was a bit unnerving, actually. It was not that he was staring at her that she was annoyed, she's used to the attention, in fact, she rather enjoy it when people do a double-take when she pass by. It was the way he was looking at her that was unnerving. It was different from her usual admirers. He didn't look like he was having any malicious thoughts toward her, nor does he have that puppy love/slavish look that some guys get when they look at her.

No, his was different. Like he was focusing solely on her. Just her. And he was doing it quite shamelessly in fact, since they were on a restaurant. Because of that, she couldn't help but feel conscious with her actions, with her gestures; she can't even eat properly for chrissakes! Every few minutes, she'll glance at him to see if he was still looking, and his smile would widen a bit every time their eyes met.

Maybe it was his eyes, those strange violet eyes that just seem to capture her. Or maybe it was his smile, that mysterious smile that hides everything. You can never know what he's thinking. Whatever it is, it made her stand up and approach him.

"What are you looking at?" she asked, not bothering to keep the irritation out of her voice. The other restaurant patrons turn to look at them, but she didn't care.

Shigeru's smile widened and he asked innocently, "What?" as if he had not just been staring at her for the past fifteen minutes.

"I said, what are you looking at? Are you picking a fight with me?" the youngest Azusagawa asked again. He noticed that she had stomped her feet this time, a childhood habit she couldn't get rid of. A habit he finds rather cute.

"No, no, no," he said, shaking his head. "I was just…thinking." He said after some thought. He was right not to approach her directly, let her come to him. He smiled to himself.

Again, that smile. It made Mizuno feel like she was missing something. This annoyed her even more. What was he doing? Playing with her? He may be cute, okay, gorgeous, but that doesn't mean he can just do whatever he wants with her. There's no way she'll let that pass.

"Wanna go out?" Shigure asked her suddenly before she could think up of a retort.

"What?" it was her turn to ask, surprised. What did he say? Did he just ask her out? Like, out?

Too noisy, he mouthed and put his hand in her ears like he couldn't quite hear her. It was pretty ridiculous to her since they were hearing each other just fine until then, but whatever.

"Ah, s-sure," she said, a small blush coloring her cheeks. What was she thinking? Did she honestly think he was asking her for a date? Well, yeah, a girl can dream, you know.

Shigeru stood up from his table, leaving a wad of bills. They passed by her table and he did the same. Then, he held her hand and pulled her outside. She noticed that his hands were warm, and remembered that it was only natural; he's got solar hands after all.

Outside the restaurant, Shigeru let go of her hand to reach for his phone. Its light was blinking, and he pressed a button to turn it off. The moment his hand left hers, she felt…empty. She played with a stray pink lock to have

something to do, her eyes never leaving him. He's got to be planning something. His attitude, his actions, everything about him seems suspicious to her suddenly.

Sure enough, he was looking around inconspicuously now as if checking if anyone was looking at them. He motioned for her to come closer so that he could whisper in her ear. This must be big news, something about Pantasia? About Tsukino-neesan? About Kazu-kun?


Huh? For a moment there, she thought she heard him say something but of course, she must've have heard wrong. There's no way he'll say that right? It must be his voice, or his breath, both of which can be extremely distracting.

Shigeru leaned back and a slow sexy smile graced his lips. Mizuno stood there dumbstruck. He looked around again before leaning closer once more. This time to give her a kiss on the cheek.

"You're cute," he said, repeating what he told her earlier. So she was not mistaken after all, but still...

Shigeru gave her hand a final squeeze before turning back and casually walking away, leaving Mizuno standing there, with a very warm hand and a burning cheek.

In the Pantasia Southern Tokyo Branch, Manager Ken was doing a celebratory dance while Tsukino sat deflated on her chair. She had just lost a bet with the baker. A week ago, Manager Ken had unwittingly said that given Shigeru's looks and talent, the young baker can probably get any girl he wants, except, of course, Tsukino. And Tsukino bet that she could think of at least one girl who would not fall for the genius bread artisan, that is, her tough little sister Mizuno. But who knew? Who knew that even her sister would fall for the Harvard Junior Genius? But she had distinctly heard it, just now.

"Wanna go out?" she heard Shigeru's voice once more as Manager Ken replayed the recorder.

"What?" her sister asked, then silence. "Ah, s-sure," she would have been suspicious if she had not heard that tone. That tone of embarrassment, a shy girl's embarrassment of being asked out. (She used to sound just like that in her highschool days) It was proof enough for her that Shigeru must've really attracted her sister for her to easily say yes. At least, she console herself, Shigure didn't used one-liner pick-up lines on Mizuno.

Oh well, Shigeru was good-looking, talented not to mention, extremely smart. Maybe he'll be good for Mizuno. And maybe, just maybe… (Manager Ken can't help smiling as he saw Tsukino trying to look discreetly over her shoulder to see Kazuma) maybe it'll increase her chances to another genius baker. That's one less rival after all. Who knows?

"Good work," Manager Ken told him when he arrived at the bakery. Shigeru sighed and received the yeast that was his reward. Now, he can start with his experiment. He felt bad, being used like this. Even more for Mizuno, who had unknowingly become a victim of Manager Ken's manipulation, all for one karaoke night. He had not even told them that he kissed her. It just seemed like the natural thing to do at the time. He had not expected Tsukino's little sister to look that cute (she's even prettier than Tsukino now) or smell that good… (blueberries)

Shigeru smiled to himself. If, he thought as he set out to do his experiment, and only if, he finishes early in his work tonight. Maybe, just maybe, he'll give her a call.

He was free this Saturday after all.

This was the best I could do to make the pairing work. Hope it did. Reviews and comments are much appreciated as always...