Hello all! Dang, I wrote this story practically a year ago, and now I finally got around to posting it. This was originally intended to be a RxI oneshot, but it really grew... I also tried my hand at writing with the Japanese names this time. Oh and the area of Japan I mention is actually where my brother lived for a year during his study-abroad. I used it because I was always sending letters or packages to that address. :) Anyways, hope you enjoy!
Ryou Shirogane had long harbored a secret desire to pin Ichigo against a wall and kiss her senseless. Well, he was about to finally get his wish.
It was a late Saturday afternoon, and the last few customers had trickled out the café doors, leaving five tired waitresses (well, four) to clean up in their wake. Ichigo occupied herself with scrubbing endless tables, removing them of sticky rings left by carelessly-placed china and various crumbs. Zakuro was vigorously mopping the floors, while Retasu carefully polished the windows and Purin tackled a mountain of dirty dishware. Minto, of course, was relishing a last cup of fruit tea, seated at her usual post. All in all, it was your average Saturday at Café Mew Mew. That is, until Ryou walked in.
Ichigo had unwisely chosen this moment to flop ungracefully into a chair, exhausted. Her ruby-red hair fell into her eyes as she blew out a rush of air. Jeez, my arms are killing me! At least we're almost done.
Ryou's cerulean eyes narrowed as his best employee (though he would never admit that) gave every appearance of slacking off. Ichigo closed her warm brown eyes and mopped her forehead with the back of one wrist, the cloth rag dangling from her other hand. She looked so adorable, so vulnerable, that he suddenly longed to brush the hair out of her eyes, to hold her close… he slapped himself mentally. That kind of thinking would get him nowhere. She belonged to the oh-so-perfect Masaya, and he was just her boss. Reminded of this unfortunate duty, Ryou strode over to the weary girl and mustered up his usual critical, harsh demeanor. It was what she expected of him. What everyone expected of him. If only she knew it was because of his jealously towards Masaya, his hatred of his own inability to tell her how he felt…
"Get up, baka. I don't pay you to take naps here."
Ichigo's eyes flew open, startled out of her doze. "Wha..?" She looked up to see her trim, blonde boss, mouth set in a disapproving frown and hands on his hips. Uh oh. This can't be good.
"Why, may I ask, are you sitting here daydreaming instead of doing your job?" he demanded. Ichigo reddened and leaped to her feet, nearly knocking her chair over. "That's not fair, Shirogane! I was only there for a second!"
Here we go again, thought Minto amusedly, stirring some sugar into her teacup.
"No one else is taking a break. What makes you so special?"
The redhead nearly exploded. "WHAT? How about Minto? She's been on a break ALL DAY!" she screamed, pointing at the unperturbed girl sipping her tea.
"I'm talking to you, Ichigo. Leave the other girls out of it," he rebuked her coldly. "And finish wiping those tables, or it'll reflect in your next paycheck." He turned and began to walk away.
"SHIROGANE!" Ichigo had reached her limit. She leaped in front of him, blocking his exit. "THAT DOES IT! You can't treat me this way, not when I do the most work around here!" She stabbed a forefinger into his chest. "Every single day you have to find some fault with my work, and you ignore everyone else's mistakes! What is WITH you? Are you BLIND? Or is it because you're just an egotistical, insensitive, cruel, fault-finding jerk who has nothing better to do than pick on innocent girls? I swear…"
Throughout the rant, Ryou had kept his trademark bored-yet-irritated expression, his arms crossed over his chest. But something was different this time. His vision seemed to darken, until only Ichigo was visible before him. Her angry tirade was gradually tuned out, until he no longer heard the meaning behind the words hurled at him, only her sweet voice. He noticed her vibrant hair swaying as she waved her arms, gesticulating. He took in her wide chocolate eyes, framed with dark lashes. Ryou's arms slowly unfolded and dropped to his sides, his eyes unfocused. He admired the flush of her cheeks, the dainty nose….and those lips…
He snapped. Unaware of what he was doing, Ryou seized Ichigo in mid-sentence by the shoulders, shoved her against the café wall, and proceeded to kiss her senseless.
Ichigo's mind reeled in shock. After a half-hearted attempt to struggle, she submitted weakly. His lips devoured hers roughly, his right hand cradling her jaw. His kisses were urgent and unrestrained, crushing her lips against his. Years of continually suppressed feelings for the girl were released in an instant. Ichigo's heart pounded wildly as his mouth urged hers along. His fingers dug into her hair, pulling her face as close as possible. Without realizing it, her own hand slowly found its way to his silky, golden hair to clutch a handful. Her lips began to follow his guidance, tugging, encouraging, persuading…
Ryou's thoughts were drowned out by a dull roar. He knew nothing but the sweet, sweet sensation of Ichigo's soft lips on his, her delicate hand on his cheek, her gasping breaths...
The rest of the girls had all frozen in their various stances, their work abandoned at the astonishing sight of Shirogane and Ichigo's passionate embrace. Minto's teacup was hovering halfway to her face. Retasu had turned bright red and dropped her rag, which lay forgotten on the floor. Purin, with eyes wide and mouth slightly agape, was bent over in the motion of putting a plate into the dishwasher, leaving the faucet running. Zakuro, however, was watching the whole affair with an inward smile, her arms extended in mid-stroke with the mop. About time. How long was he planning on bottling up his feelings?
Gradually, Ryou's sense began to kick in. As the realization of what he was doing surfaced, his frenzied kisses slowed. He gently released her lips, panting slightly. Ryou opened his eyes and searched Ichigo's face, trying to gauge her reaction.
Ichigo's eyes reluctantly fluttered open to behold Ryou's crystalline blue ones. There was something different about them…they no longer held that carefully guarded, hardened look. They were…warm, expressive, their barriers removed. She lowered her gaze to his shirt, her chest heaving, and found her knees too weak to support her. She clung to him, trembling.
Ryou saw that Ichigo had not yet fully taken in what had just occurred, and realized this was the moment to tell her. Before the outrage ensued. He needed to explain, to justify, his actions. He could finally, finally get it off his chest. He took a deep breath.
At that moment, Keiichiro hurried in.
"Girls! There's been an attack. The Cyniclons have just invaded Setagaya-ku. We need to leave right…"
All heads swiveled to observe Keiichiro's entrance as he paused, taking in the scene. All, that is, but Ichigo's. She turned a deep crimson and quickly removed her hands from Ryou's chest, staring pointedly at the ground. Ryou had stepped back from her swiftly, but Keiichiro was no fool.
"Ryou…" he began curiously, but the blonde cut him off as he strode over to the tall, pony-tailed chef, leaving Ichigo to stare at her toes in embarrassment. "The Cyniclons are where?"
Keiichiro shook himself mentally. Right, we're in the middle of an emergency. "The Cyniclons released several predacytes in Setagaya-ku. We need to act, and fast."
"Alright girls, everyone to the basement! We need to brief you on the threat and discuss a plan before you leave. Let's go!" Ryou barked as if everything were normal. Inwardly, his mind was in turmoil. Damn, he thought bitterly. I was finally about to tell her, too…
They all trooped down the stairs, Ryou leading the way. Keiichiro lingered behind to watch Ichigo pull herself together and follow the others determinedly, her face still flushed.
"Ichigo-san, are you-"
"I'm fine, Akasaka-san. I'm ready to kick some Cyniclon butt!" she attempted to grin confidently at him as she passed by.
That's not exactly what I meant, he thought. He shook his head. Whatever happened between Ryou and Ichigo was their business. He just hoped it wouldn't affect the teamwork…
What am I thinking? Anything has to be better than their constant bickering… Keiichiro smiled and headed down the stairs into the darkened basement. Way to go, Ryou.