Ichigo Momomiya, age fifteen, walked into the Cafe Mew Mew, a smug grin on her face, a grin that didn't go unnoticed by one Ryou Shirogane. "What the heck are you so happy about, Ichigo? With an intellect like yours, or lack thereof, I should say I would be very depressed indeed." Ichigo laughed. "You're teasing isn't going to get me down anymore, Shirogane."
Ryou scoffed incredulously. "And, why, may I ask, is that?" Ichigo, still grinning, got on her tippy-toes and looked the catboy right in the face.
"Because I, Ichigo Momomiya, broke up with Masaya Aoyama, so you can't tease me about him anymore. HA! Ha ha ha ha!" she said, plunking his nose with each chuckle.
Keichiro dropped his batter-covered whisk, Lettuce dropped a twenty-stack of plates, Pudding fell off the ball she was rolling on, Minto did a spit take with her tea and began to cough uncontrollably, Zakuro slipped on the wet spot it left, Ryou's eyebrows went up to show his genuine surprise, and all of the customers dropped their utensils. All in unison, the inhabitants of the cafe replied, "WHY?"
Ichigo chuckled once. "There weren't any feelings left in our relationship anymore. We grew out of each other, you know?"
"But, nee-chan, you seemed to be so in love with him, na no da!"
"Well, I thought I was, but I've come to realize that I was more in love with the idea of being with a good looking popular boy than Masaya himself." The crew stared at Ichigo, confused and dumbfounded at her sudden maturity. "Oh, come on, guys, I'm not that thick! I can process a mature thought every once in a while." she said, pouting. A low mumble in the cafe rose, all protesting this statement, which earned a disgruntled huff from Ichigo. Ryou shook out of his dazed state, saying, "Okay, enough excitement. Back to work everyone." He turned to Ichigo. "And since you have no Masaya to daydream about anymore, I'll expect a lot harder work from you, Strawberry." he said, ruffling her hair harshly.
"Ugh, you're such a pain, Shirogane!"Ichigo said, straightening her hair and heading to the lockers to change. Ryou laughed. Masaya or no Masaya, he still had the inane power to tick Ichigo off. Part of him was elated that he had ever-present entertainment on his hands, but at the same time, he was saddened. If it weren't for his selfish teasing, Momomiya might see his true feelings. With Masaya in the way, it didn't matter as much, but now...
"Shirogane-san! Would you mind helping me with booth five's order? It's a bit heavy..."
"Coming!" He used to groan at her asking him to help carry orders, but after spending ungodly amounts of money replacing dishes, he took her asking as a blessing. Deftly placing the various cakes on his arms, he absently handed them to their owners and walked back into the kitchen, tired from the "work."
He pushed through the swinging doors of the kitchen only to find the catgirl enjoying her break at the bar. Leaning to her ear, he whispered, "You're in my seat, Strawberry."
Without moving, she replied, "You're in my nightmares, Shirogane." Feigning disappointment, he slumped into the stool next to her and put his chin in his hand. "No fair. You were supposed to get all angry and spazzy."
"I AM NOT A SPAZZ!" Ichigo replied, throwing her head up and putting her fist under his nose. Ryou laughed. "There you are! I was thinking you had a fever. Well, while you're celebrating your good health, I thought you might like to know that you'll be staying an extra hour after."
Trying to remain calm, Ichigo replied. "And why, may I ask, is that?"
"Three reasons. One, that's the amount of late time you have accumulated this week. Two, I love to see you fret when I tell you you have to work overtime for no pay. Last but not least, you are so amazingly incompetent that I prefer to observe you singularly so that I might collect data on this phenomena. Now, get back to work." he retorted, clunking her on the head with his fist before exiting the kitchen calmly, his hands in his pockets. "Oh yeah, well...SHUT UP!" she threw back in vain. Heaving a giant sigh, she threw herself back onto the bar and groaned before sliding back up and grabbing the next order. "What table does this go to, Akasaka-san?"
"Table nine." he said apologetically, turning from his souffle to smile at her. She smiled back weakly, wishing she could just melt into a puddle. At least she might get a nap in that way.
After her normal shift had ended, Ichigo trudged up to Ryou's room to ask him what her duties were. Not caring about the consequences, she slammed the door open, finding Ryou at his computer. "Ryou, my shift is over. What do I need to do?" Without turning around he replied, "Clean the tables, sweep, polish the chairs, and count out the register."
"Pudding already counted out." Ryou swiveled around his chair to shoot her an incredulous look. "Yeah, I'll count out..." Pivoting to leave, she stopped when she noticed that Ryou wasn't following. "Why aren't you coming?"
"Because I'm busy collecting data on chimera animals."
"Oh, no. This afternoon, you said you wanted to observe my 'incompetent' work, so you're coming down here with me, mister!"
Ryou grinned at her smugly. "And how do you expect to force me?"
One henshin and one "Ribbon Strawberry Surprise" later, Ryou was easily convinced into going downstairs and watching her work.
Ryou actually enjoyed watching the catgirl work. He loved the serious, concentrated look on her face as she labored. For once, she wasn't being the hyperactive teen she usually was, though he loved that part of her too. Ichigo took a moment to glance at Ryou, seeing his eyes watching her intently.
"What the heck are you looking at, Ryou?"
"You, of course."
She paused to stare for a second before returning to her work, a blush marring her cheeks. Ryou chuckled a bit. "Ichigo?"
The girl rolled her eyes at Ryou. "What now?"
"Why did you break up with Masaya?"
"I already told you, I-"
"I'm not stupid, Ichigo. Feelings like that don't just go away overnight."
Ichigo looked at him and sighed deeply before pulling up a chair and taking a seat. She motioned for him to do the same. "I just...I wasn't lying, Ryou. I lost feelings for him. It was slow, but it happened. I guess it started after the 'wedding'. I was all wrapped up in this fairytale that I didn't realize how very unaware we were about what we were getting into. About each other." She laughed solemnly about a memory. "For his birthday this year, I bought him a dark green wool sweater. He had to tell me that he hates dark green and he's allergic to wool. When I was sick once, he made me yellow gelatin, which is my least favorite flavor. I didn't know the guy from Adam. All I knew was he was the kendo captain, he liked the aquarium and he was handsome.
"It wasn't long before I started to notice...another guy. I felt like I could tell him anything. Like he was the sort of person I could stand waking up next to. I found myself always comparing Masaya to him. So-and-so wouldn't do this, so-and-so wouldn't do that and the like. It was like as I loved Masaya less, I loved the new guy more."
Ryou's heart sank at her happy expression as she talked about her love. "Tch. I guess he's just perfect, huh?"
She laughed. "No, not really. Most of the time he's rude, and he teases me a lot, but sometimes he opens up to me and is nice to me, you know? I love it." She looked at him pointedly.
Noticing her look but not wanting to get his hopes up, Ryou pressed further. "So...do I know this guy?" He scooted his chair closer to her.
"Pretty well." Their eyes were locked, and neither of them cared to break their gaze as Ichigo scooted closer to him.
"Is he smart?" Scoot.
"He likes to think so." Scoot.
"Does he look like me?" Scoot.
"You could be twins." Their noses were five inches apart.
"Am I going to get to meet this guy?" Ichigo smiled a bit. She put her hand on his right cheek and turned his face so he could see his reflection in the mirror. "Say hi, Ryou." He covered her hand with his and turned his face back to hers, a wide grin wrinkling his eyes. "You have no idea how long I've waited."
She giggled and grinned back. "Oh, but I do, actually."
Ryou leaned a bit closer. "Nope. I was born first remember?" He then closed the space between them, not giving her time to respond. He picked her up from her chair and set her in his lap, knotting one hand in her hair and keeping one arm around her waist. Ichigo melted into the kiss. Her brain felt like mush. All she knew was Ryou, sweet Ryou. Her heart fluttered, and she feared it would fly right out of her had her mouth been...unoccupied. She threaded her arms around his neck, pulling herself closer to him until their torsos converged. The line that separated him from her blurred.
After an eternity, yet still not long enough, Ryou pulled himself from her and surveyed her face, never getting tired of it.
"Let's never let each other go."
"Sounds like a plan, baka Strawberry."'
Ryou was less than perfect, and so was Ichigo, but they were no less than perfect for each other.
Does this seem a bit bland and campy? I kind of feel like it is. I'm probably going to write a multi-chapter for them soon.
Please tell me what you think! Criticism is welcomed and appreciated.
Your humble servant,