An Angel's Cake
Ono's fragile face once carefully observed really seems to resemble an angel. His misty eyes bear the innocence of a child, as well as his cherry, tender lips. And he moves delicately as if each motion requires tremendous precision and that one single misstep would destroy the perfection of the masterpiece he is working on. He reminded him of an angel's feather slowly making its way to the ground.
"Tachibana, could you please hand me that pan? Be careful it's hot."
Never did he regard his patisserie as a person capable of beholding such innocence. Come to think of it, he never did examine him, at least not in this way. It was only after Eiji and Chikage momentarily left; the foremost to study in Paris under John Baptiste's supervision and the latter to fasten loose strings with his wife and daughter, that he was able to spend time with Ono. He initially hated it, despised the idea, but soon accepted the truth and saw what John Baptiste saw. That Ono is a really great person whom you can easily like and perhaps love.
"Tachibana, are you ok?"
He moved his eye away from Ono's inquiring face. He nodded hesitantly to remove any apprehensions and faced the oven, carefully pulling out the pan. He can't seem to look him straight in the eye nowadays, afraid that Ono might sense his disconcertments.
He was handing the pan to Ono when their hands came in contact. He was caught off guard and a sudden bolt of electricity ran through him which made him awkwardly withdraw his hands. Ono, in pursuit of saving what was supposed to be the base of his Angel's Cake, tried to catch it without realizing that it's still hot scalding his hand on the process.
Just as he was about to check on Ono, Eiji who was serving a customer at that time, come rushing through the kitchen.
"Master, are you ok?" Eiji was blowing the scalded finger. Their face too close that they're about to kiss. A familiar feeling suddenly came to him.
It was the day after he learnt he was abducted. He was playing with Alfred, his teddy bear and only confidante, when he overheard glottal sobs from below. He saw two kids who he presumed were siblings. The sounds he heard came from the younger one who was sitting on the ground holding his wounded knee while the older brother was blowing the wound at the same time consoling him.
He then wondered, at that moment, how it would feel if he can cry his heart out to someone who could console him the way the older kid did. But he can never do that, can he? Not to his family not even to Chikage. Years has passed, and he realized that nothing has changed. He's still the same Tachibana. The kid who has nothing but Alfred.
The kitchen doors burst open which made them all suddenly look on that direction.
"Young Master, are you alright?" Chikage came dashing to his way, devastatingly bumping everything that he can, and eventually landed on one of his foot.
The pain made him gasp for air and made him almost curse Chikage. He was torn between soothing his foot and removing Chikage's insistent hands from his body.
"Hey Old Guy! Were you the one who caused this to Master Ono?" Eiji asked after noticing the gloves that Tachibana's wearing. He was still holding Ono's hands. "You could at least say sorry."
His gaze went from Eiji to their adjoined hands to Ono and back to their adjoined hands. He was supposed to say something but chose not to and headed to the backdoor of the shop instead.
"What's wrong with him? So he hasn't changed a bit huh. Master should have suffered while I was away, having to put up with that arrogant elderly," Eiji muttered while putting cold ice on Ono's hands.
Ono stared blankly on what was left of the base.
He was startled by Ono holding a lighter. He was totally absorbed of desperately making his useless lighter work that he didn't notice Ono's presence. He directed the tip of the cigarette to the fire. And with so much gladness threw away the lighter. He puffed and blew up a series of circle shaped smoke.
"They haven't changed a bit, right? Chikage and Eiji. I kind of missed them."
They were both facing the street watching as people and cars pass by. He moved his eyes to Ono, slowly, so that he can easily revert just in case he was looking his way. But he was not. He was smiling and was looking far away. He seemed to be reminiscing the times back when the four of them crowded the kitchen of Antique.
Once again, he had the chance of examining him. He remembered when Ono unconsciously said to him that he likes him best when he is smiling. How many times did Ono's smile saved him? And warmth his cold heart.
"You know, I thought I can change it. Your goal of finding your abductor," he glanced and his eyes met his. "I thought that if I can just work harder on baking my cakes and perfect them the way you probably wanted them to be, I can make you eat them… maybe even love them, then you would forget everything that has happened. Guess I was wrong."
Ono's hopeless voice was full of bitterness. He seemed to have run a very distance and was exhausted. He moved his glance away from Tachibana back to the street full of people rushing to their destinations.
Suddenly the sound of the people's chatter and the noise from the honking cars seemed to be so distant. And the silence that has fallen between them has grown uncomfortable but neither of them was ready to break it. As per Tachibana, he didn't know what or how to respond, for he didn't know what to make of it. Is it possible that Ono stayed with him not just because of the job and the money? He could have gone with John Baptiste but he stayed, by his side.
The events of the past visited his mind again. The part where Ono was professing his feelings for him:
"…I am so disgusted I am about to puke. Why don't you just go and kill yourself!"
The words resounded in his head. Should he have reacted differently during that time, would Ono have stayed by him until now? Or would he end up like all the girls he encountered in the past that have left him?
Ono suddenly stood up. He released a sigh. As he was about to leave he said: "That Angel's Cake I was working on was for your birthday."
He stood up and motioned to stop Tachibana on his way back to the kitchen but his hands froze midway. Ono, who seemed to have sensed what he was trying to do, halted. They stayed on that condition, suspended, while everything around them moved orchestrally. Tachibana, with his hand still about to touch Ono's back, could have easily stopped him. But he just couldn't.
In the end, he withdrew his hand and stared at the ground.
"How could you give up that easily Ono?" he muttered unconsciously.
Ono turned his head back.
"Who said anything about giving up?" And threw a sweet smile before going inside.
Tachibana threw the half consumed cigarette to the ground and crushed it with his feet. 'Seems Alfred can finally have his vacation' he thought as he followed Ono inside.