Confession of a Mew Mew
"Lettuce? What are you still doing here?"
It was after a particularly busy day at the Mew Mew Café. All of the girls had eagerly left to go home. All except for one, that is. A certain green haired young lady with two long braids dilly-dallied around the café long after she had changed out of her waitress uniform.
"Shi… Shirogane-san!" she exclaimed in surprise. Not so much surprised, whereas she had been expecting him, but surprised because she wasn't ready to face him, yet. "Well, I… um…" she stammered over her words and proceeded to trip over her own feet when she spun around to face him.
"Whoa, careful." Ryou caught her by the waist before she crashed down onto the floor.
Lettuce could feel her cheeks burn in embarrassment. Having his arm around her waist sent her heart into a race. She desperately held onto his arms and steadied her feet beneath her. "I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed and pulled away from his hold.
"Is everything ok?" Ryou watched her closely; it had been months since she had dropped or tripped over anything; three months since the Mew Mews had saved Tokyo.
Lettuce nodded and kept her eyes on the floor. It wasn't any good, she wasn't ready. The words that she had been reciting over and over since the others had left were lost.
It was already dark, outside. A quick glance at the clock on the wall told Ryou that it was nearly nine o'clock - an hour after the café had closed. He looked at her with curiosity; it wasn't like her to be here so late. "Shall I walk you home?"
She nodded and stifled a small gasp when he reached around her back to guide her towards the door.
Ryou watched her reaction with tender adoration. He had come to admire her; she was smart, pretty, and had a gentle heart. Though she still had her moments of shyness, she had flourished since becoming a Mew Mew and had become more self confident. He couldn't help but wonder why she was so flustered all of a sudden.
Once they were out the door, the fresh air helped Lettuce calm her nerves. She took a deep breath and stared up in awe of the night sky. "I wonder how they're doing."
"Who?" Ryou wondered before following the direction of her gaze.
"Kish, Pie, and Tart," she named off the aliens who had previously been their enemies.
It was just like her to see the good in people. She had been the first to suggest that even they had hearts and perhaps they could settle their differences by talking rather than fighting. At the time, Ryou had found her suggestion absurd, but he had come to love this peace loving nature of hers.
It was a beautiful night to take a walk, and they enjoyed it in silence until they came past a park. Lettuce felt her heart leap and knew that this was the place. The full moon light shone down on a little gazebo, illuminating it with a heavenly glow. "Can we s… stop there… for a moment?" She tried her best not to stumble over her words.
Ryou looked toward where she nodded, "Sure."
The bamboo gazebo overlooked a small koi pond with a waterfall. Lotus blossoms floated on the surface. Lettuce leaned forward against the railing and stared down, in awe, at the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water. "It's so pretty!"
Ryou came up beside her and also leaned against the side of the small structure that surrounded them. "It is," he nodded in agreement, but he wasn't looking at the same image. Her smiling face stared up at him from the dark, almost black, glass like water. Their eyes met through the reflection and she bolted upright.
Lettuce absent- mindedly fiddled with the end of one of her braids. Ryou turned his head to the side to find that her cheeks were flushed. He straightened and turned to face her. Out of concern, he reached a hand to her face. She flinched and stared at him with wide, frightened eyes. "What's wrong?" he asked and took a step towards her. Something wasn't right. He hadn't seen her act this timid since before she had saved him from drowning.
Shaking her head, she took a step back. "There's… something that I have to say…" she said meekly.
Ryou respected her need for space. "Alright, what is it?"
Lettuce regained her composure and took a deep breath before raising her eyes to meet his. "I…" she almost faltered. "I love you, Shirogane-san."
Ryou nodded, he had expected this. She was as easy to read as a book.
Prepared for rejection, Lettuce let her eyes slowly fall away from his face. "I just wanted you to know." The words came out in a rush. She was about to suggest that she could walk home on her own when his arms encased her.
"It makes me happy to know your feelings," his voice sounded husky and made her head swoon. Relief washed over her and she raised her arms to cling to him for support.
After a moment, he pulled away just enough to see her face. Her head was bowed, suddenly afraid to look up. Her solace was short lived as she realized that he had only said that he was happy. He hadn't said that he accepted her feelings or that he returned them.
"Lettuce, look at me," Ryou spoke, bringing a hand under her chin with a gentle touch, to lift it.
She lifted her eyes to meet his and forced a genuine looking smile. "It's okay, I know that you love Ichigo," she laughed. "All of us could see it. Even though you tried to hide it, it was so obvious." She went to take a step back, but he refused to let go.
"It is true that I once loved Ichigo, but she has made her choice to be with Masaya," Ryou explained.
Lettuce swallowed and had to force her next question to come out above a whisper, "But?"
Ryou shook his head. "There are no buts, I like you Lettuce. I believe that feeling could become stronger." His thoughts swam around the idea that he could love her- that he could respond to her feelings - he wanted to.
She stared at him in disbelief, unsure if she had heard him right. The hand that he held under her chin moved around to her cheek.
Her heart fluttered.
He brought his other hand up to frame her face.
Her heart began to race. "Shi… Shirogane-san?" His name on her lips caused her stomach to flip-flop – or maybe it was the way that he was looking at her.
"That's Ryou to you," he corrected and bent to touch his lips to hers.
The world around Lettuce spun, and she was glad when his arms moved around her. His lips were soft and his kiss was gentle, deepening at her own pace, when she dared to raise her arms around his neck and pull him closer.