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| ,©,| .| FUMI |
JEAN-BAPTISTE HEVENS shaded his eyes against the glaring Japanese sun. It was summer and it was unusually hot. He glanced down at his bouquet of slightly wilted roses which he had transported all the way from an exclusive garden in France. "Oh, Yusuke," he sighed sufferingly staring down at them. He had just collected them from the airport. "Why did you leave me for that Japanese dog? But never mind," he drew his hand across his forehead wiping off the shiny sheen of sweat that had collected there. "I will try again and this time, I will be parfait (perfect). But I mustn't breathe a word of my intention. C'est simplement une visite sociale (This is simply a social call)."
EIJI KANDA shaded his eyes against the glaring Japanese sun. It was summer and unusually hot. He guessed that he had gotten too used to the French climate. Over there people were as pale as the Japanese people or at least those he had seen. He glanced down at his luggage with a sigh before resolutely picking up his suitcases. He made sure his backpack was on securely and walked forward, leaving the Narita International Airport behind in search of some form of transport. He wondered how the Master and the Geezer were doing. Hopefully they hadn't driven each other up the wall and destroyed the shop. He'd better pay them a surprise visit just in case.
CHIKAGE KOBAYAKAWA shaded his glass-protected eyes against the glaring Japanese sun. It was summer and unusually hot. "That's strange," he mused. He poked his sunglasses. "Ooh!" He stumbled back. "That's very strange. Why is it so bright? Have my glasses gone wrong? How can they have gone wrong? That doesn't make any sense." He took them off and stared at them worriedly. Suddenly an idea hit him. "I know! I'll ask Tachibana!" He put them back on and then began to speed-walk the 50 miles to the bakery.
YUSUKE ONO shaded his eyes against the glaring Japanese sun. It was summer and unusually hot. He sighed and put his glasses in their case and slipped on his sunglasses. Then running a hand through his hair, he turned and leaned casually against the red Ferrari, ignorant of the gawking high-school girls that were passing by. He wondered what was taking Tachibana so long. He glanced up at the window of the apartment. The curtains just flapped against the window pane. He sighed and cupping his hands around his mouth, yelled, "Tachibana!"
KEIICHIRO TACHIBANA shaded his eyes against the glaring Japanese sun. It was summer and unusually hot. "Tachibana!" he heard Ono yell from below. He ran to the open window and leaned out. "What?" he yelled annoyed down to him. "What's taking so long?" Ono yelled back. "I have to put on some clothes, don't I?" A collective gasp came from down. Raising an eyebrow, he scanned the area and noticed the high school girls. They had their hands over their mouth and they were blushing. Soon, they began whispering conspiratorially to each other. He slapped his head and groaned. 'Not again.'
For some reason, Ono had this thing about making high school girls think they were a "gay married couple" when they weren't. Not even close to that. He saw Ono glance back at them and then look up at him with a grin. "Don't worry, they're not in your dating range!" he yelled back with a smirk. Tachibana just slide down the wall below his window in despair.
TACHIBANA tugged on a white shirt and found the rest of his maître d'hôtel outfit and yanked that on too. He deftly tied the knot as he clambered down the stairs and emerged cool and composed into the morning sunlight but he was furious inside. He calmly walked over to Ono and said as he passed him, "I don't care if they're not in my dating range, they're girls. That's what I care about. Now get in before I lose my cool." Ono smiled cheerfully at him and looked as if he was about to disobey him for a second before conceding.
Tachibana made sure he was in and hidden from view behind the tinted windows of his Ferrari before getting in himself. He started the car and reversed out of the compound. Then making sure not to hit the girls, he drove down the lane. He stopped and let Ono out at the bakery and went to park the car.
Ono had started baking by the time he entered. He strode straight over to him and slouched at the counter beside him. He stared straight ahead at the empty bakery and outside to the street while smelling the sweet smell of whatever it was Ono was baking. A familiar long forgotten smell wafted up to his nose and he stiffened. His nightmare came rushing back and he inhaled quickly.
Ono glanced at him out of the corner of his eye.
"I'm sorry." He murmured sympathetically. "Do you still dream of it often?"
"No," Tachibana answered absently. "Rarely."
"Well, that's good."
There was a pause.
"Is there anything I can help you with?" Tachibana turned to ask.
"Uh yeah," Ono glanced around assessing which ones needed to be done and assigned Tachibana the task of decorating the cakes. He proceeded to work immediately.
The kitchen was silent except for the dinging of timers and a few whispered orders. The actual making of the pastries was so noiseless, it felt sacred. Whenever he could, Ono stole glances at Tachibana. He took in his concentrated expression, the slight crease between his eyebrows. He longed to reach out and smoothen that crease. After all, if that crease appeared too often, one day it might become permanent and mar that beautiful face.
He sighed and turned away. His feelings were rushing back as if they had never left. He remembered the tortured joy of his unrequited love for Tachibana way back in high school. He remembered the first time he realised that he loved Tachibana and then his fantasies, some of which were definitely X-rated. He blushed as a particularly realistic one involving a waiter's outfit and under-the-table and over-the-table naughtiness came into mind. He snuck a glance at the hardworking 32-year-old Tachibana in his maître d'hôtel's outfit and his blush deepened. Both the outfits were freakishly similar to each other and that wasn't helping things at all.
He took a deep breath and let it out with a whoosh. He ran his hand through his hair nervously and turned his attention back to the batter in his hands. He began to knead it slowly, trying to think of something, anything to get his mind out of the very descriptive, very realistic fantasy. Suddenly a hand landed on his shoulder and he jumped. He spun around and only his quick reflexes stopped the batter from getting swept off the counter. After making sure that it was not going to fall, he turned to face Tachibana who had just stood by and watched the whole incident without lifting a finger to help.
Ono looked up at Tachibana.
"Yes?" he asked nervously.
Tachibana dangled a photo of himself in the air. "Take this."
Ono took it and scanned it quickly. Tachibana was posing half naked and arrogantly oozing self confidence. A blush quickly spread across Ono's face and he hesitantly looked up at Tachibana. "Why are you giving me me this?"
"Figured it would help you with your problem," he answered with a pointed glance downwards.
Ono blushed even more deeply.
"You do-don't need to do this for me," he stammered. "I'm fine really. An-and besides, what makes you think it was you? It could have been anyone. Didn't I tell you that I wasn't in love with you?" Ono said trying to save face.
"Ono," he paused. "Don't insult my intelligence." Tachibana said apathetically. "I know you too well."
Ono blushed shamefaced.
KANDA stared at his hand in disbelief. He dug into his pockets again and came up empty. Frantic now, he unzipped his suitcase and began rooting about in it. "Where is it? Where is it?" He muttered as he went through his belongings. Finally he slammed shut the suitcases and zipped them up irritatedly. He cursed and plopped his self down on the suitcase. 'Great, just great. I can't find my money.' He thought exasperatedly. 'I can't believe that out of all the things to forget, I forgot my money.' He slapped the side of the suitcase he was sitting on in anger.
Suddenly he heard a familiar address being rattled off to the driver of a fancy limousine that was right outside the entrance. It was the address of the Antique Bakery. Curious, he ran to it and peered in through the open window. He saw a familiar blond head that belonged to a particular Frenchman…
"Grand Master!" He exclaimed.
"Excusez-moi? (excuse me?)" Jean-Baptiste turned to look upon this interrupting stranger. "Ah, je connais toi (Ah, I know you). Sorry." He said in Japanese, thinking that Kanda couldn't speak French. "You're Yusuke's apprentice, aren't you? What are you doing here?"
Kanda grinned triumphantly. He could hitch a ride for free to the bakery and meet the Geezer and Master and then get the Geezer to drop him off at a hotel or something and kill two birds with one stone. Actually, three birds, he thought a grin slowly spreading across his face. Master had made him promise not to hit this idiot for what he did to him but he never said anything about irritating him. Hopefully, if he was annoying enough, the Grand Master might just up and jump off a bridge. Kanda grinned evilly. That would be just perfect.
"Well I used to be. Now I've branched out. And I've just returned from France and was going to the bakery. Do you mind if I go along with you in your limo?" He asked politely in Japanese. He didn't correct Jean-Baptiste because he really wanted the free ride and annoying the guy would get him nowhere.
"No," Jean-Baptiste answered with false courtesy. He'd have liked to leave this child in the dust but this child used to Yusuke's apprentice and Yusuke wouldn't be very happy if he did that and he needed circumstances to be in his favour. And so Kanda thanked him fervently before running over to bring his bags and tried to dump them helter-skelter into the backseat through the window nearly crushing the roses.
"Hey!" Jean-Baptiste yelled angrily and whisked the precious flowers away from impending danger and onto his lap.
"Sorry, sorry!" Kanda apologised and continued trying to jam the suitcase through the window. Jean-Baptiste looked about helplessly furious before yelling to the driver. The driver got out and took the suitcase out of Kanda's hand and went around to the boot. He opened it manually and put the suitcase in while Kanda watched in amazement before running over and helping him put the other suitcases in.
Jean-Baptiste sat back and tried to calm himself down. He rubbed his hand over his face and found sweat. He pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat off with a grimace before putting it away.
"Hey~! Thanks again!" Kanda said appearing at the window saluting. Jean-Baptiste nearly jumped out of the window with shock. Kanda pretended not to notice but a sneaky smile spread across his face as he opened the door and plopped himself on the seat.
The driver had gotten in already and had started the limousine. Now it glided smoothly away, the windows slowly rolling up.
"Wait!" Kanda yelled and nearly jammed his finger trying to stop his window from rolling up. The driver stopped the limo (and the windows from rolling up) abruptly and Jean-Baptise snuck an uneasy glance at Kanda.
"What do you want?" He asked with as much politeness he could muster.
"Keep the windows open." Kanda said leaning out precariously. "I want everyone to see me go! They would think I'm a celebrity! Ah~, finally one of my dreams is coming true~ Sort of anyway." Kanda said looking back at Jean-Baptiste with a grin on his face. "I suppose you're used to driving up to places in limos but I'm not. So indulge a friend why don't you?" He looked at him expectantly.
"Sure," Jean-Baptiste said unsurely. "Go ahead. Just don't get beheaded. I don't want bloodstains on the upholstery."
"Sure thing!" Kanda flashed him another winning smile and a thumbs up. He then proceeded to hang out the window flashing bright smiles, blowing air kisses and yelling things like "Thank you, thank you Narita International Airport!"
Jean-Baptiste sunk down into his seat and covered his face with the roses. 'C'est va être un long voyage (It's going to be a long journey).'
CHIKAGE was a fast walker and he had already covered a lot of distance. He had been taking in his surroundings as he went, admiring construction work he knew he'd never be able to do when he reached an elementary school. He peered in through the gates at the name. It was a very familiar name, now what was so familiar about it? Oh yes! How could he have forgotten? It was Deko's school! He wondered if he was allowed to pop in and see her when a bell rang and doors slammed open. Children rushed out onto the playground. He walked forward and bumped into the bars of the gate.
"Ow," he muttered rubbing the sore spot.
"Chi-Chi!" He looked up.
"Deko-chan!" He yelled and trying to run forward, bumped into the bars again. "Ow~"
"Chi-Chi! Are you alright?" Deko looked worried.
He smiled at her. "I'm fine. How is Dei-Dei?"
"I'm wonderful~" Deko smiled brightly. "What are you doing here Chi-Chi?"
"Me?" Chikage looked up. "Oh, I was going to ask Kei-Kei something. Do you want to come along?"
"Sure~" Deko smiled. She walked forward into the gate this time. "Ow~" she moaned.
"Heh, Dei-Dei's so much like me isn't she?" Chikage smiled. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," she said and then walked to a corner of the gate. She pulled it aside a bit, just enough for her to squeeze through. Then she shut the gate behind her because she remembered her teacher telling her class that they shouldn't leave the gate open because of the smaller children. She turned to Chikage and caught hold of his hand. "Let's go!" she exclaimed happily, oblivious to the fact that she was now "ditching school".
Chikage smiled down at her and they went skipping along their way. Apparently, even he didn't know she was "ditching school".
TACHIBANA was dozing, his head resting on his palm. He was leaning in his usual position against the counter where he served the customers who took the pastries home. Suddenly his peace was interrupted rudely by a slapping of palms against the counter.
"Wha-" he began disoriented and nearly fell down because his supporting hand had suddenly disappeared. He slapped the counter with his other hand and tried to regain his balance. Then he remembered just where he was.
"Good morning Sir," He began false brightly. "What will you be-"
"I'm a woman, you moron," Haruka said irritatedly.
"Oh yes, I apologise profoundly." He still wasn't completely awake. "Will you be having-"
Getting fed up, she slapped him.
"Hey!" he exclaimed fully awake now. "What did you do that for?"
She just glared at him.
"Okay fine, don't answer. What do you want?" he asked her grumpily rubbing his smarting cheek.
"I want Yusuke." She stated fiercely.
"Yusuke?" He stared at her quizzically. "Who's 'Yusuke'?"
She stared him down. Then she realised he really didn't know who she was talking about. She sighed.
"Yusuke Ono, your pâtissier." She said.
"Ono? Well why didn't you just say so?" Tachibana glared at her for wasting his time. "He's in the kitchen. You may go in and talk to him or do whatever it is you want him to do but if you make a nuisance, I'm kicking you out, okay?" He poked her nose as to further state his point.
She slapped his finger away. "Got it." She glared at him once more for extra measure before entering the shop and stomping over to the kitchen.
Tachibana narrowed his eyes at her back and murmured a few choice words while he nursed his smarting finger.
"What's got her panties in a bunch?" He wondered crudely.
ONO was concentrating on decorating a particularly delicate parfait when he felt Haruka stomp in. He had gotten used to her suddenly dropping in for a conversation or for comfort and her continued presence had helped him cope with his phobia of women but didn't turn him straight. He continued to remain as gay as ever but he hadn't been the center of any fights lately so Tachibana was happy. He finished and leant back to look at it. It was a perfect parfait. He chuckled quietly at the joke. Then he turned to see what Haruka wanted.
She offered him a feeble smile and a tear ran down her cheek. Then she suddenly flung herself into his arms. This had also gotten to be a regular occurrence whenever she was sad or confused. He put his arms around her and patted her hair gently. Then he held her at arms' length and looked her over. Her make-up had run with her tears and now she looked like she was crying tar and kiwi juice. A comical sight but he held in his smile. He patted her hair again.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I-I think I'm in love." She whispered.
"Really?" He smiled. "Who's the lucky guy?" He wondered why she was crying if she was in love. But then again her love could be unrequited… and there's nothing like the angst of unrequited love.
"We work at the same station." She said evasively.
"Who is he?" he persisted.
"His name is Mr. Kawamoto." She answered shyly looking away. "He's so professional. He covers all the hottest stories." She spoke admiringly.
"Well, he seems certainly seems to be on the ball." He said. "So why are you so sad?"
"I love him!" She yelled.
Tachibana flung open the door to the kitchen. "What did I tell you?" he asked mincingly.
She stuck her tongue out at him but she lowered her voice when he left.
"And…?" he asked returning to our conversation.
"He's so out of my league! He'll never like me!"
'Ah. So unrequited love angst with a side order of low self esteem. Figures.' Ono sighed mentally. Out load he said, "You won't know unless you ask him, now won't you?"
She gasped and her hands flew through her mouth. "I couldn't!"
"You could." He said turning her around and pushing her towards the door. "What's wrong with asking?"
"I could be rejected!" she said horrified allowing herself to be pushed.
"Or you could be accepted." He countered. "Now," he stopped for a minute. "Do you want to live a happy life with him or do you want to suffer the pain of never knowing or much worse, him falling for someone else because you never told him about your feelings?" He leaned and whispered the last part emphatically.
"I want to live a happy life with him," she whispered staccato. "But that all depends on him liking me!" she turned around and flung herself into his arms crying, knocking the breath out of him. He sighed mentally before putting his arms around her and started patting her back, saying "There, there" comfortingly.
JEAN-BAPTISTE was ready to kill himself any moment now or more preferably, Kanda. In fact he would do anything, anything to get away from that psychopath. He hadn't stopped talking since he got in and he had insisted on doing the most idiotic things! When he wasn't hanging out the window being a 'celebrity', he was fiddling with the remote that controlled things in the limousine. He kept rolling the window up and down, up and down and down and up. And when he wasn't doing that, he was making the most indecent type of conversation. Really, the topics he picked to discuss! Filthy! Jean-Baptiste felt like rinsing his mouth with soap and water.
Argh, here he goes again. What is it now? What type of-? The nerve! Who dare he? Jean-Baptiste fumed silently while answering Kanda's questions in the most perfunctionary manner. He avoided looking at him. Instead he opted for gazing stonily out at a group of gunguro(?) girls clustered in front of a store. One turned and noticed him and started pointing and whispering about him to the other girls. Now, they all turned and stared at him. He glared at them and whipped around to face the front of the limo. He didn't even notice that Kanda had paused in his monologue and was grinning at him.
They had been waiting for the light to change and it did at that moment. The driver pressed down on the accelerator, almost as if he sensed Jean-Baptiste's annoyance. He let out a sigh of relief and dragged a hand down his face. Kanda watched him with a smile. He thought he'd annoyed him enough. Now, he'll just let him let back and enjoy the rest of the ride.
DEKO and Chikage skipped along happily. A few bystanders turned and stared at them. After all, a yakuza-looking middle-aged man was skipping along with a teenage looking girl. It was certainly a very suspicious sight. Normally, people would have assumed that he had less than innocent intentions in mind, but they were skipping. That made no sense to them and so they just stared at their departing backs rather uncertainly.
JEAN-BAPTISTE let out a sigh of relief when the limousine stopped. He turned and opened the door and stepped out and nearly got run over by a speeding car. He jumped back and yelled a few choice curse words in the directions of the motorist who nearly running over his new, off-white boots. Then he realised that they were in the middle of a highway at a red light. With an exasperated sigh, he sunk back into the limo and crumpled into his seat. He didn't know how much more of this he could take. He still didn't realise that Kanda had stopped talking.
Kanda just hid his grin behind his hand. This was even better than he had expected. He seemed to have driven him loony!
DEKO suddenly tripped over and fell flat on her face.
"Ow~" she moaned holding her scrapped knee.
Chikage bent to look at her knee worriedly.
"Does it hurt?" he asked.
She nodded, biting her lips, her face scrunched up in pain.
"I don't know what to do." He stared at the knee, rather concerned.
She stared back at him. Suddenly an idea struck her.
"Let's go ask Kei-Kei!" she said brightly.
"Alright!" He said and had the sense to lift her up and carry her in his arms. And off they went.
TACHIBANA had nearly drifted off to sleep again when a quiet voice spoke.
"Excuse me," it said, and a hand tapped him on his shoulder. Springing into his professional mode, he looked up and said brightly,
"Good morning Sir, how are you today?" he asked brightly on autopilot.
"I'm fine," the old man (who was Tachibana's kidnapper but he didn't know that) said looking Tachibana over carefully. "What's the special for today?"
"Oh, you must mean the season's special. We have a special parfait, 'Parfait de l'été Antique'. Would you like that?" Tachibana raised an eyebrow in askance.
"Yes, I will. I'd like-" He was interrupted by singing. He turned around. Tachibana looked past his shoulder at the people singing too and then slapped his groaned. Then they heard the smooth purr of a vehicle and a limousine pulled up in front of the shop. They both turned and looked at the limousine and when Tachibana saw who got out of the limo, he groaned again and let his head plonk down to the counter.
The old man turned around and looked impassively down at Tachibana's head.
"You certainly get interesting customers."
Tachibana groaned again.
THEY had reached. Finally. Jean-Baptiste stepped out of the car and shaded his eyes against the sun again. Kanda got out on the other side and did the same. Then they noticed the singing and turned to see who it was. Kanda burst in a huge smile and ran forward to hug Chikage and Deko. They were very surprised to see him and it was a wonder Chikage didn't let of Deko. Then Kanda noticed Deko's knees and ushered them into the bakery. He had totally forgotten about the fuming Jean-Baptiste.
Tachibana had watched them enter warily and then bent back to continue watching them after they entered. He and the old man both watched the trio as if they were a time bomb about to go off. Then their gazes snapped to Jean-Baptiste who, tired of being ignored, burst into the shop with his flowers and flashing eyes, nearly scaring the sparse customers out of their wits. He ran his hands through his hair as he was modeling before determinedly striding forward to the kitchen, as if he was a soldier going off to war. Tachibana and the old man continued watching, as did the other customers. Chikage, Deko and Kanda could care less.
Suddenly the relative peace of the shop was interrupted again, this time by a decidedly unmanly shriek. Tachibana offered the old man an apologetic smile before bowing and striding angrily over to the kitchen.
"What is going on here?" He yelled and stopped. Jean-Baptiste was on the floor, curled up like a prawn, hugging the bouquet and bawling his head off. Ono was patting a sobbing Haruka who was clinging to him while staring at Jean-Baptiste in confused concern. Tachibana stared at Jean-Baptiste. He had never seen any man cry, much less a man like Jean-Baptiste.
Kanda chose that moment to make his entrance. Tachibana's and Ono's gaze pivoted to him.
"Yo!" he said cheerfully.
"Good morning Kanda. It's good to see you again. How was your trip?" Ono asked him politely.
"Oh, it was good, good." He said. "I was such an idiot though! I didn't bring any money!" He said incredulously, slapping his thigh for emphasis. "Can you believe that?"
"Yes, I-" Tachibana began snidely but Kanda barreled on ignoring him.
"But this fellow," He bent down and slapped Jean-Baptiste on the back. He whimpered. "He saved me. I was wondering what to do when I saw him and he oh so kindly offered me a ride here!" he spread his hands out gesturing around him.
"Well that's nice." Ono said with a smile.
"I know right?" Kanda grinned. "And we totally connected on the way. We never ran out of things to say, not once."
"Oh, that's really nice." Ono said delighted. Tachibana glanced at him grumpily.
"Oi." He said and whacked Kanda upside his head. "You don't work here anymore, get out of the kitchen!" He pointed towards the door. He walked over to Jean-Baptiste and poked him with his foot. "And take this sniveling idiot with you."
"Tachibana!" Ono said reprovingly.
"Oh hey Geezer!" Kanda clapped him on his shoulder. "Didn't see you there. How are you doing? Still not married I see." He flipped over Tachibana's left hand to see. "Tsk, tsk. Soon there won't be any women left who will even want to marry you. And that's just based on physical appearance of course. You open your mouth and no one will want to marry you. No matter what age." He grinned maliciously at him.
"Why you!" Tachibana raised his hand as if to slap him. Kanda grinned and dropped into a fighting stance.
"Wanna fight? Come on, bring it!"
"Tachibana! Kanda! Stop it." Ono ordered firmly. They stopped.
"Yes Sir!" They saluted. Ono smiled at them wryly.
They glanced at each other. Tachibana offered a small smile.
"Good to see you."
"Good to see you too." Kanda said rubbing his head.
Suddenly he remembered Deko.
"Oh no! I forgot! Deko's injured!" He ran out into the shop.
"Deko-chan's injured?" Ono looked worried.
"She scrapped her knee from the looks of it. Apparently Chikage didn't know what to do so he brought her to me." Tachibana explained.
Haruka's sobs had subsided by now.
"Thank you Yusuke," she said and pulled away. Ono nearly jumped. He had forgotten that she was still in his arms.
"Yusuke?" came a incredulous whimper from Jean-Baptiste. Haruka raised an eyebrow at him.
"Oh you're welcome Haruka." He said with a smile. "And remember, if you don't ask, you'll never know for sure. Although I suggest that you make friends or get to know him first before springing your feelings on him."
"I'll keep that in mind." She said with a wee smile. "Thanks again." Then she returned and walked out of the kitchen and out of the shop, wiping off her make-up and redoing it along the way.
Tachibana noticed that the old man had come in and was sitting at one of the tables. "Hey Ono, I need a 'Parfait de l'été Antique'. Kanda!" he yelled.
Kanda pushed open the door and leaned in. "What, Geezer?"
"Ask the old man if he still wants his 'Parfait de l'été Antique' to go."
Kanda looked like he was going to refuse for a moment before conceding. "Alright." He let the door shut behind as he went to ask. Then he leant in again. "He said that he might as well have it here."
"Oh okay. First apologise to him and tell him that it's getting done."
Kanda did just that.
"He said that it wasn't a problem and that this shop's quite the entertainment."
"Oh. Okay then."
Ono had finished making it by then and handed it to Tachibana who handed it to Kanda who gave it to the man. They saw the old man raise the spoon at them as if to say that he really didn't mind before digging in. Tachibana turned to face Ono and leaned against the counter opposite him with a sigh.
"What do you want?" He asked Jean-Baptiste rudely.
"I want Yusuke Ono" came the miserable reply.
"Jean-Baptiste. I can't be with you." Ono said gently.
"Why not?" Jean-Baptiste turned a tear-stained face to him.
"I can't have a repeat of what happened last time." He said.
"I was going to promise to be a better man, anything but nothing will change you now will it? You're straight again, aren't you?" he said.
"No, I'm not." Ono said puzzled.
"But you were just hugging cette fille (that girl)!" Jean-Baptiste spat distastefully.
"Hey!" Tachibana exclaimed angrily. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Silence!" Jean-Baptiste thundered.
"Oh don't you tell me to shut up when you're spitting in my shop!" Tachibana yelled back. "Clean it up right now!"
They both looked fairly murderous.
"Stop it you two." Ono reprimanded. "It's my kitchen, I'll clean it up later."
Jean-Baptiste turned into a lamb.
"Oh no, no you musn't." he said reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a handkerchief and cleaned the floor. "You mustn't dirty your beautiful hands." He put the hanky in his pocket and reached for Ono's hands. Ono jerked them back reflexively.
"I won't harm them, I promise." He said reaching for them again. Tachibana caught hold of his hand, stopping him.
"If Ono doesn't want you touching him, I won't let you." He said grimly.
Jean-Baptiste narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth as if to make a retort when Ono stopped them with a warning:
"What did I tell you?"
They shut up.
"Thank you. To answer your question, Haruka's my friend and she'd going through difficult times right now." He shot Jean-Baptiste a warning look. He refrained from insulting Haruka. "And she needed comfort. She initiated contact and I let her because that's what friends do. I'm still gay."
Jean-Baptiste looked like he was going to burst into tears again. Of joy this time.
"But I still can't see you."
He did burst into tears. Not of joy though.
"Why?" he wailed ignoring the disgusted look Tachibana threw him.
"I found someone I love very much. Well I've actually been in love with him for a long time. Since my high school in fact." He smiled warmly at Tachibana as he said this. Tachibana just looked away with an annoyed look on his face.
"What?" Jean-Baptiste yelled. Tachibana and Ono both shot him warning looks. He subsided.
"Je ne le crois pas (I don't believe it). You're just putting me on, aren't you? Tu blagues, oui? (You're kidding right?) Dis-moi, s'il te plais! (Tell me, please!) You've never had a long time relationship. How do you know this guy is the one? Il n'est pas l'un! Je suis l'un! (He's not the one! I'm the one!) You cannot be anyone else's! You're mine. I won't let this scumbag have you! Jamais! (Never!)"
Ono smiled sadly at him.
"Je suis désolée, Jean-Baptiste (I'm sorry, Jean-Baptiste) but I don't belong to anyone except him. And I'd like you to leave now." Ono said gently.
"Tu ne peux pas être sérieusement (You can't be serious). You're not serious about this guy." Jean-Baptiste whispered pitifully.
"Oh, il est (Oh, he is)," Tachibana intervened. Ono shook his head dissuadingly at Tachibana but he ignored him. "He even marched in the Gay Pride Parade this year."
"Tu es sérieux (You're serious)." He whispered, his voice breaking.
"Oui, je suis sérieux (Yes, I'm serious)."
Then he noticed Ono's bare ring finger.
"But you're not wearing a ring."
"I can't marry him."
Jean-Baptiste looked up hopefully.
"The reasons are personal," he said. "But I can assure my love is serious. Remember I once told you that I'm a pâtissier for just the money and not the love? Well, now it's for love as well because I get to see him every day." Ono glanced sideways at Tachibana who was looking uncomfortable with the whole conversation, considering the fact that he was still straight.
"You love him?" He glared at Tachibana who just stared at the wall.
"Yes." Ono replied firmly.
Jean-Baptiste looked crushed. He slowly got up and unsteadily walked to the door. Tachibana had let him go. He looked back one last time and offered them a wry smile.
"I guess you won't be needing these then." He gestured to the flowers.
"Oh I'll accept them." Ono said brightly, reaching for them.
"Ono." Tachibana said warningly.
"What?" Ono asked him. He took the flowers. "Yellow roses are a sign of friendship. What's wrong with accepting them?"
"Oh." Tachibana subsided.
Jean-Baptiste looked horrified. He turned and ran out of the shop, banging all the doors shut behind him. Few seconds later, the limousine could be heard speeding away.
Kanda swung the door open and leaned in precariously off the door handle.
"Good job Master!" he grinned and shot him a thumbs-up. "Now he'll never come back here." After saying that he swung the door shut behind him as he went over to nuzzle Deko much to Chikage's alarm.
Tachibana looked at Ono. Ono stared back quizzically. "What did you do to Kanda? I should have kicked you out when I had the chance." He fumed.
Ono still looked puzzled. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"He's loony over you!" Tachibana yelled. Ono raised an eyebrow and he quieted down.
"And how did you get that idea?" Ono asked wryly.
"Did you hear what he said? Or have you gone deaf?" Tachibana whisper-yelled.
"Tachibana," Ono sighed. "All Kanda wanted to do was get rid of a 'pest'."
"A pest?" Tachibana asked surprised. "Well he was a pest…but then again so is he." He glared pointedly at Ono.
"Tachibana." Ono said sweetly with a dangerous glint in his eye. Tachibana shut up. "Thank you. Now follow your own orders and don't disturb me." Ono said and pushed Tachibana out of the kitchen.
"DEKO-CHAN~, tu es mignon~ (You're cute)" Kanda nuzzled Deko's neck. She giggled.
"Ooh, that tickles~" She said and nuzzled his neck. He laughed. She pulled back and smiled at me happily before she continued nuzzling him and he, her.
Chikage stood before them, glancing worriedly from one to the other. Tachibana walked past on his way to the takeout counter. "Let them be." He said absently. "Many people like to show affection in public. But if it gets hentai, kick them out."
"Kick Deko-chan out?" Chikage turned to look at Tachibana tearfully.
"No!" Tachibana turned to look irritatedly at Chikage. "Why would you want to kick-KANDA!" He yelled when what Chikage had said sank in. The customers stared at him, startled. Ono popped his head out of the kitchen.
"Tachibana!" he said shocked. Tachibana ignored him. He took a breath and smiled at the customers. "Sorry for the disturbance." He said with a bow. Then he stalked over to giggly Deko-chan and Kanda and pulled them apart by the back of their shirts. They clawed at the air trying to get back to each other. Tachibana sighed.
"Deko-chan, he's way too old. Kanda, she's way too young." Then he plopped them down on opposite chairs and stumbled to the takeout counter looking exhausted. Deko and Kanda watched him go before turning to each other.
"Hm," Deko put her finger to her lip thoughtfully. "I don't think Eiji-kun is too old for Deko," she said cutely. Kanda put a finger to his lips thoughtfully to and stared at the ceiling. Then he looked at her and grinned. "We get married!" he said cheerfully serious.
"Deko-chan~" he said, kneeling in front of her. "Do you want to be my wife?"
"Sure~" she said and he stood up and hugged her and spun her about. The room burst into cheers. Ono peeked out of the kitchen, and Tachibana around the counter to see what was happening. Then both their jaws dropped. Ono dropped his head in his hands before returning to work. Tachibana banged his head on the counter while his ex-kidnapper looked on in amusement. Chikage just stared worriedly at Deko-chan and Kanda.
"So where should Deko-chan and Eiji-kun get married?" Deko asked.
He paused for a moment.
"In Las Vegas!" he exclaimed.
"Where's that?" she asked curiously.
"It's in America! Come on, let's go!" he said and towed her while she limped as fast as she could (due to her injured leg) out of the restaurant.
Tachibana looked up from his counter.
"What drug is he on?" he asked helplessly. Then he turned to Chikage. "Follow them, don't lose sight of them, don't let them get married, bring them back to my apartment." Chikage saluted and left to do exactly that. Tachibana watched him go with a sigh before walking over to Kanda's luggage and moving to the side before taking up his place at the counter. Then a customer came along and as if someone had pressed his reset button, he broke into a smile.
"Welcome to the Antique Bakery. May I interest you in season's special, the 'Parfait de l'été Antique'?"