Chapter Fourteen:

Akira blew out a breath as she turned the front lock of Good Luck Cupcakes and she dusted off her hands. She still has some things she needed to prep for the next day, but she would just have to get an early start in the morning. She grabbed a small neon green sign and taped it to the window before pulling down the shade. She had made up the sign to ensure that everyone would know that the shop wasn't going to be open the next day due to a private event.

She couldn't help but feel a little bit more panicky than normal. This was a big affair that she had never once had to prepare for. Fifteen hundred cupcakes would have to be made in about six hours and then carted to Ouran High School where the party was being held. Apparently the guest list was a lot larger than normal Hitachiin parties, and there was the idea that it was supposed to be the party of the year. Prominent families throughout the world would be in attendance, some of them close friends of the Haninozuka's. It was intimidating to say the least. She didn't want to make a fool of herself, but she was starting to think it was inevitable. Large crowds with lots of people eating her cupcakes, frankly, it was enough to induce heart palpitations. Nevermind that she wouldn't actually be the one who was running the display. No she was a guest at the party, which she supposed was nice given that she and Kimi were going to be working for a long time to bake, frost, and decorate three different cupcakes. Kimi had even been given the night off and she was going to be spending it with another culinary school buddy while their newest counter girl, Hiromi, would be serving cupcakes.

She pulled all the blinds down and smiled at her clean little shop. She wasn't entirely sure what she was going to have for dinner, but she was going to enjoy it. As much as sweets were her business, she loved the savory just as much.

She moved into the back of the shop, hung up her pink apron before she opened her small locker and pulled out her backpack that held all of the cookbooks she was looking at to come up with a nice idea for dinner with Mitsukuni. So far she had drawn a complete blank trying to come up with something that was a proper fit. She knew that if she asked him, Mitsukuni would just tell her that anything she made would be fine. She wanted to surprise him with something so she had turned to his younger brother who proved to be no help. Yasuchika also proved to be little more than a curmudgeon and Akira reminded herself never to ask him for advice again.

Akira slipped her backpack on and grunted slightly from the weight, taking a moment to adjust to and balance herself out. "Maybe I should just consider working on one book at a time," she muttered. She pulled out her cell phone as she opened the back door to the cafe. She turned to walk down the short alley after locking up the shop. Adjusting the straps of her backpack, she came out onto the busy Tokyo sidewalk and headed for her apartment. Kimi would likely have dinner already made and Akira couldn't wait to sip some hot ramen and warm tea.

The two of them were going to spend the night coming up with a plan of attack for getting the cupcakes baked and then transported to the school. Kimi had secured a delivery van for the cupcakes, but the display would have to be moved in separately. The display was a diorama of Tokyo with little firework shelves and wood characters that spelled out "Happy New Year" in Japanese, English, and Italian. The fireworks were made of a blown glass and Akira had yet to come across something so beautiful, their pulled and shaped glass imbued with glitter and twisting, whirling seams of color. The Hitachiin family had commissioned the glasswork for the display and told Kimi that she was welcome to take one of the pieces home with her for home decor.


Akira turned around and saw Mitsukuni jumping up. He was next to a limo and was hugging usa-chan tightly, giggling happily. "I came to take you home."
Akira jogged over quickly and kissed Mitsukuni on the cheek before she let out a small laugh. "You know I don't live that far, Mitsukuni." she said. She straightened Usa-chan's ears for a minute before letting them flop back into their normal place.

"We were just driving by. We don't mind," Mitsukuni said, speaking for what Akira could only assume was his chauffeur.

Akira glanced around at the busy Tokyo evening. It was nights likes this that made Akira realize how lucky she was to live in such a vibrant and youthful city. "Would you like to walk me home instead?" she asked, thinking about all of the lit up window displays that were up for the New Year. "It's such a nice night."

Mitsukuni paused for a moment as he pondered the suggestion and Akira was struck by how childish he looked in wool peacoat that was just a little too long on him and the baggy winter pants. He had a light down vest over a long sleeved thermal with little floating bunny heads. Granted, the two of them looked like a pair of middle schoolers together, but she still thought Mitsukuni's embodiment of childhood bliss was something that she found most attractive.

"Okay!" Mitsukuni grinned as he leaned into the car and told the chauffeur to meet him in front of Akira's in a fifteen minutes. He skipped back and grabbed Akira's hand, interlacing her fingers with his. "Do you have your outfit for tomorrow?"

"I do," Akira answered. "But you won't get any hints from me. I'm not going to tell you. You'll just have to wait."

"Whatever you wear, you always look so cute," Mitsukuni giggled as he swung their arms back and forth.

Akira grinned as she looked down and blushed furiously. "I'm a bit nervous about tomorrow. I always thought that I would never go to a large party like this, let alone with a date."

She thought about how she and Rae would pretend to be princesses at balls when they were children. Sora was always the prince until the two of them decided that Sora wasn't much of a romantic figure and more of a noble knight.

"It'll be a lot of fun!" Mitsukuni said. "There will be lots of people, music, food, and your cupcakes!"

Akira nodded. She had no doubt that it would be a fun affair, but she wasn't exactly sure how she was supposed to treat most of the people there. "Mitsukuni, I'm not like Rae. I haven't been to fabulous parties. I don't know how to treat all the people there. They're like royalty!"

"I don't think there are any royals on the guest list," Mitsukuni said with a giggle.

"I don't mean literally, Mitsukuni," Akira said. "I'm middle class, I don't know what your world is like, or your parties for that matter."

"They're like any other party."

Akira bit her lip and looked at the lit up display windows. She had spent a lot of time thinking about what she was going to wear to the party. Kimi finally took her shopping as the resident expert on high society for their family. Because the attire was dress casual, it wasn't too big of a deal (Kimi reminded Akira that with a little bit of flair and the right accessories even jeans and a blazer was dress casual), but there was still a proper protocol for dressing appropriately. Kimi had found her a nice dress and some flats because Akira was too wobbly in heels. Akira was looking forward to wowing Mitsukuni, but proper socialization with the upper elite of Japanese society was going to take some work.

"Just talk about what you're studying, most of the adults will stop listening. They care more about the people currently in charge than those who will inherit," Mitsukuni said suddenly. "I mean they keep an eye on us, but won't pay too much attention. If you stay with me and Takashi, you'll be okay."

Akira nodded and smiled as she felt her mind start to deviate away from hypothetical conversations with the elite. "I like your host club friends, it's just the rest of the people there. I'm just a college student who bakes cupcakes."

"But you own the store with Kimi, right?" Mitsukuni asked. "That's an amazing thing for you. You're only twenty-one and you have a thriving business model with talks of expansion. It's amazing. I love how hard you're working to make the store a success."

Akira looked at Mitsukuni. "You do?"

Mitsukuni started swinging their hands back and forth. "I do!" he answered happily. "You do all of your research for expansion. All the while you're still working on trying to be a teacher. I know your store is going to do really well and what you're talking about doing is amazing for someone our age, especially since you're starting from scratch. It's not like my family's company where I'll just take over. You started a company and you're watching it grow."

Akira pulled Mitsukuni to a stop and smiled brightly at him. "Thank you," she said. "Kimi and I wanted to make the shop successful and starting it was a little hard. I remember thinking that I would have to go to school only part time so I could run the shop longer in order to support our production and we wouldn't need to hire someone for the counter. But we made it work. It took a lot of work, but it happened."

Mitsukuni paused at a pet shop window and pointed to a small poodle puppy, smiling as Akira oohed and awwed. "I admire you." He looked up to Akira. "Akira-chan, it's cute, ne?" he asked.

Akira nodded. "I hope a loving family takes it home."

"Tama-chan has a dog named Antionette."

"I've always wanted a dog, but I'll have to wait until I've finished school," Akira said.

Mitsukuni pulled Akira along as they continued on their way to Akira's house. "Come on, we're running out of time to get you home. I have to beat my driver there."

Akira giggled. "It's always a race, isn't it?"

"It's fun."

"I won't be able to spend time with you tonight after we get to my place," Akira said. "I have to go to bed as soon as possible. I have to wake up early in order to help Kimi get the display over to Ouran before we start baking. I think that's the plan she's going to go with."
"I understand," Mitsukuni said. He kissed Akira on the cheek. "I know you have to do a lot of work before you get the night off. I just wanted to see you tonight."

Akira squeezed Mitsukuni's hand. "You're sweet. We'll have a lot of time tomorrow night."

The two walked the rest of the way in silence and Akira let her mind wander to dancing at the party, talking to Takashi and knowing he probably wouldn't answer most of the time. She thought about how Mitsukuni would be surrounded by his host club friends, the ones she had heard so many stories about and had been regaled with their own adventures overseas. She was excited, but she was quite happy that Mitsukuni would be there to make sure she didn't embarrass herself. And if Mitsukuni was busy, she wasn't completely alone. Rae and Sora would be there. Her best friends were going to be around so she likely wouldn't have to worry about anything.

As they came up to Akira's apartment building, Mitsukuni pulled her to a stop and grinned at her. "I can't wait to see you tomorrow in your cute outfit tomorrow."

"But you don't even know what I'm going to wear."

"I know it will be cute because you are." Mitsukuni kissed Akira on the nose as he looked around for his limo. "Get some sleep. It's going to be a really long night."

"Good night, Mitsukuni," Akira said giving him a hug before she kissed him on the nose. "I love you."

"I love you, too" Mitsukuni said pulling away. He skipped up to the limo as it slowed to a stop and waved to Akira before sliding into the back seat.