Me: Hi there, everyone! I just felt like publishing something to relieve Writer's Block. 'A Marie Christmas: Official Holiday Soundtrack' is officially on hiatus until December, and 'Worst Day Ever?' has me stuck. So yeah...
Ichigo: Hana-chan hopes that you all will enjoy this two-shot!
Me: I'm counting on this one being either a two-shot or multi-chap. It depends on the stretch of my creativity. :P Oh, and I wrote this on impulse! Technology sometimes ruins my life, and I just felt like stressing it in this fanfic!
Vanilla: Hana-chan doesn't own YumePâti!
Me: Oh yeah... Please bear with the longness of this chapter! I just HAD to squeeze the Kashigo parts in, not to mention Ichigo's developing thoughts and emotions... xP There are a lot of thinking parts in this story. Anyway, please read the whole thing! :)
Chapter 1: Wavering Feelings
I just have this feeling - this feeling of insecurity. What's going on with my mind? I have no idea. I just feel...different. But why?
Amano Ichigo sighed heavily as she walked to Salon de Marie for her daily morning pig-out. She would have normally gone with Rumi-san; but her roommate was currently off-campus, visiting her family in Osaka.
"Gosh, it's so boring to come here alone..." Ichigo muttered to herself as she walked through the cafe's doors.
"Hey, don't forget that I'm with you!" Vanilla reminded her partner irritably.
"S-sorry, Vanilla..." Ichigo apologized. She sat at an empty table.
A waitress came up to her. She had been hired just recently. "Would you like to see the menu, miss?"
"Oh, there's no need for that, thank you." Ichigo replied politely.
"Ah, may I take your order, then?" The lady took out a pad and pencil.
"I'd like one of everything that this restaurant offers, please." Ichigo smiled sweetly.
"...Uh...um...yes! Yes, of course! I'll tell them to prepare the food at once!" The waitress stared at Ichigo in shock before rushing towards the kitchen. Apparently, she didn't know about Amano Ichigo's appetite since she was a new worker.
After a few minutes, the dishes were being placed before the brunette, one-by-one. "Yum! Itadakimasu!" She began her sweets frenzy. Vanilla accompanied her in smaller bites.
"It's really nice to eat all these sweets, but it's pretty depressing to not share with someone else..." Ichigo glumly set her fork down after the twentieth cake. "I sure wish Rumi-san was here..."
"Cheer up, Ichigo! Look who's there!" Vanilla pointed towards the door.
"Hm?" Ichigo looked up to see a familiar guy walking through the doors of Salon de Marie. "K-Kashino?" Ichigo choked on her tart in surprise. Her muscles grew tense. Ah, this wavering feeling is back - it's been surging through me every day...
The blond noticed Ichigo's remark and immediately walked towards her. He glanced at the mound of sweets. "Oi, Amano! What are you doing? Wasting your money like that..."
"Why are you here? You never come alone..." Ichigo retorted. "Hey, where are Andou-kun and Hanabusa-kun?" Strange, just the sight of him makes me nervous nowadays.
"They went to the kitchen early," Kashino replied. He slowly slid into the seat across from Ichigo's.
"Wh-what are you doing? Don't you have other things to do?" Ichigo gazed at Kashino quizzically. Why is my body feeling so jittery as soon as he sits down?
"...It can all wait," he said quietly.
Why is he being so hushed? He's acting a bit weirdly today... Ichigo went back to eating her treats.
Chocolat and Vanilla looked at each other with sinister grins plastered on their little faces. "We'll leave you two here for now..." The two Sweets Spirits snickered and flew off somewhere.
"Vanilla!" Ichigo whined, but to no avail. Kashino licked his lips, uneasy.
For a minute or two, there was pure silence between them. The atmosphere felt a bit tense, and Ichigo grew nervous as Kashino stared at her while she ate.
"What?" she suddenly exclaimed.
"Continue." Kashino gestured for her to keep eating.
"But why? You're just staring at me as I'm chomping cakes down! Why are you not doing anything?"
"...I...like watching you eat..." Kashino confessed. "Seeing you so engrossed in sweets makes me happy, I guess."
"H-happy?" A weird wobbly emotion erupted within the female's torso. Why did his comment make me feel so good?
"Yeah. It's hard to explain, so never mind." I said too much without even knowing! Kashino quickly changed the subject. "N-nice weather we're having, aren't we?" He looked out the window.
"Mm-hm," Ichigo murmured. How come my leg is starting to twitch by itself? It's so strange since it didn't start shaking until Kashino came...
Before Ichigo knew it, she'd finished her cakes. Kashino was still peering out the window, not making eye-contact with her. Why did he even come here, anyway? "Kashino..."
"Huh? Oh right, I was supposed to have one myself..." Kashino suddenly remembered something and called for a waiter. After ordering a dessert, he continued to stare at the tranquil scenery outside once more.
Ichigo said nothing as she watched Kashino. He was normal as ever, but there was just this new vibe that he was emitting... Hm, he seems so familiar, yet different. The aura surrounding him makes me feel all warm and gooey inside, I can't describe it... How come I've never felt it before, until this past month?
The platter arrived shortly. Kashino picked up his fork, cut a piece off, and was about to partake when...
Growl. Ichigo's stomach screamed of selfish desire.
"Eep! I'm so sorry..." Ichigo bit her lip, embarrassed. "Argh, my stupid stomach..."
Kashino exhaled loudly. This girl... Whatever, you win this time, Amano! Instead of eating the morsel himself, he stuffed it into Ichigo's mouth.
Ichigo's pupils grew dilated as she tasted the soft, fluffy chocolate mousse. It tasted so incredible, like nothing she'd ever witnessed. She absorbed the flavor through every chew before swallowing the wonderful creation altogether.
"It...tastes so pleasant..." Ichigo said, breathless. "Thanks, Kashino..." She noticed the remaining cake at once.
Kashino looked wearily from the cake back to Ichigo. Sighing, he pushed the platter towards the drooling female. "Y-you can have it."
"Are you sure?" Ichigo asked, clearly not feeling guilty at all.
"Y-yeah.." Kashino mumbled. "Like I have a choice..."
"Woo-hoo! Thank you, Kashino!" Ichigo scarfed the pastry down in less than a minute.
"Yum, so tasty-" Ichigo looked up from the plate and realized that Kashino was gazing at her. He had an amused smile on his face - a smile that made Ichigo's heart skip a beat.
"Kashino..." She said softly, staring back at the blond.
The male suddenly broke from his spell. "Huh? What? What did I do?"
"You were...staring at me..." Ichigo explained.
Shoot! She noticed! "Oh... I'm sorry..." Kashino looked away to hide his scarlet-red face. "Hey, the other two must be wondering what is taking us so long... Class is starting soon anyway, so we should get going." He stood up and briskly headed for the cashier.
As Kashino passed by, his coat gently scraped against Ichigo's. She inhaled as he whizzed by. The scent of Kashino lingered in her mind.
An innocent, yet blissful feeling aroused within her body. It's come back again - this wondrous sensation. It's been buzzing inside of me more these days. But just what is this emotion?
Ichigo dazedly walked down the stairs to her next class. She was lost in her own little world, reviewing her thoughts.
"Ichigo, watch out!" Vanilla suddenly shouted.
"Huh?" Before Ichigo could react to Vanilla's warning, she felt herself slip and fall head-over-heels down the steps.
"AHH!" The girl screamed in terror as she rolled down the long staircase. "Ow, ow!" She winced while smacking herself against the railing. As she neared the bottom of the stairs, she squeezed her eyes shut and prepared for the worst. I'm going to crash my head onto the tile floor! Not good...!
However, Ichigo never felt her body crush against the ground. Huh? What? That's strange...
She opened her eyes to see a grunting Kashino standing right over her.
"Man, you're so heavy, Amano..." The blond struggled to keep the girl's back from coming into contact with the floor.
"K-Kashino!" Ichigo yelped while she scrambled to stand upright. "I'm so sorry!" A funny fluttering sensation zoomed through her stomach.
"You seriously need to be more careful," Kashino sighed as he helped Ichigo up. Massaging his hands afterwards, he complained, "Argh, you weigh a ton!"
"Well, I'm sorry that I'm heavy!" Ichigo crossed her arms, defiantly. "The pain is your own fault, anyway! Why did you catch me despite the fact that I fall down the stairs everyday? You know I do, so why?"
Kashino grew silent. Ichigo thought she saw a faint blush creeping to his cheeks before he swiftly turned from her. "B-baka... I just don't want you to end up in my family's dreadful hospital, that's all!"
Ichigo smiled, touched that someone cared deeply about her. "Kashino... Thank you. Because you caught me, another injury has been prevented."
"I-it was no problem..." Kashino bit his lip, still not facing the brunette. "Hey, we should go to class now. Sensei will throw a fit if we're late."
"Y-yeah..." Ichigo nodded and followed Kashino towards the chemistry classroom. What is this feeling welling up inside of me? It's weird... Again, it's the same old Kashino, but why does it feel so different around him these days? Could this be...
"Heh, I think a certain someone is feeling unusual about particular things..." Vanilla beamed after watching the whole scene.
He's so close, he's so close, he's SO CLOSE! Ichigo began to sweat bullets as the male beside her worked on his chocolate. Her skin felt on fire.
Classes were done, so Team Ichigo had decided to sharpen their skills together for the upcoming match. The four were all in their normal spots, working on their specialties. However, to Ichigo, Kashino seemed to be standing closer to her than usual.
Is it just me, or did he just inch a bit closer...? Ichigo stared at Kashino intently, studying every move he made. She was insanely worried that he'd keep sliding nearer to her and eventually make his side touch hers. If that really occurred, then the brunette could surely not bear it: being so close that she'd die from a heart attack. Every motion of his arm made her flinch, and this caused her problems - especially since he was tempering.
"Amano, are you having a seizure or something?" Kashino abruptly set his tempering tools down. "I've noticed that you've been acting strange lately."
Ichigo stiffened. "I-I have?"
"Yeah, I've been noting your actions too," Andou looked at Ichigo with concern. "Is something the matter? Does it have to do with us?"
"Uh...yes? I mean, no! I mean..." Ichigo clenched her teeth nervously.
"Ichigo-chan, please. You can be open to us." Hanabusa assured her. We're your friends and we're here to listen to whatever problems you have."
By now, the three Sweets Princes had stopped their work completely, all staring at Ichigo instead.
How can I tell these guys about my feelings? I shouldn't... I know I'd better not, despite the fact that we are close friends. It would be too awkward talking to them anyway, since it's about how I feel towards Kashino...
"I'm sorry, but... I seriously can't tell you." Ichigo focused her gaze on something distant.
The other A Group members stood in absolute silence. After a few seconds, Andou spoke up. "That's okay, we know that certain things are too personal to be shared."
Hanabusa and Kashino agreed with him. Ichigo, relieved, thanked the three.
"Now, let's get back to work! There's not much time before the next competition!" Kashino picked up his gleaming tempering tools.
"Yeah!" Hanabusa turned back towards his candy art.
Ichigo smiled as she resumed to cut fruit on a wooden board. Good, I got away with it this time! But... I'd better be careful to not hint that I'm feeling uneasy...
She tried her best to concentrate on slicing her mangos and strawberries, but she couldn't help but notice that Kashino's hand was just centimeters away from hers, reaching for a spoon. Her heartbeat started to ring in her ears, the actual organ pounding so loudly that she was afraid it was audible by the others.
Her eyes did not leave the sight of that hand - that hand of a determined pâtissier and chocolatier. That was all Ichigo could think about at that very instant.
She felt his warm hand brush lightly against hers, his touch soft and delicate. "Oh, sorry," he stated calmly.
Ichigo nodded slightly, still entranced by the male's action. Her hand started to quiver from the shock that he'd actually touched her. It had been so sudden, yet lasting for an eternity. His skin... Oh, gosh... It's so soft...
Ichigo was totally oblivious to her surroundings as she replayed the moment in her head. She continued her cutting in a surreal manner, fazed out.
"Ow!" She suddenly pricked herself with the knife that she'd been holding unsteadily, with her body shaking. Dropping the blade, she began sucking the wound in her index finger.
"Amano, are you alright?" Kashino's eyes widened.
"How did that happen?" Andou glanced at the cut.
"I'll get you a bandage-" Hanabusa started.
Kashino got in the narcissist's way. "No, I'M getting her one. It's my fault for bumping into her..." He grabbed a band-aid from the first aid kit and helped Ichigo stick it on. Madly red-faced, the brunette somehow managed to mumble a 'thanks'.
"Ichigo, what's wrong with you? Get a grip!" Vanilla had appeared in the doorway with the other Spirits. They'd just arrived back from the Sweets Kingdom.
"Sorry, sorry." Ichigo trembled as she went back to work.
"What do you expect? It's Ichigo, of course." Chocolat huffed.
"Ichigo is hard-working, desu!" Caramel retorted. "So is Andou-kun!"
"You don't need to point out your favorite pairing..." Chocolat sighed.
"They are all determined to accomplish their dreams," Café barged in the conversation. "Anyway, we should watch them to see if they need any help." The other three Spirits nodded.
Ichigo tried her hardest to work. For a while, it all went well, mostly because the Sweets Spirits were eyeing her closely.
But when it came to piping the mango cream onto the choux, Ichigo had loads of trouble. The piping tool kept slipping out of her clammy, sweaty hands and the results were disgraceful. Reason? Kashino was instructing her, peering over her shoulder as he spoke. She had felt his warm, minty breath on her face, making her blush furiously and be panicked.
"Amano!" Kashino shook his head. "What has gotten into you?"
"I... I don't know..." Ichigo whispered faintly. "I just feel... different."
"About what? Making sweets? What's so unusual about it?" Kashino's eyebrows were furrowed in confusion.
"It's not... Never mind." Ichigo sighed as she attempted to pick the piping tool up again. However, she failed and created another disaster.
"AMANO!" Kashino's patience suddenly ran out. "Geez, get a hold of yourself! At this rate, we won't win the next Grand Prix match!"
"I... I..." Ichigo's eyes were downcast, and her voice shook; she was close to tears. "S-sorry... I-I'll try again..." She picked up the tool for the umpteenth time.
Kashino gazed at Ichigo in alarm. Oh crap, I hurt her! I didn't mean to... He grabbed Ichigo's hand and gripped it tightly. "I'm...sorry, Amano. I didn't mean to say that." Kashino whispered. "Sorry. Don't force yourself."
Ichigo could see pain and true regret written in his eyes. Although he'd kept his other facial features normal, she'd noticed his trembling pupils. This...is DEFINITELY something different. But I just can't identify this feeling I have about him. Is it...love? Maybe... Just maybe...
Ichigo managed a reassuring smile and placed her hands over Kashino's. "Don't worry, apology accepted." She turned to the choux. "As for the cream... Can you please reteach me? I've...um...forgotten the more advanced techniques..." Ichigo laughed nervously. I think...
Kashino sighed, but Ichigo swore she saw his lips curl into a slight smile. "Sure." His grin made Ichigo's stomach do a flip-flop.
I think I'm in love. Surely, I am.
Kashino's strong hands were clamped over Ichigo's delicate ones, guiding her through the whole piping process. He was standing behind the female, his chest pressed hard against her back as he leaned forward to view the choux. Ichigo's heartbeat picked up in speed due to Kashino's head being inches away from her ear. Her hands started to perspire like crazy while she felt his seemingly protective hands over hers.
This... This is just too much. I can't bear it! It's as if Kashino's hugging me... This tingle surging through me... It comes back every time he's this close! If I don't escape from his heart-throbbing embrace, the sensation inside me will overcome my everything and I'll burst!
What is love, anyway?
"Could you all please excuse me? I'm sorry, but I'm feeling a bit...disoriented right now." Ichigo set the piping tool down, flustered. Kashino removed his hands from Ichigo's and staggered backwards, surprised. He hadn't expected Ichigo to act so suddenly.
"Of course, Amano-san." Andou smiled.
"Go ahead, Ichigo-chan." Hanabusa nodded.
"...We don't want you to be dazed for the next Cake Grand Prix round, so do whatever you need to," Kashino replied. He'd collected himself, but still spoke with a hint of worry.
"Thanks, guys!" Ichigo bowed in thanks before grabbing her coat.
I have questions that need to be answered. Questions about love...
"Wait-" Vanilla started after her.
"Please, Vanilla. Let me go alone. I need to cool my thoughts a bit..." Ichigo smiled faintly before heading out the kitchen door.
The female teen trudged through the snow, her boots making a crunching noise as it sunk into the white blanket. With her gloved hands in her pockets, she continued to walk with no particular destination; and in deep, silent thought.
Okay, I can't wait any longer. I can't keep these feelings all to myself. I just HAVE to tell someone about my insecurities... After what happened back there... People are going to start worrying about me if I don't take charge to keep my emotions to myself. But I can't talk to just anyone...
Should I call Mom? Naw, she'd just ramble on into another wedding fantasy of hers...
Natsume? Well, she might tease me for being supposedly in love with a Sweets Prince after all... Wait, is this feeling even love?
Vanilla? No, she would bring the subject up every day onwards, and it'd be weird to tell a Spirit about your feelings towards another. I trust her and all, but still...
Rumi? How could I forget? Of course there's Rumi-san! She's patient with others and she'd definitely listen and give me feedback. Plus, I'd be more comfortable talking to her about my problem than anyone else! Yeah, definitely Rumi-san!
The brunette whipped out her cellphone. I might as well text her while I have the heart to do it!
Ichigo started typing slowly at first, excluding the more personal thoughts. However, she gradually picked up speed and before she knew it, she was typing up a storm. Ichigo's heart eventually poured out into the text, making it almost seem like a diary entry. She included many examples, including her gut reactions to the events that had occurred that day.
"There! Finished!" Ichigo smiled proudly to herself as she proofread the message. She debated whether to keep or replace information, but ended up leaving the original draft's content untampered with. "It's totally finished; no regrets."
Ichigo scrolled through her list of contacts in search of 'Katou'. 'Hanabusa Satsuki'... 'Kashino Makoto'... Here's 'Katou Rumi'! Ichigo highlighted the name and was about to press 'send' when...
"Hey, who are you texting to?" Vanilla suddenly appeared from behind, peering at the cellphone. Her unexpected presence made Ichigo jump a mile high, resulting in the girl involuntarily moving her thumb and clicking the 'up' button.
"Eek! Vanilla, don't do that!" Ichigo scolded. She turned the screen away from Vanilla and immediately clicked the 'send' button without looking. She was really used to the functions of her cell.
"Aw, you're not supposed to keep any secrets from your Sweets Spirit!" Vanilla pouted, bottom lip stuck out.
"Well, there are certain things I can't tell you," Ichigo fidgeted.
"I noticed that you were in the 'K' section," Vanilla smugly grinned.
"I was texting RUMI-SAN!" Ichigo defiantly declared, cheeks reddened.
"So you say... I'll give you two some conversational time..." Vanilla winked and flew back towards the kitchen.
What is that Spirit of mine saying? Ichigo wondered. Oh well, she left. Ichigo turned back towards her cell. The 'sending' progress bar was only half full. Huh, the message must take a longer time to send than others. After all, it is pretty lengthy...
As the message was sending, Ichigo sighed in relief. Ah, it feels so good to have that burden off my shoulders. Now I can talk to someone else about my feelings! Ichigo felt jubilant to have spilled out everything that had been welled up inside. Sending... Sent!
However, her grin dramatically turned into a frown. From that, it quickly changed into a mouth agape in horror.
No, this can't be really happening... You've seen wrongly, Ichigo... The girl stared at her cellphone screen with shocked disbelief. She snapped her eyes shut, shook her head violently, then fluttered her eyes open to glance at the cell once more.
Ichigo pinched herself a few times. No, it's not a dream. It's... pure reality.
Ichigo's eyes were glued to the screen as she saw the little box that always popped up to inform her of something. She read the words in the box for the nth time:
Message has been successfully sent to Kashino Makoto.
Ichigo: Yikes, what did I do?
Vanilla: What did that message say?
Ichigo: Th-that's none of your business!
Me: We'll all find out about it in the next chapter, Vanilla! ;)
Chocolat: Most of all, how will Kashino react?
Ichigo: AIEEE! I don't want to know!
Me: Please review, peoples! If you do, you'll get a PM reply from me and a sample of Ichigo's special Sourire de l'Ange! ;D