The tall young man with silken golden hair and purple eyes that shone like jewels piveted on the spot . He looked as if his wardrobe ate a factory of Skittles and threw up on all his clothes ; a striking, sunshine-yellow sweater with only one sleeve covered another white and purple striped shirt under it and jeans of a faded lilac and his belt somehow hanging in a very strange way . The colours clashed so loudly , it very nearly blinded me . However bright his clothes were , they were definitely not as bright as his smile , it just seemed to light up the room , in a way that the chandeliers overhead could not. The birds fluttered about the room lighting the candles and dusk was settling outside , like a child going to bed , pulling an indigo blanket over himself , dotted with glittering stars , an extremely fluffy cloud as his pillow and mattress .
"Yes , Hirato ?" he said in a cheery voice , as if he was someone who had everything going well in his life , maybe even a good life before joining Circus . Something I , unfortunately never had the privilege to enjoy . But of course , it greatly depende on whose definition of 'life' we were refering to . If it depended on mine , I did have one , but one that was brutally stolen from me but person or persons unknown , ripped to shreds , so that now I feel like I never had the life I used to have , that now it was just a blissful , fleeting dream , I was thrust into a nightmare ; which somehow I have managed to escape and have sworn to avenge the shame brought to my family's once honourable name .
"I would like you to meet Fraise . As you know , the higher-ups have decided to add one more person to Airships One and Two due to the increasing responsibilities , even though I don't see a real reason ... This is our new member . Introduce yourself ."
"My name is Fraise , I will be joining Airship Two from now onwards . Please be kind to me and show me the ropes ." I gave him a little bow , thankful for some reason that let me hide my face from him , which i was sure was a deep shade of maroon, because I felt it burning . A rather peculiar feeling it was too because I had long forgotten how to feel many emotions known to me in my past .
"Fraise ? Fraise ... Fraise ." He said them all with different intonations , it was quite amusing to hear . First , to make it familiar to him . Second , to register it to my face . Third , to call out to me . Call out to me , from where I was . But , where was I ?
I looked up at him and his gaze held mine . Many people say that eyes are the windows to your soul . But all windows have curtains , its just how opaque or how inpenetrable their curtains are . Sometimes a strong wind can blow your curtains open to varying degrees : wide open , half open , just a little flutter and still tight shut . After all , everybody will have something to hide , even if it wasn't something of great significance to the world . Mine do , I'm sure . Nobody wants to see my past , not even I . His eyes , such beautiful eyes , had curtains too , I could tell . Then , I wondered what he had to hide . Maybe he had a tough life as well . After all , life isn't meant to be a walk in th park , but mine was a long walk on a bed of nails , then a swim in an ocean of needles and finally flying in a sky of razour blades . He had a thoughtful expression on his face as he looked at me .
"Doesn't Fraise mean 'strawberry'?"
I smiled widely , nodded . My facial muscles kind of ached because i don't smile widely often . Usually its just a little smile that looks as though its afraid of people . Almost like a child playing hide-and-seek but having the unsupressable urge to see if the catcher was coming . I didn't smile because it really was amusing or a sudden , shocking revelation but because of how he said it . It was an English word , so he pronounced it like 'ster-raw-beh-rie'. It was really cute , even though I never really thought anything is cute for a long time before he said that . His face then settled into another hard-thinking expression , it almost made a little laugh rise up from my dormant heart .
"Then , that means your name is Ichigo !"
Even though it was true , I never really thought about my name much . A name was just a name . My name especially was one I hardly cared for . I'm a kind of person who doesn't care for or think about much , I only wish to occupy my mind with things of high importance . I didn't realise he was asking me something and I hadn't been answering until he waved a big , warm-looking hand in front of my face , startling me slightly .
"Ah , yes ? I'm sorry , I was thinking about something ."
He gave me a reassuring smile and repeated what he said patiently , " I asked if I could call you Ichigo instead of Fraise . Its foreign on my tongue ."
I thought about it for a while . Even though I didn't care for my name much , what I did care for about it was respecting it . After all , my parents gave me that name.
"Sorry , Yogi-san , but I don't like that idea much . Like all words , they grow familiar after a while . I'm fine if you say it in a weird way , as long as it is my name."
Hirato had suddenly vanished , leaving the both of us alone in the lounge . He pouted a little , frowning then saying , "B- But , Ichigo IS your name ! Its just that its in Japanese ! Pleeeeeeeeease ? Come on , please ? Just do me this little favour?"
I was never able to stomach whining of the younger ones , but for some reason , his wasnt really that irritating . In fact , I found it surprisingly endearing . Turning , I began to walk away , but he followed me all the way back to my room door .
The next morning's light filtered through my windows , a very unfamiliar feeling because I never used to have windows . Or a proper house to speak of . And suddenly I forgot where the pantry was . Wishing I had paid more attention to Hirato when he was showing me around the day before , I had to wander around , like a small child lost in the terrifiying , endless woods . Everytime I came to a dead end , I would curse this ship that was so much bigger than it looked , all of these corridors and rooms and places I could get lost in . It was also a disadvantage for me , because even if I could find my way easily through a battlement , I never got the hang of returning to a fixed place and rembering where this and that was . Just my luck that this place was frikkin' gargantuan .
"Are you lost , baaaa ?"
The Circus Airships have many types of machines , cute ones too . Their main purpose was to serve the inhabitants of the Airship and clean the rooms , cook for the crew and maintain the engines and so on so forth . The ones I had seen most often for the day before , were the sheep . They were all over the place , they popped up anywhere and everywhere . They mainly did maintainece and guarding the ship when the crew was out on missions .
"Umm , yes , sheep I am lost ." pun not intended , I said sheepishly . Goodness , to be told where to go by a sheep . Aren't they the ones meant to be herded ? The irony shocked me . But they were really very adorable , fluffy too . Something you never really expected of machines .
"Where do you want to go , baaaa ?"
"Ummm , to the pantry.."
"Come this way , baaaa . It isnt very far from here , baaaa . Follow me , baaaa ."
Straight , left , left , right . Turn . Open door .
"Pantry is here , baaaa . Please call on us if you are lost again baaaa." The sheep swished its cloak and trotted back down the corridor . Hirato had left for Headquarters that morning , as he told me when I just came on board , Tsukomo and Iva were out on research . Nai and Gareki , (whoever they were I know not) were at the hospital with that horrible , and that meant that -
"Ichigo-chaaaaaaan! Good morning !"
I was alone with Yogi . Needless to say , I had lost the fight over my name , but I really DID put up a good fight . I almost bashed his face in , just to show my point , definitely not because I found him irritating or was I frustrated in any way . But I did want to show my point a little too much , I hope the sheep replace that door before Hirato gets back .
"Ichigo-chan , have a seat," he pulled up the chair next to him and went over to the stove to get more pancakes and dollop what looked like a whole bottle of sticky sweet syrup on the tower of pancakes and placed the flowery porcelain plate in front of me .
"Thank you , Yogi . You sure are up early ."
He grinned , scratched the back of his head , messed his already messed blonde hair . He turned back to his pancakes and we ate in silence for a while . With his gaze still resolutely glued to his food , he asked in a thick voice (he just shoved some syrupy pancakes in his mouth) , "Do you like them ?"
"Ummm , the pancakes ?"
He jerked his head a little , I assumed that meant yes . He still hadn't looked up and I wondered what was so interesting about his pancakes .
"Yes , they're really delicious ... There's a hint of strawberry too . I really like them ."
He looked up at me , his purple eyes shining in the warm rays of light , wide with amazement . My head slowly lost its centre of balance , leaning to the left , at his reaction and he flushed and began to blabber non-stop and quite incoherently as well .
"Ummm , I-I didn't mean anything by it .. I just wanted to know if they were yummy ... because .. ummm ... err ... I made them myself ... and I hardly cook so I thought they'd be , you know . Bad ... Ah , I'm sorry , I'm blabbering , I'll shut up now ."
He sat there like a child who was caught doing something bad like stealing a cookie or drawing on the walls and was being punished by sitting in the time-out corner . Then, a giggle . To Yogi's surprise , as well as mine , it had come out from my mouth . Laughter rarely escaped my lips because I hardly found much remotely amusing .
"No , they're really good ... Ummm ... Thank you , Yogi ."
We both sat there , awkwardly , in silence for maybe a minute or two then he said quietly , "I could make them for you everyday . If you want ?"
It wasn't a statement . It was a question . I nodded and he began to chuckle .
"What's so funny," I asked , feeling a smile spread across my face . He glanced at me and laughed even more and this in turn made me laugh . As we heard each other laugh more and more , the longer it continued for , until our sides hurt and eyes teared and the giggles fizzled out .
And that was the day I began to love something .