"Kairi, one large pepperoni. Make it a special."
"Got it Leon!" the redhead called from the kitchen, smiling to herself for more reasons than one. But she didn't let the smile stop her from working; she grabbed her pizza dough and got straight to work.
Seventeen years old and Kairi already basically had a full time job. At least for the summer anyway. She worked in a small pizza shop in Destiny Islands and made nearly all of the pizzas. Most days she was the only person on pizza duty. Other times, Leon (who was now taking the orders) came back and made pizzas as well. But he clearly wasn't into that type of thing, so Kairi didn't make carrying the weight of making all the pizzas. In fact, she thoroughly enjoyed it.
"Pepperoni special," Kairi murmured to herself, spreading out the pizza dough over the plate before smoothing it out. One of the reasons that Kairi made the pizzas was because people actually requested that she make their pizzas. To make her job more interesting, she started making fun designs with the pizza toppings. First, it just started with a "K" for her name. Then it expanded into hearts and stars and writing out the customer's name. Some things were impossible with pepperoni because they were so large, so she used smaller toppings like sausage or olives to do more elaborate pictures. Still, she did what she could with what she had.
"Leon, what's the customer's name?" Kairi called to her coworker. If it was an easy name, she could write it out in pepperoni.
"Wakka?" He's not one of my regulars, she thought. How does he know about my special pizzas?
"The whole Island is buzzing about your pizza by now," Leon said in the same, apathetic tone.
Kairi laughed it off, smiling to herself. "Right." She got back to the pizza, spreading the sauce over it before sprinkling it with cheese. What could she do special for Wakka? A plain old "W" would be boring…But she hardly knew anything about Wakka so it could be personal. Except for his obsession with Blitz Ball. "Ah-ha!" she smiled, inspired. She made a large circle (representing a Blitz Ball) and then tore each pepperoni in half so that she could clearly write "BB" (obviously standing for the name of the sport). Then the pizza went through the oven to cook.
The redhead was so extremely glad she landed this job. She had no experience coming on, so naturally it was hard at first. But she learned quickly and added her own special touch to the pizzas. Her own special brand of "love". Every person who she served had a good attitude about it. Actually, she and her coworkers got a lot more tips because of the happy customers. Kairi hadn't gotten a raise because the owner of the store never came into the store to see what an asset she was, but she didn't care. She was happy here.
"Kairi, one medium Hawaiian, special again."
"You got it Leon!" she called, smiling once again. People really didn't need to tell her to make it special; she would do it anyway. "What's their name?"
Sora. That kid from school that was in all of her classes. He was the same age as her and a bit…different, from her at least. She took her grades seriously and studied hard, but Sora just appeared to slack off and goof around in class. But his jokes were always hilarious, and apparently he was really smart since he always got A's and B's. He was a sweet guy, adored by all the girls at school. Kairi had to admit that he was charming. Extremely so.
"Okay, one special Hawaiian coming up!" she called as she laid out the dough. These pizzas were just ham and pineapple, but she personally loved them. Apparently Sora had good taste. Smiling to herself, she wrote Sora's name with ham and spread the pineapple all over it before also putting it in the oven. While she was at it, she took out Wakka's and put it in the box.
"Order up," Kairi said to Leon, walking out with the box in her grasp. When she was there, she saw that Leon wasn't sitting in his normal position with his elbow on the counter and his hand to his head. He was standing upright, facing a man that she didn't recognize. Regardless, she walked over to the counter and saw that Wakka was already standing nearby with Sora. "Pepperoni special for Wakka," she called.
Wakka immediately came over, running a hand through his tall hairstyle as he smiled. "I bet it's amazing, ya," he said as he accepted the box. "Thanks."
"You're welcome, enjoy," Kairi said with a smile of her own, watching Wakka walk away. Sora, however, lingered nearby. "Your Hawaiian should be out soon," she called to him.
"Alright, cool," the brunet responded, smiling as he approached the counter. He looked adorable in his jeans and hoodie. "It's special, right?"
"Of course, all my pizzas are special," she assured him.
"Yeah, but you see, I want mine to be REALLY special," Sora said with a cheeky grin. "It's gotta top Wakka's pizza, and the one that you made Riku last week. He has a picture of it on his phone—it's his background."
"Seriously?" she laughed. "Well, I'm flattered that my pizzas are good cell phone backgrounds."
"And good meals. I'll eat half the pizza here then save the rest for my next meal. And then get another pizza for tomorrow if I have the money. And the next day, and the next day…"
Kairi didn't get a chance to laugh at Sora's goofiness, another call getting her attention. "Kairi," Leon called.
She glanced back at Leon, then to Sora. She had to obey; Leon looked pretty serious. And so did the other man that he was with. The teen walked over to them, hands by her sides as she glanced back and forth between them in confusion. "Yes?"
"Kairi, this is Mr. Weis," Leon said as he glanced to the man beside him. He said the name like "wise", and that was when I knew who this man was: he was the owner of this small pizza place. Ansem Weis. "He's here to see that everything is in order."
"It's nice to meet you. Sir," Kairi added on, nodding faintly to the man instead of shaking his hand. He surely wouldn't approve of that since she was wearing gloves.
"Nice to meet you too, Kairi," Ansem said with a small nod of his own. "Let's go check the kitchen." He started back without hesitation, making Kairi blink in surprise. He was apparently all business.
Wordlessly, she started back after him, leaving Leon to continue his duty as cashier. Apparently Mr. Weis already inspected that area and found it to his pleasing; now she just hoped that the kitchen was the same way. Why wouldn't it be? It was very neat and organized—Kairi was that type of person. If it was a mess, she would have lost her mind by now.
Ansem walked into the area, glancing down at the ground before looking to the counters and the neatly-stacked boxes. "Very organized," he said, though Kairi wasn't sure if it was a compliment. So she only hummed and nodded while he continued his inspection. "You're sure to keep the meat toppings in the freezer until you're ready to use them?"
"Yes, sir," the redhead said with a small nod.
"And you do not use more cheese than the standard amount?"
"No sir," Kairi said.
The buzzer on the pizza oven went off to say that the pizza was done. Kairi wordlessly grabbed a box and opened it up so that she could put the pizza in it right out of the oven. It was Sora's Hawaiian pizza, the one that had his name written in it. The only reason that she didn't smile was because Ansem was still in the room, and even if he was distracted, she didn't want him thinking she didn't take her job seriously.
She took the pizza out of the oven and put it in the box, leaving it there for a moment as she turned around and walked over to get a pizza wheel so she could cut it.
"What? What is this?"
Kairi shrank back at Ansem Weis' booming voice, though she did turn around to see what he was so infuriated about. He was staring at the pizza.
"This is not an art studio, Miss Kairi," Ansem fumed, turning around to face the frightened girl. "This is a pizza shop, and I will not have you making a mockery of my pizza by dolling it up and wasting your time doing such."
"Sir," Kairi started protesting.
"Make pizza the way you're supposed to."
Kairi was silent.
"Am I clear?"
"Yes sir," she said quietly, her whispered voice squeaking a little bit.
"Good. Finish this pizza, then take a ten minute break to get your head in the right place. Leon will take over the kitchen for the rest of the day."
Kairi nodded and watched as Ansem left the kitchen to speak to Leon. Instead of standing in a stunned state, she quickly grabbed the pizza wheel and cut the pizza into slices. She didn't want to get yelled at, not at all. She was already offended that Ansem didn't even listen to a word that she was saying. The pizza business was doing so much better now that she was making designs in the pizza! They were getting new customers and popularity because of it. But he didn't see that because he never showed up at the place that he owned.
The pizza was sliced, so she shut the box and brought it out in time to see Leon coming back to the kitchen to replace her. He looked at her with some sympathy, but then he continued past her to make the pizzas. As she reached the front, she noticed Ansem Weis leaving just as quickly as he appeared. He didn't even care enough to stick around any longer.
She cleared her throat, setting the box on the counter. "Hawaiian pizza for Sora," she called dully. The teen who came up to her, however, was not nearly so dull.
His wide smile normally would have made her feel better as well, but nothing could make her feel better after she got such a nasty scolding. "Thanks Kairi," he said with a nod, setting a hand on the pizza box. "Is this better than Wakka's?"
"I guess," she said with a shrug.
Sora finally caught onto something being wrong. "What do you mean 'you guess'?" he asked with an arched brow. "You okay?"
A weak smile tugged at Kairi's lips, though it was a little bitter as well. "I guess you have the honor of eating the last 'special' pizza," she said. "I just got majorly scolded for making designs with the toppings, so I have to stop doing it."
"W-what? That's stupid!"
"I know. I'm not even allowed to make pizzas the rest of the day."
"I wasn't talking about the pizza designs," Sora said as he softly shook his head. "I mean, yeah, that's really stupid too. And a major bummer since your pizzas brighten so many people's days. But you getting yelled at…That just isn't right. You don't deserve it, especially when you didn't do anything wrong."
This time, Kairi's weak smile was genuine. "Well thank you, Sora," she said quietly. "I appreciate it."
"You know what? I think you should keep making pizzas the way you have been."
"I really can't risk losing my job."
"But I don't think you will. Isn't that, like, the first time in half a year that the boss has come in?"
"…Yeah…?" What did that have to do with anything?
"So even if you keep making pizzas the way you do, your boss won't know, because he never comes in," Sora explained.
Kairi's eyes widened. Wow, Sora seriously had a point. She hadn't even thought of that! And to think that he had trouble with his grades in school…He may not have been book smart, but he had street smarts. "You're right," the redhead said softly, her blue eyes locking onto Sora's bright blue ones.
Sora smirked, bumping his fist against his chest. "'Course I am," he said. His confident reaction made Kairi giggle; he probably had an ego, just like every other guy out there. But he was so sweet that she would let it slide for now.
"I'll think about it," Kairi declared.
"Don't take too long," Sora suggested. "The world can't survive without your pizzas of joy."
Kairi laughed at the name, shaking her head. "Now you're exaggerating," she stated. The world survived long before her pizzas came around, and it would survive long after they were one. But Sora's comment was still a sweet one, one that she took to heart. She would make her special pizzas again, and soon.
"Kairi," Leon called. Her ten minutes were up.
"Gotta go, Sora, I'll see you later," Kairi said, giving him a small wave before she went to the cash register and began working again.
The rest of the day at the register wasn't the same as making pizzas, it was just plain boring. Cashiers weren't allowed to be overly personable with people because it would hold up the rest of the line (whenever there actually WAS a line). Ansem Weis has a lot of strict policies, ones that he couldn't really enforce since he never came into work. Still, she kept herself from speaking too much and obeyed the rules. It would take some time for her to build up her courage to disobey Mr. Weis' rules, but she would do it. It was worth it in the end. As soon as he found out what great business he had because of the decorated pizzas, he'd see the light.
All Kairi needed was a chance. But first, she needed to take a risk.
And she did.
A week after Ansem's appearance at work, Kairi dared to start making her special pizzas again. Though she wished that customers would stop blabbering about her terrific, special pizzas, she knew that it would be impossible to stop them from talking. Besides, it wasn't like Ansem would hear since he was never around. Another week later, Ansem still hadn't come in and yelled at her, so she assumed that she was in the clear.
One day, they were incredibly busy and Aerith was working on pizzas with Kairi. Cloud was running the drive through. "Kairi," he called, stepping into the kitchen to get her attention. "A customer is specifically requesting he gets his pizza from you."
Kairi was confused, but she accepted the words without asking questions. Cloud probably didn't know what was going on either. "Okay."
"He's the Hawaiian order that you just gave to me. He's waiting now."
Certain that she could take a quick break and go to the drive-through, Kairi left her station and went to the drive-through window. It was rarely used, but it was just busy enough that somebody had to sit there. She glanced out the window, searching for the car that was coming to get the pizza.
But it wasn't a car that was speeding towards the window.
"Sora!" Kairi cried, immediately laughing when he rode up to the window on his skateboard. "What are you doing?"
"Hey Kairi," Sora responded with a sheepish yet confident smile. "Figured I'd skateboard to the pizza place to burn off some of the calories the pizza's gonna give me. You have my order, right?"
"Yeah, right here." Still fighting the urge to laugh at Sora for his silliness, she turned around and grabbed the pizza box. "Good luck weaving through traffic with this," she said, smirking as she gave him the food.
"Do I detect some sarcasm?" he asked, smirking himself.
"'Sarcasm' may not be the right word…"
"Okay, amusement, mockery…Whatever. We're not in school right now."
"No, but your English is going to be terrible when we go back," Kairi giggled. "The teacher is going to have fun trying to break you out of your summer habits."
"And I'll have just as much fun annoying her," Sora responded with a cheesy smile. After only a brief moment of silence, he looked down at the pizza in his hands. "Anyway, here's the money for the pizza," he said. He balanced the box in one hand while his other handed the cash to Kairi. "I'll see you around."
Just like that, Sora sped off and left Kairi where she was, smiling and very amused. Shaking her head, the redhead returned to her normal job.
Work ran smoothly for the next two weeks. At least three times a week, Sora came speeding through the drive-through for Kairi's pizza. He constantly explained that the pizzas weren't always for him; he was getting them for other friends who couldn't get over to the pizza shop and pick up their own orders. Of course, Kairi didn't mind seeing Sora so often. He was always so goofy, yet so sincere. Every time he came, she felt like she was falling for him more.
On one rainy day, though, Kairi knew that Sora wasn't going to come through the drive-through line. It was too nasty outside for that. The nasty weather also brought in the nasty person who ordered her to stop creating beautiful pizzas.
Ansem Weis came into the shop that day just as Kairi was taking a pizza out to a middle-aged couple's table.
"Ah, Kairi," Mr. Weis greeted, approaching the redhead and nearly making her jump out of her skin. "Going the extra mile for the customer, I see. Very good."
"Um, thank you," Kairi managed, setting the pizza on the table. But Mr. Weis hadn't seen the pizza, clearly. If he had, he would have freaked out because it was one of her specials. I'm so doomed…
Ansem peeked around her and saw the pizza. And, just as Kairi predicted, Ansem had a fit. "I ordered you not to make designs in the pizza," he said loudly, his voice angry as he spoke harshly to his employee right in the dining area.
"I-I know," Kairi squeaked. "But I can explain-"
"I didn't ask for an explanation!" he boomed. "I asked you to follow orders, which you were incapable of. It'll be hard for you to find a future job when you disobey the orders of your superiors."
"But people love the pizzas!"
"Speaking against your boss is also an unintelligent move." Ansem took in a breath and Kairi knew what was coming next. "Kairi, you're-"
"Leave her alone!"
Ansem Weis grunted and turned his head, seeing a bunch of high school students gathered. They had been watching what was going on. And at the center of the group… Sora.
"I beg your pardon," Mr. Weis said tightly, only more polite because they were customers.
"Kairi's pizzas brighten the days of every customer she gives them to," Sora said bravely. "She's not mocking you or disobeying your rules out of spite. She's doing it because it makes people happy. Isn't that more important than obeying rules that don't make any sense?"
"The rules do make sense," Ansem responded, though he was shocked that Sora spoke so articulately. "This is not an art gallery; this is a pizza shop."
"Why can't they go together?" Sora continued to argue. "It's new, it's fresh, and its brought in a ton of business for you. Haven't you noticed that ever since Kairi came on, more people have been coming here?"
Ansem was silent. He must have noticed.
"…Fine," he said after a few moments, looking down and over at Kairi. He swallowed, forced to get rid of his pride in front of a crowd of teenagers. "Kairi, continue the way you have been."
Speechless, Kairi nodded.
Ansem turned and walked away, exiting the room and then the whole pizza shop.
All the kids cheered in joy.
"You should have seen his face, ya?" Wakka said to a friend, nudging him with his arm.
"That cocky idiot deserved it," another classmate, Tidus, said in agreement.
"Way to stand up to him, buddy," Riku said, lifting a hand and ruffling Sora's hair.
The brunet, however, wasn't paying much attention to his best friend. He smiled sheepishly, stepping forward so that he was closer to Kairi.
"Sora…Thank you." If it wasn't for him, Kairi would have lost her job. That would have looked terrible on a resume, but it also would have crushed her spirit. She didn't have the ability to stand up to her boss, but Sora did. And he did, even when he didn't have to.
"You're welcome," Sora said, his smile becoming softer. "I was the one who convinced you to keep doing pizzas your way, after all. I couldn't just sit by and let him fire you."
Oh, is that the only reason you did it? Kairi nearly asked. Instead, she nodded faintly to him in appreciation with a small smile of her own. Whether he did it for the reason he gave or for another reason, Kairi was grateful.
That was Leon calling her. "Gotta go," Kairi said to Sora. "Thanks again."
She was forced to walk away from him, her heart still pounding fast because of what nearly happened. That would haunt her the rest of the day, but at least she still had her job. All thanks to Sora.
Three days later, on a Friday, Kairi was working the drive-through window right around closing time. She was the only person working at that time who knew how to do it, so she was the one who was placed there while Aerith made pizzas and Squall worked the front of the store.
Kairi was bored until somebody suddenly rode up to her window on a skateboard. "Sora?" she said in surprise, removing her hand from her face. He hadn't ordered any pizzas.
"Hey, Kairi," he greeted. "I know I didn't order any pizza, but I figured I'd swing by anyway. Plus, there's something I wanted to give you."
"Give me?" she repeated in confusion. Riku skated over to Sora then, passing him a pizza box.
"Thanks buddy!" Sora called to the friend that skateboarded away without even slowing down during the exchange. The brunet cleared his throat, holding the pizza box in front of him. "You're always giving me pizza, so this time, I figured I'd give you one that I made specially."
Sora opened the box and revealed his "special" pizza, which was a Hawaiian. But there was a design in it that made Kairi's eyes widen. Written in thin pieces of ham were the words "Date me?" and there were pieces of pineapple scattered all over the home-made pizza.
"You have no idea—well, I guess you do have an idea—how hard it was to make this," he said sheepishly, looking from the pizza to Kairi. "Took me a while to write the words eligibly. But I figured, you know, it's a Friday and your shift is almost over, so I'd ask."
Kairi couldn't believe that Sora would ask her out in the first place, but the fact that he did it in such a creative, sincere way, made Kairi even more flattered. "Yeah," she breathed, nodding faintly. "I'll date you."
"Great," Sora said, smiling widely. "Try to get off as soon as you can. The pizza won't stay warm for too long…But I guess you already know that too."
"Yeah," she laughed. She glanced behind her, seeing Leon waiting to take her place at the window so she could leave early. "Okay, I'll be out in just a minute."
Kairi rushed back to another part of the store, took off the apron and got cleaned off in record time. Within five minutes, she was outside with Sora. And within twenty, they had arrived at their destination. Sora took his skateboard in one hand and Kairi held the pizza as they walked to a blanket on the beach. "Imagine if I had said no," she teased, sitting down on the picnic blanket as Sora did the same.
"It would have been awful," Sora agreed as he scrunched up his nose. "Humiliating too, since I had Riku in on the whole thing. He never would have let me live it down."
"You said you made the pizza, right?" Kairi peeked it open and saw the words once again, which made her cheeks turn pink. This was so sweet.
"Yup. I found a recipe for dough and all that on the web and had an adventure in the kitchen earlier. You have no idea—I was covered in flour for so long…"
"Well, hopefully it was worth it," she laughed.
"Oh, it was," he assured her as he handed her a slice of pizza. He waited expectantly for her to taste it before he got his own slice.
"It's good," Kairi said after a bite. "I might have some competition in the pizza business."
"I doubt that! Nobody can top your pizzas."
The redhead's cheeks turned a little more pink, but she tried to hide it. "Hey, Sora?"
"I was just wondering…Why'd you go through all this trouble for me?" It was a question that lingered in her mind ever since he showed up with the pizza, and it made itself even more present when he told her about his adventure that afternoon making it. It was charming that he put so much effort into this, but why?
"Oh, that's an easy one," Sora said with a smile. "It's not just your pizzas that are special, Kairi. You are too."
Now her cheeks were as red as her hair. "That may be the cheesiest line I've ever heard," she laughed. The grin that Sora gave her made her feel even warmer inside than the hot summer air did.
"Goes along with the pizza, doesn't it?" he remarked. "But don't worry. The bonds of cheesy love are not easily severed."
Gaw, wasn't that so cheesy? I had this in my documents for over half a year and just never got around to finishing it. But here it is now, and I hope you enjoyed it!