Itīs February the 13th and just as Fuuka requested, all the girls staying at the dorm has gathered to make chocolate for valentine's day. Fuuka, whoīs terrible at cooking, wanted to make candy for the residents at the dorm but especially for her friend Natsuki so we all agreed to help out. All the girls at school have been talking about it for ages and everyone knows that home-made chocolate is the best when you want your crushīs attention.
Fuuka is standing in the kitchen with an apron around her waist, she looks very serious. The green haired girl has been taking cooking lessons with Shinjiro and wants to prove her skills. I canīt help but smile at her from my seat at the table. Yukari helps Fuuka with the ingredients since sheīs still doubting the other girlīs abilities in the kitchen. Mitsuru laughs as she joins me by the table, crossing one leg over the other.
"Why is it important to give away chocolate?" Aigis wonders in her monotone voice.
The human-looking robot is standing against the wall near the table. Her blue emotionless eyes stare at the ingredients Yukari is holding while you almost can hear how her man-made brain is working to figure things out. Fuuka turns to Aigis to explain.
"Itīs tradition to give the one you like chocolate on valentine's day." Fuuka answers. "Itīs like a confession, but I think giving it to close friends is ok too. Itīs a way to show them how much they mean to you."
"I donīt understand." Aigis continues.
Yukari sweatdrops anime-style as the robot keeps on staring at the ingredients in an eerie way.
"Just watch us and you might get it, okay, Aigis?"
"Understood." The robot answers.
Yukari starts to read how to make the chocolate while Fuuka tries to follow the instructions as good as she can. Yukari has to keep an eye on her so she wonīt make major mistakes like using too much heat so the chocolate will melt faster. No one wants to smell burnt chocolate and that will also ruin the surprise for the guys. Shinjiro will probably guess what happened and weīll all be dammed. I chuckle to myself and that makes Mitsuru glance at me from her seat next to mine. I tend to laugh to myself from times to times and that might seem strange to others but my red haired senpai only smiles. I donīt know her that well yet because sometimes it seems like sheīs speaking another tongue that I am. Sheīs so intelligent and mature so I canīt help but feel slightly uncomfortable around her. My grades arenīt the best and since it seems that all she does on her free time is to study I feel a little out of place. But I need to get along with all the persona users since Mitsuru and Akihiko appointed me as the new leader.
With that heavy responsibility on my shoulders I was kind of forced to get along with all the people living in the dorm. Iīve gained a lot of nice friends during my stay here and I can't say I regret moving in even though it was me transferring that awakened my power. My crimson eyes regard the chocolate as Iīm thinking to myself. Iīve never felt needed like Iīm doing now so Iīm staying and can say that I enjoy being a member of SEES.
"Mitsuru-senpai, Minako-chan, youīre not going to make chocolate?" Fuuka asks Mitsuru and me.
Fuuka and Yukari looks at us with interest in their faces. Valentine is all about love, and that means girls talking about crushes and guys. I shrug as I shiver runs down my spine. Valentine isnīt really my thing. My parents never celebrated nor talked about it when they were still alive so Iīve grown up without celebrating the day completely. My mother didnīt teach me how to make chocolate like ordinary mothers do and since I never learned I felt that I shouldnīt learn at all. But I still think itīs cute how girls try to give the one they care for chocolate. Itīs just not natural for me to do it.
"No." Mitsuru answers in a stern way. Her voice makes Yukari and Fuuka aware of that they wonīt get any more info even if they would ask her about it.
I glance Mitsuruīs way and realize that I have no clue if the student council president likes someone or not. When I first arrived here I thought she and Akihiko was a couple- I swallow hard- but after some months I understood that theyīre just close friends. Mitsuru, Akihiko and Shinjiro were the first persona users to join SEES and the three of them have a special bond that I canīt really understand even though I hang out with Akihiko from time to time. He doesnīt like to talk about the past and Iīve no right to force him to. My thoughts lingers at the older man who put his trust in me a lot lately.
"Ehm, okay..." Yukari shrugs. "And you Minako?"
Since I once again was lost in thought I answer with what comes to mind in that moment.
"No, Iīm thinking of giving him something else. So I would like to borrow the kitchen after youīre done." I say without thinking it through first.
Yukari and Fuuka looks at each other while a small smile appears on Mitsuruīs lips. Aigis looks as lost as ever as she leans against the wall.
"Him you say...who?" Yukari urges me to say more.
I flinch violently as the realization hits me in the face and a faint blush appears as I try to calm down. I was thinking about him the moment I answered so it came out naturally, but I didnīt really want them to know about it. Yukariīs eyes widen at my reaction and I can see how she wants to ask me more about it. I curse myself. Valentine will be different for me this year because there is a guy that I think I like more than just a friend. Iīll not make chocolate to him, so it wonīt really be a confession, but the idea itself scares me now when I know Iīve to give my planned gift to him tomorrow. I look down at the floor as I avoid Yukariīs eyes. Just as I open my mouth to say some sort of excuse Mitsuru interrupts me.
"Itīs Akihiko, right?" Mitsuru asks me with a small smile.
The blush on my face grows even bigger as the older teen guesses right. Yukari looks at me with wide eyes due to surprise, it seems that she hadnīt noticed how my feelings for Akihiko grew even though she and I hangs out pretty often. Fuuka stays silent just as Aigis but she looks less confused than the robot girl.
Mitsuru is right; Iīm interested in Akihiko. I donīt know when it started but it all happened naturally as we slowly got to know each other. I find him very attractive- well duh- he is handsome and all the girls at school know that!- but Iīve been feeling something different than attraction to him lately and the emotion confused me for some time. I like how he is so passionate about his training, how heīs completely unaware of that all the girls hanging around him wants to date him, and the way he blushes when I somehow manage to get under his skin. Heīs dense but smart at the same time just as he is very popular with the girls but still so innocent when love is concerned.
I look at Mitsuru while being slightly afraid of her being against my feelings for him but she doesn't look discontented or angry with me, she looks slightly happy. The older girl acts like she won on the lottery when she, and the three other girls there, understands that she was right. Yukari shakes her head as if she canīt believe that Iīm liking someone like Akihiko.
"H-how?" I stutter while looking at Mitsuru, Iīve understood that I canīt hide my feelings any longer. "How did you find out?"
"Youīve been spending more time with him lately and I know Akihiko is picky with who he hangs with, so I guess that you have to get along quite well." My senpai tells me with a gentle smile."And you get a certain expression around him, when you talk about him or when he is mentioned."
"I do? Well—" The blush fades as I try to come up with some sort of excuse. "—I just want to show him my appreciation but Itīll be a challenge... I mean, his fans will surely swarm around him with their fancy gifts."
"Do I hear some jealousy?" Yukari giggles."Yeah senpai sure is famous with the girls but he doesnīt seem to understand the motives beneath their approaches...."
I flinch and look down in shame. Itīs true, Iīm mad at the girls because they can show their feelings that openly. Iīm not like that. Saying stuff like "I think youīre great!" would only label me as one of his many fan girls and thatīs not what I want. Iīve had the opportunity to get to know a different side of him since I joined SEES and I know a lot of them think thatīs unfair. Okay, Iīm scared of being rejected. Iīm interested in a very popular guy who happens to not be interested in anything other than working out and gain power. I bet he would think that a girlfriend would only be in his way, and that it wouldnīt be worth spending time with her since he could use that time to train. Still, Akihiko would never hurt someoneīs feelings like that. A sigh leaves my lips. No, I decided to do this so thereīs no backing out now!
"Iīve understood that Akihiko-senpai dislikes sweets so I thought that I should make him something special, you know so heīll be happy." I take a deep breath with a smile growing on my lips. "When we were at a café some days ago he told me he likes pancakes..."
Mitsuruīs eyes widen a fraction and it makes Fuuka look at her. I also wonder whatīs wrong so I stop talking.
"Senpai?" Fuuka questions her.
"He took you to a café?" Mitsuru asks me in a surprised voice.
I nod while wondering why that is such a strange thing to do.
"Thatīs something new. Akihiko rarely visit those kinds of places." Mitsuru loses herself in her thoughts for a moment before she continues to explain. "Cafés are always crowded with girls so he tries to avoid it as much as possible."
"Oh, yeah." I nod as I recall how some girls approached us when we ate cake.
They werenīt happy about that I was with Akihiko all by myself and they even accused me of stealing him after saying that I was Junpeiīs girlfriend. My stomach turns ice-cold at the memory and it makes me regret my decision once again. That probably made me look really bad in his Akihikoīs eyes since he asked me about my relationship with Junpei earlier. I have enough confidence to stand up to those girls but they sure know how to make you feel bad. I can still remember the glares they gave me the first time Akihiko asked me to go out and eat with him. I almost declined because I was so frightened of them. The thing that makes me smile at the memory is the way he took my hand and pulled me away from them. His hand felt so big and warm and I almost wanted to hold on to it longer when he apologized, asking if he had crushed my hand, when we reached the dorm.
"Isnīt that a little risky? Making pancakes for him…" Yukari asks. "Youīre supposed to give chocolate at valentine's day so you might not get the message through to him
"I know but… Iīm not sure if I should… ehm, confess or just say that itīs a present."
"Giving it to him tomorrow will mean you like him. Itīs valentineīs for Godīs sake!" Yukari exclaims loudly.
"I think that sounds like a good idea." Mitsuru tells me with a grin. "After what Iīve heard tonight it seems that you two are closer than I thought."
I look at her with confusion because I have no idea why she is grinning, itīs like sheīs picturing the outcome of me giving Akihiko pancakes in her head. Itīs scary but I truly appreciates what she said.
"You think so? I want to give him something thatīll show him my feelings and I know they wonīt reach him if I give him something he dislikes... so I think itīs worth the risk. Iīll break the tradition and give him pancakes tomorrow!"
"I still think itīs risky but if you give it your all, it might work." Yukari smiles. "Fuuka, what do you think?"
"I think he would be happy to get a present from you." She smiles at me.
I smile at the girls and nods. At first I thought Akihiko was a guy who thought too much about power and gaining strength but as we spent more time together I learned that he has a reason to be like that. He lost someone precious to him due to the lack of strength and itīs bugging him greatly since then. But heīs as lost as us too, not knowing why heīs fighting and if itīs worth it. I was so happy when he told me about Miki, not because of what happened, but that he started to open up to me. Gaining his friendship and trust was hard and I still wonder if we are as close as I think we are. He is precious to me in a way no one except my parents have been and I donīt want to lose him.
"Donīt worry, Akihiko wouldnīt turn his back on you." Mitsuru tells me but I wonder if sheīs correct.
I smile and nod even though Iīm not certain. Iīm always confident when fighting shadows but I canīt say Iīm that positive when love is concerned. I know that Akihiko can fight them off easily but Iīm not sure he can love me or if he would want to. Yukari and Fuuka bake some wonderful looking chocolates and I canīt help but want to taste them. Yukari is strict though and tells me itīs for the guys and not for me. I laugh. The two of them are planning to give everyone a piece of chocolate in the morning before school since itīll probably be hard to give them their gift at school or after. Weīre still going to Tartarus after all; my orders. We still need to clear some more floors before we can relax for some days.
"Donīt stay up too late." Mitsuru tells me as itīs my turn to use the kitchen.
"Good night, you guys!" I tell them as Yukari, Mitsuru and Fuuka goes to bed.
"Youīre staying Aigis?"
"Yes, my mission is to protect you." She answers.
Aigis watches over me in silence as I start to prepare the pancakes. I make sure to not use as much sugar as I normally would because I know he wouldnīt like that. I smile to myself as I crack the eggs open and let the interior fall into the bowl. Iīm not a great cook but I do know how to make pancakes. Iīve been living on my own since my parents died so I had to learn how to prepare food to myself because cup-ramen isnīt the beat meal out there. I let it fall down into the frying pan and I enjoy the scent of it. When theyīre all done I put some cream and jam between and cut it to the proper size. I put the cake in a small red box and tie a white ribbon around it.
"Itīs done!" Iīm content.
"Weīre back!" Junpei shouts from the entrance.
My body trembles at the sudden sound and I almost drop the box. Iīm able to hide my gift before they appear in the room and I sigh with relief. That was a close call!
"Welcome back." Aigis tells them in her indifferent voice.
"You have been making something?" Shinjiro asks me with a frown. The kitchen is his territory, not mine.
"Yeah, I got hungry." I chuckle.
"You know itīs not good for girls to eat this late." Junpei smirks at me. "Youīre not afraid of becoming fat?"
"Hey!" I shout at him. "You jerk. Iīm not, because Iīm exercising unlike you!"
"Ouch! Minako-chan, you sure know how to hurt my feelings." Junpei laughs. "Well Iīm off to bed.īNight."
"Oya sumi." I mutter. "Eh, why go to bed this early?" I add.
Junpei is the kind of person who stays up all night to play video games so itīs unusual for him to go to bed this early.
"Itīs valentineīs day tomorrow!" He smiles broadly. "Itīll go faster if I go to bed earlier."
"Hn." Shinjiro snorts before he turns to me. "Make sure to clean up."
"Iīm expecting some chocolate from you tomorrow Minako-chan." Junpei shouts from the stairs before he disappears.
Iīm busy glaring at Junpei so I donīt notice how Ken and Akihiko approaches me. Ken seems to be curious about what I ate while I canīt read the older guyīs expression at all. My cheeks turn a little red as the silver haired young man looks at me and I try to act as normal as possible.
"Did you have a nice time?" I ask him.
"Yeah." Akihiko smirks. "It was a good movie."
"I agree." Ken nods as he takes a glass of water. "The heroine was really cool when she took that, did that and—" He explains.
"Ooh sounds sweet, maybe I should check it out? Hey Ken, itīs time for you to go to bed." I smile at him gently.
"Aww man." Ken complains loudly.
Akihiko and I smile as Ken glares at us before he also goes to bed after taking another glass of water. Itīs nice to have someone like Ken around, someone young who hasn't lost that imagination… But being a child doesnīt change that he also has a dark past. My smile fades a bit.
"You should go to bed too, you look tired." Akihiko tells me. "We have school tomorrow…and Tartarus if I am right?"
"Correct, we need to go deeper into the tower before I can allow you guys to rest."
"Count me in." He smirks with excitement and I canīt help but giggle. "Now, sleep tight."
A deep breath leaves my lips as Iīm finally alone in the lounge at last. Or not alone because Koro-chan is watching me carefully; he knows something is up. I kneel down to pat him gently. Dogs understand human emotions better than we do, I presume, as I let him lick the jam off my fingers.
Everyone gathers around the table in the longue the next morning and a certain Junpei is thrilled about the surprise Yukari mentioned earlier. He smirks broadly as he watches how Fuuka arrives with a large box in her hands, she looks slightly nervous.
"Ehm, we girls made these for you yester day." She tells them quietly. "For all of you."
Junpei looks disappointed, it seems he thought it was for him only. But heīs quick to return to his cheerful self.
"Sweeet~!!" Junpei shouts as he sees the chocolate. " A valentineīs gift this early in the morning? I must be a lucky man."
"Stupei, itīs for everyone, not just you." Yukari corrects him once more as she takes the box from his hands and gives it to Ken.
"Uhm, thanks!" The youngest in SEES nods with a smile.
"So this is why it smelled so funny when we got home." Shinjiro mutters. He accepts the chocolate but he doesnīt seem to be all that happy about receiving it.
"Oh, it did?" Yukari glances my way. "Donīt you want one, Shinjiro-senpai?"
"Iīll eat it later." He glances at Fuuka.
I notice that Akihiko is nowhere to be found.
"Ehm where is Akihiko-senpai?" I ask Shinjiro.
"He went out for a run." Shinjiro answers. "His first lesson is PE so he wanted to warm up before entering the boxing ring, that idiot."
"That sounds just like him." I chuckle but Iīm silently disappointed.
When am I supposed to give him my gift? I look on the floor while biting my lip before I walk into the kitchen. The sound of Junpei and Yukariīs arguing fades as I shut the door behind me. Why did he have to take an early run today? I look at the red box I was supposed to give him. The color fades from my face and I get even paler as I head to school.
Walking to school has never been this hard before and all the fact that all the girls talks about their crushes and chocolate doesnīt make it any easier. I want to turn around and run back to the station, enter the dorm and hide in my room for the rest of the day. The box in my bag feels like a big stone that gets heavier for each step Iīm taking.
"You look pale, are you alright?" Junpei asks me.
It seems that he has been talking to me for a while without me noticing it.
"Huh?" I wasnīt listening. "Yeah, just tired."
"You sure? " He seems concerned. "Maybe you should rest and re-think about going to Tartarus tonight. I mean, we donīt want ya fainting on us."
"Iīm fine." I smile at him.
"Hmm? Okay, I trust ya. " He smirks. "By the way, do you know who Yukari made chocolate to?"
"Didnīt she share it with you?"
"Not really, she gave a piece to all the guys at the dorm… " He complains.
Something changes in his expression as he notices some girls walking our way and he is quick to shove me away from him.
"Donīt take this personal but youīre ruining my chance at getting chocolate."
"Oh, so Iīm a bother now. Well see you in class." I snort at him playfully.
Junpei is a nice guy even though he is a pervert. I like him and treasure his friendship a lot so I know he doesnīt mean anything with what he said earlier. But it would have been good to talk to him so I donīt have to think about the red box weighting me down. I sigh deeply as I enter the school by myself. Akihiko tends to hang out on the rooftop after boxing practice so I should go there after the first period. My stomach turns as I take my seat close to the window. I feel sick but I know itīs only due to my own nervousness.
Pull yourself together, Minako! I tell myself as the lesson starts
The lesson ended as quickly as it started and I find myself walking through the corridor towards the stairs to the roof with a blood red box in my hands. My heart is beating quickly in my chest as I notice how several other girls do the same. Iīm not the only one who thought of giving my gift at this time and it makes me freak out somewhat. And someone calls out to me just as I feared; itīs one of those girls who I met on the café the other day. The one that accused me of wanting two boyfriends.
"Minako-san." The voice is ice-cold.
"Oh, hello." I answer in a pretend indifferent tone.
"What are you doing?" The girl looks at the box. "You thinking of giving that to Akihiko-senpai, arenīt you?"
My body freeze and my heart stops beating for a moment. She already knows of my plan and the way she looks at me tells me she doesnīt like it one bit. I would have been able to keep my cool if I werenīt already nervous about my gift so I canīt help but tremble under her ominous gaze. The girl brought two of her friends, or supporters, and the two of them looks at me strangely.
"Youīre stealing him from us!" One of them complains. "You already have Junpei, right? And that scary looking guy who always skip class!"
My red eyes widen at this because Iīm thinking that their taking the joke too far. Now theyīre even involving Shinjiro. Iīve never understood why fan girls are this mean. Arenīt they supposed to treasure the one they like? Not acting like heīs some possession no one else can be around. My surprise fades as I start to glare back at the girls.
"Iīm not stealing anyone, heīs not a thing someone can posses!" I tell them loudly.
I decide to ignore them as I pass them by in the corridor but a strong hand grabs my wrist and keeps me from going to the roof. Red eyes glare at the girl holding me but I get no chance to react when one of the two other girls takes the box from my hand. A quiet gasp leaves my slightly opened lips as I watch how she looks at it with disgust show on her face. This is getting way out of hand!
"You know what we mean." The girl glares at me and shrugs her shoulder. "And now youīre thinking of giving senpai chocolate?"
The girl unties the ribbon and opens the box, probably while coming up with an insult, but her eyes widen as she sees that Iīve not made chocolate but pancakes instead.
"What--, itīs pancakes?" One girl utters in disbelief.
"Were you thinking of giving Akihiko-senpai pancakes instead of chocolate? How stupid is that!"
My red eyes widen as the girl throws the box at the floor. The box flies open and the interior falls out to cover the corridor. The pancakes are all ruined and dirty but the girl doesnīt seem to think that is enough because she steps on them too. I canīt do anything but stare as they assault my gift as the sadness and anger build up inside of me.
"Why did you do that?" I murmur as the girl stops.
"To show you your place!" She yells at me loudly.
"You have no right to do that!" I yell back at her.
I push the girl who has my wrist in an iron grip as I try to get away from her. I need to get my gift back even though itīs completely ruined buy now. I canīt let them have it, I canīt let Akihiko see it in this state. What would he think of me if he saw the gift and me being all violent? He would think Iīm like them; a girl who is all obsessed with him. I donīt want that! The girl glares at me and I thought she would hit me for a moment but the person we are fighting over arrives. I want to faint, I want to vanish from the surface of earth.
"Oh there he is!"
"Akihiko-senpai!" The girls squeal loudly.
"Akihiko…" I murmur quietly to myself as I look away.
It doesnīt take long until the boxing loving teen is surrounded by fans who wants to give him their small colorful package with chocolate. He looks bothered by the commotion, the eyebrow covered with a plastic moves as he frowns as a girl literally shoves her gift into his hands. I can feel how his eyes look my way but all I can think of is my own embarrassment. Why did I try so hard when I knew that it was impossible from the start? Why did I fall in love with a guy that already is loved by so many? I shouldnīt have bothered because…Iīve no time for romance, not now when the dark hour is still present… Tears well up but I fight them as I turn my back to Akihiko and I run away. No, m fleeing. Akihiko notices me as I run by and he turns as he tries to face me.
"Minak--" Akihiko looks at my back as I run down the corridor. He looks surprised.
"Akihiko-senpai!! Please accept our chocolate!!"
"Er—" Akihiko looks bothered as heīs forced to focus on his fangirls.
So he decides to ignore their kya kya kya screams. His bothered expression vanishes as he notices the mess on the floor. A deep frown covers his pale face as he makes his way through the crowd of girls until he stands in front of the destroyed gift.
"What happened here?" Akihiko asks them in a cautious voice as he kneels down to touch the box, red jam sticks to his fingers. He put the fingers under his nose. Eyes widen.
"That klutz dropped her valentineīs gift!" One of the girls chuckles, she is clearly lying.
Akihiko looks at the girl who talked with slightly wide eyes. It takes some time before he realizes who she refers to. The frown on his face deepens as he focuses on the gift. Itīs several pancakes, carefully cut into a nice shape with cream and some jam added as decorations. Itīs all ruined but he can clearly see how much time it took to prepare it. He doesnīt know why but his heart aches at the sight of it. A memory appears inside of his head.
"I dislike sweets, it felt like I was eating sugar cubes…but, I like pancakes."He told her, why he didnīt know.
"Pancakes?" Minako repeated while she looked at him with a gentle smile.
"You think that is strange?" He asked her in a slightly embarrassed manner. The answer was important to him.
Minato giggled. "No, pancakes are delicious… letīs eat that next time. But honestly, why did you take me to a café if you dislike sweets?"
"Ehm…" Akihiko hesitate, not daring to look her in the eye. "I heard that girls really like that place…"
The memory of his last date with Minako makes Akihiko realize what just happened. Minako was about to give him this box with pancakes. A small but noticeable blush appears on his cheeks for a moment before it fades when he also understands that these girls did this to her. His body turns tense and rigid as he gets to his feet again. The scent of her pancakes is overwhelming, it makes his mouth water.
"Iīm sorry but I canīt accept your gifts." He tells them in a cold voice. "I dislike sweets, Itīll ruin my training."
"Oh..! Sorry we didnīt know—"
"It seems that you know nothing about me, huh?" He snorts as he turns to leave.
"Akihiko-senpai? Why canīt he be more friendly…"
The TV is the only source of light in my room but I still canīt focus on the news. Itīs the same thing as always; new victims of the apathy syndrome are appearing out of nowhere. My eyes darken as I lean against the wall behind me. Itīs soon time to go to Tartarus but Iīm not looking forward to it at all. When I go I have to fight side by side with Akihiko and I can already feel the tension growing between us.
But what if Iīm just exaggerating things? He might not even understand that it was my gift and what I meant with it, I mean heīs really dense when love is concerned after all. I sigh once again as I force myself out of my bed to turn off the TV and head down to the others. Theyīre probably already waiting for me.
"Minako-chan, there she is!" Fuuka smiles at me as I enter the lounge. "Did you take a nap?"
"Yeah, it was a long day."
"Are you sure we should go to Tartarus?" Mitsuru asks me, probably wondering if Iīm too tired to fight.
"Donīt worry, I drank some coffee too." I force myself to smile."Iīm soon in hyper-mode!"
Ken laughs at me since he has seen me in that mode before. It was when I tried to make him drink coffee with me but ended up being all hyped up due to it. Koromaru barks happily at me and Ken and I lean down to touch his white fur. Iīm doing everything in my might to act normal but I unconsciously tries to avoid Akihiko at the same time. Fuuka talks as we all prepare to head to the school to fight the shadows and she informs us of the changes in the tower.
"I need to talk with you." Akihiko tells me suddenly.
I glance his way before I keep on walking.
"Weīll talk later. The dark hour begins any second now." I answer in a way that makes him unable to complain.
Akihikoīs eyes widen as he watches me walk a head of him and he stays back without realizing it. Mitsuru, who watched him, approaches the said teen with concern.
"Akihiko." Mitsuru utter his name.
Akihiko looks at Mitsuru and she understands that something indeed has happened. The silver haired male shrugs his shoulders as he exhales loudly.
"Itīs time to crush some shadows!" He exclaims, returning to his usual self.
Itīs Sunday and Iīm extremely restless. I had plans with Rio but she called yesterday to say that something came up and that she couldnīt meet me today. Itīs probably something about that Kenji again. Why is love so difficult? I pout as I roll over to my back. A sudden noise breaks the silence. I grab my phone and answers with a hopeful voice, maybe Rio changed her mind?
"Moshi moshi, is it you Rio?"
"Hey… eh, itīs Akihiko though."
" Are you free today? Or were you expecting a call from someone else?"
"Eh… Yeah." I answer hesitantly. "I was supposed to hang out with Rio but she canceled, so Iīm free, I guess."
"Get ready and meet me in the lounge in ten, I want to take you somewhere."
And Akihiko hangs up. Crimson eyes stares at my phone for a while before I put it down. I guess itīs time to get over what happened on valentineīs day. I donīt understand how I could act that immature… I frown.
I smile at him as we meet downstairs and he murmurs a quiet "Hey.." and smiles back. I donīt feel uncomfortable as we head out. He starts talking about his boxing practice in a very passionate manner and it makes me relax. It seems that he doesnīt want to ask me about my strange behavior nor mention the gift. Iīm able to smile sincerely at him again and I laugh as he tells me about how he punched another senpai who tried to act though. No one beats Akihiko in the ring and no shadow has come close to do that either.
He takes me to the café we visited together some weeks ago and I canīt help but look at my surrounds since I feel that the girls from school can show up any time now. Iīm able to calm down after some time though and I order a cup of coffee and a slice of a strawberry cake. The coffee makes me feel a lot better. Iīm sitting with the warm cup in my hands as I regard how Akihiko eats in silence. Something about the slow way he tastes what he ordered makes me realize that heīs really enjoying it. His eyes sparkle and a smile is there on his quite thick and soft-looking lips. I find myself staring at his mouth and is quick to avert my gaze.
"Delicious." He murmurs.
"Does it taste that good?" I ask him.
"Yeah but Iīm sure that your pancakes would have been even tastier." He tells me bluntly.
I flinch and look at the plate in front of Akihiko. He has indeed ordered pancakes but itīs not his plate that surprises me, itīs the fact that he mentions my gift. Or I think he does. I look at him while I feel how my heart beat quickens.
"W-what did you say?" I stutter.
"Y-you prepared some for me the other day… right?" He smiles gently.
I canīt find my words as Akihiko looks down in embarrassment. He glances my way but doesnīt seem to be able to look me in the eyes. It makes my heart skip a beat before it starts beating at the speed of a train again. I can feel how blood rushes to my head but the warmth fades just as quickly when the memory of my destroyed valentineīs gift appears in my head.
"So you saw." I scratch my head in embarrassment. "They got ruined sadly."
"Mm…" He nods slowly before a small blush suddenly appears on his cheeks. "S-so I was wondering if you…would like to make pancakes for me some other day? Like this Tuesday."
My eyes widen even more as I understand his request and I canīt help myself; I stare at him for a long time. He meets my eyes for a second before he averts his gaze and thatīs when it hits me. If I managed to give him my gift he would have been happy, thatīs why he wants to give me a second chance to give it to him.
"You want me to cook for you?" I ask him with a smile growing on my lips.
"Y-yeah…" He returns the smile with one of his own.
My face turns completely red. "Ehm…Etto…Ano…" I murmur without finding any words to use. "I think…I could do that."