C r e a m S o d a

:chapter 9/ Love Skeptics and Cynics:

We pulled apart in time to see the shocked expression on Jun's face. Something in her gaze was hard and almost accusing as she looked at me. Her eyes lingered on Kyohei's frazzled hair, my swollen lips, and then her eyebrows rose drastically.

I felt myself blush at the fact that my t-shirt had risen up significantly and bared my too-white tummy for the world to see.

"Suki. There's a final call for the models to gather together for a group photo. You should come with me." Jun seemed to be choosing her words carefully, as if not quite sure of herself.

Kyohei bent down and pressed a kiss to my temple lightly, disregarding Jun's presence I could sense her prying eyes and allowed a weak grin to grace my face.

"I'll be back soon," my voice sounded a bit too low for my liking. God- to think that I, Suki, had a bedroom voice. I coughed indiscreetly.

"Let's go. We don't have too much time," Jun's hand clamped around my wrist none too lightly and yanked me out of the door.Without looking back at me, she continued to drag me through the maze also known as backstage.

"Miss, you have a lot of explaining to do," she bit through her teeth. "But first, fix your hair. For god's sake, you look like you were just making out for hours."

I tactfully refrained from reminding her that I had just been making out with someone. That little thought grew like a secret bubble within me. I, Suki Okita, had been engaging in tonsil hockey with one of the most attractive upperclassman at our school. I almost wanted to smack myself to make sure I wasn't completely dillusional.

"Dame, Suki, you look hot right now," This came from one of the more outspoken male models. I'd forgotten his name but remembered him faintly as the one whom girls coined 'blessed with an angel's face but a devil's personality'.

I felt my face warm and didn't know where to look so I ended up looking at my feet.

"Yeah- you look like someone who's been-" He shut up abruptly. From the corner of my eye, I caught the withering glare Shin had sent him. Did he suspect something? As I glanced around, I realized that all the models had congregated. The mastermind of our show waved at us to move in closer. He had a camera in one hand and was grinning widely from ear to ear.

"Say 'That's hot'" Mika's green hair bobbed enthusiastically.

Some of the male models visibly blanched.

"Are we Paris Hilton clones?"

After photos, Shin cornered me not too subtly.

"Where were you?" He looked at me with hooded eyes, trying to cover up the unease in his voice.

I didn't say anything at first. Then I drew in a breath and looked up at him with a fake smile.

"What are you getting so worked up about? If you wanted to know where I was- I was snogging my boyfriend senseless in the dressingroom."

I wanted to say that Shin looked injured but his words were harsh and contradicted his eyes: "What the fuck? Carp eyes, do you think that just because you had piles of makeup slabbed on and made a couple people ooh and ahh for a couple of minutes, you're suddenly loved by everyone? Who do you think you are? I'm getting worked up? Look at yourself! Do you think you're a girl everyone loves all of a sudden? The It Girl? Why would I care what you were doing?"

Stung, I stepped back slightly. Shin continued his tirade, his grey-blue eyes flashing mercilessly, "You're just a weirdass girl with no people skills and awakened slutty tendencies to jump the first decent looking guy that comes your direction." With each word, his voice increased in volume and got shriller.

I smiled brokenly. So this was how he saw me? Not as a girl before but now a slut?

"Wow, it's kind of funny now you call me a slut when you don't even treat me like a girl. And...at least I know who I am. I'm weird and people are scared of me. At least I'm not a hypocrite who's more moody than a girl on PMS."

I tried to keep my voice indifferent and under control, adopting Tori's trademark snarkiness. "What is your problem? You're always harping on me about Kyohei-"

All of a sudden, his hands were gripping my shoulders tightly, nails digging into my shirt and his mouth on mine, rough and brusque. It wasn't a polite kiss but steeped in rage. I tore myself away from him. Glaring into his eyes, I spat out,

"You're despicable! How dare you call me a slut when you keep kissing me randomly? I don't know about you but when I kiss, I mean it."

"You kissed Kyohei." His grey blue eyes wavered and then he closed them, almost as if he wished I disappeared.

"Because I like him!" I was on the verge of shrieking.

"You don't like me?" I'd never seen Shin with such a vulnerable expression before. Bright clear eyes tainted with-with what? I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Realizing that one of his hands was still wrapped around my wrist, I gently pried away from his grip.

Sighing, I smiled ruefully, "No. Not right now. Not when you're an asshole."

"Is that what you think of me?" His voice was soft, barely audible. I wanted to scoff. Just minutes ago, he had been hissing insults and blackening my reputation and now he was acting like the victim of unjustified abuse? That was it. I really let him have it.

"You confuse the hell out of me. You're hot and cold. You do something but say something else. I never know what you mean and what you don't really mean but you say you mean. You say that I'm a friend and then you could and then fluster me with your teasing. You can't expect me to always know the difference. Call me stupid. Call me thickheaded but I deal much better with honesty and straightforwardness."

"You really like him that much?" I made sure to avoid his steady gaze and a lie fell out of my mouth.


Without another word, he left. I thought about it later and wondered if I would've done things differently.

We didn't talk at all that day. When I came home, Shin had already barricaded himself in his bedroom and I could hear was Korean techno blaring through the thin walls. I didn't mind not seeing his face. At least it would temporarily avoid the awkwardness that definitely sprung up.

As I pulled a small pint of Haagen Daz's from the fridge, Tori's voice nearly made me drop my spoon.

"Did you guys get in a lovers' quarrel?"

"No," I snapped and viciously yanked the lid off the ice cream box.

"Then why are you both moping around and acting emo? Not to mention snapping unjustifiably at a ridiculously handsome young man named Tori?" He asked in a completely straight face.

That peacock. I narrowed my eyes at him. Not only was he a hundred times more vain than me, he was also unforgivingly nosy.

"Ask him. He's the one acting like he's on constant PMS," I cast a dark glower in the direction of Shin's room. "Thank god we only have a few weeks with him left. I think I'd kill him myself otherwise."

"You really don't know what's wrong?" my younger sibling probed. He reached around me to grab a bottle of vitamin water from the fridge.

"He's the one that's in the wrong," was the best retort I could muster.

Eyeing me defeatedly, Tori took a swig of his drink and then shook his head. "Sometimes girls are unbelievably thickheaded."

"Problems with your lovergirl?" I quickly pounced on an opportunity to rid myself of the conversation at hand.

Tori's expression darkened and answered tartly, "We're in a wonderful healthy relationship in which we have mastered the art of communication and are completely open to each other. Some people who are older and supposedly wiser have yet to accomplish that."

Was that a personal jibe? I wrinkled my brow.

"Are you talking about me?" I stabbed my spoon into my mouth. "Wah seh heh doo you mean?"

He sent me a look of utter disbelief and left it at that.


I eyed the place skeptically. It was...for lack of other words...very cute. Pink seersucker tablecloths fringed with lace and set on top of black satin. Instead of the Princess Princess effect, the owner of the café added a dash of cheeky attitude with black peeking in between the pink. The waitresses were decked out in black Gothic Lolita dresses complete with striped stockings and bondage boots.

"Pururu Café" I glanced down at the name emblazoned on the teacup.

Kyohei grinned a Cheisure smile at me and clinked his teacup against mine. He called me out and I, only too glad to get out of the house and away from Shin, quickly agreed. Glancing around me however, I was beginning to have second thoughts. I didn't like the gloss and glitter of this place. Not to mention the alarming concentration of lovey-dovey couples.

The courage- or perhaps demon that possessed me to ravage Kyohei's lips was long gone. It left behind the soft shell of a wary girl decked in skinny jeans, a black sweater, and a baseball hat drawn low over her face.

"Are we really a couple? If you're taking me to such a place..." my voice trailed off and my question hung in the air, almost beckoning Kyohei to answer it.

"Hn?" He seemed to be not paying attention as a waitress came and he rattled off a list of baked confectionaries.

"I mean, what are we?"

"Whatever you want me to be."

I was getting seriously irked. This boy was so vague at times that I wanted to give him a good shaking.

"Do you like me?" I peered at him beneath my lashes and fiddled around with the hem of the tablecloth.

"I thought we already went through this. You amuse me." There he goes again...

"I mean-"

"I know you're trying to fit us into a category but considering that we're people who can't fit into categories, why make our relationship fit? I like you- I don't know how much you think qualifies the boyfriend status. I'll be excruciatingly blunt with you- I'm not head over heels for you. I'm not the type of guy who really buys into the whole romance crap. But you really interest me. You always entertain me. And I think you like me well enough- don't you?"

"Y-yes, but don't friends also like each other?"

He tilted his head to one side, almost mock-inquisitively and then in a movement that was astonishingly fluid, his face was mere centimeters from mine.

Thump. Thump Traitorous hormones. I already knew without looking in a mirror that a furious blush had taken over my face. I almost fell over at his next comment.

"Do you like it when I kiss you?"

"WHAT?" I barely managed to splutter.

"I'm serious."

"Um...yeah." I said in a meek little voice that was not very becoming of me. This was Suki Okita! Feared witch girl of Class 2-A. How could she be stuttering and turning into an idiotic fool because of one extremely forward bespectacled young man?

His glasses glinted and then he pulled back.

"There we go then. We like each other enough and you like it when I kiss you. I don't see anything wrong with us dating."

"What happens when we don't like each other?" I purposely avoided looking into his face. I didn't know what to expect nor did I want to catch sight of anything that I was not ready for. Though I may fool myself into thinking that he would be affected, I was ready to bet that I was probably wrong.

"When you get bored or when you want to date someone else, just tell me." He fingered a crimson bang that was longer than the rest. "When we started this relationship, I told you that I didn't want you to take it too seriously. When you're unhappy or when it becomes a nuisance, we can break it off."

Maybe it was good. I didn't have to suffer the symptoms of adolescent angst that often came attached with high school relationships and had the benefits of a goodlooking and attentive boyfriend. It seemed like a win-win situation- like he said, I could break it off whenever.

Which was kind of why even I was perplexed by my sudden outburst.

"When you're unhappy, tell me too."

Kyohei froze and a nameless look came into his hazel eyes. They clouded over for a second and it was as if I wasn't really standing in front of him. As if he was envisioning something, someone completely different in my stead.

"I haven't been not unhappy in a while." His voice was so low that I wasn't sure if he spoke at all. Then he added in a warmer voice, "But you make it a bit less unhappy."

Tilting my head to one side, I asked a question that had been knowing at me for a while.

"Am I really your type of girl? I'm surprised because most guys would rather run away before holding an actual conversation with me. You're dating me and doing all the normal couples' stuff. I must really entertain you for you to have kept me for this long. " I bit my lip in nervousness, awaiting the words that would tumble out of Kyohei's mouth.

What was the worst? That my parents paid him to go out with me? That Shin was secretly his long time rival and dating me was a way to get back at Shin? I cringed at my absurd fantasies. And when the hell did Shin crawl his way into my mind again? I scowled, the image of his face swimming in my mind put me in a bad mood.

My crimson-haired boyfriend merely smiled widely at me and patted my head affectionately.

"I've always been drawn to women with dark auras. You really intrigued me at first and I couldn't help but be drawn into your charms."

I wasn't quite sure how to take that. Dark aura? Check. Charms? What feminine wiles did I possess that managed to convince Kyohei to maintain a relationship with me? My chest was pretty much nonexistent and my face (objectively speaking) pretty at best. Surely with Kyohei's stature and ruggedly good looks he could do better.

"What charms?" I deadpanned.

He laughed again and clucked me under the chin. Bristling slightly, I forced myself not to bite down on his hand. Patting and clucking me now? I really seemed to resemble one of the canine species more than one of the opposite gender.

"Things like that. And you're good at making me not remember things." His eyes softened slightly and he smiled, a gentle and slow smile that reached his hazel gaze.

I wasn't sure whether or not to take it as a compliment but silently store the fact in a corner of my mind to get him an agenda book. If being in a relationship with him made him forget things, I'd better have things sorted out for him before he dump ed me unceremoniously some day.

"Now that we've started playing 20 questions, my question to you is if you're okay."

"Me?" I blinked widely.

"Yeah, you. You've been acting kind of oddly since the fashion show. Speaking of which, that plum number was pretty hot. You looked kind of vampish in it, " he winked boyishly at me and I attempted to control the blush forming on my cheeks.

"Has Hye been giving you grief over anything?"

I nearly fell over from my boyfriend's acute perception. How did he know what was going through my head so easily?

He continued in a nonchalant voice. "That guy's a character alright. He's a decent fellow though. His heart's always set in the right place but he's not good at expressing it at times."

I snorted. "He's damn good at expression himself. He's definitely good at anything concerning himself."

"You get worked up over him pretty easily. Come to think of it, our relationship started because of a fight you had with him right?" Kyohei mused aloud. "I guess you could even call him our destined matchmaker."

I nearly choked and shook my head furiously. Luckily I was saved by the opportune arrival of our order. The waitress set the tray down and kept sneaking glances at me. I smiled wryly. It was probably to see if I was really a yankee or not. I sighed to myself. Even without looking at my face, people thought I had a violent temperament!

"Um-um...sorry, but my friend and I were wondering if you two were celebrities." The waitress pointed jerkily to another Gothic Lolita clone catering to a couple a few booths away.

"Ah?" Kyohei looked rather amused and I knew my mouth was agape. Inwardly, I seethed. Of course Kyohei was used to being mistaken for a celebrity. His looks could land him on the cover of any magazine. I on the other hand, would probably land on the cover of Biker Chicks or something along the lines of that.

Our waitress, as I took a closer look, was a cute thing with eyes that curved downwards slightly giving her a perpetually sleepy look. Her hair fell past her shoulders in rumpled curls. She was giving me a look of..shocked, I almost choked on the bite of parfait I had taken...awe?

As if knowing she had been caught staring, she blushed profusely and bowed her apologies. "Sorry, I was mistaken. But you're a really good looking couple. The girl's so sophisticated and the guy's so cool. You two really look like you're shooting a music video or something!"

I smiled weakly at the waitress and she nearly swooned.

"Your smile is so pretty! You should smile more! Oh- sorry- I'm forgetting my manners. I'll go and let you enjoy your tea." And then she scuttled off, but not without turning over her shoulder and sneaking a few more steady stares at us.

Rather mortified and discombobulated by the experience as a whole, I tried to act befitting to my 'sophisticated' look and sipped on my tea.

The whole time Kyohei was laughing silently and clutching the edge of the table tightly, tears streaming down his face in mirth. It took all my willpower not to jam my heel into his foot.

That night, I couldn't sleep well. I kept tossing and turning, replying the events of the day in my head.

Kyohei's words resonated in my mind- "I'm not head over heels for you. I'm not the type of guy who really buys into the whole romance crap." Why did those words sound exceedingly familiar?

Then, another voice that was altogether too familiar, higher and more polished in its tone came to my mind: "That silly fantasy of Prince Charming? The knight on a white horse? Those are the stuff of fairy tales. Whimsical figments of imagination, Suki."

I groaned into my pillow. Not only had all the men in my life shattered any pretty notions of romance I had harbored, they were all exceedingly stubborn in their disdain of romance. Not to mention the fact that a certain raven-haired asshole was monopolizing my mind. I tried to sleep it off but I knew that I had to deal with him soon.

Chouchou's Note

/pause/HUZZAH! And I live! I've had a terribly busy summer- in Hong Kong and Shanghai for the first half and then spending the latter doing preview assignments for the fall. For you see, I am going to be a college student! Yes, I've been officially inducted into the realms of the old farts. The ones you see either slaving away in Starbucks or doing drunken acts of debauchery (though in my case, it is most probably the former).

It was a bit difficult slipping back into Cream Soda but I'm determined to finish this sucker. 5 more chapters to go! Please excuse the inconsistency in writing style- my writing of now is a lot more thoughtful and polished than it had been when I started this ficcie. I keep slipping in and out of my present style. I'm attempting to make it as consistent with the rest of the text as possible so please bear with me. ToT Also, did anyone see the reference to MODERN ALICE? Pururu Cafe? xD Oh, and that quote from Shin in the end was from Chapter 3.

Reviews, remarks, and all raving rhetoric-please click the 'review' button! The more feedback, the more motivated I am at churning out the next chapter. :D My plans are to get another chapter out before the summer ends and finish this baby before 2009.