Sprinkleberries and Lollipops
By Knightmare Elite
(Aphrodite Academy Series)
Since I've been 'MIA' since October, I didn't want to leave everyone hanging. I'm trying to finish my Nano story, it's just under 100k words right now. Updates to my other stories are coming, I'm in NJ right now and have VERY limited Internet access. It was hell just to get this story uploaded. Anyway, this is a continuation of the 'Peppermint and Chocolate' story with Shiharu and Tori. As for the full Aphrodite Academy story, it is still going to happen, but I can't say when. I hope you enjoy this little bit of Christmas fluff.
"Pretty pleaseeee!" Tori pled with hands clasped beneath her lips, and enlarging cornflower blue eyes.
Shiharu's eyes flicked to the digital camera dangling on Tori's wrist. "You know, ever since your parents bought you that thing--"
"I know I've taken like a billion pictures of you. All I'm asking is ONE more; you look so cute in your Mrs. Clause outfit," Tori said while sitting next to Shiharu on the bed.
They sat in silence, fingers closing the empty space in shyly affectionate touches. It was three days before Christmas Eve at Aphrodite Academy, and most of the students had gone home for the holidays.
It was Shiharu who frowned at their quaint nature. Over the past year, she and Tori transcended the basic necessities of a friendship. Outside of Caroline, they were inseparable, and it created an awkward acceptance. She frowned looking at her suitcase against the wall. It was cherry red with a golden grim, and on the front, intricate Japanese text woven in golden silk.
This suitcase was a gift from Shiharu's grandparents. While she adored the suitcase, it reminded her of Urumi. Anything prevalently Japanese reminded Shiharu of what once was.
"Are you mad at me?" Tori, after having her fill of the deafening silence, asked.
Shiharu's eyes flicked from the suitcase to Tori's, "No," she whispered and scooted closer, sliding her hand beneath Tori's, "is it silly for me not to want to go home for the holidays?"
A spark raced up Tori's fingers in the skin to skin contact. Her lips spread into a smile and face rose in hues, "It is a long flight to Japan," Tori's eyes gravitated toward Shiharu's lips, and quickly rose for eye contact, "why, don't you want to go home?"
Shiharu uneasily crossed her legs and rested her head on Tori's shoulder, a common gesture. "I was twelve when I came out to my parents. We had a long discussion, and I had a cousin who lived in America. He told my parents about this school, and after a few months of meetings, they enrolled me here. The thing is, when I'm here I don't feel gay. Around my family, I do."
Tori steadily nodded and wiggled her wrist out of the camera strap. "I completely understand. Parents try, and truthfully, some parents put their daughters here because they don't want to deal. Others, because they figured it would be best to live and learn in an accepting, and non ignorant environment. I feel normal here, but I guess that is because everyone's gay."
"Yes, and I appreciate that about Aphrodite Academy. The counselors actually understand our issues, and don't treat us like lesbians," Shiharu agreed.
"The sad part is that no matter how you look at it, we're in a bubble. Once we leave here, we still have to face the world as homosexuals. It's going to suck, Shiharu," Tori gently stroked Shiharu's head in the despairing thoughts.
"If only there were an Aphrodite University," Shiharu sighed as she nuzzled her cheek against Tori's hand.
"That would be nice, but I don't think that's the point. If there was an all lesbian college following this, we would be too coddled as adults. We have to go out on our own and face the world as who we are. That's what the counselors have been telling us, and they're right," Tori said.
Shiharu slowly nodded while sitting upright, her hair, dragging itself across Tori's face. "How do you see yourself ten years from now?"
Tori smirked while setting her camera on the ground. "My mom, she keeps trying to set me up with all these local single girls. I'm glad that she's supportive, but I wish she'd understand, just because I'm gay that doesn't mean I'm attracted to every girl I see. Though I'd like to be married with one kid, and have my master's degree. What about you?"
Shiharu blushed and dreamily stared into the ceiling. "Oh, I'm definitely going to be married before I'm 27. As for my wife, all I can hope for his that she'll love me as much as I'll love her," Shiharu's eyes flicked to Tori in a delicate giggle, "it won't hurt if she's really cute."
"I think that's a general request regardless of orientation," Tori corrected.
Shiharu kicked off her fire engine red heels and wiggled her toes. She casually stood in her thigh high red and white striped socks. It was a weak distraction from her scarlet mini dress with cotton trim. The little Santa hat preserved the integrity of the outfit. Though, according to the student census, the outfit was drool worthy.
"You know, sometimes I think you just like messing with me," Tori groaned. She uneasily shifted on the bed, longingly watching Shiharu smoothing down her skirt.
Shiharu looked back and shook her head. "First prize in the costume party was an iPod touch!" She gleefully held up the device, "you're the one who suggested I should dress like Santa's hot wife!"
Tori sighed and flopped back on the bed, "Ugh, I'll never win!"
"Aw, don't feel like that. …I have something for you," Shiharu hesitantly whispered.
"Hold that thought, I have to pee!" Tori dashed out to the nearest bathroom.
"Why is this so hard?" Shiharu sauntered into her closet, in the back was a small gift wrapped box. She carefully brought it down from the shelf, and returned to the bed with box in hand. "…it will be okay."
"Sorry about that," Tori said, breathlessly, from the door. She inched into the room with a large gift wrapped box. "I know it's early but, Merry Christmas, Shiharu!"
"Thank you Tori," Shiharu said while producing her own gift.
They blushingly exchanged presents, neither willing to open before the other. Shiharu sat on her bed with Tori following suit. Both held the boxes on their laps burning the flame of curiosity.
"You don't have to open it now if you don't want to. I won't be offended or anything," Tori said.
Shiharu's fingers eased the corners of the box. "Let's open them together."
Tori nodded and carefully peeled the tape away, and then lifted the wrapping off the box. After nearly a minute, the box was free and Tori folded the wrapping into a small square. It was laborious, and Tori was mindful of Shiharu's OCD, and unwrapping presents was a sensitive matter.
Shiharu placed her own square of paper opposite Tori's. She lifted the lid and saw a long Tupperware dish. "Oh I swear you're trying to fatten me up!" As Shiharu popped the lid, the aroma of freshly baked deserts filled the room. Shiharu stared at the contents in awe. "Um, what are they?"
"I wanted to make you something really special for your present. So, I racked my brain trying to create what reminds me of you and the ends results is, Sprinkleberries," Tori gleefully explained.
"Sprinkleberries? What are those?" Shiharu asked while lifting out a circular cake.
Tori reached into the dish and held a 'berry' between her fingers. "Sprinkleberries are my latest creation. They're cinnamon sugar spice cake puffs baked extra fluffy, and in the center is filled with gooey chocolate icing and sprinkles. I used food coloring to make them red. Try one! They're totally inspired by you."
"When you put it that way, how can I resist?" Shiharu laughed while biting into a Sprinkleberry, "mmm," her eyes closed and lips moved slight as to savor the taste, "is there such thing as a guilt free desert?"
"I take it you like your present?" Tori asked with a broad smile.
Shiharu nodded and had another. She shyly looked at the still covered box in Tori's hands. "You didn't open yours…"
"Oh, you're right, sorry!" Tori gasped and quickly lifted the lid. She smiled seeing personalized greeting card. The cover was a high resolution picture of a kiss; the one Shiharu gave Tori on her 17th birthday. Caroline happened to be in place with a camera.
Tori opened the card and read the inscription aloud: When my princess left me, you were there. When my heart was broken, you gave me yours, and it was yummy. When my heart finally healed, it already belonged to a special girl. I love you Tori, will you be my girlfriend?" Tori's eyes went wide as she looked at Shiharu in an open mouthed gasp, "wait…do you mean…"
Shiharu scooted over, closing the space between the two and nodded. "You've been more than patient with me all these months. There were times when I thought I would never get over Urumi, and still you stuck by me, selflessly cried with me through all my whining and angry thoughts toward her. I appreciate you Tori, more than you'll ever know."
"I can't believe this is actually happening. I feel so…selfish now. I mean, this is what I wanted all along, and now that it's happening I--" Tori's words regressed to low mumble against Shiharu's lips.
They kissed for well over a minute, both with hands firmly planted on the bed. It wasn't a gesture of modesty, rather a reaction in the spur of the moment progression.
Shiharu pulled back seeing the desire in Tori's eyes. It quickly changed to confusion, and then embarrassment as their eyes met. "You don't have to explain yourself. I want to be your girlfriend; I've fallen in love with you Tori. Or if you need me to say it the traditional way, Tori, I love you."
"You…love me¸" Tori heavily breathed in the blurring image of Shiharu. She reached out to touch the angelic face as her world rushed white.
Shihiru rushed to her fallen love, frantically shaking her. "Tori! Tori! Please, wake up." She leaned over the unconscious brunette whispering pleas of forgiveness. "Please…" Shiharu's lips softly touched Tori's, and even then she felt the magnetism, "…wow."
Tori's eyes slowly opened and she squinted catching a tear drop. "Hi." She sat up with Shiharu's help, and was held within those gentle arms. "Wow, I've never fainted before. I didn't mean to scare you; I guess it was a shock. Here," Tori grabbed Shiharu's hand and pressed it onto her chest, "feel my heart."
Only after Shiharu felt the normalizing heartbeat, did either notice the awkwardness. She quickly removed her hand and sat atop the bed. "So…are we a couple?"
Tori knelt up and climbed atop the bed. She took Shiharu's hand in hers and nodded. "Shiharu, you've known I've always loved you. We've become the best of friends this year, and now we can finally take it to the next level. I finally have my princess," she leaned into Shiharu and they shared their first hug as a couple.
"So now do you understand the other reason I don't want to go?" Shiharu whispered while popping a Sprinkleberry into her mouth.
"Aww," Tori cooed and reached into the dish, "I also made something for your little sister."
Shiharu peered into the dish as Tori's hand vanished within the cakes. It returned grasping the stems of a dozen small lollipops. "Tori, you didn't have to go out of your way like that. Megumi is going to go crazy when she sees these. You even did the noses!"
"Anything for my girlfriend's little sister. Wow, that sounds so awesome. My first girlfriend, I have to tell my parents AND Caroline!" Tori gasped.
Shiharu laughed and unwrapped one of the lollipops. They were molded white chocolate Santa faces, with cherry frosting hats and lips, caramel drop eyes and peppermint noses. She licked about the surface taking in the combined flavors, "With all this sugar, Megumi's going to be even more hyperactive than usual."
"Now that we're officially going out, does that mean I can kiss you whenever?" Tori nervously asked. Her eyes once more gravitated toward Shiharu's lips.
"Of course you can," Shiharu answered, and gave Tori a quick kiss for assurance.
Tori hopped to her feet and took her girlfriend's hands. "Okay, I know this is a few months early and all but, Shiharu, will you go to the junior prom with me?"
Shiharu pulled Tori back to the bed, and plucked a Sprinkleberry from the dish. "Being that I'm your girlfriend, I'm obligated to certain public displays of affection, am I not?" She kissed the Sprinkleberry and fed it to Tori.
"As am I, and is the junior prom one of our PDA's?" Tori asked while nibbling on her treat.
"Of course, and then comes the senior prom. Though, as Urumi harshly taught me, I mustn't look too far ahead when we've still so young," Shiharu said.
"I agree, but I'm still taking you to the prom. Shiharu, I promise you I'm going to be the best girlfriend EVER!" Tori swore.
Shiharu put up her hands and covered the Tupperware dish. "You know it doesn't take a lot to make me happy. Just be there for me like you always have, that's all it takes."
"I better not let the rest of the school hear the secret," Tori smirked.
"So," Shiharu said while stepping closer to Tori, "technically we're dating now, and we don't leave till tomorrow…"
"Are suggesting something naughty, Shiharu Arai?" Tori, while snaking her arms around Shiharu, asked.
"Since ninety percent of the student body is already gone, the rec room is practically deserted. Our first date?" Shiharu suggested.
Tori smiled and ran her fingers through the length of Shiharu's hair. "Want to watch 'The Notebook'? Caroline hates it because she says it's too sappy. It's such a sweet movie!"
"I've never seen it," Shiharu admitted.
"Oh then I must save your deprived soul," Tori insisted while dragging Shiharu out of the room, "I'll go get my DVD. It's going to be great, I hope you don't mind, I'm a crier."
"I don't mind, I'll probably start crying if you do. That tends to happen during movie dates. If anything we can get in some quality cuddling," Shiharu promised in view of their intertwined fingers, "I'll go make popcorn and bring my blanket," Shiharu said.
"I should be so lucky I get to cuddle with Santa's hot wife, who totally wants me!" Tori giggled.
"I may want you but we are nowhere remotely near that stage yet. But I love you regardless. Now let's see if this movie is as sappy as Caroline claims," Shiharu said.
Tori nodded and ran off in the opposite direction. "I'm dating Shiharu, life is effing amazing."
"I'm dating a girl who loves me, life actually can be good," Shiharu thought to herself while entering the rec room. She went straight to the kitchen area and gasped, the large popcorn maker was put into storage. Shiharu frowned as her only option was the tiny popcorn maker. It often burned her slender fingers in loading a second round. "I guess this is one of those 'little things' we're supposed to master. But it hurts!" Shiharu lamented staring at her pale, blemish free fingers.
Very carefully, Shiharu loaded the corn into the machine and added the butter and seasoning. She quickly closed the lid and clapped at not being burned. "Wow, but I shouldn't celebrate yet. I still have to take it out when it finishes." Even with the pending danger, Shiharu long had a fascination with popping popcorn. The loud bursts reminded her of the fireworks in Tokyo.
"I wonder how mom and dad will take my first non Asian girlfriend." Shiharu thought aloud.
"Hopefully, they'll see how happy we make each other. That or they'll be too busy munching on Sprinkleberries to care," Tori said in entrance.
"It shouldn't be an issue, my parents aren't like that. My mom is diabetic, so she can't enjoy your yummy treats. My dad and Megumi will, especially Megumi. She told me about those lollipops you made for her last birthday, she shared them with her class, and they all think you're this famous American chef." Shiharu admitted.
"Seriously," Tori laughed.
"Uh huh, and she'll be ecstatic to get another batch for Christmas." Shiharu jumped when the first kernels popped, "Oh right, the popcorn." She popped the lid and quickly leaned back from the burst of steam, "please don't burn!"
"It'll be okay, I'll eat anything my girlfriend makes," Tori pledged while sampling a buttery kernel, "perfect."
Shiharu blushed and emptied the contents into a large bowl. "You can go set up the movie, I'll clean up here."
"Shiharu?" Tori whispered.
Their lips softly met in the solitude of the rec room, and Tori held her girlfriend as she long dreamed. "I wish we weren't leaving tomorrow."
"It's only for three weeks," Shiharu drearily reminded at the loss of Tori's lips.
"Is it okay if I take a picture of us cuddling? I want to give my mom proof that I'm taken, and make her stop trying to set me up with newbie lesbians," Tori asked as her thumbs rubbed the back of Shiharu's hands.
"Okay, just a few more," Shiharu groaned.
Tori jumped and rapidly clapped her hands. "Goodie! I'll go set up the movie. Thank you Shiharu, this is the best Christmas gift ever!"
"I wouldn't necessarily call it a Christmas present. Though under the circumstances, I guess it qualifies. Tori, I don't want you to feel like you 'earned' this. I honestly fell in love with you, and I'm ready to move on. It would break my heart not to be with you. I don't sound clingy do I?" Shiharu quietly asked while cleaning the popcorn maker.
Tori shook her head and led Shiharu to the couch. "We're entering the slightly awkward, friends becoming more than friends stage. Things might be shaky in the beginning, but I think this vacation will be a good thing."
"How so?" Shiharu asked while sitting on the sofa.
"We just started dating today, and now we're going to be apart for three weeks. Think of that as time to reflect on the past year, and build up anticipation for being together when we get back," Tori, while setting the dish of popcorn on her lap, explained.
Shiharu curled up next to Tori, "you're right. A little more waiting won't kill us, and it will allow both of us to take in the transition without freaking, too much. We can still email each other and IM."
"Of course," Tori instantly agreed while skipping the previews, "ugh, WHY do they try to force us to watch this crap?"
"Because if they put them on the special features no one will watch them," Shiharu deduced.
Tori rolled her eyes and fast forwarded to the main menu, "Oh whatever. Now prepare to see the sweetest movie in history. I've always wanted to watch this with my girlfriend," Tori sniffled.
"Are you crying…already?" Shiharu gasped.
Tori nodded and drew the blanket around their legs. "I can't help it; this movie gets me so emotional. I mean, even if I don't feel that way about guys, I can still totally relate."
"I'll bring back a few of my favorite romance movies. They're in Japanese though, so you'll have to read subtitles," Shiharu, while sliding beneath Tori's arm, offered.
"I wish was fluent in Japanese, and then I could visit Japan with you sometime," Tori sighed.
"That shouldn't stop you, besides, I can translate. I'd feel intimidated having you near all those Japanese school girls, I see how you look at Urumi," Shiharu teased.
"What-ever!" Tori snuggled against Shiharu and pressed play, "Urumi's pretty, but she can't hold a candle to Santa's hot wife!"
"Shut up!" Shiharu laughed, face completely flustered.
Tori gasped and leaned over to the coffee table and set down her camera. She put I ton the timer and quickly rejoined Shiharu on the couch.
"I love you," Tori whispered.
"I love you too," Shiharu whispered back.
The flash went off and they shared a kiss as the movie started.
Merry Christmas to all from Aphrodite Academy!