When I was little, children would make fun of me and said I smelled weird. They would do this while whispering with the small voices, trying to keep me from hearing. Adults would treat me specially because of my background. My grandfather opened a small sweets shop when he was young and slowly changed it into a well-known bakery. My parents work for him and helped open shops across Japan. My Aunt runs the bakery I work in and intends to make me the manager one day. Although I don't want a big position in the company, I still want to bake many different desserts. Because of this I spent most of my time learning and helping my Aunt. Before I knew it, I became a college student who never dated and never had a friend. I tried making a friend once, but that didn't end well. I overheard her talking with her other friends about how she was only my friend because I was the granddaughter of the owner of Nishiyama Baking Co. After that, I put my all into baking and stopped looking around me.
But…was this okay?
No, I knew that this wasn't okay. I have to change…but how? What should I do?
I want to make friends, but I don't want to give up things that I like. I can't help that I smell different. Because I love baking and always around baking, the smell of it became deeply rooted in my body. While it smells nice to me, to people who don't know about baking it's weird and different. Do I have to give it up? That's what I thought until he told me that it was okay.
"It's fine to take your time, you don't have to force yourself to change."
Eh? It's okay? I don't have to give up baking? When he said that, I was extremely happy. He was the first person to tell me that it was fine to stay the way I am and to take my time. My grandfather and parents kept telling me to dress nicely and make friends. But they didn't know that I had already tried that. I didn't want to feel the emptiness and painful feeling of being used again.
Little by little, I found that my surroundings started to change and he was in the center of it. Mei-chan and I found that we had a lot in common. We both love to read books and enjoy looking for new horror novels. She told me about how she always forced herself to fit in with the crowd and then how she slowly started to get tired of it. With that, we became best friends. I really enjoy spending time with her.
After class finished, I intended to head to work, but came upon a scene that I didn't want to see. It was Tamaki and a girl holding on to a bag. I quickly hid around the corner, peaking out to see what was going on.
The girl handed the bag to him, while blushing.
"It's melonpan! I m-made it myself for Tama-kun."
Tamaki didn't say anything for a few seconds. I couldn't see his expression and was curious about what he was thinking.
He raised his hand and slowly took the bag from her. "Thank you." He said.
The girl smiled brightly, her eyes shining. And without saying anything else, she turned around and ran to her friends who were waiting for her at the end of the hallway. Tamaki stood there, waving his hand until they left. When he saw that there were no longer there, he dropped his hand and walked towards the trashcan by the wall. Holding up the bag with the melonpan, he threw it in the trash.
My eyes widened at this. I intended to confront him about it, but I hesitated. What right did I have to tell him that what he did was wrong? What am I to him? As I hesitated, a hand came out of nowhere and hit him on the head.
"Idiot! I thought you changed, but it seems like I was wrong."
"Ouch, you didn't have to hit me!" He said, holding the spot she hit. When she glared at him, he looked away from her and mumbled. "It's not that easy to change." She sighed and then finally smiled and gave in. After that, they started talking cheerfully, laughing.
Grabbing the place where my heart made a weird sound, I whimpered. It was that unpleasant feeling again…from seeing them together. This happened before and Tama already explained things to me. Then why, why I was feeling this way again? I thought I just felt left out...but was it something else? I hated it. Feeling this way. They are my friends and yet, to think I was feeling this unpleasant beating again.
Could it be…?
"Aya-chan?" A familiar voice called out. It was Tamaki! Mei-chan turned to look where Tamaki was looking. Before they could come over, I turned around and ran away in embarrassment.
How embarrassing! Could it be that he knows that I heard him getting confessed to?
It's been two months since Tamaki started working at the same bakery as me, but every time we talked with each other, it ended up being something about work. It was awkward. At times I couldn't help find myself blushing around him and being entranced when he worked seriously. Something inside kept repeating, 'I want to know more about him.'
I opened the back door of the shop and went to the locker room to change clothes. Before making it to the kitchen, I smelled something different. It was a bit strong…and sweet at the same time. My Aunt was taking something out of the oven.
My Aunt's name is Hinako, and is my Dad's little sister. She hates when anyone calls her Oba-chan. She also dislikes it when I call her Hinako-san and keeps pestering me…and everyone else she knows to call her 'Hina-chan'. According to her, Oba-chan and Hinako makes her feel old even though she's only forty-two years old. I found it too awkward and we finally compromised.
"Hinako-chan, what did you make?" I looked over her shoulder to see something green and round. "Eh?"
"I call it Matcha Melonpan." She replied, with her hands on her hip, proud of her newest work.
Melonpan?! My eyes twitched. Was this for real? Why did it have to be today?!
"Well of course it is. It's made out of matcha after all."
Matcha is a type of green tea powder and not many like it, saying that's it is bitter or that it has a weird taste. But I think it depends on how you use it. The green in Aunt's melonpan really stood out. Green…I started to think about the incident earlier with Tamaki, about how he was confessed to and about the close relationship he has with Mei-chan.
My Aunt pushed me to the side and scorned me. "Silly girl, why are you daydreaming while looking at my work of art? It'll go bad if you continue to look at it like that. Go out front and get ready to work."
I pouted. "It won't go bad!" I stomped out of the kitchen and after preparing everything stood behind the cash register.
A few minutes later, Tamaki clocked into work. Throughout the rest of the day, I refused to look at him in the eyes and made sure not to come into contact with him. When there was one hour left until closing time, Tamaki grabbed my hand, pulling me to the back of the store where my Aunt was working. He took off his and my apron.
"We're getting off early today!" Without waiting for a reply, he pushed open the door, leaving my Aunt dumbfounded.
"Wait! What are you doing?!" I yelled at him. The people passing by glanced at us in curiosity.
"You've been acting weird all day. That's why I'm going to take you somewhere to get some answers out of you."
My eyes widened in surprise. He noticed?!
"T-that's…" Before I could continue, he suddenly stopped walking and because of this I ran into his back. "Ouch…my nose." I mumbled. I looked over to see what was wrong, to find Tamaki staring at someone in front of him. I narrowed my eyes, trying to see who it was.
"Why are you here?" Tamaki asked, his voice deeper than usual.
"I haven't heard from you for a while."
"Humph, that's why you ambushed me at where I work?"
"Kazuya-san!" I said out loud without meaning to. I quickly covered my mouth when they both turned to look at me.
"Are you on a date?" Kazuya asked.
"No!" Tamaki and I answered simultaneously, surprising each other. Tamaki glared at me and I turned away to avoid his eyes.
"Is that so? Then come out to eat with me."
"No…" Before Tamaki finished, I interrupted. "With pleasure!" He glared at me again. "You have to spend some time with your family." I mumbled. He sighed and reluctantly agreed. "Fine, but she has to come with us."
"Okay. Let's go." Kazuya walked towards his car and got inside, waiting for us.
Tamaki pulled me with him again as I struggled. "Why do I have to go to?" I asked him.
"You're the one who suggested it. Take responsibility."
Giving in, I got in the car. During the half hour drive the silence was awkward that I could even hear myself breathing. What should I do? Should I say something? No. In the first place, it's already awkward between me and Tamaki. How can I fix things between them? Even though they are no longer against each other, it seems they still haven't spent much time together. When we finally reached the restaurant, I breathed a sigh of relief.
But that relief only lasted a short while. The restaurant was a high-specialty restaurant which was famous for its service. It didn't make me nervous or surprise me that Kazuya and Tamaki were able to get a private space for them…but that private space was what made it even more uncomfortable. To break the silence, I decided to step in and with courage start a discussion.
I talked about Tamaki's new novel, which had a different style and didn't focus completely on horror. There was some romance and also friendship included in the novel. Kazuya enthusiastically discussed the book with me and during the whole time, I could feel Tama glaring at me.
What? Did I do something wrong? I started to sweat with nervousness and found it difficult to continue smiling. Ahahaha…what should I do? Before I knew it, Tamaki once again grabbed my hand and quickly stood up.
"What are you doing?" Kazuya asked indifferently.
"We're leaving!" He replied angrily.
"Eh?" I called out, startled.
He pulled my hand and ran out of the restaurant. After running for a while he started to slow down and walk on the sidewalk, filled with people. We eventually we reached a place where there was almost no one seen. Tamaki stopped and without turning around, he mumbled something. I couldn't hear him and asked him to repeat what he said.
"You!" He quickly turned around and yelled at me. "You like my brother, right?!"
Ehhhhhhh?! "W-w-what makes you think that?!"
"You've been acting weird lately."
That's because…all I've been thinking about lately is you.
"You barely talk or look at me, even earlier today you ran after seeing me."
That's because I get nervous when I'm around you.
"And you stopped smiling at me, but you kept smiling the whole time with Kazuya…"
No well…I was just trying to break the tension between you two.
"It's obvious you have feelings for him."
That's not it. It's you that I have…Ah…that's right. That's why I kept feeling unhappy seeing girls crowd around him, seeing him and Mei together…I felt as if they looked better with Tamaki than I do. I see. I see. That feeling was jealousy.
I said, while blushing. "Tamaki lean down a little."
"What is it?" He said, pouting a little.
He sighed, but listened to what I asked him and leaned down towards me. Before he could come to realize what happened, I leaned up towards him a little and brushed my lips against his. Before he could come to, I whispered to him my first confession in my twenty years of life. And once again, I ran away. This time, leaving him in a daze.
When I got home that night, I finally remembered something important. "How does he feel about me?!" I just confessed to him…but he never once told me that he likes me. In the end, what's our relationship?
Because of these never ending questions in my heart, I couldn't fall asleep and ended up looking like a panda the next day at school. Tamaki, Mei and Ritsu all looked at me worriedly, while my classmates looked at me while laughing. When classes ended Tamaki was held back by the Professor. Mei and Ritsu were chatting happily and when they saw me, they came over before I could leave.
"Aya-chan! Are you okay?"
I nodded my head. "Umm…I wanted to ask you two something for a while now…but what is your relationship with each other?" I only realized now that they were together a lot.
Mei and Ritsu glanced at each other and then laughed. "There probably isn't anyone in the class who doesn't know. Don't tell you didn't notice until now?" Mei-chan asked me.
I shook my head.
She grinned and then wrapped her hands around Ritsu's arm. "We're dating." Ritsu slightly blushed in embarrassment at Mei's action, but seemed happy.
…Eh? Dating? Mei-chan and Ritsu?! I thought they might be relatives or childhood friends…I didn't think they were dating! "O-oh," I replied, startled. I turned around and left, but not without hearing them laughing at me.
I sighed and while walking, once again came upon a scene. It was Tamaki and that girl from yesterday! The girl's back was facing towards me, while Tamaki stood in front of her, holding a bag. Looking closer, I noticed that it was the bag from my Aunt's bakery. As I glanced around the corner, Tamaki noticed that I was there. He stared at me and grinned.
"I-I should leave." I whispered to myself. But before I left, he said something that stopped me from leaving.
"You should try this. It's from the bakery I work at and where the girl I like works at." He then apologizes to her and although the girl seemed sad she accepts it.
"Eh? He likes someone who works at the bakery? But the only one who works there is my Aunt, him and….eh? Eh? Me?!"
Tama grins. "You've finally noticed?"
I turned around, startled and see Tama standing there. I tried to run away, but Tama grabbed my hand and said, "It's not nice to eavesdrop."
"I-I'm…" I lowered my head. "I'm sorry."
He smiled. "What I said earlier, did you finally understand?"
I nodded my head.
"Good. Then let's go to work." I nodded and followed behind. He didn't let go of my hand as we walked.
Another day passed quietly and before class started, I decided to give the leftovers of the matcha melonpan my Aunt made to Mei, Ritsu and Tamaki. My Aunt said that she didn't like the color of the melonpan, as it didn't match with the store. Before I could give Tamaki his share some girls came over to him, pushing me out of the way.
Ritsu and Mei helped keep me from falling and then turned to glare at those girls…not that they noticed. Mei turned to me and realized that I was looking at Tamaki. "Is that okay?" She asked me, concerned.
I bit down on the melonpan in my hand, while meeting Tamaki's eyes. I smiled. "It's okay." My Aunt's work of art, the matcha malonpan was a bit bitter at first, but it had a sweet aftertaste. Just like the feeling of jealousy.