"Excuse me, ma'am. What would you…?"

As the girl turned her head around, her large brown eyes crossed mine.

"Wait, aren't you?" I questioned, suddenly remembering the girl's sweet face and the taste of the chocolate tart.

At once, the girl's eyes widened in surprise and her entire face flushed red. Suddenly, she snatched the laminated salmon menu in front of her and hid her face behind it; her eyes darted from side to side, avoiding my gaze.

As my eyes glazed over her, I realized she wore the same light green scarf but wasn't dressed in her school uniform- a dark blue skirt and a black blazer- as before. This time, she wore a handsome white blouse with a thin brown cardigan, a small black pleated skirt, and black leggings with long boots. Also, her once short dark hair had grown noticeably longer, with the ends hugging her shoulders.



She's just as cute as before!

Her face was soft and glowing with her cheeks still a little red, very much like a ripe strawberry. I couldn't rip my eyes from her but realizing that I had a job to do, I snapped out of it and continued with my customer service duties.

"Ma'am... w-would you... like a-anything?" I asked politely, but the nervous shaking in my voice caused my words to come out a mess.

The girl slowly lowered the menu, and shyly gazed up at me. Her slim fingers, the color of alabaster, twiddled and closed together consistently.

"I'll... have a strawberry milk…cream special..." She forced out as her eyes lingered over to the window. She was intentionally avoiding my gaze.

"So... one strawberry milk cream special... " I repeated with a smile.

She returned the favor, beaming brightly as if all of her nervousness had washed away. I could still see the redness on her face though. My heart beat rapidly in my chest, resounding in my ears.

Can she hear it?

"Yes, please."

My heart swelled with anxiety and I felt as if I had to get out of there as soon as possible or risk doing something really stupid. Once I had finished writing down the order on a slip of paper, I hurried off towards the kitchen to deliver it.

As I walked, flashbacks cycled through my head, like rolls of old film. I remembered the girl as if it was yesterday...her face, the chocolate she had made for me, and her confession. I also remembered my response...the response that left both of us so lost as we left each other that day a couple years ago.

I wonder how she's been doing since then...she attended a different school but...she most likely graduated with us... I wonder...

In the end, I had to personally make the order, which wasn't to my complete dissatisfaction but the thought of making a dessert for the only girl who had ever confessed to me struck even more anxiety into my heart.

I couldn't bare it. It turned into a very difficult task for me- even though I knew the whole recipe by heart- and I obsessed over making the dessert as perfect as possible.

Suddenly, I felt a faint pat on my back.

As I turned, I came face to face with Yuta, whose apathetic face- which wasn't the least abnormal- stared right back at me.


A year had already passed since Yuta and I had started working...The small little cafe down the street from where we lived had started hiring again and once I had decided to apply, Yuta turned in an application too.

After graduation, things had grown complicated and all of us- Kaname-kun, Yuta-kun, Yuki-kun, Chizuru-kun and I- grew unsure about our futures. During our last summer together, most of the others hadn't thought things through or decided but there were still exceptions.

Kaname applied for university that year and sure enough, was accepted without fail. No one saw much of him anymore but in my heart, I knew- I was certain- that he was doing well and would visit when he could.

As for Chizuru, despite all his futile attempts at asking Masaki-chan out, he finally prevailed.

In the end, she finally accepted his love for her and Chizuru was the happiest I had ever seen him. Both of them also went off to university together after Masaki had graduated. Despite my sadness at losing them, I was happy for the two of them.

Yuki, however, was still living at home with his family and Yuta. The three of us got together quite often and bought juice and hung out in the park like old times. We all agreed it still wasn't the same though.

Despite Yuki's attempts to find a job, his laid back personality often got the best of him and he would either quit or end up being fired. However, Yuta split his pay from work with Yuki so Yuki could buy his manga and games, but Yuta persuaded Yuki to promise he would try harder and think about his future.

He'll find it... Yuta had told him with a smile. He remembered it all too clearly.

What about our future? When will we find it? I wondered. We're all in the same boat.


There came a strange glint in Yuta's eyes as if he could read my face.

"What's wrong, Shun? You're acting strangely. I came back here to see if you were alright." Despite Yuta's blank face, I could tell he was worried.

"Don't worry... Everything is fine." I smiled, weakly. This did not fool Yuta though. He laid his hand on my shoulder.

"Was it that girl you were talking to? I recognized her. Wasn't she the same girl who confessed to you two years ago?" Yuta's eyes pierced mine, as if he was searching for a sign of truth, but as I desperately tried to hide my embarrassment.

Suddenly, Yuta smiled. Strangely enough, it wasn't a smile of trickery like his usual smiles, this smile of his was warm and honest. Yuta seemed very happy. I was confused. Was he making fun of me?

"Shun, take a break…take your break, I mean." Yuta turned his face away from me, brushing his hair back with his hand. "I'll cover for you. I'll talk to the boss." I could see a small trail of a smile on his face still.

"What? A break… now? I..I can't. My break's… not until later." I stuttered.

"You can take it now. Like I said, I'll talk to the boss. Calm down, okay?" Yuta's smile disappeared and he now stared sternly at me, his eyes unwavering as he set both of his hands on my shoulders. "Didn't you turn twenty last May? You're an adult now. Try to have more confidence."


"Finish that dessert and take it to her." Yuta's voice was cold this time, unlike his usual normal tone. "Don't keep her waiting."

"Oh, yes. Right." I responded, collecting the Strawberry Milk Cream Special after setting the finishing touch- a strawberry- on the very tip top and hurriedly shuffled towards the door.

"Shun." Yuta's voice brought my attention back to him.

Staring back, I caught a glimpse of something strangely sincere in his eyes. "Yes, Yuta-kun?"

He turned his head away from me, as if lost in thought. "Nothing."

"I've always wanted to try it." The girl eagerly stared at the large confectionary treat in front of her with happiness. A brightness lit up her face as I had never seen before.

Her smile warmed my heart. A weird sensation pounded in my chest, as if my heart was shriveling.

But it was not painful.

It was more of a bittersweet pain, like the feeling you get in your stomach when you eat too much candy, or the taste of tangy dark chocolate.

Smiling back at her, all of a sudden, she glanced at me with her large eyes.

"Well, now you can try it."

"Thanks, Matsuoka-san." As she smiled, she twisted a silky strand of her short dark brown hair and tucked it behind her ear.

She knows my name...wait...did I ever even tell her?

"...Please enjoy." I hoped my face was not too red.

The girl nodded her head in reassurance.

I'm so stupid.

I wished my feet could root themselves in the floor so I wouldn't have to ever move from that spot. I wished that she had kept that expression longer as it disappeared to quickly for me and to be honest, it greatly saddened me.

"I never got your name, did I?" The words came out all at once without even thinking them through.

A wave of fear washed over me just as my question was uttered from my lips.

The girl spun around, completely caught off guard. She was obviously the girl from before, but she was acting like I was a stranger.

To be fair, I kinda was too.

Her eyes suddenly became very sad, and in regret, I distanced myself from the table.

"Sorry. I'm sorry. So-"

"...Manami..." Her stunning dark eyes loomed upward, as if catching me in their net. "...It's Manami..."

At her tender voice, blissful like a bell, I fixed still where I stood.

"What a lovely name." The words escaped my lips.

"Huh?" Manami cringed, her face reddening again.

"Um...Manami-san, may I sit with you?" My voice came out obviously skittish but it was pleasant enough to cause her to be struck with shock.

"If you like, you can just call me Manami." Happiness skipped its way over her words as she replied in a shy but sweet voice, "Of course."

At that moment, my heart felt like it had grown wings but it didn't soar, it just simply fluttered within my chest.

I had no clue what Manami was thinking though. She didn't seem unhappy with my request.

In fact, she actually seemed happy and that's what suddenly tore into me. I was unhappy with how pathetic I was being despite how cheery I actually was.

Sliding into the seat opposite to her, I shuffled nervously trying to get comfortable but to no avail, I was not. I could not be completely comfortable being so close to her.

It seemed that the past suddenly returned to him in order to make him feel uncomfortable about what happened between them. True, they did pass each other every day in the past on their way to school, but ever since she confessed, he never saw her again on his way to school.

She must have started to take a different path to school in order to avoid him.

There had been a faint sadness in his heart from that day on. It had faded a little over time but still there was that lingering reality that he had completely rejected her feelings despite actually never giving her a chance.

In all honesty, he did not regret his decision though.

Looking back, he had realized that he did not understand what he did now. He didn't completely understand love, dating, or relationships and to be honest, he still did not fully, but he now realized how Manami really felt and had come to terms with it.

My eyes traced over Manami and hers crossed over mine as well, but once they met truly, I averted them away from her onto the shake.

Suddenly, a disheartened thought crossed Manami's face. "Is there anything wrong?"

"No, No, nothing's wrong...I'm fine." I whirled my head away in embarrassment. "How have you been...Manami-san?"

"Oh..." She clasped sides of the dessert with both hands, staring down at it. "I've been alright." She glanced up at me. "You?"

I stared at her. "...Same here..."

Manami looked puzzled but whatever she was thinking, she kept it to herself.

A few moments passed between us. Nothing was said. But, suddenly, Manami broke the silence.

"Matsuoka-san...um...um...actually there's this culinary school... I was thinking about applying to..." A small smile appeared on her face but I could tell it was hesitant. There was something wavering in her eyes.

"Go for it." I smiled. The words poured out. "I mean...that chocolate tart you made for me was delicious...I haven't... tried anything else but I'm sure they're all also delicious..." I fumbled with my fingers.

Manami's eyes widened as if she had seen a ghost. Her face grew redder.

"...Honestly...I'm conflicted about it...I'm still an amateur..." She hid her face.

"I don't think so..."


"I... don't think so. Believe me...and...I mean..."

I probably sound like an idiot...

"...You can only get better... even if you're dissatisfied, you can just work harder..."


I reached up and lowered her arm away from her face. "If you really want to go... just go. ...Isn't it better for you to be happy?"

She watched me with surprise, then dropped her head as if she was about to cry.

"Matsuoka-san…do you think...I...may I call you by your first name? If you don't like it…if it's too familiar, I understand." Manami looked more embarrassed than ever but she stared at me straight.

"Matsuoka-san?" Her eyes would not leave mine.

"Sure." I whispered, covering my face with my arm.

"Really? I'm so glad." Manami happily pinched the straw of her shake and lowered her lips onto the tip.

Something caught my eye. Huh?

Another straw protruded from the shake. I had just noticed it. One of the waitresses must have thought they were sharing.

To be completely honest, a part of me wanted to share the dessert with her. However, another part of me, a more sensible part, tugged at me, telling me it was a bad idea. Lowering my head, I stared down at the table below.

What am I thinking? Thoughts buzzed around in my head.

"…Shun-san…would you like some?"

I smiled. "You can just call me Shun. Wha-?" Startled, I lifted my gaze up to Manami's innocent face as she hinted to the other straw in the milkshake.

"Oh, no, I couldn't." I held up my hands as if pushing the idea of me drinking from her milkshake far away from existence.

She simply giggled. "Are you sure? I don't mind. You like sweets, right?"

I shifted my eyes nervously but said nothing.

She inched the milkshake to the center of the table so that it was between us, and so that we could both reach it.

Shyly, leaning forward to reach the straw with her mouth, she watched me, almost if waiting for me to just give up and accept her offer.

In turn, as she leaned forward, so did I. The large ripe strawberry towered above us, protected by a barrier of fluffy whipped cream. We reached our straws at the exact same time, and our faces also became beating red at the same time.

The fresh sugary taste of rich strawberry liquid spread throughout my mouth as the cold vanilla cream and milk gracefully lapped my taste buds and flowed down my throat. The shock but fullness as it hit the bottom of my stomach overwhelmed me. The grandiose of melty nutty chocolate mixed in also added to the delicious flavor and floral scent.

Suddenly, I froze in horror.

His deadpan brown eyes glued to me, Yuta stood, poised in his black vest and pants, about twenty feet away while balancing a couple trays holding empty glasses in his hands.

A tremble ran up my spine as he watched me curiously.

W-what...w-what is he doing?

It was almost if I could feel his eyes grow larger, and in turn, all the eyes around me stared as well. Invisible corkscrews dug into both sides of my brain. My eyes hurt, my body was beginning to grow feverish and I could feel a knot twisting in the pit of my stomach.

"Shun." Manami spoke. Her voice brought me back to reality.

"Huh. Yes, Manami-san. Sorry." I replied, trying to calm my voice.

"I'm sorry."

"Huh? W-what? What are you—?"

"I'm sorry... I just can't... Shun..." Her voice cracked, as she reached up to rub her glossy eyes.

"Manami-san?" I stared at her, with a weakness in my heart. "Please don't cry."

As she wiped away her tears, her hand lay on the table. Without another moment, I reached over and closed my hand around hers, feeling the warmness spread across my skin. Her skin felt as soft as ivory.

"Manami-san..." I whispered.

"Even though it's been two years...even though we hardly know each other...I'm sorry... for being so foolish back then." She smiled, hiding her sadness behind her sweet teary face.

"Foolish?" I repeated, perplexed by the word and the meaning behind it. "Not at all."

"Huh?" Manami faced me in surprise, a single gleaming tear slid down her cheek.

"I was really happy. You made me very happy, Manami." I tightened my fingers around her soft warm hand. "Even now, you still make me happy. ...It's the first time...anyone's..."

Manami wiped away a tear, perplexed.

"Manami-san... I...would like to get to know you better..." My voice was shaky, and despite how scared I was, I stared her straight in the eyes. "...Can I? Can... I get to know you better?"

A wave of relief and joy washed over Manami, and even more tears came, even as she tried to wipe them away. Sniffling, she managed to speak through small gasps of breath. "...Yes."

To Be Continued...

Hope you all enjoyed Shun and his adorableness. ^_^

This story is dedicated to my dear friend, InuLoveKawaii13 in honor of her birthday. *Happy Birthday!*

Note: I do want to continue this story- hence- the "To Be Continued..." but my busy schedule will make things difficult for me. If you (my readers) ask me to finish it, I shall. :)