"Kyouko, please, hurry up," Mami called, just as she drank the last bit of tea in her cup. Her voice held a mockingly impatient tone, and it was evident that she was enjoying herself quite a bit. She crossed the living area to the hall that held the single bedroom and bathroom in the apartment. Tapping her toe, Mami knocked on the door for a fourth time.
"I don't think I'm feeling too well," the voice on the other side of the door called. The owner of the voice, Kyouko Sakura, had an uncharacteristically polite tone. "Maybe you should just go on without out me," She suggested. This was followed by a string of noisy, guttural coughs.
Mami could not help but smile, knowing this act all too well. "Nice try, Kyouko," The older girl commended her housemate. "This doesn't change the fact that you're still going. Come on, let me in." She waited, resuming her toe-tapping.
A groan was elicited from the other side, followed by several curse words. "Damn it, Mami. You can't make me do this, you know," Kyouko argued defiantly. Despite herself, she still unlocked the door for Mami, and turned to stare at herself in the mirror attached to the wall.
Mami's face lit up when she stepped inside. A grin of amusement met her features, and she laughed softly. "My, my
.Miss Kyouko, that color certainly suits you well." She stifled a giggle, trying not to make Kyouko feel worse than she already did.
"It's not funny!" Kyouko retorted defensively, smoothing out the skirt of the abomination that Mami had forced her to wear. "This is ridiculous!" She winced as if in pain when she caught sight of herself in the mirror once more.
The older girl studied Kyouko as if she were a science experiment, looking at her from every angle with the occasional "hmmm", "oh", and "maybe if we did this." Kyouko groaned once again, glancing longingly at her shorts, which had been thrown carelessly at the foot of the bed. Mami stood up, contemplating something for a moment, before she pointed at Kyouko's hair. "The ponytail," She said cryptically.
"What about it?" Kyouko grunted. There was no way Mami was making her get rid of her ponytail, too.
"Take it out," Mami said, picking up a brush with a glittery purple handle.
"There is absolutely no way in hell that you would even think
" Kyouko stopped short when Mami gave her a warning look. Grumbling, she reached up and yanked the hair tie out, feeling suddenly itchy as her red hair fell out all around her. She groaned once again when she felt the painful tug of the brush yanking out the knots in her hair.
"Hold still; this'll hurt less," Mami warned, determined to make Kyouko's unruly hair as fine as an angel's. Several trying minutes later, Kyouko's hair was a nice, straight cascade of red all around her. Mami could not help but smile once again at her handiwork. She assessed the rest of Kyouko's attire, and after finding it satisfactory, she grabbed Kyouko's forearm and began to drag her into the living area.
"Hey! Damn it, Mami, I can walk on my own! Let me go!" Kyouko protested furiously. Soon enough, they were right in front of the door. Kyouko could absolutely not believe that Mami had found a way to force her to go out in public like this. She stared at the older girl for several long moments, waiting for her to laugh and tell Kyouko that it was all just a joke, an empty gesture to teach her a lesson. However, Mami simply smiled and opened the door for her, and with a heavy, reluctant sigh, Kyouko trudged into the hallway.
"Try to walk less like a truck driver," Mami said. Even when insulting, Mami still spoke with a well-practiced eloquence. "It'd be a shame if your bad posture got in the way of your loveliness today."
"Rot in hell, Mami," Kyouko shot back, her cheeks flushed a deep red. Still, she became more conscious of her walk, trying to imitate the graceful gait of Mami. As they got closer to the stairwell, and Kyouko began to accept that she was definitely going to be seen in public in such hideously feminine clothing, Kyouko asked, "So, Mami, where are you planning on dragging me to today?"
Mami only gave Kyouko a knowing smile, and without even the slightest hesitation, continued to lead her to an unspecified destination. After several more fruitless tries to pull the information out of Mami, Kyouko gave up, and they spent the rest of the walk in silence. Kyouko even refrained from complaining when the ridiculous heeled shoes Mami had forced her into started to hurt her feet. They seemed to continue walking for an indefinite amount of time, as if they were both moving in slow motion, but eventually Mami paused in front of a spectacular, colorful building with flashing lights and every shade of pastel imaginable. It took Kyouko several moments of which she spent with her mouth agape to realize that Mami was patiently holding the door open for her.
When Kyouko stepped inside, the delicious, indescribably wonderful scent of fresh desserts assaulted her senses. Before her, two pillars constructed of baby blue and light pink twists, which looked entirely edible, rose to the high ceiling above. Every dessert of every kind that one could imagine was meticulously organized throughout the large building. Blocks of chocolate the size of a brick were confined in glass cases with pink tissue paper and copious amount of glitter, with several sample slices set out above it. Cakes whether it be a full-sized one, or just a slice or two were organized alphabetically on several shelves decorated with ribbons. Candy canes and Twizzlers of all colors rested in glass jars at what appeared to be a checkout counter. Behind that was a blackboard with the prices of various smoothies and taffies written in pink chalk. She gravitated towards a large woven basket with pink ribbons interlaced wherever possible with a well-decorated sign that proclaimed: "FREE! TAKE ONE!" She glanced inside, and found a wealth of different flavored taffies and chocolate bars. Her mouth was watering as she took in the sights and smells.
She turned to find Mami, whom was standing in a corner section with several high-quality cooking supplies such as sugar and flour, and ceiling-high bookshelves chocked with cookbooks. Mami was leafing through one with a pretty lavender color, its title reading: "The Art of Decorative Frosting." Kyouko couldn't help but smile, as Mami lifted her focus from a recipe for coffee-flavored icing. The older girl smiled and slipped the book back onto the shelf.
"So, what are you thinking, Kyouko?" Mami asked with a devilish grin. She knew all too well what Kyouko's answer would surely be.
"I'm thinking, 'Why the hell did she not bring me here a long time ago, damn it?'" Kyouko replied, licking her lips as she tried to resist breaking into the glass case full of various chocolates. "Oh, shit please tell me you didn't just bring me here to tease me."
Mami laughed softly. "I brought you here, because we're having a very special occasion soon, and I wanted to find the perfect dessert to suit it. I figured that, as a connoisseur of food, it would be best to leave it up to Kyouko to decide on our dessert." She winked playfully, examining a tube of frosting.
Kyouko's mind went blank. Mami's birthday had been long ago, and there were no holidays soon. However, she would not give up an opportunity to get herself one of Mami's famously delicious desserts.
As Kyouko opened her mouth to ask a question, Mami rolled her eyes and said, "And, yes, Kyouko. You can get a little extra for yourself."
That was all it took to get Kyouko to take off. Like a whirlwind of excitement, she darted from display to display; grabbing handfuls of anything she could reach. She barely even looked at what she was taking; she knew her favorites by smell. Soon enough, they were leaving with five large bags of desserts and candies, much to Mami's protest. (Apparently, she felt as though Kyouko surpassed the limit of "a little".)
The town of Mitakihara was engulfed in the velvety darkness that came with the passing of the sun. They wandered their way back to Mami's apartment with their purchases, guided by the pale glow that was given off by the streetlights and passing vehicles. The moment they were indoors, they dropped their purchases on the kitchen counter and collapsed on a loveseat that with much pleading, Kyouko had convinced Mami to buy. It certainly added personality to Mami's otherwise dull apartment, which previously lacked any furniture save for a triangular glass table and a few cushions to sit on. Their hike home did not help for the sweat that seemed to be rushing from Kyouko's pores and soaking her dress.
Kyouko groaned softly, tossing her head back. "Damn it, Mami; how much longer are you going to make me wear the awful thing?" She tugged a piece of lace in disgust.
Mami's labored breathing stopped abruptly, and Kyouko glanced over to see the usually cryptic girl with a look of disappointment on her pretty features and flushed cheeks. She spoke softly, so much so that Kyouko could not hear her.
"What did you say?" Kyouko asked, twisting a piece of her loose hair around her index finger.
Mami chewed on her lip absently, tugging at her cuticles for several moments. Finally, she spoke again. "It's not awful," Mami whispered, though more audibly this time.
Kyouko laughed as if it were a joke. "You're kidding me, right? I feel like I'm trapped inside a big, itchy marshmallow. You seriously didn't expect me to like the damned thing, did you?"
Mami didn't reply. She simply stood and walked to the bedroom in silence, leaving Kyouko behind. Kyouko, confused, studied her 'dress' in Mami's absence. The majority of the top half was deep, inky black, with a red plaid collar. Just below the bust, a red satin ribbon rested, which was followed by the skirt, which consisted of alternating shades of red gingham. Lace encircled the edge of the skirt, where several cartoonish apples were embroidered into the fabric. She sighed and glanced up, noticing something that had not been there before. A small table with a wooden chair was obscured in the corner. Upon closer inspection, Kyouko noticed that atop the table rested a sewing machine with red and black thread, and several swatches of red plaid and red gingham. A large piece of lace was strewn carelessly around the working area.
"Shit," Kyouko said under her breath, waddling her way into the hallway in her uncomfortable dress.
She knocked on the door of the bedroom, which, much to her irritation, was locked. She could barely make out the presence of sound on the other side. She listened closely until she heard footsteps and the click of the unlocking door. Pushing the door aside, she stepped into the bedroom to find Mami sitting on the bed, wrapped in a large terry cloth bath robe. She held a box of Kleenexes, and surrounding her were several used tissues. "What do you want?" Mami said bitterly, sniffling a little.
Kyouko was not one to apologize for her actions, but she swallowed her pride. "Mami
I'm sorry. I had no idea that you want through all the trouble of making this for me." She waited several moments, but when she received no response, she continued. "When I really look at it, it isn't awful. It's really pretty, actually
Mami sat there, on the bed, silently eyeing Kyouko. Finally, she spoke. "I made it especially for you, for our special day," She sniffled. Mami was never one to show raw emotion like that. She usually kept such things bottled up. "I really thought it would be something special, but I should've figured you wouldn't want a dress." She sighed deeply, and then finished her thoughts. "I made it just for you, to resemble all the good times we've had together. All the wonderful things that make you
Kyouko bit her lip, averting her eyes as the guilt set in. "What special day are you talking about?" She asked, hoping it wouldn't make the situation worse.
Mami gently wiped her eyes. "The anniversary of the day we first met. Do you remember that, Kyouko? You were just a tiny thing, and you'd just made your contract. You were so sweet, so full of hope."
Kyouko sat down on the bed. "Oh, Mami
I had no clue
" She silently cursed at herself how could she forget such a day? They sat in silence for several minutes. Perhaps it was even an hour, but Kyouko soon reached under her dress and materialized a small, crumpled box with green and white stripes decorating it. "I know it was wrong, but I wanted to surprise you. I grabbed this on the way out. I know I still should've remembered, but
.here." She placed the box on Mami's lap.
Gently opening it, Mami peered inside. A little chocolate cupcake was perched inside, with yellow frosting and small purple flowers on it. For a moment, she thought to reprimand Kyouko for thievery once again, but her heart swelled with emotion. Despite its origins, it was a sweet gesture. Placing the box on her dresser, she leaned over and gave Kyouko a tight hug.
Kyouko couldn't help but smile a little, wrapping her arms around Mami's warm, soft body and resting her head against the older girl's shoulder. She could feel tears falling on the sleeve of her dress, but she didn't mind, as she occupied herself by playing with Mami's hair. It was a long time that they sat there, in each other's arms. Mami cried for a long while until eventually, they just sat there in complete silence. Kyouko's arm was cramping a little, but she stayed quiet for the sake of Mami.
Finally, Mami spoke, breaking their hug. "Do you want to start over?" Mami said, gazing at the box with a slight smile. Kyouko nodded, for once at a loss for words.
Mami stood, adjusting herself a little. "Wait, Mami
" Kyouko called as the older girl neared the door. Mami turned, raising a single blonde eyebrow. "I wanted to say
.I really do love the dress. It's the nicest thing I've ever had." She swallowed hard, trying to rescue herself from the embarrassment of tears.
Mami crossed the room, sitting down beside her once more. "I know," She said, a sweet smile on her lips. She leaned over and kissed Kyouko's forehead, before standing up again. Kyouko glanced in the mirror and saw, to her horror, that she had an awfully disheveled appearance.
Mami glanced in the mirror as well, leaning in the doorway. "Take a moment to collect yourself," She said, returning to the stoic, and ever polite girl Kyouko knew so well. Kyouko nodded, and began to smooth the wrinkles in her dress. She glanced up just as Mami walked out.
And perhaps it was just her imagination, but she thought she saw a smile on Mami's face.