Chapter Three: Botan Rice Candy:

In this warm spring rain,
tiny leaves are sprouting
from the eggplant seed


Morning rain; guess the clouds weren’t done crying yet, but Tsuzuki tried to ignore it. The Cinnabon line was backed up to the door and the Shinigami stood at the tail end.

I got here too late!, he thought, Damn the chief for all of that paperwork! He looked at the front again. Don’t have enough? I hope they haven’t run out, Tsuzuki thought nervously. However, that made it way to his “things to be concerned about today” list pretty quickly. Tsuzuki happened to look out of the corner of his eye and see Hotaru smiling at him.

“Hiya!” she cheered. A sweat drop formed on his head.

“Oh, it’s you…” he mumbled.

“And me!” a voice spoke up. Tsuzuki looked on the other side of him and found Emiko smirking at him.

“Hi!” she said. The Shinigami sighed.

“And you brought a friend!” he mumbled. Hoto-chan laughed.

“Girlfriend!” she said lightly smacking him on the arm. Tsuzuki looked forward as he rubbed the place that she hit.

“You’re not here for the Coffee Cinna Sticky Buns, are you?” he asked. The girls shook their heads.

“No,” they said so innocently.

“Figures,” the Shinigami muttered. Emiko grinned at him wickedly as she hung onto his arm.

“You know what tastes better than a sticky bun?” she purred in his ear. Tsuzuki didn’t move as he frowned.

“I know I won’t like the answer, but what?” he replied. The demons giggled at each other before Emiko turned and whispered in his ear. The Shinigami’s face went bright red.

“Emiko, what the hell?!?” he shouted.

“Shhh,” she whispered, “Not so loud!”

“Why would you say something like that?” the Shinigami asked in a whisper. The butch demon shrugged.

“Well, does it?” Hotaru jumped in. Tsuzuki’s face went redder.

“I wouldn’t know that!” he yelped. The girls laughed again. They didn’t even care if people were staring at them.

“I don’t see why not,” Hotaru said, “You two seem perfectly fit for each other.” Tsuzuki shook his head.

“No, it’s not like that!” he yelped. Hotaru raised an eyebrow at him.

“Oh?” she questioned him.

“Then, what is it like?” Emiko challenged.

“Uh…” Tsuzuki began to say. The girls grinned as if they expected that answer.

“Ah!” Hotaru said, “So you do like her!” Tsuzuki finally dropped his head. He just lost to the one thing that he wasn’t sure about and tried to deny so adamantly to keep everything simple. These two shot that right out the window. Why couldn’t they leave well enough alone?

“Fine,” Tsuzuki sighed, “Yes, I do like her…” The girls looked at him now intrigued.

“In what way?” Hotaru asked leaning closer to him. The Shinigami quickly looked away.

“Do we have to do this now?” he asked.

“Yes!” the girls insisted. Tsuzuki shook his head. They didn’t know how to quit, did they?

“Just…” he began again, “I want to get to know her in any way that I can.” The demons listened and nodded.

“Fair enough,” Hotaru said.

“Have you told her how you feel?” Emiko asked. Tsuzuki shook his head.

“What would I say?” he asked.

“You like her!” the girls said together.

“No, there’s more than that…” he tried to reason. The girls looked at him closely. He knew they didn’t believe him. Emiko lightly patted the Shinigami on the shoulder.

“Aw don’t worry,” she said, “She finds you very attractive too.” Tsuzuki looked at her in surprise.

“She does?” he asked.

“She does,” Emiko replied with a nod, “I got her to admit it.” Tsuzuki looked on amazed and suspicious. Anna really found him attractive after all these years? Emiko slapped him hard on the back.

“So, what do you have to lose by telling Anna how you feel?” she boomed. Tsuzuki winced.

“Ow,” he whimpered.

“Oh, I didn’t hit you that hard, you big baby!” Emiko said.

“It still hurts and I could lose my job if I get too close to Anna. I’m already in trouble for bringing her back from the dead,” he complained. The demons tried to look innocent.

“Well… you just let us deal with the boys of Ju-Oh-Chu,” Emiko said, “You just go get your woman, okay?” Tsuzuki looked at her uneasily as he didn’t like the sound of that. Emiko grinned at him.

“Okay?” she pressed again. Tsuzuki nodded quickly.

“Uh… yeah, yeah!” he said. Emiko and girlfriend smiled.

“Good!” Hotaru replied. She patted him on the shoulder.

“Enjoy your sticky bun!” she cheered as she and Emiko left Cinnabon hand-in-hand. Tsuzuki made it to the front of the line with leftover discomfort.

“Can I help you?” the girl behind the counter asked. Tsuzuki blinked once. Suddenly, he wasn’t so hungry anymore.

“Never mind…” he mumbled. The Shinigami quietly walked away.