Yusuke was huddled in a corner of the kitchen. He buried his head in his arms and refused to look at his friends or budge from the corner. Tachibana was ill and had left him and Kanda-kun in charge of the bakery. He was relying on him and he had bungled an important order for one of their more difficult customers.
Kanda-kun squeezed his shoulder and said, "Come on, sensei, it's not too late. We still can make it and I'll help you."
"You can't, Kanda-kun. You are helping to serve the customers as well as filling orders."
"It's all my fault! If I hadn't got lost on that last delivery, I'd have been here to take the call!"
Yusuke finally looked up. He smiled sadly at the sight of Chikage bowed on the floor in front of him. Since the first time he had hurt him, he always felt a twinge of guilt every time Chikage was upset because of him. He felt shame at his own weakness now and knew he should get his act together or Chikage would continue to blame himself.
He reached out and stroked his hair. When Chikage looked up, he said, "It's not your fault. I'm the one who's weak—"
Chikage grabbed his hand, "Ono-san is not weak!"
Yusuke shook his head, "I am. It was my job to remind her that we needed at least twenty-four hours notice on cakes of that size, but... I froze."
"It doesn't matter! Sensei, we can do it, I know it. We'll help you."
Chikage took both his hands and gave them a gentle squeeze. "I believe Ono-san can do anything."
Yusuke felt a rush of heat to his face. How Chikage could could give a wealth of meaning to such a simple and chaste gesture was beyond him. Only Chikage's touch could fill his body and soul with fire.
Resolve made, Yusuke stood up and clasped both their shoulders in gratitude. He smiled at them, "Let's get to work!"
Somehow, Yusuke managed to finish the cake with Kanda-kun's help. Chikage was a big help too as he served the customers waiting at the shop.
The cake wasn't as set as he would like but it was the best they could do on such short notice. Yusuke was staring thoughtfully at the fridge where he had placed the finished cake, when Kanda-kun echoed his own thoughts.
"Sensei, do you think I should deliver the cake instead of Chikage? We have to deliever it before it melts and breaks."
Yusuke glanced at him and was thinking it over when Chikage softly interrupted.
"If Ono-san and Kanda-kun think I should stay behind at the shop, I will. I get lost easily so I will help Ono-san serve the customers here."
Yusuke grimaced, wishing Chikage hadn't heard that.
Kanda-kun gave a nervous laugh, "Er, sorry, Chikage. I didn't mean it like that."
Yusuke stared at Chikage's bowed and red face. This was wrong. Chikage unfailingly believed in him. He, who was weak-willed and had no self-control. He, who broke men's hearts and thought nothing of it afterwards. He, who had hurt Chikage. Still Chikage believed.
Chikage deserved his faith too.
"Kanda-kun, please draw a map for Chikage. Use the most straight-forward route you can."
"Eh? Yes, sensei!"
Yusuke walked up to Chikage and cupped his face. "Kanda-kun and my job is here in the kitchen while Tachibana and you deal with the customers. Unfortunately Tachibana can't help you till he recovers. So we'll depend on you. Kanda-kun can serve the customers till you return."
Chikage ducked his head and smiled. Yusuke felt a rush of affection for this man.
"I'll be back soon, Ono-san."
Yusuke gazed deeamily after Chikage as he left with the cake. Till he heard Kanda-kun giggling behind him, but he refused to be embarrassed. He cleared his throat and turned to face his apprentice who hastily straightened up.
"Let's work hard, Kanda-kun."
"I'm ready, sensei!"
At the end of the day, Kanda-kun went in the back to take a nap while Yusuke waited in the kitchen for Chikage to finish closing up. When Chikage finally entered, he offered him a slice of pastry.
"Thank you for your hard work, Chikage. Here's your reward! I made it especially for you as it is your favourite."
Chikage smiled and ducked his head. "I'd like it if we shared it. Ono-san, may I feed it to you?"
Yusuke felt a thrill rush through his body at the prospect. He nodded. Chikage picked up a fork and fed him the first bite.
Yusuke moaned as the pastry melted in his mouth. Even if it was only because it was Chikage feeding him pastry, he was sure nothing had tasted as sweet as this.
He couldn't resist smiling seductively at Chikage as he thought, except perhaps their first kiss. And he pulled Chikage into his embrace.