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His ears covered so as not to hear the distracting noises coming from outside, it's only because of a reflection in a range of test tubes that he notices the door opening and someone stepping in.

It takes him a few seconds to carefully put his experimental attire back and turn around to greet the intruder, but by that time his opinion is made.

It's not in his habits to pass judgment so soon, because he himself looks pretty and girly and harmless and has been underestimated so many times that he's sometimes felt like wearing a shirt with 'I'm ten times as smart as you've ever dreamed to be' or something equally brash and aggressive just so that people would actually pay attention to him instead of dismissing him as weak just because he smiles. But everything about this woman strikes him as unpleasant. Her dress, long and white, that would look virginal if it wasn't half-transparent and so form-hugging it looks as if it was sprayed on her perfectly pneumatic body; her white, uncalloused hands with perfectly manicured nails, that have probably never known a hard day's work; her hair, black and shiny, probably just out from the best hair-dresser in town.

Behind the door, former classmates of his are pushing one another to get a better look. To them, she probably is a wet dream come true; to him, she looks conceited, fake and shallow. Not the kind of person he'd give any attention to in regular circumstances, only... She's Japanese, she looks eerily familiar and she's come here for him: everyone knows better than to come inside his laboratory without an extremely good reason, like fire in the lab or maybe an earthquake.

"Hey, boy."

Sixteen years old and people still call him a boy. If he wasn't so mature it would make him scream in frustration. However, he has learned to be polite, so he smiles.

"My name is Kanmuri Shigeru," he says, reverting to Japanese to keep the other idiots from listening in on a conversation that he hopes will be as short as possible. They probably have more interesting things to attend to anyway. "May I help you?" She slams the door close on the face of the onlookers, and glares at him.

"You're planning on entering Pantasia." It's not even a question. There's a smile pasted on her face now, but it's fake, and he can see her fingers sliding down her hips. Seductive. Well, it might have worked if he hadn't found her utterly unlikeable from the very first glance. She knows something about him though, and he wonder how much money she squandered for the info, when most of his classmates would have been delighted by the opportunity of gossiping about weird Japanese Shigeru Kanmuri who intends to go back to his native country and enter a bakery of all things. But she is the kind of person who thinks money gives you everything, that one, and sadly she might even be right on that point.

"Uhm, yes? I believe my application form should have arrived there by now..."

"No, it hasn't." She smirks, and there's nothing even remotely charming about her anymore as she pulls out a lighter and an envelope from somewhere behind her back. He doesn't care to know where she'd stacked them, but even from that distance he recognizes the address, and the writing, and the unmistakable 'senpai' at the end of a line, just a joke to warn Kuroyanagi-senpai that he's coming with a bang.

But she sets fire to the unopened letter and drops it into an empty metal bowl at her side. The letter didn't reach the Main Store, and never will.

He does not know what to say as the paper twists and turns to ashes under his eyes.

"You're going to work for me," she says as the last red spark fades to black. Again, not a question. She seems certain of that, but at this very moment he'd rather die than let her get his way. Yet his smile remains, as fake as hers now.

"I am?" he asks, as polite as he can manage in his state of irrational anger. He wants her out his his sight, he wants to spend some more time with his computer and experiments, because they are so easy and they don't barge into his life to complicate his plans for the future.

"I own the Pantasia Shinjiku Central Branch Store. And a currently unoccupied laboratory where you'd be free to work on your..." she picks a test tube at random and glares at it, "little experiments."

Now he knows who she is, because he's done his homework well. Shinjiku Central makes her Azusagawa Yukino, eldest of the owner's three granddaughters. Rich, powerful, and she's offering him something he would never have access to even in the Main Store: facilities and the occasion to pursue his research. A chance to go on and get even better, and possibly impress Kuroyanagi-senpai even more than predicted when he finally came across him.

He's never even dared to dream about getting such an opportunity so fast.

"Why do you want me so much?" he asks, but her haughty looks immediately turns to a glare, warning him off questions probably better left unasked for now. Yes, this is the kind of woman she is, bossy and fake and probably even evil. But he'll have to deal with that. The opportunity is too good to miss.

"Right. No unnecessary questions." He sighs and closes his eyes, just for a second. "I understand, Yukino-sama."