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Love-flavored Pies

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Baking is one of her most beloved hobbies.

It always calms her down, and well… sweets taste good.

For Misaki, that sort of activity is a good distraction.

But…

"What? What are you looking at?"

The voice called out to her, in a rather annoyed tone.

As if it told her to not 'invade anyone's privacy'.

"I didn't expect that Shishi-chan would do something like that."

It was truly unexpected.

To Misaki, someone like Inou Toshiko wouldn't do anything like that.

A lady like her wouldn't cook for herself, as she has servants to do it for her.

But her hands were covered with dough, a rather messy sight.

Toshiko only scowls.

"What is the matter? A lady can cook if she is asked to."

"But you prefer someone to cook for you. I'm surprised you're not complaining."

The mixture is almost done by now.

"I wanted to try doing that sort of thing with you."

Toshiko is surprisingly nicer than she was on the battlefield.

But… they're enemies when it comes to work.

So, Misaki cannot complain.

She preheats the oven, and her sight never leave Toshiko's hands.

"Do you need help?"

"I am doing perfectly fine."

"Come on, come on! Don't be like that, Shishi-chan!"

"I really am doing perfectly fine. Do not bother yourself."

Misaki only hummed.

It wasn't that Toshiko was doing an awful job.

She was doing better than what any other person would thinl of her.

"Is it fun?"

"It is quite troublesome."

"But it's worth it in the end!"

The desserts are delicious, so it's worth the hard work.

Or… that might only be because Misaki herself has a sweet tooth.

"Oh. That's it! It's time to add the filling."

It seems like Toshiko would be lost without her instructions.

But… that's just a small step.

Small step by small step.

That's how baking is.

A sprinkle of watern, and all that remains is the finishing touch.

"Start from the longer strips."

And their hands weave each strip.

Toshiko looks sort of… displeased.

But there's a hint of interest in her eyes.

As if she's enjoying the entire activity.

Even though, as Misaki knows, it's not really her type.

Toshiko's preference went mostly to… romance?

But… that's not an activity.

Going to dates might count as one though.

But… that sort of thing… might be a date?

"Now's the last step."

And Toshiko breathes a sigh of relief.

Of course she'd be bothered by doing something like that.

"Ah! Shishi-chan? Can you get the aluminium foil?"

"Where is it?"

"Second drawer on the left. Thank you!"

As she's brushing the lattice top with the egg white's mixture, Toshiko sets the aluminum foil on the table.

"Do you do that sort of thing regularly?"

"Yes!"

"You have an unusual taste in hobbies."

"What do you like doing, Shishi-chan?"

"Going on dates."

As expected…

Misaki finally puts the pie in the oven and sets a timer.

"But, see, Shishi-chan, this is a date, isn't it?"

"In what way?"

"You see… dates are basically just activities you do with the person you like, right? So this is a date. A baking date."

"For a date with you, it was quite enjoyable, somehow at the very least."

The way Toshiko's cheeks reddened is endearing.

"Will you do it with me again?"

"I think it might not be bad. But only if it is with you."

"I'm glad you had fun!"

The smell of strawberry fills the kitchen.

"You look cute like that, Shishi-chan."

"And what do you exactly mean by that?"

"You should put your hair up more. It suits you."

Her long hair was tied up in a bun, something that Misaki rarely saw.

It wasn't that Misaki disliked Toshiko's usual hairstyle, rarer things to see are always more beautiful.

"I might have to keep that in mind."

Misaki takes Toshiko's hand in hers.

Her fingers run aimlessly.

"What is the meaning of this?"

Misaki laughs shyly.

"Your hands are soft."

And they really were.

And Misaki thought that someone like Toshiko wasn't suired for something like baking.

Toshiko's hands weren't made to bake.

"Your hands are soft, even after that much work."

Misaki placed a gentle kiss on Toshiko's hand.

Kissing a lady's hand is an act of devotion.

Toshiko said nothing.

"That was… quite gentleman-like of me, wasn't it?"

"It would be, if you were anything like a gentleman."

She turned away, face a deep shade of red.

"That's right…"

"A gentleman-like lady is not a bad thing to be."

The smell of the strawberry pie is stronger.

To Misaki, an activity like that is perfect as a date.

"You know, Shishi-chan, I heard strawberries are regarded as a symbol of love."

"Is that so?"

"That's quite nice, isn't it? A strawberry pie filled with love, made by love."

"You are unexpectedly romantic. More than some men I have been with before."

"That makes me glad, to be considered as your potential lover."

"If you keep that up, we are sure to get together."

It sounded less than a prediction, more of a promise.

"Having a girlfriend does not seem like a horrendous idea."

"Is that so?"

It's not a question that needs to be answered.

Just a phrase.

One that indicates that she's happy.

Misaki smiles and closes her eyes.

For sure, that strawberry pie will taste better than the one she made before.