"Stop eating the raw dough, you stupid panda!" Jin yelled as MeiMei took another spoonful of the dough and quickly swallowed it. "You keep this up and there won't be a cake by the time we're done!"
"But it's so good!" MeiMei wailed and took another bite. Jin took the spoon from her and tossed her out the empty kitchen and locked the door.
The panda scratched and clawed at the door while her manager came in and helped to try to knock the door down.
Adding additional ingredients to make up for what the spoiled girl had taken, Jin continued to mix the ingredients while the rest of the group either prepared the filling or watched and took notes on the creation.
So far, the first official meeting of the Seton University cooking history club had been going well. All the regular members had appeared and had not made that much of a mess compared to what they had done in their academy years. "These animals are finally learning to behave." Jin thought as he spread out the batter into the pan.
While the atmosphere was somewhat pleasant, it was still not the normal mood that they had come to expect from these meetings.
The blame lay with Ranka and Jin. Ranka, who was usually an exciting ball of happiness that was constantly on Jin, was simply sitting a bit to the side of the rest of the group and watched them.
Neither of them had spoken to one another since they entered the classroom. Every time that Jin glanced at her, she caught Ranka looking at him for a split second before she quickly turned her head and looked out the window.
She didn't look angry, instead, it was more of a look of restraint, as if she really did want to give in to her wolf instincts and lick Jin, as if the past two weeks had not happened.
Jin hadn't tried to go up and talk to Ranka, as per the plan she had laid out with Yena. "Just a few more minutes." he thought to himself, as he supervised the koala to spread out the jam into the half-baked cake shell.
"Right on time." He thought to himself as he looked out the other window and saw Yena waiting outside the building.
Once the cake slid in, he got the oven set up and the desert started to bake. All of them gathered around and watched it for a minute or two, even MeiMei, who Jin had finally let in after securing the cake. "Hey, guys!" Yena shouted as she burst through the door. "Jin! Can I take them!"
Jin nodded and the hyena grabbed everyone except Ranka and Miyubi. "Wait, where are you taking them! I demand an explanation for this outrageous behavior!" the manager yelled as the precious panda wailed.
"We need extra ingredients for the cake when it's done," Jin explained. "She knows where they are and needs help to get them in time before the cake is done."
"Oh, also Ranka, here you go!" Yena shouted as she used her foot to toss a small crumpled up note to the wolf, who caught it with ease. "Bye!" she yelled out while carrying the rest of the cooking club.
The door was closed, there was a click of a lock and a shuffling of a chair being placed against the door to prevent it from opening. Jin, Ranka, and Miyubi were stuck.
Ranka unfurled the note and read it. All it read was, "I told Jin and he knows, you can stop avoiding him now." Her entire body became pale white as she realized what had happened.
She could feel the eyes of Jin behind her, staring right into the back of her head as he sat down in a chair and folded his arms.
Miyubi simply slept, too tired to do much else after carrying the almonds from the pantry to the cutting board. Any more work would have killed her.
They both stood in silence for a moment, Ranka froze in shock. She had relied on Yena's plan and did not expect a moment like this to happen so soon.
As much as she wanted to yelp out in joy and run to Jin, she didn't turn around. She feared what he would say, now that he knows what she had done.
"Ranka." Jin began to say. His tone was neutral and steady, careful not to give any emotions to her. "I am not angry at you. I am disappointed. You are supposed to be our pack leader, and yet you acted like a child for the past two weeks."
He looked down at the ground and lowered his head a little. "I was too harsh on you on that day. I should have chosen my words more carefully when I lashed out at you. That was why I was trying to find you and talk to you this week. I wanted to apologize."
Ranka's eyes began to well up. She knew that giving Jin the silent treatment was going to have an effect on him, but not like this. Of course, she did want an apology from Jin, but it was nothing like how she had imagined it!
Instead of feeling triumphant as Jin begged for forgiveness, she was feeling absolutely terrible for pushing him away.
"But I couldn't since you had the idea that by 'punishing' by staying away from me, it would make things better and that I would come back to you, at least that was what Yena said you had imagined. I want to hear it from you, was that why you did it?"
Her face started to flood with even more tears, some of them escaping her eyes and dripping down to the ground as she nodded vigorously. Every single word stung her mind, especially since they were all true.
Sighing, Jin looked out the window and gave out a little chuckle. "She also told me that you were hoping that you would try to understand me better and try to figure out how you could make me fall for you. That surprised me, that you would try to understand a human. I did not expect that at all."
He stood up and slowly walked up until he was just right behind Ranka. He noticed that the floor was soaked with a small puddle of tears right below her face. "If you want to try and understand me, there are better ways than ignoring me. Many in fact." Jin said, feeling pity for Ranka.
"I was thinking of punishing you, but the fact that you stayed away from me for two weeks would be punishment enough. Yena said you needed to be reminded several times just to simply not talk to me or stay away." Jin reached out and gently lowered his hand onto the head of the wolf, who began to quietly sob.
"If you want to try and understand me, I promise that I will be as open as I could. I just didn't think an animal would understand." Jin smirked as he head-patted her. "But then again, I used to think that I could never be friends with an animal, yet here we are."
As those words left his mouth, Jin felt a crushing wet sensation on his chest as Ranka turned and tightly hugged him, her sobs now loud and heavy. They simply stood there for a minute as Ranka let out her tears fall on Jin. He gingerly hugged her back, resisting the urge to tear her off him.
"On a brand-new shirt of all things. How clichéd is that?" he thought to himself. "Well, it's not too bad. This actually feels a bit nice."
Ranka stopped crying after a while and managed to lift her head to look up at Jin. Her eyes were still red and wet. "D-Does that mean you don't hate me?" She asked, sniffling a little bit.
"I never hated you, you just had the wrong idea from some stupid romance novel."
"Hey! It's not stupid, I actually learned some things from it." She defended herself.
"A lot of wrong things," Jin replied coldly. Ranka reluctantly nodded in agreement. "I'm sorry," She said, her eyes looking as if they were ready to tear up again.
"It's okay," Jin said quietly. "The first thing to understand about humans is that if you want something or learn about them: talk to them. Don't run off and ignore me when you want attention, promise you shitty wolf?"
"I promise!" Ranka replied happily as she leaped up and started to lick Jin's face. After two weeks, she had missed this taste and gave out even more slobber than usual. Even Jin just stood there and let it happen.
"I'm already soaked with my shirt, might as well sit here and take it. Huh, this isn't so bad." He thought, recalling that he had actually missed this treatment. To a certain extent.
"Okay, can you get off of me now?" He asked after several moments had passed with non-stop licking. His appreciation of this attention had worn down to his usual annoyance at Ranka for doing it. She stopped and got off him, returning to the hug that she had given to him.
"Does that mean that you love me?" she asked innocently while looking up at him in a smug manner.
"No," Jin replied flatly.
"Whyyyyy??" she wailed, finally making Miyubi to wake up and look at them.
"Life is not a manga where a person can fall in love in seconds." He replied.
"I did!" she protested.
Jin sighed, reminding himself to be patient. "Humans take their time. We want to know the person that we want to date, understand who they are to fall in love with them." Jin explained. Ranka thought hard for a moment before looking up and nodding at him. "I understand." She affirmed.
"Do you really?" he asked, raising an eyebrow in doubt.
"Yes! I really do!" she eagerly said. "I did fall in love with you the first time we met, but I learned so many new things about you since then. Humans just want to learn those things first before falling in love, right?"
"Damn, she's actually learning?" Jin was shocked. "Ranka not only wants to try to understand a human but actually does?" Looking into Ranka's happy eyes, he realized that he had underestimated the ability that these animals had to learn. When he looked at Ranka, he didn't see just an animal.
He saw a young girl that just happened to have wolf ears and tail and act like one. "Okay, so she is a wolf," he conceded. "but she still looks just like a human girl, wait what the hell I am thinking? This is not normal!"
"Oh, I see you got busy once we left, ey Jin?" Yena asked as she opened the door and allowed the rest of the group to enter the room. Jin looked down and saw that Ranka was still hugging him tightly, looking the happiest that she has been in two weeks.
"Yay! You guys made up!" MeiMei cried out as she dashed up and hugged the pair. The others also proceeded to come into a group hug while expressing their joy of seeing Jin and Ranka back to normal.
Even the manager joined in, saying that the stress that MeiMei would have felt from the emotional drift would have warranted an execution and that he was glad Jin ended it for the sake of the panda.
"Of course, it would," Jin muttered under his breath. The oven then dinged, signaling that the cake was ready. He left the group hug and went over to the oven to take the cake out as the others set up the table and toppings that they had brought with them.
"There, does it taste batter after its baked, panda?" he asked MeiMei as they dug into their slices. She couldn't reply, as she was too bust eating it up and could only nod eagerly.
"Here, you guys can have some," Jin said as he took a couple slices and bent down to the floor next to the window where the naked mole's rats were hiding.
"Wait, there are no mole rats here!" one yelled from behind the curtain. There was a smack and a yelp from the mole-rat. "We know you are here," Jin said exasperated. "Here, take the cake and will you please leave us alone? We don't like being spied on. If you continue, we'll get the cat back."
The mole rate squealed and ran with their cake. Jin returned back to the table and served out second helpings.
Hitomi suggested that they go outside to eat the next time they met, since it may be the last time the weather would be nice before fall truly came. "Sure, I'll think of something good for the occasion. Something savory and light."
As the whole table continued to chat and marvel over Jin's cake, he breathed a sigh of relaxation. He looked over at Ranka and saw her tail wagging wildly as she took another bite of her portion.
Only after looking closely at her did he notice just how much she had changed from the last time they "talked" on that first day.
Ranka noticed him looking at him and gave him a warm smile. Not one of the large ear to ear grins that he was used to from her, but a small genuine one that he would expect from Hitomi."Did she always smile like this?" he thought.
"Are you okay Jin?" Ranka asked him, still smiling.
He nodded as he reached out and gave her a small pat on the head. "I'm much better now." He returned the smile as he scratched her head right behind her ears.
"Gu-ya!" Ranka yelped as she seized up and fell, sprawled out on his lap so that her head was hanging over his right thigh. The perfect petting position. He continued to eat while gently petting Ranka with his left hand.
Mika felt her blood pressure rise as she reviewed the footage that her scouts had brought back. They had found another place to hide immediately after Jin had tried to bribe them with the cake. She took another bite of said cake as she watched her target pet Ranka on the head.
"S-Such a filthy man! Doing that before he's married! And to an outside species no less!" The cries of her other mole rats reached her ears, saying out loud what she had been thinking. "President! Should we go in and stop them?" One of them asked her.
"Not yet," she replied, turning off the tv. "I will talk to the student council once we convene and I will, as president, propose a list of harsh regulations on interspecies relationships for the good of the student society. Effectively a ban without outright doing so."
"This man," she said, pointing to a picture of Jin that they had framed up on a wall. "You must keep an eye on him. Apparently, I was wrong in thinking he will stay the same way for the next four years at this school. If he shows any more signs that he is willing to date outside his species, then we will act on them. Until then, you watch them and try to hide better. Understood?"
"Yes, madam president!"