Beep. Beep. Beep.
Drowsy, Allen sat up with a yawn and slapped the alarm clock with her left hand. Stretching her body, she prayed for courage to get out of bed. The warm, warm provocative bed. Finally, slipping out, Allen headed for her window and pulled back the shades. In seconds, her window followed suit. “Good morning!” Allen cheered as the cold wind and a cloudy morning view greeted her. A gleeful feeling enveloped throughout Allen until she was grinning from ear to ear. There wasn’t much things that could beat a morning view and Allen still had to encounter one some-such thing.
Simply delighted, Allen continued to let the cold wind whistle around her as her brain and body both re-booted for the coming day. She tried to ignore the choking dread that seemed to be sneaking up her neck. There was only a week left of summer vacation....and that, as much as Katane One-san’s return, seemed to be playing chaos on her nerves.
Later. I’ll think about all this later. Another part of her bain reminded her there wasn’t much time left, but she hastily batted it away. She had other more pressing matters to take care of today. Now she only had to conjure them up.
“Ohiyo,” Allen greeted the rest of the inhabitants of the house as she entered the kitchen.
“Ohiya,’ Hanka replied from the kitchen counter, and Orihime from the little round table from her usual seat. Torori one-san nodded from atop her newspaper.
“We’re having Rice, Miso soup, and grilled fish!” Orihime reported as she marilly sniffed the air around them?
Allen raised her eyebrow in concern. “Well, that’s definitely a nice change from cold cereal and left-overs.”
“Urusai!” Hanka battered good naturedly. “If you don’t like my cooking then you can just stick with the cold cereal.” (Urusai mean quiet/shut up!)
“It definitely tastes better!” Allen retorted back. Chuckling Allen pulled open the fridge. The thing was, in the past year, Hanaka One-san’s cooking skills had progressed a whole lot. From a hastily slapped on sandwich, and onigiri, to fine traditional Japanese cuisine. And, damn, if she didn’t make one hell of a grilled fish. “But I couldn’t even if I wanted too. I’m having a early brunch with some of my friends later. I’ll stick to a bowl of cereal and fresh orange juice.”
“Hmm, why?” Allen asked dragging out a bottle of milk and orange juice.
“I was planning on picking some stuff up for Katane One-san’s return dinner...”
“Where’s Isamu-kun? Don’t you normally go with him?”
“Yes, but I can’t go. I’ve got to make a quick trip to my office,” Hanaka explained. Allen hefted her breakfast onto a tray and headed for the table. “It’ll take a while and I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to go grocery shopping.”
“What about Torori One-chan?” Allen asked while digging into her cereal.
“I’m dropping Orihime-chan at a friends, and then I have practice.” Torori sat down her chop sticks. “I’ll be out late as well...”
“Fine,” Allen sighed, resigned. “Hand me the list. I’ll make a quick trip to the market.”
“Nugh-ah!” Hanaka interjected, causing Allen to stop her spoon mid-way to it’s destination. “I don’t think so. I don’t know what kind of quality you might just grab and bring back.”
“Fine,” She dropped her spoon back into the bowl. Suddenly, her appetite was gone. This task was starting to look more complicated than she first assumed it would be. She rubbed her eyes together. “Fine. Just right down the brand and size. I’ll pick it up.”
Hanaka shot her a look. “Are you crazy? Brands? Do you know what kind of processing they go through. And how long they’ve-”
“I get it One-san,” Allen muttered. “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”
Feeling guilt, Hanaka turned away from the stove. “Sorry, Allen-chan. You're not going to die if you don’t see your friends for onc day.”
“Gee thanks,” Allen bit off scornfully. “But you're right. It was just a get together.” She picked up her bowl and dropped it in the sink. She gulped down the last of the orange juice. “Just tell me what to do.”
“Nothing,” Hanukkah said cheerfully. “Isamu-kun can handle everything. You're just the brawns.”
“Isamu-kun what?” Allen shouted. “Oh god no!”
“O..Ohiyo,” Isamu mumbled from the kitchen’s doorway.
Lighting strike me down right now! Allen ordered, her face red as a tomato. Please.
Isamu watched the city pass by and wondered how long Allen-san was going to sigh. Because that’s exactly what she had been doing since they left the house.
1. “Thank you,” Isamu muttered as Hanka handed him the grocery list.
2. “Gomenasai” Excusing himself, Isamu picked up the apple the older lady had dropped while bumping into him.
3. “Go ahead,” Isamu said letting the guy near him go through the train ticket line first.
4. Isamu and Allen boarded their train. Allen sighed.
5. Allen and Isamu found empty seats to sit on. Allen sighed.
Isamu decided he understood somewhat of what she was feeling. Orihime had said that Allen had to cancel a meeting with her friends to accompany Isamu. Amazingly, they’d managed to avoid each other through the whole summer vacation. Of course, there was breakfast and dinner. Or whenever they seemed to be home at the same time. But other than that....they were two strangers living under the same roof. He realized that if anyone had asked him how she spent her day he wouldn’t have been able to say anything. Not that anyone was going to ask.
Allen sighed. “Oh, for--- Would you just stop it!”
Isamu bristled. “If I didn’t know any better, which I do, I’d have to guess that you were the worlds most troubled person!” (Sigh = trouble)
Perplexed, Allen’s mouth fell open wide. The idiot hadn’t even managed to say a word to her since they’d left the house, and to make it worse, he’d muttered unnecessary comments to strangers. She was glad her face hadn’t fallen off from embarrassment! “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Oh, please,” the guy scoffed. “You're not exactly performing the Noh Mai in jubilation of spending time with me!” (Noh Mai is an old traditional dance. No one normally brings this up in a conversation.)
The Noh Mai!
“Look, if you're so depressed about not seeing your friends. Then go ahead. I’ll manage own my own.”
Her face wrenched in chagrin. Great, now he thinks I’m a spoiled brat. “I’m sorry if that’s what you think,” She spitted, color raising up her neck. “But you haven’t been exactly courteous either.”
“Me?” Baffled, Isamu looked around, looking for anyone else she might me talking to. “I didn’t even say anything to you.”
“And why not?” Allen demanded,
“Because you didn’t look like you wanted to talk to me!”
“And you just decided that by what? Can you suddenly read my mind?”
“You were sighing like there’s no end to your suffering!”
“Gomenasai...” An old lady said, breaking into the argument. “High school students..could you please take your lovers qurrale somewhere else? You're making the people in the train nervous.”
(Most people refer to teenagers as students....I wanted to know what other people call a couple in japanese but...I found nothing. :’(
Isamu coughed into his fist, “Can you believe it? They thought we were a couple.”
“Yea, crazy,” Allen mumbled in disgust. What a thought! She was so embarrassed she could feel the train station caving in. “I mean your.....well, you.”
“Yea,” Isamu agreed. “And your,...well, you. No offense.”
“Me neither.” Mutually agreeing to ignore the episode on the train, they headed outside.
Nearly half the day later.
“Ahh!” Allen let out a groan of exhaustion as she pulled the tab open of her fruit juice can. She took a sip. “This feels sooo good!” (I don’t know how popular fruit juice is in Japan but Anime characters seem to really enjoy them.)
“It’s perfect,” Isamu said from nearby as he drowned his own drink.
Allen wiped the sweat from her head with her bandana and pocketed it again. “It’s getting really hot,” She stated casually, dropping her empty can into a nearby trash can. “Let’s go find a cafe and relax for awhile. We can head for the next store on that damn list after it cools down. And charge everything to Hanka One-san’s credit.”
Isamu didn’t say anything but just bunched up his can and made a one hand shot to the garbage bin. He commenced gulping down a second can.
Allen tilted her head towards him, “What do you think?”
“I think it’s an amazing idea,” he grinned at her. “And I know just the place.”
Café Co-Co Latte
Then, it’s a miracle that we haven’t bumped into each other before. I’ll remember to tank go later.
“Yea, mostly.” Ismau said as he opened the door for her. Completely clueless to the paradoxical situation. “Hmm, have you been here before?”
“Have I been here?” Allen repeated in a daze as she followed him in. “Well, that’s one way of putting it.”
Isamu shrugged and looked around for an empty table. It was filled. Why do I have a feeling of Déjà vu?
“Why does this feel similar?” Allen asked scanning the room as well.
“Hmm,” Isamu didn’t comment. She’d probably think I’m being a freak if I tell her I was thinking the same thing. “Hey, do you know those guys?”
“Who?” Allen asked, automatically looking where Isamu had indicated. “Oh, yea...”
“I think you should go over,’ Isamu insisted. “I think a table’s become free at the end. Just let me know when you're ready to go.”
Isamu nodded and headed for the empty table.
He turned around, “Yea?”
Uncomfortable, Allen fidgeted. “Why don’t you come over as well. It’ll feel awkward...and you have One-san’s credit card as well.”
“No, it’s ok. Really,” he said trying to refuse gently. He felt for the credit card in his pocket. “Here, have this-”
“Allen-chan!” One of the guys had walked over and greeted them. “Konichiwa! We’re so glad you could make it!”
“Konichiwa, Aoi-kun.” Allen brightened. “No, actually we were just passing by.”
“That’s fine as well,” the boy laughed. “Anyway, come over. We’ve pulled two of the table together so we’ve got plenty of space.”
Isamu and Allen followed Aoi back to the tables jumbled up in a corner. Allen was greeted with cheers and hugs.
“Hey, I didn’t know you’d ditched us for a date,” one of the girls teased good naturedly.
Allen blushed, “That’s not true, Chiyo-chan and you know it.” What’s with people today? From what angle do we look like a couple? Yuck!
“Hai, hai,” the girl chuckled and Allen sat down besides her. “So then who is it?”
“Isamu-kun,” Allen announced as if that’s all the answer was needed. What the hell. has she been talking about me? Isamu thought as the group nodded in understanding. “Isamu-Kun this is Yamato Chiyoki-san,” she pointed to the girl besides her. Although, Isamu couldn’t really call her a girl. She was a couple years older than himself and Allen. Probably a University student if not a graduate. In fact, now that Isamu had a look, most of the group was older if not near their age. Except for Aoi and one of the other girls. “ Tanaka Jiro-san, Arai Ayane-san, Watanabe Kenji-san, Higa Airi-san, and you already met Abe Aoi-san.”
“Hajimemaste.” (Equivalent to - How do you do.0
A chorus of hello rained down on Isamu and within seconds the conversation had hit it off in some other direction. Something about cables and definition.
“I assume you haven’t heard about us,” Watanabe Kenji, Ismau's neighbor, asked. The man looked somewhere in his mid-twenties, black hair, casual clothes, and had a laptop set in front of him like everyone else in the group.
“Watanabe Kenji, but Kenji is just fine,” Kenji said. “It’ll take a while for the names to stick.”
“Hai,” Isamu agreed. He was too confused to say anything else.
Kenji grinned at the younger boy, “I’m a programmer at Tokyo Grow.”
“That’s a tech company, local. You can look it up, it’s valid.” The mans eyes twinkled in amusement.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply-”
“Nothing implied. I know that’s exactly how I’d feel in your feet.”
Isamu looked at Allen, who seemed to be engrossed in the conversation. She was waving her hands around, gesturing wildly, as words tumbled out just barely fast enough. This was so different from her cold and calm nature at home.
“So, what are you guys? I mean this group,” he waved his hand around the table.
“Just a bunch of mundane dreamers.” Kenji looked at Allen. “I think it was a couple of years ago. We met online on a community. We mostly talked about computers, coding, and etc. Over the years, I like to think, we’ve become something of a family. It’s embarrassing really...
We meet every other wednesday and tuesday,and sometimes every day. Those who live near and can make it gather here, and others online. To tell the truth, I was really surprised when Allen called me to ask for the address to this place.”
Kenji nodded, “Our interest aside, she’s mostly reserved about everything else.”
Isamu thought so too.
“Can I have your order,” The waitress asked turning towards him.
“I’m so stupid! And I had to go and offer everyone a drink on me!”
“In a way.....you couldn’t possibly not have offered. It would have been rude, since you were buying me one as well.”
Allen’s eyes crossed. “What do you mean me? You were the one in charge of the card!”
He shrugged. “Well, I couldn’t possibly have said anything. It would have been rude. Just like accepting your offer to pay for me.”
“I’m going to kill you. You’d better check your lock before going to sleep today.”
“I think I’m safe,” he took out a piece of paper from his pocket. “We've still got half of the list to finish.”