Disclaimer: As always, I do not own X or any of its characters. They are owned by CLAMP, who (whom?) I worship.
A/N: Hello! And thanks to all those who reviewed! So sorry it took me so long to get this chapter out -_- I've succeeded in my summer goal of relaxing to the point where I can't think straight anymore and have absolutely no grasp of time ^^;;;; And sorry if this rambles a bit, it was written at about four in the morning. Yeah. There's a bit of background stuck in there, too, for those of you who haven't read the manga ^^
It took Sorata a long time, a very long time, to make his brain function enough to step back and close the door. It took slightly longer for him to stagger back into the kitchen. And by that time, his soup was boiling over.
"Gwack!" he shouted, as his cook's instincts propelled him across the kitchen to salvage the remains of what had promised to be a very nice soup. He quickly turned off the burner and moved the pan to a cool burner, clutching the handle tightly with a dishrag he'd grabbed off the counter. Panting slightly, he stirred the soup convulsively. It was a bit thicker than he'd wanted, but it would probably still do… He tasted it carefully, made a face, and reached for the salt.
Once he was assured that his soup was safe, Sorata began baking the onigiri(1) he knew Arashi liked. He began feverishly basting them, and carefully set them in the oven once he'd finished, using the same dishrag from earlier to shield his fingers from the preheated oven. Frantically, he looked around for something else to cook.
Just as it occurred to him that he was trying not to think about what had just happened.
He sighed, and slumped down in one of the chairs at the table. Could she really be- who he thought she was? Or was that just wishful thinking? And if she was—did he dare approach her? Did he dare ask?
He closed his eyes, trying to remember as much as he could of his life before Kouya. It was all—foggy. Disjointed. There were—hands. One pair thin and delicate, one pair large, thick-fingered, calloused. Both gentle. He recalled the hands—ruffling his hair, putting a bandage on a scraped knee, wrapping around him in a fierce hug—
Words. There were words. He ground the heels of his palms into his eyes, trying to concentrate. What were the words? But it was if he were hearing the voices though miles of fog—he knew they were talking, but he couldn't make out any of their words. New hands then, old, wrinkled hands that dwarfed his own when they took him. Took him, lead him away from the two warm bodies he'd known. He looked over his shoulder, and all he could see were tears. Tears streaming down the woman's face. Because he was leaving? No. She shouldn't be sad. She wasn't supposed to be sad. She—
The door opened and closed, snapping Sorata out of the long-buried memories. That must be—
"Tadaima,"(2) the female voice called out from the parlor. He heard her setting her bag down on the couch.
"Okaeri!"(3) He cried, trying his best to pretend that he had not just been buried in deep thought. "Any luck?"
Arashi sighed, making her way into the kitchen. "Nothing. I've been asking around, but no one I've talked to has seen her. I was thinking about putting an ad in the newspaper, but people would wonder why we haven't gone to the police…" she stopped abruptly, looking at him. "Are you alright?"
He gave a start, smiling nervously. "Why wouldn't I be?"
She frowned at him. "Your eyes are all red. Have you been rubbing them?"
"What? Oh! No, no, I haven't…" he said quickly, trying to come up with an appropriate excuse. "I was—I was slicing up some onions for dinner, and I think some of it got in my eyes… you know how it sorta burns?" He recalled with a bit of amusement how her eyes had watered and turned red after she'd helped himself and Yuzuriha prepare dinner for a depressed Kamui, getting him to eat for the first time in days. "I'll be fine. Is 'Neechan worried about me?" He asked with a hopeful tone and a genki smile. She rolled her eyes and went to pour herself a glass of water.
"Did anything happen while I was out?"
Sorata nearly choked. "Aah—aah—nothing in particular. One of Kamui's teachers came by to drop off a textbook, but that's about it. She left just before you came home." He wondered if sounded casual.
Ah-hah, Arashi thought. That's what it is.
"Was she pretty?" The question came out with absolutely no tone. She was rather proud of herself for that.
Sorata grinned at her back. "Is 'Neechan jealous?"
Arashi threw him a Look that fully warranted the capital letter, and he subsided.
"No," he said in a more serious voice after a slight pause. He got up to check his baking onigiri, not looking at Arashi. "No, she was an older lady. His English teacher."
She got out some plates and soup bowls for the two of them. "I wonder if Subaru-san can help him with that. I don't think he knows English too well."
"How is Subaru-san, by the way?"
"Still at the hospital. I checked up on him and Kamui-san around lunchtime. Honestly, I think if I hadn't brought him a bentou he wouldn't have eaten anything."
"So he's still there? At the hospital?" He was glad of this conversation, it meant he didn't have to think about Arisugawa Naoko.
"Yes. He refuses to leave Kamui-san's side. Something about returning a favor."
"And how's Kamui? He's been out for almost three days, now."
"Still unconscious. The doctors say it's just a matter of time before he wakes up. It'll be longer before he can walk again, though. He probably shouldn't go back to school again for a while, either."
He smiled slightly, picking up his pot of soup with potholders and setting it on the table while Arashi laid out the silverware. "Is that what the doctors told you, or is that what you think he should do?"
He had the gratification of seeing Arashi blush, but he thought that he might have missed it if he hadn't been looking for it. "That's what I think he should do," she answered stiffly, folding a napkin and deliberately not looking at him. "But I think the doctors would agree with me."
He went to take the onigiri out of the oven, arranging them neatly on a plate and brought them over to the table. Arashi was already seated at he set the plate beside his pot of soup. He took the seat across from her, and clapped his hands together solemnly. She did the same.
"I-ta-da-ki-masssssu!"(4) He sang out, and promptly began wolfing down the meal he had prepared. Arashi ate more daintily, but still managed to consume he share of the soup and more than half of the dozen or so onigiri Sorata had made. They ate mostly in silence.
"Gochisoosama deshita," she said delicately after she had finished, wiping her mouth with a napkin. "That was very good."
Sorata beamed. "Glad you liked it!" He was clearing away some of the dishes when the question came.
"So what about Kamui-san's English teacher bothered you so much?"
(1) Onigiri – meheh, anyone who's seen Fruits Basket knows this one. Onigiri is a Japanese rice ball (well, sort of triangle). And yeah, I know you don't have to bake them, but I found this really tasty recipe for onigiri where you baste them and bake them….. *drool*
(2) Tadaima – "I'm home" or "I'm back"
(3) Okaeri – "Welcome home" or "Welcome back"
(4) Itadakimasu – erg…. A bit hard to translate. Something you say before you eat. It's generally subtitled as "Let's eat" (but in Slayers they said "Down the hatch!" o.o;; )
A/N: "Gwack" is such a cool sound effect ^^;;; And yay for Arashi! I hope I got her in character, I've never written pre-in-love-with-Sorata Arashi. Umm, yeah. Hope this chapter didn't ramble too much. I wrote this whole chapter to a playlist of "Sora E", "Key of the Twilight" and "Kiseki no Umi". Great songs. Go buy (read: download) them. Yay for Japanese Celtic music! (woo, I need sleep….)
Please review! 'Twill make this small author very happy! ^^ And thanks for reading!