Disclaimer: None of these fine characters belong to me. It's call Fanfiction for a reason ¬_¬
A/N: I'm posting this chapter early to give the story a certain direction for ideas to follow. Keep the reviews coming on how I'm doing :) Please enjoy!
It was kind of unexpected that I was called to the Career and Attachment Office one afternoon by the personal assistant of Kazune Nishizono, the observer for my stagiaire's first stage. I wondered what would be so important to get the attention from a staff member in a school that leans more towards fostering independence for students… Didn't I clear it satisfactorily? Did I do something wrong?
Oh...he's here too, "Yukihira, what did you do this time?" I sighed as found him leaning on the wall outside Nishizono's office. In a way, seeing him here, I'm glad that whoever was in trouble, it most likely won't be me.
"Yo, Arato, it's been awhile."
"We just met last Friday." The spoon incident was still fresh in my mind.
"Really?" He threw his trademark grin, "Well, not bumping into you made it seem like a long time to me."
Is he…is he flirting with me? No… not probably; this is Yukihira Soma we are talking about, he's more inclined to be romantically involved with a piece of truffle. Am I just over-thinking his words?
"So, do you still have any of those goji berries? They are delicious."
I rolled by eyes at his audacity to ask for something from me so casually, "I do, but those are mine."
"Aww, c'mon, it's not like I haven't shared with you anything." He stuck his tongue out playfully.
'The spoon doesn't count!' Was what I wanted to reply with but settled with, "What are you? In 2nd grade?" I exasperated. I softened at his laugh; I couldn't find myself to stay mad at him as I charged it to his unique personality. I took out my packet of berries and pressed it into his hand. "Here, in exchange for last week's dinner."
He gladly accepted the pack, "If this is what I get in exchange, I look forward to making more dinners for you in the future!"
I wanted to respond to that but was interrupted when the door to Nishizono's office opened. A burly man in a black suit with dark glasses stood at the door, looking down at us for a moment before stepping aside, clearly to signal entry. "Come in." a female voice called sharply.
We looked at each other questioningly and entered her office. The office was big, as expected for a staff in an elitist school. It was furnished with a minimalist theme surrounded by the heavy oak bookcases and thick carpeting; you could actually see where she espoused her modern personality in a room of traditional design.
"Yukihira Soma: son of Joichiro Yukihira, A-average student, 12 years of practical experience, finalist for the Autumn Election, and aiming for the top seat on the elite 10." She recited from a dossier in her hand then placed it down, her stern look never leaving her face as she practically glared at him. Uh-oh, whatever did Yukihira do to make her mad? I glanced over at him, slightly concerned. His face remained passive with his normally cheerful demeanor gone; he had that unfazed look that he adopted when faced with a challenge.
My worry spiked even more when she turned her attention to me; I felt like a mouse looking into the eyes of a snake, about to be gobbled up. As if feeling my discomfort, Yukihira shifted a little seemingly ready to shield me, his gaze not leaving hers. The tension was palpable.
"Arato Hisako: Nakiri Erina's secretary." She said with lesser edge in her voice. I expected her to recite more about me like she did for Yukihira. Instead, she looked down to pull out a folder... Hey! Wait a minute! That's all about me? I felt a little cheated and indignant. Yukihira seemed to notice that too as he breathed out quickly, fighting to suppress a smile.
"What I have here is a letter from Western Cuisine Mitamura, the restaurant where you went for the first stage of your stagiaire." She paused to allow us time to recall.
Many questions came to mind: did something happen to the restaurant? Was our reservation system not working? Hold on, if we are here with the observer and taking into account of the penalty for failing… ARE WE GOING TO GET EXPELLED? Looking over at Yukihira, our eyes met… apparently he had the same train of thought. He raised an eyebrow, 'let's see where this goes' he conveyed.
"Apparently, your contribution in your time there had an impact to the restaurant." It was interesting that she didn't explicitly say if the impact was positive or negative.
"That impact was big enough that the owner has decided to close its doors in the summer." She paused to let us digest the information. Oh My Goodness, how could that happen?
"He then wrote us a strongly worded letter," Here it comes, I braced myself for her words that might end our time in this school, "to praise your performance and request for both of you to help out at his newly opened Summer-only beachside restaurant. "
I let out breath I didn't realize I was holding and I could hear Yukihira do the same.
"And this comes to the reason why both of you are called here today," She leaned forward, with her hands folded in front of her, "to discuss with you about this job."
"Not that we mind to help, but why is the school involved with this?" Yukihira asked the question on my mind after a giving glance over to me for permission to speak for me too. "Is it now against school policy to get a summer job?"
"The school does not dictate on what you do in your summer time except for curriculum requirements. However since Mitamura-san has sent the request through the school and the fact that both of you will be working at the same restaurant that you did your stagiaire, the school reputation still bears some responsibility on your performance.
"Should you accept this offer: the school would like to remind you that how you behave during the course of the job would also reflect on us; if we receive any complaints…well, you know the consequences that this school has."
Expulsion: The horrid status for 99% of every student generation.
"On the plus side, on top of allowances from the owner, should you accept and complete this job successfully: the school will recognize it and add it to your degree audit; giving you extra in grades and references in your testimonials. Of course, this is a good opportunity for experience, especially for you, Arato Hisako."
With that, she passed the folder for her assistant to bring to us and instructed to give a reply soon before waving a hand in dismissal.
Closing the office door behind us, we looked towards each other and immediately burst into suppressed laughter at the absurdity of what happened: Why would she draw out the tension in this way? She could have basically told us that we were requested to help Mitamura-san over the summer for us to consider. The only thing to note was to behave ourselves. Well, Most of the staff in this school has their own unique personality. Perhaps this was hers: being too serious and the fact that she doesn't mince her words.
"So, what do you think, Arato? Will you be going for this?" He asked while skimming through the folder as we walked down a corridor.
"I think I will. I just need to speak with Erina-sama about it. I will confirm with Senzaemon-dono's private secretary as Erina-sama will usually spend the summer with her extended family so it should not be a problem to get a leave of absence."
"A leave of absence? Wha- does she even pay you?" Snapping the folder shut, he seemed incredulous.
"That…That's none of your business!" In truth, she doesn't, but people are also motivated by things other than money. I quickened my pace in an attempt to place a distance between us.
He took a few large strides forward and turned to me, blocking my path, forcing me to halt. You know, I've never noticed how tall he was compared to me till he looked me in the eyes.
He seemed to want to say something but changed it instead, "Listen, Arato, if you want to be seen as someone more than just Nakiri's secretary," he gestured with a tilt of his neck to recall the earlier incident in the office, "you have to first see yourself as more than that."
"I…I…" I was at a lost on how to respond to that: was I about to deny something that was blatantly evident? That would be delusional on my part; was I about to say that it's impossible? No, I know within me, there is more that I can offer; was I about to say that I will? That was out of the question as I have been with her for nearly all my life…
He sighed, looking away and muttered under his breath, "sometimes you can really make people worry for you." He took a deep breath and finally looked up, making a firm decision, "Okay, I've decided to participate and help at the Mitamura Summer-only restaurant."
"Eh? What about your own restaurant? Didn't you have that new dish that you wanted to make?"
"Summer holidays last for six weeks and the request was for us to help only in the first two weeks leaving me time to keep the restaurant open for a month." He gestured the math with his fingers. "So in these two weeks, I hope to gain additional experience by working for someone else…it is also good to be an employee so that I can get free time during breaks to enjoy the sea!
"And I am hoping that I won't be there by myself," he was clearly referring that line to me. "So, Arato, I hope that you can find time to yourself, not as Nakiri's secretary, but as Arato Hisako, and help the restaurant we worked so hard for during our time there together."
He offered his hand to me as a symbolic gesture, "So, what do you say?"
What's wrong with being Erina-sama's secretary? Was that supposed to be an attempt in rallying my commitment? Well anyway, it was quite fun working at Mitamura-san's restaurant and I do feel a sense of responsibility towards them. With Yukihira there, at least there is some company... And hey, as he said, I could be there and enjoy the sea; it is part of any high school summer experience, isn't it?
It was in that line of thought that I reached out and shook his hand. "Alright, let's go."
"A beach restaurant?"
"Yes, it's the restaurant Mitamura where I went for my stagiaire. It had just opened a summer-only branch by the sea and the owner has invited me to work there for two weeks." I smiled lightly.
"Oh! That sounds fun!" Erina-sama's eyes shone, looking all excited. She quickly added with a slight hopeful tone, "Are you going by yourself?"
"I won't be there alone though; Yukihira will be there too."
"Y-Yukihira-kun?!" her excitement seemed to deflate immediately at the mention of his name and her lips devolved into a slight scrawl. Why haven't I noticed that before? "Why's that plebian going to the beach with you?"
"It's on request by the owner," I gently replied before declaring, "Not to worry Erina-sama, I'll make sure that I will be back to serve you when I return."
Erina-sama hemmed and hawed while she griped at the hem of her skirt. "But…but what about my scheduling?"
"I've just spoken to Senzaemon-dono's private secretary; I believe that you were scheduled to be in Sweden for the summer holidays?" I took out a notebook with her scheduling to confirm the dates. "Says here it's for the annual Nakiri clan reunion…Is there a change in plans?"
"No…no change at all." Nakiri-sama still seemed vexed…"I thought...I was hoping that…Sweden…" …could it be?
"It would be an honor if I could join you there, Erina-sama, but your trip is a private family affair."
Erina-sama bit her lower lip as she does when she has something else to say but was holding it back. "The beach... it is going to be sunny…remember to put on sun screen."
It warms my heart whenever she shows concern for me. "I will, Erina-sama, thank you."
"Come…come back soon," she said with a slight pine in her voice.
"Yes, Erina-sama." I checked my watch and noted the time. "Ah, please excuse me while I make arrangements for this afternoon's tasting." I made a slight bow and left her office.
It might be just me but, could it be that she wanted to go too?
Maybe I'm thinking too much.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Please leave a review on how you think their relationship should go.
As a challenge and fun, leave a review on any scenes you like to see and I'll work it into the story somehow. I'll make sure to acknowledge you is I do so!
Here are some ideas I had so far:
Soma Standing up for Hisako, Hisako in a Chinese dress... Any others? :)
I don't usually do this but I would like to acknowledge the reviewers of the first chapter!
Johnny Walker: Thank you for being the first to review! Hisako has a lot of potential to grow in this story but I'll do my best to keep her backstory as close as canon as possible. I will take you up on your suggestion!
Evolve Love: This pairing is my OTP too! I love how well they synergized together during the stagiaire arc and how she began to see him as someone she can rely on. I strive to continue to meet perfection expectations!
Wu: Thank you, I really try to do so by putting myself in their shoes and consider what they would say and react to certain information. Hope they still are in this chapter!
gwkrenegade: Here's chapter 2! Hope you like it too.
aGoldenLion: It's an honour to be reviewed by the Author of "Nakiri's Desire"! It's a great story by the way, keep it up!
X10gox707: ¡Hola! Lo siento, pero yo no hablo español. No obstante gracias por sus comentarios! Voy a añadir su idea en la trama también!