"I want American!" Akane shout.
While Akihito retort, "I want Chinese!"
"Well, I'm sick of Chinese food!" Akane turn away obnoxiously. She pout as she did so.
Asami watch as the Takaba sibling comically argue over what to eat. He smile to himself because it hadn't been this lively in a long time. It's around 7 in the evening when they finally left the penthouse. They're in the car with Rei as their driver. The two continue to bicker until Rei suggests, "I know a Chinese-American restaurant nearby."
The drive to the suggested place was a brief trip. Rei park in front a small restaurant named Orange Garden. Outside are wooden benches for customers who wishes to dine outside. The bell atop the door chime when Rei open the door and the group follow him inside. The smell of herbs and spices tickle Akihito's nose - ah, this the smell he missed. The interior is more modernize than Akihito thought. The ceiling is painted orange while the rest of the walls are white. The ceiling lights are in a shape of upside down lotus. On one side of the wall is a counter with individual chairs - kind of like at a diner.
An elderly woman peek her head from a door behind the counter. "Welcome-" she greeted, but stop when she realized who it is. "My, isn't it our dear Rei and Asami-sama." She disappear behind the door and reappear with an elderly man who donned a chef outfit.
"Asami-sama," the elderly man greeted with a bow. The elderly woman follow suit. "It's been a while," they say. Asami greeted them with a firm handshake. They share a few small talks before the man says, "Rei, take Asami-sama and his guests to the back room. Ma will be there shortly."
He did as he was told and guide them to a secluded dining room in the back. It's much fancier than the rest of the restaurant. At the center is a round dining table made out of red wood. The wall are decorated using Chinese painting. Large plants occupy the corners of the room. As they seated, Akihito was perplexed as to why Rei didn't sit down with them. "Rei, come sit with us," the blond said as he pat the seat next to him. Though Rei's response was "No, thank you."
Akihito turn to his lover and pout, "Asami, tell him to come eat with us. He only listens to you."
Asami nod at his subordinate, giving him the confirmation he needs. "Excuse me," he says as he take a seat next to Akihito.
The elderly woman nearly jump when she comes in the room. "Rei, why are you sitting?! Get up!" She rushes him out of his seat, but Akihito stops her. He gently pat her arm and said with a small smile, "he save my life so he has every right to dine with us. Even if he didn't, I already consider him a close friend of mine."
His answers warm her heart. Nevertheless, he never expect her to turn to Asami and say, "Asami-sama, you pick a good one."
"Didn't I?" Asami smirk in a way that makes Akihito's heart throb. The blond felt his face flushed. "Stupid," he murmur.
"Alright, what I can get for you guys today?" The elderly woman said enthusiastically.
All four scan through their menus (consists of mostly Chinese cuisines and some American dishes), but Akane was the first to speak up. "A hamburger set! Pretty please with an egg on top." Then Akihito add. "Mapo tofu, century eggs….chicken feet….and Peking duck!"
"Hot pot," Rei said, causing the elderly woman to sigh. "You always eat the same thing."
"The usual," Asami closed the menu.
"Alright! It'll only take a minute." She collect the menus from the group and left.
While Rei pour everyone a cup of tea, Akane said, "You seem familiar with them."
"My family owns this place."
Akihito secretly wonder that too, and he couldn't help but voice what's on his mind. "Rei, then why do you work for Asami?"
"My parents were con artists….." he began. "They were in huge debt. Instead of working real jobs to pay back the money, they trick people and they stole. One day, they tried to steal from Boss and their luck ran out. But boss didn't punish them and paid off their debt instead. Of course, my parents felt indebted to him and insist on working for him. Somehow, I ended up in their footsteps."
"They don't look like it," Akane casually comment. "They look like nice people."
"They are, but they tend to make bad decisions."
"Did you have any dreams?" It was Akihito who ask.
"Like an aspiration in life."
Rei thought about it, but after a while, he shake his head no. He ask the blond the same question. "What about you, Takaba. Did you have any dreams?"
Akihito thought about it seriously. Had he? He's sure that at one point he did, but after both of parents passed away, he began working. With both school and work, he didn't have time. Going to college wasn't an option because his sister needed him. but he hoped he did. "I think I had one, but I don't remember what was it," he answer honestly. Neither Rei nor Asami missed the guilt-stricken expression on Akane's face. She looks close to tears when she heard what her brother said. "Brother-" she was about to say something when the door open and Rei's mother reel in cart full of food. She gently place the food on the table and a particular bowl in front of Asami.
"Congee?" Akihito snicker. His lover really has a tastebud of an old person.
Rei's mother add, "Asami-sama is really fond of congee, I've known him since he was a child and that's all he ever eaten when he's here."
"That's a boring way to eat." Akihito pick a piece of duck meat with his chopsticks and place it in Asami's bowl. He then grin. "There. All better."
"I'm so full!" Akihito pat rubbed his stomach, satisfied. He's at bliss at the moment. "You should bring me some food next time you come here," he said to Rei.
"I brought you guys some dessert," the elderly woman said as she place a plate of apple pie in front of them, saved for Asami. Then she answer Akihito's silent question, "Asami-sama doesn't like sweet things so I didn't bring him one."
Akihito take a bite of the apple pie. Though it's good, he felt as if something is missing. "Do you have any ice cream?"
"We do. What kind would you like?"
"Yes, we have that." She giggle. Rei's mother disappear only to reappear a minute later with a bowl in hand. She place the bowl of ice cream in front of the blond. He scoop a large amount of ice cream and place it on the apple pie. When the ice cream melt a little, he take a spoonful to feed Asami. "Here, try it," he urge. "C'mon. Say 'ah'."
The older man glare at the spoon in front of him but give in to Akihito's request anyway. "See? It's not as sweet," the blond grin.
"It's sweet," Asami said almost absentmindedly, but he wasn't talking about the pie or the ice cream.
"Did you said something?"
'Apple pie isn't bad.' Asami thought to himself. "It's nothing."
The car ride home is a quiet one, with Akihito too full to strike a conversation. The blond snuggle up to Asami, laying his head on the older man's chest. It's been a long time since he felt at ease like this, but he notice that his sister isn't. She's been tense ever since their talk about dreams, but Akihito figured maybe Akane has one of her own and that he shouldn't pry. Before he can ask her what's wrong, his phone chimes, suggesting that he's receiving a message.
Akihito check only to come face to face with spine-chilling threat. It reads, "You can't escape me, Takaba Akihito"
Asami must've the panicked expression on his face when he asked, "what's wrong?"
"It's nothing." He brush it off. "It's just a text from my manager at work."
He said that, but he's not sure if something even more worst will happen. That night, Akihito pray for nothing but peace and safety for those around him, and maybe himself too, but if that's too much to ask then all he is for Asami and Akane's safety. For now, he'll pretend to not notice the text because like the older saying goes, ignorance is bliss.