The sidewalk in the pretty neighborhood seemed quiet. Even in the darkness of the night you could see the beauty of the cherry blossom trees overhead. The houses around you were large and luxurious and spaced out nicely. 'this is such a perfect place to live' you thought to yourself.
Kiku turned to a pretty house with a simple design and unlocked the door before stepping in and removing his shoes on the little mat. You followed and did the same, closing the door. The house was beautiful with many ornate decorations that looked so antique…so real…
You touched the smooth cool dark colored wood of the table near the door. You loved the handiwork and smiled softly.
"your house is so beautiful." Your eyes wandered around the first floor of Kiku's luxurious home. It wasn't overly decorated, rather simply decorated actually. A statue or accent piece here and there, a little marble fountain in the corner. Nothing over the top but still…peaceful and quaint.
Kiku set your suitcase down near the stairs and turned to you, a bit worried that you were going to get sick. He walked out of the room.
"W-wait" you called out not wanting to be alone in someone else's home.
He came back with a blanket and wrapped it around your shoulders. "it would be rude to let you catch a cold. I'll take you to your room."
He led you to a pretty little room with cherry blossoms on the walls. You sighed in awe at how pretty It all was. The aroma reminded you of hazelnut.
"This is beautiful." You said peering around touching the bookshelf nearby, you turned to Kiku "thank you. I'm not sure how I'm going to repay you for your kindness."
Kiku smiled at you, the small quaint little smile made you feel calm and less jumpy about being in his home. "You do not need to repay me. a guest should be given the utmost care and respect."
You felt incredibly grateful but wasn't sure how to portray that…you could only smile and marvel at the handiwork of the cherry blossoms on the walls. "You're soaked to the bone. Please feel free to bathe and dry up if you like."
"T-thank you, Kiku…" was all you could reply with.
He left you alone in the guest room politely. His mind wondering how he was going to make you feel more at home. He was raised by a family that was always open to help others and known for being gracious hosts.
You finished drying off your hair and was slipping into your comfortable pajamas before stepping out of the guestroom Kiku had given to you to stay in. the minute you stepped outside you were swept off your feet by the smell of something aromatic and delicious. A kind of food for sure. but it had a familiar twinge to the nose that you knew…seafood?
When you got downstairs and followed the sounds of a chef at work, and the delicious aroma floating around you, you found yourself inside a clean, simple, kitchen.
Kiku shut off the stove and brought the pan he was using to the sink at the island in his kitchen. He began to wash the pan he had been using to make you a fillet? Okay this was new or you. you came to Japan for Japanese food, an got a fillet. You stepped into the kitchen in your ______ covered pajamas and blushed slightly. It had been a while since a guy had seen you in you pajamas. But Kiku only smiled and bowed slightly to his guest.
"I hope you're hungry." He said in his soft voice.
You stood up straight and blushed a bit more, "thank you Kiku. Y-you didn't have to do this."
"It's no problem at all. I wanted to do it,"
"Oh." You said a bit astonished and flattered, blushing just a bit more.
"It's only polite I treat my guest properly." He finished.
"Oh." you repeated.
Still happy for the kindness you were receiving, you sat at the table Kiku beckoned you to and let him serve you like a gentleman. You looked around wondering if you were alone in his house. Was there anyone else? Family? Friend? Girlfriend? Boyfriend? Pet?
"yes ______?" he replied, taking a seat across from you waiting for you to begin eating.
you started carving into the fillet "is-is it just us here?"
"well no," a soft meow was heard from below the table. You looked under to see a black and white cat with nearly identical plain brown eyes as his master. "There's Tama."
The cat snuggled against your legs purring softly. "It looks like he likes you." Kiku said with a smile.
You swallowed the mouthful of fillet and took another piece, handing it to the fluffy kitty under the table.
"he's adorable." You said sweetly. Kiku cracked a small smile and continued to watch you eat patiently.
"If you don't mind me asking, what brings you to Japan?" he finally asked, just the slightest hint of curiosity in his voice.
"I just graduated and figured I'd finally go on my dream vacation." You answered easily. Giving Kiku permission to ask away without hesitance.
"Where did you study?"
"that's a very good school. What did you major in?"
"I've always been kinda into ______." You gave a little laugh and a bright smile "never thought it'd be such a challenge to actually get a degree in it though."
Kiku became ever more curious about the American girl he had rescued off the streets, "how hard was it?"
"Not that hard really. I spent quite a few of my years partying and trying to be a normal college kid. ya know, easily passing all my classes, but doing all my course work at the last possible second. Wild parties, coffee in the morning, emotional trauma." You suddenly heard yourself say that last bit and stopped. "oh shoot I said to much!"
Luckily, the gentle man that brought you off the streets respected your privacy and didn't ask about your more "dirty life" any further. He stuck to the topic of college and how you ended up in Japan. "when did you learn Japanese?"
You sighed in relief, most people would have pried into the subject head on, but his discretion made you calm, "I started learning the basics in high school and mastered it as an elective in college."
"why?" he asked curiously, not used to Americans that were willing to go through so much trouble to learn the three different Japanese alphabets, not to mention the countless dialects.
You laughed a bit, "I told you, this was my dream vacation. Ever since I was a kid I've always been drawn to Japan. Like it was calling me for some reason."
You intrigued Kiku. You finished the Fillet and stood to take it to the kitchen but Kiku was at your side and held out his hand, "please allow me."
"er…thanks Kiku." You handed the dishes over to your courteous host and sat back down at the table. Tama leapt up onto your lap and snuggled your hand as if wanting you to pet him. You looked down a little surprised but began stroking his fur softly.
Kiku dried off his hands after washing the dishes and came back to find Tama on your lap purring loudly. He sat across you once again and your head flicked up at the sound of the chair scooting backwards. "what was that about Tama liking me?" you said with a chuckle.
"______ do you have any specific plans or destinations while you're here?"
you opened your mouth to answer but stopped yourself, realizing you actually didn't and put a finger over your lips, "actually…no. ha you'd think I'd plan that since I'm spending a month here." you continued to laugh at your foolishness thinking Kiku was laughing with you.
"I'd be happy to let you stay here and be your guide while you're here."
You froze at the words and stared at him. Confused and unable to understand how that would work or if you were dreaming. Yeah that was it, you fell asleep on the sidewalk and now you're dreaming. You pinched yourself and cried out "ow!"
"are you okay?"
"yeah I just needed to wake up from this dream." You said rubbing your arm not really hearing yourself.
"um… _______, you're not dreaming." Kiku said a little confused. You froze and lifted your head to him and blinked a bit, "I'm not dreaming…wait wait wait are you serious about what you said?" he nodded. You couldn't believe it and sat up straight narrowing your eyes to the cute young man in front of you, "what's the catch?"
Kiku tilted his head not quite understanding "catch?"
"I mean don't you have your own things to do or something?" you rambled a bit.
"but…" you protested, not wanting to believe anyone could be this nice to you. You specifically.
"______. I would greatly like to show you around and be your guide. It would be rude to leave you stranded and alone."
so lets get this straight, the cute guy from the airplane wants to be your personal guide for a month straight and is letting you stay in his house… cliché? TV show? Fanfiction? This doesn't happen to normal people! This is just plain bizarre! "Am I on a Japanese version of Jackass or something?" He shook his head and waited patiently for an answer.
"er…thanks? I guess? But I really don't want to impose or cause a problem…" you said awkwardly. Suddenly self-conscious, you found yourself hugging your arms around your ____ pajamas. "it's really no trouble." His Japanese accent made certain words sound funny when he said them. You couldn't help but let the corners of your mouth twitch a bit into a smile.
*WOOOSH! TIME SKIP! Brought to you by Bob the Time Skip King*
By your fifth day in Japan you were actually quite comfortable. It felt like you belonged here. But at the same time like it was some brand new adventure with so many twists and turns you would have gotten lost on your own.
Luckily, you were never on your own.
Kiku kept to his promise and stuck to you like glue. Not that you minded. He didn't smother you or anything, he just walked around and you followed like an obedient puppy. You two had decided to hit all the major stuff first, and then he would show you all the little things you would only get to truly experience if you lived in Japan. Or had a cute Japanese guide.
You were beginning to feel very used to Kiku's company. Like he was always there, even though you had met him literally five fays earlier. The friendship between you two grew easily. But the friendship between you and Tama grew much quicker. Tama was practically addicted to your scent and touch. The moment you would walk through the door he was there, curling around your legs purring softly, you'd reach down and stroke his fur. For such a shy little cat he had really taken a liking to you. every night you would find yourself with a black and white fluffball either on your feet, next to or on your stomach, under your hand where you were petting him, or just by her head purring you to sleep and sometimes licking your nose.
Today Kiku had brought you to an aquarium with the most fascinating sea creatures you had ever seen. Even cooler, the way it was built there were large transluscent tubes running all along the walls and roof of the aquarium. So everywhere you went you could see fish, otters, seals, dolphins, sharks, anything that swims minding its own business while you gawked at the amazing sight. You paid for a swim with some dolphins and Kiku joined you. You never knew Japan had such fantastic aquariums.
After you left the aquarium you wandered around the city for a while, just talking and enjoying the sights. Kiku would point out details to you and tell you interesting stories about how this came to be or how some rich person did this to get that. You drank in every word happily.
At the moment, you found yourself in a large, ornate, gorgeous restaurant that obviously specialized in seafood. There were large tanks running all along the walls with exotic fish you didn't recognize, bass, tuna, trout, Koi and goldish –the Koi an goldfish were your favorite- , lobsters, crabs, swordfish of all things, octopus and squid, it was like another aquarium. Except every so often you would see someone open a small hole in a tank and either snatch a fish right out of the tank or trick it into being knocked out then removed from the tank. Kiku said this place was infamous for raising it's own fish and cooking them right in front of you and making it seem like a circus of seafood.
You sat down at a bar-like table that surrounded a small kitchen of sorts. The two of you looked over the menus deciding what show to see. Lol~
"We haven't even ordered yet and this place is already breathtaking!" you said letting your eyes wander around the beautifully decorated restaurant. It was packed and you wondered how Kiku ever got reservations for this place. Your eyes rested on the Koi pond again, loving the little bamboo fountain that would stand straight, be filed with water by the stream, then bend down and release the water into the Koi pond. You watched in awe resting your chin on your hands. So serene and peaceful.
Kiku watched you with a small smile on his lips and replied, "Sometimes I think you're too easy to excite." You snapped her head up at his words blinking away the trance you had fallen in.
You pouted slightly and turned to the menu again, so many choices…. so much to choose from…what to pick!!! Your eye caught the Yakizakana on the menu, recognizing it and knowing what it meant, "grilled fish" but there were even MORE choices of Yakizakana! Tuna, Lobster, salmon! Hmm….grilled lobster….sounds promising! You and Kiku finally decided to settle on your orders and a chef, not a waiter, came over to your booth with a grin on his face. He shook hands with Kiku as if reuniting with an old friend.
"ah good to see you again Honda-san." The chef said –in japanese of course- happily, he looked like he could easily crush poor small Kiku with one hand, but Kiku seemed to be the more powerful one…if that even made sense. He shook his hand responding –yes in Japanese- "good to see you as well, Tokomi-san."
Chef Tokomi smiled and looked to you, his face becoming a bit curious and smirking softly to his old friend, "oh forgive me I didn't notice you. " he bowed slightly to you and you extended a hand.
"______ ______ but please call me ________" you said with a smile shaking his hand speaking in Japanese easily and fluently.
"______ ______. An American that speaks Japanese fluently, I should have known Honda-san would find such an interesting person." He chuckled returning to an upright position chuckling, Kiku didn't seem to be particularly affected by the comment.
"Enough chatting, it's time to cook!" the chef flicked up a large carving knife letting it fly in mid air and expertly catching it. You gasped a bit and flinched back. Then watched already transfixed. "relax ______-chan, I am a professional." Chef Tokomi said coolly. You smiled and tried to relax. Kiku seemed to chuckle slightly.
"so what will it be today?"
"Geso Shio today, if you please." Kiku replied calmly, as if this was a regular for him.
the tall chef turned to you with his hands behind his back and you blinked quickly snapping out of your thoughts, "oh, forgive me. I'd like to try the Aji Hikari? Gosh I've had Japanese food back home plenty of times but there's so much here I've never heard of!" your (e/c) eyes grew wide in fascination and excitement. Kiku and Chef Tokomi shared a glance of amusement.
Quick as lightning the chef had a horse mackerel from the tanks, flying in the air being chopped up, season multiple times, pounded, flown around the mini kitchen, and then flopped onto the flat top stove without a pan, making a juicy sizzling sound. His hand reached out and began preparing a difference thing, a sauce? He started snatching at random –well they seemed random to you- ingredients, tossing them up in the air as if he was juggling and dashing them into a pot on the stove. Seasonings like salts, gingers, and more went flying over the pots sprinkling into it as they twirl through the air. The chef cleverly multitasked keeping his eye on his other masterpiece nearby, flipping it in the air and back down every so often so it grilled properly, pressing his spatula against the mackerel. He dashed a few new seasonings and condiments across the fish as he continued working on his fancy sauce that began to become thicker and was poured into a large pan with strips of seaweed and thin strips of lobster meat, then he asked a passing waiter/fisherman to get two squids from the tanks. You froze…squid???
Your eyes followed the waiter disappear through a door and you started scanning the entire restaurant –or what you could see- for a squid tank. Just as you found it, snap! A squid vanished. Moments later, another squid vanished from the tank.
The waiter zoomed back with two plump squids. THEY WERE STILL SQUIRMING!!! You jumped a bit and turned pale. No one really noticed though. The squids were given to Chef Tokomi who wasted no time chopping up the squid, not caring about their squirming limbs, removing the dangerous stinging bits and tossing them in a small hole in the counter, quickly seasoning the tentacles and dousing them in a bit of the sauce he made.
Then he stopped for a moment, went back to your mackerel and flipped it one last time before taking it off the cook top and onto a seaweed covered plat, grabbing lemon and squirting it quickly and decorating it a bit before laying the porcelain plate in front of you.
Ha! No, your eyes were fixated on the squirming squid limbs trying to get back to their bodies. It creeped the crap out of you but you couldn't…turn…away….
The chef slammed down his knife blocking the squirming limbs and pushing them to a small shiny bowl, sliding them in and then dumping the squid tentacles into the pan of sauce, lobster meet, and seaweed, which lit into a bright fire on contact for a split second then died.
After a few minutes Kiku was nipping at STILL (slightly) SQUIRMING squid tentacles, and the chef spoke to you two in casual conversation. You were in ove with your Aji Hikari. However both Chef Tokomi and Kiku noticed your eyes would keep snapping towards the squid every so often. And you would shiver.
You heard a chuckle snap you out of your gaze. "Would you like to try some?" Kiku asked almost jokingly. You froze staring at the tentacle he was holding towards you with his chopsticks. You thought for a moment. Hey you came here to try stuff. "sure…" but you sounded hesitant and scared.
The squid tentacle slid down your throat oddly, you could have sworn it tried to grab your uvula on the way down. You shivered. It actually tasted really good, just went down…very…very…. strangely. scratch that it tasted amazing.
"That, is amazing!" the two men chuckled lightly at your surprised reaction, seeing you relax and continuing the conversation. You got into it as you spoke about what you had seen so far. Then going into how you ended up here and it was discovered that Kiku actually lived in America -(city) to be exact- too. That e sometimes came to Japan for fun since it's where he's from and his family and old friends are here.
After a delicious dinner the two of you went back to Kiku's house. You kept on babbling about how you wanted to learn to cook like that. Kiku listened intently every so often giving you tips or saying something interesting.
"Thank you Kiku." You said gingerly as the two of you strolled down the beautiful street.
"hmm?" he said turning his head towards you.
"Thank you." you repeated smiling happily. This trip was already more than you could have ever hoped it could be. Kiku froze for a moment then smiled softly.
"It's truly my pleasure ______-chan"