Hi and welcome to more selfish fanfic! Today's topic: Take-out. I don't own Skip Beat!, obviously.
Tsuruga Ren was a secure man. He understood his own worth to be equal to that of others, and he never got anxious about whether or not his girlfriend felt as strongly about him as he did about her. He did not worry that she might just be humoring him, or that she might have been too overwhelmed by everything to say she didn't feel the same way. This is because, all things considered, Tsuruga Ren was just a character. A highly developed character that had impacted the real man beneath, to be sure, but a character nonetheless.
Hizuri Kuon, however, had all of these worries. Please note that this is not because he didn't trust Kyoko; on the contrary. He was just a young man with startlingly low self-esteem and in desperate need of a therapist. And in the near future, he would start going to one. But that is not today's story.
Kuon was pacing in his kitchen, a variety of take-out menus splayed out on the counter. Why, why, why did nowhere that delivered have hamburger steak with fried eggs? And why hadn't he known that sooner? If he had known, he would have picked some up on his way home from work. As it was, if he left to get some now, he wouldn't be here when she arrived. But if he hadn't already ordered when she got here, she'd want to insist on cooking. And as much as he loved her cooking, he didn't want her to have to cook all the time… and his own cooking needed much, much more practice before it could pass as food. However, he wasn't sure what to order. She worked at a traditional restaurant, so that was out - she ate that type of food all the time. But did she like Western food? And if so, what type? Or would she prefer sushi? Realistically, he knew she would probably try anything but frog legs, but that didn't mean she would like it. He should just call her and ask, but he didn't want to risk her saying she'd just stop by the grocery instead.
He cursed himself for not knowing more of his girlfriend's favorite foods. He didn't know what half of the things she cooked were called - and the other half had no name by her own admission. They were simply things she had made up! He allowed himself a moment to pause and marvel at this fact. But only a moment, because he needed to make a decision.
He stared blankly at the slew of menus before him, not really seeing them. Seriously, what kind of boyfriend was he? Why didn't he know something so simple? He gripped the counter, trying to keep his mind focused on the task, but it kept slipping. He already knew he didn't deserve her, and this was just more confirmation of the fact in his mind. Part of him (albeit a very stupid part) wondered when she was going to realize it for herself and find someone who wasn't so broken. He was almost always the one initiating things - and it still made her so flustered. Had that been her shyness, like he thought, or was she really just uncomfortable with it… with him?
No. This was a bad line of thought. He knew that Kyoko loved him; she had told him herself. He wouldn't let himself doubt her like this. He needed to put these thoughts out of his mind and order dinner so they could have a nice, relaxing night in. He picked up the menu of a place Yashiro had praised. He could do this. He'd just… order a few things that he thought she might like. That too… and that… and that….
Kyoko bounced on her toes on her way up the elevator. She could do this. She was going to do this. She wanted to do this. And there was nothing to stop her. Well, maybe her own embarrassment, but she had survived worse. The elevator dinged, and she stepped out onto Kuon's floor. She pulled up his number on her phone and dialed.
He picked up on the first ring. "Hello?"
"Hi! Can you come out into the hall, please?"
"Sure, what for?"
"See you in a minute!" She hung up without answering his question and tucked her phone away carefully.
His door opened and he stepped out, a confused expression on his face. "Kyoko?"
She bounced up and down a few times on her toes. Then a wide grin burst across her face as she ran at him, yelling his name and launching herself into his arms. He was too stunned to brace himself, and the pair wound up on the floor. Kyoko, laughing, gave him a big kiss.
Kuon's brain had ceased to function. He simply could not fathom what had just happened. He sat there, eyes wide and jaw slack, until Kyoko snapped her fingers in front of his face.
"Surprise?" she giggled. "You're making a fish face."
"I -" Nope, he had not yet regained word function.
Her cheeks turned red. "Er, to explain. Um. I heard what Yashiro-san said to you yesterday when I was running off to greet Mo- Kanae, about how he betted that you wished that you got such enthusiastic greetings. But they're usually surprise greetings, so I couldn't ask you about it, but I still wanted to see how you would react. But it's not like I could do this anywhere else! Because no one knows we're dating and it's not exactly fitting for reputations, but I still… wanted to see what would happen. Because Moko usually dodges or stops me with a hand when I fling the full force of my affection at her. But I... knew you wouldn't." She glanced shyly up at him from beneath her lashes. "And I was really excited to get to see you tonight, because it's been a while since it's been just us. So I threw all of that at you. Are… are you okay?"
Kuon finally found his words. "I - that was awesome. Yes." Okay, he hadn't found the best words, but they assuaged Kyoko's worries. And then more of her rapid-fire speech sunk in: the force of her hug attack came from how excited she was to see him… and how much she loved him. She had knocked him to the ground.
Her lips twitched as if she was holding back a laugh. "Kuon?"
He was flattered, overwhelmed, and indescribably happy. A vibrant pink spread steadily across his face. He tucked his face into the crook of her neck, trying to hide the color, but to no avail. He had been so worried - so insecure - for no reason. Sometimes he forgot how deeply Kyoko loved. Or maybe he had just never let himself think that he would be someone who would receive that depth. And that love was for him as he was, right now, even without knowing more than one of her favorite foods. He knew, in that moment, that he would indeed have the rest of their lives to learn everything about her. He understood that she would let him.
It was Kyoko's turn to blink. Kuon was blushing. He almost never blushed. She pulled back and - before he could stop her - snapped a picture. The flash snapped him out of his stupor, and he grinned at her. The flash went off again, and he wrapped her in his arms. "I'm glad to see you, too, princess."
It really was unfortunate that the elevator opened at that moment to reveal a member of the security team. The man in question was Yamada Takumi, a hardworking man who had about fifteen minutes left in his shift. After that, he would head home to his wife and their two teenage children, who would ask if anything interesting had happened that shift. It rarely did, but tonight he would have a fun anecdote to tell them over dinner (without naming any names, of course, as he took his job seriously): One of the high-profile residents, confirmed to be home at the time, had not been responding when they buzzed to ask him if he had ordered food to be delivered. He had gone up to check that everything was alright, only to find said resident sitting on the floor with his regular visitor, their limbs tangled and their faces vibrant colors.
To his credit, Takumi made no comment as Ren and Kyoko scrambled to their feet. "Tsuruga-san, did you order delivery?"
"Er - yes. I did. I'll come down and get it." He patted his pocket, confirming that his wallet was there. He turned to Kyoko. "Princess, would you mind waiting up here?" So more people don't recognize you?
She caught his intent and dashed through the still-open apartment door with a squeak, her cheeks burning. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod Yamada-san saw us! He's always been so nice to me and now he's going to think I'm some sort of loose woman!
Kuon had never experienced a more awkward elevator ride. He tried and failed not to fidget as the older man stood stoically next to him. When they finally arrived on the ground floor, he hurried out to meet the delivery boy.
"Having a party?" the teen joked, trying not to be overwhelmed by the star's presence.
Kuon blinked at him as he counted out yen. "Er, sort of?"
"Just - the amount of food. Right. Sorry." He took the payment and handed over the receipt. He bowed. "Thank you for your patronage!"
"Thanks," he replied, picking up the food and stepping back into the elevator. He just hoped that Kyoko would like it.
Yamada chuckled to himself as he headed back to the security office. Sometimes he forgot just how young that tenant was. Ah, kids in love.
"Kuon," Kyoko said slowly, watching as he pulled container after container from the bags (yes, bags plural), "is Otou-san in town and neither of you told me?"
"What? No, not that I know of," he replied. The kitchen counter, previously covered with take-out menus, was now covered in containers.
"And you… didn't invite anyone else to come eat with us?" She eyed the containers, doing a quick count. There were at least fifteen different entrees.
"No." Like he'd want anyone else here. He had to share her with all of Japan as it was; he didn't want to share their rare evenings together with anyone.
"So this is all for just… us?" She gestured at the ever-growing mountain of containers.
He nodded. "Yeah, I - I wanted you to be able to relax, to not have to cook all the time. And you know that anything I cook isn't really edible. So I got it delivered."
"But why so much?" she asked desperately, her calm facade finally slipping. "Kuon, why did you order so much? You barely eat as it is and you ordered an entire restaurant!" She didn't even want to think about how much stress this must have put on the kitchen staff.
"It's…" he trailed off, realizing for the first time exactly how much food he had ordered. "I just… I realized earlier that I didn't know what your favorite foods were, aside from hamburger steak with eggs. I wanted to make sure that I got something you liked, and I guess I got kind of carried away."
It was Kyoko's turn to feel overwhelmed. "I would've been okay with anything, but thank you, Kuon. This is… this is really sweet." She raised her eyes to meet his. "You really didn't have to do it. But I'm - I'm really touched." It was a strange, warm, ticklish feeling - having Kuon so worried about pleasing her that he overdid it to such an extent. Her lips twitched upwards. "But please never do this again."
He chuckled sheepishly, a hint of the blush from earlier coming back to his face. "Sorry. What should we do with the food?"
"Eat some tonight and use the rest for meals during the week, I guess?" Kyoko replied, tilting her head. "I can take some of it back home for Moko, and I'm sure Yashiro-san would appreciate having something other than onigiri for lunch." She had moved in with Kanae a month back, after paparazzi had figured out that she lived at the Darumaya. She still worked there when she could (and made sure to have dinner with the couple at least twice a month), but Kanae's apartment was just a safer place to live. After all, any place that could keep out the Kotonami horde could keep out paparazzi!
"Sounds like a plan." He gestured to the food. "Take your pick, princess."
She giggled as she stepped forward to select her meal. Later, they would get out all of the menus and mark good meal options to avoid this situation again. When presented with them the next day, Kanae rolled her eyes but didn't turn down the containers of free food; Yashiro guffawed but gladly partook in the well-intentioned feast.
Thanks to persie for helping my brainstorm food ideas!