On Princes and Bugs
While trying to plan Sora and Yamato's wedding menu, Mimi keeps getting distracted. One-shot
Disclaimer: I don't own.
Author's Note: I was really hungry when I wrote this. That should be enough justification. Like Water for Chocolate by Esquivel inspired it. I highly recommend the novel to you…in other words: Go read it!
When I told Jyou, who had surprised us all by volunteering himself to the position of coordinator (he vehemently opposed the title "planner"), what I had chosen for the main course, he raised a skeptical eyebrow and asked if I remembered what country I was in. I merely served him my coldest look, and he balked.
"It's not that, Mi," he interrupted, fingering his glasses nervously. "It's just- I mean, look who we're working with. Her parents are just so traditional. They compromised on the wedding style, but I doubt they'll be lenient with the menu."
"Then they shouldn't have asked me," I replied simply.
He looked helpless. With a sigh, he pleaded, "Just don't get carried away, okay?"
"I do not like the implications of that statement, Kido Jyou."
He shook his head, giving up. "Let me know if you need anything. Remember, festivities start in four hours!"
I nodded stiffly and stalked back to my domain: the kitchen. Once inside, I immediately felt sorry. I'd been in a bad mood all morning, and it was inconsiderate of me to heap it all on Jyou. Poor Jyou. He wanted so much for the wedding to go just as he planned, and he was determined to make it the best. It was only because he adored them so much. After all, Yamato was one of the few who actually understood him, and Sora had always been kind to him. They were perhaps his closest friends; of course, he'd want the best for them (which was why he put himself in charge).
I went back to the menu I'd arranged.
I didn't think it was too extravagant, which is how I wanted it to be. The wedding that afternoon was going to be a simple affair, private and intimate with few guests and a casual formal atmosphere, complete with an outside reception in the gardens of a large ocean-view hotel and light entertainment. Naturally, I wanted a dinner menu that would reflect that. So I decided on simplicity: maybe two or three courses, preceded by a light salad and hors d'oeuvre and followed by a rich dessert.
Pleased with my selection, I put down my pencil and stretched my arms. It was getting close to crunch time, and I would have to change into my dress soon and help set up. What I planned was to start the cooking while I wait for the hired help Jyou promised me, finish it all by late noontime, have it stored properly while I run to the ceremony and then race back here, and present it all in time for the reception. So I began to pull out pots and pans, turning the oven on and tying my hair up in a ponytail to keep it out of the way. I rolled up my sleeves and looked up the first recipe.
The linguine was supposed to be mixed with clams and white wine, so I began with the pasta. It was cooking nicely in the pot, sinking under the boiling water while I began to fry the pancetta, a thin Italian ham. The vapors lifted from the pan, filling up the room, and I smiled to myself. This was going to be good. I was crushing the chilies when he walked into the kitchen.
"Mimi, you're Japanese. Get over it," he said, holding the door open with one hand.
I ignored him, turning away to dump the chilies in with the pancetta.
"Look, I know you went to that fancy cooking school in France and I know you learned a lot, but this is Japan. Turn down the creativity and stick to originality for a little while, okay?"
"People need to be more open," I reply, chopping the garlic.
"Not about food, they don't, and not these people." He left the doorway and walked over to me. "Besides, don't you think our lovely couple wants to keep a little bit of their culture?"
"They're wearing traditional clothes."
"I meant the food. If you don't have anything red, Mrs. Takenouchi will die."
"Don't be so overdramatic."
"Hey, I don't care what you do. I'm just trying to bridge the gap. Frankly, I like all this Western zing." He sniffed the pancetta and tried to sneak a slice into his mouth. I kicked him out of the way. "What is that, anyway?"
"It's called pancetta," I explain matter-of-factly. "It's an Italian meat."
"Is it any good?"
"You'll have to wait until the reception to see."
He smirked, moving towards the other pot. He lifted the cover and frowned. "Noodles?"
"Linguine," I correct with annoyance.
"What's that for?"
"It's a recipe that puts them together."
"Noodles with meat?"
"Linguine with pancetta. Don't touch that!" I smacked his hand away when I catch him trying to take a string of the pasta.
"I was just testing to see if it's cooked," he protested.
He rolled his eyes and sat down on a stool, pulling it close to the table so he could sit across from me. I tried to frown at him, but it was just too difficult.
"Jyou got into a fight the florist. There's no way I'm going back out there just yet," he confessed, picking up a clove of garlic and tossing it into the air. He caught it effortlessly, inspecting it, and then threw it again.
"I need that," I said, holding out my hand.
He grinned sheepishly and quickly dropped the garlic into my open palm. I sliced it thinly and then put it in with the pancetta. He looked away, peering around the kitchen half-interestedly, slouching in his chair. The light from the ceiling lamps danced in his eyes, and I tried hard not to notice. Instead, I rinsed the clams through. He saw them for the first time and his mouth dropped open.
"What are you doing?" he cried in horror.
"Washing the clams," I answered half-fearfully, eyeing his alarmed state.
I tried not to be too appalled by his lack of cleanliness. "Because they have to be washed before I cook them."
He stared at me in shock. "You're putting them with the noodles?"
"It's linguine with pancetta and clams."
"You never told me that!"
"And now I have to report to you what I cook?"
"Dear God, Jyou was right! You have crossed over!"
I was getting irritated now. Despite the fact that I haven't been in Japan in ten years, I was still very much proud of my heritage.
"If you insist on being useless, go somewhere else," I snapped testily.
"Long day?" he asked kindly.
I stopped to shoot him an evil look. "Try long three months. I just want to get this whole thing over with…."
He grinned. "So you've caught it, too?"
"The wedding bug."
"It's okay. It's highly contagious."
"What are you talking about?"
He shrugged. "Well, usually, when one of your friends gets married, everyone starts harping on the single guests, and the next thing you know, you're out there, scoping restaurants, stores, and even alleyways looking for a spouse so the world can get off your back and your parents can stop bitchin' at you to hook up and settle down and ease their tortured hearts."
I rolled my eyes. "Been practicing that one, have you?"
"Ever since Koushiro tied the knot."
I winced automatically. Turning away from him, I swallow hard and dump the clams into boiling water, staring at them for a while. "Everybody's changing, Taichi," I whispered finally.
He smiled. "I'll take that as a compliment."
I sighed. "Okay, so I've caught the bug."
"If it helps any, Miyako's had it since she was twelve."
"What do I do, then, pray tell?" I asked sarcastically.
"First, you get those noodles off the flame before they dry up-,"
Shrieking, I grabbed the pot and scrambled to drain the linguine in the sink, ignoring his laughter. A quick glance at the clock told me that the hired help was running late. And I had that hair appointment in five hours. I was running out of time!
"Mimi- your meat's burning-," he started to point out, but I was already addressing the situation desperately. "And the clams!" he cried.
"Shut up, Yagami!" I yelled at him when the stress finally got to me.
He leapt from the chair and saved the clams in the nick of time, hurling them in with the linguine that was still draining in the sink.
"What are you doing?" I screamed in horror.
"You're ruining it!" I shoved him aside and tried to pick out the clams, tossing them one-by-one into the pan with the pancetta and the garlic. They were burning my fingers, and one of them slipped and cracked on the floor. Taichi immediately dove for it. "Don't you put it back in here!" I refused when he handed it to me.
"It's been contaminated! Throw it away!"
"What the hell is going in here?" We both froze in our positions and slowly turned to see Daisuke staring at us from the doorway, goggling. "We can hear you two from the other end of the dining hall!"
"Cooking blunder," I sputtered.
Taichi held out the clam for proof.
Daisuke blanched. "Is that a- a clam?"
"Everybody out!" I ordered, ignoring the fact that only two were in the room besides me. (Although, in my defense, Daisuke and Taichi together could count for a room full to the brim of people.)
"Are you sure you don't want some help?" Taichi asked seriously.
I put my face in my hands. "Yes. Please go."
And do they listen?
Daisuke rolled up his sleeves and walked over. "Just tell me what to do. I live to serve."
"All right, Motomiya, you take the pasta stuff and I'll handle this meat thingy."
"Got it, chief."
I groaned and collapsed onto a stool.
"Mimi, just think, in ten hours, this entire thing will be over," Daisuke comforted, poking the linguine with a finger before scooping it into a large glass bowl. "And then you'll have a nice long break- like, seven months- and then it'll be time for Miyako and Ken's wedding."
I buried my head in my arms.
"Not to mention Koushiro's wedding anniversary in three months-," Daisuke went on.
"And Hikari's engagement party next month," Taichi added.
"And don't forget Takeru's anniversary party, too. That's coming up right after Koushiro's big gala thing."
"Followed by my engagement party."
"Your what?" Daisuke and I cried at the same time.
Taichi winked at me. "Just making sure she's listening."
I can't think of anything to say so I look away, biting my lip angrily.
"Well, I heard Jyou's getting pretty serious with his latest squeeze," Taichi said cheerfully, breaking the silence.
Daisuke nodded to confirm. "Yeah, and my mother apparently spotted Iori with a redhead at some city festival last week."
"Which leaves us three stuck in the kitchen draining pasta and hatching clams," Taichi grimaced.
"No offense, Mi, but I always thought you'd be the first to get off the market," Daisuke confessed.
"The market?" Taichi repeated in disgust.
"That's the new single lingo."
"I prefer the term, 'bachelor,' thank you."
I might as well be absent from the conversation entirely, I realized, groaning slightly. I put my head back down and let my mind wander. I try hard not to follow their conversation, but it's difficult. Everyone really is changing. Well, except for these two idiots. And they wonder why they aren't married yet.
God, I honestly can't imagine that.
I don't know why.
"Fairy tale weddings," I murmured suddenly, not fully aware I was talking aloud.
They both stopped their mindless chatter to glance at me curiously. "Mimi?" Daisuke asked cautiously, as though addressing a dozing leopardess.
I sighed, not looking up. "I always wanted a fair tale wedding. You know, one with a big white cake and a dance floor with servants in tux jackets and assigned seating and romantic music and a gorgeous, princess bridal gown." I paused. "And a prince, to finish it off."
Neither one said anything. From my position, I couldn't even read their expressions, but I really didn't care.
"But life doesn't work like that, I guess."
"No." Taichi sounded the most serious I've heard since the Digital World. "No, it doesn't."
Daisuke tried to be optimistic.
"It's not so bad. I mean, sure, true love and all that crap is great, but it's not everything. What's important is making the most of every opportunity that comes our way. So maybe love hasn't reached us yet. I'm sure it's on its way. It just got delayed, that's all."
Taichi was smirking at him. "Now that sounds oddly familiar…."
"He used it to toast Koushiro's wedding," I pointed out dully.
Taichi snapped his fingers. "That's it!" Daisuke's ears turned red.
"But it's true," he protested. "At least, I believe it. Don't you?"
Taichi shrugged. "True love can do whatever the hell it wants. Doesn't affect me."
I raised my head to look at him.
"You really feel that way?"
He shrugged again.
"It doesn't matter, anyway," I dismissed after a lengthy silence. "Fairy tales aren't real. They aren't supposed to be, at least."
"You know what, Mi?" Daisuke said suddenly. "I don't agree with that."
"Caught in Neverland, again, Daisuke?" Taichi teased, but he ignored him.
"I think you'll find your prince, yet," he told me confidently.
I smiled at him, grateful. "I think I'm just tired of waiting, Daisuke."
"That's the wedding bug talking, not you," he replied, winking.
"Hey, I think it's done," Taichi said, presenting a dish of linguine topped with pancetta and clams and chopped parsley. I was actually impressed.
"That actually looks good," Daisuke decided, staring at it hungrily. He caught my gaze and smiled a little.
"All right, fine, you can have one little taste-," I sighed exasperatedly.
"Dibs on the clams!"