Summary: Falling out of love with your best friend is easy. Falling in love with your best friend's father is another thing altogether.
Warning: I have a feeling that this is going to be one of my more fluffy, non-dark fics. So call your dentist now and book for an appointment. I will not entertain claims of rotting teeth due to the over-all sweetness of this fic. Use Splenda, why don't you?
Beta by Kalachuchi and darkmirth 'cause this author's English ain't worth jacks--. No, really. Title by my baby sister, who spent thirty minutes going through my books for me for a decent one.
Votes are in and this is what you wanted to see first, people. And here I am to humbly deliver. :bows: Tamaki and Haruhi are seventeen in this fic, and Kyoya is in his early forties. Yes, I know he's a little too old for Haruhi, but this story is all about age gaps and stuff, so if it's not your thing and accuse Kyoya of being a cradle snatcher or something, use backspace right now as I will not entertain complaints on that.
No Recipe For Love
"So let me get this straight," Tamaki tells Haruhi as they shoulder past the crowds in the packed hallways after school, "You missed one question on the test?"
The blond boy shoots incredulous looks at his best friend of ten years, his purple eyes wide in disbelief.
Haruhi flicks away her brown hair from her equally brown eyes. "What's so hard to believe about that? Everyone makes mistakes."
Tamaki shakes his head and solemnly places a hand on her shoulder. "Because it's you, Haruhi. It's like, unheard of for you to even make a mistake."
Haruhi shrugs off the hand, elbows past the last of the crowd and into the bright afternoon sunshine outside the main building of the high school. Tamaki scrambles after her, trying to keep up with her fast strides. He is nearly a foot taller than she is yet she still walks pretty fast, especially when she's pissed.
"Tamaki," Haruhi says slowly as they round the street corner, "I'm not perfect. Nobody is, so please stop thinking that mistakes such as that are beyond me. It's not. And this just proves it. So will you please let it go? Besides, I don't think a B plus will affect my GPA in the long run." She shoots him a small smile. "This just means that I will have to work harder to make up for it, right?"
Tamaki can't help but smile as well while they head on to his house to do their homework, as is their routine.
"Yeah, let's both work hard!"
"Father!" Tamaki yells in the empty hallway, his voice reverberating around the house, "We're home!" He toes off his shoes and slips on his house slippers before stuffing the leather loafers in their cubby hole by the wall. Haruhi does the same behind him but with more grace.
"No need to shout, Tamaki," a voice emerging from the kitchen says, "I can hear you perfectly fine." The tall, dark-haired man wipes his hands on his dark blue apron, his ebony eyes twinkling from behind rimless glasses. "Welcome home, Tamaki, Haruhi."
"Good afternoon, Kyoya-san," greets Haruhi softly, a blush tainting her cheeks.
"Good afternoon as well, Haruhi," Kyoya greets back, his smile turning the poor girl to a puddle of goo. He turns to his son who is already on his way to the kitchen, from which the most delicious smell is wafting. "What subjects do you have homework in?"
Haruhi pads slowly behind the older man as they follow the hyperactive boy. "Um, English and Chemistry."
"What topics?" asks Kyoya interestedly. He always looks forward to these afternoons when he can help them in their work.
Haruhi sits on the kitchen table beside Tamaki, dropping her book bag beside her seat.
"Well, for English we're on Hamlet," Tamaki answers, "We're supposed to write an essay on the most famous line, 'To be or not to be/ That is the question.' Five hundred words on that one. For Chemistry, Haruhi and I were assigned to do a special research on creating artificial flavourings. We made pineapple flavour one today using salicylic acid. It was fun!"
Kyoya laughs and places a tray before the two hungry teens. It's always been part of the trio's routine: whenever Tamaki and Haruhi would come home to the Ootori household to do their homework, Kyoya would ask what topics they were on, and the two would have a snack that Kyoya prepared while doing their work. It isn't conventional by any means, but it works for them.
"And that is why you should avoid foods with anything artificial in them," Kyoya says wisely, pulling up a chair across from the two. Tamaki and Haruhi dig into their bags, pulling out their respective laptops and firing them up to start their research along with pens, notebooks, and books.
"So true," agrees Tamaki through a mouthful of chicken sandwich. He really loves his father's cooking. After all, the man is owner and head chef of the biggest restaurant in town. He has won awards and recognition for his talents, and it won't be long until he branches out in other cities as well.
Tamaki can remember the many offers from investors that have been literally banging on their door since the small-town restaurant suddenly garnered a two-star Michelin rating more then seven years ago. But somehow, Kyoya has always hesitated on the offers, giving one reason or another which Tamaki could not understand.
"Need any help?" asks Kyoya. He has helped them a lot before and is the reason the two always manage to hand in perfect assignments each and every time. So much so, that during group projects, the two are the most sought after team mates. He also organizes study sessions during exams and tests. Not that the two always run for Kyoya's help, but the man is quite intelligent and was regarded as a genius in his youth. His help is one of the reasons why Haruhi is able to graduate this year as summa cum laude and Tamaki as magna cum laude.
"Yeah," Tamaki agrees as he opens up different search sites, "I can't understand why we need to write five hundred words just to explain two crappy lines."
"Shakespeare is an ass," concedes Haruhi, "But a genius nonetheless. His plays, though critics would deem their structure a bit too generic, have this element of style that is unique to him alone. For example, this line that we are supposed to expand on. It can have a hundred different connotations, yet one true meaning, do you get what I'm saying?
"You can tell yourself that he's asking if he should continue his insanity or not, for the sake of those around him, yet everything else that is said after contradicts you. So you're torn and that's what makes Shakespeare's plays so appealing. They weren't written merely for the sake of entertainment at that time. The man himself knew of society's ills and humankind's petty woes and managed to transform them into stories that invoke every kind of reaction from people. And that, I think, is what the assignment is about. We're not only assigned to expand on the lines, but also understand them, absorb them, react to them."
Kyoya gives the girl an impressed look and she blushes, embarrassed.
"But it's all conjecture," she adds hastily, but both men interrupt her.
"No, I completely agree with you, Haruhi," Tamaki cuts her off. He turns to his father. "What do you think, Dad?"
"I think that that's a very insightful way of looking at Shakespeare," says Kyoya warmly, standing up, "Well done, Haruhi. You not only read Shakespeare, you understand him as well. Tell you what, I'll go grab my laptop and help you with your research on that. Citations from other literature should help you in your paper."
Tamaki and Haruhi nod happily, and then dig in to the sumptuous food, the latter of the two still pleased and shocked by the older man's praise.
Well, to be praised by the man you've been in love with for years has got to be the best thing that's ever happened you, doesn't it?
Tamaki throws down his pen with a loud clatter on the hardwood table and emits a sigh of relief.
"At last!" he crows, stretching his arms upward, "The gods have been merciful and we're done!"
Haruhi sighs beside him as she closes her laptop. "And we managed to do it after the fifth revision too," she says, slightly exasperated.
"Well done you two," says Kyoya from behind the counter, where he is pulling dishes out of the cupboard, "Haruhi, would you like to call Ranka-san and tell him that you're staying here for dinner?"
Haruhi, never one to miss an opportunity to eat Kyoya's special homemade meals, easily agrees and shuffles to the hallway for the phone.
After an explanation and an assurance to her father that yes, she will be fine and that she'll see him later in the evening (amidst his protests that his little girl ate more of Kyoya's food than his own), Haruhi puts down the phone and goes back to the kitchen where Tamaki is setting the table and Kyoya is putting the finishing touches on the dish.
"That smells lovely," says Haruhi, taking her seat.
"It's an experimental dish," explains Kyoya, setting down a bowl of salad, "Medium rare filet mignon stuffed with my special mushroom mix. The sauce is a reduction of…tell you what, why don't I just teach it to you two this weekend?"
"That would be great," answers Haruhi, loving the prospect of being near her beloved.
She and Tamaki have been working at the Ootoris' restaurant for a few years now, at first as KP doing the dishes or peeling the potatoes, until they were deemed helpful enough to act as waiters when the restaurant was short-staffed. During weekends when there isn't a lot of customers, Kyoya takes them there to teach them his recipes.
Haruhi of course is more adept at it than Tamaki, but what Tamaki lacks in skill he makes up for in sheer enthusiasm, since he's been in the kitchen longer than Haruhi has. Before long, days when the two aren't there became days when the staff (and some of the customers) complain that it is either too quiet or too dull.
Everyone knows that should Kyoya retire and hand Tamaki the business, Tamaki and Haruhi will surely become the most formidable duo in the restaurant business. Of course, it goes without saying that by the time that came, the two would be married and supplying Kyoya with grandchildren to bounce on his knee while the husband and wife team took care of what he had built.
How wrong they were.
"Dad, how's Sakura-san?" asks Tamaki, referring to their heavily pregnant sous chef as they begin to eat.
"She nearly collapsed this afternoon," replies Kyoya gravely. "She's only seven months along, but I told her to take her maternity leave early. She's carrying twins, so there's more at risk. I can't have her delivering her babies before a stove. Besides, I already have a temporary replacement for her so we should be okay until she's ready to come back."
He gives the two teenagers a smile. "It's your summer holiday in a month, isn't it? Then that means you could help me more in the restaurant too."
"That's right," interjects Tamaki, "You told me that your family is going to visit some relatives up in Kobe, Haruhi."
Haruhi wants to stomp on his foot. Great, even if Haruhi says that it's okay and she could miss the reunion, Kyoya wouldn't hear of it and insist that she go with them. Now how can she spend her summer with her secret crush? Stupid Tamaki!
"It's only going to be for a couple of weeks," Haruhi says hastily. "So, there should be time for me to come back and help. Besides, we're starting college next year so the money would be very helpful," she adds to try and not sound as if she's desperate about working with Kyoya, which she truly is.
Kyoya nods faintly. "Then it's decided. Haruhi, when do you leave for Kobe?"
"A few days after graduation." Her tone belies the great irritation she truly feels at being apart from her object of affection.
"I see. Then you and Tamaki have a couple of days to meet and work with the new sous chef. She came from a highly respected restaurant up in Tokyo, and is coming to work here to learn from me, or so she says." He gives them a small shrug. Details like this aren't really his concern, but as long as the new chef is good, he can't care less about her purpose for coming to work with him. Unless of course, she was sent there to steal his recipes.
Haruhi can only nod and smile in absolute joy as her heart swells in anticipation for the summer. She's going to spend more time with him! She can't believe her luck. Her prayers have been answered and they gave her Kyoya to work with for weeks.
Now, if she can only think of a plan to get out of coming to Kobe, her life will be complete.
"I can taste saffron and…a hint of ginger in the sauce," says Haruhi thoughtfully, cutting another piece of her steak. "The mushroom mix…I can smell Portobello, shiitake, and…what's that Italian mushroom you used the other night?"
"It's ceppatelli," Tamaki continues, frowning, "I thought it was porcini at first but it's a bit lighter in colour and has the same heady, pungent smell. It's what I smelled when I first came in the kitchen."
Kyoya grins at both of them. Yes, should he ever retire and leave his life's work to the two, he'll be damn well sure that he left it in the best hands possible. These two would surpass him.
"Exactly," he says, moving aside the steak to get to the fungi mix. "What else do you think is in the sauce? Haruhi got the saffron and ginger correct."
Both teens chew on their food, each cataloguing and categorizing the different tastes offered by the many ingredients.
"Lime," Haruhi says triumphantly, "You also used the juices from the steak, and reduced it with red wine. I should say a nineteen-ninety seven vintage. Good year for that particular vineyard."
The two males stare with their jaws dropped at the smirking Haruhi. But then Kyoya smiles, straightening his glasses.
"How did you know that?" asks Tamaki incredulously, "I knew it was red wine, but how did you know the vintage?"
Haruhi and Kyoya can't hold it in any longer. Haruhi giggles uncontrollably while Kyoya chuckles, leaving the poor blond slightly annoyed, as if they knew a secret he didn't.
"I'm sorry, Tamaki," Haruhi says while trying to control her giggles, "I saw the half-full bottle of the wine in the fridge when I was getting our drinks. It was recently opened so I immediately thought that Kyoya-san used it for our meal tonight. And it seems like he knew what I knew."
"Correct. Now, what's the last ingredient?" His amusement is written all over his face as he watches the two work it out.
"It's sublime," Haruhi starts.
"A flavour that seems fleeting on the tongue," continues Tamaki.
"Yet it holds on to the taste buds…."
"Distinct from the pungent aromas of the saffron and ginger…."
"Melting together in a slight sweetness…."
"The answer is…."
Tamaki and Haruhi look at each other, smiling, then turn back to the older man, eyes glittering in victory before shouting their answer.
To Be Continued
A/N: So, how was it? It's short because I just want to give a background of what you wonderful readers and reviewers are going to expect in the story. This time, it's Haruhi that's going for Kyoya, which is so unlike my other stories where Kyoya is the predator. I must say that it's refreshing.
Many of the recipes and food info included in this story will be taken from various cookbooks, the book The Food of Love by Anthony Capella (one of my absolute favourites) and some are my own recipes. Yes, I love to cook, which inspired this fic. In fact, I'm starting on my Cordon Bleu course next year, so I'm really excited about it.
Disclaimer: I changed my name for the fifth time so I can stalk Kyoya and finally stake my claim on him. What, it doesn't matter if I change my name and the restraining order(s) is still in effect? Nobody told me that! I want a lawyer!