"Ah! he makes me so mad I just want to—" Watanuki slammed down the skillet onto the stove-top, and then stomped off in search of oil. He flung the bottom cupboard doors open, and then slammed it shut when he found what he was looking for. "Make Ohagi, he says. Who cares if it's out of season, he says." Watanuki uncapped the bottle and splashed oil into the pan, then used his other hand to throw in ginger and red-pepper. He tapped his foot in irritation as he watched the mixture sizzle. "You have a whole night, he says. That should be no problem for you, he says." Watanuki tossed strips of floured chicken, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms into the pan, then picked up the skillet by the handle and shook it over the flame. "Wait for me after school so we can walk home together, he says. I have a tournament coming up, he says." Watanuki tossed the ingredients a little ways up and easily caught them, then shuffled them in the skillet while his fist clenched the handle with a death-grip. "Don't forget the Ohagi, he says!"
"Oh, you're going to make Ohagi too," Yuko said from the entrance to the kitchen. She clapped her hands at him like he was some kind of baby. "You're such a hard-worker. Your employer is very pleased."
"Ohagi!" Mokona bounced up and down on Yuko's shoulder. "I love Ohagi."
"Well you're not getting any!" Watanuki shouted back, brandishing his skillet like a weapon. "No one is getting any Ohagi. Not you, not Yuko-san, certainly not Doumeki! We're just having stir-fry today."
"But what about the Ohagi?" Yuko cried. "You're such a tease, Watanuki."
"Such a tease," Maru chirped. "Yeah, such a tease," Moro repeated.
"No one's a tease here!" Watanuki screamed, and they frolicked off as he brandished the skillet at them too. "I have school tomorrow, not to mention I'm not going to give that lunkhead everything he asks for. It's just going to make his manners worst. He's spoiled as it is."
"So by denying Doumeki access to your delicious Ohagi, you are attempting to punish him." Yuko leaned against the door frame with a mysterious smile on her face.
"What do you mean 'attempting'?" Watanuki bristled. "It's punishment. He gets what he deserves, always ordering me around like I'm his personal chef, with that smug face of his no less. Just once I'd like to see him grateful." Watanuki slammed the skillet back onto the stove and turned the burner off. "Oh hell, just once I'd like to see him wearing something other than that smug look. Anything. What I'd pay to see him—"
"You shouldn't make such statements in my store, unless you want them to come true," Yuko said darkly. She was wearing a black and red kimono with crimson butterflies patterning the front, and when she sauntered over to him, it appeared as if the butterflies were moving as well. Watanuki could hear the rustle of the silk as her long sleeves dragged on the floor. She looked deeply into his eyes. "Is that what you wish for?"
Watanuki waved off his employer. "Oh come on, I'm just kidding. I wasn't actually serious. Plus the price would be too much—to just wish and have Doumeki wearing any expression I choose--that has to be up there. And no matter how much of an ass Douemki is to me, he doesn't deserve someone having that kind of power over his soul. I would never."
"You'd be surprised how easy your wish can be granted," Yuko said.
Watanuki stared at her carefully. "How easy?" Not that he wanted to have that kind of power over Doumeki, he assured himself.
"As easy as—making Ohagi!" Yuko threw her hands up in the air at the end of her cheer, the dark undercurrents in her voice vanishing so quickly that Watanuki had to wonder if his employer was somewhat bi-polar.
"You just want Ohagi," Watanuki sighed. He was going to stop talking to Yuko-san if she did this to him everytime he tried to have a serious conversation with her.
"I do, but it's the first step in granting your wish. Having power over someone's soul does not always mean that it was gained by nefarious means. Doumeki asked you to do something that was difficult, after-all."
"Yes and that's exactly the problem," Watanuki said.
"I see it as more of the solution," Yuko challenged. "He knows you are capable, so he asks for something difficult knowing that you can do it. He trusts that you will be able to do it."
"You're reading way too much into this," Watanuki said, feelings his ears heat up.
"Possibly," Yuko said. "But I shall give you advice on how to change Doumeki's expression anyway, and in exchange you will give me half of the Ohagi that you make for Doumeki."
"And like I said before, you just want the Ohagi," Watanuki said suspiciously.
"Here goes my advice," Yuko said without even trying to appease his suspicions. "Make an amount of Ohagi that will be satisfactory for Doumeki, bring it to him tomorrow after his archery practice, eat it with him, ask him about his day, and then you shall see just how complicated Doumeki Shizuka is."
Watanuki blinked at her. "Wait a minute, are you asking me to be… nice to Doumeki?" Watanuki said it like the words stung him. Actually stung him.
"Yes, I am asking you to be very nice to him. So nice, in fact, that he will not know what to do with you. I will simply leave you with that." Yuko turned to leave, but before she exited the kitchen she threw behind her, "I happily await my Ohagi."
The next day came faster than Watanuki wanted it to. He had deliberated the advice that Yuko had given him, and while he was suspicious of it--terribly suspicious, especially when she had practically swooped down on him when he had been doling out her portion of the highly coveted Ohagi—he was starting to see the logic behind her words. He thought of it like this: if Doumeki, his most abhorred enemy, had come up to him one day and began to act nice, it would certainly freak him out. It would more than freak him out. He would probably run shrieking from the scene and leave Doumeki behind in fear that the world was coming to an end and the spot where Doumeki was standing would be the first place to be destroyed. It would certainly be unsettling to have Doumeki nice to him. As much as he thought he deserved some civility, for it to come from Doumeki would be weird.
So seeing his scenario more than reversible, Watanuki walked over to the other side of school the next day, a multi-tiered lunch box under his arm, and a polite greeting for all the members of the archery club who were sticking around by the dojo. Practice had just let out, but none of them seemed to be in hurry to go home. Doumeki hadn't even put away his gear when he had walked into the hall, and was still shooting arrows at the target with a steely gaze in his eyes.
Watanuki looked around for the captain, but when he saw he was nowhere to be found (probably helping someone put away gear), he took a seat against the wall and waited for Doumeki to notice him. It didn't take long. His animal senses had probably picked up on the food, Watanuki thought, as he unwrapped the green cloth around the box and folded it neatly. "Can we eat here?" Watanuki asked as Doumeki came towards him like a zombie and single-mindedly reached for the Ohagi, cramming two in his mouth and answering his question for him.
"Did you bring tea?"
Watanuki suppressed the urge to yell and brought the thermos forward to pour him a cup. There was a strange silence between them, and Watanuki felt Doumeki staring at him rather intensely as he sat back to enjoy his tea. So he noticed I'm acting differently, Watanuki thought with an inner smirk. Well, it was about to get a whole lot worse… for who exactly, though, Watanuki was still unsure. He would have to make an ass of himself in front of Doumeki and the archery team, but it didn't matter since it was only Doumeki and Watanuki was used to people talking about him in school. What would have bothered him was if he'd had to make an ass out of himself in front of Himawari-chan. He was grateful that she was not here to see this. But then again, he was torn up about her not being able to see all the stupid faces that he was going to wring out of Doumeki too. It was a shame, really.
Squaring his shoulders and taking a deep breath, Watanuki prepared himself for a journey into unknown territory, for he, Watanuki Kimihiro, was about to be supremely nice to his mortal nemesis, Doumeki Shizuka. It was going to take a lot of facial control and biting his tongue, two things that he was not used to doing in Doumeki's presence. He hoped he didn't bite his tongue off in the process because he wanted to be able to laugh about this later. Hopefully things would go as planned, or else he would have to commit suicide on the nice wooden floors of the Archery Hall.
"So…" he cleared his throat and began fiddling with his sleeves, "how was your day?"
Doumeki stopped cramming food into his mouth and stared at him. There wasn't an immediate response, but the archer eventually came around to it, mumbling something in between chewing that sounded like "it was okay."
Watanuki had to overcome the strong urge to hit him over the head with the lunch-box. He didn't appreciate people speaking to him with a bunch of food in their mouth. "Is that so?" he fake-laughed and reached for the safety of the thermos, as it would give his hands something to do, something that didn't involve picking up the lunch-box and bashing Doumeki over the head with it. He leaned over and poured Doumeki more tea. "I can see that you're practicing really hard."
There was another one of those long pauses on Doumeki's end. He was also avoiding eye contact. "Tournament's coming up," he said simply and shoved another Ohagi into his mouth, like he couldn't think of anything to say and shoving food into his trap would serve as a good excuse to keep quiet.
Well, that was new: a Doumeki that didn't know what to say. Watanuki thought he liked this change very much.
"So when is the tournament?" Watanuki asked.
"Friday." Doumeki crammed another rice-cake into his mouth and then followed it up with some tea.
"Friday, huh?" Watanuki wasn't feeling as self-conscious as he thought he would. It was surprisingly easy to carry on small talk with his mortal nemesis when he had the upper-hand. "I have work after-school, but I'm sure Yuko-san wouldn't mind if I was a bit late." He paused to add the needed effect to his next sentence. "So… do you mind if I come to cheer you on?"
"Pfftt!" That was the sound of Doumeki Shizuka spitting out of his tea and it was also the sound of Watanuki congratulating himself for a job well done. He had kept it together. He'd seriously had the urge to shout something about going to hell and back before he would ever grace Doumeki with his presence at one of his stupid tournaments, but he had kept it together. Yuko-san would be proud.
"Oh, Doumeki, are you okay?" Watanuki was starting to realize that he had a serious talent for acting. Maybe when he was finished with paying off Yuko-san, he could join the drama-club at their school. Plenty of people did tell him he had a knack for Drama…or was it over-dramatization? Casually taking out the hand-kerchief in his pocket, Watanuki dabbed at the wet spots on Doumeki's archery uniform.
Doumeki grabbed his wrist in a surprisingly strong grip, stopping him. "It's okay," he said and then let go of his hand quickly. "It'll come out eventually." Watanuki could feel the other archery members staring at them, even heard giggling in the background. Hmph, ten more points for embarrassing Doumeki in front of a crowd, especially a crowd that usually witnessed him at his best.
"That might leave a stain on your keiko-gi if you don't use some baking soda."
"Okay," Doumeki said awkwardly, and Watanuki could have died and gone to heaven with just that alone.
"If you can't get it out in time, don't hesitate to bring it to me. I could probably get the stain out for you."
"Are you sick?" Doumeki suddenly asked. He was staring at him intensely. "Did a ghost possess you?"
"What?" Watanuki laughed. "No, I'm perfectly fine. Why would you think that?" He smiled at Doumeki and made the other boy glance away. "Plus there's no way any ghosts would possess me now, not with you here." He scooted closer to Doumeki, who stared at him like he had lost his marbles. Doumeki appeared to be seriously freaked out by his change in personality. He was wearing a conflicted look on his face, like he couldn't make up his mind on whether he should run or stay. This was too much. It seemed that the usual openness and affection he showered on Himawari-chan had the opposite effect on Doumeki. Watanuki could feel the laughter bubbling up inside of him—it was too much. He ducked his head in an attempt to control himself.
"I feel perfectly safe with you." Watanuki scooted closer to Doumeki's side, then peered directly up into his stupid-Doumeki face. "Don't you like being with me?"
Watanuki blinked at the sudden absence of a Doumeki-shaped body taking up his vision. He looked down and found it lying back on the wooden floor of the Archery Hall, eyes peacefully closed.
"Captain, captain!" someone shouted from behind Watanuki. Watanuki turned around in time to see the archery members crowding around him, some of them wearing expressions of shock and concern, others wearing, oddly enough, expressions of concern mixed with amusement. He could still hear snickering.
"What happened?" The captain ran into the hall like his hair was on fire.
"Doumeki fainted," somebody provided. Watanuki heard more of that inappropriate snickering and turned to give the guilty members a terse, unamused look. What the hell were they laughing at?
"He what?" the captain asked. "Why'd he faint?"
"Ask the guy he was with." Watanuki heard more snickering, but didn't bother with them anymore. Instead he turned to the captain with an apologetic look.
"Sorry, I think it maybe had something to do with the food I prepared him." He bowed his head in apology. "I'm truly sorry, especially with a tournament this close."
The captain gave him a baffled look. "I didn't think Doumeki-kun was allergic to anything, not with the way he inhales his lunch everyday..." He scratched his head. "Well, I'll go and get the nurse to check up on him. Meanwhile, you guys stop crowding around and go home. Can you stay with him um…"
"Watanuki," somebody provided. Watanuki had never remembered introducing himself to any of these boys before.
"Yes, of course," Watanuki said. He watched as the captain sped off in the direction of the nurse's office and the stranglers dispersed, the last of their snickering going with them. Sighing deeply, Watanuki reached for Doumeki and pressed a hand to his forehead. Well, he didn't have a fever, so that was good. He scooted forward and, putting a hand under Doumeki's neck, gently lifted his head and rested it in his lap. He hadn't meant to freak Doumeki out this much. Watanuki sighed again at his failed attempt at revenge. He should have just yelled and smashed the bento box over Doumeki's head instead of causing the archer to smash his own head on the floor. At least he wouldn't have felt so bad. He was never going to listen to Yuko-san again.
Watanuki looked down to find Doumeki 's eyes slowly opening.
"Are you okay?" he asked with real concern this time.
Doumeki looked up at him. He seemed to be slowly recognizing his surroundings and that his head was currently resting in somebody's lap. "Watanuki?"
"You just fainted. Does your head hurt?"
He didn't say anything and continued to stare up at him.
Watanuki was worried now. "Hey, answer me. Does your head hurt?" He placed his hand over Doumeki's forehead.
Then Doumeki did something strange and placed his own hand over Watanuki's. Watanuki stared at the hand with a suddenly sinking feeling in his gut.
"Are we going out now?"
"What now?" Watanuki asked, while that sinking feeling expanded to other regions of his body.
Then Doumeki pointed out as calmly as if he had said the sky was blue: "You said you liked being with me."
Watanuki continued to stare at the hand. He was starting to realize, while dread and horror filled in the sinkholes in his stomach, that his plotting against Doumeki had backfired, and instead of him wringing out stupid looks on Doumeki's face, he was currently staring at the hand on top of his with the stupidest look of all.
"ohagi marks the end of something and celebrates the new that is about to arrive. It is white and red, the colors that symbolize an auspicious occasion. They symbolize a short temporal pause, where people stop and reflect, feeling gratitude for what is ending and hoping for the future." I found this definition for Ohagi on this website "Ohagi: glimpses of a not-so-old Japan" and I thought it would be nice to share it with everyone.
"How to cook OHAGI" taken from Scocasso website
1. Wash mochi rice and soak it in water for a day.
3. Put mochi rice in the suribachi (mortar) and mash with a kijakushi(wooden spatula).
4. Lay a wet steam-cloth on a musiki (steamer) and put the mashed mochi
rice in/on it and steam on high heat for 45 minutes.
5. To prevent it from sticking to your hands, put a tablespoonful of salt in two and a half cups of hot water. Boil and cool it.
6. Wrap steamed mochi in a wet cloth and knead it.
Put a napkin and put it in a musiki again.
7. Knead it until it becomes soft again.
8. Make small ball of mochi rice and bigger one of sweet-bean-paste.
Make the bean-paste one flat and round. Wrap the "an" (bean paste) around the mochi rice.