"This meal is superb, sempai!" With eyes closed while savouring the dish, Nodame complimented Shinichi.
"Baka!" He answered back, but with a broad grin on his lips.
"I really did miss your cooking, sempai."She's all giddy and excited.
"Then why aren't you coming over dinner?" Shinichi closed in at her.
"Ano . . . ." In her mind, the interrogation is now starting; she better dodge them or else, she'll be toasted. "Nodame became busy with school and work." Dodging questions with truths, yes this will be her strategy.
"But you could call?"
"Ano . . ." With no more reasons to think, she changed the topic, "ah, sempai, is it okay for me to learn modern music? I've heard this song on the radio and I kind of like it, I remember the title as The Prayer."
"I don't think I know that song. Could you play it?" Shinichi started picking up the used dishes.
"Okay, after I've done the dishes." Nodame picked up the remaining used utensils and brought it to the sink.
Shinichi could have told her to play the piano right away but he thought that this was the first time Nodame volunteered to do the dishes, so he let her be. "Oi Nodame, don't break anything. You can start playing after you're done with the dishes, I'll just take a shower."
"Hai, sempai!" Something excites her with the word "shower" but she definitely holding the excitement, she doesn't want to be pushed away again.
'Nodame is maturing. Maybe that job at the cafe is doing wonders in some of her disposition.' Shinichi said to himself as he went in the bathroom. There's a small satisfaction in his thoughts. But he's hoping that her hentai ways did not totally left her.
A soft melody started to play in the piano while Shinichi was halfway through his bath. "Ah, it sounds good, she really has good ears when it comes to music; but she must not indulge in modern music, not just yet. She must know and learn with the masters first."
The music had stopped when he stepped out of the tub. 'I must have dozed off. Maybe Nodame is already asleep by the piano or the sofa, I need to hurry and give her a blanket before she gets cold.'
But Nodame was nowhere to be found in his apartment. All she left was a colourful note.
Thank you very much for the dinner. I enjoyed it very much and looking for the next menu you would cook for me. Nodame needs to go home as she has classes very early in the morning. Will sempai visit Nodame again at the cafe?
'Darn! Why did she have to go? I was even thinking of letting her have the bed for tonight. =( Maybe she thought I would let her sleep on the sofa. Maybe the sofa is too much for her.' He was scratching his head. 'Maybe I should tell her ahead of time that she could sleepover too anytime she wants.'
He briefly stopped and then spoke to himself again. 'Why am I so paranoid these days, and why do I miss her so much? Should I tell her? No, maybe not, she'll plague me with sweet nothings if I do that. And . . . . and she would surely bring her things here again . . . . those dreadful 'Puri Gorota figurines.'
Two days later, Chiaki decided to visit Nodame at the cafe again. He even bought a small bunch of carnations. Sorry he doesn't know her favourite flower, sure he'll know later. Nodame is not the one to pass to comment on these matters and when she does, he'll need to remember that. But then again, he decided to leave it in his apartment; he wanted to preserve that look on her face, that expression when she received those flowers. He wanted that expression to be his and his alone.
'What must I cook tonight?' He was taking a mental inventory of what's in his fridge as he was walking towards the cafe. 'Well, I did buy some pizza dough, several kinds of pasta and a nice chunk of salmon. If she wants some ebi tempura, we could have it for lunch. That's right! I'll ask Nodame to come and take a walk with me tomorrow morning; we could pass by the fish monger and buy some more sea foods for lunch. I know she hasn't any class on weekends.'
Chiaki was really inspired at that time. Planning on how to entice Nodame to stay with him that weekend without revealing much of his emotion (he's convinced that his style is like emotional aikido – use your opponents strength to your advantage). He was even humming Beethoven.
He seated himself almost to the farthest corner of the cafe. He could observe Nodame a bit longer before he needs to place an order. Lately, he really finds Nodame prettier than before or maybe she just smelled sweeter.
Then something caught his attention that made his blood seethe. The dirty old man from before was seating a few tables from him. He was with another man, another senior citizen, and they were speaking in Deutsch, both agreed to make a pass at Nodame, and if she won't agree to their offer, a tap on her rump would make them happy.
'Trying to make a pass, with my girl? This is totally preposterous! As if Nodame would agree to that!' Chiaki could no longer contain his anger, he went to the old me's table and spoke to them, also in Deutsch and in a loud voice "You would do nothing of such. Both of you shall leave immediately or, I'll call on the police and report your conspired harassment attempt on with one of the waitresses here."
Both men were shocked to know that somebody overheard them. They don't want to be questioned by the police, not at their age, so they decided to heed Chiaki and left the place in mere seconds.
"I guess you should find another job, one that does not expose you to so much harassment." Chiaki suggested to Nodame as they were walking towards his apartment.
"Thank you for looking out for Nodame, senpai. Ahee." Nodame clutch her bag tightly, acting demurely. Chiaki all the while waiting for her to embrace him, but it didn't happen.
Annoyed, Chiaki embraced Nodame. The surprise didn't register to her until after a few seconds. Chiaki tightened his arms around her as if trying to be one with her.
"Senpai, Nodame likes to be hugged by you, but not this tight." Chiaki let her go and started to walk again as if nothing happened. "We better hurry up, it's getting late for dinner." He held her hand and started walking briskly.