Watanuki glared at the mixing bowl as though it had personally offended him. He snatched up the whisk and attacked the cake mix with a ferocity that could rival any demon or evil phantasm that ever pursued the poor chef. Normally the spirit plagued teen enjoyed cooking; on a normal day you might even say that he found it relaxing. Today was no ordinary day and it was all Himawari's fault. That's right Himawari was responsible for his current state of agitation. Doumeki was in clear this time. It all started at lunch a few days ago.
"Himawari-chan!" Watanuki greeted her with the usual sparkles and hearts floating around his body in a shower of love and then as if he sensed the arrival of his 'archrival' he scowled over his shoulder before thrusting the bento at the stoic archer. "And before you say anything, yes I made what you asked for even if you don't deserve it!"
Doumeki just ignored his flailing in favor of eating his lunch. But Watanuki being Watanuki took this as some blatant attempt to undermine him in order to steal Himawari's love and reacted accordingly.
"Hey! Listen when people talk to you! You big jerk!" Watanuki flailed tearing at his hair jerking this way and that. "Why? Why have I been cursed with this ungrateful oaf?"
"Idot." Doumeki muttered removing his pinky from his ear.
"You guys are such good friends." Himawari said with her usual winning smile.
"Himawari-chan?" Watanuki responded with little waterfalls of tears pouring out of his eyes. "It's not like that at all."
"Watanuki," Himawari said frowning at her bento.
"Yes Himawari-chan?" Watanuki asked hands clasped together with hearts in his eyes.
"The bento is a little bland today isn't it?" Himawari asked eating even slower than usual.
"Tastes fine to me." Doumeki frowned at her, but the damage had already been done.
Watanuki's little happy place shattered like a mirror struck with baseball bat. He visibly wilted before gingerly tasting his own lunch. But his lunch tasted fine, in fact it tasted perfect. Feeling bewildered he looked over at Doumeki, but he was eating his lunch just like he always did. Was it possible that… that Himawari-chan didn't like his cooking…
Watanuki took a deep breath clenching his teeth to shake off the unpleasant memory. If it had only been that one time he might have been able to handle it, but it happened again the next day.
Watanuki walked over to their normal spot feeling a little apprehensive. Yesterday's lunch had left him feeling shaky. While Doumeki had assured him that the bento was up to his usual standard and his own senses confirmed it, he was worried about Himawari's reaction. Although, Yuuko and that black menace had attacked the dinner he made like a starving man that stumbled across a steak dinner.
"Hey." Watanuki jumped back clutching his chest.
"Don't do that Doumeki! I almost had a heart attack!" Watanuki cried forgetting to tack on the usual insult.
"I want cheeseburgers and fired potatoes tomorrow." Doumeki said in his usual stoic manner.
"Just who do you think you are?" Watanuki screeched flailing comically. "I don't take orders!"
Doumeki pulled his finger from his ear. "Too loud."
Watanuki was about to start throwing another fit when Himawari walked around the corner.
"Himawari-chan!" Watanuki greeted with a few less sparkles and hearts. "How are you today?"
"It's been really nice today, thank you for asking Watanuki." Himawari answered with her usual smile.
Watanuki distributed the bentos feeling much lighter than earlier. Doumeki of course needed no encouragement and immediately tucked into his lunch. Thinking that the day before was a fluke Watanuki happily started eating his lunch.
"Don't you think the rice is a little on the sweet side today?" Himawari asked Doumeki with a thoughtful expression on her face.
"It tastes like it always does." Doumeki replied.
Watanuki stopped eating to eyeball the chopstick full of rice. Slowly, he took the rice into his mouth chewing slower than normal as he analyzed the flavor. For the second time in as many days he was stumped. The rice was perfect just like every other day even Doumeki thought so. Maybe… maybe Himawari-chan really didn't like his cooking.
Watanuki took a deep breath and released it slowly. He picked up the spatula and carefully began frosting the desserts. The day after that had been even worse.
"Watanuki, these fries are a little soggy." Himawari dropping it back into the bento. "And the hamburger patty is kind of spicy."
Watanuki looked at his bento helplessly. He'd already finished his own lunch and it tasted fine. He looked over at the silent archer and noticed he was wearing a puzzled frown. Catching Watanuki looking he said what was on his mind.
"It tasted fine to me." Doumeki handed back the empty bento.
Watanuki just shook his head feeling confused.
Watanuki paused remembering that Yuuko had been delighted by her afternoon snacks and had scolded Mokona for a good thirty minutes when he tried to inhale their dinner. After three days Watanuki was seriously beginning to think that Himawari didn't like his cooking anymore. Lunch earlier today had sealed it.
"You too are such good friends." Himawari observed unwrapping her lunch.
Doumeki and Watanuki were both staring at her. Himawari was eating lunch… that wasn't made by Watanuki.
"Can we eat lunch with you Himawari?" A couple girls from one of Himawari's club asked.
"Go ahead." Doumeki said indicating that they would find a different spot so the girls could talk.
Watanuki didn't even protest when Doumeki led him away.
"…you have archery practice today?" Watanuki asked still a little dazed.
"Yeah." Doumeki said lowering his chopsticks.
"Think you'll be hungry after practice?" Watanuki said offering him the extra bento.
"Sure." Doumeki set it down beside his school bag.
"Doumeki." Watanuki said quietly.
"Yeah?" He archer looked his friend.
"Does it taste okay?" Watanuki asked in a small voice.
Doumeki ate another bite. "It always does."
Watanuki smiled at that. Leave it to Doumeki to cheer him up. When he asked Yuuko the same question later she had seemed surprised and after reassuring him that everything tasted wonderful demanded that he make a complicated out of season dish for dinner the next day.
Watanuki was thankful that the local grocers were so helpful. Finding out of season ingredients was nearly impossible if you didn't know who carried out of season stock late in the year and who could get it in overnight. Like that nice couple that ran the store down the street. They special ordered the Belgium chocolate he needed for this recipe.
Even though the original called for white chocolate it was much better with the Belgium. The powdered hazelnuts in the blend gave it just the right combination of creamy sweetness.
Since Himawari had obviously lost her appreciation for his fine cooking, he was determined to make Doumeki the best lunch he ever tasted. He wasn't crushing on the archer or anything… he simply appreciated people with good taste.
"Here." Watanuki shaved the box in his hands averting his face to hide a blush.
Doumeki accepted with box with a raised brow wondering what had gotten into his friend.
"And don't go eating them all up now!" Watanuki scolded him. "That's for after you're practice today!"
"Okay." Doumeki said following the spirit bait to class.
"And I didn't make sushi either!" Watanuki snapped flailing at the seemingly unresponsive archer.
"Okay." Doumeki said knowing anything Watanuki cooked would be great.
"And don't you dare complain I told you I don't…" Watanuki stopped mid flail and blinked processing what he said. "Oh… well… that's okay then."
Doumeki's lips twitched up into what Watanuki like to call his "smirk of superiority". Watanuki looked cute when he was confused.
"See you later." Watanuki muttered wondering into his first class.
"Later." Doumeki replied walking to his own class.
Doumeki looked around again. If he didn't know better he would swear someone was watching him. Watanuki quickly turned his attention back to the project they were working on in home economics class. The cake was pretty straight forward but they were working in groups so he had to keep an eye on the girls he was partnering with. They tended to be distracted by the guys in wood shop who were building a shed in the rear parking lot.
"Careful Aya-chan." Watanuki warned the distracted girl. "If you put in too much baking powder the cake will come out salty.
Aya flushed before using a butter knife to level the teaspoon. "It's a good thing you're paying attention Watanuki-kun."
Watanuki flushed a little at her praise since he had been staring…um… watching Doumeki work on the shed. He wondered if his friend had always been so handsome… Gah! Handy! He wondered if Doumeki had always been so handy. Giving himself a mental slap he quickly greased the baking pan thankful that his partners had been too preoccupied to notice his staring, watching! He was just watching…
Doumeki immediately noticed the color staining his friend's cheeks when they met for lunch, but he decided not mention it.
"I told Himawari she could lunch with her friends on the stairs." Watanuki said adjusting his glasses.
Doumeki latched onto Watanuki and dragged him over to the cherry tree. "Let's eat here."
"Don't just drag people around!" Watanuki rounded on the archer throwing a fit. "Why can't you just ask like a normal person? Why am I cursed with your presence?"
"Too loud." Doumeki said plugging the ear nearest Watanuki.
Watanuki growled at the archer, muttered something that sounded like "ungrateful oaf", and flounced down beside him. Usually Watanuki would have launched into another tirade, so Doumeki was a little surprised by his behavior.
"Prepare yourself for the best bento you have ever tasted!" Watanuki said dramatically while practically shoving the bento into his hands.
Doumeki just shrugged and thought Watanuki was being Watanuki until he took the first bite. Watanuki felt a smirk worm its way onto his face as the archer's eyes widened and his chewing slowed. Watanuki broke his chopsticks apart and dove into his lunch practically glowing with artistic pride. Doumeki ate his lunch much more slowly today savoring each bite. He would glance at the obviously please spirit magnet every few seconds. Watanuki seemed to be very pleased with himself if the self-satisfied smirk he was wearing was any indication.
"What smells so good?" One of his club mates questioned moving closer.
"Cake." Doumeki answered handing him one of the individually wrapped beauties.
"Your boyfriend make them?" The other boy teased biting into the confection. "Holy crap! This… this is the best cake I've ever tasted!" He finished a little dreamily.
"What's taking so long?" Another of their team mates called jogging up the stands.
"Taste this!" The first boy demanded thrusting the cake under his nose.
"What's wrong with you?" The second boy huffed but bit into the offered sweet anyway.
Doumeki watched as the boy's eyes widened almost comically.
"This… this is… so good!" He whispered the word good like he was offering up a prayer.
Doumeki bit into the cake. He knew Watanuki was a good cook. He was fairly sure Watanuki was a great cook. But now… now he was almost certain Watanuki was a cooking god.
"Doumeki you dog!" The first boy punched him in the shoulder. "You finally got him to go out with you!"
"Who?" The second boy asked curiously.
"That boy with the glasses that brings him lunch every day." The first boy answered.
"…Watanuki?" The second boy's mouth fell open.
"How do you know him?" The first boy asked.
"My girlfriend has that cooking class with him." The second boy answered. "Sometimes he gives her recipes."
"Oh." The first boy turned back to Doumeki who was busy savoring another cake. "He must really love you."
Doumeki paused to consider this. "I guess so."
"You know why grandma say that love was the most important ingredient. I didn't really know what she meant, but I think I get it now." The second boy told the first as they drifted away.
Doumeki looked at the now empty container thoughtfully.
Watanuki frowned as he opened the door. "Eh, Doumeki? What are you doing here?"
"I brought this back." Doumeki held out the empty box.
"Oh, you could have given it to me tomorrow." Watanuki said ushering him inside.
Doumeki slipped out of his shoes and followed his host into the kitchen. "My team mates think we're dating."
"What?" Watanuki shrieked spinning around.
"My team mates think we're dating." Doumeki repeated stoically.
"I heard you the first time!" Watanuki said pulling at his hair. "I want to know why!"
"They'd tried the cake you made." Doumeki answered pulling down cups for the tea Watanuki had begun making before his arrival.
Watanuki blinked and processed that. "They think I'm dating you because I made cake?"
"It was really good cake." Doumeki replied serving him a cup of tea.
Watanuki frowned into the tea cup. "I don't get what cake has to do with it."
"It tasted like love." Doumeki answered as if it were obvious.
"It tasted like… What? How do you even taste something like that?" Watanuki flailed before taking another drink of his tea before he noticed his cup was empty.
Doumeki took the cup from his scowling companion and refilled it. Watanuki grunted his thanks before sipping at his tea.
Watanuki frowned at his tea cup. "Why does the tea always taste better when you make it?" He asked petulantly.
Doumeki took a drink to hide his smirk.
"So by Monday morning the whole school will think we're dating?" Watanuki asked sounding more resigned than irritated.
"Yeah." Doumeki confirmed.
Watanuki sighed pinching the bridge of his nose. "Fine."
Doumeki nearly choked on his tea.
"But don't think you're getting off easily!" Watanuki pointed his finger at him accusingly.
"What?" Doumeki asked sure at this point he was hallucinating.
"I expect you to ask me out on a real date and pay for everything!" Watanuki said snatching up his tea cup. "And it better be somewhere romantic!"
"Okay." Doumeki stared at the flushed teen for a long moment. "Go out with me tomorrow."
Watanuki chewed that over in his head a moment. "I have to ask Yuuko for the day off."
Almost as soon as he finished talking the phone started ringing. "Uh… hello?"
"Watanuki, I have to go out of town tomorrow so you can have the day off." Yuuko told him in her usual mysterious I'm-up-something voice.
"Oh, okay Yuuko-san. I hope your trip goes well." Watanuki hung up the phone.
"Yuuko is going out of town so I have the day off." Watanuki told him.
"What time should I come by?" Doumeki asked startling Watanuki from his thoughts.
"Hm?" Watanuki started to catalogue what he needed to do tomorrow and how long it would take him. "I don't have all that much to do tomorrow."
"We could meet early and spend the day together." Doumeki suggested wondering how long Watanuki could keep his cool.
"Sure, but don't expect me to cook because it's not happening!" Watanuki said blowing up.
"Okay." Doumeki agreed.
"Himawari-chan did you hear?" Aya said waving to her fellow student councilmen.
"Hear what?" Himawari asked walking over to her fellow student.
"Doumeki-kun and Watanuki-kun are dating!" Aya said beaming.
Himawari blinked a few times. "Where did you hear that?"
"I didn't I was walking through the park with my boyfriend and I saw them having a picnic!" Aya answered.
"Really?" Himawari thought Watanuki was completely oblivious to Doumeki's feelings. "Are you sure they weren't just hanging out as friends?"
Aya's smile turned into a thoughtful frown. "Well, I guess it's possible… but my boyfriend seemed really sure they were on a date. Oh, I can ask him in class!"
Himawari waved goodbye to her classmate secretly hoping she was right.
"Hey." Doumeki called trying to get his boyfriend's attention.
"My name is not hey!" Watanuki spazzed about to throw a fit.
"Kimihiro." He causing the other boy to freeze.
Watanuki blushed and quickly looked the other way. "What is it… Shizuka?"
Himawari was frozen in place. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that these two could get together without some form of divine intervention. "I guess miracles do happen." She whispered before joining her best friends for lunch.
"Yuuko, I don't understand." Black Mokona whined.
"It was inevitable." Yuuko said taking a drag from her pipe. "Himawari and Doumeki aren't the only people that care about Watanuki's happiness."
"But no one wished for Watanuki to be happy." Black Mokona pointed out.
"They didn't have to." Yuuko explained exhaling. "The price for that wish has already been paid. Time is a precious thing. Time spent cannot be regained. The price for that wish was time. All the time Doumeki, Himawari, you and I, the Zashiki-Warashi and even the pipe fox have spent worrying over Watanuki. The accumulation of all that time allowed the wish to be granted."
"It must have been a pretty big wish." Black Mokona said thinking of all the times he worried for Watanuki.
"Not really." Yuuko said mysteriously. "Watanuki hasn't been precious to most of us for very long. Most of that wish was paid for by Doumeki."