"Eimi! Are you going to stay in bed all day? Suzu and I going out." Misao pulled the bedsheet covers where her roommate is currently buried underneath, and peered down.
She pretended that she is still sleeping, but her roommate nudge her, so she has no choice but to open her eyes and give the best yawn she could muster.
"You're looking pale you know." Misao tossed back the sheets at her, not fooled by her display of sleepiness.
Eimi sat up and said nothing, studying her friend with interest. Pretty Misao is all dressed up in a cute white, frilly blouse with tiny black polka dots and tight jeans. Even without makeup, her face looks perfect. In a Saturday afternoon like this when all the boys are also out, she would not be surprised if they follow her wherever she goes. Misao is a true guy magnet.
"Are you going to the food expo?" she asked instead, suddenly remembering the date. She loved food expos, where she can sample all the great foods that caught her eye and even buy lots of food packages to take home. The opening was held last week, and today is its second week of roadshow.
Her friend nodded. "Yup. I wanted to buy those purple yam chips that you bought home last week. Suzu wants to try the pesto sauce she saw in the flyers they distributed yesterday. Aren't you coming?" she pulled her hair into a ponytail and checked her reflection in the mirror they both shared.
"Hmmm.." was her only answer.
The truth is, she really wanted to go again, if only for the fact that she feels so happy just staring at all the food in its wonderful colored packaging. But after experiencing the stomach flu, she decided to lay low for a bit. Besides, she blew her week's worth of allowance on those delicious sweets, fish crackers and buns stashed in her emergency life box under her bed.
Her friend raised one eyebrow. "Are you okay? Is your stomach hurting again?" she approached her and sat on the bed beside her, concern etched on her face.
Geez, one rare case of stomach flu and everybody is freaking out. She bit her lip in contemplation. "I'll come by later. I needed to fix some things first." she stalled, looking out of the window.
"Well, if you're sure. I will see you later okay? Call me when you're there." Misao stood up, grabbed her white sandals from the shoebox near the entrance of their dorm room, before letting herself out of the door.
Eimi stared into the empty space before her and sighed. She feels restless today. Lately, she's lost her appetite too. And for the past week now, she's been forcing herself to eat just so her dorm mates will not get suspicious and blow things out of proportion again.
She knows why she's feeling out of the blue. She hasn't seen Wanichin for several days now, and she's a bit worried.
Glancing at the mobile phone she placed on her bedside table, she gave a sigh when she noted there are no new messages for her yet.
For a few minutes, she just stared, pondering on what to do for the next few hours. She needed something to distract her mind from worrying. She'd done her homework and finished them all yesterday. An amazing feat, since she normally leaves her homeworks up to the last minute (usually on Sunday nights), until Misao would gently scold her for procrastinating too long like she normally does every weekend since she moved in as her roommate. Cleaning up her mess would be futile. Just staring at her clean side of the room made her want to shake things up again.
She slid out of her bed, forcing herself to move. She feels slightly sluggish from lack of sleep. Last night was the worst. She just tossed and turned in her bed, imagining that something happened to Wanichin. It was so dreadful that she only managed to catch a few hours of sleep when the sun was finally up.
"Eimi, I will be gone for a week. My friend has invited me over to his place to do some carpentry work, and the pay is good for a week's worth of odd jobs. I might call you while I'm there just in case. But for the most part, I probably would be busy finishing the job so I can get back soon. The dorm head allowed me one week." Wanichin was smiling at her gently, cupping her face with one hand, while he stared at her deep in the eyes.
She nodded unquestioningly, looking up at his shadow-covered face. Despite the poor street lighting outside their dormitory's gate, she loved staring at his face. He looks so strong, formidable and perfect. Even with his serious expression, which most of her friends seemed to agree that it makes him look grim and dangerous, for her, Wanichin's expression signify that she's in good hands, and that he won't let anything hurt her.
"I'll wait for you." She replied. "Take care of yourself. And don't forget to bring some food for me." She added as an afterthought, and her stomach rumbled in agreement.
He chuckled softly, his free hand snaking around her tiny waist, pulling her close. He leaned down, until their foreheads touched, noses bumping into each other awkwardly. His eyelashes tickled her eyelids. She did not move, savoring the closeness he initiated. At times like this, he makes her feel all soft and fuzzy inside. Like what her dog used to make her feel when she hugs it. Only a hundred times better.
She could smell his unique masculine scent, the pine fresh laundry soap of his clothes, the faint tobacco from his cigarette. She felt her face turn warm at his sudden closeness. It was the first time he ever showed his affection for her like that. Ever since the stomach flu incident, he has been surrounding her with his presence every single day, as if marking her as his own.
His actions reminded her of a wolf *, claiming his chosen mate. Like what she usually sees on the animal channels she occasionally watches in the common rooms.
It puzzled her, because he never said anything. Or what kind of game he is playing on her. But whatever it is he is implying at her with his constant presence, she liked it. Very much.
He left as soon as she was inside the dorm gates. She was half-afraid he would kiss her, half-afraid that he wouldn't. The thought surprised her, and it stayed with her for several days, disturbing her daily daydreaming activity session in the classroom. But as she recalled, watching his back while he slowly made his way towards his own dorm, it suddenly didn't matter to her whether he kissed her not when he bid goodbye. The anticipation on his return would be worth the wait.
She squeezed the bottle of shampoo on her wet palm before lathering it on her head. The shower stall instantly smelled like green apples. It made her mouth water for some of the apple pie Wanichin gave her when he took home from his girlfriend's place.
She froze suddenly, remembering the older woman's pretty face; remembering with painful clarity as his girlfriend's hands gently smoothed Wanichin's hair, carefully placing the scissors to snip at the ends.
Eimi frowned. Was Wanichin staying with her after all? Is that why he needs to be alone for a week? But no, he wouldn't lie to her, right? He's working in some faraway place for his friend. But a week has gone by and he still hasn't called her. He was supposed to be back yesterday.
Her stomach rumbled. Thinking too much made her hungry. She'd better hurry up or else all the free samples would be gone in the expo. She turned the mixer tap and began to wash her hair vigorously.
"Eimi, is that you?"
She turned, expecting to see Wanichin's surprised face, but mentally registering that it's not him. Instead, his roommate, Nui-nui jogged the few steps between them, closing their distance quickly.
He handed her a bunch of keys, the metals making a sound, grating her nerves.
"Huh?" her hands closed over the set.
"Wanibuchi forgot his keys. He's supposed to be back yesterday. But I didn't see him, and I needed to get out tonight. I probably won't be back until tomorrow after lunch." He ran a hand on his disheveled head, eyes twinkling mischievously, apparently excited about something.
She glanced down at her closed hand, not saying anything. She tried to school her disappointed features. When she looked up again, she gave a start and took a step back. Nui-nui's face was peering at her closely-too closely. In fact, she could see the tiny green flecks on his hazel eyes*.
"Err.." she mumbled.
"I barely recognized you." Nui-nui said, running a finger on his chin as he studied her.
She felt her cheeks colored with embarrassment. She was wearing the clothes that Suzu and Misao bought for her on her birthday last year: a short, emerald skirt that flared around her thighs; cream-white cotton blouse with pearl buttons in front and a thin, yellow undershirt. She saw the outfit buried underneath her collection of funky sweatshirts and thought that it would suit the warm weather.
"Its-" she started to say.
"You look pretty in that outfit." Nui-nui interrupted, nodded satisfactorily as if he was the one who chose it in the first place. "In fact, you look so nice, I might pay more attention to you."
She raised her eyebrows in surprise. To think the day came when Nui-nui complimented her on her choice of outfit. Armageddon must be coming. "I beg your pardon?" she asked, her brow furrowed in confusion just to make sure the highschool senior was not drunk or anything.
"Anyway," Nui-nui rushed on. "Hold on to those keys. I send a message to Wanibuchi to look for you. He's bound to drop by your place anyway." He added, before waving his goodbye and joining his group of friends who was eyeing her speculatively.
"B-but.." she started, but the senior was already too far from her to hear her half-hearted protest.
Now what? She glanced down at her watch. If she went ahead to the food expo, Wanichin might come and he has no access to his room. He would probably wait for her till he falls asleep in the sidewalk. But if she waited for him, she won't be meeting Suzu and Misao.
Her head hurt from the slight hunger she was feeling. Why did she not eat her seconds during lunch time?
Gahhh.. She threw her hands up in the air.
It was lucky that the boys living in the dormitory normally her gave no attention as she made her way through the hallway where Wanibuchi lives. They were used to seeing her make her regular visits to their dorm president's room to pester him about the mysteries of everyday life. Though today, they were giving her more than a few double-takes that its starting to annoy her so much. The small kitten heels of her emerald-colored shoes clicked pointedly as she stomped her way loudly past the groups of guys in various states of activities ranging from lounging in the common rooms, to texting their girlfriends, while some sported fiction novels on their hands, while others cram for their college entrance examinations.
A couple of guys greeted her politely and she nodded somewhat grimly, barely registering their acknowledgement. No one protested when she invaded their building, or else they have Wanichin to deal with. And no one wants to attempt making the dorm president annoyed. Despite her insistence that he is actually nice and good, with his commanding presence, everyone still believes he has ties with the Japanese mafia.
She jiggled the main key into the keyhole and turned the knob easily. Flicking open the light switch, she eyed the room, as if expecting Wanichin himself to surprise her. Disappointed, she kicked the door shut and removed her shoes, shoving them on the side, and letting her feet drown in the plush carpet. The boys' dormitory building is really so much better, she thought yet once again. Why wasn't she born a boy if only for this kind of luxurious living?.
As usual, Nui-nui's side looks impeccably clean: bedsheets folded neatly, pillows stacked on top of one another, books piled high on one corner, term papers grouped together in color-coded file folders. Seeing them arranged so neatly, her hands literally itched to mix things up a bit.
Wanichin's side, on the other hand, looked bare. Except for a few textbooks sitting precariously on one corner of his study table, the hurriedly tossed clothes piled in the middle of his half-made bed and a thin pile of loose papers, his side of the room gave no indication that a highschool senior actually uses it.
Eimi ignored the clothes on the bed, pushed them to one side and leaned forward, feeling underneath. She found his stash of cup noodles and tore off the plastic wrapping, heading to the small kitchenette where Nui-nui keeps the thermos constantly filled with just-boiled hot water. She pumped the hot liquid into the bowl, covered it and carefully made her way to Wanichin's bedside, where she sat on the floor, waiting for the noodles to cook.
The spicy aroma filled the room, and she happily inhaled the scent of cooked noodles. She picked up a discarded, battered copy of Great Expectations Wanichin reads when he's bored, and began flipping through it as she slurped the noodles contentedly. It feels like she has come home when she is surrounded by his scent and the smell of noodles.
All too soon, the noodles were finished, the soup long gone, and she stood up and threw the empty container into the thrash bin below the sink. She washed her hands carelessly, leaving splashes of water on her white cotton blouse.
She looked down, simultaneously thinking what Misao and Suzu will do to her if she forgot about her blouse, and automatically removing the wet top from her body, leaving the thin yellow undershirt on.
Eimi sighed as she drop the blouse on the bed, next to the discarded clothes. She looked around. There was nothing for her to do except to wait. She sent a quick message to her roommate that she changed her plans and would be going to the mall instead. It wouldn't do no good if they find out she's waiting for Wanichin. They'd probably demand Wanichin to protect her honor whenever they think he's done something to her. Of what they were talking about, she really has no idea. Misao always shakes her head when she asks her about physical health and stuff. She just adopts a glassy look and thinks about the different flavors of pocky she scored that day.
She grabbed the copy of Great Expectations again and decided to settle on his bed, making herself comfortable under the covers. She found a spare pencil and began scribbling some ridiculous comments at the sides of the pages.
I wonder whether Miss Havisham ever gets itchy with the wedding dress she always wear. She wrote on one page before laughing to herself.
Turning a few more pages, she turned a little bit somber when she got to the part where Pip discovers that there's no point chasing after Estella.
I wonder, Eimi thought with a lump in her throat, whether its pointless to chase after Wanichin. Even though he's strangely always around her since the stomach flu incident, it feels like he's out of her reach still. Something inside her wants him solely for herself. The selfish feeling makes her uneasy and uncomfortable.
"He's probably worried that I might get sick again or something", she muttured to herself frostily, suddenly annoyed with everything about her. Wanichin has always been confusing to begin with. She shouldn't be surprise that he's gotten even more perplexing than ever.
Eimi glanced at the clock and made an impatient noise. She wished Wanichin would just come so she could go home. The air-conditioning was turned on at just the right temperature, and its making her feel sleepy.
Wanichin, where are you?
Takami Wanibuchi wanted to smash his handphone in annoyance, as he made his way back to the his dormitory building. Eimi's roommate had just informed him that Eimi is still out and probably won't be back until 9pm. And since the dorm head is out playing pachinko again, everyone in the dorms are taking advantage of his lack of presence.
He glanced down at the device he was holding, the dead screen seemed to mock at him and he sighed reluctantly. Well, he could just pick the lock on his room; he can always find something to use in the toolbox inside the storage rooms. Knowing Eimi, she's probably having the time of her life visiting her favorite eating shops and eliciting some free meals from her regular sellers. She has an uncanny ability of making the food vendors give out food to her for free.
How kind of Inui to just leave the keys to Eimi, he thought sarcastically to himself. He'd probably throw his box of bugs outside tonight if ever he managed to get into his rooms.
He gave soft smile when he saw his reflection in one of the mirrors decorating the first floor lobby as he stepped into the building. One week away from her helped to clear his head on his decision to claim her as his own. Who knew he would end up falling for a girl who is a complete opposite of all the women he has gotten involved and bedded with?
Behold the power of a ferret, he thought wryly, as he slowly made his way to his room, walking along the hallway. No one seems to be about. Saturday's in the dorm are generally empty as the residents spend their nights out watching late night shows, clubbing or spending time with their girlfriends. Apparently, the news that the dorm head is out of commission tonight has spread fast.
He stopped short in front of his room when he noticed the light shining from underneath the entrance door panel. Thank the heavens Inui is home! Hallelujah!
His hand immediately went to the doorknob, and was surprised to find it unlocked. His roommate must have deliberately left the door open since he doesn't have his key.
He opened the door and went it, automatically removing his jean jacket and hanging it to the coat rack beside the shoe box they shared. The light inside his room seemed welcoming with its warm light, and he crouched to untie his shoelaces, concentrating on the knot. When he finally loosened it, he stood up and kicked his rubber shoes off, noticing that his roommate's bed is empty. His eyes widened when he glanced over to his bed.
"E-eimi?" he almost dropped his duffel bag. Was she hurt?
His worried expression faded as he took large strides until he reached his bed; he was about to shake her awake when he saw the contented smile on her face.
Aahhh. She probably got tired of waiting for me.
He felt a tug on his chest as he looked down at the girl sleeping soundly on top of his bed, surrounded by his wrinkled clothes, the Great Expectations book marked in the middle with her limp hand. He could even see the pencil scribbles on the sides. She probably had nothing much to do except write funny questions on his books when she doesn't understand the paragraphs she was reading. She always adopted a grimaced whenever she drops by his room unexpectedly and caught him reading the book. It was his favorite when he was growing up.
Eimi moved slightly, burrowing herself more into his bed before letting out a soft sigh, calling his name, "Wanichin…"
Taka lowered himself on the floor into a sitting position. Already, the tiredness he was feeling earlier seemed to drain away slowly, as he continued to watch her sleeping. He leaned against the bed, reaching out to tuck a stray hair behind her ear, fingers brushing against her petal soft skin. Eimi may not have the great beauty like the older women he used to date often, but she's got one of the most yummy-looking skin around. If only she learns how to control her bored expression she might even have a career in the modeling business. It's practically enough to send him in a frisky mood. Who wouldn't want to pet a small ferret? He laughed inwardly.
He stopped laughing, noting the thin yellow outfit she was wearing and the emerald skirt peeking underneath his bedsheets. He swallowed. He was only gone for a week and Eimi looks like she has grown up a bit. No wonder she looked so delectable sleeping so soundly on top of his bed. It was the first time he saw her wearing such trendy clothing.
A few more years and he would have to fight off guys ogling at her beauty. He can already see it.
Takami Wanibuchi gave a great sigh, imagining the future. Already she was keeping him on his toes with her antics. He wondered how long will he have to wait to finally "claim" her properly? And she doesn't even realized that he is her boyfriend already.
Feeling an overwhelming sense to crush her against his chest, he stroke her cheek as gently as he could, trying to wake her up.
"Eimi.." he said softly. "I'm home." I'm finally home.
She blinked, sat up suddenly with a bewildered expression on her face, as if her brain was trying to muster how she got in his room in the first place.
"Taka!" she said, throwing her arms up to embrace him. "Wanichin!" and he found himself enveloped in her shower-fresh scent and feminine softness. He inhaled deeply, memorizing all the sweet smells she was emitting.
When he pulled away, her stomach gave a growling protest, and he remembered that she probably haven't eaten anything yet. Thank God, he has the presence of mind to order take-out food. Otherwise, she would be in a foul mood, and he would have to placate her with promises of kisses he wasn't ready to deliver to her yet. She needed to finish growing up first.
He chuckled, amused at the thought of Eimi still growing before his eyes; still filling up all the spaces she needed to achieve the right figure she was meant to have. He was about to tease her, when she suddenly broke into a brilliant smile that seemed to pierce his guts with sweet pain. "I missed you."
Ahh, damned it! Eimi's blossoming far too soon. He thought with a resigned groan.
So this is how it feels to be such a jealous, overbearing, and manipulative boyfriend. And he doesn't like it one bit. And since he fell in love with the Queen of Cluelessness, he, Takami Wanibuchi, really needs to start making his expression more ferocious to keep up with Eimi's pace of blossoming into an intense beauty.