Volume 1 Episode 2 - Sushi
Rune Lake, New Berengaria, Rune Lake High School
Adell somehow managed to make it through his morning classes without falling asleep too much. Strangely enough, he was starting to feel much better. He wasn't sure if it was the anticipation of a break or that he was probably running on little more than adrenaline at this point, but he didn't care. As long as he could hold up until the end of the school day and finally get some sleep, he was fine with whatever happened.
He was grateful when the bell rang. Four periods down, two to go. He had spent just one of those four periods in the same class with Mitani. He was grateful that, though Mitani threw a few nasty glares at him, he did not attempt to talk to him again. More importantly than anything else, lunch was next. He was just about to get up to find Jaze and Kaoru, but there was no need. Jaze was already coming to him.
Jaze: Well, sunshine, are you ready?
Adell raised an eyebrow. Sunshine? Though he was hoping to get settled into school life for a few weeks before investigating dating opportunities, he didn't want to let an opportunity pass by when it dropped right into his lap. That left one more big question. What was Kaoru to him? He carefully observed Jaze for confirmation that he really was flirting and that Adell wasn't just imagining it. Jaze's ears fluttered adorably in anticipation of his response.
Adell: Yup, I'm ready. Do we need to hurry? How long is lunch anyway?
Jaze: It's a hour and a half, which is more than enough time, but it's best to get there as quickly as possible before all the good seats are taken.
Adell unceremoniously shoveled his tablet and papers into his backpack, zipped it closed, and slung it over his back.
Adell: Let's go then.
Jaze: Heh. Perfect. Kaoru is waiting for us in the hall.
The only reason Adell hadn't noticed the sushi restaurant before was because he had been so sleepy. It was impossible for an alert person to miss it. The entire building and grounds were set up like an old-fashioned kabuki theater and it was garishly mismatched with the surrounding neighborhood. The front grounds were an obstacle course of decorations. Fountains, umbrellas, and trees all had to be dodged to gain entry along the circuitous pathway to the front door.
Adell: This place is crazy.
Jaze: It is. Let's get inside before all the good seats are taken.
The three went inside. It was divided into sections. There was a fine dining side, with regular tables, chairs, and waitresses. The other side had a modern sushi conveyor belt which was cleverly rendered in wood and lacquer giving it an old-world look. The sushi clattered around the conveyor belt, two pieces of sushi per plate. Each plate was color coded according to the price of the sushi. Darker-colored plates were more expensive.
The three took seats near the spot where the sushi emerged on the conveyer belt and began grabbing plates. Jaze didn't hesitate in taking four little plates of sushi all at once and began eating immediately without even bothering to use his wasabi or soy sauce first.
Kaoru: So, Adell, what's your story?
Kaoru took a yellow plate of sushi from the conveyor. He then placed a dab of wasabi in his little dish and poured soy sauce on top of it. As Adell spoke, he started mixing the wasabi and soy sauce.
Adell: Not much to say, really. I lived in this area until I was eight. After that, I went to live on Andrast with my dad. I decided I wanted to go to university on New Berengaria, so I came back here to live with my mom. It'll be easier to visit different universities if I'm on the same planet.
Adell grabbed a green plate with with a succulent-looking white fish on it. He began to smear the tops of the sushi with wasabi. Jaze was already starting his second plate.
Jaze: You lived here until you were eight?
Jaze swallowed and stopped chewing for the first time since they sat down.
Jaze: Hmmm... We must have gone to different elementary schools. I don't remember you.
Jaze slowly turned his head towards Adell and smirked devilishly as Adell raised his sushi to his mouth.
Jaze: And I'm pretty sure I would have remembered you.
Adell suddenly stopped before he took a bite and blushed. Kaoru started laughing.
Kaoru: Ha ha! Jaze, you're mean!
Kaoru took a bite of his sushi, trying not to laugh as he chewed.
Adell: Did I miss something?
Adell raised his sushi to his mouth. Half neko or not, he understood why Jaze liked this restaurant so much. His sushi was perfectly balanced between firmness and tenderness.
Jaze: You've been checking me out since you first saw me, so I thought I'd tease you a little. Sorry, it was just a little fun.
Jaze started on his third plate as Kaoru finished his first. Even though he still had one plate left, Jaze was already eyeballing the the conveyor belt for more.
Adell: You noticed?
Kaoru grabbed another yellow plate from the conveyor belt.
Kaoru: Dude! The entire class noticed!
Adell wasn't sure if he should be embarrassed or not. He quickly crammed another piece of sushi into his mouth. Jaze patted him gently on the back.
Jaze: Don't worry about it. I'm flattered. You like my ears, don't you?
Jaze wiggled his ears adorably.
Adell: I have to admit, I do.
Jaze: Don't worry. I'm used to it. You could say that I'm the living embodiment of the universe's most popular gay fantasy. Everyone tries to pinch my ears.
Kaoru: They wouldn't if they saw your dad, Jaze.
Jaze finished his fourth plate and took two more from the conveyor. Adell scanned the conveyor as well, trying to decide what he wanted next.
Jaze: My dad is nekomi, Adell. But don't worry. He looks intimidating, but he's just a big pussycat... hee hee. Pun intended.
Somehow, Jaze's reassurance and humor were starting to make Adell feel more at ease. Without even thinking, he grabbed another plate from the belt. His appetite was returning just as suddenly as it had left.
Adell: So, just to be clear, you're gay, right?
Jaze: I am.
Adell sighed in relief.
Adell: Well, at least I got something right. So, are you two...
Kaoru: Boyfriends? No, we're not. I'm straight. He's my best friend.
Adell finished his second plate while Jaze was still wolfing down his fifth and sixth plates. Kaoru scanned the conveyor for his next selection.
Jaze: I'm not dating right now, so don't get any ideas. Too much effort. I'm taking a break. Come to think of it, the last person I dated was Mitani.
Adell: Oh? What do you know about him?
Jaze: I can't tell you much. I only went on one date with him and it was terrible. He just droned on and on about himself. He said a lot of things, but I don't remember what they were. I just tuned it all out.
Adell took two more plates from the conveyor.
Adell: Well, he seems to know me. I guess we must have met when we were in elementary school, but I don't really remember anything or anyone well from back then. What's his first name and why does everyone call him by his last name?
Kaoru: His first name is Neige. All I know is that he prefers Mitani.
Jaze: That's all I know too.
Adell slowly lifted another piece of sushi to his mouth and took a bite. He chewed slowly as he reached back into his distant memory, trying to remember the name, "Neige."
Adell: Nope, not ringing any bells.
Jaze: Eh, don't worry about it. We're friends now, so let's just relax.
Adell, starting to feel a bit full, looked for something different on the conveyor that he could eat. It wasn't long before a plate with some sashimi on it came clattering by. He took it.
Adell: Okay, so I have a question. Why did you invite me to lunch with you? You didn't even know me.
Jaze: You've clearly had a lot more experience being around nekomi and nekohumans. That made me curious.
Adell dipped his sashimi in his soy sauce.
Adell: Well, there are a lot more nekomi and nekohumans on Andrast than here, but what difference does that make?
Adell took a bite of his sashimi as he waited for Jaze's response.
Jaze: This morning, in homeroom, you patted my tail when you wanted to ask me something. Most people here don't know to do that. Too often, they just yank on it.
Adell: Now that's just rude.
Kaoru giggled as he took yet another yellow plate from the conveyor.
Kaoru: I think he just likes people to play with his tail. That's how I met him. When we were kids, he was the first nekohuman I'd ever seen and I couldn't stop petting his tail.
Adell leaned in close to Jaze and whispered very softly into his ear.
Adell: I'll bet you can do a lot of fun things with that tail.
All at once, Jaze turned a shade of red as bright and vivid as the sushi now merrily trundling by on the conveyor.
Adell: Oh, so you can dish it out but you can't take it?Adell laughed, even as Jaze smirked and playfully jabbed his elbow into his ribs.
Jaze: No fair cheating!
Kaoru watched the exchange with a bemused smile on his face.
Kaoru: Now I'm the one who's confused.
Adell took another plate of sashimi from the conveyor and continued to eat and talk with his new friends.
All city images and the spaceship from SimCity 4.