Chapter 9 – Buffer Begone
I hugged my father tightly. “Thank you, Daddy,” I whispered in his ear, trying not to let tears seep into my voice.
As I stepped away, Yuki took my father’s hand and ended up hugging him instead. My father flashed me a confused look that I responded to with a silent shrug. “Don’t worry, Mr. Nakamura, I promise to watch over Jordan.”
Dad smiled politely and thanked Yuki. He motioned for me to follow him to the entrance to security. He pressed a credit card and five thousand yen into my hand. “What’s this for?” I asked, already suspecting the answer.
“That’s the card that still has your name on it attached to your mother’s and my account. Use it in the event of an emergency.” He looked over his shoulder at Yuki. “The cash is for another lock on your bedroom door.”
I rolled my eyes. “Dad, didn’t you offer to marry me off to Yuki not that long ago?”
“Yes, but I was just calling your bluff,” he insisted.
“I’ll be fine. You should be more worried about him,” I explained.
“If you kill him, don’t use your kitchen knives or the good cookware. It was expensive.”
“Thanks, Dad,” I said, one last time before one more hug. Then I stepped back to stand with Yuki. We watched until my Dad had made it through the checkpoint and gave one last wave before heading to his gate.
The last couple of weeks had flown by. We had moved into our new place. Dad had had a security system installed in our new apartment. We bought furniture and Yuki bought a car. Demetri, to his credit, made it the entire time without revealing his ability to speak. All in all, I felt pretty good about things.
Yuki and I walked in silence back to the car. I slid into the passenger seat, trying to ignore what now felt like an awkward distance between us. As we pulled out of the parking structure Yuki finally broke the tension. “You know your Dad really did ask if I would be interested in marrying you?”
I cringed. “Sorry, he’s just worried about me.”
Yuki laughed. “You’re not even remotely interested in what I said to him?”
“I think it’s better for me not to know. Now that we live together it could cause friction.”
“I’m running through all the answers you could have given and none of them would help our situation. If you said yes, then I would feel pressure over your unrequited love. If you said no, I would somehow hold it against you, being convinced you have no taste,” I explained.
“Ah,” he responded. I was inexplicably irritated by his single-syllable answer
“Ah? That’s all the response you are going to give?”
“You didn’t want to know. Now that you have explained your reasoning, I understand and agree with you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I pushed.
“I mean, I think you are right and no good can come of me telling you.”
“So you said no? You jerk! As if you will ever find anyone better than me,” I grumbled.
Yuki sighed heavily. “Here we go. I didn’t say that I said no,” he responded calmly.
“You said it was better I didn’t know. That normally means you are about to tick me off.”
“Maybe I just want to protect my delicate ego?” he insisted.
“Maybe you just want to protect your-”
“Hey now,” he cut me off. “There’s no need for threats!”
I started chuckling. Yuki cast me a sideways glance. “Do you enjoy arguing with me?”
“Yes,” I smiled.
“If this is your form of foreplay, I am a little worried about what the main event is.”
I gasped and turned to glare at him, only to find he had a satisfied grin on his face. I decided to drop the fight. “I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” he said, poking at the GPS on the car’s console. “Your dad is gone. Do we want instant noodles or to sample of some of Japan’s fast food?”
“Fast food, then let’s stop to pick up groceries.”
“Don’t we have a fridge full of food back at home?”
“I’m not going to spend an hour or two every day on a meal. Especially not for three meals a day,” I said with a sigh. “I will find a use for most of what is in the fridge, but I’m not going to cook the big meals like dad has been for the last couple of weeks.”
He laughed. “I understand now why you were chubby when we were growing up.” Yuki rubbed his belly. “I think I put on a little weight with all your dad’s cooking.”
“I wasn’t chubby,” I argued.
“I never said it was a bad thing. Itsuo and I both thought you were pretty cute…” he trailed off. I shot him a startled look. He was glowing bright red.
“Ugh, men!” I grunted, crossing my arms over my chest and sinking down in the seat.
“Anyway, we can grab a burger then hit up a store. Monday I start at the new office and I just know I’m going to need to buy stock in a local coffee chain,” he joked.
“Yeah, I go in for a meeting with my editor. I need to finish up my storyboards today and tomorrow.”
“If we pick up the stuff, I can handle dinner so you can focus on work,” he offered.
“Awww, look at you trying to act all domesticated,” I teased.
“Keep it up and I may even wear a frilly apron for you.”
“Just as long as that isn’t all you wear.” I laughed wickedly when he gave me an innocent look and a not-so-innocent wink.
We made it home with uneventful ease. As we opened the door to the new place, Demetri sat there waiting for us. “Hey, cranky kitty, we bought lots of tuna,” I told him.
“Good work human, but we have an issue. While you were gone someone or something tried to breach the barrier on this place. They didn’t succeed, but it would seem they know we are here.”
“Who is they?” Yuki asked as if reading my mind.
Demetri was quiet for a long moment. “I’m not entirely sure who the threat is, but they no doubt want to prevent Jordan from fulfilling her purpose.”
“And my purpose is to protect mankind?” I asked, still hazy on some of the details that had brought me across an ocean.
“And to help keep the gates between planes sealed,” he finished for me.
“Is there a training course I get to take for that? You do know that I just barely passed P.E. in high school, right?”
Yuki outright laughed. “Yeah, that was pretty funny.”
“Shut up!” I warned, but he kept going cracking jokes at my expense.
“She was so bad at dodgeball the teacher made her wear a hockey helmet to class.”
“Greeeaat…” growled the cat.
“I don’t have to take this. I could go do my work,” I insisted.
“Wait!” Yuki said with concern. “We really should talk about someone trying to breach the barrier.” He turned his attention back to the cat. “So what does all this really mean? What should we be on the lookout for? What can we do to prevent this from happening again?”
Demetri looked back and forth between the two of us. “I suppose both of you could use a little training.” He pointedly looked at me. “Some could use more training.”
“Why do I need training?” Yuki asked.
“Because you insisted on moving across an ocean to be close to me,” I pointed out.
“Will this training protect me from her sharp tongue?”
“I don’t know, Yuki. You’re talking ninja-level moves to avoid her venom,” Demetri considered.
“That’s okay, I was better at dodgeball than she was.”
The cat laughed. The little fuzzball laughed at me. “From the sounds of it, that doesn’t sound too hard. Perhaps I should be training you as the next hero.”
“Go ahead,” I snapped angrily. “When you two are done saving the world I will be working on my storyboard.” I turned with a huff and stormed away, closing my door with a little more force than I had anticipated and rattling the sparse hangings we had on the walls.