Special

August 8, 2013 in itchysocks, One-Shots, Uncategorized by itchysocks

A gentle feminine voice is the first thing that Yuri hears as she walks through the sliding glass doors of the super market. It comes at her through a set of speakers, artificial like the white light around her. She can hear the beeps of cash registers, the murmurs of shoppers, and the yells of a floor manager. In the air, there’s a faint aroma of fried chicken from the food court off to the side, as well as the sharp smell of red pepper paste, probably being used to spice a stew. From the way her eyes naturally wander in the direction of the smells, she can tell she’s hungry.

Picking up a shopping basket, she makes her way past the row of cashiers, evades the food court, and pulls out an old folded piece of paper from her jeans. She carefully unfolds it, smoothing out the worn creases with loving fingers to reveal a recipe for spicy chicken stew.

At the top, she sees the familiar hand writing, a cartoon deer, and the name of the person that wrote the recipe. Looking at it brings a flood of memories, and Yuri feels a familiar emptiness and longing. A hollow pain aches in her heart.

Realizing that she would be spending her birthday alone for the first time in years, she thinks of her—the girl that she loves more than anything—and how she isn’t here by her side.

*

Yuri was never big on birthday celebrations, so when she woke up sick on her 19th birthday, she was elated despite her runny nose.

‘Sorry guys, I don’t think I can go out today. I’m not feeling well. Really, I’d rather stay home and rest.’
That was the statement she publicized to her world. No one could argue with an ill birthday girl.

Instead, the people close to her wished her well: short loving messages that she appreciated far more than getting drunk out of her mind, talking with acquaintances rather than friends, and celebrating with crowds of strangers instead of loved ones.

Lying on her bed amongst the soft sheets and smells of fresh laundry, she felt completely at ease until a knock at her door disturbed her. Getting up, she approached the front door of her apartment, and yelled, “Who is it?”

“It’s me, Yoona!”

Yuri froze for a second before dashing to the bathroom to check her appearance. They hadn’t been dating for very long, but Yoona was someone that she had to look good for.

“Just a minute,” she belted, straining her throat.

“Take your time,” Yoona replied.

Yuri took a comb to her hair, washed her face, and moisturized to the best of her abilities.

Looking slightly more presentable, and less bed-ridden, she approached the door with confidence and opened it with a smile.

She was greeted by the familiar doll-like frame of the girl that she had been chasing for months. Yuri welcomed her inside.

“I brought you some food,” Yoona chirped, stepping in to take off her shoes. “How are you feeling?”

Yuri was sick, but a runny nose and a slight cough never killed anyone. “I’m okay. I’m tougher than you think.”

Without another word, Yoona put her hand on Yuri’s forehead.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to get to 2nd base, obviously,” she replied sarcastically. “You’re hot.”

“Thanks.”

“I mean you have a fever.”

Yuri touched her own forehead, and realized that the slight pounding in her noggin was probably a clear warning for the coming pain. “I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine!” Yuri replied quickly, not wanting to let this opportunity slip by. She was alone with Yoona, with clean sheets on her bed that were dying to be dirtied, but Yoona had other plans. They involved the bed, but not in the way Yuri had hoped for.

Yoona pushed the girl towards her bedroom, pointing at the soft sheets. “Rest,” she commanded, making a motherly expression.

Yuri pouted. “But I have to hang out with you. You came all the way here.”

“Did you, or did you not tell everyone that you were sick?”

The way Yoona phrased it sounded more like a statement than a question, and Yuri knew there was no escaping it. “I did,” Yuri replied.

“So you’re sleeping,” said Yoona firmly.

“What about the food you brought me?”

She pulled out Korean chili peppers in a plastic bag. “I have to make it first.” She forced Yuri onto the bed, and the girl lay down submissively, her head slightly dizzy.

Yoona didn’t bother to keep her company. Instead, she pulled the sheets over her.

“What are you making me?” Yuri asked.

Yoona smiled. “What my mom always cooks for me when I’m sick: Spicy Chicken Stew.”

*

A memory like that one should be happy, but it only acts as a catalyst for Yuri’s pain. Attempting to break out of it, Yuri makes her way over to the produce section to pick up green chili peppers, green onions, onions, potatoes, and garlic.

Even now, as she picks out the ingredients, she is thinking about the taste of the stew, hoping she gets everything right.

Moving along, she passes by the bakery, its assortment of breads smelling divine. A bunch of kids are gathered around a table of discounted sweets, picking out bags filled with goodies. Yuri wanders over, eyes glossing over the sweet breads that reminded her of her youth. She walks away: too many calories.

Leaving the bakery, she couldn’t help but glance at the assortment of birthday cakes displayed behind a glass case at the back.

She sighs.

*

It was Yuri’s 20th birthday and this time she had no excuse to stay at home. Her friend Tiffany planned a night out of drinking and clubbing; all of it was stuff that Yuri had grown accustomed to, but was not particularly fond of. She had always been a homebody underneath her cool exterior, but, for fear of ridicule, she couldn’t bear to tell her friends that she’d rather hang around at home than dance with strangers at the club.

After her last afternoon lecture, she headed back to her apartment to take a nap before getting ready for dinner. She was greeted by a spicy smell and a pretty girl on her living room couch.

“Yoona,” she said, smiling at the girl. “How’d you get in here?”

The girl smiled back. “Your landlord’s a nice lady. When I told her it was your birthday, she let me right in.”

“I’m going to have to tell her not to do that in the future. As much as I like seeing you, this is mildly creepy,” Yuri joked.

Yoona giggled. “Don’t you like your surprise though?”

Yuri kicked off her shoes, and put down her bag. “It depends what you have in-store for me,” she teased, joining her girlfriend on the couch. Yuri got comfortable and leaned on Yoona’s shoulder.

“We’ve got some time to kill before the party. Maybe we could play some board games or cards?”

“Yoona!” Yuri complained.

She playfully giggled. “We’ll do whatever you want, okay?”

“Whatever I want?” Yuri replied with a mischievous grin and a sultry chuckle.

Yoona leaned in affectionately, ignoring her remark. “Happy Birthday Yuri.” She gave the girl a kiss on the head. Yuri closed her eyes to rest, smiling at the warm feeling in her heart. For a while, they sat in silence, but it wasn’t awkward at all; they both simply enjoyed the moment.

That’s when Yuri’s stomach rumbled.

“That’s embarrassing,” Yuri groaned.

Yoona interrupted, “I made lunch.”

Nodding her head, Yuri sniffed the air, and added, “Spicy Chicken Stew, right?”

“Right. I’ve got another surprise for you though.”

Yoona got up from the couch, despite Yuri’s insistence that she stay.

“I’ll be right back.”

Yuri pouted as the girl walked into the kitchen. She came back with two miniature cakes that had glowing candles in the middle.

“Yoona, you didn’t need to do this.”

She placed the two cakes down on the coffee table. “No, I did. Last year you didn’t get to eat cake since you were sick, so this year you get double the cake.”

“I’m not really a fan of sweets…”

Yoona glared at Yuri.

“…I’m a huge fan of them.”

Yoona nodded. It was the only acceptable response. There was a single candle on one cake, and two on the other.

“Two wishes for the birthday girl.”

Yuri was hesitant. She felt like she was too old for stuff like this, but Yoona was putting in so much effort; she decided to play along.

Yoona lit all the candles with a match, and she started to sing “Happy Birthday” enthusiastically.

Yuri smiled, half for Yoona and half because she was glad that she was here with her again. It was the best birthday gift she could ever ask for.

As Yoona finished with the traditional song, she gave Yuri a kiss on the cheek, and told her to make a wish.

Yuri closed her eyes, pretending to think extra hard, and blew out the first candle on the cake.

“That’s one,” Yoona said. “One more.”

Yuri closed her eyes, but this time there was a real wish that crossed her mind.

‘I wish Yoona could spend every birthday with me.’

*

Yuri is finally home with all the ingredients. The pound of chicken wings for the stew, the sauces, the spices, and the veggies are all laid out on the table.

She reads the recipe, memorizes it, and starts by creating a seasoning paste with a quarter cup each of soy sauce, minced garlic, and hot pepper paste. She adds 1 tablespoon of sugar to counter-balance the spiciness.

The aroma of the process allows her to feel slightly more at ease, because it’s familiar. However, as the smell lingers, it gradually reminds her of how alone she really is. She finds it ironic that experiencing love can make a person feel so empty when it’s gone.

Cutting up the onions, she fights back the urge to cry, though she wanted to for most of the day.

She adds the chopped onions into the seasoning paste, and marinates the chicken wings with it.

Measuring two cups of water, she empties it into a large boiling pot that she had set on the stove. Double-checking the recipe, she adds the mixture of chicken wings, onions, and seasoning to the pot of water and stirs it with a wooden spoon that she grabs from a nearby cupboard.

As she mixes, she wonders if she has done it all correctly, since Yoona never followed a recipe. All of it she did by eye, never using a single measuring cup or cheat-sheet. Turning the oven to a medium high heat for 20 minutes, she has time to kill as she waits for the stew to boil.
Peeling the potatoes, she washes them carefully and brings them to the chopping board to cut them into sizeable chunks. As she holds the knife, and smells the soup, she hears Yoona’s voice.

*

“You do the cutting and cleaning. I cook,” Yoona stated, waving around a wooden spoon.

Yuri sighed. “So I’m the typical husband then?”

Yoona handed Yuri a jar. “Can you open this for me?”

Yuri rolled her eyes.

“What, I’m serious,” Yoona said, straight-faced.

Yuri took the jar, twisted the top, and handed it to Yoona, who giggled.

“You didn’t need me to open the jar, did you?”

“Well if we’re going to play house, we should do it right.”

Yuri wrapped her arms around Yoona’s waist and pressed her body against the girl’s back affectionately.

“Like this?” Yuri teased.

“It’s hard for me to cook if you do that. Don’t you want your friends to have a good dinner on your 21st birthday? You actually planned it yourself this time.”

“I do, but we’ve got time to kill, right?” Yuri joked, thinking about what they had done last year after lunch.

“Not this year,” Yoona replied, taking Yuri’s hands off of her waist, and getting back to preparing the rest of the dinner.

“It’s my birthday, you know.”

“That’s why I didn’t slap you,” Yoona joked.

Yuri headed back to the cutting board, chopping up all the vegetables that Yoona needed. That was what she was good at.

*

Yuri turns on the hood above the stove, and hears the loud whir of the fan as the pot of spicy chicken stew boils away. It is almost done, and though this whole process made her reminisce on memories that only added insult to injury, she is glad that she did it. This was one of the few things that made her birthdays special.

She turns off the stove, taking a deep breath; time for the moment of truth. This will be her one respite from the loneliness, and the longing she had for Yoona the entire day. This is the one thing that can make her happy. She takes a soup spoon, and scoops a small portion of the stew to taste. Putting the metal utensil to her mouth, she blows on the hot liquid, and takes a small sip.

She gets the kick of chillies, the taste of poultry, the sweetness of the onions, but it’s missing something. It doesn’t taste the same.

Out of frustration, she looks around the kitchen for an ingredient that she might have missed. There is a handful of chopped green onions on the cutting board, and she remembers that the recipe told her to sprinkle some on at the end. She adds it, and takes another taste.

Again, it isn’t the same.

She stares at the pot of soup and wonders where she had gone wrong. All the ingredients from Yoona’s recipe are there; she had followed the instructions to a tee. Then the thought occurs to her that she is missing the most important ingredient of all: Yoona.

It wasn’t the ingredients that made the soup. It was Yoona. She made it special. She made all of it special. Tears start to form in her eyes, and she can’t hold back her sadness. She cries.

“You’re forgetting something.”

Yuri hears Yoona’s voice, as if it is consoling her.

“It’s not a part of the recipe, but I add it in because I know you like it.”

“What is it?”

She hears something shake beside her ear.

Yuri snaps out of her reverie, and turns to see Yoona standing in front of her with a bag of wild sesame seeds that they keep on the kitchen counter. “I remember on our first date, you said you really liked the wild sesame seeds on your soup. You’ve always liked how these tasted, so I added them in.”

Yuri couldn’t believe her eyes. She runs forward to hug Yoona.

“I thought you said you wouldn’t make the flight back for my Birthday?”

Yoona smiles. “I figured I should surprise you after being gone for so long. Don’t you like your surprise?”

“I don’t,” Yuri replies, sounding bitter. Digging her head into her shoulder, she adds, “I love my surprise.”

“What’s with the tears?”

Yuri laughs, trying her best to play it cool. “I just missed you, that’s all.” All the memories that she had relived today were no longer so depressing.

“I’ve only been gone for a few months.”

“The longest few months of my life.”

Yoona hugs her tighter. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” Yuri replies.

Yoona’s stomach growls.

“I guess the roles are reversed today,” Yuri jokes.

“What do you mean?”

“I cooked. You’re doing the dishes, hubby.”

Yoona laughs. “You can let go of me, you know.”

Yuri smiles again, using her hands to dry her eyes.

Yoona leans in to give her a kiss.

“Happy Birthday, Yuri.”

 

***

Author Notes: Did you guys think Yoona would be dead as you read the story? ;D  It’s sort of my way of trolling you guys. It’s supposed to take advantage of how we as readers tend to expect the worst, most melodramatic conclusions in fan fiction, when in reality – the explanation could be much simpler. With that said, I hope you guys also enjoyed the meaningful/sweet sides of the shot.

– itchysocks