"You know, I always did make a very attractive girl," Kakei said, sighing wistfully. "There used to be a time when I could have easily passed for a schoolgirl."
"Wow!" Kazahaya said.
"Is that something to be proud of?" Rikuo inquired.
"Jealous, much?" Saiga grinned at Rikuo, who scowled.
"Anyway, I'll never forget that day, all those years ago, me dressed in the cutest sailor-style outfit you've ever seen, and Saiga dressed all prim and proper. He'd even brought me flowers." Kakei swooned. "It was terribly romantic."
"Wow!" Kazahaya said, again.
"Actually," Kakei said, "I just found him lying in front of the door to the store one day."
"So you took him in and fed him warm soup and took care of him?" Kazahaya asked eagerly.
"Not really," Kakei replied, with a smile. "You see, he was in the way. I simply moved him a bit, so that I could open the store, and then a little more, so that he wouldn't scare the customers away."
"But then, when he was still there in the evening, you took him in and fed him warm soup and took care of him?" Kazahaya inquired doggedly.
"What is it with you and warm soup?" Rikuo grumbled.
"He wasn't there anymore in the evening," Kakei said. "He'd left."
"Noooo!" Kazahaya moaned. "Did he return the next morning? Did he?"
"He didn't need to. You see, he'd snuck into my apartment to cook a meal for himself, and after that, he'd fallen asleep in my bed. I discovered him there when I got home." Kakei smiled fondly at Saiga.
"As hard to get rid of as a disease, that's me!" Saiga grinned.
"We were in the same class during high-school," Kakei confessed. "We were best friends; we did everything together."
"Not that, you pervert!" Saiga said.
"And now you're still best friends," Kazahaya mused aloud. "That's so cool!"
"We got a crush on the same person, too," Kakei went on. "It put quite the strain on our friendship, I can tell you that. We thought it was worth it, though."
"Blue eyes, silky hair, soft skin, great teeth," Saiga listed. "Perfection personified."
"So what happened?" Kazahaya asked wide-eyed.
Kakei sighed. "He wasn't into boys."
"His loss, our gain." Saiga shrugged. "He didn't have a lot of brains, either. Glad I didn't kill Kakei for him, after all. Wouldn't have worked out anyway."
"I'd placed an ad for a bodyguard," Kakei said. "There'd been a few robberies in this neighborhood, all very nasty, and I just didn't feel safe anymore. I asked for someone tall, dark and handsome."
"You should have asked for someone who wouldn't fall asleep on the job," Rikuo said.
"And Saiga responded to that ad?" Kazahaya asked. "Did you get any other reactions?"
"Well, actually, I didn't get any reactions at all." Kakei smiled. "You see, I ran into Saiga at the newspaper's office. He was there to place an ad for a girlfriend, because he wanted to marry and begin a family of his own, but when he met me, well ... "
"That's so romantic!" Kazahaya said.
"I thought: what if my son turns out looking like that?" Saiga shook his head. "Didn't really feel like marrying anymore. Who needs kids, anyway?"
"My family had offended a powerful sorcerer, so when I was born, he placed a terrible curse upon me," Kakei said. "It was quite dreadful."
"What kind of curse was it?" Kazahaya asked, eyes wide as saucers.
"If I'd still be single on my seventeenth birthday, I'd fall into a deep sleep and not wake up again until a hundred years had passed," Kakei said. "Naturally, my family was very upset."
"This explains a lot," Rikuo said, looking at Saiga.
"Oh, Kakei-san!" Kazahaya's eyes had become teary. "That's horrible!"
"Well, naturally, my family did the right thing." Kakei smiled brightly.
"They found a perfect wife for you?" Kazahaya suggested.
"They locked me away in the basement as soon as I was old enough to be able to eat by myself," Kakei corrected him. "My family had a reputation to keep, after all. They couldn't risk me soiling their good name by running wild. The family's honor was at stake!"
"A pity they didn't quite succeed in keeping you locked up," Rikuo commented.
Kakei sighed. "Eventually, I turned seventeen. And, just as the sorcerer had predicted, I fell into a deep sleep, from which nobody was able to wake me."
"My father had given up on me the moment he heard about the curse, but my mother was determined to break the curse. She'd tried nearly everything already, but when she bumped into Saiga at the supermarket, she knew he was the one who'd be able to help me. She was right, of course." Kakei nodded solemnly. "She couldn't see the whole future, but enough of it to recognize fate when it made her nearly crash her shopping-cart into a pyramid of tomatoes."
"Oranges," Saiga said.
"So ... how did he break the curse?" Kazahaya asked.
"A kiss," Rikuo grunted. "Of course."
Kakei beamed at him.
"Actually," Saiga said, "it was a little bit more than just a kiss, if you know what I mean."
"I don't understand," Kazahaya said.