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She can still remember the smile on his face, and the fact how he was actually so excited to go on this particular trip. She just didn’t expect the messages that came in a few days later.

For Vega, it was a supposed Hell Week considering that a huge project was due during that weekend. Apparently, a Way Magazine Executive Editor was supposed to visit from the United States and he wanted to see the new Mobile App the Celebrity Showdown team was working on. Vega, having been the Senior Editor for that Interactive Column for more than three years now, had been in constant contact (and nagging ) with Senior Graphics Lead Editor Topher, who had been running his team for nights on end trying to get the app completed. Just imagine the Costa Coffee bill Vega received from the Graphics team. The woman almost joked about putting Toph on a caffeine diet and the man almost snapped at her. And Toph -- sweet gentleman  never snaps .

So, when she started receiving messages from the girls several seas away concerning her Secret Celebrity Boyfriend’s activities in Korea, she couldn’t avoid her vibrating phone no more as she turned to look at what Lila, Lis, and Max (who is supposedly just a few blocks away from her) had been sending her.

 

 

@lilyrose: Oh no Thain starforums.com/feature/news/avengers-stars-eating-korean-fusion-tom-hiddleston-chopsticks-failure…

 

@lis_grey: Thain, honey, we need to treat you out to a Japanese resto sometime. Do you hear that @vegastar?

 

@mari_mac : Vega are you seeing this? @vegastar koreaherald.com/Hollywood/news/thread019381732091193729173…

 

@mjade: @vegastar are you punishing your boyfriend again? This looks like punishment to me!

 

Vega found herself particularly squinting at the message her blunt old friend Max has sent at the bottom of the Twitter pit. But after sifting through several articles poking fun at poor Tom’s chopstick skills, Vega found herself leaning back against her swivel chair wondering why she actually never realized that Tom was having challenges regarding this matter. And most of all, why didn’t he bring it up with her?

The woman bit her lip. Is that why he only took me to Asian-Western fusion restaurants? She recalled the one time he actually booked this new London-based resto by David Chang when it opened in the city.

To think of it, I never actually saw him use the thing…  Vega thought. Why didn’t he tell me? I could have taught him… After all, he did know he was going to Korea…

And to top it all off, she was actually a pure-blooded, true blue Asian… who actually mastered the use of the chopsticks at the age of fifteen.

Sighing, Vega just continued to scroll down the slew of similar messages on Twitter as the window behind her slowly turned from sunset orange to dusk dark violet.

He would be home in a few days , she thought as she switched to the iMessage app where her bearded boyfriend sent her a pic of himself hugging a Gudetama egg doll as big as his torso. Maybe he’d tell me about it.

Maybe.


***


When their relationship was just new, Vega would opt to actually meet Tom at the airport when he arrived. This was part of a silent promise Vega made to herself a long time ago that she would never let him feel that kind of fear that started their initial rift in the first place – that fear of not being there when he returned.

As the years went by, their agreement and routine became more flexible, wherein Vega would just either meet him for either breakfast or dinner following his flight, due to their more hectic schedules. There are some special occasions however, when Vega opts to spend the night over his flat before his arrival – sometimes without his knowledge. After all, there’s something about how Tom’s blue eyes would light up whenever he’d find her asleep in his bed after a fifteen-hour flight… and you know what would ensue right after this kind of meeting.

In this case, things were a bit different.

Two hours before lunch time, a day after they presented the current status of the Celebrity Showdown app project to the US Team, Vega received a message to meetup at the Sheraton . Considering that it was an unknown number, the woman believed that she’s getting one of those prank texts again. But upon scrutinizing the way it was said and the forlorn tone, Vega believed that maybe Tom forgot to switch off the roaming feature on his phone... However, to be sure, she rang up Luke Windsor to confirm this.

“That’s him -- I swear, the man forgot to do so again,” She can hear his publicist laughing on the phone. “He was too busy reading through his emails, poor thing. Had a lot on his mind too.”

This is what was on Vega’s own mind when she walked into the Sheraton. However, the moment she stepped in, she was easily distracted by this familiar-sounding duet being played on the piano in the lobby…

It was the sound of two specific notes being played simultaneously, rising in every beat to a specific crescendo. But it has always been two notes, and its often played by two people. For fun.

Chopsticks , she murmured to herself as she smiled, descending the stairs as she looked around, trying to look for a man beyond six-feet, with ginger-blond curls that twirled like clouds, complimenting the facial hair on his face.

 

Lo and behold, she found him when she turned to look at the giant space where the piano stood.

 

“That was fun, little man,” Tom cheered the little boy who sat beside him, with almost the same gingery-blonde hair, albeit cut short. “You’d be a gifted concertist one day.”

“What’s a con-ser-tees?” Asked the little boy who was probably only around five years old.

Tom leaned down, whispering to the little boy. “A very talented pianist,” he exclaimed, before wrinkling his adorable nose. “Or anyone who’s good in that field of music in that matter.”

The boy hopped off the piano chair, rubbing his head. “I just wanna be good so I can play with my Nana Charlie,” the boy said blushing, probably referring either to his piano teacher.

The British actor smiled. “Ah yes, young love ,” he murmured, straightening up. “You hold on to that dream, little man. She will be proud of you.”

The boy wrinkled his nose at the supposedly-famous Marvel actor who is now somewhat undistinguishable with his thick facial hair – unless you looked closely. “Maybe,” the boy said, before pulling at a pant leg. “Bye mister!”

Vega smiled to herself, having seen the entire scene play out right before her eyes. Luckily, her bestfriend-turned-rival-turned-boyfriend didn’t seem to have noticed her presence.

Tom was still staring at the piano keys, seemingly thinking of the next piece he can play with using those long, dexterous fingers, when suddenly someone sat beside him. Thinking it was probably another child who’d like to play on the piano, he felt time freeze when he noticed that familiar tuft of black hair on this seemingly young woman who sat beside him, albeit facing the opposite direction of the piano.

“Nice piano piece you played there,” she spoke, hands in her pockets as she looked at the families arriving in the lobby, probably following an event. “Such talented fingers, Sir.”

The English man beside her took a deep sigh, before retracting his big hands from the keys.

“Well, I’m only good with these on piano,” Tom exclaimed as he gazed at the said digits, before turning around to look at her.

Taken aback by those doting blue eyes, Vega glanced down at her oxford shoes, remembering those comments all over twitter, teasing the thespian for being too Western , wondering if he ever ate Asian food.

“Well, it’s something we can work on.”

She turned to smile at him, brown eyes sparkling, her first real greeting as a lover since he returned from the Press Tour. There was something in him that burned as he gazed at her, returning the warm smile as he leaned forward and placed a soft, smack on her cheek.

“Such a sweet smile, Aeo darling,” he cooed, tucking a stray lock of black hair behind her ears. The gesture made Vega shrink a bit. Although it was somewhat public knowledge in the London scene that they were an item, she seemed to have never gotten used to Tom’s affections in public… even if she did promise to stop flinching and be more open with her feelings. “Is that for me?”

There was a bit of hesitation on her face, although her smile wouldn’t disappear as she shifted to sit herself closer to him on the piano seat. She was about to answer when –

“That smile would probably be gone if you found out what happened to me this weekend,” he whispered as he leaned over the piano, dramatically pressing down a key to accent his statement.

Vega could only roll her eyes, remembering how theatrical Tom can be.

“It doesn’t matter what they all think,” she straightened up, placing a hand on his arm. “There are so many other ways to eat a Kimbap, let alone use chopsticks –”

A few keys on the piano were pressed altogether, creating a disturbingly heavy sound that even startled the other guests of the hotel. Noticing the commotion, Tom straightened up and closed the lid over the piano, turning over to look at his flustered girlfriend who was now thinking whether he was too upset over this small thing she may consider trivial.

Placing his hands over his lap, Tom whispered, “It matters to me.”

The woman then decided to lend him a listening ear as she turned to face him while sitting on the piano, crossing a leg over another.

“I would like to respect other cultures, embrace other cultures,” he whispered, lowering his voice as he seemed to be wary if other ears may be listening. “Especially those that are not mine.”

Those blue eyes flitted towards hers, and Vega felt as if a heart string was being tugged.

“Most in particular,” he whispered, with a hand now hovering over hers. “Cultures close to the one that matters to me the most…”

Vega tried to shake a little fluttery shiver off her shoulders. “Such as?”

Tom licked his lips. “Yours.”

The woman flinched. Yes, she was Asian. Yes, she was good with using Chopsticks. But, it was a reality that the place where she grew up in did not really frequent in chopsticks. In fact, the country she was born in is strongly influenced by Spanish and American cultures.

“Vega,” the man whom she felt she has known forever (and indeed she has, considering a sixteen-year friendship, four years of courtship and counting) whispered, now taking both her hands. “Will you do me a favor?”

She was about to ask him about it, when Tom looked her in the eye and said the words she was actually expecting.

“Will you teach me how to properly use them?”

Of course, who can say no to those big, blue, puppy-dog eyes?


***


“You really are ashamed of me now, aren’t you?”

His tone was sad and forlorn as he sat on his now-frequently-used couch, considering that grand hiatus he had been on for a year, refusing to announce a project that consists of three connected plays that are to be released at the end of the year. However, the couch in his flat started collecting dust when he started on the Press Tour for the latest Marvel movie, and at least the girls abroad are thrilled to have their Mercenary Brother out in the open again – if he weren’t frequenting Hyde Park, repeatedly reciting Shakespeare to himself and to the dog he was walking.

“Can’t even pick a kimbap with a pair of chopsticks –”

Vega had to place two oyster pails on top of his kitchen counter as she had to stop herself from tripping over Lily, the brown spaniel dog everyone else believed to be a boy, who has started to run around in circles in between her legs. Ever since Tom went on his press tour, Max and Vega have decided to keep Lily in their shared flat (with Alexa taking Tom’s room from almost a long time ago), taking turns walking the hyper pup while her master was abroad. Now, ever since Tom has returned, the two were inseparable.

However, at that moment, Lily seemed to be curious of what Vega was holding in her hands that smelled of oil, spring onions, and soy sauce.

“Don’t be so dramatic, Thomas,” Vega teased as she leaned down and scratched Lily under the ear, before the dog ran towards the tall specimen in the room, climbing up on the couch and settling on his lap. “If we’re going to practice, we’re going to start with takeaway.”

Tom huffed as he stroked Lily’s fur.

Vega tried so hard not to roll her eyes so hard as she transferred the two oyster pails on top of his coffee table so she can sit right beside him. “Of course you don’t want the pesky paps skulking Momo,” she muttered as she handed him his supposed lunch, causing Lily to jump in between them, sniffing Tom’s Chinese box. “Or else we’ll have it all over the internet – ‘Avengers Star Tom Hiddleston taking Chopstick Lessons from Disgruntled Asian Friend’…”

The man wrinkled his nose. “So you’re just a friend huh…” his smile had definitely melted away, causing Lily to start rubbing her nose against his woolly shirt.

“Don’t you even start –” Vega shot back, waving his chopsticks in the air. “You’ve stuffed every hole in this friend’s body –”

The man turned red. “Hey!” He snatched the chopsticks from her hand, causing Vega to smile to herself. She wasn’t wrong.

“I wasn’t that kinky!” The man was clearly sporting a deeper shade of red as he unwrapped the covered wooden chopsticks, fingering it first before snapping it into two.

Vega’s smile was now ear to ear. “Don’t get too defensive –” she teased, now turning red herself. “I didn’t say exactly with what –”

Tom was murmuring something about later which was drowned out by the dog’s whimpering as she rubbed herself against the man’s shin. Giving Lily’s head a little scratch, Tom opened his pail box only to discover fried spring rolls sitting atop his crab fried rice.

The thespian took a deep breath.

“Now now,” Vega started, putting her own pail of spring rolls down as she faced her boyfriend. “I chose those because it’s supposedly easy –”

The man’s eyes were now a cloudy blue. “Easier than kimbap…”

Lily whined underneath them.

Slapping him on the shoulder, Vega tried so hard not to giggle at the man’s sulky expression as she gestured to the wooden chopsticks he was gripping in his hands.

“Here,” the woman exclaimed as she took her own split utensils, positioning them on the crook of her thumb and hand, the upper stick trapped between her thumb and index finger. “You see how I’m making it move?”

Tom looked grimly at how she made the sticks dance – opening up and closing like Pacman’s bare bones skeleton jaw. “Okay…”

The man placed down his box, as he took both of his own sticks in his hand, positioning it in the same manner that Vega was holding it.

“There,” the woman instructed, pointing to his thumb, indicating for him to affix the edge of one stick on the bottom curve that connected his thumb and his pointer finger. “Now just try and move it a little bit –”

The other stick fell on the ground.

Tom quickly picked it up before Lily can lap at the edges, taking a deep breath as he watched Vega lower her own chopsticks. “Do you really think I can do it?” he said hopelessly. “I mean, I’d be the laughing stock of the entire Southeast Asian Tour circuit –”

Vega sighed. “Come on Tom –”

She placed her own sticks down and placed her hands on his shoulders, making his sit up straight. The moment her hands met with his biceps, the man quickly stiffened up like a giant petrified beef jerky.

Crossing her arm around his as she took his chopsticks and positioned it on his hands, Vega used her tiny fingers to mimic the same proper position she was holding them with her own earlier.

“Make sure that you have the lower stick trapped firmly underneath the thumb,” she exclaimed as she leaned close, now kneeling on the couch so she can properly instruct him, ignoring the fact that her student’s breath is becoming heavy considering that she was pressing her body close against him, and that her open neckline was… too low… and was… against his face…

“See?” Vega continued on as she pinched his thumb and index finger together on the upper stick, moving them with her own fingers to recreate the opening and closing motion she was doing earlier. “This is how it’s supposed to work…”

Tom tried to focus hard on the task, and not look down the girl’s shirt. “You make it sound so easy…”

Vega nodded at him, ponytail swaying behind her head. “Well it is,” she said as she picked up his own box and offered it to him. “Now all you have to do is make that ‘pinching’ motion –” She took his hand again, trying to direct him to the task of picking up a lone, tiny spring roll sitting on top of the rice, with her dwarfed small hands wrapped around his.

Both of them awkwardly moving to complete the task, Tom finally found his hand shaking as he tried to hold on to the tiny piece of food.

‘Voila!”

Lily was now trying to get on Tom’s lap, in a dashing attempt to grab the coveted spring roll. Luckily, Vega gave her head a scratch, causing the dog to yap and lie on her feet.

Vega then smiled at him and gestured to his hand (which she was still holding on to ensure that he doesn’t drop the food on the floor and into Lily’s waiting jaws), proud of the feat she has done.

However, the man’s eyes remain clouded. “I don’t think I can do it without your hands, Vey.”

The woman released his hands (that have started shaking), saying, “Sure you can! See – you can hold on to it already!”

And that was when Tom lost control of the chopsticks and the piece fell on the floor.

Yapping, Lily quickly gobbled up the abandoned prize.

“Can I at least have a fork?” Tom bargained, defeated.

Vega shrugged, grinned at him, and rubbed the dog’s head who was licking the recesses of the spring roll on the floor. “Nope,” she responded. “No forks until you get this right.”

The thirty-something man whined. “Oh come on, Vega –”

“Come on Thain,” she teased, using the nickname she loved using so much as she started forking through her own oyster pail. “You have always been such a competitive little brute. Why give up now? You can do this!”

Tom grunted.

“You’ll even be better than me!”

The man sighed as he picked up his chopsticks from the table where he flung it after the piece fell. “Admit it,” he said in a miserable tone. “You’re just ashamed to be with a man who can’t even use such simple utensils –"

Vega didn’t even roll her eyes when she picked up a roll from her pile and shoved it into Tom’s mouth.

Taken aback, he just stared at her as she gripped his arm, as Vega suddenly realized the gravity of the situation.

Afraid that he’d be upset at her following this impulsive act, the woman slowly loosened her claws that sunk into his sleeves, as she gently pulled the chopsticks out of his mouth, causing his lip to brush wetly against the edge of her utensils.

Tom released her chopsticks with a loud pop before swallowing the food in his mouth.

Neck heating up, Vega placed the chopsticks down and was about to mutter a hurried and heartfelt apology – when Tom suddenly lunged at her, threading his fingers hard into her hair as he slopped his lips against hers, making sure that he definitely stuffing her mouth with his tongue.

Wide-eyed and unable to respond, Vega allowed herself to be pinned on the infamous couch (where other events in their own romantic history have taken place) as she took in his dinner served in a different form.

As for Lily, she ignored both her masters squabbling on the couch as she placed her head on the coffee table that she can reach, and pulled another roll out of the box.


***


Vega sat up on the bed, gathering the covers all over her body.

Shrugging her bare shoulders, she looked beside her to find Tom sprawled with a hand over his head, exhaustedly sleeping beside her – also naked as the day he was born. Vega tried not to chuckle as she ran a hand through her lover’s long curly hair – something he has grown over the past year in an attempt to “reconnect with his old self”. Running the back of her fingers against his cheek, Vega leaned over to remove those thick glasses from Tom’s face before setting it on his side table, gently touching his chest as she gave him a sweet and gentle kiss on the lips.

The man moaned in her mouth before turning on his side to face her, still asleep. Content, returning to a sitting position – Vega reached over her own bedside table to pick up her phone and her own glasses, dimming the brightness of the screen just so she wouldn’t wake her lover up.

This was common – sex on the day of Tom’s return after a long press tour.

It was like an unsaid plan, an automatic agreement that Vega is to spend the night with him as much as she can allow herself, on the day or night that he arrives. It wasn’t really on Tom’s rules, but it’s also what Vega desired. Despite four years of being together, she’s surprised that she can miss him that much.

Still, Vega felt bothered about how much the whole “chopsticks issue” upset her Thain.

Upon review of some of the social media sites where the commentary was circulated, some fans found it endearing that Tom was not familiar with using the utensil. Some adored the fact that it made him human, seeing that he has a flaw somewhere. However, it was the Asian fans who were somewhat disappointed, wondering whether the well-known Shakespeare thespian would even bother to eat Asian cuisine when we wasn’t visiting a specific country on the map.

It somewhat made Vega smile that Tom was willing to learn – meaning that he actually cared . But the thing was -- the man was so worried about what she would think. It made her heart swell that he wanted to learn for her .

Pursing her mouth, Vega gathered the covers higher up her chest as it was starting to get cold. Scrolling through her mobile, she decided to open up a shopping app that focused on kitchen and food utensils, thinking of the best thing she can do to help Tom with his endeavor. After all, she did want him to succeed.

The woman was distracted by a soft whine, only to look down to see Lily waffling towards her before climbing the bed to settle in between her legs.

Stroking the dog’s fur as she started to sleep on her, Vega adjusted her glasses as she squinted in the dark, searching various sites such as Tasty, Cookat, Eater, and other similar food hubs for a solution to Tom’s predicament.

Suddenly she found it. Something that would probably help.

That’s when the phone illuminated a small smile forming on Vega’s face, hidden in the dark.


***


“Why isn’t the little squirt joining us?”

Tom found himself sitting that afternoon on a luncheon prepared by his ex-roommate Maxine and her boyfriend Fred, who happened to be one of his oldest friends. However, he found himself alone on what was supposed to be a double-date set by the other couple on this spacious rooftop to celebrate the new expensive penthouse Fred bought.

“Vega says something came up with their app launch,” Tom explained, trying to hide the remorse in his voice. His girlfriend did stay over for breakfast, complimenting him on how he hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to cooking her favorite dish – his specially-made omelets. However, after an hour or two of canoodling, the Way Editor received an urgent email that caused her to skip this lunch they were both invited to, profusely apologizing to her lover in kisses. Vega also left him a gift still wrapped in a bow, which he was clutching under the table at that moment. “She promises to at least join us for dinner tonight.”

Max wrinkled her nose. She knew that her good ol’ buddy Vega was mostly busy at times, but she’s mostly connected at the hip with her boyfriend whenever he comes back after a long business-related trip. This goes on for a month or so, before Vega and Tom go back to their normal routines – Tom burying his nose in play meetings, script readings, and running; while Vega slaves over her advertising and marketing duties at Way Magazine. Of course, there’s always that possibility of a quickie after lunch at some café loo somewhere in the heart of London. Or Tom’s flat. Whatever comes first by cab.

“Pfft,” Max mutters. “She whines about not having you near when you’re off somewhere for work, yet she’s not there when you’re actually home –” Tom hid a smile upon that revelation. He was aware of Vega’s affectionate texts and the way she blushes whenever he Facetimes her, but he wasn’t aware of that longing he is not privy to when he’s not in the country. “Sometimes I’m scared she’s going back to her old ways of hiding her feelings from you.”

Placing the gift he got from Vega on the table, Tom rubbed his beard and muttered, “Well, that wasn’t what she was moaning last night.”

Max’s eyes widened as Fred almost choked on his mimosa. “Well, well, well,” his Scottish best friend responded, wiping a bit of alcohol off the side of his lips. “My man definitely hasn’t lost his touch –” The two men slapped hands underneath the table, causing the only woman present to slap her boyfriend on the chest.

“Ow,” Fred cooed at his girlfriend, making Max stick her tongue out at him.

Opening the black case he placed on the table, Tom took a deep sigh as he took out the item in it and started playing with it.

“Seriously Thomas,” Fred exclaimed when he noticed. “Training chopsticks?”

Max tried not to laugh as her thespian friend sighed and enclosed the plastic utensils in between his fingers, with a giant yellow duck holding both sticks together. “You’re really taking those comments in Twitter and Tumblr seriously, aren’t you?”

Making the sticks creak, with the Duck figure holding an elastic band to keep both together, Tom sighed and exclaimed, “I will have another Press Junket in Japan in a week. Of course, I don’t want to embarrass myself.”

Handing over a bowl of greens, Max looked absurdly at the way Tom was trying to use the training chopsticks on everything – the salad, the mash, the steak… and even the quinoa.

“You used to not care about what those commenters would say about you,” Fred commented as he dug into his steak, eyeing his friend’s obscure eating habits as Tom repeatedly tried to pick up food from his plate using his “training wheels”.

“I’m not doing it for them,” Tom sighed as he gave up on a crouton, picking it up with his fingers and popping it in his mouth. “I’m doing it for what really matters .”

Max had to giggle. “Ah,” she exclaimed, shaking her head. “ Trying to impress the Asian girlfriend , I see.”

Tom glared at her before realizing her words, as he nodded resignedly, realizing that she was right. It wasn’t just for the fans, it wasn’t just for the reputation. He just couldn’t stand that worried look on Vega’s face when he asked her to help him learn how to use them properly. Nor he wouldn’t dare to imagine the horror on her face when she read the comments… (As if Vega would actually be upset with him for not being to know how to do it.)

“Aha!” Tom said in triumph when he finally picked up the steak with his specialized chopsticks.

Fred was wearing a coy look as he stared at the feat. “With training chopsticks – that doesn’t count.”

Tom rolled his eyes – when the meat suddenly fell back on the plate with a loud splat!

The British man groaned when he saw specks of barbecue sauce all over his shirt.


***


“Are you ready for your next trip?”

Tom ran a hand through his curls, before smiling at the girl he was walking down the sidewalk at. “I hope so,” he patted his jacket pocket, still feeling the shape of the trusty duck who has been training him in the ways of eating over the past week. “After all, I learned from the best.”

Vega tried her hard not to blush as she pocketed her phone and gazed at the dusk sky. “Really now,” she whispered, daring to look at the man’s bright eyes.

“Of course!” the thespian chimed. “I’m thankful for Trusty Mr. Duck –” He had to flinch when Vega slapped his arm. “Ow,” he moaned.

Stopping in their tracks, Vega turned to look up and found herself staring at the lighted sign of an expensive and well-known restaurant.

Momo ,” Vega mouthed slowly before turning worriedly to her boyfriend. “Tom, are you –”

However, the man has already walked up to the reservation assistant who was confirming his name and count, before he turned to his bestfriend of so many years, beckoning her to follow him inside.

Looking around and finding a nice table to sit down on, Vega found herself eyeing the wooden disposable chopsticks all around, before turning to look at the man seated beside her on the couch.

“You really are a brave fellow, Tom,” Vega mused, a bit of unease on her face.

The man took in a deep sigh, and smiled at her. “I’m confident,” he exclaimed as he received the menus from a waiting. “After all, a professional taught me.”

Vega looked at him for a while, seeing the determination in his eyes as he ordered a plate of tuna tartare, spicy salmon rolls, and to her surprise – a miso-based steak Ramen for both of them.

“Ramen sounds pretty challenging,” Vega said nervously as she looked around, wondering if there would be flashes of light coming from the windows anytime. After all, based on her experience -- paps can be anywhere. “You sure you’re up for it, Thain?”

Tom adjusted his glasses and leaned back against his seat. “We’ll never know until we try,” he said with a bright smile.

Vega gave him a wary smile and crossed her arms. “You’ve been at this for a week ,” she moaned. “Will you be using Mr. Duck tonight?”

The smile on the man’s face disappeared as he nervously touched the lucky charm inside his jacket pocket. “You don’t trust me?” his tone faltered. “My own love doesn’t trust that I can do it –”

The woman sat up, looking even more worried. “Oh come on Thain,” she exclaimed. “It’s not that – It’s just –“

Tom feigned a really cute pout. “I have been practicing all week.”

Vega rubbed her hands underneath the table and nodded. “I know,” she winced, trying not to giggle, remembering the fracas involving the peas and the marbles – when she showed him Youtube Videos of “Chopstick Masters” executing techniques to hone the skill.

“You’ve been using my gift the whole time,” the girl muttered. “Almost in every meal – even if it’s not even Japanese, or Chinese…” Vega blinked. “Even when we were eating Greek.” Tom feigned a really, really adorable frown. “With hummus .”

The girl tried not to burst out laughing with the statement. Vega loved Tom with everything that he is (and it took her more than two years to actually admit it to herself), but these are the moments that even though he was extremely ridiculous , she can’t help but love him more .

The man shrugged and hungrily eyed the tuna tartare that was served first. “I’m sorry,” he sighed. “I just really really wanted to get better at this –”

Vega ran a hand through her own hair, tucking back a lock behind her ear. “You don’t become a pro in a week, Tom –”

Picking up his wooden chopsticks and snapping it indignantly into two, the man grinned at her. “Watch me.”

The woman beside him crossed her arms as she watched him painstakingly pick up the raw tuna pieces that was smeared with wasabi and Japanese mayonnaise. To Vega’s surprise, he managed to pick up one or two, before popping it in his mouth.

Her brown eyes lit up. “Not bad for your first attempt, peasant ,” she teased, giggling.

Swallowing, her boyfriend leaned close to her and whispered, “Be careful with your words, woman. I might be picking off every button on that shirt with these chopsticks.”

The shocked, offended, perfect-O that formed on Vega’s lips was priceless.

Remaining quiet, the girl just decided to lean back on her chair as she watched her so-called bestfriend work through the delivered orders, as she sampled here and there with what was served on the table.

Despite his graceful long fingers and agile hands and the fact that Tom does have perfect hand-eye coordination as demonstrated in the past, he does display a bit of wobbliness with how he handled the pieces of sushi as he quickly popped it in his mouth. But he succeeded, with a bit of food dropping here and there.

“Dropped that piece of mango,” Vega would tease him before Tom would quickly scoop it up with his fingers and put it in his mouth.

I mean, one should give him credit for it – he was succeeding somehow .

And then, the Ramen arrived.

“Damn,” Vega hissed under her breath as she took a whiff of the broth. “This smells delicious.”

Tom turned to grin at her to wipe away the perspiration from his brow that was not caused by the steam of the noodles – but by something else.

Tapping the edge of her chopsticks on the sushi plate, she painstakingly split it in mid-air with her fingers as she prepared to dig in her bowl of noodles. “Are you ready?” she grinned at the man beside her, seemingly sizing him up for the challenge.

The man smirked, nudging her gently with his elbow underneath her rib, making her growl. “I was born ready,” he hissed, blue eyes dangerously clouded with determination.

“Let’s see to that –”

Vega had already positioned herself to dig in her bowl of noodles, when she paused to watch her boyfriend starting on the task. The poor girl had to wince as she painfully watched the man struggling with getting a strip or two tangled around his chopsticks, only to have the rest of them sloshing hopelessly in the sea of broth inside the bowl.

“Tom –”

Gritting his teeth, trying to lower his mouth to catch the elusive noodles. “I can do this –”

“You don’t have to –”

I have to – "

It was the big splatter of soup that hit his chin that caused the man to pause and reconsider his choices.

Vega covered her mouth, really trying hard to stifle a giggle. However, she did reach out and touch his hand underneath the table… sweetly gliding her fingertips over his tense knuckles.

Sighing, the man put his wooden chopsticks down and raised his hand, alerting a waiter.

“Can you get me a fork please?”


***


A week later, Vega received a video that was sent to her through iMessage by Max as early as 9 ‘o clock in the morning. She couldn’t help but be curious about the content, considering the girl just left a message with it reading, “ Nice work, baby girl. Everyone’s impressed with your Daddy. ” Considering the way it was said by someone like Max, Vega couldn’t help but scrunch her nose in defiance – but when she found out what it was about – she couldn’t help but smile.

 

 

“The seaweed is very delicious indeed ,” the British thespian’s voice rasped through the recording as he effortlessly turned the unagi roll around in mid-air with the firm grip of his chopsticks. “It really brings out the taste of the seafood.”

The shy-looking Japanese interviewer chuckled. “The fans here are very impressed with how you improved your chopstick-skills, Tomu-san,” she exclaimed as the camera focused on how Tom dipped the roll – rice down on the soy sauce. “Did you get enough practice?”

The ehe-he-hes were deliciously infectious in the video. “Oh,” Tom muttered, blushing red in the video. “It’s just that there’s a nice girl back home who taught me how to use these properly.” With that, he looks at the video and winks.

“Awwwww!” the interviewer cooed as his fellow co-stars started jabbing him in the arm with their elbows. “Tomu-san must have a talented girl!”

The man couldn’t help but turn redder in front of the camera as he grinned.

 

Vega, sitting on her office table, couldn’t help but smile as she shook her head repeatedly.

Opening up her iMessage, she sends a familiar name a line as she chuckles quietly to herself.

 

Vega

You really had to have that video edited, didn’t you? How many takes did it take for you to hold that sushi roll still? Hahahaha!

 

Thain

O ye, of little faith. Weren’t I trained by the best?

 

Vega

Alright, alright.

 

Thain

But it’s true. I wouldn’t have done it without you.

 

Vega

:) If you say so, sweetheart.

 

Thain

Its’ all for you, love.


He might be far away, but with the way she grinned, she felt as if he was holding her right there.