“I need a steak, medium rare and a side of broiled mushrooms and cream corn.”
A short blonde man shouted to the kitchen staff, hanging a piece of paper on the wall. He wiped the sweat off his forehead and walked over to the soda machine to fill a glass for the customer he was waiting on. The glass was brimming with ice and cola, he hoped he didn’t fill it too much and end up spilling it.
The blonde turned his head to find the source of the voice. The waiting staff was sparse, so the few that were there frantically ran past each other to make sure all the customers were taken care of and not bump into each other. It was warm and humid by the kitchen. Ruki found sweat uncomfortably settled under his arms and at the small of his back. His waiter uniform was made from unbreathable and heavy material.
The blonde turned to find a brunette chef motioning towards him. His brunette hair was cut shoulder length and he flashed a smile to the waiter that produced a dimple on one side of his face. He held a plate in his one hand, waiting for the blonde to come forward.
“It’s the beef and peppers platter for the party of two. I’ll have the cheese and scallops ready in a minute. The cheddar is almost melted.”
“Thanks Kai.” Ruki nodded and grabbed the plate. He went to the side of the kitchen where they set the cleaned dishes. He grabbed a serving tray and placed his plate on it. He walked past Kai and collected his second dish now that it was complete. He paced past the soda machine and placed the drink on the tray as well.
He balanced all the food on his tray as he weaved through chairs and tables. He held the tray over his head to avoid hitting anyone with it. He walked to a table with a single man sitting at it. Ruki placed the drink gently down.
“Here’s your drink sir. I’ll be back with your meal in a few moments.” He spoke politely and smiled at the customer. After all, his wages depended on his tips. He continued through the sea of tables to the couple he was waiting on. A man and woman celebrating some promotion for one of them. He greeted them in his friendly voice and placed both their meals in front of them.
“Can I get you two anything else?”
“Yes. May we have some wine? Red wine, please?” The man asked.
“Certainly.” He bowed and walked off. He headed back to the kitchen. His day continued like this for another eight hours. He ran back and forth to keep his customers happy. Once they were done and left, he jumped at the tips on the table. He calculated in his head and hoped he had enough to pay for this months rent.
He had ten minutes left on his shift and all his customers were done and left. He didn’t want to wait on another table and risk getting home late. His feet ached and he begged for a bath. He walked through the kitchen to the back room where the staff kept their purses, coats, and other personal belongings.
He was too warm to put on his jacket, so he opted to hang it over his arm. It was the middle of autumn, and he hoped the lower temperatures would cool him off. He sighed as he walked through the kitchen again. He waved goodbye to everyone. He patted Kai on the shoulders to let him know he was leaving.
Him and the brunette were close friends. Kai was the one who helped Ruki the most when he started here three years ago. He was patient as the blonde tried to keep his orders straight. He flashed his dimple at the blonde and nodded. He continued his stirring of the pot of stew for the party of five that just walked in.
Ruki turned to exit the heated kitchen and walked through the door that led to the back alley. As he reached for the knob, the door swung open, hitting him in the face. He closed his eyes and tumbled backwards. He maintained his balance, and didn't fall to the floor.
“Shit! Sorry!” A friendly voice spoke and Ruki felt a hand grasp around his wrist to keep him steady and on both feet. He opened his eyes and found Shou holding onto him, frowning at the incident.
He waved his hand, letting his fellow waiter know he could let go of him. “I’m fine.”
Shou smiled and released his grasp. Ruki found that smile somewhat adorable. The brunette waiter’s eyes focused on the blonde. Ruki tried not to blush under the gaze.
“You done for the day?” Shou’s voice was cheerful yet mature when he spoke to the blonde.
“Yeah. Gonna head home.” Ruki nodded as he stepped past the taller man towards the door.
“Do you want to get drinks after I’m done with my shift. I only have another hour. I had fun the last time.” The way Shou smiled at him made his heart race.
“Sorry, can’t. I didn’t budget for that this week.” Ruki pathetically smiled and bowed. He saw Shou falter in his own cheerfulness.
“Okay. No problem. Maybe some other time.”
With that Ruki closed the door behind him. He sighed in frustration. Normally people would be elated when their crushes asked them out for drinks. But he just couldn’t afford it right now. He rested his back against the wall as he dug in his coat pockets for his cigarettes. He found them and lit one.
He breathed in and exhaled a puff of smoke, allowing the nicotine to sooth his racing mind. Work today was stressful to say the least. He kept trying to pick up shifts to make more. Not only did he have rent to worry about, but he was completely out of food. He needed to stop at the store and pick up more ramen.
He stubbed his cigarette against the wall and flicked it down the alleyway. As he placed his pack back into his coat pocket, a five dollar bill fell out and blew across the ground. Ruki wished he had enough pride to not go chasing it down the alley. But he really needed that to purchase his food. He scrambled against the dirt to catch the pesky bill blowing away.
He fell to his knees and snatched his money. However, under his hand he felt something odd. He found what he thought was a rock, but it was smooth to the touch, almost like porcelain. It was an ivory color. Ruki never saw a rock like that before. It fascinated him so he thought he’d pick it up. Except it didn’t budge. In fact, it looked like it must be buried by the dirt. The blonde clawed at the dirt surrounding the rock. He figured if he could pull it free, it’d make a nice knick-knack for his otherwise bare apartment.
After a few moments, the shape of the object revealed it was no ordinary rock. Actually, the more Ruki dug, the more the object resembled a bottle. He managed to break the item free from it’s underground prison. He held it in his hands and studied the object. It was a ceramic sake bottle. It was vase-shaped with a cork at the top. A thin rope was wrapped around the neck of the bottle. The writing on the side of the bottle was hard to understand under the layers of dirt. Ruki assumed it was the brand name for the alcoholic beverage.
Overall, it was an interesting find. Ruki decided that he’d take it home and clean it. It would look nice in his living room or maybe even his small kitchen. He couldn’t decide which. He hummed to himself and stuffed the item in his jacket and walked further down the alley, heading towards his apartment.
He eventually arrived at his destination. A three story-high brick building. It was squeezed in between two other buildings with hardly any room beside it. The alleyways weren’t large enough, even a bicycle might get stuck between them.
The blonde entered the tight landing before trekking up the creaking wooden stairs to his room on the top floor. Once he was inside he set his jacket and the bottle down on the kitchen table. The living room and kitchen were connected, no border to distinguish one room from the other. The walls were all brick. But it was cracked and chipped in numerous places, ruining the rustic look he believed the designers of the room were going for. Off to the side was a small hallway with two doors on both side. One led to his bathroom and the other to his bedroom.
He’s lived here since he moved to the city. It was the only place he could afford, and three years later he was even struggling with that. He sighed as he emptied the contents of his pockets. He organized the loose bills from his tips today and placed them in two envelopes. One was marked “rent” while the other one read “food.” He was a little ashamed at how he had to divide his money in order to live. But he managed this far with the system.
After he hung his coat up beside the door and kicked his shoes off, his eyes fell to the bottle on his table. It was interesting to find such a bizarre thing in the alleyway. He picked it up to try and read the wording on the bottle. It was an intricate character that he didn’t remember seeing all that much. He shrugged and stepped over to the sink. He held it under the tap, watching the dirt slide off of it and circle down the drain.
Now that it was clean, it was easier to read it. Ruki studied it. He thought it said, “Uruha” but he wasn’t too certain. He thought that was an odd thing to write on a bottle of sake. As he shook the bottle around, he felt there was a bit of weight to it. He wondered if it still contained any alcohol. His curiosity getting the better of him, he removed the cork to look inside.
But once the cork was removed, purple smoke shot out of the opening. Ruki coughed and gasped at the oddity. His entire vision became a swirl of purples and golds. He dropped the bottle into the sink. The smoke continued to fill his room and he moved his hands in front of him to swat it out of his eyes. He struggled to keep his eyes open, forcing himself to find some visibility.
The smoke slowly dissipated and Ruki could’ve sworn he saw a strange figure standing before him. He tried to walk towards a window to let the smoke out, but instead he ran into something and fell to his floor. Except, whatever he ran into produced a grunt as he hit it.
Ruki laid on the floor coughing for air. The smoke that remained settled against his floor, allowing him to see above himself. He opened his eyes and saw a blonde man in purple standing over him. He gasped in fear and crawled backwards slightly. He saw the man look surprised too. He was looking all around the apartment, his mouth left agape and his eyes bouncing rapidly at his surroundings. Once they settled on Ruki, the blonde man smiled at him.
Ruki held his head in his hands as he tried to study his surroundings. The smoke was all but gone, save for a few strands hanging around the stranger. Ruki looked at the man’s bizarre outfit. He wore a long, opened purple vest with a matching shirt underneath. It was adorned with peacock feathers along the neckline. He wore tight purple shorts with pant legs attached to garters, revealing his thighs but covering just above his knees. The ends of his pant legs also had feathers attached to it. The entire outfit looked like purple pleather and it shined in the light. The stranger’s blonde hair was styled so his bangs cupped the sides of his face, drawing attention to his eyes and jawline. His lips were plush and curved into a friendly smile.
Ruki looked between the man and the bottle he discarded in the sink. He had no idea why this oddly-dressed man was standing in his apartment. He didn't look threatening, but the waiter wasn’t about to let his guard down. He knew the man must have had something to do with the strange smokescreen that erupted out of the bottle. He closed his eyes and sighed. He felt the stress headache from work return in full force at the situation he found himself in.
“Fuck me.” He mumbled in pain as he held his head.
Within seconds, the thin man had crawled to the floor and hovered over the waiter. Ruki panicked, he had no idea how this man moved this fast, or what he was doing. The stranger pressed his knee between Ruki’s legs and planted his one hand firmly on the floor beside the blonde’s hips. He brought his free hand up to cup the shorter man’s cheek.
Ruki was about to voice out his concern, until he felt a set of plush, warm lips on his. They sensually glided over his with ease. He felt the stranger’s hand move down his face and over his chest. He shivered when he felt the other’s tongue slip out and slid over his bottom lip. Adrenaline rushed to his head and he forcibly pushed the man off of him.
The stranger tumbled over, his graceful movements ceased as he fell onto his back with a yelp. Ruki wiped at his lips and shifted to kneel on the ground.
“What the Hell was that?!” He barked at the stranger.
“Your wish is my command.” The stranger whimpered as he tried to steady himself to sit up.
“Wish? What are you on about?”
“You...um..told me to fuck you so…” The blonde stranger blushed and scratched the back of his head. Ruki straightened up and blushed as well.
“It’s just an expression. I wasn’t being literal.” The waiter huffed.
“Oh.” The stranger chewed on his lips and looked at the floor. He was still blushing, uneasiness apparent in his body language.
“How did you get into my apartment? What are you?” Ruki stood up and crossed his arms. He was determined to figure out what was happening despite his head ache.
“Oh right!” The stranger shifted onto his knees and placed his head and hands on the floor. His face was buried against the wooden floor as he bowed towards the blonde. Ruki shifted, confused by the man’s actions.
“Thank you for freeing me master. Your wish is my command.” He spoke in a smooth voice.
“Master?! What kind of sick role-playing are you into?” Ruki scoffed.
“Role-playing?” The stranger lifted his head up and tilted his head at the blonde inquisitively.
“Nevermind. Who are you?”
“I am your servant.”
Ruki cringed at the response. He did not expect that. Just the way the man worded it made him feel uneasy.
“No. I mean what’s your name?”
“Oh. Uruha.” The blonde nodded his head excitedly. He smiled as he spoke.
“That’s what was written on the bottle. Why did it spit out purple smoke when I opened it?”
“You broke the seal and freed me. Now I serve you, master.”
“Stop saying that! I’m not into that kind of stuff.” Ruki blushed and walked to the sink, picking the bottle out of the sink. It weighed virtually nothing now, like it was empty. “Please, call me Ruki.”
“Just Ruki. No master. Okay?”
The stranger chewed his bottom lip and shifted uneasily on his knees. He seemed hesitant in agreeing with Ruki’s suggestion.
“And you don’t have to keep kneeling. You can stand up.” The waiter smiled at his uninvited guest.
“Yes mas- I mean Ruki.” He moved and stood on his lanky legs. He stood a whole head taller than the waiter.
“So, I freed you from this bottle?” Uruha nodded at the smaller man. “Does that make you some kind of genie or something? Is that what was with the smoke?”
“Yes. Whoever breaks the seal and releases me becomes my new master.” Uruha sounded robotic in his reply. Almost like he was reciting something from memory.
“Okay. I did not expect this today.” Ruki chuckled and moved to sit on the couch in his living room. He continued to hold the ceramic bottle in his hand. Uruha slowly followed the man, but made no move to sit.
“So if you’re a genie, why a sake bottle? Don’t you usually live in those golden oil lamps like in Aladdin?” The blonde smirked as he rubbed his fingers over the bottle.
“Oh, well I like sake.” Uruha smiled shyly. He still stood up, shifting from side to side on his feet.
“So, you’re a genie? You can only grant me three wishes right? And then you pop back into this bottle until someone else rubs it?” The waiter relaxed against the couch. He laid his head against the soft back.
“Well, not exactly…”
“You can sit down if you don’t want to stand. Feel free to make yourself comfortable.” The waiter patted the couch, signalling the tall man to relax. Uruha smiled brightly and jumped down onto the couch. He bounced a few times, laughing at the excitement. It was a childlike enjoyment.
“Thank you.” He beamed.
“Anyway. Sorry to interrupt you. What were you saying?”
“Oh right.” Uruha snapped out of his fun and returned to the question. “There are no limits to how many wishes I can grant. You can have more than three wishes...unless you wish for only three wishes.”
“But wouldn’t that mean I only had two wishes left?”
“Yes.” Uruha nodded. His hair bounced on his head.
Ruki leaned over to the man. He reached out one of his fingers and started poking the man in the side. Uruha giggled as he hit a particularly ticklish spot.
“You’re solid.” Ruki hummed. “How would you get back into your bottle.”
“Oh! I can do magic and shapeshift!” Uruha excitedly stood up and a puff of purple and gold smoke covered his appearance. Ruki covered his face to prevent any from stinging his eyes. The smoke quickly dissolved and a doppelganger of Ruki was standing before him.
The blonde shrieked and scooted to the arm of the couch. It was surprising to see yourself standing beside you. Ruki stood up and walked closer to his clone, inspecting it.
“Pretty neat, huh?!” The hyper voice that escaped the mirror image of him was unmistakably Uruha’s. He held his arms out as the real Ruki studied every minute detail. The accuracy was phenomenal. He managed to get all the imperfections Ruki hated about himself spot on. The mark under his eye and chin that he tried to hide with makeup; all of it.
“Remarkable. Apart from the voice you could fool anyone!”
“Oh I can fix that.” Uruha coughed and then continued, his voice matching the smaller blonde’s. “Hi, I’m Ruki. I’m cynical and sarcastic. I like to pick up old sake bottles.”
“Ha. Ha. How did you know I was sarcastic and cynical?”
“I could tell.” Uruha was enveloped by another puff of smoke. It dissipated and revealed the genie back to his normal self. “But I made the part up about the bottle.”
“You seem to have a lot of energy for someone who was trapped in a bottle for….however long it was.”
“I got soooo much sleep. Now I’m ready to roll!” Uruha raised his arm up in the air.
“Well, I need to take a shower first. And then make something to eat. I am the exact opposite of you right now.” Ruki weakly laughed as he ran his hand through his sweat-soaked hair.
“You could wish to be clean! I can use my magic on you.”
“No it’s fine. I enjoy showering. You can walk around and familiarize yourself with the apartment. Since you’re gonna be living here and all.”
“I thought I would sleep in my bottle. Until you called on me, that is. I don’t want to take up space.”
“Nonsense. You’ll have to sleep on the couch if that’s okay. I only have a twin sized bed, and no spare room.” Ruki paused on his way to the bathroom to look back at his guest. Uruha stood, eyes wide.
“I….that’s okay with me.” His lips twisted into a grateful grin. Ruki nodded and continued towards the bathroom. He left the blonde genie standing by himself between the kitchen and living room. The genie felt a giddiness in his heart. He was free to walk around. The very notion of that was baffling. Most people only wanted their wishes and that was it. His new master was so kind.
Uruha walked around the kitchen. He ran his hand over the smooth marble of the countertops and marveled at the coziness of the apartment. It was a tad small, but not as small as his bottle. He paced into the living room. The wooden floor creaked under his feet in some areas. The noise amused him. He’d lift his foot and shift all his weight to the spot on the floor just to hear the creak. He continued this for ten minutes. He hopped around the floor to try and find more noisy floorboards.
Once he reached the hallway he looked down it. He saw two doors on opposite sides of each other. He strolled down, not hearing any noise from the floor and stood outside them. The door to his left had a light shining from under it and he heard a noise from behind it. It sounded like rain. He thought he heard humming on the other side too. The door to his right was quiet and so he ignored it.
The rain noise stopped same with the humming. This disappointed Uruha, he was fond of the beautiful sounds. He turned the knob to investigate why it stopped. Once the door was opened, warm steam rushed past him. He found his short blonde master standing in front of him. He was hovering over the sink and looking at his own reflection in the mirror.
Ruki’s head snapped towards the door as he heard it open. He was stunned when he saw Uruha standing in the doorway. The genie’s face was nonchalant as he looked around. Though once his eyes landed on the waiter, his face grew red as he noticed Ruki wasn’t wearing anything. He was standing completely naked. Uruha forcibly pried his eyes away and looked at the floor.
Ruki quickly grabbed a towel to cover his exposed nether regions. Once he managed to wrap himself, he figured Uruha probably saw everything already. His face was burning red and he turned his back towards the genie.
“Can I get some privacy please?” He tried to keep his voice level and not shout at his guest, despite his embarrassment.
“Oh, um….sorry.” Uruha yelped and closed the door behind him. His heart was racing and he leaned his back against the door. He tried to shake the image out of his head. He should not have done that to his master. It is completely rude to walk in on someone without an invitation. He berated himself as he walked to the living room and plopped onto the couch.
He didn’t jump on the couch or tried to make the floor squeak. He patiently waited for his master to punish him. He folded his hands in his laps and sagged his shoulders. His head hung low as he lamented over his actions. Sometimes he acted so childish, he never thought about the consequences. He heard the bathroom door open and immediately tensed up. His master was on his way. He waited for the anger to be directed at him.
Ruki walked down the hall into the living room. He had a towel set on top his head to dry his newly washed hair. He changed into grey sweatpants and a black t-shirt. He halted when he saw the genie sitting on his couch. The mystical being looked completely terrified. He didn’t know why. It was embarrassing yeah, but he had no reason to be scared.
“Hey.” Ruki casually called to the man. He saw Uruha jump at his voice and keep his head down. He saw the tall man’s legs tremble as he spoke. Ruki realized he was afraid of him. Was he afraid that he was mad at him?
“Well, now when you shapeshift as me, you have an even more accurate basis to go off of.” Ruki chuckled, trying to diffuse the situation with humor. Uruha’s head shot up to look at the short blonde. His eyes were wide as they landed on Ruki. He found his master smiling, and laughing. This brought a wave of relaxation over the genie. He laughed and sighed. He managed to lean against the couch and ease the tension in his limbs. Ruki stepped forward and moved to sit beside his newfound roommate.
“But next time, just knock before entering.” He chuckled again, hiding the red on his cheeks.
Uruha nodded as a response. He couldn’t help but smile. He found himself in a new, and strange place. Yet his master had treated him with nothing but kindness. Sure he freaked out when he first appeared, but that’s only natural. He adapted to the idea pretty quickly for a human. Uruha was grateful such a kind man was his new master. He looked forward to their time together.