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Cup Noodles

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“Geez! Look at the time! 5.30pm! I should get going else I’ll be late for my date!”

Kaji Hideki’s emphasis on “date” was not meant to go unnoticed. He stood up hurriedly, intentionally making a cacophony while he packed up, worried that no one heard him. Yes, he, the famous magician doctor has a date on this especially romantic day of the year. Yes, Valentine’s Day, the one day every single looks forward to, and every couple actually secretly dreads.

Nevermind the details, he just needs to look the part. He dusted his hands theatrically, exaggerating the slapping sounds of to catch everyone’s attention. Anyone.

Unfortunately, what is somewhat unusual for the surgical department’s office, there was not a soul to be seen. Just like Kaji, it appeared, every other surgeon has also succumbed to this annual tradition of overspending, overeating, and utterly excessive displaying of affection. Even Kaji’s work bestie Hara Mamoru is no exception.

Right on the dot at 5pm, Hara quietly packed his briefcase, tidied his desk, and was ready to get off work as discreetly as possible —— albeit with a bouquet of highly overpriced red roses in his hand this was virtually impossible —— before Kaji caught him in the act.

“You’ve a date tonight?” Kaji did not try to suppress his jealousy. At all.

“Erm, yes. I’m sorry, I’ve to go now,” he answered sheepishly, as if Kaji just caught him consuming some contraband in the office. He hurriedly left the office, shuffling his feet with such urgency that his brand new, well-polished leather boots probably got worn out just from the short few steps to the door.

“Hmph!” A clearly disgruntled Kaji lifted and waved his hand as if trying to rid himself off a pesky mosquito incessantly buzzing around his head. This customary act of annoyance is seemingly more commonly on display as the wrinkles around his eyes become more prominent through the years.

Well, no matter. He will just have to leave this office with his head held high, in a confident demeanour and no one will call his bluff. His 55 inch fancy pants LCD TV screen, together with Netflix will once again get him through yet another lonely Valentine’s Day. At least they are loyal to him and won’t leave him in the lurch.

A wave of self pity engulfs him as he toyed with the office key in his hand. “Stupid Valentine’s Day!” He mumbled under his breath, in defiant bravado that merely masked his tinge of sour grapes.

“Who did you bribe to go on a date with you?”

Kaji was suddenly startled by a booming voice originating from the corner of the office. Such a caustic yet pointed remark can only stem from one person.

“Argh! You gave me a shock, Demon! Why are you lurking in the dark over there?!”

“None of your business.”

“I see someone’s going to be lonesome tonight. Poor you!”

An egomaniac will never acknowledge when his sarcasm is best kept for himself.

“Hmph! What special day is it? It is rather odd that the office is so quiet…”

“Wait, really? You don’t know?”

In an instant, as if a switch has been flicked, Daimon Michiko turned stoic and started deeply reflecting: “February 14th… It’s not the expiration date of my beef gyudon promotion voucher, so there’s no reason everyone would be out eating today…”

Kaji impatiently tapped his foot, and shook his head. “Hey! Demon! Valentine’s Day! Do you even know what it is? Bet you’re dateless tonight! As for me, I’m going to be late for my date, so…” He blared at her while opening the office door, ready to leave for his hallucinatory date.

As he stepped out, he almost bumped into Jounouchi Hiromi, who for some mysterious reason, looked ravishing today. In fact, she has been looking exceptionally radiant these past few days, immediately sparking rumours amongst the ever “concerned” nurses. Messages of the sort: “I bet she’s in a relationship!”, “Did she reconcile with her ex?”, “Wait, didn’t you hear? The VIP patient is very much into her!”, “She’s definitely deeply in love. It’s so obvious!” began circulating in the nurses’ “Gossip” group chat, and soon the whole hospital was speculating about who this anaesthesiologist’s love interest is.

Being so attractive definitely has its downsides.

But, Kaji, the administrator of the “Gossip” chat, was not going to fail on this mission: “I will find out and let you all know!” He abstained from adding an emoji in the pretence of trying to seem professional.

Immediately, “Thank you Dr Kaji!”, “You’re the best!”, “You’re the most resourceful!” and messages of the like persistently flashed on his mobile phone, and Kaji basked in his moment of glory.

“Wait, it can’t be… Dr Jounouchi is dateless tonight too?!” He stared confused at Jounouchi who still stood in front of him. However, her stern and serious gaze frightened him, and he silently gave her a polite nod and awkward smile as he took his leave.

So much for “I will find out”.

Jounouchi’s deep brown eyes assessed Kaji’s getup, and instantly she saw through him. But, being the politically correct person she is, she did not outright call his bluff. Instead, she merely nodded her head to acknowledge him. She suppressed the “tsk” that was at the edge of her mouth.

Daimon was still seated on the sofa at the corner of the office, trying to decipher what “Valentine’s Day” would mean.


“Ha, bet he’s the one who’s dateless tonight…” Jounouchi’s voice trailed off as she watched Kaji dash off sheepishly. Then, she turned to face Daimon and her voice instinctively turned gentle and soothing, “Neh, Daimon-san, thanks for waiting! The surgeon at today’s simple surgery was so slow!”

“I guess Dr Jounouchi has been overly pampered by my surgical speed!” Daimon exclaimed triumphantly as she put on her coat and stepped out from the locker room.

“Dr Jounouchi… I’m so hungry!!! What shall we eat tonight?” As she spoke, she naturally stuck out her arm for Jounouchi to hold on to.

They looked at each other and smiled.

“It’s V-Day today, so I bet it is crowded everywhere…”

A thought suddenly flashed through Daimon’s mind: “I know! Let’s have yakiniku!”

“Ha ha ha! Ok, sure, I’ve no problems with that,” Jounouchi yielded, pinching Daimon’s nose playfully.

As they approached the main entrance of the hospital, the automatic sliding doors opened, sending a cold draft straight into their faces. Instinctively, they both simultaneously adjusted the collars of their winter coats, brisk walking to find a yakiniku restaurant.

“Did Akira-san say when he’ll be back from Kyoto?”

“In another two days. He’s really been travelling a lot more lately… I wonder if he secretly wants me to die of hunger!”

“Eh, but someone knows how to cook already, no? Yes, Master Chef?”

Jounouchi generously appraised Daimon’s preparation of cup noodles as “cook”. “Master chef” may be a wee bit farfetched.

“Neh… I was afraid I’ll get controlled by hunger yet again and foolishly agree to go on a date just to ease my hunger pangs…” She was evidently embarrassed by her faux pas a few months ago. As adept as she is with knives in the operating theatre, she for some mysterious reason was completely incapable of slicing open some hapless kabocha. Helpless, hungry and losing all capacity for rational thinking, she agreed to a date. To this day, the thought of that date still sends shivers down her spine. So this time, when Akira said he was going to be away for a few days, she mentally prepared herself and vowed to learn how to be independent. At least somewhat. “Look! I know how to make cup noodles!” She proudly proclaimed on the day Akira left for Kyoto. Jounouchi’s jaw dropped, completely stunned. Baby steps, but steps forward, nonetheless.

“Thank you, Daimon-san,” Jounouchi reached out her hand and caressed Daimon’s head. Despite the bitterly cold winter breeze still assaulting her cheeks, she felt a fluttering warm fill her heart. It was precisely this simple act of love, this seemingly insignificant act of pouring hot water over dehydrated noodles in a cup, that made Jounouchi so elated she couldn’t repress the joy from emanating from her heart. Despite how reserved she normally is about her private life, her radiant smile was a dead giveaway.

Just because of some hot boiling water drenching some noodles.

Nothing whatsoever to do with whatever-is-his-name-that-useless-man ex-husband.

Daimon grinned, “So, your treat tonight?”

“Ok, sure!” Her tone was so gentle, so loving, so pampering, “But, only for tonight!”

“How about this one?” Daimon pointed to the restaurant just ahead, “Valentine’s Day special set menu! With free beer!”

“I won’t do it.”

“Eh? Didn’t you just say ok?”

“Daimon-san, take a look at the prices! Everything is marked up today, under the guise of ‘Valentine’s Day Special’” She used air quotes. She was not hiding her disdain.

“Wait, won’t that mean I won’t get my treat tonight?”

“Well… Unless you can find a restaurant that didn’t raise prices just for today.”

“Hmph. To think I thought you were being generous…” Puss in boots has made its appearance again. She pouted defiantly, knowing full well that she is no match for her partner.

“Hey! How dare you say this about me!” Jounouchi smacked Daimon’s forearm, “Besides, I’m just saving up for our future…”

“Ah! I know!”

Daimon had another lightbulb moment and immediately grabbed Jounouchi’s wrist and dragged her towards the tent with “Taiyaki” emblazoned all over its banner flags.

“I’m sure this would work?”

She is so charmingly easily satisfied.

“Ha ha! Fine, you win!”

“The usual bench?”

Jounouchi nodded her head slightly, then as per their usual routine, walked quietly to the bench: yes, the very same one where they have had many heart-to-heart talks, starting from the very time she told her, “If it’s something we can do together, let’s do it now.” Who would have known, that the promise to accompany her would last to this very day?

Daimon returned with a red bean taiyaki in her hand, and she waited no moment longer to take a large bite into it. Then, she began frantically blowing at the taiyaki, periodically placing her lower lip on the surface of it to test its temperature.

“You only bought one?”

Daimon did not respond. Instead, she was in deep focus, not unlike her operating room self, as if her task at hand was a life and death matter. After a few more seconds, she finally held up the paper bag towards Jounouchi, “Here, it’s just right now. Take a bite!”

Jounouchi obediently placed her hand on Daimon’s, gently pulling it towards her mouth. Then, mimicking her lover —— albeit as hard as she tries, she cannot open her mouth like a hippo —— she takes a large bite. She was right. The temperature was perfect.

And the taiyaki today was exceptionally sweet.

“Thank you, Daimon-san,” she mumbled, with much tenderness in her voice.

However, someone is not particularly attuned to being romantic, exclaiming, “Eh! I’m still hungry!”

Jounouchi laughed heartily.

As a seasoned anaesthesiologist, Jounouchi has seen her fair share of assorted patients: from the calmest of Zen gurus, to the nervous Type As who insist on always being in control. As a typical coping mechanism, many patients would try to tell a joke to ease the tension in the room, but none of them can make her smile and laugh the way Daimon does. Not even close.

She gazed affectionally at Daimon, before playfully poking her belly, “Of course you’re hungry! This right here is the definition of ‘bottomless pit’!”

“Hey! I can cook dinner for you, how about that?” Daimon suddenly suggested.

“Wait, what? Come again? Cook? You?” Both “cook” and “you” are still pretty much incongruent.

Despite feeling rather embarrassed, Daimon was too ecstatic about her suggestion, continuing to elaborate, “Cup noodles?”

“And pairing it with some seasonal beer?”

“Ah! Fantastic! Shall we head to the convenience store?”


Now Jounouchi was leading the way, tugging Daimon on the wrist.

This unassuming Valentine’s Day celebration, is so uniquely them, so uniquely romantic.

Perfect. Just perfect.

“Hey, Dr Jounouchi…”

“Yes? What’s the matter?”

“You know, everyday that I get to spend performing surgeries with you is like Valentine’s Day to me. Today is nothing special.”

Jounouchi blushed, then smiled bashfully.

Guess Daimon actually is pretty attuned to being romantic!