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Lunch for Two

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The bell rang, and Gentaro turned away from the blackboard and grinned at his class. “Alright everyone, time for lunch! Don’t forget that your assignments are due Monday!”

A chorus of “Yes, Sensei!” followed him out of the room, and Gentaro chuckled as he strolled down the hallway. All the students of New Amanogawa High were great, and he was so glad he had decided to become a teacher.

“Ahh, school life is the best!” he exclaimed, and a group of students passing him laughed and called out in agreement.

“Sensei, your girlfriend is here!” one of the third years called back to him, and Gentaro beamed and quickened his steps. He knew his relationship was the hottest topic of Amanogawa’s gossip mill, but he really didn’t mind. The students needed a positive role model to follow, right?

“Nadeshiko-chan!’ he called, entering the staff room a few minutes later. Ohsugi shot him a disapproving look, but Gentaro just gave him a grin as he went by his desk to where Nadeshiko was waiting.

“How was your morning, Nadeshiko-chan?” he asked, sitting down across from her. As always, she was dressed neatly and was sitting properly, hands folded in her lap.

“My morning was well. Tomoko-chan and I went shopping, and she taught me how to make a bento.” Gentaro leaned forward in anticipation and she retrieved a neatly-wrapped box from the floor and set it on his desk.

“Awesome! Homemade bentos are the best!” As he unwrapped the box, he asked, “How is Tomoko-chan’s new novel going?”

“She said she had ‘writer’s block’, but I did not fully understand the meaning of the phrase. What is preventing her from writing, Gen-chan?” Nadeshiko ask frowning ever so slightly. Gentaro smiled as he expression, resting his hands on the lid of the bento box as he thought about how to explain the concept to his girlfriend.

“Writer’s block isn’t a physical thing, it’s a mental thing. Tomoko-chan is having trouble coming up with a story that would appeal to her readers. It’s like there’s a mental wall between the good ideas and the rest of her brain. Man, I used to get writer’s block all the time when I had to write essays!”

A few desks away, Ohgushi snorted and muttered something about Gentaro’s grades, but Gentaro ignored him and opened the bento box instead, eager to see what Nadeshiko had made him.

A sea of black his eyes, and Gentaro stared at the variety of foods, all of them black or dark in colour. Several oval dark things were tucked next to the black rice, and he tapped one cautiously with a finger. “Those are century eggs and soy eggs,” Nadeshiko said helpfully, and Gentaro realized that his lunch was going to be very strange.

Sushi rolls made with the black rice were next, filled with blackened meat and what looked like shredded eggplant. Another eggplant dish was present in another part of the bento along with a strange mixture of blackberries and raisins, and Gentaro decided to blame Tomoko for his unusual lunch.

“Is...is that safe to eat?” one of the other teachers asked, and Gentaro raised his head, ready to defend his girlfriend.

“Tomoko-chan and I made sure it was a nutritionally-balanced meal, so Gen-chan should suffer no ill effects from eating it,” Nadeshiko replied, and he gave her a bright smile.

“It looks awesome, Nadeshiko-chan! Thanks for making it for me!” he said enthusiastically, picking up his chopsticks. “Time to eaaat!” He tried some of the rice first, and was pleased to find it cooked perfectly.

Nadeshiko bent and picked up her own bento box, opening it to reveal a similar lunch to Gentaro’s.

As they ate, they discussed things like Gentaro’s morning classes, and various things Nadeshiko had seen during her morning shopping. “Are the flavours balanced enough?” she asked after Gentaro paused partway through a large mouthful of eggplant, feeling his face turn red from the spiciness of the dish. He nodded, chewing rapidly. He could handle a little heat, no problem!

“It’s super good!” he assured her once he he had swallowed, reaching for the iced tea he kept at his desk.

“That’s good,” she replied between bites. “Tomoko-chan was worried it was too bland.”

“I’ll eat anything if it’s made by you, Nadeshiko-chan!” he exclaimed, a warmth going through him as she smiled and ducked her head.

“I will keep your favourite foods in mind for next time then, Gen-chan,” He grinned at that, deciding to dig out his grandfather’s old recipe book from storage. He was certain that Nadeshiko could make good use of them. Maybe he could even learn a thing or two, and one day make Nadeshiko’s favourite meal.

He nodded to himself, taking some rice. Yeah, he’d do that. His friends would definitely offer some advice, although contacting Yuuki might be a bit difficult, given that she was in space and all.

Finishing the last of his meal, he set down his chopsticks and pumped his first. “Alright, I’m powered up and ready for the rest of the day!”

Nadeshiko nodded along to his words as she packed up the empty bentos. “Then it’s teaching time?”

“Yeah!” Bounding to his feet, Gentaro went around his desk and kissed her on the cheek. “Thanks again for lunch, Nadeshiko-chan!”

“You are very welcome, Gen-chan. Have a good afternoon.”

“Same to you!” Glancing at the clock, he saw it was time to go, so grabbed his notes and headed for the door. “Let’s go! It’s teaching tiiiime!”