Damn real: chapter 19

“So here we are! Kapnos Restaurant!” Niall beamed at her. The two were at a restaurant in U street, the site for their first date. “I love how we can’t get good Japanese food in D.C., so we settle on Greek out of the blue like this.” The accountant grinned. “Hey, it’s delicious Greek food, and that’s what matters most.” The violinist pointed out. “Touche.” She winked at him as the two walked into the dimly lit restaurant. “Hi, for how many?” The hostess, a young woman with auburn hair wearing a dark dress looked up at them. “I have a reservation for two under Niall?” “Oh, yes. Right this way.” The hostess pointed them to the direction of their table as she proceeded to lead them there. It was a small wooden table, candle lit, in the corner of the dining room. It was an intimate space, where they were secluded from the rest of the area. “Enjoy your dinner. Paige is your server. She will be right over to pour you guys some water and take your orders. Here are your menus. Have a wonderful night.” The hostess walked back to her stand in the front of the restaurant. “Have you ever been to any restaurants by Mike Isabella before?” Niall looked at her curiously. “I would honestly have no idea. I don’t really keep up with the culinary scene in D.C.” Namie sighed. “What?! But you’re in the hospitality industry! Tsk, tsk. You should know these things.” Niall shook his head jokingly. “Meh, I never handled food and beverage. That seems to be more of your department.” She pointed out, while Niall rolled his eyes at her. “Well, for your information, he owns like a ton of restaurants in the area and competed on some cooking shows. But he’s not the focus here tonight. We’re here to get to know more about each other.” He smirked, looking at her. “Well, what do you want to know? How my father is a white elitist Mormon asshat, or how he sort of extorted my Japanese mother into a green card marriage so that she could stay in America in exchange for her free will and choice of religion?” “Wow. Well, that’s a shitty childhood you’ve lived.” Niall frowned. “I’m sure you’ve lived a better one. Your parents, they’re probably not trainwrecks like mine, right?” “They’re dead.” That immediately shut Namie up.

“Alright, so I will be back with your orders.” Paige nodded, walking away. Niall and Namie had just received their drinks and placed in their orders. “So my father is Japanese and my mother is Spanish. They met in Japan while my mom was there for business. She was an artist opening a gallery in Tokyo, and he was a businessman attending the gala that was being held in her and several other artist’s honors. From there, they got married and decided to move to America to raise a family. I was born in Boston, Mass General Hospital, and so was my little sister, Kimmy.” He started. “Wait, enough of your backstory. Your parents are dead?! When did this happen?” Namie gasped, still in disbelief. That was a very awkward thing to say on a date, but at the same time, she could somewhat appreciate how upfront and truthful he was being with her. “Well, that happened over ten years ago. It was a car accident. But that’s been in the past for a while now. Don’t feel bad. I’ve been over it for a while now.” He assured her. “I’m so sorry. I must have sounded like a major bitch, complaining about my parents to you like that.” She shook her head, still feeling guilty about what she said. “It’s fine. It’s not like my parents being dead make your parents better by comparison. If they are awful people, then they’re awful people. You can’t just wave a magic wand and change that about them.” He reasoned. “And if your dad is this manipulative person from what I’m gathering, you have every right to dislike him, okay?” It was at that moment that Namie felt like it was the right choice, going on a date with Niall. He genuinely understood her. “Thank you for getting where I was coming from. And you’re right. But this date is not the place for me to complain about my asshole father, alright? We can talk more about that later. For now, I think it’s awesome that we’re both Hapa.” She giggled. “Yeah, Hapa power for the win!” He agreed as they toasted with their glasses.

“Oh my god! This place has a piano!” Walking around the city, the two stumbled upon the W D.C., which was a sister property in Namie’s company. Going inside, they noticed the large piano sitting in the almost gaudily decorated lobby. “Hmmm… well when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Niall smirked, going up to the piano. “Wait, you’re going to play it in the middle of the lobby on a Saturday night?” She raised an eyebrow skeptically. “Yeah, of course.” He chuckled, pulling up the fallboard and sitting on the bench. “Hold up, I thought you were a violoncellist. How do you know how to play the piano?” She frowned. “Because I’m just a man full of hidden talents.” He chuckled, cracking his knuckles before he started playing. It took a second for her to realize, but Niall was playing Treasure by Bruno Mars. “Treasure! That is what you are!~” He hummed while winking at her. Sitting down next to him, she was mesmerized. She had yet to actually see Niall perform, so this was just enchanting. The way he was able to effortless create such a harmonious beat, and how this music was just gliding off of the keys as he played them, she was impressed. “How did you think?” He smiled at her as he stopped playing. “Encore, encore!” Several of the guests in the lobby started cheering for him. “You’re something else, Niall.” She laughed. “Oh?” “It was incredible. Normally, I’d think that a guy serenading me publicly like that would require seven shots of vodka and an entire keg of beer, but you managed to pull it off perfectly. Consider me charmed.” She grinned at him.

“I can’t believe we’re actually able to see his first ever concert! I wonder if your man is as good as you say he is.” Claire laughed. “I’m sure if he is as good a musician as he is good-looking, you’ll be in good hands.” Wei smirked. “Sh! There is a child present!” Namie frowned, referring to Kimmy sitting next to the three. “I’m not a child! I’m 13 years old, motherfuckers!” “Kimmy! Saying curse words doesn’t make you more of an adult. If anything, it shows how immature you actually are.” Wei frowned at her, as the teen held her head in shame. “Now behave yourself or else I’m going to tell your brother everything that happens tonight.” “Okay….” Due to the level of intense respect and admiration she held for Wei, Kimmy would do anything to impress her or stay on her good side. “Good. Now let’s focus on the main reason why we’re here.” Claire smiled. They were attending Niall’s first concert as a official member of the D.C. Concert Orchestra. It was exciting to say that they actually knew one of the musicians who were playing. “Can we even see which one he is?” Claire whispered to Namie as they started playing. “Honestly… no idea. But we’re here to support him, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.” She shrugged. Despite not being able to tell where Niall was on the stage from how far back in the concert hall they were sitting, she was still enjoying the music. While she wished that she could hear just Niall playing, she knew that this was his dream, and she wanted to be supportive of him. Especially after hearing about the very incident that caused him to be left taking care of Kimmy from the young age of 14.

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Warrior Chef 3: Round 2

Lauren: @I’m walking into the kitchen feeling a lot more excited. @But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. @If I think I’m the top dog for winning one challenge, then I’m definitely going home next.

Phung: @I’m the top dog in this kitchen, and I’m definitely going to win the next elimination challenge. @There’s no way that I’m going out next.

Michele: Welcome back to the Warrior Chef kitchen! So for this creativity challenge, you’ll have to prepare a dish, any dish you want…. without a knife.

James: @Without a knife? @How do you even do that?

Taylor: @I’m just racking through my brains for anything I can make without a knife. @This is going to be hard.

Justin: @I’m ready for this challenge. @I can make pasta without a knife, so I’m pretty much set.

Michele: So you have an entire hour to prepare your dish. Your time starts now!

Phung: @Right away, I know what I can grab instead of a knife. @I grab a food processor and a cheese grater, and I’m set. @I decide on making a pumpkin pie with whipped goat cheese and candied pumpkin seeds. @I’m going with a dessert because you’re stupid to try savory without a knife.

Jaenice: @I’m going to make hushpuppies with chorizo and shredded crab meat. @I grab the pizza cutter because I need something to cut up my crab meat with, and that’s where I’m going to go. @Phung and I are good friends at this point, and I want to see the two of us in the finale together. @It’ll be great times. @The rest of them can go fuck themselves, because they’re all boring little bitches. @Especially Henry.

Taylor: @I’m going to prepare a baba ganoush, but I’m trying to figure out what the heck to make with it. @I decide to make pita bread, but I don’t know if my pita will be proofed enough by the time the challenge is over. @It’s a risk, but I need to take those if I want to keep standing out.

Lauren: I’m going to prepare Kahlua pork with macaroni salad. @It’s classic Hawaiian food, and I can make that with a pressure cooker and no knives. @I’m confident in my dish, because it’s going to set me apart, making something savory.

Cherry: @I’m stoked that this challenge means that a lot of people are going to struggle. @I’m making crab rangoons with an apricot-Sriracha sauce. @I’m making my wrappers from scratch and using a pizza cutter to portion the dough. @I’m confident that the homemade wrappers will put me on another level from everyone else.

Elizabeth: @I’m making a miso glazed black cod with tempura vegetables. @For my vegetable tempura, I’m going to only do okra, mushrooms, and broccoli, because those don’t require knives to portion out for tempura. @I’m going to sous-vide the cod, just to make sure that the flavor is really packed in there.

Gabe: @I’m making chicken tamales with a salsa verde and roasted almonds and coconut flakes. @I’m confident with the choice to top the dish with almonds and coconut flakes because that’ll add a lot of texture to my dish. @After the last challenge, I really want to win this one. @Once you’re in the top 3, you want to continue to stay there.

Justin: @I’m preparing mushroom and beef ragout with paparadelle. @I’m lucky that our pasta machines are lined with the cutters, because I don’t have a knife to cut my own noodles with, and the pizza roller, I don’t trust that around my fingers. @I know that my biggest competitors are Phung and Kira, so I need to watch myself around both of them.

Kira: @I grab the scallops, because I don’t need a knife for those. @I’m going to prepare seared scallops with semolina gnocchiette, brown butter, pea tendrils, and black garlic. @I think it’ll be a great chance for me to show a lot of technique without needing to use a single knife.

Michele: Time’s up! Step away from your dishes!

James: @I step away from my dish and I’m feeling happy. @I see what Elizabeth made and it looks like cheap takeout.

Michele: Your judge is Warrior Chef judge, Chloe Lula!

Chloe: Hi, guys! As a vegan chef, I understand how difficult it can be to work with restrictions. That being said, I’m excited to try your dishes!

Chloe and Michele taste the dishes.

Michele: So Chloe, who failed to impress you?

Chloe: Cherry, your rangoons, you didn’t drain them on a towel, so they wound up being really greasy.

Phung: @Seriously? @Everyone making fried food this season keeps forgetting to do that. @How dumb can you be?!

Chloe: Elizabeth, the dish ate really dry. It needed a sauce. And Taylor. Your dish was pretty unimpressive. I didn’t really like anything on your plate at all.

Taylor: Crap. @I reached too far and didn’t make anything good. @This sucks.

Michele: And your top three?

Chloe: Kira, you made gnocchi, seared scallops, and just showed a lot of technique. I completely forgot you were handicapped without a knife in this challenge. Phung, your pumpkin pie was phenomenal and I’m genuinely stunned by how much I loved that. And Jaenice. Your hushpuppies with chorizo, it was great. The texture was brilliant and you fried those perfectly.

Jaenice: @See, Elizabeth and Cherry? @That’s how fried food is done. @Dumb skinny Asian bitches think they know how to beat me in a deep frying battle? @Think again!

Michele: And your winner?

Chloe: The best dish belonged to…. Kira.

Michele: Congratulations, Kira! You won immunity going into the elimination challenge!

Kira: Thank you. @Winning immunity means that I can’t be sent home tonight. @I can take a lot more risks and not hold back!

Phung: @Kira’s the last person who needs immunity right now. @So long as idiots like James are in the competition, she’ll be far from in danger of going home.

Michele: So for your elimination challenge, you’ll need to get narrative. You’ll need to prepare a dish inspired by a special moment or story in your life.

Cherry: @I already know which moment appeals to me. @I’m going to win tonight’s challenge so easily.

Michele: You’ll have just one hour on the clock, your time starts now!

Lauren: @I have to tell a story through my dish tonight. @I’m just thinking about the moment I met my boyfriend, Dennis. @We were practicing kung-fu together and just clicked. @He’s Taiwanese, and I decide to make a dish inspired by our first date. @He prepared Taiwanese soup dumplings for me, and I’ll just recreate that dish, and it’ll be my story for this challenge.

James: @I want to make a dish inspired by what got me into cooking. @I’m going to prepare a baklava, which is layers of phyllo pastry with nuts, dates, and spices mashed together into a paste and stuffed in there. @I’m going to serve that with coconut ice cream. @I really wanted to make a delicious dessert to impress a Turkish girl in my class, and that’s what I presented to her. @I didn’t get the girl in the end, but I developed a love for cooking from it.

Justin: @When I think about stories, I remember my grandma’s journey from Italy to New York. @Transitioning to life in Brooklyn was tough on her, and the only real comfort she found was making burrata cheese. @I’m making Grandma Angela’s burrata with tapenade crostini and pork crackling. @It’ll be simple but really well executed. @Just making the burrata from scratch should show a lot of technique.

Elizabeth: @I’m making a gluten-free and vegan chocolate-pumpkin bread that is inspired by my best friend, Casey, who can’t have eggs or gluten. @Casey was the person who sent in my Warrior Chef application, so I really want to win this challenge for her and show how our friendship can take me to the end of the competition.

Cherry: @I’m going to make my story based on the first time I had pot. @It was a delicious brownie. @I’m making a matcha-white chocolate blondie with matcha crumble and matcha ice cream. @I want to have two baked components on the plate, because they need to be baked. @Yes. @Very baked. @So fucking baked.

Kira: @I’m trying to dig deep and think about my childhood. @Growing up in San Francisco, we had good seafood. @I want to make a cioppino but with coconut milk, lemongrass, and chilies instead of the tomato and white wine. @It’s a fusion of my Asian heritage and my upbringing, and that should be an interesting story to tell.

Jaenice: @I love Korean soul fusion. @I’m going to make spicy chicken wings with kimchi-red bean butter and misugaru waffles. @If that does not tell you right away that I am a black woman who eats Korean food, then I really don’t know what else would. @I’m going to win tonight’s challenge with my story, for sure.

Phung: @I’m going to make a banh mi, but make the bread from scratch. @I only have an hour, but I’m going to go with a yeast based dough, because why not? @It’s going to have pate, my favorite, lime cured beef, and lots of chilies and herbs. @I’m looking forward to serving this to the judges, because they won’t be expecting this in just an hour, but I will deliver.

Taylor: @I wanted to do something with hapuku fish, but we don’t have that in the pantry, so I grab the cod instead. @I’m going to prepare oven roasted cod with beetroot chips and an olive hummus with tomatoes. @I’m feeling really good about this dish, because it’s mostly Greek, and it’s something that my parents would make for me all the time growing up.

Gabe: @Right now, Kira and Phung are the two best cooks in the competition. @I want to make sure that I can knock at least Phung out by the end of this challenge. @For my story, I’m going to talk about the time I did peyote in the dessert. @I’m making a chayote squash and cactus pear spring roll with jalapeno crumble and a lime-cilantro dipping sauce. @I think that making spring rolls will set me apart and show a lot more innovation in the challenge.

Henry: @I’m making poutine, because that’s what my grandma, Bella, would make for me all of the time whenever I would visit her in Montreal. @For my poutine topping, it’s a duck gravy with duck confit and some homemade cheese curds, that I’ll pickle for some extra tang and flavor. @When I see the other competitors, I’m just thinking about which one of them will be going home next. @I’m not too threatened, because it’s still early in the competition.

Michele: Time’s up! Step away from your dishes!

Gabe: @I don’t feel too confident with the spring rolls, but I see Elizabeth made yet another gluten-free chocolate cake. @She’s so going home tonight.

Cherry: @I think I nailed it. @Matcha domination, right?

Michele: So your judges are:

Miriam Adjanti

Guy Flannigan

Lotte Amazo

Michele: First are the dishes by Kira, Jaenice, and Justin!

Kira: So for my dish tonight, I have an Asian riff on a cioppino. I’m Filipino, but I was raised in San Francisco, so my dish embodies both my heritage through my choice of ingredients, but also the city I was raised in, by being an iconic San Franciscan dish. The seafood just reminds me of the beaches in both California and the Philippines.

Jaenice: I’m a black woman, and I love Korean food. I combined both of those and created a Korean fried chicken with kimchi-red bean butter, and misugaru waffles. I’m bringing to you guys the Soul in Seoul.

Justin: This dish is inspired by my grandma Angela. She always would make burrata cheese from scratch, so I did the same. My dish is fresh burrata cheese with tapenade crostini and pork crackling. I did the pork crackling as well because we would always have porcetta at the dinner table, and my grandma was the heart of my family.

Miriam: Kira’s Asian cioppino was delicious. I think her story-telling wasn’t terrible, but she could have sold her dish a lot more. That being said, the dish was faultless!

Guy: Jaenice’s story very bizarre. But she fried that chicken beautifully and I loved her waffle a lot. The one thing I didn’t appreciate was that kimchi-red bean butter. I don’t know what she was hoping to accomplish with it, but it was putrid.

Lotte: Justin had the best story out of the three of them. But in terms of the actual dish, his burrata was bland, and the cracklings were soggy. And what’s left of his dish? Just a piece of toast with tapenade. What could have showed skill, he fell flat on.

Michele: And next we have the dishes by Lauren, James, and Phung!

Lauren: So my dish is inspired by my first date with my boyfriend, Dennis. He is Taiwanese, and he took me to try Taiwanese soup dumplings, which were absolutely phenomenal. So I prepared exactly those with black vinegar and ginger for you.

James: I made a baklava inspired by when I first got into cooking. I met a girl in my dance class, and she is Turkish. I wanted to impress her, so I made this dessert. I didn’t get the girl, but it made me passionate about baking.

Phung: Growing up in a Vietnamese household, we know how to make pate and we know how to cure our own meats. My mom taught me how to do use every part of the animal from a young age, so that’s what I did with my banh mi tonight. It’s a homemade baguette with beef pate, lime cured beef, and plenty of sprouts, chilies, pickled vegetables, and herbs. Enjoy.

Lotte: Lauren’s dumplings were actually really well done. I loved the juiciness and the texture of the wrapper and meat. It was a bit simple, but her story sold it for me.

Miriam: I liked James’ story, but maybe there’s a reason why his baklava didn’t win over the girl. For his dish, the phyllo was soggy and undercooked. It wasn’t pleasant.

Guy: Phung just blew me away. Her story was alright, but the fact she made her own bread in less than an hour. I’m at a genuine loss for words. That plus the fact that her sandwich was perfection. I need time to process that achievements behind executing this dish in that time frame.

Michele: Finally, the dishes by Cherry and Elizabeth.

Cherry: So I used to be a pot addict, so my dessert is inspired by pot brownies, which were a thing I used to live by. To overcome my addiction, I deferred to drinking green tea and that helped me recover. I made green tea blondie with green tea ice cream and green tea crumble. I made sure to have two baked items on the plate, just because I used to be twice-baked.

Elizabeth: I prepared a gluten-free and vegan chocolate pumpkin bread that I used to make for my friend, Casey. Casey was the one who signed me up for this competition, and I want to do her proud with this dish.

Lotte: Cherry’s story was a combination of dark and hilarious. The dish was really well-executed and the flavors balanced nicely. It was a great blondie sundae.

Miriam: Elizabeth’s dessert bread was dense and chewy, and her story sounded more like her justifying why she should win the competition.

Michele: So can we decide on our top and bottom 3?

Guy: We can.

In walks Cherry, Kira, and Phung.

Michele: Tonight…. the three of you prepared the judges favorite dishes, and one of you is going to win the elimination challenge!

Kira: @I really want to win back to back challenges. @It would be amazing to set the bar high from the get-go.

Cherry: @Wait, I’m on top? @That’s amazing! @Wow. @I didn’t expect that!

Michele: Miriam, please announce the winner!

Miriam: Two of you made phenomenal dishes, but one of you really pushed the envelope, and possibly defied the laws of proofing bread. Phung, however you managed to make that light, airy baguette in just an hour, we will never know, but you won this one.

Phung: Oh my god! @I’m top dog, bitches! @I just won my second challenge, and I’m proving why I am the one to beat. @Come at me. @I’ve either won or been on top of everything so far, and I intend to stay there.

Kira: @Phung is my biggest competition. @I don’t even know if there’s any stopping somebody like her. @She’s something else.

The top three leave. In walks James, Justin, and Elizabeth.

Michele: Tonight, one of you will be going home.

Miriam: James, your story was good, but your baklava was obviously the reason why you didn’t end up safe tonight, or winning the girl over in your story. Justin, the dish was just bland and soggy, but we liked your story about your grandmother. Elizabeth, your story sounded more like you trying to explain why we should give you the title, and your bread was just dense and gummy.

Michele: Elizabeth, please return to the kitchen and leave.

Elizabeth: Alright. @I’m feeling deflated having to pack my bags and leave this early. @I know that I had the potential to make it so much further than this, and I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to show it.

Sky Bird: Chapter 24

“So how was school today?” Mr. Skye looked at his children. It was Monday night, and they were all eating dinner together for once. “Well, I won this challenge thing in my Physics class, so I got extra credit.” Kendall started, unsure if he should mention Sophia at this point. “And we got an A in our Japanese movie project.” “Kendall, aren’t you avoiding something really important?” Megan stared at him expectantly. “Uh… well… so, everyone remembers Sophia Puckchareon, right?” Kendall’s parents and Gil nodded slowly. “What do you guys think of her?” “She’s very funny and smart.” Gil pointed out. “She’s really smart, right? You said she’s taking a lot of honors classes, and she’s on honor roll?” Mrs. Skye noted. “She’s pretty cute. I know you have a crush on Carly Ahn, but Sophia would suit you better.” Mr. Skye finished. “Well that’s good, because she’s my girlfriend now.” The room went silent. Mrs. Skye looked mortified. Mr. Skye’s face looked blank. Gil’s jaw dropped. “Wait. When? How? Why? What?” Gil babbled. “Son, I’m proud of you! Even though it took you longer than your siblings, I’m glad you finally got into the dating game!” Mr. Skye patted his eldest son on the back. “When will we get to meet her again?” Mrs. Skye looked at him, concerned. She wanted to make sure that her son was dating the right kind of person. “I’m sure you’ll see her soon enough.” Kendall smiled.

“Hey, Sophia, are you doing anything this Friday?” The brunette texted his girlfriend. He was laying in bed, getting ready for the rest of the week ahead of him. “Nothing. Did you want to go out or something?” “Yeah.” Kendall smiled to himself. He wanted to take Sophia to LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was an iconic place in LA, especially the white lamp display; it was an entire square with rows of street lamps lined up. There was something breathtakingly romantic about the sight, which was why he wanted to take here there. “Alright. Where?” She sent back. Sophia was in her own room at this moment, and she was curious what kind of places Kendall thought were date-appropriate. For her, it was a real test of Kendall’s idea of romance and its compatibility to her own. “Have you ever been to LACMA?” He sent back, grinning to himself. He knew she would love it.

“So I’ll see you tonight at 5?” It was Friday, fifth period. Sophia and Kendall were sitting together, discussing the details of their date later that night. “Yup. I’ll pick you up.” He smiled at her. “Do they really need to sit separately?” Fanny rested his head on his hands as he pouted. He was sitting with Carly, Megan, and Sharquiqui at a different table than Sophia and Kendall. “Bitch, I don’t know why you’re complaining. You get three lovely ladies all to yo’self.” Sharquiqui pointed out. “And I’m not into ladies, lovely or Yubin-like, so that’s just a wasted opportunity.” The Chinese boy rolled his eyes. “Megan, do you know where they’re going?” Carly looked at the younger girl. “I don’t, but I know that they’re meeting at 5 at my place.” She smiled mischievously. “You’re thinking what I’m thinking, right?” Fanny looked at her. “Crash their date?” She laughed, enjoying the prospect of doing that. “Yup. Chloe and I will pick up Carly and Sharquiqui, and then go to your place and we can tail Kendall’s car.” “Hold the fuck up, I will not be a part of this!” Sharquiqui frowned. “Too fried chicken?” Fanny raised an eyebrow at her. “Shut the hell up, fool. No! I have to teach another seminary at John Hopkins tomorrow, so I’m flying out tonight! But seriously, have a lot of fun. Make sure to record all of this. I will live vicariously through yo videos.” “Got it.” Fanny grinned.

It was finally 5pm. And as expected, there was a knock on the door. Kendall got up, and opened it. It was none other than Sophia, wearing a white blouse and a dark blue dress. “Wow, you look… amazing.” He trailed off. It was hard to believe that he was dating somebody who was kindhearted, smart, and beautiful. She was his perfect girl. “So this is Sophia?” Mrs. and Mr. Skye walked out and greeted the girl. “I’m Kendall’s mom.” “And I’m his brother.. no, I liked. I’m his dad.” Sophia laughed as she hugged Mrs. Skye and gave Mr. Skye a firm handshake. “Have fun, you two.” Mrs. Skye smiled. Sophia was a very polite and warm person. Just from seeing her, Mrs. Skye knew that she would be a good girlfriend to her son. “Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Skye. I will try my best to make sure that your son will be back before 12.” She promised as they left. “Mom, dad, I’m heading over to Chloe’s!” Megan chimed as she left, shortly after Kendall and Sophia were already gone. “Oh, okay. Have fun!” “Everyone’s out? Well, I guess I can play on wi-fi battles or something.” Gil grumbled, getting out his DS.

“Hurry, hurry!” Megan gasped in a hushed voice. She ran into Fanny’s car, and they started to follow Kendall’s. Carly, Chloe, Fanny, and Megan were all wearing pitch black clothes as a way to blend in. “Wouldn’t Matt and Jared want in on this?” Chloe looked to her older brother. “Eh, I’m not close to Matt and Jared is terrible at keeping secrets or staying under cover, so I didn’t want to invite either of them and potentially blow our cover.” The Chinese boy was specifically referring to how his boyfriend overcompensated with pretending to be straight, which made it very obvious that he was secretly gay. “That’s true.” Carly nodded in agreement as she took out her video camera. “I am so ready for this. They’ll thank me if they ever get married.” The Korean girl laughed. “Carly, this is why we’re besties.” Fanny smirked. “Fanny, keep going straight.” Megan was in the passengers seat, keeping track of Kendall’s car.

“Okay, we’re here.” Kendall parked behind a 99 cents store, which was the only place nearby with somewhat free parking. There were signs saying that he needed to purchase something from the store, but they just ignored that. “I can’t wait to see LACMA!” Sophia clapped her hands together excitedly. The two walked over, crossing the bustling Los Angeles traffic and making their way to the heavily illuminated square. “It’s so beautiful.” The Thai girl trailed off, awestruck. Against the dark sky was a forest of white pillars, each carrying a beacon of light. There was something inspiring about this. As if everyone’s hopes and dreams can stand together and against the darkness. The two shared an embrace. “They’re so cute together!” Carly squeaked from afar, her camera recording everything. “Sophia, thank you for always supporting me. You were always there for me, whether I knew it or not.” Kendall looked at her graciously. “Kendall, you were the first friend I made when I transferred schools. You accepted me when others did not. I will always be grateful to you for that.” She returned. The brunette leaned in and gave her a kiss.

Sky Bird: Chapter 22

“So you guys kissed?” Carly gasped. Sophia and Carly were getting brunch together on Sunday. “Yeah. It was so awkward.” Sophia put her hands on her face, embarrassed. “Oh, come on, it couldn’t have been that bad, right?” “Okay, fine. I really liked it and I thought it was sweet of him to drive all the way to my place to talk to me like that.” She confessed, putting her hands back on her lap. “So are you guys official? Or at least spoke since that night?” Carly asked before taking a sip of her tea. “Not yet. I’m really scared to.” “What’s there to be scared about?” The Korean girl raised an eyebrow. “You guys both confessed to each other. Isn’t the next step to start dating?” “I’ve never done this before, neither has he, so it’s just really awkward.” Sophia shook her head, trying not to blush. “Hmm… Well I still remember from when I used to date Damian, how he’d always take me on dates and stuff. Granted, we kissed after maybe the third date, so you guys are going in a very different direction than I did.” Carly chuckled. “Kissing before the actual dating? But I’d say just go on a couple dates with him. And if it doesn’t work out, just laugh it off and go back to being friends. Don’t let the romantic feelings make anything weird, okay?” “Alright, Carly. I’ll try. But if things go south, then what?” “Then we just cut Kendall out of our lives. Easy peasy!” She laughed.

“You didn’t talk to her since then?!” Jared and Matt looked at Kendall in disbelief. “Well…no? I’m not sure what to do.” Kendall sighed. He felt like he blew it royally. “Don’t say that. I’m sure she appreciated how straightforward you were, you know, driving to her place and talking to her in person? It shows that you’re a decent person.” Matt pointed out. “How did you and Fanny end up together again?” Kendall looked at Jared. “We started dating in the beginning of the semester. It was pretty awkward actually…” The blonde started. “Why was it awkward?” “Because it just happened for us. The first time, uh.. well… so I might have been checking him out in the locker room? He was taking off his shirt, and then I noticed his butt and how perky-” “Okay, can we please not get that much into detail?” Matt interrupted, clearly uncomfortable with Jared’s summarization of Fanny’s body. “Okay, but basically Fanny caught me checking him out. And he thought it was hilarious, because he had a feeling I was gay because I kept saying words like ‘fag’ and he had a feeling I was checking him out for quite a while.” “And?” Kendall was not quite sure where this story was going. “Well, he and I just started talking more and we started to go on dates. It was pretty thrilling at first, because it was all done in secret, but we started to realize how badly we needed to go public about it. Both of us felt like it was an itch that needed to be scratched, and that’s when we came out to you. Well, accidentally.” Jared chuckled. “But for the dates, did you guys just initiate it?” Kendall pressed, wanting to figure out how this whole concept of dating worked. “Yeah, we kept talking, and then I was like ‘let’s get dinner sometime!’ and then it happened. We kissed on the first date and everything.” The blonde laughed. “Alright, so I’ll just text her now.” Kendall sighed, pulling out his phone. “Hey, Sophia. Are you free for a meal anytime this week?” He sent. “Sure. What time?” She shot back.

“Kendall! Let’s go!” Gil tugged at his older brother’s arm. They were supposed to go to Little Tokyo to hang out together for the rest of the day. “Alright, give me a sec.” Kendall rushed to pull on his socks and shoes. “Okay, coming now!” The older brunette ran down the stairs and joined his little brother in the car. “Alright, let’s go!” The engine revved and the two left the apartment complex. “Why did you want to go to Little Tokyo again?” Kendall looked at his brother. “Mostly because I miss actual Japan.” Gil sighed. The middle schooler has been having Japan-withdrawals since spring break had ended. “Well, I’m with you on that. I miss Japan too.” He sighed. It truly was a wonderful country. And Little Tokyo would probably be the best approximation to it outside of Asia. “Hold on, I’m going to try to park.” Kendall saw a parking structure just off the Japanese Village Plaza. “Alright, and we’re parked!”

“I love this place!” Gil and Kendall were getting takoyaki from a small stand across the street from the Tokyo souvenir store. Sitting down on a bench underneath the large umbrella in the center of the plaza, the two brothers continued to snack on takoyaki while talking about life. “So for high school, Algebra 2 Honors, English 1 Honors, and Biology Honors?” Gil looked to his brother for class suggestions. “Yeah, that’s probably the best. And which sport were you thinking?” “Either football or cross country.” “Hm.. knowing you, try cross country. Megan, Chloe, and Fanny can look after you.” Kendall pointed out. “That’s true. Fanny’s on varsity so he can help.” “Yeah, I’ll try cross country, and if I don’t like that, I’ll try football or maybe even soccer?” He looked the brunette hopefully. “If you do soccer, let me know. Jared’s going to be captain next year.” “Will do!” Gil grinned.

“So what’s for dinner?” The younger Skye looked to his brother. They were still in Little Tokyo, but it was already night time. “How about Kula?” “Ooh! The revolving sushi place?” Gil’s face lit up immediately. The two made their way to the restaurant and put their names on the waiting list. While they were waiting, the brothers were admiring the array of paper lanterns that hovered over the plaza. It was breathtaking to see the white and red orbs illuminating the blue tiled roofs of the buildings nearby. This sort of view made Kendall wish he could move to Japan. Never has he felt so grateful to be part Japanese. “Oh, look, it’s our turn!” The two turned and saw the hostess calling their name. “Let’s get some sushi on our bellies!” Kendall patted his stomach jokingly. “Yup!” The two walked back over to the restaurant, and took their seats in front of the revolving sushi belt. It was so interesting, watching plates of sushi just move past them. But for some reason, Kendall just could not stop thinking about her. No matter what he tried to do to distract himself. He could only think about spending these memories with Sophia.