"I think it's better for Jesse to stay here in the car with me. The four of you could easily carry Juri, anyway." Kochi said as he parked the car in front of Juri's house.
"Eh! I don't want to!" Jesse protested in a loud voice and was shushed by everyone in the car. He jokingly put a finger in front of his mouth and snickered. "But why should I stay in the car? It's obvious I am the best choice to carry Juri without waking him up."
"It is also obvious that you're the best choice to accidentally wake him up with your loud uncontrollable laughing when you're excited." Shintaro bluntly said while playfully tapping Jesse's shoulder.
Jesse protested in his seat, crossed his arms, and pouted.
"You'll most probably spoil the surprise too so it's better to keep your distance." Hokuto said before the three of them, Taiga and Shintaro, got out of the car.
Jesse watched them as they went inside the house then looked back at Kochi with his saddest puppy dog eyes he could pull off. Kochi patted him lovingly to comfort him a little.
Juri's mother welcomed them inside the house and the three boys bowed in respect before Taiga and Hokuto changed into indoor slippers, Shintaro waited by the door as they needed someone to take him from the front door to the car fast. They snickered excitedly before Taiga and Hokuto headed for Juri's room.
Sora ran towards Taiga excitedly and Taiga could not help but pet and play with him a little while Juri's mom carefully opened Juri's bedroom door.
"Oi! Taiga." Hokuto whispered. "Enough playtime. Let's go." He pointed towards Juri's room.
As expected, even with them wearing their coats, they felt how cold Juri's room was. The blinds were still closed and Juri was still buried in his blanket sleeping soundly. The two boys walked gently towards Juri's bed. Taiga waived his hand around in front of Juri, no movement from him apart from his breathing. Gently, Taiga put on an eye mask on Juri and lifted him off his bed to Hokuto's waiting arms. Still no movement from Jesse, even when Hokuto passed him over to Shintaro.
"Mission accom - "
Kochi hurriedly put a hand over Jesse's mouth to stop his loud announcement of their mission being a success once Juri and the rest were already inside the car.
Juri felt someone hugging him and he quickly sat up on the bed and opened his eyes but everything was jet black. He panicked a little until his hand reached his face only to find out he was wearing an eye mask he doesn't remember putting on before sleeping. His eyes widened at the unfamiliar sight that greeted him, he was not in his room.
Taiga stretched out his body before sitting up on the bed. "You're awake. Good morning!" He yawned. His eyes were still half opened when he was reaching around for the party poppers on his nightstand.
Juri had both his hands on his face trying to make sense if he was awake or if he was dreaming and why the heck he was in a bed with Taiga in what could possibly be Taiga's room. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Taiga's party poppers.
"Happy birthday!" Taiga shouted as loud as he could.
Juri fell off the bed from the shock. "Can you at least give me some time to process things?" He complained. "Am I in your room? Am I awake?"
Taiga sat with his legs supporting him on the bed and nodded.
"Which one of my questions are you nodding yes to?"
Taiga simply nodded again and smiled at him. Juri let out a deep sigh and sat on the end of the bed.
"You must be hungry! Let's go to the kitchen and get you some of your favorite food." Taiga excitedly pulled him out of the bed and dragged Juri out of his room.
Juri remembered how good Taiga's mother's shrimp tempura was and he was excited that he might get a chance to eat them again today. When they got to the kitchen no one was there and there was no food on the table. Disappointment was evident in Juri's face as he lifelessly sat down on the chair.
Taiga opened the refrigerator. "Ah here they are! My mom's shrimp tempura!" He excitedly said as he took out a platter out of the refrigerator.
Juri was already smiling, excited from the thought of eating tempura but his smile slowly faded away as Taiga placed down the platter of uncooked tempura. On top of it was a note for Taiga, it said that no one else is at home so he could either cook the premade tempura or order delivery.
Taiga took out a pan from one of the cupboards and started heating oil to fry the tempura.
"Go and sit. I'll cook." Juri said as he tried to take the tong from Taiga's hand.
Taiga pulled the tong away from Juri. "No, it's your birthday. Allow me to cook for you. Go watch anime on the tv and let me handle things here." He said as if he was talking to a toddler and patted Juri's head.
Juri was a little hesitant to leave Taiga alone cooking but Taiga's energy was too much to handle as he just woke up while Taiga kept on clicking the tongs to make Juri walk towards the living room. Juri thought it might be alright since Taiga's mom had already pre-made them and the only thing left for Taiga to do was fry them, he can't possibly mess that up.
A few minutes into waiting and Juri was already terribly mistaken that everything would turn out okay as he already smelled something burning from the kitchen. He hurriedly headed for the kitchen while still being careful not to mess anything up in the Kyomoto's spot-free household.
"What happened?" Juri said while covering his nose with his hand as smoked has covered the kitchen.
Taiga was coughing continuously as he was taking some tempura out of the oil. On the table was a plate full of burnt tempura spread across a white plate.
"Your tempura's ready!" Taiga announced happily while clapping as if everything was perfectly okay. He handed Juri a chopstick and waited eagerly for Juri to take the first bite.
Juri nervously picked one up and it crumbled as it was being raised. He swallowed a lump that had formed in his throat, unsure of whether or not it was safe to eat it but beside him was a really hopeful Taiga. He chuckled nervously before taking the first bite...it was the polar opposite of how Taiga's mom's tempura tasted. Juri forced a smile and nodded while raising his thumb up at Taiga.
"Eat up a lot, okay?" Taiga said as he placed a bowl of miso soup in front of Juri.
Fortunately, the taste of the soup was so divine it somehow made up for the drastic disaster that Taiga fried. After they ate, Taiga stood up and left the kitchen. Juri was too shy to even leave a spot at the table as everything around him was in perfect order he ended up cleaning everything that Taiga used for their meal.
Taiga was at the living room waiting for Juri, surrounded by various art materials and some sketchpads. He was so focused on drawing something that Juri was careful as he sat down on the sofa beside Taiga, peeking at what he was drawing he laughed a little when he saw that Taiga was drawing penguins around a castle.
"Look" Taiga proudly turned the sketchbook to show Juri his work. "I'm making a penguin themed storybook for you!" He said before going back to sketching.
"As much as I don't want to leave the young master alone because he might end up blowing up the house with his cooking, my mother might have prepared a proper birthday meal for me. And I don't have my phone with me."
Juri stood up from the sofa but Taiga grabbed his shirt, looking really lonely as if he was a child saying goodbye to his parent on the first day of school that Juri could not help but sigh and sit right back on the sofa.
Taiga let him go and smiled as he went back to drawing. "Your mom knows you're keeping me company for a little while."
Juri turned on the television and watched anime on the television while Taiga was working quietly beside him.
"Ne, Juri, could you go get me some juice? I'm getting a little thirsty."
Juri looked at him with an are-you-serious expression on his face but Taiga just calmly smiled at him and he could not complain anymore and simply went back to the kitchen. He grabbed two juice boxes from the refrigerator and headed back to the living room. Taiga looked disappointed when he handed him the juice box.
"What? Did you want a different flavor?" Juri said while he still stood up.
Taiga shook his head and put down the juice box on the center table. "I wanted fresh juice. You could make some using the fruits from the cupboards and the juicer."
Juri laughed. "You have got to be kidding me with that?"
Taiga pouted. "But I want fresh juice."
"Then go make some."
Taiga did not respond and simply looked at Juri with a sad expression on his face.
"Normally, you know, the birthday celebrant should be the one doing nothing and - "
Taiga does not seem to be listening to him and was simply looking like a child who was just rejected candy by his parents. He went back to drawing with a sad expression. "Even when I'm putting a lot of effort for your storybook."
"That I did not even ask for." Juri sat back on the sofa. He tried to ignore the pouting child beside him but even with anime playing on the television he was distracted by Taiga's once in a while sigh. "Alright, I got it. I'll go make your juice!"
"Thank you!" Taiga flashed him a smile as he left to go back to the kitchen.
Juri made fresh orange juice. He did not want to leave anything out of order so he cleaned up immediately after he was done. Taiga was really happy as he drank his juice. Taiga showed Juri what he has done so far for the penguin themed story book he was working on and even narrated how the story goes in different voice overs.
Taiga handed Juri one of the sketchbooks. "Give each drawing a name and color them however you want."
"I never imagined celebrating my birthday taking care of a young master and getting dragged in participating in making his out of this world penguin fairy tale." Juri said as he took a colored pencil and started coloring in one of the drawings.
The two of them worked with the television on and they seemed to not have noticed the time up until Taiga's phone started ringing. Jesse was calling him and he answered.
"What!" Taiga was shocked and quickly stood up. His sketchbook falling on the floor. "Okay. Okay. I'll tell him. This is bad."
"What is it?" Juri asked as Taiga put his phone in his pocket.
"Uhhmm." Taiga took a deep breath. "Do not freak out, okay?
Taiga bit his lip. "Sora… Sora's missing. He might have gotten out on his own."
"What! While I'm here getting thrown around by your whims my dog is somewhere out there!" Juri threw the sketchbook on the table.
"Calm down." Taiga said with a shaky voice. "It's okay. We'll find Sora."
"Just book a cab to my house already!" Juri was panicking.
Taiga nervously fidgeted on his phone to book them a cab. Juri was pacing back and forth in the living room and then he started getting things up in order, aligning the sketchpads together and putting the pencils back in the pouches. When their cab arrived, Juri hurried outside not noticing that he was still wearing indoor slippers. Taiga followed behind him, biting his lip to keep him from laughing and spoiling their surprise.
Taiga was very satisfied to be the one who they left Juri with. Juri rarely loses his cool and this incident is giving Taiga his fill of a mixture of worried and pissed Juri. Once they were in front of his house, Juri hurriedly went out towards his house. Taiga paid the driver and ran after Juri, not wanting to miss his reaction once they got inside.
As soon as Juri opened the door, party poppers were blasted and everyone shouted happy birthday while clapping their hands. They all looked pretty satisfied with their surprise.
"Surprise!" Taiga shouted beside him while putting an arm over Juri's shoulder. "Happy birthday!"
Juri was laughing and playfully pushed off Taiga. "Ah~! I really thought Sora went missing as a cherry on top of a disastrous birthday. You really had me" he said pointing a finger at Taiga. "And all of you" he gestured towards Kochi and the rest. "I was wondering how I got at Taiga's in the first place. I never thought you'd kidnap me and hostage me to serve this young master!"
All five of them laughed.
"What really puzzles us is how you did not even wake up as we took you from your room and drove to Taiga's place." Hokuto said and they all slow clapped before stopping.
"Let's go get you your fill of my mom's tempura." Taiga said as he pushed him towards the living room. "And other food that are much better than the one earlier."
All six of them sat around the Tanaka's dining table where all of Juri's favorite food were served and cooked perfectly. They sang happy birthday to him and let him make a wish before blowing out the candle. Sora reached over Juri's thigh and he picked him up to hug him, relieved that he did not really go missing.