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Of Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Surprises

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Nino reached for his phone on the nightstand to check his schedule for the day. It was pretty unusual that their group message was silent since last night: no message from Aiba that resonates his energy, no weird new emoji that Ohno found to be on his phone, no last minute reminder from Jun for their filming today, and not even a message from Sho asking what food would they want delivered to their dressing room today. It was all so unusual especially since it is his birthday today and the members never forget to greet each other first thing in the morning on their birthdays.

He got up from his bed and got ready for work, a car was already waiting for him downstairs to take him to the studio for filming. Not even their manager has sent him a birthday greeting. While on the way, he sent a message to their group message but still even after a few minutes there was no reply from anyone. Even when he tried to be annoyingly narcissistic on his messages no one reacted and the messages were left on seen. Not even when he bothered them one by one, no one replied to his message. He placed back his phone inside his pocket when the car pulled over at their location, he walked down the hall to the studio with his hands inside his pocket so he could easily get his phone if ever it vibrates when a message is received.

Nino was in front of the dressing room, he was trying to compose himself and was choosing between acting like a brat that needs attention on his birthday or acting disappointed that no one paid attention to his messages. Knowing quite well how good his acting skills were he was confident he could pull off both at once.

As soon as he entered the room party poppers blasted all around him.

“Happy birthday!” The four other members shouted as loud as they could and started clapping.

Aiba’s laugh resonated around the room as Nino wiped off the confetti that was all over him with a huge smile on his face. Nino could not help but laugh from how surprised he was. Sho pushed him a little towards the center table in the dressing room to show him the food they prepared for him. At the end of the room was a birthday banner with tomatoes and cucumbers as it’s design and some banners were over the center table, again cucumbers and tomatoes were the designs of the banners.

“So,” June said as he held on to the cover that hid behind it the food that they prepared. “Here’s the meal we prepared for your birthday!” He took off the cover to reveal the food. “Here we have a hamburger with extra cucumbers and tomatoes. Next to it s a special takoyaki slathered with special tomato sauce. Care to guess what makes it special?” Jun closed his fist and placed it over Nino’s mouth pretending as though he was holding a mic.

“Hhhmmm,” Nino pretended to be deep in thought but he was laughing a little. “It’s socially filled with extra cucumbers?” He could not stop laughing and placed a hand over his mouth.

“That’s right!” Ohno started clapping.

“Somehow, I want to be touched you guys prepared all these,” Nino gestured around the room. “But why is it all tomatoes and cucumber themed?”

“Why of course we wanted to celebrate your success in finally being able to grow them!” Aiba said and covered Nino’s eyes.

“Do not forget the cherry on top of it all!” Sho announced as he brought Nino’s cake to the center table.

Everyone was snickering as it was being placed down at the center of the food they prepared. When Aiba removed his hands over Nino’s eyes, Nino could not help but laugh even more at the sight of his birthday cake. It was tomato shaped with cucumber themed candles that were shaped 37, his current age.

“So, do you like it?” Sho hopefully asked but Nino could not stop laughing he fell to his knees.

“Oh, maybe the other side could brighten up his day.” Ohno said as he turned the cake around. He helped Nino stand up from the floor. “Taaaaddddaaaa~!” Ohno said as he revealed their final surprise, a gift certificate to Nino’s favorite hobby shop was stuck at the side of the cake.

“That gift certificate replica looks so real I almost want to believe you guys got me an actual present I’d really love.” Nino was skeptical.

“But it is real.” Jun said as he took off the cake and removed the clingwrap that protected it from getting icing all over it. “Look.” He handed it over to Nino.

“Whoa~!” Nino exclaimed. “Thank you so much! Just in time for the release of that thing I have been waiting for for a while now!”

“See, his smile?” Sho commented. “Nothing makes him smile that much. Nothing makes him smile as much as when he is able to save up money.”

“Well of course, I am a man who loves money.” Nino said without taking his eyes off of the gift certificate.