Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
The sound of Ruarc's tapping foot reverberated around the square in which he stood. It wasn't because he was waiting, or because he was annoyed, it was in fact due to him feeling incredibly nervous. For one, he was practically wearing a suit, at least by his standards it was a suit, and constricting clothing always made the Irishman feel claustrophobic. The main reason though was that he was expecting Raiko to arrive any minute for the date that he had invited her on, and by some odd logic decided to be one hour early and to arrive separately. It also did not help that it was Christmas Eve, couples were everywhere, and he felt a lot of pressure in making sure this was a night Raiko would remember. He wanted to prove to her, or maybe more to himself, that he was not just a simple country boy, and he could stand by Raiko without feeling out of place. Adjusting the collar on his button up shirt, Ruarc felt somewhat warm despite the brisk winter air and the jacket he wore.
"Any minute now," Ruarc said to himself as he braced his back against a light pole. "Gotta do this right."
Despite Ruarc's long wait, Raiko ended up arriving about ten minutes before their designated meeting time. The familiar black Limousine with its still somehow mysterious driver pulled up to the square's curb, and the Shrinemaiden exited the vehicle, wearing a rather nice Kimono, which was red with white and green accents, with small, multicolored sparkles on it to emulate the lights of a Christmas tree. The fabric itself had a bit of shimmer, and it shone in the bright city lights. Raiko was wearing simple make-up, and had her hair tied up in a neat bun at the back of her head.
As the Limousine drove off, Raiko began to look around for Ruarc, figuring he had arrived early, considering just how long ago he had left his cottage.
Having a good view of most of the square, and knowing the general direction Raiko would be coming from, Ruarc easily saw as her limo pulled up and dropped her off. Butterflies instantly began fluttering in the Irishman's stomach, but taking a deep breath he settled himself and reformed his posture as he pushed himself away from the pole he was leaning against before making his way over to the shrinemaiden.
"Raiko! Uh, glad you could make it," Ruarc called to her as he got close. Once he was close enough to hug her, he was able to fully appreciate how she looked. She was absolutely beautiful, even more so than normal, and he felt as though he should have dressed up more. Recovering from his brief stupified state, he reached out and gave her a hug. "You look amazing Raiko."
Raiko smiled as Ruarc hugged her, to his eyes, she would be absolutely glowing. "I'm glad you're here already, it might have been a bit odd for me to stand around for a while dressed like this!' she joked, taking Ruarc's hand. She seemed to notice both his discomfort at wearing the semi-formal clothes, as well as his nervousness at not quite looking up to snuff with his date.
"You know, I think it would be nice if we could get you some traditional Druid dress robes for occasions like this. Sound good to you?" Raiko looked up at the bespectacled druid, seeking his answer.
Giving his own smile in return, Ruarc gently held her hand in his; his hands giving off a comforting warmth in the cold air. "Of course I am here, I would never leave you just standing around," he said in return before contemplating her suggestion. Formal druid robes were an interesting thing indeed with a lot more ornate edging and folds than basic robes, but even among high ranking members of the Order it was rare to see the robes being worn outside of functions hosted by one of the Order's branches. To that end, Ruarc could not really see himself walking around wearing one, although the more he thought about it the more he could see similarities between the formal robes and a Japanese yukata.
"Well, I suppose I am not entirely against the idea, though formal clothing and me have never really gone together," Ruarc replied as he began to walk, leading his girlfriend along a predetermined path he had set earlier. "Though I suppose I'd feel a bit more comfortable in a set of robes than in a button up."
Raiko pulled herself closer in to Ruarc's arm, laughing softly at Ruarc's remark about not getting along with formal clothing. "Well, I think you would look fabulous, and, it would show off your heritage," She commented, winking at the Irishman. She then looked ahead, trying to discern where they were going. "So, what Restaurant were you taking me to again? or is it something else?"
Grinning, Ruarc may have been feeling nervous earlier, but he was plenty confident in his planning. He did in fact have a restaurant in mind, one that required him to make his reservation a week in advance, and one that would likely eat up a fair amount of what he had been paid in the past two months. It was ritzy, it was extravagant, supposedly the food was top notch, and Ruarc was certain that he would get major boyfriend points for setting it up.
"I do have a little place in mind," Ruarc told Raiko. After a little more walking, the couple arrived at a high rise building covered in mirrored windows, and with a confident stride he led his date through the front doors and up an elevator that let out on a floor designed like a Japanese garden. With tori gates and koi ponds and tables dispersed among the splendor.
As they arrived at their destination, Raiko was awed by the splendour. It was quite a restaurant, which looked like one of the nicest gardens she'd been to. Everything was perfect, and pristine, all taken care of and placed perfectly so that it held its maximum beauty potential. "It certainly reminds me of the shrine, though I don't think the Shrine ever looked this perfect..." She observed.
Ruarc's chin was held high and his chest puffed out as he could tell that Raiko was surprised and impressed. So far, so good. Approaching the hostess, the Irishman went to claim his reservation and a table for two, but when he made the claim he could feel as the woman looked him over with a judgmental eye. "There it is again," Ruarc thought as some of his posture faded.
"I am sorry, Sir, but I do not see your reservation on the list," the woman said as she scanned her appointment book.
"What?! That can't be right, I called in a week ago!" Ruarc exclaimed in response. "Did I make it under Flynn instead of Ruarc?" The hostess checked again, but once more she shook her head. "Well are there any tables I could claim anyway?"
"I am sorry, Sir, but our tables book weeks in advance. Especially around Christmas," she told him.
"I know they do! That is why I booked one a week ago!" Ruarc said, his voice beginning to rise as he felt irritated and panicked.
"I am sorry, Sir, but there is nothing else I can do for you."
With that, Ruarc walked away from the reservation desk and scratched his head in frustraion, no sure what to tell Raiko.
Raiko could see Ruarc's confised, defeated posture as he returned to her, having been unable to get them a table. "Well, you can't win every time" She said, in an attempt to console him. "Hey, why don't I pick somewhere instead! I know just the place, and I'm sure you'll like it. Besides, it was nice just to come up here and see tha garden, but I think we could have more fun somewhere else, no?"
Knowing she was trying to help didn't make the feeling of Ruarc's defeat any less embarrassing to him. All his work and preparation was all for nothing it seemed. Taking a deep breath, Ruarc caught himself and repsyched himself up. The night was still young, and it did not need to end in failure. Even if it killed him, the Irishman wanted to make sure Raiko enjoyed herself.
"You're right, Raiko! The garden was the main reason I definitely made a reservation here, so now that we have seen it the food is a moot point," Ruarc said as he set himself back up, and taking her hand once more. "So where is this other place? I'll follow you."
Raiko didn't waste time talking, and dragged Ruarc past the elevator, and down the stairs. despite her outfit, and composure, and the fact that she was wearing those odd wooden platform shoes, she managed to pull the irishman down the stairs at quite a clip, without slipping or falling. Soon, they had arrived on the ground floor, through the lobby, and onto the street, and Raiko, though panting slightly, was giggling, seeming to enjoy the bit of a run and the look of confusion on her Boyfriend's face.
She continued along the street, this time at a slower pace, until she found an intersection that seemed to be her goal, and they crossed the street at the light, stopping next to... A traditional ramen cart, with a built in bar and stools, and one of those short curtains that gave patrons a bit of privacy. They seemed to be in luck, as two seats next to one another were available. "Ahh~Ha! This is the one, definitely it. The best cart in all of Japan. And you can trust me on this one." Raiko winked again, and then pulled the Irishman under the curtain, and set herself up on a stool. "Two please!" she asked a disinterested looking cook, who immediately began to make up the meals.
Ruarc was not quite sure how to feel. The cart was definitely more the style he would naturally prefer to eat at, but it was a long shot from the grandiose plans that he had originally intended. Dejected but determined, Ruarc joined Raiko at the bar and waited for his food.
"I'm sorry," Ruarc said after a few moments of silence.
"For what?" Raiko asked, seeming confused. She looked at the Dejected druid as the familiar dull clank of ramen bowls hitting a wooden counter could be heard, with the delivery of their meals.
"I had a whole plan set up for tonight," Ruarc started as he looked down at his food. "But it kinda fell through I guess. Heh, so much for impressing you tonight."
Raiko chuckled, seeming amused by Ruarc. "Honey, you don't have to do anything to impress me. You don't have to take me to fancy places, or buy me expensive things, or any of that." She leaned over, and kissed him on the cheek. "All you need is to be you. I've had everything else, all the money and clothes and fancy restaurants and everything else in the world, and I don't care what I do, so long as it's with you. Got it?"
"Yeah, but that's just it. You are so well off, and I am just a guy from a farming town in rural Ireland. I am nothing to write home about, and yet somehow I managed to attract your interest. I suppose I am just scared of losing it is all," Ruarc replied, taking comfort in the kiss she had given him. "I guess I just worry that I am boring, so I tried to be more interesting."
Ruarc heard a snap as Raiko pulled her Chopsticks apart, saying a small blessing to herself before looking back at the irishman. "Oh, don't worry, I wouldn't have bothered if you were boring!" she joked, smiling at him again. "I like you for you. You're genuine. You aren't trying to be someone else. You know who you are and how to be you. That's what I like." She looked down at her bowl of ramen, seeming lost in throught, or perhaps just smelling the wonderful aroma that was wafting from the ceramic container's contents. Ruarc could smell it too, and he could tell it was more than just your normal Ramen, better than anything he had ever smelled before.
Accepting what was said, Ruarc began to dig in to his bowl of ramen as he thought about everything, and thankfully the delicious ramen helped lighten his mood and make him feel better. Then, once the end of the bowl was in sight, the Irishman figured he had every thought in place. Finishing off the bowl, he pushed it back on the counter, he relaxed in his stool and gave a sigh. "Thanks Raiko."
She smiled softly in return, sighing contentedly. "It's my pleasure" she replied, still working on her bowl of Ramen. She ate in silence for a moment, seeming to relish in the flavor of the soup which Ruarc had just wolfed down. "Sometimes, just getting to basics, can be the best of things. And finding some place that does the basics better than anyone else? well... That's rare."
"Hey Raiko," Ruarc said as he called her attention over to him.
He caught her mid-slurp, but she quickly downed the offending noodle, and swallowed, dabbing her chin and lips with a napkin. "Yes?" she asked, looking Ruarc in the eyes.
Leaning over, Ruarc gave Raiko a kiss on the lips. After lingering for a few moments, he sat back. "Like I said, thanks." Then, reaching in to the pockets of his coat he pulled out a small, rectangular box wrapped in simple red paper and sat it by Raiko on the bar top.
Raiko's eyes widened a bit in surprise at the kiss, but they slowly closed themselves as Ruarc lingered, relishing in the sensation of his lips on hers. When he pulled away, she was mildly surprised yet again as he pulled out a small red box for her. "You're... quite welcome..." she responded, blinking a couple of times as she took the box and inspected it. "I can open it?" she asked, curious.
"Of course ya can," Ruarc said, his voice was warm as he rested his arms on the bar. Inside of the box, Raiko would find a charm necklace unlike one she would find anywhere in Japan, and the reason for this was that it was made in Ireland by one of the men who lived in the same town Ruarc did. It was crafted out of silver mined locally, and it was crafted in the shape of an eight point star and set into the center was an Irish emerald. With a curious look, Ruarc wondered what Raiko would think of it.
The Japanese girl picked up the necklace and held it up, spreading the chain out in her fingers. She examined the emerald, and the fine craftsmanship of the star charm as well as the handmade chain. it was quite beautiful, and certainly not something one could find in any of Japan's shopping districts. "Why... It's beautiful..." she muttered, taking it in for a moment before slipping the chain around her neck. "I love it." she told Ruarc, slipping her arms around his neck and bringing him close for a squeezing hug and another kiss.
Touching his forehead to hers after the kiss, he smiled once more. "Glad you like it, and ya know, I didn't spend a dime on it."
She burst into laughter, at that. pulling back and starting into a fit of laughter, Raiko probably completely and utterly confused the already partially bewildered irishman. after a few moments of regaining herself, she responded to him, fighting through more giggles. "ahaha... Yes, that is indeed the way to a girl's heart, telling them how much of a cheapskate you are!" she laughed a few more times, giving Ruarc another kiss afterward. She shook her head a few times, wiping a tear of laughter from the corner of her eye.
"Oh, Ruarc, I hope you always stay you. I wouldn't have it any other way." She smiled, and from her robes she also produced something. It was an oddly shaped bundle, the wrappings made from old, dyed newspaper, and it was tied up with simple bow. she held it up for the irishman to take. "This is for you. Or, well, it's really for Laoise, but I think you'll appreciate it, nonetheless. For you alone, I have something else in mind."
Ruarc's mouth moved as he tried to form words, but all that came out was stammering as he tried to figure out what he did. The best he could manage was to figure it having to do with Raiko poking fun, and simply shut his mouth. Then when Raiko produced her own gift for him, Ruarc set the matter aside. A hint of excitement crossed his face, which promptly faded when it was intended for Laoise, but then was back when she mentioned another gift.
"For Laoise, huh? I'm sure she really appreciate that," Ruarc said as he grabbed the gift and began to inspect it. "Though, what's this about something else for me?"
"Ah~! that's a secret. you'll find out later" Raiko teased, encouraging him to open the present she had given him right now. "I think you'll like it too, though I can never be sure. it's very special, as well, and took more than a little bit of bribing Mealla to acquire."
"Mealla, huh?" Ruarc repeated as he thought about Mealla and her love of meddling. Without pressing it further, the young man proceded to open the gift. It was a small amulet shaped like a convex shield, which was held on a string. It was odd, as the string was small, obviously sized for something roughly as large as a dove or pigeon. Ruarc's eye could, however, tell that it was inherently magical. It gave off an aura of change, but, for some reason, Ruarc didn't seem to be able to activate any of its properties if he tried.
Cocking his head slightly, Ruarc inspected the item but could only vaguely begin to discern its purpose. "So, uh, what's it do?"
"It allows your guide to experience humanity" Raiko answered, somewhat mystically. "That is, they can take on human form, so long as they have this amulet with them. And don't worry, it won't choke her, obviously. Though, I would suggest giving it to her and then leaving the room." Raiko smirked a bit. "I'll have to let her borrow some of my clothes, if she fits."
Showing a contemplative face as Raiko explained the purpose of the item, Ruarc accepted her words without question. "That's... interesting, I suppose. Definitely novel," he said as he looked at the amulet closer. "Hey Raiko, I never actually asked, but how the Hell do you know Mealla? And why are you on good enough terms with my boss to ask for something like this?"
"You'll have to take that up with the top" Raiko responded, grinning. "As for asking, didn't I tell you I had to bribe her?" She picked up the charm on her necklace again, examining it in the light. "There are many things you do not know, young Keeper. Some day, I'll be able to tell you. But, for now, let's just stick to you being you, and me being me, alright?"
"Heh, alright, fine by me," Ruarc said as he dismissed his question. "So, mind if I ask what you got for me again?"
Raiko stuffed a few bills of paper money onto the counter which Ruarc promptly replaced with his own money, and pulled Ruarc out from behind the cart's curtain. There, at the curb, was her Limousine, waiting for them. "Well, I really wanted you to be able to try it out immediately so we'll have to go back to the estate," she hinted, waiting for her gentleman to open the door for her.
Taking the hint, Ruarc opened the limo door and gestured for Raiko to enter, after whom he entered as well. Sitting down in his seat, he pouted slightly as he needed to wait longer for his own gift.
The ride thankfully wasn't long, as somehow the Limousine seemed to travel faster than Japan's rather promt light rail system. Soon, the overgrown walls could be seen and the gates were opening, and within moments, they had arrived at the top of the drive, and had extricated themselves from the car.
"I had intended to give it to you tomorrow..." Raiko began, pulling Ruarc toward the front door earnestly, "But I figure I might as well give it to you now, since you did give me this~" She brushed the necklace, which she apparently adored "And I figured I might as well."
"Well alright then," Ruarc said as he felt excited again. Sure it may have been selfish, but the way he saw it was that this night was for him to spend time with Raiko; so Laoise could wait until their night was finished. For a moment Ruarc's mind did wander into the gutter, but he quickly retrained his thoughts; knowing full well that Raiko was not like that. And that she was only sixteen.
When they went inside, Ruarc could see that the house was decorated in the traditional western style of Christmas decoration, tree and all, though Ruarc could not recall when the decorations had been hung, or when the tree had gotten there. Beneath the tree were a number of packages addressed to several people, which it was assumed would be distributed the next day. However, there were several bulging packages with Ruarc's name on them, all of which gave a bit when prodded, suggesting something soft was inside.
With a whistle of appreciation, Ruarc gazed around at the extravagant decorations adorning the mansion. While a bit more high brow than his Christmases in Ireland, it all felt comfortably familiar. Then upon inspecting the tree and its gifts he was surprised to find that he had garnered more than one, and he was rather confused when he picked one up to find that it compressed in his hands.
"So, uh, any particular one I should open?" Ruarc asked as he wasn't sure where to start.
"That one should be fine" Raiko confirmed, finding herself a seat and sitting down to watch Ruarc open his gifts.
The first package he opened contained a Kimono, which was sized perfectly for the tall druid. It was in a subdued green color, and made of silk, but instead of the more traditional Japanese floral patters, it was adorned with celtic runes, and depictions of Irish landscape. A second package produced a Yukata, similarly hued and adorned, for summer wear. The other packages included all the traditional undergarments, and even several pair of Tabi socks and a pair of Geta similar to those worn by Raiko, though instead of being painted red, they were left unpainted and stained a more natural tone.
Ruarc's mouth gaped slightly as he inspected his gifts. They were wonderfully crafted, and while being far from burlap or denim he felt an appreciation for the gifts and anticipated trying them on.
"Well, now instead of standing out next to you I can blend right in," Ruarc said with a smile. "I reckon we'll make quite the handsome couple with the both of us supped up in kimonos."
Raiko smiled, glad Ruarc liked her gifts. "Now!" she began, getting up from her chair, seeming excited, "I wanna see what you look like in the Kimono! You can use the powder room down the hallway to change. if you need any help, just call, and I'll come help if you're decent."
Agreeing, Ruarc made his way to the changing room and began the process. Almost immediately realizing he did not actually know quite what he was doing, like at all. Getting to the point of decency he went to the door to call out.
"Does wearing the undergarments count as being decent? Because they are about all I figured out on my own," Ruarc said as he asked for help.
Ruarc could hear giggling from down the hallway. "The robe part of it is like a big t-shirt. Just slip it over your head and stuff your arms through the sleeves. I can help you after that!" Raiko instructed from a safe distance. she seemed to be rather amused by the Druid's troubles. Following her instructions, Ruarc got to the point of wearing the robe, and the underwear was covered.
"Alright, Should be good now. So care to lend a hand Ms. Giggles?" Ruarc called out once more.
"Hehehe. Of course. I take full responsibility." Raiko soon arrived, tapping lightly on the door before coming in, and getting to work quite quickly. She wrapped her hands around Ruarc's midsection, folding the Kimono in the proper manner, before taking the sash and tying it around his waist. "Is this too tight, or is it good? she asked, tugging gently on the sash to make sure it was at a comfortable tension for the Irishman.
"Nah nah, feels just fine," Ruarc replied as he watched with a look of amazement as Raiko worked. "You're amazing, you know that?"
"Nonsense," she countered, turning the Druid to face her so she could inspect her handiwork. She took a few steps back and placed a thumb and forefinger on her chin, scrutinizing Ruarc's outfit. After a few moments, she seemed to decide that she was satisfied as she broke into a smile.
"You look great. I had thought something like this would be more fitting for you than the standard stuff, and, I was right." She approached him once more, spinning him around again to face the Mirror so he could see himself more clearly.
"You have a discerning eye, Raiko," Ruarc said as he adjusted his stance to change his view. "I look pretty good if I do say so myself." Striking a pose, he gave Raiko a cocky smile.
"So, I know this night didn't exactly start out the best," Ruarc said as he dropped his chin somewhat. "But I'd say it turned out pretty good. Wouldn't you?"
Raiko sighed, wrapping her arms around Ruarc in a warm embrace, as she poked her head out from behind his shoulders to look in the mirror as well. "Yes, I do believe it ended up nicely. I couldn't have asked for more."