The Restaurant
By: Odango Atama ^^

That night the rain had been unmerciful. The people fled Tokyo's streets, and flipped on their televisions and radios, waiting for the weatherman to forecast good news. Cart vendors huddled under their umbrellas, their ears glued to their radios, and their coats pulled tight. The local weatherman's voice somehow fought through the loud claps of thunder, only to bring more bad news to the residents of Tokyo, and surrounding areas."Worst storm in 10 years," and "Severe hazards, an angry God" he called it. The roads were barren, and all the shops closed for the night, save one. One small Restaurant at the edge of a large shopping area. It didn't even have a sign in the window, just a small, blinking, neon, "Open" sign. The rain had fogged up the glass too much to see if anyone was actually inside, although odds were that no one was. A bolt of lightning ripped through the night sky, illuminating the dark road for a split-second. Just long enough, in fact, to see a dark figure walking down the sidewalk, umbrella in hand. Just long enough, in fact, to see her expressionless face, and her hair whipping wildly around her. As she approached the glow of the restaurant, the girl turned her face away from the light and shivered. The girl stopped abruptly, just past the door, and stared into the road. Just in the past few minutes, a thick, suffocating, fog had dropped over the city, like a hot, quilted, blanket. Whatever light that had been provided by the sky was now gone, and the girl stood there at the street corner, and continued to stare. She absentmindedly raised a hand to hail a taxi, then lowered it, and pulled her coat tighter. The girl swallowed hard and turned back to the Restaurant, squinting from the sudden change of lighting. She opened her purse and rummaged around, then pulled out a small, red, coin purse. Pushing the door open with one hand, and balancing the umbrella and purse in the other, she stepped into the Restaurant and glanced around the room. The girl closed her umbrella and sat it down by the door and walked in further, searching for a customer or waiter..anyone, really. There was no bell to ring for service, nor was there a bell on the door to signify a customer. There were no logos on the walls,and even the matchbooks were blank. The walls were white, with small, framed, pictures, of various nature scenes randomly hung. A mirror hung adjacent to the register, and there was no clock to be seen. There was, in fact, no actual light fixture on the ceiling, or walls, even though the room was abnormally bright. And it seemed that the outside world didn't exist in this room. In this small Restaurant, the rain wasn't audible,there was no time, and no nuisances of the outside world to deal with. Well, none except her. She kept her coat on, and slid onto a barstool at the counter. The girl craned her neck, eager to find the name of the restaurant printed *somewhere*; A napkin, a glass, a plate.. Anything. After deciding the task wasn't as prosperous as she had imagined, she busied herself in folding and unfolding a napkin. Folding and unfolding, folding and unfolding, never letting the pattern stop. Her eyes were elsewhere however, as was her mind. She had no idea how much time she had been in the Restaurant, nor did it matter. It could have been hours, or it could have been minutes, but however long it was, she didn't care. The rain still relentlessly threw itself against the window, but it remained unheard, and unnoticed, for that matter. A sweet voice rang through the silence, causing the girl to jump in her seat.

"May I help you?" Said a young, sweet looking woman. The girl just stared.

"..May I help you?" The woman repeated.

By this time, the question had sunken in apparently, for the girl immediately asked for a menu. The waitress shook her head and smiled, her name tag flashing in the light. "Monica", it read.

"We don't have menus. We don't need them." Monica pointed out, matter-of-factly.

The girl stared again, then raised an eyebrow. Monica smiled patiently and reached under the counter, emerging with a cup and saucer in her hand.

"We only serve tea. Any flavor you name, I assure you, we have it. Every flavor under the sun! ..And above it." The waitress looked at the girl,waiting, almost demanding, for an order.

"Green-tea will be just fine, thanks." She brushed a lock of hair from her face and felt her mood lighten as Monica smiled cheerfully and poured a cup of tea. She seemed to glow, just like the room, only more welcoming.

"And don't worry about the cost.. First cup is on the house." Monica pushed the cup carefully over to the girl and wiped her hands on her apron. "If you need me, I'll be around." Monica smiled that uplifting smile again, and walked into, what appeared to be, the kitchen.

The girl stared into her tea, still very much confused about the whole conversation. She raised the cup to her lips and took a sip carefully, as not to burn her tongue. The tea, be it as it may, was more soothing than usual in some way that the girl couldn't quite place. Its taste brought old memories and feelings of her younger years rushing back into her head. She sat the cup down, awestruck, but still very much depressed about one thing or another. She wasn't quite sure, but it felt as if a chunk of her life was gone. Just missing. She stared back into her tea, and looked at her reflection. Sudden ripples broke into the picture, and the girl realized she was clutching the handle extremely tight. Letting go, she leaned onto the counter and stared back at her reflection. This time however, there was another face next to hers. Without taking her eyes off of her tea, she rubbed the bridge of her nose and sighed.

"Who are you, and why are you staring at me?" The girl continued staring at her tea.

"A friend. May I sit down?" A tall, handsome man moved next to the girl,and smiled weakly. His black hair shimmered in the light as he brushed a lock of it back behind his ears.

"Be my guest." She turned her head, breaking her gaze away from her tea,and catching a glimpse of her new 'friend'. He hadn't noticed her gaze yet, and she took the opportunity to look him over, although his head was facing away from her. He was of regular build, if not a little muscular. He wasn't too terribly tall, and his hair was just long enough to be pulled back in a loose ponytail. She took another sip of tea, and turned her attention back to the cup.

"So where's the service?" The man's voice seemed almost playful, as if he expected her to be the waitress.

The girl turned her head to answer, but found herself speechless as her eyes locked with his. His brown eyes were as still as hers, with flecks of gold around the edges. His nose turned up a little at the end, and his lips were curved in a slight smile. He also seemed to give off a radiant glow, just as the room, and Monica, had. She tried to speak again, but found it impossible. Suddenly, all of her troubles, her fears, even past joys, came flowing back into her mind, and broke the mental barrier she had built. Tears rushed to her eyes, and before she knew what was happening, the man had taken her in a warm embrace, and was whispering soothing words into her ear. She let everything go and wept into his shoulder, sobbing and hugging him, all at the same time. They stayed that way for quite sometime, unaware of the rain, unaware of the time, unaware of everything, except themselves. The more she'd cry, the tighter he'd hold her. She finally wiped her eyes, after what seemed like hours, and pulled back from his arms. The girl tilted her head and blushed a deep red.

"How.. How rude of me.. Crying all over you like that, and not even asking your name! I.. I'm truly sorry.." She wiped her eyes again and sniffled.

"Don't be sorry. I felt the same.. way.." His voice trailed off as she looked up at him and their eyes met again. "..What's your name..?"

"Rei Hino.. and yourself?" Rei smiled slightly and bit her lip.

"Greg.. Greg West. By the way, that's a charming name, Rei Hino." Greg raised his hand to her face and stroked her cheek. "*Very* charming."

"Yours isn't so bad, either.." Rei blushed a deep red and rubbed the back of her neck. "I mean, it's.. perfect.."

"Would you mind if I kissed you, Rei?" Greg smiled.

"I thought you'd never ask, Greg.." Rei smiled and closed her eyes as they both lost themselves in each others love, unaware of time, unaware of the rain, unaware of everything, but themselves.

Rei never did find that Restaurant. When she'd ask someone about it, they'd look at her as if she was crazy. "A gift from heaven.", as Greg called it. "Just accept it and be thankful." And she did. They both did.