A Summer Never Forgotten
Not much happened for a while. Shouhei left to take care of his
sick mother for two months and now it was August and he had come back to a
situation he hadn’t expected.
Yata and Bando sat at the bar, annoyed and Tatara stood next to the confused Shouhei in the doorway.
“…Yata, San?” They said nothing as they gritted their teeth. “It—It’s been a while… Ahh. What happened?”
“Yo! Why if isn’t it Shouhei!” Kamamoto smiled as his group of fan girls surrounded him.
“Who are you?” Shouhei confusingly smiled.
Kamamoto had become thin and beautiful in just a short amount of time and it bothered the other boys to an extent. I, on the other hand, was enjoying it fully.
“What? You’re not going to say you’ve forgotten my face after two months, are you?”
“Uhh…” Shouhei said.
“Kamamoto!” One of the girls at a table waved at him, blushing.
“Eh?” Shouhei’s eyes widened.
“Kamamoto! I want to order!” Another girl raised her hand.
“Kamamoto, will you take these sandwiches to table 2?” I asked him, smiling uncontrollably. Yes, I was enchanted by the new and beautiful version of Kamamoto.
“Don’t you get over yourself, Kamamoto!” Yata hissed as he slammed his fists against the countertop.
“Kamamoto?” Shouhei said in disbelief.
Tatara explained how Kamamoto tends to lose weight around summer time, but Shouhei still didn’t believe it. I wouldn’t have either if I hadn’t witnessed the whole process myself and man I was enjoying the outcome. I sat next to Kamamoto and smiled up at him. I wasn’t going to make any moves on him or anything; I just… really liked looking at him.
“King?” Tatara said as he leaned over towards Mikoto who was in the middle of eating.
Mikoto glanced at him and said in between bites, “has something changed about him?”
My eyes widened in surprise.
“You don’t even notice it?” Shouhei and I exclaimed. I couldn’t believe him right now. Did he really not notice? Was he really that carefree?
I wonder… would he notice if I changed?
The boys started a movement to make Kamamoto fat again and it was my ultimate goal to make sure they failed. I liked thin and beautiful Kamamoto, not just because he was so much fun to look at, but with business doing so well I might just be able to get a raise so I can buy a new red skirt!
Kamamoto and I finally got a break from work when they first struck.
Kamamoto went to get a cold soda when Yata got in the way.
“Wait a sec! It’s useless that just because it’s hot, you’re only drinking the cold ones.” Yata said, taking away his drink.
“That’s right!” Bando said as Chitose poured a cup of hot tea. “At such time, warm mint tea is preferably recommended! Your digestion and appetite will improve with the power of mint!”
“Err… the smell of herb is like too strong though…”
“Don’t say it like that!” Yata said. “Okay?”
“Well… if Yata said so…” Kamamoto was about to take a sip when I intervened, taking the cup away from him.
“Now is not the time to be dawdling. A whole new group of girls just came in, see!” I pointed towards the three girls I just pulled in from the street. “Please go serve them and I’ll get you a bottle of ice cold water.” I smiled.
“Alright, sorry about that Akane.” He said before taking the girls to their seat. I glared over at Yata, Bando and Chitose and they returned the stare.
“We all know who’s going to win this war, right boys?” I said.
“Don’t get to cocky, summer will end soon.” Yata said.
“I’ll make sure summer lasts forever!” I exclaimed, laughing maniacally as I went to pour out the tea.
“She’s gone mad.” Dewa said.
“Do you really think we can beat her in this state?” Chitose said.
The next time they struck they knew I couldn’t do anything about it. They barged in on Kamamoto when he was about to take a shower and made him take a bath instead, claiming it would help his appetite somehow. It backfired though, making Kamamoto smell better and even more attractive.
Later they made curry, the most fattening of food, and tried to get him to eat it. I tried to make it taste horrible by pouring large amounts of nutmeg in the pot, but Kamamoto still ate it out of kindness towards Yata. He got sick later and I had to nurse him back to health with a heavy conscious.
Kusanagi, annoyed, and Tatara, indifferent, watched us go around in circles as the boys fed Kamamoto and I made him exercise it off.
But after a painful month I lost once again and Kamamoto was back to his fat and undesirable self.
We ended up wasting the entire summer with our petty fight and I was depressed once again. I slumped over at the bar and poured myself a glass of vodka a bit to early in the day, when a young and pretty looking girl came into the bar.
“Ricchan!” She exclaimed. I looked back and my jaw dropped to the floor when she ran up to Kamamoto with that look in her eyes. The same look I had whenever…
“You… what are you doing here?” Kamamoto said.
“Aww, Ricchan you left your phone at home today you know?”
“Because aunt was worried, I came to deliver it. And yet you’re being mean.” She pouted.
“Aahh, enough. My bad.” He patted her head. “Thanks, you’re done right?”
“Idiot! Ricchan!” She exclaimed. The scene before us surprised us all.
“Oi… I don’t think it’s possible, but is she… your girlfriend?” Chitose asked.
“Yes.” She said, blushing from excitement.
“No, she’s just a childhood friend.” Kamamoto said. “She lives just around the neighborhood and is pretty noisy…” She started to squeeze his stomach. “Ow! What are you doing, hey, Ayumi!”
“I…say, shouldn't you be saying he looks better when he gets thin in the summer?” Bando asked.
“Far from it! Fat Ricchan is way cuter!” She exclaimed, hugging onto him. “You returned into this cooler figure a lot faster than you usually did.”
“Yeah, it was because everyone was anxious about my heat fatigue this year.” Kamamoto said.
“Oh my, I am anxious about it every year too I tell you.”
“I can kill someone with my hatred right now.” Yata growled.
“Yeah.” Chitose said.
“Right?” Bando said.
“Hmm?” The young girl looked over at me and I stood there in shock. “Kamamoto who is this?” She walked up to me and got in my face. “Have you been clinging onto my Kamamoto?” She growled.
“Eh?” I lifted my hands up. “I…No I just… I’m a member of Homra….”
“Hmm?” Mikoto looked up from his daze and over at me. “Have you lost weight, Akane?” He said. I looked back in surprise.
“Eh?!” I looked down at myself and I didn’t seem to look all that smaller. “Well… I have been exercising a lot lately.”
“You should eat something, you’re starting to look pale.” He said before lighting a cigarette and returning to his daze. I stared at him in astonishment and the young girl’s eyes started to sparkle.
“You’re in love as well.” She smiled.
I looked down at her in surprise.
“EH?!” I exclaimed.
“That’s exactly what I’ve been telling her.” Tatara joined in on staring up at me with that sparkle in his eyes.
“You two are crazy!” I exclaimed.
There were only a few more weeks of summer left and I was determined to make it memorable. My first summer with Homra, I needed at least one distinctive memory. That’s when I decided…
“Eh?! You want to go to a festival?” Kusanagi said as he put out his cigarette. “Why would you want to do something like that?”
“I want to have a special summer memory with you all!” I exclaimed.
“What are you going on about?” Yata said.
“I think it’s a great idea.” Tatara interrupted. I felt my smile grow. “It’s the perfect opportunity for King to see you in a Yukatta!”
I slumped over in disappointment, “that isn’t the point.” I grumbled.
“Will there be food?” Kamamoto asked as he stuffed his face with potato chips.
I quickly bounced back as it seemed I had finally got someone else interested. “Yes! Tons! Food stands everywhere!”
“I bet there will be tons of cute girls.” Chitose said.
“Yup! Dozens!” I exclaimed.
“I’m in!” Bando, Shouhei, Dewa, and Yata exclaimed.
“Yes!” I jumped in place out of excitement. “What about you Anna?” I asked the little girl who was in the middle of eating her omelet rice. She looked up at me in confusion and cocked her head to the side. “We can get red Yukattas.” I added. She nodded her head instantly and I almost passed out from happiness.
“What do you think, King?” Tatara asked. I suddenly felt all of my excitement being pushed back as I averted my attention to the infamous Mikoto. It had completely slipped my mind that there was a chance Mikoto would join us… and I felt this growing bubble in my chest filled with hope that… he would.
He looked up at Tatara. He didn’t seem all that interested, but then he glanced over at me and let out a sigh, followed with a slight nod of the head. The bubble bursted and the feeling of hope that it held suddenly reverted into relief.
Thanks to Kamamoto’s thin appearance recently and my constant begging, I was able to get enough of a bonus in my paycheck to buy myself a red Yukatta and Tatara gladly bought Anna hers since it was her very first. I practiced on her for hours to try and perfect the tying of the bow and after all my hard work I was able to do a perfect one on her and a fairly decent one for myself.
We made our way downstairs to meet with everyone else and as we descended down the dark, steep stairs everyone went silent and stared up at us in awe. I felt myself turn red as I held my head down trying not to trip over in my wood shoes.
“You look so beautiful!” Tatara exclaimed as he ran over to Anna. I glared over at him, but he didn't really seem to notice. I looked over at everyone else who all seemed a bit timid suddenly. Yata was completely turned the other way, with his head down. I imagine he was blushing immensely since he gets that way with all girls.
I noticed that Chitose, Kusanagi, Fujishima, Dewa, and Tatara where the only ones wearing Yukkatas as well. Mikoto was sitting on the couch looking out the window, completely spaced out.
“Mikoto.” I said. He looked over at me and something in his expression changed. I cocked my head to the side, but he quickly recovered, letting out a sigh and pushing himself up.
“Lets get this over with.” He said as he made his way out the door and we all followed.
The place was completely crowded. I didn’t realize it was such a big festival.
“Why did you have to chose such a crowded one?” Mikoto grumbled as he grabbed a cigarette out from his pocket.
“Sorry…” I let out a sigh. I quickly recovered though, determined to make this a special memory with Homra. I lifted my head and pushed back my fear of failing once again. “Alright, lets all have fun.” I smiled, but then I realized that everyone had already gotten split up, and the only person beside me was Mikoto. “Eh?”
“Did you really think a big group like us wouldn’t lose each other in this crowd within minutes?” He pointed out. I immediately slumped over in disappointment.
“But this was supposed to be a special summer memory with all of Homra.” I mumbled.
He let out a sigh and dropped his cigarette to the ground, proceeding to step on it as he grabbed onto my hand and moved through the crowd. I looked up at him in surprise and he glanced back at me.
“It’s no use for us to get separated as well.”
A warm felling filled up in my chest as I stared up at that familiar red hair and my grip tightened on him just a bit. My face was completely red, but I didn’t care.
As we walked past the hundreds of stands through the thousands of people, trying to find the rest of Homra, I couldn’t help but notice a small booth with the traditional festival game that I couldn’t remember the name of. I always wanted to play it, but never got the chance.
This was my first festival.
I stopped in place and stared in awe as I remembered all the manga I read as a teenager with this exact game. Mikoto stopped and looked over at me in confusion.
“What is it?” He asked as he looked over the direction of my sight and let out his usual sigh. “You’re such a child.” He mumbled. I looked up at him and pouted.
His expression changed once again, but only for a moment. It was like he was surprised… but at the same time…
He soon recovered and fished in his pocket for a 100 yen. He held it out for me and I was overcome with giddy.
“Make it fast.”
I nodded my head and made my way over to the booth, having to let go of his hand. He followed behind and watched from the side as I used the rubber band to try and pick up the little water balloon, but of course, like I do with everything in my life, I failed. How in the world could I fail at such an easy game? I looked back over at where Mikoto was standing, but he wasn’t there. I looked around in a panic, until finally I noticed that he was right beside me playing the game as well.
He won three balloons in one try.
My eyes widened in surprise.
“HOW!?” I exclaimed. He looked over at me with that bored expression of his.
“That was way too easy.”
“GAH!” I blurted as I tried to hold in my anger. The lady who ran the booth gave him the balloons as his prize and he handed them over to me. Suddenly my anger subsided and I stared down at the small gifts in awe.
Perhaps it’s alright that I seem to fail at everything I try, as long as I try with all of my heart, because… as long as Mikoto is there I know…
I’ll be okay.
We tried to find everyone at first, but I kept getting distracted and pulling Mikoto along with me.
I ate a candy apple, we both drank beer, we played some games, and we even went to the temple that the entire festival was in honor of. I prayed while Mikoto waited for me a few feet away. I don’t think he really believes in anything… a powerful man like him, I can see why. I was able to convince him to get a fortune though.
We unwrapped our fortunes and of course I got “so-so luck”, story of my life. It said, “Your soul mate is near, but if you do not act quickly you will lose them forever.”
I looked over at Mikoto’s and my eyes widened in surprise. He got the worst luck!
“Woah! You better hang that up.” I said. He looked over at me with an eyebrow raised.
“You really believe in this stuff?”
“Of course.” I held my head down and felt my cheeks burn form embarrassment. “I got a fortune once that said I’ll have many troubles in my life, but eventually I will come across a group of good people whom I will cherish and love for the rest of my life.” I looked back up at him and smiled. “I believe it was talking about Homra.”
There was a long pause.
“…I suppose I’ll hang it up.” He said as he started to fold it.
“Wait! Aren’t you going to read it first?”
“Why does it matter?” He grumbled. I took the fortune from him and my eyes widened in surprise.
It said, “You have found the one, but if you keep on the way you are you will lose them in the blink of an eye.”
I looked up at him and I felt my heart drop.
Why must Mikoto’s future look so bleak?
The sun went down and everyone gathered for the fireworks. I was so excited since I had only seen fireworks once with my family when I was young.
I stood with Mikoto and stared up at the sky in anticipation.
“Hmm?” I looked over at him and he was staring up at the sky as if he was daydreaming.
“You really love Homra, don’t you?”
I was caught off guard. I didn’t expect him to ask something of the sort. “Of course!”
I looked down trying to hide my face. “You’re all so kind… I never met anyone who extended such generous actions towards me.” I fiddled with my hands as I tried not to show the sadness in my eyes. “…When my parents went abroad I stayed back for school and I was all alone. I don’t really recall having many friends, everyone I ever really came in contact with didn’t seem to stick around very long…” I looked up at him and smiled. “But then I met Homra. You all seemed so happy in your own odd way. You took me in, gave me a job, a roof over my head… you’re all just so… amazing.”
I suppose… I was pretty lonely.
I could feel my tears slide down my flustered cheeks and I instantly averted my gaze. I wiped them away and took a deep breath as I tried to quickly recover for Mikoto’s sake. Suddenly Mikoto has pulled me into him. My eyes widened in surprise as I rested my head against his chest, his arm holding me to hide myself from the rest of the crowd; the scent of cigarettes and hair gel filling my lungs.
“You’re such an idiot.” He mumbled. Usually I would have bursted in anger from his unnecessary comment, but for some reason I just couldn’t be mad right now. “We all carry heavy burdens in Homra... but you’re right.” I felt a lump in my throat as I gripped onto his shirt, my emotions getting carried away. “We will take care of you from now on, so there’s no need to worry.”
At that moment… I wanted to say, “I love you”
A loud booming sound filling the air and I glanced up to the see the twinkling fireworks overhead in the sky. I breathed in Mikoto’s scent with his large demeanor holding me against him.
I knew the King made me nervous, that his very presence seemed to soothe me and yet make me anxious at the same time but… I never expected a word like love to be on the tip of my tongue.
I wonder… when did I start feeling like this?
Mikoto let out a small groan and let go of me. I looked up at him in confusion as he took out a cigarette and acted as if nothing had just happened.
“King! Akane!” I looked back and there was Tatara and the rest of the group. “There you are! We've been looking for you for awhile now.”
“Same here.” I smiled, trying not to dwell on what had just happened. The fireworks roared above us and we all stood and watched them together. I looked up at Mikoto and he glanced down at me.
“What are you staring at for, virgin?”
“Oi!” I growled. “How many times do I have to tell you? I am not a virgin!”
“Is that really something you should screaming about in this large crowd?” Anna pointed out. I looked around to see that everyone was staring at me. I held my head down in embarrassment.
Mikoto patted the top of my head.
“I’m not a dog!”
Everyone in Homra just laughed and I laughed with them. Never before had I been so happy, never before have I had such wonderful people surrounding me.
Thank you so very much Mikoto… for finding me.