The Boy in the Yukata
"Haaah...What am I going to do?" asked a chestnut haired girl. She sighed and took a seat in the lush grass on a slope. She sat underneath the shade of a tree growing on the side of the road, shielding her from the hot sun. Just four days ago, she just arrived from a bustling city to a quiet, peaceful town near a mountain.
From what she learned, not much actually happened around here. The people were nice and easy-going with practically anything they did. The adults would greet her with a smile or even give her a small treat from their goods. She figured that they were nice to her because of her grandparents. Practically everyone knew each other since it was a small town.
Asuna loved how the town was full of life. The trees were big and the grass was lush. Flowers practically bloomed everywhere she looked. Although, what surprised her the most was the lack of children. When she looked at the few shops around, she noticed that everyone was older than her.
"Ano, excuse me, but are there any children around here?" Asuna asked one day. The young lady at the flower shop, Sakuya, blinked at her question before smiling.
"Ah, well, we are a small town, but we do have about...nine or so," she answered as she cut the stem of a tulip. "But, right now, the younger children are at a summer activity at school. You'll see them around later in the day when they come out to play."
"Oh, I see." Asuna said, feeling a bit relieved. For a moment there, she thought she was going to by herself all summer.
"I know the Kirigaya siblings should be around your age and I know that Suguha-chan is helping out." Sakuya said. She looked up and pointed out the window. "Although, you can find Kazuto-kun in the tree house down the road...if he's up for it. It's just a bit away from the house all the way down the road. It's at the base of the mountain."
Asuna sighed once again as she laid down on her back, placing her hands on her stomach and closing her eyes. Just yesterday, she went to see if that Kazuto person was really there, but she didn't see anyone around. At the very least, she knew where the tree house was. She had to admit, the house looked pretty cool from the outside.
A gentle breeze blew by, ruffling her bangs a bit. She didn't know how long she laid there, or even if she fell asleep. But who could blame her? The day was nice and she was determined to enjoy it.
"Uhm, are you okay?" came a hesitant voice. Asuna snapped her eyes open in surprise when she heard the voice. A black haired boy stood towering above her with a slightly worried look.
"Who are you?" she asked him.
"Who me? I'm Kazuto. Kirigaya Kazuto." the black-haired teen said with a smile. He held out a hand to Asuna. "Who are you?"
"Yuuki Asuna..." she said, taking the offered hand. Kazuto's grip on her hand was a bit weak, so Asuna ended up having to pick herself up. She dusted herself off and took a good look at the boy before her. Kazuto was wearing a soft blue yukata with a pattern that resembled ripples in water. A dark blue, outlined koi fish was near the bottom near his knee. He had a black sash tied around his hip with a ceremonial tie. On his feet was the traditional geta.
Asuna blinked. This boy in front of her was Kazuto? She kind of found it hard to believe that he was. After all, he seemed to have those faces that resembled a girl's features...or maybe he was a girl.
"Ah, you must be the new girl everyone is talking about." Kazuto said.
"Everyone?" Asuna questioned. Kazuto breathed a laugh.
"Well, it is a small town. I'm surprised that I didn't meet you until now, though. Welcome to Hirarima!" he said with amusement clear in his voice. Asuna placed her hands together.
"Thank you. Although, that's a bit late since I've been here for four days already." she said.
"It's better late than never." Kazuto said with a shrug. "Where are you from?"
"Tokyo." Asuna answered.
"Tokyo? You came from that big city?" Kazuto asked with slightly wide eyes. Asuna shrugged a bit.
"Yeah, my mother thought that I should spend the summer with my grandparents here. I'll be leaving before school begins though." she said. Kazuto crossed his arms in thought.
"Grandparents...?" he trailed off. After a few seconds, he perked up. "Ah! You must be Kaori-baa-san's and Taka-jii-san's granddaughter!"
"B-baa-san?! Jii-san?! You seem to be very familiar with them." Asuna said in surprise. Kazuto placed a hand on his hip.
"Of course, I am! When everyone is busy, they take care of me." he said.
"Really? Your parents don't trust you by yourself?" Asuna couldn't help but ask. Kazuto shook his head.
"It's not like that." he said. "It's just that I don't like being all alone. My sister, Sugu, is always needed since she is the second oldest amongst all of the children here. Plus, she's good with them. Okaa-san is working in the general store and Otou-san works on the fields."
"Sounds like everyone is pretty busy, then." Asuna said as she tilted her head bit. She could understand him. After all, her own family back in Tokyo is always busy with one thing or another. At times, it made her feel a bit...lonely.
"So, what are you planning to do today?" Kazuto asked suddenly, changing the subject without a care. Asuna blinked for a moment, realizing that she was stuck.
"Uhm...I, ah...Well, I wasn't really planning to do anything today..." she said with a small frown. Suddenly, Kazuto brightened a bit and grabbed her hand, totally missing her look of surprise.
"Then come with me! I know what we can do today!" he said as he pulled her up the slope.
"E-eh?!" Asuna gasped. She couldn't do anything but stumble after Kazuto as they followed down a dirt path. "W-wait a minute!"
If Kazuto heard her, he didn't act like it as they passed the small shops that made up the town and to the living area. Asuna caught several of the townspeople stop for a moment and smile or shake their heads in amusement.
"Hey! At least tell me where we're going, Kirigaya-san!" Asuna said as she noticed Kazuto slow his pace a bit. He still didn't answer as he turned a corner. Asuna blinked when she began to recognize the area around her. They just passed a house that seemed to stray a bit from the area and to a tree house at the edge of the lush mountain forest.
She suddenly stopped just before Kazuto could take her closer than a yard toward the house. Her hand easily slipped out of his, causing the boy to turn around with a curious look.
"Eh? What's wrong?" he asked her. Asuna looked up at the house and then back at him.
"Oh, nothing's wrong!" she assured. "It's just that I came here yesterday, but no one was around."
"So, it was you!" Kazuto said as he placed his hands on his hips. "I remember seeing you pass by my house yesterday, and I wasn't sure. But, now, I know it was you!"
"Sorry for trespassing." Asuna apologized with a bow of her head.
"Eh? No, it's fine." he said, already heading up the ladder. Asuna watched him stop a few seconds before continuing up. She waited until he climbed in the house and poked his head out of the window.
"Are you coming?" he asked her. Asuna blinked.
"Ah! R-right!" Without another moment, Asuna made her way up the wooden ladder. Kazuto pulled her in once she reached the top. She dusted herself off and looked around as he dug through a wooden chest. The tree house was actually a bit bigger than she originally thought. It was big enough to fit a table with two chairs and an open space for someone to even sleep. A rolled up futon sat right beside the wooden chest Kazuto was busy looking through. She even noticed a few stuffed animals strewn on the floor. All in all, it was a well-built treehouse.
"Wow...it's really nice up here." Asuna said as she took a seat on one of the chairs. Kazuto stood up and placed an unopened box. The box was covered with the picture of Tokyo and it still had the plastic wrap covering it. Asuna looked at the box curiously before glancing up at Kazuto's smile.
"Otou-san and I build it a couple years back." he said with a bit of pride. He pushed the box toward her a bit. "I was actually hoping if you'll help me put this together. I had this for years, but everyone is working hard and I don't really know how Tokyo looks like."
He paused for a moment as he looked a bit shy. "C-can you help me?"
Asuna took a look at the box once again and actually read it that time.
"3D PUZZLE - TOKYO MODEL"
She smiled as she looked up at Kazuto's hopeful eyes. "Sure! Why not?"
"Thank you, Yuuki-san!" he said with excitement. Asuna laughed as waved a hand.
"Ahaha, you don't have to call me Yuuki-san. You can call me by my first name, Kirigaya-san." she said as she began to pick at the plastic wrap.
"Eh? If that's the case, then you don't have to call me Kirigaya-san, Asuna-san." he said as he helped her break the plastic. After a few seconds, Asuna managed to break the plastic and Kazuto gathered it up and placed it to the side of the ladder. He muttered something under his breath that sounded like, "Better throw that away later!"
Asuna opened up the box and took out the blueprint. She unfolded it and flattened it to the table as best as she could. "Oh my, this looks like it's going to take a while."
"Really?" Kazuto asked. He looked over the instructions. "Hmm... It really does seem like it'll take a while. Maybe a few weeks?"
"Ahaha, at least we have all summer!" Asuna said with amusement in her voice. They both shared a look and nodded, silently agreeing that they would work together. Kazuto began rummage through the box to find the piece they needed to start off with. As Asuna watched him, she couldn't help but think there was something off about him. Frowning a bit, she tried to figure out what it was.
"Hey, Asuna-san?" Kazuto asked as he pieced together a platform on the table. "What's Tokyo like?"
"Well, it's really busy and so much bigger than this place." Asuna said as she began to help him out.
"Is it better than here?" Kazuto questioned. Asuna paused to look at him. He had this slightly distant look on his face as his hand held a piece of the platform.
"...Well, I actually like the peace and quite here. It gets kind of loud during the day since there is so many people. If I had to pick, I'd rather live here than in the big city." Asuna said with a smile. "I'm guessing you never went to Tokyo."
"I wouldn't be asking if I did." Kazuto said with a shrug. The rest of the day passed as they worked together. Asuna managed to get a few things about Kazuto while working. She found out that he was fifteen, a year younger than her. He disliked green onion greatly, frowning as he said so. During the day, he would normally hang around the tree house when he could. By the sounds of it, Kazuto seemed like he barely did much...or rather, no one would let him do anything that related to work or school. Asuna couldn't help but find that a bit strange.
"I think we should call it a day, huh, Kazuto-kun?" Asuna asked as she looked up. She blinked at the sight before her. Kazuto was already dozing off on the table with a his head resting in his crossed arms. "Kazuto-kun?"
The teen didn't stir as he continued to doze on. Asuna sighed. She didn't really want to wake him up, but the sunlight was quickly fading, telling her that they should head home soon. Grimacing a bit, she gently placed a hand on his shoulder and shook him. "Hey, wake up already!"
Slowly, Kazuto's eyes wearily blinked open and sat up, stretching. "Uwaaah~! What time is it?"
"I think it's almost six or so." Asuna said as she began to clean up the area a bit. Kazuto closed his eyes for a moment before blinking himself awake. He didn't start helping Asuna until a minute later. Soon, the two found themselves at the bottom of the tree house and on their way back toward the town.
"Thanks for helping me out today, Asuna-san. I really appreciate it." Kazuto said as he stopped in front of the pathway to the house they passed by earlier. front yard of the house was filled with the colors of summer and fall from the flowers and trees that grew around it. The house itself was a traditional one-story Japanese style, just like the rest of the town. Already, Asuna could feel the comfortable feeling of home.
"Oh, it's fine. I don't mind helping you until you finish it." Asuna said with a smile on her face. Her gaze strayed a bit and she finally read the name plate by the door.
"So, should we meet again tomorrow?" she asked Kazuto. The teen nodded and placed a hand on his hip.
"Sure! I'll be at the treehouse around noon. That way, you can take your time in the morning." he said.
"Onii-chan!" called a voice inside the house. "Hurry and come inside! It's going to get cold soon!"
"C-coming!" he answered back, his voice cracking a bit. Kazuto immediately perked up and hurried down the pathway to the door. "I gotta go. I'll see you tomorrow, Asuna!"
"See you!" she promised as Kazuto disappeared behind the paper sliding door. She could've sworn that she caught a glimpse of a black-haired girl by the window for a moment.
"That must be his sister." she muttered to herself. Taking one last look at the house, she began to make her way back home. Luckily for her, she already mapped out the entire town in her head. A cool evening breeze swept by her, making her pause for a moment. She looked back at Kazuto's house and smiled.
"I guess this summer will be a bit interesting this year."