Chapter 1:

April breeze and first days

autumn leaves and chocolate bars


April has nice weather. If you sleep with the windows open you can wake up to a nice spring breeze and the sweet smell of the flowers blooming just beside the building.Bookmark here

Unfortunately, Kaede Akihiko wakes up to a loud phone call from his best friend and neighbor, who yells at him to wake up and start to get ready for school, because he really doesn’t want to be late and ruin his perfect record just because Akihiko was too lazy to get out of bed. And all in one breath. For a reserved introverted teen, Katsuo sure did talk a lot when there were no people around to hear. Well, not that he, of all people, can judge.Bookmark here

He yawns and goes to brush his teeth, talking to Katsuo about the latest manga volume they decided to read together. His dad is still sleeping. Good. He needs some rest.Bookmark here

He takes his medication, grabs a bagel from the fridge and hurries outside, where Katsuo was waiting for him. He was wearing his crimson school uniform, blazer and all, in contrast to Akihiko, who had his blazer laying nice and folded in his backpack. Bookmark here

“Would it kill you to wake up at a normal hour?” Katsuo asks, but Akihiko can see the glint in his sea-green eyes, and can tell he’s not really mad.Bookmark here

“Why would I, when I have you as the best alarm clock?” he asks back innocently, and takes a bite off his bagel. He immediately hates it. Probably has garlic in it.Bookmark here

Katsuo sees the face he makes at the bagel, and sighs. He fumbles in his backpack and gives him a chocolate bar instead. And his favorite kind, no else! Bookmark here

“You know me so well” He smiles and takes it. “Wait, is Kanna not coming with us?”Bookmark here

“Do you really want her to?”Bookmark here

“Fair enough”Bookmark here

Katsuo’s blond hair is floating around his face by the cool breeze, making him run his hand through it, to get it away from his eyes, and he’s talking about an online physics course he took in the summer, that Akihiko doesn’t hear at all because he’s too busy staring.Bookmark here

He doesn’t stare. Not at all. Why would you even suggest that?Bookmark here

Okay, maybe he does stare. But can he really be blamed? He’s just so,,, Majestic.Bookmark here

Yeah. Majestic is the right word.Bookmark here

“Are you even listening, Aki?” He turns to him, eyebrows raised.Bookmark here

Akihiko chokes and blushes, caught off guard. “Sorry”Bookmark here

Katsuo softly smiles. “What are you thinking about?”Bookmark here

“Nothing important”Bookmark here

“Is it a girl?”Bookmark here

Now. Here’s the problem. Both of them are males. So no matter how much Akihiko loves this boy, he’s never going to do anything about it. It makes him sad, of course, but he doesn’t want to make Katsuo uncomfortable, or endanger their friendship.Bookmark here

“Nah” he says, and looks upwards to the clear sky.Bookmark here

The school is loud. So loud it’s impossible to hear each other, especially if your attention span is like of a fish with brain damage, and you get distracted by everything that catches your eye, even on 54 mg of medication.Bookmark here

Katsuo and Akihiko take a look at the class boards, and,, yes! They’re in the same class again. It’s a new record. They haven't been separated since second grade, the year Akihiko transferred to Katsuo’s elementary school. Bookmark here

They high five, and suddenly Akihiko sees a feminine hand pushing at Katsuo’s head.Bookmark here

“Hey!” he heaved, turning around to face his little sister.Bookmark here

“Kanna, what the hell?”Bookmark here

“You didn’t respond to me” She pouted, her blue eyes that are so-much-like-Katsuo’s-but-not-quite, squinting with a childish sparkle.Bookmark here

“Did you expect me too? I can barely hear you now”Bookmark here

“Fine. Anyway, I want to go to a karaoke place with my friends later, so I really need you to pick up Kazuto for me” she announced, referring to their younger brother, who was 4 years old, and was in a daycare for most of the day.Bookmark here

“We take turns for a reason, we were planning to go to the new smoothie place-”Bookmark here

“Wait, didn’t I tell you already? I have the first day on my job today” Akihiko cut him off, turning the blond’s attention back at him.Bookmark here

“No. You didn’t”Bookmark here

“Sorry”Bookmark here

“It’s,, It’s okay.” A sigh. “Fine. I’ll pick him for you today, but you owe me.”Bookmark here

“Sure. Thanks!”Bookmark here

A blink, and Kanna was nowhere to be seen.Bookmark here

The younger girl was so different from her brother it was surprising they were even related. Katsuo was soft spoken, polite, and had so much patience, especially for Akihiko and his antics. Kanna was loud and assertive, even in her clothing style and speaking patterns. She also somehow manages to get into a new drama every other day. Katsuo knew so much about the latest middle school gossip he could write a book about it. Bookmark here

When they turn away to find their class, they were approached by the football team captain. Well, mostly Akihiko. Both of them are in the club, but Akihiko was more athletic and quick then Katsuo, who huffed and puffed after a few laps around the field. He knows he only joined so Akihiko won’t be alone when he joined, and expressed a few times that he really wasn’t built for games, and was more than happy to sit on the bench and cheer on his teammates.Bookmark here

Akihiko doesn’t understand why Katsuo’s so hard on himself. He might not be the most athletic person in the world, but his grades are so good, and he won so many competitions, and is a really good tutor, kind and patient, even when Akihiko is on the verge of tears, and even though his taste in music is horrendous, when Akihiko asks him to a duet he gladly joins and they sound so good and- Bookmark here

Oh, right.Bookmark here

The club.Bookmark here

He only wanted to know if the two of them were coming to practice the day after, which of course they are. So Akihiko tells him so. And he leaves.Bookmark here

That’s. That’s it. God, he’s getting worse. Bookmark here

They walk into their class, and he already starts to feel dread. Bookmark here

“Are you okay?” Katsuo asks him.Bookmark here

“I’m fine. Just not thrilled about the fact class actually starts”Bookmark here

“Hey, you’ll be fine. You’re already doing so much better than middle school.”Bookmark here

“I know. I just wish I wouldn’t have to do all this” he gestures towards the entire class. “Honestly, I’m here to make connections. You know how useful it is to know a future CEO of something?”Bookmark here

Katsuo laughs. “How exactly do you expect to do this? Just go to a company, pass all security, and yell ‘Hey, Konoha! I gave you a pencil in high school, give me 30 thousand yen!’ ?”Bookmark here

“Exactly. Nobody can say no to me. I’m adorable!”Bookmark here

“You can say that again”Bookmark here

Akihiko ignores the slight blush that crawls across his cheeks as he laughs harder, and hopes Katsuo didn’t notice it. Bookmark here

“Are you talking about how Kaede is designed to be a sugar baby?” One of their friends, Saito, creeps up behind them.Bookmark here

“Oh my god, Saito, shut up.” Katsuo covers his forehead with his palm, and uses his other hand to punch Saito in the shoulder. Bookmark here

“I’m just telling the truth” Saito shrugs and takes a seat next to them.Bookmark here

Akihiko was happy to see Katsuo so comfortable and happy around people. He can still remember how he was in elementary school. Bookmark here

Suddenly, the heat hits him. He loosens his tie and runs his hand through his own brown locks.Bookmark here

“It’s April. Why is it so hot?” He complains.Bookmark here

“You’re the only one who’s hot, Aki” Katsuo points out. Akihiko looks around, and notices how nobody looks particularly bothered by the heat. He groans and lets his head fall on his arms. Katsuo gently pats his back. Bookmark here

Akihiko turns his head toward him, and smiles. They make eye contact for a couple of seconds, and Akihiko can feel the butterflies go crazy in his stomach, until Katsuo abruptly cuts it.Bookmark here

Their teacher walks in, and everyone hurries to their own seats, and he starts lecturing. The regular ‘We hope you bring pride to our school and behave and yada yada yada’. Akihiko taps his leg, and quietly drums on his table, waiting for the nightmare to finally be over. He has no idea how is he supposed to survive 6 more hours of this. Bookmark here

He does notice some classmates giving him naugsty looks. Especially this one cyan haired girl who was seated diagonally to him. He tries to stop, but It’s no help, cause his hands just start again without him even noticing. He hears the girl audibly scoff. He closes his fists and shoves them between his thighs.Bookmark here

He feels awful.Bookmark here

The rest of the day moves faster. With a gym class in the middle, and their cool literature teacher decided it would be fun to have the class outside. Which it was. Obviously. Bookmark here

He says goodbye to Katsuo as they walk in different directions, Akihiko ready and pumped to start working.Bookmark here

The ice cream shop, ‘Ayami’s Sugar Coated Dreams’, is a cosy place with heaps of different delicious homemade ice cream flavors, and getting free samples is 50% why he even works there. It’s great.Bookmark here

The other 50% is Ayami herself. She’s a woman around her 50’s who ran the shop for years. She has so many stories about old customers, her kids, and the many battles she had with her father to take charge of the shop. Bookmark here

She explains to him what to do with a big smile, while sliding comments about different topics, and she’s able to keep up with Akihiko’s quick mind and genuine curiosity with, well, everything.Bookmark here

He comes home satisfied, with a stomach filled with delicious caramel ice cream Ayami gave him for a good day one.Bookmark here

His dad is in the living room, drinking coffee.Bookmark here

“Hey!” he smiles at him when he notices him coming in. “I didn’t notice you going out this morning”Bookmark here

“Katsu picked me up. You were sleeping.” He smiles back. He kicks off his shoes and runs to sit next to his dad on the couch. He notices that the mug the coffee is in is the mug Akihiko got him for his latest birthday. The one with the ugly bear and the horrible pun. He tries to outdo himself every time, to find even a stupider gift than last time since he was 11. His dad puts all of them in a display cabinet, right next to his plane models collection.Bookmark here

“How was your first day?” he asks.Bookmark here

“Of school, or the job?”Bookmark here

“Humor me”Bookmark here

“Well, school was a nightmare, nothing new, but Ayami taught me the trick to stack the ice cream right in the cone, and she told me this awesome story about that time her son accidentally burned his eyebrows off”Bookmark here

“How does that happen?”Bookmark here

“Matches and a lot of determination”Bookmark here

“Please remind me to put the matches far away from you”Bookmark here

“Hey!”Bookmark here

It’s a normal afternoon for them. Just talking and enjoying their time together. Only the two of them. It’s been only the two of them since he was six, and he has absolutely no problems with that. He still instinctively reaches for his neck whenever he starts to remember.Bookmark here

“Are you hungry? I can start making dinner.” His dad asks, putting the empty glass of coffee on the small table.Bookmark here

“Nah, I got Ice cream”Bookmark here

“What did you eat today that wasn’t junk food?”Bookmark here

“Ehh-” Akihiko starts, but his dad cuts him off to laugh.Bookmark here

“I’m making omelettes”Bookmark here

“With peppers?”Bookmark here

“With peppers.”Bookmark here

“Yess”Bookmark here

If the one and only Kaede Tsuki was known for something, it was his magical omelettes. Bookmark here

Even Kanna, who hates eggs, made an exception for his omelettes. That’s how great they were.Bookmark here

Akihiko’s tired, confused, overwhelmed, and is definitely not expecting for the rest of the school year, but tonight it’s just him, his dad, his amazing omelettes, and a crime mystery TV show. Just relaxing.Bookmark here

They sit and watch the show until at least 11pm, then his dad turns to him.Bookmark here

“Wait, don’t you have homework?”Bookmark here

... Bookmark here

“Oh no.”Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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