Hakama sat on the bench outside the large office building. Her normal clothes today consisted of tights, a skirt, a white button up shirt, and a hoodie. She was rather upset as Ikkimaru made her leave Zetsuketsu at home and she had no idea if Zetsuketsu was safe or not. She turned and as Ikkimaru walked out the front door and gave a sigh of relief, “Ah, thank god.” He then turned and walked over to Hakama, “Ready to go?”
“Yes. Why did we come here?”
“I had to drop off this week's manuscript for Chanbara. That way they can publish it in the magazine.”
“Chanbara is the story you had me read, right? The one you’re always drawing?”
“That’s the one.”
“I really like it,” Hakama said as the two started to walk down the street, “I think Chanbara is a very nice person.”
“I’m glad you said that,” he then reached in the bag and handed her a book, “Here! It’s the next volume, they gave me an early copy before they go on sale this week.”
“You got this for me?” She asked as she took the book, “Why?”
“You said you liked it, I figured you’d want to read it.”
“Yeah, I want to read it, but-“
“It’s also a form of apology for the other night.” He sighed as she turned to him, “I really didn’t mean to shove you, I was a bit upset, and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
“It’s just that…I know I’ve got issues with women due to being wronged in the past, but whenever I see Ryuko, I just feel like everything is going to be okay. It’s strange considering the other night was our first date, I just…” he hugged and said, “I really like her, and I want you to like her too. I just think I might be able to really be happy again.”
Hakama looked down at the book in her hand before she sighed and said, “If it’ll make you happy, then I suppose I can allow it. If anyone needs to be sorry it’s me. I didn’t mean to get angry, it’s just that no one has ever made me lie before. Being a house spirit I’m supposed to be honest and sincere and I’m supposed to be very good.”
“I should apologize for that too,” he added, “Maybe I should’ve just been honest with Ryuko.” He then smiled as he said, “From now on I’ll never ask you to lie for me again.”
“So where are we going?”
“Well, I saw how you were at the fish tank the other day, so I wanted to take you to this place I always enjoyed as a kid.” They came to the bus stop as Ikkimaru placed his hands in his pockets and looked up at the sky, “It’s called an aquarium, they’ve got sea life from all over the planet. They even have the world's largest fish.”
“How big is it?”
“You’ll just have to see for yourself.” He said as the bus pulled up to the stop and the two got on. When they sat down Hakama unwrapped the manga volume before she started to read it. Ikkimaru looked down at his phone to open a message from Ryuko.
Ryuko: Hey! Are you gonna stop by the store today? I baked something special for you!
Ikkimaru: Possibly, I’m taking Hakama to the aquarium today. If I have time I’ll stop by!
Ryuko: Okay! You and Hakama have fun!
Ikkimaru: We’ll try haha
Ryuko: By the way…I didn’t leave a bad impression did I?
Ryuko: She seemed upset.
Ikkimaru: No, she’s fine. She actually likes you, she was just tired from the ride here from Kyoto.
Ryuko: Alright then
Ryuko: By the way, you have a one bedroom apartment right? Where is she sleeping?
Ikkimaru: She’s sleeping on the couch.
Ryuko: I see. Would you like this old couch of mine?
Ryuko then sent him a picture of a brown leather couch.
Ryuko: If you take the cushions off you can pull a bed out of it! Perhaps she’d be more comfortable on it!
Ikkimaru: Yeah! That’d be great! How much do I owe you?
Ryuko: Oh! Don’t worry about it! You can have it!
Ikkimaru: Are you sure?
Ryuko: Yeah! Of course! I know what it’s like to live on someone’s couch for a while until I got my own place! I just figured I’d help her out!
Ikkimaru: Thanks, I’ll be sure to make it up to you!
Ikkimaru: How about we go have dinner?!
Ikkimaru: I can save money and we can go somewhere nice!
Ryuko: OMG! I never turn down free food! Haha
Ryuko: However, I don’t need a fancy dinner date, I’m fine if we do something casual :)
Ikkimaru: Thank god…I don’t know if I could save up that much money…
Ikkimaru: Seriously, I can’t thank you enough. I’ll make it up to you, I promise!
Ryuko: Alrighty then!
Ryuko: I should go! My break is over! I’ll text you later!
Ikkimaru: I’ll look forward to it!
Ikkimaru then leaned back with a smile before he turned and looked at Hakama who was fully immersed in the manga. “Hey, Haka-“
“One second.” She responded, he sighed before she flipped the page and then turned to him, “What is it?”
“Oh, nothing really.” He said with a smile before he looked at the ceiling, “I was curious about something.”
“What is it?”
“I wanted to know when your birthday was.”
“Oh, uh…” she paused as she began to think, “I don’t know, I don’t think I have one. I just know how long it’s been since I was born. However, there’s one day a year your family would bring gifts and small things to the Kamidana. I think it’s December 31st.”
“Oh, that’s just New Years Eve.” He responded,
“I see, well, that’s usually when I mark the day where I turn a year older.”
“That’s not very fun, your birthday should be special.”
“When’s your birthday?”
“It’s in a few months, in September. It’s the 5th.”
“What do you do for your birthday?”
“Not much,” he said, “Since my parents died I haven’t really spent it with anyone special. Sometimes I go visit my grandma or she comes and visits me. However, I now have Ryuko so she can celebrate it with me.”
“Can I spend your birthday with you?”
“Do you want to?”
“If it’ll make you happy.”
“Well, you’re more than welcome to be there.”
“Alright, sounds like a plan.” She said as she looked back to the manga and continued to read it. After a short bus ride the two got off at the aquarium. Hakama looked around in awe as they walked through the front doors. After Ikkimaru paid for them they started their journey through the aquarium. Hakama was absolutely baffled by all the different types of marine life.
Ikkimaru took her over to the touch pool, but it didn’t last long as Hakama tried to eat one of the Bat Rays. They then went through a long tunnel which was surrounded by various fish and sharks. As Hakama pointed to them Ikkimaru explained each one of them to her. He continued to do this as they saw an Octopus, Japanese Spider Crab, Jellyfish that would glow in the dark and so on. He then took her to a large blue wall and said, “Okay, in here is the biggest fish in the world.”
“How big is it?” Hakama asked,
“They can get anywhere from 26 to 62 feet.”
“Wow, that’s much bigger than me at full size…”
“What do you mean?”
“At full size I’m about 43 feet long, and I’m about 12 feet tall.”
“Oh, that’s right, dinosaur….” Ikkimaru said to himself with a sigh, “Anyways, there’s a lot they don’t know about them, such as where they mate, where they lay their eggs. Some people think they give live birth.”
“Why don’t they know a lot about them?”
“Because they’re so large, and they’re so hard to find. They’re an endangered species, meaning that they could all be killed off if people keep hunting them.”
“Why do people-“
Ikkimaru gasped as he pointed to the tank, “Look! Here it comes!” Hakama turned to the tank as her eyes dazzled. The massive Whale Shark swam from one side of the tank to the other before it came back again. It then swam across the tank again, this time a little closer to the glass. Hakama admired every inch of the large shark as it swam by the glass. She had never seen something this large in so long, and she never thought something this large could swim. “What do you think?” He asked her,
“Should we get going?”
“Do we have to…?” Hakama asked as she turned to Ikkimaru,
“Well uh,” he looked at the expression on her face before he sighed and said, “I suppose we could stay here a bit longer, but not too long, I’ve got plans with Ryuko tonight.”
“Okay,” she said as she looked back at the glass to take in more and more of the large shark. After a while she said, “Okay, let’s go.” The two finished going through the aquarium before they came to the gift shop at the exit. Ikkimaru looked around before he saw a section dedicated to the Whale Shark there.
“You liked the Whale Shark right?”
“Would you like to pick something out to remember it?”
“What do you mean?” She asked with a confused expression on her face,
He pointed to the Whale Shark merch and said, “You can pick something out, get whatever you like.”
“Oh, I don’t really need anything-“
“Go on, you can get something.” He said as he walked over to the Whale Shark section with her, “Besides, it’s your first time here, you should pick something out.”
“Oh, uh…alright.” She then began to look around,
As she did Ikkimaru picked up a documentary on the Whale Shark and looked it over, “Hm, I could get this to keep her entertained while I’m at college, or even if she’s bothering me.” He then looked around and wandered off to the other videos they had on display. He picked out a few different documentaries as well as a children’s magical girl anime which seemed to be based on the ocean and marine life. He had about five videos in total before Hakama’s voice came,
“I want this one,”
Ikkimaru turned and gasped to see Hakama holding a giant stuffed Whale Shark over her head. It was at least 150 cm long! “Wow, uh…that’s uh…” He huffed trying to think of how much something like this might cost. However, he did say she could pick out anything she wanted. “Uh…yeah, sure…” Ikkimaru said, still not totally in love with how much money he’d have to spend, “I’m gonna have to eat cheap fast food for a week…” They then went to the counter and the man at the register began to ring everything up. Ikkimaru felt his wallet die when he saw the price for the stuffed shark, “¥28,950?!?!?!?!!!!!!”
(About $262.50 USD)
Ikkimaru clenched his teeth before he sighed and then paid for everything before the two of them left. On the bus Ikkimaru groaned as he leaned forward with his face in his hands. “Oh my god…” He then sat up and turned to Hakama who had fallen asleep with the Whale Shark in her arms. As he looked at her all he could think about was how precious she looked when she was sleeping. She was sent to protect and take care of him, but if anything he was taking care of her. He then thought back to when he asked her about her birthday and he pulled out his phone and texted Ryuko.
Ikkimaru: You bake right? Like, you like doing it?
Ryuko: Yeah! Of course!
Ikkimaru: Well, I want to ask you something.
Ryuko: What is it?
Ikkimaru: I want you to make a cake for Hakama
Ikkimaru: With the whole craziness of her moving in we had almost forgotten about her birthday. It’s tomorrow.
Ryuko: Oh…uh a cake by tomorrow?
Ikkimaru: Yes, I’m going over to see you anyways! I can help you out! I also need to find her birthday present!
Ikkimaru: I know we’ve only had one date, but I’d appreciate it if you could help me!
Ryuko: Hmm…well, if you’re going to help me bake it then I suppose that’s fine.
Ryuko: Do you know what you want to get her for a present?
Ikkimaru paused as he looked at Hakama before looking back to his phone,
Ikkimaru: I don’t know yet unfortunately
Ryuko: That’s fine! I’m sure we can look around for something nice!
Ikkimaru: Thank you, are you sure you’re okay with this?
Ryuko: Yeah! I am!
Ryuko: However, you do owe me big time!
Ikkimaru: Yes! Of course! I’ll do anything you want!
Ryuko: Hmmm, okay! I’ll see you in a few?
Ikkimaru: Yes! I just need to drop Hakama off at home!
Ryuko: I see, how did she like the aquarium?
Ikkimaru: She loved it!
Ikkimaru: She got a massive shark which has put me into a financial hole…
Ryuko: Yeah, but since it’s her birthday tomorrow I’m sure she feels overjoyed that her brother would spend so much money on her ( ^ω^ )
Ikkimaru: I suppose
Ikkimaru: Anyways, let me drop her off and I’ll call you right away!
Ryuko: Alright! I look forward to it!
Ikkimaru: Me too
Ikkimaru sighed as he leaned back and put his phone away. He looked over at Hakama before he rested his head back on the seat. As the bus moved along the city Ikkimaru rubbed his neck, he could still feel the tight grasp Hakama had on him from her first night here. He knew it wasn’t intentional, but he couldn’t help but be deathly afraid of her, so he did the only thing his instincts would allow him to do and be as nice to her as possible. He eventually looked around as the bus then came to their neighborhood, he gave Hakama a gentle nudge as he whispered, “Hakama…hey, Hakama!”
Hakama gave a dull groan as she slowly opened her eyes, “What is it Ikki…?”
“We’re almost home, you should wake up.”
“You can lay back down and go to sleep once we get to the apartment.”
“Okay…” She said as she rubbed her eyes and stood up with him. She carried her giant shark with her as she followed behind Ikkimaru. They got off the bus and walked up the street before coming to the apartments. Ikkimaru unlocked the door and let Hakama in after they came up the stairs and over to his room. Hakama sauntered into the living room before Ikkimaru closed the door behind them.
“Hey, uh, Hakama.” He said to her as she stopped a few feet away from the couch, “You can sleep on my bed until I get back.”
“It’s your bed…”
“I know, but you can sleep on it until I get back.”
“Are you sure….?”
“Yes,” he said as he walked back to his room and opened the door for her. She walked across the bedroom before she dragged herself and her shark onto the bed. Ikkimaru turned and went to leave before Hakama said,
“What is it?”
“I had a lot of fun today…when I’m summoned I normally don’t do things like this…thanks.”
“Yeah, of course.” He then walked out of the bedroom and held his phone to his ear to call Ryuko. He looked around before he saw Zetsuketsu propped up against the wall near the television. Hakama had such a big fuss about leaving the sword here, and he wasn’t sure why. He then started to think about the types of weapons he studied in history as well as other media in Japan. He remembered watching an anime where a woman kept her sword hidden in her Wagasa.
“Hello?” Ryuko answered,
“Uh, hey,” Ikkimaru said,
“Hey,” she responded, “You okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” He said as he rubbed his face before saying, “I think I know what I want to get Hakama now.”