Chapter 6:

Weekend

Hope-Colored Spring


Flip.

A quiet Saturday morning in the Oume household. Kaori and Tetsu are downstairs doing the laundry and watching TV respectively. Katya is out with her friends.

Flip.

In Koutarou's room, the only noises are the ticking of the wall clock and the sound of the book pages getting flipped every few seconds.

Flip.

Samie is lying on her stomach on Koutarou's bed and Koutarou is sitting beside her engrossed in a novel he's reading with his back on the wall and his legs rested on Samie's back.

After running out of pages, Samie closes the manga she's reading and tosses it aside.

"Huh?" Samie looks for the next volume but can't seem to find it anywhere. "Kou-chan, where's volume 22?"

Koutarou looks at what she was reading. "It's not out yet. 21 is the latest volume." Then he goes back to reading his novel.

"Are you kidding me?" Samie sighs. "It was in a good part, too." She looks at Koutarou's bookshelf. "Do you have other interesting battle manga here?"

"None. I don't read action series. I only have that one because I like the author."

"Aww," Samie groans. She flips around to face the ceiling and stretches her arms and feet.

Suddenly, Koutarou becomes twitterpated. Giggling while squeezing the book he is holding and stomping his feet left and right repeatedly.

"Let me guess, a kissing scene again?" Samie looks at him unsurprised.

"Not yet. They just hugged," Koutarou replies and continues reading the book with a smile on his face.

"Getting excited over a hug," Samie mockingly remarks.

"They've been through a lot of hardships and they finally overcame everything! If you don't find that endearing, you're heartless," Koutarou defends.

"Yes, yes. Okay. I get it." Samie reaches for a pillow. "I can hug you whenever you want, you know," she says with blushing cheeks as she hugs the pillow covering her mouth.

"We've never gone through any hardships so that's not romantic at all," Koutarou's emotionless response.

Samie heaves out a sigh. She covers her face with a pillow.

"Kou-chan doesn't love me anymore! Kou-chan doesn't love me anymore!" Samie screams while faking a cry. Her voice is distorted by the pillow.

Koutarou clicks his tongue. "Shut up. I'm trying to read here."

Samie pulls down the pillow showing her pout to Koutarou which he ignores. She then tries to sit up. Koutarou lifts his feet to allow her to move.

"So bored," she sits right beside him and rests her head on his shoulder.

"Then why don't you go out with your friends instead of bothering me here?"

"I like bothering you here."

"I see."

Flip.

She looks at the page Koutarou is on. A bunch of words she didn't bother reading at all. Her eyes start to droop and after a few minutes, they're completely closed.

-----

She feels a cold fluid running down the side of her mouth. Samie slowly opens her eyes and realizes she dozed off. She looks at the clock and sees she it's been 4 hours.

"Ah! I'm sorry," she quickly wipes her drool off her face and Koutarou's shirt.

"Don't worry, I'm used to it," Koutarou places a bookmark on the page he's on. "By the way, Danzo called. He said he's done playing baseball with Ren and Satou. He's at Yoichi's place right now asking me to go there. You coming?"

"Yeah, sure," Samie tidies up her clothes.

Koutarou stands up and heads to the door. "Hurry up then, or I'm leaving you."

"Okay! Wait up!"

-----

"That Koutarou," Danzo is leaning back staring at his phone. "He said he's coming but it's been two hours already." He sits right in front of the kitchen where Yoichi and his father, Goro, are working.

Goro is a big, well-built guy with a deep, loud voice. While he looks like a yakuza boss, he is gentle and has a big heart. He jokes a lot and lets out a thunderous laugh after almost every sentence.

"Why are you even meeting up here?" Yoichi asks him while wiping the table. "You'll get in our way."

His father, Goro, laughs as he hands Danzo a bowl of food. "Don't be so uptight. It's not like there's any customer anyway."

"Wow! Thanks, Ojisan!" Danzo takes the bowl.

"Besides," Goro adds. "Why don't you go out and play with your friends instead of shutting yourself in here, Yoichi?"

"I'm not shutting myself in. I'm helping."

"I told you I'm gonna close this diner down sooner or later. You just go do what you want."

"I'm not gonna let you close this. I'll inherit it and keep working here until I die."

"You keep bothering me here day in and day out when you should be out chasing women instead. At this rate, you won't get a wife, you know. You better give your mother and I a granddaughter." Goro laughs.

"Back to work, pops."

"What work? The place is already sparkling clean." Goro laughs.

The front door opens.

"Welcome!" Goro greets loudly.

"Ojisan! Good evening," Koutarou enters.

"Good evening, Goro-san," Samie follows behind him.

"Koutarou!" Danzo calls. "What took you so long?"

"My bad, my bad," Koutarou apologizes.

"Come sit, you two. What do you want to eat? It's in the house," Goro says with a big smile.

"Pops, we're a diner, not a charity," Yoichi annoyingly remarks.

"Nothing wrong with it once in a while. Besides, they're your friends."

Koutarou and Samie proceed to pick what they want. Goro prepares the ingredients and starts cooking right away.

"I'll do that, pops." Just before Yoichi can help with the cooking, his mother, Yuna, enters the kitchen.

"Good evening, Yuna-san," Samie greets her. Koutarou and Danzo follow in unison. "Obasan, good evening!"

"Good evening," she greets them with a smile then turns to Yoichi. "Yoichi, would you mind buying some radishes?" Yuna politely asks.

"Okay, ma." Without hesitation, Yoichi obeys his mother's request and heads out.

Right after Yoichi leaves, Yuna walks up closer to the three kids. "I hope Yoichi isn't causing you much trouble."

"Not at all, Obasan. He's a nice guy," Danzo replies.

"That's actually what worries me," Yuna touches her cheek with one hand. "That kid is too nice and obedient, I'm worried about his future. Not to mention all he does is help out here instead of living his life like a normal high schooler."

"That reminds me," Koutarou interrupts. "Why is Yoichi so passionate about inheriting this diner, anyway? Ojisan and Obasan don't seem to be forcing him to do so."

Yuna puts down her hands and sigh. There's a moment of silence.

"You see," Goro starts talking in a softer tone than his usual voice while he cooks. "Yuna and I have always dreamed of starting our own restaurant. We promised that no matter what happens, we will start a business after we get married."

Danzo, Koutarou, and Samie all listen attentively to Goro.

"We built this diner as soon as Yoichi was born. We've been through a lot of challenges and difficulties just trying to keep this afloat. Yoichi knows that very well. He has seen us struggle to keep this business running."

Goro turns around carrying two bowls. He places it in front of Koutarou and Samie. He leans over the counter and continues his story.

"That kid Yoichi, he felt as if he's obligated to inherit this diner. Since then he insisted that he wants to help out here as much as he can," Goro's sad smile turns into a frown. "We never wanted him to take over this diner. We wanted him to live his own life. Enjoy his youth. Pursue his own dreams."

"I think you shouldn't worry, Ojisan," Koutarou says. "Yoichi is the happiest when he's here helping out. Maybe he sees this diner as a twin brother or something."

"That's right, Ojisan," Danzo joins. "His dream is to continue Ojisan and Obasan' dreams, and we can tell that it is what he genuinely wants to do. We guarantee it."

Yuna and Goro are surprised by their comments.

"At the very least, I'm happy that he has such great friends," Goro smiles. "Alright!" He's back in his usual loud voice. "Who wants seconds? Eat up until you're full. It's all in the house." Goro laughs.

"Really? Yes!!" Koutarou and Danzo celebrate.

Yuna chuckles. "Let me pour you guys some tea."

Yoichi comes back carrying a bag of radishes.

"You guys are still here? Hurry up and go home already," he says as he walks inside to hand the bad to Yuna.

"But Ojisan said we can have seconds!" Danzo complains.

"You're abusing someone else's kindness. Go home."

"Ehhh? But I'm waiting for Obasan's tea." Koutarou droops on the table.

The back and forth banter between the three boys continues.

Goro glances at them and smiles.

-----

Koutarou and Samie walk home after such a feast.

"Ughh. I'm so full," Koutarou is rubbing his stomach.

"I lost count of how many seconds you ate," Samie says. "See, it's already nightfall when you guys finished."

"In the first place, we got there two hours late because you were sleeping!"

"Wha-- Two hours?! That long?! Why didn't you wake me up then?"

Koutarou looks at her then looks away. "Well... you know...," he scratches his chin. "You were having a nice nap so I didn't want to wake you up."

Samie's cheeks turn red. She can't help but smile.

"Ehhh?" She clings to Koutarou's arm with a smug look. "Are you sure you weren't just enjoying watching my sleeping face, Kou-chan?" She giggles.

"Who would enjoy watching drool and snot coming out of your face?"

"Hey! There was no snot!"

"Yes, there was."

"You're lying!"

They continue walking the long dark road together until they reach home.

James K.
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Totomam
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