Chapter 10:

Don't Hold Back

A Love So Sweet, I Get Confused

Karasu and Emi sat in the booth at the farthest reach of the coffee shop. Karasu sat staring at picture on Emi’s phone from her day girl’s day with Tomo and ‘Hana’. His hand started to shake the more he looked at it. “She looks-”

“Just like mom,” Emi sad, her tone low as she looked at the table. She reached a hand up, grasping the shirt at her chest. “I freaked out so much seeing her, I couldn’t speak at first.”

“I mean,” Karasu scoffed. “Even the name is the same. Did your mom or dad have another kid they gave up for adoption?”

Emi shook her head, deciding to take her phone back so she could look at the photo again. Looking at ‘Hana’ made her feel nostalgic. Her hair, name and even the smile was everything like her mom. leaning over, Karasu grabbed hold of the back of Emi’s hand. When she lost her mom, it hit her harder than most people and strained the relationship she had with Mitsu. It was only in the past few years Emi had started to finally to properly grieve. ‘Hana’ could potentially set her back. “Ah there you are ‘Hana’,” Akio piped up from behind the counter as the bell at the top of the entrance rang.

Emi scurried to get the phone back into her purse. She and Karasu pulled out of the booth, before Emi could run off behind the counter, Karasu have her a kiss on the cheek and advised her he would pick her up after her shift finished. ‘Hana’ gave Emi a wave as she went behind the counter to release Akio from his shift. When Emi only gave a small gave back, it hurt a little bit. Was something off with ‘Hana’? Something that Emi would use to deter Akio’s interest and push him into the arms of Tomo? “Ready to go,” Akio asked with a big smile.

“Oh, of course,” ‘Hana’ responded, as he walked away, he watched in the corner of his eye as Emi perked up speaking to other customers. “Does Emi not like me?”

Akio was surprised at the question. He didn’t think ‘Hana’ was the type of care about what others think about them. “I think she likes you more then you think,” Akio assured, taking ‘Hana’s’ hand in a light touched. “Don’t worry. Let’s just enjoy this date.”

Date? ‘Hana’ blushed. Instinctively his hand fitting into Akio’s and grasping onto it tightly. Is this dating? “I’ve never really dated anyone before,” He spoke up.

Akio hummed; he wasn’t expecting such a confession. Looking around, he noting the park was close by. Not what he initially had in mind but maybe he needed to slow down a bit. He pulled ‘Hana’ into the direction of the park.

At the park, it was fairly quiet for an afternoon on a weekday but it set a nice ambiance for what Akio needed to discuss with ‘Hana’. “Why don’t you get a seat on the swings?” Akio’s smile was bright as he spoke, making ‘Hana’s’ chest tighten and face heat up. “I’ll grab a couple of cold drinks.”

‘Hana’ nodded. Getting to the swings, ‘Hana’ pulled at the skirt, to make sure it didn’t get caught at the chains as he sat down. The sound of the chains and the laughter of the children that were there left a nostalgic feeling. A small tear ran down his cheek, the memories of his mom and sister with him at the park flooding back.

Being brought back to the presence from a hand cupping his cheek. He looked up seeing Akio standing above, the sun light illuminating his presence. Akio used his thump to wipe a cheek and ‘Hana’ fell into the touch. The loose of Akio’s hand, almost made ‘Hana’ whimper. Earning to keep the warm safe feeling of being held for a bit longer. Akio gave him the drink and sat in the swing beside. “If you want to talk about anything,” Akio started to say. “I’m here to listen.”

‘Hana’ gulped. Where did he start? The idea that he was dating Akio? The idea of his own sister not liking him? Then the thing he wanted to speak about most just splurged from his lips; “I miss my mom.”

“Your mom?” Akio repeated.

‘Hana’ nodded, looking down and playing with the rim of the can. The coldness of the condensation tickling his fingertips. “I lost my mom just before I entered high school,” he started to explain. His voice sounding horse as if he was about to cry further. “My sister and I grew distant and I’ve never truly let myself date. I wanted to bring back the perfect person for my mom. Someone who my mom could be best friends with.” The more he spoke, the more the realisation of why he never took the leap with Tomo started to settle in. Tears started to fall and to hid his face, he leant over, hiding his face in his hands, the can resting on his forehead. “If mom isn’t there, what was the point in dating? She can’t ever meet them.”

Akio leant over, resting a hand on ‘Hana’s’ back as she continued to cry. The cry wasn’t loud enough to get the attention of the few people who were there but enough to make Akio worry as to how easily ‘Hana’ just broke. It was clear to him that ‘Hana’ hadn’t properly grieved their loses.

‘Hana’ wasn’t sure how much time passed as he sat back up, straightening his back and daring to wipe a tear away with the end of his sleeve. “I’m sorry,” He hiccupped.

Akio shook his head. “It’s okay,” he assured, rubbing small circles on ‘Hana’s back for a smoothing motion. “We all need to cry every now and then.”

“I hadn’t realised how much I’ve held back,” ‘Hana’ laughed, feeling embarrassed.

“Well,” Akio stood up, leaning over and hovering beside ‘Hana’ so his lips where just by their cheek. “You don’t need to hold back with me anymore.”

With that ‘Hana’ gasped, feeling Akio’s lips against his cheek.