Chapter 12:

The One Who Can Kick Balls

Corruptions Are Best Exposed In The Autumn!

“Lily, please, can’t I apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Meyer today after work?”

I filled my water bottle from the tap and massaged my right shoulder. It was almost closing time, and the last customer had just left. Being a Wednesday, our shop was overfilled to the brim by people from opening until closing. A variety of folks - businesspeople, college students, elders - made a stop at our place today. I wiped some sweat off the side of my head and walked over to a trashcan next to where Lily stood.

“Fine, if it really makes you happier,” she complied, making me pump a fist into the air.

“T-Thanks!” I cheered. “I don’t know if I could ever make full amends by reversing the damage my father’s done, but…”

“Just shut up already!” Lily shouted, tying the trash bag next to me while I filled the can with a new one. “And also, if you’re so keen on apologizing on behalf of your father, then why didn’t you just come last night instead?”

“Ahaha,” I chuckled, struggling to answer with confidence.

Explaining Eleanor and Leo would just further complicate things...


“Less talking, more cleaning!” Julian hollered from the front counter.

“Y-Yes sir!” We both tightened our bodies and shouted back, and focused our attention on wiping down the espresso machines so we could depart earlier.

“Kai, are the snacks and baked goods ready for tomorrow?” Lora poked her head out of the storage room after putting Sesame into his cage.

“Oh, shit,” I muttered. “No, I still have to finish making them…”

Lora sighed and closed her eyes. “That’s fine, please make them before you leave. I’ll leave an extra pair of keys on the table. Be sure to close and lock the shop after.”

“Sounds good.”

Lily glanced over at me. She had finished wiping everything down and was already wearing her black coat, ready to leave. “Forgot a task, huh?” She teased, boasting a grinning, smug face.

“It’s fine, this is what I get for being so distracted from work recently,” I answered, taking out the baking tray.

“Oh, and by the way…” Lily reached behind her and pulled out my red scarf. “I found something falling out of your scarf.”

In her hands was what seemed like a small slip of paper.

“Huh?” I paused and walked over. “Wait, that’s…”

“Yeah, a ticket to tonight’s women's soccer league match. I didn’t know you were into this sorta stuff…” Her smug face returned, and she brought a hand to her mouth, holding in a laugh.

“N-No, I…” Before I could reject her tease, my eyes gazed at the ticket for another second; it finally hit me: Did Rin sneak in a ticket to her match?!

Today was rather warm, so I didn’t bother wearing my scarf in the morning. Instead, I shoved the scarf in its folded state into my backpack before coming to work. Thank goodness Lily found the ticket when it fell out of my bag.

“I’m just interested in sports, that’s all!” I swiped the ticket from Lily’s hand, surprising her.

“Woah, I didn’t know you wanted to watch women play that badly, perv.”

I shoved the ticket into my back pockets and continued setting up the baking tray, lining it up with parchment paper to place the cookie dough.

“I’m not a perv! I just used to follow the sport a lot.”

“Yeah, yeah… anyways, are you still stopping by our place after you’re done?”

“Yeah, you can head out first,” I replied, putting the last ball of dough on the tray. “I’ll text you when I’m at your place.”

“Just ring,” Lily walked past me, and headed for the exit. “Although I don’t know how my parents will react to-”

Her voice drifted to a halt. After putting the tray into the pre-heated oven, I strolled to the counter. “Lily? Why did you stop talking-”

“Elias?! Why the fuck are you here?!”

Standing near the door with his ombre hair brushing the hanging bells above was Elias in his usual blue blazer. His golden chain necklace sparkled from the light of the setting sun through the window.

“I only came here to apologize to you,” Elias answered.

“I don’t need your apology!” Lily shouted, crossing her arms in anger.

“Wait, please listen,” Elias tucked his hands into his pockets, and looked down. “I shouldn’t have followed you to that dude’s place the other week.”

“Uh-huh,” Lily glared up at him, unimpressed by his apology thus far. “That’s it?”


A brief silence filled the air; Elias looked away with his bangs shadowing over his eyes.


Lifting one arm and pointing a finger at me back at the counter -

“I demand you leave this job at once and stop talking to that guy!” He screamed, causing both Lily and I to twitch. “I am no longer with Rin, so we can start dating properly this- Aaaaaccckkk!”

I’ve never seen such a strong stomach punch before. I shivered while watching Elias fall to the ground, clenching his stomach in pain. I’m never getting on Lily’s bad side ever again…

“You little shit, I said I no longer want to date you!”

“B-But I thought you needed money!” Elias shrieked while rolling on the floor.

“I don’t care about that anymore!” Lily answered with her hands still clenched. “Helping my family by dating rich arrogant guys like you was idiotic of me!”

“T-Then…!” Elias, with his butt still glued to the ground and one arm grasping his stomach, pointed at me. “You’re dating a poor man such as him?! I saw that filthy apartment he lives in, and he’s in millions of debt due to his father!”

“I’m not dating him, but why do you care?!” Lily shouted back. Her roar made even the bells jingle. “Please leave, stop annoying us!”

Elias stood up and scoffed. His eyes darted my way; I could feel a piercing menace from meters away across the room. “Kai Darak, you’re better off focusing on paying off that debt of yours, rather than pry on my women.”

Pry?! I almost dropped the container of leftover muffin batter I was holding. On his women?!

“I bid you all a farewell.”

Without turning back, Elias finally left the shop, slamming the door behind him. Lily dropped to her knees with her palms resting against the floor.

“Kai, I’m sorry,” she muttered. “This is largely my fault.”

I paced over to her and held out my hand. “No, don’t worry about it. Anyways, since the muffins are going to be done in a bit, do you mind if we just go back to your place together later so I can talk to your parents?”

Lily nodded and took my hand, allowing me to help her up. We both made our way to the kitchen, and I wrapped the last batch of muffins in saran wrap once they finished baking. I then followed her back to her apartment, and believe me, my knees were probably bruised by the end of my apologizing. Lily’s parents, as intimidating as they appeared, did nothing but sigh, and tell me that what’s done was done. However, I promised them that I’d somehow fix their situation, in which they jokingly agreed.

I’m serious, you know.

Excusing myself afterward instead of going in for tea, I dashed to the nearest bus stop so I could catch Rin’s soccer match, which was supposed to start in half an hour. The bus ride itself was bumpy as usual and overflowed with businesspeople headed home after a long day in the office.

Once my stop arrived, I hopped off the bus and headed straight to the stadium: a massive, thirty-thousand-seat arena boasting a field that could be used for both soccer and football. It featured large rectangular lights at each corner, which flashed the emerald-green field so brightly that one would think that it was daytime. Entering the front doors with my red scarf wrapped around half my face to hide my identity, I still couldn’t dodge piercing glares darting my way given the crowds of people. Shaking my head to lose the various eyes which drilled me from all sides, I found my seat in a jiffy, and watched what was left of the game.

What transpired afterward was what made this night truly memorable.

“Rin!” My heart thumped so fast and loud that it was like a gorilla beating its chest. After waiting for almost an hour behind the stadium grounds, Rin had finally emerged from the backdoors of the changing room.

“K-Kai!” Rin froze, stunned to see me. A gentle breeze ruffled her hair, dragging some strands across her face. “You… really did use my ticket.”

“Your match was great, I saw your assist,” I added while continuing to walk over. “You did it with the outside of your foot too to get the curve on that cross, that was sick!”

“Oh, um, thank you,” Rin pulled a hand against her chest. “Our stadium is called the ‘Park of Life,’ which was coined by the founder of our soccer club.”

“That’s an amazing name. I certainly did see a lot of life in your team today.”

A brief silence followed, as both of us were probably trying to come up with something to say.

“And, sorry about the news about my father,” I glanced down at my feet, too embarrassed to make eye contact. “I didn’t mean to keep it a secret from you, I was planning to tell you yesterday when we hung out, but after seeing your face like that…”

My vision blurred, and the cold wind brushed against my face, ruining my hair as well. Tears were forming in my eyes, but I didn’t deserve to be the one crying.

“Don’t worry about it,” Rin gazed down, her eyes were also somewhat watery, and I could tell she was still hurt. “You weren’t the one who did anything, after all.”

I felt a plate of weights lift from my shoulders, and my heart thumped louder by the second. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Well, on behalf of my old man, I hope to make it up to you somehow, even if just a little bit,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief. “Anyways, I shouldn’t hold you up any longer. I’ll be skedaddling.”

Turning around, I began walking away, unable to say anything else. After all this, how could I be so selfish as to ask for her number? I thought, squeezing my eyes shut in shame as I departed. The cold air brought every goosebump on my skin to life, and my red scarf, which covered my mouth, wasn’t enough to block my puffs of warm breath. Despite it being warm in the morning, the weather had pulled a reversal by nighttime.



My walking came to a halt; there was a tug against my lower back preventing me from moving. I turned around, and sure enough -


Rin Miya was pulling the lower back of my jacket with her head down. She stood almost lifeless, but the pull on my jacket was strong.

“Y-You…were going to ask me something, right?” she asked.

“Ah, yeah…” I blushed. Her prying appearance was a Godsend - her face was as pink as mine, but her long, burgundy hair dancing in the wind looked like that of a mermaid. “I know it feels improper to ask for your number, but since I keep forgetting…”

Rin glanced up, with the flush of pink on her face fading away. “Wait, that’s it?”

I stared at her in confusion while another flow of wind glided between us.

“Was there something else I was supposed to-”

“Haha,” Rin began to chuckle and smiled at me. “No, nothing, looks like you did forget. Anyways, here’s my number.”