Before heading for the castle, Ken advised Naoki that he just needed to go to the restroom for a moment. The other waited for him outside while he went in. Inside the restroom, Ken took out his phone and contacted the tourist department to inquire about the history of that place. He was really determined to impress the other boy so that, as much as possible, he wanted to make this first date the best for the two of them.
After he finished talking with the phone operator, he took out the paper that Aiko tucked in his pocket to read some more. The crumpled paper stated:
Number 3: Make sure you end your date with a perfect kissing scene and nice background. Senpai, ganbatte ne~
Ken’s squinty eyes opened wide. “Alright! This is the part that I’ve been waiting for. Wait, that’s it?” He muttered. He flipped the paper to check if there was anything written on the back but only found random drawings of guys kissing. “Ooh, that girl. I’m exchanging my best friend’s and his wife’s photos just for these three measly pieces of advise and some stupid drawings.” He felt like he was a wronged child. He crumpled the paper and threw it into the bin.
Outside, he saw Naoki happily checking on the souvenirs he bought. Naoki sensed his arrival so he tucked the items into his backpack and looked at Ken with a slight frown: “What took you?”
“Ah, ha ha, I think I ate the same food as Maki. My stomach hurts,” Ken explained as he scratched the back of his head.
Not far away from the two, a girl in disguise, wearing a brown coat, a black cap, and sunglasses, was spying on them. “Ken-senpai, why do you have to talk about me?” She said, then she tapped her forehead in dismay.
“Want to buy something to drink for your diarrhea?” Naoki earnestly asked.
Ken did not expect that Naoki would say these words. Usually, the other boy would scold him for random things, just like a nagging wife. “Aww, you do care for me, don’t you?” he happily asked then ruffled Naoki’s hair.
“I was just offering, not that I care about you,” Naoki dodged Ken’s squinty eyes. There was an obvious blush on his ears.
“Waaah~~ Naoki-kun is soo kawaii! I didn’t know he blushes like Kichirō-chan, too,” Aiko eagerly said as she wiggled like a worm.
“Okay, I’ll believe you. Let’s go. I heard that they have a cut-off time,” Ken smiled and acted like a gentleman in front of Naoki.
Naoki looked at Ken. He was obviously baffled by the sudden change in Ken’s temperament. “So you do know how to be normal, Ken-senpai,” he said.
“I can be serious and tame if I want something,” the corners of Ken’s mouth curved up to a smile. “Let’s go then,” he added.
It was almost four in the afternoon when they arrived at their destination. They could finally see the towering keep of Wakayama atop a small hill as they stood before the castle’s gate. Without further ado, Ken started proceeding with his ‘carefully-orchestrated’ plan. “It’s beautiful, right? What stood here before was Ōta Castle. It was once the fortress of the Saika Ikki  before it was captured by Toyotomi Hideyoshi . It was destroyed during World War II but was reconstructed afterwards out of concrete,” he nodded saying this, as if he was very pleased with how knowledgeable he was.
(「雑賀一揆」based in Ōta in the Kii Province [now part of Wakayama Prefecture] of Honshū, were one of many ikkō-ikki groups in feudal Japan led by Suzuki Magoichi, better known as Saika Magoichi. In particular, the members of the Saika ikki, along with the monks of the Negoro-ji, were renowned for their expertise with the arquebus and for their expert gunsmiths and foundries. )
(「豊臣 秀吉」, March 17, 1537 – September 18, 1598 – was a preeminent daimyō, warrior, general, samurai, and politician of the Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan’s second “great unifier.”)
Naoki stared at him as he continued acting like an all-knowing guru. Naoki was rather amused by Ken’s recent actions. After listening to what Ken said, Naoki laughingly said: “You know, Senpai, you don’t have to please me by saying all of this. I appreciate that you’re adjusting for me, but I’d prefer it if you would act like yourself.”
“Are you sure?!?” Ken asked.
“Then why are you always throwing a fit when I’m being myself?” Ken inquired further. He was really curious as to why Naoki was saying these words.
Naoki touched his chin as he pondered over the right words to say: “Let’s just say that I don’t want others to see that I like your idiotic side,” he shyly covered his face with his hands after saying this.
Ken was speechless. Two times in a row, he did not expect hearing these kinds of words from the other boy. He drew close Naoki, wrapped his arm around Naoki’s waist, then pulled him close. He gazed at the other boy’s dodging eyes. “You like the shameless me?” He said, then passionately kissed Naoki.
Naoki was in a daze. He was stunned from this unexpected scene. What he only knew right now was that the warmth coming from Ken’s lips made him so weak that he almost fell on his knees. He unconsciously closed his eyes, not wanting to wake up from this dream. He was intoxicated by the mixed feelings he was struggling with at the moment.
Finally, Naoki woke up from his temporary daze. He broke away from Ken’s warm embrace and lightly slapped the other boy’s cheek: “So shameless! I didn’t say I like your shamelessness. I said I like how idiotic you are,” he humphed, crossed his arms, turned away from the other boy. He did not want him to see how flustered he was.
Ken held on to the cheek that Naoki slapped. It was not painful, it was just that he was stunned. “Maki said this will work,” he muttered. “Let’s get inside. I’ll pay for the admission fee. Please wait for me here,” he listlessly said.
Naoki just raised his right hand as a sign that he heard him. He was still blushing so he could not face the other boy. Somehow, he felt bad about slapping the other boy, even if it was not that hard.
After they had gotten admission to the place, they took a walk around the castle grounds. Since it was summer, they could not take joy of viewing the cherry blossoms or the autumn leaves. Still, the green trees, small pond, and waterfall made this visit a worthwhile. Nishi-no-Maru Garden  was truly a work of art. After taking a short walk, they visited the museum within the vicinity to check on some artwork. Ken could see it in Naoki’s eyes that he was very pleased with this trip. Kichirō was right about what Naoki likes. Although Ken felt victorious with his plan, he still could not take his mind off of what Naoki did earlier.
(「西之丸庭園」built by Yorinobu Tokugawa in the early 17th century. The garden has a pleasant pond, a waterfall and is known for its autumn leaves. )
“Too bad we didn’t bring Aniki here. He’d surely love this place,” Naoki casually talked.
“Yeah right. It’s so peaceful and boring here that I want to sleep,” he muttered to himself.
“Did you say something, Senpai?”
Ken smiled wryly and then said: “Ha ha, nothing. I just remembered something. Want to go on top of the tower?”
“Mochiron da yo!” (Definitely!)
The two then headed for the tower. Meanwhile, someone just arrived at the castle entrance.
“Waaa~~ I hope I’m not too late!” Aiko cried. “Admission for one please,” she asked.
“I’m sorry but we’re already closed. Please do visit again next time,” the attendant replied.
“Waaa~~~ You can’t catch me!” She cried as she dashed away.
After reminiscing about all of this. Naoki finally fell asleep with a smile on his face. Tomorrow, a new journey for him with Ken will embark.
To be continued…
Usagi notes : The summer outing arc finally over. Back to the Miyuki arc and this will be the ending. Hue hue~~
*** Wakayama Castle「和歌山城」