(Title – 昔なじみ – Mukashinajimi – Old Friend)
Usagi notes: Behold, the mighty Kuro. Lol
After a few weeks of being together, the two, together with their ‘son’ Kuro, lived peacefully under the same roof. It was almost February and the two were still adjusting to their married-like life. At times, they would visit Kichirō’s family, who lived ten minutes away from them. Most of the time, Shūichirō would come visit them at their house and would play with the couple. Kichirō’s parents were totally clueless about their relationship because Ryū had his way of sweet-talking them, most especially Kichirō’s mom.
Kichirō would always do most of the chores. He did the cleaning, laundry, and also taking care of Kuro, while Ryū did the cooking and dishwashing. Even though he had the most tasks, he was okay with it as long as he got the chance to eat Ryū’s crafts. It was as if there was some sort of spell or magic potion added to the food that got Kichirō so bewitched. Well, it was indeed way better than the junk and fast food that he used to eat!
One day, while the two were on the road to their university, Kichirō, who was seated in the passenger’s seat, looked excitedly at Ryū with his big radiant brown eyes. Ryū, on the other hand, could feel the weight of the other’s stares.
“I was thinking…” Kichirō was obviously about to ask something bizarre from the other boy again.
Ryū continued driving and gave him a quick glance. He hummed in response.
“You see…” Kichirō hesitated. “Eto~ I wanted to learn how to drive… Can…” he bowed his head down low as he shyly asked.
Without hesitating, Ryū responded: “I’ll teach you how to drive, but under one condition…” He held on to Kichirō’s hand with his free hand as the other held on to the steering wheel.
Kichirō looked up at him with a bright glimmer emerging from his eyes, then he eagerly responded: “Yes, what is it?” He was ready to do everything.
“I will still be the one driving for you and no buts,” Ryū intended to end that conversation.
Kichirō knitted his brows and with a questioning look, he asked, regardless of what Ryū just stated: “But why?”
Ryū rolled his eyes and heaved a deep sigh, yet he still explained: “Because I’m the seme.”
Kichirō tilted his head and pressed on: “So what?”
Despite the fact that he was already irritated with Kichirō’s curiosity streaks, he still answered: “It’s my responsibility to take care of the wife. Now, do you want chocolate or strawberry cake later?” He really intended to change the topic.
“I want strawberry cake, please!” Kichirō rubbed his hands as he happily answered. This simpleton already forgot what they were talking about earlier.
It was a fine day with azure skies, the kind that Kichirō liked. Although it was around ten degrees Celsius at the moment, it was still a little warmer than the usual temperature and the sun was shining brightly. Kichirō fixed his scarf and prepared his bag as they drew near their university. “I’ll see you later, Ryū. I’ll go meet with Ai-chan first,” he said as he got out of the car.
“Wait,” Ryū stopped him.
“What’s wrong?” Kichirō got back in the car again and asked Ryū.
“Come closer,” Ryū beckoned. Kichirō drew near him. In the twinkling of the eye, he felt the other’s warm lips press against his forehead. “I’ll see you later. Let’s eat lunch together, Ki-tan,” Ryū said as he ruffled Kichirō’s hair.
Kichirō’s heart itched and felt his face became warmer. “Hey, I had a hard time fixing my hair. Ano~ I’ll see you later, too,” he responded with a soft voice.
Kichirō got out of the car again as he waved his hand to say goodbye. Ryū continued driving toward the parking lot.
It was Wednesday and Ryū’s class was an hour earlier than Kichirō. Every day, they would go to class together and go home together, despite their schedule differences. Just when Kichirō was on his way to the library to meet Aiko, he came across Ken and Naoki, who were obviously bickering again. Ken happily waved at him while Naoki dashed toward him.
Kichirō nodded in response to Ken, but what bothered him was seeing Naoki rushing toward him with a frown on his face. “Ki-kun, ohayō. What’s up?” He greeted.
“Aniki, help me. That idiot wants me to take him back to Sapporo. I can’t forget what he did last summer vacation. It was a complete mess. I don’t want to bring him back to my family’s house anymore,” he frantically said with a distressed look on his face.
Kichirō looked at Ken, who was on the balcony, standing casually, waiting for them to finish talking, then he looked back at Naoki with his lips pursed: “Ano, what did he do this time?”
Naoki was about to explain but he suddenly stopped when he was about to do so. He blushed then hung his head low. In the end, he sighed then dispiritedly said: “Never mind. Where are you off to?” 3
Kichirō squinted his eyes but did not dare to ask more: “You know, the usual, the library.”
Naoki let out an ‘oh’ then added: “Can I go with you? Take me anywhere far from Ken, please.” 8
Kichirō did not have enough time to think about it because Ken suddenly popped out beside them: “Are the dear wives done with their daily chitchat? If there’s nothing urgent for you guys to talk about, I’ll kidnap my Naoki for now. Sorry Kichi! He he.” Ken chuckled. He wrapped his arm around Naoki’s shoulders then aimed to walk on the other way, but he stopped midway when Kichirō spoke.
“… Ken, don’t you have class today? It’s already 9:08. I thought you’re in the same class with Ryū? He already went to class earlier,” Kichirō curiously asked.
Ken looked back and had his mouth agape. From his usual complexion, he turned to green then suddenly became pale all over: “Fuck! I forgot about my schedule!” He broke into cold sweats and hurriedly fixed his sling bag. He patted Naoki’s back and dashed toward their classroom, which was in the building next to the library.
What happened last summer vacation remained a mystery to Kichirō. He never dared asking Ken nor Naoki about it. He just laughed seeing this unusual harmony between the two. Sometimes, he even wondered if he was a fudanshi because he gets too excited seeing his two friends interact, but he shook this thought out of his head and reminded himself: “No, I’ll never be a fudanshi, ha ha!”
They went home early at seven in the evening. There was not much basketball practice since the big competition last December had already ended. Even though their school lost the match, their coach was still optimistic about other competitions and the match for this year.
That night, Fumiko invited the two over for dinner. “You’re getting thinner and thinner, Kichirō. Are you eating enough, and do you eat on time? Look at Ryū. He looks so healthy and handsome. You should learn a thing or two from him,” Fumiko welcomed Kichirō with a scolding.
Kichirō pursed his lips and tried coaxing his mom, so he embraced her: “Okāsan, I’m studying hard for my future. I want to become a good nurse like you. Who knows, I may even become a doctor just like Otōsan. I’m sorry if I can’t eat on time. I’m just too busy,” he said as he looked at his mother’s frowning face, then he added: “What’s for dinner anyway?”
Ryū, with his emotionless face spoke: “You’re not eating? How come I always see you eating junk food?”
Fumiko harrumphed but then responded: “I told you not to eat junk food. Good thing Ryū’s here to tell me the truth. I cooked mizutaki  today. You should eat a lot of healthy food. Don’t be so picky and look for something that’s not here.”
( Mizutaki is a Japanese dish similar to nabe. In this hot pot meal, vegetables, fish and meat is cooked in an unseasoned broth, instead of a soy or miso based one, like in a nabe. The pot is usually filled with veggies such as mushrooms, cabbage, and beansprouts. Mizutaki was also originally the local dish of Fukuoka, but became widely used across the country for its delicious flavor.)
Kichirō felt like his spirit was about to leave his body. He said in his mind: “Damn you, Ryū. Why do you have to let my Okāsan know about that?!?”
As he stared blankly, Fumiko continued ranting: “I should have left you in an orphanage had I known you would be such a pain. If only Ryū was my son. I would be much prouder.”
The words that came out of his mom’s mouth just passed from one ear to another. He was already used to her rants. Though she could be so harsh, he knew that his mom never meant them. What bothered him most was what Ryū said after.
“Don’t worry, Obasan. You can treat me like your own son. Can I call you, Okāsan, too?” The shamelessness of this devil finally showed up. 1
As Fumiko was serving the dishes, she smiled at Ryū and said: “Oh, I would be glad to have you as my son. I wish I could marry off my son to you… If only he was a girl. Okay, enough talking. Let’s eat. Itadakimasu.”
Kichirō, who was seated beside Ryū, was frowning as he secretly pinched Ryū. Ryū looked at him and saw that he was trying to tell him something but chose to ignore it and just smugly smiled at him. Shūichirō who was observing them just chuckled.
“Hmm, Shūichirō. No laughing while eating,” Fumiko scolded.
“Sorry, Okāsan. I just remembered something funny,” Shūichirō reasoned. He looked at his big brother and grinned at him.
Kichirō rolled his eyes and just continued eating. He chose to ignore the people around him and went on picking the food that he liked to eat. Ryū noticed that Kichirō was segregating the vegetables. With his own chopsticks, he took the vegetables and gave Kichirō more meat. Fumiko noticed this and scolded Ryū, but with a much gentler tone: “Ryū, dear, let him eat the vegetables. He needs that to stay healthy.” She then squinted her eyes at Kichirō and scolded with her usual tone: “As for you, I told you not to be picky. Eat everything that’s in your bowl and don’t leave a single vegetable.” She then took more vegetables and placed it in Kichirō’s bowl.
Kichirō looked green and looked like he was about to vomit: “Okāsan, no. I don’t like vegetables,” he wailed.
Akihiko, who was observing them cleared his throat and chuckled. He tried changing the topic: “Kichirō, son, your mother and I are planning to visit our relatives in Osaka this weekend. Want to come with us? You can also invite your friends. Ryū, want to come?”
Without thinking about it, Ryū and Kichirō nodded.
That weekend, the entire family, together with Ryū arrived in Shin-Osaka station around high noon. Kichirō was excited going there because it has been a while since they visited their relatives in the famous merchant city. This excitement could be clearly seen on his face. Fumiko took note of this, so she spoke: “We’re not here to go site-seeing. Your aunt is sick, so we need to visit her. Plus, your father and I will be buying some goods, too. Get along well with your cousins, okay?”
“Yes, Okāsan,” Kichirō nodded, yet he was still excited. He was thinking about sneaking out later once they arrive at their relatives’ residence.
As they set off to walk along the bustling streets of this renowned merchant city, a familiar voice suddenly called out Kichirō’s name: “Kichirō?”
Kichirō and Ryū looked back. Kichirō became pale when he saw the charming boy behind him — it was Shirō. Ryū noticed this sudden change in Kichirō’s complexion and also looked at the other boy before them.
To be continued…