(Title – 古き良き日々 – Furukiyokinichinichi – Halcyon Days)
The next day, Shirō woke up early in the morning. It was a sunny Saturday morning, with the winter breeze caressing the passerby’s cheeks like silk satin that gently slid on one’s skin. As Shirō passed by the bustling streets of Osaka, he bought some manga that he knew his ‘date’ would like. He put the manga in his bag and gently swayed his bangs to the side. A sweet smile was pasted on his face as he reminisced of the halcyon days of yore.
The onlooking young ladies bashfully smiled with a slight blush on their faces, as they giggled looking at this handsome youth. Shirō did not mind them. He knew he only had his eyes set on one person; however, that person has long been taken by someone else. At least he had this weekend to try his best and see if he could still sway that person’s heart. At some point, he was pretty optimistic that he could still win him back; yet, he knew in his heart that this was all but his selfish dream — a dream that could never materialize. With that thought in his mind, he heaved a sigh, shook his head and got on the train.
In Kyoto, Kichirō went to the meeting place that Ryū told him about. He casually sat in a cafe in the district of Higashiyama  as he waited for Ryū’s visitor. He sheepishly smiled with his eyes closed as he thought about all of the things that he could have done at home on this delightful weekend, but then slightly frowned when he thought that he had to attend to Ryū’s visitor. “Psh… He could have at least asked Ken to go instead of me. Uwaa~~ I’m supposed to be sleeping right now,” he sighed.
( The Higashiyama District [東山] along the lower slopes of Kyoto’s eastern mountains is one of the city’s best preserved historic districts. It is a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto, especially between Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine, where the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops invoke a feeling of the old capital city.)
“… so you’d rather ask someone to attend to this very important guest?” A familiar voice suddenly came over.
Kichirō looked back and saw Shirō flashing his ever-radiant smile at him — the kind of smile that could be counted as unrivaled and as warm as the midday sun. With just one look, Kichirō felt like melting into a puddle; but, he chose to shake this thought off his mind. With a puzzled look, he asked, “What are you doing here?”
Shirō did not respond at first. He walked over and sat on the chair in front of Kichirō. He looked at the strawberry milkshake that Kichirō was drinking. “It seems you never changed, heh,” he chuckled.
“Me? I changed a lot. Can’t you see that I became more handsome and manlier? Wait, enough talk about me. Shi-kun, you didn’t answer my question.”
Shirō reached over and patted Kichirō’s head. “Yes, you look more handsome. Manlier? Sure. Let’s put it that way, ha ha.”
“You’re so mean. Psh~” Kichirō harrumphed.
“Oh, I’m not mean. I’m just frankly answering your questions. I’m here to look for my date, how about you?”
Kichirō gave him a despised look and measured him with his eyes. “You dare to get back with me but you’re here to meet with someone else. I’m here to entertain Ryū’s visitor.”
“Really? I bet his visitor is handsome. You see, my date is very cute. He likes sweets a lot. He likes anime and manga like us. He acts kawaii all the time but refuses to be called kawaii. He’s so smart but sometimes act like an idiot. I really like him a lot, but he’s already taken. Maybe you’ve seen him?”
Kichirō felt awkward when he finally realized that Shirō was talking about himself. He dodged Shirō’s eyes that were glimmering as he earnestly looked at Kichirō. Kichirō cleared his throat then asked, “So, what business do you have with Ryū?”
Shirō smiled and took a sip of Kichirō’s milkshake. “You,” he plainly responded.
“Eh? Me?” Kichirō was flustered. Then he realized that Shirō took a sip of his beverage. “Hey… Do you honestly believe I’ll let you go after sipping on my milkshake? You should take responsibility of this.” After saying that, he crossed his arms over his chest and turned to the side.
Shirō chuckled then teased Kichirō: “This really brings back those good days. I missed you a lot Kichirō. I guess I’m not even allowed to miss you. Someone might tear me apart.”
Kichirō looked at him and sneered: “Psh~ let’s just move on and be friends. It’s for the best.” After saying this, he stood up and beckoned Shirō. “Come, let’s go. What do you need from me?”
Shirō also stood up and took his bag. He opened it and took out the Weekly Shōnen Jump magazines that he bought for Kichirō. “Before we go, it would be best to give these to you as early as now. I might not be able to get a chance to give these to you later.” Finished talking, he handed over the manga to Kichirō.
The other boy reached out and took them. He looked at the cover then placed them in his own bag. “Arigatō, Shi-kun,” he earnestly replied. From the sulking demeanor, Kichirō suddenly flashed a gentle smile that Shirō did not expect from the other. It was the kind of smile that he yearned for all these years. His smile was like the halcyon days in the middle of the raging winter. Seeing this pure and innocent smile, Shirō could not help but feel a pleasant warmth wrap around his heart, but this warmth suddenly died out and changed into a freezing cold that tore right into his heartstrings.
“If you want to thank me. Accompany me for just a day. A day is good enough for me… Let’s go,” after saying this, he walked ahead of Kichirō then stopped midway, “Oh, yeah. Show me around here. Take me to places where you usually go.”
Kichirō nodded in response. Since he promised Ryū, he agreed to take Shirō on a tour around his beloved hometown. Besides, this was the perfect opportunity for him to make a clear and final closure for the things that happened in the past. All of a sudden, he remembered the words that Ryū mentioned about an unfinished business with this visitor of his. He then realized that Ryū arranged this meeting for him and Shirō to settle everything and to put everything into order.
After going around for a while, Shirō bought some souvenirs for his family. The awkward atmosphere between the two made it difficult for them to engage in a conversation. Aside from close-ended statements and some verbal nods, there weren’t anything else that they could talk of. Unlike how they used to be back then when they were younger, it seemed that they grew distant from each other. Still unfettered, Shirō gave it his best. Perhaps, if he would come and visit every now and then, he would get a chance to sway the other’s heart.
“Do you want to eat?” Shirō casually asked.
Kichirō, who appeared to be in a daze, was awakened by this question. “Ano… I’m not yet hungry…” After saying that, a gurgling sound could be heard. He could verbally say no to food, but his body could not deny the things that he loved the most.
Shirō gave him a sidelong glance then laughed: “Ha ha, you haven’t changed, have you? It’s already lunch time. Let’s eat. My treat. You don’t have to be so shy about it.”
The other boy blushed and just nodded out of shame. Kichirō really wanted to dig a hole, crawl in it and just die. His body always negated what he had in mind. “I know a nice restaurant here that makes good kaiseki . Come with me.”
( Refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of traditional multi-course meals, and is analogous to Western haute cuisine.)
Shirō smiled, nodded and followed after him.
At the restaurant, while waiting for their food to be served, Kichirō was intentionally looking around to divert his attention, as if not wanting to talk with Shirō. Shirō was not dumb. Even though they have been separated for years now, he could still read Kichirō’s mind. “Why aren’t you looking at me? Are you afraid that my charm can win your heart again? Don’t worry. I won’t steal you from Ueno-kun. I’m here as a friend. Nothing more.”
“Oho, you’re so full of yourself. I really wonder why I always end up getting close to narcissists like you. Nah, I’m just looking around. It’s been more than a year since I last visited this place. Back then… back then when I was still —” Kichirō has not finished his sentence yet when Shirō interrupted him.
“You were still looking for me?”
“Yeah, how did you know that?” Kichirō was shocked.
“I knew it ever since. My cousin actually met your parents back then when you were looking for me. I just, I just didn’t have the courage to see you again. I was afraid that being with you would cause more harm to you, so I specifically asked him not to give you any information about my whereabouts. Now that I finally got a chance to meet you again, it’s already too late. Kichirō, is it really over for us?”
To be continued…