Volume 1: Kiss Volume 2: Love Author: Ichiho Michi Illustrator: yoco Description: Sono was in the 5th grade, and he felt like the world was full of spite, designed to bring him misery. He lived each day holding his breath as he faced his parents’ scorn and his classmates’ jeers. And so it confounded him that Akito, the most popular boy in his class, would always talk to him and treat him nicely. One summer day, they headed over to a nearby shrine out of boredom and witnessed a couple kissing by the trees. That image seemed to have imprinted in their brains…? When Sono was 11, 17, 21, then 25, there was always a kiss whenever he faced a major turning point in his life. This is a love story, always nearly coming apart at the seams, between childhood friends who are like shadows and light. Genre: Drama, Romance Tags: Modern Day, Rape (of the emotional blackmail variety), Rape Victim Becomes Lover, Childhood Friends, Age Progression, Thoughts of Suicide, AngstAngstAngstAngstAngst Personal Thoughts: Not my cup of tea, so I won’t be translating it, but I did read through the series because it’s by Ichiho-sensei. (I love her writing, okay?) I could understand the story she was trying to write, and she delivers on the feelings and the angst as usual. It’s a bleak setting with bleak circumstances where the MC struggles to make it through each day until he becomes an adult. Once he becomes an adult, things start to change for the better, but then everything comes crashing down on him again. Yes, Ichiho-sensei does everything in her power to stab your heart out. Volume 1 Spoilers: Spoiler: At 11-years-old Januke Sono daydreams out the window at school. At the end of summer vacation, the teachers would always send out a message to all the kids who don’t want to go back to school. Saying call me if you want to talk or you can go to the library for now. But what about at the beginning of summer vacation? What about the kids who don’t want to be home? They don’t say a peep about that and Sono thinks it’s unfair. Sono wonders what he should do when summer vacation starts. Probably go to the library. But it’s a library in their small little town, and it’s uncomfortable spending the entire day there. Plus, he doesn’t like reading that much anyway. Are there more kids who hate school or more kids who hate their homes? What about the kids who didn’t hate both or the kids who hated both? Sono didn’t hate both, but it wasn’t like he liked them either… Sono gets caught by the teacher and is warned. His classmates whisper at each other about him. He’s like an empty shell. He’s a snake. This is why Sono doesn’t like school, just because his last name is a little unusual— Januke, ja for snake and nuke for shedding, like a snake skin. The classmates turn their attention to Akito to try to copy his homework. Akito walks by giving high fives to people, and on the way, he pats Sono on the shoulder. School is over and everyone heads to their shoe locker to pack up and go home. Akito asks Sono what he’ll do for his research assignment over vacation. Sono finds it hardest when there’s no topic, when he has to come up with something he has to write about. They chat, and classmates pass by calling out to Akito, and treating Sono like a bystander. Akito, don’t be late for drum practice! Snake, don’t let it rain on the festival! Januke is name that portends landslides in this area, a snake that brings rain and flash floods. It’s an unlucky name in these parts. However, Akito just brushes off the kids easily and tells Sono that last names don’t matter. A lot of people only started using them after the Edo period ended. As they walk home together, Akito promises to come by at night. His relatives will be over the next and it will be hard for him to get away from the house while they’re there. Saiga Akito’s family is famous in the town. They run a beer brewing company and employ a lot of people in the town. They part ways and say their goodbyes. At home, Sono’s father is always in a bad mood. He throws his chopsticks at Sono because the drum practice for the festival has started and it’s bothering him. He works at the Saiga beer factory. His mother could care less about Sono, doing the bare minimum to provide for him. She works at the local mall, and she only cares that Sono doesn’t offend the Saiga’s son. Sono hurries to finish dinner and wash his own dishes. He still gets yelled at for wasting water. It doesn’t matter what he does, he can never seem to make his parents happy. His parents don’t even seem to like each other. They’re poor and just barely scraping by. The best thing he can say about his father is that he gets drunk after two beers and falls asleep. His mother just watches TV by herself. Sono hides in his room and waits. He doesn’t have a cell phone, manga, or anything. He just waits. Akito taps on his window. It’s 10 o’clock at night. Sono climbs out the window in his pajamas and sneaks out. Akito always smells like peppermint from his bug spray at night. It’s been two years since they’re been sneaking out together like this. When Akito first learned that Sono didn’t watch TV, didn’t have any video games, nothing, he surprised Sono by saying, Then I’ll come over and hang out with you. They did this 2, 3 times a week, just hiding at the back of the house, talking quietly, watching the stars, reading Akito’s manga by flashlight, and after an hour, he’d say bye and leave. Today, they talk about Sono’s parents again. Akito never pities Sono, and Sono thinks Akito’s an odd guy. It’s not like Sono can go to the authorities about his situation. He’s not being physically abused. He’s not starving. Akito pulls out a firefly that’s he captured to show Sono. It’s weak, and Sono wonders if it’s okay with the peppermint oil. Sono feels bad for it and tells Akito to let it go and he agrees. Akito says that once Sono gets older, he can get a job and buy whatever he wants. At night, he can go to McDonalds or hang out at a family restaurant. He didn’t have to stay here, he could move to Tokyo. But Sono’s never even ridden on the Shinkansen, and it feels like a foreign world to him. Maybe Akito could do anything that he wanted, but Sono was different. It was pointless to wish for something when his life would never amount to much of anything. There was nothing standing in the way of Akito’s life. But Akito stares up at the stars and askes, why? He looks back at Sono, smiles and ruffles his hair. There is only ever one person who would treat Sono like this. It is summer vacation. Sono goes to morning radio exercises. After eating a slice of plain toast, then he goes to the pool. Then the library, the shopping mall, home, the nearby mountain. That’s his daily rotation. It’s hot out, but he’ll be yelled at if he stays home all day with the A/C on, so he tries to stay outside. Sono runs into Akito outside in the afternoon. Akito just came back from his coach’s house where he had Hamburg steak and yakisoba. Sono just had plain sandwich bread that he washed down with milk before escaping from the house. Akito says he’s not eating enough, but Sono says he’s not hungry at home. Akito suggests that they go to the nearby shrine together. He wants to escape his relatives for a bit. Sono wonders why, doesn’t Akito like being around people and taking care of them? He’s always so nice to Sono. But Akito denies it. Sono is different. Sono never pushes him for more, he lets Akito do what he wants, and even though Sono doesn’t react very much, he listens to everything Akito has to say. It’s just easy being with Sono. Plus, Akito’s worried about Sono. Like he might disappear on him. Even though Sono wants it very much. The act of disappearing just seems attractive to him. But Akito hates the sound of it. They arrive at the shrine and come across a man and woman against a tree, all over each other and kissing. Akito and Sono hide behind the building watching them. It’s the first time that Sono ever saw people kissing in real life. Suddenly, Sono gets a nosebleed and gets blood on his shirt. Akito helps him stop it. Sono doesn’t want to go home because his mother will get angry at him for soiling his shirt. Akito offers to take Sono to his house so they can clean it there, and his mother will never find out. A cousin of Akito’s is at his house, a girl their age named Kanako. She’s friendly and helps wash and dry the shirt for Sono. Sono isn’t comfortable around other people, but they chat a little while Akito reads manga and falls asleep in his room. Apparently her parents fight a lot and are on the verge of getting a divorce. Sono is surprised that such a friendly girl could have such darkness hiding in her life. Kanako asks about the shrine they were at. It is a shrine for the local snake god. Once a upon a time, there was a giant snake god who lived at the top of the mountain. She fell in love with a human man, and they lived as man and wife in the village. One day, the mountain was attacked by boars, and in order to protect her husband, the god reverts to her form as a snake. The husband angrily accuses the snake of deceiving him, and the snake cries in her anguish at the top of the mountain. The tears turn into clouds, which then floods the village in rain. The husband drowns, and when the snake finds out she has killed her most beloved human, she slips down the mountain into a river never to return. All that’s left of her in this land are her tears, and whenever there is heavy rain, landslides occur—januke. And so the villagers built this shrine on this mountain, which looks like a snake curled up in a pile, waiting for the god to return, so that the god may protect and bless the village once more… It’s a legend that all the school children in the area know. Akito hated it, saying that it’s dark. Kanako asks if Sono will come to the festival. It would make Akito happy. But Sono has no money to buy anything or to play any games. And he has no other friends. Sono’s shirt finishes drying and he changes and goes home. Sono asks his mother if he can go to the festival. He knows he can get her to easily agree if he namedrops Akito’s family name, but he doesn’t want to use Akito like that. She gives him her permission but she won’t give him any money to spend. Sono comes across Kanako with some of his classmates. She calls him by his first name, and the classmates make fun of Sono, assuming that Sono didn’t want to tell her his last name—Januke. Sono runs back home humiliated and walks in on his parents having sex. He runs back out, stammering I’m sorry. His parents don’t love each other, so why were they doing that? It’s dirty. His parents are dirty. But it’s how he was born. It’s raining out, and it’s dark. People are leaving the festival, but Sono avoids them and the brightly lit areas. The festival grounds are in the midst of clean up. Sono goes behind the shrine to avoid the people and finds himself in front of the tree where he saw the kissing couple. He didn’t think that they were dirty. Akito spots Sono outside completely soaked by the rain. He tries to talk to Sono, but Sono yells at him to leave him alone and runs away. Akito chases after him. Sono doesn’t want Akito chasing after him and goes up a mountain path. It’s dangerous and it’s raining heavily. There could be a landslide. That is what Sono wishes for. Like his last name, he could be swept down somewhere far, far away from this place. He prays to the snake god. Akito catches up to Sono and grabs his wrist. But the ground slips from underneath them. It’s god coming to grant Sono’s wish. Sono opens his eyes to the sound of rain. He has no idea what’s up or down, but he spots a light a little ways from him. Sono hears a groan just above his head. He fully opens his eyes and realizes the light is Akito’s flashlight and Akito is holding him in his arms, and they’re covered in mud. Apparently a large tree had stopped their slide down the side of the mountain. Sono’s wish wasn’t granted, but he’s glad he hadn’t taken Akito with him. Sono spots blood all over the collar of Akito’s T-shirt. Sono panics and calls Akito’s name to try to get him to respond. What should he do if god had taken the wrong person? What if Akito dies instead of himself? Akito stirs and tells Sono that he’s fine, don’t cry. Sono hadn’t realized he was crying. He hears the voices of adults yelling and approaching closer. Akito says, We’ll be okay, Sono, and brings their lips together for a kiss. It’s cold and sweet as the rain and the earth. Spoiler: At 17-years-old It’s early in the morning, and Sono wakes up to the sound of window opening in his room. It’s Akito, and he sneaks under the futon covers with him. If it’s spring, fall or winter, he would remove his jacket first. Morning. Sono sighs back at Akito. He has his part-time job today and he wanted to sleep in more. Akito has to leave for morning practice in 30 minutes and he wants to stay. Today’s their first day of school as juniors. Akito thinks they’ll be in the same class again, but it’s not like there are many classes at their school away from the big cities. Akito has something he wants to talk to Sono about, but he changes his mind and says he’ll talk to him later. He tells Sono to wake him at 6:30 and falls asleep. Sono brushes Akito’s bangs up to reveal a 5-cm long scar on his forehead, just above the end of his right eyebrow. Normally people would never notice it. Akito never showed that it bothered him, but sometimes Sono would secretly check on it like this. It still hadn’t disappeared, and it pained Sono a little. Akito wakes up at 6:30 and goes back out the window, saying, See you at school. Sono goes to school and he and Akito are in the same class. So is Kanako, Akito’s cousin. She has moved here after her parents divorced. They each have new partners and it’s awkward for her. She’s staying at the Saiga’s house. She remembers Sono and is still as friendly as Sono remembers. She brings up the incident from 6 years ago, wondering if Sono was okay after that. She went home the next day after the festival and only knew that the family was in a panic. He felt like he was drowning again in the bitterness of that summer night—of the rain, of the shrine, of his self-loathing, and of Akito. The Saiga Beer president, Akito’s grandfather, had sponsored trees to be grown on the mountain side, and that was what had saved Sono and Akito—at least that was what people around the town said. Akito was transported to the hospital to get 5 stitches, but his life wasn’t in any danger. Sono only had a few scrapes and bruises and fell sick from the cold afterwards, but nothing serious. He heard his parents talking to someone while he was lying in his futon. The person was lecturing them for not looking after their child as his father made excuses. What if something more serious had happened? They could have died. At any rate, Akito had kept repeating in the ambulance that Sono had nothing wrong, it wasn’t his fault, and so the adults couldn’t get that angry at him. The person also asked Sono’s parents to think about Akito’s feelings when dealing with their child. His parents didn’t console him, but they didn't yell at him either. When he woke up, he found a banana and instant porridge next to his futon, and so he ate it. His forehead was itchy because no one had changed the compress there. He listened for it, but there was no tapping sound on his window. After a week, Sono went to morning radio exercise. It felt like everyone was too scared to approach him, like who knows what would happen if they did. But Akito called Sono’s name and ran up to him as bright as before, with a fine net covering his head. He grabbed both of Sono’s arms, yelling, You’re skinnier than before! Are you okay? It wasn’t the pale, blood-covered Akito from that night. It was the bright and happy Akito that he’d always known. He saved Sono from the landslide. Sono wanted to cry, but he held it in pretending that the morning sun was too bright. Then the radio music played and the class got started. Sono shakes out of his memories and replies, I’m fine. It’s Akito who got hurt. Kanako remembers the New Years card with Akito grinning like an idiot showing off his scar. She tries to apologize for what happened 6 years at the festival, but Sono stops her and says none of it was her fault. She appears to feel much lighter, like it’s been weighing on her for all these years. She asks for Sono’s email address but he doesn’t have a cell phone or a computer. Akito comes to see him all the time, so he tells her to talk to Akito if she has any messages for him. She seems a little envious of Akito at that. And surprised. Sono thinks that Akito gets along with about anyone, but Kanako says it’s not true. Akito is surprising very particular about the people he likes. He won’t outright shun people, but he won’t go out of his way to talk to them. Sono had never realized this, and he wondered if Kanako was right about it. Akito comes over at about 11 at night. He waits for Sono to climb out of the window and complains about their home tutor taking so long to leave. He’s apparently interested in Kanako. In order to go to the same high school as Sono, Akito agreed to a home tutor and promised to get into a prestigious university. Akito hated the idea of them going to different schools, but Sono shrugged because there was nothing he could do about it, and sooner or later Akito would have to go his separate way. It wasn’t like Akito’s life would change any differently if Sono was there or not. Akito is a little unhappy that Sono told Kanako about his visits. But one good thing from this, his parents agreed to let him live in the inlaw unit they have on the property, with its own entrance, bathroom, shower, and mini-kitchen. Akito notices that Sono is getting sleepy and decides to leave his talk for another time. He’d feel bad if Sono oversleeps for his morning shift, and he likes the annoyed face that Sono makes whenever Akito talks to him at school. Sono can’t believe he can say that with a smile. Akito checks that Sono’s parents aren’t taking Sono’s money from his jobs from him. Sono assures him that he’s fine, and they say good night. Sono tries to work as many shifts for his part-time jobs as he can. He pays for all of his own expenses himself, and working means that he doesn’t have to be at home. He feels free in his own way. Ever since the day of the accident, Sono barely spoke to his parents. It was like three strangers living in the same house. But sometimes Sono caught his parents glancing at him. Sono never reacted to anything, and that seemed to scare them a little. Like they never knew when he might explode on them. But Sono didn’t care what they thought. Nothing mattered, not what he wanted as a child, not what he wanted now. Akito is more like a parent to him than his real parents. He worried about what happened to his money. He even helped him open up his own bank account so that his wages could be directly deposited there. They just needed a few documents and a seal. He helped Sono pick out and buy the seal—one that said Sono, not Januke—and Sono could pay him back later. That little red seal was like the firefly that Akito had held in his hand when they were younger—a little faint light, that in his hand was the beginning of something new in his life—a tiny glimmer of hope. That light still burns inside of Sono now. And it’s all thanks to Akito. But Akito’s own light is so bright that it scares Sono. Akito ropes Sono into helping on the cultural fest committee with him. Kanako thinks it sounds fun and decides to help out too. Akito and Kanako pile on top of Sono until he gives in and agrees to help. Kanako passes Sono a note in class. Sorry, was I heavy? -Kanako Sono writes, not really, and asks Akito to pass it to Kanako-chan. A few minutes later, he gets a reply. You’re supposed to say, no, not at all! -Kanako Sono replies, Sorry. It’s ruder to apologize! -Kyanako Sono covers up a laugh, but the teacher gets angry and so they start focusing on the lecture instead. Sono gets a note from Akito. So you call her Kanako. Sono didn’t know how to interpret it. Was Akito surprised? Annoyed? Angry? Sono reached a finger out to Akito’s back, where he was sitting in front of Sono. He writes with his finger: She told me to call her that. If you don’t like it, I can stop. When Sono retracts his hand, he hears a little laugh. Akito whispers back to him, that tickles. Sono doesn’t know if Akito understands what he wrote, and if he does, then what does he want Sono to do about it? During lunch, the three of them head to the student council prep room that the culture fest committee is using for their preparations. Sono tells Akito he can’t come in the mornings or after school because he has work. And Akito just says okay, they have a ton of work to do and he shows them the plans. There are schedules of what has to be done and by when. There are lists of materials, budgets for food and display items, etc, all laid out and presented in an easy to read manner. Apparently Akito had prepared all of it. At the closing of the festival, Akito wants to set off sky lanterns. They would use LED lights, helium balloons, and string to keep them from floating away. For the Oktoberfest celebration at his family’s factory last year, they had set off sky lanterns. Sono eats bread that he bought from a convenience store earlier, while Akito and Kanako have lunch boxes from home. Akito complains that Kanano put green onions in the rolled egg omelettes. They bicker at each other, and Sono feels like he might be in their way. Sono stops by Akito’s house after his part-time job to help with festival preparations. It’s been several years since he last visited. Akito’s mother welcomes him warmly and he doesn’t know how to react. Luckily, Akito rescues him and brings him to his room. Sono still feels bad for the accident, but Akito reasserts that Sono did nothing wrong, and everyone knows. But that still doesn’t stop people from blaming Sono in their heads. Akito’s room has changed a lot. The furniture is simple and more adult. The world map and Tokugawa shogun poster are gone, but the bookshelves with manga are still there. Kanako brings up two bowls of udon that Akito’s mother had prepared for them as a late night snack, but she gets a message on her cell phone from the home tutor. Apparently he’s been bothering her and asking her to go out with him, but he’s not getting the message when she says no. Akito says it’s because she smiles when she refuses, and she should be more firm, but Kanako thinks he should have gotten the hint by now. It’s midnight when they finish up, and Akito insists on walking Sono home. Sono wonders why Akito’s doing all this work for the festival. Akito likes the planning and bringing people together to pull off an event for people. It’s like practice for his future when he starts working. Sono thinks he’ll be a good president in the future for Saiga Beer. Sono brings up the home tutor again, and says that if Akito says something to the tutor, he should stop bothering Kanako. Akito doesn’t want to be mistaken for being jealous, but Sono says that sometimes the power differential between people makes it hard for people to say what they really want. It can be quite scary when you’re not in the position of power. Sono understands this very well, but maybe Akito doesn’t. Akito apologizes and says that Sono’s right, and next time he’ll say something to the tutor. Sono gets home and realizes that his parents are having sex. It happens once every couple of months, and Sono can only hide in his room and cover his ears, praying that they finish quickly. With Golden Week break and midterm exams, Sono’s life doesn’t change very much. The time he doesn’t go to school, he fills with more shifts from his jobs. Sono finishes his exams, works from morning until closing, and finds Akito waiting for him. He has been busy with basketball training camp and studies that he hasn’t been able to see Sono lately. They head back from the shopping mall together. For the culture fest, the budget for 100 lanterns was approved, and Akito insists on saving one for Sono so he can write his wish on it. Sono thinks that lanterns can’t grant wishes, so why even bother? Give the lantern to someone else who cares more about it. On the way, they see someone trying to pull Kanako into a car, and Akito immediately rushes off to help her. It’s the tutor, and he’s trying to make excuses for his behavior. But Kanako says he’s lying, that he was following her in the car, calling out to her. She got scared and fell, when the car started going off the road towards her. If Akito didn’t come, she might have been driven off somewhere. Akito wants to call the police, but Kanako stops him. She cries, saying she doesn’t want her parents finding out and moving her back. They let the tutor go. They don’t move an inch, and so Sono heads back by himself. They don’t call out to him or chase after him. Sono is glad Akito was there. Sono wouldn’t have been able to do anything if he was by himself. He didn’t have the strength, the guts, or the intelligence. He doesn’t even have a cell phone to call for help. He can’t rush off without thinking like Akito had done. This is who he is, and that is why no one will ever love him, protect him, and hold him. The world is fine without him, and he never had any expectations from it in the first place. It is best this way. But what is this feeling in his heart? Regret? Annoyance? At Akito? Or at himself? It feels similar to the rainy night all those years ago. The second day of the culture festival, it is cloudy in the morning. It gets even cloudier in the afternoon and people wonder if they can set off the lanterns at the closing of the festival. Sono’s class sells colorful cotton candy, but outside of his shift time, he spends it all in the gym napping on chair. The darkness is comfortable and he doesn’t even notice the plays, choir, or dance performances. It’s 5pm and all the main programs are finished. All that’s left is the closing of the festival and whoever wants to participate in it. There are more participants this year due to Akito’s sky lantern event. Sono tries to sneak out but Kanako catches him and drags him back to the sky lantern tent. Sono doesn’t know what to write for his wish, and Kanako says it doesn’t have to be a real wish. Kanako wonders how Sono’s been doing and takes him away from the tent to talk privately. It feels like he has been avoiding her. Sono makes the excuse that he didn’t do too well on the midterms, and he needs to study. He had made this excuse to Akito too, that he can’t help with the culture fest and he doesn’t want Akito to come over anymore. Akito had nodded and didn’t press him for details. Sono asks if Kanako is okay after that incident with the tutor. They fired the tutor, and now he has nothing to do with her anymore. She’s also not worried because soon she’ll be moving to Australia with her mother and her new boyfriend. She cried so much that she wanted to stay, is she really okay with this? Kanako smiles. Maybe her mother is selfish, but at least her mother truly needs her in this moment. For now. Sono wonders why. Kanako is cute and bright, she has lots of friends, and she’s popular with the boys in school. Aren’t there plenty of people who need her? She should be in the position to choose. But somehow, she sounds like Sono when she’s talking. There’s an announcement over the speakers asking all the sky lantern participants to the field. Kanako gets a message from Akito asking Sono to fly his lantern for him because he has to do the countdown. Kanako suggests that Sono write Akito’s wish on his lantern if he can’t think of one himself. Sono can’t think of a reason to refuse. They walk back to the tent and Kanako asks if Sono has seen Akito’s lantern. Sono hasn’t and asks why, but Kanako says nevermind. Akito sees Sono arrive at the tent and pulls him over to hand over his lantern. On it is his wish: I wish to be together forever. Who does he want to be together with? Isn’t it with Kanako? Did something happen between them while Sono was avoiding them? But Sono can’t ask. Akito entrusts Sono with his lantern. Sono places a helium balloon in the lantern, and turns on the LED light. There is a string attached so that the lantern doesn’t fly away. The school grounds is filled with a number of these lights already, and it reminds Sono of the festival stalls from all those years ago. It makes Sono uncomfortable, and he wants this to be over as soon as possible. It is none of his business what happens between Akito and Kanako. The countdown for the lantern gets started. People chant with Akito over the speakers, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero! Release! The lanterns slowly float up over the field as they’re released, and people marvel at the sight. There are wishes like: Let’s be friends forever. I want to advance past the prelims. I want to marry senpai. And of course, Akito’s I wish to be together forever. It’s beautiful but Sono doesn’t have a camera to take any pictures. It reminds him that he’s not a person who’s suitable to be here. Why is he here again? Because Akito wants him here. Akito calls Sono’s name. Akito is next to him and grabs Sono’s arm. He leads Sono up to the roof of the school. They don’t even switch to their indoor shoes. The view from the rooftop is beautiful, and it reminds Sono of jellyfish in an aquarium. Akito tells Sono that he wanted to show him the sky lanterns. This is why he decided to do it at the culture festival at school. Sono wonders why Akito would do such a thing. Akito doesn’t reply. Sono forces the conversation asking if something happened with Kanako. Akito answers not really. Kanako had asked who the person Akito’s wish referred to, but Akito told her that he would only say it to that person. Sono wonders if Kanako decide to leave because Akito doesn’t need her. Akito asks if Sono is angry, but Sono says it has nothing to do with him. Akito asks if Sono likes Kanako, and Sono says of course not. But Akito says he’s lying. Akito pushes Sono against the fence. Akito says that it’s not answer, that Sono always acts like he doesn’t want anything, that he doesn’t deserve anything, that he knows his place, so please don’t attack him. He’s always hiding behind his weakness, closing his eyes and covering his ears, like he doesn’t know anything, so he can run away from people. And it’s the same when Sono put distance between them recently. That he never thinks about how Akito feels. This makes Sono angry, and he doesn’t understand anything that Akito is saying. This is the first time Akito has said anything like this to Sono. But it’s not like Sono has ever understood Akito or even tried to understand him. One of the lanterns seems to have broken from its string. It’s Akito’s. He tells it to fly far, far away. But of course it can’t. It’ll run out of helium, fall to the ground, and become trash somewhere. But somewhere inside of Sono, he wants it to fly forever for Akito. Akito kisses Sono. It’s just started raining, and the kiss tastes like water. Sono’s body burns like he has a fever. Akito asks if Sono remembers their kiss from before. Sono asks if it was a kiss. It was. Akito loves him, from back then and for all of this time. That is why he kissed him. Akito kisses Sono again. Sono searches desperately to look at something else other than Akito. But Akito’s lantern has long disappeared. The rain is light and quickly lets up. Sono is in the inlaw unit that Akito’s moved into. He’s sitting on the floor of the bedroom fiddling with the key that Akito gave him. He had handed it to Sono, telling him to wait for him there. Akito still has clean up for the festival to do. Sono tries not to fall asleep with the TV on while waiting for Akito to return. Soon he hears Akito come into the unit. Akito asks Sono if he wants to shower now or later. Sono doesn’t understand the need, and Akito explains why Sono is here. For sex. Sono doesn’t understand and thinks Akito is joking, but Akito pushes him down on the bed. Akito explains that he’s confessed, they’ve kissed, they’re alone with no parents, it could mean nothing else but sex. Sono protests that he doesn’t love Akito. But Akito already knows. He thought about it and he can’t wait anymore. Sono will never do anything to bring himself closer to Akito, and so Akito just has to do everything himself. Sono keeps protesting, but Akito tells him if he really hates it, he can just scream for help. Someone from the main house will hear him. Go ahead. Sono is still wrapped up in guilt from their accident as kids, and he doesn’t want to cause Akito’s family anymore grief. Akito tells him yet again that it’s not his fault. Sono tries to reason with Akito, that sex can’t be any good with him. Akito asks if he’s ever done it before. Of course he hasn’t. But Akito confesses that he has. When he went to the bank to help Sono open up his bank account, the lady there propositioned him in exchange for passing the account book and card to Akito instead of mailing the materials to Sono’s house—so that Sono’s parents wouldn’t find out about the bank account. So Akito accepted. Sono starts crying. Why would he do that for him? He made Akito do something dirty. How could he sell his body for something as stupid as bank account? All because Sono had asked Akito about how to open one. He didn’t need to work that badly. Why was he always hurting Akito like this? And he was always scratch-free. Akito tells Sono not to cry. He never thought it would cause Sono such a shock. Akito starts removing Sono’s clothing. Sono tells Akito that he doesn’t he can do it. Because he hates it, and it makes him feel sick. But he can’t explain about his parents. Akito asks if it’s because of the couple they saw at the shrine. Sono thought that they were just kissing, but no, they were having sex right there behind the shrine. Somehow it seemed to be blocked from Sono’s memory. Sono recalls the moment and finally realizes it for what it was. They have sex with Sono protesting the entire time. When they finish, Sono looks at Akito’s face. It’s sweaty, and he moves his bangs away to look at his scar. Sono asks if Akito helps him all the time because he loves him. Yes, of course. Akito wants them to be together forever, but Sono wonders how long could forever really be? Whether it’s next year, 10 years from now, 100 years from now, Sono can’t answer with anything but hesitation. This is about 50% of Volume 1 and I'll update in a bit with the next part when they're 21. If you're interested in a more condensed version of the two books, let me know.