Spoiler [BL] Kiss

Discussion in 'Spoilers' started by nachte, Aug 14, 2019.

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  1. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    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:

    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.

    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.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  2. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    Continuing the spoilers for Volume 1.

    It’s nearly summer. Just as Sono is shopping for groceries, he gets a text from Akito saying he’ll be home around 10pm and asks what is for dinner. Sono’s making Biryani. He’s grown to like cooking a lot since he’s left his parent’s place. He finds it fascinating how he can transform food into amazing dishes with just a little chopping and heat. He wonders why his mother never liked it.

    Akito gets home and tells Sono that he can smell his cooking from the outside and it smells amazing. There’s a letter from Sono’s mother but Sono will read it later.

    While they have dinner together, he asks Sono how school is going. He’s like a parent asking this question, although Sono’s never been asked this before. Sono is in Tokyo going to school for his massage therapist certification. It’ll be another 2 years before he can take the test and pass.

    Akito is thinking of starting his own business instead of looking for a job. He has it all thought out. Sono’s not worried about him; he believes Akito will be successful in anything that he does.

    After cleaning up and taking a bath, Akito asks Sono to give him a massage. It devolves into sex.

    Every time they have sex, Sono always wonders why he’s doing this. Maybe that first time made him stupid. And Sono always replays what has happened between them from that summer in 5th grade until now that they’re 21. He gets another taste of the pain, sadness, and surprise—still fresh as ever—as loses himself to the pleasure, but when he returns to himself, he still has no answer as to why.

    Sono takes another shower and remembers his letter from his mother. She’s divorced his father. There is no address—nothing but this final notification. Akito hugs him in comfort but Sono doesn’t particularly care. This is probably the first time he’s seen his mother’s handwriting other than his name on forms. There was a time when Sono was in 2nd or 3rd grade and the class visited the post office. They sent postcards back home, and when it arrived, Sono found it in the trash. Anyway, Sono doesn’t care and he’s not going back to see either of them.



    From the summer during junior year of high school until they graduated, Akito and Sono had sex whenever they could. It wasn’t every day, but whenever they had a little extra time, they would go to Akito’s inlaw unit to do it. After the first semester, Kanako left, and Akito refused to get another home tutor. There was no one to bother them. Akito wanted Sono, and as long as it didn’t interfere with his shifts, Sono didn’t refuse him. He had no reason to do so. His strong aversion to sex didn’t seem to apply any more to Akito. Akito had done so much for him, Sono could at least offer up his body to him. He had nothing else he could give him, no one else who he wanted, and if Akito wanted it, he would just give it to him.

    Spring of their senior year, Akito asked Sono what he wanted to do after he graduated. Sono didn’t have anything he wanted to do, or so he had thought. He had no money or desire to go to college. He didn’t hate working; he just did what he was told. Anyway, he wanted to find a job so that he could support himself from now on.

    But Sono thought about it a little and answered, A massage therapist. He remembered his mother talking on the phone saying if she could get work in her hands, she’d start over from scratch and free herself from her current life. For some reason, in Sono’s brain, work in her hands translated to being a massage therapist. And he could be free.

    Akito asked if he knew what he had to do to become one, but Sono didn’t know. Akito helped Sono find out what he had to do, recommending that he get his national certification. Programs were three years and were pretty expensive. Akito proposed a plan. Sono would stay with his parents until he turned 20, working to save for his tuition. Akito would go to Tokyo for college in the meantime, living by himself. Once Sono turned 20, a legal adult, Akito would come get him and bring him to Tokyo to live together.

    Sono thought that the plan was absurd. They would be separated for 2 years, and Akito would be in a brand-new world by himself. Of course he would find someone else. But Sono just agreed. If it didn’t work out, then it didn’t work out. If the mirage disappeared, it wasn’t as if like crying or yelling would solve things. If he were to believe in how clever Akito was, it would be better for him to cut off all ties with Sono.

    Akito was accepted at an elite university in Tokyo. They had sex the night before Akito left, and Sono thought it might be their last. He wondered if he’d be able to normally greet the girlfriend or wife that Akito would eventually bring back with him.

    The night that Sono left the inlaw unit, Akito said a brief, See you, Sono. He didn’t mention their promise or how he’d never forget. Sono just replied, Okay.

    Then 2 years had passed and Akito never came back once, never contacted him. Sono didn’t initiate any contact either. He life consisted of his part-time jobs and going back home to sleep. His parents hadn’t bothered him, but every month he would give them 50,000 yen (~$500 USD) and continued to live there. Sono had planned to get his own apartment after 2 years. He didn’t care if Akito got tired of him and forgot about him, but he hated the thought of Akito trying to be nice and apologizing to him. All Sono wanted for Akito, whether he never saw him again or he came back to take over the company, was for Akito to be healthy and himself.

    It was January on a snowy morning when Sono heard a tapping sound from his window. It was Akito and it surprised him. Sono was planning to see a real estate agent to help him find an apartment in the spring, so he wondered if he was hallucinating or dreaming. Maybe he really missed Akito. As he stood there staring at Akito, Akito complained that it was cold and said, Let’s go.

    Sono didn’t expect him to come. He had work. Akito told him to leave it. Sono could call them from Akito’s cell phone and tell them he’s quitting. His parents could pick up the money that wasn’t paid to him yet. Sono didn’t want to cause them any trouble. Akito complained that he needed Sono more than his part-time jobs, and why didn’t he look happier to see him? He told Sono to hurry up, there was a taxi waiting for them.

    Sono packed a few days worth of clothes and some important documents and ID. He didn’t have much of anything, he realized. He left his parents a brief note: I’m leaving, thank you for everything. Please throw out everything in my room. He couldn’t think of anything else to write. He placed the note under the TV remote, locked the front door and left his keys in the mail slot. He didn’t need them anymore.

    Akito talked about how he had spent his last 2 years as they rode the train to Tokyo—the classes that he liked at school, part-time jobs, internships, overseas vacations. Sono couldn’t envision any of it in his head, but apparently Akito was busy enough that he couldn’t come home.

    Akito felt bad for saying it, but it was a waste of time for him to come back. He knew the town, his house, friends and family there, but they weren’t any of his priority. And yet he still came back to get Sono. Not because of any responsibility, but because he wanted to. He pulled Sono along, who never wished for anything in his life. It was the first time that Sono ever saw this scenery in his life, and it passed by outside the train window without a moment to stop inside Sono’s heart.



    That was how Sono came to live with Akito in Tokyo. He rented a PO Box from the post office to put down as his contact information and sent the address to his parents. He applied to night school for his massage therapist certification and got in. He got his own cell phone. It was such a big change that Sono thought that maybe his life had been switched with someone else’s. And after a year, Sono is still here living with Akito. But he is ready to move out on a moment’s notice if Akito ever comes to him and says that he has someone else that he loves. It unsettles him more to think that these days would never end.

    Sono pulls out some Bufferin and hands it with some water to Akito. Akito has been getting a lot of headaches lately, but apparently not terrible enough to go to the hospital.

    Sono asks what Akito’s family will think about not starting his own business. He’s worried about Akito’s future and inheriting the business someday, but Akito says it’s too far off to think about.

    Akito feels like Sono is living his life ready to be abandoned at any time. Sono is just protecting himself. Sono asks, how long can they be together? Akito answers, forever. They’ve repeated this question countless times in the past year.

    If Sono runs away thinking it’s his fault that Akito abandons his family, Akito will find him.

    They turn off the lights to sleep. In the darkness Akito asks if Sono has anyone he likes. He doesn’t. Akito laughs and says he’s terrible.

    Sono doesn’t think he’ll be hurt if Akito tells him to leave the house because he’s found someone else. He’ll accept it and be relieved. Even though Sono surrenders himself to Akito, he doesn’t want anything from Akito. Every time they have sex, Sono can’t reject Akito when he’s so earnest about it.

    Sono has always thought that there’s something wrong with Akito’s head, but maybe Sono is the weird one. He is treated so well, and yet he can’t give back. He’s probably missing something as a person.

    But Akito is with Sono because he loves him, not because he wants something from Sono. But he knows that Sono thinks differently. Akito asks what Sono would do if another man or woman propositions him. Sono wouldn’t do anything with them, and that satisfies Akito, that he’s special in this regard to Sono at least. But he still worries that some day, Sono might find someone who he loves, and it scares him. That Sono might come to regret these days with Akito. That’s why he’s fine if Sono doesn’t love anyone, doesn’t love him, as long as Sono stays by his side.

    Sono thinks Akito is silly. Akito has everything he could wish for and yet he’s worried about losing someone like Sono. No one can want him. But Sono doesn’t voice his thoughts and returns the kiss that Akito gives him in the dark.

    Sono is working as a massage therapist. A co-worker, Kido, invites him out for drinks after work and asks him to join the independent office that he wants to set up. Sono doesn’t understand why. He doesn’t have that much experience, and he doesn’t have an acupuncture certification, but Kido thinks that they’ll get along together at the office. He’s looking for someone he can mesh with. Sono doesn’t have a bad reputation. He’s not too sociable, but he listens to the elderly clients who come in. Not every client wants someone who talks to them.

    Sono wants to run everything by Akito first before deciding. Kido asks if he’s his boyfriend, but Sono denies it. Kido asks if the roommate says yes or no, then Sono would do whatever he suggest? Sono would, because he trusts him and if things don’t work out, Sono’s fine with it.

    Akito basically consults for new startup companies—writing business plans and raising funds for them.

    Sono returns home. They’ve moved into a larger apartment after Akito graduated from college. Sono was still in school at the time, and the large jump in rent scared him, but Akito told him not to worry about it. Sono now understands Kanako’s words when she said Akito was very particular about what and who he likes. He can see how pushy Akito can be and how he assumes everything will just go his way. Sono wonders if it’s related to his leadership and decision-making skills. He doesn’t hate Akito’s pushiness though.

    Sono runs by Kido’s proposal to Akito. Akito is happy to hear that someone sees Sono for his worth. Akito asks Sono to pass Kido’s business plan to him and he’ll take a look at it and make a recommendation.

    Akito says he’s feeling a little under the weather and says he’ll head to bed early, but 2 hours later when Sono checks on him, he’s still up fiddling on his cell phone doing work. Sono checks to see if he has a fever, but he seems fine. He checks other places like his chin, his neck, shoulders, hands, and Akito stops him, saying Sono will get him riled up. They go to bed together.

    As Sono breaths in the dark in Akito’s arms, he remembers Kido’s words: Where did you come and where will you go? They didn’t have any deep meaning at the time, but they echo in Sono’s head. Sometimes he thinks of how he’s gotten here. He’s grown up and has a job now. He lives in Tokyo and has his own cell phone. He can cook for himself and never has to be afraid at the dinner table. It wouldn’t surprise him if he wakes up back in parents’ house to find that he’s been a dream. He’s in this future that he could have never imagined for himself. The only thing that didn’t change is Akito, still by his side. If he wakes up, will Akito as a kid still tap on his window at his house? Akito had been the one to pull Sono from a reality that seemed unbelievable to him for 20 years, but Akito has only ever been Sono’s full reality.



    Kido gives Sono a copy of his business plan for Akito to look over. Akito promises to look over it, but he doesn’t come home the next day. Sono falls asleep at the dining table waiting for him. Sono goes to work and can barely work up an appetite at lunch with Kido when he gets a phone call from Akito. Akito apologizes for not coming home. He’s at the hospital.

    He collapsed from a terrible headache and was sent to the hospital. His cell phone died and he wasn’t able to call. But he had a CT scan and MRI done, and the hospital wants him to undergo surgery right away. He’ll come back home and explain more later.

    Kido hears about Akito’s condition says that his family will have a tough time with the hospitalization. Sono doesn’t know about anything so he asks what Kido means. Akito will need his family to help with the hospitalization procedures, surgery consent forms, etc. Sono thinks he can do it, but only legal family members are allowed to do so.

    Akito hasn’t been in contact with his family in a while. Sono can’t remember when they last sent a case of Saiga Beer to him. They only stock random beer at their apartment. Probably just before they moved?

    Sono asks if there’s a way he can take care of the hospitalization procedures. He can if he enters Akito’s family register as an adoptee.

    Sono wonders if he suggests it, would Akito accept it. It would be the reverse of what they usually do, and Sono can’t quite imagine it. He finishes work half dazed and returns home.



    Sono is relieved to see Akito’s usual smile. He doesn’t look like someone who will have to be hospitalized for surgery.

    Akito insists on making dinner and sends Sono off to take a bath first. Akito makes them udon and it reminds him of the version that his mom made for them.

    The hospital found blood in Akito’s brain. He has chronic subdural hematoma—and the pressure from the bleeding on the surface of his brain has been the cause of his headaches. He will be hospitalized for about a month. He tells Sono not to worry, it’s not in a difficult location for the surgeon to operate. He’ll have rent taken care of, and he’ll give Sono a credit card in case of any emergency expenses.

    Akito gets up as if the conversation is finished, but Sono stops him. He hasn’t even asked any questions. Sono asks who will sign the surgery consent form.

    Akito is surprised that Sono knows about the procedures, but he just doesn’t want to worry Sono.

    Sono knows that he hasn’t worried or bothered with anything up until now, but he doesn’t want to be treated like someone who has nothing to do with Akito’s problems. This is the first time Sono doesn’t want things to go on has they always have. Sono wants to be let into Akito’s problems.

    Akito says it’s an emergency so he’ll ask his parents for help. Sono ask how things are with his family. He’s kind of half-disinherited. They were bothering him to get married and produce grandchildren, so he cut ties with them, changed his cell phone number and didn’t tell them the address of the new apartment. He still has his LINE account that’s connected with them though.

    Sono never knew any of this. He asks if there’s anything else. Why did this happen? Akito has been complaining about headaches for a while now. Sono suspects it might have to do with his accident when he was a kid.

    Akito tries to brush it off, but Sono wants to know the truth. There is the possibility that they’re related, but nothing solidly conclusive.

    Sono is convinced that they’re related. That it’s his fault. What if the surgery fails? It’s his fault and he came out of the accident unhurt.

    Akito tells him to calm down, there’s no point in dwelling about the past, what’s important is what they do now. And Akito will plan everything out.

    But Sono isn’t part of that plan. He hates that Akito plans to go, have his surgery and come back like nothing has happened. Just like how Akito came to pick him up when he turned 20.

    Sono wants to do something for Akito even if it’s not what Akito wants. He asks Akito to register as a family together. That way Sono can take care of everything at the hospital for Akito. It would probably be best if Akito repairs his relationship with his family, but Sono doesn’t want that. They might take Akito away, and Sono doesn’t want to be apart from him. This is the first time Sono has ever felt such strong feelings and it surprises him. Up until lunchtime today, Sono would have been fine if Akito had spent the night with someone else and left him.

    Sono doesn’t know what surgery it is, but it has to succeed. If it fails, Akito will die this time. Maybe he’s overreacting from his worries, but he doesn’t want to suppress them.

    Akito asks if Sono understands what he’s saying. Akito’s birthday is earlier, so Sono will have to take his last name. Sono doesn’t care. If Akito calls his parents, his mother will surely stay with him as long as it takes. Then what would Sono do? He doesn’t get any rights to see him at the hospital. Akito just expects him to stay at home? Sono doesn’t want that, he wants to be by Akito’s side while he’s going through this ordeal.

    Akito doesn’t say anything. He’s probably surprised at Sono’s reaction. Akito should be focused on his surgery, and Sono’s being selfish, but he doesn’t want to give this up. Sono starts crying.

    Akito tells Sono not to cry, and Sono remembers the time when they were 11. He cries more. It’s not like he wants to cry, but the tears won’t stop.

    Akito wipes the tears from Sono’s cheeks, lifts his chin, and kisses him.

    Sono frantically pushes Akito away. He’s flustered and bright red.

    They’ve kissed enough over the years, why is Sono acting like it’s their first time? Sono didn’t react like this when they were 11.

    But Sono’s heart beat is crazy loud. He can barely get a word out.

    Akito tells him that this the first time that Sono doesn’t want to give something up. Sono apologizes. Akito tries to explain himself. He’s mumbling, his cheeks are flushed and his hands are sweaty. It’s not like Akito at all.

    Akito thought that it would be best not to trouble Sono with the hospitalization procedures. But now that he’s heard Sono say that he doesn’t want to leave Akito in someone else’s hands, that he wants to be the person closest to Akito… Does that mean that Sono loves him?

    Sono isn’t entirely sure. Love? Is that what this uncomfortable twisting feeling in his heart is? But back when they exchanged sky lanterns, the girls that he doesn’t remember anymore had looked so happy. He could say that he didn’t love Akito that night when they were 17. The same when he was 21. Probably even 2 days ago. But now, Sono doesn’t know. He doesn’t know, but he also can’t deny Akito’s words.

    Akito smiles happily. It was worth getting hurt.

    Sono tells him that he’s stupid.

    Akito wonders if it’s the suspension bridge effect or if Sono was just too dense to notice his feelings. Either way, Akito is happy. The way that Sono is looking at him is completely different from before.

    The way Akito is looking at Sono is also different from before. There is no more loneliness there. Like he is completely confident in Sono’s love for him, and he radiates with it. Sono doesn’t wonder what to do; he is simply happy. Sono feels like he’s finally reached Akito’s equal.

    Akito asks Sono to become his family. He won’t say a word to his parents.

    Sono agrees and Akito pulls him into a fierce hug. After the surgery, Sono won’t go back to the way things were like it is all a magic spell, will he? Sono tells him he won’t.

    They exchange I love you’s. Sono is very embarrassed, but they make love.



    It’s the day of the surgery. It has only been a few days, and the doctor wanted Akito to get the surgery as soon as possible. They flirt as they prepare at the hospital. The nurse comments how in love they are. Akito says he’s hungry, and Sono promises to make him his favorite dishes when he’s discharged. They exchange a kiss before Akito is wheeled into the operating room.

    Sono waits in the waiting room for families. It’s a long three hours, but the surgeon comes out and reports to Sono that the surgery is a success. Akito is transferred to the ICU, and he should wake up from the anesthesia in two hours.

    Akito wakes up after two hours just like the surgeon said. Sono tells Akito that the surgery was a success. Akito doesn’t want any pain medication, and he slips in and out of consciousness. Sono tries not to wake him. His time limit at the ICU is up, and Sono promises to be visit tomorrow after work.

    Akito is a wake, so Sono takes his hand. Akito looks at him, but it at the same time, it’s like he not. Like he was looking at a complete stranger. Sono tries to shrug it off and tells himself that Akito’s probably in pain and that he’ll be back to normal tomorrow.

    He runs into the nurse and she reports that Akito is doing well. Sono and Akito chat normally, but something feels off to Sono. Akito would normally bring up all sorts of subjects to talk about, but maybe he is still feeling the effects from the pain? But Sono doesn’t want Akito pushing himself, so he doesn’t say anything. His 15-minute visit limitation in the ICU is up in a flash. Sono isn’t able to visit the next day, but the day after, he visits on his day off and Akito is transferred back to the general ward. He’s allowed around in a wheelchair.

    Sono asks Akito if he wants to go out for some fresh air, and Akito nods.

    Sono asks if Akito was able to eat his meals. Akito says it’s not enough, he’d like some ramen or fried rice. Sono says only after he’s discharged. Akito doesn’t say anything. Akito would normally say he can’t wait, and Sono can’t hold it in any longer. He stops the wheelchair outside under the trees. He asks Akito what’s wrong.

    Akito asks if Sono loves him. Sono wonders why he’s asking this, but he replies that he loves Akito. Why? Akito responds with a Oh, nothing…

    Sono wonders if the surgery affected Akito. That if he’s forgotten about Sono. Just like how Sono had misremembered that couple from the shrine all those years ago.

    Akito looks up at Sono and says he remembers everything. But there is a flash of a shadow in his eyes. Sono wonders if it’s a bird, a very large bird that had passed overhead. But it isn’t.



    Akito’s doctor is playing back a recording of Akito for Sono. He’s talking about his accident in 5th grade. He remembers that after the accident, a thought occurred to him—that he loves Sono. Before that, they were merely friends. But somehow, he was flooded with these feelings of love for Sono. It was strange, it wasn’t there before, but he could only think that he wanted to be with Sono forever. Akito stills remembers it. He remembers everything. But he doesn’t know why he fell in love with Sono.

    The doctor shows Sono an image from Akito’s MRI. He shows him the area that was operated on. It’s an area that can affect people’s emotions and behaviors. People have lost memories or suddenly changed their personalities because of damage to that area. The doctor explains his theory.

    When Akito hit his head in the 5th grade, there may have been damage to the blood vessels there that suddenly turned on his feelings of love for like a switch. And Sono was there at the moment, and so his love was directed all at him. The pressure in his head grew with his love for Sono over the years. And now that the surgery relieved it, the feelings of love flipped back off.

    It happened so suddenly that it even shocked Akito. But it’s only a possibility. And it’s only been a week since the surgery, and his symptoms may settle down in the future, he may go back to normal. Akito had asked if it could be fixed, but there is nothing that the doctors can do.

    Sono asks if there’s the possibility that Akito is lying. That he’s using the surgery as an excuse to break up with him.

    Before Akito went into the operating room, he clearly loved Sono. But now he doesn’t. Akito had been acting strangely since he woke up from the surgery. This probably explains it.

    Sono can’t blame Akito for coming to the conclusion. If it’s gone, then it’s gone. Sono can’t see it in Akito’s eyes when he looks at Sono. That is proof enough.

    The doctor can’t deny the possibility that Akito might be lying, but he can’t say anything about their personal matters.

    Sono thanks the doctor and gets up to leave. He stops and says maybe the doctor is using “go back to normal” wrong. Maybe Akito is finally now back to the way he’s supposed to be. Maybe he’s been acting strange for these past 15 years and the surgery made him “back to normal.” That Akito’s current self is who he is supposed to be.

    The doctor tells Sono to please watch over Akito and try not to worry too much about it. It wouldn’t be good for Akito or Sono.

    Sono goes home and throws himself on their bed. It’s too big with him in it by himself. Sono feels pathetic, but it makes sense now that he thinks about it. It’s weird that Akito would love someone like Sono. But now he understands that it was never Akito’s will in the first place. And now the magic has worn out. What is with this timing? Is it all a dumb prank by God? Sono is so stupid, how could anyone love him? He knows this, but he still loves Akito. He wants to see Akito. The Akito before he had his surgery when he still loved Sono.

    Maybe it would be better if it was all a dream. They have their bed that they shared, this apartment, their family register. It weighs heavily on Sono.

    Where did it come from, where will it go?

    It came from that night in the rain—that rain- and earth-flavored kiss. Where will it go? Sono can’t see it anymore.



    Sono visits Akito a day later and Akito is allowed to walk around again. Sono asks if Akito has spoken with his parents. Akito doesn’t understand why and suspects that Sono is trying to do something by himself. They argue. Akito can’t abandon Sono so suddenly, he’s responsible for him still. But Sono is responsible for Akito’s original accident. He’s messed up over 15 years of Akito’s life. Sono is a Januke, a landslide, just like what happened in Akito’s brain. And now his brain is back to normal again. He’s finally seen that his bride is a snake. So Akito no longer loves Sono anymore. Just like that legend, his feeling changed, and there is nothing wrong with him. No matter how much the snake cries and makes it rain.

    Akito tells him it’s a stupid made-up story and asks how Sono feels. Sono still loves Akito. He loves him, but so what? It was a spur of the moment thing just like how Akito hit his head and loved Sono. For Sono, he thought that Akito might die and so he couldn’t stand it.

    Akito is angry at Sono for putting his words like that. But Sono retorts that Akito knows how cold of person Sono is. Who knows when his feelings would fade?

    The nurse comes in to intervene, and they apologize. Visiting hours are almost over and Sono goes to leave. Akito tells Sono not to do anything rash. They’ll think of how to work things out together after Akito is discharged.

    Akito tells Sono that it’s fine if Sono comes to see him or not, but Sono decides to visit every day. He doesn’t know what to do, but he wants to see Akito. They talk, but his voice calling Sono’s name, his smile, they’re different from before. Every time Akito smiles brightly at him, he’s reminded how Sono’s no longer in Akito’s heart and Sono’s chest hurts. Sono wonders if this how Akito felt for so long. He wants Akito to look at him. To treat him like he’s special. And if that’s impossible, then let him stay at Akito’s side. Sono is sorry for how he’s treated Akito for so long. He now understands, but it’s too late now.



    The following week on Sono’s day off, he cleans the apartment in the morning and goes to the hospital in the afternoon. He gets a call from Kido as he steps into the hospital. Kido is coincidentally at the same hospital visiting someone. They get coffee together at the cafe. Kido asks about Sono’s boyfriend. Akito should be discharged next week, but he observes that Sono looks a little gloomy. Sono realizes that Kido is trying to cheer him up, and though he can’t tell him the whole truth, it makes Sono happy. Sono catches a glimpse of Akito in the hospital lobby through the cafe window. Their eyes meet and Sono will never forget the look in Akito’s eyes at that moment. It’s a look of relief. That Sono is not alone anymore, there’s someone else with him. That there’s the possibility of other people in Sono’s world besides Akito. Like a burden has been lifted off of Akito’s shoulders. Sono doesn’t know if Akito even realizes this, but it’s obvious to Sono that Akito needed it to be lightened. But none of this is Akito’s fault. Of course he’d be exhausted from the burden. This is the depth of what families and couples do for each other. But Sono and Akito are no longer any of those.

    Sono asks Kido for a favor.



    Sono goes to Akito’s hospital room, and Akito asks who Sono was talking to. Sono tells him it’s a friend. It surprises Akito because Sono is always so distant with people.

    Akito has been undergoing tests earlier and asks Sono to give him a massage. Sono notices Akito tensing up for a moment when Sono touches him. It hurts Sono, but he suppresses it. He thinks that Akito probably wanted to test something. How silly of him, of course Sono’s touch doesn’t feel good to him anymore. It won’t make his heart race or make him want Sono. He doesn’t love Sono anymore, so of course this would be his reaction.

    Akito recalls how he caught a firefly for Sono once. How Sono would always feel bad for whatever Akito caught to show him and ask him to put it back. But Akito thought that even bugs might even hate where they originally came from and didn’t want to go back.

    Sono wonders if this is why Akito brought him to Tokyo. Like the firefly in his pants pocket all those years ago. Maybe it’s time that Sono leaves this cage.



    It’s the day of Akito’s hospital discharge. Sono has already brought back a lot of his things, so today they don’t have to carry much of anything. The nurse congratulates the two of them. She reminds Akito to come for his checkups and tells him to buy Sono something nice for causing him so much worry.

    They head out the hospital and Sono asks to sit out under the trees. Akito jokes if Sono has something that he really wants. Sono does. Sono hands Akito some paperwork. He wants to be removed from Akito’s family register. Once the paperwork is submitted, Sono will never return to their apartment. He’s already moved his things out.

    Akito doesn’t take the paperwork. He argues that they haven’t talked things over yet.

    But this is what Sono wants. He knows that Akito wants them to talk it over and decide together, but Sono wants to break up. He’s done things the way Akito has wanted for so long, Sono wants to do things his way for the very end at least.

    This is why he’s chosen this place to talk, where Akito confessed that he doesn’t love Sono. It just seems perfect somehow. This is the start of Akito’s brand-new life. Akito was in a wheelchair all those weeks ago, but now he’s walking again, normal and healthy. That is the light of hope. And one day the pain from this breakup will heal.

    Sono says it’ll be okay—it’s strange for him to be saying this, but it will. Akito will be okay. Sono will be okay. Akito doesn’t have to worry about how he overtook Sono’s life. It was Akito who had helped Sono leave his parents’ house, and Sono has a career and can live just fine. Akito has only done good things for him. Sono thanks Akito for helping for so long, for loving him for so long. He can walk on his own two feet now. He doesn’t want to tie Akito to him any longer.

    Akito doesn’t want this, but Sono repeats that he does. It is his one and only wish—that Akito gets his life back. So please grant it to him.

    Akito doesn’t move, but a bead of sweat starts to slowly roll down the temple of his forehead. Sono thinks that by the time it drops off his chin Akito will say okay. And on the ground, the shadow of a bird overhead does pass by.



    They drop the paperwork off at the district office with Akito looking pained the entire time. They stand out in front of the office to say their goodbyes. Sono is feeling strangely calm at the moment. Even without any feelings of love, Akito looks unhappy to break up with Sono. That makes Sono feel grateful and warm inside. But Akito must be in shock at Sono’s insistence on their breakup, and Sono knows how unfair he’s being.

    Sono asks if they can part like they did before when Sono saw Akito off to the operating room. Akito says sure. Sono asks him to close his eyes.

    Sono turns around and leaves. He doesn’t look back and climbs into a taxi.

    Sono doesn’t know how many years of his life he has ahead of him, and it hurts so much it to imagine that Akito will no longer be a part of it. If Sono turns around and Akito calls his name, Sono will probably go back to him. He will likely do anything just to stay with him. They will try to cover up this ugly scar between them. But Sono can’t do that. Not for either one of their sakes, but because they can’t live their life like that.

    The taxi driver asks if Sono is okay. He is. He’s crying because he wants to.

    This is up to about 80% of Volume 1. Next part is a time skip about 1.5 years.

    The last scene for this part is so cruel of Sono. It seems like the only time Sono takes action is to twist a knife through my heart. I was crying ugly tears and wanting to bang my head on a wall at the same time.
    :notlikeblob::notlikeblob::notlikeblob:
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
  3. Shivani

    Shivani Well-Known Member

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    And then what happened? Did they get back together?
     
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  4. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    Sono gets a call from Akito that his father has passed away. Sono goes back to his hometown to take care of his father's final things. Akito has moved back to work at his family's business and Kanako is working there too. There's a lot of talking. Kanako used to like Sono. Sono probably liked her back too. But now Kanako is engaged, and she wishes Sono all the best. She's known how Akito's loved Sono.

    Akito comes see Sono at his father's house. They talk, they end up having sex. But Sono runs away again in the morning.

    Akito comes find Sono at his work place. He's quit his family business. Kanako can produce the heir that his family needs. Akito has given himself enough time to think things over, and he wants to reset and start over again with Sono.

    That's the end of Volume 1 and Volume 2 is the process of them finding their relationship together again.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  5. veihakase

    veihakase [Lurker in BL Hell]

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    Ouch.. i cried deymmit TvT)/ aaaaahhhh i i kennot.. it's amazing huhu (sensei likes to screw their heads lol she loves smashing her characters' heads into a tree) me ish looking forward to the summariessss :3
     
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  6. GraceHosea

    GraceHosea Member

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    Did his mom come back too?
     
  7. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    Yeah, that was my same reaction. Especially for this series. Please, sensei, save your characters from all the head trauma!

    This is a non-spoilery tidbit from a Yes/No series doujinshi, but apparently Ushio has a faint scar over the end of his left eyelid from breaking up a fight between some women at a part-time job of his when he was younger. I was like, Sensei! Why must you keep scarring your characters!?
    At least it wasn't head trauma.
    :notlikeblob::notlikeblob::notlikeblob:

    Sono's mother doesn't come back. As for Akito, he doesn't cut off all ties with his family this time. They'll appear briefly again in Volume 2.
     
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  8. veihakase

    veihakase [Lurker in BL Hell]

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    Oh gahd I hope nothing happens to Ushio tho.. will u also be making an excerpt for volume 2? :3
     
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  9. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    Yes, I'll be making detailed summaries of Volume 2 too. I'm doing it in between translations for Yes, No, or Maybe Half. It'll probably be weekly updates with about 25-50% or so of the volume at a time. It depends on how detailed I make it.
     
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  10. veihakase

    veihakase [Lurker in BL Hell]

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    Uwaaaah thanksiesss.. looking forward to it *v*)/ on the other hand, is their a spoiler section for Yes, No, Maybe?
     
  11. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    There's no spoiler thread for Yes, No, or Maybe Half that I'm aware of. I'm ~25% done translating Volume 3, which is the last volume of the main series, so I doubt I'll do detailed spoilers. But I guess I can do condensed spoilers of the spinoff volumes (another 3 volumes, they take place after the main series) and the doujinshi if people are interested?
     
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  12. veihakase

    veihakase [Lurker in BL Hell]

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    Oooh thank you!!!~ I'll be patiently waiting for it kekeke.. and I am interested on the doujins too *v*)/
     
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  13. QBAy

    QBAy Well-Known Member

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    Could you pretty please give us a link to the raws
     
  14. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    I'm not aware of any place to obtain the raws, except to purchase it, sorry!

    I purchased my copies at ebookjapan, but here are the Amazon.co.jp links:
    Volume 1 - Kiss
    Volume 2 - Love

    If you enjoy Ichiho-sensei's writing and you haven't read anything else of hers, I'm translating her Yes/No series here:
    Yes, No, or Maybe Half?
    Off Air ~Yes, No, or Maybe Half?~

    The Yes/No series is her most popular series. I've translated about 2 out of 3 volumes of the main series, and I plan to translate the spinoff volumes too. I should finish the main series in about 2 months or so.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
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  15. QBAy

    QBAy Well-Known Member

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    Thank you!
     
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  16. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    Here's the detailed spoilers for the last part of Volume 1. The brief version doesn't do the ending justice at all. Ichiho-sensei has this way of making an emotional impact with her writing that I love. There's so much that's not explicitly said, but you can feel it all the same.

    Kido invites Sono out for dinner as a Beat the Heat/1.5 Year Office Anniversary for the two of them.

    They have a good work relationship. Sono doesn’t like to eat out and he doesn’t drink, but Kido promises that the bar serves good food.

    The clinic that Kido opened operates out of an apartment building. There’s no sign outside or advertising for it; it’s only Kido and Sono there and they operate by referrals and word-of-mouth. Kido has also built up a large clientele of celebrities and athletes from when he worked as a personal trainer. The business does well enough for the two of them.

    Sono has really come to enjoy his job as a massage therapist.

    Kido asks for a beer, and the owner recommends Saiga Beer. Kido really likes it, and he notices Sono staring at it.

    Sono gets a phone call. He doesn’t recognize the phone number but he answers it. It’s from Akito.

    It’s been 2 years since Sono has heard Akito’s voice. He hasn’t had a single drop of alcohol, but his heart is racing.

    Akito tells him that Sono’s father has passed away.

    This time Sono’s heart feels like it’s been dunked in ice water.

    Akito asks where Sono is. He’s still in Tokyo. He should make it on the Shinkansen tonight. If Sono messages him when gets on the Shinkansen, Akito will pick him up at the station in Nagano and take him to the hospital. Akito doesn’t wait for his answer and hangs up. Sono thinks that he hasn’t changed in how bossy and one-sided he can be.

    Kido asks Sono what happened with the phone call.

    Sono answers that accidents seem to occur whenever he’s out with Kido. He tells Kido about his father, and Kido tells him to take the week off. Sono doesn’t want to, but Kido insists.

    Sono has nothing else to do, so he stops by his house for a few things and heads to the station. He messages Akito like he asked. He doesn’t worry about how his father died, but he wonders why Akito was the one to call him. Maybe he went back to his family to learn the family business so he can take over it in the future. Sono wonders if this is the original life that Akito wanted.

    But none of it matters to Sono, it’s none of his business now. He closes his eyes. Ever since they parted 2 years ago, Sono has had his own life, just like Akito has his own. Sono is only going back to take care of his father’s final business. And then he’ll never come back.

    Sono takes a nap on the train. When he exits the station, he finds Akito waiting for him. Sono doesn’t get a chance to say anything because Akito says, Let’s go, and heads to his car.

    Akito says the funeral service rep will likely arrive at the hospital around the same time that they will. The conversation is mostly polite. Akito tells Sono what happened. Sono’s father was at a pachinko parlor when he suddenly collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital. Apparently it was a heart attack that killed him. Since Sono’s dad had his employee ID card with him, Akito just happened to answer the call from the hospital.

    Sono asks if Akito is back home now.

    Since Akito was supposed to rest after his surgery, he took the opportunity to go back to his family home. He didn’t want to stay for so long, but he somehow got roped into things. He could do what he did in Tokyo anywhere anyway.

    Sono is glad for Akito. It’s best when people have homes where they can return. He asks if Akito has been going to his check-ups. Akito goes back to Tokyo every month for them. He asks if Sono has been doing well. Sono says yes. He noticed that Akito changed his cell phone number.

    Akito was able to find Sono’s number on a backup file he had on an old computer.

    They arrive at the hospital. The first thing Sono notices is how old his father had become. It was only 7 years, but in that time, he’s gone gray and wrinkled. He notices how terribly different aging is between a young adult and a middle-aged man past his prime.

    The funeral services rep arrives and they decide on a plan. Sono doesn’t want to do much. No wake or formal funeral service. Sono wants to have the cremation the next day, but the earliest they can do it is the following day. They take care of all the paperwork.

    It’s past midnight by the time they leave the hospital. Akito suggests Sono stay at the business hotel by the train station.

    When they talk, it seems like old times. Like how Sono doesn’t bring much with him. Like how Akito just springs everything on Sono without letting him get a word in. Akito is glad that Sono seems like he’s doing well.

    Akito drives him to the hotel. It looks new, and it wasn’t there when Sono left. Sono notices how clearly he can see the stars out here. He’s never realized it was so beautiful. He wonders about Kanako, who had said the stars were beautiful out here.

    Akito offers to help Sono tomorrow with travel and preparations, but Sono shakes his head. He can do everything by himself. Akito’s scar on his forehead looks the same as always. This is probably the faintest it will ever get. Sono doesn’t know anything about the other scar on Akito’s head though. Sono says there are buses and taxis he can take, and he has money. He’s an adult now. Did Akito forget?

    Akito says quietly that he remembers.

    Sono says good night and thanks Akito. He doesn’t need his help tomorrow. He heads into the hotel and doesn’t look back.



    The next day Sono goes to his father’s house. He reports his father’s death to the landlord, calls an estate services company to handle the household items, and heads to the nearby mall. He wants to buy a suit for the funeral hall tomorrow and cleaning supplies.

    He heads to the food court for lunch after running his errands. Kanako spots Sono there. Sono stands up surprised, and Kanako gives him a big hug. He stands there stiffly and wonders if she picked the habit up from her time in Australia.

    They catch up with each other briefly. After his father’s cremation tomorrow, he’ll clean up the house and then head back to Tokyo. Kanako wants to talk more and asks if he can’t postpone his return by a day.

    Sono still feels a little guilty towards Kanako. It’s not like he hates her, but he doesn’t feel comfortable. But he has plenty of vacation time, and can’t really make an excuse. Sono doesn’t say anything so Kanako takes to mean that it’s okay. They exchange LINE IDs and plan to meet up tomorrow night. She’ll pick him up at Sono’s dad’s house. She gives him her business card before she leaves.

    Sono spends the day cleaning the house. At night he lies on the tatami floor with a bath towel laid out and inspects Kanako’s business card. She works at Saiga Beer in their projects division. This is how it’s supposed to go. This is Akito’s original path before Sono derailed it that night when they were kids. Akito went off on a large detour, but now he’s back. At 27, he can still fix things.

    Sono hears the sounds of drums from outside. He realizes it’s the town’s festival today. He tries not to think of anything while he listens. Everything is over now. Sono ended everything himself. It’s none of his business now. He has no right to feel angry or jealous. He was able to live by himself these past two years. Don’t go back to the starting point.

    Sono is an adult now, and he has all this freedom available to him. But he feels like he has less control over his heart and his body now than all those years ago.



    Sono takes a taxi to the crematory, and for some reason Akito is waiting for him there.

    Sono asked if he has a lot of free time. Akito says yes, and gives Sono a condolence gift on behalf of his company. Sono doesn’t want it; it’s too much trouble to prepare a thank you gift. But Akito says he doesn’t want thank you gift. Sono asks why it’s okay for Akito but not him, but the service is about to start.

    Sono says his final goodbyes and it’s a one-hour wait to receive his ashes. His only thought as he looks at his father’s pale face: This what a dead person looks like.

    While Akito waits with Sono, the heat of the summer reminds Sono of all the time they had spent together. Sono has desperately tried to forget Akito for these two years, but his feelings come rushing back in just these two short days. He tells himself he only has to endure a little bit more; then he can escape again. He wants to laugh at how his head is filled with thoughts about his old love he should have forgotten instead of his dead parent. Eventually the waiting room gets emptier, as other mourners claim their loved one’s ashes. Apparently Sono is the last for the day.

    Akito speaks up. He knows this isn’t the appropriate place to say this, but…

    Sono interrupts and tells him not to say anything then.

    They bicker. Why did Akito even come when Sono didn’t ask him? Because Akito wanted to. But Sono wants to know why. Probably because it’s Akito’s personality. Sono retorts, How nice is it have a personality that allows him to do practically anything?

    They had such a clean break-up, but now they’re fighting, overwriting everything. But Sono doesn’t want Akito’s kindness any more.

    Akito says that they sound like a divorced couple in an American movie. Sono says he’s being ridiculous. Sono turns away from Akito to show that he doesn’t want to talk anymore, but Akito carries on talking. He points out that Sono’s necktie is tied strangely. He would have tied it for Sono if he had just brought it with him. Akito reaches over to fix it for him, but Sono slaps his hand away. Sono wonders how Akito can treat him so cruelly without a thought. But then Sono is called out to claim his father’s ashes. Sono pays for the service with cash. It’s the first time he’s ever forked over so much cash at one time. It feels strangely nice.

    Akito asks Sono what he’ll do after this. Sono is having a company move out his father’s things at the house, and then he has plans in the evening. Akito doesn’t seem to have heard anything from Kanako.

    Sono thanks Akito and escapes in a taxi.

    At night, Kanako drives over to pick up Sono. Akito isn’t there. They head to an izakaya and catch up some more.

    Kanako returned from Australia 4 years ago. Her mother immediately got pregnant, and Kanako felt like she was just intruding on the new family. Her mother is always like this. When she needs people, she clings to them, and when she doesn’t, then she doesn’t. But Kanako wanted to be needed by her mother. Her mother could be a lot, but it was what Kanako needed to feel grounded. Sometimes she would be out having fun, laughing, and she’d wonder what the heck’s she’s even doing. Like she’s putting on an act.

    Sono realizes why he was first attracted to Kanako all those years ago. They both shared this darkness she had tried to keep hidden. And so she probably fell in love with Akito, who lived in such a bright place.

    Eventually Kanako dropped out of college in Australia and came back to Japan, not doing much with her life, and she realized that if things don’t change, she might get picked up by a pimp to work in the prostitution industry. There are people who can’t live without others depending on them, but Kanako doesn’t want that kind of life. She wants to be able to run, skip, and jump freely. Just as she was wondering what to do, she got a call from Akito’s dad. She now works at Saiga Beer giving English-guided tours of the factory and helping with their different projects. It seems to have helped ease the uneasiness and emptiness inside her. She finally realizes why Akito had enjoyed the cultural festival planning back in high school. Apparently the sky lanterns are a tradition at their old high school.

    Sono is impressed with Kanako’s growth and strength, but at the same time he wonders what he has done with his own life. Yes, he’s a functioning member of society, but even now Akito is still taking care of things for him. Even now he still loves Akito.

    Kanako asks about Sono’s work and then asks if Sono’s seen Akito.

    Sono only mentions how Akito called him about his father and helped him the past two days.

    Kanako says she was surprised that Akito showed up out of the blue two years ago saying he had brain surgery.

    Sono wonders if Kanako heard anything from Akito. If she called Sono out to see if Sono knew more about it.

    Kanako says, Akito liked you, didn’t he?

    Sono is relieved that she says it in the past tense, but he hates it at the same time.

    Kanako had a feeling that the sky lantern wish was always meant for Sono, but she dismissed it at the time. Now looking back at it, it’s obvious. Akito has always only had eyes for Sono.

    Sono says that it’s all in the past. That he doesn’t….

    Kanako finishes his sentence. That Sono doesn’t love Akito? Sono has always been indifferent with it comes to people, but she wonders if Sono can really say that now.

    Sono empties his glass of oolong tea. He wishes he had ordered alcohol instead. He confirms that he doesn’t love Akito.

    Kanako apologizes for asking a weird question. She looks relieved, so Sono leaves it at that. They continue their conversation without it being too awkward thanks to Kanako.

    It’s time for Kanako to leave. She’ll walk home and get her car the next day. Sono tells her that he’ll stay to eat some more. They say their goodbyes. Kanako tells Sono to come visit some times. He says okay.

    Sono has lied a lot today. He’s staying because he wants an excuse not to walk with her. He snacks on some edamame and messages Kido that he’ll be back tomorrow. Kido says that Sono should take his time, but Sono says he’s done with everything. So Kido messages that he’ll expect him back at work the day after then.

    This makes Sono happy. That he has a place to return to. That there are other people waiting for him. Although Akito had set everything in motion, this is what Sono had earned with his own effort. Even if he never comes back here again, even if he never sees Akito again, he’ll be okay. And even if he’s not okay, he just has to live. There are plenty of people who live their lives without family or a romantic partner.

    It’s about 15 minutes, and Sono thinks he’s killed enough time. He gets up but notices a cell phone. It’s Kanako’s. He brings it to the worker who knows Kanako, but she asks Sono to deliver it to her himself. He knows where the Saiga family home, is right? Sono tells himself that he’ll hand the cell phone over and leave immediately.

    It’s really dark out, and Sono wonders maybe Kanako shouldn’t have walked home alone. He spots a car stopped on the road. The driver’s door is open, and Kanako is there struggling to get away.

    This is just like the time they were in high school. But this time he doesn’t have a bike or Akito. Sono runs towards them. He doesn’t think, just runs. He yells at the driver to stop what he’s doing. Sono grabs the driver’s shoulder, but the driver flings him off. Sono falls back from the recoil and he sees fireworks from the hit to the back of his head. The last thing he hears is Kanako calling his name.



    Sono wakes up in a hospital room and Kanako starts crying. She’s glad Sono is all right. Akito showed up to help her. Apparently Kanako’s friend at the izakaya called the house to have someone meet up with her.

    After Sono hit his head and didn’t move, Kanako snapped at the guy, yelling in a mix of Japanese and English and scared him. That was when Akito showed up. Right now he’s answering some questions for the police.

    Apparently the driver was the same home tutor who attacked her in high school. He had heard that Kanako was back in the area and came to get his revenge on her. After getting fired as their tutor, nothing went right for him in his life.

    It wasn’t like Kanako hated the guy. If he had approached her normally, maybe things would have worked out between them. But Sono says it wouldn’t. Kanako asks why, but Sono doesn’t answer. Because the guy doesn’t even begin to compare to Akito, but he can’t tell her that.

    Kanako tells Sono to get his head checked out properly when he gets back to Tokyo. It can be scary when it comes to the head.

    Sono knows that fact very well.

    Sono apologizes for not being much help, but Kanako thanks him. She’s glad nothing has happened to him, otherwise she’d regret it for the rest of her life.

    Sono used to be in love with her. He likes her now still, and he wishes her nothing but the best for her. Kanako probably thinks the same for Sono. In a way, their feelings are mutual. Sono doesn’t want to muddy his feelings for Kanako, so he decides its best that he never sees her or Akito again. He’ll pray for their happiness from far, far away.



    It’s almost midnight when Sono gets back to the house. It starts raining all at once, and it’s unusual that Sono thinks himself as lucky. After a bath, it’s raining harder than before. There’s a sound that mixed in with the noise of the rain.

    Sono goes to his room and opens the curtain. Akito is standing there. It doesn’t surprise him. Maybe because it reminds him of that rainy night all those years ago.

    Sono says, You should use the front door, and opens the window.

    Akito says he tried the doorbell, but Sono didn’t come out.

    Sono tells him to wait and goes to get a towel for him, but Akito climbs in anyway and gets water all over the tatami mat. Akito takes the towel, wraps it around Sono, and hugs him. Probably to not get Sono wet.

    Akito tells Sono that he’s so glad he’s okay. He wouldn’t know what to do if Sono died.

    Sono can feel Akito’s heartbeat between them. Sono pushes him away before he thinks that things get out of hand.

    Sono tells Akito not to touch him. He clutches the wet towel. Sono knows that everything between them has changed, so why did he open the window?

    Akito asks Sono if he still loves Kanako. Sono says no, don’t be stupid. But Akito replies that falling in love can be a spur of the moment thing. Isn’t that what Sono said before? It’s not so strange. Doesn’t Sono want to get his original life back too?

    But Sono no longer loves Kanako. Those feelings are never coming back. Just like Akito’s feelings for him.

    Sono tells Akito it’s none of his business. Is this all that he came to talk about?

    Akito replies, no, he came to see Sono because he missed him. Not just at this moment. But ever since they broke up, Akito has missed Sono. When Sono’s dad died, somewhere deep in his heart, it was an excuse for Akito to call him.

    Sono needs to cover his ears. He shouldn’t listen to this. But his body won’t move.

    Akito can’t forget Sono. At first he did feel lighter after the breakup, but then whatever he did, he’d always think of Sono. Every day he’d think about all the times they were together, and as each day passed, it just got harder and harder on him. Akito tried not to think about Sono, but he thought about him anyway. ...If it was going to be like this, he wanted both his feelings and his memories to disappear together. But everything is still in his head. The times when Sono smiled, the times when Sono cried, everything. Even though that was a different Akito. And he’s not the Akito that Sono loved.

    Sono watched Akito and realized that Akito could cry. This is the first he’s ever seen Akito like this. There are probably lots of sides of Akito that he doesn’t know. That Sono is not the only one who had agonized over these past two years. That there are things that Akito stresses about. But it doesn’t make Sono happy, it makes him mad. Akito shouldn’t be dragged down by someone like Sono. Sono broke up with him thinking he was setting Akito free. So he decides to be mean-spirited with his questioning.

    But you still can’t say you love me, can you?

    Akito answers that he doesn’t know. It’s not like the time when he woke up on the mountain and everything was crystal clear for him. It’s not that black and white this time, this is why he’s been struggling with it for so long. He understands that he’s been behaving strangely for a long time, but… but…

    Akito grabs Sono’s arm. Sono needs to push him away, but only his voice will work.

    Akito asks if Sono still loves him.

    Sono answers that he doesn’t. He’s not lying. He just hit his head just now, and now his feelings are gone. He doesn’t love Akito at all.

    Akito laughs. Sono is so stupid.

    Sono tells him to stop laughing. Don’t call him stupid.

    Akito stops laughing. He pulls Sono close to him. Sono begs Akito to let him go.

    Up close, Sono can see the shadow that he once saw in Akito’s eyes and he realizes that it has changed. It’s different from that time at the hospital and different from long ago. As Sono wonders what it is, Akito presses a light kiss on his lips. He pulls back right away and they stare at each other. Akito seems to be searching for something in Sono too. Like he’s gauging the extent of Sono’s feelings. Is it okay to touch Sono? Is it okay to get closer than this?

    Sono is afraid of the answer that Akito reaches and how he must look to Akito reflected in his eyes, and so he squeezes his eyes shut. There is another kiss on his lips. This time it’s deeper, heavier, more relentless.

    Somehow all of Sono’s restraints come undone. He wraps his arms around Akito’s back and their kiss grows deeper. He knows the curve of this back. The touch of these lips. He knows it all. And he wants Akito closer.

    Sono’s knees buckle, and he slides to the ground. Akito lies him out on the tatami mat. His response to his touch is like 2 years had never passed between them. Or as if he’d found two years of a quiet hunger inside him.

    They had slept together a lot over the years, and right now Sono can feel the old Akito in the way that he holds him, but at the same time, it’s not exactly the same. Sono wonders if Akito remembers Sono’s reponses in the same way.

    Akito admires Sono’s responses. It’s strange how his memories are just the physical aspects of the memories.

    Sono doesn’t resist as Akito strips him. But he is scared. He hasn’t done this in a while.

    Akito says that Sono is such a liar. He’s always lying and running away. The pleasure is so good that it scares him, right?

    Eventually Akito gets Sono to admit what he wants. When it’s time for Akito to strip, Sono has to peek to make sure that he’s physically ready. That he wants Sono.

    They make love.

    Akito confesses that he has sex dreams of Sono. At first it was just him watching himself with Sono, but eventually he became the participant in the dreams. It took Akito about a year to admit that he wanted Sono, wanted to touch him, even if it was only in his dreams.

    Sono doesn’t say anything, he can only dig his nails into Akito back as they move together.

    It’s another landslide. A Januke. It’s crumbling. From the rain, from the night, from Akito. And Sono is tumbling down. Sono wants to be swallowed up in the earth until he can’t breathe anymore. If he ascends to the sky, transforms into clouds, and falls back down as rain, he wonders if the feelings will turn back into love again. It would be such a cruel cycle. But without out these feelings, Sono wouldn’t be Sono.

    In the midst of their passions, Sono runs his fingers through Akito’s hair. He finds the scar from Akito’s surgery. It’s the proof that Akito has become Akito. The proof that Akito wasn’t really Akito. Sono loves him so much that he hates it. He remembers the last time they made love, Sono had told Akito to come back to him. Sono still thinks this. Come back to me. I want to go back. But he will never say this out loud. While his heart’s wish will never be granted, at least in this moment their bodies are satisfied and they are one.



    After Sono takes another shower, he finds Akito searching the fridge. There’s beer there and Akito asks to drink it. Sono says sure and remembers that he hasn’t cleared out the fridge yet. He finds a plastic bag with an envelope in the freezer. It has Sono’s name on it.

    Akito says it’s probably Sono’s pay from his part-time job. From when he left home to go to Tokyo.

    Sono wonders why it’s in the freezer. Akito says that if it’s left out, it would probably be spent.

    It’s hard for Sono to accept these words. He never believed his parents could be like that. While Sono stood there silently, Akito asks if Sono’s noticed his old bike. It’s well-maintained and in nice condition.

    Sono asks, So what? What am I supposed to think about that?

    Akito says, Anything you want. Only your dad knows the right answer.

    Sono doesn’t want to think anything. Akito says that it’s a perfectly valid response too.

    Sono clutches the frozen envelope and cries a little. Akito doesn’t tell him to cry; he doesn’t tell him not to cry, and so Sono doesn’t know if he wants to cry or not. Akito just hugs Sono from behind and holds him.



    The rain stops around dawn. When Sono leaves the house, it’s misty outside, like he’s in a dream world, even though he’s awake. He goes to the train station and it’s empty this early in the morning. But there is someone waiting for Sono there. It’s Kanako.

    Kanako figures that Sono would try to leave when there’s no one around. She asks why Akito isn’t with Sono. He’s still sleeping. Kanako asks if Sono is okay with this. Yes.

    Sono is scared. How will Akito look at Sono when he wakes up in the morning? Would it be okay to rebound to where they were after a single night, another spur of the moment thing, after spending these past two years trying to put their relationship behind them? This is why Sono ran away. Nothing good happens when he’s controlled by his feelings. If he separates himself now, then he won’t get so attached to the point that he can’t separate from him. These negative thoughts that he’s brewed for over 20+ years can’t change so easily. But compared to his feelings when they first broke-up, he feels like he’s finally resolved his feelings this time. Maybe he was finally able to get his fill of Akito one final time, deeper than just a kiss.

    Kanako tells Sono that she sort of understands his feelings. She has one more thing to tell Sono. The reason why Akito spent so long with the police was because he beat up the driver more than he needed to. The situation didn’t escalate due to Akito’s parents, but Kanako says stepping in to stop Akito was probably scarier than facing the driver. Akito probably snapped when he saw Sono unconscious on the ground. It was like he didn’t even see Kanako.

    Kanako brings up another version of the snake god legend that she heard. The snake god cried and cried. The god in heaven pitied the snake god and turned her into a human. The tears formed a river that watered the villagers’ fields, and the villagers no longer worried about crop failures. The snake god lived happily ever after as a human with her husband.

    Sono tells her that it’s not plausible. How could they get back together so easily when her husband abandoned her?

    Kanako says that it’s probably true, that Sono’s story is the real legend, and some person similar to Akito probably made up another version because they didn’t like the original story.

    Sono can imagine that happening. They laugh. Sono’s train comes.

    Sono says bye, but Kanako pulls him in for a kiss. It’s his first from a girl.

    Kanako jokes that she got Sono’s first kiss.

    Sono gets on the train. It slowly pulls away from the station. He no longer has one of his parents. No longer has his childhood home. As for Akito… He was never Sono’s in the first place.

    Then what does Sono have? He has his work. After seeing his father’s ashes, he has a new attachment to life. He’ll go back to Tokyo and work again. He’s spent a lot of money in the past few days, so he’ll work to save back up again. He’ll buy a new cell phone. The money from his old part-time job is in his wallet and it’s no longer frozen. The scenery of his hometown is passing by, the sunrise starting to break through the mist. The sunrise dyes everything in orange as the night fades away, the sky clearing with not a single cloud in sight. Sono thinks that the clear light that radiates at the boundary is just like Akito. A morning light that makes everything appear beautiful.



    It’s October, but somehow it still feels like a summer day. Kido tells Sono to go out to buy ice cream or popsicles. Sono doesn’t want to but he eventually gives in and heads to a nearby convenience store. He buys 2 popsicles.

    As Sono heads out, he hears a man call out, Excuse me, is there a Kido Clinic around here?

    Sono replies that he doesn’t know and picks up his pace.

    It’s Akito. He complains about Sono ignoring him and trying to run away.

    Akito asks him to walk with him a bit. Sono complains the popsicles will melt, but he walks with him. Sono wonders if Akito knows where he’s working, so he asks how Akito found him.

    Akito found the business plan from Kido from a few years ago. His email address was on it, so he emailed Kido and asked.

    Sono doesn’t show any reaction and Akito wonders if he’s listening.

    Akito tells Sono that Kanako is dating someone at work. His parents like him, and they’re thinking of adopting Kanako and leaving the company to them. Akito complains how they used him for all his business know-how, and now they’re tossing him to the curb.

    Sono says it’s good news. Akito says for who? For Kanako. Doesn’t Sono have anything else to say? Akito doesn’t have anywhere to go now.

    Sono can’t ever say that it’s good news.

    Akito says that Sono is as stubborn as ever, but Akito looks happy.

    Akito spots a shrine nearby and drags Sono with him to see it. They pass under the Torii gates, ignore the hand washing area, and follow the stone path. Once they’re alone under the sunshine, Akito turns to face Sono, takes both his hands, and kisses him.

    Sono asks what he’s doing.

    Akito says if they’re going to reset, it’s best to go back to the beginning where everything started.

    Sono calls him an idiot. They weren’t the ones kissing at the shrine. There were also things wrong with it too. And the popsicles are melting. But he can feel that Akito’s hands are terribly sweaty and shaking.

    Sono wonders if he’s falling into this quagmire. Or running into it. Or skipping into it. Or jumping into it. Whatever he’s doing, at least he’s going somewhere. And it’s probably the same for Akito.

    Sono doesn’t take a step. The sun is blindingly bright, but he doesn’t close his eyes. Sono just stands there facing Akito. In Akito’s eyes, there’s a heat and a light there that feels nostalgic and a little new—it’s an afternoon day that feels like summer.

    Sono has to go buy another set of popsicles. Even though the melted popsicle is just a stick floating in a bag of liquid, he sticks it into the freezer anyway. Kido eats his popsicle and comments that Sono took a while. Did he get tired from the heat? Sono’s face is completely red.

    Sono tells Kido he’s just imagining things.

    After work, Sono finds Akito waiting for him outside. Akito’s been waiting for him for almost an hour.

    The evening air is cool, and it’s like the heat in the afternoon was all a lie. But Akito is still here in front of him.

    Akito mentions that he saw the guy from the hospital and realizes he’s Kido. That Sono lied to him and called him a friend.

    Sono says he doesn’t remember. He wonders why does Akito have to have such a good memory.

    But Akito doesn’t pursue it. He complains that he’s thirsty, and Sono hands him the refrozen melted popsicles. It’s all Akito’s fault, so he should eat it. Akito opens it there. It’s completely warped, but it still tastes good. It’s just the shape that’s changed.

    Sono realizes that he’s right. It’s melted and refrozen again; it looks warped and unbalanced, but it hasn’t lost anything. It’s still here, and if you taste it, you’ll know that it’s the same.

    He wonders if that’s why it can remain here like everything’s okay.

    Akito asks if Sono wants a taste too. He doesn’t, but Akito insists anyway. Sono complains how Akito never listens to him, but he opens his mouth and tastes the cold flavor of summer.

    Akito says, Tastes good, right? For some reason he sounds proud. And his smile looks like it too.

    Note: Akito's name means light crossing over. So the image of Akito being the light in Sono's mind is even stronger than what's conveyed.

    Next part will be Volume 2. Akito and Sono are in this limbo where they eat dinner together a few times a week, but Sono keeps Akito at a certain distance away from him and Akito more or less respects that distance.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
    Dragon_Reader, lazuuli and Szara like this.
  17. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    There's a short story that directly follows the mini-epilogue in Volume 1, so I've translated it in full here. It was posted on Ichiho-sensei's blog.

    “Hey, you and Kanako kissed, didn’t you?” Akito said as he ate his popsicle.

    Sono remained silent.

    “Oi, say something.”

    “You heard from Kanako-chan, right? If you already know, then why does my answer even matter?”

    “How can you be in the service business with that attitude?”

    “You’re not a client, Akito.”

    “Well, whatever, let’s go drinking.”

    “Why? I’m not going.”

    “Okay, if this popsicle stick gives us a prize, then we’ll go.”

    It’s not even a popsicle that gives out prizes… Sono thought to himself, but then came the kicker.

    “If it’s not a winner, then we’ll go to your place.”

    “I don’t want either of them.”

    “What? Fine, then at least apologize to me. For leaving me and running away in the morning.”

    “You’re the one who slept in and didn’t wake up…”

    It was the truth. After Sono had finished crying, he suddenly became embarrassed and pushed Akito away, saying, “That’s enough.” Akito didn’t resist; he let go as he said, “Sorry, I’m at my limit,” falling to the ground and passing out to sleep. As for Sono, he didn’t feel like sleeping—maybe because he had hit his head and passed out for a few hours or maybe he was still overstrung from his feelings. He silently finished the last of the cleanup and then laid his head down on the low table for a quick nap. When Sono woke up, Akito was still deep asleep. It made him feel lonely, but he was also relieved. He erred on the side of relief and left the house without waking him.

    “It had been a while since I had drank, and the alcohol really affected me.”

    “...Really?”

    That was surprising. When they lived together, Akito would have a beer nearly every night. After moving back with his parent’s, Sono thought that he would have easier access to alcohol.

    “Don’t you remember? I said I’d give up alcohol for a little while.”

    “Huh?”

    “What? You really don’t remember?”

    It took Sono some time to remember where those words came from. It was more than two years ago— It was the conversation they had when Akito told Sono about his brain condition.

    “...What part of that is ‘a little while’?”

    “I guess so. I had let it go on for so long that I just let it be. Does that sound weird? Well, it just happened, and that night I felt it would be fine to drink again, I guess. I’m not entirely sure why.”

    If Akito didn’t know why, then Sono would have absolutely no clue.

    “We never made a promise about it, and I never asked you to either.”

    “Yeah.” Akito held the end of the popsicle stick between his teeth and flipped it up and down. Sono reached over to pull it out of his mouth and their eyes met.

    “...It was the only thing that I had said to you before the surgery that I could follow through and keep.”

    “You’re an idiot.”

    How could Sono have any way of knowing that? What could even come out it by doing that for him? The Akito he could never see again. The Akito standing right here in front of him. In Sono’s hand was a popsicle stick that had an imprint of Akito’s teeth. Sono squeezed it in his hand and walked off.

    “Oi, the train station isn’t that way.”

    “I’m eating out,” Sono answered without turning back.

    “You? Eating out?”

    “Yeah. I missed a chance at eating beef tendon curry.”

    “Hmmm.”

    “...I hear there’s good beer there.”

    “Hmmm.”

    Akito had to be smiling behind him. Sono thought that he had to be an idiot himself, secretly imagining the way that Akito’s eyes crinkled and his lips turned up.

    And then, the sound of footsteps came catching up to him.

    Settling right beside him.

    Volume 2 Spoilers:

    Sono has only ever had a lover for 4 days out of his entire life. They’ve been together in some form for nearly 20 years, but it was only 4 days that they truly loved each other. Sono experienced the four seasons in those 4 short days. The sprouting of spring, the prime of summer, the shadow of autumn, and the hibernation of winter. Sono believes he will never taste those days again for the rest of his life. That relief and pain still remains in his heart—proof that the brief period of happiness wasn’t an illusion.



    Sono gets a message from Akito. He wants something he can eat with his hands for dinner today. Sono wonders what that’s about. Akito’s dinner requests are always related to something he can feel or sense. One time he wanted something that felt like a tropical island. Another time it was something that crunches up together. Sono takes stock in his head of what he has in his fridge. He replies with what he needs Akito to buy.

    Sono leaves work and it’s a cool evening. He realizes that nearly a year has passed. Will 2, 3 years pass by just like this? He doesn’t know. When he was little, he could never imagine what he’d be like as an adult, and as an adult, he still can’t see what lies in his future. Normally Sono would brush these feelings off, but when Akito is in the picture, it makes Sono scared. He doesn’t know what will happen.

    The future that he once thought was set in stone fell apart before his very eyes. In the end, Sono thinks that they chose the correct path, but at the time when everything fell apart, he couldn’t do anything about it, and when those feelings resurrect inside him, it still scares him.

    Sono sees Akito with a shopping bag waiting for him outside his apartment building. Whenever Akito says, Welcome back, Sono answers with a thanks, not with an I’m back. Sono lets Akito into his apartment, but he won’t give him the key to it. This is the distance that Sono maintains with Akito for a year. He doesn’t know if Akito thinks it’s acceptable or not.

    Sono makes lettuce wraps and samosas for dinner. Akito eats and drinks a lot. They chat, they finish dinner, and Akito helps cleans up. Then he thanks Sono and leaves. He never stays long. Sono doesn’t take any money from Akito, but Akito will buy any groceries that he needs. Somehow it just became the rule between them. Akito will come over 2 or 3 times a week like this. Sometimes Akito will ask to go out to eat, and if there’s nothing pressing in his fridge that needs to be eaten, sometimes Sono will accept (and Akito pays). Sono stares at his nicely clean sink that Akito cleaned for him and wonders what he’s doing.

    Sono wonders where he’s going with this. It’s a question that seems to never leave him. He wonders if it’s because they’re both men or if it’s because Sono just thinks too much.

    Sono’s cell phone rings. It’s from Akito. He tells Sono there’s a full moon out and it’s beautiful. He tells him to come out and look.

    Sono tries to refuse, but Akito says he’ll be waiting for him and hangs up. Sono goes out to the balcony, but he doesn’t see the moon. He goes downstairs and Akito grabs his arm and pulls him to the other side of the building from his balcony.

    They look up and watch the moon. Akito wonders if it’ll look better back in their hometown. Sono asks if he’s been back. Akito hasn’t, but next year Kanako is getting married, so he’ll go then. Sono wonders how she’s doing. He hopes that she’s doing well and is happy.

    Akito pulls Sono over behind a telephone pole and kisses him softly. The full moon is behind Akito, and it casts a shadow over his face. Sono thinks that it’s this darkness that brings out this intensity of the moon’s light. Just like how Akito’s brightness always brought Sono’s darkness—his childhood, his personality, his weaknesses—up to the surface.

    Sono asks what Akito is doing. Sono never resists, but he always criticizes Akito, and he hates himself for it. But Akito doesn’t look bothered and answers that it’s easier to do this outside. Because Sono always puts up his guard at home. Akito asks if Sono locked up properly. Sono didn’t, so Akito goes back up to Sono’s apartment, makes sure all the rooms are okay before apologizing for calling him out so suddenly and leaving. He reminds him to lock up after him.

    Sono doesn’t know where Akito is living. He has no idea how he lives, what floor he lives on, how big the place is, what he eats when he’s not with Sono or who he eats with. Akito comes over, and Sono takes him in. It’s a cycle that’s not much different from when they were kids, but back then Sono knew everything about Akito. His house, his family, his family’s business, how he did in school. But now Sono has no information about Akito. Akito’s not hiding anything from him; he talks about a fire in his neighborhood or how he’s gained some business from a large corporation. If Sono wants to know more, he can just ask. But he can’t. What’s the point of knowing? It’ll only make him greedier. Maybe it will make this relationship where Akito comes and goes disappear.

    Sono wonders what is wrong with it. Akito is the one who had chased after him. Akito is the one who said to start over from the beginning, and Sono didn’t refuse him. Maybe they’re just going around in circles. Just like the moon that only ever showed the same face.



    There are two scars on Akito’s head, and they’re both related to Sono. It’s only when Akito thinks about Sono, wondering what he should do, that the old one starts to act up. When Akito finishes up his meeting, it’s 10 pm. Sono’s place isn’t far by train, but Akito can’t ask him to feed him this late. Akito decides to stop by the bar where he’s been to a few times. He sees Sono’s boss sitting at the counter. They never really formally introduced each other before, but Kido invites him to sit down next to him.

    Akito asks how Kido recognizes him. Kido saw him together with Sono in front of the train station. When Kido asked Sono about it, he got all embarrassed.

    They order beers. Akito orders a Kamikatz Pale Ale, and Kido order a Saiga Beer. Akito thanks him and explains that it’s his family’s business. It’s the first time the owner has heard of it too. Kido asks if Akito comes here often. Akito explains that Sono was the one who brought him here. Kido tells him that he was the one who brought Sono.

    Kido asks how Akito recognizes him. Akito explains about seeing him at the hospital.

    At the time, Sono looked like he enjoyed himself. At least, that was what it seemed to Akito, who rarely saw Sono react much to anything. It surprised him to see Sono open up to someone beside himself, and it made him happy. Akito didn’t care about the person next to Sono, just that there was a possibility of someone else for him. Akito was relieved, and he could tell that Sono had seen the relief there too. Now that Akito looks back at it, he thinks it’s a terrible story.

    Kido asks how Sono and Akito are actually doing. Are they broken up, together, or broken up but back together again? Akito wonders how much Kido actually knows about them. He can’t imagine Sono talking to Kido about it. Akito doesn’t even know where he stands with Sono.

    Akito doesn’t answer, so Kido says he doesn’t have to. He’s just asking out of curiosity. He’s just a co-worker, so he has no rights to their private life. He just does what he can to help. Akito learns that Kido was the one who helped Sono with the family registry paperwork. Both times.

    Akito tells Kido about the two scars on his head. About him and Sono. He came here chasing after Sono because Akito wants to be with him, and since then one year has passed by in a flash.

    Kido asks if Akito wanting to be with Sono means that he loves him. Akito explains that it’s more like he might as well call these feelings love. He still feels like he’s lost something, but it doesn’t change that he wants to be with Sono. If he’s going to agonize over these feelings whether next to him or from far away, it would be worse to be separated. There are passionate couples and calmer couples, but it doesn’t make one better or worse than the other. That’s what Akito thinks, but apparently it’s not true for Sono.

    Sono probably doesn’t want to be jerked around anymore. He’ll constantly be reminded of what he’s lost if he’s with Akito. He’ll only get hurt again if they end up breaking up. It makes sense that Sono would be wary. This is why Akito has spent this past year thinking, but things haven’t progressed between them. Akito is waiting for Sono to believe him, for him to take some action himself. However, it’s just created this limbo between them. If Akito doesn’t keep contact with Sono, it’s likely they will just drift apart.

    Kido says that Sono can be strangely stubborn sometimes. This statement hurts Akito’s heart. Sono had never expressed his will or desire before Akito forced him to protect himself this way. This is how much Akito had hurt him. When Akito lost his feelings of love, at the same time, Sono lost the Akito that he loved. There is no end to these hopeless thoughts, so he might as well call these feelings love. That’s how he came to this point. It won’t hurt anyone else if they’re both wrong. If Akito asks Sono if he loves him, there’s a chance that he’ll say, I love you. But he can also say, So what?

    It’s only love.

    It was what Sono had said once. And he’s right. Feelings can change at any time. And so Akito thinks that even with or without them, he just wants to be with Sono. However, Sono thinks that without them, they can’t be together. Akito doesn’t know how to bridge this gap between them yet.

    Kido ends up treating Akito to dinner and drinks that night. He asks if it was someone else that night of the landslide, would the same thing happen and Akito would fall in love with a different person? Akito replies that he wouldn’t be around the person if they weren’t Sono. He was exhausted that night, and he only went after Sono because of him. He wouldn’t chase after anyone else.

    Kido says that isn’t that their answer? Akito says to tell that to Sono, but he takes it back. Akito doesn’t want Sono to know that he told Kido everything. Kido promises not to say anything. He thinks they have a pretty odd relationship.

    Odd. People said that to Akito before. Why did he hang out with the snake? Or they’d interpret Akito’s actions as being noble and considerate to the less fortunate. But Akito only did what he did because he wanted to. Riding his bike to Sono’s house. Chasing after him up the mountain. It was all Akito. Sono never once told him to come or that he was waiting for him.

    Akito’s scar starts to itch again. He wonders if it’s the alcohol. If he didn’t have this scar, how would he interact with Sono as an adult? Akito doesn’t think it would be very different from now. He doesn’t think kissing or even more than that would be out of the picture. But Sono would probably never agree.



    A client, a young woman, asks Sono for his contact information at work. She likes him. It’s awkward but Sono declines to give it to her. Sono reports what happened to Kido in case they’ve lost a client. Kido teases him about it and asks if Sono declined because he has a boyfriend. Sono gets mad and says he doesn’t.

    This is a business where people can get the wrong idea a lot. Since touching is a form of communication. Kido is sure that Sono didn’t cause the misunderstanding. He didn’t think the client was the type to form such strong attachments, but you never know with people. Sono wonders if the client had some other kind of motive. Like recruitment for a religious group or a personal seminar. She never mentioned anything like that, but Sono can’t think of anything else it can be. Who would want to get close to him?

    Kido asks Sono if he really believes that. But he doesn’t let Sono answer, because he already knows it. Sono doesn’t think anyone can love him. He always thinks of himself as nothing, and that’s not a good thing. Kido has no right to order Sono to fix it, but he’d like to be able to advise Sono to reconsider how he views himself.

    Sono says it’s impossible. There’s nothing good about himself. Kido says that he’s compared himself to characters in manga and TV shows before, but they’re unattainable fantasies. Real life is nothing like that. Most people are nothing like that. Sono doesn’t think that, and Kido replies that his thinking is even worse then.

    Kido flips around the question. Then does Sono have no eyes for anyone unless they’re someone amazing? Is that why he’s with that boyfriend of his?

    Sono tries to change the subject and says it’s none of Kido’s business. Kido doesn’t take the bait. He asks if it’s really so strange for someone to like Sono? Don’t say something so sad. Kido likes Sono, as a friend, and it pains him to see Sono to think of himself as nothing.

    Sono doesn’t know how to respond to that. He doesn’t like himself, and he can’t imagine other people liking him either. After some silence, Kido changes the subject to their lunch, and they go on like nothing happened.

    Sono is grateful to have nice things said about him, but he can’t honestly accept them for what they are. He doesn’t think he has any good points, so he can’t believe that other people think otherwise. The more that people try to persuade him differently, the more afraid he becomes. He just wants to scream, Why? You’re lying. Sono thinks of Akito. When Akito first told Sono that he loves him, Sono was afraid at first. It was just that he didn’t know what came over Akito so suddenly, but Sono soon became used to it. Maybe it was because they had been together since they were little. Akito would always talk to Sono, and it became so ingrained in his everyday life that Sono just wrote it off as Akito being a little weird. When their feelings became mutual for those few short days, he was so dizzy with happiness that he didn’t have time to be anxious. Or maybe the surgery was the bigger worry for him at the time. And after the surgery, everything made perfect sense to Sono. Why someone like Akito could ever love someone like Sono.

    But of course it hurt Sono a lot. He cried so much over it. Remembering it now still makes Sono’s heart hurt. But Sono thinks this: What if the surgery had been successful and there was no change in Akito at all? Could that happiness really continue? They could celebrate Akito’s successful surgery, celebrate his discharge from the hospital, but what laid on the road ahead for them? Sono could wake up full of doubts and tire himself out. He could worry himself sick with jealousy, wondering when Akito will break up with him. He can see himself tormenting himself with his fear and anxiety and ruining everything anyway. If he has a choice between the magic spell lifting itself in an instant or running out slowly over time, he thinks the latter would be much crueler.

    Sono is cleaning up after business hours and finds an earring in the changing room baskets. Kido thinks it belongs to the client who likes Sono. They didn’t have any clients that day who would wear anything similar. Sono steels himself and says he’ll email the woman about it. He pulls out his cell phone to write the email, but he finds a message from Akito. He wants to eat something that crunches up together like coins or gravel. It irritates Sono. He realizes that it’s not Akito’s fault that he’s not in a great mood right now. It’ll only exhaust him if they see each other like this, so Sono messages Akito saying that they can’t eat together today. Akito immediately messages back, Why? The quick response bothers him, and he doesn’t feel like making up an excuse, so he responds, I don’t want to see you right now. Sono regrets it immediately. He can’t erase it, it’s already been read, and he gets no response back. Sono knows he has a terrible personality. He could have said he was tired and wanted to go to bed early, but he decided to take it out on Akito instead. He doesn’t think Akito will take it too seriously; he’ll message Sono again later like nothing happened. Sono’s heart is going off in all different directions. I want to be with you. I don’t want to be with you. Let’s believe in this. Let’s give up. Leave me alone. I miss you. Sono starts to get a headache. He writes his email to the client, finishes his cleanup of the office, and goes home. It’s about 9 pm. He stops by the convenience store to pick up some food first, and when he leaves, someone grabs him on the shoulder. It’s Akito.

    Akito asks if Sono was with someone today. Sono doesn’t understand what Akito is saying, but he looks serious, so Sono shakes his head. Akito tells Sono to stay inside and wait for him, then heads out. Sono chases after Akito instead, not understanding his behavior. Sono sees the client from earlier in the day. She has been following him, and Akito thought she was a random stalker.

    Sono asks if she’s here for her earring. She nods but then shakes her head. Sono doesn’t understand her, but says that the earring is at the clinic. The client explains that she realized she lost her earring around lunchtime and came back. She went into the building with a delivery person and was hesitating by the door because she didn’t ring them from the intercom outside, but then she overheard Sono and Kido talking about her. How she could have been a recruiter for a religious group or something.

    Sono realizes how insensitive it had sounded. But he can’t help the way that he feels about himself.

    The client realizes that it was probably uncomfortable for Sono to be asked for his contact information of the blue, but she truly only wanted to get to know him better. She wanted to clear up the misunderstanding.

    Akito asks, So that’s why you followed him?

    The client apologizes. She came to the building but thought it would be weird to be waiting for him so late at night. And she didn’t know how to call out to him, and ended up following him. It doesn’t change that she followed him, and it must feel very uncomfortable. She tells Sono that she won’t bother him again, he can throw away the earring, and turns to leave.

    Akito goes after her, walks her to the train station and then comes back for Sono.

    Sono starts walking home and Akito follows him. Sono asks why Akito is here. Akito saw Sono’s message, and it seemed more like an emotional outburst than just him being tired or busy. On the way, he spotted Sono heading to the convenience store and the woman looking suspicious, hiding and following after him.

    Sono is feeling conflicted. He hurt the client with his words. Sono has never mattered to people; he’s only made them irritated or angry, or they’d laugh at him. He’s never made people sad or hurt. Is this what Kido was angry about? But Sono never wanted this. He never cared if people liked him. It’s scary, and he wants to live without getting involved with people. But Akito is still here next to him.

    Sono says that Akito’s probably thinking that he’s being ridiculous. Akito says, Well, yeah, it totally sounds like something you would say.

    Sono protests that he didn’t mean to hurt her. He never thought she would be hurt. Sono thinks of himself as nothing so he never imagined he could cause pain to other people. Even though he never tried to see how he looked in other people’s eyes.

    Akito mentions that he gets depressed sometimes when it comes to Sono.

    Sono thinks that then Akito shouldn’t get close to him. Just leave him alone. But Sono doesn’t say it out loud because Sono is the same. It hurts, but he can’t leave Akito. But the client was able to leave without a second thought.

    Sono says it’s fine because it’s Akito.

    Akito complains how mean Sono is. But he’s used to it and laughs.

    Sono realizes that no matter how much Sono denies himself, Akito doesn’t really get angry or annoyed. He’ll say, it’s fine, or that it doesn’t bother him, and that’s the end of it. Akito never denies Sono. And he doesn’t deny the Sono who denies himself.

    Sono tells Akito that he’s weird.

    From when they were kids, Akito never mocked Sono and never pitied him. He just accepted things as they are without thinking about them too deeply, in a good way, and Sono realizes that for such a long time, Akito has supported him deeply, much more than Sono had ever realized. Long before there was love or any physical relationship between them, Akito was the only one who gave Sono any warmth. Sono hesitates, wondering if he should tell this to Akito who’s sulking a little right now. After all this time, it embarrasses Sono. But before he can decide what to do, his cell phone rings.

    It’s the management company for Sono’s apartment building. The washer broke and flooded the apartment above Sono’s, and it probably flooded Sono’s apartment too. They hurry back together. Sono’s apartment is also flooded, but the building’s insurance will cover everything. He just needs to find a place to stay while they clean and repair the damage.

    Akito tells Sono to gather his necessities, documents, and valuables. And probably any food he can salvage from the fridge.

    Sono asks why. Akito tells Sono that he should stay at his place. Sono immediately refuses, but it’s an emergency situation. Akito tells Sono not to think too deeply about it. Akito would rely on Sono if something similar happened to him. Sono says he wouldn’t let Akito in, but he listens to Akito and gathers his things.

    It doesn’t take long and Akito comments that Sono never brings much with him. Sono knows that Akito doesn’t mean anything bad by it, but the fact that Sono has nothing feels like proof of Sono’s worthlessness. He has nothing precious to him. Like he hasn’t progressed at all since the day he left his parents’ house. He works and supports himself, but that’s all. Nothing’s changed except that he has a little more money.

    Sono asks what Akito would bring. Akito says pretty much the same stuff. Cash, cell phone, his seal, important documents, credit cards. Then maybe his favorite coat or particularly expensive sneakers. Now that he thinks about it, he keeps thinking of more things to bring.

    Sono has lived here for 3 years, but he feels no attachment to it. Even though he had worked so hard to live on his own here. He knows in his head that there are other people out in the world like this, that people are free to live however they want, but it just makes Sono feel empty inside.

    Akito asks if Sono wants to bring anything else. Sono doesn’t. As they go downstairs through the building, Akito seems to remember something. That his photo albums are all at home, so he doesn’t have to bring them.

    Sono wonders why that simple sentence hurts him so much. There was a time when Akito was estranged from his family and half-disinherited, but he still has a family to go home to. Akito has memories inside that house that he doesn’t want to be flooded and destroyed. Maybe that’s why Akito can face things with the attitude of whatever happens, it’ll be okay. Sono has never had anything like that, and it’s difficult to obtain later in life. He can’t even imagine himself as someone who has these things.

    It’s been an exhausting night.

    I think the part where Sono muses that he and Akito probably wouldn't have worked out even if the surgery didn't change Akito is so true. It's painful, but true. Sono has to work on himself more if he truly wants a relationship to work out with anyone. And this volume is Sono's journey through that process.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019 at 7:07 PM
    lazuuli likes this.
  18. nachte

    nachte Active Member

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    Here is the second part for Volume 2.

    Sono never thought this would be how he gets to see where Akito lives. They live on the same train line about 6 stations apart. It’s a 7 minute walk from the station to the apartment.

    It’s a 1-bedroom apartment.

    Akito tells Sono not to rush to find a new place. He should look over his current apartment contract and insurance conditions first.

    They’re hungry so Sono warms up some of the food that he’s brought with him from his apartment. Akito has cookware at his apartment, but he only has a single set of dishes for 1 person. He has paper cups and plates that Sono guesses that he uses if people come over. There are beer, milk and eggs in the fridge and lots of frozen meals in the freezer. It seems like how Akito would live.

    Sono apologizes that it’s not something that crunches up together and thanks Akito for walking the client to the station. Akito is always the first to take action when something happens. Akito replies that Sono once told him that it’s scary to say what you mean when there’s a power differential that puts you at a disadvantage. It had shook Akito a lot when Sono said that. He never had to think about things like that until Sono said it to him. He tries to be more careful about it, because he realizes how insensitive he can be if he acts without thinking. Sono had never said what was on his mind, and so his words really stuck with Akito. But then again, Akito knew that Sono liked Kanako at the time, and so maybe he was just desperate.

    Akito insists on Sono taking a bath first, and after a really quick one, Sono comes out to find all the dishes washed and put away and the door to the bedroom open. There is a simple desk, chair, and a bed. Akito is there adjusting the sheets. He’s a little unhappy that Sono was so fast, but he tells Sono to use the bed. Akito will use the floor or the sofa. Sono tries to decline and says he’ll take the floor, but Akito is pushy as always and won’t leave until Sono gets in the bed. When Akito is satisfied, he orders Sono to rest, turns off the lights, closes the door, and goes to take a bath.

    Sono can’t fall asleep. He’s too conscious about the bed being Akito’s and how it smells like him. He remembers how he was so used to it when they were living together. The sounds of another person using the shower, two sets of chopsticks clacking, the turning of the key to unlock the door. But here at this apartment, there is no trace of anyone else living here with Akito. There is a single set of dishes, a single toothbrush, a single pillow. Sono feels relief at this but also loathing for himself. At how easily he can be swayed to have these feelings well up for Akito. At how he was actually happy for all of this deep down inside. It was like they had returned to when they were kids and Akito would worry about him and take care of him. Is this what Akito meant by starting from the beginning? But no matter how hard Sono tries, he can’t return to the time when he didn’t love Akito.

    Sono panics. It’s dark. The bed is unfamiliar. And Akito’s scent is everywhere. They can’t continue this relationship in limbo forever, but somehow it’s comforting. It’s easier to be alone, but he gets to see Akito like this. Hope in itself is a source of fear. Hope that if he dares to wish it, it may come true. It’s because he has already seen what lies beyond the happy ending.

    Akito finishes his bath and opens the bedroom door to check on Sono, but Sono doesn’t pretend to be asleep and just says that he wants to switch. Akito pulls out a blanket from the closet and tries to go to the living room, insisting that Sono use the bed, but Sono sits up and grabs Akito’s sleeve. The apartment is mostly dark, and Sono can’t see the face that Akito is making.

    Akito says, fine. He spreads the blanket on the bed covers, says he’ll use the bed too, and pushes Sono over as he climbs in the bed. Sono starts protesting, but Akito cuts him off. He tells Sono to stop complaining. It’s late, and Sono is farther away from his work, so he’ll need to get up earlier than usual. Sono can’t move, stuck between the wall and Akito’s back facing him. Akito would probably get really mad if he tried to climb over him. Sono gives up and tries to find a comfortable position.

    Akito chuckles, remembering how he used to sneak under Sono’s futon covers back at his parents’. Sono complains about it and gives Akito a light smack to his back. Akito teases Sono and tells him to keep his hands to himself or he might get Akito into the mood. Sono calls him an idiot.

    For some reason, Sono thinks about the client from earlier. She first came in for stiffness in her shoulders on an introduction from one of Kido’s clients. They were making progress with her treatment, but now because of Sono, he can’t help her anymore, and it makes Sono feel bad. There was a lot more to do, but Sono ruined everything. He now sees this reality, and he’s overcome with regret and guilt that he wants release it somehow, whether with words or whatever. He wants to ask Akito what to do, he really did something terrible to her. Not that telling Akito would do resolve anything. Sono bites his lip.

    Akito asks Sono if there’s anything wrong. Is he crying? But Akito’s not even looking towards Sono. Sono wonders how Akito even guesses how he’s feeling. But he tells Akito that he’s not crying. Akito says okay and doesn’t pursue it. Sono squeezes his eyes shut, but he can still see the image of Akito’s back facing him. Just like staring at something bright, and how the image refuses to disappear afterwards. He can sense the warmth, scent and breaths from Akito right there next to him. Sono doesn’t think he can fall asleep like this.



    But he wakes up from a deep sleep in the morning. Akito wants to go out for breakfast on the way to the train station. He is already steering things his way again, but Sono just goes along with it. On the way out, Akito greets the landlady and introduces Sono to her, that he’ll be staying because his apartment was flooded. She’s a kind, elderly lady, and offers her help if Sono decides to look for a new place. Sono tries to say that he’ll leave as soon as possible, but the landlady gives the same advice as Akito, that there’s no need to rush things. If he doesn’t take the time to check things out properly, and there’s a problem, it will be 2 or 3 times the trouble.

    They eat by the train station, and Akito pushes a spare key on Sono and they head off in different directions for the day. Sono tells Kido how his apartment is flooded, and Kido asks where he’s staying. Sono doesn’t say anything, and Kido teases Sono saying that he worried about Sono and Akito for nothing. Sono changes the subject about the client from before and apologizes. Kido asks Sono what he thinks now about everything, considering their conversation from the day before. Sono says yeah, there’s a lot to think about, but if he’s asked if he feels the need to change? Then probably no. Kido says it’s fine, it’s Sono’s problem and he can think whatever he likes.

    Sono hates his last name, Januke. It’s unlucky sounding, he hates explaining what it means, and it leaves a strong impression on people when he’d rather not be noticed. He doesn’t really know if he hates himself, but he doesn’t like himself and there are lots of things that he hates about himself. But if he hates something then he hates something. There’s nothing he can do about it. It’s not like he can become a different person.

    But he still ensures that he gets the proper meals, exercise, and sleep. Just by breathing, the body will slowly break down eventually, and Sono has no intention of expediting the process. However, he wouldn’t call it taking care of himself. He sees no sense of worth in himself when he does these things. He doesn’t even know what it is to have a sense of self-worth. Is it different from conceit or delusion? He thinks that there’s probably some element of delusion in falling in love with another person. Akito is an extreme case of it. Sono shakes himself from his thoughts and focuses back on work.



    In the evening, Sono gets a message from Akito telling him that he’ll be back around 8 and asks what they should do for dinner. Sono replies saying if Akito doesn’t mind eating late, he can cook. Akito is happy and asks for something that crunches up together like coins or gravel again. Sono wonders what a food that crunches up together even means.

    Sono stops by the supermarket at Akito’s station. Obviously, it’s more fun to cook when he has someone to eat with than when it’s just for himself. Cooking gives him a peace of mind because he knows what the taste will be. But Akito will squint at the dish at first, and after a bite, will give him a happy look, saying that it’s really good. It makes Sono happy.

    But Sono can’t let things drag on like this. He understands his weaknesses very well. He’s tried to cut things off several times, but the time that they’ve spent together is far longer and it weighs heavier. Just like how Sono can’t cut his own past and memories away. Even though Sono is here living as an adult at a place far away from his hometown, parents, and classmates, even though he should be free, when he stops to look back, he notices the dark shadow that he’s been dragging along behind him. It just grows longer the farther Sono moves ahead, and it will never disappear. Sono doesn’t blame it on anyone; it is just the reality.

    Sono hears a good evening, and it’s the landlady. She’s impressed that Sono cooks. They chat and Sono mentions how Akito wants something that crunches up together. He’s thinking making fried onion rings. Normally, Sono doesn’t like chatting with other people, but he’s fine chatting with the landlady. It’s a new experience for Sono to chat so casually with someone that he just met in the morning. It makes him happy. They check out, and Sono carries the landlady’s grocery bags for her.

    On the way back, they see an elementary school boy, probably in the 2nd or 3rd grade, loitering on the street. The landlady calls out to him because it’s fairly late, but he runs off. The boy is called Minoru and he lives at one of the landlady’s properties. She sighs, hesitates to say more and changes the subject.

    Akito is already home when Sono gets back. Akito calls out, welcome home, and a feeling of nostalgia overcomes Sono as he stands at the front door. The 5 years that they had lived together make up a large portion of his life. If Sono turns 50 years old, it would make up 10% of his life. If he makes it to 100, then it would be 5%. Would the weight of those years fade with percentages? It’s very attractive to Sono to live on his own, to do whatever he likes. But he wonders what this warmth he feels is when he opens the door to find a brightly lit apartment and someone to greet him home. Even though he feels like “I’m home” and “welcome back” are greetings that have become meaningless. And so Sono stubbornly replies, sorry to intrude. Akito shrugs his shoulders and doesn’t say anything.

    Akito really enjoys the onion rings. Sono asks if he got the crunches up together right. Akito says there’s no right or wrong to any of his requests. He just likes to see what Sono comes up with. It makes him happy to have Sono put in so much thought into his requests. Sono complains that it’s a lot of trouble.

    Maybe it’s an aftereffect from talking with the landlady, but Sono asks what Akito does now for work. It surprises himself even. Akito looks surprised and asks if he ate something special today. Today Akito attended a seminar on the gig economy and other business topics. It impresses Sono how different Akito’s world is. But Akito says it’s the same for him, how Sono can help people feel better with his hands. Sono says it’s not magic. But Akito says it’s because it's not magic, that’s what makes it impressive.

    Sono wants to run away. Close his eyes and plug his ears. He wants to run from the racing of his heart like the time when he walked in on his parents when he was young. Sono doesn’t want to fall more in love with Akito.



    The insurance claim process goes smoothly. Maybe it’s because Sono doesn’t have much to begin with. Sono moves the things in his apartment that don’t need to be thrown out into his rental storage. Everything else would be handled by the management company. Sono doesn’t have to deal with cleaning or repairs. He should be finding a new apartment, but he doesn’t. It hasn’t even been a week, but like Sono had feared, their living together becomes like a new routine for them. He thinks that maybe a peaceful everyday life is actually dangerous. It dulls and paralyzes the senses.

    But Sono just simply enjoys living with Akito. These are the days that Sono had wanted so badly after he broke up with Akito. Waking up to see Akito there. Akito returning home with Sono there. Eating meals together. Chatting about nothing together. Days where nothing special happens. When they had lived together, Sono didn’t think of his days like this. He was just grateful for a nice place to live, and in return Sono did whatever Akito wished for—essentially an equivalent exchange. Sono wonders how things have changed like this. Will it change again in the future? But life went on, unbothered by his worries.



    Sono gets an email that his insurance payment was issued. He goes to the convenience store ATM to check that he got it okay. Tonight Akito is out drinking, so Sono doesn’t plan on making anything fancy. He remembers that he’s out of toothpaste and heads to the aisle. Someone shouts a “Hey!” It’s not directed at Sono; the worker is glaring at a boy standing in the magazine corner behind him. The worker yells that reading in the store isn’t allowed, and the boy runs away outside. Apparently the boy comes into the store often, never buys anything, and his parents are never around. Sono leaves without buying anything and finishes his shopping at the supermarket. He runs into the landlady at the bagging station and mentions how he saw a boy at the convenience store. Sono thinks he’s the same boy that the landlady called out to last time. Again, the landlady’s face turns dark at the mention of the boy. Sono is a little worried since it’s late and he’s so young. But it turns out that the boy is already in the 5th grade. Maybe Sono’s guess is a little off because he doesn’t know any children, but still, his growth seems pretty slow. When he was in 5th grade, Akito was always on his bike going places by himself, but that was the countryside and it was more than 10 years ago.

    Sono walks back together with the landlady and she tells him about Minoru. Minoru’s parents don’t seem to care about him. The other tenants hear them yelling a lot, and it worries them. It doesn’t surprise Sono. Maybe he had guessed that things would be like this for the boy from the first time that Sono saw him. It was obvious in his eyes that he was a child with no place to go.

    Minoru has a younger sister, but the parents seem to care about her. It makes the landlady feel worse for the boy. Sono asks if the children’s welfare center has gotten involved yet. Apparently people have seen them visit their home, but the parents insist that they’re just discipling the boy. There are no obvious bruises on him and his teacher hasn’t been helpful either. They haven’t moved in for very long, and maybe they might move again if they apply too much pressure on them. Or the pressure might escalate into physical abuse. It’s hard to determine how much they can step in for the boy.

    It applied both for the welfare center and for the landlady. They feel bad for the boy. They worry about him. But he isn’t their child. How ironic that Sono now understands how the adults felt when they looked at him when he was young. If he were to express it crudely, they hoped to never see him, to never have to deal with him, to never have to think about his circumstances. They want to keep their personal worlds free of these “poor children” like they don’t exist.

    But it was better than the other reaction, like the worker at the convenience store who would drive kids away from their sight. Even with Minoru’s head down, Sono could see the shame in his face. Maybe to an outsider, he looked angry or sullen, but Sono knew differently. It was an endless shame towards himself, at facing the worker’s contempt, at having no one to protect him. Shame that he realized that this treatment was a matter of fact for him, that he deserved it. But in Tokyo, as prosperous as it is, there is no place for these powerless children to go.

    Sono returns to the apartment and doesn’t feel like eating anything. He takes a bath and watches TV. He has 4 walls and a roof over his head—it’s a place where he doesn’t have to watch his behavior in front of anyone and he can relax and do nothing. This is what he dreamed about when he was younger and it was an extravagance that surpassed any theme park and any visit to a foreign country. Sono can’t really focus on any channel, and he sits there flipping through with the remote. He wonders if drinking would make times like this easier. He thinks his thoughts would only be muddier. The apartment lights are off and Sono wonders if the light from the TV is casting his shadow on the wall behind him.

    Sono hears the front door unlocking, and it’s like he’s suddenly raised to the surface from underwater and he’s gasping for breath. He turns off the TV and gets up.

    Sono says welcome back and Akito answers I’m home. Akito’s ears and cheeks are slightly red, and Sono thinks that Akito probably drank a lot tonight. Akito stares at Sono and asks him what’s wrong. Sono says it’s nothing, why does he ask? Akito replies that Sono never comes to the front door when he gets back. But it’s not like that many days have passed to call it “never,” and yet Sono finds himself searching his memories to try to confirm it. He doesn’t want to make these days his routine. He wants to answer, whatever, but what comes out of his mouth is something completely different.

    He’s lonely.

    Sono didn’t misspeak. Maybe it lurked deep in his heart. Maybe the boy that had nowhere to go had plunged Sono into a shadow and made him say it. But he didn’t know why he said it. Why did he think he could look Akito in the eye and say the words out loud? But then within a second, regret and anxiety sets in his heart; his heart tightens for a moment before pounding in his ears. He thinks Akito can probably hear it. But Sono isn’t clever enough to play it off as a joke; he can only stand there with his heart racing and his eyes unable to look away. He hopes that Akito plays it off as a joke. If Sono had drank, he could have blamed it on the alcohol. Then Akito can say something like, what are you saying, or like before, did you eat something special today, and Sono can fix things.

    Akito says, Mmh, I’m sorry. His face is tinged red, but serious, and his voice doesn’t sound drunk at all. Sono tries to brush away the arm that reaches for him, but Akito holds him tight and kisses him, ignoring the “No, don’t,” that Sono let slip just before it happened. Sono feels dizzy from the smell of alcohol, warm from Akito’s breath and heat, but the kiss continues for a while. Sono struggles, but it doesn’t do anything. Sono realizes that they haven’t kissed since Sono started staying at the apartment. Actually, they haven’t kissed like this in a long time. It was always a quick little peck, and so Sono never really turned them away. They could still go back. It wasn’t a big deal. He could allow it. That was the excuse that he had made to himself not knowing that he was probably seeking some kind of permission from someone. But this kiss is dangerous. It’s a kiss that holds a promise for something more. Sono’s body fully understands what comes next.

    Sono bites down on the tongue that slips in between his lips. There’s a muffled cry and Akito finally breaks the kiss, and Sono can put some distance between them. Akito says fairly angrily, that hurts, what did you do that for? Sono says that he should be asking Akito that same question. Akito rejects Sono’s passive counter, says of course he would kiss him in this situation. It would be stranger not to do anything. So why did Sono say something to make him think that Sono wanted it?

    It was probably reasonable. Sono makes an excuse and says he made a mistake. Akito asks what that’s supposed to mean? Did Sono mean to say the words to a different person? Sono is exasperated and says, no, idiot. Akito should know that there’s no one in Sono’s world other than Akito. Sono apologizes, because he knows that Akito usually can’t say anything back, and he knows he’s unfair for doing it.

    Akito grumbles a little, passes Sono to head to the bathroom to undress and shower. Sono only moves when he hears the water running and thinks he should probably sleep on the sofa tonight, but if Akito reads too much into things, it could rub him the wrong way. Sono decides to just head to the bed. He tries to stick to the wall as much as possible and tells himself to fall asleep like nothing had happened. Ha, if only he has such a trick up his sleeve. Akito comes out of the bathroom and Sono can’t sleep at all. Sono holds his breath and the mattress bounces harder than usual when Akito gets in, and it makes Sono want to shrink away. He feels a warm breath at the back of his neck. They would always sleep facing away from each other, so why is he facing towards Sono now? It makes Sono even more nervous, and he’s prepared to not get a wink of sleep tonight. He has the day off tomorrow, so it’ll be okay. He just chants in his heart, hoping that Akito will quickly fall asleep. It’s possible that he dozed off, but he feels a piercing stare at the back of his neck and he can’t relax. However, he doesn’t have the courage to turn and look, and so he just stares at the blank wall in front of him. He feels the breath on his neck get closer, and he wonders if he’s imagining things. He doesn’t know how much time has elapsed. He can’t trust his senses in this halfway gray darkness of the room.

    He feels the palm of a hand press up against his back, and he’s sure of that at least. It’s like Akito is burning a hand-shaped mark into him, and Sono can make out each finger. His heart starts pounding again. He thinks that Akito can probably feel it through his shirt. He tries to will himself to calm down, but his heart won’t listen. He’s quietly flustered in his stiff sleeping position, and all of a sudden he feels a breath against his earlobe.

    Sono lets out a sound of surprise. He knows that Akito did on purpose. He couldn’t stop his reaction at the surprise attack. And it wasn’t a disturbed or an unhappy sound, but one that he used when things got hot and heavy. Sono hurried to cover his mouth, but then Akito bit his ear.

    He can’t keep pretending to be asleep anymore. Sono waves his hand to fend Akito off, but then Akito grabs his hand and bites one of his fingers. Sono protests, and Akito says it’s payback for biting him earlier. They bicker like school children, but then Akito says Sono’s name in a tone filled with heat and desire. He pushes himself up against Sono and Sono loses all his words.

    Akito complains that he can’t settle down. He reaches over and finds Sono in the same state. Sono says he doesn’t care and to leave it alone. Akito complains that Sono is so cruel. He whispers that they can just get each other off. Nothing more. They can’t sleep like this, and it’s faster than taking turns in the bathroom. Sono asks if Akito is drunk. Akito answers maybe he is. There’s the unsaid implication, if that’s the excuse you need to tell yourself, it can be. Sono gives in and says okay.

    Sono can’t seem to run from Akito tonight. Akito’s not even the type to restrain himself in the first place. And yet, he still held on for this long, and Sono had let this fact slip from his mind. Sono takes a deep breath and turns to face Akito. He tries to convince Akito to forget about Sono’s state, he’ll just take care of Akito, but Akito rejects it immediately. He pretends that he’s too embarrassed if it’s just himself. And he knows that Sono is pretending to be unaffected, that he likes it too. Sono tells him to stop talking and covers Akito’s mouth. Akito licks it. Sono is exasperated, but he closes his eyes and lets things take their course.

    Sono hasn’t been touched like this since that rainy night last year. At the house that no longer belongs to his parents. Even though the following dawn, he had made his decision to never see Akito again, that he would live alone without him. He feels he’s betraying the oath that he made during that beautiful sunrise, and it almost shames him how much his body loves this.

    They kiss just as they finish each other off. Sono doesn’t hate any of it.

    They take turns washing up and sit on the bed. Akito scratches at his scar and remarks how he can think so much better afterwards. Sono smacks him in the shoulder and tells him that he’s always so pushy. Akito argues that Sono was the one who initiated it. Sono denies it, but Akito asks why Sono would come up to him and tell him that he’s lonely. Of course, he’d get in the mood. Sono tries to play it off as a mistake, but Akito asks if Sono wants to pretend that it never happened. If he wants Akito to forget about it, then he should say so. Don’t play it off as a mistake. Otherwise he won’t get the message.

    Akito is leaning his shoulder into Sono’s. Sono feels like he might fall over, and so he hardens his body and accepts Akito’s weight as they topple down. When Akito puts things so black or white, Sono can’t say anything. He’s silent, and the weight lifts off of him. Akito is curled up with his arms resting on his knees and his cheek resting on his arms. He sighs. It’s like his sulking, or giving up, or thinking that he’s messed up somehow. At any rate, the sigh doesn’t sound like something Akito would make. Akito tells Sono that he’s been waiting for Sono to say something. After they broke up, then Sono’s dad died, Akito called him over, but Sono left again, and Akito chased after him again saying let’s start over, Akito realizes that they can’t just let the same things repeat themselves. He’s giving Sono space while they’re together like this, waiting for Sono to come to a decision and tell him with his own words whether he wants this or not.

    Sono tells Akito that he never realized that was what Akito was doing. Akito says that it’s meaningless if he tells Sono. He was also waiting to see if Sono found another person to love.

    Sono tries to brush off the subject, saying Akito’s more likely to find someone else. But Akito points out that Sono was the one who had a girl fall in love with him. Anyway, he doesn’t want to talk about himself. Akito looks irritated. He says that he probably got impatient after nothing had happened after a year. It’s all on him.

    Sono wants to argue that he’s been left hanging too, but Akito suddenly says, I love you. Sono mind goes blank. Akito continues, If I said that, would you go out with me like before? If I said, hmm, it’s not really like that, would you just say goodbye and leave? Or just revert to a normal friend?

    Sono is angry that Akito would use those words to test him like that. Sono says that Akito is cruel. Akito says that Sono is unfair. When it’s time to take a step forward, Sono always hesitates, but when Sono decides to leave, he can always do it so manfully, leaving no opportunity for Akito to get his say in. Why does he do that?

    Sono thinks that he’s not manful about it. He makes a decision and acts on it. But maybe Akito is right, that it’s easier for him to give up. This is how he has lived his life for so long. He has never received anything special or normal; he feels like he doesn’t even have the right to wish for it. When he wants something, he’s ingrained to think, how can I possibly wish for it, and applies the brakes. When he gives up, he thinks, well, of course, it’s me, and that’s reason enough to give up.

    Akito says that time is pretty amazing. He doesn’t know how he has or hasn’t changed. He’s consistently been himself when it comes to his memories and basic personality. It’s true that a slightly different element was introduced to him when he hit his head. However…

    He scratches the scar from the surgery.

    Akito says that he can’t get back the same feelings from before the surgery, but he wonders if he didn’t have the accident, would the two of them really only be childhood friends? That Akito goes to Tokyo, and Sono stays in Nagano. Just exchanging pleasantries when Akito goes home from time to time. Then getting married and never seeing Sono again? Even if Akito can imagine it, he doesn’t think that it would ever happen. He thinks it’s impossible for him to cut off all ties with Sono. And he doesn’t want to hear Sono say that it’s all a theory and meaningless, because Sono always runs wild with his negative thinking.

    Sono wonders if he’s saying that even without the landslide, they could still fall in love. It’s too much of a fairytale. But no matter what Sono says, Akito will probably never change his opinion. Even if he denies it over and over again.

    Sono says that he wishes he was more like Akito. It’s not defensive, it’s how he really feels. But Akito doesn’t like that. He grimaces and says he would never get along with someone who acted just like him. Sono laughs. Akito lets out a loud yawn and says, let’s go to sleep. They don’t have to figure everything out now.

    They sleep with their backs facing each other again. The sheets still feel warm from earlier and Sono feels relieved. It would make him sad if they were cold. He gets ready to fall asleep but Akito speaks to him again. He says that he asked Sono’s client what she liked about Sono. Sono asks why he asked something so stupid. He doesn’t want to hear it. Akito says it anyway. She answered that Sono is quiet and calm and that gentleness just seems to come naturally to him. Sono marvels at how it’s essentially another way to say awkward and slow.

    Akito says that Sono can really put on an act for others, huh? Sono insists that she’s just putting things nicely, but Akito thinks she sees a Sono that he doesn’t know. It makes him happy and annoyed. The same goes for Kido.

    Sono says he’s sleeping now and says good night. Akito says one more thing before they sleep. If Akito wakes up tomorrow morning and finds Sono gone, he’s going to be seriously depressed.

    This is about 40% of Volume 2.

    I was sooooo glad to see Akito call Sono out on his habit for only taking action when he wants to give up and run away. The entire 1st Volume I was raging and crying about Sono's passiveness except when it came to breaking up and leaving Akito.

    I found that someone wrote a detailed summary of another one of Ichiho-sensei's novels! It's called Yuki yo Ringo no Ka no Gotoku (Snow, with the Scent of Apples) and it's her debut novel. Very cute and moving, but having read her other novels, I can see how her writing hasn't quite polished up yet. It's still quite good, but she has this way of making every scene have a purpose, and some of the elements are a little aimless when compared to her later works.

    You can read the summaries here. Note though, the MC's name is Shio, not Shiho.
    https://insaneneko.livejournal.com/400422.html
    https://insaneneko.livejournal.com/400661.html