"So, how was it over there?" she asks me.
I offer her some table napkins from the counter but she kindly turns them down.
We've already been at the place for an hour, talking about things old and new. At school, there seems to be a roster change of teachers, and a number of new foreign students just flew in recently.
I could've done without that piece of information, as I seem to be developing a bit of xenophobia thanks to my stay in, well, that country.
I don't even want to say its name.
"No thank you, I'm fine now. I've stopped crying already haven't I? Geez..." she giggles.
I sit there with a smile on my face, grateful that she hasn't changed... well, at least not entirely.
She's still the same Rin Kurosawa I've been with the whole summer last year, the same one who stayed up all night with me at the park, the same one who wouldn't think twice about doing something stupid as long as it was with me.
But no, that was a while back, I've got to focus on the now, where I can build up all my chances with her again.
It's not like we ever... broke up, but... it's strange, almost awkward to have seen her out of the blue after all this time.
"Yeah, I guess so..." I say, my eyes trailing off her powdery-white face and onto the table.
After a moment, I look back up and notice she's pouting with some air of excitement about her. My expression shifts from nonchalant to confused.
"So are you going to tell me or what?" she questions me.
"What, about over there? Well yeah, but I'm... not sure I can remember all the details. I mean it's been a rough ride for me ever since I got there, though I'm sure none of it was too important." I tell her.
She eases up a bit in her seat, and looks at me with a little bit of disappointment.
"So... you're saying you didn't enjoy it there?" she asks me.
I sigh and tell her now, in quite possibly the most honest way I can.
"Well, being there wasn't exactly the most thrilling thing in my life... but to be honest with you, it felt kinda... sorta... sort of..."
I stumble over all the words I say, looking for that one word that would describe my entire experience there.
Then she says something that answers my question.
"Exactly!" I carelessly say out loud. "Of course... with... without you I mean." I mutter under my breath.
I must've struck a chord somewhere, because her eyes begin to shimmer again with that same familiar glint. She wasn't going to cry again, was she?
Sure, I could tell she's gotten stronger, but I might be wrong when I say she's become something of a cry-baby.
"Rin, are you okay?" I ask.
She says nothing, but stands from her seat across the table and plops down right next to me, wrapping her arms around my shoulders.
"I felt the same way, too." she sobbed softly on my shoulders.
"It's okay to cry, Rin. If you’ve been like this for some time, it's okay to cry." I tell her.
I know it may sound like it came from some corny novel, but it was true what I said.
I'm standing by the belief that even though you may be the strongest person there is, that doesn't mean you can't cry; especially for others, because if you didn't then you'd be better off not existing at all.
I held her arms with my hands, and both of us sat still in the comfort of the air-conditioned room.
We stayed in that very spot, on the leather-covered seats of that ice-cream parlor around the block.
I must've been asleep for a couple of hours, because when I awoke, it was getting dark outside.
Rin couldn't be bothered by how late it was, as she was still asleep, her head leaning against my shoulders, softly breathing in the cold of the parlor's conditioned air.
I had a text message in my cell phone; it was from uncle Kaien asking where I had been. I chuckle to myself, imagining the worry-wart tantrum my uncle must be having right now.
I've skipped school and came home late on the same day.
I know I won't be getting a warm welcome tonight when I get home, maybe a beat down from Uncle Kaien.
Yeah...that's more than likely.
"Hey, there buddy. How's the school been for you, is it alright?" asks the chocolate haired man to the gloomy one across the hall.
It was time for dismissal and the start of cram school at Sakamoto High. Two teachers have just finished their schedules for the day, and are on their way home.
The first man, was tall and lean; he dressed mainly in dark attire, with a single purple scarf standing out from it all.
"I'm at a loss for words here, though... I do find it strangely nostalgic." says the red-haired man.
He was dressed in semi-formal attire: a midnight blue two-button blazer, with similarly colored slacks and black, shiny shoes. His crimson-shaded bangs completely conceal his mysterious eyes.
They both walk down the hall together, turning a corner to go down the stairs that lead to the lobby at the ground floor.
"Hm? How so?" asks the first man. "Where I'm from, we don't even have these.”
"What, school or decent clothes?" the second one retorts.
"Rhetorical questions need not be answered, Dojima." he says, just before Dojima could utter a sound.
"You're a ray of golden sunshine, you know that Hirano?" Dojima sarcastically replies.
"Anyways, how long do we have to wait before we get do something professional?" he asks as the two men walk down the second flight of stairs.
Hirano stays silent, ignoring what Dojima just said and refuses to answer.
Dojima doesn't take this as a yes or no, like many of his kind would, so he repeats the question, with twice the insistence.
"Hey, didja hear me? I asked you a question, Hirano. Don't be giving me that silent-type crap, 'cuz you know I hate that." the silence continues for about 5 seconds, with no answer afterwards.
The two teachers descend closer to the ground floor as the sun starts to slowly set back into the horizon, ready to shine upon the other side of the earth,
"Are you even listening to-..."
"There has been no call yet, no order to take any action, no instruction to do anything of our own accord." Hirano finally answers.
"Dojima... if you were to go do something stupid that would compromise our guises then I recommend you not showing your face to me ever again. Because if you ever do so, then I would cut your throat without so much as a word. Have I been thorough enough with my explanation? Because I absolutely hate repeating myself.”
"Hmph. You've been as thorough as a second-hand douche bag, Hirano. Don't worry, you don't need to tell me twice."
Dojima shook his head in disbelief at how obnoxious his partner had become.
Or wasn't he always like this? Of course he was, the events that had truly changed the way he was lie in his darkened past, to which no one – sans himself – had access to. If someone knew, then he would be as silent as a corpse. Literally, too, since Hirano wouldn't dare leave anyone alive if they knew about him.
The two grown men stayed quiet all the way through the school gate, until one of them had come up with an idea. It did not comfort the stoic one at all to know where this was going.
"Hey! I just thought up something good! Hirano, wanna hear it?" the boisterous Dojima exclaimed, pumping his fist into the air in excitement.
Hirano looked at him in anticipation, waiting for him to answer his own question.
"Hmm... I'll take that as a 'yes'." he says with a Cheshire Grin.
"What's say we go out tonight and drink our asses off! It'll be great! Just you, me, and all the drink we can possibly ever have! Waddaya say?" as the overly-enthused Dojima turned to his friend, Hirano was already walking home in the distance, with gloved hands in his pockets.
Dojima's grin had morphed quickly into pursed lips, as he thought to himself:
That man never knows how to take it easy.