“The Chinese Trumpet Vine certainly is a fickle flower . Under the clear summer blue sky, its green vines will grow wildly upon trees, walls, and bloom bright orange flowers! The Chinese Trumpet Vines were originally plants that grew on the ground, but sometimes, to show its affections for a Pine tree, it would twirl its vines upon the branches, grow towards the sky, and bloom. However, its fickle-mindedness means that it will occasionally climb upon the nearby Cedar and Cypress trees, making the Pines jealous.”
Lessons were still proceeding as Koremitsu scowled at the cellphone. Hikaru, as per usual, was talking about plants above him with the usual sweet effeminate voice.
The elderly male teacher was standing at the podium, teaching English, but his slow monotonous tone was enough to render anyone drowsy. Koremitsu’s eyes were not closed however; they were blazing, his eyebrows were raised as he scowled.
(!!! THAT’S ENOUGH–ALREADY!!!)
He grumbled softly as he faced the cellphone screen.
His consternation was not caused by the ramblings of his friend floating in the air, for he was used to them.
The real cause of it was his classmate, seated beside him, her face pouting as she fiddled with her cellphone–Honoka Shikibu.
Honoka’s stare was facing the front, her expression rigid as her fingers were tapping at the cellphone below the table fluidly. As a result, Koremitsu’s phone was vibrating.
(That’s the 5th one already!)
Lethargic, he opened the message.
“You weren’t around during break time. Did you look for Her Highness Aoi (*ˋ･ω･ˊ)?”
There was also a JIS emoticon inside.
The message before that was,
“Where did you go during the break?”
And before that,
“You weren’t around during the break.”
And even before that,
“Your face is as red as a monkey’s.”
And before that one
“What’s the matter?…Though I don’t really care.”
It was quite a long runaround, and though she was being overly aloof, this was the first time she mentioned Aoi by name, causing Koremitsu to be quietly shocked.
(Is there a need to specifically ask such a question in class!?)
Koremitsu curled his lips, and never replied. In response, Honoka frowned, twiddled her fingers, and Koremitsu’s cellphone vibrated again.
He opened the mail,
“What did you do with Her Highness Aoi!?ヽ(●`口′●)ノ”
Well, that was a fastball.
“Wow! Miss Shikibu is flaring her temper! She certainly is worried about Miss Aoi; she was looking gloomy during break time.”
Hikaru peeked at the cellphone from above, and commented,
(Damn it! Don’t look!)
Koremitsu heard that effeminate pretty face chime in enthusiastically, covering the screen with his hand as he typed.
And after this reply,
“But Her Highness Aoi just confessed to you this morning, no?”
Honoka was seated beside him, gritted her teeth and frowning.
(What confession–that’s not it…she did say that she wants me to be her boyfriend…but what she meant this…)
Koremitsu’s mind was trying to come up with excuse as he sweated profusely.Honoka’s cheeks were blushing slightly as she stared at the blackboard frenziedly.
After seeing her expression, Koremitsu felt his throat shrink, and he had difficulty breathing as his face was completely tense.
(Damn it, this is troublesome!)
He continued to tap at the cellphone keys.
“That’s not a confession.”
“Then what is it(｡･`ω′ ･｡)?”
“She just had something on, and asked me to accompany her.”
“That’s not it!”
“Don’t lie! It’s a date!”
“I said it’s not!”
Hikaru could not bear to watch this any further, and said with diffidence.
“I say, Koremitsu, do not scowl that much and write some nice calming words for Miss Shikibu, will you not? For example, the floral language of Asian Hazel is reconciliation’, the lavender is ‘a mutual understanding heart’, and the Carnation is ‘I believe in your love’. Either of these will be good. Be like a gentleman and gently write some floral words to her.”
(You’re noisy! Shut up, you flower-maniac of a ghost!)
Koremitsu grumbled in his heart, and replied back, “I said that’s not it!”
In the end, both of these were going about with such meaningless exchanges, and Koremitsu got a last message,
“What? To think I was worried about you!
I don’t care about you now! Don’t ever send me a mail again! o(＞＜;)O!”
“I should be the one saying that!”
And so, this exchange between them ended.
Once it was break time, Koremitsu clicked his tongue and got up from his seat, while Honoka turned aside angrily.
♢ ♢ ♢
“Goodness! Women are all like that! Why in the world must I be questioned by her?”
Koremitsu grumbled on the corridor.
He was originally deemed as a leader of gangsters because of his red hair and savage looks, and was ostracized as a result. At this point, his veins were bulging, his back was arched, and his walking posture was akin to a wheezing wild dog; all the ordinary students would hurriedly make a way for him.
Beside him, Hikaru chimed gently,
“But you are being very unfair to Miss Shikibu when you say such things. It was rare enough that both of you agreed to go to the pool, and right when the atmosphere was ripe, Miss Aoi came up and said, “Please be my boyfriend.” How can Miss Shikibu remain unmoved after hearing those words?”
Koremitsu was speechless.
It was true…that the mood between him and Honoka was a little better…before Aoi said those impactful words.
At that time, Honoka did not show him that fierce glare, and neither did she pout.
“Let’s go to the pool”
Her face was completely beetroot when she said that.
Koremitsu was so flustered he was at a loss of what to do, but he did answer her “Yeah” with a achingly sweet feeling.
And then, Aoi ran over to him with a pale look on her face, making a shocking request…no, she had her issues.
That reason was troubling Koremitsu.
“Ah…yo…what about that?”
Koremitsu was frozen all over, completely tense as he glanced at Hikaru.
And Hikaru spoke with a matured look,
“It is a wonderful thing to have a pretty, kind, honest girl with such beautiful legs like Miss Shikibu to be jealous about you. You should not ignore her.”
The light shone in through the corridor windows, dyeing Hikaru’s white tender face. His light brown hair was dazzling golden, and there was no signs of gloom on his gentle sidelong face. His tone and expression looked really gentle…
“Y-You…you’re rather calm unlike Shikibu.”
Koremitsu murmured, ostensibly testing the latter.
After what happened in the morning, Koremitsu was thoroughly vexed by Honoka’s unhappiness, and was uneasy about Hikaru’s reaction.
Why was it that he could look so aloof?
“Is there anything you want to say to me?”
Hikaru tilted his head.
Koremitsu was left breathless and growled,
“…I’m talking about Aoi! You don’t care!?”
(Damn it! This guy’s definitely playing dumb!)
He inadvertently suspected.
–Mr Akagi, please be my boyfriend!
At the instance Hikaru’s ex-fiancee Aoi said this with a pleading look, Koremitsu was at a loss of what to do.
“It’s a little inconvenient for me now…we’ll talk later!”
He was already exerting all his strength trying to raise his voice.
Honoka looked stupefied as she watched from the sidelines, and Koremitsu was flustered, sweat trickling all over him.
During break time, Koremitsu went to the Arts room to hear the details from Aoi. Aoi had her knees closed together as she sat on the chair, fidgeting about probably out of frustration or embarrassment.
“When I was looking for Shiiko, I asked Father and the elders in my family about the engagement between my friend and Mr Kuze’s son…perhaps because of this…Father and the rest mistook that I was interested, and started talking to me about engagement…”
Aoi lowered her head, her petite body shrinking further.
“Hikaru just passed away recently, and I really do not wish to look for a new partner immediately, but Father and the rest said that it is better to make a decision sooner so that I can soon forget about Hikaru…so I carelessly told me…”
She swayed her legs about, blushing, and after a while, lowered her head and spoke in a teeny-weeny voice,
“…I said that I had a boyfriend.”
“I told them that a certain friend of Hikaru often came by to comfort me after Hikaru had passed away, that the person is really nice and often talks to me about Hikaru, so we naturally had feelings for each other…I-I am sorry!”
Aoi was complete ambashed, her head and neck completely red.
“I could not think of any other man, so I could only talk about you, Mr Akagi. But Father and the others said that they want to meet you. I said that you will be troubled if Asa were to know about this, so we could only date each other secretly. I tried giving all sorts of excuses, like we met in school, and never talked to each other in front of others, but they would not listen…and even said that they would help me hide this from Asa, that I have you bring you along and introduce you to them.”
Aoi’s smooth flowing black hair was swaying weakly.
After seeing Aoi being so tentative, even Koremitsu felt sorry for her.
But the situation itself was already ridiculous.
How could Aoi, a refined princess, go out with a wild hound like him? Furthermore, Aoi was a girl Hikaru really treasured.
It was too despicable of him to have an affair with a friend’s woman, especially when this friend was always beside him.
(But Aoi’s forced to be betrothed because she helped me to look for Shiiko.)
Koremitsu could understand how Aoi felt. She always loved Hikaru since young, and naturally, could not get engaged with anyone else immediately.
Koremitsu fell in love with a girl for the first time, Yū, and had to separate from her; at this point, he still could not bring himself to date another girl.
“Just once, please? During the garden party this week, d-do you mind acting as my boyfriend? It is a garden party, just a simply party where people just stand around eating. You just have to be with me and eat whatever you want. Please!”
Aoi pleaded him with a teary look,
Koremitsu had no choice but to agree.
Hikaru did not object, and did not look surprised at all as he merely watched over them with a reluctant silent expression.
“Why didn’t you say anything back then? I know I don’t have much love experience, but I think anyone in such a situation won’t be very happy. I mean, who’ll be willing to see their fiancee elope with another man? Even if there’s a suitable reason, even if it’s temporary, you’ll find it unforgivable. You’ll want to curse or kill that guy, right?”
Koremitsu glared at Hikaru while they were in a corner of the empty corridor, expressing his inner frustrations.
“It is fine. Miss Aoi is pretty troubled at the moment, and I do feel that you are most suited to be her boyfriend.”
Hikaru spoke heartily.
His handsome face showed a pure smile.
(Isn’t this guy going to thrash about furiously or something?)
It certainly was foolish of Koremitsu to feel guilty for agreeing to act as Aoi’s boyfriend. Though he did not want to be hated by Hikaru, he was furious at the sloppy attitude shown by the latter.
As Koremitsu continued to grumble with a frown, Hikaru showed a clear Saint-like expression, answering,
“I do not wish for Miss Aoi to remain single because of me. I do earnestly wish that she will one day be with her true beloved. That man however has to be more handsome than me, has a nicer voice than me, has better eloquence, is more familiar with female interests, understands more about floral languages, and is more refined at kissing techniques than me, and will show more effort in protecting Miss Aoi than me.”
“YOU’RE NOT ALLOWING ANYONE TO WOO HER AT ALL! THERE’S NO SUCH PERSON ANYWAY!!”
It was likely that only one out of a thousand men would be well versed in floral language.
Hikaru then showed a dazzling smile,
“Love is a free thing after all, so I do not mind at all. However, it is advised that you do not remain too close to Miss Aoi, for she will be extremely tense.”
…Looks like he’s somewhat worried.
Koremitsu heaved a sigh.
(I really don’t know what this guy’s thinking. I don’t know whether he’s simple minded or an enigma. He looks jovial at times, and yet unexpected gloomy at times…well, he became a ghost at such a young age, and he has all sorts of troubles, so I guess he’s having it tough.)
Koremitsu pondered silently as he compared his plight with the ghost and himself, the one being afflicted.
“Also, Miss Shikibu will definitely get jealous if you and Miss Aoi have an improved relationship.”
“Ack–that has nothing to do with this, right?”
Hikaru gave a cryptic chuckle,
“it is better for you to be with Miss Shikibu. It certainly s rare to have such a nice girl; though she may act aloof in front of you, and is trying to act haughty, but you can make her laugh here and there.”
“Y-You idiot, what’re you saying!? I don’t care! She’s the one who likes to get angry! Why must I take the initiative to get along with her?”
“Both you and Miss Shikibu really are stubborn.”
“Don’t smile like you’ve seen through everything! It’s annoying!”
“Yes yes. Let us go see some flowers and calm down for a while. The Chinese Trumpet Vine in the courtyard is about to bloom, and the Oleanders are pretty the way their thin, thread-like petals. They do resemble the peach blossoms, but have poison in them; this is where their charm lies. Oh, the Hibiscus is able to bloom soon.”
“I don’t have the time to look at flowers.”
“Please, just a little while?”
Hikaru, who loved flowers so much, was pleading, “Tch, you leave me with no choice.” and Koremitsu grimaced as he went off to the courtyard.
“Just watch for a while. If you want to keep looking at them, we’ll come back after school.”
Hikaru beamed, ostensibly chuffed that he could watch the flowers.
Koremitsu was often forced to accompany Hikaru in viewing the flowers after he was haunted by the latter. He was amazed at how Hikaru could watch them without getting tired of them.
Hikaru said that every single flower had a different appearance, but the utterly crude Koremitsu was not delicate enough to comprehend that, aren’t they all just flowers? merely wondering this,
They arrived at the hallway; the scenery of the courtyard clearly shown before him.
This was the place Koremitsu first met Hikaru.
When he was anxiously looking for the staff room, he found an effeminate pretty student leaning by the pillar.
That boy was so pretty Koremitsu assumed he was a girl, and he was the only one not afraid of Koremitsu, who was shunned by everyone out of fear, even showing an earnest smile…
–Then, I’ll come over to your class to borrow your textbook then, Mr. Akagi. There’s something I want to ask of you, too.
The sweet voice he heard back then suddenly awoke in this soothing summer wind, and Koremitsu had the feeling that an effeminate boy with a crystal look was standing behind a pillar.
What flowers were blooming there back then?
He could not recall.
Currently, there were trumpet shaped Orange Chinese Trumpet Bells, thin red Oleanders swaying slightly in the wind, dangling from the racks; in the middle, the white Hibiscus with red tints on them were fighting for space, blooming.
“The floral language for Chinese Trumpet Bells has many meanings, including colorful life, overflowing love, femininity…there are lots of them.”
Hikaru spoke cheerfully.
He suddenly blurted in surprise.
“…There are a lot of fallen flowers.”
Koremitsu, upon hearing this from Hikaru, noticed that there were lots of flowers scattered around the racks and trees, petals everywhere…
“Is it because the wind’s too big?”
“If that were the case, the flowers at the top will fall as well…”
Hikaru stared at the crown of the flower racks, looking confused.
Suddenly, a strong gust blew.
Koremitsu raised his hand to protect his eyes.
The air, filled with intense light and sweltering air, ruffled Koremitsu’s red hair.
As he widened his eyes…
He found his vision being dyed red.
He thought they were petals.
But it was red flowing hair, volant like petals.
A student walked out from behind a pillar, just as Hikaru did back then.
That person was dressed in a skirt, surely she was a woman.
Looking at the voluptuous breasts, slender waist, rounded figure, it was certain she was a female.
Her glistening, flowing red hair was draped gently upon her large humps, the curled ends of her hair swaying sublimely at her waist.
The noble, graceful face of hers was no inferior to her hair, as her long eyelashes were curled opulently, the plump lips showing a smile of decisiveness.
The surroundings were ostensibly brightened the instant she appeared, fascinating red flowers seemingly filling them.
Hikaru’s catchphrase was ‘girls are like flowers’, and this student here was undoubtedly the crown of them all.
(When did this woman appear? Why’s she smiling at me?)
Like Hikaru, she looked at Koremitsu fearlessly, her stare was earnest yet purposeful.
“Are you Koremitsu Akagi?”
Koremitsu’s heart immediately raced the instant the other person called his name with such a cheerful, impressionable voice.
“How do you know my name?’
The girl narrowed her eyes, and smiled, answering,
“You are famous after all.”
This conversation was similar to the one he had with Hikaru the first time they met.
And back then, Hikaru suddenly mentioned that he wanted to borrow the Classics textbook–
The girl slowly approached him, her red hair swaying gently as her long slender limbs were dancing elegantly.
“Here, this is for you.”
She suddenly handed him a textbook,
The Classics textbook!
“Lending this to you.”
While Koremitsu was left speechless, she opened her plump red lips, and showed a mature smile, saying,
“Please return it to me at the Japanese Dance Clubroom after school. I shall be waiting there.”
“Huh? The Japanese Dance–hey!”
The girl had already turned away, walking with light steps. Koremitsu hurriedly called for her, and she turned around with a smile on her face, saying to him with a cute cheeky expression.
“I have a request to make later.”
His breath was stuck in his throat.
–There’s something I want to ask of you.
The red hair swayed as it departed.
Koremitsu watched on with a nonplussed look.
“Koremitsu, the bell just rang. If you do not return to the classroom,”
Hikaru’s voice cajoled Koremitsu to his senses.
“Hey! Hikaru! Who’s that woman? Someone you know?”
Certainly, her quotes could not have been strikingly similar to Hikaru’s if that was not the case.
As Koremitsu asked while running back to the classroom, Hikaru loosened his lips.
“Hm, I was surprised that she would appear so suddenly. It is rare that you would be so mesmerized by a girl, Koremitsu You even spaced out there.”
I just didn’t hear the bell, that’s all…!
Upon seeing Koremitsu pout unhappily, Hikaru looked ecstatic.
“You do not have to hide it. No man is able to withstand Tsuyako’s charms.”
“Tsuyako? That woman? You know her after all!”
Koremitsu panted as he raced down the corridor, while Hikaru spoke to him with a refreshing voice.
“Yes. She is Tsuyako Udate–the grandest, elegant of them all in the garden, the red weeping cherry blossom.”
♢ ♢ ♢
Koremitsu arrived at the classroom right before the teacher arrived, and was huffing as he sat at his seat.
He stared at the Classics Textbook in his hand, and found that it was for the second year.
(So she’s older than me by a year? She’s my senior? But I can’t use this Second Year’s textbook even if I borrow it.)
What was she trying to do?
At this instance, Koremitsu suddenly sensed a stare, turned around, and found Honoka watching him with her cheeks puffed.
(She’s still angry?)
Koremitsu in turn glared back defiantly.
And Honoka pouted her lips as she turned away.
(~Argh!!! Women are that troublesome after all!!)
This standoff between him and Honoka lasted till classes ended.
“Hey, what does that woman want from me?”
“Who knows? I do not have a clue either. Perhaps she just wanted to talk to you.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Koremitsu whispered to Hikaru with a scowl on his face as he proceeded down the corridor on the 4th level.
“While you were hospitalized, I often talked with Tsuyako regarding you. I always lamented, yearning that you would arrive at school sooner, and once that happened, I could be friends with you and exchange textbooks “
The instance Hikaru mentioned about it using his sweet fragrant voice, Koremitsu felt his face sizzle a little.
And so, Koremitsu gingerly tried to change the topic,
“A-nyway, the Japanese dance you talk of, it involves dancing in kimonos, right?”
“Yes. The school style Tsuyako belongs to is the ‘Your Shadow’, one of the newest trend of styles often seen on television. She attained the right to inherit the style name at the age of 15.”
“Is that amazing?”
“It really is. Though there are those who achieved such a privilege at a younger age, Tsuyako’s dance is really special. The way she dances is elegant, like the red flowers falling from the sky.”
Hikaru eyes were dazzling as he boasted, ostensibly bragging about himself. However, Koremitsu did not really understand, for he was unfamiliar with the arts, and hardly watched television.
He soon arrived at the classroom with the ‘Japanese Dance Club’ signboard on it.
He knocked on the door.
A clear impressionable voice could be heard.
Koremitsu opened the door.
The inside was wider than he expected, large enough to lay out 8 tatamis.
He was taken aback to see her dressed in a white Juban, draped in a refreshing light blue color kimono.
The tender white name and the thin undergarment revealed the alluring lumps of voluptuous breasts.
“I am currently changing clothes now. I am currently the only member of this club, so you do not have to worry.”
Koremitsu was blushing in embarrassment, trying his best to avert his eyes. Tsuyako remained unabashed however as she combed her hair in a refined manner.
She tied her glamorous looking light red Obi and gently moved her hair to the side, tying it. During that time, Koremitsu remained in a corner of the room, facing the wall as he stood still, clenching his fists.
Looking rather amused, Tsuyako let out a chuckle.
“You cannot see it when I have my Juban on, so you do not have to worry about that, Mr Akagi. You certainly are gentlemanly unlike your appearance.”
(You mean that I look like some perverted rapist or something?)
As Koremitsu frowned, Tsuyako said,
“Please, have a seat.”
She knelt upon the tatami, her white tender hands placed elegantly on her knees.
Her actions were regal, gentle, feminine. Perhaps this was due to her dance training?
Koremitsu remained wary of her, but even he too was mesmerized.
Tsuyako was seated in a Seiza position, and Koremitsu was apprehensive about sitting with his legs folded. With his back slouched, he knelt upon the tatami gingerly, took out the Classics Textbook from his school bag, laid it out on the tatami, and handed it over.
“Here…I’m returning this.”
“Oh? Thank you.”
Tsuyako brought the textbook to her chest, smiling innocently like a child who had succeeded in pranking.
This mature beauty suddenly looked so cute, and Koremitsu’s heart raced at that instance.
(What am I doing, idiot! She’s just being polite with me! What’s there to be panicky about? Hikaru’s going to laugh at me again!)
At this point, Hikaru would certainly be watching Koremitsu’s reaction from sidelong, smiling away.
With Tsuyako watching him with such intent, even Koremitsu, who never had interest in women, was itching all over.
It was not a feeling of anxiety he felt when he was at Yū’s house; it was one more aggressive, causing his face and body to sizzle.
–the grandest, elegant of them all in the garden, the red weeping cherry blossom.
Koremitsu assumed that all the flowers were the same, but this flower was certainly different from the rest.
To hide his nervousness, he scowled, trying to alive aloof as he asked,
“…What do you want from me?”
Tsuyako smiled,and answered,
“I will like to have you as my boyfriend.”
Koremitsu’s back straightened while he was taken aback by this reply, nearly falling backwards.
She wants me to be her boyfriend?
“Oh, so that is how it is.”
Hikaru murmured to himself.
(What’s with that response? How in the world are you able to remain this calm?”
“Aren’t you Hi-Hikaru’s girlfriend or something?”
“Yes, I am one of Hikaru’s many flowers. I would say however that rather than a girlfriend, we are accomplices, or you may call me his mistress.”
Tsuyako sat still as she answered with a smile.
Cold sweat appeared upon Koremitsu’s skin.
(Why’s a High School Student talking about things like ‘Mistress here’!?)
“An-Anyway, you dated hikaru before, right? How can you date Hikaru’s friend afterwards? He’ll be sad if that happens.”
“I do not really mind as long as Tsuyako is happy.”
“Hikaru will support me no matter who I date. I have always been like this; love is free after all.”
“You stop spouting nonsense too!”
“I am beautiful after all, and I do release pheromones that attract the opposite gender.”
“So what about that!?”
She actually boasted that she was beautiful. Well, she certainly was beautiful, and certainly, she does give off lots of pheromones.
“I became single from the moment Hikaru passe away, so there are others clinging onto me every day, which is an annoying thing. It is dangerous and troublesome for women to be too attractive; if I have someone like you with that savage delinquent-like expression…no, feisty looking man, it will be much easier for me to repel the pests.”
“That’s what you’re really amazing for!?”
Certainly, that man would not be called a boyfriend, but a guard dog…no, a pesticide.
“Well, with Koremitsu standing guard nearby, it is most likely that no male students will approach her.”
(Why’re you agreeing wholeheartedly like that !!?)
“I was joking about having you as my boyfriend.”
“And you just admitted to that so callously!? Why’re you making such jokes!?”
“Sorry about that. Your reactions were too amusing, so I could not help but want to tease you a little.”
“I understand how she feels.”
(I told you not to butt in!)
Koremitsu was utterly livid, his head broiling. Unwilling to care about Tsuyako any further, he stood up.
“You done with your words? I’m going then.”
Tsuyako’s tone seemed anxious for some reason.
“I really am troubled.”
She lifted her head at Koremitsu, still seated in the Seiza position, her once lively expression now ostensibly hazy, looking extremely fragile.
Koremitsu stopped in his tracks, sounding serious,
Hikaru too looked uptight
Tsuyako cuddled her slender shoulders tightly as she lowered her head, her loosened hair dangling on her pale face, her red lips quivering.
“I really…do not know what to do…I am scared, worried..I cannot sleep at night…”
Koremitsu knelt on the tatami, and nervously leaned forward.
“If this keeps up, I might end up destroying the flowers Hikaru treasures.”
“Mr Akagi…can you help me…? Can you please keep watch on me so that I do not destroy them?”
“Okay, I guess.”
Koremitsu nodded seriously.
Tsuyako, without lifting her head, handed a slip of paper right towards Koremitsu.
“Please sign on this club entrance form then.”