He and Takumi were not between the stages of acquaintances or friends. They were more between the stages of mortal enemies and rivals. I would be happier if they did not fight at all. When they did, it usually meant something in the house would get broken. Last time they ripped shoji sliding door while I was changing after a shower. Not wanting a repeat of that incident, the no-fighting rule was a requirement.
He did not sound too thrilled about his new residence now. I laughed lightly and closed my eyes.
“I’ll room with you then.”
“Because an older man rooming with a young girl is not proper. Takumi will also get incredibly upset.” I stated, also not wanting Haru to try and pull any weird tricks. Even though I knew he wasn’t that kind of person. It was better to be safe than sorry.
“That’s not fair. I don’t want to room with Takumi.”
“There’s an extra room we have in the back. We can clear it out and make you a room there.”
“You don’t have to go through so much trouble.”
“Consider it payback for all those times you got me ice cream.”
“I only took you out about five times. That and its inexpensive... That really doesn’t make up for an entire room,” Without even looking over at him, I could tell he was looking indifferent.
“Look, I’m trying to be nice here.”
“I know, but-”
“If you’re that set on making equal, why don’t you treat me out to dinner or something?”
“Like a date?” The indifference was replaced by a grin. I felt my cheeks grow warmer, this time it wasn’t from the sun.
“Not like a date. As payment for giving you a room.”
“What about when I’m living there? Should I pay rent?”
“We’ll figure it out when the issue arises.”
“Or how about I take you out for dinner instead of rent?”
“I said we’ll figure it out later!” I shouted and jolted upright. He opened his eyes and looked over at me, grin fading away into a more confused and slightly concerned expression.
“Suzu?” He pushed himself off the ground to be sitting up. I had tucked my knees in, head buried between them, not saying anything. “Hey, Suzu? You okay? I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings or anything. I was just kidding around.”
“Don’t act so stupid.” I told him, my words muffled. “I’m already stuck dealing with enough idiots on a daily basis. I don’t need to deal with another one. So, Haru, promise me you won’t act stupid anymore.”
I lifted my head and looked at him, my eyes dead serious. He looked at me with his mouth open a little, unsure and somewhat confused. A second later though, he smiled again and held out his hand. He formed a fist and stuck his pinkie finger out to me.
“I pinkie promise that I won’t be an idiot anymore.”
I wrapped my little pinkie finger around his. We let ourselves drop down onto the grass again, letting the only noise surround us being the gentle sound of the flowing river. Haru gave me freedom. He didn’t even realize that he was already paying me more than I was asking for. Not in money, but in these moments filled with freedom. For that, I was eternally grateful.
Closing my eyes, my inner lids were dyed with red. The color of the sun with my eyes closed... Warmth that could never die out. My hands felt a little empty in that moment, lying spawned out by my sides. When I felt his hand clasp my own at that moment, that empty feeling dissipated. Without me even having to hint at it, he already knew what I was thinking.
I don’t know where he came from that night. He had been a complete stranger to me, a man riding in from nowhere on a green Ninja 650r motorcycle. A man that bought me ice cream for no reason. A man named Takeshi Haru.