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Cherry blossoms

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Tokusaburou sat on a bench near the house, looking up at the cherry blossom tree peacefully scattering its petals. The light pink flowers looked even more lovely against the deep purple, perpetual twilight of the Underworld.

“Tokusaburou-han,” Hatsune’s voice announced her arrival. She walked into the garden with a tray. “I made you some tea.”

“Really?” Tokusaburou said. “I thought you were sick of pouring people tea after working at the tea house.” Hatsune placed the tray on the table.

“I am! So now I only make tea for people I like.”

Tokusaburou smiled. There was no such thing as thirst in the Underworld, but the taste of tea was always appreciated. Hatsune looked up at the tree.

“My, the cherry blossoms are blooming!” she exclaimed in excitement. “As there is no such thing as time in the Underworld, the cherry blossoms bloom at irregular moments. How lucky you are for encountering them!”

“Won’t you join me?” Tokusaburou asked. Hatsune sat down beside him and together they stared at the tree for a while.

“Ah, there’s something in your hair,” Tokusaburou said. “I’ll take it out. Stay still.”

“Is it a bug?” Hatsune squealed. “Get it out, I hate bugs!”

Tokusaburou showed her the small pink flower he’d pulled from her hair.

“It’s just a cherry blossom.”

“Ah…”

“It has the same colour as your cheeks.”

Hatsune started blushing heavily, which made Tokusaburou laugh.

“Well, now you look more like a tomato!”

Hatsune hid her face behind her hands, but Tokusaburou gently pulled them away.

“No, don’t. It’s lovely.”

“Tokusaburou-han…”

They stared into each other eyes and slowly leaned towards another, when Tokusaburou suddenly jumped up and shouted: “Anyway, yes! The cherry blossoms! Very nice!”

“They are!” Hatsune jumped up too. “I-I should go!”

Hatsune quickly sprinted away, leaving an astonished Tokusaburou behind. Almost immediately, the bushes a little further away rustled and Kiroku jumped out.

“What the hell was that, man?” He awkwardly climbed out of his hideout and walked up to Tokusaburou, nearly fuming. “Hatsune presumed you were going to kiss her! She’s in love with you!”

“In love?” Tokusaburou exclaimed. “With me!?”

Kiroku sighed in annoyance.

“For someone who claims to be a real lady-killer you are surprisingly daft when it comes to women!”

“B-but…” Tokusaburou stammered. “She knows I’m waiting to be Judged until Yasujirou and O-sumi come back to the Other World! Surely she won’t want to stay that long?”

“Has it ever occurred to you,” Kiroku squeaked, “that she is also waiting for Judgment because she actually wants to spend eternity with you?”

Kiroku pointed in the direction Hatsune had run off to.

“Go after her, right now! Either to apologize or to finally tell her you love her too!”

Tokusaburou was so astounded he didn’t utter a single word of protest. He lifted up the hem of his kimono and sprinted down the path, causing him to run into Hatsune, who tumbled to the ground.

“Tokusaburou-han! Ah… I forgot to clean up the cups so I came back…”

Tokusaburou grabbed her hand and pulled her up, but instead of letting her go, he started pulling her along until they were standing under the cherry blossom tree together.

“What..?” Hatsune whispered, but Tokusaburou gently grabbed her shoulders, leaned in and kissed her, properly this time, as the cherry blossoms rained down on both of them.