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Of Romance, Time and Life

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It was two summers ago when Ohno’s father decided to tell him a piece of information concerning their family which was — how to describe it — odd. It caught him off guard when his father came up to him, right after breakfast, for what they usually call, a “man-to-man” talk.

Ohno was not thrilled; not to mention, his stomach was not in the right mood for long hours of reprimands and nonsense. This might have been due to the sour-tasting pancake he had been forced to eat earlier. He’ll surely ask his mother, later, what she added in her pancake mix.

Despite his qualms, he followed his father down to their basement, quite sure that their topic would be about his recent obsession over camping, probably, telling him off to lessen his purchase on lanterns. Because, who in their right mind would buy five lanterns when you only need one. In Ohno’s defense, it was to fend off bears that might attack him during the night.

And as they sat on some stools that was beside the working table where his father’s machineries were laid out, his father looked at him, sternly.

“You must keep quiet about this…”, his father started off. “This has been a well-kept secret in our family, for years.”

Ohno simply nodded with indifference.

Knowing his father, that “well-kept secret” could be a simple screwdriver that was treasured by his grandfather or a painting made by his great great ancestors.

“You see…”, and his father shifted close to him, dragging the stool as it makes a screeching sound. “The male persons in our family has this kind of special ability.”

He paused.

“We can time travel…”

Those words forced a chortle out of Ohno. He might have been a believer of UFO’s or even ghosts. But, time travel — that’s impossible.

“You’re joking, right?”

“Why would I joke around?”

The seriousness in his father’s expression prompted Ohno to stop laughing. With skepticism still looming, he raised a brow and asked, “If you can time travel —

—which I really do…”, his father interrupted.

Ohno cleared his throat, reminding his father not to jump in while he’s talking. “If you can time travel…”, he repeated while giving a glare to his father. “Why didn’t you stop the disastrous pancakes that Mom made earlier?”

“Out of all things, you’re asking that?”

“Yes…”

His father frowned. “I did… I really did try to stop her… But, no matter how much I tried to come up with excuses or any methods to stop her from cooking it, it always ends up like that. So, I decided to just let it be…”

“Good excuse, right there.”

“No! Believe me here!”

Ohno rolled his eyes, quite annoyed by his father’s persistence. “If… what you said is true—

—which really is”, another interruption coming from his father.

Ohno gave his dad another glare before continuing what he’s trying to say, “If what you said is true… How can I do this time-travel thing?”

That hint of curiosity shown by Ohno caused his father’s face to lit up. “All you need to do is to go to a dark and enclosed place, clench your fist and think back to the time and place where you want to go back and that’s it!”

“Only that?”, Ohno had his doubts.

“Yes!”

With a sigh, Ohno stood up and walked off away from his father. He was convinced that his father has already gone nuts — maybe due to overwork or too much intake of sweets. Even he was aware that it is quite improbable for humans to travel back in time.

Before he proceeds up, he turned back and pointed at his dad.

“You watch too many sci-fi dramas”

“Whaa— No! Satoshi! Come back!” — too late for that as Ohno was already upstairs, back to his bedroom with a full intention of continuing his unfinished sketch of their neighbor’s cat, Carrot.

 

—————

 

Ohno did say he doesn’t believe in any of the words spouted by his father earlier; however, it kept crossing his mind. It rendered him incapable of concentrating on what he’s sketching leading to a drawing of a disproportionate image of a cat. Even he could not recognize Carrot anymore. It was utterly disastrous that he threw it in a nearby trash can.

He stood up, paced back and forth around his room, trying to consider the secret his father said to him. Thinking deeply, he caught sight of his cabinet and remembered the words, “dark”, “enclosed”

“I might have gone insane, as well”, Ohno laughed at himself while scratching the back of his head.

That kind of mindset did not stop him in testing this time travel ability. He opened the closet door and pushed aside the shirts that were in the way. With an available space in which he can position himself into, he stepped inside and did as what he was told earlier.

“clench your fist and think back to the time and place where you want to go back”  

As Ohno tightly closed his eyes and clenched his fist in a manner in which the blood flow in his hands would cease, he decided to go back a little closer in time — this morning, right after he wakes up.

He waited for around five seconds before opening his eyes. Surprisingly, he felt nothing. He had watched a fair share of his sci-fi movies and if he followed the pattern that was presented in the movies, by now, he should be feeling dizzy and about to throw up. However, it was a complete opposite of what happened to him — like nothing occurred at all. Yes… nothing…

He stepped out of the closet and made a small laugh, “What a big joke...”

Ohno returned back to his desk, attempting another sketch of Carrot. As his eyes roamed through the various objects atop his drawing table, he noticed that it was quite different from earlier. The G-pen wasn’t where he placed it before. He left it above the table, beside the A4 paper that right now was also gone. He, then, spotted it, neatly positioned in his muscle man mug that he now use as a holder for his sketching tools. The trashcan was empty — which should not be the case. He gulped, something was not right.

His gaze went onto his alarm clock. And, what he saw caused him to freeze on the spot. “No way…”, he muttered.

Slowly, he walked close it. Step-by-step, approaching it as if it was a wild monster that suddenly appeared in his room. But, before he could reach it, the door of his bedroom opened with a bang. He turned around in a flash and saw his mother standing by the entrance.

“Oh! I thought you’re still sleeping…”, his mother said. “Come downstairs, breakfast is already ready.”

As his mother proceeds back to their kitchen, Ohno was left standing beside his desk with his mouth and eyes gaped open wide. He looked back at the statement his father made, “we can time travel…”

And, Ohno gave the most appropriate reaction for the situation he’s currently in, “Shi—“

 

———————

 

The morning played out just like how Ohno had already experienced. When he went downstairs, the disastrous pancake was already served on their table. There was a dismay in his face as he forced himself to eat that again. He looked over to his father and saw him with a similar expression as his. Ohno wondered how many times his father had time-traveled, already.

Upon finishing his portion, his stomach, once again, grumbled, complaining that why on earth the owner of the body ate the same odd-tasting pancake for the second time. He, then, joked around with his mother to not do it again — he truly meant that.

And, as expected, his father called on him. This time around when they arrived in the basement, it was not his father who spoke first but Ohno.

“Why can we time travel?!”

His father was taken aback by surprise; though soon enough, returned to his usual calm demeanor.

“Oh… so you already did it. Isn’t it cool?”

“I didn’t believe it at first, though…”

“But, you still tried” and his father grinned widely. “So… what would you use it for?”

Ohno thought for a moment. Yes, he does agree that it was cool; however, for the most part, it was… boring. Indeed, boring. Experiencing the same things all over again — Ohno doesn’t see the fun in that. He’s a type of person who lives in the moment, after all.

“Maybe… extend my fishing time…”

“Wow…”, his father scoffed. “Can’t you think of anything useful? You could probably dominate the whole world with that!”

“I’m not interested in being a world leader or anything…”

He had the option to make it more interesting, to make his life even better but, at the moment, the only thing he could think of… was nothing.

“How about you?”, Ohno asked. “Probably you just used your time travel skills to stop Mom from cooking that pancakes.”

“Wait… Did I told you that?!”, his father quite baffled. “Oh… never mind. I tried it for four times already and I gave up.”

“You should have tried harder…”, Ohno’s voice trailed off.

 

——————

 

That particular event occurred two summers ago and up until now, Ohno hasn’t fully utilized that new found ability of his. He did cheat by repeating back time to save a wrong email he sent to a client that cost him an endless scolding from his supervisor. Or… repeat a report that he failed to present for the first time.

He also tried it on his art hobby but it was too late of him to realize that upon turning back in time, his almost finished draft was back to square one — an empty sheet of paper. Not wanting to go through another long hours of sketching the same object, he gave up on repeating it. This further proves Ohno’s initial perception of his time traveling ability.

For now, he mostly used it during fishing. If he wanted more time alone with himself, he simply turns back in time and waits. If it is still not enough, he repeats the action until, he grew tired of it and go back to his normal daily life.

A year passed with Ohno rarely using his time-traveling powers. He soon moved out of his parents house right after receiving a job offer in the main office of their company. He occupied a room in an adequate looking apartment together with his best friend, Nino, an aspiring musician. He was in search of practically nothing — living his life in the most mundane way as possible.

He was sitting lifeless on his couch, thinking of what he would eat next. His best friend, who just came back from the kitchen holding some beers in his arms, sat next to him. Both were just lazily staring at the unopened television.

“Look at us”, Nino said. “A bunch of losers.”

“Well, at least, we could still afford food and rent.” Ohno responded as he slumped himself further over the couch. “You’re not gonna watch? Your wife’s drama is up”

“Ayase? I thought she’s yours?”

Ohno, thought for a moment, and he teased, “Yeah… I forgot. I do love people with big eyes”, chuckling right after. This was how his nights were spent, with his buddy in crime, making claims over actresses that they cannot attain.

Nino started setting up his guitar. Before strumming a C chord, he asked Ohno, “What are you gonna do tomorrow?”

“Fishing…”

His friend chuckled. “Not surprised.”

Nino, then, began playing a song that has been popular lately. Radio stations and department stores around the city often broadcast it. Even Ohno was familiar with the tune; however, he was unable to draw out its title from the tip of his tongue. He did not bother, anymore, and just hummed along as Nino strummed his guitar.

“I have a gig tomorrow night. You should come.”, Nino spoke after awhile.

Ohno pondered on his answer, “Yeah… maybe… if I caught enough fish.” And, he smirked at his friend, knowing full well that he would be understood.

There was a mischievous glint in Nino’s eyes. “Oh… so now you’re refusing the invitation of a soon-to-be superstar”

Ohno laughed hard. They stayed up late that night accompanied by two packs of beer.

 

——————

 

The next day, Ohno was groggily trying to set-up his fishing equipments. The two of them were up all night debating whether heroes should wear a cape or not. He was on the “not” side, insisting that it hinders with their powers and the villain may use it against the hero. It was a heated battle of wits and dumb arguments. In the end, no one won cause right at the middle, they switched off their topics to microwave ovens — that, he, for one, can’t remember why they were discussing it.

In his usual spot, he sat. And just like that, he passed the day waiting for fishes to notice his bait. By afternoon, he caught several sea breams that they could make use for dinner, later.

Ohno shifted his gaze towards his left and observed that most of the people he was with earlier were now packing up their things. It’s already four in the afternoon and he, too, just like them, would want to retire home early and have a comfortable rest.

He was, now, on his way back carrying with him the cooler containing three sea breams and on his shoulder was his fishing gears. Some may call him a fool for not taking a taxi back to his place. He, meanwhile, considered it as a form of exercise to walk back to their apartment after he had gone fishing — though, he was slow and it took him awhile to even walk a meter stretch.

The weather, then, caught up to him and the once sunny and hot afternoon, drastically changed into a rain shower. Droplets started to fall and he tried his best to quicken his walking pace while surveying around for shelter. It was all too sudden. Luckily, he spotted a shed not far from where he was standing. He pushed himself to ran, with a heavy load carried by his hands and shoulder.

By the time he got there, he was soaking wet. Ohno heaved an exasperated sigh while he placed down his fishing equipments and the cooler down to the ground. He pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and dried himself up. He was about to take a sit when, unexpectedly —

“It’s suddenly pouring, huh…”

Ohno almost jumped in surprise upon hearing an unfamiliar voice. He turned. A man was standing there, somewhat of his age, wearing a suit that Ohno could tell was quite expensive; though right now, slightly wet due to the sudden pour of the rain. He has dark black-colored hair with some strands almost touching his eyelids and big brown eyes — yes, big brown eyes that almost captivated him in an instant.

“…yeah”, he replied back in a daze.

He wondered if the existence of the man in front of him was real or simply a product of his tired mind and body. However, no matter how much he blinked or rubbed his eyes, the man was still there and currently giggling; perhaps, finding Ohno’s gestures odd. And, if he indeed was real, it was kind of lame of him to simply reply with a ‘yeah’.

Ohno noticed the man examining the part where he positioned his bag containing his fishing gears and equipments.

“You fish?”, the man was quick to speculate.

Ohno simply nodded.

“I’ve been thinking of going fishing during my free time. Do you have any suggestion where best to do that?”

He found it amusing that the stranger was quick to warm up to him or maybe… the man was simply adept in conversing with others. He, for one, was not a fan of long chats especially with persons he met for the first time. Nevertheless, a quick chat during a sudden rain shower in a quiet and somewhat isolated place may not be so bad.

“The one I went to is a popular place.”, he answered back.

“Really?!”

“You…”, he paused, trying to consider if what he would say next would be appropriate, “..could join us there if you want to…”

Ohno expected that his invitation would be turned down; but instead, he was met with an enthusiastic reaction.

“I would love to! I’ve been wanting to have a fishing buddy but my friends are not interested at all with that. Good thing I met you here.”

The man rummaged through his pocket and brought out his phone. Ohno noticed him typing something in it. And as he gazed over the said stranger, he found it unusual that this man easily trusted him. For all he knew, Ohno could be a psycopath or something.

“Here…”, and the man showed his phone to him. Reading what was entered startled a laugh out of Ohno. It was quite refreshing to see his name typed in as ‘Fishing Guy’ further with three accompanying fish emoji.

Ohno grabbed the man’s phone and said, “It’s Ohno Satoshi, by the way…” and he typed his phone number down on his supposed nickname. “But… I could also settle with being the Fishing Guy”

“Oh!”, the man laughed, “Then, nice to meet you Ohno, I’m Sakurai Sho”

Ohno paused for a moment, looked up and smiled at him. He was happy to finally obtain the name of the talkative guy.

Upon entering his number, he pressed the save button. His clumsy hands managed to accidentally hit the back button, as well. To his surprise, he saw the illustration that he did and uploaded in his art account years ago. It was set-up as Sho’s phone wallpaper. This revelation caught him off-guard because all of his arts were just made out of whim and boredom and he didn’t know that he caught some ‘fans’ along the way.

“Wait… this drawing?”, he muttered

“Nice Illustration, right? I was skimming in instagram and saw this account that uploads the most unique drawings I’ve seen. I like that muscle man the most.”

Ohno made a small laugh and returned back the phone to its owner. “That’s mine. I drew it”, he said.

It took Sho awhile to register what Ohno had just said. His face transitioned from confusion, then to shock and finally a slight joy. “Wait— Wha— You’re—“

Ohno nodded.

“3104, at the very bottom part.”

Sho blinked fast and then, run a hand through the back of his hair.  

“Must be my lucky day, today...”, he said with a smile.

Ohno laughed lightly with a hint of blush appearing on his cheeks. “Mine too… I did not expect that at all.”

After that the both of them fell into a smooth conversation. Ohno learned a lot of little things about the man that he unexpectedly met today. Sho worked as an editor in a publishing house, focusing on novels and short stories. He dreams, one day, of becoming a news caster and he has been out there applying for vacant positions in different news networks. He has yet to fulfill that small step for his big dream but he hasn’t loss hope.

Ohno also found out that Sho works around the area and because he woke up late and in a hurry this morning, he was unable to do two things: check the weather schedule and bring an umbrella.

“I said to myself earlier, ‘today is not a good day.’”, and he stared directly at Ohno. “I guess I’m wrong”

Ohno gazed down hiding the smile that appeared on his face.

The short talk that they had proved even more that they were comfortable with each other. Ohno further pushed this sudden friendship by asking him the dilemma that his roommate and he had last night.

“So… what do you think of the use of capes in heroes? Yes or No?”

That random question drew a loud laughter out of Sho.

“Who asks that kind of question?!”, he commented as he continued to laugh to the point of tears.

“Yes or No?”, Ohno continued to insist that Sho answered.

Wiping the tears that formed in his eyes, Sho responded, “I’ll go with… No because the cape might prevent the hero from using his powers or it might get dragged by the villain during the battle. I just don’t see the use of it. Overall, its—

— not needed!”, Sho and Ohno completed the sentence at the same time.

It astonished the two that their minds were quite in-sync, creating another series of laughter from the pair.

Ohno mentally noted that he likes this guy.

In the midst of their talk, a familiar name was brought out. “Yayoi Kusama”, a famous artist, known for her eccentric designs. Ohno was delighted to know that Sho also loves that artist, as well. They made up plans to come to her exhibition which would happen in weeks time.

And as the rain stopped its downpour, they knew that it was finally time to part.

Sho, then, looked at Ohno. “I hope to see you again…”

Ohno smiled and said. “You will…”

Sho bid him goodbye and walked off.

Pulling up the fishing bag high above his shoulders, a smile caught up on Ohno’s lips as he watched Sho disappeared from his sight.

 

———————

 

Ohno arrived back into his apartment expecting to tell Nino all the wonderful developments that have occurred to him. It took him by surprise that, when he came in, he witnessed his friend in a great distress and sadness. Nino’s eyes were red and his face wet with tears. There were bruises on his arms and legs.

“What happened?”, Ohno asked as he held Nino’s arms to check on his wounds. “Who did this to you?”

“I just… fell…”, Nino replied, darting his eyes away from Ohno

“What really happened?”, Ohno pressed further. It’s very rare for Nino to be like this and if he does, it would mean that he’s facing a very bad situation..

Nino sighed, well aware that he could not lie to his friend.

“You remember that I was asked to do the opening act for that popular band.”

“Yes. How did it go?”

“It should be the happiest moment of my life but some group of kids just went and started destroying my guitar. I requested for a spare. I don’t know… they weren’t trying hard to search for a new guitar and so, they chose another musician as a substitute.” And he gritted his teeth.

“No…”

“Yes…”, Nino said. “It’s probably planned…”

This gig should be a step towards his friend’s dreams. To think that it all fell just because of that.

“Okay, I’ll see what I can do.”

Ohno knew what he had to do and that was the only choice they have. He was the witness on how much Nino had always wanted to be a musician, write his own songs and show it to the world.

“What does that mean? Plead to the organizers? Like you have some influence on them”

“Not that…” and he stood up and proceeded to his room, leaving Nino behind. He opened his cabinet and entered it. He was aware that by doing so, he would be losing his chance of meeting Sho but at that moment, his friend needed his help.

“I hope… Fishing Guy would appear in his contacts, again…”, he whispered.

Inside the cabinet, he clenched his fist and thought back to the actual time before he went out of his way to fish. Seconds after, he was transported back in time.

 

—————

 

Instead of going fishing all day, he accompanied Nino in his concert. He insisted that he, himself, held on to the guitar. At first, Nino was baffled; but in the end, he did not pay attention to it. He’s already used to his roommate being weird.

Ohno got a glimpse of the gang of kids that Nino talked about. He dragged Nino amongst the crowd, hoping that they could blend in and not be seen. Lucky for them, they arrived at the concert area without any hitch.

“You’re weird.”, Nino said as he entered the backstage. “What’s up with you today?”

Ohno just remained silent, focused on his task of protecting his friend.

When they arrived, some were actually surprised that Nino arrived. Further proving that Nino was right with his accusations. He stayed there longer than he should be, keeping an eye on both Nino and the organizers who might be planning something. In the end, Nino was able to perform and got a lot of gigs, right after. Ohno was truly happy, seeing how his friend’s effort got noticed and appreciated.

 

—————

 

Right after the concert, they made their way out of the concert grounds and noticed that its already raining — just as it should be. They waited for a taxi and upon getting one, Ohno hurriedly named the nearest street where the shed, he met Sho, was located.

The taxi was in full throttle, passing through different cars, stopping only when there’s a spot light. Ohno was praying hard that he would still be able to catch a glimpse of Sho and let himself be known.

Nino was still confused, unaware on what’s happening with his best friend. “Why are you in a hurry?”

“I need to meet someone”, he earnestly declared.

When they arrived, Ohno was the first one to open the door of the taxi. Not minding the drizzle, he ran with all his might towards the shed, almost stumbling over the side-walk. He was out of breath when he arrived. He looked up, hoping to see the same man wearing an expensive suit with black hair and big brown eyes; the same man who’s looking for a fishing buddy, standing there waiting for the rain to stop. However, there was no one.

“No…”

Ohno made a pity laugh — all directed to himself.

“That’s okay… That’s fine… It’s just like always...”, he repeatedly told himself

Nino walked up towards him and held out an umbrella above his head. He give him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “I don’t know what this is about but… Cheer up! At least, you’ll get to live with a soon-to-be superstar”

 

——————

 

Three days have passed and Ohno was still thinking about the man he had met.  He was now attempting to visit him in his workplace; if only, it wouldn’t make things even more awkward and worse.

As he slumped down on his couch pondering whether to pursue this particular man or just let it be and make him a passing memory in his life, he was startled by the bang of the door of their apartment. Loud footsteps came rushing in and he saw Nino, approaching him, with a happy expression painted in his face.

“Guess what!”, Nino exclaimed while pushing Ohno to the side in order for him to have a space on that sofa.

Ohno wasn’t in the mood to get hyperactive with his friend right now. Maybe some other time after he had moved on from that amazing guy he met.

“Look!”

Ohno did a side-glance to check what Nino was trying to show him. Surprise was an understatement to describe his reaction. Joy built up inside of him as he snatched that piece of paper from Nino. He stood up and made a big and resounding, “Yes!”

Nino simply laughed at his roommate’s exaggerated reaction.

“I don’t know what you are being sad about these past few days so as a way of thanking you for accompanying me in my gig last time, that’s a 3-day pass for Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition. It’s hard to get that so make sure to not lose it.”

Yes! Yayoi Kusama! Why on earth haven’t Ohno thought of that?! He quickly wrapped his arms around Nino and hugged him tight — he was so overjoyed that he wouldn’t mind doing those kind of skinship with his friend.

“Being touchy, all of a sudden.”, Nino chuckled. Despite him doing the teasing, he patted Ohno on his back, assured that he had done a good job in cheering up his friend.

“I’ll go everyday, if I have to!”, Ohno solemnly declared as he proceeded back to his bedroom to place the ticket in a safe place.

Nino was left sitting there alone in the sofa, thinking that his friend has gone excessive over his love for Yayoi Kusama.

“Ohchan! You might get caught! Don’t get too obsessed with your favorite artist!”, he shouted loud.

 

—————————

 

With a renewed spirit, Ohno decided to at least dress up nicely, place a fragrant scent on him, style his hair a bit before going to the first day of exhibition.

Upon stepping foot inside the exhibition hall, Ohno’s eyes were not concentrated on the various paintings and installation arts on display; rather, on the attendees that come and go. He hoped Yayoi would forgive him for coming to her exhibition for a petty reason.

Too bad, though, the first day was only filled with art critics and enthusiasts who were discussing the meaning of each art and how it could impact society. Some even went full on art theory with one of her pumpkin painting.

On the second day, he repeated the same routine. He dressed up accordingly, went to the exhibition and checked every guests that came. Nothing new in the exhibition and Ohno did not bother if it was the same pumpkin, same drawing or same sculpture because his sole reason of being here was that he was expecting someone to attend.

No luck still on second day. The only thing he encountered were millennial hipsters who were photographing in every painting they saw. Those kids were later on reprimanded for touching a part of the installation art.

And by the third day, Ohno held on to the saying “Third time’s a charm” Same thing occurred this morning, dressed up nicely, placed perfume, styled his hair and fitted his best shoes. The only difference was that Nino would be accompanying him, this time.

His friend, last night, got curious on Ohno’s obsession with the exhibition and he wanted to know if there was something interesting. At first, Ohno turned down his request; but Nino was persistent, that in the end, he gave in.

Entering, once again, inside the exhibition, the pair was eyed by the stationed guard. Ohno was not surprised with the suspicious look he received. After all, who wouldn’t go wary of the person who went into the exhibition for three straight days.

They walked around for a bit with Nino checking each of the paintings until they settled in front of an orange polka-dotted artwork. Nino began to observe the painting keenly; while Ohno was surveying his surrounding.

“I don’t get it…”, Nino mused, simultaneously, tilting his head, thinking that changing the angle of his sight would make him understand the meaning of the art better.

Ohno frowned.

“It’s about feeling, Nino… no need to understand…”

Nino was not convinced.

“And you called yourself an artist?”

Ohno was about to give his rebuttal when his ears picked up a familiar name.

“I’m telling you Sho-chan… I just don’t see it…” — that particular sentence made Ohno’s eyes widen in full circle. There was a momentary shock and a staggering realization. His heart started to beat fast. He stood there completely frozen as he continued to overhear the conversation of the two persons at his back.

“Didn’t you read her interviews? it’s about feeling it. Our earth is only one polka dot among the millions of stars in the cosmos and you, you’re just a small small point in this big Universe.”, the man named Sho-chan explained.

“Hmm…”

A sigh was heard. “Why are you even here…”

Nino noticed his friend behaving weirdly. He waved his hands in front of him, trying to get his attention back. Ohno wasn’t responding, not even a blink.

He, then, tried calling out to him, “Ohchan?”

Ohno jumped back to reality after hearing his name. He blinked fast as he stared back at Kazu.

“You’re being weird…”, Nino said.

Ignoring Nino’s words, Ohno turned, wanting to get a glimpse of the appearance of ‘Sho-chan’; he was inclined to know if that was the same person he was looking for. And when he laid his eyes on him, he could not help but to smile with ease.

It took him three days… excruciating three days… listening to art critics… maintaining his cool on those hipsters… it even earned him suspicions from the guards at the lobby; but, everything, everything he handled in those three days was worth it. Because, in front of him, was the same talkative guy that he had seen at the shed on that one rainy night. Those big eyes that captured him was still the same.

Before Ohno could make a move, Sho started walking away together with his tall, brown-haired buddy. He was about to follow them when Nino grabbed him by his arm and asked worriedly, “You alright there?”

Ohno would never lose this chance, not this time, cause every moment he encountered with Sho was precious. He held Nino’s hand and slowly removed it away from him. He gazed deeply at his friend and flashed a smile. “I’ve found what I’ve been looking for the past two days. This time I’ll make things right.”

And, for the first time, Nino witnessed how his unmotivated and lazy roommate showed determination and at the same time, desperation for something other than his hobbies. “Finally…”, Nino thought, when he saw Ohno’s eyes all lit up as if saying he found meaning in something he haven’t had before.

Nino decided to let him go. “I don’t know what it is but go and get it! I’ll just be here!”, he encouraged him.

Ohno nodded and he hurriedly ran off to catch up on Sho. He made several turns and bumped on some attendees along the way. A sigh of relief escaped his lips when he finally found Sho, all alone, gazing at a giant polka-dotted orange pumpkin painting.

Panic rushed over for he doesn’t know how to introduce himself properly; more so, getting his attention without being a creep. His hands were sweating so much as he stepped a little closer. His heart beating so fast as he gets nearer and nearer.

He was now standing right behind Sho, a few inches apart. Taking a deep breath, he, clumsily, poked Sho’s right shoulder. As expected, Sho got startled. He turned around expectedly and his curious eyes stared on the tiny man, who looked entirely nervous.

Sho did not speak and waited for Ohno.

The distance between them made Ohno even more conscious. The words he formed earlier were slipping out of his mind.

Instead, he said, “I—it’s good to see you!”

Sho blinked fast and steadily leaned away from Ohno.

“I don’t think we have met before?”

“Oh! Yes!”, Ohno realized his mistake. “Ah… sorry…”

“You might have mistaken me for someone else.”, Sho kindly responded and right after, walked away trying to escape Ohno and to check more of Yayoi’s paintings.

Seeing Sho was about to leave, Ohno called out, “No no no! Wait! Stop! Sho!”

Sho stopped on his tracks. And Ohno… poor Ohno, it took him seconds to realize he was digging his own grave.

“You! How did you know my name?”, Sho questioned. He looked dubious as he moved closer to Ohno.

The conversation was not going at the right direction and Ohno decided that he needs to start over.

“Let me restart…”, he mumbled and instantly, departed off leaving a confused Sho behind. In his trip going to the restroom, he managed to bump into Nino who asked him what’s going on. He did not bother answering and continued on his way.

And just like that, he was back in time, back at where he was standing before he talked to Sho. Using a similar approach, he poked him by his shoulder. Sho turned around, like before, with curious eyes on him.

“Hi…”, Ohno greeted.

“Uhh… Hi?”, Sho awkwardly responded back.

“You like Yayoi Kusama?”

Sho just looked at him with a crease in between his eyebrows. “…Yes… that’s why I’m here...”

Ohno just wants to drill himself down on the ground for having no skills in this flirtation game. Surely, he’ll take a lesson from Nino after this.

“You see… I draw, as well.”, Ohno tried to introduce that one topic that would make him closer to the guy.

“Okay…”, Sho replied with indifference, wondering why the hell is that man telling him all those things. Sho was too polite to turn down the stranger and he wished that Aiba would go faster in his bathroom escapade.

“I don’t know if you have seen it but my account name in instagram is—

“Sho-chan!”, an interruption came in between them.

Ohno was unable to continue. In a brief moment, he heard Sho blurt out “Thank God…” causing Ohno to frown in the process. It was his fault in the first place for making this conversation awkward.

“I need to repeat again…”, he whispered.

He once again ran off with a dejected feeling. It made him realize that maybe no amount of time travel could make Sho to notice him.

And just as expected, he bumped into Nino along the way who shouted at him, “What’s wrong?”

Unlike before, he stopped and looked back at his friend. This time, instead of going straight to the bathroom, Ohno went to Nino. This time, Ohno chose to ask for advice.

“What should I do? I don’t know how to do this??”

Nino was clearly baffled by what was going on. Instead of pressing further, he simply placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder and patted it several times to calm him down.

“I don’t really know what’s going on, why the heck you went into this exhibit for three days straight, and who and what you were searching for. Just know that if you can’t get it by direct approach then why not try to get that thing indirectly.”

“Indirectly…”, Ohno repeated Nino’s words.

For starters, he wasn’t the one who did the first move during that rainy night. And like a Eureka moment, a thought crossed on his mind.

“Yes! Indirectly!”

“As expected from a superstar.”, he praised his friend before making his way to the restrooms.

From a distance, he could hear Nino shouting, “Of course!! Consider yourself lucky!”

 

————————

 

He returned back with a plan in mind. Instead of doing the same thing he did earlier, he stood beside Sho and viewed the art together with him. This time around, instead of making conversation, he just observed the painting. The two of them just looked at what’s in front of them, side-by-side, quietly, minding their own business.

Until… Ohno intentionally said out loud, “I don’t get it…”

He mimicked Nino’s expression from earlier.

“Hmm…”, he hummed, further announcing his concerns about the particular painting. Tilting his head in the direction where Sho was standing, he made it even more obvious to the guy standing next to him that he was in need of help.

Oh, he prayed to the heavens for Sho to notice him. If this is the indirect way of approaching him, then so be it.

It took minutes of him acting and pretending. And, finally, the gods heard his pleas. The man, beside him, decided to speak up, “Excuse me… you mean this one?”

His face ultimately brightened up when he turned around and realized that Sho was paying attention to him and looking at him directly.

“Ye—yes, this one.”, he forced himself not to smile and be pleased with the developments. He continued on, “I wonder why there’s so many pumpkins?”

“You’re actually concerned with the pumpkins?”

“Uhhh… Yes. Why pumpkins and not apples? Or.. strawberries. Yes, strawberries! They’re more nice to look at”

That statement caused Sho to laugh out loud. Realizing immediately that it might be rude, he apologized, right after.

“Sorry, no one ever asked me about that before. All questions I’ve encountered were about her obsession with polka-dots”

“That’s fine. I mean, pumpkins have a weird shape.”

Sho chuckled before continuing on, “I’m not so sure. But I heard in one of her past interviews that she loves pumpkins ever since she was a kid. I think she makes use of the weird form of pumpkins to create a humorous and warm feeling in her art. She wanted bring out this kind of childish effect in her works so everyone of all ages could enjoy. More like… When you look at her art… it’s about—“

——— Feeling, more than understanding.”, Ohno completed the sentence together with Sho.

Sho’s eyes widen with delight and a big smile appeared on his face. Ohno smiled acknowledging that they’re quite in-sync, once again.

“You get it! Thank you! My friend barely understood what I’m trying to say. I think he was never interested, in the first place. Ah! I haven’t gone to the floor of her installation arts. There’s this piece where she surrounded several small acrylic pumpkin figurines with LED lights and mirrors in a dark room. It’s the main attra…”, his voice trailed off.

Ohno stared at him in confusion.

“I’m talking too much, right… I’m sorry…”, and he hung his head low.

“Oh! No!”, Ohno frantically tried to cheer him up. “I like hearing you talk. And you seemed like you’re enjoying it.”

“Really!” And, Sho’s back with his happy face. “I want to invite you on that installation art I’m talking about but I’m still waiting for my fri—

Sho paused as he looked over Ohno’s shoulders. Narrowing his eyes, he noticed something amongst the crowd. “—friend… that I think is currently flirting now with a random guy.”

Ohno followed Sho’s sight and what he saw was the brown-haired guy, that Sho was with earlier, talking well with this another guy of a similar height with a distinct thick eyebrows. He wondered if those two were models of some sort because they were giving off that kind of aura.

What made him fascinated was that the meeting of those two did not occur last time.  Maybe the change in his approach caused a butterfly chain.

Behind him, he could hear Sho complaining, “Really… Aiba…”

And when Ohno shifted his attention back to Sho, he was surprised to see the man blushing while skimming over through his phone.

“What’s wrong?”

Sho flinched, in response and immediately right after, scratched the back of his head, darting his eyes away from Ohno as he spoke, “Let’s go… my friend seems to be busy already.”

Ohno did not pay much attention to it and simply followed Sho.

And as they proceed upstairs for the installation art, Sho glimpsed over to Ohno. With a blush peeking in his cheeks, he mumbled in a volume that Ohno could barely hear, “I’m not the one who’s flirting… please… Aiba…”

 

———————

 

The indirect approach that Ohno had done led him closer to Sho. After visiting and viewing each of the installation arts that were on display, they proceeded to a café that was set-up inside of the building to rest and cool off.

Ohno relearned all of the information that Sho had already said to him; from his job as an editor to his dream as a newscaster. It was exactly the same as last time. Was he bored in hearing it again? Surprisingly, not. There was something exciting in listening Sho talk about the things he love. The glint in his eyes, the increase in the volume of his deep voice, the smile that he gives whenever he mentions his favorite things.

This is one thing that his father did not mention to him. Time travel is more than remedying your past mistake and knowing what lies ahead; it’s also reliving the best moments of your life. And, he for one, experiences it right now. Slowly, he became aware that time traveling might not be so bad, after all.

The conversation between them took awhile and by the end, Sho pulled out his phone and started typing. He, then, handed it over to Ohno.

Ohno gazed over what was inputted and he laughed upon noticing that the name that was placed was “Art Guy” with three painting guy emojis. Looks like Fishing Guy has transformed into Art Guy.

“My bad!”, Sho apologized. “I’m so into our conversation that I forgot to ask your name.”

Ohno laughed some more as he swiftly entered his number. “It’s Ohno Satoshi, by the way…”

“But… I can settle with Art Guy”, Ohno beamed, right after.

He saved his number and hoped that it will not be deleted from Sho’s phone, again. Imitating what happened before, this time, he intentionally hit the back button and was delighted to see that his muscle man drawing was still used as Sho’s phone wallpaper.

“Wait… this drawing?”, he pretended to be curious.

“Ah! Another favorite artist of mine! I chanced upon him in instagram before and I’ve liked everything that he drew.”

Ohno returned back the phone to its owner while proclaiming the truth, “That’s mine. I drew it”

Sho paused as he took in the words said by Ohno.

“Wait— Wha— You’re—“, he could barely grasp the information that he obtained.

Ohno nodded.

“3104, at the very bottom part.”

Sho blinked fast and then, run a hand through the back of his hair. 

“Must be my lucky day, today...”, he said with a smile.

Ohno smiled in return.

They were getting quite comfortable with each other when suddenly—

“What the hell Ohchan?! I’ve been looking for you everywhere?!”, Nino came in, unexpectedly, rushing over to their table and sitting over to one of its empty chair.

Nino, then, moved his sights from Sho and back at Ohno, “Who’s this guy?? Really! And here, I thought you came for the art but it was just to flirt?!”

Both turned red and Ohno immediately rebuked, “Wha— No— Of course not!—

Upon hearing his own words, he realized what it might meant to Sho and he took back what he said in an instant, “I mean, it’s not because you are not worth flirting — you’re truly handsome and I’ll surely make a move on you — Wait… what am I saying?”

Ohno looked down and covered his face, out of embarrassment.

“Ahh… Sorry…”

Instead of being creeped out, Sho was amused by Ohno’s sudden rattling. It was adorable to watch Ohno desperately trying to mend what he said earlier that it pulled a laughter out of Sho.

“My friend earlier did say that I look like I’m flirting with you. I would, if I could”

Ohno slowly raised his head up and his gaze found Sho’s. He was blushing all over, from his face down to his neck, while considering the words that Sho said to him. Sho painted a similar expression as his whilst maintaining a cool image. He prayed that no incident would let him travel back through time and prevent him from experiencing this moment.

Nino cleared his throat and did a side-glance at each of them, taking them by surprise.

“Don’t forget, I’m still here.”, Nino chided.

And the both of them simply coughed and glanced away from each other. Nino, meanwhile, was clearly enjoying the scene he was witnessing.

Not long after, they all decided to go on their separate ways. Sho bid his goodbye; but before leaving, he told Ohno, “Save my number, I’ll message you soon.”

“Of course…”, Ohno responded.

 

————————

 

They messaged each other frequently. Narrating to one about their day, from the mundane things they did to the praises they got from their supervisors. Constant phone ringing occurred and when opened, words of encouragement and gratitude would be read. It kept Ohno smiling all throughout the day and so is the same for Sho. It was the highlight or maybe further, one of the main reasons, they woke up everyday. Every notification they got was a joy to their ears.

And finally, they scheduled a date — the one they’re finally waiting for.

As Ohno made his way out of the house, he picked up his shoes from the shoe rack and then checked his looks on the small mirror beside the door.

His roommate came rushing out, curious on the excitement his friend was showing. A disappointed face appeared on him as he examined Ohno from top to bottom. “You are going out like that?”

“What? Is there a problem?”, and he pivoted on the spot as if he was a mannequin in display.

“Shirts and shorts… Not to mention the hair… come on fix up! This is a date with your Sho.”

Ohno made a light laugh. He was never a man of fashion. “It’s fine!”

“Don’t go crying at me if you won’t be able to get on with him tonight…”

“Isn’t it too early?! First date?!”

Nino just shrugged his shoulder and retreated back to his room.

 

———————

 

One thing that Ohno learned was to listen to Nino when it comes to relationship and dating. When he arrived, he saw Sho standing by the station entrance donned in an outfit that exuded his handsomeness and elegance.

“I thought he said he’s not interested in fashion”, Ohno grumbled while approaching Sho.

The plan was to catch a movie and later on, get dinner in a Mexican place. However, it seemed that they were kind of fated to have a bad day. The movie they chose was a popular one and it ended up with the theater getting jam-packed.  Adding to that was the crying kid beside them, preventing them to hear and understand anything in the action movie that they’re watching.

They thought dinner would make up to the frustrations that they experienced; turns out, the restaurant itself let them encounter the same hell that they had back in the theater. Their table was right beside the live Mariachi band; it was loud and noisy that it hindered them from having a good talk and peaceful dinner.

Their heads where hurting when they reached Ohno’s apartment. Both of them were not in the mood today and it was evident in Sho’s face that he did not enjoy his day.

“Bad day today…”, Sho, finally, admitted.

Ohno forced a smile and bid his farewell to Sho. Based on the events that occurred, yes — truly, he would repeat this day and make everything right.

And in an instant, he went back in the morning of that day. The negativities that had occurred were still fresh in his memories. The normal response was to create a new plan. Instead, Ohno decided to look at what would eventually happen in a different perspective and find the good in it.

He walked over to his closet and reached out for his best button down shirt. Instead of shorts, he opted for straight-laced jeans. He placed his favorite fragrance and fitted himself with his best shoes.

Nino came rushing out, as expected, and unlike before in which he teased, he gave out a compliment that mildly shocked Ohno.

“Looking good lover boy.”

Ohno waved his hands while stepping out of their apartment. As he was about to take off, he could hear his roommate shouting, “I’ll be out all night so the whole apartment is yours. Go and get him!”

“Again… too early…”, he mumbled.

By the time he got to the station, Sho was standing there looking as handsome as ever with his fitted pants, white shirt and red cardigan. It was Sho who noticed him first and what made this time different was he earned some good words from Sho.

“You look good in that shirt.”

Ohno got the courage to hold Sho’s hand and stick himself close as they walk along the stretch of the sidewalk. They arrived at the movie theater full of giddy feelings and they still chose the same action movie that they did back then.

The theater is still jam-packed; the crying child was still there; however, this time, Ohno made a move. He gave some small stuffed toy to the child and luckily, it caught the child’s attention making him silent all throughout the show. At the same time, the parents apologized for the child’s behavior and promised to give back the toy once the movie was done.

Sho witnessed all of that and he whispered, “I would never thought of bringing a stuffed toy on a date. Are you a boys scout or are you someone who can see the future?”

Ohno chuckled.

“More like, I can see the past.”, he teased.

Sho laughed, thinking that it was a joke.

“What do you mean by that?”

Ohno did not reply and simply laid his head on Sho’s shoulder. Sho, then, comfortably leaned his head towards Ohno’s. Their hands were linked together as they watched the movie from start to end.

After the theater was the restaurant. Their table was still positioned beside the Mariachi live band. It’s still loud, it’s still noisy, they could barely hear each other. In this particular moment, they were not bothered. They departed off in the theaters with light feelings and when they sat on their table, instead of being irritated, they joined in in the singing.

While waiting for the food, Ohno stood up and reached out a hand to Sho inviting him to dance. Sho held out his hand and was pulled out from his seat. They danced along to the rhythmic Mexican music and slowly, they changed the mood of the place bringing in more couples to join them in the dancing.

Ohno kept on twirling Sho to the point that the latter got dizzy. It, immediately, earned Ohno a scolding from Sho; however, much to Ohno’s enjoyment, he still teased Sho and continued to spin him around.

Both of them were exhausted as they returned back to their table. Right after they settled on their seats, dinner was served. The music was still their — playing along in its highest volume, some dancing couples were quite near their table; but it did not prevent them from conversing. They continued to talk and laugh loudly as they enjoyed the Mexican food that was prepared for them and the fun ambiance that the restaurant brought.

It was an entirely different mood when they got back into Ohno’s apartment.

“It was a nice day…”, Sho said causing Ohno to show a contented smile.

They steadied their gaze on each other for a minute or so, trying to read each other and hoping for the night to still continue. Not long after, Ohno, finally said his farewell and started unlocking the door.

He was about to step in when Sho grabbed him by his arms and turned him around to face him. He blinked rapidly as he noticed Sho going closer and closer, inch-by-inch until their foreheads were touching. Sho’s hands were on his arms, steadying him. He could see his big brown eyes in a very close view. Slowly, their lips met in a soft kiss. It was a short, subtle kiss.

And as their lips part, Sho made a deep breath and uttered, “I promise you this is not the first time I kissed someone...”

It was cute, Sho was cute — Ohno admitted to that.

Instead of reassuring his partner with words, Ohno wrapped his arms around Sho’s neck and pulled him for another kiss — this time, a deeper kiss than earlier. Sho groaned, getting caught in Ohno’s heated passion leading him to surge forward, arms wrapping around Ohno’s waist and pushed him to the wall. A small whimper escaped Ohno’s lips.

“Sorr—“, Sho almost said in between the kisses until Ohno pressed his tongue to the seam of his lips and delved inside his mouth. It did not take long for Sho to put more pressure into their kiss leading to a full on make out session.

Ohno felt his legs weaken as Sho tilted his head to deepen the kiss. He grasped tightly on Sho’s cardigan and in return Sho pressed himself further to him. Ohno’s body quivered as he felt Sho’s hands slowly traveled down his back until it reached his thighs, subtly touching and caressing it. He gasped provoking Sho even more to do it again.

As soon as they both pulled away, panting and out of air. Ohno slowly opened his mouth and said, “Nino’s not around tonight…”

Sho made a smirk as he placed another kiss onto Ohno’s swollen lips.

Needless to say, Ohno and Sho had all the fun that night.

 

————————

 

It was the next morning when Nino, coming from a gig last night, reached home looking all tired and exhausted. He did not expect that upon returning back to the apartment, straight away, by the entrance, he saw pieces of clothing scattered all around the floor.

“Seriously…”, he uttered as he avoided the shirts and pants that clearly weren’t his.

He, then, noticed some movements inside Ohno’s bedroom. Carefully, he made his way there and peeked on the inside. What he witnessed was someone prancing around the room, probably in search of something and another one on the bed in a deep slumber.

Sighing, he took out his pen and pulled up one of the jeans he found using it. Opening Ohno’s bedroom door, he said out loud, “Are you looking for this, Mr. Lover Boy 2?”

It was Sho — the one who was awake. Sho turned red realizing that he got caught by Ohno’s roommate; not to mention, he was seen in his underwear only. In a hurry, he grabbed the jeans from Nino’s hands and quickly placed it on.

Nino lightly laughed, amused by Sho’s reaction. He twirled his pen around and started to point at each of the remnants of what Sho and Ohno did last night on Sho’s chest.

“Wild night, there”, and made another laugh making Sho even redder than he was earlier. He glanced over to Ohno who was sleeping soundly and back at Sho. “First date… you two are fast”

Sho now wants to bury himself down deep into the ground after all Nino’s teasing. Nino could not stop laughing even if he already stepped out of the room.

 

———————

 

And just like that, life seemed to be pretty much better for Ohno with the entrance of Sho in his life. For starters, he garnered a new perspective every time he repeats time in some of their dates. He practiced that kind of thinking, as well, in his work, friends and even hobbies. Live through the day with the accompanying worries and stress. Then, go back in time, and start the day again looking for the good things in those bad situations he encountered.

Every night, a text message or call from Sho would come up asking Ohno how was his day. It’s fascinating that every time, his reply would transition from “It’s kind of a bad day” to “It’s a nice and exciting day.”

Nino, slowly, moved out of their apartment as he gets more and more jobs as a musician. Invitations to play in big concert halls; as well as, TV guestings started to flood in. He offered his space to Sho and by the end of the year, Ohno and Sho were now living together. It took them awhile to adapt to the habits of each other. There were bad times and then, there were good times. Ohno thrived on those good times: sleepy Sunday mornings, Monday morning rush outs, Tuesday dinner pasta nights, Wednesday karaoke, Thursday drinking, Friday movie nights and Saturday cuddling sessions.

At some point in their lives, Ohno, finally, understood his father’s dilemma.

He woke up, one day, to a smell of freshly baked cake, maple syrup and whiff of vanilla. A sweet fragrance filled their studio unit and he was pulled out of his bedroom; then, to the kitchen to check what was the source of that mouth-watering aroma.

What he did not expect was to see Sho in his red apron. His partner was humming while attempting to flip the pancake. Luckily, he managed to get it back on his pan; not with some minor damage to its shape. He got worried when he noticed Sho starting to pour another batch of the batter.

His partner can’t cook — that’s a fact that Ohno was already aware of. The guy, once, attempted to make the simplest scrambled egg but he still failed to do so.

Ohno’s footsteps caused Sho to notice him. He shifted his eyes away from what he’s cooking and greeted Ohno a good morning with a big smile on his face.

Ohno peeked over to the plate beside Sho which contains pancakes that were already considered done. It was unusual-looking and kind of burnt. If Ohno were to describe it — it was a total nightmare.

“What are you doing?”, Ohno asked.

“Pancakes. Can’t you see?”

He once experienced the worst stomachache after eating Sho’s one-of-a-kind broccoli pasta. He promised to himself that he won’t let that happen again. It was during these type of moments that would make him truly appreciate his time traveling powers. Deciding to stop the disastrous pancakes from being prepared, he planned to travel back in time and woke up earlier than Sho.

But, before he could go back to their bedroom and go climb inside the cabinet, Sho began to speak, “I thought you’re gonna wake up in a much later time. I wanted to surprise you.”

And, Sho made a sincere smile that made Ohno stop his attempt.

“You’re always the one who prepares the breakfast; so this time, I decided it would be my turn.”, he continued.

Four times… his father attempted to stop his mother four times. If you’re faced with that kind of reasoning, if you’re faced with that kind of look from your partner, surely, one would be stumped on what to do. It took almost many years and he, finally, understood why his father can’t stop his mother from producing that sour-tasting pancakes. Did his father really went back in time, four times, in an attempt to stop his mother or to experience that moment again?

Ohno sighed and accepted his fate. What was he supposed to do? Sho’s intentions were too pure to even stop him.

Sho positioned himself at the back of Ohno and pushed him towards the dining table. He pulled out a chair and instructed Ohno to sit down. The pancakes were laid down on to the table and Sho placed the utensils on the side.

Ohno forced a smile and did as what he was told. Grabbing the fork beside the plate, he gulped as he prepared himself to taste the burnt-looking pancake in front of him. He sneaked a peek over to Sho and he was met with enthusiastic, big brown eyes.

“What are you waiting for? Come on… eat u—-“ and in an instant, Sho’s brightened expression shifted to a gloomy one.

“What am I saying…” and, he brought his hands over to his forehead, his face in total dismay.

He began to sulk.

“Stay away from that… It’s not good… Throw that thing out…”

Ohno found it amusing that Sho knew all along what it would taste like. He could not help but to chuckle over the sight of a despairing Sho. Grabbing Sho by his neck, he pulled him close and gave a kiss on his partner’s lips.

“It’s a shame if we throw this.”, and Ohno took a bite from the pancake.

As expected, it tastes nothing like those soft, fluffy, delectable pancakes that Ohno always craved for. Despite that, for now, he’ll let this mistake slide. There’s always a medicine; just in case, stomachaches would occur again.

“It has an… interesting flavor to it.”

He sliced a small portion of the pancake and brought it right over Sho’s mouth.

Sho opened up wide and stuffed the whole thing inside his mouth. It only took just a touch in Sho’s tongue for him to realize his grave error. His face grimaced and he almost gagged to the taste of it.

“Yuck!”, he exclaimed. “What are you talking about?! This is awful! Don’t eat that!”

A laugh bubbled out from Ohno.

“There’s ‘Sho Love’ in this so I’m gonna eat this all” and he proudly showed to Sho that he loves his pancake by taking another bite.

Instead of happiness, Sho simply rolled his eyes. “I already warned you! If you get a stomach ache, it’s not my fault!”

Ohno laughed lightly.

In his peripheral, he noticed a piece of white paper right beside the flower vase that Sho insisted be placed in the middle of the dining table. He picked it up and read the contents.

“Ah! That! It was sent to us, this morning. Looks like the invitations were now ready for the two.”

“Aiba and Jun, huh… Wow”

They should thank Ohno for that chance meeting that have occurred.

“I heard Jun’s looking all stressed out.”, Sho teased as he sipped his freshly brewed coffee. “Good thing, Aiba’s there”, and he laughed.

Ohno gazed at the card for a moment and smiled. He, then, stared at Sho directly.

“Why don’t we do this too?”

Sho almost spit out the coffee in his mouth when he heard Ohno’s words.

“Wha— What did you say?”

“This”, and Ohno pointed to the marriage invitation card. “Let’s do this.”

“Are you aware that you’re proposing to me? And Casually?! Satoshi, you don’t say that things normally.”

“But… I mean it, really…”

Sho noticed Ohno’s unfaltering gaze. Then and there, he knew that the man, in front of him, was serious.

There was a smile peeking out of Sho; simultaneously, rubbing his face with his hands, trying to understand why in the world he fell in love with this kind of man.

Ohno was waiting, sincerely waiting for Sho’s response. “And, your answer is?”

There was no hesitation, at all; neither, any holding back on his part. When Sho’s eyes met Ohno’s, with full confidence he replied, “...Yes, I will do that with you.”

Ohno simply smiled. The way they handled that was very simple and very subtle. Surely, there would be a formal proposal from either of them later on. But for now, they’re reassured that the future that they imagined for themselves would include the other and that brought great happiness to the both of them.

And as Ohno returned back to his pancakes, he, noticed something.

“By the way, are these supposed to be in a shape of a heart?”

Sho’s sloping shoulders flinched and he averted his gaze away from Ohno. “I— I do—‘nt know what you’re talking about?”

Ohno chewed on his pancake and grinned while he watched the panicking Sho with adoration.