Chapter Sixteen: Innocence in the Sun:

With plum blossom scent,
this sudden sun emerges
along a mountain trail


Tsuzuki and Anna walked through the sea of busy people. The rain pouring on them seemed to balance out any chance of tense moments. Neither felt like talking at the moment; they looked around at the mundane city sites. They came to a candy store halfway through their walk. Tsuzuki pressed his face against the glass as the puppy qualities came out as he drooled.

“Wow!” he cheered, “There’s so many of them!” His puppy tail wagged in the air at all of the festive colors on display. Anna watched along with him as if observing a test subject. She secretly found it amusing how Tsuzuki ogled over sweets.

Like a little child, she thought as she looked at the display along with him. One patch of candy in particular caught her eye. Botan Rice Candy was on sale today; a handful for a hundred yen to be frank. A warm tingle filled her being as she turned to her boyfriend.

“Asato-kun,” she said, “Let’s buy some candy.” The shinigami looked at her excited.

“Really, you mean it?” he questioned.

“Yeah,” Anna replied, “Whatever you like.” Tsuzuki turned around doing his all to repress his fire-like content.

“Oh, I want to hug you now, but, you know…” he said.

“Yeah,” Anna agreed. They walked into the candy store and came back out with big bagfuls of little sweets. Puppy Tsuzuki turned to Anna oozing with uncontained joy.

“Can we eat them now?” he pleaded, “Can we please? Please? Please?” Anna held up her hands giggling.

“There, there,” she said, “Let’s find somewhere to eat first.”

“Yay!” Tsuzuki cheered.

“Let’s just get out of the rain,” Anna said.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said with and excited nod, “Can we get lunch too? I’m starving!”

“Lunch?” his girl asked with a small shock in her voice, “But isn’t it too early for that?” Tsuzuki pouted at her.

“Pleaseeeee!” he begged. Anna looked away and sighed.

“Fine, fine,” she said softly, “We’ll have lunch.”

“Thank you, Anna-chan!” Tsuzuki said aloud. She only smiled at him.

“Silly,” the woman mumbled. They came to Pinkku Kitsune café after about twenty of looking for the ideal place to eat. The couple sat under the shade outside away from the rain and ordered a sampler plate off the menu. This café not only specialized in Japanese cuisine, but they went all out with French and Filipino food as well. Plus, Pinkku Kitsune slaved over the stove to get their desserts to perfection. The sampler plate practically took up the whole table. Anna looked at their lunch with big eyes.

“Wow!” she nearly yelped, “We might have to bag this and take it home!” Tsuzuki wasn’t listening, of course; he had already started eating. Anna smiled and shook her head to herself.

Typical, she thought, You don’t hear a single word anyone says when food goes in your mouth. Anna picked up her chopsticks and began eating. No talking was allowed while the couple ate. Halfway through lunch, Tsuzuki looked up at his girl.

“Anna,” he spoke. The woman’s eyes trailed up to him.

“What is it?” she asked. Tsuzuki lowered his chopsticks before him.

“When we were in the candy store a few minutes ago,” he began, “I noticed that you only bought Botan Rice Candy; why is that?” The shinigami noticed a small smile spreading onto Anna’s face.

“Oh,” Tsuzuki said, “Happy memories, huh?” Anna nodded at him in a matching mood.

“How do you read me that well?” she asked.

“Am I right?” he asked with a shrug. Anna pressed her lips together as she smiled.

“Alright,” she fessed up at last, “Yes, my childhood was good. It had its up and downs, but it was mostly normal. Papa tried his best to keep it that way. I never noticed it at the time. I was more… how do you put it?”

“Naïve?” Tsuzuki offered.

“I guess you could say that,” Anna replied, “I was pretty much the only child in my old neighborhood before we moved to the Manor. Our neighbors practically spoiled me rotten.” A little giggle escaped her lips. “When I wasn’t looking,” Anna went on. “Kato-san used to sneak little Botan Rice candies in my pocket. He made keep quiet about them, though. I guess it was supposed to be some sort of a secret between us. Just seeing those candies in the window reminded me of my childhood.” Anna gently brushed her bangs from her eyes. Tsuzuki listened on as he finished his lunch. He enjoyed hearing stories about Anna’s childhood.

“Why did you and Daisuke-san leave?” the shinigami asked. Anna shrugged and shook her head.

“Papa never really told me,” she explained, “We just packed up our things and left. He only said that we needed to leave for his job.”

“I see,” Tsuzuki replied softly. It was then he realized that Anna was finally opening up to him. Slowly, but surely she was starting to trust him. Maybe now, he could learn more and more about Kimoto-san. However, that itself carried a hefty fee around its waist. To get Anna to open up about herself, he would have to tell her about his own past. Tsuzuki’s glow on his face slowly began to dim.

Can she even begin to take all of that?, he thought. Tsuzuki shook his head. No!, he thought, I can’t tell Anna-chan, not just yet. His hands began to tremble as they went pale.

“Asato-kun, what’s wrong?” a sweet-sounding voice asked. The shinigami jerked his head forward. Anna looked at him with worry clouding her eyes.

“Huh?” he asked blankly.

“Are you okay? You look so pale?” Anna asked. Her lover quickly shook his head.

“It’s nothing,” he lied. Anna kept her eyes focused on him.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“I’m fine, Anna-chan,” he insisted.

“Okay…” she replied uneasily. Anna paid the bill and they continued on with their walk. Tsuzuki planned to tell Anna about his past; just not yet.