Chapter Twenty-Three: Wrinkled Paper Flowers:
October 24th, 2009.
"Can I look now?" Tsuzuki asked aloud.
"Not yet," Anna called from the bathroom. The shinigami pouted as tapped his foot on the floor.
"Okay, you can look now!" his girl called. Tsuzuki slowly opened his eyes. Anna stood before him all dressed up. Her light blue yukata made her look like a princess. The orange obi held it closed. She had her hair up in a flirty ponytail. Tsuzuki gave her a little smile. Anna turned for him.
"Well," she said. "What do you think?"
"Beautiful," Tsuzuki mumbled.
"I feel like a bride," she said. Her man raised an eyebrow at her.
"Oh?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said. The woman turned again. "In America, there is the saying for the bride: 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.'" Anna giggled as she held out her arms. "My yukata is blue, as you can see. My jewelry is old. My gardenia hair clip is borrowed from Rihoko. Finally, my lip gloss and perfume are new." She moved in close to his face. "See, perfect bride?"
Tsuzuki gave her a little smile. "I see." Suddenly, the doorbell rang. The couple quickly looked up.
"That would be them," Tsuzuki said.
"Yeah," Anna replied. They went down the hall. Tsuzuki opened the door. The shinigami looked inside as their host gave them a little smile.
"You made it," he said. Watari looked into the house.
"Where is everyone?" he asked.
"Backyard," Anna replied. "Come with us." The couple led the boys outside. Rihoko, Yoko-chan, Seita, Emiko, Hotaru, Mike, and Kazue all sat around at the tables moved outside. Mike waved at them.
"Hey," he said.
"Hi there," Watari said. Tsuzuki clapped his hands together.
"Okay, we're all here," he said. "Let's get started." The guests sat around the tables talking. Hisoka gave Tsuzuki a little smile; not a fake smile either. His partner relaxed.
He's starting to cope, he thought. Suddenly, someone held the older shinigami�s hand. Tsuzuki looked over to his left. Anna smiled at him. Her man felt a sea of warmth fill his heart. Anna-chan� He remembered his proposal plan with every detail. This had to be private; a public proposal put too much pressure on the recipient. Plus, his co-workers would do anything to shoot it down.
"How are your classes, Rihoko?" Emiko asked.
"Good," the young mother answered. "I'm about done with grad school."
"Really?" Mike asked.
"Yeah," she said.
Now, how to announce the proposal? Tsuzuki still had that to work on. As mentioned before, the others weren't too keen on their relationship. Maybe the party would ease things. He'd have to wait and see. Anna looked at the crew.
"Anyone want some tea?" she offered.
"Yes," the others said.
"Alright," she said. The woman rose to get it, but Tsuzuki held her wrist. Anna looked down quickly. Tsuzuki shook his head.
"No," he said. "You sit and rest today."
"It's your day, just rest," he insisted. Anna looked at her guests. Their eyes seemed to agree with him. The woman lowered her shoulders.
"Alright," she said. Anna sat back down. Tsuzuki looked over at Seita.
"Go get the tea," he said. The lodger boy shrugged in indifference.
"Fine," he said. Seita stood up and went into the kitchen. He came back with a tray of dark green tea.
Tsuzuki still had a hitch with the proposal. He hadn't gotten the ring. Most of the rings he looked at were out of his price range. Plus, none of the cheaper ones really matched up with Anna. This ring had to be special. That's how it was supposed to be, right? In the end, he couldn't get the ring. Tsuzuki sighed to himself. Guess I'll have to do it without the ring for now.
"Something wrong?" someone asked him. The shinigami jerked up his head. Anna looked on at him. Her man shook his head.
"Nothing," he lied. "Just enjoy the party." She didn't believe him, but said nothing.
"Okay," Anna said. Yoko-chan rose to her feet.
"I'll go get lunch now!" she said. The boys looked at her.
"You made lunch?" Tatsumi asked.
"Yeah," she said. She rushed to the kitchen.
"I'll help," Rihoko said as she followed after her daughter. Anna, Seita, and the demons grinned. Emiko turned to the shinigami.
"You're gonna love this," she said. Mother and daughter returned with twelve black and gold bento boxes.
"Wow!" the others said.
"Enjoy!" Yoko-chan cheered. Rihoko passed around the boxes.
"Aw, how cute!" Anna said. The food looked like little animals.
"We have rice bunnies, fried tofu ducks on a nori lake, tempura, eel sushi, and chocolate mice," Yoko-chan summed up.
"I bought the sushi," Rihoko admitted.
"Either way, let's eat!" Anna spoke up. Everyone dug in. Tsuzuki thought about the plan again. They had to be in private to make this work, but when? Tonight is the best night to act on it. All he had to do was get her alone and pop the question. The answer depended on Anna alone.
Speaking of which, Anna lowered her chopsticks.
"What shall we do next?" she asked.
"Karaoke!" Rihoko cheered.
"Yeah!" the other girls yelled. Anna looked around at the people.
"Okay," she said. "Karaoke it is then." The party went on into the evening. They turned on the paper party lanterns by then, a nice touch by Rihoko during decorating. All the while, Tsuzuki counted down to the end of the party. Just a little while longer� Meanwhile, he admired his princess enjoying their party.
At ten o'clock, everything wound down. Anna helped Rihoko, Yoko-chan, and Seita clean up the backyard. She was wiping the table down when someone tapped her on the shoulder. The woman looked up to see Tsuzuki smiling over her.
"Asato-kun," she whispered. He leaned in close to her ear.
"I have a little surprise for you," he whispered. His woman looked at him.
"What is it?" she whispered.
"Come and see," he whispered back. The shinigami took her by the hand and led her into Kimoto Manor.
"Hey!" Anna called. "Slow down." Tsuzuki smiled to himself as they came into the living room. They stopped in the middle. The man turned to her.
"You wait here for a moment while I get your surprise, okay?" he whispered. Anna nodded.
"Okay," she said. Tsuzuki gave her a quick kiss on the lips.
"Be right back," he whispered. Anna gave him a little smile.
"Okay," she said. Tsuzuki headed down the hall. He went into the bathroom, turned on the light, and took a breath.
"Okay," he mumbled. The shinigami went over the words in his head. He recited the speech to himself. "Anna-chan," Tsuzuki opened up. "It's been six whole months." No�
Anna looked around the living room. Only the end table lamp had been turned on. I never noticed how big this room was, she thought. Suddenly, she felt a small rip inside of her. Anna slowly put her hand to her chest.
"Anna-chan, we've been together for six months now, and I really love you. I want us to be closer."
Blood, the woman saw blood on her lady-like fingertips.
"This will make me the happiest man ever."
Blood slowly trailed down her fingers. Silence, silence as Anna slowly fell into a world of black on the tatami floor.
"Which is why I love you, and I want to marry you. Anna-chan, will you marry me?"
Tsuzuki smiled a bit. Perfect; simple and perfect. The man turned and headed out to his ladylove, but when he made it to the living room, the horror drained the color from his face.
"Anna-chan!" he cried. His beloved lay on the floor, deaf to his cries.