Chapter VI

The sun started to go down and the afternoon sky turned orange. Dawn and Hotaru walked among the cherry trees which were yet to bloom. They were surrounded by gravestones, some big and fancy, some really small. They walked side by side without saying a word, taking slow steps. After a while they stopped in front of a grave which had a vase of flowers and a framed picture of a black-haired girl. Hotaru gasped a little when reading the name on the grave, even though she knew what was waiting for her.

"Asuka Mitsuki. That's her grave", Dawn said with a low voice. Dawn did occasionally visit his ex-girlfriend, but lately had been missing on the visits. He sighed.

"We were dating a while back. She was my girlfriend for about three months, but we were… Kind of an awkward couple. It got serious just before the end." Dawn sighed.

"I'm… I'm really sorry, you don't have to force it", Hotaru said. She saw that Dawn was in pain.

"No, it's alright if it's you", Dawn said spontaneously. Hotaru blushed.

"Anyway! Last spring we went to the Cherry Festival together like I said, and there I got to confess my deepest feelings to her."

"What in the world could've happened? You seemed to be doing perfect", asked Hotaru.

"A horrible incident took place shortly. A week after the festival we were supposed to meet at the city centre and have a date. I went there ahead of time so I could surprise her. Then, time passed and there was no sign of her…" Dawn's voice began to tremble.

"Dawn-kun…"

"No, no. Wait. I received a phone call from mom to return home immediately. She sounded very startled and since Asuka didn't show up, I went home. When I got there, mom just hugged me with teary eyes. I asked what happened, and then…"

"Oh no…" Hotaru's eyes began to water.

"Asuka had been hit by a truck under a bridge about 100 meters from the place we were supposed to meet. I heard she died immediately. She was going to be on time for the date… She was… So close… I never got to say goodbye…" Dawn gave up. He started crying loudly, holding his arm in front of his eyes. Hotaru embraced Dawn and buried his face in her arms.

"I'm so sorry, Dawn. I had no idea. Thank you for trusting me", she said. Dawn couldn't say anything.

"There, there. I'm here."

For a good ten minutes Dawn and Hotaru stood on the graveyard grounds, silently in a deep embrace. Then Dawn got out of Hotaru's arms and regained his ability to speak.

"The worst part is they never found the driver of the truck that hit her. He had escaped from the crime scene and somehow got out…"

"That's utterly horrible, how can it be…"

"I don't know, but if I ever get my hands on him…" Dawn said angrily. Hotaru grasped his hand.

"It's not the answer, Dawn-kun. I'm sure they catch him sooner or later." Dawn took a deep breath.

"Shall we go?"

"Yeah, sure. Goodbye to you, Asuka-chan. I'll visit you", Hotaru said to the gravestone.

"Bye, Asuka. See you", Dawn said and walked away. The flowers danced in the smooth afternoon wind. The girl in the photo smiled.

The couple arrived at Dawn's doorstep.

"Well… Uhh…" Dawn started to mumble. Hotaru was just as speechless.

"Thanks for today", she said.

"Yeah.. Um… Do you… Want to… Um… Come in or something…?" Dawn managed to say. Hotaru looked like she had just won the lottery.

"A-are you sure?" she stuttered.

"Well, since we spent the day together, might as well have tea…" Dawn said embarrassedly.

"Well then, if you'll really let me in…"

Inside, Haruka was waiting in utter amazement.

"NII-SAN! Who is that?!" She yelled.

"Shut it! She's Hotaru Kumiko, a schoolmate. Hotaru bowed down.

"Sorry for the disturbance", she said. Behind Haruka, Dawn's mother waved her hand.

"Don't worry, Hotaru-chan, you're most welcome here!"

Well that's mom for you. She knows exactly what's up.

"Shall I make you some tea and snacks?"

"If you'd be so kind", Dawn said. He and Hotaru went upstairs to Dawn's room. The first sight in the room were Dawn's underpants from the day before, laying in the middle of the floor.

FUCKSHIT! I didn't expect us to come here so I didn't clean! What the hell will I-

"Um, ahh, Hotaru-san, would you mind waiting outside for a minute?" he asked with a red face.

"O-okay", she agreed. Dawn smashed his door shut and started throwing clothes into his closet.

Great, she thinks I'm hiding porn magazines…

"I wonder if he's hiding porn magazines…" Hotaru mumbled with blushed cheeks. On the spot. Dawn's door opened.

"Welcome in!" he said with a smile so fake even a child could see. Hotaru was silent.

After sipping tea and eating a few Pockies, Dawn and Hotaru sat in silent on Dawn's bed. He didn't have a table to have tea on, so the bed had to do.

"W-well, is there anything else you'd like to know?" Dawn asked. He was in the mood to talk so now was Hotaru's chance to get to know him.

"Umm… I just wondered that day on the rooftop when we met…" she said but stopped her sentence midway.

"Ahaha, that one. I actually lied to you – I did not search for a place to drink my coffee in."

"Figured as much", she laughed.

"I've come to like the rain. It's beautiful. So I wanted to feel the rain on the roof, and I saw you there."

"Oh, I stole your place! Sorry, Dawn-kun!" she said and clapped his hands together in apology.

"What? Oh no, I don't own it. You got there first."

"So why do you like rain so much?" Hotaru asked.

"Well… I've always thought that if it had rained when me and Asuka were supposed to meet, she would've not left her house… So I cherish the rain. To me it's a possibility of a future I'll never get."

"Oh… That's kinda sweet."

"Yeah… But at the same time it reminds me of the bitter reality that I can't escape. That nothing lasts forever." Suddenly Dawn felt a bump on his shoulder. Hotaru's head was laying there against Dawn. He could hear a faint snore. Hotaru had fallen asleep, probably because she had drained energy today to all of her emotional storms.

Am I that boring, huh…

Hotaru woke up an hour later. She opened her eyes and yawned.

"What… Where am I…" her thoughts snapped when she saw Dawn's face about 10 centimeters from hers. Dawn was asleep, sleeping next to Hotaru. She blushed uncontrollably once again.

"D-D-D-Dawn-kun!" she yelled without even realizing it. Dawn's eyes blew open instantly. Both of them just stared at each other silently. Dawn heard a footstep from his door. Haruka was standing there, looking from the crack of the door, smiling with a smug face.

"HARUKA! GET OUT!" Dawn yelled. Haruka started laughing and ran from the door.

"THEY REALLY SLEPT TOGETHER! HAHAHA!" her voice echoed in the house. Dawn could hear his mom sighing downstairs.

"My, my."

"No, no, you… YOU GOT IT WROOOOONG!"

"Well then, I'll be going", Hotaru said and opened the door to Dawn's house.

"Yeah. Thanks for tagging along." Dawn responded.

"No, thank you for today. It means a lot. Want to walk with me to school tomorrow?" Hotaru asked.

"Oh, I wouldn't mind", Dawn said and smiled. Hotaru looked happy.

"Great! And, um, another thing…"

"What is it?"

"Well, this isn't the best of times to ask, but, would you like to accompany me to the Cherry Festival? I understand if you don't, of course…"

Dawn thought about it for a split second.

Sorry, Asuka. I'll visit the festival with another girl.

"Yeah, why not. I reckon it'll be fun", he said.

"Great! Well, see you tomorrow!" Hotaru said with a smile greater than ever before. She then sprinted away, clearly late of the time she promised to be home.

"It's okay, Dawn."

"What? Who's there?!" Dawn said startled.

"It's fine. I don't want you to stay like this forever."

"NOT FUNNY! Show yourself!" he yelled, but no one was in sight. It was as if the wind itself was talking.

"Dawn, my dear. It's time to let me go."

Dawn froze.

"Are… Are you…?"

"Goodbye, Dawn. Thank you for loving me."

"WAIT! Don't go! I want to-" Dawn's scream was interfered by an strong breeze of cold wind. The last rays of the sunset showed the cherry trees, which had small pink leaves coming out of the branches. Dawn stood on the road, watching the city being covered in pink.

"The cherries… Are blooming…"

Dawn smiled behind his tears.

"... That's my line. Thank you for loving me."

A drop of water fell from the sky onto Dawn's face.

"Don't cry, dummy. It's not even raining."