Kohane's sweet voice made Watanuki smile.
She looked beautiful in the kimono he had gifted her. Domeki was at her side, holding a giant watermelon like it was no big deal. Watanuki was a bit envious of his strength, he had to admit.
"We brought this for you..."
"Thank you Kohane! Since it's so hot, it's perfect!"
He accompanied Domeki to the kitchen and he spoke as he cut it to serve it to his friends.
"So how are things going? Are you happy?"
Naturally Watanuki wasn’t present to the wedding, but the photos were stunning. They had married in the shrine of the Domeki family.
"Well, thank you"
"You should wear traditional clothes more often, they suit you..."
Watanuki said, looking at the kimono Domeki was wearing. It was simple, dark with a geometric pattern that resembled little arrows. It was a typical male design, unlike Watanuki's. His kimono had cherry blossom on it... something She would have liked.
"Kohane choose it for me"
"Ha! What a lucky man! Tsk, bring this to your wife" Watanuki sent him to the garden with two slices as he cut the last one for himself. He left the rest in the kitchen and followed the man.
He took a moment to look at his friends sitting in the balcony. They looked like a paiting from a distant time.
Kohane was a woman. She could smile and laugh at loud. So different from the fearful, timid child he had met that rainy day.
And Domeki too, had changed. Maybe more physically than anything else - he was still the stubborn boy of few words that he had known in school - but he had a different aura. He looked dependable and somehow kinder.
He was happy for them. Genuinely.
And yet he felt a pang in his chest. They were growing, changing... and he would not.
He had made his decision. He didn't regret it but...
" Let’s eat!" He said, smiling softly "Before Mokona finds out and eats all!"
It was Watanuki's birthday. Everyone was at home with him. It was loud, and he was happy. It was the first time Himawari had brought her husband with her. He seemed like a good man, delicate features and a kind smile that reached his eyes that even his big eyeglasses couldn’t hide.
He got along well with the others.
"Thank you for inviting me! Your cooking is absolutely fantastic!"
"Thank you for coming"
Watanuki had cooked everything himself. Domeki came back from the kitchen with the lobsters on a giant, green plate. Watanuki had already cut them so they were easy to eat.
He tried to serve Kohane but she declined gently. No one else seemed to notice as they were all chatting. Watanuki whispered.
"You don’t like it?"
"No, it's not that, I love them but it's better if I don't eat them..."
Watanuki noticed in that moment that she hadn't drank at all that night - she wasn't a heavy drinker but she always took at least a glass of beer...
"Oh" the realization hit him hard. "Kohane, are you...?"
"I don't know yet... but, well I prefer not.. "
"Yes of course you're right..." he patted her hand. "Let me prepare you something else, please"
Watanuki stood up.
"I'll go with you..." Kohane smiled shyly as they both went to the kitchen. Watanuki seached the fridge, pensive.
"I have some leftovers... it's not much I'm sorry" he checked the octopus of the previous night. The Fox's son had given it to him as a present. It looked good but he had a taste just to be sure. Seemed good. He served it in a plate as Kohane looked shyly at him "Domeki doesn’t know anything yet. Of course you'll be the first to notice"
"Are you sure about this?"
Domeki was tilling the soil. He looked strange with the traditional straw hat.
"I'm too busy with the shop, I can't take care of a vegetable garden too..."
"I'll take care of it." Domeki said.
Watanuki almost asked ' and who would, when you're gone?'.
But he didn't, thankfully.
He stopped and admired his work. It was a perfect rectangle on the back of the shop.
"Can I? Can I? "
Hikari jumped around with a sachet of seeds. Domeki patted her head. She was four years old now. She looked so much like Kohane - she even had a mole near her eye as well - but she had soft black hair. She could enter the shop because she had the desire to meet the friend her parents always talked about. Such honest, pure desire seemed to be enough.
"Sure you can" Domeki smiled softly at her. It was a new side of him. "Watanuki".
"Okay, okay, I 'll do it... too".
Hikari entered the shop, and stayed in the entrance. She screamed "Watanukiiii?"
"Welcome back, Hikari"
Watanuki meet her in the corridor.
"You look so cute with your new uniform"
Hikari blushed at that, brushing the edge of her skirt. She had just entered middle school.
"Thank you.. is dad here?"
"Sure! He's in the garden"
Hikari hurried outside and saw his father. He was gathering eggplants.
He looked up. Even with dirty clothes and sweaty, he was handsome. But she would never admit that to him.
"Ha! Look at you! Let me take a picture! I 'll send it to your students so they'll make fun of you!"
Domeki's eyes grew wide at that threat.
"... how about you help me instead?"
"Tsk! Then you'll go home with me?"
Hikari jumped off, quick on her feet. She took the eggplants and the basket was full in a matter of minutes.
Watanuki looked at the father and daughter from the balcony while he drank some sake.
Domeki took the basket and placed it beside him.
"Cook something good with this ones".
"Tsk.. you should ask me in a gentler tone... but well, you have done your part" Watanuki admitted.
"Yeah I want to eat it too! I love your cooking Watanuki!"
Hikari's eyes brightened at the prospect. She was a lot more honest then his father was.
"Sure, darling. Bring some home too. Say hello to your mom as well"
"Okay, let's go, dad!"
Hikari pulled Domeki from his clothes. He sighed and looked at Watanuki.
"I can stay more, there's still that chair to repair and..."
Watanuki interrupted him, "don't worry, there's no rush and you have exams coming soon. Enjoy dinner with your family. Goodbye "
"Bye!" Hikari handwaved and ran to the exit. Domeki nodded and joyned her.
"See you tomorrow"
Watanuki followed their backs until they turned the corner and the fence hid them from sight.