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Stay as You Are

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Seishuu Handa was a boring man and a city slicker. He was stuck to his average routine of simplicity, making his daily life nothing far from a bore. On his small day-off from work, he would still be unable to do anything that was remotely exciting. Living averagely, Handa went to a diner that was nearby to his apartment complex to eat something that was not too strong on his taste buds.

 

Wearing an ugly and lazy shade of green for a sweater, the kind that looked like it was an old broccoli soup, Handa ordered his usual from the menu, which was a small fries, coke, and a cheeseburger.  He took a booth by himself that was near the front of the restaurant. It was not a shabby place and not too expensive that Seishuu would have to sell his kidneys to pay the order. It was simple, as if the restaurant represented him clearly.

 

Past the window, he would gaze openly at it. Unclear of what he was hoping to appear on the glass, Seishuu was a little frustrated how peaceful and boring his life was becoming. It was not always like that, was it?

 

As he duly chewed at his food, munching the unhealthy goodness into his stomach, he uncapped the black sharpie that was in his bag. Handa exhaled air that resembled more of a sigh and began to pull out the yellow notepad while he used his phone to listen to music. Handa motioned his hand to draw a happy smile on the nail of his thumb. It was something that reminded him of a memory that he was unable to access, but it must had been a happy one because it would put a small smile on his own face.

 

It was going to be another day of blandness.

 

****

 

Handa woke up to the silence in his room. Oddly, he was supposed to be used to it, but today was different in a subtle way. His arms were still there, and his vision was still functioning at 100%. The right leg was numbed from the way he was sleeping, but at least his left leg was okay. Shrugging the vibe of difference, Handa proceeded to get up from bed, scratching the back of his neck as his eyes adjusted to the light of the room.

 

Transitioning to the kitchen, Handa sat in the austere chair that he got for cheap at a discounted furniture store. The light from the windows of his apartment smoothly slid into the room as a criminal would. The silence was plucking at each nerve in Handa, for he wanted to understand what it was that disturbed his relaxation at home.

 

Was he waiting for something to happen? No. There was not supposed to be any important packages delivered to his front door. The rent was paid already, so there was no mail to send out. The next two days were his day-off from his job, and Handa was well-aware that he was going to do nothing as usual. It was a bland, simple life he was living.

 

Still in his boxers, his hairy thighs were waving to the slight draft in the home. Handa moved over to the bathroom and found it displacing to be inside. He picked up a splashed-white toothbrush and began brushing his teeth. It was a normal activity, but it was almost so offsetting to the male. A drawing of koi fishes and kelp on paper was plastered randomly on the sidewall of the bathtub. Was it always there? Handa was unsure how he was feeling about it, but he kept it there because it would look weird if it was not there anymore.

 

The uncertainty of something missing in Handa’s life was starting to invade his personal comfort at home. In a vain effort to take care of it, Handa packed his backpack and decided to go out—anywhere he could go frankly. In the spur of the moment, he almost forgot to put on appropriate clothes.

 

After rummaging through his closet, he noticed the limited clean clothing he had left. He had no choice but to wear a loose red-and-white stripped button-up and faded blue jeans. It was a little more colorful than what Seishuu would usually choose to wear.

 

Unsurprisingly, Handa was seated at the same diner again and decided to eat the same small meal for himself. A yellow notepad was on the surface of the stable. The fries in its disposable paper wrap. Salt and another spice was itching at Handa’s nose, tugging it to smell it more. His stomach could try to have fry, but his real appetite was on the drawing of two figures holdings hands on the notepad.

 

It was pretty empty around the diner around noon. Typically, people would want to go have a lunch break at this time. Today was off…

 

The soda served in a rounded glass cup was something Handa wondered if it was to make their diner seem fancier than the others. Regardless, the fries were already losing its initial heat, and the burger was not as appealing as Handa thought it would be. The least he could do was listen to the music on his phone as he began to draw on the next page of the yellow notepad.

 

As if things were not offsetting as they were, a strange man sat down across from Handa on his own table. Thinking the man had something important to say, Handa removed his earpieces to be respectful and to be able to hear out the stranger. The pure black sunglasses made it impossible to see the eyes of the stranger, but Handa could not shake the easy feeling that he was getting from the male. Without a word of explanation or introduction, the stranger grabbed a fry and place it between their jaws and chew at the delicate skin.

 

Baffled at who this man thought he was, Handa took his fries and brought it closer to himself, not allowing the unknown man to have anymore free food. He did not pay for shit! Handa watched as the stranger lowered their sunglasses to analyze Handa with those calm, vividly hazel brown eyes.

 

So weird, so familiar…

 

****

 

Handa left with his backpack hanging loosely on his left shoulder. It was so warm seeing the sun, but his body was slightly chilly. It was an unusual feeling. At least he was not going to face that odd man anymore.


“Hey!” A male voice called out.

 

Hesitant to turn around, Handa did so anyway. It was the same, strange, creepy guy. “What?” Handa had to respond with something within a certain time frame, or else it would look awkward to stand there. Handa had to fix his mannerisms soon.

 

“Let’s hang out today. You and me.” The male stated straightforwardly before topping it with a flashy smile.

 

Handa chuckled, thinking it was plain joke. Seeing how serious the other male was with his leather jacket, Handa’s smile turned to a frown. “You and I?”

 

Handa knew that the looks, the whole Greaser look, was not something that he was looking forward to trusting. It was on the bottom of his trust list, frankly. However, the smile and sincerness of the other male was pulling him into an unknown gravity. “I suppose,” Handa shrugged with his lips stretching across his cheeks for no reason.

 

****

 

As Handa carried the luggage bag that the stranger was carrying around. It was subtly light and was not necessarily matching the color-scheme that the stranger had going on. “Hiroshi, right?”

 

“Yeah, Handa,” the Greaser-looking male responded lightly. His jacket was taken off and was resting upon the luggage that Handa was voluntarily carrying. “You can call me Hiro, too.”

 

“Yeah,” Handa responded. His name came out of Hiroshi’s mouth like honey pouring out of a jar—smooth, sticky, and sweet. Clear blue skies was apparent, but the feeling of emptiness was slowly disappearing after Hiroshi arrived into Handa’s life. Although, the Japanese man was unsure why he was getting strong sense of familiarity with the greaser male.

 

They walked down the street against the soft current of air with fountain drinks in the plastic cups in their hands. Hiro, who was ahead of Handa, sipped happily at the coke in his hand. Occasionally turning around to check on Handa’s face before smiling with a goofy expression, Hiroshi was something else to Handa.

 

Handa sent a secret smile as he sipped at his own drink while Hiroshi led the way to their first destination together.

 

****

 

Two heavy bowling balls were held in Hiroshi’s hands. One pink ball and another was ball. Hiroshi was going to use the bright pink ball while leaving the other to his partner. Pins in the background were falling and causing a voluminous thud to echo throughout the arena.

 

After setting up, Hiro was the first to play before Handa took his turn. Determination radiating from Hiro’s eyes, he conjured as much strength into his arms as possible before doing the roll. However, half-way through the action, Hiro stopped himself and bent down and rolled the ball over slowly over to the pins. The blond man was a little bummed out that it was not necessarily a great score.

 

It was Handa’s turn, and he set the ball up in the correct fingers and released the heavy mass of weight from his hands to the ground. It rolled, rolled, rolled, leaving sounds behind its tracks, until it finally reached its destination—it hit and miraculously made a perfect strike. Handa laughed along with Hiroshi. They clasped their hands together and jumped before Handa lost his balance and fell over to the chair that was luckily on the side.

 

Taking a small break together, the two were seated close to each other, but they were drinking a form of energy drinks that was purchased from the shops in the bowling center. It was a little too quiet, but Handa felt it was not necessary for them to talk all the time. It was rather pleasant to sit there, bathing in tranquility as other players tried to score a perfect strike.

 

As they finished their drinks, the time was a hare around Hiroshi, running away from the sly fox. Handa never understood how an hour of fun could have lasted shortly. In Handa’s opinion, it felt like it was many hours in the time they were throwing balls everywhere. Handa supposed there was no compelling argument besides that it was time well-spent.

 

Sitting in obedience, they quietly observed their surroundings. Hiroshi out of the blue laid his head to rest upon Handa’s right shoulder. Buzzing sounds from the scoreboard was resonating. People were engrossed in their individual games as Hiroshi was growing tired. Hiroshi figured it was not like it was going to be anything like it was before , but he wanted to pretend for a while that it was .

 

Handa was slightly surprised by the action but not disgusted; instead he felt his body relaxing to the touch of the blond greaser. It was odd. The whole thing was odd. A stranger was making him feel at home more than Handa’s own family. Maybe after the day was over that Handa could check a doctor afterwards.

 

****

 

The zoo was the next place, and it was perhaps a wonder why Handa never desired to visit the zoo at least once or twice. One flaw of the zoos that Handa was aware of after being an hour into the adventure, he disliked how almost everything was struck with the stench of shit. If there was only a giant Febreeze that could safely encase the zoo to eliminate the foul odor, Handa would gladly appreciate it.

 

The giraffes were peacefully chewing at their patches of leaves as Hiro was attempting to wave at them. “You idiot!” Handa was laughing too loudly for his own comfort.

 

Afterwards, Hiro and Handa were taking a picture together on Hiro’s phone. Handa made a funny face with his tongue all out as Hiroshi was sophisticated and casual about the shot. The picture was taken meanwhile the two were keeping their post for a second longer. When Hiroshi went to check on the photo, he immediately laughed at Handa’s expression.

 

The black-haired male was lost because he thought they were supposed to make those type of faces with friends. It was a strange thing to experience life in a colorful way. Unknown to the feelings, Handa could only smile warmly as if he saw a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies come out of an oven.

 

Hiro also shared the joyous moment with the black-haired male. He liked a lot of things about Handa: the way that Handa was childish to the point of vulnerability; the smile that was more warm than the nights they shared hot pots together; and the dumbness that followed Handa as if it were a tied balloon over Handa’s head. It was almost all loveable .

 

If the place where Handa was heading was somewhere unreachable for Hiro, then Hiro swore to chase after an intangible future with the dull, stupid black-haired airhead. The bridge that the zoo built over a large body of water was beautiful nonetheless. In the day that Hiro was going to spend with Handa, he was going to attempt to do the impossible. Holding tightly to handle of his luggage that Handa was also holding, Hiroshi dragged them to a place that he hoped would be able to bring together the broken pieces of history.

 

It was an aquarium. Blue as the sea and its crashing waves of azure and as blue as the sky when it was vividly clear. There was too much aching in the lonely heart that Hiroshi was hiding behind the faltering smile. It was like hoping the crack in the mirror would fix itself, knowing it was impossible to ever return it to its original form. The scars would always appear and remind Hiroshi of what could not become true. No matter how much blue was painting Hiro’s heart, the blond was going to paint it all bright in yellow for Handa to follow.

 

When Hiroshi decided to give the fishes a look, Handa took his own eyes to glance at the blond. It was like a little game of hide-and-seek with their eyes. A battle of perseverance as one player was going to get caught and the other can hide their stare excellently. However, Hiroshi almost yearned for the eye contact to be mutual.

 

It was Handa’s pure fascination with all the different species that were residing within the aquarium that he was not aware of Hiroshi’s distant, yearning stares; a sadness so dark blue that depths of the ocean was envious of its color. A passing whale shark steadily floated by and made it seem like time was slowing down. They silently peered at it together, unsure of what to do with themselves. Handa was trying to figure out each species that was in his sight. All the fishes ignored his presence, but there was a fish that was next to him that wanted to be noticed.

 

Hiroshi removed his attention from the whale shark before being shocked at how deeply engulfed Handa was gawking at the blond. For a moment in cruel time, Hiroshi felt the gravity changing and pulling him closer to the black-haired male until the air was being sucked out of his lungs by the anxiety and anticipation. Almost closing the distance between their lips, Hiroshi realized what he was doing and stopped himself before it was too late, escaping the vacuum of despair that he was launching himself into.

 

Handa remained clueless of what happened.

 

Sucking his bottom lip as if it was going to give him a form of comfort, Hiroshi took a slow blink, seeing the darkness from underneath of his eyelid, contemplating if it was a good idea to stay around Handa. As he backed away, Handa felt his heart pumping faster than it usually did. It was strange that he was feeling this certain way toward a stranger he met in a day.

 

****

 

After the zoo adventure, the evening was still not the pinnacle of the two male’s day. They still had a few things they wanted to do until the very end, or at least Hiroshi planned it to be extended by a couple more hours. The beach was perfect, for it had nobody around at the time; too cold for people to enjoy the waters.

 

Handa and Hiroshi were picking shells from the grainy sand. As Handa picked up a perfectly formed shell that was not broken like the others they collected, he presented it to Hiroshi with an eccentric face. Speechless and unable to express anything on his face, the blond blankly glanced at Handa, realizing how much it was going to hurt to see that happy smile. “Are you okay?” Handa had to ask, of course he was being polite. Hiroshi did not want to overthink it, so he only nodded and got up to walk away.

 

As they were walking along the shore, the sun was setting with red apparent in the light of things. Hiroshi was the closest to the freezing waters as Handa was a little farther away. “What’s your life like, Handa?” Hiro was wondering, casually letting his feet feel the sand between his toes.

 

“It’s bland, frankly,” Handa responded.

 

“Oh reall—aaaaaah!” Hiroshi yelled as his ankles and feet were utterly soaked by the ocean. Handa laughed and was almost bugeyed to the scene, causing Hiroshi to loosen up and laugh about the moment as well. Salt was the only aroma around the beach, and the wind roared as the waves of water silently invaded the sandy territory.

 

The two males found a spot to take a small break for their feet to rest. They sat closely together as the water was running back and forth. There were faint sounds of laughter in the background, but the wind was almost cancelling it out with its own sound. Handa pulled out earphones and began to listen to music on his phone. The first song that played was Stay as You Are by Sandeul.

 

Out of the blue, Hiroshi took the left earpiece and placed it into the hole of his ear. Handa gave a small stare at the motion as Hiroshi nonchalantly looked away. They only sat there without communicating to the other person. They relaxed to the point of boredom before Handa gave the blond another deep glance. Hiroshi caught it by the corner of his eye and returned the stare before realizing how much danger it was putting his heart in. “I feel like I know you,” Handa said, unaware of what he was actually saying.

 

“Ha, no, you don’t ,” Hiroshi played the statement as a joke, standing up to pull out an umbrella from his luggage. “Let’s go.”

 

The two were walking away with separate umbrellas casted over them as early night was settling around them. There was a nearby amusement park that Hiroshi was planning to be the end of their adventure. Handa did not question why Hiroshi kept two umbrellas in his luggage, but he appreciated the offer to one and used it.

 

****

 

All the rides were exciting and fun-filled. The amusement park’s food were pricy but were decent enough to satisfy their stomachs.

 

Their last ride was the ferris wheel. The park attempted to play modern music to keep in touch with the youth, but it was playing a soft song for a change instead of the dance music that was overwhelming society.

 

Hiroshi was boarded on the cart first before Handa followed up. It was a little cramped, but the distance between them was always in the personal range, anyway. As the ride went up, the conclusion of they was also coming to its zenith. Hiroshi did not make a lot of meaningful conversation with Handa, but it was a wonderful day of adventure. Something to remember it at most.

 

Reaching the highest point of the ferris wheel, Handa was engrossed in the lights of the city from their distance. It was like fairy lights were swarming everywhere. It was like their youth was trying to come back to them. Wait… did Handa think about them ? It should have been his youth and not theirs.

 

“Seishuu,” Hiroshi murmured, diverting his attention to the lights that encaptured Handa.

 

“K-Kido,” Handa subconsciously spoke, not knowing the meaning, the force of knowledge it carried in its very syllables. The lodestone that was bringing them together was augmented in strength. “Wait. How did you know my first name? More worrisome, how did I know yours?”

 

Hiroshi’s left eye got cloudy but diverted his eyes to the window of their cart. It hurt. It hurt so much to know what Handa was unable to perceive. Not wanting to say anything, the ride ended in silence and unanswered questions. It was going to be a venial mistake on Hiroshi’s part.

 

****

 

Billiards were the last thing that Hiroshi wanted them to attempt to enjoy. The clanking of the hard plastic of the balls against the other spheres. It was a fun game. It was like the awkward conversation Hiroshi and Handa had was disappearing with each passing point.

 

After Hiroshi’s turn, it was Handa’s. The blond sat upon the table and analyzed how well the shot that Handa was attempting was going to come out. All of these little games were nothing far from trivial. It was the wild duck-hunt that was keeping Hiroshi interested. It was getting to the point where he was unsure if he wanted to continue without being the one shot instead. “I don’t think you can make it,” Hiro mentioned.

 

“Watch me, Hiro,” Handa retorted, missing the shot as he banged the long stick against the white ball. They laughed together as they set up the next shot for Hiroshi.

 

It went on for a decent amount of time before they tired themselves out. The billiard place was fortunately also functioning as a restaurant. They shot alone in the whole place as they did not want to order anything too excessive. They only ordered drinks of alcohol to remedy their weariness.

 

Hiroshi ordered something strong meanwhile the other male ordered something lighter. They were talking about what they were doing in their lives, the kinds of people they met, and all the good things mildly drunk people would talk about. Hiroshi and Handa ended up staring at one of the fish tanks together for no real reason behind the action. They just wanted to do it.

 

Handa and Hiroshi playfully were licking the sweet snack that were gummy bears that they got from the amusement park earlier on. They placed two separate gummies on the surface of glass of the fish tank; the one Hiroshi put was the color yellow as Handa chose one that was the color orange. They giggled foolishly before taking an unoccupied table for themselves after their game of billiards.

 

They were technically the only customers there, so any of the tables were up for their taking. Handa looked back to see the two happy sweet bears stuck closely to each other and had his heart heat up to sight. Hiroshi took a small breath to himself before ingesting a little more of his drink to loosen the bolts on his strict mind. Noticing the flailing pen in Handa’s hands, Hiro thoughtlessly grabbed it and took the thumb of the black-haired male to draw a happy smile on the back of the nail.

 

Handa immediately looked at it and deadpanned at Hiroshi. It was in the same exact design that Handa did before. However, the stranger would not have been able to replicate that specific design by chance. About to ask the dying question that was stuck in his throat, Hiroshi was the one to say something first. “ You don’t know me… I’ve pictured you before. You might be different, but I don’t worry that I might not recognize you.”

 

“What are you saying, Hiros—”

 

“We might not do anything, but it won’t feel like a wasted day.  Let time pass somehow, so we can meet. I hope I don’t miss you…  you and I never met but whenever we happen to come across each other… sometime in the future when our paths meet, let’s recognize each other,” Hiroshi broke a smile as his glassy eyes rained like it was holding back for years, “so I can know that it’s you .”

 

The yellow gummy bear fell off of the surface of the glass and into the dirtied floor. Hiroshi cried as hard as a lost pup in the rain. His sobs reached the sadness of the darkened memories that were hidden within Handa’s mind. It was freeing itself but the shackles kept coming one after another to prevent it from flying to the blue sky.

 

Handa was unable to control the tears that were coming from his eyes. He had no reason to cry, but he was finding himself bawling to Hiroshi’s words. It was reaching something that Handa was not supposed to feel for the longest time. It was pain, suffering, anxiety, sadness, isolation, loneliness, and, worst of all, love . Although, it all meant nothing to Handa. He was not aware of who Kido Hiroshi really was.

 

Overwhelmed by the sudden situation, Hiroshi left the table and the billiard place. He ran until he was out of the gates of the amusement park. Handa stayed behind and wondered what was happening to his heart and mind. It was collapsing like a tower of Legos.

 

****

 

A week after meeting Seishuu, Hiroshi was washed up and ready to go to bed. He received a notification from his phone and noticed it was from Handa Seishuu. He smiled to the lit message and clicked accept. A message immediately came afterwards from Handa.

 

Hello, Kido Hiroshi! ;)

 

It was going to be a long night ahead of Hiroshi, but he wanted to stay as he was, contented with the outcome.