Extra 7: Blossoms, Windstorms, and Midnight (Tatsuki & Shin)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
There were plans to get together on a Saturday in April with people from the show to view the cherry blossoms. Unlike official gatherings where executives would be invited, this was a more casual get-together where attendees were invited over the group LINE. It would start at 11 am. People didn’t have to stay too long, and those who wanted an afterparty were free to go off on their own if they wanted to. It was pretty easy to organize as the one who worked behind the scenes to help make it happen. They split up the tasks to buy drinks, pick up snacks, and call for catering, and after 3 am, Shin took a taxi from the network to head to the park. It was his turn to relieve the first stakeout person who had dashed over after the broadcast to reserve a good spot for the viewing.
“Hey, thanks for savin’ the spot for us. I’ll take over for ya now.”
“Yay~ It’s freezing out here, so be careful, okay?”
“I’ll be fine. I brought plenty o’ stuff with me. But I wonder if it’s gonna be cold with the sun out? Maybe I shouldna bought so much beer.”
“Yeah, maybe. I know someone with an outdoor stove, so I’ll ask if we can use it. We can keep the bottled drinks at room temp, and people might want hot water or hot sake if it stays cold.”
“That’d be great.”
There was a small lake in the area with blue tarps spread out here and there, but there weren’t many spot savers around. He didn’t want someone to kick them out of their spot if there was no one to keep a lookout, but maybe it was a needless worry. But it was absurd to take another taxi in order to go back, so Shin opted to open up his laptop in the middle of the very spacious spot. There was cardboard laid down on top of the cushioning material, and it was pretty soft and comfortable to sit on. In this convenient world nowadays, it wasn’t hard to kill off time while waiting. He filled out his timesheets and expense reports that he always tended to put off, and when he sat and stretched, a surprising stillness for a park at the heart of the city crept in with the cold. The time of night did play a factor, but he was a little distance away from the street, and maybe the trees helped to dampen the sound. However, he wasn’t particularly scared with the streetlights on and the other people around, and he lay down on his laptop as a pillow.
Cherry blossoms that bloomed overhead like paper lanterns fluttered in the wind. It was past the peak of the season, and this was one of the last chances to catch the view. The blossoms were a slightly deeper color than when they first started to bloom, but it made for a more vivid ending. It was the pink of goodbyes, unique only to the cherry blossoms. They hung gently faced down like they no longer needed sunlight (maybe it was just because of the nighttime), and Shin felt like he made eye contact with the blossoms as he looked up at the trees. That bothered him more than the stillness. He wrapped his blanket around his body and closed his eyes. It was hard to say that it was comfortable, but it wasn’t a bad feeling to be in contact with the dirt of the ground as he tasted a sense of freedom and immorality as he lay on the ground with his shoes kicked off with no walls and no ceilings in sight. When a strong wind blew, the flower petals quietly rustled. If he listened carefully, he felt like he could hear the grass growing or the insects skittering. He felt like he had shrunk down so much that he could hear them. It was that quiet of a night.
He felt small enough to be covered by a single flower petal that clung to his eyelid right now.
“Hey there, fella~ What are you doing there~?”
A voice fell down with the flowers. Shin cried, “I’m sorry!” and frantically got up.
“I’m savin’ a spot for viewin’ cherry blossoms— Agh, it’s just ya!”
Shin thought that the police came to question him, but it was only Tatsuki.
“Ya scared me… Ahh, ya shoes! Dun walk on here with ’em on!”
Tatsuki kicked his sneakers off wherever and sat down next to Shin.
“Whatta ya come here for?”
“I heard that you were saving our spot here by yourself, so I thought that you might be lonely~”
“It ain’t a big deal.”
Shin wasn’t lonely, and he didn’t want Tatsuki intruding on this iffy gray zone where this was his job but he didn’t get paid for his time. It was fine if Tatsuki just slept until morning and arrived at 11 am with everyone else. There was no hierarchy in their relationship, but Shin wanted to keep their work duties separate. But if he were to say that, Tatsuki would sulk about it… While Shin stayed silent, Tatsuki spoke up.
“Nacchan, uh oh.”
“Ya must be.”
Compared to Shin, who was dressed in a down coat and covered in a blanket, Tatsuki was only wearing a slightly thick hoodie.
“Let me in the blanket.”
The other stakeout people were covered in sleeping bags and cardboard boxes and probably sleeping, but Shin didn’t want to be snuggled with Tatsuki out in the open where anyone could see them.
“Dun ‘why not’ me! And dun shout so loud! If ya gonna bother me, then go home.”
Tatsuki sulked at the harshness that he received. He stepped into his shoes without putting them on properly and left.
Crap, was I too harsh? But it’s true that it’s easier without ’im around… I should message ’im on LINE in the mornin’ an’ apologize.
His guilt intensified as he watched the drooping cherry blossoms that seemed to curl down. There were times when Shin would say some reckless things because he knew that with Tatsuki’s personality, he wouldn’t badger him to do things that he didn’t want to do. Shin sighed, and flower petals fell again. A figure of a person slowly came over.
Tatsuki had come back. He was walking awfully slowly because he was holding Nisshin Cup Noodles in each hand. The basic ones. He probably bought them at the convenience store outside of the park. Tatsuki kicked off his shoes again and handed Shin one of the piping warm cups.
“Ya givin’ me one?”
“Not for free though!”
Shin knew the price for the noodles and vacated one half of the blanket. They shared the blanket together and tore off the lids of the cup noodles. Steam and the scent of broth spread through the night.
“It’s like we’re homeless.”
“Dun say that.”
It was crazy how good the cup noodles tasted with their shoulders pressed together just before daybreak on this chilly spring night in a mostly empty park. He had eaten these noodles countless numbers of times at home and during late nights at the network, but there was a happiness in his mouth that spread throughout his body, like it was his first time tasting this flavor in his life. He thought that maybe it was similar to the first taste of food after going missing in a disaster.
A strong wind blew, and the blossoms trembled loudly in the glow of the streetlights.
Flower petals danced like they were thrown into the night sky. It was different from the ephemera associated with the phrase Cherry blossoms scatter—it was vivid and intense like the bursting of fireworks.
“…It’s beautiful,” Tatsuki murmured, warming his hands with the cup noodles. His voice was uncharacteristically quiet, like it was careful not to interrupt the cherry blossoms that tried to kick away the spring on such a cold night.
Shin replied in the same volume, “Yeah,” and leaned in closer.
The wind blew, and the flowers scattered. Shin thought to himself, Just scatter ’em all off. When the day breaks, before everybody comes, let the trees be bare with not single petal left on any o’ ’em. An’ we can go missin’, wrapped up in the flower petals.
Those were the selfish thoughts that he had in his head.
After the Storm
The tip of his nose felt itchy and ticklish, and he sneezed. At the same time, Shin woke from his dream. In an instant, he released himself from the dream and opened his eyes.
“Oh, he’s awake.”
The production staff laughed as they watched him, and above his head was the clear blue sky of the morning.
Shin remembered nothing after he ate his cup noodles. Apparently he had fallen asleep in the open air. How careless of him.
“No way…” Shin pushed away the blanket to sit up, and flower petals fluttered off of him. They had probably fallen on him when he was sleeping like a log. As he sat there unexpectedly captivated by the sight, Tatsuki woke up next to him.
“It’s freezing… Nacchan, don’t steal the blanket… Huh?”
“Oh, and now Tatsuki’s finally awake.”
“We cleaned up your ramen cups for you.”
“Oh, thanks…” Shin answered with his eyes looking down, embarrassed to be seen sleeping together. He scratched his head for no real reason, and someone showed their cell phone to him.
“Look~ It’s a nice picture, right~?”
It was a picture of Tatsuki and Shin asleep together, buried in flower petals. Shin was speechless, but next to him, Tatsuki brought his head over and laughed honestly, “It’s great~ Send it over to me too~”
“I’ve sent it to the group LINE, so get it there yourself.”
“It’s posted on the show’s Twitter too~”
“What? No, ya can’t, dun do somethin’ like that without askin’,” Shin protested without thinking.
It was a little extreme, but as long as he belonged to this industry, he essentially had no rights to the usage of his own likeness. And even though Shin knew that people were looking at Tatsuki in the picture and not really at Shin, it still bothered him.
“What? But it’s already been retweeted a lot. It’s impossible~”
“Anyway, didn’t you already show up in a two-shot with Tatsuki on TV~?”
“This is differ’n from gettin’ shown on live TV!”
“Hey, I’m hungry. Did you bring something to eat?” Tatsuki slapped an arm around Shin’s shoulder. The rough gesture and his easygoing voice essentially told Shin to calm down.
Thankfully the mood didn’t get awkward, and no one mentioned the photo again. They made their preparations for everyone’s arrival, watched the remaining cherry blossoms as they ate and drank, and in the late afternoon, they finally disbanded. Shin brought the leftovers and trash bags with him in the taxi and sorted everything at the network. It was already night by the time that he was done, and he found a LINE from Tatsuki that said, I’ll wait for you at my apartment. Shin abandoned his plans to crash into his bed at home and headed over to Tatsuki’s apartment.
“Didna people say they were gonna drink somewhere?”
“I have to wake up tomorrow at 5 for a shoot, so I thought that I’d play it safe.”
Tatsuki didn’t get much sleep last night either, so it was a pretty sensible and mature decision for him.
“Okay, good night then.”
Shin tried to drive Tatsuki off the sofa and over to the bed, but Tatsuki stayed where he was.
“They were worried about the photo.”
“They thought that you were angry. And so they deleted it from the group LINE.”
“Angry…? I just didna like it.”
“That you were in a picture with me?”
“It ain’t that… Well, maybe it might be?”
Shin felt bad that he reacted so openly.
“I ain’t like ya. I dun like people lookin’ at me. Uh, but, it ain’t like people are lookin’ at me in the picture though.”
“You worry too much. You had all your clothes on.”
“Of course, I did!”
“I already made it my wallpaper on my phone. Look~”
He said such frightful words without batting an eyelid.
“Ya dumb nut! Dun do that!”
“Why not? It’s not like I let people touch my phone. And even if people see it, I’ll just say that it’s a good picture, and that’s that.”
“No, ya can’t, change it right now.”
“I’ve been thinking, you’re always mad when you’re around me, Nacchan.”
When that observation was pointed out to him, Shin was taken aback. “I’m sorry,” he apologized, hanging his head.
“I ain’t as brave as ya, Minagawa. I can’t look at myself objectively, I guess… I’m tryin’ to act normal here, but I feel like I’ll leak things out without meanin’ to, an’ it scares me.”
“You’ll leak things out? Like what?”
“Like… ya already know what!”
Rather than things, it was just the one thing.
“Whaa? But I’m a dumb nut, so I don’t really know~ Tell me~”
Tatsuki drew closer, giving a smile that clearly said that he knew, and Shin tugged Tatsuki’s ear.
“Nacchan, does being with me scare you and tire you out?”
Shin squeezed his eyes shut, twisted his body, and threw himself to hug Tatsuki tight.
“I’d hate it more if ya ain’t with me… ‘Cause I love ya.”
Tatsuki gave a satisfied nod and hugged Shin back.
Ahhh, an’ now we’re finally alone.
Before Shin fell asleep in bed, he looked at the timeline for the show’s official Twitter account.
“We’re viewing cherry blossoms today! Announcer Minagawa and a staff member went to save our spot for us and fell asleep…”
It was still embarrassing; that hadn’t changed, but Tatsuki was right—it was a good picture. Tatsuki and Shin were asleep unbothered by the morning sun, nestled under a large amount of flower petals. It was the dying remains of spring—the petals had lost all of its color already, all that was left was to dry up and decay, but they were beautiful. If he were to think of viewing cherry blossoms in the future, rather than the brightly blooming flowers, he would probably remember the flowers that had blown off in the night and piled down on them. It made him happy to think that the same memory resided in Tatsuki’s irises as well.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.