Title: 歩き始めた日 (Aruki Hajimeta Hi - The day you begin to walk)
Disclaimer: Secret Box is not mine~
Warnings: BL, one itty-bitty kiss.
Author's Note: So, this is best read while listening to Aruki Hajimeta Hi, a song from Prince of Tennis. I know that's random and seemingly lame, but the song is really sweet and fitting, and if you don't know Japanese, there's a nice translation here~ The title sounds a lot less lame in Japanese... so, don't take the connotation of the translation completely seriously? XD;; Either way, the song sounded like Haru, and after my beautiful birthday celebration, I wanted to write a little something. This is dedicated to fencer_x, yomimashou, and britkit27~ ♥ I love you guys.
Today is just not Haru's day.
From the moment he woke up this morning, things have seemed off; all of Secrets were preoccupied and distant, and even Momose-san barely had a word for him to spare outside of a list of assignments when she handed him his breakfast in passing. His list of jobs seemed awfully long considering the fact that Taji was still running loops around the first floor of the house in endless energy and Ricchi had yet to emerge from his bedroom and it was Haru's birthday, but he supposed that everyone else probably had just as much work and it wouldn't be fair for him to slack, even today. The day he was born, after all, wasn't all that special; Haru himself is not any particular contribution to the world, and he certainly doesn't expect to get any special treatment. His birthday has never been cause for very much fanfare in the past, anyway, not since he was a child, but it's a fact Haru expects, not something he's ever questioned. Still, he had been hoping to ask Izumi out for coffee or lunch, but, with three dogs to walk and a cat to take to the vet in lieu of its elderly owner, it doesn't look like he'll be getting the chance today. But Haru isn't one to complain, and so he heads out for the day with little more than a sigh.
But things just don't go his way for the rest of the day, either. The first dog breaks loose of its leash and makes a grande escape through Ueno park; it takes Haru a good twenty minutes to finally catch the thing, and he's scolded by the owner when he returns late. The second dog belongs to a young woman maybe five years older than Haru who attempts to seduce him both when he picks up and drops off the dog, and then the cat, the vet informs Haru, is in need of surgery, a fact Haru is forced to relay to the horrified elderly owner. The final dog of the day, it seems, is the easiest to deal with; it only drags Haru through a few bushes and a large mud puddle, making a mess of his shoes, before he returns it to its master.
And so, by the end of the day, Haru feels more than lousy, having been scolded, touched inappropriately against his will, cried on, and dragged through puddles throughout the day, and, forget it being his birthday, all he wants to do is go home and go to bed. And it's not just that; his insides are all knotted up, because though it's been years and things are looking up and he's trying so hard to believe in himself, for Momose and Secrets' and Izumi's sake, and for his own sake, a little bit, too, but knowing he can't even take care of pets right is disheartening, makes him believe just a little bit more than he should that he really is completely useless in the long run.
It's an effort even to drag himself home, but even though his muscles are aching and his chest is tight with internal self-deprecation, he consoles himself that he's home now and can close himself up and throw himself in bed... until, upon opening the door, he's greeted with a loud yell of "Surprise!" that can only be Taji, followed by an excited gasp of "Happy birthday, Haru-san!" and then Izumi's arms are around him, soaking away all the soreness and tiredness from the day before Haru can even think to protest, and Taji and Azuma and Ricchi and Momose-san and even Narumi and Sudou-san and Tsuda-san and Kawakami-san are all there, grinning at him, and there's a cake set out on the coffee table next to a modest stack of presents, and Haru suddenly wants to cry, because all at the same time, he doesn't understand and yet it all makes sense.
Momose-san explains that she is sorry, but they had to keep him out of the house all day, and ushers him over to the cake that apparently Tsuda-san and Kawakami-san brought from a local bakery, and after Haru blows out the candles, Taji practically throws a wrapped package at him, impatient to see his gift received. And even if the presents (a candy bar from Taji, a tie from Azuma, a set of weights from Ricchi) aren't anything to write home about, and even if Haru isn't the biggest fan of cake, it's being surrounded by the people he loves and knowing that somehow, this many people came together to prepare this just for him, just for him that makes Haru a little bleary-eyed as he thanks everyone again and again for all their effort in putting this little surprise party together.
And then, much later in the evening, after the other guests have gone home and most residents of the house have retired for the night, Izumi follows Haru up to his bedroom and kisses him sweetly on the cheek before crawling into bed with him, settling curled up with his head tucked in the crook of Haru's neck and his arm resting on Haru's chest. It's so perfect that Haru doesn't want to fall asleep, wants to lay like this forever basking in the fact that maybe, just maybe, despite the fact that he walks dogs for a living, his life has come to something worthwhile after all when Izumi murmurs, voice heavy with sleep, "I hope you had a good birthday, Haru-san."
And for the first time in years, Haru is able to answer, with complete sincerity, "I did."