AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written specifically for Valentine's Day, but I like submitting stuff earlier than usual.
I reiterate: post-anime. Read at your own risk.
I own Hana and the random people – not Saya, and not Haji.
Hana Rosemary's hopeful smile folded into a frown as she stared down at all the flowers gracing her with their presence. She sighed; business was slow that day – a little too slow, and she almost considered closing the stall several hours ahead of schedule.
Turning away, she reached out to turn on an ancient radio.
"So far, there have been…no reports…of…"
Biting her lip to keep from swearing, she fiddled with the knobs and buttons. But all her attempts were futile; she got nothing but slurred snippets of mediocre songs and droning updates before the contraption completely gave up. Hana stared at it, as though she would be able to fix it with thoughts alone, or at least, thinking of whether to even have it repaired or just thrown out…
Whipping around so eagerly that she almost toppled off her stool, she faced her first customer of the day, and said in a voice higher than usual, "May I help you?"
Her customer was a man, with long black hair pulled back into a handsomely messy ponytail. He gazed at her with deep blue eyes that seemed to elegantly hide a secret motive as he adjusted a large case slung over his back. Hana realized how long she had been gaping at his gentle face and his slender physique, and had to stand up and say as formally as she could, "Would you like to buy some flowers, sir?"
But upon saying this, her heart sank slightly. After all, why else would a man stop by her stall…unless they wanted, say, directions?
"Yes," he answered softly, already examining the fine specimens before him.
"Well then, sir, you've come to the right place! Perhaps you have something in mind?"
The man said nothing, but focused on a display of roses, picking out some so skillfully that he barely pricked himself, and just as carefully returned them. Just as Hana opened her mouth to break the silence, he held up a single pink rose, which she took and scrutinized.
"Sure you don't want a whole bouquet…or two?"
"No, thank you."
"What about a card? Or maybe…"
"This will do," he replied, and began digging in his trousers pockets. As he went through them a second and a third time, Hana could somehow sense that he had no money.
She cleared her throat, and he stopped to look at her.
"Hey…I'm just curious. What's in your case?"
"This?" he asked, jerking a thumb at his black burden. "My cello."
"You play?" Hana realized just how stupid this question was.
Leaning towards him as though sharing a secret, she said with a smile, "Tell you what – play me a song, any song, and the rose is yours for free. It might even give me some business. Do we have a deal?" Hana winked.
He shifted a bit, but it didn't take long for him to nod and say, "All right."
"By the way…I never did catch your name," said the flower seller, offering him a stool.
"It's Haji," he answered, sitting down and setting up his cello.
"Then play on, Haji! I'm not that picky, I'll listen to anything."
For a moment, she thought she saw one of the faintest smiles cross his face, but was instantly lost in the tune he had chosen to perform. At first, it was a soothing adagio, a melody that made Hana think of clear, cloudless skies and rolling green hills. But before she knew it, the tempo changed. It became louder and faster, and she found herself swaying along to the music. People began stopping at the stall to listen and watch Haji's fingers expertly maneuver the bow and manipulate the strings, and yet, despite all the attention, he remained oblivious to it all, as though the world was nothing but himself and his cello.
When he was done, he simply stood up and bowed before his gathered audience, who applauded and cheered before looking at Hana's flowers. On the other hand, some people continued watching Haji as he began to pack up.
A young blonde twisted the hem of her blouse and stepped forward, nudged by her friends. She asked hesitantly, "If it's not too much trouble, could you…well, you know…"
"I think they want you to play another piece, is that right?" Hana remarked casually, passing him his payment. The bevy of girls all nodded in agreement.
What they got was another fleeting, flattered smile that was instantly replaced by something more stoic.
"I'm afraid I must be going," said Haji, hefting his case. "There is someone I must see…"
"Then have a nice trip," said Hana. "Are you also going to play for whoever will be getting that rose?"
But he was gone in the blink of an eye.
The last of the dulcet notes faded into the warm air, and Haji stood up, taking one last look at his audience of one. He began untying his hair, and whispered a few words.
And then he was gone, a pink rose with a dark blue ribbon tied to its stem the only evidence of his sojourn.