There were many things about humans that Haru found strange - things that he did not understand. Since he came to Earth, however, he had learned about many of these things. He had learned about thank yous and sorrys, about loving someone but not always showing it, about dying and the importance of life, about being scared but trying hard to face your fears. These were the things he had learned by the guidance of Yuki's grandmother, Kate, but there were many things about humans that Haru still did not understand - things that Kate could not teach him. Haru came across one of these things while watching the magic television box in Yuki's living room.
It was late in the evening, and the moon was high in the night sky. Kate had been watching something on the television, but decided to turn it off and check on the garden one last time before heading to bed. Yuki was upstairs in his room, probably doing homework, and Yuki had told Haru not to bother him while he was doing homework, so Haru decided to amuse himself with the television instead. He took the remote, pressed the power button, and a scene sparked onto the glass that had Haru mesmerized.
"Hey, Ruka, I really like you," a boy said to the girl walking next to him. They were on a dirt path dotted with the sunlight slipping through blooming cherry blossoms, a gentle breeze blowing the pink leaves to and fro.
The girl giggled. "Oh really? I like you too, Kaoru." She was in a lovely yellow sundress, and him in a white dress shirt and black slacks. He stopped walking, and the girl turned around in puzzlement. "Kaoru?"
He took a step closer to her, and leaned his face closer to hers, and suddenly their lips touched.
Haru's eyes widened and he made a small noise in surprise and wonder.
The girl stared at the boy with wide eyes. "Why, Kaoru, what was that?"
"A kiss," he said with a smile. "That's what you do when you like someone, right?"
She smiled, blushed, and giggled. "I guess you're right." Then they continued happily walking off into the sunset.
Haru thought that what he had just witnessed was the most magical thing the television had ever shown him.
The next day, and Yuki was walking down for breakfast, just as he did every morning. He had gotten a good night's sleep last night after getting Haru to leave him alone by telling him he was doing homework. Sure, he felt a bit guilty for lying, but rest was rest - and with Haru around, he needed a lot of it.
"'Morning, Grandma," he greeted his grandmother as he entered the kitchen, just out of habit. Kate, however, was not present.
"Good morning, Yuki!" Haru called with a cheery wave.
"Oh, good morning, Haru-"
This morning had seemed all normal. Just like every other morning. But as soon as he had entered the kitchen, Haru had walked closer and closer to Yuki, and just as Yuki was returning his greeting, the blonde had stood up on his toes and- and-
Yuki couldn't speak. He couldn't move. He couldn't even complete his train of thought. He only had enough energy to push Haru away from him and break the alien's lips away from his own.
"Yuki?" Haru asked innocently. Yuki could barely hear him. He felt the water bubbling up around his ears, clouding his eyes, clogging his nose. He was in over his head, and he knew he was going to make that horrible face again, that wretched face, but he couldn't help it. How else was he supposed to react to such a thing as a- as a-
"Aaaaaah!" Yuki shook himself out of his panic just enough to scream.
"Aaaaaah!" Haru echoed, smiling.
"AAAAAA-" Yuki threw a hand over Haru's mouth, a mixture of annoyance, anger, and leftover panic on his face. Did he think this was a game?
"Haru!" Yuki hissed, removing his hand from the other's mouth.
"Yes, Yuki?" Haru sang, still all smiles.
"Why did you do that?"
Yuki gritted his teeth. Why the innocent act? "You know what! Why did you- W-why, did you- K-k-k-ki-ki-"
"Kiss?" Haru offered, tapping his lips.
"Yes!" Yuki felt the water rising again, but he choked it down. "Why did you... Do that, to me?"
"Because I like you!"
That was it. Yuki couldn't take it anymore. His face turned beat-red and ghoulish, and no amount of Haru's "Yuki, stop that!" or "Bad face!" babbling could get him out of it.
Yuki and Haru made their way to the beach in silence. They were set to meet Natsuki - and probably that strange Indian man - there before noon, so Yuki had made sure to prepare his gear early on. Now, however, he wished he hadn't - he would love to be busy fiddling with a rod or a reel as they walked, if only to break the uncomfortable awkwardness hanging in the air.
Beside him, Haru had a slight skip in his step and was whistling. Maybe Yuki was the only one feeling awkward, after all.
He had decided not to bring up the events that unfolded earlier that morning. He hadn't even wanted to talk about it, especially after his grandmother had come back in from the garden. They sat down, ate breakfast, and were out the door before Kate could ask any questions about the screaming she probably heard coming from the kitchen. Maybe if Yuki just avoided it, the whole thing would pass and eventually be erased from memory, like waking up from a bad dream.
"Prince!" Haru called out as they reached the shore. "Akira! Tapioca!"
"Good morning, guys," Natsuki greeted. Yuki returned his welcome with a nod and sat his gear down in the sand. Natsuki tilted his head a bit to one side. "Hey, Yuki, you okay?"
"Hmm? Uh, y-yes!" Yuki answered, not wanting to seem suspicious, but failing miserably.
Natsuki didn't buy it. "You sure?"
"Yup! I'm great!" As if to prove his words, Yuki swung his rod over his shoulder with vigor, only to have the line release and go flying.
"Whoa!" Natsuki yelled, dodging the hook as it flew past him. Haru giggled and twirled out of the line's path; Natsuki called a "watch out!" to Akira, standing a few feet away from them, but wasn't quite in time.
The hook snagged onto Akira's turban and he glanced up, as if he had felt a leaf falling onto his head. He then noticed the line attached to him and moved to release the hook.
Yuki laughed nervously and looked away from Akira's gaze. "S-sorry, Akira!" Natsuki just shook his head and Haru continued his blissful laughter.
"Come on, Yuki!" Haru giggled, "Akira's not a fish!"
"Really, Yuki," Natsuki spoke to him in a lower voice as he helped reel in the line, "are you sure you're alright today?"
Yuki sighed in response. "Let's just fish, okay?"
Natsuki stared at him a moment longer. "Alright, then," he said finally, tuning away to his tackle box.
A few minutes later, and all the boys were focused on getting the first catch of the day - their usual contest. It was rather silent, save for the twitch of the line through the water and Haru's consistent humming of random tunes. Yuki thanked the heavens that no more uncomfortable questions were being thrown his way; he didn't know how many more he could take before he panicked enough to really hook someone.
Suddenly, Natsuki, who was standing right beside Yuki, made a noise; Yuki looked up to see the prince's rod taking a fierce dip into the water.
"I got one!" Natsuki called, and held fast onto his fishing pole. He waited patiently for the line to slacken, then reeled in with all his might. In no time, he had brought the first bass of the day onto the sandy shore.
The boys gathered around their first catch, beaming. "Great job, Natsuki!" Yuki said, wearing an expression of pure joy on his face. Here, he was truly having fun. He could forget all about his troubles with a certain blonde-haired alien.
"Yay, yay, Prince!" Haru cheered, bouncing over to Natsuki. He got close enough to stand toe-to-toe with the contest victor, bent down to be on the same level as Natsuki's kneeling stance, moved his face closer to Natsuki's, and then-
Yuki felt all the pleasant air he had inhaled over the past few minutes being squeezed out of him like air deflated out of a balloon.
By the time he yelled, Natsuki had already pushed Haru away and was staring at him in horror. Yuki could do nothing more than mimic his stare for a few seconds as Haru bounced over to Akira's duck, Tapioca, scooped him up, and gave him a peck on his beak. Akira stepped far back when Haru sat the duck down, and Tapioca spun a bit on his feet as if he were swooning.
Yuki wasted no time with awkward explanations; the panic in him was rising again, and he would not allow himself or Haru to stick around to see what kind of reaction Natsuki would produce. Faster than lightning, he grabbed a tight hold on Haru's arm with one hand, scooped up his gear with the other, and dashed up the concrete stairs leading out of the beach as if his life depended on it.
"You saw it on television?" Yuki said in astonishment. Haru nodded enthusiastically. "Haru! You can't just copy everything you see on TV!"
"Why not?" Haru pouted. "It said that when you like someone, you kiss! I like Yuki!"
"That's not the kind of 'like' they were referring to!" Yuki shouted, completely exasperated. He rested his elbows on his knees and put his head in his hands.
Haru swung his legs back and forth over the side of the bed, pouting. After they had run away from Natsuki and Akira, for whatever strange reason, Yuki had dragged him up to the bedroom and insisted on an explanation of his behavior - specifically, why he had kissed him and Natsuki. He didn't understand why Yuki was getting so upset. The girl on TV had looked really happy when the boy kissed her - why wasn't Yuki happy when Haru kissed him, too? It should work the same way, right? If Haru liked Yuki and Yuki liked Haru-
Haru's head suddenly shoot up, his eyes wide. The sudden movement captured Yuki's attention, and he glanced over at the blonde.
Haru began to cry.
"Hey!" Yuki shouted in surprise, staring at Haru in concern and bewilderment. "Haru! What's wrong?"
"Yuki doesn't like me!" Haru whined through sobs.
Yuki grabbed Haru's shoulder and shook him gently. "Haru, that's not what I meant. I like you."
Haru looked up at him in earnest. "Really?"
Haru was relieved; Yuki still liked him. But, now he was very confused. "Then why didn't you like my kiss?"
Yuki sighed. "Because that's not the same kind of 'like'."
"Huh? " Haru scrunched up his eyebrows. Yuki wasn't making any sense. "Why?"
"How can I explain this..." Yuki trailed off, glancing away a bit uncomfortably. "The kind of like where you k-kiss someone, is a really strong like, okay?"
"I like Yuki a lot!" Haru protested.
"No, Haru!" Yuki cried in exasperation. "It's when you like a very special person. Someone more than a friend."
Haru tilted his head, confused, but interested. "More than a friend?" He tried to think of any examples of such relationships between the humans he knew. He thought of Yuki and Kate, or Natsuki and Tamocchan. "Ah! Like a family?"
"Sort of," Yuki replied. "But it's kind of different. You can only like one person this way, and they aren't your family or just your friend..."
Yuki trailed off again. He really didn't know where he was going with this. How do you explain love to an alien?
The expression on Haru's face was surprisingly thoughtful. He was really trying to figure all these human things out - he liked it here, and he wanted to stay with his friends, and he knew that to do that, he needed to understand at least some things about them. But it was so hard sometimes, and there were so many new things...
Haru groaned and held his head as if in pain. "It's too hard, Yuki. I don't get it."
Yuki couldn't help but smile at him. Despite all the trouble Haru causes sometimes, Yuki had to remember that he was an alien, and it was probably very hard to get adjusted to so many changes. "It's okay; you don't have to understand it. Just promise me you won't kiss people like that anymore, okay?"
Haru looked up at Yuki and beamed a smile at him. "Okay; it's a promise."
"And you can't break a promise, right?"
"No , no, no!"
While staying on Earth, one of the most important things Haru learned was to be a man of his word, and to never break a promise, especially to friends. Haru had honored his promise to Yuki to never use his water gun again, and for the past few days, he had honored his promise to never kiss anyone again. Yuki had gone and explained the situation to Natsuki, and everything was all right again.
But one day, late in the evening, while Yuki was doing his homework, Haru picked up the remote again.
"No; stop," the girl said, halting the advance of his lips with the tip of her finger.
The boy looked at her, puzzled. "What's wrong?"
"I don't think I'm ready for this kind of relationship yet," she said, with a bit of a smile. "Right now, we're just friends."
Then she leaned forward and softly pressed her lips against his cheek.
The next day, Yuki woke up to find Haru standing in his bedroom.
"Good morning, Yuki!"
Yuki gave him a puzzled expression. "Good morni- HARU!"
"That's the way friends kiss!" Haru defended as he pulled away from Yuki's cheek. "The television said so~!"
"What did I tell you about copying TV?" Yuki yelled, scrambling out of bed as quickly as he could. "What about your promise?"
"You said to promise never to kiss anyone on the lips again~!"
"But I like you, Yuki!" Haru mimicked a whine through his giggles. "I like you~!"