Joe was sure he’d heard the door bell chime a second ago. Looking through the window from the kitchen to the restaurant seating area. He couldn’t see anyone. How strange.
“Hello?” It was barely audible, but it was captured by his ears.
Looking again and still no one. Feeling he better go investigate, he set the knife down on the chopping board and walked through the duel swinging door, and around the counter.
There he stood. A tiny pink haired child dressed in traditional Japanese clothing all alone. Where was his parents? The small boys hands nervously grabbing at his long sleeves, eyes looking around Sia la Luce, like he was looking for something.
Strolling upto the boy and kneeling down in front of him, to come across less intimidating he smiled. “You lost kid? Where’s your mum?”
Slate grey eyes locked with his auburn ones. “I don’t have a mum” The cold remark came from the small child’s lips.
“Ok.. Where’s your dad then?”
“I don’t know. I came to find him, but I think I got lost. I’m sure he said he comes here a lot, but I don’t see him” The small boy seemed unsure of what to do with himself. His father had told him not to talk to strangers.
“Would you like me to help you find him?” Joe held a hand out to the boy. He’d been told many times that he was great with kids. They seems to flock to him no matter where he went. He must radiate a very fatherly vibe about him.
“Please” The young boy reached out and took his hand, only to be pulled into a large strong embrace and lifted into the air as Joe stood to his feet.
The boy weighed nothing, as light as a feather as he sat in Joe arms, tiny hands against his wide muscled chest. “You have a name kid?” Joe asked.
“Hikaoru.. my name is Hikaoru” Joe looked at the small child and smiled. ‘Hi...Kaoru’ he thought to himself. Something about this small child did slightly remind him of his best friend. His name, his style of dress and even the shade of his hair. If he didn’t know Kaoru was gay, he would think he’d had a secret love child that he never told him about.
Suddenly brought back to planet earth by a little hand coming full force onto his cheek. “Are you listening? It’s rude to ignore people” the boy scolded him. So much like Kaoru it was shocking.
“Slapping strangers is rude also you know kid.. What’s your dad been teaching you.”
Setting Hikaoru lightly down onto the counter top, he reached around into his back pocket and pulled out his phone. Unlocking the screen he turned towards the boy and asked. “Should we call your dad?”.
“I don’t know his number” The small child explained, completely unbothered by the situation he was now in. Clearly quite comfortable talking to the larger man.
How was he supposed to reunite them now?
Would he get arrested for kidnapping?
Should he be worried?
Sighing, he pulled out one of the stools at the bar and propped himself up onto it, right leg on the floor and left resting on the foot rest. So he was on the same eye level with the child.
“You gotta work with kid. How am I going to help you otherwise. Can you tell me anything about your dad?”
“We live around the corner” The boy pointed towards the front door. “Dads not home though, he’s at work”.
Glancing over at his clock, he had twenty minutes until he closed for his lunch break. The kid was lucky that Sia la Luce was having a stupidly quiet day. “Give me twenty minutes kid and I will walk you home, you can’t stay here without your parents permission.”
Standing up he lifted the boy and placed him on the stool he’d just left. Picking both the stool and the boy up he tucked them under the counter. “Stay here, don’t move and I will bring you a juice” Making his way into the back to the kitchen to clear things up and pour the pink haired child a fruit juice, every so often peeking out of the restaurant window to see he was still ok.
With the kitchen cleaned, he added a clear silly straw to the glass and walked back to the boy. Handing the glass to Hikaoru he said. “Try not to spill it”. The boy looked amazingly pleased as the red liquid spun up and down the many loops of his straw as he drank. Joe looked lovingly at the child and how something so meaningless as a silly straw could be so amusing.
A loud thump brought his attention over to the door. It had been swung open with a great deal of force. Taking a step forward preparing to deal with some rowdy thugs but was shocked to see an older pink haired man striding through the door.
“Kojiro, have you seen a small....” the panic in his best friend voice was unpleasant and unusual. Worry spread across his normally stoic and graceful face, as he stopped, eyes focused on the small boy at the counter.
The boy turning on the bar stool to look at what had caused so much commotion. “Daddy!” Outstretching his arms towards Kaoru.
“DADDY!” A shocked Joe yelled.. ‘What the fuck Kaoru’ he thought.
Yanking the small boy into his arms, holding his head to his heavily pounding heart. “Hikaoru, You had me so worried. Nanny said you just left the house. You can’t go wandering off like that, it’s dangerous, I could of lost you.”
His mind not able to truly comprehend what was happening in front of him Joe just blurted out. “Since when did you knock up a woman?”. Not a sentence he would of ever of thought he would be asking Kaoru of all people. “You have a secret love child and didn’t tell me?” Now he was just plain offended!
“Kojiro watch your language! There a child present.” Kaoru exasperated. Covering the young youths ears.
“Why didn’t you tell me you had a kid? What’s he like 4... 5 years old? You have had plenty of time to tell me!” Kojiro genuinely upset that he’s had such a secret kept from him. He would of been a great uncle.
“I did text you when I collected him” Kaoru set the boy back on the stool as he was making grabby hands towards his fruit juice.
“Collected? He’s not a puppy!” Joe argued.
“When i adopted him, I did tell you! It was your choice not to listen” Joe briefly remembered getting the most random text from Kaoru saying ‘I have a son now’ he just figured he was drunk or got a pet fish or something.. not adopted a child!
The two elder men stood bickering back and two about long lasting friendships now being ruined, overreactions and fatherhood. When a little voice interrupted them.
“Are you daddy’s boyfriend now?” Kaoru lost for words at what had just come from his sons mouth and Joe in a fit of laughter.
“Your cute kid.. but no I’m not, why you ask? Laughing so hard tears formed in his eyes.
“Daddy called you Kojiro”
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out” Joe joked, winking at the small boy.
“Daddy said he loves a man called Kojiro and wants to be his....” Cutting the boy short Kaoru’s hand covered his mouth.
“I said no such thing Hikaoru” Giving the boy a stern look to say shut up!
Pulling the hand from his face. “You shouldn’t lie Daddy.” Wanting to hear what the boy had to say, Joe picked him up as he did earlier and turned his back to his friend, so Kaoru couldn’t intervene.
“Can you tell uncle Kojiro what Daddy said?” A devilish smirk crept on his face as to looked over his shoulder to Kaoru. Who was now radiating pure anger.
“It was late one night. I should of been in bed, but I heard a noise and I was scared. I went into Daddy’s room but he was crying.” The boy stopped for a second, as if he was asking for permission to continue.
“Why was Daddy crying?”
“Daddy said he was sad and lonely. But now that I was here he was better. He said that he loved a man called Kojiro, but Kojiro had a girlfriend and didn’t love him back. But I told Daddy that I loved him lots.... this much” The boy stretch his arms as far open as they would go to express his love for his father.
“If you are Kojiro, Why did you make my Daddy cry?” The cutest little angry frown was now being given to him.
Joe really not knowing how to respond to the boy, turned to Kaoru for help, but found the man desperately looking at his feet, head held in shame. Moving before he realised, young boy in one arm and slowly capturing Kaoru with his other, he pressed his lips into a soft pink hair.
“Oh Kaoru. Why didn’t you say anything?” The three of them huddled together.
To say he’d been pining over his childhood friend for years was an understatement. Originally having no plans to tell him, but since it was now out in the open he had no reason to lie. “You weren’t mine to have”.
“You fool! I’ve been yours since kindergarten” Sliding his finger under Kaoru’s chin and tilting his head up, he leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips.
“Daddy’s all red” The young boy laughed as the two men kissed.
Parting from Kaoru, Joe spoke. “I changed my answer to your question Hikaoru. Yes, I’m your Daddy’s boyfriend, if he will have me”.
“Of course I will, you idiot” Pulling Kojiro down into a hard kiss.
“Gross” The boy said trying to pull them apart and failing.
Joe later that year applied to adopt Hikaoru and was successfully granted it.
Now they could live, happy together as a family forever.