The door swung open, a woman dressed in red standing in the doorway. She smiled at her guest kindly. "Hello, Hanako! You're early."
The girl bowed. "I know, Miss Arlene; I hope that's not a problem!"
"Not at all, not at all!" Arlene said. "Come in, dear. Sparky's in his room-"
Both looked over in the house to find a young boy with wild orange hair come running towards them, a big smile on his face. He stopped when he reached them and took a minute to catch his breath.
"Hey, Sparky," Hanako said with a bit of a shy smile. "Ready to go? I have a couple of things to pick up back at my place, then we can be on our way!"
"Yep!" the boy said with a grin, looking up at Arlene and giving her a hug. The woman smiled. "Daen't be out too late. And be back fer supper. Hanako, yoo're welcome tae join us."
The girl bowed once more. "Thank you, Miss Arlene!" She took Sparky's hand and they waved, walking down the steps of the large house and heading down the street.
"Where are we going, again?" Sparky inquired as they walked hand-in-hand.
"It's a surprise!" the girl giggled.
After a few more minutes of walking, and taking a Door ride to Hanako's country, the two reached a rather decrepid-looking old school building. Faded police tape lay on the ground in front of the steps.
"This'll only take a minute," the girl said to her companion. "Just have to pick up a few things."
They walked up the steps and entered the building, which surprisingly, was not dark and rotted on the inside. There were even a few candles scattered about for light.
A man in a red cloak slunk out of one of the rooms, humming to himself. He stopped, however, when he saw the children. "Ah, hello, Hanako... and friend," he greeted.
Hanako bowed, though it seemed her heart wasn't in it. "Hello, Aka. Sulking about again?"
The man sighed. "I haven't seen any sort of fine lady in hours; ohhh the humanity~"
"Fine lady?" Sparky voiced.
"You know..." He made an hourglass gesture with his hands.
The boy still looked confused.
"You know, like your moth-"
"Aka!" Hanako snapped, grabbing her friend's hand. "Need I remind you his parents could cut you to shreds?"
"That would make it all the more exciting," the man replied with a sneer.
The girl rolled her eyes and the two walked past him.
"Where is everyone?" Sparky asked as they walked.
"It's just me, Aka, and Kashima these days," Hanako replied. "Nure went to live with Jack, and Kuchisake did the same with Boogeyman." She smiled sadly. "I miss those two."
"You could always visit!"
"I do, occasionally, but it's not the same," she said, pushing open the door to the girl's restroom.
When one enters a run-down restroom, they would typically think it would smell and have all sorts of moss and bacteria resting about. This one, however, had neither. Yes, most of the stalls were run down, but some had things like supplies, and the one at the end had drawings and such on the walls of it. Hanako walked into the supplies stall and rummaged around in a bag.
"Oh, where is that... ah!" She turned around and was holding a cloth bag full of unknown things. "Ready to go?"
"What's in that?" her friend asked, pointing to aforementioned bag.
"It's another surprise!" She took his hand once more and they left the building.
Walking down the streets of the abandoned town, the two looked about at the homes and such. They passed Nure Onna and her family's house, and the two waved to one of her children, Tadashi, who sat in the yard reading a book.
"How much longer, if I can ask?" Sparky asked meekly.
"Not too much longer, I promise," Hanako said with a smile.
They walked along back roads, avoiding the main city as much as they could. Eventually, they reached what seemed like the entrance to a cave.
"Be careful here," Hanako said, taking her friend's hand tightly. "Your senses might get kind of clogged here. I'll guide you!"
Even though his face was flushed pink, the boy managed to nod. "O-okay."
After a few steps, she stopped, rumbling around in her bag and pulling out a pair of earplugs. "Put these in!"
"So you can't hear the surprise by accident, silly! And breathe through your mouth, too, so you can't smell it!"
"But I won't be able to tell where anything is!"
"That's why I'm going to guide you. You trust me, right?"
"O-of course I do!" He took the earbuds and put them in, then began breathing through his mouth. "WHERE ARE YOU?"
"Shhh! I'm right here!" Hanako took his hand and they began walking again.
"SORRY, I CAN'T HEAR WITH THESE IN MY EARS!"
"It's okay," she laughed. "Just be careful; there are bats!"
Walking close to one another, the two traversed through the cave halls, Hanako helping Sparky with any steps or steep ledges.
Not after too long, she stopped, and Sparky bumped into her. "Sorry!" he squeaked.
"We're here," she breathed.
"Oh, take those out, silly!" she reached out and took the plugs out of her companion's ears. "Breathe with your nose now!"
"I don't understa..." The boy drifted off, taking in a big whiff of air. It smelled... relaxing, if that could be a scent, and refreshing! His ears tuned in to hear the sound of water rushing and echoing against the cave walls.
"Where are we?" he asked quietly, still taking it in.
"An underground waterfall! I found it one day and immediately thought you'd like it!" She rummaged in her bag once more to pull out two cans of soda, handing one to her friend. "Originally we were going to go on a picnic on a cliff, but I remembered you couldn't see it. I figured that you could enjoy this place more."
The boy's blindfold began to grow moist. "That's... that's so nice of you!"
"Think nothing of it." She gave him a hug and they walked around to a smooth place where they could sit with their drinks. "I'm just glad you could come out with me!" she exclaimed as she opened her soda.
Sparky did the same and sipped it tenatively. "Me too... thank you, this is so, so nice of you to do! Is there anything in the world I could do for you in return?"
Hanako thought for a moment, then let out a giggle and pointed to her cheek.
The boy looked confused.
"A kiss on the cheek, silly!"
Sparky's face immediately turned a bright shade of red. "Ummm..."
"Don't be scared," Hanako laughed.
"I'm not, I just feel... funny," he squeaked, squirming.
"That means you want to kiss me!"
"How do you know?"
"I just do! Now, kiss me!" She pointed to her cheek with another laugh.
The boy squeaked and curled into a ball with a sniffle.
Hanako ceased her laughing and scooted closer to him. "I'm sorry, Sparky! I didn't mean to upset you!"
He straightened up and looked at her with a quivering lip. Before the girl could react, he practically fell on her and they locked lips.
They detached and he went back to his curled up state, his face an even more brilliant shade of crimson.
Hanako blinked a few times.
"Tha-that wasn't my cheek."
Her look softened and she leaned against her friend with a small sigh, making him squeak.
"You're a sweetie, Sparky," she said, fiddling with his hair.
He let out a noise that sounded something like, "Nehhh..."
"It's a good thing you're all mine!" she giggled, hugging him tight. "Nobody else can have the sweetness!"
He looked up. "B-but what about... what about my mommy and dad-"
"No! Only I get the sweetness!"
"But my mo-"
They looked at each other for only a moment before both of them erupted into giggles.
The two children fell onto their backs, glancing up at the cave ceiling.
"You're really nice, Hanako," Sparky said, smiling shyly.
"You're nice, too, Sparky," the girl said, and they held hands, staring up at the cave until they fell asleep.