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  The car glides silently through the thin lanes of Ota, neither brother looks at the other, preferring to stare out their respective windows.
  Reo's ankle rests on his other knee, his fingers tapping idly against his leg. One is used to silence, the other uncomfortable with it until it finally breaks.
  
“You look like shit. You treated her like shit. You made me look like shit. Do you even give a shit?”
  
Were he not stuck alone in this car with his half-brother, Lan would have laughed straight in his face at how utterly planned that last statement was. Reo did love forming his sentences before blurting them out, and Japanese was great for repetition.
  
But no, Lan simply stares out the window at the houses counting by until it opens into a proper road. The supermarket was first. The two receive their share of stares as they get out of a chauffeured car. Both of them hook a basket on their arm, and both go down the same aisles.
  
“It's been a year, and I don't know what you eat. I'm assuming it's all instant.” Reo hisses, “No, it's been more than that, two months more.” He plucks condiments off the shelf, regular staples that will last another month.
  
Lan pauses as he picks up a package of udon, looking at the back before placing it in his basket.
  
“Are you seeing anyone these days?” he asks.
  
Reo stops in his tracks as Lan continues, picking items off into his basket. Is he fucking with me? He thinks, I wouldn't put it past him. “No,” Reo replies, catching up to Lan. “No, I'm not seeing anyone. I'm far too busy to..”
  
“Do you think.. you.. hm.” Lan stops and scratches the side of his neck for a moment. “Is it imposing on someone if you're.. broken? Like.. don't you owe it to the person to get yourself together before dating someone else?” He turns to Reo and looks at him, who has a look of unsure disgust in return.
  
“Okay, I'll bite. Are you serious? Is this a joke? It's a piss poor joke if you're trying to fuck with me,” he responds.
  
“No, it just occurred to me with Saya, she seemed to have her shit together, yeah? I mean you do too, so I wondered if that was a.. prerequisite for a relationship.”
  
Despite himself, Reo ends up picking out Lan's preferred vegetables, while Lan himself busies with the meat and seafood. He holds a bunch of carrots in his hand as he looks at his brother for a moment.
  
“No, I don't.. think it's realistic to expect anyone to be 'sorted out' before they enter a relationship. Fuck, maybe that's why Japan has a negative birth rate.”
  
Lan barks out a laugh at that, a deep, staccato noise which Reo has rarely heard in the past few years. So he is capable of it, still. His face didn't show it, but Reo was rather proud of himself for that, at least.
  
“Are you done? I think this is enough for the month. It's a decent variety, simple, but enough.” Reo counted in both their baskets, vegetables, noodles, instant, tea, meat, fish, bread. Not a great amount, but enough. “Come on. I want to get out of Tokyo before nine tonight.”
  
Lan follows Reo up to the cashier, but not before Reo grabs a bottle of multivitamins. No fruit. Scurvy. Potassium. He does bruise like a banana, he thinks, if only he'd eat a fucking banana.

  Gregg stops for a moment as a large car passes in front of him. He thumbs along his phone's contacts until he gets to Saya, hovering over the options of call, text, or info. What he had to say wasn't exactly text-worthy, nor was it really something he could talk about over the phone.
  
He presses the call button and starts walking again, even though he's in Ota, only a few blocks from her apartment. She picks up cheerfully, it sounds like she's doing dishes.
  
“Hey, babe, I'm walking to your place now, do you wanna get dinner tonight? Actually let me rephrase that, let's go get dinner tonight 'cos I'm two blocks away.”
  
He chuckles as she laughs into the phone, saying she'll meet him outside as he hangs up the call.

  Now what the hell am I going to say, he thinks.

   Gregg and Saya walk down the path, turning to walk over the Nomi River, her arm looped around his. They don't seem to have any destination in mind.
  
“It's rare for you to go outside your.. culinary quirks.” She smirks at him which causes Gregg to duck his head. “It's fine, don't worry about it. But I didn't know you were okay with sushi.”
  
He inhales and hmms, thinking. “It's not so much that, it's more a not-broke-don't-fix situation. I'm willing to try. But even then I didn't get the ones you did. Something about the way salmon roe looks.” He over-exaggerates his shudder to get her laughing.
  
“Fair. Well, thank you, it's nice to vary it up now and then. And it was a very nice restaurant.” She turns a bit, looking over at him. “You didn't pay too much, did you? We could have gone somewhere--”
  
Gregg holds up his hand and shakes it a bit. “It's fine, it wasn't expensive.” It was tremendously expensive, he thinks. “Like you said, varying it up.” Buttering her up.
  
The two meander down the road from the bridge as the sun sets, slowly approaching Morigasaki Park. Saya perks up for a moment and fishes out her phone from her purse. “Hang on a sec..” She holds it up to a sign in front of what seems to be a school. Saya turns and shows him the phone.
  
“I thought this looked familiar. Some of my kids said they were going here next year. A few already are enrolled.” Gregg nods, looking up at the building, then out towards the bay. “Must be a hell of a view,” he muses, the kids would have a great view. Of the highway. And the airport. Jesus what a shitty location for a school, he concludes.
  
Saya is quiet for a moment before she drops her hands down to hold one of his, looking up at the building. “The.. program.. has asked if I wanted to try teaching here. Sometime this year, I think.” She wasn't looking at him, but he already knew what she'd show him: she was really, really beautiful when she was in awe. She turns and looks at him, just in time for him to put on a thin smile. “Yeah? You aren't done with your degree, though.”
  
She shakes her head, her hair brushing across her cheeks. “They know, they said that it would be fine to have the same schedule, it'd test me more, and.. it is kind of a pay raise,” she admits. “So? What do you think?”
  
Gregg's smile drops a bit as he opens his mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. He looks down at his hand in hers and then up to her, closing his grip around them.

  “I.. think I need to tell you something.”

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About the author

drac

Bio: apologies for everything about me, it might get better.

updates will be once a day for the next seventy days since i am migrating from another platform and have those chapters - and more - ready to go. (from 8/9)

feel free to come hang out in the discord, if you like.

[email protected]

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