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Dear Sanada,

Today my brother came home--he and Pinko-san had a fight about something. He won’t say what, though. I wonder what people who love each other as much as my brother and Pinko-san do fight about?

From, Kamon Kaoru

Akira is a mess, clearly--he wanders through the house with eyes that are dead with exhaustion, and if the way he tosses and turns on the bottom bunk of Kaoru's bed is any indication it's because he hasn't slept at all since he crashed into the foyer at roughly 2AM on a Friday night, asking if he could crash at home while he 'works stuff out'. Kaoru's not sure that sitting in the living room with his mother until it's very very late talking in low voices is really helping Akira at all, but Kaoru knows better than to mention that to Akira.

At first, their sister flits in and out of the house since Akira's never in town any more, poking at him and offering up her husband (husband!!!) for advice, whether he likes it or not. Akira snaps at her to mind her own business, which causes a fight, and since then she hasn't been back.

Date night is Friday, which means it's just Akira and Kaoru in the house. Which is the most awkward thing Kaoru has ever experienced in his thirteen years of life.

Akira cooks, which is fine, and the two of them sit at the dinner table in half-silence broken only by occasional questions about Kaoru's schoolwork.

When the dishes are done and Akira looks like he's going to bust out the beer and drink himself into sleep, Kaoru swallows, tightly, and asks the question. "What... what happened?" he asks, "you were... you guys were so happy."

Akira looks up, his mouth drawn tight. "We are happy," he says, finally, "just... sometimes people fight."

"Yeah, but you didn't just fight, you came all the way home," Kaoru says, before he can stop himself, "what did you do that you're so afraid to go back?"

"I didn't do anything," Akira answers, and sighs.

"Is that... is that the problem?" Kaoru asks, head tilted.

Akira looks up, his face still. Then he excuses himself, suddenly, and stalks toward the bathroom. He's dialing something; Kaoru pretends not to hear him begging 'please, Pinko-san, pick up' into Pinko-san's voicemail.

 

The next few days, Akira seems... worse. He's listless and he keeps looking at his phone, sending Pinko-san text messages (Kaoru peeks).

"Akira, call him," their mother says, suddenly.

"I did! I call all the time," Akira answers, and rolls off the couch to go lie in bed for another few hours.

Kaoru looks at his mother, who shakes her head.

"Mom," he says, and she glances down at him.

"Kaoru?" she asks, voice patient.

"Are they... is he ever going to go back?" Kaoru asks.

Kaoru's mother looks at the closed door to the room Kaoru is sharing with Akira for a long, level moment. "I hope so," she says, and reaches down to ruffle his hair. "Don't worry about other people--where's your science test, hmmmm?"

"Mooooom," Kaoru complains, even as he rifles through his backpack for it.

 

"A-ki-ra," Pinko-san says, and while he certainly sounds cheerful his face is a little terrifying. Kaoru pulls the covers up over his head.

Akira is half-asleep, piled up in the blankets and half-snoring, and he jerks awake when Pinko-san calls his name. "Huh-wha--Pinko-san?!"

"Akira-kun," Pinko-san answers, with a wide smile, "come outside with me for a minute?"

"I--yeah--" Akira is out the door immediately. Before Pinko-san closes the door, he laughs.

"Good night, Kaoru-kun," he calls.

Dear Sanada,

PINKO-SAN IS HERE!

From, Kamon Kaoru

 

Kaoru figures now that Pinko-san and his brother are in the same room, looking at each other, things will get better and they'll go home together in the next week.

He's wrong, of course; the whole house wakes up when their carefully controlled shouting match began to rise in volume. It ends when Pinko-san stalks back out, tears in his eyes. Akira looks more tired than he was when he arrived at the house; he flops onto the couch, his eyes on his knees, and doesn't react until his mother physically pokes him.

"Sorry," Akira says, and, "I have to go--" he grabs his shoes and then he's gone.

"Kaoru, go to bed," his father says, and smiles at him.

 

"Maybe Pinko-san wants kids," his sister suggests, when she comes over for lunch over the weekend. Her eyes are wide.

Kaoru blinks. "But they're both... they can't have kids," he says, "...right?"

"Not the usual way," his father agrees, "no matter what it is, we have to leave it up to them to fix. Right, Mama?" They smile at each other; Kaoru rubs at his forehead.

 

"Onii-san," Kaoru says, when he sees Akira bent over his laptop on the desk in Kaoru's room working on something, "what's.... what's going on?"

"Nothing," Akira says, "I'm just--sorry, do you need to use the desk? I'm just working on something."

Kaoru looks--"that's a resume," he says, brow furrowed, "for a job. Are you...?"

"I don't know," Akira answers, and sighs, "I don't know anything any more."

"I know something," Kaoru says, his small shoulders set, "I know you love Pinko-san, and you're sad. All the time. I don't know what happened but this isn't what people who love each other do to each other. You can't... you have to do something!"

"I tried!" Akira stands up, shutting his laptop, and moves to leave the room.

Their father is leaning on the doorframe, a spatula in one hand and a knife in the other. "Have you tried apologizing?" he asks, his voice very gentle.

"I--Of course I---right?" Akira falters. He looks confused. "I'm.... maybe I..." he scrambles for his phone.

His apology is too big for one message; he leaves seven.

 

Pinko-san calls at seven A.M. the next morning, waking both Akira and Kaoru up.

Dear Sanada,

Today my brother went home. He said thank you when he left, but I don't know why. I don't think I told him anything he didn't know?

Dad's the one who fixed things, anyway.

Man, people in love can be really stupid sometimes.

Can we never do that?

I mean. I mean... that's what I.... that's what I mean.

Will you meet me?

From, Kamon Kaoru.