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Scripted

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“So how much of that was scripted?”

It was later that evening. They had docked the boat a couple hours ago and as a final hoorah the team decided to order food into the hotel. As per usual, the group lingered on the couches passing a bottle of wine to refill their glasses. Everyone was drinking except Makoto, who, moments after the table was cleared, excused himself to the balcony for a smoke. 

Laurent followed him. 

“What?” Makoto asked, letting his arms rest on the railing, smoke trailing from the cigarette in his fingertips.

“You heard me, how much of that was scripted?” Laurent insisted as he mimicked Makoto’s posture on the railing. It was a feigned casualness - familiarity too, maybe. 

He shrugged, and then brought the cigarette up for another drag. He turned his head as he exhaled. “How much do you think it was?” 

“Well I’d like to think it all was-” Laurent grinned superficially as he tacked on, “Edamame.” 

Makoto sighed and then stubbed the smoke out, crushing the lit tip into the railing. It left a vague scorch and he felt a small pang of satisfaction. To be honest, he didn’t know how much was scripted. He was just so mad … and tired. He was tired. Though a much larger part of him distrusted everyone in the neighboring room, a small part of him wanted to tell Laurent how he felt. The high from completing the con had finally become residual and he wondered briefly what he was going to do with the rest of his life. 

“I don’t feel right,” he said instead.

Laurent pulled a confused face, “I’m sorry?”

He turned to face him, finally taking in Laurent’s side profile. He had shadows under his eyes, distantly Makoto wondered if he had the same ones. 

“You told me to do what felt right, and if I did I would see a path open up for myself.”

Laurent nodded, “I remember.” 

“Well, I don’t feel right . This case didn’t feel right. ” He scoffed, “the only path that’s been opened for me has been trampled in.” 

There was a pause. And then Laurent asked, “did I trample it?”

Makoto didn’t answer, which for Laurent felt like enough of one. He sighed inwardly and hung his head until his chin was resting on the railing. It didn’t look comfortable. 

“I don’t know.” Makoto reached into his back pocket for another cigarette, he put it in his mouth to light it. “Maybe it’s always been trampled,” he finished, mumbling around the cigarette as he did. 

“I’m sorry,” Laurent replied. 

“Are you? I’ve been lied to my entire life.”

The words settled in the air.

“I am, but that’s up for you to decide too, Edamura.” Laurent stood and then slipped back into the living space. As the door cracked open the sound of drunken laughter spilled into night air like oil. 

_

Makoto woke up slowly, gaining his senses one on one. He smelled coffee faintly, the same way you can hear your alarm even when you’re dreaming. There was also humming and then suddenly - light. 

“Wakey-wakey, little soybean.” 

Makoto groaned. It was Laurent then. That blond bastard. 

He rolled over with an arm laid over his eyes to block out the sun. “You blond bastard. How did you even get in?” 

“You’re asking me how I broke into your apartment?” Laurent retorted as  he set the cup of coffee next to the bed. “C’mon, it’s the expensive stuff from down the block.” 

Makoto rubbed at his eyes and then finally sat up. He was right, it was the nice stuff from down the street. He took a sip and then addressed Laurent who was sitting near the foot of his bed on the floor. He had his own cup warming his palms. His hair was longer now, Makoto noticed. 

“Okay. Why are you here?” He checked his wristwatch, “at eight forty in the morning.”

Laurent raised a single eyebrow, “would you believe me if I said I wanted to watch you sleep?”

Makoto scoffed, “I would. That’s not a compliment.” 

“Well, while that’s true,” he beamed, “I really just wanted to see how you were doing.”

“I’m fine.” 

A moment passed as Laurent looked from Makoto, then to the unwashed dishes in his sink, the unfolded laundry in the corner, the now empty cartridges of cigarettes. Even after just waking up, Makoto bore shadows under his eyes. 

“Edamame, no one’s heard from you in a month,” Laurent said, keeping his tone light.  

“Didn’t realize we were working a case.” 

Laurent opened his mouth as if to give him a retort, but then looked as though he thought better of it and gritted his teeth. “Where are you working these days?” He asked instead. 

“Wasn’t aware I needed to. I’m a millionaire. Technically.” 

Now Laurent was getting mad, or as mad as someone like Laurent could get. “What happened to earning an honest living?” 

Makoto leveled him a blank stare and then reached for a discarded business jacket to the right of his bed. He pulled out a box of cigarettes and a lighter. Lighting it, he inhaled and then exhaled, letting the smoke drift toward a cracked window in the back. “Hope you don’t mind,” he said as he took another drag. 

Laurent took a deep breath. “Edamura we’re worried about you.” Nothing. “Oz is worried about you.” 

Then the dam  broke. 

Fuck him! Is that your leverage right now? That my dad is worried about me?” Makoto looked at him bewildered and then angered, “Ozaki doesn’t even get the right to call himself a dad.” 

“Edamura, you know that’s not-” 

Makoto stood, a new wave of energy coming to him, fueled by nothing but a childhood’s worth of anger and resentment. “Fuck you too! I’m so tired of all of your bullshit, of Oz’s bullshit, of ‘confidence men’ bullshit.”

His breathing hitched and he began to pace. 

“Those kids hate me! What about the ones I auctioned before we finished the mission, huh? I auctioned them like they were animals! I’m no better than any of those men in there, it’s my fault,” he gestured hysterically to his living space, “and I deserve it . ”  

He realized belatedly that he had dropped his cigarette, and then following that, he realized the heat in his face and the tightness in his throat. Laurent was staring at him wide eyed, still sat on the floor by his bed. Makoto brought his hands up to cover his face, in shame or to smother the heat he felt there, he didn’t know. 

“Edamura,” Laurent stood up and in two strides was in front of Makoto. He gripped Makoto’s wrists and pulled at them. His face was blotted with anger and his eyes were shadowed and bloodshot in that way that only happens after you’ve cried.

“Edamura it wasn’t your fault.” And then he hugged him.

For a brief second Makoto was tense, but finally he relented and gripped the back of Laurent’s bright floral shirt. Pushing his face into the crook of Laurent’s neck he sobbed and his shoulders shook. 

Through it all Laurent never stepped away, never stopped with the constant murmurings of it’s okay and you’re alright now . As his sobs subsided into hiccups Laurent loosened his grip to look him in the eye, “okay?” 

Makoto nodded, “Okay.”

“Come back to my place. I can make us lunch and then we can figure everything out.” 

“You have a place here?” Makoto laughed weakly, hands still fisted in the back of Laurent’s shirt. 

“Well, I am a millionaire. Technically.” He echoed at him. 

Makoto stepped away and picked up his coffee and cigarettes. Still dressed from the night before (He really had let himself go, hadn’t he?) he gestured for Laurent to lead the way. 

“You didn’t steal my wallet this time did you?”

Finally Laurent laughed for real, mirth seeping into his face the same way a wine blush does. He opened the door and walked out. 

This time Makoto followed.

Chapter Text

Laurent’s apartment was of course lavish in every sense of the word. It was apparently “just something small to sleep in” while he worked a case here some odd years ago. Naturally it was well decorated and tidy, in the living space to the left sat a caddy of liquor, and to the right a bookcase. On the second shelf Makoto spotted a picture of a young Laurent and a woman with a wicked grin - that must be Dorothy, he thought. They looked happy. 

Gesturing Makoto inside, Laurent spread his arms open in an all encompassing gesture, “mi casa es su casa - or whatever it is.”

Makoto breathed a quiet laugh, “you speak like a billion languages, I think you know it.”

“Actually just nine.” He began listing them on his fingers, “French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Kore-”

Makoto raised a hand, “I know.”

In response Laurent simply shrugged his shoulders with a grin. “However,” he stressed, “I’m not much of a cook.” He looked faintly guilty.

“If you have the stuff, I can.”

Laurent clapped his hands in glee, “How kind of you Edamame!” 

Makoto brushed him off, “It’s really not that big of a deal. Especially since,” he gestured to himself as if his existence was enough of an explanation for earlier. 

“Well what are friends for then?” Laurent feigned hurt, a hand to his heart. 

For a moment Makoto paused. He hadn’t really considered them friends. Colleagues? Sure. A pain in each other's asses? Definitely. Not friends though, but he supposed that is what they were, in at least a distant variation of the word. 

He hadn’t seen him for a couple months. Not since they spoke on the balcony actually. And while it was true that he hadn’t made a real effort to seek out anyone since they parted, Makoto would be lying if he said he hadn’t missed them. The idea of getting dressed, calling them, making plans - it all sounded so deliberately taxing. Why would he do that if he could just as easily stay in his apartment? 

More than that - sometimes if he thought too hard, he would see Cynthia or Abigail, or sometimes even Laurent, being shot off that damned boat. Sometimes it was his father that did it, sometimes it was him. He could never get to them in time. 

“Edamame?” Laurent prompted. 

“Hm?” He swatted his thoughts away and shook his head.

Laurent shrugged, “you were just quiet, nothing to concern yourself over, little soybean.”

“Is that the only nickname you can think of? It’s awful.”

“Really?” Laurent beamed, “what about mon cheri or mon amour , or even mon beau !”

Makoto sighed, “You know, I do know what those mean. Just because my English is accented doesn’t mean I’m an idiot.”

_

Laurent watched from the living room couch, holding a book to appear occupied, as Edamura made them lunch. Though he had returned to his easy nonchalance, Laurent could still admit to himself that he was worried. Edamura looked terrible. He had seen him distressed and anxious before, but the Edamame in front of him now was neither. In his place was a young man with shadowed and bloodshot eyes, and if Laurent watched carefully, he could see the way his hands shook. On the coffee table with his keys sat an almost half empty box of cigarettes. 

Laurent sighed. 

He should have gotten in touch sooner. Not that he could have been much help anyway, after the high of the con, Laurent had his own bag of burdens to lessen. He glanced at the framed photo of him and Dorothy, throwing a ring into the sea was just the start.

That didn’t excuse his inaction though. He should have made an effort to see him in person earlier, or at the very least, prompted Abbie or Cynthia to do it for him. 

“Edamame?” Laurent asked from across the space. 

Edamura didn’t pause chopping carrots and cucumbers as he looked up in acknowledgment. 

“Have you thought anymore about that coffee business?”

He felt more than heard Edamura sigh, like he was releasing something that had been pressed against his chest for ages. “I started visiting some coffee shops a couple months ago,” he looked toward the ceiling in thought, “around the time the con finished.”

“And?” Laurent raised an eyebrow, “well what happened?”

Finally pausing in his handiwork to fully address him, Edamura tapped his fingers against the countertop. He idled them as if he wanted a cigarette or something to distract himself. 

“I don’t know,” he finally said lamely. “It would be a dream to open a cafe, I just didn’t have the energy, I guess.” 

Laurent hummed in thought. He knew the signs, he had been there; nothing like a little trauma to stir depression into the stew. It was possible Edamura even knew, or maybe he hadn’t noticed it beyond the thick layers of anger and resentment. It could be hard to tell the difference. 

Lost in thought, Laurent missed Edamura setting a plate in front of him. It was rice balls, probably filled with vegetables and whatever protein Laurent kept in the fridge - he honestly didn’t know. He had Cynthia order it for him when he mentioned he was in town with Edamura. 

“It’s just whatever you had in the kitchen already,” he said.

Laurent offered him one of those smiles that, generally speaking, reached the corners of his eyes in genuinity. “Thank you, Edamame.”

They ate in silence for a while. Edamura’s hands still shook, but while eating it slipped out of Laurent’s focus. It was a companionable silence, something Laurent wasn’t accustomed to. He was used to noise and chaos, duress and disorderly. He had been telling himself that the domestic wasn’t for him ever since Dorothy, but he wondered now if that could change. 

Edamura and Dorothy were so alike that sometimes Laurent forgot himself, but in the same moments they were polar opposites. The same energy with different motives, the same feelings with different expressions, an unstoppable force and an immovable object.

Laurent figured he needed someone like that. 

“Travel with me,” he said without preamble. 

Edamura choked. “What?”

“You heard me - travel with me. We can visit more coffee shops.” He pondered for a moment, “We really didn’t see much of the states did we?”

Pinching the bridge of his nose Edamura sighed. “Laurent. I can’t- I can’t work another case. Not again, not right now.” 

Laurent beamed, always one to turn a situation around, “No, travel . I mean it. I was offered a job in D.C. that starts at the end of summer. Let’s travel the states until then.”

Edamura looked hesitant, “I mean it, Laurent. I can’t do another case.” 

“And you won’t. I promise.”

“You ‘promise’?” Edamura scoffed. 

Laurent nodded, offered his hand to shake, “I always keep my promises.”

Briefly Edamura weighed the pros and cons. As always with Laurent, the cons were mostly risks, and most of them revolved around this little adventure turning into a new case. It always did. On the other hand, Edamura didn’t have anything keeping him here. With the amount of money he had he wouldn’t need to work another day if he didn’t want to.

 He dreamed briefly of what it would be like to taste coffee from around the states, of what it might be like to travel with Laurent, sit in long car rides with him (not entirely unlike how they first met), bicker over where to eat and not over how to swindle money, and finally he thought about what it might be like to be anywhere that wasn’t here

It was time for him to leave. He had lingered long enough.

Chapter Text

Florida - May 30th

 

“Florida?”

Laurent had kept their destination quiet since they got to the airport. All Makoto knew was that they were going back to the states, and judging by their extensive plane flight, not just to the nearest coast. The airport held little answers as they waited for their luggage. However, it was hard to ignore the heavy heat that sat in the air like fog - this wasn’t LA. 

It became clear as they hailed a cab where they were. On every poster laid an advertisement for Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter, the beach, and more. When he was younger, his mom would always talk about going to Disney one day. Not necessarily to the one in America, but just in general. 

By the time they had the money, she was already too ill. 

“Well, don’t sound too enthused, Edamame.” 

Makoto squinted his eyes into the sun, “but why?”

“We’ll work our way through the country and eventually land in DC. Just trust the process, mon cher .”

Makoto eventually looked away from the sky to squint at Laurent frustratingly, sunbeams still dancing beneath his eyes like afterimages. After he stated his distaste for being nicknamed after a soybean, Laurent had taken to calling him anything from French endearments to derivatives of aforementioned soybeans. Damn him.

He sighed, “can you at least tell me next time? I thought you were done lying.” 

Laurent grinned at him as they climbed into the back of a taxi. “This was a surprise ; very different from a lie.”

“Yeah, well? They seem to be one and the same these days.” 

The admissions sat between them like a third passenger in the cab. Laurent wouldn’t touch on it now, but they would eventually need to talk about it.  

_

“Subculture Coffee?” 

Laurent nodded, “Over a thousand reviews with 4.6 stars.” He looked smug. 

For the most part, Makoto couldn’t argue with him. The place was nice, filled with lively green plants and a raised bookshelf, white brick walls with red accents, plus a handwritten chalkboard menu. Toward the back, divided from the store, Makoto spotted a coffee roaster, milling beans around in a circular manner as they roasted. The place was actually pretty cool - not that he would tell Laurent that. 

The menu was simple, something Makoto could appreciate. The standard affair plus a few speciality drinks and smoothies. Baristas bustled behind the counter in a leisurely manner, taking orders and plating pastries. It went without saying that Laurent looked completely at place - it was those fucking floral dress shirts. 

“What are we thinking, Edamame?” The man in question bumped into his shoulder. 

“Um.” Makoto looked around, still taking it in. “Coffee. Their standard roast, I guess.”

Laurent smiled at him in a teasing manner, “that’s it?”

“Don’t laugh at me,” Makoto huffed. “That’s the best way to rate their roast, is it not?”

Laurent only shrugged. “I’m getting a latte with lavender.” 

_

They sat down with their mugs. Surprisingly, it was one of those shops that still used real mugs instead of paper to go cups for dine in purchases. In fact, they had poured cream into Laurent’s in such a way it could even be called art. Makoto pulled out his phone to make note of it. In his notes app he had remnants of the first couple shops he visited in Okinawa, the last entry was over a month and a half ago. He sighed, feeling old exhaustion creep into his skin. 

“You know,” Laurent pondered. “This kind of looks like a dick.” 

He was staring intently at his mug and then looked at Makoto with a raised suggestive eyebrow. 

“You fucking pervert,” Makoto retorted without malice. As if to prove his point, he began to smile as though to contain laughter. He turned his head to the side, a smile finally splitting across his face. “I mean, you’re not wrong .” 

And as Laurent watched Makoto succumb to giggling he found himself smiling as well, but not because of the latte art. 

Once Makoto settled, he began his review of the coffee. It was a pour over, they roasted their own beans, and their house blend was a mix of their Colombia and Brazil roast. Makoto raised it to smell before drinking - fuck Laurent for laughing, as if he hasn’t watched him smell wine - it was aromatic and a little citric. 

He took a drink. 

Silence. 

“I like it.” 

Laurent raised a brow, “that’s it?” 

“I think it could be more of a full body roast, but I like the floral and citrus tones. However, I think I’d prefer something more dense for myself.” He finished this while also jotting notes into his phone. “How is yours?”

Laurent sipped his, “a delight of course.” 

“Really.” Makoto asked, echoing Laurent’s earlier tone.

“Tastes like lavender,” he finally decided. When it was Makoto’s turn to level a look, Laurent rose his hands in faux surrender. “Hey, we can’t all be coffee casanova’s can we?” 

“You’re such an idiot.”