"You've been doing it a lot lately."
He shrugs, inhaling a final breath before extinguishing the small flame on the balcony rail and letting it drop over, below where there's a little kid walking by.
She glances downward and watches with a stiff chest as the cigarette lands safely into a murky puddle, before turning her head toward him and glaring. "Why did you do that for? There's a garbage can right inside," her voice is as bitter as the smoke stained air.
He shrugs again and hangs his head over the side, letting the rain drizzle down the sides of his face as he thinks. He hangs there and he thinks. He thinks because maybe more blood rushing to his mind will make the whole situation clearer to him. Maybe he'll have sympathy and maybe he won't cause a scene at the wedding if he understands the whole situation that's still as murky as the puddle below him.
He hears her sighing irritatedly behind him, can image her pacing back and forth with that umbrella frown of hers and furrowed eyebrows like a V. He remembers once telling her that he thought she was cute when she was angry. But that was a long time ago. And they're far from lovey-dovey boyfriend-girlfriend stuff now.
"You're gonna fall."
But he knows he won't. She'll grab him and pull him back up if he does. Even if that means he might be pulling her over the side with him as well. And down they'll go, falling to the ground where a little kid may be passing by and think they're angels falling from the sky.
She hits him suddenly. "Would you stop it, and come back inside?"
He pulls his head in, shaking the raindrops off his skin and giving her a blank look. "You're bitchy when you're angry," he tells her with an air of causality.
"And you've always been an asshole." She fastens her small fingers around his wrist and pulls him inside, releasing him once they've both stepped in and she's already headed for the bathroom. "You're going to be sick – standing out in the rain like that, and without a sweater even," she calls from down the hall.
He takes a seat on his couch, leaning back and staring in the direction of the TV. He turns away when he notices their old family photo. Back when they all still lived together.
"Not true," he says back. "You get sick from germs, not the cold."
She returns with a towel, her face showing complete ignorance of what he'd just said. He thinks it's because she doesn't like believing him – no matter how right he is sometimes. She's been doing that a lot ever since they broke up.
She rubs a little at his hair with the towel before giving it to him to dry himself, glancing at the clock on the wall and her eyes trailing to the window, longing look in them.
He sits up, the towel falling to his lap. "You can leave, you know."
She gives him a bit of a dirty look – but not too much. Not too much that he has reason to speculate that she actually wants to stay with him. But enough of a dirty look that he understands that she's furious with him for pulling her out of her dance classes to watch him mope and bitch and smoke.
She zips up her sweater and pulls on her hood, grabbing her duffle bag from the ground. She slips on her shoes, pausing before grabbing his umbrella, and leaves the apartment without another word.
He figures it'll be a good fifteen minutes before she realizes she's 'missing' her bus pass, and another twenty seconds before she realizes that her wallet and cell phone have also 'gone missing'as well. And that it's evening hours now, and her building is too far away to walk in the wind and rain.
He decides he'll take a shower. And it's a hot shower because he's admittedly cold. And he wonders if by the time she gets back up here, she'll be willing to make him her tea. Her tea which really isn't anything but tea bags and lemon and combinations of sugar and other tea bags that she never tells him how to properly mix.
He doesn't put on a shirt when he leaves the bathroom. He doesn't even put on some pants. He just wraps a towel – the same towel she'd given him earlier around his waist and combs his hair in the mirror until he hears her knocking at the door.
He tells her it's unlocked and she steps in, quickly walking around his apartment and looking under couches and on top of bookshelves. "Where'd you put it, Takeru?" she says in a demanding voice that he doesn't think deserves an answer.
So he enters the living room and leans against the wall, arms crossed over his bare chest as he silently watches her search for her things. She eventually looks up at him, completely unsurprised by his state of dress (or lack thereof), damaging his ego a bit.
"Gimme them back, right now."
"Can you make me tea?"
"No. Gimme back my phone. And my wallet. And my bus pass, you jerk!"
"Can you make me tea?"
"What are you, deaf?"
"Can you make me tea?"
She stomps her foot on the ground and growls angrily – not so cute this time – before storming off into the kitchen and filling the kettle.
"Thank you, babe."
He sits on the couch and grabs the remote buried in between the cushions. Flipping through the news channels and television specials before decidedly sticking to a cartoon show on his father's network. He thinks it's the least he can do since Mom's betraying them both.
He hears her coming back from the kitchen and feels the couch sink as she sits down next to him. Far from him, but next to him, and she makes her eyes concentrated on the television as her mouth moulds into a strong frown. So he leans in, and kisses her on the cheek and waits for her shoulders to unstiffen and relax against the couch. But she's still frowning.
When the kettle sounds, she gets up and makes him his drink. And he knows she's going to make one for herself too. She knows she's going to be here for a while before he feels ready to let her go home and he's alone again until his mother and her boyfriend return.
He scoots over to the center of the couch so that Hikari can't sit far from him even if she tried. And when she comes back with the two cups of tea in her hands and he sees that her face has calmed, he knows she has forgiven him at least a little bit.
"Why don't you put on some clothes?" she asks.
"Because I'm trying to make you happy."
"I'm not happy."
She jumps a little at that statement, the hot water from her cup spilling onto her sweater and she yelps, stretching the fabric out from touching her skin and inspecting her reddened abdomen in fury. She mumbles, upset.
He stands up and walks over to her, one hand taking the cup from her and the other slipping under her sweater. "Just take it off before it burns you some more."
She narrows her eyes at him, giving him a disgusted look and pulls away. Turning around and taking off her sweater herself. Revealing a thin, pink t-shirt and a part of her midriff that she quickly conceals with her arms. As if he's never seen more than that it before. "You're buying me a new one," she says, walking past him and curling up at the corner of the couch.
He follows her, placing the mug on the coffee table before sitting down as well. "Okay, fine." Even though he knows the sweater isn't the least bit damaged. But at least buying her a new sweater means that he gets to spend time with her and watch her try on whatever he gives her.
She glances suspiciously at him before turning her gaze back to the television. "You know you're being unfair," she says.
"You can leave."
"No, I can't. And that's being unfair."
"You offered to come here."
"I had to! You told my dance instructor my aunt died!"
"She could've died."
"She's already dead, Takeru."
He shrugs, leaning over to take a sip of his drink – perfectly mixed – and then leans back on the couch. He turns his head over to stare at her. "I'm sorry."
She shakes her head, burying it into her hands and he knows she's trying her best not to cry. She's not crying for her dead aunt, no no. That happened years ago. She's crying because she's here, with him.
And she knows she can call home and ask for a ride or call Daisuke or one of their other friends for a ride home. But she won't because she doesn't want to leave, he decides. She half wants to stay and she half wants to go home. And it's because she doesn't know which one she wants more, is why she's crying.
He pulls her toward him and lets her head lean against his chest. His own head resting slightly on top of hers as he runs his fingers up and down her side, soothing her. After a while, she stops trembling and relaxes in his hold, calmly watching the cartoon as if that's all they've been doing all day.
"You should be happy for her," she suddenly tells him.
He hesitates a moment, letting his hand trail up her arm and bury itself in her hair. "Dad's not happy. Why should I be?"
"Because you're her son." She gives him a stern look. "And she deserves some happiness of her own after putting up with you for nearly fifteen years." She punches him gently in the shoulder before pressing against him again. "And that doesn't mean you guys won't all still be a family... Don't be stupid and think it's the end of the world."
He's quiet for a moment as he thinks about what she's said. She has said better stuff in the past. Maybe she's losing her touch. Maybe she's tired and he has upset her and that's why she's losing her touch. Suddenly, he feels a little guilty.
"Your stuff's in my desk."
He waits for her to pull away and go to his room, grab her phone, grab her wallet, grab her stupid bus pass and be on her merry way home. But she doesn't. She remains close to him, and her head snuggled even deeper into his chest.
"That means you can leave, you know. I'm being fair."
She reaches across his lap for the remote, and begins to flip through the channels, shifting in her seat to get comfortable. "No you're not. You're being pathetic. If you want me to stay, just say it." She sighs, reaching forward to grab her mug. "I don't know how any girl can put up with you."
He pauses. "But you can."
She shoves him slightly, rolling her eyes as he lets out a slow chuckle.
"…I know," she says.