Drabble!!! Another one-shot to make up for the delay on chapter 18 of TVU.

I came up with this idea yesterday as I was walking to school...it all stemmed from one sentence that I wanted to have Mew say. Oddly enough, I didn't use that sentence. Go figure.

I thought it was about time for Tab to talk to somebody other than Slate about his feelings toward Gum.


Pushups

A Jet Grind Radio fanfiction by Bagatelle

He really needs to get better at remembering that looking is bad for him. I tell him a lot—remind him, I guess—but he needs it every time. I wish he wouldn't need me to tell him again. I wish he'd just remember.

"Why do you want me to get over her so badly?" he asks me, one day. I look back at him. We're sipping pop up on the overhanging sidewalk in lower Shibuya-cho, near the park, and we're alone. It's not a date: we're just alone for the moment, Beat and Yoyo and Gum are off somewhere getting more paint so we can tag the elephant slide six ways to Sunday. I look carefully at him over the mouth of my Coke. He's cute, but not in a conventional way. If you look close at him you can see the scars on his nose and mouth from falling a lot and getting smacked up by the police, but his jaw is firm, his ears even, his smile genuine. And when I see his eyes, they're gentle, kind, compassionate. Offset by that dark, brown-black-maroon hair, and traces of acne that he hides under his hat. He's drinking diet, because he says the sugar is bad for his teeth, and he already smokes too much.

I shrug a little, swish the Coke around in the bottle. "Because I can tell it hurts you to see them like they are," I reply. "And because I just don't think she's good for you."

"Why not?" he pushes. It's not an angry pressure: just curious. He cares about my opinion.

"…She doesn't seem too concerned about how you feel," I say slowly. A part of me knows that she does care—or, at least, did care—but I'm just not really sure what other way to phrase that. "…She's more worried about how nice she looks when she's standing next to her boyfriend, at this point."

"Well I'm ugly: she looked gorgeous next to me!" he replies, faking a laugh. "She is gorgeous."

"Tab, please," I say. He stops. "That's not what I meant…she…has this mentality, I think, where…a pretty girl deserves a pretty guy. I think that's what she's doing."

He's quiet for a second, takes a drink of his pop. "…Oh," Tab says quietly, thoughtfully. "I just…well, I guess I thought she was less shallow than that."

"I…I'm sure she is…but…oh…" I don't know how to respond to that. So I'm quiet, looking down with him at traffic passing under us. He pulls a cigarette out of his front pocket and lights it clumsily, and the smoke blows away from me but I can still sort of smell it. Slate smokes a lot, too. I hate it. The stink gets in my hair, all on my dress…but Tab…I can sort of deal with it. I know it helps him relax, or something like that. So he can smoke right now. I feel bad about making him upset.

He grunts. "You don't have to pretend for me, Mew," he says gruffly. "It's not like I'm gonna tell Gum or anything. If you think she's a shallow bitch, tell me. I've already heard that schtick from Slate. It's nothing new."

"Well, you love her," I argue. "So I'm sure you must see something else in her…I'm sure you're sick of hearing—"

"Loved," he corrects me. "I loved her."

"…Okay."

He purses his mouth into a tight, hurting line. I furrow my eyebrows and shake my head.

"…You're a very solemn person today," I tell him lightly, and he looks at me, puzzled. "It's not like you. I miss seeing you bright and exhilarated."

"I'll be back to normal soon enough," he replies, smiling gently at me for my compassion. "You're right, though. It just hurts to see them…like we used to be. You know?"

"I understand. You've known her for a very long time. You thought you knew what you were doing. It's alright."

He nods, takes a drag. He is very much a poet. Mysterious. Romantic. Prince Charming in a blue jumpsuit. Not my Prince Charming, but somebody's: that much I can recognize. His hair is a little greasy today. We must be low on cash. Beat must not be doing his job. Irresponsible. Tab glances over at me from under his hat.

"…I like you, Mew," he says to me, for the first real time. It makes me blush a little, even though our relationship is so platonic: brother-and-sister through and through. "You're easy to talk to. Understanding. At least you're not cramming opinions down my throat or trying to suck up to me."

"Other people do that?" I ask back, blinking. He grins: his top-left canine is crooked. Wonder why that is.

"Well, the only other person I really talk to about this shit is Slate, and he's very set in his thoughts about Gum. I get upset, hearing him go on and on about how she's a whore and whatever else, so he tries to make it up to me by apologizing and being flustered and gloomy, like he is. You know how that is. He's my best friend, but it's just hard to hear that shit over and over again. Sometimes I just wish he'd accept the fact that Gum and I had a really nice relationship until she decided to end things. She's not always such a horrible person. And I don't even think she is now, much. She just did…what she thought was best, I guess."

"…Tab…" I sigh, and he shrinks a little at my tone, nervous. I smile brightly. "I like you, too. You're very honest. And you're sweet."

"…I'm…sweet?" he repeats, but he smiles slowly. "Eh…thanks, Mew."

I take another sip of pop. It's a nice day out…sun shining, lots of people walking around. He coughs and scratches his neck. "...I think it was pretty nasty of her to go straight to Beat after she told you it was over," I say quietly. He's still, says nothing. "…She didn't even give you time to let it sink in. I would've at least done that, even if I had liked Beat. I don't even know why she likes Beat, anyway, other than the fact that he's handsome…"

"I know why," Tab says, and I guess it surprises me. I don't think I expected him to say something like this. "…We had different ideas about what a relationship should be about. When we were together…I wanted to keep things sort of friendly…like being together actually meant something. She…wanted to disregard our friendship and make things all physical." He shrugs deeply. "I guess I couldn't handle that. I tried, you know…for her…and hey, I like a nice set of tits as much as the next guy, but…we were friends for such a long time before we made it anything else…" He stops, and his face actually goes red when he glances at me and sees how serious I look. I know he's embarrassed because he said he liked 'tits' in front of me, but I really don't care. He's a boy…he's allowed to like that. I continue the conversation to lighten the mood.

"…So Beat was willing to keep it all physical?" I ask, grunting. "That figures. All he does is eat, sleep, annoy people, and masturbate."

Tab looks for a second like he wants to argue with that, but he can't say anything. He knows it's the god-honest truth. He's still blushing a little, and he deadens his cigarette on the railing before he leans down and picks up his soda again to take a drink. I watch his Adam's apple when he swallows, smiling. I think he's better-looking than Beat. I think Beat makes himself ugly with all that he does. At least Tab still cares about people other than himself. At least Tab still has shame.

I can honestly say that I was never attracted to Beat. I considered it, when I first met him, but it only took a few minutes for me to see who he really was, and then I didn't even really want anything to do with him. He's self-centered and arrogant. Stupid. Tab is smart. I like that about him. He's the most grown-up of all of us, except maybe Combo. Cube's pretty grown-up, but she gets mad a lot. She hits people. She's not exactly an ideal "mom" for our gang. I guess if I had to label two people as "dad" and "mom", I'd say Combo was the dad of the GG's, and Tab is the mom. Not like they're in a relationship or anything—everybody knows that Combo has something really strong for Cube—but…just because of how they are. Tab worries about everyone a lot…always wants to make sure everyone is okay, that we're not hungry or tired or sad. And Combo is actually big enough to protect us. I think he knows that, too. He calls me "little girl" sometimes. Not in a mean way, but just because it's true. He told me he never wants to see me get hurt. I really appreciate him for saying that. I never want to see him get hurt, either.

Tab unzips his jumpsuit a little bit, and I realize just now that it's actually kind of hot out today. He's got some old black tee shirt on under his jumpsuit: the name of an underground band he's been a fan of for a while plastered over the front. He's a very cool guy. Very cool. I'm glad we're friends…that he cares about me enough to actually stand here and talk to me about this kind of thing. He trusts me with his thoughts. That's a show of some deep respect, coming from a person like him. He keeps watching the cars driving by under us when I reach over and hug him warmly, and it's kind of weird: I've never hugged him before now. He has strong shoulders, and I can feel the muscles in his arms. He does pushups, I think. So he can fight Onishima off. He thinks things like that through.

"You'll find someone better," I say softly. "A cool girl who's right for you, okay? Please don't be discouraged, Tab. I know you'll make somebody very happy someday."

I look at his face, and he's smiling. I guess he must believe me, then. I'm glad for that. "I'll take your word for it, Mew-chan," he says gently. "…You've got a good head on your shoulders." I can hear Gum and Yoyo and Beat coming back, through the half-pipe way below us.

"Yo, stop it, Beat!"

"Hey, pick up the pace, then!"

"You're both idiots…! You're dropping shit everywhere!"

"There's the brigade," I say lightly, still holding him. He nods.