I am the only child of parents who weighed, measured, and priced everything; for whom what could not be weighed, measured, and priced, had no existence.- Little Dorrit
Weighed, Measured and Priced, Part 1
At the end of the February cycle, Masamune decided he and Ritsu needed to celebrate with a trip. So, he ended up dragging Ritsu with him to the small country town his mother's side of the family came from.
"I thought you weren't that close to your mother and father," Ritsu had said when Masamune suggested it.
"They won't be there," Masamune had answered, and that had been that.
Now, they were driving along the occasionally rough road into town, though Ritsu had fallen asleep almost immediately after setting off. Masamune couldn't necessarily blame him, given that even combined they wouldn't have had a decent amount of sleep. Masamune, however, had consumed significantly more caffeine.
As Masamune drove through the downtown area, he couldn't help but remember the months he'd spent there with his mother, working in his grandparents' sushi restaurant and actively applying to all the universities in Tokyo he could. He had been single-minded in his determination to get out of there and find Ritsu again. When he thought about that, his eyes shifted to Ritsu, still innocently sleeping in the shotgun seat beside him. If he hadn't been driving, he would have leaned over and kissed him awake.
When they finally got to his grandparents' place, he leaned over and brushed his lips against Ritsu's ear. The younger man jumped at the contact and Masamune said, "We're here."
Ritsu rose his eyebrows and looked out the window. They were still pretty much in the main part of town, so Ritsu found himself watching people walking around. Then he followed Masamune's gaze to a building that had some kind of shop on the first floor and what appeared to be an apartment on the second floor.
"…this is where they live?" he asked, getting out of the car. He closed the door and just stared up at the building, dreading his suspicions about their sleeping arrangements for the next few days.
"The apartment is two bedrooms," Masamune said, as if that made a difference to Ritsu. "What's the matter? It's not like sleeping in a bed with me is something new for you."
Ritsu's face turned completely red, and he turned away from Masamune in time for the door to the shop to open. His face softened and cooled down when he saw the older man in the doorway runs his eyes over them both. "Anko!" he called, turning back into the shop. "Masamune and his guest are here!"
"He actually brought his girlfriend?" came a woman's voice in the shop.
Masamune's grandfather glanced over them again and said, "In a manner of speaking, I suppose."
When the man stepped aside, a woman came running out. She was tall, taller than her husband, and she had an imposing air about her that made Ritsu shrink back in fear. She went for Masamune first, though, trapping him in what looked like a very crushing hug.
"Where's that girl of yours? Your grandfather and I have waited so long to see her that we were starting to think she doesn't exist!"
Masamune smiled, and when his grandmother finally let him go, he turned to Ritsu, who still looked terrified. "Grandma, Onodera Ritsu."
Masamune's grandmother blinked, and she walked around the car so she could get a better look at the man. Ritsu was determined to look Anko in the eye, but she was even taller than Masamune, so he had to actually crane his neck up, which made him feel significantly less sure of himself. Finally, though, he remembered his manners, so he bowed deeply. "It's good to meet you."
"Hmm," Anko said as she looked him over. She poked his chest first, as if confirming that he wasn't just an extremely flat-chested girl. Then she moved her hand up to the corners of his eyes. "You have such big eyes. How old are you?"
"Twenty-six?" It came out as a question without Ritsu meaning for it to. "I mean, um, twenty-six, ma'am. I work for the same magazine as Masamune."
Ritsu expected her to react to this information, so he nearly jumped out of his skin when she reached a hand down and poked at his ribs. "You're too skinny! Come in and eat; don't worry about your bags, Jiro will get them." She gave her husband a meaningful look, and he grumbled but complied as Anko led Ritsu and Masamune inside.
"A sushi restaurant?" Ritsu asked, glancing around. Masamune simply nodded, and Ritsu jumped in surprise when he looked over at one of the tables and saw a group of women staring at them. Masamune eyed them briefly before pulling Ritsu over to a table to sit down. Despite the fact that Anko had told Ritsu he needed to eat, she sat down with them instead of serving them while Jiro brought their things upstairs.
"I haven't heard from your mother in a while, of course," Anko said as if continuing a conversation from earlier.
Masamune averted his eyes. He wasn't even in the mood to take Ritsu's hand or sling an arm around his shoulders, but that may have been partly because of the women gawking at them both. The way he kept glancing at them, it seemed he knew them. "You know how my mother is. I haven't heard from her, either. Not even an invitation to visit for New Year's Eve."
"Well, it's in the past, I suppose!" Anko sounded infinitely more chipper as she stood up, finally seeming to realize that she had invited Ritsu to eat. "Let me at least get you both some tea."
Ritsu nodded his thanks before he glanced over at Masamune and realized something. "…Masamune, you didn't take off your driving glasses?"
"Oh?" Masamune blinked, then reached up and pulled off his glasses. He hadn't had time to think about that with his grandmother talking to him and pulling him inside.
More customers had come in, so after Anko dropped off their tea, she didn't continue with them. Jiro hadn't come back down after bringing Ritsu and Masamune's bags upstairs, so Anko was the only employee in the restaurant. This left Ritsu to look around and contemplate, though. "Your grandparents own this place?"
"Yep," Masamune said, staring over the top of his tea cup. "When my mother and I moved here temporarily, working as a waiter here was my first real job. It wasn't that bad." He glanced over at the bar where his grandmother was putting together some rolls with practiced precision. "Gave me plenty of time to read."
"Of course. Not much else to do in this town. I got into my mother's old collection of shojo manga. They had some weird shit back then…"
"Your mother actually collected shojo manga?" Ritsu asked, raising his eyebrows.
"When I was younger she did," Masamune confirmed. "You know how it goes: some women collect trashy romance novels, my mother collected shojo manga. I suppose I have her to thank in part for my current position." He gave Ritsu a somewhat meaningful look, but before he could say any more, he turned around to the group of women who'd been watching the pair the entire time. "Yes?"
"Nothing, Takano-san!" one of them said, and they all giggled.
Ritsu eyed them warily before saying, "Do you know them?"
"Old classmates. I guess they decided to stay after graduation."
Ritsu didn't think that was quite all, but he still said, "If you say so."