If asked outright, Yuki couldn't say why it's so awkward to be alone with Coco. As in, he physically couldn't: he'd turn red, he'd drown. A thing like this is not possible for a guy like him. And he wouldn't say it, either, even if he could, even if the drowning didn't come to kick him in the teeth. It just is, he'd tell you, sulky in true teenaged fashion.

Maybe it would be easier if it was only one kind of awkward. You know, like, she's a pretty girl and intimidates him, or she's an intimidating girl and scares him. Those would be manageable. Instead it's the kind of awkwardness that's as confusing as it is mortifying — Why is this so bad? There are a lot of options, and Yuki doesn't want to think about any of them, so he tries so shove it all out through his ears and ends up trying not to wheeze in her presence. She is pretty, sure, but more importantly, he's never understood how a girl's bikini top stays up like that. Yuki's okay at science, but bikini tops seem to throw all those ideas on physics in his face. And isn't it even worse that hers is the kind that ties in the front?

Wh- Why am I thinking about this?!

Coco keeps her lids low but raises both her eyebrows at him, very subtly.

Crap! She knows!

It's disgraceful how Haru is just okay with this. Yuki's pretty sure that older brothers are supposed to have a strict ban on bikini tops. He tries to imagine Sakura picking a bathing suit off the rack in a store. Look, look! It ties in the front! All my friends at school have ones like this... Natsuki would definitely go blue, maybe take up arson.

Stop looking at me like that! Where's Haru?!

"I dunno when he'll be back," Coco says, "cos he sure ain't on time."

"Oh," Yuki says, or tries to.

Too easy to admit, Coco's bikini top is absolutely not what bothers him the most about her. Women, um, their — they are embarrassing, but that's a given. Everyone is embarrassed by those — them — that.

Everyone except guys who are way smoother than you...

That she's terrifying also isn't her biggest flaw. A person like Yuki has a sort of superpower: when everyone scares you, the truly scary people aren't quite that big of a deal. And Coco is scary — she reminds Yuki a little of a praying mantis with how she moves, and he can easily picture her commanding a massive army of real praying mantises to victory, because they'd never dare disobey her, and she would be their pink and fearsome queen, riding upon a golden litter carried by a thousand scuttling insects, her laugh ringing high and mighty throughout her conquered wastelands... but after a while, that was easy to get used to. She's a fish, he reminds himself. She's a fish, he's an angler. That's not so bad. Even if the way she's eyeing him makes him want to run away.

Then why? he asks himself, and then he tries to shut up right after. Does it even matter, why this is so awkward? Being alone with anyone is awkward. This doesn't have to be different, and he shouldn't be making a big deal about it, and anyway, she's Haru's sister, so it shouldn't be like this...


"It's yer own fault, y'know," Coco tells him suddenly, or not so suddenly, since her comment fits in perfectly with his much unwanted revelation. "We came back cos he wanted to so bad, and he wanted to so bad cos o' you."

"H— Haru?" Yuki says, because it's the only thing he can think to say, even though it's stupid because of course she means Haru. She indulges him, though, maybe taking pity on him for being unable to carry a conversation telepathically or something.

"Yeah. He said he just had to come back, all cos o' you."

This is so horribly, awfully uncomfortable, and now Yuki knows exactly why. She's Haru's sister. She knows him better than anyone. She knows everything I don't know about him, and... "He missed everyone," is the only lame protest Yuki can give. He's grinding at something with the toe of his shoe. "Natsuki, Akira... my grandma, and all of Enoshima — he said he loves everyone. He wanted to see them again."

Coco has the grace just to hum, as they both stand there knowing that Yuki is as wrong as he is right. She's got her hands folded behind her back, resting atop that ridiculous skirt-like apparatus. Sakura had been overjoyed to see Coco return, doubly so once she'd seen that Coco had brought her a souveneir. "Thought it might be yer size!" she crowed, holding up a skirt very similar to her own. Sakura squealed, "Th- Thank ya kindly!" and Yuki got a frantic text from Natsuki-in-America at three in the morning, saying that he'd gotten a picture of Sakura wearing it and what the hell was up with that?

As if sensing the memory, Coco plucks at the edge of the garment, and Yuki wonders why aliens are such a handful. "He's taking forever," he mumbles. "He's always doing stuff like this..."

"Y'should smile more," Coco observes, ignoring the perfectly legitimate criticisms of her big brother.


"Yer smile. I said it's yer fault, didn't I? My brother said, 'Kate said I make Yuki happy! Kate said Yuki smiles when he's with me! If I'm not there, Yuki won't smile enough!'"

Woah, she totally dropped her accent...

Coco ignores that too. "We ain't come all the way here for a picnic, y'know," she says, maybe scolding, and Yuki wonders, not for the first time, how she's the younger sister rather than the elder. "Even if I missed them whitebait bowls. So here we are, but yer smile sure ain't." She squints at him through her glasses, and it's like she can see everything.

"I..." Well, that's inadequate, so Yuki stops it right there, and realizes he's gaping at her.

"He loves Enoshima. I like it too. But he's always runnin' towards you. Even if it's away from me, he always is. I never seen him like he is when—"

She stops, touches her glasses, looks down at herself. Maybe she thinks she's said a little too much. Maybe she's kind of sad. Maybe she remembers a time when she always held her brother's hand, or always swam alongside him, and he took care of her more than she took care of him. Any option makes Yuki feel ridiculous; this is exactly what he wanted to avoid. This is exactly the kind of stuff he runs away from. "Coco," he says slowly, "why does Haru—"

"Why do I what!" Haru exclaims, clotheslining Yuki in an effort to hang on to him while forgetting to stop running first. Yuki squawks, no dignity there, and scrambles to right himself while tangled up in Haru's limbs and cargo. "Yu—ki, your face is so waaarm! How, how?"

"Brother!" Coco interrupts, stern in a way that lets you know she's still really lenient with Haru. "How long didja think t'make us wait?" Her hands are on her hips and she's leaning towards him, once again way too responsible to be the younger sibling here. "Yuki 'n I were wonderin' if ya got et by that cat or what! An' I was gonna go for dinner..."

Yuki can't even be surprised that Haru has no shame. "Sorry, sorry!" he says brightly, and shoves his bags into Yuki's arms so he can take his sister's hands. "Sorry, Coco! I was getting things for all of us..." That easily, her indignance bends at the knees, and it melts completely when Haru rummages through one of the bags Yuki's trying not to drop. "See! This one's for you! And there's another one, too, because I know you'll finish it fast."

It's a whitebait bowl, and Coco squirms in place with a nice hum, loving her brother and possibly considering picking at it with her fingers.

"Aaand," Haru continues over Yuki's protests and struggles, "Yuki! Food for you and cake from Kate! That's why I came late, heheh... I asked her to make it and we could eat it down there..."

"Eh? —Wait, so you wanted us to have dinner down on the rocks?" Yuki looks at the parcels he's holding, which, come to think of it, all smell very good, and then stares at Haru. "That's what all this was about?"

Haru trills a laugh, but his face is pink, too, and he gathers the foodstuffs back up to himself again. "People do that!" he says, managing to make it sound like a little known fact. "People eat together, by the sea, while the sun is going down!" And, on his heel, he turns to march away, singing They do that, they do under his breath. It's after a half-second of hesitance that Yuki catches his elbow.

"Haru," he starts, and falters, and then he tries again, too aware of Haru's eyes. "Haru— thanks."

It's really embarrassing, how Haru's face looks like the Tanabata sky, like he's won the biggest toy in the UFO catcher just now. Yuki's throat feels so weird. "Yuki," Haru says, "you look happy! I can see it, you look happy!"

"Yeah." He lets go of Haru's elbow and takes one step back, but makes himself admit it. "I am." And Haru looks even happier.

When he's marching away for real, Yuki and Coco are alone again, for just a second. They look at each other. It's still awkward, but now it's like a three-legged race of awkwardness, something they're together in. She considers him; he considers her brother. That's exactly what appeases her.

Coco cuffs him gently on the shoulder, a gesture of solidarity, and follows after her big brother. "It's all about yer smile," she says over her shoulder. She doesn't run to catch up to Haru, but he stops to wait for her, and Yuki watches the way they know each other for longer than he means to. Haru moves like gravity's his, and Coco moves to accommodate him. Yuki doesn't know why he hasn't seen it before, that they've been together for ages and ages and ages. They are travelers. And he's broken into their world, he knows it — but he knows, too, that Coco has forgiven him for it.