Have Another
No, here, have another beer.

It's not as if we get to talk that much, outside of -- well, you know. When we're actually fighting. Look, I thought we were going to leave that alone for the evening. It was Kougaiji's idea, okay? I'm prepared to accept that.

I'm not holding a fucking grudge, now drink the damn beer.

Okay, okay, I'll have another one too.

All right, not much of a grudge, but how the hell do you manage to travel with a howling psycho like that?

Right. Right. He's just a kid. Unless that headband comes off -- okay, okay, I'm not holding a grudge. He's just a kid. Just like the monk's just a monk, even if he drinks and smokes and swears his damn head off . . . how did I know? Look, we've got photos of you lot. Word gets around. Here's one . . . yes, okay, so the guy taking it obviously wasn't that competent if Hakkai's smiling at the camera. I don't hire them.

It's probably the queen-bitch who does that.

Or the pervert.

Look, don't ask, right? We were going to keep all that side of things out of this discussion. I wasn't going to ask you about Sanzou or the monkey or Cho Hakkai -- was it really him involved in the whole Centipede clan business? Shit. Okay, okay, I'll drop it.

Yeah. I know. It's just that big brothers are supposed to ask about this sort of thing. You know, pry into what little brother's been up to all this time.

Have another beer. I know I am.

So what have I been up to? Look, you know what I've been up to.

It made perfect sense. He -- he's not someone like your Sanzou. He's a nobleman, and yes, I know, there are worse people up in that level than you can count on your fingers and toes, even when you get up to twenty-one, but there are some of them who still believe in what standards are supposed to mean. What honour and loyalty are supposed to mean. He looks to me for support, and I can look at him and think, yeah, I'm working for someone who'll shelter me if I need it, who'll heal me if I'm hurt, who'll defend me against my enemies just like I defend him against his.

Look, it's not . . . ah, hell. He's not some sort of compensation for you. You aren't some sort of compensation for him. Don't think that.

I like dependable things in my life. I tried to be one for you . . . pass another beer, dammit. I wanted to be one for mother. Father just walked out on her. How the fuck could he do a thing like that? What kind of a man leaves behind the people who are supposed to be able to depend on him? Of course I had to try to look after her. She needed help. She needed someone to look after her. Just like you did.

Most people do.

Of course, most people don't hook up with psycho monks -- look, don't complain about that, I've seen him in action, and all I can say is, the person who ordained him and stuck the chakra on his forehead has to be seriously batshit . . . oh. Oh. Sorry. I didn't realise.

So how much had he drunk when he mentioned that?


Good thing he's having a grand sulk tonight, though. Makes a meeting like this easier.

Kou? Oh, he's . . . he's got a problem at the moment. Yaone's with him.

No, I don't want to talk about it.

No, it's not that. Look, she's a sweet girl, nice kind heart, very gentle and . . . well, very gentle most of the time. It's not that way between her and him, though I know she has daydreams. Look, he walked into her life like some kind of Buddha and pulled her out of a fate that was literally worse than death. Trust me on that one. Of course she cares about him. She's a caring girl. She cares about me too, and trust me, there's nothing more damn annoying than having someone insisting that yes, she needs to see to your wounds, you really are hurt, it's more than just a scratch, will you sit down now and let her see to it, and you know that she's going to be really hurt if you tell her no . . .

Oh? Hakkai too? Figures.

Yeah, sure, I'll have another one too.

Maybe we ought to, you know, try and get them together.


Oh, right.

I'm not stupid.

Okay, okay, he means absolutely nothing to you that way. Fine. No problem. He's just a friend. And Kou's just my friend too.

No, I'm not going to discuss that. Sometimes things just happen, and sometimes things are just private.

Have another beer.

Private things. Yeah. Private things are things you don't want to talk about, even with your younger brother. Almost especially to your younger brother.

I . . . look, I'm only going to say this once, so don't ask me about it again. Ever fucking again. Have you ever actually killed someone you cared about? And I don't mean just someone you spent the night with, some cute honey who turned out to be hired by the queen bitch or her people, or some old friend of yours who got less friendly when you cleaned him out at the poker table and started talking about cheating half-youkai and -- yeah, yeah, you get the idea. Have you ever killed someone who you really genuinely felt something for, something deep down, someone who you had always figured you loved more than your own life, someone who you'd wanted to defend and keep safe and try, for pity's sake, try to help, because her life was shitty too, just like your life, and my life, and we were all going down together and it wouldn't stop and nothing I could do would make it stop? Have you ever done that?

And listen to me, because this is important. I did it. I would do it again. It was the right thing to do. And yes, I fucking regret it, I wish there had been something else I could have done, I sometimes have nightmares about it. This is called paying for what you do. You can't get away from it. But. I would do it again. I don't want it the other way round. You're alive. I have no regrets about that. You're alive and you've grown up and that pays the damn tab.

Now have another damn beer.


Hey, kid, you awake?


Can't hold his . . .

Think I'll just close my eyes for a moment.

Just a moment.



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