"I want this to be a surprise so don't tell Misora."
"Dad, I mean it."
"You mean what? I don't even know what we were talking about."
"Thanks. I'll see you soon."
Sento hangs up the phone and looks out the window to take in the scenery passing by.
In just 30 more minutes he would be in Osaka again, he would finally be home.
Souichi had questioned his decision to return a great deal, as the university graduate could've easily gotten a job in his field in Tokyo to "start his career as a matter physicist in a place of success", as his father had repeatedly put it. But Sento had told him he is determined to return to Osaka for at least a year to help out at their shop – science had become a chore he had lied. Though honestly, he's just misse his adoptive father and sister for too long.
The train doors opened and Sento stepped on the platform. For a while he simply stood there to feel the atmosphere and breathe the air so different from the big city that is Tokyo. Not that Osaka was small, not at all, but anything dwarfed in comparison to the capital city.
On his way home he stopped multiple times noticing the changes, which had been done over the past two years since he had last visited, in the streets. The closer he got to Nascita Ice Cream the more people recognized him and kept him from his way for some smalltalk.
When Sento entered through the familiar doors he got greeted by the sight of a stranger sprinting towards him, a look of sheer panic immanent on his face. The boy grabbed Sento's right shoulder to use as a lever to spin himself around and knelt down behind the scientist, clearly trying to hide. He started turning to look at the strange guy who had just whispered to please hide him when he recognized a voice coming from the direction of the back door.
"Baaanjou," he heard. The guy behind him whimpered, but on Sento's face formed a huge grin once he spotted his sister walking towards them. Though, she only had eyes for the guy behind him – Banjou? The name does ring a bell. He thinks Misora and dad let that name slip a few times over their phone – who's using his body as a shield, and thus didn't notice the return of her brother.
She snapped out of it as recognition formed on her face.
He smiled wider.
"What-?" Misora asked cautiously, too perplexed to form full sentences.
This seemed to finally have the wheels turning and a smile spread on her face also, she ran towards her brother to hug him tightly.
A few minutes had passed before Sento took notice of shoes sqeaking on the smooth floor's surface. The siblings turned around and when Misora called Banjou's name he looked back like a deer caught in the headlights.
"Heyy, hi," he greeted them awkwardly. "I'm Banjou Ryuuga." He bowed his head, but only just enough to still keep a cautious eye on the girl beside Sento.
"Sento Kiryuu. I'm Misora's brother."
"Oh! The scientist guy! I know you. Misora never shuts up about you."
Misora glared at him and pouted. "He's intelligent enough as to not wake me up, unlike SOMEBODY else in here."
This immediately shut him up, scared of bringing the wrath of a tired Misora upon him once more. Sento laughed, entertained by their interaction. "I'm glad thinga haven't gotten boring around here."
A few customer filed into the store then and Banjou straightened his posture instantly and went to welcome them. Sento's trained ice cream shop mode kicked in as well. He went back behind the counter, almost ready to serve.
"Misora, where's an extra apron?" he yelled behind the various types of ice cream.
She disappeared behind the staff door, which also held the official kitchen along with multiple storage refrigerators, before emerging again with a folded apron in her hand. His sister handed it to him with a smile and a mocking "here you do, onii-chan". Sento shook his head in mock-exphiration.
At this moment Banjou came up to the counter to forward the order to the fresh university graduate.
"So you work here?" Sento inquired casualy, stating the obvious.
Banjou didn't seem to mind though. "Yepp. I started about a year ago."
"I remember Misora telling me something about a newbie who "can't remember even the simplest orders. I think he'll be on the streets again soon."" Sento laughed at Banjou's wide eyed expression while he scooped some vanilla ice cream for a banana split. "Fortunately it seems she must've been wrong. It's nice meet you."
"It's nice to finally meet you too," the part timer smiled in return. "Will you be working here from now on?" Ryuuga added cautiously, but Sento assured him he's just helping out – if his father agrees, that is – while he looks for something in Osaka, Banjou's job is safe. He heard the other let out a breath at that.
Later in the day when owner Souichi returned he introduced the boys officially.
In the evening they all get take out and catch up on each other's personal lifes. Sento finds out Banjou had been working here for the past year to make a living while he trains to become a professional boxer. He had also been occupying Sento's bed in the meanwhile and Souichi hopes they could share the room – Sento's got the biggest bed after all – for a while until they find a better solution, despote Misora's room being equiped with the most comfortable sofa known to mankind (the thought of Banjou sleeping in her room didn't even occur to any of them).
Sharing a room turned out to be much less troublesome than first anticipated, though it is crowded at times it reminds Sento a lot of his dorm life so he's quite used to it.
Working, living, sleeping in the same room together – they had to vote against sharing the bed after that one fateful night Banjou's fist connected with Sento's jaw, so they had brought in a futon for Ryuuga to sleep on (Misora wouldn't part with her mattress under any circumstances) – a friendship developed between the two.
With the start of summer work has been getting busier and busier each day but life has been good nonetheless and Ryuuga's been enjoying himself quite a lot.
He was just cleaning the table a trio all dressed in yellow had just abandoned when he heard a voice he had hoped never to hear again. "Banjou??"
He stilled. For a while nothing happens but as his guest doesn't seem to be in any hurry to leave he clears his throat. "Sawa," he nodded in acknowledgement of her presence. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, why thank you. It's nice to see you too. Thanks for the warm welcome."
He left the cloth in his hand on the table and turned to her.
"You know that's not what I meant. I'm just surprised to see you here is all."
"I know exactly what you meant. But actually I'm here to visit my Misora whom I haven't seen ever since I left HongKong Journalism School 2 years ago."
He smiled at that. "So you DID finally apply there?" She nodded proudly. "Kasumi did always tell you to follow your dream."
They both seemed to be thinking back on time past for a while before finally returning to the present.
"So what are YOU doing here?" Sawa inquired.
He only got around to telling her he's a part timer when Misora – bless her soul – came to his rescue, unbeknownst to her, anf relieved him of a conversation he was neither ready nor willing to have. Life has been good, even if he hasn't achieved his goal of being a pro-athlete yet, and he didn't want to have his life questioned by one of the closest friends of his deceased girlfriend.
Sawa started stopping by more frequently after that and they grew mire comfortable around each other after a while. It seems the world just didn't want him to be rid of Sawa's prying. Her visits though made Misora spend less time with Sento and him – the three have grown quite close as a trio over the past month and a half, the Nascita family has now really started to feel like his own. Especially Sento has turned out to be a much warmer person than he had expected from 'a science dude'. So the three decided to finally have a family movie night again (minus Souichi, who seemed to have started going out much more frequently recently).
After a emergency call from Sawa Misora had to excuse herself pretty early. The other needed help preparing for an interview the following afternoon. This left him alone with Sento which he didn't mind at all.
Over the course of the past few weeks Banjou had come to know the science graduate quite a bit.
He fell sleeping only when he was warm and cozy, unlike Misora who could sleep right about anywhere. He also couldn't stand horror movies because they all followed the same plot pattern and thus bored him to no end. Ryuuga would also find him at night hunched over a problem for hours before he was too tired to keep his eyes open anymore. When he was finally in top gear a strand of hair would stand up from his head after having subconsciously pulled at it in concentration. Despite his initially neat appearance Sento loved to wear mismatching socks and shoe colors. It was really quite cute.
They were on their third movie and Ryuuga's wish for the night. Sento yawned beside him for what seemed to be the 5th time in succession.
"Banjou, do you mind if I rest my head on your shoulder for a bit?" the other asked in a sleepy voice. (Of course) he didn't.
As the movie progressed Sento had gotten even closet to him, burying his head in Ryuuga's neck.
"You know," he whispered looking down at Sento. "You're kinda cute at times."
He heard Sento snort "Yeah, right." and frowned at that.
"Sento, I mean it."
Sento gets quite for a while after that and Ryuuga had been musing the cuddly boy must have already drifted away when he heard a soft "Thanks."
He had fallen alseep soon after and when he wakes up he find himself wrapped in Sento's arms. Content he stays for a while longer.
Things are as usual at work. The shop is quite busy during lunch time but otherwise rather uneventful.
In the afternoon a little girl makes her way to Banjou and makes a request for a coup of all the flavors and colors she likes. Ryuuga thinks she might just be the cutest child he has ever seen. He gets along with the kid surprisingly well, especially once she mentions wanting blue ice cream because her favorite dragon is blue. He takes a few colors at once making multicolored scoops and kneels down to hand her her order. She runs off happily once she gives him the money making him smile after her. While he's still kneeling he hears Sento call his name.
He turns his head.
"You're pretty cute too."
It takes a few second for Ryuuga to process this and remember his own words from the night before until he connects the dots. He feels his face grow hot but throws Sento a big smile nonetheless.
A few days later, it was monday evening, Sento and him are on their way home carrying groceries Souichi had asked them to get. They talked comfortably about everything and nothing, about shows they watch together and other things, but then mainly about Sento's decision to return to Osaka.
"Weren't you the best student Tokyo University's had since Gentaku Himuro or whatever his name was 7 years ago? That's what owner said. Why didn't you get a well paid job in your field in Tokyo? It would've been easy for you, wouldn't it?"
"I could've. Probably. But," Sento started but got quiet after that leaving only the sound of their footsteps, the rustle of the plastic bags and cars in the distance.
"Hm?" he nudges Sento for an answer but was ready to back off if no answer came.
"I missed them too much."
Ryuuga hummed hoping it would translate as understanding and Sento would continue.
Surprisingly, he did.
"I don't know how much they told you, if you know or not, but," he paused for a bit while looking up at the night sky. "Souichi adopted me when I was 7. We lived in Tokyo back then, actually. They showered me with so much love and affection I never thought I'd be able to experience.
After ... an incident, let's just say ... we moved here and I told myself I'd never leave them, I would always make sure I know they're both alright.
Leaving for Tokyo to study was hard but I got over it."
Ryuuga stayed quiet the entire time listening to Sento telling him something this personal about himself.
"But when I graduated, I know could've stayed there, I know, but I wanted to make sure with my own two eyes they're here, happy. And I wanted to be with them again, be part of the family before I decide to leave for good," Sento laughed quietly at to himself. "I guess I could never leave for good. I would always come back to visit but ..."
"Merely visiting would never feel the same as being here?" Ryuuga supplied.
"That too. But. This is my home. This is where I'm happy. Nascita, dad, Misora, the beach, city and the people. And now I guess even you."
They continued their way home talking about what Misora had been like as a child and how much trouble Sento had gotten in with her by accidentally waking her up from her nap. Apparenly she was just as scary back then as she is now.
Ryuuga wakes up in their room being empty, it's not unusual for him to wake after Sento but still uncommon considering the scientist's sporadic sleep pattern.
He shuffles in the kitchen where he spots Sento brooding over a problem and jotting down notes. A new theory or experiment, Banjou assumes.
He takes a canned coffe and leans on the counter, not wanting to sit at the table as not to disrupt Sento's concentration.
"Come here for a second, I need to confirm something."
Curious about the experiment and ready to be of help he takes a seat next to the scientist.
"Give me your hand."
He's not entirely sure how he's hand is gonna confirm a formula but what does he know so he does as he is told. Sento takes his outstretched hand, interlaces their fingers and goes back to writing and solving formulas in his notepad.
"Uhm," Ryuuga helpfully supplies after a while.
"What is it?"
"What DO you need my hand for?"
"I had to research how well your hand fits in my own."
At this Ryuuga laughs and Souichi enters the room shortly after.
"Thanks boys for getting milk," he greets them cheerily. "Did you get coffee too?"
"Yeah, it's in the fridge," Sento points with his free hand.
It's evening and Sento walks into the living room, pulls out his laptop after sitting down on the sofa anf starts checking his favorite news websites and physics blogs.
All the while he feels Banjou staring at him intensely.
"Hey Banjou, everything okay?“
After five more minutes of feeling Ryuuga stare holes through him he finally hears the other speak up.
He turns his head and hums questioningly.
„I like you“
Sento gives a small nod but stays quiet noting a smile forming on his own face.
The scientist looks down at his monitor.
„Sento?“ he can hear a twinge of worry in the other boy’s voice and smiles softly. Cute.
„Yeah,“ he feels his cheeks flushing. "I’d like that."