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Dinner was… civil at the very least. Not that dinner was normally anything else, but the relationship between his parents (mother) and him was strenuous at best. Meals, more technically dinner, was the only time they could be in the same room without the danger of things turning into an argument. Usumi was oblivious to the tense atmosphere, she dozed peacefully from her place snugly in the baby carrier on his back. He could feel his father observe him with something akin to worry, in contrast to his mother’s sharp glare of disdain.

The duty of cooking had fallen to him a long time ago, neither of his parents had learned in their youth so he’d decided to pick up the skill in middle school. Now it had become a safe haven, something he could do and not worry about earning a look of disapproval from his mother. The knife and cutting board clicked as he cut a slab of beef into cubes, dinner would be beef stew. Tonight would end out differently than normal, call it a git feeling, but something told him dinner would not consist of the usual grave yeard silence it normally had. He still wasn’t sure if that was good or bad, with the situation at hand it could go either way.

He cast his parents a wayward glance; dad was reading the evening paper while mom and through some work-related documents. With a small sigh he returned his attention to the task at hand, scooping up the meat cubes and placing them in the pot with the simmering broth. Ever since last June, the house had become something like a war zone, with his mother butting heads with him near constantly. After Usumi’s arrival in October, things had lightened up, if only slightly.

“It can’t really be helped, it wasn't easy for any of us.” He thought sadly.

Really, he just wished that his mother could let go and accept what he’d done, however accidental it had been. Usumi changed position in her sleep, moving her head so that now her right cheek rested against the space between his shoulder blades. His lips twitched into a small smile. He loved his daughter with all his heart, and never once resented her for all the trouble her existence and entitled him. She was his precious daughter; practically his reason for living. At least mother seemed to tolerate her presence in the house.

The chime of the cooking timer brought him out of his thoughts, bringing him back to the present. He slicked off the heat and reached over to cab the three bowls to his left that he’d set aside. He gingerly set the three bowls onto a trey along with the needed number of spoons before making his way to the dinner table. Usumi would be nursed after dinner, as the young girl was just still barely younger than two months old. He set the trey down so that his parents could take whichever bowl that caught their fancy before making his way to his room. He carefully removed the baby carrier before removing Usumi from it and placing her in her crib for the time being. When he returned, he was mildly surprised to find that his parents hadn’t started eating yet, despite the fact that the papers were no longer on the table. He remained silent as he took his own bowl of dinner and sat down.

The three ate in silence for several long minutes. Each of them kept their eyes down at their dinner, not even bothering with small talk. Five months now and it was still the same, he missed before when they’d all chat about their day. Finally he noticed his father had stopped eating, spoon resting on the lip of his bowl.

“Yu, Dojima and I talked about what happened yesterday,” His father started.

He inwardly grimaced. Yesterday had been his third break down in the last 6 months- he was well aware this his uncle Dojima was kept up to date with their current events, but it was still something he’d rather not talk, or even think about.

“Would you like to take Usumi and spend winter break in Inaba?”

He hadn’t been anticipating the question despite the fact that it shouldn’t have been all that surprising. He knew that his uncle was worried about him ever since he’d been unable to his ‘that’ any longer. His mother didn’t look at him the entire time, he attention focused on eating her stew. He wasn’t offended, the action no longer bothered him like it used to.

“The change of scenery could do you and Usumi some good, and He’s told me than Nanako is very eager to meet her baby ‘neice’.” His father continued.

With the proposition now on the table, his father resumed eating dinner.

He’d never really considered returning to Inaba. Not because he didn’t like the sleepy little town or its inhabitance, but simply the thought had never crossed his mind. He knew why Dojima had brought it up; three mental break downs in such rapid succession was concerning, and with how home and school life was treating him nowadays, it was understandable that the man would worry about the mental health of his old charge. Should he go? All of his friends lived in Inaba, but ‘he’ also lived in Inaba. And it wasn’t like his parents weren't aware that Inaba was where ‘it’ had happened.

He’d managed to deflect the question thus far, but that was mostly because the forceful, demanding approaches his parents took made it easy to clam up. Dojima would without a doubt try to coax the answer from him instead of prying it from him like his mother. He was content living his life as a single parent, and letting ‘him’ live his life oblivious to the truth, but the adults in his family weren't of that mindset. What to do, what to do.

Dinner ended in silence, his father collected dirty dishes. With that silent dismissal, he returned to his room. Usumi was no longer asleep, she looked up at him with bright eyes. She showed the telltale signs of a hungry infant as he wiggled a finger near her mouth. With a soft exhale of breath he lifted her up into his arms, it was time for her dinner as well.

“Maybe I should go, stop running away from it all,"

He entered the living room with a fed Usumi in arm and looked at his father.

“I’ll go.” He answered softly.