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Waiting on the Warmth

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You came to play, I can't today
I'm on, I'm on my way home
You come my ways, I can't delay
I'm not the one to wait on

("Waiting on the Warmth" by MorMor)

Yamato is a very bad date.

Daisuke, meanwhile, excels.

It exceeds logic, to the point that he feels a headache coming on strong just at the sight of the pair, folded over their table so closely entwined they might as well be part of the decor. It'd fit, actually. The entire shop is rather kitschy, if not downright offensive, a mashup of pastels and florals and gushing art deco adverts fixed into ornate picture frames. The menu isn't any better; everything has sugar, including the coffee, and asking for a cup without some kind of confectionary addition is evidently not done around these parts, the barista returning such a blank look of incomprehension that Yamato had been forced to take the first thing he could read off the cursive menu: a cinnamon brown sugar latte that he still can't bring himself to drink.

It's cold now, and he puts his face in his hand, the pads of his thumb and his middle finger making small, slow circles to either temple. His eyes are shut tight, which is why he doesn't see her plop herself down in the spare seat at his table until it's far too late to do anything about it.

"You're not a very good spy," decides Mimi, opining in that unasked-for sort of way of hers.

He keeps his eyes closed, and keeps massaging his head. "I'm not spying."

"Well, not right now," she agrees. "Right now you seem to be in the telekinetic part of this plan to...what? One up Taichi on overprotective brother of the year?"

"He asked me to drive him," says Yamato, upset mostly by his offering up any further detail at all. How she gets him to do this, he still hasn't figured out. He thinks she'd be quite good at extraction, but abysmal at retention, if she were the spy.

Mimi swings a leg over the other, her wedge heels a hair's length from socking him in the kneecap. "You could have said no." Except they both know he couldn't have, and wouldn't. All Takeru had to do was breathe, and Yamato would be there, extra soft tissues, cough suppressant, nasal spray, and fresh honey for the soon-to-follow cup of tea at the ready.

She's sitting now not with her back to the frame of the chair but her hip, turned so that she can (very obviously) observe the two of them where they still cuddle up in the corner, their own backs facing the rest of the cafe. Takeru's talking nonstop, animated and cheerful, and Daisuke's looking at him like there couldn't be anything else in the world meant for his ears but this. She tucks a chin in her palm, smiling. "They are pretty cute."

He means to agree, but it comes out like a grunt, raspy. "It's not that," he clarifies quickly when she glances at him, incredulous that he might dare disagree with so plain an assessment. "It's just—he's good." 

"Who, Daisuke?" She nods, answering herself. "Oh, I agree. That smile, those eyes. And he's got that stupid cute thing going for him, too. Makes you want to put him in your pocket and carry him around with you all day, like a little toy dog."

Yamato does not relate to this in the slightest, but at least the general direction of the comment matches his original point. He looks to the pair in the corner again, and can't pin it down, exactly, what it feels like to see his brother made happy in a way he still can't seem to work out for himself. "I know it's not luck," he says, to himself again, or maybe to her. "But I don't know what else it could be."

Mimi studies him, chin tilted just so. "I have a thought."

"When do you not?"

"Strike one, Ishida." She scoots her chair closer, bending her knees so her ankles cross together under her seat. It's like she's about to share a covetous secret, or otherwise break some sobering news, her hands so neatly folded as they are over each other on the tabletop. "Dating is hard work. You're building to something, if you want to do it seriously, anyway. And you can't build something on a weak foundation."

He suspects, without much further prodding, that the implication is he's the weak foundation, and he ought to be cross with her again. Only he isn't, and can't, because he agrees. He sits back, looking anywhere else but at them, or at her. "I don't find it easy to open up to people," he says, as though this might be new information. "Especially on dates."

"Yeah, I know," she says, rolling her eyes.

"What do you know?" he asks, puzzled.

She stares at him, smile frozen. "You're not serious."

Yamato just stares right back, and she gasps, mouth and eyes in perfect circles.

"Oh, ho, ho, we're just trying everything possible to barrel right over strike two, aren't we?" She slams a fist on the table, violently shaking the latte cup on its saucer, and making him jump in his seat-along with everyone else in the open plan room. "Ishida, you were my first date! Are you seriously telling me you don't remember? In junior high? The ice cream parlor after the school trip to the skating rink?" She's screeching now, "Am I that forgettable to you?"

Like quicksand, he's gone, sunk and dumb. A beat later, he mumbles, honest, "...that was a date?"

The anger dissipates so suddenly he suspects it had never really meant to crystallize as such. Instead, she falls back in her chair, laughing. "See! This is what you do. You spend all your time lost in your own head. Come out into the light sometime, okay?" She motions with her hands, miming for him to come closer. "Or the dark. We have fun on that side, too," and she winks, giggling.

Yamato shakes his head, more at himself than her shameless gaiety, and steals another glance at Daisuke and Takeru in the corner, who've barely noticed the spectacle she's making. He drags his gaze back to her, determined not to become preoccupied by them. "You're telling me you've never had a bad date?"

She sees right through the attempted diversion, but can never pass up the opportunity to talk about herself. "Everyone has to take the good with the bad. Including me," she adds, as though admitting something truly egregious. "On our first date, Taichi showed up forty minutes late, without any shoes, and wearing what I am now pretty sure was Koushiro's underwear."

Yamato takes great care not to spend any time thinking about how she'd come to know such a thing, or indeed how she'd know the difference in either's intimate apparel. He defers the conversation before it can make his blush more apparent, "Yeah, I've heard the story."

"Not all of it, you haven't," she says, and he braces himself, grimacing, but her eyes are warm and soft. "It was prom, and my actual date hadn't showed up, so Taichi did. I still don't know how he knew, but all that matters is that he did." She sighs, dreamy. "So, no, dates don't always have to be good. But they do need to be meaningful, in whatever way only the right person can make them."

But Yamato has already accepted this; that's never been the issue.

Intuiting the look on his face, Mimi reaches across the table and covers his hand in hers. "You'll find yours, Yamato."

His wrist turns instinctively, so their palms touch, and she can better curl her fingers through his. "And if I don't?"

She squeezes back, smiling with the clearest of eyes, "Then I'll shrink you down, and carry you around in my pocket."

He makes a face. "Jesus, that really does sound awful."

Mimi slaps his palm, sticking out her tongue. "Strike three."