He hated this shitty job. If someone picked up, it was always a nightmare. The script was trash, talking to people over the phone only drove his anxiety up the walls, the voice changer he used was garbage, and the pay wasn’t that great, but what else was a NEET going to get? Being a telemarketer was about the best he could hope for. Didn’t mean he had to ever like it, though. The numbers and names somewhat blurred together after a while, and he let out a yawn. Dial. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Answering machine, hang up. Thank fucking Christ. He crossed off another on the list. Okay, next number. Ichimatsu dialed it in, and surprisingly, someone picked up.
“...Hello, am I speaking to--” Ichimatsu almost looked at the paper, before a voice spoke up, distracting him from seeing who exactly this person was.
“Tokyo Pool Supplies and Brothel, here for all your wet-based needs, how’re ya doin’?”
…Fucking seriously? Someone finally picks up, and it’s--he paused. This was more amusing than any other of the calls he’d partaken in.
Fuck it. Wasn’t like his bosses were paying attention at the moment.
“Great, thanks. I was looking at two potential problems with my recent rentals though.”
“Aah, really?” Rustling. “We here at the Poothel are eager to please. What’s the issue, and how can we satisfy your needs today?” The guy was saying all of this without missing a beat. Ichimatsu had to contain a snort.
“I got the wrong size pool noodle. I own one far bigger already, and I was looking for one to play with mine.”
“...Common issue.” The guy on the other end was clearly biting back some laughter as well. “I may be of assistance. I’ve got one that has been voted biggest noodle several years running.”
“Oh yes. And I’m more than glad to let you borrow it for a bit. Might even give ya a discount since ya sound cute.” Okay, now the guy was snickering.
“How generous.” Ichimatsu deadpanned. “I might be interested. For a very specific purpose, too. There’s this hole, you see…” And now he himself was snickering. They were literally twelve years old. He was well aware that this was stupid. It was some dumbass taking a joke and running to Hell and back with it and him going with it. Yet it was making his day moreso than any other of his calls.
“It takes to holes really well, lemmie tell ya that. And from the sound of it, it’d really take to yours, I absolutely guarantee it.” The guy sounded totally sincere in flirting with him. “I’m up for supplying at any location, you know. Deliveries are all over the place these days. We could--”
They were looking. Ichimatsu bit his tongue.
“...Thank you for listening to my pitch, sir, and have a nice day.”
Regrettable that he had to hang up, but he did. He sighed. Ichimatsu stared at the number, then adamantly refused to cross it off. The name it was registered to was...Joseph Joestar. His head hit the desk as he let out a small, mildly amused sigh. Okay. The guy was apparently a professional bullshit artist in all senses of the word. At least having an otaku for a brother clued him in on the fact that that name was as bullshit as the concept of a ‘poolthel’. Still. He left it uncrossed.
He simply missed a number and he’d call again the next day. That was it.
“Akida Toolshed: nailing things the right way since 1987, can I help you?” Ichimatsu hadn’t even said anything this time. The guy was simply immediate, which would be impressive if half his jokes weren’t blatant innuendo.
“I’ve been looking for more material to put my power drill to and I thought I might find them here.”
“You’re--!” Ichimatsu faintly heard some rustling, and an obvious hand over the phone as the other male cracked up. Whether that was from his response or the fact that Ichimatsu had bothered to call again, he wasn’t sure. But they definitely recognized each other. “...You’re thinking correctly, loyal customer. I’ll warn you, though, it’s never easy to drill into new material. You’ve really gotta thrust it in.”
“I’m good at that.”
“That’s hot.” Okay, now Ichimatsu almost did crack up - a rare thing indeed, as the so-called Toolshed employee backpedaled, apparently not meaning to be that obvious. “I mean! Heat builds with the friction of those tools…”
“Smooth.” Ichimatsu teased, not even bothering to hide what he was doing at this point. The guy on the other end let out a small sigh.
“I’m...smooth. I’ve got a wide variety of tools of my own.”
“Unused?” Ichimatsu asked, a hint of smugness creeping into his tone. “Seems fresh out of the package to me.”
“...I’m just sayin’, I’m up for my package being handled any way you so please.”
“I gathered.” Ichimatsu glanced over. Nope. No stares as of yet. “...It’s a bit odd to try to hit on a telemarketer, you know.”
“You seem really fun for a cold caller. And your voice is nice. Most people would’ve hung up when I tried messing with them the first time. You actually called again. Admit it, you’re into it.”
“I just find it more entertaining than explaining a useless product to old people, being directed to voice mail, or being hung up on.”
“Y’know what? I’ll take that. And I’ll have fun with it. Every time you call.” He left the implication there that he imagined more calls between them to be taking place. Ichimatsu had to admire that kind of confidence, really.
Not that his imagination was wrong, of course. It became routine. Another fictional business, another fictional problem. Sometimes it devolved into them simply just...talking. And that was nice. Ichimatsu held onto the phone, a small smile on his face. “So then maybe you shouldn’t have tried to hedge all your allowance on pachinko.” What he’d gathered from their conversations so far was that the guy was around his age (if not his age exactly), he was a bit of a gambling addict, and he had a very odd line of thinking. “You seriously did it because there was a new machine with hot anime girls on it?”
“I’m weak. I’m only a man.”
“And here I thought we had something special.”
The man paused. “....Babe, we still do, trust you me, no anime girl is gonna step between that. I’m entirely serious when I say this: talking to you is a highlight of my day.” He sounded truly sincere. “And, uh…” He was hesitant. Ichimatsu blinked.
“If you’d want to tell me your name and we go on an actual date sometime, I’d really like to take you. My treat.”
“You wasted all your money before.” Ichimatsu pointed out, but only softly.
“I’d find a way. Don’t worry.”
He looked down. “...Let me think about it, alright? I’ll give you an answer tomorrow. I can’t promise you’d like me if we actually met. I’m far less confident in person.”
“I’ll like you no matter what.” He sounded so sincere that it made Ichimatsu’s cheeks light up a bit. “I’ve talked to you so many times and I actively want to take you on a real date instead of just asking you to bang me. That says a lot.” It was a joke, but it also seemed sincere. And did he want to consider this guy for a real date? ...Actually, yeah. He had a great sense of humor, and the few times he’d brought up his own stories, a few about cats he’d seen, he’d paid attention and actually followed up on them (“Hey, how’s that russian blue doing? He was a little skinny, right? Did he get any bigger?”). He was really, genuinely worth giving a try to. In truth, he already had a bit of a crush on him, which was horrifying to admit to himself. Ichimatsu let out a small snicker.
“...Okay. Then tell me your real name.” Best to know that now, then.
“Matsuno Osomatsu. This is my cellphone.” Ichimatsu nearly dropped the phone. “Sorry for the fake name, too. That was kind of a silly joke to make fun of one of my brothers with…” Osomatsu chuckled nervously. Ichimatsu stared down at the desk in front of him, a mix of wanting to throw up, laugh, and cry. “...Hey, you still there?”
“I have to go.”
“Wait, do I know you--?! Tell me who you are, please--!! Don’t hang up!” He ignored the desperate plea as he hung up. Ichimatsu stared off into the middle distance. The person he’d been making jokes with. The person he always looked forward to speaking to every day. He hadn’t recognized his voice. It was stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid!
The person he was nursing a bad crush on based on phone conversations alone was his own goddamn brother.
He should’ve known his voice. Should’ve picked up on something, anything. But he didn’t. And now he felt queasy thinking on it. Yet he sat there, thinking about dating that guy he didn’t know, and he’d been over the moon with the idea. He didn’t open up to many people, but he could talk to him easily - he just had that way about him, where you just wanted to tell him things, to trust him. The same way that Osomatsu had. The figure shifted and changed into his brother, and yet he still melted into his arms. Still looked into his eyes, begging him to kiss him, because he was scared to make the move himself. The kiss was life-changing….and now it was clear that it was because it was incest. That changed a life, alright.
He dry-heaved, trying to comprehend what was going on. Osomatsu didn’t know, he’d never even told him he’d picked up a job. He’d only just realized, himself. He sat there, staring at his hands, and luckily, somewhere between him coming to this realization and finally zoning back in, it had become time to clock out. Ichimatsu slowly got up, exiting the building, and beginning the walk home. He stopped at an alleyway nearby, peeking in as he saw a familiar russian blue. The little guy had grown since he’d started feeding him, and he’d taken a firm liking to him. He smiled softly as he approached, nuzzling his hand.
“...At least your problems are at an end now, huh?” His voice was a near whisper as he pet the little thing, taking out the packet of dried sardines he left in the bag he took to and from work every day, and fed him one, gently petting the little cat. He shut his eyes, then slowly opened them, looking at the cat as if he knew the answers to everything. “What do I even do? If I’m honest, that could ruin everything forever. My brother and I might not be able to look each other in the eyes ever again. If I’m not honest, I’d...break my own heart.” A little mew. Ichimatsu chuckled softly. “I wish I could understand what that meant. Bet you’re wiser than I am.”
He got up, beginning to walk away. Back down the street, past a--pachinko parlor. There he was. He was still at the parlor. Or he’d come back. Osomatsu was staring at a machine like it’d just insulted him and his entire family in one fell swoop, pure annoyance in his eyes. Ichimatsu blinked, bit into his lip - hard - but walked over. “Bad day, niisan?”
Osomatsu blinked, snapping out of his annoyed trance. “Sorta.” He sighed. “My luck hasn’t been the best, and...can you keep a secret for me here?”
“Yes.” Ichimatsu nodded. Osomatsu looked down, then back up.
“So we both know how desperate virgin NEETs we are. I’m probably the worst of us all. We both know that, too.” Ichimatsu had to stop a slightly amused half-smile from appearing on his face as Osomatsu continued. “I...took up a habit of answering any phonecall to my new cellphone lately. Just to see if it worked as well as the guy at the shop said. And the second call I got was from this cold caller. He was going to try to sell me something, but I started messing around with him. I made a joke, and he actually went along with it. He made me laugh, too. It was just so odd, that he’d waste his time on someone obviously bullshitting him, but he did. And I--” His voice faltered for a few seconds.
“I’ve always thought I was just into girls, but the first emotional connection I’ve ever made that makes me really want to ask them on a date and really see if something could work...it’s a guy. But I don’t mind.” There was a smile on his face that if Ichimatsu were a weaker man, he would’ve completely melted then and there. “I don’t even know this guy’s name, but we made a habit of him calling me every day for the past week or so and he’s a little sarcastic and a little deadpan, but he’s really caring, and he’s got an obnoxious load of patience. And he’s genuinely funny, too. So, I--” Osomatsu sighed, showing his true reason for annoyance. “I’ve been trying to win big here, and it’s not working. I need the money, because I really want to take this guy on a date that makes him happy. I don’t even know if he really, really wants to go out with me, but we’ve flirted so much…”
Ichimatsu had to actively force a blush from coming to his face. It wasn’t because there were cute girls on a machine, like he’d said over the phone. He was trying to win for his sake. Because he wanted to try to make him happy. He stood there, before Osomatsu got a small grin on his face again. “Oi, Ichi. I think one of your friends followed you here.” He looked down at his feet. The russian blue had followed him all the way there, and nuzzled against his leg when noticed, looking at him and blinking slowly. “...Aah, he really does trust you, huh?” Osomatsu snickered. “That’s really cute. And he’s a russian blue, too…”
Ichimatsu’s throat ran dry. “Since when did you know anything about cats?”
“Ah, um…” Osomatsu rubbed the back of his neck shyly, a small nervous chuckle escaping him. “The guy I like, he really likes cats too, I think. So I’ve been looking stuff up. I know you’re more of an expert than me, but I thought knowing stuff would really impress him.” He admitted softly, barely meeting eyes with Ichimatsu before crouching down and gently extending a hand. “...Hey there, little guy. Y’wanna be friends?” The cat looked at Osomatsu and his extended hand before walking over, letting him gently stroke his back, a wide grin forming on Osomatsu’s face. “Aww. Maybe you could be my lucky charm, yeah?”
It was taking everything within Ichimatsu’s willpower not to stand there with a completely red face, watching the scene before him. He’d tried to get money to genuinely pay for a date, AND he’d bothered trying to learn about cats for his sake. He was being so earnest, so sincere in his attempt to try to win over him, of all people. Human filth. And he’d have to be honest with him at this rate, but his voice was failing him. “...Ichi? You okay?” Osomatsu raised a brow, looking up at him. Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck. No doubt his face was a little twisted from the realizations. Ichimatsu nodded quickly, but flipped the hood up of his hoodie, something he only did when he was truly embarrassed, and ran out.
Once he was sure he was far enough away, he covered his face with both arms, let it start burning the red that it so avidly wanted to do, and let out an anguished groan into his arms. No. No. This could not be happening. He could not be having it this bad for his big brother. But he was being so genuine. So sweet. He was doing what he could. He felt another presence at his feet. He looked down.
“Osomatsu!” ESP kitty. Of course. “I want to kiss Osomatsu!”
“...Please don’t say that.” Ichimatsu weakly protested.
“I want to date my big brother!” ESP kitty looked up at him innocently. “I want him to love me. If he wanted to be boyfriends, I’d say yes, even if it’s weird.”
“I--no. No.” Ichimatsu’s protest came more firm.
“I’m not the type of person he’d like, though. I’m not sexy. I wanna cry.”
“So I’ll just be content that he’s in my life. That’s all I need. As long as Osomatsu’s happy, I am, too.”
Ichimatsu started crying. His breath turned shaky. He sank to the ground.
“Why am I such a freak?” Even ESP kitty’s voice seemed twinged with sympathy. “I’m a horrible younger brother.” He rubbed himself against Ichimatsu’s side, going quiet. Ichimatsu didn’t move for a while. “I’m going home.” He stood up, and began to walk home once more.
Ichimatsu arrived home and slowly drudged himself into the living room. Most everyone was there, apart from...of course. He was still missing. Ichimatsu almost seemed relieved. He took a seat on the floor, Jyushimatsu scooting over to sit next to him. “Ichimatsu-niisan!” He chirped. “...You seem stressed.” So much as everyone liked to claim Jyushimatsu was a complete space case with no comprehension skills whatsoever, Ichimatsu knew that to not be the truth. He was strangely perceptive when he wanted to be. The younger of the two looked around to make sure everyone else was distracted somehow. “Is it something with work?”
“Sort of.” Ichimatsu couldn’t tell him. He knew that Jyushimatsu wouldn’t hate him or judge him for it, his little brother’s love pretty much came unconditionally for everyone. And even if the world were against him, Jyushimatsu would be the first to take his side. No questions asked. Jyushimatsu paused for a few seconds, taking on that face he took when he was deep in thought, eyes scanning across his older brother’s face.
“It’s one of those things you can’t say everything about, huh…” He was right on the money. Ichimatsu nodded. Jyushimatsu nodded in return...then patted him softly on the hand. He knew that his older brother was sensitive, and no doubt he wanted to hug him right now just to try to squeeze the bad feelings out of him, but he knew just as well that it was better for Ichimatsu himself to initiate physical contact. Ichimatsu paused, then slowly leaned over, wrapping his arms around him in a hug. He wrapped his arms around him. “It’s okay, niisan. I’m here for you. Everything’s going to be okay.”
“No. It’s not.” Ichimatsu whispered.
“Why not?” Jyushimatsu paused. “If you’re okay with saying.”
“I’m going to ruin everything because I’m in love with someone I shouldn’t be.”
“Ah…” Jyushimatsu’s tone was very, deeply sympathetic. “...are they leaving, too?” Homura. Of course he was thinking of Homura.
“No. That’s the problem. I’ve known them for too long. And if they knew…”
“They should be glad that you like them, then. You’re a catch, niisan.” Jyushimatsu was always immediate with the upbeat replies - he’d long since figured that this was a deliberate tactic on his little brother’s part to try to get him away from the self-deprecating thoughts he had so often. There was, sometimes, a method to the madness there, and for everything that it was worth, Jyushimatsu’s emotional sensitivity was one of his best traits. “Who is it? Totoko-chan? Chibita? ...It’s not someone really really weird, right? Because if you like someone like, I dunno, Iyami or something--”
“Gross. Don’t make me throw up. You know literally 99% of the population of the Earth has higher standards than that.” Ichimatsu’s response came, deadpan. Jyushimatsu laughed. “...And no. It’s not Totoko-chan or Chibita. It’s--it’s someone weird. Not in the way you’d think, but…”
“Eh? Eh?” Jyushimatsu pulled back, looking Ichimatsu in the eyes. “I have very high standards, niisan. If this is a confession of forbidden love, you absolutely have to meet those standards.” Three firm nods. He was joking. But it still hit closer to the truth than he liked.
Ichimatsu’s response was still joking, however. “I like baseball.”
Jyushimatsu placed both of his hands to his face in mock surprise. “Oh no! You’re meeting all my standards!” He flailed lightly, his sleeves flapping in distress before he started laughing again. “...Seriously, though. Are you okay with telling me?”
Ichimatsu looked around. He sighed. Then he leaned in, and whispered. “...It’s Osomatsu-niisan, alright?” Jyushimatsu’s eyes widened a tad, but he merely let out a little ‘huh,’ looking at Ichimatsu as if to ask why. “I--you know I call people for work now. I called him, I didn’t know it was him, and we started flirting over the phone. Then I found out it was him.”
“So he has no idea.”
“He tried to ask me out earlier today. I panicked. Then later I found him at a pachinko parlor, and he said he was trying to win big so he could ask a guy out. He felt at ease with the guy. He actually took the time to sit down and look up things about cats just to impress the guy.”
“Oh.” Jyushimatsu’s eyes were the size of dinner plates. “He...really is dedicated this time, huh.”
“And I’d say yes.” Ichimatsu shook a bit. “I know all the details, and I’d still say yes. I shouldn’t. But…”
“Niisan. It’s your life. If you wanna say yes then say yes. No one can stop you! ...And if anyone tries, Osomatsu-niisan would probably beat them up. And if he didn’t I would.”
“Even if I wasn’t terrified of the fact that we’re siblings and that he has no idea who I am, I’m not his type at all.”
“He actually is thinking about you with no sex involved yet.” Jyushimatsu pointed out. “Clearly you’re more his type than a lot of people.”
“I…” Ichimatsu looked down. That was when the front door opened, closed, and then Osomatsu walked into the living room, looking all-too-pleased with himself. “...” Jyushimatsu resisted making a face, especially when Ichimatsu looked at Osomatsu, and he subtly winked, as if to tell him that his luck had turned around after all and that he actually did excel at gambling after he left.
Ichimatsu was silent, but smiled lightly.
He’d have to tell him tomorrow.
“Shibuya Deli: Our meat can’t be beat, what can I do ya for?” Heeeeeeere we go. Ichimatsu let in a small breath away from the phone, snickering the slightest bit. “Oh! Hey! It’s you! My luck turned around yesterday!! It was amazing!” Well, that was confirmation enough. “The weird thing was that one of my little brothers came in with this little cat like the one you’ve talked about. I think he was a lucky charm. So I started calling him Charmy after a while. He was pretty loyal, almost like he really loved and trusted me right away.” Charmy. Ichimatsu was ridiculously endeared and compromised. “So...did you think about that question yesterday?”
“You still don’t know anything personally about me. I could be someone you really wouldn’t want to see.”
“Are you over the age of 45?”
“Are you under the age of 19?”
“Are you a lizard person?”
“...” Ichimatsu laughed, just the smallest bit in sheer disbelief. “Well. About that…”
“Normally I’d refuse to date a reptile, but I’m willing to make an exception.” Osomatsu was quick on the draw again. But then quietly, more affectionately… “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you really laugh. “You should more often. It’s really cute.”
“I--I…” Ichimatsu was completely weak. Osomatsu’s tone remained gentle, kind, soft. Signs that he was really in love with him.
“I don’t care what you look like. That might be surprising since most people think I’m one of the most shallow people alive, but I’m not into you because I think you might be some kind of model. I don’t care about dumb physical attributes at all, really. Fuck, I didn’t even know I was into guys until I kept talking to you, and I still don’t know if I like all sorts of guys, or just you. I don’t care. I want to date you. You’re the one I’m interested in, you’re the one I’ll find beautiful no matter what. And I don’t even care if you’re hiding some kind of deep dark secret, I just...I trust you there, too. I can’t stop thinking about you, even if--you scared me yesterday, and I tried to, I really did, and I know this is scary but I promise I’ll make you happy somehow. I’ll get a job, I’ll be responsible for us, I just need a little time to do it. So please, please...give me a chance? Just one?” A small pause. “God, I’m sorry, I must sound desperate--”
“Don’t apologize.” Ichimatsu heard his own voice, choked up. Osomatsu caught onto that fact.
“Please don’t cry, babe…”
“I won’t.” Ichimatsu let out a shaky sigh. “We can meet. I’ll show up around 5 today around Akida Mall. You’ll...you’ll know which person is me.”
“You’re okay with that?” Osomatsu asked. “I didn’t want to pressure you into it, but I didn’t want to lose my shot. If you’re not, we can, I dunno, just keep with this.”
“I’m fine with it.” Ichimatsu stated, firm. “It’s best you know. Then if you’re still interested...we can go from there.”
“Okay.” Osomatsu replied. “...I just hope that I don’t disappoint in person. Heh. I’ll do my best.”
“You couldn’t disappoint me if you tried.”
The mall was fairly crowded. As could be expected. Osomatsu arrived around the time they’d agreed upon, and immediately began looking around for head or hair of the person he’d spent so many days talking on the phone with. Belatedly, he realized that he’d never gotten any kind of physical detail about the person, which was making this search incredibly difficult. That is, until he felt a presence against one of his legs. He looked down, and then immediately grinned. “Charmy! Hey, pal!” He crouched down. The cat blinked slowly, affectionately at him. “Aww. It’s nice to see you too.” Then the cat began marching forward, looking behind him as if to see if Osomatsu was following, and after a mere second of contemplation, he followed after. Charmy led him right to… “Oh. Ichimatsu. What’re you doing here?”
“I…” Ichimatsu hesitated, looking him in the eyes. There was hesitance written all over his features, nerves getting the better of him, fear eclipsing his usual stoic nature. Osomatsu raised a brow, before it all clicked. Ichimatsu seemed to realize when he’d put the pieces together, too, and Osomatsu looked down, and then back up again, while Ichimatsu kept his eyes trained on the ground.
“It was you.”
Ichimatsu winced as if he’d been punched. “Yes.”
Osomatsu’s tone turned soft once more. “Hey. Look at me.” Ichimatsu obediently tilted his head back up, only to be met with a very small smile. That alone made his heart stop. “I gotta admit. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t even know you got a job. But I guess it should’ve been obvious, in a way. No other guy loves cats like you do.” Ichimatsu laughed weakly, but froze, stiffening up as he felt one hand slowly take one of his hands, the other stroking his cheek tenderly. “You were so worried.”
“How could I not be?” Ichimatsu questioned, but leaned into his touch. “You had no idea who I was. I was--I was scared. I know your type, and it isn’t me. Not by any stretch of the word.” Osomatsu hummed, but didn’t move.
“You would’ve been right, except for the fact that you single-handedly changed that. Congrats. I’m proud of you.” Osomatsu snickered softly, as Ichimatsu blinked in surprise.
“I’m going to get you right there in revenge for hanging up on me.” Osomatsu cut him off, gently drawing in their faces together before they were kissing. They were kissing, and Ichimatsu was struck with disbelief, and his lips were soft, so soft and inviting. Ichimatsu just...couldn’t help but indulge. “...Imagine that. First kiss from someone who really likes me, and it’s from my little brother.”
“...Aren’t you disgusted?” Ichimatsu asked quietly. “We’re...not supposed to be like this.”
“I don’t care.” Osomatsu shook his head. “Besides. I’ve always liked when my cute, quiet brother tells niisan he loves him, anyway...this is just in a different way. Are /you/ disgusted?”
“....” Ichimatsu silently snuggled himself closer to him, possessively wrapping his arms around him. Charmy softly nuzzled his leg, and Osomatsu snickered.
“I guess that’s the best answer I could ever get.”