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Everything is different in Japan than from when they were in California.

When they went to In-n-Out for Double Doubles and shakes or walked to the Footlocker to go look at the new Nike Air Max, they joked and laughed in Japanese and scattered English, living in their own world, caught up in each other with an ease fostered from long times spent practicing on the court, ribbing and insulting each other's plays, watching taped games and beating anyone who stood against them. They would take the bus and talk about if Alex is ever going to get a boyfriend, go to the bookshop to cool down in the air conditioning with watchful store owners keeping an eye on them as they jammed themselves into corners flipping through basketball magazines, or when they would take shoes down from high shelves to poke and prod at the newest sole designs. They were just kids, and there were a ton of kids who wandered around LA, speaking in Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese, and English, like it was nothing.

When they go out shopping here, the both of them are so tall they hover over the sea of heads in the more crowded districts. Sometimes people stop them and ask if they can take their pictures which never happened in the States, though mostly it's for Himuro who's face is an outlier now no matter where he goes. They go to a ton of clothing stores just to find a few places that will have Kagami's size, walking with each other awkwardly, debating what colors don't clash with red and whether or not Kagami should dye his hair while laughing and people sometimes stare at them, wondering at the oddity of two Japanese boys who are so tall speaking to each other in English without any accent, using each other's names without honorifics.

Most of all it's not as easy as it was before when they were kids, going around doing whatever they felt like that day, jumping from place to place they didn't know because they were sure in the fact of each other. Himuro says something disparaging about one of Murasakibara's more exotic snack flavors and the state of Japanese conbini food and Kagami smiles and says he's such a returnee, playfully bumping him in the shoulder and that one visible eye widens a bit in the pause before Himuro smiles in return, like he wasn't sure what being together like this again would be like, forgetting the easy slide back into their own personal space, where everyone else sort of just fades back and the passage of time doesn't matter. So they continue on trying to brush off all the things that are different here- their forgetfulness, how they sometimes can't look each other in the eye and there's no Alex's house to return to, how Kagami can't just walk back with Himuro to his house and stay over to watch the newest episode of Criminal Minds.

But the more time they spend together, the more it doesn't even matter.

At the food stalls they pay in change and walk along, jostling elbows when cramming to the side of the street for a bicycle passing, perfectly comfortable to continue on just as close, stealing a taste of whatever's left of each other's food, slowly being reminded what it's like being in each other's space so naturally. Kagami will talk about how much he hates it when Kuroko comes up behind him with Nigou, because it's bad enough when it's just him, and Himuro will say the same thing as always, that they might have to return to the conditioning they tried when they were kids by watching Air Bud five times with a stuffed dog toy. They make it to the train station still dropping honorifics because even though they've moved back they aren't used to it with each other, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks because there's a way Himuro softly says Taiga that Kagami can't shake off no matter where they are, and a way Kagami hoarsely says Tatsuya that breaks Himuro's heart.

"Don't be such an idiot and wait three years before calling me again Tatsuya."

"You mean don't be such an idiot Taiga and give the wrong return mail address on your letters."

And Taiga huffs and mutters and Tatsuya laughs and they linger a little too long in each other's space before they leave, and it's not too painful because at the start of the trip home Tatsuya's phone vibrates and there's the address, typed out with a postscript that he knew was sincere ever since they were kids,

Come over anytime.

 

~