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“I suck at laundry.”

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“Thanks for helping me out, Makoto,” Kiryu says, hauling a big plastic basket over to the washing machine.

Date smiles as he opens the machine, the smell of wet, clean fabric hitting him in the face. “It’s nothing. I mean, I’m never here, so when I am around, I’ve gotta help out.”

Kiryu grabs a handful of fabric and dumps it into the washing basket. “Hey, don’t make it sound like you’re lazy. You’re not here a lot because you’re working,” he says. Making sure Date understands how much he appreciates him, Kiryu adds, “You work hard, doing all your… journalist stuff.”

Okay, that didn’t come out the way he planned it. Why must everything sound better in his head?

Date chuckles, reaching for a sock stuck at the back of the washing machine before shutting the door. “Thanks, Kaz. But don’t forget how hard you work.”

Kiryu clears his throat awkwardly. “Um… thank you.”

“See, it’s embarrassing, isn’t it?” Date says, nudging him.

“I guess you’re right.” Kiryu stands up, the heavy basket no problem for him, and heads out into the yard. Date follows him, and Kiryu glances over his shoulder, adding, “I asked Rikiya to walk the dog. Hanging out the laundry is a nightmare with Mame around.”

That makes Date laugh, and even Kiryu chuckles at the memory; he certainly learned the hard way that his dog can and will steal clothes from the basket when you try to hang them out, and you’ll never get them back.

“Yeah, sounds about right,” Date says. “I mean, Izumi’s doing a good job training him, but Mame’s still pretty disobedient, right?”

“I think he just enjoys being naughty,” Kiryu says. Once out in the yard, he sets down the basket and strings up the washing line, also glad he remembered to do this when the kids are at school (he still remembers a dirty soccer ball colliding with a freshly washed sheet, and Taichi’s sheepish grin). “Can you get the pegs? They’re near Mame’s kennel.”

“Oh, sure thing,” Date says, hurrying over to the kennel and locating the box full of plastic pegs. “Here.”

Kiryu smiles. “Thanks, Makoto. Let’s get started before that dog comes home and joins in.”

“Good idea.”

For a couple of minutes, Kiryu tones out Date’s presence and the sounds of the ocean, totally focused on his task. Slowly and carefully, like he’s chopping onions (a task he still sucks at), Kiryu hangs sheets over the washing line and secures them in place with a few pegs. But when he crouches down to grab a bundle of underwear to hang up next, Kiryu notices Date again. And he stares.

Date grits his jaw in concentration, watching the sheet he hung up start slipping, about to fall, and darts closer to correct it. But then the other end starts to slip instead.

“Are you okay, Makoto?” Kiryu says, adjusting the sheet for him and stepping back.

“Uh, yeah. It’s just… I suck at laundry.”


“I mean I’m awful at this stuff,” he says.

“How exactly?” Kiryu asks, tilting his head.

Date smirks. “I haven’t done it in twenty years or so. One time, my ex-wife asked me to hang the laundry out to dry, but I did it wrong, and all our underwear blew into next door’s yard. Cue the neighbours seeing her bra, and she kind of banned me from doing it.”

Kiryu desperately suppresses a laugh. “I… see. What about after the divorce?”

“I just got everything dry cleaned. This is my first time seeing wet laundry for a long time. So… I suck,” Date says, chuckling.

This time, Kiryu can’t help but laugh. “Sorry. That’s just… so funny, Makoto.”

Pretending to be annoyed, Date mutters, “Oh shut it.”

“Well, as you’re so bad at laundry, do you want to go start dinner instead?” Kiryu says, still close to laughter. “I can do this by myself.”

“That’s a good plan, Kaz,” Date says, and he gives Kiryu a nudge in the ribs. “At least I’m better at chopping onions than you.”

Kiryu snorts and gives him a kiss.