Title: We could play house.
Pairing: Souta/Wakaba (Zenkai Girl)
Summary: Souta and Wakaba and how they cannot agree and then they try and then they agree to keep trying.
A/N: My dearest Reen. For you. I remember our weekly discussions on this show, so long ago and it just seems fitting that I could only think of a sugary sweet epilogue for you ♥
They start with small steps. Souta teaching her how to cook, the proper type of cooking that includes more than just pulling together whatever’s in the fridge and throwing it into a pan. Wakaba tries to explain the constitution. It ends with one of them laughing and the other frustrated. It ends with usually Souta laughing and Wakaba frustrated. He silences her agitation with a kiss.
They try to do normal things. They try to walk through the park, the absence of Hinata and Emitaro on either side of them too noticeable. They try to ride the train together, except their shoulders bump and he remarks that she once attempted to threaten him with a lawsuit for harassment. They try to do things that should be normal, that could be what makes other people bond and they just find something off putting, something lacking and something wrong.
Wakaba pops edamame out of the pod and into her mouth, she doesn’t give them to Souta. He will watch her as she pores over book, taxation law as dull as drying paint.
They try to find a pace. It’s a little bit tricky.
Wakaba sometimes picks Hinata up from school. She’s not sure why, because she’s not a babysitter anymore and Hinata doesn’t need someone to escort her from school and then to the train station, then to home. Instead, Hinata has Wakaba escort her to the library. She sits across her at the tables, schoolbooks open and she asks Wakaba if she’s still with Pillbug. If Wakaba hasn’t scared him off with her small, cramped apartment and cut-off jersey.
They sometimes go through books. Not the books that Hinata reads at school, not fairytales or education stories about a very hungry caterpillar, but books about places like Paris and Okinawa and Shanghai. Hinata asks her to describe all these places and Wakaba dutifully tells her the estimated temperatures and winds in summer and winter. She lists things to do, to sight see. Hinata closes her eyes and she pretends.
Wakaba wishes it could be that easy.
Souta thinks about Paris and Okinawa and Shanghai. He thinks about learning how to cook foie gras, about catching fresh crab to throw right into the pan, to roll up dumplings so they’re neat and tiny.
Souta dusts off the stove and scrubs the grime off Wakaba’s stovetop. He folds her blanket and straightens her bedsheet. There are papers stuck up on the wall, of accounts and trust ownership of funds and Souta wants to understand, probably should but he finds the words too jumbled and confusing.
Sometimes, he desperately wants to go to New York, to have Pitaro grab onto him around the middle. Sometimes, he wants to bring him back, all a bundle in his arms and throw him into the air and catch him. He wants Pitaro to look at him with that brilliant smile, tell him that it’s going to be fine. You’re the best.
They fumble their way through, trying to understand how to express their thoughts without Hinata and Pitaro as their proxy. Souta has to tell her when to slow down, reaches out to grab her by the arm when she charges ahead. He asks her to walk next to him, let him catch up to her. Wakaba, striding on ahead, with enough energy to power the entire city’s lights, Wakaba and her relentless search for more, everything and more, he needs her to slow down and let him catch up. They walk next to each other on the pavement and she’s impatient and on her phone and staring at the screen and telling her client to message back, damnit, message me now and Souta has to hurry up, has to ask her to remember he’s right there beside her.
She starts slowing down as they walk. She has to ask Souta to remember to buy some milk, some bread for the mornings. Souta gets up early to open up the restaurant and Wakaba is in a rush each morning. Souta is absent minded when it comes to himself and Wakaba finds herself at his place more often than she’d like to admit. She starts waking up the same time as he does, in an attempt to be nice, to get breakfast ready. Wakaba does not cook, so the most she can do is pull melon pan out of the package, put it on the plate and milk into a glass. So she puts a grocery list on Souta’s fridge. It takes a bit of time, but soon, there’s always a supply of pan and milk for them.
Wakaba finds taxation lawx dull and frustrating and she thinks she ought to go back to patents and copyrights and she thinks and she thinks and Souta asks her what she wants to do. She tells him about being younger, about having been from a place far away, where the sun rises and touches the earth and she stops. She sounds like a crazy person, some village idiot, babbling on about her small town dreams.
Souta tells her about being from some outskirt place near Kobe, not quite Kobe but near it. Makes her laugh when he slips into what is Kansaiben, what is more crass and skipping entire words and back to something more polite, less harsh and tells her that it took him awhile. He tells her of cooking over a portable gas stove, for his mother and his brother and making soup stock from pork bones and not knowing if it’d be anything at all.
He has his own restaurant now, she’s in the city in a large firm. Their small town dreams are not small. Their dreams had them reaching, grasping. It led them down a path and pushing them further, faster with hope and right into each other.
Souta can live on that, hopes and dreams. Wakaba needs a nest egg, she needs to look at the numbers in her bank account. Souta takes her hand and turns her to look at him, kisses her and asks her to just take a moment to forget all that.
She thinks he could be some sort of sixties dreamboat, the guy with a guitar and a leather jacket. The type in old movies, with rough edges. Wakaba pretends not to know those movies, the boys from the other side of the road. Souta isn’t tough enough to be going down the street with a swagger. Souta wouldn’t even know how to swagger.
They take a big step. They find a tiny apartment in Meguro, with one bedroom and a kitchen and a tiny bathroom. They move in Wakaba’s books and Souta’s kitchen set. They put together bookshelves and argue over whether or not it looks crooked. Their bedframe is second hand and they splurge on a new mattress and new sheets.
Wakaba takes a case, solo. She does it all on her own and Souta sits up with her at night, to make tea and studying recipes and writing them into a notebook. Souta ends up using an English and French dictionary, buying cookbooks and translating, with pen and paper in hand and repeating the French out loud.
They get cramped, trying to fight over the bathroom on the way to work in the mornings. He asks if she ever does laundry and she asks if he’s ever going to vacuum the floor. They try and find their own space in their shared one and it overlaps, it crashes and then they end up pressed against each other, watching some detective drama on television. She makes him promise to never be so stupid as the guys on television, don’t do things that could get you sued like walking into the women’s toilets or accidentally carrying vegetables out of the store without paying.
For his birthday, Wakaba cooks for him. It’s grilled fish and unburnt rice, it’s side dishes like tempura and miso soup and agedashi tofu that took three practice runs. When Souta takes her out, it’s to a theme park and he has her drink sugary soda and cotton candy and makes her laugh so much until her face hurts.
They find a pace, right next to each other. They speed up, slow down. And they think about the next step, what comes after.
Souta tells her not to think about it yet, not just yet. Don’t stress so much. Just follow your dreams. Wakaba does not follow her dreams, she does not follow hope and rainbows. She looks at the facts and she lines them up. She wants to write a linear timeline for where they should be and when. But she does’t. She follows Souta’s hope and his words. Souta listens to her reason and he thinks they could go further. They could go a long way.
They hurtle towards the future, one step at a time.