Stranger in Morioh @antirepurp
The Many Flavors of Love (Not Unlike the Taste of Soda)

“You burned his house down?!” Okuyasu’s voice had a shocked, accusatory tone to it, and yet it was filled with excitement and pride?

“It wasn’t my fault!” Josuke tried to defend himself, holding up his hands.

“I believe I am at fault, as well,” Mikitaka muttered. “I am deeply sorry for the trouble my actions caused.”

“Dude, no, we didn’t do anything! It was Rohan’s fault!”

Koichi sat with his face buried in his hands, his soda actively turning more room-temperature by the minute.

After Josuke’s and Mikitaka’s action-packed afternoon of gambling and pissing off a local mangaka the two had made their way back to town center, found Okuyasu and Koichi at a cafe, and were now recalling the earlier events of their day to the two. Okuyasu was significantly more into it than Koichi, who was not looking forward the onslaught of Josuke-themed shit talking Rohan would unleash upon him the next time the two were to meet.

“You know, I was really hoping that you guys could start getting along with Rohan,” Koichi sighed. “I’ve been talking to him about it and everything, telling him how cool you two can be and how it’s just a matter of getting to know you.”

“Koichi, I-”

“And you just slam-dunk all my efforts over Cee-lo,” Koichi let his head drop onto the table. “Thanks, Josuke.”

“I didn’t burn his fucking house down!” Josuke yelled in desperation. “It was Rohan’s fault for getting so fucking invested in a dice game!”

“You pushed him to it.”

“He cut his finger off!”

“Wait, seriously?!” Okuyasu interrupted enthusiastically.

“It was a rather morbid sight to behold, I must admit,” Mikitaka commented, carefully taking a sip of his soda, curious of its bubbly flavor.

“I healed him, it’s fine,” Josuke groaned. “He’s good as new.”

“His house sure isn’t,” Koichi said, earning a louder groan from Josuke.

“Okay, whatever, so what the hell have you been up to in the meantime?” Josuke tried to change the subject.

“Normal people things, like not burning houses down,” Koichi replied, finally giving his soda the attention it had been neglected of. Josuke gave him a peeved glare, but the other teen looked back with the aura of a disinterested cat. Josuke wasn’t going to win this one, and he knew it, and so he turned his eyes to Okuyasu instead.

“Oh, we were actually looking for you since you disappeared with Mikitaka in the morning,” Okuyasu explained. “We thought there might’ve been a stand accident, but, yeah, I guess there wasn’t.”

“Yeah, it was more a fire accident.”

“Will you shut up?!” Josuke barked at Koichi, who was still sucking on his straw with casual, smug superiority that didn’t suit his character at all. On one hand Josuke was happy that Koichi had been growing more confident recently. On the other hand it made Koichi infuriating as all hell when the kid decided to be difficult on purpose.

“Is this what has been explained to me as, ‘humor?’” Mikitaka asked, observing the situation with sincere curiosity.

“Kind of, I guess?” Okuyasu tried to answer, but couldn’t really come up with anything satisfying. “Oh, yeah, and I saw Jotaro and Kakyoin at Deux Magots again, but they’re always there. I think they were drawing something, I’m not sure.”

The table’s attention turned to Okuyasu.

“They were drawing?” Josuke asked. Okuyasu shrugged.

“Dunno, I didn’t exactly stick around, just said hi.”

“They hang out together a lot,” Koichi mused out loud.

“Yeah, I’ve see them apart like, once or something,” Okuyasu said.

“Are these ‘Jotaro’ and ‘Kakyoin’ your acquaintances?” Mikitaka asked, earning a collective ‘yeah’ from the others.

“They’re like... man, what would you even call them?” Josuke pondered, and threw his hands behind his head. “I mean, they’re adults.”

“That’s a start,” Koichi took another stab, and Josuke glared at him briefly before continuing.

“Jotaro’s my, uh, nephew, weirdly enough, and he’s helping us with the serial killer problem, doing like technical research on it or something.”

“Technical research?” Koichi raised an eyebrow.

“You know what I mean.”

“You mean he’s the only one investigating this while we sit at cafes and run into stand users,” Koichi corrected Josuke. The latter sighed.

“Maybe so.”

“But hey, he’s got Kakyoin helping him out with that now,” Okuyasu grinned. “So we can keep doing this!”

“Yeah, that’s why he came here,” Josuke recalled. “I don’t really know how he’s been helping Jotaro out, though. Whenever I see them they’re just. Hanging out.”

“They probably work while we’re in school,” Koichi speculated.

“Oh.”

“But still!” Okuyasu butted in. “You gotta admit, they’re like glued to each other.”

Koichi nodded in agreement as he sucked on his straw.

“They’re like you and Josuke,” he said after finishing his sip. “They must be good friends.”

“I guess,” Okuyasu shrugged.

“Perhaps they are lovers,” Mikitaka said in such a matter-of-fact way the other kids shut up entirely. The alien had been about to drink his soda some more, growing fond of its taste, but his action halted as he noticed the three pairs of eyes staring at him.

“Did I say something wrong?” he asked, entirely puzzled by the attention.

“N-no, it’s just...” Josuke’s words trailed out. He leaned back in his chair, staring at his drink. Okuyasu and Koichi had no idea what to say to the suggestion, either, sharing a look filled with a mixture of various flavors of confusion.

“I am unsure how you humans handle these kind of events,” Mikitaka said. “But on my home planet, when we care about one another, we desire to spend more time with them.”

“Yeah, same, but...”

Josuke thought about it for a moment.

“It’s Jotaro we’re talking about.”

“What is it about Jotaro?”

“He’s like, the opposite of, a lover or something?” Okuyasu laughed. “You should see the guy, he like never smiles.”

“Yeah, Jotaro doesn’t really strike me as the romantic type,” Koichi had to agree.

“He has a kid, yeah, but there’s a reason her mom’s not in the picture anymore,” Josuke went on. “Jotaro’s just... not that kind of person.”

Mikitaka closed his eyes, thinking about the information for a moment.

“What humans define as ‘romance’ I do not know,” he finally said. “And I cannot say I have much experience with love myself. But to my knowledge, it isn’t confined solely to glamorous acts and public showcases.”

The table was quiet.

“Perhaps, sometimes, it is enough to simply be with someone else to indicate you appreciate them in more ways than one,” the alien finished his thought, and finally drank more of his soda. The others looked at each other, silently communicating thoughts to one another.

The general consensus leaned towards asking Jotaro and Kakyoin about it sometime. Probably Kakyoin over Jotaro. The latter wasn’t much of a talker.

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