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Whoa, uh, haven't posted for a few days by accident. Sorry about that. I'm actually writing this story more out-of-order than I have any NaNo before, writing whichever scene has struck me at the moment. I think that's actually why I've been doing so well. I have a sizable cushion still and I've easily been reaching my goal every day. It could also be because the story is very organic. I have a vague idea for the plot, but basically I'm just letting things and characters go where they want to. This is also why the story is horribly, horribly messy. Characters are flailing wildly, details are contradicting themselves, IT SHOULDN'T BE MONSOON SEASON IN JAPAN AT THE TIME I SAID IT WAS, etc. Anyway, it's NaNo, it's supposed to be messy, I'm just going to squeeze it out.

Anyway, here's the next few bits. All fourth-wall breaking is intentional. Don't ask me what's up with Rika, I have no idea. Have at it!

BLT - B.izarre L.ove T.riangle Day 2-4:
Ruka Takahashi, 20, In Love, Desperate Part b, The Siblings Grey

The tea was done. Rika elegantly poured two cups and handed one to him with the tiniest of smiles that she reserved just for him, her younger twin.
“I haven’t gotten to say it properly yet, but welcome home. I know we emailed the entire time, but I still missed you, you know?”
Hearing Rika’s perpetually calm voice say those words opened a floodgate inside of Ruka and tears suddenly welled up and spilled over. She always made everything better for him.
“R-rika …” he whimpered, hiding his face in his sleeve.
Rika’s smile immediately vanished, and her expression reverted to its usual perpetual scowl.
“Come, come,” she muttered. “Are you really 20 years old like me?”
Instead of answering, he flopped forward to cry on his sister’s shoulder.
If it had been anyone else, Rika would have had no idea how to respond. Emotional things had never been her strong point. But, since it was her younger twin, she wrapped one arm around his neck and patted him awkwardly on the head.
“There, there. Act your age. You definitely left something out of your emails, didn’t you. Sit up; you’ll spill your tea.”
Ruka nodded and straightened, wiping at his face ineffectually and, suddenly remembering it was there, taking a sip of his tea. It was horribly bitter, but because his sister had made it, he drank it anyway.
“Nee-san, it isn’t as though I was trying to hide anything from you, because I wasn’t. I just … didn’t want to say—”
“—over email, right?” said Rika, finishing his sentence, as always. “What could have possibly been so important that you had to tell me in person? Wait … it couldn’t be …”
Her eyes widened the smallest margin.
“Oh Ruka, are you serious?”
He didn’t even need to say it for her to know what he was getting at. They were twins, after all. Still, he wanted to say it outloud. It was painful, but he wanted it to remain real.
“Nee-san … I fell in love.”
“With Tamera-san, correct?”
Ruka nodded.
Rika leaned a head in one hand, still gazing at him.
“Well, of course you did. It’s only natural. You’re Ruka, after all.”
Ruka blushed.
“Please don’t say that like I fall in love all the time, Nee-san.”
“It was only four years ago that you were calling every crush you formed ‘your first love,’ you know. It’s not like I’ve forgotten. You were just like Mina-P. I thought you’d finally grown out of that stage.”
“That’s an obscure reference; don’t make it when I’m trying to be serious. By the way, I’m serious!” said Ruka, getting more and more flustered by the moment.
“I know,” said Rika, her words clipped. He knew from her tone that she was getting ready to grill him. “Otherwise you would not have waited to tell me, right?”
“Then stop teasing me,” said Ruka with a pout.
“All right, but only if you tell me everything,” said Rika. She made herself comfortable at the table, legs crossed lotus-style, and then fixed her eyes on him, giving him her full attention.
“Of course … but Nee-san …” said Ruka, his voice wavering with uncertainty.
“What is it?” said Rika. She tilted her head.
“Wouldn’t that make this a flashback within a flashback?”
“It doesn’t matter,” said Rika, waving a hand. “If Oh!Great can do it, so can you.”
“Eh…?” said Ruka, not at all comprehending, but realizing it probably had to do with his sister’s hobbies …
“Silence, it’s starting,” said Rika.
“But I don’t …!”

~

The Siblings Grey

One Year Ago …

Ruka Takahashi tried not to look too eager as his plane touched down on the first foreign soil he had ever experienced, but he couldn’t help but nearly press his face against the window to watch as the landscape gradually came to a rushing halt outside. At the age of 19, just as he was about to become an adult, he had finally achieved one of his dreams.
The other students in his group all seemed to have caught onto the same energy. They broke into excited, rapid-fire whispers and mutterings, shifting in their seats and readying themselves to disembark.
Ruka descreetly stuffed his tankoubon back into his carryon and hoisted it into his lap. He'd have to remember to hide it even better later. There was no way he could let anyone here find out about his hobby …
Getting off the plane took much longer than it should have and customs was an even longer agony. By the time they were done, three hours had past and Ruka's enthusiasm had dampened slightly. The group overall was tired and hungry and the directors from their school decided it was about time for a meal.
Everyone was herded onto the bus that would eventually transport them to the university that would be their home for the next six months and they were off on the road for a few minutes. Ruka was pressed against the window, watching everything go by, gleefully reading English off the signs to himself. Before long, the bus stopped again and everyone was escorted into a family restaurant by the side of the road.
Once everyone got some food in them, their energy returned significantly, and now everyone was watching the road as they headed out again. The ride took them through Seattle and many cellphones were whipped out and used to take photos. The latter section of the journey took them through a scenic mountain pass and many sounds of awe were heard. At last, the bus turned into a smaller town dotted with apartments and puffed up a hill lined with trees and banners hanging from streetlights proclaiming to all travelers that they had arrived at West University at last. The entire bus filled with excited chatter and Ruka joined them this time, laughing and joking with his classmates. They were finally there!
They got off the bus and were dutifully sorted into groups; names were checked off and then, following their leaders, they all set off to learn about the campus.
Ruka couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of the school. The university back in Japan was a little plain compared to West University, but it couldn’t be helped when these facilities had been built in hills filled with trees and the ocean visible just beyond that. The leaves were resplendent with fall colors in reds and yellows and oranges. As they passed through one of the common areas where a few students were picnicking while they studied, a pair of the native deer species caught their eye along the treeline. Ruka was even snapping pictures by this point, planning on sending them to his sister as soon as his laptop could get set up.
After learning where everything was, the groups all converged again to retrieve their luggage and get situated in the dorms where they would be sleeping and studying and getting to know roommates.
Ruka felt a nervous flutter in his stomach at the thought. The idea of meeting someone new wasn’t terrifying in of itself really, but Ruka was something of an introvert that had always had difficulty making friends. It was probably because he often preferred reading manga to talking to others, but no one here could find out about that, absolutely not! So making friends it was. He could do this. He took a deep breath, hefted his suitcase and followed his leader.
One by one, his fellow students were dropped off at their new rooms. Ruka was one of the last due to the alphabetizing system they were using (he was Takahashi after all) but at last his group leader, a quiet yet cheerful girl named Lucia, stopped in front of the room he’d be sharing. She knocked and then immediately leaned her wavy head of hair against the door, listening to see if anyone was inside.
There was silence for a few moments, then the loud scoot of a chair against linoleum. Lucia leaned back just in time to avoid tipping into the room when the door opened.
Ruka found that he had to look up at the boy who was staring at them with wide, grayish-blue eyes now. He smiled shyly and stood back so that they could come in.
“Hey, you guys made it, great. Come on in … I straightened up earlier but sorry if it’s still too cluttered,” he said.
He was gesturing randomly and it betrayed his own nervousness with the situation. Somehow, knowing that his new roommate was feeling just as awkward put Ruka more at ease. He bobbed his head politely.
“Thank you. This room is very nice,” he said.
The boy was still staring a little, and Ruka braced for what he thought might be coming next, which was …
“Oh, your English is really good. I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to speak with you very well. My sister is taking Japanese but, uh, not me …”
Ruka felt one of his eyebrows twitch. Well, hearing that was a little humiliating. His English was one of his secret prides, so he wasn't sure if he was flattered or felt condescended to. It didn't seem as though his new roommate had an ounce of condescension in his tall frame, but it was the principle of the thing. Still, he was here to make friends, so he'd let it slide. Just this once.
"“Thank you. My sister and I grew up near a naval base and she tutored me. I’ve been interested in international relations for a long time, so I studied hard. I'm Ruka Takahashi," he said, holding out a hand.
"Brennan Grey," said the boy, meeting his greeting with a strong shake. "Is it Ruka or Luka?"
What was this now? Was he being made fun of? Ruka barely suppessed a grumble.
"Excuse me?"
"I ask because my sister insists it's 'L.' Her Japanese language teacher in high school taught her to use ‘l’ for everything, so I thought I’d ask … I mean it’d be pretty embarrassing if I said your name wrong the entire time, right?”
Brennan’s nervous smile had actually faded, and there was a vaguely imploring look in his eyes. Ruka couldn’t say no to that. He glanced around and found a whiteboard next to his head. He grabbed the marker dangling next to it and wrote his name with an “R” on it.
“Like this,” he said, giving Brennan a grin and tapping the board for emphasis.
“Great,” said Brennan.
“I think I’ll leave you two to get acquainted then,” said Lucia. “We will be having a group dinner at the dining hall later so you can get your meal card, Ruka. Of course you can invite your roommate too. Everyone can get together and get to know each other.”
“Yes, thank you,” said Ruka, nodding to her. “Thank you so much for all your hard work.”
“Mm, I’ll see you then!” she said and retreated, closing the door behind her.
A sudden terror seemed to sweep over the both of them. They were alone. And knew nothing about each other. What now?
“So …” said Brennan, sitting back in his desk chair and rubbing his knees absently. The furniture under him seemed to prompt him to remember something and he jumped back up.
“Oh!”
“What … what is it?” said Ruka, jumping back in surprise.
“That bed there, on the left, that’s yours. Though the desk on the right is yours. I’m not quite sure how it worked out like that, but it did. I can switch though, if it really bothers you.”
Ruka glanced from bed to desk on the diagonal and let out a little chuckle.
“It’s all right to leave them like that. I’m your guest, after all.”
“All the more reason for me to change if you don’t want them like that. But if you say its fine, I’ll believe you.”
Ruka nodded shyly and lifted his suitcase, putting it on the empty mattress.
“So, six months, huh?” said Brennan. “That’s a long time to be away from home. Have you ever been to another country before?”
“No, this is the first time!” said Ruka. “I’m really happy to be here.”
“If there’s anything I can do to make you comfortable while you’re here, just let me know,” said Brennan.
Ruka nodded, and then worked up his nerve to ask his own question.
“Did you sign up for an exchange student roommate? Are you interested in Japan?”
“Oh, well …” said Brennan, tugging at one ear, “yeah, I signed up.”
Ruka couldn’t help but notice that he wouldn’t look at him now. Had he said something strange? Instead, Brennan looked relieved to have thought of a subject change.
“You know, if you want to get your laptop set up and get everything, I can do that. I mean, I’m no computer whiz or anything but I learned really well from the tech desk when I set mine up.”
“Oh … of course,” said Ruka. He unzipped his larger suitcase and searched around inside for his laptop bag, wondering about the strange subject change all the while. Was he really uncomfortable with him being here? He was an outsider after all …
He glanced around at the room briefly, seeing how lived in it was already. The bed was draped with a heavy, warm-looking navy blue comforter and a flat, wide pillow. There was a pile of clothes on the bed and a laundry basket where things were being sorted. Both had been hastily shoved to one side in an attempt to make things look neater. Outside of the closet that must have been Brennan’s, there was a row of several pairs of sneakers in different colors and varying degrees of wear. The occupied desk was empty of everything but a laptop …
Ruka paused in his train of thought. It was true that the room looked lived in, but there weren’t many personal touches that really revealed anything about Brennan’s personality. It was just a dorm room, but even so, people still liked to make their space distinctly theirs, right?
He shoved the thought aside and pulled out his computer. Perhaps this wasn’t how the room normally looked. He could have neatened excessively after all for Ruka’s comfort. Maybe they could make this room theirs, eventually.
The laptop was set on the desk and opened and then Brennan helpfully pulled out a length of cable to hook him into the school’s internet (since he hadn’t thought to bring any of his own).
“They said if you guys still needed anything that they would take all of you to the mall so you could shop, but I figure this way you can be hooked in as quickly as possible. That’s good, right? Your parents want to hear from you?” said Brennan.
Ruka nodded.
“Yes, my parents and my sister,” he said.
“You mentioned your sister earlier, you two pretty close?” said Brennan.
“She’s my twin,” said Ruka.
Brennan’s eyes widened with interest.
“That’s so cool,” he said. “Do the two of you look exactly alike?”
“We’re, eh, fraternal,” said Ruka, pausing for a moment to remember the word in English, “so there’s no way we can look exactly alike. But everyone says our faces are very similar.”
“Do you have a picture? I want to see,” said Brennan.
Ruka smiled and clicked through the folders on his computer until he found his camera and cellphone upload folder and opened it. He scrolled through the files and clicked on one from earlier in the year, when he and his sister had graduated from high school. They were both in their uniforms and holding pencil cases, standing under a lightly blooming sakura. Ruka was smiling and Rika simply looked placid, which was normally about as nice of a face as she could make.
“Heeeeh,” said Brennan, and Ruka looked over at him. The pronunciation of that sound had been … oddly Japanese, hadn’t it? He must be hearing things …
“You do have similar face shapes,” he continued, “but you’re right, you look pretty different too. You have short hair, she has long hair, she wears glasses and you smile. But you know, she’s pretty cute. Both of you are in this picture really, heh. Is she even a little taller than you?”
Ruka closed the picture, his eyebrow twitching again.
“We are fraternal twins, after all,” he said.
“Was that graduation?” said Brennan, “Your high school one, I mean? It looked like it.”
Hmm, maybe it was Ruka’s turn for a little condescension?
“You know a lot about Japan, don’t you?” he said.
Again, Brennan tugged on one ear in a display of embarrassment.
“Well, my sister, she knows some …”
“Oh, that’s right; you said you had a sister as well. Do the two of you get along well? Is she here at this school as well?” said Ruka, genuinely interested.
"Oh, yeah, she's a freshman," said Brennan.
"A freshman, which means ..." Ruka trailed off questioningly.
"It's her first year of college. She's a year younger than me."
"It's my first year too," said Ruka. "So it's your second year then?"
"Right, I'm a sophomore," said Brennan, nodding.
"A sophomore, okay," said Ruka with a smile. "In Japan, you would be my senpai."
Brennan's face lit up at the mention of that word.
"You can call me that if you want," he said cheerfully. "I'll try to be a good one!"
Ruka laughed a little nervously.
"Maybe."
"Anyway, my sister can't wait to meet you. I'd invite her over but she's in class right now."
"I can invite her to the dinner. Both of you can come?" said Ruka.
"Yeah, sounds good," said Brennan. He was gradually relaxing and getting easier to talk to. Ruka was glad.
Brennan gave him a smile and then returned his attention to Ruka's computer.
"What other pictures do you have on here? Man it looks like a lot."
Normally Ruka wouldn’t have been too keen on showing off too much of his life to someone he’d just met, but Brennan’s ease was catching, so Ruka opened another folder and showed him some photos from New Years where he and Rika were dressed in traditional clothes, and a few from a Bon Odori, including one of his sister dancing. Ruka didn’t have to say anything the entire time and Brennan only spoke up to ask questions. By the time they moved on to his internet though, Ruka suspected that Brennan knew more about Japan than he was letting on. Why was he being so strange about it?
It didn’t take long for the puzzle pieces to fall into place. Almost literally, in fact.
As soon as Ruka’s internet was working Brennan spun in his desk chair and opened his closet, revealing a small fridge shoved inside of it rather than hanging clothes.
“Thirsty?” he said. “I’ve got some soda and canned tea and bottled coffee.” He reached out to open the fridge, and when he gave it a jerk, a cupboard above the closet swung open unsteadily, and the two of them were suddenly pelted by many hard bits of plastic.
Plastic in very particular shapes.
Ruka’s mouth fell open as he looked all around at the pieces in his lap, on the floor, on Brennan’s head … after which he leapt up, pointing and shouted:
“Mecha otaku!”
It was true. The avalanche of plastic had been Gunpla models. Each and every one of them.
Brennan’s hand was back on his ear for a moment before he leaned down from his chair to pick up a few on the floor and set them on his desk.
“Yeah, I guess you got me,” he said. “I … well … I’ve been watching Gundam and stuff since high school.”
“A lot of Japanese people like Gundam,” said Ruka, despite the fact that he was not one of them. “Did you think you had to hide them for some reason?”
“My mom was saying it might make you uncomfortable … like I signed up for a Japanese roommate just because of robots,” said Brennan. “But, that isn’t the way it is at all. I really did want this. For a cultural exchange, you know? So … sorry about this.”
Ruka blinked a few times, then got up and knelt down, helping pick some of the figurines up off the floor and extracting the pieces caught in the folds of his clothes.
“It isn’t a problem for me,” said Ruka. “You should feel comfortable in your own room. And, we should get to know each other honestly, yes?”
“It doesn’t bother you?” said Brennan.
It didn’t, but Ruka wasn’t sure how to say it without simply repeating himself. Instead, he turned back to his computer and opened another picture. It was a photo of him and sister with part of a life-sized Gundam in the background.
“Whoa, no way,” said Brennan quietly, the awe in his voice evident. “You guys went to see it?”
“My sister insisted … oh, she isn’t a mecha otaku or anything. She just really wanted to see it.”
“I really wanted to go,” said Brennan, “but I couldn’t afford it since we’re paying for college for my sister and me at the same time. We have to work part-time jobs to afford our books.”
“That sounds tough,” said Ruka.
“It’s not so bad,” said Brennan. “We have time to play still too. Er, as you can see.” He nodded at the models.
“You built all of these here?” said Brennan.
“Last year. I haven’t had a chance to do one this year yet. Maybe we could … work on one together?” said Brennan hopefully.
Ruka gave him a sheepish grin.
“Perhaps. I can’t say if I will be very helpful or not.”
“It’s easy, you’ll get the hang of it!” said Brennan, just before tugging his ear again. “So … have you ever watched any mech shows?”
Ruka felt the color drain out of his face. Mecha anime were a far step from his true hobby, but it was still too close for comfort. Besides, there was no polite way to turn him down or away once he asked. Especially after he’d just said they should “get to know each other honestly …” why did he always say things like that!? That was his hobby rearing its head again.
Well, at least he could answer honestly for now.
“N-no, I haven’t,” he said.
Brennan didn’t respond. He turned to his own laptop and opened it, clicking through some files until he found the one he was looking for. He opened it and a video screen popped up. He thumbed at the laptop and grinned at Ruka.
“You gotta see this one at least,” he said. “Even people who don’t like mech shows like this one. Even my sister thinks it’s awesome!”
Well, it would have been rude to refuse … right? Ruka nodded mutely.
They spent the next 24 minutes or so absorbed in the story of a young boy, his raucous “older brother,” an extremely busty sharp-shooter and a beastman who apparently wanted to kill them.
“This isn’t the first episode,” said Brennan by way of explanation, “but I always show people this one because the fight with Mr. Cat-shark is too cool.”
Ruka continued to nod without a word.
This was way outside of anything he’d ever watched or read and the constant manly screaming grated on his nerves a bit, but he admitted to himself that it wasn’t completely intolerable. And it least it wasn’t anything like what his sister usually liked. It didn’t hurt to broaden one’s horizons, he supposed …
As the ending credits started rolling, a pair of hands came out of nowhere and grabbed Brennan’s head, squeezing it and messing up his hair.
“Hey … hey!” shouted Brennan, trying to fend off his attacker. It took a moment for Ruka to absorb the scene and just barely managed to keep himself from jumping up in surprise.
“Brennaaaan,” droned the girl, a growl evident in her voice. “What did I tell you about harassing the student with this show right away? And you didn’t even text me to tell me he was here! I’ve been out of class for like 15 minutes! And why are your mechs everywhere?”
“Probably best not to grind my head in front of him either, huh?” said Brennan. His light brown hair was sticking everywhere now and his face was pinched up as he turned and gave the girl a shove. She promptly pushed back and the two of them began rough housing in earnest.
Ruka could only stare. And stare he did. The girl currently wailing on Brennan was certainly eye-catching by his standards. Her hair was long and blonde and done up in two ponytails. The glasses perched on her nose were plastic and baby pink and adorably stylish, resting over a pair of greenish-gray eyes. There was a round softness to her build that seemed to be inviting touch, and though Ruka’s cheeks flamed at the thought, he couldn’t help but have it. He realized he’d stopped breathing and inhaled hard to get himself started again. It was like he’d been physically struck. It was like … like …
It was like she was an angel descended from heaven!
The two of them heard his gasp and turned toward him, thinking perhaps that he was trying to get their attention. Brennan gave the girl one last shove and then pointed.
“This would be my little sister, Tamera,” he said.
Tamera beamed, the fight seemingly forgotten, and bowed very cutely.
“Anou, watashi wa Tamela desu. Er, um, watashi no nihongo ga heta da kedo, um, eto, yoloshiku … ne?” she said.
Ruka felt himself grin at the simple speech and he ducked his head to return her bow.
“Ah, hai, yoroshiku.”
Tamera clapped her hands in sheer joy before shoving her brother again.
“Oh my god, I communicated.”
Brennan turned and gave her another look.
“He speaks like perfect English you know.”
“Oh. Wow. That’s embarrassing. Especially since I probably just totally butchered what I said, huh?”
“I understood, don’t worry,” said Ruka, waving his hands placatingly. He felt like he couldn’t sit still any longer, like an electric current was running through him, so he rose to his feet and, very shyly, held out a hand for a shake. “I’m Ruka Takahashi. It’s very nice to meet you, Tamera.”
She took his hand firmly, and though there was nothing delicate about her grip, her skin was soft. Ruka could feel himself getting wound up about her cuteness inside. She was completely, totally and utterly adorable!
"Yoloshiku!" she said again, simply because she liked the sound of it.
That made her even cuter!
"You take Japanese?" said Ruka.
"Yeah, but I'm basically the equivalent of a first year," said Tamera. "I didn't learn much in high school." She giggled nervously.
"Do your best," said Ruka. "Maybe we can practice together."
"That's what I was thinking," said Brennan with a laugh. "Speaking of being together, it's about time for that group dinner that your intrepid leader mentioned. You're hungry, right Tamera? We're both invited, so ..."
"I'm starved," said Tamera, "I only ate a muffin from the student store today."
"Let's get going then, Ruka. We'll escort you to the dining hall," said Ruka.
Ruka felt a warm flutter in his heart. So, this was what it was like to easily make friends.
"Yes, let's go."

And that was Ruka’s first fateful meeting with the Grey siblings. That evening, after getting back from the dinner with meal card in his possession at last, and after helping clean up the rest of the model mess and sorting the right parts back with each robot, Ruka sat down to compose his first email from the U.S. to his sister. It read:

Nee-san,
Owing to your thoughts of me, I arrived in America safely this morning. I hope you are as well as I left you. The weather is already very cool and the air is very fresh here at West University. The leaves have turned many vibrant colors.
It took us quite some time to get through customs, but it was completely worth the wait. They took us on a campus tour already. We saw some deer amongst the trees. I have a lot of pictures to send you. I'll attach them to this mail.
My roommate is a second-year named Brennan. I showed him the picture with the life-sized Gundam and he was very excited. I think we get along well. He has a younger sister named Tamera.
She is really cute.
I'll continue to email you everyday about what I'm doing. I know you said I should just experience things for myself, but I still can't believe this is the first time we've been this far apart. I still want to share everything with you.
I'm uploading pictures now so I'll end this here.
Until the next mail.
Ruka
Additionally: Do you know Tengen Toppa?

He attached the pictures of the deer, some of the leaves, an oceanview shot and some pictures from dinner of Brennan and Tamera. Then he hit "send."
His sister responded thus:

You're too old-fashioned. Also, she is cute. The boy isn't bad-looking either. You're living with a pair of lookers. Harem???
Rika
Additionally: GIGAAAA DRIIIILLLL BREAKEEEER!!!!

Ruka nearly faceplanted into his keyboard.
“Nee-san, why are you so different in text?” he muttered.


Some notes:

- Mina-P: Reference to Aino Minako from Codename: Sailor V and Sailormoon. Yeah, that one. XD

- Oh!Great: Author of Tenjou Tenge and Air Gear, among other things. Tenjou Tenge had a flashback within a flashback in it, so ...

- Gunpla: Gundam models

- Yes, they were watching Gurren Lagann. I felt like I wanted to avoid naming things directly. I dunno why. We'll see how it goes.