part ii:

You're not really on speaking terms with her, haven't been in a while. You stay clear of her, and she reciprocates.

She calls you "Ozaki," and she calls Kyouko "Mom." And damn you'd be lying if you said that you weren't just a little jealous of that. Because you're paying the bills, and your ex is more than a state away.

You think that there was a time when she thought that yeah, the two of you would eventually reconcile, and maybe slip back into the honeymoon phase of your relationship. It wasn't really for the lack of trying. It just came back to the fact that you were twenty-six and stubborn. You were supposed to have something other than a bio-chem degree from Berkeley and literally zero job experience to back that up.

And that loops back to you being young and dumb. There's a track record underneath your right sleeve, from a couple of parties gone horribly wrong. And the tattoo that may-or-may not have been cool when you were a senior… ("Sir, we don't know if this procedure will completely remove that.") Okay, well, it's more like a sleeve. Of pseudo-religious bullshit that you found in a textbook and decided looked cool. And then your girlfriend-at-the-time doodled up something. Three days and four sittings, and five hundred dollars later, you ended up with this thing that looked kinda cool and sorta dangerous but meant absolutely nothing to you. You don't think that your daughter has seen the entire goddamn thing.

(That's why you hate wearing the uniform. There are far too many gawkers.)

Fuck. No, you weren't supposed to go on a tangential self-pitying streak. This is why you hate studying on the kitchen table. She's right there. And looking at her inspires some sort of odd misplaced fatherly streak, and repulses you at the same time. It's weird.

On one hand, you want to tell her about all this stuff. Stuff that she shouldn't be doing, the youth counter-culture, WWII, maybe the fact that you might find the pretentious GQ instructor with a mouthful for a name kinda attractive in that weird wow-I-didn't-think-people-were-made-like-this way (okay, well, maybe not that one.) And you sort of know that she already knows most of it, because she's goddamn "Hurricane Sunako." As Mikiyasu eloquently put it.

And you think, yeah. This is a universal thing. She's charismatic, which she gets from her mother, no doubt—but there's this surreal edge to it. You don't quite know how to put it into words. It's like something is off.

You shake your head. Must be overthinking it. You haven't had a drink in next to forever, and it seems like the last person you brought home was at least two months ago. Lonely person syndrome. Yeah, that must be it.

God, you really do need to start dating again.