Notes: ok with the completion of this segment, I think you've officially met everybody in the main cast! + 1 extra who might show up from time to time but I think you guys can guess that one.

Part iv:

You're home early because you need to study for a midterm. Well, you can't really call it a midterm, because it's only been one and a half weeks. But the test is pretty damn comprehensive, and you need to scrape a passing grade.

You hope the guy isn't like Dr. Kirishiki. You made the mistake of (accidentally!) hitting on his wife. And then you had to bend over and kiss ass for the rest of the quarter. And he gave you a friggin seventy-one. One point above the bare minimum. C'mon, it's not like you mean to ask her on a date. She wasn't even wearing a ring!

You're working at one of the questions in the book, when she walks in. You're fairly certain she's supposed to be out, or something. And you say as much.

"Megumi got a cold. She wants to get better before they go to Hawaii." She sets her things on the couch. And damn, that makes you just a little upset. You're usually not finicky about cleanliness or order or disorder or whatever, but the test has you on edge.

You grunt in acknowledgment.

"What's for dinner?"

"Pick something." And then you add "doable." Because you don't know how to make Mont Blanc or whatever it is teenage girls like these days.

"Can we go out? To the fondue place?"

You sigh. "No. Not tonight. I have a major test tomorrow."

You think that upset her, because you don't hear anything else for a while. Well, that's not entirely true. There's a little huff, and the creak of the sofa. So you add an apology. "Okay. Well, uh, maybe in a few months. When I'm not so busy, okay?"

"You're always busy."

You don't try to deny that one. "Yeah." I'm in medical school, what do you expect? "Sorry." You do realize that you can't get anything with just a biochemistry degree, right?

"You could've stayed there. It was a good job. Not the one you wanted, but…"

"What? Napa?" You snort. "No. Your mom's parents owned the vineyard. It'd be awkward if I stayed."

"But, you were good at your job. They wouldn't have kicked you out!"

And, oh god. You think you know where this is going, but you don't quite have the time. "Look. Your mom and I are still friends." And that's all we're ever going to be.

"But…" She's losing here, and she knows it. "If you stayed…"

"Are we talking about the same Kyouko here?" You laugh, and it's a little forced.

You swear you can hear that frown. For all the pseudo-philosophic crap she spouts, you have to remember that she's just thirteen. And you sigh, and pinch the bridge of your nose. "Sunako."

"Are you going to get rid of me too?" It's so earnest you swear you're going to vomit.

"What? No." And I didn't "get rid" of your mother. But you can't tell her you love her because this isn't really the time, or the place. "I know you're probably not used to…" You use your hands to gesture to the living room vaguely "…this… but…"

"But?"

You scowl. "You know what? I can't really deal with this right now." You scoop up your stuff, and shove it into your bag, and shove your keys into your pocket. "I'll be back late. Just…" you leave a twenty on the table. "Order pizza, or something."

If she cries, you're not entirely sure you can deal with it. Sorry, I don't know any of this, my daughter had a meltdown is never the correct answer, no matter how nice your instructor seems to be. And you know that it wasn't entirely responsible, leaving her alone like that… You shrug it off. There's only so much you can do. And, it's probably going to work out for the better.

The library is jam-packed. You don't know what you were expecting, but this wasn't it. There's only one table that's sort-of empty. And you must be extremely lucky, because that table, the only table that you can beg for a corner of, is the one that your instructor, the lovely, (charming,) Dr. Muroi (jr?) is seated at.

You sigh. Well, it could've been worse. It could've been Dr. Kirishiki.

"Is this seat…?"

"No." You look at the thing he's reading, and half-expect it to be a medical journal. You're pleasantly surprised when it's not.

"Sorry… is that…" You point at the book. "…good?"

He shrugs. "It's entertaining." And then there's a grin. "Don't you have a test to be studying for?"

You just stare blankly at him.

He chuckles. "Are you just going to stand there, or…?"

"Yeah. Sorry." You seat yourself quickly, and pile the textbooks and a mountain of scratch paper onto your desk. You feel just the tiniest bit out of place.

You do a couple of questions. And you try to do more, but you feel some sort of mental block that can only be remedied by talking. "Uh… sorry. I… uh, if you don't mind, that is…"

He nods, and adjusts his chair, and points at one of the questions.

"… yeah."

"Oh. I don't think I went over this during the lecture, but… asthma seems to be immunological."

"So, C?"

He nods in the affirmative. "How long have you been doing this?"

"A couple hours, minus the time it took to drive over here." And yeah, that sounds about right.

"I imagine that the material is rather tiresome."

You shrug. "It's okay, I guess." Not that you're that interested in diseases.

"I was going to get some tea. Believe it or not, the café's just as quiet…"

Wait. Is he inviting you to dinner? "Uh… sure?"

And despite your protests, he pays for your espresso, grande with shots.

Well, so maybe it isn't as quiet, but it's nice. You pick up where you left off, somewhere in the middle of asthma. You've got the bronchoconstriction and bronchial inflammation down, and you've got about half the symptoms listed. And you figure that that's good enough for at least an eighty-five. You flip to the back of the book to score it, when he stops you.

"The exam isn't going to be nearly this thorough." He gives your work a cursory inspection, before handing it back to you.

You nod. "It's better to overstudy, I guess."

"To a point."

You shut the book, because you get his drift.

"If it's not too personal… that is…" He takes a moment to ask, though. "The diner. Is it by choice?"

"The job, you mean?" And you think you get it. He thinks that you're being forced to work there. It kinda makes sense—full-time med student, which usually means zero time for a job. Which means you've got to have some sort of extraordinary circumstances—i.e. you're poor. And he's not entirely wrong… "No. Not really. Well, sorta." You shrug. "It's nice to have some money in your savings account, y'know?" And intuition says that no, he doesn't because everything about him screams rich.

He nods anyways.

And you feel the need to elaborate, for whatever reason. When you look back on this in the morning, you'll regret it. You're pretty sure of it. "Well, I mean… I'd rather not tell my daughter that she can't have nice things, I guess, is what I'm trying to say."

And then you hastily add "I'm not married." Just in case. Of what?

"Ah." He doesn't say anything more than that. You're sure that's gotten you two little red x's or whatever in his book. An unmarried man with a kid. Or, divorced guy, in your case. Neither of which bodes too well for your case.

"Now, if you don't mind me asking…" Kids, wife, cat, maybe?

He gives you a half-laugh, and it's kind of… off…? "I'm not married either." And you take that to mean that he doesn't have a kid. Doesn't surprise you too much.

You're expecting him to keep playing twenty questions, but he doesn't. So, you in your infinite wisdom decide to take another turn.

"You and your dad seem pretty close."

He gives you this indecipherable look for a quick second. "Not really." A minute or so passes, and then he checks his watch. "Actually, I have to…" he shakes your hand hastily. "It was a pleasure."

Well, shit. If you didn't know any better…

"Yeah."

And you think that this screwup is going to translate over like it did with Kirishiki.

But the ninety-two you get on the test says otherwise.