DAY 22 | MAD
He has to fight the urge to call her Shouko-chan, like when they were younger—chances are that it’d hurt more than help.
Kanba sighs into his pillow, at a loss for what to do.
“You’re still mad, aren’t you?” he asks.
Given that Shouko won’t roll over to him in their futon, it’s safe to say she’s definitely still mad.
Contrary to popular belief—and periodic reassurance from his sisters—Kanba is neither a perfect big brother, or boyfriend, or husband. He’s tried hard to be the first two in the recent past, tries hard now to be the third, but often comes up short through no fault of his own. Generally these slip-ups are minor, and easily forgiven; so it’s all the more frustrating when he’s had to endure the silent treatment for the last three days without knowing where he’s gone wrong.
So far he’s spent that time hoping to determine what it is that’s rubbed Shouko the wrong way. Was it because he forgot to bring in the laundry? Bought her decaf instead of regular coffee? Is it due to…no, he’s held himself back from getting too amorous. They haven’t made love in over a week, no thanks to their busy schedules that never give them room to meet in the middle, unless it’s right at bedtime. By then they’re too exhausted to bother, which clearly means there’s something else amiss.
If he could, Kanba would ask why, but it’s that same busyness that hasn’t given them the free time to talk about it. Not to mention the likelihood that Shouko wouldn’t reveal her secrets, or at worst, give him a sound smack to his solar plexus that would leave him reeling for ages to come.
At least he won’t ever have to fear if his wife can take care of herself or not…
However, since they’re both wide awake well after midnight, there may be some merit in an attempt to get Shouko to open up. After all, how can Kanba fix what’s wrong if he can’t find out what it is?
Here goes nothing. “Is…something the matter?”
As he thought. Grimacing in the dark, Kanba inches closer to her. The space in their futon has gotten so vast lately that he sometimes wonders if it’d be less lonely to sleep on the couch, or in Himari’s old room.
Himari would know what to do here. Too bad he can’t call her right now, see what she has to say on the matter.
Moving as close as he can without touching Shouko, he tries again. “Is it me?”
That earns him a rustling within their blankets, and what he assumes is Shouko finally turning to glower at him over his shoulder. It’s no concrete answer, but it is progress.
“It is me,” Kanba confirms, dread creeping into his voice. Great. So what was it he did?
The frown on his face deepens, shifting to find a more comfortable position as he gives it some thought. If he doesn’t play his cards right, his line of questioning won’t lead him anywhere, and they’ll be more worse off than when they started.
First: “Did I forget something?”
“Did I lose it?”
“Did I…wear it…?” Anything to get a reaction from her.
It does provoke another glare, accompanied by a weary sigh. Shouko’s beginning to grow frustrated, something Kanba hadn’t set out to do, so he recoils, fingers crossed that the physical distance will help cool her down.
Under her breath, Shouko mutters a string of unintelligible words that Kanba can’t quite hear.
She does it again, features turning petulant as she stares at her spouse, expecting him to have understood everything there is to in that long, jumbled-together sentence.
Shouko breathes out, her ire fading into despair as she looks away, curls into herself. Though it tugs at the string’s of Kanba’s heart, that’s quickly replaced by her grumbling: “My pan.”
“Your what?” Kanba didn’t hear that.
“You ruined my pan.”
And there it is, the thorn in her paw from three days ago. Unfortunately, Kanba doesn’t recognize what she’s referring to. Which pan does she mean? With over a dozen tools in their kitchen to choose from, he frequently loses track of what goes there, whose is whose, plus…
“—gah!” He remembers now. ”Y-your pan…” How could he have forgotten?
Shouko’s pan is—or was, now that it’s beyond saving—her most prized item in the kitchen, ever since she’d inherited it from her parents. Though she’d cooked with many pans before, and several since, none ever matched up to her favorite: it conducted heat evenly, cooked everything to perfection, was never a nightmare to clean, unlike certain non-stick hand-me-downs that were always more trouble than they were worth. But now…now…
The memory leaves Kanba squirming. How was he to know that from a couple of minutes of neglect (on the phone, he said, which was probably true) and a plastic utensil left in the thing it’d leave such a horrendous and irreparable mess?
Shouko cried for half an hour straight. Kanba thought it was due to the news of Ringo not being able to make it out to see them for the weekend (were they really still that close? he’d thought).
It’s funny how crying over the loss of a frying pan makes so much more sense to him.
“Ah, ah…” What to say? For the rest of that day he’d said ‘sorry’ countless times, and since that hasn’t seem to have done any good, he’s sure it’d fall on deaf ears here as well. Kanba’s mouth twists, struggling to come up with a solution that will have Shouko less distraught, if not on speaking terms with him again.
“H-hey…” He stutters, fails, and has to start over completely. “Hey, we could…get you a new one…?”
Shouko’s head hakes vigorously.
“I can pay for it?”
The sound that falls from Kanba’s lips doesn’t quite pass for a whimper. He’d swear by it. “Why not—?”
“S’not the same,” mutters Shouko, clutching their blankets tighter to her.
She’s never acted so childishly before, not even when they actually were children. Kanba can’t decide if that’s bothersome, or really, really cute.
He chooses cute, what with how her bottom lip is jutting out.
“Maybe not,” concedes Kanba, “but if it came from me, that’d still be something, right?”
“…I guess…” Shouko doesn’t look too thrilled with the idea.
Not willing to give just yet, Kanba resumes his advance, slightly anxious when he thinks he’s put himself too far, being nose-to-nose.
“C’mon, we can pick it out together?”
“I don’t know…”
“It’s not the same pan,” Kanba says, “but it can be a new one for a new family. That’s not so bad, don’t you think?”
It’s a gamble, praying that he’s said something that sounds right. They’re a bit past the newlywed phase by this point, but it’s early on enough where he’s guessing that sounds significant.
According to Shouko, it does, who draws into herself less and peers up at her husband with wide eyes, all negativity seemingly forgotten at this. “Really?”
“Of course.” After giving it some thought: “If you really want, we could replace a lot of other stuff, too…”
“—not the toaster.”
Kanba blinks at her. “Not the toaster?”
“It’s a…” Shouko stops, unsure of why she’s bringing this up. She huddles back into her nest of blankets, suddenly very sheepish about the whole thing. “Really good toaster…”
They both laugh after a span, and Kanba can only assume that he’s (partially) forgiven. Shouko isn’t shoving him away when he closes what little distance remains, arms tight around her as he pulls her near, bedding and all. The night’s too warm for him, anyway, so she’s welcome to have them.
“…I’m sorry about your pan,” he says, still seeing the need to deliver one final apology.
Shouko huffs against him. “I think I’ll just demote you from here on,” she says eventually.
“Hah?” A demotion?
“To my…” Ah, what is it she wants to say? She hides a smile in Kanba’s shoulder, continuing, “…right-hand man in the kitchen, I suppose.”
That doesn’t sound terrible. It just means he probably can’t cook unsupervised any longer. But it sounds fair, so he chuckles softly into her hair.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”