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chapter forty four; waiting

Hanako was one of the worst people to go shopping with, no matter how much he swore otherwise.

Ava and her brother had been hanging out in the weeks leading up to their sister's wedding, seeing as they were probably the only two people in the family—besides some distant cousins who had no problem with Ava, but rarely talked to her—who could hang out with each other for longer than an hour without it being awkward. The brother and sister had eased into everything in the category of normal again, not quite the same dynamic they had, but more than what Ava currently held with Aya, and rather than dancing around the topic, the few weeks that flew by were spent with them embracing what had happened in the past.

Ava already knew that, though she was stubborn, she had a horrible habit of giving people second chances if they asked for them, and she couldn't exactly help it that Hanako was as brotherly charming as they come. The six-foot-tall Japanese 25 year old just had the type of personality and face that could convince you to do anything, and it's how he managed to avoid groundings and punishments when he was a senior in high school who partied frequently. That was one of the reasons why the two of them were wandering around a Barnes and Noble long after Ava had already applied for a job, Hanako flipping through his choice of true crime studies while the books in Ava's hand consisted of either feminism or women's studies, or revolved around adventure fiction.

Hanako sipped loudly at his cappuccino, sighing as Ava picked up yet another book to the stack already forming in her hands. "Why isn't your boyfriend here helping you?"

"You're the one who wanted to hang out, dumbass. Sorry that all your Kappa Alpha Phi whatevers were all too busy hiking or climbing the Macca Piccu," Ava said sarcastically, handing her books over to her brother so that her arms wouldn't grow tired.

She swore that all his white friends were named some variety of Chad or Brady. He had shown her a picture and named all of them, and some she recognised from before she left home, when Hanako was eighteen and came back from college orientation with at least two boys in tow. One of them had a sister who was awfully cute, but between all of the side-swept haircuts and Vineyard Vines accoutrement, she couldn't remember exactly which boy it was.

"You didn't deny that Luke was your boyfriend."

"Well, he was, technically. For a couple months," Ava replied, thinking that they ought to go and pay for some books before Ava spent four more hours in the store.

"Do you think that's it for you two?" Hanako had finished his drink and threw it out in a nearby trashcan. Ava wanted to say something about how that stuff was bad for him, considering that he was the fitness buff in the family, but decided against it.

"I don't know. I think that we're definitely meant to be in each other's lives for a long time, but I don't know if it's because we're supposed to do cheesy romantic bullshit or if it's because we're just supposed to stay friends." Ava stepped on the escalator, Hanako following her so that they both could ride down together. "But stop talking about my love life. What about yours, nosy?"

Hanako shrugged, but it was the kind of shrug that made Ava believe that there was something he wasn't telling her. "Kind of boring. I'm really busy and stuff."

"And stuff?" Ava scoffed because she didn't believe his cavalier front at all. "What stuff?"

Hanako was an attractive guy and Ava had to deal with the gross embarrassment of her childhood friends always having some sort of weird crush on him whenever they would come over to bake cookies or to do facemasks. He was a total ladies man, and he was handsome because he got most of their mother's delicate features and tight bone structure. Really, he was as easy on the eyes as they came, and Ava would sometimes find herself jealous of her brother.

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