Despite being the only two Zherikhins to permanently reside in Inkopolis, Yuri and Boss rarely spend time together without pomp and circumstance. He’ll attend her presentations at the museum for emotional support, and she’ll be backstage at his fashion shows to anchor him. They’ll go out with their mutual friends and face off in Turf, but there’s always other people and something to focus on.
It’s feels like it’s been an eternity since the siblings were simply alone.
They lay in bras and underwear, exhausted from changing out of the clothes Yuri is making for them then changing back into them as he makes fine adjustments. After calling it quits for the night they laid on Yuri’s living room rug and… never got up.
Boss intertwines her hands on her stomach, content to watch the lights of passing cars and the glow of neon signs dance on the ceiling. Sometimes her view is compromised by a puff of vapor escaping Yuri’s lips. After the fifth time she bumps her shoulder into Yuri’s in annoyance.
I swear if you get me second-hand high and let me eat everything in your fridge again, I’m gonna skin you alive.” The harsh but empty threat rolls off Boss’s tongue loosely in her native Molluskvan.
Yuri can’t help but smile. When she speaks to her friends in Inklish she’s so controlled and formal. He’s not sure if that’s due to not being comfortable with the language, but given how long she’s spoken it he has to guess it’s a choice. Either way, he feels special. This rough-around-the-edges natural Bosco is just for him.
“What about first-hand then?” He smirks and holds the vape pen to her lips as a joke. She squints at him and he starts to retract his hand, but he startles when Boss roughly grabs his wrist. She inhales deeply from the pen and gives it back to her brother as she exhales the vapor through her nose.
Yuri just looks at her incredulously. She doesn’t do this on her own time, does she? She doesn’t even own one of these? Right? He searches her face for answers as she turns her gaze back up the ceiling, but it’s pointless. She’s impossible to read. He clicks the pen off and lets it roll out of his hand onto the rug. Yuri follows Boss’s gaze and watches the lights dance for a minute, until the silence starts bugging him.
“I met a cute guy. Hans. They DJ at some of the clubs around here. I was thinking about asking them out.” He says thoughtlessly, quietly.
“Oh?” Boss’s slight teasing tone is enough to make Yuri blush. “You got over Lana quickly, Yura.”
“I’ve been over Lana for a while.” There’s a hint of sadness to his voice, but Boss hums in understanding.
“‘Met’ doesn’t mean ‘dating’ though, does it. You’re still hesitant about jumping in, then? You’re usually so forward with how you feel.” Boss turns her head to look at him as she asks. He sighs loudly and she lets out an amused huff at how his cheeks turn greener.
He tries to change the subject to something else before it becomes about his current emotional state. “So, anyway. How’s it going with Fuyuko?”
Boss takes the question in good stride. “Great! I think I lucked out with him being my first partner.” She smiles dreamily up at the ceiling, and Yuri can feel his breath catch in his throat. “He’s ambitious and cares about me a lot, and we never fight like I see other couples do. I think he’s perfect… he has some emotional baggage obviously, but I can tell he works hard to be his best for me. I’d be happy being with him forever.”
Yuri tunes out most of Boss’s gushing; he’s transfixed on her face. When was the last time he’s seen a smile from his sister? He’s seen little smirks and the corners of her mouth lift when talking to her boyfriend, but when was the last time he saw a real, genuine smile that crinkles her eyes and makes her voice sound lighter. When was the last time he heard her say anything about someone so romantically and earnestly without her sounding like she was going to get in trouble for it.
Her face gradually relaxes and the smile disappears into a flat line. It’s then that Yuri realized he didn’t allow himself to blink. He follows her gaze back up the ceiling, his voice sounding a little small. “I’m. That’s good. I’m glad he makes you so happy.”
The pair go quiet again and for Yuri the silence is heavy. He didn’t deserve to see that. He knows he’s the reason she stopped smiling in the first place.
His hands grip the plush fibers of the carpet and he closes his eyes. A memory plays, the first time he met Bosco on the dock of Inkopolis. A still gooey inkling beaming at him despite him looking like he’d been run over by a train. He thought about that moment over and over again as the two of them grew up and Boss became hardened as she shouldered Yuri’s inner turmoil along with her own.
“Hey.” He says, and she makes a very graceful ‘buh’ sound as she opens her eyes and wipes a bit of drool that started leaking out of her mouth. Yuri’s a little jealous that she’s apparently content to sleep on the floor and doesn’t feel the need to over-analyze everything the second conversation drops.
Yuri doesn’t start until he’s sure she’s paying attention. “Do you remember that time I was in the hospital and you twisted your wrist when I pushed you off the bed.” He asks, and he can see her hesitantly turn her head toward him.
“I do.” She answers flatly.
“Or when you spilled a juice box on one of my first sewing projects and I yelled at you so much you cried for days.”
Yuri gently rests his hands on his chest. They’re shaking. Boss props up on an elbow and stares at him in a way that says ‘get to the point already’.
“I used to take out a lot of anger and stuff on you… I haven’t been a very good brother to you.” He admits and he wishes to anything that Boss’s face would move even a millimeter in reaction, good or bad.
She looks him right in the eyes. “You were a terrible brother.” Yuri chokes slightly as his heart feels like it might split in half. “Past tense. Now… I’d rate you a seven out of ten, if you bribe the judge with some cooking.”
He knows that’s her form of a joke. Bosco trying to lighten up the tension, that’s hilarious. But his brows furrow and tears prick at his eyes as his mind is overwhelmed with guilt. His sister leans over him with what must be worry.
“Boco, you should punch me.” Yuri blurts out suddenly.
The shock is clear in her voice. “What?”
“Punch me.” He says slowly and takes a breath. “In my fucking face.”
It’s not something he thought to say, but he said it and he’s okay with that. It came from the heart. Unexpected bursts of emotion were something Boss grew accustomed to from him, so he’s not surprised that she doesn’t say anything. She lifts up her fist and looks at it hesitatingly, and he closes his eyes in waiting. After a few moments, Boss lightly baps her knuckles against her brother’s cheek.
He groans in annoyance and begins to stand up. “Come on! Punch me for real!”
“Are you some sort of masochist now?” She stands with him, crossing her arms.
“No!” He barks and runs a hand through his hair. “Just… Just let me feel like I’m getting all my bad karma back for being shitty to you.”
He stares hard at his sister with his tears starting to run down his cheeks. Her non-existent brows furrow and her mouth opens to ask a question, but nothing comes out. Boss is unmoving while Yuri bows his head and rest his hands on his knees, as if the weight on his shoulders is too heavy for him to stand up right.
Boss watches as a few of his tears hit the rug. “I’ve been such a piece of shit to you and now I’m trying to get my team back from underground? Why. Why do I think I even have the right.” The question is mostly choked out to himself. Boss takes a breath to answer, but he continues anyway. “I messed you up and I think I can be a good brother to some girls who are already messed up? What’s to say I’m not just going to make everything worse?!”
He straightens back up to look at his sister. She hasn’t budged an inch, but he recognizes a tenseness in her shoulders. How can she be so good at holding herself together when Yuri breaks down at the drop of a hat.
He wipes his tears with the back of his hand, then pleads to his sister. “Please, sestra.”
There’s a moment of silence. Yuri looks down at the floor, defeated. He looks up again when he hears Boss take a step forward, and before he can blink there’s a fist swinging in from the left side of his vision.
doesn’t go easy on him. He careens into the back of the couch, nearly flying over it but managing to catch himself and slide down to the ground instead. His jaw stings like a motherfucker and he can taste iron in his mouth from where his teeth scraped the inside of his cheek. All he can see in his swimming vision is Boss’s form moving closer to him.
There’s an emotion in her voice that he can’t pinpoint. “I don’t want to hear anymore of this bullshit from you! I forgave you a long time ago.” She extends a hand to help him off of the floor, and his vision stills just in time for him to see her blink away tears. “If you’re going to be a good big brother to whoever gets stuck with you next, you need to get over yourself!”
He stares at her for a few moments then nods a bit, and for once his mind is clear except for the hope that Bosco feels as freed right now as he does.
Yuri takes the hand up and is immediately pulled into a firm hug. He rests his head on her shoulder and loosely wraps his arms around her waist. When did she start giving hugs again? A shred of guilt claws at his insides again and tears pool in his eyes, but Boss slaps him on the back the second she feels something wet on her shoulder and startles him out of it.
“Stop that, dipshit.” Boss demands and he finally laughs out of relief. He can feel her cheek move where it’s resting against his head. She’s smiling again. At him.
When she releases him she’s still smiling, and he gives her a lopsided grin, made more lopsided by his swelling cheek. “Ice packs are in the freezer, right?” She asks and turns to the kitchen.
He sinks back onto the rug, rubbing his cheek and not minding the pain so much.
“Yeah. Thanks, Boco.”