It is a weighty, age-old question: If your OTP characters are in different parts of a grocery store but have visual contact, can A convey to B – without shouting – that A wants B to pick up some broccoli?

Quick beta by Solo. Thank you again!

The Broccoli Conundrum

by Sylvia

Part 1: Junno

Ryo's picking out a nice piece of ginger when he catches motion from the corner of his eye. Junno… Junno, standing in line over by the checkout, waving madly in Ryo's direction.

Stupidly, Ryo can't prevent himself from throwing a quick glance behind himself. Where there's only a mound of knobby roots, of course, and some spring onions and leeks off to the side, none of which seem likely to respond to Junno's signals. Next to Ryo, a couple of women are picking out sweet potatoes; neither of them are looking Junno's way, either.

When Ryo looks back at Junno, the dork's grinning broadly, and then proceeds to roll his eyes in that annoying "you're so silly" way that never fails to make Ryo scowl.


Junno points towards Ryo and then off to the side, and then follows up with a one-handed gesture that, that looks – but, no. Seriously, no way does he mean what it looks like he means. Not in the middle of a supermarket, with people all around! He wouldn't…

But Junno's rolling his eyes again, with more emphasis than before to reach "wow you are super-silly" levels. Ryo feels vaguely flustered and not-so-vaguely confused. Seriously, what the fuck!

Junno steps away from the shopping cart and dips down a little, back straight, knees bent. Then, abruptly, he jumps up like he's on a spring, arms shooting up over his head and out. His elbows stick out sharply as he brings his hands together over his head; he's gesturing to indicate something like – a broad head, or top, or – branches sticking out –

Oh – right! Broccoli.

Ryo turns to find the broccoli and looks straight into the astonished stare of a near-by shopper. She looks like someone's mom, and she's clutching a small pumpkin to her chest with the air of someone who has completely forgotten what she was doing before people around her started going insane.

Everyone in the produce section is staring at Junno, and by extension at Ryo, and so – Ryo is certain – is every single other person in the entire damn store.

Ryo grabs several stalks of broccoli (almost dropping his ginger in the process) and flees. He loiters safely out of sight by the dried fish for a minute or two before he rallies enough to join Junno at the checkout.

He can still feel the weight of the stares from all around; he hardly dares to lift his eyes from their groceries. He's sure he's flushed red as a beet.

Junno, of course, is happily babbling about some computer game, and how he wants Ryo to show him how to make takoyaki, and if they have enough of that really nice wine left for the weekend or if they should stop by Shinkawa on their way home.

"Why'd you do that weird jumping up thing, anyway?" Ryo grumbles once they've escaped the store at last. "Broccoli doesn't shoot up from the ground like some kind of rocket. That's more like – uhm. Asparagus. Or spring onions. Or stuff."

Junno shrugs and grins. "You got it, didn't you? Just be glad I didn't want bamboo shoots."

Part 2: Ryo

Ryo's never going shopping at this time of day ever again. Turns out every single housewife in Tokyo has decided she needs to shop in this store, on this day, at this exact point in time… which is unfortunately also the time that Ryo has discovered the fridge is as empty as an extremely empty thing, and that it shares that trait with every shelf in the kitchen.

So now Ryo's going to grow old and frail at this damn counter just because Junno wants fish. Ryo doesn't even like fish. And where is the dork, anyway?

Aha – over by the mushrooms. Talking to a complete stranger, who seems to be explaining the merits of all the different types, to Junno's rapt and wide-eyed attention. Great, he's probably going to forget all about the broccoli and come back with more shiitake and maitake and bunashimeji than they'll be able to eat in a month.

Of course, that's the moment in which it occurs to Ryo that he kind of forgot to mention the broccoli.

Ryo stares at Junno, willing him to look over. It takes a while because the mushroom expert is now holding up several packets of mushrooms and pointing out something or other to Junno, who appears totally riveted. But it's not like Ryo hasn't got time to spare, and eventually the mushroom lady stops chatting up other people's boyfriends and moves on.

She isn't even buying any mushrooms, as Ryo can't help but notice.

Junno looks up and smiles at Ryo, gives him a little wave. Ryo smiles back, mouthes "broccoli", and points at the broccoli with his chin. Or rather, points in the direction in which he suspects there might be broccoli, even if he can't see any from where he's standing.

The confusion on Junno's face is plain to see, and only increases when Ryo repeats the soundless "broccoli" even more exaggeratedly.

Fuck – now the lady in line in front of Ryo is giving him the hairy eyeball, looking from him to Junno and back again with barely concealed curiosity.

Oh, screw it.

Ryo glares at Junno and turns away to dig out his cellphone. His face feels hot, and he concentrates on his phone and refuses to glance up in case the other people waiting in line are looking at him weirdly. Broccoli! Get broccoli, not loads of mushrooms. Idiot!

A few seconds later, Junno's digging his own cellphone from his pocket. He glances at the display and beams at Ryo briefly before he flips the phone open to read; then, he makes an exaggerated "a-ha!"-gesture – complete with pinging a finger against his head as the light inside comes on – mouthes "broccoli!", and bounds off.

The line in front of Ryo extends into eternity. The smell of the fish lying on ice behind the counter is beginning to make him feel queasy. To distract himself, he decides to make another important point. Also, don't flirt with strange women like that, what did you think you were doing?

You're so cute, Ryo-chan! Junno texts back irrelevantly. Get some shrimp too.

Ryo gets some shrimp, too.

When they finally make it to the checkout, Junno cannily attempts to hide a metric ton of mushrooms underneath a bag of senbei. Junno's canniness needs a lot of work; Ryo gives him an appropriately disgusted look, and Junno smiles brightly and unabashedly and flutters his lashes, and Ryo heaves a long-suffering sigh and resigns himself to mushrooms morning, noon and night for the foreseeable future.

"That was cheating, you know," Junno opines later. "You wimped out, using the cellphone like that. Totally against the rules. Next time you'll have to use sign language, or morse code, or –"

"There are no rules, twerp," Ryo says firmly. "Only results count. I wanted broccoli and I got broccoli, which means I win at life, so shut up."

Junno laughs at him. In the end, Ryo has to resort to more creative measures to get him to shut up, but hey. Whatever works.


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