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“Are you going to spend the entire night looking at your phone?” Bak asked in what Kin would describe as a dejected tone. He did not dare look upon his brother, certain that there would be some forlorn expression and he would spend the rest of the evening rousing him from his perpetual pouting.

“These festivals were far more entertaining a million years ago.”

His brother offered a sigh, “Always rubbing it in.”

“I am simply stating fact.”

“Why do all of your facts always come off like you are humbly bragging then?”

“That would be because you read into them.”

“I would not read into them if you spoke plainly.”

“Who are you kidding?”

“Okay, maybe I would. It is more entertaining that way.” Bak responded in a dismissive manner before changing the topic, “What is the deal with Mikio taking up all your time lately? He never asks me to help…”

Kin cut him off, “That would be because you are not reliable.”

“Pfft,” his brother responded. After a moment of sulking he added, “I do not get why the two of you treat me like a kid.”

“Do you really want me to address that? I have been keeping a chronological list since you were born,” Kin stated as he shoved his cellphone into his pocket. He was not really certain he wanted to discuss the stuff going on with Mikio especially with Bak, but there he was posed with the decision to speak on the matter or change the topic.

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There was a bit of relief when Bak said, “I have been thinking.” It only lasted a millisecond as Kin remembered the last time Bak said those words, but it did save him from having to address the issues with Mikio that had been transpiring. “Kuro and the Queen of the Kari have this long history or something. Maybe she has been avoiding him because she knows she will not be able to resist that ‘d’.”

“How much time did you think about this exactly?”

“A few hours.”

Kin inwardly sighed, “Honestly, I doubt that is an issue. In fact, it will probably be the only thing not complicated in their relationship. It is the other stuff that they refuse to speak on which…”

Bak interrupted him, “Want to make a bet?”

“What sort of wager?”

“Five grand says that he gives her the ‘d’ tonight.”

“Not everyone is like you.”

“Please, are you telling me that if I found you a hot chick here that you would not give her a little if she was up for it?” Kin opened his mouth to protest, “Not that any girl would look sideways at you dressed like that.”

“There is nothing wrong with what I am wearing.”

Kin felt a sharp sting on his shoulder as his brother gave him a hard attention grabbing slap. “Why it is you always have to make it twice as hard to pick up chicks I will never understand. It is alright though, I am sure there is some girl here that will take pity on you and if we are lucky, she will have a cute friend.”

“I am not interested in picking up anyone. Not to mention, I do not want to be here all night.”

“You really take the adventure and excitement out of everything we do.”

“Are you saying I am not fun?”

“That is exactly what I am saying.”

“Bak, you have to be realistic. I swear you always have your head in the clouds picturing yourself on a horse naked with some girl on your …. riding across a beach with the cool wind teasing your …. That is not how relationships are.”

“Relationships are what you put into them, not what society tells you is appropriate. If I want it that way, I will make it happen. I am not content living a boring life where all we do is watch television together and eat snacks. No man and no woman should be content with that. What does that say about a couple when the most enjoyable part of their relationship is sitting in different rooms. Fucking forgive me, some of them sit in the same room and ignore each other.”

“Attention seeking people like you are only content with constant stimulation. No woman is going to put up with you. I find you exhausting and you are my brother, but you seriously have an unhealthy and unrealistic view on relationships. People work…” Kin stopped walking and turned when he realized his brother was no longer beside him, “Aren’t we going inside to pray?”

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“Why?” Bak asked and it was clear to Kin that his baby brother thought the question was a ridiculous one as he stood before the statues of their father, the god Rin and Tearra the Goddess located outside the shrine. His little brother loved having all eyes on him and never once in his life shied away from being a son of Rin, despite the fear and anxiety that it caused the people around them.

Bak was a baby snake of the Ishi and had the freedom to be adventurous. In a way it was something Kin admired about him. Like many sons of Rin, Kin had felt unimportant. Not in the way Kuro had being the first born and lesser son of their father, but as a number; one of hundreds that were the foundation for Rin’s army against the god Kazuma.

Kin sighed as he took the spot next to Bak, “Always have to get attention don’t you?”

“We are the fucking Sons of Rin, be proud of it.” Those words both injured and bolstered his ego. In some ways he longed to be able to look upon Rin with the same eyes of respect that Bak did, but he had witnessed the monster that was the death god firsthand. The lengths he would go to against his own blood and the unwavering dedication to toppling the King of the Gods Kazuma. Maybe his view was simply jaded because he never got a ‘that a boy’ from his father. If only it was so simple.

“You are thinking to loud,” Bak interrupted his thoughts. “So, what is it this time?”

“Going over calculations in my head.”

“You should change your name to Boringly Uncool.”

“If that is the case, wouldn’t yours be Unrealistically Optimistic?”

“Too long, I like it when a girl twist her tongue around mine not my name.” His brothers words forced a sigh as Kin turned away from the statues. If there was a contest for outdoing someone with words, Bak would always find a way to win. Unless of course he was going against Kuro.

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When Bak was finished he began walking and Kin quickly matched his stride, “So, what are we actually going to do here? Vendors, games, food, or the usual weaving our way through tons of foreigners that think this festival is all about having fun and hooking up. I doubt any of them understand its importance.”

“Come on Kin, it is basically a holiday for getting laid. Even in your day this whole display was about getting hitched, fucking, and having babies. Perhaps you have forgotten how to have fun.”

“I know how to have fun. Simply put, I do not think that foreigners can appreciate events such as these when half of them probably do not even know their own national anthems.”

“Who cares. Why do you have to be such a stick in the mud all the time? Big fucking deal, they are not patriotic in such a minuscule sense of the word. I would be less concerned with whether or not they know some dumb fucking song then I would be about whether or not they go to arms to protect what they value. Stop being so serious all the time.” Their conversation came to a sudden halt when they heard what sounded like an English speaking American.

“I am having fun Ameya, really I am.”

“Don’t even think about it,” Kin stated.

“Come on….” He dragged out the words. “Don’t you want to find out if she is one of that massively large percentage of foreigners that does not know their national anthem?”

Kin snorted, “If you have ever been to an American sporting event, then you well know that the majority of them do not know it.”

“A wager then?”

“Sure why not. We can even make it interesting, if she knows it, I will marry her.”

“I can tell you are being flippant, but I am going to hold you to that.”

Kin shrugged his shoulders dismissively, “Does not matter, I am not losing.”

Admittedly he felt pretty comfortable with this bet, having spent some time in Europe and North America. So, as they approached the young woman he was already inwardly gloating about his victory. “American, right?” Bak asked in English and the girl along with her friend quickly turned.

“Me,” She asked with uncertainty.

Bak smiled which led to Kin inwardly groaning because this was usually the point where the girl would fall all over herself. Panty dropping charm, his little brother always called it. “Forgive me, must seem rude to approach you like this. My brother and I were having a discussion about the American national anthem. We are hoping you could help us, if you do not mind.”

She seemed hesitant. Who could blame her. They were Ishi after all. Just their presence was enough to make most people tremble. Despite that, he was surprised to see such composure from both women; thinking perhaps it had less to do with strength and more to do with them being surrounded by people and in a public place.

Hesitantly she responded, “Sure, what is it you need?”

‘Too nice,’ Kin thought to himself. ‘Seriously, girls these days need to just put their foot down with strange men and say, I am having none of it. This is how you get talked into his bed.’

“There is a lyric,” Bak continued, “We were wondering if it is ‘Oh the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming’.”

She smiled and shook her head, “It is ‘O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming’.”

“O’er?” Bak repeated innocently. “That is a very old word.”

“It is,” She said as her face lit up, “It is an archaic contraction these days only really used in poetry. There are actually quite a few words in my nations national anthem that have come under scrutiny because they are considered outdated. Some of the ‘forgotten’ versus even more so.”

Kin could tell she was intelligent as Bak connived his way into the girl’s pants, “Forgotten versus. I had no idea. So, can you sing all of them?”

She blushed and nervously laughed, “Yes, but you definitely do not want to hear me do that.”

That was about the point that an exasperated sound came from the other girl, “Oh, hey…” Bak said casually, “It is the little cupcake girl.” The expression on her face was a forced smile which of course made Kin inwardly laugh because it was unusual for Bak not to be able to sway every girl he met.

“The two of you know each other?” Kin asked.

“Forgive my brother, little cupcake girl. He only remembers a pretty face if there is a book in her hands,” Bak teased.

“That is not funny,” He said and realized it might be a little humorous as the girl with the big blue eyes laughed.

“Ameya,” The blonde spoke and nudged her friend, “Are you going to introduce me?”

She made a quirky face. Cheeks puffing out in frustration, most likely at being called cupcake girl though Kin was not certain. It would be Bak that would respond, “We have not actually been formally introduced. I stop into the cake shop every morning for coffee and donuts, but have not had the opportunity to get the name of the cute cupcake hostess.” A simple explanation as he added, “I am Bak Ishi and this is my ineptly dressed brother, Kin.”

“I dress fine,” Kin tried to argue, but was completely ignored.

“I am Kat and this is Ameya.”

“It is a pleasure to meet both of you,” Bak responded and then elbowed Kin.

“Nice to meet you.”

With a pause his little brother focused in on Kat, “You got yourself quite a catch in my big brother.”

“Huh?” Kat responded as her eyes widened in confusion.

“He completely promised to marry you…” Kin tried to stop him from saying it, “If you knew the words to your national anthem.”

“Why do you always have to be a dick?” He could feel the embarrassing hue traveling along his cheeks. “Sorry,” He managed to apologize. “Really I am. He is not being serious.”

Kat smiled, “He seems pretty serious.”

Kin sighed, “Alright he might be serious.”

“Don’t let him fool you. He acts like he is kicking and screaming, but he really enjoys it. After all what guy would not want to marry such a lovely girl.” The blush to Kat’s cheeks was not lost on Kin. He sometimes hated how well Bak could charm and tease people. Always capable of pushing the right buttons to get a reaction, but never the type of guy you took too seriously because it was clear in everything he did that he never meant any harm.

“Well if I am to marry him we have to do something about the way he dresses,” Kat finally spoke up after having composed herself.

“Seriously, I dress fine…” He had begun to say, but then quickly realized she was teasing him, “Oh, sorry. I am not …” Was he blushing again? It felt like it. Bak was right he was pretty inept where some things were concerned.

“No no, I am sorry,” She politely responded, “I was just teasing. No offense intended really.”

“So, the way I dress does not bother you?”

He was almost hopeful when he asked the question, but Kin was no fool. The look in her eyes said one thing, but her lips said something else, “Your style has character.”

As he stared at the little blonde he realized that he had blocked out everything that was going on around them including Bak and Ameya at least until he heard his brother respond with, “Really I love eating your cupcakes.”

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