Confusion is another relatively short prequel to Turning His Life Around that features Kenji (YAY! Kenji is my favorite! -Mr. Grace) and Ian primarily and helps establish more of their prior relationship after Kenji left to join the military.
“Kane!” Ian kicked the front door closed, tearing open the envelope in his hand. “Mail!”
“What?” Kane called as he turned off the sink and dropped the dish sponge. He turned toward the doorway in time to see Ian step into the kitchen waving a small envelope. Snatching up the towel, he wiped the suds from his hands. “What’s that?”
“Letters from Kenji.” Ian held one out in the vague direction of his friend as he focused on his own letter, reading through the small sheet in his hand.
“They’re awfully thin,” Kane commented, tearing his open. He pulled the single page out and scanned it quickly before reading through it more carefully.
“He’s coming home. Leave for the holidays before they ship him out. He’s due…” Ian trailed off and looked over at the calendar on the wall by the phone. “He’s due tomorrow!”
“Yes!” Kane grinned over at Ian then turned back to his own letter. “Same basic thing. I don’t know why he sends two,” he said, shaking his head.
Ian chuckled. “He likes getting two back. He wants us to pick him up. I’m glad classes are over for the semester. We’ll have more time with him.”
“Me, too. Hmmm. He doesn’t say what time in my letter.” Kane looked up at Ian. “Does he say in yours?”
Ian shook his head. “He’s not specific here, either. He says he’ll call, sometime in the afternoon. We’re supposed to get him at the base.”
“I’m not sure I know where that is.” Kane frowned in thought.
“Um… along the water, not far from the Fujihara distribution, I think,” Ian said. “We can look it up. Mom might know, too.”
Kane nodded. “Okay.” Then he grinned, “Can’t believe he’s finally coming home. Damn, six months is a freaking long time. Feels like it, anyway.”
“I know. I wonder how long he’ll be home. My letter doesn’t say.” Ian’s forehead scrunched up in puzzlement. “I hope it’s a while.”
“He says here about three weeks,” Kane chuckled. “Well, he’s not redundant, is he?”
Ian laughed. “Oh good! And no. He makes sure we have to read both to get all the information.” He shook his head then frowned. “That’s… odd.”
“What is?” Kane asked, leaning over to glance at Ian’s letter.
“The way he signed it.” He tilted the sheet so Kane could look.
Kane’s eyebrows went up, then he flipped the paper over he held and they climbed a little higher. “He signed mine the same way.”
“Huh,” Ian said, staring at the line before Kenji’s name.
“Yeah, huh,” Kane echoed.
Ian shook his head and reread the letter. Nothing else seemed out of the ordinary. “The rest is pretty normal, if short. Well, it’s probably short just because he’s coming home,” Ian offered.
“Yeah. But the closing?” Kane asked.
Ian shrugged. “Maybe just excited to see friends and family?” he suggested.
Kane stared at his friend. “Maybe,” he said, though the tone of voice said he wasn’t buying it.
“Well, I guess we’ll see, huh?” Ian asked, reading through his letter once more.
“Yeah, guess so.” Kane shrugged a shoulder and went back through his own missive. “Hey, he asks here if he can stay with us for a few days. Apparently his family’s not home yet.”
“They’re not?” Ian looked up, puzzled.
“That’s what it says,” Kane shrugged.
“Does he say why?” Ian asked.
“No. Just says they’re not home. Maybe they’re visiting someone else. His trip home was a bit of a surprise,” Kane said, folding his letter back up.
“That’s true. Well, don’t think Mom’ll care.” Ian’s eyes kept drifting back to the closing on his letter.
“Doubt it. Well, tomorrow afternoon. Better clean out the jeep,” he grumbled.
Ian laughed. “Yeah. Too many fast food bags in there from school.”
Kane made a face. “Well the food in the dining hall sucks.”
“You don’t have to convince me. Half of those bags are my fault.” Ian laughed. “Probably should make sure the room is clean, too.” He sighed and glanced at the clock. “Really glad the semester’s over. I’ll miss the extra money from not working until January, but I’m happy we have the time off. I guess we better get started if we don’t want to be scrambling around tomorrow. I still have to do Christmas shopping and if he’s going to be home, I don’t want to spend our time with him doing that.” He grimaced.
“Yeah. I haven’t shopped for Mom, either. Well, then, let’s go.” Kane grinned. “I hate shopping, but I don’t mind so much this year, with Kenji coming home. Hmm… I wonder what he can take with him…,” he mumbled on his way out of the kitchen.
As Kane wandered down the hallway, muttering to himself, Ian chuckled. His eyes fell onto the letter again and his mind went back to the goodbye with Kenji before he went off for basic training. That kiss had stunned Ian completely and six months later, he still hadn’t forgotten it. He frowned at the letter then shook it off. He’d know soon enough.