They ate in silence, which Ma Dai had no outward qualms about. When did anything ever bother him? Er, well, at least visibly? Not very many could tear down those walls of his, not even his cousin. In fact, there was only one he really knew that could see beyond that broad smile and those acts of kindness when things got rough, and that was his mother. Of course, she kept what she knew to herself for Ma Dai’s sake. It was like this with his isolated thoughts that he was most happy. Nothing could truly harm him like that, and he was still able to make people truly happy.
Once his cousin spoke up, Ma Dai lifted his head to look at him. Blinking, he tilted his head as Chao spoke, denying the offer the artist had so graciously given. “But I thought—” he cut himself short once Chao continued to speak in reference to breakfast as his earlier question had asked. Lowering his eyes, Ma Dai fell silent instead of continuing his previous train of thought as he leaned over his knee again to continue eating; slicing the dull edge of the knife through the cooked yolk to slide onto the edge of the toast before biting into it as well.
When Ma Chao stood with his clean plate, Dai lifted his head and watched as he carried the used kitchen utensils into the kitchen. Blinking, he looked back down onto his own plate and lifted a hand to rub the back of his head. What did he say…? He could tell that his cousin wasn’t… Overly pleased. His acts of relative kindness went unnoticed, his friendly over breakfast was denied and he felt that the meal was unappreciated. Of course, these were all things that he would not admit to him, nor would he allow his expression to betray; these were thoughts that remained reserved within his own mind as he tried to better determine how to lift his cousin’s spirits.
Finishing his own plate of food, Ma Dai stuffed the last strip of bacon into his mouth and lifted the dishes before toting into the kitchen as well. Wiggling his way up next to his cousin, he bumped shoulders with him and stuffed his hands into the sink as if to physically (rather than verbally) get him to shove off. He was technically the guest, right? So that meant it was Ma Dai’s job to take care of the dishes. Not to mention Chao needed to get into a routine of things now that he was in a new environment. Regardless of whether or not he decided to move though, Ma Dai took over in terms of washing the dishes with a simple excuse: “you’ll get dishpan hands without gloves.” But it wasn’t like he had a pair of yellow gloves on either.
Regardless, once he took over and cleaned up—regardless of the protests Ma Chao made, if any—Ma Dai turned off the tap and let the sink drain. Shaking his hands into the sink, he turned to look for a dishcloth to dry them on. After searching for a good minute or two—circling the cramped kitchen both with his eyes and his feet—he gave up and dried his hands on the thighs of his track pants before tugging them back onto his hips, again, and wandering towards his own room to get dressed. Thankfully he took a shower the evening before—realizing his own lazy tendencies in the morning, he at least prevented a twenty minute lag in his morning schedule. On the downside, however, he went to bed with his hair wet, so it stuck out awkwardly rather than lying flat. This was the case with his hair every morning, unfortunately, though it was that messy, frumpy look that he grew used to and no longer bothered to try and tame anymore.
Tossing the door closed behind him, Ma Dai pulled a few separate drawers to withdraw the articles of clothing he needed: undergarments, a dark pair of jeans, a pair of socks and a gray, V-neck knitted sweater. Changing and pulling on said items—save for the sweater—didn’t take longer than a few minutes, but when he was done, he walked out of his bedroom and into the bathroom to finish with his morning routine. Tossing the sweater, a belt and his socks onto a chair on the way over (ultimately to avoid staining it with toothpaste and to put on deodorant and light cologne without stretching the neck or shifting the top awkwardly) he cleaned himself up in the bathroom with general, menial morning tasks. Once all the above was complete, he wandered back out with yet another yawn. His sweater was then pulled on, followed by the brown leather belt before he finally sat down to tug on his socks, calling for his cousin regardless of what he was doing just to see how far along he was in getting ready for the unfolding day.
“Are you almost ready cousin?” Ma Dai certainly was. Just slide on a pair of laceless leather shoes, and slide the single-shoulder bag over his head and he was out the door.