Mikey walks through the empty halls at a relaxed pace. He shouldn't be out here, he should be in class failing his chem exam, but he'd rather skip and make it up after he pressures his lab partner into giving him his aced test. Besides, he misses Baji and wants to hang with him in the bathroom until lunch.
Convincing Baji to skip is always a group effort though. Ever since he'd gotten held back, he makes sure his attendance is perfect. That's why Mikey has to make a few stops at Draken, Chifuyu, and Kazutora's classrooms for help.
Since Chifuyu’s class is the closest to him, he stops there first. The class looks up from their workbooks to stare at Mikey after he lets himself in.
The teacher points at him with her piece of chalk. "You need something?"
Chifuyu is leaning on the back wall, scowl softening when he recognizes Mikey. They hold eye contact long enough for Chifuyu to take the hint.
Mikey smiles cheekily as he turns on his heel. "My bad. Wrong class."
The door closes behind him and Mikey takes three steps down the hall before he hears it open again. Chifuyu claps him on the shoulder after he catches up to him.
"What are we doing?" he asks around a grin.
Mikey looks ahead, smile growing. "Getting Baji."
Chifuyu clucks his tongue. "Aw. He won't come. He's got an algebra quiz to retake."
"He'll come," Mikey insists, turning the corner to reach Kazutora's class. He peers into the window.
"Kazutora has English third period, right?"
Chifuyu blinks. "I thought he had art?"
They start walking down the stairs to the first floor. Draken's class is also down here, but they don't even have to stop by his classroom because he's already in the hallway, observing the ceramic projects made by underclassmen. They sneak up behind him so Mikey can tug on his braid gently.
Chifuyu clears his throat. "Where's your hall pass, young man?"
Draken jerks behind him, seizing Mikey's wrist in his startled fist. When their eyes meet, Draken lets out a tiny sigh of relief.
"Chill out," Mikey says, shaking his hand away.
"The fuck are you even doing?" Chifuyu snorts, nodding over at the display window. "Admiring the fine art?"
"Shut the fuck up," Draken says, shoving his hands into his pockets.
Draken and Chifuyu prattle on as Mikey starts checking out the pots himself. He notices Emma's poorly painted mug at Draken's eyeline, but doesn't say anything.
Chifuyu gives them all an appraising glance. "These pots suck." he decides.
"Whatever." Draken mutters, already turning away from them. "Where are we going, anyway?"
Mikey takes the lead and guides them across the hall. "Getting Kazutora from art so we can all get Baji and skip." he recaps.
"Wonder what this asshole's painting today," Chifuyu muses.
Draken scoffs. "Probably his teacher again."
The art teacher is both gorgeous and a total pushover. She allows students to skip in her room, as long as they work on something artistic. Mikey's pretty sure English actually is Kazutora's third period, but he goes to art instead because of the girls there.
None of the students bother looking up when all three blondes walk in. Mikey nods over at the art teacher, "Can we borrow Kazutora for a minute?"
She looks up from the student she's currently assisting and shrugs. "He's in the back."
Their friend is sitting between two first year girls. One of them is working diligently on her drawing, while the other one has a blank sheet in front of her. She twirls her finger around the bell hanging off his lobe.
"Did you cry when you got it pierced?" she teases.
Kazutora's too busy letting the girl jingle his earring to notice them approaching.
"Like a bitch," Draken answers.
Mikey remembers the day he'd borrowed his brother's lighter so Mitsuya could sear a safety pin and stab it through Kazutora's earlobe. Baji made fun of him when his hazel eyes watered, but he’d probably cry if he got his ears pierced too.
Kazutora finally looks up at them, the corners of his mouth pulling into a surprised smile. “The fuck are you guys doing here?”
”I’m bored,” Mikey explains. “Let’s go get Baji and skip.”
Kazutora leans back into his seat, lacing his fingers behind his head. ”I’m already skipping.”
“So skip with us,” Chifuyu says.
He looks reluctant to leave the girls behind, but rises anyway.
”You’re leaving?” The girl who’d played with his earring asks.
”The bathroom.” he says. “Wanna come?”
She blushes despite herself and picks her pencil up to start her artwork.
The girl beside her raises an eyebrow. “What are you all going to do in there?”
Mikey hums. They’re probably just going to hang out in the handicapped stall. Maybe flush the toilet a few times. Baji might vandalize the paper towel dispenser again.
“None of your business.” Chifuyu says, tapping twice at her paper. “Go back to drawing that butterfly.”
”It’s a mandala.” she corrects.
Kazutora blinks. “I thought it was a pumpkin.”
“Get out,” she snaps.
Mikey waves at the art teacher on their way out and yawns into the open hall. “Think Baji’s done with that quiz yet?”
Draken shrugs. ”Maybe he’s done writing his name.”
“Probably spelled it wrong, too.” Kazutora sighs.
Chifuyu nods. ”Probably.”
Mikey can’t help the smile that crawls on his face. He loves that dumbass.
They climb the stairs up until they reach the second years' floor. Baji takes his remedial classes here. They all make room for Mikey to open the door.
Just before he can reach out for the door handle, a different hand shoots out first. A spark makes him retract his hand like it’s been burnt.
Mikey follows the slender wrist all the way up to its scrawny arm. His dull eyes glaze over when he reaches the face it belongs to.
A twiggy, elfish girl with iridescent eyes. He watches her eyelashes flutter like angel wings as she blinks up at him.
”Do you have the wrong room?” her pretty mouth asks. Mikey’s eyes trace over the edges of her front teeth, the arch of her Cupid’s bow, the swell of her bottom lip.
“Um.” he mumbles, eyes stuck on her mouth. Faintly, he can hear his friends snickering behind him.
He suddenly gets the inexplicable urge to open the door for her. “Here,” he says, avoiding her question. “Let me.”
His hand flies out in an attempt to open the door but his palms are sweating too much to get a good grip on the handle. Basically he ends up smearing his grubby hands all over her soft skin.
”I got it,” she insists, rustling the doorknob. He gets a whiff of her fruity shampoo as she leans forward.
”No.” he says firmly, shouldering past her to shift his weight onto the door. “C’mon, I said I’d do it.”
“I can open it myself!” she cries, turning the handle. Without the solid door keeping him up, he ends up falling face-first into the open classroom.
“Mikey?” Baji’s inside voice asks before his harsh laughter erupts across the room.
Mikey feels his cheek burn up on the cold tile.
He just ate shit in front of a bunch of second years, all his friends are laughing at him, and worst of all, he’s head over fucking heels in love with the girl responsible for his misery.
Mikey pulling up on South when he tried to kick Senju while she's down🥴
Mikey stomps back to his seat in chemistry.
Baji's algebra teacher, angry with their rowdy interruption in her silent classroom, immediately called a dean and had them all escorted to class.
He'd exchanged his tardy slip with a blank exam at the teacher's desk, now he's using it as a pillow for his aching face. He can't believe Mr. Shimoda is making him take a sixty question test when there's only twenty minutes left of class. Fuck that guy. He isn't even going to pull a pencil out and try his best by guessing.
He couldn't do it if he wanted to, his brain's too busy replaying what just went down for him to focus on anything right now. He wants to blame the girl for his clumsiness, wants to redo the whole thing just to show her how smooth he actually is, but every time he remembers her stubborn grip on the handle, the smell of her flossy hair, the determined glint in her eye, he can't help but angelicize her. How could a girl so lovely be at fault for his incompetence? His infatuation absolves her completely and leaves him feeling like the worst kind of shit.
"Psst. Mikey." his partner mutters voicelessly.
Mikey digs his face further into the paper. What the fuck does this guy want? He tilts his head to crack an eye up at Kisaki. This dude likes to think they're friends, but Mikey's harbored a vague hostility towards him ever since Baji mentioned he gives him a bad vibe.
Suffice to say, Mikey's not friendly with his lab partner, but Kisaki's caught him in an especially bad mood today. Mikey's tempted to grab the glasses right off his face and crush them under his foot.
"The fuck do you want?" he hisses.
Kisaki wordlessly slips his completed exam towards him. Mikey blinks at the neat handwriting and correct answers. He stares down at the boy's test until Kisaki rolls his pencil over to him. "Hurry. There isn't much time left." he murmurs.
Mikey begrudgingly picks the pencil up. As he's about to write his name, he pauses. What if Kisaki's trying to get him caught? The teacher's obviously going to notice that they've got the exact same answers.
"Fifteen minutes left." Mr. Shimoda announces.
Mikey shakes his head. He'll have to fill in a few answers incorrectly so it doesn't look too suspicious. The fear of getting caught and anxiety of not finishing in time makes him tense, but he's grateful that it takes his mind off that girl for a few minutes.
The lunch bell rings after an uneventful fourth class. He’d sat and stared into space for fifty minutes while the teacher reexplained a trigonometry concept to her students. Which is a shame because instead of taking the opportunity to relearn reciprocals, all he’d done was think about that girl again until the bell rang.
Mikey flexes his fist inside his pockets as he walks out into the flooding hallway. It’s still sore from having to fill in his chem exam so quickly. He didn’t even have time to thank Kisaki before class was dismissed.
His head turns to look for him, but a beefy arm is slung around his shoulders, obscuring his vision.
“Looking for me?” Pah asks around a grin.
Mikey feels himself smiling back as Peh joins, throwing another arm over Pah’s.
“Yeah,” he lies, allowing them to lead him downstairs. They pass Baji’s floor on their way to the cafeteria and Mikey still can’t help scanning his eyes around the halls for her.
When they reach their table, Hakkai and Mitsuya are sitting while Yuzuha yells at them. There’s a biology exam with Haikkai’s name on it in her fists. “What do you even do in class?” she huffs, shifting her seat on Mitsuya’s lap. “Sit around and wait until it’s over?”
“That’s what I do,” Mikey answers, reaching over to clasp hands with Mitsuya and then Hakkai.
“Do you also repeat bio?” she asks, showing him the red 28% on her brother’s exam.
His eyebrows lift in surprise. He doesn’t remember getting anything lower than a 40.
“Can’t say I do,” he admits, sending a sorry smile over at Hakkai as the table fills up. Baji, Kazutora and Chifuyu walk in, cracking up when they spot Mikey.
“How’s your face?” Baji asks, lips stretching around his sharp teeth. “Still fucked?”
Mitsuya raises a slit brow. “What happened to his face?”
Kazutora is laughing too hard to explain, so Chifuyu fills them in. “We were all gonna get Baji and skip third, but Mikey walked inside the classroom and busted his ass in front of everybody.”
Peh and Hakkai start laughing at Mikey’s expense.
“Wow. Thanks for the invite.” Pah says dryly.
“Seriously.” Mitsuya mutters.
Now Mikey feels like he deserves slamming his face on the tile. Truthfully, he wanted to hang with Baji, but he’d brought Chifuyu and Kazutora along because they’re closer to him than the other guys.
“Are you okay?” Yuzuha asks.
Mikey rests him cheek in his palm while the rest of them continue laughing. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Mikey!” Emma calls from his left. Mikey turns to see her rushing up to him with Draken trailing behind her. “Are you okay? Draken told me you fell really hard.”
She grabs his aching chin and tilts his face to inspect it. “Ouch!” he hisses, “Yes, I’m fine. Let go of me!”
“Do you need some ice?” she asks before he nudges her hand away from his face.
“What I need is some lunch,” he says, rising off his seat to get in line.
“Woah, careful,” Draken warns, steadying him on his way over. “Wouldn’t want you slipping again.”
He scowls at Draken who only winks in return. His friends line up behind him, pretending to trip with their sneakers squeaking obnoxiously.
Mikey endures another fifteen minutes of their incessant teasing before he finally gets to sit down and eat. They served fried fish with stir fried vegetables today. This is one of Mikey’s favorite meals, but he can barely enjoy it with his friends around.
He wouldn’t drag it out this long if any of them fell on their face like him. In fact, he wouldn’t add insult to injury in the first place.
Emma complains about her skirt having a loose thread and Mitsuya offers to sow it back for her upstairs, so Hakkai and Yuzuha follow them, and then Pah gets back in line for seconds with Peh trailing closely behind. Soon it’s just the five of them again.
Kazutora smirks at Mikey from behind his napkin.
Mikey stirs his miso listlessly. He just might drown him in the soup if he says something smart.
“You got some cute girls in your algebra class, Baji,” he mentions, winking at Mikey.
Baji snorts into his milk. He’d almost suffocated during lunch because he was trying to laugh and swallow at the same time. “There are no cute girls in any of my classes.” he replies.
“What about the one who came in with us?” Chifuyu asks, trying to jog his memory.
Baji licks the film of milk off his upper lip, eyebrows knitted in deep thought. “Oh, that guy?”
Kazutora and Chifuyu erupt into a fresh set of giggles.
“Guy?” Mikey repeats. He knows Baji wears glasses, but does he actually have trouble seeing? “Are you fucking blind? That was a girl.”
“You sure?” he asks over Kazutora and Chifuyu slamming their fists on the table, laughing their asses off.
Draken shrugs. “All I know is Mikey lost his shit after seeing her and then proceeded to wipe the floor with his face.” He says, clapping his hand on Mikey’s shoulder. “Way to make a lasting impression.”
Mikey sucks his teeth as he shoves him off. “Whatever.”
“Wait, are you for real?” Baji asks, “Mikey’s got a crush?”
“Shut up.” he says and just before any of them can respond, the bell rings. Chifuyu and Draken take to clearing the tables while Kazutora follows some second-year girls to their fifth period.
Mikey rises so he can begin his tread up the stairs by himself, but his best friend is right on his heels.
“So,” Baji mutters, slinging his backpack on. “What’s the move?”
Mikey blinks. If this dumbass actually thinks he’s going to allow him into his romantic endeavors, he’s dumber than he looks.
“The move?” he remarks, spite laced into his words. “The move is go to fucking class and stay out of my business.”
After leaving Baji, Mikey goes to his fifth period and takes a nap until seventh. All his friends had agreed to take gym for their seventh period so that even if they each had after school obligations, they'd at least be able to see each other for an hour before going their separate ways.
Mikey scrubs his groggy face with his palms as he walks himself to the locker room. Baji greets him with a whip of his t-shirt across the face. The slight sting against his eyelids wakes him up. Mikey playfully shoves him against one of the lockers.
Chifuyu shoves Mikey back, so Draken shoves Chifuyu and then a play fight is about to break out until a whistle blows. Mikey dresses into his gym clothes begrudgingly, he was looking forward to releasing a little aggression. He hopes they're playing dodge ball today as they shuffle outside.
The coach sits them all down on the gritty asphalt of the track. Baji finally lets his hair down during roll call.
Kazutora eyes his glossy mane appreciatively. "I'm thinking of growing my hair out," he mentions.
Chifuyu scowls from beside him. "Do not."
"Shut the fuck up," Kazutora mutters, elbowing him in the ribs.
"I think it'd look nice," Mitsuya comments, "You and Baji both have thick hair."
"Baji, you look like that guy from Twilight." Pah says out loud.
Some of the girls in their class take notice and begin whispering amongst themselves.
Baji cranes his neck around. "Who?" he asks, canines glinting around a smirk. "Edward?"
"No. Jacob." Pah explains before getting the whistle blown at him.
The coach lets the wet whistle fall onto his polo. "Haruki, why aren't you wearing your gym clothes again?"
Pah throws his head back and groans. "Coach, why are you on my dick again?"
The coach redirects them all to the basketball court so he can write another referral for Pah. Mikey frowns as he starts walking towards courts. He wished Pah could be a little more careful with what he does.
Since there's two classes that have gym at the same time, the court is always full. The other class's coach tells them to practice dribbling, but no one listens to him and everyone just takes a ball from the rack and tries to make a three. Despite there being forty students on the court, there are only two hoops and Mikey's group is infamous enough that no one tries to join theirs.
Most of the girls just sit on the bleachers and watch while the guys start dunking on each other. Out of the corner of his eye though, Mikey spots the same girl from Baji's class and feels his throat thicken. She's trying to guard Ran Haitani, until he passes the ball to Hanma, who dribbles lazily with one hand while smoking a cigarette with the other.
Mikey watches as she tries to steal the ball from between the taller boys. She's got her the crown of her hair tied up in a high pony. The standard gym shorts and shirt are too baggy on her lanky frame. She looks entirely too fragile to be roughhousing with those guys. He almost finds himself walking up to them before a ball gets shoved into his chest. "Where are you going, Michael Jordan?" Baji asks.
Mikey blinks out of whatever trance he was in as he shakes his head. Kazutora follows his line of sight over to the girl.
"Oh, he's going to go talk to his girlfriend," he teases, jerking his thumb toward the girl.
Baji looks over with a perked brow. "That's her?"
"Damn, she's fucking stacked." Chifuyu gawks.
"Seriously," Kazutora whistles, and then looks over at Baji. "How do you see a girl with a body like that and think she's a boy?"
Mikey feels somehow insulted by the way they're talking about her. Her arms look tiny in the sleeves, but the cheap material of the t-shirt stretches against her chest. He feels like throwing sand in their eyes for staring at her.
Baji shakes his head and dribbles the ball offhandedly. "She doesn't look like that in her uniform."
"He's got a point," Chifuyu says. "She kinda blends in with all those guys."
Kazutora rubs his temples. "She was wearing a skirt." he reminds them.
"Can we stop talking about her?" Mikey snaps, snatching the ball from Baji and throwing it at Kazutora. He's quick enough to catch it before he gets hurt.
Kazutora sucks at basketball, so he simply throws it back at Mikey. Soon enough they all start playing dodge ball. The coach is too busy chewing out Pah for not dressing out to notice. Again, Mikey is happy to get all the aggression out of his system after a long day, but he still finds it impossible to look away from her for more than a couple seconds. He catches the grin on Hanma's face and the knowing look in Ran Haitani's eye as she bounces around between them. Kazutora joins him in watching her from across the court.
"Honestly though, how does she have boobs the size of her head and no ass?" he wonders.
"Your mom has that exact body type." Draken points out.
Chifuyu chortles into the heel of his palm. "Wow. Yeah, she does."
Mikey resolutely stares down at his shoes. It feels wrong to look at her like this.
Baji nudges his chin up. "Why don't you just go talk to her?" he asks.
Mikey rolls his eyes. "I'm not taking advice from a guy who's never spoken to a girl."
"What are you talking about?" he frowns. "I talk to plenty of girls."
"Like who?" Kazutora asks.
"Like girls my actual age," he sneers, "Unlike you."
Kazutora scoffs. "Sure."
"You know," Draken plays with his earring, "I feel like the only guy qualified to give relationship advice is Mitsuya."
Mitsuya looks away, blushing slightly at their eager glances. "Stay out of my business." he mutters.
Chifuyu grins. "What kinda business?"
"Probably none," Kazutora snorts. "Hakkai doesn't give them any alone time."
"You don't know that," Draken says, then gives Mitsuya an expectant glance.
He shrugs. "Neither of us is ever home alone, but sometimes I sneak her into my room before my mom gets home."
Mikey watches him carefully. Mitsuya isn't one to kiss and tell. He tries to keep his relationship private out of respect for his girlfriend, but it seems even he's not above a little bragging. Mitsuya blushes again, smiling slightly, "Sometimes, I lick her out."
A grin stretches Kazutora's face. "And the other times?"
"Yeah, what does she do?" Chifuyu prods.
Baji's eyes glimmer. "Better be giving back what she's getting."
Mitsuya's quiet for a short while. They all seem to hold their breath in anticipation.
"Well," Draken mutters after a second, "Does she?"
Mitsuya bites down on a smile, shrugging again, "That's classified intel..."
They all break into celebratory laughter. Chifuyu screams and runs up to slam his palm on the rusty board. Baji leaps up and latches onto the bare rim to do a couple pull ups. Kazutora climbs up the pole and hollers. Draken claps him on the shoulder.
Mikey nudges Mitsuya playfully, just as he's about to congratulate him, he notices the girl walking past their side of the court.
His friends all look at Mikey, waiting for him to make his move, but he's stuck in place. The girl walks up to some random kid sitting on the bleachers with a small group of other second years.
"Oh, shit," Chifuyu mutters under his breath.
The girl starts fumbling with her hair as she talks to him. She's acting the way Emma acts around Draken.
"Is that her boyfriend?" Draken asks.
"Nah," Mitsuya shakes his head, "I'm pretty sure that guy has a girlfriend."
Mikey sizes him up. He's got his hair dyed and styled weirdly. There's no way a guy like that has a girlfriend.
"He looks like a pussy," Kazutora declares.
"Let's beat his ass." Baji says, slamming his fist into his open palm.
"Let's go." Chifuyu nods, right behind him.
Mikey reaches out for Kazutora and Baji's shoulders, pulling them back. "Can you calm down? We're not going to go beat that guy up just for talking to her."
Baji looks back at him. "You know what, you're right. Why don't you go talk to her and rid us of this embarrassment."
"Honestly, Mikey, you've been acting weird ever since you saw her." Kazutora adds. "Just go let her know you think she's cute."
Draken pushes Mikey from behind and soon they all launch him towards her general direction. The momentum almost makes Mikey trip again, but he wills himself to stay upright in her company. He's not humiliating himself in front of her again.
It's only when he's a foot away from them that he realizes he has nothing to say. The guy she's talking to glances up at him. Mikey stares him down.
"You again?" she asks.
Her voice floods his brain like the sweetest song he's ever heard. It makes him stuck for a moment.
"What do you want?" he faintly hears her say.
He takes a slight look over his shoulder to see Chifuyu give him a thumbs-up. His friends are all laughing at him, but honestly, he's just so glad to be around her again. He feels likes he's being enveloped into her whimsical vibe. It makes him giddy.
"Um." his voice cracks. "I can open a door."
The other guy stares at him blankly. "Okay?"
"Is that why you fell flat on your face trying to open one?" she asks, the corner of her lip curling into a smirk.
She's making fun on him. Distantly, he recognizes this, but he's so thrilled to have made her smile that he doesn't care.
"Mikey~" someone calls from behind him. Mikey turns to see Hanma approaching, cigarette burning down and ashing on the pavement.
"Hanma," he greets evenly. He still kinda hates this guy for the way he was eyeing her up.
"You know Senju?" he asks, nodding over at the girl before him.
"Senju?" Mikey remarks. It only just occurs to him that he never learned her name.
"That's the great Mikey you're always talking about?" she asks.
Before they can be formally introduced, the bell rings signaling their dismissal from school.
"What are you doing later?" Hanma asks Mikey, just as his friends come walking up to him.
"Uh," Mikey mumbles, wondering if Senju is tagging along to whatever Hanma's doing after school.
"We're going to McDonald's." Draken answers from behind him, voice edging on vicious.
Mikey takes a look back to see all his friends staring Hanma, Senju and the other guy down. Even Pah and Peh are here. They all look pissed.
Baji puts his hair back up. He manages to wrap the elastic around his ponytail three whole times before fixing them a scowl. "And none of you are invited."
pah reminds me of this guy who used to sit next to me in gym. I think he got suspended halfway thru the year bc he'd never dress out and the coach would b like "Jorge why do u never dress out?" and he'd b like "coach why do u suck so much dick?"
They walk Mikey back to the locker room and briskly get dressed back into their clothes.
"Hate that guy," Draken mutters, eyeing Hanma from across the room. Hanma notices him staring and winks over at him before he shoves his lighter back in his pocket and walks out.
"Yeah, he's fucking weird." Chifuyu says, tightening his shoelaces. "We ready?"
Kazutora sprays them all with ax. Pah starts wheezing as Baji shoves him against the nearest locker.
They wait up for Yuzuha and Emma. Shinichiro makes him walk Emma to and from school every day. Draken's usually the one who looks forward to it more than anything.
They all watch Yuzuha come out of the twin doors alone. Mikey will probably never be able to look at her the same way again. He tries to think nothing of her walking up to peck Mitsuya's lips. "Hey," she says after they part.
"Hey," he repeats, smiling stiffly in front of his friends.
She glances over at them, wondering why they're all looking at her weirdly. "What are you guys up to?"
"We're going to McDonald's." Mitsuya explains, "Wanna come?"
Mikey doesn't really want to go out to eat. That encounter with Senju still has his stomach doing flips.
"Oh. No. I was asking 'cause Hakkai's staying after school to study for his retake and my older brother's working 'til ten, so..." she bites her lip around a knowing smile.
Mitsuya promptly throws an arm around her shoulders and offers his friends a parting nod. "Alright. I'll catch you guys some other time, then."
Kazutora pumps his fist in the air. "Get it, Mitsuya!"
Baji cups his hands around his mouth, "Biiiiiiiiiiitch," he calls after him.
"Did he really just bail?" Chifuyu asks, watching them both walk away.
"Looks like," Draken mutters absently, pretending not to notice Emma walk towards them. Mikey rolls his eyes as they both dance around their feelings in another awkward greeting. "Nice mug." he says, nodding at the pot in her hands.
"I thought it was a bong," Kazutora quips.
"Can we go already?" Pah asks, crushing his referral slip in his fist. "I'm fucking starving."
"Yeah," Baji says, "I just have to stop by my place to get money."
"I got you," Chifuyu offers.
"Nah," he shakes his head, walking down the block. Baji used to live a lot closer to school, but he moved before starting tenth grade. Chifuyu and Kazutora start walking behind Baji, and Mikey finds himself following them too. Emma and Draken tag along behind them.
"Alright, we'll meet you guys there." Peh says, noticing Pah's growing irritation.
Draken nods. "Bet."
Now it's just the six of them walking down the newly developed apartment complex. It's a nice area, but Baji fucking hates it. Even the sidewalk is nicer on this side of town.
"Remember when we used to be neighbors?" Chifuyu asks.
Baji smiles fondly before spitting on the ground. "Yeah. That was before my mom married that piece of shit."
Then he spends the rest of the walk home talking about how much he hates his stepdad.
Baji's stepdad makes a lot of money, but his mom still works two jobs for some reason. Mikey wonders why as they finally reach the porch of Baji's new apartment.
"I swear to god if this motherfucker's home..." he sighs, twisting his key in the front door.
"Keisuke, how many times do I have to tell you to be gentle?" his stepdad hisses from his seat on the couch.
"Why are you here?" Baji groans, kicking the front door closed. "Go back to work, Yamato."
"I can’t. They capped my hours at forty."
Baji drops his backpack on the floor as he slips his shoes off. "Sounds like an excuse to stay at home doing nothing all day."
"It's the truth. They can’t afford to keep paying me." he explains, then scowls at the mess on the floor. "And pick that up. I just vacuumed."
"Then get another fucking job like mom." Baji snaps, pointedly keeping his shit on the floor as he walks into his bedroom. The rest of them follow silently behind him.
Mikey tries to be respectful, because he doesn't really understand what Baji's stepdad did to make Baji hate him so much. It's possible Baji just hates any man that speaks to his mother. Kazutora glances at the trophies and awards lining Baji's bedroom shelves. "Where's that calendar I got you?"
Kazutora thinks it's a right of passage to gift them all a swimsuit calendar for their sixteenth birthdays. Draken stared down at his birthday present before reminding Kazutora that half of those girls lived in his hotel and then regifting it to Peh. Mikey gave his own to Shinichiro for Christmas.
Baji snorts as he opens up his sock drawer with a bang. "You really think stepdouche is gonna allow that shit in his house?"
They watch him rummage through his things for a couple minutes. Kazutora and Chifuyu make themselves comfortable on Baji's bed while Emma and Draken stand idly, sneaking glances at each other.
"Where the fuck is it?" Baji mutters under his breath, pulling up another pair of socks.
"Trust me, bro, I got you," Chifuyu insists.
Baji pulls away from his drawer to glare at Chifuyu. "I said no—"
Suddenly, Baji's stepdad opens his bedroom door. "Can you boys keep it down?"
Baji shakes his head dismissively as he continues looking through his things. "Can you suck my dick?"
Mikey fights the urge to snicker and makes sure not to look at any of his friends because he'll burst into hysterical laughter. His stepdad folds his arms over his chest.
"I received a call from your algebra teacher today." he mentions, leaning against the doorframe. "You know what she told me?"
"That you’re a bitch?"
The lines on Yamato's face settle sternly. "She said you’d failed another quiz."
"I don’t give a damn." Baji rolls his eyes, "Leave me alone."
"Son," he sighs, rubbing his temples, "At this rate, you’ll be in high school until you’re thirty—"
"Don’t," Baji hisses, slamming the drawer shut. "Fucking 'son' me. Holy shit. You are not my dad."
Oh god. Now he's done it. Mikey watches Baji swipe his arm through his dresser and drop everything on the floor. Deodorant, leave-in conditioner, and cologne bottles crack to punctuate his anger. "Get the fuck out of here before I kill you." he snaps.
Yamato frowns at the fallen items. "Keisuke, I only say it because I care." he explains, "Now pick that stuff up and get to studying."
Baji kicks the deodorant dangerously close to his stepdad. "I'm not fucking studying. I'm going to McDonald's with my friends."
Yamato glances at the rest of them. "If these were really your friends, they'd be helping you with your schoolwork."
There's a short pause where they all stare silently at one another, unsure of what to do.
Kazutora's the first to rise. "Alright, Baji, uh, we'll see you tomorrow, I guess."
"Where are you going?" Baji snaps, "Wait a sec, just let me find my money."
"I'm not letting you out of the house, young man." Yamato states before walking off. "Now go get your bag and start studying."
"You are not my dad!" Baji repeats, slamming his palm on the wall. "Fuck outta here!"
"Later, Baji," Draken mumbles, walking after Kazutora.
"See ya," Emma squeaks, right behind him.
Baji gawks, watching them all file out one by one.
"Let me know if you need help with your homework," Chifuyu offers before walking out.
"Don't worry, Baji," Mikey gives him a helpless smile and picks the stick of deodorant up to set it on his dresser gently. "We can just go some other time."
He closes the door behind him as Baji starts throwing another fit in his bedroom. He wonders what he's going to do when his mother gets home.
Yamato sees them all out, leaving the five of them to stare at each other. Emma turns to Mikey.
"I wanna go home," she tells him.
"Alright," he says, leaning over to bump fists with Kazutora and Chifuyu. "I'll see you guys later."
"Later," Chifuyu agrees, turning his heel. Kazutora shrugs and walks off after him.
Mikey leads the way for Emma and Draken, listening absentmindedly to their conversation.
"Can you believe I got a seventy-eight on this?" she pouts, hugging the pot closer to her chest.
"Bullshit," Draken scoffs, staring only at the street ahead of him. "It's worth at least an eighty-three."
He sighs internally. This is such an empty conversation, but Draken's heart is probably beating out of his chest from how thrilled he is. And he's pretty sure Mitsuya's having the time of his life walking Yuzuha home right now. Even if they don't end up doing anything, even if they're simply standing side by side, he's almost positive they're the happiest they've been all day.
Mikey wonders what it'd be like to walk Senju home. They could talk about her algebra quiz, and if she was graded unfairly like Emma. She seems like the type of girl who insists the teacher change her grade because she refuses accept anything other than the highest score.
As they turn a corner, a sudden thought makes the corners of Mikey's mouth twist down.
Who walks Senju home?
Emma's the first to walk up their stairs and slide the door open. Draken trails closely behind. Mikey's nose springs up when he catches the familiar scent of something burning in the kitchen. His brother's home.
Sure enough, Shin's hovered over the sink, pouring water over a hissing pan. He turns the water off when he notices them all walk in.
"You made a bong?" he asks, nodding at the pot in Emma's arms.
The wood floor creaks when Emma stomps petulantly. "It's a vase."
He reaches out for the pot to inspect it. "So why does it have a bowl?" he asks, running his thumb along the off-shooting nozzle.
"It was supposed to be a spout." she explains, "At first I wanted to make a tea kettle, but then I wanted to put flowers in it, so."
Shin hums thoughtfully, spinning the neck of the pot around his hand appreciatively. "Kinda reminds me of Uzumaki." he muses, observing the coils pressed together by her clumsy fingerprints. "What type of clay did you use for this?"
Emma rolls her eyes and walks off to her room.
"Wait! Come back," he calls, "What are we gonna do for dinner?"
Mikey shakes his head as he steps out of his shoes. He walks over to the fridge and pulls two bottles of lychee soda out for Draken and himself. His friend accepts the drink with a grateful nod. Mikey nods back before collapsing on the nearest tatami mat.
Shin raises a brow at his little brother. "Want me to light you a cigarette?” he snorts, then leans in to get a better look at him. “Rough day?"
"You could say that," Draken grins, twisting the bottle open.
"Shut up." Mikey grumbles around a sip of his drink.
Shin watches him take a few more tugs of his soda before asking, "What happened?"
Draken keeps his lips sealed out of respect for his friend. Mikey only drinks his soda and doesn't respond.
Shinichiro's eyes dart from between them expectantly. "Well?"
"Mikey fell flat on his face and embarrassed himself in front of everyone." Emma reveals from down the hall.
Mikey slams his bottle on the table and jerks his head. "Emma!"
Shin sighs in relief. "Oh, that's it? I thought you got suspended for kicking someone’s ass again."
When Emma comes back out, she's dressed in terry shorts and a tank top. Something tells Mikey that if Draken weren't around she'd have just worn one of his old shirts but he doesn't say anything.
Shin doesn't comment on it either. "So, what are you gonna cook?" he asks instead.
"Can't we just go out to eat? I'm tired." she yawns, stretching her arms up and exposing an inch of her belly.
Draken distracts himself by pretending to read the label on the bottle.
"Grandpa hates eating out." Shin says, opening the fridge and scanning the contents inside. "We can go out for takoyaki, but can you cook something for him first? We have eggs and a can of sardines and..." he trails off, "What looks like cabbage. Can you do something with that?"
"I guess," she sighs before sitting down beside Mikey. He snatches his drink away from her when she reaches for it.
"You can have some of mine, Em," Draken offers and in the middle of extending his bottle to her, pauses abruptly. Mikey and Shinichiro stare at him until he retracts his hand. Draken promptly looks away, pressing his lips together in remorse.
"Or you can just get your own bottle, Em," Mikey points out, enunciating the little nickname to scorch both Draken and Emma.
"Yeah, Em, here." Shinichiro says, pulling a bottle of soda out from the fridge and setting it in front of his sister.
"Need me to open that for you, Em?" Mikey goads.
"Don't worry, Em, I've got it." Shinichiro says before reaching down to twist it open for her.
Emma presses her red face into her palms and refuses to look at any of them.
Pity trickles down to his stomach when Mikey looks at her. While he's glad the heat's off of him, he feels bad about crucifying both of them for Draken's slip up. Still, this is kind of fun to do with his older brother's support. Maybe it'll push them to just confess already and stop tiptoeing around each other's feelings. It's embarrassing to witness.
"I have to go," Draken mutters, offering them both a parting nod before walking out of the kitchen.
Emma peeks from her fingers when the door slides shut. She shoves Mikey while he's trying to take another sip. "What's wrong with you?"
His front teeth click against the lip of the glass bottle. He nudges her off swiftly. "What are you talking about, Em?"
"Yeah, Em, what are you talking about?" Shin repeats.
Emma slaps her palms on the table to push herself off the mat and stomps out of the kitchen.
"Shut up," she cries. "I'm not cooking anymore. If grandpa starves, it's your fault!"
"Emmaaaaa," he groans and winces when she slams her door shut in response.
Mikey watches him sigh and plop down beside him in her place. He reaches for her drink and takes a long sip, staring straight ahead.
"What are we gonna do now?" he asks the dirty dishes. "I burnt the chicken and the butcher's closed."
"Order takeout." Mikey replies, staring at the sink.
Shin fishes into his pocket for his soft pack. "Grandpa doesn't eat that shit."
Mikey shrugs around another sip of soda.
"Can you cook?" Shin asks, lighting his smoke.
The cigarette burns as he stares at him. "What's with you?" he asks.
Mikey buries his face in his palms and throws his head back in agony. His nose wrinkles again when Shin takes his first toke.
His brother's larger, warmer hand reaches out to remove Mikey's hands from his face. "Talk." he tells him.
Mikey sighs melodramatically before confessing to the leaky faucet. "I like a girl."
Shin lets his cig burn another centimeter before shrugging. "So?"
"She does not like me."
"Did she tell you that?"
"She didn't have to." he mutters, looking down at his bottle.
Shinichiro watches him for a few more seconds, then finishes his smoke, nodding to himself.
"I had a crush on every girl in my class." he mentions, crushing his cig in the ashtray.
"They all rejected me."
"Didn't let it mess with my game, though."
A smile crawls onto Mikey's face. "What game?" he snorts.
Shin shoves him gently. "Do you see me sulking around just 'cause some girl doesn't like me back?"
Mikey leans into his touch. "Guess not."
"You want some advice?" Shin offers, flicking his lighter on.
"Don't let it get to you," he says anyway. "It's nothing personal. Just accept she's just not interested and move on to the next girl."
Mikey blinks at their charred dinner in the pan and dismisses any advice from his brother as bullshit. "Okay."
"Alright." Shin beams, clapping him on the shoulder. "Now if you take the blame for the burnt chicken, I'll take you out for taiyaki this weekend."
Mikey considers it. Emma's probably going to snitch and get them both in trouble. And even though he has no appetite, he'll never pass up on taiyaki.
feliz navidad 🎄
The next morning, Mikey wakes up to a McMuffin thrown in his face. “Get up.” Baji grumbles.
Mikey unwraps it with his eyes still closed. His grandfather yelled at all of them last night and only made a small pot of miso for dinner. It’s safe to say he’s starving. “Thank you.” he mumbles, inhaling the steam of the sandwich.
“Shut up.” Baji says, taking the McMuffin away, “Now, c’mon, get ready. I can’t be late to school again or my mom’s actually gonna kill me.”
Mikey cracks one eye open to see Chifuyu leaning on his desk, eating a hash brown. He gives him a small salute with two greasy fingers. Mikey nods absently at him as he collects his uniform and heads to the bathroom.
Once he’s dressed, Baji grabs him by the hair. Mikey begins eating his breakfast as Baji pulls all his locks into a tight ponytail.
“Ew,” Mikey says, scowling at his reflection. “Take it out.”
“Why?” Baji asks, admiring his handiwork.
“I look like you.” he says around another bite of his McMuffin. He needs something to drink.
He walks into the kitchen to see Draken sitting there while Emma braids his hair. Her fingers freeze over his blonde braid, waiting for another taunt from her brother. Instead of saying anything, Mikey pulls the elastic out of his hair and sits in front of Draken expectantly.
Baji walks in to see Draken pulling Mikey’s hair back into its standard style.
“Aww,” Chifuyu coos, watching the braid train. Baji snatches the final piece of the McMuffin from Mikey’s hands and throws the wrapper in Mikey’s face.
“Let’s go,” he huffs, sliding the front door open. Chifuyu rushes after him. Mikey checks the time and moans when he sees how early it is. Baji is serious about making them all go to school on time. He’s really not looking forward to embarrassing himself again.
Emma rises first and slings her bag on. Draken gets up after her and walks out the door. Mikey tosses the wrapper in the trash and follows them both out.
“Hurry up,” Baji barks, glaring at them from over his shoulder, “Pick up the fucking pace.”
Mikey groans from the last place in their line. Chifuyu is just a step behind Baji and Draken is getting dangerously close to walking in sync with Emma.
They all arrive before the first bell rings. Pah scowls at them as they make their way over to their table.
“Good morning, flakes.” he scoffs.
Mitsuya ignores him, too busy cuddling his girlfriend in his lap while Hakkai stands by awkwardly. Kazutora doesn’t even look up from his magazine. Mikey offers a sorry shrug. Baji reaches into his bag and throws another McMuffin in Pah’s face as the bell rings.
“Shut the fuck up,” he mutters before walking off to class. The rest of his gang disperses and leaves Mikey with no choice but to actually attend class.
He’s used to coming late and skipping his first period altogether. Because of this, he barely knows anyone in his homeroom. They had assigned seats, but the teacher is lenient enough to not enforce them. He takes the only free seat in the back next to some guy who looks like he’s been held back at least four times.
They don’t really talk much, but Mikey’s the only person who isn’t afraid to sit next to Muto.
“Good morning,” Muto says, eyebrows pulled up in surprise.
“Morning,” Mikey yawns. He could probably get away with sleeping for the whole hour. Just as he’s about to rest his eyes, he hears heavy footsteps coming towards him.
Mikey glances up to see Smiley beaming down at him, bright as the sun. “You’re up early.” he chirps.
Mikey finds himself grinning back. Smiley’s cheerfulness is contagious. “Miss me?”
Even though they don’t really hang outside of school, Mikey still considers Smiley a good friend of his. He has an interesting sense of humor, and he’s pretty cool, and he’s got a really charming smile. The kind of smile that gets him out of trouble.
“Nahoya,” their teacher chides, “Go back to your seat.”
“In a minute,” he promises, flashing her that same smile before pulling up a chair to sit adjacent to Mikey. “I gotta ask my boy something.”
Smiley’s suddenly looking at him a little funny. Mikey quirks a brow. “What’s up?”
He shrugs. “I heard something about you the other day.”
Mikey closes his eyes but tries to keep his face neutral. “Oh?”
“Heard you tried opening the door for some girl and ended up busting your ass in the middle of her classroom.”
It still feels like it just happened five minutes ago. He clears his throat. “Where’d you hear that from?”
“Hakkai told my brother, and he told me. Thought I’d see if it was true.”
“Oh.” Mikey says, annoyed with how quickly word gets around. Smiley stares expectantly at him until he admits it. “Yeah,” he mutters.
“How’d you fall?” Smiley snickers. “She push you?”
“No, uh,” he recounts, face burning. “I tried opening the door for her, but she wouldn’t let me, and then we were both struggling for it before I… lost my balance.”
Smiley runs a hand through his bushy curls. “You open doors for girls now?”
Mikey puts his face in his hands and scrubs his eyes until he sees fireworks behind his eyelids. Honestly, what the fuck is happening to him? He’s turning into Shinichiro.
“Guess so,” he sighs.
“Nahoya,” the teacher chides. “Leave Manjirou alone.”
“Missssssssss,” he hisses, smiling almost splitting his face in half. The teacher rolls her eyes and goes back to whatever she was saying. Smiley fixes him another funny look.
“You like that girl or something?”
Mikey shrugs his shoulders. He’s alright with confessing to Smiley. He isn’t a complete piece of shit unlike his friends. “Kinda.”
Smiley leans back in his seat, assessing the situation with a considerate smile. “You should ask her out,” he suggests.
Mikey shakes his head. He was just about done thinking about Senju. Shinichiro’s advice helped quell his desire for the night, enough that he’d almost dismissed the idea of dating her, but Smiley’s pep talk is making him seriously reconsider.
“I don’t know,” he mumbles. “I don’t think she’s into me.”
“Did she say that?”
“So, why’re you acting like she isn’t? C’mon, don’t sell yourself short. I know a ton of guys who’re worse off than you and still pull plenty of girls.”
Mikey’s mind drifts back to the basketball court yesterday. If that loser Senju was talking to yesterday has a girlfriend and managed to grab her attention, Mikey’s sure he’s got a shot.
Still, he’s never felt like this before. And the times he’s tried to speak to her, he’d spazzed out. “How?”
“It’s easy,” Smiley insists. “Just make her laugh and buy her shit.”
Mikey blinks. Most of his allowance is spent on food and buying cigarettes for Shin. He can’t afford to buy gifts. “Like what?”
“Take her out for ice cream,” he tells him.
He stares into space, nodding along. Ice cream is a good option. Inexpensive but lovely all the same. “Think she’d be down?”
“Hell yeah,” Smiley says, “Bitches love ice cream.”
Mikey titters at the absurd remark. Smiley really is a card. “Whatever,” he shakes his head.
“Trust me.” Smiley says before nodding over to a table beside them. “You see that girl over there? The one with brown hair.”
Mikey squints at a group of three brunettes all huddled together, sneaking looks back at them. “…Sure.”
“I took her out for ice cream last weekend and now she can’t stop laughing at what I say.”
Mikey gives him a skeptical look.
“I’m serious. Watch this,” Smiley turns to the girl, “Hey, Fumiko,”
All three girls look up at the same time. Mikey wonders if they all became friends because they look similar, or if they began styling their hair the same way because they’re friends.
“Yes?” the one in the middle—Fumiko, he assumes— responds.
The seemingly permanent upturned curve of his mouth flattens down. For a second, Mikey thinks he’s turned into Angry.
“Water bottle.” he deadpans.
Fumiko blinks at the words for a moment before exploding into a fit of hysterical giggles. Mikey’s not sure if this is some sort of inside joke, but her friends look like they’re about to piss themselves laughing too. All three of them get red in the face, mascara running from the tears they’re shedding.
Smiley gestures at them, “What I tell you?”
It isn’t long until Mikey starts laughing too, and then they both crack up, and now there’s two tables in the back disturbing the class with their laughter.
“Nahoya,” the teacher snaps. “I’m not asking you again. Get back up here right now.”
“Alright, alright,” Smiley rises from his seat and gives Mikey a parting clasp of his hand. “Good luck.”
“Thanks,” Mikey says, squeezing his hand. He should really make an effort to come to attend his first period more often. “We should hang.”
“Definitely,” Smiley nods, rushing to return the chair to its desk as their teacher clicks her heels over to him. “We could go on a double date.”
“Who? Me and Senju with you and your girlfriend?”
“No. Us and my girl’s friends.” he mumbles, before flashing his darling smile at their teacher who starts threatening him with detention.
With nothing left to do, Mikey stares down at his blank worksheet fondly. Smiley made some valid points. His hopefulness has been renewed.
“Were you guys talking about Senju Akashi?” Muto asks under his breath.
His voice startles Mikey for a moment. He’d forgotten he was still there. While he isn’t sure of her last name, he’s curious as to how Muto’s heard of her.
“You know her?” Mikey asks.
Muto stares straight ahead, eyes as impassive as ever. “I know her brother.”
maisen rise 😇💘
Chemistry is as boring as ever. They’re reviewing their exam and the teacher keeps calling on students randomly to help him explain the correct answer to the questions.
Mikey’s pretty sure Kisaki got a hundred on his test, but the boy still watches the board intently. He waits until Kisaki leans back in his seat to address him.
“Kisaki,” Mikey murmurs, careful to keep his voice down.
Kisaki tilts his head slightly.
“Thanks for last class,” he says, offering his hand under their table. “I appreciate it.”
Kisaki stares down at his palm for a moment, blinking at the implication before accepting it.
“Happy to help.” he whispers back with a firm squeeze. "How's your face by the way?"
Indignation twists his features for a moment. "It's fine," Mikey grumbles.
"I heard some girl pushed you," Kisaki mentions, trying to see if it was true or not.
"She didn't push me," Mikey scoffs. "I fell. For her." he adds lamely.
Instead of laughing, Kisaki only nods. "Senju, right?"
"Uh," Mikey squints, "Yeah... how did you—?"
“Manjirou,” Mr. Shimoda calls, jerking both their heads forward. “Why don’t you explain how you solved question eighteen?”
Mikey retracts his hand and picks his pencil back up. “Um,” he clears his throat. “I… think I got that one wrong.”
“No, actually, you were among the only three students to answer it correctly.” Mr. Shimoda remarks.
Mikey pushes down the urge to facepalm. He spoke too soon. Maybe Kisaki actually fucked him over with this. Straight up failing is better than cheating. “Honestly, I just guessed.” he replies.
Mr. Shimoda stares at him with a wary eye for a few beats. “That was a very, very, very lucky guess.” he says finally. “Yamagishi, would you explain how to solve question eighteen?”
Yamagishi clears the tension with his longwinded explanation and successfully holds the teacher's undivided attention. Mikey lets a sigh of relief out as the class moves on. He ends up using fifteen minutes on his needless elaboration, but nobody seems to complain about it.
Something still bothers Mikey, though. He remembers last year, when Baji tried buying an aced exam off of Kisaki, but he refused to sell it to him and burned the exam using Hanma's lighter. “Why’re you helping me?” he asks, eyes narrowed.
Kisaki straightens back up and scoots up closer to the desk. Mikey thinks he's not going to answer for a moment, before he speaks up.
“I want you to get your girl,” Kisaki says simply. The lenses of his glasses flash ominously when he pushes the bridge up. “And I want to get mine, too.”
The lunch table is more packed than usual. Draken accidentally brushes his thigh against Emma's and Mikey has to suffer through them both blushing furiously and pretending it never happened.
"Why the fuck is our table so cramped?" Draken mutters, hiding his red face behind his hand.
Everyone who's usually here is in attendance. Hakkai is sitting on Yuzuha's lap, who's sitting on Mitsuya's. The problem is Kazutora, who brought those two girls from art class.
Kazutora has somehow convinced these girls he's actually cool instead of a fucking loser. The one who was interesting in him is straddling one of his thighs while he peels a clementine and feeds it to her. Her friend is sitting beside them, looking increasingly uncomfortable around all these strangers and the shameless display of affection.
Chifuyu holds his hand out for a clementine wedge. "Gimme one."
Kazutora flings the rind at him. "Fuck off."
Baji arrives a few moments later and slams his tray on the table. "What the hell is this?"
"I brought a few friends over," Kazutora explains. "Thought you'd enjoy the company."
"Well, can they bring their own seats?" Baji replies. "I'm not eating on the fucking floor."
"You could sit on my other thigh," Kazutora offers, patting his left leg.
"You could suck my dick." Baji snaps.
Chifuyu is the only one kind enough to stand so Baji can sit and eat his lunch. They exchange nods as Baji takes his seat.
Mikey tries swiping one of Baji's grapes but gets his hand swatted away immediately.
Baji shakes his head as he parts his chopsticks. "Stop bringing random girls to our lunch table, Kazutora.”
“Why?" Kazutora asks, slipping another citrus wedge into the girl's lips. "I'm just trying to even out the ratio. It’s a fucking sausage fest over here.”
“Do you not see these two girls in front of you?” Chifuyu asks.
“I see a girl who clearly has a boyfriend,” Kazutora says, nodding at Yuzuha before moving on to Emma, “And another girl that no one’s allowed to look at.” he then throws another piece of rind at Chifuyu. “Now shut the fuck up and be grateful she brought a friend.”
“Oh, hey,” Chifuyu nods unenthusiastically, finally acknowledging the girl beside him. “How’s that butterfly going?”
“The mandala is going fine, thank you for asking.” she scoffs, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Mandala,” Chifuyu parrots. “Is that your name?”
The girl on Kazutora's lap pulls away from his hand to say, “No, it’s Haruka.”
Chifuyu's brow quirks a bit. "That's a pretty name," he says.
Peh throws a balled-up napkin at him. "Shut up, asshole."
Emma giggles at that. Draken ends up laughing too. Mikey only snickers because he's making fun of them, not because anything is actually funny.
"What are you laughing at?" Baji asks, elbowing Mikey in the ribs. "Why don't you go over to your girl and tell her what's so funny?"
Senju is across the lunchroom, sitting on a half empty table with Hanma, Kisaki, and the Haitanis. He watches her laugh at Rindou's unfunny joke and pushes down the urge to snap his wire-frame glasses.
Mikey elbows him back harder. "She's not my girl," he scowls.
“Why is she always around guys?” Pah asks, sneaking a citrus wedge from Kazutora.
“Probably has no friends,” Mandala-girl suggests.
"How would you know?" Mikey snaps, "Mind your own business."
"Nah, she definitely doesn't." Baji says. “I'm probably the only person she talks to in that class. We were actually talking about you earlier.”
Mikey squints, trying to call his bluff. He can never tell when Baji's being serious or not. “What did she say?” he asks.
Baji hums, as if trying to recall their conversation. Mikey suffers through the anguish of waiting for him to finish eating before he responds. “She said your hair was fucking ugly and that you should style it like mine.”
"Yeah, right," Mikey scoffs, snapping the band of Baji's ponytail. "I'll go fucking bald before I wear my hair up like that."
Baji shoves his hand away. "Why don't you go tell her that?"
"Why the fuck would I? You probably didn't even say anything to her. I bet you just retook your quiz and failed again."
“Actually the retake is after school, so go fuck yourself." Baji grumbles. "And at least I can speak to her without fucking dying.”
Mikey heats up in front of his whole table. Why do they keep bringing this up? "I don't die."
"Prove it," Kazutora goads, smile stretching unnaturally.
“Yeah, go talk to her then,” Baji says, pushing Mikey out of the table so he can manspread.
Draken slides Baji's ankles closer. "Move over," he tells him.
Mikey looks back at his table and sees that there's absolutely no space for him. He doesn't have much of a choice left. “Fine.” he says, running a hand through his hair before walking over to where Senju is.
“Mikey♡” Hanma greets affectionately. Kisaki is sitting beside him, nodding at Mikey silently.
Ran and Rindou both dip their heads into little nods at Mikey, who barely returns the courtesy. He isn't here for any of them.
Senju turns around to see who they're all staring at. Once she meets Mikey's gaze, she rolls her eyes. “What is it?”
Mikey stalls out. He can't believe he came up here without a fucking reason. Well, he has a reason, but it isn't a justifiable excuse to walk all the way over. His throat thickens again. He can hear his friends snickering from across the room. Fuck them.
The guys sitting behind Senju watch expectantly, some amused, others curious. Mikey thinks of no one except her.
Out of his peripheral, he sees a familiar bush of ginger hair moving towards the vending machine. He remembers this morning, and musters up all the courage Smiley gave him earlier.
“Uhh,” Mikey clears his throat, fully intending to ask her out for some ice cream, but then thinking better of it. He should try making her laugh first. He decides to take a page from Smiley's book. “Water… bottle?”