The most anticipated weekend was over, and another week had finally began.
“Hey Bro, what happened to you? I couldn’t reach you at all,” Ken asked.
Ryū gave him a look and did not respond.
“Is everything okay? Oh and, by the way, when you stayed in your old room, did the new tenant catch you?” Ken asked another question.
“Stop pestering me. This is all your fault!” Ryū yelled at him. He looked like he could dig one of Ken’s eyeballs out any moment now.
Ken noticed that Ryū was not in a good mood, so he stopped asking.
“What did you do?” Seijirō, one of their classmates and fellow basketball player whispered to Ken.
Ken shrugged and did not say a word.
Lunchtime came. Ryū hung out with his team at the cafeteria and went to grab some lunch. While he was falling in line to get his food, Ken patted his back. Ryū responded with a “Hmm?”
“Hey Dude, that’s the cutie you helped during our kouhai-senpai meet, right?” Ken asked while pointing to the left.
Ryū froze from where he was standing when Ken asked him that. Ryū did not respond and went on to get food. After finally getting his meal, he went to the farthest table so that Kichirō would not see him.
While the other guys were getting their food, Ryū started eating fast so that once he was done, he would get out of the cafeteria, far away from that Kichirō.
As soon as he was about to take his first bite, someone approached him and sat in front of him. Ryū was dumbfounded.
“Hi Senpai! Mind if I join you?” Kichirō asked with a warm smile on his face. Where did that awkward and timid Bench Boy go?!
Ryū kept his head hung low and continued eating with a wooden look on his face, as if no one was talking to him. However, this indifference was only for show. Deep inside him, his heart was like a bar of chocolate that was left to melt under the sun. The more that Ryū saw Kichirō, the more that he found this little guy adorable. His smile alone could make Ryū’s heart skip a bit.
Ken came over with a tray of food in his hands and suspiciously remarked, “Hey Cutie! I didn’t know you and my Bro were this close.”
“Uhm…we recently got acquainted. You see…we’re next-door neighbors. My room’s…my room’s just across from his…He slept over last time,” Kichirō stuttered while blushing.
Ryū wanted to shrink and disappear because of what he said. He was literally doing a mental facepalm now.
“Fuck, Bro! So he’s the new tenant? No wonder you were so eager to go there. Are you going out? How come you never told me that you’re into cute boys like him?” Ken said as he laughed and teased Ryū.
“There’s nothing between us. We’re not even friends. Shut your dirty mouth!” Ryū exclaimed while shooting daggers at him with his eyes.
“You don’t have to be shy about it. We’re best buds. I completely respect your preferences.” Ken gave him a sidelong glance and smiled mischievously.
“Ryū-senpai. I thought we’re already friends. I’m so sorry for troubling you. I think I need to go,” Kichirō said apologetically.
Kichirō stood up, took his tray of food with him, and walked away.
Ryū’s heart jumped. He immediately stood up, followed after Kichirō, and grabbed him by the arm. He took the tray of food that Kichirō was holding and placed it on a nearby table.
“Ooh—!” Ken whispered. “I think we’ll leave you lovebirds alone. We have a major lovers’ quarrel brewing here, hehe,” he added.
“Please let me go,” Kichirō said with his voice trembling.
“What did I do?” Ryū asked. In his mind, he pondered why he even had to chase after this kind.
“I’m a nuisance to you, aren’t I?” Kichirō asked as if he was about to tear up.
Shit! What should I do? Without thinking, Ryū hugged him and said, “Be quiet. You’ll look even stupider if you’re gonna cry.”
Kichirō remained still and did not speak.
Realizing that the people around them were already staring, Ryū was about let go of him, but Kichirō broke himself free from his embrace first.
Ryū was taken aback when he did that. Kichirō even shoved him off.
“Senpai, we’re both men, why are you hugging me?” Kichirō asked.
Ryū raised his right eyebrow and did not respond. How could I not hug him when he looked like he’s about to cry? Normally, I don’t give a damn if it’s someone else, but he’s different. Ryū was on the verge of getting his entire sanity sucked up by a dark void.
Ryū did not realize that when he was spacing out, Kichirō had already walked away from him. In an instant, Ryū followed after him.
There was an eerie silence that suddenly dwelled within the cafeteria which was bustling a moment ago. People were baffled from what they saw and started to whisper.
Ryū did not care about this. He was already used to being scrutinized by those watchful eyes. Ryū went on chasing after Kichirō. For once, he wanted to follow his heart. Shit! Ryū, you’re getting soft, he said to himself.
Ryū quickened his steps. It was a good thing that he had long legs and so, he was able to catch up to Kichirō and pulled him by the arm again.
“Let go of me!” Kichirō exclaimed.
“What’s wrong with you? I just wanna talk,” Ryū said. He was not used to this kind of situation wherein he was the one chasing after someone else. He did not know what to say or do.
“Kichirō-san, is Ryū-senpai bothering you?” Someone suddenly popped out of nowhere.
Kichirō did not respond.
Ryū immediately looked at the guy who spoke. He was taller than Bench Boy and looked leaner and more masculine. Don’t tell me this guy’s…his boyfriend? “We’re in the middle of discussing something here,” Ryū said.
“Senpai, I’m sorry for my intrusion, but I can tell that Kichirō-san’s not in the mood right now. Let me take care of him. If you’ll excuse us,” the other boy politely said and threw one of his arms on Kichirō’s back.
A nerve in Ryū’s head twitched, but he chose to keep his calm. “Hold on, I still need to talk to him,” Ryū blurted out. He was so perplexed by what he saw, so much that his short temper was about go haywire any moment now.
“Let’s…let’s not talk for now. People are staring, Senpai. Let’s just go Ki-kun.” Kichirō hesitated as he spoke and pulled Naoki away with him.
Ryū was left speechless. He was put in the situation of a kouhai who was begging for a senpai’s attention, except that it was the other way around.
“Bro, you have a serious competitor, heh,” A guy randomly popped out of nowhere and yes, it was Ken again. “I saw everything. Don’t tell me again you don’t have the hots for that cutie, eh?” He said while he tugged on Ryū’s arm with his elbow. Ken smirked with the intention of teasing him. He looked like he was really amused seeing Ryū in this state.
“Go to fucking hell!” Ryū angrily yelled.
“If you’ll keep on denying it, don’t blame me if one day I’ll snatch him from you, haha!” Ken laughed.
Ryū scrunched his brows as he looked at Ken then turned to walk away in a huff.
After all that drama, Ryū went to the rooftop to get some fresh air. It was hard to gather his thoughts on what had happened and he could not come up with a reasonable explanation as to why he was acting this way toward that Kichirō. He wanted to skip class but he could not. He had to keep his perfect attendance in immaculate condition.
Back in the classroom, they were all looking for Ryū. There was about two or three minutes left before the next class was about to start. Fortunately, he was able to make it.
“Where have you been? We thought you wouldn’t show up,” Ken worriedly asked.
Ryū was reticent and did not react whatsoever.
“If you’re worried about that cutie, I can help you,” Ken said.
And again, Ryū did not respond, but between best of friends, there was already a tacit understanding that Ryū gave him a go signal.
Ken Hirano, it’s your time to shine, heh, Ken optimistically said to himself.
He used his undeniable charm to gather information about this cutie who got his friend head-over-heels in love like a howling mad dog.
It was a good thing that Ken had a big network of friends. In a short period of time, he was able to find out where that cutie’s next class would be. He felt really proud of himself. He knew Ryū would come wagging his tail at him like a cute little puppy after hearing the details later.
Ken decided to head to Kichirō’s class after their class. Good thing they were only freshies, so classes were not as hectic as theirs yet. They were on self-study at the moment.
The door to the classroom was wide open. He peeped inside and saw a nerdy girl with black, long, curly hair, who was seated nearby. She wore circular, black-framed eyeglasses. When the girl, who was busy reviewing, looked at Ken, he instantly winked at her. She raised one of her brows. Unfazed, Ken waved at her and asked her to come over. She stood up and came over.
“Yes, Hirano-senpai?” she asked.
“Hey, uhm…cutie, do you have a classmate…erm…a guy, who’s short, with a bob cut, and is quite timid?” Ken awkwardly asked while smiling at her.
Earlier, she was frowning, but the moment she heard Ken ask about another guy, her eyes glimmered. “Oh, you mean Ishikawa-san?” she asked and looked like she was eagerly waiting for his response.
“I guess he’s the one,” Ken grinned. “Do you know if he’s got a girlfriend…uhm…or a boyfriend?” Ken asked.
“Why do you want to know, Senpai? We’re not really close. You should go and ask Sakaguchi-san. They’re always together. He’s the only one he talks with. Maybe he’s got the answer to your question. Oh, speaking of the devil, here he is,” she said with sparkly eyes.
Ken looked at the guy who was headed toward his direction. The guy was about to enter the room. This face looked familiar. He then remembered that this was the same guy who took that cutie away from Ryū earlier, so he decided to stop him and ask directly, “Hey Bro, are you Ishikawa’s boyfriend?”
The other boy blushed and politely replied, “I’m sorry Hirano-senpai, you may have been confused. We’re only friends. He’s not my type.”
“Eeeh??? You like men?” Ken tactlessly asked and had his mouth agape.
“Haha!” Naoki coldly laughed. He did not answer Ken’s question and then asked, “What else do you want to know?” After asking this, Naoki noticed that their classmate was standing beside them, eagerly staring at them and listening to their conversation. “Uhm, Aiko-san, can we help you with something?” Naoki asked.
Aiko, the classmate whom Ken asked, suddenly woke up from her daze. “Ah, sorry. I was…I was just thinking of something.”
“Cutie, your face is turning red. Are you okay?” Ken asked.
“I’m…I’m fine…sorry,” She muttered then hurriedly left and went back to her seat. Still, her eyes were glued to the two, who were outside the room.
“Where was I? Oh, you see, I have a reason for coming here, hehe. What’s Ishikawa like? What does he like? What does he enjoy doing? His favorites? Dislikes?” Ken blasted one question after another to Naoki.
Without answering any of Ken’s questions, Naoki directly asked, “Do you like him?”
“No way! I’m straight. I’m just helping a friend out,” Ken reasoned.
Naoki chuckled and said, “Hirano-senpai, you’re kind of cute when you’re defensive like that.”
Ken smirked and felt proud of himself. All of a sudden, he pinned Naoki against the wall. “Do you like me?” Ken whispered with a husky voice to his ear. Ken tried to kiss him, but it was only to tease the other.
When Ken’s face was close enough to his, Naoki pushed him away. He was blushing and his ears were all red as well.
“Haha! I’m only kidding. You’re funny, Kid. Sakaguchi, right?” Ken awkwardly forced a laugh and walked away. After walking a few steps away from Naoki, he looked back and winked at him.
Ken could not help but laugh because of the look on Naoki’s face. Haha!