Withdrawing to the other side of the classroom from where the other boys were joking and laughing loudly about sports and girls and… well, whatever it was that most boys his age liked and he most distinctly didn’t, Shige sinks into his desk with a sigh. There’s a few minutes left before seventh period begins on a warm Friday in late May, and while he has the fact that he doesn’t want to sit through another class or concentrate on another lecture before being released for the weekend in common with his classmates, aside from that, he’s always felt awkward and isolated. He can’t imagine what life would have been like if he’d gone to an exclusive, fancy boarding school like this since elementary school; he’d moved around for his dad’s job since he was a kid, but for some reason, he’d rejected the idea of being sent to live away from his parents until they’d moved to Pennsylvania just before eighth grade and then were set to move away again by December of the following year. When Shige had moaned that he didn’t want to change schools yet again, his parents had replied, “Well you could always go to boarding school,” and, for lack of any other way to escape yet another move, he’d agreed.
He’s not sure whether his friends in elementary school in California had just been more like him, or if it was the tiny, isolated boarding school atmosphere that felt stifling, but whatever the reason, Shige has never really felt like he fit in here, even a year since he’d started ninth grade with a bunch of kids who had, by and large, been going to the same school in the same class since they were six year old. It’s not that his classmates are mean, or that they don’t like him— they had accepted him in about as friendly a manner as Shige could have expected— it just feels like apples and oranges. While his classmates play baseball in the summer and basketball in the winter for fun after school on the school grounds, Shige retreats to the library or his dorm room to read. While his classmates are deeply engaged in the Super Bowl and March Madness during the appropriate season, Shige is much more intent on learning the chords to a new song for his guitar than the rules of football. And worst of all, while his classmates talk of crushes on girls from their hometowns and brag about their sexual fantasies about female celebrities, Shige desperately tries to hide the fact that the only people he ever has wet dreams about are kids at their very distinctly all-boys school.
But that’s life, he thinks, or rather, there’s not really anything he can do about it, and so he’s come to accept his relative solitude. It’s not that he doesn’t have friends; there are other boys who talk to him at meals and ask for his help on their homework and all the regular sort of boarding school things classmates do, but at times like these, when everyone else is engaging in a deep debate of whether Avril Lavigne or Christina Aguilera would be hotter in a bikini, he finds it’s easier just to withdraw himself from the conversation. It’s not really a big deal, anyway; seventh period will start soon and the teacher will make everyone sit down and stop discussing things that are arguably inappropriate for the classroom, and then after another forty-five minutes or so, it will be the weekend and Shige will be free to do whatever he pleases.
But there are still two more minutes or so until the beginning of class, and so Shige stares idly out the window, brushing his long bangs out of his eyes as a pleasant breeze blows in from outside. The school building overlooks the athletic fields, and Shige can just make out the faces of his classmates and upperclassmen, as well as the unfamiliar forms of students clearly from another school, as the track team gathers to begin a meet. Shige’s heart rate picks up slightly in his chest, and before he can stop himself, he finds himself scanning the kids wearing their school’s uniform until a certain face makes his stomach flipflop upside down inside of him.
He feels like a total idiot when he brain catches up with his heart, but he can’t help it. As if being secretly gay in a boys high school wasn’t bad enough, for some time now, Shige has been hiding a raging crush on the star of the track team, Hironori Kusano… who also happens to be Shige’s best friend.
But how is he supposed to help it? Sure, Hiro is a lot more average than Shige, and a lot more socially apt, as well, but he likes music and plays the guitar, just like Shige, and while he doesn’t exactly have a lot going on upstairs, he’s never acted like the fact that Shige likes to read books and write stories is weird, either. And they naturally have so much in common; they’re both Japanese-American and both were gifted with unmanageably long names that are almost impossible to pronounce for normal people, and therefore go by nicknames instead (though, Shige thinks ruefully, “Hiro” is a lot easier to pronounce than “Shige,” and a lot less likely to be set up for unfortunate jokes, as well). While there are also things about them that are polar opposites— most notably the fact that Shige can’t help but think too much, all the time, while Hiro doesn’t seem capable of thinking about anything, ever— for whatever reason, they’d hit it off just as soon as Shige had moved in, and they’d been inseparable since.
And yeah, the fact that Shige’s heart has totally irrationally decided that he’s desperately in love with Hiro does make things complicated, but Shige’s always been good at keeping things to himself, and so, when they’re together, there’s almost never any problem. But at times like this… well, who could blame Shige for letting his mind wander a little as he watches Hiro warm up for the track meet through the window? He can’t help himself; there’s just something too wonderful and perfect about the way he manages to look cool doing just about anything, but especially running (which always amazes Shige in particular because Shige runs slower than molasses and has the athletic abilities of a rock). And so Shige finds himself breathless as his eyes follow Hiro around the track, his head in the clouds as he imagines just how wonderful it would be to be Hiro’s hoodie, to be so close to him, to touch his skin…
But then suddenly, in the midst of what Shige likes to think is a somewhat Shakespearian daydream (not that he fancies himself and Hiro to be like Romeo and Juliet, least of all because he certainly hopes they’re not going to die at the end of the play), Hiro starts to remove said sweatshirt, but is foiled by a particularly strong gust of wind that sends the article of outerwear flying away, towards the school building. Hiro flounders in his usual clumsy but lovable manner before chasing after it, and Shige doesn’t even realize that he’s starting to lean towards the open window in suspense; will Hiro catch the hoodie, or will another gust of wind carry it away?
Hiro comes close to catching it a few times only to have the wind whisk it away, and while it shouldn’t exactly be the most thrilling thing to watch, Shige is a high school student with a not-very-thrilling life, and besides, pretty much anything involving the boy he has a crush on is exciting in one way or another, and so Shige is totally and completely engaged when suddenly, the wind blows Hiro’s hoodie directly upwards, and Hiro’s eyes follow it up to suddenly meet Shige’s.
For a moment, Shige is totally frozen; while it’s not like he’s done anything wrong, he feels distinctly like he’s been caught in the act of something bad, and so he’d paralyzed on the spot, staring back into Hiro’s eyes. But then, after a moment that feels like years, Hiro breaks out into a huge grin and starts waving at Shige like crazy.
Shige can feel his face turning a deep shade of pink for reasons that only his teenage heart might understand, but before he knows what he’s doing, he’s waving back, a grin forcing its way onto his face just as the bell rings.
In retrospect, it’s kind of a pain in the ass later when Hiro has to beg a teacher to go out onto the roof and get his hoodie for him that evening, and the French teacher is convinced that Shige must be sick and should go to the nurse’s office from how red his face is at the beginning of seventh period, but even if his life is hard and he has what he thinks is more than his fair share of teenager problems, Shige can’t bring himself to regret that interaction even in the slightest.
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