Hayasaka was quite oblivious most of the time (even he knew that), but he couldn't shake the feeling that there was something strange going on with Natsuo, the current banchou, and Okegawa, the former banchou.
He didn't know what had happened during the last day of the cultural festival when Natsuo and Okegawa had disappeared together, leaving him to guard the inside of the school with Yui, but something must have happened then. They'd come back looking somehow different, though he couldn't exactly pinpoint how.
That was why he'd taken to observing Natsuo and Okegawa. Both of them were people he respected greatly. If something ever were to come between them, Hayasaka might find it hard to take either man's side, though he did owe a great deal more to Natsuo. If not for Natsuo, Hayasaka would have stupidly continued to run headfirst into fights without ever dodging the punches that came his way. Natsuo taught him that fighting required thinking and strategy, that deflecting an attack wasn't cheap but rather a skill high-level fighters utilized.
When it came down to it, he didn't actually have to think too much about taking sides. Hayasaka would support Natsuo all the way even though Natsuo probably would be able to handle everything by himself. Even with that short stature of his, Natsuo was one of the most impressive fighters Hayasaka knew.
He cared greatly about Natsuo, so if anything funny was going on, he wanted to know.
He stared at Natsuo and Okegawa's backs, trailing behind them as they walked towards the classroom where a bunch of male students were waiting to thank Natsuo for his help in training them as maids for the cultural festival. Natsuo and Okegawa's height difference was, like usual, eye-opening. Okegawa was very tall and fierce-looking, as expected of any school's banchou. Natsuo, on the other hand, was short, very short, almost like a girl, but he certainly didn't fight like a girl. The way their uniforms hung off their shoulders showed their difference in physique too. Okegawa's black gakuran stretched across his back while Natsuo's hung loosely, not at all what one would expect of the school banchou.
With them side-by-side, no one would ever believe that Natsuo, who didn't even reach Okegawa's shoulders, had once sent him flying with a single punch. With Natsuo's superb fighting abilities, Hayasaka probably didn't have to worry about Natsuo being hurt or anything like that. But if Natsuo wasn't injured, then Hayasaka didn't even have a clue about what was making him feel off, like something strange was going on and he was left out of the loop. It made him feel a little lonely.
He continued watching them both as they approached the classroom, noting how Natsuo would playfully punch Okegawa, and Okegawa would ruffle Natsuo's hair in response. Come to think of it, when had they gotten so touchy-feely with each other? Hadn't Natsuo been avoiding Okegawa just recently? Hayasaka remembered Natsuo had been ducking under tables and behind doors whenever Okegawa had been around, yet now they behaved like they were best buddies.
Once they reached the door to the classroom, Natsuo turned towards Okegawa. From the sidelines, Hayasaka watched as a wide smile came over Natsuo's face. What was more surprising was when Okegawa returned the smile fondly.
A thousand alarms went off in Hayasaka's mind.
He freaked out.
Hayasaka had known for a long time that Natsuo leaned that way, and he'd been fine with it after Natsuo reassured him that he wasn't his type. Later on, he discovered that he wasn't quite as fine with it as he'd thought when Saeki had hugged Natsuo and had pretty much told Hayasaka that they were an "item" (after all, a male teacher and a school boy? It hurt his brain to be in the know about something like that). He thought he had put it behind him but now there was this.
He didn't even know what to call this.
It looked a lot like flirting. Maybe they were flirting, but that couldn't be right. This was Natsuo and Okegawa, the banchou and former banchou, two men he respected greatly...
He watched in horror as Okegawa leaned down to whisper in Natsuo's ear. Any other day, that would have looked innocent, but this was triggering even more alarms. Okegawa was acting considerate. Come to think of it, hadn't Okegawa spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to locate Natsuo? What if Okegawa had been...pursuing Natsuo and Natsuo had been avoiding him because of that?
No way. Did Okegawa-banchou lean that way too? Since when?
And now that Natsuo had stopped trying to escape from Okegawa, did this mean he had accepted his advances? They looked so comfortable with each other...but wait, didn't this mean Natsuo was cheating on Saeki-sensei?
Suddenly, an image of a fight breaking out between Saeki and Okegawa over Natsuo came to mind. He'd have enjoyed the image (fights were fights after all) if it hadn't morphed into one where Natsuo was sitting in Saeki's lap and Okegawa was at their feet, caressing Natsuo's chin.
Hayasaka banged his head against the wall.
"Uh, Hayasaka, are you all right?"
When Hayasaka looked up and met Natsuo's lidded eyes that always made him look like he was beckoning his opponents for a fight, he freaked out even more because Natsuo actually appeared seductive with his beckoning eyes.
He freaked out so much that he turned and dashed off, disappearing down the corridor in a flash.
Natsuo was left staring at Hayasaka's sudden retreat.
"Did I do something?"
Okegawa shrugged with a slight roll of his shoulders. They were surrounded by too many other students, so he only had two choices, lean down and whisper his response, or perform a series of verbal Morse code. In the end, leaning down was quicker and assured that his response would not get lost with the incessant chatter around them.
"Does he still not know that you're the Morse girl?"
Natsuo - Kurosaki Mafuyu - looked up and scratched her wig. "I just want him to treat me like a normal girl when I'm Mafuyu." She didn't have to explain that normal girls shouldn't be able to send men taller than her flying with one single punch, or that Hayasaka treated fighters he respected like heroes to be idolized instead of a normal friend he could joke around with.
Okegawa patted her on the shoulder reassuringly.
Around the corner, Hayasaka freaked out some more when he happened to look back. From his angle, it sure looked like Okegawa had leaned down to kiss Natsuo. The grab on the shoulder was the clincher that caused Hayasaka's eyes to roll backwards.
When Hayasaka woke up in the infirmary, Natsuo was by his bed, fast asleep. Hayasaka found himself smiling - it was a rare sight seeing Natsuo so relaxed since he was only ever around when something was going on - before he realized what he was doing. He punched himself in the face, trying to get rid of his stupid smile.
"Hayasaka...?" came Natsuo's sleepy voice.
Oh gods, not the voice too. The lidded eyes had been bad enough.
"What happened to your face?" asked Natsuo, blinking himself awake and stretching like a cat.
"I hit the ground when I fainted," Hayasaka said.
"But your face hadn't been that injured when I carried you here..."
So Natsuo had been the one to carry him? The thought somehow made Hayasaka's face redden.
They fell into a strange silence when Hayasaka didn't answer. He even looked away.
"You're avoiding me," Natsuo said bluntly, dropping the matter about Hayasaka's facial injuries. "Why?"
Hayasaka hesitated. Was it all right to ask? But if he didn't ask, he would be forever plagued by thoughts of threesomes and cheating boyfriends. "You and Okegawa...what's going on?"
Natsuo blinked his eyes. "Me and Okegawa-sempai? Is something supposed to be going on?"
Hayasaka was about to breathe a sigh of relief - it sounded like nothing was going on - when Natsuo made a small sound of exclamation, as if he had remembered something of great importance.
No way, had Hayasaka been right that Natsuo and Okegawa...?
"Ah..." started Natsuo, who really needed to stop looking at Hayasaka through those long eyelashes of his. It was making Hayasaka tremble. "I forgot to tell you that Okegawa-sempai is now the banchou again. He defeated me today. Threw me over his shoulder." Natsuo mimicked the motion.
Hayasaka blinked. And stared.
"You're not banchou anymore?" he asked dumbly.
Natsuo grinned and shook his head.
"Why do you look so happy about losing your position?" asked Hayasaka. His mind was still trying to catch up with this new piece of knowledge.
"Okegawa-sempai is a much better banchou than me. And I never really wanted to be banchou. Have you ever seen me perform any of the banchou's duties?" asked Natsuo.
Hayasaka shook his head. Natsuo wasn't ever around enough to lead the school even though he fought well enough to claim the position of leader.
"See? Okegawa-sempai is a much better choice."
Hayasaka nodded, and when his mind finally caught up, he felt his shoulders relaxing.
So this was what had been tickling him all day! This was the reason for the strange feeling that Natsuo and Okegawa had given off that he couldn't put his finger on! Natsuo and Okegawa's positions of power had changed. No wonder they acted differently around each other now!
Hayasaka leaned back against the walls of the infirmary and smiled widely, glad that he had been wrong. He could now lay his worries to rest. Next to him, Natsuo grinned in response, thinking that Hayasaka was happy with Okegawa as their new banchou.
Both Hayasaka and Natsuo (A.K.A. one Kurosaki Mafuyu), were quite oblivious as to what the other person was thinking, and both of them were somewhat off the mark with their own thoughts, but both were content, so oh well, let's leave them be for now. One day, perhaps they'd do more than grin stupidly at one another, but today is not that day.
They grinned some more, and that was that.