"Three weeks of lunches," Ryo dares him.
Tegoshi sneers. "Four."
Massu rolls his eyes. "That's just getting greedy."
"Four weeks," Tegoshi demands. "This is my reputation at stake here!"
"Three weeks," Ryo says, sipping his juice. "Three weeks worth of lunch, and you can use my locker until the end of the year."
"Why would he want to use your locker?" Yamapi pipes up, missing half the conversation as usual.
Tegoshi considers this. As an upperclassman, Nishikido's locker is a lot more centrally-located. It would be so much easier to get to class if he could store a few of his books there. He looks across the cafeteria, sighing as he spots his target. The kid's got a pocket protector, for god's sake. He prides himself on being the most popular boy in class, and this kid's a bit beneath him. If anything, Tegoshi belongs with someone cool like Akanishi, who always smokes by the teachers' parking lot gate, or with someone sporty like Kamenashi, the star from the baseball team.
But then again, in this school, people only care about the next scandalous thing. By the time Tegoshi's done it, people will have moved on. No harm done, really. He hopes.
"Three weeks of lunch and your locker," Tegoshi agrees, holding out his hand. Ryo shakes it just as Kato spills his chili cheese fries all over his lap and starts crying.
That kid? That's the kid he has to hook up with?
He didn't know until now, but he has bio class with Kato. Maybe Tegoshi's been too busy staring out the window the whole school year, but he may as well take advantage now. It's not like Mr. Okada ever takes roll or anything. Instead of his usual seat in the back by the fish tank, he slides into the seat next to Kato in the front row. He can see the chalkboard a lot easier up here - maybe he wouldn't have failed his last test if he'd been able to see.
Kato's busy frowning at his textbook when Tegoshi leans over. "Hey."
Kato jolts, knocking his notebook on the floor. "Huh? Oh. Hi..."
"Shige, right? I'm Yuya."
"I know. You sit in the back. You're friends with the guy who throws spitballs at me."
This isn't going well. Maybe he has to meet Kato at his own level. "You're getting an A, aren't you?"
He watches Kato's frown turn upside down as he snags his fallen notebook. "Of course. This class is easy."
Tegoshi's getting a low C and only because he pays Koyama to write his lab reports. "Well, I was wondering if you'd like to tutor me. We have that big test next week."
Kato looks at him dubiously. "Me? You've never spoken to me before." Kato thinks for a moment. "Although, I did overhear you call me a loser when we were running the mile the other day."
Tegoshi smiles, his brain hurrying to come up with a solution. Was it really his fault that Kato ran like someone's grandma after a hip replacement surgery? "You must have misheard me."
"Pretty sure I didn't."
"Let me sweeten the deal," Tegoshi says. "You help me pass the test, I'll get you out of gym for a week."
"How?" Kato asks. It's almost like Tegoshi can hear the wheels turning, as much as Kato tries to hide it. "Coach Nagase never believes me."
Tegoshi grins. "I can handle Coach Nagase."
Shige's eyes widen.
Tegoshi really does have to pass the test. Ryo's dare just happened to coincide with exam time. But he's not really interested in anything Shige has to say about plants and stamens and ovules. Plants fucking isn't that sexy.
What's sexy is Shige's low, smartass voice. He's having a hard time focusing on Kato's tutoring. What Tegoshi originally thought would be a difficult assignment (seduce the loser) is turning out to be fun. Sure, Kato's a bit stuck on himself - Tegoshi's not so different from him there. It's easy to be the most important person in your own life. But Kato whines and he's arrogant and he finds himself to be above the whole high school thing. He wants to be a lawyer and make lots of money. Tegoshi hardly knows what he wants to do next week, let alone for the rest of his life.
"So the stamen's got the filament here, and the anther here," Kato says, trying to get Tegoshi to focus on the textbook. Tegoshi instead slides his hand under the library table, resting it on Kato's thigh. "What are...what are you doing?"
"We should take a break."
Kato's turning red, shifting in his chair, but it's not working. Tegoshi only slides his hand farther down, fingers scraping the denim of Kato's jeans. "We're in the library."
"So?" The librarian's half dead at her post anyway, and nobody in this school besides Kato probably studies. He moves his hand up. "So?"
Shige may spill chili cheese fries on himself, and Tegoshi made sure he left the pocket protector on the study table, but he's not so bad to kiss. Shige tries to point out how naughty they're being in the 200's aisle (religion), but Tegoshi shuts him up, backing him against the shelf. Shige probably hasn't had a girlfriend or a boyfriend before, so he kind of keeps his hands at his sides, clenched in fists.
Tegoshi doesn't mind because Kato's woefully under-kissed lips are soft and warm. Virgin territory for him to take, and as soon as he slips his tongue past Shige's lips, he doesn't even care if he gets to use Ryo's locker.
Kato finds him in the hall, grabbing him by the wrist and dragging him into the bathroom. "What's this I hear about a bet?"
Shit, Tegoshi thinks. Ryo's none too happy about the three weeks of lunches, so he's been ratted out. "Shige..."
"So you just wanted to play a prank on me? You wanted to use me so you could ace your test and laugh about me with your asshole friends? I thought you actually liked me, but I'll never make that mistake again."
Shige's kind of hot when he's angry, but Tegoshi doesn't think it's something he should say out loud. Instead, he tells Kato "I only got a B-, but to be fair, it's the best grade I've ever gotten out of Mr. Okada."
Kato scowls. "Piss off."
Tegoshi feels something strange when Kato stalks out of the bathroom, knocking his elbow on the doorframe first and cursing his way into the hallway. He feels...guilty?
His lunch is really good, probably because Ryo had to pay for it. But today's the last day of the three weeks, and Tegoshi hasn't spoken to Kato. Shige sits near a bunch of girls now in bio class, probably to hide himself, and Tegoshi feels like a jerk for leading Kato on. He's not used to feeling this way - the only way he's passed any classes since junior high is by acting like a sweet, manipulative little angel. He's not used to his plans actually hurting anyone.
Yamapi nudges him. "You gonna finish that?"
He rolls his eyes. "This is my lunch. My last free lunch."
"If you feel bad about Kato, then why are you still eating it?" Yamapi points out. Tegoshi knows it's just because Yamapi wants the rest of the burrito, but he's right on a fundamental level.
He spies Kato across the cafeteria, munching on a sandwich and looking forlorn. It seems like the whole school knows that Tegoshi came onto him as a joke, and he's just as much a laughingstock and outcast as ever. And that's something Tegoshi decides he can't handle any longer. Because even if Shige's smart and arrogant and rude, he did help out with studying. And he made the most adorable noises when Tegoshi kissed him in the 200's.
He nearly steps on his burrito as he gets on top of the lunch table, and Yamapi yanks it away with a shriek. He doesn't know what he's doing, but everyone's watching him and damn if that doesn't feel good. "Attention! Hello! I'm Yuya Tegoshi!"
"We know!" Massu complains, hiding his face.
But he's got everyone else's attention. Including Shige's, even though like Massu he's pretending not to notice. "And some of you here in this cafeteria think that Ryo Nishikido dared me to hook up with Shigeaki Kato."
"I did," Ryo says, swatting at his foot.
"He may have dared me," Tegoshi admits, finding Kato's embarrassed, reddened face in the crowd. "But I think that Shige is the best of all of us. Me? I'm probably going to be a model for as long as I stay cute. And Ryo will probably end up working at an oil change place..."
"What the fuck?" Ryo screeches.
"Yamashita will probably not graduate. Masuda will get fat. Nobody in this school is going to go places because we don't care. We've never cared." Tegoshi's got a captive audience. It feels exhilarating. "But Shigeaki Kato cares. He studies and he reads and he's going to earn so much more money than us. And for that, we make fun of him. We tease him because he takes classes at the community college. We dump his books. We stuff him in his locker. And we throw his sneakers in a tree."
"My shoes?! That was you?" he hears Kato protest from the other side of the cafeteria.
"We do those things," Tegoshi says, ignoring him. "But we should be friends with him. We should want to be more like him. Because Shige's not that bad. It's us. We're the losers. Thank you for your time."
Everyone seems confused, and Kato looks even more pissed, and Yamapi's trying to arrange the leftover guacamole on the free Ryo burrito. But then in the back of the cafeteria a slow clap starts and one by one, everyone starts to join in until the whole cafeteria is chanting Kato's name.
Tegoshi's just getting out of detention. Apparently, standing on the cafeteria tables and shouting inspirational messages is against school policy. But Kato's waiting for him, looking nervous.
"Shige!" Tegoshi shouts, putting an arm around him.
"Did you mean what you said?" Shige asks as they head down the hall. "I mean, that nobody should make fun of me? Because it would make my days go a lot quicker if people stopped stealing my shit."
Tegoshi considers this for a minute. To be honest, he was mostly excited by all the attention directed at him. Shige is really just a bonus. "I guess," he says. "I do think you're good looking."
Shige's ears turn red. "Oh. Uh. You too."
Shige's not used to a lot of human contact, it seems. He probably lives and breathes knowledge and the thought of life after high school. But either way, detention was super boring, and now he has Shige all to himself. "Come here, let me show you something."
He plants a kiss on Shige's cheek before tugging him toward the janitor's closet.