Kasanoda’s face was as red as his hair as he walked into the library, shoved a plastic bowl at a befuddled Haruhi and muttered, “here” before pulling out a chair and sitting down on the opposite side of the table.
“Uh, thanks,” Haruhi said. “What is it? And what are you doing here?”
“It’s ramen,” Kasanoda said. “The vegetable kind. And I’m here because you’re here. You can’t study on an empty stomach. So as your friend, I brought you something to eat.”
“Oh.” Haruhi examined the floating bits of...something...dotting the surface of the oddly colored broth and tried not to make a face. “Um, okay. But I brought bento and...”
“It’s cold outside. You don’t eat bento when it’s cold.” Kasanoda folded his hands and rested them on the table. “You eat warm stuff. Like ramen.”
“Well, sure but...”
“It’s the expensive kind. Not the ten packages for ten yen stuff. I figured since you’re used to more upscale food now, you wouldn’t want the cheap brand.”
“Of...course.” Haruhi looked back at the bowl. She wasn’t all that thrilled about eating it, but Kasanoda had made himself comfortable, and she wasn’t about to make a scene with the library as full as it was. It was bad enough Kasanoda was even there at all, but what could she do? She’d promised to be his friend.
The least she could do was let him be a friend in return.
“So what are you studying?” Kasanoda asked. He pulled a strange sort of packaged beef stick from the inside pocket of his uniform jacket and tore the plastic open with his teeth. “Is this for your end-of-term exam?”
“Math, and yes. I have to be first on the exam or I lose my scholarship.”
“What? That not fair!”
“It might not be fair, but it’s the rule.” Haruhi shrugged. “So far, it hasn’t been a problem, but I study anyway just to be sure.”
“Thanks. I thought so, too.”
Kasanoda nodded and munched, finishing his entire snack before she’d even made it to the next problem. She half-expected him to reach for another, but instead, he slapped his palms on the table and leaned closer.
“I should help you,” he declared.
“No, that’s ok. I think I got it.”
“But I’m excellent at math. I’m actually third in my class. Well, when I’m not deliberately failing tests.”
Haruhi looked at him strangely. “Why would you deliberately fail tests?”
“Because I’m yakuza,” Kasanoda said. “And I’m supposed to be trying to make people less afraid of me. A smart yakuza kid would scare the crap outta people.”
“Oh. But won’t...”
Haruhi didn’t have time to finish her thought before Kasanoda was coming around to her side of the table, pulling his chair up, nice and close.
Not big on physical contact, Haruhi had to force herself not to lean away.
“Hey, I remember this lesson!” Kasanoda said. “This is where you have to multiply the numbers in parenthesis by the exponent to find the numbers in the problem.”
“Yeah, it is. And I really...”
“Here! This one is 6 and this one is 4 and then you’ll multiply those and divide by 8!”
Another mysterious beef stick appeared in Kasanoda’s hand. He took a gigantic bite and then looked at Haruhi, absolutely horrified. “Oh man,” he said. “I’ve been talking to you so much that you haven’t even had a chance to eat your ramen.” Shoving back the chair, Kasanoda threw himself on his knees at Haruhi’s feet. “Please forgive me, Haruhi, for being a horrible, inconsiderate friend! I will allow you to eat your dinner now while I sit here like the dog that I am!”
All activity around them stopped.
Haruhi resisted the urge to melt away into the floor.
“Please get up,” she whispered. She patted Kasanoda’s bowed head. “I’ll eat it right now, just...please get up and back in the chair. It’s okay. We were studying and just got distracted. It’s no big deal.”
Obediently, Kasanoda resumed his seat. And, true to her word, Haruhi pushed her math book aside and took the bowl of soup. She scooped up a bite and chewed.
After a thoughtful moment, Haruhi scooped up some more. “Wow,” she said. “This actually pretty good, Casanova. I didn’t know you could cook.”
“Well, I can’t.” Kasanoda was back to being red in the face. “But I can follow instructions on a package. Which is why I figured ramen would be a good choice. It’s kind of hard to mess up.”
Haruhi smiled. “Well, it looks like I’m hungrier than I thought I was, so maybe I will take a break. You can eat your snack and I’ll eat this. We’ll have dinner. Like friends.”
Kasanoda was so red, Haruhi worried he might catch on fire. “That would be...cool,” he said. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Haruhi said, and settled in to enjoy her ramen.