Sayaka knocked on the door tentatively with the back of her hand. This wasn’t the first time he had fallen into a mood. She couldn’t keep track of how many times this had happened, but she was never exactly sure of what to say or do when Leon got like this.
“Hello?” she called out, barely loud enough to be heard through the door. There was no response, which she expected. “Kuwata-kun?” Sayaka asked again, louder this time.
She flinched back as something thudded against the other side of the door. Her eyes went wide, hand held over her heart in case it jumped out of her chest. ‘Is he throwing things?' she wondered.
Sayaka knit her brow and knocked on Leon’s door again. This time with the flat of her fist–twice. “Leon.” She barely twitched as another object was thrown at the door. It sounded heavier, judging from how dense the sound was.
Another sound followed, coming from Sayaka’s suitcase. It was his text tone.
‘Door’s open, stupid.’
Sayaka sighed under her breath as she returned her phone to its holding place. Would it have been so hard to do that first? She opened Leon’s door slowly and took the first step onto the mine field.
Darkness swept the room. Perfect for one of Leon’s moods, not so much for seeing. Carefully, Sayaka stretched out a leg and felt for whatever it was that Leon had thrown: two baseballs. She could’ve sworn one was bigger. She kicked those to the wall, shut the door behind her, and marched toward the gray curtains. ‘Taupe grey,’ she remembered insisting.
‘More like taupe gay,’ had been his response.
Sayaka inched the curtains open, slowly allowing the afternoon light to peek in, without saying a word. She learned the hard way that prompting Leon to talk was the same as pulling the cork off a shaken bottle of champagne. Too much, too fast, not to mention it would just be messy.
The best way was to let Leon’s worries trickle out on their own. In the meantime, she could at least clean up the mess in his room. Even in the dark, it was easy to tell there was one, or maybe she’d just been here so often that it was a second-nature assumption to her.
The water bottles and energy drink cans scattered about nearly outnumbered the containers of hair product on his dressers–and that was honestly saying something. Leon had more cans of hairspray, more tubs of hair clay, than Sayaka thought she had ever used in her whole career. It had been for the ladies, he bashfully admitted one time. She turned down his offer to throw them all away since she knew how much he loved his hair.
“You should put some clothes on or you might get sick,” Sayaka suggested as she gathered up the bottles and cans. The sheets, covered in cartoon baseballs, bats and mitts had been rebelliously kicked off in a heap on the floor. She’d fold that later.
Leon, on his side and only in a pair of light blue running shorts, just grunted. He must’ve just come out of the shower. His dyed red hair was loose, unspiked and hanging near his ears. “It’s almost summer, dumbass. It’s too hot.” He turned over onto his back and reached for his phone on the bedside table with a toned arm. After a few taps on the touchscreen, Leon turned the phone like a portable console, not having looked at Sayaka once.
“Is that the new baseball game you bought?” Sayaka asked, shrugging off the insult as she threw away the drinks in the recycling bin. She chose to ignore the bulge of built up garbage poking out from Leon's trash receptacle.
Leon twitched uncomfortably at the sound of 'baseball'. “...Ain’t playing that anymore. I’m on Angry Pigs now.” He pulled his thumb across his phone screen then slammed his head back against his pillow a second later. “Fuck! Launch your fat ass up there, fucking pig.”
Tempted as she was to remind Leon the digital pigs couldn’t hear him–and probably wouldn’t appreciate being spoken to like that–Sayaka left it alone. She found herself in the corner near Leon’s newest electric guitar. The instrument’s body was colored like a fire engine and had a pickguard alight with decal flames to match. Ever since he rediscovered his drive in baseball, he’d been touching it less and less. Sayaka strummed a finger across the fretboard; it was still in tune.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Leon lowered his phone and cocked a brow right at her.
“I wanted to see how it sounded. You’ve been so busy with baseball practice that I wasn’t sure if it’d sound right.”
Which was the truth. There was a brief stint with music–nothing large scale, just concerts and events around school. However, the news of a possible career change didn’t sit well with the baseball team, who’d been expecting a real ace in the hole with Leon.
Names like ‘traitor’ or ‘wannabe’ were thrown around like careless punches, then followed by actual ones with more force. Leon had sworn off the sport after the last fight sent him to his room with a black eye and busted lip. He loved his face as much as his hair.
The hiatus didn’t last long. When you were as passionate about something as Leon had (not so) secretly been with baseball, those feelings never truly went away. Before long, he’d been itching to get back on the field, and although he had sworn off the school’s baseball team for good, he still begrudgingly went to play with them every now and then. To help them improve, of course.
Sayaka knew it wasn’t so selfless on Leon’s part.
Leon grumbled in defeat once more and slammed his phone down next to him. He stared up at the ceiling, gray eyes lost, though Sayaka knew it was only because he was never sure how to word the beginning of these types of things–things that had to do about dreaded feelings.
“...There was actually practice today,” Leon finally mumbled.
‘I know,’ Sayaka thought. “Did you go and play?”
Leon laced his fingers on top of his chest. The rings were off–weren’t allowed on the field–and he drummed them against his abdomen. “Yeah, I went, but those assholes got up in my face again.”
Sayaka sat down on the bed, near Leon’s feet. “What happened?”
“Those guys started saying I might as well rejoin the team if I’m gonna be spending all my time around the field, and that it’s stupid that I put on this act of not wanting to play. Even accused me of thinking I was too good for them.” Leon scoffed. “Well, they got that part right, at least.”
Sayaka offered a consolatory chuckle. She was just happy it was only Leon’s ego she had to nurse. “Was that it?”
Leon hesitated and tucked a hand behind his head to prop it up. “Why the fuck would I want to play on a team that goes out of their way to make me feel like shit? I get I ditched them for the punk thing, and I’m still pretty god damn punk (Sayaka nodded sympathetically in agreement), but can’t I still play ball?”
“Well...did you apologize?”
“Abandoning them,” Sayaka said bluntly. “Weren’t they nice to you the first day?”
“Yeah, but I bet it was because I was some Super High School Level baseball player or some shit,” Leon argued. He tucked his lower lip in and pouted to the side. “...But you’re trying to get me to see I should apologize, aren’t you?”
Sayaka giggled. “You got me. Are you sure you’re not an esper too?”
“Oh, stuff it,” Leon said, cutting her off before she had a chance to finish the punch line. He sat up in his bed and slunk over toward Sayaka to rest his head in her lap. His body curled up near her; it was the same as having a pet cat, Sayaka thought. “Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow,” he mumbled.
“You should clear it up as soon as possible,” Sayaka pointed out.
“I don’t wanna.” Leon turned so he was facing Sayaka’s stomach and circled his arms around her. His hands met at the groove of her back, and he squeezed. “I’m too comfy.”
“Okay, okay, make sure to call tomorrow, then.” Sayaka ran her hand through Leon’s hair. When it wasn’t slicked with product, it felt fine, like silk thread. The two of them remained like that for a moment, with Leon’s breaths light against Sayaka’s stomach. He nuzzled her midsection simperingly, and she laughed. “You’re acting like a silly kid.”
“Impossible. I’m too ruggedly handsome to be a kid.” Leon grinned as he rested the back of his head against Sayaka’s thighs. His eyes closed, and he brought his hands back up to rest on his stomach. “Sing for me, Maizono.”
“I told you, I’m not a kid! Sing whatever you want. I just want to hear you sing.”
“Hm, I think I know a song you’d like.” Sayaka tapped her foot as she started humming, falling into the beat of the song. It was an upbeat melody, the one she knew he needed right now as he clung to her like a bruised child. Her voice rang out softly, but clear–only for Leon.
In the middle of the song, as Sayaka bobbed her head, she felt Leon reach for the hand not stroking his hair and pull it into his. His hands were rough and calloused by athletic means and from playing the guitar, but she never complained, even as he played with hers. In contrast to Leon’s, Sayaka’s hands were soft, fingers slender with manicured nails. It wasn’t that Sayaka was lazy; groomed hands were an idol requirement. No callouses, no rough fingertips from strumming the guitar without a pick. These hands were meant to be shaken and modeled. Leon always made sure to take advantage of it.
After Sayaka had finished with the second verse, she stopped and took a breath. “How was that?” she asked.
“Beautiful. How the hell did I get so lucky?”
“It was the piercings,” Sayaka joked.
“Ah, thought so. Girls love a good piercing.” Leon flicked his tongue piercing out like a snake to demonstrate. “Pun intended.” He grinned coyly.
Sayaka squealed and reeled in her seat while Leon laughed at her reaction. The two of them were soon laughing together, sharing in the warmth from the near summer heat and their bodies. Sayaka went back to quietly stroking Leon’s hair again. He had his face turned away, just like he always did when trying to think of how to approach a sensitive subject.
Sayaka did it for him. “It’s okay, Kuwata-kun.”
Leon perked up from the sound of his name. “What is? What’re ya talking about?”
“I forgive you,” Sayaka just continued. “I know you’re feeling bad about the way you’ve been acting, and it’s okay. I forgive you.”
Leon went quiet, pensively so, which was strange considering how little he liked to think things through. He was more of an impulsive person, the kind who’d call Sayaka on a Tuesday night to do something because he was bored. “How’d you know that was bugging me?” Leon asked, finally.
“I’m kinda psychic like that!” Sayaka cocked her head and giggled. “Kidding! I just had a hunch.”
“Heh, you’re pretty good with your hunches.” Leon let loose a deep, tired sigh. “But I’m a shitty boyfriend, Maizono. It’s pretty damn clear. I ask you to come to my room, then I act like a spoiled bitch while you clean and take it. What the hell is that? No one deserves that, especially not you! Not to mention, we always end up doing this!” Leon gestured vaguely at thin air. “You always have to say what I’m thinking for me ‘cause I’m too much of a pussy to say it myself. Like with baseball.” Another sigh, deeper and louder than the first. It sounded like resignation. “Maybe those assholes were right... I’m just wasting everyone’s time.”
Sayaka gave Leon’s hand such a hard squeeze that he yelped. “The hell was that?!”
“I don’t want you to think things like that. What those boys say isn’t true at all!” Sayaka no longer smiled. Her face was set, her lips thinly pursed. “It’s okay if you have a hard time with that. That’s how you are. You don’t have to say anything, and you know why?” Sayaka waited for a response–a word, a blink, anything. What she got was a bated glance. She smiled fondly. “Because I already know.”
“I already know you, Kuwata-kun, and I know better than anyone that your heart is always in the right place...well, now.” Leon groaned as Sayaka reminded him of his days as a slacker. He hadn’t become the hard worker he claimed Sayaka to be, but she still believed he was a major improvement from before. “You’re not wasting anyone’s time, especially not mine. You’re wonderful. Super High School Level boyfriend material!”
Leon rolled his eyes and unsuccessfully hid his grin. “Now you’re just being retarded.”
“That was rude. I meant that!” Smirking, Sayaka grabbed the pillow Leon had been resting his head on before and promptly smooshed it against her boyfriend’s face. “So there.” There was sputtering and flailing as Leon tried to push her off. Sayaka did her best to hold strong, but Leon eventually fought his way to his feet. He looked wild with his mussed up hair and bright eyes.
“You’re going to get it, you little bitch.” Laughing, he swiped the pillow from Sayaka’s hand then whacked her with it. Again. And once more. Sayaka laughed in between pleas of mercy. She crawled back, trying to escape to the headboard, but Leon jumped atop the bed and trapped her between his knees. He bore upon her with the pillow. “Now let’s see...how you like it!”
“N-No! You’ll mess up my makeup with that!” Sayaka fended the pillow back with most of what she had, but it didn’t matter. Her face would be closely acquainted to it in a matter of seconds. Or it would’ve been.
Once Leon got the pillow close enough, he flung it to the side and pinned Sayaka’s arms down to get at her lips, catching her in a full breathless kiss. Sayaka hadn’t been expecting it, but Leon’s bare chest was pressing into her now, taut skin against her uniform. They were so close that she could smell the mix of his soap and natural musk. Her arms would’ve reflexively hugged around him if they were free.
When Leon pulled back and straightened, he wiped his swollen lips with the corner of his wrist, grinning like a predator. “Yeah, you got what you were asking for!” Sayaka looked up blankly at him, breathing heavily and unsure of what just happened. His hands no longer pinned her arms, but when he lowered himself again, he planted them above her shoulders to steady himself up.
“Hey, Sayaka,” he said. He sounded different; his voice was never this small and quiet. When Sayaka looked up at his face, Leon’s eyes hastily glanced away, and his cheekbones lit up with a blush. He’d be rubbing the back of his head right about now if he didn’t need the balance. “Thanks for making me feel better, but it’s not fair for you to do all the work. I want to at least tell you something on my own, so...that is,” he paused and swallowed nervously, “I’ll make sure you’re never lonely again, okay?”
And he looked at her now, meeting her gaze apprehensively, probably wondering if that was too forward–popping the cork off a shaken champagne bottle: too fast, too much. Sayaka just smiled and did her best not to cry.
She laced her hands behind Leon’s neck. “I know,” she murmured before pulling him down into another kiss.