“Welcome to Mock Trial club. To those of you who are new, I’m Bruno,” the tall and charismatic Senior introduces himself. He stands at the table in the front of their moderator’s room, in front of the rows of students who are interested in joining the club.
It’s the first week of school. Fall sports and many clubs are beginning. Freshmen are still learning the ropes. The air is still sweet with the pungent scent of summertime memories. Some new friendships and relationships have formed over the summer, and some old have broken. The sound of the ringing school bell will soon become students’ alarm clock again.
It is the beginning of Giorno Giovanna’s sophomore year. This is my year, the year I’ll make a difference and leave an impact, he thinks to himself as he sits in the hot club room with the other students joining mock trial. His father, being a lawyer, was the one who got him interested in the mental sport in the first place when he was in junior high. It’s been one of his many passions ever since.
Another reason he had joined mock trial last year as a freshman, unknown to anyone who was not an immediate friend of his, is that it used to be one of the scarce times of day he could see Guido Mista, the tall, insanely cool, smart but sometimes a hot mess upperclassman whom Giorno had grown extremely close with. Though the two were different in so many ways, there was a pull of gravity between them. He first met Mista at lunch on the first day of school, freshman year. Every grade has lunch at the same time, and he was sitting with Narancia and his friends outside in the courtyard.
Everything is so clear in Giorno’s head, as if it happened only yesterday. The sun was bright, the air warm but not hot. They sat on a picnic bench next to some colorful geraniums. Narancia was blasting some Drake through his speaker and Giorno was meeting Fugo and Abbacchio for the first time. Then, out of the double doors a guy stumbled, dropping one of the many backpacks he carried on his shoulders. Fugo was the first to run and help him carry his bags to the bench. When they got there, Narancia introduced the boy to Giorno, who’s name was Guido Mista. Everyone calls him Mista though, Narancia had explained.
He was really cute that day, Giorno reminisces.
When Giorno looked at Mista for the first time, time stopped. The two stared at each other, both at a complete loss of words, and everything, even the world’s rotation, slowed down. It was as if they were both gazing into a mirror, the shiny big-pupiled eyes, the dumbstruck open mouths. Every event of their lives had been preparing them to this one single moment, the moment they met each other. It was like they were at a highest point, their potential energy at its greatest, or at the climax of their now converged stories.
From that day on, the two were drawn to each other. They laughed together, shared secrets, told stories, went shopping, explored restaurants, museums, parks together. Each seemed to illuminate a glow in each other’s eyes, a glow that only the other could see. When last year ended and summer vacation started, the two spent even more time together, as well as took many trips with their friends.
The last trip they took in the summer, they all went tentless camping. Giorno and Mista and their friends played on the beach, talked, laughed, and stargazed until the sun came up. The image of the gentle push and pull of the waves, the sparkling sand between their shoeless feet, the smell of salt and wet rock lingering in the air, the stars in the violet sky. The way he looked into Mista’s eyes, and Mista into his, the way they seemed to understand what was going through each other’s mind without words. These memories are very close to Giorno’s heart.
I love him, Giorno confirms in his head as he watches his friend Bruno give the welcoming speech to the new mock trial members. And he loves me.
“I’m one of the captains of Mock Trial,” the raven haired senior starts as he glances around the room of focused faces, “and unfortunately, I have no idea where Mista is. He’s another captain, and is supposed to be here right now. Anyway, to start off, let’s play an ice breaker game to get familiar with everyone.” Ah, the dreaded ice breaker game. A tradition of every club and sport that no one enjoys playing. The group of freshmen who sit in the corner are staring at each other, each finding random things to laugh at and make fun of.
“The freshmen this year sure are annoying,” The petit brunette next to Giorno comments in his ear as he nudges his shoulder. The gesture brings Giorno out of his nostalgia. Narancia was Giorno’s first friend last year when Giorno was new to the school. It was Narancia who taught him a great number of high school social rules. “These ones are all fine, they’re probably afraid since we’re more experienced in mock, but like, did you see the group that was standing around outside Venezia’s room?”
Giorno turns his body in the desk to face his friend. He smiles. “No, I didn’t see them.”
“Ugh, they were a bunch of girls hugging each other all like ‘I haven’t seen you in so long! Omg I missed you’. They were hella loud too. I think they woulda started coming over when they saw me standin’ there if I hadn’t sprinted. Have you seen Fugo yet today?” Narancia switches topics so quickly it takes Giorno five seconds to process it.
“Um, yeah, he has cross country though, that’s why he’s not here.” At that moment it’s Giorno’s turn in the ice breaker game. He stands dreadfully and chooses carefully what to say: “I’m Giorno, I’m a sophomore, and this is my third year doing mock trial. I do cheer and volleyball, and I’m a botany enthusiast.” As Giorno sits down, he catches a smile from Bruno. Bruno used to tutor him last year, and because of their shared composed and passionate personalities, they became best friends.
Now it’s Narancia’s turn. “I’m Narancia, I’m a Junior, and this is my fourth year of mock trial. I do cheer and volleyball and I like building model airplanes.” He sits down and takes out a lollipop from his bag.
Their friend Abbacchio is sitting near Narancia in the next desk over. He puts down his book as Bruno turns to face him, signaling his turn in the ice breaker.
“The name’s Leone, but call me Abbacchio, I’m a senior. This is my sixth year doing mock trial. I do model UN, robotics, and I’m the president of Latin NHS.” Some freshmen ooh and ahh as the cool senior sits back down.
And just like the day they first met, Guido Mista comes stumbling in through the classroom door, carrying two bookbags, a Starbucks cup, a massive calculus textbook, and a huge sports bag. He captures everyone’s attention as he plops down his stuff at the front of the room and takes a long drink from his coffee cup. Giorno can’t help but blush with a bit of pride as he gazes up and down at his love. His love, who is loyal, strong-willed and passionate, yet clumsy, rough, imperfect, sometimes immature. His love, who has stolen Giorno’s heart as if he was an art thief, and Giorno is the Louvre.
Bruno scrutinizes the messy bags of Mista’s. “Why are you so late? Never mind, we’re doing an ice breaker game so people can get to know each other.” The way Bruno over pronounces “ice breaker game” has Mista losing it.
“Ice breaker game? Pff, Bruno, what are you on?” The brown haired Senior chuckles out as he attempts to shove the calculus textbook into one of the overflowing backpacks. He discreetly looks at the students in the desks, hoping to land his eyes on a certain blond boy without anyone else noticing.
Bruno sighs deeply. “It was Mrs. D’s idea not mine. It’s for the freshmen. Now can you please say your name, your grade, your year of mock trial and some interesting things about yourself?” Bruno looks like he wants to die even more. No one likes ice breaker games, they’re mandatory.
Mista stands up straight and looks at the freshmen girls who are openly ogling him, then at the juniors and sophomores who are mixed together. He sees his classmate Abbacchio casually reading his book next to Narancia who is waving to him and slightly pointing his lollipop to his right at Giorno. Giorno sinks into his chair, giving Mista a sweet smile. There he is! Mista’s heart leaps upon finding his love in the room. His love, who is kind and beautiful, who exudes fortitude and resolve, yet who is sometimes easily flustered and fickle. His love, who is as sweet as a lark’s song.
“Well, as Bruno said, I’m Guido, but call me Mista, and I’m a senior. This is my seventh year doing mock trial and uh, I’m captain of the basketball team?” Some of the girls giggle out loud when he’s finished and Mista only notices because Giorno looks over at them. He can’t help but stare at Giorno, who looks so pretty to him even after a long, hot, day at school. Mista takes a seat behind the table and Bruno continues to inform the students.
“Mock trial is exactly what it sounds like. A fake trial. Some of you probably know it as Model Court. There are twelve members on a team, naturally that means six on plaintiff or prosecution, and six on defense. There are three lawyers and three witnesses for each side of the team. As of this moment, it looks like we have enough members for two teams, although there could possibly be more members coming in.” Bruno takes a moment to arrange some papers on the table. “We’ll have a varsity team and a JV team. Depending on your grade and experience with mock trial, we’ll divide up the teams and let you know for next time which team you’ll be on. In the meantime, start reading the case book and the rules and decide if you want to play a lawyer or a witness. If there are extra people, you will be bailiffs. Email me or Guido with what part you want to be.” He points to their school emails written on the whiteboard.
Mista stands up for his side of the welcoming speech. “We’ll meet in this classroom after schools on Wednesdays and Thursdays, try to make every practice. We usually stay until about 4:30.” Some of the freshmen start to laugh, but then quickly shut up once they see Mista’s serious expression. “Mock Trial is serious business, so if you ain’t fully committed, you can leave now.” No one moves. “Next meeting, which is next Wednesday, you should have an idea of what part you want to play. Next week you’ll get into your teams and decide that, and then we’ll briefly teach the basics of direct examination. Anything else Bruno?” He turns to the other mock trial captain.
“No that’s it. Welcome to the club, everyone, you can go now. Remember, read the case book!” Bruno looks like a mom who just managed to put all of his rowdy children to sleep. As the students file out, the friends stay behind, with Abbacchio going over to Bruno to talk Model UN. Narancia and Giorno have just finished taking selfies on snapchat as Narancia leans in close to his ear.
“Dude, there he is,” Narancia whispers to Giorno, gesturing with his eyes to Mista, who is still fumbling with folders and textbooks in his crowded backpacks. “Go talk to him!”
“I-I will, don’t rush me!” He steals a glance at Mista who has a smug expression painted onto his face. Giorno realizes he can hear Narancia and him talking since the room is no longer filled with chatter. He’s glad Mista’s attention is taken by their friend Fugo walking in, wearing the cross country uniform and chugging a water bottle filled with Gatorade.
“Hey, how was the turnout?” Fugo asks Mista when he puts his bottle down. He flips his head to get his hair out of his eyes.
“Well, we got enough for about two teams it looks like,” Mista answers, “plus some bailiffs an’ stuff. I bet Bruno is gonna pull some strings with Mrs. D to get us all on the same team, same side.”
“But shouldn’t the other team get some seniors? It’ll be full of freshmen, they need the most help.” Fugo is certainly the most logical one in their group.
“Oh, they’ll be fine, we can still help them, they’ll just be a JV team.” Mista glances at Giorno, who has stopped staring. He raises his voice to address everyone. “Hey, who wants to go get ice cream?”
“Uh, the real question is who DON’T want to get ice cream?? Let’s go!!” Narancia jumps up before anyone can correct his grammatical error and drags Fugo out of the room, clearly excited about getting a head start before the others. Bruno picks up his bag.
“Don’t you have work Mista?” he asks.
“Nah, not until 6:00 today. You?”
“I don’t work on Thursdays. Too many club activities.” Bruno and Abbacchio head out the classroom door. “We’ll meet you in the parking lot.”
“I’ll drive,” Abbacchio offers as the two seniors leave Giorno and Mista alone in the room. Giorno has his head down and is frantically texting on his phone. Mista can’t help but secretly smile at him.
“You comin’ with, Giogio?” He saves his sweet tone for his love only. The blond boy looks up with shiny eyes.
“Yeah, just texting my dad to let him know.” He walks next to Mista, who puts an arm around him as they exit the room. In the hallway, Mista leans in to Giorno’s ear.
“It’s been too long since I’ve seen you last,” he practically sings. Giorno giggles and playfully pushes against his face.
“You weirdo, I saw you at lunch, like always.”
“I know,” he coos, “still a long time.”
They meet their friends in the parking lot and load their bags into the trunk of Abbacchio’s car. Narancia calls shotgun and Giorno and Bruno sit in the middle row, leaving Mista and Fugo to sit in the back.
“Dude, hand over the aux,” Mista says, leaning forward as they drive away from the school. Abbacchio’s aux cord is long enough to reach into the back.
“Okay but you better play fire,” Narancia teases as he passes back the cord. Immediately the cord is plugged into Mista’s phone, and he scrolls through spotify. Soon some Migos plays through the speakers, and everyone, minus Bruno and Abbacchio, raps along. One would think dancing in a car isn’t possible, but the energized teenage boys find a way to car dance in their seats. Giorno looks back at Mista during Offset’s verse of BBO, watching him make lewd gestures and dance moves in his seat. He blushes as he is reminded of something: This is his love, being his easy-going, fun-loving, silly self. This is the personality that has captured his heart since the first time they met. This is the boy that Giorno wants to have by his side through every challenge he comes to face.
They’re at the second chorus of Supastars when they finally pull into the side parking lot of their favorite ice cream shop. The gang files out and heads inside. They each order their favorite flavors and sit at the counter that faces the window.
Fugo sits next to Giorno, licking a mint ice cream cone. “Do you have an idea of what part you want for mock trial?”
Giorno turns to face him, swiveling his stool. “I want to be a lawyer. Not sure which side though. Last year when I was a witness, the lawyers looked like they had hard jobs, so I want to learn how to do it from Bruno and Abbachio and Guido.” He reminisces about last year’s mock trial when he was a freshman. That year was unbelievably fun. But Giorno also thinks about the amount of hard work he’ll have to do this year to learn to be a good lawyer for mock trial. Bruno, he hopes, will also be a lawyer again this year. “What about you?” He asks Fugo, taking a spoonful of strawberry ice cream to his lips.
“I was thinking I want to be the accused witness, what’s his name, Gail Storm? Or a lawyer for either side.” Fugo, being a junior, is someone who Giorno looks up to in mock trial. He’s an amazing attorney, as Giorno concluded from last year’s season. The perfect team, Giorno thinks to himself, would be me, Fugo, and Bruno as the attorneys. And Narancia, Guido, Abbacchio on our team as well, although it would depend on what parts they want for which side they’ll be on…
There is a tap on his shoulder that makes Giorno swivel his stool around to Narancia on the other side of him.
“Dude, have you done it yet?” He looks with wide eyes into Giorno’s blushing face.
“N-no, not yet. It just… it just never feels like the right time. And you know I’d tell you as soon as possible if we did.” The truth is, Giorno hasn’t had his first kiss yet. Not with Mista, and not with anyone. Although Mista has probably kissed other people before, the two of them agreed that their first kiss together is something that must be done at the right time in the right setting. It’s not a trophy, it’s not for pleasure, they had agreed. It’s a symbol of their growing bond between them. One that will never break, even if they’re apart.
The concept of a first kiss being so sacred would be weird to people who aren’t their close friends. Giorno and Mista have good, true, friends that understand and support their decisions.
Narancia bites his chocolate rocky road ice cream off of its cone. “Aw, man, well when it happens, I want a full essay on every detail of it!”
Giorno laughs, a laugh that sounds like it can only come when someone tickles your tummy. “Of course, Narancia. You know I tell you everything.” He glances over at the seniors.
This is going to be a great school year, He thinks, I will make an impact. We all will.
When he looks over at Mista, cocking that warm and playful smile of his, Giorno feels it in the middle of his chest: the aching sensation of love.