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Oleander

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Golden hour sunlight poured into Class F’s classroom through open windows. Kouta was taking full advantage of the warm, saturated lighting to take a few nice shots of the view outside. His relatively new camera was a major upgrade from his last one, and he was taking advantage of every opportunity for a nice shot. But truthfully, he was just passing time and enjoying the silent classroom before having to go back home. With the chaotic nature of Class F and his three siblings back home, moments of solitude and peace were few and far in between. Kouta was much more comfortable alone, with no pressure to socialize. Just him and his camera.

Until Hideyoshi walked into the classroom.

Startled out of his thoughts, Kouta lowered his camera away from his face and looked at Hideyoshi, expecting a greeting. However, it seems Hideyoshi hadn’t noticed Kouta was still in the room. This wasn’t unusual, with Kouta being small, quiet, and a “ninja” of sorts. Kouta remained quiet as he watched Hideyoshi walk over to the cardboard boxes that Class F were forced to call desks. Hideyoshi lifted the box and retrieved his things before standing up straight and making direct eye contact with Kouta.

“Oh!’ Hideyoshi exclaimed. “Hey. What are you doing here?”

Hideyoshi placed his things on top of the box and walked over to Kouta. Kouta put his camera on the floor beside himself and sat cross-legged with his back against the wall. Hideyoshi sat in front of him in the
same manner.

“… This is my classroom.” Kouta said in his soft tone of voice. Hideyoshi scoffed and rolled his eyes.

“It’s like four o’clock, dude, I mean why are you still here?” He replied. Kouta began to fidget with his fingers. He wasn’t very accustomed to one-on-one conversation, even though he somewhat considered Hideyoshi to be his best friend. Yuuji and Akihisa had their bromance thing, Himeji and Minami had their girly thing, so Hideyoshi and Kouta naturally gravitated toward each other as the quiet third wheels of the
group. Despite Kouta spending most of his time in his insane classroom, conversation never became any easier for him.

“… I could ask you the same thing.” Kouta deflected the question. He somehow felt too embarrassed to tell Hideyoshi that he just didn’t feel like going home yet.

“Well,” Hideyoshi started, choosing to look out the window instead of at Kouta. “I had an audition for the school musical after class today.” Hideyoshi didn’t elaborate, and after a drawn-out moment of silence, Kouta realized this is probably the part where he continues the conversation.

“… How did it go?” Kouta replied. After a beat of silence, Hideyoshi groaned and dropped his face into his hands.

“I totally blew it.” Hideyoshi said dejectedly, voice muffled by his hands. Hideyoshi dropped his hands and lifted his head slightly before continuing. “I forgot my lines in the acting segment and I fell during the choreography segment.” Hideyoshi changed his position, bringing one knee up in front of him, hugging his leg with both arms and resting his chin on top of his knee.

“Just thinking about it is making me borderline suicidal.” Hideyoshi gave a dry laugh. He always had that dry, dark sense of humor. Kouta looked at the ground, not knowing how to respond. He chose to fiddle with the settings on his camera for a while, as Hideyoshi zoned out and stared at the line where the wall and floor met.

After a couple minutes of awkward nothingness, Kouta took a quick glance at Hideyoshi. He was still in that pitiful, hunched over position, lost in thought. Everybody knows how important theater is to Hideyoshi. He sacrifices his academics for it and discusses his future career in it with absolute certainty. This must be a harsh blow for him.

If Kouta were someone like Akihisa, he’d make a light-hearted joke and make Hideyoshi laugh. If Kouta were someone like Yuuji, he’d give him honest advice and say something like “Hey, you can’t win ’em all!” to comfort him. But Kouta isn’t Akihisa or Yuuji. He’s Kouta, with absolutely no tact when it comes to words. The only thing he can do is comfort Hideyoshi without words.

“Ahem…” Kouta softly cleared his throat, hoping it would get Hideyoshi’s attention.

Hideyoshi turned his head to face Kouta, head still resting on his knee. It took Hideyoshi a few moments to process that Kouta was holding his arms open for a hug. The look on Kouta’s face made it obvious that even he was unsure of his own actions. Hideyoshi quirked an amused eyebrow at him as he lifted his head and sat up straight.

“I never made you out to be the comforting type,” Hideyoshi grinned as he spoke. “Especially not the hugging type.” Kouta rolled his eyes at his friend’s teasing. He put his arms down with a pouty frown.

“Alright, fine, I’ll take your hug.” Hideyoshi said with playful resignation. Kouta lifted his arms back up as Hideyoshi leaned into him, his head resting on Kouta’s shoulder. Hideyoshi wrapped his arms securely around Kouta’s abdomen, closing his eyes and breathing a deep sigh through his nose. Kouta, however, was pretty inexperienced with physical affection of any kind. He opted for gently placing his arms on Hideyoshi’s back and using his thumb to soothingly stroke it. At least, he hoped it was soothing. People do the thumb thing to soothe people, right?

Seeing as how Hideyoshi hadn’t stirred from the hug, Kouta figured he was doing something right. They stayed in the embrace for much longer than either of them intended to, but it was nice. None of the usual screaming, fighting, and uproar was taking place in Class F. The room was tinted orange by the oncoming sunset, and it was silent. It was a wildly different, yet much needed, change of pace.

“Hey,” Hideyoshi spoke after a while with a relaxed tone of voice. Kouta could feel Hideyoshi’s head tilt slightly to look up at his face. “You’d have usually bled out by now being this close to me. How are you still conscious?”

“It’s taking literally all of my focus to not pass out right now.” Kouta replied bluntly. Hideyoshi responded with a soft chuckle.

“You’re so weird.”