(Near the end of Year 2)
As he walks home, Totomaru’s mind wanders back to his first meeting with Hikaru Onigashima - when the short, effeminate young man unexpectedly knocked the stuffing out of him with that last punch. The guy didn’t even look like he could break a twig, yet that hit had been solid!
But what gets him most is his own utterly ridiculous blushing reaction the next day, when Hikaru took his hand after Totomaru accepted defeat and offered his allegiance and friendship. Every single stinking time the memory pops into his brain, Totomaru’s cheeks burn. He hates it. He HATES it! What kind of a guy reacts that way to another’s friendly gestures?
That question has haunted him for almost two years and he still kicks himself for it. Not just that once, but for constantly reacting to the leader of Shishiku as if Hikaru was a cute girl. As if! The guy had proven himself over and over. He’s just conservative, that’s all. He’d even seen the guy’s chest once. True proof! Totomaru wasn’t about to question Hikaru - ever. Their leader had been through so many humiliating situations: being treated like a girl by Yuuta, being coerced to wear a girl’s cheerleading outfit with Konparu, being accused of being a girl by a rival school‘s gang. Hadn’t the guy had enough without Totomaru adding to it with … With what? Feelings for the guy? GAH! Totomaru shakes his head to clear his thoughts. When that doesn’t help he punches a light post. The smarting in his hand does the trick to help distract him.
Earlier that day, Hikaru had told him how he and his sister confronted their dad about not wanting to be part of the Onigashima Syndicate. Once Hikaru had become the leader of the school, his dad granted him one request. The twins knew exactly what they wanted, but took a little time to plan their approach. The pair really wants nothing to do with the yakuza lifestyle. So they made it clear that they care for and respect their dad, but they want their own path. Hikaru wants to teach karate and his sister wants to be a model. In the end, they were true to themselves and their passionate request succeeded in reaching the heart of even the callous leader of the Onigashima Syndicate.
Now, if only Totomaru could do the same.
What does he want for his own life?
One thought he’s been mulling is the direction he’d take after high school. Of course, his dad wants him to be a doctor – to help others. That’s part of why he always nags about grades and staying out of fights. Totomaru’s heart just isn’t in it. Tutoring his friends, especially helping Konparu and Hikaru, is something he really enjoys. Every day he sees the kids at his school struggling with their studies, giving up and opting for the gangster lifestyle. Unfortunately, the school really is a recruiting tool for the Onigashima Syndicate. What if he could help those kids, so they could have more choices in life? That would be the influence his dad wants, right? But he isn’t ready to deal with that quite yet. There’s still time.
The other thought? Totomaru mumbles choice words under his breath. He can’t deny it anymore. The other is Hikaru.
‘You dumbass. You’ve felt this way since the day after the first year opening ceremony. Your brain plays it over and over in your head, because you’re trying to avoid the truth.’
Never would he have imagined himself liking another guy, but staring him in the face are the feelings to prove it. He angrily kicks at the pavement with his high-top shoe.
How will he deal with his dad trying to decide his career AND deal with his feelings? Feelings that his dad would surely disapprove of. Well, the funk he is in sure doesn’t help. Maybe a stop by the arcade to destroy a few imaginary enemies would help.
By the time he offs two baddies in the classic Mortal Kombat, his brain has settled, and he’s come to a decision. One of those two issues is something he can deal with tomorrow. He has a plan to ask Hikaru after school. What could possibly go wrong? Well ok, that’s a bad question. Maybe his best friend will hate him. But he’ll always be there for Hikaru, no matter what his answer is. That is, if Totomaru doesn’t chicken out first…