“Sir, with all due respect, I don’t think you should be giving Kurusu-san the credit for this.” You were surprised at how casual you sounded, despite knowing how hard your heart was beating. Of course, it was pounding for a very, very good reason, like who in their right mind was going to challenge Ushimaru? Which begged the question: what the fuck were you doing?
Mr Ushimaru, bull-headed and not amused at your outburst, turned to face you completely, briefly ignoring Kurusu’s collection of items that definitely weren’t school-related. You’d know that they weren’t school-related because bombs weren’t covered in the curriculum as far as you knew. Listen to yourself; bombs? He was making bombs! Why the hell were you covering for him?
“Then tell me,” Ushimaru sneered at him, “who should be receiving ‘the credit’ of Kurusu-san’s slacking? Go on, enlighten me”
No going back now.
“Obviously me, sir.”
. . .
After the first week of sitting behind the new transfer, you had adopted a singular golden rule: whatever Kurusu was doing at his desk, you would ignore him. You wouldn’t care that he had a cat with him, you wouldn’t see the literal weapons he was making; what you couldn’t see (didn’t see), couldn’t hurt you.
This wasn’t particularly the worst thing you’ve seen though – you’ve accidentally cut the webbing of your fingers with garden shears when you were eleven and that was a lot of blood – but it wasn’t everyday that you’d see bombs be made in class. No, sometimes it would be little balls, or things you weren’t even sure what they were. Sometimes, praise the lord, he would just sleep. You were sometimes tempted to say hello to the cat when he slept, but that would be breaking the one rule you had.
The fact that Kurusu was adamant in tinkering away at his desk whenever he could was fine, but normally, this was only fine in Ms Kawakami’s class. That was, until she had to step out for a half-day, and Ushimaru covered for her.
He was much stricter with the ‘free study’ period than most teachers – which you were confident that even Kurusu knew – but it seemed like his entrance to classroom was unheeded by the class’ local bomb-maker.
When Ushimaru descended on the transfer, it was like watching a documentary – the hawk Ushimaru would now try to dive in for the kill; poor rabbit Kurusu. It was slightly painful to watch.
“Kurusu. This doesn’t seem like study, does it?” Ushimaru had the sort of voice that would be in a video-game; the voice of your typical grumpy teacher. “Care to explain what you’re doing?”
It was as if time stood to a halt. Everyone was suddenly quiet and staring right at you, or rather the scene that was developing right in front of you: a showdown between the silent transfer student whose reputation precedes himself, and a hawk-eyed teacher that would love nothing more than to catch him in the act of doing something wrong.
And you, the observer who knew about it all and kept quiet.
Come on, transfer, you mentally shouted at him, just make something up!
You may have had a golden rule to never interfere, but by god, a student winning against Ushimaru was the cohort winning against Ushimaru, in your opinion.
But, when Kurusu did nothing in response, you were shocked. Before, you only really knew the rumours surrounded him – the assault charge, his supposed delinquent tendencies – and of course the fact he’d make bombs in his spare time (as if that wasn’t a red flag), but the aloofness and uncaring nature towards authority was made apparent at his defiance at that shitty Kamoshida. This wasn’t a kid that would back down just because you had some power.
“Well? I haven’t all day to write why I’m giving you a detention, Kurusu-san. What are you doing?”
The black-haired student looked towards his desk – probably at the cat that Ushimaru had yet to see – and then back at the teacher. Still saying nothing. Did he not know what to say to this? Did he suddenly become mute, which it wasn’t really time to time to be pulling a prank??
For some reason, you felt some pressure inside of you like you couldn’t just let this happen. Maybe that was why you were compelled enough to stand up from your desk, surprising everyone in the room.
“Sir, with all due respect, I don’t think you should be giving Kurusu-san the credit for this.” And that’s when you ‘admitted’ that you were responsible for the mess on Kurusu’s desk, somehow.
It seemed like Ushimaru was close to laughing when you told him that you would take the credit on Kurusu’s behalf, as if this was some game show that he had been watching. Even you had to admit though, this sort of stuff could've been in a drama or something. OK, it wasn't that dramatic but Ushimaru was definitely enjoying the show.
“I am to believe that? I hardly think you know what the things on Kurusu-san’s desk are.”
You didn’t know half of them, that definitely was true, but the cylindrical shape on Kurusu’s desk didn’t look like the other things that he had made, and looked more like something you were a little familiar with – a smokebomb. Thank god for that passing interest in photography.
If you weren’t in theatre after this, then you weren’t doing your school-life right. “Of course I know what’s on his desk, Mr Ushimaru.” You shrugged and threw out a smirk. You hoped you weren’t shaking. “The reason why it’s there is because of me – I needed it.”
Kurusu was intently looking in your direction, which made your focus a lot harder to control. Why was he making this a lot harder to do, goddammit? And, what kind of excuse was ‘I needed it’? Your head was reeling with different half-lies that you could come up with because you dug this grave and by hell, you’re going to lie in it.
It seemed that Ushimaru was closer to believing you, but you really couldn’t tell considering that you don’t think the man’s ever smiled out of compassion or kindness before. “Fine, I’ll confiscate your mess, where you can collect it after-school, if you could give some proof it’s yours.” Oh, fuck. You couldn’t— “Explain what it is, and I’ll accept your explanation and a week of your afternoons – in detention.”
You don’t know where you found your sense of false bravado but you nodded – thinking about how you were going to do this – and went around to Kurusu’s desk.
“Excuse me, Kurusu-san.” You gave an apologetic smile, and grabbed hopefully-a-smokebomb. You had only a brief moment to confirm your suspicions (or your lie would be massively exposed) but thankfully there was a little wire on the side – you remember that some of these things were wire-pulled. Hopefully, that was the case for Kurusu’s.
You turned towards Ushimaru and nodded. “It’s a smoke-bomb. I can show you?”
He gave the gesture of ‘go right ahead’, not believing your words. You hesitated for a second, before deciding that rational thought had been thrown out the window since you started this who farce for who knows why. You pulled the wire.
There was a moment when you thought that you had accidentally triggered a bomb but when a measly amount of green smoke came out of the cylinder, making you extremely thankful. You held up the thing almost triumphantly.
“See, sir? It’s mine.” You nodded. “Wouldn’t want Kurusu to take what’s mine. Uh, because I need it. Yes.” Your mask was slipping.
Still, Ushimaru just collected the bomb and issued you a week’s worth of detentions under the comment ‘constructing hobby items in class’ which was damning but a casually high-school offence – meaning no one would give a shit. Your parents would yell at you for one afternoon, maybe tell you that it wasn't worth it, and they'd forget about it. Easy.
You left the Teacher’s offices cranky, though. You had planned to hit the arcade and try to get better on the dance machine – it was a good form of exercise that actually was interesting, compared to baseball or volleyball – but you guessed that Ushimaru was all that awaited you for after school.
At least it was only for a week.
The demon that is Ushimaru at least had the courtesy to give you this afternoon off, stating something about you being an ‘unexpected’ wrench in his plans. Diabolical bastard, you thought to yourself. You palmed the now-empty smoke-bomb in your hand – another parting gift from Satan – with the realization that you were definitely going to give this back.
You figured you’d give it to Kurusu in class tomorrow.
Kurusu figured he’d come and find it today.
You hadn’t expected him to find you at the school gates, since the technical term was that he waited for you, and all he had to give you was a wave. You sighed heavily as he came towards you. You noticed that despite both of you being boys and the same age, he was far more attractive than you. It was unfair, really. He was smart in class, he was ballsy, and attractive. And also made smoke-bombs in class, which wasn’t the craziest thing he’s done, you reckon. How could such an attractive student be so weird was beyond you.
You held out the cylinder. “Here you go, Kurusu-san. Now, will this convince you not to make bombs in your spare time?” God, you sounded tired, but it made sense. Kawakami had yelled at you as well for the incident, as if Lucifer wasn’t enough.
What you said seemed to surprise him. “You know about that?”
“I sit behind you. I just choose to ignore whatever you do.” You eyed his bag. That’s probably where he transported the cat. “Also, that cat probably doesn’t like being shoved into your desk – do you know that there’s barely any space there?” You reminded yourself when you were a first year and one of your classmates had brought a hamster to school. A week later... well, at least it received a funeral.
“For someone who seems to just ignore what I do, you’re sorta bad it at.” The stupid pretty boy smirked at you. “What happened to the whole ‘ignore what I do’ thing this morning?”
That caught you off-guard. Yeah, what did happen this morning? Yeah, that’s right, you saved his sorry ass. You laughed dryly. “How could I forget? I helped you out. You owe me a week’s worth of afternoons, Kurusu, now that stupid Ushimaru’s got mine.”
“What do you mean?”
You might as well ask for his time. Aside from the golden rule – which apparently you had no trouble breaking – you did think that he was an interesting person. You couldn’t deny that he had a certain charm around him, for someone who just sat in front of you, and he seemed to make friends pretty easily. As the loner of your grade, who knew everyone but didn’t have too close friends, it was a little enviable. Might as well monopolize him for a week, learn some tips of the trade.
“I mean,” You gave him a crooked smile. “Give me five of your afternoons, Kurusu-san, for the five that grouchy ass took from me.”
At first, you were worried that he was just going to say no and that would be the end of that. It certainly wasn’t something that he had to do, regardless of whether or not he was responsible for your detentions. Technically, you were the reason that you didn’t have those afternoons. You suddenly felt a bit guilty asking, but what was done was done.
You saw the cat poke its head as Kurusu leaned an ear its direction. It was an elaborate thinking pose, but seeing the cat made you sorta smile. You liked animals, so you could forgive the detentions somewhat – if Ushimaru had fully exposed Kurusu, what would happen to the cat?
After a moment, the student nodded. “Ok. Sounds fair.” He cocked his head at you. “When do we start? Now?”
“No, definitely not,” You shook your head. You had to explain to your parents why you had detention after school for a week, which wasn’t exactly a conversation you wanted to have but you had to. Instead, you figured you’d grab his contact details – you had to make sure you had some way to contact him. You pulled out your phone. “Let’s swap contacts, keep in touch. First afternoon can be after the week is done.”
He nodded. “Alright. I’ll be there.”
You laughed and smiled towards him. For some reason, there was a nice flutter in your chest. “You better.”