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It’s gotten to the point where the fourth period was the highlight of Sykkuno’s day. Well, the highlight of his day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The rest of the week kind of dragged on. And to think he almost didn’t take Digital Art, only picking it because it sounded easy (it’s not) and he needed the credit to graduate. He was lucky enough to have Sean in that class, where he also met Felix through the Irishman, that made him enjoy the class even though it was initially a lot more work than he thought it would be. But now, there was a good chance that he started to enjoy it more because of his new classmate. 

Corpse has been at the school for a week now and despite being mute, he was hilarious. Sean would often translate his jokes for us and they made Sykkuno laugh way more often than not. Though he would admit the day after the dark-haired guy got in that fight with Jake, he felt so bad for him. You couldn’t see a majority of the bruise, though the opposing purple blotched peeking out under his mask and curved around the corner of his eye. Felix had praised him when they walked into class that day, calling him a ‘badass’ for breaking Jake’s nose. But Corpse had looked so ashamed of himself that while the other two were talking amongst themselves, Sykkuno leaned over to quietly ask if he was okay. Corpse was initially surprised, which confused Sykkuno because obviously he was going to be worried. 

‘I’m fine but I don’t really want to talk about it’ He wrote because the brunette couldn’t understand sign language. Sykkuno decided not to push it, however, his mind started brainstorming ideas of what that could possibly mean. Why would he feel ashamed for defending himself against a bully? To him, it just didn’t make sense but Corpse probably felt bad for breaking Jake’s nose. No matter how deserved it was. 

After that first week, Corpse had become good friends with not only Sean and Felix, whom he sat with at lunch, but also, surprisingly, Rae. She didn’t make new friends often, much like the rest of his friend group she was, to an extent, an extrovert. But, she also happened to be in the same grade as Corpse, both of them being juniors while the rest of them were seniors, and she had the same classes as him on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She has yet to convince him to come to sit with them, she says it's because he doesn’t do well with groups of people, which Sykkuno understood, but Rae insists it’s because he has a girlfriend. 

That made his stomach drop and he wasn’t sure why. She gestured towards the table where Corpse, Sean, Felix, Anthony, Ethan, and a girl he didn’t recognize was sitting. The girl in question had long platinum blond hair, bright blue eyes, and was currently leaning against Corpse showing him something on her phone. She was gorgeous and even though it made him feel sick, for some reason, he supposed it made sense. 

In that class, the teacher wanted them to go out in a group and take pictures of things around the school that they could use for their project. The four of them decided to go together, joking around as they took random pictures of people in the hallway (with their permission of course) or things on the walls that they thought were funny. The image of that girl leaning against Corpse wouldn’t leave Sykkuno’s mind and eventually, he just had to know. 

“Uh, C-Corpse?” Sykkuno cursed at the stutter but no one mentioned it, Corpse looking at him expectantly. As normally as he could muster, Sykkuno smiled fiddled with the camera in his hand, not looking at the taller guy. He hoped he looked normal at least. “Rae says you have a girlfriend.” Well, at least he didn’t stutter that time. 

He decided to look up at Corpse because the guy was mute as he was greeted with a confused look. For a guy who hid half of his face, his eyes were very expressive. Sykkuno snapped a picture of a locker decorated in balloons for someone’s birthday. 

“She has blond hair I think? Blue eyes?” Corpse seemed to be thinking before realization dawned on him and he nearly dropped his camera. He definitely would have if it wasn’t hanging by a strap around his neck. He was signing something, which Sykkuno didn’t understand, but Sean started laughing so hard he had to lean against the wall so he wouldn’t fall. 

“W-What’s so funny?!” Sykkuno couldn’t help but blush however, Felix was just as confused as he was. At least he wasn’t the only one who didn’t know sign language. After far too long, Sean composed himself and wiped away a tear before looking at Sykkuno with a far too big smile. 

“Corpse says that’s his sister.” Felix broke out laughing after that, causing Sykkuno to hide his face in his hands. He was so embarrassed and he would have to kill Rae later for putting that idea in his head. Well, he was probably just going to babble to her because he could never actually yell at her. 

“S-Sorry,” Sykkuno muttered, putting too much attention on the pictures he already took. Out of the corner of his eye, Corpse was making a motion as if he was laughing as well. Of course, no sound came out but the group decided to take a photo together after that before heading back to class. As Felix and Corpse went on ahead, Sykkuno pulled Sean out of earshot of the other two. He was most certainly blushing but at least his friend was nice enough not to tease him.

“H-Hey, I was, uhm, wondering if maybe you could teach me sign language?” Sean grinned at that, putting an arm around him with a sly smile. 

“Awh, does Sykkuno have a crush?” Okay, Sykkuno takes back what he said about Sean. He was most definitely mean enough to tease him. He sputtered, pulling away from the arm around his shoulders with an even bigger blush. Sean was, at least, considerate enough to chuckle quietly. 

“Sure Sykkuno. Text me whenever you are free.” They caught up to the other two before they noticed anything was wrong and shortly after they got back to the classroom, the bell rang to signal the school was over. They gathered their things, Corpse and Felix going together towards the doors since they lived fairly close together. Sean walked with Sykkuno to his little group, and the shorter of the two made the other promise he wouldn’t tell any of his friends because he could not handle the teasing right now. Sean promised but he knew that wasn’t going to last for long. 

After Sykkuno left Leslie’s place, he spent the next two hours before he actually had to be home at Sean’s. His parents were very kind and Sykkuno met his four older siblings. It turns out that one of his sister’s best friends is deaf which explains why he knew sign language. He took him up to his room, which was really nice with a nice gaming set up in the corner, his bed in another, and his dresser next to the door of his closet. He had a few posters hanging on his wall here and there and was fairly clean. 

Sean was a really patient and good teacher, starting with the basic alphabet. He gave him a sheet that showed the hand motions for each letter and they practiced first with Sykkuno spelling out his name. He was able to get that down pretty quick and after that, Sean taught him simple gestures like ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ which was easy enough for him. Sykkuno was told that the next time they meet, he will be taught some more universal gestures. It was getting late so Sykkuno bid them all farewell before walking the block to his house. 

“Hi, sweetie. You were out later than usual.” His mom greeted with a warm smile, setting a bowl of chicken and dumpling soup on the table for him. Sykkuno smiled, setting his book bag on the couch before digging into his food. He loved his mom’s cooking; she wasn’t able to do it often because of work. 

“I’m sorry, mom.” Sykkuno apologized, worried he was going to get in trouble. It didn’t happen often but he did just stay out two hours later without a warning. “There’s this new kid at school who is mute and my friend is teaching me sign language. I-I thought, you know, it would be, uhm, nice and-” Her laugh caused him to stop and she placed a kiss on his cheek, beginning the dishes as he finished eating. 

“I raised such a kind boy.” She was smiling again. “So, is this new kid nice?” While she wasn’t looking at him, he could tell she was listening to him. It was one of the things Sykkuno loved most about her; she always set aside time out of her busy day to listen to him. No matter how small his problems seemed to him. 

“Yeah, he is. He’s really funny. Jake picked a fight with him on his first day though, I felt really bad.” His mom frowned at that, drying her hands once the dishes were done and sitting down at the table across from him so her son would have her undivided attention. 

“Is he okay?” Sykkuno giggled at the involuntary mom's voice. She had told him that even though he was an only child, all of his friends were like her children. She was just such a kind woman. Sykkuno finished his soup, cleaning out his bowl, and putting in the dishwasher before starting the device. 

“Yeah, he defended himself and totally broke Jake’s nose.” He heard the click of his mom’s tongue, it's what she did when she was disappointed. She doesn’t like violence. “Hey, at least someone stood up to Jake.” She couldn’t argue with that, remembering how this kid made her poor Sykkuno feel. She had tried everything to get the school’s attention and they always reassured her they were handling it. But they weren’t, of course. 

“Well, I’m glad you made a new friend. It’s very sweet you’re learning sign language to talk to him.” She caught onto the blush painting his cheeks, pinning him with all too knowing look. He couldn’t hide from her in fact, he was positive she knew before he did. Sykkuno could clearly remember how terrified he was to come out to his parents, scared they would disown him for being gay. And while his father was furious, his mother hugged him, told him that she loved him just as much as she always had and that she wouldn’t let anything happen to him because he was her son. 

“Y-Yeah. I’m gonna finish my homework and go to bed. Uhm, I love you.” He kissed her cheek before grabbing his bag and beelining down the hall to his room. Sykkuno closed the door, sliding down the object till he was sitting, hands covering his face. He knew he knew the second he saw Corpse that he was totally screwed. 

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If he was being honest, Corpse wasn’t expecting to make any friends at this new school. He just wanted to graduate and move on with his life. But Digital Art class completely changed that and, in a sense, so did Jake. Sean and Felix were two guys that were just...genuine. He enjoyed being around them because they were, by all means, fucking hilarious, and through them, he met Anthony and Ethan, two more hilarious guys. Ethan was the only other junior in that group which was nice in itself. Then, after the fight with Jake, this girl named Rae started talking to him. She was complimenting him about the incident, which made him a bit uncomfortable, but she was enjoyable to be around so he decided to humor her. Plus, she was the one who insulted Jake’s masculinity so she had all his respect for that. 

And then, there was Sykkuno. Sweet, cute, shy little Sykkuno. He didn’t quite understand his feelings towards him, he probably just really wanted to be his friend because...yeah. He really couldn’t explain why he felt himself getting pulled towards Sykkuno, his personality was just so magnetic. He remembered how nervous he got when the brunette thought Mykie was his girlfriend. Corpse wanted to clear that up right away, he didn’t want Sykkuno to think he was dating someone. But...why? 

After school that day, Mykie made him come with her to the nearby wooded area for a photo shoot. She had just finished recording a video of her new makeup style that was inspired by a forest and so, she just had to take pictures in a setting that fits. So, he grabbed his new Canon EOS R5 camera that Mykie’s parents gifted him for his birthday. Corpse had felt so bad, finding no reason that he deserved such a thing. So he spent a solid month doing extra things around the house in a way to pay them back. 

They spent about an hour in those woods, making sure not to stray too far from the view of the neighborhood. He took about 20 photos, going through them all with her before she decided it was enough and they went back to the house, uploading the photos on the computer. For the next 30 minutes, he mindlessly went through and edited the pictures to make it look like how Mykie wanted them, the rest being sent to a folder where he kept the extra photos because he still liked them. 

As he sat there, watching her put her video together, his mind flashed back to Sykkuno. The way his face scrunched up when he was examining something on the camera, or how he covered his mouth every time he laughed or smiled, and even the way he bit his bottom lip whenever he was concentrating on something. He couldn’t get the image of a blushing brunette out of his head. And the more he thought about it, the more it all made sense.

Even back when he was dating Delilah, he wasn’t that interested in girls. He dated her because he just wasn’t used to people being interested in him. Maybe if he dated someone, he would be normal and the torment would stop. But it only made things worse and in the back of his mind, something told him he would never be happy with a girl no matter who it was. At the realization, he felt his throat clench, his chest constricting uncomfortably. He felt like he couldn’t breathe but he knew he didn’t have his facemask on. 

With a shaky hand, Corpse leaned forward to tap on Mykie’s shoulder, gaining her attention. She took note of his expression right away and abandoned the computer to sit next to him, a comforting hand on his shoulder. 

“Corpse? What’s wrong?” She asked, rubbing his back in circles so he could focus on them. He wasn’t sure why he was freaking out. It’s not that he was against the idea of being gay but the more he thought about it, the more anxiety it gave him. He swallowed the lump, quickly signing ‘Nothing, I’m going to bed’ before all but running out of her room. She called his name but he ignored her and shut the door, locking it. 

No, what if her parents disown him for being gay? He couldn’t go into the foster system again, the one year he spent in it was absolute hell. Corpse didn’t know their opinion on the matter and quite frankly, he didn’t want to find out. And if he told Mykie, she might tell her parents. He had to keep this to himself. 

Corpse wasn’t able to sleep that night, sluggishly getting ready for the day with a shower and getting dressed in a baggy black hoodie, black skinny jeans, and black combat boots. He almost forgot to put on his rings but remembered at the last minute. He and Mykie walked the short distance to the school, doing his best to ignore her glances. He adjusted the facemask over his nose, waving goodbye once they entered the school. 

In his US Government class, he took a spot next to Rae, who greeted him way too enthusiastically for being awake at 7:30 in the morning. But she took notice of his mood almost immediately and the bags under his eyes. 

“Hey, what’s up?” Rae asked, flipping her ombre hair over her shoulder. At first, Corpse was just going to tell her that he didn’t sleep well but...the thought of keeping this to himself was too much for him to bear. If he could tell anyone, it would be Rae. If there was one thing he could say about her character from the very short time he started talking to her, it was that she was trustworthy. She just didn’t seem like the person to tell secrets, even if her best friend was Poki, one of the biggest gossipers of the school. So, in his notebook, he wrote out ‘I’ll tell you after class’ and tried his best to ignore the bile that rose in his throat. 

Corpse had pulled her into a hallway that didn’t have as much foot traffic as others in the school. She was looking at him with a raised eyebrow as he pulled out his phone to type out what he wanted to say to her. His heart was hammering in his chest as he turned his phone around for her to read.

“‘You can’t tell anyone about this.’ Yeah, of course, Corpse. Your secret is safe with me.” She smiled, patting his arm as he began typing again. This time, though, he hesitated before he could show her what he put and she noticed that. Ever so observant Rae. “You don’t have to tell me if you’re not ready.” He shook his head, flipping the phone around for her to read. She didn’t read it out loud but her eyebrows shot up before an all too happy smile crossed her lips. 

“Oh, Corpse, there’s no reason to be scared about that. I’m proud that you were comfortable enough to tell someone!” She chirped, giving him a tight hug that he felt a little too awkward to reciprocate but she didn’t take offense to that. “But I won’t tell anyone, I swear. It's yours to tell, not mine.” Corpse felt that went a lot better than he had anticipated and she didn’t make it a big deal which helped him calm down.

Today was the day Corpse finally let Rae convince him to sit with her group of friends. He knew Sykkuno, of course, because he’s been on his mind all week. But he wasn’t sure about the other people she was friends with. He’s heard about Poki from Rae but that was about it. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he didn’t have the same lunch period with Sean and Felix so most times he sat by himself. Rae took notice and has been trying to get him to sit with her for three days now. He was nervous about meeting her friends but it was also depressing to sit by himself at lunch so might as well, right? 

“Hey, guys! This is Corpse, he’ll be sitting with us from now on.” Rae took her spot next to Poki, thanking her friend for the sandwich because she didn’t want to eat the school’s food that day. Corpse awkwardly sat next to her and another guy he did recognize. However, Sykkuno shot him such a warm smile, it made his heart flutter. 

“Oh, hey Corpse!” His voice made his brain melt and at the moment, he was thankful he was mute because if he talked right now, it would just be absolutely gibberish. Under the table, he was playing with the rings on his finger when Sykkuno spoke up again. “I don’t know if you’ve met them yet but that’s Poki, Leslie, Lily, Scarra, and Toast.” He introduced each person down the table but he wasn’t paying much attention. He was too focused on the sound of Sykkuno’s voice. It made him relax completely, his worries washing away completely. The sudden lack of tension in his body was noticed by Rae, and he reasoned with himself that she couldn’t possibly know the reason why. 

“I didn’t know you knew each other, Sykkuno.” Rae’s smile was innocent but Corpse knew the implications behind the question. She was too damn observant. 

“Oh, we uh, we have Digital Art together.” The brunette answered simply, going back to his meal without dwelling on it. Rae let the subject drop as well, allowing time for her friends to either praise Corpse for breaking Jake’s nose or ask questions to get to know the guy. Despite the fact Corpse wasn’t good in social situations, every time he felt himself getting overwhelmed, all he had to do was make Sykkuno laugh or talk to feel his body fill with warmth and his worries dissipate.