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Hold On - Ishimondo

Chapter Text

Despite the sirens that wailed just outside of the house, Mondo couldn't hear anything. All he could hear was the blood pounding in his ear.

This shouldn't of happened.

He should've never had to experience the unusual emptiness from his best friend's desk that morning.

He should've never had to experience that gut feeling that something was wrong.

He should've never had to experience the panic in his chest when he had to kick down the locked bathroom door.

And he sure as hell should've never had to experience the feeling of holding Kiyotaka Ishimaru's unconscious body.

He didn't have to look too deep into the scene to know what happened. There was a small green bottle, nearly empty, tipped over on the tiled bathroom floor. A few white pills were scattered around it. There wasn't a lot. The rest were somewhere else.

Mondo was a junior in high school. He was only seventeen.

So he should've never had to experience the feeling of his best friend's unmoving body being taken away from him by a paramedic.

There was yelling all around him, probably a mix between instructions, precautions, and codes into walkie talkies.

Mondo couldn't hear a thing.

Chapter Text

He’d seen enough.

 

Mondo Owada didn’t look back on his way out of the gym. He hadn’t told anyone he was leaving. It didn’t matter. He rushed out into the hall. He was getting out of here.

 

It started simple enough. Hope’s Peak was holding a homecoming dance as it had done every year, and Mondo’s friend group had convinced him to go. Finding a date was simple. He wasn’t unpopular and he was good looking. That’s all that mattered in these situations. Who needed personality?

 

He asked Sayaka Maizono, the ultimate pop sensation. He admired her for her good looks, and that was about it. They hardly spoke to each other anyways. Despite that, she seemed thrilled and accepted his invitation, and that was that. They were going as each other’s date.

 

The night had gone fine, beginning with Mondo’s unexpected confidence in his formal attire. It wasn’t what he was used to, but it looked nice on him. It helped make a good impression with Maizono’s parents as well. He even substituted his motorcycle for his brother’s truck, and his usual pompadour was slicked back. He stumbled on a few formalities here and there, simply forgetting to open doors for her and accidentally raising his voice out of nervousness, but he felt like he was doing good nonetheless.

 

Now, he didn’t feel too confident in that. He lost her for a moment as the two talked with their separate friend groups. He just finished telling his own about how well dinner had gone when he turned to see her chatting with Leon, one of the guys in his own group. She giggled at whatever the red head told her, just as she did in her and Mondo’s conversations that same night. He felt he needed to do something, so he left to go get her some punch.

 

They were gone when he came back. He suddenly felt alone, despite the presence of his other friends. He searched for them. It didn’t matter which he saw first, red hair or deep blue hair. He just wanted to find them.

 

He found them together, as he expected. They joined together as a slow song came on, and they began to sway back and forth. He watched from a distance, the hand holding the cup going numb. He nearly dropped it.

 

He thought he was doing good. He really did.

 

He was angry. Angry at her for leaving him. Angry at Leon for betraying him like this. Angry at himself for getting his hopes up once again.

 

That’s the events that led to his current state. He discarded the cup in the first trashcan he could find, and already began undoing his jacket. He was going to go through the back exit so nobody would see him and begin to question.

 

Of course this meant he had to go through a series of halls. It was only Freshman year, yet he knew these halls well. Nothing caught his eye in particular. His mind was dead set on getting to the truck so he could go home and forget this all happened.

 

He was going to take a night ride on his motorcycle and maybe drink a little booze. That would help. He didn’t need emotions. He was so close to the exit now.

 

“You’re in a rush.”

 

The hell?

 

Mondo hadn’t noticed the figure standing a few feet in front of him, leaning against the wall by the boy’s bathroom.

 

Not the fucking hall monitor...

 

He stopped for just a moment to stare at him. He wouldn’t say his presence scared him, but it was unexpected.

 

Mondo didn’t know his name. He just knew him as “the hall monitor”. He had never spoken to him besides one sided conversations where the kid would scold him for going against school violations.

 

He was annoying.

 

Mondo couldn’t check the time on his phone during class without receiving a glare from those piercing red eyes. Yet Mondo would simply roll his eyes, mumbling an insult without receiving a response.

 

His presence here pissed him off more than ever. He was so close to the exit.

 

“Whadaya ya want kid? I’m leavin’ obviously.” The other male simply shrugged.

 

“I’m not stopping you, am I?” He stared at Mondo with his usual expression.

 

Mondo noted that point. He wasn’t stopping him. Why had he even stopped? He began walking again, but only took a few steps before turning to him again.

 

“Why are you back here? Shouldn’ ya be monitorin’ the gym. Crazy stuff happens at these dances ya know?”

 

The hall monitor stood from his leaning position.

 

“I should ask you the same thing. Why are you leaving through the back exit?”

 

“I asked you a question first!”

 

They stared at each other for a moment before the other male lifted his sleeved arm, holding up a hand.

 

“Kiyotaka Ishimaru.”

 

Mondo stared at the pale hand. He questioned a lot of stuff right now. Why was he still here? Why was the hall monitor here as well? Why did he feel a little better as a small smile lifted to the usual stern face of the boy in front of him?

 

“Mondo Owada...” he told him as he shook the smaller hand.

 

The night took an unexpected turn of events when the two found themselves sitting on the steps of the porch right outside the exit.

 

“I’m aware my presence isn’t wanted here, Owada. Homecoming is supposed to be fun. We’re still in a school environment, yes, but nobody’s education is at risk.”

 

This was the most he heard the prefect talk. It surprised him a bit that he was telling Owada, a delinquent, this out of all people. To be fair, the biker did stick himself in this situation.

 

“But you’re here anyways. So why are ya sittin’ alone in the back of the school. That’s kinda creepy.” Mondo leaned his face into his palm, his elbow rested on his knee. This shouldn’t take long, yet he found himself getting comfortable.

 

“Well, I will say it sparked my interest , the thought of being at school without having to worry about my duties as a hall monitor. I thought it would be different, but seeing all of our classmates do such...immoral things...It took a lot not to remind them the consequences that could occur. As I stated, I did not want to take away from their homecoming night experience, so I simply left the gym. It was quiet in the back.”

 

He turned to Mondo now, lifting a hand that was rested on his knee.

 

“I cannot see the appeal in replacing one’s drink with alcohol, yet there was only smiles on everyone’s faces. Perhaps I just don’t understand.”

 

Mondo shrugged, keeping his gaze on the street lights on the distance.

 

“It’s one of those things ya just have to be in the mood for I guess. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just...fun.” He turned to the other male who was messing with some feature on his own tux, that was very similar to Mondo’s.

 

“Fun, huh?” It came out as a mumble. “I suppose we have difference in the things we find thrilling.” This made Mondo drop the hand on his face back to his lap.

 

“Well, whataya find fun?”

 

A moment of silence came before the moral compass shrugged.

 

“I do enjoy hearing my father’s stories about his job. Being a police officer, he encounters a lot of odd things. Though, I worry for his safety.”

 

Mondo chuckled a little at his response and received a pout.

 

“Is something funny about that?”

 

“Just wasn’t the answer I expected.”

 

“...What did you expect?”

 

“I figured ya found doin’ homework fun or somethin’. Just seems like it, you bein’ the ultimate moral compass an’ all.”

 

Kiyotaka tilted his head slightly. He stayed silent for a moment, turning his gaze from Mondo to his knees. Then he perked up.

 

“I apologize! I did not mean to make this conversation all about me. What a very self centered thing for me to do.” His face showed visible distress.

 

“Kid, really, it’s okay. I asked, remember?” That caused Kiyotaka to ease up a little.

 

“Well, what about you? Why were you leaving?”

 

Mondo didn’t want to explain his situation. It would make him seem weak. He wasn’t weak.

 

Yet talking to this guy wasn’t all too bad, and it cleared his mind of his original reckless thoughts. He found himself telling Kiyotaka about the series of events that led to his attempt at departure.

 

“I see. It upset you to the point where you decided it would be best not to see it.” The Ishimaru spoke in a happier, more relaxed tone. “It seems as though our situations are similar, Owada!”

 

Owada smiled at the new tone. Venting about his situation made him feel better about it, and it seemed the same for the other.

 

They continued to talk about other things. He admitted a lot about himself, from his desire to be a carpenter, to his overbearing love he had for animals. He also found out a few things about Kiyotaka. Everyone at the school knew that Kiyotaka’s was the grandson of the infamous prime minister, Toranosuke Ishimaru. What they didn’t know is that Kiyotaka’s ultimate came from the desire to save his last name. He just wanted to prove that he wasn’t a bad guy, and that he put in work for his accomplishments.

 

Mondo also learned a bit from his mistake of calling Taka a “genius”. Kiyotaka’s reaction wasn’t a good one. He explained that his grandfather was a genius who didn’t work for anything. He lived a lazy life, and Taka refused to follow his footsteps.

 

Their chat came to an end once they noticed a few cars passing by. Taka checked his watch.

 

“Looks like the dance has ended.” He even sounded upset. Even though Mondo was exhausted, he would’ve been lying if he said he hadn’t wanted to continue talking, but Kiyotaka was already standing up. He offered his hand to Mondo and helped him up.

 

“I do apologize. You were trying to leave and I held you back way longer than I should have.”

 

“Don’t ya remember? I stopped to talk to you. Not the other way ‘round. If anything, it’s my fault.”

 

Kiyotaka smiled up at him.

 

“I’m glad I understand you more. I really enjoyed our talk!” He rubbed the back of his head and looked away. “Perhaps we could talk more often?”

 

Mondo gave him a simple smile.

 

“I’d like that.”

 

They continued their talk as they left to the parking lot, Mondo going as far as to walk Taka to his own car.

 

“You’re not as bad as people make ya seem, ya know?”

 

That didn’t seem like the right thing to say. Taka’s smile dropped a little, but he replaced it quickly.

 

“I’m very glad you think so. I actually enjoyed tonight a lot! I’m very happy right now!”

 

Mondo chucked at the enthusiasm and ruffled Taka’s black hair.

 

“Drive safe, kid.” Mondo turned and began towards his own truck.

 

“Yes, you as well. I’ll see you at school on Monday, kyodai!”

 

Mondo stopped and turned his head.

 

“Kyodai?” He smirked at him. “I like it.”

 

~~~

 

A steady pace of beeping was the only sound in the room. At first it annoyed Mondo, the beeping. Yet once he realized why it was there, he learned to love it.

 

It meant Kiyotaka was still alive.

 

Mondo was very grateful for that. Taka would’ve been proud of him for thinking in such a way. Mondo wanted to hear him say it, but Taka’s eyes remained shut and his body stayed unmoving.

 

He flinched as the door opened, turning to the young nurse who was carrying a small bag of clear liquid. Mondo recognized it as the same stuff connected to the IV. She gave him her usual timid smile.

 

“Hello, Owada. Nice to see you again.” He’d been here every day since Taka was admitted. Of course she’d recognize him.

 

“Hi, Mikan.” He stayed looking at his friend’s still face, begging for any sign of movement as Mikan began replacing the contents attached to the IV. He always thought he saw movement in the still face, but he never did. It was just his imagination, yet it gave him hope.

 

The nurse finished and threw away the almost empty bag. She stood a distance from the bed as she, too, watched her patient. They stayed in silence for a while before Mikan walked to the bed. She touched his pale arm and gently stroked it.

 

“Hang in there for us, Ishimaru.” Her voice was quiet as usual. Mondo cocked a brow at the words and sat up a little. Mikan looked at him with a small smile. “W-Why don’t you try talking to him? He c-can hear you, you know?” She lifted her hand and gathered her belongings before leaving them alone again.

 

So he can hear me...

 

Mondo touched his arm as Mikan did. He rubbed his thumb gently on the skin.

 

“Hey, buddy.” He didn’t even know where to start.

 

He waited, almost expecting a response. It felt like he was talking to himself, yet if someone walked in, he wouldn’t care. He needed Kiyotaka to realize he was here.

 

“We all miss ya, you know...Things are weird at school now. The halls are more quiet now, even though you’re not there to stop the chaos. Classes too. I’d say you’re probably worried about missing all these assignments, ‘cause that’s just somethin’ you’d worry about, even in this state, but you’ll probably catch it all up within two days anyways.” He snickered and moved his hand to run his fingers through the messy black hair.

 

“Wish I was more like you when it came to that stuff. My grades aren’t all that good right now...I’m tryin’ though. And I’mma try harder so I can make ya proud. I mean it.”

 

He stopped moving his hand and put it back on his lap. He sighed, wanting to hear Kiyotaka say something, anything.

 

“Sorry I couldn’t stop ya, Kiyo. I wish I got there sooner. Maybe if I had we’d be somewhere else, like riding on my bike or somethin’, you yellin’ at me to slow down like always.” He smiled at that. “I drive a little slower now thanks to you, so you don’ have to worry.”

 

He realized what he was saying and smirked.

 

“You really changed me, Taka. I guess I never realized it before.”

 

It was true. Mondo not only drove slower and promised to try harder with school, but he was less violent, and he thought about his actions before he did them. As bad as he wanted to cut loose on the other students, as bad as he wanted to beat the people who did this to Taka, he knew that’s not what the prefect wanted.

 

Mondo cared about him enough to grant him those wishes.

Chapter Text

“We still hangin’ out after school?”

 

Mondo couldn’t see Taka’s face until he shut the locker door, adjusting his books in his arms where they fit more comfortably.

 

“Of course, Kyoudai!”

 

Mondo stood from his position, leaning onto the beige lockers, his hands in the pockets of his school slacks that he hated oh so much. They weren’t as comfortable as his usual attire.

 

The two made their way to their first class, which they had together fortunately.

 

“So what were ya thinkin’ of doin’?”

 

“Well, we could grab a bite to eat like always, but maybe we could eat it in the park today. It is rather nice outside today.”

 

Mondo glanced down to his friend as he spoke, seeing his smile. That was one thing about Kiyotaka that really made him stand out. He had a smile so precious that could melt the heart of many. His big red eyes accompanying it along with his characteristic brows also added to his personality.

 

Taka was just...Taka.

 

Mondo remembered last year, that homecoming night they met. Before that night, he had never seen the prefect smile. His face always looked stern and concentrated. Something had changed since then though. Mondo knew it was result of having a new friend. He took pride in the thought that the hall monitor was able to ease up around him.

 

Taka explained it once, doing so hastily. He only said he made him feel safe before substituting the subject to talk about schoolwork.

 

That thought always lingered in the back of his mind in times like these. It boosted his ego.

 

These enjoyable times always contained a parasite though. This specific parasite was the stares and whispers of the rest of the students. Neither of them had to look to know it was happening. The stares weren’t directed towards Mondo though.

 

They were towards Kiyotaka Ishimaru, quite possibly the most talked about student at this high school. Mondo just so happened to be in the line of fire of those stares.

 

Everyone knew about the Ishimaru family. Of course they did. Kiyotaka’s grandfather was the prime minister before being permanently removed. He was a terrible man who did terrible things. He was corrupt. Some of what he did went unsaid, even between Mondo and Kiyotaka, but everyone knew what Toranosuke Ishimaru was about.

 

They knew their hall monitor was the grandson of this monster.

 

Usually a scowl from Mondo would cut down the stares. Mondo was feared, being a gang leader and all.

 

Byakuya Togami was an exception. That snobby asshole would simply smirk at Mondo’s attempts to scare him, enraging him even more.

 

He just so happened to make eye contact with those piercing blue eyes at this moment.

 

He was on the verge of snapping until he felt a nudge into his side causing him to snap his attention back to his best friend. The smile was gone now, yet he didn’t look angry.

 

“Let it go, Mondo. I can assure you, it is quite alright.”

 

“You always say that, and it keeps happening. I’m about to put my fo-“

 

“That’s enough, Mondo.” He cut him off, causing a silence between them. “I’m going to fix it. I just need them to realize I’m trying.”

 

Mondo was about to continue until Taka walked into their class, ending their conversation. Mondo groaned quietly and turned slightly to continue shooting daggers at the blond heir, who seemed to grow bored of the shenanigans. He rolled his eyes, fixed his glasses, and turned to grab his books.

 

Mondo wanted to pummel him as well as a majority of people in this hall. He was tired of seeing the most caring person he knew being treated like this. What really pissed him off is that Taka was still so selfless when it came to these people. He’d give away his time or money to make sure his classmates were doing well, despite the treatment.

 

And he was manipulated so much because of this.

 

With these thoughts in mind, Mondo had to take a deep breath before walking into the classroom.

 

~~~

 

Just like usual, Mondo sat next to the hospital bed. What was unusual was the fact that he had a sheet of paper in front of him, on top of a binder, making it easier for him to write.

 

He was actually doing his homework.

 

It frustrated him, and he remembered why he didn’t ever do it in the first place. It wasn’t that he was lazy, it was the fact that when he tried to do it he could never understand. Especially math. The numbers just taunted him, and when he saw a problem that contained letters as well, it made him even angrier.

 

He was only on the third problem when he felt his grip on his pencil tighten. This was so much easier when Kiyotaka was with him. If he was here Mondo would’ve been calmer. He would’ve been able to look at these numbers without wanting to throw his books across the room. The beeping made his head hurt. Taka should’ve been here.

 

Why did they have to treat his best friend like shit? Why did he have to go through this by himself?

 

He turned to look at Taka’s body. His mind shifted from the homework. He had to stop thinking about it. His thoughts were now on Taka’s pale skin, and how the light blue hospital gown made him look so delicate. Mondo put his books on the ground and shifted the chair to turn to the bed. He put his hand on the cold wrist laying on the bed, and massaged it with his thumb.

 

“You’re really doin’ a number on me y’know...” He made sure he didn’t sound mad. He wasn’t mad at Kiyotaka. He was mad at everything else.

 

“‘S funny...Even though your not awake, you’re still makin’ me do my homework.” He put his elbow on the bed and leaned his cheek into his palm. “It’d be a lot better with my study buddy. It was always better with you.”

 

He glanced down at his booksack as his grip tightened a little bit.

 

“I...I never even thanked you for doing any of that...for tolerating my anger issues...for always finding a way to make it better.”

 

He felt himself close to tears.

 

“God, I need you, Taka.”

 

He dropped his head, face on the bed. He had to stop himself. He couldn’t cry. Crying was for the weak. He couldn’t be weak. He had to be strong for Taka.

 

He lifted his head, eyes a little glossy.

 

“Can’t believe ya got me feelin’ like this...lil’ fucker...”

 

He ruffled the black hair, softer than usual, and picked up his books. He returned one hand to rest on Taka’s arm.

 

“Let’s try this again.”

Chapter Text

As usual, the two boys went to Mondo’s that afternoon to study and hang out. Their routine usually started with both of them studying, until Mondo got bored and began playing on his phone much to Taka’s dismay.

 

Today was no different in routine, but Kiyotaka seemed off. For once, he hadn’t scolded Mondo for his usual messy room when they arrived. Even now, as they sat on the bed, Taka hadn’t asked Mondo how his day was like usual. When Mondo asked the question instead, his received a simple answer of “it was good.”

 

Mondo took note of his bluntness, and also noticed he didn’t have his usual stern face of concentration. In fact, he looked like he was only looking down at the pages of the science book rather than actually reading it.

 

Mondo was across from him, his back against the headboard. His foot was next to his friend’s crossed legs, so he moved it to bump his knee casually, an attempt to get some kind of response out of him. Taka showed no sign that he had even noticed the action. This caused Mondo to sit up with a sigh, removing the book from Taka’s lap.

 

“Mondo, come on. We need to-“

 

“Not until ya talk to me. You’re not actin’ like yourself. You ain’t even scolded me all day!”

 

“You haven’t done anything wrong for me to-“

 

“I threw a book at Leon earlier and you said nothing. Ya just stared off into space.” Mondo set the book on his pillow and scooted closer to Taka, getting comfortable and leaning against the bedroom wall, which the bed was pressed against.

 

Kiyotaka sighed and looked towards his book that had been stolen. Mondo noticed and grabbed the book, putting it under the pillow.

 

“You can have it back once ya talk t’ me.”

 

Kiyotaka smiled slightly at his friend’s antics. He shuffled where he was against the wall as well.

 

“I heard some rather vulgar things about myself today from our classmates, and it crossed my mind that nobody even tries to hide their hatred for me. I understand that people don’t like me because of my last name...but I just wish they would realize...” He stopped and hugged his legs close to his chest.

 

“I’m trying so hard. I just want people to see that my family isn’t bad. I’m not bad. If I follow the rules then people will realize I’m good. If I enforce the rules, people will realize how dedicated I am to being good. Not only that, but maybe I can prevent others from going down the same path as my grandfather.” His voice sounded shaky now. “I just want them to see that I’m not doing it to be bossy...o-or as a way to get on the teachers’ good side. I’m doing this so people can see just how hard I’m working. I need to fix things, Mondo.”

 

Mondo put his arms behind his head as he listened. He couldn’t really relate to any of what was being said, so all he could do is try to help from and outsider’s point of view.

 

“I hear ya. I need you to understand though...you’re not just an Ishimaru. You’re Kiyotaka. Ya don’t gotta do any of that for anyone else. Do what you need to do as Kiyotaka.”

 

“I want to save my family’s name, Mondo. More than anything.” Mondo sighed at his stubbornness.

 

“Is that all that happened? You’re just thinkin’ a lot?” Kiyotaka nodded, though Mondo noticed a little hesitation. He figured he didn’t want to be pressured into talking about it. He stood up from the bed and held a hand out.

 

“C’mon. We’re going ride.”

 

“Mondo, I didn’t finish-“

 

“You can do it later. Let’s just get your mind off of these assholes, kay?”

 

Taka looked at his pillow where his text book was hidden, noticing how the corner was peaking out. His frown lifted into a smile.

 

“Only if you wear a helmet this time.”

 

“Deal.”

 

He turned to Mondo and took his hand, allowing himself to be pulled up.

 

~~~

 

Mondo tapped his pencil against his the textbook he was reading. He found it easier to do homework when he held onto Kiyotaka’s arm. He could almost hear Taka’s usual supporting comments as he worked his equations.

 

The door to the room opened with a slower creak than usual, causing Mondo’s attention to drift from the book.

 

He expected to see the nurse, so he was shocked to see his older brother standing there, hands in his jacket pockets.

 

“Knew you’d be here.” The older man walked deeper into the room and leaned against the wall before he looked at the textbook on Mondo’s lap. “Are you doing homework?”

 

“I guess. If that’s what ya wanna call it.” He put his book on the stand next to the chair. “What’re you doing’ here, Daiya?” Daiya moved a hand through his black slicked back hair.

 

“Figured you could use some company. You’re here all the damn time. We don’t even ride no more.” Mondo realized he hadn’t rode the streets since the incident.

 

“I just...I needa be here for him.” Both boys turned their heads to the still body in bed. They stood in silence for a while, almost out of respect, but mainly because neither knew what to say.

 

“You’re a good dude, Mondo.”

 

“I shoulda been there.”

 

“You were.”

 

“He tried to kill himself, Daiya! What kinda fuckin’ best friend lets that happen!”

 

“Mondo.”

 

“God, I shoulda beat the shit out of those bastards! I shouldn’t of let them keep treating him like shit! This wouldn’t even of happened if I hadn’t did what I did the night of the party!”

 

“Mondo. Shut up and listen to me.”

 

Daiya was now across from his brother, clutching his shaky shoulders.

 

“You were his best friend. The kid was like another little brother to me at the way he was always at the house. I saw the way he looked so happy when he was with you. You don’t just get that smile from anyone. Hell, maybe it was even more than that!”

 

Mondo glared at the ground, refusing to make any eye contact.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“Nothin’. The point I’m trying to make is that you were there for him. Hell, you’re probably the reason he held on for so damn long. The fact that you’re here everyday instead of hangin’ out with the gang to forget about things says a lot. You’ve done more than enough, and I know Kiyo feels the same way.”

 

Mondo turned his head to look at his friend. He stared a moment before sighing.

 

“You’re actin’ like him right now, ya know.” He ran a hand through the back of his hair. “I miss him, Daiya.”

 

“I’ve noticed.” He let go of the other’s shoulder. “But you need to stop blaming yourself. He sure as hell wouldn’t be havin’ any of that shit.”

 

Mondo, once again, looked at his friend, almost thinking all the ruckus would wake him up, only for him to scold Mondo for trying to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. He reached for Taka’s arm again before speaking.

 

“Thank you, Daiya.” He rubbed the pale skin with his thumb. Daiya smiled at the interaction, but then crossed his arms.

 

“Ya mentioned somethin’ bout a party. What’s that about?”

 

“Don’t worry ‘bout it. I wasn’t thinkin’ right. I’ll tell ya some other time.” Mondo’s frustration at the topic was visible, a look of guilt in his eyes. Daiya knew he didn’t want to think about whatever it was, so he changed the topic.

 

“Once he wakes up, me, you, and him are gonna go for the ride of our lives.”

 

“As long as we wear helmets.” Daiya cocked an eyebrow at his younger brother’s statement.

 

“Ya never wear a helmet.”

 

“It’s what he’ll want.” Mondo smiled, remembering all the times Taka would warn him of all the consequences that could take place for such reckless behavior.

 

Daiya mumbled something under his breath with a grin.

 

The two talked about each other’s day, Daiya having some rather interesting stories about the mechanic shop he worked at. Time passed rather quickly.

 

“It’s gettin’ late. I’mma head back. Don’t stay here too late, and stop thinking so hard.” Daiya stood from his leaning position and made his way to the door.

 

“Bye, Daiya. Thanks...drive safe.”

 

The door clicked, signaling the older’s departure. Mondo sighed and leaned his head back against the chair, then glanced at Taka’s wrist that was still in his hand. It hadn’t occurred to him before just how cold it was. He looked around for a spare blanket and noticed a closet.

 

Mondo stood from his spot and made his way to it before opening the doors and looking inside. He instantly found a few of them, folded and stacked neatly. He pulled one out before noticing a stack of clothes next to the sheets. On top of the clothes was a red fabric that Mondo recognized as Taka’s armband, judging by the white letters on it and the safety pin connected to it. He grabbed it before closing the doors and retreating to his spot.

 

He laid the blanket over Taka to give him a little more warmth, making sure it fully covered his body. He then sat back down, the armband still in his hand. He stared down at it before tracing the letters with a finger.

 

Mondo unpinned it before wrapping it around his own arm. His arms were a lot bigger than the armband’s owner’s, so he found it surprising that there was enough fabric to fit around his bicep. He was able to pin it with one hand after a while, though he wondered how Taka did this every damn day.

 

He was going to learn though, and he was going to wear it everyday just as Taka had.

Chapter Text

Mondo skipped school today.

 

He knew Kiyotaka was going to be pissed, so he tried to think of a good excuse that would get some pressure off of him, but he knew nothing he thought of would please his stubborn friend.

 

Kiyotaka would probably scold him before giving him the silent treatment for only a moment before he cracked. He could never stay mad at anyone except his grandfather. Even still, had that man come back to Kiyotaka, he’d likely be willing to listen to any apology. Maybe he even wanted an apology.

 

Owada parked his bike outside the back of the school where the two normally left from. Despite missing the school day, he still hoped Taka would want to grab a bite to eat like they normally did after every afternoon.

 

Mondo kicked the stand down as he heard the final bell ring, signaling departure. He couldn’t help but smile at his timing as he got off the bike, leaning against the frame.

 

From the distant parking lot, he watched a few students walk out the back, even recognizing a few of their faces. People stopped coming out eventually, which only led to Mondo’s assumption that Taka was talking with a teacher. He pulled out his phone, smiling down at his lock screen featuring a picture of him and his best friend. It was a picture Daiya had taken of them while they were at the beach. It was simple enough, Mondo with an arm around Taka’s shoulders. They were both in their swimsuits, but Taka had a towel wrapped around his shoulders to dry off.

 

What really made this picture stand out is the huge smile Taka had on his face. It wasn’t rare to see the boy with a smile on his face, but the one in this picture looked so real. It was contagious, even. That’s why Mondo had it set as his lock screen in the first place.

 

He glanced up from his phone as he saw a glimpse of fiery red hair. He grinned seeing the boy make his way to his silver Mercedes.

 

“Kuwata! My man!” Mondo made his way to his friend. Leon hadn’t noticed Mondo until he heard his voice, turning at the greeting. He returned the grin with a cocked eyebrow.

 

“Well, if it isn’t the ultimate class skipper.” The two clasped hands before pulling each other forward as their usual greeting. Leon pulled away and put a hand on his hip.

 

“It drove Taka insane, I could just tell. He seemed antsy all day. He couldn’t even concentrate during class. You’re in some deep shit, man.” Mondo sighed, rubbing the back of his neck.

 

“I know, I’m gonna make it up to ‘em. Where is he anyways? Did you see him comin’ out?”

 

Leon scratched his chin and looked towards the door.

 

“Not that I recall. He was in last hour though.”

 

Mondo tensed up a little. It was probably nothing.

 

But why did he feel like something was wrong?

 

“I’m gonna go find him.” Mondo turned and lifted a hand in departure. “Later, man. Thanks.”

 

“Of course.”

 

Mondo heard Leon’s car start as he made his way to the back entrance. He’d be fucked if a teacher saw him entering the school at the end of the day, but he didn’t care. He had to find Kiyotaka.

 

He just hoped he’d get to him first.

 

He walked past the spot where the two had originally met on homecoming night, and stopped upon hearing a faint noise. It came from the boy’s bathroom.

 

He stopped and listened for a moment to make sure it wasn’t his adrenaline putting things in his head. He heard another noise, which sounded like a faded shout.

 

He hadn’t realized he was sweating as he rushed to the bathroom, pulling the door open quickly.

 

At first glimpse, all he saw was a guy leaning against the sink, cigarette in his mouth. He looked at Mondo with fear and immediately stood from his leaning position. What really caught Mondo’s attention was the two pairs of feet he saw through the bottom gap of one of the stalls.

 

“P-Please! I’m not going t-“ The voice was cut off buy a splash and another sharp voice.

 

“You’re gonna start shit like you always do! We ain’t stupid! And if you open your mouth about any of this I’ll fucking kill you, prick!”

 

Mondo didn’t recognize the second voice, but he knew that first voice all too well. He shoved past the first guy to witness the stomach wrenching scene in the stall.

 

There was a another student, holding Kiyotaka’s head down in the toilet bowl as he struggled, hands trying to push way. The student turned to look at what caused the looming shadow only to be pulled out of the stall and thrown against the sink. Whoever the other guy was, presumably an acquaintance or some sort to the one Mondo was currently clutching, had already retreated from the bathroom.

 

“Hey man, wh-!”

 

Mondo was in a fit of rage as he collided his fist to the boy’s face, sending him to the ground with a thump.

 

He wasn’t done. He was pissed.

 

He got down to straddle the bleeding perpetrator and went ham. He sent more punches forward, colliding with his teeth, nose, and anywhere he could access. He was blinded with rage at this point and didn’t care about the fact that he wasn’t even putting up a fight, only trying to muster out a few words.

 

“Mondo, stop!”

 

His vision faded from the red as he turned to the voice. Kiyotaka’s top half was soaking wet, his eyes bloodshot. He was violently shaking, holding onto the stall’s frame for support.

 

“Please...let’s just go, Mondo...”

 

“Taka, they-“

 

“Mondo, please...I just want to go home...”

 

Mondo looked down at the bleeding and bruised body he was holding. He was still breathing, he’d be fine. He deserved it after all.

 

Mondo let go of the body and got up, taking his leather jacket off, wrapping it around Taka’s shivering form. He placed a hand on Taka’s lower back as he heard a choked out sob. He kept his hand there, watching intently as they walked out the bathroom, leaving the battered body there for whoever would find him.

 

“We need to call someone to help him...”

 

“No. We gotta get you home.”

 

“He probably has family that’s worried-“

 

“Fuck him and his family! He tried to fuckin’ drown you!”

 

They slowly made their way to Mondo’s bike. Mondo was about to get on, desperate to get Taka home away from this place.

 

He didn’t get to though. The smaller stood still for a moment, almost as though he was processing what just happened. He threw himself forward and let himself sob into Mondo’s chest, clutching his tank top. The biker was able to ignore the wetness on his shirt from Taka’s drenched hair, and he wrapped his strong arms around the other, holding him close.

 

“W-Why can’t they u-understand?! I-I’m n-ot like h-him ! I-I o-only w-w-want what’s b-est-“

 

“I know, Taka. Just breathe. It’s not going to happen again. You need to catch your breath.”

 

They stood like that for a while, Mondo rubbing his back as he let him cry. Taka had bottled up these emotions a lot, so all of this shocked Mondo in the slightest, but his adrenaline was still pumping and he couldn’t think about that right now.

 

Eventually, the sobbing slowed down to just chokes and hiccups. He put his chin on Taka’s head.

 

“I-I’m sorry.”

 

“You got nothing to be sorry for. Take all the time you need.” Owada backed away to get a good luck at his face. “Can ya breathe fine?”

 

Taka said something that only came out as a mumble.

 

“What?”

 

“I feel sick-“

 

Mondo felt himself being pushed away before Taka rushed from the gravel of the parking lot. He kneeled in the grass instead as he vomited.

 

The biker sighed, knowing there was nothing he could do to really help. Despite the retching, he kneeled beside the other and rubbed his back once again, moving his other hand to push any of Taka’s loose hairs out of the way.

 

The hall monitor leaned back onto his heels as he panted, trying to regain his breath. He allowed Mondo to help him up, but refused to make any eye contact.

 

“Th-Thank you. I’m s-sorry.”

 

Mondo walked him to his bike once again.

 

“Think you can hold on and stuff properly? Or do ya need a moment? I can call Daiya to come pick us up in the truck-“

 

“I’m fine. Everything’s going to be fine.”

 

They got on the bike, Mondo assisting the other. He gave Taka the helmet he always kept for him and helped him snap it on.

 

He made sure the grip that was wrapped around his waist was tight enough before he drove out the parking lot, going a lot slower than normal.

 

So he didn’t get the lecture he thought he was going to get, but he would’ve much preferred that.

 

He hoped to get an explanation for everything that took place before he walked into the bathroom, but for now he just wanted to get this boy to safety.

 

~~~

 

Mondo stared down at his desk, fiddling with the safety pin that kept the red band around his arm. The classroom was loud due to the presence of a substitute teacher. Luckily, the biker was able to drown it out.

 

That’s how he had been getting through these school days. He didn’t want to hear sympathy from people who never gave a shit before, and he especially didn’t want to hear it from people who had caused his best friend to try to take his own life. It wasn’t Mondo they should be asking about anyways.

 

A handful of his classmates asked about Kiyotaka, wanting to know how he was.

 

Leon Kuwata, of course, was one of them. He wasn’t as close to Mondo as Kiyotaka was, but they were still buddies, and quite frankly, Leon was one of the only people Mondo didn’t want to beat up right now. Leon had even been friendly with Kiyotaka before the situation. Their personalities clashed, of course, but the two were able to laugh it off. Owada remembered just how happy Taka was to have another friend after meeting the baseball star after he joined them for lunch one day.

 

And then there was Chihiro Fujisaki, a smaller boy. He had nervously approached Mondo in the locker room one day after P.E., and asked how he was doing. It pissed Mondo off, and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t want to smash his head in with the nearest dumbbell.

 

He was making him look weak. He wasn’t weak.

 

He anger had presided, however, after Chihiro asked about Taka’s state as well. Mondo, who had been responding with short, blunt answers, decided to ease up on the kid, and told him he was still recovering. That’s all he felt he needed to say except for the small “thanks” he murmured as they departed.

 

Among the other students who asked were Yasuhiro Hagakure, Makoto Naegi, Kyoko Kirigiri, and Sayaka Maizono. It was the first time he remembered talking to any of them except for Sayaka, considering her and Leon were together a lot. If he had talked with the others before, he sure as hell didn’t remember.

 

So now he sat in the back of the class as the noise grew louder and louder. It was definitely a change in atmosphere that had surrounded the school for the last two weeks. Upon hearing the announcement that one of their classmate’s were in critical condition, word got around fast.

 

It was weird. Despite the lack of a hall monitor, nobody ran between classes, and the halls were always unusually quiet. Mondo thought he was just doing good at drowning out the world until Leon had mentioned that dreariness.

 

Owada would be lying if he said he didn’t miss that silence in place of the noise of the classroom.

 

A blue eyed girl with brunette hair, pulled up into a high pony tail approached him, holding what looked like a large poster, folded in half.

 

He looked up at her, remembering her as the ultimate swimmer. Aoi Asahina, he recalled.

 

“Hey, Owada! The class made Ishimaru a card!” She held it up to him, displaying the bright letters that read “Get Well Soon!” There were a bunch of signatures, some with little messages under them.

 

“Didja wanna sign it? I know he was your best friend, and this is probably really hard for you...”

 

Mondo felt a fist clench. He read some of the messages under the signatures.

 

“We miss you!”

 

“Hope you feel better!”

 

“It’s not the same without you!”

 

They were all so...fake. Mondo wanted no part in something so stupid.

 

“No, I’m fine.”

 

Aoi looked a little stunned at his answer, obviously not expecting his rejection of signing his best friend’s get well soon gift.

 

“Oh...well...if ya change your mind.” She went back to the group, taking another glance at Mondo, who kept his gaze down at his desk. She went back to talking with her group cheerfully, earning a scoff from Mondo.

 

Even if they did care, it was too late.

 

“You don’t have to conceal your emotions.”

 

He flinched, not expecting to hear a voice from behind him. He looked back to see the only person in his class that was bigger than him, the ultimate martial artist, Sakura Ogami.

 

“I’m not,” he responded coldly. He rarely saw Sakura exhibit emotions herself, so she was just being hypocritical. She always had a stern look on her face, and her voice was always monotone.

 

There was silence between the two again, and he was about to ask why she was back here, and not with the others, until something else caught his eye. The fist he was already making clenched even more at the sight.

 

He saw Byakuya Togami signing the card, an expressionless face. He set the pen aside and crossed his arms, listening in on the conversation of the group.

 

Mondo’s teeth hurt at how bad they were clenched. He stood up sharply before hearing Sakura’s voice again.

 

“It’s really bold of you to wear his armband. I’m sure it’s what he’d want.”

 

Mondo turned his head to look at her again, his rage dying down at her words. He glanced down at the armband again, and thought about what she said.

 

I’m sure it’s what he’d want.

 

Sakura was right. It is what he’d want. What Taka wouldn’t want is for him to march over to that table and give all of them a piece of his mind like he had originally planned.

 

He felt his fists unclench as he let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding, eyes still on that red material around his bicep.

 

He left the desk and slipped his hands into the pockets of his pants. The conversation between the students halted as he approached them. He reached a hand out and grabbed the pen. Aoi smiled.

 

“Changed your mind, Owada?”

 

“Yeah. Where can I sign?”

 

She opened the card once again.

 

“Anywhere! He’s your best friend after all!”

 

Damn right. Kiyotaka was his best friend, and he was proud of that, despite everything that happened between them.

 

He settled for a spot in the center, writing in his messy, but legible handwriting.

 

Get well soon, Taka. I miss ya bro.

 

He set the pen down and smiled down at card. He didn’t forgive these people, and he probably never would, but he knew Kiyotaka would be so proud of him.

 

“I can bring it to ‘em after school, if ya want.”

Chapter Text

Nearly everyday after school, the boys hopped onto Mondo’s motorcycle and made their way to their favorite diner. This Friday was no different in that case, except for the fact that Mondo wasn’t present at school today, and had to settle for picking Kiyotaka up in the parking lot.

 

Mondo had gotten a week’s suspension due to the bathroom incident. Fortunately, so had the two guys who harassed Taka. Of course it pissed Mondo off that he got punished simply for standing up for his friend, but he apparently had “gone passed self defense”.

 

Taka wasn’t mad at him. How could he be? He had done it for him. Yet, upon finding out that Mondo would be absent for an entire week, he got defensive. He even begged Headmaster Kirigiri to let him take his place. Of course his request was rejected. The school would look bad if their ultimate moral compass was stuck with a suspension on his record.

 

Everyday since Mondo had served his punishment, Taka avoided talking about school. He only told Mondo what he had missed and offered to help him out, but never went any further than that.

 

And now Mondo sat across from him, eyeing him as he fiddled with his empty straw paper, rolling it into a tiny compacted ball in his fingers.

 

Mondo sighed before speaking up.

 

“Ya know you coulda kicked their ass just like I did. If you’re feeling weak or somethin-“

 

“I can’t.”

 

Mondo sighed again.

 

“Right. The ‘no violence’ thing. But still! Ya needa stand up for yaself! I know ya wanna prove you ain’t like your grandfatha’ but you can’t just take the punches, Taka.”

 

“And what happens when I get one punch in? Then what happens? What if I prove them right? Then what?” He looked down. “One day they’ll listen to me. One day I’ll get through to them. I don’t need to prove myself with violence.”

 

Mondo put his chin on his fist, his elbow against the table with a slight pout on his face.

 

Taka’s gaze diverted back to the white roll in his fingers, and they sat in silence for a while, apart from the background noise of the diner. Mondo stayed looking at Taka. He hated when he tried to shut down this conversation. It happened a lot.

 

“I wonder how things would be if he wouldn’ a fucked you up.”

 

“Mondo...”

 

“Think about it! You’re letting that asshole take over your whole damn life! You ain’t gotta prove nothin’ Kiyotaka!”

 

“Mondo, please. Not here. Can we talk about this another time?” The diner’s door opened, the small clinging of the bell accompanying the action. Taka shot a look at the door, then back to his friend. “Please.”

 

Mondo sat up in his chair.

 

“Just like always.” He ran a hand through his hair, noticing how uncomfortable the tension was now. Mondo never apologized to anyone, but his best friend was an exception.

 

“I’m sorry, Taka. I just want better for you, ya know?”

 

“I understand. Just...I can’t. But you don’t need to fight and get in trouble for me. I can handle myself.”

 

Mondo wanted to bring up the fact that had he not gone into the bathroom at the right time, things would’ve only gotten worse. He decided to keep his mouth shut for now. The hall monitor had been on edge all week.

 

Their food was brought out to them by the usual pretty waitress with nappy brown hair and dark brown eyes.

 

“Here ya go, dudes! Enjoy!”

 

“Thank you, Owari,” they both told her before she retreated back to the kitchen. They came here a lot, and she was always so willing to serve them. Had the diner not been so busy, she would’ve likely chatted with them.

 

Taka had never ordered anything too big, but lately he had been ordering less. He simply ordered a salad today. Mondo took a bite of his own burger as he watched Taka poke at the salad a little. He was surprised he hadn’t made a comment towards how Mondo was eyeing him like a hawk.

 

Taka glanced over at some of the other students that had recently came into the building. Once again, he quickly looked back down to his salad, as though he was caught looking at something he wasn’t supposed to see.

 

Mondo looked over at what he was looking at to see a group of upperclassmen looking at them, whispering and giggling. Mondo felt his blood start to boil as he put his burger down.

 

“Please don’t make a scene.”

 

“Come on, they’re tryna get to ya.”

 

“If they think it’s working it’ll just keep happening.”

 

Mondo was so frustrated he wanted to pull his hair out, or throw his plate at the group of petty teens. He took a deep breath and counted to ten, something Taka always made him do when something went wrong.

 

“You’re not gonna tell them anything? It’s unmoral for them to pick on their classmate.”

 

“Immoral,” he corrected without answering the question. His red eyes were almost glaring at his salad now.

 

That’s when Mondo noticed the slight bend in his usually straight posture. He never sat like this in a public place. Sure it was a minor detail, but the biker noticed it.

 

“Did something else happen, Taka?”

 

“...”

 

Taka never had an ability to lie, and as usual he tried to go around the question.

 

“It’s not important.”

 

Mondo stared at him with a frown. God, he was so stubborn.

 

“So you wanna play that game, huh?” Mondo pushed his half eaten food away from him and crossed his arms.

 

“Mondo, what are you doing?” Mondo returned the stern look he was always given when he did something wrong. The tables were turned now.

 

“I’m not eating ‘til you tell me what’s goin’ on.” Sure, Mondo had already eaten a bit, but he knew Taka’s weakness. If guilt tripping Taka was the only way to get him to talk then so be it, even if his stomach was growling at the smell of the fries that accompanied his burger.

 

Taka’s full attention was on him now.

 

“Mondo, you need to eat.”

 

“I’ll eat it when ya tell me what’s up.”

 

Taka glared at Mondo, turning it into a staring contest. Only shortly after, Taka let out a small groan.

 

“Fine. But not here. Please.”

 

“Deal.” Mondo pulled his food back and dug in.

 

 

 

It hadn’t taken them too long to finish after that, mainly because Mondo was always quick to finish his food, and Taka just didn’t have much of an appetite today. They made their way to the parking lot in terrible silence, almost like they were walking towards their fate.

 

Mondo got to the bike first and leaned back against it, facing the shorter male with crossed arms.

 

“Alright, we made a deal.”

 

“I know,” the other mumbled before sitting on the seat improperly. He looked at the gravel and started kicking at some of the rocks with the tip of his black boot.

 

“The website...”

 

Mondo recognized what he was talking about instantly.

 

Despair Daily was a website created by who they could only assume was a Hope’s Peak student. The anonymous blogger always had something to say about the other students, whether it was embarrassing secrets, false rumors, or misleading photos. No one ever found out who the owner was, yet nearly everyone knew about the website. Being posted on that website could ultimately ruin someone’s life.

 

And now that Taka was bringing it up, Mondo knew exactly where he was going with it.

 

“They didn’t post about you, did they?”

 

“It’s...worse than that. They’ve been targeting me since the incident.”

 

Mondo felt his breathing stop for a moment. Usually the anonymous blogger only stuck with one post about a student, but now they were targeting Kiyotaka? He couldn’t help but feel guilty. Whoever it is must be good friends with the guy who Mondo beat up in the bathroom, and now Taka was getting backlash for it. Of course it wasn’t Mondo getting the hate. People were scared of him.

 

Yet, he wished it was him taking the bullets.

 

“Show me the posts.”

 

“H-Huh?”

 

“The posts, Kiyotaka. Show me what they’re sayin’.”

 

“It’s really not that s-“

 

“Taka.”

 

The raven haired male sighed and pulled his phone out of his pocket with a shaky hand. He clicked around the screen for a moment.

 

“Promise you won’t overreact?”

 

“Promise.”

 

He was handed the phone then looked down to the screen.

 

On the first day of the week there was a picture of Kiyotaka walking through the hall by himself, clutching his books close.

 

Kiyotaka’s boy toy isn’t here this week to protect him, just in case anyone wanted to know ;) I wouldn’t do anything stupid this week hall monitor.

 

Mondo scoffed. He was used to the comments about the other students thinking they were together. They flustered him, but he didn’t think much of it. However, this painted a target on Taka’s back. People knew he wouldn’t fight back, and he was an easy punching bag because of this.

 

Mondo scrolled up to see the post from Tuesday.

 

A picture of Taka sitting alone at lunch.

 

There was no caption, but there were plenty of comments, all anonymous as well.

 

God he’s pathetic

 

Owada can do so much better

 

He looks insane in this picture. Must be an Ishimaru thing :/

 

This is where being a hall monitor gets you

 

Mondo didn’t want to read the rest. He moved on.

 

There was a picture of Kiyotaka coming out of the boy’s locker room after P.E. with a vulgar caption. It was enough to make Mondo sick.

 

Kiyotaka Ishimaru is definitely getting railed in the boy’s locker room during P.E.

 

Mondo’s furrowed his eyebrows at this. It was just a normal picture. He didn’t understand. The comments were even worse.

 

I knew he was gay!

 

It’s obvious

 

What a f^ggot

 

Owada isn’t going to like this one

 

Anyone want to admit to this? Lmao

 

Mondo scrolled down to the last post.

 

He didn’t think he’d be able to hold his food down after reading the next caption.

 

It was a picture of Taka speaking with a male teacher. They were very close in the image, but the expressions were hard to read.

 

Ever wondered how he makes such good grades? Here’s your answer! Kiyotaka Ishimaru is getting fucked by his teacher!

 

Mondo stared at it. There was no way this was true. Taka was just smart! He studied all the time! He looked up from his phone to Taka, who looked disappointed, but he was ready to defend himself.

 

“I guess I should’ve warned you ahead of time. It is only a rumor. I am not engaging in any such activities with any staff.”

 

Mondo felt himself let go of a breath he’d been holding

 

“Dammit, I was fuckin’ worried! Say that aheada time!”

 

“You didn’t give me a chance.”

 

Mondo tried swiping to confirm that there were no more. Taka reached out to take his phone back.

 

“They haven’t posted yet today. I can’t imagine it’ll get any worse.” He tucked his phone into the pocket of his school uniform pants.

 

“Geez, that’s fucked up. I’m sorry that’s happenin’. Why didn’t you tell me?” Mondo finally sat on the seat next to his friend.

 

“Well...your name is getting involved more and...I didn’t want it to upset you.” This earned a chuckle from the biker.

 

“Taka, bro, you’re my best friend. I don’t give a shit if people have a problem with it.”

 

“How are you not embarrassed to be seen around me? You have such a high reputation. Now people insult you!” Taka was raising his voice in distress, and this caused Mondo to set a hand onto his shoulder.

 

“Like I said. You’re my best friend. That’s somethin’ I wouldn’t trade for the world.” He squeezed his shoulder slightly. “And I’m gonna make sure we find whoever is behind this website. Think about it! All of our classmates who have been a victim to it will finally get their revenge!”

 

Taka’s frown shifted into a smile at the mention of helping his other classmates.

 

“Okay...but on one condition! We don’t hurt anyone.” Mondo let out a dramatic groan.

 

“Fiiiine.” He shifted his position where he was sitting on the motorcycle correctly, hands gripping the handlebar. “Ya know I’d do anything for ya.”

 

“Good,” Taka responded. He sat properly. “Then don’t get suspended again.” He wrapped his arms around Mondo’s waist. “I missed you this week...”

 

Mondo glanced behind his shoulder to see Taka’s head pressed against his back.

 

“No helmet this time?”

 

“...Just drive slow, okay?”

 

Mondo grinned at this and turned on the bike. He drove out of the parking lot and started down the road before hearing Taka’s voice again.

 

“You’re not embarrassed of me are you?” Mondo chuckled to himself.

 

“Taka, I told ya. You’re my best friend. Do ya want me to scream it to the heavens or somethin’?” Before getting a response, Mondo lifted his head. “LISTEN UP, FUCKERS! KIYOTAKA ISHIMARU IS MY BEST BRO! PERIOD! YOU ASSHATS WISH YOU WERE ME!”

 

“Language!” Kiyotaka scolded, though he was laughing. Mondo put his focus back to the road, laughing as well.

 

They made it back to Mondo’s place safe as usual, but Mondo couldn’t help but notice that Kiyotaka held on a little tighter than usual for the ride.

 

~~~

 

Mondo moved his chair to the window on the other side of the hospital bed.

 

He had actually finished all of his homework very quickly, and he couldn’t help but feel prideful over that despite the fact that he only had homework in one subject. Still, Taka would’ve been proud that he was actually doing without being forced to as usual.

 

He gazed out the hospital’s window. Being that the room was located a few floors up, there was a nice view. He watched the cars pass by on the highway before hearing the door open behind him. He didn’t turn, assuming it was just the nurse again.

 

“Hello?”

 

That deep voice definitely wasn’t Mikan’s.

 

He turned to see the source of the voice and made eye contact with a tall man. The first thing he noticed was how intimidating he looked. He sported dark bags under his eyes, had a very thin and serious face, and he was wearing a police uniform.

 

What did I do now? How did they even find me?

 

“Uh, can I help you?” Mondo asked, sounding more snappy than he meant to.

 

The man closed the door beside him and walked further into the room.

 

“Is that Kiyotaka’s armband?”

 

Mondo glanced down at his bicep wrapped in the red fabric. He was about to answer before looking back up to see the man sitting on the bed next to Taka, his hand pushing some of the boy’s hair back. That’s when he noticed the resemblance of the two. He was able to recall his friend mentioning his father’s role as a cop from time to time.

 

He looked up at Mondo, who then noticed how dark his eyes were.

 

“You must be the Owada kid.” He held a thin hand out, his fingers long and slim. “I’m Kiyotaka’s father.”

 

Mondo stared at the hand for a moment before shaking it. He had not once seen him at the hospital, which only caused his assumption that he neglected Taka.

 

“So you’re Mr. Ishimaru. How do ya know who I am?” he asked after dropping his hand. The man looked back down to his son.

 

“Please. Call me Takaaki.” He pulled the blanket up to cover more of Taka’s chest. “He told me all about you of course. You were his ‘best bro’ as he called it. You look exactly how I would’ve imagined based on his description.”

 

Mondo grew a bit flustered at that, but his mind instantly went to other thoughts. What had Kiyotaka told his father?

 

“I’m sorry for anything he told you. I’m not tryna start any trouble here, I-“

 

“I know, and I knew you’d be here. His nurse told me you come in every day after school. I come here every day as well, just on my off hours.”

 

“You do?” Takaaki smiled.

 

“What kind of father would I be not to check up on my only son?” His smiled dropped slightly. “With the hours I work though, this is the first time I’ve come in after noon. I’m normally working the late shifts.” He turned to face Mondo.

 

“I guess I should properly thank you, for being the one to find him. If it hadn’t been for you, it would’ve been far too late when I found him.”

 

“Yeah, sorry about the bathroom door by the way.” Mondo rubbed the back of his head as he apologized.

 

“I’d much rather repair a broken door than lose my son.”

 

“Yeah...” The biker felt very awkward in this situation. Takaaki’s eyes closed for a moment and he sighed.

 

“It’s still so hard to believe that he would do this to himself. He was always so positive and optimistic about ev-“ Takaaki stopped as he looked at the bag connected to the IV. There was only a little bit of liquid left.

 

He pressed the button on the wall to call a receptionist. After a buzz came an answer.

 

“He’s running low on fluid. We need some as soon as possible.”

 

“Yes, Mr. Ishimaru.”

 

Then another buzz to signal the end of the conversation.

 

Takaaki didn’t continue his conversation until the nurse came in with another bag. He only spoke as she began replacing the contents.

 

“As I was saying...”

 

Judging by the interaction between the receptionist and Takaaki, Mondo found it safe to say that it had been done many times. Takaaki was very concerned about his son’s health.

 

Someone besides Mondo cared.

 

That was all it took for Takaaki to gain Mondo’s respect.  

Chapter Text

Mondo and Kiyotaka loved Friday nights.

 

With the weekend starting, there were no tests that urgently needed studying for. This was enough to let Taka ease up a bit, and they were able to substitute the studying they usually did with something more fun.

 

So the two sat in Mondo’s dim room with game controllers in their hand.

 

“Ya see that guy in the distance over there?”

 

“No.”

 

“Use the scope.”

 

“How?”

 

“Kee, we’ve gone over this!”

 

“Right. Right!...This button?”

 

“Yes! Now shoot him! Catch him off guard!”

 

“Okay, okay!...Sorry. How do I do that again?”

 

“Dammit, Taka.”

 

Mondo used his own player to shoot the opponent that were talking about as he, once again, explained how the controllers worked.

 

It didn’t really annoy Mondo. He knew Taka had never really played video games except when he came here and Mondo had to show him everything. He found it funny when Taka would spam buttons when he was in an urgent situation in the game. Taka would always shriek out panicked “what do I do!”’s and Mondo could never answer from how hard it made him laugh.

 

Mondo would be lying if he said he hadn’t found it cute.

 

“Look, go get the loot and I’ll stay back and guard ya, how’s that sound?”

 

“...yeah. Yeah, okay.”

 

Taka had gotten good at navigating in the game, so this was an easy task for him. Mondo couldn’t help but notice the uneasiness in his tone, however.

 

“Hey, if the violence actually bugs us we can play somethin’ else. I know how you feel about that kinda thing.” Taka hadn’t looked up from the screen as Mondo spoke.

 

“No, it’s not that. It’s just a video game after all. I like playing with you.” His tone sounded way different from a few moments ago.

 

“You’re still thinkin’ ‘bout the website?”

 

“No, I’m fine. It’s just been a long week.” And then came the usual change in topic. “Alright, I got the loot. Where to now?”

 

Mondo stayed staring at Taka, ignoring the question.

 

“Ya know you can talk to me, ya know. Stop shutting yourself away.”

 

“Mondo, you’re getting shot.”

 

“Shit!”

 

He quickly turned back to the game, and he was indeed, losing health. He groaned and put down the controller, seeing his player’s death on screen.

 

“Well, it’s up to you now.”

 

“Don’t put that pressure on me!”

 

“It’s not that hard. Just go t-What are you doing?”

 

“Hiding.”

 

“Coward.”

 

“I have a reason for it!”

 

Sure enough, he found a good spot where he could see when players ran across the screen, and it would be easy to dodge if they found him. He used this tactic to shoot down all of the players except for one remaining.

 

“Easy. Easy.”

 

“I know what I’m doin-“

 

“THERE HE IS! GET ‘EM!”

 

Taka made some kind of distressed noise as he got out of his spot to kill off the last opponent. He spammed a few buttons, but with some miracle he was able to shoot his gun.

 

They both let out an excited yell as they saw the victory screen.

 

“Hell yeah!” They highfived and rambled about how “so totally awesome and unstoppable” they were before deciding to play one more round.

 

As they started, Mondo shifted his gaze, enjoying the smile that was on Taka’s face. It was real smile.

 

Mondo was able to smile himself, seeing his friend this way. Then he started noticing other things. Taka’s big red eyes glowed from the reflection of the tv. He was sitting up excitedly as he played the game, eyes glued to the screen. His legs were crossed, almost childlike. No one ever got to see him like this but Mondo.

 

He was special to Taka and Taka was special to him. Something about that caused Mondo to feel butterflies.

 

Perhaps it was just a feeling of being so important to someone? He could never pinpoint the exact meaning behind it.

 

“Mondo, you’re running straight into a wall.”

 

“Huh? Oh.” How had Taka not even realized he was the distraction was beyond Mondo, yet Taka always seemed so oblivious.

 

This round hadn’t lasted too long before their duo was pronounced twelfth place, but neither were too upset. They were both feeling drowsy anyways. Kiyotaka hadn’t stated it, but Mondo could tell as he began squinting to see the screen, and he seemed less jumpy.

 

“That was fun.” Taka mumbled out as he set his controller to the side. Mondo nodded his agreement as he grabbed both controllers to put them away.

 

“You’re gettin’ better at it. I’m proud.”  He stood from his squatting position after turning off the console and stretched his arms above his head. “Ya spendin’ the night, right?”

 

“If that’s okay. I haven’t brought a change of clothes, however.”

 

“‘S fine. You can use some of mine.”

 

Taka stayed in his crisscrossed position on the bed as Mondo rummaged through his drawers. Everything he owned would be oversized on Taka, but he knew he didn’t like sleeping without clothes on.

 

“Mondo?” he heard from behind him.

 

“Yeah, bro?”

 

“Are you sure that it is okay that I spend the night? And that I use your clothes?” Mondo turned from the clothes to look at the other.

 

“Kee, you always spend the night on Fridays. And I always lend ya my clothes.”

 

“I know, but I don’t want to be a burden.”

 

“You’re not. I love when you sleep over, dude. Even if you’re a blanket hog.”

 

“Oh my gosh, I am?” He seemed genuinely horrified at this realization. Mondo only meant it as a tease, despite how true it was, but it had the negative effect he wanted.

 

“I’m messin’ with ya.” He set the clothes beside Kiyotaka, who took them into his arms. “The shit that’s being said on the website, get it out your head. I’d be a mess without ya and I love being your friend more than anything. Okay?”

 

Taka stared up at him as he spoke. His small pout turned into a small smile.

 

“Okay,” he confirmed before getting up. “Thank you. I’m going change.”

 

Mondo had been getting out some shorts to sleep in when he heard the door open and close, signaling Taka’s departure.

 

Something about that always interested Mondo. More, concerned him, actually. Mondo never slept with a shirt on, even when Taka slept over. He didn’t feel like anything was wrong with that either.

 

Mondo couldn’t remember the last time he had seen his friend without a shirt on. Even when they went swimming, Taka always wore a loose t-shirt. Maybe that much was understandable, but the fact that he would never even change his shirt around Mondo is what really got to him.

 

He knew he shouldn’t be too worried about it. After all, it was Kiyotaka’s privacy, and he should respect that.

 

He should. He should let it go.

 

But of course that wasn’t too easy. He glanced at the bed where the other was previously sitting and noticed he left the loaned pair of pants on the bed by mistake. He couldn’t change without the clothes, obviously.

 

He ignored the obvious fact that Taka could easily come back to retrieve the missing pair of joggers himself, and made his way to the bathroom, clutching them in his hand. He walked slow, hoping his feet wouldn’t make too much noise against the floor.

 

This was an invasion of privacy. He should go back to his room, or maybe he could just leave them at the door.

 

Yeah, that would work.

 

Of course it wouldn’t. Taka left the door open a creak. He probably hadn’t planned on taking too long, and most certainly probably hadn’t planned for Mondo to be in his business, so he hadn’t bothered shutting the door all the way.

 

He couldn’t stop himself now. He had to know. The light shining through the crack was almost pleading him to find out what was being hidden from him.

 

And that’s how Mondo found himself peering through the crack of the door. Taka was simply staring at the mirror in front of him, only missing his shirt. This was the most skin he’d ever seen on the boy.

 

Mondo could understand why now.

 

Taka’s eyes seemed to be full of hatred, staring back at his own body that was littered with large, dark bruises and scrapes.

 

And Mondo instantly knew why he had such a bad week at school.

 

There were old marks, but the biggest, boldest ones were fresh.

 

~~~

 

Mondo silently thanked the change in schedule Takaaki’s job had provided for him.

 

Yes, the situation was still horrible. His friend was still unresponsive. However, going through it wasn’t as bad when you weren’t alone.

 

Takaaki always arrived shortly after Mondo, and his greeting was always the same.

 

“How’s our boy doing today?” he would ask. The answer would always be the same, that nothing had changed.

 

Giving the answer hurt both of them, but something about the way Takaaki spoke made Mondo realize he had hope. He would always start off by saying “When he wakes up” rather than “If he wakes up”, and that always got Mondo’s hopes up that the “when” would be soon.

 

Currently the two were sitting in their usual spots, Mondo on the chair and Takaaki sitting on the bed next to his son, stroking his hair back every once in a while.

 

Takaaki had a lot of stories about his son. Despite his work shifts taking away the desired father-son time, he made sure to keep his son close at all times when he was younger. He had to. Their family was hated during this time too.

 

Mondo loved hearing the stories about Taka as a kid. Takaaki seemed to remember so much.

 

“The kid grew up super fast. He made the whole fathering thing easy. I remember him being around six years old and he ran to the living room, and he was excited about something. I think I might’ve been napping or something first, but I remember him tugging on my shirt. He started trying to get me to listen and saying ‘Daddy! Daddy! Look!’” I panicked at first, because I thought maybe something happened to him while I was asleep. But he lifted up his sneaker and pointed at the laces. He learned how to tie his shoes by himself and he was so excited because now he could help the other kids tie their shoes, and he could teach them.”

 

Mondo chuckled and ran a hand through his hair.

 

“Even as a kid, he was selfless, huh...”

 

“Sure was. Always. Ya know, I actually wasn’t always so fond in him.”

 

Mondo perked up, showing his interest in the topic. He didn’t like his own son? He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised. His father hadn’t liked him either. Neither had his mother. They didn’t matter though. He had Daiya. Daiya raised him, and he did a pretty damn good job at it.

 

Takaaki continued, a guilty look painted on his face.

 

“If I’m being honest, I could even say at some point I hated him. My wife had him, and that’s when I loved him. He was the perfect combination between us, and she seemed so happy with him. Everything was okay until the scandal...She couldn’t take the pressure of being an Ishimaru. She said she lost all of her friends, and her family threatened to disown her if she continued living under the name. So one night she left. I walked into our room and she was packing. She looked me in the eye and told me she was going to stay at her sister’s, but we both knew what was really happening.” He rubbed his forehead. “She left the ring on my nightstand and just left. She didn’t even go see Kiyotaka in his room, who was only two at the time. He would’ve made her stay. She loved him.”

 

Takaaki looked down at his son, the guilt building up even more.

 

“She left me with him, and he was a constant reminder of her. He was a reminder of when we were happy. And all I could think about was the fact that he didn’t have a mommy anymore, and it was just me and him. I was scared. I never wanted to do parenthood alone. Every time I tried to take care of him, I always felt like I was doing it wrong. I didn’t know how I was supposed to go through life raising a kid by myself, but everyone knew about the scandal. No one would talk to me. I truly thought I was going to be alone forever with this burden.”

 

He smiled.

 

“Until one night. I can’t remember how old he was, but this night changed it all.” Takaaki closed his eyes. “I was going to end my life. I was kneeling in front of my dresser with the gun in my hand. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was loading it when I heard him come in and say ‘daddy?’ He stared and me and I thought he knew what was happening. He didn’t though. He held up his toothbrush, and he smiled. He told me he brushed his teeth all by himself.”

 

Takaaki opened his eyes again to look down at his son with an apologetic look.

 

“He looked so proud of himself. He was so happy. Then it got me thinking then and there...What if he walked in a few minutes later and saw me dead? I don’t know what got into me after that, but I got up and hugged him tight. For the first time since his mother left, I cried. He was so worried and kept asking me what was wrong, but I just told him I was proud of him and that I loved him. That much was true.”

 

He stopped for a moment as the look on his face lifted. He was smiling now.

 

“I promised myself then and there I had to be the best dad out there. Because he saved me. He was so precious. I knew I had to live. For him.”

 

Mondo could only stare for a moment. Imagining Taka going through life as an Ishimaru sounded devastating. He wondered if Taka ever found out that his father was trying to off himself, and he was the only thing that stopped it.

 

“Thing is, now it looks like the tables are turned. Now he’s the one who’s trying to end it, and I wasn’t there to save him.”

 

“You were a great father, Takaaki. Taka was a great guy. He was so caring. He didn’t learn any of that on his own ya know.”

 

Takaaki smiled at him. They weren’t having this conversation adult to teen, or police to delinquent. They were having a conversation as two people in the same boat.

 

“I guess you’re right, kid. Though, I do have to ask-“

 

He stopped as he heard a slight change in the monitor. Mondo looked up at it to see the lines going by a little bit faster than normal. The pace of the beeping increased slightly.

 

Takaaki reached out and pressed the help button. He tried to seem calm, but after only three seconds of no answer, he pressed it again.

 

“We need a nurse.”

 

The beeping increased more.

 

“We need a nurse!” Takaaki stood from his spot and kept pressing the button as he held his son’s hand. “Please!”

 

Mondo shot out of the chair and rushed out of the room.

 

“HEY! WE NEED A DOCTOR IN HERE NOW!” He startled nearly everyone on that floor, but he didn’t care. Instantly, a group of nurses and doctors rushed to the room. Mondo went back into the room to see Takaaki shaking as the monitor increased.

 

“DO SOMETHING!” he yelled at the doctors. His eyes were full of tears.

 

The group of doctors and nurses began spitting off certain codes and instructions, not even bothering to hide their panic as they prepped themselves.

 

A male doctor with chestnut hair approached them.

 

“I’m afraid I’ll need you both to step out of the room.”

 

Mondo was about to protest before Takaaki did it for him.

 

“No! That’s MY SON! What’s going on with him!”

 

Mondo couldn’t get any words out. The scene around him made his heart pound against his chest.

 

“Sir, please. You need to leave.”

 

Takaaki looked like he could’ve socked the doctor in the face then and there, but he gripped at his hair as he left the room, Mondo following behind him.

 

The door was closed and all Mondo could do is stand there. He saw Takaaki pacing, his fingers entangled in his hair as he let out sobs and apologies.

 

Mondo felt dizzy. He fell against the wall, staring at nothing before hiding his face into his knees.

 

It all came crashing down at once. He could hear the frantic voices in the room.

 

He was going to lose his best friend.

 

As he heard Takaaki’s choked out sobs, he felt his chest hurt even more. He looked up to see the nearest garbage can before hastily getting up to vomit in it.   

 

 

He doesn’t know how much time passed, or how he found himself leaning against the wall. Takaaki was sitting across from him, his face in his arms. He went quiet after a while.

 

Mondo stared at how hopeless the man looked. The one person that was helping him cling onto hole was a broken mess.

 

Mondo felt himself tear up.

 

“No,” he mumbled. “No, no, no, no, you’re a man. You’re not weak...” His words were no help though.

 

Just as he was about to let the edging tear go, he heard the door open.

 

“He’s stabilized.”

 

Mondo and Takaaki both shot up before rushing back inside, where the sound of the monitor went back to normal.

 

Taka wasn’t back just yet, but he wasn’t completely gone either.

 

To Mondo, that thought was enough for now.

Chapter Text

Never in his life did Mondo think he would convince the Ultimate Moral Compass to attend a party.

 

It took a lot of begging and maybe even some guilt tripping, but he was convinced that Taka needed a night like this.

 

Mondo substituted his bike for Daiya’s truck for tonight. He took into consideration that Kiyotaka would be nervous the whole way there, so replacing the bike for tonight for a more soothing ride was the least he could do.

 

He was even able to persuade the prefect into wearing something that made him seem less uptight. Mondo didn’t exactly expect him to go through with it, so he was shocked to see his friend walk out of his home in nothing but a plain white t-shirt and a pair of skinny jeans. Of course he kept his black lace up boots. They were like a part of him.

 

Leaning against the truck, Mondo gave a wolf whistle as Taka made his way to him, timidly rubbing his arm. He stopped as he approached and didn’t bother hiding his concern.

 

“Do I look okay?”

 

Mondo looked him up and down. He almost forgot to answer.

 

“Perfect.” He found his face heating up for some reason, and he was quick to leave to the driver side. “Hop in.”

 

The ride was filled with Taka’s questions of what to expect, and Mondo did his best to ease him, reminding him that he himself would be staying sober.

 

Now here they were, walking into the home of Leon Kuwata. His parents were out for the week, so of course he’d have to do something. Mondo hoped that considering Taka personally knew Leon, maybe, JUST maybe, he could ease up a bit and attend.

 

There was almost no place to park outside, so the massive amount of people that occupied the building was no surprise. The booming of the music wasn’t as foreign to Mondo’s ears as it was to the other’s, and he made his discomfort visible, standing close behind Mondo. The biker moved his hand to hold onto Kiyotaka’s wrist, giving him a reassuring smile.

 

“I want ya to give it a chance, but lemme know if it’s too much.” They made their way further in, and there were a few points and looks from some of the other students. It wasn’t the usual smirks or disgusted looks they got often, though. It was more looks of shock.

 

The home owner himself stared as they walked in, giving a pleased look as he confirmed who it was before excusing himself from the group of people he was talking to.

 

“Well, I’ll be damned. Is that Kiyotaka Ishimaru at a party?” He did his usual handshake with both of them, and felt Taka’s shaking in his own. “You look great, man! How’d Mondo convince you to get out the house like this?”

 

To the prefect’s annoyance, Mondo ruffled his hair and responded for him.

 

“Figured it could do ‘em some good. He’s not as boring as everyone makes him seem.” Leon gave him a sly look.

 

“Ya don’t say? Then what are we drinkin’ tonight boys? We got plenty! And I’ll even make sure the guest room bed is all yours so you don’t gotta worry ‘bout drivin’ home!” he told them with a wink. Mondo shrugged a shoulder with a conflicted side grin.

 

“I won’t be drinkin’ tonight. Gotta get Kiyotaka home safe. We’re in Daiya’s truck.” Leon scoffed.

 

“Come on, man! I already told you, the bed’s all yours. Kiyotaka can take care of himself, right?”

 

“Leon, it’s his first party and h-“

 

“Mondo, I’ll be fine.” Mondo shot a questioning look down at his friend. “He’s right, I should be able to take care of myself. You deserve to have your fun, too.” Mondo hoped he wasn’t saying this out of pity, but maybe getting a little tipsy wouldn’t be so bad. Hell, maybe the both of them could end up that way.

 

“Ya sure, Taka?” he asked for confirmation. He received a nod and a smile. “Okay, I’ll have a few.”

 

“That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Maybe start Taka off with some Smirnoff first, and go from there. The Screwdrivers are in the green cooler in the corner of the kitchen.” He winked at them. “I’ll catch you guys later!”

 

Leon went back to his group, wrapping an arm around Sayaka’s waist. Mondo looked back down to his friend before nodding his head towards the kitchen. He led the way, maneuvering passed the other groups of people.

 

The kitchen was more lit compared to the rest of the place, presumably so it would be easier to grab the correct drinks without a mess. Mondo grabbed his own desired bottle from the ice chest Leon previously described, then searched around for something lighter. He settled on a berry flavored Smirnoff and handed it to Taka.

 

“Try this.”

 

“Mondo, I think being here is enough. This stuff can be harmful. Besides, you’re drinking. How am I supposed to make sure you’re okay?”

 

“It’s not my first rodeo. Besides, this’ll help calm your nerves. I want to get tipsy with my best friend. Come on, Kee.” He gave an urging grin as the other looked down at the bottle in thought. “Just this once.”

 

Finally, he took the bottle with doubt. He used the edge of his shirt to unscrew the top, which Mondo took from him.

 

“Don’t throw it away. We should keep it. It’s your first drink.” He shoved it into the pockets of his jeans, receiving a small laugh from the other as he picked the bottle up to his lips. He paused and kept his hand still for a while before tearing it away.

 

“I can’t.”

 

Mondo couldn’t help but laugh at that.

 

“Come on, like this.” He took a sip from his own bottle with ease, keeping eye contact the whole time. He brought it down then nodded towards Taka’s drink. The shorter sighed before lifting it up to his lips once again.

 

“There ya go.”

 

He tipped it forward and took a sip before making a disgusted face and pulling it away.

 

“It tastes like poison!”

 

“Ya let it linger too long. Go faster with it. It’ll get easier as ya go.”

 

“Mondo, I’m the moral compass for crying out loud! What if the principal found out!”

 

“See that’s the problem! Embrace the fact that you’re here, not at school. Ya ain’t gotta worry about all that. Nobody’s gonna judge ya right now. They’re all fucked up.”

 

“They’re...not?”

 

“Nope.”

 

Mondo saw Taka smile a little more as his gaze shifted to the bottle. After some consideration of the circumstances, he brought it back up and took another sip, swallowing it faster this time. He still made a face, but it was followed with a weak grin.

 

“Look at ya go.” A few more stumbling students made their way into the kitchen. Mondo glanced towards them and stood from his leaning position on the counter. “Let’s go back out.”

 

They made their way back out, and Mondo couldn’t help but notice Taka’s nose crinkle at the strong smell in the area.

 

“Is that...weed?”

 

“Yeah, that’s common at high school parties. We ain’t gonna do any of that tonight though, I promise.” He was nearly cut off by Leon’s familiar voice.

 

“Hey! Mondo! Kiyotaka! Come play a round of beer pong!” There was a group of people surrounding the table, most looking dazed, drinks in hand.

 

“Comin’!” He looked down at Taka as he grabbed his wrist gently again. “Don’t worry. I’ll teach ya.”

 

Kiyotaka followed his friend without second thought.

 

 

 

A few rounds later and Mondo and Taka proved to be unbeatable. People Mondo hadn’t even recognized tried to go against them, but with Mondo’s experience and Kiyotaka’s precision, no one could beat them. Of course there were some close rounds, and by their fifth game, Mondo had gone passed the mark of tipsy.

 

He was still trying to keep watch over the other, but his mind would shift to other things. These ‘things’ included how nice Taka’s ass looked in those jeans as he bent over to collect the ball when it bounced off the table. He was captivated by the way he was smiling, and how his hair gradually somehow got messier, perhaps between their in-game celebrations when one of them scored. Mondo felt his own hair slipping out of its pompadour until it was just a mess of hair that he ultimately decided to pull back into a half up bun.

 

Soon enough, they decided to call it quits for a while to allow other teams a chance.

 

Mondo felt Leon’s hand on his shoulder as he took a drink from another bottle. He lost count already. He failed to keep track of how many Taka had too. Either way, there was no denying it. They were both drunk. Leon’s own slurred speech came out with a laugh.

 

“Dude, Kiyotaka is fucked up!”

 

He looked up to see that the boy mentioned was laughing with Sayaka and the Asahina girl.

 

“You gettin’ lucky tonight?” Leon received a punch in the arm as soon as he asked the question.

 

“It ain’t like that, asshole.”

 

“Everyone saw you staring at his ass! He was all over you, touchin’ your chest ‘n shit!” He received another shove.

 

“He’s havin’ a good time, right?” Mondo wanted to make sure he was reading the signs right.

 

“Think so, dude.” He grabbed his shoulder and pulled Mondo down slightly to whisper to him. “I got the hot tub warmed up on the back patio, for when you want some privacy.” He walked away after that.

 

Mondo watched as a few other students went up to talk to Kiyotaka, and he smiled. Tonight wouldn’t matter later on. They could both finally let loose.

 

Mondo left to grab them both another bottle.

 

 

 

He came back to see Taka in the middle of a group of people, and they were all cutting up. He grinned upon seeing how flushed his friend’s face was from the alcohol in his system.

 

He walked up to him receiving his attention, his thoughts clouded, and handed him the drink, putting his empty hand on Taka’s waist.

 

“Thanks, bro!” Taka took it before wrapping his arms around Mondo’s neck onto a hug. He stayed there, so Mondo found himself wrapping his larger arms around Taka’s waist. Aoi whistled at the two.

 

“Mondo’s getting some ass tonight!”

 

Taka looked back at her with a laugh, which was completely out of character for him. Mondo just stayed staring at the wasted boy in his arms, not being able to suppress the foolish smile on his face.

 

At some point, Taka turned in Mondo’s arms, his hands holding onto Mondo’s that were now around his torso. The taller’s chin rested on his head as they spoke to the others.

 

Mondo felt himself drifting from the conversation. All he could think about was the ass that was pressed against his crotch. He shifted one hand down to Taka’s waist and leaned down to his ear.

 

“Wanna go outside?”

 

 

 

It wasn’t too long after that he found himself in the hot tub with the other boy. Mondo’s shirt was removed, but Taka’s stayed on, occasionally floating up against the water. Their pants were removed, neither seeming to care about the way they saw each other at this point.

 

At some point, the shorter took it upon himself to move onto Mondo’s lap. He ran his fingers through Mondo’s wet hair as the biker gazed back up into his eyes with a blissful smile.

 

“You look hot with your hair down. You should wear it like this more often.”

 

“Maybe I will.” He ran his hands up Kiyotaka’s shirt to feel his wet skin against his fingers. “You’re so pretty.”

 

Taka let out a small giggle as Mondo put a hand on his cheek. He leaned into it and gazed back down into the lavender orbs. They both just sat there for a moment, taking each other in. Then almost as if they were silently communicating, they both leaned in at the same time.

 

And that’s how Mondo Owada found himself making out with his half naked best friend in the hot tub at a high school party.

 

He moved his lips against Taka’s soft ones before pushing his tongue in. He lost control over himself as he heard a small moan from the other. Mondo trailed his hand down to slide onto the others lower back, slipping his fingertips into the other’s boxer briefs. Taka held onto Mondo’s face as he started using a bit of tongue of his as well, finding that it felt nice against Mondo’s own.

 

Mondo heard the back door open, followed by some giggles, then heard it shut. He pulled away and glanced towards the direction it came from with an annoyed grunt. Taka moved his arms to wrap around Mondo’s neck, hiding his face against the side of his neck.

 

Mondo moved his hand out its spot in the briefs and hugged the small waist on his lap.

 

“Wanna go to the truck?”

 

He felt a nod against his neck before tapping on Taka’s thigh, signaling for him to get up.

 

It took them a moment, but they got out, doing their best to help each other as much as they possibly could. Taka looked over at a counter and saw a stack of towels, grabbing two. He passed one to Mondo who was picking up the pile of clothes. They started towards the truck, wrapping the towels around their torsos as they went.

 

As soon as his hands were free, Taka grabbed Mondo’s, leading the way. Mondo glanced down and noticed that his hips swayed as he walked.

 

It only dawned on him for a moment what was going on. What would tomorrow be like?

 

His thoughts were cut short by the overwhelming feeling he got when they got to the truck. Mondo reached into the pocket of the jeans he held, pulling out his key to unlock it. As soon as he did he opened the door for the shorter, giving his ass a smack as he crawled in. As soon as Mondo made it in, they discarded the towels to the ground.

 

Had they been in the right state of mind, they would’ve put the towels on the windows to cover any peering eyes, had they been doing any of this at all.

 

Mondo pulled Kiyotaka on his lap, the same position they had been in only moments ago. Their lips connected again. Mondo reached down to the other boy’s hips once again before gripping his waistband.

 

Taka pulled away to help Mondo take off his briefs, pulling them down from his rear and freeing everything, leaving him in nothing but his shirt. Soon enough, Mondo was freed too.

 

Mondo wished he could remember it all. He wished he could’ve remembered the way he felt against Taka. He wished he could remember Taka’s moans and the faces of bliss.

 

But he couldn’t.

 

The only thing he could remember is the flash of a camera through the window.

 

~~~

 

Mondo walked the school hall with a mission.

 

He spotted his target at their locker, putting their stuff away. He put a hand on the locker next theirs and looked down at them.

 

“Fujisaki...right?”

 

The young boy jumped as Mondo’s hand made contact with the locker.

 

“How are you, Owada?” He put on his book sack and looked up at the towering male.

 

“You’re good with technical shit, right?”

 

“I am the Ultimate Programer.” He smiled a little, his confidence building up a little. “Did you need help with something?”

 

Mondo smiled down at him.

 

 

 

Later that day, they were in the computer lab on Chihiro’s small computer he carried around. Leon and Sayaka decided to join them. The three taller student crowded around the small programmer.

 

“If I can connect the website with an address, and then link the address to a person, we should be able to figure it out.”

 

Mondo was going to find out who was behind that website, and who posted the pictures and videos. All he had to do was ask for help, which proved to be a little difficult for his ego, but he wouldn’t regret it when he got his revenge.

 

Leon and Sayaka were here for support. They decided they too, would avenge their friend.

 

As one of the victims of the website, Chihiro always had this idea, but never went through with it. He was scared to get in trouble, but he knew he had to do it now.

 

For Taka.

 

“I can’t wait to find out what bitch told the whole school I did steroids.” Sayaka looked up at her boyfriend with a cocked eyebrow.

 

“Which was only a rumor, correct?”

 

“Yes!”

 

Mondo tightened his grip on the chair.

 

“They lied about a lot...”

 

Sayaka looked over to Mondo with a slight tilt of the head.

 

“The stuff about Taka with the teacher...” she asked quietly.

 

“It was a lie,” Mondo finished. She smiled.

 

“I figured that much.” She looked back to the computer. “The pictures from the party were edited I’m sure.”

 

Mondo felt his face heat up. He didn’t respond.

 

Luckily, Chihiro’s triumphant voice disrupted the need to answer.

 

“Aha! Found it!”

 

They all immediately leaned closer to the screen.

 

“Junko Enoshima,” Chihiro read out.

 

“The fashionista chick?”

 

Chihiro typed her name into the school’s website and a picture of a strawberry blonde sporting two long pigtails popped up.

 

“That’s her,” Sayaka confirmed.

 

“She’s in our class,” Mondo muttered. He stared at screen with hatred in his eyes. He doesn’t ever remember any encounters with her, only remembering opening the door for her time to time. He pulled away from the chair with a sigh.

 

Leon crossed his arms and leaned against the computer table.

 

“So what are we gonna do now?”

 

Mondo stared at her picture for a moment, all eyes on him. He suddenly grinned and turned back to them.

 

 

 

The next morning they were piled in Leon’s car, all wearing black hoodies to conceal their identities.

 

“There she is,” Leon muttered, clutching the bat he was holding. A pink Mercedes pulled up into the parking lot, a small distance from their spot.

 

A moment after she parked, Junko got out of the car along with her twin sister. They gathered their stuff before walking towards the school entrance, not paying any mind the the running vehicle in the distance.

 

None of the four spoke. Chihiro and Sayaka were nervous, no doubt about it, and Leon was more excited, but Mondo was angry.

 

Absolutely pissed.

 

Soon after, he heard a ding from his phone. He looked down at the message from Makoto Naegi.

 

‘The first bell just rang. You should be good to go.’

 

That’s right. He got the “luck kid” on board too.

 

Mondo looked at the others before pulling on his hood. The others all pulled theirs over, repeating his actions.

 

Mondo had a hammer, Leon and Sayaka had bats, and Chihiro held a container of spray paint. Mondo clutched the hammer harder as he made his way to the car.

 

Kiyotaka’s boy toy isn’t here this week to protect him, just in case anyone wanted to know ;) I wouldn’t do anything stupid this week hall monitor.

 

His grip tightened.

 

Kiyotaka Ishimaru is definitely getting railed in the boy’s locker room during P.E.

 

He felt his breathing increase.

 

Ever wondered how he makes such good grades? Here’s your answer! Kiyotaka Ishimaru is getting fucked by his teacher!

 

They stopped at the car, all just staring at the expensive vehicle in silence.

 

Mondo remembered Taka’s words.

 

“Okay...but on one condition! We don’t hurt anyone.”

 

Mondo grinned as he lifted the hammer and brought it down against the windshield. The loud shattering of glass rang out as it scattered through the area.

 

That felt good.

 

He lifted it again and struck the roof.

 

Leon watched him with a look of shock, but also admiration. He looked at the car before smashing in the mirror. Sayaka put a hand over her mouth in shock.

 

“Leon!” He stopped and looked at her with a cocked eyebrow. She removed her hand. “That was so hot.”

 

She was just happy they were getting their revenge, for her boyfriend and her friends.

 

She joined in, and soon Chihiro joined in after being tempted by how much fun the others seemed to be having.

 

Soon, the car was completely destroyed. They stood back and admired the work they did.

 

It was enough to lift a smile on his face, remembering what they did this for. He knew Taka would’ve been pissed, but at the same time, he cared about the other students deeply, despite how they treated him.

 

These students were some of Enoshima’s victims.

 

“Hey, Chihiro. You got any spray paint left in that can?”

 

Chihiro smiled and handed him the can, still shaking from adrenaline. Mondo took it and walked up to the side of the car. He lifted the can and got to work.

 

The other’s watched as he sprayed the car in bright red paint. When he was done he stood back to look at the message on the car.

 

FOR THE STUDENTS

 

He couldn’t wait for Taka to wake up so he could tell him.

 

Mondo heard another ping from his phone, and checked to see another message from Naegi.

 

‘I think the principal is going scan the outside of the building’

 

Mondo looked back at the other three.

 

“You guys good with skippin’?”

 

 

 

As they left the parking lot, Mondo smiled at the window. He couldn’t feel guilty. Not at all.

 

He turned to the others who were laughing and ranting about the situation they just got in. The car was filled with excitement, even from Chihiro.

 

“Hey, guys?”

 

They all stopped to look at Mondo.

 

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Mondo groaned slightly as he felt his eyes burn against the bright sunlight coming through the window.

 

He thought he had been hit by a truck or something, and maybe he was in the hospital. Or the afterlife. He brought a hand to his pounding head, shielding the light as he tried to open his eyes. They refused to open and for a moment he gave in, turning to his side to get more sleep.  He couldn’t feel the pain if he was asleep right?

 

With some miracle, however, he was able to pry his eyes open, now facing away from the window. The first thing he saw when his vision cleared was his phone on the nightstand beside him. He stretched his arm out to grab it, first noticing that it would run out of battery life in moments, and then that it read 11:43.

 

Damn, he slept in.

 

With what little strength he had right now, he forced his body up as he rubbed his eyes with a fist. He looked at his surroundings and tried to recall what got him in such a situation. He didn’t recognize the room at all. He looked down and noticed he was fully clothed for some reason, still in his jeans and his shirt from the previous night.

 

Oh yeah. The previous night.

 

It was clear where he was now as he noticed a framed picture on the wall of Leon posing with some other official looking dudes.

 

So he had actually ended up in the bedroom that night. Wait, someone else should be here. He looked to the side to see an empty spot, but there was a slight warmth that marked a presence from the night before.

 

“Oh shit...” Mondo muttered as he put a hand to his head, remembering a little more of the night before.

 

That’s right. He got shit face drunk and slept with Kiyotaka Ishimaru.

 

He didn’t remember it much. The only part he could remember was the small weight of Taka on his lap.

 

So where was he now?

 

He grunted as he stood from the bed, popping his back with a stretch, and grabbing his nearly dead phone before leaving the bedroom. He almost fell down the stairs, but made it to the living room where Leon was on the couch, an arm over his face. Sayaka sat on the side of him rubbing his head. She turned her head, and Mondo could see just how rough she looked.

 

“Good afternoon,” she greeted tiredly. “You’re the last one here, but we figured you needed some rest after last night.”

 

Leon moved his arm and looked up as Mondo leaned against the back of the couch.

 

“Dude, why’d you start trying to fight people last night?” This woke Mondo up a little more, hearing his friend’s concerned tone.

 

“I what?”

 

“You don’t remember? Oh, right. You were shit faced.” He put the arm back over his face. “You kept sayin’ some shit about a picture? And you kept threatening to beat anyone who had their phone out.”

 

Sayaka butted in.

 

“You probably would’ve got a punch in if the Kuzuryuu kid and the mechanic dude hadn’t brought you upstairs.”

 

“Oh shit,” Mondo mumbled once again. “What happened to Taka?”

 

“He just held on to your arm trying to get you to stop yelling. I think he was crying or somethin’. He went upstairs with you. Fuyuhiko told me you both passed out as soon as you hit the mattress.” Leon rubbed his eyes, pausing for a moment. “Taka woke up early and he was freaking out. He asked Hagakure to bring him home. Said he didn’t want to talk about it.”

 

“So he just left me here?”

 

“Pretty much,” Leon stated bluntly. Sayaka pursed her lips.

 

“He was panicking and he looked pretty bad, but he just said he had to get home.”

 

“Ahh, shit, his dad probably found out or somethin’,” Mondo groaned. “His dad’s a cop too, dammit...”

 

Leon suddenly groaned and shifted his body.

 

“It huuuurts.” Leon’s pitiful whines caused an eye roll from his girlfriend.

 

“I’m already given you some more painkillers. You can’t have anymore for a few hours,” she told him.

 

Mondo would be lying if he said he hadn’t felt envious of their relationship. They were always so caring for each other. Despite what happened freshmen year, he was able to forgive both of them, seeing how they were made for each other. Besides, had that not happened, he would’ve probably never ran into a specific hall monitor that homecoming night.

 

His thoughts were cut short by his splitting headache, which he hissed at.

 

“There’s some painkillers on the kitchen counter if you need.” Sayaka told him. “Your shoes should be by the backdoor.”

 

“Thanks. I got some medicine in the truck I think.” He stood from his leaning position and made his way to the door. “Thanks for the party, Leon. And for the bedroom.”

 

“Yeah, dude. Text me when you make it home. Let me know how Taka’s doin’ too.”

 

“‘Course. Later.” He slid his feet into his shoes before leaving the house, the sunlight burning his eyes once more.

 

He lifted his phone to text his friend, but as soon as he unlocked it, it ran out of life. He slipped it back into his pocket before making his way to the truck near the road.

 

He just hoped his friend was just hungover, and that his behavior wasn’t anything to worry about.

 

 

Somewhere in the the city though, was a young raven haired teen in his bedroom, tears slipping down his face as he stared at the latest post of Despair Daily.

 

~~~

 

The four had been caught for the damage they had done to the car of Junko Enoshima. Upon being called to the office all at once, and being shown the footage, they knew they had to confess.

 

Mondo knew he couldn’t let them take the fall. It was his idea after all, and perhaps he went a little too far. He admitted this to Principal Kirigiri, who admired his honesty, but was still unimpressed.

 

So Mondo told him everything. He told him about their motive, explaining what Junko had done to the students. He almost broke as he explained that his best friend had tried to take his own life because of the way she got into his head with that damned website.

 

Kirigiri was always a reasonable man who cared deeply for his students. He decided not to expel Mondo, but explained that Junko’s parents were suing him. Mondo knew that was coming, so the shock didn’t come until he told him the price he’d have to pay.

 

There was no way out of it though. Now a week had passed since the first call to the office, and Mondo was hurting for some cash.

 

Today was another day with a substitute, and the group of four chatted in the back of the class.

 

“Who the hell puts surveillance cameras in a school parking lot?”

 

“Everyone, Leon,” the short programmer stated bluntly. “So this sort of thing doesn’t happen. I was so overwhelmed with my feelings that I failed to think of that before committing such a crime...”

 

“Well, that’s stupid. The hoodies should’ve hid our faces.”

 

“Camera angles...”

 

The blue haired idol ignored that conversation and turned to Mondo.

 

“Are you sure you don’t need help with the cost? This is all of our faults. Not just yours.”

 

“Nah, I told you, I got it.” Sayaka opened her mouth to speak, before Mondo cut her off. “Please. Let me handle it.”

 

“What are you doing for money?” Leon laid his head on the desk as he asked the question.

 

“Daiya’s trying to help me get a job. He didn’t want me to have to work yet, but we ain’t really gotta choice. It sucks though. Nobody wants to hire a high schooler with a prison record.” He sighed and tapped his desk with a finger. Then Chihiro spoke up.

 

“Do you regret it?”

 

“I mean, yeah of course I do. I’m going to probably end up in jail again because I can’t pay off a stupid ass car.”

 

“Well...think about what we did it for.” Mondo stopped tapping his fingers at the programmers words.

 

“For Kiyotaka...” he mumbled. “You’re right. I don’t regret it. Even if I end up in jail, I’ll know I gave that bitch a taste of it. She fucking deserved it, trying to ruin my best friend’s life! Taka didn’t deserve that dammit! He never did anything wrong! He just wanted to help everyone and prove he wasn’t a bad guy! He busted his fucking ass all the damn time to please everyone, and SHE JUST SHIT ALL OVER THAT!”

 

“Mondo, dude. People are staring,” Leon warned with a flushed face at the new attention.

 

“No,” Chihiro started. “They deserve to know. Because they were part of the problem too. Junko didn’t do it alone. She only gave the students something to work with.” Mondo respected the way Chihiro spoke up with each sentence.

 

Anyone who cared enough could definitely hear what they were saying now.

 

 

 

 

That’s why new events took place days later in the office of Kirigiri. Mondo was a bit surprised upon hearing the office call for him over the school’s intercom, but only assumed it was a reminder that the money was due soon.

 

“What do you mean it’s paid off!”

 

Mondo stood up from the seat in shock as the plum haired man in front of him delivered the news.

 

“A student who asked to remain anonymous came to my office. They didn’t explain much, but simply stated it was something they owed to Mr. Ishimaru. The extra will be going towards his hospital bill.”

 

Mondo put a hand on his head as he felt a large smile lift on his face. He was so scared it was a dream, so he gave himself a pinch to the leg that, indeed, stung a little.

 

“Are you positive that’s what happened? It ain’t some kinda misunderstanding?”

 

The elder man nodded.

 

“Very positive. I, myself, was in shock at the behavior, and even more so at his request to remain anonymous.”

 

So this anonymous student was a guy? Apparently one with a lot of money and-

 

No...He wouldn’t.

 

“I’m happy for you, Mr. Owada, but you should get back to class soon.”

 

“Yessir, Mr. Kirigiri. Thank you, sir.”

 

He had a huge smile on his face as he walked out into the hall. The pure joy he felt was enough to make him actually want to attend class to deliver the news to the other three accomplices.

 

He also wanted to see another face in particular.

 

The ecstatic biker walked into class as everyone was packing up. He headed to his desk, seeing confused looks on the faces of his friends.

 

“You look happy,” Leon remarked with his own smile.

 

“It’s paid off! Someone paid for it all, and even left extra for Taka’s hospital bill!”

 

“That’s awesome!” Sayaka handed Mondo his stuff. “So it’s all paid for? Just like that?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Well, who was it?” Chihiro asked with excitement causing his voice to go up in pitch.

 

“They chose to remain anonymous, but...” Mondo glanced back at a certain blue eyed blonde who was packing his own stuff with a slight blush on his face from the overheard conversation.

 

“I have a few ideas.”

Chapter Text

Kiyotaka hadn’t messaged Mondo back all weekend.

 

It wasn’t like him to act like this at all. Their arguments never lasted more than a day because neither of them could stay mad at each other.

 

Mondo knew what he did was wrong. He took advantage of Kiyotaka for his first time getting drunk. He couldn’t sleep at night knowing he did that to his best friend. Negative thoughts always ran through his head.

 

I should’ve stayed sober. I should’ve never brought him to that party. We should’ve stayed here. I probably took his virginity, and I can’t remember a thing. Wait, did he even consent?

 

Dammit, why couldn’t he remember anything! Why wouldn’t Taka just fucking talk to him!

 

He considered going to his house, but he knew his friend needed space. He couldn’t be selfish.

 

That didn’t stop the biker from uncharacteristically getting to school early on Monday.

 

He was quick to grab his stuff from his own locker before retreating to Taka’s like their usual mornings. He leaned against it and waited for his friend to show up. Mondo knew it would be awkward, but he needed to talk to him, and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

 

So he waited.

 

And waited.

 

He sighed as he checked the time on his phone. Only moments before the tardy bell rang and he hadn’t seen Taka anywhere.

 

He didn’t miss school...did he?

 

He stood from his leaning position and made his way to their first class. Maybe Taka was watching him from a distance and was just waiting for him to leave so he could avoid him. Taka never missed school. Ever. He had to be here somewhere.

 

He found himself taking quicker steps as he approached the classroom and...

 

Thank goodness...

 

He looked forward to see Taka in his desk. So he was okay.

 

“Taka, how did-“

 

The raven haired male didn’t look up at him, but Mondo took in the scene around him. The teacher was currently absent, probably on duty, and everyone in the classroom was staring at Kiyotaka, some with their hands over their mouths, and others attempting to hold back giggles.

 

He looked back to the moral compass to see him staring straight down at the desk, unmoving. To Mondo, he looked paralyzed.

 

Then he saw what Taka was staring at.

 

His desk was covered in black marker. It wasn’t just marks though. It was words.

 

WHORE

 

SLUT

 

FAGGOT

 

HYPOCRITE

 

Taka’s face was expressionless and unmoving. Mondo wanted to say something, but he couldn’t get the words out. He felt sick to his stomach. Nobody in the room said anything, and the silence was directed towards Ishimaru.

 

Most students flinched as he stood up, and for a moment, Mondo thought he was going to snap and finally say something. He was ready to back Taka up as he gave them a piece of his mind after all this time.

 

That wasn’t what happened.

 

The teen made his way to the teacher’s desk in the front of the room, and grabbed a sanitation wipe out of the container before heading back to his spot and sitting down.

 

He wordlessly began scrubbing at the words on his desk.

 

Mondo could feel the confusion in the room. He wouldn’t have evidence for the teacher, so how was he going to get the bastards who did this in trouble?

 

The permanent ink wasn’t fading, so Taka just scrubbed harder.

 

 

~~~

 

Being cooped up in the hospital room wasn’t proving to help neither Mondo or Takaaki in their health, despite them both enjoying their talks.

 

Takaaki suggested one weekend that they could go grab a bite to eat to get out of the building.

 

This led the the present scene of Mondo sitting in the passenger seat of Takaaki’s cop car. It was different being in the front instead of the back for once. With a lot on their minds and hunger in their appetite, they headed to the other side of town.

 

“So do ya always drive the cop car?” Mondo asked after some silence.

 

“Mostly,” the older man explained. “Always gotta be ready for action. Plus it’s a lot easier to come to the hospital straight from work. No point ‘n switching ‘em out.”

 

Mondo stayed looking out the window. After the recent scare, Taka had been on his mind a lot more.

 

He started to wonder if he took his company for granted all this time, and he needed to tell him how much he appreciated him. Taka had to wake up.

 

“Do you think he’s gonna be okay...?” Mondo finally asked. He never tried to voice his doubt to anyone. He always arranged his words where he’d seem positive that Taka wouldn’t die.

 

Takaaki stared ahead at the road, and Mondo instantly regretted asking the question.

 

“I...I have confidence in him. It’s like he’s fighting to stay. I think he regrets such an impulse decision, and maybe the fact that his best friend is always there is enough for him to keep going.” Mondo heard Takaaki flick on a blinker. “What are you gonna say to him when he wakes up?”

 

Mondo hadn’t even thought of that.

 

“Oh, geez...There’s so much. I don’t even know...” He looked down at his leg sitting on top of the other. “I don’t even think I’d be able to say anything at first.”

 

“He’s definitely going to apologize a bunch,” Takaaki stated matter-of-factly. Mondo sighed.

 

“He’s so hard headed.”

 

“You’re tellin’ me. Maybe if he would’ve accepted a bit of help he’d be okay.”

 

That caught Mondo’s attention. Of course that was something he himself believed, but he realized there was a question he never asked, and it seemed to be avoided.

 

“Did you know? Everything that was happening I mean...Did he tell you?”

 

There was silence for a moment that told Mondo the answer.

 

“Apparently there’s more to it then I thought, but I knew people weren’t treating him well. He never wanted to talk about it though, and told me to let him handle it.”

 

“Yep...sounds like Taka...”

 

“...I should’ve stepped in anyways, and everyday I beat myself up over that thought. I’m a damn cop for crying out loud. This would’ve never got this far.”

 

Then it struck Mondo.

 

Oh geez, does he know about the party...

 

“How much did he uh...how much did he tell you?” he asked nervously.

 

“Well, at first I’d ask him how high school was and he would always just say it was good. He would tell me about new stuff he learned and a little bit about you, but other than that we didn’t get to talk much because of how our schedules fell. When I got home from work, he was always asleep. I wanted to be able to talk to him more, but we’re not exactly rich. There was so much to pay for, and he needed to focus on his studies, so I was just going to have to work as much as I could to pay the bills.”

 

He paused.

 

“He broke to me one night. I came in late at night, expecting him to be asleep like always. I went to check on him but he wasn’t in his room. I heard him sobbing in his bathroom and started panicking of course. He wouldn’t let me in and kept saying stuff like ‘it hurts’ and ‘he’s sorry’.”

 

“Did ya break down the door?” Mondo asked.

 

“No, unlike you I knew where the spare key was. It probably wasn’t the best call, seeing how he probably needed time and space, but god, I was so worried. So when I open the door he was sitting against the tub in his pajamas, hugging himself. He looked horrible, like he’d been crying for hours. So I tried to get him to tell me what happened to him, but he just kept saying he needed to shower and saying how sorry he was, and he wouldn’t let me touch him. He was shaking pretty bad and for a moment I think he forgot who I was.”

 

“So what did you do?”

 

“I just sat in front of him and kept my hands to myself. I let him know that he was okay, and reminded him to breathe. I told him whatever it was wouldn’t make me mad.”

 

“Did it help?”

 

“He calmed down a little after a while. He was still shaking and crying, so I gave him some time.” Takaaki seemed to be stalling from a specific factor of his story.

 

“So what happened to ‘em to make him freak out so bad. Did he ever tell ya?”

 

“Yeah...” he paused for a moment, obviously not wanting to go into detail, but continued on anyways. “Some fuckers from school sexually assaulted him.”

 

Mondo didn’t think he heard him right.

 

“Wait, like...they...raped him?” The silence told Mondo that his accusation was correct.

 

“He was all excited that day and called me after school to tell me some guy from an upper class asked him to tutor him. He was so proud that someone was finally reaching out to him and getting help. But apparently he had another friend over too, and it was a set up for some sick fucking joke.”

 

“You’re...being serious?”

 

“He didn’t tell you about any of this?”

 

“No...He didn’t...It must’ve been sometime before we met and maybe he just forgot about it. He tells me everything.” Takaaki went quiet at this.

 

“It happened at the beginning of this school year, Mondo.”

 

Mondo felt a small numb feeling in his chest. They were only halfway through the year. This stuff wasn’t old. It was recent.

 

They were still best friends at this time, yet Mondo had no idea.

 

“Are you okay, Owada? I know it’s a lot to take in, and I probably shouldn’t of said anything, but...”

 

“Taka was...” It started becoming clear now. The words written on Taka’s desk had so much more meaning now. “Well, you’re a cop! Did you arrest them!”

 

“...He wouldn’t let me.”

 

“And you listened to him? Seriously!” Mondo was pissed. He was hurting.

 

“Mondo, listen.” The cop started. “I know I shouldn’t have listened, but he begged me. He begged me to stay out of it and told me it would only get harder for him. Even if I wanted to go against him, he wouldn’t tell me who the guy was. He said he was going to get stronger from it. He promised he’d be okay, and that he just needed time.”

 

Mondo felt his lip quiver as he tried to keep it together.

 

“He always told me stuff like that, too.”

 

Mondo bit his lip and stared out the window to hide the tears that were beginning to form. He couldn’t let Takaaki see him break. He couldn’t break at all. He had to be strong.

 

“Dammit, Taka,” he whispered, his voice cracking. He heard Takaaki’s crack just as his had.

 

“It hurts knowing you can’t protect the one person you have in your life. He told me the truth about the things going on at school, and I felt so helpless. He just told me he felt gross and needed to shower again, and that was the last he told me about it. So I went to my room and left him alone. I just...broke.” He heard Takaaki’s breathing hitch. “People are so fucking cruel.”

 

“God,” Mondo began after a few seconds of taking it all in. “he never even told me. He knew I’d beat the shit out of whoever it was!”

 

Takaaki chuckled a little at that.

 

“That’s exactly what he was worried about.” Mondo turned his head to look at the man who’s eyes were glossy.

 

“Whadduya mean? Did he say something about me?”

 

“He said a lot about you, Mondo. You meant the world to that boy.” His smile lifted slightly. “He always talked up on you, saying how nice you were to him and how it felt great to have someone who was patient with him. I’m surprised he hadn’t made me and I meet before. He was very fond of you.”

 

“Fond...?”

 

Takaaki glanced at Mondo to see if he was joking before letting out a laugh.

 

“Don’t tell me you’re that oblivious! The way his cheeks would heat up as he rambled about you...the way he was always at your house...you can’t tell me you’ve never picked up on any of these signs.”

 

“Are you implying that he had an actual crush on me?”

 

Takaaki lifted an eyebrow and smirked.

 

“Perhaps I’ve said too much.” The car rocked slightly as he put it into park and turned it off. “C’mon. We got out of that hellhole to clear our heads.”

 

Mondo unfastened his seatbelt, feeling the new heat to his face. It was a lot to take in considering he just got hit with not one, but two bombs.

 

He got out the car and made his way to the entrance of the restaurant, but he suddenly didn’t have much of an appetite.

Chapter Text

Mondo and Kiyotaka had seven classes together throughout the day.

 

So how the hell did Taka manage to avoid him all day?

 

After the desk incident, Mondo wanted to check on him after class. He gathered his belongings, but when he looked up, Taka was the first to leave the classroom. His book sack hadn’t even been zipped all the way, and he didn’t even glance in Mondo’s direction before starting down the hall.

 

“Dude, do you think he’s okay? That desk joke was sick...” Leon’s voice had cut through his thoughts.

 

“I dunno, dude. Im gonna check on him.” The delinquent had flung the strap of his book sack over his shoulder and made his way out the room, but Taka was no where to be seen in the clusters of students in the hall.

 

This repeated for all of their classes throughout the day, and for lunch, Taka hadn’t shown up at his usual table with Mondo and Leon.

 

Mondo left to search the school, but his friend was proving to be a rather skillful hider.

 

So now Mondo sat in his last hour class, staring at the back of Taka’s head as the teacher wrapped up her lesson. The layout of the classroom would be useful, considering the door was in the back near Mondo’s desk, and he’d get there before the moral compass.

 

He already packed his stuff, and was ready to stand as soon as the bell signaled the end of class. He was smart in his thinking ahead, because as soon as the ring sounded, Taka stood quickly and was about to make his escape before Mondo stepped in his way.

 

“Mondo, I have to go-“

 

“Why the hell are you avoiding me!”

 

Students stepped around them to leave the room, and Taka found watching them far more interesting than Mondo’s look of anger. Mondo waited until most of the students left before stepping up, closer to the shorter male so he could speak quieter.

 

“I didn’t even get to check on you after the desk incident! Did you-“

 

“We can talk about this lat-“

 

“No.”

 

Kiyotaka finally looked at Mondo’s angry face.

 

“Huh...?”

 

“I said no. You always say we can ‘talk about it later’ and we never do. You been avoiding me all day and it’s getting on my fuckin’ nerves! What did I do Kiyotaka!”

 

“Mondo, not here...not now...”

 

“Why the fuck won’t you talk to me, Kiyotaka! I’m your best friend for fuck sake!” He felt a grip on his arm before he was suddenly dragged out of the classroom and down the hall. They got a few stares, but Mondo was more focused on the sudden lash out from the hall monitor.

 

He was brought to the janitor’s closet and nearly shoved in before hearing the door close behind him.

 

“Taka, what-“

 

“We can’t be friends anymore, Owada.”

 

Mondo felt his breathing stagger for a moment, almost as if that statement knocked the breath out of him. He was partially expecting to hear Kiyotaka’s loud laugh, signifying that he was only joking, but the stern face and the glossy eyes told him that it wasn’t a joke.

 

“...what the hell do ya mean, Kee?”

 

“Don’t call me that...” Mondo could feel his heart break at that. He always called him that.

 

“Kiyotaka, what the fuck are you sayin’? Is this about the stupid ass party!”

 

“The website, Mondo.”

 

Mondo stopped and stared down at the other, who was glaring back with just as much intensity, except there wasn’t much anger in those red eyes. It was only guilt.

 

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

 

“Someone took pictures of us at the party. Everyone knows what we did. The words on the desk, Mondo. Everyone saw the pictures on the website! Haven’t you noticed any weird looks or comments today!”

 

Mondo hadn’t noticed. He was so focused on trying to make sure his friend was okay all damn day!

 

“I’m used to gettin’ em.”

 

“Because you’re always with me.”

 

“That’s not what I-“

 

“No, it’s the truth, and that’s why we can’t keep doing this.” The tear bubbling at Taka’s waterline finally fell. “I’ve dragged you into my problems since I’ve met you. You can’t keep getting treated like this because of me.”

 

Mondo could only stare at him. This wasn’t happening. They were still going to be friends. Kiyotaka was just...going through it right now. He wasn’t serious!

 

“Look, if this is because of the party, I’m sorry. I shoulda never pressured you. I just wanted you to have some fun, ya know?”

 

“I did.”

 

“What?”

 

“The party. It was fun. And you’ve always been so fun to be around. The fact that you cared so much about my mental health that you wanted to bring me along so I’d forget it all...You’re so caring, Owada.” The moral compass paused, as if he was rethinking the decision. “That’s why I can’t keep letting you take my bullets. You don’t deserve it.”

 

“Kee, just-“

 

“I told you to stop calling me that!”

 

Mondo stopped fighting for a moment. So Kiyotaka was serious about this. The tear that just fell off of his pale cheek let him know it.

 

“...so that’s it?”

 

He got a sniffle of response as the Ishimaru looked down, shutting his eyes as though he was fretting that phrase. Mondo continued.

 

“All those times we went an’ ate together after school. All the time we went to my house to study an’ shit. The weekends you slept over. It’s all over?”

 

Another sniffle.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“For what? Sorry that you’re letting me go because of some stupid teenagers talkin’ shit?”

 

“You don’t deserve it, Mondo...”

 

“Ya know what I don’t fuckin’ deserve? I don’t deserve to lose my best fuckin’ friend over some dumb pictures! Why are you so hard headed dammit!”

 

Taka slid down the wall and buried his face into his arms that were rested on his knees.

 

“Just s-stop...” He sobbed out.

 

“No. I’m not gonna just stop. Because stopping is why it got to this point. To the point of you wanting to let your best friend go because you think you have to deal with all this shit by yourself.”

 

“Y-You have a reputation-“

 

“Are you not fucking listening! You’re more important to me than what any of these assholes think of me! Why can’t you just understand that!” He stopped and took a breath before continuing, his loud and angry tone dimming down only slightly.

 

“And ya know what? I imagine what life would be like all the time if I hadn’t ran into you that night! And I hate it! I hate it so fucking much! I can be myself around you! All the stupid little shit you do and say? It makes me happy, Kiyotaka! And you’re just gonna make me live without that big ass smile that I love so much?”

 

He stopped. There was so much to say, but he couldn’t tell if Kiyotaka was listening. He wasn’t showing his face anymore. Then he heard a mumble.

 

“..m....rry”

 

“What?”

 

“...I-I’m s-sorry.”

 

Did he actually get through to him? Was he going to finally get up, wipe his face off, and give him the big hug that they both needed?

 

He didn’t.

 

“I’m sorry th-that I can’t keep letting y-you f-feel sorry for m-me...”

 

Mondo could tear his own hair out right now.

 

“Were you not listening...?”

 

“P-please, Owada...” Every time he called him by his last name it stung, and took away any hope he had left of fixing this. “You deserve so much better.”

 

Mondo stared down at Taka’s bunched up figure as he thought of any way he could fix this. Guilt tripping didn’t seem to work this time, and he hadn’t been trying to. He just wanted this to be over. His chest hurt.

 

He wanted to hug his best friend, let him know it was going to be okay, and take him to get some food. Perhaps they could go eat at a park or something, and they could get some fresh air.

 

That wasn’t where the situation was leading, however.

 

“So what now?” Mondo mumbled.

 

Last chance.

 

“Can you just...I need a moment.”

 

Mondo took a deep breath. He put a hand in his hair and felt his own lip quiver. He closed his eyes and bunched up the fist in his hair as he gritted his teeth.

 

So this really was it.

 

No more walking him to his classes.

 

No more hearing him get all excited about whatever he learned in class.

 

No more motorcycle rides.

 

No more teaching him new things.

 

Finally he answered.

 

“Anything for you, Kiyotaka.”

 

He headed towards the door and opened it slowly. He didn’t care if someone saw him walking out. He stopped and gave a final look to his former friend.

 

“I’m sorry this shit got so out of hand. I’ll see you around, Ishimaru.”

 

He heard a few more sniffles before he closed the door. He stood outside the closet and processed everything. He couldn’t recall the last time he called him by his last name.

 

He didn’t want to cry. He couldn’t break. Men didn’t cry.

 

He took a deep but shaky breath as he glanced behind him at the door. He should just go back in and tell him he wasn’t leaving.

 

But he would cry.

 

He left towards the exit of the school like usual, except this time he was alone.

 

He left the school, but not before punching the wall.

 

~~~

 

Every day was becoming the same thing.

 

He’d go to school, listen to the same crappy bullshit over and over, and then go to the hospital. He and Takaaki would talk and talk, but Taka never showed any signs of waking up.

 

He’d go home, go to bed, and then repeat the next day. He found it harder to wake up now. Despite the fact that going to the hospital was in his routine, it was hard.

 

He was losing hope.

 

Deep down, he knew everyone else was. It was getting quieter, and every time he heard “he’s still not up?” he could feel a little part of him sink further.

 

The worst part of all is the terms they ended on.

 

He should’ve stayed that day. He let Taka tell him “no” all this time, but he shouldn’t have let it slide that time.

 

It was too late now.

 

Mondo drove home in the darkening sky, returning from the hospital. He let the wind blow in his face. The hair that wasn’t lifted into a pompadour flowed behind him.

 

He thought of all those time Kiyotaka would be pressed up behind him, hugging his waist.

 

Something about that always made him feel comfortable, knowing he was there. He was okay and at any given moment, he could pull over and hug him.

 

He never had done that, but right now that was all he could hope for. Their hugs were always nice after all.

 

Something about wrapping his arms around the shorter frame always gave him a sense of comfort and passion. Being able to protect Taka was all he could hope for. He knew the prefect could fend for himself, but he never did.

 

Mondo wished everyone else could’ve seen what he saw in Taka before it was too late.

 

The way he smiled, those big red eyes, his laugh, the way he got excited over little things...Mondo thought about those things a lot. How could anyone hate him?

 

Perhaps he had seen the side of him that Kiyotaka was scared to show everyone else, the side of him that involved playing video games late at night with his best friend, or watching movies in the dark and eating popcorn, only to fall asleep on the shoulder of a biker who cared for him so much.

 

Yeah, Mondo decided. The world would’ve fell in love with him.

 

Mondo was okay with seeing that side of Kiyotaka for the rest of his life. In fact, he wanted to more than anything. He could never pinpoint exactly why it made him so happy.

 

He thought it was just because he was happy his best friend was happy. He never knew it was because every time he felt that head on his shoulder, he fell for him a little more.

 

That’s right.

 

He was coming to the realization now. He had for a while now, but he could never act upon it.

 

Hearing Takaaki tell him the truth about Kiyotaka’s feelings however, changed that initial doubt.

 

They should’ve both known there was a reason besides alcohol that resulted in them kissing at the party.

 

And now Mondo could recall the very few times he was fortunate enough to wake up before Kiyotaka after a night of him sleeping over. It took everything he had not to rub a thumb over his cheek, or run his hands though his messy morning hair.

 

And all those times it was just them in the dark, and they were super close to each other. All those times he wanted to hold him like he was his own.

 

He should’ve when he had the chance.

 

All those times he dropped Kiyotaka off at home on school nights. All those times he should’ve grabbed his arm and pulled him in.

 

He should’ve kissed him when he had the chance.

 

Because had he known this would all be happening, he would’ve already told Kiyotaka.

 

He would’ve told him how much he loved him.

Chapter Text

Soft tapping sounded through the halls as black boots moved against the hard ground.

 

He was earlier than usual, hoping to steer clear of as many students as possible.

 

This included Mondo Owada.

 

Part of him wanted to skip school today, but he knew he couldn’t.

 

It was immoral.

 

He had to keep going. He had to be the moral compass and set a good example.

 

He couldn’t give up despite the hell that had been brought upon him.

 

He rounded the corner of the hall, his head down, staring at the tiles. Had their been more students, he would’ve paid more attention, despite wanting to hide his face so bad.

 

But he would’ve had to hold his head high.

 

Again, he couldn’t give up.

 

He wanted to take back the things he said to his best friend the day prior. He didn’t want to be alone, but he felt he needed to. No one deserved this.

 

So why was it happening?

 

What did he do wrong?

 

He took a deep breath and reminded himself, once again, to keep going.

 

He lifted his head up upon approaching his locker, but he stopped.

 

He could only stare for a moment as his hands fell to his sides, and he felt breathless for a moment.

 

His locker was spray painted in messy bright pink letters.

 

The emotion seemed to drain from him at the very moment. He stood alone in the empty hall, staring at the word he hated more than anything.

 

Genius

 

Ishimaru felt himself slouch.

 

And suddenly, being a good role model didn’t matter anymore.

 

Then he walked back the way he came, trailing down the hall and out of the school.

 

He wouldn’t come back that day.

Chapter Text

Things would be different today.

 

Mondo wouldn’t get to walk his best friend to their first class like usual. He had almost skipped, but part of him told him he had to come.

 

Maybe he just wanted to see him.

 

The biker ignored the chatter throughout the halls, and didn’t bother with any apologies as he bumped into some of the other students.

 

He hated them anyways.

 

He made his way to his own locker and opened it. Something in him wanted to just grab the books that he and Taka would always study together. He wanted to tear the pages to shreds and release all the anger he felt.

 

He settled for simply slipping them into his book sack, however. He couldn’t stop himself from glancing up at his friend’s locker across the hall.

 

Even through the crowds of people making their way through, he could tell something was going on.

 

Kiyotaka wasn’t there, but instead there was a singular janitor, who had just finished painting over the last of something. He placed the paintbrush aside on the rolling table he had next to him before slapping some ‘wet paint’ signs on the surrounding lockers.

 

The delinquent was tempted to catch up to the janitor who was now retreating to the closet. He wanted to ask what he was doing, yet stopped himself as the elderly man slipped into the same closet where he lost his best friend.

 

He decided not to follow him, but instead looked forward at the locker that now stood out like a sore thumb. The paint was a lot darker than the other lockers, and it was, no doubt, a last minute fix.

 

Why did they paint his locker?

 

Mondo gripped the strap over his shoulder a little tighter before starting towards his first class. Surely, someone would know what happened. He’d figure it out by the end of the day.

 

The pompadoured teen tried to get rid of that pang he felt. The alarms in his head that told him it was definitely not normal for a student’s locker to just randomly get a new paint job.

 

Whatever it is, he hoped it didn’t break Taka down too much.

 

Sure, he was pissed, but he still cared. He’d never not be able to care.

 

He stepped into the classroom and immediately felt a presence of something, or in better words, a lack of.

 

Kiyotaka wasn’t in his desk.

 

None of the other students seemed to pay any mind to it as they talked among each other, laughing and giggling like nothing was wrong.

 

Mondo hadn’t even noticed that he stopped and that his heartbeat increased a little bit.

 

He was just being dramatic.

 

No, it was okay. Taka was okay. He was just a little late, probably upset about yesterday, but he’d be here.

 

Kiyotaka Ishimaru never missed school.

 

He made his way to the back of the classroom, setting his stuff down and sitting on the edge of his seat as he waited. He didn’t bother talking to Leon, who was in conversation with the swimmer next to him.

 

All he did was wait.

 

He wanted to see the black haired male walk through the door more than anything. He didn’t care how angry or pissed he was, he just needed to know he was here.

 

He felt his hands get sweaty as more students filled the classroom until finally the tardy bell sounded.

 

Mondo jumped at the noise and tried to remind himself to stop being so dramatic.

 

It wasn’t until everyone was finally settled down that people began noticing the empty desk at the front of the room. The teacher began calling roll.

 

“Asahina?”

 

“Here!”

 

Mondo stared at the closed door.

 

“Enoshima?”

 

“Here~”

 

His eyes darted back to the empty desk.

 

“Fujisaki?”

 

“Here...”

 

And back to the door.

 

“Fukawa?”

 

“H-Here...”

 

Something was wrong.

 

“Hagakure?”

 

“Here.”

 

Very wrong.

 

“Ikusaba?”

 

“Present.”

 

And suddenly, he didn’t give a shit about anything else except-

 

“Ishimaru?”

 

...

 

The teacher looked up at the unexpected silence.

 

“Mr. Ishimaru?”

 

Mondo stood up.

 

“Can I be excused?

 

All eyes were on him.

 

“Mr. Owada, class just started-“

 

“I need to go. Now.”

 

A sigh and a “hurry back” was all Mondo heard as he had already grabbed his belongings and headed out the door. He felt his body shake with anxiety as he sped down the hallway in a rushed walk. He pulled out his phone and found Kiyotaka’s contact before calling his number.

 

No answer.

 

He never cared about getting in trouble, but leaving school without authorization resulted in huge consequences. To Mondo, those consequences didn’t matter right now.

 

That speedy walk turned into a run as he got closer to the exit. Shoving the doors open, his run became much faster before he hopped onto his bike.

 

“God fucking dammit, Kiyotaka!”

 

Mondo never drove so fast in his life.

 

He had a few close hits by other vehicles, and who knows how many stop signs he ran to get to where he was now. He tried calling a few more times, but it kept going to voicemail.

 

And now that he was rounding the corner of the Kiyotaka’s street, he felt a stab of realization.

 

There was only one way Kiyotaka would miss school.

 

He pulled up to the small grey house and hopped off as soon as he propped up the bike.

 

He knocked on the door a few times.

 

“Kiyotaka, open the door, buddy.”

 

Mondo felt his fist shake as it stilled, waiting for an answer.

 

“Kiyotaka, come on, we gotta go to school!”

 

Moments later, and still nothing. Mondo remembered seeing Kiyotaka always reach for the key in the plant next to the door.

 

He kneeled down, moved around the soil in the pot, but couldn’t find anything. He began cursing to himself and considered straight up kicking the door down.

 

He took one look and decided to move the entire pot, ready to empty it out. He didn’t have to, however. The reflection of the key caught his attention. It had been under the pot.

 

He fumbled with it for a moment before getting the door open and pushing in.

 

“Kiyotaka!”

 

He looked around as he waited for an answer. He’d never been in his house, so he had no idea where to start.

 

“Kiyotaka, where the hell are you at!”

 

He stepped into the living room and saw no signs of anyone. He gripped the leg of his uniform slacks.

 

“Kiyotaka, I’m about to call the fuckin’ cops! Where are you!”

 

He stopped for a moment, and with what little thought he could muster, he had an idea. He pulled out his phone and called the number he had called so many times today.

 

He stayed silent and for a moment, all he could hear was the fan in the living room along with a ticking clock.

 

Then he heard the ringtone go off. He headed towards the sound to a closed door. The biker pushed the unlocked door open, and the ringing got louder. His eyes darted around the small and tidy room until he saw the phone on the made bed.

 

So he was here.

 

Mondo picked up the phone as it finally stopped ringing. It was cold in his hand.

 

He walked back out into the hall, after leaving the phone on the bed. He was about to yell out again before he looked further down the hall at another closed door.

 

A light shown through the crack at the bottom, catching Owada’s attention.

 

“Kiyotaka, you in there?”

 

He knocked a few times and waited.

 

Nothing. Yet he felt the presence.

 

“Kiyotaka, open the door dude, I know you’re in there! Talk to me!”

 

The fear he felt was overwhelming, and he didn’t care who knew about it anymore.

 

“ISHIMARU, OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!”

 

And with that, Mondo brought his foot to the door, slamming it open with impact.

 

The noise it made was loud.

 

But Mondo couldn’t hear a thing.

 

He found him.

 

~~~

 

The memory of walking in on his best friend’s overdosed body stung through his memory more often than he should’ve. The flashbacks of screaming his name and yelling at him to wake up were ones he’d never get out of his head.

 

They overwhelmed his head as he made his way to the hospital once again.

 

Mondo felt different this time, and it took him everything he had to go forth with it, because after all this time, he knew he had to give up.

 

 

He had to finally say goodbye.

 

 

There was no more encouragement anywhere. The students and teachers didn’t ask Owada about Kiyotaka anymore. The nurses stopped going to his room as much as they usually did. Even Takaaki had began to grow quieter.

 

And Mondo never felt so hopeless and alone.

 

He parked his bike in the hospital parking lot and reached into his book sack behind him. He pulled out some flowers he picked up after school.

 

Despite the contrasting way he was feeling, he picked out some bright yellow ones. Kiyotaka loved the color yellow. It made him happy. He always used a yellow highlighter, his book sack was yellow, and on some days, Mondo would ask to paint his nails. When Kiyotaka would agree to let him, Mondo would always ask what color he wanted, but he always knew the answer, and would grab the only bottle of yellow fingernail polish he ever owned.

 

He put his book sack over his shoulder and gripped the stems of the flowers before heading inside. He hoped he got here before Takaaki today.

 

He had a lot to say before his time ran out.

 

He made his way into the hospital as usual-that much stayed the same-and knew exactly where to go. He didn’t bother talking to any of the staff he’d grown to recognize.

 

He just wanted to be with his friend.

 

He leaned against the elevator and felt that sick feeling crawling around inside of him. The back of his head pressed against the wall as he waited to hear the doors opening.

 

He found slight satisfaction in being the only one to use the elevator at the time. Had anyone joined him and tried to speak to him, who knows what he would’ve said.

 

He couldn’t think of anything else right now besides getting to the room.

 

When he finally approached the door, he was almost nervous to open it, like something was going to come out at him, but he pushed it open and everything was the same as usual.

 

The room was the same.

 

The beeping was the same.

 

The unmoving form on the bed was the same.

 

But there was something in the air that was different, and it made Mondo’s chest hurt. He forced a smile as he walked to the bed and sat down, dropping his bag to the floor.

 

“Hey, bud.” He set the flowers on the table next to the bed. “I brought ya some flowers, your favorite color and everything.”

 

He reached a hand down to rub his thumb on that thin wrist that was way too pale.

 

He stared down at that unmoving face that had once been full of life. The face that once brought Mondo so much happiness in this hell of life.

 

And he didn’t care that tears were forming now, and that his forced smile was quivering.

 

“The color yellow reminds me of you so much, Kee. Yellow’s a happy color, and you were my happy.” He brought a hand down to stroke his cheek. “It’s cheesy as hell, but I guess you could say you were my sunshine.”

 

He thumb rubbed up and down his smooth cheek. All the things he planned on saying just left his brain, and he felt that weight in his chest get harder than ever.

 

“I had a talk with your father. He told me what you thought about me.” He heard his words begin to shake as he continued. “I wish I woulda known sooner.”

 

He sniffled to try to contain himself from the inevitable, but finally after all this time, he let it go.

 

A tear slide down his cheek.

 

“Fuck, see what you do to me?”

 

A few more slid down.

 

“I’m weak, Taka. I can admit that now. I’ve tried to stay strong, but...” he paused and tried to catch his breath. “...what the fuck am I supposed to do without you?”

 

He wiped his eyes and stared out the window for a moment, trying to hold himself together.

 

But it didn’t matter anymore. He needed to let him know.

 

“Things coulda been different, ya know...God I wish you would’ve told me how you felt. I wish you would’ve let me fight all those people, and I wish you would’ve let me take the bullets with you.”

 

He got off the bed and kneeled next to it so he was closer to Kiyotaka. He really needed him to hear this next part.

 

“I would’ve done anything for you. Wanna know why?”

 

He reached under the blanket to grab his hand.

 

“Because I love you, Kiyotaka.”

 

The tears were falling to the bed now, but it felt good to finally let him know.

 

“And if you were up, I’d give you the biggest fucking hug of your life to let you know it. And if you let me, I’d kiss you. I’d kiss you like all those damn times I should’ve.”

 

He looked at their hands, joined together.

 

“And hell, who knows? Maybe one day I’d even get to put a ring on that pretty little finger of yours.”

 

He let out a small laugh through his crying.

 

“I’m movin’ a little fast, I know. But lately everything’s been moving fast, and I’ve learned not to wait, because I waited to let you know how I feel, and now it’s too late.”

 

He took a deep breath and lifted Kiyotaka’s hand and planted a small kiss on it. He pulled it away and tried to imagine how flustered Taka would get at such an action. He imagined that smile that he had been missing out on for weeks.

 

And that was enough to break him.

 

For the first time since Daiya told him his parents weren’t going to be in his life anymore, Mondo pressed his face against the bed and he sobbed.

 

His grip on Taka’s hand tightened, and he didn’t care who walked in. The air in the room was heavy and he felt his time running thin. Nothing could stop that feeling.

 

“Fuck, Kee,” he sobbed out. “We coulda been happy dammit! We coulda ran away together! We coulda built our own house and adopted as many dogs as we wanted! You could’ve been mine!”

 

And all the pain he felt for months and months, he laid right there. It hurt, and it always would hurt.

 

Because terrible things happened to good people, and Kiyotaka was an example of this.

 

Mondo wasn’t sure how long he sobbed, but he let go.

 

He was so loud that he couldn’t hear it at first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“M...Mondo?”