“Wow, Kuboyasu. You were great last night!”
Hairo was perched atop his desk, eyes gleaming in admiration as they tended to do when he was inspired by someone’s achievements.
“You think so?” Kuboyasu scratched his neck but didn’t bother to hide a happy smile. “I’m surprised you were able to come.”
“Me too, but I’m glad I did! I didn’t think I’d ever set foot in such a club, but it was worth the money!”
Saiko studied the two boys with narrowed eyes from his bedazzled seat in the row behind. Ever since Kuboyasu had gotten a new job last week, he had seemed both happier and less prone to act vehemently. Thus, Saiko didn’t see the issue with him getting a part-time weekend job, but it was rather the job itself that perplexed him.
“Heh, you liked it even though our clothes got ruined toward the end?” Kuboyasu sounded cheeky, and Hairo grinned back at him.
“Definitely! They were so sweaty I should’ve discarded them earlier anyway.”
“Yeah”, Kuboyasu laughed a little. “We definitely got a little rumpled up, alright.”
“Same time next week?” Hairo sounded hopeful, and got a nod in reply.
“I’ll await you in my booth.”
As the bell rang and Hairo left for his own desk, Saiko’s gaze remained glued to Kuboyasu’s neck. He blinked slowly, replaying the two boys’ conversation in his mind.
Just what kind of job was it that Kuboyasu had gotten?
Next Thursday, Saiko showed up to school twenty minutes late as per usual, and bribed the math teacher with his standard nonchalante demeanour. But his careful act of indifference went amiss when his legs unwillingly stopped short in front of Kuboyasu’s desk.
“Whatcha starin’ at, rich bastard?” Only when he growled at him did Saiko realise he’d let his mouth fall open, and immediately put on a grin instead.
“I didn’t realise there was a plebe disco this weekend.”
Even though Kuboyasu’s temper had improved in the last weeks, his expression was far from civil. Although, it failed to be intimidating, because the boy was close to being drenched in glitter. His hair was especially affected, with the light emitting from it like the vases in Saiko’s mansion, but it had fallen to his school uniform as well and was steadily growing to a pile atop his desk.
“I was requested as a stand-in for work”, he growled. “Y’know, some of us actually have to get our hands dirty to get paid.”
Saiko narrowed his eyes at him, but didn’t lose his stoic cool.
“What kind of job has glitter as the work uniform?” He asked him outright. “Not that I’d ever care for a mere plebe as yourself, of course.”
Kuboyasu rolled his eyes and put a hand under his chin.
“It's a special kind of nightclub. The owner thought it would please the patrons to throw some confetti.” He waved a hand. “Now stop bothering me.”
Too surprised to give him a rejoinder, Saiko obeyed and quietly slipped into his diamond-covered seat.
He had suspected that Kuboyasu was working in a club, but for it to be a special club was enough to make him shiver. But oh well, he supposed it was none of his business.
“Kuboyasu, you were so amazing last night!”
Come Monday, it was Kaidou’s turn to lean over Kuboyasu’s desk with a close to elated expression, Nendou standing beside him.
“Please, after all of that bustle you can call me Aren.”
“Really?” Kaidou laughed, then covered his eye with a bandaged hand. “Then you’re allowed to call me Jet Black, as well.”
“Not gonna happen.”
Saiko tried not to care, he really did. But it was weird to see Kuboyasu so open about his questionable profession with their classmates. As a former thug, did he still find joy in sucking the innocence out of them?
“You’ve got to teach me that move you did, the one that was like this.” Nendou thrust his hips forward, and Saiko’s eyebrows shot up as he just proceeded to start humping.
“Hey, not here!” Kuboyasu whispered loudly and put his hands up to stop him, eyes searching for onlookers. Saiko promptly looked down at his phone.
“Yeah, Nendou.” Kaidou looked embarrassed. “It’s a bit inappropriate!”
“Still, you were like the most talented dancer there!” Nendou continued as if he hadn’t just dry-humped the air in front of their class.
“No way, some of the guys put on a great show.”
“No, I mean it. I bet you can charm the pants off anyone you want.”
Saiko had to conceal a sputter with a cough, and the girl beside him looked at him weirdly. He was really starting to get a bad feeling in his gut about Kuboyasu’s workplace.
Another week came with another weekend in the rear-view mirror, and Saiko found himself once again overhearing Kuboyasu’s conversation with their classmates.
“Your performance was just as great as last time!” Hairo praised with a fist in the air. “Maybe even better!”
“You’re just saying that ‘cus we’re friends. I’m still just an amateur.”
“No way, man! All of the visitors practically threw their cash at you!”
“It was good.”
Saiko’s eyebrows shot up when even Saiki gave a compliment; that was practically unheard of! Whatever Kuboyasu was doing, he was undoubtedly good at it.
As if he’d sensed Saiko’s gaze burning into his back, Kuboyasu turned around to greet him with a sneer.
“Oi, what’s up?”
“Congratulations to actually having a talent for something”, he said pompously, and received an eyeroll in response.
“Don’t mock me til’ you’ve seen me, at least.”
The bell rang, and everyone started getting back to their seats, but Kuboyasu leaned back to finish talking.
“If you decide you’ll stop being a prick and wanna have some fun, just tell me and I’ll let you in for free.”
Saiko gaped at him. Perhaps their classmates had bad enough morals to justify such an establishment, but he did not. Plus, he definitely didn’t care whether something was free or not.
“I only think it’s fun if both participants are having fun”, he snapped.
Kuboyasu looked at him with a weird expression, but had to turn around when the teacher told him to.
The aftertaste Saiko got in his mouth was sour; he didn’t like Kuboyasu’s profession one bit.
“Here”, Saiko said later that day at lunch.
Kuboyasu looked up at his outstretched hand in which he held a large sum of 10.000 yen bills.
“What the fuck is this?” He frowned and grit his teeth, not entirely angry but just as irritated as he usually was in the presence of Saiko.
“It’s enough that you don’t have to work for another year or so”, Saiko explained. He thought it was rather obvious.
“And why the hell would I take your money?”
“Does he want some favour in return?” Kaidou whispered to Nendou, who shrugged as he ate his ramen disinterestedly.
“So that you won’t have to return to that awful club of yours, of course.” Saiko was starting to get tired in his arm now.
Kuboyasu looked incredulously at him.
“What’s wrong with my club?”
Saiko didn’t believe this. Did he actually enjoy working there?
“It forces its employees to undertake morally unjustifiable transactions with their customers to receive payment in a most ruthless way.”
Kuboyasu looked at him questionably.
“Did you swallow a brochure for a workers' union?” Hairo laughed, and Saiko grit his teeth in frustration.
“You don’t think it’s bad for Kuboyasu to work as a stripper?” He snapped.
Everyone around the table froze and stared at him. Even Saiki stopped his chopsticks from entering his mouth.
Then, they all started laughing outright.
“Where the hell did you get that idea from?” Kuboyasu laughed, but he looked slightly embarrassed.
Saiko lowered his hand with the money, and one of his lackeys promptly put it in a briefcase. It seemed he had come to a misunderstanding.
“Y-you’re not a prostitute?” He managed, and Kaidou slapped a hand on the table so hard that some of Nendou’s ramen spilled.
“Of course I’m not a-” Kuboyasu took off his glasses to pinch his upper nose. “I’m a DJ! What gave you the idea I was something else?”
Saiko’s mouth turned into a thin line. He didn’t like being the bottom line of a joke, but he was going to justify himself.
“You spoke to Hairo some week ago, saying you were surprised he was able to come and something about your clothes getting ruined.”
“Yeah, come as in come to the club, not come as in… whatever.” Kuboyasu’s cheeks turned pink and he rolled his eyes at Nendou and Kaidou who were sprawled over the table laughing. “And our clothes were ruined because some fucker decided to throw a colour bomb into the crowd.”
Saiko nodded. That made sense, he supposed.
“And the glitter?”
“My boss thought it would make a good conclusion to my gig, so they threw it all over the damn building. I wasn’t too happy ‘bout that - some of it is still stuck to me.”
So it wasn’t because of some alluring reason, then. Saiko was starting to get embarrassed by his own misconceptions.
“But what about the move that Nendou wanted to learn?”
“You mean this one?” Nendou jumped out of his seat and started dancing in a way that was not at all close to the air-humping he’d shown in class. “Yeah, Aren’s got some sweet moves.”
Saiko shook his head to get rid of the image.
“So when you asked me if I wanted to have some fun-”
“I really just invited you to my gig”, Kuboyasu finished. “Damn, now I understand your heated response.”
“But you said it was a special kind of club?”
“Okay, I see how that one’s confusing, but it’s just an underground club, so it’s gothic and they mostly play rock.”
Finally coming to terms with his misunderstanding, Saiko hid his face in his hands.
“Wow, I feel rather dumb now.”
“You said it, not me!”
Kuboyasu laughed, and clapped him warmly on the shoulder so that he looked up again. He grinned at Saiko.
“Still, I’m honoured that you think I’m so attractive that your first idea was that I had to be a stripper.”
Saiko forced down the impulse to sneer, and instead settled on a grim smile.
“Don’t get a big head about it, plebe, but I’m glad that you’re safe.”
“Thanks man, you’re welcome to my next gig.”
“It depends on whether or not I’m able to come.”
With a wink, Saiko walked away, and was pleased to hear an embarrassed sputter behind him. He smiled. Perhaps he’d actually take an offer, for once.