There weren’t many times in your life where you thought you would die. There was an incident with the train doors at age 10; a misfortunate attempt to cross a busy road at age 12; and today, where you had forgotten your lunch.
Your stomach might as well have been imploding.
Breakfast had been a no-go this morning. Your alarm had decided not to play this morning, resulting in a devastating and desperate dash up the winding mountain to Karasuno Highschool. In your rush, you had left your lunch on the table, where it had probably already been eaten up by one or more of your younger siblings. And, to make things worse, you had no money. Not a single coin or paper to save your withering soul.
So you sat in your chair, head on the desk, imaginary tears trickling down your face.
“Ah, the professional napper.” A foot kicked the leg of your desk, jolting it to the side, making you yelp with surprise. You clutched onto it with a weak grip, waiting until your double-vision settled. You looked up slowly, your neck creaking, to see the sunny, smug face of your classmate.
“Piss off, Hotaru,” you muttered, using the feminine version of his first name as a spiteful jab. You rested your chin back on the table, closing your eyes. You pressed your fingers into your stomach in an effort to make the raging pain go away.
“Shut up. I saw you sleeping again.” He drew up a chair in front of you, but you didn’t bother to look up. He was probably on his phone or something, anyways. You sighed indifferently.
“Where’s Yamaguchi?” you asked in an effort to get him to leave. “Go annoy him instead.”
You scowled. If he wanted to talk to you, then he should at least have the decency to move the conversation. What kind of an asshole tries to chat and then leaves it at an awkward impasse? Giving in to your embarrassment, you muttered something to fill in the silence.
“Why are you sitting here, then? I’m sure somebody else would rather tolerate you.”
“Walking somewhere else is too much of a bother. Besides, your desk is out of the sun.”
You raised your head weakly to check if he was right, and saw that the blinds were indeed blocking the streaming rays of sun off of your desk. You shrugged half-heartedly and put your head back into your arms.
There was another tense pause before he spoke up. “Did you understand the topic today?”
The question was so normal, and so much more neutral than negative that you thought your hunger had led to delirium. You tilted your head to stare at him, but like you’d thought, he was playing some game on his phone. The sideways device blocked his expression. His rhythmic tapping gave you time to think of a response.
“I guess…?” you said strangely, wondering more on what he was getting at than any sort of numerical theory. You distantly questioned his mental health. “Why?”
“You sleep so much, I thought you’d be stupid. I guess you are, but you’ve proved to be a little less than what I’d thought.”
Oh, so he was perfectly fine.
You had an impulse to ask what game he was playing, in order to be polite, but you restrained yourself. The tall, brooding boy had never been good to you. Even as a next-door neighbor, his entire childhood had probably revolved around pissing you off as much as possible. A dull memory of him pushing you into a dirty pond arose, and you shoved it back away. You’d gone long enough without cringing at your past mistakes. Speaking of neighbourly affections, he flicked his strong finger into your forehead, jerking you (very coldly) back into alertness once more.
“I didn’t see you leave the house earlier. Did you sleep in again?” Even though his words were normal enough, his sneer twisted them into yet another insult. Your stomach burned too much to let you sigh loudly, so you settled for an ugly look.
He hummed thoughtfully, like he was planning something. His tone just made him seem like he was always plotting. You then heard a familiar snap of Tupperware and looked up slowly, seeing a large bento box in front of your face. You swallowed thickly as your stomach gurgled excitedly.
Tsukishima had put his headphones up, still immersed in his game. He absent-mindedly pulled the lid off of his lunch with his left hand, and you almost whimpered when you saw his food. You could taste the fluffy rice; chew the crisp, steamed vegetables; taste the salty prawn. Your hand twitched. Would he notice if you took a bite? Or the entire thing?
“Where’s yours, Professional Napper?”
You knocked yourself out of your dreamy state. Your stomach growled again, and heat crawled up your neck. He smirked knowingly, pulling down his headphones, and began to click his chopsticks together.
“You forgot it.”
“I’m on a diet,” you lied, looking away. You held your breath, as not to smell the array of spices his lunch was prepared with.
“Okay, then I guess you don’t want any.”
Your neck could’ve snapped with how fast you turned to look at him. “Wait, you’d actually give me some?”
“I don’t know,” he teased in a sleepy tone, chewing on a carrot deliberately slow. He looked up at you with shimmering amber eyes. “Maybe not.”
You, too proud to beg, deflated. You looked back to the side. “It’s not like I wanted any, anyw – ”
A broccoli floret pressed against your lips, and you nearly let it drop to the floor in surprise if not for his persistent pushing. Your stomach erupted with urgency as the familiar taste of the vegetable spread along your tongue. You clenched your fist in defeat as you chewed, and swallowed greedily.
“What was that?” Tsukishima sighed, looking down with a smirk. He mixed his rice aimlessly, in your direct view. “I couldn’t quite hear.”
You inhaled deeply, your abdomen flaring up with pain once again as your body demanded more. You gritted your teeth and looked to the side bitterly.
“Okay, you win. I forgot my lunch and I’m starving, and I need your help. Happy?”
“Hm.” His snarky tone made you nervous, but you were too famished to care. You reached for the chopsticks in his hand, but his pulled them up and out of your reach. You pawed his sleeve pathetically.
“Tsukishima,” you whined. “Please.”
“I’ll spare you some of my lunch out of my good will… if you let me feed you.”
“Why would you want to do that?” you asked, startled, your hand still in the air. He snorted with amusement.
“To humiliate you.”
“Of course.” Your arms dropped and your crossed them, almost pouting. You wished you could retaliate, but you opened your mouth instead. You looked at him expectantly. “Go on, then.”
“Here comes the plane – ”
“Shut up,” you whispered, your eyes darting to the right, where some female classmates had started to point at you. They giggled and looked away when they saw you notice them, leaning forwards into a circle where they were definitely gossiping. You took the bite of food graciously, swallowing immediately, and then hissed hastily, “people are going to think we’re dating!”
“Is that so?”
“Doesn’t that bother you, Tsu – ?” He cut off your sentence by pushing more rice into your mouth, which you chewed, frustrated with your helplessness.
“Hm. Seems like it annoys you more than me.”
“I didn’t think you would even want to be associated with me.” You looked back over at the girls, who were now typing on their smartphones with lightning speed. A pang of fear hit you as you saw a ghostly image of you being fed by Tsukishima on Facebook or the like. Nobody would take you seriously! They’d just ask you, ‘hey, what’s Tsukishima really like?’ ‘He’s super hot but doesn’t talk a lot, so is he like, strong and silent?’ ‘He plays volley, right? Does that mean he has abs?’
You fought the shudder that shot down your spine.
“Oi, stupid. That girl’s waving to you.”
You followed his eyes to the door, where your friend was gesturing. You’d completely forgotten about her in your pain! She probably thought you were ditching her, or something. Your other friends crowded behind her.
“Chie! I’m sorry, I was – ” you tried to explain, wiping teriyaki sauce off the corner of your mouth before Tsukishima grinned. It appeared that he had been plotting after all.
“Sorry to steal her, Nakamura-san… but you see, we’re on a date.”
You spluttered, nearly choking yourself in the process. Chie covered her mouth with her hand, looking at you with wide eyes.
No, dummy, I told you that I hate him! Don’t make that face! You tried to signal to her, waving your hands furiously, but Tsukishima merely grasped one and pressed it into the desk. He smiled cheerfully. Those happy expressions were so rare that, as fake as it was, he looked genuinely pleased. Your hand twitched under his.
“I see! No problem, have fun!” she turned heel and ran, leaving you alone with the devil. Your face was blank with utter despair when you looked back at him, his hand still over yours.
“Why?” you whispered weakly, already seeing the “ship names” that your idiotic friends were coming up with. He withdrew his hand and stuffed yet another piece of food into your mouth, snickering to himself.
“Don’t call me Hotaru.”