Burger Runs – MomoKai – PG-13
Kaidoh’s brother, Hazue, is almost the spitting image of him when he was only ten years old. They have the same shape of eyebrows, the same mean looking eyes, all of those same sharp features which have given Kaidoh the nickname ‘scary snake’. Fortunately, for Hazue, he tends to smile a lot more, which means he gets to have friends.
Kaidoh doesn’t have any friends.
Not that he wants any. Friends are dumb, and they get in the way of his training.
But he does think it would be nice to train with someone else. He’s joined the tennis club at his school, but they’re barely active, with most members skipping out on practice, so really, it just means Kaidoh is spending some quality alone time with the back wall of the clubhouse. It’s probably the closest thing he has to a friend; it doesn’t say mean things to him. Or anything at all, but that doesn’t matter.
Hazue though, is still smiling at his brother. He’s a head shorter than Kaidoh, which is probably why he still manages to look approachable and nice. Whereas Kaidoh’s body went through a growth spurt at the age of thirteen, and now he’s got really long limbs that make him feel awkward, and only serve to enhance his scary features. But like he said, friends are dumb anyway.
“Kaoru-nii-san, I got this for you,” says Hazue. He stretches out both hands towards Kaidoh; he’s holding some kind of slender black object.
Kaidoh squints his eyes at it. “What is it?” Perhaps it’s a pedometer, so that he can record how many steps he takes when he’s running. That would be kind of neat, actually. But he wonders why Hazue is giving him something though, his birthday was back in May, and it’s almost June.
“It’s an MP3-player. You can use it while you go running,” explains Hazue. He sounds eager and excited. Kaidoh finally takes the ‘MP3-player’ off of his hands, and skeptically lifts it up in front of his face.
“It’s uhh …” Kaidoh doesn’t need to listen to anything when he runs. He’s fine with hearing the sounds of nature, like chirping birds, meowing cats and … and … cars speeding by him. Alright, those aren’t so pleasant. “What would I listen to?” he asks.
“Oh well, you see, I bought this CD called ‘Mimi-chan Makes A Friend!’, it’s sort of this … self-help track on making friends? And I ripped the track off the CD and put it on the MP3-player.”
Kaidoh hisses. He doesn’t need stupid stuff like that! He’s fine being alone!
“It’ll give you advice on how to make friends, I think it’ll really help! You should try it out, Kaoru-nii-san. Please? Pretty please?”
When Hazue looks at him like that, Kaidoh can’t help but give in. He’s a big softie at heart, and he likes his brother. He’s one of the few people he doesn’t mind spending time with, so he reluctantly stuffs the MP3-player into his pocket. Hazue doesn’t need to know he hasn’t listened to it, he can just carry it around and he’ll never know.
“Thank you! I’m sure you’ll like it!”
Kaidoh is pretty sure he won’t.
A few hours later, when he goes for his afternoon run, he doesn’t take the MP3-player out of his pocket. Instead he ties on his blue bandana, and then sets off to run. His routes are varied each day, on Monday he usually runs through a nearby park. Tuesdays he runs a complicated route through the city. Wednesdays and Thursdays he’s running along the outskirts of the city. The rest of the week, he runs in his own neighborhood. It’s the best kind of route he came up with, though he does vastly prefer Tuesdays … he simply likes the sound and feel of his shoes hitting the pavement. It feels sturdy and comfortable, and it doesn’t wear his shoes down as fast as dirt does.
There might have also been a teeny tiny other reason why he likes Tuesdays as well. Well, it’s not really a reason, one that Kaidoh won’t admit anyway, it’s something stupid.
The city route he had planned and stuck with for half a year, makes him run down a busy main street, full of shops and other people. He used to be deathly afraid of this street, his social anxiety rearing its ugly head at just the thought of being around that many people at once, but he manned up, and did it anyway. It’s as awkward as he thought it would be—Kaidoh really doesn’t do well with crowds, it’s why he avoids them—but there’s one thing that calms him down a little bit. Makes him feel more at ease.
On this busy street is a fast food place called Mos Burger. Kaidoh himself has never stepped foot in that place, he thinks it’s vile and unhealthy (Hazue might have eaten there though), it’s the scum of the earth. However, he’s grown to not dislike this place as much every time he runs by it, because there’s a certain person always sitting by the window at five PM, eating hamburgers.
Kaidoh doesn’t know why he noticed it the first time, and it confuses him even more that he kept noticing it afterwards.
He’d been resting against a bench one day, taking in water to keep himself hydrated enough. His eyes scanned his surroundings, feeling awkward and out of place with many people passing him by. He settled to look in front of him, at the huge windows of Mos Burger. He’d been sitting there, that boy. Didn’t look much older than him, and when he saw the golden collar-pin on his school uniform, he knew this boy was in his second year of middle school, just like Kaidoh. Kaidoh had snorted at his idiotic spiked up hairstyle; that stuff was nasty. He was with someone else, a younger boy, who didn’t seem to be paying much attention to him, and he’d been stuffing his face with hamburgers. It was actually a disgusting sight, but for some reason, Kaidoh couldn’t look away. How could anyone eat that much and not throw up? Kaidoh was sort of disgustingly fascinated.
The next week, Kaidoh had randomly looked up as he ran by Mos Burger, purely on morbid curiosity, to see if he was there again, that boy. He was. Sitting in the same seat, with about ten hamburgers piled up on his plate. Kaidoh’s mouth nearly fell open, and then his shoe hit the tip of the pavement and he almost stumbled his way through the street. His cheeks felt glowing hot and red; he hopes no one he knew saw him stumble around like an idiot.
But after that, it was just something Kaidoh couldn’t stop. Every Tuesday, he’d check, his eyes fleeting over towards the windows for only a second, to see if that boy was there, eating himself full with the most unhealthy food on earth. And he was. He didn’t skip a single week.
Kaidoh simply ran down the street, briefly looked at the windows, saw the boy eat burgers, then went on his way again. That’s how it was supposed to be. How it was supposed to stay. Nothing more than a simple glance.
It somehow managed to evolve into some strange ritual to him. He did it every time now, and made sure no one ever saw him, because that would be weird. It’s already weird enough that he notices someone, someone who he doesn’t know, and doesn’t know him. A complete stranger. With a wacky hairdo. Sometimes, it makes Kaidoh want to punch him in the face, but that’s strange, since he’s not a violent person. He tries to suppress this feeling, or any other kind of feeling, trying to keep himself focused on his run.
Yet he still does it.
Kaidoh’s feet are pounding against the concrete, the wind is rushing by him, and he’s focused on the end of the road, like it’s the light at the end of a tunnel. Then he can breathe again, after being stuck in this noisy crowd of people he doesn’t care about. Then the Mos Burger logo pops up into his sight, and instantly he turns his head ever so slightly to the right, and his eyes are already scanning the windows.
There he is again, along with a figure sitting in the opposite seat. Kaidoh’s never gotten a good look of this other person, since Kaidoh only runs one-way, and could only see him if he turned around and look. And Kaidoh never turns around and look. But he does look at the boy sitting at that table, a burger already in his hands. Kaidoh looks at the red tray on the table, the one with all the burgers piled on top of it. He counts them. There’s ten in total, make that eleven if he counts the one in his hands. What a freak. Kaidoh seriously wonders how this person hasn’t died of diabetes already. He wonders if perhaps he works out as well, to balance the unhealthy diet. He certainly doesn’t look fat.
Then something happens. When Kaidoh flicks his eyes up again, away from the burgers, and up at his cheerful face, he finds those same eyes staring back at him. Kaidoh’s shoe hits that tricky little tile on the sidewalk again, and he stumbles forwards with a red face. He immediately kicks it into high gear after steadying himself and runs away at the speed of light.
Ugh, that was way too embarrassing! He’s never looked back before! Now he saw Kaidoh looking, and he probably thinks he’s some sort of freak, especially after tripping over that stupid tile and making a fool of himself. Kaidoh kind of wishes the ground would swallow him up; his heart is beating way too fast, and it’s not from running.
The next week, it’s raining on Tuesday. Rain doesn’t deter Kaidoh from his run—he’ll even go running if it snows. There’s nothing that will prevent Kaidoh from running, but when he thinks how he’s going to have to run by that place again, and face him, he feels his feet starting to protest and want to turn back around. This is stupid. Kaidoh never cared what other people thought of him before, so why start now? With a determined hiss, he runs into the foggy street, rain bouncing around everywhere, and there’s people walking with umbrellas. They’re so weak, a little rain won’t kill anyone.
This time, he won’t look. He’ll refuse to. It’s stupid anyway. Kaidoh doesn’t know why he ever did it in the first place.
As he passes the tall windows of Mos Burger, Kaidoh looks to the left at the ground—away from the windows. In his mind, this was the exact opposite of not looking at a certain someone. And it would have worked, had there not been a rather large puddle of rain on the ground, reflecting Mos Burger back into his face. He saw the boy. A bit distorted, and there was a leaf stuck on his face, but Kaidoh knew it was him, and he was still there. Like he is every week. Kaidoh huffs and runs out of the street.
The next week, it wasn’t a puddle that was reflecting the boy’s face to him, but it was a passing car. It had just been waxed, and was so shiny, Kaidoh swears it was a driving mirror.
No matter how hard Kaidoh tries to avoid looking again, somehow he can still see his reflection.
He’s starting to consider the option of running blindfolded. That would actually be a good challenge. But he’s sure Hazue would complain, telling him he’s scaring people off even more. Fine, he won’t run blindfolded. He’ll just … run. As he should be.
Kaidoh Kaoru runs, it’s just what he does.
He certainly doesn’t sneak any peeks at strangers eating disgusting burgers.
And he certainly isn’t now.
Nor is he counting the amount of burgers that are filling the red tray. Certainly not.
Kaidoh sighs, hanging his head down, and trying to focus his thoughts on his breathing, on his run, on the muscles working in his legs. That’s all that should matter and all he should pay attention to.
When he gets home that day, Hazue greets him at the front door.
“Welcome back home, Kaoru-nii-san!” he greets cheerfully.
“Ah,” Kaidoh acknowledges him. He wipes his face off with his towel, and wonders if he has to make small-talk with his brother now. He’s awful at that. “N-nice weather, right?”
Hazue sticks out one hand, palm up, to catch the slight drizzle of rain from the cloudy sky. “Uhh,” he says, not quite sure how to respond to that. Kaidoh feels stupid for saying anything in the first place.
“I guess so … so um hey, I was wondering. Have you listened to the MP3 I gave you?”
Kaidoh purses his lips; he has not. In fact, it’s still stuffed away in the pocket of his shorts, never taken out. “Uhh.” He can’t tell Hazue that, that’s like saying it was a bad gift, and Kaidoh is never rude. “I did,” he lies.
Hazue smiles at him, and Kaidoh manages to give a little smile back. “And, is it helping?”
“Help with what?” Kaidoh asks. He just wants to go inside now, and maybe take a bath, he smells of sweat.
“With making friends,” says Hazue.
Kaidoh’s face flushes red and he quickly shakes his head. “I don’t need any!” he says gruffly, before stomping away from their front yard, and going inside of the house.
It’s true, Kaidoh doesn’t need any friends. They’re all stupid anyway. When he was little, and his mom made him wear dresses to school, he often got mistaken for a girl, and plenty of his classmates never let him forget. They called him ‘K-chan’ and cooed at him in the hallways. That’s basically when Kaidoh started hissing at people, to leave him alone. It seemed to work, but now everyone just thought he was some sort of scary delinquent (even if he always did his homework and got very good grades).
Now he’s in middle school, and things still haven’t improved much, despite the fact no one from his old school was there. People never have anything good to say to him, even his senpai are secretly gossiping bad things behind his back at school. The first years are scared of him, and his senpai don’t know what to do with him. People his own age simply try to ignore him. He always sits alone during lunch, at his own table, which no one seems to want to get near to. Everyone is always whispering that he’s strange and weird for eating in such a traditional way. Well, whatever. Kaidoh will eat however he wants. He doesn’t need friends to validate his eating habits. He doesn’t even need a partner in tennis; the wall makes for good practice. And why do people care how he eats anyway? That’s just stupid.
At least that idiot doesn’t care how many burgers he stuffs in his face either. He always looks happy.
Kaidoh blinks, and slips the towel from his neck. Wait—why is he thinking of him? He shakes his head; now this is stupid. He goes to take a long bath, to relax his muscles, and clear out his head.
All he really needs is his running. Yeah. That’s all he needs.
Kaidoh changes around his schedule a bit, adding more routes and hours to his week, sacrificing a few hours a day for sleep. He can do it; it wouldn’t be hard. When he looks at his schedule for Tuesday, he hovers his pencil over it, ready to cross it out and plan a new route. He puts the tip down on the paper, but he hesitates, feels his heart thumping loudly in disagreement. Then he moves the pencil over to Wednesday and starts scribbling something there. He manages to get something changed for every day except Tuesday. Kaidoh tries to rationalize it by saying it’s a challenge for him to run down a busy street full of people. He thinks of them as if they were obstacles, and it’s an obstacle course.
Tuesday comes, and Kaidoh feels slightly nervous as he approaches Mos Burger. He doesn’t know why all of the sudden he’s nervous; he’s ran this route for a few months now, and it’s not like it’s any busier than usual.
Kaidoh runs by the window, his pace slowing down by the slightest bit, and his eyes flash to the right.
Yeah, he’s there.
The unknown boy has a happy expression on his face as he tries to talk and eat at the same time. He’s laughing at something—maybe his own joke, who knows—and Kaidoh briefly wonders what his laugh sounds like. The other person with him steals some fries from his tray. Kaidoh snorts; at least this guy is happy being friends with someone. But not Kaidoh, he’ll be fine on his own. He doesn’t need to be dragged to fast food restaurants he doesn’t want to go to in the first place. He grunts and picks up some speed again, finally running to the end of the street.
By the end of the week, Kaidoh feels exhausted. He hasn’t slept much, focused on running and lifting weights instead, and it’s starting to make him feel a little bit lightheaded. Maybe he added too much to his training menu. But no, he can’t accept that. He’s Kaidoh Kaoru, he’ll pull through, he just needs to get used to the extra workload.
Back at school, half the members of the tennis club are missing. He overhears his captain talking, saying they stand no chance against the other strong middle schools, so they shouldn’t even bother trying. Kaidoh feels agitated; what a bunch of weak cowards. Not even trying to compete anymore, but content with the way things are now. His captain says he thinks Seigaku will take the regional cups this year anyway, as they’ve been doing rather good. Kaidoh grits his teeth; maybe he should have gone to Seigaku instead then, at least they know how to train and actually compete in tennis. Unlike these pathetic bunch of weaklings. He kicks his shoe at some rock and sulks off. He’ll just go hit some balls against a wall.
Next Tuesday, Kaidoh is running a little behind on schedule. He saw a cat trapped in between a spiked fence, and had to help him out. He got scratches all over his arms as thanks, but at least the cat was free. There was something about the helplessness of the cat that made him stop his rigorous training and help him out. Alright, maybe he just likes cats. This set him back a good ten minutes though, and he hopes that when he reaches Mos Burger …
Wait—why is he hoping to see him again? This is ridiculous. Kaidoh doesn’t know him, he’s an absolute stranger!
He can feel his heart sink to his feet when he sees the empty seat at the window though. He isn’t there. But when he runs a bit more, he can see the boy leaving in the corner of his eyes. He’s got a big blue tennis bag slung over his shoulder, and is walking away with a shorter boy, also carrying a tennis bag.
Suddenly, his interest is piqued.
So that’s how he doesn’t stay fat; he plays tennis and gets some exercise. Kaidoh didn’t catch the name on the bags—he was busy pretending not to look—but he knows they definitely do not go to his school. Besides, his school wears blazers, they seem to wear black gakuran.
Even when he’s home, Kaidoh starts to wonder what middle school he is from. Maybe they will meet for a tennis match one of these days. That would actually be kind of cool, it makes Kaidoh feel hopeful and excited. There can’t be that many middle schools in Tokyo, after all. Wait. No, that won’t happen. Their captain is not entering them in any kind of competition, opting to slack off the rest of the year. Well, damnit. Now he won’t get to see if he’s any good or not. He feels like punching his captain for being an asshole and a slacker.
Angrily, he puts on some colourful bandages on his arms to cover the scratches he got from the cat. There are smiley faces printed on them, and that simply makes Kaidoh angrier. They were the only ones available in their house, he didn’t have a choice.
When Hazue notices the cheerful bandages plastered all over his arm (he always wears sleeveless shirts), he giggles a bit. “That’s great, I’m glad Mimi-chan is helping! These bandages make you look more inviting and friendly.”
Kaidoh hisses, and tries to hide his embarrassed face by pulling his green bandana over it. Stupid little brother, why did he have to go and say that? He’s not doing it to look friendly! Maybe he should take out a marker and cross out the stupid smiley faces, and draw on skulls instead, so people stay away from him. Like he’s poisonous. People call him a snake anyway, so why not act like a venomous snake.
There’s only one bandage still left on his right arm when Tuesday rolls in. Most of the other scabs have healed, but this one is deep, and Kaidoh would rather not risk infection of any sort. He doesn’t get sick, he never does. He did try to cross out the stupid smiley face with a marker (he’s already been laughed at by his peers for them), but it washed away after he ran in the rain yesterday. It’s alright though, he thinks, no one can really tell anyway when he’s zooming past them; Kaidoh is fast after all.
Like a ritual practice, Kaidoh looks at Mos Burger when he passes by. He sees the boy, as usual, and it makes something comfortable settle in his stomach. It’s part of his routine now, and Kaidoh doesn’t like changes, so it’s nice to know he’s there every Tuesday as well. But something is off, the boy isn’t smiling, instead he looks kind of down. That’s when Kaidoh realizes he’s sitting alone; his usual partner isn’t with him. Ah, his friend ditched him, huh? Well, that’s what friends do, Kaidoh thinks with a snort. They ditch people. He’ll just have to suck it up and eat alone, there’s nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with that sad look in his eyes.
Kaidoh’s warm pumping blood turns to ice when the boy’s eyes flick back to his own, and looks at him. Like, really looks at him. Kaidoh feels mortified for being caught, and he turns his head away, speeding off before anything else could happen. He can feel his heart beat in his throat, like it’s waiting to jump out. He stops at some random building to take a breath, leaning against the concrete with his hand. His lungs feel like they’re caught on fire, and that stupid smiley face is staring right back at him on his arm, mocking him for being stupid.
Great, that boy probably saw the bandage too, and thinks he’s stupid—just like every else in his class did.
Angered by their brief meeting, Kaidoh rips the bandage off his arm, not even wincing at the slight sting. He flings it in a trashcan; that thing can go to hell. Even the solid weight of the MP3-player still hidden in his pocket is pissing him off. He tightens his bandana around his head, and goes back to running, this time working off some of the pent up aggression inside of him.
He wishes he could play tennis with someone else instead.
Kaidoh looks up on the internet (Hazue helped him) how many middle schools there are in Tokyo. About twenty, which is an awful lot if he’s looking for a specific person.
Not that he is. Probably.
At least he can cross off his own school. So that makes nineteen.
But he’s definitely not looking.
The following Tuesday, it seems the boy is back with his friend again at Mos Burger. He looks cheerful, a stark contrast of last week’s expression, and for some reason, that makes Kaidoh less grumpy too, as if his smile is contagious. When Kaidoh runs by, the boy is startled by something and drops the burger grasped in his hand. Clumsily, he tries to pick it up from the ground, but manages to hit his head under the table. It’s the first time Kaidoh has heard his voice; his thick voice vibrates through the window, riddled with curses. Kaidoh huffs; what an idiot. But an amusing one at that.
If that guy plays tennis, Kaidoh is sure he’s better than him, and could beat him. No one can beat Kaidoh, not with the kind of training he does.
Though if his captain’s talks are any worth, it seems Seigaku could probably beat him in tennis. They’ve been hearing rumours that they have a pretty impressive first year. Kaidoh isn’t impressed; he can beat some measly first year pipsqueak. He’s interested in the second years though … and not because of a certain spiky haired clumsy idiot. Maybe he should have gone to Seigaku instead for real. But he’s already in his second year, it wouldn’t be worth it … would it?
Nah, there’s no reason for Kaidoh to transfer. He can deal with having a wall for a practicing buddy. He can deal …
Later that day, Kaidoh crosses off at least five middle schools from the list. They’re all at the edge of the city, and he thinks that no one would go to that Mos Burger after school if they weren’t in the same vicinity. Not that he’s paying attention or anything. He wonders if he can find out if the school’s uniforms mandates gakurans. Hmm. He’ll have to ask Hazue if he can find out. One of the schools still left on the list is Seigaku. Interesting.
Not that he wants to find out … or anything.
Another Tuesday rolls in. Kaidoh is feeling good for some reason. Like he’s looking forward to something, feels kind of excited. Maybe he’s just really happy to go running. Perhaps. He has asked Hazue to investigate which middle schools wears gakurans, and on the list, only six middle schools remain. He keeps the list in his pocket, right next to the annoying MP3-player. He doesn’t know why he does it, he just does it.
He huffs and puffs as he runs towards Mos Burger, and as always, slows down his pace. Dark blue eyes flicker over to the window, and what’s waiting for him is a big toothy grin. The boy’s laughing again. Kaidoh really wishes he could hear it, it’s so mystifying when he can’t hear any sounds, but still see his shoulders shake and his mouth move. Then he sees the tennis bag seated next to him, but it’s mostly out of view, and Kaidoh can’t make out the words. He gives up after he’s almost passed the entire window, and looks back at the boy again, being inconspicuous.
He’s looking at him too, their eyes making a visible connection, and Kaidoh swears he can see sparks flying off.
Kaidoh narrows his eyes, almost as if he’s glaring, and jerks his head away, storming off.
Oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god—he looked at him again! Kaidoh’s ears are positively glowing red now. What is he going to do if he keeps catching him staring? It’s already super embarrassing he does it, but even more so when he gets caught in the act!
Why does he do it anyway? Why do his eyes keep looking over at that window to see if he’s there?
Kaidoh doesn’t know the answer, but he does know that he wants to keep being a stranger to that boy. To be a random passerby. He’s going to recognize him now … he’s seen Kaidoh running at least three times now, that’s bound to stick in someone’s memory, right? Great, now he’ll know his running route … but for some reason, Kaidoh isn’t as nervous as much as he is eager and glad. He sort of feels a bit satisfied that the boy will remember him now, he thinks. He hopes.
No, he doesn’t hope! He can’t remember him! It’ll be so embarrassing if he catches Kaidoh looking again!
He’ll stop running there. Yeah. He can do that. Never see that boy again, never see that goofy happy smile on his face, or watching him eat in delight, or see him laugh, or watch him clumsily hit his head under the table, or—what the hell is he thinking? This is too much … this can’t continue, it needs to stop.
Kaidoh comes home feeling drained and exhausted, and it’s not because his training menu is extremely harsh. He digs his hand into his pocket, and pulls out the sheet of paper, as well as the MP3-player, and tosses it onto his bed. He sits down next to it, sighing, carefully examining the list of schools still left. He reaches for it, fingers grazing across the paper, before he takes it and crumbles it up into a ball, and tosses it in the bin in the corner of his room. He doesn’t need to do this, this is borderline stalking, and it’s making him feel sick to his stomach.
The sleek black MP3-player is still sitting on his bed. Looking as if he had just received it yesterday, even if that was over two months ago. Kaidoh doesn’t need that stupid thing. He doesn’t need friends. All he needs is his training, that’s all he wants.
And now he’ll have to come up with a new route for Tuesday; he’s not going to go back. Besides, he was getting bored of that route anyway.
The way his fingers curl up in his blanket, tying it into a knot, suggests otherwise.
Now he’s plotted out a new route for Tuesday. It’s in some random neighborhood. Nice and quiet, away from the busy street he used to go (but not that far either), Kaidoh thinks he’ll like this one a lot more. He even goes earlier, almost right after he finishes his own school. He quickly goes home, gets rid of his uniform, and dresses himself in his regular sporting gear; tank top, shorts, and a bandana. He’s good to go. This is his new Tuesday. He feels this weird knot in his stomach, but chalks it up to simply being nervous for trying out a new route. It doesn’t have to do with anything else. Nothing at all.
The neighborhood is quiet, though he does see a lot of students coming out from school and walking back home. Kaidoh tries to avoid them as much as possible; he knows the kind of name calling he gets when his own classmates see him running, he doesn’t want to experience that again.
This new route feels a bit strange to him. He feels even more out of place than he did on a busy street. It’s weird. Why does it feel so off? He doesn’t even feel that happy from his run either. It’s kind of lackluster. He looks down for most of the route, until his head perks up when he hears quite a lot of noises. He can hear balls being rallied back and forth; they’re tennis courts. Kaidoh looks up, mildly intrigued, and notices a set of tennis courts splayed alone the street. Oh, it seems to be part of a school, Kaidoh wonders which one it is.
He doesn’t have to wonder long, because he sees a bunch of boys in blue and white jerseys standing on the courts. Every single one of the jerseys has SEIGAKU stitched on the back, as well as front. Kaidoh stops; so this is Seigaku? Well, what do you know … they’re actually in the middle of training. It sort of looks nice. Kaidoh crosses the street to get a closer look, interested in how they run the tennis club that generated all that gossip.
“Come on, Echizen!” Kaidoh hears a boyish voice whine.
“Unless you’re treating me, I won’t go,” says another.
Kaidoh sees the two figures up close at the fence. One of them is short, wearing a white baseball hat. The other is tall and has spik—oh shit.
Immediately, Kaidoh ducks behind a trashcan, his heart leaping a thousand miles in his throat. His entire face is bright red simply from seeing him again. That boy, the boy from Mos Burger. He’s there. He’s really there. And this time it’s not a glass window that’s separating them, but a fence in which he can clearly hear his voice.
“Come on Echizen, I’m broke this week, you know I can’t pay for your share,” whines the boy some more.
Kaidoh awkwardly continues to stay behind the trashcan, back pressed firmly against the metal. He can’t come out now, people would notice! He’d notice!! And that’s the last person Kaidoh wants to notice!
“Momo-senpai, I’m not going with you unless I actually get to eat some burgers.”
“Ec-hi-zen! Do it for your senpai!”
His heart is still burning calories in his throat, it feels like it’s on fire. Momo-senpai huh. So his name is Momo … what a weird name. Maybe it’s short for something. But Kaidoh’s glad to finally put a name to the face, and weirded out by accidentally stumbling across the middle school he attends.
If he wasn’t a stalker already, then he certainly is now. God, this is way too embarrassing. And he’s hiding behind a trashcan like a weird creep! Listening in on their conversations!
“Gross. Ask Kikumaru-senpai to go with you if you want to go so badly. I’m not going to indulge your perverted habits any longer.”
“What did you say, you stupid brat!? Whose perverted fantasies, huh!?”
“I said habits, not fantasies, that was your own conclusion.”
“Whatever—I don’t have them! I just want to go eat burgers!”
From what Kaidoh can conclude, the shorter one with the cap is the friend he’s always with. And right now, they seem to be talking about going to Mos Burger. Apparently, Momo really likes burgers. Kaidoh feels a bit weird for using his name already, he’s been nameless to him for so long. He wonders what his full name is …
“Fine, I’ll just go alone then, after practice is over. I won’t take you out again next time!”
A sudden sense of urgency creeps inside of Kaidoh’s stomach. He’s going to Mos Burger. Alone. With that sad look again on his face, and Kaidoh won’t even be there, because he stubbornly changed his route, and now they met up again by sheer accident (not that Momo noticed), and Kaidoh doesn’t know what to do anymore. Instead, he gets up from his hiding position, and slinks away unnoticed. When he’s out of sight, he sprints with all his might to Mos Burger.
He waits on the corner, out of breath, yet still buzzing with this new founded energy. Everything suddenly feels electric to him, like he’s being repeatedly zapped, over and over again, and he can’t seem to sit still or wait.
Kaidoh wants to see him again. The boy named Momo. Passing by the window as usual, in that small moment of time, Kaidoh can look at him and then run away before the boy can do anything about it. Because he’s a big fat coward. Kaidoh doesn’t know what would happen if he didn’t run, if he lingered around, or god, even waved to him. All those thoughts are so utterly embarrassing, but Kaidoh can’t stop thinking of the possibilities either.
He waits until it’s five PM. He’s been hiding out around the corner, afraid of being spotted. His heart clenches tight in anticipation. Then he takes one step forward, and another, and keeps going until he’s at his jogging pace. Each step in tune with his beating heart which is driving him mad right now.
Mos Burger comes up in his view, and suddenly he’s having second thoughts. What if he recognizes him again? What if he saw him at the tennis courts after all? Should he turn back and never walk by again? Should Kaidoh look? Should he even run by? So many questions—Kaidoh doesn’t know if he has the courage to do it, but his feet are so heavily trained and running on auto-pilot. He has no choice but to do it, but to run by.
Momo better be there, he thinks. Kaidoh will be so disappointed if he’s not sitting there.
But he is.
And this time, his attention is on Kaidoh right away, his sad looking face springing up immediately into a much more cheerful look once he sees Kaidoh. This makes his heart burn, and Kaidoh sneers at the boy, turning his head to look away, but he can’t help how his eyes gravitate back to him again. He’s still watching Kaidoh. He sees him looking back.
And then Momo smiles at him. Sitting up straight, and flashing him a genuine, acknowledging smile.
If rainbows could ever be felt, Kaidoh’s pretty sure what one must feel like right about now. He’s just about exploded in colour in his face, and quickly escaped the scene before it could become any worse.
He smiled. He smiled, he smiled—he smiled at Kaidoh.
Kaidoh feels a thousand emotions surge through him. Ranging from fear, to terror, to happiness, to confusion. One thing he knows for sure; he wants to see Momo smile at him again. This is something he simply cannot deny anymore, that he has become intrigued with the boy eating burgers, and that he wants to continue seeing him. Find out more about him. And to make sure he never looks sad again, because his smiles are worth a million. Kaidoh can feel his own wall crumble down just at the memory of it.
It’s time to listen to Mimi-chan’s advice.