They weren't supposed to laugh—especially not his brother. It was bad enough that he had to go through with it, but they weren't supposed to crack up about it. Especially not his brother.
"It's not funny," Kouji growled, tying a bandana over his recently shorn hair.
"Yes, it is," Takuya replied.
Kouichi managed to stifle his laughter long enough to say, "It was getting too long. If school didn't make you cut it, Dad definitely would."
Kouji shook his head. "You're my brother. You're supposed to be on my side."
"Sorry," Kouichi said before another laughing fit took him over.
To be honest, it wasn't the haircut that was making them break into hysterics. It was simply his reaction to the whole thing. Kouji actually looked good with short hair, and he had cut his hair in the past, usually when he thought it was getting to be a hassle. But middle school was starting soon, and the dress code forbid boys with long hair. And if there was one thing Kouji couldn't stand, it was being ordered to do something. And if there was one thing that could get the remaining Legendary Warriors to break into uncontrollable, side-splitting laughter, it was seeing Kouji lose one of these fights.
Traitors, the whole lot of them.
"Okay, give him a break, guys," Izumi said, managing to calm down. "I had a hard time adjusting to the elementary school dress code when I first got back from Italy. We're all suffering through the middle school codes." Well, that was nice. Finally, someone was on his side.
"Can we just forget my haircut and go to lunch now?" he asked.
"Sure," Takuya agreed, and the others' laughter started to die down. "So, Tomoki, where's that restaurant you mentioned?"
"It should be a couple of blocks away," Tomoki replied, leading them out of the park. As they all started to walk off, Kouichi caught Kouji's look and shrugged with a grin still on his face. Traitor.
Kouji trailed at the back of the group, just so no one would be able to stare at the back of his head and the lack of a ponytail. Izumi, seeing that he was still in a bad mood, held back a little to talk with him.
"You're not still sulking about this, are you?" she asked.
He scowled. "I'm not sulking."
"Could have fooled me," she teased. A moment of silence passed; he wasn't rising to her bait. It was time to try a slightly more direct approach. "You know, you're not going to be able to wear that bandana at school either."
There were certain things the Legendary Warriors knew, and one of them was never to fight with Izumi—ever. They could have an argument with her going on for fifteen minutes and suddenly stop and stare for five more, wondering how they lost when they'd been winning before. It was a rule second only to never insinuating anything about her and romance. Once, Takuya had teased her when she needed to borrow Kouji's jacket for about a week straight. It ended with all four of the boys having to pay for a new jacket for her, and the others turning on Takuya incredibly fast. The drain on their wallets was far more compelling than shouts or threats of violence in getting them to behave. Thus, Kouji pulled off his bandana and stuffed it into his pocket, still scowling. Just because he was too smart to fight her, it didn't mean he had to be happy about it.
"Happy?" he asked.
"A little," she answered. "It would be better if you cheered up, though."
"I don't like being told what to do," he insisted. "You all know that."
"Funny, you didn't have that problem when we were in the Digital World."
"That's different. I either followed orders or the world was destroyed. Don't try and draw a comparison."
It was Izumi's turn to scowl. "I wasn't going to, you know! What's your problem with authority, anyway? You always act like it's the end of the world if someone tells you to do something."
"I do not act like it's the end of the world," he argued. "And I don't have a problem with authority."
"Oh really?" she asked. "Then why do you give Takuya and your parents a hard time about these things? You're acting like a child!"
Kouji gaped at her for a moment before palming his face. How had he fallen into her trap? He'd just gotten into an argument with her, and just like everyone else, he'd lost!
He groaned. "All right, okay? Maybe I am being immature about this."
"Don't push it. I'm admitting this much."
"All right," she agreed. "But why are you making such a big deal out of this? You've cut your hair before—you even admitted that you sometimes like it shorter. It's not because we all laughed—we started laughing because you were acting like this."
"I just don't like not being given a choice in matters, that's all." In a lower voice, so that no one ahead of them could hear, he added, "Do you blame me after what my family's been through?"
"I see your point," she confessed. "So were you mad when we were all taken to the Digital World?"
"Not really," he admitted. "We could first choose whether or not we wanted to follow the message, and I'll admit I was a little annoyed with Ophanimon for being cryptic about everything, but it usually turned out to be for the best. It led me to my Spirit. It led me to Kouichi. I helped save the world and end a ten-year-long family feud."
"You got five good friends out of it too," she added with a grin.
Not one to admit such a thing, he shrugged noncommittally. His friends always knew what he meant, anyway. "After all that, I can overlook being led around the Digital World without any idea what I'm doing."
"Izumi! Kouji!" Junpei called out from ahead. "We're getting a table; hurry up!"
"Coming!" Izumi called back.
As they sped up to try and catch up with the others, Kouji realized he'd lost yet another one against her. And this time, he didn't think he minded so much. No reason to get upset over small, pointless things like that, after all.
As always, I don't own Digimon Frontier—it's the property of Toei Animation, distributed by Disney. The title was shamelessly taken from Shakespeare. This was written for the Frontier round of the Digimon Friendship Challenge.