Summary: Dick and Diego, best friends in tenth grade, on Valentine's Day. First published on part thirteen of the Phoenix Wright Kink Meme on livejournal.
Disclaimer: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney belongs to Capcom.
It was unusually warm for February – warm enough that Dick Gumshoe shrugged off his beloved green hoodie while he waited for the school bus. He tugged his T-shirt down a little over his belly, wondering idly if it had shrunk in the wash or if he'd just put on weight this week. He probably should've chosen something different to wear, but what hall monitor could pass up a shirt that said 'Respect My Authoritah'?
The bus pulled in beside him and he clambered up, ignoring the gang of smirking boys near the front and their snide murmurs of "Dick", and walked halfway down the aisle to where his best friend was waiting.
Diego Armando took his legs off the seat next to him so that Dick could sit down. Diego was feeling the heat too – he was wearing a red vest over a black T-shirt, and black jogging pants. Dick slid his backpack under the seat, balled up his hoodie, and rested it in his lap.
"Hey, pal," he said.
Diego sat up and looked at him closely. "Aw, Ricardo, you shaved off your beard!" he exclaimed in disappointment.
Dick shrugged and grinned sheepishly. "Heh heh, well, it wasn't much of a beard to start with," he said. "I figured if I stick with shaving it for a while, it'll grow back stronger."
"Hm." Diego stroked the patch of dark hair on his own chin. "Maybe I should shave mine, too."
"Up to you, pal," Dick replied. "I mean, if I could grow hair like that, I wouldn't." He scratched at the sticking plaster on his jaw. "But if you do, use an electric razor."
Diego chuckled and held out his hand. "Come on, let's see your English essay."
Dick reached under the seat and rummaged in his backpack. He passed the pages to Diego and waited while the other boy read through them.
"This is good work, Ricardo," Diego said. "It's a B for sure."
Dick ducked his head and blushed. "Really? I felt good about it but not 'B' good, you know?"
"Yeah," Diego replied, handing it back to him. "Trust me, this is at least a B. You've really improved."
Dick put the assignment back in his backpack, grinning like crazy. He and Diego had met because of his poor grades in English. It was back in October, a few weeks into tenth grade. Dick's father, concerned about his son's failing grade, had contacted the principal to find a solution.
"I'm afraid his teacher can't devote extra time to him outside of class, Mr. Gumshoe," the principal said. "There are certain liability issues involved…a young female teacher and a male student spending time alone –"
"Then what're you gonna do?!" Dick Gumshoe Sr. demanded to know. "The boy's not dumb and he's not lazy. He does all his homework, pal, I see to that personally. If his grade doesn't come up I'm holding you and this school responsible!"
Dick stared at his shoes, wishing the ground would open up and swallow him. Sure, he did his homework, but his father rarely read it through – he was happy if there were words on a page. Dick hadn't the courage to admit that often he just didn't understand the questions and prompts.
"Well, we've managed to find a tutor within the student body," the principal explained. "He has very good English grades and is happy to take the time to help your son out." She got up and opened the door leading out of her office, ushering father and son outside. Sitting across the corridor from her office was a wavy-haired Latino boy with the beginnings of a goatee.
"This is Diego Armando, Mr. Gumshoe," the principal explained. "He's in the tenth grade and he'll tutor your son."
Diego looked up and flashed a wide grin at Dick's father. "Hola, señor."
Dick Sr. nearly said something. He turned to the principal and in a hushed voice insisted that they return to her office. Left alone, Dick wandered over to Diego and sat down.
"You must be Richard," Diego said, offering Dick his hand.
"Uh, yeah," Dick replied self-consciously. He'd been trying since the start of the term to get people to call him 'Richard' rather than 'Dick'. The experiment was largely a failure – most people had ignored him, and the few who spat 'Dick' at him like it was a bad word had found a way to make 'Richard' sound even worse. "About that…you can just call me 'Dick'." He looked at the floor. "Most people do."
"Hm." Diego leaned back, stroking the uneven patch of hair and stubble on his chin. "So tell me, Ricardo, what about English class is causing you trouble?"
The unexpected nickname made Dick pause, unsure if the other boy was making fun of him. But he couldn't see any sneer or mockery in Diego's expression. Hesitantly, he began to explain about the problems he was having.
After-school tutoring quickly grew into rock-solid friendship, though at first Dick was wary – especially since Diego never called him anything except 'Ricardo'. But there was something about the way he rolled that first 'R'… no pejorative emphasis, like 'Hey, DICK', no mocking lilt like 'Riiiichard'. Shyly he'd admitted to his love of Bob Marley, and Diego responded by telling him his favourite singer was a Columbian musician called Juanes. Diego'd come across Dick's notebook of circuit diagrams for different gizmos he was working on, and while Dick was trying to laugh it off as a dumb hobby, Diego scratched his head in awe and wanted to know if they would really work. Dick didn't have many friends, and Diego was a good one. Now, by February, they were practically inseparable.
"Hey, Ricardo." Diego reached behind him and pulled out two Valentine's Day cards. "Got these in the mailbox this morning." He snickered and tapped one of them. "This one is so blue. If my mother found out, she'd kill me." He opened the 'blue' Valentine's Day card to re-read it. "I think it might be from a teacher," he said, frowning in alarm. He offered the card to Dick. "Have a look, tell me what you think."
"Uh, no thanks, pal," Dick said quickly, holding up his hands. "It sounds kinda private."
Diego shrugged and put the card away. "My breakfast coffee's wearing off." He reached into his backpack, took out a bottle of cola, and had a swig before offering it to Dick.
"Too early for me, pal," Dick replied. Diego shrugged and had another mouthful before putting the cola away again. Dick felt a little envious. He'd hacked his soda consumption right back to try to lose weight, while Diego drank that sweet stuff all the time and never put on a pound.
"So, how many cards did you get?" Diego asked.
Dick scratched his neck self-consciously and looked away. "Uh, none."
Diego tapped him gently on the jaw with his knuckles. "Hey, cheer up. The day is young."
Dick smiled in spite of himself. Diego was right; there was always hope.
The bus stopped to let another student on. Dick and Diego both fell silent as Lana Skye boarded the bus. She walked past them and both boys watched as she sat down, Diego kneeling up on his seat, Dick looking around the edge of his.
"Oh, baby," Diego hissed with a grin, sitting back down. "That Lana… I always need my Trapper Keeper when she's around." He butted Dick with his shoulder. "¿Comprende?"
"I've got a Valentine for her," Dick confessed in a whisper, a shy smile spreading across his face.
"Well go give it to her!" Diego whispered back. He knelt up on the seat again. "Hey, Lana!"
Dick grabbed Diego by the back of his vest and pulled him back down. "Shhh!"
"But she's right there!" Diego whispered.
"Yeah, I know, pal!" Dick hissed back. "So's everyone else! I don't wanna get knocked back with everybody watching."
"Ohhh," Diego replied. He mimed zipping his mouth closed.
"I'm just gonna put it in her locker later," Dick explained quietly.
Diego grinned. "Sounds good, Ricardo," he said. "Any other lucky ladies gonna get a love note from you?"
Dick blushed and rubbed his neck. "Maybe." He punched Diego in the arm. "I bet you've got a ton to pass out, huh pal?"
"Maybe," Diego replied, punching him back. They began to rough-house good-naturedly, Dick letting his shorter, lighter friend gain the upper hand, until the bus driver shouted at them to knock it off.
"Oh shut up, you old bag," Diego muttered, letting Dick out of a chokehold. He sat back down, checking his reflection in the window to make sure his hair wasn't too mussed. Dick smoothed down his clothes and gazed past Diego as the school came into view.
The bus pulled up and the students began to disembark. Diego slung his arm around Dick's shoulder as they walked into the building together. Dick smiled ruefully as the girls they passed straightened up, eyeing his friend.
"Your locker's gonna be full of cards by the end of first period, pal," he remarked.
"Pffff." Diego looked up at him and smiled. "Ricardo, they're looking at you, man."
If anyone else but Diego said something like that to him, Dick would take it as an insult. They were about the same age, but Diego was lean and toned from swimming and soccer. Despite taking up weightlifting a few months earlier, Dick was bulky and fat. Diego's thick, wavy hair did exactly as it was told; Dick's hair developed spikes and cowlicks even after half an hour with a brush, comb and styling gel. Dick's voice was still breaking and occasionally wobbled out of control. Diego's voice was smooth and deep. Height-wise though, Dick was ahead, for now – at six foot one he was a clear four inches taller than Diego.
Diego dropped his arm from Dick's shoulder and shot him with double-barrelled fingers. "I'll see you later." He paused to hitch up his baggy pants, then strode away towards his locker.
Dick went to start his shift as hall monitor. He took his sash from his locker, feeling a little rush as he put it on. He'd never admitted it to anyone, not even Diego, in case he gave the wrong impression, but he did get a small kick out of the authority the sash conveyed. Being able to flash a detective's badge would be so fucking cool. Not that that was the only thing that attracted him to a career in law enforcement, or the only reason he liked being a hall monitor. Dick took his responsibilities very seriously. He scanned the crowded hallway for any shoving matches or scrums at the lockers.
"Hey, kid, no running in the hall!"
His fellow hall monitor Angel Starr was the one who'd shouted. Dick spotted the offender tearing up towards him and stepped out in front of him. The boy slammed into Dick's bulk and Dick caught him as he fell backwards.
"See what happens when you run in the hallways, pal?" Dick asked, setting him back on his feet. "What if you'd hit someone smaller, huh?"
"Yeah, whatever," the kid muttered, dusting himself off.
"Yeah don't run in my hallway any more!" Dick corrected him. He stepped aside to let him pass. "Walk!"
The kid muttered something as he went by, but Dick heard it. "No wonder you don't have any friends."
Dick frowned, but shook the remark off as Angel approached him.
"Thanks, Dick," she said. They stood together, Angel leaning against the lockers, watching as the hallway emptied as students got to class. Then Angel spoke. "Say, you hang around with Diego Armando, right?"
"Yeah," Dick replied.
Angel played with her hair. "Does he have a girlfriend?"
Dick eyed her suspiciously. "Hey, I thought you already had a boyfriend!"
Angel shot him a contemptuous look. "Yeah, across town," she replied haughtily. "Besides, who says a girl can't have more than one?"
Dick folded his arms and looked away. "Well, Diego doesn't have a girlfriend right now," he mumbled. Not that Diego couldn't get one, if he wanted… but for some reason his friend seemed completely unaware of how attractive he was to the opposite sex.
"Good," Angel purred. She straightened up and gave him a wink. "See you later, Dick."
Dick waited till she was gone and the hallway was clear. Then he collected the small Valentine he'd made the previous night from his own locker, walked to Lana's locker, and pushed it through the slots.
With his shift as hall monitor over, the rest of the morning passed quickly. Dick confidently handed in his English assignment and received the previous week's paper in return. He couldn't stop a smile from spreading across his face when he looked at his marks – an essay Diego had called as a C+ bore a B- on the top corner. The only downside to the morning was the lack of a single Valentine in his locker.
Diego waved to him as he entered the lunchroom and Dick quickly collected a tray and joined his friend. A few minutes later, Angel joined them, scooting as close to Diego as possible.
"Hola, Ricardo," Diego greeted him.
Angel snorted. "Ricardo?"
Dick ignored her. "Hey, pal. Got a B- on last week's English assignment."
"Elevated handslap!" Diego exclaimed, raising his hand. Dick high-fived him with a grin and both boys went back to eating lunch. Angel picked at hers, more interested in Diego than her food.
"Hey cutie," she purred, reaching out to touch Diego's wavy dark locks. "Wanna be my other boyfriend?"
Diego brushed her hand away without looking up. "Hey señorita, off the hair." He turned to his friend. "What class do you have after lunch?"
Dick smiled. "Metal shop. You?"
"I have pointless and redundant Spanish class that my parents are making me take because it's an 'easy grade'," Diego replied, adding air quotes. "Never mind that I've already read Don Quixote in Spanish, apparently my grandmother Armando will haunt us all forever if I lose my fluency…"
As Diego continued to ramble, Dick noticed he was jogging one of his legs.
"Did you smuggle in one of those Toro Rosso energy drinks again?" he asked.
"Yes," Diego replied, looking down at his leg and then back up at Dick. "Yes I did."
Dick face-palmed. "Pal, those things give people heart attacks!"
"That's just scaremongering," Diego insisted. "They've only got the same amount of caffeine as three cups of coffee. Coffee never hurt anyone." He finished his lunch. "Anyway after WORTHLESS SPANISH CLASS I have Geography so that should even me out." He picked up his tray, too full of caffeine and nervous energy to sit still for the rest of lunch period, and got up. "See you later, Ricardo."
"See you, pal," Dick replied.
Angel watched Diego walk away, a dreamy look on her face. She glanced at Dick, who was eating jello, and her faraway smile turned into a mocking smirk.
"Ricardo?" she said again.
"Hey, he just calls me that," Dick said defensively. "It's not like I asked him to."
Angel held up her hands. "Hey, don't get me wrong, Ricardo's a nice name," she replied. She stood up and picked up her tray, delivering a parting shot as she started towards the bin. "Too bad you don't look like a Ricardo."
Dick stared into his jello and didn't want it any more.
Dick carefully checked the inside of his locker before he put his books away, and sighed. No Valentines. He'd suspected as much all afternoon. Here it was, the end of the day, and he doubted any of the girls were going to actually hand him one, in public, letting everyone know they liked the big awkward hall monitor with the stupid hair.
He looked up the hallway and saw Diego coming his way, holding about half a dozen colourful envelopes.
"Check it out," Diego said with a grin, fanning the cards in one hand. "That makes eight this year." Dick glanced at the cards and then turned his attention back to his locker. "How many did you get?"
Dick pretended to be re-organising his books.
Diego fell silent, biting his lip. Then he nudged Dick gently with his shoulder. "Hey, Ricardo, no need to lie just because you're afraid I'll be jealous –"
Dick lost his temper.
"Just quit it, will ya, pal?" he shouted. "Quit calling me Ricardo and quit pretending!" Other students were starting to gather around them, but he didn't care. "Girls don't like me! They probably never will! Meanwhile they swarm around you like you're made of sugar and – and you don't even notice!"
He slammed his locker shut, grabbed his backpack and stormed past a thoroughly stunned Diego and the murmuring peanut gallery.