Masaomi wasn't usually one prone to lateness. One of the only useful lessons, of few, that his father taught him was to always be punctual. There was no faster way to make yourself unappealing to coworkers or higher-ups than to be late.
But he was anyways, as he found himself dashing to school on Monday morning with a piece of toast shoved in his mouth and one hand combing through his hair while the other attempted to tie his tie.
The squeak of his sneakers (still damp from running home in the rain) was painfully loud in the empty hallways, and he sighed in relief when he finally reached the door to his classroom. Wiping the bread crumbs from his mouth and futilely trying to fix his slovenly tie, he inched the sliding door open.
Only to witness a ruckus.
Everyone was chatting noisily while the teacher furiously scrawled whatever they were saying across the board. One girl was debating with a boy across the room heatedly, while another boy was trying to convince a girl about something that had to do with Naruto. Masaomi's eyes zeroed in on Mikado, who was sitting silently in his desk with a slightly helpless look.
Seeing as the teacher was busy, Masaomi snuck in and sat quickly in his desk, setting his back down as he asked Mikado, "What's going on?"
"Ah! Planning school festival."
"We need food idea. Class chosen as…ano…eat room?"
"Restaurant?" Mikado nodded quickly.
"Hai! We make clothes…costumes! Special food."
"So…like a theme café?"
"Um…like…" Masaomi dug into his bag and pulled up his Japanese/English dictionary app on his cell. "Er… O tēma ni shita kafe."
"Er…" He tapped the touch screen's search bar. What…ideas…so far. "Kore made ni nani no aidea?"
"Nartuo, animal, robot, yaoi…" Mikado blushed.
"Yaoi?" Masaomi scrolled down the Y list. "That's not in here."
Mikado didn't answer, and instead chose to watch the teacher write frantically. Masaomi looked back through his dictionary.
"How about celebrities? Um… yūmeijin."
There was the warmth again, bubbling up at the sight of Mikado's eyes widened in surprise, lip corners lifting into a smile. "Good idea, Kida-kun!"
Mikado turned to the front, relaying the idea to the exhausted teacher. Everyone in the class silenced as he spoke. Masaomi and Mikado waited nervously until one boy exclaimed his agreement, followed by many others. The foreigner wasn't sure if it was because the idea was actually good, or because Mikado was adorable and everyone always seemed to listen to him and have sparkles in their eyes whenever he spoke.
"Kida-kun," the teacher called out, and he looked up. "You and Mikado's idea, you two can be the leaders!"
The teacher sat back, quite smug with himself as Mikado slumped and groaned. Great, he thought. Even more work on my plate.
This was it. The moment where Masaomi would finally get to peer into the habitat of one Ryuugamine Mikado.
He steeled himself as Mikado pulled out his keys. It had been with much enthusiasm and awe that Masaomi had accepted Mikado's offer to walk home with him after school to work on the festival idea. Mikado, as determined as he was to help Masaomi learn Japanese, didn't waste any time on the way there, quizzing his verbs and teaching him vocabulary.
The door lock clicked. Masaomi stepped into the apartment after Mikado, heart beating loudly in his ears. He politely slipped out of his high-tops in the doorway, preferring to stand there and absorb the surroundings while Mikado moved to the side to make tea.
What struck him first was that it was small. There was basically one room, with a futon pushed to the side. To the immediate left, through a kind of half-separating wall, there was a shoddy sink with a small window above, a short cupboard beside it holding a two-burner gas table, the kind that Masaomi's friends used to bring camping to fry their bacon. The parallel wall had a pair of sliding doors, probably leading to some kind of a bathroom or closet. The only redeeming feature of the tiny home, if there were any at all, was the rather modern computer sharing a desk with several books underneath a second large window.
"Kida-kun, Green Tea?" The small boy asked, looking up at the blonde as he set the full kettle onto the burner.
"Uh…Hai!" Masaomi punched himself inwardly. It didn't matter where Mikado lived, because one day they'd be living together in his apartment anyways!
'Cause they sure as hell wouldn't be living in Mikado's.
"So…I don't know any Japanese celebrities," Masaomi said as they two sat together a few minutes later, blowing on their tea with Mikado's notebook open between the two of them on the desk.
"Ah, no worry. I do." Mikado immediately started scribbling down names. Arashi, AKB48, Hanejima Yuuhei, Ruri Hijiribe…a bunch of people he'd never heard of. And who called themselves AKB48?
"Girl group," Mikado replied to the question Masaomi didn't realize he'd said aloud. "Yonjuuhachi
"Yonjuuhachi…? Wait, fourty-eight? There are fifty-eight girls in one group?"
"Hai," Mikado replied absentmindedly as he added a few more names to the tail of the list.
"We don't even have that many girls in class!"
"They choose, ne? Can be any girl."
"…I guess," Masaomi sat back on his haunches as he took another sip of the tea that would've been only mediocre, had it not been prepared by Mikado's hands. Hell, even Hákarl would be good if he made it.
"So…who are you gonna be?" Masaomi tried to visualize Mikado as a Japanese idol.
It didn't work.
Mikado shrugged as he booted up the computer, looking at a few pictures before adding UVERworld and Tokyo Girls' Style to the list. Masaomi pointed at a photo of a man with an astonishing amount of makeup, hair dyed in streaks and sticking up everywhere. "Are you gonna go as one of those…visual kei singers?" Masaomi started to laugh out loud at the thought of such a reserved, small boy wearing black lipstick and shoes with platforms taller than he was.
Mikado sighed as he watched the blonde, but under the smaller boy's unimpressed gaze he only laughed harder. Two full minutes later and he was rolling around on the floor, tears forming in their ducts and face flushing brilliantly. "Oh god! Oh god I'm pissing! Hahahahaha! My kidneys!"
This continued for another two minutes before Mikado decided to end the teasing. "Kida-kun?"
Perking at his name, Masaomi sat up and gasped to catch his breath, wiping stray mirthful tears from his eyes. "Hai?" Snigger. "Nan desu ka?"
Mikado was smiling cutely at him, but Masaomi could spot a mischievous glint in his eyes. "Masaomi is from America, ne? Should dress as American celebrity."
Masaomi's brain instantly leapt to thoughts of all the hot blondes he could play. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Chris Pine…It was foolproof! Mikado would definitely fall for him when he was holding him in his arms, promising to beam him up to ride in his space ship…
"Definitely! Hai! But who should I go as?"
He should've known when Mikado gave him that devilish smirk. That sudden change in personality from the shy, adorable Mikado he knew should've tipped him off.
It didn't really matter in the end anyways, though. How could he say no to the person he was in love with when they looked almost – dare he say it – sexy? Especially Mikado. There was no denying him. Masaomi had a sneaking suspicion that even if he hadn't fallen for that malicious grin, Mikado would've pulled out the big guns next: the puppy dog eyes. And no one on the face of the planet would be able to survive those.
And so he found himself in the middle of his own downfall, serving food grudgingly and costumed in the most outrageous, uncomfortable, and conspicuous outfit he'd ever worn in his entire life.
Lady Gaga's bubble dress.
Apparently, Japanese people did know Lady Gaga. And her fashion exploits. And they enjoyed cross-dressing.
And they were sadists.
Or maybe just Mikado.
It was a week after he'd visited Mikado's apartment for the first time (and got his cell phone number, finally, that just made him want to clutch his phone and hiss my preciousssss~!). He had snuck into school early to change, wishing that he wasn't such a pushover for Mikado's goddamn face as he slipped off his uniform in the washroom.
He felt ridiculous. No, more than ridiculous. He felt like a clown that moonlighted as a drag queen. He was wearing makeup, for god's sake! He'd watched a tutorial on YouTube to apply it before he left for school, and had to pull up his hood and tighten the strings, then wear heavy shades just in case anyone happened to glance underneath!
Masaomi stared at himself in the mirror, lipstick and eyeliner and blush and a scowl. He let out a sigh. This was for Mikado. And…it wasn't like the teen had to see him anyways. If he planned it right, he could be in all the places Mikado wasn't. And his shift didn't start until noon, so if he asked to take a break right then he would be able to avoid him.
And the finishing touch, he thought, pursing his lips in determination as he pulled out the last piece of his costume from his backpack. He pulled it onto his head. Took a deep breath. Looked up.
And let out a yelp.
It wasn't that he was ugly. Or that the platinum blonde bob wasn't his colour. Or that the bubble dress was too transparent and showed off his junk. Or that the fake eyelashes were glued to the wrong place.
It was the opposite.
He looked like a girl.
A hot girl.
A younger Lady Gaga, except terrified and with blindingly pale legs.
Salt on the wound.
No! Masaomi shook his head resolutely. You're doing this because you love Mikado and you are not a wimp! Learn a lesson from Lady Gaga and show them that you own this goddamn outfit!
And so he did.
He stepped into the classroom, ignored the gawks from class familiars wearing their trendy blazers and skirts, grabbed a waiter notebook, and walked up to ask a dumbfounded customer's order.
With a goddamn smile.
"Go yōken o dōzo?" He asked politely. The shocked upperclassmen kept gawking. Masaomi's eye twitched. Someone in the corner was pulling out a camera phone.
Masaomi crossed his arms, and the comical sound of the plastic bubbles squeaking against each other must've brought him back to his senses.
"Ah! Hai!... Ryokucha to dango wa, shite kudasai."
"Is that really Kida-kun?" People whispered as he passed. Ignore, ignore, ignore!
Giggles were starting in the corners of the room. He shot a glare at one kid dressed as a visual kei member. You have nothing to tease about, Mr. Hair Extensions and Platform Boots!
More people were getting out their phones. The teacher supervising from the corner was wiping his glasses clean in disbelief. Customers were buzzing with amused conversation. The girl working at the food area was too busy grinning and taking a video to fill the order.
Sticks and stones, sticks and stones, he reassured himself as he glared at another giggling girl with a cell phone camera out.
"Excuse me?" He asked the food girl. She was too busy texting, doubtlessly sending the clip to everyone she knew. "Miss?"
He steeled himself and snapped, "Fine!", before pouring the tea and grabbing the homemade dango himself, then spinning defiantly on his heel to set the plate and glass down on the twelfth-grader's table.
"Here you go, have a nice day~!" He said sweetly, though his eyes were livid. If they didn't have the decorum to at least attempt to hide their enthusiastic photo-taking, he didn't have to have the decorum to speak a language they could understand!
"Bésame el culo, señor!"
Oh yes, that look of utter confusion but vague knowledge that he had been insulted on the upperclassmen's face was enough to make Masaomi glad he had dragged himself through the first year of Spanish class (the only class he'd ever come close to failing, save 'interacting with other children' in kindergarten…but nevermind about that).
Eventually (eveeennntualllyyyy…) the keenness over Masaomi's new look died down, and Masaomi was able to carry out the majority of his shift in relative peace, safe the occasional depraved otaku asking for a picture with him, claiming he was 'super moe' and 'just like a Vocaloid', whatever the hell that meant.
Until Erika showed up.
With Walker, Togusa, and Kadota in tow.
The moment her eyes landed on him, she let out a squeal of glee and darted over to him, speaking quickly about something in Japanese that he couldn't catch between her insane shrieks and hysterical jumping and flailing.
Walker's smile had fell for the first time since Masaomi had met him, Togusa a little disgusted, and Kadota had one brow raised as if he were asking, Do I really want to know?
Masaomi just sighed and went along as Erika had him pose for her photos. He was scared that excited glint in her eyes would quickly turn homicidal if he refused anything she asked.
This could not get any worse. Masaomi groaned inwardly as Erika went off on another tangent about 'yaoi' and 'somethingsomethingkawaii!'
And of course, seeing how lucky Masaomi had been thus far in the day, it only got better, as he found himself smacking his palm to his forehead for speaking too soon.
Because in the doorway stood a smirking Orihara Izaya, red eyes flashing like those of a nightmare demon.
"Masaomi! Who knew you were such a big fan of the Mother Monster," Izaya grinned as he stepped closer.
Masaomi scowled. This man was clearly taunting him. "Well, it's just for the day. And I'm a waiter. So what can I get you?"
"Hmmm," Izaya put his finger to his chin in mock thought. "I'll have some otoro, please~!
"We don't have that," Masaomi snapped. The chafing of the plastic-y dress against his skin was getting irritating.
"Then I guess I'll have some tea. I had lunch already, anyways."
"Wait…lunch?" Masaomi looked up at the clock. 11:55. Shit!
"Something wrong, Masaomi?" Izaya taunted, and Masaomi had a feeling he knew full well what was making him so panicked.
"Uh…sayonara!" He said to the teacher quickly, darting out the door before the man could say anything.
He swiftly stalked down the hall, trying to be inconspicuous, but a trail of camera clicks and pointed fingers followed him wherever he went.
And he knew Mikado would be here any minute!
Shiiiit! He growled in his mind, a mantra of sorts. Shit, shit, shit-shit-shit!
"Kida-kun!" His head whipped around. Mikado was heading over, head trying to peek over the many people between them in the hallway. No!
His eyes darted over the walls, looking for any kind of door to conceal him, any way he could get away!
He saw a flag.
Was he desperate enough, though?
Gagging his voice of reason, Masaomi snatched the flag pinned to the wall, ignoring the ripping sound as he pulled it around him, long and tall enough to cover the whole bubble dress. Just when Mikado was about to see him over the shoulders of parents and graduates crowding the hall, he snatched off the wig and shoved it – where else? – down the front of the dress.
No rest for the wicked. Because Masaomi could only be breathless when Mikado finally caught up.
He was…oh my god.
The boy in front of him wasn't the timid boy he met on his first day of school.
This was a bona fide idol, wearing a slimming grey suit with that tapered in all the right places, shiny heeled loafers, and a fedora that cast a mysterious shadow over the top of his face. The handkerchief in his pocket was as blue as his eyes.
"Kida-kun…this is your costume?" Mikado tilted his head like a confused puppy, and Kida caught his reflection in the window. He looked like a giant, lumpy pimple. With messy hair.
Yeah, wooing Mikado. That's how it's done. Good job.
"Uh…it's a surprise?" Masaomi said lamely. "Erm…you'll see later."
"Hai," Mikado smiled. "For show, ne?"
"…Show? What show?" Mikado's brows furrowed at his answer, and he was about to reply when one of their classmates walking past interrupted them.
"Kida-kun!" And then something about following him.
"What? What for?" Masaomi gave a confused look to Mikado, who only had an epiphany look on his face mixed with an apologetic grimace.
"Ah…show. Dance…sing. For all school."
His brain had turned to ice.
Or why else could Masaomi not formulate proper thoughts?
"You…you…" Masaomi stammered.
"Sumimasen! I forgot tell you! Sumimasen!" He bowed quickly.
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Well, aren't you coming?" He was starting to be dragged away now.
"No! Working here! I come see show! Sumimasen! Ganbatte!"
I was wrong, Masaomi thought has he was dragged down the hall by his female classmate. It can get much, much worse.
This is it.
Masaomi…did not know how to dance.
Back in America he'd always gotten by on jokes and a few jerky moonwalks. Nothing too serious. People could admire a class clown, and were blind to shortcomings hidden beneath witticisms.
But here he was, in desperate need of dancing skill.
Because it seemed, as Mikado had neglected to tell him along with the vital information that they would perform a song and dance in front of the whole school, that all the other performers from their class had learned the complicated dance already and were reviewing it one last time.
"We're on next!" He deciphered from one of the girls' quick Japanese, and gave a gulp.
Masaomi had followed the movements as best he could in the practice. His elbows were awkward. He couldn't move his legs more than a few inches apart in this dress. His synthetic hair was getting in his face. There was no flag to hide him now.
It was like the cliché grade school dream coming true.
And now he could hear the crowd clapping (how big were they? It sounded like a lot of people! What was he going to do?).
And now they were being ushered on stage.
And now he was standing behind the group in a straight line, hidden for only a moment until the music started.
And now the stage lights were blinding him.
And now the beat started.
And now everyone was fanning their arms to the side, one after the other.
And now Masaomi was the only one left to do the move, and he desperately tried to bend farther than ten inches among the plastic spheres.
And now a girl was singing while he tried to imitate everyone's smooth movements.
Point the toe. Thrust the hand. Spin, now!
And now he was trying to sing backup with everyone in lyrics he didn't understand.
And now he was squeezing his eyes shut, because he didn't want to chance seeing Mikado in the crowd.
And now he bumped into someone, nearly knocking her over like a human airbag.
And now he was trying not to wobble as he stood on one foot.
And now the girl was belting the last note.
And now the music ended.
And now Masaomi opened his eyes.
And looked out to where he knew Mikado would be watching.
And even as Erika snapped endless photos of him, the flash blinding him and probably making him look like a derpy deer caught in headlights; even as Walker grinned like that stupid Bleach character; even as Izaya smirked evilly and the cogs were visibly turning in his mischievous head; Masaomi couldn't bring himself to regret this.
Because behind them all, standing at the window in his slim-fitting suit, was an elated Mikado laughing harder than anything he'd ever seen, tears gathering at the corners of his eyes, doubling over and clutching his stomach, the sound brightly hopeful in the air, somehow raised above all the clamour of the cheers and claps of the faceless crowd.
And it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
Hákarl is...eughghgh. Read about it here: http:/satwcomic(dot)com/nordics-like-fish
School festivals in Japan usually take place around late October - early November. So you have a vague idea of what time this story is at. Autumn/winter currently.
Thank you to people who reviewed! Especially those who gave me some idol names all those chapters ago. And anon on kinkmeme, who reminded me that Kasuka is, indeed, an idol in Durarara. *FACEPALM* I can't believe I forgot! And his girlfriend too. T.T
Go yōken o dōzo. How may I help you?
Ryokucha to dango wa, shite. Tea and dango, please
Bésame el culo, señor. Kiss my arse, sir ...more or less. The sentiment is there, even if the grammar isn't. I don't know Spanish either, and Masaomi doesn't know French so :S
EDIT: Thank you kindly to paradisiere who let me know that AKB48 has 48 girls *facepalm*