"Legal?!" Koutarou hisses, looking at Bon like he's gone out of his mind, "Forget illegal, that's insane!"
Bon frowns, glancing up at Koutarou and Ryouta (which is a bit of a challenge, the way they're lined up practically on top of one another to peer through the doorway of Kinzo and Shishimaru's locker room) before directing his gaze back to the subject of their conversation. For the past week, Kinzo has been suspiciously absent from school, and all that Shishimaru does all day is sit alone in the space he usually shares with Kinzo, looking forlorn. Neither the rest of M4's attempts to be inclusive nor Araki's pep-talks have been able to lift the frown from his face, but while none of them are exactly great at being "friends" with only a few months' practice, they all agree in their own ways that no matter what else has gone down, Shishimaru is a member of M4, and therefore their friend, and therefore they can't just let things lie.
"I don't see why following him home would be such a bad idea," Bon insists, "if it's legal, and all. I could pay someone to do it."
"Only if it's someone you don't like that much," Ryouta replies dryly, quirking an eyebrow when Bon looks at him inquisitively.
"He means that Shishimaru'd snap their neck in a second if he thought they were a threat," Koutarou explains after a beat, twitching with what seems to be amazement at Bon's inability to think things through.
"If Kinzo doesn't get to them first," Ryouta adds darkly in a barely-audible mumble, but it's enough to make even Koutarou look uncomfortable, not to mention Bon. Still, despite his horrified expression at Ryouta's comment, Bon sets his jaw, staring at Shishimaru for another moment before taking a few steps back, out of the doorway, and gesturing for Koutarou and Ryouta to follow.
"He's M4," Bon asserts, the way he's been insisting for a week now, ever since Kinzo suspiciously stopped coming to school and Shishimaru began his long days of solitude. He might be really socially awkward, but Bon is determined to be a good friend these days, and despite their tough act, Ryouta and Koutarou don't really seem to have any complaints. "So we've gotta make sure he's okay, right?"
Koutarou rolls his eyes, but he's obviously caving. "…Araki's rubbing off on you," he mumbles, shoving his hands in his pockets and shrugging. "Well, what's your bright idea then, genius?"
"Look who's talking," comes distinctly from Ryouta's direction, but Bon is too deep in thought to notice Koutarou punching Ryouta in the arm in response. "We could give him money," he comments at length, causing both Koutarou and Ryouta to look up and frown.
"That's never worked for you before, you dumbass," Koutarou shoots back as Ryouta nods, his pokerface completely indecipherable. "What's next, are you going to suggest writing him a card, or something?"
Unfortunately, Bon's eyes light up at Koutarou's words in a way that makes Koutarou's eyes widen. "You can't be--" he starts, but "It's perfect!!" Bon announces. "Let's make him a card!"
Koutarou groans. "No way. That's so idiotic. He wouldn't even want a card!" He looks desperately to Ryouta for backup, but Ryouta only raises an eyebrow and shrugs.
"See? It's a great idea!" Bon exclaims, overflowing with enthusiasm. "Let's go get a card!"
"This is all your fault," Koutarou grumbles at Ryouta, but even as he speaks, he can't fight back a little bit of a smile.
At the end of the first week of Kinzo's absence from school, Shishimaru feels drained. It's not that he's really doing anything, really, certainly not doing anything different from usual. In the morning, he trudges to school and sits in homeroom before inevitably ditching most (or all) of the day in favor of hiding out in the locker room-- his and Kinzo's locker room. Sometimes, he just sits, sits and thinks about school and life in general, but school and life are things he shares with Kinzo, everything, he shares with Kinzo, and there's only so long before the emptiness of the sofa beside him and the thoughts of Kinzo are too much. Other times, he does pushups, sit-ups, or else punches the punching bag, but somehow, it all feels empty without Kinzo. You have to watch over the school while I'm gone, Kinzo had said, You're the leader when I'm not there, but Shishimaru doesn't feel like a leader. He feels lost, and alone, and weak, weaker with every pushup, with every sit-up, with every punch. He doesn't know what he's doing here, and he definitely isn't any sort of stand-in for Kinzo.
And then at the end of the day he rushes home again, eager to be reunited with Kinzo, eager to leave school and all the loneliness behind, but the evenings are too short, and before he knows it, it's morning again, rinse and repeat. It feels like an endless cycle of insecurity and solitude as the long hours of the day drip by only to wash away in mere moments once the sun goes down, and honestly, he doesn't know why he bothers to go to school anymore except that Kinzo urges him again and again, they're relying on you, and so he goes, even though he's fairly certain that no one's relying on him at all.
And so it goes on and on, feeling like all six months have gone by in one week and yet there are still six months ahead of him, until at the end of the first week, he arrives in the locker room and immediately notices something is off. There's something brightly coloured sitting on the sofa, and as always, as has been ingrained in him over the course of his life, his first reaction is to panic. Upon moving a little closer, however, he realized that it is, in fact a bright green stuffed alligator with what appears to be a card sitting in its lap.
Shishimaru frowns, perplexed, but gingerly picks up the card, glancing it over for anything suspicious before flipping it over to read the contents. He doesn't know what exactly he's expecting, but it certainly isn't what he finds.
We're your pals!!!!
LET'S FIGHT TOGETHER!!!!!!
We're not as weird as we look.
So don't be nervous.
We're M4, right?
We're your best friends! We're here for you! We want to help! Or at least hang out!
Let's go to the arcade together!
PS: The claw game alligator and the money are from me!
Shishimaru frowns, not even sure how to digest what he's just written, but when he lifts the alligator to inspect closer, something flutters to the ground, and Shishimaru glances down to see five ten-thousand yen bills now scattered around the floor. He gazes at them, perplexed; he's gotten more from Bon in the past, back when he paid to be in M4, back when he paid any time he was threatened. But somehow, this fifty-thousand seems like more money than Shishimaru's ever received before; somehow, the money and the alligator and the card feel like something that Shishimaru's never seen until this moment.
He looks around the room, around the space that he's always shared with Kinzo, the punching bag and the sofa and the old water bottles from months ago strewn about the floor with condom wrappers from two weeks prior. It feels like a second home, almost, the place he shares with Kinzo. But now Kinzo is out discovering a brave new world, and maybe, Shishimaru thinks, maybe it's time for him to do the same.
See you in six months he thinks as he looks around the room one last time before turning to go. After all, he has to see about that arcade date.