Chapter 1: A Tell
Chapter 1: A Tell
“That’s about the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen.” You smirked, bumping Hado gently with your shoulder. She looked up from her book and grinned.
“I wonder if he knows he’s doing it.” She tilted her head at the dark-haired boy in the distance.
“Doubt it. He’d probably be embarrassed if he knew. He’s kinda shy, isn’t he?”
“A total chicken.” She replied bluntly. The boy in question was standing beside the big oak tree, shielded slightly by its shade, but still very obviously fawning over a girl who was talking to her friends. She was the quintessential popular girl, bubbly and charming to all. Izabel was her name, and she was a belle indeed. However, her beauty was merely skin deep, and it was known by most of the girls in the class that she had very shallow tendencies and fleeting relationships. You silently wished the poor earnest boy luck as you watched him pine for her from your spot on the grass.
Every time he would catch her eye, he would smile hopefully and blush, causing another cascade of flower petals to pour off the boy involuntarily, dissipating with a gust of wind.
“How sweet.” A few blew in your direction and you picked one up. You twirled the petal between your fingers, Tamaki’s affection in tangible form.
“They’re darker than they were last week.” Hado observed, furrowing her brows at the deeper shade of pink.
“Really? I wonder what that means.”
“Boy’s in deep. That’s what it means.” Hado replied. You chuckled before noticing Amajiki had moved from his spot. He had gathered up the courage and approached the group of girls.
“C-can I talk to you?” You heard his meek voice ask the queen bee of the group, leading her away.
“I thought you said he was a chicken.” You looked at her in appalled surprise. “Looks pretty brave to me.”
“A shocking development.” She leaned in close, not even attempting to hide her eavesdropping attempt. “I wonder what she’ll say.” You both watched as he pulled out an article of clothing.
“H-here. You uh- left this at school yesterday and I thought you’d want it back.” He handed the girl her sports jacket.
“Thanks, Tamaki!” She grinned, her sunny disposition blinding even from your distance.
“You’re welcome.” He mumbled, looking nervous as she put it on. She reached into the pocket, noticing an extra item. “Ah-er-um!”
“Is this yours?” She asked, holding out the sweet treat she found.
“Erm… it’s for you...” He cringed from embarrassment, as this was not part of his plan. He had expected her to discover it later, with him well out of sight. She smiled at the kind gesture, opening the package.
“We can share.” She offered, placing one piece between his lips and jogging back to her friends with a wave. He flushed crimson, blossoms spreading on the breeze.
“Wow. Tamaki’s got game!” You said victoriously, as you had been rooting for him the entire time. He turned, hearing you say his name a little too loudly. You both made awkward eye contact for a moment before he retreated, horrified that he’d gained an audience for this. “Uh…” You wanted to stop him but no words came out. However, once he was out of earshot, Hado rolled on the ground with laughter. “Oh, shut up, Nejire!”
Chapter 2: A Note
Chapter 2: A Note
You yawned in class the next day while the teacher announced the rules for nominating and voting for the Homecoming Court. It was never something that particularly interested you. You had plenty of friends but it’s not as if you were popular enough to be elected either way. Izabel was the shoo-in for sure and there was definitely several equally popular boys that would be eligible to become her king. Then they’d start dating, you’d see them plastered all over the yearbook together, and then they would inevitably break up, starting the cycle all over again next year.
“Make sure to have your votes in by Friday at the end of school. They’ll be counted and the votes will be announced at the game that night.”
Something caught your eye while the teacher had his back turned. Amajiki stealthily used his quirk to pass Izabel a note in class, taking care not to be caught. You hardly knew the boy, since he had only transferred here a few months ago, but it was evident that he became bolder by the day with every speck of attention the lovely girl gave to him. Izabel didn't write back, but fluttered her lashes at him, putting the note into her pocket. It warmed your heart to see romance blossom before your eyes… especially when literal blossoms were involved. You smiled, curiosity peaking, and decided you needed to know the contents of Tamaki’s note. You snuck around the corner of the school courtyard after class, overhearing her clique giggle together.
“Read it again.” One of the girls said. You assumed they were tickled by how delightfully pure and earnest it was.
“Dear Izabel.” Another girl snatched the note and read it aloud. “I really like spending time with you. I found your jacket yesterday, but I’m sorry I haven’t found your missing halo yet. Would you please go to Homecoming with me? Love, Tamaki.”
You internally squealed; Tamaki’s cavity-inducing sweetness definitely didn't disappoint your expectations. The other girls cackled too.
“How pathetic!” Izabel shrieked, and your smile suddenly disappeared. “What a loser!” Your heart sank.
“Totally.” One of Izabel’s flunkies piled on. “A dork like that needs to learn his place. He should know you’re out of his league.”
You clenched your fists in agitation. You hated fake girls like that. “So petty.” You mumbled, walking away from the group. It would just aggravate you more if you hung around and heard any more. On the walk home, their cruelty was eating at the back of your mind. It was none of your business but you couldn't stand to see injustice like this done. ‘What makes her so damn special?’ You wondered. ‘I don't see anything wrong with that Tamaki kid...’ It wasn't your place to interfere, but gosh dang-it, you were going to MAKE it your place! A hero wouldn't stand by and let mean things happen. It was settled, you were going to break the spell this witch had on Amajiki.
The next day came and you weren’t sure exactly how to talk to someone you didn't know very well, let alone ask him on a date. It wasn't a real date, as you didn't actually harbor feelings for this shy boy, but you figured redirecting any of his affections your way would spare him a lot of heartbreak from Izabel later. ‘It’s not like I wouldn't give him a fair chance though…’ Your thoughts drifted off on their own little tangent. ‘I mean he’s not ugly or anything. …And his ears are totally cute…’ You caught yourself smirking at the ground as you pondered it. You shook your head clear of that weird train of thought, approaching Tamaki’s lunch table. The only other one sitting there was Mirio Togata, as the two of them were an inseparable pair. You didn't mind though, as Togata was nothing but bubbly and pleasant. You knew he wouldn't judge what you were about to do.
“Hey.” You held up an awkward hand and the two boys looked up at you.
“How ya doing?” Mirio greeted brightly.
“Ah- good.” You gave a crooked smile. “Amajiki-kun… I wanted to ask you something…”
“Me?” He raised his eyebrows, looking surprised and a tad bit nervous.
“Er-yeah…” It wasn't until now that this felt like a dumb idea. You had only had a handful of encounters with Tamaki, one of them being the other day when you were awkwardly caught eavesdropping on his flirting attempt. ‘Yeah. This is weird.’ “Uh… I was wondering… would you maybe want to go to the Homecoming game with me?”
“Oh!” He looked down at his lunch with a pink blush. “Uh… I uh…”
“Sorry, F/N. Tamaki’s already been asked.” Mirio said, grinning widely as if you had just complimented his most prized possession.
“Really?” You smiled genuinely, just happy that his painful rejection you feared yesterday was circumvented.
“Yeah. Tamaki’s really popular today.” He slapped Amajiki on the back jovially.
“Well I’m glad to hear that. Congrats.”
“You just missed the chance. Izabel asked him this morning.” Your mood was struck by a looming cloud of uncertainty.
“Izabel?” You asked slowly, expression now uneasy.
“Mhm.” Mirio still appeared blissfully ignorant, but Tamaki noticed the change in your expression.
“Uhm… Th-thank you for asking me…” You assumed he was trying to console you for being upset. “I’m uh… sorry…”
‘Oh. He thinks I’m sad because he rejected me. I guess that would make sense in a normal situation.’
“It’s okay.” You offered so he wouldn't fret.
“He’s just a heartbreaker, aren’t ya, Tamaki?”
“MIRIO!” He exclaimed, mortified by his insensitivity. You chuckled and turned. It’s not as if you had any real emotions invested in him. But something was definitely wrong with this situation.
“No worries, Amajiki-kun. Have a good time.”
“Good luck to you!” Mirio returned your wave as you made your exit. You bit your lip in dismay as you rounded the corner, aware of how high the stakes had become.
‘Maybe she changed her mind… I left so soon. Maybe she defended Tamaki against the other girls after I left.’ No… You knew better than that.
‘There’s still a few more days before the Homecoming game… that’s plenty of time to win his affection, right?’
Chapter 3: Malicious Planning
Chapter 3: Malicious Planning
The crowd was boisterous and rowdy, and you could hear the sound of marching band drums and horns interspersed between cheers. You strolled through the entrance gate in a lovely sparkling dress, a small clutch purse dangling by your side. The electric energy was contagious and it was easy to smile upon hearing waves of excitement echo down the bleachers. The metal seating structure was tall, a dark underside blocked off by ropes to keep people from walking underneath it. You wandered, socializing every now and then, but still weren’t sure what exactly you were looking for.
“There’s something in your hair.” Nejire pointed to you.
“Eh?” You pulled the soft thing out of your hair and examined it. A petal. Your glance traveled upwards to the top of the bleachers, where Tamaki and Izabel must be sitting. From your angle, you could only see dangling feet and shaded metal.
You separated from Hado without knowing it, walking to the far side of the seats where you could view the audience. There Amajiki sat, adorned in a raven-black tuxedo, a matching eggplant-colored bowtie and boutonniere as fitting accessories. You couldn't tell from that distance, but you were sure that shade of purple would bring out the periwinkle hues in his eyes. ‘Wait… when did I notice his eye color?’
He was smiling while she talked, allowing her to soak in his full attention since she was the more bubbly of the two. It seemed unfair to you, that someone like her retained the spotlight despite her two-faced nature. Honestly, you were a little jealous of her. Not because of Tamaki in particular or anything…. but you wanted a sweet devoted boy to fawn over you too. Granted, you couldn't think of any other boys off the top of your head that acted like that besides Tamaki. But it wasn't him though… it was simply the concept of it…
‘I wouldn't take advantage if I had him… THAT! If I had THAT, not him…’ Luckily, something drew your attention away before you had time to dwell on that thought.
“He’ll definitely learn his place after this.” You looked down over the metal staircase at a group of whispering individuals.
“Did you switch out the ballots?” One of the girls asked.
“Check.” He held up a handful of familiar voting cards. You narrowed your eyes, wondering what they were talking about.
“You sure tentacle nerd is gonna win?” A pang of dread hit you.
“It’s taken care of. Relax. Jeez.”
“This is gonna be hilarious!” A smaller girl in the class squealed. You had suspected that Izabel and her entourage were up to something, but you didn't think a cruel plan would formulate so SOON.
‘There’s no way they’d rig Tamaki to get elected unless they had something mean planned. Not after what they said about him the other day…’ You had no other ideas but to find Tamaki and warn him.
Fortunately he was separated from Izabel, the obstacle you were afraid would interfere. He was standing alone watching the game by the sidelines of the track. “Amajiki-kun.” He turned and you got an up-close glimpse of him. His usually-unruly hair was slicked over to one side, framing his face in a pleasant way. “You look really nice.” Was the first thing that came out of your mouth. ‘Wait, that’s not what I came over to say.’
“Thank you…” He scratched his arm bashfully. “You look really nice too.”
“I… have to tell you something…” You weren’t sure how to break it to him. ‘Hi, you don't really know me, but the girl you have a crush on is totally playing you.’ That would definitely not go over well.
“Tell me what?” He tilted his head at you, dark hair shining in the blaring stadium lights.
“Uh… You know Izabel?” He blushed at the ground and nodded. “Well… I overheard some of her friends talking about playing a prank on you. I… think they switched the Homecoming Court votes.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You need to listen to me. If you get called as the winner, you can’t go up there. Something bad will happen.”
“Where did you hear all of this?”
“I overheard Izabel’s friends.”
“MY friends?” A shrill voice put a dent in your progress. “My friends would never do such a thing.” She cooed with her default flirtatious tone, hooking arms with Amajiki. “You must have misheard.”
“Well, I’ll be proven right when Amajiki gets elected, won’t I?”
“What will that prove? Tamaki could get elected anyway. Or do you not think he’s good enough for people to vote for?” She accused.
“That’s not what I’m saying!”
“Then what exactly is this ‘evil plan’ you’re talking about?” How condescending her tone became.
‘Shit.’ “I… don't know all the details…” You fell speechless but quickly found your way back. “Well why don't you tell Amajiki what you said the other day after reading his note.” Her perfect poker face faltered for an instant.
“I said that I’d LOVE to go with him.” She emphasized with a squeeze to his arm.
“Don't lie! You and your girlfriends laughed behind his back and made fun of him!”
“Well we’re here together so it would appear that you’re the liar here.”
“Listen to that, Tamaki. She was eavesdropping on my conversation about you. How sneaky…”
“You just admitted that you-“
“And after hearing that she asked you out the other day, one can only conclude that she’s making up rumors because she’s jealous.” You saw a spark of realization in Tamaki’s eyes: he believed her. Every word.
“It’s not like that!” This was falling apart before your eyes. ‘Oh, god, this is bad! Why didn't I get proof or something?!’ A wicked smile spread across Izabel’s face. She knew she had won. “I did this on your behalf, Amajiki. Don't let her trick you!” The desperation was evident in your tone. “There’s a devil in that angel face of hers! You’ve gotta believe me!”
“I… think you should go…” A thick silence followed Tamaki’s words. You bore Izabel one last contemptuous gaze before taking your leave.
Chapter 4: The Execution
Chapter 4: The Execution
“Psh.” You hissed angrily when they were out of earshot. ‘Fine. If he wants to be stupid and listen to her, its no skin off my nose.’ This had been none of your business anyway. You were only trying to help. You crossed your arms and leaned against a nearby pillar, watching as an almost-innocent bystander as they began to announce the winners for the homecoming king and queen.
You squeezed your eyes shut when they announced Tamaki’s name as king. ‘Why couldn't I have thought of a better thing to say? Of course he’s good enough to be elected. He’s super thoughtful and sweet, but the popularity system in place isn’t a fair one…’ You sighed in helpless exasperation.
“Do you smell something?” One of the adults on the bleachers said, wrinkling his nose.
Tamaki’s face was radiant and happy as he climbed up on the float next to Izabel, who was (obviously) elected as his queen. The float took off slowly, as it would make a full circle of the track before letting the occupants walk to the center of the field to receive their crowns and sashes. You didn't know when or what travesty would befall the poor boy, but you knew it was going to be soon. ‘But I lost. Maybe it would just be better to pick up the pieces afterward…’ But your conscience wouldn't allow that.
“Something stinks! Are we by the trash can or something?” Another one of many people commented the same strange thing. You sniffed the air and a pungent odor made your lips curl in disgust.
“What is that?” You wondered. You followed the scent around to the back of the bleachers where an empty white bucket sat. It was wet from an unidentifiable gooey nasty residue. You bent over to sniff it and cringed. ‘Yeah. That’s definitely where the smell is coming from.’ You heard voices in the darkness past the ropes under the bleachers. With nobody in the immediate vicinity, you took a chance and climbed your way through the maze-like network of metal. The smell got stronger the closer to the center you got.
“Ugh. I think I’m gonna puke.” A girl whispered nearby. The odor was practically crippling.
“It’s almost ready.” The same boy’s voice who rigged the election answered back. You craned your neck and caught sight of a group of people pouring small white buckets of something into a larger contraption. ‘Is that a catapult?’
“You sure it will reach him?”
“Tested it myself the other day. With my quirk, it’s guaranteed not to miss. Give the signal when he’s in position on the field.”
‘GAH! So THAT’S the plan! They’re gonna launch that horrible stuff right at Tamaki! I have to stop them!’ You dared to get a little bit closer and counted. You saw four bodies, two of the boys much larger than you. ‘I can’t take all of them… Could I stall them long enough for Amajiki to get his award and get out of the way? I’d really take a beating… No. That probably won’t work. They could just restrain me and launch it anyway. I should tell a teacher! No. It might be too late before I’d finish explaining and even then they still might not believe me. Oh no, oh no…’
“Everyone give a round of applause for our Homecoming Court winners!” The crowd cheered as you clambered out from underneath the bleachers.
“Already?!” You panicked, trying your best to think in this dire situation. The two of them walked onto the center of the field together, arm in arm. This briefly calmed you enough for logical thoughts to return. ‘Okay… They won't launch it while he’s still next to Izabel.” Of that much, you were sure. ‘They wouldn't be able to predict the trajectory that accurately…’ You hastily walked around the front of the bleachers where the cheerleaders usually stood, watching Tamaki’s position like a hawk in flight. ‘I just need to find Mir-‘
“Izabel Hidaka!” The announcer bellowed through the microphone. “Please step forward to receive your crown!”
There Tamaki stood, alone on the field, twisting his hands while he blissfully watched his crush receive recognition.
“Prepare to launch.” Your brain didn't have time to register if you really heard that or not. Your feet were moving, suddenly, beyond your control, at full speed towards the center of the field. The ceremony, the huge crowd watching, the potential that you were wrong about this whole thing, none of it mattered. You were making a beeline to Tamaki, preparing yourself for what was to come.
“FIRE!” You definitely heard that one.
‘No!’ There was still several feet of distance separating you and Tamaki, and you knew whatever horrid thing coming his way was about to reach terminal velocity.
“What are you-“ His perplexed eyes met yours as you rushed him at full speed, hooking him by the arm and using your momentum to toss him as far out of the way as you could in such a short time. Before your fingertips lost contact with his arm, you felt a weight upon your back, heavy and wet. ‘I was too late!’
“Omph!” You tumbled to the ground from the force of impact. You shivered at the ice-cold wetness, knowing you had been fully hit by the atrocious projectile. “Eugh…” You pushed yourself onto your knees, seeing a few squid tentacles run down your arms and onto the grass. It was a slow process, as the fish were preserved in a rank viscous liquid. You weren’t sure what it was exactly, and honestly, you didn't want to know. The stench was evident the instant it made contact with your body, and you clenched your teeth to keep yourself from gagging. ‘Oh!’ You looked up, feeling a rush of relief upon seeing Tamaki unscathed, a few feet away from you, on his butt, staring at you with the utmost dismayed expression. A splatter or two had found its way to his cheek and another to his tie, but he was otherwise fish-free.
“Are you okay, Tamaki?” You asked.
“Wh-what is this?!” He reached out a shaky finger in your direction. “I-is that… squid?” You slowly let the mucus-like substance slide off you a bit, looking down to examine the damage to your beautiful dress. It began to dawn on him. “Was that… meant for me?” He already knew the answer. There was no denying the visual similarities between the prank and his quirk. No words found their way to your lips, and you just stared into his eyes. The look on his face… ‘Oh Tamaki…’ You prayed to every deity that you wouldn't live to see the day he makes that face again. For a split second, there was pin-drop silence, then a slimy tentacle slid off your head and onto the ground with an audible splat. A bout of boisterous laughter suddenly echoed the grounds, the familiar shrill pitch haunted the stage microphone: the instigator of it all.
Amajiki’s lips were pressed into a distressed squiggle, his eyes dotted with fractals of light, obviously holding back tears. ‘Please don't cry… I did everything I could…’ Your pained expression mirrored his, but it wasn't for your own sake.
“I’m… I-I’m so-“ He reached out to help you up, but you recoiled.
“No, Tamaki…” You held your hands up to stop him. “You’ll get your nice outfit dirty.”
“But…” Your graceful composure in the face of public humiliation shattered his heart. “But I-“ The tears in his eyes threatened to fall.
“We both know you don't want to be here right now. Leave while you can.”
“The teachers can help me. Go now!” During this, the principle had stepped in to postpone the ceremonies and several sympathetic teachers were closing in on your position. Tamaki reluctantly ran from the field as you sat basking in your reeking pile of filth. It was then you caught the eye of Izabel on stage, giving you the most peculiar countenance of surprise and satisfaction.
“Oh you poor thing.” A blur of three or four teachers came to sweep you off the field, dabbing you off with gym towels from the team and offering comforting statements all the while.
Tamaki had found himself a private spot, a school bathroom, and locked himself in it. You heard the door slam behind him as you passed by on the way to the girls locker room. Maybe one of the teachers said something about your mother being called to bring you clean clothes, but you weren’t thinking about that right now.
Tamaki made sure he was completely alone before he let the tears fall. Your heart ached, wishing you could take away every bit of pain he felt.
‘Why do villains have to win sometimes?’ You wondered bitterly, forehead pressed to the shower wall as the hot water flowed over you. Evil triumphed this day.
‘Izabel… your uppance will come…’
Chapter 5: An Unrecognized Hero
Chapter 5: An Unrecognized Hero
Clothes lay sprawled on the floor outside the boys’ locker room. ‘That’s a good sign. That means Mirio is there to help him…’ You passed by the doorway, eyes and mind distracted before you were bombarded with attention.
“Oh honey!” She had obviously been informed of the situation and threw her arms around you in a gesture of comfort. Against your will, you were swept away from it all. However, all you could think about was the state of mind the poor victim boy must be in. Rejection and public humiliation all in one day. Not only that, to have them both orchestrated by the same person… and that person be someone who he once felt affection for… You couldn't fathom the things Tamaki was feeling right about now.
“Please leave me alone.” Amajiki hollered meekly to an audible knock on the bathroom door.
“It’s me, Tamaki.” Mirio’s familiar comforting voice rang out. “Please let me in.” But Tamaki didn't answer. It’s not as if he didn't want his friend’s presence, but he didn't feel as though he deserved it right now. He felt despicable, abject and unworthy of friendship. But, as he expected, Mirio’s face appeared through the wall, followed by the rest of his naked body. “Tamaki?” He asked delicately, grabbing a towel to wrap around his waist. The thinner boy tried to keep it together, but couldn't hold back the sheer bombardment of emotion swelling within him.
“She tried to warn me…” He sobbed. “But I didn't listen…” The guilt flowed like a river from his heart. “It’s MY fault this happened! That prank was meant for me, not her!”
Mirio was speechless. To his surprise, he wasn't as distraught by the betrayal of his crush as he expected. His conscience was burdened instead by the public humiliation he subjected his classmate to. Even Togata, in this moment, was in awe of the selflessness of his best friend.
“She’s going to be ridiculed forever because of me, then she’ll have to transfer schools and she’ll hate me forever. I ruined everything!” Tamaki felt two reassuring hands on his quaking shoulders. “Everybody else already hated me, then I made the only other girl who was nice to me hate me too…” Mirio had learned to recognize his friend’s downward spiraling behavior and geared himself to circumvent it.
“That’s not true, Tamaki. Everybody doesn't hate you. It was just a handful of immature people in the class playing a prank.” He paused, realizing that he was sort of downplaying a horrible cruel act that resulted in tremendous emotional turmoil for his friend. “But I’m sure she doesn't hate you.” Mirio didn't know you very well, but he was certain someone who made such a clear-cut sacrifice for someone wouldn't put the blame on that person for the misfortune they went through. “I bet she’s just glad you didn't both get pelted with fish.” Tamaki cringed at the memory of you getting knocked down by the force of the nasty projectile. He put a large comforting hand on Tamaki’s hair.
“I bet this will all blow over by Monday. You’ll see…”
“Ugh! This is like the fourth shower today! Why wont this smell come out?!” You groaned the next day as you dried your skin, which was red from all of the scrubbing. You wrung your hair out and wrapped it in a towel, grimacing when you smelled the leftover hint of fish lingering on your wet locks. During this process you heard a knock at the door. You opened it, towel still twirled up in your wet hair. You were surprised to see the face of:
“Call me Mirio.”
The two of you stood in your living room as you waited for him to explain his reason for the impromptu visit.
“H-how’s Tamaki?” You asked, but you weren’t sure you wanted to hear how broken up he was about this.
“He’ll get better…” That was the nicest way of conveying that his best friend was becoming unglued.
“Oh.” You frowned.
“That’s actually why I came by.” Mirio had no idea what to say, but he refused to leave until he convinced you to not be mad at Tamaki, and that he was just a victim in all of this just like you.
“I know… I should have done more. I feel terrible!”
“Huh?” The blonde boy fell speechless.
“I should have stopped it. I should have done everything in my power to keep that thing from firing- oof!“ Mirio had cut you off by pulling you into a big bear hug.
“You don't know how happy I am to hear you say that.”
“I was worried that you might be mad.”
“I am mad. Those brats are gonna pay for doing this to him.”
“No. I meant that I was worried you’d be mad at Tamaki.”
“Why on earth would I be mad at him? Do you get mad at an old lady when a villain steals her purse?!” You were appalled at such a stupid idea. He laughed aloud at that, draining your oxygen when his powerful arms squeezed you tighter.
“I knew you’d feel that way.” He put you down, wrinkling his nose a bit. “…You still smell like fish, you know…” You rolled your eyes at his honesty, putting your hands on your hips.
“Rub it in, bro…”
“You ought to wear that smell like a badge of honor.” He beamed. “Your self sacrifice is the mark of a true hero.” Your eyes sparkled at his words. “You do want to become a hero, right?”
“Then think of this stench as your first step!” His smile was brighter than the sun. “Nobody else will probably ever recognize you for it, but you’ll always be a hero to me. You saved Tamaki from a bombardment of verbal abuse, and I don't know how to thank you enough.”
“You could buy me something to get this smell out…” You suggested with a jesting smirk, to which he laughed again.
“I doubt anything will get rid of that besides time and a lot of showers.” You elbowed him playfully for that, at least grateful to have made a new friend out of this ordeal… hopefully two, but you’d have to wait until the weekend ended to find out. “Just remember…” Mirio added on his way out the door. “Every time you get teased, you are enduring it in place of someone else. Keep being a hero.”
You took Mirio’s inspiring words to heart, actually grateful that the more sensitive person between you and Tamaki was spared. You smiled at the thought that you were able to do some good in the face of middle school evil.
Monday rolled around, and you mentally prepared yourself for the mockery to begin…
Chapter 6: The Origins of Squid Girl
Chapter 6: The Origins of Squid Girl
You hustled through the school courtyard Monday morning, running a bit later than usual because you had taken two more showers to try and get the smell out. A breeze blew a few flower petals across your path, withered and brown. Honestly, they probably weren’t even Tamaki’s petals, but it made you sad all the same. The whole class was already sitting in their seats when you walked in the door.
“Are the lunch ladies making sushi today?!” Someone emphasized.
‘Dang, that was fast.’ There was no way they even had time to smell you before that comment was fired.
“Hey, look! If it isn’t squid girl!” One of the boys said. Tamaki felt his heart break, knowing he was fully responsible for the cruelty you would surely endure for the foreseeable future.
“Hah! SQUID GIRL!” You heard again. You noted Amajiki sitting in his seat, receiving no negative attention from the buffoons teasing you. He looked pained by the ridicule, but you could only assume, since he wasn't receiving it himself, that he was simply just empathizing strongly with your plight. Mirio had been right. All of this was much easier to endure when you knew you were taking it for someone else. The laughing and pointing escalated when you neared your desk, but while you were still in front of the class you smirked wide, opening your arms wide with a confident:
“Recognize!” Mirio smiled at this as you strutted back to your seat. You stopped on the way, looking down at the boy who switched the tallies. “Hey, dude. Did you hear? I heard the principle is taking that whole Homecoming prank thing so seriously, that if the culprits get caught, they wont stand a CHANCE of getting into a top high school.” You jerked your eyebrows upward, shit-eating grin adorning your features. The boy in front of you opened his mouth, but no words came out. Before he could say anything, you turned around. “What do you think of that, Izabel?” Mirio bit down on his fist, muffling a laugh at how beautifully you called her out. You were definitely playing the part even better than he anticipated. Izabel raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
“I think that they completely deserve that. What happened to you was cruel and heartbreaking to watch.”
‘Yeah, that’s why you were smiling the whole time, bitch…’ You thought it, but held your tongue, knowing a better opportunity would come. You sat back in your seat with a satisfied little smirk. You made sure to hold the gazes of all four guilty culprits during class. They knew that you knew…
Amajiki, on the other hand, wouldn't look at you for anything. He avoided your gaze like the plague, certain you hated him for this. He was sure you would take your actions back if you could; that you were in pain despite how amazing you were at hiding it. ‘I didn't listen to her… and because of that she has to endure all of this… Not only what happened that night, but for every day that will follow… I don't even know how long this will haunt her…’ He grimaced at his desk, knowing he was entirely to blame for your humiliation. ‘I’m so so sorry!’
Lunchtime rolled around and Hado stopped to talk to you. However, she refused to sit with you, seeing as the smell was still a factor.
“Nejire, you’re killing me!” You hollered melodramatically as she deserted you. You hadn’t noticed Tamaki observing you from afar.
‘She’s even sitting alone now… this is so awful!’
But you weren’t alone for long. Four familiar faces came up to you: the guilty ones. “Can I help you?” You asked snidely, sipping on your juice.
“You know why we’re here.” The leader girl said.
“You know, I’m surprised I didn't hear the sound of shackles jingling to warn me that you were coming…” They loomed over you at your threatening implications.
“Keep quiet or else!” The burly boy you spoke to earlier said.
“Oh no.” You brushed his gripping hand off your shoulder. “That’s not how this is gonna go down. You all are going to pay me off for my silence.” You pulled out your phone. “Don't you know, the one who makes the threats has to be holding all the cards…” You held up the photo you had snapped of all four of them standing by the catapult. It was a little dark and blurry, but all of their faces were clearly identifiable. They quickly snatched your phone away. “Break it if you want.” You shrugged. “Do you really think I’d be dumb enough to not back it up somewhere first?” The group all looked at each other and tossed your phone back.
“What do you want?” The other boy growled.
“Lucky for you, not much.” You stood and looked into their faces with a serious aura. “I want you all to NEVER pick on Tamaki again.” They eyed each other warily. “One of you does it and you ALL go down. Understand?”
“What’s the catch?” One girl looked suspicious. “That can’t be all you are really asking.”
“Believe it or not, it is.” You crossed your arms casually. They nodded at one another, appearing relieved but also a bit suspicious.
“Deal.” They agreed to your terms.
“Pleasure doing business with you.” You smirked as they turned. “It’s not like people with shitty quirks like yours would get into a top school anyway.”
“You wanna run that by me again?” The larger of the boys glared at you.
“You heard me.” You really couldn't let them off without at least a shot to their egos. Just simply holding them to an honor code with Amajiki wasn't quite enough. The strong one pulled you up by the front of your shirt. One of the smarter girls tried to stop him, knowing they would be in huge trouble if they pissed you off. Honestly, you were trying to provoke them to get them in trouble.
“S-STOP!” Every eye traveled in the direction of the voice. A short distance away stood a familiar pointy-eared boy. Tamaki had seen the four of them take your phone and assumed they were picking on you. He couldn't allow himself to stand by while they threatened you. In the frozen silent stand-off between the six of you, the school bell rang, signaling lunch had ended.
You looked at the bully, who put you down, cussing under his breath as they left you alone. You wanted to thank Tamaki for trying to intervene, but when your eyes drifted over to him, you found that he had disappeared around the corner.
The same old teasing went on and on for the remainder of the day, nicknames and comments on your smell over and over. You brushed it off like all the others, figuring they would get sick of it eventually. Tamaki, on the other hand, was beside himself. He watched you take hit after hit and felt every wound with you, each one filling him with more guilt and shame. It’s not like he was worth fighting for, so he couldn't figure out why you wouldn't just throw him a hateful gaze or a condemning comment. But each time he watched you ignore their cruelty as if it were nothing, as if you possessed some kind of magic shield that allowed you to deflect the piercing bullets from your peers. He found it graceful, inspiring. Amajiki felt a flicker of admiration within him, wanting to know where such a level of inner strength came from. He would ask if he could.
‘Too bad she probably hates me…’
Chapter 7: The Spy and the Trickster
Chapter 7: The Spy and the Trickster
Amajiki must have gotten careless in his meticulous evasion of you, because you managed to accidentally bump into him in the bustling hallway between classes.
“S-sorry!” His voice was high-pitched, almost a squeak. But you tried to throw him an encouraging smile.
“It’s o-“ He scurried away, holding true to the mouse-like behavior you just associated him with. “-kay...” You made a face. Amajiki was definitely avoiding you and you couldn't figure out why. After Mirio’s visit, the notion of him being angry with you didn't make much sense. So then why was he acting like this?
Perhaps even Tamaki didn't know the exact reason. He wanted to talk to you, truly he did, and tell you how sorry he was. He couldn't go on like this, the guilt was like rot, spreading deeper and deeper into his conscience. He knew you deserved vindication, some kind of outlet for the pain you must be in, and it would be wrong for him to not be the one to take the hit. Your cruel words would be just the punishment he felt he should receive. The main problem was… he didn't actually like being punished, and couldn't find the courage to face that potential unpleasant conflict either. The two clashing needs were eating at him, like wolves tearing at his flesh from both sides. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place. ‘Why does this happen to me so much…’ He wondered.
It was the last class of the day and since Amajiki was so clearly deep in thought, staring straight down at a blank page in his notebook, you were able to steal a clear glance at him without making him fidget. You thought about passing him a note, just something pleasant to break the ice. You pulled out a pen from your bag before-
“EEEEEK!” An ear-piercing squeal caught your attention. Without warning, Izabel was standing on her desk and throwing her coat violently to the floor. “Teacher! Someone put a cockroach in my pocket!” You grinned wickedly, wishing you had been the one to come up with this fantastic distribution of justice.
“Who did that?!” The teacher questioned, but you knew nobody would openly admit it even if they were guilty.
“It was Tamaki!” The girl continued, pointing an accusatory finger at him.
“What?!” He squawked, looking mortified now that every eye was on him.
“Yeah! He took my jacket once before! I bet he did it again and did this on purpose!” Your jaw dropped at the bold face lie. He didn't steal it, he had found it for her! You were there!
“It wasn't me! I swear!” Tamaki yelped. You turned to look at him. He wore an expression akin to that of a kicked puppy, no trace of deceit in his tearful eyes.
“I bet it was!” Another girl piled on. “Or I bet he slipped it in with that quirk of his!”
‘Okay. I guess TWO bitches are going to have to die tonight…’ Your blood boiled at this ruthless inhumanity.
“Woah there. He wouldn't do something like that.” Mirio stood to defend his friend.
“IT WAS ME!” You lied, rising to face the spiteful shrew, one on one.
“You? Why?!” She looked genuinely surprised that it wasn't someone else. You glanced once at Tamaki, then at Mirio, kind of dawning a fuck-all attitude.
“Because you’re a two-faced bitch.” You shrugged, and the room fell silent.
“PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE, F/N L/N! RIGHT NOW!”
And with that, you proudly strutted down the hall, only second-guessing yourself now that you were alone. ‘Wait a minute… what if the thing had just crawled in there by itself? Why didn't I say THAT instead?!’ You smacked your palm to your forehead, walking into the principal's office.
You told him the truth about what happened, that it wasn't really you but you couldn't let innocent Amajiki take the blame. At the mere mention of his name, the principal gifted you an understanding smile. He was aware of the events that occurred the other night and didn't question you any further.
“I believe you, young lady.”
“Yes. However… you still called your classmate a less than elegant name, and for that I must discipline you somehow.”
“I see…” Detention slip in hand, you exited his office. ‘Worth it.’ You strolled back towards the classroom to gather your possessions, hearing the bell ring just before you got there. Your classmates flooded the hallways immediately, blocking your path.
“F/N.” Mirio’s face caught your attention, grimacing as you walked up.
“Hey- oomph.” Izabel had very intentionally collided with your shoulder in a nonverbal declaration of aggression. You rolled your eyes.
“Did you get in trouble?” The pink detention slip you held up in your hand answered his question. “Why did you take responsibility when it wasn't you?”
“Because I know that Tamaki didn't do it, and he’s been through enough already. If nobody else came clean, then he would have gotten in trouble for nothing.” You suddenly realized something. “Wait… how did you know I didn't do it?” He bit his lip and scratched the back of his neck.
“I might have known it was you.” You smiled.
“You little trickster.”
“And you got detention…” He frowned at the floor. “You know, it isn’t too late to straighten this out. Let me tell the principal that it was me.”
“And lose credit for that stroke of brilliance? Not on your life, Mirio.” He mirrored your grin and let out a hearty laugh. “Cockroaching Izabel will probably go down in history as my crowning achievement.” He was rolling now.
“I do still feel kinda bad though.” His words contradicted his huge smile and outpour of giggles.
“Don't worry about it.” You swished your hand. “I have to go though. I just came back to get my-“ You looked down next to the door only to see your book bag sitting there. You were certain it hadn’t been there a moment ago.
“I should still make it up to you somehow.” He put his finger to his lip thoughtfully. “How about I bring you lunch tomorrow?”
“Sounds good.” You shrugged, raising your eyebrows at your neatly-packed items on the floor. You sensed another presence after seeing your backpack eerily appear. As agile as Tamaki was, you knew there was no way he would have been able to sneak out of the classroom without you noticing. It didn't take Mirio’s special brand of genius to know that he was hiding just out of sight, presumably eavesdropping. You and Mirio exchanged a loaded glance. “By the way… tell whoever packed up my stuff for me ‘thanks.’” Togata smiled wide and Amajiki tensed on the other side of the wall. “That person must be very nice…”
Chapter 8: Crowning Glory
Let the real fluff begin.
Chapter 8: Crowning Glory
“I can’t do it, Mirio!” Amajiki felt like chickening out for the umpteenth time this week.
“We’ve been over this, Tamaki.” Mirio put his hands on the smaller boy’s shoulders. “She wouldn't have stood up for you yesterday if she hates you.” Tamaki couldn't really argue with that logic as much as he wanted to.
“But… when I’m around, bad things happen to her. Just me existing has caused her so much trouble…”
“She doesn't feel that way. I talked to her yesterday, remember?”
“Oh yeah…” He mumbled, remembering the conversation he overheard. “What did you make her for lunch?” Mirio’s eyes widened.
“Oh… Oops. I guess I forgot about that…”
“HOW COULD YOU?!” Tamaki wailed. “After all she’s been through!”
“Guess that means you better share yours with her then.” With a sly smile and a slap on the back, he disappeared from sight.
‘But what if she doesn't like takoyaki?!’
Since you knew you'd be dining alone for another few days- probably- you decided to take the stone bench beneath the big tree in the courtyard. ‘No use hogging a picnic table all to myself, I suppose.’ Your stomach growled and you anxiously waited for Mirio to bring you whatever he had prepared.
While you were distracted waving at Nejire across the landscape, Amajiki somehow ninja’d his way toward you. You wouldn't have even noticed his presence were it not for the sound of his backpack plunking on the concrete near you.
He sat within your peripheral vision, as far away on the bench from you as possible- which wasn't actually very far considering you were perched dead in the middle of it. It was just a hunch, but based on Amajiki’s white-knuckled grasp on the bench, you deducted it would be best for you to be the first to speak.
“Hi, Tamaki.” You figured after all you had been through with him, you had earned a first-name basis. You had said it quietly, so as not to startle him. He was like a baby deer; one sudden wrong move and whoosh! Gone.
“Hi.” If you hadn’t been listening for it, you wouldn't have heard it. It was meek, borderline silent. “C-can I sit here?” You nodded, but your invitation didn't seem to hold any ease for the uncomfortable boy. Anxiety was pouring off of him, and you were pretty sure you could feel the aftershocks coming in waves every few seconds.
“You don't have to be nice, Tamaki. I know I stink.”
“Oh! N-no… I uh- eat squid and octopus a lot so… the smell doesn't bother me.” When you finally looked at him, he began to backpedal frantically. “N-not that I’m saying you DO smell... Ah- I mean… I-I c-can’t even smell anything!” His shoulders were tensed, up by his pointed ears, and he looked like he had just uttered the granddaddy of all curse words in front of a teacher. “Oh god! I can’t believe I just said that!” He covered his face with both hands in a display of utter defeat. If you didn't feel so bad for him, you would have laughed at his cute behavior. All the same though…
“I’m not offended, Tamaki.” But his spiraling mentality must have tuned out those words.
“Oh no, no, no… I came over here to give you something, not hurt your feelings even more…” He mumbled bitterly into his hands, voice strained and melancholic. You couldn't explain why, but in that moment you felt as though he had been carrying the weight of your burden upon himself, that he somehow suffered from you being mocked, even though he barely knew you. This new theory was contradictory to all of his former behavior. He had avoided you so thoroughly that it seemed clear he had no interest in you or your bully troubles. But the pained noise that came from his throat just now definitely suggested otherwise. By just being himself, he had been able to convey all of his emotions to you without words, and that struck you as extraordinary, special. But before you could entertain that idea any further, curiosity got the better of you.
“You wanted to give me something?” You tilted your head and he peeked through his fingers at you.
“Erm… yeah…” Was all he said before unzipping his backpack and pulling out a hauntingly familiar item. “Here.” He sat his sparkling Homecoming crown in your lap, the one he never got to wear. You furrowed your brows at it, eying the ornate jewels and gold trim surrounding the lush velvet lining. The color… That shade of violet would have matched perfectly with the bowtie he wore at the game and for some reason that broke your heart.
“Tamaki, I can’t accept this…” You met his dark eyes. “It’s yours.”
“Well, it’s not as if I actually earned it…” He frowned down at his hands, which were folded on his lap. “But at least you did something to deserve a crown. Especially for how much you’ve endured…”
‘I have a feeling you’ve endured more than me…’ Amajiki had confirmed your suspicions. ‘…That he’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen?’ …That too. But that, despite his physical avoidance of you, he had been emotionally with you all along, trekking by your side over the rocky treacherous terrain of middle school. You felt a connection bloom in your heart, and no matter how bad the smell or teasing might get, you wouldn't take back your actions from that night. Not for anything.
“I ruined everything…” He continued on his apologetic tangent, heedless of the bounds of progress he had already made with you. “Your whole life even…” Your eyes widened at that. You were definitely going to have to get used to this boy’s pessimistic hyperboles.
“Well… make up for it then.” You smiled, lifting your chin happily. He panicked at the proposition.
“H-how could I possibly-”
“Be my friend.” He was momentarily taken aback by your statement, but looked away again.
“…Why would you want to be friends with someone like me?”
“Why would you want to give a crown to a loser like squid girl?” You shrugged and grinned wide, jesting with him now.
“Oh, no! You aren’t a loser at all! You’re kind and thoughtful and… and… you should be a hero someday.”
“Funny. Mirio said the same thing the other day.” You scooted a bit closer to him. “Do you want to be a hero too?”
“Y-yeah I-“ He began, but your rumbling stomach interrupted him.
“Oh. You’re hungry…” He took out his lunchbox, which was sizably bigger than everyone else’s. “Do you want some of my lunch?” He offered sweetly. “If gym class isn’t too strenuous today and we don't have to use our quirk much, I have enough food for two people.”
‘Or ten!’ You thought when he opened the box, packed full of an absurd amount of round-looking food balls.
“What is it?” You asked.
“Octopus.” He stated, handing you the pair of chopsticks.
“Ah. My brethren!” You exclaimed cheekily. The joke took Tamaki by surprise and the tiniest giggle escaped his lips. You gazed at him in awe. The ice had been broken.
“Want some?” He offered openly, holding out the box to you. You popped one in your mouth without question and chewed. You couldn't hide your reaction in time. “Oh no! You hate it!” You waved your hands.
“N-no.” You gulped it down as quickly as possible to try not to gag. “It’s just very… potent…” Yes, that was definitely the word you were looking for.
“AH! That’s my fault, I’m sorry! I changed the ratio because my quirk is volume-based! I didn't think about how it would taste to you…”
“That’s okay, Tamaki. I think I got used to the texture. How about another?” You reached out to grab one more and his eyes sparkled with hope.
“R-really? You want more?”
“Yeah!” You grinned with false enthusiasm, taking another detonator of disgusting into your mouth and gulping it down by sheer willpower. Did the conclusion hit you on Friday at the game? Nope. Yesterday at detention? Also no. It wasn't until now, at this very moment, that you realized you would endure tremendous suffering for the sake of this shy innocent ravenette.
“So Tamaki… I’ve never actually seen your quirk up close. Will you show me?” You were actually interested, but this question undoubtedly doubled as a distraction to keep him from noticing how little you had really eaten.
“Ah… uhm… s-sure…” He looked down, hesitating. Amajiki was a bit concerned that showing you a tentacle might awaken some sort of post-traumatic stress within you, so he searched his mind for anything else he had eaten this week. He recalled the poppy seed bagel he had eaten with breakfast and held up his hand. Before your eyes, a lovely flower materialized, seemingly out of thin air. You were struck by a sense of wonder and took his hand to get a closer look at it.
“What a beautiful quirk…” You touched the soft petals with a fingertip, glancing at his face. Tamaki was blushing, tips of his ears burning red from the unexpected contact.
“Th-that’s nice of you to say…” He felt an involuntary tightening of his chest, and he acquired a strange urge to hide his face against the nearest wall. ‘No. That’s weird. Why do I even want to do that…’ Fortunately, the sight of his best friend relieved the tension.
“Hey, guys!” Togata approached. “Sorry I took so long, but here’s the lunch I made for you.” He dropped it in your lap. Tamaki’s mouth fell open, but Mirio just winked at him. He hadn’t forgotten his promise, it was merely a harmless deception to ensure that you and Tamaki would interact. “But I guess I’m a little bit late. It looks like Tamaki already shared his lunch with you.” He had been watching your encounter and saw you hide your distaste for takoyaki with a delighted grin. “How was it?” You raised an eyebrow.
“It was just what I needed to smell even more like fish.” Mirio laughed at this but Amajiki felt a pang of dread.
“AH! Oh no! I hadn’t even thought of that!” His horrified expression made you laugh even harder. You playfully touched his hand once more.
“I’m kidding, Tamaki.” Your jolly smile beaming in his direction melted his anxiety away.
“Oh.” His cheeks flushed pink again and he felt his nerves simmer down enough to smile back.
Mirio sat down in front of the two of you on the concrete, forming an intimate little triangle of friendship. It felt like something special was brewing, the start of something new. It saddened you to no end when the bell rang, cutting your diverting conversations short. Mirio bid you both adieu while the shy boy packed up his stuff. You made room in your bag for your crown, but you felt the new companionship you had attained was a much better reward by comparison.
Amajiki looked as if he was about to say something but couldn't find the words. He wanted to invite you to eat with him and Mirio again but was afraid that perhaps this was just a one-time thing.
“Tamaki.” You smiled warmly at him. “I’m glad you came to have lunch with me.”
Chapter 9: Bright
Tamaki was sinking, becoming slowly crushed beneath the weight of the dark water. The pressure of it was compressing him from every angle, choking the breath from his lungs. He was trapped, anxiety only worsening the burning tightness in his chest. He couldn't scream, couldn't cry out for help. He was suffocating. It was surely the end, no hope in sight.
But suddenly, when he was certain all was lost, a blinding light came, piercing the surface and illuminating the water. He had to turn his head, unable to look directly at it. Death? No… Salvation. In the sunlight he saw a face, the face of the very person who he’d shared his lunch with today: you. Skin glowing with rays of gold, you reached out to him, and he was pulled from the water. Into the sky he floated to meet you, drifting weightless. A warm smile enriched your lips, which he seemed to be moving ever-closer to. You pulled his face in, gently, hovering only a breath away-
“Ah!” Tamaki startled in his bed, heart thumping hard and loud in his ears. Regaining his senses, he realized he was alone, faced with nothing but his own dark bedroom. He groaned in frustration, turning face-down into his pillow. Wait… why was he so mad to be woken from that dream?
Your face in the bright light was still burned into his retinas, leaving a vivid picture lingering in the back of his mind. It was now that Tamaki realized (much too late unfortunately) that the very one salvaging his broken heart was actually the one stealing it. Or rather… you were caressing it, cradling it in silken comfort. It was more soothing than a lullaby by the waterside. He felt his chest swirl with affection.
‘She laughs so merrily… just like Mirio.’ In his mind he replayed your encounter from yesterday. He just wanted to touch your hand again. Why was that the only thing he could think about? It was such a simple act, but it had so much subtext to it. ‘She said my quirk was beautiful…’
These thoughts plagued him until the sun’s rays came peering through the blinds. In the light, he observed his surroundings, grimacing upon his discovery. Encircling him in an almost birds-nest-like cocoon, was a substantial pile of flower petals.
He observed you occasionally during class, careful to not be too obvious. He was tingling with a nervous energy. Half of him said to confess his feelings, but the other half rebuked the idea. ‘No. She explicitly said, “be my friend,” not “please be my new boyfriend.”’ He talked himself down, as he usually does, deciding it was the right thing to keep it hidden, at least for now. ‘I can’t just go around falling in love with every girl who is nice to me… no matter how few and far between they are…’ He sighed, a little too loudly…
A spark shot through his nervous system when your eyes met his. He quickly snapped his head down, staring at his desk. Mere seconds later he noticed a white folded piece of paper enter his peripheral vision. He hesitated, feeling your eyes still bore into him, before finally opening it.
‘Are you ok?’ The note read. He looked over to you with a tiny smile, providing a soft nod of reassurance. But you weren’t done conversing with him yet. To his surprise, while watching the lecture, another piece of paper had materialized on his desk. He unfolded it, much hastier this time. It was rather exciting, passing notes with a girl. The contents of this note made his smile bloom much wider.
‘Can I have lunch with you again today?’
He turned to give you another nod, feeling his face heat up at the sight of your delighted grin. You were extremely pleased at the strides you’d made with Tamaki since your first encounter with him. At the lunch table you giggled together, and somehow you even found a way to indoctrinate Hado into the mix. Your fishy smell had completely disappeared and it felt as though you had turned over a new leaf. Things with Tamaki couldn't be better. Or at least that’s what you thought…
“W-what?!” Amajiki leaned backwards, eyes wide.
“Open your mouth and say Aaanh.” You repeated hastily, trying to keep the hot morsel of food from slipping through your chopsticks.
“Close enough.” You said, popping the bite through his parted lips. He shielded his face with his forearm and chewed.
“’S’good.” He mumbled, barely audible.
“I made it special for you. I wanted to repay you for sharing your lunch with me yesterday.” He turned away, overgrown bangs veiling his deep blush.
“Uhm… I uhm…” Tamaki felt the familiar dangerous rush surge through him and shot up abruptly. “I h-have to… uh!” He couldn't think of a logical excuse fast enough, and bolted from the cafeteria without another word. He didn't slow his frantic pace until he was definitely away from the prying eyes of his judgemental peers. He found himself in the small lonesome schoolyard garden, just outside of the front doors. With a quick peek over each shoulder and a heavy sigh, he untucked his uniform shirt, letting the stray trapped petals fall to the ground.
‘I meant to thank her for the food.’ He frowned wistfully. ‘Why couldn't I get words to come out? She probably thinks I’m rude…’
You bit your lip with apprehension. Had you made him uncomfortable already? Could the bridge you built with him be burned so quickly?! The one who could answer those questions was now in your line of sight, shuffling back over to the group.
“S-sorry…” Tamaki muttered to the lunch table. “Uh… b-bathroom emergency…”
“Ah.” You exhaled a breath of relief you hadn’t noticed you were holding.
“Eat some bad takoyaki there, buddy?” Mirio gave him a forgiving slap to the arm.
“Probably…” He lied.
“Oh. Do you want some of my ginger? It might make your stomach feel better.”
“I’m fine.” He finally dared to look in your eyes. “B-but I’d… like some more of that food you made… i-if you don't want it I mean…”
You slid the box in front of him and he returned your warm smile.
‘Maybe my petals wont be too unmanageable.’ Amajiki thought to himself. They only seemed to flare up with a few select interactions with you, like when he would accidentally catch your eye or see you do something sweet for him. And after making sure to tuck his shirt in more carefully (less slovenly) this morning, he had been able to keep the pesky things hidden, effectively dumping them out of his clothes Shawshank Redemption style without notice. It was fortunate that they mostly came off his back and arms; otherwise this ruse wouldn't have been possible. He couldn't help but feel hopeful about that mystical bout of luck. He successfully made it through one day without revealing his secret; how hard could it be to-
“Tamaki, you have food on you.” All he could do is blink in shock as you leaned in to brush the rice off his lips with a gentle fingertip.
‘THIS IS UNMANAGEABLE!’
Chapter 10: Seasons Change
It was exhausting these days, training with Mirio, but he could feel himself getting a little bit stronger each time. Of course he could never match his best friend's level of dedication or upbeat personality, but he hoped at least he'd still be accepted. It would be horrible to be all alone in a new high school. He already had no idea how he'd tricked people like you and Mirio into warming up to him, let alone how to reproduce those results with complete strangers.
After training for just a few weeks, he was able to figure out a way to control his petals. Well... not control exactly... but he was able to internalize them. If he focused really hard, he obtained the ability to hone them into one spot. He had been nervous to try this at first, afraid they'd get stuck in the wrong place and ultimately kill him. But with Mirio's encouragement backing him, Tamaki managed to hide them within the confines of his stomach, effectively silencing the pesky things when he needed to. Unfortunately this solution would only prove temporary, since overfilling his tummy not only made him nauseated, but hindered the strength of his quirk as well. So on the occasions where the warm-fuzzy misery of love became too much, he was either forced to return home and release them the normal way or he sought out a secluded nearby space and did it there.
This plan wasn't entirely foolproof either. He would hiccup a petal now and then, especially on the occasions where they became too numerous. But Tamaki had hopes that once he could fully control his quirk, he could will himself to not produce them at all. To Amajiki, this handicap proved nothing but trouble. Even being over-prone to blushes would be easier in his opinion. At least he could grow his hair and hide it somewhat. Then again, he usually had that happen too when his petals flared up. Another difficulty to add to his generous supply of disaster...
You were nervous about the entrance exam. Not exactly for yourself, per say; but instead for Tamaki. You had no doubts about his fantastic skill level or even his academic abilities for the written portion. In that department you were much more worried about Mirio's acceptance. But Mirio had told you about his strategy. Apparently during the field test, he stood in the middle of a bunch of robots, phasing just before they hit him, resulting in a mass collision- almost like a pile-up at a broken traffic light. This made you confident in his acceptance, even if his phasing had been rather finicky. It also probably helped that his indecent exposure distracted his fellow exam takers, gaining him a timely edge.
Tamaki, on the other hand, is whom you were worried about. Exams like the one UA offered placed its applicants under high amounts of pressure. It was almost a guarantee for him to crack under the scrutinizing gazes of judges. At least he was coming over today and you would have the chance to ask him about it. For better or for worse, you would offer him support and promise to always be there for him.
Upon his arrival you offered him a drink, which he politely declined. Both of you retired to your bedroom to get comfortable. He chewed his bottom lip thoughtfully and you assumed his inquisitive expression of unease meant that he wanted to ask you about the exam as well. You decided to jump the gun on him.
"Why do you still have that?" He interrupted, lifting and pointing a timid finger. You blinked at him and followed his gaze to the corner of your room, where Tamaki's Homecoming crown sat prominently displayed.
"Huh? That? You gave it to me, remember? I wouldn't get rid of it."
"But... it was such a terrible night for you. Why... would you want to be reminded of it?" Even he couldn't help but physically shrink at the memory of it.
"The only thing terrible about it was that it made you sad. But to me, it felt like a starting point." You remembered Mirio's touching speech about making a grand sacrifice for the sake of somebody else. "It's the night I became a hero to someone."
"To me." Tamaki gifted you a tiny smile and you beamed at him. You couldn't help but blush a little. In all honesty, you couldn't think of anyone on earth whose hero you'd rather be.
"Squid girl... I might make that my hero name."
"Oh dear god, please don't do that!" His angular features were painted with dread now and you couldn't help but laugh at him.
"I wont." You promised to console him.
"Oh! I meant to ask you... how do you think the exam went?"
"Well... I figure I got an average amount of points in the practical portion and felt surprisingly good about the written portion too." Suddenly your anxiety was heightened. You lowered your voice to phrase the question delicately. "So Tamaki... how did you stay focused? You know... with all those cameras watching?" You saw his eyes go wide in a state of shock and you feared you had said the worst thing possible.
"There were CAMERAS?!" He shrieked in horror. You grinned wide, feeling a sense of relief wash over you.
'Yeah, he definitely passed...'
Chapter 11: Competition Returns
UA was very intensive, even just the first week. All the petty drama from middle school now seemed like a very distant memory. Your focus was only forward, pushing your physical limits with your best friends at your side. Mirio’s boisterous cheer echoed from the stands when your name appeared in blaring lights. You wiped the sweat from your dirty face, having won your second match in the Sports Festival tournament.
“The semifinals... That’s amazing, F/N.” Amajiki continued to flatter you ruthlessly, as usual. “You’re so talented. It’s only our first year at UA and you already shine so brightly.”
“It was no big deal.” You shrugged. Honestly though, it wasn't just you being overly modest. It had actually been fairly easy to get this far, mostly because all of your strongest classmates didn't fare well in a tournament setting. Mirio still had squeamish control of his quirk at best, not to mention becoming nude on live television wasn't something he particularly wanted to be remembered for… Tamaki couldn't function in front of the crowd and cameras, and quickly tumbled out of the rankings. And Nejire had to vastly limit her quirk’s power or she would run the risk of reducing the whole stadium to rubble. “I bet if you were in a match against me, and there wasn't a bunch of people watching, you would beat me.”
“No way!” He gawked. “You’ve already proven yourself more talented than me today. I wouldn't stand a chance.”
“You’re selling yourself short again, Tamaki.” You sighed. While you had grown used to Amajiki’s low self-image, you deeply wished he could acknowledge even a fraction of the potential that you saw in him every day. As far as physical abilities go, his honed skill and multifaceted use of his quirk could obliterate you in terms of strategy. However, if you had the wherewithal to use mind games, it would be very easy for Tamaki to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. You hoped such a scenario would never happen. “Shew.” Your throat was dry from all that exertion. “I’m thirsty.”
“Oh! Let me go get you something to drink!” He felt rude for not thinking about it sooner.
“You don't have-“
“Be right back!” And he vanished back into the grandstand. You smiled, making your way towards…
“Ah. Room two.” You opened the door to the waiting room to prepare for your next match, but just then, your smile disappeared. Before your eyes stood a familiar face, locks of silken flowing hair dancing to her sides as she turned.
“Ah. Squid girl, right?” She raised an impudent eyebrow. You nodded with a sarcastic hum.
“Jezebel, right?” Her smirk faded as yours rose.
“Izabel.” She corrected flatly.
“Ah.” As if you would have forgotten the name of an arch enemy.
“Look, this needs to stop.”
“You’ve always hated me and never gave me a reason why.”
‘Oh, I’ll give you a thousand reasons why…’
“I never did anything to you-“
“F/N! It’s almost time for your match- Oh…” Tamaki abruptly walked in, catching the two of you mid-conversation. It was then Izabel gazed at you with a look of utmost clarity, a blood-chilling smile creeping up her lips.
“…But I didn't really have to… did I…” It was in that terrible instant, you could see the malicious gears turning in her brain. She knew your feelings for Tamaki and she wanted you to know that she knew. Before you had time to process this, Izabel immediately turned her attention to Amajiki.
“Tamakiiiiii!” She screeched with a huge grin.
‘Oh no…’ You grimaced as she continued.
“It’s been too long! It’s like you haven’t aged at all!”
“I have a portrait in my attic doing that for me.” He mumbled plainly, causing the tension to break enough for you to chuckle. Tamaki’s jokes always came out of nowhere. Izabel eyed your reaction before bursting into a laugh. You scowled. You knew she didn't get the joke, but she played up her laughter anyway, grabbing onto his arm in a flirtatious manner.
“You’re so funny, Tamaki!”
All you could do was stand there and stare like a damn idiot. You heard your name called by Present Mic and wordlessly exited the room. ‘What have I done?!’ You wondered gravely as you passed through the shadowed archway of the stadium. ‘Oh god, what have I done…’ You messed with the wrong enemy, that’s what you had done. ‘But oh well. She’s in general studies. It’s not like we’ll have to see her again after today.’ But then Nedzu’s words echoed in your head. He had announced that students from other programs had the opportunity to join the hero course if they are recognized in the Sports Festival. A miniature swell of panic rose in your veins at that thought. ‘No. That won’t happen. Just stay focused.’ You told yourself.
You took a deep breath and stepped into the ring. The victor of the other semifinal had already been decided and this was the second to last match. Despite your resolve, you couldn't keep yourself from eying the audience. Izabel’s vibrant hair caught the sunlight, and you couldn't help but notice her giggling and making advances on a very flustered-looking Tamaki. Apprehension churned in your stomach as he handed her his phone. They were exchanging phone numbers! The loud announcer and audience cheers seemed to pause for an instant. From the stands you met Tamaki’s eyes, only for a second. Then everything went black.
“Mmf…” You stirred and rubbed your eyes.
“Ah! You’re awake!” Amajiki’s concerned voice rang out. “Are you alright?” You blinked and looked around.
“You don't remember?” Nejire asked and you shook your head. “You got distracted and your opponent knocked you out as soon as the match started.”
“Ah!” You gawked in disbelief.
“Yeah. I can’t believe you spaced out like that.” Mirio said. “What were you looking at?” Your uncomfortable silence made his expression soften. “Well anyway, the award ceremony is starting soon. Better get you up there…”
You pursed your lips at the bronze medal weighing heavy around your neck. Various recruiters stopped you on your walk through the cheering crowd. You were not at all ungrateful for your status; in fact you were quite surprised you managed to make it this far. However, you couldn't help but kick yourself for your lack of diligence back in the ring. Only foolish rookies allow themselves to get distracted by their emotions. You sighed in frustration. ‘I must have looked like an idiot staring off in the distance like that. At least they probably don't know what I was looking at…’
‘Ah. The distraction himself emerges.’
“Tamaki. I was just looking for you.” You smiled.
“You were? For me? Really?”
“Yeah. I wanted to give you something.” You closed the distance between you. “Hold still.” He tensed but obeyed, and before he had time to object, you lifted your arms, and he felt a weight around his neck. He blinked in confusion, noting your glistening award now dangling from his neck.
“No, F/N.” He protested immediately. “You can’t give me this. It’s yours.”
“It’s only fair.” You grinned playfully. “You have my medal, I have your crown.” Amajiki fell speechless and blushed at the ground.
“But… I only got that crown because of a prank.” He grimaced, dark sincere eyes finally meeting yours. “You actually worked hard for this.”
“I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today if it weren’t for you supporting me, Tamaki. You deserve this more than I do.”
The dark-haired teen felt the involuntary swell in his chest again. It was beautiful and warm and- “Eep!” He squeaked in panic without you noticing.
“What do you say we go out and celebrate?”
“Uhm! Y-yeah.” Tamaki’s voice grew higher with every word, and he knew he needed to rush home as quickly as possible, lest his feelings be outed and ruin your friendship. “B-but I- h-have to stop at home first.” He backed away, body stiff. “I left something there!” And you were left standing in perplexity as your favorite boy ran from your side.
It was a huge relief when Tamaki reached his home. The instant the door shut behind him, he shed a blast of petals. He shrugged them off like a blanket falling from his shoulders and they landed on the carpet around him like a garland of roses. He heaved a deep sigh.
“Guess I’ll clean those up later…”
Amajiki relaxed and laid on the bed, turning on his side to stare at the medal. He frowned despite the warm fuzziness spreading through his heart. He had hoped this affliction would have ebbed, or better, disappeared completely by now. However, his infirmary had only gotten worse lately, causing him to have mercurial outbursts like the one that just occurred. His brain had essentially dissolved into a blob of colorful silly putty in your presence, quite literally oozing with stupidity.
“Ugh.” He buried his face into his pillows in misery. There was no chance you’d ever be interested in someone dull and boring like him anyway.
He had tried everything to put these feelings to rest. He had to cut sakura out of his diet completely, or any flower for that matter. Sure, in emergency situations he had managed to internalize his petals, forcing them into his stomach, but now they were in his system, and because of the mechanism of his quirk he produced more, which in turn took shelter in his stomach again, on and on in a vicious cycle.
Why would anybody ask for love, he wondered. This feeling was a curse, a miserable existence; like being strung out on a dangerous drug. It was a never ending craving, a need. No matter how aware he was of this problem, no matter how it grew, he couldn't stop chasing the high; he didn't want to. Your little encouragements made his whole day, just like today. It was an addiction he would abuse until he was satisfied… or until it killed him; whichever came first.
The pining, the petals, the secrecy, all of it was torture. But the rush of it all… it just felt so good. His cheeks hurt from smiling much more when he was around you, the booming fireworks inside his heart were much too loud, rendering him sleepless. Love was a disease, plain and simple, spreading and attacking his body beyond his control on a cellular level. Heck, even a fever was involved. He couldn't help but notice feeling really hot sometimes when put in situations where you two were in close proximity. This attachment was a global temperature change within his body, throwing off the gentle balance of his homeostasis and lighting his world on fire.
For the briefest moment he had a fleeting desire to take a bath with his toaster.
“Yipe!” He startled hard when his phone vibrated in his back pocket, tickling his rear end. As usual, his stomach did that irritating flip when he saw the text was from you. The little bubble on his screen said, ‘Let’s grab food. All that fighting made me hungry!’ A few taps with his finger and he was up grabbing his keys.
“On my way.”
Chapter 12: Of Vacuums and Food Allergies
“Did you lose your medal already, F/N?” Nejire scoffed, noting its absence. “Where is it?”
“It’s where it belongs.” You said simply.
“The heck does that mean?” She scrunched her face impatiently, awaiting an explanation she wasn't going to get. Just then, the tiny bell jingled at the door of the restaurant, signaling the entry of your final party member. “Over here, Tamaki!” She hollered to him. Mirio smiled big when he saw the shining thing adorned around Tamaki’s neck as he approached the table. Hado’s curiosity got the better of her and she spoke up again. “Why are you wearing that medal, Tamaki? You didn't win anything.”
“Nejire!” Your mouth fell open at her blatant rudeness. Although she had been indoctrinated into the group, she didn't coddle Tamaki the way you and Mirio did. Instantly, your award was shoved right in front of your face.
“She’s right!” Amajiki shut his eyes tightly with guilt, holding the medal out in front of him. “Please take it back!” You gently pushed his hands away, ignoring the warmth in your tummy that arose when your fingertips brushed his skin.
“No, Tamaki. It was a gift. You keep it.”
“I insist.” You smiled. “Just think of it as a thank you gift for being such a good friend.”
‘Friend…’ For some reason, Amajiki couldn’t help but feel a pang of dysphoria at the word. He knew exactly why though, and he hated himself for it. He should be grateful that you could tolerate his presence at all, let alone dote on him the way that you do. How selfish it would be of him to think that isn’t enough…
“Yeah, but I’ve known you longer, F/N.” Hado addressed, thoughtful finger on her chin. “So you should be giving that to me, shouldn't you?” Tamaki gripped the thing a little tighter, not wanting his special little piece of you to be taken away… even if he didn't deserve it.
“Maybe she just likes him better than you, Nejire.” Mirio stated playfully and you couldn't help but chuckle. She stuck her tongue out and aimlessly flung a piece of calamari at him with her chopsticks.
“Nejire!” Tamaki turned pale at her childish behavior in public, darting his eyes around to see if any bystanders had been offended.
“Hey!” Mirio jabbed with a fiendish grin. “I thought only he who is without sin could cast the first squid!” You cracked up at that. Without warning, a piece was flung in your direction as well.
“Hey! What was that for?!” You guffawed, huge smile still plastered on your face.
“You should be used to it by now, right?” She teased. The three of you rolled with laughter and Tamaki groaned.
“Guys… please…” The shy ravenette frowned at the table. ‘Taking the squid for you’ and other such phrases had become an ongoing joke amongst the group, much to Tamaki’s chagrin. No matter what, it always seemed to remain a sensitive topic for him. Each time it was brought up, he couldn't help but relive the pain you must have felt, just like it was fresh. He found it a terribly cruel thing to make light of your suffering.
“Are you all ready to order?” The server interrupted the gargle of laughter.
“Ah, crap.” You said. “We need a few minutes I guess.” The group settled down and opened the menus. From across the table you could see Amajiki’s face becoming more and more frustrated as he read. “What’s the matter, Tamaki?”
“Is there anything on this menu without sakura?” He grimaced nervously. Just what he needed, a bigger accumulation of flower petals taking refuge in his stomach…
“I mean… it is cherry blossom season. You probably wont find anything else.” Mirio chuckled and Tamaki bit his lip.
“What’s wrong with sakura, Tamaki?” You asked, noting his discomfort.
“Uh… food allergy.” He lied.
“Oh! Is that why you used to shed rose petals?” You raised a snide eyebrow, knowing full well why.
“Ah!” ‘That confirms she still remembers…’ “Y-yes… That’s exactly why…”
“Mm.” You nodded before a mischievous glint flickered across your eyes. “And it had nothing to do with you liking a girl or anything…” Tamaki’s eyes widened and he choked on his drink.
“You okay, buddy?” Mirio reached over and gave him a hardy pat on the back.
“*cough* *cough* I’m fine!” He managed to gasp out. He averted your eyes until the food arrived. You and Mirio ate the fastest, gobbling in a ravenous haste. The Sports Festival had really worked up an appetite. Nejire, despite being immature earlier, kept to her ladylike dining procedure. And then there was Tamaki. He picked apart his food, moving it around his plate, mouth pressed into that familiar uneasy squiggle.
“Something wrong, Tamaki? Did they mess up your order? I can send it back for you since I know you don't like doing that.” It wouldn't have been the first time you’d addressed the wait staff on his behalf. He never wanted to be a burden to anyone.
“Ah- No… That’s not it.”
“You’ve barely touched your food though. Usually you eat a lot.” You furrowed your brows in concern.
“That’s not very nice to say…”
“What I mean is… I’m worried. Are you feeling sick?” You placed your hand gently atop his and he felt his face heat up.
‘The worst incurable sickness that anyone has ever endured…’ “No. I’m fine…”
Tamaki’s vibrating phone caused the whole group to fall silent and look at him.
“Uh… Hello?” He answered and you could clearly hear a high-pitched female voice on the other end. “H-hi… Izabel…” He mumbled in hushed tones and you weren’t able to hide your displeasure before he saw it. “Uh-uhm!” He assumed you had deemed him incredibly rude for answering his phone at the dinner table. “I c-can’t talk right now…” His posture shrank more with each passing moment. “We’re uhm… out celebrating F/N’s accomplishment.” On the other line, you clearly heard her say:
“Why? She didn't get first place.”
‘Bitch…’ You thought.
“Neither did you.” Tamaki replied defensively before remembering himself. You smiled at that. “Ah! I er- uhm… didn't mean-” He was interrupted by her annoyingly bubbly voice. Your grin suddenly disappeared when his face turned scarlet. “Uhm… s-sure. B-bye…”
“What’s with that face?!” Mirio’s fascinated expression intensified.
“S-she… called me ‘cutie’…”
Chapter 13: The Argument
Tamaki’s phone call had been eating at you since it happened. ‘She made him blush…’ You frowned. That was your job. Well… at least you wished it was. But it seemed no matter how you tried, you couldn't get Tamaki’s petals to fall. Each failed attempt broke you a little bit more. Surely if anything were going to do it, gifting him your special award would have been the catalyst. That is what you assumed, yet you hadn’t been able to trigger a single one.
It had been so long since you’d seen them, so soft and sweet and beautiful. You would give anything to bring them back. The more selfless part of you considered ceasing your courtship attempts and letting other girls get close to him. As much as it would pain you to lose such a special person, you wanted Tamaki to find love again. You’d like to think that if he were truly happy with someone else, you would be happy for him. A sharp pang shot through your chest as you imagined him in the arms of another girl. Okay, you thought wrong. ‘I guess I’m selfish.’
On the other hand, even if you were to allow such things, Izabel was still not an acceptable candidate. She was shallow, cruel and hurtful. She had no business being with a magnanimous and gentle spirit like Tamaki. Though part of you had to wonder if she was genuinely interested in him. After all, being a hero student at UA was a big rank boost from his former average-shy-middle-schooler status. Not to mention his features had only become more handsome over the years. However, your instinct told you her feelings weren’t genuine, and this was a petty declaration of war upon you. You had made a formidable enemy, one that was not afraid to make Tamaki the collateral damage on her path to destroy you. But you couldn't let him be heartbroken again; she wouldn't infringe upon your turf any longer. There was one last weapon remaining in your arsenal. You would have to confess to Tamaki.
‘I mean… it’s about time. It’s long overdue…’ You chewed your lip in hesitation as the nerves began to surface. If Tamaki rejected you, the chips would fall where they may- as well as the shattered pieces of your heart- but you decided that no matter the cost, you couldn't allow him to fall into the arms of someone who would hurt him. With a few deep breaths and a cute outfit to boost your self-esteem, you made your way to the shy boy’s house.
Amajiki diligently polished your shining award, ridding it of all blemishes and fingerprints. He made sure to hang it up above his desk, just as you had prominently displayed his crown in your own room. As appreciative as he was of the gesture, he felt this silly medal was a mere trinket in comparison to the honor bestowed on him; you were the true prize.
It was at this point that Tamaki considered giving up on this uphill battle he was fighting. His heart and mind had accidentally mingled now, forming a veritable meshwork of tiny admirations, all woven into an intricate dew-shining web. After being with you for so long, even his common sense and insecurity couldn't talk his heart out of loving you. It was time to confess; even Mirio had said so. A week or so ago, his less-than discreet friend happened to phase through his wall on a not-cleaning day and found the apartment littered with petals. Then, of course, Tamaki had no choice but to confide in him. Mirio was understanding and supportive like he always is, but of course he recommended doing things the… “Mirio” way. Tamaki couldn't even dream of making grand romantic gestures or telling someone outright the way Mirio insisted he do.
He needed advice, ideally from a female source. Nejire had come to his mind first, but he couldn't help but be tormented with fear that she’d spill the beans to you. Though she wasn't a gossip by nature, she certainly wasn't known for her secret-keeping abilities. Izabel on the other hand… she’s what one would call a secret-keeping professional. She was the only other person he could recall that knew about his petals, and on the plus side, there was little to no chance of her telling you since you clearly hated each other. Izabel had already asked him to dinner sometime this week, which means she must not completely detest his presence.
He hated to pester people, so he rarely initiated plans. But recently his petals had become a nuisance. They weren’t even pink anymore; they had morphed to a darker shade of red, deepened by the complexity of his emotions. It was definitely the time to ask for romantic advice. Granted, Amajiki was riven with anxiety at the idea of you finding out his feelings, but at least he had faith in your integrity. You would let him down easy, so to speak, so at least he knew better than to fear a cruel and horrible rejection. And if he remained silent for too long, you would surely find someone else worthy of you and he’d always be plagued, wondering what might have been if he’d been up-front with you. After staring at his phone for a few minutes he finally made the decision to text Izabel.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
‘That couldn't be her already, could it?’ Tamaki wondered in amazement, as he had only received a response text less than a minute ago.
“UWAAAHHH!” Amajiki’s shriek must have approached dog-whistle territory when he heard your voice outside the door. You almost never made surprise visits to his apartment; you were much too courteous for that- or maybe you just knew how neurotic he was… “UH- UHMM!!” With wide frantic eyes he froze in place. He couldn't answer the door now; everywhere he walked he was ankle-deep in flower petals! “O-ONE SEC!” He hollered to you.
“OKAY!” You answered and suddenly heard an agglomeration of loud thumps. Behind the frame Amajiki was stumbling about the flat in a heated haste, throwing open closet doors and tripping over furniture. You blinked in amusement when you clearly heard the sound of the vacuum cleaner hum to life. “…I told you that you don't have to clean up before I come over, Tamaki!”
“…” You shook your head and chuckled lightly at his need for approval. “You’re ridiculous.” This went on for a few more minutes before you lost your patience. “Tamaki, open the door!” Finally the latch clicked open and you were left facing a panting and sweaty Tamaki.
“Haahhh… Sorry about that. It was… really messy…” Your smile made his stomach twist. “Would you like to… come in?”
“Yeah.” You stepped through the threshold. “Sorry to drop in on you like this, but I thought I’d take you out to celebrate you starting your internship with Fatgum. And…” You scratched the back of your neck bashfully. “I have something important I want to tell you… Something… I hope you’ll be happy to hear…”
“O-oh…” He frowned. “I’m uh- sorry, F/N. I already made plans for tonight…”
“Oh. If Mirio’s coming we can just get him a ticket too-“
“It’s um… not with Mirio…”
“Oh? Then who?”
“Izabel wanted to-“
“Izabel?” Immediately your guard went up.
“Please don't make that face.” He pleaded, seeing your distaste. “I knew you’d be upset if you found out… so that’s why I didn't tell you…” You turned around so that he wouldn't see you roll your eyes. Izabel probably convinced him that you were cautious around her for no reason, and that he should keep their meetings secret because you were petty and unreasonable.
“So you just forgave her for everything she did to you, huh? That’s generous…” You couldn't help but peer up at him with exhaustion.
“I… know that you’re suspicious. But we don't know for sure that she was involved back then…”
“Are you SERIOUS, Tamaki?!” You gawked at him.
“Well… her friends did it. I know you have proof of that… but that doesn't necessarily mean that she had a part in it.”
“Oh, so I suppose she took you to Homecoming because she was madly in love with you, is that it?” You scowled at him.
“Is it that hard for you to believe a pretty girl would like me?!” He snapped and you took a step backwards. It was as if Izabel herself were speaking through his lips.
“…You know I don't think that, Tamaki…” You frowned. “I just don't trust her…”
“I’m just saying, isn’t it possible that your past feelings for her have skewed what you want to see?”
“Look who’s talking, Tamaki!”
A thick silence fell between you two, resulting in an impasse. You sighed, trying to compose yourself.
“She’s going to hurt you again…” You refused to back down from this. You couldn't bear to witness a repeat of what happened last time. But you couldn't explain the whole truth to him. In fact, Izabel wasn't going to try anything this time and you knew it. He wasn't her target… not this time. He was, however, a pawn in her scheme, a sacrifice for her true objective: to foil the plans of her rival, the one who had once foiled hers.
“I’m not a child, F/N.” Amajiki started to feel a bit patronized. He had no intention of falling for her, but he couldn't exactly outright say that he was meeting with her to ask for love advice about you either. He definitely thought you were overreacting because of a long-standing personal grudge.
“You’re acting like one.” For some reason you thought it was a good idea to say it. Perhaps your logic told you that getting serious would be a better way to get through to him; but you realized when his lips curled that you were mistaken. Tamaki was angry now.
“Careful, F/N… You don't want to catch a cold from that icy tone of yours…”
“Why are you getting defensive?!” You raised your voice. “I’m just trying to protect you!”
“Protect me from what?!” He threw his hands in the air. “She might not have had anything to do with it! You don't know!” You narrowed your eyes.
“You’re right, Tamaki.” You placed your hands on your hips, nasty sarcasm seeping into your manner. “I don't know… I was on the OTHER side of the squid, remember?”
“…” His expression changed and he closed his mouth. That one struck deep. You took advantage of his tense silence, stepping forward to smack the concert tickets against his chest, shoving him backwards in the process.
“Have fun on your date.” You spat, turning to leave.
“Wait! I never said-“
“…that it was a date…”
It was exactly as you had feared; she has poisoned Tamaki against you, just like before, and he couldn't even see it happening! ‘How could he let her do that?!’ You wondered helplessly, clutching onto your pillow tightly. You tried to find his love at the bottom of a tub of chocolate ice cream, to no avail. ‘You should know I wouldn't lie to you, Tamaki! I thought you knew me better than that...’ You were still shaking with anger, bitterness and wretched jealousy towards Izabel and her beguiling ways filling you to the brim. You knew the tears would come soon.
‘Maybe I should just… give up on him…’
You could only recall one other time that you had fought with Tamaki, and it wasn't really much of a fight. One day after your literature and speech class, where Amajiki had just given a presentation, you made an offhanded joke without thinking.
“Oh my gosh, Tamaki! I just realized how you could be great in front of crowds!” When he inquired out of curiosity, you replied with a tactless, “All you have to do is join a heavy metal band. Then all you’d have to do on stage is scream.”
Your thoughtless quip was not meant to be hurtful, or even to make light of his suffering, but it seemed that it had unintentionally accomplished both. Tamaki didn't talk to you for days and you thought your world had ended. But Mirio and Nejire managed to bring him around and you felt terrible about it for weeks after he had already forgiven you.
Amajiki let out a frustrated huff behind the door you just slammed shut. It was almost instantaneous that his fuming frame of mind morphed into a sickening mixture of anxiety and guilt. He hated you being mad at him. In fact, at this particular juncture he couldn't think of anything he hated more.
No matter how he fought or tried to deny it, you were eclipsing the sun of his heart, becoming the only source of his focus. His actions began to reflect yours like a mirror. When you were sad he was miserable, but when your confidence blazed bright he felt like he was capable of anything, even flight. That may already be a facet of his quirk, but that’s beside the point; it was a different kind of flying.
Tamaki sighed as the memories of that night returned to him once more. He recalled how Izabel perfectly manipulated the situation- manipulated him- only to quickly cast him aside shortly after Homecoming. She stopped speaking to him as well, but back then he assumed it was because he was too embarrassing to be around. He couldn't blame her for avoiding the most hated person at the school. But he always knew deep down that she definitely was not innocent in all of that. Tonight he had flown off the handle a bit, which he rarely does, but something about you always managed to elicit strong emotional reactions from him. He wanted to talk to you… but he was afraid now that you wouldn't want to talk to him.
‘I at least… have to try…’
To your immense surprise, it was when you had emotionally reached rock bottom that there was a knock on your door. Tamaki was beside himself with anxiety. ‘Oh gosh, what do I say?!’ He wrung his hands. ‘I should just apologize and beg for forgiveness… We’re friends. And F/N is kind. So kind…’ He bit his lip as his neurotic side began to take hold. ‘…But what if she sends me away? What if she says she never wants to see me again?!’ His panic approached terminal velocity as he heard footsteps on the other side of the door. ‘Oh no! I didn't come up with anything to say!’ The footsteps were nearer now. ‘If I run right now, she’ll never know it was me!’
‘I CAN’T DO THIS!’ Amajiki gulped as the latch unhinged and the porch light flickered on. Was it a light from heaven? From hell? Tamaki didn't know; but either way, the one who had come to claim his soul had arrived. The door swung open.
“Uh-UHM!” He blinked far too many times in the short few seconds to follow. Was it to try and wake him from this horrible nightmare? Perhaps. In a stiff and accidentally violent gesture, the young hero lifted the concert tickets in his tightly clenched fist. “Uhm! W-we h-have to hurry if we want to make it on time…”
‘Crap! That wasn't what I wanted to say! I came here to apologize…’ He steadied himself and took a deep breath, one of the few times he was able to use your utter confusion to his advantage. “Th-that is… if you still wanted to go with me…” He finally met your gaze and you gave him a tiny smile.
“You didn't have to-“
“I wanted to.” He replied firmly, and it felt as though the air had been cleared somehow. It was amazing how little needed to be said for the two of you to make amends. He guessed that was just the power of your strong friendship.
“I’d love to go with you, Tamaki.” All seemed right with the world for a fleeting instant, before something began to gnaw at the back of your mind.
“I think we can make it on time if we-“
“Wait…” You pulled him back gently by the sleeve.
“What is it?”
“…” You paused, an internal struggle pulling your heart in two directions. “You know I wouldn't lie to you, right, Tamaki?” He immediately sensed the change in energy and frowned.
“…Yeah, I know.”
As much as you tried to fight it, you were feeling terribly selfish. You had used guilt to tear Tamaki away from the plans he had made with another girl. In that regard you were no better than that good-for-nothing, Izabel. Your lips quivered. It had been years since you had seen Tamaki’s petals, the signature of his love. Love… that fantastic feeling surging through your chest every time you saw him; you wanted him to experience it too.
“I’m s-sorry, Tamaki.”
“Huh? What for?”
“I shouldn't have intervened… It was wrong of me. Tamaki, I…” Your voice broke. “I feel like… I’m keeping you from being happy…” You turned way from him to hide a sob.
‘No…’ He grimaced. ‘Sunshine shouldn't cry…’ He placed a consoling hand on your shoulder. “I wouldn't be happy without you by my side.” He admitted, but it fell upon deaf ears.
“P-please.” You begged. “I don't want to get in the way of your dreams.” You had heard for so long that if you truly loved someone you would let them go. Tamaki was bewildered.
“But… I don't understand… Is this still about Izabel?” Your stone silence confirmed his suspicion. “But I…. don't have feelings for her anymore…” His volume dropped. “I like… s-someone else…” His confession stopped you dead in your tracks.
“So p-please don't cry anymore.” You saw the pain in his eyes, which were now watering up too. You instantly latched onto him in a hug.
“I’m sorry, Tamaki!” You proclaimed fiercely. “I wouldn't be happy without you with me either!” Involuntarily, Tamaki felt his chest swell with affection, and that dangerously familiar tingling feeling approached the surface.
‘No! Suppress it!’ As if you were aware of his impending demise, you shamelessly continued.
“It’s just… the reason I get so protective of you…” You tightened your arms around him, burying your face into his collarbone. “…is because you’re so important to me.” Your words warmed his heart and a blush bloomed on his cheeks.
‘Oh no…’ He couldn't fight the rush that came bubbling up rapidly like an erupting volcano. ‘Oh no!’
Beyond his control, he hiccupped. He tried to close his mouth as fast as possible, but you had felt him twitch and were now inspecting his face. He thought he had been able to hide it in time, but you spotted a fleck of dark red at the corner of his lips.
“Oh my god, are you bleeding?!” In a state of panic you brought your thumb to his lips and moved to swipe it away. You froze in confusion when the texture you felt was not liquid; it was… soft? “What the… Tamaki, open your mouth.” You demanded and his eyes grew wide.
“Eep!” He let out an accidental yelp. ‘Not like this!’ He didn't want to confess this way! It was much too humiliating! But despite his protest, you slipped the delicate thing from between his lips and examined it. A warm supple petal now rested between your fingertips, the darkest shade you’d ever seen them.
It was now that your mind brought forth the week you first saw Tamaki’s blossoms fall, and you remembered Nejire’s words as you inquired about the change in color hue. ‘Boy’s in deep. That’s what it means…’ Amajiki was in love, more than just a fleeting fancy. The shade of red indicated it’s sheer strength, a bond deepened by something resolute and immovable.
You gazed up at him with what he could only describe as a ‘knowing’ expression. Tamaki felt as if he had just been rooted into place, a deer locked within the scope of a hunter.
“Tamaki, is this… for me?” You asked breathlessly.
“Uh!!! UMM!!” There was no comeback for this, no believable white lie he could possibly formulate to get out of this. He couldn't even try to look at the glass half full like Mirio always tells him; at this very moment there was no glass. He was caught now, trapped within the confines of your inquisitive gaze. The tips of his pointed ears burned red and his nervous stutter let loose the truth."Y-yes..."
“Ah! Really?!” Awe and euphoria overtook your body and you grabbed his arms to keep yourself from floating away- and also perhaps to keep him from running, as his frightened aura made it appear that that was a distinct possibility. “This is a dream come true, Tamaki. I’ve missed your petals so much.”
“I-I… eh?” His role as a stuttering raspberry was instantly halted by your sincere confession.
“How long have you been hiding them?” You asked and his blush returned at full force.
“Ah-uhm- uhhh!” Finally Amajiki knew he had been cornered. He couldn't hide his true feelings any longer. With tightly shut eyes and a squiggly grimace, he finally found his voice, no matter how tiny and quiet it was. “Years…”
“…!” A moment of silence passed and a rapturous smile crawled up your face. “PWAHAAHA!”
“Ah!” Tamaki flinched as if he’d just been struck, turning his face away. “Don't laugh at me…”
“Oh, Tamaki, I’m not making fun of you!” You grinned brightly, squaring his shoulders to face you.
“I’ve been trying to get you to shed your petals for me for years too!” You admitted, cheeks warming up. His mouth fell open.
“Yes. I wanted to see them again so badly… I tried everything I could to make you fall in love with me.”
“You… succeeded…” He mumbled quietly before chuckling. “I wish you had told me.”
“I wish you had told me!” You retorted in jest.
“You’re right… This is my fault really… I should have- Mmm!“ His unneeded apology was cut off by your lips meeting his. He tensed as you pulled him close and you could feel the nervous energy radiating off of him. When you parted, Tamaki appeared as a blushing mess. You hadn’t even touched his hair yet it somehow appeared more disheveled on principle. But perhaps it was just your imagination. He opened his mouth to speak- probably to ask for feedback about his kissing performance- but you cut him off.
“I love you, Tamaki.” It was about time that you said it, and the unease seemed to slide effortlessly off of his features. “Promise to never hide your petals from me again.” You demanded, and this time he smiled.
“I promise.” He didn't have time to return your ‘I love you’ before he was yanked into your embrace once again. Tamaki finally relaxed into your kiss and you began to feel intermittent velvet sensations along your skin, something akin to small soft raindrops. You peeked your eyes open to see Tamaki’s affection flying free, floating on the breeze, catching the warm glow from the porch light. Through the air they danced, tickling your arms that were securely wrapped around your favorite person. It wasn't long before you found yourself ankle-deep in them, surrounded by a cocoon of love. Tamaki sighed and you couldn't help but giggle with joy.
“What’s so funny?” He asked curiously.
“It’s nothing.” You kept your arms wrapped around his neck as you continued. “I was just thinking… if I could go back in time, I would gladly take a thousand more squids for you.”
“You’re so embarrassing…”
GUUUHHHH! Sorry that took so long, guys. I got very invested in writing a story for another fandom. But I gotta be honest, I had to completely overhaul this ending (no pun intended). I was like 70% deep in this story when I realized the original ending I had planned had a fatal flaw in it. Originally I was going to have them make up, have more stuff happen, then have the ending take place after he got shot in the canon manga. But then I realized his petals wouldn't work once his quirk was deactivated and I was like, "...Shit."
So I hope you enjoyed this fun little Amajiki fluff anyway. Thanks so much for reading!