This shouldn’t be happening. Why is this happening? Why me? Why him?!
These were Nagito’s distressed thoughts upon seeing yet another pale pink heart float as it materialized out of his chest.
The heart attempted to flutter away towards its target, until Nagito snatched it out of the air and hastily shoved it into his schoolbag. Hearts couldn’t be squeezed, crushed, smashed, or otherwise broken, but they could fade away with time- and that was what Nagito had been doing to every one that appeared thus far.
How long will it take for this one to fade? Ten minutes? An hour? Three hours?
No matter how long it took, Nagito was willing to wait, because there was no way in hell he’d ever let one of his hearts reach the reserve course student known as Hajime Hinata.
Ignoring the fact that Nagito was already unloveable, he would have preferred the hearts to appear for anyone else- someone who wasn’t a hopeless case, someone who wasn’t blinded by their admiration for Hope’s Peak Academy, someone who wasn’t eerily similar to and yet so different from himself. He hadn’t even anticipated that the hearts would appear for him; Nagito had thought, initially, that his interest in Hajime was because he had managed to grow close to many of the main course students. It almost made sense, considering Hajime was ostensibly good at being sociable and had a friendly demeanor. But even so, when the incident happened, Nagito was caught completely off-guard.
Nagito had been chatting with Mahiru in the courtyard about one of her projects, since she was in need of different students to photograph and was having trouble finding subjects who had the time, when she spotted Hajime. Mahiru called out his name, and Hajime stopped to wave at her with a smile- one so bright and maybe even beautiful that something uncomfortable stirred in Nagito’s chest, causing him to flinch. Unlike the other times, where he had passively acknowledged Hajime’s presence, briefly conversed with him, and went on with his day, something was different. The feeling in Nagito’s chest tightened, and he clutched at it in pain, closing his eyes tightly.
“Nagito, are you okay? You don’t look so good,” Mahiru said. Nagito nodded, unwilling to let himself worry her. But when he opened his eyes again, he saw Hajime approaching them, or rather, him, with concern in his expression. The pain doubled, as though there was something foreign in him that was trying to escape by pushing against his chest.
“I… I have to go,” Nagito said weakly, rushing off as fast as he could while the sensation continued. By the time he reached the boy’s restroom, he was almost sure that he was going to die. He clutched at the edge of the sink with heaving breaths. The feeling in his chest pulsed harder and harder, until… it suddenly faded. Nagito’s eyelids fluttered when it was over, and he took a deep breath to steady himself. Relief and confusion flooded over him in tandem, and he had almost decided that it was worth a trip to the nurse. And then he saw it.
A tiny, fist-sized, pale pink heart- not the anatomical kind, but the kind he’d seen other girls dot their i’s with at times- was drifting up above his head.
He had learned about it in health class- the sign of falling in love. “It’s natural,” his teacher had said, “And everyone experiences it at one point or another in their life. Maybe even multiple times. The hearts will flow out of your chest and move toward the person you like, in search of a partner.” It was, supposedly, the most romantic way to find a significant other- if your hearts found each other, it was traditionally a sign of a successful future together.
But now, Nagito was certain that his future would be full of the worst luck he could ever bring.
Because he was falling for Hajime.
From that point on, Nagito tried his best to make as little contact with Hajime as possible. Not that it worked all that well, considering their lunch breaks, gym classes, and after-school free time lined up. Every time Hajime would let out that damningly adorable laughter at one of Kazuichi’s jokes, every time he’d tug at his shirt collar after doing push-ups in the gym, every time he’d furrow his brow in concentration as he did homework in the library, Nagito would feel the familiar pulse in his chest. Thankfully, the pain ebbed considerably as he adjusted to the sensation, but the fact that the hearts were starting to take longer and longer to disintegrate into nothingness was alarming. At that point, he almost feared his inevitably approaching good luck- because the also-inevitable fallout would most likely be the revelation of his worthless feelings.
And it’s not as though Hajime would ever return them, anyway.
Nagito was currently dwelling on that thought as he leaned against the trunk of one of the courtyard’s trees during his lunch break. He had been idly observing Hajime as he chatted with Fuyuhiko about something-or-other, trying not to focus on the way Hajime’s eyes lit up as he spoke. The familiar feeling of a tug on his chest was felt, and yet another heart made its way out. He expertly plucked it straight out of the air and shoved it into his schoolbag, along with the other three that had materialized in the last half-hour. It was almost worrying how the hearts were starting to appear more frequently, and Nagito was running out of places to hide them. That, and the fact that they had not only appeared after Nagito interacted with Hajime, but that they had also started appearing when he thought about Hajime.
It’s troublesome to be in love…
Nagito snapped out of his thoughts immediately upon hearing Hajime’s voice. He quickly darted his eyes around the area, making sure that no stray hearts had appeared while he was distracted. Fortunately, there didn’t appear to be any.
“Did you need something?” Nagito asked.
“Actually… I was wondering if I could spend some time with you before the lunch break ends,” Hajime said sheepishly.
Nagito’s eyes widened, and he subtly pressed his hand against his chest.
“Considering how you don’t give up once you’ve set your mind to it, I don’t think I could stop you,” He said, trying to keep his voice aloof and not fond. “You’ve never asked to eat with me before, though. I wonder why you’d choose now.”
Hajime smiled, though it didn’t reach his eyes, and sat down next to Nagito.
“I wanted to talk to you, actually. I don’t know why you’ve been avoiding me lately, and… well, I thought that you were getting over the whole reserve course thing and that we might have been getting along, but… was I mistaken?”
Nagito frowned, and admitted, “As much as I’d like to say it’s your fault, the truth of the matter is that it’s mine.”
“Is something wrong?” Hajime pressed. “I know you don’t see me as much of a friend, but I want to be able to help… if I can, anyway.”
Nagito’s frown deepened, and he sighed.
“It’s a personal problem that I’m trying to move past. It’s nothing someone like you should have to worry about.” Nagito’s frown turned into a self-deprecatory smile, and he added, “Besides, I’m sure this is all just a result of my bad luck! It’s almost comical how unfortunate I am- I can’t even find it in myself to hope for a solution!”
Hajime furrowed his brows, and reached out to place his hand on Nagito’s arm. Nagito tried not to choke on his own breath.
“I… I just want to understand you better. That’s all.”
And that was the final straw- Nagito felt the familiar press against his chest, and he bolted upright, grabbing his bag, and hurriedly walked away.
I have three seconds before the heart materializes, and then-
Hajime was chasing after him.
And Nagito was so startled by the fact that he didn’t even register that he had tripped until he collided with the ground.
With a loud ‘oof’, Nagito tried to push himself up. It was suspiciously silent. Hajime hadn’t asked if he was okay. And just when Nagito let himself feel relief at the fact, he glanced over to his bookbag, which had fallen along with him. His books had spilled onto the ground… and the hearts were missing.
“No, no, no-“ He said frantically, then risked a glance behind him. Maybe he was lucky, maybe the hearts had faded in some freak miracle-
“Are these…?” Hajime asked, and Nagito knew it was all over.
Five pale pink hearts- four from Nagito’s bag, one straight from Nagito’s chest- were surrounding Hajime, floating and dancing around him. Nagito plastered a smile onto his face, and glanced back at his bag.
“It’s funny, isn’t it? That I had been trying so long and so hard to hide them, and them your kindness stole them away from me…”
“Don’t fret about it, Hajime. I already know how stupid this entire situation is. I hadn’t intended on telling you, after all.”
“And besides,” Nagito continued, “It’s not like you’d ever… have... the same…”
Nagito’s voice trailed off when something was shoved in his face. Pulling back a bit, he realized what it was: A pale blue heart. And Hajime was holding it.
Nagito looked up at Hajime’s face. Hajime was stiffly avoiding Nagito’s gaze, and the beginnings of a blush were dusted across his cheeks. He pulled away and let go of the blue heart, which floated toward Nagito and spun around him in circles, as if it was excited.
“I don’t… understand,” Nagito said.
“You’re not the only one who’s been trying to hide embarrassing feelings,” Hajime responded.
Nagito quickly glanced around the courtyard, grateful that it was relatively empty, and nobody in particular was paying attention to their exchange.
Hajime shrugged, trying not to be distracted by Nagito’s hearts, which were still dancing around him.
“I don’t really know. Half a year, maybe? It wasn’t very hard to make them go away since you started avoiding me a while ago. But…”
Nagito gakwed at Hajime.
Hajime shuffled his feet, flustered.
“I didn’t even think I had a chance. If there’s anything I’m good at, I guess it’s keeping a poker face.”
Nagito stood up, and took a long look at Hajime. After a moment of deliberation, he tentatively took Hajime’s hand in his own. Seconds later, two new hearts appeared- one pale pink, one pale blue.
“Heh… how unlucky for both of us,” Nagito said.
This time, Hajime’s smile was honest. Nagito couldn’t stop himself from mirroring it.