The rain outside was coming down in heaps and heaps. With an elbow pressed to the windowsill and a cheek in his palm, Amami’s eyes zoned in to the view.
The dim courtyard scenery was much more interesting than the class Ms. Yukizome was currently teaching. He was having trouble following along anyway, having just come back from a recent trip just in time for the upcoming midterms and faulty weather. He’d have to consult Akamatsu later for tutoring, where she’d again reprimand him to cut back on his travels: “Jeez, you’ve fallen more behind! I know traveling is important to you, but you should focus more on your studies!” she always said, to which he’d chuckle sheepishly and reply, “Maybe someday.”
Anyhow, Hope’s Peak Academy valued the nurturing of talents, correct? As the Ultimate Adventurer, Amami saw no fault in his frequent travels, and it wasn’t as if the school cared much for academics. However, he was aware they’d still impact his future if he kept this up, so maybe he’ll start taking Akamatsu’s advice when the next semester rolls around.
The rain still hadn’t let up by the time their final class was released.
Amami sauntered to the front of the classroom, where Akamatsu was chatting with Saihara and Harukawa. “Hey, Akamatsu-san. If you’re free today, could you go over the notes from class with me?”
Akamatsu smiled and clasped her hands apologetically. “I’m sorry, Amami-kun. Because of the rain, the buses today are going to be suspended and I have to catch the last one in fifteen minutes.”
“I see,” Amami said, rubbing his head. “That’s a shame then… I’ll see what I can do on my own. Have a safe tri—”
“No!” Akamatsu cried. The volume of her voice made the three of them jump, but their reaction going unnoticed, she continued, “I know you’re really struggling right now. What kind of friend would I be if I just left you like this?”
“I don’t mind staying to help Amami-kun,” Saihara said. “I can get to my uncle’s office by walking.”
“You don’t have an umbrella though, Saihara-kun,” Akamatsu pointed out, “and wouldn’t walking take half an hour?”
Amami looked between the two of them, feeling guilty for the commotion. Waving a hand in dismissal, he said, “I appreciate it, but it’s really okay. I wouldn’t want to be an inconvenience.”
“No. I know just the person for you,” Akamatsu said. As if on cue, the sliding door hissed opened, and Momota waltzed in with a broom. “Momota-kun has high marks, and he’s also on cleaning duty today. He can help you while he does that.”
“Huh? What about me?” Momota approached the pack in puzzlement. It seemed as though he hadn’t noticed Amami beforehand, so when he got closer, his eyes widened momentarily at the sight of him and his cheeks turned red, but it was gone so quickly that Amami couldn’t do much but shrug it off. Momota flashed a cheesy grin in its place. “Well, uh! Whatever it is, I can help, Akamatsu.”
“That works out then! Momota-kun, you’ll be tutoring Amami-kun after school,” Akamatsu said.
“Huh?!” Momota’s jaw dropped, and this time, Amami could say for certain that there was something he was missing. Something that the rest of the group apparently knew, as Harukawa sighed and Saihara smiled in what looked like pity and Akamatsu seemed more assertive than usual, more pushy.
“It’s all right if you can’t, Momota-kun. It’s no pressure,” Amami added.
“No, i-it’s no problem. I just don’t know how good of a teacher I’d be,” Momota mumbled. Amami wondered if that was really the reason, or at least the full reason.
Admittedly, because of his frequent absences, Amami was lacking in social relations with his classmates. His closest friend was probably Akamatsu, and he’d spent some time with Saihara, Tojo, and Shinguji, as well, but that was about it. In fact, Momota had to be one of the people at the very bottom of the ladder, but Amami was familiar with him because of his boisterous personality and popularity. He was also notable for having the ability to break social outcasts like Harukawa and Hoshi out of their shells, so he wasn’t inept in that field.
Amami looked at the clearly nervous Momota, who was now sharing whispers with Saihara in a very trying-to-be-subtle-but-not-subtle manner. While they did that, Amami couldn’t help wondering if he’d done something to offend Momota? It was probably the first time he’d seen a crack in Momota’s bravado, and it was an unease knowing that he was the most probable cause.
Harukawa slid off the desk she was sitting on, and the tap of her shoes contacting the floor broke Momota and Saihara’s chatter. “If everything’s settled, then let’s go. The bus isn’t going to wait forever,” she said.
“Oh, you’re right!” Akamatsu perked up. She adjusted the straps on her backpack and stood, as well. “Good luck, Amami-kun. I’ll go over anything you’re still having trouble with tomorrow.”
“Sounds good,” Amami said.
With that, Akamatsu, Harukawa, and Saihara began heading out. Momota looked after them longingly, as if expecting them to turn back around, but they soon disappeared into the hallway and Momota was left with no choice but to sigh and scratch the back of his head.
“I can’t believe this,” Amami heard Momota grumble. Momota then turned back around, his fingers awkwardly fiddling with the broom but his grin bright. “Well, uh. Hey, Amami! Nice weather, right?”
He didn’t want to point out that the reason Momota was stuck with him right now was because of the poor weather, so he just settled for a nod. “Sure. I don’t mind the rain.”
“Well, cleaning duty can wait for now,” Momota said, making his way to a corner.
Amami looked dubious. “Are you sure? You don’t have to do this for me, you know.”
“I’m sure. Ouma still owes me from that one time he left his cleaning duty to me so if I don’t finish, I’ll make him do it.” And that’s the firmest statement Momota’s given so far, so Amami let it drop there. He took a seat in the closest desk — it was just the two of them occupying the classroom anyway — and Momota sat in the desk in front of him after leaning the broom against a corner. Momota rotated the chair to face Amami but with one look into his eyes, settled on ninety degrees instead. He cleared his throat. “So, what do you need help with?”
Amami chuckled hesitantly. “This is a bit embarrassing to say, but everything… Mostly math though. I think I’m decent with history.”
“Leave it to me! Math isn’t my best subject, but I’ve tutored Iruma in it so I don’t think I’d be too shabby a teacher.”
Amami raised a brow as he took out his math book. “You’ve tutored Iruma-san?”
“Yeah. She was dumped on me by Akamatsu because apparently she was getting too hard to handle,” Momota explained.
It was admirable how many of their classmates Momota had helped. He spoke of the Iruma incident as if it were nothing, but with what Amami knew about Iruma, he could only imagine how difficult the ordeal must’ve been.
“I’m sorry I was dumped on you by Akamatsu-san, too, haha,” Amami said.
“It’s really no problem!” Momota quickly said. He brought a fist to his chest. “Besides, I’m the Luminary of the Stars! It’s my job to help everyone. I don’t mind doing this at all.”
Amami laughed. “Thank you. Then, can you first help me with this problem?”
Because of Momota’s strange behavior earlier, Amami was half-expecting the tutoring session to succumb into awkwardness, but things went smoother than expected. The more they talked, the more Momota returned to his typical cheerful persona, and Amami began to see the charm that attracted their fellow classmates. Momota’s explanations were smooth and clear, almost on a par with Akamatsu’s, and they spent a proportional amount of time working and exchanging easy conversation.
Amami didn’t stop the moments Momota would go off on a tangent about space. The way his violet eyes sparkled when he spoke about it reminded Amami of the starry night sky, and he found himself envious of it for having such a devotee. Momota’s passion was something he admired.
The rain still hadn’t let up by the time they were packing up their supplies. The sky was even darker now, and Amami checked his watch to find that it was almost five o’clock. As Momota predicted, cleaning duty remained unfinished.
“The rain doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon,” Amami said, looking out the window.
Pause. “I brought an umbrella.”
Amami turned around to find Momota indeed with a black umbrella. Momota had all his things together, seeming ready to depart, so Amami smiled. “You can go on without me. Be safe on your way home.”
“Huh?” Momota looked at him in bewilderment. “No, what kind of guy would I be to leave you here? I wanted to know if you wanted to like— walk home together or something.” He averted his eyes, and his voice lowered. “Not home, but you know, I’ll drop you off at your place. Shouldn’t be far from here, right? Or else you would’ve taken the bus with Akamatsu.”
The invitation caught Amami off guard, but he recovered quickly. Pushing the strap of his bag further up his shoulder, he nodded. “I’ll take you up on the offer then.”
Momota seemed relieved at this.
After turning off the lights in the classroom, they made their way to the exit of the school. Once outside, Amami was hit with the cool wind and the sprinkles of rain that hit his arm despite the roof. He thought to himself, he should’ve brought a coat today.
“Are you cold?” Momota asked as he opened the umbrella.
“A little bit, but I’m all right,” Amami assured, but Momota was already slipping out of the one sleeve of his jacket and holding it out to Amami.
“You can wear this for now if you don’t mind.” Momota’s cheeks had a hint of red, but Amami couldn’t be sure because of the darkness.
“Wouldn’t you be cold then?”
“It’s not like I wear my jacket properly anyway,” Momota said. “Yeah, I know I don’t.”
Amami felt slightly embarrassed at the thought of sharing a jacket. It felt oddly intimate, and just the proposal was making his heart warm. But he wisely decided against thinking too much of it and accepted the jacket with grateful hands, slipping his arms into the sleeves. The two of them had a similar build so the jacket was a close fit, but the minimal looseness felt comforting.
Momota shuffled closer to Amami and held the umbrella over them. “Let’s go then. I’ll take you home first so just lead the way, Amami!”
“It’s a ten-minute walk from here, but I hope the rain doesn’t extend the time,” Amami said.
“No worries! I’ll make sure you get home safe however long it takes!” Momota said.
Amami smiled, and they stepped into the downpour. It was a struggle to shield two grown teenage boys under a single umbrella, but somehow, they made it work. The air smelled of the rain and their shoes squished into puddles. The proximity between the two only shrunk and shrunk until their shoulders were touching, but neither made a move to separate nor did they comment on it.
And as they crossed the road, a bus with its flashing headlights drove past behind them.