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Kiibo’s hand shakes a little bit as they try to thread their needle, but they blame it on the excess amounts of caffeine they consumed this morning and slowly lower the spool into their lap. It’s Tsumugi’s fault, really. Kiibo has never liked coffee (it’s so incredibly bitter) but she makes it so well. Tsumugi makes everything well, as a matter of fact; something to do with being a maid, they’re sure, but coffee and other beverages especially. She mentioned having a background in bartending once. Actually, they think it might be a good idea to ask her to elaborate. Show some interest in her. Seems like Tsumugi seriously needs it too, without how self deprecating she is.

They can’t help pouting a bit, though. They were hoping to finish sewing the pants on their Near cosplay today… not that it’s a hard one to get. White pajamas. Psh. They don’t even need a wig for that one, just grey contact lenses. The frog eyes are going to be a bit hard to imitate (Kiibo sends a silent I’m sorry to Near for thinking of him as having frog eyes, but it’s true) but they’ll figure something out. They’re not the Ultimate Cosplayer for nothing.

Honestly. Kiibo rolls their eyes. Near is such a low-hanging fruit. They don’t even need to make shoes. They wouldn’t be springing for it, except that their Instagram has been pretty much spammed for the past couple week with requests from their followers. They suppose the fact that they’ve been a pretty major presence in the cosplay community for so long and haven’t cosplayed Near yet is something of a travesty. Especially when they’ve already done Light and Matt. (But Light and Matt presented a challenge! Kiibo doesn’t like getting bored. They’ll have a photoshoot in the Near clothes and be done. No satisfaction. Ah, well. The followers demand it.)

One thing the coffee has been good for has been keeping them awake. It’s a Sunday, and they don’t have classes, so Kiibo imagines they’d been slumped asleep at their work desk by now on an average day, but thanks to the caffeine their mind is buzzing with cosplay ideas. They haven’t tried Sailor Jupiter yet-- just because Makoto Kino is so tall and more importantly she has legs for days and yeah, sure, Kiibo shaves, but they can’t erase the fact that their legs simply aren’t as long and majestic as Jupiter’s are, unfortunately-- and they have some really nice pink fabric in their lab (where they’re sitting right now) that would do well as the bow on her uniform.

Maybe they could make the cosplay for someone else. Aoi Asahina, the Ultimate Writer in the second year, comes to mind, since she does have the legs for the cosplay, and more importantly brown hair that she always puts in a ponytail. Her blue eyes aren’t a problem since she could always just wear contacts, provided she’s not allergic. They’re not sure, though, because Aoi seems pretty shy with her body. She’s always dressed all bundled up, and she gets flustered easily when people make remarks. Not that they would ever say anything inappropriate, but they really don’t want to make her uncomfortable.

Dang, they really can’t focus today, can they? What was in that coffee? They definitely weren’t this wired last time they drank it. Were they? Maybe they just forgot. They’d better ask Tsumugi how she made it later, just in case, but for now--

There is a knock at the door to their lab; polite and short to the point where Kiibo immediately thinks, well, it’s not Miu or Kokichi. Aside from being their best friends, Miu and Kokichi are nowhere near well-mannered enough to knock like that. They’d just barge in and start yelling. Kiibo smiles to themself, far more fondly than they would if either of their friends were here. Then they clear their throat, putting the unfinished garment to the side, and call, “It’s unlocked, you can come in!”

The door swings open after a moment and Shuichi appears in the doorway, his top hat held against his chest. He has a shy, but somewhat friendly smile on his face. “Hi, Iidabashi, am I interrupting anything important?”

Snorting, Kiibo says, “Hardly. Come on in, Saihara, I can’t focus anyway. Maybe talking to you will help me burn off the caffeine jitters. There are chairs all over, wait,” they jump to their feet to find one free of clothing and tools for Shuichi to take. It’s awfully messy in here. They’ve only been at Hope’s Peak for a couple of months, but it’s clearly been ample time for them to tear up the place. They shoot Shuichi a sheepish smile, which he returns gracefully, before finally finding a chair that only has a spare sewing kit resting on it, and placing it to the side. “Here,” they sigh, relieved, and pull the chair closer to their workspace.

“Thank you,” Shuichi delicately rests his hat on the edge of the table, where no other have been placed, and tucks the tail of his jacket underneath himself as he sits. He’s a very charming person, it must make things easy for him on stage. Kiibo takes their seat, watching him get comfortable. He’s stuttery and awkward at times, and oversensitive about people touching his staff (he has his staff resting across his lap right this moment, now that Kiibo’s mentioned it) but he’s excellent at what he does. The first time they met, Shuichi gave them a furtive look and then produced a bouquet of flowers from his sleeve, his tongue poking out between his teeth as he smiled.

“So, did you want to talk to me about something?” Kiibo asks, smiling, and for a lack of something to do with their hands, brings the costume they were working on before into their lap, trying again to thread the needle. Thankfully, their hands have stopped shaking as much now, and so they can thread it just fine to start stitching. They have a sewing machine, of course, and like to use it, but for things like this, incredibly simple patterns, and especially with the soft fabric they’re using for the pajamas, they prefer to hand stitch. It’s good busywork, too. Repetitive. Arduous, at times, but the payoff is excellent.

“Ah, yeah,” Shuichi nods, a sheepish smile flickering over his expression for a moment before slipping off. “Iidabashi, you do-- uhm, altercations, right?”

“Sure, sometimes.” Kiibo says. “Cosplay is my real passion, but I like sewing things too, and I’ll do a favour for a friend here and there. Why, something happen?” They glance up at Shuichi momentarily, raising their eyebrows. Shuichi slowly tilts his head to the side, eyes half lidded in thought as he considers their question.

“Sort of? I mean, yes, something happened, it’s more… I’m not sure how exactly… well, anyway, I usually wear a waistcoat. If you’ve ever been to one of my shows, you might have seen it. I, ah, feel strange showing my suspenders to a large crowd of people.” He gives a smile that Kiibo thinks is ironic, and so they laugh. Thankfully, he doesn’t seem offended. “It’s nothing special, it’s just a dark blue, but it’s gotten… torn, recently? I think it happened over time, but I’m certain that I would have noticed it ripping… at any rate, I was wondering if I could ask that you--”

“Wow! Saihara, did you rip up your waistcoat committing crimes?” Kokichi beams, sticking his head in Shuichi’s face; the magician jerks back in shock, but Kiibo just sighs, pinching the bridge of their nose. “I knew you were hiding something under that eyeliner!”

“When did you get in, Ouma?” Kiibo asks, exasperated, deciding not to comment on the entirely nonsensical thing that Kokichi just said. “I didn’t hear the door close. Or open, as a matter of fact.”

“Nishishi! I used magic. Yumeno helped me.”

“Yumeno is a pianist,” Shuichi remarks. “Nobody at this school can do magic, Ouma.”

“Well, actually, Yumeno is a bard,” corrects Kokichi, “but that must be a lie, because last I checked, you can do magic, Saihara, my love!”

Flatly, Shuichi says, “It’s sleight of hand. Look,” he holds out a shiny object in the palm of his hand; Kokichi’s room key, by the look of it. Kokichi gives him an overwhelmingly offended look and snatches his key back. Kiibo, though, widens their eyes at Shuichi.

“I didn’t even see you move,” they remark, raising their eyebrows.

“Ah, it’s a simple trick, you just,” Shuichi shrugs. “Distract. Take. I don’t really know how to explain it.”

“That’s because you did magic.” Kokichi accuses. “That’s why I didn’t even notice your filthy thieving. How many hearts have you stolen with that trick, huh? I bet he eats them for breakfast!” He adds to Kiibo in a stage whisper.

Pinching the bridge of their nose, Kiibo quips, “You’re awfully foolhardy for an anthropologist, Ouma. You claim to know a lot about people and their tactics. Couldn’t you have seen that coming?”

“Oh, yeah, okay,” Kokichi pouts. “Throw my talent in my face. I notice you’re not wearing a Hatsune Miku outfit, darling Iidabashi, so I really don’t know what you’re on about. And, just because I know in theory that people do sleight of hand, doesn’t mean I always know when it’s happening. Saihara here is a professional. He could probably kill someone, and I wouldn’t even notice!” Kiibo thinks they see Shuichi wince when Kokichi says this, but when they look at him directly, he’s wearing an amused smile, so perhaps they imagined it.

“Did you want something?” They ask. Shuichi’s amusement is contagious; they’ve started grinning, and Kokichi has clearly noticed, because his face lights up in offense.

“Laughing at me? You’re so mean! I thought you were the love of my life!” When Kiibo laughs, he huffs, wiping fake tears from his eyes. “Fine, fine. I’m leaving. Saihara, give me my phone back!”

“Just wanted to see if you’d notice,” Shuichi says apologetically, handing it over. Kokichi storms out of the room, and Kiibo laughs when they slam the door, but their smile falls when they notice the odd smile on Shuichi’s face.

“What?” They ask.

“Another trick when it comes to sleight of hand,” Shuichi begins. “In case you ever show any interest, is, uhm,” he uncurls his palm, showing the purple wallet he must have nabbed off of Kokichi. “To steal more than one thing. He’ll figure out it was me eventually. It’ll be worth it, though.” His expression is downright mischievous. Kiibo is suddenly very glad that they’re not on Shuichi’s bad side.

“So, uhm,” they clear their throat. “Your waistcoat, did you want me to mend it for you?”

“Oh! Yes, that was what I came here to ask. Though,” Shuichi adds, smiling. “I won’t steal anything from you if you don’t do it. I only steal from Ouma, mostly, because he’s so overdramatic.”

“Iruma was right that you’re a masochist,” Kiibo mutters. Shuichi snorts.

“I’m willing to offer compensation if you need it, Iidabashi. I don’t want to ask you to do anything for me for free.” Shuichi says, a bit more seriously, and when his words sink in, Kiibo quickly shakes their head.

“Oh, no, I don’t mind. I have spare time on my hands. Just drop it off whenever, and I’ll get it fixed for you.” They promise, smiling. “I’m happy to do it for free, Saihara.”

Shuichi appraises them for a moment, but seems to decide that they’re being genuine, because he smiles again, and nods. (Shuichi smiles a lot. It must be a habit borrowed from his performing.) “Alright, then. Thank you, I really appreciate it.” He gets to his feet. “I’m sorry, I’d stay and keep you company longer, but I promised Momota that I’d show him a couple tricks in my lab. Honestly, he isn’t the most graceful of people, is he?” Shuichi makes a troubled expression. “I suppose I could teach him something that requires charisma to pull off. He’s got plenty of that to go around… oh, well.”

“We were all very impressed when you shot doves out of your hat that one time,” Kiibo offers. “That must be what Momota had in mind.”

Laughing, Shuichi puts the hat in question back on his head. “Well, that might be a bit too advanced for him. But I appreciate the compliment.” He pauses, and then reaches out to touch the back of Kiibo’s hand. “Thank you, Iidabashi. I mean it.”

“Of course,” Kiibo says, a tad more quietly than they mean to. Shuichi’s face is a lot closer right now, and his grey eyes have little green flecks in them. Stunning, really. Kiibo’s breath catches in their throat. “F-Feel free to stop by any time,” they manage to say.

“I will,” assures Shuichi. He tips his hat, and then turns around, stepping back out the door with a swish of his jacket. It’s as though he was never there in the first place. Kiibo’s heart is racing, and they try to blame it on the caffeine, but really, they aren’t so sure.

(When they return to their room, later, the waistcoat is folded neatly on their bed, accompanied by a neat white envelope and a bouquet of blue flowers. They’re certain that Miu is going to laugh at them when they tell her, but for the moment, they fill a vase with water, and put the bouquet on their desk, trying to figure out what the sudden rush of embarrassment they’re getting means.)