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violet poppies

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Kano was having a bad day.

     Really, it was that simple. It had started with him waking up because of a damned mosquito , which had managed to get itself into his room at some point during the night before proceeding to incessantly buzz at his ear only when his palms were too far away from the fiend for him to utterly destroy that fucker. And, of course, when he went downstairs there were no mosquito repellers left. And, of course, that when he went to the coffee shop at six A.M. they were out of cocoa, therefore unable to satisfy his hot chocolate cravings. And, of course, that on his way back home, a random dude wearing noise-cancelling headphones would block his way. Of course.

     So yeah. Kano was having a bad day.

     “Excuse me?” he tried for the third time, still keeping his polite smile on. He was way too tired for conflict.

     The teen before him remained silent, staring at his phone’s screen as he took multiple pictures of some poppies on the side of the road- he was probably even unaware of Kano’s presence.

     Sighing, Kano contemplated inching past the boy. But no, if he tried passing through he’d most likely end up in the other’s personal bubble, squeezed against the other- which he definitely did not want to accomplish. Which meant there were only two options left for him:

  1. Turn around and take another route home. The exercise would do him good anyway.
  2. Get the other to notice him via (shudder) human contact.

      While option one was very tempting and probably the more advantageous option of the two, it also meant admitting defeat. Although Kano didn’t know the boy before him, a part of him bristled in indignation at the thought of giving in to the other’s despotism. No. Kano would not give in— he would bypass his usual mentality regarding his aversion to human contact and he’d (shudder) pat the other’s shoulder to get his attention.

     A sigh.

     “Excuse me?” he asked once more, this time lightly tapping the teen’s shoulder while ensuring that the rest of his body was a healthy distance from him— wary of giving the other the wrong impression, whatever that would be.

    It was just a light tap, even by Kano’s standards, yet the boy violently flinched away. Confused, Kano took a careful step back, his hands lifted in a nonthreatening manner; the other took a deep breath, his frame relaxing when the distance between them lengthened. Kano waited for him to take off his headphones, yet they remained on. Instead, the stranger just pocketed his phone, then, with his fist, made a circular motion on his chest.

    Once, then twice.

    It was during the third circle that Kano realized what was happening. His bad mood suddenly disappeared, replaced by burning regret, and he agitatedly shook his head.

     ‘No, I’m sorry,’ he signed to the other.

     The black-haired teen lightly smiled and stepped aside, clearing the way for Kano. Signing a small ‘Thank you,’ the blonde passed him and continued his walk back home, shoulders slightly hunched as he attempted to fight off the lingering embarrassment.

 

Shintaro regretted many things, starting with him getting in the accident that led to his deafness and ending with him letting Ayano convince him to come visit her home.

     A terrible decision, really. He came off as dark and brooding at best and misanthropic at worst; there were few exceptions to this general rule, like Momo or Ayano.

     Ayano, who was currently grinning at him as if he’d just told her he was getting married. Not a very good comparison, but still. Weren’t her siblings sixteen ? Didn’t teens that age hate absolutely everybody and everything? Or was that thirteen? Shintaro could no longer remember, but his belief did not waver. Ayano’s siblings would for sure hate him; that meant that Ayano would soon hate him too.

     Taking a calming breath, Shintaro hit the breaks in his spiraling. Everything would be fine. He’d live for a couple of months in his room until people forgot his face— he could ‘borrow’ from Momo’s dried squid reserves.

     At his side, Ayano was still smiling, slightly facing him at all times to make sure that he could read her lips. They’d abandoned ASL after some disastrous accidents rooted in Ayano’s attempts to learn it, and although lip-reading wasn’t that accurate, there were very few people who knew sign language well enough to communicate with him. Stifling his swelling apprehension in face of the imminent awkwardness, Shintaro fidgeted on the spot.

     “I’m home!” called Ayano as she toed off her shoes. A couple moments later, her siblings showed up, all of them hosting wary expressions bar one. The familiar blond’s eyes were wide in recognition.

     ‘Hey,’ signed the blond. Beyond his cheerfulness there was defensiveness Shintaro was pretty familiar with, piled upon what was probably fierce protectiveness of his sister.

     Shintaro decided not to get into either of them. ‘How come you know ASL?’ he asked instead.

     ‘Was bored,’ replied the other, grinning dismissively. Then, his eyes suddenly flicked away from him and towards a green-haired girl; someone had asked something and Shintaro had missed it, as always. Torn between reading the girl’s lips and the blond’s, Shintaro hesitated for a moment before settling for the boy. “...met him yesterday, on my way home. Want me to introduce you guys?” the blond said.

     Shintaro felt Ayano tense up at his side. He knew her well enough to know that she was feeling jealous for not being the one to introduce Shintaro and hating herself for it. Probably a lot too. 

     Pulling in his usual reservation, Shintaro comfortingly took her hand in his. She tensed up, then relaxed and smiled at him. Reassured, he turned back to her brother. 

     He was staring at them strangely, but went on and signed anyway. ‘I’m K-A-N-O.’ He pointed to the green-haired girl. ‘K-I-D-O.’ Then to the tall boy. ‘S-E-T-O.’ And the small, white-haired girl hiding behind Seto. ‘M-A-R-Y.’

     ‘Nice to meet you,’ replied Shintaro, trying his best to smile politely. Damn his awkwardness and social conventions. The latter most of all.

     Why was he here again? How should he handle this? Did normal people even ask themselves these things? What was ‘normal’ though—

     Ayano elbowed him and his spiral screeched to a stop.

     “Anyone want to play Mario Kart?” she asked, her eyes sparkling in fierce competitiveness. “I’m really good at it now.” As a rare show of caring , his competitiveness reared its head at the statement.

     ‘I want to be Princess Peach,’ he declared, slightly smiling. Really, he’d smiled a lot today. Weird.

 

Competitiveness brings out the worst in people. This is known well enough by countless people everywhere: professional or amateur, young or old. Kano supposed that their game of Mario Kart was proof of that fact. Kido, as Luigi, had been kicked off-route so many times that she’d finally huffed in exasperation and blamed her lack of proficiency on her remote. She dumped it in Seto’s lap, then got up to make lunch. Seto was relaxed, Ayano was fierce yet three laps behind. And Kano and Shintaro… Kano and Shintaro were the living proof of the aforementioned universal truth.

      Once more, a shell knocked into Kano. Once more, the air around Shintaro started stinking with smugness.

      Kano was gonna destroy this bastard.

      Easier said than done. For the third time in a row, Shintaro won first place, Kano second, Ayano third, and Seto a very much left behind fourth. He didn’t seem bothered by it. Only smiled at Mary and handed her the remote, asking her if she wanted to try playing.

     Just as Kano opened his mouth to demand a rematch, from the corner of his eye he glimpsed Shintaro turning to Ayano and signing ‘Should we help your sister?’. 

     Ayano seemed surprised by his offer. “No, she usually does it herself— she really likes it. Once, she kicked me out of the kitchen, saying that I was too clumsy to help her cook,” she replied, laughing at the last part. Shintaro’s shoulders slumped in relief.

     So Kano’s initial opinion of Shintaro had been true. The guy really was a selfish bastard most of the time. 

     He’d have to keep a close eye on him.

To protect his sister, of course.