It all goes downhill the second some guy Mona has never seen before chooses the seat beside her in class.
With an amount of strength Mona didn’t think the kid had in his spindly little arms, he throws his bag onto the desk, scattering Mona’s pens from where they lay on her planner, damn near sending her laptop - her expensive laptop that she’d bought instead of paying for school supplies, mind you - onto the floor alongside her stationary.
Mona gapes at the guy beside her. He spares her a glance before he moves his attention back to his backpack. “Excuse me!” she finally manages, a little shrill with anger. “Do you mind?”
“Oh,” the guy says, clearly paying her very little mind. His voice is completely flat, and he digs around in his stupid bag for his stupid books as though she isn’t even there. “Sorry, my bad.”
“Um, yes, it is,” Mona mutters, already feeling her cheeks growing warm with anger. “That’s exactly the problem. It’s nine in the morning! Why sit here if you’re just going to be a nuisance?”
Yes, Mona is being rude to this absolute stranger - but really, it’s an early-morning Astrology class with that old woman that had been giving her the evil eye since she showed up late to one single lecture, and Mona skipped breakfast this morning after missing her alarm. On top of all of that, now her pens are scattered all over the floor, and the guy sitting beside her doesn’t seem to be making a move to pick any of them up for her, like any normal person would.
Eventually, in the middle of Mona’s internal raging, the guy looks down at Mona as he places his books onto the desk beside her, dropping his bag onto the floor. He looks distinctly amused, Mona realises, and her anger begins to burn brighter until she realises - oh.
Mona turns her head so fast her pigtails almost hit her square in the face. Before she can embarrass herself any further, she pulls out her seat, feeling especially vindicated when the guy - the hot guy, oh, Archons - winces at the screech her chair makes. With equal amounts of anger and embarrassment and with flushed cheeks to match, she makes her way to the other side of the desk and begins to pick up her highlighters and pens with perhaps a slightly unnecessary amount of violence.
The guy doesn’t bother to help, of course. Mona resolutely attempts to push his rude behaviour to the back of her mind - class is about to start, after all, and she won’t be able to keep up her perfect grades if she’s too busy seething about some - some obnoxious pretty boy - until a Converse-clad foot peeks out from under the desk and steps on the pen she’s just about to pick up.
Mona yelps, snatching her hand back. “What is your problem?” she hisses, straightening up from her crouch and settling the best glare she can manage on the guy in front of her. He watches her with the hint of a smile curling at his lips, nodding his head towards the front of the classroom. If Mona’s head spins a little from the way his glossy black hair falls into his eyes - well, that’s her business.
“The professor just walked in,” he says, and Mona whips her head around so hard she’s certain she feels her neck twinge. Sure enough, that old woman is at the front of the room, writing something on the board - which means she hasn’t spotted Mona yet, thank the Archons.
With all the grace of a newborn giraffe, Mona lunges to her seat, gripping her handful of pens hard enough that her knuckles turn white. She manages to plant herself in her seat right as the professor turns around, and she can’t help the exhale of relief she breathes out when the professor pays her absolutely no mind, dropping her stationary back onto the desk.
To her surprise, the guy beside her bends with ease to duck beneath his desk and, after a moment, emerges again, holding the last of her pens between his long, slender fingers. Before Mona can fully reach out to take it from him, though, he pulls the pen back, holding it in his fist. “Don’t I get a thank you?” he asks, cocky and self-assured, and Mona makes a noise of indignation.
“You’re the one who knocked them off the table in the first place!” she hisses, suddenly thankful for her usual seat at the back of the classroom. Archons knows what the professor would do if she could hear them arguing. “What do I have to thank you for?”
“I saved you from embarrassment just then, didn’t I?” the guy asks, and Mona can’t help the way her face screws up in disbelief. “Oh, don’t act like you haven’t already managed to get into her bad books by showing up late for her last class. She holds grudges, you know.”
Mona stares at the boy for a moment, frowning in confusion. Mona hasn’t even seen him in this class before - how does he know about her attempt at sneaking in late to class last week? “Have you been keeping tabs on me?” she asks, narrowing her eyes at him. She wonders idly if she could get away with prying the pen from his fist. “How incredibly strange of you. I don’t even know your name.”
“Scaramouche,” the guy replies, pulling his hand back a little further as though he knows exactly what her plan is. He waves the pen at her, spinning it between his fingers. “I think I’ll be borrowing this pen for the rest of class, by the way.”
Scaramouche, Scaramouche… Mona is pretty sure she’s heard of this guy before - and none of it has been positive. His bad reputation sure makes sense now , she thinks, ignoring the smarmy look on Scaramouche’s face as she turns her attention back to her laptop, typing as quickly as she can to take down the notes she’s already missed.
It’s surprisingly hard to focus with Scaramouche beside her, even though he’s a perfect student by all means - no sharp elbows smacking against her own like with Kaeya, or incessant, whispered rambling like with Venti. Maybe it’s just her irritation getting the better of her, making her pay an especially silly amount of attention to the guy next to her, but Mona can’t stop focusing on the way he brushes his fringe out of his eyes with a flick of his head, or bites on the end of her pen as he focuses on whatever the batty old woman at the front is currently explaining - which, thinking about it, is what Mona should probably also be doing.
Thankfully, though, the rest of the class passes without much fanfare. The old woman seems to be in relatively good spirits this week, and it turns out that time moves much faster when Mona isn’t sweaty-palmed and anxious every time the professor turns in her general direction. The professor is finishing the lesson before Mona even realises it, letting them leave a few minutes early for once, and Mona huffs a sigh of relief, slumping back into her chair as the students around her fill the room with chatter.
Of course, there’s still the issue of Scaramouche for Mona to deal with. Just as Mona sits back up, ready to demand he return her pen, Scaramouche hunches over for a moment from beside her, and Mona watches as he scribbles something down on a scrap of paper he’d ripped from the corner of his notebook. Before she can say anything, he straightens back up and turns to her with a sly look in his eye that Mona isn’t sure she likes.
“Thanks for the pen,” he says, and Mona watches with silent disbelief as he leans in and slips her pen back onto her planner, sliding that now-folded little scrap of paper into a random page of her planner as though she isn’t sitting there, watching him. “I’ll see you later.”
Mona doesn’t bother to respond - instead, she leans in and scrambles for the scrap of paper he’d slid into her planner, flipping through pages like a madwoman until she finds it. Expecting the worst, like a chewed up wad of gum, she unfolds the paper, and -
Save a seat for me next week, Mona. Scaramouche
Mona stares at the scrap of paper between her fingers for so long that her eyes begin to water, wondering how he even knows her name. “The nerve of him,” she mutters, but there’s a smile playing at her lips that she can’t quite ignore. Maybe these dull morning classes just became a little more interesting.