Pairing: eventual ohmiya, sakuraiba, matsuba .. in a way
Summary: The coming school year is going to bring changes to every aspect of their lives: family, school, social. But if there's one thing you can always rely on, it's the walking club.
Notes: You can find previous chapters here.
Exams were coming up and while all the students should probably be worrying, as Sho and Ohno were graduating soon, exams were even more pressing for them. Sho had the college entrance exams coming up and while Ohno was going to be let into his college by the basis of his art portfolio, his acceptances could easily be revoked if he failed all his classes. As much as Ohno hated it (Sho had accepted it long ago), the two older boys' lives began to revolve around studying.
The days were getting colder, slowly but surely. Sho didn't like it, as he did better studying in daylight hours and those were becoming quickly hard to find. It didn't help that the few hours he did have were also spent in the company of people who, while friends, also didn't really care about Sho's academic future. Or if they did, they sure didn't act like it.
"Aiba, would you please stop trying to talk to me about whale sharks? While I'm sure they're fascinating, I have to finish my calculus homework right now."
"Sorry, Sho," Aiba mumbled before bouncing over to regale Emi with the latest tale of his epic adventure to the Sunshine City Aquarium.
Aiba had warmed up considerably to Emi over the past month or so, mostly due to Jun's pleading that they just get along. While he had been against the idea at first, Aiba quickly discovered that Emi shared his love for anything and everything fluffy, furry, or feathery (scale-y was up for debate) and after that, a fast (if slightly awkward) friendship was born. Plus, Emi had a new puppy at home. There really had never been any hope for Aiba.
"Where's Nino?" Jun noticed the absence of the smallest member of their club (Nino wasn't proud of the fact that Emi was a few centimeters taller than him and had taken to calling her "giantess"; Sho and Jun didn't approve but Emi had just shrugged and accepted the new nickname) with an air of surprise. While Nino wasn't the most enthusiastic club member, he rarely missed meetings (if they could really be called meetings).
"He took on some more hours at Origin," Ohno said over his English textbook. "He's going to miss every after school meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays now."
"That sucks. Is everything okay?" Not that Jun was concerned or anything.
"I think so. He says he just wants so money for the new Dragon Quest game. It comes out in a few weeks you know."
"I thought he stole a copy of that from a kid in his class like months ago."
"He said he wanted an official copy, too," Ohno shrugged. "I stopped questioning Nino and video games years ago."
"A good choice," Sho agreed, not looking up from his textbook.
"I thought you had to study," Aiba pouted. "Why are you talking to Ohno?"
"I'm just agreeing with a fact while I study, Aiba," Sho continued solving an equation while speaking. "I can do two things at the same time. I just can't learn two things at the same time. Save the whale shark facts for the weekend, okay?"
"Okay," Aiba agreed.
"Isn't it a little too quiet without Nino around?" Emi finally voiced. No one responded because the answer was obvious.
As Nino sold the very last katsudon of the day, his thoughts were elsewhere. He smiled to the customer and waved her off before putting the little "sold out" sticker over the front menu. He went in the back to see if Yamada needed any help making a new serving of rice. He brought some new karaage out to the front display. But somehow, no matter what he did, he could only think of Ohno's face that day on the ferris wheel.
Although it was true that money being tight was the real reason Nino had taken more hours at Origin the past few weeks, there was a secondary reason that kept creeping in the back of Nino's mind. He hadn't been avoiding Ohno, per say, but he had noticed that being around him made his heart beat in an uncomfortable way and speech became hard. He needed time to sort this all out for himself before he rejoined the others.
An elderly woman walked into the store and Nino greeted her with a cheery "Irashaimase!" that didn't quite meet his eyes. There was something going on between him and his best friend, he knew. It was just what he should do next he wasn't quite too sure on.
His thoughts must have shown on his face as he heard a little cough and looked down to see the old woman with her items in front of her, placing them on the counter.
"I'm sorry about that!" Nino quickly corrected his behavior and began ringing up her items. The woman didn't say anything.
"That'll be eight hundred and fifty yen," Nino informed her and the woman pulled out her coin purse, placing the correct amount on the little yellow tray as Nino bagged her food. He twirled the handles together and held out the bag.
"Thank you very much," he smiled. The old woman took the bag with a serious face.
"You're much too young for a face like that. Live your life and worry about it later."
And with that, the woman took her bag and hobbled out the store, leaving a stunned teenager in her wake.
"Where's Aiba?" Sho looked up as Jun and Nino entered the classroom alone at lunch. Jun shrugged as Nino settled into a desk next to Ohno, fixing the older boy with a curious look. Ohno didn't seem to notice, firmly involved in his history notes.
"The teacher pulled him aside after class. I don't know what he's done this time," Jun supplied, pulling his lunch out of his school bag. Sho frowned but let it go, returning to his notes.
Almost no time passed before the door slid open and Aiba slunk into the room, dropping into a chair with absolutely no energy.
"What did he want?" Nino asked nonchalantly, taking a bite of his onigiri.
"Apparently I'm failing biology. He said that I have to do a presentation on genetic disorders if I want to pass." The words were punctuated with prolonged sighs and ended with Aiba almost slinking all the way to the floor. Nino and Jun laughed.
"Serves you right for goofing off everyday. Didn't you draw an entire comic book in your notes?"
"Shut it, Jun-pon."
"Aiba, you should have told me. I would have tutored you."
"Thanks, Sho." Aiba actually did look grateful. Jun shot him a dirty look. "It's too late now, though. I guess that's what my next few weeks will revolve around. Sorry, everybody."
"So I guess you're not going to have time to go to the zoo this weekend, then?" Emi asked, trying her hardest not to sound disappointed.
"Emi-chan! I forgot! I'm so so so sorry! We were supposed to go to the zoo on Saturday, right? I don't think I'll have time."
"It's alright. Passing biology's more important. We can go to Ueno another time."
"No, you should still go. We were so excited. Someone else'll take you. Right?" Aiba looked around at all the others.
"I have to study," Ohno supplied.
"I do, too," Sho sighed.
"I'm not a zoo person," Nino informed them.
"I guess I could do it. I'm free that day," Jun offered.
"I don't want to impose," Emi began but Jun just shook his head.
"I haven't been to the zoo in a long time. It'll be fun. Plus, I feel like it's become my job to cover for Aiba." Aiba smacked him on the head for that but grinned.
"Yay! I'm glad you can still go, Emi-chan. Take lots of pictures and show me on Monday?"
"Of course!" Emi agreed happily.
"And no cheating on me!" Aiba grinned at Jun.
Friday rolled around and everyone went their different ways as they left the school building. Ohno and Nino alone turned right to walk down the street towards their little neighborhood. Neither said anything until they passed the Circle K when Nino announced that he needed a CC Lemon and they were three cents cheaper at Circle K. Ohno nodded and followed the younger boy into the convenience store. Nino bought his drink and Ohno ended up getting a little Dragon Ball Z action figure out of nostalgia.
As he sipped his drink, Nino kept sending glances to Ohno. The woman's words kept echoing in his brain. Live your life. But this was Ohno. Worry about it later.
He still hadn't said anything when they reached the turn off for Nino's street.
"See you Monday," Ohno said.
"Mail me if anything exciting happens."
"I'll mail you if something boring happens."
Nino grinned and turned towards home because really, what else could he do?
Worry about it later.
Nino got to his house, kicked off his shoes and shot inside, to the consternation of his mother. His television called to him and Nino selected a video game he'd been meaning to play the past few weeks off the shelf.
Live your life.
The screen turned on and as Nino played, thoughts whirled in his brain. He couldn't concentrate on the monsters. He couldn't figure out the way to get out of the dungeon. He was almost about to look up a walk through on the computer (much to his shame) before he heard his mail alert ping from his pocket.
Flipping his cell phone open, a picture of an envelope met his eyes. It took Nino a second to realize it was addressed to a Mr. Satoshi Ohno and the return address was Asakusa Art College. It wasn't open yet.
He was out the door in under thirty seconds, a coat in his hand and a million ways to confess running through his mind.
Happy belated birthday, Nino! Sorry for the long wait combined with another set up chapter. Hopefully chapter nine will be a quick write as I feel bad for having such long pauses between chapters. I promise things will happen in chapter nine. xD Also, a quick question for all of you: I talk about a lot of awfully specific places in this story. In fact, it's basically set in my neighborhood. As such, I was thinking of writing a little "a day in nerima" chapter that would be a little off topic but would include pictures. What do you guys think?