"Wake up, zombie boy."
I rub my eyes, watching as the flashing light of the sunrise flicks back and forth like a pendulum. Kiri stares down at me, only half-dressed in faded black jeans.
"Where did you get those?" I ask, still feeling groggy and tired. It's not that I hate mornings; it's just that I haven't slept like that in so long. it's just like he said; I slept like the dead.
"You weren't waking up easily," he smiles, ruffling up my hair. "So I just ran back to my car and drove home to pick up some clothes."
"Wearing what?" I laugh. "Pajama pants?"
"I had a shirt," he defends. "Anyway, I'm glad to see you feeling better."
"It's just been so long since I've felt safe," I guess, only just now realizing the gravity of the words. Ever since Dad died, I haven't felt like this house isn't trying to kill me, and as a result, I haven't slept. I can barely stay inside the house, but now it's become safe again, all thanks to this... guy.
Do I dare to call him a manic pixie dream boy; No. He's full of energy and life, but there's so much more to him. He's just...
"Hey," Kirishima's strong arms find their way around my waist as tears begin to form. He rests his chin slowly on my head, whispering. "Don't cry. Because if you cry, then it means... I failed."
"You didn't fail," I assure him. "I'm better now. Not perfect, but the cracks are at least a little gone now."
"I'm glad," Kiri smiles. "Now, I had something great planned for you on this fine Saturday morning; you're gonna meet my friends, and we're gonna help you."
"Bakugou didn't really seem like the type to help me," I protest, but Kiri shakes his head.
"He's a great guy," the red-haired teen pumps his fist, smiling a toothy grin. "He just has..."
"Yeah," Kiri points to me. "Then there's Mina and Kaminari..."
"Are they dating?" I ask. He stares incredulously, shaking his head.
"I mean, I can't say for sure. As far as I know, no one's dating anyone else in our group. At least..."
"Before," I recall. "You said that no one helped you realize you liked guys. But... that isn't true, is it?"
"I did have help," Kiri admits. "You're right there. When I felt down, I sort of had Bakugou... but I don't think it was really meant to-"
"You're on and off dating," I assume. "And this is an off-period, right?"
"Sure," he sort of deflates, staring dejectedly out my tiny window. "I mean, we're still friends. But how do you fall in love with someone who will never feel the same way about you?"
"He never loved you?"
"He liked me," he shakes his red hair out, hanging it down across a simple white bandana. "But it wasn't really love. I think it was always for the sex, for the status, for the world he wanted. It's not that I was property; there were always feelings. I just felt like I was the one giving him the feelings, and he just reflected them back. There has to be more to a relationship than just giving them back the same sort of love."
"Yeah," I pull out a few outfits, trying to decide which one is best for his friends. In the end, I choose the sleeveless, ripped flannel I assume will make me look like a badass, matched with black jeans and a plain white t. When I finally check out the look in the mirror, I'm almost shocked.
"Well," Kiri puts his hand on my shoulder. "I guess you just can't pull off a badass look. You do look epically cute though. Just not tough. Maybe try..."
He reaches into his school backpack, digging around before he pulls out a small black cord. A thin skull lies at the end, etched through with leather red paint. "This was a gift from Bakugou. It was the only thing he ever gave me without me giving him something first."
"I can't take this," I reject him. "This is literally a gift from your ex, and you want me to have it? Isn't that like..."
"Probably," he sighs, pulling it back. "Well, if you ever want it, you can have it. It doesn't really hold any emotions anymore."
"I guess," I mumble, killing the conversation. We stand there in silence for a moment, staring at the necklace.
"It really would go with your outfit."
"I mean, I don't really care, and-"
"Kiri!" I scream. "Stop! It doesn't matter, and I can't wear it!"
"Sorry," he mumbles, staring down at the strings of his hoodie. "I just... it'd show him that I've moved on. He's found a girl; why can't I just get... gah!"
"Do you love me?"
I push his hair back, staring into his eyes as I climb into Kiri's lap. "Do you love me?"
"Of course, but tha-"
"Then why does it matter if he's moved on? You don't have anything to prove, right?"
"Yeah," he smiles, brightening up a little. Something still hangs over his head, but he tries to hide it. "Yeah! I mean, why does it matter if Bakugou is happy?"
"Don't you want him to be happy?"
He wipes the tears out of his eyes with the back of his arm. "Of course. It's all I really want. I mean... besides making you happy of course!"
"Right," I smile, rolling my eyes.
"I'm serious! Okay... so maybe you rank a little higher than him right now. But I want to be there for both of you. And everyone!"
"Okay, hero complex," I tease, falling into the motions. "We better get some food before I meet your friends."
"Yeah," Kiri smiles, holding my arm up. "You know, you could probably use it anyway."
"Not with that..." I grimace.
"I'm just saying. You should be healthy. And now that your mind's all set and ready to go... maybe we can work a little bit more on you?"
Before I can open my mouth, he interrupts me, trying to make amends. "I mean, not that you're ugly right now or anything, but I'm just say-"
"I get it," I put my hand to his mouth. "And it's not like you could say anything worse than what I've already told myself."
"Hey," he pushes me back a little, opening the fridge. "Don't say stuff like that. I want you to be okay."
"Well, then you've got a lot of work on your hands."
"Oh, really?" Kirishima pushes me back against the wall, holding his hand above my head, resting it slowly as he leans in. "Because I think I'm starting to get the hang of fixing yo-"
A car horn interrupts his slow lean, followed by the tinny sound of something in between indie and rap blaring out from an iPhone's speaker.
"Eijirou!" Mina's scream follows us into the kitchen. "Damn, let us in!"
"Your name is..."
"Yeah," Kiri replies, trying to shake himself back from the sudden loud noise. "I think it means... sharp?"
"Sharp..." I play with the word on my tongue. "I don't see it that much for you. You're just too soft."
"You really think I'm soft?" Kiri fakes surprise. "But look at these guns!"
"Yes," Mina's voice drifts in. "We've seen them. Probably like 9 times this week."
"Well," he pouts. "I just wanted to show Nico them."
"And I'm sure you've shown him them too," Mina scoffs. She puts out her hand, leaving one at her hip to hold up the pink leather purse she has on. "I'm Mina," she greets me. "Captain of the cheerleading team."
"Vice!" a voice behind her reminds. The blonde boy from before comes in, the one who proclaimed the world to be flat. "Kaminari; Denki, Kaminari."
"Ugh," Mina slaps him. "Shut up. You know that loser routine of yours isn't gonna work, even if you try it on a boy."
"My flirting techniques!" Kaminari shrieks, posing dramatically. "Have been wounded."
"Your flirting techniques are nonexistent," Mina reminds him. "Don't mind him, Nico; Denki's a fucking idiot."
"Hey," he boasts. "I scored an 82 on the IQ test! That's like an 80 percent, right?"
"Actually," I correct. "It's low average. Which is pretty bad."
"Whatever," he shrugs it off. How can someone care so little about the world? To not read into things... for the biggest theory in your mind to be "Is the world flat?". What is that like? "Hey, Nico... what are you into?"
I blush, growing bright red. "Some drawing, writing. Maybe a little bit of music... philosophy?"
"I do graffiti art," Mina explains. "Maybe you could join me sometime? I've been running low on people, and these idiots don't know their plum from their orchid."
"They're both purple!" Kiri protests. "I can't even tell the difference!"
"Well," Kaminari snatches the breakfast pastry from Eijirou's hand. "What's the point of knowing all those fancy names anyway?"
Mina points to Kirishima first. "His blush is closer to a pale raspberry. Nico is almost sangria, I think."
Huh; I guess I do blush deeply. Mina grabs my hand, pulling me out of the house. "We're gonna get breakfast somewhere else. By the way...you're outfit's pretty cute."
I blush again, looking back toward Kiri as he hangs in the doorway, pushing me toward the group. "We don't bite," Kaminari teases, climbing into the car."
"Well," I stare up toward Eijirou. "Some of you do."
Mina and Denki sit in silence for a moment, looking back and forth between the two of us, only to burst out into uproarious laughter. The four of us climb into Mina's jeep, watching as the sun hangs, slowly climbing up. "What the fuck?" Mina looks back toward Kiri. "You actually did that?"
"He needed some guidance and help!"
"Yeah! But what the fuck does that have to do with your fangs?" Kaminari slides beside Mina, leaving Kirishima and me in the back.
The red-haired boy crosses his arms, suddenly defensive. "Nico liked it, right?"
"I mean," I shrug. "It made me fall asleep."
"You guys are just too cute," Mina turns to the wheel. "Anyone know if King Explosion Murder is joining us today?"
"Bakugou," Kirishima explains before I can finish. "And I thought it was Lord Explosion Murder."
"Well," Kaminari checks his phone. "He finally responded to my texts. Apparently, he's bringing Kyoka."
"Ooh," Mina smiled. "Tea."
"Is that his new girlfriend?" I look up to Kiri, pushing my face toward his.
"Yeah," he says through a smile. I can tell something is looming beneath though. "You'd like her. She plays bass."
"Cool," I mouth, looking back as Mina takes us out onto the road, nearly hitting at least five cars, the mailman, a cat, and the trash can.
"Slow the fuck down!" Denki screams. "What the hell!"
"I think it's fun," I lie down on Kiri's chest, staring out as Mina nearly adds a group of children to the potential body count. "She's a great driver."
"And no," she points to Kaminari. "I didn't get my license because I made out with the proctor."
"You're right," Kirishima shifts up in between them. "You fucked him. Fucked him hard."
"Stop it!" she slaps him, pushing me back into the seat. "Shit, sorry Nico! You don’t deserve my wrath yet!”
“Is she always like this?”
“Nah,” Denki twists to face me. “She’s usually worse. A lot more rapping.”
Kiri shoves Mina before she can start. “Hey!” She screams back. “I’m driving!”
“And we’re not deaf yet,” he shrugs. “I’d prefer Nico to keep his lyrical virginity, at least your lyrics.”
“You calling my lyrics shit?”
“Oh,” Denki laughs, actually slapping his knee. “Yes. They are.”
“Whatever,” Mona stares me through the rearview window. “Sorry all guys are such jackasses.”
“I’m a guy too,” I point out. She just turns back, narrowly making the turn.
“You’re a bottom; you’re at least part girl.”
“Um,” Kiri points out. “He’s plenty manly! And what did I tell you about calling people the girl in relationships?”
“Ugh,” Mona stretches back. “Sorry. But I’m still claiming Nico for the girls’ side.”
“Fair,” Kiri pulls me close. “But I’m claiming him forever.”
“You guys are really close already, huh?” Denki whispers. “Because you saved your ticking little time bomb, right?”
“What?” I snap out of the dreamy sequence. “What do you mean?”
Denki pulls himself back up to the front, leaving me with Kiri. “You told them?”
“They basically already knew,” Kiri defends. “And I didn’t tell them it all. I just wanted to make sure they wouldn’t say anything stupid.”
“That’s right,” Kaminari boasts. “I’m very prone to making stupid claims. We understand, buddy.”
I nod, but there’s something hollow in the motion. How can they say something like that when they don’t even know the whole situation? It’s like cheating, I think; you can’t just tell someone you care and get fucking brownie points.