Yuuki Mishima is a coward.
Classes have ended, and a part of him knows that he should leave to get to practice. Or even skip it – go home and enjoy the peace and quiet before the day of the faculty meeting arrives and shatters the fragile safety left there. Instead he sits and stares at his desk, an open notebook in front of him. All the better to pretend with… At least it would be, if there were any notes on the pages.
Someone steps over to his desk. Mishima can hear the white noise of whispers buzz louder.
“Mishima?” A familiar, quiet voice asks.
Mishima slowly looks up at Kurusu. The messy-haired teen looks calm and composed, as if their futures aren’t a handful of days from being destroyed. The only sign of even a fraction of the stress Mishima has felt is the bags under his eyes.
“I… I don’t know what to do.” He says, a numbness settling over him as he blinks up at him. “Everything, it’s… It’s over.”
“We’ll fix this,” Kurusu says.
Mishima can’t look him in the eyes, can’t do much more than wallow in his own self-hatred and pity. He can’t stop replaying the memories in his mind.
He’s messed up at practice that day. Badly. So when Rikonan-san slowly walks over to him at the day's end, Mishima gulps.
“Mr. Kamoshida wants you. He’s in the P.E. office,” The dreaded words pierce through the hallway.
“Did he, uhm, mention why?” Mishima asks. The look he gets is half pity and half exasperation, and the feeling of dread only worsens. Why bother getting his hopes up? He knows what he’s facing.
The journey to that familiar room is over much too quickly. Idle fantasies of how this could be a celebratory meeting, a congratulations on improving over this past year, fly out the window the second he walks in the door.
“Ah, there you are, Mishima. Right on time. For once,” Mr. Kamoshida is facing his computer, arms crossed as he leans back at his desk. “Unfortunate that you can’t do the same at practice.”
It’s never about the practice. Not really. It’s always an excuse. But the second Kamoshida needs a reason...
“I-I apologize, Mr. Kamoshida.” He says, bowing so low he might as well be trying to stretch. You can never start groveling too soon. “I kn-know, I need to pay attention better, and I’ve been trying…”
“Of course you have,” He responds, walking right by him to the door. Mishima flinches at the click of the lock. Mr. Kamoshida’s voice darkens. “But it’s clearly not enough.”
Suddenly Mishima is flung forward, almost bashing his chin on the nearby desk. Reflexively, he lets out a choked cry.
“Feh, pathetic. Can’t even stay quiet.” He turns in time to see the fist coming toward him, and then it all goes dark.
When he wakes up, it’s to the sound of the the table next to him getting smashed against the wall. Mishima springs to his feet, his body reacting on instinct and wide awake to find Kamoshida slamming his fist into the wall.
“That bitch!” He snarls.
His face feels numb, and he winces when he breathes too hard. Was he kicked while he was out?
“Oh, you’re up, huh. Good.” Mishima looks up, eyes wide. Mr. Kamoshida is glaring down at him. “I’d better see you actually giving a damn tomorrow. And do not miss the meeting later.” He rolls his eyes as Mishima rapidly nods. “Feh, get out of my sight.”
He’s about to open the door when Kamoshida says,“And one more thing,” Mishima freezes at the too-calm tone of his voice. “Get Suzui for me. We need to have a little talk.”
He could have asked why. He could have refused. But instead, Mishima quickly nods twice more and scurries out the door.
He’d known. He’d known something was wrong about it. That bastard had already beat him around yesterday. What happened when he was unconscious to make him do that?!
And poor Shiho, lying there broken, barely breathing. All Mishima can do is watch, mouth agape as the students around him take pictures and videos like this is some kind of messed up show . Don’t they get it? Don’t they understand what just happened? Takamaki looks on the verge of breaking down at the sight her friend. Mishima swallows, staring as they cart Shiho into the ambulance, Takamaki crying, sobbing, as she gets inside after her.
He thinks he’s going to be sick.
Mishima runs. He can’t look at this anymore. He can’t watch as the girl he condemned gets carried out by paramedics. He needs to get away.
He’s in the hallway when suddenly, he’s grabbed by Sakamoto and the new kid. They drag him to an empty corner of the hallway, none too gently.
Backing into the corner, Mishima rubs his wrist.
“That hurts!” He says. Kurusu raises an eyebrow at that, and Mishima can taste the irony of his words. Yeah, grabbing his wrist hurts, but all these bruises and cuts are nothing.
“Why’d you run like that? Huh?!” Sakamoto steps closer, and Mishima feels his heart pound faster. There’s no way they really know.
He can’t look either of them in the face. “I didn’t run…”
“She jumped and tried to kill herself!” Sakamoto shouts, voice cracking.
‘Like I don’t know that?’ He wants to cry out. ‘Like I don’t know it’s all my fault, that all of it is my fault?’ But instead he cowers when Sakamoto punches the locker next to him.
“... L-leave me alone…” Mishima mutters, fidgeting under his glare.
“Just tell us,” Kurusu says, voice all calm. Mishima meets his eyes and almost flinches back again. The look in the transfer student’s eyes is not the disinterested look of someone who has lost everything; Mishima feels as if he’s looking into the eyes of the criminal the rumors say he is.
Poetic justice, really, to have the rumors he started turn out to be true.
“He’s right!” Sakamoto crosses his arms, and surprisingly lowers his voice. “We ain’t tryin’ to get you busted. We won’t say you talked either!’
“Suzui…” Mishima murmurs, lowering his hands. Why does this have to be happening! A tiny part of his mind realizes he’s pulling at his hair. “She was called out by Mr. Kamoshida!”
Sakamoto drops his arms, both boys staring at him in surprise. Well, Kurusu raises both eyebrows, while Sakamoto’s jaw dropped.
“Wait, what!?” The blond exclaims.
“I was called by him a number of times too…” Hah, an understatement. Why not say the truth? That he’s his go-to call in. “To the the teacher’s room. It wasn’t just me or Suzui either. He’d nominate someone when he was in a bad mood… And hit them.”
“So the physical punishment thing was real...” Sakamoto mutters. He doesn’t understand, does he? The ex-track star probably thought all the violence vanished with the track team.
“But yesterday, he called Suzui out of the blue. She didn’t make any mistakes or anything…” And he’d already been called… Mishima gulps, glancing back and forth between the two delinquents. “Mr. Kamoshida seemed really irritated that day, so it must have been... Worse than usual...”
“He didn’t…!” Sakamoto’s eyes widen as the realization hits.
“They were never just beatings, were they.” Kurusu says. It isn’t a question. He nods, unable to look either boy in the eyes, and opens his mouth to say -
“That son of a bitch!” Sakamoto whirls around and dashes down the hall.
“Ah…” Mishima says, his response to Kurusu dying on his lips.
Kurusu curses under his breath and runs off after him. Mishima hesitates for a moment. He… He should stay out of it. And yet… None of this would have happened, if only he’d just stood up for once.
He charges after the two delinquents, ignoring the sound of a curious ‘meow’ above him. He catches up to Akira by the side doors.
“I bet he’s going to find Mr. Kamoshida…” Mishima gasps. “I hope he doesn’t do anything…” He trails off. Stupid feels like an understatement.
“Where would he be? The teacher’s lounge?” Even now, Kurusu sounds calm, as if he didn’t just now learn how much of a demon Kamoshida is and is running to confront him. Did he somehow know, or just suspect it?
Mishima shakes his head, failing to manage his breathing. “No, he’d probably be in the P.E. office. It’s on the second floor.”
The rest of the run there is in silence, both of them ignoring the stares and murmurs from the students who are still being corralled around by desperate teachers. Racing up the stairs, they turn the hall just in time to hear the office door slam open.
“Shit, he’s really lost it…” Mishima gasps.
“You bastard! The hell did you do to that girl?” Sakamoto shouts. Mishima and Kurusu run into the office to see the blond haired teen fuming, an uninterested Kamoshida glancing back at him from his desk.
“What are you talking about?” He waves his hand dismissively, turning back to his desk. Kurusu walks forward to stand next to Sakamoto, leaving Mishima near the door. He could leave, right now. Play pretend, and avoid the consequences. What’s another beating?
What if the next one to jump is him?
“Don’t play dumb with me!” Sakamoto shouts, Mishima yanked out of his thoughts as a chair gets kicked aside.
“That is enough!” Apparently the kick is the tipping point for Kamoshida.
“What you did… Wasn’t coaching…”
“What did you say?” The slight disbelief in his voice empowers Mishima.
Clutching his head, Mishima absently realizes he is shaking. “You… You ordered me to call Suzui here… I can only imagine what you did to her! She never deserved that. None of them did!”
Kamoshida lets out a sigh, pushing his chair away from the desk and standing up.
“You’re going on and on about things you have no proof of.” He says with a sneer, crossing his arms. An uneasy feeling settles in Mishima’s chest. Kamoshida sounds too calm about this. “Basically, you’re simply making these claims because you can’t be a regular on the team, right?” He adds, his tone light.
“That’s not what this is about!” Mishima shouts, glaring up at him. Why should he care about the stupid team at this point? “You abused us all!”
“Even if it is exactly as you imagine it to be, hypothetically speaking, what can you do about it? We just received a call from the hospital.” A familiar smug grin rises to his face. “Suzui’s in a coma, and her chances of recovery are slim. Now, how would someone like that make a statement?”
Mishima’s blood runs cold.
Holding a hand to his stupid, blocky forehead, Kamoshida tuts. “There’s no chance of her recovering, I hear. That poor girl.”
“N-no… That can’t be.” Mishima murmurs. He… He did this. He should have stayed silent.
Sakamoto takes another step forward, fists clenched so tightly the skin is turning white. “You goddam-”
“This, again?” He plants his hands on his hips, and sneers down at Sakamoto. “Does this mean we have to have yet another case of ‘self-defense?’”
“You shut your mouth, you son of a bitch!”
Mishima can’t move, only watch as the blond rears back to punch that sneer off Kamoshida’s face, only to be stopped when Kurusu grabs his wrist. Sakamoto turns. “Why’re you stopping me?”
Kurusu shakes his head. “Don’t let him get to you.” How is he so calm?!
“But still!” Sakamoto shouts, yanking his arm away to glare back at Kamoshida.
“Oh? You’re stopping him?” Kamoshida’s eyes widen in surprise. “What a surprise.” He lets out a laugh toward them. “Come on, there’s no need to hold back. Why not attack me?” Crossing his arms and leaning forward, he grins. “Oh, that’s right. Of course you can’t!”
Shaking his head, Kamoshida returns to his seat.
“Everyone present right now? Will be expelled. I’m reporting all of you at the next board meeting.” He says, playful tone replaced by his ‘coaching’ voice.
“Wha?” Sakamoto visibly flinches back. Even Kurusu takes his hands out of his pockets. Is that shock? Mishima can’t tell. Everything is falling apart.
“You can’t make a decision like that!” Mishima says, voice cracking as he steps forward. Expulsion? There’s no way!
“Who would seriously consider what scum like you have to say?” He glares pointedly at the bruised boy. “You threatened me too, Mishima, so you’re just as responsible.”
“Huh?” Threatened? He… He did, didn’t he?
“To think you didn’t know why I kept someone as talentless as you on the team.” Mishima’s eyes widen. No, he wouldn’t - “You act like you’re a victim, but you leaked his criminal records, didn’t you?” Kamoshida says, as if scolding a young child. “It’s all over the internet, correct? How terrible.”
“Mishima?” The teens turn, staring at him. He can feel himself backing up under all their gazes.
“H-he told me to do it. I had no choice…” The excuse feels fake as he trails off. Kamoshida’s laughter rings in the room.
“Now, are we finished here? You’re all expelled!” Mishima stares at the floor, feeling himself start to hyperventilate. “You’re done for; Your futures are mine to take. Now get out of my sight.”
“I can’t believe this asshole’s gonna get away with this!” Sakamoto growls.
“He’ll eat his words.” Kurusu thrusts his hands a bit too forcefully into his pockets. There’s a moment of silence, and then the blond gasps.
“Oh right! We’ve got that!” There’s a conspiratorial edge in Sakamoto’s tone that Mishima is at a loss to understand. They’ve lost, haven’t they? Don’t they get it?
“Huh? Have you lost your minds?” Kamoshida spits out. “I don’t understand what garbage like you are thinking, but go ahead and try. All you can do is wait for your disposal, though.”
Mishima still hasn’t apologized. How can he? The second that conversation ended, he’d run. He expected one of them to chase him, but neither did. Nor did they approach him until today - though Sakamoto had glared at him for half the week.
“Mishima?” Kurusu prods, dragging him out of his thoughts. Mishima can’t bring himself to look the student whose life he ruined in the eyes . “We’ll get through this.” He reassures him.
Mishima lets out a sigh, unable to even fake a smile for the transfer student. The student he ruined before he could even have a chance. Was that his plan? To just ‘get through’ a probation?
“I can’t believe that.”
Silence. Maybe he wants to say something, but Mishima doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. He thinks he hears a muffled ‘meow,’ and after another moment, Kurusu walks away.
Those are his days, being a dead man walking. Regrets, apprehension, and fear bubble inside him as he awaits May the second, the final day of his pathetic attempt at life.
Awaits, that is, until the morning he arrives to find his school halls decked out in calling cards and everything turns upside down.