Episode 1: That moment when Shoma finds out that the art of making friends, was not actually part of some satanic ritual that Itsuki had made up for the last 18 years of his pathetic life.
“Here idiot, you’re forgetting your charger inside the car.”
Shoma turned around to see Itsuki’s hand poking out of the car window. He couldn’t wait to get rid of the kid.
‘Okay, not really but maybe some space would be appreciated after all these years.’
“Thanks, loser. That wouldn’t have been nice.” He grabbed the charger, throwing it his backpack’s side pocket, before facing his brother once again. “Don’t make mom and dad’s life a living hell now that I won’t be there.”
“Unlikely. I’m their favorite child anyway, so everything will be okay.”
To anyone else, it would’ve looked like they hated each other, and couldn’t stand to be in each other’s presence for more than ten minutes, but Shoma knew that Itsuki was putting up a front, just like he was pretending himself.
Shoma, as Itsuki had always said, had the social ability of a tree, a very hollow and old tree, so his younger brother had always been his best friend. They had spent quite some time talking about how life was going to change for the both of them when Shoma left for University and, even though they had done their best to prepare themselves for the separation, the Uno brothers knew it was going to be so very strange to go on for so long without each other.
Shoma’s train of thought was interrupted by his mother hugging the life out of him.
'Now, this is something I’m not going to miss.’
“I can’t believe my baby is all grown up and leaving home to go to college! Oh, it seems like just yesterday you were prancing around in tiny trainers begging us to take you to the park and now…”
‘Here we go.’
He looked around and let out a quiet prayer under his breath. Apparently, nobody cared that one of the freshmen’s mom was making a scene in front of the dorms. People just went by them and didn’t even look at the spectacle twice. Almost like it was the most boring and normal thing to happen.
“Mom, you’re embarrassing me,” Shoma said out loud, but hugged his mother closer, enjoying the comfort her embrace gave him.
“Shush, I’m your mother, embarrassing you is my job.” She broke the contact and leaned back, grabbing his cheeks. “Are you sure you don’t want us to help you get settled?”
‘Only if I want to be mocked for the rest of my life…’
“Nah, it’s okay, I don’t have that many things anyway, I’ll be okay on my own. You should start heading back so you can get home before it’s dark.”
From inside the car, Itsuki scoffed, “It's not even noon and you know you can actually drive cars at night right? It’s not like it’s a carriage and you need to-”
“I will miss you too, Itsuki.”
They didn’t need to say anything else, both brothers looked at each for the last time until they could be reunited again and it was all it took to get their message across. Like it always had been between them.
‘I will miss you like crazy.’
‘Take care. I love you.’
His mom gave him one last hug, his dad patted his shoulder and before he knew it they all had climbed back into the car, and he was waving goodbye as he watched them drive away from the pavement, where he was standing next to the trolley that had his things stacked on top, rather precariously at that.
It all happened to fast. One moment he was imagining how his school life would turn out to be, and in the next one, he was alone with only his thoughts for company.
Shoma sighed, shaking his head as he took the campus’ map out of his pocket and started to push the trolley towards his dorm building.
‘Let’s just get this over with.’
It took Shoma ten minutes to realize that he was kind of lost. Just kind of.
Okay, he was really lost, and he had no idea where to go.
“Hi! Are you okay? Do you need any help?” Shoma turned around to see a boy that looked about his age, carrying what looked like a stack of hangers, looking at him curiously.
‘Amazing. My first day here and I already look like a child in need of rescuing.’
“Hmmm, actually I do. Do you, by any chance, know how to get to building 4? That’s the dorm building I’ve been assigned to, but I don’t understand this map at all.”
“Building 4? Sure! That’s where my room is as well! I’m heading back, we can go together!” The other boy’s snaggletooth made his smile extra adorable. “I’m Boyang Jin, Electrical Engineering.”
‘An engineer…Do not stereotype Uno. Do not stereotype. He just saved your life.’
“Shoma Uno, Computer Science.”
“Cool! Maybe we’ll share a class, who knows? C’mon, let’s go, it’s this way.”
They walked together leisurely, talking about their respective chosen majors, comparing the courses they’d be having, and bonding over their shared love for video games. For once, the other kid's over-eagerness didn't seem to tire him out at all.
“Oh, wait, that’s my cousin. Hey Nate!” Boyang waved someone over. A curly-headed boy joined them, smiling. Shoma wondered why everyone was so happy, they were in science majors. Weren’t they supposed to be miserable? “Shoma, this is my cousin Nathan. Nate, this is my new friend Shoma.”
'Would you look at that, I made more friends in thirty minutes than in 18 years of life... What's with the poodle hair?’
“Hi, I’m Nathan, nice to meet you!”
“Nathan’s on the same floor as you, I’m one floor above, so if you need anything just holler, or send a text and we’ll meet up.”
Shoma almost laughed at that. Was it normal for people to holler through the dorm when they needed to call someone?
‘I’m going to end up killing someone on my first night here, aren’t I?’
“Sure, thank you.”
“See you later Boing.” Nathan turned to Shoma with a smile. “So, shall we?”
Shoma nodded and pushed his trolley towards the door.
They made their way to the third floor and Nathan pointed to the right.
“Your room is over there, at the end of the hallway. Mine’s on the other end, but you’ll probably find me over at Boing’s room because I met my roommate for five minutes but I can already tell he’s an asshole.” Shoma winced. “Text us if you want to go get dinner with us, we found a cool looking pizza place not far away from here.”
‘I completely forgot that I’ll probably have a roommate as well.’
“See you later then.”
Shoma walked away in the direction Nathan had told him to go, reaching the far end of the hallway and standing in front of his door. He opened it and peered inside, but it was completely empty.
Seems like his roommate had not arrived yet.
He sighed in relief at being alone a little longer and started unpacking his things on the right side of the room as he played music on his phone quietly, not knowing how thick the building’s walls were yet.
By the time he finished shoving the last of his stationary into a drawer and unlocked his phone to check the time, he had 2 new messages from an unknown number.
Shoma wasn’t a social a butterfly by any means, but Boyang had been so nice to him, how could he refuse?
If he became a recluse on his first day of college he would be friendless for the rest of the year for sure. He would die alone and become an outcast. People would write about him on the college newspaper. He would never find a job. He would be homeless-
Maybe that was a tad bit overdramatic but he still didn’t want to go back to his old habits. Maybe socializing wasn’t that bad?
‘They seemed like good people.’
Shoma looked at himself in the bathroom mirror. Shrugging and deeming himself presentable enough, he grabbed his phone and keys and looked at the empty side of the room, as his roommate still hadn’t arrived.
‘This anticipation is killing me. What if I get, like, some drug dealer? What if I need to sleep with one eye open every night? What if they kill me and hide my body somewhere where no one will find it? My family will never know what happened to me. Itsuki would get my room and-’
He stopped his train of thought before he could conjure up even worse scenarios and run back to his room, instantly spotting Boyang talking with a tall blonde boy.
“Hi, Shoma! Glad you could make it! This is Mikhail, he’s a Physical Education major and my roommate.”
“Hi,” Shoma greeted, and Mikhail nodded hello. He wondered if something bad had happened to the boy, his expression seemed to be stuck in a scowl. His eyes looked slightly murderous.
His major started to make a lot of sense to him.
‘Maybe it’s the moving in thing. I better be careful around him, I still have my whole life ahead of me…’
“Well, let’s get going, Nathan is outside already.”
They left the building and, as Boyang had said, Nathan was standing there, with his arm around a girl’s shoulders.
‘Do you get girlfriends as quick as you make friends around here?
“Hi, Shoma! This is my girlfriend Evgenia and her roommate Alina.” Shoma nodded hello awkwardly, and both girls smiled at him.
'Did they just coo at me?’
“He’s cute! Can we keep him?” Evgenia asked, looking at Nathan with puppy eyes.
“Zhenya, he’s not a puppy. C’mon, let’s get going, I’m hungry.”
He couldn't wait for the beginning of his new life.