northwind_gale: (I has a project!)
Gale ([personal profile] northwind_gale) wrote2013-01-13 12:43 am

[FIC] Not Quite Alone

Characters: Hoshikawa Subaru, Hoshikawa Akane, Solo, Shirogane Luna, others
Rating: PG-13...ish?
Warnings: Uh I guess vague mentionings of adults beating on a little kid. It's rather vague, and nothing too shocking to anyone who already knows Solo's backstory.
Notes: Just as "Alone" was based on speculation of Solo's past from some vague line, this fic is based off a tangent of speculation from that. What if, just what if, Solo had found that friend that would never have betrayed him? What if?



He just kept running. Running and hiding, that was his life now. Hiding from the ones with disinterested stares, running from the ones with hateful glares. It was draining and wore down on his psyche as well as his body, and sometimes he just found himself wanting to just give up. Even when he used his power, it only made people angrier and want to come after him more in bigger and bigger groups, and it would get harder to hide.

It was during one of those times that he met that woman, while sitting behind a trashcan. The overlarge green turtleneck he wore was frayed and losing threads, and the brown shorts did nothing to hide the scabbing cuts on his legs. Thinking he was alone, that no one could hear him, he let out a small sniffle.

“Oh dear, are you alright?” The boy looked up to see the face of that woman, aglow with an emotion he couldn’t recognize. He would soon learn to give it a name-kindness-but until then, it only left him flustered, confused, and scared. What did she want from him?

“I…’m…”

“Oh, that is a silly question, isn’t it…you’re clearly not okay at all.” She crouched down, and now that they were face to face the boy could see that this woman had warm brown eyes and hair, very much unlike his sharp white hair and stark red eyes-not to mention the red mark carved into the left side of his face that he was pretty sure was a tattoo or a scar. How she could stand to be near him, when he was so different, so clearly not like other people, he didn’t know. She looked so…normal. “Where are your parents?”

“I…I don’t know…” What was she talking about? What were parents?

“Oh my, so you’ve lost them? That’s no good…well, I was on my way back to my hotel, why don’t you say I take you there, get you cleaned up, and we’ll try and find them for you, okay?”

In another time, the boy would have never met this woman, would have gone on to continue causing havoc as he tried to fight back against those who so clearly hated him. The attention he would have drawn from those scrapes would have brought the attention of a very different woman, and he would have already lost all his faith in human relationships. But meeting this woman now, while he was still so young and still retained some semblance of hope despite his inability to trust…

Nothing stopped him, other than that lingering doubt, from taking her hand.

 

0-0-0-0-0

 

Her name was Hoshikawa Akane. She was apparently wasn’t from around nearby, which explained why she wasn’t so hostile towards him. Apparently she had come to settle some legal issues around her husband’s disappearance or death or something, and it was something that simply couldn’t be resolved over a single afternoon since he was some important scientist or whatever. The boy hadn’t really been paying attention.

“Do you know your parents’ names?”

“What are parents?”

That question got her fussing over him endlessly. He wasn’t sure what to think about it.

“What is your name then?”

“…” He couldn’t say that he was a “monster” or “demon child” or whatever those people called him. That would make her treat him like everyone else did. “…’m always alone…goin’ solo all the time…” he muttered under his breath, not knowing what else to say.

“Ah…did you say Solo? Odd name, but I guess it suits you. You know, I have a son who’s around your age…I bet you two would get along.”

“I don’t think so…”

“Now, don’t be so shy! Granted, my boy is a little closed off right now, but that shouldn’t stop him from talking with you at least, right? You should come back home with me and meet him, if you have nowhere else to go, ah?”

“Uh…” This was sudden. It was weird having someone act this way towards him, he didn’t even know the word for such a thing. “I’m too weird…”

“Nonsense.” She ruffled his hair, and while his first instinct was to flinch away from the physical contact he soon found that it almost felt…nice. “My husband always said that there are many different types of people-and that’s why it’s worth making bonds with them. You can learn a lot from others. It’s how we grow. And you can’t grow up right staying alone like this, especially if you’re always getting as beat up as you look.”

“Un…I guess…”

“Good!” She clapped her hands together. “I’ll get some papers drawn up, then. You’ll be fine, Solo!”

 

0-0-0-0-0

 

It took some time to get the aforementioned papers drawn up, especially since Solo essentially didn’t have any papers to begin with. It meant that Solo had to go into testing to determine his blood type and other stuff, and that Akane-san had to actually adopt him if she wanted him to have a guardian to approve of any of this stuff. It definitely prolonged her stay for a while, but luckily the people at…what was it called? NAZA? WAZA? Something like that…they were willing to cover the costs since they had been the ones to call her over in the first place.

It was pretty weird getting tested. Everything was so…stiff and formal. They called Solo the same way that they talked to everyone else-some of them even looked at him with pity when he asked questions about what they meant or to explain what they wanted him to do or why they wanted him to do it. He even got some kind of strange treat from them-they called it a lollipop. He didn’t know how to describe it, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Overall, if he didn’t give them trouble, they went through things quickly and easily, and he found that he didn’t mind that either. It was certainly better than the reactions he got on the street, anyway.

The train was the same. People were more annoyed with whatever the person in the seat next to them was doing to care about some weird abnormal child in one of the passenger cabins. Instead, Akane took the time to help teach Solo how to read the train’s menu so that he could order something. At first he felt it was a largely useless gesture-he didn’t know what anything on the menu even was, but when he started noting similar letters and characters posted in other places, he was enthralled at how much more information he could glean from the world around him now that he could understand the language better. Eventually he found himself resigned to constantly asking Akane-san what each word meant, and somehow the other passengers in the cars didn’t find it annoying. He even heard some of them laughing at him, which made him flush red in embarrassment. When the lady with the food cart showed up, he asked her several questions about the food which she answered patiently.

“Um…which foods taste like lollipops?”

“Solo, those are dessert foods, mostly,” Akane-san interrupted.

“Dessert?”

“Yes, that means you don’t eat them often, and only after you’ve eaten healthier foods.”

“So I can’t have one now?”

“Well, this is a special occasion. When we get home, I expect you to follow the same eating schedule as everyone else, alright?

“Hehhh…” It wasn’t like she was saying no to him-she even gave him a good reason why, he guessed. She wasn’t even sounding mean.

“What a smart and inquisitive child! Is he yours, ma’am?” cooed the cart lady, and Solo found his hair being ruffled again before he knew it.

“Well…I suppose now he is. I ended up being his guardian during my trip. A lot of things are new to him, I don’t think he’s had anyone to ask these questions to before.”

“Oh, the poor dear! Well, I know plenty of things that can taste as sweet as lollipops, maybe something with chocolate!”

Solo ended up greatly enjoying the chocolate cake, and Akane-san chuckled to herself.

“Well, at least now we know what to do with all that chocolate around the house…” Solo looked up at her questioningly, and she sighed.

“People keep sending us sympathy flowers and chocolate, since the news of my husband’s space station disappearing wasn’t too long ago…and Subaru doesn’t like chocolate that much. He’ll probably be relieved to see it all out of the house somehow, since he feels too guilty to throw it all out, and I definitely can’t eat it all. Ah-you don’t get to eat it all at once, Solo!”

Solo harrumphed and sulked in his seat, and Akane-san laughed and ruffled his hair yet again.

“I think you and Subaru will get along fine.”

 

0-0-0-0-0

 

Whatever Akane-san thought, Solo didn’t get to see it right away. A large and kindly man who introduced himself as Amachi Mamoru had greeted them at the front door. Apparently he was a friend of the family and had volunteered to watch Subaru and the house while Akane was gone.

“Well, if I had known you would have brought along another guest, I would have cleared out the guest room a bit more, haha!”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, it was sort of a last-minute thing…I just couldn’t leave him the way he was, he clearly had no one else.”

“You’re every inch your husband’s wife, Akane,” Amachi smiled. A silent melancholy mood seemed to overcome them, and Solo hung back-it reminded him too much of his own situation a scant few days before, and even with only a few days of this, he found that he didn’t want to go back. It was broken when Akane-san looked up.

“How is Subaru?” Her answer was a frown.

“Physically, he’s doing fine. But I can’t get him to talk to anyone, not even me. He won’t even answer about what he wants for dinner; instead he’s up in his room all the time. The only time he ever comes out is when it’s time to eat, or when he leaves after dinner to go up to Vista Point…”

“He still goes there, huh…”

“Yeah…” The man sighed. “The only thing that stops him from bringing his telescope with him is that it’s too big to constantly assemble and disassemble all the time…”

“I can understand. Even now, the pain is still very raw…” Her eyes closed, a bit of skin around her eyes crinkling as she let out a small pained smile.

“And the school? Are they still calling?”

“Of course. Honestly, that principal, sometimes I wonder if he’s more worried about his school’s reputation than the welfare of his students...”

“Mmn. I’ll give them a call tonight. No more harassing me or my son to send him back to school. Until he’s ready to go back, he can be homeschooled with TeacherMan.”

“What’s a school?” Solo asked as she led him into the house. He was a little distracted at first from her answer as he looked around the house-he had never been in one before, and it looked…he wasn’t sure what to call it. But it didn’t look bad or anything…

He looked up suddenly at the tail end of her words, not catching what she had said at all. “Huh?” Akane chuckled and started over.

“It’s a place that might be good for you to go to. A school is where many kids go together to learn how to do things-read, write, do math, history…a lot of stuff that can help you in the future. Subaru used to go, but after my husband-his father-disappeared, well…he hasn’t had the heart to go. He doesn’t want to interact with other people much, these days…”

Solo hadn’t heard much of that explanation. He had frozen up at hearing “many kids go together.” Many kids. Maybe one or two would have been fine, but if he was among all of those children…it would become obvious that he was different, weird. They would become like everyone else. Maybe even Akane-san would too, once she saw how much trouble he would cause at the school.

Those people had always glared down at him because he was alone, and they were all together. They had always beaten him up because he was alone, and they were together. It would be the same if he went to that “school.” Everyone would already be in their places, and there wouldn’t be any for him, so they’d drive him out again. Never. He’d never go there. He didn’t want to deal with groups. It would be better to stay with Akane, who was nice to him because she was alone.

“I…I…I don’t want to go…” Was that a plaintive tone in his voice? He was surprised to hear t, surprised to hear the fear escaping his voice. He hadn’t been like this since the last time he was beat up. He didn’t want to go. He couldn’t go. He didn’t want to be ganged up again, he didn’t want to see people bunched up together against him, he didn’t want, he didn’t…

He didn’t realize how much he had been shaking until Akane-san had put a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to go.” He sniffled, wiping away tears that had trickled down his face without him knowing, and she put her other hand on his other shoulder and lowered herself to his height again.

“Let me tell you what I told my son when he said he didn’t want to go to school either: you don’t have to go if you don’t want to.

“A…are you sure? You’re not gonna get the…I heard that they were bothering you…”

“Only because they think Subaru is a difficult child. Honestly, narrow-minded people! But I’m the legal guardian of both of you, so if I say you don’t have to go, you don’t have to go. When you think you’re ready, then go.”

“O…okay…”

“But!”

“Eh?!”

“But…I want you to get an education, Solo. It’ll help you when you’re older, like when you learned to read the menu and you immediately started reading other words off the train. You have to admit, you liked that, didn’t you?”

“I…” He did. It was thrilling, having something to call his, this knowledge. And he craved more of it.

“I’ll get another TeacherMan Navi that you can use in the house. You’re gonna be behind Subaru, so you can’t learn with him for a while-but you pick up on things quickly, I’ve noticed! Perhaps you’ll be able to learn with him and his TeacherMan soon.

“Nnn…”

“I won’t force you, if you still want to learn by yourself when that time comes, Solo.”

“…Ah…okay…”

Their conversation with each other was interrupted by the door opening and closing. A young boy trudged into the room. His hair and eyes were brown like his mother, but it stuck up in a way that was almost unlike hers. His sullen expression also made him look radically different from his mother. Only when his eyes seemed to brighten slightly on seeing her did Solo see more than a superficial resemblance, but it was soon gone once he ran over and buried his head in her stomach.

“What a greeting, Subaru,” murmured Akane-san as she gently patted his head. “Not even being here when I come home, ah?”

“Missed you,” the boy mumbled back, not letting go of the hug for the moment and not moving to look up at her.

“I missed you too, honey. Now, look up! Someone else is going to be staying with us from now on.” Only then did Subaru look up to his mom, confusion written on his face.

“I found him alone on the streets when I was visiting WAZA,” Akane-san continued. “His name is Solo, and he’ll be staying with us since he has nowhere else to go. He doesn’t know much about living with other people, so he may make some mistakes-“

“I don’t care,” the boy muttered, finally looking at him. Solo was taken aback by the expression on his face-it wasn’t hatred, avoidance, or even his mother’s kindness.

It was complete and utter indifference.

He didn’t know about Solo. He didn’t know why Solo’s hair and eyes were so different from everyone else, why that strange mark was on his face, or why his mother had decided to take pity on him when no one else would. He didn’t know. And he didn’t care to know. Solo admittedly found it intriguing that there was someone out there who he couldn’t elicit any sort of reaction out of-and it was honestly the same indifference that he wished he could exude to everyone else. Maybe then things wouldn’t hurt so much.

“Now, Subaru, don’t be rude,” chided his mother, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Solo wasn’t really offended at all.

“…Sorry.” He didn’t sound sorry at all. Then again, he didn’t really sound like anything. “When’s dinner?”

“Later today, at the usual time.. You won’t have to be subjected to Amachi-san’s terrible cooking anymore, ah?”

“After the first night, ,we just got carry-out all the time,” Subaru muttered, and while his mother laughed at the small anecdote, Subaru himself didn’t seem to have wanted to garner any sort of reaction.

Instead, he ran up to his room and out of sight, Solo’s eyes following him all the way.

“…Sorry about him. He’s not normally like this, but ever since his father…”

Her explanation died away as she noticed that Solo wasn’t paying attention, instead still looking at the door that closed off the upstairs stairway.

 

0-0-0-0-0

 

Dinner was an awkward affair that night, at least at first.

Akane-san was doing all of the talking, regaling Subaru with the story of what had happened during her trip. Solo was barely listening, instead eating at a steady pace with no particular opinion of the food set in front of him (it was good, just like all of the other food she had introduced him to so far), and Subaru was barely eating, just moving his food around with his fork as he listened to his mother.

Solo instead was thinking over his first few lessons with the TeacherMan Navi. They had done a few more reading lessons, and Solo had found himself absorbing the information like a sponge.

“And did you finish your assignments with TeacherMan today, Subaru?” Akane had asked, and Solo finally found himself paying attention, if only because TeacherMan was mentioned.

“…Un. It didn’t take very long,” the boy mumbled, apparently still not interested in eating much.

“Ahh…I might have to up the level then, if that was your science course…”

“It was.”

“Hm. What about you, Solo?”

“There’s a lot of characters to learn,” Solo ruefully admitted. “Why do people write with so many characters?”

“That’s just how the language is, Solo. We need those characters to help express what we want to say. Did you learn anything?”

“I can write my name now. And yours, and his.” Solo said, taking another mouthful of food. “It doesn’t look as nice as the TeacherMan’s, but I can read it…”

“It’ll look better with practice, Solo. Good penmanship is important, after all.”

“Mmkay. There’s something I don’t get, though…”

“Hm? What?”

“His name,” Solo jabbed his spoon in Subaru’s direction, and the slightly younger boy looked up. “I don’t think it matches him.”

“What’s wrong with my name?” Subaru responded almost defensively,

“Nothing’s wrong with it, I just don’t think it matches you. You don’t like being with other people,” Solo stated matter-of-factly. Subaru didn’t seem to be offended at all, instead he and looked down to his food.

“What’s your point?”

“I mean that you really should lighten up a bit more, Kizuna.

Subaru turned a bright red and his next words came out in flustered spluttering.

“Sh-shut up, you stupid Uno!”

“Dummy.” Solo grinned. “I like being alone,. Calling me a word that has the same meaning as my name wouldn’t insult me, Kizu-baka.”

“Uno-meanie!”

“Boys!” Akane tried hard to hide a smile, but her scowl didn’t completely mask her amusement. “No fighting at the dinner table, you two. Be nice, Subaru, it’s Solo’s first meal here.”

“Fiiine…”

“And Solo, don’t antagonize other people when they’re eating. You’ll find that you’ll invoke a worse response than you normally would have, most of the time.”

“Okay…”

The rest of the dinner continued without incident (other than the two boys shooting glares at each other over their food).

 

0-0-0-0-0

 

The two boys soon quickly found that they were happiest avoiding each other. While they didn’t actively despise each other, Subaru was too apathetic towards building bonds to try extending a hand, and Solo was too wary of others in general to do anything similar. So while Akane’s largest hopes of them being close friends were more or less dashed, they did end up having some kind of influence on each other.

Neither boy wanted to lose to the other, so a sort of rivalry had ended up being born between them. Everything they did, they tried to best the other in. The only thing they had no real rivalry in was schoolwork, and that was only because they held different interests. Subaru gravitated more towards the maths and sciences because of his interest in becoming an astronaut to go search for his father. Solo ended up being absorbed in history, literature, and the arts, because he never really got over the fact that he just was different from the family and everyone else in the neighborhood. He wanted to find his roots, where he came from, if only to solve the questions that were eating away inside him. It was an impossible dream, he knew, but it wasn’t any less impossible than Subaru finding his father, so neither of them commented on the other’s ambitions. Instead, they ended up unintentionally bolstering the other’s book smarts, so while they were both above and beyond others in their age in the subjects they specialized in, they were no slouches in their other subjects as well. The Teacherman Navis didn’t know how to keep up with the boys some days.

They had become comfortable enough to work in the same room these days-Subaru worked on the windowsill ledge by his bed, and Solo worked on the table beside the cot that had been worked in under the stairs to Subaru’s loft. It was close enough that the boys could shout answers to each other but far enough that they could tune each other out if they wished. It was during one of those moments when some of Subaru’s muttering reached Solo’s ears.

“So technology runs on the Wave World, where Mr. Hertzes run devices…?”

“Not completely right,” Solo shouted up before he could stop himself. “They run up and down the wave road too. They’re kind of cute, actually.”

“Pft. Of course you would say something like that. How do you know what they look like, anyway? You haven’t reached this unit yet,” Subaru called back almost nonchalantly, only the vaguest hint of curiosity in his deadpan, almost sarcastic voice.”

“Er-“ Solo was at a loss. He never intended to actually talk about what he saw on the Wave Roads every single day. The one time he had mentioned it to someone back then had started the whole mess, had brought down the whole town on him in hatred, had led to him hiding behind trashcans and hoping against hope that he wouldn’t get caught. Even now he only visited the Wave Roads at night, when he thought no one was looking. He hadn’t even told Akane-san, and she was one of the kindest people he had ever met. He couldn’t talk about his power. Not now. Not when he was established somewhere comfortable.

“Ah…nowhere.”

“Uno.”

The crappy thing about having rivals was that they knew how to read you even though they weren’t friends.

“…Promise you won’t tell Akane-san?”

“Did you do something against the rules?”

“No!”

“Then why would I tell kaa-san?”

Solo huffed at Subaru’s constant use of emotionless logic.

“Fine. I can see the Wave World, alright?” He silently braced himself for the confrontation, the explosion, for Subaru to call him a freak and chase him out of the room.

“Uno, stop joking around.”

“I’m not kidding! Ever since I was little, I’ve been able to see it! Jump on it too, if I change…”

“You’re telling me that you can see the Wave Road and travel on it? And you seriously expect me to believe that?” Subaru sounded exasperated.

Yes!” Solo never expected to be so frustrated that someone didn’t want to acknowledge the truth about him. But now he just wanted to get it over with, make sure that Subaru realized the truth so that he could leave the house while he still had the chance. He looked up and saw Subaru looking down on him from the loft’s wall and stiffened. Their eyes met, expressions unchanging.

Then Subaru sighed and disappeared from where Solo could see him, and presumably sat back down on the ledge where he had been working.

“How long?”

…Was that resignation? Acceptance? Solo wasn’t sure…but it wasn’t anger, and it wasn’t hate. It almost felt like that same indifference that Subaru had regaled him with so long ago, the emotion that both had perfected over the three years that they had known each other.

“…For as long as I can remember.”

“So those times when things broke down and then they were mysteriously fixed before mom could call anyone?”

“…Yeah. I fixed them.” Solo found himself becoming defensive. “It’s the most I can do for your mom, anyway. She’s done a lot.”

“Mmm.” The lack of response was starting to get to Solo. Why wasn’t the other boy raging at him yet?

“…Lucky.”

“Eh?”

“You’re lucky, Solo. You don’t even want to get into engineering, and yet you could probably fix stuff better and more quickly than the best of them with your skills, you know? I bet understanding the Wave World lessons are gonna be a cinch for you once you get to them, since you can be part of it, you know?”

“I guess…You’re not mad?”

“Mad? Why? You haven’t done anything bad with it, have you? I guess I am a little jealous, though...”

“Nmm.” Solo was silent. He had never thought of his power as something to be jealous of before. It was always something to be feared, almost a burden. It was a new point of view.

“You know, I bet this is good for you too. I bet you’ve easily found lots of ancient legends about a wave world or wave people or something."

“Ah-“ Solo paused, then blinked. “I hadn’t thought of looking for that."

“Pft.” Was that snickering Solo heard? “Stupid Uno.”

Solo smirked, and settled back into his seat with his textbook.

“Kizu-baka.”

 

0-0-0-0-0

 

Subaru fiddled with the glasses that Amachi-san had given to him. He barely remembered the man, the last time he remembered seeing him at all was the time he looked after him before kaa-san had brought home Solo. After that, the man had apparently been engrossed in his work and in creating his own lab. It sounded interesting enough.

Slipping the glasses over his eyes, he sighed. It didn’t seem to be nearly as strong as Solo’s eyesight, whatever it was made for. He couldn’t see any sort of Wave Road at all with it. Oh well. Maybe the other boy would find it a good joke. He’d tell him about it later after visiting Vista Point.

Speaking of Vista Point, some other people seemed to be approaching it as well. He didn’t feel like observing them, but they forced themselves upon his notice by making a beeline for him once they spotted him by the stairs to the point: a blond girl with her hair in two huge drill-shaped pigtails, a large, heavyset boy wearing an odd cap, and a small boy who’s most distinctive features were his broad forehead and rectangular glasses.

“You’re Hoshikawa Subaru, aren’t you?” the girl demanded, looking at him with an almost angry, determined expression. He looked back with confusion and wariness.

“So what if I am?” It seemed like even just that part-admission was all the girl needed to harrumph in self-satisfaction and to hold herself up straight in an almost exaggerated fashion.

“I am Shirogane Luna, Class President of Class 5-B of Kadomasho Elementary; and you are the bad apple that’s keeping it from being the number one class in the school!”

“Eh? How-?”

“Because you don’t show up to class, obviously! Every day the teacher calls your name in class, and every day you’re not there to respond! It’s a glaring hole in the unity of the class and until that’s patched up, the class spirit won’t be whole like it should be! You’re setting a bad example for everyone!”

“Excuse me?” Subaru gave her an incredulous look. “I shouldn’t even be on that class list at all. My mom’s informed the school-again, mind you-that I prefer to be homeschooled, and not to bother leaving any spot for me in the class. Honestly, if that school keeps harassing us all the time, we’d have half a mind to sue it! We’ve made our intentions clear-they just want another person to sap tuition profits off of!” the boy sniffed, turning away. “I have no need for your ‘class unity’ nonsense, those are just excuses to get me into a class that was doing fine without me, and will continue to do fine without me.”

“Hold it right there!” Luna yelled, and the two boys behind her quickly darted around the two of them to block Subaru’s path. Subaru only snorted and turned away from the other two to face the girl again.

“Can’t think of a good reason to detain me, so you get your lackeys to do it for you? What a typical power play by stupid kids. I bet you don’t even get a proper education in that institutional prison you call a school.”

“Did you just call us stupid?” the girl screeched back, and Subaru even noted the other two boys stiffening up.

“No. Merely ignorant. I bet I get a better education sitting in my room for four hours a day than you lot get at your school,” the boy sneered, turning to move around the two boys. However, while it was easy to get around the short one, the larger one was proving to be a bigger hassle, bringing a smirk to Luna’s face.

“Is that so? Then let’s have a pop quiz. If a wall is fifteen meters tall and the best place to put the ladder’s base down is roughly eight meters away from it, then what is the length of a regular ladder needed to climb up to the top of the wall?”

“Ha!” Subaru smirked. “Trying to quiz me with stuff that should be above our grade level, huh? I should have expected such a bullying maneuver.” He shrugged off Luna’s aggravated yelling and looked directly at her.

“Seventeen meters.”

“Humph! On the periodic table, what does group 18 consist of?”

“Nonmetals, to be more specific, the noble gases, some of the most stable gases in the table. Next.”

“How many moons does Jupiter have?”

Subaru gave her an incredulous look.

“Getting desperate, are we, asking an astronaut’s son this question? Sixty three, including Io, Europa, Ganymede, Metis, Calisto, Themisto, Chaldene-“

“Okay, I get it!” Luna fumed, stamping her foot.

“What incompetent and foolish king’s boat sunk off the coast of Electopia five hundred years ago after being exiled from his country due to a historical revolution?!”

Subaru blinked.

“E-ah?”

“What, you don’t know such a fact, even though we’ve learned it in school? Clearly, your education is lacking.”

“No, I know this…let’s see, five hundred years ago was…”

“It was 17XX, which makes it the era of Jean Couronne Velmond Georgione XIV,” a sullen voice interrupted him, and the group of four found themselves turning in shock to see Solo approach them. “And of course you wouldn’t know that, idiot, you haven’t reached that textbook yet,” he continued, moving to stand next to Subaru.

“Che!” Subaru huffed. “I still didn’t need your help, stupid.”

“Because you were doing so well on your own, dummy.”

“Humph. History nut.”

“Spaceface.”

“Art geek.”

“Math nerd.”

Uno.”

“Kizuna.”

The two boys glared at each other, ignoring the confused and incredulous stares they were getting from the other kids, before Solo seemed to sigh and concede.

“No, you shouldn’t have. They shouldn’t have known such a fact either, if they’re our age.” Solo leveled his gaze on Luna, and she found herself flinching back even though he wasn’t actively glaring at her. Even when wearing only a thick green turtleneck and grey shorts, nothing exotic about him other than the red eyes and white hair, she found herself being intimidated by his gaze, as if he was subtly threatening her. But did the Class President flinch away at any sort of threat? Of course not!

“Who are you?” the boy queried, and she puffed up, her practiced answer at the ready.

“Some ‘class president’ from the school or other,” Subaru sniffed dismissively, making Solo look at him.

“So the school is resorting to sending children after you now? How pitiful.”

“Eh. They would have tried eventually.”

“Now hold on!” Luna sputtered indignantly. “The school didn’t send me on anything! I came of my own accord, to fulfill the duties of the Class President?

“Oh?” Solo asked, looking at her once more. “So it’s your job to bully other people into attending classes that they don’t want nor do they need to attend?”

“No! It’s the job of the Class President to promote class unity and to keep order!”

“Ah. So by keeping order, you choose to cause trouble by forcing someone into the class that doesn’t want to be there. I imagine that would cause absolutely no trouble and chaos at all.” Solo deadpanned, making her growl. His eyes flicked to the side, taking in the view of the two boys in the corner of his eye before focusing back on her again. He took one step forward, making Gonta and Kizamaro try to step forward. However, Subaru glared at them, shaking his head no, and they found themselves wanting to listen for their own good.

Solo reached into his pocket, and everyone other than Subaru stiffened, anticipating the intimidating-looking boy to pull out something threatening. Even when the thing turned out to be a lollipop, even when Solo took off the brightly colored wrapper and lazily pointed the unwrapped treat at Luna, she flinched back as if he had been holding a fully-loaded gun.

“Now, I don’t care what you do. But you might want to know that I dislike people like you,” Solo continued. The tone of his voice had not changed at all, and yet the gravity of the situation had deepened, immeasurably so.

“I despise people who hide behind their own flimsy excuses and reasons for self-promotion and gain. I have no problems with your ambition, rather, you hide it, pretend it is something to be despised and something to act modest about, as if you are ashamed of your ambition. I hate people who don’t own up to it, are determined to look two-faced and dishonest. And I despise those who drag others into their ambition even when lying about it.”

Another step forward. Luna dared not step back, and yet she found herself wanting to more and more. But she couldn’t show weakness, she couldn’t! Not as the Class President…!

“But what I despise most…are people who gang up, like you three. Who feel the need to show their strength over one by banding into groups, as if they are incapable of taking on that person on their own. Who feel as if they are weak, insignificant, and unable to believe in their own strength as individuals to do even the simplest of tasks. Who would group up to take care of something insignificant, who should be able to be won over by themselves alone if their means are good. Ganging up like this…it’s like already admitting your defeat, isn’t it?”

“What…how dare you-“

Her words faltered as his eyes narrowed, and she unconsciously found herself stepping backwards. There was silence for a few, tense moments, before he huffed and turned away, breaking eye contact. The lollipop finally found its way into Solo’s mouth, and he talked casually around it, the treat not impeding his speech at all.

“Kizu. Dinner’s in thirty. Don’t forget the time while you’re stargazing.”

“You tell me that even when you’re stuffing more candy in your mouth?” Subaru retorted, a smirk crossing his face. “Uno, you’re going to get cavities eating all that junk.”

“Oi, I brush my teeth enough. Haven’t got them yet, have I?”

“Still eating too much, Uno.”

“Bah. It’s your favorite dinner tonight, not mine. I don’t plan on eating any more than the minimum. Besides, at least I, unlike you, actually do stuff to work off the extra calories.”

“Hah, you saying that I’m lazy?”

“Nah, you’re just lacking exercise.”

“I get plenty of exercise.”

“Walking outside to your local stargazing haunt does not count as exercise, Kizu-baka.”

“Neither does strolling to the library!”

“You…how dare you…” The sudden growling from Luna finally garnered the two boys’ attention. Gonta and Kizamaro, on the other hand, seemed to have noticed her seething for quite some time-they had seen fit to back away.

“You talk about ganging up on other people like you’re so high and mighty, but then you and your delinquent friend-“

“We. Are. Not. Friends,” the two boys growled suddenly, making Luna flinch yet again.

“We are nothing more than acquaintances,” Subaru stated coldly, his brown eyes losing any warmth that remained.

“You would do well to remember that,” Solo continued, going so far as to take the lollipop out of his mouth and point it at Luna, intensifying the effect of his blood red eyes.

No one spoke. Solo put the candy back in his mouth and began to walk away towards the house. Subaru held himself upright as he turned around walked past Gonta and Kizamaro. Neither of them did anything to stop him. No one even spoke until Solo turned his head to look back, still walking.

“By the way, what’s with the dorky glasses?”

“These dorky glasses, as you put them, are actually pretty important. You’ll probably hear about it from kaa-san and Amachi-san though, if he’s still here.”

“Huh. Your dad’s friend’s here?”

“Something like that.”

“Hm.”

The two boys by this point had long reached opposite sides of the street, and before Luna could call out to either of them to stop, they had both turned a corner and disappeared. She found herself standing alone on the sidewalk with her two friends, gritting her teeth as she was left to stew in the failure of her self-appointed mission.

Those two…boys! Ugh! They were much more frustrating than she thought they would be.

 

0-0-FIN-0-0


[A/N]: So these dorks are dumb. Also I looked up those problems to the best of my ability except for the Jean Couronne nonsense.That's just the anime canon of Crown's host body. Yay.



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