They were in the library studying. They both had different study methods, Kei’s method being staring at the textbook occasionally flipping back and forth from pages. It was a silent method. Teff’s method on the other hand should not be allowed in libraries.
Teff was holding his notes as if he was Shakespeare reciting a poem, “And thus!” he said in a very dramatic tone, “Did thy patient die in vain and agony!”
Kei felt cold sweat drip down his forehead at his friend’s antics, and stopped himself from looking around to see the stares at the other students who were trying to study. In a whisper, Kei said, “Teff, I think you should lower your voice.”
“Dude this is the only way I can study.”
“Then why don’t you study in your own dorm room?”
Teff scoffed and sat back down on his chair, “That would be boring.”
Sighing, Kei looked back at his book and rested his cheek on his hand, “As long as you’re quiet.” Hopefully, this silence will last.
“So dude, I was wondering if we can go to another restaurant for lunch.”
Kei groaned. It didn’t last. He closed his book and sent a small glare towards Teff, “You know it’s amazing how you can keep up your grades with how little you study.”
“Well I am a genius.”
“I’m super smart, that’s why.”
Kei smacked his head on the table, gaining quite a few stares from the other students. it was there again.
Teff jumped a bit, “Are you okay, bro?”
Kei nodded and rubbed his head, “Yeah I’m fine. My head’s pretty hard.”
“Head-butt me dude.” Said Teff with a straight face.
“Excuse me, what?” asked Kei with his eyebrow raised.
Teff’s eyes were shining with some sort of strange gleam, “Hit my head with your head. Do I really have to spell it out for you, Mr. Top of The Class?” He wouldn’t like the feeling, but Kei wanted to do it. “My head’s pretty durable too anywa— “a painful THUMP sounded through the library. Teff fell out of his chair and held his forehead with both hands, “FRICKITY PUMPKIN JUICE OF MOTHER FRIGGIN LOVE! That HURT!”
The students around them sent some “Shhh” along their way, but Kei ignored it and stood above Teff with a smug smile. Did he say that he would not like the feeling? Kei meant that Teff would not like the feeling.
“It’s no wonder your head’s wacko.” Teff muttered, until he realized that Kei was able to hear that, “Uh, I mean that…”
“It’s a game me and my sisters used to play when we were younger. It’s one of the reasons why I’m super hard headed.”
“Don’t worry, Teff. I too, think it’s one of the reasons. Stay with me for a little while longer and you’ll be just the same.” Kei wacked his own head a few times with his hand.
Teff shivered and said, “I don’t think I would want to go through that torture. What made you have this gruesome ability?”
“Let me try it again! Maybe this time you won’t fall over.”
Why won’t it get out of his head? Kei looked up and sighed, that was a fond memory. “She… She made me go through what you call ‘torture’.” Kei knocked on his head, and said, “Come on, I think we’re gaining enough attention.” He helped Teff up and started to clean up his things off from the table, they weren’t able to study much. That was to be expected.
“Cool, bro. Hey, let’s go to a restaurant!”
Kei huffed and nodded, “Sure.”
“Slow down… You’ll get fat.” Kei said staring at Teff who was gobbling down one chicken after another.
Teff swallowed with the help his coke, and looked at him dead in the eye. With his voice low and serious, he said, “No.” and then he started chewing on the soft bones of the chicken wing.
Kei went pale and gagged, “Yuck. You’re going to get stomach problems if you swallow that. Don’t swallow it!”
“Watch me.” Teff didn’t miss a beat and swallowed, even opening his mouth to show proof that it was all gone.
“Ah that’s cute… I could do so much more.”
Kei thwacked his head with his fingers, an attempt to make her voice go away, and said, “You never listen to me.” Kei dug through his bag in search for the bottle of medication that he did not forget to bring, and found it in one of the pockets. It was about time, he guessed.
Teff chewed harshly and pushed his coke closer to him, “You want some? You already finished yours.”
Kei nodded and popped one med into his mouth, then drank a gulp of coke. He released a breath, and said, “Phew… thanks.”
That was an indirect kiss wasn’t it. Kei huffed and kept his medication back into his bag, and said, “You better be paying for all of that.”
Teff pouted, “Awwww… okay.” Slowly as if he was about to ask something serious, Teff said, “It’s okay if you don’t answer this, but I was wondering… who was she to you?”
Kei took another bite of his fries and sighed, “Look, Teff. Stop acting like I’m a fragile person ready to break down in any second. It’s okay to ask those things.” After all, it wasn’t her he was afraid of, it was the thing stuck in his head. “She was my lover.”
Raising an eyebrow, Kei dipped a fry in ketchup and brought it to his mouth, “Yeah? I thought that would be obvious.”
“Dude… it’s not obvious. I thought you hanged out with me because you were gay too.” Teff released a sigh and made a disappointed face, “Such a shame really, you’re cute…” Teff attempted to take one of Kei’s French fries, but Kei stopped him with a deadly glare. Teff laughed nervously, “So you’re really fine with me being gay?”
“Growing up, I had three cousins who turned out to be gay. One of those cousins is the reason why I was able to go to a college in America. I was very close to them, and I never thought that what they were doing was… ‘wrong’, until I got older. I got used to it, and I don’t mind. Besides, isn’t it a normality now in this generation?”
“Oh my DOG, it’s so cool that you have gay cousins. So surprising how you didn’t end up like them… you’d think with the influence.” Teff hummed and continued eating.
“Influence? Teff, straight parents mostly get straight kids because they brainwash them into thinking that it’s wrong to be gay… what my cousins did was stand there and do what they wanted to do. They never tried to convince me to do anything, and they never even mentioned anything. Which is why I never noticed anything different about them.”
“Listening to you talk, I can see now why you decided to take philosophy as one of your subjects.”
“Uh huh…” Kei rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, looking down at his finished fries. He wanted to get another pack, but he didn’t have any more money. Plus, it would be plain rude to ask Teff to pay for the extra fries when he had already paid for his lunch. Looking at Teff gobble down his food, it made Kei feel kind of nostalgic. “You know; you remind me a lot of her. Your personality, your habits, your way of speaking.”
Teff stopped mid-bite and his jaw went slack. Just by looking at his face you can tell that he didn’t know how to react to that question, but there was a slight blush on his cheeks. “Ummm… thanks?”
“The only difference is that she was a very classy lady with manners and etiquette. Use a fork, you savage.” Kei said with a smirk while gesturing at the plastic fork that lied unused.
“Hey, I can be classy if I want to!” Teff grabbed the fork and stabbed his chicken aggressively.
Kei scoffed and took another bite of his French fry, “What a gentleman.”
“You’re such a gentleman.”
“Urk…” Kei knocked on his head again. What was the point of the meds if they barely kept its voice away? “I’m going to go to the bathroom to wash my hands.” He managed to hear Teff mutter an ‘okay’ through his full mouth before he made his way through the crowd of tables. It always bothered him how cramped restaurants usually were.
There was no privacy. People could just look at their left, and see you eating. They would stare at you and judge your every movement, complaining inside of their minds how a disappointment you are in life as if they knew your entire past and all the skeletons you hid inside of your closet…
Okay, maybe he was over exaggerating. He knew that that’s not what people really thought when they looked at you. He knew that most people would find it hard to look around the restaurant because they were afraid that they would be caught accidentally looking at you. He wasn’t the only one with anxiety. Everyone had at least one form of it. It wasn’t surprising since we were only human.
Kei rubbed both of his hands together, watched the bubbles flow down into the drain when water splashed onto them. The sound of the water falling from the faucet was something that Kei oddly found satisfying. Since nobody else was inside of the bathroom, Kei was able to fix up his appearance without being called gay. He was a neat-o, so he really wanted to make sure that there wasn’t any dirt on his face.
Looking up from the mini water fall, his heart nearly stopped when he caught the shadow hiding behind him through the mirror’s reflection. Terrified, he nearly got a whiplash while turning his head, but he saw nobody there.
Breathe in and breathe out. In front of you, there’s a sink… above you, there’s a ceiling light, behind you is a stall, the ground is made out of blue square tiles, and right now you are wearing a grey sweater. There’s no one in the room.
“Ground yourself…,” he whispered to himself with his eyes closed shut, his hand coming up to rest just above his heart. It was just an illusion created by your mind. It was nothing. He forced himself to open his eyes and look back into the mirror.
This time it was closer.
His lungs had stopped working, and the air couldn’t go through. Kei’s eyes were wide and focused only on its smiling silhouette.
“A-ah… I-I…” it wouldn’t be long now until he started shaking, but when Kei saw it take one step towards him… he regained his senses and rushed out of the bathroom. His first destination was Teff. His breathing was starting to grow erratic. “T-Teff, I need to get out of here…,” he said in a low voice in order to control himself.”
It was good timing too since Teff had just finished his chicken. Just one look at Kei and Teff knew what was happening. He had seen it many times before. “Okay.” When they reached outside of the restaurant, Teff was rubbing circles on Kei’s back whispering soft words into his ear, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I bought you another pack of French fries after I saw you staring at your empty ones, here, eat them.”
“I don’t want French fries.”
Teff was never really that good at cheering people up because apparently, everyone found it cheery just being around him. Being with Kei was a challenge if you bring that into the mix, but nonetheless, it didn’t stop him from trying. “Dude, would you believe me if I said I was going to pour ketchup on my face?” Teff said with a grin, a ketchup packet ready in his hands.
Kei looked at him, eyebrows furrowed and eyes confused. ”Uh, what…?”
All of the sudden, Teff opened the packet and poured the entire thing onto his face. Surrounding people giggled at his antics, or maybe even started looking at him weirdly, but Teff didn’t notice. “I’mma try to lick it off my face!” it was a feeble attempt because he was only able to reach until above his lip.
Kei released a very heavy breath and felt the weight fall off his shoulders. Teff was such a clown. With the most relieved smiles, Kei let out a soft laugh… a laugh that was barely heard by others, but with Teff’s keen ears…
The other paused and stared at Kei wide-eyed, his mouth was agape. “You… laughed.” He barely managed to get those words out with that stiff jaw.
With a small smile still on his face, Kei asked, “Is that wrong?”
Teff shook his head very hard, “No, no, no, no! It’s good! Very good!” a blush was on his face.
Kei dug into his pocket and took out another bottle of mints. Bottle. He popped a piece of candy inside of his mouth and waited for it to melt. Tree. Behind him, Teff was still trailing behind. Café sign. All around him, the crowd of people were speaking. Sunglasses. The world was moving, leaving everyone trying to catch up. Poppies.
An arm slung itself around Kei’s shoulder, and it was soft as not to alarm him. Teff grinned, “It’s time for us to get back to class.” Chancing.
His world already left once... would he make it out alive, if this world left him too, he wondered.
Kei adjusted his sling bag’s strap, “Alright.”
It took him faster than usual since he didn’t have Teff to slow him down, but when Kei was already reaching the front of the dorm’s entrance he saw a very familiar face. A face he never thought he would see again, at least not again until a long time from now.
His voice was faint, and it had a tinge of uncertainty inside of it, but the closer he got the less uncertain it sounded.
The familiar person turned to look at his direction after hearing the sound of his name. His eyes met his, and Kei saw the usual pair of spectacles resting on top of his nose. He watched as their expression morphed into that of excitement, and saw them adjust their glasses. The person dropped the luggage they were holding in order to wave.
"Kei, long time no see!" Ritsu ran towards him and brought him into a chokehold, "You thought you saw the last of me during graduation, huh? Well, too bad!"
Kei coughed and managed to force Ritsu to switch positions in the choking, "Ritsu! What in the world are you doing in America, and what's with all the bags?!"
Ritsu started smacking his arm, his face beginning to turn blue after being inside of Kei’s hold. Kei released his hold and waited for an answer. After a couple of coughs and hard breathing, Ritsu managed to say, "I got a job offer here. Isn't that great?"