Peer Mentor

Jan. 4th, 2010 02:47 am
sunmoonandspoon: (Playing with your heart)
[personal profile] sunmoonandspoon
Title: Peer Mentor
Author: [livejournal.com profile] speaky_bean
Characters: Light, Mikami, mentions of their respective families, multiple OCs.
Written For: [livejournal.com profile] the_gabih, with the prompt "academics". She wanted the main characters to be Light and Mikami. This was for [livejournal.com profile] dn_contest's second annual Secret Santa event.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 5,505
Notes: In this story, Light and Mikami go to the same high school, due to Mikami being kept out of school after his mother dies, and due to canon not specifying where he lived as a child, only where he lives as an adult. Being older than Light, Mikami is assigned to be his peer mentor--their discussions range from the dimensions of the classrooms (which Mikami considers to be vitally important) to how one balances school and having a life. This story also deals with a lot of neurosis on Mikami's part.



Today will be Yagami Light’s first day of high school. The first day of starched white shirts and wood brown jackets, of red ties and girls in sailor suits. The first day he’ll walk to school without tennis to look forward to, and the first time that his mother clasps his hand in hers and tells him that things count now, things that never counted before, like his grades (though they were everything), and his extracurriculars (he had to drop tennis, didn’t he?) and his scores on national exams (why had he sacrificed his life to studying for them if they had not counted until now?), and it is not the first time that he wonders if that stretched, plastic smile of hers will fade entirely if he brings home a B.

But it is the first day, and his mother says that the first day ought to be stress-free. So Yagami Light does not read as he chews his toast, and he does not go over his schedule again before he ambles out the door. Light takes deep breaths and tries to act excited, promises to make his parents proud. “I love school,” he says through gritted teeth. “This will be easy.”

His mother believes him, and for a few minutes Light Yagami believes himself right along with her.

~`~`~

Mikami Teru wakes up at 5:59 AM, forty-three seconds before his alarm clock is set to go off. He tries desperately to cancel out his awakening, to sleep for forty-three more seconds and wake up with the grating, obnoxious beeping of his alarm, but this is not possible. Mikami Teru’s eyes are pried open at 5:59 AM, and because of that, the day is ruined. The structured prison of his mind cannot deal with this, he seizes onto the idea that nothing good will come of today—today, the first day of his final year of high school. This of course means that the entire year will be terrible, and this, unfortunately, is the year that counts the most. Teru has to apply for university, and Teru has to graduate without having another nervous breakdown. He has to get a job so he can pay for university, and so that he can get out of his Aunt Ako’s dusty, disorganized house.

But he woke up at 5:59 AM, so Teru Mikami won’t be able to do any of that. He is going to fail every class, be rejected from every university he applies to, never find a job, and yes, he will even have another nervous breakdown—this time in front of everyone, this time earning him a brutal thrashing at the hands of the monsters that creep through the halls of his school. He doesn’t even want to bother getting up, because of this.

He drags himself out of bed at 6:02 AM, and pads to the bathroom. Brushes his teeth slowly and methodically, thirty full seconds devoted to each tooth. His gums don’t bleed when he flosses anymore, so he assaults them with the minty string. After buffing his teeth to a brilliant shine, he hits the shower. Aunt Ako hates it when he takes more than ten minutes in the shower, but he never listens to her, he’s got to take eighteen minutes exactly or else he isn’t really clean. He fights off his depraved impulse to do anything with his genitals other than clean them, and within eighteen minutes he’s out of the shower and drying off.

After that, it’s breakfast time. He’ll have to brush his teeth again to deal with the food that accumulates, but waiting to do it until he’s eaten breakfast would be an abomination—he can’t tolerate his own morning breath, it nauseates him. Having to brush his teeth again is a small price to pay. For breakfast Teru has the same thing he always does, one half cup of rice with one teaspoon of dried seaweed sprinkled on top, one half cup of miso soup, one peach, and one cup of tea—the tea bag stays in for exactly half the time it takes to drink it, which is ten minutes if he doesn’t heat up the water too much. He does his own dishes in spite of Aunt Ako’s offer to do them for him—he will not have her touching his dishes—and he get all of this done by 7:30 AM on the dot—time to leave for school.

~`~`~

Yagami Light is having trouble finding his classroom—not because he’s an idiot who can’t follow directions, but because there aren’t any directions to be followed. The piece of paper he received at the opening ceremony says ‘classroom to be announced’ which is the most useless piece of information in the history of the world. He knows that he’s a part of class 1B, but since he doesn’t know where 1B is, and neither does anybody else, apparently, knowing that he’s in class 1B helps little.

He watches his fellow schoolmates mill through the hallway, searching either for someone in his grade, who might have already figured out the mystery of class 1B, or for a senpai who would’ve absorbed this knowledge through experience. He’s been assigned to a ‘peer mentor’ called Mikami Teru, but he has no idea where to find him to ask, so he won’t even bother with that. He can pick out the freshman easily—they’re all varying degrees of confused—but it’s harder to tell the difference between the other two grades. Eventually Light finds himself relying solely on their height—if they’re taller, then surely they must be older. Never mind the fact that he himself is already taller than his own mother, this must be the case.

Eventually, he walks up to an exceptionally tall fellow student, grins cheerfully and asks them if they know how to locate class 1B. The student snorts angrily, and he does not look at Light right away. For a time he seems fixated on the path ahead, but he gets over it, smiles warily at Light and says he’d be happy to escort him. “That isn’t necessary,” Light says, fingering his freshly ironed jacket pocket. The stiffness is unnatural, but oddly pleasing. “I wouldn’t want to make you late for your own class.”

“Nothing is more important than helping out someone in need.” He says this, but his voice is so surly, and his gaze so intense, that Light can’t imagine him wanting to be helpful in the least. “I’d be happy to guide you to your classroom,” he says with a slight bob of his head. “May I ask your name?”

“My name is Yagami Light,” he says, shifting his school bag slightly. “And yours?”

“Mikami Teru,” he says, clearing his throat with a low rumble, like the sound of a purring cat or a slow-to-start engine. He does it again, frowns angrily and then tells Light that it certainly is fortuitous that they should meet each other. Light had been thinking the same thing, mentally rolling his eyes at the ridiculously coincidental nature of their meeting. “They probably told you about the peer mentor program during orientation. Well, I’m your partner from the senior class. I just received the assignment today, and I didn’t know anything about you other than your name. But anyway, please feel free to ask me any questions you might have about this school.”

“I just need to know how to get to my classroom,” Light says cautiously. To him, this peer mentor business seems somewhat unnecessary—Light might be a bit of a lost lamb at the moment, but he is confident in his ability to get a handle on this place within a few days. He doesn’t need a shepherd, but he will be a good lamb all the same. “Thank you very much for your assistance, Mikami-senpai. I don’t imagine I’ll be troubling you all that much from now on.”

“No, you have to trouble me!” insists Mikami, fingers curling into a loose, shaking fist. He takes a step forward, and Light instinctively backs into the row of lockers flanking the hallway. A combination lock grinds into the small of his back, and he takes a deep, slow breath, willing himself not to panic. “I was assigned to be your mentor,” Mikami says, voice cracking with desperation. “How am I supposed to do that if you don’t have any questions? There are things about this school that you ought to know, that I can teach you, but you have to let me do my job.”

Light’s peer mentor seems so rattled by the idea that his services might not be needed, that he agrees to accept his help after all. “I think we’re supposed to meet up during lunch,” he says, stretching his lips into what he hopes is a warm, easy smile. Attempting to sidle away from the row of lockers he says, “I’ll ask you plenty of questions then. But for now, please show me where class 1B is located. I don’t want to be any later than I have to be, I’m sure you understand.”

Mikami says, “Yagami-kun, you have no idea how well I understand.”

~`~`~

Being late for class is more devastating than Teru expects it to be. He had assumed that because he was helping someone, righting the world in a way, he would be able to handle it. He had assumed that the two would somehow balance themselves out. But when he’s scolded by the teacher he blushes violently, sinks into his seat and tries to get listen to the teacher’s introductory remarks past his heart pounding in his ears. He does not like disappointing his teachers, does not like disrupting his routine, so he takes notes like a machine until the first class ends. His hand is cramping and he doesn’t have a clue what he’s writing by the end of it, but the point is that he’s on track now. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t understand, all that matters is that he’s taking notes, diligently.

Routine comes to a screeching halt at 11:30 AM. Instead of participating in normal classroom activities, Teru has to go see the school counselor until lunchtime. Initially, he saw somebody outside of school—but that was when he was living with his grandmother in Yokohama, and he wasn’t attending school. Now that he’s living with Aunt Ako in Tokyo, it doesn’t make any sense to travel to Yokohama to see his old therapist every day, and anyway Uncle Shin doesn’t make enough money for extravagances like that, not when there’s a perfectly good counselor at school and they’re already spending so much money on his food, clothing, tuition, and those distasteful little pills he’s got to swallow every evening with dinner. So now he has to miss his history class, which is fine because they aren’t learning anything he doesn’t already know, but which isn’t fine because missing classes is bad, and he is still working on accepting that he’s supposed to be missing this one.

Counseling is awkward and unpleasant, as it always is. The chair that he’s obliged to sit in is too soft, and too long for him to both fold his knees over the edge and rest his spine against the back. The counselor is unnervingly sweaty, and keeps harping on things that do not, to Teru, especially matter. His mother died, yes, but what this bastard doesn’t seem to understand is that he’s glad of it. She was a woman touched by Hell itself, and it was about time she be dragged down to her rightful dwelling space. She had dared to suggest that Teru prioritize his personal safety over that of everybody else around him, she had dared to suggest that he continue allowing evil to spread unabated. That makes her evil in Teru’s eyes, and he cannot tolerate the counselor insisting that he is somehow still grieving her. He’d been upset when she died, but only in that it severely disrupted his routine. He had gotten over it, even accepted being shuffled from relative to relative at random intervals, and being taken out of school. But losing that monster was no hardship. He could never have loved something like her.

But the counselor doesn’t believe him, and the counselor keeps trying to force him out of his comfort zone. First of all, he’s a man. They had thought that this would be a more comfortable arrangement for Teru, him being male himself, but the only adult male in Teru’s life is Uncle Shin, and Uncle Shin is every bit as big of an asshole as Teru’s estranged father was, the only difference is that Uncle Shin stuck around, and Teru’s father didn’t. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with any man—he doesn’t even want to grow into one himself if the only option is being an alcoholic scumbag who regularly cheats on his wife. But his counselor Kimura-sensei is male, and last year he had a penchant for randomly changing the date and time of the sessions, and giving Teru little to no notice beforehand. This was supposed to help him get over his deep need to rigidly schedule his life, but all it did was make him panic and cry until he vomited. Thankfully, Kimura-sensei has decided to adhere to a more reasonable schedule this year.

Kimura-sensei tells Teru that this is the year that he’s going to admit that he misses his mother. He also tells him, while running his greasy, crinkled fingers through his gray, thinning hair, that this is the year he’s finally going to make a friend.

~`~`~

By lunchtime Light has managed to surround himself with at least three new acquaintances. They are calling him their friend, though once they leave to meet their respective peer mentors, Light immediately forgets about them. They are not his friends, he’s only just met them, and they seem relatively shallow besides. He feels no grief when they leave his side, only vague impatience. He wants to get this peer mentor thing over with as quickly as possible. Mikami-senpai had seemed interesting, but a little too forceful for Light’s tastes just now. He’d like to eat his lunch in peace, and get a little bit of studying done in the meantime, But this is not to be.

Mikami sits down at Light’s lunch table, the chair squeaking under the weight of both his body and his overloaded schoolbag. He fixes him with a nervous stare, and formally greets Light. As he speaks he removes a black notebook from his black school bag, and finds his spot immediately, without having to thumb through it at all. The pages are blackened with cramped handwriting, each line the same length as the last. “I took copious notes about this school and what you need to know about it,” Mikami says, finger idling over Item Number One. “The first thing that you need to know is the average dimensions of the classrooms in the school. It varies somewhat, but typically a classroom will be—” Light stops him with a wave of his hand, tells him that this information is completely unnecessary.

“Unless there’s a class project where we have to determine the area of the building or something like that, it doesn’t benefit me to know this. I appreciate your help, but we’ve only got a short amount of time until lunch is over, so let’s stick to the less peripheral details, shall we?” As Light speaks he opens his bento box, pokes the slightly congealed rice with his chopsticks. He hopes that Mikami will not pay too close attention to the chopsticks, since they’re blue, child-sized, and decorated with a picture of Doraemon. He does not like using these chopsticks, and he avoids it when he can, but his mother had packed them with his lunch today for no reason that Light can discern. It’s doubly embarrassing because it’s his first day of high school, and Light can’t help but think that his mother is a sadist.

Mikami does not notice his chopsticks. Mikami is anxiously pawing through his notes, sputtering something about how he had a sequence planned, and he has to go through it in order or he won’t be able to go through it at all. “I wouldn’t be comfortable spending time in a room that I didn’t know the dimensions of,” he says, still frantically turning the pages of his notebook. “Obviously, Yagami-kun does not have the same priorities that I do.”

“The dimensions of the room are a priority?” Light asks, eyebrow cocked as he selects a piece of broccoli from his meal. “Mikami-senpai, with all due respect, that really doesn’t make any sense. If the rooms were exceptionally large, or exceptionally small, then perhaps this would be relevant, but as is I just don’t see how it matters.” He sighs, eats the piece of broccoli and then guides a clump of rice into his mouth. Once finished he says, “What I want to know is what the students are like, and whether the work is especially difficult or not. I want to know about the teachers, and the principal, and the school nurse. If we’re talking numbers, I want to know what the rate of acceptance into universities is.” Light stops talking, sighs loudly as he realizes that Mikami won’t deviate from his rigid lesson plan so easily. And so Light relents, knowing he can easily obtain this information elsewhere. “Listen,” he says. “We got off on the wrong foot. You can tell me whatever you think is important. You’re obviously more experienced than I am with this school—it was unfair of me to assume that you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“One thing you should know,” Mikami says, forcefully pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose and fussing with them until they stay there, “is that the students in this school are monsters. Every single one of them is a soulless, bloodsucking demon, and you’re better off just keeping to yourself. You won’t be allowed to defend yourself, and no one else will be allowed to defend you, if they try to hurt you.” Mikami straightens, almost preens as he says, “I promise you I’ll try to save you if they do, but the administration, they hate me. They want to stop me from protecting the few innocents that exist here, and they think I’m insane because I value others more than I value myself.”

“How interesting,” Light says, trying desperately to infuse enough warmth into his voice to chase away his sarcasm. He is not sure if he admires Mikami or looks down on him, but however he feels, he does not want Mikami to know about it. “I’m sorry you have to deal with that,” he coos, plucking a small piece of breaded chicken from its bed of rice and seaweed. “It must be so frustrating, trying so hard to help others and being thwarted at every turn. I applaud your efforts, Mikami-senpai, and I wish you better luck in the future.”

Mikami’s eyes sparkle with Light’s praise of him, and he thrusts out his chest ever so slightly. “It’s nice to finally meet someone who understands,” he says. And Light almost blushes with guilt, because he doesn’t really understand at all.

~`~`~

Teru doesn’t expect to see Yagami for the rest of the day—after all, they don’t have any of the same classes, and neither of them are in any clubs, Yagami because it’s his first day and he hasn’t figured out what to join yet, and Teru because he doesn’t want to spend any more time with his reprehensible classmates than he absolutely must. Teru does volunteer work at the local homeless shelter in order to correct the glaring lack of extra curricular activity on his college applications, and to do something that’s actually useful. Paint Ball Club certainly isn’t, and neither is Anime Club. In any case, running into one another isn’t likely.

But lo and behold, they walk the same route to get home. Teru has to take a train afterward, whereas Yagami is either following him or starts his route the same way, but either way, until Yagami goes a different way, they’ll walk together. Teru is extremely unnerved by this. He always walks home alone, except for on Thursdays when Aunt Ako has to go to her painting class. She has to drive past Teru’s school to get home afterward, so she picks him up to save him the train trip. Teru has no friends, so when he isn’t with Aunt Ako he inevitably walks alone—this aberration is disturbing. When Yagami says hello he nearly punches him in the face and stomps to the other side of the street, but he keeps his cool, and smiles blandly at his schoolmate. “Hello,” he says, his voice as syrupy sweet as he can make it. “Do you live nearby?”

“Not too far,” Yagami says, an equally bland smile crawling across his face like a caterpillar. “I purposefully tried to get into this school because it was only a few blocks from home. In middle school I had a very long commute, and sometimes I didn’t get home until 9 or 10 at night…I definitely can’t have that now that I’m in high school and have to focus on getting into university.”

Teru sighs, vaguely resentful of this bright, sweet-faced boy for his blithe confidence in his future. He talks of university like it’s an attainable goal, like it’s expected of him. Teru is trying desperately to gain entrance into a school—any school, but even if he can get in (and why would they ever want him, he has a diagnosed mental illness!) he won’t be able to pay for it, not without going into massive debt. But he doesn’t talk to Yagami about that. Instead he tells him that it seems perfectly reasonable to choose a school so close to home. “It’s a short enough distance to walk, but not so far that you have to take public transportation, so actually you’re getting a lot more exercise than you would be if you had a longer trip.”

“That’s nice too,” Yagami says. “I used to be on a tennis team, and I was pretty good, but I ended up having to stop because of time constraints. I had to stop doing a lot of things I liked so I could focus on school.” He sighs, breaks a twig under his feet and shoves his hands into the pockets of his pants. “Is that something you get used to once you’ve been in high school for a while, or does life remain as colorless and boring as it seems right now?”

“I would kill for boring,” Teru growls, hands shoved deep into his own pockets, for balance. “I don’t do things that are fun when I can help it. It’s a constant struggle for me to convince others that I don’t need or want to do anything fun or extra, I just need to get through the day. There are way too many things that need to be done for me to worry about having fun, and the sooner you let go of the idea that it’s important, the better.”

“What a lovely way to look at things,” Yagami mumbles, rolling his pretty brown eyes and making it obvious that he isn’t taking Teru seriously. Of course he isn’t. This scrawny freshmen might be at four or more years younger than Teru, but in his own head he sure isn’t any less mature. One glance and it’s obvious that Teru is batshit insane, so why the hell should anybody respect him, especially some stupid, punk kid who likely doesn’t respect anybody?

A gust of unexpectedly cold wind goes past them, and Teru wills himself not to shiver. He’s shaking enough as is, and he doesn’t want it to get out of control. He doesn’t want his skin to jump faster than he can keep track of it. He is about to cross the street and try to lose this boy, so he can get back to his house as soon as possible. Though he doesn’t like being around his relatives, at the very least they will leave him alone and not make fun of him. Yagami is smirking ever so slightly, but behind his beautifully plastic face Teru senses a deep, malicious hatred for him. This puts him on edge, makes him want to fight with Yagami Light.

But what Yagami says next is unexpectedly polite. He says in a low, choked voice, “I just ask because I guess I still feel like it is important—I still want to have fun once in a while, and I don’t want to spend every spare moment doing schoolwork. It’s awfully depressing to think that I have to give up everything good in my life just to…well. It happens. It’s part of growing up. I guess it’s good that you’ve accepted it so early. But doesn’t it ever get overwhelming?”

Teru is constantly overwhelmed, to the point where he literally makes himself sick by staying up for endless nights in a row, trying to schedule his existence flawlessly. But when he looks at Yagami with his easy smile and his soft, pale hands that obviously haven’t been subjected to thirty washings every day, he doesn’t think that he will be so overwhelmed as Teru has been. And so, he doesn’t know what to say about the workload, or the balance between what’s fun and what’s necessary. Yagami is not Teru, he will not have the same experiences that he has had.

Chances are his experiences will be much better. This shouldn’t cause tears to sprout from Teru’s eyes like spring plants, but it does. He tells himself it’s just the wind irritating his tear ducts, but that isn’t true and he knows it. With a brief snort and a swipe at his cheek, he tells Yagami that he doesn’t really know how to help him. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles, “I’m a poor excuse for a peer mentor. I should be able to answer any question that you have but I just, I can’t. I wish I could.”

“It’s okay,” Yagami says, his hair whipping violently in a sudden gust of wind. “I don’t expect you to be all-knowing, you’re just a student. Even the teachers probably don’t know everything.”

“The teachers don’t know anything!” spits Teru, suddenly overwhelmed with spitting, spiteful feelings for the authoritarian monsters who populate his school. Because they’ve been certified by the state and placed in the front of the classroom, they’re somehow morally superior to Teru, even though everything they tell him is absolutely, 100% wrong. He is reluctant to trust them about anything now, even about subjects like math. Homework is far more time-consuming than it ought to be because of this—he’s got to verify everything they tell him to make sure that it isn’t a lie.

Yagami’s face hardens just a little after hearing this. “I believe that the teachers know a great deal, Mikami-senpai,” he says, not sounding entirely convinced of this, but willing to argue with Teru anyway. This feels like a punch in the stomach, and Teru isn’t quite sure why. It’s not like he’d had any reason to expect the boy to understand. “I have to go,” Yagami says, and Teru nods mechanically, squeezing his eyes shut and listening to the clunk of his shoes on the cracked, grey pavement.

~`~`~

Not half a minute after turning the corner and leaving his peer mentor behind, Yagami Light crashes into a gangly teenager with bad teeth and a face full of blackheads. The teenager snorts derisively, shoves Light into a lamppost. “What the fuck is your problem?” he whines, digging in his ragged pocket for a cigarette. After lighting it he takes a drag, causing Light to cough violently. This is not to be obnoxious, he really is bothered by the smoke, but the greasy boy doesn’t seem to interpret it this way. “Kid, you got a problem? What are you crashing into me for? And what the fuck is with that fake-as-shit cough? You trying to start something?” The petulant boy scratches his scraggly sideburns, dandruff falling onto the shoulders of his flannel shirt. His lack of school uniform makes Light wonder what the hell he’s been doing all day, and he isn’t sure whether to wrinkle his nose in disdain or feel sorry for him. The fact that he smells like he hasn’t bathed in days makes Light more inclined to wrinkle his nose.

“I’m not trying to start anything,” Light says, straightening his bright red tie and stifling a cough. “I’m just trying to get home.”

“Yeah well, watch where you’re fucking going!” screeches the boy after taking a deep puff from his cigarette. “I don’t know who you think you are, hogging up the goddamn sidewalk like you’re the king of the fucking world, but I’m not gonna let you get away with it!” After that, he aims a shaking fist at Light’s face, and there’s only so many times he can duck before it eventually collides with his cheek. This hurts, more than anything Light has experienced since he broke his wrist when he was nine. He clutches at his cheek, blinks rapidly until he stops almost-crying. He is about to hit back or run, but before he can do either thing, Mikami crashes into Light’s aggressor, knocking him to the ground. Light steps back, flattening himself against the lamppost as best as he can, and tries to control his own breathing.

Mikami knocks the zitty boy’s cigarette to the ground, and stomps the fire out. As he does this he grabs his grubby flannel shirt and snarls at him, “you’d better stop it right this minute. Your behavior is absolutely unacceptable, and I refuse to allow it to continue. Go back to Hell where you belong, you vile, demonic thing, and leave decent people alone.”

The boy is taken aback by Mikami’s harsh words, and though he does stick his chest out, grit his teeth and clench his fists. The undisguised hate smoldering in Mikami’s eyes is enough to stay those fists, however. The heat from his gaze is so intense that for one silly moment Light wonders why Mikami’s glasses don’t melt. But he doesn’t say anything about that, just looks on in confusion, hoping that nothing will go wrong and he’ll be able to leave this scene unscathed. His heart is hammering in his chest with terror, and he’s annoyed with himself for being scared in the first place—he could have beaten that boy if necessary, or he could have gotten away.

“You’re crazy,” the boy snaps, his high-pitched voice wavering in fear. Light grins, pleased that this dirty bully is visibly afraid where he himself is hiding his terror. “I’m outta here. Fuck the both of you!” he shouts, middle finger raised high above his head.

Light unglues himself from the lamp post, and quavers a thank you. Mikami tells him he should think nothing of it. “This is what I do,” he says, voice clotted with unshed tears. Light doesn’t know what he’s so upset about. He just saved Light from potentially getting his face smashed in, and Light is nothing but grateful. Mikami’s teachers might fault him for getting involved in these kinds of skirmishes, but the people he rescues cannot possibly be that ungrateful.

“Thank you so much,” he says, bowing low in gratitude. After righting himself he smiles awkwardly, wondering what he can do to make it up to him. If the filthy aggressive bastard hadn’t backed off when Mikami told him to, this could’ve ended up terribly for him, and he’d stepped in knowing that risk. Chances are he’s been beaten up countless times trying to help people like this. He says, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this”, and then he says, “you could come to my house for dinner, if you want. I’m sure my parents would love to meet my first high school friend.”

“Friend?” asks Mikami, cocking an eyebrow incredulously. After that, he raises the other one, as if to even himself out. Light thinks this is a little strange, but doesn’t say anything. “You think I’m your…well, I can’t do that today. It doesn’t fit into my schedule. But I have a time slot for socializing on Saturday nights—I usually don’t fill it, but I can use it to have dinner with you and your mother. Is that okay?”

“Absolutely,” Light says, wondering why Mikami randomly changed parents to mother, but deciding to let it go. Mikami grins so hard the skin on his lips split, and he has to smother them with chapstick. Despite this, Mikami is still smiling once he’s finished.
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