Pairing: Naegi x Ikusaba.
Word count: 1256 words.
Summary: A short fluffy pre-despair oneshot I wrote while dealing with writer’s block.
Though it was brief, Naegi was thankful for his return trip home. It had been easy to forget what his average, every day life had been like after he started to attend Hope’s Peak Academy, and while he enjoyed his school life with his friends home held a sort of comfort that only his family and the familiar sights could bring. He had returned to the house to find his parents waiting, their eyes warm and welcoming, and his sister excited to question him about what life was like inside a famous school.
Now Naegi was wandering through the cool evening air, having promised his mother he would be home before nightfall. He had to go back to Hope’s Peak Academy the next day, back to the strange life that had quickly overtaken his ordinary one, and he wanted to explore his old home one last time.
A small park was about a five minute walk away from his home, and he caught sight of it during his aimless wander through familiar streets. Though it only had two swingsets and a slide, it was a park Naegi had fond memories of—he played there often as a kid.
It was empty, Naegi couldn’t help but note, opening the gate and his feet meeting grass as he stepped inside. He supposed it was was a little late for any kids to be playing. He looked around thoughtfully: it didn’t seem like anyone had been taking care of the park. The paint on the slide was chipped and stratched, and a moderate amount of rust had formed on the swingsets, the ropes holding up the seats worn and one swing left at a lopsided angle. Still, Naegi felt happy when he saw this place, and it was with a growing smile that he headed for the swing with the least amount of rust.
The swing groaned under his weight, and Naegi shifted a little uncomfortably in the slightly too small seat. It moved a lot more stiffly than he remembered, squeaking with every forward and back motion, but in only a few moments Naegi was at a good height. Wind rushing through his hair, Naegi stared up at the orange tinted sky then down at the unkept grass. When at his highest he could see distant buildings, light spilling out from far off windows that could have been mistaken for stars.
A voice came from behind him, familiar and alarmed. Naegi blinked, hands loosening their grip on the ropes and, already swinging back, very nearly loosing his balance and falling off completely. He dug his heels into the ground to slow himself down, one shoe slipping off his foot and landing in front of him upside down.
Naegi turned his head, eyes wide. “Ikusaba-san?”
The girl standing behind the park’s fence, staring at him with an almost confused expression, was Mukuro Ikusaba, the SHSL Soldier and Naegi’s classmate, still dressed in her school uniform. Despite her name and typically cool exterior she had often helped Naegi when he was in trouble, and Naegi had never once doubted that she was a truly kind person.
“I didn’t know you were here.” Naegi smiled, standing up and turning to face her properly, one hand still on the swing’s rope. “Do you live near here as well?”
“Oh, no.” Ikusaba sounded a little awkward. “Ju— Ah, my sister asked me to retrieve something so I came here. I’m meeting up with her later.” Her gaze was curious now. She climbed over the waist high fence and walked towards Naegi. “Does your family live here, Naegi?”
Their conversation fell into comfortable chatter, at some point moving to sit side by side on the swing set. Naegi talked about his family, what they were like, how they supported him, and Ikusaba listened intently. It was only when he offered to take her to meet them, wanting to introduce some of his new friends, that Ikusaba’s expression dulled. She shook her head, simply murmuring that she didn’t think she had the time.
Almost absentmindedly, Naegi started swinging again, the movement a lot more gentle than before. He noticed Ikusaba staring again and quickly stopped.
“Sorry,” he said, smiling sheepishly. “I guess this kind of thing’s a little childish now.”
“I didn't—” Ikusaba looked down, as if embarassed. “No, sorry, it’s nothing.”
Ikusaba was silent for a moment. “Is… is that fun?” she finally asked, keeping her head down.
“Fun?” Naegi echoed. “Oh! Do you mean the swing?”
“Um, well, yeah. At least, I think they’re fun.” Naegi looked at her. “Have you never been on a swing before, Ikusaba-san?”
“No. But… they look fun.” She reached out to grip the ropes, and Naegi could see the wolf tattoo on her hand. “That must sound silly, coming from me,” Ikusaba said, meeting Naegi’s gaze. “After all, I am a soldier.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Naegi said, and he smiled at her. “It shouldn’t matter if you’re a soldier. You can still enjoy this sort of thing.” He started swinging again as if in demonstration. “Why don’t you try it now? Just for a little bit.”
Ikusaba frowned. “I shouldn’t,” she said, her tone almost sad. Naegi slowed to a stop again.
She looked upset; Naegi panicked slightly. He had been trying to cheer her up, and yet somehow he had done the exact opposite.
Almost desperate to lighten the mood again, an idea came to Naegi. He stood, walking behind the swing set, and then tentatively pushed Ikusaba’s back. She went forward only a little bit, but it was still enough for her to whip her head back and fix Naegi with a bewildered stare.
“Um.” Naegi laughed, suddenly feeling very awkward. “I can, um, I can push you, if you want. I mean, this way you’re not doing it yourself, so it’s not like your the one doing anything childish, so, um…” He flinched at his own words, wondering just how red his face had become. Somehow, this idea had sounded a lot better in his head.
The silence dragged on just long enough for Naegi to wonder if he had only upset her further. Then Ikusaba smiled.
“Yes,” she said, nodding. “I would like that. Thank you.”
He pushed her forward again, helping her go higher and higher each time she swung back. Even as his arms grew tired he couldn’t stop himself from smiling. He could see Ikusaba was enjoying herself, wind brushing through her hair, her eyes practically shining whenever she looked back to glance at him. There were a few occasions where Naegi could have sworn he heard her laughing quietly as she stared up at the red coloured sky.
Eventually the evening light grew too dim and the two of them had to stop, both remembering their respective families. Naegi looked at her apologetically, but Ikusaba was still smiling.
“Thank you,” she said, sounding truly grateful. “I… I had fun.”
“Me too.” Naegi beamed. “You know, we should do this again some time.”
Ikusaba’s expression faltered slightly. “Yes, maybe,” she said. Though she was still smiling, something had dimmed. “I’ll see you at school, Naegi-kun.”
They parted ways, walking in opposite directions, and Naegi was left to his confused thoughts. He thought he had managed to make Ikusaba happy, at least a little bit. Had he said something wrong?
Feeling a growing sense of concern, Naegi hurried the rest of the way home, the last of the day’s light slowly turning to darkness.