Making up his mind, he made his way across the room and, out of nowhere, bumped into someone by accident.
“Ah, I’m so sorry!” Hinata quickly apologized.
“Oh, it’s alright, I usually forget to keep my eyes up while walking…uhm, I believe we haven’t met before.”
Hinata’s eyes widened as he set his eyes upon the girl before him. She was beautiful and dressed in a lovely peachy dress that matched her hair, her waist tied in an elegant black bow. He must have not caught sight of her in previous gatherings before.
Hinata blushed at his late response and stammered, “I-I believe so too. My name is Hinata Hajime, and you must be…”
Chiaki… she seemed cute.
Looking back at Komaeda and then to Nanami, he decided it was best to spend a bit of his time with someone other than Komaeda. Maybe if he did, he would prove to himself that his infatuation with Komaeda was, simply as the word implied, just an infatuation and nothing more. Besides, he should mingle more with the rest of the elites.
Sharing drinks and even small talk with Nanami, he learned that her talent was her ability to invent all sorts of wild ideas for games. An elite in the entertainment business, a game inventor.
When he mentioned that he’d played some of the games she invented, she smiled all shy and happy, and somehow her personality made him feel comfortable enough to confide his concerns to, admittedly mentioning he was talentless, only an elite wannabe.
Expecting some sort of criticism afterwards, he was shocked when it never came. Instead, she quietly expressed that what mattered the most was being one’s self. That he didn’t need a talent. Her words consoled him and made him smile, somewhat relieved to hear her say that.
Soft music played and many of the elites were heading to the center of the ball for a dance. Gathering courage, Hinata got up to ask her for a dance and she shyly accepted.
Out of all the girls in the room, Hinata found Nanami to be the most charming and actually enjoyed her company to the extent that he wouldn’t mind spending the rest of the night with her. She was delightful and sweet, he thought, but somehow thinking of her in that way nudged him with a bit of a twinge in his heart. Namely, he presumed, because his mind was trying to find excuses.
Nanami and Hinata spent their time sometime later playing different forms of games, from using matchsticks to table napkins, but Hinata practically failed all of them. Nonetheless, they shared smiles and laughs, thinking to himself, and here he thought all the elite girls were too much for him but Nanami was not all that bad. He found that he can actually get along with her quite smoothly. If his mother were here, she’d definitely be cheering for him.
He sighed at the very thought and Nanami turned her head to him, “Do you find this game to be boring, Hinata-kun? We can play something else.”
“Haha, not at all. I’m actually feeling confident that I might have a chance at winning this thing.”
Sitting so close on the table, with their shoulders touching almost intimately, Hinata couldn’t help but blush innocently especially when Nanami had leaned forward towards him showing just a bit of her chest. Hinata gulped and looked away quickly, trying hard not to be rude to her. However, he just couldn’t help but look. Especially when she laughed, and her soft shy blush would accent her so well. When she smiled, her soft and glossy lips would look so enticing and her warm eyes would glow and look so very welcoming. Everything she did just made him feel so nervous inside.
Thinking about Nanami and spending time with her, it made more sense that he should overlook his apparent ‘fancy’ towards a certain white-haired boy. Especially because it was inappropriate and unacceptable to have that sort of fascination towards another man to begin with. Besides, being with Nanami proved not to be bad either. If he could get closer to her, he might even fall in love. Maybe.
He paused and thought it over some more. This is probably for the best, for his own sake as well as for Komaeda’s.
Hinata calmly took the night to stride. However, he did catch himself checking Komaeda out of the corner of his eyes. Whenever he could get away with it, he would turn his head and watch him for probably the hundredth time that night.
Feeling hungry, the two head over the various colorful delicacies presented beautifully on tables by the walls. Hinata turned around just in time to see Nanami trip over herself when she had accidentally stepped on her dress. As she was about to fall, Hinata approached quickly and with one swift motion, caught her before she made contact to the ground. Nanami held onto him and blushed while Hinata’s cheeks mirrored the same bright red.
“I’m sorry.” She shyly apologized.
“Don’t mention it.” He said quickly as he bashfully pulled his arms back from her waist.
A quick sense of deja vu hit Hinata, as he remembered the same particular incident with Komaeda. He willed the memories away as he joined Nanami to the table.
Across the room, keen pale-green eyes watched the whole ordeal, staring straight into the scene as he watched in wonder, thinking, if perhaps Hinata has found a more fitting companion to associate with. If Hinata were to get closer to Nanami, it would undoubtedly bring about a more hopeful outcome than if he were to stay with him and lay his time in waste with someone so mundane, he thought.
Komaeda watched as Hinata conversed with her and how they looked to be having fun. Just when Komaeda was about to leave the room, he noticed another elite close to him who didn’t seem to have company. She kept to herself and looked incredibly nervous.
Komaeda was about to ignore her as well and proceed outside, but he was stopped from taking the first step out when the elite who had been nervously fidgeting at the corner earlier approached him.
“I’m, I’m sorry if I bothered you but…uhm…, is it alright i-if I stand here with you?” Mikan had said with a stammer.
Komaeda guessed that she probably found him to be the least intimidating out of the bunch. Nonetheless, he flashed out his welcoming smile, “Not at all. If you don’t mind spending your valuable time with trash like me, nothing could make me happier to stand along a beautiful and hopeful elite such as yourself.”
Mikan’s face showered with shades of red and happy tears at the words.
It was when he noticed how Nanami seemed to have dozed off several times while playing that got Hinata to smile warmly at her before pulling his gaze from her to where Komaeda was again, out of simple curiosity of course, and his eyes widened when he saw how Mikan approached Komaeda nervously.
Hinata didn’t know why his heart skipped a beat, his surprise and fear suddenly overwhelming him. But why though? There was nothing wrong with Komaeda spending time with other elites. He was doing the same with Nanami. Shouldn’t he feel at ease that someone else was willing to spend time with Komaeda instead of being alone? But still he couldn’t help but wonder out of curiosity.
What were they talking about?
Hinata become gradually perturbed and unsettled, agitated even, as he found himself keeping eye on their every move.
‘Calm down, Hajime. You’re with Chiaki, remember? Just… ignore those two!’ he mentally scolded himself.
He tried his best to ignore them but seeing the two together, he suddenly felt downcast, like for some unexplainable reason he felt like Komaeda could easily slip away from him. He hasn’t thought about his leaving though, nor was he prepared for it. He felt an even stranger emotion wrap around his heart when he watched Komaeda offering his hand to Mikan for a dance.
Holding her close, they danced as Mikan smiled shyly at Komaeda and when he smiled back with exactly the same smile he usually gave Hinata, it bothered him to a great degree. Hinata shook his head hard, trying to dismiss the riled up emotions swirling, burning, inside his chest.
Burning stronger with every passing moment.
The more he watched, the more he drank, glass after the other, feeling the burn down to that strange ache in his chest.
It was incomprehensible! Seeing Komaeda dance with someone else disturbed him, to say the least. He didn’t like the feeling he got seeing them together. It was just so foolishly selfish of him. He disdainfully knew that yet he couldn’t help how he was feeling.
Hinata placed his hand on his chest, eyes perplexed in thought at putting a definition to what it was. Watching them, he gasped softly at the realization, eyes widening in considerate proportions.
T-This… This disturbing feeling was…
It was… jealousy.
Jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy!
Hinata snapped himself out of his thoughts with a slap on both cheeks, snatching his eyes away from the dancing couple. Angrily, he questioned himself; Why was he feeling jealous in the first place? He had no right. Besides, there was no prospect that he could actually hope to have him, or ever dream to. His desires were foolish enough to consider the possibility that he could have Komaeda in the first place! Yes, they shared few kisses but there could be nothing more. He shouldn’t dream of anything more because he could not have that sort of relationship with him. He wasn’t allowed to! It was unheard of, scornful even!
Hinata honestly tried to turn a blind eye to his feelings yet his eyes kept averting back to them.
Another glass, more burn.
As he watched the two dance, for a brief moment, his mind flashed an image of him dancing with Komaeda; his pale green eyes locked with his own with no one else surrounding them. Just them in the room, swaying to the music. Foreheads lean toward each other, crossing the dance floor in smooth steps and circular motions. Dipping him down, pulling him back up then holding him close. And ever so slowly, their lips close the distance for a-
Wrong, wrong, wrong! No… stop.
A girl. It should be a girl. Her hair swaying as he twirled her around, her dress fluttering with the motion. Then, he would pull her in his arms and give her a chaste kiss on the lips like in many romantic classics he read growing up. But when Hinata opened his eyes to that girl, he only saw sharp eyes, black suit, Adam apple dancing with the laughter of a boy that was so beautiful, it made his heart skip a beat. His lovely voice echoing in his mind, saying his name in affection and warmth through an adoring smile, “Hinata-kun.”
Putting his glass down, Hinata inhaled a shaky breath and thickly swallowed the emotions bottling up in his throat.
Being with Nanami and avoiding Komaeda really proved to him one solid and undeniable truth.
Pulling up a shaky hand to cover his flustered face, he gritted his teeth in shame and contempt as he peered through the spaces of his fingers at Komaeda.
I tried, I really tried. I’m sorry mother, father. I-I… I really do have feelings for him. I might have… f-fallen… in love with him!
Upon waking up from her brief slumber, Nanami opened her sleepy eyes up and saw Hinata fixated on something with a strange expression on his face, so she called out in concern “Hinata-kun?”
Hinata gasped softly and looked over Nanami, his face pale and eyes trembling.
“Are you okay?” she said, tilting her head with worry evident in her eyes.
Hinata’s lips form a thin line, quivering slightly. With hesitance, he whispered, “I… don’t know.”
Mikan kept apologizing as she repeatedly stepped on Komaeda’s foot more than they could count but Komaeda did nothing but laugh warmly.
Leaning on her forehead, he said in his most charming voice, of how he didn’t mind being a stepping stone for her. Her cheeks flushed as she held onto him more firmly. He pressed his hand on her lower back and pulled her closer as he glided her around the room. Her hair swirled, covering the blush burning on her cheeks as she gazed upon his warm smile. She smiled back as she moved her hand that was resting on his shoulder to move closer to cup the nook of his neck and pulled his face slightly closer, their lips barely apart.
As the music ended, Komaeda and Mikan pulled away from each other and retrieved back to their place. Suddenly, Mikan tripped, grabbing onto Komaeda, bumping and causing them to be pushed against the wall.
Wincing softly from the throb, Komaeda held onto her arms and asked in concern, “Are you okay?”
Mikan jerked her teary eyes up and apologized profusely. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!”
Komaeda quickly smiled, “As long as you’re okay, there is nothing to worry about.”
Mikan smiled shyly but when she stepped back, noticing the patchwork of her dress had entangled around Komaeda’s suit button, she gasped in dread.
“W-w-w-w-what s-should I d-do? My mother would s-scold me i-if I ruined this d-dress!”
As she panicked, Komaeda tried to give her a helping hand but his body suddenly trembled when Mikan accidentally grinded against him. She tried to free her dress without ruining it, all through her heavy sobbing and hysteria which made the task difficult.
Mikan pressed herself against Komaeda’s chest because pulling back any further will tear the fabric. Her wobbling and trembling causing further grinding against a very sensitive part of him.
“Tsumiki-san, if y-you may please stop… moving?”
She wept and apologized some more, pressing harder , causing Komaeda to throw his head back against the wall, giving light gasps.
Across the room, Hinata’s eyes were round as plates at the scene before him and jealousy burned at his heart hotter than iron on fire. He gripped on his fists, his heart trembling with dread at the sight.
Komaeda distracted her when he placed his hands on her cheeks to stop her from panicking. She broke through her hysteria and, just like that, Komaeda loosened the dress from his button. However, Mikan continued crying, and Komaeda comforted her by placing his fingers on her cheek, wiping the soft tears away. His kind words and genuine smile made her smile through her tears.
Leaning towards his touch, Mikan’s voice dipped to a seductive tone, “As a reward for your kindness, maybe there is something I can do for you to return the favor.”
Offering herself and nudging her breasts against Komaeda’s chest, she said, “I can do anything you ask for since you were so nice to me.”
She moved her fingers to dance in a suggestive manner on Komaeda’s chest, while the other ran down his arm, entangling her fingers with his, insinuating what she meant.
Komaeda blinked, and he thinks he might have blushed as well at the notion. He felt so honored and moved that an elite would bequeath garbage like him with such an offer. However, he simply closed his eyes and smiled brightly at her, respectfully pulling her back. “There is no need. You’ve already paid me with your delightful company.”
Mikan blinked before her eyes got teary again. Wiping her tears away, she whispered a thank you before planting a soft chaste kiss on his cheek to show her appreciation.
The moment where her lips lingered, Komaeda stared in shock, mouth open and eyes wide.
Across the room, eyes trembled.
“…Hinata-kun?” Nanami tilted her head in confusion at the facial expression Hinata was giving. Her confusion rose when she followed his line of focus at the couple across the room, adding more question marks.
“Nanami-san, it was nice meeting you but… I have to go now.” Hinata’s voice was curt and calm. She nodded hesitantly. Hinata lifted his eyes toward her and gave a courteous smile before it quickly disappeared as he turned and headed for the couple across the room.
He charged in and pulled the two apart, not caring about who was watching. Mikan cowered in fear as Hinata pulled Komaeda away and stomped out of the hall, earning few gasps and stares.
When Hinata pulled him outside, Komaeda could do nothing but feel confused. He asked if there was anything Hinata wanted to tell him.
But Hinata was quiet. He even started wondering to himself as to why he did what he just did. Then, Hinata let go of his hand and apologized.
He felt so angry and jealous but it was wrong to take it out on Komaeda. He wanted to tell him how much it bothered him to see him with that girl, how jealous it made him feel, but he couldn’t. It wasn’t his place. He didn’t have any right.
Hinata must have drunk too many that his emotions were all over the place.
“It’s… nothing. I’m sorry for dragging you out here. If you want to go back inside… it’s fine.”
Hinata didn’t know if Komaeda noticed his subtly trembling shoulders, gripping his fists because he couldn’t act upon his feelings.
Komaeda took one step toward Hinata and Hinata lifted his dejected gaze to meet his.
Komaeda tilted his head with what seemed like an affectionate look with a slight blush on his pale cheeks. A smile and eyes so warm that Hinata’s heart skipped a beat. Komaeda took one step closer and swiped his finger on Hinata’s lower lip, causing Hinata’s eyes to lock with his in shock. Komaeda slightly tilted his head in thought, slit eyes conveying wonder, but his lips pursed like he was undeserving.
As Komaeda turned away, Hinata felt his heart panging so strongly, his throat becoming stiff, his mind screaming to hold onto his wrist and pull him back for a kiss.
But he just stood there, watching his figure walk away.