Jaime sauntered into the Peterson High School math classroom just as the bell rang. Thomas looked up from his seat, relieved that one of his few friends hadn't gotten stopped and given a talking-to by the cranky school watchguard for walking too fast in the hallways or some other small offense that Jaime seemed to always be committing.
Jaime sat down in one of the only empty seats that were left: a desk three across from Thomas and two up from Daniel. He quickly scribbled a note on a piece of notebook paper and flicked it across to Thomas.
Thomas, glancing nervously at the teacher, opened the crumpled note.
Hey, you want to go to that new Italian restaurant that just opened down town? Today is its grand opening, I think.
Tsuna quickly scribbled a note back and flicked it across as well as he could.
Sure! But there's a home baseball game today and I promised Daniel that I would go. And don't you have archery practice? Perhaps for afters?
Jaime waited until the math teacher had turned back around to the chalkboard before throwing the note back in a deft movement.
K then. After the game. If I don't die of boredom first that is. And there's no archery practice today because the coach is out sick or something.
From his seat two desks back from Jaime's, Daniel watched the exchange of notes although he could not know what they were talking about. He couldn't stop thinking about the home game that was going to be right after school. It was against one of their biggest rival schools, Madelin High School, and Madelin was known for having very competitive sports teams.
He was excited to play baseball against Madelin, but he couldn't help feeling that maybe he would be able to get psyched a bit more if he had someone, a specific someone, to play for and who he knew would be supporting him and only him.
'It would be nice if dad could come, but I know he can't,' Daniel thought, completely zoning out. 'What with the new restaurant opening across the street from us, he'll probably have to work double time to keep up the competition. I mean, two foreign food restaurants in the same area?'
A crop of floppy brown hair caught his eye as Thomas frantically bobbed his head up and down to try to write down notes.
'Thomas will be coming to my game so that's nice, and he's alright, but he's just my friend. If I'm playing for someone, that someone should be more than just a friend, right?'
A few meters in front of him, Jaime ran his fingers through his hair and effortlessly answered a question that the teacher had shot at him.
'Jaime will be coming to the game, I bet, because although he doesn't like baseball, he does a lot of things with Thomas. He's my friend too, but he's a bit of a challenge and I can't quite figure him out. He's really quite an interesting character. I don't know why he doesn't like baseball. Maybe I could pretend to be playing for him in order to convince him that baseball is actually really awesome? Yeah, that might be –'
"Daniel McCormack! Daniel! I asked you a question!" said the irritated teacher, throwing a piece of chalk at the absentminded baseball player and pointing at a question he had written on the board. "What's the answer to this question?"
"Uh…," Daniel scratched his head and smiled, absolutely clueless. "Give me a minute…"
Jaime coughed loudly and stretched his shoulders back, throwing his hand behind him as he did so. His hand had three fingers out, Daniel noticed.
"Uh…three?" Daniel said, widening his smile hopefully as he went by Jaime's hint. Jaime tossed his head, and Daniel knew that the black-haired boy must be either smirking in satisfaction or rolling his eyes in exasperation.
The teacher huffed. "That is correct, Daniel. Lucky guess, was it?"
Daniel just laughed and decided to shut down his brain for the rest of class and get some rest before the big game.
As soon as the end of class bell rang, Daniel was out the door, running for the lockers. After meeting up with his teammates, changing, and warming up, he went out onto the field to play. When it was his turn to step up to bat, he tried to calm his pounding heartbeat. The Madelin team was far better than he had thought. The second he stepped up to bat, the girls from the home bleachers let out a united scream that very near well killed his ears but which didn't boost his confidence at all.
He looked at the Madelin pitcher. Having watched his teammates before him strike out multiple times, he knew that this pitcher was scarily good. He quickly looked to the bleachers and tried to find someone special to play for.
The pitcher threw. Daniel swung and the bat grazed the ball but didn't hit it straight on. When he looked to the stand, Thomas, with his hair flopping around more than ever, was frantically waving his arms at him from the front row.
The pitcher threw again. Daniel swung and this time, the bat hit the ball but the ball went off the field to the side as a foul. Cursing under his breath, he looked to the stand again. Jaime was motionlessly sitting next to Thomas, with his head turned to the side as though he thought the baseball field could use some improvements. The black-haired boy opened his mouth in what was almost definitely a sigh.
'What could he possibly be sighing about? It's not his team that's losing or him that's this close to striking out!' thought Daniel.
The pitcher threw for the third time. Daniel swung. And struck out.
As he sadly went back to the player bench and was sympathetically slapped on the back by his teammates, he could have sworn that he saw Jaime laughing.
After losing the game and taking a speedy shower in the locker room, Daniel went up to meet Thomas and Jaime at the school gates. Thomas looked nervous, clutching at his backpack straps, as though he was worried that Daniel would be seriously upset at losing. Jaime was sitting on top of the school's brick wall, straddling a post, and looking up at the sky as though he was trying to stare it down.
"Ah…Daniel! I'm sorry about this game, but maybe next time, huh?" Thomas smiled up at him tentatively.
"Well, it's only one game, after all. It's nothing. We'll beat them next time!"
Jaime jumped down from the wall with a smirk. "Maybe, if you would quit looking over at the bleachers! Seriously, I don't know why you kept looking towards us as though you thought we had the answer to the universe or something."
Daniel playfully shoved Jaime as they started walking to where the restaurants were. "Yeah, well, I was trying to get moral support! Besides, we'll see with you! You have an archery competition against Madelin two days from today, don't you?"
"Yeah, well. At least I'll actually be looking at my target, won't I?" Jaime retorted, tossing his head to get his dark-colored bangs out of his eyes.
As they started passing the shops and restaurants that they weren't going to go to, Daniel expressed his worries about the new restaurant.
"I don't know if you guys know, but there's a new restaurant coming on this street, and it's almost directly across the street from my dad's sushi place. It's not another sushi place or anything, it's an Italian place, but it's still another foreign-food restaurant that's really close to my dad's restaurant and my dad's pretty worried about the new competition."
Jaime had his head cocked to the side, a sign that he was thinking about something seriously. "Oh, is that new place just across your dad's restaurant? I wasn't aware of that." He sniffed and shrugged his shoulders.
When they got to the new Italian restaurant, Thomas stopped and looked confusedly at Jaime when he kept on walking. "Uh… Jaime, isn't this the restaurant that you said that you wanted to go to? It's that Italian restaurant!"
Speaking over his shoulder and trying to ignore the delicious aromas coming from said Italian restaurant, Jaime said, "That restaurant is sure to be shit, Thomas. Good Italian food can't be found without paying up the roof anyways. Come on, I feel up for sushi now."
Daniel immediately brightened. "Really? You mean it? My dad will be really happy to see you!"
The three of them trooped in the McCormack sushi restaurant, Daniel beaming happily at his friends' patronage, Jaime wearing a poker face, and Thomas scratching his head confusedly.