ab uno disce omnes. mika recognized those words all too well. they were written on his grade reports, painted across the bleak, gray walls, and they would be inscribed on the diploma he would receive upon graduating from the one and only ballard polytechnic institute. ab uno disce omnes, from one learn all. the words echoed in the expansive caverns of his mind while he listened to louka speak.
though he could not recall what exactly they were mentioning throughout their idle chatter, mika only faintly recognized a few of the names he spoke of. tapping a ring-clad finger against the strap of his messenger bag, the words tumbled out of his mouth before he could stop them. “sorry, i didn’t hear anything you said.”
rubbing the nape of his neck with that half-flustered, half-humiliated look on his face, he found himself staring into his dark-colored irises. “uh… did you mention bryce?”
he much rather preferred sitting in silence as opposed to talking for this exact reason. things went through one ear and out the other. it was a miracle he even became valedictorian. “do you want to walk home together?” everything mika said had that awkward twinge of ‘middle school chemistry partners not even knowing each other's names' even if it couldn’t be farther than the truth.
mika knew a lot about louka. his past time as a mechanic, the classes he took (and still needed to take), his favorite drink. one could argue that it was creepy, but that argument would lead nowhere; he would just deny it and run away. him? being a creep? no way. over his friend? he didn’t feel like just a friend sometimes.
the fluffed up curls of his dirty blond hair were stubborn in their desire to fall in front of his eyes and obscure louka’s view. but it seemed like fate that they stayed still this time when he half-heartedly pushed them behind his ears. they must have wanted him to see her.
she was all early afternoon blues and a nice, unpleasant scowl. black hair falling straight down her back, blending in with the saturated pigment of her nine inch nails shirt. that band had been defunct for centuries. she looked like she belonged on the cover of spin magazine, when it was still around. she wasn’t mika’s type at all. she scared him. he felt like he would get his teeth knocked out just for staring at her. she was too gloomy, he didn’t need that kind of thing in his life. not now, not ever. and yet,
see, Louka… isn’t the most talkative companion in their bunch. ask any of his lab partners, the eccentric people he shares the college cafe corner with, his roommate of the past four years—Louka isn’t very conservational most days. he much prefers sitting across someone to watch them animatedly talk about their day, their professors, the women they shared a zap! of eye contact with. he’s a good listener, everyone will agree: he goads and leans in as subtle encouragement to keep going, i’m all yours.
it’s good. it’s intimate. and where Louka lacks in verbosity, he compensates with fond attentiveness. so it always makes him twitch with a heavy pang of disappointment when the sentiment isn’t returned; on days when he does talk. like, right now. or the better part of the past five minutes at least, because he has Mikail’s attention now when he’s reluctantly slotting his lips shut again. he’d never voice his displeasure but it wears itself taut on his forehead. and he thinks, he could’ve wheedled out another apology from the boy.
if, his heart interrupts. because Louka barely managed to hold Mikail’s interest for a single exhale. the discontent etches deep on his countenance, feels as permanent as the divots in michelangelo's great stone sculptures.
his eyes hesitate, caught between the webs of long, slick eyelashes that should be pointed towards him, fluttering right by the bridge of his n-. curiosity drives Louka’s gaze in the direction of Mikail’s, and for a second, his brain halts. his confusion shows in the slow curve of his mouth, how he tucks his bottom lip between his teeth and tugs. a girl? “eh… yeah?” he’s seen her around, heard her name in the teacher’s lounge and figured, typical problem child? she definitely looks the part. with her black mystery and palpable shield of inaccessibility.
“gwen franzi…” he speaks the name how he remembers one of the staff miming it, licks his lips afterwards as if he could’ve tasted the hints of their despair and understood where the recipe went wrong. ah but there’s– his brain finally catches up to the humid pause in their conversation and picks apart at the nuances. especially the peculiar intonation of Mikail’s– fuck.
oh, he knows those eyes and he knows the mood they bleed into the boy’s speech (and the awestruck lull in it.)
it’s baseless paranoia that accelerates his arm towards mess of curly amber hair. but he knows better than to label the acceleration in his heartbeat as mere anxiety. he’s known better for months and if he was more of a romantic, he’d admit. he’d admit he’s known for a year. but that’s not what he is: a traditional romantic. otherwise, there wouldn’t be a possessive curl in his fingers, around the familiar nape under them. otherwise, his coaxing would’ve been gentler and his right hand would’ve caressed Mikail’s side where it grabs now.
“dude,” the sparkle in his eyes is farcical, so is the paint that coats his words: “did you see her? she’d top you.” there’s a kick in his chest that patronises him too: didn’t you want to douse the first licks of his desire before they caught fire? he brushes, he sweeps, he pushes and he heaves the thought under a dusty rug.
and then he pulls himself away, skin dancing where it’d been touching Mikail’s before. there are these moments of reprieve he grants himself, daring the precarious boundaries of friendship, but it’s easy to reel his longing back on the safe spool. mainly because he’s known all of Mikail’s past crushes to be fleeting and momentary, never crossing first-sighted adoration. Louka has to remind himself that every time. now is no different: he wets his lips, and drags a deep inhale to soothe his nerves.