It was the next day.
On Tuesdays, the class was much smaller than usual, since it was the day that only those that hadn’t finished high school before joining the defenders had to attend. The class consisted of only three students: Debbie Jones, Sophia Smith and Toby Williams.
English class was over, and the students had their lunch break.
As promised, Randall was waiting in the break room to meet up with Toby. He was sitting on one of the couches, legs crossed, typing something on his phone. As he wasn’t on duty today, he was in his casual wear, wearing a graphic tee and a leather jacket with distressed, grey jeans. In front of him was the toaster he always carried around. By now, everyone knew that this was the hiding place of Kracheen. Still, it was an odd sight.
“Come, Memis…” Toby approached Randall after spotting him in the break room and sat down on the couch next to him. “Thanks for coming, Randall…”
“Mhm.” Randall packed his phone away and crossed his arms. “No biggie. Now.” He now rested both feet on the floor and leaned forward. “Tell me about your issue.”
Toby gulped. “Sure…” He folded his hands and looked to the ground. “Y-You see… I… I like someone… but I don’t know if they like me too… Or if they could even be interested in me in the first place.”
“Mh… Is it Sophia?”
“Is it… me?”
“No!!” Toby puffed up his cheeks. “Why would I ask you if it was about you in the first place?!”
Randall chuckled. “People have tried weirder things to impress me.” He now leant back into the couch. “I’m just joking. You’re talking about the blond nerd, right?”
“... h-how do you--”
“The way you kept staring at him yesterday was anything but subtle.”
“...” Toby ran his fingers through his hair and started twirling a strand around his finger. “Is that so?”
Randall nodded. “At least to me it was obvious. Is it your first time crushing on a boy?”
“... Not really… I’ve had crushes before. But it’s different this time.” Toby sighed. “I feel like I have a strong connection with him.”
“But- He’s my best friend … and I don’t want to ruin our friendship by making things awkward for him…”
“Hm. Yeah. It’s hard if you don’t know if he’s into guys or not.” Randall turned his head to him. “This connection you feel… You think it’s mutual?”
“Mutual…?” Toby furrowed his brow.
“I mean, how close are you two?”
“... Pretty close… S-Something happened recently… Something bad. And he wanted me to stay by his side. I think that means he trusts me.” Toby grabbed his own arms tight. “I- I don’t want to break the trust he put in me.”
“From what I can tell your friendship is strong enough to survive this. You should just tell him. If he doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, you two can get over it. You won’t be happy if you never talk to him about it. Even if you get over him… you will never know what could’ve been.”
Toby stared before him, silently.
What could have been?
Yes. If he never tries, he will never know. He will never know how Roy truly feels. He will never know how strong their bond truly is.
Roy had already accepted him for who he really was. Even if things got awkward for a while… Maybe it was worth the risk.
Toby raised his head again and faced Randall. “You’re right. I should- I should just tell him.”
“That’s what I’m saying.” Randall picked up his bag next to him.
“.... Randall- I have a personal question…” Toby eyeballed the bag. It was covered in various buttons and pins. One of them had previously caught his attention. It was a flag pin with a magenta, a purple and a blue stripe. “I was wondering… H-How do you have the confidence to wear your sexuality out in the open for everyone to see?”
“You mean the pin?” Randall chuckled. “It’s nothing. I’ve carried around this flag in its big version around my shoulders once, one day when we had a gig at a local party.”
“Y’know,” Randall put his head back, looking up at nothing. “I’ve met a lot of people in my life. And what I’ve learned is… Within two seconds of meeting someone, people have already formed an opinion of you. In this short window of time, they decide if they hate you or not.” Randall pondered for a second, then laid his hands on his neck. “I never picked fights. I was never a loud personality. Yet, my classmates always decided to exclude me, to hate me, because they didn’t think I fit in with them. They insulted me, pushed me, called me awful slurs...”
“...” Toby rested his hands on his knees. “That sounds awful…”
“It was. At one point things escalated…” Randalls hand moved to his face, and his fingers brushed away his bangs, revealing a scar on his forehead. “Now, how do you think I got this?”
Toby’s mouth was agape, but he didn’t say anything.
“It’s funny,” Randall let his bangs down again and sat up. “I didn’t even dress the way I do now when those boys did this to me.” He smiled, but it wasn’t a happy smile. “The thing is… Many people will judge you regardless of what you ever did, or what you look like. And I have decided that if people decide to hate me, they should at least hate me for who I truly am.”
“I don’t hate you, Randall…”
“You’re not one of the bad guys, Toby.”
“The right people will always give you a chance to redeem their first impression of you, y’know. I generally believe in the good in people.”
“Mh…” Randall shouldered his bag, grabbed the toaster and stood up. “It’s hard to see the good in people when you’ve been damaged by the majority of those you’ve encountered.”
“Randall-” Toby got up as well.
“You should go and ask out the blond nerd. See you tomorrow.”
“... S-See you tomorrow…”
Randall left, and Toby looked after him.
Apparently, Randall didn’t feel the need to talk about his pessimistic worldview. But who was Toby to tell him how to think?
What mattered was the advice that he gave him.
He would need to build up all the courage he had to ask out Roy. But hopefully, it wouldn’t go too bad.
He just hoped for the best.