Lunch Invitation

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You were met with three astonished expressions Monday afternoon when Minoru gracefully led you to her preferred lunch table and motioned for you to sit next to her, across from Oshiro, Kimiko, and Hinata.

"Please introduce yourselves to Aina. She will be joining us starting today."

"What the hell, Minoru?!" Oshiro hissed, gripping her fork like it was a weapon. And, in her hands, it probably was. You were sweating in your seat, getting ready to dodge any sharp utensils that came your way.

"Language!" Minoru tut-tutted before motioning to the enraged girl as if this was perfectly normal. The sky is blue, water is wet, and, oh yeah, Oshiro is angry. "Aina, this is Oshiro."

"No, seriously, what the hell? Two days ago you couldn't stand this kid. Now you're inviting her to sit with us?"

Minoru turned her nose up at Oshiro, making it clear she would not be gracing her with an answer. Trying to deescalate the situation, you blurted out, "Hi, Oshi-"

"Don't speak to me. We can talk if you make it through the end of the week."

Was that a threat or a promise? You didn't have time to ask. Oshiro picked up her lunch and made her way over to a table of rowdy boys. She muscled one of them out of the way before taking his seat for herself.

The rest of the table seemed to love this display of dominance, crowing insults down at the boy on the ground until he got up and shoved another boy off his chair. This joking fight continued for the rest of the lunch period.

However, Oshiro never let any of them knock her off her throne.

Meanwhile, there was silence at your table. You felt kind of bad. You wanted an invite to this table so badly that you'd never stopped to think that befriending Minoru might threaten her other friends.

You bit your lip thoughtfully. You really had your work cut out for you. Especially with Oshiro.

Luckily, it didn't take long for Kimiko to lessen the mood. "Don't mind Oshiro. She's just mad Mommy has a new baby. I'm Kimiko, but you know that," she said while repeatedly stabbing her salad with a fork.

More like a new pet. You couldn't quite shake the feeling that Minoru saw you as less than an equal and more of a side project... A pretty little animal she was trying to domesticate. Anything was better than being seen as an annoyance, though.

"Hinata," Hinata whispered. Her voice was so soft you could barely hear her over the rabble of the cafeteria. She didn't say anything else, just went back to reading her book at the table.

"Hey, Aina, do you want a cola?" Kimiko asked with mirth twinkling in her eyes and an enormous smile on her face. "The vending machine gave me two by accident. I opened it but haven't drunk from it yet."

"Uh, sure. Thanks!" You didn't have enough money to grab a juice from the vending machine and it would be a shame to disappoint Kimiko by refusing her gift of goodwill.

One swig from the bottle had you instantly regretting your decision, though. Salt! You somehow managed to put the bottle down without spilling any in your panic. Then, still holding the beverage in your mouth, you quickly looked around for somewhere to spit.

Finding nowhere, you ended up swallowing the briny liquid.

"How's that carbonated soy sauce treating you?"

You'd been punked.

"Kimiko! Don't pick on her," Minoru scolded, pulling the pocket square out from her school blazer to wipe your face. Once Kimiko's laughter died down, she stuck her tongue out at the both of you and turned back to her food.

Feeling immature, you mirrored her gesture before digging into your own lunch.

"Aina, what on Earth are you eating?" Minoru demanded in that inquisitive tone parents use when they know exactly what you're doing, they just want you to stop.

"Ummm... Pocky?" You said with a biscuit stick hanging out of your mouth. "Why, you want some?" The look of distaste scrunching up her face guaranteed she certainly did not.

"No thank you. Where is your lunch?"

"This is it."

You performed a sweeping gesture over your vending machine feast. Both you and your mom were too lazy to get up early and make your lunch for the day. Instead, your mom gave you just enough food money to get all your favorite snacks.

The assorted bags of biscuits, chips, crackers, and candies gleamed up at you promisingly. Nevertheless, she did not look impressed at your haul.

"A lot of snacks do not make a lunch," Minoru said sternly before picking up a piece of teriyaki chicken with her chopsticks and holding it out to you. "Here. Try this."

You thought about declining, but you had never been one to deny a taste of someone else's dish. So you opened your mouth and let her feed you the offered morsel.

"It's good!" You said once you had finished chewing and swallowing. The kindness of the gesture made you happier than anything else.

"I'm happy to hear that. I made it myself. Would you like some more?"

"No thanks!"

"Please do that again!" Kimiko begged, her face split in two with a Cheshire cat grin. You didn't notice her take out her phone, but now she was holding it up in front of her face, camera at the ready. "I didn't get a picture of it the first time."

Your entire face went bright red at the realization you just let Minoru feed you like a child. You must have some sort of muscle memory of it after last weekend. Hinata was flushed as well, likely experiencing some secondhand embarrassment on your part.

In order to preserve what little dignity you had left, you stuffed your face with an entire handful of chips and proceeded to chew like mad. It must have looked pretty hilarious, because Kimiko snapped a picture anyway, snickering to herself.

"I'll pack an extra lunch for you from now on," Minoru declared as she dabbed the corners of her mouth with a napkin.

"Oh, no, that isn't nec-"

"I insist."

You shut your mouth at the sharpness of her tone. It was too early in your friendship for you to risk irritating her. Hell, you didn't even know if this lunch invitation was a one-time thing or not, given Oshiro's reaction.

Still, you at least had your foot in the door now and could use that to your advantage. One question remained... Which of the girls were you going to befriend next?

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