Author's Note: One for my alternate universe post at KH Request (on LJ), for thisisthesmile with the prompt: choices, high school AU and Hamlet. I decided to combine them! My god, this was so much fun to write, you don't even know. As an aside: Seifer is absolutely hilarious to write.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts.
"… These tedious old fools," Hayner finishes Hamlet's little rant in the same monotone he uses for all poetry, because really, why should he care? No one applauds him like they do Sora, who reads everything with such misplaced enthusiasm it's a wonder he has energy to even breathe at the end of the day. Hayner closes the book with decided irritation and slumps gracelessly back into his seat.
"That was… nice," Olette tries to compliment him, whispering and leaning back in her chair.
"Whatever," Hayner says flippantly, waving a hand. And that's that.
He really doesn't think about Hamlet, or English class at all, until later in the day when Seifer approaches him outside during lunch hour.
"Step it up in English," he says, with the usual haughty annoyance. "You're making me look bad."
"You volunteered to be Polonius," Hayner points out, not in the mood for Seifer's… well, for his anything. The truth is, Seifer's surprisingly expressive when reading Shakespeare, and he actually does it damn well. Everyone's a bit impressed – but Hayner knows Seifer only does it because he has to be the best at everything. Strangely, it doesn't drive Hayner to try any harder. Seifer doesn't appreciate this, as there's not much point in winning when your opponent's throwing the battle. "I didn't want to be Hamlet. Miss Morley made me. It's not my problem."
"It's my problem." Seifer crosses his arms, but is already walking past Hayner, giving him a well-earned shove with his shoulder. "Which makes it yours. Keep up or shut up."
The next few days, Hayner displays a very apparent apathy towards all things Shakespearean. Maybe that's why Miss Morley, who simply adores it when her students strive to be cherub-cheeked overachievers, picks him to be Ophelia during Thursday's reading. It's a special kind of punishment he knows Pence and Olette will tease him about endlessly.
Hayner, seeing no other alternative, quotes Ophelia's madness with as little conviction as possible, as fast as he can. Miss Morley encourages him to mirror Kate Winslet's actions from the film they watched the week before. Hayner doesn't sing and doesn't mime flowers and doesn't make obscene thrusting gestures, but every single student is laughing anyway. He rushes through the last part (without tears, it ought to be noted), slams his book down on the table, and is silent until the bell rings.
And, of course, Seifer finds him later. The only thing that could make this situation worse is that Seifer was reading Hamlet's lines that day. "Stop BS-ing the whole class. That was one of the best soliloquies in the whole damn play."
What Hayner says is, "Eat me." What he wants to say is, You have never sounded more gay.
Seifer doesn't say anything, just leans against the wall and stares at him levelly, expecting something else. Maybe an apology, maybe a random outburst of Elizabethan monologue. Hayner doesn't know. What he does know is that Seifer won't let it go, so he grits his teeth and says, "Fine. Sorry I didn't sound convincing enough. I love you, Hamlet. God, I just love you so much. So much I could sing songs and pick flowers and go batshit insane. Happy now?"
The words kind of just… came out, so despite the fact that Hayner's a little surprised at himself, it's nothing compared to the look Seifer has on his face. Maybe that wasn't the right way to solve this problem. Maybe he should've just punched Seifer or something. That's the manly way to resolve things, right? Olette always argues against violence, but maybe it's better than… well, anything is really better than what Hayner just said. He really has to rectify that habit of doing before thinking.
"Uh… yeah." And that's all Seifer says, before giving him a very weird, only slightly pissed off look, and walking away. Hayner takes it as a very, very bad sign that he doesn't purposely and violently bump into him when he strides past.
A week passes and they wrap up the Hamlet unit without any more input from Hayner. Not able to stand the strange, suspended air of awkwardness that hangs above him and Seifer in the class (despite the fact that they sit at opposite sides of the room) has Hayner being the one seeking Seifer out for once, on the field Friday afternoon.
"Look," he says, approaching him, but at the same time keeping a suitable distance, "maybe we should just punch it out. I didn't mean to come off as… uh… y'know. So if you hit me, and then I hit you, and we get it over with, let's forget the whole thing ever happened."
What Seifer says is, "Sounds good. Sandlot, six p.m." What he wants to say is, If Fuu were here, she'd tell you, "Euphemism."
That night, they don't say a word before they start beating the crap out of each other. Seifer lands the first hit, though Hayner swings before him. It's not really that bad, more of an agreement than anything. This carries on for a while, and eventually Hayner's hair is screwed up and his nose is bleeding, while Seifer has a black eye and scratches on his cheek, and both of them feel excessively masculine.
The whole point goes moot, however, when Hayner kicks Seifer in the back of the knees and he, rather clumsily, plummets downward. Not before grabbing Hayner by the collar and bringing him along, and then they're both feeling pretty stupid and awkward with Seifer flat on his back and Hayner smushed against him. The fact that they happen to be covered in sweat and breathing heavily doesn't help.
"What is with us!?" Hayner growls, fed up, as he scrambles off of Seifer and scoots back. He wants to bang his head on the ground, but he already hurts from an almost-broken nose and possibly bruised ribs, so he rests his elbows on his knees and digs the heels of his palms into his forehead instead. Even that kind of hurts.
Seifer sits up, dragging a hand over his face, smearing red pinstripes left by Hayner's fingernails. "I really, really hate to admit it, but this isn't working."
"You think?" Hayner chastises, then sighs heavily. "Well, what now? Things are going to be awkward, aren't they?" Obviously, they can't go back to the way things were before. That was the entire point of the Sandlot, and so far the plan is going spectacularly bad.
"I guess we call it what it is," Seifer supplies, and that's it. He gets up, brushes his jacket off, and heads off in the opposite direction, stepping off the platform and entering the shadow of the alley.
"Wait, what?" Hayner doesn't even notice he's leaving until he's almost gone. "Hey, get back here! What is it, then?!" But Seifer doesn't get back there. He doesn't even offer a wave before he rounds the corner, and Hayner's more angry and confused than he remembers being in a long, long time.
His mother fusses when he gets home that night, cleaning up his nose and insisting he see a doctor. But Band-Aids make him feel even less cool and dude-like, if possible, so he brushes her off and heads up to his room with many iterations of "I'm fine mom! JEEZE!"
Hayner pulls out his English homework in an effort to think of anything else but the last couple of weeks, and more specifically the last couple of hours. He's halfway through a novel study worksheet on Pride & Prejudice when he sets his pencil down, looks up in alarm, and can't think of anything else except the one question bouncing around in his head. Much of the weekend is spent in a similar way, and Hayner refuses to leave the house or go anywhere near the Sandlot.
Monday arrives, and English class is first, and Hayner doesn't even wait for lunch break. He pulls Seifer out of the class and into an empty hallway as soon as Miss Morley is done lecturing.
"At this point, I don't think things can get any fucking weirder," he says, though he's burning red and his palms are slightly sweaty, and one's still gripping Seifer's arm much harder than is necessary, "so I'm just gonna ask. Friday, Sandlot, six p.m. Was that a date?"
Seifer, annoyed, shakes off Hayner's hand, but grins a bit anyway, straightening his jacket. "Sure. Y'know, you catch on quick."
Hayner really hates Seifer-brand sarcasm, but ignores it for the time being, and only asks the same question he did Friday. "So, what now?"
He shrugs. "We go back to English." Seifer turns, hands in his pockets, and says in a familiar tone, "But step it up next time. I mean, the Sandlot? Lame first date."
By now, Hayner can't tell if he's being sarcastic – and he really can't tell if he hates it.