Chapter 11:

Shizu's Confession

Paradise on Earth


“Come in Sato!” Sachio exclaims emphatically as she motions to enter her home. It’s Sunday, and I just arrived at Sachio’s place for us to binge Yaoi on Fire. Apparently, Sachio was so excited to see me that when she opened the door, she bounced in unison with her “Good afternoon!” along with her chest, me showing up was that momentous.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been to the Sachio household, as previously mentioned, I visited at the beginning of spring break. What we did then was very similar to now, except this time Sachio is “taking my BL virginity” as Nori joked. Though last time I ended up sleeping in Sachio’s bed because her room was too much of a mess to sleep on the floor.

The BL virginity is probably why Sachio is excited more than anything.

It’s not like I haven’t seen a BL ever, I just haven’t finished one.

The memories of my previous visit start to drip-feed into the front of my mind as I walk through Sachio’s living room and kitchen to reach the stairs, where the second floor lies at the top. Sachio’s house, despite only being 13 minutes away by foot (near Nori’s house believe it or not), is laid out very differently from mine. It decides to place the living room and kitchen basically in front of the entryway, with stairs at the back of the room leading up. Whereas in my house the stairs are in front of the entryway and the living room is separated from the dining and kitchen areas. My little sister spends most of her time in the living room much to my dismay.

Speaking of my home, after I returned yesterday following Kaiyo pedaling away on her bike, things were pretty uneventful. I ate ramen for dinner again and played Destiny/ReturnDusk until I went to bed at 1am. A few hours before I got up, I received a text from Nori that informed me of her plan to divulge our findings from yesterday at lunch tomorrow. Daitan might be put off by that, but she’s a big girl.

Well, she’s a small girl, my point still stands.

I also got an apology from Kaiyo around 1pm or so. She felt bad after her outburst yesterday and said it wasn’t okay to say things like that. It took her forever to type all this out because apparently her mom was being toxic and talking crap about their neighbors. Ms. Kawamura (Kaiyo has her dad’s last name) is the kind of person who is never satisfied and always compares herself to others. I figured her out in the fourth grade when I heard her whine about how rich her ex-husband’s family is in a long line of complaining about how good her ex-husband had it growing up. I realize I sound a bit mean, but I don’t really like Kaiyo’s mom to be honest. It’s hard to say if Jin Kaiyo even likes her sometimes.

In her penultimate message, Kaiyo relayed to me that I could ask her for advice if I needed help with that girl. I didn’t really know how to respond since there wasn’t a girl necessarily, but I thanked her regardless. She sent me a sticker of a grinning monkey with his fist pressed against his chest in return. I thought that was as good enough of a signal to end the conversation as any. I continued to play VN’s until I left for Sachio’s before 4pm.

By the time we both enter Sachio’s room, she and I were already in some dumb conversation about anime.

“You agree with me though, right?” I ask, expecting to hear words of affirmation.

“Not necessarily,” Sachio responds, baffling me.

“What do you mean? What’s the point of having the main character of One-Kick Woman be bald if she’s also not attractive?”

“There’s plenty of points Sato.”

“Sachio, she looks like a regular at a chemotherapy clinic.”

Currently we’re arguing in Sachio’s room that’s right in front of the top of the stairs. Even though her room would be reasonably sized for a normal person, for a hardcore otaku like Sachio, any space is not enough. Magazines, manga, light novels, physical copies of anime (Japanese or imported), and other assorted merchandise litter Sachio’s walls head to toe. In complete juxtaposition to Hayami’s room—or mine for that matter—Sachio’s room is what an otakus should be. Where there aren’t shelves, there’s posters and wall scrolls, official or not. She even has posters on the ceiling, which I find impressive given Sachio’s small stature, being the shortest friend I have outside of Daitan.

From my understanding, she would have body pillows too, but her mom opened her mail on accident one day and found a not so kosher pillow cover inside. It didn’t help that her mom recognized the character, given that he’s the mistreated hot and cold superhero kid who Sachio would describe as one of her husbandos.

Nevertheless, Sachio clearly spent a lot of time on her room. Even with all the posters and collectable stuff, there’s even space made for nice purple lights, giving Sachio’s room a calming atmosphere despite its claustrophobic nature when she turns them on. It also smells better in here than before which always increases its score in my book.

“There’s plenty of attractive characters in that show, the manga has even more,” Sachio tells me from her bed.

I’m sure she’s referring to the many hot male characters Sachio goes on about sometimes.

I look up at her and respond, “And? Why make your main character bald? That’s the person I’m going to see the most. You only gain by making them hotter, through merchandise and stuff.”

I’m currently sitting legs crossed on her floor. Before I arrived Sachio opened the black curtains in her room for what could only be the second or third time in the last five years.

“Well, that’s what the creator wanted to do. It is a comedy after all, Sato.”

“That doesn’t make it a good idea though.”’

“Hmmm.”

Sachio took a minute to think, the last time this happened she gave me something interesting, so I wait with slightly raised expectations.

“You just want lewd art of her, don’t you?” Sachio grills me unamused.

Of course.

“L-L-L-Like you wouldn’t if you were in my position? Which one of us got the body pillow again?”

Sachio looks at me for a second stunned, but you wouldn’t be able to tell because she looked perfectly normal. Following my comment, she set her gaze off to the right and exhaled very slowly, she didn’t look sad or anything, just off.

“Don’t act like that, it makes me feel even worse!”

Sachio darts her head back to look at me again, “Well, maybe it’s like…a metaphor? In order to gain a lot of power, you have to lose something too.”

Is that so? She knew she was never going to win that contest.

“She’s already depressed, isn’t that enough?”

“Well, if she’s bald, then you can see that sacrifice. It’s both funny and ugly, maybe that’s the point?”

Honestly, I don’t know why I feel so indignant about One-Kick Woman’s attractiveness level today. Sachio has hit me with two well thought out perspectives this last week. She normally has a hard time describing why she likes things in a way that makes any sense to me, maybe her previously nonexistent communication skills are getting better?

“Huh, that’s interesting Sachio, maybe you should write about this stuff online, you know?”

“I don’t know if I’m that smart Sato, I’ve just seen a lot of things. There’s like patterns and stuff.”

“You could start a blog or something, I’m sure people would read it—I would at least.”

“You would?” Sachio probes me, her eyes brighter than normal.

“Of course, you have your first follower right here,” I say confidently.

Sachio then slinks her head into her 70’s Angelman t-shirt as she smiles ever so quiet and blushes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sachio covers herself with her shirts like blankets or something. She didn’t wear them the last time I came over, but Sachio has a wardrobe of very large t-shirts that go past the various colored shorts she also likes to wear. Sachio looks like she’s a kid wearing her dad’s t-shirts or something (I guess in this case it would be like the bigger otaku you find at Comic Market or something, from what I can assume at least).

Sachio, now looking like a yellow turtle with her t-shirt, perks her head up to tell me “If you don’t mind Sato, I’m going to use the bathroom. I’ll be back in a second, so go ahead and put the disc in.” Sachio then points at the Yaoi on Fire box set resting next to her Graystation.

“I’ll be back very quick so don’t start without me,” She scolds as she wags her finger at me.

“Who the hell do you think I am!”

“Nori told me today you were very excited to watch it so I’m taking proper precautions!” She gleefully teases while putting on her pink Dango slippers.

Makes me want to hum that damn song.

“I’ll be back!” Sachio exclaims like she’s going to terminate, leaving me to pull the trigger on my own demise.

I have seen some of Yaoi on Fire before, it’s an anime about Olympic track and involves a heavily implied romance between the Japanese runner and their Russian coach. All the fujoshi love it because “it’s beautiful” and nothing else, which I’m reluctant to believe. There isn’t any other Yaoi on Fire merchandise from what I can see in the room so far so I’m confident Sachio isn’t completely hopeless.

I take out the first disc of volume one and slide it into the system as if applying any pressure to the disc will break it. Of course, I’m always careful with my things, partially because I wouldn’t have the money to replace it, but also because it’s my things. My things are precious to me and I’m so protective that if anyone is going to break them it’s going to be me. If anyone tries otherwise, well then, they will be broken.

Not sure what I’d do though.

Can’t exactly dropkick them, can I?

Anyways, I decided to admire Sachio’s collection to pass the time after I successfully reached the main menu. I have to admit it, I honestly don’t know how she got all this. Her parents seem like super nice people so maybe they love to spoil their youngest daughter or something? That’s the only explanation I can give for the sheer quantity of merchandise and physical media this girl owns. She likes to get exclusive copies or go to movie screenings to get special items it seems. She has a stack of collectible cards and things like that from various light novel and manga printings or bookstore collaborations with the publisher. Does she make her parents buy them for her? They’re on a trip now so they won’t be back today, meaning I have a full night to look at this stuff and be jealous.

Outside of the husbandos, there are many cute things too, various stuffed toys, some of them official characters—some of them not, litter the room. Most of them were placed around the room almost as if you couldn’t escape them, but because they cared about you more so than because they were creepy—comfy, not claustrophobic.

“A friend in every view.”

“Hm?”

I turn to my right to see Sachio poking her head out from behind the door, having returned from the bathroom.

She was really fast, what the heck!?

Nori could learn a thing or two from this girl.

“That was the mentality I had when I placed my plushies all over the room,” Sachio relayed with a heavy amount of sentimentality as she walked towards her desk where I was. “I wanted to have it where as long as you opened your eyes, someone was there to greet you.”

I looked around the room again and she’s right. They were placed with an explicit purpose and it’s all the more clear after you know that. Even though I slept up here the last time, we spent most of our time downstairs in Sachio’s living room when I visited over spring break. And even when I was in here I hadn’t really paid attention to the intricacies of Sachio’s plush layout.

“That’s really nice actually. And your collection is super impressive too.”

Sachio blushes and appreciates me with a “Thanks Sato!” and a big grin. She then pulls the beaten up sloth plush with one eye dangling off her desk and displays it.

“This guy’s name is Lil’ Neko!” Sachio cheers, while her sloth plush droops in her hands.

“But… it’s not a cat.” I remark, trying to peek around Lil’ Neko.

“Well…” Sachio looks down at Lil’ Neko, “I didn’t know what ‘sloth’ was at the time, so I called him ‘Neko’ and my parents thought it was so funny they called him that too. He is the oldest surviving stuffed animal I have.”

Sachio begins dancing Lil’ Neko’s floppy limbs while I say “So you’ve had that basically your whole life? I haven’t kept any of my stuffed animals around since I was like 11.”

“Pretty much. Isn’t he the cutest!” She asks me while holding out the rough looking sloth in front of her.

Honestly, the brown sloth kind of looks like crap. Its fur looks dirty and as I said before, one of its eye’s is barely hanging on by a thread. The sloth has clearly been stitched in places where it was ripped so it looks like a Frankenstein monster, and it probably needs to be washed again before I would ever be willing to touch it.

But at the same time, Sachio loves this sloth so much that I can’t with a good conscience tell her all that. I don’t want to betray her feelings by insulting what appears to be one of her cherished items. Unless I wish to become the most garbage person on the planet, I think saying the nice thing is probably the best route to go.

“Mhm, he is,” I answer without confidence.

“I just knew you would agree Sato!” Sachio rejoices as she sets Lil’ Neko back on her desk, nestled under her really tall lamp. “I spend most of my time at my desk, so I wanted to set whoever I wanted to see the most here.”

“It’s a great choice that’s for sure.”

Shizu Sachio is too much for this world.

“Oh, I just remembered! take a look at something I got.” Sachio voices, as she bends over to pull manga out of the shelf to the right of her desk.

Hm, that’s interesting.

Maybe I’m seeing things.

Anyway, Sachio finally digs out what looks like a tiny but thick book and hands it to me. I look at the front cover to read the single word title Dast, a word accompanied by some cute anime girls that I’ve never seen.

“What is it?” I ask confused but interested. I open the book to discover that it’s a light novel magazine written in English? With some manga in the back of the book, some of it in color of all things.

“It’s a light novel magazine named Dast; It used to print copies in English at some point like a decade ago. I was browsing forums one day and some American was willing to sell their copy for really cheap because they were moving. I bought it because I thought having one sounded cool and maybe I could use it to practice English.”

“When did you have the time to buy this?”

“Oh I didn’t, I asked my mom to get it when she got off work.”

I knew it.

Sachio pointed at the book and asked me, “I was wondering if you were interested in taking it when you left tomorrow? I know you’re really good at English so I thought maybe you could read it.”

That’s true, if I had a dictionary on hand, I could probably read this whole thing without too much difficulty. And it’s really nice of Sachio to give what is probably a hard item to find, unless America is weirdly obsessed with Japanese light novel magazines.

“Sure, thank you very much.” I say, as I walk over to rest the book against my overnight bag that I have sitting near the door.

“I hope you like it.” She says, clasping her hands together as she smiles at me again for the fifth time today. “So, do you want to start the show now?”

“I guess,” I utter as Sachio sits down in the middle of her floor closer to the door than not. I reluctantly sit down to her right.

Whoops, I left the controller near the system so I would have to get up in order to start the anime.

I really don’t want to do that.

I look over at Sachio who also clearly doesn’t want to get up either.

But to my surprise she hastily tells me “It’s fine! I’ll get it.” Sachio then crawls on her hands and knees to the other end of the room to get the controller and put the box set back together.

Wait.

Maybe I wasn’t seeing things.

Is Sachio in her underwear?

It doesn’t look like she’s in shorts.

Did I show up too early or something?

I don’t know.

Well…

Intentionally or not, it seems like Sachio is giving me two presents today.

***

Okay, I will admit it, because I am someone not so immature as to never concede on a point, BL can be good, I guess.

Seriously, or at least as good as any of the Sindams nowadays.

It’s currently 9pm—because Sachio and I took a while to get started, on top of us talking in between every episode (and eating dinner of course), we are only at episode 10 I think? Nevertheless, I’m invested, I’m not selling now.

Sachio is happy about it because of course she is, she’s brought me to the dark side.

Just barely, but still.

The episode we were watching just ended, so we are talking about our thoughts during the ending song. I normally just skip them but they’re useful for background noise in a conversation.

“So, what did you think?” she asks me, coated in blue and now purple light.

“Did they literally get married?”

“I think it’s a metaphor Sato.”

“Oh…”

“It’s nice though, isn’t it?”

“It was sweet for sure; I thought the reactions by the other competitors were funny.”

“Yukio is still the funny one for me.”

“He’s way more charming than a 15 year old should be, but I’ve never really been into rival characters.

“Did you know Yukio is Nori’s favorite character in this show?”

Of course it is.

“I didn’t know, but hearing that doesn’t surprise me in any way.”

“How so?”

I shake my head in dismay.

They say guys are bad, but you never find them buying the scent of a 15 year old boy for their body pillow.

“Well anyway,” I say, trying to change the subject. “The ‘romance’ in this show is something I didn’t expect.”

“What do you mean Sato?” Sachio probes me as genuine as she can.

“While Igor does get close to Yuki, he never assaults him or anything. And they aren’t constantly all over each other all the time. It’s not weird or creepy, I guess. And the fact that the Olympics are still a large focus helps.”

“That’s because BL is wholesome and sweet.”

“I still have my doubts but I see your point.”

“I’m happy to hear it!” Sachio exclaims as she gleams with little apprehension.

I realize the episode has started at this point, so I pause it for the time being and take a sip of my soda. We got some when we ordered pizza for dinner.

“Sato.”

“Yes?”

“Thank you for coming over, and for watching with me.”

“I mean, we made a deal yesterday. I stick to my word.”

“But still, I appreciate you being here.”

“Where is this coming from?”

“Um…” Sachio pauses for a second, out of nervousness rather than thought. “I just really appreciate you, that’s it.” Sachio gives me one of her nervous smiles, something I don’t think is appearing for a good reason.

“I feel like there’s more here. Sachio you don’t have to be nervous.”

I’m now worried about this girl, is she going to say something out of character and mean next?

“Sato, I…I…” Sachio turns to face me, resting on her knees, and grabs my left hand.

“I love you!” She yells, putting in her everything but also in a way so nervous she can hardly get it out, like blowing air through a straw.

No…

Please no…

Say it isn’t so…

I don’t want more of this.

Sachio’s face is red like a pomegranate and can’t bring herself to look at me. Her head is facing down, and she is still holding my hand, her palms sweaty.

“Sachio…” is all I can make out, I’m speechless.

How could I have not seen this coming? I’ve been talking to this girl for so long that I should’ve noticed by now.

Maybe I wasn’t paying as much attention as I thought.

But…

Shizu Sachio is one of my favorite people in the world.

What should I do?

Realizing she didn’t disintegrate the moment she confessed to someone, she asks me “Y-You’re nervous too, aren’t you?”

“Uhhhh…”

“It’s okay, you’re okay, I’m okay. Everything is okay.”

No, it’s not.

Arguably little is okay right now.

But she looks so reassured now, it makes me feel at least a little calmer, but not any less hot.

“I can tell you’re too nervous to respond, I understand. You don’t have to answer right away, but…”

I know what she is going to ask, and I really don’t want to answer that request.

“Do you want to…kiss?”

God, help me.

Sachio looks so beautiful in the glow of her television, the blue and purple perfectly capturing everything that this human being can give me.

Sachio is giving me her everything.

But…I don’t think I can return the same.

Maybe I can try?

“Mhm.” I am able to just get out, trapped in my nerves like a vice.

“Understood,” Sachio replies, as she shines so bright on the inside and out.

Sachio shifts forward to be close to me, her arm crossing mine. She slightly leans forward, hesitant probably because she’s never kissed anyone before and doesn’t know how to do it. But eventually she finds the confidence to lean forward even more and touches her lips against mine, using her left hand to guide my face to hers.

One, two, three, four.

Maybe this is not so bad after all?

Our lip’s part for a split second, and I feel even more relief, probably because it’s over. But then she uses her left hand to pull me back in for another and starts to caress my cheek. Now in the second round…I begin to remember the honey.

I’m… not okay with this.

No.

Wait.

This was…

I can’t do it.

“Stop!” I yell while pushing Sachio away and standing.

I’m breathing so deep, yet I don’t feel like breathing at all. Like if suddenly the oxygen levels on Earth dropped by 70%.

Sachio looks dazed, absolutely baffled as to what just happened. She looks scared, at not only me but I think herself, like she somehow did something wrong.

I don’t care anymore.

I want out of here.

“I’m leaving,” I say as I grab my bag and walk out Sachio’s door

As I reach the bottom of the stairs, Sachio chases after me saying “Sato wait!”

She grabs my shoulder as I’m on my way to putting my shoes on, which was weird since Sachio is so short.

“Sato, I’m so sorry! Did I do something wrong!? Am I a bad kisser? Was I too assertive? Please tell me what I did wrong so I can apologize!”

“Don’t touch me!” I assert as I pull my arm away. As I’m putting on my shoes I say, “Yeah, you did do something wrong.”

“What?” Sachio pleads, desperate to get me to stay while also hurt that I’m leaving.

“Assume you could could get away with something like that.” I state, with the frost of a bitter winter.

Crack

That wasn’t a sound in real life. That’s how I imagine it sounded like inside Shizu Sachio right now as her eyes widen and her posture droops, as if the string holding her up straight loosened.

“…I’m sorry,” was all Sachio could say.

“I…don’t care,” I utter as I look away from Sachio and open her front door.

As I’m about to leave I stop, and gaze back at Sachio one more time. She looks so broken, as if her heart was smashed with a hammer and thrown into a woodchipper. As if she was a piece of paper crumpled and uncrumpled multiple times, now unable to flatten ever again.

I did this to her.

But…

What’s done is done.

It’s not my business anymore.

I shut Sachio’s front door and start walking back towards my house. The stars are out again to accompany me on my depressing journey home, twice in one weekend believe it or not. As I walk down the street a thought hits me, I left before we were able to finish the show. It hurts to admit it, but I also probably won’t be able to finish the show on my own either, I would like to remember this night as little as possible.

Ah, guess that means I’m still a BL virgin after all.

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