My Dad is an Otaku, My Mom is a Fujoshi, and I Wish I Was Dead
After three straight days of finals and two excruciating days of waiting for the results, today I can finally relax. The atmosphere at an end-of-term assembly is somewhere between D*sneyland and being told you're getting free money.
Today, I'm headed toward Urayasu, where the prefecture's newest, 24-screen movie theater is hosting day 1 of the Greater Tokyo Area International Film Weekend. It's about 45 minutes to get there by train, which is a bit far for me on my own, but Mom and Dad were okay with it since Niichan is going too. D*sneyland isn't too far from there...and I heard they're staying open late all week to celebrate the start of summer break. Maybe if the movie doesn't run too long I can persuade my brother to take me.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I have to deal with this first-year girl staring at me with a worried expression.
"Kouga-senpai, can you please help us?"
"Help you?" I've never met this girl before. "How come?"
"I'm Yuri Tamawashi from class 1-2...we have to clean up our club room for the end of the semester, but the senpai ditched us..." the girl replies with a sad expression.
Yeah, I feel you. It always sucks when people blow off cleaning duty, but I have no idea why she's asked me of all people.
"Isn't there anyone else you can ask? I've kinda got something to do..."
"Please, Kouga-senpai!" Tamawashi-san begs. Whoa, she's almost on the verge of tears. Now I feel terrible. "Everyone else in my class left too, and when I tried to ask them for help they laughed at me! Arisa-chan told me you helped her out when she was lost one day so I searched all over to find you...please! If it's just Arisa-chan and I, we won't be finished until midnight!"
Did I do something like that? I'm having trouble remembering...oh yeah, there was one day where a first-year was frantically trying to find the teachers' office and I walked her there.
What time is it? 12:05. There's still some time before I have to meet my brother at the station.
It wouldn't be right to ignore this girl like everyone else apparently has. I don't want to make Niichan wait on me for too long, but I can't say no to someone begging me for help. "I'll help you clean, but I can only stay for about 20 minutes or so."
Her distraught face lights up. "Thank you so much, Kouga-senpai! I don't know what we would have done without you..."
It’s not like I’m that happy about helping her out, but if I refused I would feel guilty the whole week.
The old club building is unnaturally cold when we enter. It’s making the hairs on my neck stand up a little bit. For some reason it feels like I’m being followed. I have no idea why I say that, I just feel a little creeped out.
I turn around quickly and I swear I see a tall, thin shadow duck behind a door, and an icy chill goes through my body. It was so fast that I couldn’t tell if it was a person or something else.
This place is definitely haunted.
No, I’m not afraid of ghosts! I’m old enough that I don’t believe in them!
Well, maybe I am a little scared of them…
Tamawashi-san, seeing I’ve stopped, does too. “Is something wrong?”
After we’ve climbed two stories of wooden stairs that sound like they could give way at any moment, we finally arrive at a nondescript club room with a set of double doors. I didn't ask the girl which club she was in, but I guess it doesn't matter. I can't tell which one it is from the sign, because the kanji embossed into the metal have faded so much that I can't read them.
The door slides open with a screech of protest, and the room inside is dark and cavernous. That's odd. I thought she said that there was another girl here.
"Where did your friend go?"
Did Tamawashi-san jolt in surprise a little bit? I swear she did, for just a little bit. Maybe I'm imagining things.
"Arisa-chan went to go get the mop...I hope she's not lost again. Sorry, Kouga-senpai...be right back!" Tamawashi-san departs down the hallway until she turns a corner and disappears from my line of sight.
Guess it's time to take a look around. The room is still dark, but it doesn't seem very large to me. Is it really that cluttered that two people couldn't clean it up without needing help? Maybe it is. Some people are messy. Or maybe those two girls are terrible at cleaning. Either possibility is likely, unfortunately. It bothers me when people can't clean up after themselves.
It would be better if I could see, though. There's a window near the back of the room, but it's only providing enough natural light to see the shadows of chairs, desks, and what must be bookshelves lining the sides of the room. Is this a literature club room or something?
Where's the light switch? I can just barely make out its silhouette on the wall by the door.
The lights spring to life, illuminating a U-shaped row of desks, with chairs pushed in on the outside. Paperwork is stacked neatly in three trays on the desk facing the door. I was right about the bookshelves lining the walls, but there are no books in them- they're filled with sheets of paper and booklets.
Why did Tamawashi-san say they needed help cleaning? This room already looks spotless!
A sheet of paper flutters off the top of one of the stacks, drifting gently toward the floor.
What is this?
In large, bold print on the header of the paper is DISCIPLINARY ACTION RECOMMENDATION FORM-
I whirl around, expecting the first-year girl to have returned with her friend, but instead, a small figure rests on the door, with her uniform pristine and her legs covered by dark tights, with long raven hair pulled into two low twintails framing a hateful sneer on her delicate face.
Asako Senjuuin is the last person I wanted to have to run into today…or ever.
"You...where's Tamawashi-san..." I growl.
"Oh, that little girl?" She flips her hair in dismissal. "I caught her and her friend coming out of a photo booth at the local arcade earlier this week. I don't think I need to emphasize what a breach of the rules that is, especially during an exam period, but since you seem to be a little slow in the head, Kouga-" she emphasizes that point by drawing it out, nastily- "I will repeat myself. Handbook 2.8.43 (a)- unauthorized after-school activities in uniform. 9.6.5- student conduct during examination weeks. I was rather merciful to them, all things considered."
As soon as she says that, my blood pressure spikes. Mini-Moron tricked the first-years. Some of them haven't yet realized that she doesn't have any power, and she took advantage of them.
"I don't care. I have somewhere to be." I clench my whole body, preparing to spring for the door. "Get out of the way, Senjuuin."
"I don't think you understand...you're not the one giving the orders here." She pulls something out of her pocket with a hateful sneer, tossing it across the room. As it lands at my feet, I realize with horror that it's a toothbrush.
"Personally, I don't care about whatever frivolity you're missing," the president continues in an acid-laced voice. "You're not leaving until you scrub the whole room spotless, with that."
"You can't make me. Let me out or I'll yell for Kawano-sensei." I say that with as much icy fury as I can manage.
"Her?" the president sneers. "You're quite friendly with the teachers, are you not? Scream all you want. This whole building is empty- no one will hear you. Now get down on your knees and start cleaning."
"I'm not playing along with your little game, Senjuuin. You know you can't force me to do anything."
"That's the thing, Kouga...the great master Confucius, in his famed Analects, said, 'When a prince's personal conduct is correct, his government is effective without the issuing of orders. If his personal conduct is not correct, he may issue orders, but they will not be followed.' "
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"It flew over your imbecilic head?" Senjuuin chuckles with disdain. "I'm not surprised. The administration of this school has neglected their duties to the student body by blocking our attempts to discipline troublemakers like you. What that means is that I no longer need to abide by their decisions. If I need to enforce my own discipline, I will."
Shaking with fury, the only thing I can respond with is, "You're a real piece of garbage, Senjuuin."
She smirks. "It's a good thing I don't pay any mind to the opinions of commoners." Then she pulls something out of her pocket, dangling something shiny on a string in front of me. "This room locks from the inside as well as the outside. I've got to thank my exalted predecessors for being so devoted to finishing their duties that they would lock themselves in until they finished."
It's a key, right there in her hand. If I'm fast enough, I can take it. I know I'm stronger than her.
"I changed my mind," she sneers. "You want this? You want to go home so you can waste your time with some pointless activity? Lick the floor clean with your tongue, dog."
My head, red-hot with anger, is filled with nothing but images of me beating her to a pulp- punching her until she's limp and barely conscious on the floor. I would normally be horrified to even think about that, but she pissed me off, and the only way you can fix someone like her is through pain.
"Give...me...that." It's all I can manage just to say those words without screaming in rage.
"Oh, are you thinking of taking this from me? Quite the violent one, aren’t you?" I watch, horrified, as she slips the key down the front of her shirt, and then approaches me. “I know what you’re thinking, Kouga. You’ve been thinking about it all this time. ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. Why is she picking on me?’ From the day I had the displeasure of meeting you, you’ve always acted like that. The fact that you can’t take responsibility for your actions is what bothers me the most.”
Take responsibility for what? What have I done?! “What the hell are you talking about?”
Her face crosses as she gets ever closer. “That’s what I mean. That clueless goody-two-shoes act. You do good deeds for others and make it seem like it was only because you happened to be there. In reality, all that’s deliberate, isn’t it? You want the attention. You like having your classmates depend on you. You know that they treat you like a saint because you help them out when they need it the most…but everything is planned on your part.”
She’s close enough for me to feel her breath as she sneers. “If you were allowed to continue as you are without my intervention, within the next year you would have gained enough power to unquestionably rule the school. You’ve put so many students in your debt and made yourself look so spotless that they’ll do whatever you ask of them. That’s your goal, isn’t it? You want to be the queen bee. The alpha dog. You want to sit at the top of the social hierarchy, able to destroy whomever you like with mere words. I absolutely cannot allow that to happen. You may have fooled your peers…but you can’t fool me. I see right through you.”
“None of what you’re saying makes sense. I don’t have time to waste listening to your crap.”
“Play dumb all you like. I know who you really are. You’re jealous. You’re possessive. You’re petty, and you’re insecure. And most of all…you’re pathetic. Because only the pathetic seek social approval.”
This time, I stare daggers down at her tiny, hateful face. “Don’t act like you know a single thing that’s going on inside my head.”
She smirks back at me. "But I do. Do you know why? Because I have a lot of experience with people pretending to be someone that they’re not.”
I’m not putting up with this. If I lunge for the key, I can wrestle her down and break the cord around her neck, then give her a few stomps in the head for good measure.
But her voice stops me in my tracks. “Even now…you’re pretending to be clueless, but I can tell you want nothing more than to beat me down and take the key from me by force. But you're going to have to rip my clothes off to get to it.”
She pauses for a second, and the next words she says make my blood run cold. “You have an older brother, don't you?"
"You...what do you want with Niichan..."
"If you lay one finger on me, I'll say he was in the room with me, and he forced himself on me." The smile on her face is...evil. There's no other way to describe it. "It doesn't matter how true it is. Just the accusation on its own would be enough to ruin his life."
"SENJUUIN, YOU BI-"
Pik. A small tapping sound comes from behind me, then another one. Pik.
I turn around in enough time to see a rock fly through the air, hitting the window with enough force to leave a small mark.
Then comes the roar, so loud it can be heard all the way through the glass. "HEY, WASHBOARD! I KNOW YOU'RE UP THERE!"
Pik. Another rock smashes into the glass.
Outside, in the small, grassy space between the back of the school and the front of the club building, a tall, skinny, bleached blonde guy is standing, a handful of pebbles from the rock garden that sits next to the path between the two buildings in his hand.
It's that guy. That guy from that one day that I saw getting in Niichan's face. That guy who ran away.
Didn't I pass someone who looked like him on the way here?
As soon as he sees me peek out the window, his eyes widen and he flushes pink, but I can see him mouthing, "Get out of the way!"
I do as he says, and a second later a larger rock crashes into the window with a thud, leaving a thin, spiderweb crack.
For the first time today, the president's face turns white and her malicious smile fades. She pulls an outdated walkie-talkie from...I don't really know where she got it from.
"Nagahama, troublemaker in the back courtyard, over."
There's a few seconds of silence, then the sounds of a commotion start to creep up from the ground level, and then another rock flies into the window.
"I MEANT YOU, FUCKING HALF-PINT! NOT THESE LOSERS!" the boy screams from below.
The president taps the button on her walkie-talkie frantically. "Nagahama, come in!"
The only response she gets is static.
On the green below, a circle of bodies surrounds the guy, who looks unfazed. One of the figures slumped on the ground is the vice president. The rest are wearing armbands.
A look of rage twists over the president's face as she slowly starts to realize what's going on. "You..." She storms over to the window, flinging it open. "Shiritori, you-"
Another rock hits her dead in the forehead, right above the nose, and she staggers back.
"SHIRITORI, YOU'RE GOING TO REGRET-" she screams as she rushes toward the door, ripping out the key and jamming it into the lock.
The door unlocks with a click.
She forgot about me.
As soon as she realizes and looks back at me, her eyes grow wide and she frantically attempts to lock the door again, but I'm too fast. Overpowering her, throwing the door open, and sprinting down the hall is the easiest thing I've done all day.
In the time it takes me to blink, I'm all the way out the gate.
12:20. I was gonna meet Niichan at 12:30. The train comes at 12:35. The movie's at 2. If I don't run, I won't make it on time.
The streets blur by me until the station approaches, growing larger and larger in my field of view.
My older brother stands there, resting with his back on the wall near the ticket machines, and as he sees me approach he pushes himself off, staring at me with concern.
"Did something happen?" he says. "You look like you ran all the way here."
"It's nothing. I was just delayed, that's all."
I can tell that's not a good lie, because he shoots me a concerned look, but he doesn't press it any further as we swipe our passes and get onto the train. I really don't want to get him involved in my problems. Knowing him, he'd try to take it all on himself and then he'd say the wrong thing and end up on the bad side of Asako Senjuuin, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
The train lurches out of the station. It's not as crowded as I expected. I thought I would see a ton of students heading out, especially since this is the way to go to D*sneyland, but it's nearly empty except for me and Niichan sitting next to each other, and an old lady on the other side of the train.
As the train rolls through stations, we sit there in silence. I don't know what to say, and clearly neither does he. Ever since that night, we've not had the chance to sit down and talk to each other.
"The next stop is Ichikawashiohama...Ichikawashiohama." The train slides to a stop, and the doors open with a tinny, recorded sound.
We're halfway there and we haven't said a word to each other.
As the train screeches out of the station, I finally break the silence, because I can't stand how awkward it is. "Hey, Niichan. How did the rest of your tournament go? You know, on Sunday.”
I really hate that I missed the second day of the tournament, but I had already agreed to go help Miku buy a new camera weeks before Niichan asked me if I wanted to come. At least I was able to make it on Saturday. It was surprisingly easy for me to keep away from Ayame Shiritori since I was sitting with my parents.
"I finished in the top 100 in kata. Didn’t make it any further than that. As for the team event…knocked out in the round of 16. Takeno-senpai won but the second-years got beat 2-1."
"It's no big deal. We did a lot better than I was expecting."
There's a few seconds more of silence, and then he says something. "How's your school life going?" It's such an awkward question. It sounds like what your grandpa would say when he hasn't seen you for years.
But it's so like my brother.
"Oh, you know. Fine.”
"How are your...friends?"
"Would you believe it, Saya's got a date today, and Miku's just Miku."
"Saya? Is she the annoying one?"
"They're both the annoying one."
"I mean...you know, her. Cultural Festival girl. The one who's really into maids."
It sounds painful for him to say, and it's just as painful for me to remember. "Yup. That's her."
He grimaces. "How did she get a guy to ask her out?"
"I'm just as confused as you are."
We continue chatting as the train pulls into Shin-Urayasu station, and as we walk the few short minutes to the theater. The whole time, it doesn't feel awkward to talk to him, like it did for so long- it feels like we're friends catching up.
The theater is definitely impressive. You could probably fit a few football fields in there. It's got multiple stories, too. As we enter, the lobby is filled with distinguished-looking old people, and more than a few foreigners. I guess those are the kinds of people that would be interested in these kinds of movies. We're a little out of place.
I hand Niichan the ticket as we enter and get close to the greeter, a kindly middle-aged woman with glasses who takes a look at our tickets. "Theater number four," she says, directing us down the hallway.
"Kaede, do you want any snacks?" my brother says as I start to head to the theater. "I'll pay."
"Um...just popcorn is fine." I'd like to get more, but I'm on a diet.
Fifteen minutes later, the theater fills up, the lights dim, and the movie roars to life, projecting on the massive screen.
It's honestly not a bad movie. Jean-Luc is really handsome and he's also a super cool hero. The cinematography is good too, and I'm really liking all the crazy lengths he's going to because he wants to protect his little sister Annabelle from the mafia. It's more than a mindless action film. It really makes you think about what "family" means. The mafia boss may look ruthless, but he cares about his subordinates just as much as Jean-Luc does about his little sister- the only problem is, their conflict means someone's relationship is going to have to be destroyed.
After 120 minutes, Jean-Luc puts a bullet in the mafia boss's head to save Annabelle's life, and then, they...OH MY GOD IS HE TONGUE KISSING HIS OWN SISTER?
They're going further...she's straddling him...oh God, I can't watch...
The image of Saya's smug grin flashes in my mind. She set this all up.
I'm gonna kill her.
I frantically turn to my brother and breathe a sigh of relief as he's slumped over in the chair, fast asleep. Whew. I didn't want him getting the wrong idea. All I can do is cover my eyes like a small child until I hear music coming from the screen and see the credits start to roll.
Niichan's eyes flicker open, groggily, and then he sees me peering down over him and jolts to attention. "Sorry, Kaede..." he says, ashamed. "I was so tired from all my training that I couldn't help it..."
"It's okay." No, really. If he hadn't fallen asleep it would have been so much worse.
He yawns as we leave the theater, stretching his lean arms over his head, while I furiously pull out my phone and open up LIME.
@kae_musaszi: Saya I’m gonna kill u
@Koneko38 is online.
@kae_musaszi: The movie
@Koneko38: you hated it that much?
@kae_musaszi: You didn't tell me it was an INCEST MOVIE!
@Koneko38: that wasn't in it when I saw it
@Koneko38: hold on
@Koneko38: Kaede what theater are u at
@Koneko38: LOL KAEDE
@Koneko38: U WERE IN THE WRONG ONE LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOO
[stamp of a laughing bear]
[stamp of a laughing Hello Kitten]
[stamp of a laughing idol]
Click. I lock my phone with a huff.
Sure enough, Theater 9 is printed on the ticket, and the name scrolling on the matinee doesn’t match, either.
It really wasn't Saya this time. I wasn't paying attention. She was right.
Crap, that was embarrassing.
"Kaede, are you okay?" my brother asks, concern flashing in his eyes.
No. No, I am not okay.
But I can't tell him why, or I'd be so embarrassed I could never speak to him again.
Play it cool.
"Hey, I really am sorry I fell asleep in there..." my brother says, ashamed.
"It's fine. We were in the wrong theater anyways."
Suddenly, Niichan starts to chuckle a little bit, and then he breaks out into a full-on laugh. "I guess we both screwed up pretty bad, huh?"
"Still, I feel bad about it," he mumbles.
"It's really not a big deal."
"It is to me, though."
"Fine, if you feel that bad, I'll forgive you if you take me to D*sneyland."
He grimaces a bit, but replies, "Deal."
I haven't seen him smile in forever. He looks so much better when he does.