Chapter 63:

My Fortunes have Taken a Sudden Turn.

My Dad is an Otaku, My Mom is a Fujoshi, and I Wish I Was Dead

"Is this seat taken?"

At the sound of the dainty voice, I turn my head to see a girl gesturing to the empty chair to the left of me. On the other side of me, Saya's stopped mid-bite to stare at her.

"No, go ahead," I say, and the girl takes a seat in a prim and proper way.

Is she a foreigner? She's got really pretty blue eyes and hair that's so blonde it's almost silver...but she speaks good Japanese.

As I take a curious glance over at her, she stares right back at me with those deep, ocean-colored eyes, and a mysterious half-smile starts to form on her face.

I'm starting to get unnerved. This entire room is full of empty chairs, but this girl sat right next to me.

Before I can ask her what her name is, the lights dim, and the presentation starts. It's a simple powerpoint, filled with a lot of corporate speak, so I zone out almost the entire time. Fujii-san is too stunned to say much anyways, and Takanashi-san's not exactly an engaging presenter, so their voices fade into the background. All I can think about is this strange girl sitting next to us, and Ryou Shiritori...

The lights come back on, and Takanashi-san says, "Since there are no questions, we'll wrap up for today. Thank you for coming." Fujii-san adds nothing.

I turn to the left, but the blonde girl isn't sitting next to me anymore. I whirl around, but she's nowhere to be found.

...Okay, that was unnerving.

Saya and Miku stand up to leave, Miku checking her phone, Saya carrying the now-empty pizza box. I hesitantly follow. My mind's still full of intrusive thoughts.

As we head toward the door, Takanashi-san approaches us, calling out to us. "Before you three go..." She takes something out of her suit pocket and holds it out to us. "Here, this is my card. If any of you are interested in a studio tour, let me know and I'll arrange it for you."

"...Thanks." I reach out and take her business card, and my two friends follow. For such a small, low-budget company, it doesn't look half bad.

"Thank you for coming!" Takanashi-san bows to us as we exit. As soon as we're outside, Saya stuffs the card in the empty pizza box and throws both in the trash. I'm so focused on other things that I don't even give her a disapproving look.

As we walk back down the hallway, my phone buzzes in my pocket. It's Niichan. I quickly text that I'm fine. I can't focus on anything right now. I was in a good mood this morning, but as soon as I thought about Shiritori-kun I haven't been able to focus on anything else. Even Miku's chattering is fading out.

"Kaede, are you okay?" I turn to see Saya looking at me with concern.

"I'm fine."

"You don't look fine. Something on your mind?"

"Not really."

"You're not a good liar. Shiritori-kun, right?"

"How did you..."

"It's written all over your face."

I guess there's no point hiding it from the school's premier gossip hound. Saya obviously knows what's going on. "It's just not fair...I couldn't do anything..."

"Life isn't fair," Saya replies matter-of-factly. "I know it sucks, but sometimes stuff like this happens. Look on the bright side- you're lucky it was him who got in trouble and not you."

"I know, but it just isn't right...and I tried so hard to help him, too..."

Saya gives me a long, concerned look. "You did your best. Sometimes things like this happen and there's nothing anyone can do about it. All you can do is pick yourself up and keep moving on so you won't feel guilty for the rest of your life. At least, that's what my brother taught me."

"So all we can do is let Senjuuin get away with ruining Shiritori-kun's life?"

"It's not like holding a grudge is going to change anything."

"I just can't accept it..."

"Put it out of your mind for today, at least, and try to have fun. I don't like seeing you like this," Saya sighs, putting her hands behind her head as we walk. We're back down on the main floor and have stepped out into the crowd. There are just as many people around as there were this morning, maybe even more.

Saya is really thoughtful when she's not messing with people. Even she has her good points, I guess.

We wander around, checking out all the video game booths and looking at the doujin stands, then getting lunch, then roaming around some more. Saya and Miku look like they're having a lot of fun talking to the people at various booths and trying out the game demos and even buying some small souvenirs, but I can't focus no matter what. I keep telling myself that I'm dragging down the mood by sulking, but I keep thinking of Shiritori-kun and how unfair it is. Is that the way the world works? Rich people get to do whatever they want without any consequences and everyone else has to suffer?

Before I know it, we're out in the central courtyard of the building, where nearly one hundred people in colorful costumes are standing around while people wait in line to talk to them and get a photo. The courtyard is still swarming with fans, but there's a little more room. I was so spaced out that I don't even remember how we got here.

"They're so cute!" Miku exclaims as we slowly walk around, watching the cosplayers pose for photos with their adoring fans. As we keep walking around, she stops by a small girl wearing a bright orange wig, a frilly blouse, and two giant horns coming from the top of her head. A few nerdy-looking guys are waiting in line to take a photo.

"Hey, that's Cocone! Remember the one I showed you?" Miku takes a look at the cosplayer as she gives the peace sign standing next to a fat dude, then tips the gourd in her hand up. “Let’s get a picture!”

Since I’m not interested in cosplay, I didn’t give her social media profiles more than a quick once-over back when Miku showed them to me. But I do remember the bright orange wig from a photo on her Tw*tter because Miku wouldn’t shut up about the costume she was teasing. She’s actually as tiny in person as she was in her photos. I thought they were photoshopped, but it looks like they were real.

…I also remember how familiar that one photo she posted looked. There’s only one person I know who’s that small…

Forget it. It’s a coincidence. For one thing, the photo she posted that I thought looked familiar was a costume. I have no idea what she looks like underneath all that makeup, and the oni costume she has on right now resembles no one I know.

"I really don't want to wait in line..." I also really don't want Miku to post my picture with a cosplayer on her social media.

"...But the line's moving quickly." Miku stares at me with pleading eyes.

"What's the harm in one picture?" Saya shrugs as she looks at me.

"Okay...fine." For the second time today, I'm going along with what Miku wants...but at the same time, there's really no reason for me to refuse and be a jerk about it. Getting the picture will make her happy, and making a stink about it will get her mad at me, and Saya too, for no real reason.

Thankfully, Miku was right. The line does move fast, and in less than a minute we're right next to the cosplayer.

"Hello! Would you like a picture-" The cosplayer turns around and suddenly freezes as soon as she sees us, with her eyes wide.

That's weird. She looks...nervous.

"Cocone!" Miku exclaims, getting right in the cosplayer's face. "I follow you on Inst*gr*m!"

"Uh...thanks!" The cosplayer attempts to look cheerful, but she seems like she's ready to turn tail and run.

"Can we get a picture?" Miku asks, positively giddy.

The cosplayer takes a second to reply, but nervously blurts out, "Sure!"

Miku drags all of us into the frame, takes the selfie, thanks Cocone, then holds out her phone for all of us to see. "I told you guys she was the cutest!"

You also told us that you were promoting your channel in her Inst*gr*m comments.

The cosplayer is making the peace sign in the photo and trying to smile, but she looks like a cornered animal. Something isn't right. It's almost like...she was scared of us or something?

"Wait. Do you guys think she looks nervous in that photo?"

"Hmm." Saya leans down to get a better look. "Now that you mention're right. I bet Miku-chan freaked her out."

"Hey! I did not!" Miku protests.

Something's not right here. I'm certain Cocone panicked when she saw us...but why would some random cosplayer in Tokyo do that?

Am I…right? Is she really…forget it, Kaede. You know it’s a coincidence. You’re grasping at straws because of Shiritori-kun.

I look back over my shoulder and the cosplayer is no longer where she was standing just a second ago. Then I catch her moving across the courtyard quickly, heading for the doors at the other end.

I’m not going crazy, am I? This is too suspicious for everything to be a coincidence. “Miku, gimme your phone!”

“Huh? Okay…”

With two taps of my finger, I’ve pulled up Cocone’s Tw*tter and the photo of the bright orange wig and oni horns. I pull out my own phone, frantically scrolling through the LIME messages Miku sent me, looking for that one blurry photo…

It’s the same orange. Miku’s picture is so out of focus that the color is an indistinct, small blob, but it’s the same color.

"Sorry, you guys!" I instantly take off after the cosplayer.

I hear Saya's cry of "Hey, Kaede, where are you going?", but I don't turn back. I just keep following the girl in the oni costume. She's moving so quickly that I can barely keep up, but I still manage to follow her up a set of stairs, down some hallways, up to another floor...soon, the crowds grow sparser and sparser until we're in a part of the convention center that no one else is using.

I turn a corner in just enough time to see the cosplayer frantically look left, look right, and duck into a room. I hesitantly approach, and right in front of me is the sign for the women's bathroom.

This is insane. I’m going crazy. There are a million things that are that color. Miku’s blurry picture is not even close to evidence.

But with everything else that’s happened today…it can’t be a coincidence. It just can’t.

The bathroom is empty as I walk into it with cautious steps. Where did she go? She's nowhere to be seen.

I guess I need to stand here and wait...

As I slowly walk past one of the stall doors, it gently swings open, and a shadow moves from inside. Hesitantly, I approach.

I slowly push the door open.

In front of me, a tiny, half-naked girl with long, dark hair is frantically removing her wig and costume, digging into her backpack for a change of clothes.


The sound of my phone's camera breaks the silence.

Asako Senjuuin whirls around, covering up her bare chest with her arms just in time, looking at me with wide, terrified eyes and her mouth hanging agape.

Well, I've done it now.



"Hey there." The person I hate the most is right in front of me, defenseless. I can feel my lips curling into a sadistic grin.

Senjuuin shrinks into the corner, scrambling to escape, but she's trapped.


Off in the distance, pounding footsteps grow louder, and then I hear the door to the bathroom open and heavy breathing, then Saya's voice. "Kaede, there you are! Don't run off so suddenly...Ohhhhhhhh." She stops right next to me, in disbelief as to what she's seeing.


"Kaechan, give me back my phone-" Miku's panting voice and heavy footsteps follow, then they suddenly stop as a shadow crosses me from behind.

The look on the student council president's face is one of pure terror. She has nowhere to go.


It seems like an eternity, and then I speak. "You know, I have a lot of things I want to say to you, but I'll start from the beginning. I wonder what would happen if everyone knew that the Little Tyrant dressed up like anime characters? No one would ever be scared of you again. Everyone at school would laugh in your face- maybe even Nagahama and your minions would abandon you. And most importantly...I wonder what Mommy would think about your little hobby?"

She says nothing, staring back at me, frightened.

"I wonder what would happen if your personal information got out on the internet? I know what kind of guys follow you…weird, creepy ones. They’d get your name and address, and you’d get stalked. No one would help you, because everybody hates you. You wouldn’t want that, would you?"

Again, no response.

"I figured. So there's this guy in the first year named Ryou Shiritori who you've caused a whole bunch of trouble. He didn't do anything wrong other than getting in your way, but you decided to run crying to your mother and lie to her and thanks to her influence or money or whatever, he ended up getting suspended. I don't like arrogant people, and I don't like cowardly people. And I ESPECIALLY don't like people who play dirty. So here's what you're going to do. You're going to run back to Mommy and tell her that you lied, and then you're going to go to the school administrators and tell them the same thing, and then Shiritori-kun is going to have his suspension lifted. And if this doesn't happen...well, then the entire world will know exactly who Cocone Necoma is."

Once again, there's no response, other than her shrinking back further into the corner.

"I bet you’re figuring out that Kawano-sensei told me what happened." I can't stop. It feels almost...euphoric seeing Asako Senjuuin so helpless. "She did the right thing. If anything happens to her...this information is going out to everyone. And I'm not done. I should leave it at that, but you've really pissed me off. So in the future, if I see you or your goons harassing any students, or if you so much as step a single foot outside the student council room or do anything other than stamp papers for the rest of the year...then your life is over."

Everything is silent for a second. "I've said my peace. Have a great Comiket, Cocone."

It's at that point, when I turn to leave, that Asako Senjuuin starts crying. I mean, really crying. Sobbing, clutching at her bare chest, curled up in the fetal position, crying her eyes out.

I should feel bad. It should be dawning on me right now how many lines I've crossed that should never be crossed.

But considering who it's happening to...I don't feel bad.

I leave the bathroom feeling positively elated, walking down the hallway with a spring in my step, until Saya says, "Whoa. Scary."


"I didn't know you were capable of that."

"Yeah. So?" I shoot her a glare.

Suddenly, my phone lights up in my pocket, and I take it out. 30 minutes ago, Niichan sent me a message, and I didn't reply. He's definitely starting to worry.

I know what I'll do! I'll drop by his booth and surprise him! So what if Shiritori is there, and the other girl is too...I'm so happy that I don't even care at this point!

"Come on, let's go!" I motion to my friends as they stare at me with blank looks.

"Kaede, what's gotten into you..." Saya gives me a concerned glance.

"We're saying hi to Niichan!" I take off, quickly making my way back down the stairs, all the way to Conference Room W-5, where I push my way through the crowd straight to booth 138.

"Niichan! Sorry for not checking in with you! I'm fine!"

Suddenly, I realize that my brother is not there, and neither is Shiritori. Tora-kun is sitting at the booth, staring at me blankly, and behind him is the girl with the massive chest- Suzuki, was it?- who's clutching a sign, blushing pink.

"Kouga-san? Are you looking for your brother?" The muscular guy with the crew cut sitting at the desk finally speaks.


"Sorry. He went to use the bathroom."

Well, that was embarrassing.

Steward McOy