Chapter 69:

My School Life is Shockingly Peaceful (Yeah, Right).

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

Something's burning, dude.

My alarm's going off and the first thing I smell is something burning. Fuck, did Nee-san set the house on fire or some shit?

beep-beep-beep-beep-beep- Ah, shut the fuck up!

There. It's off.

Man, I hope there isn't a fire...I'm actually trying to get to school on time this morning...

I'm halfway down the stairs when I see the smoke. Fuck. This ain't good.

"Nee-san, what are you-"

I come around the corner to the kitchen and stop in my tracks.

Mom is standing in front of the stove, rapidly flipping chopsticks over a pan that's billowing smoke. She's not wearing a suit, either. She's wearing pajamas.

Shit, dude, whatever that is, it's burning. It's fucking burning bad, dude. Bad.

Mom turns around for a second, looking at me with wide eyes. "Ryou?"

That's when the smoke alarm goes off.

Mom turns to me with a panicked expression, holding the pan out towards me as it smokes like a chimney. There's something black in there. "Ryou, what do I do? Help!"

What the fuck do you want ME to do?! I can't cook!

A white blur flashes out of the corner of my eyes. "Mom, turn off the stove and open the back door! Hurry up!"

My sister looks like she just rolled out of bed and she's barking orders like a drill sergeant. Well, she looks like she just rolled out of bed because she obviously did. Dumbass Ryou. Next thing you know you're gonna be surprised that the sky is blue.

"Okay!" Mom frantically sprints out the door as soon as Nee-san flings it open, the smoke from the charred mass in the pan blooming behind her and the fire alarm still screaming. It feels like hours, but finally, they both stop and Mom trudges back inside, with a dejected look on her face.

What a way to start my first day back at school, dude. Fuck. My ears are still ringing.

Without a word, she flips the pan over, and a black lump of something slides out onto the plate sitting next to the stove. Whatever that is, it isn't food. Mom finally sighs dejectedly.

"Mom, what were you trying to do?" My sister's standing with her arms crossed over her long white t-shirt, with her back to me and facing the stove, pants. Her underwear's out there for the whole damn world to see. Nee-san, you fucking dumbass.

"I was going to cook breakfast for you two, but it started smoking and then I didn't know what to do..." Mom hangs her head like a dog getting scolded. It's almost comical.

"You didn't need to try and make fish if you didn't know how to." My sister flips her hair away from her face while she gazes at the charred lump on the plate. "I'd have been fine with eggs or something."

"These were eggs..."

Nee-san stares at what used to be food for another second before she finally grabs the chopsticks and starts fishing around in the refrigerator. "I'll show you what to do. First you take the egg and then you crack it in a bowl, and then you take the other egg..."

Today I learned that Mom is hopeless at being a housewife. My sister's giving her a lesson like she's a little kid in home ec class. No, I'm not kidding. My mom is so bad at cooking that she has to be taught by my dumbass sister who can barely spell her own name correctly.

Fuck, dude, it's already 7:10. The last thing I need is to be late to school the very first day after I promised Dad I would get there on time because Nee-san is giving Mom a cooking lesson.

I guess I can start "reforming" myself by doing this. "Hey Nee-san, you need any help?"

She whirls around and glares at me. "Yeah. You can help me by putting some pants on, stupid."

It's at that point that I look down and I realize I'm still in my fucking boxers.

Nee-san grins like a cat. "Heh, you're blushing..."

"Go look in the mirror, Pervy-nee-san."

She casts a quick glance down and then her smug smile gets replaced by a look of fright, and she dashes up the stairs. She's back in barely five seconds. She's not changed into her uniform or done her hair or anything, but she's got some shorts on now. At least, I think those are shorts. They're so short that they hardly count...but at least they're not her panties.

Ugh. Time to get changed, I guess. I swear, if Nee-san makes me late...

As I'm brushing my teeth, this time another aroma hits my nose. This one isn't burned stuff, though. It's nice. It smells really good, dude.

I'll take the guitar with me to school, too. I'm going to old man Mitsukoshi's place to return it after school, and It's not like anyone's ever had a problem with me carrying it around. Shit, it's actually pretty sad. I've had this guitar for long enough that it's starting to feel like it's actually mine, but Mitsukoshi Music is closing soon...what am I gonna do after this?

When I get back downstairs, there's a plate of food laid out for me at the table. It actually looks good. There's eggs and stuff and sausages and even a little piece of lettuce and tomato...I'm so used to meals in the fridge or from the convenience store that it seems kinda weird to have a normal breakfast like normal families do.

I wonder if Kouga's family does this...ah, who gives a fuck about Kouga?! I know he can be cool every now and then, but it's not like I wanna spend all my waking hours trying to be his fucking friend!

But...his sister's so cute...

I have to be nice to him or he'll kill me if I look the wrong way at his sister, dude...fuck.

"Are you impressed? I made all of it myself." My sister, who's still not changed or ready to leave, is standing at the head of the table triumphantly like she just won the world championship or expects a prize for cooking a basic fucking meal.

"...Yeah. Looks good." It's nothing special, but she'll kick me in the shin if I say that.

We're actually sitting down and eating breakfast like a normal family. This is bizarre. It's like I got hit in the head and warped into a parallel universe or some crazy sci-fi shit like that. I was used to an empty house for so long that I never realized how strange it really was.

I'm ready to go. Nee-san is not. So I stand there at the door for what seems like hours until she finally comes out with her uniform and bag.

"We're leaving!" Nee-san waves as we finally exit our house.

"Yeah, see you..." I'm not quite as enthusiastic.

"Ryou, do you have your money for the music store?"

"Yup. I'll drop by after school."

"See you later." Mom smiles as the door closes.

That actually feels...surprisingly normal.

We're down the street a little ways before I finally ask, "So why'd Mom and Dad make me have to walk to school with you? I was almost late 'cause of you."

She shrugs. "They wanted me to make sure you're not skipping."

"They're still making you do that?"

"Would you rather have Mom follow you to school?"

"Ugh. Fair enough."

"I don't mind it. I get to chat with my cute little brother," Nee-san grins as we turn the corner onto a larger street.

"Oi, don't call me little and don't call me fuckin' cute!"

Nee-san giggles. "That's what I mean. Anyway, read any good manga lately? You know Uruma-kun's getting a new season? I heard-"

There she goes again. She keeps babbling on and on as we pass by the rows of familiar houses, crammed close together like sardines in a can, as clouds drift lazily overhead and businesspeople, students, and old women walking dogs pass by us.

It feels like we've been walking for a while when I finally interrupt my sister. "Are you sure this is the right way? The school's in that direction. We're gonna be late."

"Of course it's the right way! I just need to make a quick stop." Nee-san smiles confidently. Yup, she's lost. She's definitely lost.

I'm about to pull out my phone and let Googol take the wheel when she stops in front of a decently-sized Western-style house with dark wood paneling around the door and a small black sedan in the narrow driveway nearby.

This place looks familiar-

My sister immediately barges through the front door without even knocking. "Haru-kun! Let's go!"

Should have figured. Should have fucking figured, dude. Fuck.

Kouga steps his skinny ass out the front door, squints in the sunlight, and the first thing he says is, "You're late."

"I had to make breakfast and wait for Ryou! Gimme a break!" Nee-san squawks indignantly.

Hey, I waited on you, asshole! Don't go makin' shit up!

"Responsible woman of the century," Kouga sighs as he slings his bag over one of his scrawny shoulders. "Do you want me to clap or something?"

"That would be pretty nice."

"No way in hell, idiot. Did you remember your lunch?"

"Ah...uh..." My sister nervously pats herself down.

"Called it. What a role model."

"Ugh! Baka-Haru. It's way too nice out for you to be salty!"

"I was having a nice day until you made me wait for fifteen-" Kouga, coming through the gate with my sister following closely behind, stops as soon as he sees me. "Oh...morning, Ryou-kun.."

"...Hey, Kouga."

...Fuck, this is awkward.

My sister's hopping up on guardrails and balancing on them while talking Kouga's ear off about this anime and that anime and he looks like he's getting his fucking balls twisted with a wrench the whole time. I sorta feel bad for him.

"...So we were using the soccer field to practice 100 m's since the guys were on the track, and I beat Captain Tanemura! She got turfed! Get it? Ahahahahahahahaha!"

"That wasn't funny..."

"So anyway, if you had to get isekaied, how would you do it? Truck? Train? Some guy summoning you?"

Nee-san switches from subject to subject, bouncing around like a chicken on crack, until we get to the school and go our separate ways. Whew. If I had to listen to that all day, I'd probably go insane and end up in the cell with all the padded walls or something like that. Kouga's got it rough.

It's a normal, boring day. We go and sit in an assembly while the headmaster says something and then Koike gets his balding ass up there and goes on and on about the importance of diligence and hard work and stupid shit like that and then Napoleon drags her tiny ass to the mic and says absolutely nothing of importance and then we go to class and do absolutely nothing the whole day. I just sit in class, eat my lunch, keep sitting in class, zone out while the teachers drone on and on, and then the bell rings and it's time for all the losers in clubs to go there and for me to go home. And nobody bothers me. Not even the Little Tyrant and her goons. I haven't seen them anywhere. It's a completely boring, ordinary day.

Man, I could get used to this.

The second after I slide the door to my classroom shut and head to leave, trying to pick my way through all the little clumps of people hanging out in the hallway, a voice comes from around the corner. "Sorry, move! Move!"

Another voice, exasperated, follows. "Komichi, wait...I'll help you..."

"I've got this, Azumaya! Don't worry-"

Then, as I turn the corner, a massive stack of papers explodes into my face, and the girl behind them, with her hair balled up on the side of her head, falls right on her ass in front of me. There's printouts everywhere. It looks like something exploded.

"Komichi!" Another girl frantically runs up to her friend's sprawled-out body.

That was a pretty nice flop. 10/10 for technique.

Well, not my problem. Gotta head over to Mitsukoshi's-

"Hey, you!"

She's not talking to me. Just keep moving...

"You! Ryou Shiritori!"


When I turn around, the pint-size little girl is marching down the hallway straight at me as her friend frantically picks up the papers.

"Uh, can I help you?"

"Someone falls right in front of you and you turn around and walk away?" the girl fumes. "You're the worst!"

"Excuse me? Do I know you?"

"Are you kidding me? I'm Michiko Kasukabe! I sit behind you in class!"

Damn it. My day was going so smoothly until this. I really don't have time to deal with another tiny, annoying nitpicker getting all up in my business.

"So what do you want?"

"For you to help me and Azumaya pick the papers up, obviously! Since you ran into me!"

"Huh? It's the other way around!"

"Komichi, it's fine..." the other girl moans, resigning herself to picking up the papers.

"I've got somewhere to be. See ya."

Did she hiss like a cat? Holy shit. That's actually funny as fuck. I'm not gonna stay and laugh, though. I just want my day to be quiet.

The walk to Mitsukoshi Music is short. I've been here every day for weeks, and the small store that smells of resin and coffee feels more like a home than home at this point. But in not too long, it'll be closed for good. Damn it, I'm getting kinda sentimental thinking about this. Old man Mitsukoshi's so nice, and he's a good teacher...what am I gonna do afterwards? What is this place gonna become? A convenience store? A bookstore?

The familiar jingle of the doorbell greets me, but old man Mitsukoshi is nowhere to be found. Maybe he's just in the back. He tends to do this.

There are already fewer instruments lining the walls than there used to be- instead, there's empty brown particleboard.

"Mitsukoshi-sensei?" I hesitantly take the money out of my pocket. "You here?"

That's when I hear the screaming coming from the back.

Not even a second later, my big bros come busting out from behind the black curtain, looking like they've had a close encounter with the Slit-Mouth Woman or some shit.

"Acchan? Tanakan? What are you doing-"

Acchan looks like a girl running out of a haunted house at the cultural festival. It's almost comical. "Ryou, get outta here! This bitch is crazy!"

"Run, Lil' Bro!" I swear Tanaka's whiter than fuckin' Calpis. "Run! If she catches you, you're dead!"

Then, the curtain opens again, and a sandaled foot pops out, followed by a hand carrying a half-empty jar of the cheapest sake out there, and then another hand, and then the rest of that weird drunk lady from Tokyo.

"Friggin' kids messing with my stuff..." Yuyu Shibuya takes a massive swig of her drink with a sour expression on her face.

Then I notice the guitar that she's dragging behind her. She's holding it by the neck. Shit, she actually might swing on my big bros.

"I'll kill you brats...Oh, hey, kiddo! I didn't expect you'd be here today." Suddenly, her face lights up. "Could you move for a sec? I'm about to turn these idiot kids into chunky salsa and I don't wanna get you by mistake."

"Whoa, hold on! These are my friends!" At this point, Acchan is cowering behind me. Shit, dude, you're four years older than me, grow a fuckin' spine. And I see you about to turn tail and run, Tanaka, you fucking dumbass.

"Your friends?" She takes another swig of the cheap sake. "These good-for-nothing kids? The ones who were messin' with my instruments?"

"Yes, they're my friends! We're in a band together and Mitsukoshi-sensei lets us use the store for practice!" Please, crazy lady, back off.

"Seriously, kiddo, you gotta get better taste in friends." Finally, the crazy drunk relaxes her grip on the guitar, dropping it down. "Maybe Mitsu might have let y'all run wild in here, but I'm not. I'm running a store, not friggin' Make-A-Wish."

"Wait just a minute." I hope she didn't say what I think she just said. "What do you mean you're running a store?"

"Mitsu didn't tell you?" She takes another drink. "The store's under new management."

"Don't tell me you-"

I'm cut off by the sound of the bell as the door opens. Then, from behind me, I hear Shige's voice before I turn to see his large frame filling the doorway. "Miwa-nee?"

The drunk lady springs over to him so fast, it's like she teleported. "We don't do that here, kid. That's Yuyu Shibuya to you," she says with a gritted-teeth smile.

"O-okay..." Even Shige looks unnerved. Man, this chick is scary as shit, dude.

As Shige enters the store, his grandfather shuffles in, long white goatee and all. "Ah, this store is so lively again. It's warming my old bones." He stops as soon as he sees the standoff currently unfolding. "Shibuya-san, why the tense face? Is there a problem with the inventory or something?"

"You didn't tell me about these idiot punks." She gestures at Tanaka and Acchan, who are still backing toward the door. "They come in here and one of them grabs a bass and starts sounding like a dying cat and the other one gets a drum set and starts hitting it like he's trying to fight it. What the hell kind of store were you running?"

Old man Mitsukoshi chuckles wryly. "Are you referring to Atsushi-kun and Tanaka-kun? They're friends of Shigehiro and Ryou-kun. They expressed some interest in learning how to play after Ryou-kun started, so I've been letting them use the back to practice. It was rough around the edges at first, but I think they're fully gelling as a band now. I hope you didn't get the wrong first impression, Shibuya-san. They may not look like it, but they're all good kids."

"You gotta be kidding me, they were tellin' the truth..." Shibuya takes another long swig of her cheap cup sake, then holds it up, shakes it and frowns. "Already out. I need another drink. Hold on."

We all stand there in confusion while she fumbles behind the counter and comes up with a beer in a shiny silver can, cracking the top vigorously. "Ahhhhh, much better!"

Acchan was right. This lady's fucking nuts. I didn't realize just how crazy she was when we first met, but she's completely off her fucking rocker.

"Mitsu, I hope you were making some money off these kids, at least," Shibuya says as she saunters over to us, drinking the whole time.

"Since they were friends of Shigehiro's, I let them borrow the instruments for free," Mitsukoshi-sensei says with a chuckle. "It's not like anyone else was using the practice rooms anyways."

"And you wonder why this store was going outta business."

Old man Mitsukoshi nods. "Thank you for agreeing to take over the store, Shibuya-san. I would have hated to see it closed, even if I am getting too old to run it."

"I got my work cut out for me with these punks..."

"Wait a minute, Mitsukoshi-sensei!" Please, God, please let me have misheard what he just said. If this store is being run by this fucking drunk, we're all in trouble. If she can't take care of herself, how the hell can she take care of a store that sells hundred-thousand-yen instruments? "Shibuya-san is taking over the store?"

"You got carrots in your ears or something, kid?" She takes another drink of her cheap beer. "I've said it like twice. I guess I gotta make it as clear as I can. Mitsukoshi Music's new owner, Yuyu Shibuya. Which means we're gonna be working together. Let's all get along~"

You gotta be fucking kidding me, dude.

"Shibuya-san offered to take over the store when she found out that I was retiring, so I sold it to her. I really am glad she stepped in. The store was my life's work, so knowing that it'll stay open means that I can retire a happy man."

"This place sure beats Tokyo." The drunk takes a look around the interior of the store that she apparently, by some act of God, now owns. "Sure, the drywall is cracked in three places and the back hasn't been cleaned since 1972 and there's coffee stains all over the place and I have exactly ¥612 in my bank account...but at least I legally own the place. I was kinda...squatting in Tokyo. Oh well. I didn't get caught." She takes another drink with a smile.

"Well, since it looks like you're settled in, I suppose I can leave these young men in your hands, Shibuya-san." Mitsukoshi-sensei turns to go for the door. "It pains me to do this, but it looks like it's time to say goodbye to this store for the final time."

Oh, fuck, the money! "Mitsukoshi-sensei, wait!" I quickly hold up the wad of bills to him. "My parents gave me this so I could pay you back for everything you've done to help me."

He gives the wad of cash a quizzical look, then a gentle smile forms on his serene old face. "Ryou-kun, I don't need that. Getting to see all of your passion for music was all the payment I needed. Now, I'll be on my way. See you later, everyone."

"Wait, Sensei, don't go-" Suddenly, as the bell on the door rings, the money is snatched out of my hands.

"Ten...twenty...thirty...forty...fifty...whoa, sixty thousand, not bad!" I whirl around to see the crazy drunk lady holding my money. "Go ahead, kid, the back's all yours."

"What the fuck, lady?! That money wasn't for you!"

"Listen, do you wanna keep practicing here or don't you? You're getting a pretty good deal. Sixty thousand for lessons and a rental is cheap."

"Ugh, I guess..."

"Then the back's all yours, like I said. Just remember, Mitsu may have let you practice for free out of the goodness of his heart, but I ain't Mitsu. Listen up, brats-" she shoots a glare at Acchan, then Tanaka, then Shige- "the next time I see you, it better be with money. If you bring it, I'll turn you into the greatest band that ever lived. But you better not come through this door without the cash if you value your kneecaps. Capiche?"

Oh, fuck. My poor big bros.

It's been five minutes and I already miss Mitsukoshi-sensei.

Steward McOy