Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Bitter And Murky ❯ In No Particular Order ( Chapter 5 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
In No Particular Order


Every day after class my sister would walk the two kilometers from her school to mine, passing the high school students going the other way and onto the campus. She’d found a braided cord to attach her badge to that made wearing it even easier and the senseis got used to seeing her, waving as she passed onto the campus rather than give her a bad time. This is the power of a good personality.

I sipped coffee from my thermos, finding the bitter flavor a good counterpoint to the grand decision I am pondering. I can continue to study really hard and score yet more acclaim as the best student in the school. And I am the best. I surpassed the sempais, too. I am the best student. And I keep studying while others play games or socialize or suffer attraction to women who are going off to college after they graduate from Soubu.

My sister is popular and I have to remind her to study, but she does settle down and learn more geometry. We’re starting on Trigonometry, which is reasonably simple math, though it leads into wave forms and parabolas and gets into the eventual use of the dreaded Quadratic Equation, a formula with very limited value in the real world. Useful for graphing from polynomial equations, but not in ordinary life. And I’m in the position of having to teach this amazingly limited-value skill to a sister who will get very far in life by smiling at people and saying their names. When I smile at people they recoil, or sometimes act intimidated. It is amazing we have the same mother, with how people treat us so differently. This is sexual dimorphism in action.

There was a knock at the clubroom door.

“Come in?” called Yuigahama. The girly-boy trap entered.

“I need some help. I want to practice more for tennis but the rest of the team… they aren’t very good. I have noticed that Hachiman-sempai is good at tennis, so please practice with me!” he requested, big eyes. It is weird how much like a girl he is. I wonder if he’s the child of a single mom? Or maybe has older sisters?

“Yeah, okay. Let’s reserve the court and I’ll join you out there in a bit.”

“What, no complaints or objections?” demanded Yukinoshita with surprise.

“Why would I? I’m good at tennis,” I answered, shrugging. “You can come watch if you want.”

I went to the locker room and changed into shorts and tank top, then visited the PE coach on duty for the soccer team and got permission to use the courts and the key to the tennis equipment, grabbing a racket and a bucket of balls. They won’t be as bouncy as new ones, but good enough for practice.

“15-Love,” Totsuka called across the net. He served, I returned, he moved and returned the ball, I moved and returned it back getting out of position, and he managed to spike it into the opposite side of my court. My loss, his point.

“30-15” he called, then served again. I returned it and managed to get it below his reach.

“30-Love,” I answered. I served and he returned it hard, getting it past my own guard.

“Game,” he called out. He’d won twice now. One more and he’d have the match. As Totsuka is the tennis team captain I don’t feel like I’m losing to a nobody. He’s good at tennis. I’m merely adequate for the needs of PE. A crowd of riajuu arrived at the court entrance.

“Hey, we want to play, is that alright?” asked Smiley Hayato. He’d changed out of his soccer clothes and was escorting Miura, the drill haired gyaru. She’d been kind to Yuigahama so I felt a certain leeway where she’s concerned.

“Help yourself to the other court. The just return the balls and rackets by final bell,” I called out.

“Thanks,” called out Miura. They started a doubles match in the other court, proceeding to have a noisy but cheerful game. Totsuka and I continued our new game and I managed to win it. Totsuka’s eyes were a bit distracted by the bouncing gyaru Miura. To be fair, she did have nice looking flesh, as a young woman. I doubt she’ll stay this way once she gets married and has a kid. Baby Weight is an easy excuse to give up on looking good for your husband, and making yourself a fat pig. And most women did exactly that, because with a kid she’s got child support payments and a claim to half his earnings and savings for life. What’s he going to do? Divorce me? She threatens everything. And poor Totsuka is falling for the lure, the long supply legs, the bouncing bosom, the blonde curls of hair, the brief glimpses of an unmarred belly, no stretch marks yet. Once the baby comes, she’ll be wearing one-piece swimsuits after that. And next will be the varicose veins and the cellulite and thirty kilos of fat rolls. Its all bad news, but Totsuka kept staring.

“Let’s take a break,” I called out, walking off the court. I went to the drinking fountain and sipped water, then splashed my face to remove sweat stinging my eyes. It is very humid in Japan in the Springtime, and this is a warm day. My sister was chatting with Yoshi, while Yukino fumed for some reason. She did that a lot, actually. I get the idea she’s just not feeling good unless she’s angry about something. And I’m going to simply ignore her moods and not ask for specifics. If I care, I’ll get sucked into her worldview, which is probably about unfairness and how pretty she thinks she is and why everyone should just do what she says because she’s the third smartest student in the school. And that’s where the rant falls down, isn’t it? I’m the smartest in the school, and I don’t Lord it over the other students. I just study more. I’m following Nietzsche with that. I don’t need to brag or impress anyone. I’m doing this for me. And maybe that’s the right answer. If I continue I can make the choices, because I’ll have the position to make choices when the time comes. I might even find something good to do with all my education that will lead to finding a choice that lets me live a bit better than subsistence, and work in the countryside doing something that still gives me lots of free time, or enough that I’m happy. Something the opposite of these poor bastards shuffling paper for bosses that deserve to be mauled by vicious dogs.

Maybe I can learn about Sake. There’s a university in Tokyo that has a whole department dedicated to food preservation and brewing stuff like soy sauce and miso and sake. Or maybe learn about Whiskey. Suntory Distillery is making premium Japanese whiskey and bourbon. I wonder if that’s an interesting job? Everybody pays for Sake and probably whiskey if they can. Shochu for sure, as well. And of course there’s beer. Maybe a microbrew that makes actual IPAs? What is an IPA? I hear about them online from Americans. They swear by them for some reason. Maybe they’re delicious? I should find out. And I’ll keep studying so I can get to the point that when I go for a university that has a good food brewing program I can get in because I’m such a star pupil. Being a lawyer is for chumps, sorry Hayama. I’m sure you’re proud of your parents when you see them, but be serious. I want more time. Not more money.

Totsuka and Miura moved over to our court and started a game together. I stayed seated, watching them. She was good. Better than me. Hayama had an odd expression on his face. I think I might have had a similar expression when I watched Yoshi confess to Orimoto. A sense of both loss and relief that it wasn’t me getting my heart torn out. Huh. How interesting to see this from the outside. Hayama’s expression softened and he went back to chatting with his bros, and Ebina fountained blood again. Gross, really. I hope that the janitor gets extra pay for those cleanups.

“This is your win,” admitted Yukinoshita after a while.

“Win? Our client wins. He’s found a practice partner good enough to challenge him,” I answered.

“Ah, that too, I suppose,” she admitted.

“Niisan, can we go back to the clubroom now? I’m getting sunburned out here,” Komachi asked.

“Yeah, okay. I’ll meet you there. I need a shower,” I admitted. I wandered back to the tennis storage and put away my racket, then to the boys locker room where I showered and changed back into my uniform. The clubroom was subdued with the usual pointless conversation of the three girls and Yoshi tapping away on his laptop. Maybe he found some new dialogue inspiration.

I read a book on the history of Whiskey and its manufacturing process, from grain to wort to fermentation to distillation to aging in barrels, which seems really important to its eventual flavor and price. Tricks have been discovered using wood from Brazil and a vacuum pump to cycle the pressure through the aging process a thousand times a day, getting the chemical benefits without all the time. Considering I’ve never tasted whiskey, this is intriguing. This is an edge.

It was time to go home. We said our goodbyes and I walked down to the bicycle shed with Komachi.

“So this is where you store your steed? It looks so lonely,” she commented.

“The other bikes have gone home already. This place is normally full,” I answered. I unlocked it and backed it out, then we walked to the front gate. Komachi climbed aboard. I pedaled us home, and past several police cops that said nothing and noticed nothing. I guess they just don’t notice. There were several more box trucks racing by, and some more accidents involving them. This seems to just be one of those ordinary hazards they have in the world. Stuff happens and somebody dies and the cops come to take statements and call the meat wagon. While Japan is ostensible a Buddhist country, we’re actually even moreso a Shinto country, which is a religion that exists as an excuse to take kids to shrines and dress them up in small yukata and tell them ghost stories about magical rocks and fox people. It is all in good fun. And shrines are convenient locations for festivals, of which there are always some going on somewhere, usually within an hour’s drive or train ride. It keeps the Yakuza food stalls busy. So Shinto is for the kids. And Buddhism is for the adults, and death is just another chance for rebirth or something like that. If you’re a Buddhist. Probably. I still favor Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.

“We need some groceries. Lets go after we drop off our stuff,” urged Komachi. We did so, walking the two blocks to the store in foot. We’d have to carry the bags and this made more sense. We found the market busy with housewives and office oneesans and a few salarymen looking distracted. There was a sale on dumplings, which we ignored and were able to get our groceries and leave quicker for it.

Home again, washing up and started on cooking dinner.

“Your friends in the club are kinda odd,” Komachi commented.

“You noticed that too?” I asked. “I am wondering if they’ll get better being around other people or if they act that way out of a lifestyle choice.”

“They might get away with it, but I suspect their quirks are going to be limiting in modern Japanese society and work requirements,” Komachi said. Even for a middle schooler, Komachi is very bright. Her observation skills are usually good, though she might be sharper in the morning if she drank coffee and stopped forgetting her lunch at the school gate. Excitement to see her friends can only take you so far.

“Yoshi has brought his book under control, now that more people are commenting on it. When it was just me, he ignored my criticism. The girls are getting through. After what happened between him and Orimoto, I had doubts he’d be able to talk to girls again, but he has recovered. Yuigahama lost her dog to a car accident on the first day of school. I witnessed that from my bike, and she’s been an emotional wreck ever since. She’s starting to get better by talking to you, and there’s a gyaru in our class that’s been helping her,” I added. “The big problem remaining is Yukinoshita. She’s got a huge problem with jealousy, of her sister and me, apparently.”

“What sister?” Komachi asked.

“I haven’t met her, but apparently there is one,” I shrugged.

“Well, if you meet her maybe some things will become obvious.”

“I can only hope. A couple more minutes to simmer this sauce down and we can eat,” I announced. Komachi set the table and poured herself barley tea. I drank a large glass of water with ice and plated the food. We ate. It was good.

We cleaned up and then went to our rooms for study, play time for Komachi, and me to learn about distillery laws in Japan, license fees in the prefecture, operational costs and similar. I eventually got sleepy and turned in, thoughts of wort danced in my head.

The following school day was pretty ordinary, with more lectures and assignments. Club was soon interrupted by the arrival of my sister with news.

“Saki san is coming home late. I think it might be compensated dating,” she warned. This was met by blank faces before Yuigahama recognized the name, followed by Yoshi, who had a crush.

“Saki is in your class. She’s got the blue-grey hair?” Yoshi said, his own white-grey hair equally unlikely.

“Right. I recall now. Where is this request coming from?” I asked my sister.

“Ah, well, her brother is in my grade and we’re kinda… seeing each other.”

“You’re dating?” I confirmed. She blushed and nodded after a moment.

“I see. Bring him over for dinner and I can decide if he’s good enough for you,” I decided.

“So do you have any clues where she might be working? Unusual phone calls or similar?” I asked Komachi. She shrugs.

“I’ll ask Taishi if he has any ideas.” She got on her phone then and texted for a few minutes. We waited.

“I suppose this does qualify as a Service Club activity, since the student being helped is a student at Soubu,” admitted Yukinoshita grudgingly.

“Our club is slightly unconventional but we have the numbers to avoid getting kicked out of your room,” I reminded her.

“He said he answered the phone once and the person said they were from Angel something or other,” Komachi explained.

“Hmm. So an escort service is likely. Some kind of compensated dating, servicing middle aged businessmen after young high school girls to deflower,” decided Yukino out loud. I feel like I’m overhearing something from her private bookshelf. Yuigahama looked red with embarrassment and my sister raised an eyebrow. At the strangest times she’s unsurprised by very adult things. I worry about her browser history, and what she’s learning at the school for minions.

Yukino stood over Yoshi and directed him to begin searching for that keyword, including words like crime, club, escort, businessman, arrest, and similar. With each addition he grew more green with discomfort. The Angel Café came up, a maid café in that one street where the love hotels were around the corner in Chiba. It is a few kilometers away, and that is the sort of place that has special services, where a man with enough money can order the maid for a private service. If it really is that kind of business. The thing about maid cafes is they make their money by teasing a series of customers and getting them to buy the overpriced drinks and ome-rice with the ketchup heart she draws on it. It is cutesy, not full contact.

“What time does it close?” I ask Yoshi.

“8 PM,” he said.

“That’s not late enough. Could they be open secretly?” I asked. Yuigahama looked doubtful, and turned to Yukinoshita. She was calculating.

“This says they’re on the second floor. A back door might exist going into the love hotel alley. If only we knew a detective who could tell us,” Yoshi answered.

“Going there after closing time and looking at their electric meter to see if they’re still using lots of power after hours would be a way, but it’s a huge risk. We’d look like burglars, or Yankees, and might get arrested or beaten up or the girls might get cornered and dragged into a love hotel against their will, assaulted, and end up on the news or ignored by the police because this is Japan and its only rape if the girl is high status.

“I’m high status,” reminded Yukinoshita. I glared at her, then gestured to my sister and Yuigahama. “And?”

“I am volunteering not to do that,” said Yuigahama quietly.

“Me neither,” said my sister.

“There you have it. This is the Service Club, not the sex crimes club. Find another solution.”

“I found their hostess page. It’s got pictures of each of the girls. And Saki isn’t one of them,” Yoshi said.

“There, disaster averted. Any other Angel businesses in Chiba?” I asked.

“Well, there’s a bar called Angel’s Ladder at the Royal Okura Hotel,” Yoshi said. I whistled. High end luxury. The kind of place high status women went with high status men to show off how much money they have.

“I think that’s it. Their hours?” I asked.

“It’s a hotel bar. Open all night,” he said.  

“So, head there tonight and talk to Saki?” I asked.

“I’m busy,” Yoshi answered, sounding tired.

“I’m too young to get in,” said Komachi.

“I might, if I can borrow a slinky cocktail dress,” suggested Yuigahama.

“Come to my place at 10 PM. I have something that might fit my sister left there,” Yukino said.

“I’ll meet you at the street entrance of the hotel at 11:00 PM. Will that work?” I asked. They agreed.

Home, dinner, homework, nap, alarm, shave, aftershave, party suit from a wedding I went to for my cousin, and took a cab downtown. I hate to waste the money, but I can’t bicycle after dark, and the buses have already stopped. The girls arrived in the Toyota Century, stepping out and looking elegant and years older than in their school clothes. They looked appealing. I had to remind myself with my mantra to protect myself from women and marriage, that attraction is madness. I escorted them to the elevator with my best Yakuza look and noted the cringe by both girls when they smelled the aftershave.

“It’s burning my eyes,” complained Yukino. “Learn from this mistake, Hikigaya.”

They had a piano in the bar, and a woman in a sequined dress playing it. There was low light so people could see out the windows that covered the walls in most directions. The bar was on the top floor of the hotel with complete views over Chiba and across the bay to Tokyo, as well as the direction of Funland and the many night-time driving ranges and golf courses. Chiba had most of the golf courses in the region, so Tokyo executives could pay high fees and only rub elbows with other wealthy executives. My eyes searched the crowd for waitresses in very short glittering black dresses and white maid hoods and tiny aprons circulating. There weren’t many. It was a Thursday night, after all. There was an obvious police detective nursing a big glass of whiskey or bourbon, some politicians, a ship captain in dress uniform, probably from the port below, and various women looking tired and worn out. I regarded the bar mixing the drinks and found her.

“The bar,” I said quietly. We approached.

Saki took a moment to recognize us, passing over me entirely, but recognized Yuigahama first.

“Oh no,” she said.

“Cinderella is going to turn back into a pumpkin,” warned Yukino melodramatically. I feel like her private reading library is probably sixty years out of date. I wonder if she’s got the Criterion Collection for the 1940’s on DVD?

“Taishi is worried about you,” I said by way of explanation.

“And who are you?” she asked me.

“Hikigaya. I’m in your class. Your brother is… dating… my sister,” I managed to finally say.

“Oh. Oooh. I’ll have a talk with him,” she promised.

“I’ve asked Komachi to bring him over so I can get a look at him. If he’s too much of a pushover she’ll flatten him and that relationship won’t last,” I cautioned her. She looked confused.

“EH?” she asked.

“She’s genki,” I said by way of explanation. Her eyebrows rose then she got it.

“Ooh. Yeah, I can see how that would be,” she said after a moment of consideration. “I can’t quit this job. I need the money for school.”

“Cram school?” I asked.


“If your grades drop too much it will hurt your chances to get into most colleges. It is as least as bad as a poor test school on an entrance exam,” I said. “Many schools look at that. What are you planning to study?”

“I am interested in the ready-made clothing industry. I want to start a fashion company,” she said.

“That’s ambitious, and you’ll need your brain working fully for classes or you’ll never get in. Soubu has a lot of weight behind it. Maybe talk to sensei and see if there’s any programs or grants to pay for cram school?” I suggested.

“Maybe,” she said. I noticed she’d tailored her uniform and it fit her perfectly.

“We should talk again, maybe at school. Come visit the Service Club tomorrow.”

“I sleep after school,” she reminded me.

“Oh. Hmm. I’ll have my sister talk to your brother so we can figure things out,” I suggested. She nodded her agreement, then shooed us out.

We left without buying anything and the girls gave me a lift to my place. The Century is a really nice luxury car. Everything is perfect inside. It even smelled nice. They dropped me home and I showered off the terrible aftershave before going to bed. I woke early, too early, and managed to get to school without dying. I hate being short of sleep. My brain just feels so sluggish. Is this how normal people feel? Even coffee barely helped, staving off some of the fatigue poisons but not replacing the ones I need for actual function. It was a rough day. I managed to talk to Saki at lunch and introduce her to one of the senseis who dealt with grants and scholarships. They started talking about college majors and planning and I left them to it, getting some food down and more coffee. I don’t feel great, but I’m alive.

“Can we cancel club today? I need sleep!” I requested.

“Yes. Let's do that. Call your sister before you forget,” Yukino decided. I picked up my phone and then Komachi walked in.

“We’re going home, sis. Bro needs a nap,” I said. So we did.

Dinner was a quick thing, and I went to bed early. What a relief.