Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Bitter And Murky ❯ Obon ( Chapter 8 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]


Cram school was a busy time. I became somewhat cranky, a point Komachi grew increasingly annoyed with.

“Niisan! Take a break. There’s an Obon Festival tomorrow. Take Yuigahama and get away from studying for an evening.”

For most women I find only contempt, but my sister gets to be my sole exception. I listen, because she is obligated to care about me, and has sufficient experience to understand who I am. She despairs but does not hate me as all other women do.

“Why should I take Yuigahama instead of you?” I asked, suspicious of the reason.

“Because I’m going with Taishi. If you don’t like Yui, then take Saki, or invite them both so they understand this isn’t a Date-Date and won’t get their hopes up. And make sure they know you aren’t doing this for romantic reasons. Yui has been double depressed this summer, and even working at the Frozen Yoghurt stand downtown hasn’t helped her get over her dog. Yukino isn’t around and she’s been messaging me. Take her out and show her a good time.”

“I see. You realize this is exactly the sort of obligation I avoid, don’t you?” I reminded Komachi. She glared back.

“Just do it to make the rest of your school year more pleasant. You don’t have to start a family. Just get out of the house for an evening. Tithe to the Yakuza and watch some fireworks,” she insisted, waving off my concerns.

Against my better judgement I invited both ladies to a club outing to the Obon festival, costume optional. I borrowed Dad’s old men’s Yukata/Haori combination and my comfy sandals so I could do that walking without getting terrible blisters and still fit the costume. Both ladies agreed and coordinated with each other on LYNES. We agreed to meet at the train station, though Saki lived up the street and joined me for a walk to the bus stop. I expect that Taishi will be walking my sister to school when it starts again.

“Are you ready for the exam on Monday?” I asked Saki after greetings.

“I think so. Any time I get exhausted by studying I work on my portfolio. It is required as part of the application process for the Onaka Arts college.”

“Does that help?” I asked her. She nodded. Saki is a woman of few words. A proper loner.

“You look really nice,” I said, to be polite. She blushed at the praise and averted her eyes.

“Um. Thank you,” she managed after a minute to get herself under control. I sighed internally. Now I’ll have to compliment Yui in the same way or I’ll be setting flags leading to eventual divorce and losing half my assets.

We got on the bus that arrived as expected, on time, and exited the station a short time later, meeting Yui. She was dressed nicely in another Yukata, with the correctly colored sash to indicate her relative maturity, marital status, availability, financial means… and you can get all that from a sash color, yes. My haori indicated single middle class, non-landowner. It was from when Dad was my age, before he married mom and because a paper-shuffling minion who rarely saw his own family.

“Good evening Yui. You look nice. Are you ready?” I asked her to be polite. She blushed less than Saki had, nodding, and we used our Suica cards to board the monorail, headed for the picnic grounds on Tokyo Bay. We stood together in the crowded train, and thankfully there were no groping incidents on the young women I was aware of. We exited with the crowd, headed to the festival. It was evenly divided between adults with kids in Yukata, teens in Yukata, Gyaru dressed like sluts, a few foreigners taking it in. We went to several stalls and someone called out to Yui. Saki and I stepped back to let them talk while buying takoyaki and cotton candy. Komachi and Taishi had left earlier so were probably here somewhere. When your city is a million people, you can get a pretty big Obon festival.

Saki grabbed my hand in the press of people as we tried to return to Yui, who was still chatting with some girls, three of whom I recognized from our classroom.

“Oh, Yui… are you on a date?” asked one, looking disgusted. Saki came to stand beside me, our hands entwined, proving this false. Saki looked like a supermodel, tall, slender, elegant, a proper Yamato Nadesico looking down her nose at these short and unattractive girls. Women love to insult each other, to jostle for social position.

“This is a Service Club outing. I bought your cotton candy, Yui,” I said loudly, handing her the treat. She looked relieved at the excuse, taking the treat and abandoning the girls measuring Saki and finding themselves lacking. Their faces showed anger rather than shame, because shame requires self-awareness. “Take my arm so we don’t get separated in this crowd, okay?” I offered my elbow. She slipped her hand around my arm and we easily drifted away from those jealous idiots.

“Sometimes I wonder why I try with them,” muttered Yui to herself.

“I think they probably wanted to go to the Minion school, but accidentally ended up at Soubu. Maybe they stayed because they thought they could babytrap a husband their junior year?” I suggested.

“As if,” muttered Yui. “Let’s find a quieter place to eat. I want to sit down. These sandals hurt,” Yui said. Saki spotted somewhere, tugging us behind her.

We climbed up to a more open area but found barrier ropes. Reserved for VIPs. I sighed.

“Yui-san? Is that you?” called out a certain big-boobed monster. I turned to regard Haruno, holding up the rope and urging us under it.

“Hikigaya-san? And who is this? Is this the legal one?” she teased. Saki’s hand tightened at her accusation. I stared back cooly.

“Thank you for inviting us to the VIP section, Haruno-san. How has the summer been treating you?” I responded, ignoring the taunt.  

“Greetings, Miss Haruno-san. I am Kawasaki Saki. Our siblings are dating, so Hachiman was kind enough to invite me to this Service Club event. In that respect, perhaps one day he will be my legal brother-in-law,” Saki answered. Haruno waggled her eyebrows.

“Legal incest? Kinky!” she teased.

“Haruno-san is Yukino’s older sister,” I explained to the baffled Kawasaki. “She is somewhat different in character, you may have noticed.”

“Ahahaha! Hachiman, that’s the sort of joke you make, is it? Can I offer you some sake?” she offered, gesturing to a quilt laid on the grass behind her. Prime seating. “I’m standing in for my family, who are unavoidably detained on business elsewhere.”

“We’re all underage, but thank you just the same. We haven’t heard from Yukino since the campout. Is she well?” I inquired. Yui looked relieved. Dealing with Haruno is slightly easier for a man, since her natural Alpha Female nature made her naturally hostile to polite Japanese girls and aggressively flirty with men. This is the upside to understanding female nature. I’ve read books about this.

“Oh, she’s been covering meetings and get togethers, learning the ropes of the family business so I could have a couple weeks vacation. You know how it is… or maybe you don’t? Ahahaha,” she laughed loudly again.

The girls seated themselves and Haruno opted to seat herself between me and Yui. She proceeded to chat with her about summer activities. Saki silently drifted on her own thoughts at my other side. There was a pop, then a flash of light in the sky.

“Ah, the warning shot so everyone can find a place to see,” sighed Haruno. “That means it’s almost over.” A few minutes of people rustling around and then the music on the PA rose and the fireworks started. It was pretty. It was a public display.

“Tah-mai-yah!” shouted some ladies in the crowd below. I smiled at the traditional cheer. That was the name of the best firework maker in old Edo. Eventually the flashes of color and bursts of light in the sky creschendoed and came to an end. The smell of Sulphur and metal oxides drifted on the breeze.

“Well, that was lovely,” said Haruno, sounding a great deal more sober. “Do you have any messages for my darling little sister?” she asked me.

“I have been enjoying cram school and hope she can provide suitable competition this year,” I answered. Haruno laughed.

“I am sure that will generate a suitable expression,” she agreed. We bid our farewells and joined the que to the monorail, the bus station, and eventually our homes. I put my leftover tamago-yaki into the fridge for bento tomorrow and showered before bed. The light was on in Komachi’s room so I let her be. She’d had a date, and was probably way to full of date-energy right now. I wanted sleep.