Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Bitter And Murky ❯ What Culture? ( Chapter 9 )

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


“You want me to what?” I said flatly, looking up from my book on Calculus. I was doing exercises in the second half the book. Quite a bit of cram school had been dedicated to Calculus and history. I now knew all about the various important persons of the previous 1000 years in Japan. And how to do differential equations, which is what you get when you use calculus on calculus to do calculus that’s been calculused. And it is simpler than it sounds, provided you understand calculus.

“We want you to be the class rep for the school culture festival,” insisted the nerdy class rep. I glared at him.

“No. Not only no, hell no!” I replied coldly.

“Oh come on, Hachiman. It will be fun!” he lied unconvincingly.

“I don’t care. I’m busy studying. Don’t think I don’t know you got extra money for this class budget because I’m the best student in the entire school. I know you did. Sensei bragged about it to me. So I’m not interested in your culture project. I won’t do it,” I answered. I returned to my calculus and tried to find the mental state needed to solve the very complex problem.

“Well, does anyone else want to try?” asked the rep. I am sure he probably has a name. I just don’t know it. All the popular kids were being lazy and calling out the nerds to take over the unwelcome job. Eventually they put forward the name of one of the second string girls, the one who’d been mean to Yui at the Obon festival. Sagami Minami. She was a bitch with more ambition than looks or talent could back up, so a typical climber. She was a parasite with delusions of adequacy.

“So that’s settled. Hachiman and Sagami will be our reps for the culture festival.”

“What!?” I growled. Several students near me froze and turned slowly at my tone. “I said no. Did I stutter?” He averted his eyes and left my name on the board.

“I swear on your graves I will make you all regret this,” I promised.

Sometimes the solution to ineffective school bullying really is to ignore it. In this case, the solution to others demanding I involve myself in their foolish festival required Hiratsuka sensei to drag me into her counseling cubical and remind me that I would need to comply with this obligation to receive her recommendation, a point that continued to be worth less and less the more effort and TIME I lost from studies that were worth far more. At this point I was still marginal for Todai, though I would scrape by for Chiba Institute of Technology, the Japanese Cal-Tech. We even built space robots there. We being Japanese. If I wanted the choice to go to the best college, then I still needed the best grades. My English has improved.

“Hachiman, being able to show positions of leadership in project management is worth a lot to college assessment boards,” Hiratsuka explained seriously. She wasn’t joking. I looked her in the eye and waited.

“Is it worth as much as missing a number of exam questions because I’m wasting time on this ridiculous three day event when I could be studying instead?” She flinched.

“Well, maybe they balance out,” she cautioned.

“Did you attend Todai, sensei?” I asked her. She glared back.

“Of course not.”

“Haruno was your student. Was she able to get into Todai?” I asked her. The fan twisted overhead. Other teachers struggled with grading papers, some making phone calls, smoking, angry and unhappy.

“Probably. There were political reasons for her to go to CIT,” Hiratsuka admitted, tapping out a cigarette from a pack and nervously lighting up. She took a long drag. Her ashtray was fully of crushed butts and grey ash. Seven Lucky Stars would likely give her cancer and ruin her skin into wrinkles. I’d read papers about how tobacco contains chemicals that destroy the elasticin in skin, which when ruined causes wrinkles. This is accelerated by sunlight, so sun and cigarettes is why the 1950’s housewives looked like pugs by the 1970’s. Such amazing irony.

“So what you’re saying is you want me to do this why? What are you prepared to offer me in exchange for this self-destructive and harmful act?” I questioned her, curious if she had morals or not.

“I can offer your name up for the Yukinoshita-Chiba-Ironworks Grant. That can be upwards of 50,000 yen a month in living expenses,” she finally offered. “Very few get recommendations for that grant, and it would be contingent on your attending CIT rather than Todai. The upside is it is here in Chiba and you wouldn’t have to leave home or abandon your sister.” I winced. That was a low blow. Still, that wasn’t something to sneeze it. It was at least as good money as working a part time job, and would give me the critical time required to focus on my studies. CIT had a fascinating major in applied hydraulics and heavy equipment manufacturing and design, which included training in structural engineering. I could build a better Backhoe, or a rice planting machine, or a combine harvester. There were many already, but Japan does lead the world in tractor and powered farming equipment for odd-shaped fields. We had to, since so much of Japan was mountainous.

“Fine,” I eventually said.

“Oh thank you. I was worried that Yukino would work herself to death alone. She’s the class rep for the International class.”

“Isn’t that more ambition than she has stamina?” I questioned.

“Probably. That’s why I need you there. She’s going to need your help. You have developed an interesting way to managing people.”

“I don’t like people, so I yell at them, you mean,” I corrected. She paused, then nodded sourly.

“Yes, that. It may be necessary in this case. You missed the first two meetings, so you aren’t aware but your classmate was elected the council president, with Yukinoshita as vice president. Sagami is president, and her handling of planning mostly consists of giving all the work to Yukino.”

“Sensei, is there some reason you aren’t having a conversation with Sagami about her behavior instead of me?” I asked seriously.

“I can’t blame her when you aren’t even there. That would show bias.”

“Really. That’s very convenient,” I responded.

“Show up, rescue Yukino, and get them working properly. Do that successfully and you’ll have my recommendation for that grant.”

I sighed, nodded my head and went to this ridiculous meeting on the student council chambers, a converted classroom with the tables arranged to either side below a double line of tables staring down like a court of law. A banner hung over the front announcing the 2011 Soubu Culture Festival Committee, which also conveniently covered the opening of Yukino’s skirt and any unpleasantness which could result.

Yukino’s eyes met mine a long moment, narrowing, then turning to regard my errant classmate, who was busy using LYNES on her phone. I found she’d placed her bag in the seat meant for me by the nametag. I lifted her bag and dropped it behind her, then lifted the phone from her hands, clicked the screenlock button, and placed it facedown out of her reach.

“Sagami. I realize you wanted to be here, but if I see you doing that again, your phone is going out the nearest window. Does my face offer even the slightest suggestion I am joking?” I asked, leaning well into her personal space with my Yakuza glare. She froze in fear, the shook her head no. I heard a giggle from some girl somewhere, but maintained eye contact. “You are currently the President of this committee. That means you need to personally do the majority of decision making work. If you are not willing to commit to that level of productivity, you are welcome to step down and be replaced by someone more capable. Is that what you’d like to do?” I suggested strongly. She froze, then nodded.

“Good. Sagami is stepping down. Who would like to be the council president?” I announced to the silent room, staring at us like I was a lion and they were gazelles. There are times when my looks are an advantage. This was one of them.

“Why not you?” pointed one of the boys from another class. I don’t know his name. Several others nodded agreement. They voted with the assistance of Yukino and I was suddenly in charge of this mess. I sighed, but at least Hiratsuka will be satisfied. I ascertained the situation with classroom projects, budgets, funding, rentals, paperwork, and opted to have the council retrieve laptops from the computer sciences department, created a project document and shared it to the staff members, classifying them with certain tasks, which they could all see the progress on and easily understand where the project was and where it was lagging. Instead of paper, it was online documents. We only printed and scanned things which needed hanko stamps, which I was in charge of, and only signed off when something was correct. This also removed a huge amount of stress from Yukino who became less tense as the minutes passed and I took greater control of this mess. After three days we were back on track for the coming festival and groups were assigned to tracking ordering and delivery of rental goods and materials needed for the decorations.

Two days before we took delivery of supplies and each classroom picked up their marked materials, began construction, and test fitting of costumes. The maid café being run in our classroom had Yui, Drills, and Kawasaki in maid outfits, serving food and tea to customers. Most of the class would be either in food prep, cleanup, or circulating in the school in shifts, so nobody got stuck too long and missed the rest of the festival.

“Thank you,” said Yukino quietly, as the festival unfolded on the day. There were a number of classes doing talent show displays on the stage in the gym. The light music club was playing Amazing Grace, for some reason, then Fuwa Fuwa Tymoo, followed by Paperclip, Erased, Hole Punch, which seemed to be strange names for songs, but I wasn’t that tuned in to modern music trends.

“For what?” I asked.

“For helping. I was about ready to quit with Sagami being so useless,” she admitted.

“Sorry that happened. I warned them not to make me do it, but they forced the issue. I was boycotting until sensei made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” I explained, watching the girls play.

“Was there a horses head involved?” she asked, joking.

“No, but I know why your sister went to CIT,” I answered.

“Ah. I see. Well, that’s not a bad choice for you, is it?” she said after a thought.

“It is convenient, and offers practical options for employment. It isn’t Todai, but I’m not that interested in working in Government.”

“You say that having bullied your way into the school government, and then successfully taking over a failing project and making it work… okay, so that’s generally considered a key skillset in government,” she admitted after a moment.

“And I still have time to study for exams once we clean up after the festival and get all the rentals returned. What is next on the calendar?”

“The sports festival, and then the school trip.”

“Are we going to Kyoto?” I asked.

“Of course.”

“That is such a cliché,” I complained. Yukino shrugged. She probably liked Kyoto.

Sometime later a band made up of sensei, Haruno, Yukino, and Yui sang a song called Be My Hero while Yui stared at me from the stage. I feel somewhat uncomfortable with this, because Yukino was also staring in my direction just as pointedly.

Must retain my calm. I am free. I owe no one anything. Selecting a college that happens to be nearby is not compromising my values or independence. It isn’t. Honestly.