Saturday, December 31, 2016

Yokaishiteru! Chapter One

It started on a stormy night.  Now, that was a cliche, but not exactly for this genre; Since when did school idol stories start on stormy nights?  Usually, those were reserved for mysteries, and horror.  Yet, that was how the story began nonetheless.  The storm was fierce, and rain smacked against the windows of the school known as Korekara Academy.  There was no school that day, seeing as it had been cancelled for a few days following winter break after the discovery of a body on the school grounds..  It was an unusually warm winter, but the halls of the academy felt colder than anything.  The coldest room by far, despite the number of candles proving a massive fire hazard, was the Occult Clubroom.

Every member of the occult club, as it stood, was in that room, working to perform a ritual.  Chigau Ko, Yoshiko Nishimura, Sachiko Ryuunosuke, and Victoria Jean had a common goal in mind.  The body which had been found belonged to a friend of theirs… A friend of everybody’s.  Her name had been Box Hako, and she was a martyr.  That was the only suitable way to describe her.  She’d returned to school after a period of hospitalization, solved everybody’s problems, then died.

Each member of the occult club attributed something to her; each one of them felt alone in the world until she came along and taught them that even if the world around them had no place for these oddities, they had their own world.  The club members who didn’t speak to each other despite their common interest in the occult learned that they could find solace in each other.  The world denied them, but even with the differences that made them clash, they could build their own world here in this room, and Box would be there to help them. Or so she said until she turned up dead…

But she had friends in low places, hence why the club was gathered around the giant shoddy pentagram they’d drawn on the floor, pooling their dark energies to do anything they could to bring her back.  Surely, they could do it if they worked hard enough; the club had already summoned a demon once, then for good measure brought that demon’s ex-human girlfriend back from the grave.  If there was anything to be done to get Box Hako back onto the mortal plane, these were the people to accomplish it.

Despite those credentials, even they couldn’t do it.  It was with heavy hearts that the occult club of Korekara Academy stared at all they’d accomplished; summoning a cat.  Was it an undead cat?  A demon cat?  That much, they didn’t even know.  All they knew was that it wasn’t Box Hako, and their hopes were dashed. Nobody stuck around to determine the feline's true nature.  However, for that cat… Its hopes were just beginning.


“All right, class,” The homeroom teacher for Korekara’s only first-year class spoke at the front of the room, standing behind her desk half-asleep.  Despite being considered a prestigious school, Korekara didn’t have the best faculty; most of its value came out of the incredible students which attended.  The occult club was not the only one which accomplished amazing feats, “Third trimester has officially begun, and there are two transfer students arriving.”

Murmurs erupted around the classroom at the number.  Korekara’s first years were expecting the arrival of somebody who had been the subject of some rather unsavory drama that Box had accidentally dug up during the semester she spent helping people, but nobody else.  Thus, the normally tuned-out students hung on every word from the teacher, though she ended up just motioning the students in.
Momoko Watanabe

“Hello…” The first student wandered in, the one that everybody was expecting.  She looked half-asleep as she stood there, cardigan thrown over her school uniform in a somewhat contrasting yellow pastel.  She raised a hand while yawning, “It’s nice to meet you all… My name is Momoko Watanabe,” A goofy grin crossed her face as the yawn finished, “The real one.  The one you knew before, her name’s Izuna Nanako!  I understand if it confuses you a bit, I won’t hold it against you… If it’s too confusing, you could call me Momo-chan… I look forward to getting to know all of you,” She made eye contact with Izuna in the back of the classroom, “I don’t believe I’ve ever met any of you before…”

With that, she tucked her hair back behind her ear and wandered off to take an open seat around the middle of the classroom, setting her bag down beside her chair before she promptly fell asleep on her desk.  All of Momoko’s new peers turned to look at the front of the classroom again as the other student stepped up, hands on her hips.  She too wore a cardigan, though hers was black and matched the uniform much better.  What stood out most about her, however, was her eyes.  They were a piercing shade of red.

Kamui Tori

“Hi there!” She beamed as she greeted the class, “I’m Kamui Tori, and I’m very glad to be joining your class!  I’m new to the area, and I hope that you all will allow me to befriend you, though I understand if we just don’t end up getting along!  Also, I’m thinking about starting a School Idol club here at Korekara Academy, so if anyone would like to join, just let me know!” Her smile got even wider with this, “Anybody in the school is welcome, so let’s all become friends!”

Kamui was met with blank stares from the classroom, but her cheerfulness didn’t fade as she bounced to the back of the room and took a seat, folding her hands on the desk in front of herself with that grin still from ear to ear.  The classmate to her right was giving her a look of scrutiny.

“Say…” Aforementioned classmate leaned towards her, eyes narrowed almost to being closed, “What was it that you said your last name was again, Tori-san?”

“Eh?” Kamui tilted her head, blinking with her smile turning to a confused one, “If you’re addressing me by my last name, why are you asking me what it is?”

“I just… Wanted to be certain…” This girl answered, her voice low and raspy, a bit… off, “So, I have to ask you… Have you got any siblings… Tori-san?”

“Yes, actually!” Kamui nodded, pressing a finger to her own chin, “I have three, and I’m the youngest!  There’s Yamiko-nee, then Riku-nii, and Kiru-nee is the oldest.  How did you know?”

“Because…” This classmate, who Kamui noted from the nametag on her desk was named Yoshiko Nishimura, let a sickening grin split across her face as her fingers twitched in a stiff, clawlike position, “I’m the one who summoned Yamiko Tori to this realm!” She cackled, then lowered her chin with a malaise aura seeming to surround her, “And it seems that the occult club has succeeded once more… What at first seemed a simple cat, was actually a bakeneko…”
Yoshiko Nishimura
“Huh, you sure are smart!” Kamui giggled, spreading her smile again to show off sharp canines, “I knew it was bound to be a little obvious to experts, I never was as good at disguising as my older siblings… It was the teeth that gave away my subspecies, yes?  Try as I might, I just can’t ever seem to hide them… Oh well!”

“Wh-” Yoshiko’s frightening demeanor turned to surprise, “Y-you aren’t even freaked out at all by the fact that I know what you are!? Even that morose sister of yours started panicking when I called her on being a shinigami! And it was not the teeth it was the fact that I summoned. A cat. And then you show up, red eyes, mysterious...

“Why would I be?  I really don’t feel like hiding from anybody…” She turned to stare at the front of the classroom, where the teacher was… asleep on her desk?  Well, at least she wouldn’t be getting in any trouble for talking, “I was thinking it could really be a staple of our idol group, if I transformed onstage!  That gimmick could bump us up at least a few ranks, and it isn’t as if Japan’s not well-acquainted with yokai already… I mean, the number of humans coming through Ura town these days!”

“Japan isn’t well acquainted with yokai!” Yoshiko protested, grinding her teeth, “Very rarely can any occult club succeed in a ritual, but Korekara’s has now summoned two yokai and a ghost, which must be some sort of world record so you should be impressed… but, regardless, just because there’s a lot of documentation from occultists like me, doesn’t mean that the general populace has any idea…”

“Oh,” Kamui shrugged, “Well, I guess that I’ll just have to acquaint them, then!  Say… Would you like to join my idol group, Nishimura-chan?”

“Of course not!” Yoshiko shrieked, but no heads turned.  They were used to her, “My dark desires are far too dark to take such a bright stage!  I resent the very idea!”

“Oh, well I just thought I’d ask,” Kamui shrugged, “If I’m not mistaken, it’s shockingly difficult to get teenaged girls to join idol groups when you single out certain people, so everyone’s a candidate.”

“Maybe you should consider being a bit more picky.  Inviting people who have no suitable qualities… I mean, would you invite your sister, who looks like death incarnate?” Yoshiko questioned, grimacing, “Everyone would wonder how you’re getting a corpse to dance.”

“I would invite my sister!  She is death incarnate, she doesn’t just look it!” Kamui insisted, puffing out her cheeks, “If she was at this school!”

“She is at this school, idiot,” Yoshiko rolled her eyes, leaning forward on her hand, “She’s a second year in Class 2B, and she hangs out on the roof after school.  Knock yourself out.  Have fun with that whole… disaster.”

“It won’t be a disaster!” Kamui stood up and pushed her hands against Yoshiko’s desk, “Nishimura-chan!  You misunderstand me!  I don’t want to make a school idol group with the goal of doing well, I want to do so with the goal of making friends, and making meaningful bonds!  That’s why anyone is welcome, even if they can’t sing, or can’t dance, or aren’t even charming! Success will be if we're able to shine together as friends, not if we win any competitions!”

“Good luck with that…” Yoshiko sighed, “Just please, don’t go bursting into any classrooms, okay?  Wait till school’s out to go messing around with other students… If you cause too much trouble then the occult club will blame me.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Kamui noted, “After all, trouble I cause is my own fault…”

“Yeah, but it’s mostly my inner darkness which fuels our rituals, so you’re my responsibility…” She shrugged, “Whatever.  Just… don’t go destroying any cities till after graduation, kay? Even a paragon of the void like me wants a high school degree.”

“I’m not going to be destroying any cities, period…” Kamui trailed off, her pep fading a bit as her confusion mounted, “You are a very odd person, Nishimura-chan…”

“So I’ve been told,” Yoshiko groaned again, “I just like to consider myself a realist.”

“Well, it was nice talking to you, but I think I’ll try and meet some of our other classmates too!  There’s only one first year class, right?” Kamui questioned, tilting her head.

“Yeah,” Yoshiko nodded, “I think so anyway.  Can’t say that I know for sure, but as far as I’ve heard there’s one third year class, two second year classes, and one first year class…  If you can get a group put together out of an invite-only high school for troubled girls, then kudos to you.”

By the time Yoshiko finished talking, Kamui was already up and about, first approaching a girl with frames on her glasses which matched the red accents of the school uniform; a fashionable look, so wouldn’t a fashionable girl want to be an idol?  “Hello!  It’s nice to meet you!”

“...Tori-chan, was it?” The girl questioned, looking up from her desk where she’d been writing calligraphy in a notebook, “Nice to meet you too.  I’m Ayano Ueda, and I’m afraid that I won’t be joining your idol group, but I would like to get to know you anyway.”
Ayano Ueda
“Oh, wonderful!” Kamui clapped her hands together, then crouched to be more level with Ayano, “What are you writing, Ueda-chan?  It’s quite pretty… It’s not a ward, is it?”

“A ward?” Ayano questioned, then shook her head, “No, I don’t do charms or wards…” For a moment, her mood seemed to drop, only for her to cheer up again with her next words, “Right now I’m working on a commission for somebody, actually.  Song lyrics in calligraphy, there’s a lot of people who like this sort of thing.”

“Oh!  Where do you find those people?” Kamui asked, leaning on the desk, “That’s really cool!  How much would it cost to have you do that for songs once Korekara’s idol group gets started?”

“Honestly?” She shrugged, “It’s not hard and doesn’t take me very long, I do it on a website where everything’s priced at 500 yen, so for you I’d do it for free… If you’ll let me into your concerts at no charge.  Now if you wanted me to make you a forgery it’d cost you, but this?  Simple.”

“Whoa, you do forgeries, and calligraphy, and you’re fashionable?  You’re an amazing person, Ueda-chan!” Kamui grinned, “Will you really come to our concerts?”

“Of course I will, I love idols,” Ayano shrugged, holding her pen to her lips as she gave the ceiling a vacant stare, “I just couldn’t be one myself.  Though… Can I give you one condition?  My girlfriend’s a third year, and was on track to be a solo idol until some things went wrong, so if she wanted to join, could you let her?”

“Obviously!  I already said everyone is welcome!” Kamui giggled, putting her hands on her hips, “You are too of course, if you change your mind!”

“No, I couldn’t!” Ayano gave a sheepish smile, “If I was in it, then there’s no way you’d get any other members… I’m cute, but I’m a bit frightening to most people!”

“Frightening?  Why?” Kamui questioned, furrowing her brow.

“Because she was the Vagrant Killer,” Another girl answered, leaning over from her desk.  Kamui took a quick look at the nametag to determine her name was Chigau Ko.
Chigau Ko
“Ko-chan!” Ayano protested, “She didn’t need to know that!”

“What’s a vagrant killer?” Kamui questioned, tilting her head to the side, “Sounds like an antihero.”

“Pretty much,” Chigau lifted the front legs of her chair off the ground, “And also, super cool!  When she was at large, everyone thought she was kind of cheap to be killing people that ‘nobody would miss’ till they realized it wasn’t homeless people specifically, but people who were in that situation because they hurt others.  Especially when she killed that lolicon schoolteacher!” She cackled, “It’s even more impressive that she was just a middle schooler!  Say, why’d you ever stop?  The last folks you killed were… the Ruka family, yes?”

“...The majority of the Ruka family,” Ayano muttered, staring down at her desk to let her hair hide her face, “Ko-chan, murder isn’t cool.  It’s why I don’t have friends now, after all, and also it’s not technically a good thing to do, so please stop acting like it is. And stop telling everyone! If you run your mouth then soon enough it won't just be our classmates who know...  Anyway, that’s not important.  It’s a part of my past and does not reflect who I am.  I still wish that Haruhi-san hadn’t uncovered it, but there's nothing to be done about that now.”

“...” Kamui stared for a moment, then let her grin spread even wider, “Whoa!  That’s… amazing!  You’re like Dexter!”

“Who…?” Chigau questioned.

“It’s a television show about somebody who wants to kill people, but makes sure to only kill people who should be killed!  It’s really awesome!” Kamui clasped her hands together, looking up at the ceiling, “And you’re just like him, but with the added benefits of being a cute girl, and being able to undergo a redemption art in recovering from your addiction to murdering!”

“Yeah, Ueda-chan?” Chigau noted, “Don’t think you’ll have to worry about this peer avoiding you.  Tori-chan, you’re that demon my club summoned, right?”

“Ye!” Kamui nodded with a halfway-there sound of agreement.

“Can we fight?” Chigau asked, eyes wide, “I’ve always wanted to fight a demon, but your sister is such a nerd, and hitting a nerd proves no strength!”

“Huh?” Kamui tilted her head, “But Ko-chan, surely you’ve had plenty of opportunities before?  I’ve seen you around Ura Town before, unless that was a doppelganger…”

“No, I do go to Ura Town!  But it’s for work!  I can’t really go starting fights when I’m at my part time job, see…” Chigau waved her hands in front of herself, frayed edges of the bandages fluttering, “School is different, though!  I can fight at school!”

“Where’s Ura Town?” Ayano questioned, looking up again.

“It’s demon stuff!” Kamui answered, “Ura Town is one of the areas in the demon world that humans can freely come and go from.  That is, if they know how to get there!  I love Ura town!”

“Excuse me…” Another voice started, a low drawl from behind that was almost a whine.  Kamui turned to see none other than Momoko standing there, “Hi, Tori-chan.  I’m small and pathetic, and I fall asleep at random times, and there are people who’ve seen me in very unfortunate situations.  I’m really not much like an idol at all, but… I’d like to join, if you’d let me…”

“Absolutely!” Kamui exclaimed without hesitation, throwing her arms into the air.  Moments later, another classmate spoke, stepping up to Momoko’s side.

“If Momoko-tan is joining, then I am too,” She smiled, holding her hand out, “I make bad decisions and cry at the slightest provocation, but I’d join too if you’d have me.  Izuna Nanako.”
Izuna Nanako

“...Nevermind,” Momoko muttered, turning away and crossing her hands over her chest, “Sorry to disappoint you, Tori-chan, but I now realize that becoming an idol would be a terrible idea…” She lifted her head to look at Izuna and narrowed her eyes as the other started tearing up over the change, “Suck it up, buttercup.”

“Momoko-tan…” Izuna trailed off, then covered her face and ran out of the classroom completely, leaving Kamui’s blank stare alone but for its fellows belonging to Chigau and Ayano.

“Well, looks like you’re back down to one member.  Yourself,” Chigau shrugged letting a smirk come over her face, “I’d join, but I’m just so busy working in Ura town, mingling with demons much cooler than you…” She dropped her hands, but kept the smirk up, “I’ll join if you can beat me in hand to hand combat!”

“...I seriously doubt that I could win, so I’m still not going to fight you,” Kamui noted, turning her stare on Chigau, “Let me know if you were planning on throwing that fight, though.”

“No, not in the least bit,” Chigau’s playful look turned stone-cold serious as she shook her head, “I’m afraid that my high school goals don’t include being popular, I had enough of that in middle school.  And I was confident I could beat you.  Sorry, Tori-chan.”

“What are your high school goals anyway?” Kamui questioned while Ayano picked up her notebook and moved elsewhere in the room, being lost among all of the ‘demon’ conversation and mumbling something about the two of them needing Jesus.

“Isn’t it obvious?  I want to fight stronger and stronger opponents, until the day comes that none dare to challenge me!” Chigau jumped up to stand on her desk, tossing her hair back, “I will become the strongest!”

“Couldn’t you just accomplish that with a healthy mix of steroids and exercise?” Kamui questioned, leaning on the desk Chigau was standing on with her chin in her hands, innocent and pure.

“Not that type of strength!  I just want to be the best fighter, so good that I can take down really buff people and skilled martial artists alike!  I want to defeat a sumo wrestler at my pathetic, waifish teen girl size!” She flexed, showing off that she wasn’t exactly as waifish as she claimed, “That’s why I’m working in Ura Town, you see!  Becoming strong, that’s what my contract is for.”

“Oh, I see,” Kamui nodded, “If only somebody from this school was contracting to become the best idol of all time…” She gave a wistful sigh.  Contracts with demons weren’t quite the dramatic affair that media made them out to be; it was just like a contract for any other job, but the payment was something a bit more unique than money.  Intelligence, strength, success, those sorts of things.  Likewise, nobody was out there asking mortals for their souls-the jobs were usually things like providing demon grocery stores with dreams, or blood, or whatever else demons ate that humans could provide in endless stock.  The synthetic stuff just never tasted as good, though vegan vampires would swear up and down that it was better than the real thing.

“I’m afraid not,” Chigau shrugged, picking at her nails, “I think I’d know about something like that.  There is somebody at this school who’s got a contract to boost her singing ability, but I’m not at liberty to tell you who it is.  Besides, last I heard, she was too shy to perform off of the internet.”

“Well, if she decides to overcome her fears and comes to me, then she’ll be welcome!” Kamui grinned, holding her hand up in front of herself in a fist, “And if she doesn’t, then so be it!  I’m not going to pressure anybody, because this is just for fun!”

“You know…” Chigau mumbled, “Don’t tell anybody I’m trying to help you out here, but there is somebody you can talk to.  I overheard you talking about inviting your sister, but...  Her name’s Honoka Tosaka, and she’s also in Class 2-2.  You might have better luck talking to her… She’s usually up on the roof after school too, now that I think about it.”

“I will ask both of them!” Kamui shouted, jumping into the air.

“After.  School,” Chigau commanded, looking Kamui in the eyes, “Least you can do is not skip class on day one.”

“Yeah…” Kamui yawned, “But isn’t socializing all class long just like… Mental skipping anyway?”


Miraculously, Kamui waited till after school.  It was a difficult process, but Kamui was convinced that she ought to make the most of her time in the human world, and live a fulfilling high school life!  That included classes, which she didn’t go to back home, so at least she was finally getting an education.  It did nag her a little, that when she did get home she’d be in for an earful from her parents, but it really wasn’t her fault that she got summoned!

In any case, she made a beeline for the roof as soon as classes let out, and found herself face-to-face with her big sister much sooner than anticipated.  For a moment she didn’t know what to do, but then squealed, “Yamiko-chan!” And hugged her, very tight.  So tight that Yamiko started to squirm.
Yamiko Tori

“Kamui,” Yamiko deadpanned, “You have got four seconds to let go of me or I just can’t be held responsible for what I might do.”

“I’m just so happy to see you, Nee-chan!” Kamui protested, but let go and took two bouncy steps backward, looking her sister over, “The school uniform suits you!  I would never see you in a skirt this short back home!”

“That’s because skirts this short don’t suit me,” Yamiko mumbled back, crossing her arms as she looked away, “Do I even want to know how you ended up here, Kamui?  Mom and Dad finally decide to let the last baby bird leave the nest, or more likely, did you do something stupid?”

“None of the above,” Kamui answered, clasping her hands together, “Somehow, miraculously, I was summoned!  Just like you were!  I guess it was just inevitable, that the whole Tori family end up in the human world… But, it’s been long enough, why haven’t you gone home yet?” Kamui pointed to the girl standing next to Yamiko, “Is it because of her?  Is she your girlfriend?”

“Well…” Yamiko blushed, “Yes.”

“Hello!” The girl introduced herself, “I’m Hiromi Kaname!”
Hiromi Kaname

“It’s nice to meet you, Kaname-senpai!” Kamui held a hand out, grinning, “Would you and Yamiko-nee like to join my new school idol goup?”

“Oh, I’m afraid… I would, but,” Hiromi sighed, “You see, I can’t actually leave this school…” She pointed at a pair of red shoes next to the edge of the roof, suspiciously similar to her own… Perhaps even, identical? “See, I’m a ghost.  I can’t leave the premises of the school, so I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere to perform with you!”

“Aw, I see,” Kamui nodded, then turned to her sister, “What about you, Onee-chan?”

“Never.  Absolutely not,” Yamiko glared at her, “Why in a million years would you ever ask a shinigami to join a school idol group?”

“Come on!” Kamui protested, “You could be Yamiko-miko, the beautiful fallen angel idol!”

“Who do you think you are, calling a God of Death a fallen angel?  It’s two completely different things!” Yamiko sneered, “Besides, that doesn’t sound appealing in the least.  I will not be joining your group.  Sorry, Kamui,” Her sneer dropped and she just looked morose again, her resting state, “I hope you find some cute girls.”

“Okay,” Kamui nodded with a wide smile.  She could tell, that Yamiko’s disinterest was genuine, so she’d leave her emo sister alone.  With that, she whirled around and pointed with a grin, by luck her finger falling in the direction of Honoka Tosaka, “How about you, Tosaka-senpai?”
Honoka Tosaka
“Who are you?” Honoka asked as she halted in her step at being addressed, lifting an arm as she gave Kamui a scrutinous look, “Are you new here?”

“Yeah, I’m a transfer student!” Kamui answered, grinning, “My name’s Kamui Tori and I want to start a School Idol group!  I heard that you might be interested?”

“Of course!  But…” Honoka sighed, “I’ve been trying since I first enrolled in this school, and I can’t get anybody to join… So I don’t know if the group would ever be anyone but just us… And you need to have three members to compete, anyway.”

“That’s nothing to worry about, Tosaka-chan!” Kamui insisted, getting on her tip-toes, “Maybe, you just never found the right people!  And well, if we really can’t find anybody else, then we don’t have to compete!  Not in the L-L, anyway.  We could always just try our hand at the professional scene right off the bat-there’s no number requirements there!”

“Professional?  No, no,” Honoka shook her head with a sheepish grin, “There’s no way!  I can’t even sing, I just want to be able to dance in a group, and…” She scratched her chin, looking away, “I really don’t have the right physique to make it as a professional idol, you know?  They want girls who are soft, and I’m… not.”

“Nonsense!  I think that you’ll be a spectacular idol!” Kamui protested, bouncing between her feet, “I mean, just think about it!  Somebody as… Rugged,” She took a deep breath as she looked Honoka over, “And strong, as you, could really attract some different types of fans… Combined with the fans we’ll get from me, and anyone else we might get?  We could be the best idol group of all time, Tosaka-senpai!”

“I’m pretty sure that we’ll lose more fans than we’ll gain!” Honoka protested, “I mean, school idols are one thing!  Even somebody as unsuited to… girlishness, as me, can be a school idol!  Pro idol though?  It would take a week, maximum, for everybody to know and hate that I’m trans… I mean, it's obvious, right?”

“Nooo!” Kamui shook her head, jumping forward and hugging Honoka, nuzzling her in a blatant invasion of personal space that was somehow endearing, “Don’t worry about that!  I’ll make sure all they know is the truth!  You’re a really strong girl!  I can distract them from looking too much into your past!” She bounced away again, grinning as she limp-wristed in fake paws, “After all, look what I can do, nya!” With that, she jumped one more time, but toppled into a somersault, at the end of which there was a cat in her place.

“Kamui!” Yamiko shouted from across the roof, “You can’t just do that!”

“Uh…” Honoka trailed off, staring at the cat until Kamui changed back, getting to her feet as if nothing strange had just happened.

“Tada!” Kamui made jazz hands.

“I will admit that is a very distracting ability,” Honoka nodded, eyes wide in shock, “How are you able to do that?  I just… What…?”

“It’s the trademark move that will help me to shine as a spectacular school idol!” Kamui explained, grinning from ear to ear, “See, I was summoned here by Korekara Academy’s occult club.  I’m a demon!  And I decided, that if I’m at a high school, I really should go about becoming a school idol!” She made peace signs with her hands, “I want to shine on stage together with good friends!”

“...For a demon, you sure seem like a miracle,” Honoka noted, raising an eyebrow, “Are you sure that you’re not an angel, come to help me out?”

“Angel?  No, that’s a totally different type of demon, not even in the yokai class!” Kamui waved her off, “And I’m a bakeneko, which is really, not a very powerful sort at all!  I’m just following my heart, like everybody should do!”

“Wow,” Honoka nodded, “I… Well, yeah!  Let’s do it!  Let’s become school idols! If we can, that is.”

“I’m gonna see if I can’t find another member!” Kamui leapt in the air with a fistpump, then ran off throughout the school; but she had no luck as she raced down hallways and chatted with other students.  Unlike her first proposals in class, all the ones she was getting now were much more agressive and/or depressive.  She kept getting told ‘buzz off’ or ‘no chance’, and eventually she just returned to the roof and reported her lack of luck.

“Yeah…” Honoka sighed, “I told you, I couldn’t get anybody to join in two years.  Especially now… I bet a lot of people think you’re trying to replace her.”

“Replace her?  Replace who?” Kamui questioned, tilting her head to the side.

“Box Hako,” She answered, crossing her arms, “A second year… She died at the end of winter break, and nobody really wants to get involved in something like a school idol group now.  It seems too… happy.  They’re still mourning, you know?  Sorry, Tori-chan.  It was a good idea when you said it, but then I realized that…”

“I get it…” Kamui sighed, pressing her hands together, smile fading in full for the first time since she’d arrived, “But, Tosaka-senpai… If I can find one more member, somehow, will you still stand onstage with me…?”

“If you can do that,” Honoka nodded with a warm smile, “Then of course, I’d love to stand on the same stage as an idol who wants to shine so much.”

“Yeah…” Kamui gave a slow nod, then turned around and went back downstairs, then wandered around the school grounds for a bit till she sat down on the ground, leaning back against the wall behind her out in back, near the dumpsters.  Korekara’s dumpsters didn’t smell bad; the opposite, really.  While one had a faint garbage scent, it had hardly any waste in it.  The other, which smelled like roses of all things, Kamui figured was empty.

With a heavy sigh, she slumped her shoulders, pulled her knees up to her chest, and looked down at the ground with a distinct pout.  She’d really thought that she could do this, that she could pull together a school idol group from the school she’d so suddenly found herself in.  This was the sort of things humans liked, right?  But, not when it came so soon after the death of a friend, she supposed; now she just felt insensitive.

“Why such a sad face, mon cherie?” A voice broke Kamui from her thoughts; a carefree voice, airy and lilting, “Also, not that I’m complaining, but if you sit like that, then I can see your panties, mon dieu…” Kamui turned towards the source of the voice, only to see the upper body of a girl peeking out from inside the emptier dumpster.  Said girl just pushed her glasses up and gave a goofy grin.

“I…” Kamui shifted, folding her legs under herself as she looked this girl over, “I tried to make a school idol group but apparently everyone here is too sad to want something like that… Why are you in a dumpster?  And what language is that?”

“What language?  It’s French, of course!” She explained, then climbed out of the dumpster, bringing with her that overwhelming scent of roses, “Also, I live in this dumpster!  It’s fine though, because nobody uses it and I wear lots of perfume!  As for your predicament…” She stepped in front of Kamui, then leaned down and winked, “Mon amie, I’m never too sad for anything!”

“I’m convinced that you’re a hallucination,” Kamui noted, then stood up, “So I’m going to leave.”

“Wait, wait wait!” She held her hands out in front of herself, blocking Kamui from leaving, “What if I offered to join your group?  I mean, what school idol group doesn’t want somebody sexy and suave to charm the masses?  And you know who can fit the bill?  Moi~!”

“Sexy and suave?  I mean I’d grant that maybe, if you didn’t live in a dumpster and speak a made-up language…” Kamui narrowed her eyes, “Besides, only my hallucination would offer to become a school idol so willingly.”

“I’m a spontaneous person!” She explained.

“Oi!” Somebody else shouted and strode over to them, “Yuu-san, are you harrassing another transfer student?”

“Nagata-chan…” The mysterious dumpster girl whined, “She thinks I’m a hallucination!”

“Jesus Christ I only wish…” The other groaned with a shake of her head, then addressed Kamui, “Hey.  The name’s Natsuki Nagata, I run the science club.  And this is Sakazaki Yuu.  She’s real, unfortunately.  Sorry if she’s bothering you…” With this, Natsuki gave Sakazaki a knowing and reprimanding look, “I’m supposed to keep her out of trouble.”
Natsuki Nagata

“I’ve told you a billion times, Nagata-chan, I don’t need a handler…” Sakazaki rolled her eyes, “Laisse-moi tranquille!”

“Clearly you do, since you won’t leave this poor girl alone,” Natsuki glared at her, “Climb out of a dumpster smelling like roses, gonna want to talk to you!”

“Nonsense, I’m an utter casanova!” Sakazaki waved her hands, then made them into finger pistols, “J'ai six petite amie!  I bet I’ve slept with more girls than anybody in Japan!”

“Stop telling lies!” Natsuki snapped.

“Um, if it’s okay…” Kamui mumbled, “Nagata-senpai, if Trashazaki-senpai is real, and if she does want to join my idol group, then I… think I’d like that.  She is pretty, nobody needs to know that she lives in a dumpster.”

“It’s Sakazaki, not Trashazaki, and ouh la la, first name basis~?” Sakazaki asked, holding her hands to her cheeks.

Sakazaki Yuu
“I think it’s more likely that she doesn’t respect you…” Natsuki noted, then turned to Kamui again, “You really sure you want this disaster on your hands?”

“I can literally transform into a housecat,” Kamui noted in a flat voice, “So I guess that from a technical standpoint I’m the bigger disaster here.”

“That sounds even less real than a French woman living in a dumpster,” Natsuki raised her eyebrows and tilted her head, smiling with an air of annoyance to her next statement, “So I guess that you two would get along.”

“Can you really do that?  Un petit chat?  I want to see!  Can you show us, underclassman whose name I don’t know?” Sakazaki asked, glasses sliding down her nose again.

“The name’s Kamui Tori!” Kamui answered, then nodded and showed off her transformation trick again, and turned back after just a moment.

“The action you just pulled off is scientifically impossible,” Natsuki shook her head, curling her lip as she stared at Kamui, “There’s no way I can explain that!  So I won’t!  I’m not even going to try!  Good-bye!” With that, she turned and stomped away, her utter confusion showing through as anger in her movements.

“That’s amazing!  And not just the transformation, mon amie, but the fact that you found a way to make Nagata-chan bail!” Sakazaki noted, then turned to Kamui and… bowed to her, “So, Tori-hime, almighty princess of the Korekara School Idol club… Is it just us two?”

“No, we actually have one other member, but she didn’t want to beat a dead horse if we weren’t going to have enough people to compete in the LL…” Kamui noted, holding one finger to her chin, “It’s been a pain, ever since they added all those group size regulations, but if there’s one thing I know about humans it’s the rules for School Idols!”

“Oh, I can teach you lots more things about humans!  Here’s one right now- we need to breathe.  Another, we need to blink!  Though I prefer to wink with alternating eyes,” Sakazaki demonstrated.

“Well obviously I know how human needs work.  Demons aren’t completely dissimilar.  Even cats need to breathe, Yuu-senpai,” Kamui chuckled, rolling her eyes, “Let’s go up to the roof and let Tosaka-senpai know that the group’s back on.”

“You keep calling it the group, Tori-hime,” Sakazaki noted as they made their way upstairs, “But that’s no way to refer to something!  Don’t you have a name in mind?”

“I tried to think of some, but they all sounded bad, and besides… I thought that the only way to come up with a good name would be, if I brainstormed together with friends!” Kamui explained while reaching the roof, “So the three of us, we can think something up, can’t we?”

“Tori-chan,” Honoka froze in place when she noticed Kamui’s return to the roof, then pushed her eyebrows together, “And… Yuu-senpai?”

“The one and only!” Sakazaki stepped out onto the roof then twirled, ending with a wink and pointing at Honoka, “We’ve never met but I presume you’ve heard of me?”

“Yeah, urban legends…” Honoka trailed off, bringing her arms to her sides then addressing Kamui again, “What’s the deal, Tori-chan?”

“Tosaka-senpai,” Kamui spread her fingers wide with her palms out, “Sakazaki Yuu-senpai is going to be the third member we need to compete in the LL!”

“So Yuu-senpai, the chronic truant living in the trash, isn’t just a myth?” Honoka questioned, stepping closer to the enigmatic third year and reaching out to poke her cheek.  Definitely tangible.

“Oui,” Sakazaki nodded, then grabbed Honoka’s wrist, put the other hand on the small of her back, and full-on tango-style dipped her, “Real and nearly as beautiful as you are, mon amie~!”

“Good grief, you’re strong for your size!” Honoka noted, glancing towards the cement of the roof that she was shockingly close to, “How many more peculiarities do you hold, Yuu-senpai?”

“Oh, I am a galaxy of endless possibilities, Tosaka-chan…” Sakazaki purred as she righted both Honoka and herself, “Which you’ll discover eventually, seeing as we’ll become great friends in the course of this endeavor!  So what shall we call our school idol group?”

“You’d think after trying for two years, I’d have a name in mind, but…” Honoka sighed, “I could never think of any.  Besides, I can already tell Tori-chan is going to be a better leader than I ever was.  After all, she collected you!”

“Not a difficult feat,” Sakazaki shrugged, “A cute girl, looking sad near my dumpster?  That’s really all it took.  So, let me get this straight.  Tori-hime has no ideas, and Tosaka-chan has no ideas…” She trailed off, “So… does that mean that I, the outlier, should voice mine?”

“Go ahead, Yuu-senpai!” Kamui nodded, and a glance to Honoka showed that she agreed too.

“Well, I was thinking… Now this is really an awful pun, mind you, but I think you might like it!  Since we’re three cute girls, and one of us is a demon, how about… Yokaishiteru?  You know like, a combination of Yokai and Aishiteru?”

“It’s a terrible pun, but it is school-idol cutesy…” Honoka noted with a slow nod.

“I think it’s a wonderful name!” Kamui was much more enthusiastic, bouncing on her feet again, “So let’s go for it!  From now on, we’ll be called Yokaishiteru!  Hurray!!”

Next Chapter ->