Saturday, January 28, 2017

Yokaishiteru! Chapter Two

<-Previous Chapter

“Bonjour, mes amis!” Sakazaki Yuu gave her normal greeting as she stepped out of the stairwell onto the roof to group up with her fellow idols.  Today was going to be a lovely day; she was sure of it!  After all, the best person she’d ever met was following her there, to the people who were tied for the second best she’d met!  Once she had Kamui and Honoka’s attention, she made a dramatic flourish to reveal, “I’d like you to meet my beautiful girlfriend!”

“We’ve uh, we’ve met actually, Saka-tama,” Momoko shifted between her feet and gave a sheepish smile, waving to Kamui, “There’s only the one first year class, remember?”

“...You know each other?” Kamui questioned, stepping closer and giving Sakazaki a scrutinous look, “And… You’re dating?”

“Well…” Momoko shrugged, looking away and hugging her arms around herself, “Yes, we have been for… Kind of a while now.  When I was being held hostage, I could use chatrooms, because there was no way for me to know where I was,” She spoke so casually about her own kidnapping, as if it was nothing more bothersome than running out of milk, “So we got to talking… And, well, flirting… I was surprised to find out we would have been in the same school, if I’d been able to act on my invite…”

“Anyway, I’m really glad you were able to escape and date for real!” Kamui just stayed positive, not wanting to touch on Momoko’s past any more than she did herself, “So, Yuu-senpai, was there a particular reason you wanted to introduce us to your girlfriend?  Are you leading in to suggesting we write a love song or something?  Because… I don’t think any of us can actually… Write songs.  It wouldn’t really work.”

“No!” Sakazaki shook her head, “That’s not it at all!  Momo-chan wants to join Yokaishiteru!”

“Wait, really?” Kamui tilted her head to the side, “But, Watanabe-chan, I thought that you decided not to… Did you change your mind again?”

“Well,” Momoko looked down at the floor, clasping her hands, “The truth is… I never stopped wanting to join your group, but I just… I didn’t like how Nanako-chan decided to join right after I did…” She closed her eyes, “It scares me, that she’d do that only for the sake of being around me.  If she wanted to join… For her own reasons, that would be different, but do you think you could bar her from joining if she tries to force herself into my life again…?”

“Well…” Kamui thought for a moment, pressing one finger to her own lips, “Of course, I could do that!  Your safety and comfort is important, and it wouldn’t be great for an idol group, if somebody joined just to follow someone else… This is for us to make friends and move forward as people, and that seems counter intuitive to the cause!”

“It would be, wouldn’t it? Momoko agreed, then opened her eyes and gave them a sweet smile, “In that case, I’m really glad to join!”

“You’re just in time, too!” Kamui nodded, “We were going to start filming promotional videos today!”

“Were you going to do them here on the roof…?” Momoko questioned.

“Well, yeah… I don’t know where else we would,” Honoka shrugged, “This isn’t a very big school… We don’t even have a club room.  I guess we could go out on the grounds, but-”

“Oh no, outdoor lighting isn’t good at all for filming,” Momoko muttered, shaking her head, “Especially for promotional videos… If only we could get access to some prop rooms…”

“Oh, right, that’s what a lot of idols use,” Honoka nodded, “But… We’re an unofficial club at a tiny private school, with no budget…”

“That’s true, but you know…” Sakazaki wondered aloud, “Momo-chan makes a good point… Perhaps we could ask around?  Just because money can’t get you into the school doesn’t mean nobody at school has money!”

“Don’t you think anybody who would  be willing to help us with that, would have already offered?” Kamui asked, “I’m pretty sure I’ve already talked to everyone…”

“Not everyone,” Honoka shook her head, “There’s a lot of people who don’t hang around after school if they don’t have a club to attend, so you probably missed a bunch of people.  Especially if you didn’t interrupt any clubs, too.”

“You’re right, I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt the cooking club that day…” Kamui noted, “But do you think we should interrupt today’s club?  It’s… The video game club, that meets today, yeah?  They’d be the only people who might be hanging around that didn’t before…”

“We absolutely should,” Sakazaki nodded, “Nobody will find it odd if I barge into the club room!  SO I’ll go first, and you can follow me in to avoid the weird looks,” She winked, then ran off and the other school idols chased after her.  She went straight to the gaming club room and threw the door open with a loud shout, “INBO-SAN!  We need money!”

Shizuka Inbo
At the shout, one member of the club looked up from the arcade case she was playing on, then narrowed her eyes into a glare as she saw Sakazaki standing there, “I’m not a bank, Yuu-senpai!”

“I know that, mon cherie!  After all, if you were a bank, then you’d expect us to pay you back plus interest… But you’ll just give us funding out of the kindness of your heart, right?” She questioned as she approached the girl, then turned back to address her fellow idols, “This is Shizuka Inbo, the president of the video game club!  She has a lot of money.”

“That is not my only character trait!” Shizuka turned her nose up, “If we were dateable characters in otome games, I would not be the repressed rich kid!  You, however, would predictably be the cringey cassanova…” She waved her hand, then pointed at Kamui and Honoka “And I don’t know you two!  So you’re excluded from this!” Then, to Momoko, “And you would be the oddly humorous but somewhat suspicious character with a tragic backstory!”

“I don’t play otome games,” Momoko shrugged with a lopsided smile, “But that sounds about right, yeah…”

“If you were in an otome, Inbo-san,” One of the other game club members noted, “You’d be the tsundere for sure.”

“I would not, idiot!” Shizuka shouted back at her, turning that way, “You, Okano-chan, would be the rambunctious childhood friend of the protagonist!”

Aoi Okano
Aoi Okano shrugged and turned her full attention back to the game she hadn’t even paused while talking, the name of which Sakazaki had no clue but could tell that she was attempting to speedrun it.  With that out of the way, she addressed Shizuka again, “Anyway, Inbo-san, you must understand that we’re a school idol club, and we need some money so we can make a good promotional video-”

“I know what your silly club is.  I was in class when ponytail over there announced it.  You always forget that I’m a first year, Yuu-senpai…” She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest with a small pout to her lips as her hair bounced behind her, and Kamui noticed it was decorated by… A small crown?  That was really extra, even by Kamui ‘I can turn into a cat’ Tori’s standards.

“I always forget everything about everyone!” Sakazaki noted, chipper nonetheless.

“Anyway, I’m not going to give you money for a club like that!” Shizuka turned her nose up, “Especially not if all you want it for is prop rooms.  If you really need some of those, just come by my house.  N-Not like I want you lot in my house!  It’s just that I’m acting out of uncharacteristic kindness but can’t be bothered to part with any of my fortune!”

“Why do you just… Have prop rooms?” Momoko questioned, tilting her head to her side with a grimace, “Please don’t say they’re for porn.”

“Why in the world would they be for porn?  Do people… Use prop rooms for porn?  Don’t they have film sets for that?” Shizuka questioned, turning from harsh to contemplative as she went, “Anyway, mine are for my youtube channel!  It’s hard to stream games with a webcam if your room is a trash-heap… So I had prop rooms made up for all sorts of different games, so my background could match the video!”

“...Rich people are frightening,” Honoka noted, wide-eyed.  How did somebody just… have money to do something like that?  She couldn’t comprehend it.

“People use prop rooms for indie porn.  It’s an investment,” Momoko stated this with an innocent smile as if it was just a fun fact she’d picked up somewhere and not unsettling knowledge for a high school first year to have.

“...Whatever.  Guess I’m not one to argue with whatever train of thought you have behind that statement,” Shizuka groaned, tossing her hair back, “Anyway, you can use my prop rooms for whatever you need.  I have plenty of them, and my house is so large that you could come by without me ever needing to know that you were there.  I will of course, since I need to unlock the door for you, but the concept is there.”

“Thanks a bunch, Inbo-san!  I could kiss you, but I won’t because I’m a faithful girlfriend!” Sakazaki giggled, holding her hands behind her back with a sweet smile.

“Faithful?  Last I checked, you’d flirt with any living thing… And a few inanimate objects too,”  Shizuka grimaced.

“That’s different!  You can flirt with anybody and it doesn’t have to mean a thing.  You can say that you’d totally do it with a telephone pole, doesn’t mean you’re serious!  Kisses always mean something.  So those are reserved,” Sakazaki explained, stepping backwards and smoothly putting an arm over Momoko’s shoulders.

“Whatever you say,” Shizuka shrugged, then took a few steps closer to the group, “Just because I’m helping you lot… Doesn’t mean that I like you.  Any of you,” She flared her nostrils, “As far as I’m concerned you’re a rowdy bunch of peasants chasing unrealistic ideals!  But... “ She looked away, face turning a bit red, “I do envy your ability to be so impassioned over something so absolutely trivial.  I respect that, which is why I’ll help you.”

“Okay, Inbo-san!  Thanks again!” Sakazaki grinned, waving to her as she backed out of the room, the other school idols following suit, excluding Momoko who was simply dragged along in Sakazaki’s exit, seeing as her shoulder was still being held, “We’ll see you Sunday!”

Once outside of the gaming clubroom, Kamui sighed and leaned against a wall, smiling but exhausted, “That’s a relief.  So, Yuu-senpai, how do you know Inbo-san anyway?”

“I know people!” She gave a joking scoff, “Just because many think I’m not real doesn’t mean that I don’t have friends.  I even used to aid in the infirmary before Hako-sama took my place there!  Though, I guess Inbo-san wouldn’t exactly consider us friends… I’m more of an obnoxious acquaintance.  That’s the opinion most people have of me!” Despite saying something which seemed self-deprecating, Sakazaki would just not stop grinning.  Had she stopped smiling once since Kamui met her?  Didn’t seem plausible.

“That’s not my opinion of you!” Kamui insisted, “You’re my friend!”

“And you’re my girlfriend!” Momoko added, “And you were never once an obnoxious acquaintance to me.  You were a good acquaintance!  Through and through!”

“Ahaha, well, perhaps not everybody finds me annoying!  Many do, though, many do.  Not that I care!  Ce que tout le monde dit doit être vrai, as they say,” Sakazaki shrugged, “It’s no skin off my back, anyhow~!”

“Excuse you, but what everybody say is not true,” Somebody else spoke, and Sakazaki turned to see that the group was being approached by another girl in the hallway.  Victoria Jean, one of the occult club members, “Nee-chan, you aren’t obnoxious at all.”

Victoria Jean
“Maybe I’m not, but you definitely are…” Sakazaki finally frowned, glaring at her, “Don’t call me that, Victoria.”

Kamui knew Victoria; she knew everyone in the occult club, given she was their responsibility and they were taking turns housing her (an easy enough task if she just transformed) and Victoria seemed nice enough to her, if a bit blowhardy.  Why was it that Sakazaki, who seemed so friendly to everyone, was suddenly being rude to her?

“But, come on.  Why can’t I?” Victoria questioned, pouting, “You know, Ryuunosuke-chan always says that you and I, and some girl named Periweather, we make up a trio of ancient warriors!  The least you could do is show me a bit of common courtesy, oui?”

“I don’t need to show you any courtesy,” Sakazaki griped, “Just because we’re half-siblings, that doesn’t entitle you to my friendship.  I won’t forgive you that easily.”

“I haven’t done a thing to you!” She protested, and the other idols gave each other glances; they felt they were intruding on a private conflict, “Time and time again you just tell me to go away, but we could be friends, Sakazaki!  We could be real sisters if you just let me-”

“I don’t know why you keep trying,” Sakazaki rolled her eyes, “Look, I have things to do, okay?  Just… Leave me alone.”


Izuna Nanako didn’t understand why Momoko was so angry with her.  Why couldn’t they just pick up where they left off before?  Get back together, and be happy, Momoko helping her with academics and she helping Momoko with executive function?  Those were the good days, back in middle school, before everything went wrong.  As far as Izuna was concerned, she didn’t do anything wrong.  The guy who took Momoko, he was huge, how could she have even helped?

She couldn’t do anything but watch.  How could Momoko hold that against her?  Admittedly, pretending to be Momoko in order to use her invitation to Korekara Academy was a little bit of a misstep, but nothing so awful.  Izuna felt that, if anything, she should have been mad at Momoko because they never broke up, and so technically, she was cheating by going out with Sakazaki.  Perhaps this was backwards thinking, but Izuna was never the brightest bulb in the box.

Nonetheless, she wasn’t angry at Momoko for finding comfort in somebody else while kidnapped… Or for continuing to latch onto that girl once she escaped.  That had to count for something, right?  She wasn’t bitter at all;  She just wanted her girlfriend back.  Nonetheless, Momoko was bitter.  Super bitter.  It didn’t make sense.  Izuna just wanted to be forgiven already.  She really didn’t think what she did was so wrong.

However… She did see how Momoko seemed to be having fun with the school idol club, these past few days, and she didn’t want to interfere with that.  It would just make Momoko angrier, make her leave the club which was making her happy, and Izuna liked to think she wasn’t quite that selfish.  Nonetheless, she found herself skipping cooking club that Friday to instead go up to the roof and watch.  She snuck behind the wall for the stairwell to just peer out, but as she was going there she bumped into somebody else who she didn’t even recognize.

The Anti-social Upperclassman (Mishio Oujouno)
Must have been an anti-social upperclassman.  She looked at Izuna with a blank look, then lifted a finger to her lips in a show of silent conspiracy, so Izuna settled in next to her to watch the school idols practice.  Mostly, she just watched Momoko, and when she occasionally glanced back at the other girl, her attention seemed to be on Sakazaki.  Funny, that.  The practice was over before she knew it, then Izuna saw as the upperclassman climbed up onto the hutch for the stairwell, then lay down on her stomach, not breaking eye contact as she did this.  Izuna would realize too late that it was a sign that she should do the same when, after the stairwell door closed, Kamui peeked around the corner of the wall, “Hello, Nanako-chan.”

“T-Tori-chan?” She questioned, then took a step back, “I’m sorry!  I…”

“You were spying on us,” Kamui nodded, tilting her head, “That’s obvious.  I could tell you were here, but I wanted to wait until Watanabe-chan was gone so that I could talk to you… for real.  You know she’s joined, but you haven’t come to us again about joining yourself… Why is that?”

“I realized that she wouldn’t keep doing this if I joined too, and… Well, her happiness seems less fake, when she’s around all of you,” Izuna crossed her arms and looked away, “I don’t understand why she’s mad at me, but… I know it’d just make her angrier if I took that away from her.”

“That’s a very mature way of thinking, Nanako-chan,” Kamui nodded, “It seems like… You aren’t just thinking of yourself anymore.”

“I came up her to watch her,” Izuna mumbled, “It’s not like I’ve moved on…”

“Did you really?” Kamui questioned, “Did you really come up here just to watch her?  Or is there another reason?  It seems like a really strange thing, to wait out an entire practice session just to watch an incomplete and sloppy dance all because you like one girl.  You didn’t strike me as being quite that obsessive.  Correct me if I’m wrong, of course...”

“You really think that if I was that type, I wouldn’t tell you that I’m not?” Izuna questioned, “Watanabe-chan doesn’t trust me, so why should her friends?”

“I don’t know if it’s distrust, Nanako-chan,” Kamui wondered aloud, “Remember what she said when she arrived?  That she hadn’t met anybody in the class before?  Well…” She sighed, closing her eyes, “I think that wasn’t just a passive-aggressive jab.  I think she was saying… That you don’t know her.”

“What do you mean?” Izuna asked, letting her hair fall over her face.

“Well… How do you remember her, in middle school?” Kamui started.

“She was… Sad, a lot.  Always tired, never tried hard or committed to anything… She needed me to remind her to eat, to shower, everything… She relied on me,” Izuna explained, holding a hand to her chest, “She was smart, but she was useless!  Alone, she would’ve died-”

“But she hasn’t died yet, has she?” Kamui interrupted with a coy smile, “She’s been on her own now, for a few weeks.  She’s still alive.  At lunchtime, I always see her eating.  She always comes to school clean, and she’s really trying hard to be an idol since she joined us on Monday.  That was her point, okay?  You can’t pretend because it makes you feel better about yourself, can’t pretend that what she went through didn’t change her.  The everyday things she was so bad at doing before are luxuries to her now.  She almost died and now she’s taking her life by the reins,” Kamui shook her head, giving Izuna a wide-eyed, disappointed look, “You can’t just deny that she got hurt while you benefited from her disappearance.”

“...I…” Izuna started tearing up, looking down at her feet.

“Don’t try and make me sympathize with you by crying!  That won’t change a thing!” Kamui insisted, “I don’t know the details of what happened but it’s obvious that you aren’t admitting it.”

“Why are you saying these things to me!?” Izuna questioned, holding her head with a grimace.

“Because I think you should join Yokaishiteru, that’s why,” Kamui answered, stepping closer, “Because I think you and Watanabe-chan could mend your relationship if you just admitted that you hurt her.  Because I think… It’s about time you made somebody else happy instead of just helping yourself.  You want to do that, right?  Yokaishiteru is the way.  But I’ll only let you in if you promise.  Watanabe-chan… You have no history with her, you don’t know her anymore because she’s a different person now.”

“I…” Izuna wiped her eyes, then looked back to Kamui, “It’s hard, Tori-chan…”

“I know it is, Nanako-chan, but that’s why you have to do it, okay?  You can do this.  Just take my hand.  Come on and… Sing with me?” She held out her hand with a smile, waiting for Izuna to take it.

And she did.

[Anone Ganbare]

“So, Nanako-chan… I’ll see you on Sunday, at Inbo-san’s house,” Kamui smiled, holding her pose from the end of the song and winking, “We’re filming PVs, so you should really think of an introduction~!”


Shizuka Inbo’s house was huge.  It was, in fact, the biggest building in the entirety of the small town which had built up around Korekara Academy over the years, housing teachers, graduated students, and others who founded an economy in the area.  Bigger even than the school was Shizuka’s mansion; Kamui assumed that it had been paid for by her family.  The Inbos were once the subject of a reality show which did indeed air in the demon world, though Shizuka was absent enough to be a mystery to her.  

Sakazaki was the one who rang the doorbell, then stood on the front step with her hands folded in front of herself.  Everyone was trailing behind; even Izuna.  When she first arrived, she immediately walked up to Momoko and said, “Hello.  My name is Izuna Nanako, and it’s nice to meet you.”

After that, Momoko didn’t seem to mind at all that she was there.  She didn’t quit on the spot, didn’t say anything negative, just kept smiling and said that it was nice to meet her too.  Her name was Momoko Watanabe.

Shizuka opened the door, then crossed her arms and frowned when she saw Sakazaki standing there, “Oh, you’ve arrived.  I was expecting you to be earlier.”

“Well, feel free to kick us out at whatever time you originally planned on us leaving!” Kamui offered, leaning around Sakazaki, “You’re being so kind, that I’d really hate to impose any more than we already are!”

“Good grief, just stay as long as you need to for your PVs.  You aren’t singing yet, right?  I’ve heard you practice, and you aren’t ready to release a choreographed PV.  It’s just introductions, yes?” She questioned, moving her arms to put one hand on her hip, “It better be, otherwise you’re just… Ugh.  Idiots.”

“Don’t worry!  We know that much,” Sakazaki chuckled, shaking her head, “We’ve been working on introductions on our own time.  Nanako-chan doesn’t even know any of our choreography yet!”

“Oh thank goodness.  You’d be out of luck in no time at all if you made the mistake of jumping the gun like that…” She mumbled, lifting up the hand that wasn’t on her hip to pick at her fingernails with her thumb, “Well, what are you waiting for?  Come in,” At her invitation the school idols filed into her home, looking around in shock at the European-styled architecture; Except for Sakazaki, who didn’t seem fazed at all.

“...I don’t think I ever even knew houses like this existed,” Momoko mumbled, holding her hands close to her chest, “How… How?”

“How?  Hard work and luck,” Shizuka shrugged, waving her hand in the air, “Daddy offered to pay for the whole thing, of course, but I made him split it halfsies with me.  Oh, and I paid for the prop rooms, furniture, and gaming rigs myself, of course.  Streaming and stock trading, it’s a winning combination if you’re lucky enough to get fans and good stocks.”

“You have a rich boyfriend too…?” Sakazaki questioned, “Why’d I never hear about this?”  Everyone fell silent.  Nobody even answered her, just staring at her until she spoke okay, “Oh, you mean your father.”

“Yes, Yuu-senpai.  I mean my father,” She deadpanned, then rolled her eyes, “Anyway, let’s ignore that useless blip.  The prop rooms are all down that hallway, you can use any of them.  I’ll see you later,” She pointed down a hall, then turned and walked away from the group with another dramatic hair-toss.  Once she was gone, they set to work looking into the prop rooms and deciding which ones would be best for their charm points; And there were a lot of options.

Sakazaki picked first, a room that she couldn’t quite… Determine what sort of video game genre it was meant for, but it worked perfectly for her image, being half French; A versailles-styled bedroom.  It was actually modeled after a furniture set in one of the Animal Crossing games, though it wasn’t like Sakazaki would make the connection.

“Bonjour!  I’m Sakazaki Yuu of Yokaishiteru~  Men and women alike just can’t resist my charm!  How about you?  Are you already falling in love with me?  Well, if that’s the case… It’s okay, isn’t it, to fall for idols?  If you can’t get a girlfriend, won’t you let me be the next best thing?  Please, listen to Yokaishiteru and think of me always~ Je’taime~~” She gave a wink, then got a thumbs-up from behind the camera as Momoko stopped the recording.

“Well, that definitely made me fall in love with you over again,” Momoko giggled, holding a hand to her face, “But… How are the rest of us supposed to top an introduction like that, Saka-tama?”

“I’m sure you’ll manage,” She shrugged, grinning, “Say… Nanako-chan, why don’t you go next?” She pointed at her, “You’re in the cooking club, right?  I thought I saw a room made up to look like a fake little cutesy kitchen.  Easy Bake Oven and all!”

“I can’t tell if you’re being serious…” Izuna mumbled, holding her scarf closer to her face and looking away.

“Of course I am?  Why wouldn’t I be serious, Mon Cherie?” Sakazaki questioned and stepped forward to pick up the camera, pointing it at Izuna, “Let’s go over there, right?”

“...Yeah, okay,” Izuna nodded, then stood up and followed Sakazaki to the other room, where they set up as well and got to work on her introduction.  It was as Sakazaki described; for some reason.

“Kyaaaah!  O-Oh, sorry, you startled me… I was just thinking that I might make my lunch for tomorrow.  Hey, if I met you, I’d make a bento for you too!  I’m Izuna Nanako, and I’ll cry if you don’t support Yokaishiteru… So please, listen to our songs and be filled with emotion!” As she said this she puffed her cheeks out, balling her hands into fists in earnest, “Thank you all!!”

Sakazaki smiled as she was the one to switch off the camera this time, “Simply adorable!  The perfect way to play up your only marketable skill while making your crybaby personality out to be something endearing rather than pathetic!”

“...Thanks,” Izuna mumbled, frowning as she looked away.  Of course, if those two were together then Sakazaki would make those bitter jabs at her as well, in solidarity of a sort, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt to hear insults hurled so cheerfully, backhanded compliments.  Well, she supposed that only time could remedy the hurt that she still couldn’t quite wrap her head around.

“Okay, moving on!” Sakazaki whirled around and pointed at Honoka, “You’re up, Tosaka-chan!  Since you’re not going to be singing, only dancing, you really have to sell it!  Make sure to move your body lots and show off those muscles!  You’re our key to niche fans!”

“Yes!” Honoka gave a resolute nod and saluted, grinning, “I’ll go to the rhythm game themed room for mine!” She turned and started to walk as Sakazaki picked up the camera again; She’d done hers first so that she could deal with filming the rest of the day.  In the next room, once more, they set to work, blasting through the introductions with efficiency.

“Hiiii~!  I’m Honoka Tosaka!  You might recognize me from weightlifting championships, but you know, I’m taking a break from that to try being a school idol instead!  I’ve been practicing my dance moves for a while now, so you can count on me to make sure the cute idols of Yokaishiteru move gracefully onstage!” She waved, then Sakazaki shut off the camera again.  Moments later, Shizuka poked her head in through the doorway.

“Sorry to interrupt you, but… Well, I was wondering if you ate before you came here?” She asked, narrowing her eyes and glancing away with a pout, “Not like I have any reason to ask that.”

“Hm… Now that you mention it, I haven’t eaten today… I was just so excited to get the PVs done,” Honoka chuckled, waving her hands in the air, “Normally I remember, it’s really bad form to forget to eat breakfast when you’re an athlete… And well, I guess we’re missing lunch now-”

“Well, I accidentally made too much when I was cooking lunch for myself,” Shizuka rolled her eyes and stepped into the room, holding out a large brown paper bag by the handles, “So I guess that you can have these.  Just so they don’t go to waste, you know.”

Sakazaki stood up and took the bag, then looked inside to see… Five bentos, “Ahaha, what a happy accident, Inbo-san!  Can we really have thes

“It’s not like I’m forcing you to take them!  I just thought, that since I made so much more food than necessary, you might want some, seeing as it is lunchtime, and…” She crossed her arms and closed her eyes, “I just want to be a good host!  I didn’t plan on making you lunch or anything,” One resolute nod and she opened her eyes again, “Your introductions, what I’ve overheard, they seem solid.  Keep up the good work,” She turned and walked away before any of the others could respond to the praise.

“You know, Saka-tama,” Momoko noted, leaning towards her and looking into the bag, “I get the feeling that Inbo-san considers you a friend after all, if she won’t show it…” With that, she took the bag and pulled out the bentos, only to discover that they were each labeled with a sticky note which had each member’s name written on it in Romaji, with a small heart next to the names that had been erased, but the imprint in the paper remained.

Kamui moved in and snatched up her bento, then sat down and set it on her lap.  When she opened it, her eyes grew wide in shock for a moment, then she grinned as she just stared at the food for a little longer till she looked around at the others and gave an amazed whisper, “I’ve never seen so much fatty tuna nigiri in one place all my life…” Indeed, her entire bento was filled with rice and tuna.  Without even having eaten any of it yet, she was drooling.

“Hm…” Sakazaki smiled to herself as she looked inside hers, “Inbo-san seems to have remembered that I’m allergic to eggs,” She picked up one of the food items and held it up with a soft smile, “And that I’m fond of peach mochi.”

“Wow…” Momoko noted, soft and in awe, “This was definitely not an accident… Though, the rest of us aren’t as easy to personalize for as you and Tori-chan!” She giggled, “I mean, Inbo-san knows you, and Tori-chan is a cat…” With that, she sat down and pulled her own open, then smiled, “...Okayu,” She pointed into the box to show the rice porridge with pickled plums, “Maybe I’m easy to read too after all…” With that, she gave a wide smile then started eating.

“Well,” Honoka chuckled as she opened hers and found the Gyu-don there, “I guess it’s easy to tell, right?  The cat likes fish, the sleepy girl likes comfort food, and I like protein.  Nanako-chan, though… There’s no food that makes sense for the crybaby archetype, right?”

“That’s… A good question,” Izuna noted as she took her bento, eyebrows furrowed, “Actually, though, I don’t have a favorite food so I guess it doesn’t matter,” And, fittingly enough, her lunch seemed to be a mix of whatever didn’t fit into the others’ boxes, “Oh, a nice variety.  That’s perfect,” She nodded, happy with what she’d received; The only food she really disliked was pork.

“Well, we’ll have to thank Inbo-san on our way out,” Sakazaki chuckled as she ate, “In a way that makes it clear we understand, of course, that this was a mere accident, due to her making too much food!”

“Just makes me wonder why she doesn’t want the full credit for her hard work!” Kamui got out around a mouthful of fish, already digging in.

“Ahaha, well, I don’t claim to understand the tsunderes of this world!  I guess she just doesn’t want us to think that she’s such a sappy, nice person,” Sakazaki shrugged, “She would like to pretend, you know, that she dislikes the majority of people.  Not that I would understand why you’d hide your love of humanity myself, but to each their own!”

“Mm!” Kamui nodded, slurping up the last bit of fish then grinning, “Okay, I’m done eating!  So I can do my introduction next, right?  As soon as somebody who can hold the camera is done too?”

“That’d be me,” Sakazaki sighed, “Letting Momo-chan record my introduction is the furthest I’ll go in my risktaking!  I’m not about to break Inbo-san’s camera…”

“The camera is hers too?” Honoka questioned, “I thought that you brought it…”

“I did bring it, but it belongs to her!  We met through a photography class over summer break, and well, she let me borrow one of her cameras.  I’m returning it after I graduate, of course,” She explained, “She’s very talented, you know.  Photography, cooking, and gaming… Not to mention the luck she has with the stock trade!  Then again, of course she’d have some skills, growing up with money and all…”

“The Inbo family enrolls their kids in all sorts of lessons…” Kamui trailed off, looking at the ceiling, “Piano, and etiquette, but… Does she really seem like she took those?” She closed the bento on her lap, “I could be out of line, but… Is Shizuka Inbo the least-favored child?”  The others just stared back at her, so she gave a nervous chuckle, “Ah… I guess it was out of line, I’m sorry...”

“Well,” Sakazaki looked away, “That’s not a hard conclusion to come to, if you’ve watched the reality show, huh?  A family like that can’t keep secrets from the world.  That’s right, though, Tori-chan, but it’s a blessing in disguise.  They give her money to do whatever she likes, because she won’t be the technical heir to the family name,” She explained, “She wouldn’t mind you knowing, of course.  She’s of the opinion that she’s better off this way!”

“Okay,” Kamui nodded, “I’ll go figure out a room, okay?  I’ll leave the door ajar so you can meet me there when you’re done eating,” She stood up with those words and left, to the hallway till she discovered a room that was cat themed.  Once more, it seemed strange that any of these rooms be as fitting as they were, but that was only because the idols’ knowledge of video games wasn’t too extensive.

After she arrived in the room and took a seat, Kamui only had a few moments to herself before Honoka walked in, “Hey, Tori-chan…”

“Tosaka-senpai…” She sighed, looking up at her, “The others, they all think I’m rude now, don’t they?  But I… Really didn’t mean to be.  There’s so much I don’t understand, about humans… In the demon world, well, if you were the least favored child everyone knew.  It was something you said when you introduced yourself… Because then others knew how important it was that you stayed safe.”

“That’s not how it works here,” Honoka sat down next to her and put a hand on her shoulder, “To me, at least, it’s really important that everyone stays safe.”

“I guess I know it’s kind of sad to think about,” Kamui kicked her feet, “That’s why I never said it, when I introduced myself since getting here, even though I’m supposed to.  When you’re the least favored, it’s harder to get a job… Harder to do a lot of things.  It’s the way things are, though, because it’s dangerous to be a demon.  If you have to pick between saving two people, then isn’t it better to know and save the one whose family would be more upset if they died?”

“Well,” Honoka shrugged, “Maybe that does make sense where you come from, but it isn’t really quite that dangerous here.  If I had to pick between saving you and saving some other demon who I just met but who was the most favored child… I’d pick you.  Because I know you and I know what you have to offer.  That won’t happen, anyway, because mortal peril isn’t common enough here to have a system like that in place,” She then gave Kamui a reassuring smile, “And don’t you worry about the others, okay?  They’ll understand.”

“Okay…” Kamui nodded, fidgeting with her hands, then put a smile back on her face, “Sorry about that, Tosaka-senpai…”

“Hey, you know,” Honoka chuckled and nudged her with her elbow, “Sports teams, they don’t use senpai with each other.  So why should we?  You can call me by my first name, if you’d like… Because then, we have to become close enough that it makes sense!”

Kamui blinked at her, then let her smile grow to a grin and nodded, “Okay, Honoka-chan!  You can call me by my first name too!”  She turned back to the door as she heard it open, and waved at Sakazaki as she stepped in, “Trashazaki-senpai!  Ready to film?”

“Again with the Trashazaki?” Sakazaki questioned with a smirk, “Mon amie, if you’re trying to endear yourself to me, then it’s working,” She held up the camera, “Let’s go, oui?” Kamui nodded, then posed as Sakazaki got the camera set up.

“Hey everybody!  My name’s Kamui Tori, nya!  I’m the president of the Korekara School Idol Club, and one of the members of Yokaishiteru!  I’ve traveled a long way to come to to this school and become a school idol!  I hope that when you see us, you find yourself joyful and inspired, and if you keep following our school idol activities I might just have a surprise for you!  See you at the LL~!” She made paws of her hands and threw her hips out to the side, making a cute pose for the last moment as Sakazaki stopped the recording, just as the others had done.

“Wonderful!” Momoko clapped her hands, then kept them pressed together with that smile of hers, “Well then, I’m the only one left, right?”

“Yeah,” Sakazaki nodded, “Do you know which room you’re going to use?”

“I was thinking the room for horror games?” She mumbled, then laughed, “Just kidding!  I’ll use the one for otome games, with the fake cherry blossoms,” She turned to go the room, and the others followed her to the relevant room.  Once there, the routine continued.  Momoko stood in the middle of the prop room, and Sakazaki set up the camera, hit record.

“Hi, I’m…” She trailed off, but it wasn’t because she’d fallen asleep, but because she’d frozen in place.  Sakazaki looked past the camera with a frown as soon as she noticed, then shut the recording down and approached Momoko only to see that there were tears streaming down her face as she stood stiff.  Everyone crowded around her, and she didn’t even move until her legs crumpled beneath her and she fell down, then held her stomach as she threw up on the floor.

“Hey, are you-” Shizuka started as she opened the door, then looked down and saw Momoko.  Before she could even say anything, Sakazaki was in her face/

“Haha, Inbo-san, I, we’re sorry!  It wasn’t your food or anything I promise, it’s just, well I don’t know but it’s clearly an emotional issue, and I’ll clean up the room, I just-”

“Obviously it isn’t because of my food,” Shizuka snapped, then pushed past her and knelt down next to Momoko, hovering a hand over her shoulder, “Watanabe-san, are you okay…?  What happened?  You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.  Do you need anything?”

“I-I just…” Momoko choked out, putting her hands over her mouth with her eyes still wide open in shock, then wiped her mouth with her sleeve and smiled, a bitter and fearful smile, and Izuna started to understand when she saw that, “I thought that I would be okay, with having a camera pointed at me… I’m so… Sorry…” She shook her head then wrapped her arms around herself, “I’m not suited to be an idol after all.”

“It’s okay,” Shizuka whispered, “We’ll work on it.”

Sachiko Ryuunosuke

Makoto Narahashi
“...I found out today that Inbo-san is helping them,” One of the only students in the school building on that Sunday spoke, hands resting soft on the piano keys as she pressed her toes against the floor through her shoes.

“Helping who?” The other student questioned, leaning against the front of the piano casually, “...The idol club?”

“Who else would it be, Sachiko-chan?” She muttered back, pressing one finger down to hold a long E-flat note, “Of course it’s the idol club.  They walked into the video game club on Monday and I found out today Inbo-san is seriously helping them.  I thought she just said that to get them to leave, but no…” She sighed, “As long as they’re around, we can only do this on Sundays.

“I know, Makoto-Chan,” She looked up to the ceiling with a small nod, “But would it really be so terrible if they were to hear after all?”

“It’s all up to you.”

Next Chapter ->

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