"High-school second-year pine class Fukuzawa Yumi-san. Please report to the staff room immediately."
"Uh oh," Yumi thought. She ambled towards the staff area, trying to guess what was up.
Katsura-san intercepted her. She was so giddy, it had to be a boy involved.
"The prince is at school again! He came in that amazing red sports car! I wonder who he's here for. He's even more good-looking this time, he's in a suit and everything!" she said, breathlessly.
Oh God, thought Yumi. Kashiwagi nonsense again. She had no more use for "the prince" than he had for her, honestly.
"Katsura-san, umm, please go keep an eye on him for me. Thank you so much in advance," Yumi said, continuing on her way.
When she got to the staff room, a crowd had already gathered. She saw Shimako and Noriko, as dreamy as always. Between novels, Yumi would stay in practice by writing explicit stories about them in a journal, so whenever she saw them, she blushed. They thought that meant Yumi was cute and innocent, and she didn't see in any harm in letting them keep their illusions. She saw Yoshino waving. Her kendo practicing was finally starting to pay off, she'd lost that flabby look from her invalid years. And ... Yumi looked over at Rei, then looked at Yoshino again and moved her eyes downward. Yes, Yoshino was almost as toned and sexy from behind as her onee-san nowadays.
Given her situation, she couldn't help but look at the two of them and imagine what someone would give if ... but the door to the staff room opened. Camera-chan had held off, wanting to see Yumi with a glum walk of shame face, but she did snap a quick flash picture as Yumi faced the suddenly opening door. She looked guilty enough, even though in reality she was just startled. Mami would scold Tsutako later, but still use the photo.
"Come in, Fukuzawa-san," came the voice of one of the sisters. "The rest of you, please clear out. This is a place of learning, not a stage production."
They invited Yumi to sit, but following Sei-sama's advice, she politely declined and leaned against the door. "Don't let them fool you," Sei had said. "If you're ever called to the office, stay cool. They act tough but they're all softies. Hell, they let me nail Shiori for almost a whole school term before she tilted." Yoko had disagreed: "They liked Sei for her good looks, but if they want something, they have ways of getting it. Be polite and careful if you ever get summoned there, Yumi!"
The headmistress straightened some papers in front of her, cleared her throat, and said. "I suppose we might as well get to the point, Fukuzawa-san. Is Yumi okay?"
Yumi nodded. Say as little as possible, Yoko and Sei had agreed.
"The rumors we're hearing are that you've been doing compensated lesbian dating all year, and writing about it in thinly veiled girls' fiction for Kobalt Press."
"Yes, that's correct," Yumi replied.
She was proud of herself. So far, they'd only gotten three words out of her.
"Is that all you have to say?" one of the sisters demanded, scandalized.
"Mmm hmm," Yumi said, nodding again. Did that count as one, two or no words. She decided mmmhmmm wasn't a word, so her score still stood at three.
"Yumi-san," the headmistress said, looking at her kindly. "What we want to know is why you, a nice wholesome average well-behaved girl at our academy, would actually do those things. That's why you're here."
"Oh?" asked Yumi.
The headmistress only nodded. Damn, she was good. Yumi resolved to keep an eye on her.
"I am sorry for any confusion. I will leave these matters to your imagination," Yumi tried. 14 words, but Sachiko was a wordy example, she already knew.
"We've heard that one already, Yumi," the headmistress scolded gently. "It only works for Ogasawara-san because the whole school's morbidly afraid of teeing off her wealthy, womanizing father. Yours is in the building trades, dear."
"Well," pondered Yumi, "I guess it's just the Yamayurikai way."
"Might I say something?" asked a new person who hadn't spoken up before, an elderly woman. Yumi suddenly recognized her as "the other lesbo writer for Kobalt," as she'd been described to Yumi when she saw her while meeting with an editor. Amazingly, that person hadn't clued in to the genesis of the "gay-hating girls' magazine editor" character in Yumi's next book. Yumi would have been predisposed to be grateful to this woman, Suga Sei (a name that coincidentally always seemed to rhyme with gay), as she had bailed out Satou Sei when they co-wrote a lesbian scandal novel for Kobalt. Suga Sei had claimed sole ownership and that got Satou Sei off the hook. But that was then, and this was now. Why had they dragged her in to this?
The headmistress leaned over and whispered something in Suga's ear that sounded suspiciously like "sic 'em!" to Yumi.
"Yumi, dear," Suga sei began. "We didn't get into this, but there are other rumors about you and your grande seur."
"We have a sexual relationship, yes." Okay, 28 words. Still, they really hadn't gotten anything out of her so far.
"Well, are you sure, dear? Because the rumors in question say she's been wandering off the farm with her cousin."
"Which cousin, the gay fashion plate or the tsundere?" one of the sisters asked.
"Both, actually," Suga-sensei said, smoothly. "Yumi, when you have this alleged sexual relationship, who's on top?"
"M-me!" Yumi stammered. Careful. Only 29 words, but don't show weakness now, Yumi!
"Now, Yumi, you see we are going to know when you lie to us. So let's try that question again."
"Sa-sachiko!" Yumi stammered again. Damn it!
"Now, that wasn't so hard. Okay, Yumi, we don't know what's going on. All we can see from here is a lovely, attractive, talented, rich and famous young woman getting tired of topping a boring, ordinary, middle-class 'five,' or 'six' on a good day, and going back to the beautiful people to get what she can't get at home. Is that correct?"
"N-No!" Yumi almost yelled, stepping away from the door. Damn it, she was cracking. Shore up, Yumi. Shore up. Don't tilt. Yoko had been all too right.
"I-I'm well paid." There, that should help.
"Oh, really? At Kobalt, of all places?"
She didn't know it, but she'd opened herself wide up, Yumi exulted.
"Well, if you call twice what you get a book well-paid. But no, I meant the compensated dating. I have mostly repeat customers, and no complaints about being boring, so far."
And if she could get Rei and Yoshino to agree to a "sister act threesome" the referral fee she'd get would enable her to take Sachiko to a women-only hot springs resort, once whatever had her on the rag now had run its course. And if she was screwing Touko, let alone Kashiwagi, Yumi vowed she'd show Sachiko what a real top was like.
Wait. That had drastically increased Yumi's word-count. Damn your eyes, Suga Sei!
She tried to remember Eriko's advice. The former Rosa Foetida had restricted her enjo-kousai to her father and brothers. By "keeping it in the family," Eriko had gotten top dollar for the exotic privilege of incest with the youngest member of the Torii family, and when she was called in to the office, she'd been able to establish that the dates she'd been photographed on were simply her spending time with her family, and walk away flouncing and smirking. She had had a bit of a stumble when she branched out to an older teacher, but she decided it couldn't hurt to claim he was her fiance. And so it worked out; Eriko had given Yumi tips when she was starting out, and apparently she was now grooming the teacher's daughter to start in on the water trade while still in elementary school "when you can make the serious money," as she put it. But Eriko's saying "always bring a condom" didn't seem to help here. Oh, but then there was, "Deny everything." That one had promise. And the original question of why Yumi was doing it was still pending, and the obvious answer wouldn't help anyone.
Before Yumi, the compensated lesbian dating queen of their area had been a girl named Yuko. When she came out as straight by getting knocked up by Kanako's father, that had sent the beanpole around the twist and into a creepy yandere stalker crush on Yumi - so thanks for nothing, Yuko. But wait, Yuko had chitchatted with Yumi about a weepy older woman. A novelist at Kobalt! Suddenly, Yumi saw a way through this.
"Well, my friend Yuko," Yumi emphasized, "says you meet interesting people doing compensated dating, and since we're so sheltered here, I felt as a Yamayurikai member, I needed to set an example of preparing for the world outside to the younger girls. For instance, there was this one much older woman ..."
"Ah, no need to go on, Yumi-san. That's a commendable attitude, we simply wanted to make sure nothing was happening that would disrupt school activities or harm our reputation. Your concern for the younger students is commendable. I suppose it's as you say, it's simply the Yamayurikai way."
Yumi heard laughter and noticed the headmistress was looking over at Suga Sei as she cracked up. Red-faced, Kasuga-sensei leaned over and whispered what sounded to Yumi's keen ears like "sleeping on the couch."
Seeing her chance, Yumi asked, "May I go now? I have things to see and people to do." That one always got a laugh out of the girls at the Rose mansion.
"Go ahead, Yumi," said one of the sisters. She had looked scandalized, before, but now just seemed somewhat defeated.
As Yumi left, she noticed the crowd had failed to disperse as ordered.
"Did you grass, Yumi?" one of the girls asked, plaintively.
"I didn't tell them a bloody thing," Yumi responded, folding her arms over her chest. After all, it was less than a word a minute.
At that, applause burst out among the assembled girls. They treated her to a well-earned fag and a shot of whiskey behind the Rose Mansion. Normally, Yumi wouldn't do that on school grounds, but she knew today she was golden.
She had just started to relax when Noriko and Shimako, for some reason, dumped a basket of cherry blossoms on her head.