Chapter 1: At The Touch of a Button
There’s a theory that in the city of Tokyo there is a store that sold anything you want. Not just the latest designer watch or sports car - though of course Tokyo has those too - but things like exotic food, that vintage toy you always wanted… or something perhaps a bit more out of the ordinary. It wasn’t as though it were openly advertised, but the city was a good place to dabble in magic if you knew where to look and who to ask. See your future? Easy. Love potions? Lots of fakes but the genuine article could be had too. Whatever your need, someone had it.
Mr. Fuijnami was a man with a very specific need. He’d spent weeks wandering, reading and finally just asking around for what he was after. He’d been shooed out of places, chased by the police and had some very pointed questions asked of him by his son, but the trail had finally led him to a small shop in the corner of Akihabara sandwiched in between a ‘build it yourself’ computer store and a rather extravagant boutique for crossdressers.
The door opened with the ring of a bell, before falling on the floor as Mr. Fujinami boldly stepped inside. The interior was dusty and piled with bric-a-brac. He took a moment to look for any sign of staff and, finding none, took a deep breath and proceeded to lose his patience. “Hey! Can I get some service in here?” he bellowed.
A middle-aged man hurriedly rushed into the room from the storeroom in the back. "We're closed, go away!"
Mr. Fujinami gave the shopkeeper a cold stare. One of the coldest he could ever manage, the kind he usually used on bill collectors and those who insisted on his son being drawing into the disgusting deviancy of being a woman.
The shopkeeper shrank back from Mr. Fujinami's gaze. Still, he showed defiance in his face. "I said, we're closed!"
"The door was open." Mr. Fujinami replied. "Therefore the shop is open, isn't it?"
The shopkeeper looked at the door, forced off its hinges. "Smashing down our door doesn't mean our shop is open!"
"Really?" Mr. Fujinami asked, as if he had accidentally left the kettle on and didn't realise it. "I didn't realise. But I'm looking for something for my son. Something like the famous Sexuality Remote, that I have heard is for sale in this very store."
The shopkeeper stared at him, and then trudged back into the store room. After a few minutes, he returned, holding a small mahogany box. Setting it on the glass counter in front of Fujinami, he opened it, revealing what seemed to be an ordinary TV remote. The only thing different were the markings: on the bottom was a logo of a ring formed of several interlocking symbols for male and female, each symbol a different rotation and shade of either blue or pink, but none exactly the same. The markings under the various buttons also were different, with buttons marked "Homo", "Hetero", "Bi", "Pan, and so on, and "Soft Butch", "High Femme", "Frat Boy", "Genderfuck" and so long.
Mr. Fujinami's eyes gleamed upon seeing the remote, even as the rest of his face belied no actual expression at all. The gleam disappeared quickly as the shopkeeper furtively closed the box again.
"And that's all you're getting of it!" The shopkeeper said. "This remote is not for sale. It's too dangerous to be in the hands of somebody like you. I won't part with this thing, even if you slapped me with a wad of bills!"
There was a pause for a moment.
"How about if I come over and break your fingers, one by one, until you gave it me for free?" Mr. Fujinami asked. "If you're still not willing after that, we can work on the toes, next. Followed by the hands..."
"Would you like it gift-wrapped?" The shopkeeper asked quickly.
The next morning at Tomobiki High School was somewhat quiet and subdued. People walked to school in a relatively normal fashion, the cool spring breeze fluttering through their hair. There were no mad rushes to beat the bell, no random outbreaks of violence, no curious events that would invariably be traced back to Ataru Moroboshi, his fiancée, or his friends and rivals. Even Ataru Moroboshi himself was walking to school in a rather sedate manner, Lum floating by his side.
To those who were used to the everyday mania that usually enveloped the district of Tomobiki, this was a sign that something was very, very wrong. Either that, or something particularly bad was going to happen today.
Mr. Fujinami didn't walk to school with the same sedate feeling. This was mostly because he didn't need to walk to school, as he already lived there with his son Ryuunosuke. But if he did need to walk to school, he would've been walking there with a purpose set firmly in mind.
His attempts to try and cure Ryuunosuke of his perverted urge to try and become a woman when he got back to Tomobiki was frustrated by the lack of AA batteries that the Remote that the shopkeeper had conveniently forgotten to include with his purchase. By the time he finally managed to get a hold of some batteries from a lost Walkman, his son was already in bed.
The next morning, Ryuunosuke was already out the door towards class, without even stopping to eat breakfast or even pick up his lunch. Mr, Fujinami was forced to prepare the Remote without even knowing if it was effective or not.
But instead of stewing in his frustrations with his son's bride Nagisa, Mr. Fujinami decided to test the remote on someone else before class began, and then wait for lunchtime if he was satisfied. Then he would ambush Ryuunosuke and give him a good dose of medicine, consisting of the power of the Sexuality Remote. And then, he would have the son he always wanted.
Nagisa, for his part, was only happy to clean up the room and make the bed while his father in law was busy having another laughing fit. It wouldn't be a wife's place to point out that maybe his "son" was avoiding him because of his constant cackling ever since he got back all the way from Akihabara. Besides, he was starting to feel that maybe Ryuunosuke would be better off keeping her distance from him.
Suddenly, the fit of laughter stopped, and Mr. Fujinami turned to Nagisa. "Nagisa-chan, if you would watch the store for me a moment..." He then sprinted headlong out of the room, still laughing maniacally.
Nagisa stood in the school store, confused. "Oh, okay."
It didn't take long before Mr. Fujinami found a suitable victim: the weedy little toad with glasses that always hung around those weirdoes Ataru and Lum like a bad smell. He walked down the halls towards the class, his three dumb friends in tow, oblivious of the fact that somebody might have been watching them. There he was, talking about his beloved Lum-san, the woman that he had attached himself to like such a nasty parasite.
Like a particularly persistent flea--no, a barnacle, the kind that still clings to rocks and laughs at the sea's most exhaustive attempts at removing it, mocking the sea, mocking him with his unsightly appearance... The injustice of it all, that such a creature would be found in something as beautiful and as all encompassing as the sea!
This would not go on any longer, Mr. Fujinami knew. He would be the one to pry the barnacles from the rocks, freeing the sea from its most disgusting presence.
He sprang in front of the guards, whipping his remote out from the waistband of his pants. "You, with the glasses! For the sake and the honour of the sea, I have come to give you JUSTICE!" He jammed his thumb down on the button marked "Gay", pointing the remote squarely at Megane, who was still standing dumbfounded in front of him.
It all happened in the space of a second: the light at the front of the remote lit up, a glowing red that crackled like lightning from Lum's fingertips, before a blinding beam flashed out and struck Megane squarely in the chest. Megane only had the chance to scream as he was sent flying backwards, landing square on his back.
Megane's friends looked back at Megane's smoking body, and then back at Mr. Fujinami. They scattered, running for their lives to the classroom.
Mr Fujinami blew off the smoke that wafted from the tip of the remote, and then made his way over to Megane, hauling him up and slapping him hard across the face several times, until he was sufficiently lucid enough.
"W-what just happened?!" Megane shrieked, struggling as he was held in Mr. Fujinami's grip.
"Oh, never mind that." Mr. Fujinami said dismissively. "Tell me: what do you feel for Lum-san at this moment?"
Megane stared at Mr. Fujinami. "What are you even talking about--"
Mr Fujinami cut Megane off with a another slap to the face. "Just tell me, do you love her or not!"
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Megane screamed. "I don't feel anything for Lum-san!"
Mr. Fujinami dropped Megane, letting him collapse to the floor again. "The remote does work! My son can finally be cured of his twisted fixations! This is the day I've been waiting for!"
He sprinted down the hall, laughing madly, leaving Megane sprawled on the floor.
Megane, for his part, was confused. Why did he say that about Lum-san. His beloved Lum-san?
His... beloved... Lum-san?
When Megane stumbled into the classroom several seconds later, he was pleased to find that at least Mr. Fujinami wasn't still around the school, trying to ambush him again. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only thing he could conceivably be pleased about at that moment.
Something felt strange within Megane. He felt like ever since Mr. Fujinami zapped him, something was taken from his life, leaving nothing but a gaping hole in his soul. A vast yawning chasm, a dark void in the middle of him that seemed to suck all the light from around him, making him feel empty. He tried watching his beloved Lum-san, but it seemed that even the shine was gone from her too. Instead of the feeling of beauty and light that she brought, Megane felt nothing.
And that was the worst thing of all, that nothing, a tangible absence of what he used to have. Megane could feel the cold sweat breaking out on his forehead, as he realised that something had become invariably wrong. His eyes scanned the room, desperately wondering, looking for a way to fill the hole that had been punched through him.
And then, at his most desperate moment, sitting at his desk realising that he has been made a shell of himself, that Shutarou Mendou walked into the room.
Megane never considered himself a scholar, not when he had all of the wonders that his VCR and Laserdisc player granted him, alone in his room at night. Even so, he dabbled in a few things, such as stories of Greek myth following his first viewing of Clash of the Titans. The sight of Mendou stepping into the room, the shafts of sunlight catching his black hair, as black as a raven's wing at midnight, brought forth images of those stories he read of beautiful men the Gods fought over jealously to possess, and cursed them because of their beauty.
And before he could stop himself, one such name, that of the man beloved of both Aphrodite and Persephone, tumbled from Megane's lips as Mendou looked his way: "Adonis!"
It was like magic: Megane could practically see Mendou covered in nothing but a shawl, lyre in hand. Or maybe like Narcissus, staring at his own image in the water, transfixed, wearing naught but a loose drape over his slim body--
Megane mentally slapped himself and tore his gaze from Mendou. Where did that come from? He knew that Mendou was a very attractive man, but to fantasise so vividly? The cold sweat on his brow only grew as he looked over at Lum again. She was still so carefree and beautiful, sitting there gazing out towards the window, but still she seemed to have dulled within his sight. It seemed that all interest in Lum had quickly faded, replaced with...
Megane rose from his seat, emitting a loud wail of despair, clutching and tearing at his constricting uniform. The other students turned to look at him, those closer to him trying to edge away, as he sobbed and screamed, and then collapsed on the floor, tucking his legs and arms close to his body and rolling back and forth.
Everyone stared at Megane in confusion. Already, talk started to rise up between the other students.
"What's gotten into him?"
"Did his TV break or something?"
"Did he forget to pick up some photos?"
"Did he realise Lum's just not into him?"
Only Mendou, being Mendou, pushed forward and tried to approach Megane carefully. Though he tried to put on a friendly face, it wasn't hard to notice the sheathed katana at his hip.
"Megane!" Mendou began, as he started to step closer. "What's wrong with you? What's going on?"
Megane paused in his fit of despair, his head rising up to stare at Mendou with wild eyes. "Mendou... My Adonis!" He scrambled away from Mendou, his back arching out like a frightened cat.
Mendou stared at Megane, partly in sympathy, and partly in confusion as he didn't exactly know what an Adonis was. Unlike Megane, he wasn't much for trying to be well-read, as it was much easier for him to seem well-read than otherwise.
"What are you talking about, Megane?" Mendou asked, taking another step closer. "I'm trying to help you here, aren't I?" As he took closer and closer, Megane seemed to look more fearful. "Is this about Lum-san again? Come on, you can tell me."
"Lum-san..." Megane said, his eyes only seeming to get wilder. "Something wrong... Something in me is gone..."
Mendou stared at Megane. "What kind of delusional junk are you talking about now?"
Megane said nothing, but his eyes were flitting across the room.
Mendou scowled and walked up to Megane. "Now I mean it, stop this stupidity right--" He squawked as Megane suddenly leapt onto him, arms wrapped around his waist. The full weight made him lean backwards, dangerously off balance.
"Mendou-san!" Megane wailed, right next to Mendou's ear. "I can't help myself! Ever since this morning, something strange has taken a hold of me!"
Mendou flailed desperately as Megane clung to him, his ear ringing. He braced his arms against Megane and pushed roughly, but he was deceptively strong for such a skinny guy.
The other classmates stared as the struggle went on. They knew Megane usually wasn't this hysterical, at least where Lum wasn't involved. But to be this manic towards Mendou? Murmurs began to run among the crowd as Mendou struggled against Megane.
"Get off me, you nutcase!" Mendou bellowed. "Before I have to draw my sword!"
"I can't!" Megane wailed. "I can't ever let you go! I love you!"
Now it was Mendou's turn to react badly. "You WHAT?!" He shrieked, loud enough to cause a ringing in Megane's ear. His sword slipped from his side, landing with a clatter on the floor.
"I said I LOVE you!" Megane screamed back. "Ever since you have walked in this room, I have loved you! Your beauty has eclipsed Lum-san totally, like the beauty of those favoured by the Gods of Olympus! My Narcissus! My Adonis! My Hyacinthos!"
Mendou began to struggle more desperately now, wild panic in his eyes. "No! Get off of me! I don't want to be your Nausicaa, your Hollandaise, or your Hyaku Shiki! I demand you unhand me!"
Lum floated up behind Megane silently, and cracked him on the back of his head with a small mallet. He slumped down on the floor, his grip on Mendou broken.
Mendou skittered backwards, slamming his back against the wall. His uniform jacket came loose in the struggle, and his hair was all in disarray. "What in the name of hell had gotten into him?!"
"Beats me," Lum said. "But he said it was ever since this morning. Maybe somebody got to him before he got to class?"
Ataru was already behind Megane, tying up his arms and legs with rope. "Whatever happened to him, we best be on our guard. You can never be too sure where the next crazy shit is gonna fly in from around here."
"I agree. You can never be too sure." Mr. Fujinami said, from atop a random student's desk. Said random student looked up and was about to demand what he was doing on his desk, but got a foot to his face instead.
The other students turned around as one to face Mr. Fujinami, holding the remote in his hand. His eyes quickly scanned the room, seeking out Ryuunosuke, locking on to her with laser focus.
"Ryuunosuke, it's time for me to cure you of your delusions of femininity forever!" He pointed the remote at Ryuunosuke, and mashed the button marked "Frat Boy". The blinding beam shot out from the tip of the remote, arcing over to strike...
...the chair where Ryuunosuke was sitting a moment earlier.
Mr. Fujinami barely had time to blink before Ryuunosuke's foot struck his face, sending him flying off the desk and into the nearby wall.
"What do you mean by 'delusions of femininity'?! I AM a girl!"
Some of the students moved around Ryuunosuke, trying to form a defensive wall against her father. Various objects such as school books, chairs, desks, mallets and bicycle chains were brandished as Mr. Fujinami rose to his feet.
Ataru and Mendou stood in front of Mr. Fujinami. Mendou picked up his sword from the floor, pulling it free from the scabbard. "Whatever it is you're planning on doing to Ryuunosuke-san, you won't get to do it!" Mendou said.
"Yeah," Ataru added. "If you want her, you're going to have to go through all of us!"
Mr. Fujinami looked at the class, standing before him, weapons brandished and fire in their eyes.
"Very well then."
The remote blazed as he zapped Ataru and Mendou, sending them tumbling to the floor, before taking out several of the students in front. Ryuunosuke leapt from the desk she stood on as several beams struck it, bouncing off and striking some of the other students, before trying another flying kick at her father.
The two battled, Ryuunosuke managing to dodge the beams of the remote while Mr. Fujinami dodged her attacks, managing to keep his distance from his daughter. As the fight raged on, those not downed from the remote scattered, using the desks as cover.
"I don't know what you think you can do," Ryuunosuke snarled. "I'm not going to let myself be a part of your crazy schemes! You're not getting anything from me!"
Mr. Fujinami's eyes widened, and he suddenly pointed behind Ryuunosuke. "Look, somebody's dropped a bra that's just your size!"
Ryuunosuke looked behind her, just long enough for Mr. Fujinami to strike. The beam struck her full on the back of her head, and she crumpled down to the floor.
"I've done it!" Mr. Fujinami crowed. "Now Ryuunosuke will be a true man among men!"
"What are you talking about?!" Lum shouted, peeking up from behind a desk. "What did you do to her? What did you do to my Darling?!"
"Oh, nothing much," Mr. Fujinami said. "I just used the legendary Sexuality Remote to change his personality to something more suitable for someone I would call my son. And as for your little Darling..." He motioned over to Ataru's prone body, a sleazy grin on his face. "I'm sure you'll find him to be very different when he wakes up..."
Lum stared at Mr. Fujinami, the electricity crackling around her. "How dare you hurt my Darling, you scum!"
Mr. Fujinami fired another beam from the Remote, and Lum promptly dropped down to the floor, unconscious. "Well, at least you won't have to wait to find out what it does now..."
As the door slid open and Onsen-Mark stepped inside to begin his class, he turned around. "Ah, teacher. Please excuse the mess. I was just settling something with my boy. I'll let you get on with your lesson now." He swiftly exited the now trashed classroom, leaving the stunned teacher to survey the mess.
Onsen-Mark stared at the wreckage of the classroom. "Wuh... what the hell just happened?!" He stuttered out.
Chapter 2: Different Channels
“Moroboshi! M-Moroboshi, you okay?!”
Ataru's eyes fluttered open, and he gazed on Onsen-Mark. "Teacher? What happened? Is anyone hurt?"
Onsen-Mark blinked. Several of the students surrounding Ataru took a reflexive step back. Ataru didn't seem to have his usual irritation or confusion after coming out of consciousness. He also spoke in a soft quiet tone, nothing like what he usually would speak.
"Um,” Onsen-Mark began, “you got shot by some weird remote thingy and..."
Ataru blinked owlishly, rising up into a sitting position. Onsen-Mark backed away from Ataru. "You feeling okay? No bumps or bruises?"
Ataru looked down at himself, silently. His eyes were wide and frightened, an expression which shook the other students to the core. He looked at the palms of his hands, covered in dirt and dust from his sudden collapse with an expression that looked something like terror.
"A... Ataru-kun?" Shinobu said nervously.
Ataru wrapped his arms about himself, his body shaking. The students who stepped closer could hear sobs coming from him.
Onsen-Mark stared at Ataru. "Moroboshi, what's gotten into you? What's wrong?"
"I'm UGLY!" Ataru suddenly shrieked. "I'm positively HIDEOUS!"
The students scattered back from Ataru at his outburst. Now confusion started to reign once again as Ataru got up to his feet.
Shinobu moved up to Ataru, trying to force a smile on her face as a placating gesture. "Ataru-kun, it's okay! I'm sure you're fine!" She stepped a bit closer, only to stop when she saw Ataru flinch. "Just calm down, okay?"
"That's easy for you to say, Shinobu," Ataru said. "But look at me... Look at these clothes, this body... How am I going to be beautiful in a shabby outfit like this?!"
Shinobu couldn't answer. She only blinked in confusion.
It was left to Onsen-Mark to step up. "Moroboshi! We're in the middle of a class here. Stop acting like a woman and man up already!" He stamped his foot on the floor to punctuate his statement, the sound bouncing off the walls.
Ataru was quiet for a moment, before he turned to look at Onsen-Mark. "You people..."
Onsen-Mark gulped. Ataru's eyes were brimming with tears.
"None of you people..."
Shinobu finally managed to find the strength to speak. "Ataru-kun, wait..."
"NONE OF YOU UNDERSTAND HOW I FEEL!" Ataru screamed, before sprinting at high speed out of the classroom. He left a sparkling trail of tears streaming from his eyes as he ran out.
Shinobu stared at Ataru's exit, utterly stunned. Ataru had pulled off an almost picture perfect dramatic exit, like a proper shoujo manga heroine. If it wasn't for the fact that it was a teenage boy doing it, it wouldn't have come across any differently than on the pages of Margaret or Nakayoshi.
Quickly, her gaze turned to Mendou, who was just starting to rise from the floor. "Mendou! Are you alright!" She stepped forward, trying to rush to Mendou's side.
"No! Don't come any closer!"
Shinobu stopped at Mendou's cry, her eyes wide. Just like Ataru, Mendou's voice was strangely... different. "What's wrong?"
"Don't look at me, Shinobu-chan!" Mendou said. "I'm simply a mess!" He brought his hand up over his face, vainly trying to hide it from the gaze of his classmates. "Please, just get me away from these people!"
A pair of Mendou's fangirls came up to Mendou's side, trying to cajole him. "Mendou-sama, you're still as handsome as ever! You don't even look injured from that fall!"
Mendou glared at the two girls. "JUST handsome?" His eyes narrowed at them. "What do you think I am, just some brute? I don't want to be just handsome!"
Shinobu swallowed hard. His tone of voice, the way he spoke was unmistakable. Mendou sounded just like Ataru did.
At that point, Shinobu realised how the remote worked. Mr. Fujinami did mention something about altering personalities, after all.
A soft groan from beside Shinobu made her turn her head, to see Megane rising up as well. Shinobu backed away in terror; there was no mistake now that Megane was also a victim of Mr. Fujinami and his remote. And if it was strong enough to make Megane actually lose his borderline obsession with Lum, then there was no telling what it was capable of.
Megane's eyes snapped open, focused fully on Mendou just inches away. "Mendou-san! Are you alright!" He strained against his bonds, trying to worm his way over to Mendou. Shinobu was almost afraid that he was going to attach himself to Mendou like a limpet again.
"Megane, don't!" Mendou cried out, causing Megane to suddenly stop in his tracks. "Don't come any closer, not while I'm like this!"
Megane, despite his bonds, didn't seem to miss a beat. "But my Adonis, you look like you're hurt! I can't bear to see you in pain, Mendou-san! The very idea of it... it makes my heart burn!"
Shinobu cringed at Mendou and Megane's conversation. So did some of the other students.
Mendou gazed at Megane, his eyes shining in the early morning light. "Megane-san…”
“You call me Satoshi, Mendou-san.” Megane replied, his eyes misting over.
“Satoshi-san.” Mendou corrected himself. “To think that even someone like you could feel so strongly..." He simpered away from Megane. "But I can't, not right now. Not like this. I want to be beautiful."
Shinobu blinked a little bit. "Beautiful? What are you talking about, Mendou?"
Mendou stood up from his kneeling position on the floor. "Why, isn't it obvious?" He paused for an answer. When it was obvious that nobody was willing to oblige him, he continued. "I want to shine! I want to show everyone in Tomobiki the real me! The me that has been hiding inside of me all of time!"
Megane looked at Shinobu, before carefully stepping to his feet. "I have no idea what you mean, my dear..." He tried to put on a smile for his beloved. "But I would do anything to help you shine. I promise you."
Mendou and Megane exchanged a meaningful gaze, the kind that would be accompanied with pink pastels and some flying rose petals drifting across a sudden breeze blowing between them, and maybe even some dreamlike bubbles floating along.
The meaningful moment, however, was cut short when Sakura burst into the room. She caught sight of Mendou and Megane's moment, in the short time it lasted until they both noticed her in the doorway.
The first words out of her mouth as she saw Mendou and Megane together was, "The legend must really be true...!"
All eyes fell on Sakura as she opened her kit bag and made her way over to the two. "You know what's wrong with them?" Shinobu asked as she watched Sakura start examining them.
"Well, when I heard that Ryuunosuke's father was zapping people with a TV remote, and blabbering about making a man out of his daughter, it didn't take long before I put two and two together." Sakura examined Mendou's face, shining a pen light in each eye.
Mendou tried his best to shy away from Sakura while she tried to examine him. "The Sexuality Remote is one of those legends that is too silly to think of as true, until you actually see it happen with your own eyes."
Shinobu stared at Sakura. "The Sexuality Remote? You mean there's seriously something that allows you to control somebody's sexuality?"
"In a sense," Sakura replied, as she started examining Megane instead. Unlike Mendou, Megane didn't shy away. However, he didn't seem to have any reaction to being so close to Sakura, even when she cut the rope restricting him. The only thing that could come close was the squint he did when she pushed aside his glasses to examine his eyes.
"I heard that it could control more than just one's sexual preference, but also their gender expression. It sort of changes their personality to fit the setting the wielder chooses for them. Thankfully, the effect only lasts for anywhere from a few minutes to a week, at best. But they'll remember it for a lifetime."
Sakura moved away from Megane (whose right eye was starting to twitch a little), and stepped over to the prone body of Ryuunosuke, moving her with the toe of her shoe. "I bet she was the first target. I don't even want to know what setting he used on her..."
Shinobu hurried over to kneel at Ryuunosuke's side as she began to stir. "Ryuunosuke! Are you alright? What did your father do to you?"
Ryuunosuke's eyes opened, darting between the two women who stood above her.
"Ryuunosuke?" Shinobu asked.
"Ryuunosuke, are you alright?" Sakura asked.
"Sakura-sensei..." Ryuunosuke uttered weakly. "Closer..."
Sakura leaned over Ryuunosuke, bringing her face in closer. "What is it?"
Ryuunosuke's hand shot out. Before anyone could react, she grabbed one of Sakura's breasts and squeezed roughly.
"Your tits look so good from this angle, Sakura." Ryuunosuke grinned, and kissed Sakura roughly on the lips. She leapt to her feet as Sakura skittered backwards, the smile turning predatory. "What? Don't act like you didn't enjoy it!"
Shinobu's jaw dropped open.
Sakura gritted her teeth. "That's definitely the 'Frat Boy' setting..."
Onsen-Mark went over to his desk, sat down, and laid his head on it. Unnoticed by the other students, he quietly began to cry as another lesson went down the drain.
Ataru sat beneath the shade of one of the big trees out on the school grounds, his knees in, arms wrapped around them. It was still difficult for him to grapple the feelings that had suddenly burst forth from inside of him. Suddenly, it seemed that the usual clothes he wore felt wrong, even though they were worn for years and usually fit like a glove. The usual school uniform and casual jeans and shirts weren't going to cut it any more.
Ataru wanted something different. Something more.
Ataru wanted to be beautiful.
He bowed his head and wept silently. How was he going to do that, when he was known for so long as a pervert and an idiot? The beauty that he so wished for seemed to be so far out of reach...
Ataru jumped with a shriek, causing the person who was standing next to him to stumble backwards and fall flat on their backside. He turned his head to see Nagisa, Ryuunosuke's crossdressing fiancée, in a pretty yellow summer dress and wooden sandals.
He gazed at Nagisa for a moment as he righted himself again. "Nagisa..."
"You remembered my name?" Nagisa said brightly. "I was worried you thought I was a stranger or something."
Ataru kept his gaze on Nagisa as he stood up, hands behind his back. They first met not that long ago, but Ataru was somewhat impressed that Nagisa could manage to look so pretty and feminine despite being such a strong boy. If it wasn't for Ataru's finely honed girl-seeking abilities, he wouldn't have even been able to tell Nagisa was a guy in the first place.
If there was one person in Tomobiki who could help fulfil Ataru's wish, then Nagisa was definitely it.
Ataru creeped closer to Nagisa. "Nagisa... I want to ask you something."
"Of course, Ataru-kun." Nagisa said brightly. "I never thought you would."
"Well, this might be a bit of a strange question..." Ataru continued, looking away and poking the tips of his index fingers together. "I want to know... Can you make me beautiful?"
Nagisa blinked. "Huh? Beautiful?" He stepped closer to Ataru. "When you say that, do you mean... Like me?" He examined Ataru's face carefully.
"Yes," Ataru said excitedly. "Yes, just like you!"
"Well, I don't see why not." Nagisa smiled softly. "You look pretty handsome enough right now, so it wouldn't take that much work to make you beautiful..."
Ataru's eyes went wide. "Really?"
Nagisa beamed. "Of course!" He then squeaked as he was caught in a bone-creaking hug.
"Thank you! Thank you so much!" Ataru squeezed Nagisa tightly, making him squeak even more. "You don't know how much this means to me!"
"If I didn't before, I sure know now..." Nagisa said after a gasp for air. "I've got to let my friends know we got you coming in after school!" He pulled out a rather old, used looking mobile phone, that would've been top of the line about five or six years ago, and started typing out a message, to send out to a certain group of people Nagisa knew. "Don't worry, these people will know exactly what to do with you."
In the various classrooms in Tomobiki High, several mobiles quietly vibrated. These phones belonged to a small and very exclusive group of individuals within the student body of the school, bound together by a single interest, and a single purpose. Each of them checked their phones, some in the middle of class, some afterwards, and found Nagisa's message:
As class ended, the students all made their excuses, and headed off towards the otherwise empty, yet clean and well-kept classroom where they usually met after school. They needed to prepare for the undertaking that lay before them.
The Tomobiki High Crossdressing Club, after all, had a reputation to uphold.
In Class 2-F, however, a different undertaking was on Onsen-Mark's plate.
After managing to clean up the classroom of whatever anarchy that Ryuunosuke's father had inflicted on it, Onsen-Mark tried his best to do a slightly truncated lesson. Thankfully, it was at least somewhat more sedated, but now there was something strange in the air that Onsen-Mark couldn't ignore.
Ryuunosuke, formerly a quiet, reserved kid, now was openly disdainful, spending more time leering at the girls than trying to concentrate on her studies. It seemed that for some reason, probably because of that accursed remote her father brought in, Ryuunosuke had become more like that disgusting Moroboshi than what she used to be.
Mendou was studious as always, but now seemed different as well. His legs were crossed at the ankle, and his arms were close in. It was like he was more of a girl than anything else.
Megane, however, just sat in his usual seat, but spent most of his time staring at Mendou. Aside from the object of his affection, it seemed that barely anything about him had changed.
As for Lum, well... Lum managed to recover, but now it seemed that she was bothered by her clothes, constantly tugging and pulling at them. Small growls of consternation came out as she struggled to sit comfortably.
Onsen-Mark was glad when the bell finally rang and everybody spilled out of their seats to take a break. But out of everyone in that room, he thought that he needed the break most of all.
At the bell, Ryuunosuke rose from her seat. Her eyes scanned the room hungrily, before locking on one of the girls sitting with a couple of her friends. Without saying a word, she sauntered her way over, thumbs hooked in her belt loops. As the girls noticed, Ryuunosuke leaned on a desk and started making conversation.
Shinobu watched Ryuunosuke throughout, a nervous fear welling up inside of her. She knew that even if Ryuunosuke did like girls before (and she did suspect as much), this wasn't the way she usually acted towards them. Was this what the Sexuality Remote was capable of?
Shinobu slipped out of her desk and crept closer to Ryuunosuke, hiding behind an empty desk. She peeked over the top, watching her carefully. She strained her ears to listen in on the conversation.
"Seriously? You're going to go hang with Mendou?" She asked one of the girls, who Shinobu recognised as Matsubariya Momoe: one of the girls in her class most desired by the boys, not to mention one of Mendou's biggest admirers.
Momoe, to Shinobu's relief, didn't seem to be biting just yet. She turned her face away with a disdainful sniff. "Mendou is a man of class, Fujinami-kun."
"Yeah, and by that you mean he's loaded out the ass." Ryuunosuke sneered back. "Be honest, you're just looking for a piece of that guy's fat wallet, aren't you?"
Momoe stared at Ryuunosuke, her mouth open. "H-how dare you speak to me like that!"
Ryuunosuke stepped forward and landed a hand on the desk Momoe was sitting at. "Come on... You know Mendou just likes to string girls along. A pretty girl like you doesn't deserve to stick their faces in a dry trough like Mendou."
Shinobu seethed. Was she comparing Momoe to a farm pig?! This was going too far! But Momoe's expression was wavering... It looked like she was actually being charmed by that swill!
Kumiko, another Mendou admirer, stepped up. "At least Mendou has it where it counts! He's a real man! He's actually a man! What have you got that's better than him?"
Ryuunosuke rose up from the desk, and moved up to Kumiko in such a smooth movement that Shinobu could barely believe it was as casual as it looked. She cupped under Kumiko's chin, raising it up to look fully at her face.
"What have I got? How 'bout everything else?" Ryuunosuke grinned dangerously, a smile that could melt glaciers. "Or maybe, just everything you need?"
Kumiko stared at Ryuunosuke. "Everything...? Do you really mean it?"
Ryuunosuke smirked, not even missing a beat. "Why don't you try me sometime? It'll be worth your while."
Momoe bolted upright from her seat. "Excuse me? Weren't you trying to chat me up?" She bustled her way past Kumiko. "You can't just hook me and throw me back in like that!"
Unfortunately, Momoe only got shoved back by Kumiko. "Back off, you! You can go after Mendou all you like! I'm gonna go for Ryuu-chan now!"
The rest of the class stared in horror as Kumiko and Momoe began to bicker violently, while Ryuunosuke just shrugged and walked off.
"Typical girls..." Ryuunosuke said. "They always say one thing, but dangle a nice piece of bait and they'll dance to your tune..."
Shinobu felt her temperature spike up. She rose up from behind the desk to walk over to Ryuunosuke, her eyes burning. "And what is it you mean by that?"
Ryuunosuke smirked. "Oh, hey there. I was wondering what you were doing behind that desk. I thought you were just watching me because you wanted me or something."
"Wanted you?!" Shinobu growled out. "Listen to yourself! Do you even know what you sound like right now? It's as if Ataru and Mendou had a kid and taught him everything they knew!"
Ryuunosuke snorted dismissively. "Those two? Seriously? Those two are just a pair of snivelling toads! I'm more manlier than the pair of them!"
Shinobu crossed her arms. "You're disgusting, Ryuunosuke-kun! Your father may be proud of what you become, but I'm not! Nobody else is! I bet even your mother, wherever she is, would be ashamed to see you like this!"
Ryuunosuke scowled at Shinobu's last remark. "Let me tell you somethin', sister..." She raised her finger, ready to deliver a blistering put-down to Shinobu...
...but nothing came out.
Ryuunosuke stared at Shinobu for several long seconds, her pointing finger hanging in confusion. "W-what the hell was I doing...?!"
Shinobu blinked. "Ryuunosuke-kun...?"
"I was zapped by that remote, and the next thing I know I'm trying to hit on girls like I'm Mendou or something..." Ryuunosuke stared at herself. "Oh man, this is disgusting!"
Shinobu beamed brightly. "Ryuunosuke-kun, you're normal again!" She launched forward and hugged Ryuunosuke tightly. "I was worried that you wouldn't ever get back to normal!"
Ryuunosuke hugged Shinobu back gently. "Well, I'm me again, I guess..."
At that moment, the classroom door slid open. "Hey guys, sorry for missing class..."
Everyone looked up to see Lum. Their eyes widened, however, as they saw what she was wearing: the boy's uniform for Tomobiki High, complete with a pair of small boys' indoor shoes.
"I felt like I needed a change, okay?" Lum explained in a boyish tone, a blush creeping across her cheeks. "I wanted to see how you guys felt wearing this."
"Don't tell me," Shinobu murmured to Ryuunosuke. "This is the effect that Lum got from that remote?"
Ryuunosuke shrugged. "Beats me. I can’t even believe the way I was this morning."
As school finished, Ryuunosuke, Lum and Shinobu quickly decided to head out of school before any new chaos could come up. Already the effects of the remote had taken hold, with several guys either sitting in a more feminine manner than usual, or mooning after other guys. Plus, Kumiko and Momoe had both attempted to ask Ryuunosuke on a date, resulting in a vicious catfight.
Ryuunosuke supposed that it was fate that led her back to the nurse's room, and Sakura-sensei. Probably to answer for the crimes that she committed thanks to that damn remote, Ryuunosuke thought to herself.
Shinobu knocked on the door. After a pause, it opened just enough so a single baleful eye could peer through.
"Shinobu? Lum? Ryuunosuke?"
Ryuunosuke swallowed hard, before executing a ninety-degree bow. "Hello, Sakura-sensei. Please don't kill me."
There was a pause before the door opened the rest of the way. "Thank heavens you're back to normal." She looked over at Lum curiously. "You, on the other hand..."
Lum scowled at Sakura. "What's wrong with wearing the boys' uniform?"
"You're a girl!" Sakura said.
"What does that have to do with anything?" Lum floated past Sakura as indignantly as she can manage.
Shinobu and Ryuunosuke followed Lum inside, Sakura quickly shutting the door behind them. As Ryuunosuke sat in a chair, Sakura subjected her and Lum to a battery of questions, including on if she felt the urge to drink beer, peep at girls, or bully weaker kids.
After several questions, Sakura sat back, crossing her legs. "It seems that Ryuunosuke's fully free of the Sexuality Remote's control. Her desire to be more feminine must have fought off the Frat Boy setting quicker than I thought. And thankfully, Lum doesn't seem to have been hit with the same setting, so she's safe."
"Then Ryuunosuke's all better?" Shinobu asked. "Thank goodness!"
Sakura nodded, crossing her arms in an authoritarian fashion.. “You really can’t tell with the Sexuality Remote. It isn’t just a warper of minds, but a key to unlock secret desires. The effects of the remote can bring to the surface things that not even the victim can be aware of.” She turned her head to look at Ryuunosuke. “On the other hand, I should find it very unlikely that Ryuunosuke could desire to be even more butch than she already is.”
"That’s a real pity," Mr. Fujinami said from atop one of the examination beds, pushing aside the concealing curtain. Everyone else jumped back in shock. If nothing else, it had to be admitted that Mr. Fujinami had a talent for making a surprising entrance.
"I would have thought the Sexuality Remote would have cured my idiot son's delusions.” He continued, pulling the remote from the waistband of his pants. “Looks like some more extensive treatment is in order!"
"Ryuunosuke doesn't need any more treatment from you!" Sakura shouted. "You can't force your daughter into something she's not, or doesn't even WANT to be!"
Another red flash, and Sakura fell hard to the floor.
"Why don't you see for yourself, sensei?" Mr. Fujinami said. "I bet you'd be better off as a lesb..."
His quip was interrupted, however, when Ryuunosuke's fist slammed into his jaw at an exceptionally high speed. Like Sakura, he toppled to the floor, blood dripping from his mouth. The Sexuality Remote slid from his limp hand to land hard on the floor, breaking in half.
The second Mr. Fujinami hit the floor Lum was on him, tying his arms behind his back with a length of rope and his legs with some spare bandages.
Ryuunosuke rubbed her aching knuckles as Mr. Fujinami was secured. "That's what you get, asshole. You get knocked out."
"But so’s the remote..." Shinobu said, gazing at the sparking pieces of circuits and plastic. "At least the effects wear off. We’d better get Sakura safe and comfortable for now.”
She turned to glare at Mr. Fujinami’s unconscious body. “Then we can both take out the trash.”
Megane followed behind Mendou to the school entrance, wiping his glasses with a cloth. “Shutarou-san… This temporary malady… Surely you could just endure it for as long as it takes before it wears off?”
Shutarou looked pained, in the sort of poetic way that he was known for. “I wish I could, Satoshi-kun… But I feel so much like a stranger in my own skin right now. I feel like I can’t deny my urges any longer.” He turned to Megane fully, a glint in his eye. “I simply must find a dress!”
Megane put his glasses back on. “Is that so?”
Shutarou nodded. “A pretty one. Preferably in white, with a modest hem. Nothing gaudy or too frilly.”
Megane mulled it over for a moment. “I suppose we have no choice then. We’re going to have to take drastic measure.” He looked up at Shutarou again, his glasses shining in the late afternoon light. “We’re going to have to speak with Shiowatari-san.”
Nagisa wandered across the school grounds, a spring in his step, carrying a bag with four bottles of barley tea inside. Already a sense of anticipation was bubbling up inside of him. Today was going to be a very good day indeed.
Not only did Nagisa find himself with his first project ever since he joined the Tomobiki High Crossdressing Club (as an advisor, as he wasn’t formally a student at the school), but it was also just in time for the big Rainbow Pride rock concert being put on at Club Kitty, one of Tomobiki’s most well-known nightspots.
Nagisa felt giddy as he imagined bringing Ataru out in front of a crowd like that: the so-called Cancer of Tomobiki High, turned into the most beautiful of maidens. It made him feel lighter than air.
It wasn’t long before Nagisa arrived at his destination: a small storage shed behind one of the school gymnasiums, painted a light yellow. Some time ago, it was a practice area for the Boxing Club, but that club since moved to a different place. Now it was the base of operations for the Crossdressing Club, an enigmatic institution indeed, mostly because nobody really wanted to know what they got up to. However, the Crossdressing Club was often on the lips of various students and teachers, and rare was the student who had no idea the club existed.
Nagisa smiled as he spotted a lone figure leaning against the wall, next to the door. A young man, tall and stout and rather strong looking, with close-cropped black hair. He would have been at home at the Boxing club, if they haven’t had to disband due to a lack of new members coming in. At the boy’s feet was a large box of black lacquer, decorated with gold leaves.
Nagisa skipped up to the boy, a grin spreading across his girlish face. “Kenpii! You’re here already!”
Ogami Kenta, alias Kenpii, looked at Nagisa a moment before looking away, his brows creasing.
Nagisa tilted his head, frowning at Kenta. “Don’t be so shy, Kenpii. You know the club accepts you as a member, don’t you?”
Kenta didn’t look at Nagisa. “I’m here to do my thing. What’s been asked of me. Nothing more.”
Nagisa sighed. He knew Ogami was tough to get through in most circumstances. It seemed that he was going to have to resort to drastic measures.
He stepped closer to Kenta, and put on his sweetest voice. “What’s wrong, Kenpii? You’re usually such a good boy for me.” He stepped closer to run his hand through Kenta’s short hair. “Won’t you be good for me today?”
Like electric, Kenta jumped back, his face turning the most pleasing shade of red, a hand moving up automatically to try and cover it. “What do you think you’re trying to pull?!” He glared at Nagisa. “I’m here, aren’t I?!”
Nagisa only smiled innocently. “I just wanted to make sure you were going to be a good boy. Nothing’s too good for what I’ve got in store for you.” He stepped past Kenta, pulling the storage shed key from the pocket of his apron. “With your help, I’m sure it’ll be a success. I’ll make sure of that myself.”
Kenta scowled. “Yeah, well you’re going to have to convince Natsuki-senpai of that.” He hefted up the big black lacquer box. “He’s the one running the club.”
Nagisa only smiled as he unlocked the door and stepped inside. “Come on, Kenpii. Since when have I led you wrong?”
Kenta had no answer. He knew he had no good answer.
The silence was interrupted by a new voice: “Shiowatari-san? Could we have a minute with you?”
Nagisa and Kenta turned to see Megane approaching, Mendou following behind him. Mendou hid himself slightly behind Megane, embarrassed by the new eyes that fell on him.
Nagisa smiled warmly. “Of course, Megane. What do you want with little ol’ me?”
Ryuunosuke flung her father’s unconscious body into the small storage shed that she called home, making sure he made a satisfying thud as he landed inside. “That takes care of him.” Thanks to Lum’s work with the rope and bandages, Mr. Fujinami was completely immobile. Even his mouth and eyes were covered in a layer of gauze.
Shinobu watched Ryuunosuke as she shut the door of the shed. “Do you think he’ll be alright in there?”
Ryuunosuke shrugged. “He’s gotten out of worse. Let’s get out of here. Nagisa’s gone out, said something to do with that club he’s in. He won’t be coming back for a while.”
As the two set off across the school grounds, Ryuunosuke gazed silently over at Shinobu. Quietly, she hoped that the whole thing with the Sexuality Remote would be water under the bridge, but she knew Shinobu held grudges for far less. Well, maybe not towards her, but she didn’t want to risk it.
Shinobu turned her head towards Ryuunosuke. Ryuunosuke quickly turned away, trying not to meet Shinobu’s gaze.
“What’s wrong?” Shinobu asked.
Ryuunosuke sweated for a moment. Was Shinobu still looking at her?
“Is it about this morning?” Shinobu asked, more insistently.
Ryuunosuke swallowed hard. “What d’ya mean?” She tried her best to avoid looking at her.
“You know what I mean,” Shinobu said. “Are you still worried about what Sakura-sensei said?”
Ryuunosuke stopped still. This was the question that she hoped and prayed that Shinobu wouldn’t be asking her.
Shinobu moved in front of Ryuunosuke, trying to look in her eyes. “Ryuunosuke-kun, it’s okay now. The remote’s broken and...”
Ryuunosuke’s brows furrowed. “You might say it’s okay, but I don’t feel any damn better!” She looked away angrily. “After that thing hit me I was chasing skirts and acting sleazy like I didn’t know any better! You think I can just go back to being the same again after that?”
Shinobu shook her head. “I don’t know. Do you think that maybe it wasn’t just the remote talking when you were charming those girls?”
Ryuunosuke blinked, her face turning a deep crimson. She was terribly silent for a moment, because she knew that Shinobu scored a direct hit on her. And of all the people in the school it had to be, it had to be Shinobu...
“You know, once I wished you were really a boy, back during that date we had...”
Ryuunosuke turned back to look at Shinobu, her brow furrowed.
“I know it sounds unfair for you, doesn’t it?” Shinobu continued. “But I really wished it were true. Because then maybe, I wouldn’t have had to keep these feelings locked away.”
Ryuunosuke stared at Shinobu silently. Her mind filled with all the possible things she could say in response to Shinobu’s words, but they all jammed up in her head, unable to get out. Instead, she reached out silently, and placed a hand on Shinobu’s shoulder.
“Do you really think so?” She asked finally, turning Shinobu gently to face her. “Do you still like me that way? Even as a girl?”
Shinobu looked at Ryuunosuke for a moment, before breaking into a giggle. “Ryuunosuke, you really have changed.”
Ryuunosuke said nothing. She just gazed at Shinobu, a meaningful glance shared between them, as the wind stirred the grass around them.
“Are you guys gonna stand there, or are you finally gonna kiss?”
Both eyes turned towards Lum, in her boys’ uniform, hovering in front of them curiously. Now aware of an audience, both of their faces started to turn a bright red.
“Uh, we weren’t g-gonna...” Ryuunosuke said. “Well, m-m-maybe we could, but…”
“I mean, we could, I guess…” Shinobu said. “Wait, I didn’t mean it like that!”
Ryuunosuke and Shinobu stopped and exchanged glances. Then they burst out laughing.
Lum hovered there, confused and slightly indignant. “When you’re done laughing your asses off, maybe you can tell me where Darlin’ is?”
“Oh no, she even says ‘Darling’ like a boy would!” Shinobu squeaked in between giggles. “I can’t breathe!”
It took a short while for Ataru to find the small storage shed behind the gymnasium, mostly as he had thought from Nagisa’s description that he meant the storage shed the Fujinamis called home. As he noticed Nagisa, as well as the three other men surrounding him, Ataru started to feel the urge to flee the scene. It took all of his nerve to stay there and call out to Nagisa.
“Nagisa-chan! I’m here now!”
Megane and Mendou turned to see Ataru running up to them. “Wait, you mean your project is Moroboshi?” Megane said, somewhat taken aback.
Mendou waved slightly. “I don’t mind if Ataru-chan joins us. If he wants to be beautiful as well, he has every right to be here as I do.”
Nagisa nodded, his chest swelling with pride. “That’s a fine way of putting it, Shu-chan. Now let’s get inside. The others will be coming soon, and we’ve got to get everything prepared, alright?”
“Hey, wait a minute!”
All heads turned to see Lum swooping over the small storage shed, Shinobu and Ryuunosuke rushing in after them. She landed with a thump in front of Nagisa, her eyes flashing.
“Whaddya think yer doin’ with my Darlin’?”
Ataru waved hesitantly. “It’s okay, Lum! Nagisa-senpai’s going to make me and Shuu-chan beautiful!”
Lum blinked, her expression of anger quickly falling from her face. “Beautiful?”
Nagisa nodded, a smile on his face. “Of course, dear. Tacchan and Shu-chan had come here asking for my help, and I would disgrace my good reputation with the Tomobiki High Crossdressing Club if I didn’t provide any help.”
Lum turned to look at Ataru, but all she got from him was just a shy look. She looked back at Nagisa. “No funny stuff, okay?” She floated up to Nagisa, a scowl still on her face. “I’ll be watching you.”
Nagisa beamed back at Lum. “I do love an audience!” she looked over towards Ryuunosuke and Shinobu. “I suppose you two would like to join her?”
Ryuunosuke simply shrugged. “Got nothin’ better to do.”
Nagisa opened the door, and everyone quickly stepped inside, Kenta with his massive black box bringing up the rear. As he stepped inside, Nagisa turned the wicker bamboo shade covering the window of the door, from an unpainted side to one inked with a pattern of red roses in full bloom. To the other club members, that was the signal that a meeting was in progress.
Sakura stirred slightly, as a sweet, unfamiliar voice floated through the fog of unconsciousness. As she came back into consciousness, the memory of the red flash of light from the Sexuality Remote came back like a haze.
Sakura opened her eyes with a snap, and turned to see a woman there. She looked familiar, a woman who had certainly dropped over the precipice of middle-age, but at least didn’t seem to have been damaged too much from the fall. As their eyes met, the woman’s face went from a frown of consternation to a smile of relief.
“You’re awake. Finally, I was wondering what my idiot son had done to have you napping on one of the sick beds like this…”
As she smiled, Sakura finally twigged on the woman. “You’re Ataru’s mother, aren’t you?” She raised herself to a sitting position. “What are you doing here?”
Mrs. Moroboshi had returned to an expression of consternation. “Well, I heard from the principal that Ataru had been attacked by the father of that Fujinami kid. I’m surprised that such a sweet young woman could have been raised by such a violent man.” She frowned slightly at that. “But he said I should come and speak with you.”
Sakura groaned. “Yes, of course. Mr. Fujinami has always been irrational. This is just him taking it too far.”
Mrs. Moroboshi said something in response, but Sakura didn’t notice. The light of twilight coming in through the window had caught the gloss on her lips, making them sparkle as she spoke. Sakura couldn’t help but stare at those pink glossy lips. It certainly made her marvel at how a woman who had dealt with such a daily stressful situation as being the mother of Ataru Moroboshi could still stay so beautiful…
“Sakura-sensei? Are you alright?”
Sakura snapped back to reality. “What? Oh, I didn’t quite catch that.”
“I was asking why that brute had attacked my son. Did he try and harass his daughter?” Mrs. Moroboshi. “Honestly, you look like you’re somewhere else.”
“I was just looking at your lips, that’s all!” Sakura bit back. “They just look so pretty, I couldn’t...“ She blinked, realising the words that were coming out of her mouth. “I couldn’t stop… looking.”
Sakura sweated under Mrs. Moroboshi’s gaze. Now she was certain that she was affected by the Remote. And she just had to find out in the most embarrassing fashion, too.
“I’m sorry, I’m having a very strange day today. Maybe you should ask someone else about where your son is?” Sakura pasted on a smile as she moved to rise from the bed. She didn’t expect Mrs. Moroboshi to have a dreamy look on her face and flushed cheeks.
“Thank you, Sakura-san.” She cooed. “I never thought somebody like you would think I’m pretty!”
“Really?” Sakura squeaked, before recollecting herself. “Er, I mean, it’s just a passing fancy…”
Mrs. Moroboshi smiled and sat herself on the bed, next to Sakura. “Why are you denying it? I’d sure like to hear more about what you think about me.” She smiled and batted her eyelashes at Sakura.
Sakura swallowed hard. It occurred to her at that moment that Ataru might not have inherited his tendency toward deviance from his father, like she originally thought. “What I’m trying to say is that this is only temporary. That is, I’m not myself right now.”
“Then should we waste our time talking about these ephemeral things?” Mrs. Moroboshi asked. “Can’t I enjoy your company for now, even if it supposedly will only last for a short while?
Sakura blinked. “Are you asking me on a date?”
Mrs. Moroboshi smiled. “No, but now that you’ve made the suggestion…”
“I didn’t suggest anything!” Sakura said. “I only asked a question!”
“I’d like to go out with you, then.” Mrs. Mooboshi said smugly. “Give me an hour and I’ll be at Cafe Pigmon. You’ll be welcome to come, of course!” She rose from the bed, skipping towards the door. As she opened it, she turned back to smile at Sakura. “I’d love to see you there, though!”
Sakura stared after the closing door. All was silent for a moment, but for the sound of the summer wind through the trees outside.
Then Sakura swore to herself, and got up to get changed for her date.
Took me a while to actually finish this. Mostly because for this chapter, I completely rewrote this chapter from scratch. It has helped improve on my first draft, though.
Regarding the students, Ogami-kun and the Crossdressing Club are entirely of my own creation. However, Kumiko and Momoe are one-time characters from the manga, hangers-on for Mendou. I should probably add more of the one-timers to my work, as some of them are pretty entertaining in their own right. I wanted to write a story which didn't just involve Ataru and Lum, which twisted around the dynamic of the characters as they usually are in canon, and to flesh out some of the student body a bit more than usual.
For those who might be excited about the prospect of Ataru and Mendou in dresses, don't worry. Next chapter is when I show the magic of that in detail. See you then.
Chapter 4: Behind The Scenes
At last, the Tomobiki Crossdressing Club are all together, and in full effect. Ataru and Mendou begin their transformation, while Ryuunosuke finds herself getting swept along as well. Rainbow Rock is about to start, and the youth of Tomobiki are about to run wild!
Inside the clubhouse wasn’t exactly what Lum, Ryuunosuke or Shinobu had expected. It had the furnishings of a usual after-school club room: there were two large lockers against the far wall, tall and wide and painted with purple and pink flowers, abstract shapes and little dancing figures. Beside the lockers were a long table that reached the corner, furnished with a lamp, a large mirror, and a CD stereo system. Four tables were arranged against the near wall, chairs stacked neatly on top.
But there were also furnishings that weren’t part of an average after-school club room: all of the walls were covered in drapes of fabric in various colours and patterns, acting as wall decorations and curtains to block the windows. Three dressmaker’s mannequins stood in a corner opposite to the desk, like soldiers to attention. A curtain hung a third of the way across the room, on a rail that reached fully across. And dotted around the room were metal folding chairs and an old, ratty couch. It looked for all the world like a fabric store exploded in the middle of the room.
“Make yourselves at home, guys!” Nagisa sang as he danced across the room, Kenta lugging his box over to the long table. “Me and Kenpii are just gonna start setting things up for you guys!”
Ataru and Mendou quickly sat down in the middle of the room, while Ryuunosuke leaned against a wall. Lum hovered over the room, arms behind her head, while Kenta set down his big black box on the long table and pulled up one of the chairs in front of it.
Shinobu peered over Kenta’s shoulder as he lifted the lid off the box, and undid some latches inside. Her eyes widened as the box unfolded to reveal shelves of lipstick, foundation, rouge, eye liner and mascara, in various colours and forms, arranged around a centre spacing filled with various brushes, wipes and a pack of cotton pads.
“You… You do makeup?”
Kenta looked at Shinobu for a brief, stony moment before returning to the fold-out makeup station.
Nagisa watched Kenta’s silence, and frowned. He quickly moved up behind Kenta and grabbed him roughly, arm around his throat in a sleeper hold. “Kenpii, don’t be so rude to our guests! Greet Shinobu properly!”
Kenta choked for a moment, a brush flying from his hands to land on the floor. Then he clutched at Nagisa’s arm, pulling on it roughly to try and get free. “How can I when you’re trying to choke me out?!” He snarled out as he tried to fight Nagisa’s hold.
The two struggled for a moment, Nagisa holding on as tightly as he could. Kenta then suddenly dropped to his knees, tossing Nagisa over his head to land on the floor in front of him. As Kenta tried to breathe again, Nagisa was already to his feet, kneeling in front of him in the traditional sumo starting pose.
“You got some nerve, attacking me when I was getting my gear ready!” Kenta wiped his mouth on the back on his hand, preparing for Nagisa to move again.
“You were being rude to Shinobu!” Nagisa answered. “You promised to be a good boy today, didn’t you?”
Kenta’s face twisted into a snarl. “Does that mean you’d make a mess of my gear?”
The two stared at each other for several long seconds, as if daring each other to make a move. Ryuunosuke watched the staredown impassively, more concerned with how worried Shinobu was getting than the wellbeing of her fiancé.
When the door opened again, and three young men stepped inside, it was almost a relief. The three boys were definitely students from Tomobiki, even though they didn’t seem to be from class 2-F. The one in front, quickly stepping inside, was the shortest of the three. He had sandy blond hair, slightly longer than most boys wore their hair. His face had the youthfulness of a first year, and the energy to match.
Behind him, the boy to the left was definitely older. He looked like a second year, but his poise was almost that of somebody older. He had black hair, immaculately brushed and styled into a side-parting and square-rimmed glasses that shone in the late-afternoon light. He reminded Shinobu somewhat of Mendou, but with an added air of cool neutrality.
To his right was a boy who was definitely a second year. He had distinctively fluffy brown hair, not combed or brushed in anyway. His face, though, was extraordinarily pretty, even for a boy. Almost like Nagisa, in fact. Put him in the right kind of dress, and you’d never think he would be male.
After a long moment of silence, the young man with the black hair pushed back his glasses with a finger, his face betraying no emotion whatsoever.. “Have you and Kenpii fallen out again, Nagisa-senpai?”
Nagisa quickly snapped to attention, leaving Kenta to relax. “Hi guys! Kenpii was just being rude, as usual. But I’ve brought our new project in, just as I promised!” He turned towards Shinobu, Ryuunosuke and Lum. “Everyone, these are the members of the Crossdressing Club; Kenpii, Junchan, Tsucchi and Nacchan.”
The blond— Yutaka Tsubasa, aka “Tsucchi”-- went over to Ryuunosuke, examining her closely. “Is this our new project, Nagisa-senpai? He certainly has potential.” He grinned at Nagisa, not noticing Ryuunosuke’s quickly darkening expression. “Hell, it wouldn’t take much for him to be a girl!”
“I AM a girl!” Ryuunosuke bellowed right in Tsubasa’s ear, sending him skittering back to the safety of his two companions.
“You silly boy,” Nagisa said. “That’s Ryuunosuke, my fiancée! She can join in later if she wants! The project I’m talking about is right over there!”
The three followed Nagisa’s pointed finger to stare at Ataru and Mendou. Their gazes held for a moment, before the three looked back at Nagisa.
“Please tell me you’re kidding.” Tsubasa said.
Nagisa sighed. “Do you think I would have called all of you in here just for a laugh, Tsucchi? I thought you knew me better than that.”
The black haired boy— Oozora Natsuki, aka “Nacchan”, pushed his glasses back. “I suppose it’s possible, but it’ll be a bit of a challenge. We’d have to give them the works, and that’s going to take us right to the evening. Plus there’s the matter of outfits, and proper posture.” He looked over at Nagisa, the sunlight catching the glasses and hiding his eyes entirely. “This isn’t going to be an express job.”
“What about tonight, Nacchan?” Nagisa asked. “I want to show them off at Rainbow Rock. I want all of Tomobiki to see Ataru Moroboshi as they’ve never seen him before!”
Ataru and Mendou slightly quailed. This was obviously not what either was expecting when they asked Nagisa for help.
Natsuki just snorted. “And here I thought they were trying to sneak in Busumestu Girls’ High School for some lewd deed.”
“You think we can pull this off by then, Natsuki-senpai?” The brown haired boy— Arikawa Jun, or “Junchan”-- asked. “Rainbow Rock starts at seven sharp.”
Natsuki just sighed. “We’ll have to go off the rack for outfits. But at least we’ll have time for alterations. And I know Ogami is a quick worker.” He turned to the other two boys. “Arikawa-kun, you’re on first stage depilation and moisturisation. Yutaka-kun, you’ll be on second stage posture and poise.”
Yuuto nodded. “Leave it to me. I’ll make sure that the process isn’t too painful.”
The blond-- Yutaka Tsubasa or “Tsucchi”— also nodded. “I’ll do my best, Senpai!”
Natsuki turned towards Kenta. “You better get yourself busy, Ogami-kun. You can go on a supply run down at the Panda Mart while me and Arikawa-kun put them through the first stage.”
As the four boys laid out their plans, Ryuunosuke looked over towards Nagisa. “Hey, you think this is really gonna work? I mean, these people don’t have your good looks…”
Nagisa smiled. “Ryuu-chan, you flatter me too much. You don’t have to worry about these boys and me. Together we can make silk purses out of sow’s ears!”
“I hope you mean that metaphorically,” Shinobu said idly. “But it’s strange that such a manly boy like Ogami-kun does something like makeup as a hobby…”
“Oh, that boy can work magic with that big black box of his,” Nagisa said happily, as Kenta went over to finish setting up the makeup station, pulling over a large pivoting mirror next to the box. “He picked it up from his mother. She does makeup for television.”
“Yeah, I remember him now,” Ryuunosuke said. “He was at the beach last summer…” Her eyes widened as recognition struck. “The Beachside Sumo Championship at Hamachaya! You were second place!”
For the second time that hour, Kenta paused in front of his makeup station.
“I didn’t know you did sumo, Ogami-kun,” Natsuki said. “Though it certainly is fitting.”
“My old man did it as a tribute to Nagisa’s late father,” Ryuunosuke said. “Least that’s how he says it. Nagisa was our undefeated champion, and every man on the beach took him on that summer. And this guy…” She pointed towards Kenta. “He lasted the longest out of of all of them.”
Kenta just snorted. “It doesn’t matter, he still beat me. There’s no points for second place.” He looked over towards Nagisa. “I suppose the champion would agree, huh?”
Nagisa blushed slightly, cupping his face in glee. “You’re too nice, Kenpii… You shouldn’t be flattering a girl like me!”
Ryuunosuke just coughed as Kenta blushed as pink as Nagisa did, trying to dispel the awkward feeling of seeing more than she expected of her fiancée. “Yeah, I should say so. I’m his fiancée, after all.”
Nagisa smiled and wrapped his arms loosely around Kenta’s shoulders. “But he’s good with makeup and fashion! And he’s so adorable when he’s flustered! Aren’t you, Kenpii?”
Natsuki sighed as Kenta tried to dislodge Nagisa. “Ogami-kun, would you mind going out to Panda Mart now? Time is of the essence in this operation, after all.”
Nagisa blinked, then sprang off of Kenta like a cat confronted with tin foil. “Yes, of course! We’ll go on ahead while you start off with the first stage!” He turned to Lum, Shinobu and Ryuunosuke. “You’d better come with me, too. You probably don’t want to watch Ataru and Mendou getting depilated.”
Ryuunosuke blinked. “Um… What’s depilation?”
“Oh, that’s nothing,” Yuuto said dismissively. “We’re just going to just remove almost every hair on the bodies of these boys.”
The expression that crossed Ryuunosuke’s face in reaction was something that nobody who witnessed it would’ve been ever able to forget.
Kenta just sighed and helped lead Ryuunosuke outside, Lum and Shinobu following behind him. He looked back briefly, seeing the worried looks on Ataru and Mendou’s faces.
“Don’t worry,” Kenta said, in a half-hearted reassuring tone. “It’ll only hurt for a second.” He closed the door behind him, shutting out the whimpers of terror.
If there is one thing that Mrs. Moroboshi could count on when she slipped out of her shoes in the doorway of the Moroboshi home, it was her husband’s amazing ability to shut himself out from the world beyond his paper. She peered into the living room and saw, sure as anything, Mr. Moroboshi sitting at the low table, hidden behind his newspaper.
Well, it wasn’t like she was planning on bringing him along, she thought to herself as she skipped to the bathroom to freshen up. She imagined that he would only get in the way. No use in stringing along dead weight.
And still, Mr. Moroboshi sat and read his paper. He sat and read while his wife cleaned herself up, before heading upstairs. He sat and read as she changed into a slinky short red dress, put on her makeup, and styled her hair.
And he sat and read when she peered back in the living room again. “You’re going to have to get your own dinner tonight, honey.”
Mr. Moroboshi barely moved from behind his paper. “That’s alright, honey.”
Mrs. Moroboshi smiled. “I’ll be going off on my date with Miss Sakura, then…” She stepped into a pair of red high heels, and skipped out of the house.
There was a long silence in the room, a long sense of stillness coloured by the orange of the setting sun streaming in through the screen door of the Moroboshi home. And then Mr. Moroboshi put down his paper.
“You didn’t have to come with me,” Kenta said as he lugged the basket full of snacks and drinks around the floor of the Panda Mart. “I can carry all this around by myself.”
“You don’t have to always shoulder the burden, Ogami-kun.” Shinobu said, lugging her own basket around. “Is that what the club always does with you?”
Kenta shrugged. “Pretty much. Everyone’s busy doing their own thing, so somebody has to make sure all the wheels are greased. The second something goes wrong, they have a bad habit of turning on each other."
Lum hovered over Kenta and Shinobu. “Is Darling gunna be okay with those guys? You said something about hurting, didn’t you?”
“It’s just bathing and depilation,” Shinobu said. “It’s not going to be seriously scarring, okay?”
Ryuunosuke, standing silently by Shinobu’s side for most of the conversation, chose that moment to speak up. “That isn’t painful? I thought you said that they were removing all of their hair?”
Kenta shrugged. “I think it’s just shaving and that. Hey, it’s no worse than what most girls go through.”
Ryuunosuke stared at Shinobu. “You mean you depilate, too?”
Shinobu blushed a deep red. “Well, yes… Girls grow hair on their bodies too, you know?” She paused, clapping her hands over her mouth, her face tomato red. "Wait, I didn't mean it like that!"
Ryuunosuke couldn’t help but blush herself. “Wow, no wonder I heard of it. I just thought girls just didn’t have any hair if they were feminine enough.”
Shinobu squeaked. Lum burst into giggles. Kenta coughed.
“What?!” Ryuunosuke’s face looked about as red as Shinobu’s. “You didn’t think the same thing?”
“I thought you were rough before, Ryuu-kun!” Lum cried out as she twirled in the air. “But never like this!”
Ryuunosuke scowled and stalked off, grabbing random items from the shelves and dumping them in Kenta’s basket. Shinobu quickly sprinted up behind him, a worried look on her face.
“She wasn’t trying to make fun of you, you know.” Shinobu said quietly.
“Yeah yeah,” Ryuunosuke said. “It’s not her fault I’m too much of a man. Feels like everyone just likes to laugh at me because I’m not enough of a woman for them!”
“That still isn’t your fault.” Shinobu said. “Just because your father raised you to be a man among men doesn’t mean you’re still a real woman! I mean, what do you think a real woman is like, anyway?”
Ryuunosuke paused, a box of cooling plasters in her hand. She looked over towards Shinobu, her face stone serious. “Maybe… like you?”
Shinobu blinked at Ryuunosuke, a blush forming on her face. The moment dragged on between them as they continue to stare at each other, their faces starting to turn pink.
Quietly, Ryuunosuke moved first, carrying the plasters past Shinobu and throwing them in Kenta’s basket. Kenta looked down at the plasters, haphazardly placed along with a bottle of hand lotion and some pens, before looking up at Ryuunosuke again.
Ryuunosuke scowled at Kenta. “What?”
By the time that Kenta had paid and the four got back to the clubhouse, Ataru and Mendou had used the clubhouse’s showers to clean off and go through a rather thorough shaving and moisturization routine. Thankfully, despite Kenta’s warnings, the two didn’t find it that painful. They even asked for their facial hairs to be plucked, despite Jun’s warnings of the long, painful process; to do anything perfectly, as Megane said, one must be prepared to suffer.
So when the group stepped into the clubhouse, they were greeted with the sight of Ataru appreciatively stroking Mendou’s legs. The two wore pink fluffy dressing gowns with turquoise trim, and had their hair pinned back from their faces with bobby pins.
Kenta sighed as he lugged the bags in, leaving Ryuunosuke and Shinobu to stare in shock at the sight. He muttered to himself as he laid the snacks and drinks out on a table. “Why is everybody so weirded out by guys with shaved legs…?”
Ataru looked up as he noticed the dumbstruck Ryuunosuke and Shinobu. “Oh hey guys! Shuu-chan was just letting me have a feel! Any of you guys wanna have one too?”
Ryuunosuke made a strangled sound and turned away.
Mendou hid his face from the pair. “Oh please, Tacchan! Don’t go saying things like that!”
Shinobu tore her eyes away from the sight, only to see Megane staring out from between the curtains of one of the partitions, his face frozen in a stern frown, glasses shining in the sunset light. Against her better judgement, she approached Megane quietly. “Megane? What are you doing?”
“Watching,” Megane said, his face still rictus still.
Shinobu looked back towards Ataru and Mendou, then back at Megane. “Watching what?”
Megane’s expression barely changed, but a trickle of blood slowly came down from a nostril. “Heaven, Shinobu-san.”
Shinobu quietly backed away, ducking behind Ryuunosuke. “I don’t think I even want to know what’s happening with him right now.”
Ryuunosuke only nodded in response.
Lum floated in, only slightly less surprised at the sight of Ataru stroking Mendou's legs. "Darlin', stop slobberin' over his legs!" She crackled as she tried to lift Ataru to his feet. "I don't want you pervin' on Mendou again!"
At the same time, Jun and Tsubasa pushed Megane out of the way as they led Ataru and Mendou over. “Stop staring, you,” Tsubasa said. “You’ll scare the others.” He handed Megane a bottle of moisturiser. “Make yourself useful at least.”
Jun peered at the grin spreading over Megane’s face like gnarled ivy as he gazed down at the bottle, then looked pointedly at Tsubasa. “Give him Tacchan to work on, Tsucchi. I don’t trust him with Shu-chan.” He looked over at Kenta filling a mini-fridge with drinks. “Kenpii, could you put the stereo on? I want to hear some Madonna.”
Tsubasa made a face. “We already heard some Madonna all week, Junchan. Why don’t we hear something different?”
Jun snorted and turned his nose up. “I think our guests should hear a better class of music than Debbie Gibson, that’s all.”
Tsubasa scowled at Jun. “And you think Madonna is any better? She’s just a old throwback associated with hoary stereotypes!”
As the two crossdressers stared each other down nose to nose, Ryuunosuke went over and looked at the CD rack. “What kind of music is this?” She pulled out a disc. “It’s got romaji all over it…”
Shinobu went over and looked along the rack, plucking out a couple of discs at random. “Blondie? David Bowie?” She replaced them and scanned the spines of the rest of the rack. “Cheap Trick, Velvet Underground, The Cult, Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Madonna… This is all Western rock and pop music!”
“We got some Yellow Magic Orchestra and P-Model too,” Kenta said. “Junchan and Nacchan like to collect this stuff.” He rolled his eyes as Jun and Tsubasa continued to argue and walked over to the sound system, plucking a CD from the rack. “Cheap Trick at Budokan, then.” He loaded the CD into the system and pressed play, ignoring the glares from Jun and Tsubasa as they flounced over to help Ataru and Mendou in the little moisturising booth.
But as the clubhouse filled with the sound of screaming teenage girls, followed by the grinding opening riff of “Hello There”, already the vibe was starting to change. Shinobu started to dance with the beat of the music, her hips swaying. Ryuunosuke watched appreciatively as Shinobu started to dance around the space, a smile forming on her face.
Then Shinobu danced her way over to Ryuunosuke, and reached over to take her hands. “Come on, you can dance too!”
Ryuunosuke shook her head furtively. “No, I can’t dance. I don’t wanna step all over you.”
But Shinobu was already tugging her out onto the floor. “Don’t worry, just follow my lead!”
Lum hovered over to Kenta, grinning, as she saw him moving his body slightly to the beat of the music as he shuffled around. “You wanna dance while Darlin’ is busy in there?”
Kenta shrugged. “If Tacchan won’t mind? I'm sure him and Shuuchan can...” He was quickly cut off by Lum grabbing him and swinging him towards the middle of the room.
By the third song, both couples were dancing together to the beat of the music, barely noticing Ataru and Mendou hurrying out from the booth, a rather shaken-looking Megane following behind, only slightly supported by Nagisa. As they did so, Ataru and Mendou both noticed the dancing couples, and started to giggle amongst themselves.
Natsuki stepped out after them, uniform jacket already left behind. As he did so, Kenta stopped dead in his tracks, Lum hovering confused above him. Ryuunosuke and Shinobu’s dancing ground to a halt soon after, looking nervously at Natsuki.
Natsuki nodded towards Kenta briefly, before looking at Ryuunosuke and Shinobu. “I see you’re currently enjoying yourself. We were wondering if you two would like to join us as Rainbow Rock tonight, be a part of Tacchan and Shu-chan’s debut.”
Ryuunosuke looked confused. “Tacchan? Shu-chan?” She looked over at Ataru and Mendou, who were being lifted up and being led over to one of the raised curtain partitions.
Natsuki only raised an eyebrow at Ryuunosuke, his face otherwise neutral. “Well, calling them just Ataru and Shutarou wouldn’t fit their new looks.” He paused, his gaze still fixed on Ryuunosuke. “Well? What do you think? I’m sure we’ve got something in the closet for the three of you.”
Ryuunosuke was silent for a moment. She looked towards Ataru and Mendou, poring through the large makeshift closet. She looked at Megane and Nagisa, stood in front of the curtain partition and looking at her, waiting for an answer.
Then Ryuunosuke looked back towards Shinobu, still standing half-hidden against her back.. Shinobu only smiled in response, a reassuring hand placed on her back.
“Let’s go together,” she said. “Tonight, me and you.”
Ryuunosuke turned back to Natsuki, a look of resignation on her face. “What the hell, I’ll go. What’ve you got for me?”
Natsuki gazed at Ryuunosuke and Shinobu for a moment. Then, in the space of a second, his hand whipped out, fingers snapping like the crack of a bullwhip. Almost instantly, as if they had came out of thin air, Jun and Tsubasa flanked him.
“Girls,” Natsuki said. “What do you see?”
“I think she’d look cute in something from our gothloli collection…” Jun said. “That dark blue sailor dress with the pleats…?”
Tsubasa shook his head. “No, no… She looks like she needs something more… dangerous. Remember that Replicants homage from February?” He chewed on a fingernail. “With the black latex shorts and the crop top and the thigh high boots?”
Natsuki stepped forward as Ryuunosuke looked between the two kouhai, slightly worried.
“Your suggestions are interesting, girls.” Natsuki’s eyes seemed to take on a strange glint as he advanced on Ryuunosuke. “But our subject here provides us with something else. I see somebody straddling the line, standing on the divide between east and west, slavery and freedom, man and woman, top and bottom!”
Shinobu’s face suddenly lit up. “You’ve seen Hedwig, Nastsuki-senpai? I love that film! I know all of the songs off by heart!”
Nagisa frowned. “I’m pretty sure we don’t have a Hedwig wig around here…”
Natsuki glared at Tsubasa, making him shrink back. “We’re not talking about wigs here… We’re talking about androgyny!”
Ryuunosuke blinked in confusion. “Androgyny? Are you going to make me into a robot or something?”
Natsuki deflated at Ryuunosuke’s question. “No. That’s androids…” For a moment, he deigned to look somewhat flustered. “You really are a babe in the woods, aren’t you?”
Ryuunosuke snorted. “I was raised on the beach, not in the woods.”
Shinobu giggled, and raised a hand. “I think Ryuunosuke would be better off deciding for herself what she wants to wear tonight…”
Natsuki sighed, and turned towards the lockers, deliberating for a few seconds before pulling out several items of clothing. He walked over to one of the bare tables, and draped them over for display. “Here, have a look. What do you like the look of?”
Ryuunosuke approached the table, her eyes moving over the spread. Even though there was a dazzling array of colours and fabrics, nothing among them seemed to be it, the kind of dress she wanted to wear. Nothing, that was, until she caught a flash of red out of the corner of her eye.
She reached out and pulled the deep red dress up, a cocktail dress with a black band around the middle and a halterneck, that felt light and airy in her hands.
“Looks a little bit short for you,” Natsuki said. “But we can help you make it work.” He turned to Kenta. “Kenpii, if you would assist our dear Ryuu-chan…”
Kenta nodded simply, turning towards his makeup station. “Already on it.”
Natsuki turned back towards Ryuunosuke. “You better get yourself cleaned up, if you don’t want to be overshadowed by Moroboshi and Mendou.”
Ryuunosuke scowled at Natsuki, but Shinobu had quickly taken her arm with one hand, and led her towards the showers, carrying a bushel of hair and beauty products in the other.
“Come on,” Shinobu said. “We can shower together!”
“Okay…” Ryuunosuke muttered.
Half a second later, she spluttered out, “Wait, what?!” just as Shinobu had her out the door.
At last, I finally update TRC! After months of procrastination, family issues and piles of dirty laundry thanks to broken washing machines, Chapter 4 is finally published. Hopefully I can finish this thing before the end of the year. But for now, I give you this.
Yeah, I kind of got self indulgent at the end with the musical references, but I wanted some bit of me in there, really. It kind of blossomed out of listening to Cheap Trick At Budokan and went on from there.
A couple more notes:
The members of the Crossdressing Club take their family names from well known crossdressers in anime and manga, and their first names from certain seiyuu: Yutaka (Mikoto, from Princess Princess) Tsubasa (Yonaga), Arikawa (Hime, from Himegoto!) Jun (Fukuyama) and Oozora (Hibari, from Stop! Hibari-kun) Natsuki (Hanae).
Club Kitty, where Rainbow Rock is being held, is named after Kitty Films, the company that produced the Urusei Yatsura anime.
Natsuki's idea for Ryuunosuke's Rainbow Rock look is a gratuitous shout-out to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, one of my favourite musicals. There'll be a couple more of those in the next chapter, too.
Whenever I finish it...
Chapter 5: Feature Presentation
Now the fruits of the Crossdressing Club's labour is set to be revealed, and everyone is off to Rainbow Rock. Ryuunosuke and Shinobu also manage to get a few things over and done with in the meantime, while Kenta shows off his skills.
Ryuunosuke had panicked slightly about sharing a shower with Shinobu. She still wasn't exactly ready for sharing the same shower with a woman she just told she was in love with.
Thankfully, Shinobu had been nothing but welcoming and calming to her, to Ryuunosuke's constant surprise. Shinobu even seemed to have noticed Ryuunosuke's surprise as well, when she told her that she didn't feel embarrassed about "these kinds of things" anymore.
Ryuunosuke didn't want to ask Shinobu what she meant by "these kinds of things", as she thought she might have had a pretty good idea already.
They returned to the clubhouse, wearing the same kind of fluffy turquoise bathrobes that Ataru and Mendou--Tacchan and Shuchan--wore. Natsuki handed them both bags and directed them to a row of quickly constructed little booths, made with white sheets supported with metal rods, the fronts covered by white shower curtains.
Now Ryuunosuke sat in her own little booth, after using the various beauty products that came in the bag (with Kenta having to give directions through the curtain, since her personal knowledge of makeup and skincare basically amounted to "lipstick makes your lips red"), staring down at the outfit in front of her.
The red dress she picked out was there, to be sure. It was soft and pretty, and still stood out. But there was also a blue denim jacket with the sleeves cut off, a pair of black leggings with little stirrups to fit over the feet and a pair of soft looking calf-high black suede boots. There was even fresh underwear, a black bra and black panties.
Ryuunosuke felt a strange kind of rush as she looked at the assembled outfit. It was different from what she usually wore, but not in the way that she expected. Slowly, she started to pull on the clothes, surprised that everything actually fit her better than she expected. Was this the true power of the Crossdressing Club? Did they have her pegged that much when they first laid eyes on her?
Ryuunosuke blinked at the soft voice coming from the sheet beside her. "Shinobu?" She looked at the figure standing indistinct through the sheet, indicating she was pressed up against it. "What is it?"
"Have you got your outfit on?" Shinobu whispered. "Can I see?"
Ryuunosuke stepped closer to the dividing sheet. "I thought you wanted to wait until we had the grand unveiling in a minute."
"I can't wait! I want to see you now!" Before Ryuunosuke could answer, Shinobu squeezed carefully past the divider, trying not to disturb the entire structure.
Ryuunosuke stepped back as Shinobu stood before her. She was wearing a white dress that draped down her body, ending just above her knees, tied together with a wide purple belt. The dress was trimmed in purple along the edge of the skirt and along the neckline, which came across her shoulders to dip low at the center of her chest, exposing her collarbone. On her feet were a pair of white strapped sandals with a low heel, the toes painted a bright pink.
The two stared at each other for a moment, both silent, as they took the sight of each other in. The moment stretched out longer and longer, feeling less like a second and more like an eternity as the two stayed quiet.
Ryuunosuke broke the silence. "Red and white? Now I feel like I'm back at the sports festival..."
Shinobu stared for a moment, her face flushing.
Ryuunosuke started to flush as well. "I mean, I think you're pretty. I mean, I don't think your usually not pretty, I know that you're always pretty and..."
Shinobu stepped forward and took Ryuunosuke's hands in her. "Ryuunosuke. Are you saying you like my dress?"
Ryuunosuke nodded quickly.
Shinobu smiled. "Thank you. That's all you needed to say."
Ryuunosuke nodded again. Looking at Shinobu's eyes, she suddenly felt some kind of strange urge rise within her. Her mind swirled with possibilities, and she had to fight her rising panic down again.
Shinobu just looked into Ryuunosuke's eyes. "Are you feeling alright, Ryuunosuke?"
Then, before she could stop herself, Ryuunosuke had pressed her lips to Shinobu's.
Ryuunosuke could hear her internal alarms blaring even as she was kissing Shinobu. She knew that Shinobu didn't like perverts, and here she was, kissing her out of the blue. She braced herself for a slap, a scream, some kind of violent reaction.
She paused as Shinobu brought her arm, nearly jerking back in terror... But then felt her hand against the back of her head, and Shinobu tentatively kissing back. Once again, Ryuunosuke could feel time slow down to a crawl around them as they kissed, the world around them fading away until only they remained.
The effect was only broken when a voice called through the curtain. "You decent in there? I need to put on your makeup..."
Ryuunosuke and Shinobu broke the kiss slowly, still gazing at each other.
"Think you'd better go and finish up," Ryuunosuke said. "I want to see what kind of job Ogami's gonna do with your face."
Shinobu nodded, and squeezed her way back into her booth. She peered across the side for a moment. "I'll see you in a minute." And then she called out, "I'm here!" and disappeared behind the sheet again.
Ryuunosuke sat on the small folding chair in the middle of the booth, listening to the snatches of conversation going on beside her. Her stomach was busy doing flip-flops as her mind mentally rewound the past few minutes.
She really, really wanted Shinobu to be finished with her makeup soon, if only for Kenta to come in and do his job on her, so they could have it over with and be together again.
After a moment, Kenta pushed his way through the curtain into the booth, a bunch of makeup in his hand. "Right. Let's get this over with, because your girl is getting antsy over there. We need to make you look all pretty for her for tonight."
Ryuunosuke looked up at Kenta, her eyes burning. "Are you sure you can make me look pretty enough for her?"
Kenta held up his right hand, various brushes and pencils held between the fingers like dangerous weapons.
"Just leave it all to me."
After Kenta's job was done, he quickly disappeared behind the curtain. Ryuunosuke sat alone for a moment, once again straining to hear what was being said outside.
And then the curtains were pulled aside, and Kenta stepped back in, with Nagisa by his side. However, Nagisa had exchanged his yellow sundress for a different yellow dress with a shorter skirt and short sleeves that showed off his arms. Kenta, for his part, was wearing black jeans and sturdy black boots, and a red T-shirt with a black star painted on it. On his arms were a pair of black bracers with metal spikes studded in them.
"Come on, Princess." Nagisa said, extending a hand towards Ryuunosuke. "We have a date to keep."
Ryuunosuke blinked at Nagisa for a moment, before taking Nagisa's hand and getting to her feet. She tried to ignore how warm her face was starting to feel. "So... How do I look?"
Nagisa beamed proudly. "You look beautiful."
Ryuunosuke stepped out of the little booth, seeing Lum standing there with three other girls... which Ryuunosuke quickly realised were the other members of the Crossdressing Club.
Lum wore a casual suit of a deep green, with a lighter green shirt and white shoes with no socks, and a tiger-striped bandanna tied around her left arm. The effect was something like raiding Sonny Crockett's wardrobe.
Tsuuchi had a pink tank top, a frilly black skirt that was dangerously short, and black tights with white socks over them and white trainers, his face marked with neon pink and blue triangles.
Junchan was wearing a one-piece dress that resembled Tomobiki's winter serafuku, but the neckerchief was white instead of red, and the skirt was way too short to be acceptable as a uniform. The look was completed by white thigh high socks, and black laced ankle boots.
Nacchan was full on black loligoth, a frilly black dress with a long skirt, white tights and black heeled pumps with ankle straps, a long straight wig on his head with black roses clipped on.
Nacchan nodded towards Ryuunosuke. "Do you like it? I figured that maybe I should only hint at your usual masculinity, considering how much it keeps bleeding through." He guided Ryuunosuke towards one of the full-length mirrors. "Nagisa's told me of the trouble you have trying to express your femininity, so I figured that I'd give you something that lets it out, while still keeping your male side in control. I figured it might make you feel more comfortable."
Ryuunosuke looked herself over, her brows furrowing. "I guess it ain't as butch as I expected?" She turned from side to side, trying to get a better look at herself. "Do you really think it suits me? I look so different..." She gazed at her face, daubed with red lipstick and dark blue eyeshadow, a familiar face made completely different.
Nacchan just smiled at Ryuunosuke. "It's because you've become so used to being forced to be so manly that you feel so weird. That'll pass soon enough." He looked towards the booths again. "Shinobu-chan! Come out so we can see you!"
Kenta ran over to Shinobu's booth, and pulled the curtains aside.
Ryuunosuke turned back to see Shinobu step out again. And she stared. She already saw Shinobu in the white dress, and she had already looked so pretty in that, but now her hair was done up with a white clip in the shape of a lily, and with simple eyeliner and pink lipgloss. Kenta's work had changed Shinobu from simply pretty to stunning.
Nacchan smiled as he noticed the stunned gaze on Ryuunosuke's face. "Another excellent job, Kenpii. I think Ryuunosuke is having a 'She's All That' moment with Shinobu right now."
Shinobu made her way towards Ryuunosuke, smiling. "Do I look alright?"
"Huhuhm." Ryuunosuke said in response.
"You look fine, Shinobu." Nagisa said quickly. He turned Shinobu to face the mirror. "See?"
As Shinobu looked in the mirror, a smile spread across her face.
Nacchan cleared his throat again. "And now it's time for the main attraction: the fruits of myself and Shiowatari-san's labour!" He snapped his fingers again.
Kenta stood at the next unopened booth, while Megane stood at the last. "Should we have some kind of drum roll or something?" Megane asked sardonically.
Junchan and Tsucchi each grabbed a pair of empty plastic bottles and banged them against a table in a mock drum roll. As the roll reached a climax, Kenta and Megane both pulled open the curtains, revealed Ataru and Mendou... Now Tacchan and Shu-chan.
Tacchan wore a baby blue sleeveless dress with white trim on the front and a skirt that came down to his knees, all held in by a white leather belt around the middle. On his feet were a pair of white leather pumps with kitten heels. Extensions gave him a head of long flowing brown hair that reached down to the middle of his back, while Kenta's makeup made him look less like a perverted boy, and more like a cute, innocent girl.
Shu-chan was given a more sophisticated look, as befitting somebody of his nature. He wore a black dress with short white sleeves and a wide white open collar and a knee-length skirt much like Tacchan's, and black high heeled pumps. Like Tacchan, he had extensions in his hair that reached down to mid-back, and an extensive make-up job.
The group assembled gaped at the two in amazement, of both the transformation that had taken place and the fact that this was still Ataru Moroboshi and Shutarou Mendou.
Nacchan was smiling proudly, tears in his eyes. "At last, I have done it..." He clasped his hands together. "The Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. The ultimate dream of the Crossdressing Club."
Ryuunosuke gave Nacchan a funny look. "The Yamato Nadeshiko... Ain't that supposed to be a manga?"
Nacchan nodded. "It's what I got the name from, I admit, but this was something different. I had wondered if it were possible to take the most manly, or the most sleazy of men, and turn them into the fairest maidens in the city." He looked over at Tacchan and Shu-chan, who both gave each other uncomfortable looks. "And now I know that such a thing is possible, and I... No, we have done it. Together!"
Nacchan grabbed his phone, and started taking photos. Tacchan and Shu-chan posed proudly and with feminine grace as Nacchan moved around them, getting photos from every angle he could.
Kenta just shook his head and went over to Nagisa. "Looks like you've given our club a hell of a boost."
Nagisa just smiled at little at Kenta, before suddenly catching him in a hug. "We couldn't have done it without you, Kenpii! You've been such a good boy to us, today!" Nagisa nuzzled against Kenta, who hesitantly hugged back.
Ryuunosuke stared at the two of them for a good while, her eyes slightly wide. She almost debated trying to break the hug up, before something twigged. Nagisa, her fiancee, didn't seem all that concerned about Shinobu’s presence. Or how she acted around Shinobu. Or about how the other club members seemed to notice that Ryuunosuke loved her…
"Hey, Nagisa?" Ryuunosuke asked, careful and slow. "Did you know about me and Shinobu...?"
Nagisa looked up at Ryuunosuke from over Kenta's head. Slowly, guiltily, he withdrew his arms from around Kenta's waist. "You mean that crush you were nursing on her since before I met you?"
Ryuunosuke stole a glance at Shinobu, who was blushing again, even through her makeup.
"It's okay, honestly." Nagisa said quietly. "I kind of thought that Shinobu-chan was too straight for you, so I figured that I might still have had a chance. But when I met Kenpii and the Crossdressing Club, it was like a switch had flipped in my mind." He smiled adoringly at Ryuunosuke. "Now all I wish for, more than anything, is just for you to be happy." He looked over at Shinobu. "I hope you'll take care of Ryuunosuke for me, won't you?"
Shinobu just nodded quietly, gripping Ryuunosuke's hand gently.
Nacchan snapped his fingers again. "Now come on, ladies. The sun is setting, and Rainbow Rock is about to start. We don't want to delay Tacchan and Shu-chan's debut any more, do we?"
Nagisa snorted a little. "Come on, Nacchan! Haven't you ever heard of being fashionably late?! Building anticipation?"
"Blame it on him being the son of an accountant," Tsucchi snorted. "He's always been like this, even as a crossdresser."
Nacchan pointedly ignored Tsucchi, and turned to Kenta. "Kenpii, our ride for the evening is out back. Since you're the one with the most driving experience out of all of us..." He pointed towards the door, leaving the command unsaid.
Kenta just sighed. "Fine, okay." He grumbled to himself as he left for the door.
Nagisa skipped up beside him. "I'm calling shotgun!" The two left the clubhouse, as Nacchan spluttered behind them.
Shinobu turned to Ryuunosuke as Kenta and Nagisa left. "You look so good right now. They've done a great job on you." She worried a tube of red lipstick in her hands. "Is it okay if I asked if you could do something?"
Ryuunosuke nodded quietly. "What is it?"
"Could you turn around for me, please?" Shinobu asked, and as Ryuunosuke did so, she placed her hands on her back for a moment. Ryuunosuke paused for a moment as she felt something skimming over the back of her denim jacket. "Are you writing something on me?"
Shinobu stepped back again. "Just a little something to make the outfit look good. After what Nacchan said about you earlier, I thought it would be appropriate. I hope it'll stay on during the night..." She turned her head towards the sound of tires driving through the gravel around the small clubhouse. “I think that might be our ride now…”
Their "ride" turned out to be a blue SUV that looked slightly beat up, the sunroof already cranked open a little to let the hot air out. Nacchan pulled the rear door open for Tacchan and Shu-chan to get inside and sit in the rear seat, and let himself sit in between them, while Ryuunosuke, Shinobu, Jun-chan and Tsucchi sat in the middle seats. Kenta and Nagisa were already in the front seats, Kenta behind the wheel. Lum and Megane, due to the lack of seats, elected to sit in the trunk.
"Are you going to be alright in there, Lum?" Tacchan asked nervously. "I mean, you are sharing the same space as Megane..."
"Just worry 'bout yourself, Darlin'." Lum settled in the corner that was nearest to Tacchan's side. "Megane always behaves himself. Don't you, Megane?"
Megane, who had taken the opposite corner from Lum, simply nodded. "Even with my love for Lum being impaired such as it is, I hardly mind sharing this space with her..."
Shu-chan just smiled. "But you've also got me here, haven't you?"
Kenta just sighed and turned the ignition. "Let's just haul ass out of here..." As the SUV ground into life, the stereo suddenly burst into life, filling the van with loud music, all clanging drums and jangling guitars. The people inside quickly covered their ears in an attempt to protect themselves from the sonic assault.
"I am the passenger," the rough-voiced singer sang in English, "and I ride and I ride, I ride through the city's backsides, I see the stars come out of the sky..."
"Sorry about that," Kenta said, turning down the music to a safe volume before putting the car in drive, and rolling out of the school gates.
As the SUV wound its way through the roads of Tomobiki, the music continued to play. Tacchan and Shu-chan watched the houses roll by, before giving way to buildings and shopfronts, and then office buildings, restaurants and stores.
Ryuunosuke was more interested in the music that came from the stereo. "You seem to know a lot about this music, Shinobu. Especially that guy, Head Big...?"
"Hedwig," Shinobu corrected. "It's a movie that came out sometime ago. I stumbled across it when trying to practice my English, and I've pretty much loved it ever since. Though there's a couple of songs on it that make me glad that my parents don't know enough English to figure out..."
"I see..." Ryuunosuke said. "How much good did it do for your English?"
Shinobu smiled a little. "I translated some of the songs into Japanese!" The smile slipped slightly, however. "Well, mostly. I'm not sure how well they might rhyme and scan compared to the original music..."
Ryuunosuke just shrugged and smiled. "Well, that's a damn sight better than anything I could've done with my English skills..."
Shinobu smiled back hesitantly. "If you say so..."
Ryuunosuke took hold of Shinobu's hand, her smile now gone. "Hey, I mean it." She squeezed the hand gently. "You've been believing in me for so long about everything I try and do, it's time that I do the same for you. Okay?"
Shinobu's smile widened slightly, became more geniune. "Okay. I believe you."
Ryuunosuke smiled again. "I believe you too."
"So," Kenta asked Nagisa, "who's actually playing at Rainbow Rock tonight? Did they give out a setlist or something...?"
Nagisa pulled out an old ratty flyer, and studied it for a moment. "Well, there's Fire Tripper, The Laughing Targets, The Golden Gods of Poverty, The House of Garbage, Maris and the Super-Girls, Shakin' Buddha, Diet Goddess, The Selfish Bastards..."
"Sounds like the cream of local talent right there." Kenta replied.
Nagisa thwacked Kenta lightly with the flyer. "Don't be like that! This is supposed to be a local music scene, right?"
Kenta snorted a little. "Local or not, I'm surprised these bands perform out there with such dorky sounding names." He flinched a little as Nagisa smacked him with the flyer again. "Watch it, before you make us crash!"
The rest of the ride to Club Kitty was somewhat muted in comparison, if only so Kenta wouldn't end up nearly crashing the car again. But the club sure was hard to miss as the car rolled past it: the massive marquee on the front, with hot pink neon lights that formed the shape of a cat's face with wiggling whiskers was hard to miss. And if it was, the massive throng of youths standing outside the club, all colorfully dressed, weren't exactly blending in with the rest of the street.
The SUV pulled in beside the kerb for a moment, Kenta quickly shutting off the stereo. "Alright ladies," he announced, "we have arrived!" He stepped outside for a moment, opening the door on the opposite side to let Nagisa out, before opening the back doors on the pavement side.
There was a murmur of excitement as Ryuunosuke and Shinobu hesitantly stepped out of the van, Ryuunosuke taking Shinobu's hand to help her onto the pavement, followed by Junchan and Tsucchi. Megane and Lum quickly joined them, smoothing out their rumpled suits, and stood next to the open doors as Nacchan stepped out after Junchan and Tsucchi, causing another ripple of excitement to go through the crowd present.
When Megane and Lum took Tacchan and Shu-chan's hands, and helped them out onto the pavement, there were murmurs of confusion at first, which quickly turned into shouts of surprise and delight as some of the crowd managed to tell, through the extensions and makeup, exactly who the two lovely maidens were.
As the small group stepped out further from the van, the crowd were fully excited, girls screaming, shouts and cries from the people present, many of them in shock and awe.
"Is that Moroboshi and Mendou?"
"Those guys from Tomobiki High? You're kidding, right?!"
"It's really them! I'd recognise Moroboshi's face in a heartbeat!"
"The girl is red is slaying right now, I can't!"
"Is that Fujinami?! She looks so pretty!"
"I knew Natsu-sama said she had something special planned, but I didn't expect this!"
Nagisa stepped in front of the assembled group, attempting to assume some degree of crowd control for the group. He turned to look at Kenta. "Better go get parked, Kenpii! We'll see you later!"
Kenta quickly hopped back into the SUV, and pulled away from the kerb, disappearing down the street. The group were left to their public, who had already pulled out their camera phones and started clicking away.
Ryuunosuke turned to look at Nacchan. "Since when did so many people know we were coming?"
Nacchan just smiled. "Actually, quite a few here are from Tomobiki High, so some might be your classmates. As for the others, well, I did have Junchan update our website with some news."
Ryuunosuke's eyes narrowed. "What kind of news?"
Nacchan snickered. "Just that we had the infamous Ataru Moroboshi and Shutarou Mendou in our clubhouse, and we were all planning something special to commemorate our coming down to Rainbow Rock." He looked at Ryuunosuke, pointedly. "It's no use going to all this trouble if you don't have an audience to appreciate your talents, my dear." He paused for a moment, craning his neck to look at something on Ryuunosuke's back. "That's a nice bit of detail on that jacket of yours. Wonder who did that..."
Ryuunosuke stole a glance towards Shinobu, who seemed to be more interested in the more colourful outfits some of the people in the crowd wore. "I'm not sure either, 'cause I can't see it for myself. I sure hope that it's nothing embarrassing." She then mentally kicked herself for that thought. Didn’t she say that she wanted to trust Shinobu more? If she wrote it, then what would be the problem?
Nacchan smirked a little bit at Ryuunosuke. "Actually, I think it's something you'd like to read, if you manage to get some time to yourself."
It wasn't long before the doors opened, and the crowd all spilled inside, splitting off to buy tickets, or heading straight for the main stage beyond the two large double doors. Ryuunosuke and Shinobu looked about, trying to keep tabs on everyone else in the crowd while Shinobu paid for tickets. As Shinobu plucked up the tickets, she turned to lead Ryuunosuke through the double doors towards the main stage.
Ryuunosuke marvelled at the large stage, a small crew already on stage checking the sound and lights. Suspended above the instruments being prepared on stage was a huge rainbow flag, fluttering gracefully.
Ryuunosuke looked back towards Shinobu, who was leaning against the far wall from the stage. "You're not going up there with the others?"
Shinobu just smiled. "Well, I'm not really sure what to do in a situation like this. I mean, this is my first concert in a place like this." She paused for a moment, twirling a strand of hair. "Well, actually this is my first concert, period. I've never really done this kind of thing before."
Ryuunosuke blinked. "Really? Not even with Moroboshi or Mendou?"
Shinobu shook her head. "Ataru-kun was a cheap date. Most of the time it was either just going out for ramen or beefbowl. As for Mendou, well... We didn't really go on dates. We just all went together, him and me, Ataru-kun and Lum."
Ryuunosuke sat down on the floor, legs crossed. "So I guess we're all having some new experiences tonight..." She looked up at Shinobu curiously. "Did you plan on dressing up and going out to a rock concert tonight? 'cause I sure as hell didn't..."
Shinobu just smiled down at Ryuunosuke. "I suppose that's just because it's Tomobiki. You're either going with the flow, or you're getting washed away." She kneeled down on the rough carpet, looking at Ryuunosuke's eyes. "That's what I've been doing. Can't say that I haven't been lonely, though."
Ryuunosuke smiled back a little. "So are you still feeling lonely these days?"
Shinobu's eyes twinkled with fondness. "I'm not feeling lonely anymore."
Ryuunosuke gazed into Shinobu's eyes, the same strange feeling of time expanding around them. It felt to Ryuunosuke, that in moments like that, she and Shinobu could've been in a sea of people and they could only feel about each other.
The sound of a voice calling Ryuunosuke's name broke the spell, and both turned to see Nacchan approaching, Junchan and Tsucchi behind him. "I've been wondering where you two had gotten off to..." He nodded to each of the boys behind him, who both turned to leave. "Kenpii's come back, but he's said that he heard some suspicious noises while he was parking. He looks alright, but I want him to keep an eye out. This is still in Tomobiki, after all."
Shinobu blinked. "Are you saying somebody's tagged along to try and ruin our night?" She looked towards Ryuunosuke, concerned. "Do you think we should try and be more careful, then?"
Nacchan swept back his hair, letting it fan out behind him. "Maybe. Though I imagine it would be more fun to make more noise, as much as possible, to bait a trap." A dangerous smile spread across his face. "After all, if this should be a place of chaos, then what better way to bring it out than by making it all the more outrageous?"
Shinobu frowned at Nacchan. "You seem to really be enjoying this. I mean, more than I ever expected."
Nacchan's smile grew wider. "Oh come now, darling! You used to have Mendou as a sort-of boyfriend, didn't you? That man is more outre than I can ever hope to be on any given Monday morning! Why shouldn't anyone else try and have a go at being him once in a while?"
Shinobu groaned. "You don't have to remind me. Though for what it's worth, you remind me more of Mendou's little sister."
"Is it the dress?" Nacchan asked, indicating his frilly gothloli outfit.
Minutes later, finally, the room slowly darkened, as seven spotlights in the seven colors of the rainbow burst into brilliant life, illuminating the stage. The crowd started to quiver in anticipation as each of the lights cycled through different colors.
And then, a deep, melodic voice boomed from out of nowhere: "Ladies! Gentlemen! And all of you in between! It's that time once again! It's time for everyone in Tokyo to stand up and show their pride!"
A single spotlight illuminated a woman, or at least what looked like a woman, standing center stage in a sparkling sequinned dress of the seven colours of the rainbow flag that still hung above the stage. Her massive mane of feathered blonde hair reached out and then cascaded down her back, framing her face painted with slashes of neon pink.
"It's time..." The woman said in the booming deep voice, "...for Rainbow Rock!"
And then the music started in earnest.
Chapter 6: Broadcast Closedown
Rainbow Rock has finally begun, and everyone is enjoying themselves. But then somebody comes in to try and ruin the fun. But everything will turn out right in the end, with the right kind of song to sing.
When Fire Tripper, the first band on stage, began to play, Ryuunosuke was expecting something a bit different to the simple pop music that she often heard around the school, that she overheard Shinobu's classmates listening to. What she didn't expect was the sheer force and volume of the music to overwhelm her, rattling her body to the very bone.
As the band played furiously, the crowd surged around the stage in heated fervour. Ryuunosuke could hear screams of ecstasy around her as the crowd swayed and shook. She looked over at Shinobu, who was staying back slightly from the crowd which, Ryuunosuke presumed, was mostly to try and avoid the crush.
By the time that the band were finished with their second song, Ryuunosuke had to stagger away from the audience to try and regain her breath. She went over to Shinobu again, who wound an arm around her waist in order to keep her steady.
"Is that really what a rock concert is supposed to be like?!" Ryuunosuke said in amazement. "That was wilder than I imagined!"
Shinobu smiled, squeezing Ryuunosuke's waist gently. "You should be more careful, or your makeup might run."
Kenta crossed his arms behind them, looking offended. "I used the waterproof makeups, lady! There's no chance that I would use anything else in a situation like this!"
Shinobu burst into giggles. "Okay, okay, I'm sorry!" She looked towards the stage as the band played on, the sound of the bass and drums deafening, the vibrations carrying on under their feet.. "You think the band could play a little louder? I'm not sure the people outside can hear what they're singing..."
Ryuunosuke shrugged a little. "Maybe that's the idea? We pay to hurt our ears with loud music while they listen in for free." She took a deep breath, managing to recover her breath. "Okay, I think I'm fine now."
The three watched from a safe distance as Fire Tripper went through their set, to be replaced with the next band, The Selfish Bastards. As the new band started to play, with a funkier, more danceable sound, Ryuunosuke found herself being dragged out to the dance floor by Shinobu.
Ryuunosuke hung on tightly to Shinobu's hands as she all but swung her around onto the floor, and then began dancing in front of her. Ryuunosuke started to dance along, the beat of the music pushing her along, as well as the sight of Shinobu illuminated by the multicolored lights that spread out from the stage.
Soon, Ryuunosuke and Shinobu found themselves surrounded by other dancers from the audience, breaking off from those crowding the stage, or joining in from the sidelines. Ryuunosuke felt herself cutting loose, bounding about the floor among the swaying bodies, completely free from worry and strife.
She turned and saw Lum there, dancing with Tacchan alongside her. And then Lum looked up and caught Ryuunosuke's eye, and they soon came together, Shinobu dancing with Tacchan instead. And after that, Lum was replaced with Junchan, who then was replaced with Nagisa, who then was replaced with Shu-chan, and then Kenta.
For a moment, all of Ryuunosuke's dance partners were starting to blur together, and Ryuunosuke was finding that she didn't even mind at all. But all too soon the music was over, and the band had quickly left the stage.
Shinobu came up to Ryuunosuke again, from out of nowhere. Ryuunosuke leant on Shinobu thankfully, her arm around Shinobu's waist again. "Thanks..."
Shinobu just smiled. "You don't need to thank me." She led Ryuunosuke over to the bar quietly. "Would you like a drink or something? Don't worry about paying, it's on me."
"Just water's fine." Ryuunosuke said, as she quickly regained her breath. "You were pretty good back there..."
"Thank you!" Shinobu said brightly. "Though I don't know that there's much opportunity for dancing with the next band. Kenta told me that The Laughing Targets are a pretty dark band."
"What, like they play with the lights off or something?" Ryuunosuke asked.
Shinobu shook her head. "No, silly. Their music is pretty dark and sinister. Like it's all dismal and foreboding and stuff. You could probably dance to it, but it would be kind of hard."
As the Laughing Targets took to the stage and began to play, Ryuunosuke could see Shinobu's point. Some of their music did have a danceable beat to it, but it sounded way too dark sounding to get on the floor with. A few people, however, did seem to be into it enough to try, which Ryuunosuke had to admire.
However, it didn't mean she wanted to stick around when nature called. Thus, she quickly went in search of the ladies' room. She felt a strange sense of happiness as she pushed open the door to the ladies toilets, the first time she could go inside without worrying that she'd run across somebody who would think she was a boy invading their space.
That happiness was soon abated when the stall next to Ryuunosuke's suddenly got occupied by two rather randy-sounding women. She could hear them murmuring soft words to each other, which Ryuunosuke strained to hear. And then that was replaced with the sounds of kissing, of heated moans and gasps, of the rustle of clothing.
Ryuunosuke tried her best to ignore the lewd noises and giggles as she did her business, sounds that barely let up even after she flushed the toilet. Ryuunosuke could feel her temperature spike a notch.
Slowly, Ryuunosuke stepped out of her stall, turned around, and looked towards the occupied stall. Not only was the door unlocked, but it wasn't even closed: Ryuunosuke could see both women clinched tight in their embrace, kissing frantically. The taller woman, who was wearing a dark red cocktail dress with a plunging neckline and black stiletto heels, was pressing the other lady, a brunette in a more conservative black dress with black shoes, up against one of the sidewalls.
Ryuunosuke shoved the door open, hard enough that the door banged against the wall. "Could you tone it down a little?! Some people actually want to take a piss in here!"
The two women jolted, turning to look at Ryuunosuke in shock.
And Ryuunosuke could feel an icy chill run up her spine as she recognized them.
"Sakura-sensei...?" She said slowly, her eyes moving between the shocked faces. "Mrs. Moroboshi?"
Sakura carefully straightened her dress. "Sorry, Ryuunosuke. Me and Mrs. Moroboshi, we..."
"We sort of have a thing going on!" Mrs. Moroboshi said quickly.
Ryuunosuke gaped at the two in horror, unable to speak. And then, silently, she turned around and made her way out of the bathroom and back towards the bar.
Thankfully, Shinobu and Lum were waiting. "I just ran into Sakura-sensei in the ladies'..." She decided to omit the details of their meeting, for Sakura's own sake, as well as Mrs. Moroboshi's. At least it'll be likely that Sakura would be back to normal tomorrow, so they all could put that awkwardness behind them.
Shinobu blinked in surprise. "I didn't expect Sakura-sensei to be into this kind of music..."
"Hey, she's a modern girl, right?" Lum said. "If she's the type to go down to the disco, she'd probably be all over this kind of music." She looked around for a moment. "Also, judging from the audience, she'd probably get a whole lot less creeps on her back around here."
Ryuunosuke blinked, and looked around the room as well. It didn't take long for Lum's meaning to become clear: among the noticeable couples that she found sitting back against the walls, most of them were girls with girls, or boys with boys. And it seemed that even with the couples that might've looked like they were boys and girls, it was hard to tell for sure.
"This is surreal..." Ryuunosuke said over the music, mostly to herself.
"This is fate, Ryuunosuke. That's what my uncle would say."
Ryuunosuke turned around to see Sakura standing before her, Mrs. Morboshi in tow.
"That's the only way I can explain it." She continued, now in full-on Shinto miko mode.. "Why else would we be here, in a place for gay youth, when we had to deal with all that chaos with the Sexuality Remote? I wouldn't be surprised if Uncle popped up out of nowhere sooner or later. It'd be the thing to expect."
Ryuunosuke swallowed hard. The way that Sakura said it, it was hard to deny. But even then, it gave her a sick feeling of dread in her stomach. Because if Sakura and even Ataru’s mother could stumble here by chance, then...
Ryuunosuke shook her head to try and dislodge the feeling of fear. But it wasn't much use. It was like she could feel the presence of her old man, slowly creeping in around her.
Her fear was suddenly derailed when a hand curled around hers. She turned to see Shinobu, gazing at her fondly, her face illuminated by the lights. As if by chance, the music had stopped, before Ryuunosuke could realise it.
"Ryuunosuke, don't worry." Shinobu said. "We're here for you, too. No matter what happens."
"What's going on?" Tacchan asked, coming towards the group. His eyes fell on Sakura, and then suddenly lit up with delight. "Oh my! Sakura-sensei, you're here too! And you look so wonderful tonight!"
Sakura made a strangled sound, backing away from Ataru and his sparkling eyes, while also trying to hide Mrs. Moroboshi from view.
Shinobu looked desperately between Tacchan and Sakura for a moment, before she dashed out in front of him. "Sakura-sensei is here, but she's with somebody tonight, Tacchan." She extended a hand nervously. "Can I have the next dance? It'll be Maris and the Super-Girls next!"
Tacchan looked disappointed for a moment, but relented all the same. "Well, all right. I mean, if you don't mind, Shinobu."
Ryuunosuke heaved a sigh as Shinobu led Tacchan away from Sakura and Mrs. Moroboshi. Even though it left her alone again, at least Shinobu managed to steer away from any potential embarrassment.
Mrs. Moroboshi came around behind Sakura, stepping towards Ryuunosuke. "You look very nice tonight, Ryuunosuke. And Ataru definitely has never looked better." She giggled lightly, and Ryuunosuke tried her best to fight off a smile.
Lum floated over to Ryuunosuke again. "Want another dance, sweetie?" She brought herself in close, curling her arms around Ryuunosuke's shoulders. Ryuunosuke could smell the oni-girl's sweet scent as she whispered in her ear. "I'll be all yours for the next few minutes."
"What about Tacchan?" Ryuunosuke asked. "Doesn't he usually get jealous?"
Lum just grinned at her. "Not if it's another woman."
Ryuunosuke could feel the heat rushing to her cheeks again. It was hard to forget all those glancing blows from Lum's sheer sex appeal most of the times that they’ve interacted, especially Lum’s weird thing about occasionally being handsy with her. But now, this was Lum full force and unchained, and focused directly at her.
On the stage, Maris and the Super-Girls took up their instruments, and begun to play a slow, slinky number. The lead singer stepped out to the edge of the stage as she sung the first words, her red hair glowing in fine lights that made her diamond studded hair-clip shaped like a yen sign glitter.
"Yeah," Ryuunosuke could hear herself say in a distant voice. "Yeah, I'd like that." And just like that, Lum was guiding her across the dancefloor, swinging her body to the beat of the music.
Ryuunosuke held on to Lum as she swirled around her, hovering around her lazily, with only the feeling of her hands moving around her body to keep hold, as if she would float away if she were to let go.
As Lum orbited her body once more, Ryuunosuke took firm hold of Lum's arm again, stopping her dead for a moment. Lum tilted her head as she looked at Ryuunosuke for a moment, long enough for Ryuunosuke to worry that she might've gone too far and upset her. But then Lum took her hands again, smiling.
Ryuunosuke took the lead, letting Lum drift across the dancefloor, extending her arms to swing her in lazy circles as the music built to a climax. Just as Ryuunosuke could feel the climax hit, she pulled Lum in again, so close that she could feel Lum's breath on her face.
They gazed into each other's eyes for a long moment, the music fading away for a long moment. For a moment, Ryuunosuke and Lum felt the world melt away. And then the sounds of the audience's applause broke the spell.
Ryuunosuke and Lum turned around to see the audience applauding them, their enraptured faces giving Ryuunosuke the impression that they might have been watching their dance all along.
Ryuunosuke gazed out among the adoring faces, her heart rising as she took in the applause. The people were all applauding, applauding for her. For her as a woman. And Ryuunosuke, at that moment, felt a sense of belonging that she never really felt before, or even thought she was capable of feeling.
And then Ryuunosuke saw the face of her father among them, glaring at her with murder in his eyes.
Ryuunosuke stared at her father, keeping her body very still. She roiled with rage as she saw her father's eyes, full of disappointment and contempt for her. She kept herself very still, because she knew that if she did anything else, somebody could get very hurt. Especially somebody who didn't deserve to get hurt.
She felt Lum's fingers squeeze her shoulders, her nails digging into her bare shoulders. There was a crackle of ozone in the air that was unmistakable, because she had been around Lum long enough to recognise it.
Everything slowly ground to a halt around them: the band didn't play, the audience didn't dance, or even look at the stage, too busy staring at the confrontation in the middle of the dance-floor.
Shinobu pushed her way out of the crowd, followed by Ata--Tacchan and Shu-chan. "Ryuunosuke-kun!" She cried out as she stepped forward towards her and Lum.
But before she could step closer, Mr. Fujinami turned his eyes on her. "Shut up!" His bellow rooted Shinobu to the floor, and shocked the rest of the audience into dead silence. The old man surveyed the auditorium, his eyes full of spite. For somebody so self-obsessed with manliness and masculinity, the Rainbow Rock was something close to anathema.
"Who among you is responsible for perverting my son like this?"
The question hung in the air for a moment, none daring to answer.
"WHO?!" Mr. Fujinami barked out.
The crowd flinched reflexively. Silence still reigned.
"You sick degenerates! You filthy vermin! You took my son, who I raised with my own two hands to be a man among men! And you turned him into a FAGGOT!"
Mr. Fujinami's eyes still burned. No tears. No histrionics. Ryuunosuke noticed. This was something else, far beyond his usual behaviour. This was pure rage and contempt.
"You have sullied him with your deviant ways! You made my son into a WOMAN!"
Ryuunosuke wondered if this was what it was to finally see him mad. She knew that to challenge him now would probably be death, or at least something close to it. But she would rather be dead than to have been so close to what she desired, and then having to go back to being the son her father forced her to be.
"She already IS a woman!" Shinobu shouted back. "She was born a woman! And you did everything in your power to ruin her! The only deviant in this place is you!"
"That's right!" Lum shouted. "She's a great woman, and she belongs here, with us! And we're not gonna let you stop her!"
Mr. Fujinami stalked towards Lum, a lot faster than she expected. Before even Ryuunosuke could realise it, he had slapped Lum away from Ryuunosuke, and roughly grabbed her by the hair. The oni-girl cried out as he yanked her close, pulling as hard as he possibly could.
"You dare say those things to me, girl?" He snarled, yanking hard. "I should have taught you a lesson long ago..."
His spiel was cut off with a sudden high heel pump to the back of the head. Everyone's gaze turned to Tacchan who, even though it was obvious that he was shaking, still stood in front of Mr. Fujinami.
"Let go of my girlfriend!"
Mr. Fujinami stared at Tacchan for a good long moment. He reached behind his head to touch the spot of blood forming from when that white high heel struck him. And in the next moment, he was on Tacchan, grabbing him roughly.
For a moment, all was a frenzy of shouting and protest. Shinobu reached forward to grab Mr. Fujinami, while Shu-chan and Megane went over to help Shinobu. Ryuunosuke dove forward and grabbed Mr. Fujinami by the back of his ratty shirt, trying to pull him away from Tacchan.
In the next moment, a terrible ripping sound was heard over the sounds of screams. And in the next, Tacchan fell back, the pretty blue dress torn from his body. All that was left was a bunch of tatters, over a pair of simple white briefs. Shinobu, Shu-chan and Megane stumbled backwards, landing hard on the floor. Ryuunosuke toppled backwards, slamming on her back against the dance floor.
Mr. Fujinami grinned sickly as he stared down at Tacchan, now reduced to simply Ataru. "Well, it looks like I managed to show you for what you’re really are, haven’t I?"
Mr. Fujinami loomed over Ataru, grinning as the boy cringed away from him. But then his jubilation died as a crackling sound came, along with the buzzing feel of electricity. He paused for a moment, a long moment, unable to turn around to see, knowing that he was going to see his end.
And then he turned around.
He saw Lum; beautiful, terrible Lum, rising up from the floor again, her body wreathed in blue lightning. Her green suit was slowly burned away from her body from the electricity, leaving her barefoot in her famous tiger-fur bikini. Her body seemed to glow with a terrifying blue light, like a human bug-zapper, set to maximum.
"How dare you," She slowly ground out through her teeth, "How dare you hurt and humiliate my darling like that..."
Mr. Fujinami said nothing in response. He had already accepted his fate.
When the smoke and stray electricity cleared, Mr. Fujinami lay in the middle of the room, blackened and unconscious. Ryuunosuke stared at the old man's prone body, still with that resigned expression on his face. The eyes were still open, staring out into space, accusing no-one in particular.
Ryuunosuke stared at the face of her father, and felt her heart sink. She managed to kindle a tiny, almost insignificant mote of hope, that she could finally let go of the expectations of her being the man her father always wanted to be. And then her father came along and stamped it out, even as he hurt himself doing it.
Megane and Kenta were already tying the old man up, Sakura pasting several spirit wards and seals on his bindings. There were smattered boos that came from the gathered crowd as the old man was carted off, to be left outside for the hope that the police would pick him up.
Ryuunosuke was silent for a moment, turning to face Ataru, now clad in only a pair of white cotton briefs. Lum was kneeling next to him, wiping the smeared makeup from his face. For all that Ryuunosuke knew, that horrible moment had drained the last of the effects of the Sexuality Remote. Tacchan was gone again, reverted to Ataru, like Cinderella's dress turning to rags at midnight.
The spell that came over all of them, at that instant, was broken, leaving only a bunch of confused teens amidst the remains. And nothing, as far as Ryuunosuke knew, but a bunch of memories and regrets.
Ryuunosuke turned again to see Shinobu, hands worrying the edge of a skirt frill.
"Are you going to be alright?" She asked quietly, the tremble making her voice even more softer than usual. She looked concerned, as Ryuunosuke knew she always was.
Ryuunosuke looked at Shinobu for a good long moment. "I'll be okay, I guess. I just want to go home. I'm done with all of this for tonight." She tried her best to give Shinobu a smile. "I'll see you on Monday for school, yeah?"
Shinobu stared at Ryuunosuke for a moment. "Ryuunosuke, what are you talking about?"
Ryuunosuke shook her head. "I dunno. I guess I'm feeling like I regret letting what happened today get my hopes up like that. I should've known that something would've come along and ruined it." She looked at Shinobu mournfully, trying to fight the tears she could feel coming. "I'm not cut out for this, Shinobu. But then I never really was, you know?"
Then Ryuunosuke turned away, and trudged off towards the door, leaving Shinobu watching her leave silently. She ignored the sounds of the crowd tending to each other as they tried to pick themselves up.
Ryuunosuke also ignored the sounds of the band warming themselves up again, trying to get ready to start another song. Or the sound of a piano being played, the beginning of a new song.
She was about to grab hold of the handle of the door, to pull it open and leave the club to go home and leave that whole sordid mess behind her, before she heard Shinobu start to sing.
While Ryuunosuke made for the door, Shinobu drifted over towards the stage. The lead singer, still standing in her outlandish bikini outfit and red hair braided up at the back, smiled down on her.
"You look like you could need some support." The singer said. "Why don't you come up here with us for a minute?"
The guitarist, another girl in a bikini outfit, with bright blue hair that reached down to her back, just snorted. "Why don't you let her sing the next number, then? Maybe she'll do better than your caterwauling, Maris!"
Maris gave the guitarist the stink-eye. "Bite me, Sue!"
Shinobu looked between the two girls for a moment, a strange thought popping into her head. "Do you girls know Hedwig?"
The two girls looked at Shinobu for a moment.
"Well, it's one of my favourite movies..." Maris said. "Don't tell me you really want to sing? To try and get that cute butch girl back?"
"It was supposed to be a joke, you know." Sue said, somewhat confused. However, after a moment, she sighed in defeat. "Which song would you like?"
Shinobu looked over the heads of the crowd, towards Ryuunosuke's quickly retreating back. "Wicked Little Town," She said simply. "Both of them."
And then Shinobu was brought onstage, and the band began to play, Maris switching to a keytar to play the piano part.
Ryuunosuke paused at the door, as Shinobu begun to sing in Japanese:
"You know the sun is in your eyes, and hurricanes and rains, black and cloudy skies. You're running up and down that hill, you turn it off and on at will, there's nothing here to thrill or bring you down."
Ryuunosuke turned to see Shinobu on stage, a microphone gripped in her hands, Maris and Sue flanking behind her as she sang. Fine lights illuminated her and her dress, making her glow like an angel coming down from heaven. She noticed Ryuunosuke looking at her, and sang louder into the microphone.
"And if you got no other choice, you know you can follow my voice, through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town."
Ryuunosuke felt her head go light. She didn't know if Shinobu had written the song herself, if this was something someone else made famous, or it was just something Shinobu stumbled on. But, hearing it now, and hearing it from Shinobu's lips, she knew that it was aimed directly at her.
Because it was aimed directly at her.
Ryuunosuke's eyes couldn't leave Shinobu as she continued to sing, the band playing along so effortlessly that they even sang backing vocals, supporting Shinobu's earnest voice.
Sakura's words sprang back into Ryuunosuke's mind: "This is fate... That's the only way I could explain it."
Almost as if by autopilot, Ryuunosuke started to walk back towards the stage. Like a sailor hearing the song of a siren, Ryuunosuke was in a trance, walking towards the stage, powerless to resist the urge to come back.
The crowd turned to look at Ryuunosuke as she approached, as Shinobu's eyes locked on Ryuunosuke's. Even though Shinobu was singing, loud and clear as a bell, her body was trembling, unable to stay still, all the emotions and feelings in Shinobu's body rocking about before being ejected through her mouth, into the microphone and out into the crowd.
Shinobu’s song struck Ryuunosuke hard in the chest, and burrowed deep in her heart and soul. Shinobu’s trembling voice welled up in her, causing the blood to rush to her face and tears to well in her eyes. And with all that, Ryuunosuke couldn't take her eyes away from Shinobu as she sang, no matter how blurry and indistinct those tears made of the sight.
So the tears spilled out as Ryuunosuke watched, streaming out of her eyes and down her cheeks, and she shook and quivered, as Shinobu's singing continued to strike her heart like a drum.
Ryuunosuke surged forward, the crowd in front of her parting quickly to let her reach the stage. Shinobu's singing halted mid-chorus, as she dropped the microphone and all but dove from the stage into Ryuunosuke's arms.
On stage, Maris and Sue smoothly took over the song, singing together as one voice to finish what Shinobu started. Below, the audience cheered, applauded, screamed in Lisztomanian ecstasy as Ryuunosuke and Shinobu embraced and kissed.
Neither of them cared. They were back in their own little world together, just the two of them. The only thing they noticed was that the Super-Girls decided to finish with "Midnight Radio" as an encore: A song that was perfect for one last dance. So Shinobu and Ryuunosuke had that dance, in the middle of the dance floor, flanked with friends both old and new.
And then it was well and truly over. Shu-chan was back to his old self, and had called over some of his team in the Mendou command car to get a spare outfit for Ataru. Two police cops dragged the still out cold body of Mr. Fujinami away, to spend the night in a holding cell, the boos and jeers of the audience following him out. And Maris and the Super-Girls thanked Shinobu for helping to save their set, and asked her for her translated Hedwig songs.
Ataru and Lum rode with Mendou and Megane in the white command car, driving off into the night. Sakura and Mrs. Moroboshi made their excuses and disappeared down the street as well, going their separate ways.
Shinobu leaned against the wall as Club Kitty shut its doors, the neon pink lights fading away and leaving the building in darkness. Ryuunosuke stood beside her, watching her face curiously.
"I'm sorry for almost ditching you back there, Shinobu." Ryuunosuke finally said. "That was a stupid thing to do, I know." She pulled off her jacket, and draped it lightly over Shinobu's shoulders, in an effort to keep her a little bit warmer.
Shinobu smiled softly at Ryuunosuke. "It's alright. Just promise me that you don't do that again, alright?"
Ryuunosuke smiled, and nodded. "Alright." She looked down at the jacket covering Shinobu's back, noticing something on the back. English words, written in red lipstick.
DENY ME AND BE DOOMED.
"Interesting statement, isn't it?" Shinobu asked. “Those words always reminded me of you, whenever I read them. So I figured that it would go well with your new look. Don’t you think so?”
Ryuunosuke smiled softly, placing two fingers under Shinobu’s chin to tilt her head up gently. “Yeah, I think so.” And then she leaned forward and kissed Shinobu on the lips again.
Unfortunately, their kiss was suddenly interrupted by the blare of a car horn.
"Are you going to stay here until morning? You two are going to get really cold like that."
The two girls turned to look at Kenta, sat inside the blue SUV, parked against the curb.
“Me and the club are going off to the Karaoke rooms downtown.” Nagisa called from the front seat. “We want to be singing until the sun comes up! I hope you’d like to come along, too!”
Ryuunosuke and Shinobu exchanged glances, before they both turned to Kenta and Nagisa and nodded. They quickly got in the car, Shinobu cuddling close to Ryuunosuke’s side, head resting on her shoulder.
The blue SUV was soon speeding down the road, off to keep the party going until dawn.
After such a strange and exciting day, it was a waste to let it end then and there.
It's finally done. Total Remote Control is done. After months of procrastination, I finally managed to finish another fanfic. I won't say this hasn't been that much of a struggle, especially considering that I had to fight my own general apathy. But now I can say that I have written a long-form story, in chapters and everything.
I hope that this is something that can go alongside Ryuunosuke In Bloom as a favourite of the people who read it. It makes me happy that I would be able to write good stories that do my own personal OTP justice.
One last quick reference spot: most of the band names in the Rainbow Rock set list are references to short story works by UY's creator, Rumiko Takahashi. And the description of Maris and Sue of the Super-Girls are definitely taken from the story their band is named after as well.