Act 5: Two-Faced

Credit and thanks goes to nashi kanata for the poster!

 As expected, Shun never replies, but trying to understand him wasn’t hard. Walking past the gym where varisty teams practice, I see Shun’s face among the basketball team photos. Wow, I think. That guy is athletic then. Being on the varsity team in university is particularly hard for every sport. He was even the MVP for last year. Okay, that means he’s not younger than me. He might be older. Who knows? We’ll see. 
I’m actually really glad that he’s on the basketball team. My childhood friend, Date Tsubasa, is also part of the basketball team from another university. Oh, and this childhood friend is not a guy. It’s a girl. Yes, I never had the luxury of having a childhood guy friend that I’ll fall in love with; instead, I grow up with another girl. She was always rather athletic and masculine. Funnily, we even made a vow when we were kids that we’d be together forever. Yeah, there was our shoujo-ai moment. Oh god, let me erase that from my mind, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want me to mention that anywhere in front of her boyfriend, who happens to be the basketball captain of their varsity team. The two of them have been together ever since high school and purposely chose to attend K university together. Tsubasa and Eto Atsushi were a famous couple in high school, the sort that everyone admired. Even I was jealous of their relationship. They were so mature and steady.

Now, why am I lucky? It’s because Tsubasa and Atsushi pretty much know all the local universities and much of the other ones in Japan. There are major tournaments happening yearround, and the two of them are bound to know the other players well, especially Tokyo University. We are rivals with K University, so that gets me thinking. Tell Tsubasa to ask Atsushi to help. The problem with that is that Tsubasa would want to know the whole story. She’d get mad at my way of earning cash. I guess I should just go directly to Atsushi for help, but I wonder why he’d help me. Mmm . . . Tsubasa’s birthday is coming up in early July. I’m pretty sure Atsushi would want me to help plan. Last time, Atsushi hosted a horrible beach party. He forgot to tell everyone to bring food to barbeque. Needless to say, Tsubasa was displeased. She was never the sort to survive without food, and that was something the two of us shared in common. If we were ever thrown into an all-you-can-eat buffet, we’d take over the whole place.

And this is why I spend my lovely Saturday with Atsushi at some local ramen shop.

“Yeah, it’s so hot. Do we have to eat ramen?” Atsushi groans at me and wipes his sweat off his face. He’s lifting his grey, baggy t-shirt up and down and up and down without realizing that girls passing by are glimpsing at his abs. Even I feel a bit embarrassed seeing his bare stomach. 

Not wanting to hear Atsushi complain like crazy, I suggest, “Fine, take your pick then.”

“All right,” Atsushi notes with a cheery smile that can drive any of his fan girls insane. 

Atsushi is not a pretty boy. He’s quite tanned and muscular. He has a set of large, almond eyes and a stern nose. He’s the athletic sort with his hair unstyled and trimmed really short. He doesn’t care much about fashion, but he is crazy about basketball shoes. He can spit out all these random models and facts about basketball shoes. If you ask him about suits, he’ll just look at you oddly. Fortunately, I’ve known Atsushi for too long that I feel nothing for him. 
In fact, the first time we met, I had accidentally thrown a basketball at his face during freshman year. It was really Tsubasa’s fault for throwing the ball too high for me to catch. I was supposed to help her practice passing even though I sucked at basketball. So, after the ball hit Atsushi’s face, Tsubasa and I went over to apologize. Atsushi exploded on us, and Tsubasa, being the self-righteous girl, challenged him to a basketball competition. Whoever won would have to say sorry. In the end, neither of them won. They had a tie, and so they kept having rematches. He’d win. Then, she’d win. This went on for almost half a year before one day, they just got together and have been with each other evern since then. So, really, I’ve seen all sides of Atsushi. No need for heart attacks or nose bleeds to happen.

“Where do you want to go then?” I ask Atsushi, who has been scanning the area too diligently like a bloodhound searching for drugs. 

All of a sudden, he makes a loud shout, “Aha! Let’s go there!” He points to this obscure, corner shop decorated with pink potted flowers and violet ribbons along the walls.

“Okay?”

“Yeah, Misa, you gotta be more open to trying new things,” Atsushi lectures and presses his large palm on the top of my head. I hate it when he tries to shrink me even more. I’m already short, for heaven’s sake!

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” I roll my eyes and follow Atsushi, who is already several paces ahead of me.

When we arrive at the restaurant, I realize that it’s a cosplay café. I’m thinking to myself, at least, I know much about manga and some stuff about anime. Atsushi, on the other hand, is probably thinking that he’s in alien land. I’m expecting him to bail, yet surprisingly, he’s super excited that he points to one of the waitresses and chirps, “Oh! What are you dressed up as? Why do you even have a huge key? Can that open—“ I nudge Atsushi’s side, causing him to moan, “Ugh! What was that—“

“Hi, can we just get a table for two?” I interrupt him, so that he doesn’t enrage the workers, who are kind of glaring at us.

“Sure,” the girl who is dressed as Sora from Kingdom Hearts tells us. “Right this way please.” She directs us to a table close to the window and sets aside a few menus for us.

“Well, this is rather interesting,” Atsushi immediately comments as soon as the girl walks away. “I never knew you could actually open up a place like this. It’s like anime coming to life. Kind of scary, if you tell me. You know, I never really understood how people can be so obsessed about—“

“Yeah, Atsushi, I think we should think about Tsubasa’s birthday.”

“Oh, we can get to that later,” Atsushi continues to say. “Right, so as I was saying, it’s kind of insane how—“

“Atsushi . . .”

“What?” He stares at me as if I’m a bit crazy. He just doesn’t realize that all the other customers are pretty much throwing evil glares at us, particularly at Atsushi. It’s all because of his blabbing. Atsushi, though a great basketball player, is too blunt to the point where he’s dense. Now, I remember why I never fell for him. He was always destroying the great atmosphere of an event. When the student council was hosting an even where guys and girls confessed to each other on Valentine’s Day, Atsushi would blurt in the hallways that he thought that was really stupid. He’d say, “Well, why do people rely on that special day? Just say they like each other. God! So stupid.”

Now, no one dared to disrupt Atsushi because he was way taller and much more powerful than them. Plus, he was the captain of the basketball team in high school. Over here, though, no one cared about that. We were outnumbered too, and because of that, I warn him, “Unless you don’t want us to be kicked out or hated for life, then quit commenting about people and their interests. People can like different things you know. Some people might think that basketball is insane.”

“What? How can you say that about basketball?” Atsushi almost spits in my face and is about to leap from his seat.

“See?” I blow out a breath. “That’s exactly what I mean. Now apply it to people who love manga or anime or gaming.”

Atsushi makes a duck face, and sighs, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I got a little carried away. Hehe.”

“All right, so . . . like I said, I’ll help you plan Tsubasa’s surprise party, and you’ll tell me more about Watari Shun.” I divert us back to our original topic.
Now, Atsushi is flipping through the menu to see what to order. Fortunately, he can still multi-task, so he answers, “Watari Shun? What do you want to know about him?”

“Does he have a girlfriend?” I first inquire.

“I don’t think so,” Atsushi mutters. “He does have a lot of fans though. They go to pretty much all of his games and make a ton of noise. Kinda annoying.”

“Okay, so . . . are you friends with him?”

“Well, we are friendly rivals. We only really meet on court. He’s a really good player. He’s really a team player. You know, the type with real talent,” Atsushi remarks as he turns to another page.

“Do you know what he likes to do?”

“I don’t know. We don’t really hang out.” Damn it. I want to bash my head on the table. Atsushi lied saying that he could help me! Ugh, that prick! And just as I’m drowning in my complaints, Atsushi now asks, “Why are you so interested in him? You like him?”

Ugh . . . about that . . . yes or no? If I lie, then Atsushi will definitely be super eager. He’ll help out for sure, but this will travel to Tsubasa’s ears, and she’ll never let me go unless I tell her the full story. In that case, I can’t lie to her. She always sees through my lies because of her persistent interrogation. If she weren’t a basketball player, I’d suggest her enrolling with the police. If I don’t lie, then I’ll have to make up some other reason like a friend of mine likes Shun. That sounds highly suspicious, and even a dense guy like Atsushi won’t believe that. Either way, it’ll come back to my liking Shun. I guess I’ll just lie, and so I do. 

“Yeah . . . he seems like an interesting person,” I pretend to admit.

Atsushi suddenly turns into a complete fan boy. Placing his hands on his cheeks, he smiles sheepishly. “Oh my god, Misa! You’re finally becoming cute and becoming more like a girl!” he squeals. “I’m so proud of you! You’re not going to be a—“

I cover his mouth, forcing him to shut up. “Just keep it to yourself for now,” I tell him. “I’ll tell Tsubasa later.”

“All right, all right,” Atsushi agrees rather quickly, acting rather giddy. “I’ll try to find out more about him then, but really, I never expected you to fall for the sort that looked like Watari-san.”

True. I was never really into pretty boys. I preferred smart, hardworking guys, who were into books and not sports. I was really a glasses person, and I think I still am. I don’t feel anything for Watari Shun. It’s all business. 

“Yeah,” I lie, “but you can’t control who you like right?”

“Right,” Atsushi says. “All right, I think I know what I’m going to get!” He slams the menu and then waves and calls out to a waitress, who is dressed as Hatsune Miku. This waitress has her back turned to us because she is busy tending to another table, but as soon as she shows her face, I almost fall off my seat.

There’s no mistake. This is Watari Shun. I purposely studied his photo on the sports bulletin for a long time to remember his face. He’s just powdered up and has contoured his face so that his nose becomes even more prominent and his face is sharper. His eyes are perfectly round and blue owing to his circle lens and shiny eye makeup. He’s even wearing rose lipstick. Oh god, I’m thinking. Did he hear us? Did he hear us? Did he? And why is he dressed up here? Why is he working here in the first place?

Shun walks gracefully to our table acting like we have never seen each other. To be honest, I don’t think anyone can forget the person that pantsed him or her. At least, I wouldn’t. Now, I’m anxiously shaking one of my legs, and the stupid Atsushi chants, “What’s wrong Misa? Do you still need more time or do you need to use the washroom?”

With a softspoken voice, Shun flashes a sweet but fake smile, “I can take you to the washroom if you would like.”

“No, really—“

“No, I insist,” Shun interrupts and grabs my arm that accidentally extended out to show my refusal. “You do not look—“ 

He doesn’t manage to finish his sentence because I reach out too far and he pulls me too hard that I’m out of my chair and my hand is squeezing his chest. Whatever he has in there is like jelly, and I squeeze too hard that it slips from his bra. All his fans pretty much gasp out how outrageous I am, and I even hear tons of chairs rub against the hard wooden floor. All right, so now I have an audience, so I croak, “Umm, I’m really—“

This time, Shun is the one that cuts me off as he runs to the bathroom with me being dragged behind. I honestly didn’t mean to get his pants off and to touch his chest. Still, Shun obviously doesn't care about the truth and locks us in the washroom. In his regular, manly voice, he demands, “What do you really want?”

“Ugh . . . did you hear what I said? Haha.” I nervously laugh when my eyes meet his death gaze. He doesn’t answer me, so I guess he did overhear me. I try to explain, “You see . . . umm, I quite like Atsushi, so I thought . . .”

Oh god. Even more lies. What am I doing?

“So you thought that you could use me as your boyfriend and make Atsushi jealous?”

“Yeah . . .” I nod slowly but surely. “That sounds about right.”

“Well I refuse,” Shun grumbles and folds his arms tightly against his body. “And if you’ll excuse me, I have—“

“Aren’t you worried that I’ll spread rumours that you like dressing up as a girl? And as Hatsune Miku?” I forcefully threaten once his hand touches that door handle.

Shun shrugs his shoulders, scoffing, “People already know me online.”

“But they don’t know that it’s Watari Shun doing all this. They probably think it’s just some guy. Am I right?” I continue to attack rather viciously. “I’m pretty sure the basketball team doesn’t know, and your parents surely don’t know.”

“What are you trying to say?” He shows his teeth and crinkles his nose like an angered wolf meeting a defiant lamb.

“I’ll keep your secret, and you be good and be my boyfriend,” I suggest.

I also think to myself that I’m going to make sure that no one knows that he’s gay as well. Obviously, I can’t tell Shun that I know he’s gay. I’m pretty sure he is still stuck in his closet and will never come out. It’s okay. Out of guilt, I will make him be brave enough to tell the world that he likes guys.

Shun cracks his neck side to side and snickers. “All right,” he utters. “We’ll play by your rules for now, you airstrip.”

Airstrip? Huh? The place where airplanes land? How is that even related to . . . 

Shun probably notices my perplexed stare because he points at my chest. I look down and realize what he means. Flat chested. What? I have a size B, okay? That is not that small! 

I shout after him just before he leaves, “You better be there when I text to meet! Okay, Miku?”

Shun doesn’t even answer me, and it’s probably because my comeback is so lame. As I exit the bathroom and make my way back to the table, I find Atsushi looking at me rather worried. “You all right?” he asks.

Great. His face reminds me of the lie that I just used. Now, let me recap what I have done. I’m supposed to pretend to like Shun to make sure Ren has progress with his manga. I’m also supposed to be in love with Atsushi, so Shun and I are together. We are together because I know his secrets. I have blackmailed someone and have made a deal with a crazy guy, actually two guys. Ren is probably the harmless, insane type. Shun, on the other hand, is the dangerous one. When I pantsed him, he seemed like an innocent, nice guy. Now, he’s rather scary and manipulative. I think he’s that manga type of guy where he’s super nice in front of the public and actually horrible in real life. I have a feeling he’ll also twist the situation in his favour somehow. Oh well, as long as this relationship lasts for a bit and Ren’s manga series is a success, then everything should be fine. I’ll just help Shun find a boyfriend to make up for it. That way, he won't torment me in the end, right?

I bite my lower lips and think in my head that I'm slapping my own cheeks. I don't want to ever touch my face with my unwashed hands just in case I ever get pimples. Oh gosh, why am I even doing this, I think to myself. Then, I picture all my babies in my mind. Oh darlings, what I am doing is all for you. When I finally get the things I want, I’m going to sleep beside them. Life can’t get any better, and so, I’m back to normal. I give Atsushi a grin and answer, “Yup! I’m all good.”

“Are you sure?” Atsushi repeats.

“Yes, yes I’m sure.”

I’m sure . . . I’ll be fine, yet, out of the corner of my eye, I spot Shun cursing at me with his burning eyes. Okay . . . maybe not. Maybe I’m not . . . fine.
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