Act 6: The Consequences of Joking

Credits and thanks goes to whore!sica for the poster!

All I get from Ren is loads of laughter. The man can’t control himself. He’s laughing so hard that he’s moving from furniture to furniture just to laugh. There he goes sitting on a chair laughing. There he goes rolling on the ground laughing. There he goes landing on his bed for support while laughing. There he goes back on the floor laughing. 
“Hahahahahaha!”

That’s pretty much all I hear for ten minutes, and this is after I report to him about my findings. I already know how bad my situation is; he’s not helping at all. In fact, he’s making things even worse. Why can’t he, at least, be considerate? I went through an iffy, tough situation. All he has to do is record my mishaps, and the man will probably be cashing in on tons of moolah. Ka-ching!

Sigh.

Meanwhile, I’m doing all the hardwork. He’s like that feudal lord, and I’m the stupid peasant farming for him just because I want to rent a tiny piece of land from him. Damn you! Really. Damn you. And to think older people are more mature. That’s so wrong. That is just so wrong. I can’t stress that enough. After meeting someone like Ren, I’m staying away from older men. I’m sticking within a plus five or minus five from my age. That seems way safer than a difference of ten years. I think the generation gap has been reversed. He’s the little kid, and I’m the adult.

“Okay,” I declare with my butt glued in his bright blue Ikea chair, “I get that it’s funny, but you don’t have to rub it in my face so badly. It’s not my fault that this happened, all right?”

Ren is wiping the corner of his eye; he’s almost sobbing like a girl who has just finished watching The Notebook. He can’t even get a grip of himself, and he’s starting to gasp for air. “S-s-sorry,” he at least says. “It’s just too . . . Hahahahahahahaha!”

There Ren goes again with his harsh, opera-like laughs. Imagine his laugh travelling from my room to Mount Fuji and bouncing back from there to my ears. Great. I’m going to request for more royalties when he hits it big. Seriously, this manga will sell. It’s a bit crazy, but all the stuff that goes on is true because I’m slaving away for the love of money. I let out a sigh as I continue to wait for Ren to calm himself down. At least, I guess, he’s back to normal. To think of it now, it’s weirder to find a dejected, stringent Ren. It’s so much more normal for him to be weird. His weirdness equates to normality? I shake that thought of my head. That just doesn’t make sense.

“So . . . any suggestions?” I mumble once his laughing fit starts to die down.

Ren hops up from the ground and skips to his seat. Then, he plops his bottom on his swivelling, black leather chair. He grabs his pen and a sheet of lined paper from his desk. “So here’s what I think.” He starts drawing all these panels. I have no idea what he’s doing, but I watch anyways. Once he has filled in some scribbles within each window, he explains, “The storyboard for chapter two will be what happened with you and Shun today. See all that stuff that I’ve drawn? Anyways, I think what’s next is for Shun and you to go on some date.”

“Huh?”

“Do you have class with Shun by any chance?”

“I’m not very sure. I mean I’ve never really looked around the room for familiar faces.”

“Ask him for his schedule then.”

Easier said than done. Okay? Just when I get that thought stuck in my mind, my cell phone starts to ring. When Ren hears the cover of Just Be Friends, a vocaloid song sung by Megurine Luka, Ren starts to snicker. Yeah, so I like that sort of music. What gives? I dodge his gaze and answer my call, “Hello?”

“Misa? That you?”

I recognize this voice to be Atsushi’s. Odd, why would he call me? Did he and Tsubasa get into a huge fight? “Yeah? What’s going on?” I wonder.

“Remember how I said I’d help you with Watari Shun?”

I nod while answering, “Yeah . . . and?”

“And we’re having a game with your school next Wednesday. I think you should come and cheer us on. Obviously, you can use that as an excuse to see Shun too,” Atsushi clarifies.

“And you didn’t tell Tsubasa about Shun right?”

“Well, about that . . .”

Yeah, I should have expected Atsushi to tell Tsubasa everything. That’s what she likes about Atsushi. He’s so blunt that he’ll never be able to lie to her. That’s also anothing trait that Tsubasa and I share: We both hate liars and cheateres to the core of our hearts. May liars all burn to Hell. Oh wait . . . I’m lying too. Damn. Damn it! Stupid Ren making me become a liar.

“You told her right?” I mutter, thinking about how I should actually lie to Tsubasa. Would she even buy that I like Shun? I guess I’ll just have to act super in love with Shun on the day of, and Tsubasa will understand everything. Actions are greater than words, right? Right . . .

“I’m so sorry, Misa! I didn’t mean to tell her, but she wanted me to tell her where I was this weekend. I told her it was with you, and then, she was suprrised that you didn’t tell her. And you know, stuff happened, so in the end, I just—“

“It’s okay, Atsushi,” I reassure him. “She was bound to know anyways.”

“Oh phew, good. I thought you were gonna kill me.” I can Atsushi release a huge breath aloud. Then, he instantly adds, “Oh! I didn’t tell her who you liked though.”

“Okay . . . that’s somewhat beter. Well, I guess you owe me a drink.”

“Fine, sounds good.”

“And . . . a double date.”

“Huh?”

“You know, to get Shun and I together?”

“Oh! Yeah, sure. I’m sure Tsubasa wouldn’t mind! She’d want to see if he’s worthy of you anyways!”

“Yeah . . . knowing her . . .”

The two of us let out a simultaneous sigh, and then Atsushi chuckles. “Okay, so we’ll see you Wednesday at 6 pm at Mitzuski Gym?”

“Yup, sounds good! Thanks, Atsushi!”

“No problemo, T-rex!”

That’s the nickname that Atsushi and Tsubasa came up with when they saw me chow down a huge T-steak after fasting for a famine. Atsushi likes to think that Tsubasa and I are like carnivores. If there’s ever hot pot, Tsubasa and I will have a race to see who eat the most meat. Within minutes, several plates of meat will be gone. That’s how crazy we are for meat.

Once I hang up, Ren immediately sings, “So so so? What’s going on?”

Oh god, he’s like a crazy, estrogen-filled teenage girl. Goodness gracious. I want out. Now. Ignoring him, I select Shun’s number from my contact list. 

Surprisingly, Shun answers, “Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me, Takada Misa, the one from the café? The one you locked in the washroom?” I try to jog his memory.

Shun’s voice immediately changes to an excited, sarcastic one. “Oh! Airstrip!” He laughs evilly over the phone. Great, now I have two people laughing at me in one day. My life really sucks. “So, what do you want?”

“There’s a game on Wednesday with—“

“K university?” he confirms. “Oh, so you want me to act like a loving boyfriend in front of Atsushi so he gets jealous? Is that what it is?”

“Exactly, Miku darling,” I purposely add. “You’re so smart.”

I hear his scoff as he comments, “Thank you, Airstrip. I know I’m smart. I don’t think that’s anything new.”

Bi.tch, I think in my head. What a fu.cking diva. How is he going to get a boyfriend this way? Stupid Shun. I clear my throat to respond, “You’re going to help me right? I mean, unless you want people to know that you—“

“Yeah, okay.”

Then, I hear the dial tone. He hung up? He hung up on me? Wait, he hung up! He hung up on me! What is up with this man? In a fit of fury, I press his number again. “Hey!” I screech once he picks up.

“What?” he grumbles like a grouchy, old man that just woke up from his nap.

“You hung up on me!” I yell as fiercely as I can.

“Whatever.”

Then, he hung up on me again because I’m hearing that familiar sound. Doo. Doo. Doo. What the heck? Who does this man think he is? Huh? How can he be shy that he got pantsed and then be all arrogant? What is he? Two-faced? 

Again, I dial his number and holler, “You! How dare you—“

There he goes with cutting this call off. This time, I’m up to my limit. I call him once more, and he is even more annoying. He narrates, “The number you have dialed is not available right now. If you’d—“

“I know that’s you! You’re going to be so dead on Wednesday!” That’s the final straw, and when I realize all that is over, I find Ren’s eyes ogling at me. He is leaning his cheek on his hand, seemingly enjoying this spectacle. “What?” I snap at him. “What are you looking at?”

Ren ssunshines and pretends to go back to work by grabbing ahold of his pen. “Nothing.” He tries his best to swipe that grin off his face, but it’s too hard for him to control his muscles. “Hehe . . .”

“Jesus!” I holler and bolt out of the room with my purse.

As expected, Ren doesn’t chase after me, and I’m left walking the way back home on this lonely road. Guys . . . really suck. 

--

I go to the game twenty minutes earlier so I can chat a bit with Tsubasa. Tsubasa rarely goes to Atsushi’s games because she’s usually busy practicing and because the two have this pact. Every time one of them sees the other play, their team will lose. I think it’s a stupid superstitution, but I don’t tell them that. They’d get mad at me and claim that I knew nothing about basketball. Yeah, I really don’t, so I never go on that topic.

Once I enter the gym, I scan the area and find Tsubasa sitting on the middle row of the bleachers. She is watching Atsushi’s team practice. The two teams are already preparing for the game. A few players are stretching while others are shooting hoops or doing some basic drills. Tsubasa is so focused that I have to tap her shoulder for her to respond to me. “Hey!” I greet her and take a seat beside her. “Thought you wouldn’t come.”

Tsubasa laughs at me and shows me her round, teasing eyes. I have to say Tsubasa has a really set of alluring eyes. It’s too bad her personality is too manly and that she refuses to wear skirts. She thinks they’re totally impractical and encourage perverts to attack females. Otherwise, she would have made for a sweet girl-next-door. Of course, once she opens mouth, that girl-next-door image is completely discarded from my mind. “Yeah, Misa!” She swings her arm around my shoulder with so much force that a guy could even be knocked out. Luckily, I’m too used to her strength, so I angle my body in the way that minimizes the pain. “Heard about that little thing you have for, cough, cough.”

“Yeah, so, Atsushi told you,” I mumble and shrug her head off of my shoulder. She likes to place all her weight on me. That heavy little thing.

“Well, well . . .” She elbows me in the ribs, almost making me gasp for air. “Tell me who it is!” she demands like a drunk, old man.

I don’t really want the whole world to know about my alleged crush for Shun, so I just point to him. He is on the bench for home and bending forward to tie his shoelaces. He also has the number two for his jersey. “Him,” I utter.

“Him? You mean, number ten?” Tsubasa shrieks. “Misa, I never knew you liked buff, punkish—“

“No, I mean, the guy to his right.”

“Number twenty-eight?”

“No, Tsubasa, it’s number two. Watari Shun.”

Tsubasa almost loses her balance and slips down the bleachers. I’m completely confused at the way she’s reacting. Okay, so I anticipated for her to be shocked but not to this extreme. Tsubasa then sits upright for once and grabs ahold of my hands. “Don’t . . . why him?” she questions with enlarged, inquisitive eyes.

“Umm . . .” I lie again, “He seems pretty nice?”

“No!” Tsubasa hollers so loudly that several basketball players, including Shun, turn their heads towards us. Shun’s eyes meet with mine, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to wave. This situation is just too weird. Should I even go down and talk to the guy? We are . . . technically dating right? Shun suprisingly greets me with a friendly wave and even gets up from his seat to make his way to us. I’m not sure what to do but to lean back in my seat. This is just too scary. By the time Shun approaches us, he displays a sweet grin that reminds me of chocolate fondue. I find myself smiling back at him. Oh god, the human reflex is so bothersome! 

I’m expecting Shun to stop moving and to take a spot beside me or something. Instead, he leans forward and gives me a peck on the cheek. “Hi, honey bunny,” he whispers after retreating from my cheek. Honey bunny? What? I’m sure my mouth is gaping open because Shun purposely corners me with a question: “What? You don’t like my nickname for you? I think it rather suits you. You’d be adorable with bunny ears.”

Oh god. What is he trying to do? Okay, Misa, get a hold of yourself. Play this out nicely. 

As Shun squeezes in between Tsubasa and me, I give him a gentle smile and then intentionally cling onto his arm. “Aww, thank you, Shunbie.” I just make up some random name for him. Shunbie . . . oh god. What did I do?

From the corner of my eye, I see Tsubasa looking as if she’s about to hurl a wad of vomit. Tsubasa hates romantic comedies and anything related to love or cuteness. She hates pink too. I don’t blame her for feeling like that. I don’t even feel comfortable with the way I’m acting. Nevertheless, I force myself to keep smiling, visualizing in my mind that I’m snuggling with all my beloved goodies.

Now, Shun makes it even more awkward by stating, “Oh sorry about that. I’m Misa’s boyfriend, Watari Shun, and you are?” He even extends his hand out to Tsubasa for her to shake. 

Tsubasa crosses her arms, declaring in a frustrated tone, “Date Tsubasa.”

Shun curls his fingers together into a loose fist to rest it on his lap. “Well . . .” He glances at me once more and gently stamps his lips on my forehead. “Cheer me on, honey bunny, and I’ll be sure to win this for you!” Then, he glimpses at Tsubasa to remark, “It was nice to meet you, Date-san.”

Once Shun scurries off to the benches, Tsubasa, with her eyes glued at the courts, notes, “Don’t date him, Misa.”

“Why not?” I curiously ask.

Tsubasa now shoots me a serious glare, reminding me of a bear protecting her cub. “I’ve heard awful rumours about him. He doesn’t treat women seriously, and he likes to party hard. He really just breaks hearts.” 

“How come you know so much about him, but he doesn’t even know your name?” I question. It’s just weird for Tsubasa to know so much about someone, especially a guy. Tsubasa usually doesn’t care about gossip. In fact, she despises cattiness, just as much as me. That’s why we’ve been friends for so long. We don’t talk behind each other’s backs. We just have a good time together.

“Oh, several of my friends and a few of my teammates have dated him,” Tsubasa explains.

“Oh.”

Tsubasa, again, gazes at the court, and with a sigh, she announces, “But you won’t listen right?”

I don’t answer her question because by now, a lot of people are moving into the gym. The game is going to start in about three minutes, and once the game begins, there’s no sense in talking to Tsubasa. She’s too focused on analyzing every movement. She says it’s important to watch other people play. That way she can improve and notice her opponents’ weaknesses. I have known her for too long that I leave her in her own world and try to follow along with the game. The game isn’t too bad. It’s rather intense. Shun is a really good shooter. He keeps making up for his teammates’ mistakes and tries to cheer them up too by rewarding them with a pat on their shoulders when they do well. The game keeps progressing with Atsushi scoring and then Shun scoring. They’re now tied at the end of the game, and the only way to break this tie is to have penalty shots. Atsushi’s team has finished their round, and now Shun is taking the last shot. If he makes this in, our university will win by a point. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, getting extremely nervous for him. He dribbles a few times and then jump, he releases the ball. In it goes!

Everyone is cheering loudly. Everyone meaning the people from our university. All of Shun’s teammates are hugging each other and giving each other fist and chest bumps. Shun, though, ignores all of this commotion. Instead, he dashes to the bleachers towards me. He captures everyone’s attention with his move and before I can even react properly, he swoops me off of my seat. I feel his lips press firmly against mine as I’m forced to barely stand on the tips of my toes. Our bodies are pressed too closely together that I can feel the pressure of his hips against ma y body. My chest is smothered against his sweaty skin as well. This is too forceful for my liking, and it seems more like a show if not anything. I just follow along with his tongue that lodges in my throat. So this is what a deep kiss feels like. I kind of feel like gagging because he’s being too rough. I’m not sure why he’s so desperate for love or affection. This is all for business, I know, but it doesn’t have to be so real . . . and sticky. Reminder to self: don’t kiss a guy who has just finished playing some type of sport.

Currently, I just can’t help but wonder what this kiss actually means. He definitely does not like me in that way. Then why? Why even do this? My eyes finally open, and all I see is him up close and blurry. I let my eyes wander a bit to the corner. Surely, my vision is still blurry but I feel that someone is watching. Just as Shun pulls away, I realize that the whole crowd is prying on us. Shun holds onto my hand, leading me away from the bleachers and the gym. My gaze, however, remains towards the people, especially at Tsubasa and Atsushi. They’re stunned. I can tell that by the way Atsushi’s eyes are popping out and the way Tsubasa is biting her knuckles. She has a habit of clenching her teeth on her knuckles when she’s agitated or stressed. I’m not surprised by their reactions, yet I feel that something is off. My gut tells me that Shun’s attitude is related to their expressions. He kissed me for those, but why? 

Could it be . . . I suddenly think. Could it be . . . that he is in love with Atsushi? Oh my god! Now it all makes sense. Shun agrees to help me because he wants to break Tsubasa and Atsushi up. No wonder! I totally understand now!

“Ha!” I accidentally blurt aloud.

Immediately, Shun shifts his head towards me and frowns. “What? What’s so funny?”

I show my teeth in hopes of making a fine smile. “Eh . . . it’s hard to explain.”

“You’re not going to ask why I did that?” Shun suddenly pops that question.

“Umm . . . “ Right, I’m supposed to be mad that Shun took my first kiss. Wait . . . he took my first kiss! What is the meaning of this? I did not even understand what hapepned completely, and poof! My first kiss is gone! Ugh . . . I’m so retarded.

Even Shun remarks, “You know, usually people get mad. . .”

I try to reason it out by playing it cool, “Even if I get mad, what are you going to do? Compensate me?”

Shun shrugs his shoulders and lulls me forward so that I’m walking beside him. “Eh.”

“And you’re not even apologizing?” I urge.

“It’s not like you were mad. You seem fine with it.” Then, Shun looks down at me and smirks. “Maybe you even enjoyed it.”

“What?” I mutter. “Enjoyed it? I didn’t even get a chance to figure out what was going on to even enjoy it!”

Shun’s grin widens as he leans backwards to my height. He’s nearly an inch away from my lips when he states, “So you wanted to enjoy it?”

“N-n-n-no!” I stammer, glancing away from his inquisitive eyes. Unexpectedly, I feel his hand pull my chin towards his face and then I feel his lips on mine again. This time, though, Shun is very gentle; it almost feels like a feather is dusting over my lips. Even when his tongue enters my mouth, I feel as if I’m sucking on a piece of sweet, peach lollipop. No, we’re sort of melting together like chocolate truffle. His kiss is remarkably nice and smooth. I almost want to wrap my arms around him, but he backs away with a sadistic smile.

“So I don’t have to apologize now?” he snickers.

I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know how to win this argument, so I guess I’ll start a new one. “Umm . . . Shun, this has been bothering for a bit,” I mumble before bravely confronting this creature. “Did you get plastic surgery?”

“What?” He is making that half-grin. He doesn’t believe what he’s hearing from me. Even I can’t believe how desperate I am.

“I said . . . have you ever had plastic surgery before?”

“Honestly?”

“Yes, honestly,” I confirm.

“Okay, I had my whole face reconstructed because of a huge car accident.”

“And you can still play basketball? Wow.”

“You honestly believed me?”

“Normally . . . people wouldn’t lie about these things.”

“Sure, sure. Normally people wouldn’t ask about this either.”

“Well did you?”

“Does it matter?” he retorts.

“I’m just curious.”

“Then where do you think I fixed my face?”

I examine him and state, “Eyes and nose.”

“Well let me tell you something.”

“What?”

“You’re right. I did get my eyes and nose done. I used to be really fat too in middle school.”

“How’d you . . .”

“People bullied me a lot for my weight. I had no friends, so I decided to study at home until high school. I’d change and enroll into a different school in high school. No one would know who I was after my surgery and here I am today.”

“Wow, Shun, I’m really proud of you. It’s really tough to—“

“You honestly believed in what I said?” Shun looks at me in disbelief and jeers at me. “You’re ridiculous. That’s the stupidest story I ever made up. Maybe I should have told you that I’m mixed too, and that my mom is German. Maybe you’d believe that too! Ha! You’re really—“

“You shouldn’t lie Shun. That’s not nice. To you, who is born with everything, these changes may seem like nothing, but to some these are huge. I’m really disappointed in you, Shun.” I prescribe his well-needed lecture. “I actually thought there was more to you than a pretty face.”

That’s how Shun and I have our first argument as a fake couple.To be honest, I was thinking that maybe there was more to this jerk, but you know, a jerk will just be a jerk. That’s why that word was invented right?
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