Needless to say, when I got home, KiKaKo were all chattering away at the dinner table. I wasn’t even surprised that my mother was so calm about this whole matter. You know, typically, parents would freak out if their children disappeared, but for my mother, this was just an everyday matter. In fact, she even kept a record of my disappearances in her diary of her children. My weird mother believed that each child should be remembered properly for his or her deeds, so she would be write our biographies. She said one day, if we ever suffered from bad memory, we could read the biographies she created for us. She even promised not to add in personal remarks. Particularly for me, she had the thickest book. That was because she had a list of offenses and disappearances that I had gone through. She said that in case I was ever murdered, the police would know my murderer soon enough. According to her, a lot of cases went unsolved due to a lack of clues and suspects, so in my case, I wouldn’t become some cold case file played on TV.

Great.
My own mother had my own death played out. I was pretty sure that was why she bought tons of insurance on me. Twisted as it was. She really believed that I would die unexpectedly. I sort of now understood why KiKaKo were all incredibly weird. They must have gotten her side of the genes.
“Look at those photos!” Yuka exclaimed while chewing with her mouth open. God. Why did I have to have a barbaric sister? “Clearly, Hayato was targeted by that fu.cking banchou!”
My mother hollered while stir-frying some vegetables, “Language, Yuka. Language.”
“Sorry,” Yuka mumbled before gulping down some chips. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. “What’d ya think, aneki?”
Yuki flipped the page of her monthly manga magazine and uttered, “Not sure. Don’t really care either. You high school kids, these days, are so . . . weird.”
“Right, I shouldn’t have even bothered asking you nerd head,” Yuka rolled her eyes while grumbling. “All you know about is manga. Oh, and those weird dating games. Tokideki?”
“It’s Tokimeki Memorial! Okay?” Yuki snapped at her.
“Whatever. Same thing,” Yuka mumbled.
“No!” Yuki shouted. “It’s not the same thing! You don’t understand! You don’t—“
“I think . . .” Yuko cut her off while glancing at me. I felt a gulp slide down my throat. “I think . . . Hayato has a little admirer. Hehe.”
“Admirer?” Yuki’s eyes suddenly brightened. “Why didn’t I think of that? I bet that banchou is secretly in love with our little brother.” Yuki’s fingers were crossed together as she shrieked, “Kyah! Oh my goodness! I approve Hayato! I approve!” Then, Yuki unexpectedly eyed me to clarify, “Only if that guy’s hot, okay?”
Yuka, with her legs spread apart, scoffed, “As if your stupid BL would happen in real life. Ha! That fu.cking banchou is well-known for being quite the womanizer.”
“No, no!” Yuki corrected her. “He just hasn’t met the right one yet. Our Hayato is perfect! Ah! I approve! I approve!”
“Now, now,” my mother came in with the last dish of the night, “let’s not get carried away here. Hayato, did you do something to offend that senpai of yours?”
“Ugh . . . I don’t think so?” I scratched the back of my head as I walked to the kitchen to find the needed cutlery. 
“Mm . . . you must have done something to enrage him,” I heard my mother say.
While grabbing the chopsticks and spoons, I heard Yuko proclaim, “I still think Hayato has a little admirer. I mean, why was Reo senpai’s sister even there?”
Shit. I was stupid enough to include that Ichijo-san was there during my kidnapping and that she had lured me to that classroom. I knew I should have left her out of the story completely. Still, I was never a very good liar.
“No. No,” Yuka stated while I passed the chopsticks along the table. “Impossible. Reo senpai is the banchou, so he’d have full control of the situation. Why would he even listen to that little sister of his huh?”
“Maybe, he’s a good brother.” Yuko picked up one of the chopsticks.
“No . . . mm . . .”
“Or maybe he just really fell for Hayato,” Yuki snickered before winking at me.
Once everyone had their chopsticks and said the familiar saying, we began to eat. During that time, my mother surprisingly uttered, “Whatever happens Hayato. Don’t worry. Mother will always support you in the end.”
“Mom . . .” I told her firmly.
“Yes, Hayato darling?”
“I’m not gay,” I publicized clearly and loudly.
“Oh . . . well, I thought Yuki might have had the best argument,” my mother mumbled quietly.
“Ha!” Yuki cackled, pointing her chopsticks towards Yuka. “Told you guys that I had the best guess!”
“Whatever,” Yuka grunted. “I’m going to beat that fu.cking banchou’s ass badly. I’ve been meaning to challenge him anyways. Perfect timing.”
Yuko took a sip of water prior to answering, “I still think someone has a crush on Hayato.”
“Mm . . .” Yuki scratched her beardless chin. She always had this awful habit of stroking her chin like an old man with a beard as long as Confucius’. I wish she’d have a sex change just so she can actually have a beard. She always acted like a perverted otaku anyways. She kind of looked like one too with her round glasses, two long braids and freckles along her nose. Plus, her eyes had this intensive, horny stare. Oh God. I was thankful that the people she truly loved were all fictional because they were the ones that had to stand her lustful gazes. 
Moreover, she’d have posters of her favourite manga characters all over her room and have long pillows of anime characters. I was pretty sure she secretly downloaded a lot of hentai games and porn. I once found her secret stash of hentai games. She tried to hide them under her university textbooks. I had to borrow one of them to do her assignment. That lazy bit.ch. Luckily, she paid me for my services or else there’d be no deal between us two. Yuki and I always made business transactions like that. Yuki would give me something and in return, I’d do her some favour.
“Whatcha thinkin’ bout, aneki?” Yuka pondered.
“Let’s have a bet,” Yuki declared all too suddenly.
“A bet? Tell me more,” Yuko uttered. Yuko had this competitive streak, and that was why she always strived to be ranked the number one model in teen magazines. No matter what happened, she would do whatever it takes to win. She was the type that would even have sex with some stranger if that would increase her chances of winning. To be honest, I thought Yuko liked the competition more so than the actual prize. She liked playing games and manipulating people, especially men. She always liked to tell me that sex appeal was the greatest weapon God ever gave to women. I wasn’t sure if I agreed. I’d personally go for innocent souls, not tainted ones like Yuko’s. 
“What do you wager?” Yuka asked, sitting with one knee bent like a worn out worker. My mother had to cough for Yuka to remember to place both of her feet on the ground. 
Yuki wiped her mouth after taking a drink of orange juice like an overworked executive. “Whoever wins will get to ask the losers to do anything, and the losers will have to agree,” she announced with her hand gripping the edge of the glass cup.
“Anything?” Yuka’s eyes widened along with her mouth.
“Then, if I win, onee-chan, you have to introduce your boyfriend’s best friend to me,” Yuko stated. “And Yuka has to go beat up these three models for me. They’re being too arrogant these days.”
“Sure,” Yuka and Yuki agreed in unison. 
“If I win, then, Yuko has to introduce the voice actor of Lovely Romance to me. I heard he goes to your school! As for Yuka, you’ll owe me 100 dollars,” Yuki suggested.
“Okay!” Yuka hollered. “If I win, then aneki owes me 100 dollar worth of snacks and food, and Yuko needs to . . . participate in a fight with me.”
“No way! I’m not going to taint my reputation to join you.”
“That’s why it’d be hilarious if I won. Ha! Plus, I heard the banchou of Joshiba.”  
“So, what’s the bet?” my mother wondered. My mother, unlike the typical ones out there, liked the idea of chance. She liked seeing people compete more so than the actual outcome. She would never buy a lottery ticket or a horse racing bet, but I knew that she liked to watch those people participate in those games. She liked seeing people throw fits or scream out cheers. I supposed that was where all my sisters inherited their sadistic senses.  
“Oh,” Yuki clarified. “It’s to see who is right about Hayato’s situation.”
“Interesting,” my mother noted. “Then, how will you know the answer?”
“Hayato!” The three of them suddenly shrieked at me and stood up at once. All of their hands slammed against the edge of the dining table, rattling the dishes like an earthquake. 
“Y-y-y-yeah?” I almost choked on the rice that I was just about to gulp down my throat.
“You figure out the truth and report to us!” Yuki commanded.
“And . . . what if you are all wrong?” I blurted.
“Then . . . you . . . owe us a favour!” Yuki blabbed.
“What? That’s so unfair and unreasonable,” I argued. “If that’s the case, then I am not going to tell any of you the answer.”
“Oh. Stop being a pussy,” Yuka uttered. 
Yuko surprisingly defended me, “I do think Hayato has a point. Mm . . . how about this? Hayato will tell us the answer, and in return, we will burn up all the evidence we have of Hayato’s past as a girl.”
I coughed rather loudly. “I was never a girl to start with,” I muttered.
“Shut up! No one said you could talk, you cunt!” Yuka slammed her chopsticks onto the table.
“Yuka! Manners!” my mother reminded her once more.
“All right. All right,” she sighed while cracking her knuckles. Ugh . . . gross.
“So . . . what do you say, Hayato?” Yuki glimpsed at me, pushing her glasses up with her middle finger. 
“Everyone will throw away everything that has been used to blackmail me?”
The KiKaKo huddled together in the corner of the dining room. Then, after a minute of deliberating, they all settled in their seats and announced at the same time, “Yes. That is correct.”
“Deal then,” I agreed. What better chance was there for me to live well? I already knew the answer anyways. I just had to prove to them what was really happening later. I’d need to wait till Yuka beat the crap out of Ichijo-san’s brother. 
I took a gulp of green tea and felt that life was good. Life was . . . very good.
----
ou could imagine the faces of my classmates, especially Ichijo-san's fans, when she called for me at lunch. Right. I'm pretty sure I'm on their death list, but that's good. I can fight them off later when I get stronger. You see, I was not that worried about her fans. What I was worried about was just her. I had no idea what she has planned for me, but whatever it was, I knew it was not going to be good. The start of her asking me to lunch was just plain awful.
Ichijo-san tried to be secretive, but to be secretive, you have to be careful. Careful, Ichijo-san was not.
You see, Ichijo-san placed a poorly ripped sheet of paper, presumably from the back of some notebook of hers, right onto my desk . . . with a slam. I literally jumped up from my seat, and lucky for Ichijo-san, Watanabe-san covered for her by saying that there was some fly on my table. Right . . . a fly. There goes my rolling eyes.
Then, without a word, Ichijo-san shot me a vicious glare and then conspicuously bobbed her head to the right to signal for the door. Very discrete, indeed. I was starting to sense that she was an idiot of life. Let me clarify what I mean about that. Exhibit A: Yuki. Yuki is the classic example of an idiot of life. She has no common sense whatsoever. She doesn’t know when to push or pull a door. She can’t clean at all; even when she has tried her best organizing her belongings, she still fails as her room still resembles a pig’s pen. She gets lost way too easily. Throw her in the middle of a street, and she’ll end up going to a police station to claim that she has lost her parents. In fact, the police officers working at a station near my house all know her very well now because of her frequent visits. She only knows her way home after using that route so many times; a slight detour, though, will boggle her mind. I know you’d probably think that Yuki would ask some stranger for help; however, due to her idiotic common sense, she never does that. Plus, when she is panicking, she becomes even more pathetic and can’t think critically at all. 
As Ichijo-san walked away, I glanced down at the sheet of crumpled paper and attempted with all my might to decipher Ichijo-san’s scribbles. Other guys surrounded or hovered over me, wanting to figure out what Ichijo-san had written. Before I could say anything, I unexpectedly felt a painful grasp on my wrist. As I winced, I felt my body being dragged away by a little figure. Little figure? What? I blinked a few times and realized that the miniature person pulling me along was none other than Ichijo-san in a . . . disguise?
To be honest, I almost burst out laughing. Ichijo-san wore a pair of baggy jeans, an oversized t-shirt and jacket and this dirty blonde wig. She was supposed to be a guy, but it was clear that it was her. She didn’t even bother wearing sunglasses or tucking her hair completely into the wig.
Once we reached the rooftop, Ichijo-san closed the door behind us and slammed her fist into her palm. “All right,” Ichijo-san declared. “Time for business.” Now, this is where the real story begins. Ichijo-san marched to the centre and squatted like a gangster. She snapped her fingers, and immediately, Watanabe-san rushed towards her with a pack of cigarettes. As Ichijo-san receives the packet, she offered nonchalantly, "Want one?" I shook my head politely, causing Ichijo-san to scoff, "Suit yourself. Don't regret it when I'm enjoying it."
Feeling slightly guilty, I succumbed to evilness and agreed, "All right. All right. I'll give one a shot." One try shouldn't kill me right?  I can't live without telling my kids that I've never smoked. I should have a wild side some time too.
Ichijo-san nudged me in the arm with her sharp elbow, hollering like a 40-year-old drunken man: "Ha! That's the spirit!"
I took a gulp and watched Watanabe-san open up a lunch box and takeout a small carton of milk along with a glass cup. "What's that for?" I asked with much confusion. On TV or in films, no one ever smoked with milk? Is this a new underground trend?
"What?" Ichijo-san snickered and placed her wig beside her. "You don't even know what that is?"
"Milk?"
"Yeah!"
"But . . . why . . . would you--"
"Ichijo-san-hime, here you go," Watanabe-san interrupted me while handing Ichijo-san the half-filled glass of milk.
"Thank you, Kyoko. Now, stand guard at the door and make sure no one comes in. Got it?" Ichijo-san ordered before glancing at me. My stomach churned at this rate. There was probably something on my face, but I didn't want to touch it now because it'd be obvious that I was caring about this situation. I had to act cool. I had to act like I knew nothing. That was the safest thing to do, and that was why I just looked back at Ichijo-san out of courtesy. Out of the blue, I felt Ichijo-san smack the back of my head.
"Ouch!" I moaned.
"Grab it if you want it! Jesus!" Ichijo-san snapped at me, tossing the pack of cigarettes onto my lap.
Nervously, I lifted open the flap and then reached in for a piece. I was expecting to feel paper, but instead, it was a smooth, hard texture. I hed it up in the air and wondered aloud, "This is . . . chocolate?"
"Belgium dark chocolate in the shape of a cigarette," Ichijo-san corrected me.
"And why?" I grimaced at her.
"Because that's the Ichijo tradition. We eat dark chocolate cigarettes."
"How is that even a tradition?"
Ichijo-san crunched on her stick very loudly while explaining with her mouth wide open, "My great grandfather used to be addicted to smoking. His doctor warned him that if he continued to smoke, then he would die. My great grandmother decided that since he liked to eat chocolate, then every time he wanted to smoke, he'd have a dark chocolate cigarette instead."
"And therefore?"
"The next successor of the oyabun has to carry on this tradition."
"Eh? What? Wait . . . you're next in line for . . ."
"My father nominated me to be the head of the yakuza since I am the strongest of the family, but I don't want to!" Unexpectedly, Ichijo-san clung onto my collar, shaking my body back and forth. "I don't want to! I don't want to! Do you understand?"
"Y-y-y-y-y-ye-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s-s," I bleated.
"I just can't okay?" Ichijo-san continued to scream and rock me forward and backwards like a never tumbling daruma doll. "I have to be a housewife! Okay?"
"Y-y-y-y-y-y-y-ye-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s," I groaned, falling to my knees once Ichijo-san let go of me.
Chugging down her glass of milk in one go, she wiped her mouth with her hand and released an overdue battle cry: "Ah!" Really, she was beginning to convince me that she was a 40-year-old overworked man. At this rate, there was no way she was going to be  an elegant lady, let alone a housewife. Impulsively, she snatched the pack of chocolate cigarettes and raised one piece right in my line of vision. "Eat it!" she demanded forcefully.
"Eh?"
"I said," Ichijo-san repeats in an even deeper voice, "eat it!"
"But wh--"
Just as my lower jaw widened, Ichijo-san stuffed the stick in my mouth by grabbing onto my chin and thereby forcing me to chew. Once I started munching along, Ichijo-san relaxed and sat on the ground. Taking a glimpse at me, Ichijo-san questions, "Good?"
"Eh . . ."
"You don't like sweets?"
"Yeah."
“If you don’t like sweets, then why were you making chocolates on Valentine’s Day?” Ichijo-san eyed me questionably. During the first few seconds, I thought it was reasonable for her to ask this question, but soon enough, I realized that you didn't have to like sweets to make chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Sure, maybe girls were supposed to give chocolates to the ones they loved on that particular day, so that was weird of me to be the chocolate producer. However, Ichijo-san’s reasoning wasn’t valid, and if Yuka were here, she’d more than a hundred percent throw a punch at me and call me “anal”. Yuko would be the one to add that it was all because of my sun sign, Virgo. Yuka was and still is a firm believer of astrology. She bought books on astrology, so she could attract her male targets. She said it was very important to look at the Venus and Mars signs to determine what people were like in love and what styles they liked as well. Why did I know this? Well, Yuka hated all forms of studying, so she tossed her astrology books to me and expected me to explain everything. 
Within a minute, I corrected Ichijo-san, “You’re assuming too much. I don’t have to like sweets to make chocolate.”
“But what guy would make chocolates in the first place? Especially on that day?”
“Okay. Now you’re stereotyping gender roles.”
“But it’s true!”
“Then why are lots of chocolatiers males then? Or chefs?”
“Whatever! You’re such a girl! I don’t see how you can even be a guy.”
I muttered quietly, “And I don’t see how you can be a girl.”
Ichijo-san put on that boy wig again before bringing her knees to her chest. She suddenly became way too soundless and seems to be sulking. If I were a cool guy, I’d be able to tolerate silence and probably even enjoy it. Sadly, KiKaKo had given me a few adjectives to sum up my alleged personality: anal, sensitive and emotional. So, I took it that I was sensitive to be able to detect that Ichijo-san had been hurt before. Actually, it was way too obvious how Ichijo-san was feeling. She was like a walking billboard with some sort of slogan printed on her face to display her emotions. In this case, it was: "I'm sad because Hayato said something that reminded me of the past."
Being supposedly emotional, I ended up muttering, "Sorry for saying something like that."
As I anticipated, Ichijo-san pretended to be strong by blurting, "What? Why are you apologizing? You know the number one rule of being a true man is that you only apologize when it's really your fault!"
"Then . . . I take it back?" I scratched my head.
"No!" Ichijo-san shrieked. "You can't take back your words once you're committed to them! The number two rule of being a true man is to always stay true to your words!"
"O-o-okay? So I'll keep it?" Ichijo-san exhaled rather loudly, and so I reminded her, "Elegant ladies never breathe so loudly. You're not a horse for a reason."
"Okay. Okay. But real guys never nag."
"You're the one that wanted to be the perfect housewife, so you should listen to my advice," I told her.
Ichijo-san pouts her lips and rolls her eyes. "You're such a mom, you know that?" Ichijo-san grumbled.
"And you're like a middle aged man."
"Argh!" Ichijo-san instantly stood up in a fury. She snagged a Swiss army knife from the back pocket of her jeans and then clenched onto my hand.
"Wh-wh-wh-what are you d-d-d-doing?" I stuttered with a shiver. As I backed away, Ichijo-san leaned forward towards me. It looks as if she was pouncing on me, about to rip all of my internal organs apart.
"What?" She frowned at me, staring at me as if it's a matter of fact. "I'm not going to rape you or anything. Stupid," she remarks. "I just think we should make a pact."
"A pact?"
"Yeah like blood brothers."
"But you want to be an elegant girl . . ."
Ichijo-san yelled furiously, "I'm sacrificing myself for you! God damn it!"
Slice. Drip. There went my pinky bleeding more than usual. Now, here came my scream, "Ahh!"
"Oh wow. You are bleeding more than I ever imagined," Ichijo-san commented without a pinch of emotion. "I guess I cut too deep. Sorry about that. It's my first time cutting someone."
"It's your first time--"
I accidentally gawked at my own bleeding finger, and the world became very, very dark.
Reactions: