What can I say? I did offer to do anything after that whole
furo incident... and it's a lot less than some guys might have asked.
My first hunch was right about Suka-chan... I could trust him...
The problem is, he thinks he can trust me completely.
He wants me to be his princess. What am I going to do?
I take a deep breath. I have to stay in character here... now more than ever, for both our sakes. I will the colors to rise to my cheeks, and I turn away from his gaze. I can still feel his hands clasping mine. "Thank you for asking me, Suka-chan. I'm pretty busy with the drama class production, you know, but I will try... ugh!"
Anything else I could say is squeezed out of me by Suka-chan's gratitude. He gathers me up in a bear hug that's surprisingly strong, given his frame. I can hardly breathe, but at least it's mercifully short. "Thank you, Shun-chan! Now I can tell the guys I'll do it!" And he runs out of the room.
I drop onto my bed, stunned. And a little bit queasy, myself. Now I have to do it... Suka-chan's participation hinges on it. Maybe later I'll ask Tochizawa for a script. I hope it's a small part.
My own contemplations are disturbed by loud voices from the sempais' room. "THIS is what I've gotta wear? No way!"
"Put in on, Hasukawa, or we'll do it for you." Mitsuru-sempai sounds more weary than threatening. He's probably already made his own futile protests to Shinobu-sempai.
"I'm not getting in this school festival reject! And what's the idea of... a skirt?"
Tochizawa's voice chimes in. "This is FOR the school festival, what did you expect? Armani? And it's not a skirt, it's a one- piece tunic. It's the whole medieval bit. Come on, you promised."
There's more defiance from Suka-chan, until Shinobu-sempai decides that there's been enough. "I was hoping it wouldn't come to this..." I can hear scuffling feet, and all sorts of knocking about, accompanied by Suka-chan's protests.
"HEY! Not right HERE!?"
"You could have changed - oof! - in your room voluntarily, Hasukawa..."
"Yeah, didja - argh - HAVE to insist on doing this the hard way?"
"Damn, I didn't think you were this heavy, Suka..."
Clunk. "Ow! Watch it, guys!" In spite of myself, I find myself shaking my head and giggling.
"No-no-no! Don't rip the tunic!"
"Okay." And the scuffling stops. "Well, let's see what we've got here."
There's a hush next door for a moment. Then, it falls to Shinobu-sempai to deliver the final assessment. "Not bad... so, are we ready to start shooting, Tochizawa?"
Tochizawa makes a noise of affirmation. "Everyone we need for the opening scene should be arriving about..."
I hear the door as it bangs open, and a voice even more feminine than mine bursts out: "Kazuya-kun! Te kawaii!"
"...now," Tochizawa finishes unecessarily.
"S-Su-Sumire-chan?" At Suka-chanís stammered greeting, I sit bolt upright on my bed. SHEíS here?
"Dr. Hasukawa," Tochizawa greets Suka-chan's brother, "so good of you and your wife to help us out with the school festival production."
The doctor responds graciously. "Not at all; always a pleasure to help out my old dorm mates. And, as would so happen, my little brother, too..."
Suka-chan's response is considerably less gracious, and sounds like it's coming from between clenched teeth. "I thought I told you not to..."
Sumire-chan evidently steps in, resolving the standoff between the two brothers. "Kazuya-kun," she gushes, "it's so wonderful you got a part in this! You look so cute! You are going to do your best, aren't you?"
I can practically hear him melt. Then: "All right, guys... what are we waiting for? We've got a film to shoot!" and then, as an aside, as everyone clatters out of the sempais' room. "Sumire-chan... you have got to meet my new roommate..."
Uh-oh... I duck into the closet and close the door, squishing myself against the hangers. But the crowd barges past the room, and Suka-chan apparantly is too swept up in it all to bother poking his head in for the moment. I sigh in relief as I slip out.
For the next few days, I'm working on the drama class production almost full-time. Oyama-sensei praises my dedication, but he's got no clue of what I'm trying to avoid. Well, I guess the good news about this whole situation is what it's doing to my grades, then.
Turns out I'm not the only one who's busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. I walk into the bath late one afternoon to find Mitsuru-sempai slumped back so far that he's in danger of slipping underwater. I scrub myself down, and slip into the tub to join him.
"You look like hell, sempai."
"Yeah, well, I think I've just been through it. Shinobu and I have been posing all day for that manga artist. Tochizawa worked out a deal with her that she would lend us the costumes we needed for the film if we'd pose for her in them. Research, she said she was doing..."
That's right... I'd seen the poster on the sempai's door, advertising Devilwood. She must have drawn it for them. "Was it that hard?"
"Let me put it to you this way... ever try standing still, not moving, for fifty minutes at a stretch? It was like that all day! Not only that," and he sits up with a loud sloshing sound, ticking responsibilties off on his fingers, "it puts us a day behind schedule for the filming..."
"I thought Tochizawa figured that into his schedule."
"Yeah, but it means we have to do that many more scenes per day to get the thing finished in time for the festival. Then there's my studies; I've fallen a day behind on them. And then, I still have band practice and my athletic activities to deal with yet, too."
I chuckle sympathetically. "Boy, you sure spread yourself thin, sempai."
He slides back into the bath, looking at me with only half-open eyes. "Sometimes I envy you, Shun. All you've got is your drama."
Another mild chuckle. "'Everything in moderation,' that's my motto. Of course, how much moderation can there be when I'm doing it 24/7?"
"Oh, that." Now it's his turn to chuckle. "Hey, nobody said you had to bet on yourself to go this long. You could have taken the easy way out last Wednesday... at least you'd have been able to enjoy the party we would've thrown for Hasukawa."
It's enough to make me want to splash him. "So, you admit to setting me up last week... glad I skipped out on that tutoring session."
Refreshed and heading back to our respective room, Mitsuru-sempai and I are still chatting away, until... Suka-chan steps into the hall.
..and sees that both of us have just come from the bath.
..and puts two and two and two together and gets six.
Or am I using the right vowel here?
Suka-chan is pacing the room, furious at me. "TELL ME that nothing happened in the bath between you and Ikeda-sempai."
It occurs to me that I could get Suka-chan off my back if I suggested that something HAD happened... but Iíd still have to live with that - and him - for the next three years. Not an appealing prospect. "Nothing happened in the bath between me and Mitsuru-sempai."
He wheels on me. "Youíre lying!" Well, so much for that. I sit and think for a moment, ignoring Suka-chanís rantings. Then I stand up quickly, and lay a hand on his shoulder.
"Suka-chan... Iím trying to pass as a boy, remember? If I were always taking baths by myself, some folks would get suspicious. So every now and again, Iíll take a bath with one of the sempais, just to throw the others off. And you remember when you and Takeshi barged in on me... I was wearing a towel. Itís not like Iím giving anyone a free show. And as for the sempais, come on... they could have any girls around here they wanted. Itís not like Iím the prettiest or the smartest they could have. Besides, Iím more a little sister than a sex object... you could understand bathing with a little sister, couldnít you?"
"I donít have a little sister..."
I sigh. "You know what I mean, Suka-chan."
He seems almost mollified, but thereís one last question to field. He fixes me with a worried stare, and asks, tentatively, "Shun-chan? How do you... feel... about Mitsuru-sempai...?"
Best to play ignorant for the moment. "What do you mean, Suka-chan?"
"I mean," and heís starting to color a little, "if he asked if you and he could... ever... you know... would you...?"
I realize what heís implying, and fight my gorge down to where it could be confused with mild indignation. "No! What kind of... girl... do you take me for? Mitsuru-sempaiís really nice, and handsome, too, but I couldnít possibly..."
Suka-chan exhales heavily in relief.
It turns out the role of Princess Chelsea is so small I donít even have to worry about lines. All it consists of is wearing that white dress from drama class (how convenient!) and walking majestically down the red-carpeted stairs to meet my groom, the faithful squire Tino - Suka-chan. This, I could handle...
If it werenít for the wedding photo. Suka-chan and I had posed in the traditional manner, eyes front, gazing at the camera with rapturous eyes, and Tochizawa had taken our picture. But at soon as the flash had died down, Suka-chan swept me up in his arms and given me a passionate embrace before I knew what was happening. Most of the guys watching just gasped, a few were yelling encouragement to Suka-chan.
"All right, Hasukawa! You go, boy!"
"Woo hoo! Go for it, tiger!"
And while this was going on, Tochizawa took another picture.
And thatís the one theyíre using.
I stare at the photo album, aghast. Oh, Suka-chan looks dashing and romantic enough, in that white military uniform, holding that girl in his arms at a forty-five degree angle.
But she - or rather I - looks more than surprised. Thereís no small amount of fear in those wide-open eyes. Sheís in this one waaaay over her head.
Sumireís voice breaks into my thoughts, concluding her narration for the film. "And so they lived happily ever after..."
Happily ever after... my ass.
Disclaimer: Koko wa Greenwood is the creation of Yukie Nasu, and all characters and situations therein are the property of her and Hakusensha Inc., Victor Entertainment, and the Pierrot Project. No infringement is intended.