Finally! A morning class I can actually concentrate on! The big
announcement in drama class is about the roles for the semester's
production. We're performing one of the classics this year:
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. Actually, this show is more
for the stagecraft class, as the challenge of all these vertical
sets would pose an insurmountable problem for a regular stage.
But with a little ingenuity, you can get around anything; we'll
be putting the show on in one of the racquetball courts, lying
flat on the floor to simulate standing. Now that I think about it,
that's going to take a bit of acting, too.
To no-one's surprise, I have drawn the role of Clarisse, your traditional damsel-in-distress. It was such a foregone conclusion that I'd land the role that the guys working on costuming had already taken my measurements a week ago, and today have presented me with her dress, a beautiful white gown. It's a gorgeous thing, not quite bridal, but certainly fancy-dress ball calibre.
An idea pops into my head, and I ask if I may take it back to the dorm to try it on. It's agreed, with the stipulation that I wear it to the first rehearsals starting on Monday. Fine.
When I return home, the dorm is bustling with activity. It turns out the dorms are doing their annual amateur film festival, and Greenwood's entry is already underway. Something involving swords and sorcery, evidently. Tochizawa's directing it, and he's already got a shooting schedule hanging up in the lobby. Look's like Suka-chan's gotten drafted for a part... wonder if he knows about this.
Time to think about that later. I head to my room, shuck off my uniform, and wriggle into the dress. It fits like a charm, although I'm clearly going to need to pad the chest out a bit in order to be convincing. I loosen the top, and shrug the dress off my shoulders enough so that I can put a bra on underneath (Yes, I have a few pairs of 'training' bras... what of it?). Once that's taken care of, I rebutton the dress, and take another look at myself. Hm... looks like I'll need to put on the slip, too - can't have the stage lights showing my silhouette from the waist down after all.
As I put the slip on, a shadow falls across the frosted window of the dorm room. Here comes the true test... I take a deep breath as the knob turns.
"Okaeri nasai!" And once again, it's a direct hit. His briefcase falls to the floor with a thud, and he drops to his knees, clutching his stomach. Now I'm starting to wonder if he's putting me on.
I don't know if it's part of the 'cute' act or from genuine corncern for his welfare, but I rush over to help him up. "Suka-chan? Are you all right?" I help him to his feet.
"I... I'll be fine, Shun," he says, but I'm still not sure about it. Not only did he just look rather sick, he's looking at me with eyes full of sadness. "Wha... where did you get that dress? You look... beautiful," he trails off wistfully.
For now, I'll let it pass. He said he was fine, so I'm not going to push it. I smile and twirl around to show off for him. "You like it? The guys in costuming made it up for me. I've got the female lead in my drama class production, and this is my costume."
He chuckles weakly. "Ironic, huh? What they don't know... well, it really looks good on you, Shun... chan."
He called me 'Shun-chan!' He likes me! He really likes me! I beam at him. "You're so sweet, Suka-chan."
I turn around and start to unbutton the dress. I can hear him stutter as it falls to the floor, leaving me in the bra and slip. With my back still toward him, I open my closet and take out a robe. I've decided that the direct approach might be better, rather than trying to simply slink off when no one's around (when does that happen, after all?) "Uh, sorry about that, Suka-chan. I'm going to go take a bath..."
"...and you want me to guard the door? But it's lunchtime, Shun..." Now that I've got my robe on, I turn around to face him. He doesn't look happy about the arrangement, and I let him off the hook.
"No, that's all right, Suka-chan. You go on. As a matter of fact, that's why I'm going now... less chance of bumping into someone there when they'd rather be in the dining hall." I shrug. "It's inconvenient, but you have to put up with these things when you're trying to pass..."
Suka-chan smiles and nods in understanding. "Okay, then. I'll be at lunch, if you need me," and he pivots out the door.
"Right. Hope your stomach settles enough for it." That causes him to stop in his tracks. I can tell he's considering whether to head back to me and ask me what I meant by that, or just go on to lunch. His stomach, now apparantly better, wins, and he continues on his way.
The hall is empty now, and I pad off in the opposite direction, toward the furo.
I scrub myself down furiously. It's been five days, after all, since I've managed to take a bath. It's hard to figure out how to do this and get around this whole deal of hiding my true gender from poor Suka-chan. I can imagine all sorts of possible mishaps that could come from trying to bathe under these circumstances. Thank heavens Suka-chan seems quite respectful of me and my situation. It almost makes me wish I was girl, sometimes -- at least that way, all the effort he puts out to shield me from one thing or another wouldn't have been wasted.
I fill my bucket with rinsewater and dump it over my head before starting in on another good lather. Those looks he's given me... why was he so sad? And what's with his stomach? I recall that the reason he missed so much class had something to do with an ulcer... hadn't that been operated on, and removed? Was it still bothering him?
The second rinse hits me with a flash of insight... could I be part of the problem? I shake my head vigourously, and water sprays from my hair. I do NOT want to believe that. I crawl over to the tub, and slip into the warm and comforting waters. All such distressing thoughts are put aside, and my mind slowly unwinds and goes blank. As it does, it leaves me with the humorous reminder that I had considered taking my baths after curfew. Kami... I just know I'd've fallen asleep in here.
I'm so far gone, I almost miss the sound of voices in the dressing room.
"I told you, I'm not going in there! SHE's in there, taking a bath!" Oh my gosh! That's Suka-chan! I scramble out of the bath, and grab for a nearby towel. I hurriedly wrap it around me at chest height.
"And I'M telling YOU that she isn't!" Takeshi! Why, that dirty...!
I don't get to finish that thought, as the door bursts open and Takeshi charges in, with Suka-chan pulling on his arm. That's my cue to scream.
"Will you CUT THAT OUT, you stupid little...!" Takeshi is reaching for my towel, and I'm backing away from him as fast as possible, still holding my hand over my chest. He doesn't get the chance to finish his thought either. Between the wet floor and Suka-chan's punch, Takeshi doesn't stand a chance. He hits the floor hard, and is out like a light.
Suka-chan and I stare at each other for a long moment, each of us panting from the exertion. Then Suka-chan turns toward Takeshi's prone form -- is this a way for him to keep from undressing me with his own eyes? -- and mutters awkwardly, "Ah... I guess I'd better get him out of here."
I nod. "Yeah, guess so...
I do my best 'big-eyes' look at him. "Thank you." It's part act, and part heartfelt. This could have caused a lot of problems if it had happened this way.
"Yeah, whatever. You get back to your bath, okay?" He almost grins. "After all that running around, you might need another one. Lunch was good, too." As he drags the unconscious Takeshi out of the furo, through the dressing room, and into the hallway, I let the towel drop, and I stare at my male form guiltily.
I walk back to the faucet and my bucket, and start scrubbing myself down again.
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.