I can't ignore his girth.
I wish you guys would add me on Steam and bitch at me when I'm playing GTA4 and Binding of Isaac instead of reading. I have the shortest attention span ever. D:
Oh, before we start, something cool. Thighs is a fucking bro and drew me a thing for Part 3
. It's awesome and you guys should go tell him how awesome he is. Right now.
EDIT: This chapter has been rewritten as of July 26th, and should be re-read. Tildes (~) represent a shift in perspective.
Part 5 – On the Frontlines
July 20th, 2008. 1800 hours.
I stretch as we sit on the bus, the lumbering machine slowly making its way to the local carnival. I am still wary about the place; never been there before. Worried about what threats it poses. The way Yuuko described it to me, it sounds like an interesting place. Lights, sounds, food and games... I'm not much one for relaxing, but it sounds nice.
I must admit; this is all still a strange concept to me. After the events of last year, I still have trouble seeing her as a woman and not a feminist. Mind you, I've pondered the situation heavily; discussed it internally over many a whiskey-filled glass. She seems harmless enough, but as my father always said, “fear the quiet ones”. That's why that Ikezawa girl scares me. You never know what's going on in their head.
I don't see Yuuko as a threat, though. It's odd for someone like me to let my guard down, but she's just... She's Yuuko. She doesn't seem like she's ever meant me, or any other man, harm. Even after that horrible night, I don't think I really ever thought of her her as a feminist agent.
I guess the big question is, do I actually care about her? I mull it over for a while and come to a conclusion: there's gotta be a reason I wear this silly scarf everywhere, right? I definitely still care about her. That much is clear. I just need to decide if I'm willing to put myself out there for her and run the risk of her stabbing me in the back.
Maybe I'm making a mistake letting my guard down, but maybe it's a mistake worth making. Besides, I'm impervious to her feminine wiles. Worse comes to worse, I can always escape like I did before.
There are more important things to do, after all. For instance, I should catch her up on current events. Maybe I can get her to help us if I can explain to her how much of a threat the evil feminist forces are.
After what seems like an eternity, we finally arrive at our destination: the carnival. Nothing fancy; just some old rides and a few game booths. Kenji and I walk around for a bit, looking at the different games and booths, playing a few games and just having a good time.
Come to think of it, I think this is the first time I've seen Kenji really relax since he left. It's refreshing to see him actually enjoying himself as we make smalltalk, strolling around the small park and enjoying the atmosphere.
After a while, we grab some food and sit down for a rest, eating and talking up a storm, making up for lost time. Our conversation is short-lived however, as a small brown-haired boy makes his way to our bench, calling Kenji's name.
“Oh, shit, Takashi. What's up?”
Oh, shit. Takashi.
Well, this changes things. One of my many Brothers in Arms, Takashi Maeda has been a faithful and strong ally to our battle for a while now. This... this could end badly. See, Takashi doesn't know about Yuuko and I. For good reason. The leader of the anti-feminist movement cavorting with a woman? It'd be scandalous at best, and completely undermine my authority at worst.
I apologize to Yuuko and bolt up to intercept him, all the while thinking about what I'll say to him. “What's up, bro? What brings you out this far?”
“What's up? I'll tell you what's up! Why are you 'fraternizing with the enemy', Kenji? I thought you were hardcore against the ladies, man.” Takashi ribs me with his elbow playfully and gives me a shit-eating grin; the kind you'd expect to see a feminist flash you before the death squads descended on you from above, rappelling down from the rafters to take you prisoner and haul you off to th-
“Oi, Kenji. Wake up.” Takashi swats me across the head lightly, knocking me out of my imaginative and well-written daydream sequence. I look at him and rub my head lightly. I rebound, quickly formulating a decent excuse for spending time with a woman.
“Sorry, man. Just thinkin'. I used to know her, yeah? And we had some shit go down a while back. She's not a Feminist, or at least I don't think she is, man. Plus, I figure she'd be useful in the upcoming Upheaval. Might be able to get us some intel.” A terrible lie. I feel kinda bad, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do...
“Dude, Yuuko couldn't infiltrate her way out of a wet paper bag. Well, if you think she'll be useful, I guess that's good enough for me. Hell, I'm kinda glad to see you spending some time with a woman that's not trying to kill you. They're not all evil, y'know.” He winks at me and pats me on the shoulder. “Go get her, tiger.”
That went well.
Kenji walks over and talks to him, and while I can't make out the full conversation, I distinctly recognize a few words: “Woman”, “Feminist”, “Upheaval”, and so on. I mean, I know this whole movement is important to him, but he doesn't even bother introducing me to this Takashi guy...
Finally, after a couple of minutes, their conversation ends and Kenji makes his way back to me, apologizing for leaving for so long. I forgive him and keep eating, thinking back to how things were before. Why is he so distant? Why does he insist on going on about this conspiracy theory of his constantly instead of letting me talk about myself? He's changed; that's for sure. I wonder about getting him to open up as we make our way through the carnival, settling on a small roller-coaster ride for the time being.
After a few goes on the ride, we step off and take a walk around again, checking out some of the games. I don't win any (No surprise; I'm not too good at the things), but somehow, Kenji actually manages to win me a large stuffed bear, which I'm now stuck carrying around the carnival. Not that I don't appreciate it. Heck, if anything, I'm surprised. I might have to ask him how he did that some time.
You might be wondering, “How in the hell did a half-blind kid with glasses thicker than Hisao 'Master of Romance' Nakai manage to win at the infamous Milk Bottle game?”.
Answer? I'm just good like that.
Yuuko points this booth out to me and mentions this big brown bear she thinks is cute. Silly thing, really. Damn doll looks like it was stitched together by a kid in a sweatshop. But hell, if it makes her happy, why not? I step up and throw a 1000 yen note down on the table.
It's go time, motherfucker.
I get 10 balls. 10 tries to not fuck this up. I know where the bottles are, and I know where the top of the top bottle is. Kind of. Just gotta hit it, right?
First throw. Swing and a miss. I repeat this a couple of times until I finally hear a “Clink”. “Close one, buddy.”
Son of a bitch. Fifth and sixth ones whiff it, and seventh one finally connects, one of the bottles coming down. He resets it and I aim a bit lower, aiming for the middle of the stack, or at least where I think it is.
Miss. I think that one actually almost hit the guy. Damn it.
Alright. Crunch time, right? There's this movie I saw ages ago where one of the guys told his bowling buddy to imagine the pins were someone he hated. I can't exactly see the “pins”, but it's worth a shot, right?
I thought for a second about who I'd imagine. I only had two shots left, so I had to make this count. Just then, it came to me. The kingpin. The leader of the whole damn movement to turn that school into a hive of Feminist scum and villainy.
That fucking pink-haired girl.
I imagine that idiot laugh she has, that damn “Wahaha~” thing she does, and hurl the ball dead center, toppling all the bottles at once.
You should've seen the look on that asshole's face. Kinda wish I had, too.
No, I appreciate it all right. It was sweet of him, really. I just don't know why I'm stuck lugging the thing around now. You'd think he'd be the gentleman, but I guess not. I wonder if he's really that interested in me, honestly... He DID apologize kind of quickly back there at the park. Maybe... Maybe he's just doing this for my sake...?
I shake the thought from my head for the time being and continue on with him, taking his hand in mine as he continues to prattle on about his theories. I know they're important to him, but some times I just want to tell him to shut up and enjoy what time we have together...
Yeah, right. Like that'd ever happen.
We continue our walk for another hour or so until, having finally exhausted the other possibilities, we come to the ferris wheel. It's worth noting at this point that I am pretty well terrified of heights. I'm not sure why. I just am. Kenji seems to want to do it, though, so why not?
After what feels like the longest line of my life, we finally arrive at the front, ready to board the gondola. I climb in behind Kenji and take a seat, gripping on to the bars next to me for dear life. Enclosed or not, I don't want anything to do with this. At all.
The wheel lurches, making my heart skip a beat as we slowly ascend, the ground falling out from under us far too fast and yet far too slow. As we ascend, I keep my eyes firmly fixated on Kenji, trying my best not to look down or outside at the scenery around us.
The gondola lurches slightly as the wheel stops for a moment. Despite the look of terror on my face, Kenji starts on about how the government is being subverted by the Feminist movement and how his masculinity is in danger and oh God, I don't think I can take much more of this...
The wheel starts up again, and as we ascend I try my best to block out Kenji's inane ramblings, only serving to stress myself out even more in the process. We finally reach the top of the wheel and, predictably, stop.
Don't look down.
Don't look down.
Don't look down.
As if something out of a bad movie, I reflexively look down anyway, seeing the swaying ground beneath me and feeling my dinner churn in my stomach.
“Yuuko, you alright? You're being kinda quiet.” Kenji finally notices my predicament, and, composing myself, I reply with a short “Y-yes. I think I'm fine”.
“Okay then. So, as I was saying...”
That's it. I can't take both of these at once, and I can at least do something about him.
“K-Kenji... C-can you please b-be quiet? I... I don't do well with heights, and...”
Kenji finally stops, looking at me through those insanely thick soda-bottle glasses of his. I look at him as his slight smile turns sour quickly, looking concerned for me for the first time since he apologized to me.
I did the only thing I could think to do. I stood up, somehow ignoring the swaying of the gondola as I leaned forward and placed a hand on his cheek, bringing his face to mine and kissing him deeply.
I stayed there for a moment as we shared our first silent moment since I met him at my apartment, his shocked countenance quickly relaxing, his arm wrapping around my shoulders and holding me there for a good minute or so.
I sat down next to him, catching my breath and resting my head on his shoulder, enjoying the silence for what felt like an eternity.
“Kenji, I know this whole conspiracy thing is important to you, but... Well, I'm... I'm kinda w-worried that you're not enjoying yourself, y'know? It's just... You're not here just for my sake, right?”
Kenji looked at me, somewhat sad... almost shocked, I'd think. “See, I've actually thought about that a bit. I wondered that myself a few times already.”
“The way I see it, I'm the leader of the anti-feminist rebellion. By all logic, I shouldn't even be here right now. I should be avoiding women like the plague, either because of my position or because you might drug me, toss me in the back of your car, and take me to a holding camp to be processed as a prisoner of war. If I didn't care about you, I doubt I'd be willing to take a risk like that.”
That... that actually makes perfect sense, in a really strange way.
I lay back next to him and relax, getting comfortable as the ride slowly descends to the ground. For the first time all night, I finally relax, closing my eyes and enjoying his company, and the silence, for the time being.
I don't know why, but I feel much better.
Art: Facing your Fears by Drawbro