After walking out of art class, I wasn’t exactly in the greatest mood. Ritsu was looking into Akihiko for me so I didn’t really have to worry too much about that, but that didn’t mean that his little episode hadn’t put me in a foul mood. I just wanted to eat my food and then finish the rest of my classes before heading home and throwing some paint on a canvas.
Like just taking a bucket of paint and splashing it all over the canvas. I meant that literally.
(Let’s ignore the fact that this was all to cover up the fact that I had a major hunger for blood. There was just this ache on the back of my tongue, but I refused to be a vampire wanna-be and lick my knife after a kill.
Firstly, Nagisa would never let me live it down and neither would any of the others from Class E. Secondly, although I heal fast, I don’t want to cut my tongue on accident by getting a little too over eager. Have you ever cut your tongue? It’s legitimately the worst thing I’ve ever done. I was an absolute baby about it and Terasaka had harassed me about it for months before the idiot cut his own tongue and realized that it was the worst.
Thirdly, blood is unsanitary as all hell. I doubt that I’d be able to get any disease from it due to biological incompatibility, but I wasn’t about to take that chance so no blood licking for me. It’s not the worst taste in the world, but who wants to contract HIV by being a dumbass?)
That’s of course when the universe decides to shove an extra little ‘fuck you’ my way and my lunch was disturbed. Again.
Nagisa and Kayano were both signed out of classes for the next couple of days for a joint mission, so I was content to just sit at a corner table in the cafeteria and eat my packed bento. The lunches here at Ouran were very lavish, but with my weird ass taste buds, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to subject my stomach to everyday. After the first week I had discovered that the rich food just wasn’t for me, so I began cooking for myself again. It was nice to get back into a routine even if it wasn’t the safest thing for me to do.
Lunch started out fine. Those who were in my art class hadn’t bothered me since walking out of class and they mostly kept their heads down, seemingly pretending that nothing had happened at all. Every now and then one would look over at me out of the corner of their eyes, but that wasn’t exactly new, and they weren’t even the only ones, so I let it slide. I was pretty invested in my small bento and honestly couldn’t be bothered to try and tell any of them off.
For the ones who actually wanted my attention, it was a turn off, and they returned to their own lives. That obviously didn’t include at least one person in this school, and not even hallway through lunch, my meal was disturbed by someone sitting down across from me and pulling my bento towards them.
I looked up to glare at them, expecting to see Kyoya or one of the other members of the Host Club. Nope. It was none other than my ‘arch nemesis’ (Isogai’s words, not mine); motherfucking Asano Gakushuu. Just the guy I wanted to see – honest. Here he was, the teen that had insulted my existence upon merely entering ‘his’ school. For some reason he found it necessary to speak with me right now?
I look up to meet his own uniquely coloured eyes – fucking violet, how pretentious – with a glare to match the intensity of his condescending stare. If he wanted to play this game then I was not going to be happy about it. Here I was, minding my own business and kindly not fucking with him, like, at all, when he decides to disturb the peace and sit across from me. How funny. “Hello, Asano. What the fuck do you want?” I ask, biting the bullet and snatching my lunch back from him so that I could scowl into it and shove another ball of rice into my mouth, making a point to flash my teeth at him.
To my utter disappointment, he looked wholly unperturbed. Damn.
“Well, Akabane, I’m here to find out if the rumours are true. You can’t really be a fag,” Asano sneered, rolling his eyes and leaning forwards as if to imply comradery, “I know you had a fondness for that dark-haired scientist in the failure of a class you were in.” He spoke as if he were trying to do me a favour by ‘clearing my name’ to the school’s populous.
“It’s called friendship, dipshit. You might want to give it a try.” I sneer, straightening my spine and narrowing my eyes even further at him. He responded by leaning delicately on his wrist and plastering a smug look on his face. Ugh, how I hate that face.
He raised an eyebrow at me for a moment before a smirk slowly slid across his face. “Friendship? Now isn’t that curious. I didn’t think a failure like you would even know of such a thing. Isn’t that too… sophisticated for a monster like you?”
That condescending fuck.
“Sure. However I, unlike you, actually have some friends.” I sneer right back, pointedly continuing to eat while I stared him down. I wasn’t uncivilized, so I didn’t speak while my mouth was full, but he didn’t do the uncivilized thing either by interrupting me until it was clear that my point was finished. Ugh, I almost hate arguing with intelligent bigoted people more than stupid bigoted people. Almost. “And you’re going to call me a monster. What ever gave you that idea?”
His eyes practically lit up with glee at that last statement and I could tell that he was eager to respond. “Now don’t be like that, Akabane. I have plenty of friends! Look around you,” he gestures elegantly to all the people in the cafeteria, most, if not all, now watching us with enraptured gazes. Fucking fuck.
“As for what gave me the idea that you’re a monster…” Asano continued, grinning with malice as everyone tuned in just a little more blatantly. “Well your behaviour back at Kunugikoaka is more than enough to give me that impression. Tell me, how many months was that boy hospitalized after you were suspended for attacking him?”
So he was going to go there then. Interesting.
“You know perfectly well that I only broke his arm, Asano. He didn’t even press charges.” I grumble, finishing with my bento and putting it away in my bag without much hassle. I was done with hiding behind my damn food to try and avoid conflict. He’s dredging up shit that happened legitimately years ago. Now I am possibly the biggest hypocrite here because I love to bring up shit that happened years ago just to throw it back in people’s faces but when it was lies I get pissed.
Asano sneered, “right, it was the teacher that you really attacked.”
It was really hard to resist the urge to say ‘fuck you’. Really hard.
“And that’s just one incident,” Asano’s voice was so falsely sweet and carried through the now silent cafeteria. Great, now literally everyone was aware. I mean, it wasn’t the worst thing that has ever happened. Everyone already knew that I had a short temper, and now I suppose it was just obvious that it wasn’t something new. Charismatic cool guy? That’s out the window. I’m going full asshole now – screw trying to be ‘nice’.
(Let’s just pretend that that ship hasn’t sailed a while ago…)
“Does beating up pieces of scum make you a monster?” I wonder aloud, meeting his eyes with my own calculating look. “The only reason that I even had to step in was because the teachers wouldn’t do their jobs. You can’t fault me for that…”
Asano wrinkled his nose delicately. “We both know that you’re a monster – you wouldn’t have killed all those people back at True Cross if you weren’t.” he sneered, clearly believing the rumour that the Cram Class was basically child soldier recruiting. (The irony in him thinking that it was True Cross that made me an assassin was not lost on me.)
“Whether or not you believe I’m a murderer isn’t why you’re here.” I point out.
He sighs heavily and leans back slightly, folding his arms across the cafeteria table with mock exasperation. “I suppose you’re right for once. Even a broken clock can be right two times a day.” He sighed again, “so, are you gay?”
After going through this already, I just decided to bite the bullet and push forwards. It wasn’t like I was ashamed of who I was, it’s just that life was about to become much more annoying much faster.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but yeah. I’m gay.”
The look of shear disgust on Asano’s face, I could practically smell the pheromones that he was releasing. It was palpable. From the looks of the people around us, they could tell too.
“You know, there was a time where I actually almost respected you. What a disappointment.”
And then he stood up and just walked away, his heels clicking against the polished tile floor.
Disaster after disaster; my day was effectively ruined. I have absolutely no hope for the Host Club session making this day any better, and I’m sure that even though we’ve fallen pretty low, it’s only downhill from here. There’s no saving this day. Too many fucking asshats have royally pissed me off and not even snuggling the cat that had decided to take up residency at Isogai and Maehara’s place would make this better. Fuck.
This day cannot end soon enough.
My foul mood wasn’t improved in the slightest upon walking into the club room and finding everything set up for what looked to be an English tea party. There were couches set up around the room with small Lolita like tables set up in the middle of the cluster of seating. The couches themselves were plush and pastel coloured, fitting the theme that the club room seemed to be going for. There was delicate china sitting on top of the table and small hot plates to boil water for tea. With a small range of tea leaves and empty bags sitting around the plate, I was lead to believe that todays event would be much more of a headache than previously suspected.
Don’t get me wrong, I like tea as much as the next person, but with all the different herbs sitting in little white dishes, I just knew that I was going to end the hour with one hell of a headache. My nose is super sensitive, and some of the fruitier smelling teas always made it burn. Not to mention that with all of the natural herbs, there were plenty that had medicinal qualities that people just liked to make into normal tea. With their unique aromas and tastes, I’ve seen plenty of people drink things just because it was available.
There’s also plenty of normal teas that people use as natural remedies. Of course, with the wide variety that was presented on the tables, there was almost guaranteed to be something that messed with my system in some way, whether it be through simple allergy or something that just didn’t sit well with a demon’s immune system.
Looks like I’ll be making my own tea. Fan-fucking-tastic. Just what I wanted to be doing today.
I stalked my way through the mostly empty room until I reached what looked to be a small kitchenette (why on earth was there a kitchenette in an old music room???) where I proceeded to dump my bag on the ground and moved towards the large metal sink. We’d been handling some dirt while repotting some basic house/cooking herbs for my botany class and I hadn’t had the time to thoroughly wash my hands like I’d wanted to.
I quickly removed my blazer and draped it across my bag before rolling up the sleeves of my dress shirt and scrubbing every inch of my forearms and hands. I’m not one to shy away from dirt, but the gritty feeling n my skin that gets left behind by the combination of soap residue and left-over dirt wasn’t something that I liked to deal with for any length of time. It was a simple manner of scrubbing aggressively for a bit, but soon enough I couldn’t feel it anymore and things were fine.
I could hear the others hosts yelling at each other as they messed around with the room and the overall set up. Drying my arms off with a hand towel, I move over and fold my blazer so that I can put it away in my bag. It was typical host protocol to wear the full school uniform on days like today, but fuck that. I’m the ‘gay’ host with a side of being the ‘bad boy – new guy’ à la JD from Heathers, so I highly doubt that any of the girls will complain upon seeing how I choose to present myself. Besides, I’ve never been one for wearing a school uniform properly. It just wasn’t my style at all.
In a fit of rebelliousness, I removed my tie too (wow what a rebel, right? I’m so bad…) and shoved that in the bag too. Undoing a couple buttons completed the look. I’d shown up to school today knowing that I’d have to host, so I went a little out of my way to look the part that I was to play.
No, I did not decide to go flamin’ gay. I went more with the JD vibe that I’d been carefully (ha) crafting. I didn’t bother with the metal armbands because there wouldn’t be anyone here who would understand the significance of them that I didn’t want to. I was only showing the lower half of my arms, so I didn’t really need to worry about the Trickster symbol or the summoner tattoo that I wore. It just showed the paladin symbol amongst roses and the little words across my wrist. I could’ve always covered them up with make up, but that took too much effort and had little to no pay off.
People knew I had tattoos, it wasn’t like it would be a surprise.
I had filled in all of my piercings too, putting in various crosses and loops through my ears and sweeping my hair a little bit more so that it was more windswept than bedhead. Just to add a little more flare – because if nothing else, I am one hell of a drama queen – by putting on some eyeliner. Well, a little more eyeliner than usual. My eyes were fucking great and everyone was gonna know. If I’m going to be whored out to the school I’m going to look hot, dammit.
Upon walking out of the kitchen with my bag lazily slung over my shoulder, I was met with the stares of the Host Club. Kyoya didn’t even bat an eye, and Haruhi was quick to recover and continue doing whatever she was doing. The Hitachin twins just sort of gaped for a moment while Tamaki full on began monologuing in the corner of the room. Haruhi proceeded to throw a book at his head, and he was quickly at my side like an overly excited puppy.
“What are you wearing???” He demanded, pulling at my arm and spinning me around with bug eyes. “Put your blazer back on! We can’t have people seeing your tattoos! And are those piercings?” He damn near shrieked as he stared at me like he’d never seen my body modifications before.
Haruhi must have thought that he was just as much of an idiot as I did because she whirled around and immediately began snapping at her boyfriend. “Sempai! He’s had those the entire time, you just like to pretend that you don’t know. Also, weren’t you the one that agreed that he should be a ‘bad boy’ type after he flat out told you two days ago that being called the ‘gay’ one was insulting?” Haruhi helpfully pointed out.
Tamaki immediately pouted, but he didn’t deny it. “But Haruhiiiiiii,” he whined, “he can’t wear his uniform like that! None of the rest of us are.”
I mean, fair point, but still.
“I’m the ‘bad boy’, it’s perfectly in character for me to not wear the uniform properly. The only reason that I don’t do that regularly is because it was one of your father’s conditions after he found out about my tattoos.” I helpfully add only making Tamaki’s pout worse. But like the bipolar idiot that he is, he immediately snaps out of it and proceeds to excitedly drag me over to what I would assume to be ‘my’ table.
He shoved me down onto the couch and I dumped my bag down by my feet so that it wouldn’t get in the way while the blond danced around the furniture. “I’m sure you can figure out what to do concerning the tea here, but you’ll be happy to know that there was plenty of girls who requested your time today! We decided to start out small and give you 5 clients for your first hour.” I damn near face faulted at that statement. Fucking really? 5 was starting it off small. Amazing.
I can’t believe it.
Deciding to just brush it off and deal with the situation at hand instead of what could possibly be wrong with Suoh Tamaki. Tamaki had flit off to do who knows what in the last 5 minutes before we opened the doors and the host club was in session, so that gave me some time to actually examine all the shit that I had on my table.
For the most part, there wasn’t all that much variety in the small ceramic dishes. The leaves that were there looked to be pretty basic and/or mild. There was some mint and even small collections of what looked like flowers. I didn’t really deal all that much with loose leaf tea, but this looked interesting? There was a small plate of sugar cubes and even a tiny little pot of honey. This was ridiculous. Holy shit.
At least the tea leaves provided didn’t smell like they were all that strong – no doubt due to Kyoya’s influence. They all looked to be more green tea (which, unpopular opinion, but I really hate Japanese green teas. Matcha can be very gross. I mean, give me some good ol' Earl Grey any day and I'll be happy. But tea ceremonies will always get me, man. At least Sencha wasn't the worst) than black tea, but fuck if I knew what I was doing. I had to do this and ‘host’ 5 girls? Why the fuck did they even request me? I’m so fucking confused…
I didn’t get much more time than that to prepare because suddenly, the twins were throwing open the door and fuckin rose petals were flying through the air as the hosts (including Haruhi???) posed dramatically and bowed to the assembled school girls that were waiting excitedly outside of the double doors to the music room.
“Welcome, ladies!” Tamaki cried happily before gesturing towards the dolled up room, and by extension, where I was sitting on one of the many couches. “Today is a very special day for some of you as we are welcoming a new host! I’m sure many of you have heard of him even if you haven’t met him, but today we are welcoming Akabane Karma into the fold.” He then proceeded to go on about some spiel about host types and how 5 of the ‘lucky ladies’ would be getting to spend the hour with me while the rest were welcome to join their regular hosts.
Somehow, when I signed up for this, I didn’t really think it would be like this. I’d read some of Kyoya’s reports, but in writing it didn’t seem this awful. Why did I agree? Why do I do this.
I was distracted from my thoughts by the arrival of four out of the five girls that I was told to host for the next hour. Two of them were buzzing excitedly and whispering to the third girl, while the fourth appeared to be trying really hard to appear poised and sophisticated. She sat delicately at the edge of the plush cushion and folded her hands in her lap while the two excitable girls crowded the third quieter on in between them on the couch across from me.
I shifted awkwardly for a moment before settling into the suave personality that had gotten me slapped back at Kunugikaoka. The girls of Class E absolutely hated the smarmy attitude, but they struck me as what you’d refer to as ‘strong independent women who don’t need a man’ while these girls were more the type of teenage girl that payed for fake romancing. Not that that was wrong, it’s just they were less likely to get me slapped. And even if they did go for a hit, it’s not like any of them could actually hurt me. This should be fine.
“Well as our illustrious leader said, welcome to the Host Club,” I grin, stealing some of Kyoya’s wording. I moved so that I was leaning forwards on my elbows, balancing them on my knees and clasping my hands in front of me so that I was subtly showing off my forearms. I was the ‘bad boy’ and that was probably half the reason that they’d even shown up to talk with me today. Judging by the bulging eyeballs of the trio on the couch, they very much liked what they saw. “Thank you for choosing me as your host today. I’m afraid I’m a bit new to all of this, so how about we introduce ourselves to get things started.”
I reach forwards and start up the hot plate to start bowling the water in the small kettle so that it would be ready once we finished introducing ourselves and got through a bit of small talk. “I’ll go first; I’m Akabane Karma, and I recently transferred to this school from True Cross Academy. Who are you?” I was trying my best to be polite, but if the slightly cool look Little Miss Prissy was giving me meant anything then some of my tone was coming off a bit sarcastic. Oh well.
“I am Arisawa Yuki,” Miss Prissy began, crossing her ankles and carefully arranging the edges of her skirt. She didn’t say anything else, prompting the others to begin to introduce themselves as well.
“I’m Tsukiko Aina, and these are my friends, Mitsuki Ayano and Ide Yuna.” One of the peppy girls introduced herself happily. She was bubbly, wearing her hair in tight curls and bouncing happily. Mitsuki was the other seemingly outgoing one, and she was really happy in this moment, nudging Ide excitedly. Ide looked a bit more unsure to be here and hid behind her bangs, but I was still able to see behind them to the light pink dusting of a blush across her pale cheeks.
I grin and lean back into the backrest so that I could sprawl lazily like a classic movie mob boss. I threw an arm over the back of the chair and tilted my head back to let the light catch my piercings just a little. If there was one thing that I was getting out of this it was a chance to act like an arrogant douchenozzle without repercussions because that’s what the masses wanted. It was great. “It’s very nice to meet you Arisawa-san, Tsukiko-san, Mitsuki-san, and Ide-san. What do you four say to chatting a little while we wait for the water to boil? It looks like Kyoya has set out a nice variety for us to enjoy today, so why don’t you tell me your preferences and I’ll set up some tea bags.”
I had spotted a curious little flower amongst the dishes and I was struck with an idea on what to do with it. It would just take a little bit of organization, but nothing too awful. And besides, we had the entire hour to do this. It wasn’t that big of a problem.
“Oh! You don’t have to do that, Akabane-sempai!” Mitsuki squealed, quickly grabbing a teabag and setting out to make her own tea, closely followed by the other girls. “This isn’t the first time that Kyoya-sempai has set this theme so we know what to do.” Figuring that they were capable of making their own tea I let them do as they wished. Making tea wasn’t my forté anyways.
(Huh. That might be something I want to work on later. Tea making was a valuable skill, especially when dealing with my more… old fashioned contacts. It helped with getting on their good sides.)
There was a beat of silence before Arisawa spoke up, starting a flow of conversation. “So what drew you to Ouran Academy, Akabane-sempai. True Cross Academy is a very good school.”
I actually had to think about that for a minute. How should I answer this? I’m sure the typical answer will work just fine. “Well I am old friends with Kyoya, so when things didn’t work out at True Cross, he convinced me that Ouran Academy would be worth my time. My half-brother is the Head Master of True Cross, so it was nice, getting away from him for a bit – you know, branching out and being my own person.” I spin my tail of bullshit, throwing in some shit about Mephisto in case some things popped up. Mephisto had ever so kind forged documents to go along with my school transcripts, so if someone went digging it was a plausible story.
However, that answer apparently wasn’t good enough because Ide shyly spoke up, and since she looked about ready to faint I figure glaring at her would be the wrong thing to do.
“I heard that you were kidnapped and to cover up the incident you chose to change schools.” She whispered hesitantly.
I hold back a sigh as the two girls beside her looked at me with interest. “So you must have been there when I first walked into the school.” Ide simply nods so I continue. “Yeah. There was an incident with some… less than savory people. One thing lead to another and my half-brother was a little… overprotective.” I said slowly, weaving more and more bullshit into my story. Arisawa already looked like she didn’t believe what I was saying, and it was sad because there was so much truth in this.
Just goes to show that telling half truths really is the best strategy. Right up there with telling the truth because no one will believe you anyway.
Wait… isn’t that what I’m doing now?
“Wow! That must have been scary!” Mitsuki gushed as she moved forwards and grabbed the kettle to poor the hot water into the tea cups in front of all of us. I take the kettle from her and casually place the remaining hot water into a teapot and threw in some loose-leaf flowers. I’d let it steep for a bit before putting it in the mini fridge in the kitchenette to chill for a dozen or so minutes. “Can you tell us the story? I’m sure you were very heroic!”
I use this moment to dodge the question by (subtly) escaping and put the tea pot in the fridge. When I came back, it was to see that there was a fifth girl sitting with my circle of friends, and unlike the other girls who were whispering quietly to each other. Instead, she sipped at the mint tea that I had left in the other place because I wasn’t a mint kind of guy.
“I see we have a new guest here,” I open with a smile at the other girls as I retook my seat and prepared to spin another story for them if they didn’t back off. “And what’s your name sweetheart?” I asked, making eye contact with the new girl. She looked rather plain, but not ugly. She had pretty eyes and her hair cut complimented her heart shaped face. Unlike the other girls here, she also didn’t bother all that much with makeup, and what little she did wear was expertly applied. She looked foreign, or at least half foreign. Like Tamaki, she had pretty blonde hair, although her eyes were green instead of Tamaki’s intriguing shade.
Instead of opening her mouth to speak, she delicately placed her tea cup on the small table and began waving her hands around in various formations. I’m a little embarrassed to say how long it took me to notice what she was doing. She was signing.
I’m Emily Deans, or I guess, Deans Emily here. Do you understand SEE?
Right off the bat I recognize that it isn’t the sign language dialect that is commonly used in Japan. This fit with my deduction of her being foreign. She probably just moved here and wasn’t yet used to using the dialect that we do. With the money this school has I’m sure they are more than capable of providing an interpreter for her when she requires it, so I’m not surprised if she doesn’t even know what dialect we use. The slight hesitation I had before moving had her looking uncertain and immediately opening her mouth to start to try and croak out some Japanese but I quickly stopped that train of thought by quickly signing back.
It’s lovely to meet you, Emily. I am fluent in English, and I learned SEE a couple years ago, so forgive me if I’m a bit rusty. Are you new to the country?
I signed in my admittedly rusty SEE or Signed Exact English. I had learned this particular dialect after Kyoya found out about my English lessons. He insisted that signing was a valuable skill, and since a lot of my career relied on stealth, it was something that I’d had everyone learn. Admittedly we used a different short hand similar to Pidgin, but the ideas were similar enough to make learning them manageable. I was good at languages, and those that I usually went on missions with quickly adjusted to our own version of short hand.
I was a wee bit nervous that I’d fuck up and accidentally throw in another language or even fuck up the grammar, but the way that Emily’s face just lit up as soon as I signed back made that insecurity worth it. She had a pretty smile and she was so genuinely happily surprised. It was kind of sad actually.
You’re really good! I’m so happy that we can properly communicate. My interpreter wasn’t available for this afternoon, so I was just going to cancel, but then Ootori said that you might be familiar.
She made a face before signing a bit slower so that it was easier to understand.
Sorry. Sometimes I just get a little too excited. Yes, I moved here from England just last year and I’ve been struggling, but with Ootori as a tutor I’ve been doing well enough.
She smiled and picked her tea back up to take a sip, the smile not leaving her face. I inclined my head and turned to look at the other four girls so that I could catch them up to speed. “This is Deans Emily, and due to her condition, I’ll be signing along as I speak, so I might be speaking a bit slower. I hope that’s alright with you.” I say, signing as I spoke and made eye contact with the other four girls.
Arisawa looked a bit put out, but she didn’t offer up any complaints while the others simply nodded excitedly. “Alright, now where were we…” I begin, theatrically putting a hand on my chin as I tried to remember what we were talking about. I totally knew what it was, but you can’t blame me for trying.
“You were going to tell us about the er… incident…” Mitsuki said enthusiastically, trailing off awkwardly as she realized that it might not be all that good of a topic. “Or you could not,” she quickly amends, “it mustn’t be a fun topic for you to talk about…”
Before I could respond properly, Arisawa – who I was beginning to see as a Queen Bitch – cut in and showed that she was tactless at the best of times. “I would still like to hear the story. Asano-san has been very clear in what he found out, and I’m interested to see what your side of the story is.” And that throws out the idea that I can work my way around this. Mitsuki, Tsukiko and Ide might have let it go, and with Emily not knowing what was happening. Arisawa wasn’t going to let me weasel my way out of this, and I’m questioning as to whether she chose to be here just for the experience or to find out information.
Either way, I can’t just flat out lie. If word gets out that I lied to the clients, not only would Kyoya be disappointed at the bad PR, but Asano wouldn’t hesitate to use that against me. If Arisawa turns out to be in his corner, then Asano won’t hesitate to use whatever tale I tell against me regardless of its truth. But then again, he also dug enough to know that I was kidnapped to begin with. That was something that everyone kept hush hush. Regardless of how much they liked me, the True Cross students knew better than to talk about what happened in more than soft whispers with each other.
I would actually have to be honest. Here we go.
“Of course, Arisawa-san. It would be my pleasure,” I said, inclining my head and settling into my seat to begin. “As you’ve probably heard, I was a student participating in the Cram School element that my half-brother instilled in the school. I’m afraid it’s a trade secret as to what we learned, but we did leave the school frequently to learn in other environments. It on one such trip that we encountered gang activity.”
The girls gasped in tandem as I continued to weave my tale. “Unfortunately, I was a casualty of the ensuing panic, and I was held for three days. I wouldn’t want to frighten you with reality, but I was hospitalized upon my return. My half-brother encouraged me to simply take my exams and then get a change of scene. Somewhere safer.”
It was a very simple explanation, and definitely very watered down, but with the way that Tsukiko was crying, I figure it was enough for them.
But not for Arisawa.
“And do you happen to know what gang it was? Or even what area this occurred? My father has friends amongst the police force and this kind of information could stop it from happening to someone else.” She said, leaning forwards but managing to keep her expression cool.
I arched an eyebrow and tilted my head slightly. “I’m afraid the only time I was able to see my captors was when the rescue team came to burn down the building. I was unconscious when we left the building.” My tone of voice shut down any further questions from the girls, and my expression took care of Emily, although she did begin to hesitantly sign in the following silence.
I’m sorry that happened to you.
I blinked slowly before inclining my head once more and stood up.
“Moving on from that rather heavy topic, I’d like to show you guys something that I learned a while back, before our time is up for the day.” I say casually, rising once more to grab some things from the kitchenette and leaving the girls a minute to process things and drop the unspoken tension that was beginning to clog up the air. While there I grabbed a small tray so that I would be able to carry things without dropping one or more glasses. Wouldn’t that be a disaster.
The tray itself was wooden, so I actually made an effort of grabbing a coaster (crocheted into a floral pattern even) and carefully placed the china tea pot on it. After that I grabbed some clear glasses from a small cabinet and adding that to the tray. Some spoons and a small pitcher full of lemonade were quickly added to the tray, and then after a moment of consideration, I filled the glasses half full with some ice from the fridge. Rich people like to splurge, so the ice was crystal clear and shaped perfectly. Presentation was everything after all. I made a note to grab some flowers as I threw in some straws.
Deciding that I had everything that I would need I returned to the main part of the room and set down my tray on the clear space on the table. “This is something I learned in a science class,” I say, giving a little prelude as I swirl the tea pot a bit and begin to pour the chilled tea into the glasses so that it was filled about ¾ of the way up. “This is a tea from Thailand that is called the Butterfly Pea Tea. It is widely known for its royal blue hue when steeped in hot water.” I explain, showing off the colour of the transparent liquid to the awed girls.
Holding the spoon so that it hovered over the surface of the liquid and the ice that had risen to the top, I flipped it over and carefully began to pour the lemonade over the spoon so that it dispersed and layered on top of the tea instead of mixing right away. With both the ice and the spoon allowed the pour to be smoother, there was a pretty solid separation. I was just a little bit smug that some of the bartending techniques had taken root.
(Bartending was a great covert way to get information relatively painlessly. People are always willing to spill their guts to their bartender, and the people that we usually go after are those that could spend hours at a bar. Bitch-sensei did make a point of teaching the girls how to flirt over liquor, she just didn’t expect that the girls would turn around and proceed to teach us the techniques too.)
“The unique thing about Butterfly Pea Tea other than it’s numerous theoretical health benefits, is that it changes colour depending on its pH level.” I explain as I top off each glass with a straw and one of the little blue flowers. “I’ve added lemonade which is acidic, so all you need to do is give it a stir.” I gesture for them to each take a glass and they do, although some with more eagerness than other.
Due to my preparations, I hadn’t had the time to sign what I was saying to Emily, but she seemed eager to try what I’d made regardless. She was actually the first to grab her glass and take a big sip. Her eyes widened in surprise as she looked at it before hesitantly swirling her straw around before moving to take another taste. By then the other girls had also grabbed their drinks, each of them stirring it and reacting in shock when the drink turned a lovely shade of purple.
Wow – cool – Karma!
Emily signed excitedly with one hand, switching to Pidgin and using the sign for karma – as in the Buddhist belief – for my name. I grinned and calmly sipped my lemonade. Even Arisawa didn’t have a complaint, so I have to say, today was a success.
I smirk over the rim of my glass at them. “So, what made you ladies choose me as your host for today?”