Narcissus

by Tollpatsch


Four: Camel Clutch

It was only the second week of term, and Terumi already felt like a wilting plant that was dying a slow death. Photosynthesis was serious business. The different classes of people were like plants—some blooming wonderfully and others trodden, eaten and wilted.

She classed herself as the latter.

Lazily flipping through a fashion magazine she casually 'borrowed' from her mother—hey, it was lying there on the coffee table, in the living room and that was no-man's land, free-for-all, and the take-it-and-run-don't-call-the-police area. Also, she was currently on a business trip, so the whole house was bandit country.

The woman had loads of magazines anyway. Ahem. She would return it someday, with some food stains from lunch probably. It's not like she had anyone to talk with during lunch, and doing homework during lunch was only acceptable if it was due next period, or she'd be forever branded as a total loser.

For now, her status was: 'total weirdo'—she hadn't fallen that low to loser…yet.

Terumi had been higher up the social ladder back in middle school. But it was all-girls, sheltered…and it was middle school. Things change. This was high school. Kaijou: a school for both boys and girls and teenage hormones running wild.

She relished the taste of her chicken schnitzel sandwich (made from yesterday's leftovers). You could never go wrong with schnitzel.

Schnitzel was the way. Schnitzel was life.

Her sixth sense picked up a signal, and the previously heavenly schnitzel felt like rocks in her mouth. Something was coming. Something she could not handle at all.

She slowly averted her gaze from his blinding presence. Kise Ryouta emanated this glittering aura and she could not looketh in his directioneth.

(Shakespearean probably didn't work like that, but she needed to roll with it.)

"What's up, Mikazuki?"

Ugh. Did she really have to deign someone legions above her in the hierarchy with a response? It was like a human talking to a monkey.

She grunted an intelligible answer—eerily similar to the call of a wild ape crossed with a chimpanzee.

"Sorry. I can't understand you—can you repeat it?"

(She made the mistake of looking up, and was subsequently hit with the full force of a holy presence.)

This being her first conversation with the Kise Ryouta in public—and therefore under the scrutinizing public eye, of course she would be apprehensive and see it as a form of bullying.

"…Never mind. Can I help you?" she grumbled as she stared down at her desk, the magazine now in Kise's hands as he thoughtfully looked through it.

She had a bad feeling about this.

"Hmm. Yeah" – he began distractedly – "I never thought you would read these…isn't this targeted at office ladies?"

Terumi nodded. "My mum."

His face alighted with understanding. "She must be really stylish. Pretty different from your image, isn't it?"

Many things came at once. Firstly, naturally beautiful people just didn't understand the feelings of the commoners and therefore could say some shattering things.

For someone thick-skinned like Terumi—who would have to actually take care of herself properly to look acceptable…it was just too much effort despite the social cost and a cloak of invisibility where she just didn't really exist in other people's eyes.

Secondly, and most importantly…

She cupped her ear exaggeratedly. "Kise…you…like-have a thing for the older ladies?"

(Maybe she wanted to get back at him for all the veiled sarcastic remarks. Just a little bit.)

He froze. "Huh?"

All the females in the classroom who were twittering about aimlessly suddenly stopped to listen in, their stares piercing like fierce huntresses looking for prey.

Terumi gasped, realization dawning. "I've discovered something unexpected…er…Kise, um, I know that you're currently a minor—and that shouldn't be a problem but, you know, I understand you. You hear me? I…understand you."

He looked taken aback. Taking his silence as permission to keep talking, she soldiered on.

This was side of Kise Ryouta that she could empathise with. "Sexy older ladies are great. Sugar-mamas are even better—like, you know"—she lowered her voice conspiratorially, but her voice could still be heard throughout the whole classroom –"Some fine wines are better…aged."

"What?"

"…You know, practice makes perfect, more experience, you've got to pop that cap at the right time. Sometimes, a different angle is all you need." She nodded to herself sagely—those traumatising conversations with her stupid brother had finally reaped some results and she was handing out advice like how Opr*h handed out gifts.

Don't mess with the Winfr*y.

Kise shook his head robotically. "No, no-no-no—you're totally wrong—I mean, older ladies—wait I'm off track here what are you talking about…"

"Sometimes it's possible to get it wrong, but you should discuss with the sugar-mama properly about position—"

"Not that!" – he coughed, gathering his wits and composure – "I just wanted to borrow your notes from yesterday afternoon. I kind-of skipped class."

She raised an eyebrow.

"…I just wanted to see Kurokocchi," he answered sheepishly.

She stared at him. "Oh. I see," –she rummaged through her bag, pulling out her exercise book – "Here. Modern Japanese and World History stuff."

"…Thanks."

"You're welcome. If you need to talk about your…sugar intake…" she trailed off suggestively.

He smiled. "That's totally untrue. Mikazuki, I don't know how much Senpai told you but I'm not…like that."

She raised her eyebrows. "Like that?"

Kise nodded seriously. "That. Really. Not that."

"That or that? Like…what?"

He nodded again. "Yeah. That. Wait—what?"

"What?"

He laughed suddenly, realising that she had no sense of subtlety at all. "Don't worry about it."

Her eyebrows rose higher and higher. "…It?" she exclaimed.

This was unprecedented—she never knew Kise Ryouta of all people, would think about tentacle po—

Some people were naturally advanced. In all aspects. All. Wait. Since when did the conversation take such a sharp left turn and leap dimensions?

A hand on her shoulder derailed her train of thought. "You need to stop thinking, Mikazuki. I have no idea what we're talking about now."

"Me neither."

"Yeah. Thanks for the notes. End of conversation?"

"Right."

"Okay then."

"Yup."

And that was just the start of the enlightening and confusing conversations she would have with him.


1 NEW MESSAGE

From: Riko

Today 3:21pm

I'm coming to your school today.


Today 3:30pm

Come at me, hoe. 凸(皿)凸


From: Riko

Today 3:21pm

٩(╬ʘ益ʘ╬)۶


Today 3:30pm

Actually, please have mercy on me Riko-sama. ○| ̄|_ . Very sorry. Please don't use any of your wrestling moves on me. I might die. Seriously, I might actually die.


From: Riko

Today 3:48pm

No.

Now, where are you hiding? Let's play peek-a-boo, okay? Teehee! ( ͡^ ͜ʖ ͡^ )


Today 3:51pm

NOT THE LENNY FACE NO I'M SORRY PLZ FORGIVE ME. I'M REPENTING FOR MY SINS RIKO-CHAMA—

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.

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The classroom had an aura of excitement. The chattering of the girls was obvious even to a social retard like Terumi, and she had no idea why.

"I want to go to the gym now."

"…Awww-I have cleaning duty. I'll be late."

"…You should switch with someone."

"So exciting! I want to give him my towel."

"Good idea."

Catching pieces of conversation, she still had no idea what they were squealing about. She wrung out the dirty cloth into the bucket, slightly grossed out by how dark the water was. Well, she did wipe the windows like a boss. There was something about the sparkling glass that tickled her peach, and she felt accomplished.

Well, even though she somehow did Kise Ryouta's cleaning duties. Oh well. She was a Saint, then. Saint Terumi had a nice ring.

"Mikazuki-san?" a girl walked up to her, eyes hopeful. "Can you switch cleaning duty with me? I have…um, something important to do."

She eyed her cake-face (did this chick not know make-up was to be used in moderation?), her messy uniform obviously ruffled on purpose, and the lack of cleaning tools in her hands. Not a team player in afternoon cleaning.

This girl didn't want to clean like a boss.

Hence, she was met with a blank, unsympathetic face. Terumi slowly got up to her feet, the bucket of water in her tight, boss-like-cleaner's grip.

"Sorry, Watanabe-san. I have club activities after."

"Oh," she says, pouting her glossy lips. She still hung around though, as if reluctant to leave without getting what she wanted. "Wait. I'm Fuji, not Watanabe."

Terumi shrugged, trying to look apologetic but failing miserably and instead looking constipated. "My bad, Yamada-san."

And she exited the girl talk like a boss, nodding to the other members of Fukiji's clique.

"Tokugawa-san, Sakata-san, Kurosaki-san."

"What? Tokugawa's a history dude!"

"My name's Ueno."

"And mine's Kurosawa. You were close, Mikazuki."

But Terumi was already gone, forever forgetting the names of those girls who didn't really matter and never actually talked to her and acknowledged her presence. Meh.

Her club activities were important. It was life changing, healing, and a step closer towards enlightenment. It taught her the secrets of the world, the way of immortality and the equation of the universe.

Club activities were life.

.

.

.

The daggy tracksuit. Check.

Rubber boots. A faded baseball cap that her brother didn't wear anymore. Check.

Sunglasses. Check.

Determination. Check.

Terumi lifted the watering can up, giving nourishment to her the beautiful plants with style. Well, they weren't beautiful yet because most of them were still seeds. But she was sure that they would all grow up to be beautiful plants (she'd forgotten was written on the packets, so the plant species was unknown).

All of them shall be wonderful. You can't ask a parent which of their children was the best or the most beautiful in the land, after all.

That would make things awkward. She would know. She once asked her mother which of her children was better when she was a naïve child deceived that her mother was actually Ultraman. And her mum said, with no hesitation: You and your brother are both idiots, just like your father.

She'd accepted, because if she answered that her brother was better then that would have created a rift, a huge crack in their relationship the size of the Grand Canyon that was Horikita Mai's cleavage because there was no way they were real.

Footsteps approached her again. Man, it was probably someone who was lost.

"Oh yeah…so you need directions?" Getting to her feet slowly, she brushed the dirt off her pants. Then she looked up.

No one was there. So she looked down, into the face of the human personification of terror.

Terumi paled. "Riko."

The Terror just smiled sweetly. "Hiya, Terumin!"

A short silence ensued, which she used to mutter her last prayers and watch a mental montage of the greatest moments of her life so far.

Watching pigeons die, flashing strangers her underwear, talking to boys…

"CAMEL CLUTCH!" That was all the warning she got before Aida Riko pounced on her with the power of a Pro-Wrestler.

She was face down on the ground, humiliated by those Hands of Death pulled her back up as the Reaper sat on her lower back and forced her to hand her soul over on a silver platter.

"Have…mercy," she moaned, playing it up for the sudden audience according to the many exclamations of horror at her poor, abused body.

"R-riko!"

"Coach is killing someone already!"

"What the hell are you doing…er…Coach."

"Kagami don't just tack 'Coach' on at the end, idiot."

Well. The last two weren't really screams of extreme fear, but that group of people were most likely that Terrible, Flat-chested, Menace's minions.

She was dying.

"I'm sorry! Have—have…mercy!"—She could feel her spirit leaving her body and ascending so her parting words would have to be quick—"You're not flat chested and-and-um-um-um the hoe to my trowel!"

Terumi glimpsed the Menace's blood-curdling grin. "What. Did. You. Say."

The life was leaving her body. Her neck was starting to ache. Her back was sore. Riko was really heavy—

"I'll…die," she hissed out frantically as the Menace pushed her to breaking point.

And Terumi broke.

.

.

.

"This is Mikazuki Terumi, an old friend," The ever lovely, ever kind and gentle, Aida Riko introduced the gangly corpse of what looked like was once a human.

"She was an old friend," Hyuuga Junpei remarked under his breath, shivers running down his spine. The Camel Clutch was a move he'd never seen Riko use before. It was a terrifying new addition to her collection of Pro-Wrestling moves.

"This guy wearing glasses is the Captain, Hyuuga Junpei-kun." Riko's sugary voice made the corpse flinch. Its eyes met his, the dead-fish look diminishing for a moment.

Terumi snorted. Riko had shown her pictures of the basketball club members and the photos from their past that should be buried…in the past. Lest they die from embarrassment.

(If it was that idiot Kagami who did that, Junpei would have beat the respect into him—alas he didn't hit girls, so for that, Terumi was lucky.)

"…And this is Izuki-kun, the guy with bad puns—" I'm punny!, the disappointingly handsome guy quipped, reminding her of Comrade Moriyama –"Mitobe-kun, Koganei-kun: jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none…First years like you: Tsuchida-kun, Furihata-kun, Kawahara-kun, Fukuda-kun…the wild, (stupid looking) one is Kagami-kun…and I don't really see Kuroko-kun anywhere. He'll appear sometime."

What is he, a strange magical creature? Terumi had enough sense to keep her sass to herself.

The rest of her Minions, the Seirin Boys Basketball Team, felt sympathy for the poor thing. However they couldn't defy The Dictator, and just nodded like obedient puppies. Hence, the most idiotic of the litter decided to express his condolences by clapping his hands together, almost praying for the dead.

"…You should light incense for that, Kagami-kun," a voice popped out from next to him, making both him and the corpse jump in surprise.

"W-woah Kuroko! Stop scaring me like that!"

Terumi's state of suspended death was scared away, the fear bringing life back into her. With great difficulty, she lifted her head off the ground. "Hey…I'm still alive."

"I can't help scaring you. I apologise, seeing you jump is a…little funny."

"So you were secretly twisted after all! Kuroko!"

"…By the way, Kagami-kun, your eyes seem even worse than usual." They were bloodshot and he had dark circles. He was in need of some eye drops, Terumi surmised. And maybe a few good nights of beauty sleep, but she was pretty sure that he wouldn't be some beautiful, graceful being as he slept.

"Shut up," – the gruff, (stupid looking) guy shot back tiredly –"I was too fired up, so I couldn't sleep."

"…Are you supposed to be a grade-schooler before a field trip?"

She was ignored like the dirt on the ground. Like the spilled bag of compost that she'll have to sweep up this afternoon. Well, at least she wasn't handling the worm farm when Riko tackled her. Those wriggly little guys were hard to get a hold of.

Well, that rare-magical-creature guy is actually really sassy.

Terumi sighed as she revived herself, standing up with the difficulty of a ninety-year old man. Why was human interaction and conversation so hard for her?

Shuffling close to Riko, who seemed to no longer have the urge to murder her slowly, she realised too late that her skills of judgement were still as dodgy as ever. The Menace smiled at her. It was scary, that her heart almost stopped beating altogether.

"Hi. Riko. First gym for basketball today,"—she waved vaguely in the direction she came from, near the First Gym –"Somewhere there."

"Take us there, then, pretty please—ehe," Riko delivered her Death Sentence with a disgustingly sweet pose. It was gross.

Terumi's insides twisted from the fact that she might have to spend more time in Riko's menacing presence. She was traumatised, after all. That appointment to the psychologist was sorely needed but she wasn't sure her health care included 'questionable mental trauma'. She needed to ask her psycho-mother on the nitty-gritty details.

Luckily, a Miracle approached them.

"There's no need for that."

She felt her insides stop twisting and writhing in despair. "…Kise." This guy skipped out on class cleaning today. Why she knew…was because it was her who picked up his slack. Being devilishly handsome or angel-faced couldn't get him out of this one.

Ryouta acknowledged her existence distractedly. "Hey, Mikazuki," – his apathetic countenance toppled over one-eighty degrees once he saw Tetsuya and Taiga and he broke out a wide, friendly smile –"Hi! Kurokocchi and his team…I'll be counting on you guys today!"

"Kise!" a chorus of Riko's Minions sounded, drowning out Terumi's soft: 'You tool…I had to clean up your mess—oh whatever no one's listening to me.'

"…Since this place is so big, I came to greet you."

And the one who wiped the windows, like a total boss gets a half-assed, half-baked, barely-cooked-two-minute-noodles-which-haven't-even-lost-its-shape two words of greeting?

Well. Terumi wasn't one for saying absolutely everything on her mind.

Ugh. You get away with so much.

So, seeing the opportunity for escape from Riko's evil clutches, she took it. Terumi took off like a speeding rocket with the stealth of a middle-aged ninja past their prime.

.

.

.

I hope you lose the match and you cry, you sissy basketball player.

.

.

.

As she watered her lovely unknown species of plant, she watched a student from another school walk past the first gymnasium, stop, and then walk back the other way whilst passing her by. In some weird way, he was walking in circles.

In her Gardening Mode, she creepily stared at him, silently laughing at how dumb he looked with that frog toy held carefully in his hands. That glasses boy was handling it like a national treasure.

Wise Sage Mode took over once he passed by her for the ninth time. "Excuse me. Young man. Are you lost?"

It was like a scene from Dragon-Ball. Though she didn't know where the Balls were.

He stopped trotting around to address her. "I am not lost-nodayo."

Terumi shrugged off all his obvious body language signs of: don't talk to me, also graciously ignoring whatever speech defect he had and continued the conversation like a mature human being. "You look like you're looking for someplace."

The Lost student made a sound that sounded suspiciously like a derisive: 'Hmph!'

"You look like you're looking for someplace," she repeated.

"I heard you the first time-nodayo."

She rested her chin on her fist in that classic I-think-therefore-I-am pose, just on an invisible chair. Though she was no Descartes, she could still pretend to be sagely and dismiss the fact that her thighs were trembling from the pose.

"…You look like—er…looking you're someplace for."

He was Unimpressed. "Rearranging the words doesn't make any sense."

She crossed her arms thoughtfully. "You look like you're looking for someplace."

"…Repeating yourself doesn't rectify—"

"So you are lost." this conversation was going nowhere.

"I am not lost," he insisted. "I shall leave now, because I know where I am going to: the gym where the basketball team plays."

Um…Okay. You do that.

He just stared at her, as if expecting her to say something. Well, she did have lots of trivia facts for everyday conversation.

…But his glaring face, which he was probably born with (He was born glaring, darn it) didn't exactly inspire her to prolong whatever stilted exchange this was.

"Um,"—her left eye twitched unconsciously, as she raised a hand to point at the huge building behind him –"There's a match happening right there."

"Understood," was the terse reply.

He left—kind of scornfully, like she owed him billions of dollars, his mortgage, his wife, his Dragon Balls and his firstborn son.

Alright. Back to gardening. She needed to mix the compost for the worm farm.

.

.

.

Upon giving a strange student from another school directions to the gym, and the hype created by her ditzy female classmates…Terumi became a bit curious. So she peeked inside with the worst timing.

Kise Ryouta looked flabbergasted. And he was crying. That sissy.

She closed the door to the gym silently. "I shouldn't have seen that."

Why does he cry so beautifully? I have a continuous waterfall of snot whenever I watch Tit*nic…

Well. She kind of felt bad for cursing him with her evil voodoo magic. And she was afraid that Karma would come and bite her in the behind because Fate and Destiny and all that shindig was Comrade, brother-in-arms Moriyama's monologue that she knew by heart from all the times she's heard it.

She looked down at the project she'd been working on for the past week. Maybe she can give him a consolation prize. There were containers in the Gardening Shed, and the soil quality was good enough for the earthworms to survive.

Kise should be grateful. I'm giving him a mini eco-system. This is a gift of life.


After accosting him at the gates as he came running back with a silly grin on his radiant face, she handed him the covered container. It even had breathing holes.

"What's this? You're confessing to me already?" he asked her, tilting his head cutely. It wasn't as gross as Riko doing the same thing.

By habit, she wrinkled her nose in the universal gesture of disgust. She couldn't help it—her reaction to anything remotely cute and adorable was an urge to vomit.

"…I guess not," he replied wryly.

She nodded. "You lost."

"Don't rub it in! It's still a sore wound-ssu!"

Terumi continued, ignoring his whining. Somehow the shriller tone of his voice reminded her of Riko, and again, that urge came back.

("Why are you looking at me like I'm no better than the weeds on the side of the road? You're becoming really mean—")

"…So, as a gesture of goodwill according to Comrade Moriyama, even though I took over your cleaning this afternoon and I don't owe you anything…and er…so…I am a Saint, I'm giving this to you as a consolation gift."

He blinked his bright eyes.

"Open it." He complied.

And then he screamed. This was the first time that he cried twice in the same day.


つづく


end notes

Terumi is definitely an EXILE fan. LOL. She is a big shounen manga fan, and she likes to watch cheesy, trashy television in her free time. She would probably like The Bachelor.

Don't you just love innuendos? Terumi has an older brother, so she automatically jumps to those dirty, filthy conclusions. If Kise saw even a snippet of what goes on in her brain, he would be scarred for life.

I'm so glad people are laughing whilst reading this story; the point of it is to brighten people's days!

Well, I apologise if I haven't been responding to the reviews. BUT. Recommendation-wise, I don't really read much Kuroko no Basuke fanfiction…but 'Liar, Liar' by YokohamaBeans and anything by juungi is a go from me!

Google 'Camel Clutch' if you don't know what position it is. LOL.

Tollpatsch.