I was back in World A(kane). The both of us showed up in our classroom café bright and early in the morning, with fresh supplies. The line in this world was almost twice as long as the one in my world. It was all because everyone wanted to see Akane in a maid outfit, and so she charged double because of that.
“Gotta pay up! Tee-hee!” she said.
Today was also the first live rehearsal of Class 2-A’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet. Akane and I were really interested in seeing it, so we both chose our break to stop by and check out what would possibly be a classic in the making. We were working hard and closely with the two of them, and at this point even Akane knew almost every single line of the play.
This is gonna be good!
But there was still something I had questions about. Did Akane find out about her big brother the same way in this world? She seemed relatively the same cheery self, and I wasn’t sure how to bring something that may not have happened anyways.
“Oh my big brother? Yeah Jumpy showed up yesterday. We caught up and he was the same as I remember him. He’s letting me stay since I was already staying with you. If I recall correctly…he said that you would take responsibility!” she smiles.
Wait what?!? Responsibility?!?
Besides the ill-timed joke at the end, I’m glad that things were sorted out in this world. It was my part to get with Yuki-san as soon as possible so that maybe Junpei-san would accept the same answer like this world. At least Operation Maiden’s Heart was slowly coming along with Kaneko-san hinting at Daisuke with the Phantom Defender pin.
“C’mon everybody! We’re gonna break yesterday’s record!” rallied Akane.
Everyone of Class 2-B was fired up!
This is gonna be intense!
Our shift was over now. For the last few hours, Akane and I have been working non-stop with the constant influx of customers that kept pouring into our classroom café. It was so busy that a few of our students had to make supply runs – two times. We even managed to have Dr. Mori come by, who was in a happier mood than usual.
“What would you like today, my Lady.” I asked her, trying to hold back my cringe.
“Ahh…Kazuki-kun you’ve ever felt that someone of your dreams just suddenly appear?” she said in a distracted daze.
“Kazuki, I think I’ve met Mr. Right…but I don’t know. He feels different than all the other guys I’ve met.”
I hope this guy knows what he’s getting into…
She finished her third cup of coffee, and I pour her another cup again.
“Everything just tastes better now Kazuki. But I better get going…back to filling out paper work.”
She stands up and finishes the coffee in one gulp. It was like seeing another side of Dr. Mori.
"Yes! I have new motivation now!” as she pumps herself up by lightly slapping her face.
“Your coffee’s not bad either! Akane-chan is a lucky gal.”
She starts to head out, humming a whimsy tune past all the students, without a care in the world.
“Let’s take a look around Kazuki!”
Akane snapped me out of my daze. She finally finished changing out of her maid uniform, and it was time for us to start heading over to the auditorium to see the play. Still…we had quite a while until the doors would open. We start look around the stalls up and down the hallways. The school was much livelier than usual. I look to my left to see the Game Development Club. Although Daisuke and I spent considerable time at the arcades when we were kids, I was a little rusty. They were showcasing their new puzzle game, which they claimed no one has solved yet.
“C’mon try it out! No one has been able to solve it yet!” said one of the game dev members.
I start playing their game with a white rectangular “Uii” motion controller attached, but I couldn’t figure out what the solution to the puzzle was. It was a physics-based puzzle where a ball would drop from above into a maze with a ramp near a bridge. You had to use the motion sensors to flip, turn, and move the maze in order to guide the ball to the exit across a bridge. I got the ball almost towards the exit, but there was a part of the maze that did not have a wall, which made it impossible for the ball to have enough momentum with the ramp to cross the bridge.
This is rigged!
“We made this puzzle to basically be impossible hehe…” snickered one of the game dev members.
Akane taps me on the shoulder, and I can tell that she wanted to try it out also.
“Let me try Kazuki!” she says.
I hand her the controller and she sits down, moving the “Uii” controller up and down, in order to figure out how the motion controls worked. She was deep in thought, looking at every little motion she did and how much it affected the movement of the maze. She pressed start to begin her first try.
“Just give up! If your boyfriend couldn’t solve it there’s no w-“
The club member’s sentence was cut short when Akane managed to solve the puzzle!
Everyone besides Akane was shocked that she solved it on her first try. There was disbelief in how quickly she managed to solve the puzzle, since no one had been able to complete it yet. Instead of going through the difficulty of the maze itself, she just simply rotated the maze upside down. That way, when the ball dropped, it would be on a flat surface, and if tilted a little bit, the ball would roll with enough momentum to cross the bridge.
How did she solve it so quickly?!?
Akane made it look easy, as I never would have thought of flipping it upside down. Even the club members didn’t realize that was a solution to their puzzle. She proudly stood up, and handed the controller to one of the shaken game dev members with a smile.
“That was a fun brain teaser!”
Akane drags my hand away and we start exploring the rest of the school festival before heading to the theater. Students were running up and down, couples were hanging out with food in their hands, and people were laughing about. One of the classes was serving various deserts, like crepes and cakes. There was a long line though, but I overhear students claiming this was the best they’ve ever had.
“Hey! Go save us some seats Kazuki! I gotta try it! I’ll bring you one too!” says Akane as she runs to the end of the line.
“Ok. But try to hurry!”
I start walking towards the theater outside this building.
I’m a lucky guy…
This was the first time in a while that I’ve felt content. It was if everything was going perfectly along in my not-so-typical high school life. I’m about to head downstairs to the exit when I’m intrigued by a sign that reads “GET YOUR FORTUNE TOLD HERE!”
I don’t really believe any of this stuff…
I quickly glance but the fortune teller waves me to stay.
“I sense something ahead for your life…” a female voice says inside her booth.
A shiver goes down my spine as I hear her calm but noticeably cautious tone. My curiosity piques, and open the cloth flap to I head inside her little booth. It was dark inside the small booth, with a tiny crudely constructed light source consisting of a light bulb affixed over my head. There was a small round table, with a soft blue cloth over it. Sitting in front of me was a student with a hood over her face wearing a long black robe.
“Kazuki Kaneshiro, correct?”
How did she know my name?!?
“How did you know my name?” I ask.
She points her finger at my chest. I look down only to realize I forgot to take off my name tag while working at the classroom café.
I take a deep sigh and decide to head out of this creepy booth.
Must be one of those weird kids…
“W-Wait! I haven’t told your fortune yet!” she says.
I still have a few minutes. Akane’s probably still in line. I’ll humor this poor student.
I reluctantly sit back down, when I notice a small smile appear on the hooded figure’s face.
“Ahem…let’s take a look at the cards.”
She riffle shuffles the tarot cards a few times and lays out three cards from the top of the deck in front of me.
“The left most card represents your past, the one next to it your present, and finally the last card as a reading of your future.” She says.
First, she signals to me to flip the first card on the left. It is a picture of what appears to be a wheel, with strange symbols and letters on the edges of it, reading “T-A-R-O” clockwise. There is a sphinx, a lion with the head of a human, like the Great Sphinx of Giza from Egypt.
“Ah…this is the Wheel of Fortune. This means that there has been change in your life, such as something changing your life for the better…or possibly worse.” Says the fortune teller cryptically.
She’s trying really hard to creep me out…but she’s right.
She gestures to me to flip the second card.
I flip it over to see a picture of a tall tower atop of a mountain, with a lightning bolt striking it, causing a fire to burst inside the building. There are images of people too, looking like they are leaping outside to escape. Seeing this card makes me feel uneasy, as my stomach begins to churn.
“Woah! This is the Tower. It means there is sudden change, destruction, a crisis. Honestly…this is the first time I’ve had this card appear as part of a reading. Expect the unexpect…”
There’s no way! I mean this is just all randomness and with my luck, I’m not surprised.
She notices that I’m still taking in this sudden vision for misfortune, and motions me to reveal the final card of my reading – the future. I flip the card, to see a man wearing ragged clothes without shoes, and carrying a stick on his back. His image and body makes me think he was a homeless person.
“Finally, we have the Fool. Fun fact, this card is the only unnumbered card in the deck, either as zero or the 22nd or final major arcana. He represents potential, or new beginnings. It indicates that anything could happen, and that opportunities in your life may be waiting to be taken advantage of…” she explains.
“So what does my fortune say?” I ask.
I was still unsure what to think of her reading. Was it good? Or was it bad?
“All I can say as a member of the occult research club is be careful Kazuki Kaneshiro…I don’t know if what I read can come true, but do take caution.” She says.
I accept her advice and leave the booth. Only to be greeted by Akane who was holding one large crepe in one hand, and a half-eaten one in the other. She had whipped cream, which I instinctively wipe off with my finger.
“H-Hey! Not in public Kazuki…!” as she blushes.
She hands me my crepe and I try to take a bite of it.
It’s delicious! But I’m not really in the mood to eat…
“What’s wrong Kazuki?” Akane asks.
“Nothing! Let’s go! We’re gonna be late and miss the good seats to the show.”
We both walk to the auditorium, hand in hand.
“Shhh!” said a student next to us.
“Sorry!” whispered Akane.
Akane got a little excited when she saw Daisuke appear on stage. We showed up a little late, but we still managed to get decent enough seats in the place. The place was packed, and we were really lucky to find two chairs that were empty near the front row. The auditorium had an elevated stage, where usually the student council president or principal would give speeches to the school. Instead of a boring talk about studying or whatever, there was my partner in crime on stage, hamming it up with his rendition of Romeo. We had come to near the end of the play, the famous scene where Romeo believes that Juliet was dead. Mary was lying down on the ground, looking peaceful. Daisuke as Romeo drinks all the liquid from a silver prop goblet. He throws it on the ground, and mutters his final words to the audience.
“O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss…I die…” says Daisuke.
Daisuke gives one final kiss to Mary as he “dies” on stage, and everyone in the auditorium started to burst into tears. All the fangirls waving cardboard cut outs of his face near the front row started to scream.
“Oh! Romeo!!!” pouted a fangirl.
I notice Mary (who was supposed to be “asleep”) was trying very hard not to blush at Daisuke’s kiss. Despite Daisuke being knucklehead, he managed to move the entire school with his performance. I look to Akane next to me and her eyes were watering and she was on the verge of letting loose waterfalls. She pulls out some tissues and blows her nose.
*Sniff* How tragic! If only Romeo knew of the misunderstanding! None of this would happen…
A number of other characters enter the scene to see the aftermath of the tragedy. Now it was Mary’s turn to end the play as Juliet. She wakes up, to see her lover dead on the ground. Mary picks up the deadly weapon that was the goblet and realized what happened. She gets on her knees next to Daisuke lying on the ground, and comes next to his blank face. She leans in and kisses him on the lips, further causing some noise in the auditorium. Daisuke’s face turns a slight pink.
“Thy lips are warm…” she teases.
Finally, Mary as Juliet takes the dagger Romeo was carrying and unsheathes it.
“This is thy sheath…”
Mary “stabs” herself with the dagger, and falls onto Daisuke’s body. A small pool of fake blood forms around her and stains her dress.
“There rust…and let me die…” mutters Mary as she has one final look at her lover. They both lie on the floor holding hands.
The other characters all mourn the loss of the two ill-fated lovers, and begin weeping softly. With Juliet’s death, the play ends with the curtains falling.
“Bravo!!!” clapped Akane who stood up from her chair, still covered with snot and tears from the moving play.
I stand up along with the rest of the student body, and we cheer for the actors, who come up one by one in order of importance. Daisuke appears along with Mary hand in hand as the last two members. All the members of Class 2-A stand side-to-side on stage, and they give one bow at the same time towards the audience.
If this went perfect, tomorrow’s performance in my world must be the same!
Everybody in the auditorium begins to shuffle out, and I drag Akane out into the sunlight, who was still dazed and in an emotional wreck from the play.
“Promise me Kazuki that you’ll never do that to me!!! Waaahhhh!!!!” as she starts pouting more.
“I promise Akane. You better not give up on me either!” I retort.
We both smile and decide to grab some more crepes before meeting with Daisuke and Mary after they’re done with the play.
“W-We didn’t rehearse that part Daisuke you pervert!” yelled Mary. There were remnants of the fake blood still stained on her skin.
“NGHRNGHRNGHR! Did the special effects team really need that realistic blood?!? It’s so hard to get off!” she complained.
The four of us were tired from the second day of the school festival. It was an exciting day, but we were starting to run out of steam.
“W-Well you didn’t have to kiss me back either!” said Daisuke.
The odd couple stared each other down, until they both realized that they were both lovable idiots. Akane and I just stood by to watch their comedy routine come to a happy ending.
“Daisuke and I are gonna head off. See you guys tomorrow!” said Mary.
The odd couple departs in the other direction home, while Akane and I walk back to my house.
I hold the door open to let Akane in first. As I enter, I see that my dad was home. He was sitting on the couch, slouched and watching a rerun of a late night talk show centered around hero shows, like the Masked Avenger.
“Well…well! I finally meet my daughter!” said dad.
I just realize that this was the first time my dad in this world would be meeting Akane. He’s definitely heard of her from my mother, but I’m sure my dad would leave a weird first impression. The thing was, he was never good at first impressions.
“Oh my…stop it! You’re embarrassing me father…” teased Akane.
The two start to laugh heartily while I try to hide my embarrassment.
“Dad!” I say to him.
“So you’re Akane eh…? Hmm…what did my son do to get a lovely girl like you? Asked my dad.
“Ah ha! You wouldn’t believe it. He’s the boyfriend of my dreams!” replied Akane.
Well, she’s not lying…
My mother interrupts this chat by telling us to get washed up before dinner.
It was the end of the day. My dad tried to have an eating contest on who could finish their plate the quickest, and unsurprisingly we have a new champion in this house. Akane absolutely destroyed my father in what looked like one bite. It was as if she just swallowed everything. We were both in bed now, and it was still quiet. I feel at ease due to what happened today.
Daisuke and Mary’s play went perfectly! That must mean tomorrow will go well too!
“Yeah! See Kazuki, if you just believe in those two, they could do anything!” said Akane.
There was still the weird fortune that was told to me.
The Tower Arcana?
I explain to Akane my fortune reading from earlier. The Tower Arcana according to the fortune teller spelled certain doom for me. But there wasn’t anything I could think of that would happen. If anything, I’m sure the thing would have happened by now.
“It’s probably just a coincidence Kazuki…don’t stress out too much!” said Akane.
“Yeah…you’re probably right. It doesn’t hurt to be careful.”
I’m worry about nothing!
Alright! Tomorrow Operation Maiden’s Heart will have its final mission.