The Sanada House stood ahead of the pair, a great sentinel in the street that seemed to Masumi to be a dragon. But to his right was somebody who was willing to face it anyway, and the made her his Knight. The idea made him smile, but not more than the hand that squeezed his and the smirk that she shot his way.
“Come on. Let’s talk to them.” Yui urged. Masumi nodded and shuffled ahead to the front door. He slipped in his key, turned it, took a deep breath, then pushed it open. He could hear some faint music playing in the living room, as he walked inside to take off his shoes. He turned to wave Yui in, but she was already beside him. She hesitated with pulling her coat off, then shrugged and hung it up by the door.
They walked through to the living room, with Masumi just ahead of the tall girl. Fujiko and Hideki were there, his mother sitting on the chair with a book in her hand and her father on the floor with a puzzle cube in his. They both looked up at the new arrivals, with equal surprise in their eyes.
“H-Hi.” Masumi managed to stammer out, as Yui slipped by him and sat on the couch. “Yui has come to visit.” He said, then hurried over to join her on the other seat on the couch. It always felt odd to look down on his father, but this time especially.
“Well, hello, Shiro.” Fujiko said, as the girl got comfortable on the couch. She gently put her book to the side. “How are you?”
“To be honest, Mrs Sanada, I’m not very good at all.” Yui sighed softly. “I’ve been very frustrated recently and nobody’s been able to help me with the issue. I don’t know many parents and I was wondering whether you two would be able to help me with this problem.” She smiled politely between the pair. Masumi could see her teeth.
“We’d certainly be happy to help.” Fujiko nodded, as Hideki mused over his puzzle box for a moment, made one last move, then balanced it on a table. “Would you like something to drink first?”
“No, thank you, Mrs Sanada.” Yui bowed her head to the woman. “My problem is that my boyfriend has been forbidden to do what he loves by a pair of particularly foolish parents. Some might say cruelly, though I wouldn’t dare say that to their faces. You see, he’s an entertainer, and part of that involves dressing up like a girl.” The air in the room suddenly became a lot more dense, and Fujiko’s gaze became fixed on the young woman.
“But they wouldn’t listen to him, not for even a moment.” Yui shrugged. “It’s dreadful, when you think about it. What kind of parents would see their child being happy, making an effort for himself and his future, then go and forbid him from doing it because they’re scared of how it reflects on them?”
“I see.” Fujiko leaned forward in her chair and Masumi felt like his heart might sink. But something about having Yui beside him kept it afloat. “So you’ve come to our home to insult us, Shiro. That’s what it sounds like to me.”
“And me.” Hideki nodded.
“No, you have done that quite well yourselves.” Yui crossed her legs where she sat. “I put it to the two of you that what you’ve decided for Masumi is wrong. It’s wrong by moral, personal, and parenting standards. Let me see...one of the issues was that you were worried about how it would reflect on you, is it not?”
“This is none of your business.” Fujiko said. “Masumi is our son and it is our job to decide what he is best for.”
“And you have decided that he is best for the kind of menial drudge work that nobody is happy doing.” Yui nodded. “You would rather that he keep his head down and accomplish the bare basics of what’s expected of a child in Japan. You were happy for him to become a streamer when all he was doing was playing games – which was a good idea, and would have been one, if you hadn’t stopped as soon as you saw something unusual and panicked.”
“It is not so-”
“I’m not finished.” Yui said, firmly, and Fujiko’s mouth hung agape. “There is nothing so unusual about dressing up as Masumi does, and those that would raise concerns could easily be dismissed. What is Masumi doing, if not Onnagata for the modern age? Would you complain about somebody spearheading bringing traditional Japanese entertainment for today’s youth? What about the maid cafes that feature similar boys, offshoots of our Host and Hostess Clubs? Would you say that those who participate in such things are insults to their parents?”
“No.” Hideki shook his head.
“But that’s not the same thing at all.” Fujiko said. “Masumi is in no place to turn it into something like that. Perhaps eventually, he could, but not when he’s just a boy.”
“The person in place to accomplish anything is the one who’s willing to do it, Mrs Sanada. Japan was built on pride, and honor, and dedication, and you have shown none of that in your judgment of your own son. You are not proud of what he’s done already, you do not approve of the dedication it took for him to last so long and master his craft, and you show absolutely no honor in your actions. You are sacrificing your son’s future out of fear, and that is something nobody would approve of.”
Fujiko pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes at Yui. “Protecting our family’s name is something everyone would approve of. That is what we were doing.”
“If that is what protecting your family’s name is, then it should be Craven, not Sanada. Because that is exactly what what you’ve done is – cowardice. You saw something that worried you, instantly condemned it, and doomed Masumi to a miserable life. You might think that he could get by anyway. You might think that he’ll be happier without doing it. You might think that you’re sparing him from bullying, or failure, but that is not what you’ve done.”
“You’ve made him a mess.” Yui said. “You made him cry. You made it so that he doesn’t even enjoy cooking or dancing. For no reason, but your own damned pride. And what a waste that is, don’t you think? Sixteen years of raising him, caring for him, and you’re going to throw away the beautiful person you’ve created thanks to a moment of cowardice. Not just your time, but the time of the teachers who’ve taught him and the doctors who’ve cared for him. One day, they’d be able to see Masumi’s success and be proud of it. With what you want, they would not even remember his name. Do you think that’s fair to them?”
Fujiko looked to Hideki, who looked to Masumi, then back to Yui. “What does it matter what everyone else thinks? It’s not right for a boy to do.”
“Why?” Yui asked, and let the question hang.
“Girls wear girls’ clothes.”
“Stop that!” Fujiko snapped at Yui.
“I’ll stop it when you say something reasonable.” Yui said. “But it’s weird and I don’t like it is not reasonable. There’s no reason to that, it’s just a gut instinct. The fact of the matter is that Masumi crossdressing does not hurt anyone – it does not hurt his parents, it does not hurt his friends, and it does not hurt his teachers. I think I’ve established that, haven’t I?”
“Yes.” Hideki nodded.
“Here’s what it does do – it gives him the confidence to interact with people, to get past his shyness and grow as a person. It helps him perform, establish a persona, and entertain people – which he desperately wants to do. It helps him like his body more, when he puts on the makeup he wants to and the clothes that he wants to. It helps Masumi to feel like Masumi, instead of just another person, and most importantly of all, it makes him happy. Just that, just happy. That should be enough for any parent.”
Fujiko and Hideki shared a long look and the music filled the room. Masumi was staring at Yui, who was watching his parents like they were a painting. He dared to hope, just for a few moments.
“What would your parents think?” Fujiko eventually said.
“I don’t know. My parents are dead, Mrs Sanada.” Yui said, and the words struck both of his parents like a blade. “They have been since I was a little girl. What I do know is that they missed out on the chance to raise me, to care for me, to be there when things got tough and help me grow into the kind of person they would be proud of. They were robbed of that chance, and I know that it hurts them as much as it hurts me.”
“That’s why what you’re doing to Masumi makes me so very upset.” Yui said. “You have the opportunity that my parents never did, and you’re making the choice to throw it away like it means nothing. Not everyone is as lucky so lucky as you, Mr and Mrs Sanada. Not everyone gets the chance to make these choices. And it saddens me so much to see you making the wrong one.”
Fujiko nodded slowly and looked to Hideki. “I...think we may have been hasty in our decision.” She said, and Hideki nodded. “It’s...not fair that we should...well, regardless, Masumi, you can have your clothes back.” She said, and Masumi felt like his heart might flutter right out of his throat. “You can start streaming again whenever you’d like, have your allowance, the whole thing. Just make sure you do it safely and that will be enough for us.”
“R-Really?” Masumi spoke, the words coming out clumsily as he had not expected to speak so soon.
“Really.” Hideki said.
The smile that spread across Masumi’s face could have lit up the depths of the Earth. “Thank you!” He said, as he wrapped his arms tightly around Yui and nuzzled into her neck. The other girl laughed and hugged him back, squeezing his slender body against hers until the overwhelming emotions had been squeezed out of the pair of them. The boy got to his feet, looked to both his parents, and bowed to them. “And thank you. I-I’m going to do my best.”
“That’s...all we can ask for.” Fujiko said, her eyes having softened after she saw the hug that he and Yui shared. “But there is one more thing that I’m curious about. Yui, at the start, you mentioned that the boy you were worried about was your boyfriend. Is that the case?”
Yui stood up as well, and their eyes met at equal heights. “It is. I should warn you, I have a speech prepared for that, as well.”
Hdeki chuckled and Fujiko rolled her eyes at the man. “That won’t be needed, but I like your forethought, I suppose. But please don’t get up to any...funny business. You’re far too young for that.”
“I’ll do my best.” Yui nodded.
“Uh, me too.” Masumi did the same.
“Good.” Fujiko nodded. “The clothes are in our room, Masumi. I suppose that we’ll get started on dinner, since you’ll probably be busy?”
“Um, yeah. I-I want to get changed into one of my outfits ‘cause it’s been too long and I’m kinda nervous about it, so, um, yeah.” He bobbed his head. “Is that okay?”
“That’s fine. Off you go.”
That was all the instruction they needed, and the pair hurried up the stairs as fast as their feet could take them.