Kanojo no Sukeban
P.E. Was there any other place in the world that was worse? Maybe hell, but then again hell wasn't on Earth. P.E. was it's closest cousin. If there was a worse place Yuuki Togawa didn't know about it. It wasn't because he was forced to participate in physical activities for a grade, or because he wasn't into any kind of sports. No, the reason why his life was a living hell in that class was because of two people: Keiji Takeda and his girlfriend Manatsu Goto.
The contrasts between Yuuki and Keiji were complete opposites. Keiji was a ogre, Yuuki delicate. Keiji was tall, Yuuki was small. Keiji was very athletic, Yuuki wasn't. Keiji had a buzz cut, Yuuki had messy shaggy hair. Keiji was a bully, and Yuuki was the victim. Ever since High School began, Keiji singled Yuuki out as his target, and his girlfriend was always there, apathetic of the torture.
Yuuki hated them both, and depending on the day sometimes the girl over the boy. While Keiji was the head of a group of boys who were all bullies, Manatsu was the same on the other end. Unlike her male counter part, she didn't look like a thuggish troll, even if she wanted too. She had all the ingredients there: she had short blonde hair, dyed and fashioned in a typical girl-delinquent look, had a modified school uniform, and a natural tan… but somehow it seemed fake to Yuuki. If he started to question that deep down Manatsu was really a good person, she'd remind him quickly that she wasn't.
And it was on one Friday that Yuuki found himself in yet another one of those situations. For a large part of the class, Keiji and Manatsu were busy fooling around with each other, oblivious to the world. Usually this meant it was a safe day. So Yuuki thought he'd finish class early and change before their lustful mood disappeared. But no such luck. As he just finished changing, the pair found their way into the boys locker room.
"Ugh, him again." Manatsu groaned. "C'mon, let's go."
Sometimes when Manatsu said these things, Keiji was inclined to go along with them, but not this time. He wasn't as bored as Manatsu was with picking the same person everyday. Yuuki thought that secretly Manatsu wanted to widen her range.
"You're probably skipping class trying to avoid me, huh?" Keiji grinned exposing one of his crooked teeth.
"Why wouldn't I?" Yuuki grumbled. He was going to get picked on anyway. "I don't want everyone to think we're sleeping together."
"I'm starting to think that he doesn't like me, Manatsu-san." Keiji grinned, but gave Yuuki a strong shove into the lockers behind him.
Even though his back was stinging, Yuuki thought it was odd that the rude Keiji used polite honorifics for his girlfriend, who probably was the only one in the world who wouldn't care if he didn't. But he didn't have time to think about that as Keiji was ruffling up his hair roughly.
"Well to be fair, sometimes you are hard to get along with." Manatsu stuck her tongue out. "C'mon, I want to make out some more, and I don't want an audience."
"Let's do that later." Keiji pushed her away.
"Ignoring me for him, huh?" Manatsu raised an eyebrow.
"It's not like that, babe, I got a better idea. I think you and him should exchanged gym clothes."
While Manatsu laughed, Yuuki protested. "No way!"
"Oh, now we have to do it." Manatsu grinned evilly. "Turn around and take off your clothes."
"Like hell I will."
The back of Yuuki's head was slammed into the lockers as a quick punch slammed into his face, cutting his top lip. As if to put an explanation point on the deal, Keiji slapped Yuuki's face upward just before he gave another good punch in the stomach for good measure. Couching, his body on fire from the pain, Yuuki turned his back and stripped as he was told. It was just so cruel how easy it was for Keiji to beat him up. He could feel his top lip throbbing and taste blood in his mouth. Sadly this was a familiar taste.
Moments later Manatsu's gym uniform was thrown his way and he changed into them. It still was warm from her body heat and smelled like her. Even though her scent was appealing, to him it was the worst thing in the world. He glared at his own legs in her shorts with hatred. It was too tight around his groin.
"You can turn around now." Manatsu said in a sing-songy voice that sounded like this was just a fun make-over. Yuuki looked at his clothes on her, a bit tight around the chest but somehow fit.
"Except for the bulge he looks like a girl." Keiji laughed. "The busted lip could be smeared lipstick."
"I bet you like wearing my clothes huh? It's the closest you've ever been to a girl. The indirect body-contact probably has you tingling."
"Damn, if you say it like that, it'll make me jealous." Keiji told her.
"You can touch my body directly." Manatsu winked, then grabbed her smart phone, which Keiji was holding for her. "Let's get a picture. Making memories is so fun."
Keiji laughed at the picture. "This is too good. Take one with the both of us."
He walked over to Yuuki, placed his arm around the other's shoulders, and pantomimed punching him in the face. Manatsu took a few shots and Keiji went and looked at them.
"Well that was fun." Manatsu sighed, starting to pull off Yuuki's shirt.
"Wait. It's not over yet. It's irresponsible for kids to skip P.E. How else are they going to get their exercise?"
"Oh good point."
Yuuki shook his head. But Keiji grabbed his shirt and pushed him out the locker room.
"Hey be careful with that shirt." Manatsu protested. "It's mine, remember."
"Oh yeah, sorry."
And so Keiji pushed Yuuki out of the locker room then paraded him around, forcing him to run track so everyone could see it. There were a few laughs from the boys, but mostly the laughs came from them being glad it wasn't them. Not one of them looked sorry for Yuuki, nor did they intend to help. The girls on the other hand either looked insulted or had pity. However none of them were going to protest with Manatsu around. The spectacle only ended when the P.E. Teacher woke up from his nap and noticed what was going on. After a good laugh, he put a stop to it.
"Damn it, Togawa… letting those two pick on you again. You really need a backbone. Takeda and Goto, apologize."
That was the punishment. That always was the punishment. The P.E. teacher liked Keiji and often let him get away with nonsense like this. The two gave fake apologizes and the P.E. Teacher went back to his nap. As an encore, Keiji forced Yuuki to take off his girlfriends uniform in view of everyone and return to the locker room. The boys continued to laugh, this time even a few of the girls joined in. Manatsu yawned and looked bored the whole time just to rub it in. When he returned to the locker room, he saw that his normal clothes, the ones he was forced to change out of, were laying in a puddle of water. That was Keiji's doing.
Ringing out his clothes the best he could, Yuuki had to spend the rest of the day in a damp uniform. No one took pity on him, except for his childhood friend Nodoka Odo. But even she didn't protest, which pained Yuuki but he understood why she couldn't. Although he'd never say it, he secretly liked her. He wouldn't admit it for fear of ruining their friendship. But he couldn't see a cute girl like her falling for a wimp like him any time soon.
Nodoka could only gave Yuuki her usual sympathetic looks, but didn't voice her concerns. While Keiji wasn't in the same homeroom as Yuuki, Manatsu was also, and all the girls feared her. She too didn't want to be bullied, so she usually kept her feelings on Yuuki's treatment out of earshot of Manatsu. But as soon as the blonde was gone, like a good friend Nodoka would break into a tirade of color language. Yuuki couldn't blame her for her caution.
In order to cope with his torment, Yuuki turned to poetry. Writing was an outlet of all the things he couldn't say in the real world. He did this in all aspects of his life. He'd write about how he missed his parents, or how he wished Nodoka would see him as more than a friend. But the most frequent topic was Keiji and his bullying. Little poems of revenge often made him calm down after these sessions, and as soon as Nodoka turned around, Yuuki took out his poetry notebook and started writing.
After class had ended, Manatsu left before cleaning. She didn't return his P.E. clothes. Somehow Yuuki expected as much. As soon as she was gone, Nodoka ranted and raved over how cruel Manatsu was, but as far as everyone else was concerned he was the plague. No one talked to him, or even looked at him. It was as if they were scared Manatsu would come back and catch them. Part of him understood. If he didn't have the courage to stand up to the power couple, then no one else should be expected too.
"You shouldn't let them pick you like that, Yuuki-kun." Nodoka told him. She could say that but she never stood up for herself either.
"I wish I could. But there's no way I can take Takeda in a fight. He'd just get mad and beat me up even worse."
Nodoka sighed heavily. "I just… I just hate seeing you being picked on so much."
"I nearly cried when you had to wear that girl's winter uniform that time. I wonder why he constantly puts you in drag?"
"I really wish you could forget about that." Yuuki groaned. Of all the things to remember, Nodoka always brought up the most embarrassing things.
After cleaning, Yuuki said his goodbyes to Nodoka and started on his way home. He felt slightly ashamed of himself, admiring her in secret. She was the only friend he had and he didn't want to lose her. If she ever found out that sometimes he looked at her body in more than just a friend then there would be some problems. But her smile was enchanting to him. He had even written poetry about it.
As Yuuki walked home, a breeze was blowing. With a wet uniform he was freezing. A cold chill when down his back when he looked head and it had nothing to do with his uniform. Unsurprisingly, he saw Manatsu on her way home as well. This wasn't an odd thing. Occasionally he would see her going the same path, which meant she lived in the area. But once out of school she rarely acknowledged him. She usually was on her phone or listening to music. Sometimes he hoped she could feel his angry glares he drilled into her. Then again if she could, she'd probably just beat him up. But that was a fantasy, he knew he didn't exist in her world.
As a new gust of breeze blew into him, Yuuki shivered. The weather was getting cooler as the sun started to set, Even if he was going to get punched he decided he'd ask Manatsu for his gym clothes back. He doubted she'd give it back but if she did he could change into it at the Internet Cafe ahead. It wouldn't be the warmest thing in the world, but it had to be better than his wet clothes. Wrestling up all the courage he had Yuuki caught up to her, feeling that the idea was probably a dumb one.
"Ugh, it's you." Manatsu gave her usual charming greeting. "Are you following me, or something?"
"I just want my gym clothes back."
"Do you?" Manatsu scratched the side of her nose. "Must be freezing in those wet clothes."
"Please let me have them back."
Manatsu stopped and sighed. "Whatever." She bent down and looked into her bag, pulling them out. "Here."
"Thanks." Yuuki took them, honestly surprised she gave them up without a fight.
"Bye." She stood back up and walked off without a care in the world.
He wished she ignored him at school as much as she did outside. It was Keiji who seemed to have the problem with him, she just went along with it. But even while he thought about that, he reminded himself that every time he got soft on Manatsu, she'd do something to him on her own. Taking those photos of him in wearing her gym shorts for instance.
As planned, he went into the Internet Cafe to change his clothes. It felt good to get out of them, the uniform was semi-drying and was starting to rub him raw. He placed it in a plastic bag, and started to leave the shop. But there she was again. Manatsu Goto. He didn't see her when he came in, but then again all he was looking for was the toilet. She was at one of the cafe's laptops looking completely bored.
Yuuki wanted to rush pass her and head home, but his curiosity took ahold of him. In the past he often saw Manatsu use her very expensive smart phone to check all her social interaction, so it seemed strange that she wasn't using that. He knew she had it with her earlier in the day. Her going to an Internet Cafe didn't add up. He stuck around out sight and watched her, trying to see what she was doing. It looked like email, which again baffled him.
All of a sudden she yawned, stretched, and closed the cafe's laptop she was working on. Yuuki saw she hadn't logged out. She just shut it off. Even if she turned off the computer, all that information was still logged in. Once someone tried the same email site they'd probably end up at her account. It wasn't a guarantee, but it was a possibility.
"What an idiot." Yuuki whispered to himself. But what did he expect from a stupid flunky of a idiot bully?
Manatsu stood up, pushed the chair under the table, picked up her bag and left. As she walked out of the cafe, she still had that air of nonchalantness about her that she always had. Yuuki watched her leave, his eyes lingering on her long tan legs momentary because he returned back to reality.
Taking no chances, he swooped over to the table she was using and opened her laptop before anyone else could. He took a moment and stared at the desktop, wondering what he was doing. Should he really be doing this? It didn't hurt to at least see if he was right. He typed in the email address for the same site Manatsu used. Sure enough he was on her account. The computer hadn't logged her out.