A/N: Here it is; final chapter. It's a long chapter mind you, so strap in readers for one last ride with Narumi. This chapter focuses more on Narumi rather than following the traditional structure of the other chapters. If you've stuck with the story from the beginning, I whole heartedly thank you for your patience in the updates and readership. If you're just joining in, well you maybe a tad lost as to the characters but should be able to get the general gist of the story :). Hopefully you all enjoy! Thanks for reading and always am open to respectful criticism. Enjoy!
Chapter 7: The Bright Star
Narumi shuts the door to her locker taking a look at the mirror to her side. She takes note of her once shoulder length hair to have grown out down to her back in the one and a half months she has spent here, 'Not only is it my attitude but also my physical appearance that has changed. Attitude towards being more positive than I already was in life while appearance in the sense of maturity, though I suppose that childish side I've is still inside of me. Such a side to my personality is something I cherish so much.'
Yet she finds herself feeling a little uncertain about her feelings, 'I'm who I'm, always perceived as the cheery girl, the optimistic one always looking for the better in others and the situations I'm in, but even with all that who am I really? What type of path lies before me that is layered under a blur? Without knowing the type of person I'm how can I ever truly be able to contribute to this world? Without knowing who I'm, I'm like a little lamb finding herself lost in the wide and desolate grassy fields, alone and enduring to survive. Without knowing who I'm, where do I belong?'
Narumi puts on her maid cap neatly only to then find it tilting as she rests her head against the mirror. Staring deeply into her own eyes she sees nothing, no answers to the questions she desperately wishes to answer, 'Some say that looking at yourself in the mirror can give you the push to finding that answer within yourself. Yet when I stare at myself here I see nothing but a shell, one that houses me down to into this world, where it's a world full of problems, complications and uncertainty. Yes uncertainties we all must go through in our life journey, namely who am I exactly?'
Suddenly her vision blurs with a bright light blinding her for a moment. The walls around her begin to lose their color, 'What's going on?!' only to then quickly regain it. Another blinding blink of the light clears her vision as she falls on her knees gripping her head tightly. Her moment of panic passes and yet within a matter of seconds she is exceptionally calm, 'No doubt Yume-san's influence…but what was that all about?' she wonders slowly picking herself up.
Gently placing her hand on the walls to confirm if she is still here within the shop she smoothers it. According to Miko the café will physically display any emotions one might feel if they rest their hand on the walls long enough. It is also a method for the others to know they're still within the café, that they're still where they perhaps feel most at peace. The wall begins to transform from its beige color scheme to a dark grey. Narumi smirks a little, "Looks like Miko-san was right, even the shop knows of my feelings. I tread in a grey territory in which I'm unable to find my way out of right now. I tread in a territory of uncertainty."
The wall then begins to engrave a few letters onto itself, "To feel uncertain is to feel human." Narumi reads out in a whisper, 'Trying to comfort me?' she wonders retrieving her hand and the wall begins to change back to normal. Narumi lets out a long sigh, 'Lately I've been having a lot of these moments, can't be very good for those around me to put up with me like this. That's right, gotta cheer up girl! You're supposed to be the strong one to help the customers out! Work! Work! Work!'
"There you're Narumi-chan hehehe," Rukia bursts in through the door holding the voodoo doll for Narumi, "today you're going to be my test subj-I mean play mate."
"Do you mean I'm going to be observing you work today Rukia-san?" Narumi asks sliding away a bit not because of the purple haired maid but the object of her fascination at the current moment in her hands.
"Exactly, how about that needle bed I promised you on your first day here? No one is here so may as well kill some time."
"No thanks, I'm good." Narumi instantly replies feeling all color drain out of her face, 'Why must it be Rukia-san? Why?! What god out there is so cruel enough to have me endure this torture?!'
"Hehehe time to play Narumi-chan…" Rukia moves in closer only for Narumi to notice she has nowhere else to run to now. In her panic she points to a random spacing hinting for Rukia to look, "Huh? What's over there?" and turning back Rukia sees her subject missing. Slumping her shoulders she walks out of the room at a snail's pace.
'Finally free.' Narumi ponders coming out of one of the free lockers, though for how long is the question.
'Eh what's this?' she wonders suddenly feeling her muscles flex in her arm. It starts moving about wildly as she narrowly dodges hitting the sides of the locker. Bursting out of her space she takes a tight hold of her flailing arm with her free one. Suddenly her arm acting up begins to pull itself with a mighty supernatural strength out the locker room with Narumi struggling to stop. Alas her efforts are in vain as the perpetrator stands before her, the masked freak maid.
"I should've known this was your doing Rukia-san!" Narumi complains still trying to stop her arm from pulling her any further. Rukia opens her arms wide, "Let's play!"
And quickly Rukia meets a punch to the face by the flailing arm. Standing still like a concrete wall she soon begins to shake apart, 'It couldn't have hurt that much right?' Narumi ponders looking at the little cuddled up ball on the floor.
"Um…Rukia-san, are you alright?"
Suddenly she gets up giving a thumbs up, "I'm a-okay!" says Rukia as her nose begins to bleed.
"O-oh good." Narumi simply replies with a smile slowly backing away. Yet this time she finds her feet frozen, quickly looking towards Rukia she notices her look alike doll being manipulated to walk towards the puppet master.
"T-that's no fair Rukia-san, using all these supernatural powers!"
"It's not me, it's just the shop's doing."
"What do you mean?!" Narumi demands an answer all the while trying to hold her legs still.
"Well this shop once you know how to control certain aspects of it can be put to rather amusing uses. For example the use I'm putting it to right now to convince you to use my needle bed."
"No! Absolutely not!" Narumi shakes her head vigorously.
"Ah that's too bad…even after I spent so much time making it extra comfy for you by adding not just injection needles but rusty nails as well."
"Get away from me you sadist freak!" Narumi shouts in a pout fighting a losing battle as her march continues.
'Safe!' Narumi perks her head up instantly towards the direction of the store's entrance. Rukia looks displeased at the intrusion as with a sigh she undoes the curse on Narumi's look alike doll. Heading downstairs they both go to greet the guest; however Narumi always remains a few steps behind.
'Wouldn't want to make it too easy seeing as how you're probably still out to get me Rukia-san.' Narumi thinks.
Rukia suddenly stops noticing the figure at the doorsteps; it was a young boy with dark blue hair. Sharp jaw line and dark blue eyes just like Rukia's. Though one striking resemblance the two share is a surgical mask. Although the colors are different alongside varying designs, most curious Narumi would ponder whether this is a coincidence or a deeper connection at work here? Narumi then fixates her thoughts on what Yakouma usually says, 'Everything that is or happens in this world exists for a reason.'
"What are you doing here Ichiro?" Rukia questions as the boy continues to look around curiously.
"So this is where you work Onee-san." he replies.
"Answer the question Ichiro."
"Um…my feet just kind of dragged me here." Ichiro speaks trying to back away but unable to do so. The mysterious voice in his head continues to encourage him to step further inside the shop. Narumi comes in placing a hand on Rukia's shoulder whispering, "Rukia-san, if he came here with no control over his actions then it must mean he came here with a problem."
"My brother having problems? Please he is a moron, morons don't have problems." Rukia replies crossing her arms and tapping her feet expecting for the boy to leave already.
"Isn't that a little too harsh Rukia-san?" Narumi tries to calm her co-worker down putting on her brightest smile.
"His IQ level is below a monkey's. A monkey could solve math problems better than him, no wonder he started becoming a recluse and a freak to top it off." Rukia denotes with Narumi thinking, 'But aren't you a freak yourself?'
"Come on sis, don't be like that to your cute younger brother." he begs with puppy eyes.
"You know that won't work on me, and cute my ass!" Rukia replies.
"You're right, your ass is cute." he replies smugly only to cower away into a dark corner as Rukia takes out her scissors.
"What was that comment about my butt you sis con?!"
"No comment about your butt mam! No comments from this moron here."
"Is your whole family like this Rukia-san? I mean wearing masks." Narumi asks curious to find out what sort of environment these two must live in. Rukia spends a few minutes thinking about this, "Well I would say it is. Our mom tends to wear a biker gang bandana over her face and our dad for whatever reason wears a hockey mask over his face, pretty normal family I would say."
'There is nothing normal about that!' Narumi retorts in her own thoughts, turning to Ichiro she thinks to move on as they would get nowhere just standing here. Bowing down she welcomes him, "Welcome sir to the "Bathhouse Café: New Life", we would be pleased to serve you for the duration of your stay. Would you like to enjoy a meal in our café or perhaps relax in our bathhouse area?"
"Question maid-san, what is going on here?" he asks pointing down to his feet.
"That is something that happens to every customer that is brought to this shop. When someone has a problem, if they're picked they're then guided here by a voice that takes control of their legs. Walking them along to this desolate area they find this shop and enter to gain a new life." Narumi explains motioning for him to enter and follow her.
"Ah but I d-" and before he could finish Rukia gives him a little push from the back, "Just get it over with."
"O-okay…I suppose I could go for the bath." Ichiro decides as Narumi guides the way to the bathhouse. Taking a key to one of the rooms she guides him to the locker room. Allowing for him to change she goes to grab a menu while Rukia is left to wonder what problem her brother could possibly have, 'She may pretend to not care but in reality she totally does.' Narumi smiles at seeing a caring side to Rukia.
Walking back into the bathhouse area she knocks on the door before entering. Getting confirmation he is inside, Narumi slides open the door and notices the steam to have filled the room with little visibility possible now. Simply looking at the ground she makes her way over to the side and places the menu down asking for him to choose a drink if he desires one. He simply refuses her offer kindly all the while curious to what they really do here.
"Say Onee-san, what do you do here seeing as how this bathhouse café is basically is in the middle of nowhere in Akihabha?"
"We don't deal with idiots like you is one thing what we do here." she replies right away, a bullet right to Ichiro's heart!
"Onee-san is too cruel sometimes…"
"Well you're too stupid all the time." she shoots another one through his heart! He lies down to the side of the bath nearly unconscious, the torture, the verbal abuse…it was too much for this young man! No, he realizes he must take it to become stronger! He must take it to show his sister how much of a man he is! He looks up with sharp eyes surprising Rukia, 'S-such confidence…'
'That's right Onee-san; I'll never give up chasing you until I hear those wedding bells. I shall completely conquer your heart mwhahaha!' he monologues all the while smiling quite creepily. Narumi slides a little further back, 'Please stop smiling like that Ichiro-san, you kind of look like a pervert.' Narumi wishes hiding behind Rukia.
"But you must surely do some other things here aside from dealing with idio- I mean stunningly handsome men like me."
"The normal maid stuff." she replies.
"Not too keen on letting me in on your job now are we? Don't worry for once I've conquered that landscape of yours sis, you'll reveal every juicy detail there is."
"Pervert!" Rukia shouts.
Arrow to the heart!
A bullet to the head!
And a kick to his groin! Wait, that one was actually real as Rukia holds out his look alike doll. Narumi simply wonders, 'How many do you carry with you?!'
"D-don't worry…this is nothing. My family jewels will survive all the torture you can dish out on me." he speaks slowly recovering his strength. Rukia moves to bash the doll's head in with a hammer only to be interrupted by Narumi quickly, "Heheh let's just get on with your visit shall we Ichiro san?"
"I don't know why I'm here. I have no problems in life as it is completely fantastic!" he replies with a confident thumb up.
"See I told you Narumi-chan, morons have no problems in life."
"Surely he must face the normal problems of a normal person from time to time at least."
"To a moron, everything is brightened up around him, hence no problems in life. Trust me; it is a mystery that baffles me to this day as well." Rukia replies shaking her head in frustration.
'It shouldn't though considering how you both live under the same roof…and share quite a few similarities. Although I now know that Ichiro-san is a masochist while Rukia-san is a major sadist. What a great combo, a great couple.' Narumi concludes trying to maintain her smile. Yet at the back of her mind all she can think of is, 'I gotta get out of here!'
"Anyways, clean yourself up and get out of here." Rukia scoffs causing him to turn his back to her. He fidgets a little as the two maids look at one another, "Um…does he normally get like this Rukia-chan?"
"No…this is the first time I'm seeing him fidget this much. He normally does this when he has something to ask me but never have I before seen this level of fidgeting."
"Then why not ask him what he wants of you?" Narumi whispers as Ichiro's ears quickly pick up on her words, he turns around puppy eyed. Rukia takes note letting out a sigh, "What do you want you degenerate?" she inquires.
'Degenerate? I guess I know Rukia-san's weakness now. Whenever she gets too much for me to handle, simply mention her brother's name and some twisted fantasy between the two of them that he would no doubt enjoy.' Narumi subtly smirks at the thought trying her hardest to hold back her laughter; a new found power has made its way to this young maid!
Though Ichiro looks at her in pleasure, "Onee-san called me a d-d-degenerate. How beautiful you look saying that."
"I-idiot!" Rukia shouts back stabbing a nail on Ichiro's dolls head. Suddenly blood spurts out of his mouth, "Don't worry, this is nothing. Such a menial level technique is not enough to defeat the almighty Ichiro! I'm after all your future conqueror sis!"
'Should you really be saying that with so much blood loss?!' Narumi ponders looking at the bath dampened in red.
"Now my loving older sister, please scrub my back and be sure to lay your chest real tight on there!" he requests pointing to his broad back.
'These siblings…they've no shame. How much more of this can I take? How long can I survive here? I gotta get out of here!' and yet Narumi is tormented by the fact that this is her job, and thus she cannot leave. That was it; a nerve pops out on Rukia's forehead as she throws a brick at her brother's face.
"No! Anything but this face! For this is my ultimate attack to entrap you in the end!" he shouts blocking the brick with his arms.
Narumi has finally had it. The ground she stomped her feet upon lies indented, Rukia backs away from the scary monster in her eyes. The monster is covered in darkness, claws on her hands, pure red eyes and sharp teeth while breathing out a white mist. The illusion begins to clear up, 'Another one of the shop's doing…Narumi-chan really does take things to the extreme whenever the shop affects her somehow.'
"Now that I've your attention, no more torture while I'm here! We're here to solve your problem Ichiro-san and that's what we're going to do!" Narumi dictates folding her arms in front of her.
'The way she is talking and standing right now sounds like my kindergarten teacher.' Ichiro contemplates remembering his teacher's face alongside certain other regions he got a peek of sneakily and concludes with a small nosebleed, 'She is still as beautiful as ever.'
Narumi then notices a rather disturbing look on Ichiro's face; he was in deep thought all the while drooling as he looks into her eyes. She backs away a bit with Rukia suddenly stepping in, "Don't worry Narumi-chan! As your sempai I shall protect you from his stupidity!"
Suddenly he shakes his head remembering, 'That's right, I can't let myself be side tracked like this as Onee-san is the only one for me.'
"So let's try this again Ichiro-san, what would your problem happen to be that guided you here to us?" Narumi persists on knowing, a rather unusual approach for her as she always let the customers discuss it in their own time. However this time she feels she needs to be aggressive. He looks at her questionably and replies, "Like I said, life is great! No problems on my end, how about you maid-san?"
'He really is a moron.' Narumi concludes letting her head fall down in defeat. Rukia appears behind her tapping her on her shoulders with encouragement. Narumi looks up knowing her sempai cares only to then find her body slowly starting to move on its own again towards a needle bed that appears out of nowhere, "I'm confiscating this!" Narumi retorts snatching the doll from Rukia.
"Meanie…" Rukia replies down in the dumps.
"And you, let's discuss just how happy your world is so I can find a sliver of a problem in there and solve it with you!" Narumi shouts pointing at Ichiro.
"Strange one you are. Normally people don't want to look for problems, why would you want to?"
"Like I already said- you know what never mind, let's just do it!"
"O-okay mam!" he replies backing away as Narumi approaches with a knife in her hand, "You finally obey, good boy. Here, have a treat!" she throws him a cookie. Nibbling on his cookie he takes a quick peek at Narumi from the side of his eyes speaking softly, "Um excuse me scary mam but you seem a little agitated."
'Obviously it would be because of you.' Narumi thinks, oh how she yearns to say that out loud but manners dictate otherwise.
"Now that he mentions it," Rukia begins earning a look of confusion from Narumi, "you have been giving off a vibe of turmoil."
"I don't know what you really mean." Narumi replies brushing off the questions, looking away from the two the siblings grin under their masks.
"You're a terrible liar Narumi-chan." Rukia moves in close poking at her cheeks. Narumi takes a holds of Rukia's handing bringing the knife over, "Okay I'm sorry!" Rukia shouts with her eyes wide and teary.
"But Narumi-chan," Rukia again slips in behind the young maid, "weren't you looking at yourself in the mirror quite deeply before?"
'She saw that?!' Narumi wonders immediately turning around, 'Bingo.' thinks Rukia.
"S-so what if I was?"
"What did the mirror show you? Or rather what did you wish to see?"
"I don't follow."
"The mirror like any other part of this shop is a being of the supernatural. It has the power to show your heart's deepest desires, but it can also show you what you want to see. I guess the mirror can play pranks on you that way but at the same time remain truthful to your desires. What did you see?" Rukia inquires explaining the mirror's function.
"Why is this about me all of a sudden?" Narumi asks defensively backing away from the siblings.
"Well because my moronic brother here has no clue as to what his problem is, but you have one so we may as well do our job and treat someone's problem while we're here." Rukia reasons, while stepping on Ichiro's doll.
"The delicious torture…ooohhhggh." he groans in pleasure.
Narumi takes this opportunity to sneak on out of the room, 'Stealth mode!'
Rukia looks around once she finishes torturing Ichiro doll, "She got away." says Rukia in a rather mellow voice. Ichiro notices just the two of them in the room and pumps his fist down, 'Time to make a man out of myself!' and begins to move closer to Rukia perversely.
Holding his crotch he falls to the ground, a scream barely hearable escapes him, "Owieee…" and Rukia looks back at her brother shouting, "Pervert!"
"P-please be gentle, this is my first time." he speaks blushing.
"F-first time? Gah you are a bigger pervert than I imagined!" and Rukia stamps hard on the doll's crotch. Ichiro's mind goes to Disney land, the delicious pain and at the same time the worry.
"Not the family jewels!"
Narumi makes her way upstairs breathing a sigh of relief, 'Finally out of that nutty situation.'
"Oh Narumi-chan!" Yakouma calls out sending instant shivers down her spine. Slowly turning around she notices the giant man behind her, "Can I help you Yakouma-san?"
"Why aren't you downstairs helping our guest?" he inquires in his exaggerated and at the same time somewhat whimsical voice.
"Well you see things kind of got out of hand." she muses playing with her fingers. He rubs his moustache in fascination, "How interesting, tell me more inside, we can talk it over a good old cup of tea."
Gulping Narumi wonders the talk that awaits her. Sitting down inside the office, the two look at one another in silence, 'This is kind of like those awkward moments you get between future lovers or something, kind of like in the movies.' Yakouma ponders only to remember, 'That's right, I'm into guys so she is out of the picture. I must remain faithful to the stunning men out there!'
Knocking on the door, Aiko enters with two freshly brewed cups of tea. Setting them down as slow as possible she takes her leave.
BAM! Down she goes on the ground.
'Aiko-chan is wearing yellow today, how bright.' Yakouma thinks with a perverse smile on his face.
'No doubt he is thinking of something perverted.' Narumi concludes noticing Aiko running of in tears shouting, "Now I can't marry!"
Another awkward silence settles as the two take a sip out of the tea. Clearing his throat he takes notice of some sense of uncertainty within Narumi, the shop tells him so. His mind's eye shows him a lost child in a space full of adults, this child trying to find their way that will guide them to a better escape. That escape being about who they are so they too can migrate to being an adult and walk the floor equally with everyone else. He puts down the tea cup crossing his arms, 'So that's what this is about, the tables turned down there on you Narumi-chan didn't they?'
Narumi could feel the strength behind Yakouma's stare, it was like he was staring right into her mind and decoding her bit by bit. She looks away only to feel compelled in looking back, "Why not say it Narumi-chan? You are at a desperate stand still in which you don't know what to do now. You're yearning for the answers to who you exactly are, the type of person you exactly are."
Narumi remains quiet, speechless that Yakouma knew her so well; or rather the shop knew her so well. She looks down at her hands uncomfortably, "Aren't we all desperate to figure out who we are? Why we exist here in this world that does nothing to contribute to the universe but only within our set human society?"
'Looks like you're finally in the mood to talk.' Yakouma ponders happy that she is opening up to him. He nods his head in agreement to her statement, "But if we choose to live in this society, then we must be able to adapt and overcome challenges in life. We all want to find out who we're to help further expand our self knowledge, to be able to stand on a different plane of understanding compared to others. Questions like who we are and why we're here on this planet are some of the greatest unsolved mysteries because these questions have no set answers. The answers to these questions all depend on our own knowledge and perspective on life. The answer to these questions must come from the inside, where you analyze your life experiences; you make conclusions from them and see different aspects of yourself." he stops to take a sip of his tea.
"Wouldn't that be something immensely difficult for someone with limited life experience?" Narumi questions wondering if what Yakouma tells her is just lip service or the truth, however she too knew that truth to us is only what we choose to believe in ourselves.
"Yes I imagine it would. I didn't even know what I wanted to do or who I really was at your age. I guess I found my true inner self through taking on various different jobs in my youth, talking to different types of people and going on several journeys as a lone traveller. Such a phase of my life helped me discover who I was; your journey will be different as we're all unique that way. However I can only tell you the person I see you as."
'He can give me an answer? Yes! This is what I exactly wanted! No…wait.' suddenly her mind ponders a possibility she doesn't want even think of, "Knowing this…will it mean that I won't be able to see the shop anymore? Will it mean that my days here will end for good?"
"That's up to you. How much will you believe in my answer? How much of my answer will resonate with your mind and heart? How much you will conceive to be the truth? In the end it all depends on you. If you accept my answer and find a certain growth to your knowledge of who you're then most likely yes you'll no longer be able to see the shop. You'll have no longer have the yearnings you once had when you first came to this shop with."
'Do I really want to risk everything I've right now?' introspectively she wonders.
"Keep in mind Narumi-chan, that keeping knowledge from yourself would be a great disservice to your original goals. But do what you think is right as this is your decision to make." Yakouma adds bringing a greater weight to the choices.
'If I do go through with this, I could lo-No! I won't lose the time but simply have it remain in my memories to forever cherish it. I'm stronger than this! I've helped customers that were on the brink of death itself, I've helped others find their way and if I'm a coward to face my own problems then I never deserved to help those people.' Narumi thinks strengthening her resolve.
Yakouma's face turns towards proud feelings, 'She seems to have made up her mind with a strong resolve, I'm glad to have hired someone like you Narumi-chan…though our time may now be short and coming to a close.'
"I'll do it, please tell me." she requests with confidence.
"I like that look Narumi-chan, the look of someone who walks forward in life without fear or regret, keep that look with you and you'll do well in life. Now as I've noticed from your work here, you're…"The Bright Star"." he speaks leaning a tad forward.
"The Bright Star?" she inquires for clarification.
"Yup, someone who is always cheerful and willing to take the challenge head on. Through the dark night it's the bright star that shines illuminating a pathway for those lost in a jungle of feelings. You're a star that will continue to light throughout her whole lifespan, but even when you're gone the people who have been touched by you will forever remember you for your efforts." he explains with a happy smile.
'Bright and cheery. Other people have said that to me before, even Yakouma-san says that so there must be some truth to it. Even I know I'm not the type to easily fall into depression and I always want to face the challenges life throws my way instead of complaining and running away. Perhaps I truly am a bright star.' suddenly Narumi falls to the ground hard, "Ow…what's going on?"
The chair she once sat on is now gone, the surroundings around her were starting to become hazy. Her vision is blurring with her clothes transforming back to her casual clothing. Her eyes widen as Yakouma waves goodbye to her, although barely visible she could see a slightly sad smile on his face, "Thank you for all your hard work to date Narumi-chan. May your journey in life be a fruitful one." he bids his goodbye, a tear rises in her eye shaking her head, 'This is too sudden! I didn't even get time to say goodbye to everyone!'
This is reality, the floor below her starts becoming hollow with the shop losing its color. The walls become see through with Narumi falling through the floor. A mysterious force lands her gently onto the rough ground, the ground the shop still stands upon in the other dimension, however to those walking their paths without problems and without confusion they see nothing.
Looking up at the sky she can only wonder, 'Why did it have to be so sudden? I wanted to meet with everyone else for one last time and say my goodbye…I suppose they had all grown on me in some way.' and the tears are going lose as she covers her eyes from the revealing sun.
Three weeks later.
Narumi gently rests her head over her arms, the bell rings indicating lunch time. Her friends get up walking towards her asking where she would want to eat lunch. She says no, for the last three weeks it's been a no. Her friends look at one another and then back at Narumi; their concern is evident on their faces. Narumi looks away feeling bad for putting her friends through this, at the same time thinking, 'Yakouma-san, remember how you said I was the type to move forward in life with little to no regrets? Well I guess that's one thing that may not have been spot on about me. Even I can succumb to certain depressive conditions of human nature.'
Her friends stay close to her with their vibrant smiles. Narumi can't help but feel tears, 'Everyone there always had smiles on their faces to.' though she holds them back not wanting to worry her friends any more. She notices a group of girls close by in which one hugs the other, 'Yuno-san would do that as well and Miko-san would always be chasing for Yuno-san's affections. They were just like a big sister and a little sister to one another, what a perfect combo.'
"Sorry guys, I think I'm gonna go up to the roof today." Narumi speaks suddenly getting up. Her friends look at her asking if everything was alright, though she could never bear to burden them with these surging feelings, not after the thoughts of positivity they send her way. Narumi simply smiles leaving them behind in the class, walking up to the roof step by step she remembers her routine of entering the shop and walking up towards the locker room.
'Even something as simple as climbing stairs can become so significant in our lives.' she ponders reaching for the cold door handle. Life truly is mysterious in the sense of the things we may sometimes experience and in the way we may experience them. These experiences that help us grow as an individual, one that can either become just another withering life or a change in society, or at the very least a change within our own self. Twisting the door knob she is greeted by a strong gust of wind nearly causing her to fall back as the door swing opens.
Struggling against the wind for a second to get her footing, she clears the hair out of her way looking at the dark grey clouds. Her mouth falls open at the feeling this weather brings, 'The shop always had an outer aura of cool, most of the time it was surrounded by clouds just like this. Heh; thanks a lot Mr. Weather.' she thinks sitting on the concrete and then slowly lying down after looking around quickly.
'You're "The Bright Star"' she contemplates thinking back to the moment where she and Yakouma had talked about the type of person she is.
'You're the type of person to rarely be down, you're the type looking to help cheer up others through any hurdle in their life.' Yakouma's voice echoes in her head.
"Is that just me remembering you Yakouma-san or is it really you?" she wonders in a soft whisper hoping it really was Yakouma. There is no more of Yakouma's voice, "I guess it was just me. How I wish to get that time back at the shop. Even if someone is a bright star, I suppose they're still susceptible to the regret one can have in life. Am I really a bright star? What does that even really entail?"
Suddenly Narumi sits up as her mind realizes something. She slowly stands up softly laughing to herself, 'Just because I'm told that I'm cheery, helpful and a bright star doesn't mean anything if you don't truly discover who you're through your own experiences in life. Having someone else tell you the type of person you're does nothing but give more or less an opinion that person has of you. So…am I back to square one? Am I back to asking just what type of person am I yet again?'
Slowly her laughter dies down; a gust of wind blows her forward towards the fence as she stares out toward the school playing field. Other kids of the school play enthusiastically while some sit on the benches talking amongst themselves. There are some who are studying while others trying to kill time with whatever they could find to do. There are also those no doubt pondering their existence on this planet, in this society seemingly built to be another world apart from Mother Nature. Narumi chuckles at her own helplessness, 'Too bad there isn't Tsune-san, Mikoto-san, Miko-san, Yuno-san, Aiko-san, Rukia-san, Yume-san or Yakouma-san here to help me out with this little problem. I'm a lost little lamb in a large herd walking aimlessly now. When we don't know who we're, what is left of us to live with then? I know I'm cheery, I know I want to help others with their problems and am always the type to look at things positively, but who am I spiritually?'
Getting back from the fence she stares up to see the sunlight piercing through the dark clouds as though a sliver of hope shows itself to her. The warm ray shines down showering her body in the heat. She lies back down wanting to take in the sun's kindness in full breath. Narumi closes her eyes letting out a deep sigh with a soft whisper, "I want to see them all again. I want to know so many things this world has to offer and most of all I want to know who I'm. So won't you please answer my cries? Won't you answer the cries of this lost lamb? Will you please help me find my way back to a more confident path in life? Can you help me find out just who I'm?"
Suddenly her feet twitch. Narumi gets up to study them as they twitch again. She feels as though she is slowly losing control down there, her muscles in that area are becoming numb barely leaving any feeling. A loud echo of a familiar voice pierces her ears through the wind. She quickly covers them letting out a small squeal of annoyance at the pain. Looking around there is no one to be seen in her company, the voice continues to talk in nonsense as she cannot make sense of it. The voice continues to echo, however she realizes it is slowly dying down.
'Hello?' the voice speaks in her head.
Narumi's eyes widen at the clear voice, "This voice is so similar to his…"
'I've heard your cries Narumi-chan and have come to answer them.'
"The way the voice said my name, so similar to him." Narumi contemplates asking, "Is that you Yakouma-san?" in the hopes of her being right.
'So you've noticed Narumi-chan. I'm so relieved to know that, we've been missing you so much Narumi-chan. Ever since you left, things just haven't been the same and I notice you feel as though you're back to square one on your original problem. I don't normally do this with ex-employees, but Narumi-chan will you let us help you?'
"How can I refuse?" she replies feeling tears in her eyes. This is it; this is her chance to see her precious friends yet again.
'Very well, if you would be so kind as to let your feet guide you please.' Yakouma instructs with clear joy in his voice. Narumi smiles letting them give her the guidance to the place that can help her start in solving her issue. Strangely she has forgotten the location of the shop ever since her last day there. She can recall the memories of the place and the people, everything but the location exists in her mind. Now is the time to complete the missing piece of the puzzle as she gladly walks out of the school grounds.
Walking onto the train she patiently rides it to the stop her feet indicate for her to exit at. Exiting she notices she is walking towards a desolate area of Akihabara. Walking in front of an empty lot surrounded by a wooden fence, she suddenly remembers as the shop begins to take shape before her. The curtains for the front door part from one another clearing a way for her, with a smile of gratitude she walks inside.
"Welcome back Narumi-chan!" everyone shouts in unison. She looks around startled at the surprise, the flying confetti falling in her hair as she notices the whole staff present.
"Everyone is here?" she asks unable to find the proper words to greet them all with. This was an unreal feeling in her right now, a feeling of great joy surging from within her.
"Of course everyone would be here silly!" exclaims Miko playfully bumping shoulders. Tsune looks her way and then looks away, even though she may have looked away, Narumi can tell that a smile coats Tsune's face. Yuno moves in closer with snake tongue impatient to get a taste of Narumi, "Narumi-chan! Let Onee-san hug you!"
Yuno gets hit on the head with a mallet as Yume speaks, "Please don't Yuno-san, remember we've to be calm."
"This is unforgivable! Samurai secret arts! Thousand slashes of punishment!" Mikoto shouts waving around a bamboo stick in a rather familiar samurai costume. Miko moves in closer whispering, "Seems as though ever since she recovered from her incident with the samurai customer, she started to dress up like a samurai to fully indulge in her fantasies."
"I would say it suits her great." Narumi replies with a huge smile of relief, 'Everyone is as they were with a few changes, but even with those changes they still have that energetic and happy atmosphere here.'
Rukia approaches out from the energetic crowd with a pair of scissors, "So Narumi-chan, how about I make you into the life sized doll I planned on making you into when you first came here?"
"I'm good; I prefer to keep my insides intact, thanks for the offer Rukia-san."
"Really? That's a shame. How about a needle bed then? Do you have any sort of fetish for that?"
Suddenly Rukia meets a hot cup of tea to the face. Not pleasant. Turning to see who it was, Aiko was on the floor with her underwear revealing and Yakouma behind her with a nose bleed.
"I would hate to think what he is day dreaming about." Narumi unknowingly comments out loud. Yet it all felt right, everything is as it was when she used to work here. Rukia suddenly takes out a doll for Aiko and Yakouma. Time she goes to town on these two, trying to remove Aiko's underwear she shouts, "After I'm done with you, you'll forget about marriage and worry about being a lonely old woman!"
Yakouma screams in pain as majestic torment goes through his little friend, "Not down there! I've a date tonight with deserts planned out already!" and everyone is suddenly quiet. Yume walks close to Rukia asking, "Mind if I see that doll Rukia-chan?"
The purple haired maid hands the doll over as Yume takes out a knife and points it at the crotch. Yakouma's face becomes as pale as a vampire, 'Please, not the fun parts of my body…no…' before breaking down into tears like a toddler rocking back and forth. Yume puts the knife away saying, "Good, then everyone get your acts together! We've a customer here!"
"So much for being calm." Tsune whispers.
"What was that?" Yume appears behind Tsune with her knife out, shining in all its murderous glory. Suddenly her face goes purple at the thought of a serial killer Yume, not a pretty sight, "N-nothing! Just saying how exceptionally well you handle the situation and how calm you're…"
Yume puts the knife away with everyone forming one big row. They all bow saying, "Welcome to Bathhouse Café: New Life dear customer. We're here to serve and help you in any way possible within our power, would you like to take a bath or enjoy a meal in our café?"
Narumi throws out a huge smile causing everyone else's hearts to be at ease as they all again say, "We've missed you Narumi-chan, welcome back." extending out their hands to her.
For a moment taking in the scenery, engraving into her memories to forever remember she takes a step forward converging their hands together simply saying, "Glad to be back."
In the desolate streets of Akihabara it is said there lays a mystical Bathhouse Café. Many rumors spread of this café though few know of its location. In one of many rumors it is said that customers sometimes visit the café by accident or they do so knowingly expecting to find something there. The purpose of this café is to help its customers overcome their barricades in life and proudly move forward. It is a café filled with compassion, with love, care and kindness of those wanting to better the world and the human lives in it through whatever efforts they can. It is a café that is always willing to welcome you with open arms, embrace your problems and you as an individual to make you feel safe and secure. It will let you know that no matter how bad life gets, there will always be a sliver of hope to help you, even in the direst situations. The café is waiting, it will always wait for there will always be someone in need of its services. So don't hesitate to come on down to share your troubles, for this is a café to help customer see things differently and give them a new life, this is the "Bathhouse Café: New Life"!
A/N: So when I said long, it was long right? If you read through it all I again commend you! Would appreciate your feedback, keep in mind though there will be no more changes made to the story. I rarely tend to go back and make changes to completed stories as I prefer focusing on the future ones more. Still feedback that can be applied to future writing is great! :D. Again thanks for reading. I greatly appreciate your readership. Hope you all enjoyed the story all the way through.
Also certain lessons have been learned here. One being, don't ever upload a story that's in progress as this little grass hopper is crap with his upload schedule. Stuff happens when writing and what not, best to upload a story when it's finished.
Now I get to go be a hermit again as I work on my next story in secret. I'll give you hint though as to what the story contains, it involves guns and machetes ;).
Till next time!