As I said in the last post of the previous version of this story ( s/3189505/1/An-Unlikely-Magical-Girl-and-an-Unlikely-World-War) I had done too many mistakes, plot-wise and technically, that if I ever tried to edit things away, this story will collapse. Also, I had felt, and been informed, that too many technical aspects of the story had turned off readers just from the first chapter alone.
So, without further ado...wait.
I should show what the different font types in this story stand for:
Normal font is Japanese being spoken by the characters, whether in narration or "in dialogue"
Italic is English being spoken by the characters
'Italic between apostrophes' are thoughts.
Bold is for words that had emphasis.
"Ang mga salitang" inside the apostrophe's that are in different languages are meant to be read and pronounced as they are, since well...they are different languages.
Now that's over with...without further ado here it is.
"Tomorrow will be the start of the most ridiculous day in Japanese military history," my boyfriend and fiancé suddenly said as we cuddled, still basking in the afterglow of certain activities silently done under a thin and big cotton blanket some time ago.
"Of all the topics you choose to talk about after having sex, you pick the one we had sex to forget about?" I replied incredulously in a whisper, since our daughter was deeply asleep in the same tent as us.
"That's how unhappy I am with what you have to do tomorrow."
Before replying I slid his manhood out of myself, then turned around in the sheets as silently as I can manage to talk to my boyfriend face to face.
"What can I do Ichigo? Those poor kids had been betrayed so badly they are no longer listening to anyone else but...fellow magical girls, they call it. Ran and I and Izanami are the only ones in this place who can go tell those kids who to attack, where to attack and how to attack and expect to be listened to. Besides...they're all literally kids. Ages eight to twelve. I can't in good conscience just order them around from the safety of a command post hundreds of meters away from the fighting. I also have to be there to fight beside them."
After a few moments of silence, Ichigo let out a sigh of defeat and frustration.
"I know. I know and I still hate the idea Kurumi. I wish you could just stay in the command post with me, Ao and the eight year olds."
"I know. But I also know that if I do that I will never be able to act as Ao's mother without hating myself from that point on. And hating yourself when your daughter has...I'm sorry dear. Really, really sorry."
"...how did we ever get to this point?" Ichigo asked.
May 3, 2013
As I picked my change from the counter and placed them inside my wallet, my four year old daughter tugged lightly at my skirt.
"Ao? What is it?" I asked as I looked down at the little bob-haired girl, dressed in a blue violet sweater, yellow orange pants combo that I just tried out.
"Mama, can we also buy an ice cream?"
"Ao, what day is it today?" I gently reminded her while taking the groceries and the receipt off the counter, after placing my wallet in my pocket.
"...Friday," Ao muttered with a glum expression.
"And on what day are you allowed to eat sweets?" I asked as we started walking away from the counter.
I stopped underneath the doorway of the 7- Eleven and smiled at my daughter, and then asked her if she is a good girl.
"I am a good girl. Why?"
"A good girl is a girl who knows how to be patient. If you are a good girl, then you must be patient and wait for Sunday night. Understand?"
Ao's glum nodding made me feel relieved. It was then that I took a quick peek at the convex mirror above the door, to look at my appearance.
My light brown, long sleeved midi dress is wrinkled from an entire day's worth of activities, but thankfully the color matching with my natural light brown skin is hiding those wrinkles from casual inspection. And my skin is also good, seeing as I washed my face and hands before buying the groceries.
The only thing of concern is my neck length, bob cut hair.
'How did it get this dry? It's not summer. And I still use the same shampoo – oh.'
Behind me, back at the counter, two of my classmates at Matsumoto Agatagaoka High School were silently looking at me and my daughter.
I turned around to look back at them, and for the next few moments we stared at each other.
While that was happening I was mentally expressing my gratitude that Matsumoto Agatagaoka High School doesn't have a required school uniform for its students. Otherwise that scene earlier with Ao would have me revealed as an extreme outlier of Japan's teenage parent population to more people in Matsumoto than needed.
As it is the staff and our classmates in Matsumoto Agatagaoka High School needed to be in the know for there to be no hassles when a family emergency comes up, like last year when both Ao and Mother were infected by flu.
All of a sudden my two female classmates gave a nod in my direction and then turned back to their groceries, while the cashier was uneasily waiting for them to take their purchases so she could attend to the customer behind my classmates.
"Mama? What's wrong?" Ao asked while tugging at my skirt again.
"I...think there's nothing wrong," I admitted as I turned back towards the glass doors of the 7-Eleven, and looked out onto the streetlamp lit sidewalks of Matsumoto. "Let's go Ao."
'Two months. Two more months until I can legally marry Ichigo. Then we can do away with a lot of the prejudice against us.'
May 3, 2013
"Ichigo, you don't have to help out with dinner," Mom protested as I laid out the plates on the table. "Me and the brat can finish this ourselves."
"I know that Mom, you two always take care of the meals in the first place. I just...needed a change of routine," I said while putting down the last plate on the table. A moment later I stepped back and smiled at the sight of five sets of plates for the main dish, bowls for rice and miso soup, and chopsticks laid on the table in the same way Kurumi does it.
"A change of routine? Ichigo, only people affected by ennui needed one of those. You're too young and active to experience ennui. Now I insist that you go back to your room, arrange all the school things and leave this to us women. I'll call you when Ao and the brat gets here."
"Alright, alright. I'll go upstairs," I said while scratching an itch behind my eyeglass strap." But first...Mom, isn't it time you call Kurumi by her name?"
The unhappy look my mother gave me while wearing an apron over a cheap red shirt and blue denims told me her answer.
"Mom...please remember that Ao is already four, and becoming five in two months time. She's been curious about the world all this time now and it's a miracle that she hasn't asked why you're calling Kurumi the way you are now."
"...I moved on from calling her 'whore' all the time?"
"And Kurumi and I have separately thanked you for that Mom," I told the woman that makes some men give Dad envious stares.
'Then again maybe part of the reason you stopped was because Kurumi made the whole 'whore' thing awkward and mildly disturbing when she asked if by whore you meant my personal whore, quickly followed by asking if sex was or was not part of the responsibilities of a wife to her husband and vice versa.'
"Look," Mom said with a sigh. "I...I still can't accept her as a daughter in law. Not after she forcibly changed your life with a baby. Not when she showed she can never dispose the Filipino thinking in her head and her life."
"Multiculturalism is not something evil Mom."
"Maybe. But she's a cult member."
"Byakko Shinkokai is a benign, peaceful religious movement whose origins came from Shinto."
"It's an offshoot of a weird offshoot of Shinto called Omoto that was persecuted twice by the Japanese government before the Pacific War...I digress. Ichigo, if I start calling her by name would you refrain from persisting in this nonsense of accepting her as daughter in law?"
"Yes. Kurumi gave up when you said you would accept her as daughter in law only after she dies for our family. Just...more politeness? At the very least for the sake of not giving Ao a bad example? Please?"
Mom looked at me unhappily for several moments, and then she said that she would try tomorrow.
Glad that she would make the attempt, I walked out of the kitchen dining room with a smile, into the hallway that connects the entrance, the stairs, the converted living room, and the bathroom.
May 3, 2013
As we walked home, Ao asked a question.
"Mama, who are those two women looking at us inside the 7-Eleven?"
"You mean the ones I looked back at?"
When my daughter nodded her head, I replied that they're my classmates from school.
"So why are they looking at us?"
I stopped walking and silently stared at my daughter, wondering what excuse I could use to not answer her question.
'...then again, maybe I should tell her something just so she doesn't pursue this matter further.'
I took a deep breath and made my decision.
"Uh...because they're surprised to see you," I said before I started walking again.
'There. Nothing about teenage parents, but still answering her question.'
Ao nodded after hearing my explanation. After several seconds of walking, she pursued the matter further, to my disappointment.
"Why are they surprised? Isn't it normal that a Papa and a Mama would always have a child?"
I hissed under my breath, while frantically thinking of something to say for several moments until I had an inspired solution.
"What I meant to say was I don't recall showing anyone at school a picture of you, all they know is that your father and I had a child."
Ao looked at me for several steps onwards, and then pouted at me..
"Mama, why do I read that you're not saying everything?"
"Are you sure I'm not saying everything?" I replied while worrying about something else after Ao did it again.
Ao is a genius. Most other children, including me and Ichigo, only start to be able to read normally at five or six years of age. Some children can read at four years of age. But Ao had all of us beat by starting to read a month or so before her fourth birthday.
And despite that genius she always misuses the word 'read' in daily conversation, no matter how much we correct her grammatical error.
"Yes. You are hiding something from me."
I sighed, stopped walking and looked around, which also made my daughter stop beside me with pout on her face.
After seeing that the nearest people around were drivers of cars occasionally running by, and the old man we passed by earlier, I looked down at my daughter.
"Ao, is this something that you really need to know?"
If my daughter didn't give a satisfactory answer, I won't give even a single hint to her question. But if she did –
"Because people do weird things around Papa and Mama whenever they see me with you two. And all those weird things make you and Papa sad or angry. If you and Papa are sad or angry, then I'm also sad and angry."
I can't help but be touched by Ao's answer. I slowly kneeled down, hugged my adorable daughter for a brief moment, and then looked her in eye and started to say something about the situation.
"Ao...look. It's not something you will ever like. Trust me."
"I, Ikeda Kurumi, your Mama, do swear that the reason why other people act weird when they see you with us is something that would make you sad."
"If that is so...would saying sorry stop people from acting weird around you and Papa?"
I felt contempt fill my entire being upon hearing Ao's suggestion.
"Mama?" Ao asked with a befuddled look on her face.
"Just a moment," I said as I closed my eyes and started to clear away the bad feelings inside me.
'Fading away, may peace prevail on Earth. Fading away, may peace prevail on Earth. Fading away, may peace prevail on Earth.'
I continued to mentally chant the phrase that Goi Sensei taught the world, over and over and over again until I felt all the contempt fade away, replaced by the less negative feeling of worry. Which was preferable to contempt.
"Are you ok now Mama?"
"Yeah.," I finally said. "Ao, your suggestion won't solve anything."
There were two problems with my daughter's suggestion. First was that I had no obligation to apologize to anyone outside my family and the Ohta family for getting pregnant. Second, was that the only way apologizing at this time is going to make any sense was if I was apologizing for giving birth to the baby and then deciding I want to take care of my baby as the baby's mother.
'I'm not apologizing for giving birth and taking care of you, Ao. Never. I'm your mother, and mothers take care of their children.'
"So, what would you do to make people stop acting weird around you and Papa when I'm with you?"
I let go of Ao and started walking again, while she skipped at my right side.
"...nothing. Let them feel awkward, I did nothing wrong."
We walked home in silence from that point onwards.
May 3, 2013
After I finished placing our study materials on our desk, putting our school bags to one side of it, and arranging the seats for me and Kurumi, I was left with nothing else to do but wait for Kurumi and Ao to come home from the 7-Eleven down the street.
A quick look at the little clock on the desk told me it was three minutes past Six, which meant Kurumi and Ao would arrive home around five minutes from now due to the groceries and the distance.
I had no desire to study while hungry, and dinner only starts when the entire family sans Dad comes home. So, having nothing to do I stood in the middle of the room and prepared to do some very light exercise. Namely, walking around the room.
That was when a bout of nostalgia hit me, and I looked around the room.
At one side of the room were two cabinets, filled with all of our clothes. One cabinet, bought and given to us by Kurumi's Dad for her and Ao's use, was a beautifully decorated, pink wooden cabinet that came as a set with a full body mirror, clothes racks, drawers and some hangers inside it.
The other was made by Dad and I on one fine Sunday using plywood, nails, sandpaper, door hinges, screws, a cabin hook that he bought from a local hardware, and a hammer and screwdriver that he borrowed from Camp Matsumoto.
The futons were beside the cabinets, all rolled up and ready for use when it's time to sleep.
Behind me was our desk and the windows and curtains, while the wall directly opposite me was where the door and the switch for the lights in the room were placed.
The last side of the room was a gallery of pictures, either put inside hanging picture frames by Mom or wrapped in plastic and attached to the wall with thumbtacks by Kurumi.
The pictures showed pretty much all the most important events of my life up to this day. There was my first picture, where I was swaddled in a blanket and cradled in Mom's arms a few hours after birth. There's when Mom started teaching me how to read with my first book, at ten months...not that it was successful. The first time I went to school when I was six years old. My tenth birthday. My first picture with Kurumi. Our first date. First kiss. An innocuous selfie of us on the day we made Ao. The day Kurumi left the Ikeda family and started living with us. My first picture with my daughter, our first family picture, so on and so forth...
The pictures reminded me of my responsibility, so I started to walk around the room.
I would be the first to admit walking wasn't much of an exercise, but every little effort to maintain a healthy body would be helpful towards passing the physical fitness tests of the Japanese Self Defense Forces.
May 3, 2013
We were now almost back home, which was on the other side of the three way junction directly in front of us.
As I waited for the pedestrian lights to change, Ao started waving in the direction of Camp Matsumoto, on the other side of the street to my left. I quickly took a look.
The guard on duty nodded in our direction. He then quickly stood back to attention.
"Do you know that Self Defense Forces memberAo?" I asked while planning on asking Ichigo and Mother if they recognized that person, something they would be able to do because the both of them always practice and spar with other jukendo practitioners during the weekend timeslot offered by Camp Matsumoto for jukendo practitioners to freely use Camp Matsumoto's gym. And if they aren't able to, I'll ask Father.
"He's Mr. Moriya. He's Aya's father. Do you remember when I told you about meeting and playing with Aya last Saturday and Sunday?"
Ever since she was able to walk on her own, Ao was always taken to the local park by Mother every weekend afternoon so she could play with children her own age. And last week she became friends with a girl named Moriya Aya and played with her until they had to go home at six in the evening, Ao then told the entire story of her day to me, Ichigo and Father later on during weekend dinner time.
I kneeled down and made Ao turn towards me.
"Ao, Mr. Moriya's on duty. Don't distract him anymore from now on or Father would have to scold Mr. Moriya."
"Because Mr. Moriya is supposed to be guarding the gate. If he is to do that properly, he's not supposed to be distracted by anyone. Do you understand?"
I smiled as I saw my daughter nod obediently.
May 3, 2013
I had been walking around the room for around four minutes already when the air suddenly felt unnaturally cold. I quickly glanced at the windows. After seeing that they're tightly shut, I looked around the room.
'The door is closed. So are the windows, and there are no problems to be fixed when Kurumi and I checked the house last weekend. So why is it cold?'
The curtains suddenly shut close, the lights turned off, and the door locked on its own.
In the unnaturally silent darkness, I got into an unarmed stance, ready to fight inside our bedroom.
May 3, 2013
Moments after the pedestrian lights turned green, we finally got home.
Our home was a two story building with unpainted wooden walls built in the 1970's. It had a typical Japanese roof made of ceramic tiles, a tiny garden full of...red petaled Hippeastrum that is well tended by Mother separating the house from the sidewalk in front of it and a small fence made of finger-width sticks and a heavy duty rope Father got from somewhere.
As I was about to turn the doorknob, something soft, sticky and wet hit the back of my head and made me stop moving in shock.
'I didn't just get bird droppings on my hair, right?'
"Mama, is that jelly on your hair?"
I quickly wiped my hair with my left hand. As soon as I brought it to my face, I sniffed at it.
As Ao said, it was konyaku. I stepped back, leaving the groceries at the door and looked at the sky, wondering at the ridiculously improbable thing that just happened to me.
And then the streetlights around our home suddenly flickered.
"Mama, why did the lights do that?" Ao asked in a curious and wondering tone of voice.
"It's probably a power fluctuation."
Across the street, I saw Moriya walking out of the guardhouse with a flashlight in hand.
The lights flickered again, and made the headlights of a passing car our only source of light for a brief moment.
"Mama, someone is watching us."
I looked everywhere for this person who Ao said was watching us.
The lights flickered once again, and I finally saw something that made my skin tingle and gave me nausea.
It was a furry grey rat as big as my foot, blue ribbon tied around its neck, standing up on its hind legs and fearlessly looking straight at me and Ao.
"Ohh. It's a cute mouse."
I stared down at my daughter in despair, still wondering how someone that came from my womb could ever consider the most disgusting animal on the face of the Earth as their favorite animal.
Ao noticed me after a few more moments of weird baby talking.
"What's wrong – "
The flittering streetlights interrupted her.
When the lights came on again, I saw the rat looking at us while standing on a…
'Faded pink cotton wallet... nylon zipper which has its paint peeled off long ago...Hello Kitty keychain…isn't that my wallet?'
"Is that your wallet Mama?" Ao herself asked.
I quickly patted down my left pocket, feeling nothing inside of it. I then looked down and pulled the pocket inside out.
Upon seeing that there was no wallet inside my pocket, I looked back at the rat while wondering how the wallet fell out.
I quickly saw that it had a ten thousand yen note in its teeth and paws, looking like it was going to tear the money apart.
"No! Bad mousey! No biting Mama's money! Put it down, put it down now!"
Ao walked nearer to the damned rat, lecturing it like it was a trained animal.
The rat tore the note apart in one smooth motion.
"The money," I mumbled in shock while staring at the paper bill.
Father's salary as a Sergeant First Class was enough for three people, not for five. So ever since I moved in with Ichigo I had been using the money in my savings account to supplement his income, which was regularly deposited into by my own parents.
"Don't you dare break the money card!" Ao suddenly shouted.
This time the rat held my JP Bank ATM card in its jaws.
"Oh no you don't!" I yelled.
I took a step forward and leapt, hands outstretched to catch the fucking rat.
Time slowed down enough for me to notice a bone-chilling detail.
The rat was looking at me with what could only be called incredulity. Then it quickly jumped between my closing hands.
'WaitwhydidIju – '
I belly flopped on the sidewalk hard enough that I spent the next few moments trying to get air back into my lungs. Once the pain was gone I looked at my hands.
I had both the wallet and the torn paper bill in my palms. All that was left was to retrieve the ATM card.
"Give the card back!"
I looked at where Ao's voice came from. And then I screamed.
I truly, deeply thank everyone who had a hand in the reviews of this story, from Stardestroyer and Spacebattles to Xnxx and Fictionpress.