"My name is Toshihiko Mori, I've been Soubu High principal for twenty-five years and I'm too old for this shit."
It wasn't meant to be said aloud, but he really felt like uttering that clichéd phrase the second he finished reading the document. The contents of this collective complaint weren't that much outrageous (authors' opinion notwithstanding), but a complaint is a complaint, and it was his job to deal with it.
"Principal, the persons you have appointment with are waiting."
"Thanks, Gouda-kun. Tell them to come in."
Fortunately, not his alone. The ones responsible for the children's upbringing are parents, after all.
That and he would gladly share the pain.
He heard knocking.
Here they were. A typical thirty-something salaryman with sagged shoulders, tired look and the overall impression that he was not comfy in his suit. A business-suit-clad prim beautiful woman about the same age with thigh-long raven hair, strangely blue eyes and everything about her screaming "Daughter of A Rich Family". A sixteen-year-old bespectacled girl with the bobbed black hair and mother's blue eyes, seemingly calm and collected bookworm.
Except he was that sharp-tongued columnist who already received both publicity and close attention from the officials, she was the successful and renowned children's books writer, and their daughter organized and-slash-or committed all the statements of this goddamn complaint.
Meet the Hikigayas. Second time this year already.
"Good afternoon. Have a seat."
"Good afternoon," Mr. Hikigaya responded. Mrs. Hikigaya opted for a brief bow, and the girl nodded, a bit nervous.
After they took the chairs, Principal continued:
"As you should have been notified, I arranged this meeting because of the filed collective complaint about your daughter Mai Hikigaya, class 2-D. Again."
Mrs. Hikigaya pointedly looked at her husband.
"Why me?" He replied.
"Because last time it was me. Do not slack off, family head."
Mr. Hikigaya grimaced, then turned to the Principal.
"Ummm. Yes, wha-"
Mrs. Hikigaya made a haughty expression, reached out and pointedly poked her index finger between his shoulder blades, causing him to straighten.
Mai lightly touched her forehead with her fingers. She clearly had been used to this.
The thing, Principal noted to himself with morbid amusement, was that he had been already used to this too.
"Erm, once again: yes. What is it this time?"
"'This time', as you helpfully pointed, it's a list of exactly four items. And I really do intend to discuss all of them."
Principal sighed, rubbed his temples, then took his tablet.
"Number one. Corrupting innocent underage students and provoking public indecent behaviour. Instances of said indecent behaviour include forcing Hayama siblings to behave like a lesbian couple, showing their affection in public. While I find 'corrupting innocent students' rather far-fetched, the rest does raise some questions."
Both Hikigaya parents looked at him, then at each other, then finally at their daughter. Said daughter sighed, vexed.
"First of all, I claim I didn't force anyone. Aya and Maya-san did it on their own. It was all in their request in the first place."
"Request?" Mrs. Hikigaya raised her eyebrow. "You mean to the Service club?"
"The request was to help improve their acting skills. As you see, the description is rather vague, so we spent some time to decide how exactly we might help and what was there exactly to improve. Ikuhara-kun said something akin to 'Playing against type' and preferably against your sexuality. And Michi-kun said he'd bring some reference material..."
"Let me guess," Mr. Hikigaya interrupted, "'Marimite?"
"'Dear brother'," Mai sighed. "And in case you're thinking I'm shifting the blame: I'm not. I'm the head of the club, and I had the final say. It's all on me. Aside from that: it was during the lunch break only, and didn't go beyond holding hands and alike. They didn't even kiss or anything."
"So they made an impromptu performance on a lunch break in front of the students, correct?" Principal finally spoke. Mai nodded.
"Well… While I do appreciate your efforts to help people, next time, please, at least give us an ahead note."
Mai obediently nodded again.
"But still… Hayamas?" Mr. Hikigaya noted, rather amused. Mai made a face.
"Serves them right for being so perfect."
Mrs. Hikigaya sighed and rubbed her nose while her husband let out a stifled chuckle.
"What is it?" Principal asked, irritated.
"Family inside joke. Nevermind." Mr. Hikigaya finally uttered.
"And also, Mai." Mrs. Hikigaya addressed her daughter with a serious look. "For the sake of clarity. Incest: ew."
"Ew," Mr. Hikigaya seriously confirmed.
"Okay." Mai replied meekly.
"The matter's dealt with then," Principal said, "Well, I did have suspicion that the complaint was submitted by overly worried parents… Moving on to the next item. Which is locking up the special wing for half a day for unknown purposes, vandalizing it in process. What's your excuse on this one, young lady?"
"Nothing touchy like the last one. As it turned out, the sewing room in the club wing is used by contemporary fashion and cosplay clubs at the same time. both clubs have to share the room and their heads, well, don't exactly like each other. Both Yuhata-san and Enju-san came to our club one day and asked for our assistance in getting rid of each other for more club time."
"Getting rid of?" Principal curiously asked.
"Exact words. Unfortunately, I expressed curiosity in their reasoning…" Mai cringed. "After a minute of their… how should I put it… loud bickering Ikuhara-kun told them to 'shut the hell up'. Exact words again. And for your info, Ikuhara-kun is stoic to a fault. So he told them to settle this like the real men should. As in, with the paintball duel."
"What do you mean 'like the real men'?" Mr. Hikigaya interrupted. "They're both… guys?"
"Oh, the irony," The Principal noted. "So they made a paintball duel in the club wing after you locked it up for half a day. By the way, who gave you permission on that?"
"You did." Mai replied and, after seeing the Principal opening his mouth, quickly added. "We submitted a formal request through the Student Council to lock up the club wing on Friday, since no clubs work on that day. Request number 113 on March 25th, 2035."
"Please hold on a second." The Principal started searching something in his tablet. Then his brows slowly raised up. "True, the request, signed and approved. No questions then." For her, that is. Splitting the workload with his secretary backfired spectacularly.
Life always would find the least expected way to kick you in the balls, he mused briefly.
"Back to the topic. There was vandalism mentioned… Do I presume it's paint stains?"
"Yes, and they're dealt with already. And in case you're curious…" Mai sighed. " No one won. They both can't shoot to save their lives. Now they share the clubroom again and think of competing some… other way. Does it clear the issue, Principal Mori?"
"Yes. Moving on… Using public announcement system inappropriately. During the classes no less."
"About that one..." Mai hesitated. "It's a bit more sensitive than it might seem. Remember Yamanaka?"
"That punk who beat up the Physics teacher?" Principal clarified with evident dissatisfaction. "Of course. Everyone does. Though now that he's transferred to another school it's not our problem anymore. If you want my personal opinion, I'm really glad about that. Getting beaten by your own student is far from priceless."
"The teacher made several lewd and disgracing comments about the girls in class. So Yamanaka-kun had punched him for that. Despite all the class's protests, he was expelled. So they made a request to our club to make a decent farewell with one of his favourite songs."
The Principal kept quiet for several moments, then spoke up.
"I wasn't there at the time, and now it's too late to get him back. That's an unexpected take on the story. My apologies, however late they are."
"What was the song, by the way?" Mr. Hikigaya asked.
"'I Just Want You'."
"Ozzy, huh? Classy..."
"If that's what concerns you in this situation." The Principal took out a bottle of mineral water from the mini-fridge and poured a glass for everyone. He took a generous sip from his glass. "The last item. Tampering with the Student Council President elections to help current president Negishi retain his position."
"Oops." Mr. Hikigaya eloquently noted.
"Maybe you shouldn't have told her that story." Mrs. Hikigaya chided with a stern look.
"Oh, that legendary Twitter Grassroots Hoax to get Iroha Isshiki for president?" Principal interjected. "I remember that. You could be quite the chessmaster when you wanted, Mr. Hikigaya."
"You remember me?"
"Both of you. It's alright if the students don't remember their Principal, but it's the Principal's job to remember at least the most notable ones."
He could clearly see both parents getting uncomfortable for a moment. The instinct of being wary of your principal is rather persistent, isn't it?
"By the way, there was one thing that bugged me at the time, Mrs. Hikigaya" He shifted his attention to her. "You were more than capable to run for presidency, how come you didn't apply?"
Mai stared at her mother in slight wonder. That was something new.
"I had my reasons" Mrs. Hikigaya finally answered. "And besides, throughout the club's existence all the attempts to enter the Student Council body ended in disasters. We, being the first members, once established that the club's modus operandi is more like grey cardinals to the current council. Years of club's existence proved it was the correct way of things."
"Also, it's more devious that way."
Mr. Hikigaya proudly smirked for a second.
"So… Following in your parents' steps?" The Principal asked.
"Not faking anything. Just doing a whole lot of PR work. Perfectly legal" She sighed. "And tiresome as all hell. I really hope the president will keep his promise to our club. If you want, I can prove it..."
"That won't be necessary, I have access to the elections' data."
The Principal stood up, then habitually massaged his temples.
"I admit this complaint was an amusing read, even though its origins raise some interesting questions. But I do hope," The Principal made and emphasis on the last part, "That you keep these complaints to a minimum. It's up to you to pinpoint the author or authors and made a deal, or a peace offering, or something. Are we clear?"
"Yes, Principal," Mai responded.
The Principal made a heavy sigh.
"All right, I suggest, and you surely approve, that we call it a day."
"I agree," Mrs Hikigaya said, "We will think of appropriate course of action to improve our daughter's behaviour."
Mai looked at her, clearly anxious.
"Now if you'll excuse us..."
Principal saw them leave, then heavily lowered into his chair. As if her parents weren't enough back in the day…
Still, he thought, they did make a good family.
Now, time for a little investigation.
"Gouda-kun? I want to know about one formal request, number 113 on March 25th..."
Outside of the Principal's office, both parents stopped and and gave Mai stern stares.
"Mai, you know that this is a serious matter…" Yukino started.
"...And it really requires harsh and firm measures..." Hachiman continued. Mai visibly shrank.
"...For we don't want our precious child be an outcast and a delinquent..."
"...At least any more than we were..."
"...Not to mention getting to talk to principal again, that is quite a pain..."
"...And so our punishment of choice is sending you to live at Auntie Komachi's for a week."
"Where's the punishment?" Mai finally asked, cocking her eyebrow.
Hachiman scratched his head, then sighed.
"You know, we rehearsed for half an hour to say that. We figured it kinda stopped being so menacing anymore."
"It never was in the first place, Dad."
"I know, right? You're doing fine for a Service Club president. Reminds us of our own time in the club. Though we weren't summoned to the principal back in the day."
"Second-generation Service Club President evolves to be more troublesome?"
"Something like that. Well, anyway, a week at Komachi's it is. "
"The Kawasakis have a lasting good effect on you." Yukino noted, then warmly smiled, "For another half a year, anyway."
Hachiman took out his phone and dialed a number.
"Komachi? Hey. ...Uhh, fine, thanks. You? ...Just for the sake of being polite, how's that maggot of your husband doing?.. Yeah, that means 'Say hello to Taishi for me'... Sure, I'll tell Yuki… Yeah, you guessed right, Mai's gonna live for a week... Exactly, she did it again. I'll show you, fun stuff just like last time. Hopefully she won't be much of a-... Yeah, yeah, sorry for constantly saying that. Good thing you love kids so much. Just tell your sons not to bug her… not all four at once, at least... Eh? Yuigahama's too?.. I know she's Sakamoto now. Convenience and all. And you know, just open the kindergarten already... Dinner tomorrow? Sure, why not... Okay, see ya."
They started walking to the school's exit. Hachiman reached out and held Yukino's hand. She in turn gently squeezed his palm. Mai noticed and briefly raised her brow. Still behaving like high-school sweethearts after some twenty years together… She wondered for a moment how they didn't get tired.
"Komachi-san's inviting to dinner?" Yukino asked, curious.
"Good. Why not?"
"While we're on the subject," Mai intervened, "I want to use my last meal privilege, so today I'd like something Japanese."
"So it's on me then," Hachiman said. "Simple or more fancy kind? Just in case, your dad would rather do the former-"
"Potato stew and that clam-and-pickles miso soup of yours."
"My last meal!"
"You know, Hachi always said that all he needed to know was curry. I remember him inviting me to our first home-made romantic dinner," Yukino sighed, "All that dressing up nicely for elaborate bowl of curry rice by the candle lights."
She made a "stern teacher" face and pointedly raised her finger.
"Mai, if not for your mother, your Dad still wouldn't have known anything else."
"Why bring that up? You want to repeat or what?" Hachiman begrudgingly said.
Yukino in turn just smiled and winked.
Mai shook her head. Here they went again. Though she couldn't deny that it was amusing.
"At least he had Auntie Komachi for a reference. But jeez… I mean, really, four?"
Hachiman softly ruffled her hair.
"Well, something along the lines of stabilizing the demographic situation, now that me and Yuki are such a disappointment to the nation. Deal with it."
"I kind of see her saying this. And what are you two are going to do while I'm away?"
Hachiman gave her quirky look.
"As usual. Lazing around, reading, maybe going somewhere nice to dinner, doing naughty things..."
Mai raised her brow
"Oh, I know your 'Naughty Things', from that one time I had to go back for the book I forgot. Dramatic reading of that Sword Art Online chapter? Seriously?"
"As naughty as it gets," Yukino replied, barely containing her laughter. "Not to worry, we do proper naughty things too."
"Good to know, Mom. Sarcasm."
"On topic of naughty things... What about those two from Service Club?" Hachiman asked.
"Ikuhara and Michi?" Mai sensed danger. "What about them?"
"I actually met them both." Yukino noted. "Fine young men, if you ask me. Mom approves."
"Well Dad doesn't. " Hachiman's tone became more exaggerated. "How come you met them and didn't tell me? It's the Father's Sacred Duty to give them The Proper Rightful Father's Talk!"
"Exactly because of that reason. Besides, it's too early for anything anyway."
"What is it, riot against the family head?"
"Oh, don't think too highly of yourself, Family Head. Now who gave in and delegated me the lifelong right to name our children?"
"You did?" Mai curiously asked.
"Yes. I did under the pressure of your dear mother. It's a true story." He then made The Trademark Hachiman Smirk. "She just never tells anyone what she had to do for that."
Yukino's face suddenly became redder than a tomato.
"T-That's CERO D!"
She then quickly grabbed Hachiman's cowlick and tugged, to which he gave a half-hearted "ow".
Mai put her hand on her forehead for God knows which time this day.
"Meaning you'll tell me when I turn 17?"
Both parents shrugged.
"You got us."
1. Here's my take on Animesuki's Oregairu forum thread's suggestion from about Hikki/Yukino's child.
2. Hikki and Yukino's occupations are taken from my previous story.