Calling Ushino


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Ushino stood at the mall kiosk, dutifully watching over the rows and rows of bottles of perfume. The mall was crowded today, but no one seemed interested in making a purchase from her little cart.

"I'm really in the wrong line of work," she thought, frowning to herself. "Maybe if I got a job at a fast-food place or something..." The thought trailed off when she noticed a trio of women who had actually stopped and were perusing the shelves. Two of them were perusing the shelves, anyways. The third, a redhaired woman, was looking intently at Ushino. When she noticed Ushino looking back, rather timidly, she only smiled and turned to her friends.

"Err... we have all kinds of scents," offered Ushino. "There's this really nice vanilla scent..." -fumbling for the bottle, found it, passed it on to the blue-haired girl- "...and this one is called Sakura Blossom. It smells like cherry blossoms.... that's why it's called that. Now, if you want to go with the more traditional floral scents, errr, we have a new line---"

"Ushino-kun?" interrupted the redheaded woman who seemed to be in charge.

"Err... yes." Ushino nodded and pointed to her nametag.

"My name is Neon. It's nice to meet you. Meet my friends, Aki--" (indicating the blue-haired girl) "--and Miki." She indicated the other redhaired girl. "I have been sent by a very important individual for a very important reason."

Ushino pushed her glasses higher up her nose. Hopefully, this would be a big sale! That, plus the commission... "What kind of perfume would your friend like?" she asked solemnly.

Neon shook her head. "No... we're not interested in the perfume."

"Oh." Ushino's shoulders sagged a little in disappointment.

"We're interested in you."

"Me?" squeaked Ushino, blushing slightly. "Whatever for? I'm just, like, a high school student... I'm graduating and going off to college soon... I'm really nobody."

"Kurei-sama wants you," said Neon. Ushino vaguely wondered how Neon could fit such awe and respect into that short sentence.

"Wants... me?" Ushino was blushing furiously now. "That's... that's, like, a horrible thing to walk up to a person and just say out of the blue!" she said, stammering.

"Baka!" said Neon, scornfully. "Not like that." She instantly reassumed her more deferential tone. "We need you to be a referee at a sporting event. It's to take place in a little while, but will occupy a week of your time. In exchange for your participation, we have drawn up a contract which I think you'll find to be very satisfactory."

"Yes," agreed Aki. "What would you like most?" She, Miki, and Neon exchanged glances. Some of the girls, they had known their weak spots or could make good guesses. Others, like Ushino, were too obscure to have much information on.

"Welllll..." frowned Ushino. "I'd like to be able to sell all my perfume and make, like, a really big commission. And then I can leave and find myself somewhere else to work. I really dislike working in a little kiosk... I just want to get out of retail completely. Like maybe get a job as a secretary or something." Her eyes brightened. "I could actually, like, sit down..."

"So you want to sell all this perfume, and get a job as a secretary?" Neon smiled at the girl. "Not a problem at all. Not a problem for Mori Kouran-sama."

"I thought you said Kurei-sama, before," objected Ushino, frowning.

"Kurei-sama is his son," explained Miki from the background. She held a bottle of the sakura perfume in her hand and was sniffing it.

"Ah," agreed Ushino. "I see."

She didn't.

"So, in exchange for those two little details.... and say we could find you a nice place to live, with the other girls... and if you refrained from mentioning this to anyone except those girls, you'd be willing to help us?" Neon narrowed her eyes and examined their newest addition.

"Sure," agreed Ushino, smiling at the thought. "I think it would be, like, really cool to be able to be a referee in a tournament. Will I have to wear those ugly black-and-white stripes?" She looked a bit worried.

Neon stepped back and surveyed Ushino. "No," she said after a few moments. "I believe we've decided on black and white spots for you..."

"Spots? That's, like, strange...."

"I'll take a bottle of this, if you don't mind," said Miki, holding out a tiny little bottle.

"That'll be 2,500 yen," replied Ushino.

"The rest of it will be sold before the week is out," promised Neon as her friend paid. "Your packet will come in the mail. The job information will arrive next week. Prepare to be packed by the third week. We'll keep in touch with you."

"Don't you need my address... or my phone number... or at least my e-mail?" asked Ushino timidly.

Neon laughed. "We have all the information we need," she assured the girl.

"Ja!" said Aki, and the three disappeared into the crowd.