Warning: Some over-dramatic moments, just a few sprinkled here and there, but if you ignore reality and try not to be too severe, those should be easy to deal with… And, who knows, you might actually enjoy them? (grins)
Thirty Kisses That Made the World a Better Place
The Importance of Being Present
Scanning the (rather noisy and, hence, irritating) crowd over a shoulder, Ootani heaved a great sigh.
The senior captain of Maido Academy's currently greatly prospering basketball club had thought it would be a great idea that this year—as his last on the team, and high school in general too—all participants in the finals were allowed to pick the time and place of their matches; matches also being a keyword in and of itself as this year's finals were going to be held in two rounds for each encounter.
How terribly wrong one could be …
As if it hadn't been enough that the opposing team wanted the first match of the finals to be held in their school—which was in Yokohama, quite some hundred miles away from theirs—it seemed to Ootani that they had specially looked into the matter and chosen a date when people would have to be preparing for their midterm exams so that no one would come cheer for Maido's team. The thought of this whole thing not being a sheer coincidence brought an annoying twitch to his left eyebrow that just wouldn't go away no matter how hard he tried to rid himself of it.
The smugness apparent on the opposing captain's face did nothing to alleviate the short basketball player's suspicions. If anything, it heightened them.
"It's about time we started," the guy began, eyeing Ootani's much shorter form condescendingly. In that moment, the Maido captain decided that this had to be the most unpleasant type he'd met in all his years of playing basketball. "But I can't see anyone from your school coming to cheer your team on." His grin was even more annoying than his tone, and that was saying something. "Are you sure that your club is really as popular in your school as you make it out to be?"
Rub it in, why don't you, thought Ootani, hands clenched tightly into fists in his poor attempts at soothing his flaring temper.
The auburn haired high school pupil had thought that it would have been a great thing that the participants in the matches would be the ones deciding where the matches will be held because he was hoping that this way he'd be able to have Koizumi with him on all those. He quite prided himself in his basketball playing skills and knew for a fact he looked cool while at it—if the swooning girls watching were any proof.
Furthermore, those would be the last two games he played as a high school student and he'd really have liked if Koizumi—his girlfriend of a few months and lovely support in whatever he did—had been there to cheer him on. She was always so energetic on his matches, and her voice, the sheer knowledge that she was there, watching him and rooting for him, gave him the confidence that he could beat anyone, no matter who it was.
"You better pray that I don't find out you chose the place and time on purpose, just to beat down the team's morale a notch," the boy snarled up at the taller player who only laughed haughtily in reply. Neither male noticed the judge approach before a ball was shoved right in between them after being led to the center of the pitch.
"Oh, yeah? Or you'll what?"
It was truly vexing that he was supposed to intimidate someone who was a good couple of heads taller than himself and had to crane his neck to meet his antagonist's eye. And, if that wasn't enough, he truly couldn't come up with anything he could do, even if he found out that the encounter's specifics had been chosen on purpose. It was, after all, their right to pick for this match.
While the judge explained some of the details of the match, both captains were too busy glaring death at one another to truly pay any attention to what the guy was saying. The only thing with which Ootani could come up with as retaliation to the low blow of having his girlfriend's reassuring presence taken from him was to beat those aloof bastards in such a humiliating way that they would never be able to forget.
He spared a second to share his epiphany with his team who—feeling just as indignant about not having their school friends and lovers there with them for such an important match—agreed heartily, evil glints lighting Maido Academy's eyes as the judge threw the ball high in air while the two captains stared each other down, a silent challenge in each pair of brown orbs.
When the whistle was blown and the basketball reached its highest point and began to descend, the game was officially on.
"Uh… excuse me, please…"
The meek voice was drowned out in the vigour of the crowd surrounding it, blocking its possessor's path through towards its destination.
"Uh… I'm sorry… could you, please…?"
No one listened to the barely uttered plea. An irritated vein popped into visibility on the party leader's forehead. A mouth twisted in an annoyed line.
"We've been asking you nicely all this time, so show some manners, if you please! Move aside a little, will ya!?"
The once weak voice now boomed with unsuspected power as the girl holding up a clenched fist reached the limit of her patience.
Several students from the crowd glared daggers at her but the effect was somehow lost when you have to actually shift your head upwards to meet someone's gaze.
"You trying to pick a fight, foreigner?" One excessively violent-looking female demanded, cracking her knuckles menacingly, making the raven-haired girl behind the screaming one shrink back, her eyes watering.
But the big one didn't seem impressed at all though with some brief coaxing from a frizzy-haired brunette she seemed to calm down some. The Yokohama girls grinned menacingly. Ah, that's right; they should know their place when coming to other people's schools.
"No, not at all; we're sorry for the commotion. Pardon us," the tall girl said with her lips puckered up and an expression that made her apology look too forced to be sincere.
The natives narrowed their eyes at her but made a move to return to watching the match—their team was finally on equal score with Maido after chasing after them throughout the whole first half—when they felt excruciating pain snaking up their entire beings from the smalls of their backs—well, two of them did at any rate.
Doubled over and sputtering, some of their fellows crouched next to them, asking them worriedly what had happened and what was wrong. But before anyone could take revenge, the evil creatures from Maido's cheering team had completely disappeared in the swarm of the crowd.
"Curse you," one of the injured girls managed to utter before collapsing face-first on the floor.
"Was it really necessary to hit them so brutally?" Chiharu wondered while fidgeting the school flag between her long slim fingers. "They were wrong but that doesn't mean we had to force our way past them like that…" She was tearing up again and Suzuki wasn't helping much by agreeing with her point.
"Well, it wasn't really necessary for them to try to pick a fight with us either, was it? But they did it anyway, so we were free to retaliate however we wished, isn't that right, Risa?" Nobu justified, turning to her accomplice with flames burning in her molten chocolate coloured eyes. However, when she finally spotted her friend amongst the crowd her feigned enthusiasm faltered at once. "Risa…"
The girl in question was staring unfocused at some point in front of her, stiff fingers of her dainty hands clutching somewhat absently the large bag she had brought for the event. She did not hear Nobu's voice and neither did she hear Chiharu's concerned plea for her attention.
All she could think of was if it was really worth it. Was it really worth coming all the way here, across the island, after all the trouble they had encountered on their way? Why had they come in the midst of this unfriendly community where it was blatantly obvious they were not welcome? Why had they gone through the ordeal of traveling so far in just one day?
They'd finally made it to the front of the crowd and her glazed with thought eyes moved subconsciously to fix themselves upon a very familiar figure on the pitch that was currently making its way to the benches as there seemed to be some sort of technical break.
Her hazel orbs widened and cleared, all doubt chased away from her head within the instant as Koizumi watched Ootani slump on the bench, sending a resentful glare at the other captain, before sighing deeply—as if it pained him to do so in the first place—and rolling his wistful gaze somewhere towards the ceiling, obviously losing himself to his thoughts or daydreams.
Taking a firmer, more resolute, hold of her bag, Koizumi vowed that she'd blow away that barely suppressed melancholy in her dearest boyfriend's eyes.
His teammates were complaining about his shots being off as well as the opposing team catching up to them. There was nothing he could say back to that. Maybe it was partially his fault that they were being caught up to but at the same time it wasn't because he wasn't the only person on the team, damn it!
He turned his lackluster eyes away from the grotesque sight of their antagonists and his bristling teammates towards the ceiling, wondering if Koizumi was really studying for the exams right now. She better, otherwise he'd have trouble forgiving her afterwards!
But, really… It's not like without her anything was palpably different. It all seemed the same. The benches were the same, the pitches were the same, the rules and the equipment were the same. But he felt like it was all off; he was different.
It's not like basketball had completely turned into just another way to impress her or something. He still felt pleased with himself whenever he won a match, even if it wasn't for Koizumi's presence. He could tell one emotion from the other—he was no idiot, despite what you may hear about him while wandering the corridors of Maido Academy.
But somehow… it just wasn't the same without her anymore. He didn't know when he'd allowed himself to become so attached to someone, how he'd let her grow on him so, but it didn't really matter at that point in time, did it? He had to get his act together because it was one thing being conned out of having his girlfriend's presence and it was a whole another having to tell her that he'd failed this year—again—to become champion just because he hadn't been his usual self on the pitch. She was very accepting of his faults but this she'd never forgive, something he could have easily prevented, he knew. It was just like giving up without a fight and that had never been something she approved of.
He smiled slightly to himself while pushing up to his feet again. He sighed heavily as he looked into his teammate's faces.
"You're the one who said we should pound their faces in when we started, weren't you Captain?"
"Don't tell us you've given up on that!" Another one exclaimed in a near-tears state that was just pathetic for someone almost two meters tall.
Ootani huffed indignantly at that.
"Are you an idiot or something? Of course I haven't given up! There's no way I'm going to give up to those guys!" he answered as boisterously as ever, crossing his arms over his built chest. "I just needed to rest a bit so I could store up some energy."
"That's our captain, alright!"
"Ootani-senpai, let's do our best!"
"If Ootani-senpai is this serious, we should be as well, guys!"
"Yeah!" chorused the gathered group of young men as they split apart at the sound of the blown whistle, all of them heading for their respective positions.
None of them noticed that the laugh in Ootani's voice never quite reached his eyes…
"You're coming to cheer for me, right, Koizumi?" he asked, his eyes gleaming with hope as if there were stars entrapped in them. She tried to ignore how that—along with his cute puppy-dog eyed face—made her insides squirm in a teasing way and her cheeks fluster slightly.
"Hmm, I wonder…" she muttered evasively, hopeful to redirect his attention from scrutinizing her increasingly warmer face to a possible argument.
She was really pathetic, having to distract her boyfriend from her to fighting with her when they could get in a good mood in such a situation… She was really still useless when dealing with this stuff…
To her relief, his temper indeed flared at her discontinued thought.
"Hey! Is that any way to talk back to your wonderful, handsome and super-talented boyfriend?"
"Do you derive some sort of twisted pleasure from praising yourself? I can't quite understand…" She had a fine eye brow arched so high up it almost reached her hair-line. Her comment was completely ignored by her companion who was already in a land far, far away though.
"And then, when we go to the finals…!" He positively had stars sparkling in his eyes now. There was no other way a human could have eyes as bright as that. It was almost creepy. It could freak you out for real if you weren't careful.
"Will you really make it that far, I wonder…" She had no idea why her brain was still in defensive mode. Maybe the fact that she felt embarrassed needed to be soothed with something, even if that should be another blazing row with her beloved Ootani. It didn't really matter because she wasn't exactly thinking at that point now, was she?
"When we finally go to the finals, I'm going to shine, Koizumi! You just wait and see! You're going to be so proud with being the girlfriend of this champion here!" he boasted shamelessly, laughing like a maniac with a hand, digits curled into a fist, outstretched upwards in a positively demented way.
She made a noncommittal unconvinced sound at that but it didn't seem to faze him any more than her previous remarks. He really did seem to believe what he said. He then turned his gaze to her and it was definitely scalding with determination. She felt her body temperature rise.
"I want you to be there to witness my great ascend as a basketball player, Koizumi!"
"Pardon?" she muttered confusedly. Since when did winning a school championship mean you were an ace basketball player? Was he finally beginning to get delirious?
"You're going to be there to cheer for me anyway, right?" he echoed his question from earlier, this time his pretence flamboyancy now gone without a trace.
She stared nonplussed at his sudden change in demeanor but looked away soon, unable to hold his gaze when he was so serious for long. It made her feel uncomfortable when he stared so openly at her like that, even if it was because he was expecting some sort of reply from her, some reaction.
"Of course I'm going to be there to cheer you on, idiot," she said and mentally slapped herself for the snappiness of her retort but it was already too late to take it back. "I wouldn't miss it for the world…" she muttered in a very small voice, certain he hadn't even heard before he got up and changed the topic.
What she didn't know was that Ootani did hear. And that he got up so she wouldn't see him blush a deep crimson shade.
The idea of her being there to watch him in his moment of glory was enough to make him feel happier than he'd been in a long while.
As she watched Ootani running around with his teammates on the pitch, performing their complicated plans without his usual breakneck vigour, Risa remembered why she'd come all this way. As she observed his fluid movements lacking their usual enthusiasm she knew very well why she was there.
The world around her came into focus again and the call of her worried friends finally reached her no longer deaf ears.
"Hey, Risa, are you listening to me?" Nobu asked indignantly, hands on her hips. She was threading closer and closer to a rampage, the taller girl knew.
"It's not fit for the school's cheering team to slack off when the competition's so great, right?" Risa asked with a grin on her face as she turned to her small group of close friends who looked her oddly all over while she took out the large "Maido Champions!" sheet and passed it to Chiharu, who in turn took it gingerly, as if it was fragile. "Let's get to what we came here to do, so the trip isn't wasted, hm?"
Nobu grinned at that and everyone gave their nods of assent while they took out their own "equipment".
Soon, the four were chorusing with all their might "Maido, Maido!" but it was understandable that their voices were submerged in the huge ruckus that the natives were making, considering that the whole school was probably assembled in the gym.
Risa was annoyed, on the other hand, because she'd been screaming for Ootani to look at her for some time but he seemed not to have heard her. That definitely wouldn't do. She hadn't travelled all those hundreds kilometers not to be noticed by the one person she had opted to take this trip for in the first place!
"Risa, these guys are too loud! We can't outshout them!" Nobu told her, eyes dejected because she'd hoped at least Nakao would notice her presence on the stands. Judging from her expression, she'd had as much luck as Risa had. That wouldn't do either.
Determined, the auburn-haired tall girl rummaged through her bag energetically as she tried to find something particular among all the stuff she currently had there to produce four megaphones for her fellow cheerers. All three of her friends as well as most of the people from the other school around them eyed the objects with twitching eyes.
"Where did you get those, Risa-chan?" Chiharu dared ask with a cracking voice. She feared for her dear friend's mental health greatly at current time.
"Well, when I told Maity-sensei that we're going to be the official cheering team for the school on this match, he gave me those, saying that we might find ourselves needing them." She squealed and rubbed her cheek against her megaphone. "Ah, Maity-sensei is so thoughtful! Thank you, Maity-sama!"
"Will you stop talking about that guy? It's giving me the chills." Nobu complained, rubbing her bare arms as if to rid herself of an inexistent cold. Risa threw her an odd glance. The taller girl opened her mouth to retort to that, but her best friend beat her to it, knowing that the argument wouldn't end soon if she started it, "At any rate, let's make our presence known to the boys, shall we? They look like they need some cheering on."
Risa's composure faltered a bit as her eyes sought out Ootani's form on the pitch again, that unmistakable void in his eyes still present. She nodded numbly and grasped the megaphone tighter before bringing it to her mouth.
"Ootani! Look over here, Ootani!" she yelled into the megaphone atop her lungs.
It worked. The boy in question stopped in mid-stride upon hearing a familiar voice in this sea of hostility. He turned around slowly, afraid of losing this illusion, this pleasant mirage that his brain was providing him with. He was afraid that when he turned around he would find nothing because the voice had been born just as a figment of his cruel mind's imagination.
"Maido, Maido, we will ascend! We're the best among them all! Get that trophy, get that trophy, Maido team!"
Upon seeing the "underhand" methods that the opposing school was using, the natives of Yokohama started yelling louder as one for their own team as well.
But it didn't matter. To the brunette captain of Maido Academy's basketball team, it had been enough to hear her voice, calling his name, looking at him with that invigoratingly loving gaze. To Ootani Atsushi, the fact that his girlfriend had come all the way to Yokohama just to see him play, just to see him shine, was enough to give him all the push he needed to be in top form.
She was all he needed present with him during a match to be who he had always been.
The antagonists were all several heads taller than the compactly small player. But that didn't stop him from scoring, one after another, after another goal, their score rising rapidly. His team also took heart from the energy their captain showed and did their best to match it.
It was obvious now to everyone why Maido's team was so feared. They had a leader whose burning enthusiasm was highly contagious.
"Damn it!" cursed beneath his breath the taller captain. "This is like a completely different game once that irksome lot arrived! It's as if they were just toying with us up till now. It makes us look like fools, damn it!" He rounded on his team, who cowered back at the tone of his voice.
"I reckon it's that girl's fault, Sado-san," offered meekly one of the gathered players.
"Do you, now?" the bulky guy turned to his minion, glaring daggers at him. It was remarkable that the smaller guy didn't run and hide at the threatening demeanor of his superior.
"He—" The boy swallowed dryly, hopeful that the observation he'd offer his captain would be enough to get him off his case. The guy gave everyone he trained the creeps, damn it! "He was practically glowing once he saw her, Sado-san."
The male called Sado turned slowly towards where Maido were bunched together at current, ruffling their tiny captain's hair and congratulating him on another shot almost from the center of the pitch. The godless tiny eyes then shifted to the four-man group of Maido's cheering team to rest thoughtfully on the tall girl who had called what he presumed was the midget's name.
She looked decent enough. No accounting for a taste though, if she was there for that miniscule menace.
A sly grin contorted his grotesque features. Yeah, he could have some fun with her later…
The match was long over now, with Maido Academy leading Ushino High School by thirty points. That went to say that Maido had a good head start for the next match which was to take place at Maido—as retaliation to the low blow of the Yokohama guys—a week later.
But Ootani couldn't care less about school basketball or any of the sort while he walked down the refreshing garden of Ushino with Koizumi by his side, matching him step for step.
"So you guys really came all the way here just for the team?" he asked with an uninterested tone but there was no way he would be able to fool her with his feigned nonchalance. She smiled serenely and nodded.
"Of course! We even got ourselves tagged the Official Cheering Team for Maido when we asked the principal for some more lenient treatment for the exams." She laughed sheepishly and he raised a semi-curious eye brow at that comment.
"You went to the trouble of asking the principal? What the hell for?"
"Well, at first he didn't want us to ruin our studying time by coming all the way here, you see… but after a little persuasion from us he agreed to let us come." He didn't look convinced at her explanation, as if sensing that she was keeping quiet about a part of it.
"He said he'd give you and Nobu additional lessons, didn't he?"
His girlfriend sweat-dropped at the precision of his guesswork. He was getting increasingly better at it lately. Was it possible that he could read minds? Was she that simple that she was like an open book to him?
"Well… yeah," she admitted finally with a sigh, seeing no point in hiding something that was already in the open.
Ootani shook his head and looked at his feet, as if careful not to trip. She was really such an idiot, willing to get herself through the trouble of additional hours of school—which she usually did so terribly at because her attention span for the sort of stuff that was taught there was astoundingly short—just to keep a silly whimsical promise he cajoled her into making with him. She was a seriously weird girl alright.
"And how did you get here, anyway? There aren't any buses for Yokohama this late in the afternoon." He noticed from the corner of his eye the stiff grin that once again seized Koizumi's features.
"Ah, that… Erm, well, you see, my father—he had some business this way and he was more than glad to take us here when he heard that we were an official cheering team for the school's basketball club so… He drove us here and then went off to do his work, yeah."
Ootani's smile turned sardonic as he sat down on a bench looking out over the city from the hill Ushino was situated upon, the setting sun casting its bright orange hues over everything.
"You somehow duped him into driving you here even though he wasn't really all up for the task, didn't you?" At his question, her face flustered indignantly and she huffed while sitting down angrily next to him.
"How can you think so low of your loving girlfriend? Doing something like that to my father would be just terrible, even if it's for your sake!"
"You still did, didn't you?" He was grinning like a Cheshire cat. Risa puffed her cheeks out and pouted, turning away from him, as if insulted by the thought.
"Of course I did not!" Her eyes wandered. "Well… maybe I kind of did…" Her boyfriend waited patiently with his brow still cocked knowingly. She huffed again, this time even more forcefully. "Okay… So I did, sue me! It's not as if he had anything else to do today anyway!"
He laughed in pure mirth this time. He couldn't believe that she'd gone through all the trouble of getting herself in a mess at school and blackmailed her father into driving her so far just to watch a basketball game, something she didn't even understand and mostly didn't like at all.
And all of that just for him…
Something squirmed pleasantly deep within his chest at the thought. No one had ever done something so great just for his sake before. It gave him a warm and squishy feeling inside that—while unnervingly pathetic for a guy—wasn't entirely a bother.
He sighed and looked up to the sky above them that was growing purpler by the second.
"You caused that much of an uproar for everyone around and then you arrived late… You should seriously reconsider your position on this cheering team or whatever." His teasing remark as well as his smug grin lost their effect as she chose that exact instant to start rummaging her bag for something.
"How rude! And here I went though the trouble of cooking something for you, depriving myself of precious sleep!" She exclaimed irritated and shoved a lunch box in his hands which he eyed with a mistrusting gaze, before training it back on her expectantly rigid frame.
"Does it have alcohol again?"
This really wasn't what Risa had thought this moment would be like when she'd been making the dish until five in the morning last night, wanting it to be nothing short of perfect for her dearest boyfriend. Why did he always have to be such a jerk with these things when she was doing her best to be a dream-girlfriend-come-true to him as much as Kanzaki had been? Was it really that difficult to be agreeable for once?
"No, it doesn't!" she snapped ill-temperedly at long last, reaching to retrieve the box back from its current position on his lap. "And if you really didn't want it that badly, all you had to do was say so instead of insult me!"
She felt like a real wimp and a crybaby girly girl when she felt the onslaught of tears in her eyes. But could you really blame her? Why did this have to happen every time she tried to do something nice, something girlfriend-like for him? She loved him dearly, with all her might, but at times like these the urge to punch him square in the smug mug was just overwhelming.
She never managed to get the lunch box back though, because he took it out of her fingers' reach before she could touch it even.
"I never said I didn't want it, stupid." He opened the box finally to see the perfectly arranged delicious-looking dishes.
"You have an interesting way of showing it, shrimp." She crossed her arms sourly across her chest and, oddly enough, her biting reference to her boyfriend's height didn't provoke an angry retort from him. He seemed completely absorbed with bringing the rice to his mouth with the chopsticks.
Risa was still pissed with him as hell, she was sure she was. But she was also impatient to hear if he liked it because she'd poured so much effort into making that. His expression betrayed nothing and she didn't take that as a good sign. Wouldn't he just say something already? The suspense was killing her!
"It's overcooked," was the first thing he said after swallowing carefully. There was no saying if he sensed or not that his girlfriend was on the verge of another fit but he added conveniently, "Just the way I like it," before taking another bite and then another. A goofy grin was soon twisting the corners of his mouth. "Koizumi's homemade meals are the best!"
She didn't retort to that. It's not as if she knew how to either. Her whole face was burning with heat. His statement made her feel so embarrassed and happy at the same time.
And she decided that she'd make something for him when they went back to school again, if he really liked her cooking as much as he claimed. There was nothing that made her feel quite as content and valuable as his sincere bright smile.
She heard the chopsticks being put together suddenly and the soft rattle of the half-empty box being placed on the bench. She looked over at him to see Ootani placing his meal on his side before his unusually serious gaze rested on her.
"It's really great, but…" A sickening feeling of dread rose amidst the sea of pleasant warming emotions that had been swirling in her for the past minutes. She hated it when there was a 'but' in a sentence. It rarely meant anything good.
To her surprise, he smiled.
"But what I'm most happy about is that you came here for me, even though it was so troublesome to do. Your presence in the stands really made me feel as if I could accomplish anything." There he went, with one of those grins that just took her breath away. "Thanks, Koizumi."
For the umpteenth time that late afternoon, Risa felt her cheeks burn. The butterflies fluttering in her stomach were enough to make her want to hide somewhere where he couldn't see her so she'd finally calm down a bit and at the same time she couldn't bring herself to look away from his sweet serene expression for long.
She was reminded, time and time again, why she loved the fool so deeply.
"I'm really glad I came here. You really did shine today, Ootani." Their gazes locked again and she returned his sincere smile with one of her own. "I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for the world."
The day was rapidly approaching its bright orange, pink and red death but Risa was too busy thinking how this time she needn't call to him to look over there to catch his attention because she could almost lose herself in the encompassing depth of his chocolate eyes, so full of adoration and love… and all for her.
The butterflies in the pit of her stomach were causing real whirlwinds when his hand rested gently upon hers on the bench and her breath hitched at the contact that seared her skin like liquid fire. She had no time to dwell upon it though because about that time his lips had claimed hers in an even gentler hold.
As their fingers intertwined lightly, gingerly and their soft lips moved fluidly against one another, stiflingly powerful emotions and passions communicated through such a simple and innocent contact, Risa was taught by her boyfriend's tender kiss that there was nothing more important than being present at the right time and right place.
A/N: This is going to be a thirty-chaptered story for my Live Journal "Thirty Kisses" challenge as I'm not much up for the idea of there being way too many one shots up on my profile, especially since from now on they will have a thin connection between one another though not overly crucial sometimes. Also, the chapters won't be exactly thirty, as "Public Display of Affection" is a part of the series here; I had no idea where to fit it in with the rest of the storyline but it did happen somewhere along the lines of this tale.
The chapter title is derived, as you may or may not have noticed, from Oscar Wilde's famous play "The Importance of Being Earnest". I thought it would be interesting and it fit the topic somehow. I hope you liked the reference. Also, you can see I'm not one much for excessive use of Japanese in my chapters, but the honorifics and the ways the characters turn to one another is unique in the Japanese language and, somehow, removing those seemed to strip some of the plausibility of the story, so I kept it the way it was. Hope you didn't mind that.
For anything that you noticed wrong—spelling, grammar, typo—and any constructive criticism that will help make the story better to read, feel free to tell me! Feedback is strongly desired and greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading!