I don't own JSRF…I DO own this fic so don't plagiarize… I hope you liked chapter 1
The Morning After
GG HQ, Corn's room- Monday, 8:00am
Corn rolled onto his back and pulled the sheets from over his head. He sat up and scratched his neck and chest. He scratched the back of his head and looked over to his right. Empty bed… again. That seemed to be the way things were going these days. He didn't want to think about it too long though, he had a pretty bad headache. He rolled out and sat on the edge of his bed scratching himself again. When did I get back to my room? He let the thought hang in the air and after a while he just shrugged it off. He eyed the alarm clock as it sat on the floor. It read eight o'clock but he was positive he could hear noises from downstairs which, of course, meant that the others, or some of them at least, were up. He continued to stare at the clock as 8:00 became 8:01. As he literally watched time pass him by his mind began to work backward, replaying the events that took place much earlier that morning. Most people forget what they do when they drink… not Corn.. What the fuck was I thinking? Cube must think I'm some kinda nutcase… god… I can't believe I cried all over her like that.
He heard more noise from downstairs. He'd have to go down eventually, better now than later. Well… it's not like it's up for debate… time to face my peers… again. He didn't want to. He wanted to just go back to bed. He didn't even have any idea of what he wanted to do that day, he didn't have to work for a few days. If he wanted to hang out with Cube he would have to either wait until four o'clock or bug her at work and he didn't want to do that. Gum hardly ever told him what she'd be doing on any given day and she had recently changed jobs so he didn't know her work schedule… all the same, they were pretty tense around each other lately and doing anything with her really wouldn't be any fun, or at least not as fun as it could be, because he knew that eventually there would be an argument or she'd be cold towards him and he wouldn't speak as a result or, maybe, she'd invite Beat along which would just make things even more awkward because they'd be flirting with each other whenever they thought he wasn't paying attention.
Even if none of that happened it still wouldn't be any fun for him because he was starting to feel his hypomania lately. His speech wasn't rapid and his self-esteem was far from inflated, but he was getting less sleep than he usually did and he was having trouble controlling some of his actions (he noticed that he'd started pacing his room and biting his nails more often than usual. The others had also mentioned among themselves that he seemed quite easily distracted lately). He at least knew that it wasn't far enough along for him to become emotionally flattened or impulsive or hypersexual… yet. For a moment he wondered how Cube would react to it when those little symptoms started to show themselves. Of course he was hearing music in his head and that was considered a bad sign. Maybe if he was lucky he wouldn't go too insane… maybe just enough to be another Iggy Pop or Syd Barrett.
He got up and went to his closet. A few minutes later he was dressed with his jacket draped over his arm. He'd decided to leave his hat… why he'd decided to leave it he wasn't sure. The moment he stepped foot outside of his room he retched and soon found himself rushing to the bathroom with his hand covering his mouth in an attempt to keep the vomit from spewing from his mouth… he just barely made it. He rose from his knees wiping his mouth then went to the sink and rinsed his mouth with tap water then Listerine. As he tried to gather himself he splashed water on his face and dug the crust out of his eyes. When he was done he took a look at himself in the mirror. His skin was losing color and small zits were scattered all over his face. His eyes were red; bags and dark spots had formed under and around them. There was hair all over his face and neck. His face was getting thinner. He hadn't slept well in ten days and it was really showing. He looked terrible; he looked like a walking cadaver.
He scratched his chin as he exited the bathroom; he hadn't shaved in three days. I need to buy some razors. Dirt-blonde stubble ran from his chin to his sideburns. He slowly switched from scratching his chin to rubbing his stubble and as he did so he wondered if Beat was also hypomanic… that was an entertaining thought. It would mean that Gum was attracted to basket-cases. After a second thought he decided that Beat may actually have Narcissistic Personality Disorder… it seemed more likely at least.
Maybe his time would be better spent figuring out what possible personality disorder Gum had.
He could hear a few of the others making noise in the kitchen as he found his way down the stairs. One of them must've seen him coming because they started to quiet down as he approached. Who was in there anyway? He stepped into the room and went straight for the coffee maker. He leaned against the counter. He seemed to be focusing only on the cup of coffee as he poured it. In reality, though he wasn't looking at them directly, he was focusing on the others and took roll in his head. Six of them were there. Let's see… there's Garam, Soda, Jazz, Clutch, Combo and Rhyth. They all looked pretty tired, which led him to wonder just why they were up so early… and why they were all staring at him so intently. His eye twitched. It was annoying. He didn't bother to face them, he just said it. "What're you all starin' at?" And since when are any of you up at eight in the damn morning? He saw a few of their eyes widen slightly but after a moment or so of discomfort they stopped looking at him and went back to their conversations… well, except Rhyth she just sat there with a look that seemed to say "a pox be upon you". He found it odd that Rhyth, of all people, wasn't a morning person. He wasn't surprised to see her up early though, she always got up before everyone else. She explained to him once that she would do that because whenever she woke up she was surly and tended to get into arguments and the occasional fist-fight with the others; she needed to wake up early so that she could calm her nerves before seeing the others or something regrettable could happen. He let his eyes wander away from her but the memory of the time that Garam said the wrong thing to her and soon found her hand down his throat (she was trying to twist his tongue out of his mouth) brought a slow smile to his face. It didn't stay long because after a few moments he began to wonder whether or not Cube had bothered to eat before she left. She had a habit of skipping breakfast; he often found himself forcing her to sit and eat by threatening to kick her out of the gang if she didn't.
Eventually he began to wonder what she was doing at that very moment. It soon occurred to him that it wasn't appropriate for him to be thinking about her so much when he did in fact still have a girlfriend… as far as he knew.
He absently took a swallow of his coffee and instantly spit it back into his cup. He poured it out in the sink. I've gotta start buyin' whole beans.
"I've told you a thousand times… you've gotta start gettin' whole beans."
Corn looked over his shoulder and there was Gum… kind of odd that she suddenly wanted to speak to him, she had been giving him the cold shoulder for the past four days or so. She hadn't been completely avoiding him but she wasn't speaking to him up until that point. Their argument had been pretty nasty. Why was she suddenly speaking to him again? "You're a fuckin' mind reader." He took a butter knife out of a drawer and used it to scrape the taste off of his tongue. "I don't know who made that but it was nasty."
"It couldn't have been that bad."
"The coffee was bad and whoever made it should feel bad." When he said that Clutch silently vowed that he'd never make coffee for the others again. Gum giggled, which was odd. They'd gotten into arguments before and never once had she laughed at anything any sooner than a week afterward. He didn't like where this was going. "So… what's up?"
She was checking around the shelves to see what there was to eat. She pulled out a box of pop-tarts. "Huh? Oh… nothin' I guess… you're off from work today, aren't you?" He nodded. "You wanna do somethin' today?"
He thought about that for a moment. "… What's there to do?"
It was her turn to think this time. "… I don't know… same thing we do every day I guess. What else is there to do?"
Corn shrugged at her. He hadn't really thought about it before. "I was really just gonna go back to bed"
For the second time Corn noticed that some of the others were watching. He played it off as though they weren't there at all, something that wasn't out of the ordinary for him. "Nothin' else to do… I haven't gotten much sleep lately anyway."
Gum reached into the box and pulled out one of the pouches. She tossed it to Corn then immediately went back into the box. "Well, think of somethin', I don't wanna stay here all day."
So this was just a half-hearted attempt at making up. She must've gotten tired of giving me the silent treatment… or she got tired of Beat, where is Beat? He decided it would be in bad taste to ask… and anyway, there really wasn't any proof that they were… well, he really didn't want to think about that. He scratched his head then opened the pouch and took a bite of an un-toasted pop-tart. "Tell you what… why don't we just go out and see what happens."
She pulled her pop-tart out of the toaster. "You mean you don't have any ideas?"
"Not a one."
"That's not like you."
"I'm thinking outside of the box, that's very like me."
"You aren't thinkin' too far outside the box; any idiot could come up with that one."
"Obviously this isn't my proudest moment; way to rub my face in it… really, you do good work… very thorough."
She rolled her eyes just slightly. "Whatever dude… I was goin' to go to the record store, how about we start there and figure out the rest later?" Corn thought for a moment and mumbled an affirmative response. She stared at him for a moment then raised her free hand using it to push his bangs out of his face and behind his ears. She had a somewhat displeased look on her face and she groaned just slightly as she touched the discoloration around his golden-brown eyes. "You really haven't been gettin' a lotta sleep lately, have you?"
Corn shook his head. "Not much. I've been havin' one of my… phases." He tapped his temple a few times. "I've been hearin' music in my head."
"That's bad… isn't it?"
"Yep." He cracked a smile as he turned to leave the kitchen. "Hey at least I haven't started speaking in rhymes; I know that drives you nuts."
She let her eyes drop downward for just a second. "It doesn't drive me nuts, it's just really annoying." She finished off her pop-tart. "What kind of music are you hearing?"
"Tchaikovsky, Pavarotti, pretty much everything from 'Carmen…' the usual."
"… Huh?" Gum raised an eyebrow; she didn't recognize any of those names.
He turned to face her as he exited. "Opera music." With that he was on his way back upstairs.
Gum sighed as he vanished. Why couldn't he just lie to me? He knows I don't listen to opera music. For the first time she noticed that the others were watching her. "What are you starin' at?" They all ducked their heads down and finished their breakfast. She rolled her eyes and left the kitchen.
When she was gone Clutch looked up at the entrance, he then turned to Garam and they shared a sort of sneering chuckle. Jazz got up. She dropped her bowl in the sink just before she left. Soda's eyes followed her out of the room. After a few minutes or so Garam, Clutch and Soda left the kitchen leaving only Combo and Rhyth. They sat there quietly finishing their breakfast until Rhyth tapped her foot against Combo's shin to get his attention. He looked up at her to see that she was watching him intently. They stared at each other and after a few seconds she looked at the kitchen entrance then back at Combo. He sighed and swallowed the last of his cereal. "Whatever's goin' on with those two I don't want to know. It's none of my business."
Rhyth nodded. "… Do you think he–"
Rhyth was caught off guard by the abruptness of his speech. She gave it some thought. "No… he doesn't seem rike he would."
"I guess you never know… I don't think he did though."
"What about… her?"
Combo sneered and returned his gaze to his breakfast. "What about her?" Rhyth only shrugged; she didn't think Gum would do that to him but that didn't mean it couldn't happen. Combo knew that that was what Rhyth would say if she'd bothered to answer. He draped his arm across Rhyth's shoulders and let it gently rest there. "Ryo-chan… normally I guess I'd at least form an opinion and… maybe see if I'm right… I just don't think I can do it this time. I don't know enough about… them… about them bein' together… so…"
"It's okay… I know… this is all too fucked up."
Combo absorbed that and nodded. "Yeah… yeah, it is."
Box Office Video, Shibuya Terminal- 10:31am
"So, Yu... I was just wonderin' if you wanted to go out later. A little dinner, a movie… maybe a drink?"
"Okay, well, how about–"
"What part of 'no' is a difficult concept for you to understand Ryuji?"
Here was Cube, trying to do her job and this desperate fuck was bugging her for a date again. The guy was so annoying. Why won't he just leave me alone? I mean… I admire his optimism but still, I don't want anything to do with his ass. He wasn't ugly, in fact he was quite handsome; he was a college student about two years older than she was and he was pretty well-off… but he was also a bug, annoying and obnoxious. She'd been working at this video store for six weeks and almost every day he bugged her about a date. Of course she said no the first several times. She thought about it once, but after hearing him talk to a few of his friends about girls (in general) she decided that it would be best to hit him with a steady stream of no's.
She picked up another stack of newly returned movies and took them to the back room where the videos were kept. "Where's the old man?" She meant her boss, Ryuji's father. She turned away from him as she started to order the videos alphabetically on the shelves.
"He'll be here a little later, why?"
She didn't bother turning around. "Because I'm quitting and I want the money I earned for last week."
"What? You're quitting, why?"
"I don't like this job." She heard him taking a few steps toward her. She ignored it and continued to work.
"Come on, that can't be all if you're quitting."
She stopped shelving the tapes and sighed. "I just don't see myself working here long term. I feel like I should find something more lucrative… and maybe a bit less tedious."
She heard him stop very close to her. "Well, as long as you're definitely leaving… why not go out, just as a sort of goodbye and good luck celebration?"
Cube's eye twitched. "No."
"Ah come on, why not?"
Cube stopped working. She sighed and stared at the task she'd been trying to get out of the way. "Because I don't like you. You're annoying and you haven't learned to take no for an answer." She went back to work, ignoring his proximity to her. "You bug the fuck out of me and you don't have any respect for women. I don't want anything to do with you."
She heard him snicker just a little. "Oh come on… maybe you just shouldn't be so stuck-up." She suddenly felt a cold chill run up her spine as he wrapped his arms around her hips, pressing his own into her butt. "So why not go out with me, if you spent the night with me I'm sure you'd like me better." His hand slid from her hips to her stomach and was slowly traveling upward to her breasts.
Cube sighed. She relaxed herself and took his hands off of her. She turned slowly and allowed a small smile to cross her lips as she made eye contact with him. "You really think so?"
His mouth pulled into a smirk. "You know it."
She moved closer to him allowing herself to press against him and gripped his belt. "Are you sure you could handle me?"
His smirk grew into a grin. "Heh, I know it."
Cube kept the smile on her face and changed her tone from seductive to cheerful in an instant. "Okay." She slipped her right hand off of his belt. The next thing Ryuji felt was an astonishing amount of pain as she seemed to be crushing his testicles in her hand. She pushed him against the nearest wall and grabbed his shoulders with both of her hands as she slammed her knee into his genitals. She didn't take her knee away, in fact she grinded it in, twisting and crushing his balls like a human blender. When she finally took her knee away she grabbed him by the mouth and slammed his head against the wall. "Do you think you're the first guy to try and get into my panties you little asshole? Stomping out little motherfuckers like you is second nature to me." She released him and he slid to the floor. "Don't ever touch me like that." She stepped away from him and went for the doorway to the main section of the store stopping just before she stepped through. "As soon as your father's here I'm getting my check and splitting." She turned her head, casting her glare on him from over her shoulder. "You need to learn how to treat a woman… if you can't respect women I guarantee this sort of thing is gonna happen to you more often than not."
With that she left the room.
"…And that's 35,600¥ ($320)." Ryuji's father almost always paid her in cash as a courtesy. He was like that, always making things easier for her, no matter how minor his actions may be. He was never a difficult boss, she liked him… she just didn't like Ryuji. "Are you sure about this Yu? What are you going to do about employment?"
Cube smiled slightly as she pocketed her severance. "I'll get by… I've already got another job lined up." That was a lie of course; she had no idea where she was going to work.
He stared at her for a moment. After a few seconds he nodded and allowed a small smile to appear on his face. "Oh, I'm sure you'll take care of yourself from here on… but… why don't you take this." He wasn't asking her, he was telling her. He pulled her hand out and placed something in it. Before she could see what it was he was pushing her toward the door. "Well, you'd better get going… I'm sure you have things to do. You young people always do these days, constantly on the move… I try to get Ryuji to be more active but he seems satisfied to remain the way he is now, he doesn't have the same self-motivation that you seem to have…" When he finally got her outside he let a few final words of encouragement slip from his tongue. "Well, you take care of yourself, a girl like you has nowhere to go but up." She stood and started back at him, confused, as he closed the door, flipped the "open" sign to "closed," and lowered the steel security shades.
"He's closing already? It isn't even one o'clock yet…" She remembered the item in her hand and opened it to see what it was. Her eyes widened when she found that she was holding 20,000¥ folded into a small square. If her math was correct (and it usually was) she was currently carrying just a few cents short of $500. She wanted to thank him but he'd locked down the store. All she could do was stand there and smile at her good fortune.
"Now what am I going to do with the rest of the day?"
I originally wanted this to lead into something bigger but given the amount of time I've spent working on and off on this and other stories I decided to cut it short and just work on the rest later. I figured it would take me even more time if I did everything I wanted to do on it so this'll have to do for now.