Disclaimer: I don't own Okane ga Nai.
A/N: Atashi is the feminine form of 'I', watashi the masculine.
Kanou Somuku smelt like alcohol.
The unfortunate young man that had accidentally poured a glass of sake into his lap, Kuba Misao, was ready to piss himself. His big brother Homare hovered anxiously in the corner, waiting to clean up the mess his boss would make of Misao for such a stupid, lethal mistake. Stunningly though, today Somuku was not in the mood. As late morning sunshine streamed through the office windows, he shucked off his wet clothes and snapped his fingers at Homare, who slipped out of his own garments and handed them over to his employer. Still tucking his shirt in, Somuku all but ran out, barking orders over his shoulder.
"Get those clothes to the launderer's! If they're not clean by the time I get back you'll be making friends with the taproot of an oak, I'll bury you so deep! Fucking handle business by yourselves today and cancel anything you can't handle, and don't fucking call me!"
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, he continued cussing in his head, swearing a blue streak at the disinterest that stopped him from attending last night's party, the pride that refused to notice Someya Kaoru's (Jr.) smug moods of late, the hurt that reared its unexpected head at having to find out what happened at the party not from Someya Kaoru (Jr.) but one of his annoying guests calling to spread the scandalous gossip and most of all Kaoru (Jr., still) himself and all the shitty things that went on his head to make him think he needed a sex-change operation.
In the Shibuya ward of Tokyo Metropolis, in a private hospital's dauntingly furnished waiting room, Kaoru sneezed.
"Someya Kaoru-san?" A rotund nurse walked in, and he stood up. She checked his name off on the clipboard she carried and smiled. "Good morning, my name is Oribe Kusunoki and I'll be taking care of you during our stay with us. We'll do our best! Please come with me."
Kaoru took a deep breath and returned her smile, his heart fluttering madly in his chest. As they walked together, Kusunoki looked up at him and spoke.
"Will your relatives be coming to support you today, Someya-san?"
Kaoru chuckled softly to himself, imagining his father's face from last night, when he'd declared to a host of affluent men and women that the third son of the Someya family was choosing to be a transvestite. Kaoru, (Sr.)'s cold, furious expression seared his memory more than the tight lipped look on his mother's face before she hid it behind her hands in shame.
"No, Oribe-san, I'm alone in my decision."
She shook her head as if to convey what a shame such a situation was, but to Kaoru it was only natural. Somuku's repugnance of new-halves wasn't an anomaly, it was the norm. And even with the whole world against him, Kaoru had to do this. The name-change documents were already filed with the government; he'd chosen the closest female approximation of his lifelong moniker. Someya Kaoru would become Someya Kaoruko. No big deal. He wasn't trying to cut out his family, he wasn't trying to reinvent himself. There didn't seem a soul left to care to know his reasoning, but Kaoru was merely becoming who he already was.
"Through this door," Kusunoki pointed the way, "You can change here; I'll take your clothes and effects to your room after you're in the theater."
The brunet nodded and complied; when he was finished she led him to an adjoining room.
"Someya-san," a doctor greeted him, offering him a gurney to sit on. "Good morning. How are you feeling?"
"A little bit nervous," Kaoru laughed, settling in, "And very excited."
Oribe Kusunoki ushered in an anesthesiologist who swabbed Kaoru's skin and looked for the right vein. "It'll be a neat process, Someya-san. A few hours in the operation theater, a few days' rest in the in-patient ward, and then you'll be home free. We'll be taking good care of you, so please relax."
"Yes," Kaoru looked away as the needle pierced, catching Kusunoki's eye, "I have faith in you gentlemen." She pulled a face and he grinned apologetically, meaning to amend himself, but the anesthesia was strong and he swerved in and out of consciousness as they wheeled him away. Oribe Kusunoki watched them leave and gathered his things into a bag before leaving the room herself, humming a sonata under her breath.
As she crossed from one wing to the other, she noticed a scene at the reception and lingered out of curiosity. A tall, handsome man was behaving like a beast, shouting at a gathered audience of exasperated doctors. Kusunoki had hardly to get closer to hear him.
"What the hell do you mean, you can't cancel the operation? It's ridiculous!"
"Your behavior is ridiculous." The cardiologist, Yamada Shoutaru, looked affronted beyond measure. "What do you think we are running here, a circus? You're not in Shinjuku, Kanou-kun. Please control yourself."
"Control myself! While you dissect him? My ass. I'll stop this nonsense if I have to break in to do it!"
"Someya-kun agreed to the process of his own will," Shoutaru hissed, "And break in? I'd like to see you try. By the time you found the operation theater he would be on his way to recovery."
Somuku made a violent movement that Oribe Kusunoki saw coming; she called out, "Please wait!" and he swung his arm back to himself, glaring at her.
"Who are you?"
Kusunoki looked towards the doctors. "I'm the nurse in charge of Someya Kaoru." Her gaze moved to Somuku's relentless aggression. "Um, I'd just like a moment. Please, the operation has already started, so don't interrupt it. No...wait!" she stepped closer to him, her eyes matching his in intensity. "He told me he was alone in his decision, but he never mentioned anyone as opposed to it as you seem to be. I apologize for asking an awkward question, but how are you related to him?"
And that awkward question took the wind out of Somuku's sails, leaving him so docilely nonplussed that Kusunoki dared hold his arm and gently lead him away from the madding crowds. Kaoru had booked a room on the highest floor, looking towards the Shinjuku ward, with an antechamber and a dainty powder room. Kusunoki seated Somuku in an armchair by the windows and placed Kaoru's bag o' belongings on the desk next to him. After she clicked the door shut behind her, Somuku dropped his head into his hands and snorted.
"How am I related to him...the way a sore side is related to a thorn, that's how. The way an ass is related to a whoopee cushion. The way... the way..." But it was hard to put it in human terms. They were related the way a Kanou is related to a Someya, end of discussion. They had known each other forever and a day. How could you define that bond?
A deep sigh built in his chest, crawling with feeling he would love to try and deny. There was nothing wrong with Kaoru. What was the point of changing...especially that part, the best part...? Hadn't the crossdressing been enough? Somuku had put up with that, hadn't he? Why this. Anything but this. Breast implants and castration, where the fuck was the sense in such self-mutilation, such disrespect to one's own body...he just couldn't wrap his head around it.
So for now he waited.
And the sun just slid by the windows, until the sky turned into a fierce streak of orange adorned by one flaming yellow orb, burning his eyes. Blinking, Somuku stood and paced the room until he decided it looked the same no matter how many footsteps he traced. The bag Oribe Kusunoki left behind grabbed his attention, and he shifted absentmindedly through it. A violet kimono with a floral pattern, plus a lavender obi. Earrings, a necklace, lip gloss and eyeshadow and foundation all in a paper packet. A purse. ID in it, plus photocopies of official documents regarding a change in name.
Someya Kaoru became Someya Kaoruko.
His legs turned to jelly and he collapsed into the chair. This was something final, this was something concrete. Imagining the man he'd taken baths with as a child without a penis was hard. Imagining the leggy, effeminate brunet responding to this name was not. It planted a seed of resignation in Somuku's heart, resignation that he would fight doggedly against until it seeped into his very soul. This couldn't be happening.
This couldn't be happening.
"Oribe-san...what did you say...?"
Kaoruko licked her lips and asked for some water along with answers. Kusunoki obliged both ways. The young aristocrat had been using the feminine form of "I" to address herself all along, but now Kusunoki needed to adjust her mind to change him to her.
"A young man named Kanou Somuku is waiting for you in your room, Someya-san. Are you ready to go?"
She was still lying on the gurney, too exhausted to sit but too agitated to stay still. Nodding impatiently, Kaoruko had to wait for Kusunoki to bring in a wheelchair and two attendants to lift her into it before pursuing her question.
"Why is he here? What did he say? Did something happen?" A sudden regret seized her, a doubt as to whether her parents could really survive this. Someya Kaoru Senior was an old man, what if his insolent child had set off a stroke or a heart attack...could Kaoruko still live with her decision if the price was not just estrangement, but the demise of someone so beloved...
Kusunoki set to steering their path with a will, the elevator being held open for them by a polite lady. "He...he was making a nuisance of himself at the reception, trying to stop you. I think I calmed him down."
"Stop me..." Kaoruko's heart settled into the mud. "Is that how it is."
Well how else would it be. Like Kanou Somuku was really going to have a change of mind regarding his stance against human rights for transsexuals just because Kaoruko was fulfilling her destiny as one?
Somuku stood up like he'd been sitting on a bed of nails as soon as the door opened, face contorted meaninglessly, and crossed the distance between them in two strides to heave Kaoruko onto her feet and into his arms.
"Kanou-kun!" Kusunoki gasped, "Please! Put her down!"
Over Kaoruko Somuku stared at the nurse who'd classified his childhood playmate as a woman. Dipping his head he smelt Kaoruko's soft, cucumber shampoo. And slowly, slowly, he set her back into her chair and raised a hand to cover his face with.
"I really didn't expect such an affectionate hello from you, Kanou no danna," Kaoruko said cheerfully, "Help mamma onto the bed, won't you?"
She had always talked this way. But this time it wasn't annoying. It was painful. Somuku didn't like this. He had never held her before, and never wanted to again. The feel of her new body against his was so wrong. Would it have been right if he'd tried sooner? Well, there was a question that would go unanswered.
Mutely, shamefully, he lifted her from the chair and delivered her to the bed. The nurse bustled around a while, making arrangements, and Kaoruko eased the burden of making conversation by chatting with her. Somuku stood uselessly by, smoking a cigarette without knowing what to say. It couldn't possibly be the same person he'd known sitting on that bed, being female. Somehow though that was exactly who she was. Everything had changed, nothing had changed. Kaoruko had been operated on, but Somuku felt like his insides had been cut out.
"Thank you for your hard work!" she beamed at Oribe Kusunoki as the older woman left. "Have a nice day!"
This was too much to take.
"You should've told me, you damn freak."
"Told you what?" Kaoruko still smiled. He would teach her to knock it off. This wasn't fucking funny. He would teach her to show wariness when dealing with him. He would tear her apart.
"That your weirdness reached this kind of limit! That you're so little of a man that it doesn't even matter to you to keep your that. Should've told me. Would've killed you."
Smiles would take more to be wiped away than that. Kaoruko tapped her chin with a long, tapering finger and batted her eyelashes thoughtfully. "You're so stupid, Kanou no danna. You came all this way just to see me and you're trying so hard to convince me you don't care. Am I supposed to believe you?"
"Why am I the villain here!" she raised her hands, palms outward, in mocking self-defense. "Good grief, what a glare. Is having a tranny for an acquaintance something so horrible to tolerate?"
Somuku had one grievance above all, one only. "You should've told me you were doing this. Walking into a hospital alone...pathetic. How badly do you want to be taken for an orphan?"
"Shut up! Don't fucking 'Kanou...' me!" He grabbed her shoulders, eyes smoldering like the cigarette in his right hand dripping ash onto her hospital gown. "How do you think I felt to be told by that slut Mutsumi that last night you declared your intentions to the whole world, but didn't even notice I wasn't there. Always hanging around me like a fly on a horse saying 'danna, danna' but it's all fake! If you gave half the shit you claim you do I would've known to be here."
"I didn't think you'd want to be here," snapped Kaoruko, touched and terrified by what he was saying, "Always calling me 'homo, homo' and telling me to get out of your life, isn't it obvious that I'd think you'd hate me even more for doing this? And you tried to stop me even though you found out at the last minute. If I told you you wouldn't have let me do it."
"Maybe I tried stopping you because I found out at the last minute! Maybe telling me would have allowed me time to think it over!" Somuku let go and rubbed his palm into his forehead. "Never mind. Forget I said that."
Kaoruko was looking at him with a serious, bright expression. "Do you really mean that?"
"Of course not."
"You mean it."
"You really mean it!" Tears spilled from her eyes and she reached out to him with both arms. "Kanou, you really love me any way I am!"
"No way! Fucking transvestite," he leaned away, "Keep your homo hands to yourself!"
She laughed through her tears in a moment of true blue joy. "Who's a homo? I'm a woman, and I love men. I've been telling you for years, but you never listened."
"Of course I was listening. I just didn't like what I was hearing." Somuku turned his back on her, confused. There was so much anger in him, and also a smidgen of happiness because, honestly. When was the last time she had laughed like this? For years it had been family fights and fall-outs and late night phone calls filled with anguish and choking tears. For years Somuku had been helpless to put a smile on those lips that reached the eyes, for so many years the Someya family had suffered their third son's teetering on the brink of despair and if this medical marvel was going to put an end to all the indecision...trying to force Kaoruko to look at girls, trying to force her to wear suits instead of dresses...if it would all just stop...
Well. Somuku's comfort might be a small price to pay.
"You're really here, aren't you?" her voice reached him warm and soft like a hand rubbing his shoulder. "You were worried. I was wrong. You don't hate me at all. I'll never forget."
"Stupid tranny...go to sleep."
"If you say so, Kanou no danna." The smile wouldn't leave. Her eyes glowed in the setting sunlight. "I'll get some sleep. I'm really happy you came, Somuku..."
He snorted, and then consented to murmur a reply. "Rest, Kaoru."
She tossed in bed and corrected him. "Don't be silly. It's Kaoruko now."
The sun dipped below the horizon, and Somuku put out his cigarette. "Right. ...Kaoruko."
A small price indeed.
I'm waiting with mournful patience for the manga to go back up on Manga Fox after La Purga but now One Manga says they're pulling out of the scanlating business and I'm worried MF will follow suit. So I guess I'm clinging to my memories by writing fanfiction, because four episodes of anime can only be watched so many times.