This is my attempt at a Hetalia-style random comedy/wtf-ckery style plot. It's meant to be a spoof on the economic rankings of different countries, as well as the general cut-throat competitiveness between Asian students.
A note about Wan Wan and Yong Soo: Taiwanese people (the people, not the government), are infamous for disliking South Korea the country. It's not to say all of them are, but it's just a popular web thing to find the most mundane reasons to flame Korea. My spoofing it is all in good fun, so don't take this story as Korea bashing or any of that ridiculousness.
A note about use of Asian phrases: I as much as anyone else am irritated by wanton usage of Wapanese phrases in fics. However, there are some common, popular Asian phrases that I am unable to translate into English without having it sound awkward/nonsensical, so I've decided to keep them in their original language.
I'm sorry for the long lag between updates on War Bride! The third chapter is almost done, it just needs to be finished and worked over. Thanks for waiting!
Please review, even if it is just to say that you didn't like the characterization and style of writing, and why. I'm new to writing fiction, and I feel lost as to whether or not this is good or bad characterization and plot pacing. 多謝！
"People, please! If you're going to have a riot over lists, at least let it be over fantasy football rankings or something that's worth it!" Alfred's voice barely managed to carry over the clamor as Asian countries he forgot had even existed were furiously punching away into their calculators to triple-check the new class rankings. He swore he saw Tibet, or perhaps it was Thailand (it was all the same to him anyhow), working away at an abacus.
"Yao? I thought you had asthma*," he sputtered as Wang Yao bravely dove into the mob.
"My desire to improve my academic standing allows me to overcome all physical handicaps, aru!" came the reply, or at least what Alfred thought he heard.
"Not all of us fall for those ridiculous 'Careers without a Degree' Internet articles."
Alfred turned this way and that to see who had tried to insult him. He suspected that it might have been Vietnam; she never did forgive him for his past transgressions. His terrible geography aside, he was soon distracted by the particularly unsettling fact that the mob had been pushed outwards until his back was to the window pane. Was it just him or did the glass look rather thin, and the building just a mite too tall? He'd heard of eliminating the competition, but this was really too much.
"Yeah, and you don't even need to care because you always come in first overall."
"Anything is possible if you're willing to throw money at people."
"He doesn't even need to bribe school officials. He's enough of a thug that they'll do it without him asking."
"A two-faced thug too. He'll smile at you and offer you easy favors, but watch out! He'll be doing it with a bomb or five behind his back."
"Who doesn't know about his violent tantrums? Go away, we don't need your kind terrorizing the learning environment."
So this is how they show thanks for his free tutoring and homework help. Alfred, against his nature, obliged; defending his manly honor and fighting the unjust accusations against him would have to take a back seat to avoiding being thrown out of the building. No one noticed him ungraciously slinking away, as they were distracted by the simultaneous "YAHOOOO" and a "NO" that could have been a mother mourning for her lost child.
After her outburst, Wan Wan moped around looking for sympathy. She had slipped back after the latest round of exams, and that, that thing was now sitting in what was rightfully her spot on the list. "This is impossible. I only had eight hours of sleep last week studying for it," she wailed after adding up the scores for the sixth time.
Yong Soo materialized next to her, and slid his arm around her shoulder. He gave her a sick, greasy smile as he absently toyed with the flower ornament she was so fond of wearing in her hair. His long lock of hair irritated her nose. "Well Mei mei, what can I say? I knew one way or another I'd end up on top. Maybe you should come study with oppa next time. Kiku Honda clearly isn't doing it for you. We can pull an all-nighter, and you can just show up with just a six-pack of beer, if you know what I mean."
"Is there anyone in our class that you haven't hit on yet?" Wan wan said, having fought off the combination of hostility and sickliness that she always felt upon seeing Yong Soo. Just being grouped with him as one of the "Four Asian Tigers" annoyed her. It wasn't enough for them to be considered peers, no. He had to go and compete directly against her, and have the audacity to cheat to pull ahead. She didn't have any direct proof of it, but he had to have cheated, there was no other way. He had a big enough reputation for plagiarizing, and it wouldn't be below him to do it even for school exams.
Before she could answer, one of their classmates "jostled" him and his hand just so happened to grope her chest. Yong Soo was only able to grin impishly before Wan wan sent a super-sonic slap his way. "Disgusting!"
She gasped as Yong Soo stumbled backwards right into Singapore, who was kowtowing and thanking every Bodhisattva he could name for his dramatic improvement. "Ay shibal!" Yong Soo rattled off as he rolled off of Singapore's back and right into Wang Yao. They'd all heard him say his favorite swear enough times to know what it meant without knowing a lick of Korean.
To the surprise of all, Wang Yao pulled him to his feet and bathed him in radiant joy that could not have been from seeing Yong Soo. "I'm the new number one, aru!" he announced, and embraced Yong Soo for the sake of sharing his joy all around. Yong Soo couldn't believe his luck today. First he finally beat Wan wan, then he claimed Kiku Honda's privilege before the sucker had even realized it was his, and Wang Yao was hugging him, of his own volition! Never mind that Yao had gone temporarily insane from joy and did not realize it was Yong Soo that he was hugging; a hug was a hug. There was only one thing left to do to make his day complete.
The old number one, and thus new number two, was standing apart from the mob and hanging his head in shame. Hong Kong somberly patted his back, and tried to talk the class president out of committing ritual suicide. "Honda 班長*,please reconsider. It has to be a clerical error. Perhaps one of the teachers miscalculated the scores."
"No one miscalculates by 100 points," Kiku Honda said in monotone.
"If not for yourself, then at least think of Wan Wan. If you go on and disembowel yourself, who will support her when Wang Yao gets angry?"
"She can take care of herself. In the worst case, Alfred will be there. There's always a replacement for me."
"Don't be melodramatic. What if she hears you being so callous-"
"Hey Kiku Honda," Yong Soo said in a volume loud enough to draw everyone's attention. "I touched your girlfriend's boobs, and I liked it."
Kiku made a strained, squelching sound like a dying animal. Before Wan Wan could assault Yong Soo and beat him senseless, Kiku made a dash for one of the windows.
"Lock the windows and keep him away!" Hong Kong said and tried to tackle him to the ground. Wan Wan threw herself in front of the windows and spread her arms apart, daring him to go against her. He hesitated for a moment, if only because she looked her best when she was being defiant and assertive. Wan Wan grew tender, and was about to reach out to him when his face set with resolution. Kiku took the chance while she was off guard to open the latch and push the window down.
Several of his classmates leaped onto him, yet through sheer will power he hoisted one leg up on the ledge.
"Honda 班長, don't place all of your self-worth into a number. These are all transient things," Tibet said in consolation.
"Suicide is the easy way out," said Mongolia. "You're not a man if you don't find the chance to reclaim what's yours."
"Kiku Honda, if you don't step away from the window I'll chase you down all eighteen levels of Hell* and let you know what it really is like to be miserable," Wan Wan said as she pushed down on his shoulders.
"Jump! Jump! Jump! Too bad there's no record to beat for how high or low you're jumping. Guess you're a loser even in death," Yong Soo said. He was hopping from foot to foot in demonic glee.
"Shut up, Yong Soo!" they said in unison.
"Honda 班長, don't be so negative! You should celebrate another classmate's success!" Wang Yao said.
Kiku shook his head furiously to block out the dialogue flying around him. They underestimated his ability to single-mindedly focus on one task. How else did he get to be number one? No, he forgot that he was not number one anymore. He was now number two. First loser.
Seeing that he was more depressed than terrified of her threats, Wan Wan changed tactics. "Kiku," she said, trying to be as calm and gentle as she could while struggling against him. "Why don't you calm down and we'll go to a maid café and just forget about all this grade silliness?'
"A cheap trick like that won't make me change my mind, Wan Wan," he said. This jumping out of the building business really would be a lot easier if there weren't five people trying to weigh him down.
"A cat café then? You love cats. You can have purr therapy."
"No, this is beyond anything purr therapy can fix! I've completely failed myself, my boss, and my people. The only way is for me to jump!"
"What about that hobby of yours?" Sadly to say, she often competed with that "hobby", and needless to say lost most of the time. Damn him and his otaku nature. "Think about all the new Vocaloid songs you won't be able to hear, all the new series and doujinshi you'll miss out on." However, it would mean that there would no longer be anyone blathering on to her about things she had no idea about.
"Those are all transient things, like Tibet said!"
Wan Wan thought desperately, and came to the solution of what he would never be able to resist. "Kiku, we'll go downtown and do all of that, and I'll dress up as any one of those 2D girls you want." She brought out the big guns and practically purred this into his ear. Sexy and seductive was not really her thing, but it didn't mean she was incapable of it. Hopefully the change would be a shock to him as well.
Kiku was in agony; she had fought dirty and appealed to the darkest corner of his otaku nature. If his girlfriend cosplayed, then from the Transitive Property he could conclude that he was dating whatever character she dressed up as. It would also mean that he would accomplish the holy grail of every male otaku, and give him superiority over the millions of them! They only had figurines, wall scrolls, and nudie pictures, but him, he had the real deal.
"Any of them?" he asked, trembling now from excitement.
"From the slutty to the downright disgustingly kinky."
"Alright then," Kiku said. He allowed Wan Wan to pull up the windows and lock it so tightly the metal screeched. Seeing that he had calmed down, everyone else let go and stepped back. Hong Kong quickly flew in to save face for Kiku Honda.
"Honda 班長 is so passionate about his school work that he has temporarily lost his senses from disappointment," Hong Kong declared as Kiku Honda smiled weakly. The mob, seeing that the immediate danger of suicide had been averted, now turned to Wang Yao.
"Wang Yao you bastard, you set the grading curve and screwed me over!" someone yelled.
"Yes! Now we all look like idiots compared to you!"
Even though Wang Yao's grin was still fixated on his face, he had started to sweat. He grabbed hold of Yong Soo, and threw him to the rabid masses. Before they could realize that they were beating Yong Soo instead of Wang Yao, he had run off. "Thank you for all of your support and congratulations, aru!" His voice floated down the hallway as he zoomed towards the stairs.
Even with all the double-sided tape in the world, Wan Wan still felt insecure about the two small triangles Kiku Honda called a top. He had insisted that it was all in the character design for the bikini to be so small. It wasn't just the side-boobage or under-boobage that worried her; it was the all-around exposure that had her obsessively checking if her cup had spilleth over.
The scandalously indecent micro shorts did not help much either. The shiny black PVC squeaked as she walked, and she had a killer wedgie since she had absolutely refused the appropriate undergarment. Who knew where it had been before she got to it? Buying it was one thing, but this was a rented costume, and she didn't quite like the way the clerk was ogling her. Wan Wan wrapped the long jacket around her since the staring was getting unbearable. The cover girl of Vogue Nippon, she wasn't. She felt it was best to not ask what age the character was supposed to be.
"Kiku, do I have to wear this ridiculous thing on my eye?" Wan Wan asked. The bikini and micro shorts, a sacrifice she was willing to make to save his life. The long black pig-tail wig was kinda cute. But the plastic blue flame she was supposed to wear on her eye? At least without it, she could claim to be some kind of child prostitute. But with it, she just felt like an idiot.
He gave her his reply by interlocking his fingers with hers, and smiled sappily. Wan Wan was taken aback; this was almost his way of swapping saliva on a park bench. She slowly realized the reason for his behavior, and the uglier her mood grew the more confused Kiku got.
She broke free from him and stopped walking. "You jerk, this is the first time you ever held my hand and it's only because you're pretending I'm an anime girl," Wan Wan said. Her boyfriend was unable to give an answer. She really lost her temper now, but had enough mercy left in her to refrain from throwing an uppercut. She really did want to send him flying, but settled with tearing off the plastic eye cover and throwing it at his forehead. Kiku she would spare today, so Yong Soo would have to take his place.
"Dude, she's hot," a by-stander said, and patted Kiku's shoulder.
"She's drop-dead gorgeous when her menstrual cycle kicks in," Kiku replied. He wasn't sure if it was in ironic dread or bliss.
*- I know Wang Yao doesn't canonically have asthma, but seriously, have you ever seen Beijing? The people there live in a poisonous yellow cloud.
**- A Chinese phrase that means "class president". I've always found it somewhat awkward when these titles were translated to English, so I left it in Chinese.
*1- "Oppa" is for females to address males as "big brother" in Korean. It's often used in a flirty way from a girlfriend to her boyfriend, or when a girl wants to be cute with a guy. Since it doesn't have that kind of connotation in English I left it in Korean.
*2- There are 18 layers of Hell in Chinese Buddhist belief.