Chapter 4

Through a fortunate timing of the subway lines, Shuichi arrived at the stop closest to his home twenty minutes before his curfew deadline. Holding hands with his first lover, Shuichi and Anna heedlessly strolled through the dark streets enjoying the last moments of a perfect night together.

"Shouldn't I be walking you to your home?" asked Shuichi.

"I already asked my mom's driver to pick me up at your place," said Anna, "Besides, your mom said 'Bring my boy home by ten' and that's exactly what I'm going to do."

Anna sounded a little intimidated by Shuichi's mother, then as they reached Shuichi's two story apartment she let out a sudden gasp. There was a young girl staggering around the stairs that led up to the floor level where Shuichi lived. She was kicking empty beers cans piled up around her feet; then she held onto the staircase railing and vomited all over the side. Unable to keep her balance, the girl collapsed backwards onto the stairs.

"Isn't that Maho?" asked Anna, sounding shocked.

It was Maho, Shuichi couldn't believe it. They ran to her side. Standing over her, Shuichi could see whatever Maho had been doing she didn't even bother changing into her street clothes to do it. All she had on was a pyjama top, loose track pants, and house slippers. She looked up at them hazy-eyed and frowned. Anna was about to say something but Shuichi interrupted her right away.

"How did you get your hands on beer?"

Maho clumsily dug some loose change out of her pocket and let it spill all over the ground.

"V-vending... machine," she slurred out, not sounding the least bit repentant.

Right after she spoke more vomit was on its way out as Shuichi had to quickly dodge to keep a shower of sick from ruining his girl's dress shoes. Maho was very surprised to hear Shuichi use a swear word as his tone changed to a very take charge character Anna had never seen before from Shuichi.

"We have to find a way to sneak her back into the home," said Shuichi, "If my parents find her like this while she's with us we could both wind up grounded."

"What do we do?" asked Anna.

Shuichi spent a moment in thought, and he laid out his plan.

"We'll carry her up to the bedroom window. Then I'll go in, announce I'm home, and see if mom and dad know if Maho is missing. If everything is cool, I'll open the bedroom window and pull her in. If we can just get her into bed unnoticed we'll be fine."

"Shouldn't I come with you?" asked Anna.

"No," said Shuichi, "I'll tell my parents I escorted you home like a gentleman. I need you to stay out here and keep an eye on Maho to make sure she doesn't do anything until I can get the window open, and I'm going to need your help to boost her up. I'm not strong enough to lift her myself."

They each grabbed an arm of Shuichi's drunken sister and hauled her up the stairs. She didn't use her feet in any way to help, possibly out of spite. A slurring rattle poured out of her as Maho was dragged to the window of her bedroom. Carefully peering inside, Shuichi could see only the desk lamp was on, and there was no sign anyone had been inside. The window was closed but not latched shut. It was probably the way how his sister snuck out.

"Wait here," Shuichi whispered very quietly, "I'm going in, I'll say hello and good night to my parents; then I'll open the window."

Anna shook her head yes. Shuichi opened and closed the front door behind him very quickly so not to give his parents a chance to see outside. Holding Maho up against the wall as she ducked under the window, Anna could hear the muffled sounds of Shuichi greeting his parents. Anna concentrated to listen if Shuichi sounded nervous in any way. Moaning a little, Maho was trying to get Anna's attention as she was wiping drool and flecks of vomit off her face.

"Anna?"

"What?" Anna whispered hurriedly, as she worried someone would hear them.

"Did Shuichi kiss you?"

With her mind too bothered to scramble for more calculated answer, Anna could only admit Shuichi did kiss her. Maho spluttered in response and she turned away, looking miserable.

"That useless ass Riku hasn't tried to kiss me yet," said Maho, "He can't even bring himself to say my first name."

Inside Shuichi was trying to convince his parents he needed to get undressed right away because his wig was itching badly. Before he could open his bedroom door, his mother warned him that Maho was in an exceedingly bad mood and she was currently being grounded for her behaviour.

"Right," said Shuichi, "Uhh... I'll keep my distance."

Tightly shutting the door to the bedroom, Shuichi also shut the room divider to hopefully prevent any sound from the window reaching out of the room. As quietly as he could Shuichi slid the window aside and stuck his head out to see Anna bent over his passed out sister.

"She threw up again," said Anna.

Shaking his head in disbelief Shuichi went, "God dammit. Oh the smell! You didn't get any on you, did you?"

"No."

"Give me her hands and try to lift her, I'll pull her in," said Shuichi.

With a lot of pushing and pulling, Maho was hauled inside. Her pyjama top got caught on the window sill a few times and had to be yanked free. Finally she fell over the side and hit the floor like a sack of potatoes, making a huge flump sound. Shuichi had also fallen and sat on the floor, waiting for the sound of his parents approaching the bedroom. Nothing happened. Peering over the window sill, Anna whispered to Shuichi.

"I think you're in the clear."

A car horn was heard beeping near the building's corner.

"That's the ride I called for," said Anna, "Listen, when Maho wakes up tell her to drink a lot of water and take some Aspirin."

"Why?" asked Shuichi.

"Because she's going to have one hell of a headache," said Anna.

Saying goodnight, Shuichi quickly kissed Anna and she snuck away on tip toe down the walkway. As best he could Shuichi pulled his sister up onto her bed and he rolled her body into place. Unfortunately she was upside-down with her head at the wrong end of the bed, but Shuichi made up his mind that was just going to have to do.

Maho's clothes reeked of alcohol and vomit, something had to be done about how filthy they were. The washer and dryer were on the opposite side of the apartment from the parent's bedroom. All Shuichi had to do was wait for his parents to go to bed and then he could erase the evidence from Maho's attire. Of course that did mean Shuichi would have to undress his sister, but Maho almost always wore layers of clothes so there was another shirt and underwear underneath.

"Good morning sunshine," Shuichi said early the next day as he shoved the room divider aside to let sunlight hit Maho's face.

Anna frowned. Moaning, she lifted her arm over her face to hide from the brightness. Then she saw Shuichi was holding a glass of water and some pills.

"What the hell is that?" asked Maho.

"It's for your hangover, don't you have a headache?" asked Shuichi.

"Baka, I'm fine," said Maho.

"Really?" asked Shuichi, "You must have an amazing constitution."

Maho sat up in bed and sniffed her clothes.

"I did have a headache when I woke up around four this morning. I heard some water running outside the window."

"That was me," said Shuichi, "I had to hose your puke off the walkway so mom and dad wouldn't see it."

"Did you wash my clothes too?" asked Maho as she tugged at her shirt.

Shuichi just briefly shook his head, hoping to skip the uncomfortable issue about him undressing her. Letting out a swear, Maho scrambled around her bed until she found her cell phone, then she leaped out of bed and shoved her brother against the wall.

"You son of a bitch, you were at 'La Maison D'Amours Illicites' last night!"

Shuichi didn't know what Maho was talking about.

"The night club, baka!"

Thinking for a moment, Shuichi went, "That place had a name?"

Growling in frustration, Maho opened her cell phone and went through a list of photos that were sent to her. Then she found the one she was looking for and shoved it into Shuichi's face. Taking the phone, Shuichi could clearly see a high definition picture of himself sitting in a dinner booth. He was kissing Anna on the mouth while Maiko sat next to him.

"How did you get this?" Shuichi demanded.

Maho took her phone back and scrolled through a few more pictures and showed her brother a few close up pictures of the Visual-Kei singer that was in a booth close to Shuichi's. There were nearly a dozen fangirls there.

"Do you know any of the girls that were at the club?" Shuichi asked.

"No, not personally," said Maho, "Those photos have been circulating everywhere all over the net. After I got grounded one of the girls from the modelling agency sent this to me. I was so angry I snuck out to get drunk."

"Why?"

"Because it's not fair!" screamed Maho, "My brother is living the life I wanted to have! You're the pretty one! You're the popular one! You're the one hanging out with famous models in exclusive clubs! You even got my dumbass boyfriend to fall in love with you."

"Riku isn't in love with me," said Shuichi as he tried to hush his sister, "Do you think mom might have seen these pictures?"

Maho gave a derisive smile as she was oddly looking around Shuichi's open neck shirt.

"Have you talked to mom or dad yet this morning?"

"No, why?"

Maho pointed to her brother's neck and said, "You might want to do something about those, first."

Confused, Shuichi looked down to find purple splotches just barely within his line of vision. He used his sister's makeup mirror to see both sides of his neck had purple marks all over his skin.

"What are they?" he asked.

"Baka. Those are hickeys," said Maho.

"I didn't see them there last night," said Shuichi as he became worried.

"Relax," said Maho, "It takes a few hours for them to show up like that after you have been bitten."

Taking a seat in front of the makeup mirror, Shuichi took a few makeup sponges and started mixing a base to apply to his skin to cover up the hickeys.

"It won't work that way," said Maho, "You have to blend it all over or else you'll just have skin coloured patches."

"Then why don't you help me?" said Shuichi.

"Why should I?"

"I covered up for you, now you've got to help cover up for me," said Shuichi.

Shaking her head in disbelief, Maho got up and stood behind Shuichi. She took a container of skin coloured base and started mixing it with a small sponge.

"For someone who wants to be a cross dresser, you sure have a lot to learn about makeup."

As Maho painted all around Shuichi's neck, she noticed something peculiar. Closely she looked around the left side, then the right.

"What is it?"

"The bite marks on either side of your neck don't match," said Maho.

"What are you, a forensic scientist?" asked Shuichi.

Looking closer, Maho could see there was a gap in the imprints on the right side of Shuichi's neck.

"Maiko has an artificial tooth on the left side of her mouth. It's an expensive implant; I've seen her take it out when she was cleaning her teeth."

"Really? How did Maiko lose a tooth?"

"Getting in drunken bar brawls with sailors," Maho said sarcastically, "How the hell should I know? My point is, are you fooling around with Maiko on Anna?"

"No!" said Shuichi, as he pointed to his left side, "Look, when Anna was doing this to me."

Shuichi then pointed to his right, "Maiko was doing this at the same time."

Maho was about scold her brother in a retort, and then she suddenly stopped herself and went, "Yeah, that's Maiko alright."

When Maho was finished applying makeup onto her brother, she spun him around on her office chair to face him.

"The next time you get invited to 'La Maison D'Amours Illicites', you find a way to get me to come too."

The last thing Shuichi wanted was to get saddled with having his older sister as an escort when he wanted to be with his girlfriend, Anna.

"I'm not spending the whole day with you when Anna and I want to be alone," said Shuichi, "If you help cover up for our relationship I'll get you into the club with Maiko."

"When did you get to be such a little schemer?" asked Maho.

"Deal or no?" demanded Shuichi.

Impressed, and a little annoyed with how her brother was suddenly standing up to her, Maho had no choice but to agree. At breakfast that morning, Maho repeatedly ignored request from her mother to sit up straight as she grumpily munched on toasted biscuits. Father was bright and cheerful and asked Shuichi what he intended to do this summer vacation.

"I'm going to look for a job," said Shuichi.

"So soon?" asked mother, "I thought you would wait another year before working."

"It's something I've been thinking of for a while," said Shuichi, "If I'm going to be going out with Anna I'm going to need a lot more than my allowance to get by."

"Really?"

"It's the clothes," said Maho, "Anna spent all day looking at nice clothes, and Shuichi can't buy anything for himself."

Marvelling at his sister's clever improvisation, Shuichi agreed, "Yes, that is part of it. I'm also going to need to buy two sets of clothes. Boys and girls, since obviously I can't wear girl's clothes all the time."

"I think it's a great idea," said father, "Where do you intend to work?"

"I have some ideas," said Shuichi.