"Senpai! Why are you doing this!"
"Woah… I thought he was cooler than that…"
"What? Why aren't my fake boobs working! I guess I understand why girls wouldn't be into it, because they are clearly jealous. They wish they could have boobs like me. But the dudes! This is a substantial pair of fake boobs I'm rolling with here! The fidelity of these things are unprecedented! They should be all over me! I mean, even I am all over me!" Souji thought, struggling to not burst out laughing in front of the entire audience. He loved letting his mind run rampant with absurd stupidity. His concerns about being mocked and humiliated were long gone. He was even quite pleased with the response from the audience. It was more cries of heartbreak and despair from the female students and less eruption of laughter, which he welcomed. If a girl couldn't can't appreciate the utter hotness of a female Souji Seta, then, well, that was their problem, and he wouldn't want to be with them anyway. Though, he didn't blame the girls for reacting the way they did. He knew was quite popular among the female student body, and he was sure this was a heartbreaking moment for most of them. Unlike what he told Yosuke, he was pretty sure the girls here weren't into dudes who cross dress. That was fine. Souji knew of one lady in the audience who was still into him even after he crossdressed. He smiled at the thought of Yukiko, and scoured the audience to find her.
"Dammit, Yukiko gets the boys attention with her boobs, why can't I? I bet I even have a better rack than her..." Souji would, as he did with Teddie, stare at Yukiko's boobs for a little while and then look down at his own, comparing and contrasting. While he had to admit Yukiko's boobs had a bit of an edge over his, because, well, her's were actually real, he thought they were pretty comparable. He figured that having fake boobs that could compete with real ones was quite the feat. He understood why she had all the boys attention, though. While hers were more modestly sized than his, they were much rounder and-
"Ugh, I'm a horrible pervert."
Souji quickly shoved those thoughts out of his mind. He didn't want to go down that down that dark path right now. And frankly, it also just wasn't true. Yukiko got the boys attention by being beautiful in general, not only because of her boobs. She would then win their hearts by being a ridiculously wonderful, intelligent, caring, and funny person to be around. That's how she won him over, anyway.
Souji had to admit he was still reeling from hearing that he's one of the reasons it's been the "time of my life" for Yukiko. As much as he wanted to believe she meant it in a romantic, flirty way, he couldn't be too sure. He was going to find out soon, though. Ever since the group date cafe, he's been done pussyfooting around with Yukiko. He's been afraid to confess to Yukiko for far too long. Sure, he kind of hinted that he was interested in her during the group date, but he didn't go far enough. He needed to tell her just how much she meant to him, and finally find out if she had similar feelings toward him.
Maybe there was something about being dressed in lady clothes in front of the entire school that jostled something in his brain that gave him the courage to finally do this. Maybe this crossdressing stuff was the last Souji's sanity could take, and he was finally going insane, which gave him some sort of pseudo courage. Regardless, he was convinced he's never been this determined to do something in his life.
"Ugh! What a freak!" Yukiko heard a nasally voice not too far behind her. She turned to identify the voice, and found that it was Hanako talking to some of her friends. While Yukiko didn't love hearing the occasional snide remark about Souji, she did what she could to not be bothered by it. She turned away and focused her attention to the stage. Souji, in particular. It reassured her that Souji seemed to be enjoying himself up on stage, which put her mind at ease. If he was not going to care and just have some fun, so would she.
She would notice Souji was just smiling and looking at her. She was more then happy to respond with a smile of her own, but was curious why Souji was acting this way.
"Souji's just looking and smiling at me," Yukiko said to Chie, "…why?" Chie chuckled.
"He does that all the time." Yukiko gave Chie a bewildered look.
"Uhuh! And you want to know why? It's because he looooves you." Chie laughed as she saw Yukiko's face turn scarlet. While Chie loved teasing her best friend, she couldn't help feeling a bit jealous. Not that she wanted to be with Souji, but rather, Yukiko was going to be with the guy of her dreams soon, while Chie wasn't. Chie mentally sighed, but instantly started feeling bad. This was an exciting time for her two friends. It wasn't the time for jealousy or envy.
"They look like abominations," Hanako said to her friends, "Souji-kun is up there smiling and stuff, enjoying himself. What a gay creep. I used to think he was cute, but not anymore. I wouldn't even want to be seen with that fag. I doubt any girl would." Hanako and her group of friends laughed. Hanako's loud, nasally voice was hard to miss, so everyone in the surrounding area heard her, even if they didn't want to. While some girls didn't love seeing their crush and senpai on stage like this, many of them agreed Hanako was taking it too far.
"What's with Hanako-chan and her homophobic crap?" One student would whisper to another.
"Pretty hypocritical, since I hear that Hanako-chan and Ms. Kashiwagi are really, really close. Like, a 'oh let me help you out of those clothes, teacher. I know you've had a long... hard day,' kind of close."
"Eww! Why would you even put that picture in my head!"
"I'm just sayin'. Rumors get around."
None of the gossiping students would ever actually say anything like that to her face, though. It was the general consensus that Hanako was a hostile force to be reckoned with. Even things like simple eye contact could be perceived as a threat in Hanako's eyes, so most students did what they could to avoid her.
Yukiko shook her head and sighed, upset. She wanted to keep her high spirits up, but this was just untenable. Not only was Hanako slandering Souji, but she was doing it in an incredibly offensive way with distasteful and derogatory language. She never could stand people like that. She would at times get in trouble for scolding customers at her inn when they would make similar remarks in her presence.
"A girl that isn't an insecure, ignorant, bigot like you would still be into him," Yukiko darkly muttered, "you're the one that looks like an abomin-…" Yukiko stopped herself before finishing the sentence. She didn't want to be like that.
Chie could tell her best friend was bothered by Hanako's remarks, and decided to change the subject to get her mind off things.
"So, have you taken any pictures? We wouldn't want to forget a moment like this, would we?" Yukiko's stern, upset face quickly lightened up. She laughed.
"I haven't! Good idea!" She took out her cell phone and pointed built-in camera at the stage. She could see Souji was still looking and smiling at her. He raised his eyebrow at her at the sight of the phone camera.
"Taking a picture, hmm?" Souji thought, "May as well strike a pose for the picture. I have this dumb sword prop. My as well put it to good use."
"Sounds like you're entrance is-" The MC begun to ask, but was interrupted by a wave of laughter from the audience. Souji decided to take a battle stance to pose for Yukiko's picture. He had his legs spread wide and squatted, one leg forward, one leg back. He leaned into his back leg, putting most of his weight on it. He held his sword over his head with both of his hands in a defensive position, ready to block any incoming attacks. While Souji knew this stance was plenty effective in a fight, he had to admit it looked pretty silly. Which is, of course, why he did it. He was sure he looked even more comical than he normally would, as he was crossdressing, and If you looked hard enough you could possibly see up his skirt.
The audience enjoyed this seemingly random absurdity. Souji couldn't tell if the audience was laughing at him or with him, but he didn't really care. He could see Yukiko was buckled over laughing whilst trying to take photos, so he already felt his ludicrous actions were vindicated.
"Dude, what are you doing!" Yosuke asked, dumbfounded.
"Yukiko's taking photos of us, and I want to look graceful and badass. Don't you want to look graceful and badass?"
"I should get Yosuke in on the fun," Souji thought, "he's just standing over there, looking at me like I'm a crazy person. Well, I'll show him!"
"En garde, hooker!" Souji exclaimed while changing to a more offensive battle stance.
"Did he just cool Yosuke-kun a hooker? Eh, I guess he does kind of look like one." One student in the audience would note.
"Why do you know what hookers look like, dude?" Another student would question.
"I've seen your mom."
"Oh, good one. Asshole."
Souji got up from his squat and shifted his weight to his front leg. He brought his sword down to around his waist level, parallel to the ground. The sword was faced away from his target. This stance was great for big, aggressive upward or downward strikes, which is why he often used this stance when fighting in the TV.
When asked how he knew all of these stances, he'd tell you he figured them out himself whilst fighting shadows in the TV. In reality, he would spend hours watching samurai movies trying to learn and mimic some of the samurai's movements, stances and techniques. This was a couple of years ago. He was in kendo club, and he wanted to impress a lady with his cool samurai stances.
Oh, how times haven't changed.
"En garde?" Yosuke said, "What! You want to fight?" Yosuke staggered back, having little to no idea just what the hell was happening. Admittedly, he was also afraid of Souji. Souji's easy going smile had suddenly changed to a stern, intimidating glare. He looked like he was ready to cut Yosuke in half as if he was a shadow.
"Yes! The crowd demands it! Get in a proper fighting stance!" Souji demanded. Souji admittedly had no idea what was happening either. All he knew was that the crowd seemed to be enjoying it, Yukiko was still laughing, and he somehow wanted to have a kendo match with someone who had no sword. Both literally and metaphorically, Souji noted.
Yosuke had no idea what to do. Was he really going to do this? Was he really going to let Souji drag him down the hole of insanity once again? The crowd was eager to see this confrontation, though, Yosuke didn't blame them. Anything would be better than this train wreck of a pageant.
"May as well go all the way with it..." Yosuke reminded himself before going into a battle stance. He had no sword prop, so he settled for a karate stance instead of a samurai once.
"Okay, let's go partner!" Yosuke said, letting himself embrace the insanity.
"Leave it to Souji to derail a pageant and start an impromptu fight with me in front of the entire school while we're crossdressing." Yosuke thought.
"First to three clean hits, got it?" Souji asked.
"These guys are freakin' idiots..." The MC muttered to himself. He recognized he was no longer in control of the show and there was nothing he could do. The crowd's cheering and laughing drowned him out whenever he tried to get the pageant back on track. He knew he was going to get chewed out by the administration for this.
"Hey... I know that stance Yosuke's using!" Chie exclaimed, "It's from Trial of the Dragon! He remembered..." Something about Yosuke remembering a stance from one of her favorite movies warmed her heart. Granted, he may have just seen the stance somewhere else or he didn't even know he was in a recognizable, popular stance, but Chie choose to believe it was because Yosuke loved Trial of the Dragon just as much as she did.
"Enjoying yourselves up there, you freakin' faggots!" Hanako shouted at the stage. She yelled so loud that everyone in the auditorium heard her. Hanako's friends howled in laughter while an awkward, uncomfortable silence fell over the audience.
"Woah... nice job ruining the moment there, Hanako-chan." One student would say. He made sure he didn't say it loud enough for her to hear him.
"Yeah, she always does that. Like, whenever I'm staring at that Ai girl, she always has to get in the way. My woody goes away pretty damn fast, let me tell you."
Yukiko couldn't stop herself from turning and glaring at Hanako. Hanako glared back at her.
"What are you looking at, bitch!" Hanako threatened. The two were locked in an intense, hatred filled stare down. Yukiko opened her mouth to say something, but quickly shut it. She shook her head and looked away. She couldn't believe how offensive Hanako was. Where was her sense of good taste? Couldn't she keep her bigotry to herself? As much as she wanted to reprimand her, she forced herself to back down. She always tried to avoid conflict whenever she could. And frankly, she didn't think Hanako would be worth the breath.
Yukiko could see Chie turn to face Hanako with an angry expression. She knew Chie was going to stand up for her, because that's what Chie would always do. While the notion warmed her heart, she stopped Chie before she could say anything.
"Chie, don't. It's okay. She's not worth it and we may get in trouble." Chie opened her mouth to protest, but after one stern look from Yukiko, she kept her mouth shut and turned away from Hanako. Yukiko gave Chie a little shoulder hug.
"Thanks, though." The two shared a smile.
"...Anyway!" the MC said, using this opportune time to get the pageant back on track, "How about we get back to the questions, shall we? Can the contestants please return to their places on stage?" Souji and Yosuke left their battle stances and returned to their respective spots on stage.
Yukiko returned her attention to Souji. She was worried that Souji's fun, happy mood may have been hampered by Hanako's negative comments. The two locked eyes, and Souji noticed Yukiko's distressed expression. He assumed it was because of what Hanako said. He gave her a smile and a little thumbs up, doing what he could to reassure her that he was still okay. Souji was more disappointed than offended, actually. Sure, he was like Yukiko in that he couldn't stand horrible bigotry, but he was actually looking forward to having a rematch fight with Yosuke.
"I totally would have whooped your ass." Souji whispered to Yosuke. Yosuke chuckled.
"Like hell you would've!"
"Oh, I would've. Don't worry, I would have let you get one or two clean hits in so you could look good in front of Chie." Yosuke laughed and rolled his eyes. Souji was glad Yosuke was like in him in the fact that Hanako's comment didn't really get to him.
"So, as I was saying earlier, sounds like your is causing quite a stir! Did you sign yourself up?" The MC asked Souji. Souji smirked as an answer instantly came to mind, but he wasn't sure if this was the right venue to say such things. He reverted his attention back to Yukiko as he contemplated his answer.
Yukiko smiled at him, relieved that Souji was still in his usual mood. She took her hands and made them into a heart and directed it at Souji. She wanted to rebuff any deflation Souji may have been feeling, but she also wanted to express just how much of a fan she was of him and his ridiculous antics. Like most people in the audience, she was doubling over laughing when Souji decided to derail the pageant. Granted, she didn't actually get the chance to take any pictures, but she didn't care. She didn't need the pictures to remember this moment. This was the moment that she finally realized that she was, in fact, in love with Souji. She didn't know anyone that was even close to being like him, and she doubt she ever would. It was a pure and simple love. She simply just couldn't imagine being with anyone else. And in some way, Yukiko thought she could express her love for him with that heart.
"Hmm... she hearts me, does she?" Souji thought, "I once again wonder if it's a 'Oh, I love you Souji! You're the man I've been wanting for months! Now take those damn pants off right now! I want your babies!' kind of heart, or if it's a 'Oh, you're my best FRIEND Souji! Can you help me shop for some clothes? I want a male opinion so I can impress my BOYFRIEND! Who is not YOU! Because YOU'RE JUST A FRIEND TO ME! FRIENDS! DO YOU GET IT SOUJI! WE ARE ONLY FRIENDS!' kind of heart. I would love to think it's the former, but it could easily go either way. I think I know a way to find out, though..." Souji looked Yukiko dead in the eye as he answered the question.
"Oh, you know... a girl I like signed me up."
Souji watched Yukiko's eyes widen and her mouth fell agape. Her face went as red as her sweater. In the midst of her shock and awe, he could tell she was smiling. She quickly broke eye contact and looked down at her feet, presumably to hide her blush and smile. It was too late though. Souji already saw her reaction, and it was exactly what he wanted. His smile went from ear to ear.
"Smiling and blushing? That seems like a 'you're the man I've been wanting for months!' kind of reaction to me. I'll try to get further confirmation later."
Rumors and speculation began to spread throughout the crowd like wildfire. Who could this mystery girl be? Souji was known to hang around many female students, so narrowing down to just one proved to be difficult for some.
"I bet it's Ai Elerbra. I saw them skip class together once." One student would say.
"No way, she already has like, three boyfriends."
"Yeah, exactly. She's a whore, so why not one more?"
"I doubt Souji-kun would stand for that. One of my friends said she saw Yumi Ozawa, the crazy girl that's in the Drama club, and Souji-kun kissing. It has to be her."
"No way, Souji-kun may act stupid, but there is no way he's actually stupid enough to get with her. They probably just did it for some dumb play. I bet she was ecstatic to be able to kiss him, though."
"Wouldn't you? Oh wait, I forgot, you're into that weird Hanamura dude."
"Oh my gosh!" Rise squealed, causing Naoto to flinch and quickly cover her ears for a moment, "Souji-senpai likes one of us! Who do you think it is, Naoto-kun? I have seen you and him around lately..." Rise was giddy with excitement. While she didn't necessarily think it was her (though, she wouldn't be against it if it was), the brewing of a potential relationship within their investigation team was so exciting! She knew it was going to happen sooner or later!
"N-No, I doubt it's me..." Naoto replied, flustered, "I would suspect it's Yukiko-san, judging by her reaction." Naoto gestured toward the blushing and motionless Yukiko.
Yukiko was similarly smiling from ear to ear. She always thought Souji may have some feelings for her, but hearing him practically outright tell her he had feelings for her... it was mind boggling. The fact that he was looking directly at her while made it even more embarrassing, but she had to admit it was kind of romantic.
She looked up at Souji briefly and met his grey eyes and gigantic smile before having to turn away. She was conflicted. A part of her wanted to scream out "I love you, Souji!" and confess her feelings for him right then and there, but she also wanted to stick to her plan. The plan would make for a far more romantic, sentimental, and far less embarrassing confession than screaming over a buzzing crowd during a crossdressing pageant would.
"Hey, now's not the time to reveal stuff like that!" Yosuke said to Souji.
"What are you talking about? This is the BEST time. Why not confess your love to a lady while being dressed as one?" Yosuke rolled his eyes and sighed.
"You're crazy, dude."
"I'm glad you caught on so quickly, Yosuke."
"I heard that Kashiwagi threatened she would sign students up herself if not enough people signed up for this pageant." One student recalled.
"What? Can she do that? Wait, are you trying to sa- no... dude, no way."
"Hey, you never know."
"Oh my gosh!" Rise squealed once again while grabbing ahold of Yukiko, "Souji-senpai likes you! That's so cute! Do you like him back?"
"Pardon me if you think otherwise, but I do think you two would make quite the pairing." Naoto commented.
"W-Why do you guys think it's me? It could be a-any of us..." Yukiko said, playing ignorant. She knew it was her, (or at least, she thought it was her. If she found out later it wasn't her, she would lose it,) but she didn't want to deal with her friends embarrassing questions right now. She felt mentally and emotionally drained, and she desperately wanted to find a place to sit so she could settle down.
"Oh dude! I bet it's Chie-chan that Souji-kun likes!" another student would speculate, "They sit right next to each other in class, which makes for the perfect opportunity to get to know someone and get with them!"
"Eh, I don't know. I'm not sure she's even the type of girl that's into guys. I mean, have you ever seen her with a boyfriend? She usually just hangs around Yukiko-san."
"Are you calling Chie-chan a lesbian? DUDE! How hot would it be if Yukiko-san was a lesbian?"
"Oh dude, yes! But I've been hearing that it's probably Yukiko-san that Souji-kun likes, and she likes him back. So, there goes that fantasy..."
"A man can dream, can't he?"
"Oh, Yukiko's just playing dumb!" Chie said, "She knows it's her. And of course she likes him back! She's like, in love with him! He's all she tal-"
"Chie!" Yukiko interrupted, as a crimson tinge returned to her face. The group of girls shared a laugh at Yukiko's expense.
"Awww!" Rise exclaimed. While Naoto could agree that this was an exciting time, she wished Rise wouldn't emit these loud, deafening sounds while she was in such a close proximity. "You two are going to make an adorable couple! You need to tell him as soon as the pageant ends!"
"Rumors going around say that it's Yukiko-chan that Souji-kun likes," one of Hanako's friends told her, "isn't that the girl that gave you a dirty look earlier?"
"Yeah..." Hanako scowled, "you're right. The bitch was picking a fight with me, but she got scared and backed off. And Souji-kun likes her now? It gives me even more of a reason to hate her. I'm going to go give her a piece of my mind..." Hanako began forcing her way through the crowd to confront Yukiko.
"You want to know the real reason why I choose now, out of all times, to confess?" Souji said, changing from his usual flamboyant tone to a more stern, serious, and leaderly one, "I'm tired of waiting."
"What do you mean?" Yosuke wondered.
"I always say that I'm waiting for the perfect time to tell Yukiko I wanted to be with her. I'm tired of waiting for this theoretical 'perfect time'. I'm tired of being a coward and making excuses for myself. I want to be with her more than anything. It's about damn time I did something about it." Souji gave a Yosuke a serious, determined look just to let him know how sincere he was being. He then felt a smile creep up his face. He had an idea.
"It's a great feeling, Yosuke! Even if she doesn't like me, at least I don't have to worry about it anymore. It'll suck for awhile, but I can at least be done with it and move on. You should try it sometime!"
Yosuke nodded, lost in thought. Sure, while Souji could was an idiot at times, and frequently made him the butt of his jokes, Yosuke couldn't help but admire and praise his philosophies. He was the group's leader and Yosuke's best friend for a reason. He always seemed to know what to do and supported his friends whenever he could. He pondered Souji's advice.
"I should try it some time? He must be talking about Chie. He does have a point... when has me being a coward gotten me anywhere? What am I waiting for? Why don't I just tell her?"
"Our last contestant is a random, unaffiliated entrant! She's a fri-" Yosuke cut the MC off.
"Uh, hey! I just wanted to say that a, um, girl I like signed me up too! Her name is C-Chie Satonaka! Uh, yeah... that's her name... Chie. I like Chie."