It was a normal morning in the Hitoyoshi household when the diminutive mother of one decided to put her foot down.
"You should really start thinking about your future, Zenkichi-kun."
A twitch developed on said Zenkichi-kun's brow as he looked down at the imposing form of his mother. "Mom, I'm only a first year."
"You won't be a freshman forever." Hitoyoshi Hitomi replied matter-of-factly without pause. The doctor folded her arms and tapped her foot impatiently. "I can't have you lounging about all day when other kids your age are already making preparations for their future!"
In hindsight, Hitoyoshi Zenkichi knew that this is a common conversation normal families have between parent and child. What parent wasn't concerned about their offspring's life, after all?
"I can't have my son wasting time reading this vulgar fiction when he could be doing more productive things!" She exclaimed distastefully, holding up a familiar paperback graphic novel.
The bright smile of Momo Bella Deviluke greeted him as she struck a rather risqué pose.
Oh right. The reason he was getting his ears chewed off was because his mother found his To-Love-Ru Darkness tankōbon. After seeing the first page and immediately bombarded with a half-naked girl, the mother of one promptly shut the book and sternly called her son over for a tête-a-tête.
And to grill him about his future.
"Are you listening to me, Zenkichi-kun?" She suddenly asked, her eyes narrowing at him in suspicion.
"Yes, mom." He replied dully.
Like most parents, Hitomi didn't take kindly to his lip. "I'm only trying to help you plan your future, Zenkichi-kun." She tells him slowly with a meaningful smile. "Do you even know what you want to be?"
At this, Zenkichi realizes that he hadn't really thought about his future. The only thing that had been on his mind was to stay beside Kurokami Medaka, but that wasn't a job, but a self-imposed duty, which he now found out, was because he was in love with her.
Still, life goes on, and love alone would not sate one's clamoring stomach.
Seeing the cogs turn in her son's head, Hitomi placed the tankōbon on the coffee table and gave her son her full attention. "Well?" she inquired patiently, though she already knew the answer.
But, as with most illnesses, the first step to curing was admitting.
"I haven't thought of it." Zenkichi admitted honestly.
Hitomi smiled warmly. "While I am proud of you for being elected Student Council President of Hakoniwa Academy, you and I both know the only reason you ran- and won- was because you wanted to help Medaka-chan. You can't help Medaka-chan for the rest of your life if you can't even support yourself."
Ouch. That actually stung, even though it is the truth.
Talk about tough love…
Zenkichi ran his left hand through his hair exasperatedly. "I'll think about it, alright?"
"I'd rather you start thinking about it now." The Hitoyoshi matriarch stresses that last word. "I admit you're good at sports, your grades are slightly above average, and most importantly, you work hard."
"But…?" He prompted and braced himself for impact.
"But that's not enough, Zenkichi-kun!" Hitomi suddenly exclaimed, thrusting her finger up at him. "You need to have a passion! A drive!" The deceptively young woman thrust her hand towards the table where a certain graphic novel lay. "These things will pollute your mind! You can't afford to waste your youth reading them when you can do so much more!"
"Alright already!" Zenkichi grumbles in defeat. "I'll get to it now."
"Good." Hitomi nods her head. "In the meantime," Zenkichi mentally prepares himself for what's to come, "you will surrender all your vulgar fiction to me, without question."
Zenkichi's mouth opens in protest before he clenches it shut with a defeated nod and sigh. "…Alright."
His mother beams up at him and he can't help but feel bullied into a corner. "I'm glad to have such an obedient son."
Zenkichi returns the gesture with an awkward smile.
"…I love you too, mom…"
"I said I'd think about it but…" Zenkichi grumbles to himself as he fishes a double cheeseburger from the paper bag and sits himself down on the benches overlooking the plaza's fountain. "Where do I start…?"
It wasn't that he was particularly horrible at anything in particular, but the contrary, in fact. And therein lay the problem; he had too many choices.
He idly wondered if Medaka-chan had this same problem but quickly dismissed the idea. Medaka-chan's dilemma was different; she was the heir to the Kurokami Group, and so her future was already secured.
While he wasn't particularly happy that his best friend had resigned herself to her duty as the Kurokami successor, he knew Medaka-chan would find some way to make the most of it, and she was content with that.
It was precisely this reason why Zenkichi wanted Medaka-chan to live life the way she wanted to. And, from the various complaints he had already heard even though it had only been a few days since being elected, Medaka-chan was already having the time of her life cutting loose.
Zenkichi rested his chin on his right hand as he lazily took a bite off the burger in his left.
In all honesty, Zenkichi was happy with devoting his life to staying by Medaka-chan's side, happier still if she chose to spend her life with him, too. But as his mother pointed out, he couldn't remain at her side if he couldn't even support himself. He had already worked hard thus far to keep up with Medaka-chan in the academic world; real life was completely different, and it scared a part of him to know that he still might not be enough to her.
Zenkichi violently shook such maudlin thoughts from his head.
"Bah!" he scoffed. "No point thinking about that, now!" He convinced himself as he took another bite from his meal, and mumbled sagely to himself. "First things first…"
He needed experience.
Specifically, work experience.
Living with such a lauded professional such as Hitoyoshi Hitomi-sensei meant that he lived a life of relative luxury. While he was more grounded than the average person, not in small part to growing up compared against a person as amazing as Kurokami Medaka, and seeing said prodigy's exploits firsthand, it did mean that he hadn't had the need to scope out a part-time job.
Not that Hitomi ever pushed him to find one; his mother was more insistent in his focusing on his studies more than anything else. She'd support him in whatever way she could.
Still, what better way to integrate himself with the working world than to actually find a part-time job?
And as soon as the thought was digested, another problem manifested; what job could he apply for?
Zenkichi wondered if there was any place he could work in that didn't require a long-term contract. Especially at this time of year, when retailers had already hired their work force…
Not to mention that in the coming semester he'd be swamped with Student Council work; really, he hadn't expected to win that one…
He blinked as another thought struck him. Maybe he could ask Naze-sempai or even Maguro-san for help? Surely with their connections and influence, he'd find himself on quite an agreeable position in an equally agreeable job?
"Relying on me again? You really can't do anything by yourself, can you, Zen-chan?" Naze-sempai would probably say.
"I'll help you if you can get my two little sisters to put on this string bikini." Maguro-san would most likely haggle…
Never mind his hidden desire to actually see the young woman he was in love with in a string bikini – she'd probably do it if asked, but that wasn't what he wanted! – Zenkichi didn't really want to burden his seniors any more than he already was. Besides, those two were busy with helping Medaka-chan settle into her new lease on life. The last thing he wanted was to have Medaka-chan catch wind of his struggle and attempt to fix it, after all.
So where did that leave him?
He needed help, but he didn't want to burden the Kurokami siblings.
Zenkichi crumpled the wrapping and tossed it into the bin in exasperation, and his brow twitched when it landed on the lid before sliding off to the side.
A clear miss.
With a defeated sigh, Zenkichi finished his drink as he walked over to properly dispose the piece of garbage. Placing his hand in his pocket as he bent down, his fingers tapped a familiar electronic device.
Ah, now there was an idea…
With a grin, Zenkichi pulled out his mobile and rummaged through his contact list.
She bore them a jagged leer that did nothing to hide the sincerity in her voice. "A match only yields one victor! But as long as you enjoy life, you can both be winners and sip tea together!"
"That was a lot of fun! Call us again sometime, let's chat!"
"Sukinasaki," Furousan Zomeki called out to the idol, taking off her aviators to squint at her friend. "Your phone is ringing."
"I know…" Saki grumbled as she pressed her temples against the pillow.
"Aren't you going to answer?" Hachiningatake Juujika asked curiously.
"In a second." Came the reply as the idol took in a deep breath and pushed off the couch she had been lounging on. "The ringtone means it's not any of our agents so it's probably a customer."
The auburn haired girl took in a deep breath as she pulled out her mobile and pressed it against her ear. A lighthearted smile suddenly blossomed on her face. "Hello, this is Sukinasaki Saki~! My apologies for the delay; may I ask who this is?"
Zomeki and Juujika blinked at their companion's sudden mood-swing. Even after witnessing the Beast Idol's professionalism countless times, they felt that it'd never grow old.
"Hi-to-yo-shi Ze-n-ki-chi-kun…?" Saki deliberately spoke, testing the name with her tongue as she tried to match a face. "Oh! From Hakoniwa Academy, right~?"
"Why do you suppose he's calling?" Juujika turned to her unoccupied companion when realization dawned on them.
Zomeki shrugged. "I've no idea. Maybe he wants us to go back for another gig?"
Juujika pursed her lips as her brows knitted. "Well, it wasn't as bad as we first thought it'd be, and the pay was actually quite generous. The new season's coming through and we'll all be busy with our work…"
Most of all her; she'd been casted for so many roles already!
It was an odd dichotomy that the trio found themselves in. Their group was well known and their talents sought after, and yet despite all their performances, none of their customers could remember their names. Though in all fairness, that was how the rest of the people in their industry lived, and they were content with it.
Stars were but fleeting, after all.
"Agreed." Zomeki nodded before glancing back at Saki.
"You want advice~?" Saki blinked in puzzlement before a demented grin stretched across her face, causing shivers to course through both her fellow Kiyoterae member's spines. "Why, you should have said so in the first place! We'll be happy to help! Are you free now? Oh, of course we know where that place is!"
Throughout all this, Juujika slowly inched closer to the musician. "Hey, Furousan."
"I think Sukinasaki's about to order us more work."
Zomeki's eighth note pupils narrowed at their de facto leader with humor. "It appears so, Hachiningatake."
"Great!" Saki bowed deeply as if she was talking to the young man in person. "We'll see you in an hour! Can't wait~! Bye!"
She hung up the phone with a wistful sigh and turned towards her companions, who stared back at her with cool and curious gazes. "Hachiningatake, Furousan, you both remember Hitoyoshi Zenkichi-kun, right?"
"The harmonica-player, right?" Zomeki added and Saki nodded.
"The one and the same."
"He wants advice from us?" Juujika prodded. "It's unusual for you to take such an interest as to meet up with him in person, all over simple advice."
It was then when Saki grinned maliciously. "Why Juujika, is it not our duty to bring happiness to our customers? Dear Hitoyoshi-kun is struggling with his life choices, the least we can do is lend a helping hand."
"That still doesn't answer my question." The youngest of the Kiyoterae pouted. "Is it really necessary to meet up with him?"
"Of course!" Saki barked out happily. "With his talent, we'll be able to make our music more memorable!"
A sense of anticipation courses through the trio at Saki's revelation.
"I see." Zomeki nods her head as she puts on her aviators once again. She turns to Saki with a fond grin. "That is very cunning of you, Sukinasaki."
Trust the Beast Idol to turn a fan's dilemma into a business venture.
"Shall we make our way, then?" Juujika asks as she wraps her scarf around her scarred neck, anticipation dancing in her eyes. "You can tell us what else you have in mind on our way."
Saki puts on her blue beret and face-mask.
A/N: Random, isn't this? XD But I've also had a soft spot for our idol trio so~~~
I've got plans for more Zenkichi/Harem drabble/oneshots and crossovers. I started on a Zenkichi/Naze Youka until I realized her character's actually quite difficult to work with in a humorous setting. For a stiff like me, anyways. Another idea I have is a Zenkichi/Tachiarai Kiruko, because really, a hard-worker and one that pushes work onto others sounds like a recipe for a humorous pair. I'm quite surprised Nisioisin didn't explore this. I also have Zenkichi/Ajimu stewing in my pot of ideas. I will get to Zenkichi/Medaka eventually~