Chihiro stood against a wall, hands clasped to her chest and her stomach tying itself repeatedly in tight knots. She was unsure if the anticipation that caused her small body to shiver uncontrollably skewed towards fear or excitement, or perhaps an unpleasant mixture of both. Chihiro stared down at her shoes, pondering whether or not she had made the right decision.
Oogami was going to be here any minute now, and once she showed up Chihiro would reveal the secret that had kept her withdrawn from the other girls since her arrival at Hope's Peak Academy. Her body quivered powerfully at the thought. This was a secret that, when revealed, would potentially end in either a heavy burden being lifted off her shoulders, or her heart shattered into pieces. And, in the case of Oogami, possibly her body as well.
Why did she choose Oogami to divulge this matter to, anyway? Chihiro reviewed the other, less intimidating options in her head. Kirigiri might have been smaller than Oogami, but she was even harder to approach. Fukawa was utterly adverse to human interaction altogether. Celes would probably blackmail her. Asahina seemed like the most reasonable candidate, but somehow, Chihiro felt she wouldn't understand either.
Why Oogami, the powerful, mountain of a woman who could crush her with her bare hands alone? It was true that Oogami was a little scary in appearance…but there was always something very gentle and down to earth about her as well. She had a certain level of maturity and experience that made her unique amongst the rest of the students, but not enough to distance herself from them altogether. Chihiro saw how kind, how friendly she was to Asahina, and how respectful she was to everyone else. She didn't seem to anger easily, either, deflecting any disrespectful comments effortlessly.
And she was strong. Physically, emotionally, intellectually. Chihiro longed to possess such a strength as hers.
"You summoned me, Fujisaki?"
Chihiro jumped and gasped at Oogami towering over her. She tried her best to hide how nervous she was right now, but her body refused to cooperate.
"I apologize for having surprised you." Oogami's eyes inspected Chihiro up and down. "Fujisaki, you're shaking."
"I-I'm sorry," said Chihiro in a tiny, hushed voice, "I-I'm j-just…"
Oogami crouched down to Chihiro's level. "Is this better?"
"O-oh, you didn't have to…th-thank you…"
"You're still shaking."
Chihiro looked away, swallowing a lump in her throat. She didn't want to burst into tears, show such weakness in front of Oogami, but her uncontrollably shaky body was making it impossible for her to open her mouth without a crack worming its way into her words.
She gasped again as two large arms gently wrapped themselves around her tiny body, and she was softly pressed against Oogami's chest.
"This is obviously something highly personal you wanted to divulge. It's alright," said Oogami, "It's alright. You don't have to share if you don't want to."
"I-I do…" mumbled Chihiro, fighting back an urge to sob, "I-I'm just…afraid…afraid you…might not be ready to hear it…"
Oogami pulled Chihiro closer in to her chest. "Fujisaki, I want you to relax. Concentrate on the warmth wrapped around you. Listen to my heartbeat. Cry as much as you like, if you need to; keeping emotions locked up is unhealthy for the soul."
"Oogami-san…" Chihiro sniffled and rested her head against Oogami's chest. She closed her eyes, trying to block out the place they were trapped in, her fear of Oogami's response to her secret, or any other lingering, negative thoughts nipping at her mind. It was just her and Oogami now, and the warmth of Oogami's arms wrapped around her body would shield her from any of those thoughts.
Chihiro nestled against Oogami, feeling the calming rise and fall of the wrestler's chest, and listening to the pitter-patter of her heart beating against it. Tears were beginning to leak out from Chihiro's shut eyes, but they weren't out of the fear that was overwhelming her just moments ago. She discovered what she thought would be impossible to find, something that constantly seemed out of reach to her outside the safety of her computer and her home—someone else she could potentially call a friend. Someone not to wear a false smile around to conceal her secret, inner pains, but someone she could talk to and trust. This was what registered between Oogami's body and hers.
Oogami began to thread her fingers through Chihiro's hair, uttering soft "It's alrights"s as Chihiro sobbed quietly against her.
"I-I think I'm ready…" said Chihiro, wiping her eyes, "I'm feeling better now…thank you, Oogami-san…"
Oogami nodded with a light smile, and Chihiro rested her head against her chest again.
"I-I'll warn you again, but you may not be prepared to hear it…"
"I may not be," said Oogami, "But I can assure you, whatever information you wish to divulge to me, I will not pass judgment on you for it. The fact that you summoned me to share this secret that seems to be troubling you with, that alone is enough to earn my trust and respect. I shall keep whatever you wish to share tightly locked away in my heart."
"Th-thank you…" Chihiro took in a deep breath and exhaled, trying to push away any self-doubt that was trying to reclaim her mind. "Th-the reason I'm not able to work out with you and the rest of the girls…the truth is…I'm not…I'm not really a girl…"
"How do you mean, 'not really a girl'?"
"Ah, uh…" Chihiro began to shiver again and tears reformed in her eyes. "I…I'm actually a boy…"
No response from Oogami. Fear began to bubble up from Chihiro's stomach as she (was she even allowed to call herself "she"…?) continued on. "When I was little, I was scolded and picked on for being so weak…I was told it was unbecoming of a man…so, to stop it, I decided to present as a girl, because…no one bothers girls for being weak, that's something we—I-I mean they are expected to be. I couldn't possibly be a man…"
Chihiro's voice shivered and shook with her body. "But the truth is, I don't really want to be one, either. I-I sort of enjoy being a girl…I sort of wish I could be one…but I know I can't…I'm a boy…I wish to be strong…I can't ever be a girl…"
Oogami's silence continued. Chihiro couldn't read the expression on her face and the icy hands of terror clamped over her heart. What if Oogami was angry at Chihiro for deceiving her and the rest of the student body all this time? What if she abandoned her vow not to pass judgment on her and killed Chihiro right there on the spot instead? Chihiro wanted to scream "I knew it!" at her and pound her tiny fists against Oogami, but all she could do was grab at the front of her uniform and cry against it.
A big hand gently rested on the back of Chihiro's head.
"Fujisaki," began Oogami, "I've seen many women—and men as well—with unique bodies in my life of training. I've seen big women, small women, women missing an arm, women missing a leg, women missing breasts, women who have told me stories of having to have their female organs removed in order to prevent a terrible disease from claiming their life. What they have, what they don't have, does not invalidate that they are women.
"And then there's me, of course," said Oogami, looking down at Chihiro, "As I'm sure you've noticed, with my hardened facial features and muscles, I am often mistaken for a man. Yet, I am woman—not because of my body, not because of how I was raised, but because I know, in my heart, I am a woman. Chihiro, what does your heart tell you?"
"I…ah…" Chihiro brought a hand to her mouth in deep thought, "I…I guess my heart tells me I'm a girl, too…"
"Then you are a girl," Oogami said calmly, "You simply have a physical form unique from what most women have."
"I…I see…" Chihiro felt relief begin to clear her fear away, but then another concern rose. "B-but! I-I want to be strong, like you, Oogami-san! I…I don't know how to be strong…I don't know how to be strong while being a girl…"
"'Girl' and 'strength' are not mutually exclusive, Fujisaki," said with a chuckle, "And you are indeed a strong girl, approaching me with this secret, despite your fear. It's the ultimate testament of strength."
Oogami leaned down to kiss the top of Chihiro's head. She felt her cheeks flush with heat, and Oogami chuckled lightly at her reaction, bringing a hand on her shoulder.
"We can practice training together elsewhere, just the two of us girls, if you'd like."
"Th-that would be wonderful Oogami-san!" chirped Chihiro, clapping her hands together, then looking to the side with a blush, "Thank you Oogami-san…I-I feel stronger already!"
Chihiro stood up on tiptoes and kissed Oogami on the cheek. Chihiro felt heat against her lips and giggled at the surprised look on Oogami's face.
"I look forward to training together!"