Yaotome Arisu


2/ Yatome Arisu

My eyes shoot open and the first thing I catch sight of it a human iris.

“Morning, Dai~suke~!”

“Wh-what are you doing so close to me in the morning!”

I shout such a thing, pushing the dangerously close face of my mother away from me. She gives a playful giggle as she bounces across the room, meanwhile I sit up in my bed and clutch my chest. My breath comes out in pained gasps. I rub the bridge of my nose unconsciously, as if a pair of glasses had pressed there uncomfortably.

I catch sight of the clock just over my mother’s shoulder.

00:00

00:00

00:00

Again and again it flashes the same time with bright red LEDs. My mother motions to it as if it were a showcase item on a game show. “We had a power outage, you see,” she says. “But this is not the time to be worried about such things. You’re going to be late.”

“Late?”

“Yes. By my calculations, you have thirty minutes to sprint to school. Maybe you should hurry, lest you be late, hm hm,” she laughs to herself as she steps out the room, closing the door behind her. I sit in my bed for a moment, trying to rub the migraine out of my head—

A claw through the chest should have killed you, don’t you think?

!!

Immediately, I rip my shirt off my head. Not a single marking is on my chest. Not a scar, nor a bruise, or even a red spot in sight. A sigh of relief comes right out of me.

“A dream, huh?”

I certainly don’t have time to speculate over it, at any rate. Throwing the shirt aside, I open my closet and pull out my still intact and hole free Uniform.

“At this rate,” I say, throwing the jacket on. “I’m going to be late!”

As I come into the classroom, I catch the sight of Satsumi Rei, who sits with a large group of girls chatting. She throws a wave in my direction, which I promptly return before taking a seat at my window desk. It was at this point that, when I sat down, Rei throws this…look in my direction. A horrifyingly familiar look – one of morbid curiosity, the same look my mother has when she has an idea.

The girl breaks away from the conversation and drops in the desk in front of me. She grins.

“So! Did you hear, did you hear?”

“Did I hear?”

“Something exciting has happened! How do you not know about it?”

“…I’m lost.”

She looks around as if searching for eavesdroppers, then leans in to whisper.

“They say, “ she looks around again. “They say something happened last night in Akihabara, Daisuke!”

I freeze. Akihabara?

A giant stag beetle tearing through buildings sure as hell constitutes as something, don’t you think? People don’t tend to forget things like monster bugs ripping apart a small subsection of a city.

They also don’t survive a claw through the chest, by the way. You sure you aren’t dead?

“No,” I mutter under my breath. “I’m sure I’m not dead. What with breathing and living and all…”

“What was that, Daisuke?”

“Nothing. What happened in Akihabara?”

“Eh, I don’t know all that yet,” she shrugs. “But there’s more!”

“Is there?”

“Yeah! There’s a transfer student coming to this class!!”

She pounds her little hands on my desk as she exclaims that last part. The sensation of distancing myself from this crazy little girl as soon as possible washed over me at once, but I shook it off and humored her.

“What’s so interesting about a transfer student?”

“Its mysterious!” She shouts in a voice that’s a bit too loud.

I scoot my desk back slightly.

“What’s so mysterious about it? People transfer schools all the time.”

“Not on the second day, they don’t!!” She shouts again.

Scoot scoot.

“Maybe something came up.”

“I hear she’s an Ayanami too!”

Scoot scoot scoot. By now, the back of my desk is touching the desk behind me.

“What,” I take the risk of asking. “What, pray tell, is an Ayanami?”

“Don’t give me that!” She barks back at me. “You know damn well what an Ayanami is!”

“I don’t want to think you’re thinking of that.

She snaps her fingers. “Pale skin! Albino features! A wispy presence, as if she could get ill and die at any moment. Cold, stoic personality as if she were some sort of alien presence in the world. You know, an Ayanami, an Ayanami!!”

I find my desk can’t scoot and further back from this crazy girl. The grin on her face is unnatural.

“I bet she’s really pretty, like all Ayanami! Oh oh, and she’s probably got some big secret, like she’s really a crime fighter or a robot or something. Maybe even an alien, I bet. Oh ho, an alien would be good! I can’t wait until she gets here!”

“Would that be her right there?”

The little red head follows my finger to the door, where a girl stands looking over a sheet of paper. She looks up with a sigh, making her way into the classroom warily, as if scared of something or someone. Rei’s hand shoots up immediately, much to my dismay.

“Oi oi, over here! There’s a seat over here, transfer-student-san!!”

“Hey,” I hiss at her. “Don’t go doing that! What if she’s really shy or something. You’re going to make her nervous!”

“Never mind, never mind!” She replies. “Here here, there’s a seat right here!”

The girl looks at the both of us warily, making her way towards us. Setting a bag down next to my seat, she—whoa.

“You’re,” I swallow to wet my throat. “You’re a lot taller than I thought.”

A sharp punch to the arm makes me realize what I said. The girl in front of me blushes a red color, which shows in great contrast to her pale skin – just like Rei said. She sits down slowly, placing her hands in her lap.

“Uhm…I’m sorry,” I say quickly. “I’m Atsuko Daisuke. This is Satsumi Rei. You’re new here, right?”

“Hey hey,” Rei snaps her fingers at me. “Don’t go introducing me to people, I can do that myself. Hello there, how are you?

The girl blushes even redder. I elbow Rei in return.

“Told you she was shy.”

“She’s just nervous, thats all,” She hissed back at me. “Hey hey, what’s your name, what’s your name?”

The girls look up at us. I notice the strange color of her eyes at once.

Both irises were purple. I find myself staring at them, amazed. While Rei’s eyes are nearly glowing, they’re still a normal color. These here are even more strange. Beautiful, even.

“Ah…” The girl stammers. “My name is Yaotome Arisu. P-pleasure to meet you.”

“Ahaha, Alice! That’s a great name!”

Rei claps happily. The girl next to us fidgets uncomfortably. I take the time to look over her.

Long black hair, tall, indigo eyes…her body is much more developed than Rei’s as well – you can tell just by looking at her that she’s a rather…big girl. I look away uncomfortably; I hate to look at her like this, but you can’t help but notice the way this girl’s body is shaped. She easily tops half the girls in this classroom at the very least. She’s almost like a model, in fact.

And yet, I find myself looking back at her. Something about her seems familiar.

“…Have we…met before, Yaotome-san?”

“Eh?”

She shakes her head. “No, I don’t think we have. I mean, that is…”

She trails off. An elbow is nudged into my ribs. I glare at Rei, who glares back at me.

“Hey hey, no flirting. Let her sit for at least ten minutes before that!”

“Who’s flirting,” I snap back. “She just has a really familiar vibe! Maybe I’ve seen her on TV on something. Doesn’t she look like she could be an idol or something?”

“I’m telling you, thats the Ayanami charm. Its hitting you hard, but get a hold of yourself!”

Snap snap! Her fingers are waved in my face, but she quickly turns her attention back to Arisu.

As a fellow student, as well as a classmate, I offer my hand in friendship! Will you accept?” She flashed a smile. “I promise I don’t bite.”

What was that, a proposal for marriage?

With Arisu’s nod, the girl clapped her hands together with a grin. “See, easy isn’t it! So, Arisu-who-just-made-her-first-friend, what do you like to do?”

“…I like to read. And I like to listen to soft music…”

What kind of books? And what kind of soft music?”

“…Sci-Fi, Fantasy… And Jazz and Opera… What about you?”

Oh, I never was much of a reader. I’m more of a TV person. Professional Wrestling, History, some other stuff…”

I find myself biting my lip. That girl Satsumi Rei…she’s dangerous. That infectiously cute attitude of hers has seeped into Yaotome-san. It was almost like that story of the lion and the mouse, with Rei as the lion. It was amazing.

Its like watching a train wreck,” I mutter. “Only without the death…”

More and more, Arisu began to open up and speak. By the time the bell rang, the two were giggling like old friends talking about the good ol’ days.

The girl leans back. I tap her on the shoulder.

You’re some kind of horrible brain washing monster, aren’t you?” I ask.

Ohoh, you have no idea,” she smirks back at me. “No Idea at all, good sir.”

Yaotome Arisu was a strange girl.

According to her, she transferred schools over the course of a night because of her father’s work. Apparently, his new job was outside of the school district; yesterday, she was enrolled in Yaskani High School, today she was at Seven Sisters.

But the strangeness seemed to come from her reactions to other people.

Excuse me,” a girl stopped her while I was in earshot. “You’re Yaotome Arisu, right?”

I am…”

Her body went tense at the sound of her name. From where I was standing, she looked ready to attack the girl in front of her. I watched silently as the two had their exchange.

Hey, you’re in my class. Wanna hang out after school with some friends of mine? I know this cool place jus—“

I’m sorry, but I have to decline.”

Eh?”

I wouldn’t fit in,” she says quickly. “I mean, I tend to stand out wherever I go because of my height. And, well…”

Well?”

I don’t do well with crowds,” she smiles. “So I’ll have to postpone. Maybe some other time.”

She leaves the girl there as she walks towards my direction. I watch her pass as she smiles at me. I find myself bitting my lip.

Strange girl,” I murmur. “Very strange…”

And so, a week of this passes. She very nearly managed to keep such behavior up.

Nearly.

Ohoh, what’s this? Looks like we got ourselves a surprise visit from Atsuko today.”

Ah, good ol’ Tsurugi, the guy who makes me want to punch something sometimes. His jeering was expected as I sat next to Miwa, whom was picking at a mini sausage. “Trouble with Rei? I thought you two were the perfect couple. Don’t tell me—“

I pointed. He looked. His pupils seem to shrink at the sight. “No way! Is that Yatome-san?”

Yes. The fabled transfer student, Yaotome Arisu.”

She’s with her? Woah, look at them go! Wow! I never expected to see that in broad daylight!”

Be quiet, you’re making a scene. Don’t stare either.”

But… I can’t tear my eyes away from it!”

Miwa glanced in the direction Tsurugi’s eyes were glued to. As I took a sip of water, he looked back to Tsurugi. “They’re eating lunch together. I don’t see what’s so amazing about it.” He picked up the sausage he had been playing with for the past few minutes. “It’s not like they’re making out in the middle of the courtyard.”

She laughed! Yatome-san laughed! Can she do that? Is it legal to do that?”

She just smiled. That’s not strange at all…”

I sighed. Tsurugi may have been much more dramatic, but his reaction was like mine. What kind of spell had Rei put Arisu under to do make her so happy? And it wasn’t just with her either; Yatome was much nicer to the people in class than she was when she first arrived.

The red head and the Ayanami,” Tsurugi smiled, looking towards me. “Why aren’t you in there, Atsuko?”

Excuse me?

The afro seems to swell.

Look at them!” He says, pointing. “Two hotties sitting there, having a cheerful lunch….if you don’t try to get in between that, I will man!”

I thought Rei was your type.”

Yes, she has grade A assets,” He says, pun not missing its mark. “But Yaotome-san….delicious, absolutely delicious!”

He makes a movement like a chef tasting a particularly good flavor of food. He rubs his hands together.

I mean, Rei is cute. And she has that thing on her back,” he smiles. “But…look at Yaotome! Do you see that body? Look at those long, alabaster legs! That silky hair! Those eyes…man, those eyes! And…good god, she is quite grown up if I must say so!”

You done?” I ask. “I mean, at some point, you might actually want to eat your food.”

Man, what’s wrong with you, Atsuko?” I sigh as he points his fingers at me. “Don’t tell me you’re gay or something! Thats prime beef right there and you’re going vegetarian on me!”

I look to Miwa for help, but he only shrugs his shoulders.. This must be his way of getting back at me for leaving him behind with Tsurugi that night…

.That night…

Hey, Tsurugi. Did something happen in Shibu—“

Atsuko-san?”

I turn around at the sound of my name. Behind me, the figure of Yaotome Arisu stands over me. She fidgets uncomfortably as a red blush creeps across her face.

C-could I speak to you in private please? It’s…its rather important.”

Impo—oof!!”

I feel a sharp jab at my side as Tsurugi elbows me. I rub my side as he glares at me with fire in his eyes, mouthing the word “go” at me.

Y-yea, sure. Uh…”

Please, follow me.”

She smiles, taking a step back as I stand up. The two of us move through the cafeteria, soon going outside. I immediately recognize this area – the couples at the school usually come to this place to…

.Wait a minute. I stop in my tracks. The girl turns to face me.

What’s wrong,” she asks.

Yaotome-San…I….I appreciate the feeling, but I barely know you. To be going to such a place with you would be—“

What on earth are you talking about, Atsuko Daisuke?”

…Eh?

Just now…did her tone of voice change? It sounds much more harsher than the usual quiet and shy whisper from the classroom.

Ah, well, this place is—“

I’m aware. Rei told me of it,” the girl replies. “I’m quiet good at getting information, I’ll have you know. I know where exactly I would want to go to get privacy,”

She folds her arms. My eyebrow goes up in confusion.

You seem a lot—“

The Yaotome Arisu of the public eye,” she says suddenly. “Is an act. The Yaotome Arisu you are looking at now is the real thing.”

I…what?”

Act? Real thing?

Oh god. Oh god, I had no idea,” I gasp. “You have a bipolar disorder? Oh my god, I’m so sorry—“

Shut up, “ she snaps. “Stop talking. You’re spewing a lot of idiotic things right now!”

Oh, right.”

You never apologize to a bipolar person, Daisuke! They might not know they have the disorder! Oh god, did I make Rage!Arisu angry? What if she gets violent? I mean, she’s a girl, but she’s taller than you by a few inches. And judging by the way she’s shaped, she probably outweighs you too! Just try to– oh dear, she’s pacing.

Hey hey, I don’t mean to reject your advances,” I quickly say. “I mean, you’re beautiful, but I don’t think we should rush—“

Something goes crack behind me. I turn to see the ground has a large….

…A large purple arrow sticking out of it.

The same kind of arrow that girl used on that monster…?

How is your body,” she asks in a soft voice. “I assume the Psycho Dust is working?”

I wheel around at once. The girl that stands in front of me is no longer the same Yaotome Arisu who took me out of the cafeteria. Red eyes and white hair gaze back at me as a soft smile sits on her face. A gothic lolita dress is clad around her body.

She folds her arms, frilled sleeves meeting frilled sleeves.

What…you…”

Yes yes,” she waves it off. “What am I? Who am I? We already answered this question. I’m an esper, Atsuko Daisuke.”

She says it lazily. A choking sound at the back of my throat is all I can manage.

How,” I ask. “Am I still alive?”

Honestly,” she sighs, “You’re alive. Do you really need to know the details?”

You said it yourself,” I snap. “My insides were ruptured. I wasn’t going to survive. How the hell am I still alive, Arisu?”

A look of discomfort crosses her face. Her form gradually shifts in front of me, returning to the raven haired school girl in a manner of seconds. She sighs.

I injected you with a foreign substance that repaired your body,” she says. “A cluster of nanomachines called Psycho Dust. I made you like me.”

Nanomachines? Psycho Dust?”

The Psycho Dust,” she continues. “Is as I said. A nanomachine cluster that repairs your entire body. It also has the added affect of rewriting a few key DNA sequences in your body. You might not realize it, but the Psycho Dust is in every cell of your body, right now.”

I take a breath. Every cell of my body?

You mean to tell me there’s something crawling around in me right now?”

Crawling?” She shakes her head with a laugh. “Heavens no. It is you right now. Your skin. Your eyes. Your blood. Your brain tissue. Even your semen has it,” she smiles. “Rejoice. You never have to worry about having children. You’re sterile now, technically speaking.”

Joy,” I grumble. I look over my shoulder with an irritated expression. “What exactly are you here for, then?”

I’m here,” she says. “Because this area is rather hot.”

What does that mean.”

Never mind that,” she says. “As long as I can keep an eye on you, I can tell if you’re having an adverse reaction to the Psycho Dust or not,” then, with a serious tone, “I won’t have anyone else die in front of me if I can help it, understand. Take care of that new body of yours, Atsuko Daisuke.”

She brushes past me, headed back inside of the school. I scowl at the sight of her leaving.

She may look good,” I say to myself as I stomp behind her. “But her personality sure is off putting.”

Its hard to contemplate the idea of having a new body while going grocery shopping.

Honestly,” I grumble, looking over the list. “Why doesn’t that woman do her own shopping? Why am I the one who has to do it all the time…”

Its always like this. She gives me a list and sends me out, telling me that she’s too busy to do it herself. I’d believe it if she had a class to teach or something, but its always when she’s lounging about, so any sympathy I would have for her is easily voided.

On top of that, that conversation with Yaotome Arisu is still playing in my head. I’m sure people must have noticed I was visibly more hostile when around the girl – maybe they think less of me, all having misinterpreted our leaving the cafeteria for something else.

I won’t have anyone else die in front of me if, I can help it, understand?

I don’t understand at all,” I grumble, taking a bag of rice off the wall. “If she thinks she can just give such a cryptic explanation…”

I simply shake my head. I can’t dwell on something like that. She said take care of this new body, whatever that means. If that means I have a get out of jail free card, then so be it. I don’t have any reason to even think about it.

That’s everything. Time to check out.”

I come out to see the sky has darkened. Its probably getting late – seven, maybe eight o’clock right now, I think. Zipping my jacket up, I clutch the grocery bags as I make my way down the road.

And before I realize it, I come to an abrupt stop. A loud rip fills the air.

Ah, no!!”

My grocery bag catches the exhaust pipe of a motorcycle and tears. Bags of rice and vegetables fall to the ground as I try to scoop them up, while still listening for the source of the sound. It wasn’t too far away, for sure. I know it had to be around the corner—!!

In my frustration…

Who the hell parked here!?”

I kick one of the bikes over.

It was completely reactionary. I didn’t intend to kick it over.

I also didn’t expect it to crash into the other two bikes parked next to it. The sound is loud enough to fill the night air with echoes. I wince at the sight.

I need to get the hell out of here.

My brain shouts such a thing, but its too late. Someone grabs the back of my head. I hear a voice behind me.

Hey, kid…”

A pair of gentlemen approach from the front as this man behind me holds on tight. Judging by the looks on their face, they seem to be the owners of these bikes. The two in front of me resemble the delinquent type. I can only assume the guy behind me is the same. I try to squirm out of his reach, but he simply grabs me by the hair.

So,” The guy behind me says. “You like to kick people’s bikes, huh?”

What are you talking about,” I laugh. “I didn’t kick any bikes.”

Oh? So I didn’t see what I thought I saw, then?”

He pushes me. I fall on my face between the two guys in front of me. The three form a triangle around me as I stand up.

Hey, E. He says he didn’t kick the bikes. What did you see?”

I saw,” one of them sniffs. “This little faggot kick them all right. Kid, you have any idea what I paid for that bike.”

The man behind me silences him. He looks to the other.

Lodo?”

He knocked them over. He knocked them right over and was about to run the hell away, I think,” he cracks his knuckles. “What should we do to him, boss?”

…I have an idea.”

The back of my head is grabbed and I’m thrown to the street. The two others hold me down as the one they call boss reaches in his pocket.

A silver zippo lighter comes right out. He flicks it to life.

Alright. I think a burn here or there would even out the cost, don’t you?”

The two others laugh.

Man, I hope you don’t use any hair gel,” the one called Lodo laughs. “Or you’ll go up like a candle.”

I hope he does,” E squeals. “It’ll teach his sorry ass a bit, won’t it?”

Hold him still!”

I see the flame light up next to my head. It comes closer to my hair. I squeeze my eyes shut as it comes closer – I can feel the heat against the side of my face. But…

Its not close enough to burn me, is it?

Its touching my skin, but its not burning me…

Take care of that new body of yours, Daisuke.

A howl fills the air. I open my eyes immediately. The lighter in the Boss’ hand is spurting fire like a torch from the top. He drops it at once as it begins to glow red, clutching his hand.

Boss! Are you—nggghh!!”

The one called E leaps as the flame from the lighter shoots at him like a firework. He howls as his shirt catches fire, slapping it to put it out. I hop to my feet at once. The man called Lodo pulls a knife from his pocket.

Where do you—Ah! Ah!!”

The lighter flame has caught his pant leg. He drops and rolls as I run, grabbing the tattered bag of grocery as they roll and shout, trying to put the flame out.

I run for blocks. By the time I stop running, I’m gasping for air.

What was that, just now? It wasn’t a lighter malfunction. No…

I…”

When the fire lit…there was a strange feeling at the back of my mind. Like a switch turned on or something.

And…

When I looked at those guys…the lighter…”

It…the flame started jumping from person to person, didn’t it?

My whole body…feels hot…”

Not just feels. Steam is rolling off of me. I can see beads of sweat evaporating off me. My head feels like there’s a million degree fever behind my skull. I find myself leaning against a wall to support myself, gasping. I close my eyes, feeling my eyes pound behind the lids.

I expected as much.”

My eyes don’t even open. I sigh.

You again. You’re following me around, aren’t you?”

She smiles. I can feel her smile in front of me. I open my eyes.

There, leaned against the wall with me, is that girl in her black dress. She watches me carefully, as if examining me.

I expected it,” she says. “For it to activate sooner or later. It is what the Psycho Dust is for, primarily. But do so in such a violent way…”

I bet,” I gasp. “You have all kinds of answers for me…so…”

Mind explaining what it is you did to me, Yaotome Arisu?

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