Story: Choukuko's Dog (all chapters)

Authors: MadPanda

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Chapter 1

Title: 1. First Impressions

[Author's notes: Yukiko school year gets off to it usual horrible start, but a new student changes things...and the school bully's not happy.]

Disclaimer:  This is an original story written by Don Johnson (a/k/a "MadPanda") solely for the entertainmant of the audience.  Any reproduction, re-transmission, re-publication or re-anything else of the characters, content or story (in part or in its entirety) without the express written consent of the author is prohibited.  You have been warned.  :-)



"Choukuko's Dog"
A MadPanda original jam

Chapter 1 - First Impressions

The classroom was a beehive of activity.  Clusters of second-year students were spread out across the room, chattering loudly about this rumor and that, or playfully teasing each other.  One student set herself apart from the cliques, choosing instead to bury her head in a large textbook.  Yukiko Hitsuji skimmed the pages more than read them, trying to occupy her time before the classes started for the day.  She knew no one would talk to her--not kindly, anyway.  The only one who did was usually Class Representative Hiroko Akiyama, a sassy brat who never had a kind word for anyone.

'I can't help being who I am,' Yukiko thought to herself, her pink eyes leaving the book and scanning the crowd instead.  'I'll always be an albino.  It's not my fault.  it's not like I'm evil or something.'

Her eyes made the mistake of catching Hiroko's eyes.  The taller girl stopped her conversation and yelled at Yukiko, "Hey, Choukuko!  What are you looking at?  Don't make me come over there and rip those pink eyes out of your head!"

"I..I wan't looking at you, Class Rep Akiyama-san.  Really."  Yukiko took off her thick glasses and turned away from Akiyama.  "And my name is not Choukuko."  Yukiko's voice was small and shaky, befitting her frail frame.  It had the tiniest bit of backbone in it, however, and that ticked Hiroko off to no end.

"What's this?  You're talking back today?  Didn't I warn you about that last year?  And don't you remember HOW I warned you?"  Students scattered as Hiroko stormed over to the still-seated Yukiko.  She slammed her fist loudly on the desk, causing Yukiko to shrink back into her seat.  "You bruise quite easily, Hitsuji, remember?  Don't make me have to show you again just how easily, because I'll be more than happy to do so."  Her voice was full of hatred for the quivering girl cowering below her.  "Better yet, I'll hurt you in a way that shows no bruises."  She then turned to the class.  "From now on, Hitsuji-san here will be known as 'Choukuko-san'!"

The other kids picked up the slur right away and started chanting, "Chou-ku-ko!  Chou-ku-ko!  Chou-ku-ko!"   Hiroko smiled and looked down on the girl.  "How do you like your new name, Choukuko?"  Yukiko buried her head in her hands, her long white hair serving as a veil to hide her tears.  That was the only reply Hiroko needed.  "Good, I'm glad you're happy with it."  She left Yukiko's desk and went back to her own as the bell rang for class to begin.

A stern-looking brunette entered the room, her dour expresion matching her dreb outfit.  She stood in front of the class and waited for everyone to take their seats.  When they did, Hiroko barked out the order, "Rise!"  In unison, the class rose, bowed, and shouted, "Good morning, Toho-sensei!"  The teacher bowed to them, and Hiroko shouted again, "Be seated!"  Again, the class sat in unison.  Hiroko kept an eye on Yukiko, making sure the girl stayed in step with everyone else.

"Thank you, Akiyama-san," the teacher said.  "Good morning everyone.  I hope you had a good summer.  Today, I'll be introducing a new student into this class.  I'm counting on you to make her feel welcome.  Though I know it may be difficult for...some of you."  She looked directly at Hiroko, making sure the girl understood.

"We'll do our best," Hiroko replied gruffly.

"All right then.  You can come in now, Fukurou-san."

All eyes turned towards the door, as a tall girl strode proudly into the room.  Her black hair was thick and wavy, falling just past her shoulders.  Her features were neither Asian nor Caucasian, falling somewhere in between. She wore an ornamental headband to keep her bangs above her eyes, and a matching pair on both wrists.  Being closest to the door, Yukiko saw her first, and her pink eyes met the dark ones of the newcomer.  She saw no malice there--instead, she saw strength, which seemed to match the girl's toned stature.  The stranger looked down at Yukiko with concern, as she wondered why this student was crying.  Yukiko caught that, blushed, and buried her head again.  This time, she peeked through her thick glasses to see what the newcomer would do next.  The girl smiled reasssuringly, then turned her back to the crowd and began to write her name on the blackboard.  When she was done, she turned to the class and bowed, speaking loudly and cheerfully.

"Good morning.  My name is Fukurou Pirika.  I am very happy to meet you.  I will be joining your class starting today.  Please be kind to me."

"What the hell?" Hiroko whispered to a nearby classmate.  "We got an Ainu now?  First Choukuko, and now this?  What is this, a dumping ground for freaks?"

The rest of the class didn't know what to make of her, so they waited for Hiroko to take the lead.  "I am Class Representative Akiyama Hiroko.  Welcome to our class." The words were polite, but they came through clenched teeth.  "You can sit...there!"  Hiroko pointed to the desk next to Yukiko, the former occupant scurrying to move to a vacant desk further back in the class.

Pirika bowed again and took her seat.  She looked over to her white-haired classmate and gave a warm smile.  "Hi, I'm Pirika!  I hope we can be friends!"

Yukiko was stunned.  This girl seemed genuinely happy to meet her.   She wanted Pirika's openness to be honest, but she still felt the need to hold back.  Like most Japanese, she had heard about the Ainu--the aboriginal tribes that settled the islands long before there were any Japanese.  They were the "untouchables", the "others".  They were all but wiped out by wars or disease, and the ones that remained either hid themselves in society, or stayed pretty much to themselves.  So it was odd to see one right in front of her.

"Hitsuji Yukiko.  I...I'm happy to meet you.  I'm sure we'll be...friends..."  Yukiko spoke softly, wondering what kind of girl Pirika really was.

"Don't worry, Hitsuji-san, I won't eat you...yet!" Pirika smiled as Yukiko's eyes almost dwarfed her large lenses.

"Well, now that that's settled, shall we begin?"  The teacher ordered the class to open their textbooks.  Pirika and Yukiko smiled at each other, and joined the class.  'Maybe this one...,' Yukiko sighed to herself.

Hiroko watched the pair from across the room.  'Enjoy your new friendship, Choukuko.  It won't last long.'  She leaned over to one of her friends.  "We're gonna have to keep an eye on the new girl as know how 'they' are."


Ignoring the stares of the other students, Pirika sought a quiet place to eat her lunch.  She spotted Yukiko sitting under a shady tree, and decided to join her.  The petite teen was deep in thought, and didn't notice Pirika approaching.

"Having dirty thoughts about me, I hope?"

"Fu-Fu-Fukurou-san!!"  Yukiko was so startled by Pirika's sultry voice, she quickly jumped to her feet, and almost up into the tree.  ""

"Wow, you're a skittish one, aren't you?"  Pirika giggled and stood next to the still shaking Yukiko.  "Sorry about that.  Is this seat taken?"

"Um, no.  I'm usually here by myself, so it would be nice to finally have company.  Thank you, Fukurou-san."  Yukiko bowed gratefully to Pirika, who seemed a bit confused by the gesture.

"Hey, now!  No need to be so formal."  Pirika gently took Yukiko's chin and raised her head out of the bow, then put her hands on her classmate's shoulders.  "Look, if we're gonna be friends, we'd best get used to each other, right?  Now, I'm Pirika, and you're Yukiko--"

"But--" Yukiko stepped back, putting her hands up in protest.

Pirika shook her finger, "No 'buts'!  If we're gonna do this, it's gonna be done right.  Now, Yuki-pe, let's have lunch!"  She turned, plopped herself down on the grass and opened a small plastic bag.

Yukiko joined her on the ground, adjusting her darkened glasses and cocking her head to the side.  "Yuki...'pe'?"

"Mmm-hmm.  In the language of my people, 'pe' means 'friend'."  Pirika stuffed her face with a rice ball.

"Your 'people'...the Ainu.  I've never met a full-blooded Ainu before."  Yukiko blushed, hoping the comment didn't come out the wrong way.

"Then we're even, since I've never met a full-blooded albino before!"  Pirika watched as Yukiko's expression changed from worry to understanding.  "Unless you've been to Hokkaido or Sakhalin, or known one of us, you probably haven't.  But you would be surprised how many people have Ainu blood in them.  I could tell you stories that would have you running for a DNA kit!"  Pirika paused to take a bite out of a dried fish.  "We were here first, after all.  You'd think we'd get watered down sooner or later...  It's just a shame how we're treated here."

Yukiko hung her head.  "I'm...I'm sorry."

"What are you apologizing for?  You didn't do anything personally, right?  Or is there something I should know....hmmm?"  Pirika's playful grin set Yukiko at ease.

"'s just...well, it's just I think people should be treated equally.  I don't like the way our government treats some people here."

"Heck, you have it easy.  You're just an albino.  At least you're still considered Japanese."  Pirika saw the sting her words gave to Yukiko, and quickily apologized.  "I'm sorry, Yuki-pe...I didn't mean--"

"No," Yukiko whispered.  "You're right.  I'm just an albino.  I have no right to complain or worry.  I may be different from the rest of them, but I can still get privileges you can't, or that even foreigners can't."  She turned away from Pirika. 

"Yeah, you can get a good job, or marry who you want.  You can actually -use- the public baths!"  Pirika let out a laugh that sounded like music to Yukiko's ears.  "They usually hire us to clean or run them.  It's good that I'm staying with the owner of the one near me.  She's a friend of my mother.  She lets me use it when everyone else goes home."

"I could use one, but when I go, people give me this look like, well, something's going to happen to them if I go in.  So I'd rather not.  It''s less embarrassing."  Yukiko's blush returned, and Pirika took notice...

"You know, with your skin being so pale, it's hard to hide a blush.  Good thing, though, as it looks good on you."  Pirika smiled and moved close to Yukiko's face.  "Makes you look very attractive," she said seductively.......

"Aaah!!"  Yukiko tried to get up and run, but she stumbled..  She pouted at Pirika, who rose to offer a helping hand.

"C'mon, Yuki-pe, I'm only having fun with you.  No need to fall apart.  Though it's nice to have a pretty girl fall for me for once!"

Yukiko took a moment to process the information in that sentence.  'Was she really joking?   Does she prefer girls?  Does she really think I'm pretty?'  She shook her head and extended her hand so that Pirika could lift her up.  She was surprised by Pirika's strength, as she was practically snatched up off the ground.  "Thank you very much, Fukurou--er, Pirika-chan."

"See?  That wasn't hard, was it?  It does sound pretty coming from you.  I like it.  You can even cut it down to 'Piri-chan' if you like."

"Piri-chan....okay.  By the way, what does your name mean?"

It was now Pirika's turn to blush.  "It means...well, it means 'beauty'.  Makes me sound kinda vain, doesn't it?  It's embarassing, but I'm stuck with it.  As for my family name, we were forced to take a Japanese family name as part of their stupid assimilation program.  Since my family line served as protectors of our village, and the god of protection for us is the owl, we chose the Japanese word for owl, 'fukurou'.  I think the whole thing is pretty silly."

"Not at all," Yukiko turned to the taller woman and took her hand.  "It does suit you very well.  You are strong, so you're definitely a protector......."

"Yeeesss?" Pirika drawled teasingly, squeezing Yukiko's hand.

" are beautiful."  Yukiko spoke almost inaudibly, jerking her hand away from her grinning classmate.  She had her back turned to Pirika, and her head down.  Nevertheless, Pirika loved the reaction she got out of her.

"Thank you, Yuki-pe.  That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me since I've been here."  Pirika caught some movement out of the corner of her eye, and took a step back.  "Not to darken the mood or anything, but..."  Pirika nodded in the direction of the oncoming Hiroko, who was accompanied by three of her friends.

"Well, well.  If it isn't Snow White and her dog, Toto!" Hiroko hissed, her comrades giggling behind her.

"I..I think you have your stories mixed up, Class Repre-" Yukiko's reply was cut short by Hiroko's glare.

"I was talking -at- you, Choukuko, not to you!  What are you doing here anyway, feeding your dog?"

"Keep it up, Akiyama, and I might have to kill a Class Rep on my first day!"  Pirika was ready to take out this upstart, and had no qualms about dealing with her minions as well.

"Please, Piri-chan...just let her be."  Yukiko gently took hold of Pirika's arm.  "We don't want any trouble from you, Class Representative Akiyama-san.  Please leave us alone."  She stood beside--but a step behind--Pirika as she pleaded with the bully.

"You've had trouble since the first day you set your ghostly foot in our door, Choukuko.  Keep your dog in line, or we'll have to make even more trouble for you."  Hiroko glared one more time at Pirika before leaving.  "See you in class, Inu."

"That's AINU, bitch!!"  Pirika would've charged at the girls and probably have killed them, if not for the extra weight dragging at her from behind.  She turned her head to see Yukiko clinging to the back of her school uniform.

"Please don't," Yukiko pleaded.  "You'll get expelled.  She's not worth it. and...and neither am I."

Pirika checked her anger with a loud huff.  "Yuki-pe," she said softly.  "You are worth it.  No one deserves to be treated like that by anyone...especially us.  If I can stop her from doing it, the world would be a better place, trust me."

"But I'm sorry for getting you involved with my troubles with her.  She--"  Yukiko was interrupted as Pirika reached around to bring her face-to-face.

"Look, Yuki-pe.  There are people like that in here, and out there.  They're not going to like us because we're different.  That's just how it is.  I can't beat them all up, and you can't run from them all.  'We'll deal with them, or ignore them, in our own way and in our own time.'  My father told me that, and you just reminded me of his words."  She drew the frail girl into a hug.  "It will get better, Yuki-pe.  They're going to have to get used to us, that's all."

"But what if they don't?" Yukiko's muffled voice asked.

"Well, then...I'll just have to sacrifice a couple of bears and have their spirits kill everyone.  Simple as that!"  The two girls shared a laugh, and walked off to class.  "By the way...why does Akiyama keep calling you 'Choukuko'?"

Yukiko stopped and stared at the ground.  "Chalk Girl," she said betewwn sniffles.

End of Chapter 1

[End notes: A/N:  Thanks for reading!  I hope you like it.  Racism in Japan is not a subject that's brought up often, as (I guess) people just expect everyone in Japan to be Japanese.  In truth, not many people know about the struggles of the Ainu.  Think about what the Native Americans have gone through, and you have a very rough estimate of what kind of situation the Ainu have been (and continue to be) in.

Anyway, off to the next chapter.  See you there!

Until then..."So long, and thanks for all the fish!"]

Chapter 2

Title: 2. Matters of Importance

[Author's notes: A few weeks have passed.  As the girls' friendship grows closer, Pirika's disdain for the status quo reaches a boiling point.]

Disclaimer:  What you are about to read is not true.  No names have been changed because no one has been charged with any crime...yet!  This chapter, as well as the story it is part of, is property of Don Johnson (a/k/a MadPanda), and is written solely on a non-profit basis.   Although the historical events portrayed in this story are true, any resemblences to any events or any persons living, dead or somewhere in between is purely coincidental.

(That should be worth at least a law internship!)


"Choukuko's Dog" - by MadPanda

Chapter 2 - "Matters of Importance"

The friendship between Yukiko and Pirika grew during the first few weeks of the semester.  Yukiko's grades improved greatly, as she was spending less time fearing Hiroko and the other students, and more time actually paying attention in class.  Yukiko soon became one of the best academic students in the school..  As an added benefit, she was able to help Pirika raise her own grades.  The steady increase in their marks didn't go unnoticed, and they weren't exactly praised for their efforts.  In fact, a group of students (as well as a couple of teachers) had accused the pair of cheating.

Unfortunately, their academic success didn't translate well to the physical aspects of their curriculum.  While Yukiko's poor stamina and light-sensitivity kept her out of most physical events, Pirika would be a star athlete, if not told to "dial it back a bit" by her coaches.  If it could be said, she actually performed too well in track and field events.  The school already had its own "dream team" of student-athletes, and apparently had no room for one more.  Undaunted, Pirika would always do her best, run her hardest, and jump her highest.  Instead of accolades, she was met with accusations of steroid abuse.

They fared no better socially, being rejected by the school's many clubs whenever they applied.  Whenever there was a project to be done, Pirika and Yukiko would be paired off, rather than made to work with the other students.  Their skills balanced, as Pirika's creativity and craftsmanship meshed with Yukiko's intelligence and insight.  Yet for all their shared accomplishments, the pair usually went ignored--or at the very least, given a "you could do better" attitude--by their teachers.

To top this all off, they continued to have trouble with the Class Representative.  Hiroko and her bunch would still try to taunt them both, but Pirika was ever at the ready, and Yukiko would keep things from escalating into a full-scale war.

"Why do we even bother, Yuki-pe?" Pirika asked one day after class.  "No one likes us, no matter how hard we try."  For all her gung-ho spirit, even she was beginning to grow weary of all the rejection.

Yukiko gave her friend's hand a gentle squeeze.  "I don't know, Piri-chan...  I guess we can look at it this way: we're not doing it for them, we're doing it for us.  We're doing our best, and we're doing what we like..  Let them accuse us or put us down all they want.  We know the truth, and that's what matters."

Pirika looked into Yukiko's eyes.  "You don't believe that load of crap either, do you?" Her sarcastic smile broke Yukiko's resolve.

"Well, it was worth a shot."  Yukiko laughed, then let out a sigh.  "Honestly, Piri-chan, I do believe some of it.  We're not going to please anyone with what we do, but we can at least please ourselves.  I for one have never been happier or more comfortable with who I am and what I can or cannot do.  It's all because of you, Piri-chan."  She blushed and turned her head away.  "As much as it hurts to be treated as we do, I'll bear it if it means I can continue to learn and grow as a person.  And I'll continue to bear it if it means I can do it all with you by my side."  That last sentence caught Yukiko by surprise, as did the crushing hug she received from Pirika.

"Just...just shut up, Yuki-pe....", was all Pirika could manage, tears streaming down her face.

Theirs was a mutually beneficial friendship, and considering how hard it was for them to make friends, they couldn't be happier with each other


Of course, this was not good news for Hiroko. She had hoped that pairing those "freaks" together would be like caging dogs in a pen--easy to keep an eye on, and even easier to torture.  She also thought that they'd eventually come to turn on each other, like dogs who get too mean and hungry.  What she didn't realize is that they would bond, learning from each other and growing stronger.  Just as teasing a cage full of dogs is a dangerous thing, she began to wonder how far she could push Pirika before Yukiko would just let her attack.

"Either Choukuko or her bitch has to go.  I can't have both in my classroom!" She said angrily to herself.  She had arrived early to school this morning, and was pacing in a secluded area behind the main building.  She heard voices approaching, and ducked behind a bush.

Yukiko and Pirika returned to the spot where they first had their lunch.  This was becoming a morning and afternoon ritual for them, and Hiroko knew it.  She watched patiently as the two conversed.

"You know, I've never seen you without your school uniform," Pirika leaned against the tree, "Especially since you don't do the physical education classes.  How did you manage that, anyway?"

Yukiko reached into her bag and produced a slip of paper.  "It's a doctor's note.  I can't participate in any strenuous sports, or outdoor activities where I'll be in the sun for a long period of time."

"Wow...any chance I can get one of these?"  Pirika asked.

"I doubt it.  As you probably know, albinos are light-sensitive and we burn easily in the sun.  I also have asthma, so running wouldn't be the best thing for me.  I can't swim, so that's out, too."

"Well, that explains a few things, like your glasses."  She reached over and gently took the tinted spectacles off of Yukiko's head without protest from the smaller girl.  "I like them, but when they turn dark, they hide your pretty pink eyes."  She examined the glasses a little more, then returned them to the squinting girl.

"Um...thank you."  Yukiko's blush returned, and Pirika smiled at the reaction. 

"I've been meaning to ask you, Yuki-pe...what do you do after school?"  Pirika asked a bit nervously.

"I usually stay home, but when I do go out, I do it at night.  It's much easier for me."

"I can understand that.  Your parents don't mind?"

"Of course not," Yukiko replied, her voice taking on a bitter tone..  "As long as I come home at a reasonable hour, and don't get into any trouble...  They don't seem to mind.  In fact, I sometimes think they don't really care.  If I fell off the edge of the earth tonight, they'd probably be better off.  They wouldn't have to deal with having a 'freak' for a daughter."

"Oh, come on, Yuki-pe!" Pirika gave Yukiko a dismissive wave.  "I mean, sure, they're probably a bit detached, but I'm sure they would miss you if something really bad happened to you."

Yukiko looked thoughtfully at the ground.  "I wonder, Piri-chan.  My mother seldom shows her affection towards me, and my father...well, let's just say if I had a brother, he'd have a child."

"Ouch," Pirika said softly.  "Do know this, Yuki-pe.  If something did happen to you, I'd miss you.  I'd miss you terribly."

"And I, you."  Yukiko shyly took hold of Pirika's hand.  "You've come to mean a great deal to me, and I would not want anything to happen to you."

'Then it's settled.  We'll just have to take care of each other!"  Pirika and Yukiko exchanged smiles.  "And we can start tonight!  Why don't we go out together?"

"Wh-what?"  Yukiko's eyes flew open, but she tightened her grip on Pirika's hands.  "You"

"Well, I was going to say 'come over to my place so you can see some of my Ainu trinkets'," Pirika leaned closer to Yukiko's face, their lips millimeters apart.   "But your idea sounds much better!"

Yukiko's heart, mind and body were waging a serious war at that moment.  Her heart wanting nothing more than to kiss those lips that were oh-so-close to her; her mind was trying to figure out why she wanted to do such a thing so desperately, and her body was planning some kind of escape route.  Time slowed to a crawl as she suddenly forgot how to breathe.  Her feelings started to overwhelm her, and she was sure the ground would rush up to meet her any moment now.

Pirika caught Yukiko before her knees gave way, and gently sat her down by the tree.  "Are you alright, Yuki-pe?  I'm sorry if I scared you.  If I knew you'd react that way, I'd be more careful!"

Yukiko was panting as she sat, trying to get both air and her senses back....  "it's not your fault.  It's just...well, it's just..."

"Too much at once, right?  I get it.  Okay, it won't be a 'date', but we'll just hang out together.  You pick the place, okay?"  Pirika tried to ease the smaller girl's mind, and divert her attention from her shortness of breath.

"That would be great,"  Yukiko was starting to breathe normally, and the color--well, what little of it she had in her face--was returning.  With some help from Pirika, she stood on wobbly legs before trying to take a step forward.  "There's a place I go often, I'd like to take you there.  We'll meet after school to set up a time for later, okay?"

"Terrific!"  Pirika was beaming.  She was glad to see Yukiko was alright, but more importantly, she was excited for the chance to spend some non-school time with her.  "Well, off to class.  We'd better hurry."

"I can't run, remember--whoa!"  Yukiko's complaint was cut off as Pirika swept her off her feet and ran in the direction of the main building.

"Hey, Akiyama!"  Pirika yelled over her shoulder.  "You coming?"

Hiroko scrambled to her feet, dumbfounded.  "How did she know?"  She shook herself out of her stupor and ran off to class.


Upon entering the class, Hiroko walked in on Pirika and Yukiko having a good laugh, most likely at her expense.

"Something funny, Choukuko?" Hiroko snapped.

"N-no...well, it's just, well..." Yukiko leaned away from Hiroko's glare, nervously fidgeting with her hands.

"Hey, it's not my fault I have good hearing," Pirika said, pointing to her ears.  "If you weren't rolling around down there like the 'snake-in-the-grass' that you are, I probably wouldn't have noticed.  What were you doing there, anyway?  Trying to get some upskirt photos?"

Some slight snickering was heard before Hiroko averted her glare from Yukiko and towards the rest of the class.  "Sorry, I don't do wildlife photography!", she haughtily replied.  "You two have been way too chummy lately...too much for my taste, anyway.  You do know bestiality is prohibited on school grounds, don't you, Choukuko?"

"Good thing your parents did it out in the street then, huh Akiyama?"  Pirika's grin was wide, knowing she had beaten the tomboy at her own game.

"This is your last warning, Choukuko!  Heel your dog or you'll really be sorry!"  Hiroko stormed off to her desk.  The rest of the class watched the other two girls to see if another comeback was on the way.  When none followed, they broke out in a flood of noise.

Pirika gave Yukiko a look that practically said, 'Did I do okay?'  Yukiko blushed and hid behind her hair, and Pirika took her seat next to her, her satisfied grin getting even wider.


As the class began, Pirika raised her hand.

"What is it, Fukurou-san?" Toho-sensei really wanted to ignore the girl, but Pirika's waving made it difficult for her to do anything else.

"Why is it that I can't find any books about my people in the library?"

"Maybe you should look in the 'Animals' section!" one of Hiroko's friends yelled, sending the class into laughter.

"Enough!" Toho-sensei hushed the crowd.  "What do you mean?  There are all kinds of research materials there.  I'm sure you can find something..."

"Not really, Sensei." Pirika said, ignoring the still-giggling students.  "I mean, they mention how Japan was 'settled' during the Jomon period, and how the 'settlers' moved north towards Hokkaido, and even the three major wars that were fought between the settlers and the 'lesser tribes', but that's as far as it goes.  You'd think we no longer existed."

"You must understand, Fukurou-san.  We want to educate our students to be proud of who they are, and to be upstanding citizens in the community and in the country.  It is a matter of importance.  We teach what they need to know, not what they don't."  Toho-sensei was quite resolute in her stance.

"A matter of importance?  So, you're saying that showing the history of a people other than the Japanese is not important?"  Pirika's voice rose, even as Yukiko tugged at her skirt to get her to quiet down.

"Not exactly.  As you know, we've already learned about mainland Asia's influences on our history, not to mention the World Wars and the huge influence America's culture has had on our own.  Like I said, we cover what is important."  Toho-sensei was not budging one inch.  "I applaud your interest in your people, but I would suggest you learn about them on your own time, and not disrupt the class any further."

Pirika was livid.  "How can you say we're not important?  How can you simply dismiss an entire race of people like that?  We weren't just 'savages'!  We were fighters, samurai, even royalty!  You're not going to tell them any of this because it's 'not important?  Telling how you practically forced our people to be farmers, knowing full well we were hunters and fishermen, and then taking the land you forced us on back because we couldn't farm it...that's not important?"

"In the grand view, Fukurou-san, yes.  It's not important," the teacher said calmly.  "Besides, your claims are mainly unfounded speculation or rumor.  I'm sure none of the descendents of those samurai or royalty would admit to being Ainu today.  The information does nothing to show Japan's progress other than to say we were able to settle the northern islands.  It's not in our curriculum, so there's no need to teach it."

"And creating laws that barely recognize us--but do nothing to actually help us--I guess that's not important either, right?"

Toho-sensei had reached her tolerance limit.  "Fukurou-san, I'm going to have to ask you to stand outside for the rest of the day.  Your continued outbursts are only keeping the other students from learning.--"

"It's YOU who's keeping them from learning, Toho-sensei!  You and this whole stupid system!"  Pirika gathered her belongings and stormed out of the classroom, slamming the door behind her.

Yukiko rose to go after her enraged friend, but the teacher stopped her.  "And where do you think you're going, Hitsuji-san?"

"I'm...I'm going with her."  Yukiko took a deep breath, balled her fists, and looked straight at the surprised teacher.  "Yes, I'm going to stand with her.  I agree with her, Toho-sensei.  It's wrong to ignore a people simply because they're not the majority, or because they're different.  I may not be as passionate about it as she is, for she has a very good reason, but I would carry on her argument with you.  That means I too would be disruptive to the class, so to avoid being told to leave, I'll just go with her."

The teacher saw nothing but conviction in the pale girl's eyes, and relented.  "So be it.  Get out of here.  You both will be brought to the Principal's Office."

Yukiko bowed to the teacher, then to the class, and left the shocked classroom.

Hiroko viewed the events from her desk with full attention, and an odd grin.


Pirika was still fuming, muttering to herself and pacing randomly.  She was startled out of her rage when she saw Yukiko watching her.

"What are you doing out here, Yuki-pe?  Shouldn't you be inside with the rest of them?"

Yukiko nervously walked over to her friend.  "No, I'm where I should with you."  She took one of Pirika's hands and tried to lead her to stand by a wall.  "I told her I agreed with you, and that she was wrong.....that we were wrong to ignore the Ainu as a people."  She gave Pirika a hug, hoping it would soothe her.

"They're not going to listen, Yuki-pe.  They won't change."  Pirika felt like she was beating her head against a rock, and it was really beginning to hurt.

"That's the sad part, Piri-chan.  We're a proud, stubborn people.  It has already cost us once, but I don't think we see the Ainu as anywhere near a threat as we did the Americans back before Hiroshima.  We'll bully the Ainu just as we do the foreigners, as long as we can get away with it.  For that, Piri-chan, I deeply apologize."

Pirika knew Yukiko's apology was sincere, but it wasn't her place to apologize.  "You're not like them, Yuki-pe.  You understand what it's like to be bullied.  You're an outsider in your own race.  I can't think of anything scarier than that."

"I can," Yukiko said softly.  "Being told that I don't exist, and having the background of my people reduced to a footnote, or a relic in a museum...that's scary."

"True.  How do you do that, Yuki-pe?  How is it that you always know the right thing to say to me?."

Yukiko was happy to see Pirika's smile again.  "Didn't they tell you, Piri-chan?  We albinos are really evil spirits, ghosts who can see into the hearts of men...and women!"  She gave a soft laugh, and it seemed to ease Pirika even more.  "If it helps any, I for one would like to learn all there is to learn about you and your people, Piri-chan."

"I'll tell you what I can, but I'm still learning myself.  I used to get my information from my elders, now I have to rely on the Internet of all things!"  Pirika gave Yukiko a soft kiss on the top of her head, and the smaller girl found her skin a shade of crimson she'd never seen before.  "Thank you, Yuki-pe.  It does help, and it does mean a lot to me.  Not just because someone is interested, but because -you- are interested."

"Why wouldn't I be?  We're friends, right?"

"Right.  Let's get out of here  If the principal really wants us, she'll know where to find us tomorrow."

Yukiko normally would shudder at the thought of cutting school, but today she really didn't care.  "Sure, let's go."  The two girls left the building, hand in hand.

End of Chapter 2

[End notes:

Sorry for the delay, everyone!  Between the holiday (July 4) and some indecisiveness on my part, this one took a bit longer than I planned.  Gomen nasai!  (Bowing)

I didn't mention this the first time around: I had originally wanted to work this as a fantasy piece, with Pirika having the ability to call on the spirits of the Ainu gods, while Yukiko would be able to create portals using magical chalk (see "Pan's Labyrinth").  I decided against it, because it would have made the girls less "human", less real.

Thanks to you readers, and special thanks to those who have rated and reviewed.  Please remember to feed the Panda - comments of all kinds are welcome!

Chapter 3 in less than a week!

Until then..."So long, and thanks for all the fish!"


Chapter 3

Title: 3. Tales of the Crow

[Author's notes: As the school's Principal and Class Rep hatch a scheme, Yukiko gets a taste of the Ainu culture...literally.]

Dislaimer: This is a long chapter, so I keep this part short.  I own this story.  There. Now, go read.  See you in the End Notes!


"Choukuko's Dog" by MadPanda

Chapter 3 - Tales of the Crow

"Ah, Akiyama-san.  Please have a seat."  The principal waved for the class rep to approach her massive desk.  The woman was past middle-age, and looked every second of it.  Her weary eyes set on Hiroko, waiting until the girl was perfectly still before starting her meeting.

"Good morning, Principal Kobiyashi-sama.  How can I help you?"  Hiroko bowed and sat.

"First of all, I want to applaud you on the performance of your class.  The marks for the class as a whole have risen steadily in the last few weeks, and Toho-san has informed me of your leadership in keeping the students at their best."

"Thank you, Kobiyashi-sama," Hiroko beamed.  "We're all doing our--"

"However," the principal cut in.  "There was that concerned her, and myself as well.  I'm sure you know what I'm referring to, and which students we're concered with."

"Um...yes, Kobiyashi-sama.  I'm sure I know which two you mean."  Hiroko's voice went from prideful to spiteful.

"Good, I'm glad we understand each other.  Now, I know you're having issues with these two students.  This is not surprising, especially considering who these two are, correct?"

Hiroko gave an understanding nod, and Kobiyashi continued.

"They were supposed to see me today about this incident, but they never showed.  Why is that, Akiyama-san?"

Hiroko was surprised for a moment.  "I'm not sure, Kobayashi-sama.  I had expected to see them still in the hall at lunch, but they weren't there."

"It is your responsibility to keep your classmates in line, isn't it?"  The older woman said accusingly.

Hiroko hung her head in embarrassment.  "My apologies, Ma'am.  I've done my best with them, but Fukurou-san is a difficult person to deal with, and I think she's becoming a very bad influence on Hitsuji-san."  She did her best to keep the conversation civil, without breaking into a string of obscenities.

The principal turned her chair to the side.  "It it I who should apologize, Akiyama-san.  Certain students--especially those like Fukurou-san--tend to be a bit, shall we say, reluctant to follow the rules of general society.  Normally I would find a reason to transfer these students into another school, but doing so because of today's incident could be taken as a sign of racism.  Also, since they themselves have not actually caused a disruption in the class before today, other than just being there, I have no grounds to remove them."  Kobiyashi looked away for a moment, and Hiroko could almost hear the wheels turning in the principal's head.  "To be honest, I would like nothing more than to have, well, one of those two leave my school.  Unfortunately, doing so without a reason would cause a scandal that we cannot afford."

Hiroko nodded.  "Not only that, but you also have...the other one.  They are a matched set now, Ma'am.  As hard as getting rid of one is, doing both is twice as difficult.  The more problematic student is kept in line by the quieter one, so it's hard to provoke a...negative response from her."

"You see my problem then, Akiyama-san."  The older woman turned back to face Hiroko, folding her hands on the desk.  "I do not wish these two to be representative of the school, no matter how well they perform.  I do have a soluction, but it's going to take some work on your part."

Hiroko was all ears.  "I'll do whatever you want, Ma'am."

"What happens on school grounds is my concern.  While I have still have a responsibility to the reputation of the school, I have no control as to what happens off of school grounds.  Especially if something happens to one of my students.  More so if the cause of the student's...misfortune...did not come at the hands of another student.  Do you understand me, Akiyama-san?"

While it was true that Hiroko had -thought-of goading Pirika without Yukiko around, she never actually went through with it.  "It's not that simple, Ma'am.  She has learned to check her anger to a point"

"It's easier than you think, Akiyama-san.  All you have to do is give her a good enough reason.  I'm sure you can do that."

"Yes, Ma'am."  Hiroko couldn't believe her ears.

"Good.  Now, return to class, and don't say anything to anyone about this..  Pick up their files on your way out."

"Yes, Ma'am. Good afternoon."  Hiroko stood, bowed deeply, and turned to leave.

"Oh, and Akiyama-san?"

Hiroko stopped by the door.  "Yes, Ma'am?"

"Remember...any dog can be trained - you just have to know how.  And if the dog can't be trained, then it's the master who is at fault."

"I...I understand, Ma'am."  Hiroko picked up on the veiled threat, and exited the office feeling like she left her stomach behind.


"Are you okay, Yuki-pe?  You look a little pa--er, you look weak."  Pirika caught herself, but she still showed concern for her friend, who was starting to walk a bit sluggishly.

"I'm...I'm fine," Yukiko sighed.  "I guess all the stress is finally catching up with me.  And my head feels like monkeys are banging on it."

Pirika took the mental image in her head, laughed out loud, and then apologized.  "I'm sorry, Yuki-pe.  The thought of a horde of monkeys banging on someone's head is kinda funny."

"Unless it's your head they're banging on."  Yukiko let out a little giggle of her own.

"Don't worry, I have just the thing for you.  Turn in here."  The side street had a dead end, where a small house stood, and a wooded area beyond that.  As they approached the front door, Yukiko noted the two nameplates that adorned the side of the door.  One read "Fukurou", the other "Karasu".  She smiled at the orinthological significance.  "Owl and Crow, huh?"

Pirika grinned.  "Should I add one that says, 'Sheep'?"

Yukiko blushed at the reference to her own family name, and let Pirika enter the house before her.

"Irankarapte!"  Pirika's loud voice sounded like a jackhammer to Yukiko's head.  "Oh, sorry Yuki-pe.  Bad habit of mine."

The girls heard footsteps thumping up from the basement.  "What are you doing here so early, kumatkarku?  Got tired of that nasty school food?"  The woman's voice was gruff befitting her advanced age, yet caring and light-hearted.  She appeared in the foyer, a large knife in one hand.  "I tell you, there's nothing like a home-cooked--WHHAAAA!!!!"  Her ancient eyes caught sight of Yukiko, and she dropped the knife, missing her foot by inches.

"AHHHHHHHH!"  Yukiko jumped behind Pirika, wondering what the old woman was screaming about, but not wanting to see it herself.

"What am I going to do with you two?"  Pirika shook her head, walking over to the older woman and plucking the knife out of the floor.  "Kunarpe, why aren't you at the onsen?  Is it closed today?"

"Nevermind that!"  the woman shrieked.  "Toankur hunna an?  Who is that, Piri-matkarku?"  She was truly frightened of the pale vision in front of her.

When Yukiko realized it was she that startled the woman, she dropped her head and was about to leave, when Pirika caught her arm.  "I'm sorry, Yuki-pe.  She didn't mean that...she's never seen an albino before." Pirika turned to her aunt.  "Kunarpe, this is my friend, Yukiko Hitsuji.  We're in the same class at school." 

Before Pirika could introduce her aunt, the woman cautiously strode over and hesitantly poked the white-haired girl in the arm.  "Oh my!  She is real!  How unusual!"  Yukiko became flushed with embarrassment, and the woman smiled, stroking Yukiko's long hair.  "And she's very pretty, too!  Yukiko, right?  Well, my name is Sirno.  Sirno Kurasu.  I'm very pleased to meet you."  She bowed slightly, watching the young girl as she did.

"It's...It's an meet you, Kurasu-san."  Yukiko did her best to bow, but she was so weak she fell over and ended up on the floor.

"Yuki-pe!"  Pirika rushed to Yukiko's side, lifting her off the floor and putting her on a nearby futon.  "Please, Kunarpe, get a--"  Before Pirika could finish her sentence, Sirno was already gone.  She came back with a moist towel and a large bundle.

"Here, put this on her head, while I prepare the remedy for her."  She handed Pirika the towel, and took the bundle with her to another corner of the room.

The coolness of the towel roused Yukiko.  Her eyes opened to a colorful blur, which focused to become Pirika's worried face.  "Piri-chan," she cooed.  "I'm so sorry.  My's spinning..."

"Just relax, Yuki-pe.  My aunt is making something up for you.  Don't ask what it is, just drink it, and you'll feel better, okay?"

A question tried to form in Yukiko's mind, but the words wouldn't settle themselves.  She just nodded and took Pirika's hands in hers.  "I...I knew we said we'd take care of each other, Piri-chan...I didn't know it would be so soon!"

"Quiet, you.  You're not going to die."  Pirika kissed Yukiko's hands and held them.  "You're just over-exhausted.  You need some rest...oh, and some of this."  Pirika turned to take the drink from Sirno.  She looked at it questioningly, and Sirno nodded.  She then raised the drink and tried to administer it to Yukiko.

It was a white foaming concoction, hissing and bubbling in the earthen cup Pirika was holding.  Yukiko's caught the fresh but powdery smell of the brew, and was a bit hesitant to let it touch her lips.  A trusting smile from Pirika, and she took it in, letting the fizzing medicine into her mouth.  She tried to swallow it all in one gulp, but nearly choked on it.  Eventually she took it all in, and Pirika laid her head back down.

"Maybe I should have added some sake?" Sirno joked.

"Yeah," Pirika added.  "It would have done her more good than it does you!"

"Don't look at me like that!  It's part of the ritual!"  Sirno looked at Pirika, then at Yukiko.  "Her skin is so soft.  How do you know when she is okay?"

"I'll show you."  Pirika leaned over and gave Yukiko a gentle kiss on her cheek, and Yukiko's face gained color.

Sirno smiled warmly.  "Ah!  That's a good test!  One I'm sure you enjoy taking, huh, Yuki-pe?"

Yukiko laughed weakly, then noticed her head clearing.  "Wow...that stuff is amazing.  What it is?"

"Didn't I tell you not to ask?"  Pirika looked over at Sirno, but her aunt had already gone for the main source of Yukiko's relief.  Pirika groaned inwardly, "Here we go..."

Sirno gathered the bundle from the other side of the room, knelt down and placed it in Yukiko's lap.  She clapped three times over the bundle, mumbled incoherently for a moment, and then looked up to nothing in particular.

"You asked for it, Yuki-pe.  The floor show begins," Pirika said sarcastically.

"Let her be, Piri-chan.  Remember, I said I wanted to learn about you and your people, right?"  Yukiko's smile caught the attention of the praying old woman.

"Why thank you!  It's nice to see some people still have respect for their elders!" Sirno turned and stuck out her tounge at her niece.

"Go on already," Pirika said, returning the gesture.

Sure she now had Yukiko's full attention, Sirno began her tale.

"Many many years ago, a traveler came to have a dream.  In this dream, he came to our village and saw many people.  He saw that we were all happy and healthy, and not one among us were sick.  The traveler wondered, 'How is this possible?'  He then entered the house of one of our people, and saw that the head of an albatross was set in a place of honor, along with inao - carved wooden totems - and sake.  He saw a woman take shavings from the skull and beak of the great bird, and ferment them, and then offered the inao and sake to the spirit of the bird.  He then went into other houses and saw the same thing.  He said to himself, 'Ah!  So it is this that keeps these people so healthy!  Those of my kind must not enter into these houses!'.  The traveler then woke up.  Realizing what he had dreamed, he went into the home of the village chief and told him of the dream.  'If this is so, then we must do this.' the chief said.  And soon all of the houses in the village had done what the man told of, and no one in the village had been sick again.  The traveler had realized that he dreamed he was the Demon of death and disease, and thus knew what would keep him away from our village."  Sirno clapped three times over the bundle and bowed.

Yukiko sat upright and returned Sirno's bow.  "Thank you very much, Kurasu-san.  That was a very interesting tale."  She paused for a moment, then raised an eyebrow.  "Did I really drink albatross skull?"

Sirno began to unwrap her bundle, but Pirika took it.  "Take her word for it, Yuki-pe.  You really don't wanna see that.  The important thing is that it worked, right?"

"Right!"  Yukiko nodded, and rose from the futon.  "I'm sorry to have been so much trouble to you, Kurasu-san."

"We're friends, right?  So enough with the formalities.  Just call me Kunarpe.  It means 'aunt'."

Yukiko had a bit of trouble adjusting from Japanese to Ainu, but she managed, much to the delight of both Sirno and Pirika.  She still added the -chan honorific, and Sirno couldn't be happier.

"Do you still want to go to the place I was telling you about, Piri-chan?"

"Sure, Yuki-pe.  Let me change out of this uniform and I'll be right with you."  Pirika left the room, and Sirno sat with Yukiko on the futon.

"I've never seen her happier than this," the woman began.  "I know why, but it's not my place to say.  I felt the same way about her mother, you know."  Yukiko gave Sirno a questioning look.  "Oh, no child!  We're not sisters.  I'm not Pirika's real aunt.  Her mother and I used to be real close.  I was very much in love with her, but she was afraid to love me.  She met Pirika's father and they moved from Hokkaido to Tokyo, where they had Pirika.  They both had jobs that took them all over the world, so it was hard for them to raise Pirika.  Her mother decided to let me raise her, hoping I wouldn't mind. I was thrilled to get the chance; if I couldn't be her mother's lover, then I could at least be an important part of her life in another way."

Yukiko took in all of the events, and reached out to hug the older woman.  "I'm happy that Pirika ended up with you, Kunarpe-chan.  I'm sure her mother is very grateful to you, and I guess this is her way of showing her love for you."

"I still think it's a matter of convenience," Sirno said through the hug.  "But thank you very much for your kind words, Yuki-pe."

"Hey!  Hands off, Kunarpe!"

Sirno and Yukiko turned to see Pirika dressed in a brown linen version of the traditional attush top, black pants and soft leather shoes.  She still had her headband and wristbands, but a large pendant with the golden head of an owl swung from her neck.

"She cute, isn't she?" Sirno whispered to Yukiko.

"No...she's beautiful!"  Yukiko's blush could be seen across the room, and Pirika did a twirl to show herself off.  Then she came over and took Yukiko by the hand.  "Shall we go?"

"Y-yes!"  Yukiko had to find the volume in her voice after seeing Pirika. 

Sirno smiled and stuck out an arm.  "It was a pleasure to meet you, Yuki-pe.  I'm sure I'll be seeing more of you, right?"  Pirika gently took Sirno's arm and helped her off the futon.

"I'm sure of it!"  Yukiko was smiling so broadly Sirno couldn't help but smile back.  "Take good care of her, Piri-matkarku.  She's a very precious girl."

Pirika let go of her aunt, and took Yukiko's hand.  "I already know, Kunarpe.  Apunno oke yan!"

"Apunno paye yan!"  Sirno waved goodbye to the two girls, then sighed to herself.  "May all the gods smile down upon you both."


Hiroko sat under the tree where Pirika and Yukiko usually gathered.  She reached into her bag and pulled out the two file folders.  The first, marked "Hitsuji Yukiko", was dismissed without so much as a casual glance.  However the folder with the name "Fukurou Pirika" marked on the tab was of great interest to Hiroko.  She opened the folder and leafed through the pages.  She stopped when she reached the document that contained Pirika's family history.

"Tossed aside and left with a geezer, eh?  How sad for you, Inu," Hiroko smiled maliciously.  "How sad indeed!"

End of Chapter 3

[End notes: Hi again!  Thanks for reading!  This was actually the second part of Chapter 2, but I thought it best to break it up and expand the scene at Pirika's aunt's place.  The Ainu language used here is authentic, trust me.  Do a Google search for "Ainu Language" and the first page you'll hit is an excellent site on the language and uses (with sound bites!).

Thanks to those who have stayed on board, and more so to those who have reviewed.  If there are any comments or complaints, please don't be shy--leave a note, this panda won't bite (much!).

As for the "mild violence" warning--yeah, we're getting to that (shudder!).

Until next time..."So long, and thanks for all the fish!" ]

Chapter 4

Title: 4. Heaven and Hell

[Author's notes: The girls go on their first date, but Hiroko's waiting for them when they return home.  (WARNING: Violence, Mild Language)]

Disclaimer:  This story is a product of the twisted mind of one Don Johnson, better known as MadPanda...that would be me, by the way.  My idea, my story, my characters.  Okay?  Now, go read already!

(WARNING: The following chapter contains coarse language and scenes of violence.  Reader discretion is advised.)


"Choukuko's Dog" by MadPanda

Chapter 4 - "Heaven and Hell"

"Crazy old crow," Pirika muttered to herself.

"Come on, Piri-chan, she wasn't that bad."  Yukiko hailed a taxi and they both got in.  "In fact, I think she was very sweet."

"Yeah, but you don't have to live with her.  It's just one folk tale after another, or the dances, or that whole bit with the albatross head.  It gets annoying after awhile."  Pirika looked out of the window as the city moved past them.

"Piri-chan!" said Yukiko in mild shock.  "Here you are looking for information about the Ainu, and there's a living, breathing database in your own home!"

"It's not the same, Yuki-pe,' Pirika sighed.  "I want documented proof, not ancient animal fables.  I want dates, names, places..."

Yukiko leaned against Pirika's shoulder, and took her hand.  "Piri-chan, history is a lot more than sheer statistics, especially in your case, where there isn't a lot of written material.  Your history is passed down from generation to generation, and eventually those who can write it and decipher the true meanings of stories will do so and put it to paper.  I'm sure she can remember some people or places, or knows people who can.  You just have to ask."  She freed Pirika's hand and snuggled closer.  "She wants to teach you, Piri-chan.  Let her do that."

Pirika enjoyed the feel of Yukiko next to her.  She liked it so much, she wrapped an arm around the white-haired girl's shoulder, holding her close.  "I guess you're right, Yuki-pe.  Maybe I just take her for granted.  Or maybe it's a bit of resentment, being it's her taking care of me and not my parents."

"Yeah, she told me about that," Yukiko said calmly.  "She cares deeply for you, Piri-chan, just as she did for your mother.  I know you love her too, but she needs more than that.  Listen to her, Piri-chan.  She has much to say, and not a lot of time to say it."

"You sure you weren't an elder in your previous life, Yuki-pe?"  Pirika laughed.

"Could be!  I just don't want you to have any regrets about her if something ever happened to her."

"Okay, Yuki-pe, I'll be a good girl and pay more attention."  Pirika gave Yukiko's shoulder a squeeze as the taxi slowed to a stop in front of an impressive apartment building.

Yukiko paid the driver and sent him on his way.  "Here we are!"

Pirika looked up at the tall building, at Yukiko, and then back at the building.  "You're kidding, right?"


Hiroko had gotten as much information from the folders as she was going to need.  She picked up the scattered documents, placed them back in their respective folders, and put the folders back in her bag.

"I wonder if he's home...or out with that stupid rat pack of his."  She flipped open her cell phone and scrolled through the entries.  She found the one she wanted, and made the call.

"Hey!  Hiroko!  How ya been baby!"  The voice on the other end was laid-back and lazy.

"Yeah, like you really care, Kyousuke!"  Hiroko disliked the rough boy, but he had his uses, and he was easily manipulated.

"Aw, come on!  Don't be like that!  Don't tell me you're still mad about the pool thing?  We were just havin' some fun with you!"

Hiroko didn't want to be reminded of the incident.  The two of them and a couple of his friends broke in the school's pool center late one night, when the outing somehow turned into a near gang-rape.  To this day, she won't go near a pool.  She hated him for that, but she found a way to deal with it: by taking advantage of his brutishness and stupidity.  He would do anything to make up for what happened, and Hiroko was going to take full advantage of that.

"Just shut up, Kyousuke!" she yelled into the phone, before taking a moment to calm herself down.  "I need you to do a favor for me."

"Is it like the last 'favor'?  That was fun!  That pale little bitch was screamin' like a monkey!  If it wasn't for--"

"Yeah, yeah...something like that."  Hiroko knew he'd go on bragging forever, and thought it best to cut him off.  "She's got a friend now, and they've both become a pain in the ass."

"A friend, huh?  A -girl-friend?  Hey, maybe we can watch them make out before we rough 'em up!  Or better yet, force them to--"

"SHUT UP!"  Hiroko was about to slam the phone into the ground, but checked her temper.  "Damn it, you stupid perv!  Just shut up and listen!  I'll give you an address, and I want you to go there and wait for her.  When she shows up, give her the same treatment you did Choukuko, okay?"

"What does she look like?  Is she at least hot?"  Giggling could be heard on the other end.

"If you're into dogs, maybe!"  She retrieved Pirika's file from her bag, took out the picture and took a photo of it with the phone's camera.  She then sent the picture to Kyousuke.

"Well, she's do-able," he said half-heartedly.  "What'd she do to piss you off so much?"

"That's not important.  What is is that you take that bitch out.  You hear me?  I want that dog so scared of me, her ancestors will be crying for help!"

"Should be fun!  Alright, so when do you want it done?"

Hiroko gave him all the details.  "Make sure she's home when you do it.  She lives with some old bat, so you won't have a problem."

"Whatever, as long as we get some fun out of it!"  Kyousuke's twisted laugh made Hiroko cringe.  "See ya later, baby?"

Hiroko snapped the phone shut without a response.


Pirika sat nervously in the spacious living room of the Hitsuji apartment...........  'Yuki-pe's family has great taste,' she thought to herself.  The brass-and-glass tables and cabinets; the plush sofa and loveseat; even the deep carpeting told her the Hitsujis weren't exactly your typical working-class citizens.

She was distracted by Yukiko's voice calling from another room.  "How do you like it?"

"It's beautiful!"  Pirika's eyes landed on a set of crystal harlequins, their colors dancing in the light.  "Some of the stuff you got here must've set your parents back quite a bit."

"You could say that.  Mom's an art dealer, so she gets some of the stuff you see as bonuses for her work.  My father's a vice-president of a big car company.  They do make a lot, but they're the material type."

"I see...and yet, they send you to a public high school.  That's just wrong!"  Pirika turned and walked over to the window, which took up an entire wall and led to a balcony.

"Just goes to show how much they think I'm worth, huh?" Pirika heard the sourness of Yukiko's tone, and shook her head.  'If they only knew what they have in her,' she thought, cursing Yukiko's parents' ignorance.

The city's harbor spread out before her, and the sun setting in the bay made the whole scene look like a postcard.  "Wow!  You've even got a lovely view!  The only place better than this would be on a movie set."  She didn't think she'd see anything more beautiful, until she turned and saw Yukiko.

Pirika took a breath, and scanned every inch of the angel before her.  From the deep red sling-back shoes, to the knee-high dress that started out red, but faded in gradients to a strawberry pink.  Yukiko's white hair was done up in a twin pony-tail style, with pink ribbons keeping her hair in place.  Pirika was most surprised at how the dress gave Yukiko slight curves more definition than she thought possible.  Even Yukiko's face, near-featureless save for her glasses--had hints of make-up, with pink the dominant color....  The whole image made Yukiko look like a porcelain doll.

The sunset over the bay was soon forgotten, as was just about everything else in Pirika's mind at that moment.

"Is everything okay?"  Yukiko tilted her head to the side, and that added just the right amount of cuteness.

"'re..."  Pirika stammered.

"Too much?  Maybe I should change."  Yukiko turned on her heels, but was stopped by Pirika 's sudden outburst.

"NO!--I mean,'re beautiful just as you are.  I'm sorry,'s just, I'm not used to seeing you like this.  It's amazing!"

Yukiko smiled brightly.  "I'll take that as a compliment!  Now, we'd better hurry, or we're gonna miss the show!"

Pirika was still dazed.  "Right...wait a minute - a show?  Didn't you say we were going to eat?"

"Yes," Yukiko nodded.  "It's a cafe, but they also have a great floor show at dinner.  I'll leave a note here and we can go."  She took out a pad and pen and scrawled a note, leaving it on the living room table.

As the two began to walk out of the apartment, Yukiko stopped and held Pirika's hand.  "Before we go, I want to get something out of the way first...........  Actually, I don't believe I'm going to ask this of you, but I want to enjoy this night, and I don't want to spend it worrying about something as silly as this."  She was rambling now, and the color in her face was starting to match the gradients in her dress.

"What is it, Yuki-pe?  You can ask me anything."  Pirika turned to face Yukiko, and saw a look in her eyes she had never seen before--a look of pure desire.

"Well...I was, er, I was wondering..."  Yukiko lowered her head, and started fidgeting with her hands.  She was beginning to lose her nerve.   "Wondering what it would be like if you, if you could..."

"'If I could' what?"

Yukiko took a deep breath and raised her head, her eyes looking straight into Pirika's.  "If you would kiss me."

Pirika looked down at the expectant young woman in front of her, and took her in her arms.  "Let's find out."  Her lips pressed against Yukiko's, and the smaller girl could've died happy never taking another breath.  Her body had other ideas, and forced her to break the kiss and exhale.

Yukiko was so lost in her bliss that she almost didn't hear Pirika calling her name.  "Yuki-pe!  Are you...are you alright?"  Pirika watched as Yukiko eyes dreamily opened, and tears came out.  "Did I do something wrong?"

"Oh no, silly..." Yukiko said, her voice barely above a whisper.  "Your kiss's so...." She threw her arms around Pirika's neck and kissed her deeply.  Pirika returned the kiss with full fervor, and the two almost drowned in their passion.

"Grrrrrrwwwllll!"  The sound came from somewhere between the two girls.

"I..I think my stomach has other plans, Yuki-pe!"  Pirika blushed, and the girls laughed.

Yukiko sighed as she leaned into Pirika's body.

"Thank you, Piri-chan."

"Anytime, Yuki-pe, anytime at all."  Pirika leaned down and gave Yukiko a soft kiss, and they headed out into the night.


Patience wasn't Hiroko's strong suit, so when three hours passed with no word from Kyousuke, she called him back.  She snapped at him as soon as the connection was made.  "What the hell is taking you so long?"

"Hiroko!  Hey, I was just about to call you!  You know, that girl never showed!  I don't know what happened, but we've been watching her house all night, and she ain't been here yet!"

"WHAT?"  Hiroko's shriek caught Kyousuke by surprise.  "What do you mean she hasn't been back yet?"

"It's just like I said, baby," the guy said.  "We were all ready to do a number on her, but she's still not here.  You want us to get the old lady instead?"

Hiroko had that thought in mind as soon as she saw Pirika's folder, but fought against it.  'It would've been better to take out that stupid dog instead, but now she's forced my hand.'  She yelled into the phone, "Just wait until I tell you to, alright?"

Kyousuke was starting to get antsy.  "We're bored and hungry, Hiroko.  Pretty soon we're gonna clear outta here, ya know?"

"Don't worry...I'll make it worth your while, trust me."  Hiroko had no intention of doing anything for Kyousuke, and she didn't care.  "Just wait, dammit!  It won't be long."  She snapped the phone shut, and sat on a nearby bench.  She was in a small park, which had a good view of Yukiko's apartment.  "If I can't get the dog, at least I can get her master.  And if they're together, then hell, all the better for me!"  She stretched her legs out and waited, knowing Yukiko had to come home sooner or later.


"That was fun!"  Pirika's voice was light and full of laughter.

"Told you so," said Yukiko happily.  "Like I said, it's my favorite place........  I hope you'll come there with me more often."

Pirika extended an arm so Yukiko could wrap herself in it.  "You can count on it!  Although...I won't have to dress up next time, do I?"

"Of course not, Piri-chan!  Sure, it's a cosplay cafe, and a lot of the patrons do it, but as you saw, it isn't required."

"And singing is?"  Pirika was happy to be taller than Yukiko, so the shorter girl couldn't see the embarrassed look she wore.

"You were wonderful!  They just wanted to make you feel at home...and I'd say it worked."  Yukiko smiled and held Pirika's arm tighter.

"Nah, I just think they wanted to see who the competition was.  I mean, you're so popular there!  How did that happen?"

"It just did.  I walked in the door one day and one of the waitresses started hitting on me.  When I turned her down, they all started. It was quite embarrassing.  I don't know why they do it."

Pirika stopped their pace and turned her face to Yukiko.  "I do.  They do it because you're beautiful.  And in that place, where people can be anything they want, they don't have to worry about hiding their emotions...they can play out their fantasies, and see what happens.  Luckily for me, I don't have to fantasize...I have the real thing right here."

Yukiko was about to thank her new girlfriend for her compliment with a kiss, when she felt a sharp tug on one of her ponytails.  She turned around, and was harshly slapped to the ground, her glasses flying off into the front of the apartment building.

Hiroko ignored the sprawling girl and glared menacingly at Pirika.  "Bad dog!"  She shook her finger scoldingly.  "You didn't show up for your reprimand, Inu!  You and Choukuko here thought you cou--"  Her sentence was cut off by Pirika's fist hitting her square in the mouth.  Hiroko staggered back and leaned against a parked car, spitting blood from her mouth.  "As I was saying, you thought you could just blow off the principal--Hey!  Look at me when I'm talking to you!"

Pirika had already ran to Yukiko's aid, helping the shocked girl off of the ground and on her feet.  She made sure Yukiko could stand on her own, then turned her attention towards Hiroko.  "One more word out of you and I'm gonna rip out your tongue!"

"Hmph!" Hiroko wiped the blood from her lips with her arm, then strode defiantly towards the two girls.  "You're not paying attention," she said smugly.  "I've come to train you, like I did your master!"

Pirika charged at Hiroko, but the tomboy dodged her.  As she passed, Hiroko stuck out her foot, tripping Pirika and sending her skidding on the sidewalk.

"Piri-chan!"  Yukiko wanted to run to help Pirika, but that meant going through Hiroko.  She ran to get her glasses, calling out to her friend.  "I'll get some help!"

"You'll do no such thing, Choukuko!"  Hiroko grabbed Yukiko by one of he ponytails, and then by her neck.  She dragged the helpless girl over to her dazed companion, and threw her to the ground beside Pirika.

"Akiyama-san!" Yukiko cried out.  "What have we done to you!  Why are you attacking us like this?"

"You've embarrassed me, that's what you've done!!  I tolerated you just being in my class, and I even let you keep your pet.  But when you both got out of hand, and even had the gall to blow off the principal, well, that makes me look bad!"

Hiroko's rant gave Pirika time to gather her senses.  "Blame your parents for that, bitch!  The fact that you're an ugly whore has nothing to do with us!"

"Like I said, you're not paying attention!"  Hiroko went to kick at Yukiko, but Pirika grabbed her leg, twisting it outward and pushing against Hiroko, sending the girl to the ground.

"Are you alright, Yuki-pe?" The two girls helped each other off the ground this time.

"My face hurts, and I think I'm bleeding down there..."  Yukiko pointed at her right knee which had a pretty nasty scrape on it.  "How about you?"

"Not nearly as bad as she's gonna be!"  Pirika nodded to the still-prone Hiroko.  "Go upstairs, and take care of that.  I'll deal with her."

"But Piri-chan, I--"

"No 'buts', Yuki-pe!  I can't watch you and fight her at the same time!  And you certainly can't fight her.  So let me protect you - go upstairs!"  Pirika saw Hiroko rise to her feet, shaking the pain out of her head.  "Go up, now, Yuki-pe!  NOW!!"

Yukiko hesitated for a moment, then kissed Pirika on the cheek and ran for the door.  Hiroko went after her, but Pirika cut her off.

"Well, well!"  Hiroko sing-songed.  "Looks like you two are a lot closer than I would've imagined.  Seems that whole bestiality joke wasn't so far off, was it Inu?"

Pirika charged Hiroko again, this time making sure to get the tomboy before she dodged.  She grabbed the girl by the front of her blouse and slammed her against a car, setting off the alarm.

"Now look what you've done, Inu!  You've drawn a crowd!"  Sure enough, quite a few people had gathered to watch the fight, much to Hiroko's delight.

"What are you talking about, you stupid bitch!  You started this...and I'm gonna finish it!"  She punched the class rep in the jaw and watched as she slid off the side of the car onto the sidewalk.  Hiroko opened her mouth to make another smug remark, but Pirika was on her like white on rice, smacking and punching for all she was worth.

A couple of men emerged from the crowd and pulled Pirika off of the other girl.  "Stop it!", one of the men yelled as he pulled Pirika by the waist.  The other jumped in between the two girls.  "Yeah, you'll kill her if you keep that up!  You don't want to do that!"

"You wanna bet?", Pirika yelled, trying in vain to free herself.  "Let me go!!  You don't know what she's done!  I have to stop her here and now!"

A very bloody Hiroko struggled mightily to get to her feet.  "Oh, Inu...haven't you learned anything in class?  It's not what I've done, it's what I'm going to do!"  She reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell phone.

"What are you talking about, Akiyama?  You've already attacked Yuki-pe!  What more do you want?"  Pirika continued to struggle against the two men, but they wouldn't let go.

Hiroko pushed a couple buttons on the phone, and waited for the connection.  "What do I want?  To make you obey, Inu!  To keep you in line!  And if I can't do that, to be rid of both you and your cursed bitch!"

"Leave her out of this!  This is between me and you, and you can't take me!"

"Oh, but I don't have to!  I know what hurts you, Inu...I know about how your mother gave up on you, tossed you aside like the garbage you are!"

"Stop it, Akiyama, or so help me I'll--"

"You'll what, Inu?  Kill me?  Oh no, I'm far from done!  I know about that crazy old lady you're living with!  I can hurt you, Inu, without lifting a finger against you...and you can't do shit about it!"  Hiroko heard Kyousuke's voice on the phone, but paid no attention to what he said.  "DO IT!  DO IT NOW!" she screamed into the receiver and then snapped it shut....

Pirika's eyes grew wide with recognition with what Hiroko had done.  "I'LL KILL YOU!"  She thrashed herself free from her restrainers and lunged at Hiroko, the two of them tumbling to the ground.  Hiroko's sick laughter only managed to further enrage Pirika.  So deep was Pirika in her lust to wipe Hiroko from the face of the earth, she didn't hear the police sirens approaching, nor did she feel the officers tackle her, pulling her off the now-unconscious Hiroko.  She didn't feel the handcuffs they snapped on her as they dragged her away.  All she wanted was to make Hiroko pay for what she had done.


Yukiko ran into her apartment building and waited for the elevator to take her home.  She felt the blood on her cheek, and cried. She cried even harder when she realized the position she was in.  'I'm so helpless!  I could've at least tried to help you fight her, Piri-chan!'  She tried to reassure herself with the fact that Hiroko could never beat Pirika in a fair fight, but Hiroko didn't play fair, and that thought almost took Yukiko's breath away...literally.

The elevator arrived, and Yukiko entered it, gasping for air.  She had begun to panic, triggering her asthma.  She tried desperately to get herself to calm down, but images of Pirika and Hiroko fighting kept her in a panic state.  The elevator finally arrived at her floor, and she walked along the wall to get to her apartment.  In no state to fish out her keys, she rang the doorbell.

Yukiko's mother was all prepared to give her daughter a sermon about being out so late, but the thought died on her lips when she saw Yukiko clutching at her chest.

"Souichi!!  Get the nebulizer!  Hurry!!"  Akiko screamed at her husband, who moved with the haste of a slug.  She led Yukiko to her room, and helped the girl onto her bed.  "Just wait here a minute, I'll be right back!"  Akiko disappeared, and Yukiko heard her screaming at her husband. 

'This isn't the time, Mom!', she said to herself.

Akiko returned with the small battery-powered air pump.  She poured a small vial of albuterol into the receptacle, attached it to the hose, and then attached the mask which she then put over Yukiko's mouth and nose.  While her daughter took in the medication, Akiko took a damp cloth and wiped the blood off of her cheek and her knee.  "What the hell happened to you?"

"" Yukiko managed to get out, muffled by the mask.

Akiko knew of her daughter's troubles with the class rep.  "Oh, Yuki-chan......what did you do this time?"

Yukiko wanted to scream at her mother's ignorance, but then another thought came to her--"Pi...ri...chan!"  Her mother stared blankly at her, so Yukiko removed the mask.  "Piri-chan!  She's fighting (cough-cough) Hiroko downstairs!"

"Who is 'Piri-chan'?  And why is Hiroko fighting with her?"

"Please, Mom, call the police!"  Yukiko's frightened expression worried Akiko, but she still wanted an explanation before getting involved.  "Mom, Pirika is my friend (cough!).  She stopped Hiroko from attacking me...and now she might (cough) be in trouble!"

Her mother was satisfied.  "Fine.  I'll call the police, but you have to rest here!  Take the whole treatment, and stay in bed!!"  She went off to make the call.

Yukiko tried to lift her head, but it was still spinning, so she let herself fall back onto the bed.  "I have to help somehow..."  A terrible thought crossed her mind.  She remembered the time Hiroko's friends had attacked her, and threatened to get to her family.  Then she thought about Pirika's aunt Sirno, and how she was unaware of what was going on.

'Oh no!  I don't have her number!  I don't know if she even has a phone!'  She reached for her cell phone and called the police, telling them Sirno might be in danger.  She was shocked when the operator told her a car was already on the way there, as someone else had made a complaint.  She thanked the operator, closed the phone, and returned the mask to her mouth...  She tried to breathe in the relaxing mist, but her crying made that difficult.

'All this is my fault!', she thought to herself.  'If I had never gotten involved with Pirika, never gotten her mixed up with Hiroko, this would never had happened.  But what can I do now?  How can I help them?"

End of Chapter 4

[End notes:

Hello again!  Thanks for reading this far the hardest for me to write.  I don't like violence, and have a hard time writing it.  This had been brewing for quite awile, so it had to come sooner or later.  What surprised me is the way Hiroko's bitchy-ness (is that a word?) is coming out.  Trust me, I'm writing this on the fly, and it sometimes scares me what comes out of my brain.

Anyway, for those who have followed along (especially brave_quill and spikesagitta) thank you very much for your support.  As always, feeding the panda isn't mandatory, but it's strongly encouraged!  Oh, flames and criticisms are welcome as well--I'm a tough panda, I can take it!!

Until next week...."So long, and thanks for all the fish!"


Chapter 5

Title: 5. Cause and Effect

[Author's notes: In this, the final chapter, the girls get help from an unexpected source--one who sheds light on Hiroko's troubled past.]

Disclaimer:  "Same as it ever was..."

Okay, one more time: I solemnly swear that this is my own original story.  It's my story, my whole story, and nothing but my story (except for one line which I'll get to in the End Notes). Now, on to the finale!


"Choukuko's Dog" -- by MadPanda

Final Chapter -- "Cause and Effect"

The doorbell to the Hitsuji apartment rang, distracting Yukiko from worrying about Pirika and her aunt.  A couple moments later, her mother led a well-dressed, middle-aged man into the room.  "I'm sorry to bother you, Yuki-chan, but this officer wants to ask you some questions."  Akiko turned to the cop.  "Please don't excite her too much, she's not doing too well."

"I can see that - I think it would be best if we did this on the way to the hospital."  The young man turned to Yukiko and smiled.  "Hello, I'm Detective Hikarigawa.  I guess it's safe to say you were involved in the fight downstairs, huh?"

Yukiko removed the nebulizer mask and nodded to the detective.

"Good.  Now, I need to ask you some questions, and you need medical treatment for your wounds...and your asthma.  I can get you checked out, and you can answer my questions on the way."  He was a kind person, not the least bit forceful.  Yukiko agreed despite her mother's protests, and they soon left the apartment.

"Excuse me, Detective," Yukiko asked.  "Where is Piri-chan?  Is she okay?  And her aunt?"

"Slow down, kid," the man smiled.  "If you mean Fukurou-san, she's in a squad car cooling off.  We're gonna have to bring her in for questioning as well."  Hikarigawa noted the sigh of relief the young girl gave, as well as the worry on her brow.  "Her aunt...her name wouldn't be Kurasu, would it?"

"Yes!  I called and asked to check on her.  Is she okay?"  The anxiety returned, but the detective tried to calm Yukiko as best he can. 

"Well, we got a call from her as well, something about prowlers.  I was surprised to see her address matched the one found on Fukurou-san..   I should be hearing some news from that one when we get to the scene, okay?"

"Thank you very much, sir!"  Yukiko bowed and leaned against the elevator wall.

"We've been trying to get your friend to talk to us about what happened, but she's been a bit incoherent.  Maybe you can help?"

"I'll do my best, Detective."  Yukiko bowed to the man and followed him into the elevator.


Two uniformed officers had just finished taking statements from the onlookers, when one took a good look at Pirika.  "Hey, did you see how she was dressed?"

The second cop looked in Pirika's direction.  " know what that means, right?  Kuma-san's gonna be down here in a heartbeat!"

"Aw, man!  That won't be good!  The BBCU will find some way to get her off!"  The first cop shuddered as a brown sedan pulled into the crime scene........  "Speak of the devil!"

Out of the car lumbered a large man in a dark brown suit and matching fedora.  His thick, coarse beard and hairy hands gave him a somewhat fearsome appearance.  His badge read Akinori Hatasa, chief of the Bukumin Bias Crimes Unit, but most everyone called him Kuma-san - "Bear".

"So, what's the deal this time?" His voice wasn't meant for anyone in particular; he just waited for someone to answer him.  The two uniformed cops got him up to speed on things, and he went over to take a look at the young girl who was scraped off the ground and placed on a gurney.  He then looked at Pirika, and returned his gaze to Hiroko.  "She did this by herself?  Man, I wouldn't want to piss her off!"  He then made his way over to the squad car.


"Oh shit, it's Kuma-san!"  Hikarigawa groaned when he saw Hatasa.  "Then again, this might work out better for you, Hitsuji-chan."

Yukiko looked at the man's odd expression.  "What are you talking about?"

"You'll see," he said.


Pirika knew she was sitting somewhere, but it looked to her like she was in a movie theatre watching a crime drama.  The flashing lights, the crime tape, the officers questioning the crowd...and the ambulance.  She didn't see any recognizable actors, and also thought how strange it was that the movie seemed to be 360 degrees around her.  'No, this is real...what happened here?'  She tried to turn to get a better look, but found herself restrained to the back seat of the car, and in handcuffs.  Her brown attush top was stained with blood, and parts of her body had pain, but she couldn't remember why. The realization started to dawn on her as she saw the paramedics lift a gurney into the ambulance.  'Yuki-pe?  No...she was upstairs...I told her to go upstairs.  So that must be...oh kamuy kami!  What did I do??'

The detective led Yukiko to the squad car where Pirika sat looking quite bewildered.  "Piri-chan!!"  Yukiko knocked on the window, trying to get her friend's attention.

'Yuki-pe?  What is she doing down here?'  Pirika's eyes grew wide at the sight of her girlfriend, and tried to call out to her.

"Please, sir!  Can I sit and talk with her?"

Hikarigawa opened the door for Yukiko.  "Get in.  You talk to her while I talk to the big guy here," he gestured to Hatasa.  Yukiko thanked the man with a bow, and hurried inside.

"Yu...Yuki-pe?"  Pirika's voice returned when she felt the arms of her white-haired angel wrap around her.  "What...what have I done?  Did I...did I...?"  She began to cry openly into her girlfriend's shoulder.

Yukiko rocked her, kissing her on the cheek.  "No, Piri-chan.  She's not she, Detective?"

"Close enough," the officer deadpanned.  "Her face was smashed in, and she's probably got more than a few broken ribs.  Your friend there is a hell of a fighter."  He then continued his conversation with the larger man.

"She has to be," replied Yukiko.  "She was protecting the people she loves."  She felt Pirika nod and she smiled.

Hatasa gave the albino girl the once over, and grinned.  "Three for the price of one.  How convenient!", he said to the Detective. "About that.  Witnesses say she had actually started the fight with you, Hitsuji-chan.  Is that so?"

"Yes, sir," Yukiko replied.  She let go of Pirika so she could turn and face Hatasa.  She still kept one arm around Pirika, holding her close.  "You see, Akiyama-san is our class representative, but she is also a bully.  She disliked me for quite a while, and when Piri-chan and I became friends, she threatened us both even more."

"Did you say Akiyama?  That wouldn't be Hiroko Akiyama by any chance?"  Hatasa's face beamed when both girls nodded.  "I didn't recognize her, with her face smashed in and all.  Well, that explains a few things.  Hikarigawa, take them to the hospital.  I'll catch up with you in a bit.  I have to check out something.  Take care, Hitsuji-chan!"  He then bent over to get a better look at Pirika.  "Apunno oke yan, Fukurou-pe!"  The man waved one of his large hands in their direction, then trudged back to his car.

Yukiko's mouth hung open.  "Piri-chan...did he just...?"

"Yes he did, Yuki-pe...yes he did!"  Pirika smiled as she watched the sedan pull away.

Hikarigawa moved to the driver's seat of the car.  "Ladies, I think you've just earned yourselves a 'get out of jail free' card'."  He ignored the questioning looks the girls gave him, and drove them towards the hospital.


The triage nurse tried to be as gentle as possible.  "Please hold still," she implored while trying to clean Pirika's bloodied hands.  The peroxide-soaked gauze pads hissed and stung as they touched her broken skin.  "It looks like you put up a good fight.  I hope you got him good."

"It was a 'she'," Pirika snorted, oblivious of the surprised look the nurse gave her.  "And yeah, the bitch got what she deserved."

"Piri-chan!  Don't let the police hear you say that!"  Yukiko gestured to the waiting room.  "Right now, it's self-defense.  But who know how they'll turn things around, especially considering you're..."

"Yeah, I know," Pirika interrupted.  "But she did.  For what she did to you...for what she tried to do to Kunarpe...heck, I'm sure we're not the only ones would like to have taken her head off."

"You'd be surprised how many!"  A loud voice entered the conversation, followed by its owner.  The large man bowed to the nurse.  "Please excuse us, ma'am.  Police business."  The nurse obliged, bowing first to the man and then to the two girls.  Hatasa flashed his badge.  "I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself earlier to you.  Akinori Hatasa, Bukumin Bias Crimes Unit.  I'm sure you can guess why I'm here, ne?"

Yukiko gave the man a curious look.  "Bukumin?  But we're not--"

"You are," Hatasa replied, holding one of Yukiko's snow-white pigtails in his paw of a hand.  "You're different, and that puts you below everyone else.  Higher on the social ladder than Fukurou-pe here, but still lower than the rest.  And that puts you at risk.  But then, you don't need me to tell you that, do you?"

Both girls blushed.  Pirika tried to sort things out.  "So your unit investigates crimes that involve..."

"The outsiders, the untouchables, the foreigners, those who the rest of society deems to be 'impure' or 'unnatural'.  That's why I'm here!"  Hatasa ended his speech with a flourish.

Pirika just ignored the grand display.  "You must love your job, being that you're one of the very 'impure' people you defend, right Hatasa-san?"

Hatasa stared off into the distance.  "Consider it my way of 'protecting the village'."  He then turned his gaze to Pirika.  "It's not a desirable job, Fukurou-pe, but a necessary one.  Otherwise, folks like us would be tossed in the can for breathing the same air."

Yukiko watched the man's antics warily.  "So, what will happen to us now, Hatasa-san?"

"Funny you should ask.  Given this was more self-defense than anything else, and the fact that Akiyama has...shall we say, a 'history'...neither of you should be officially charged with a crime."

Yukiko left her seat and ran to hug her relieved friend.  "Isn't that great!"

"Not so fast, Hitsuji-san," Hatasa warned.  "I said 'should'.  You both will still be questioned, as will your aunt, Fukurou-pe.  Between her incident and yours, I'm sure there is enough evidence to indict Akiyama on charges ranging from aggravated assault to conspiracy.  Hell, if I dig far enough, I can get some of her old menacing charges brought into play."

"You sure are full of yourself, Hatasa-san!"  Pirika wasn't crazy about the big guy's boastfulness.

"Call me 'Kuma'...everyone else does!"  Hatasa stepped closer to Pirika.  "Look, Fukurou-pe.  I know you're probably thinking, 'He's just the police dog sent to keep the other dogs in line'...but I'm not.  I'm really here to help.  If my grandiose attitude puts you off, I'm sorry.  It's part of what got me here.  As the saying goes, "To be important, you have to act important'.  I do my job, and the show I put on gives people the impression that I do my job well...which I do.  It's working for you as we speak, Fukurou-pe, so don't knock it."

Pirika thought about what Hatasa had said, and gave him an understanding nod.  She then moved on to something else.  "You said Hiroko had a 'history'.  What did you mean by that?"

A cell phone rang in the man's long coat.  He took it out, read the message, and then snapped the phone closed.  "I'll tell you both when we get to the station.  If you're both done here, we'll be off.  Don't want to keep your aunt waiting, do we Fukurou-pe?"  Hatasa left the room, calling for the nurse to finish her job.


Sirno sat nervously muttering to herself.  The thought of some prowlers trying to break in to her home was scary enough; finding out they were actually sent to attack her niece and her friend, wall, that was almost too much.  She was relieved to see Yukiko leave one of the interrogation rooms.  "Yuki-pe!"  She threw her arms around the small girl.  "Where's Pirika?"

Yukiko returned the hug.  "I'm so happy to see you're okay!  Piri-chan's in one of the other interrogation rooms."

Sirno's happy look turned into a worrisome one.  "Is this about the Akiyama girl?  Will she get in any trouble?"

"I don't think so, Kunarpe-chan."  Yukiko led the older woman to a chair, and sat with her.  ", I mean Chief Hatasa said he will be here soon to sort things out for us."

The two of them compared notes about each other's events.  After awhile, Hatasa came towards them carrying a large folder.  "Hey, you two!  You might want to come in here for this!"  He beckoned for them to follow him.  Yukiko helped Sirno out of her seat, and they followed Hatasa into the interrogation room.

Pirika nearly jumped out of her seat upon seeing Sirno's happy face.  "Could you please remove these handcuffs, Kuma-san?"  Her request was granted, and Pirika gave her aunt a big hug.

"Okay, enough with the reunion.  It's story time.  Please, have a seat."  Hatasa sat across from the three women, and opened up the folder, laying it on the table.  "So," he began.  "Akiyama Hiroko caught my attention about the time you were attacked by her and her goons, Hitsuji-chan.  Even though you got your parents to drop the charges, I looked into the case anyway, as well as her background..."


If there was such a thing as a model child, Hiroko Akiyama was it.  She was pretty, smart, popular, and obedient--a far cry from the girl she is now.  Her parents had a pretty good marriage, and they both worked, but not so much as to ignore their daughter.  In fact, they spoiled her rotten, making sure she was never without.

When she was ten years old, her parents decided to move to a luxury apartment.  The building manager performed a background check on their family histories.  This used to be standard practice in the country; it ensured that pure Japanese would marry each other, get better jobs, and be allowed to live in better housing.  Those who weren't pure Japanese (or were below a certain class)tried to find ways to keep their true backgrounds hidden as much as they can.  Even if your great-grandfather was one of the "undesirables",  it was a black mark on your current family.  Unfortunately Hiroko's mother Hatoko was found to be of mixed blood.  Her maternal grandmother was Korean--a fact that was kept from her.

When informed of this bit of news (and the subsequent rejection of the apartment), Hiroko's father Junichi immediately divorced Hatoko and disowned Hiroko, leaving them both penniless and on the streets.  Hatoko tried committing suicide a number of times, but ended up in an psychiatric ward.  Hiroko became a ward of the state, subsisting on welfare and living in a poorly-run orphanage.

Hiroko loved her parents dearly, so to have her father just abandon her and her mother try to kill herself was too much for her to understand.  To her, she was Japanese, and they were Japanese, so it didn't make sense for all of this to happen.

The orphanage had records of all kinds of incidents involving Hiroko, ranging from property damage, to fights, to her own suicide attempt.  Through counseling, Hiroko's physical rages and emotional outbursts were cut to a minimum, but as the years dragged on, Hiroko began to gain an understanding for why her father had left her mother.  It was her mother's fault--she was impure, and so it was right for him to leave her.  However, she still saw herself as pure Japanese, and agonized as to why her father never returned for her.  She had made up her mind then to hate all those who were like her mother--who were "impure".

Hiroko eventually moved into a hostel, caring for herself and continuing to go to school.  She wanted to prove to her father, should she ever see him again, that she was indeed Japanese.  That she was strong, smart, and always did her best.  Along the way, she would fight constantly, especially with foreigners or those who were even the least bit "different".  She has gained a fearsome reputation, both in school and out.  So much so that there were police incidents where she always seemed to be involved, but no charges ever brought against her.


Yukiko sank in her chair upon hearing that part of the story.  She herself had been one of Hiroko's targets, and while she had been badly beaten, she begged her mother not for file a complaint, for fear that Hiroko would retaliate.

Pirika noticed Yukiko's sad demeanor and gave her a hug.  "It's alright, Yuki-pe.  I probably would've done the same thing if I were in your position."

"Thankfully, you're not!"  Sino chimed in.  She looked across the table to Chief Hatasa, the irony of the situation not lost on her.  "Does she still not realize what she is, Kuma-san?"

Hatasa gathered his papers and gave the folder to Det. Hikarigawa.  "Nope...  Her mind has conveniently blocked that little tidbit out.  I'm sure her lawyers will claim some kind of insanity plea, or emotional duress, or some other such crap.  But the girl's a psychopath.  Plain and simple.  She's gonna kill someone one day--it's best to lock her up before that happens."

"When will she be put away?" Yukiko asked.

"Once she's patched up, they'll cart her off to the nearest mental facility--hopefully not the same one her mother's in.  With the mountain of evidence against her and her goons, you don't have to worry about a trial."

"So...can we go then?"  Pirika's hopeful expression brought a smile to Hatasa's hairy face.

"Yes, Fukurou-pe, you can go.  Just keep your hands to yourself, okay?"

"Yes, sir!"  Pirika nodded.  Yukiko rose and stood behind Pirika, giving her a hug.  "I'll make sure to keep her out of trouble, Kuma-san!"

"Good, good!"  Hatasa laughed, before turning to Sirno.  "Oh, and Kurasu-san...I'm sorry about your place.  I know you had quite a few irreplaceable items broken by those kids."

"Don't worry about it,' Sirno waved him off.  "They are only things, material items.  What's more important is what we have here."  She looked over to the two girls, who were whispering to each other.  "They matter more than anything."  She lifted herself from the chair and waved to the girls.  "I'm sure they have more criminals to catch, so let's be on our way."

The three women thanked the officers, and exited the room.


Pirika sat under their tree in the schoolyard with Yukiko cradled in her arms.  It was late and the yard was empty.  "I'm gonna miss this place," she said fondly.

"I know," Yukiko whispered.  "Maybe we should come back here for anniversaries, ne?"

Pirika nodded.  "Are you sure you wanna do this?  I mean, Hokkaido gets pretty cold in the winter, y'know."

"Sure.  My father couldn't wait to turn me over to Kunarpe-chan.  Mom put up a little fight, but not much.  I guess she wanted to rid herself of her 'imperfection' just as much as he did."  Yukiko turned away as tears began to well up.

"So, that's what Kunarpe meant.  She said she talked to your parents, but she didn't say why.  I thought it had something to do with the case."  Pirika hugged her girlfriend tightly.  "You're gonna be okay with us, Yuki-pe?"

"I'll be alright, 'cause I'll be with you!  I'm sure you'll take care of me, so I'm not worried." Yukiko gave Pirika a big smile, and any other questions the taller girl had about what they were about to do went out of the window.  "Sirno should be finished with the principal by now, let's join them."  The girls got up and brushed themselves off.  Pirika bowed to the tree, and gave a silent prayer to its god.  Yukiko watched her, and also prayed to the tree itself, thanking it for its shade, as well as for bringing her and Pirika together.  The two girls then walked off to the school for the last time, hand in hand.

-- END --

[End notes:

"...and they lived happily ever after!"

I'd like to think so, for I've enjoyed writing this story.  Even though they're fictional characters, they've spent the better part of a month living in my head, and I'll miss them when they're gone.  Yeah, I'm crazy that way.  :-)

Fans of James Clavell's "Shogun" might recognize the line "to be important, you have to act important".  It fit well with Kuma-san's character, so I borrowed it (I hope the lawyers aren't planning a drive-by suing!)

Thanks to all who have read this work, and to those who have left reviews.  A special shout-out to brave_quill; If not for you, I would not have dug deeper into Hiroko's psyche (and into Google for the treatment of the "bukumin").  This last chapter would've been just an afterthought without your comments.  Many thianks to you!

Well, "that's all there is...there isn't any more!"  I'm gonna take some time off before moving on to write something different.  Do some reading and reviewing of other people's work -- they'll appreciate it!

Until next time..."So long, and thanks for all the fish!"


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