Story: Choukuko's Dog (chapter 2)

Authors: MadPanda

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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!"


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