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Tokyo Demons AU Short: Fukuhashi Fight Club

A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #015 back issue and the Tokyo Demons VIP download.

TD_FightClub_Illus

Opening note: This is an AU (Alternative Universe) short story that takes place after the end of Tokyo Demons: Book 3. There are spoilers up to Book 2: Chapter 4, but not for the end of the series (since this is an AU). It was a Stretch Goal of the Tokyo Demons Kickstarter, and this particular prompt–by lovely fan Norma–won in an anonymous reader poll.

 

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Ayase winced at the piercing whistle and looked up. But, as usual, the gym teacher wasn’t blowing it at her; he was already running off to another quadrant of the field, after a bunch of upperclassmen in street clothes who’d gotten their hands on the dodgeballs. The gym teacher yelled ahead of him as the students starting chucking the balls at smaller, screaming students.

Ayase sighed. She leaned back in her sitting position on the grass, her eyes rolling to the blue sky above.

“Sports Day’s gonna be over before we do anything,” she murmured.

“Fine by me.” Jo glanced at the distant teacher and then fished a loose cigarette out of his pocket. He lit it and took a drag. “The only thing worse than wearing these goddamned shorts is sweating in them.”

Kiyoshi grumbled by his side. “I wanna play something. Why won’t they just give us a ball?”

Ayase guessed it had everything to do with the pockets of “self-directed students” who had been screwing around all day. Her eyes wandered back to the upperclassmen with the dodgeballs, who were now chucking them at the approaching teacher.

Fukuhashi Sports Day was basically Fukuhashi Skip Day, so the only kids who showed up were the ones who had too many absences or the ones who wanted to show up drunk and mess around. After the battle with Core–and the resulting months of absences–Ayase and her friends were in the former category. There was also a small contingent of kids who had to appear as part of their parole, a fact Ayase remembered when she saw a few cops observing on the edge of the field.

Jo followed her eyes. Clearly having forgotten the police, he ground out his cigarette.

Sachi sat in rare silence, plucking grass and tying knots in them. Ayase was almost worried about the furrow in his brow, but it seemed to be bizarre concentration more than anything. He suddenly lit up and poked at a tiny circle of woven grass in his palm.

“I made a ring,” he said in mild triumph. He tested it on his finger, then paused. He slid it off and slowly held it out at Ayase.

“Do you, um…want it?”

“No.”

Another stormy-faced teacher finally appeared, dragging a net of sports equipment with her. “That’s it!” she barked. “There aren’t enough students to separate you out, so we’re mixing genders and years. All of you are assigned to Quadrant 4.”

Ayase creaked to her feet, her thighs numb from hours of sitting. She tried to slap feeling back into her legs as the dozen students around her groaned.

“What are we playing?” Kiyoshi asked, clearly the only person who cared.

“I don’t know. We were going to put you on volleyball, but some smartass cut up the net.” The teacher poked her foot at the equipment in her bag. “I guess–”

“Soccer?” Kiyoshi requested.

Jo scowled. “Way too much running. What about baseball?”

Kiyoshi deflated. “But that’s mostly standing around!”

“Exactly.”

“Jo, I wanna move–we’ve been sitting on our butts all day. My butt’s totally numb. Isn’t yours?”

A few kids snickered and someone attempted a gay joke; Jo flashed his middle finger and otherwise ignored them. “Kiyoshi, don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

“I like it when it’s a little hard–”

“Okay,” Ayase interjected quickly as the other students laughed. “We…get it.”

The teacher sighed and dug through her net. “I only have two gloves and a cracked base,” she reported, pulling out with a soccer ball. “So soccer it is.”

Kiyoshi lit up and snatched the ball from her hands. “Can we pick our own teams?”

“Fine. Just behave until we get a teacher over there.”

Kiyoshi took off at a run. A few kids followed him, but most just dispersed in all directions, chatting and lazily heading toward…somewhere.

Ayase started to head out, then realized Sachi wasn’t with her. She turned to see him a few paces behind, unmoving and staring at the medical tent.

From that distance, Ayase had to squint to make out Kadoyuki’s figure under the shadow of the tent. He seemed pretty much how they’d left him–sitting in some kind of folding chair, ignoring the few teachers and students who milled around. Ayase noticed a book in his hands.

Sachi’s fingers twitched slightly. “I, uh…I think I might tell Kado where we’re going,” he mumbled. “Just in case he…feels better and wants to join us.”

Ayase frowned. “I don’t think you really need to…”

She trailed off when she saw the look on his face. That look. The one where he was worried about something, so he was going to talk at someone non-stop until he felt better.

He’d been doing that a lot since the end of the war with Core. Ayase’s mind wandered back to the conclusion of that, but she quickly wiped it away. She didn’t want to think about that horrible time ever again.

“Okay,” she answered unproductively.

He smiled at her, slight guilt behind it, before running off for the med tent.

Jo seemed to notice. He caught eyes with Ayase and raised an eyebrow.

“Maybe he wants to give Kado the ring.”

Ayase angrily slapped his arm.

***

To Jo’s dismay, Mitsuko was in another quadrant, probably endlessly fun and impossibly sexy in her gym clothes. To his greater dismay, Miki was in Quadrant 4, simmering in his own personal Fury Cauldron.

“Whatever we’re doing,” he spat, “let’s get fucking started. I need to run and kick shit.”

He’s in a worse mood than usual. Jo volunteered to guard the goal on Miki’s team, maximizing the distance between Miki and himself.

Kiyoshi insisted that he be on the same team as Jo, which earned a few more uninspired gay jokes. Confident that Kiyoshi would keep the ball far away from him, Jo set up camp between the two painted markers on the field that counted as a goal.

He cracked his knuckles. “Ready!” he called.

Miki won the kick-off. He kicked the ball so hard it slammed into a classmate’s face.

Jo settled in for a stretch of non-activity. He glanced around for authority figures, then lit up another cigarette.

As he listened to the opposing team cry objections to Miki shoving people, Jo took a long drag. He hated gym class. And the only thing worse than gym class was an entire day of gym class. He irritably tugged at his shorts, still mad that school could mandate him wearing something that ended above the knee.

His phone buzzed in his pocket. He dug it out and flipped it open.

Mitsuko. Some of his irritation drained away as he clicked on her message.

Hey! Where are you? Have you seen Miki?

Jo frowned around his cigarette. He hated when attention from her was prefaced with Miki drama.

In a shitty soccer game, he texted back. Miki’s here, actually.

Oh! I’m inside–they left me in charge of something in the gym.

Sucks, he typed. I miss y– Before he could finish typing his message, another one popped up.

Can you keep an eye on Miki for me? He’s really on the warpath.

Somebody squealed from the other goal. Jo glanced up to see the keeper curled up on the ground, covering his head as Miki spat at him.

I noticed.

One of the freshman teachers called him “miss” this morning. Since we were all wearing the same gym clothes.

Jo paused to drag on his cigarette. So? he typed.

He gets weird about that stuff. Let him act a little macho and he’ll stop being so pissy.

Jo made a face. Let him act macho? he wondered. What the hell does that mean?

There was a sudden whoosh; Jo barely ducked as a ball soared past him. It thudded dully to the ground inside their imaginary goal.

“Goooooal!”

“You almost hit me,” Jo snarled.

Kiyoshi ran up, betrayal written across his face. “You’re supposed to be keeper! Are you texting?

Jo clapped his phone shut. “I was having an important conversation.”

“Are you smoking?

Jo noticed that Kiyoshi had pushed up his long sleeves at some point, revealing the edges of his Pitch veins. Jo flashed their new, agreed-on gesture for Hide your fucking track marks.

Kiyoshi quickly tugged his sleeves back down. Ayase had already retrieved the ball, so Kiyoshi threw Jo one final, sullen look before going back to the game.

After another few minutes of the ball coming nowhere near him, Jo sat on the grass and tried to get back to his text conversation with Mitsuko. When she didn’t reply, he clapped the phone shut and fantasized about being anywhere else.

“You jizz-snorting fuck!

Jo looked up; near the center of the field, Miki cursed a blue streak and staggered back. He clapped one hand over his eyepatch and used the other to shove Kiyoshi away.

“You elbowed me in my fucked-up eye, shitstain!”

Kiyoshi threw up his hands. “I’m sorry!” he blurted. “I didn’t mean to!”

“Bullshit! Why were you crowding me when we’re on the same team?!”

“I just…” Kiyoshi let out a frustrated breath. “Hang on–let me see.” He reached out to pull Miki’s hand from his eye, but Miki snarled and lashed out. Miki didn’t seem to notice the soccer ball behind his feet.

He tripped over the ball and fell hard on his ass.

Uh-oh.

Jo scrambled to his feet. Before he could shout a warning, Kiyoshi leaned down and gripped Miki’s hand to pull him up.

Miki jerked it back so fast that Kiyoshi nearly fell. He stumbled to stay standing in the onslaught of Miki’s curses; Jo ran over at the same moment Ayase did.

“What the hell is your problem?” Kiyoshi snapped at Miki. “I’m just trying to help you!”

“Touch me again and I’ll rip off your fingers and shove them up your dick hole!”

“Miki,” Jo warned, pulling Kiyoshi a few steps back. “Calm down.”

Miki growled and gingerly touched his eyepatch. “No. This fuckhead elbowed me on purpose.”

“I didn’t!” Kiyoshi insisted. “I was just…trying to keep you from mowing down anyone else!”

“By sticking it to my fucked eye. That’s dirty, you juiced-up motherfucker.”

Kiyoshi’s face darkened. “What did you just call me?”

Ayase scowled at Miki. “Watch it, Miki.”

“Oh, yeah?” Miki gave Kiyoshi a small shove. “Don’t like that? Think you can take me, Heroin Hulk?”

Kiyoshi grabbed a fistful of Miki’s shirt.

“Hey!” Jo snapped as he shoved an arm between them. Ayase grabbed one of Kiyoshi’s elbows, prompting him to release Miki.

“Miki,” Jo tried, “you’re getting pissed over a soccer game. On goddamn Sports Day. It’s not worth it, okay?”

Miki straightened his stretched collar and glowered up at Kiyoshi. “Fuck Sports Day. Come to club tonight and I’ll kick your ass into the pavement, where it belongs.”

Jo’s stomach sank.

Ayase furrowed her eyebrows. “What club?”

Miki ignored her and turned his blazing eye on Jo. “Bring him tonight,” he ordered. “If he doesn’t show, I’m pinning it on you.

Before Jo could argue, Miki turned on his heel and stormed off the field. Off to the side, Jo could hear two guys on the other team high-fiving in relief.

“That guy is such an asshole,” Kiyoshi grunted. “Why do you hang out with him, Jo?”

“And what club was he talking about?” Ayase pressed. “Please tell me it’s not another Byakko thing.”

Jo sighed. “Kinda,” he admitted. “It’s some…pissing contest that sprang up after we finished things with Core. Y’know, after–”

“We agreed we’d never talk about that again,” Ayase interrupted.

“Right. After…uh, we finished things with Core, some of the Byakko guys were still amped up and didn’t have anywhere to blow off steam. They arranged something with some of the other thugs at Fukuhashi.”

Ayase stared at him, waiting. Jo winced in advance.

“Some kind of…Fight Club. They get together once a week and beat the crap out of each other.”

Kiyoshi blinked. “How is that a club?”

“More importantly,” Ayase added, “who in their right mind would get in a fight for no reason?

Jo rubbed his temples. “Idiots,” he agreed.

“He’s not seriously expecting Kiyoshi to go to that.”

“I don’t know. You pushed his buttons at the exact wrong time, Kiyoshi.”

“Hey,” Kiyoshi argued, his temper flaring slightly. “Maybe you didn’t see what a dick he was being to everyone. He actually knocked some kid in my homeroom down and ran him over. I was trying to run interference!”

“I’m not saying you did it on purpose. But Miki’s kinda…fucked up. Mitsuko pretty much said he was looking to pick a fight with anybody.”

Kiyoshi went quiet for a second. His jaw tightened as he averted his eyes.

“If I don’t go, is he gonna tell people I’m a junkie?”

I doubt it, Jo wanted to say, but the words died in his throat. He considered the question carefully.

“I’m not sure,” Jo admitted. “He does sometimes…hold weird grudges.”

Ayase threw up her hands. “I can’t believe this. After everything we’ve gone through together, Miki’s actually making new trouble. Is this a guy thing?”

“Let him act a little macho and he’ll stop being so pissy.”

Jo grimaced at the memory of Mitsuko’s text.

“A ‘stupid guy’ thing,” Jo clarified. “Don’t lump me in with this crap. Most men would never–”

“I’ll do it,” Kiyoshi announced as he gripped his hands into fists.

Jo sighed.

Proceed to Page 2–>

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Comments (2)
  1. Chris

    Ten points for Fight Club ref (the whole story was a fight club ref)! You should read the book. Was great. Haven’t seen the film, but the author said it was better than the book, so it must be fucking amazing.