Chapter 11: Kimonos on Saturday
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
Whether or not Shuko is actually my sister, she wanted to meet my boss and master as a warrior, Erika. Amy, Shuko, and I decided to meet in front of the Celadon City Gym the next morning.
Today is Saturday, and Saturdays don’t have any formal class sessions as the other days at the gym do. That’s because Saturdays are meant for all of the girls to practice their kimono techniques. Whether it was trying to put them on or doing all of our other activities while wearing them, this is a popular session that all of the members are allowed to attend. Most of the girls are younger junior members, but some of them are also senior members who mentor and supervise them.
“Shuichi, this sucks, I don’t wanna spend more time with all those girls,” said Diana, who decided she wanted to walk with me to the gym. “I wanted to spend the rest of the day with you doing research.”
“Oh, stop complaining,” I said, “you don’t even study very much when we’re at my office anyway. Aren’t you supposed to be taking exams soon?”
Diana made a shocking face as she froze in place while still walking. That’s right, Diana. I know what you really want to do today.
“Oh hey, Shuichi, you made it!” waved Shuko.
She wore her priestly garments. They looked soiled, just like from yesterday. I guess she didn’t have time to change or wash them. Amy was dressed a little more casually today in a Spring blouse and a medium-long skirt. Diana was happily wearing her t-shirt and a pair of denim shorts. I guess she and Amy have already forgotten the rules of Saturdays at the gym.
“Shuichi, why are you wearing that ridiculous outfit?” asked Amy. “You stand out like a sore thumb!”
I wore a traditional men’s style kimono, with vine-like patterns woven into it. After spending many years at the gym as its only male member, I have become quite accustomed to putting one on myself. I felt embarrassed when I used to have to dress with all the girls around, so once I perfected putting one of these on, I always arrived wearing one.
“You look so silly,” giggled Shuko, the only other person who seemed appropriately dressed.
The four of us entered the gym and saw a senior member dressed in her kimono greet us at the door.
“Welcome back, Mr. Shuichi,” she said as she bowed toward us. “It’s a rare pleasure seeing you here again.”
As the four of us bowed in return, a group of younger girls stormed the entry hall, excited as always.
“Oh my gosh, he’s here!” shouted one of them.
“Shuichi’s come to help us with our kimonos!” screamed another.
“Aw, but why did he have to come dressed like that?” said one who was disappointed. “I wanted to help him put on a girl’s kimono!”
After that comment, some other girls started to cry and squeal. It was kind of annoying how the girls treated me at the gym, but this was what it was like every time I came to visit. Of course, it was much better than what it was like when I attended as a junior member for the first time.
Back then I reluctantly decided to join the gym in order to get myself out of trouble for sneaking on the grounds without permission. I know that I was peeping on them at the age of eleven, but I was genuinely curious about their tea ceremony class. Erika, who was a fairly new gym leader at the time, accepted my request.
There were only six other girls in the tea ceremony class then. Among them were Amy and her sister Mei Jia. All of the girls seemed to despise me at first by pounding my head when I made a rude or stupid comment, or dressing me up in a girl’s style yukata, or making a mockery of their tea-brewing techniques. Sometimes I wondered if the girls wanted me to leave or if they just enjoyed teasing me a lot. The only ones who didn’t do that were the leader Erika and Mei Jia.
Of course, both of them were the only ones that called me “Shu-chan,” which was also kind of annoying. Still, I refused to leave the gym because I wanted to learn how to make delicious tea and become a master at serving it. And that’s what I did before finally taking off on a journey with my first pokémon which I had received upon becoming a senior member.
“Ladies, that is not the kind of behavior you should have when addressing men in your kimonos,” said Rika, the senior advisor to the tea ceremony class, who was also a classmate of mine in those days.
The girls stood silently and back away from us while jeering. Thank goodness someone came with a voice of reason.
“Alright, Shuichi, you caused enough trouble coming all this way,” she said as if she were more annoyed than happy to see me. “What do you need this time?”
“I came to introduce my guest here to Erika,” I said. “She’s a priestess from the Sinnoh region and wants to speak with her privately. Her name is Shuko.”
Shuko bowed and greeted herself to Rika.
“Yeah, I’m here to make a visit with Erika too,” said Amy.
“I’m just here to accompany Shuichi!” said Diana energetically.
If pounding my head specifically wasn’t the running gag of this gym, I would’ve pounded her head just now myself. But that’s not something a man in a kimono should do.
“Wow, Amy, it’s been such a long time!” said Rika, suddenly acting all cheerful. “Did you just happen to be in town or something?”
“Not really,” muttered Amy. “I’m Shuichi’s girlfriend now.”
Rika gasped, as did just about every girl who heard her. As the shock subsided, Rika balled up a fist and pounded my head.
“Shuichi! Why was I not informed of this? When did you two start dating? Are you two getting married or something?”
“Leave him alone, Rika,” sighed Amy. “Of course he wouldn’t tell you anything. He is a coward, after all.”
I held my head down dejectedly. Even with all of the girls here, Amy’s sharp tongue still manages to pierce my fragile heart.
Rika shook her head and inspected the three girls that came with me.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t let you see Lady Erika yet,” she exclaimed. “At least, not without changing your clothes. Rules state that no one is allowed to see Erika on Saturdays for private visits unless they are dressed in kimono. You should’ve informed your guests of this, Shuichi!”
I cringed as Rika shifted the blame on me. How in the world was this my fault? Amy and Diana are senior members, too!
“Excuse me, Ms. Rika, was it?” said Shuko shyly. “I’m already in my priest’s garments that essentially looks like a kimono. Can I visit her then?”
“Absolutely not!” said Rika, without a shred of tact or respect toward a priestess. “Besides, your outfit looks dirty. I’ll have it washed while you meet with Lady Erika.”
“I’ve heard enough. Take care of her, girls.”
An army of teenage girls grabbed Shuko and took her to the changing room to help her dress. Shuko resisted at first, but she could not let go as they guided her.
“As for you two ladies,” continued Rika, looking at Amy and Diana.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been here,” said Amy. “I’ll take a spare kimono from the back. I hope there will be one in my size.”
“Of course, Amy. It’s always a pleasure to see you here.”
Diana grabbed my arm tightly.
“I already have mine in the bag I brought with me,” she said. “Come on, Shuichi, help me put it on.”
“Put it on yourself,” I said bluntly. “The girls’ changing room is that way.”
Diana pouted and stomped her way into the changing room where the other girls had taken Shuko. Meanwhile, Amy came back with a bright pink kimono with a yellow obi.
“Well, I’m glad they had one in my size,” said Amy in relief. “I guess I’m bigger than I thought I was. Come on, Shuichi, help me put it on.”
“Put it on–”
Amy grabbed my shoulder tightly with one hand and raised an index finger to my lips with the other.
“I’m your girlfriend, remember? You will help me put this thing on.”
I obeyed her as she dragged me into the men’s changing room.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Yes, there is a men’s changing room at the Celadon City all-girls’ gym. This is where Erika’s many uncles would change whenever there are special events at the gym. Of course, for all the other days, it was my private changing room, seeing that I’m the only male member since Erika’s been the gym leader.
“I can’t believe the ‘genius’ Amy can’t put on her own kimono,” I smirked as I helped her put on the sleeves.
“Quit it, Shuichi,” said Amy, “you want to get another beating? I just forgot how to put one on after all these years. Besides, I wanted you to help me do this. You know, to strengthen our relationship.”
“What’s wrong with our relationship now?” I asked, helping her fold the kimono from the front part of her chest.
“Don’t make me say it, Shuichi,” she said embarrassed. “You like her, don’t you?”
“Who, Diana? No, she’s just an assistant to me. I know she helps me clean and organize my stuff, but she can still be such a pain.”
“No, not her. I meant Shuko.”
I wrapped Amy’s obi around her waist and started to tie it from the back.
“I’ve been thinking, Shuichi. I know she might be your sister and all, but what if she isn’t? What if you two get closer without being siblings? I’m so afraid that you’ll leave me again!”
Back when I decided not to pursue being a pokémon master and went back to school to become a professor instead, Amy was furious. I knew I couldn’t compete with her and my best friend Nathan. I also knew that she was in love with him then. She didn’t have to tell me that. Still, she wanted me to follow that same dream, not so much that she would crush me as a rival, but more like for moral support. I felt bad for turning my back on her like that, but I had to follow my own dreams, not hers.
But now it’s different. She’s my girlfriend. I should work things out together with her now, and include her in my dreams. And if that means I had to follow hers as well, then so be it.
“That won’t happen, Amy,” I said, finishing the last fold and fastening the knot. “Even if Shuko and I aren’t brother and sister, even if we get closer, I will always have you by my side.”
I gently directed her face toward me and kissed her lips. I felt her body relax a little more finally as she stepped back in awe. Her face turned red, either from the blush I helped put on her face or because she was embarrassed. Either way, I thought it was kind of cute.
“Come on, Amy,” I said, grabbing her hand again. “Erika’s waiting for us.”