Chapter 16: The Angry Tea Girl
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon
Rating: Young Adult
I was seventeen when I entered the University of Pokémon Studies in Saffron City as an undergraduate student. I was a year younger than the majority of students in my entering class of about four hundred people, and a few others were even older. I was the youngest student to enter the school for my class. Regardless though, I still had to pay the ridiculously expensive tuition fee and my parents could not afford it either.
Fortunately, the university was in the next city over, so I could commute by train to the school from my house. This was good for two reasons: I wouldn’t have to pay for housing costs and I could get a job locally in my hometown.
“You say you want a job here at the Celadon City Gym and would like to get paid for it?” asked Erika.
“I figured this is the most familiar place to me here,” I pleaded. “I’ll do whatever I can so I can go to school.”
“What a strange request coming from a senior member like you. As a veteran member for the past five years, you should already know that most of our positions here are strictly voluntary and therefore unpaid. I can, however, refer you to some of my uncles’ businesses, I guess.”
I got on my knees and bowed deeply.
“Whatever it takes, Lady Erika, I’ll do my best.”
“Unfortunately, I only know of jobs available to the girls here, and my uncles are quite insistent that they must be women.”
I put my head up and returned to a standard kneeling position.
“That sounds disgustingly perverted of them,” I muttered.
“And that’s why they’re still ‘available’ positions. I refuse to recommend any of my girls to my uncles unless they meet up directly. While I am confident most of the girls are smart enough not to go along with them, I can’t help it if they choose such a role for themselves.”
“Why would a girl want to be exploited for the sake of a man anyway?”
“The human heart is a complex thing, Shu-chan. I thought you would understand that by now. You do have a girlfriend, don’t you?”
“Actually, I’ve been so focused on school that I didn’t have time to think about those things.”
“Well in that case, I do have a job for you then. I need an assistant to help me look for a husband.”
I gave Erika a confused look.
“Wouldn’t one of the girls be more useful for something like that? I can’t evaluate a compatible man for you.”
“My family is quite insistent that I get married soon, so they have suggested several men already. Naturally, I refused because I have so much work to do at the gym. That’s why I need someone I can trust to look into the backgrounds of potential husbands; and to do that I need someone to meet the men personally. I can’t have any of the girls do that because the man might fall in love with them instead. Even worse, my assistants might fall in love with them.”
“So what makes you think that I would be a good fit for this position you have in mind?”
“You’re going to school to study how to help people and pokémon understand each other more, right? Think of this as a way to help a woman and a man understand each other. One of the main factors in any relationship is their compatibility.”
“That sounds like something I’ve read, I guess.”
“Oh please, everyone knows that, Shu-chan. You will help me sort through my potential husbands and meet with them regularly until you find the right one. I will pay you weekly with a stipend for your travels as well as some money to pay for part of your tuition. You can manage that much, can’t you?”
I hesitated. I needed the money for school, but I was worried how much time this would take away from my studies.
“Please, Shu-chan?” Erika asked me as she folded her hands together with far too much affection and charm. “You’re the only one I can trust to do this sort of thing.”
I felt disgusted at her plea for this request, but I couldn’t refuse. I really needed that money.
I snapped out of it and agreed. With this new job, Erika agreed to pay me enough for two-thirds of my first year’s tuition. I had to find another job to make up for the remaining amount and also hope to draw out Erika’s agreement for the remaining four years to complete college.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I got my second job at the department store’s cafe where my mother works. My mother, however, wasn’t the one that recommended me since she was focused on getting promoted to manager soon. My recommendation came from one of their newest hires and my friend from the tea ceremony class: Claire. This way, I could attend class at the university in the morning Monday through Friday, work an afternoon or night shift whenever possible at the cafe, and meet with some of Erika’s potential husbands over the weekend.
“So Shuichi, I hear you’re looking for a husband for Lady Erika, am I right?” Claire whispered to me while at work.
“Yes, what’s it to you?” I asked suspiciously.
“I’ve noticed some of the guys who come to this cafe regularly and they’re kinda cute. Think you can introduce them to me?”
“Introduce yourself, Claire. I don’t have time to do matchmaking for you too.”
Claire made a fist and pounded my head. I held my head in pain as a habitual reflex.
“I can’t, Shuichi!” she cried. “They only think of me as that tea girl! Even though I have a name tag, they still don’t call me by my name!”
“Why would you want go out with shady guys like that anyway? If they liked you they would call you by your name.”
Claire ignored me.
“Shuichi, as your senior at this store, you will bus the tables for me and get their names! Do it or I’ll smash your head in permanently! I don’t care if your mom works here!”
I agreed out of fear and walked over to the table where the guys sat. There were three of them. I recognized them as some of the guys who went to my cram school, but I didn’t know their names. As I approached their table to bus their finished cups, one of them recognized me.
“Hey, you’re that kid, right?” he said. “That hotshot that got in to the University at seventeen.”
“That’s right,” I stuttered. “But I need to pay for my tuition, so I’m working here.”
One of the other guys grabbed my collar and held me in midair.
“We’ve been at that school for five years now and we have yet to find a job!” he said. “And here you are, finished with school in less than three years, going off to some college and now you have a job here. Are you trying to rub it in our face?”
“Maybe we should teach this kid a lesson,” said the third guy.
The first one released a Graveler from his pokéball while the second released his grip on me. I had left all of my pokémon at the Celadon City Gym earlier that day, so I didn’t have any on me.
“Graveler, waste this kid!” said the first guy.
Just then, Claire came by and interrupted our quarrel.
“All three of you, picking on defenseless little Shuichi here? I thought you guys would know better. Read the sign over there!”
She pointed at a sign by the door that clearly read: “No Pokémon Battles Allowed!”
The guys got up from their table preparing to leave.
“We’re sorry, tea girly,” said the trainer with the Graveler. “We’ll take him outside then.”
As the third guy grabbed my arm, Claire grabbed my other one. She held her own pokéball in her other hand.
“I will not allow you to do anything to Shuichi. Not now or ever!”
Disobeying our own rules, Claire released her Weepinbell. I knew Claire was tough, but I have never seen her get so fired up for a battle before.
“Weepinbell, use your razor leaf on that Graveler!”
The Weepinbell threw some leaves and slashed the Graveler, forcing it unable to battle. Claire won flawlessly. The three guys trembled in fear.
“That tea girly’s crazy!” said the first guy. “Let’s get out of here!”
“We’re never coming back to this cafe again!” said the second.
The guys ran away as the other customers all applauded and cheered.
“Claire, I didn’t think you’d have it in you,” I said. “What made you want to battle them like that?”
Claire returned her Weepinbell as she huffed and puffed to cool down her wrath.
“They may have been cute,” she said, “but no one hurts my friends! This ‘tea girl’ will kick all of their asses!”
I trembled as she shouted while I bussed the table. Meanwhile, the manager called out to us from the counter.
“Shuichi! Claire! We have lots of customers! Stop playing around and get back to work!”
Since that day, Claire became known as the “Angry Tea Girl” of the department store cafe. She would continue to ask me to attempt to introduce her to some of our customers, but every one of them would call her by that nickname. Claire didn’t like it of course, so she would reject them right away.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I wouldn’t find anyone suitable for Claire until I was already in the doctoral program at the university. To be honest, though, I didn’t do very much to let them meet.
“Good afternoon, sir, what would you like?” I asked my next customer.
A fine, clean-cut gentleman stood in line. He was wearing a business suit, probably coming in from work for the day.
“I’ll take the Angry Tea Girl Special, please,” he said calmly.
The Angry Tea Girl Special was an iced green tea with a splash of lime juice and a few sprinkles of red chili flakes. This drink was another one of our signature teas, along with Mrs. Oda’s Sweet Black Tea, but this one could only be served when Claire was around. Since it was her creation at the cafe, no one else really knew how to replicate the same taste when she made it.
As I rung the order, Claire started making the tea as she had done normally. When it was done, she gave the tea to the young man.
“Thank you, Claire!” he said with a smile.
Claire was astonished. One of our customers called her by the name on her name tag and not the “Angry Tea Girl!” I was surprised too. I also had a name tag, but he didn’t call me “Shuichi.” That was kind of rude on his part.
The young man took a sip out of his tea and exhaled with a refreshing sigh.
“My coworkers say you’re the Angry Tea Girl,” he said to Claire. “But there’s nothing angry about this. It’s very delicious!”
Claire normally had a starry look in her eyes when she found an attractive guy, but this time, her eyes shone as bright as the sun.
“You really like it?” she asked. “I prepared it just for you!”
I cringed at this lovey-dovey sight. Claire’s obvious pass at this guy was sickening and I wanted to help the next customer right away. Unfortunately for me, this guy was our only customer in the past half-hour.
I watched as the guy handed Claire a business card and she handed him a napkin with some scribble written on it. And with that, the man left our store to savor his drink. Claire remained standing at the counter with a very affectionate look. Then she turned to me with her typical angry glare.
“Shuichi! You will not speak of this ever again! I can’t have our customers thinking the Angry Tea Girl’s gone soft!”
I ducked and covered my head in anticipation of a pounding on my head.
“Yes, ma’am. I will not speak of it.”
I chuckled to myself and happily finished off my shift with Claire. She continued to have a smile on her face until closing time.