Last Waifu Standing [fan fiction]: Cosplay OTP Part 2

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Cosplay 4: Ratio (Hamatora)

(Scene changes to the city again. This time, it’s a dystopian Yokohama. Now cosplaying Ratio, Scott has lost depth perception, given a patch over his right eye, and his arms feel heavy. He tries to remove the patch when he’s rudely interrupted. Enter Birthday.)

Birthday: WHOA! What the hell do you think you’re doing there, Scott?

Scott: What? You and I both know that I’m not Ratio. That means I shouldn’t have any of his powers.

Birthday: Yeah, but whatever contraption you had to get here was loaded with some extra add-ons with each of your cosplays. You’re basically the real thing.

Scott: Okay, then tell me. Where’s the real Ratio right now?

Birthday: Oh. He’s waiting over there. (Birthday points toward a car about 50 meters away. A single black glove can be seen from the side window, middle finger raised).

Scott: That’s my Ratio. (smirks)

Birthday: Look, no jokes, no riddles. I’m just gonna tell you straight up.

Scott: Okay…

Birthday: Ratio and I… we’re just partners. We fight crime together. That’s it. I don’t get why the fans love pairing us up all the time for other things.

Scott: Oh… Well of course! (laughs uneasily) Why would anyone ever think that? (Birthday glares back at Scott, then shrugs.)

Birthday: Anyway, I’m supposed to give you some kind of advice, so you can be happy and move on, right?

Scott: Huh? I don’t remember Shiori ever telling me that.

Birthday: (presses Scott up against a wall and slams his palm onto it) Look, this blog? This life of yours? You’re doing it all wrong, man!

Scott: Why? What’s wrong with how I do things now?

Birthday: You need to trust your audience more! Listen to what they have to say. Give them what they want, no matter how dumb it is!

Scott: What? Why? Then I’ll just be like every other anime critic out there! Sure, I’ll have the views, but I’d be miserable, just watching the same shows that everyone else is, just to get attention!

Birthday: (steps away and turns his back on Scott) You really sure that’s how it works? You really are stupid.

Scott: (stands up straight and looks at Birthday, face to face) Enlighten me.

Birthday: (turns his back on Scott again and crouches) Do you even know who your audience is anymore?

Scott: Not really. Why?

Birthday: Why? That’s your problem. You don’t cater to one. You’re so busy, trying to please everyone that you forget what’s really important. You limit your perspective by focusing on too broad of a spectrum. You’re kind of like–

Scott: Yeah, yeah. I’m kind of like Ratio that way, right?

Birthday: (turns his head to look at Scott) Who, the guy who loses perspective because he has only one eye? No. I was gonna say you’re just like me! (turns his head back) Ratio’s a medical doctor. He knows how to focus. (fiddles around with his taser) Me? I’m just here to have a good time, and take down some baddies while I’m at it. (puts the taser away) I don’t have a focus. Why else do you think I’m only good for cheesy one-liners?

Scott: Wow. I had no idea you thought of yourself that way.

Birthday: (stands up and turns to face Scott) Really? Well those who make the rest of the world laugh are the ones who suffer the most. It’s the comedian’s paradox, you know?

Scott: Yeah. I understand that.

Birthday: You know the Hamatora Detective Agency? You may think of us as heroes, but we don’t get paid very well. (turns his back on Scott again) We take shitty jobs, work with shitty people, and for what? All to use our minimum powers for something “good?” Sometimes you gotta do shit work to please others, Scott. Only then will you appreciate what really matters in life.

Scott: A life worth living?

Birthday: (looks at Scott again) Hell no! What are you, some kind of philosopher?

Scott: Well, yeah–

Birthday: Nah! (turns his back once more and crouches) What really matters in life are girls! Babes! Waifus! That’s why you’re doing this fan fiction, right?

Scott: Huh? No!

Birthday: Then what are you doing it for?

Scott: Well, for starters, me. (Birthday gazes up at Scott attentively) Lately I’ve been feeling down about myself. Can’t get work, can’t pass simple exams, I’m losing friends, and overall, I just don’t think my voice is being heard anymore. I had to write this. That way, if someone else out there feels the way I do right now… perhaps they can find strength in what I have to say.

Birthday: (ponders some more, then stands up) Well, I guess you really are more like Ratio. He cares so much about others, that he barely has any time to take care of himself. That’s why he’s a medical doctor. I know it’s not easy for him, and that’s why I stay by his side. Stoic as he is, he needs a balance. A foil, if you will. And so do you.

Scott: Yeah…

Ratio: (from a radio clipped to Birthday’s shirt) Hey, if you’re done playing around with my double, get your ass back over here! Honey just got a lead!

Birthday: (shrugs) Well, duty calls. We got a yellow rabbit to catch.

Scott: A yellow rabbit? I know who–

Birthday: Forget about it. We’ll take care of it. You need to start taking care of yourself right now. And don’t forget about that audience of yours. They’ll listen. (Birthday runs toward the car and exits)

Scott: No worries. I’m sure I’m headed that way, too.

Cosplay 5: Umetarō Nozaki (Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun)

(Scene changes to a school hallway. Scott’s sight returns, as he straightens up his tie. Enter Chiyo, running.)

Chiyo Sakura: Nozaki-kun! Nozaki-kun! Wait for me!

Scott: Huh? No, you got it all wrong. (Chiyo stops in front of him and catches her breath)

Chiyo: Oh no, I knew it was you. I’m just practicing a scene that’s supposed to happen in a lot of shōjo manga, where the girl has to pursue the guy, you know? I want Nozaki-kun to notice me.

Scott: Well you have my attention now. Have you come to tell me what I’ve been doing wrong too?

Chiyo: Actually, no. I’m here to tell you what you’ve been doing right.

Scott: (pause, suprised) Well that’s new.

Chiyo: You see… you’re kind of like Nozaki-kun when you take interest in stuff that girls like. You understand how characters think and feel, and sometimes play around with them in your reviews. Nozaki-kun does that too, when he’s writing his manga. He observes so many scenes in his own life, and translates them into his amazing work, but…

Scott: But?

Chiyo: There’s something you possess that Nozaki-kun doesn’t. At least, not yet, anyway. The thing is, you’re really honest about your feelings. That’s not very common for a guy. But whether or not you believe it, a lot of girls like that kind of thing, you know? I mean, it’s kind of surprising to find out at first, but, we really appreciate it. It makes us feel like someone understands us. Knows what we’re going through.

Scott: I see.

Chiyo: When I found out that my favorite manga artist was really Nozaki-kun, I was shocked too. I’ve wanted to get to know him better because of that. I figured if he could write such a fun story that I could enjoy, then he must really get me! But then when I see him, all he does is imitate romantic scenes, for the sake of his manga. To give him that inspiration, but never get the satisfaction that comes from truly falling in love. But you? I think you do understand. And that’s what… that’s what I really wanted to say to you. (Chiyo and Scott stare at each other awkwardly. Then Chiyo blushes and acts more flustered) P-p-please don’t get the wrong idea! I know I’m still only 16.5 and you’re xx!

Scott: Damn it! People really do use that age reference! Seriously, this community is weird!

Chiyo: Well… I said what I had to say. I guess… that’s that. (Chiyo wiggles around nervously, as if she’s about to burst into tears. Scott pats her on the head.)

Scott: You’re a good kid, Sakura. I’m sure one of these days, Nozaki will open up to you. Just be prepared for when he says it, and listen. But perhaps, you already do a good job of that.

Chiyo: Aw, that’s so sweet.

Scott: Oh, and before I forget. I have something for you.

Chiyo: Really? What’s that? (Scott takes out an autograph signing board and a felt tip pen. He writes out his signature and hands it to Chiyo.) Wha. Wha. WHA–

Scott: Just think. If I ever become famous, that’ll be super valuable. Maybe.

Chiyo: (turns bright red, as steam comes out of her ears) WHY!!! YOU’RE SUCH AN IDIOT!!!! (Exit Chiyo, with a whirl of emotions)

Scott: All right. One more to go.

Cosplay 6: Gunzō Chihaya (Arpeggio of Blue Steel)

(Scene appears to be inside a submarine captain’s deck. Scott sits in a chair as the Captain, noticing that only one crew member is around… in teddy bear form. Enter Kirishima.)

Kirishima: Well, if it isn’t the anime critic who’s been causing a storm lately, over breaking his waifus’ hearts.

Scott: I’m sorry, okay? There’s too many, so I had to get rid of them.

Kirishima: Yeah, I know. Some of them are really annoying, that’s for sure.

Scott: Kirishima, I get that Gunzō has an entire harem fleet of mental models, and don’t get me wrong, I still think you’re the best. But tell me, why are you in the teddy bear form?

Kirishima: Oh come on, Scott. If I were in my human form, I’d be too sexy, even for you. And besides…

BOTH: (Scott says it monotonously, while Kirishima says it enthusiastically) Bears are awesome.

Scott: Man, I really need to start coming up with better catch phrases. Anyway, how did you manage to get away from the others? Aren’t you always playing with that kid?

Kirishima: Who, Makie? I’ve got Haruna covering for me in the sleeping quarters. She’s watching over her. Also, I think there’s some ghost girl with them, eating pudding.

Scott: Oh good.

Kirishima: Regardless, I just have one thing to ask you.

Scott: Go on.

Kirishima: Why do you care so much about what other people think about you?

Scott: What are you talking about?

Kirishima: There was once a time when you were like Captain Chihaya. Cool. Suave. Charming–

Scott: Those are all essentially the same thing.

Kirishima: (shocked) Anyway, he didn’t care what other people thought of him. That’s why he left the Naval Academy, went rogue, and joined forces with the traitor of the Fog, I-401. He would have been the typical rebellious type, except that he was also extremely rational, and turned out to be an excellent strategist, if I do say so myself.

Scott: Yeah, he got you and Haruna good that one time. (chuckles)

Kirishima: Don’t remind me. (pause) The truth is, you used to be like that too. But then you started to get in tune with your feelings more, and added emotion to your already logical reviews. Sure, it made your writing more interesting, but having such skills comes with a double-edged sword.

Scott: Oh really?

Kirishima: You started to care too much! You got far too invested. And eventually, you started to see your criticism as work rather than play. And for what? Because a few trolls told you that you had to start talking about things their way? Are you really gonna let them walk all over you like that!?

Scott: Well no–

Kirishima: Then WHY DO YOU CARE ABOUT THEM!? (Scott groans and sulks in his chair) You don’t have a reason, do you?

Scott: Not when you’re trying to force an answer out of me.

Kirishima: Just look at me for a minute. (Scott obliges) When my hull was destroyed and I couldn’t get my mental model back, I was placed in this stuffed toy. I hated it at first. I thought, “who would ever take me seriously again?” I hated myself, because that’s how others would have seen me! But you know what? I was wrong. That kid Makie adores me. And Haruna still looks out for me whenever she can. And Gunzō… Gunzō…

Scott: What about him?

Kirishima: It’s nothing. He’s a really good captain, you know? Anyway, I started to like my new form. I loved myself again. And do you know why?

Scott: (pauses, as he ponders) Not really.

Kirishima: (pauses) Because I found someone to care about. I found someone worth a damn to me. And protect her at all costs. She loves me for who I am, especially in this bear form. She makes me feel… feel…

Scott: Special?

Kirishima: Like I’m not a monster. When I was part of the Fog, all I ever did was follow orders. I killed hundreds. Thousands of innocent people. And I didn’t feel a single thing for any of them. But now, I care for her, because she cares for me. One last hope for me to find redemption for this forsaken existence. And to me, a mental model that was never meant to have emotions, that’s Love. (Scott and Kirishima continue to dive stealthily with no purpose, gliding along the ocean floor aimlessly) Scott, find some one, some thing to care about. It can be more than one thing. And damn the rest. That’s what I would have done, that’s what Gunzō would have done. And so should you.

Scott: You got it. And thanks. You know, bears really are awesome.

Kirishima: Indeed they are. (The submarine is about ready to surface, when Scott decides to change the subject)

Scott: All right, enough small talk, Kirishima. Where’s Iona? (Kirishima is shocked) Everyone knows that Gunzō’s true love is Iona. That would make them the OTP.

Kirishima: So? This is your fan fiction. It doesn’t have to be canon.

Scott: Yeah, but I never declared any waifus from this series, so whoever everyone else ships becomes the default OTP. That’s how fandom works! But Iona’s not here. (Scott stares intently at Kirishima) Is she?

Kirishima: (flustered) Ah… I don’t know what you’re talking about. Surely this ship couldn’t operate without her on board, right?

Scott: Right… but she’s not on deck here! In fact, no one on the Blue Steel crew is here but us! And I’m starting to doubt that Haruna and Makie are here either!

Kirishima: Just what are you trying to say? (Scott impatiently pulls out the Trigger device.)

Scott: This. This is how I’ve been able to change into all my cosplays so quickly. I’m using this in the middle of a virtual training room operated by Shiori from World Trigger. Everything up to this point has been an illusion, hasn’t it?

Kirishima: Well, yes, but all the conversations you’ve had have felt real, weren’t they?

Scott: Well yeah…

Kirishima: Then there’s nothing to worry about. You win. You’ve brought closure to all your waifus and hasbandos.

Scott: No. There’s still one left.

Kirishima: Huh?

Scott: I know he’s behind all this. He’s been pulling the strings this whole time. He’s the mysterious villain of the fan fiction. You’ve worked with him before, haven’t you?

Kirishima: I don’t know what you’re talking about!

Scott: (picks up Kirishima and brings her closer to his face) Where’s Wooser? (Exit Kirishima, perplexed)

(The scene dissolves, as Scott changes back to his regular clothes. He’s no longer in the training room, but in an open field, with nothing else to be seen in any direction.)

Scott: All right, give it up! I know you’re here, watching me, haunting me. You’re a hack! A coward! Show yourself!

(A maniacal laugh echoes from above. A large airship with several of the past waifus are on board, staring down at Scott in cold disgust. Enter Wooser.)

Wooser: Girls. Meat. Money. Uniforms. (Wooser laughs maniacally some more, as he lands before Scott) Have you made your decision, True Lystria? Who is your last waifu standing?

Scott: I have. But I have to tell you something first.

Wooser: Really? And what’s that?

Scott: Something I should’ve told you a long time ago, back when we wrote that review together. My honest thoughts about your show. (to be continued)

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Last Waifu Standing [fan fiction]: Cosplay OTP Part 1

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Scene: somewhere in an undisclosed location. I wake up in a cot in a cramped room that is no clearly no longer inside my house. I get out of the cot and notice that all I’m wearing is a t-shirt and boxer shorts.

(Enter Scott, Shiori)

Shiori Usami: Ah, you’re finally awake.

Scott: What the– I thought this dream was over! Are you my last waifu?

Shiori: Oh no, you must be mistaken. I’m your sexy young operator here to guide you on your next challenge. Don’t fall in love!

Scott: Right… (Shiori hands Scott a pair of pants and grins)

Shiori: My, my. You’re still healthy after all, aren’t you? (Shiori points down below his waist. Scott throws a pillow at her.)

Scott: Get out of here so I can change! And don’t get any funny ideas! This is just my morning– eh… never mind. (Shiori chuckles and steps outside. Scott put on his pants and glasses and meets her in the next room over. Nanana can be seen in the background, scarfing down more pudding. Scott tries to ignore and let her be)

Shiori: This is it. Your final challenge for Last Waifu Standing: Cosplay Edition! In this challenge, you will be wearing all of the cosplays you have ever done and meeting the characters you are supposed to get together with! You must assume the role of your cosplay and win over your OTP!

Scott: What? Who comes up with such a scheme! Besides, how do you know about my cosplays? It’s not like I do exclusive features for them–oh.

Shiori: It’s alright. You only have to do the ones that you have referenced somewhere on your blog. I already know that you only cosplay as a conversation starter at conventions. You’d rather talk to people than show off that hot body of yours. (Scott covers up his chest)

Scott: Wha- what would you know about my body? (Shiori grins, as her glasses tint from the overhead lights’ reflection) Never mind. I don’t want to know.

Shiori: (hands him a small device) Take this. All six of the cosplays you have done have already been stored on this Trigger. You will enter our training field over there and wear each one. There, you will meet the other half of your characters’ OTPs and talk to them.

Scott: Got it. I accept your challenge.

Shiori: You already know what to do. Meet up and break up with them! (Shiori sits back behind a computer to activate the virtual training room, as Scott steps inside.)

Scott: No. I’m going to do something different.

Shiori: Oh? And what’s that?

Scott: See, I never declared a waifu or hasbando for any of the series that I did a cosplay for. If I’m going to play my characters right, I’m going to give their better halves exactly what they have been waiting for. I’m going to make them fall in love with me.

Shiori: I see. (smiles sweetly) Well you’ve already conquered one of your girls. Maybe after all this, we can go out and celebrate somewhere. My treat.

Scott: Thanks, but no thanks. You’re still too young for me.

Shiori: Not in another year. (winks)

Scott: Yeesh! I think I’ll still pass.

Shiori: (laughs and finishes hashing away at her keyboard) The training room is ready. These exercises are meant to be the real thing, so be careful. And Scott… knock ’em dead!

Scott: You got it! (Scott holds the device outward, shouting something that he’s always wanted to, just for the hell of it) Trigger. On!

(Exit Shiori, smiling)

Cosplay 1: Osamu Mikumo (World Trigger)

(The environment around Scott changes, as the training room transforms into an empty city. Scott appears to look like Osamu Mikumo as he looks around. Enter Ai)

Ai Kitora: Took you long enough, Osamu. I’ve been waiting for you for 5 minutes. Had enough fun with Shiori?

Scott: What? No, that’s not what I was–

Ai: Look, it’s fine. I know it’s you, Scott. The real Osamu is back at HQ, preparing his strategy for the next battle.

Scott: Okay. Now that you know who I am–

Ai: Listen. I’m not here to beat around the bush. I’m not very fond of you at all. And I think your obsession with waifus and OTPs is childish. Me? Fall in love with Osamu? Only in a boy’s depraved mind would that ever happen.

Scott: (aside) Well, so much for that.

Ai: But you do remind me of that four-eyed novice a lot. You’re a thinker. An architect. And you shoulder a lot of responsibility that isn’t necessarily your own. You want to be a fighter, but you don’t have the strength or ability to be one. Getting compliments from others that you’re doing a great job only adds more stress to the work that you’ve already put in, so I’m just going to tell you what you need to do, as clear as possible.

Scott: Okay. What?

Ai: You want to impress a girl? You need to put yourself out there. Let them know you’re interested, and respond to suitors as soon as possible. You can’t shroud yourself behind a virtual space like a blog forever, and you definitely can’t spill your feelings out for all the world to see. You need to show some restraint.

Scott: Yeah. I get that a lot.

Ai: And one more thing. You need to be patient with them. It’s not going to happen right away. Love takes time to grow, develop, and most importantly for you, heal.

Scott: Wow. I never knew you could be such an expert on love, Ai. Does that have to do with your name?

Ai: (blushes) Who, me? No, you got it all wrong. This has nothing to do with my name!

Scott: Then how would you know?

Ai: I’m an A-rank of Border’s PR squad. I have to put my face out there for all of Mikado City to see. People know who I am around here because I am visible, and not everyone’s going to like what I do. But mark my words. Even though I’m busy saving face, I still train as hard, if not harder, than anyone else to maintain my position. You must do the same, or you will lose in the battle of love. Got it?

Scott: I think so.

Ai: Good. (an explosion occurs some distance away) Well I’ve got work to do to become stronger. Can’t let Osamu and his team catch up with me.

Scott: Thank you.

Ai: And Scott: make that special girl of yours proud. (Exit Ai, stern as ever)

Cosplay 2: Taichi Tanaka (Tari Tari)

(Scene changes to a different city, this time with more people around. Now appearing as Taichi Tanaka, Scott sits down at an outdoor café table, when his next partner arrives. Enter Sawa)

Sawa Okita: (waves) Hey there! It’s so nice to meet you for the first time, Scott.

Scott: Oh. So you know who I am, too?

Sawa: (laughs) Of course I do. Everyone you’ll meet today does. Besides, Taichi’s not anywhere around here. I went overseas to study at a university, remember?

Scott: Yeah. I guess you’re right.

Sawa: So, how about it? Wanna go out with me? I am sooo exhausted from all the lectures and readings! I barely have time to do any horseback riding.

Scott: Sure. But… actually, I just wanted to talk.

Sawa: Not very assertive about your feelings, are you? You’re just like Taichi that way. (Sawa smiles and sits down across from him) Okay. What is it you would like to talk about?

Scott: Well, I guess… I’ve been kind of depressed lately. I feel like I’m running in one place, and can’t move forward. As if… I want to do something more with my life, but can’t.

Sawa: And why not?

Scott: Well, if I stay back, I lose my chance to try something new. But if I move forward, I’m going to leave friends behind. I can’t do both, you know? (Sawa ponders while looking at the drinks menu. She signals a waiter to come over and asks for two iced teas. The waiter obliges and leaves.)

Sawa: You know what’s funny? I used to think just like that. That feeling when you’re caught between what you want to do, and the expectations of everyone else? That’s how I felt living at home. I just wanted to break free, become an archer, and take care of my horses for the rest of my life, you know? But my father had different plans for me. He wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer, someone who makes a good amount of money or something.

Scott: But that’s so unfulfilling!

Sawa: I know, right? (laughs) We really do get along.

Scott: Yeah. Maybe I should’ve cosplayed you instead of Taichi. I don’t even play badminton!

Sawa: You? Cosplay as me? You would look terrible! (they laugh together, and then enjoy staring into each others’ eyes for awhile) You know, Scott? There was something that helped me make the right decision.

Scott: And what’s that?

Sawa: The bonds I had with my friends in the Choir Club.

BOTH: …And Sometimes Badminton Club! (laugh some more)

Sawa: Oh, we had so much fun in our last year at Shirahamazaka High. I’ll never forget them. Singing and laughing. Playing and running around. Advertising for the shopping district. Saving our school with one last song… And falling in love. (Sawa pauses, and they gaze at each other in sweet silence) You know what happened after that?

Scott: Well, other than the fact that the school closed down, no.

Sawa: It’s simple. I let go. I came here, got really busy with school, and left them all behind. (Scott looks down at her in dismay) Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still love them and talk to them as much as I can! It’s just… you know. It’s a lot harder to do as you get older. You naturally drift apart. Change interests. Move forward. But that’s just how strong our bonds were when we got together for that one moment in time.

Scott: I don’t get it.

Sawa: See, I can let go of them now because I know they’ll always be there for me. Konatsu, Wakana, Vien, my family and all the others… and Taichi. They will always be right where I need them, no matter where I go. Right here. (Sawa points toward her chest) Scott, I don’t know you very well right now, but I can tell that you have a lot of love for your friends and family, too. But you have to learn to let them go, just as I have. Only then can you really have that push to move forward and do what you want to do. I know I have when I made my decision to come here. And you can, too.

Scott: Wow. I really do have so much to learn. (The waiter returns with two iced teas. Sawa and Scott thank the waiter and raise their glasses together.)

Sawa: Well, this has been a really fun date! It’s really nice to meet you, Scott.

Scott: Likewise.

Sawa: Here’s to the future ahead of us!

Scott: And to the ones we love…

Sawa: I hope you will find the one you love someday. I believe in you. And I’m sure you will make her really happy.

(We smile and clang our glasses together and take a sip. Exit Sawa, serene and content)

Cosplay 3: Ryō Shinnai (Comical Psychosomatic Medicine)

(The scene changes again, to a clinical office. Scott is wearing a lab coat and has blonde hair. He tugs on it, only to find that it’s not a wig.)

Scott: EEEHHHHH!! What is this!? (Enter Asuna)

Asuna Kangoshi: Oh hey, Scott! You made it just in time!

Scott: What? What are you talking about?

Asuna: Sensei had to call in sick, but we still have to start the show! This week we’re doing our review on dreams and delusions of grandeur! With a surprise twist that all we’ll ever discuss are sexual fantasies, of course!

Scott: Huh?

Asuna: I’ll get in this hospital bed and wake up half naked and start walking around aimlessly. Ready?

Scott: What? No! Don’t do that! I’m trying to keep this fan fiction suitable for a teenage audience!

Asuna: You do know that most of your fan base are young adults, right? They can handle it.

Scott: Yeah, but I don’t want to do that! Why do you think I refrain from using any explicit curse words? ***t!

Asuna: Aww… you’re no fun.

Scott: Whatever. Tell me, Asuna. Of all the nurses on this show, why are you Dr. Shinnai’s OTP? Dr. Shinnai’s supposed to be the stickler of a dysfunctional harem of perverted nurse sisters! And Ladybeard, I guess.

Asuna: But my sisters weren’t written for this script, so they’re not here. And Ladybeard? You really do have a depraved mind. Anyway, you wanted me specifically because I’m the middle child. And you know what they say…

BOTH: (I say it unenthusiastically while Asuna says it cheerfully) We have to look out for each other.

Scott: Yeah, I established that in an earlier chapter. I’m really starting to regret that, because it really limits my pool of whom I choose to be the best character from every series I talk about.

Asuna: (wags her index finger) And that’s exactly what’s wrong with you.

Scott: What do you mean?

Asuna: You’re so serious all the time. Even when you’re trying to make an elaborate joke, like say, write a fan fiction where you’re intentionally disappointing waifus as the Mary-Sue, you come across as too sad. Dreadful. Boring, even! Who’s gonna want to read something like that besides you? You really are like Sensei that way.

Scott: Oh come on! It’s not my fault no one understands classical humor anymore, where the goal is to make people feel good, as opposed to simply make them laugh!

Asuna: I rest my case.

Scott: Huh? (Asuna strips Scott of his cosplay, revealing him in only his underwear. Scott cowers in shock of what just happened and covers his privates)

Asuna: You need to lighten up! Do something unexpected! Get your audience to want more out of you!

Scott: WHAT THE FUCK, ASUNA! I’M NOT A DOCTOR, I’M AN ANIME CRITIC!!

Asuna: Ah, see? I knew you had it in you to say something crazy. Now then… how about we move on to the next phase of the show?

Scott: (lowers his head in shame) And what’s that?

Asuna: The part where you explain to the audience exactly what just happened. Only sound all doctor-like!

Scott: What part of “I’m not a doctor” did you not understand?

Asuna: Oh, that’s right. You don’t have the experts to help you write this fan fiction, huh?

Scott: Excuse me?

Asuna: You didn’t know? Sensei isn’t an actual medical clinician. He’s an anime and manga character, so he’s fiction!

Scott: Yeah. I know.

Asuna: Sensei may not be a real doctor, but when you reviewed the anime, you did the best you can to sound like an expert like him, right?

Scott: Of course. That’s my job as a critic.

Asuna: Exactly! So when you write your reviews, work, or hang out with your friends, you have to remember to play the game. Understand what you’re supposed to do in each situation, sort of speak. That’s what professionals do.

Scott: Wow, Asuna. You’re pretty knowledgeable about stuff like this.

Asuna: (backs Scott into a wall, poking his chest) But you also have to remember to have some fun with it! No one likes a person who’s so uptight about everything.

Scott: Yeah. Maybe you’re right.

Asuna: And you should probably try to concise your posts, too. No one wants to read too much without any visuals. But then again… (Asuna grabs Scott by the arm and twirls him across the lobby. Scott stands in one place, dazed, trying to regain his balance) You could use all that extra detail to your advantage. Give them something worth reading! It’ll keep your creative spirit, and your audience will feel smarter for reading a lot of words, even if they’re filler!

Scott: Wow. That sounds dumb and manipulative.

Asuna: Yeah, but it’s so much fun, isn’t it?

Scott: I guess you’re right.

Asuna: Okay then (winks). I have to let you go now. But before I do, there’s one thing left to do.

Scott: Oh no. (Enter Ladybeard)

Ladybeard: Oh Sensei! I must confess. I love you so much!!

Scott: No. No! NOOOO!!! (Ladybeard chases Scott around the lobby as he screams in horror. The scene cuts to a freeze frame)

Asuna: If you’re feeling depressed, please call your mental health clinic today! (Exit Asuna and Ladybeard, energetically)

Last Waifu Standing [fan fiction]: Enter the Hasbandos

Standard

Scene: evening. My home, at my desk. Having put up with nearly 30 girls and eliminating them from this insane competition, one more has arrived late to the party.

(Enter Scott, Nagahide)

Nagahide Niwa: Hello, Scott. Remember me?

Scott: Of course I do. You’re the genderbend version of Nagahide Niwa, strategist of the Oda clan in The Ambition of Oda Nobuna. You were the first waifu I ever declared, long before I did reviews on this blog.

Nagahide: Good memory. 10 points.

Scott: (chuckles) How could I forget? My friends and I used to give each other “points” in conversation all the time.

Nagahide: You had lots of fun then, didn’t you? Now look at you. You’re about as old as me now.

Scott: Indeed. So are you here to seduce me, like the others? I’d hate to disappoint you so soon–

Nagahide: Don’t flatter yourself. You’re still leagues away from ever satisfying me. I’m here to introduce you to your next candidates for best waifu (laughs). Or should I say… hasbando?

Scott: Oh no. You didn’t. (Nagahide claps her hands. Enter Asuma, Fafnir, Haru, Kakeru, Louis, and Yūri. The boys sit down and gather around the couch) You did.

Nagahide: (laughs) Well, get to it. Tell your favorite boys how you really feel.

Scott: Oh come on! I hardly ever declared hasbandos. Why so many?

Nagahide: Would you like me to add more?

Scott: No, why?

Nagahide: No reason.

(meanwhile, somewhere outside, at a park. Enter Eijun and Jyushimatsu)

Jyushimatsu: (walking along a dirt path, chanting) Hustle! Hustle! Muscle! Muscle!

Eijun Sawamura: (makes a loud scream as he throws a baseball toward a wall) YES! YES! YESS! Another perfect cutter ball!

Jyushimatsu: (stops and faces Eijun) Huh? That wasn’t a cutter ball. That was just a fast ball. And it wasn’t even that fast!

Eijun: Oh, what would you know?

Jyushimatsu: More than you think. But whatever. People will think whatever they want to think. So what brings you out here?

Eijun: Training. I’ll be the ace this year for sure! I have to keep practicing. Then I’ll finally show all those guys that I’m better than Furuya!

Jyushimatsu: Ah. Is that why you’re out here so late?

Eijun: No. It’s because I got invited by some weird guy to go and meet some blogger who apparently thinks I’m hot stuff.

Jyushimatsu: Blogger? You mean The True Lystria? I got that invite too.

Eijun: Yeah, I was on my way there, when I stopped by this park. I can’t possibly impress her if I can’t even throw a decent cutter ball.

Jyushimatsu: Uh… you do know The True Lystria’s a guy, right?

Eijun: She’s a what!? (angrily) This is just like that time I was set up with Miyuki-senpai!

Jyushimatsu: Ah, so you’re used to that kind of thing too.

Eijun: I AM NOT!!

Jyushimatsu: Ah, whatever. I was gonna go, too, but then I lost my way there.

Eijun: You wanted to impress that guy?

Jyushimatsu: Nah. I just wanted to screw with him. But since I’m here, I think I’ll go ahead and practice more of my swinging.

Eijun: You play baseball too?

Jyushimatsu: Nah, I’m just a fun-loving NEET. Can’t be too serious, you know?

Eijun: Right…

Jyushimatsu: Say, since we’re out here, how about we play some ball and yell obnoxiously while we’re at it?

Eijun: That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day! Let’s do it!

(Exit Jyushimatsu and Eijun, throwing and swinging as they yell as loud as they can. Back at my house.)

Scott: Look, I don’t do the whole hasbando thing. I’m going to turn all of them down anyway. So can we just skip this chapter?

Nagahide: Fine, but only if you can answer me one thing.

Scott: Okay.

Nagahide: Why do you spell it “H-A-S-B-A-N-D-O,” when everyone else spells it “H-U-S-B-A-N-D-O?” (Nagahide and Scott stare at each other awkwardly)

Scott: (sigh) 20 points.

Nagahide: I still got it. Good luck, my casanova.

Scott: Whatever.

Nagahide: And if you don’t mind, some of your previous waifus are here to observe too. (Enter a group of waifus from previous chapters from this ‘fic and a few others, cheering) We’re rooting for you. (winks)

Scott: Alright. Time to make this quick. (Scott gets up from his desk and stands before all the guys, who have been situated around the couch) Listen up! I’m not all that thrilled to be here, and neither are you. So, I’m just going to tell each one of you directly.

Yūri Katsuki: What? What’s happening?

Scott: First off, Yūri! You’re not even supposed to be here! Aren’t you with Victor right now?

Yūri: EH!? EEEHHHH!?!?

Victor Nikiforov: (appears from the crowd of spectators) Whoa.

Scott: You don’t need me. Just go!

Yūri: How? Why? What’s going on? (Yūri continues to mutter in confusion. Victor gets up from the crowd and grabs him by the shoulder. Exit Yūri and Victor, indifferently)

Scott: Haru!

Haru Yoshida: (annoyed) Whaaat.

Scott: Aren’t you supposed to be with Shizuku right now?

Haru: Nah, we’re taking a break from each other. Besides, Shizuku’s probably at her cram school. I’m just here to hang out. Spending the night here too, just to let you know.

Scott: Fine, I don’t care. But you’re not sleeping in my bed!

Haru: (suddenly appears in the bed, about to pull up the covers) Huh?

Scott: How did you get there so fast? (audience squees) Oh shut up! Nothing’s gonna happen! (Enter Shizuku)

Shizuku Mizutani: Aha! I thought I’d find you here, Haru.

Haru: Ah crap! (Haru jumps out of bed and tries to make a run for it. Shizuku grabs his arm and motions him toward the door)

Shizuku: Honestly. I thought it was strange you’d come to a creepy place like this, all because you got an email from some weird yellow rabbit.

Scott: Yellow rabbit? You can’t mean–

Shizuku: That’s not important right now. You’ll find out soon enough.

Scott: Why though? I already know who it is. (Exit Shizuku and Haru, angry, but more at each other. Scott turns to Fafnir next) You here to hang out, too?

Fafnir: I guess. But I’d rather bring death and destruction to everyone around here.

Scott: Yeah… I can’t have you do that. You’re free to stay.

Fafnir: A wise decision. So, what games you got? I’d be more thrilled to stay if I played some video games.

Scott: What? I don’t have video games here.

Fafnir: You don’t?

Scott: Yeah. Why do you think Nanana wasn’t playing any in my last chapter?

Nanana: (from the audience) You still owe me pudding!

Fafnir: Seriously? What kind of house doesn’t have video games?

Scott: Uh, the house that exists in my mind? (awkward silence)

Fafnir: Your mind-house sucks. I’m outta here. (Exit Fafnir, pissed)

Scott: (aside) Huh. Maybe he’ll bring death to someone I don’t like this time. Anyway… (turns his attention back to the boys) Kakeru!

Kakeru Naruse: (appears to have been crying this whole time) Huh…

Scott: What are you doing here? Just let me know. I’ll listen, honest.

Kakeru: (sobs) It’s Naho. She doesn’t like me in this timeline after all! (Scott sits next to him on the couch and pats him on the back)

Scott: It’s okay, Kakeru. It happens. I’m sure Suwa will take good care of her. (Enter Suwa, interrupting)

Hiroto Suwa: Actually, she’s not interested in me either.

Scott: She’s not?

Suwa: Yeah. Apparently in this timeline, she got together with Takako.

Scott: Whoa. I totally didn’t see that coming.

Nagahide: 10 points!

Scott: Like… those two didn’t have any chemistry!

Suwa: Well it happened. Thought I’d bring him here to cheer him up. Also, some weird yellow rabbit thing insisted. (Kakeru cries some more)

Scott: Alright, look Kakeru. (Kakeru stops and listens) I’m only gonna say this once, because I really don’t want to upset the fan base any more than I already have. In 10 years, you’re going to find someone who’s so much better than Naho, she’s going to be jealous that she never gave you the chance. Sure, you’ll still be friends, but your partner will always serve as a reminder of what she missed out on.

Kakeru: Partner? Why are you being so gender neutral about this?

Scott: I don’t know. I’m leaving that up to you.

Kakeru: But I like girls!

Scott: Look, no one’s in control of what happens in your future except you. Trust your friends. Stand by them whenever you can. And take care of yourself. You’re going to be a great guy.

Kakeru: (sniffles, and nods) I’m still not sure. But I’ll do my best, Mister. (Kakeru and Scott give each other a hug. Scott gestures to Suwa to take him off his hands, and he obliges. Exit Kakeru and Suwa, feeling so-so).

Scott: Asuma, you’ve been awfully quiet this whole time.

Asuma Mutsumi: You finally noticed me, Senpai?

Scott: What? No, that — that doesn’t make sense. Anyway, I thought I paired you off with Kae at the end of my review. What are you doing here?

Asuma: Yeah, well she’s not interested in me right now. She said she’d rather see me get paired off with you.

Kae Serinuma: (from the audience) Go get him, Senpai!

Scott: Oh. Well that explains why she didn’t come for any of the previous chapters.

Asuma: Listen (grabs my hands) I will always love you. So how about we get out of here and have some fun? I’ll take you anywhere you’d like. My treat. Senpai. (audience squees again)

Nagahide: 50 points!

Scott: Dude, you say that about everyone. I never thought I’d say this, but that gets really old, really fast. So sorry. The answer’s still no.

Asuma: Oh. Okay then. (smiles cheerfully) I’ll just find someone else. (Exit Asuma, cheerful as ever)

Scott: Damn. How the hell does he have such a quick recovery time? Anyway, I guess that just leaves you, Louis.

Louis Andō: Well it’s about time. And seeing how I was your choice hasbando from your most popular post to date, I’ll make sure to win you over, my little flower.

Scott: Wait. You do know that I’m not Kohana, right? Tell me. She’s in the audience watching us, isn’t she?

Louis: Nope. I’m afraid not.

Scott: Why not?

Louis: Kohana’s the player character. She is anyone and everyone who plays the game.

Scott: Okay, but I’m not playing the game right now–

Louis: (grabs Scott by the hand and raises him to stand up with him) Shall we dance?

Scott: What? No. This seems out of place.

Louis: Is it really? Or have you just not tried?

Scott: Huh? Tried what?

Louis: You know. Dancing.

Scott: Well… No, not exactly. I only dance with myself, when nobody’s around.

Nagahide: Eww!

Louis: (laughs) Come dance with me. It’ll be fun.

Scott: But–

Louis: You’ll never know unless you try.

(As music blares in the background, Louis and Scott dance together, hand in hand. As if they were gliding across the floor in an entrancing tango. It feels strange at first, but after awhile, it feels rather enjoyable. As the music fades, Louis leans in, as if to steal a kiss. But at the last second, he doesn’t).

Scott: Wow. (Louis and Scott separate) That was… kind of embarrassing. But I’ll admit. It was still more fun than I thought.

Louis: Indeed it was, Scott. Unfortunately that’s all I can do for you.

Scott: Huh?

Louis: I only have eyes for Kohana. You on the other hand… remember this experience. And have fun with the one you love most. (winks)

Scott: Wait, what just–

Louis: Well, I’m off now. The culture festival committee is having another planning meeting. Adieu! (Exit Louis, charmed)

Scott: Did… did I just get rejected? By a guy?

Nagahide: (claps) Bravo, Scott! I knew you could do it. We all did. (audience nods)

Scott: Yeah, but… I still haven’t chosen my waifu. Or hasbando, if we’re playing by that rule.

Nagahide: That’s fine by me. (whispers) I already know who it is anyway.

Scott: You do?

Nagahide: Of course! I read your script ahead of time. I’m the Oda clan’s best strategist, you know. So I always have to stay one step ahead of everyone else.

Scott: Okay then. If you know who it is, why don’t you just tell me?

Nagahide: (laughs) I’m not as stupid as you to just spoil that information. Minus 10 points.

Scott: Yeah, I guess you’re right.

Nagahide: Alright, ladies and gentlemen. I think we’ve had enough fun with Scott today. It’s time for us to leave him alone, so he’s rested up for the next challenge. (Exit everyone except Scott and Nagahide) Oh, and one more thing, Scott.

Scott: What?

Nagahide: (kisses him on the cheek) That’s for remembering me after all these years. Thank you. (Scott rubs his cheek, dazed) Well, I’d better return to my point in history. You know. Be a guy again.

Scott: Eh!? Then why are you–

Nagahide: (presses her index finger against her lips) Sometimes it’s best not to ask. You did at least enjoy my company, didn’t you?

Scott: Well I’d hate to admit it, but… yeah. I did.

Nagahide: Excellent answer. Anyway, there’s one more hasbando left to visit you. In the meantime, get some sleep. You’ll need it. (chuckles) Sweet dreams! (Exit Nagahide, happily as ever)

Scott: (sigh) What a day. I really do need to get some sleep. (Enter Merry)

Merry: Yes you do!

Scott: What the– aw, no! She sent all the pillow boys, just because I did a yaoi gag review about you guys, didn’t she?

Merry: Nope. It’s just me! And YOU were the one who sent me!

Scott: What? That makes even less sense!

Merry: Oh, don’t be like that. You know I just want to help you relax as you drift away into dreamland.

Scott: Sure, whatever. Tell me, Merry. Don’t you think that all these fan fiction posts have already been an elaborate dream as it is? I feel like I’ve been sleeping this whole time, but I can’t really tell.

Merry: Huh?

Scott: It’s like… I’ve been talking to all of you, without a care that there might not be anyone else reading these thoughts, but me. And besides, none of what I imagine in these posts ever look like real life to me. I can do all of this stuff with you guys because I’m actively thinking about it. But how could I ever turn these experiences in reality, if I can only experience them in a dream-like state?

Merry: . . .

Scott: . . .

Merry: Wow, everyone was right about you. You DO talk too much!

Scott: I know.

Merry: Listen, just close your eyes. Don’t say another word. Let your mind wander some more. Relax.

Scott: Fine… (mumbles about how crazy all those girls and guys were. Then falls into a deep sleep.)

Merry: Yes. Everything you have experienced in these dialogues have been like a dream. Thoughts that have entered your mind, as you experience each of us through this blog. But there were people out there, real people, that you have wanted to say these words to in real life, but you never got the chance to. You couldn’t say what you have said to us because you were too afraid. Too afraid of being hurt. Rejected. Or even loved in return. We may not be real, but all the feelings you had for us certainly are. That’s how you have managed to manifest us in your reality. (A mysterious girl with glasses waves from outside the bedroom door. Merry raises his index finger to his lips, as the girl disappears. Merry gently caresses Scott’s forehead as he makes his way out of the room). When you wake up, you will no longer be inside the comfort of the home in your mind. You will be outside, in an unfamiliar place, surrounded only by others whom you have never loved, but they loved the person you have become. Listen to them. You might be surprised by what they have to say. (Merry gently caresses Scott’s forehead one last time before he stands up) Good night, True Lystria. You shall come to understand it all soon enough. (Exit Merry, grimacing)