Yu Yu Hakusho Fan Fiction ❯ Karaoke ( Chapter 3 )
Kuwabara fiddled with the microphone in the middle of the room while Yusuke and Hakumei sat on a circular, red couch and looked through thick binders of music. The place was lit like a night club and it was hard to see the print under the glossy plastic covers, especially when she was looking for the English titles, a language she only knew bits of because of two years of class and a love for foreign music that bordered on pretentious.
« Why are we looking through the English junk? I don’t even know what any of these are, » Yusuke said.
Hakumei shrugged and kept looking for a song she recognized. « I just like foreign music better, and since Kuwabara understood my Jessica Rabbit reference in class, I’m guessing he likes foreign stuff too. »
« Jessica who? »
She looked at Kuwabara to join her in pitying Yusuke’s regrettable ignorance. « She’s an American cartoon character. »
Kuwabara nodded sagely, leaning on the microphone stand. « Never knew you were such a patriot Urameshi. »
« What, like Disney and shit? They’re not that great. » Yusuke said, crossing his arms behind his head and sinking into the plush leather. « There’s nothing that they do in the states that can’t be done right here in good ol’ Japan. »
« Two words: no uniforms. Not that either of you wear the proper school uniforms anyway, » Hakumei said, eyeing Kuwabara’s uniform, two shades of blue too light, and Yusuke’s uniform, which wasn’t blue at all.
« Hey, I look better in green. »
« Uh huh, » Hakumei rolled her eyes, « About foreign music—the lyrics are definitely better. Take ‘Enter Sandman’ for example. »
Hakumei straightened up and cleared her throat. The gentle hum of electronics vanished with her intent to sing, and an eerie quiet rested over them like a wet veil. Yusuke and Kuwabara glanced at each other as Hakumei brought a finger to her lips.
« Hush little baby, don’t say a word. » Her eyes darted to the corners and the shadows sparked with the creaking of the building. « And never mind that noise you heard. It’s just the beast under your bead, in your closet… » The lights hummed above them, dimming, and before Yusuke knew it, Hakumei was whispering, voice deep and raspy, in his ear. « In your head…«
Yusuke jumped and nearly hit the ceiling. Kuwabara burst at the seams, clutching the mic stand for support. « It can’t believe you’ve never heard Metallica before! »
« Shut up! Like I have time to listen to that ridiculous pop band. »
« It’s not pop. It’s metal. » Hakumei said.
« You don’t really look like the metal-loving type, » Yusuke said.
« I listen to a lot of different genres I probably don’t look like I listen to, » Hakumei said, shrugging again. « Anyway, here’s my sample of typical Japanese lyrics. »
« Well this oughta be good, » Yusuke said, irritated.
Hakumei didn’t bother singing or making a beat for the Japanese hit « Romantic Solider. » She spoke in mockery of the ridiculous trying-too-hard poetry of the lyrics, throwing the back of her hand over her eyes as if overcome with emotion.
« Oh soul, dried up by loneliness, right now, let courage bloom! Just like a red rose blooming in the dark earth. Everyone is a soldier, fighting with themselves. Overcoming suffering, looking for tomorrow, soldier of love.«
« Hey, you don’t do it any justice if you don’t even try, » Yusuke said. Hakumei fanned herself and fell backward onto the couch, the momentum swinging her legs up and into Yusuke’s lap. He pretended her skirt didn’t fly up in his face and pushed off. Her feet hit the floor with a swift thud. « I happen to like that song. »
« Seriously? » Hakumei said, eyebrows twisted at Yusuke as she propped herself up on her elbows. « Because it’s kind of, well… » She paused, searching for a more delicate way to say it. She got nothing. « It’s kind of lame. »
« Careful, babe, » Kuwabara snickered, « You might hurt his widdle feelings. »
« It’s not lame. Besides, it reminds me of someone I know, » Yusuke said through gritted teeth.
« Hehe, really? So how does Keiko feel about your boyfriend? »
« You realize I can kill you, right? »
« Any day, Urameshi! You just say the words! »
« Do I have to separate you two? » Hakumei asked.
Yusuke and Kuwabara sat on opposite ends of the couch and refused to look at each other. Hakumei shook her head and continued to look through the titles. « Sorry » by Sweetbox. That might be a good one.
Yusuke opened an eye and glanced at her, « So why are we here, again? Didn’t you do imitations for the last talent show? » he asked. « Can’t you just do the same thing? »
« Yeah, but I doubt Mr. Fujiwara wants us to duplicate our performances, » she said. « How’d you know? »
« Keiko played the clarinet. She would have killed me if I missed it. I saw you, » Yusuke turned to smirk at Kuwabara, « And you, cutting a rug like some sort of Michael Jackson. »
« I thought you didn’t like foreign music, » Kuwabara said, blushing.
« It’s Michael Jackson, come on. He’s only famous everywhere. »
« I have to agree with Yusuke on that one, » Hakumei said.
It went on like this. Talking, discussing music, picking out songs and playing a few. Kuwabara sang Thunderstruck and Hakumei had to explain to Yusuke that ACDC was Australian, and not American. Kuwabara and Hakumei complained about homework because Yusuke never went to school long enough to share that pain, and Yusuke said he could out sing any foreign singer in the karaoke books.
« You want to bet? » Hakumei asked. She had this in the bag if he did.
« Oh ho! It ain’t gambling if it’s a sure thing, » Yusuke said, sitting up. « What did you have in mind, Issei? »
« You can’t make a bet with a girl, Urameshi. What if she loses? »
« Uh, then I believe she’ll have to pay up. »
« Relax Kuwabara. It’s not gambling if it’s a sure thing, right? » Hakumei took the mic and flipped the song to « …Baby One More Time. »
« Hey, I thought I was singing, » Yusuke said, reaching for the mic. Hakumei waved her arm around trying to keep it out of his reach.
« Oh, you will be, » Hakumei smiled. She stepped around Yusuke and hit play before he could stop her. « I do imitations, remember? »
« I’d like to retract my bet— »
« Oh ba-by ba-by, how was I sup-posed to-know…«
« Damn. »
It was Yusuke’s voice, every intonation, every hit of gravel, every note of don’t-give-a-damn. And not only was it his voice, but also his manner. Hakumei sang the song the way Yusuke would sing it, given the circumstances, overdone, overdramatic, and wailing at the top of his lungs. She could practically see him pelvic-thrusting during the chorus, completely hamming it up, though she kept her own pelvis in check.
She went deeper, ha, into the sound of him, focusing on pushing his voice out of her throat, but something was catching at her vocal cords, an offbeat that didn’t want to be mimicked—couldn’t be mimicked—an offbeat that had been there, hovering over Yusuke since his accident.
« Tell me ba-by ’cause I need to know now. Oh—«
She stopped, chilled. Not right washed over the room and she remembered the fear she had felt when she ran into Yusuke earlier that day. She took a step back from the boys. Yusuke and Kuwabara stared at her with their mouths open.
« And this has proven that Yusuke cannot sing better than Britney Spears? » Hakumei said, uncertain. Did they notice the subtle changes in the atmosphere like she did? Was this an awkward situation or was it just her? She put the mic back on the stand and twisted her shirt hem around her fingers. « I win? »
Yusuke and Kuwabara were stunned, wide-eyed, for what seemed like forever. Then, like a volcano preparing to blow, Yusuke bit his lip, holding back a laugh like molten lava, his entire body quaking with the effort.
« That was awesome! » he erupted. « You sounded just like me! »
Kuwabara fell backward, making Hakumei jump, laughing so hard he was crying into the couch cushions. « Yeah, awful, » he choked, wiping away the tears.
« It wasn’t that bad. »
« Not that bad? Iwamoto could have done a better job! You suck! »
« And you did any better? Mr. DCAC? »
« It’s ACDC, jackass, and I was awesome. »
« Whatever. »
Hakumei smiled. So she might be just little bit awkward, but maybe that was okay.
After an hour of squabbling over karaoke, Kuwabara and Hakumei decided that jazz wasn’t their best bet. After being so wound up they just didn’t have the patience for it, and they eventually went with « Sorry » instead. After picking the song they went out for burgers. Hakumei didn’t have any money, but Kuwabara gave her his fries and after some convincing, Yusuke shared his fries as well, unwilling to part with all of them.
« You’re sure you don’t need me to walk you home, baby? » Kuwabara asked.
« No thank you. I take the metro anyway. I’ll be fine. » Hakumei said.
« Leave the girl alone ya pervert, » Yusuke said, grabbing Kuwabara’s shoulders and twirling him around. « Besides, we go this way. » Yusuke waved as he walked, pulling Kuwabara along with him.
Hakumei waved back and started home, smiling. When she was out of sight Yusuke said, « I like the chick, but there’s something weird about her, you know? »
Kuwabara nodded. « Yeah, I get a tickle when she talks, but it’s so small that sometimes I don’t even notice… If we didn’t have this project together, I’d never have noticed it at all. »
« I wonder if she knows she’s got spirit energy, » Yusuke said, « It kind of seemed like she was aware of us as well. »
« Should we tell the pretty lady? »
« Who? You mean Botan? Man, you really need to get your love affairs in order. »
« Shut up. »
« Look, the way I see it, Issei’s not doing anything different than usual, right? So she’s a little aware. It’s not like she’s going to start hunting demons because we shared our fries with her now is she? »
« Yeah, you’re probably right. » Kuwabara shoved his hands in his pockets as they crossed the street to the next block. « So… » he said, face glowing, « Hakumei kind of lost track of her legs there for a second. »
« Yup. »
« Did you see her panties? »
Yusuke’s face scrunched together, his shoulders slightly raised, hands out as if asking a question. « Dude, she was wearing tights. »
« Cock block. »
Hakumei got home before the Watanabe’s. The house was dark, but Hakumei rarely used the lights when she was alone. There was residual light from outside creeping through the windows, but she didn’t need it. Hakumei closed her eyes and listened to the settling building she had come to call home. Without the distraction of homework, without Yusuke’s infectious laughter and Kuwabara’s passion, Keiko’s kindness… She was left with Mr. Fujiwara telling her that this place wasn’t allowed to be her home any longer, and the glow that she had from hanging out with people outside of class for the first time was gone before she could even take her boots off.
The hum of appliances, the soft plunk of her footfalls on the floor… What was she going to do? She stopped in front of a row of photos hanging in the hallway, pictures of the children taken by their mother before she died.
What would they do?
In Daisuke’s photo he was missing his front teeth, which had fallen out and come back in much quicker than his older sisters’. The triplets all had the same pixie haircut and matching swimsuits, polka dots with little ruffles around the bottom.
It had been a long time since her kids had seen the water, but she had been slowly working on getting Mr. Watanabe to fund a trip to the beach by the Shinkirou Temple, a place she had researched as having the most beautiful shorelines closest to the city. As far as she knew, the land was open to the public. She might not have to do more research if Mr. Fujiwara had his way.
She sighed and turned toward her room when she heard something buzzing behind her, no, ahead now. Did she leave a window open? It’s been hot out so that was a possibility. The buzzing was louder, and then it stopped as quickly as it began… another buzz followed by a grotesque squishing. There.
Hakumei turned to see an insect about as big as her fist. Green with a crown of red dots, it was an ugly, slimy, six-legged thing with wings and a needle-like stinger, and it had landed on the door to the triplets’ room. Hakumei, doing what any other girl would have done in her situation, screamed and swung her book bag at the bug with enough force to open the door and send it flying into the wall behind it. The sound of the impact had her clutching her ears, but the strange bug had met its untimely end, blood and guts an electric shade of blue splattered across the door and, to Hakumei’s chagrin, her book bag.
Hakumei was about to get some tissue to clean off her book bag when she heard it again. Buzzing. She looked up and saw Hana’s bed crawling with more enormous bugs. Hakumei rubbed her eyes. No matter how many times she blinked, they were still there, crawling around on Hana’s sun-shaped pillows. With unnatural calm, Hakumei turned, walked into the kitchen, and grabbed a flyswatter out from under the sink. There was a peculiar gleam in her eye as she entered the triplets’ bedroom, looming over the handful of insects that had taken a liking to Hana’s bed. She smiled.
She wiped their guts off on the plastic lining of the wastebasket under their desk. Satisfied that their room was quiet and bug free, Hakumei headed toward her own room. She was about to relax and rehearse, until she heard the buzzing again.
Hakumei sat on Hana’s bed, doing homework and swatting at the occasional bug that had escaped her during her previous extermination. That’s where Ayame found her when Mr. Watanabe brought the kids home from cram school.
« What are you doing? » she asked as Hakumei was wiping more guts onto the wastebasket liner.
« Just killing some bugs. »
Ayame bent over to see the deceased offenders in the trash, but the liner was clean. « What bugs? »
« What do you mean ‘what bugs’? There’s enough guts in here to string a guitar, » Hakumei said, incredulous.
« You’re weird Sis, » Ayame said before going back downstairs to explain the fact to her siblings.
Hakumei rolled her eyes and went back to work, but the flyswatter was clean.
« What? »
She held the flyswatter in front of her face; the orange plastic was unblemished, as was the wastebasket liner.
« Am I losing it or what? »