inarticulate: Kazama from Gakkowa as a tentacled alien. (glory to sunbaralia!)
Lepidopteran ([personal profile] inarticulate) wrote in [community profile] tentacles2013-04-13 01:01 pm

[Gakkou de atta Kowai Hanashi] Believe In Who We'll Be [1/?] [wip]

Title: Believe In Who We'll Be
Chapter: 1/?
Fandom: Gakkou de atta Kowai Hanashi
Pairing: Sakagami Shuuichi/Kazama Nozomu
Word Count: 3421
Notes: This is a WIP, with all the warnings that implies. For content notes, the AO3 link has tags. Also, [personal profile] karayan is my hero. ♥

Summary: The story of a boy's arranged marriage to an alien. Shuuichi doesn't like the idea, but he's not going to go up against his parents or the newly-formed treaty protecting the Earth from their new Sunbaralian overlords. Kazama is just happy to have an ally in the school ze's infiltrating.

Alt link: At AO3

The day the Sunbaralian Invasion broadcast on the news should have been the worst day of Sakagami Shuuichi's short life. He was fourteen and fresh to his final year of middle school, waiting impatiently for his sister to finish toasting their bread so that he wouldn't have to go to school on an empty stomach. The television blared in the background. Their mother had granted them the use of the kitchen so that Shuuichi wouldn't risk losing his perfect school attendance record, and so that she could go to the store and pick up some vegetables.

He only became aware of the report because Kazuko stopped paying attention to the toast and started to stare at the television instead. "The toast," Shuuichi said, then louder. "What about the toast?"

"Seriously?" Kazuko muttered under her breath, but she turned back to the toast with a shake of her head, and Shuuichi was free to glance over at what had caught her attention. There was a young woman sitting there, her posture perfect and her smile charming, explaining in a very serious voice that yes, there were aliens, no, this wasn't a hoax, but not to worry because the world's governments were already negotiating for peace.

Shuuichi whipped his head back around. "Did you change the channel?" he asked, picking at the hem of his shirt.

"Nope," Kazuko said placidly. "That's still mom's news."

"It's not very funny," Shuuichi grumbled, but a seed of doubt caught in his mind and dragged his gaze back to the television. Kazuko handed him his toast, too hot, and he didn't even complain about burnt fingertips.

Aliens. What kind of person would take something like that seriously, even if it was being broadcast on a major news outlet? It was probably someone's bad idea for a prank. Except, for a prank, it was very thorough. Shuuichi forgot to look at the clock as the television cut to interviews, to experts, to people crowding in the streets with shouts that could either be celebration or fear. Kazuko sat down next to him at some point, until Shuuichi became aware of the passage of time and finally checked his watch.

That was his perfect attendance record, gone.

He couldn't remember exactly how the day went after that moment until his parents arrived, just that at some point he had started trembling and Kazuko had to hold him as belief caught hold of him and sank its claws in. There were flashes of some kind of biologist explaining that the Sunbaralians-- the aliens had a name-- most closely resembled Earth's marine cephalopods, of a tearful man saying that he'd always dreamed this would happen.

But the moment when his parents came home burned forever in Shuuichi's memory.

They came through the door together, which was odd, because his father worked salaryman hours and his mother had only been out shopping-- hadn't she? And they were smiling, which was even stranger, because if they knew about the alien invasion, they wouldn't be. Shuuichi's mind clicked the pieces together and he sat up, hopeful that they were about to get information about how this hoax had been pulled off and why.

Instead, his mother pulled off her head. Or, rather, she pulled off the human mask that was hiding a different head that looked too large to fit in the space her human head had occupied.

Shuuichi's stomach grew tight with nausea as he looked at the skin-- shell? bone? curving into a shape like an ammonite shell, as he looked at the tentacles wriggling down her neck. He'd wanted to throw up, but he hadn't, somehow. All he could think was that his mother was dead, that she had been replaced by an alien, that it was all true and he just wanted time to stop and go back to the way things had been. But before he could yell or scream or cry, his father leaned over and kissed his mother in that same fond manner he always had.

He looked at Shuuichi and Kazuko, as though he hadn't just kissed an alien in his wife's skin, and beamed. "Thank goodness we don't have to hide this from you anymore."

"I was at the store when I heard the news," the alien in his mother's skin said, and it was still her voice. "And of course I had to rush outside and call your father! So many people were using the public phone, so it took a while. And then, of course, I had to go back to the store to pick up the vegetables, and it turned out they had cakes, as well!" She held out the shopping bag, her tentacles writhing and slapping against her neck.

Shuuichi couldn't even react. He could only stare. It was Kazuko who said, her voice dry, "Weren't most people using the pay phone because they were worried?"

Their father sat down at the table with them, his face wide-open and earnest. Shuuichi tore his gaze away from the alien. Don't stare, it's not polite. He focused his gaze on the table, instead. "It must be a lot to take in; we realize that," he said, and that was the moment when Shuuichi realized that he had to be an alien, too.

His father had explanations, calm and logical and mild, a story about two Sunbaralian advance agents given the task of blending in on Earth and falling in love. But what convinced Shuuichi that they were his parents and not imposters was the way his mother bustled around the kitchen, humming the song she always did as she prepared the meal. That was the moment when Shuuichi leaned over and turned the television off, when he started crying because he didn't know what else to do. Kazuko patted his back and made soothing noises, and his father said something about time and getting used to it, how it had been hard for them, too.

His mother shooed them both away and put her hand on Shuuichi's shoulder. "We love you both very much," she said, and even if Shuuichi couldn't look at her without flinching, her voice was gentle. "We knew what we were doing when we chose to raise human children, and even if the negotiations fall apart, we'll take care of you. You're our children. We'll protect you."

Shuuichi only cried harder, and after that he had to close himself in his room. He went to bed that night with his thoughts bleaker than they had ever been and no hope visible along the horizon. But he woke up the next morning to light streaming in through his window, and his mother's head was still bare when he emerged to eat breakfast.

And so life went on. The fear that had nearly consumed him faded as he finished middle school and started high school. He joined the Newspaper Club and worked hard on his assigned articles. He got good grades. He did decently in gym. His perfect attendance record started anew, and he dragged himself to school every day, determined to keep it this time.

And then the negotiations ended, eight days after his sixteenth birthday.

"You did what?" Shuuichi stared at the whorled patterns on his mother's head as she bustled around the kitchen, trying to decipher the precise writhe of her tentacles. He wished, not for the first time, that she would just wear her human head indoors so that he could actually read her expressions. She could be joking and he would never know. Please, please her be joking. "Are you serious?"

"Really, Shuuichi, of course I'm serious," she said. "This is a joyous occasion! A pool of peace! But without this contract, Sunbaralia could still try to take the two of you away." She opened one of the cabinets. "This peace is a fragile thing, like the Kafuian takeover. Too much pressure and it will break apart like an egg. Oh, eggs, eggs, I need to buy eggs."

Kazuko, apparently unconcerned, reached out to snag a shrimp chip from the middle of the table. "Don't get so worked up, baby bro," she said. "It's just marriage. It happens to everyone eventually." She grinned and kicked at his ankle with one foot. Even though the touch was light, it hurt. "Besides, think of how many people there are on the planet. There are going to be so many applicants. We don't have to worry about it."

"You're not worried at all?" Shuuichi looked hard at his sister as he moved his legs to the other side of the chair, but she just flicked a smile back at him and resumed snacking. Maybe she was right. Maybe he was getting ahead of himself after all. But he didn't think that many people would be volunteering for a political marriage with alien overlords. How many people were even really going to believe this would bring peace? He couldn't imagine that, even on a planet with billions of people, they were going to find much more than the required ninety-eight ready to sacrifice their lives.

"There's nothing to worry about in any case," his mother said. She came over to tap Shuuichi lightly on the head with one tentacle. "The empire has picked only the kindest and most distinguished young candidates, and all of them have spent time on Earth as we have."

That wasn't the problem, Shuuichi wanted to say, but he bit his tongue. He could see his mother's head start to deepen in hue, and he exchanged a look with Kazuko. Despite all the reasons she gave, Shuuichi wondered if she just wanted Sunbaralian in-law.

Kazuko crunched thoughtfully on her chips, her eyes going distant. "Actually," she said, "we're probably not the best candidates for political marriage anyway. Think about it; we're already a success story for the negotiators. Two human children raised by Sunbaralian parents." She flicked crumbs at Shuuichi, and he frowned. "So you can stop fussing. No Sunbaralian is going to want to be stuck with your ugly face."

"Oh, no, you both have very cute faces," their mother said before Shuuichi could feel reassured in the slightest. "Any Sunbaralian would be lucky to have you. Just as we are."

"Mom," Shuuichi mumbled. Embarrassment and horror curled around his internal organs. He glared at Kazuko, but she only shrugged.

"It would still be a terrible move, politically," she said. "We want more humans and Sunbaralians interacting, not less."

"Do they even know about us?" Shuuichi couldn't help pointing out. "I thought mom and dad were protecting us. Just like we're protecting them."

"Weeell," their mother said. She sat down in her chair. "Our superior officers know, of course, as it was part of our cover. But we've kept you out of reports for quite a while, and they certainly don't know that you know that we're Sunbaralian." We're doomed, Shuuichi thought. He groaned and put his head down on the table. His mother tapped him lightly with a tentacle again. "If you have this much time to worry, why don't you set the table while I finish up with dinner?"

Shuuichi sighed. "Yes, mom."

Shuuichi tried to pay attention in Newspaper Club, but he didn't think he was doing a very good job of it. Hino gave him a glance as he came in, but Shuuichi kept his head down and tried to take notes so that he wouldn't have to worry about remembering everything being said. Everything about deadlines and articles and layout space went right over his head, though, clouded as his mind was with thoughts about the treaty, about marriage. Halfway through the meeting, the girl next to him-- Kurata, he thought her name was-- nudged a piece of paper in front of him with are you okay? written on it, and he realized his hands were shaking.

He didn't answer Kurata's question, but he nodded without looking at her and adjusted his grip on his pen.

"Sunbaralia," Hino announced towards the end, and Shuuichi's head snapped up without conscious thought. "Someone needs to do an article on the Sunbaralian treaty."

Shuuichi choked on his own spit and hunched his shoulders to try to keep his coughing from being noticeable. His ears felt hot, and he hoped that Hino didn't somehow know about Shuuichi's situation. How could he? That was impossible, right? When he finally dared to look up into the sudden silence, he saw that the rest of the club looked confused.

"What does that have to do with the school?" one of the upperclassmen asked. "It's going to be all over the regular news." He scratched his head, and Shuuichi put his head down again, quietly hoping that he would keep arguing with Hino.

"It affects all of us," Hino said, apparently unperturbed. "Think about it; you all expected this day would come, but now it's finally here. How does it affect us, the students of this new world? And in this new world, the terms of the treaty… which have the potential to affect not only Japan, but the entire world. We may not be dead, but the Sunbaralians are our masters." He spoke quietly, but his voice rang through the entire room. "We are the children of this new world. Don't you think we should write about it?"

It was true, Shuuichi thought, which was the worst part. Just because he didn't want to think about how everything was changing didn't mean it would stop. The world kept on turning, and everyone's lives along with it. Which was the point of the treaty in the first place. And then another thought occurred to him: what if he wrote the article? The thought made his insides freeze with horror at the same time as his skin overheated, but who knew what anyone else would write? He looked up, his heart pounding hard enough that he felt like his whole body was rattling.

Hino's gaze turned to him. "Sakagami, do you have something to say?" he said, his tone encouraging.

"I--" he started.

"I'll write the article!" Kurata chirped from beside him, her voice a little too high. "Ah-- I'm sorry, I didn't mean to--" She blushed and ducked her head before smiling at Shuuichi. "I didn't mean to interrupt. I'd just really like this opportunity, if nobody minds?"

"No, I," Shuuichi said dizzily. "I didn't have anything to say." He shrugged an apology in Hino's direction and stared down at the papers in front of him. "Sorry, Hino-senpai."

Kurata ducked her head as well. "Sorry, Hino-senpai," she echoed.

"Yes," Hino said after a long moment. "I'm glad you're so eager, but perhaps next time you could wait." He cleared his throat and looked down at his notebook. "Then that leaves the Student Spotlight feature. Sakagami, I'm sorry, but it looks like you're the only one not doing anything for the newspaper…"

"I'll do it," Shuuichi agreed hastily. "It sounds like fun." He tried a smile, but he wasn't sure it sat right on his face. "Who would I be interviewing?"

"One of the seniors, I think. I know there would be some interest if you interviewed Iwashita Akemi, from class A." Hino smiled. "If you think you're up for it. There's no shame if you aren't, just have an article for me by the end of the week. That--" he raised his voice slightly-- "goes for all of you. Work hard, and we'll have a decent product."

"Yes, sir," everyone chorused, Shuuichi among them, and then the meeting was over.

Shuuichi left the room feeling like he'd been hit in the head with a brick, dazed and unsettled, his head spinning and his stomach twisting. He walked to the boy's bathroom to wash his face, drying it carefully with his towel and examining his reflection in the mirror. He didn't look any different, any older, not even as tired as he felt. But he didn't look like someone who was ready to be considered for marriage, either.

When he left the bathroom, he nearly ran into Kurata, who was passing by in the hall. She immediately stepped back and bowed a hasty apology. "I'm sorry, Sakagami-san," she said, smoothing her fingers over her skirt. "I wasn't looking where I was going, and… I'm sorry if you wanted the article."

"No." Shuuichi shook his head. "I mean, it's okay, I really didn't want the article."

"Oh," she breathed. "That's a relief. I was so worried, I didn't want to step on any toes! It's just, all the things my parents read are so dire, and I thought that I didn't really want anything like that in the newspaper when we're just students. So I thought I could do something a little more hopeful."

"That's nice of you," Shuuichi offered. Then, thinking back to the sorts of things he heard, he added, "And it's probably better that our school doesn't get labeled as a bunch of dissenters."

Kurata frowned at the floor. "I really don't think it would? I mean, everyone says that, but none of the newspapers that talk about how terrible this is going to be have been shut down yet, and it's probably worse in other places. America's got guns, and the Sunbaralians haven't executed anyone yet. They're just letting us be, so long as we become part of their empire."

Shuuichi opened his mouth, ready to say something like that we know of or not yet, but nothing came out. His parents still wouldn't walk through the door of their apartment without their human heads on, wouldn't open the curtains because his mother preferred her tentacles to be free. They didn't want to risk having to shoot a human in self-defense, she'd told him once. They liked humans.

"I'm sorry," Kurata murmured. "It's very selfish of me, thinking these things, I'm sure. But not that much has changed yet, and maybe it won't. I'd like to be optimistic."

"Yeah," Shuuichi managed. It was like Kazuko said; he probably wouldn't get picked, and then he could go about his life and not worry about anything more than his parents getting unmasked or a new transfer student having tentacles. He forced himself to breathe normally. "I'll see you around, Kurata."

"Right!" She smiled and waved goodbye as she walked off. Shuuichi leaned against the wall once she was gone and stared up at the ceiling for too long before he made his way home.

It had been over a year from the time negotiations had started to the time they'd ended. Shuuichi had been hoping that the betrothal arrangements would take a similar amount of time. But only a few days later, there was an envelope on the table and his mother's hands clasped together, her tentacles writhing wildly. "Welcome home!" she said, and the pleased pride in her voice made Shuuichi simultaneously want to puff up and slink out the door.

He stared at the envelope. "I'm home," he said.

"Oh, congratulations, Shuuichi!" His mother rushed over him to give him a hug. She seemed to have forgotten that he hadn't wanted this, that this had been her idea.

He sighed and didn't protest her congratulations.

"You'll find the name of your spouse in the envelope, they said," she said, and then Shuuichi did wince, because her tentacles were getting sticky. He pulled away as nicely as he could and gave her a sickly smile. "Oh, my little boy is growing up so well!"

"I'm," Shuuichi said, "I'm just going to…" He trailed off and edged closer to the table to grab the envelope before his courage deserted him. He glanced back at his mother, but she stayed where she was, her hands clasped together in front of her face again. His throat tight, he fled to his room, closing the door quietly and sinking down to the floor when his legs wouldn't support him any longer.

Shuuichi unfolded the envelope with nerveless hands and gazed at the words written there before they resolved into words. The Sunbaralian Empire congratulates you on your upcoming nuptials with v^vSACEDSFIKJW. The last was written in roman letters, and Shuuichi boggled at it for a moment before realizing there were furigana over it. "Viivisasedosufikujowa," he said aloud, slowly. "Viivisasedosufikujowa." He mouthed it a couple more times before despair set in and he crumpled the paper. He tossed it away and pulled his knees up to his chest to bury his face against them.

Shuuichi was getting married. He didn't cry.

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