Sometime after Yeonji left, I heard indistinct voices between Yeonji and the nurse. They were followed by sounds of the infirmary doors opening and closing.
Then, a highly unnatural cough resounded. It was Yeonji's signal.
Yeonji had successfully lured the nurse outside, however she did it. Already prepared to jump out, I hastily bolted out from behind the curtains. I dashed into the open room.
A glance into the room showed nothing out of the ordinary, betraying our expectation that something major was to be found inside. There was a bookshelf against a wall, full of medical books and documents. Few couches crowded around a short coffee table in the center.
There was nothing that was special or extraordinary in this room, disregarding maybe the mini-fridge in the corner. Nonetheless, something caught my attention.
It was a computer.
Attached to an 18-inch-or-so monitor, there was a perfectly ordinary desktop computer sitting on a desk with its screen facing away to the back wall.
I checked the monitor; the computer was logged out. I needed the password to investigate further.
...So, she had something to hide, after all.
And thus, my priority target for surveillance became this computer. I quickly spied the surrounding area.
To get a nice view of the monitor... there's... nowhere to put the camcorder!
The desk was too close to a nearby wall so that only a single chair could fit in between. There was no optimal location to place my device. I momentarily panicked.
Quickly, I pulled out a chair out from under the desk, and then I stood on it with my shoes off. I was racing against time, so I chose the immediately available option; I chose a place on the very top of the bookshelf, to the left of the computer. Fortunately, there were many cardboard boxes for electronics resting on the shelves, so I placed the camcorder in one of the inconspicuous crevices in between.
The camcorder was only getting an elevated view of the monitor at an angle from above. However, I could not be too choosy, considering my situation at the time. I quickly pushed the chair back in and jumped back in my shoes to leave.
... I felt like I was playing out a situation from some H-game that I played a while back. It was quite a confusing experience.
Same day, after school,
After the completion of the first stage of 'Operation: Capture the Infirmary', we retreated back to our temporary outpost (my room) to discuss our next move.
...I completely gave up trying to stop Mom. I hoped to at least get some good information from the camcorder that I had installed.
Yeonji's fourth appearance at my house had left me as serious as Yeonji about acquiring the clubroom, so we finally had a serious, joke-free meeting... but sadly, there was nothing to discuss.
Well, really, after I installed that camcorder, any more work was only going to be more trouble. Without taking a trip to the infirmary tomorrow to retrieve that camcorder for our findings, there was nothing to talk about. The only thing we could maybe talk about was what we would do if there was nothing caught on the camera.
Yeonji, who already proclaimed the title of Clotaku Club President for herself, commented on the subject,
"Hmm? It'll be fine, probably. Tomorrow, we'll see everything that we need on film, for sure."
I wish I knew where she was getting all this courage. I swear she has endorphins flowing in her body instead of blood.
"Heh... Otakus know Otakus. The moment I saw her face, I knew that this girl was an irredeemable Otaku. I couldn't miss that opportunity."
Said Yeonji, as the eminent leader of the Otaku social order. As an aside, I did not suspect the nurse to be an Otaku at all when I saw her. I'm an Otaku, too!
It was only wasted effort to have a meeting between an unabashedly optimistic person and an unashamedly pessimistic person. As loathsome as it would be to crush the hopes of a person anticipating fortunes from a single lottery ticket, I left Yeonji in her own happy dreams.
... And, if this was all she planned on doing, why did she even come over to my house? I grumbled under my breath at Yeonji, who was now excited like a little brat before Christmas.
"By the way, this afternoon, how did you lure the nurse outside?"
"...You really want to hear it?"
"...No, I don't, sorry."
Looks like we all made sacrifices on that day.
* * *
At the second day of Operation: Capture the Infirmary,
Yeonji and I were waiting outside the infirmary like vultures waiting for fresh road kill. Again, it was our precious lunchtime; Yeonji's patience was as thin as the atmosphere of Mars, so it was no surprise that she wanted to see the contents of the camcorder as early as possible. As if trying to prove my thought correct, Yeonji's face shone brightly like the face of a farmer seeing his yearly harvest.
...Why aren't you starving?!
For two days straight, I had faced the travesty of having to miss the opportunity to have my lunch, but Yeonji was unfaltering. I protested that we should return after school, no, after at least having something to eat, but Yeonji looked at me like I was her bratty little brother (freakin' annoying) and said,
"Hmph, and you call yourself a man. Sometime before, I fasted for two whole days and I was fine. I realized then that the saying, 'necessity has no law' is a complete lie."
"...I bet you were just playing visual novels instead."
Personally, I believe that the government should send people like her away on an exchange program to Somalia or someplace.
While I vented my frustrations through imagining vengeance against Yeonji, she quietly spied inside the infirmary. Then she remarked in a focused tone,
"The atmosphere is the same from yesterday. That woman, she must be hiding in that same room. Then, let's go in! I'll go in first this time."
"Wait, you're really going in first?"
"If we go in the same order as before, she might get suspicious. At least I can make excuses about how it still hasn't ended for me."
What hasn't ended, exactly?
I did not believe that the matter was the order we went in, since we were already incredibly suspicious for having been here only yesterday.
I was filled with doubts and worries, and yet Yeonji seemed completely relaxed like nothing could go wrong. Like an army general leading her troops from the forefront, Yeonji raised her fist and shouted,
"Alright, let's go get our camcorder back! The mission is like yesterday; we group up at the beds behind the curtains, and I plan out a perfect lure. Then, we get back the camcorder and use the contents to discuss, I mean, threaten... Ni-hee-hee~!"
Why did it have to go from 'discuss' to 'threaten'? It was also quite saddening, seeing her get overly gleeful about it.
I thought about how I would calm Yeonji down if there were nothing on the camcorder, and saw Yeonji off.
Wait, hold on.
I asked a question that had suddenly popped into my head, just as Yeonji turned around to leave.
"Hey, if you're going in first, what kind of excuse do I make up for going in with you?"
"Use the trick from yesterday, you idiot. You can rub your own forehead or something."
... I'm pretty sure she said 'there's no way I'd do something as stupid as that' before, and there she was, telling me to do just that.
After waiting for an appropriate length of time, I opened the infirmary door and took a step inside.
Of course, the 'necessary duration' refers to the length of time required for my forehead to receive enough heat energy from frictional work. Rubbing my own forehead in a middle of a hallway was, subjectively and probably objectively, pretty damn stupid-looking. If anyone saw me, I could be blackmailed for a new reason.
Hoping that I would never encounter the words 'I know what you did last infirmary visit', I went further inside the infirmary for the second time.
Needless to say, nothing had changed inside, like the strong smell of the medicines unique to an infirmary, or the stupidly prominent 'self-aid-service' desk, or the needlessly abundant beds.
Surely nothing had changed since yesterday.
But what was this feeling that something wasn't right?
I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there had to be some sort of a problem. Nevertheless, I knocked on the door to the back room as planned and called the nurse. It could have been problematic if my buff duration ran out while hesitating.
When I knocked, a sleepy voice called out from within, like a koala that stuffed itself with eucalyptus leaves.
If she taught language in this school instead of being a nurse, she could very easily make an entire class fall into slumbers with only her voice.
The door opened.
"Okay, what kind of sickne-... Oh, my, it's you again~..."
The nurse again covered the view inside her room upon exit. She formed a curious expression on her face.
Okay, my description of 'curious expression' was only based off of the nurse raising her eyebrows very slightly, but anyway.
"Yeah, I'm still sick from yesterday..."
I quickly answered, as I noticed a feeling of suspicion was mixed into her glare. Honestly, if I really had headaches and high fever for two days straight, I'd just take a trip to a proper hospital.
"...That's a big problem. Do you have any other symptoms?"
The nurse asked with one hand supporting her chin.
"Uhh, umm... No, not really."
When I said I had a fever yesterday, she used her hand to take my temperature. Then, I wonder what she'd do if I were sick anywhere else?!
-The thought made me briefly squirm, but I managed to form an answer in good time. I feared that Yeonji might have an amazing auditory sense, so that she could catch everything wrong that I may say.
"Hmm... Is that so."
Drawing small circles with her finger on her gently curved chin, the nurse added,
"I guess a simple treatment wouldn't work... Wanna get an injection on your butt?"
What are you saying?!
I was in utter shock. The nurse narrowed her eyes and gently laughed.
"...I'm kidding. I'm actually not that good with syringes. Here, take these pills and lie down for a bit. It should be more effective than the ones from yesterday."
The nurse took out a bottle of medicine from one of her many pockets, and gave me two pills.
And in another pocket, a small water bottle came out. That gown was surprisingly well-equipped.
The nurse fixed a gaze at me after handing over the water bottle, instead of going back inside the room. I had to swallow the pills.
Thanks to Yeonji, I got to take so many drugs that I never needed to.
"Good. Now, go over to that bed and lie down."
The nurse smiled brightly as I awkwardly handed the water bottle back. It was a mature smile unlike Yeonji's, I'd say; it was pretty nice to look at.
The nurse retreated to her room after I returned both bottles to her. I rushed over to the beds where Yeonji had planned to be.
There lay a girl, short in stature, with jet-black hair.
From my memory, this was the same girl who yelled at me just yesterday, 'What are you doing, sleeping in this place like an idiot?!'
"Hey, hey, come on, Seo Yeonji, hey, get up!"
Yeonji nodded off like a chick vigorously pecking at seeds. I lightly tapped on her cheeks, but her only replies were sleepy groans. I felt helpless for a moment.
After much consideration, I pinched her baby-smooth cheek.
Yeonji jumped up in surprise and opened her eyes.
She woke up, but her eyes were unfocused, unaware of her surroundings.
With a blank, sheepish face, she sucked a long drool back inside her mouth. Oh god.
No matter how cute she is, disgusting things remained disgusting.
While I discovered my new appreciation for the clear boundary between reality and imagination, Yeonji began waking up. She wiped her mouth with her sleeves and asked in a weak voice,
"Nyuu-n-... S-so sleepy.... What time is it?"
This isn't a sleepover!
Yeonji groaned like she was suffering from a massive hangover. I looked at my wristwatch and answered her (20 minutes before the end of lunch). Yeonji wallowed around, saying 'Ngh, I have no time for this...'
"What's wrong, are you really sick?"
"I don't know... My head hurts like it's going to crack open. I got enough sleep, so why am I so sleepy...?"
I couldn't understand how she became as frail as an old lady, when she was just fine earlier. On the one hand, I was dumbfounded, but on the other, I was worried; I supported her body up as she slumped back down into slumber.
"Seriously, what's wrong with you? Did you eat some spoiled food?"
"Nyuu... No... I haven't eaten anything yet. Other than taking those pills from that woman..."
Maybe that was it. Of course, considering that her sickness wasn't real, it was very possible that she was suffering from the drug's side effects.
"She gave me some weird-looking, yellow pills to take, two of them... I didn't need them, but I thought she'd get suspicious, so I took them... Nii-hee-hee! I told her I'm afraid of swallowing pills, so she ground them into a fiiine powdeeeerrrr..."
Yeonji drawled as if she were demonstrating the Doppler effect, and then her head collided against my chest.
I quickly pulled her back up, but she was asleep already. She looked like she wouldn't wake up even if aliens abducted her away.
"What the hell, seriously."
I looked down at Yeonji, who was sleeping with her body resting against my chest. Then it occurred to me,
--'She gave me some weird-looking, yellow pills to take, two of them...'
Yeonji's last words. Two strange, yellow pills.
Oh, crap, son of a-
The moment I got the feeling that her description of the pills matched mine, my consciousness was severed, and I fell into a deep sleep beside Yeonji.
* * *
My head was pounding.
It must have been karma working as usual, where some people have no care for others who suffer from an illness, only to end up suffering from the same illness later and realize 'well, I guess this illness is serious business~'.
Although, I really think that the cause and the effect were way too close together this time.
In accordance to Yeonji's comment, my head felt like it was exploding. It felt like some invisible, ghostly hands were reaching into my head to punch my brain around.
--Disregarding the fact that the brain itself feels no pain.
If I could have this kind of nonsensical discussion with myself, it meant that my consciousness must have mostly returned. I blinked and felt my eyes water up.
The fluorescent light on the ceiling was extremely bright.
I tried to lift my hands to wipe my eyes, but my hands did not budge.
In confusion, I tried to lift my head to see what was going on, but that was equally futile. It felt like I had lost control of my entire body; pretty soon I found out that the only working parts of my body were my eyes and my tongue.
Headache struck again, unforgivable and unforgettable as the noise of a flying mosquito on a summer night. I did what I could to spot my surroundings.
Hmm, okay. Some time ago, I entered this infirmary after Yeonji and took some weird drugs. Then, I panicked when Yeonji fell asleep, and then I ended up falling asleep too.
...It was such a cliche progression. I could see how we ended up here.
"Hey, Seo Yeonji, are you there?"
I asked, still facing the ceiling. I felt the voice linger in my head instead of escaping my mouth, but it must have been heard by Yeonji nonetheless; she replied from somewhere to the side.
"Yes, I'm here! Are you finally awake? You idiot!"
Thanks for mocking me as soon I'm awake, you jerk.
Yeonji's thin voice was subtly shaky. Of course she'd be scared. I was shaken up from this turmoil, so a little girl like Yeonji must be stricken with fear.
It was up to me to remain calm. I cleared my throat and asked,
"Well, okay... Are you at least feeling well?"
"Feeling well?! I can't even move and the light is too freaking bright! If I get ahold of that woman I'll get my revenge I'll kill her kill kill KILL!"
...It wasn't fear that she was shaking from; it was rage.
Yeonji spouted her death threats in her girlish voice. I kept my mouth shut, intimidated, and then a lazy voice drifted to my ears.
"Oh my... Both of you, you're awake already? I guess you guys are still pretty young; I thought it would take longer."
The voice belonged to the nurse. Yeonji began hissing like some bipedal unmanned anti-personnel war machine that detected an enemy life sign. Before Yeonji was enraged further, I quickly interjected.
"Excuse me! What's going on here?"
A relaxed giggle echoed in the room.
" 'What's going on'? ...That's a vague question. You guys took my drugs and fell asleep, and you are both quietly resting on separate beds. Also, I'm between standing between you two, keeping watch. It's also one-twenty right now, but I convinced your homeroom teachers to let you stay, so don't worry. Be thankful!"
The explanation was needlessly lengthy, and completely unhelpful in our situation.
Reaching the limit to her patience, Yeonji exploded in a raging fit.
"You sneaky, old fart! I knew you did something to the drugs!"
"Old fart... that's harsh. That hurts my feelings, you know."
Yeonji went 'ow, oww' from beside. She seemed to be getting her cheeks pinched like before. It wasn't all too pleasant to hear, so I interjected once more.
"What did you give to us? Were they sleeping pills?"
"Hmm... Don't know if I can call them that. I added in some pancuronium bromide, with maybe some thiopentone sodium mixed in."
Muscle relaxants and general anesthetics, if I recall.
"Wait, what? Aren't they used in lethal injections in the United States?"
Yeonji squirmed. Ignorance is bliss, sometimes.
"Yes, you're correct."
The nurse spoke in a mocking tone, maintaining her relaxed voice.
"Well, I diluted them to a safer concentration myself, so it won't be too harmful to your body. Hmm... it'll keep you conscious, but your entire body will be numb, for a bit. So, relax."
That's not relaxing at all!
Yet, Yeonji was relaxed already, as she resumed her angry shouts.
"Nyuu-t! Why would you give that kind of drug to us?"
"Hmm... No, even if you ask that way,"
The nurse spoke, upset,
"You two left this thing in my room. I thought I shouldn't let it slide, after seeing this.
I didn't need to turn my head to know that Yeonji flinched. From her reaction, I could assume what the nurse was showing her.
The camcorder had been found.
As I had expected, a familiar, small camcorder entered my vision. A white, smooth hand played around with the device.
"...I'm guessing you were the one who put that there, you big liar. I wonder what you were trying to film with this."
I was too embarrassed to answer.
Feeling my face redden, I closed my eyes. The nurse put the camcorder away and continued,
"From the start, I thought something was strange... There were two children coming to the infirmary at the same time, while they both were obviously faking their sickness."
She was far more competent than I had believed. As I grieved for my wasted efforts thus far, the nurse's voice went on.
"So I kept watch, and this girl was trying to lure me out of my room. She made some silly lies, but I pretended to fall for them and left the room. Then this device appeared in my room when I came back!"
Yeonji exclaimed in shock.
"I can't believe it! That had to be the most perfect lure yesterday! Even Zhuge Liang's got nothing on it, and you saw through it?!"
"Hmm... Yeah, about that."
In a clearly embarrassed tone, the nurse explained,
"There's a boy with us, so I won't explain it directly... That lie, it was a bit too obvious, I should say. I got embarrassed by proxy when I heard it, I should say. Please don't ever do that again, as a lady."
And Yeonji received a moral lesson from a person who subdued two students by drugging them. What the hell did she do?!
Ignoring Yeonji's volcanic eruption of a scream, the nurse turned her attention to me. Her face was still relaxed and lazy-looking, but now it held a certain power to it. Emanating an irresistible beam of light from her half-open eyes, the nurse asked,
"Why did you guys do this? Won't you explain it to the dear nurse?"
I can't take this anymore.
* * *
In our state of complete paralysis, we had no choice but to confess our criminal motive(!) to the nurse.
Now I understood what it would be like to be in the shoes of those captured leaders in grand strategy games, I thought, as Yeonji and I were interrogated by the nurse.
From the fact that we are Otakus, that we wanted to form an Otaku club, that we had to go through drastic methods since normal ways wouldn't work, and that we ended up targetting the infirmary, we revealed it all.
I never wanted to confess that we are Otakus, but Yeonji was shrieking every time I hesitated to answer (I wonder what was being done to her) so I had no other options.
The nurse reacted as expected when we confessed that we would threaten her with a video proof of her being an Otaku.
"...Hmm- well, I don't know. I usually don't say things like these... I really don't know what to say, no."
I apologized. At this point, there was really nothing else I could do.
"I understand how much you want a club, but did you really have to blackmail others for it? There are things in the world that you should never do."
"...I have no excuses."
Every word from the nurse rang true. But Yeonji did not give up yet; every time I agreed with the nurse, she began whining, but she was suppressed immediately.
I implored earnestly,
"We won't ever do something like this again. Please forgive us just this time!"
"Hmm, what should I do..."
The nurse hesitated. I coughed loudly to pressure Yeonji into begging with me, but Yeonji only answered with a 'hmph' each time.
Just as the infirmary filled up with our disturbing sound effects, the nurse asked with a hint of dissatisfaction,
"Before that, I want to ask something..."
"Sure! Ask away!"
I became desperate. If our actions this day were notified to the school or to our parents, it was going to be a one-way trip to hell. And so I struggled to extend my life span, while Yeonji only grumbled. The nurse was silent, hesitating, and soon asked,
"So... you guys, how did you find out that I'm an Otaku?"
We exclaimed in unison. With no regard for what I assume to be utter shock expressed on our faces, the nurse continued,
"I really don't know. I always thought I covered my tracks well; I wonder what exactly I overlooked. Hmm... This is really problematic."
The sound of her slippers dragging across the floor echoed. She was nervously pacing around the room.
"Uh, um... So you are an Otaku...?"
"Yep, that's right."
It was a cool reply.
"I was an Otaku since middle school... Even during my S.A.T, even during the graduation exam, there was never a moment when I took a break from doing Otaku things."
"Th-then, what you were doing in that room was..."
"What do you think?"
Her words carried a proud feeling somewhere.
"The last few years, I focused on playing H-games. Right now, if you just enter the password for that computer, there will be a scene with a girl your age, moaning indecently. Fufufu..."
Yeonji cried like a baby archaeopteryx breaking out of an egg.
"Pervert! Pervert! Pervert! You perverted nurse! So you finally revealed your real nature! Repent for your sins in doing such things in this holy school! You lustfulpervertedlecherousbigbreasted woman!"
Said the girl, who tried to make a club for Otakus in this holy school. Also, that thing she said, the fourth one isn't even an insult!
"Really... You have a cute face, but your words aren't cute at all."
The nurse talked like she was sighing at the same time.
"Even if I play H-games, I don't enjoy them like other Otakus seem to do, so please refrain from saying things like 'pervert' or 'lustful'."
"Wh-what are you talking about?"
Yeonji asked. I had no clue, either. The nurse answered calmly,
"Hmm, yes, when other Otakus play visual novels, they project themselves onto the protagonist, so they themselves feel like they were the ones dating the girls and such, right?"
I agreed in spite of Yeonji's continued snarls. The nurse let out a brief laugh and continued,
"But in my case... how should I say this? Maybe, I play it like I am a third-party observer to the story. As if I'm right beside the protagonist, watching over his actions, but unseen by the heroines... like a fairy, I guess."
"What kind of role is that--?!"
Why would you read first-person narratives if you want to do that?!
"I don't know... I am a woman, and I'm also not a high school student, so I can't see myself as being either the protagonist or the heroines. So I watch over their relationship building from a third-person standpoint! Phew, really, such a juvenile love between boys and girls... It makes me feel young myself."
"That's almost understandable, but there's something incredibly wrong about it!"
"The choices that come up in visual novels are like my advice to the protagonist."
"I didn't think the choices could be seen that way! But it still feels a bit off!"
"Teenage pregnancy is a major problem, so I always choose 'do it outside' in the H-scenes."
"Oh, what kind of nurse advises an ineffective prevention method like that?!"
"It's still safer than doing it inside."
The nurse answered, completely relaxed. Yeonji was also calming down in light of recent discoveries.
"This isn't even funny... I never expected that she would be this into it."
A moment after grumbling, Yeonji gasped in surprise and said,
"Wait; that means this woman was an Otaku like I thought!"
"...Can you not call me 'this woman'?"
Yeonji squealed like a kitten stuck in a crevice behind a couch. She recovered only a second later, speaking in a reinvigorated voice,
"Hmph! Don't get too cocky! You're already- Ow! Nyuu... We know that you're an Otaku! Hand over the infirmary! My words are backed with severe consequences!"
"Hmm... I wonder why you think I'd listen to you."
"Heh heh, it looks like you don't know what kind of situation you're in!"
Said the girl who was completely paralyzed on a bed, defenseless.
"Woman, you- Ow! - You confessed to us that you are an Otaku! If we spread around a rumor about your secret, what would happen? Your reputation would come crumbling down!"
"It won't crumble down."
The nurse casually replied as if she were teaching that 1 plus 1 equals 2.
"The only reason you know I'm an Otaku is because you two are also Otakus. And even if you start a rumor, there's no actual evidence that I'm an Otaku. No one's going to believe such a weak rumor."
That was the truth. The nurse added,
"And the only proof, this camcorder, is in my hands. It's the proof for both the fact that I am an Otaku, and that you two invaded my privacy. If you spread a rumor about me, I'll report this to the police. Then neither the school, nor your parents, would be too proud, yes?"
Oh, please, god, no.
I could feel my bones rattle in fear. Yeonji was silent for a second, and asked in a curious tone,
"...Wait. The proof that you're an Otaku? Did that camcorder actually record something?"
Replied the nurse,
"My plan was to undo whatever you did after you two left, but I just had to continue the game where I had left off. I only started searching in the room a couple of hours later, so there should be enough of me recorded."
...She wasn't exactly a better person than either of us.
"But, that doesn't matter. This camcorder is in my hands now. I can just delete everything that was captured. Should I delete it now?"
"No way, woma-- Nyuuuuu---! Y-you can't delete that!"
The nurse became curious. Yeonji declared with confidence,
"Because that's the evidence we'll hand over to the police when we spread the rumor!"
"Hey, wait a sec..."
What are you saying?! Disregarding my objection, Yeonji continued with much faith in her words.
"But you yourself can't bring that to the police! Because if we get expelled as a result, it's going to become big news, and the contents of the camcorder might get released to the public!"
The nurse seemed faintly startled. Yeonji lowered her voice and whispered,
" 'Hey, did you hear that? Some freshmen got expelled for hiding a camera in the infirmary!' 'Really? What did they try to film?' 'A friend told me that...' - Like that."
That was quite plausible. As if to agree with Yeonji, the nurse remained silent. Yeonji continued excitedly,
"Then, if that kind of rumor spread around, all the attention will go straight to the infirmary, and that wouldn't be so nice for some nurse who wants to live a quiet Otaku life, right?"
Whoa, Yeonji, whoa.
With every word said, she spoke with more power and confidence. It was true that the nurse, as a closeted Otaku, could not afford to let the incident get huge attention.
By telling us that she is an Otaku, we were given a weapon to fight the one the nurse had against us.
The nurse was silent for a long time, intimidated by Yeonji's argument. After the pause, she finally opened her mouth and spoke,
"...You're right. Really, revealing that I am an Otaku was a mistake."
Yeonji laughed maniacally.
"Then, hurry up and give us the infirmary as our club-"
"No, that's not it."
The nurse cut Yeonji's words short.
The nurse left the area, noisily dragging her slippers around, and shortly came back. In a strangely disturbing tone, she sneered,
"I thought you'd give up if I scared you a little... Maybe it's because you're students of Eunsung? No, before that, it's probably because you found out I'm an Otaku like you two."
"Wh-what are you talking about?"
Reading the change in her tone, Yeonji stuttered. Like a chilling wind sweeping across a graveyard, the nurse whispered,
"Let's try this. In this camcorder, there exists both the proof of your crime and my weakness. Then, let's exchange this camcorder for the photo of you two naked and hugging each other."
""There aren't any photos like that----!!""
We both shrieked at the same time.
"Wh- what are you t-t-t-t-talking about?! Wh-why would there be a photo where I'm d-d-doing that kind of thing with th-this guy? Are you an idiot?!"
"Y-yeah! What are you saying?!"
We protested like a pair of baby birds crying for food. In contrast, the nurse's voice was so cold and evil that I could not believe it belonged to her.
"Hmm? Ah... that's fine. That's because the photo is something I'll take right now."
"Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa--! Somebody save me!"
Confirming the digital camera that was in the nurse's outstretched hand, we shouted our hearts out.
"Kyaa! Help me! Here! There's a pervert in the infirmary! A pervert who's about to violate students! Save me!"
"Fire--! Help! There's a fire in the infirmary---!"
Yeonji called for help with a small twist on the situation. I called for help, recalling that people are only willing to respond to 'Fire!' than anything else.
Our screams echoed and filled the infirmary, but the nurse was relaxed, unwilling to stop us.
"...Let me just add, I privately invested in the construction of this infirmary to make it 100% soundproof. No matter how much you scream, no one will hear you outside."
"What were you planning to do in here with sound proofing?!"
This nurse never failed to surprise us. Wait, it wasn't the time to be surprised by these things.
"W-waaaaaaait! Just wait a sec! Listen to me!"
"Okay, I'll listen to you. ...Until I finish preparing the camera. Hmm- it's been a long time since I used this, so I don't remember too well... Was this the zoom in button?"
The camera made a sinister 'whirr' sound. As the nurse engrossed herself in figuring out the camera, Yeonji repeatedly howled for attention.
"Just wait! Th-that is-- Right! You're a Clotaku just like us! It's probably more fun playing with us than being all alone in your room! Yeah!"
Even to this point, Yeonji did not give up on the infirmary.
"Well... Sorry, but I feel more comfortable being alone. And honestly, it's too much of a hassle."
She was right, if a little crooked. Yeonji's shouts became louder and more desperate in response.
"Waitwait! Think about it on a national scale! Our club will eventually become a pioneer for changing this society around! It'll be a beacon of light for all the oppressed Otakus in this country! Give me a chance to eliminate the need to be a Clotaku!"
"Alright, I get it now."
"D-did you really?"
"Hmm? No, the camera's controls."
"Nyuuuuuuuuuuu-t--?! We're both Otakus, more so closeted Otakus, so why can't you understand my plan? Don't you want a country where Otakus can live happily? Don't you want to be saved?!"
What kind of society has perpetually happy Otakus? I wondered. Yeonji had some hopelessly huge ambitions contained in that small body.
"Sorry, but I don't really want to be saved."
As Yeonji laid out her sentiments like a new leader of a political party, the nurse shut her down with a single comment.
"There is no country for Otakus, and there won't be in the future. ...I'm just fine with playing visual novels alone, hidden from other people. So, make your paradise in some other place."
"Nyuu--! You traitor! Coward! Scheming adult! You stupidly huge-breasted woman!"
And still Yeonji did not realize that the last part wasn't an insult. The nurse agreed composedly,
"Yes, I'm an adult unlike you two. Adults are always like that, scheming and conservative. Wow, it must be nice being young, you two~."
Separately from the argument that went on like a game of table tennis, the preparation for our ill-fated photo shoot seemed to be almost completed.
As she calmly deflected Yeonji's desperate pleas and threats, the nurse checked the remaining memory space of the camera, and took a test photo with the battery level in mind. She was unnecessarily focused for something like this.
"Now... Let's start taking everything off, shall we?"
It was a humble tone, akin to 'let's go back home for tonight!'. Witnessing our impending doom become real, we once again screamed in unison.
"Stop it! No, seriously! Really! This isn't good! It's too weird! It's not gonna work! This is too crazy! Stopitstopitstopit-!"
"I want to stop here, too... but I can't really go back at this point. A saying goes, when you unsheathe a sword, you better cut something. Phew... Okay, you first!"
"I never undressed a guy before. Well, it's my first time with school uniforms, but I'll do my best!"
"When did you undress a girl before?! Hyaaaaaaaaaaahh-!"
... What's happening?
Yeonji made noises that could only be described as a death rattle. The noise was followed by unsettling squeals that felt like a tongue sliding around the roots of my nerves.
Swish, rustle, whatever they sound like- the sound of clothes sliding off were mixed in with hysteric voices.
"Nyaa-t... N-no... Th-that- you can't do this to me- Kyaa, no, time-out, where are you- eeek-..."
"Oh my... So cute. It's so smooth and white, I want to touch it!"
"You're touching it right nyaowwww--! Nyoo, nnnoooo! You're insane, hnh, th-this kind of, n-not yet... I'm not ready for thaaat--!"
It felt like playing a visual novel with the monitor off.
Ignoring the fact that the same was going to be done onto me later, it was a beautiful song in my ears.
Calm down, calm! It'll be fine if I just don't lid my flip! Wait no that's not it please calm down... There has to be a way to get out of this!
My brain was at full throttle.
Right now, I need to think of a way to... uh, stop that horrible thing from happening and avoid getting photographed, and also get this infirmary as our club room.
...Of course there isn't a way.
In terms of Starcraft, I was at a point where all of my expansions were destroyed, and my final Command Center is on fire. There was no potential for a miraculous result like that!
Even if such a potential existed, it was not too easy to think one up in this unsettling, disturbing environment. Even as I thought that, I could hear the indecent, lewd sounds from beside.
"Your underwear's cute like a little kid's! I think you look good in it, though. Fufufu, fufu..."
"Wh-who are you calling a kid... Hyaaaanh! S-seriously, stop it, I'm going to kill you... Ni-hiii~t..."
Since I was incapable of blocking my ears, their voices flowed into my ears unrestricted. There could be no man out there who could keep focus in this situation.
After a moment of torment, an idea hit me.
It was neither a good plan nor a perfect strategy, and it was more of an impulse. However, there was no time to waste.
There were vague hints for a correct action to take within our previous conversations. Before they escaped my grasp, I quickly intervened,
The indecent noises came to a pause, and the nurse answered.
"What is it? I'm almost done here... You just have to wait a little. Can you be patient and wait your turn?"
Done with what, exactly?
Pushing away the images that almost formed in my head, I quickly continued,
"Didn't you say that you play visual novels to read about teenagers building relationships?"
"...I did, but why?"
The nurse asked back with a hint of suspicion.
Hoping to end it all right in this turn, I closed my eyes and yelled,
"Then we'll show you ourselves how teenagers date--!"
The noises from the side came to a complete halt.
The nurse, and Yeonji too, lost their words and everyone remained in silence.
Several moments later,
Conscious of the grave shift of the atmosphere in the room, I asked quietly,
"M-maybe real relationships don't do anything for you...?"
"...N, no, that's not it, but."
The nurse asked, embarrassed,
"Well, uh... Yes, when you say 'we', you mean, you and her?"
Yeonji screamed indecipherably, but I simply ignored her. Just shut up and watch!
"We'll show you how real high school kids go out! You just have to pretend like you started a new visual novel!"
"Oh, every day after school, in this room... you mean? Fufufu."
Understanding my plan right away, she softly laughed as if to commend me.
I did not intend to lie to her. She was always one step ahead of us, so a simple lie could not work. Then, the only way out was to make an offer that she could not refuse, even if she all that was involved in the deal.
"That's right! Visual novels are just games in the end, and all characters are 18 and over! Don't you want to see real 17 year olds dating? It'll be a on a different dimension than all the generic visual novels out there!"
I wasn't kidding. Real life is 3D, and visual novels are in 2D, so it was indeed on a different dimension.
The basis for this otherworldy plan was formed on account of what the nurse had said about her mindset when playing visual novels. That is, she had expressed how she feels younger just by looking at young people have dates, and how she enjoys observing the characters in visual novels.
And, from the dialogue with Yeonji,
--... It must be nice being young, you two.
--... Cute like a little kid's...
I'm sure most Otakus would wish that exciting things from 2D would happen in real life, too. Fans of visual novels would likely dream about going out with a plethora of cute girls.
Anyway, without being an Otaku whose mind is completely dominated with 2D world, it would not be so strange to wish for fantasies to materialize in real life.
And what about the nurse?
Although a visual novel fan, she was a strange type who would rather observe than participate in dating the heroines. Perhaps she wanted to see the same thing in real life, too; she seemed to be jealous of us, or, high school students. If I could use that as my foothold, I could lead myself out of this situation.
Having made that conclusion, I made the suggestion, pretending that Yeonji and I were going out already.
The nurse could now see that giving us the infirmary would not be 'full of hassles', but instead see it as 'installing a visual novel in real life'. She was more likely to consider our suggestion that way.
And, truly, she was very interested already.
If there were any problems with my plan, it would be...
"Wha-wha-wha-wha-wha-wha-what are you saying, you stupid idiot?! Who's dating who now?! D-don't say crap like that, you're out of your mind! Kill yourself right now! Stupid! Idiot! Bastard!"
...It would be that I never consulted with Yeonji with this plan and I had to act alone.
Yeonji cursed at me with all her might, with a stuttering voice like a motor was stuck on her throat. As if she were making up for being unable to kick me, she called me all sorts of unspeakable names.
She always seemed to be quick on the draw, yet she failed to get the hint for my plan. Sheesh.
That was my plan to get us out of here, you idiot! You just need to act like you're my girlfriend just once, and we'll have our club room! How's she going to care about what we do after that when she's such a die-hard visual novel fan? Just go along with my plan!
--Not that I could actually say any of that, so Yeonji continued her curses uninhibited.
I'm so done.
Until Yeonji choked and stopped her rap of curses, the nurse kept silent. I closed my eyes and felt my face become hotter. The nurse giggled from the side.
"Phew... Ah, okay, hmm... Was that it? I see it now."
"Wh-why are you laughing and staring like that?!"
Yeonji recovered within three seconds and shouted back. I could assume that the nurse was facing Yeonji.
"Hmm? No... Fufu, yes, I thought that being young must be nice."
"Sh-shut up, you old woman! Act your age!"
" 'N-not yet~ I'm not ready for that~' "
With the nurse's mimicry, Yeonji shut her mouth after a short scream. What was that, some sort of magic spell?
The nurse laughed when Yeonji became silent. Several footsteps sounded from the side, and her face now loomed over me.
I did not know what she meant. She shrugged and answered,
"...It sounds fun. I'll go with your suggestion."
I did not think that she would accept it after Yeonji caused that much trouble for us; I embarrassingly blurted out an exclamation in surprise. The nurse had a smile of a mature, friendly smile.
"I'll let you two use that room, too... so come over after school. Fufufu, good for you!"
The last comment must have been directed at Yeonji, as she reacted to it. Regardless, she seemed to be quite happy; even her grunts sounded uplifted.
"Now, say 'thank you, miss', will you?"
"Tsk. I'll say thanks for now."
When were you a Tsundere?
The nurse was less demanding and more suggesting, so Yeonji willfully thanked her back. The nurse spoke, satisfied,
"Thank your boyfriend, too. It's all thanks to him that everything went well, you know? Say 'thanks for helping me out'. Fufu..."
"Wh-who helped who?!"
Yeonji exploded like her entire body was propelling out of the bed.
"H-he is more like my minion than anything else! It's natural for a member to protect his leader! If I thank him for something like this, he won't know his place!"
Don't treat me like a dog, please. At least you could not say it when I'm right here, even if you really believe that.
Okay, I already knew she believed it, but still.
Though I felt exhausted and disconnected, the nurse was still quite stout and resolute. Following a short snap of a finger and Yeonji's yelp, Yeonji spoke uninterestedly,
"Hmph, tsk... W-well, you did well. Now that we have a club room, I mean. We're officially starting club activities tomorrow, so don't be late tomorrow! It's lethal injection for you, if you're late."
Her words contained more threats and thanks, but whatever. I answered unenergetically, and the nurse continued giggling at us for some reason.
And so-- After an entire week of a tiring journey, we finally gained a club room.
The infirmary wasn't such a normal place to be, and the room came at a price of a strange contract, but Yeonji was happy enough.
More so than anything else, I was happy enough that Yeonji had no reason to ever come back to my place. Now, I never had to face Mom's piercing stares, or her interrogations about Yeonji. I could no longer take them, so this incident finished at a fortunate time.
It's all good, it's all good.
"By the way, how long does this drug last? I still can't move my body at all..."
"Hmm... Yeah, it was the first time actually using that drug after making it, too. I honestly have no idea how long it lasts for."
"Normally, it lasts for one hour if you take one pill, so I gave you two... But the way drugs work, they don't have double strength just because you take double. Maybe four times, maybe six times."
"...Well, maybe you'll be okay if you sleep and wake up--."
"When do we get back home?!"
"You can always go back home tomorrow. Sometimes I sleep here after playing games, if the traffic is jammed."
"We're still students--!"
...It took four more hours before we could move again.
We could not simply explain that we were both quietly resting in the infirmary together, so we decided to say that we were working on a project at each other's homes.
...Quite naturally, my mom's stares became more painful to withstand.