A few days after the match between the Moe Research Club and the Clotaku Club,
Today was the same as any other day, spending our free time after school in the little room within the school's infirmary that we called 'our club', doing whatever we could excuse as 'club activities'.
...But really, we weren't doing any more than what we'd usually do when we're not together. On the other side of the room was Yeonji, hogging the big couch by herself, rolling around and reading a light novel. The nurse was playing visual novels on her computer, as usual-- maybe a week before, she was at least mindful of our presence enough to wear headphones, but now, her laziness surpassed that point and we had to endure every single indecent sound effect coming from her computer.
...This place couldn't be any more nerdy.
Having observed the two maintain the status quo of the club, I returned my attention to the PXP in my hands. Any effort to change this dreadful atmosphere was a waste; only Yeonji could make progress in this club by dropping her light novel and starting off with an 'Alright, let's do something!'
Whatever went on in Yeonji's head, she always had an explosion of terrifying creativity whenever she'd finish reading a light novel, which always led to suggestions for new club activities that were obviously going to end in tragedies.
Thus the final sum of our 'club activities' boiled down to Yeonji thinking up crazy new ideas, and me stopping them from happening each time.
...This isn't a healthy lifestyle.
Anyway, as demonstrated by our continued club activities, it should be obvious that our match from several days back resulted in our victory.
To tell the truth, it wasn't thanks to the 'magic answer'; in the final moments of that heated debate, my answer ended up not being the 'Ssuro-Giganteni-Paraskulssu-- ()()()', but instead 'Ssuro-Gigan the Last Vampire'. In other words, I used the name of the game instead, thus disabling the magic answer for the rest of the game.
I followed up with more arguments with Yerin, who was then not in any shape to continue the game. I hounded her until she gave the game up on her own, forfeiting her team from the match.
It was my first time winning a serious debate by myself-- against a girl, especially.
...Well, I suppose Yeonji helped out by joining in the hounding, akin to a vulture swooping down on a corpse. Her final blow to our debate was when she brought up that Yerin was a Clotaku, too, though limited to her own bedroom.
As Yeonji had discovered, Yerin's blonde hair was due to a wig, and Sukyong-sunbae and her brother worked six days a week. These two facts, together, somehow meant that Sunday was left free for Yerin to drop her ladylike act, thus exposing her 'normal' self...
...Which was completely nuts, even for Yeonji, so I became pretty sure that Yeonji had already infiltrated the Eunsung mansion last Sunday.
Yerin became completely broken after the match, since all of her deepest secrets were exposed, and we had shown her how wrong her beliefs were. She was bawling her heart out and she even forgot to maintain her ladylike act; it wasn't easy comforting her until she'd stop crying.
Even Sukyong-sunbae gave a condescending look that read 'I told you to win the match, not to completely crush her'.
In summary, Yerin lost the will to continue the match after our debate, and so we were able to keep our club alive.
After that match, she had begun changing her attitude, as mentioned by the nurse as an off-handed remark. One time, she attended her class without her wig, and no one was able to recognize her. Huh.
Yerin's regular harassment of her classmates had stopped, too, since she was no longer the Pubtaku Queen. With that taken care of, the principal was crying tears of joy for having narrowly dodged the wrath of Eunsung.
There was a good ending for everyone.
Changing the topic-- after our match, Yeonji was surprisingly kind enough to give me words of praise. I know I deserved it, though: I risked being embarrassed to death by doing what I did back then, so it was natural that I received praise from her. It was my plan to follow up with a demand that she should be the one buying me lunch for once... but what she had said next caught me off-guard.
"But seriously, I was so surprised when you gave your speech!"
"...Surprised? Why? Back in that debate, weren't you constantly looking at me like you needed me to help? Why's it surprising that I stepped in?"
"Nyuu--gh." Yeonji groaned, her face reddening. She violently threw her arms around in front of her, as if that would hide her red face. She stammered, "Wh-what are you talking about? I wasn't doing that! Don't be stupid! Who'd look at you? How disgusting! Weren't you the one who was too busy looking at me to think about the match?"
"What kind of nonsense is that?!"
As expected of Seo Yeonji, she was beyond the concept of merely disagreeing with my words; she moved right into blaming everything on me. Her aptitude in redirecting blame was scarily amazing.
She did not seem to want to admit that she was looking at me during the match (Why? What's the problem with that?!). She coughed, which was obviously faked, and continued, "Ahem. A-anyway, I'll admit you did a good job today. All good deeds must be rewarded, even if it's by an idiot who doesn't have anything better to do than stare at the club president."
"...Were you trying to praise me, or make fun of me?"
And if you want to reward me, give me something tangible! After all the lunches and snacks you ripped off of me, you expect some words to make up for it? Dream on, Yeonji.
"I was especially amazed how you used the story I told you yesterday, as if you were the one who wrote it! I couldn't believe it was something you thought up. Your act was perfect! Ten out of ten!"
The strangeness of her words struck me, interrupting my relaxing moment of thinking various insults to say to Yeonji. Wait... what did she just say?
"...As if I were the one who wrote it?"
"Yeah!" Yeonji grinned widely and nodded, "I almost believed that you'd been bullied before! Maybe it's because of the way you look? No one would believe me if I had said that story instead. You find your way to make yourself useful in unexpected situations, you know that?"
"No, no, no, no, no... Wait, just hold on for a moment..." Panic struck, and I began stammering incoherently to myself.
There was probably some slander somewhere in her words, but ignoring that-- what did she just say? She was talking about... my story that I told Yerin, right? I thought Yeonji was pressuring me into revealing my story to Yerin, and... she thought I was acting? That it seemed real? What?
"Okay, uh... Let me ask you something, just in case."
"That post you told me about yesterday... Do you know who wrote it?"
You didn't know?!
Blood rushed to my head and my neck stiffened. Yeonji looked at me curiously, as if I were the odd one in this conversation.
"I'm not a reaper from Death N***! How am I supposed to tell who wrote what on the Internet? And the post got deleted too quickly, I never had the chance to check his IP. I only had enough time to save the content."
Yeonji cursed under her breath as she audibly regretted that she never had the chance to track the writer down. Was she saying that she wanted to track me down with my IP alone?! Such hellish words did not fit her cute face.
Life fled from my body after Yeonji's twist on the events. ...Though, while it turned out that the embarrassing show I've put on yesterday was entirely my fault, I was relieved that Yeonji was still in the dark about my tragic past.
"... was gonna ... keep it ... my own."
"...Nothing." Yeonji replied back in whispers. I thought I had heard her grumble about something quietly. That's not polite, Yeonji.
"Nyuu-n..." She groaned. And, a moment later, she bounced up with her eyes shining brightly, "Wait, I almost forgot! I was going to punish you for something, too!"
Out of instinct, my body jumped back away from Yeonji, who was now bearing an evil grin. Yeonji quickly paced forward to match my movement, pointing at me rudely.
"Back when the blonde idiot made a mistake, why didn't you boot that maid out of the game with the magic answer? Do you realize how difficult it was for me?!"
Yeonji's pointed finger repeatedly prodded my chest, digging through the shirt.
"W-wait, if you're talking about that, uh, it's that, just, I thought we shouldn't stop at ending Yerin's club, but go further and stop her from being the Pubtaku Queen entirely! Wasn't that the reason you increased the time limit in the first place? No?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" She crushed my great excuses with a single reply, "I increased the time limit as an excuse to argue with her, but I never told you to waste a great opportunity to win! We're lucky that she quit the game on her own, 'cause we would have died to that maid otherwise! This is a severe crime, fitting of capital punishment!"
It seemed to be Yeonji's code that good deeds must be rewarded with simple praises, while crimes should be punished with immediate execution. I should really be thankful that she didn't write our laws.
I did my best to escape her by reassuring her that we'd won regardless, but changing her mind was fruitless... as usual. She hassled me all the way back home, not wasting a single moment to demand that I buy snacks for her at every turn. By the time we had to part ways, she insisted that we exchange our phone numbers, likely to bother me further.
...I still get chills from thinking of her wide grin after she got my number.
In the end, after everything that had happened to us, we were able to continue our daily lives at the Clotaku Club.
Except for one thing.
Yeonji closed her light novel with a loud clap. She began to awkwardly wriggle away from the couch that she'd been laying on, resembling a cat that got stuck in a mousetrap while trying to get the mouse out.
"We'll start by discussing our club activities for today," spoke Yeonji, bearing a displeased look.
That was new.
She sounded as if we always start our day in the club with discussions, but we had never done that before. I was quiet about it, however, since this seemed like a dangerous moment to raise objections.
"Our topic of discussion today is--"
Yeonji crossed her arms and sat upright on the couch, delaying her next words with several different annoyed expressions, and then finally continued,
"Why the hell are they in our club?!" She screamed, pointing angrily.
On the receiving end of Yeonji's pointed finger was a certain blonde girl, watching anime on a humongous wall-mounted flat-screen television... and her two servants.
Simply put, Yerin and her maid and the butler were watching anime on an 82-inch television.
"I don't understand this! I won't accept this! I was wondering why this room was smelling like sore losers, and here they are! What did you do?!"
...Sorry, it was my fault. How could I not open the door? There were a bunch of adults wanting to be let in so they could install a brand new television in here!
"I can't believe this! You opened the door for a stupid television! This week's secret code was 'A Certain' to 'Scientific Pulse Rifle'! Why didn't you ask for the password?"
"...Stop with the passwords already." I'd rather die than face the embarrassment of saying 'Say the password if you want in!' to a bunch of strangers. "Wait, why are you yelling at me? You were really happy when you saw the television, too! You were even dancing around with your hands in the air!"
"Wh-who danced around?!" Yeonji hopped up and down angrily, shouting. "I'm okay with the television, but I'm definitely not okay with those three! Nyuu-- ...Is this what they mean by 'bundling' in marketing schemes, where they sneak in stuff that don't sell well with the popular merchandise?"
"They were the ones who bought the television for us."
"Nyuu-rgh! Those filthy bourgeois pigs! Fascists! Enemy of the laborers! Burn them!"
Yeonji, once again, displayed her great talent of switching blame.
"Hmph... Could you please quiet down, if you don't mind?" Yerin interrupted us as she paused the show, just as I was about to stop Yeonji myself. Yerin turned around and continued, "If you weren't trying your best to resemble a cat in heat, I may be able peacefully enjoy this show! If you have an ounce of manner in you, could you please shut your mouth for once, Miss Seo Umji?"
"It's Seo Yeonji!" screamed Yeonji, "Why are you watching anime in here, anyway?! This is the Clotaku Club, and I am its president! If you want to stay here, then you'll need my written consent! Get out, but leave the television behind!"
She was blatantly honest about her desires.
Yerin sat back and relaxed in response, amusedly watching Yeonji flail her arms around angrily. "Oh, my... I did not know that. Then, the two other members of this club also received your written consent, yes?"
"Th-they're the members of this club! They don't need it!"
"Is that so? Then, we shall join this club."
"It's not as simple as 'joining this club'--!"
"Then we will instead become members of this club."
"That's the same thing!"
"...Tell me, what sort of qualifications do I need to become the president? When will be the next election?"
"You're looking to take over my spot already?! I'm not giving it to you!"
Yeonji slumped over with that last shout, having expended all the energy that was stored in her miniscule body.
Yerin smirked and brushed her golden hair around. She explained, "Did you not explain that your club is for the closeted Otaku of this school? Then, there should be no issues if I join, I believe."
"...A Clotaku? You?" croaked Yeonji, lifting her head in surprise.
Yerin nodded slowly and gracefully. "Of course. My 'MoeRe' met its end after our clash... and I wish to learn how to start a peaceful, social life with the peasants of this school. Thus, I will no longer be a Pubtaku."
"But that doesn't make you a Clotaku!"
"Of course it does." Yerin replied immediately as if she had prepared herself for this line of conversation. "I have no other place where I may practice my hobbies, so the Clotaku Club will have to do. An Otaku only in the Clotaku Club-- quite clearly, that makes me a Clotaku!"
"Nyuu---gh!" squirmed Yeonji, gritting her teeth.
After smirking in satisfaction, Yerin turned to me to give a pleasant smile, "You told me that every Otaku needs to learn how to get along with non-Otaku people, yes? I have made an appearance here as an acceptance of your advice. You should feel honored."
"I don't even-..." I don't really care about honor-- just don't make it sound like I was the one who brought you people in here! See, Yeonji is now glaring at me like she's looking at a traitor!
I did my best to face away and avoid eye contact with Yerin and her gang. Perhaps to recognize my effort, Yeonji decided that taking care of an outsider was more important than dealing with the traitor.
"A-anyway, you can't stay here! I'm going to look like an Otaku too if you hang around with us! I don't want that, ever!"
It was a harsh comment, considering that all of us were Otaku. Unsurprisingly, Yerin looked distraught and her continued smile became obviously forced. She groaned, "Kuh-... Ugh... D-do not worry a single bit, you insolent peasant! You will be invisible to me outside of this club! You are overstating your position if you think you can be at my level!"
"...Didn't you say you were giving up on acting like you're a queen?" I sighed. It must have been a false rumor that she was showing up to her class without her wig or her colored contacts; I feared that she might have gotten worse.
Yerin scoffed at my question. "I will only act in here. I am controlling myself more in my classes; I do not need help from you. You should not underestimate my ability for self-control."
She seemed to be saying that she'd keep all of her urges and emotions within her, and then let them out all at once while in this club. ...She was living a tiring life.
"Well... That sounds okay, right? If we're only going to meet here after school for club activities, I don't think we'd have any problems." I suggested, tired of the continued bickerings between Yerin and Yeonji. Not only would it take further time and effort to kick Yerin out of the club, the gigantic television would also have to go, which appealed to neither my greed nor my laziness.
"What did you just say?!"
...But Yeonji did not seem to share my thought. She screamed as soon as I sided with Yerin, and she began shouting and blabbering without giving me a chance to explain further.
And then the nurse joined in. "...I agree with what Injin said--."
"Nyuu-t?! Wh-why do you say that?!"
"It sounds like it could be fun, you know?"
What sounds like it could be fun? The nurse had the face of a laughing theatre mask, ever since we had begun talking.
With the nurse's vote on Yerin staying, Yeonji became greatly saddened, and Yerin was now loudly laughing in contrast. "Fufufu... In the very least, the nurse and that pathetic peasant are wiser. Now, answer the opinions of your valued members, little girl! You should be honored that I am joining your stupid club! Be thankful!"
Yeonji quivered in anguish at the rate of 400Hz, but she soon calmed down after progressively looking at Yerin, then me, and then the television. She seemed to have made a decision. "Phew... Well, whatever. I'm sure it'll be fine... Hmph, I really hate to say this, but I will let you stay in this club as an act of kindness."
"Why, thank you! As long as I am here, there will only be victory for this club! Look forward to what I will bring forth from this day on." proclaimed Yerin, proudly jutting forward.
Yeonji said nothing in response for a moment. She soon perked up after finding a better reply; "Heh, alright. By the way, I'm going to be collecting five hundred million Won every semester for club activities, so don't forget to bring it tomorrow!"
"Hah! That sort of money is spare change to m-- ...Wait, did you just say five hundred million?!"
"Every member in the club will pay for it, so it's only fair. There's only execution waiting for those who don't pay up! Of course, I'm paying too."
"What are you going to do for club activities with two and a half billion Won?! Are you trying to set up a publishing company?!"
"Huh? Oh, no, I'm only collecting five hundred million and twenty-four thousand Won in total."
"I'll be contributing almost all of it by myself! Everyone else is giving only twenty-four thousand?! Where is this imbalance coming from?!"
"Dear Customer, our policy has changed as of today, and we hereby collect fees based on your yearly income-"
"Progressive tax?! Do you really think I have any personal earnings?! Shut up!"
"Gee, why don't you just leave the club if that's a problem?"
"W-wait, something feels different about you again! I swear you were like this before..."
"Kukuku... Heh heh heh...."
"Kyaaaa--! D-don't come any closer! W-wait, you, that peasant over there, why aren't you putting a leash on this dangerous beast? Kyaa--!"
After accepting three new members out of nowhere, our club grew to house five student members.
We now had enough people to meet the requirements of starting an official school club, and with Eun Yerin by our side, we could do it any time we wanted to.
If we really, really wanted to, we could also take over the principal's office like Yeonji mentioned (though it would feel like the end of the world for the principal, who's now currently sighing in relief that Yerin was no longer a job-threatening crisis for him).
I don't really think Yeonji wanted it at this point, though.
Even without a request to make this club official, we had a club room, a supervising teacher, a huge source of funding, and basically everything that we ever needed. We achieved the Otaku Paradise; what more could we ask for?
And most importantly...
Our club is the club for the closeted Otakus -- we are the Clotaku Club.