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Note that the word for mouse and rat are the same in Japanese. Incidentally there’s no such thing as a ‘lobster’. Spiny lobsters are ‘Ise Prawns’ while the clawed lobsters that Americans are more familiar with are ‘Sea Crayfish’. Honestly, the genetics kind of cements the fact that lobsters aren’t real. If lobsters aren’t real, how can our mouths be real.
At lunch I headed to the StuCo room for athletics carnival business. Tomoe-senpai was waiting inside.
“Oh~? Kisshouin-san, long time no see!”
Ukyaa! He was as cool as ever!
“So why are you here today? Oh, permission to use the sports field, right?”
“Yes! What are you doing here, Senpai?”
“Hm? Oh, I’m just here to help out. It hasn’t been long since we’ve changed members after all.”
For the next few weeks all class rep work involving the Student Council was going to be handled by me.
“So which events are you competing in, Kisshouin-san?”
“This year I shall be appearing in the ball toss event. The three-legged race as well.”
“Ah okay. Don’t get injured, alright?”
“Yes! What about you, Tomoe-senpai?”
“Me? I’m going to be doing the cavalry battle.”
The cavalry battle! I can’t believe I forgot! Tomoe-senpai was the one who squared off with that legendary cavalry maniac at the very end of their match, and almost won too! It was thanks to the battle with Tomoe-senpai that the idiot even began reading The Art of War to prepare for the next year.
If Tomoe-senpai of all people was going to be participating this year then Emperor was sure going to regret his retirement.
“I-! I shall be cheering for you!”
“I’m happy to hear you say that but shouldn’t you be cheering for your own class?”
It’s fine, it’s fine. If it’s for my first love I’ll be a thought-traitor as many times as it takes.
“It is no problem, Senpai! Please win!” I shouted with a fist pump.
“Alright! If you’re going to be cheering me on then I guess I have to give it my best. Oh, by the way, you were participating too, right?” he called out to someone behind me.
I turned around and Fellow Stalking Horse was there.
“Ah-, F- …unny finding you here, Mizusaki-kun.”
Close call! Good save, Reika!
I never called him anything else in my head so I almost slipped up. If I actually called the guy ‘Fellow Stalking Horse’ to his face I’m pretty sure he would murder me.
I promised myself to be more careful in the future…
Anyhow, Fellow Stalking Horse was looking at me with suspicion.
“What was that just now?”
“Eh? What might you be speaking of?”
Ah. My eyes were looking up to the right again.
The suspicion on his face intensified. Oh dear…
“Arima. You’re joining the cavalry battle too, aren’t you?”
Thankfully, Tomoe-senpai drew Fellow Stalking Horse’s attention. Phew…
“Ah, yes. I am.”
I knew it.
“My class speculated that you would be a strong opponent, Mizusaki-kun,” I chimed in.
“Oh? So Arima’s strong then. Sounds like I’d better put some oomph into it.”
As we cheered, Fellow Stalking Horse just regarded the two of us with bewilderment. After a while, he held out a sheet of paper to Tomoe-senpai.
“…Sorry to interrupt while you’re having so much fun, but I wanted to talk to you about the proceedings of the athletics carnival.”
“Hm? What about it?”
Fellow Stalking Horse had taken Tomoe-senpai from me. Not that it could be helped though. This was more important.
The two of them began to talk about greeting visitors or something, so I decided it was time to excuse myself.
“Well then, please excuse me, Tomoe-senpai. Also Mizusaki-kun, I suppose.”
“Ahaha, thanks for your hard work, Kisshouin-san.”
Tomoe-senpai saw me off with a smile, and I left the room feeling elated.
Mizusaki “Fellow Stalking Horse” Arima(Has a Horse) riding a horse. Upfftpfft. Three horses(馬) made a herd(驫).
I headed back to homeroom while thinking up stupid rhymes about it, only to find some kind of debacle with Satomi-kun in the middle of it.
“Is something the matter, Satomi-kun?”
“Ah, Kisshouin-san. Actually…”
According to Satomi-kun, the girl who was going to be competing in the costume race sprained her ankle during lunch and suddenly couldn’t compete. Right now she was in the nurse’s office.
Iwamuro Takashi-kun, a large boy in the Judo Club, was going to be the cross-dressing Cinderella. The girl who was just injured was supposed to be carrying a pumpkin in a rat costume.
“Who will replace her?”
“Do we have a girl who can replace her?”
A number of girls hadn’t returned from lunch yet, and none of the ones here seemed too enthusiastic. I guess nobody really wanted to dress up as a rat.
Hmm~ But dressing up in a costume?
I raised my hand.
“Shall I take her place then?”
“Eh-, you, Kisshouin-san!?”
Everyone looked at me in shock.
“Yes. I was entered into the ball-tossing event, but I believe she can do so even with a sprained ankle. There should be no problems if the two of us exchange events, in that case. Of course, unless anything is stopping me I plan to participate in the ball-toss as well.”
“Are you really okay with that, Kisshouin-san?” Satomi-kun asked with some hesitance.
The costume race was a joke event, after all. I was probably one of the last people they’d have expected to participate. Admittedly I never would have if it wasn’t for this accident.
“I am fine with it,” I nodded. “I cannot promise that I will run particularly swiftly, however.”
“Then the replacement will be Kisshouin-san.”
Just as things were about to be settled, this time it was the girls in my group that complained.
“How could you make Reika-sama dress up like a rat!”
“She’s right! How could a rat costume be suitable for Reika-sama!”
And so the classroom turned noisy again. For some reason some of the other girls started vocally agreeing about how cruel it was to me.
Um, guys? I don’t actually mind this, you know? And you’re calling it cruel now, but you do remember that the person I’m replacing is a girl too, right?
I tried to calm them down, but they wouldn’t budge at all, shouting things like,
“How could you make Reika-sama dress up like some kind of amusement park mascot!”
When we realised we weren’t going anywhere, people started suggesting alternatives.
“Then can’t we just have Kisshouin-san take the part of Cinderella instead then?” said one boy.
More and more of the class seemed to get on-board with the idea.
“Kisshouin-san would be spot-on for a princess, after all.”
“I thought it’d be pretty funny to force Iwamuro into crossdressing, but doing the costume seriously might be pretty good too.”
The girls in my group seemed tentatively appeased. And so after all that tumult, I went from being the rat to Cinderella.
Me as Cinderella. But the problem was…
“Iwamuro, good for you! Looks like you’re off the hook!”
“I remember you grumbling about it too!” said a friend as he thumped Iwamuro-kun on the shoulder.
“Yeah, thank goodness,” he replied.
But I knew that was a lie. Because in the dress-fittings after the class had decided on Iwamuro-kun as our Cinderella, I noticed he looked a little happy to be wearing it.
I suspected that he was crestfallen inside. Even now he looked a little sadder.
“Please wait, everybody. I am fine being the rat.”
Everyone looked shocked again.
“The costume is tailored to Iwamuro-kun’s measurements. Additionally, Cinderella is to be the anchor of the relay race. That would be too heavy a burden for me.”
“In exchange, would it be acceptable for me to simply wear a grey dress, mouse ears, and mice slippers instead?”
Honestly, I was completely fine with the full body costume too but the girls around me weren’t likely to agree to that. Hence the compromise. I thought it would look pretty cute.
“Are you truly okay with that, Reika-sama?”
“I am. It would be dangerous to run in clothing ill-fit to me. And I must admit, I have been looking forward to seeing Iwamuro-kun in a dress!”
My classmates laughed.
“Iwamuro! Now that Kisshouin-san’s nominated you personally, there’s no more running away from this!”
“Give it your best, tranny Cinderella!”
Although Iwamuro-kun made resigned comments, his mouth was curved upwards. You really wanted to wear that Cinderella dress, didn’t you.
I decided that tomorrow I’d gift him some of the unused make-up from home.
He would probably be even happier that way. Quite possible that he’d open a door to a world he could never come back from, though.
The next day when I brought the make-up kit, Iwamuro-kun exclaimed,
but didn’t resist at all.
I put on some cream blush on his cheeks and then painted his mouth with lipstick, but he seemed delighted when he stood in front of the mirror.
In the end I secretly gave him a high quality facial mask to use the night before the athletics carnival. This way his skin would be silky smooth.
Iwamuro-kun teared up and declared that he would follow me. I had to say no to that.
Somehow a huge guy with a penchant for cross-dressing ended up attached to me…