Play 9: The Comedy of Spiders

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I hate spiders. A lot. 

  Those creepy eight legs seemed to send shivers down my own spine, even if it wasn't anywhere near me. Those eyes--even if they are tiny, I could feel them staring at me like I was its prey. In conclusion, spiders are the worst and most disgusting creatures ever existed on earth.

  The reason why I explained my fear for spiders was because the only public bath in the Shinsengumi had a lot of spiders living around there. I didn't know why though, and I wasn't too interested in knowing which potential areas spiders could make as their home.

  Since the bath was for men until recently, I was rather skeptical about using it. Hijikata had no choice but to assign a guard or two outside the door, just in case someone entered it and found out about my true identity. I had to wait for everyone to finish their bath before I entered too.

  I went there for the first few times, but nothing happened. I didn't know anything about the spiders residing there, and no one told me about it too. However, on an occasion when Toudou, Harada and Nagakura were guarding outside, I got the biggest shock of my life that I jumped out of the water within a second.

  I didn't realise I was screaming until the three leaders of Shinsengumi burst into the public bath. I thought that they were expecting some enemy holding me hostage, a sword near my throat, but they didn't predict a baby spider that was making me scream.

  When I met eye contact with them, I screamed again--I was stark naked, with nothing to cover myself. Toudou and Nagakura's eyes widened like tennis balls while Harada studied me from head to toe calmly, a hand to his chin. The next thing I knew I had a big wooden bucket flying across the bath.

  After getting dressed, I was sent to the demon of Shinsengumi. I apologised sincerely for over-reacting about the spider, but not when Toudou, Harada and Nagakura saw me without clothes. When I was sent back to my room, I thought to myself that I wouldn't commit the same mistake ever again.

  But it still happened, this time with Souji and Saito.

  I was getting out of the bath, wrapped in a towel, happily humming since nothing gross or scary appeared. It was then I felt something under my towel. That oh-so-familar crawling sensation sent goosebumps through my entire body. I bit my lips down hard so that I wouldn't let out a blood-curdling scream, but a tiny squeak managed to escape. I was determined not to alert the guards outside the bath--especially Souji. I didn't want him to see me in this state.

  That was what I had originally thought, but when the spider made its way down my back I couldn't suppress my voice any longer. My scream echoed in the empty bath, and part of me braced myself for the aftermath.

I might feel better if both guards rushed into the bath at once, but Souji was the one walking in calmly. I would have already aimed the nearest wooden bucket at him under normal situations, but I was on the verge of tears. Heck, I wished that I was dead--I would rather die than to handle that thing crawling behind me.

  "Souji! Spider! On my back!" I was shrieking so loud I could bet a million yen that the whole quarters had woke up to my crazy screaming. By then, I wasn't even thinking about how Hijikata would reprimand me about making a big fuss over another spider.

  Souji just showed me his usual smirk as he made his way to me. He stood in front of me, and I almost wanted to bite his head off.

  "Quick! Please! Before I--" Tears were falling from my eyes, and I guaranteed you that they weren't fake. I really did hate spiders that much.

  For a moment he didn't move, and after a second he had sighed mockingly. "Well, it can't be helped, can it?" He pulled me to his chest, and my heart skipped a beat. I was about to ask him what he was going to do when he slid his hand under my towel.

  If not for the situation--seriously, I would have kicked him in the balls, but I instead focused on not making any sound.

I could feel his cool fingertips tracing on my skin, and I shivered involuntarily. "Could you make it quick...? I'm really ticklish on my back..." I could almost hear him smiling right then, and regretted a little telling him that.

  "Here?" He whispered into my ear, causing me to turn red. I wasn't confident that my voice wouldn't be shaky when I spoke, so I shook my head in frustration. I wanted to direct him where the thing had stopped moving when someone interrupted us.

  "May I ask what you two are doing?"

  Forgetting about my invaded back, I abruptly broke apart from Souji's hold, and blushed so hard that Saito could tell how many shades of red I turned. I looked up to the person beside me to explain, but instead he burst out laughing.

  "Sorry, sorry, I was too carried away teasing this girl. Her reactions are just too interesting to watch..." Souji chuckled a little more as I forced my head to register what he was saying. The blushing Saito didn't look at me for I wasn't appropriately dressed, but I knew his pity was directed at me.

  "Wait a minute. How about the..." I gritted my teeth so tightly they would crack any moment.

  "Ah, that? I got rid of it two minutes ago." His smile sent blood rushing to my head, and I let out a bloodcurdling scream as I lunged at him.

  The next thing I knew, I was lying on my futon in my own room. Harada came in later to tell me that I had fainted in the public bath, and that Souji threw me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes back to my room. He continued, saying that Saito had to tell the rest of the captains to make sure none of their soldiers were around to witness this.

  When I asked him who helped me to get dressed, he ignored my question.

  Naturally, I got sent in to Hijikata's study room and got lectured for two hours straight. When I was about to leave, I mumbled about how motherly he was, and I had to stay in there for another half an hour.

  I snapped back to reality as Souji's eyes burnt into mine. I knew my face was red--I could feel my blood boiling from anger and embarrassment. 

  "Let. Me. Go." I gritted my teeth so hard that I was sure they were about to crack. Souji was still grinning as if I just said something funny, and I struggled against his tight grip. "Or else I'll scream--"

  "Oh, I'm sorry. Am I interrupting...?" Inoue was at the door, his face slightly red. My face turned even redder, and I pushed Souji away. This time, he let me go, eyeing at Inoue.

  "I reckon that Hijikata wants to talk to the kid." Souji patted my head, and I shook it off, glaring at him. This guy...toying with me again! 

  Inoue nodded. "He said that it is something important." I took that as a chance to escape from Souji, and stomped my way out without even looking back. 

  "Souji really adores you." Inoue said, and I flushed red again, my heart thumping against my chest.

  "You mean, he adores toying with my feelings!" I pouted angrily, and he laughed a little. 

  "He wouldn't like to tease you if he didn't like you. It's like when you see a kitten, you would want to play with it." Noticing the look on my face, he chuckled. "I didn't mean that you're a cat." 

  "Well, I don't like him one bit." I turned away from Inoue stubbornly.

  He smiled gently. "I can tell that you are enjoying your time here, though," he said, before stopping in front of Hijikata's room. I took that moment to think of what he said. Me? Enjoying my time here? I don't think so. Sure, it is more relaxing than the present world, but...I let out a quiet sigh as I stepped into his room. I don't even understand how I feel about this anymore.

~~~~~~~

I want to try my hand with the Watty Awards. I don't know if I will win, but I thought I should try.

I would try and finish this book by 31 August--though it's quite impossible unless I stop studying for my upcoming tests. This book still has a long long way to go, and I didn't want to rush through the story.

Great news! I will come up with the aftermath after this book. Since this is labelled as a tragedy, or at least (spoiler alert) the ending would be a tragedy. But of course, it will be what you don't really expect...

Please do continue supporting me. You have no idea how much this means to me, just by voting and commenting.

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