Casting a quick look behind her to see Kirari was still indeed in the shower, Sayaka quickly dashed down the stairs and shut the heavy doors of the Momobami Estate, stopping only long enough to listen for the deadbolt to whirr into place. Pulling her hoodie over her head and adjusting her sweatpants, she made a beeline to the car waiting for her at the curb. In her eagerness, she attempted to open the door as per usual, only to have pain shoot up her hand.
“F—” Sayaka bit her lip as tears welled in her eyes. She tried again with her other hand, practically falling into the car. She sucked in a painful breath. “Drive, Midari, let’s go,” she ordered, slamming the door closed.
Midari’s lone eye widened. “Holy crap, what did you do?”
Sayaka’s hands were small. The key word being ‘were’. Currently, her right hand had swelled to the size of a small navel orange; her palm was a blistering shade of red not unlike the flustered blush that graced her face whenever she was in Kirari’s presence, though the red was beginning to give way to splotches of abused purple.
“I told you what I did,” Sayaka gritted out. Maturity was a concept completely lost on Midari, as clearly the one-eyed woman gained none of it during the decade that had dumped them all into their twenties. “You wouldn’t take me to the hospital if I didn’t tell you.”
At this, Midari cackled. “No way. No fucking way. You broke your hand on—”
"It slaps back, okay?"
"That's fucking impossible." What Sayaka had divulged was nothing short of impossible. A freak accident. A one-in-million lifetime event.
“I told you it slaps back,” Sayaka snapped, feeling the tips of her ears burn. God preserve her. If she and Midari hadn’t become close friends during middle school, Sayaka would’ve attempted a car-jacking by now. “Look, just take me to the hospital. I still need to figure out how to tell Kirari about this.”
“How about, ‘Hey, babe, I broke one hand, but I got another that’s good to—’”
“No.” Sayaka refused flatly. She scowled as Midari changed lanes abruptly while making slapping motions with one of her hands, causing the car to swerve. Instinctively, Sayaka clenched her hands into fists, and another hiss of pain left her lips. “Look, can you just drive? Properly?”
“Aw, c’mon, ya gotta tell me what led up to that.” Midari jabbed a finger at Sayaka’s busted hand.
“I already told you what happened. Kirari’s my fiancée. She has been for the last few years and we've been dating since Hyakkaou. What did you expect?” Sometimes she wondered how Midari managed to survive so far into adulthood. Having deep pockets clearly must’ve helped.
“No, like, what did she ask from you?” Midari prodded eagerly, casually running a yellow light at the last possible second into a cacophony of blaring horns. In her breathiest imitation of the Momobami head’s voice, Midari continued, “Did our former prez go like, ‘Oh, Sayaka, harde—’”
“MIDARI.” Sayaka threw an elbow none too kindly into the seat. The impact only jarred her injury more, bringing a fresh wave of tears to her eyes.
“Okay, okay!” Midari took her hands off the steering wheel, holding them up in surrender. “Last question, I promise.”
Sayaka sighed. May as well let Midari get it all out of her crazy system. “What is it?”
The taller woman made a pointed show of sniffing the air and Sayaka’s blood ran cold. In her haste to seek out medical attention, she didn’t have the opportunity to—
“You realize you smell like a baby prostitute?”
Long dark hair quietly met the headrest dejectedly as the urban scenery raced past them.
Misery truly knew no bounds today.
The seats had grown stiff, the painkillers a random nurse behind the reception counter had offered her were beginning to wear off, and the ice pack on her broken hand had started sagging as it melted. For two hours Sayaka Igarashi endured the wait at the hospital, seeing mothers in labor, mangled people from motorcycle mishaps, and unfortunate souls dumb enough to contract salmonella disappear behind the closed doors of the emergency hall. Through it all, Sayaka had to endure the presence that was Midari Ikishima, chaos and masochism reincarnated.
The taller, cruder woman had been snickering on and off. Each glance at Sayaka only sent Midari howling like a hyena— Sayaka had no doubt that Midari’s imagination was spinning and milking what little details she had for all they were worth about Sayaka’s… accident.
Perhaps the worst part about the situation was that there was really nothing Sayaka could do about it.
Thus Sayaka Igarashi suffered in silence, listening to the hyena howls devolve further into the chortles and snorts of a donkey— of an ass. In her solitude, Sayaka found no reprieve as Midari’s question rang loudly in her ears.
‘You realize you smell like a baby prostitute, right?’
Sayaka cringed. This was embarrassing. As a prominent member of society, serving publicly as Kirari Momobami’s lawyer, being recognized in such a disheveled state only compounded the misfortune that befell upon her today. She tugged the hood of her sweater to obscure more of herself in the shadows. The face mask she wore concealed everything but her eyes.
No one would recognize her, all would be well, even if she did reek right now.
Finally. Sayaka turned to Midari. “Don’t do anything while I’m gone.”
“Don’t you want me to come with you?”
“Igarashi-san?” The technician called again, scanning the waiting area for signs of acknowledgment.
“They’re calling me for x-rays, I’ll be back.”
Midari shrugged as she continued playing on her phone. She lounged, throwing her feet on Sayaka’s freshly vacated seat, much to the chagrin of the onlookers and bystanders. However, none of it fazed her. That was until she noticed the shadow being casted over her. Annoyed, she lazily acknowledged, “Yeah, what?”
“Fancy seeing you here, Ikishima-san.”
Midari snapped her head up. “Eh?” She squinted against the fluorescence leaking around the silhouette casting an eclipse. The voice, however, remained familiar; a flash of blonde hair coupled with a cocky smile. Except the Hyakkaou uniform had been replaced with subdued blue scrubs and white tennis shoes. “Eh? Saotome? That you?”
A smirk formed on the blonde’s lips. “What are you doing here? What did you break?”
At the question, Midari guffawed, slapping a hand on her knee. She swung her feet back to the tile flooring and jabbed a thumb toward her own chest. “I didn’t break anything. I’m here cuz of our little miss ex-secretary.”
Mary’s brow furrowed. “Igarashi-san? She’s here?”
“Oh, yeah,” Midari drew out the two words with a smile packed to the brim with secrets. “Oh, yeah, she’s here alright.”
“What’s she in for?”
As if on cue, Sayaka reappeared from parted doors on the far side of the room.
“She kinda messed up her hand.” Midari answered vaguely, keeping an eye on her childhood friend. A glint appeared in her sole eye. “Yo, gimme your number. I don’t have much time.”
Midari pointed behind Mary, toward an approaching Sayaka Igarashi who had a stern expression on her face.
“Oh, yeah, sure.” Mary muttered, quickly rattling off her mobile number. They could continue this conversation in safer circumstances. She had accidentally messed with Sayaka once before, long ago, back in high school. That had resulted in the ass-whooping of a lifetime that left both mental and physical scars. She surreptitiously turned on her heel, only to nearly crash into the ex-secretary. “Fuck—”
Sayaka merely brushed past Mary as if she didn’t exist. She fixed Midari with a suspicious look. “What are you up to?”
Sayaka wanted to punch her own forehead, busted hand be damned. “Who else would I be talking to? Her?” Sayaka jerked her head toward the blonde resident intern loitering behind her.
“Hey!” Mary pivoted on her heel, insulted and vexed. Kirari’s elitism had rubbed off on Sayaka over the years, and it was beginning to rear its ugly head.
Channeling every ounce of her fiancée’s coolness, Sayaka spun to meet the blonde. “Yes, did you need something?”
Mary scowled. Then she wrinkled her nose. The furrowing of her brows followed as her olfactory senses attempted to decipher the odd scent. She sniffed audibly. “Why do you smell like…”
Taking another page from her fiancée's almighty rich bitch book, Sayaka narrowed her eyes, daring the blonde to go on. Midari snickered in the background.
“Know what? Never mind.” Mary mumbled, walking away. Halfway across the lobby, her phone buzzed, demanding her attention.
‘Sayaka broke her hand hitting the ex-prez’s ass.’
Realization dawned upon Mary Saotome as she attempted to blow out as much of the odd scent she could from her nostrils. Picking up her pace, she processed the information, going rapidly from doom to amusement before finally settling on cackling like a hyena as Midari had. Rounding the corner by the nurses desk, she fished for Sayaka’s file.
“Um… Mary-san?” A male voice prodded hesitantly. “What are you doing?”
As if on cue, the young lawyer’s voice rang across the entire floor of the hospital. “YOU SENT WHAT TO SAOTOME?"
Without elaboration, Mary flashed a reassuring smile— one that failed to reach her eyes. “We’re ready to see Sayaka Igarashi. Go fetch her from the waiting room and see what her deal is.”
Kirari Momobami’s secretary-turned-lawyer squinted at the male nurse guiding them down the hallway. From the way he had greeted Midari and her, it felt as if they had crossed paths before. Sayaka just couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She had caught a glimpse of his identification badge; the name ‘Ryota Suzui’ didn’t ring any bells.
“So, uh, what are you in here for today?” The nurse scratched his boyish brown hair as he turned around, crocs squeaking against the sterile tiles.
Sayaka merely held her swollen, blotched hand in the air, as if to ask, ‘Does this look normal to you, dumbass?’
“Oh, yeah, Sayaka here— you remember Sayaka, right, Suzui?” At the nurse’s nod, Midari carried on with a wide grin plastered across her face, draping an arm around the smaller woman’s shoulders casually as if they were good ‘ol pals. “See, anyway, Sayaka here broke her hand slapping—”
“Midari!” Sayaka barked sharply. She audibly exhaled, eyes slightly widened in a warning glare toward her long-time friend. At this rate, the doctors would have to amputate her hand entirely by the time she was done clobbering the one-eyed girl. It was times like these that Sayaka truly missed her high school days, where she could wield her military-grade taser and use it with impunity. All her reputation as a dignified human being, carefully cultivated during her service under Kirari Momobami at Hyakkaou Academy— but more importantly, not to mention Kirari’s reputation — all of it would spiral down the drain if Midari couldn’t keep her mouth shut. It was bad enough that Midari had spilled the beans to Mary Saotome over text.
Sayaka grinded her teeth. Then again, Midari would probably enjoy getting slapped; the masochist would probably enjoy getting tased even more.
That left one option. “I swear, Midari, if you cross this patient-doctor confidentiality, I’ll make sure you’ll never see Yumeko Jabami ever again.”
Fear of God washed over Midari’s suddenly pallid features. She turned toward Ryota, who watched the exchange with an air of confusion. Midari always remembered him to be a bit of a dullard, but it was clear that the years had not been kind to his comprehension abilities. But really, did Ryota ever understand anything at all, much less completely?
“Oh, you guys remember Yumeko?” Ryota asked obliviously, eyes perking up with excitement. He opened the door to an examination room, waving the two women inside.
Remember Yumeko? What a simp this man was.
Sayaka internally seethed as hopped on the examination bed, the tissue covering crinkling as she took a seat. A decade later and memories of that woman never failed to dredge up feelings of anxiety, unease, and anger. Sayaka clenched her jaw. “Yes, of course we remember her.”
“Sayaka broke her hand,” Midari spoke quickly, offering nothing more. Distracting Sayaka away from memories of Yumeko Jabami was akin to saving the compulsive gambler from the ex-secretary’s wrath.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Ryota nodded, scribbling on the tablet. He turned to face Sayaka, completely unaware of the hate and ire festering in her dark eyes. “So, uh, next question. How did you break your hand?”
Sayaka mentally swore she was going to break his skull. “Just get a doctor in here.”
“Um, sure!” Ryota checked the tablet. Given Sayaka’s attire and the odd, stale scent of sweat and something else, it was obvious to Ryota that the woman probably had injured her hand at the boxing ring or something. “I’ll go fetch our resident.”
“Thank you.” Sayaka crossed her arms, then winced as she bumped her hand. Anyone, even a mere resident intern, would be better than this sad excuse of a human from the lesser sex.
Mary Saotome strode into the room. The wide grin on her face was accompanied by the enthusiastic gleam in her amber eyes. Her set-up had gone perfectly. Served Kirari’s sycophant of a pet right for looking down on her in the lobby earlier. It really was disgusting, given how they were likely to be sister-in-laws sooner rather than later.
Sayaka braced herself as she stared, mouth agape and aghast at the sight of Mary Saotome. So much for not having anyone recognizing her.
Those amber eyes fully took in the swollen, bruised hand.
They then flickered to Sayaka’s emotionally dead face.
Then settled back on the battered hand Igarashi was cradling with a sad, drooping ice pack that was icy no longer.
Giggles and snickers rose in Mary Saotome’s throat as she took in the entire scene. Behind Sayaka, Midari’s grin only encouraged the laughter. It was too late. There was no point in trying to choke down her sobs of laughter and the blonde doubled over completely, the stethoscope swinging wildly from her neck as she somehow simultaneously clutched her stomach and slapped her thigh gleefully.
“I don’t fucking believe it,” the blonde choked out, breathless.
“Better believe it.” Midari affirmed, snickering away.
“Midari, please.” Sayaka dark eyes were seeing through Mary Saotome’s bent over form, through the pasty beige walls of the room, down the hallway from whence she came, back into the car and back to the home she shared with Kirari— even if her beloved’s ass was the cause of all this. Another sigh fell from Sayaka’s lips. “Don’t you have a job to do?”
“R— right.” Mary choked for air like a drowning woman before standing upright. Her stomach hurt. And her ribs? The resident intern was certain that they would be sore for days.
Sayaka coughed as she locked gazes with Mary.
“Alright, okay.” Donning her best behavior and straightening out her posture, she tapped the table. “Rest your hand here and— and—”
It was far too much. The tide of laughter could not be stymied as Mary broke down once more. Determined, though, was the blonde— and she was not about to let a broken hand prevent her from doing her job. Between wheezes of air, a strangled laugh, and some rib-shaking chortling, Mary came to the conclusion. “Yeah, okay…” She backed off, wiping a stray tear from her eye. “You definitely broke your hand.”
“Great. Thanks for telling me what I told you— no, what Midari told you— from the start.” Sayaka remarked dryly. Gradually, she felt less and less like a patient and more and more like a circus freak: the woman who broke her hand on a Momobami ass.
“Let’s see now,” Mary picked up her tablet and began recording her observations. A sly grin formed on her face; that morphed into another fit of laughter as she scrolled through Sayaka’s file. “Oh God, this just keeps getting better . I’ll go fetch the attending physician, please wait.”
Dr. Ririka Momobami thought her eyes were playing tricks on her, as they tended to when her shifts were coming to a close. Being a new attending physician meant that she had the last of the picks when it came to drawing shifts each quarter: weekends, nights, and holidays. The senior doctors, however, didn’t treat her as poorly as they did with some of the fresh graduates. Having your own twin sister sitting on the hospital’s board of directors helped.
Nonetheless, Ririka couldn’t help but read and re-read Sayaka Igarashi’s chart once more. Disbelief sank into her bones and weighed down her shoulders. Surely her girlfriend must be joking; they were at work, not at a family gathering where they could be petty and play pranks.
‘Broke right hand on Momobami ass. Couldn’t check x-rays, sorry. Also couldn’t take vitals. Too busy laughing.’
From her time as the student council vice-president, Ririka was aware of Sayaka’s unhealthy habit of hurting herself. A self-inflicted punch to the forehead, a headbutt against a wall, slamming her palms down on the table with full force— Ririka witnessed it all. Even on the occasion that Ririka hadn’t been present, her beloved younger sister suffered a severe case of Sayaka Igarashi brain rot that had only grown progressively worse as they entered the later half of their twenties. What started out as ‘Sayaka, work, clan, gambling’ evolved into ‘Sayaka this, Sayaka that, Sayaka works for me, Sayaka’s in the clan, Sayaka is going gambling with me, I’m going to marry Sayaka’. And so Ririka got all the Sayaka Igarashi news— sometimes more than what she bargained for.
A slight blush dusted her cheeks. She really didn’t need to know what her sister and her precious ex-secretary were up to. That was truly too much information. Bracing herself, Ririka shook her head as she slid-open the door.
Blue eyes met shocked violet ones.
Ririka observed as blood drained from Sayaka’s face, leaving the poor broken-handed lawyer almost as pale as her younger twin sibling. Then, as if reanimating from the dead, blood rocketed back into her face, coloring it in the deepest shade of red that Ririka had ever seen Sayaka wear. The doctor was mildly surprised that the sudden drop and rebound in blood pressure didn’t knock the ex-secretary out cold.
“Oh, God,” The lawyer and doctor both whispered to themselves in unison.
“It’s…” Ririka stopped herself. Somehow, greeting her sister’s fiancée with an 'it’s good to see you again' didn’t seem to quite fit the occasion. The doctor tried again, swallowing the knot in her throat. She had to get her act together. They were all adults now, for crying aloud. “It’s surprising to see you here, Igarashi-san.”
“Likewise.” Sayaka heard herself reply. Her brain was officially on auto-pilot; it was the only way that she could survive this so she could see her twenty-seventh birthday next month. She couldn’t possibly leave Kirari alone in a world packed with these immature ‘adults’.
“I… I take it that you broke your hand?” Ririka inquired stiffly, doing her best to maintain propriety, even if that concept was entirely lost on her twin while they were growing up.
Sayaka’s black ponytail swung as she nodded. “That’s correct,” she confirmed professionally, voice dropping a tad as she adopted her ‘top dom courtroom’ voice as Kirari had affectionately coined it.
“Okay, let’s, um, let’s see.” Ririka carefully held the broken hand in hers, all the while trying not to think about where the palm had been hours earlier. She subtly wrinkled her nose, frowning slightly as her blonde girlfriend had done earlier in the lobby. The scent of sweat mixed in with Kirari’s perfume along with the smell of—
“Yes, we know—” Midari interjected, voicing Ririka’s thoughts. Things were too formal and boring for her tastes. All talk and no action. “Sayaka there smells like a baby fucking prostitute.”
Ririka mentally blanched as she internally shuddered. The silver haired doctor blinked rapidly in an attempt to erase undignified assumptions about her sister and Sayaka, fighting to maintain her professionalism.
“Well, it’s… it’s definitely broken,” Ririka parroted what Mary offered earlier, dutifully ignoring Midari’s outburst.
“Yes.” Sayaka did her best not to sigh, also pretending that her childhood friend didn’t exist at that very moment. “But how bad is it?”
Ririka stood from her chair and strode over to the x-ray board, flipping the backlight on. Her fingernail tapped at the dark sheets of film. “Well, the second and third metacarpals on your right hand are broken. To top it off, you also suffered severe strains on the surrounding ligaments.”
Sayaka stared back blankly. Ririka may as well have said all that in Greek. “So… that means I broke my second and third…?”
“Bones in your palm. The ones connecting your index and middle fingers to the mosaic of bones near your wrist.” Ririka held up her own hand and traced those exact same bones over her smooth palm.
“My index and middle fingers?” That was unacceptable. Mortification dropped Sayaka’s jaw to the ground. Kirari would never stand for this. And if Kirari wouldn’t stand for this, neither could Sayaka.
Behind Sayaka, Midari snorted loudly. It was joined by a stifled snicker from the blonde resident intern.
“The good news," Ririka emphasized, sensing Sayaka’s mortification, “is that the fracture is clean and without rotation, thus saving you from surgery. You'll just need to wear a cast for three weeks or so.”
Three whole weeks.
Three entire fucking weeks without the use of her index and middle finger on her dominant hand.
Sayaka bit back her true feelings dancing on the tip of her tongue. They were in the prime of their lives. How did Ririka expect her and her sister to survive three entire weeks without… without…
Sayaka shook her head in an attempt to reign in her emotions and whatever feeble control she had over the situation. She inhaled deeply, then exhaled, nostrils flaring. “And how bad is the cast?”
“We’ll have you wear a radial gutter splint. Here, let me bring up a picture...” Ririka mumbled as she tapped on the tablet before turning the image toward Sayaka.
Dread sent Sayaka’s blood pressure plummeting once more as she took in the picture of the splint. A radial gutter splint. The image was every bit as dreadful as the name itself. Her index and middle fingers would be locked and bound together into a semi-permanent 'L' position, as if she were in the process of beckoning something to come forth in a frozen, ‘come hither’ motion.
Sayaka cringed as she imagined the comments Kirari’s gutter-dwelling mind would conjure at its presentation.
“Isn’t there… another position you can set my hand in?” Sayaka asked, not bothering to hide the fact that her soul was withering away before everyone’s very eyes.
“Unfortunately, we need the fingers in an 90-degree angle so the metacarpals are fully extended— that will ensure that the ligaments and tendons are both adducted and abducted to facilitate a speedy and full recovery.”
The young lawyer couldn’t keep in her misery anymore. Her face crumpled as she shook her head. Defeat settled in her void and empty gaze.
“It’s… it’ll be alright.” Ririka reassured weakly. “But, um, there’s one other thing.”
“Yes?” Sayaka acknowledged hollowly. At this rate, she wished Ririka would’ve offered her the amputation and prosthetics option. That way she could slap as hard as Kirari wanted to with literal diamond hands and not break the bones in her palm.
“So in the file currently it says, um, that you broke your hand on, um… ‘Momobami ass’. Due to the nature of this involving another person, I am obligated to ask, under law, that this was not a, um, domestic dispute?” Ririka barely eked out the last words, squeezing her eyes shut as if to bleach Mary’s written observations from her sight forever.
Sayaka flushed indignantly. “You know I wouldn’t hit Kirari! Not without her permission!” The mere thought of it was preposterous, unthinkable— impossible. It took Sayaka another moment to register the words that had dodged her verbal filter and flown out of her mouth.
Sometimes Ririka hated her job.
Not without Kirari’s permission. No, Sayaka didn’t hit Kirari. No, ma'am, not without the Momobami head’s permission.
The doctor buried her face in her hands, shedding all pretenses of propriety. Much like her sister years ago, Ririka Momobami did not wish to see, praying that the darkness behind her eyelids would simply swallow her up whole and spare her this embarrassment. “So could you, um, elaborate on what happened?”
Sayaka’s non-injured hand rubbed her eye. She, too, wished to unsee this moment that would inevitably be seared into her memory. “Kirari,” she started.
“Right… Kirari Momobami...” Like her twin, the older Momobami braced herself for impact from Sayaka, albeit this time it was an impact of a different sort.
Sayaka nodded with a thousand yard stare in her dark eyes.
There really was a point of no return, and Sayaka Igarashi could safely say that— on that particular day, in that particular ER room, with three very particular people serving as witnesses— she had found said point. During times like these, it was best to rip off the proverbial bandage in one go.
Swallowing her pride, Sayaka spilled in an emotionally dead voice, as if delivering a testament in the courtroom, “Kirari made me slap her ass, and, yes, believe it or not, it’s hard as rocks, if not harder .”
That revived the howling in the background. Mary doubled over, seeking support from the nearest wall as she braced her forearm against it; she fought for air, fairly certain that she would have to hook herself up to a spare ventilator if this kept up. Tears rimmed Midari’s eyes as spittle flew. Each person’s uncontrollable laughter only set the other off even more. There was no end in sight.
It was all the gracious, esteemed Dr. Ririka Momobami could muster. Nonetheless, she couldn’t prevent more heat from rising to her cheeks and setting her pale ears aflame.
“I— I— I still— hey, Ririka,” Mary mustered, wheezing like an asthmatic whose inhaler supply was severely rationed by a crippled healthcare system. “Hey, Ririka, this is unfucking real. I can’t believe Kirari— her ass — holy shit— did she get injections—”
“We’re not here to speculate on my fiancée’s cosmetic enhancements or the lack thereof. I will let you know that I am more than capable of suing you for libel and pressing charges, especially with what you’ve written in my file,” Sayaka gritted through her teeth as Ririka studied the buttons of her white coat with more interest than any sane person should. “And even if I don’t file a lawsuit, let me remind you that I was the one who sent you to the emergency room to get metal plates screwed into your face all those years ago.”
Memories of a heel swinging and shattering her eye orbital flashed across Mary’s vision. She shuddered, clamping her mouth shut in silent acquiescence.
“But still, Saotome’s right,” Midari cackled, clearing pushing the envelope. “Who knew that the former prez—”
Sayaka clapped her good hand against her forehead, exasperated and drained before shooting a pointed glare over her shoulder. “Shut up. You wouldn’t believe me earlier when I said that her ass slaps back.”
“Damn, she must be thi—”
“Midari!” Sayaka sighed, turning back to Ririka, “Can we just… Let’s just fix my hand.”
Ririka nodded as she wheeled her chair closer to her patient and braced herself for the fragrance of ‘baby prostitute’ to linger in her nose for the rest of her shift. “Right, um...”
Sayaka sighed. These questions were beginning to feel like an interrogation— and Sayaka was not used to being on the other side of the interrogation table. “Yes, what else do you need to know?”
It was Ririka’s turn to don the thousand yard stare. Her life was truly suffering. “Should I be expecting my sister to come through here soon as well?”