Epiphany

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"I think... I think Minoru drugged me." Likely more than once.

There was the weekend at her house where you were asleep more than you were awake. "Now why don't you take a nap?"

Then there was the day you almost drowned, where you passed out almost immediately after taking her "vitamin." "It'll make you feel better."

Finally, you'd been feeling a little too focused after lunch every day since you started eating what she brought you. "Pay attention."

"Already? She waited weeks before digging her hooks into Hinata and Kimiko. Now they're both addicted to her shit." Oshiro looked and sounded exhausted. She ran a hand down her face before continuing, "She... She must really like you... Want to keep you around. All the more reason for you to leave the group now, while you still have the chance."

"I'm not leaving," you said with a tone of finality.

"You don't believe me. Of course you don't. I must sound insane." She let out a strained laugh that certainly sounded like it would come from a deranged person.

"No, I believe you. It's just... I'm in trouble, and I need Minoru. I can't afford to confront or offend her." You remember what you said that day you just barely escaped from Minoru's care. "I'll always need you." What a mistake that was. But it worked. You were friends, just like that. You just didn't know then how Minoru treated her friends.

"What kind of trouble?"

"I can't tell you." You wouldn't believe me even if I told you, you thought, almost resentful you had no one to share your predicament with. No, this was your burden to bear.

"Is it that bad?"

"Yes. It could get me killed."

"Holy shit," Oshiro whispered, eyes wide and blue as the open ocean. "Okay... If you need protection, Minoru offers it in droves. You just have to be willing to pay the price." She thought for a second before continuing, "It might be nice having another sane person in the group."

That was promising. Maybe she was coming around to the idea of you joining the clique, then. First things first, though...

"Promise me something," you said quietly.

"Anything," she answered, a little too quickly considering she didn't know your request.

"Promise me you'll stop hurting people. Bullying me and Hinata isn't helping. You're just driving us more into Minoru."

"I... I'll try. Violence is my first language, and I have a reputation to uphold, but I'll try," she promised, looking conflicted but earnest.

You knew it would be difficult for her, with the boys at her back, looking on expectantly, and Minoru standing by, waiting for the first sign of vulnerability to swoop in.

"Do your best. Friends?"

"Friends. Minoru and Hinata are probably blowing up your phone. Where is it, by the way?"

"My phone? You killed it the day you almost killed me in the fountain. I don't have the money to replace it."

"That's not good. Minoru's gonna offer to buy you a new phone. Whatever you do, don't accept it."

"I'm a fool, not an idiot." There was a marked difference between lack of wisdom and lack of intelligence.

"Whatever you say, princess," Oshiro scoffed, obviously finding you lacking in both departments.

"Why do you call me that?" You asked out of curiosity. You could see Minoru as a queen or a princess, but you? Hardly.

"Minoru's like an evil witch out of a fairytale. Collecting princesses in that castle of hers."

"She collected you, didn't she? Doesn't that make you a princess too?" You tried to relieve some of the seriousness of the atmosphere with a bit of teasing. She just scowled at you.

"She collected me alright. But I'm no princess. I'm a fucking dragon." She popped her collar as she said it. It came across as a threat.

"You said before you owed Minoru a debt... How so?"

"I don't want to talk about it." Oshiro grimaced and started fidgeting in her seat.

You nodded and didn't push the subject. She didn't push you when you couldn't tell her what kind of trouble you were in, after all. You simply said, "I'll see you out."

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