Getting By

Having a real job was strange. Her entire life, Wakana had sat in the lap of luxury. Back in Fuuto, her radio job had been more of a hobby than anything else. But now she had no choice but to work—no job meant no food and no place to live, and her boyfriend... well. Her boyfriend wasn’t going to bring home the bacon.

She smiled down at the couple sitting at the table in front of her and curtsied in her apron. “Welcome! What can I get for you today?”

At least she’d perfected the art of the customer service smile.

She was exhausted by the time she got off work and trudged home to find Philip passed out on the floor.

The first time this had happened, she’d panicked. She’d been just about to call an ambulance when Philip woke up and explained everything to her: He was one half of Fuuto’s Kamen Rider. His connection with his partner, Shotaro, was unbreakable no matter how far apart they were.

This was half of the reason he floated from job to job: Passing out on the clock wasn’t very useful in most workplaces.

The other half was his insatiable research mania. He would spend a day reading up on something—like, say, baking—and decide that his new life-long dream was to be a baker. He’d lasted a week at the little bakery down the street before he decided baking was dull and he wanted to try something else.

Wakana pursed her lips as she picked Philip up by his armpits and dragged him onto the futon, one of only two pieces of furniture they owned. Sometimes she wondered why she put up with him.

When she wandered over to the kitchen island to get something to eat, she saw he’d already prepared a lasagna for dinner. Right, he had been on an Italian food kick for the last couple of days, hadn’t he?

After a few minutes he woke up. “Oh— Wakana, welcome home!” he exclaimed with a smile that melted her heart.

Okay. This was why she put up with him.

“Wakana,” Philip said over lasagna as they knelt at the dinner table, the other piece of furniture they owned. “I’ve given a lot of thought to our financial situation.”

“Oh?” She raised an eyebrow.

“As it turns out, there may just be a way for us to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. Have you heard of the Tokyo Stock Exchange?”

Wakana barked out a laugh, spilling a mouthful of lasagna back onto her plate. “Seriously?!”

“So you know of it?”

“Philip, the stock market is completely unreliable. We’ll just lose money!”

He grinned that grin that Wakana had come to associate with a creeping sensation of dread. “Not with my abilities. The results of my lookup indicate that there exists a cheap stock belonging to a certain company that recently began putting significant resources into developing an intriguing new medical technology. This decision, it happened on the first of the month; today is the sixteenth. This type of development typically signifies a future increase in stock prices, which means that within three more months—”

“Philip, Philip,” Wakana broke in. “That’s called insider trading.”

“Is that bad?”

She had to think. “Well... Actually, I guess there isn’t a law against using your weird brain library...”

“Then it’s settled! And none too soon. While you were at work, I invested twenty thousand yen into this company’s stock.”

Wakana shrieked.

The gambit paid off, but Wakana made Philip sell once they were at a hundred thousand. Her heart couldn’t take it. All for the better, really—shortly thereafter, he lost his interest in stocks and started reading up on cross-country skiing.

Things could be worse, she decided. At least she was free of her father.

Tomorrow could only get better.