Title: Ration Cards
Author: Kyoko Godaikun
Summary: Because of a world wide depression, food must be rationed. The work of one member of Kanjani 8 keeps the rest of the group from starving.
Time: Sometime in the year 2011
The world had been sunk into a deep economic depression. Wars had broken out in the Middle East, making fuel costs so high that it was very expensive to travel or import food.
Then the natural disasters had happened, earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes and tornados had wiped out many of the worlds food crops. Rice, a crop that had used to be the staple crop of most of the world was now rationed in most countries of the earth. Even Japan had been hard hit.
The government urged the Johnny's to work hard, to make the public forget about the problems. So that meant that Kanjani 8 worked harder then ever.
"Dinner's ready!" Maruyama Ryuhei told the rest of his group.
The very tired members of Kanjani 8 went to the kitchen table. They sat down in their usual places.
"Did you hear about the government cutting rations?" Uchi asked. "Everyone can only have a half pound of rice a week."
"Shut up Uchi," Ryo snapped.
I'm sorry, that's all we have." Maru told the rest of Kanjani 8. He gave them each a small bowl of rice. Then everyone was given a large bowl of salad. Almost all of the vegetables in the salad had been grown in the group's garden.
"It all looks so good." Shota said encouragingly.
"They say that being a vegetarian is good for you." Subaru agreed.
"Not tonight," Maru told his friends. "I was able to get some meat."
The bass player passed out the tiny bowls of canned white fish. It wasn't of a good quality, and Maru felt embarrassed.
No one grumbled about the lack of food. No one had the courage to. Maru was the one that had black market connections. He was the one that took his life in his hands to get them rice and meat.
Maru sat at the table and began to eat his vegetables. No one noticed that he had yet again skipped his serving of meat. Feeding eight people took a lot of food. If Maru went without meat that meant there was enough for the rest of the group. Maru just wished sometimes that he wasn't so hungry.
"How long has it been since we've had rationed food?" Yoko asked.
"Two years." Hina kicked his lover under the table. "Let's quit talking about the past all right?"
"Of course," Yoko went back to eating his food.
The group ate in silence. They were tired, all on the brink of exhaustion.
When Maru was finished eating, he went to the sink and put his bowls into it. He sometimes wished that he could have some privacy. But in the new age, it was impossible. To save on the fuel ration, the members of the group had moved into Maru's small house.
Maru went to a bookcase. It was strange to have a book case in a kitchen. He touched a button and the book case opened. Then he went down the steps to the basement. It was hidden from the outside world. For their survival it had to be.
The basement had been turned into a garden. He liked visiting the garden. Almost the whole basement had been turned into the thing that kept them alive. He turned on the lights that had been given to them to keep them tan. They were used to make sure the plants had enough light.
Through a door was the second secret room. This room was filled with canned food. Enough food that even if Japan had been forced to cut rations entirely, the group could eat for a year.
"So this is where you went." Ohkura said as he came down the steps.
"I wanted to check on the plants." Maru said simply.
"Today's my turn." the drummer reminded him.
"I know," Maru turned to look at the plans.
Ohkura put his arms around Maru's waist. Maru couldn't help but sigh when he felt the familiar arms hold him. "It's been a long time, hasn't it Ryuhei?"
"Sometimes I wish we could have at least two hours alone together." Maru confessed.
"We can, stay here with me." Ohkura tempted.
"You know they’ll come looking for us. They'll think we're eating their food." Maru said sadly.
"Not right away. Please Ryuhei, I need you."
"I need you too." Maru turned in Ohkura's arms. He kissed his lover.
The door to the basement opened. Hina came down the steps, closely followed by Yoko.
"I told you they came down here to kiss!" Yoko almost shouted.
Maru pulled away from Ohkura, he couldn't help but blush. He finally stammered, "This isn't what it looks like."
"You can't be here. You know the rules." Hina reminded them.
Yoko touched Hina's arm. "An hour wouldn't hurt."
"They might sneak food!"
"Maru's the one that keeps us from starving." Yoko hissed. "We have to keep him on our side. We have to give him time."
"You know the rules." Hina told them. "From now on, the two of you aren't allowed alone in the basement."
They followed Hina upstairs; their older friend locked the door.
Ohkura and Yoko went back into the living room.
Maru was about to turn and leave, when Hina stopped him. "I know it's hard with everyone having to live in your house."
"It's what we have to do."
"You can't use the basement to be with Tacchan. Everyone will think you are eating the food." Hina pointed out. "This house has an attic. Why don't you use that as your bedroom?"
"I'll consider it." Maru promised.
"You’re not the only one that can't be with your lover." With that, Hina went into the kitchen.
It was a rare day off for Kanjani 8. Maru was the only one that had to work. He had his daily morning show. He had quietly left without waking anyone. The rest of the group had waited until Maru had fallen asleep, then they had went upstairs and worked almost all night on a surprise for Maru.
Ohkura woke, he checked his watch. Maru's show was on. He got up and turned on the TV. First came the news. The first story was about the ration cut. Everyone in Japan would get half of the food that they used to. The government guaranteed that it would still be enough food to sustain a person. It was depressing to see the next story. It was about the number of deaths in Osaka from starvation. The reporter tried to make light of the news. The deaths weren't as bad as the fatalities in other countries.
It was finally the time for Maru's segment. Maru was talking to a guest. The discussion was about the new ration books. Because of the food shortage, the government had imposed stricter rationing. Maru explained to the guest that he had been living on the new ration amounts, and he wasn't hungry.
Ohkura knew that his lover was lying. He could remember Maru holding him. His friend has lost so much weight. Even though they had food, Maru was starving himself. Ohkura had looked for Maru's ration book the day before and hadn't been able to find it.
Daytime TV was so different now. The programs discussed inside gardens, the talked about quick growing food. That even though people hated the quota rice, the rice given to Japan by other countries, they should eat it.
When Maru's show was over. Ohkura decided to watch more TV. A soap opera came on, like almost everything on TV the plot was about the food shortage. Ohkura turned the channel. Everything on TV was very depressing. He watched the news channel, he felt bad for the people in the stories. Some countries had refused to ration food, and there had been hording. Many people died because of the selfishness of a few.
He knew he had to do something to get his mind off the news. Ohkura began to do his chores; it would help the time pass. He had never thought that an idol would be responsible for chickens, but it was Ohkura's turn to feed them. The chickens were kept in what used to be a laundry room. They had learned the hard way that chickens kept outside had a tendency to be stolen.
He thought of the group's surprise for Maru, to thank him for keeping them alive. They had spent almost all night creating it. He hoped it would give them some time to be alone together. He so missed being alone with his lover.
Chores kept his mind off of Maru. They had only become lovers a few weeks before the economic crash. Because the group had to live together, there was no time for privacy. The time alone with his lover was few and far between.
The drummer was originally just going to feed the chickens and pick up the eggs, but the coop was filthy. He decided it needed a good cleaning. He had to shoo the chickens into one part of the room, locking them in a fairly large cage they used when they cleaned. He felt bad for the chickens and gave them a little food to tide them over.
There was noise in the other room. Maru was back. From the excited voices, he had brought food. He could hear the door to the basement open and group members went down stairs to put the food in the group's secret storage place.
A few minutes passed. Maru came into the room. "So that's where you went."
"I was taking care of the chickens." The drummer told him.
"I wanted to ask you about something. This house has an attic. Would you like to make it our bedroom?" Maru suggested hopefully.” That is, if you still want to be with me."
"Of course I do, Baka." Ohkura tried to smile. "After I get done with the chickens, why don't I help you with the attic?"
Maru grabbed a spare broom. "If we work together, we'll get done quicker."
The chicken room was finally clean. Maru worked hard cleaning. He was weak, but he didn't stop. Ohkura watched his lover. He wasn't sure why Maru wasn't eating enough. There always seemed to be food for everyone. Food that Maru had found.
'What did you have for breakfast Ryuhei?" Ohkura asked as he swept.
"I left before breakfast." Maru pointed out.
"You could have used your ration book at the studio's cafeteria." Ohkura reminded him.
"Perhaps I forgot it." Maru lied.
"I looked through the ration book storage box. You didn't have one." He pointed out.
"Why did you do that?"
"I was worried about you." Ohkura admitted.
"I send my ration books to my parents." Maru explained. "I have two younger siblings. The government of Kyoto is stricter with rations. It's my duty to make sure they don't starve."
"I don't understand, you have connections."
"I don't want to talk about this." Maru seemed ashamed. "I make sure the group has extra food. Isn't that all that matters?"
"There's so much about you I don't understand. It's almost as if I don't know you." Ohkura began.
"The less you know the better." Maru put the broom down. He went to his lover. "Please trust me."
"Does this have something to do with your grandfather?" the drummer guessed.
"If I do certain jobs for him, he makes sure we have enough food." Maru admitted. "I know my parents moved to Kyoto to escape him. But I have to think of the group. You guys are my family."
"You don't have to tell me anything else." Ohkura reached out, touching his lover's cheek. "Thank you for keeping us alive."
"It's what I have to do." Maru said seriously.
The chicken room was finally cleaned. Maru felt a bit ashamed as he went to the attic. His lover knew the truth. He was working for his grandfather. Maru hadn't' told his lover the full truth. He was an assassin for his grandfather, whose fee was paid with food
Maru expected to find the attic the way he had left it a year before, dirty and dusty. Instead, it had been cleaned. It was a bedroom, no longer was it filthy.
"Who did this?" Maru asked.
"The rest of the group. We worked on it after you went to sleep." Ohkura tried to explain.
"I didn't expect this." Maru told him.
"It wouldn't be a surprise if you did." Ohkura went to Maru, putting his arms around him. "I love you so much."
"Even though you know my secret?"
"Even then." He kissed Maru.
No one ever told Maru thank you for bringing the group food. But the groups giving him his own bedroom made him realize that this was the group's way of telling him thank you. Maru vowed that he would continue to work hard, to keep his friends, his family alive.