Remember this skeezer?
She has a story now! First off is a one-shot that spawned the rest of the story. It's mostly independant of the rest, but serves to give a feel for the character.
The next part is the actual first chapter of the story. The two potential love interests are also OCs of mine. Take a guess whos going to be the OTP here.
I'd like to thank Extremist_Line for letting me use Luke Fisher
as a major character and serving as a previewer and continuity consultant along with Smoku.Speaking of which, this story contains elements that will spoil the end of "Thank God For Hangovers."
Namely, the fact that
Luke ends up with Hanako, and that at some point they almost certainly have sex.
And if Yoshiko seems to be a bit of a bitch when Emi's around, that's because she is. Gotta have room for improvement, y'see.
Intro: Parallel Bars
================================================================================================================================WITH HARD WORK AND PERSEVERANCE, YOU CAN OVERCOME ANY OBSTACLE! (c)2005 Yamaku Foundation. Printed in Taiwan.
Yoshiko Tachibana sat on the padded floor of Yamaku's physical therapy room, her back against the mirror-clad wall. Across the large room were posters outlining workout safety procedures, dietary suggestions, and worst of all, cripple culture.
There were scenes of visibly disabled people participating in improbable activities with normal people who seemed to be completely oblivious to their companions' condition. One poster had a one legged girl with crutches playing American football with normal bodied peers.
Seriously, American football
, on one leg and with both arms occupied with crutches. There would be a poster of someone in an iron lung going on a camping trip if those machines weren't becoming a relic of the past. That atmosphere of artificial acceptance really got on Yoshiko's nerves. It was one thing to accept and tolerate a disability, but flaunting it? Were gimps somehow better people because of their life experience? Or maybe these posters were supposed to imply that normal people were obligated to drag them along for their normal-people activities, like when parents force their children to have play-dates with unpopular kids against their will.
Thankfully, Luke, Yoshiko's companion seemed to be perfectly normal, all things considered. He was a third year transfer student from America with whom she had been meeting up with in the therapy gym for several days in a row. His physical education class required him to go through several class periods worth of safety and procedure orientations before he would be allowed to use any of the equipment.
By chance, Luke partnered up with Yoshiko and to his amusement, found that she was the hack writer who penned the school newspaper's poorly researched video game reviews. Despite her total and complete incompetence as an entertainment journalist, she and Luke managed to get along.
"So, are you from that part of America where everyone does drugs and is like, you know, this way?" Yoshiko asked Luke while fluttering her hands like a limp wristed pansy.
"No, that's California, I think." He replied. "I'm from the deep south."
"Deep south..." Yoshiko put her thumbs to her temples as she searched through her "foreign stereotype" files.
"Oh! Can you play the banjo?"
"Er... No. I'm more of a guitar kind of guy. I've always wanted to learn that."
Banjo playing was probably the most flattering thing she could think of that was associated with American southerners. It took a great amount of restraint to keep from bringing up trailer parks and kissing cousins.
The kid was not only new to school, but was also a gigantic foreigner; the last thing he needed was more crap to deal with. After all, Yoshiko's guidance counselor specifically warned against seeking to press the buttons of new acquaintances. Not that she ever gave a shit about what that scatterbrained idiot thought, though it would be nice to make a new friend once in a while.
"Is it hot back home?" She changed to a more benign subject, hoping not to alienate yet another schoolmate.
"Yeah. Real humid too."
"That's too bad," Yoshiko flicked her finger as she crossed "Southern USA" from her list of possible places to live. "Otherwise, I'd think I'd like to live there. And get a big pickup truck. And have a big dog. And live in a big house..."
"Really? I couldn't find my way here soon enough. Why would you want to go to America?"
"See these?" Yoshiko pointed out the linear scars on her legs and arms.
"When the doctors were putting me back together, my parents wanted me to grow up taller than they are cuz they're both like, midgets, so the surgeons stretched out my arms and legs when I was in traction. I'm about a head taller than I naturally would be. What my orthopedist didn't count on was me having one hell of a growth spurt. You'd think he'd know about stuff like that."
"What's that have to do with going to America?"
"Aren't women taller there?" Yoshiko buried her head between her knees as she undid her leg braces and threw them aside. "You might not have noticed but I'm taller than almost every girl here, and I'm only a first year!"
"They tell me I'll probably be..." Yoshiko gnawed at her thumbnail as she did metric to imperial unit conversions in her head. "...at least six feet tall when I graduate. Probably taller."
"That's okay." Luke laughed. "I'll be fine as long as you're shorter than me. So does it hurt?"
"You have no idea." Yoshiko winced as she pulled herself up onto the parallel bars to walk without braces for the first time since her accident. "Sometimes I down the morphine until I could barely think straight just to get out of bed. I'm actually quite high right now."
"Are you serious?" Luke gasped with concern. "If it hurts that much, shouldn't you be taking it easy instead of hanging out in here making yourself walk?"
"What, are you a doctor, now?" Yoshiko teasingly raised an eyebrow.
"No, I'm not I'm just..."
"That's right, you're not a doctor. Because if you were, you would be saying something absolutely retarded to make yourself feel smart. Like 'sorry, young lady, you'll never be able to walk again,' or 'the straps are there to protect you from yourself, Yoshi-chan.' But..."
Yoshiko smiled at the lumbering foreign boy. Maybe he was alright, after all.
"...Since you're not a doctor, Mister Lucas Fisher, I will follow your advice and stay here only a half hour instead of my usual two full ones."
"Wait... straps? So, you've been in an institution too, huh?"
"Yeah, I got a little depressed and some shrink twisted around some things I said and..." Yoshiko saw that Luke was getting very uncomfortable with the subject and stopped herself from proceeding.
"Well, how about this? Let's just file our nut house experiences under things we have in common and just leave it at that."
"Fine by me."
"What to talk about, what to talk about..." She stood at the bars in thought, her elbows locked for support. She had already determined that video games, although an icebreaker, certainly weren't common ground. Yoshiko only was interested enough in games to write passable reviews in the school paper, while Luke owned gaming systems she had not even heard of. In fact, her first conversation with Luke was about some factual errors her column had.
"Girlfriend, Luke. Do you have one?"
"Eh, sorry," He replied, obviously caught off guard. "I do."
"Relax, bud. I wasn't asking you out. Is it that girl you came in with the other day? I used to see her at the library a lot. She's cute."
“Wait a second, Yoshiko.” Luke asked, visibly surprised. “So um, do you...”
“Like girls?” Yoshiko rarely spoke about her romantic preferences but the look on Luke's face was just too priceless to ignore.
“Actually, I don't know. I've never been with a girl. Or a boy, now that you mention it. I dunno, I just woke up one day and realized that I felt the same about both boys and girls: nothing. I haven't really been able to imagine myself in any sort of relationship. So is that the girl yours?”
"Yeah, her name is Hanako. We've been going out for a few weeks. After this, I'm going to meet up with her and we're going to work out for a bit."
"So she's taken, huh? That's too bad."
"What? I'm sorry if I took an opportunity from you..."
"Oh no, it's fine." Yoshiko replied, looking back at Luke. "I'm in no shape to be chasing after crushes. Really, I'm glad she found someone nice."
"So I'm nice, huh? Um, thanks, Yoshiko."
"Please, it's Nikki."
"Yoshiko...Nikki... How did you come up with that?"
A diminutive figure entering the gym's doorway made Yoshiko's blood freeze.
"Hey, Luke, do me a favor really quick. Go stand over at the other end of the bars there."
"That bubbly little harpy from the track team likes to butt in whenever she sees someone here working out alone. Act like your my partner really quick, okay?"
"Who, Emi?" Luke looked back and exchanged waves with Yoshiko's harpy. "What do you have against her?"
"She's so... so... UGH." Yoshiko shuddered as she unlocked her elbows and began walking towards Luke. "She's so Yamaku
"I don't follow."
"I'm just here to go to school and get my legs fixed. She's all 'Yippeee Yippeee look at meeee I don't have any legs and I'm still better than you! Weeeeee!'" Yoshiko gave an arrogance-flavored impersonation of Emi's voice.
"Dude, she's not like that. She's actually really nice."
"To you, maybe. She doesn't treat you like a project of hers. When she gets it in her head that you might need help, she'll just get all in your face with her perkiness and gimp attitude."
"She's just trying to be supportive, Nikki. There's nothing wrong with a little encouragement."
"Do I fucking look like I need encouragement?" Yoshiko yelped as her first step sent shooting pain from her ankles up to her hips. "If I had a motivational deficiency, I wouldn't be killing myself on these stupid rails!"
"Yeah-huh..." With his girlfriend entering the building, Luke failed to notice Yoshiko snapping at him. "Hey um, Nikki, I gotta go. Sorry, but Hanako is here. You can manage by yourself, right? I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"Wait no, don't... AWWW!" As Luke ran off with Yoshiko's library girl, Emi approached, her attention seized by Yoshiko's crying out.
"Hey Nikki! How are you doin? I didn't know you knew Luke." Emi bounded her way towards the rails Yoshiko was using. Her use of a jogging suit that day indicated that she chose to wear her "normal" legs that day, instead of flaunting her running blades.
." Yoshiko replied in English. Insults in foreign languages had become a bit of a hobby for her, since it allowed Yoshiko to vent her frustrations whenever she pleased with minimum consequences.
"Whats that, Nikki?"
"Tachibana is fine." Yoshiko passively scolded Emi for using her nickname. "I'm just practicing some English greetings he taught me."
"Oh, okay. So I see you started without me. And no braces too! Good job!"
"Soon, you won't even need them anymore. What will you do with them then?"
"I'll shove them up your asshole
." Yoshiko again replied in English. "Er, I'm going to put them on my trophy wall, next to the titanium rods I used to have in my legs."
"That's the spirit! Oh! While we're on the subject of titanium, wanna see my new legs?"
Yoshiko didn't, but she couldn't refuse since she was too busy drowning in excruciating pain while she inched along the rails.
"See, look!" Emi lifted up her pant legs to show the shiny telescoping pistons connected to lifelike feet. "Now I can do my running wearing normal shoes! Cool, huh?"
"H-How c-considerate of you." Yoshiko's vision and disposition started to turn red from the pain. That patronizing little bitch Emi apparently got herself more normal looking legs so she could exercise without freaking out normal people. Her high-and-mighty royal crippled highness graciously decided to stoop down to the level of normal mundane people. Now she wasn't just going to be better than every other cripple at school, she was setting out to be better than the normals too.
"Ya think so? Thanks!" Emi cradled her chin in her palms in a nauseating display of cuteness.
"Oh hey Yoshiko?" Emi asked as she intruded her way back into first-name-basis with Ms. Tachibana. "Next week is traffic safety awareness week at school. As a fellow car accident victim, I think it would be really nice if you could write something about it for the paper. Maybe you could share your story and serve as an inspiration to others?"
She had to be kidding. Now Emi was associating herself with Yoshiko.
"My story? Eh..." Yoshiko wheezed out, feeling like her muscles got ripped off her bones with another step. "I was hit by a garbage truck and since then my legs hurt. End of story."
"Gosh! That must've been so horrible for you. I can't imagine what it must be like. Fortunately for me, my legs don't hold me back or give me any trouble."
Just what kind of game was Ibarazaki playing? Was she insulting Yoshiko's legs for being useless dead weight? Or was she passive aggressively trying to one-up Yoshiko in the misery and sympathy game, since her lower legs were pretty much ripped off instead of merely shattered. Maybe Emi was telling Yoshiko that she had no right to even feel unfortunate about her own calamity.
No, she was telling Yoshiko to just collapse on her gimp legs and kiss Emi's Kevlar toes.
"No.. no... I will not give this to her." Yoshiko pulled herself back onto the bars and gave herself a new mission. She wasn't going to walk herself to the end of the bars, she was going to walk herself to the end of the bars and choke Emi Ibarazaki.
With her legs stewing in agony, Yoshiko's field of vision shrank to a small tunnel with Emi at the end. Step, by step, Yoshiko played her idyllic plan of attack over and over in her head. While Emi laughs her ass off gloating and feeding her ego, she would strike, and wail on her until she learned to regret ever meeting Yoshiko. In bloodthirsty anticipation, Yoshiko reached her hands out spread her thumbs and fingers out into pincers, ready to clamp down on Emi's throat. Just one more step, and she would be in striking distance.
"Nikki! You did it!" The pigtailed troll snapped Yoshiko out of her bloodlust.
Yoshiko looked all around her. She was standing a good fifteen feet beyond the end of the parallel bars, with nothing but her own two legs holding her up. With her concentration broken, Yoshiko started to notice how her legs were engulfed in invisible flames from the ankles up, while lightning bolts shot down from her hips, twisting her kneecaps out of place.
Eventually, the monsoon of pain flooded its way up past her hips and reached her eyes, drowning her vision in a dark gray blur.
"Miss Tachibana, can you hear me?" The head nurse's voice trickled in from somewhere beyond the darkness.
"...yeah." Yoshiko replied, her own voice feeling so disconnected that it could've been someone else speaking on her behalf.
"You fainted in the physical therapy room. You seem to be okay, but are you in any pain?"
Yoshiko paused for a moment, part of her wanting to reply "Just cut them off."
Her useless legs had settled into a dull, crushing pain that only became unbearable if she tried moving them.
"Hm, okay then. I want you to stay off your feet for the rest of the day. You're going to hurt yourself if you keep up with this die-hard attitude of yours, understand?"
"Good. Your friends are on their way to come and get you."
By the time Yoshiko fully regained her senses, the nurse was already gone. She had been resting on an examination bed in the physical therapist's office. Her leg braces were back on and a wheelchair was waiting, parked right up against the bed. Her crutches were nowhere to be seen; no doubt they were removed to discourage her from walking.
The nurse made no mention of Emi. It seemed that she had abandoned Yoshiko at the scene. She wasn't mad as mad as she could be, though. At least Emi didn't take credit for Yoshiko being able to walk unassisted or use the opportunity to force herself into Yoshiko's recovery efforts.
Remorsefully, she remembered the hostility she felt and expressed earlier. Sure, she didn't like Emi, but Yoshiko would never actually strangle her. Pain sure did strange things to her attitude.
Yamaku won this time. But it was only a minor setback, surely. Before she'd know it, Yoshiko would be back on her feet and out of this saccharine prison. Or at least she hoped.
"Nikki, are you awake?" Luke pushed the door open as Yoshiko finished planting herself in the wheelchair. Behind him was Hanako.
"Yep, I'm still alive. I don't need an escort, though. I can roll back to my room on my own."
"Actually, we were wondering if you'd like to join us in the hot tub."
"Nah, I don't want to cut into your quality time together."
“I-It's okay...” Hanako the library angel said.
"Well..." Luke scratched his chin stubble and laughed to soften the blow of his request. "Actually it turns out that we can't use the spa in the back room during class hours unless we're accompanying someone for therapy."
This wasn't the first time an able bodied student tried using Yoshiko to use the pool facilities, but it was the first time they were honest about it. Yoshiko might have been playing the political correctness mandated wheelchair girl, but at least Luke and his girlfriend weren't patronizing Yoshiko by pretending her disability had nothing to do with it. For once, she decided to play along.
Besides, she'd get to watch Hanako in the shower afterwards.
Yoshiko wasn't a cripple. She was just a normal girl with a pair of busted legs. Her condition might currently be an issue for her, but they weren't a part of her. They didn't define her.
Perhaps that sort of thing was what the school was all about after all.
Yoshiko put the brakes on that train of thought before she judged herself to be wrong. The sooner she recovered, the sooner she could go back home to the school she was meant to attend. Normal life awaited.
"Sure," Yoshiko smiled to her companions as they headed to the changing rooms. "I could go for a good soak right now."
================================================================================================================================ As Sakuya laid on the hospital bed, she grabbed Yuu's hand. After months of holding out and clinging to life, she finally collected on his promise of being there to see the first snowflakes of winter with her.
With a smile on her face, she took in one last look of Yuu's kind face with the snowfall beyond the window as a backdrop and slipped away.
“What the hell is this?!” Yoshiko threw her game controller down to the floor in frustration. “The guide I found online said this was the GOOD end.”
“It is the good end,” Luke replied. “Or more accurately, the best end. The whole point of games like this is to really wrench up your heart and make you depressed the whole time.”
“I thought it was nice.” Hanako said.
“Ugh, as if real life isn't depressing enough.” Yoshiko kicked the game's box across the dorm room floor.
The school newspaper's editor insisted that Yoshiko write a review of the latest utsuge that everyone's been talking about. Broken Dolls
was a depressing visual novel about teenagers with terminal illnesses seeking out happiness and romance with each other.
The game seemed to be a hit at Yamaku, since it seemed to hit close to home with many of the students. To Yoshiko, it was an over the top tsunami of angst that contained every possible cliché except for the one Yoshiko was hoping for by the end of her play-through: a happy ending.
She looked back at her “special consultant and proofreader” as he cuddled closely with his girlfriend on the bed, watching Yoshiko play. Yoshiko never gave much serious thought into love and romance before, especially while at Yamaku where any relationship would be short lived if her plan for a speedy recovery and escape were successful. Still, it would be nice to be able to share someone's warmth like that...
“Hey guys, I'm heading out.” Yoshiko got up from the floor and dismissed her yearnings as being a result of brainwashing thanks to thirteen hours of playing Broken Dolls
. “Just lock the door on your way out.”
“Are you sure?” Luke asked. “What about your article?”
“I'll write how I feel about the game, then have my review rejected until I rewrite it into glowing praise.” Yoshiko dryly answered. “I'm going to go to the library and see if I can find a movie I can review as a backup article.”
“Oh, well... take care, Nikki.” Luke said his goodbye with a fair bit of concern for Yoshiko. “We'll take off too.”
Yoshiko was slightly disappointed that the lovebirds didn't stay a little longer by themselves. At least then someone
would have gotten some action in her room.
“Seen it, seen it, lame, seen it...” Yoshiko bounced her fingertips across the grooves made between the DVD cases on the library shelf. She preferred reviewing old, obscure, foreign, and artsy movies that nobody watched since none of her colleagues and readers would bother complaining about her views on them.
Yoshiko also was going to check out an old biology book that looked like it dated back to at least the 1950s, before genetics and cladistic classification. She planned to compare it to her own current biology textbook, and take note of all the outdated information and laughably misinformed theories. Yoshiko liked biology just fine, but she loved reminding herself how even educated people get things wrong even more.
“Excuse me, Tachibana?” An unfamiliar girl's voice called out from the other side of the shelf. Looking through to the other side, Yoshiko saw a pair of brown eyes behind oval spectacles looking back at her. They weren't a particularly exotic color, nor were the glasses that nice looking, but something about those eyes just pierced right through Yoshiko and made the lobe responsible for common sense melt a little.
“I've noticed that we have similar taste in movies.” The strange girl circled around the shelf. She wore an unseasonably heavy coat over her uniform and was a head shorter than Yoshiko. Her artificially reddish-brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail, with disorganized bangs adorning her forehead. Despite her intentionally frumpy appearance, Yoshiko noted that a girl with her features could easily be made into a beauty queen right out of a Pygmalion
-style story if she tried.
“Uh, how do you know my name?” Yoshiko asked, still with her defenses up.
“I keep seeing your name written in the library cards of movies I check out. After a while, I've noticed that whenever a movie I'd want to see ends up here, it would be gone right away for a few days before I get a chance to see it. When I finally do get a chance to watch, it's always you I see listed as the first person to borrow it.”
“Oh, hah, I see.” Yoshiko put her hand to the back of her head and laughed, disappointed that the girl knew her name by innocent means as opposed to being an admirer.
“But as you can see, the tables have turned.” The girl held up a copy of Suitcase Girlfriend
. “It seems that I've beaten you to the movie you've come here to find.”
“Oh, well...” Yoshiko really did want to watch that absurd movie about trafficking contortionist sex slaves out of Eastern Europe. It was by a director known for making movies that were half surreal eye candy and half campy hilarity. “It's okay, really. You can go first this time.”
“Actually,” the girl cracked a thin smile. “I'd like to watch it with you.”
“Y-You would?” Sure, it could have been a perfectly innocent request, but something inside Yoshiko's heart was telling her to be excited, very excited. Still, her mind was telling her to keep a cool head and not to get her hopes up. “I, I would like that. When would you l-li...”
“Whenever you'd like,” the girl's smile grew, revealing lips that were fuller than Yoshiko initially assessed. She took a scrap of paper out of her coat and placed it in Yoshiko's pants pocket. “Here's my number.”
“O-O-Okay,” Yoshiko stammered, surprised by the sudden intrusion of personal space. “I'll give you a call sometime, Miss...”
“It's Koyama, but you can call me Eri.”
“Hello Eri” Yoshiko nervously extended her arm for a handshake. “I'm Yoshiko Tachibana, but you can call me Nikki.”
“Okay, Nikki.” Eri took Yoshiko's hand and held it with both of hers instead of shaking it. “Just make time for me and it's a date.”
Yoshiko caught herself fluttering down the halls back to the dorms for about the hundredth time. Well, at least as well as a girl with crutches could flutter, anyway. She was somewhat disappointed with herself. She merely met a random girl in the library, yet all she could do was stutter and blabber like a lovestruck idiot. Besides, the girl probably just wanted to be friends and Yoshiko was making a big fuss out of nothing.
Did Yoshiko even like girls? By default, she figured she was bisexual but prior to meeting Eri Koyama, all she had were very minor infatuations where she merely found someone to be physically attractive, like with Luke's girlfriend.
“Ow!” A boy's voice cried out next to Yoshiko. While deep in thought, she landed one of her crutches onto someone's foot.
“Oh! Sorry!” Yoshiko looked down to assess the damage she inflicted. A boy's black leather shoe was scuffed up from where she struck. “Are you okay?”
“Don't worry about me,” the boy replied, smiling despite his pain. “I'm just glad I didn't trip you up or anything.”
The boy was roughly the same height as Yoshiko, with short, spiky hair that was bleached blonde at the tips. His short sleeve uniform shirt exposed well-toned arms. Yoshiko wondered where this impressive-looking man had been hiding at the school the whole time. Something about him made it easy for Yoshiko to visualize being with. A series of quick images of imaginary situations flashed through her head. Lying on the beach, riding a ferris wheel, even just holding hands in the hallway... every scenario in Yoshiko's head would look so right
with that boy.
“No, you didn't. My mind was elsewhere.” Yoshiko tapped at her forehead and laughed embarrassedly. “Actually, it still kind of is. Sorry.”
“Well, I'll tell you what. You can make this up to me over dinner Saturday night.”
“Really?” Yoshiko pinched herself as she tried to wake up from what was surely a prescription drug-induced hallucination. “Are you seriously asking out a weirdo like me?”
“Eh? Don't sell yourself short. I've seen you around and I find you quite... fascinating.”
“Are you sure you've been looking at the right girl?” Yoshiko, still not believing her streak of luck, started waving her fingers in front of the boy's face to make sure he wasn't blind.
“I'm positive. You've got this thoughtful look on ya that the other girls don't. I'd really like to get to know you better. I'm just lucky that you ran into me today.”
“Okay, okay, fine.” Yoshiko playfully acted like she was being coerced. “Saturday then? Pick a time and a place.”
“Okay. Meet me at the front gate at five thirty.”
“Wait, wait. What's your name?”
“I'm Shinnosuke Yamada from class 3-1. But you can call me Shin.”
“Well, Shin, looks like I've finally got something to look forward to this weekend. I'm Yoshiko, but my friends call me Nikki.”
“I know.” Shinnosuke slyly smiled, reinforcing the notion that he has had his eye on Yoshiko for a long time.
“Oh and another thing,” he added, looking up and down at her masculine uniform. “How about you wear a skirt or a dress this Saturday?”
“Eh? Um...” Yoshiko shuffled around a bit in her leg braces. “I don't think that's a good idea.”
“Hey, I've seen you before in the gym. A pretty girl like you has nothing to hide.”
“Okay, Shinnosuke Yamada. You drive a hard bargain.”
Yoshiko walked away, still not believing her luck. For a decade and a half, love never factored in her expectations of happiness. Yet somehow she had two dates in one weekend. She pulled out the paper with Eri's phone number and pondered over what time and date she should arrange to see her.
[T-T-TO BE CONT-TINUED!]