Miki: Fragments (Complete)

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Alpacalypse
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.35 Posted 18th January 2016)

Post by Alpacalypse » Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:10 pm

I haven't commented in a while, but I think this is an apt opportunity to interject and say FUCKING FINALLY, MIKI! :D I've been hoping she'd actually tell someone for the better part of the whole story.

Oh, and good chapter and all that jazz.
I am the harbinger of your destruction... By herbivorous, mountain dwelling quadrupeds... fear me
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I also write now, apparently. Since everyone else does it, I'm putting it here
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I have also discovered that I'm a decent proofreader. Anybody with SPaG problems is free to PM me their work for a thorough analysis and/or evisceration. Depends on how I'm feeling.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.35 Posted 18th January 2016)

Post by HipsterJoe » Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:09 pm

Full Gajzla speed ahead! Enjoying the latest updates as it heads towards a conclusion.

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Gajzla
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.35 Posted 18th January 2016)

Post by Gajzla » Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:29 pm

Alpacalypse wrote:I haven't commented in a while, but I think this is an apt opportunity to interject and say FUCKING FINALLY, MIKI! :D I've been hoping she'd actually tell someone for the better part of the whole story.

Oh, and good chapter and all that jazz.
Well, good things come to those who wait... Though, not sure Miki would share that view. :)
HipsterJoe wrote:Full Gajzla speed ahead! Enjoying the latest updates as it heads towards a conclusion.
Cheers, happy to see your still around and reading! :D

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.35 Posted 18th January 2016)

Post by Gajzla » Sat Feb 27, 2016 4:49 pm

I’m so sorry it’s taken me this long to update. If it’s any consolation the story is nearly complete, and I believe I should be able to get the last five chapters out in a bit more reasonable a time frame. Thanks as always to Mirage for his proofreading skills and Enjoy.

The final call

“I love you too,” I say, my voice barely a whisper.

Hours before we had fought, argued about one of us keeping secrets from the other. No bonus points for guessing who the liar - by admission admittedly - was. I had imagined that catastrophe of miscommunication was the end for us, but in defiance of all sane reasoning Hisao not only came back, but didn’t leave after I confessed my crimes to him. It really makes no sense. No one should tell you they love you, after you admit to accidentally killing someone.

“Do you want to talk about it?” He asks softly, “The accident I mean?”

Not really, speaking about it does not make it easier. But if anyone deserves the unabridged story, Hisao does.

“Could you close the door?” I reply after a moment of fruitless consideration.

With the smallest of nods Hisao climbs out of bed. His hair still glistens softly from his journey through the rain. Scooting back against the wall I make myself comfortable, while my boyfriend flicks on the lamp residing on my desk and closes the door with a gentle click.

He sits quietly while I consider where I can possibly begin to explain this mess. Picking at the bandages around my stump I recall my first turbulent year of high school. Context is important, he needs to understand how what happened to me connects to the rest of my life. To most people, I imagine, having a hand violently ripped off would be the worst part of their year. But that had been a short - admittedly very painful - shock when compared to the battery of abuse I suffered at the hands of my classmates. Everyday had been the same endless stream of snide comments and giggles poorly hidden behind interlaced fingers.

Even now, after everything that has happened, it’s hard to talk about what that first week was like, what I took for me to roll out of bed each morning. I pride myself on being tough, for being able to endure where others back out. But that year broke me, left me feeling weak and pathetic, constantly at the mercy of people who seemed to have so much more than me to begin with. That’s why I’ve never wanted to talk about it. The things that happened with my parents, they feel like stuff that happened to me, while the bullying... That was something I let happen to myself.

“That’s horrible,” his response is not apologetic, but scathing. Anger on my behalf I can deal with. “Why did they treat you like that?” His question is more rhetorical than accusatory.

Shrugging I watch the rain conjoin and divide as it slides down my misted window. The storm is fatiguing, but still has some fight left in it. “I was just different from them I guess, I was poor for one thing and, like, the only black girl there.”

My skin colour is another subject I hardly touch. Though, not for the same reasons. It just seems such a non-issue, the only people who notice are hypocrites who preach the purity of the Japanese race while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of a dozen cultures distinctly un-Japanese in origin. It’s yet another in the long list of things that make Yamaku magical. There is no standard for anything here, everyone is different, which in a very real way makes everyone the same.

“I can’t believe anyone would taunt you for things you can’t control.”

“Can’t you?” I say, raising an eyebrow.

He pauses for a moment, before letting out a slow breath, “I just hate it, how someone could treat you like that.”

“Such is life,” I reply with a shrug. “As my grandfather used to say.”

I continue with my story, explaining about Tatsuo and his monstrous pick up truck.

“Did you know him well?” Hisao asks when I tell him about being picked out of the crowd.

“No, that was the first time we had ever spoken.”

“And you just got into a near stranger's truck?” He replies incredulously.

“He was like, the coolest guy in the entire neighbourhood. You have no idea what it was like for him to even notice you.” I say, cursing how defensive I sound. “Look, all I wanted back then was to be popular. It’s stupid, it was stupid - but, yeah… I got in his truck.”

Hisao nods slowly. I don’t know if I’m trying to justify my actions to him, or myself.

“I’m sorry, it just seemed strange,” he says. “Please continue.”

Well, here goes nothing. I tell him as much as I can remember. Watching his face turn from shock at the armed men chasing Tatsuo into his truck. To horror as I recall how I woke up next to the scared boy’s lifeless corpse. I don’t really know if that part of the story actually happened. The countless times that scene popped up in my dreams it was always accompanied by something fantastical - something that could only ever happen in a dream.

Like it even matters.

The important fact. The fact that I was driving. Is clear without question, so I might have stayed blacked out until I got to hospital, or I may well have awoken to a trail of blood dripping from an ear framed by a silver buzz cut. But it does not matter in the slightest.

“That must have been awful,” my boyfriend says consolingly, “but it sounds like an accident to me. Like you said, you never meant to hurt him.”

“No, but I still did. I did far worse than hurt him, I killed him.”

“Well the police must not have felt that way? Otherwise you wouldn’t still be here right?”

Ah. It feels like my stomach lining has been replaced with icy lead. It all makes sense now. Obviously Hisao hasn’t recoiled in disgust - yet - because he’s only heard half of the story. The key details, the context to my horror, is lost on him.

“I…” Stopping before my sentence has even begun I take a deep breathe, rubbing my sweaty palm on the pillow. I don’t think I can do this. My throat is rebelling against speaking the truth that will drive Hisao away from me. If you love him, you will tell him.

“I lied to the police,” I say, tasting bile in my mouth. I stare hard at my knee, looking anywhere but at him. “There was confusion about who was driving, I couldn’t remember for the longest time, and when I did I lied in my official statement to the police. I told them Tatsuo had been the one driving.”

I’m not surprised when Hisao does not reply, throwing the room into a crushing silence. Only the noise of the wind outside intrudes on the oppressive nothingness. I half expect him to hit me. Hell, I would hit me. But he doesn’t, and together we sit side by side separated by a chasm of uncertainty.

“You... You lied? To the police?”

I nod miserably. Now he get it, now he understands.

“I want to tell the truth,” I say softly. “I’m going to, it’s just… I haven’t had the courage to.”

“You’re going to hand yourself in?” He sounds genuinely surprised.

“I have to, it’s why I can’t come to university.” I look up, startled by his response. The look on his face matches the one he wore when inspecting my injured stump; worried.

Massaging his eyes with his palms he continues, “But surely, it will be worse now than if you had just admitted it when you remember, right?”

“Probably,” I say.

“Then, I don’t understand.”

What?

“You don’t think I should be punished for what I’ve done?” I ask incredulously.

“I don’t know, maybe?” He pauses, rubbing the back of neck. “Some people are never punished for their crimes, but you lost your hand. That’s punishment enough isn’t it?”

“How can you say that?”

I’m supposed to be weeping as the last of whatever love Hisao felt for me fades from his radiant eyes. Instead I’m actually having to defend my decision to do the right thing. Nothing ever, ever goes the way I expect it to.

“Because I don’t want to lose you,” he says quickly. “Isn’t there some other way?”

“There isn’t.” I sigh sadly. “I’m not doing this for Tatsuo, or even his family. I need to do this for me. I don’t want to lose you either, I love you. But, I can’t live like this either.”

“What do you think will happen?” He asks, his voice quiet now.

“I get arrested I guess, then a trial, then prison.” I’m surprised by how matter of fact I sound, listing off each horrible event that lies in my immediate future. The road behind me stretches back for miles, a confused mass of twists and turns, forks and junctions. But the road ahead is clear, if not ominous. Every path leads straight to a nightmarish concrete cell, now clearer than it has ever been before.

“But wait,” Hisao says suddenly, a new light in his eyes. “You said it took you a year to remember this stuff? How do you even know it’s what really happened? What if this is some kind of survivor's guilt?”

“I just know.” I shrug.

“That’s not very scientific.” He frowns. “Do you have any evidence?”

“I’m telling you about the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, the worst thing I have ever done to another person, and you are asking for evidence?” Despite everything I’m starting to feel a little disgruntled. It’s true I don’t have any real evidence that I was behind the wheel - not even the police have that - but I know, every single molecule in my being knows. That should be what matters.

“You are talking about destroying the rest of your life over something you remembered a year after a traumatic head injury. You won’t be able to go to university or get a good job.” He pauses, before continuing sadly, “We won’t be able to see each other.”

What if he’s right? No, I can’t think like that. If I can’t trust my own memories what do I really have left? In fact if he were correct and my recollection of events were tainted by some kind of survivor's guilt, it would be so much worse. How could I trust anything? What if everything I remembered about my past were simply false images, produced by a insecure and guilt ridden mind?

“Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen. All I know is what I need to do.” I sigh slowly, “I understand if you want to walk away.”

“I don’t think I can, unless you want me to?”

“No… I don’t want that,” I mumble.

I should. I should want him to move on with his life, find someone who isn’t about to drag him into a world of police and carnage. But I can’t. I need him by my side, for better or worse. Slowly I lean my head against his arm, he seems surprised for a moment, but recovers himself and plants a soft kiss on the top of my head.

The warm glow of the whisky is now just a faded memory, leaving behind it a dry throat and a throbbing sting in my cut stump. Blah, it’s too late too see the nurse. Yawning into a cupped hand I close my eyes, just enjoying the feeling of Hisao beside me. I may not get many more moments like this.

“You should try and get some sleep,” Hisao says unexpectedly.

“I’m not all that tired,” I say, though with the adrenaline from our conversation fading I do feel a bit drossy.

Without a word Hisao pulls the covers over my exposed legs, before wrapping his arm around me. He’s still here. The thought wraps around me like a warm blanket. Perhaps there’s a chance for us… I find myself yawning again. After all.

— — —

I groggily wake up. It feels like hours have passed, but at the same time as if I had not slept at all. At least I didn’t have any nightmares. The illuminated red figures on my beside table tell me it’s just gone five in the morning. The room seems brighter than normal, and it takes my still half asleep brain a few seconds to realise Hisao is at my desk, hunched over something with the lamp on.

Huh, he didn’t leave?

There's a sharp sting in my stump as I use it to push myself into a sitting position, I had forgotten about punching the mirror. Blinking I rub the sleep from my eyes. What the hell has he done to my room? The pile of broken glass has been cleared away, as has the overflowing waste paper basket that sits beside my desk. Even the graveyard of dead and crumpled clothes has been tidied, freeing up more floor space than I can remember seeing in the last two years.

“Hisao?” I call softly, curling my legs up to my chest and pulling the lavishly warm covers tighter around me.

With a startled lurch he swivels around in my desk chair. “Hey, you’re awake.”

“W… What happened?” I ask, an unexpected yawn causing my voice to shake.

“I tidied up a bit, honestly Miki, you are messiest person I know.” His joints creak audibly in a crescendo as he rises, culminating with a loud crack as he stretches his arms above his head.

“You sound decidedly unhealthy,” I observe with a worried frown. I should have made sure he was comfortable before selfishly falling asleep.

“It’s just testament to how much effort cleaning your room required,” he grins sitting down beside me with a creek, though this time the bed is the culprit.

His face is thrown into sharp relief by the lamp, a complex pattern of shadows and pale skin. Reaching out tentatively I run my thumb across the rough slightly greasy skin above his cheeks, turning his head away, perhaps in protest, reveals just how dark the bags under his eyes really are. Oh Hisao…

“Have you slept at all?” I ask, unable to keep the dread from my voice.

“I’m fine,” He says, taking my hand in his. “How’s your arm?”

Stupid distraction, stop distracting me.

“It hurts,” I admit, “but it’s fine, honestly. You should get into bed.”

Using my stump I move the covers aside, letting in a huff of horribly cold air but giving my boyfriend a good view at least. Even if the prospect of sleep isn’t exciting, I should be right?

“After you go and see the nurse.” He says sternly, dropping my hand to reach for my bloodied stump.

“But it’s very cold outside, and very warm in here.” I protest, allowing him to look at my arm from various angles. Though what he intends to deduce from the action is anyone's guess.

I feel strangely alive and carefree this morning. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and for the first time in a long while I’m able to breathe freely again. Of course a more apt metaphor would be the weight now dangling high above my head, ready to crush me at a moment's notice. Disquieted by my own thought process I push the image to the back of my mind, refocusing on my boyfriend’s face.

“I don’t want to sleep until I know you’re safe.” he repeats stubbornly.

“Fine, fine,” I groan, “I will go to the Nurse’s office, if you promise to get a sick note and spend the day sleeping.”

“Can’t promise to sleep all day, I have homework.” He smirks, primitively celebrating his victory.

“You at least try and go to sleep,” I reply, “and I get a kiss before we leave, that’s my final offer.”

“Deal.”

As one we both reach for each other, our lips meeting somewhere in the middle.

I’m sure the nurse can wait, logic dictates I should enjoy every kiss while I can. And I’ve never been anything other than logical.


— — —

“And what, exactly were you doing when the accident occurred Miss Miura?” The nurse asks, as his delicate fingers slowly unwrap my still damp bandages.

I glance towards the doorway, wondering if Hisao is okay out by himself in the corridor. I’m not sure why he wasn’t allowed in, after all, I was permitted to sit with him after his heart flutter on the track. Ah well, he didn’t seem too perturbed by the arrangements, and at least the nurse let us in from the cold.

“Falling,” I say with a smirk, still riding high on my strange life-affirming euphoria.

“Ah, well I’m glad to see that your sense of humour has not been adversely affected.” He replies, throwing me a warm smile.

With a final flourish the last of the bloody bandages fall away, revealing a sizeable wound, cutting neatly between the curves of the S shaped scar that already decimates the end of my stump. Absent mindedly I prod at where the two injuries intersect, marvelling at the strange numb feeling there. Ironic, that the body part that gives me the most pain is completely numb to the touch.

“The first rule when dealing with injuries Miss Miura, is that under no circumstances should you poke them and see what happens.”

“Even if you can’t feel it?” I ask with a grin.

“Especially if you can’t feel it.” He says, his voice muffled as he rummages around for supplies in one of the numerous cupboards scattered around the room. “I must say,” he reappears in front of me, a section of white bandages overflowing his crossed arms. “I had not quite expected to see you up this early. You are not one of my normal nocturnal clientele.”

I think without a doubt that the nurse is my favourite member of staff at Yamaku, even if most of the time I only see him when I’m in pain. He’s one of the few people on campus that I can lower my guard around, not completely of course, not in the same way I can around Hisao. Though, to be fair I didn’t know I could - or would - do that until it more or less happened.

I draw a sharp breath as the nurse cleans out my cut with a mixture that manages to be foul-smelling, freezing cold and which stings like a horde of angry bees, all at once. “Ow, I was awake anyway,” taking a moment to bite my lip in pain, before continuing, “and my arm hurt, so…”

“No need to explain. You were injured, I’m the nurse. It’s quite a simple yet efficient working relationship.” His smile, which he seems to wear in the same way most people wear jewellery, falters. “Forgive me Miss Miura, but I have to ask. Was this injury completely accidental?”

“You think I hurt myself on purpose?” I ask, feigning surprise. I know he knows more about the student body than is reasonable to expect, but he can’t actually read minds. Can he?

“It’s been known to happen, and I’m afraid your sessions with Dr. Ueda mean that you are considered at risk.” His normal cheerfulness has vanished like a deflated balloon, and it’s clear he isn’t happy about having to ask questions like this. I suppose for someone who dedicates practically his entire life to keeping the students of this school happy and healthy the prospect of one of them harming themselves must be crushing.

“Could I see Dr Ueda?” I ask, purposely not answering the question. I don’t really want to lie to him - then again I’m not all that keen on the truth either.

“Of course, he should be in shortly.” Relief floods onto the nurses face, he must think I’m going to open up about my arm to the psychotherapist. A more comforting thought than the truth, and one I’m in no rush to rid him of.

“Thanks,” I say softly as he starts to wrap my arm in bandages. Since being more intimate with Hisao I’ve felt more and more comfortable having my stump uncovered - not that I want to go waving it about - but I think that if Ryouta or Ikuno ever asked to see, well, I think I could show them. I suppose at least I’m making progress with some parts of my chaotic life.

We fall into relaxed conversation, and once my arm is fully covered Hisao is invited back into the room. If the nurse has any questions regarding what Hisao was doing with me at this time in the morning he doesn’t air them, though I suspect he has a network of spies that will feed him all the relevant gossip. As if to back up this theory he doesn’t seem at all surprised when we mention visiting each other's parents over the summer holidays.

Dr Ueda arrives as the clock strikes six thirty, the nurse excuses himself to speak with the good doctor, leaving Hisao and me alone.

“Miki, are you sure you want to do this?” Hisao asks, a note of desperation in his voice.

I nod slowly, “I have to.”

“I just,” he pauses, “I just thought sleeping on it might change your mind.”

“I’ve been sleeping on it for nearly a year, I’ve made up my mind,” I sigh softly, taking his warm hand into mine, “I’m sorry.”

We sit in silence after that, unable to meet each other's gaze. A million little doubts vie for attention in my head, but I push them back down, trying to focus on the exact wording of my confession. I can’t think of any way to say it which doesn’t sound like an awful soap opera.

“Miss Miura,” the nurse announces, making me jump. “The doctor will see you now.”

I look at Hisao. This is your last chance to back out. He exhales slowly, and I think he’s going to get up and leave. But instead he holds his hand out for mine, helping me down from the paper covered bed. As politely as I can I thank the nurse, who now seems to have noticed the distinct change in the atmosphere.

Dr Ueda’s office is only a little further down the corridor, but with each step it feels like more and more weight is being added to my shoes. Without Hisao beside me I would have never been able to do this. The door opens easily and without a sound. The room beyond with it’s familiar mixed bag of furniture is dimly illuminated by lamps scattered like beacons among the bookshelves and on the desk.

Hanging his hat on the stand behind his desk the white-bearded therapist turns, opening his mouth for a greeting, a look of genuine surprise on his face when he sees Hisao. However I cut him off before he can say anything, and before I lose my nerve.

“I lied.” the words leave my mouth before I have a chance to stop them. Damn it! That wasn’t what I had intended to say.

“Excuse me?” he looks bewildered, one hand still on his bowler hat.

“I lied,” I repeat.

“About what in particular Miss Miura?”

Glancing one last time at Hisao, who inclines his head by a fraction of an inch, I continue. “Everything.”

I lied about everything.

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Last edited by Gajzla on Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.36 Posted 27th February 2016)

Post by rimvydasm » Sat Feb 27, 2016 6:59 pm

great chapter,i can't wait for more,and really looking forward to the end,can't wait to see how it will end
Lilly master race!

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Gajzla
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.36 Posted 27th February 2016)

Post by Gajzla » Sat Feb 27, 2016 8:09 pm

rimvydasm wrote:great chapter,i can't wait for more,and really looking forward to the end,can't wait to see how it will end
Thanks! :D

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.36 Posted 27th February 2016)

Post by MajorMadness » Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:35 pm

Ohhh shits going down! I have been eagerly awaiting a new chapter and you didn't disappoint. Thanks mate I can't wait for the next chapter.
Trying to explain katawa shoujo to someone without them giving you the *oh its porn* look is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.36 Posted 27th February 2016)

Post by Alpacalypse » Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:47 pm

That chapter hurt my soul.
In the best way possible. :wink:
Nice work!

Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was a little sceptical of the fact that Miki's memory of the event was almost entirely based on dreams.
I am the harbinger of your destruction... By herbivorous, mountain dwelling quadrupeds... fear me
---
I also write now, apparently. Since everyone else does it, I'm putting it here
---
I have also discovered that I'm a decent proofreader. Anybody with SPaG problems is free to PM me their work for a thorough analysis and/or evisceration. Depends on how I'm feeling.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.36 Posted 27th February 2016)

Post by Gajzla » Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:46 pm

MajorMadness wrote:Ohhh shits going down! I have been eagerly awaiting a new chapter and you didn't disappoint. Thanks mate I can't wait for the next chapter.
Thanks :D
Alpacalypse wrote:That chapter hurt my soul.
In the best way possible. :wink:
Nice work!
Thanks, and err… sorry about your soul. :wink:
Alpacalypse wrote:Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was a little sceptical of the fact that Miki's memory of the event was almost entirely based on dreams.
I wanted to play around with that aspect of friendship, the strange kind of balancing act between being supportive and telling your friends when they might be wrong.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.36 Posted 27th February 2016)

Post by Gajzla » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:13 pm

Today marks the one year anniversary of posting the first chapter of Fragments. It also marks the rather amazing fact that i’ve managed to stick with something for an entire year. Thanks for reading so far, and i’m looking forward to completing this soon(ish). :D

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.36 Posted 27th February 2016)

Post by Gajzla » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:12 pm

The Interview

“It’s time.” Dr. Ueda groans resignedly, placing the telephone back onto its stand with an ominous click.

“Okay...” I reply, overcome by an odd sensation of serenity. This is the right thing to do. I tell myself, hardly noticing Hisao entwine his warm fingers with mine.

It feels like I’ve been trapped in this room for an age. Sitting beside the comforting presence of my boyfriend I’ve endured the long eons the sun has required to peek above the horizon. I’ve waited, desperate for the moment something, anything might happen. It’s a strange contrast to the panicked rush in which I made my confession, assaulted almost immediately by more questions than one overtaxed sleepy mind could handle. But that was an hour ago, now silence rules supreme. Only the sun’s warm autumnal light, seeping into the office like golden honey gives any indication that time has moved.

“The police are waiting for you by the front gate,” my therapist explains gruffly, his normally reserved voice failing him, “I thought that may be a more desirable, that is to say, less embarrassing arrangement.”

“Thank you,” I say, my voice quivering. He should hate me. Everyone should hate me. But he has more right than most to hold a grudge, he vouched for me - In front of the police no less - while I lied in my statement. He should hate me. But instead he has listened patiently as he always has, helping in his own small, but deeply meaningful way.

“I’ll walk with you.” Hisao says, getting to his feet.

“No!” My response is so sudden he flinches, “No, Hisao, I need to do this by myself.”

He looks flabbergasted as he helps me to stand. “But, why?”

“Remember our first kiss?” I ask softly.

My boyfriend glances towards the therapist, who ducks behind a random file from his ‘Out’ tray. I half expect him to start humming. “Of course.” He says slowly, turning his curious ember eyes back to mine.

“That’s how I want you to remember me, not-“ I take a deep breathe, “Not in the back of a police car.”

“Miss Miura, far be it for me to interject,” Dr Ueda interjects, “but I do believe the police only wish to interview you, I wouldn’t imagine any overly dramatic arrest is about to take place.”

“See?” I say to Hisao quickly, “It won’t even be that exciting. Go to bed, please, for me?”

I turn to the doctor before my boyfriend can object further. “Can you write him a sick note? He hasn’t slept since yesterday.”

It’s a horribly unfair thing to do, I know that. Hisao is more than capable of deciding how sleepy he is, taking the choice away from him isn't a compassionate act. It’s selfishness. Because knowing my boyfriend is safely catching up his sleep really will give me one less thing to worry about in the coming hours.

“Of course Miss Miura.” He turns to Hisao as he pulls a stack of blank forms towards him. “She’s right, you know, you’ll be no good to anybody if you are exhausted.”

Battened down by my worried gaze and his obvious desire to be around for me later Hisao relents, albeit grudgingly.

“Are you sure?” He asks with a frown, a look of great trepidation touching his bloodshot eyes. Hell, even I’m not certain I want to do this alone. But I know seeing him disappear while I’m whisked away to goodness knows where... Well, that might just break me. No, I need to do this alone.

“Completely.” I reply, as clearly as I can, though my voice feels gruff. “I will see you later? Okay.”

I begin to move to the door before he has a chance to answer. The old Miki backup plan - run, run until my lungs burn and the world is a blur.

“Miki.” Hisao calls out, just as my fingertips find the cool brass door handle.

Pausing, as if frozen in time, I turn to face him. “Y… Yes?” Damn it! Control yourself.

“I love you,” His face burns with embarrassment, behind him the white bearded doctor averts his gaze.

“I love you too,” I reply simply, feeling my own cheeks burn, “And thank you Dr. Ueda, for everything.”

He looks at me for a long moment, before bowing deeply, “Good luck, Miss Miura.”

Without giving myself the chance to hesitate I push out of the door, leaving the man I trust and the boy I love behind as I walk - nearly run - towards my doom.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next - all I know is that I’ve chosen to face it alone.

— — —

Stumbling, I’m barely able to catch myself, narrowly avoiding a face first fall into the leaf-strewn path. I can’t decide if I want to stroll slowly and enjoy Yamaku before whatever happens at the police station happens or if I should sprint and get this over with as soon as possible. I could always turn back, make a run for it. With difficulty I suppress that urge. It’s not like the police don’t know where to find me anyway.

Fortunately it’s still early enough for the gossiping student body to be safely disposed stepping bleary eyed into morning showers. I hope that Ikuno simply assumes I slept over with Hisao. I should have told her. An image of my best friend springs unbidden into my mind's eye, a distant but distinct memory from our one and only fight. I hope she doesn’t react the same way she did then, when I tell her why I wasn’t in class today.

Then again what’s to say she won’t just walk away?
It’s what I expected Hisao to do after all. Will I really lose her just like that? Before I would have said it was a certainty, but after last night I’m not convinced I can really be sure of anything anymore. Somehow not knowing is worse. Uncertainty plays on your mind in much crueler ways than dread.

Uselessly I try and chase the thoughts flying around my head into some kind of order. Failing miserably until I reach the front gates, where two cars are visible beyond the towers of interlocking iron. The first is an un-extraordinary black solon, but behind it sits a police cruiser. Bloody hell, who are they expecting to meet out here?

Gathered around the cars are a number of men, divided unevenly into a police uniform and a couple neat suits. If Ryouta’s cop movies are anything to go by, I guess the suited guys must be detectives. Pausing for one final moment by the school gate I swallow a shallow breath, before taking a few tentative steps forward. At first they don’t seem to notice me, then one of the suits looks up, and their conversation ends abruptly.

“Miss Miura I presume?” The detective who calls out to me looks about as dishevelled as I feel. He stands with his thumbs hooked into his trouser pockets, a lit cigarette between his lips. And judging by the stubble shading his chin he’s missed more than one appointment with his razor recently.

“Umm,” I pause. What? Am I going to lie? ‘Me? No, you want the other one handed girl.’ “Yeah, that’s me - I mean, I’m her.”

“I’m detective Harada,” He bows respectfully, crushing the cigarette underfoot, “We would like to discuss your, ah, change of heart, if you will accompany us?”

I nod slowly, thankful that I’m not being asked for anything more than affirmation yet. The uniformed police officer withdraws his handcuffs as I draw nearer, and instinctively I hold out my mismatched arms.

“Officer Takagi, what precisely do you think you’re doing?” Detective Harada’s voice causes both me and the baby faced officer to look up.

I’ve never had much of a need to understand the hierarchy of our nation's police, but from the low bow the officer directs towards the detective it’s clear who runs the show. “With respect sir, I was going to handcuff the suspect.”

“New to the force are you?” Harada replies, not unkindly.

“Yes sir,” he bows again. “I graduated a few months ago.”

“Ah, well then you probably don’t have your policemen’s intuition yet, but not to worry, you can borrow mine.”

“Sir?” The office replies somewhat in a daze.

“My intuition is rarely wrong Takagi, and at the moment it’s telling me that given the suspect not only reported herself, but walked up to us voluntarily she is unlikely to need handcuffing, nor does she have the right, ah, anatomy for handcuffs.” Harada looks at me apologetically as he finishes his sentence.

My alarmed brain takes a few seconds to catch up with what he just said. I guess the prospect of being restrained was so shocking I forgot about my absent hand. Damn it, I can’t even be arrested like a normal person.

“Now,” the detective continues, frowning at his dumfounded colleague, “do you think you can get her into the car? It’s the big square thing with the round wheels.” His voice is edged with exasperation, and I notice he shakes his head slowly as the officer firmly grabs my arm, pulling me towards the cruiser.

I’m almost relieved as I’m shoved unceremoniously into the back seat, the young policeman apparently transferring the pain of his embarrassment onto me. I’m half tempted to ask if he knows how to start the engine as he climbs into the front seat. Then I remember why I’m in the back seat of a cop car to begin with, and the sarcasm suddenly seems a lot less funny.

In fact everything starts to feel a lot less amusing as the adrenaline seeps out of my body, replaced by a cold prickly feeling in my stomach. The scolded officer remains silent as we slide like a shadow down the hill, picking up the route normally taken by the bus to reach the city.

The aftermath of last night's storm contrasts strangely with the unseasonably bright morning. It’s like autumn used all of its energy striping leafs from the trees - and in some cases trees from the ground - and has now left, letting summer slip back for one last hurrah. Despite the destruction of the evening before, the highway into the city is relatively clear, and soon we are hurtling past the outskirts.

Our pace slows as the buildings grow more dense. With my head pressed against the cool glass, I try and reconcile how I feel, with how cheerful the world seems to be. I’ve felt like this before, when I was rushing to my father's potential death bed. This is a moment that will define part of my life… why hasn’t the universe noticed?

— — —

Why the hell did I agree to this? The interview room is hazy with a thick smog from the detective’s chain smoked cigarettes, he sits across from me with an intense look on his face the top button of his shirt popped open in the uncomfortably hot windowless room. With a sweaty palm I push the sheet of paper holding my written confession towards him.

He takes it with hardly a glance, before sitting up a little straighter in his chair. Reaching to the floor beside him he withdraws a dogeared vanilla file, placing it carefully on the table between us. “Tell me Miss Miura, can you read?”

I nod quickly, frowning at his odd question.

“Good, then can you tell me what this says?” He points to two red stamped words on the file.

“Case closed,” I read grudgingly, trying to hide my new found resentment for my scruffy interviewer.

“Exactly,” he says, extinguishing one cigarette in the ashtray, before immediately lighting another. “Now, look, I know you might well be feeling… ah, guilty. Because you survived where someone else did not. That’s all perfectly natural, and sometimes when people are stressed, or guilty they confess to things that are not really true.”

I glare at him, as what he is saying hits me.

“Are you one of these people Miss Miura? It’s okay to be mistaken, the case has not yet been reopened. So, why don’t you pop back to school and, ah, book a few more sessions with that therapist of yours?”

Unbelievable, this all completely unbelievable. How can he say something like that? Isn’t he supposed to be trying to establish the truth? What was all that policeman’s intrusion stuff from before - or was that just his way of bullying someone, disguised as being nice to me?

“I am not,” I say slowly and clearly, “mistaken.” I almost snarl the last word. And there I was thinking I would be afraid. No, all I feel at the moment is pissed off. I didn’t think getting people to believe me would be a problem.

Pinching the bridge of his nose the detective lets out a long sigh, “Very well.” Reaching to the end of the table he hits a button on an archaic wood panelled voice recorder, I was under the impression that it had been running since I sat down. Then again, I suppose if you're going to try and persuade your suspects to go home, you might not want evidence of that hanging around.

Seeming to purposely ignore me Harada lists off the date of the interview and my name in a clear loud voice. Only then does he seem to take an interest in my written confession. Holding his cigarette between his lips he withdraws another sheet of paper from within my file, laying the sheets side by side and seeming to compare them.

“Miss Miura, by submitting this updated statement you are confessing to falsifying your first. Do you understand that this, ah, perjury, is a serious crime?” he asks, his inquisitive eyes not leaving my face.

Obviously.

“Yes, I understand.” I reply slowly, fanning myself with my hand. I don’t know if it’s the smoke, the heart or the company but this room is starting to feel unbearably stuffy.

He shows no reaction to my answer, continuing to read as if he had not heard anything. “Right, I suppose it's best if we start at the be-“ His sentence is cut short as someone knocks on the door, causing both me and my interrogator to jump. Raising a curious eyebrow and smiling at me Harada stands up, the gesture catches me off guard. He’s being nice to me now? Or is the ability to switch between ally and adversary simply a method of extracting information?

The hinges creak as the door is opened, letting in a blessed waft of cool air. Unfortunately the detective opens the door only far enough so that he can speak quietly to whoever is on the other-side, obscuring my view in the process. I pick at my bandages, the heat irritating the skin as I wait for the questioning to begin anew. I suppose it’s stupid to wonder if our visitor is here to deliver cool drinks.

I catch small snatches of the quiet conversation, but nothing coherent. Eventually Harada signs, turning back into the room and closing the door with his ankle. His expression is hard to read as he walks back to the table, turning off the voice recorder with a clunk. “It would appear,” he says, sitting down heavily, “That your, ah, lawyer would like to be here for the proceedings.”

“I see,” I say softly. How could granddad have found out I am here?

“I’m afraid you have a good few hours wait ahead of you,” he seems genuinely sympathetic as he returns the paperwork to my file and stands up. “Come on, we have a waiting room.”

Still mystified by the detective’s true feelings I get to my feet, eagerly following my interrogator out of the room. The air in the corridor is mercifully cool, and I suck down great lungfuls as if it were the last oxygen on earth. In silence we stroll side by side, until arriving in the waiting area, which seems about as run-down as the rest of the station. The once cream walls are stained a putrid smoker’s yellow, and not one of the padded chairs is without a hole or gash.

“May I use my phone?” I ask quickly as my escort turns to leave, apparently satisfied that I can work out the features of the dingy room by myself.

“You are not under arrest, ah, yet.” He cringes a little before continuing, “So yes, you are free to use your phone.”

I nod quickly, “Thanks.”

With a shrug he continues on his way, while I find the seat with the best ratio of comfort to cleanliness. Settling down into the extremely soft, and disturbingly sticky leather I pull out my phone, holding down the power button until it vibrates, dinging back to life in my hand. Almost immediately the handset goes crazy, message tones playing one after the other in a polyphonic cacophony.

[From Ikuno] ‘Hey where are you????’

[From Ikuno] ‘Why’s your phone off, are you okay???”

Why would you text someone to ask why their phone is off?

[From Hisao] ‘Going to bed as promised, see you later. I love you.”

I smile softly, writing a quick reply to Hisao.

[To Hisao] ‘Sleep well, I love you too. Thank you for still being there for me. <3’

Next I turn my attention to my best friend.

[To Ikuno] ‘Hey, I’m okay. I’m at the police station, it’s a long and very complicated story - I’ll explain everything when I get back, I’m sorry.’

With a sigh I flick my phone closed, holding the slightly warm plastic to my lips. For the second time today I’m facing an uncomfortable wait, and this time I only have out of date magazines to keep me company. Joy.

———

I sigh, closing ‘Ten top tips to better skin this winter’ - judging by the date on the front cover of the magazine the advice is at least three winters out of date, not that it was particularly enthralling to begin with. Don’t check the time, don’t check the time. I tell myself, yet I can’t help but let my eyes slide to the clock above the doorway.

Damn it.

It’s about lunch time now. I’m bored, I’m hungry, and if my grandfather does not show up soon I might just scream. This is my fault really, I had this delusional notion that confessing would be like an action movie, that I would reveal everything and be in front of a judge by this afternoon. In reality the wheels of justice turn slowly, very, very slowly.

I reach to pick up one of the magazines with scantily clad women and fancy cars - if for nothing other than a change of pace - when the shuffle of shoes grabs my attention. My grandfather has not changed in the slightest since I last saw him, same mane of hair, same aged muscle barely contained by white shirt.

“Miki.” he says breathlessly, stepping past his uniformed escort with the smallest of nods. “What in all that is sacred were you thinking?”

“Errm… Hi.” I say. Truth be told I’m not entirely sure I want him here, but I’m smart enough to know a lawyer is probably an advantage.

“Yes, hello.” He says hurriedly, “You confessed? Why would you do such a thing?”

“Because,” How the hell do I answer this? “Because it was the right thing to do,” I reply stubbornly. I shouldn’t have to convince people telling the truth is a good thing… should I?

“But you told me you couldn’t remember anything! Miki, do you not understand how serious this is? You cou-“

“Yes,” I interrupt with a growl, my annoyance getting the better of me. “I understand completely. Why do you think it took me a year to build up the courage to confess?” I’m getting sick of this. Why does everyone suddenly want to talk to me like I’m some silly little girl who's too stupid to realise what she’s done? Everyone I’ve spoken to has either tried to dissuade me, or else infantilize me. I wish my dad were here. He’s the only person in the entire world who could understand why I need to do this.

“And what have you told them?”

“Everything.” I say, fixing my gaze on the magazine strewn table.

“What does ‘everything’ entail?”

“I explained that I was driving when we crashed, that I…” I falter, “It was me, Tatsuo, he’s… because of me.”

A wave of fresh panic settles on my grandfather's face, and he leans back into the chair pushing his fingertips into his temples. Despite myself I sniff, I never wanted him hurt in all of this. I feel like I’ve pulled the plug on my personal sinking ship, vindicated I’ve returned to the deck… only to find everyone I love is about to be dragged down with me. If this is the right thing to do why does it feel like such a horrible mistake?

I’m shaken out of my revery by the feeling of my grandfather’s strong arm wrapping around my shoulders. He looks at me with a touch of sadness in his otherwise kind eyes. Instinctively I lean into his chest. I wish I could tell him I never wanted any of this to happen… but the sentiment feels completely immaterial.

“What are we going to do with you? Your grandmother always said your honesty would get you into trouble one of these days.”

I nod slowly, unsure how else to respond. I can’t remember a time when I was honest, truly and completely. I suppose when I was younger, when I didn’t have things in my life that I wanted to keep to myself. But that was so long ago. Hot tears finally break free from my tired eyes and burn slender paths down my cheeks.

“She would have been proud of you Miki, and for what it’s worth, I’m proud of you, too.”

Unfortunately our all too brief moment is interrupted simultaneously by the reappearance of detective Harada and the blaring ring of my mobile. Springing apart I dig in my pocket while my grandfather jumps to his feet. I glance at him nervously as my thumb hovers over the call accept button.

“Take it,” grandad says kindly, “I won’t be far away I’m sure.”

With a thankful nod I hit the green button, hesitating for a moment before I press the receiver to my ear. Ikuno’s panicked voice erupts from the speaker as I watch Harada and my grandfather exchange pleasantries before stepping out of sight into the corridor.

“Miki? Miki are you there…?”

“Sorry, I’m here,” I say quickly. “Bit distracted, how are you?”

“How am I? How are you? Your text said you were at a police station.” Her words spill over each other as she speaks, the sounds of bustling student-packed hallways clearly audible in the background of her call.

“Yeah, it’s a bit complicated. It’s going to be okay though, I can explain later.”

“I’m your best friend, you can tell me. Is someone hurt? Is Hisao hurt? Is it your dad again?” She seems to be on the verge of hysterics. Perhaps I should be a little more careful about what I write in my texts.

“No one's hurt, everyone's fine.” I say, interrupting her manic tirade.

“Then what's going on? Why are you at a police station?”

“Well, like I said, it’s complicated.”

“Come on Miki, I’m worried about you. Whatever it is just tell me, please? I will understand - I promise.”

Fuck. What the hell do I do? If I tell her then I risk losing my closest friend over the phone. On the other hand, If I don’t tell her then there is every chance she might react like Hisao and get mad at me for keeping secrets, and then end up finding out from someone else anyway. Damn it… I guess I don’t have a choice.

“You…” I start slowly, even though Ikuno will be the fourth person I have confessed to, saying the words is no easier. “Do you remember when I told you about how I lost my hand?”

“Yeah?” she replies softly.

“Well, I told you someone else had been driving, the boy who died in the accident.”

“Yeah…?” There's a hint of uncertainty in her quiet voice.

“I…” Come on, just say it. “I lied.”

“What do you mean?” She asks quickly before I can finish my sentence.

“I was the one driving the truck, I’m at the police station to confess.”

“You killed somebody?” her accusatory tone makes me wince.

“I… It… Yes.” I mumble.

Ikuno - Unsurprisingly - falls silent. I can’t think of any combination of words to explain myself, to justify my past mistakes. ‘I didn’t mean to’ and ‘It was an accident’ are what you say after you spill a drink. There are no equivalent statements - in any language - for when you take a life.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Her voice is hollow as she finally speaks.

“How could I? I didn’t even fully remember myself until last year.”

“You’ve known for a year? And you never told me.”

“Ikuno how the fuck could I have told you? You would have hated me!”

Taking a deep steadying breath I try and reason with myself. I should have been expecting this reaction, I shouldn’t have told her over the phone. Still, a small part of me can’t help but feel irritated with her. She must know I would never have been able to tell her? She does understand that we’re not talking about some secret party invite, but a truth so horrible it's going to rip my life apart. She can understand that right?

“You could have trusted me! What about all those nights I stayed up with you? Night after night, I thought that meant something?” Her voice is a harsh unwavering whisper, “And I nearly told you… I, just...” she pauses, and I can hear her sigh heavily into the mouthpiece. “I think it might be better if we stayed away from each other, I can’t let my family get caught up in something like this.”

“Iku-“ I make to protest, but the line is already dead. Quickly I hit her speed dial, but barely make it through one tone before the line dies once again. She rejected the call.

For fuck’s sake!


Since when has her family meant so much to her that they affect who she hangs around with? And anyway how does knowing me affect anything? It’s all bullshit. It’s just an excuse because - like Hisao - she considers not being privy to every detail of my life a personal affront. I push my palm against my mouth to muffle a frustrated scream. And how could she think I didn’t appreciate her spending time with me after my bad dreams? Even I don’t know what would have happened to me if she hadn’t.

Perhaps I’m overreacting. I mean, the news must have come as a shock. Plus it was delivered over a damn telephone. But Hisao came back into my life after finding out I was keeping secrets from him. And it’s not like Ikuno and I haven’t had fights before. Though, never over something so serious. I will just have to talk to her after I’m done here - like I should have done in the first place.

With a plan in place - and trying very hard not to think of all the things that could go wrong with it - I get to my feet. I can’t believe how tired I am. It’s like I’ve run ten sprints on top of a week without sleep. My head is a chaos of confused thoughts. There’s simply too much to think about: Ikuno, Ryouta, Hisao, Grandad, my parents - and that before I’ve even considered what’s going to happen to me. I wish I could curl up against my boyfriend's chest and never have to think again.

— — —

Rather predictably the universe is in no mood to hear my silent pleas for mercy, and I find myself back in the smoke-filled interview room. I’m going to stink of cigarettes when I get back to school. That is, assuming I go back to school - I’m only guessing. One thing’s for sure, if I do end up in a cell tonight how I smell will be the least of my problems.

My grandfather's bulk is like a hunched statue on the chair next to me as he reads through the statement I wrote earlier. He doesn’t look happy. Then again it’s a confession, how much more incriminating could it possibly get?

“Well,” he says gloomily, looking up from my clumsy handwriting. “That would just about do it.”

“Yes, it’s, ah, well more descriptive than most confessions we get from people.” The detective answers. “There are a number of questions I still wish to ask Miss Miura, if that is acceptable.”

“Su-“ I begin before being shushed by my grandfather.

“Miki, I advise you to remain silent, for now, please.” There's plea in his voice. I nod once, though I don’t think he notices as he continues speaking to Harada. “You understand my client has suffered a major head injury? The information she has provided may be false”

My stomach drops as the detective nods, “I do - though, as I’m sure you, ah, are aware she leaves me little choice, I can’t ignore a confession.”

I want to protest. I am not mad! Or making anything up for that matter. But before I can do anything too rash my grandfather's warm hand finds my shoulder. “Miki, if there's anything you are not one hundred percent sure of, or cannot fully remember I advise you not to answer.”

I nod slowly, turning to face my interrogator. Who lights yet another cigarette.

“Now Miss Miura, I wonder if you can remember any further details about the accident, anything that might help us understand exactly what happened?

I shake my head. “No, I…” trailing off I wonder how honest to be. Completely would seem the obvious answer. “I mostly remember things through my nightmares, I don’t remember much when i’m awake.”

Both the detective and my grandfather's eyebrows raise, sharing a look in the smoky room. Grandad is the first to speak. “Miki, are you telling us your confession is based off a dream?”

“A nightmare.” I mumble, eyes fixed on my trainers. They both must think I’m insane.

“Oh the prosecutor is going to have a, ah, massive amount of fun dealing with your case Miss Miura.” A hint of a smile plays around the detective's lips, which vanishes so quickly I wonder if it were ever truly there.

“Who?” I ask, feeling increasingly stupid.

“The public prosecutor Miki,” My grandad says quickly, “They are the one to decide if you will face trial or not.”

“Am I under arrest?” I ask slowly, wishing I knew more about Japanese law.

“No, at least not technically. If you miss your appointment with the prosecutor a warrant will be issued. But your, ah, lawyer will ensure that doesn’t happen I’m sure.”

Grandad nods, his hand still on my arm.

“Right then, I suppose we better start at the beginning again. See if we make a bit more sense of this.” Harada says not unkindly.

With a sigh I start to confess all over again, but this time dimly aware that I still might be missing vital details. For the first time since pronouncing my guilt I feel a shiver of doubt - What if this really was a big mistake?

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Last edited by Gajzla on Tue May 03, 2016 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ommadawn
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.37 Posted 29th March 2016)

Post by Ommadawn » Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:10 am

Having only recently come to the world of VN's and Katawa Shoujo, I can say that this story is fantastic. I just wanted to let you know, Gajzla, I love your take on Miki and enjoy seeing a softer side while still having the core characteristics of the Miki we all know and love.

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Gajzla
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.37 Posted 29th March 2016)

Post by Gajzla » Tue May 03, 2016 4:59 pm

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve updated. Been majorly distracted by work, books and Netflix. On the upside I only have about half of the final chapter left to do, so I will endeavour to get it done as soon as I can. Thanks for reading!

Just Like Old Times

“Miss Miura I find you guilty of this crime!” The shallow faced judge roars, much to the delight of the baying crowd.

Icy wind burns on my face as I desperately will some part of my body to move, to let me respond, to let me do anything other than stand unbound yet immobile in front of the terrifying judge. As if sensing my pointless struggles the crowd of empty faced observers surges forward.

“You can’t run from this Miss Miura! You are a killer and a liar, and you will face justice!” Tiny speckles of spit fly from his flapping jowls, landing like tiny molten pinpricks on my upturned face. I struggle, but try as I might I can’t force my hand to wipe the vile substance away.

“Turn and face your sentence!” His voice is less a command and more a fanatical scream.

My body turns easily, the invisible restraint having vanished. However it returns the moment I catch the eye of my punisher; forcing me to look directly into the disgusted face of my boyfriend. No, no please, not him.

Hisao holds a shimmering silver axe causally in one hand, the blade glinting evilly despite the fact the sky is grey and the sun has been banished by tempestuous clouds. Between us sits a wooden pedestal, it’s surface marked with hundreds of cuts and grooves the evidence of generations of axe swings. Blood has soaked so thoroughly into the block that it has turned black.

“Hand.” It’s a single word but Hisao’s voice quivers with so much rage it feels like he’s slapped me.

“No! Please.” I beg, even as my left hand drifts forward to rest palm down on the chopping block. “No!” I scream as I feel warm wetness under my fingertips. “Hisao, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“You deserve this.” He says firmly, raising the axe above his head. “You know you deserve this, you just can never tell the truth.”

“Hisao no! Hisao, Hisao! HISAO!”

The axe drops.


“Miki! For god’s sake wake up!” What I first assume is the convolutions of agonising pain swiftly melds into a pair of hands desperately shaking my shoulders.

Wha?

“Wake up, it’s just a nightmare!” Ikuno’s pale face appears hazily in front of me, obscured by a mixture of hot tears and messy hair.

What is she doing here? Before the question has even finished crossing my mind, it’s replaced with the sudden and brutal recollection of a silver axe biting through dark flesh. Instinctively I move to cradle my left hand, only to find my fingers closing around thin air. It’s such a contradiction between what I can feel and what my senses are telling actually exists that the twisted phantom of my hand vanishes, leaving me sweaty, scared and utterly confused.

“Where am I?” I ask, trying to shake the hair out of my face.

The look on Ikuno’s face makes me wish I had kept my vision obscured, she looks petrified. Standing over me in her frilly white night dress, her blue eyes wider than I ever remember seeing them. There's a quiver in her voice as she speaks. “Miki, you’re- Should I go and get your therapist?”

What?

Oh… right. I suppose that really wasn’t the right question to ask when trying to assure someone of your mental wellbeing. With a slow breath I allow myself to take in the sights and sounds of my room. Messy desk, absent mirror, red illuminated numbers on the clock, all seems to be in order. It’s all so strangely comforting, as if I’m returning here from a long and arduous journey - despite the fact I never left.

“Sorry,” I say softly, trying to sit up. “I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

No.

Pain begins to seep back into my ghostly hand. The phantasmal feel of my lost fingers returning with a feeling like scolding slag being poured into a roughly hand-shaped mould. Pushing my stump into my gut I wonder if there's any way to reproduce the brain short circuit that so effectively cancelled out the phantom. Probably. But it would require a level of nightmare induced delirium that I - unfortunately - appear to have recovered from.

A warm hand gently touches my shoulder, the bed sinking gently as Ikuno settles onto the edge of the mattress. “Hey,” she says softly, “You're worrying me.”

I frown, what does she mean? Oh. I guess I never really answered her. This is strange, I’ve never been this spaced out after a dream - then again I’ve never gone so long without having a bad dream. I thought - rather foolishly I now realise - that my confession had cleansed my soul enough to spare me from my nightmares.

“I’m okay, honestly.” My throat feels dry, and I gesture a little vaguely for the glass of water on my nightstand. At least I didn’t send that flying across the room. “Why are you here?” I ask with curiosity. I don’t really feel up to anger or bitterness at the moment.

“My neighbour was screaming her head off.” A small smile touches her lips as she passes the cool glass into my clammy palm.

“Aren't we fighting?” I ask, before taking a long drink.

“We...“ She stops herself. “I couldn’t just leave you.”

“It’s just like old times huh?” I say, handing back the now empty glass and sitting up a little straighter in bed. Under the covers my missing hand forms into a tight fist, forcing imagined nails into imagined flesh with the force of an exploding star. The intensity of the pain makes me feel dizzy and sick to my stomach. My breath coming in desperate gasps I pitch forward onto my ex best friend's chest.

Her arms wrap around me. “I wish we could be like we were back then.”

“Why can’t we be?” I ask, closing my eyes. Please just let her forgive me.

“It’s complicated.” Her arms are still around me, but the muffled quality in her voice tells betrays her reluctance to look at me.

“I’m sorry.” I say quickly; pointlessly.

“I know. I’m sorry too.” I don’t understand why she’s apologising, but I don’t interrupt. “There are things I need to work out, not just with you but with myself.”

If she has problems wouldn’t it be better to work them out with a friend?
Then again, how much of a friend can I really claim to be. There’s enough uncertainty in my future to make even the most experienced of gamblers hedge his bets.

“You couldn’t bring yourself to speak about this when we were at your parents house, could you?” I keep my tone intrigued, rather than accusatory.

A lone tear runs down my cheek as I open my eyes. Ikuno’s sapphire gaze meets mine, a tiny smile on her lips. “I didn’t think you would remember that.”

Strolling into the territory of what I can and cannot remember seem’s like a fine way to break up the first amicable talk we’ve had in weeks. Hell, this is the first time we’ve spoken since I came back from the police station. It suddenly hits me how important it is to not jeopardise this moment with stupid or misjudged words, a task that would be a damn sight easier if my hand didn’t smart so bloody much.

“Once you’ve worked things out.” I say slowly, relying on a tactic of selective deafness for her last comment. “Could we see if we can work us out?”

“I thought you would be angry at me?” She replies softly, demonstrating her own clever use of temporary hearing loss.

“I was, perhaps with good reason, perhaps not. It’s just all so pointless, Ikuno I’m-” I stop myself, sitting up with a grimace so I can meet her eyes properly as I continue: “I’m so scared right now… I just want my best friend back.” My own honestly surprises me, I’m not sure I meant to say that. Well I obviously meant to say it. Just not so bluntly.

She cooks her head to one side ever so slightly. “You know, that’s the first time you’ve ever admitted to being scared by your dreams. I mean, I could guess before bu-“

“It’s not just the dream.” I say quickly, cutting her off. “It’s everything, I still don’t know if I’m going to court or not. And I’m starting to think I made a huge mistake when I confessed.” I gasp for air as I finish my rapid sentence, unsure if my ex-friend heard even half of my ramblings.

“When do you find out?” she asks softly. “About going on trial I mean.”

I sigh heavily. Now there's the question. “It could be any time. All I can do is wait for my granddad to phone with the prosecutor's decision.”

“Will you tell me when you know?”

She cares?

“Of course.” I pause for a moment, biting my bottom lip. “If I do go to court, will you go with me?”

Now it’s Ikuno’s turn to bite her pale lip. I want to tell her it’s okay to say no, that it’s a lot to ask, and it’s not like we are even friends - Not at the moment anyway. But I stay quiet, watching in amazement as her head slowly starts to nod. “If you want me to be there, I will.”

“Thank you,” I reply, using my good arm to pull her into a gentle hug.

Our embrace ends naturally, but the space between us after we part seems much wider than before. There is an air of finality in the room, like a somber presence that accompanies a funeral. Ikuno stands up slowly, using her knuckles to rub at her big blue eyes.

“What happens now?” I ask.

“Things go back to how they were I guess. Just… Just give me more time, okay?”

“Okay.” I whisper. A part of me wants to berate her for her selfishness. She’s the daughter of millionaires, and her most painful medical issue is having to prick her finger, how much time does she really need to sort out her head? But where’s the gain in vocalising it? If she feels she needs time for whatever messed up reason then I have no choice but to give it to her, to be patient and hope she comes back to me.

She turns, slowly padding her way back to the door. I notice her gaze flicker over to the section of wardrobe where my mirror used to be, but she doesn’t say anything.

“Your parents,” I say suddenly, causing her to stop. “Will they really be affected by what I’ve done?”

She grimaces, before looking down at her feet. “No, I just.” Her hand reaches out for the door handle, escape apparently foremost in her mind. “I just wanted a reason to not be friends with you.”

“It’s okay.”

“No. It isn’t.” Ikuno spills out of my room in a swish of white lace.

Well, that was surreal.

But somehow, after all of tonight's events, I feel more hopeful. Sliding out of bed, I rejoice in the routine of striping out of my sweaty nightwear and pulling on the cool lycra of my running gear. It will be dawn soon, and the sky is just bright enough to let me claim a sliver of the rebellious night. These really are like old times.

— — —

“That was so good!”

“I know right? Timeless, a masterpiece. Truly art at it’s highest level.” I’m impressed Ryouta managed to say so much with a mouth full of pizza. Impressed and disgusted.

“Do you think,” I start slowly chewing on my own slice of pizza. “That all the people with conditions like ours in the Matrix also have them in real life? Or do you think the machines just gave a certain percentage of the population disabilities just for realism?”

“Okay,” he sorrows, wiping his hand on his trousers. “Who are you and what have you done with Miki.”

I try an Emi-like pout, but given the grin on Ryouta’s face I probably just look like a fish. “You're complaining because I finally like one of your movies?”

“Hey, no complaints from me. I’m just shocked, I had no idea you were so deep.”

“I can be deep.” I grumble, taking another bite of nearly cold pizza.

“Deeply annoyed maybe.” He smirks.

I’m still not entirely sure how I ended up at this impromptu movie night. School’s been a strange place since my police interview, and not just because Ikuno is no longer - or at least very rarely - talking to me. There’s a sense that people know I left the school that storm-battered morning, but they don’t exactly know why. I suppose I should be thankful to Ikuno for that, she could have done a lot of damage with only a little gossip.

It’s strange also in how little things have changed. Life moves on much as it has before. I am still expected to go to class, Hisao still has duties with the student council and I’m still the second fastest runner at the track and field club. Though not for lack of trying, damn adorable little speed demon.

And perhaps most importantly Ryouta is still my friend. Despite not sharing a word in anger we haven’t spoken since the interview. His proximity to Ikuno just made everything super awkward. I wouldn’t even have been surprised if he was angry at me. After all, of all my friends he was the only one to not hear the news directly from me. For those reasons - and let’s be fair - through my own cowardice I let the situation stagnate. That is, until he ambushed me outside the changing rooms tonight.

“There’s the Miki I know!” He exclaims happily, “Staring off into the middle distance halfway through a conversation. How do you and Hisao get anything done?”

“Slowly,” I grumble. “Glad to see your still a smart-arse.”

“The one and only.” He pauses, half his face screwing up in concentration. “Is that your phone?”

Wha? Oh shit! How the hell did he hear that? Throwing the pizza crust back into the box I dive off of his bed, wrestling with the pull cord of my gym bag. Come on, come on. I barely register who’s phoning me before I have the handset pressed to my ear. Why the hell did I listen to smart arse when he told me to put the damn thing on vibrate.

“Hello?” I say a little shakily, aware of Ryouta’s eyes on the back of my head as I kneel amongst the detritus spread across his carpet.

“Good evening Miki.” Grandad replies, in a disturbingly professional tone. Oh that is never a good sign. “I’ve just finished speaking to the prosecutor.” He continues, still in a voice that gives nothing away.

“And…?” I ask with nervous impatience.

“They have decided that there is not enough evidence, nor chance of conviction to pursue the matter of the truck crash any further.”

Relief swells in my chest like a physical, tangible thing. Is this what it feels like to be on drugs? All the pressure and worry that has been slowly piling on top of me vanishes in one swift euphoric release. I fall back against Ryouta’s bed, thanking every deity I can think of. Perhaps it’s selfish, being so elated over the fact my confession came to nothing. Tatsuo’s parents still lost their son... Was justice for them why I did all this in the first place? No. If I’m being honest, even though I feel immensely guilty for what I’ve done to them, none of this was for their benefit. I confessed to avoid being the incomplete person my father warned me about, and the fact that I found the courage to bare my sins is not nullified by the prosecutor's decision not to push ahead with a trial. Somewhere, perhaps far off in the distance grandad says something, but I don’t catch it, or particularly care what was said. I’ve done it, I’m free. What else matters?

I’ve almost forgotten Ryouta is in the room until I catch sight of his puzzled pudgy face. He gives me an awkward half smile, and I realise how strange my reaction must look when you can only hear half the conversation. In an effort to put his mind at rest I give him the biggest smile I can muster, which even then does not seem to do justice to how I feel. Regardless Ryouta gets the message, flashing me a toothy grin and by an exuberant thumbs up. Vaguely I can hear my grandads voice, but once again I completely miss what he said.

Never again. Never again will I put myself in such a stupid pointless situation. I’ve risked everything, I could have lost Hisao. I definitely would have lost Ikuno, but now she can have all the time she needs. “Thank you so much.” I whisper into the phone.

“Miki! Are you not listening to me?” He’s almost shouting now, so desperate is he to be heard that I falter, the smile disappearing from my face.

“I… I’m sorry I was just excited,” I say honestly.

“Well, be that as it may, we are not out of the woods yet. They are going to press ahead for a perjury conviction.”

My thought process grinds to a halt as I try and comprehend what he just said.

“I’m sorry,” Grandad continues softly, sounding more like my guardian now. “I did everything within my power, but they believe they have a strong case.”

“O… Okay.” I jitter in reply, a tight knot forming in my stomach.

“Miki, I know you don’t want to hear this but perjury carries with it the possibility of up to six months in prison. It’s low chance, but still a possibility that you will serve a custodial sentence. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” I say breathlessly.

“But I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that won’t happen. Okay?”

I make a sound somewhere between agreement and a groan. Damnit, why couldn’t he give me the bad news first? This sucks so much more for piggybacking on my moment of happiness.

“Try not to worry.” He pauses, as if realising the futility to his words. “We are going to get through this.” Where the hell is the ‘we’ in this? “Would you like me to tell your parents? Or would you rather?”

“No, you.” I say quickly, regaining some of my frazzled senses. “Please.”

“Of course, will you be alright for tonight?”

I don’t know.

“I think so.”

“You're the strongest person I know Miki.” I can’t help but scoff at his words. “You are, and you are going to be fine. I will call you again as soon as I know the court date. Okay?”

Despite my assertions that I will be just fine he enquires about my well-being several more times - I just can’t force false sincerity into my voice it seems. Finally, either satisfied or admitting defeat he says his goodbyes. Silence smothers the room, punctuated only by the snap as I close my phone. To his credit my normally exuberant friend remains in his seat, quietly waiting for me venture back from my tangled web of thoughts.

My phantom hand begins to prickle - a sure sign that a dose of pain is on its way. Oh you can fuck right off. With a snarl I force my stump into my stomach. This sucks so much, and what's worse is that I have no one to blame but myself. Hell, people tried to talk me out of it. But oh no. I just had to be the noble hero, I just had to be a warrior of truth and justice. Bloody stupid…

“Miki?” Ryouta says tentatively.

Right, I’m still in my friend’s room - Not the place for an epiphany regarding my stupidity. “Sorry,” I mumble.

“You look like you're about to punch someone.” I suppose he would know that look well. “That was your grandad right? What has he done?”

“Nothing,” I grimace, leaning my head against his soft mattress and staring up at the ceiling. “Well, he told me I’m being put on trial for perjury, but that’s not his fault.”

“Perjury?” He says confusedly, the rest of his sentence left hanging. I thought Ikuno said you killed someone.

I exhale slowly, not entirely sure I have the energy to explain my situation to Ryouta. Then again he waited for me and welcomed me back with open, albeit unequal arms. That’s the kind of friend a girl behind bars could do with, come to think of it, it doesn’t matter if I’m incarcerated or not, Ryouta is the kind of friend I can’t afford to lose.

“They’ve dropped the manslaughter or whatever it’s called charge, but because I made two contradicting police statements…” I trail off, assuming I don’t need to explain any further. Truth be told I never really gave the perjury thing much thought. Why would I? Killing someone seemed to make my other crimes rather a mute point.

“Well that’s good right?”

“How the hell is it good?” I snap, the searing pain in my hand giving my words a razor edge.

Ryouta winces, pushing himself away from me. “Chill!” he says, showing me the flat of his palm. “I just meant it’s good they dropped the manslaughter charge. That’s all.”

I didn’t think about it like that. Ryouta’s right though, I’ve avoided the far more serious charge. I guess the shock and disappointment blinded me to the fact that I’ve actually had a remarkably lucky escape. A few months, after all, is a whole lot better than several years spent behind bars.

“I still might go to prison,” I mumble, unable to meet Ryouta’s gaze.

“Nah.” He says nonchalantly.

“You know something I don’t?” I grunt, my irritable words tasting bitter in my mouth.

“I just know everything is going to be alright.” He shrugs. “And if it’s not I will smuggle you a file inside a cake.”

“Thanks.” I smile begrudgingly. He sounds so much like he believes his words absolutely that I find it hard not to do the same. But I can’t allow myself to grow complacent, if living with my drunken mother has taught me one thing it’s that I need to prepare for disappointment. I’ve managed to dodge one hell of a bullet today - An all the more fortunate feat when you consider I fired it at myself. I can’t rely on that same luck again.

“Eh,” he grins getting ungracefully to his feet. “I like to think of us as a team, my one armed amigo. We look out for each other.”

“I suppose we do.” I admit, deciding to ignore his term of endearment. I don’t much like being defined by my stump. I risk a glance down at my butchered appendage, paranoid the phantom will sense it’s being watched. But no, the pain, through some great act of cosmic mercy, has already started to fade away into nothingness, leaving behind only a few tendrils of prickly heat.

“Anyway,” Ryouta says, opening his wardrobe door to reveal pile upon pile of DVD’s. I guess that explains why all his clothes are on the floor. “You wanna borrow the Shawshank Redemption? It has subtitles.”

“What’s it about?" I ask suspiciously, Ryouta has never once in all the time I’ve known him offered to part with one of his precious movies.

“A prison break.” He says with a huge lopsided grin. “Might be educational.”

“Thanks smart arse.”

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Last edited by Gajzla on Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

azumeow
Posts: 409
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:04 am

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.38 Posted 3rd May 2016)

Post by azumeow » Tue May 03, 2016 10:00 pm

Yeaaaahhhh, I guess that makes sense. Thanks, though, Ryouta, for making everything a little less shitty.
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

User avatar
Gajzla
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: England

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.38 Posted 3rd May 2016)

Post by Gajzla » Sat Jun 25, 2016 11:25 am

Attack

Fluorescent lighting. That’s all I’m going to be able picture in my mind’s eye when I look back on my time in district courtroom number three. The chamber is soaked in the unnatural, flickering light. With no windows we could very well be miles underground - which I suppose is appropriate - this unnecessary formality will become my tomb.

Fidgeting uncomfortably I glance around the room already oversaturated with murmuring voices. Despite how crowded the room seems to be, many of the chairs are unoccupied, including the divided front row of the public gallery - which is reserved for the friends and family of criminal and victim alike. Though, I have no idea if Tatsuo’s family will be here.

A reassuring hand closes over my shoulder. “You doing okay? Won’t be long now, waiting is always the hardest part.” My grandfather's voice and touch seem to anchor me somewhat, and for the moment the air no longer feels so heavy.

I shrug, he sits behind me, our bodies separated by the table on which his paperwork is liberally scattered. I’m reminded of my own desk back at Yamaku, and a small part of me is happy to know that untidiness runs in the family.

“Well actually the chairs here might be the hardest part,” he chuckles, but it feels forced. “Every courtroom I go to, they always pick the most uncomfortable seating they can find. I suppose they think it keeps people honest.”

“Those chairs don’t look so bad,” I say, nodding towards the raised stand, behind which sit three very comfortable looking black recliners.

“Well the judges are afforded more than their fair share of comfort.” His gruff voice evaporates into another laugh, but this time he doesn’t seem to need to pretend. “Then again, the last thing you want is your judges to be irritable. Anyway it would appear you have some visitors.”

I look around wildly, before I finally catch his amber eyes across the wooden fence that separates the pantomime of justice from it’s voyeuristic audience.

He made it.

Hisao smiles at me nervously, adjusting his tie. He looks good in a suit. It’s probably inappropriate, but admiring my boyfriend’s slightly short brown jacket is a welcome distraction. In fact his mere presence is gloriously thought-consuming. I wonder what his parents think of all this? I mean, they must have given him permission to take a break from school - but do they know the reason why? If they do, I suspect I won’t be baking any cakes with his mother for quite awhile.

But he’s not alone. True to her word Ikuno slips into the seat beside him, her dress practically screaming: ‘I cost more than your car’. I almost find myself laughing as she’s joined by Ryouta, who by contrast looks like he borrowed his suit from his dad. He probably did. Regardless of attire he throws me a massive grin and an exuberant thumbs up, much to the mixed horror and amusement of my other friends.

I smile back, suddenly feeling like things might actually be okay. Wouldn’t hurt to hope right?

My comfortably empty thoughts are interrupted by a sharp sting of realisation as I look at my boyfriend, or more accurately I look at who isn’t sitting near him, or anywhere in the hall for that matter. My parents. They must know the trial is today, there’s just no universe in which grandad would not have told my mum at least. So is their absence some kind of statement? Is it because I didn’t phone them after I confessed? I should have, I know I should have. But I grow out of the notion that my mum and dad were people I could turn to long ago.

Honestly, that's what they get when they task their daughter with raising herself.

I shake my head, hoping no one notices as I try and dislodge that disgusting thought. I should have said something, hell they might even think I’m the one who abandoned them. I should have asked my grandfather last night, we were after all stuck in a car in uncomfortable silence for hours. Why are my thoughts always lagging so far behind my actions? Twisting like old rope my phantom limb asserts itself painfully, mocking my self pity in it’s own not so subtle way. Crossing my arms I push the remainder of the limb into my stomach, hoping no one will notice.

“Miki,” my grandfather says softly from behind me, “they will be here later, once Miss Kita collects them.”

Slightly stunned I twist in my seat, turning around to meet a familiar smile. I used to hate that look, It’s the look he always gave me when I told him everything at home was fine, despite rather obvious evidence to the contrary. Our fingers briefly touch across the table, a moment of stillness in which I allow myself to wince, my missing appendage cooling slowly like an ingot of molten iron.

The creak of a door draws my attention away from my guardian and the pain. Striding confidently out of the shadowy corridor directly opposite me a woman emerges, she reminds me forcibly of a raven as she takes her seat at the desk mirroring my grandfather’s. So this is the prosecution?

Pulling file after file from her bag I watch her closely, mesmerised by her graceful movements as she arranges everything perfectly in front of her. It’s hard to reconcile, but for some people this is just another day at the office. Still, there’s something sinister about her, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Perhaps it’s how angular everything about her seems to be, her lips, cheekbones even the winkles collected at the corners of her eyes seem to have been drawn by a ruler. Yet far from trying to hide this oddity, she seems to have chosen to accentuate it. Her silken black hair is trimmed perfectly to complement the strange collection of angles and straight lines which is her face. Despite looking like a neat sketch of one of death’s agents she smiles at me politely, inclining her head to my grandfather.

She’s like a damn raven.

An expectant silence falls over the courtroom, broken occasionally by the rustle of clothes or a muffled cough. It’s a surreal feeling, a bit like waking up in the hospital after my accident. Sitting exposed and centre stage I feel completely discounted - as if I were experiencing the scene through someone else’s eyes. The pain in my hand dies down to mere prickles, the phantom so caught up in the anticipation permeating the room it forgot for a moment its otherwise singular goal of hurting me.

I wonder if imagining a known medical phenomena as a separate entity living inside me strengthens or weakens my case? Perhaps best not mention it.

Before I have much time to dwell on the question of my sanity there is a sound like a thousand broken violins, as dozens of chairs are pushed back against the marble by their rising occupants. I, however, falter. Until my granddad pokes me sharply in the back. Taking the hint I jump to my feet, just in time to see the first robbed figure slide solemnly into the room. One black-clad judge after another filters into the space behind their chairs until all three of them are peering out over the crowd, seeming more like ministers at a funeral than judges at a trial.

I briefly catch the eye of the middle - and most important - judge, his faded green pupils announce his age clearly, as if the grey hair and wrinkles were not obvious enough. I wonder if seniority is a deciding factor in who gets to be a head judge, when this guy pops his clogs will the two men either side of him compare birth dates for right of ascension? I suppose it’s a bit much to ask to have a women judge me alongside these old relics.

Prompted by some invisible signal the judges bow, displaying to the court a complete gradient of greying hair all the way through to wispy white. I incline my head slightly, unsure if I’m supposed to be returning the gesture. Though it hardly seems to matter, the justices seem more interested in their plush chairs than the social niceties.

The room seems to exhale collectively as we sink back into our seats, following in the wake of the judges who look relieved to be off of their feet. I can’t say I’m completely thrilled to return to my own numbing chair, but I put on what I hope is an indifferent, yet confident expression.

My gaze drifts from Hisao, to my friends, onto the prosecution and finally coming to rest on the wispy haired centre judge, who clears his throat gently, pulling a microphone closer towards his mouth. “Good morning.” His voice is warm and soft, but delivered with the authority of a drill sergeant. “I believe we are ready to begin?” He pauses, looking to his colleagues. Neither of whom seem to have any objections, so he continues, now looking directly at me. “At this time I ask the defendant please rise and state her full name clearly for the court records.”

I don’t need to be poked this time to get unsteady to my feet. “Miura Miki, your honour.” I say quietly, surprised that my muffled voice is picked up so well by the overhead microphones.

“Very good, you may be seated Miss Miura.” The judge gives me the smallest of smiles, before turning towards the raven featured women perched on the edge of her seat. “Will the prosecution please state her name and read aloud the charges.”

“Kasumi Karasu your honour.” She pauses, picking up a sheet of paper, “The defendant is accused of committing perjury in an official statement, under article one-six-nine, on the fourth of June this year.”

What a mouthful.

Miss Karasu sits down looking indecently self-satisfied. I promptly look away, lamenting the fact that the prosecutor who gave me my interview shortly after detective Harada’s interrogation isn’t here. While he wasn’t exactly kind, he at least seemed to approach his job with the solemness it deserved. Unlike my current prosecutor, who seems to see this courtroom as a giant game - one she already thinks she’s won. Behind galactic emperor she probably has Shizune’s dream job.

“Very good, very good.” The judge who spoke before nods appreciatively, his hand moving slowly as he pens a note onto some unseen piece of paper. I’m not sure why he would need to, given there is young woman typing away quietly almost directly below him. You probably don’t make head judge if you rely on someone else’s notes.

Seemingly pleased with whatever he has written the judge continues, “My name is Yamasaki. I will be overseeing these proceedings.” He pauses for a moment, as if waiting to see if there are any objections to his gentle tone. “I will be assisted by Mr Yoshida,” he nods to the man on his right, “and by Mr Fukui.” The small man lowers his head slightly, his face like crumpled silk offering no obvious emotion.

With his colleagues introduced Judge Yamasaki’s attention returns to me. “Miss Miura as the defendant you are granted a number of rights. You have the right to a fair and speedy trial, to have council with your defence and the right to remain silent if you so wish, do you understand?”

Despite recent experience I still require a sharp poke in the back to cause me to stop nodding and lurch unsteadily to my feet. Reassuringly only slight amusement or downright indifference crosses the face of the judges. “I understand your honour.” I say quickly, wincing at how flustered my voice sounds. Embarrassed I bend to sit down again, only to receive yet another sharp poke from my grandfather.

Smiling softly the head judge continues, “How do you pled to the charges laid against you by the prosecution?”

“Guilty,” I say a nervously, half expecting him to tell me I’m wrong. I don’t know if it’s a wise plea, but I honestly can’t see more lies helping.

“Very well. Miss Miura from here on out you may remain seated,” he smirks, “and need only rise for our final verdict.”

Slowly I sit down slowly; expecting another prod.

“The prosecution will now make its case against the accused. Miss Karasu you may begin when you are ready.” The judge settles back into his chair, making a cage with his delicate fingers as he looks expectantly to the prosecutors table.

“Thank you your honour,” Karasu’s words ring crisply through the muted hall, sounding more like an actress than a lawyer. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she announces rising from her chair gracefully. “Perjury may at first seem a fairly minor crime, one that leaves no victims, that has little impact in the real world. Yet you only have to scratch a little deeper under the skin of this apparent misdemeanour to see the truth of this malicious and deceitful act.”

Is this rehearsed?

“Miss Miura’s actions have wasted police time, distracting an already overstretched force from much more pressing matters. Her actions have squandered police resources, again depriving those who truly need the aid. But perhaps the most heinous result of Miss Miura’s deliberate actions is the uncertainty that has been forced upon the grieving Takahashi family, whose only son tragically died in the accident that the defendant chose to lie about.”

She pauses for a long moment, letting her opening gambit sink into the crowd. I twist in my seat, looking to my grandfather to see his reaction. Not good, would be an understatement. Yet he rearranges his face back into one of neutral interest, smiling softly and gesturing for me to turn around. Which I do, only to come face to face with Miss Karasu, who appears to have been waiting for me.

“Before I call my first witness I would like to ask you a few questions Miss Miura.”

I nod slowly, distracted by the faint hint of perfume radiating from her.

“Were you surprised to find a detective waiting in the office of your school therapist when you arrived on the fourth of June Miss Miura?”

I faultier, thrown off by the apparent randomness of her question. “No.” I say tentatively. Be honest, show remorse… that’s all I can do.

“So this was an arranged meeting?”

Again I nod, not sure if I’m supposed to give verbal answers or not.

“And did your therapist organise for you to meet the detective, or did you? Perhaps even your grandfather, I understand he is acting as your lawyer and guardian?”

“No, I mean...” I pause, allowing myself to take a breath. “I requested the meeting, and Dr Ueda arranged it.” While feeling relieved that I managed to get the answer out in a coherent manner, I can’t help but feel troubled by the tail end of her question. It’s probably pretty obvious just from watching our interactions that grandad and I are related, and based on our respective ages it’s probably not hard to guess how. But how could she know he acts as my guardian?

“So it would be fair to say you had plenty of time to prepare to make your statement?” She smiles softly, almost kindly at me. “I just want to be absolutely clear on this point, you yourself arranged the meeting with ample time to prepare your statement beforehand?”

I nod once, “Yes.”

“And so you knew your statement to be false before you made it?”

I don’t answer, my head to full of the implications of my reply. Dammit. I don’t know how to respond. I want to be honest, I want to tell the truth and avoid being the incomplete person my dad warned me about. But at the same time honesty here could put me behind bars, She’s expecting an answer, everyone is… I’m just making it worse.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anybody.” I say quietly, though my voice is picked up by the microphones well enough.

“That wasn’t what I asked Miss Miura.”

I’m going to regret this. My eyes flicker to Hisao, desperate to find some kind of reassurance there. He nods slowly, I let my gaze linger awhile longer, knowing all of a sudden what I really hope to find on his beautiful face - forgiveness.

“Yes,” I say defeatedly, hanging my head.

“Think you Miss Miura.” She sounds sincere, but I only have to peer up at her face to see the truth. She’s barely able to contain her glee, it’s like seeing Emi after she’s a won a race, but a twisted abomination of my friend’s joy, grafted onto a face that was never made for it. In a swift moment Miss Karasu is facing the judges, acting for all the world like the rest of the room no longer exists.

“Your honour, I would like to call my first witness.” She almost sings the words.

“Very well.” To my surprise the black robed judge answers, showing no obvious sign that he has been swayed either way by the questions. “Doctor Ueda, if you would kindly take the stand.”

There’s a collective shift of gaze through the room as my therapist, looking very dapper in a green suit and silver tie rises and makes his way down through the curious public gallery. His face is impassive as he steps through the small wooden gate that separates the observers from the observed, but I can’t help but notice he twirls his wisp-white beard loosely around his finger. Is he nervous?

Karasu stares thoughtfully at the doctor as he takes his place behind the lectern in front of both myself and the judges. “Doctor Ueda,” she begins, pleasantly enough but an air of cold calculation is present on her smiling face. “I wonder if you could describe your relationship to the accused?”

“I am Miss Miura’s therapist,” he replies calmly, “a role I have held since her first week at Yamaku Academy.”

“So it would be fair to say you are well acquainted with the defendant's mental health?”

“I am,” Dr Ueda replies, “I doubt you will find anyone else with a more comprehensive understanding of Miss Miura’s physiological development over the last year and a half.”

“That’s excellent, as I’m sure you're aware an important aspect of determining a person's guilt is to understand their mindset when the offence occurred.” The prosecutor throws me a weak smile over the doctor's shoulder. “Was the person in question able to discern fact from fiction? To understand right from wrong, to act, in other words as a sane and reasonable person?”

Dr Ueda seems to consider Miss Karasu for a moment, eyeing her up and down as he would one of his patients. Finally he inclines his head a fraction of an inch, universal therapist sign language for ‘Please continue.’.

“How would you describe Miss Miura mental state on the fourth of June?” Karasu asks.

“As I remember Miss Miura was understandably nervous before giving her statement, at the time I think she was simply relieved to close the door on the accident and move on with her life.”

“So you do not believe her alleged memory loss was a contributing factor to her false statement?” The raven faced lawyer moves her fingers thoughtfully to her chin, staring intently at her witness. As if waiting for the perfect moment to pounce.

“I did not say that.” His tone is flat, but his irritation creeps in regardless. “Miss Miura is suffering from Dissociative Amnesia, this condition often occurs in cases of extreme trauma. For example, a particularly vicious mugging or sexual assault. Or, as in Miss Miura’s case a vehicular collision which resulted in life-changing injuries.”

Glancing briefly in my direction he continues, “As you can imagine a condition such as this is incredibly difficult to treat, however we were making good progress with her recollections, hence why she asked to make her statement.”

“Your desire to protect your patient is admirable doctor, but in your professional capacity I would like you to answer my simple question: Did her condition effect Miss Miura’s decision making process on the fourth of June?” Her words are not angry, not touched by any emotion really. They are just hard and cold, demanding attention and respect in equal measure.

“I do not believe so.”

“So then, why do you believe she lied?”

“Self preservation,” Dr Ueda replies simply. “I don’t believe she acted maliciously, just out of fear and uncertainty. Both of which would have been heightened by her condition.”

“But didn’t you just-“

“You asked if Miss Miura was able to make her own decisions, I believe she was.” The doctor interrupts, “But it would be foolish to assume that the accident, the Dissociative Amnesia and the loss of a limb did not have an effect on what she chose to do. I imagine you are aware of the term extenuating circumstances?”

“Perfectly.” Miss Karasu replies, struggling to keep the venom from her normally composed voice. She’s not as good at this as she thinks. “Yet I wonder if you believe, as I do, that Miss Miura’s actions were as a direct result of the information withheld from her?” Licking her lips she smiles, “After all, you agreed to keep the police report from your patient, presumably at her grandfather's request. I can see how she would have difficulties regaining her lost memories under that arrangement.”

A snap of wood striking mahogany rings through the courtroom before anyone has the chance to respond. I had almost forgotten judges were present, given the argument occurring right in front of me. There's a brief silence before the head judge beings to speak, resonating absolute authority with each syllable. “Miss Karasu, you will kindly watch what you are inferring. Even if your witness if not giving you answers you personally find satisfactory.”

The raven-faced prosecutor looks like she’s just been slapped, much to the barely concealed delight of Dr. Ueda. I’m not bold enough to do it, but I’m fairly sure if I turned around I would see the same smile on my grandfather's face. Instead I sneak a glance in the direction of my friends, who offer reassuring smiles and a mouthed ‘Ohhh burn.’ from Ryouta - Ever the master of subtlety.

“My apologies your honour. It wasn’t my intention to accuse the witness of any crime. I’m simply interested in why he kept the details of a car crash from a young woman so desperate to remember them?” Karasu turns her attention back to Dr Ueda as she finishes her sentence, recovering quickly from her scolding.

“And how exactly is this relevant?” My grandfather's voice seems to warm the back of my neck, as he weighs in from behind me.

“It’s relevant because it helps to explain why a young woman is left so tragically misinformed that she ends up in court for perjury. Had she been informed to begin with, as any decent guardian would have ensured, she would never have ended up in court. But then I should have known that our resident paragon of legal advice would fail once again when it came to defending his family, I sup-“

A boom echoes through the room as the gavel once again comes down on the desk. Only this time with significantly more force. “That is enough!” The leader of the judges roars, holding the tiny mallet above his head as if daring anyone to do anything that might call down its wrath once again. Despite his age he is an imposing sight, I try and sink down into my uncomfortable seat, lest his attention turn to me.

“Prosecutor Karasu, this is a trail, not a daytime soap! You will kindly keep your personal grievances out of my courtroom, unless you wish for me to have you removed. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes your honour,” A long silence follows these words, Karasu seeming to realise she’s pushed things just that little bit too far. “I fear I may have become a little impassioned, my sincerest apologies.”

“Your sincerity remains to be seen.” The judge replies, clearly unimpressed. “Miss Miura,” Instinctively I start to rise, but stop when he holds up his hand, his face softening dramatically. “Please remain seated Miss Miura, I simply want to ask you about the police report, did you not inquire about it yourself?”

“Grandad offered to show me,” I say nervously, not quite able to meet his eye. “But I didn’t want to see it, I wanted to remember for myself.”

“I see, and this is something you supported, Doctor Ueda?” His focus shifts to the therapist standing before him.

“I advised against it, but given that Miss Miura was seeing me voluntary, advising was all I could do.” I catch his eye and receive a fond smile for my trouble. “Nonetheless Miss Miura has made remarkable process even without access to official reports.”

“Do you have any further questions for your witness Miss Karasu?” The judge asks, still looking at her with a certain measure of disdain.

“No your honour.”

“Well then, dismiss him and make any remaining comments.”

While a thoroughly put-out Karasu is administering to the court I seize my opportunity to turn in my seat, getting a look at my grandfather's face for the first time since the trial began. He looks… furious? Anger the like of which I’ve never known seems to emanate from him, his muscles strained tight under his ever-present white shirt. “What did she mean about failing the family?” I whisper. Her words had me concerned, his reaction has me truly worried. What the hell is going on?

Isn’t a trial significant enough drama for one day?


“Later Miki,” he replies in a gruff whisper, “much later.” He points me towards the judge dismissively.

I turn around tentatively, something definitely isn’t right. But this is hardly the time to deal with it. Karasu is ready for whatever snide comments she has left to make, her expression harder than ever. We both take a deep breathe as she strides forth; seeking out the limelight.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have heard from the defendant's own mouth how she knowingly and purposely falsified her statement. We heard from her therapist how he believed Miss Miura to be fully competent when she was making her statement, and let us not forget he was witness to the entire interview, he never felt the need to intervene.”

She pauses, her eyes narrowing in on my grandfather.

“By any standard Miss Miura is guilty, she has admitted as much herself. Her actions, for which she can only provide weak excuses have caused the misuse of both police time and resources. She has through her willing deception caused untold pain to an already grieving family. This fact should not be forgotten when it comes to assigning a sentence. I thank you for your time.”

And with that she’s finished. She returns to her seat with the same flourish she left it, her arms crossed over her chest and her gaze resolutely fixed just over my shoulder, her jaw fixed. Damn it! I can’t be focusing on whatever is going on between this raven faced woman and my grandad, but her words are gnawing at me. It’s unbelievable, she’s more or less just demolished any case I can imagine my defence making. But it’s her mention of my family that is occupying my thoughts.

“Very good, Prosecutor Karasu, thank you.” The head judge is speaking again, “It’s a little early for lunch, but I think the accused would welcome a chance to compose herself before this afternoons hearing, and both legal parties will benefit from some time to clear their heads. So that when they return their prior animosity will be left outside my courtroom, am I clear?”

Both lawyers reply politely, with assurances of improved behaviour from the prosecutor's table. None of which the judge looks like he believes. Nevertheless he and his silent cronies rise to their feet, before marching sombrely away. The room relaxes considerably once they are gone, and I waste no time in hurrying to Hisao.

“Hi.” He says softly as he quickly stands up, our bodies separated by the wooden face that barely comes up to our knees. It would be so easy to hop over it and into his arms. Unfortunately - or fortunately I suppose, given the circumstances - a warm hand lands on my shoulder before I can act on my mad impulse.

“Miki, come away. You can’t be here.” Grandad says, applying a soft pressure to my shoulder, presumably to get me moving back to the small room we occupied before the trial began.

For a half a moment I consider resisting, but again I manage to quell the impulse. “I love you,” I say softly. “I will see you after, okay? All of you.” I try a reassuring smile, but manage only a sort of lopsided grimace.

“You’ll be fine,” Hisao manages to say, before I cave to the pressure on my shoulder and allow myself to be led away. I chance one last look at the door. What? Ikuno is speaking to my green suited therapist, my other friends looking on, apparently just as confused as I am. Does she know him? Unfortunately my window to wonder is extinguished as I’m pushed firmly through the door.

The small wood-paneled room feels noticeably less stuffy than the courtroom, despite the disparity in size. It must have something to do with the large cross-hatch window letting dappled sunlight dance across the table that occupies a majority of the space. I suppose on balance some privacy - even if it deprives me of my boyfriend - would be no bad thing. I have questions to ask, first: Did what that lawyer said have anything to do with my father?

And second: Will I be able to handle the answer?

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Last edited by Gajzla on Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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