Miki: Fragments (Complete)

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Gajzla
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.22 Posted 2nd July 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:18 pm

swampie2 wrote:I hadn't had a chance to dive into this fic until just now, but I'm enjoying the ride!

I look forward to the next chapter :)
Thanks! :D

Lovely to see a new reader. I worry that as the story gets longer it becomes more intimidating to dive into. :?

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swampie2
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.22 Posted 2nd July 2015)

Post by swampie2 » Fri Jul 03, 2015 4:24 pm

Gajzla wrote:
swampie2 wrote:I hadn't had a chance to dive into this fic until just now, but I'm enjoying the ride!

I look forward to the next chapter :)
Thanks! :D

Lovely to see a new reader. I worry that as the story gets longer it becomes more intimidating to dive into. :?
It definitely does, but I made my way through sisterhood's 60 odd chapters easily enough. As long as it's an interesting story then I don't mind a long read, and you've created a very interesting story. :lol:
One Shots - My stories thread.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.22 Posted 2nd July 2015)

Post by FISCHERWMT » Sat Jul 04, 2015 10:53 am

I am only to May 19th posting but have two comments:
1 You seem to be following the KS timeline however, Miki came in at the beginning of the school year.
2 Track meet comes up with no indication that she had actually joined the team.
3 I guess I'll add three. Things seem rushed.

All in all, I truly like what you are writing and expect to be up to date later today. The joy I believe you get from writing come through.

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Gajzla
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.22 Posted 2nd July 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Sat Jul 04, 2015 11:48 am

swampie2 wrote:As long as it's an interesting story then I don't mind a long read, and you've created a very interesting story. :lol:
Thanks! :D

---

Another new reader :D Welcome!
FISCHERWMT wrote:1 You seem to be following the KS timeline however, Miki came in at the beginning of the school year.
I’m not sure what you mean by this. I wasn’t able to find any solid source for when Miki started at Yamaku. So the beginning of second year seemed reasonable, I didn’t want her starting late in the year like Hisao because that’s a little cliche.
FISCHERWMT wrote:2 Track meet comes up with no indication that she had actually joined the team.
Thats true, my bad :cry: . It was implied in chapter 5, but I never explicitly wrote a scene with her joining up. I relied on people associating Miki with the track team if I’m honest. On the upside it’s something I can learn from so thats a positive. :)
FISCHERWMT wrote:3 I guess I'll add three. Things seem rushed.
That’s fair comment (particularly around the end of act 1). I’m always trying to make sure that whatever I write, even if its something very minor, moves the story on in some way. It’s good because it means that the plot is always moving forward and keeping peoples interest, however I appreciate that some people would like to see more of some characters. It’s a hard thing to balance. :?
FISCHERWMT wrote:The joy I believe you get from writing come through.
Thank you! I really do enjoy writing, I would do it even if no one ever saw it. So i’m very grateful for everyone who reads my story.

Cheers for the feedback.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.22 Posted 2nd July 2015)

Post by FISCHERWMT » Sat Jul 04, 2015 1:53 pm

Your Miki does start at the beginning of the year. But you jump into the festival and such on a timeline that seems to match coming to school mid-year as in the KS timeline.
I am now up to date in your story. I very much feel the upset and anger Mikh has from the phone call. Looking forward to the next chapters.
Keep up the good work.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.22 Posted 2nd July 2015)

Post by Oddball » Sat Jul 04, 2015 1:57 pm

Okay, so I haven't caught up completley with everything, but so far it's really good.

It's just a nice interesting story with some strong well defined characters. I have to compliment your originality. Miki's family, her dating a blind student, and having the story start before the third year are things you just don't seem much of. Good work there.

Also, for not automatically making Suzu the best friend and having Miki going around calling people “gaylord”.

Ayumu does strike me as somebody to watch though. It just feels like he's trying so hard to be completely fake. He's hiding something.

I'm also not quite sure why they felt the need to keep Miki from reading her fathers letters. I mean, I could understand if he had been some hardened criminal, but what he did was really more of an accident than anything.

The ghost story chapter I did like. It just felt somewhat off to suddenly have these other classmates appear and acting friendly and familiar with the others when there hadn't even been a mention of them before. A brief introduction wouldn't have hurt.

Miki insisting she share a bed with her boyfriend at her family's house and nobody really objecting is another thing that seemed to stress credibility. It got even worse when her mother gave her the condoms.
Not Dead Yet

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Gajzla
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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.22 Posted 2nd July 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:45 pm

Oddball wrote:The ghost story chapter I did like. It just felt somewhat off to suddenly have these other classmates appear and acting friendly and familiar with the others when there hadn't even been a mention of them before. A brief introduction wouldn't have hurt.
Thats a fair point. I swear that ghost story is going to haunt me. it wasn’t actually intended to fall into the story where it did, in fact when I wrote it I was unsure I would ever be able to use it. The classmates where added so it could stand alone as a one shot and not alienate people who have not read the story. However due to my confusing English and Japanese school years I ended up with a massive gap in the time line and given October was about halfway though it made sense to add it.

If I had a biggest rookie mistake - other than not getting a proofreader when I started out - that would be it. :?
Oddball wrote:Miki insisting she share a bed with her boyfriend at her family's house and nobody really objecting is another thing that seemed to stress credibility. It got even worse when her mother gave her the condoms.
So Miki’s mum, I have an explanation for why she acts the way she does. But I will put it in spoiler tags in case you wish to draw your own interpretations from the story.

She’s working off of the back of a whole shit ton of guilt. For years she wasn’t there for her daughter, lost to drink and depression. Even when Miki lost her hand she couldn’t break her patten of addiction. It’s one of the most overlooked aspects of depression and addiction in my opinion, it feeds it self. She has a drink, sobers up long enough to feel guilty for negating her daughter and the only answer she has is more drink.

Until the housekeeper comes along, someone who can play the role Miki never could and pull her away from the drink. Her husband returning also helped to keep her on the straight and narrow. However her guilt leaves her unable to say no to her daughter. The condoms are a mixed bag of wanting to protect Miki, while not standing in her way.


Thanks for reading and the feedback. :D

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.22 Posted 2nd July 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:07 pm

Glorious Victory (At last!)

“That was two seconds slower,” Ryouta calls, staring at his phone.

What? No that’s impossible.

“W… what?” I pant, hands on my knees, trying to force air into my protesting lungs. Step it up boys, I only need one of you… I think.

“Oh, no wait, it’s nought point two seconds slower.” Ryouta declares, with the air of someone who has just cracked an incredibly difficult riddle.

This is the fourth day in a row spent training for Sundays track meet, ignoring the captains imperative for a balanced approach. I’ve decided to beat Emi at all and any costs. To this end I must have run the four hundred metre sprint about fifty times, working to perfect every step from start to finish.

A pounding of feet draws my attention. Jogging up behind me, Hisao takes my lack of obvious activity as a signal to slow down. I don’t mind, the last thing I want is my, now official, running partner having a heart attack; again.

“Ever get the feeling your friends are idiots?” I ask, glancing to where Ryouta lays, his chubby face turned to the sky.

“N.. no comment,” he pants, following my gaze.

“The screen on this thing is hard to read. Anyway, you’re just grumpy that you were slower than last time.” Ryouta calls, not bothering to address us directly. Since his world-shattering revelation that he might still like Ikuno, as if that was a surprise, nothing has really happened between them. He seems to be waiting for something, but I have no idea what.

With a resigned sigh I trudge back to the starting line, a now familiar ritual. Beside me Hisao has managed to get his breathing back under control.

“I need to head off soon,” he says softly, as the wind whips up the trees into rustling around us. The sun is on its way to set, but for now the dimming blue sky is holding on, like some stranded survivor of a ship wreck.

“Student council again?” I ask, trying to act nonchalant, but having to look away to disguise my disappointment.

“Yeah, sorry.” He yawns into his hand, “We’re having to work like dogs to get everything ready for the track meet.”

“But, you’re still coming to watch on Sunday right?”

He nods, wiping his sweaty brow on the back of his hand. Over the last week he’s improved at a steady pace and seems to be enjoying running, or at least watching me stretch before we run. I’ve not yet decided.

“You’re coming out for lunch after, right?” I ask tentatively, he’s already said yes, but I can totally see Shizune conspiring to mess it up somehow. It’s not just paranoia, group work in class has developed into less of a cold war, and more a tug of war, using Hisao as the rope.

“Wouldn’t miss it, see you later Miki,” he smiles, a warm honest smile, before heading back to school and a pile of paperwork. Those two girls must be doing something very special to make that appealing.

Shaking the thought of Shizune and Misha waiting in their underwear for Haiso to save them from a mountain of budget reports. I take my place on the starter line, signalling to Ryouta that I’m ready. With sluggish motions he raises his stump, my whole body tenses as his thin extremity starts to fall.

I burst forward the moment his arm hits his knee, looking up to find the school bag that marks the midway point on the other side of the oval track. That is my goal, I will not stop until I reach it, nothing else matters.

About halfway down the track my limbs start to burn, ran ragged from days of steady abuse. I ignore them. Emi is right behind me I tell myself, she’s going to overtake, I have to go faster! Twenty meters to go. I can do this, nought point two seconds be damned. With a last heave of effort I throw my chest forward, crossing the line with my heart thundering in my ears.

That had to be faster!

Without even looking at Ryouta I fall onto my knees, before flipping onto my back, the cool ground feeling pleasantly squishy against my sweat soaked vest. The roaring in my ears starts to slowly ebb away as I stare at the infinite sky above me, I almost want to tell my friend to leave me, to let me enjoy this moment of joyous exhaustion.

“Are you dead?” Ryouta calls conversationally.

Sitting up I wince, the lactic acid not quite having deserted my legs yet. “Not yet; time?”

“Almost a second faster, so nearly as good as what you managed four days ago.” with exaggerated effort he gets to his feet. “Is getting progressively slower some kind of secret runner training method?”

“Gah!” I exclaim loudly, punching the astroturf in annoyance. It’s completely unfair, I mean yes I’m not really sleeping, with nightmares as confusing and unsettling as mine, not to mention a ghost hand, who could? At the mere thought my left hand starts to warm uncomfortably, clearly not to be outdone by the stinging in my fist. I just want to scream.

“Hey, you still with me?” Ryouta asks, suddenly very close.

Looking up I nearly knock my nose against his outstretched hand, offering me help up. “I’m fine, just don’t like getting worse at things.” Gladly I accept his help, rising to my feet. I will feel better after a hot shower and some food. I might even sleep tonight. Though I’m not counting on it.

“Well, I’m sure it will all pay off on Sunday right?”

I shrug unconvinced.

“I could always break her legs for you, if it helps?”

“She doesn’t have legs,” I grumble, feeling like I’m about to be pulled into one of his mad conversations. Yet, I feel unable, or perhaps unwilling, to do anything about it; at the very least it might cheer me up. Let’s see where this is going.

“She does, it’s just they're not always attached.”

“You know, in some social circles joking about damaging a crippled girls prosthetic legs would get you a lot of flack,” I say, as we head back to the dormitories side by side.

“Who said anything about joking?” He grins. “Anyway when it’s cripple vs. cripple it’s fair game.”

“Those are the rules, huh?”

“Yep, the unwritten ones, haven’t you ever read them?” His mock serious face cracks as I raise my eyebrow. Our laughter rings out through the grounds. It feels strangely cleansing.

“So,” Ryouta says, sidestepping a lost-looking first year. “Ikuno is definitely coming to lunch after the track meet?”

“Yeah, and so are you, don’t you dare try and wiggle out of this Ryouta Kuromizu, or so help me I’ll take the other hand,” I give him my best impression of a threatening look. Unknown to him this lunch date has been planned and re-planned about eight times at last count, Ikuno who has taken it upon herself to form a sort of nightly dream patrol, is using our time not sleeping to strategize. There have been military raids and bank heists with less organisation behind them.

“Of course I am, but you’ll be there right?”

“Well, given it’s supposed to be to celebrate my glorious victory I would hope so.”

“Oh good,” he says, stopping outside the boys dormitories, “I didn’t want it to just be me and Ikuno, not the first time we meet again.”

“What are you expecting me to do? You’re both adults aren’t you?”

“Moral support, it’s important.”

Giving him a despairing look I grin. Despite his claims of not needing anyone, Ryouta is just as anxious as his girlfriend. I suppose I’ve been the catalyst in their relationship, unintentionally of course. Would they have even got together without me? I don’t want to think about myself as being important in someone else’s life, but it seems unlikely they would have gone past being friends. Yet another reason I need to keep myself away from a cell.

“As long as you’re not expecting me to be there when you re-consummate this thing,” I grin, rocking back on the balls of my feet.

Ryouta’s eyes seem to become strangely glazed over, “hypothetically if I could get Ikuno on board-“

“No!” I laugh, giving him a light shove to get his mind out of the gutter.

“Right, right, fair enough, never hurts to check!” With a bright smile he starts to back peddle up the steps, “Goodnight Miki!”

“Night,” I call, as still grinning he walks into his dorm. For all his faults, I’m glad he turned around on that lonely hill.

— — —

“You better know what you’re doing.”

Growling by my ear the track captain sounds somewhat like a hive of angry bees, swerving away. I glower at him, and for a few intense moments we compete in a battle of wills, until he looks down. For all his endless prep talks and empty threats the captain really does have the best interests of the team at heart, unfortunately my one-sided vendetta against Emi rather screws with his plans.

“Fifth? How did you manage to do that badly, it’s like you weren’t even trying!” He says in a hushed whisper.

“I’m sorry, I will do better in the next race.” Without waiting for an answer I wander off to find a spot in the sparse shade. It’s noon, and the sun is high in the cloudless sky. Leaving the captain to grumble behind me I search the stands. Hisao, Ikuno and Ryouta should be in there somewhere, perhaps my grandfather as well, though I’ve not heard from him in months.

It’s a shame my parents couldn’t be here, I suppose, painful as it is to admit, I’ve always been envious of people who have their parents show up to stuff like school plays or sports days. The lack of support simply highlighted how different I was from classmates. Then again I never had a telling off in front of my whole class. Silver linings and all that.

Dad did phone this morning, and it was nice to hear his voice, as well as some long overdue encouragement. But I couldn’t help but be distracted by how fragile he sounded, or the way he simply trailed off, forgetting what he had said only a moment before. I think he’s sick. No. I know he’s sick, but he’s too stubborn to see a doctor, my merest suggestion would bring about an abrupt change in subject. I guess I might be overreacting, he’s behaving the exact way I would.

The roar of the crowd draws my attention, the boys must have just fished, and by the sound it secured another win for Yamaku. Getting unsteadily to my feet I start to head to the starting line, the girls’ four hundred meters is up next. I chance a sideways glance at the track captain, who gives me a stern, yet desperate look. This is his last chance for glory, same as mine.

Emi throws me a warm smile as we take our positions. Fidgeting I try and find a comfortable starting position, everything feels wrong, my clothes seem to dig into my flesh, and the sun burns unnaturally hot on my back. Relax, just relax. This must be how people who care about such things feel before a test, I need to win.

At least this time I don’t have to wear those damn shorts.

Even in my leggings I feel exposed, with my backside stuck in the air it’s hardly the most flattering of positions, I wonder if Hisao is watching? Despite everything my cheeks start to warm. Stupid mesmerising distraction.

“On your marks.”

I fix my eyes on the fluttering tape and beautifully, magically, the noise of the crowd dims around me. That is my goal..

“Get set!”

The sun glints off a raised starters pistol, somewhere in the void on either side of the track. I will not stop until I reach it…

“Go!”

Nothing else matters.

I launch off the mark, everything from the wind in my hair to the track beneath my feet feels perfect - like the world and I have come to a temporary understanding. Beside me Emi pours on the speed, the strange muffled clatter of her prosthetics against the track picking up a faster rhythm. One hundred meters down.

I slow, allowing Emi to move in beside me. Long experience has taught me her usual practice is to keep race pace until the very last stretch of track, then claim victory with a killer sprint. Not this time. Increasing my pace gradually we pass the two hundred metre mark. My opponent is like an atom bomb, ready to burst forth with energy. But here, mid race my longer legs have the advantage. All I need to do is have more energy left at the sprint than she does.

Side by side we burn past the three hundred meter mark, I have no idea how close any of our competitors are, they hardly seem to matter anymore. Twisting and turning less than a hundred meters in front of me, the white tape seems to glimmer, to my right the crowd builds up an excited crescendo. Wait for it, wait for it.

With a grunt Emi explodes into her sprint, but I’m ready, I feel a smile touch my face as I do the same. Throwing everything I have into my legs I burn away, all the pain, all the worry, everything; it doesn’t matter. Not here, not now. Emi is still behind, by the merest fraction. But it’s enough, I lunge towards the tape, feeling its tension hold me for less than a second before breaking through and sinking to my knees.

Heart beating rapidly I’m assaulted with a sudden wave of sound and colour as the world falls back around me, as if I’ve just pushed my head above the waters of a very deep ocean. I did it, I won. Beside me, Emi lays on her back, chest rising and falling, her eyes closed.

“G… good r… run,” I pant, my lungs screaming for air while my throat complains of dryness.

“Y.. yeah,” Emi says, similarly exhausted.

Rising to my feet I turn to the crowd, who reward me with a thunderous boom of applause, something really rather rare just happened, and the Yamaku students at least, know it. Lifting my arms above my head, so my stump is clearly on view, an action that would have made me feel sick a year ago, I drink in the cheers. I could get used to this.

Soon enough my moment is over, and I wander back to the rest of the track team with Emi, who’s almost subdued by her normal standards. At first I thought it was because she was in shock, the possibility that she could have lost rocking her to her core, but I don’t think thats the case. Every now and then she missteps, letting out the very tiniest gasp of pain, she’s injured something, and I hope it’s not because of me.

“Are you okay?” I ask, taking a sip from a refreshingly cool bottle of water.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She replies a little too quickly, “I’m still the fastest thing on no legs, you know!”

I shake my head, there's a running theme today of people being too stubborn to admit they're in pain. If we were better friends I would say something, insist she see the nurse, but that’s unlikely to go down well. I don’t know for sure, but I think she sees concern and pity in the same light. I just hope it didn’t effect her race either, selfish as it is, I hope I won fair and square.

“True,” I agree, meeting her eyes, “Most of the time anyway.”

“Awwww, thats so mean!” She giggles. Damn it, even after all this time, her pout is still adorable.

— — —

“You did well,” Hisao says, “Well, I mean, you did really well, uh.”

Ha, is he flustered?

“Thanks,” I reply, admiring for umpteenth time the shining gold medal I won today, it’s beautiful, even if it is a little lonely when compared to Emi’s chest full of ornaments. I noticed her silver was carefully hidden behind too golds, ha. Ahead of us on the smooth black road Ikuno and Ryouta stroll, an awkward distance between them. She throws me a small smile, that I return, trying to convey reassurance with a look.

“So, you look tired,” I say as way of conversation. It’s true, he has deep bags under his eyes, which are bloodshot making them appear even redder than normal. I can’t look much better. Sleep eludes me as much as anyone else, it’s just that Ikuno introduced me to the miracle of concealer. Not that I would ever wear makeup for a boy, but nothing’s stopping me using it for myself.

“I can’t sleep sometimes” he says, stifling a well timed yawn.

“And here was me thinking you were up all night dreaming about me,” I grin. A light gust flows up the baking road, a welcome relief in the mid-afternoon sun, it plays with my hair still damp from the shower; cooling my neck.

“There’s that too,” Hisao blushes.

Well it’s either a blush or the beginnings of heat stroke.

“Oh, I forgot to say, I joined the student council, but I made sure I’m free for our runs.” He smiles, as if this was a throwaway comment; small talk.

So, she won? I mean she has to have if he’s joined her stupid council, but then why is he with me today? So he doesn't lose his running partner, well I won’t be for much longer if he’s planning to hook up with that deaf bitch. Assuming it’s her he wants, I can’t see Misha getting a look in with that blue haired control freak running the show. Damn it!

“Right..” I say looking out over the hills so he can’t see the expression on my face, I can’t believe he would do this too me.

“Are you okay?” He asks, his voice edged with concern.

“Yeah, just didn’t realise you enjoyed the council so much.” I can feel my face burn, and it has nothing to do with the blazing sun.

“Well, it’s interesting most of the time, and gives me something to do right?” he sounds slightly confused, as if he wasn’t expecting this reaction?

“I guess,” I shrug as the road starts to level out. The town lies before us, sprawled at the bottom of the valley, like water pooled in a puddle. Looking like the front cover of a tourist handbook the settlement is a mix of old and new, with shopfronts artfully cut into the front of aged houses, their bright signs glimmering in the sunlight.

Beside me Hisao lets out an astonished breath, I can’t blame him, I normally only come here at night, when the town is asleep and you feel as if you are intruding on private property just walking to the convenience store. In the sunlight, with windows thrown wide, the town is the very image of a warm welcome.

However all of this seems to be lost on Ikuno and Ryouta, who have eyes only for each other. Ha, knew it wouldn’t take much to get them back together. The four of us stroll towards the shanghai, the small coffee shop popular with students and town residents alike. Luckily the Cafe is on the Yamaku end of town, not that being on the other side of town would have made for a much longer walk, but my legs are aching in protest at today's rough treatment.

A small bell dings cheerly above the door as we step into the Shangai, the cozy wood panelled booths the same as I remember them and a strong smell of coffee permeating the air, in my mind this is what France is like.

“Welcome to the Shangai!” The waitress bursts, shattering the serenity of the otherwise empty establishment, with a bow so low she just narrowly misses smashing her head on a table. What the hell?

“Afternoon Yuuko,” Hisao and Ikuno say in unison.

Wait. They know this flustered waitress?

Ryouta and I share a confused look, but follow our companions’ lead and smile politely.

“Sit wherever you like, I will be with you shortly, please!” Before anyone can answer she scampers to what I assume is the kitchen, I imagine to have some kind of panic attack.

“You know her?” I ask as we take our window seats, Hisao and I on one side of the table, the lovebirds on the other.

“Yeah? She’s works in the library at Yamaku,” Ikuno says as if it’s obvious.

“Oh,” I grin slightly as something clatters in the kitchen, “I don’t think I’ve seen her all the times I’ve been there.”

“How many times have you been there?” asks Ryouta, a smirk playing on his otherwise nervous face.

“Once,” I say with a smile.

“Miki!” Ikuno scolds, “You are meant to be taking final exams this year.”

“And…?”

“You should be utilising the school facilities, like Hisao and I.” She nods to Hisao who looks up quickly having been forced into the conversation.

Though not exactly friends, Ikuno and my distraction are on good terms, given the number of times I drag him into group work. I think she likes having someone who understands the subject matter as well as her, and I like being able to sneak answers off the two smartest people in class. Win, win.

“I like reading anyway,” Hisao says quickly, sitting up a little straighter, “But, if you want someone to study with... other than Ikuno, I mean.”

Again he blushes, and this time in the cool interior of the cafe it can’t be heat stroke, he’s definitely still interested. In what remains to be seen though.

“No, I-“ I begin to say, but a loud voice interrupts.

“What can I get for you? I’m sorry I forgot my apron, and when I was getting it I knocked everything flying, please don’t tell my manager!” Yuuko says in one long breath, standing before us rather pale. Her hair has escaped from the tight bun on her head. Not that I’ve ever had a job, but this one doesn’t seem like one that would cause this much stress.

Copying Ryouta’s order for tea and cake, out of compassion for Yuuko’s stress levels more than than actual desire. Though I can’t say i’ve ever had a day become worse because I ate cake, so it’s hardly a hardship.

With our haphazard waitress dispatched I return to Hisao, “Sorry, I was going to say I don’t have anyone to study with.”

Across the table Ikuno throws me a fierce look. Oh come Ikuno, you know you're always the study buddy for me, but this is Hisao. Seeming to realise what I’m up to she shakes her head and returns to her discussion with Ryouta; apparently in their separation they have fallen behind in the world of English television and cinema.

“It’s no problem if you want to study with me, I mean I’m going to be doing it anyway,” Hisao smiles softly, “I owe you right?”

I think I owe him for all his fine distracting work, but best not give him an unnecessary upper hand if I can avoid it.

“Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but some homework help might be useful. I have a feeling my friend is going to be distracted.” I point with my thumb over to Ryouta and Ikuno, who are feeding each other cake and staring deep into each others eyes. Hisao and I share a raised eyebrow, before turning to our own plates of cake.

“We can do that,” Hisao nods, wiping at his face with a napkin. “What subjects are you have problems with?”

All of them.

“Maths and science mostly,” I say, using a truly monumental level of self control to take a lady like bite of moist fluffy cake.

“Those I can definitely help with, hmmm.” He takes another mouthful of cake, chewing thoughtfully, “I may have to figure it out with Shizune, but I think I can help you on the days when you don’t have a track club meeting, or doctor's appointment.”

He can’t honestly believe I see a hand doctor can he? I doubt it. But I appreciate the respect for my privacy; patient-patient confidentiality is the best way to describe it.

“That should be okay,” I say softly trying not to be too distraught at the sudden realisation of how much extra school work I’m letting myself into. And I won’t be able to guess my way through it like I normally do, I’m going to have to put the effort in. I can’t have Hisao thinking I’m a total idiot.

“We run straight after right?” I ask.

“Of course,” he laughs, his lips curling into a soft smile, “Seems like we are going to be spending a lot of time together.”

“Well, we can invite the lovebirds as well,” I blush nodding towards Ryouta and Ikuno, whose heads are so close I’m surprised their hair hasn’t knotted together. I knew, or at least I hoped it wouldn’t take much to get them back together. Though I have a bad feeling that unless they can learn to properly communicate history is bound to repeat itself.

Hisao nods, taking another small bite of cake. Does he always eat like this? Why have I never watched him eat before? Because if he’s making an effort for me, that means something right?

“I don’t mind if it’s just you and me,” Hisao says, his cheeks redding. “I mean,” he hesitates, “If the others are busy.”

I bob my head in acknowledgement, a mouth full of cake and a million thoughts flying around my head. Is he saying that he wants to spend time with me? Or is it all innocent and I’m just rushing to conclusions?

By some kind of strange mutual agreement we return to comfortable silence and what remains of our cake. Ikuno and Ryouta completely oblivious to what did - or possibly didn’t - just happen.

My two friends seem back on track and I finally beat Emi, but Shizune’s war is far from over and the allegiance of the boy sitting next to me is more of a mystery than ever.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.23 Posted 13th July 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:40 pm

So, I really really like this chapter, it was a ton of fun to write. Now all I can do is hope everyone else likes it as much as I do. feedback is as always greatly appreciated.

Thanks again to Mirage for his excellent proofreading skills.

Enjoy!


Defeat?

“Morning,” I yawn, falling into step beside Hisao, who is both more awake and decidedly more punctual than I am. In my defence I’m still not sleeping properly and with Ikuno spending so much time with Ryouta after school hours, I’m trapped all alone at night.

I could invite Hisao over for a perfectly innocent sleepover?

“You’re late again,” he says, raising an eyebrow as he checks the time on his phone.

“S… sorry,” I yawn, doing a reasonable impression of Suzu. “I bet you’re one of these people who are really cheerful in the mornings.”

We join the stream of people winding their way through the already warm morning air to the main building, it’s been unbearably hot the last few days, summer - a distant dream at the start of the year - is now well and truly upon us.

“I try to be cheerful all the time,” Hisao says, hoisting his satchel a little higher onto his shoulder. “But to be honest I didn’t sleep well last night... It’s too hot.”

How Ryouta and Ikuno are managing to share a bed I have no idea, mine is so hot and sticky that I’m tempted some nights to go and sleep under a cool shower; I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea. But knowing my luck I would drown halfway through the night.

“Well, join the club.” I grimace.

“Well I’m already an honorary member of the anti feminist defence league or whatever it is.”

Oh goodie, another hallmate story. With Ikuno distracted by her boyfriend for the past week I’ve been walking to school with Hisao. I still have no idea how she manages to sneak out of the boys dorms and beat me to class. Normally our morning walks involve him regaling me with funny tales of his apparently mad hallmate, though this morning his voice is tinged with frustration.

“What’s he done this time?” I ask innocently, as if I really don’t care if he tells me or not. Though I think he sees right through me.

“He went on a secret supply run,” he groans, “At four in the mourning.”

“Well, it’s hardly secret if you do it mid-afternoon,” I say reasonably.

“It was hardly top secret after his bag split and he woke me up to help him clear up.”

I start to chuckle, “Well, at least he trusts you with his important secrets.”

“I wish he wouldn’t,” my running partner complains

We cut across the yellowing grass making straight for the main building. It’s amazing how much I’ve started to take its unique western style for granted; there’s probably nowhere else like Yamaku in the whole of Japan.

“You know,” I say as we step into the lobby, sunlit and clinically clean as always, “I want to meet this hallmate of yours, he sounds fun.”

“Firstly,” Hiaso replies, wary of the hurrying crowd. “He is not mine, and secondly he might not leave his room for weeks if he finds out I hang around with a girl.”

“So I’m just some girl am I?” I gasp, in mock outrage as we hit the stairs.

“You’re one of them,” he says without batting an eyelid. Well played Hisao, well played.

“Well, just remember which of your female admirers is going to run you into the ground.”

He snorts in laughter, the change in his demeanour seems to have happened as subtly as the seasons, yet with no less drastic results. Though still prone to bouts of dreamy middle distance staring he’s started to care, to take interest in school and the people who inhabit it. It would be childish of me to claim full credit - I’m happy with eighty percent.

“I just hope you remember who’s tutoring you,’ he grins as we slowly wander up the next flight. Even here he’s improving. Before he would be red faced and wheezing, now he takes the stairs in his stride.

“If you ever escape the student council.” I try and keep the annoyance out of my voice, I’m not sure it worked.

“Yeah, sorry about that, I hope things quiet down soon,” he grimaces, “Ikuno being away so much doesn’t help.”

Can’t say that I blame her, I would take Ryouta over Shizune any day of the week.

I shrug, “She will be back when she’s ready.”

Ikuno is in her seat when we enter the classroom, already feeling stuffy despite the windows being thrown wide open; the heat today is going to be murderous.

I say my farewells to Hisao. Regardless of the fact we are in the same class, once he’s with Shizune she will cling on to him for as long as she can. We share a contemptuous look across the heads of our classmates, before I drop down at my desk, very purposely showing her my back.

“She’s not so bad you know,” Ikuno observes, looking up from her open textbook. Studying before a teacher has even arrived has to be some kind of crime.

“Have you seen the way she looks at me?” I ask, folding my arms on the desk to form a makeshift pillow.

“You mean the same way you look at her?” My best friend grins, marking her place and closing the book.

“Yeah, well, she started it.”

We both share a laugh. It’s great to see her so happy again, even if it’s at the expense of her company. Though, I can’t imagine I’m the most attentive friend at the moment. I like Hisao, I like him enough for something more than friendship. The problem is how to tell him.

Before I can think any more on the subject, Miss Mizushima walks into the room, her high heels clicking on the hard wooden floor. Gah, maths first thing, now that has to be against the law. Unfortunately unlike dreamy Mutou our mathematics teacher is keen and alert - a downside if you want to try and hold a conversation.

Still, no harm in trying.

— — —

“I can’t believe she kept me behind!” I complain, sitting down beneath the pastel green leaves of my favourite tree, it’s still unbearably hot despite the shade the branches provide.

“Well you had it coming to be fair.”

“I agree,” adds Ryouta, his arms wrapped around Ikuno, as they nestle in my spot against the trunk. How those two can cuddle in this heat staggers me, then again I suppose they are used to being hot and sticky at night. No, dirty mind, stop that.

“You weren’t even there,” I grumble, loosening my tie and undoing the top few buttons of my shirt, not an altogether easy operation with one hand.

“It’s not hard to imagine you as a troublemaker Miki,” Ryouta grins, “That and my sweetie told me.”

“Your what?” I glower at the pair of them, pet names? Really?

“Ryouta!” Ikuno squeals, her cheeks reddening. I’ve made an awful mistake, these two being depressed was far less cringe worthy. At least he’s not started calling her Ikuchan.

“Sorry Miki, my loudmouth boyfriend was just leaving to get us lunch,” she wiggles forward, waiting for him to extricate himself from behind her.

“I was?” He asks, getting confusedly to his feet.

“Yes, now shoo and don’t come back until you find us something tasty!” Ikuno giggles, winking at me as without complaint Ryouta trudges toward the cafeteria. I feel a little bad making a one armed boy fetch three lunches, but then I remember who that boy is and suddenly I’m fine with it.

“So, when’s he meeting the parents?” I ask, vamoosing Ikuno from my spot.

Far from complaining, she just sits cross legged in the hot grass, awkwardly quiet. Oh what on earth has she done now. How can one of the smartest people I know give off the constant impression she has no clue what she’s doing?

“Please tell me you’ve at least told him they want to meet him?” I plead exasperatedly.

“I want to, I do,” she replies defensively. “It’s just I have no idea how to set up a meeting that isn't going to be super awkward.”

Just have your boyfriend show up uninvited at your parents house and insist you share a bed, worked for me.

“Hmm, how well did not telling him go last time?”

“I know, I know,” she sighs, slackening the black ribbon around her neck and loosening her collar. Her face is red, though from heat or embarrassment I can’t be sure.

“Can’t you just invite him over sometime during summer?” I ask, picking at my bandages. In this heat it feels like wearing a woollen sock on my stump, making the skin itchy and uncomfortable. I suppose I could go without them, but that’s a scary thought and not a welcome one in a head already full of worry.

“Just tell him you want to show him your pony or something,” I grin, a thought suddenly springing to the forefront of my mind, “You could get an extra one for him, then go on romantic pony rides on the beach.”

“Miki, you’re a genius” Ikuno cries excitedly.

“I know,” I grin, “You could call them moon and stars, or magic and mischief, those are good pony names.”

“No, not with the ponies,” she scoffs, “About Ryouta and summer.”

An image of the two of them spending the summer in one of her family's opulent homes flashes across my mind, sending a bolt of jealousy to stab at my gut, which is ridiculous given I suggested it. I guess I just don’t want to lose her, not on top of Ayumu.

“So when are you asking Hisao out?” She asks conversationally, withdrawing the small black case containing her blood test supplies, from her satchel.

“How did you know about that?” I sit up a little straighter, trying to give off the impression that this is a throwaway question of no real significance; judging by her smile I don’t think its working.

“Ryouta told me,” she replies simply.

“Oh.” I try and think back to the clearing in the woods, the day after the disastrous festival, I wonder if he told her everything that was said across the silver flowers.

“Did he say anything else?” I ask.

Ikuno focusses an undue amount of attention on her blood sampling device, her cheeks reddening slightly. “He said you told him I loved him,” she says softly.

I gulp. Okay, well if she was mad about this she would have said something before right? Either that or she’s been sitting on it, waiting for the perfect moment to rip the rug out from under my feet. Who could blame her. I bite my bottom lip, trying desperately to find the appropriate response.

“I’m sorry?” I try tentatively.

Ikuno nods thoughtfully, though whether it’s at the result on her device or my statement its hard to tell. “I’m glad you told him, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to tell him myself.”

“I’m sure you would have…” trailing off before I dig a hole I might not be able to climb out of, “I’m not sure I have the courage to ask Hisao,” I admit.

“You asked Ayumu though?”

“Well, yeah,” I wince, his name stings, “But that was before Ayumu.”

I don’t think I could survive another betrayal like that, as pathetically melodramatic as that sounds. His actions should be secondary to the death I caused, but the accident seems so far away, half healed and faded; Ayumu feels more real. Am I a bad person for feeling this way? I would be deceiving myself if I said no.

“It will be okay Miki, Hisao’s sweet and you’ll be leaving school together this time right?”

“Right, I guess, it’s just-“

“Food time!” Ryouta cuts me off, carrying a staggering variety of drinks and snacks in his mismatched arms. I don’t think any of it really counts as food, but it looks tasty.

“So,” he says, sitting down on the grass with the grace of a baby elephant, “What were you girls talking about?”

“Oh nothing,” Ikuno and I say together, bursting into giggles as we tuck in to our lunchtime feast.

— — —

“You’re getting better,” I say as Hisao and I complete our sixth lap under the sinking sun, we don’t normally run this late, but Hisao had student council business; I would be lying if I said the time spent waiting for his text didn’t drag.

“T.. thanks,” he pants, his cheeks flushed.

“Think you can handle two more laps?” I ask with a grin, not yet out of breath.

He nods in return, putting on a small burst of speed that I’m quick to catch up with.

I’m surprised by how much I enjoy running with him, far from being a burden his presence has made me more committed than ever to keeping up a steady routine and being able to see his improvement with each passing day is its own reward. This is something I never could have shared with Ayumu.

“One more to go!” I announce as our shoes thud across the astroturf, the only sound in the still air.

Despite the scare from our first run his heart hasn’t given him any problems, something i’m immensely grateful for. Even with the first aid book Dr Udea lent me, i’m not sure I could handle that situation. Plus mouth to mouth recitation is scarily close to kissing.

Hisao cheers as we cross the line, perhaps a little sarcastically, but hey this is the first time he has run six laps; so it might be genuine.

“Right, sprint time”, I say, as he slows to a walk. He goes to say something, but the sudden rush of being able to throw everything into the simple act of moving forward renders me oblivious.

It’s nice to let go.

I don’t know if he can perceive a difference between when I run at his pace and when I truly let go, I kinda hope he does. I don’t think I mind him seeing all of me. Though I doubt he would understand, the only one who might is Emi - and even that's only a suspicion.

After a few hard sprints I slow to walking pace beside him, breathing hard but with a grin plastered all over my reddened face, my joy seems to be infectious, because he grins too.

“Have fun?” He asks.

“A… always!” I wheeze.

We walk in a comfortable silence, interrupted only occasionally by bursts of birdsong. I wish we had more interesting birds than pigeons at home.

“Did you hear what I said before?” Hiaso asks, his face falling slightly.

“That you can’t wait to have a shower then come hang out with us for movie night?” I ask hopefully, guessing this probably isn’t the answer. Our plans for movie night were far from concrete, I asked him on the spur of the moment at the end of class, but he wouldn’t turn a sweaty girl down right?

I mean, what could be more fun than sitting in a hot dark room watching some awful American action movie with a girl who secretly likes you?

“I would if I could, but Shizune says she needs me back at the student council, we have a lot on.”

“Oh,” I say, crestfallen. If he had homework that would have been fine, hell even if he just wanted to get an early night that's understandable. But to go back to that bitch time and time again, he must be going out with her, she must have already asked him. And I bet he said yes, or wrote it down at least, the bastard.

My heart starts to thunder in my chest, screw him if it’s her he wants, it’s her he gets.

“Fine,” I snap, starting to walk away at a brisk pace. I’m an idiot, my only boyfriend was blind, that should have told me something.

“Hey!” he calls after me, and I hear his trainers in the grass as he runs to keep up, “What’s your problem?” he demands, just feet behind me, his voice heavy with sudden frustration.

“Nothing,” I grunt, not slowing down.

“Stop!” He grabs my arm, spinning me around to face him, his face flushed and his eyes wide. “What the hell did I do?”

“Nothing,” I insist, wishing I could just teleport back to my room and not have to deal with any of this.

“Then why the heck are you acting like this?” There’s a note of desperation in his voice. How can he not understand what’s going on here?

“Because I like you!” I shout.

The hand gripping my upper arm relaxes a little, but he still looks very confused, like a deer caught in a headlight not quite able to comprehend what's going to happen next.

“I like you too?” he says startled, “We’re friends aren’t we?”

“No, you idiot, I like you like you, like I want to be with you like you!” I’m not sure if what I just said made sense, it seems so obvious to me, but he acts like he hasn’t got a clue.

His eyes grow nearly as wide as Ikuno’s, “Really?”

“Yeah,” I say forlornly; defeat in my voice.

“Oh,” he blushes a little, “I like you too, like, well like that.”

He does? Ah, but there’s always a but.

“But,” I say, feeling the corners of my eyes growing wet, “Shizune asked you first, and now you’re with her”

“What?” he lets go of my arm, taking a step back in shock. “No, I’m not with anyone like that.”

He’s not?

“But I thought, you spend so much time with her?”

“I’m on the council, I kind of have to spend a lot of time with her!” he cries exasperatedly.

“So…” I trail off biting my lip, “Would you like to, you know, with me?”

He rubs the back of his neck with his hand, his cheeks becoming almost the same shade as his chestnut eyes, “I, yeah, yeah I would.”

It’s hardly the most romantic beginning to a relationship, but then when is life ever perfect?

“What do we do now?” I ask awkwardly.

“A date?” he suggests meekly, rubbing his chest absentmindedly. Oh please don’t die on me right now.

“Are you okay?” I ask, taking a worried step forward.

“Oh, yeah I’m fine, just gotta a little worked up I suppose,” a pair of dimples appear as he smiles warmly, “Nothing to worry about.”

I wonder if he would tell me the truth? I know from personal experience the truth about ourselves is sometimes hard to face and even harder to express; but that doesn’t matter now, he’s mine, I’ve won, we can sort out the facts about ourselves later.

“Does Saturday night work for you?” Hisao asks, his voice snapping me back to the track.

“Huh?” I say dazedly. Normal people can think without getting distracted by it right?

“For a date? Does Saturday work?” He’s still rubbing his chest, but it seems to more out of habit than pain.

“Sure,” I say happily, “Sorry, sometimes I kind of get lost in my own head, I’m a little crazy.”

Putting his hands on his hips he laughs, causing a fresh wave of heat to my cheeks.

“It’s okay, I do that too sometimes and,” he smirks, “I like crazy.”

With our plans settled we walk together under the last moments of the glorious summer sun, what surprises me is how little things have changed, we still laugh and joke like we always have. But now it’s somehow freer, innocent, not some carefully laid game of find the subtext.

I like him, and now I know, he likes me.

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Last edited by Gajzla on Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:39 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.24 Posted 20th July 2015)

Post by Hesmiyu » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:36 pm

I'm no longer a lurker!

I like this chapter mainly because it made me smile :P. Good job on it. I would say more but no ides what to type.
The line below is false.
The line above is true.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.24 Posted 20th July 2015)

Post by swampie2 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 3:35 pm

This is exactly how I imagine Miki wound confess.

Great job!
One Shots - My stories thread.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.24 Posted 20th July 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:43 pm

Hesmiyu wrote:I'm no longer a lurker!
Hehe, well I love all the lurkers that follow this story (Here and on Fanfiction.net), but I always enjoy seeing new comments. :)
Hesmiyu wrote:I like this chapter mainly because it made me smile :P.
I can’t ask much more from my writing than to make people smile. :D
swampie2 wrote:This is exactly how I imagine Miki wound confess.

Great job!
Thanks, that scene was really fun to write so i’m happy people enjoyed it.

Now if I could just get chapters out as fast as you do… 8)

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.24 Posted 20th July 2015)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:46 pm

I wouldn't be able to keep up with proofreading :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.24 Posted 20th July 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:49 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:I wouldn't be able to keep up with proofreading :-)
Hehe, imagine how many British sayings you would have to decode with a chapter a day!

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Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.24 Posted 20th July 2015)

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:59 am

I agree with the former lurker, this chapter made me smile too. Ryuto and Ikuno being adorable was great, and I've always loved confession scenes, and this one was particularly well done. It fits Miki perfectly.
Best girl
Hanako=Shizune>Misha>Lilly>Rin>Emi

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Hanako>Lilly>Rin>Emi>Shizune

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