The First Week –A Soon-hee Story Conclusion Update!

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Hoitash
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/03)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:06 am

Research, don’t fail me now… wait, why is it glowing… No… NO! PUT THE COOKIE DOWN!

…Stupid monkey. Now I need a new lab assistant. Anyway, chapter time:

Previous Chapter

Chapter Six: A Few Good Men


One of the benefits of preferring the indoors is that I have rat-like navigational skills when it comes to halls and corridors. I can find the quickest route from point A to point B with little difficulty, and thanks to my well trained hearing can even hear people coming from other halls. Paranoid, yes. Some habits are harder to break than others.

The benefit here is that I not only manage to quickly find the auxiliary gym, I also find a well stocked vending machine where I can grab a quick snack on the way.

I roam like a rat, act like a beaten dog, eat like a shrew, and think like a stray cat. I need some better animal analogies. Maybe the lamb thing. Although sheep are pretty dumb. A domesticated badger, maybe. TR’s badger.

Auxiliary Gym B is at the end of the administrative/medical building, which puts it a fair distance from the main gymnasium but close to the nursing staff. Its proximity to the attachment between the school and the administrative building is part of the reason I was able to get here so fast.

The halls near the auxiliary gym are simple and beige, both in color and atmosphere. All the athletic awards and placards are kept by the main gym in cases, regardless of where the club in question actually meets. Probably some sort of organization thing. At any rate, the door to Gym B is the color of light wood, but looks plastic. It’s open a crack, so, documents in hand, I take off my shoes, gently push the door open, and step inside.

The gym is pretty small, with a polished wooden floor that’s half covered with mats. The portion with mats has exercise equipment on it; I guess the mats are to prevent scuffing. There are three doors on the far side of the room, two for restrooms and showers, and one for storage, according to the signs above each door. The open storage room has a wood placard taped above the plaque stating it’s also the office for the Judo Club. The gym’s abandoned, but from the storage/office room I can hear the faint sounds of chatter. With my shoes in my right hand and my papers in my left, I wiggle my toes a bit to enjoy the wood floor before heading across the gym.

I stop in front of the storage room door and poke my head in. Shelves with spare parts and equipment stand next to an old metal coat rack and some boxes. Shoved into the right end of the room is a small, rickety desk made from four milk crates and a plywood board. Three folding chairs –one behind the desk and one on either side- are occupied. The three students are talking to each other, and don’t notice me until I gently rap on the open door to get their attention.

The three glance my way and I nearly flinch back from so many eyes diverting towards me at the same time, but I stop myself and hold my ground. They’re wearing their Yamaku uniforms and also have their shoes off, too. The one behind the desk is a well built young man with short brown hair and pale amber eyes. To his right is another young man, with slightly long black hair and light brown eyes behind a pair of rounded glasses. He has the faint traces of a mustache above his lip, and is tapping away at a tablet with his left hand, while it sits somewhat awkwardly on his right. To my right is a girl that I quickly realize could be a problem for me, through absolutely no fault of her own.

She has short black hair, though it’s longer than mine, and her left eye is dark brown. Her right eye is a milky gray, and along the right side of her face, from below her ear to above her nose, is a large, jagged scar that looks like someone cut her face with a large shard of glass.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen that look, and it’s not one I want to see again.

Still, it’s not her fault, so I force myself to focus on the guy behind the desk, since presumably he’s the club captain.

“Hello?” he asks. His feet, formerly resting on his pitiful excuse for a desk, drop to the floor as he leans forward to try and see me, “You here to apply for the Judo Club?”

No, I was on my way to the store for milk and got lost.

“Yes,” I reply.

Keeping my eyes averted from the girl, I step into the room to stand in front of the desk. Bowing to the young man behind it, I say, “I’m Soon-hee Kim, and I’m interested in joining the Judo Club.”

Obviously.

The guy grins, “I figured. Soon-hee….”

He looks me up and down, and the hairs on my neck stand up. I know why he’s doing it, but I still don’t like it.

Either done with his assessment or realizing he’s making me uncomfortable, the guy stops his elevator eyes and says, “Nurse said you’d be coming by –he always lets us know when someone interested in joining has passed a physical,” frowning suddenly, he grumbles, “Even if they shouldn’t.”

The other guy sighs, “You really need to move on from that.”

The guy behind the desk glances at his comrade, but says nothing. Instead he looks up at me and smiles, “Sorry, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Hachi Inada, the club Captain,” spreading his arms over the piece of board, he remarks, “Which you probably guessed from my incredibly fancy, trophy laden desk.”

I nod, “I did like the first place awards from 2015.”

Captain Inada blinks a few times, before he realizes I’m referring to the awards kept in cases by the main gymnasium, “Oh, yeah, when we recovered from getting screwed over by kendo club. So you’ve seen how’ve we’ve done over the years, cool. Oh, I should introduce the rest of the club.”

Wait, there’s only three of you?

Captain Inada gestures to his right at the other guy, “This is our Vice Captain-”

Temporary Vice Captain,” the guy interrupts. Finally looking up from his tablet, he adds, “I only have the job because Midders refuses to do it.”

“The job sucks and you know it,” the girl remarks.

“Without a second year in the position the entire future of the club is in jeopardy,” he retorts.

“Ahem,” the Captain grunts.

The two stop talking and roll their eyes, as if the Captain was the rude one for interrupting their interruption.

“As I was saying,” Captain Inada continues, “this is Temporary Vice Captain Ataru Mizukami, class 3-4, same as me.”

I bow to Mizukami, and he waves his free hand to acknowledge me, his eyes now returned to his tablet.

“I’m Midori Shibasaki,” the girl says, smiling and waving, “Class 2-2.”

I give her a respectful nod, keeping my attention focused on the Captain, who doesn’t seem to mind that Shibasaki introduced herself.

“And that’s the club, well not counting the three freshman applicants-”

“Four,” Mizukami interjects.

Captain Inada rolls his eyes, “We’re not having this conversation again.”

“He has a magnet.”

“And you have a big mouth,” The Captain sighs and rubs his temples with his hands, “I need a paper fan for you two, or maybe a rolled up newspaper.”

Mizukami glances up at me, “As you can see, we’re a highly professional and well disciplined club.”

“I noticed,” I said.

Mizukami smirks at my deadpan response, “I like her.”

The Captain rolls his eyes, looks up at me, and continues, “As I was saying, counting the freshman applicants and you would get us up to seven, maybe eight, if they all pass muster. Speaking of, can I have your application?”

“Sorry,” I say, and hand him my papers.

The Captain opens the letters carefully. He glances at the medical approval form long enough to confirm I’m approved before setting it on the desk. He glances over my application before setting it down, and blinks at the recommendation form from my physical therapist. This he carefully reads over, and even starts saying some of it aloud –just the high points, fortunately.

“…Main focus is throwing techniques, foot and leg standing, though also versed in rear sacrifice… striking technique forms, improvised weapon training, left handed…”

“Sweet,” Shibasaki says, “We could use a good thrower.”

“And another lefty,” Mizukami says, “Although for me it’s more by default than choice. Does she have a belt grade?”

“…Fourth student,” Captain Inada replies, glancing up at me as he states, “Impressive, considering your lackluster technique and limited training.”

My physical therapist once likened my technique as the equivalent of swatting a fly with a twenty pound sledgehammer. Which I consider a compliment, but it won’t win me any competitions. Not that that was the point when I started learning. Still, I enjoy the exercise and training, and seeing my work pay off helps my fragile sense of self-worth.

The beaten dog in me, I guess.

“Technique is overrated anyway,” Shibasaki states, “Results are what matter.”

Mizukami rolls his eyes, “Says the grappler.”

Ignoring the two’s banter, the Captain sets down the paper from my physical therapist to look at me, “You’re in, Kim.”

That was easy.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Shibasaki grin, “Welcome to the madhouse.”

I smile and bow to the Captain, “Thank you. Though I’m not very skilled in technique, I won’t disappoint you.”

The Captain grins and nods, “Good to hear. Our first official meeting is Wednesday, so we can get you a uniform if you don’t already have one.”

“I do.”

The Captain’s grin widens, “Figured. You can keep your belt color, and after the first day the gym is yours to practice with as you see fit, as long as another club or physical therapist isn’t using it.”

“Not usually an issue,” Mizukami says, “We may have a small gym, but it’s pretty much ours exclusively thanks to some good old-fashioned politics.”

I nod, “Understood. I won’t let you down.”

The Captain nods, “I should hope not. The bell’s gonna ring soon, so you better head off to class. Welcome aboard and see you Wednesday.”

“Although,” Shibasaki says, “if you wanna come by and have lunch with us tomorrow, that’d be cool.”

I chance a glance towards Shibasaki, “Thanks for the offer… I’ll consider it.”

Not that I want to be rude, but I am a new member, after all, and being around her is making me fidgety. Fortunately none of them are watching my toes.

I give a quick bow to all three of them and exit the room. I didn’t expect to be rejected, but the ease of my acceptance caught me a bit off guard. Then again, if they're that low on membership, even someone with my limited training would be an asset.

The only reason I’m ranked fourth is because of my variety of techniques. Well, at least I won’t make a complete fool of myself.

Speaking of, my next class is science, and as I leave the gym I hear the warning bell toll. Picking up my pace, I make my way as quickly as school rules allow back to my classroom. I’m so focused on getting back on time, I don’t realize I’m not wearing my shoes until I get outside.

But when I came to man's estate /With hey, ho, the wind and the rain /'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate /For the rain, it raineth every day.

+++
Next Chapter

Soon-hee prefers the ability to down her opponent Arkham style as opposed to winning points for form.

She’s not big on shoes, either, as you might’ve noticed.
Last edited by Hoitash on Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/03)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:55 pm

I have rat-like navigational skills when it comes to halls and corridors
It took me a while to process that one, but it was good :-)
and don’t notice me until I gently wrap on the open door to get their attention.
rap
if there that low on membership
they're
Remind me again of her problem with scars? She didn't mind Hanako's.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/03)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 03, 2015 4:54 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
I have rat-like navigational skills when it comes to halls and corridors
It took me a while to process that one, but it was good :-)
Thank you :).
edits
Thanks. Stupid there....
Remind me again of her problem with scars? She didn't mind Hanako's.
Well, Soon-hee used to... "live" with a violent gang, so it stands to reason to me that at least one of them would be missing an eye via knife wound. Seeing such a wound again would probably remind Soon-hee of that gang (the Them she refers to with a capitol letter.) Hanako's scars are burn scars, and thus don't count.

This is admittedly an extremely vague reference, but since the narrator is Soon-hee, it seemed incredibly out of character for her to explain it, since she doesn't even talk about it in her own pov stories.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/10)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:50 am

And now, the obligatory library scene.

At least Soon-hee won’t get lost in it.

Previous Chapter

Chapter Seven: Long Live Dewey


I do manage to get to class in time, with my shoes on, which is kind of ironic in a weird way. Speaking of weird, the science teacher, Mutou-sensei, creeps me out a bit. It’s not that he’s creepy, but his haggard appearance reminds me of some of the less stable patients at the psych ward. He also has a rambling, disjointed method of teaching. Still, he doesn’t set the hairs on my neck off, and he knows his subject well. He just seems to have a hard time conveying that knowledge. Hopefully someone is class can figure it out, or we’re all in trouble.

My last class today is an elective called Studies in Foreign Literature. It’s a relatively recent addition to the curriculum to make things easier for the book club, which apparently tends to be really popular. It was either this or Home Ec, and I have a temporary exemption for that class. I could have taken music or JSL, but I like to read, so a class where we talk about stuff I’ve probably already read made sense to me.

Since it’s an elective, I actually have to go to a different class for once. The class meets next door in 2-4 at this hour, and gives me a slightly broader insight into the student body. The class has twenty desks, five of which don’t have chairs, and by the time class begins, every seat is full.

It turns out Mrs. Hoshizora is the teacher for this class, although she seems a bit less stuck up this time around. The first thing we do as a class is introduce ourselves and say our favorite genres of literature, foreign or otherwise. I have a pretty eclectic mix of likes, and thought it was kind of weird. A lot of the other students have a varied mix, too, though, so I guess I’m in good company.

Once everyone rattles off their favorite genres or authors, we get on with the lesson. This class has more student involvement than your average class, which can make things awkward for the more introverted students like myself. Still, it’s a subject I like and a teacher who seems to like my work, so all in all I’d call it a win. After the class ends I head back to my class to see if I’m cleaning duty, but I seem to be exempt today, so the rest of the day is mine to do with as I please.

Since dinner isn’t for a few hours, and I have nothing better to do, I figure I may as well go to the library. Ideally I prefer to buy my books, but I only have so much money and room, and I don’t like ebooks. I do like libraries, though.

Probably the rat in me.

Getting to the library is easy enough, and once I’m inside I’m immediately assaulted by the quiet aura that seems unique to libraries. Maybe it’s the layout of the shelves, or the carpeting and curtains absorbing sound, but the way the forced murmur of activity hovers right below the silence is just so… right.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a readily available map of the library, so I’m going to have to ask the librarian for help if I don’t want to just stumble around looking for books. Which isn’t a bad idea, but I’d prefer to know where I’m going first if I can help it.

The librarian, sitting at her desk by the main doors, is an older woman with greying hair tied up in a bun. She’s absorbed in a crossword puzzle from a magazine, so doesn’t notice my approach. To get her attention, I lightly tap the desk with my fingernail.

The librarian looks up at me, looking confused at the interruption. After blinking slowly a few times, she smiles and closes the magazine.

“How may I help you?” she asks.

Her voice is quiet, obviously, but has a practiced diction to it that makes it easy to hear regardless.

“Um, I wanted to get some books,” no shit Sherlock –sorry, please pardon my language, “but I’m not quite sure where to look.”

The librarian doesn’t seem phased by my idiocy. Still smiling, she nods slowly and says, “I understand. The library gets remodeled and shifted around so much, even I get confused sometimes. Did you have anything specific you were looking for?”

“I’m not sure, actually. Sorry.”

I probably should’ve thought of that on the way here, but my brain was full from school and wondering which casserole to eat for dinner.

“No problem, dear,” The Librarian –why isn’t there a nameplate on her desk?- states, “If you tell me your preferred genres and authors, I can lead you there, and you can look for yourself at your leisure.”

I nod, “Thanks. That’d help.”

The librarian slowly hefts herself up and walks over to me. She slowly blinks and looks around for a bit, then turns to me.

“So, young lady, what were you in the mood to read today?”

Something simple. My brain is tired.

I figure I should say something a little less blunt then that, but I end up not. The librarian gives a dry chuckle at my response.

“Some light novels, perhaps?”

“I have a lot of those already,” I say.

Light novels and manga don’t take up a lot of room, after all. If I don’t find anything here, I’ll probably just re-read something.

I realize I’m not being very helpful, so I ask about the fantasy section. Maybe they have a Sanderson novel I haven’t read yet. Thinking of that has me fine-tune my question about the English section, and then I mention Sanderson for the sake of completeness.

The Librarian frowns, “The name’s not familiar, but at least we have a destination now. The English section is this way. It’s not very large, I’m afraid, but hopefully we’ll have something to your liking.”

“Thank you,” as long as I’m here, I may as well ask, “I don’t suppose you have any books in Korean?”

“…No, but we do have some on Korean history and folklore.”

Maybe later. The more I think about it, the more I want Sanderson.

The Librarian –I really should ask her name at some point- wanders along and down the shelves, taking a seemingly random, weaving route to get us to our destination. I make sure to remember the route as we go, and also make note of the different sections, based on either the plaques on the shelves, or the snippets of titles I’m able to read.

Is she doing this on purpose?

The way she pauses every now and then to reorient herself makes me unsure; she could just be getting old, after all. Either way it helps me learn the layout of the library, including where the computers are. I mean, I can search the internet on my phone just fine, but a computer makes archive binging so much easier.

“Here we are,” The Librarian declares, stopping at a back shelf under the high windows, “The English Section. Let’s see, Sanderson, Sanderson… hmm, it looks like all we have is The Wheel of Time.”

“That works,” I say, “I just got to that point in the series.”

The Librarian turns from the books to me and smiles, “Anything else I can help you with?”

“Thank you, I’ll be fine,” I give her a quick bow of thanks, “I should look around a bit for myself.”

The Librarian smiles and nods, “Good idea. I’ll be by the front when you’re ready to check out your selections.”

“Thank you.”

I bow to her again and quickly find the book she was indicating. The Librarian moves to leave our aisle to head back, but pauses as another student enters it.

“Oh, there you are, Matsumoto-san,” the student, a girl, says.

She has long, dark brown hair and vibrant green eyes surrounded by heavy bags, as if she didn’t have a good night’s sleep in several days, and tights.

The Librarian, apparently Matsumoto, replies, “Oh, Nagita, were you looking for me? I was helping a student find a book.”

I give a pathetic wave to acknowledge the indirect reference to me.

The girl smiles and gives a wave back, “Hey, you’re in my class, aren’t you? Soon-something, right?”

“Soon-hee,” I reply, “Soon-hee Kim.”

The girl grimaces at her mistake, “Ah, right. Sorry. I’m Maiko Nagita.”

“Right. Do you live in room 225?”

Nagita raises an eyebrow, “How did you know that?”

“I live in 223,” I reply, “Setsuko mentioned you.”

“Oh. Gotcha,” Nagita reverts her attention to the patiently waiting librarian, “Anyway, did you get an English copy of Metro 2033 in this year? I don’t wanna bring mine to a club meeting, and I really want it to be our first book this year.”

Must be from the book club. She wasn’t in my foreign lit class.

“We did get a copy this year,” Matsumoto replies, “but for some reason it’s in Russian.”

Nagita sighs, “Well, as much as I’d love to read it untranslated, I can’t read Russian. Maybe I should learn…” shaking her slightly, Nagita shrugs and says, “Ah well, thanks. Nice to meet you, Kim-san.”

“Just call me Soon-hee, please.”

“Maiko, then,” Maiko says, giving a quick wave before walking out of sight.

“Heh,” Matsumoto wheezes, “always on the move, that one. A leaf on the wind, blowing in the summer breeze, not able to rest.”

Spontaneous haikus. Sure, why not.

Nodding slowly to herself Matsumoto wander off, leaving the aisle in the opposite direction we came in from. As I look around the shelf for some other reading options, I see her head back the way we came, muttering quietly to herself along the way.

I have seen the end, and have heard it named. The Night of Sorrows, the True Desolation. The Everstorm.

+++
Next Chapter

Librarians and professors are both the kind of people who have to be just a little bit crazy.

Or a lot crazy, in my case.
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
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Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/17)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:16 am

The true lesson in the following chapter: teenagers will eat just about anything.

Seriously.

Previous Chapter

Chapter Eight: Take Out’s Revenge


Even though I probably won’t have a lot of free time to read, I hate the idea of giving my brain idle time, so I pick up a few more books while I’m here.

At least they have Le Morte d'Arthur. And I have a decent enough grasp of English to actually read it now. Still need to buy a copy.

Books in hand, I wander around the library for a while, putting its layout to memory. Some people might find all the shelves and walls suffocating. I like them. Each aisle and shelf, the way sounds echo and reverberate in the shelves- I make sure to remember it all. It’s something I just do, like breathe, or eat, or even swim.

It’s so much easier now, too. Definitely the rat in me.

Along the way I pick up a few more books. When I have a respectable stack and a full grasp of the library’s layout, I head back to the front counter to check out the books. I don’t see Maiko at any point. Maybe she left when she couldn’t get her book.

The librarian seems impressed with my stack, remarking as she scans them out, “Quite the reader, aren’t you?”

I nod, “Seems so.”

Keeps my mind busy.

Matsumoto smiles and mutters, “A book in her hand, while yet more wait to be read, patient for their turn.”

I don’t have a response for spontaneous haikus, and it appears she wasn’t expecting one, either. Once I have all the books again, I give a quick bow of thanks and head back to my room. I spent a while in the library, so I think I’ll eat something before diving into these books and my schoolwork.

Although it’s only late afternoon, so maybe I’ll read first. The dilemma of food or reading first occupies my mind all the way to my front door, and I’m not pulled out of my thoughts until I hear the door behind me click open.

I instinctively turn around. Setsuko has the door partially open, just enough so she could see my door. She looks to be in her uniform, as I catch a glimpse of green skirt fluttering from the brief burst of air she generated when she opened her door.

When she sees me she grins and calls, “Sonny! Jus’ who ah was hopin’ to see. Could you give me a hand with somethin’?”

Sonny? Wait, what’s with the accent?

Her careful way of speaking has turned into a full-on drawl. The change in speech from when we met yesterday stuns me a bit, and I end up blinking at her dumbly for a moment before my brain reboots.

“…Um, I’m sorry?”

“Ah need to tote somethin’ into the common room,” she explains, “but it’s a bit on the hefty side. You look like you could handle it, so ah was wonderin’ if you could lend me a hand.”

I’ve barely been here a day and you’re asking for my help? Wait, that’s a good thing. I think.

“Um…sure,” I move my arms a bit to bring attention to the books, “Can I put these in my room first?”

Setsuko grins and nods, “Sure, sure. No good if your hands ain’t free, right?”

I nod in lieu of anything else to do. After grabbing my key, carefully placing the books on my desk, and kicking off my shoes, I head back into the hall, quickly locking my door. Setsuko, meanwhile, has opened her door completely and is pushing a large black case into the hall with her left foot. She’s definitely still in her uniform. Her right hand is holding a light wooden cane, which might explain why she needs my help.

I point at the case and ask, “Is this what you needed help with?”

Nothing get’s by you, does it?

Setsuko nods, grinning as she drawls, “Ah keep it down in the common room during the trimester, though ah reckon I won’t have much time for it now. If you could take it down for me, I’d be much obliged.”

Seriously, what is that accent?

Focusing on the task at hand, I nod and step over to the case. It’s large and rectangular, and as I heft it up with my left hand I realize it is on the heavy side. Between having to coordinate her movements with the cane, and having only one free hand, I can see why lugging this thing –whatever it is- would be a problem for Setsuko.

“Thanks!” she says, grinning widely as she shuts her door, “The elevator’ll be easier for both of us, and it’s this way, if you didn’t get a chance to use it yet.”

“Not yet,” I reply.

“Alrighty then,” she says, and, after side stepping past me, leads the way down the hall.

I manage to catch up easily enough, and keep a pace behind her so I don’t block the hall with the case. As we walk I hear a faint click each time Setsuko moves her right leg forward. I read that leg prosthetics above the knee tend to do that, as the knee has to lock in place to support the person’s weight. Whether that’s the case with her or not, it doesn’t seem to be affecting her speed, as she moves as fluidly and quickly as anyone. The cane is as much a part of her and her movements as her legs. She moves at a brisk pace, too, so I don’t have to worry about bumping into her while we walk.

The elevator is to the side of the front stairway, in a small alcove so it’s not in the way of the stairs. Setsuko hits the down button with her cane, leaning on her left leg as she waits. Since this is the first time we’ve stood next to each other, I’m a little surprised at our height difference –she’s actually taller then I originally thought, which would put her a centimeter or two above average.

As we wait, she turns to me and asks, “So, how was your first day?”

Better than I had any hope of it to be, really.

Dragging myself out of my head, I shrug and say, “Okay. Yours?”

Setsuko sighs, and her naturally steely gaze seems to dull a bit, “Well, dependin’ on your point of view, it either went well or poorly.”

I say nothing, since I have nothing further to contribute. I don’t like to talk a lot with people until I know where I stand with them.

Well, besides the obvious of several centimeters less than someone usually would.

The elevator dings open, and we both wait to see if anyone exits. No one does, so we both step inside, Setsuko hitting the ground floor button with her hand, and the doors quietly close.

As the elevator descends, Setsuko starts humming The Girl from Ipanema. I recognize it because the elevators at the hospital seemed to constantly play the song. Setsuko has a good sense of pitch, although I’ve never really been into music. I prefer to be able to hear if someone’s after me.

The elevator dings open again and Setsuko leads the way to the common room. Again we don’t pass anyone, but the common room itself isn’t abandoned.

The common room isn’t small, but it is cramped. A small table and some chairs are crammed into one corner by the window, its curtains closed to prevent the evening light from streaming in. Several chairs of various designs surround a large red couch that sits across from a TV perched on a TV shelf, on the right side of the room across from the couch. To the left of the door is an empty space, which I gather is where Setsuko wants me to set down the case, as there really isn’t any place else it would fit.

As I said, the room isn’t abandoned. A girl is watching the TV, which I only then notice is on. It appears to be muted, and set to a nature show of some sort. The girl, who’s still in her uniform, has mid-length cobalt hair tied up in a ponytail. Setsuko takes a quick glance around the room before striding in. The girl on the couch glances our way, giving the slender senior a nod and me a raised eyebrow.

“Hey, Sakura,” Setsuko says, waving quickly. Glancing back at me, she adds, “This is Sakura Aisaka from class 3-1. She’s deaf, but can read lips mighty fine.”

Setsuko steps aside so there’s nothing between me and Aisaka. Talking to a deaf person seems really weird to me, but I suck it up and say, “Hello Aisaka-sempai, I’m Soon-hee Kim.”

I bow for emphasis. As you may have noticed, I’m really not one for the façade of politeness hiding most people’s stupidity, fear, and hate. Still, while I may not like honorifics amongst my peers, she is my senior, and I do need to respect that.

Maybe I’ve taken Kenji’s philosophizing a bit too close to heart.

Aisaka keeps her eyebrow raised, silently ruminating on my introduction. After a few moments she smiles and gives a brief nod to me before turning back to the TV.

Maybe I should learn sign language. Although fitting it into my schedule might be tricky. I could do it next year. Well Brain, we’ll worry about that later. Right now I have a heavy thing to deal with.

I move over to the empty spot in the left corner, where Setsuko is leaning casually on her cane as she uses her free hand to point where she wants the case.

“You c’n set that down right there,” Setsuko drawls, “I’ll set it up later. No use doin’ it now.”

I set the case down where she suggests and flex my hand to relax it. Setsuko beams at me, her teeth seeming a bit too white.

“Much obliged, Sonny,” she says. Frowning thoughtfully, she asks, “You eaten yet? I wanna thank you proper, and ah was gonna order some Chinese food, you want some? My treat.”

Free food, free food, free food!

My brain is one for simple pleasures. So is my mouth, apparently, because before I can even think the offer over I end up saying, “Sure, could I get a quart of orange chicken, a quart of fried rice, and an egg roll?”
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/17)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:16 am

Part II:

Setsuko grins and nods, “No problem! Jus’ come on down to the kitchen in… oh, say twenty-five minutes? It should be here by then.”

I nod, “Thanks,” only then does my brain register the oddity of getting free food just for playing deckhand, “Are you sure you wanna bother? I mean….”

I was about to say it wasn’t really a big deal, but obviously it was to her, or she would have just done it herself.

Setsuko waves away my concern at her generosity, “Don’t fret none, it was a big help –not a bother at all.”

Not a bother… Someday. Maybe.

I bite back my urge to apologize, since she’d probably just wave it off, and instead nod and leave the room before I lodge my foot even deeper into my mouth. Though I’m flexible enough I could probably manage it.

Twenty-five minutes is just enough time for me to get lost in a book, so when I get back to my room I look over my new stack to pick one out. I could also text or email Kenji and Miya, but I did that yesterday, and don’t want to bother them any more than I already do.

I pick out a book and start reading. I end up getting really into the book, and, since I neglected to set a timer or any other reminder that food was imminent, the knock on my door takes me completely by surprise.

I jump and turn towards the door while nearly yelping, “Who is it?”

“Maiko!” my hallmate chirps.

Shit, what time is it?

Sure enough, it’s been about twenty-five minutes. That doesn’t explain why Maiko is the one knocking on my door, but I can solve that riddle easily enough. Once I’ve recovered and normalized my breathing, I mark my place with some spare paper and head to my door.

Maiko’s waiting for me in front of my door, smiling brightly despite the fact she looks in desperate need of a nap and is in fact beaming at my forehead.

“Hey, Soon-hee,” she says, adjusting her field of vision down as she adds, “Setsuko says the food’s here.”

I raise an eyebrow, “She had you come up here just to tell me that?”

“Actually she texted me,” Maiko replies, “Well, first she texted me to ask if I wanted any food because Setsuko hates eating alone and she wasn’t sure if you’d wanna eat with someone you just met because you seem the reclusive type so she asked me if I wanted food because I’d eat with her and you and I kinda know each other from class and the library. So then she texted me when the food was here, and now I’m letting you know.”

And I thought Kenji and Miya talked fast.

“…Thanks.”

Maiko grins and tilts her head, “Do you wanna? Eat with us, I mean?”

I nod, “It’d be rude not to, since Setsuko paid for it.”

Just because I have a rude way of speaking doesn’t mean I’m impolite.

Maiko frowns and blinks at me, and I get the feeling she didn’t think this through very much. After a few moments she shrugs, grins, and says, “Okay, see you downstairs.”

She doesn’t wait for me to leave before twirling on her heel and heading down the hall, which gives me a moment to collect myself and close and lock my door. I’m not really anti-social –I don’t like crowds as much because of the noise as anything else. Still, I never really hung out with anyone at the psych ward besides Nurse Koizumi, and that was part of her job, really.

I’m still getting used to this people thing, is what I’m driving at -being one as much as interacting with them.

When I get to the kitchen I see Maiko and Setsuko waiting at the table in the middle of the room, my food set aside next to Maiko, who has her back to the small couch they crammed along the back wall. Presumably it’s there so people with bone problems have a comfortable place to wait or eat. Right now Aisaka is sitting on it, playing a game of some sort on a handheld console.

She doesn’t notice my presence, but Setsuko does. She waves and points at the food with her chopsticks. I nod and grab a fork from a drawer and a cup from a cabinet to fill with water before sitting down across from Setsuko. The two were waiting for me to eat, and as we start I notice that Setsuko’s chopsticks are not disposable. They’re a bleached white color, so they’re probably either plastic or bone.

“Thanks again for the food,” I say to Setsuko, before unwrapping my egg roll.

Setsuko shoves a noodle into her mouth and swallows before saying, “No worries, Sonny.”

Maiko tilts her head at Setsuko, “Sonny?”

Setsuko shrugs, “Say her name really fast in English.”

Maiko does just that, muttering to herself between bites of rice. After several renditions, she turns to me, her eyes narrowed and head tilted as she says, “I don’t think she’s a Sonny,” untilting her head while I focus on my eggroll to avoid her gaze, she asks, “What does your name mean, if I may ask?”

I swallow the rest of the egg roll I crammed into my mouth before replying, “Gentle joy.”

It’s a bit of an old fashioned name, but apparently it’s something of a family tradition. Well… it was.

Maiko looks down at her food and frowns, “Hmm….”

Setsuko raises an eyebrow at Maiko, “What’s wrong with Sonny?”

Maiko shrugs and goes back to her rice, “It doesn’t seem to fit, is all. No offense,” she adds.

“None taken,” I reply.

I wonder if Scout’s nickname made that little sense.

We sit silently for a bit, me gnawing through my rice at a rate that most would probably consider unhealthy –especially considering how greasy it is- while Setsuko and Maiko go at a less nausea inducing pace. Setsuko is the first one to speak.

“Say Sonny,” she says, “You thinkin’ a joining the book club? That was one heck of a stack of books you had when you got back.”

Maiko swallows before stating, “We had our first meeting today and she wasn’t there.”

Setsuko rolls her eyes, “Let ‘er speak for herself, aight?”

Maiko sticks her tongue out at Setsuko and goes back to her food.

“I joined the Judo Club, actually,” I reply to Setsuko’s question, “but I do like to read.”

Maiko stops in her tracks, her chopsticks halfway to her mouth, and turns in her seat to lean towards me so fast that the rice on her chopsticks goes flying onto the table as I involuntarily scoot away in my seat.

Oblivious to my movement and her eyes shining, Maiko asks, “Whaddya like to read?”

Could you maybe scoot back a bit?

Setsuko looks up at me from her food, her eyes saying “sorry” while her mild smirks says “this was gonna happen eventually, so better to get it out of the way.”

What have I gotten myself into?

Well, they do say there’s no such thing as a free meal. Besides, I really don’t mind answering her, even if she is crowding me a bit.

Setting my fork down, I tick my preferred genres off as I think of them, to make sure I give her a thorough answer, “Epic fantasy and poems, medieval history, sometimes comedy light novels or manga if they fit into those genres, and foreign poetry and literature, depending on the topic or author.”

“So… no steampunk?”

Setsuko rolls her eyes, “She’s really askin’ if you read the PR Director’s books, because she’s a huge fan herself.”

Maiko grins and glances at her senior, “Let ‘er answer for herself, aight?”

Setsuko sticks her tongue out at Maiko. For someone who can talk like they have a stick up their ass –please pardon my language- she sure seems laidback now.

“Sorry, I’m not really a steampunk fan,” I reply to Maiko.

“Me neither,” Setsuko remarks, apparently just to needle Maiko.

Maiko rolls her eyes, “No, you just read that action schlock her husband writes.”

“You read Larry Correia,” Setsuko retorts, “and went to a whole helluva lot a trouble to make sure you git my room next year.”

Is my participation here really necessary?

Maiko shrugs and goes back to her rice, “I’m a sucker for a Great Old One, and can you blame me about your room? She slept in there!”

Setsuko snorts and rolled her eyes, “Yeah, that ain’t creepy or nothin’.”

Maiko, rather than sticking her tongue out or eating the bit of rice now clamped on her chopsticks, flicks it at Setsuko, who bats it away with her free hand.

I wonder if there’s something in the water here.

Apparently put out by her defeat, Maiko turns back to me, “I take it you’re not a Lovecraft fan, Muscles?”

Muscles? I think I preferred Sonny.

Setsuko raises an eyebrow, “Muscles? Really?”

Maiko glances back at Setsuko, “What, it fits, doesn’t it?”

“I guess….”

Too much to hope for a feminine nickname, I guess. Maybe when I graduate I’ll go full bifauxnen and wear a suit.

“Not a Lovecraft fan,” I say, “I really don’t like that kind of genre.”

“Fair enough,” Maiko says, “He’s not for everyone. Which foreigners do you read?”

She’s a persistent one, I’ll give her that. Setsuko’s smirking again while she eats. Did she plan this, trying to bring two bookworms together and get me to mingle with my peers?

I’m probably just being paranoid again. Maybe.

My rice half done, I set it aside so I can start on my chicken. Before I do, I answer my hallmate, “Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, Robert Frost, Thoreau when he’s not being all weird, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Reverend King, Kipling-”

Maiko wrinkles her nose, “The White Man’s Burden guy?”

“He wrote other stuff,” I remark.

Maiko nods, acknowledging the point, goes back to her food, and doesn’t say anything. Maybe she’s afraid she’ll offend me if she does.

Swallowing her latest bite, Setsuko grins at me and asks, “Quite the reader, ain’t yah? That’s an awful lot of a foreign language to cram in your head –I take it you don’t bother with translated works?”

I nod, “Not the same.”

“Yeah,” Maiko interjects, “A lot of that stuff can lose itself in the translation,” frowning suddenly, she glares down at her food and grumbles, “Wish some of the kids in the book blub would realize that.”

I don’t have anything to add to that, so I start shoveling my chicken into my mouth, naturally at about the same time someone else enters the kitchen.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/17)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:17 am

Part III:

I keep eating as a petite girl in a wheelchair is slowly rolled in by a taller girl in sunglasses. The smaller girl has short black hair she’s dyed with streaks of red, while the taller of the two has shoulder length brown hair. As I said earlier, her eyes are covered by a pair of plastic sunglasses, and the way she tilts her head gives me the idea she’s using her ears to navigate instead of her eyes.

The smaller girl sniffs deeply and says, “Hey Sempai, you were right –it was Setsuko-sempai.”

“Told you,” the taller girl says, “She’s the only one who eats that crap.”

Setsuko sniffs and stiffens up, “It is impolite to insult someone’s food, you know.”

And the accent’s gone. And this stuff is way too acidic.

“I’m not sure that stuff counts as food,” the girl with red stripes retorts, “but never mind that –please tell me the rumors aren’t true.”

Setsuko shrugs, “Most of the rumors fabricated at this school aren’t true.”

The girl groans and waves her arm in exasperation, “You know what I’m talking about, Sempai. Please tell me you didn’t become class rep.”

Setsuko sighs, looks down at her food, and replies, “That particular rumor is true.”

“Wait,” Maiko’s head snaps up to look at Setsuko, “For real? You actually took the job of class rep?”

Setsuko sighs again before nodding, “I was the only qualified candidate.”

“Yazawa-sempai could do it!” the girl snaps, “You’re the best damn keyboardist in the school!”

“While Yazawa will no doubt serve as an exemplary assistant,” Setsuko states, “he is unfit to handle the scope and scale of our class. I am. It is that simple, the decision has been made, it is mine to make, and it has been done, so there’s no point questioning it.”

The smaller girl glares at Setsuko for a few moments, then gives up and sighs, “Fine, Sempai… you’ll still play, right?”

Setsuko smiles lightly at the girl and nods, “Of course. When I can.”

The girl smiles back, and it’s apparently only then that she notices me, because she turns her head slightly and says, “Sorry, didn’t mean to be rude. I don’t believe we’ve met?”

I shake my head, “We haven’t.”

I turn to Setsuko for the introduction, since she seems to know the other girl. Taking the hint, she smirks briefly before gesturing to me, “This is Soon-hee Kim. She lives across from me.”

The smaller girl gives a brief bow, “Hello, Kim-san. I’m Maiya Tamura,” she jabs a thumb behind her at the other girl, “and this is Sakurako Nagamori.”

The taller girl gives a mild bow as well, “Hello, nice to meet you. Did I hear Maiko earlier?”

“Hey Sempai,” Maiko says, “I heard you got made class rep, too.”

Fastest rumor mill ever. Did this cook boil the chicken in citric acid?

I’m halfway through my chicken, and my stomach is starting to roil. I expected it to be a bit on the sweet and acidic side, but this is ridiculous. I set the chicken down and grab my water to try and settle my stomach.

Nagamori-sempai meanwhile, is nodding to Maiko’s question, her head aimed more or less in the right direction, “Yeah, it was all very dramatic and awe-inspiring. Is anyone else here besides you three?”

“Sakura’s on the couch,” Setsuko replies.

“Ah. Well,” she turns her head towards the sound of my last remark, “Kim-san, it’s nice to meet you.”

I set down my half-finished water, “Same here. Please just call me Soon-hee,” I look to the other girl, “You too, Tamura-san.”

“Maiya, please,” she says with a wave of her hand, “Nice to meet you. You know… I think I heard a rumor about a Korean girl moving in….”

Setsuko sighs, “The occult club started that one, I believe,” she turns to me with an apologetic look plain on her expression, “They seem to think you’re a vengeful spirit given human form.”

The only thing vengeful right now is my stomach. I ate too fast, the chicken was too acidic, and the rice too greasy. My stomach must be too used to bland hospital food even after the weekend with Kenji, because I think… no, I’m definitely going to throw up.

I turn to Setsuko and ask, “There’s a bathroom down the hall, right?”

Setsuko frowns and nods, “Are you okay?”

I nod, “Please excuse me, and don’t throw away my food. I’ll be back for it.”

It’s still free food, after all. That said, I stand up, sidle past Maiya and Nagamori-sempai, and head to the bathroom to throw up.

It hurts more on the way out then the way in. Weird.

The downside of a sensitive stomach and a strong sweet tooth are situations like these.

I clean myself up and lap up some water from the faucet –I guess going from a beaten dog to a sick one is an improvement- before heading back to the kitchen. My food is still there, and it appears Maiko, Setsuko, and Maiya have entered a somewhat heated discussion. Nagamori-sempai, meanwhile, is by the stove fiddling with a pot and a bag of rice. Maiya’s at the end of the table by the door.

“I just don’t like what they do,” Maiko says as I take my seat, “and I don’t like that they use their disabilities for sympathy when they decide to use chicken blood and frog guts to make pentagrams on their club room floor.”

Setsuko shrugs as I mix my rice and chicken in an effort to make it less volatile to my stomach, “It’s not proper to speak ill of the dead. Are you sure you want to eat that?”

I nod, “Still hungry.”

“Here,” Setsuko hands me a packet of soy sauce, “That’ll help.”

“You shouldn’t say things like that, Sempai,” Maiya interjects, “They’re not dead yet.”

“Which is exactly my point,” Maiko says. Watching me take the packet, she adds, “You sure you wanna eat that?”

I nod again as I open the packet of sauce, focusing on the black liquid mixing with what’s left of my painful but still perfectly edible food. Setsuko, looking a bit concerned at my effort to eat the rest of my meal even as she lets me get on with it, apparently decides to bring me up to speed, explaining, “The occult club has a reputation for attracting students with degenerative neurological disorders. The sort that tend to lead to an early grave.”

“Oh.”

Not much to say to something like that.

“I don’t suppose we could talk about something less depressing?” Nagamori-sempai says, her sunglasses steaming from the water in the pot, “Maybe someone’s guide dog got hit by a car, or Maiko read a book about eldritch abominations eating all of mankind?”

Maiko snorts at the quip halfway through swallowing, which sends her on a coughing fit that has her grabbing the table for leverage. Being all too familiar with the fear and anxiety such a situation creates in a person, I give her a helpful thump on the back and some brief rubs along her spine to help calm her system down.

The fit passes quickly, so I remove my hand while Maiko gasps a few breaths in, her knuckles white from grabbing the table harder than was strictly necessary. When her breathing’s back to normal, she smiles weakly at me and starts flexing her hands to get the feeling back in them.

“Thanks,” she grunts.

I smirk lightly, “No problem. Choking on your food’s no fun.”

Setsuko offers Maiko a glass of water, which Maiko grabs while nodding to me.

Setsuko smirks, “As fast as you eat, I imagine that comes up rather often.”

I shrug, “Not that often, fortunately.”

Her head tilted towards us, Nagamori-sempai turns from her rice towards the table to ask, “Is everyone all right over there?”

Maiko finishes chugging the glass of water, sighs, and sets it down before replying, “We’re cool- I was choking on some rice is all. Which reminds me, you mentioned eldritch abominations? There was this book I read over break…”

I get back to my food while Maiko explains the book she read and how it made the senior’s quip so amusing to her. I’m not a fan of dark humor myself, but I can see why Maiko would be. While she babbles on, Setsuko mouths a thanks to me for helping her –our- hallmate out.

I give her a nod for a reply. My own issues about personal contact aside, I couldn’t very well let her choke, even if it wasn’t life threatening.

The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.

+++
Next Chapter

Dangit, now I want Chinese food. To the drawer of takeout menus!
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:44 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/17)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:31 pm

“Not a Lovecraft fan,” I say, “I really don’t like that kind of genre.”
I guess she wouldn't be :lol:
“Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, Robert Frost, Thoreau when he’s not being all weird, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Reverend King, Kipling-”
When did she read all that stuff? Even if she spent a couple of months in the hospital...
black hair she’s died with streaks of red
dyed

Oh, and it's senpai

Parts I and II were very good; I had a bit of trouble keeping track of the conversation between six(?) characters four of which were only just introduced in part III...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/17)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:37 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
“Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, Robert Frost, Thoreau when he’s not being all weird, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Reverend King, Kipling-”
When did she read all that stuff? Even if she spent a couple of months in the hospital...
She spent about eight months in the hospital, most of which were in the psych ward. Also, because she spent years having to snatch time away from her captives to read at night in a closet, she's a very fast reader.
Oh, and got the dyed, thanks for that.
Oh, and it's senpai
Either one is technically correct. It's spelled with an N and pronounced with an M, so I erred on phonetics and used the m-sound, which just rolls off my head-tongue better.
Parts I and II were very good; I had a bit of trouble keeping track of the conversation between six(?) characters four of which were only just introduced in part III...
I do seem to have a habit of doing that. Someday I'll wise up and stop it. Hopefully in time for the Christmas Special I have stewing in my brain juice.
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/17)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:09 pm

Actually, it is also pronounced with an "n"
The Japanese language doesn't even have a single consonant "m"; they probably couldn't pronounce it "sempai" even if they tried. It would probably come out something like "semupai".
It's true that if you pronounce a "p"-sound after an "n" there might be a bit of an "m" slipping in there if your pronunciation is sloppy, but the correct spelling and pronunciation is still senpai.
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/17)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Actually, it is also pronounced with an "n"
The Japanese language doesn't even have a single consonant "m"; they probably couldn't pronounce it "sempai" even if they tried. It would probably come out something like "semupai".
It's true that if you pronounce a "p"-sound after an "n" there might be a bit of an "m" slipping in there if your pronunciation is sloppy, but the correct spelling and pronunciation is still senpai.
Fair enough; I shall defer to your superior knowledge, and thus, will make the appropriate edits :)

Even though sempai sounds better to me, but what do I know? I got a D in French in college despite taking it in high school (this, incidentally, is why I have a Bachelor of Science in History- A Bachelor of Arts required a year of a language.)
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Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/17)

Post by NonexistentFlower » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:22 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Actually, it is also pronounced with an "n"
The Japanese language doesn't even have a single consonant "m"; they probably couldn't pronounce it "sempai" even if they tried. It would probably come out something like "semupai".
It's true that if you pronounce a "p"-sound after an "n" there might be a bit of an "m" slipping in there if your pronunciation is sloppy, but the correct spelling and pronunciation is still senpai.
Actually from what i understand that's actually not the case.

Wikipedia seems to agree that the ん (or /N/) is actually pronounced as [m] before a bilabial consonant. Romanisation does have both as <n>, but this was a more recent thing, and until a while ago <sempai> and <shimbun> was the more accepted romanisation (Asahi Shimbun's romanised title, amongst other things, still uses the old way).

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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/24)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:42 am

I’ve heard Epsom salts and buttermilk are good for that.

Also, fun fact: because my father has a bunch of roses, I didn’t realize the primary use for Epsom salts was dietary related until recently. But enough about that, chapter, ho!

Previous Chapter

Chapter Nine: Physical Education


That damn take-out gave me worms. Or salmonella. Worms with salmonella.

That might be an exaggeration, but I do feel pretty awful. After a poor night’s sleep I somehow manage to crawl from under my bed and shut off my alarm. My stomach did not take kindly to me eating the rest of that take-out, but too bad for it. I was hungry, it was food.

Besides, it’ll settle by lunch. It usually does.

PE is going to be so much fun today.

First things first, though. After the bathroom I manage to make my way to the pool. Since PE is before lunch, I do need to avoid going all out with my laps today. Besides, if I did I’d probably throw up again.

I can tell Miss Isobe knows something’s up, because she keeps a close eye on me before, during, and after my routine. When I towel off she walks over to me, her look of concern as obvious as her drowsiness.

“Hey Kim, you okay?” she asks.

Though obviously I’m not okay, I do appreciate her concern, even if I don’t like that it was so obvious I’m not okay.

She is trained to see this kind of stuff, though.

“Didn’t sleep well,” I grunt in reply, “Bad take-out.”

Miss Isobe smirks, though her apparent humor doesn’t reach her tired eyes, “Let me guess, Chinese take-out from town, right?”

I nod.

“Yeah, that stuff’ll get you in the end. I’m impressed you managed to come out here.”

I get the increasing feeling I need to call the Health Ministry.

“I like swimming,” I state.

The lifeguard grins, “Clearly. You gonna be okay?”

I nod, and even though she keeps an eye on me until I leave, she doesn’t say anything further.

Fortunately Miya made a few blander casseroles for me in case this happened, so I eat one of them for breakfast and pack another for lunch. I manage to resist her cookies, but I do need to eat them before they get stale. When I can.

Despite some lingering discomfort, my stomach mostly settles during the morning, so when PE rolls around I’m ready. It may sound odd, but I’m actually looking forward to PE. I like keeping busy, and if I’m going to be a physical therapist, I need to get use to this kind of thing.

It helps that I have a boy’s gym uniform, too.

PE usually meets in the main gymnasium, which is basically a giant, open, rectangular room surrounded by metal doors that lead to storage rooms, lockers, and showers. Outside the gym are the cases for awards the various athletic clubs have earned. I looked them over Sunday; the late aughts were a good time for them, thanks to Mrs. Kotobuki and the Captain of the kendo club. The archery club has been top ranked in the country for nearly the last decade, while the judo club’s managed to perform rather well, though they’ve slipped in recent years. Maybe I can change that. Maybe.

The PE teacher is a stoic, lanky man by the name of Hiraga. He has short black hair and the look of a man who doesn’t impress easily. Even though my physical therapist was a woman, I’ve been around enough male ones to not react to his presence. Despite his demeanor, he doesn’t seem like a bad teacher. He doesn’t immediately make my hairs stand on end, at least.

The class is going to be pretty routine today. Those of us that can are going to split up into pairs and do basic exercises. Those that can’t will do their own thing, and those exempt from the class got to pick an elective instead.

Maiko ends up as my partner one way or the other, something that seems to delight her no end. She looks as tired as I feel, so maybe she’s hoping I can pick up the slack for her. She doesn’t seem to have any problems keeping up, though, and as soon as we get to it she starts talking to me.

“You okay Muscles?” is her first question.

Am I really that easy to read?

“Yeah,” I reply, “Just tired.”

Maiko gives a weary chuckle, “The take-out hit you pretty hard, didn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I grunt, “Setsuko’s idea of payment sucks.”

Shit. I said that out loud. Bad Brain. No cookie.

Maiko chuckles again, “She actually texted me to ask you how you were feeling. I woulda asked sooner, but you didn’t get to class until right before the bell, so I haven’t really had a chance. Oh, and she also said to say that to avoid this in the future, just order the almond chicken, egg rolls, and white rice. The soup’s usually safe, too.”

How are you even breathing right now?

Honestly I find her energy impressive, although that may be because I’m not very talkative myself.

“I’m fine,” I reiterate, “Are you? You look tired, too.”

Damn it. This is why I don’t talk and do anything else at the same time.

Maiko chuckles again, though it’s a bit breathy, “Unfortunate side-effect of being a narcoleptic. And I’m used to the food, so I’m fine on that front, too.”

That explains that, I guess.

Hiraga-Sensei is staring at us now, and the fact that I can’t tell why is raising the hairs on my neck. Maybe it’s Maiko’s ability to talk and exercise at the same time.

I’m certainly impressed by it.

Either way the teacher never says anything to us, and he gives a generic “good job” to the class before the bell rings. After toweling off and changing back into my uniform, I head back to 2-3 for lunch. Along the way Maiko sidles up next to me.

“Were you gonna eat in the room today?” she asks.

I nod, “I brought my lunch today.”

“Gotcha. I did, too, actually –I had Setsuko get me some chop suey so I wouldn’t have to go the cafeteria.”

I raise an eyebrow, “Is the cafeteria food really that bad?”

Maiko shrugs, “I think so, but I’m probably not the best judge of food. I tend to like things on the spicier side.”

Or greasy, apparently. I wonder how long I can avoid the cafeteria.

“Anyway,” Maiko’s still talking, “you wanna eat together?”

I suppose I shouldn’t find the offer too surprising. The girl’s been almost eager to be by my side since she found out I was an avid reader. Which is odd, really –doesn’t she have a full club of people to talk to about that kind of thing? Still, I don’t mind the company; she’s fun to talk to and I’m pretty sure I know where I stand with her.

About two and a half centimeters shorter.

I smirk briefly and nod once, “Sure. I’d like that.”

My stomach has finally completely settled, so I can eat my lunch without worry. I can’t, however, look Maiko’s cardboard box in the eye. I can sense it mocking me from the shadows, like a mischievous spren about to pull a prank.

“Wow, that looks good,” Maiko remarks on my lunch, “Did you make that?”

I shake my head, “A… someone else made me some premade dishes so I could avoid the cafeteria for a while.”

“Good idea,” Maiko states.

If she noticed my hesitation, she doesn’t remark or react to it. That is the gift of Yamaku, after all.

Though it didn’t seem to bother her yesterday, Maiko avoids talking while we’re eating, which is possibly the first time I’ve seen her restrain herself from doing so. The second she’s finished with her lunch though, she’s at it again.

Like last night, its questions about what I like to read, except this time she’s asking about epic poems and folklore.

“Arthurian legend?” she asks when I clarify one of my responses, “Wow. I mean, I read some of the old samurai stories, but… ooh! Did you read the Malory compilation?”

Never heard it called that before.

“I have the library’s copy now,” I reply, “Except it’s in English. I’m barely trilingual, and that limits my options a bit with the older stuff. And reading things like Chaucer and Beowulf can be slow going sometimes.”

Maiko’s eyes go wide and she leans forward, forcing me to lean back so she doesn’t hit her head on my face, “You read Beowulf?”

I nod, “Did you?”

Maiko nods vigorously, “Yeah, I’m a sucker for something creeping in the darkness. Did the Christian stuff in Beowulf hold you up any?”

I shake my head, “It comes up a lot in older western works, so I studied up on it and various other religions, too.”

Maiko leans back and nods sagely, “Reading about stuff so you can read about stuff shows true dedication to the art of literature,” scowling suddenly –which adds an unsettling sharpness to her green eyes- she grumbles, “I wish some of the members of the book club had that kind of dedication.”

“…I don’t know if its dedication,” I remark, “I just want to enjoy the story. I can’t do that if I don’t understand it.”

“That’s exactly what I mean!” Maiko declares, and I realize it isn’t sharpness in her eyes, but passion, “What’s the damn point in reading something if you have no clue what the fuck it is you’re reading? Some people just don’t get that, and they hold down the entire club with their narrow-minded idiocy!”

“…You seem to have a rather strong opinion about this.”

And a tendency to spray it, not say it when you’re mad. Ew.

Maiko gives a sheepish grimace while I wipe my face of bean sprout residue. Apparently she’s not a big fan of chewing, either.

“Sorry,” she says, still grimacing as she explains, “Literature appreciation and interpretation is really important to me, so I tend to get passionate about it. I don’t have anything against people who just read for the fun of it, but if you’re gonna be ignorant about it, why bother? I didn’t get any in your mouth, did I?”

I shake my head and lower my napkin, “You’re fine. I understand how you feel, I think. I’m… kinda the same way about my physical training.”

Maiko smiles, “Glad you understand. What time is it?” before I can answer she’s pulled out her phone, “Crap, almost time for classes again.”

“Just social studies and math, though,” I say.

Well, almost just. I also have an appointment to keep. Hopefully that will go better than math class.

Now, once more, I must ride with my knights to defend what was, and the dream of what could be.

+++
Next Chapter

I disdain didactism myself, but I tend to look at all literature from a historical perspective rather than a literary one.

Side effect of spending several tens of thousands of dollars on two degrees on the subject. Should probably start paying that off one of these decades….
Last edited by Hoitash on Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/29)

Post by Hoitash » Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:30 am

I’m posting this early because I’m going to GenCon again this year and my netbook doesn’t have Microsoft Office and it’s just plain easier to post from my desktop before I leave.

So, let’s see how Miss Yumi’s replacement stacks up, shall we?

Miss Yumi herself being either retired or worm food at this juncture.

Well, fertilizer, I guess, since the Japanese usually cremate their dead. So tree food, I guess?

…I’m putting far too much thought into what was done with the remains of a fictional character who may or may not even be dead.

Anyway, have a chapter:

Previous Chapter

Chapter Ten: The Shrink is In


For one of the seven or so percent of the student body without a physical disability or disorder of some sort, I seem to be spending a lot of time in the medical and administrative building.

As the Nurse said Sunday, I have a Tuesday appointment after school with the counselor, Dr. Midoriko Gotou. Hence why I’m in front of her door. I just haven’t gotten the nerve to knock yet.

I got along well with my last therapist, and she said we made a lot of progress. Although considering I went from a barely functioning lump of flesh with the survival instincts of a sniveling rodent to someone mildly capable of operating in civilized society, I’m not sure how much of a compliment that actually is.

Sniveling rodent to beaten dog is a good change. Maybe one of these days I’ll be something with opposable thumbs.

Either way, I’m not exactly looking forward to having to build a new relationship with someone based on revealing all the things that make me wake up in the middle of the night crying. Then again, I don’t have a choice –part of the Hakamichi Foundation grant funding most of my attendance here is contingent on regular visits with a therapist and demonstrated improvement with said therapist.

I may not like it, but I don’t have a choice, so I knock on the door several times.

“Come in,” comes a woman’s voice on the other side, “it’s open.”

Suppressing a sigh, I force my shoulders to relax and open the door.

Therapists have a tendency to avoid making their rooms too stuffy, and Dr. Gotou is no exception. This room is downright archaic, even. The furniture is sparse and to the sides, with the middle of the room occupied by several cushions around a small square table. A goban sits against one wall with several ancient looking game boards, and a desk with an aging corded phone sits next to what looks like a very expensive laptop. There’s a bookshelf by the door, although one shelf is full of tea paraphernalia rather than books.

Dr. Gotou is sitting behind the desk, but stands when I enter the room. She’s pretty young looking, maybe mid forties at the oldest, with short auburn hair and dark eyes. Her clothes are nondescript and western, and seem to contrast with the room somehow.

“Ah, you must be Kim-san,” the Doctor says.

I bow and reply, “Yes, Dr. Gotou. Soon-hee Kim.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kim-san, and please, just call me Doc,” she grins, “Dr. Gotou always felt too stiff to me. Have a seat, please.”

I dutifully take a seat on the nearest cushion, which is more or less across from the door. Dr. Gotou grabs my file from a drawer and takes a seat on the other side of the table. While I keep my back stiff and sit as formally as I can, she’s taken a more relaxed approach. Unfortunately, I’ve never felt comfortable sitting Japanese style, and I can already feel twinges of pain in my knees and thighs.

Perhaps noticing my discomfort, or just wanting me to be more relaxed in general, Dr. Gotou smiles and says, “I know it’s kind of stuffy in here, but please try and relax.”

I nod and dutifully relax my spine and shoulders, though I maintain my rigid leg positioning out of respect. Something about the room makes me want to maintain at least some air of formality, which is odd considering my normal lack of concern for such things.

“Thank you,” I say.

“Your comfort is important during these sessions,” Dr. Gotou states, “and I’ve never been one for stodginess myself. I just leave the room like this out of respect for my predecessor. She was rather well liked in her time, and left quite the shoes for me to fill.”

Director Nakai spoke very highly of her therapist during the tour of the campus she provided for me. She said the new therapist was doing an excellent job as well, but I can see why she doesn’t want to change the room.

Hopefully my knees will forgive me.

“Speaking of my predecessor,” Dr. Gotou says, “I was thinking we’d take a page from her playbook and play a game. Do you know how to play go?”

That must be part of Psychology 101.

Sorami-san, my previous therapist, was fond of that technique, too. She preferred card games though, along with the occasional game of chess.

I nod, “I do. I’m not very good, though.”

I’m really bad at board games in general. I get so focused on countering my opponent’s immediate moves, I fail to think ahead and consider their potential actions in response.

Dr. Gotou smiles gently and says, “That’s alright, I’m terrible myself. Put me in an MMO with some healing spells, though, and I’m the best around.”

I can’t help but smirk at how fitting that is. Or maybe it’s the fact she’s more like someone my age than my previous therapist, who was the older, wise type.

The Doc places the board on top of the table and pulls out the stones, placing the bowl of white ones in front of me as she takes the black for herself.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Dr. Gotou reaches under the table and slowly pulls out a box of Pocky sticks, “You had PE today, so I imagine you could use a snack?”

I hold out my hand before I can think the question over. She smiles again and holds them out for me, and I immediately grab and tear the box open and start gnawing through them. My stomach feels conflicted on both the need for food ant the type of food I’m currently eating, but I ignore it and keep gnawing through the sticks.

The Doc smirks at my eagerness as she looks the board over, “Now, before we begin, is there anything on your mind you’d like to express now?”

I pause mid-stick to think. There are a few unformed worries nagging at the edges of my mind, muddled by the day’s events, along with the darker thoughts that always seem to be lurking and waiting for the right moment to strike.

Maybe Maiko’s on to something with all this eldritch stuff.

After several moments of silent thought –during which Dr. Gotou has prepped the board- I finish the stick in my mouth. The unformed thoughts fail to coalesce, so I give up for now. No sense forcing out that which wishes to remain hidden, when you might not like what you find. And don’t have to.

It’ll come to me eventually if it’s important, anyway.

“Nothing comes to mind right now,” I finally reply, “but I might think of it later. Sorry.”

“Not a problem,” the Doc replies, “If you think of something, bring it up when you can. Speaking of, I have a special rule for this game; only the person whose turn it is may speak. Make sense?”

I nod. I’ll need the time to form my thoughts in a way I feel comfortable saying them, anyway.

Dr. Gotou smiles, “Excellent. Let’s get started then. As I said, I suck at this kind of game, so I’ll forgo a handicap and just go first, alright?”

I nod again.

The Doc looks the board over, seemingly absorbed in making her first move. More likely, though, is that she’s mulling over her first serious question for me.

“Hmm… well,” she looks up from the board to me, “I suppose the obvious question would be: how are you adjusting to things here at Yamaku?”

The question asked, she places her stone with a soft click.

I pick up a stone in my left hand, using my right to idly finger through the rest in the bowl. I’ve always liked how smooth the stones feel. I don’t rely on my tactile senses much, but I find their smoothness relaxing, even if it is rude.

“…With the exception of some poorly seasoned take-out, things are going pretty well, I guess,” I reply.

Click. I stop fiddling with the stones.

The Doc smirks and nods to herself, “The Chinese take-out place, I imagine. They moved in a few years ago. Some people like it, I can’t stand it myself. So… I take it you’re getting along with the students and your teachers?”

Click.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
"You are absolutely insane. And entertaining." -griffon8

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Re: The First Week –A Soon-hee Story (Updated 7/29)

Post by Hoitash » Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:30 am

Part II:

I nod, pick up a stone, and resume my fiddling as I think the question over, the soft clicking filling the room as I sit in silent contemplation and mild knee pain.

“So far,” I reply, “The teacher’s are a bit of a mixed bag, but the students are friendly, fortunately.”

Click. End fiddling.

“A mixed bag in what way? And you don’t have to stop playing with the stones; I did the same thing when I was a kid,” she grins and adds, “Drove my father nuts.”

Click.

“Thanks,” I say, “As for the teachers… well… Mutou-sensei and Omiya-sensei creep me out a bit. Sorry.”

Click. The stones are starting to get warm, and I avoid looking at the Doc to stare at the floor.

The Doc actually chuckles a bit, “Mutou is harmless, just old and too devoted to retire. As for Omiya… well, he knows his stuff and considers himself too important to the field to retire. He may be a crotchety old man, but he’s harmless, too. Mostly,” The Doc pauses to examine the board for a moment before continuing, “Either way, once you’re used to them, they shouldn’t bother you as much. If anything happens that upsets you, let me know, okay?”

I nod.

Dr. Gotou smiles and nods herself, “Okay. So, it sounds like you’re getting along well with the students?”

Click.

“Good so far,” I reply, idly turning the stone in my fingers while I think. After a few moments, I admit, “I’m a bit surprised by that, actually. Their friendliness caught me off guard, I guess. In a good way, but… I can’t help but wait for the other shoe to drop.”

Click. I’m losing, though it looks like it might be closer than I’m used to. Sorami was a much better player than the Doc seems to be.

The Doc tilts her head slightly, “What do you mean, the other shoe?”

Click. That was a bad move, but I have to answer her before I can take advantage of it.

“I mean, I get that the students are friendly and accepting, but I won’t delude myself that every student here is okay with my presence. People are still people, and my name is not going to make anything easier as long as I’m in Japan.”

Click.

The Doc sighs, “Well, I won’t promise everyone here is accepting enough to realize what century it is, but I can at least assure you that if anything happens, the response will be swift and decisive. Yamaku has very stringent anti-harassment and bullying rules. If anything happens, make sure the faculty knows.”

Click.

“So, anything someone pulls will be sneaky and calculated to avoid repercussions?” I ask.

Click. The stones are warm now, so I’ve stopped fiddling with them. They feel weird when they’re like that.

The Doc sighs again and gives me a sad smile, “The mind of a teenager is truly a frightening thing, sometimes. The fact that you think like that shows you’ll be able to see it coming, which is no bad thing. Although that kind of thinking can be toxic if you take it too far.”

Kenji warned me about that, too.

Click.

“I’ve been warned before about that, so I try to presume people’s intentions are good in the beginning. At the same time, though, I try to think about how they might screw me over. It’s… a delicate balance.”

Click.

The Doc smiles down at the board, “Well, that’s why I’m here; to find the balance. Your past is always with you, but if you completely ignore it, it will consume you. Honestly, the fact that you’re willing to see good intentions first is a good thing, and something I think we can build on.”

Click. Crap, I lost. I think –my math skills are nowhere near good enough to tally the score up in my head.

“Well,” Dr. Gotou looks over the board, apparently that good at math herself. When she’s done, she smiles up at me and says, “that was a good game. You have a better handle on it than you give yourself credit for,” she glances down at her watch for a moment, “I’d say that’s enough for now, unless you have anything else on your mind?”

The nagging thoughts at the edge of my mind are still there, so I silently mull them over. Something about… my training, maybe? Ugh, this is annoying. Considering how hard it is to get my brain to shut up, I guess it’s fitting the one time I want it to cooperate it goes on strike.

Stupid take out threw my whole day off, it seems.

I sigh and give up, “Thoughts won’t form.”

“Alright,” Doc starts clearing the board while she talks, “Since judo normally meets after school on weekdays, how about we start meeting Saturdays after classes? My Sunday has become full rather quickly this trimester, it seems.”

Judo… that’s right.

Good brain.

“Um…Doc?”

She looks up from the board, “Yes?”

“My judo practice… I am a bit concerned about the club, actually.”

“In what way?”

Well, this is why you’re here. May as well get it out.

“…I’m worried I might have a panic attack during training. It was an issue early on in my physical therapy, and I’m concerned it might be a problem now that I’m in a club. I’ve never trained in a group or with students before, and… I’m worried what they’ll think if I have a flashback or something during a meeting.”

This was something that was on my mind at Kenji and Miya’s apartment, but got lost in the hustle and bustle of moving in and getting accustomed to classes and whatnot.

The Doc processes this for a moment, idly tracing one of her stones along the table with a finger. I watch her move it in various patterns- back and forth, figure eight, up and down. It’s oddly hypnotic.

Deliberately so, most likely.

After several silent minutes, The Doc looks up at me and smiles, “Well, now we know what to work on next session, don’t we? I doubt it will be an issue so soon, and the Captain has been made aware of your PTSD, so he’ll be on watch as well. Plus, don’t sell the students here short; a lot of them have had experiences in classes they don’t like to remember –seizures, nervous spasms, phantom limb pains- the works. If something happens, they’ll understand.”

She has a point, on all counts. I’m not entirely at ease, but I do feel a bit reassured, at least. My physical therapist and counselor prepared me for joining the club, so I should be able to handle it.

Although….

“You’re right, but… there is something else, if I may?”

The Doc nods, “Go ahead.”

“…One of the club members has a disability that’s… it reminds me of my time… with Them.”

The Doc takes a few moments processing my somewhat ambiguous statement before she connects the dots and realization dawns.

“Oh,” she says, her expression neutral, “I see. And you’re worried this might be a trigger for you?”

I nod, “Even if we never spar, just looking at her makes my hairs stand on end, and she’s the only other second year in the club, and she might be the only other girl, and if I have to face her I don’t think I can-”

“Breathe,” The Doc instructs.

I obey, inhaling deeply, then exhaling.

Good obedient beaten dog.

Crap. I had almost worked myself up into a panic in my first therapy session.

Good job, brain. You really don’t want any cookies, do you?

I repeat the exercise a few more times. Inhale. Exhale. Rinse. Repeat. Wax on. Wax off.

Maybe I should cut back on my Wikipedia binging.

Crisis averted. This time.

“Sorry,” I mutter, lowering my head, “I shouldn’t let myself get worked up like that.”

“Look at me,” the Doc instructs.

I reluctantly look up. She’s smiling gently at me, and some of the built up tension in my shoulders and back loosens up again.

“You just averted an attack. That’s always good, right?”

“…I guess.”

“Not you guess. It is,” the Doc declares, “You’ve got a lot of strength in you, and I don’t mean physically. Well, not just physically,” her smile widens as she adds, “Come what may, we’ll get you through it, okay?”

I nod, “Okay. Thank you…Doc.”

Doc grins at me, “All part of the job, Kim-san. Why don’t we call it here, and I’ll see you after classes Saturday. That said, if you want to set up an emergency session, give me a call and we’ll make it happen, okay?”

I nod and stand up. Somewhere in the course of the session, I ate all the Pocky sticks, so I grab the empty box to throw out on the way while fidgeting my legs to ease out the pain from sitting.

Doc stands up as well. I give her a deep bow and thanks, and she grins as I walk out the door.

Well that could have gone better. Could have gone worse, too, I suppose.

I check the clock on the wall for the time. Still too early for dinner, so I guess I’ll go back to my room and do my homework. Mutou and Oomiya gave us a lot today. I think Mutou accidently combined two days of assignments, and Omiya is just a jerk who hates fun.

A battle has been fought, and is now over. Place your sword upon the ground, and rest in the temporal peace. After dozing in the warmth of a dream, a new day will begin. The days keep passing by... And we still chase the same star we once saw.

+++
Next Chapter

Baby steps, man.

Baby steps.
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
"You are absolutely insane. And entertaining." -griffon8

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