Ungraceful Reunion - An Emilogue (Chap 4 - Updated 2/20/19)

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Ungraceful Reunion - An Emilogue (Chap 4 - Updated 2/20/19)

Post by scratchminus » Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:00 pm

Fun Fact: Chapter 1 was started on October 28, 2015 and completed on June 27, 2017.

Hello hello all! A brief introduction of myself: I'm scratchminus, the writer of Stopping Short, an Emi fan fiction from 2 years ago. At the time I had said that I had another story in the works and would be releasing it soon. Clearly, that didn't happen. But here I am, 2 years later, finally giving what I said I would. Hopefully you all enjoy my newest story, and I'll try to stay consistent with my uploads this time!

As always, constructive criticism and feedback is welcome and highly encouraged. I think I've gotten better in the past 2 years (lol hopefully), but there's always room for even more improvement.

*NOTE* This story takes place many years after Emi's Good Ending.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Reunion
Chapter 2 - Thoughts Aflutter
Chapter 3 - Exertion
Chapter 4 - Disclosure

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter 1 - Reunion

The gentle, irregular thumping behind my chest rings in my ears, dulled ever so slightly by the noises around me. The small restaurant resting within the quiet town is just as it was years ago. Very nearly empty, it's no surprise that my heartbeat is readily audible despite the occasional footsteps and clatter of dishes.

As my gaze moves to the sky outside, my reason for being here floats back to the front of my mind.

An old friend had contacted me about a week ago to invite me to her birthday get together. She said it was intended to be a reunion of sorts between friends. I was confused at first, as this had been the first time she had gotten in touch with me in...years, probably? We definitely didn’t talk on a regular basis, although she would occasionally surprise me with a call out of the blue to cryptically ask how I’d been.

Despite our lack of communication, I very well couldn’t say no when I was completely free on the proposed date. Unsure of what else to do, I had reluctantly agreed to her chosen meeting time and place and now...

...here I am.

Through the window I can spot dark clouds forming in the distance. I doubt we'll be able to get out of here before a storm of some sorts hits.

Wonderful.

A multitude of thoughts run through my head as I wait for my companion to arrive.

Why would she just now invite me to a birthday get together after all these years? For what reason am I the only person she contacted in the first place?

When will my coffee- oh.

I'm pulled back to reality by a familiar freckled, yet no longer bespectacled waitress placing a steaming mug in front of me. The smell and heat radiating from the drink warm my body and manage to calm my nerves a bit. I'm unable to keep a grin from spreading across my face as fond memories of this place flood back to my mind in an instant.

"Thank you, Yuuko," I say, turning to the waitress to flash her an appreciative smile. In doing so, I quickly take in the sight of what had once been a terribly awkward young lady.

Before entering the building I had not been expecting a familiar face at all, much less the confident, beautiful woman whose eyes had lit up upon my entrance. The anxious uni student and part-time librarian I had known had evolved into someone else entirely and it's...it's a relief in a way to see that someone from Yamaku is doing so well, even if she wasn't a student.

We spend a few moments catching up once more, continuing our conversation from when I had first arrived. Yuuko appears to be doing well, though she's no longer the librarian at Yamaku. She says that she's found a job in the city nearby and only comes back to the Shanghai to help out on weekends.

However, before I can inquire about her current occupation we both notice movement near the front of the building. A small group files in and stands awkwardly by the entrance, clearly searching for someone to seat them. Delivering a hasty apology and a sincere promise that we'll catch up more later, the freckled waitress spins around on her heels and moves to help the new party. My eyes start to follow her as she goes, but I stop myself.

Easy there, Hisao. You do have a girlfriend, after all.

As Yuuko takes her leave and I take a sip of my coffee, I begin to wonder if I've changed in such a way as well. When people look at me do they see a somewhat successful and ambitious young man, or just a poor little boy with a bad heart, fearfully waiting for the inevitable...

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to come here after all. This place is dredging up old memories I’d rather leave buried.

I'm stirred from my thoughts at the sound of the door opening behind me. At the same time something nags at the back of my mind, as if urging me not to look towards the noise. Not quite sure what to make of this, I decide to ignore it and begin to turn around as I hear Yuuko’s voice ring out once more.

“Oh my goodness, it’s so great to see you after all these years!!”

As I spin, I expect to catch sight of a shaggy head of auburn hair and a thin frame with tied off sleeves. Instead, I’m met with an average height woman with toned legs and hair that is between a strawberry blonde and brunette hue. My mind takes a few seconds to process what I’m seeing before suddenly clicking. When it does, a feeling of dread overcomes me, soon followed by a wave of anger.

Thump thump thump...thump thump...

My pulse begins quickening rapidly and I reflexively clutch at my shirt, settling my hand onto the table to steady myself. Shutting my eyes and listening closely to the sound of my heart, I wait for things to return to normal.

Thump thump thump thump thump.

Why? Why is she here?

Thump thump thump...thump...

I could deal with any other part of my past right now, but why did it have to be her?

Thump...thump thump...thump...

Emi Ibarazaki…

Once my heart has resumed its usual irregular beat I open my eyes again and turn back to the front of the Shanghai. As I feared, Emi is still standing there and has now locked her gaze onto me. I’m unable to read her emotions as she keeps her face entirely neutral, but I’m willing to bet that she’s just as surprised as I am.

After a quick embrace with Yuuko and a murmuring of thanks to her, Emi slowly begins to make her way towards me. The fact that the shock of seeing her was enough to make my heart rate soar is worrying to say the least. I don’t exactly have high hopes for whatever is coming next.

Watching her slowly move closer to the booth I’m currently occupying, my mind shoots off in multiple directions at once. It’s been years, but here she is, walking towards me like a wary animal closing in on an unwelcome guest in its habitat. No doubt Rin invited her to this event as well, and I kick myself for not realizing just how much sense that makes. How I didn’t consider that earlier is beyond me, but that no longer matters. As she strides closer, her neutral facade falls momentarily and I detect a hint of anger in her expression.

No doubt she’s not happy to see me, but then why is she even approaching me at all?

I’m not even left with enough time to ponder the question as the woman is now directly in front of me, her bright green eyes staring blankly into my own. If she wants to do something like punch me or yell at me she doesn’t show it. Instead, she speaks quietly.

“Hello, Hisao.”

Still not sure what to make of this, I politely return her greeting.

“Hello, Emi.”

Neither of us moves at first, maintaining eye contact for longer than what most would consider normal. After the moment passes, I gesture for Emi to take a seat across from me. As she moves into the empty space my eyes glance across her features, taking in the new curves and contours of her body. She’s starting to look a lot more like her mother in more ways than one, and it’s certainly not a bad thing. At the same time, however, her maturing only makes this encounter more frightening...

Calm down, Hisao. Your uneasiness is getting the better of you.

Not to mention the fact that this is Emi Ibarazaki sitting across from me.

While I’ve been stuck in my own head, Emi has been idly (albeit somewhat nervously) looking out the window. Rather than let things continue awkwardly like this, I opt to say something that I feel should be said.

“Look, Emi…” I begin. “I know that the last time we spoke it was definitely not on good terms, but-”

“We don’t need to talk about that, Hisao,” she cuts me off, shifting uncomfortably in the booth. “It was a long time ago, and it’s not important anymore.”

I’m inclined to disagree, as our interaction would not be this stilted if what happened wasn’t important. However, I realize that would do more harm than good and instead just finish what I was originally saying.

“Regardless of whether it’s important or not, I think we both need to make an effort to put that behind us. Today is for Rin, and we can’t ruin that because of events that occurred nearly 7 years ago.”

Emi opens her mouth as if to speak, but then promptly closes it. I lean in a little to encourage her to talk, and when she does it’s with a decisive nod of her head.

“Yes, I agree.”

I lean back into my seat and sigh. “Alright then, good.” Unsure of what else to do and not wanting to sit here quietly until Rin arrives, I attempt to engage in small talk. “So what have you been up to as of late?”

The woman across from me fidgets some more before answering.

“Just...doing what I’ve always done,” she replies. “Nothing much has really changed, I suppose.”

“I take that to mean you’re still running?”

“Yeah. Or at least that’s part of it.”

I raise an eyebrow questioningly, silently prompting Emi to elaborate. Before she can, however, we’re interrupted by the opening of the front door again.

“Oh, it’s been so long! How have you been, Rin?”

I breathe a sigh of relief, glad that the awkward air will now clear since our final party member has arrived. Glancing across the table confirms that Emi is feeling exactly the same as I am.

As Yuuko catches up with Rin, I observe her from a distance. Once again, it’s shocking just how much this person has changed over the years. What used to be a frail, spacey, shaggy haired girl is now a healthier looking and only slightly shaggy haired woman. That spaced out expression still remains somewhat, but even from here I can spot more emotion than what Rin used to display.

About a minute goes by before Yuuko points Rin in the direction of our table. She leaves with what I assume to be a quiet thank you and begins heading our way, her tied off sleeves swinging gently as she walks. Once she reaches the table, Rin takes a seat next to Emi and greets us both.

“Hello Emi, Hisao,” the woman says in a voice that’s surprisingly more cheerful than monotone.

“Hey, Rin! Happy Birthday!” Emi squeals, leaning in to wrap her in a tight embrace. She hesitates slightly, likely afraid that Rin may kick her, but disregards that possibility and entangles the woman in her arms.

“Happy 27th, Rin,” I say, offering her a warm smile.

Rin smiles back and thanks us both, though she seems to be studying me for some reason. I raise an eyebrow questioningly which causes the woman to shrug and avert her gaze.

“It’s great to see you two again,” I start, looking between the two people sitting across from me. “But I have to ask, why did you make it seem like I was the only one you invited, Rin?”

“That’s true, you didn’t tell me that Hisao would be coming either,” Emi adds.

Rin simply shrugs again. “It didn’t seem important at the time.”

Emi and I exchange an awkward glance, silently agreeing to drop the subject. However, before either of us can change the topic, Yuuko trots over and asks if we’re ready to order. We all quickly request our usuals (though I refrain from getting another cup of coffee, since I honestly shouldn’t be having caffeine in the first place) and she bows in response, stating that she’ll be back soon with our drinks.

As Yuuko makes her leave, Rin jump starts the conversation by asking how we’ve both been. Once again, Emi and I exchange a weird glance and she nods as if giving me permission to go first.

“Well, I guess the biggest thing is that I’m teaching high school physics now,” I start. “Mutou really seemed to think I had a knack for science, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least give it a shot. I wasn’t really cut out for actual lab work, so I figured the next option would be to teach a science. And here I am.”

The women congratulate me on my position and the spotlight shifts over to Emi.

“Gosh, what’s to say?” she says with an awkward smile. “I’ve just been doing a lot of running like always. Mostly just trying to find ways to incorporate it into a career for myself, though I think I may have finally found it…”

Emi trails off, presumably thinking of what to say next. During this silence Yuuko delivers our drinks to us. Emi’s is some bubbly concoction (a smoothie is the closest guess I can make) with a pink color that’s reminiscent of Misha’s hair. Rin receives a steaming cup of dark tea, while I simply get water. We all offer our thanks and Yuuko accepts them, moving off to attend to other tables.

Unfortunately, the conversation does not resume after the freckled waitress disappears, leaving us in an awkward silence that Emi clearly isn’t about to break. After she stays quiet for a while, Rin nonchalantly interjects.

“Well with your performance at the Olympics I’d imagine you could take your career wherever you’d like.”

At the mention of the Olympics the air turns to ice. Emi’s expression falls quite noticeably and I recede further into my seat, avoiding eye contact with either of them. I quickly realize that our reaction is not only extremely obvious, but quite rude to Rin. Returning to my previous state, I attempt to get the conversation rolling again. Before I can, however, Emi excuses herself to the restroom and practically darts from the table as Rin scoots out of her way.

The instant Emi is out of earshot, Rin speaks. It’s so perfectly calculated that I’d almost guess Rin did it on purpose...almost.

“You’re being cold with Emi,” she states, the familiar monotone returning to her voice.

“I am not,” I retort, taken aback. “It’s just kind of...odd seeing her after all this time, I guess. I’d figured that after the incident all those years ago we would never cross paths again.”

Rin snorts at this and dismisses the topic by leading into a new one.

“So how are you, Hisao?”

Not quite sure what she means by this, I repeat what I said earlier about my current job and what I’ve been doing as of late.

“Actually,” I add. “I also met someone at the school I’ve been teaching at and we started dating about 6 months ago. She’s an awesome person, you guys would probably ge-”

Rin cuts me off mid-sentence. “That’s all well and good, but how have you YOURSELF been doing, Hisao?”

Caught off-guard (for what must be the twelfth time this afternoon), I fumble around for an answer. Unable to find one, I give a relenting shrug.

“You don’t have to understand yourself,” Rin explains, knowingly. “But at the very least, you need to know how you feel.”

Until now, I hadn’t given much thought to my current position in life. I’d always settled for being “content” without even considering anything else, probably because it was just the easiest thing to do after...well, after everything went to shit.

“I’d like to think I’m content with my life,” I mutter in response to Rin, who stares blankly at me. Her eyes betray a hint of discontent with this answer, but she doesn’t press it and instead replies with a sage nod of her head.

Glad that the topic seems to have finally left us, I ask Rin just what she’s been up to for all these years.

“Art,” she says, shrugging.

Well it’s good to know not much has changed…

As if on cue, Yuuko returns with our orders. It’s practically like I stepped into the past as the familiar set of sandwiches and cake slide into place on the table. We thank Yuuko and she bows once more before swirling away.

Both Rin and I recede into our minds for a while, quietly sipping our drinks and enjoying the silence until Emi returns, looking much less pale than when she left.

The rest of the time at the Shanghai is a blur, much of it filled with Emi’s babbling. She briefly talks about wanting to coach high school or college teams permanently, but everything else is simply Emi-speed-smalltalk.

As the conversation races forward (while simultaneously remaining perfectly stagnant), I begin to notice the dark clouds from earlier moving closer to us and the city. If that isn’t a sign that we should go home now, I don’t know what is. I ungracefully cut Emi off mid sentence.

“Not to interrupt, but I think we should get going soon,” I say. “A storm’s definitely about to hit and I’m sure none of us want to be caught in it when it does.”

Rin and Emi look outside for what must be the first time since they got here, as they seem visibly surprised at how much closer the dark clouds have gotten. Both of them nod in agreement and we stand to leave.

“A taxi is on its way to get me since I don’t live near any bus routes,” Rin states flatly. “Should be here in a few minutes, so I’ll wait inside. You two be safe on your way back.”

Emi pouts at this, clearly not wanting to say goodbye to Rin. She leans in and wraps her arms around the auburn haired woman, also offering her farewell and telling her to stay safe. Rin’s only response is a slight nod of her head.

After they break apart Rin turns to me. She walks over and flops against my torso, a gesture which I understand is the closest she can get to hugging me. I reciprocate by gently wrapping my arms around her and telling her to be safe as well. Once we part Rin gives me a look that I can’t quite decipher, followed by a quick glance down the road.

“I assume you both took the bus from the city,” Rin says. “You should probably hurry if you don’t want to miss it.”

Oh no…

“I didn’t realize you lived in the city as well, Emi.”

“Yup,” she replies with what I can only assume is fake cheeriness. “Looks like we’ll be taking the same bus back!”

“Well we’d better get going before the rain starts up,” I decide, moving towards the exit. “Goodbye, Rin!”

Emi parrots my farewell and we exit the Shanghai together, starting in the direction of the bus stop. As we step outside the wind greets us with a chill that definitely says “prepare for a storm.” Emi speeds up her stride and I follow suit, keeping pace with her as best I can. I feel the uneven beating of my heart steadily increase as we move, but I ignore it. It’s easy to get used to when it happens so frequently.

Before long we round a corner and see our stop. The bus sits there with both doors open, its engine rumbling deeply while it waits to depart. Emi transitions into a jog to make sure the driver doesn’t leave without us while I follow closely behind her, my pulse rising a small amount with each step I take.

We reach the vehicle just as the final passenger boards. The driver nods as we enter, indicating that we barely made it. Once we take our seats the doors swing shut and the bus lurches away from the curb. As if on cue, rain begins pattering against the windows.

“Looks like we made it just in time,” I comment, watching as the droplets streak down the glass. “I’d bet this turns into a downpour in a matter of minutes.”

“Hopefully not,” Emi murmurs. “I’ve still gotta transfer to the A bus after this.”

“Whoa wait, the A? That’s a pretty big distance to walk in this weather.”

The rain outside begins to come down harder, as if confirming my statement.

“Yeah,” the woman beside me sighs. “But the final stop for this bus is as close as I can get to the A. And even then it’s still a few blocks from the A’s last stop to my apartments.”

I frown when she says this, realizing that my good nature is about to outweigh my common sense. Before I can talk myself out of it, I bite my lip and trudge forward.

“If you want you can wait out the storm in my place,” I offer.

Emi smiles politely and turns down my attempt at hospitality. “I really appreciate it, Hisao, but I’ll be fine. I’ve made the trip in worse weather than this.”

I sit silently for a moment, watching as water comes down at a steadily increasing rate. It’s clear that it’s only going to get worse at this point. Emi is obviously thinking the same thing that I am, as I can see her brow furrowing as she stares out the window.

A crack of lightning illuminates the sky, followed by a deep rumbling of thunder. Emi winces, seemingly dreading the trip she intends to make.

I decide to push a tiny bit.

“Are you sure you’ll be alright walking that far? It’s seriously coming down out there…”

“I’ll be fine,” Emi huffs, staring down at her feet. “Besides, I’d hate to be a burden to you.”

I assure her that she would be nothing of the sort, but something tells me that she’s declining my offer for reasons other than not wanting to burden me.

Rather than press the issue further, I accept her response and lean back into my seat. As I gaze out the window into the roaring storm, my mind churns with the wind. Memories, regrets, and pain from the past flow through me. I can practically feel the same thing resonating from Emi as she sits next to me with a downcast expression.

What’s wrong with us? Everything happened years ago, why can’t we just move on?

Before I’m able to further ponder this question, the bus rolls to a halt and opens its doors for my stop. As I move to stand Emi follows suit. I almost question her before realizing that this would be the closest spot for her to transfer to the other bus from. Without a word we exit the vehicle and step into the torrent of wind and rain.

The instant we set foot into the monsoon it’s clear that Emi is having second thoughts about making the trek to her second bus. She looks at me with large eyes and already soaked hair, water streaming down her features.

“C’mon,” I declare firmly. “You’re not walking home in this.”

Emi simply nods and follows me as I turn on my heels, jogging off in the direction of my apartment. I can see it from the bus stop so it isn’t too far, but I have no desire to stay in this weather any longer than necessary.

I point out which building is mine to Emi and speed up my jog. She does the same, only her jog practically becomes a full out sprint. In a split second she’s pulled ahead of me as I struggle to keep up. Being caught in this rain for longer doesn’t sound particularly enticing, so I do my best to stay near her.

By the time we’ve reached the stairwell my breath is coming out in ragged gasps. Despite my best effort to hide it, Emi has clearly noticed and has a worried look in her eyes. I ignore her and stumble past the stairs, heading for the elevator. Attempting to walk up five flights right now would be suicide.

I press the call button and the doors slide open immediately, inviting us into their drab interior. We enter, water puddling on the floor at our feet as I hit “5” and we move upward. The ride is just long enough to create an awkward tension between the two of us. The only sound is my erratic breathing echoing off the metal walls.

The elevator slows and the doors open, prompting us to exit into my hallway. I lead the way with Emi following closely, bringing us both to my apartment just a few doors down.

“Here we are,” I say as I unlock the door. “Make yourself at home, I’ll get some towels so we can dry off.”

I push through the entrance and veer off towards the bathroom, motioning towards the living room so Emi knows where to go. Immediately upon closing the door I stumble over a bit, supporting myself on the sink. As I gaze at myself in the mirror it’s clear that I’m in pretty poor shape. I wait for the thumping of my heart to settle.

Once I feel the rhythm of my heart return to normal, I splash some water in my face and give my cheeks a few smacks.

You’re fine, Hisao. You’re fine.

Satisfied with my condition, I grab a few towels and move back into the living room. When I return Emi is exactly where I left her, her eyes slowly scanning my apartment.

“Hey,” I say, waving a hand in front of her face. “Anybody home?”

She jumps a tiny bit, clearly lost in space the moment before.

“T-thank you!” she blurts out, taking the towel from my outstretched hand.

“You seemed a bit distracted there. Not sure what in here could do that to someone.”

I chuckle as I say this, hoping to lighten the air. My attempt at humor, however, goes right over Emi’s head.

“Sorry, it’s just…” she murmurs under her breath. “This reminds me of your old dorm room.”

This statement makes me falter, my smile drooping slightly. Glancing around the place, I can see why she’d say that. The walls and surfaces are barren, devoid of any decorations or accessory furniture to catch your eye. The only notable object in the room is a picture of my family, placed in a basic frame, perched on the wall above the couch.

“Eh, I’m just not one for decorating,” I say, attempting to shut down the situation.

Emi stays quiet, her eyes fixated on the ground.

“Hey, is something wrong?” I ask. “You look like something’s troubling you.”

She looks up at me and opens her mouth, but quickly closes it and bites her lip. I take a seat on the couch and invite her to sit down too, prompting her to say whatever’s on her mind. Emi accepts this invitation, pausing for a moment longer before speaking up.

“I know you’ve probably been fine taking care of yourself these past years, Hisao...but you didn’t seem to be doing too well a few minutes ago.”

Instantly I feel my pulse increase, the sound of my heart rising in my ears. I try to push down the irritation that bubbles up at her statement. I know that her worry comes from a place of caring, but regardless her words...they almost offend me, in a way.

“I noticed that you didn’t want to take the stairs,” she continues. “It just made me wonder...if you’re doing alri-”

“You don’t have to worry about me,” I interrupt. “I’m doing fine.”

My tone causes Emi to back off and eye me apologetically. Rather than dwelling on it, I usher in a new topic of conversation.

“So I know you still love running, but what made you want to go into coaching?”

She bounces back, seemingly eager to move away from the previous tension. “Well I can’t keep running competitively forever,” Emi begins. “So I thought that maybe, insteading of only focusing on myself, I could try to help others reach their goals too.”

Her eyes seem to light up as she speaks and I can feel that fire rising inside her like it used to years ago.

“Whether it’s simply getting healthy or moving up to compete in something as big as the Olympics,” she continues, determination flowing from her voice. “There’s an odd sort of pride and satisfaction I feel when I know I’ve helped someone succeed or improve in areas they’re weak in.”

Emi turns her gaze to me and it softens noticeably as she says this. I can clearly see the pity in her eyes and it makes me want to vomit. Of all people, I thought she would never be one to give somebody such a look.

The woman shifts around nervously, clearly wanting to say something but not knowing how to. After a moment she opens her mouth.

“Have you...been keeping up with your running recently?”

The question doesn’t surprise me. I figured she would ask sooner or later, especially after our run from the bus stop. Rather than respond, I turn my gaze towards the ground, listening to the storm rage on outside the apartment.

“I know it’s not exactly my place to say this, but...you should really try to maintain a schedule. It’s important that you-”

At this point I tune her out. I’ve heard all of these words a thousand times before, but hearing them from Emi causes my temper to rise even further. My fists clench tightly and I can feel my pulse quickening every second.

Maybe it is ultimately my fault for stopping running, but regardless…

Before I can stop myself I burst, interrupting Emi.

“Of all the people to lecture me about my health, I never thought it’d be the one who fucked my routine in the first place.”

Emi’s eyes widen with my comment. A look of shock covers her face for a few moments before turning to bitterness and regret.

“I’m sorry for trying to help,” she mutters.

A silent tension quickly fills the room. The two of us sit in this state for what feels like forever, listening to the crackling of thunder and the pelting of rain.

After a while I begin to wonder if I should apologize for being so rude.

Warranted or not, that may have been unnecessary…

I continue to consider if I should break the silence, but before I can even make a decision Emi does it for me.

“You need to stay healthy, Hisao.”

I’m taken aback as she says this, having thought that we were done with this conversation. I start to respond, but Emi cuts me off.

“I don’t care if you don’t want to hear it. It’s important, Hisao. And not only for your sake.”

I lean back in my seat as her words echo through my head. As much as I want to fight her on the issue, she’s absolutely correct. This time, instead of retaliating, I give her a proper response.

“I know I need to get back into a routine,” I sigh. “But after...everything that happened, it was so hard to see running as a way to clear my mind. Instead it just became an activity that dredged up bad memories. Not to mention that staying consistent is much harder without a partner.”

Emi’s brow furrows at my statement. “Well, maybe I could…” she pauses, mulling something over in her head.

“What is it?” I ask, attempting to coax the words out of her.

Instead of finishing her sentence, the woman shakes her head firmly. “No, I’m sorry. I don’t want to overstep my bounds.”

As Emi says this, the storm outside begins to subside. The thunder has stopped, and all that remains is a light drizzle falling from the overcast skies. She seems to take this as her cue to leave, slowly lifting herself from my couch and turning towards the door.

I stand and follow her to the entrance, grabbing a spare umbrella on the way.

“Here, take this,” I say, extending the object to her. “It’ll actually be useful since the rain’s much lighter now.”

Emi hesitates, looking like she wants to reject the offer. However, she takes the umbrella from my hand and flashes me a polite smile.

“Thank you, Hisao.”

“You remember the way back, right?”

“Yeah, I’ve got it,” Emi declares, her usual cheeriness slowly returning. “I’ll...see you around, okay?”

In the back of my mind I hope not, as this encounter has brought nothing but stress.

“Of course,” I reply. “Get home safely.”

“Bye, Hisao.”

With our farewells exchanged, Emi sets off down the hall, her feet clicking lightly against the floor as she goes. I stand outside my apartment for another second before moving back inside.

Although it’s not even late yet, the events of the day have significantly drained me. After downing my requirement of pills I flop into bed, basking in the softness of the mattress and the silky sheets as they embrace me.

I can only hope that tomorrow is a better day.
Last edited by scratchminus on Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:53 am, edited 11 times in total.

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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emi Epilogue (Back from the dead

Post by Zerebos » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:33 pm

scratchminus wrote:Emi simply nods and follows me as I turn on my heels, jogging off in the direction of my apartments. I can see them from the bus stop so it isn’t too far, but I have no desire to stay in this weather any longer than necessary.
I think it should be "my apartment" or "my apartment complex/building" then "I can see it..."

Overall I thought this was a really interesting read. You say it takes place after Emi's Good Ending, but it feels like the bad one. Although there is a 7 year gap so something bad may have happened we don't know about. :wink:

The Rin here seems to be able to form coherent sentences and is not the norm for her. I like this change a lot. Although you probably chalk it up to maturing over 7 years, I'm just gunna be happy I can understand her. :lol:

I'm curious to see how Emi and Hisao will encounter each other again, this one didn't go too smoothly; a sly move by Rin.

Ambush
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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emi Epilogue (Back from the dead

Post by Ambush » Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:43 pm

Even people with social interaction issues tend to mature and work around their challenges as they grow older. It would be strange for none of the characters to have changed. If anything, at first glance Hisao seems to be the least altered.

Most enjoyable. I look forward to the next chapter.

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scratchminus
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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emi Epilogue (Back from the dead

Post by scratchminus » Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:49 am

Zerebos wrote:I think it should be "my apartment" or "my apartment complex/building" then "I can see it..."
I didn't even notice that while editing, thank you for pointing it out!
Zerebos wrote:Overall I thought this was a really interesting read. You say it takes place after Emi's Good Ending, but it feels like the bad one. Although there is a 7 year gap so something bad may have happened we don't know about. :wink:
I'm glad to hear it! A lot of things may be chalked up to it being years in the future (it's actually 9 years, I think most of them are 18 in the VN), but I do also want to play around with events that were "skipped over" to show why the characters act certain ways. Not sure how well it's going to go, but I'm hoping for the best.
Ambush wrote:Even people with social interaction issues tend to mature and work around their challenges as they grow older. It would be strange for none of the characters to have changed. If anything, at first glance Hisao seems to be the least altered.

Most enjoyable. I look forward to the next chapter.
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it! And yeah, I'm kinda trying to go for an ultimately matured cast here, though Hisao is going to be a little different. I can't really give anything away, but it has to do with what happened during the time skip.

azumeow
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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emi Epilogue (Back from the dead

Post by azumeow » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:23 pm

....

Well, that's one thing I didn't see coming.

I wonder how Emi "fucked" Hisao's routine in the first place...
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emi Epilogue (Back from the dead

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:33 am

Very interesting and well-written first chapter with lots of hints about past events that I will look forward to being resolved.

And if Rin planned all of this, she should be looking for job-openings in the "evil mastermind" section. :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
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.

Papa_Shin
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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emi Epilogue (Back from the dead

Post by Papa_Shin » Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:13 am

Really great chapter. It's great to see you back! Can't wait to read the next part :)

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Oddball
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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emi Epilogue (Back from the dead

Post by Oddball » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:13 pm

Nice. I'm looking forward to seeing where this all goes.
Not Dead Yet

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scratchminus
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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emi Epilogue (Back from the dead

Post by scratchminus » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:29 am

Chapter 2 - Thoughts Aflutter

“That does not look anything like an elephant.”

“C’mon Hisao, you’ve gotta use your imagination!”

“No, I think you’ve gotta get your eyes checked, Tsu.”

This comment earns me a light punch in the arm and a pout from the woman sitting next to me. I chuckle, savoring her expression.

Sometimes I just don’t know how I handle this woman’s cuteness.

I gaze into the sky, taking a deep breath and revelling in the early spring weather. A light breeze blows around us, reminding me why I’ve come to love this season. As I bask in the setting sun’s warmth, Tsu slides closer, resting her head on my shoulder and cuddling against me.

“If every day were like this I don’t think I’d ever be unhappy again,” I murmur.

Tsu lifts her head in my direction. “Is that your roundabout way of saying I make you happy?”

I lean down and gently place a kiss on her forehead. “I’m sure you know the answer to that question.”

“Told you this picnic was a good idea,” Tsu replies, smiling as she returns her head to my shoulder.

While we sink back into a comfortable position, my eyes are drawn to a couple of teenagers throwing a frisbee nearby. The activity is so casual to the point at which I find myself envious of these kids. For me, any physical activity is met with caution these days. After my attack, the only time I could really afford to freely exert myself was when I had a regular running schedule with Emi.



My mood falls when she comes to mind. The events of yesterday all come flooding back to me, along with the anger I felt at her words.

You didn’t seem to be doing too well a few minutes ago.

Have you...been keeping up with your running recently?

You need to stay healthy, Hisao.

“Hisao, are you alright?”

I’m wrenched from my own mind by Tsu’s worried voice. I must’ve been tensing up or something, as her expression is filled with concern.

“I’m fine,” I sigh, forcing my muscles to relax.

“No, what you are is a terrible liar. Seriously, is something wrong?”

I want nothing more than to drop the subject, but doing so would only worry her further. I settle for telling a half truth.

“The meeting with my old friends yesterday...I dunno, it just didn’t go as planned.”

Tsu tilts her head quizzically, silently asking me to go on.

“Some past stuff came up and we didn’t exactly leave on good terms. I had hoped we were already through with it, but apparently that wasn’t the case.”

My girlfriend purses her lips for a moment, pondering my explanation. She seems to struggle finding a response, but I know it won’t be long before her optimism kicks.

Like clockwork, the next words from her mouth look for positivity anywhere they can.

“But at the end of the day, no matter what happens, they’re still your friends, right?”

I roll the thought around before saying anything. Truthfully, I’m not sure how I see Emi at all now. The resentment I felt towards her after the Olympics fiasco has undoubtedly faded, but I can’t shake these lingering feelings of bitterness.

I find myself thinking back to 20 year old Hisao. All things considered, I was at a rather healthy point in my life. A point where, when someone asked me how I was, I could genuinely say “I’m doing well.”

And then it was ruined.

More often than I’d like to admit, I think about who’s to blame for everything. While it’s obvious that we’re both at fault for how things ended, the catalyst for it all is...unclear.

When did I become this kind of person? Constantly trying to figure out who’s to blame? Why does that matter?

I shake my head, as if doing so will send these troublesome thoughts sailing away.

“I suppose they are,” I say finally, hoping the answer will satisfy Tsu.

Her smile washes away any trace of anger I felt.

Right. Why focus on the past when the present is this bright?

The two of us sit in silence for a while longer, enjoying each other’s company and observing people as the park slowly empties. The sun is almost out of sight now, the last of its light receding into the horizon as the moon and stars take its place.

“We should probably head back soon,” I suggest. “You’re spending the night, right?”

“Only if you’ll allow it, big man,” Tsu teases, putting a hand against my cheek and slowly running it down to my chest.

The movement tickles a bit and makes me blush.

“O-of course,” I stammer.

This ability of hers to fluster me is something else. To this day I still don’t understand how she can switch so quickly between an innocent school teacher and a complete seductress.

After packing up our blanket and the remaining bits of food into a backpack, we set off towards my apartment complex. Streetlights slowly flicker to life as we leave the park, marking the true arrival of nighttime. We probably should have left sooner, but it’s no big deal. As we walk, I feel Tsu slide her hand into mine. Our fingers intertwine, and I give her a reassuring little squeeze.

“Hey, Hisao?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you ever think about how all of this started?”

I raise an eyebrow at her statement. “You mean how we started dating?”

Tsu nods her head, eyeing me with curiosity.

“I think about how you used to hate me when I first started teaching at the same school as you.”

Her eyes fly open as I say this and I can spot a faint red slowly creeping across her face. “I-I never hated you!” she exclaims. “I was just...jealous of how good you were at teaching right when you began.”

“I suppose the kids did take a liking to me pretty quickly,” I boast jokingly. This earns me a sidelong glare from my girlfriend.

“They really did, and it just looked like everything was so natural for you. I dunno, I guess I got caught up in that and it frustrated me because of how long I took to get settled.”

“So what made you change your mind about me?”

Tsu ponders this for a moment, looking up to the night sky.

“I suppose, at a point, that jealousy turned into admiration,” she murmurs. “And once I was done seeing you as a ‘rival’ I realized you were actually kinda cute…”

“Go on.”

“Oh shut up,” Tsu laughs, giving me a playful punch in the arm. “You’re lucky I made the first move, because God knows when you would’ve done it.”

“Hey, I was ready to ask you out at any time!” I counter in an attempt to defend myself. “I just needed it to be the right moment!”

The soft giggles of the woman next to me fill the air. This, coupled with the quiet sounds of the city, makes me completely at ease. It almost reminds me of when I was a kid left to his own devices, exploring the city at night without parental supervision. Although now, I’m not the only one.

“Six months is quite a while, isn’t it?” I say, looking over at Tsu.

A small smile grows on her face. “And going on seven. Feels like it’s been so much longer, though.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“I like you—at least a little bit—so I’m willing to say that it is.”

“What a coincidence,” I reply. “I was thinking the exact same thing.”

We share a laugh, our hands held tightly together as we walk alongside one another.

====================

The gentle hum of the television and quiet splashing of the shower are the only noises that echo throughout my apartment. The soft lighting and repetitive noises lull me into a state of numbness. It’s hard to tell if I’m even awake at this point.

The shower water suddenly stops, snapping me back into reality. I can hear Tsu stepping out onto the tile to dry off; before long she’s out of the bathroom and gesturing for me to head in. Lifting myself from the couch, I move over to her and plant a soft kiss on her cheek.

“I’ll be out in 10 minutes. Try not to fall asleep before I’m done.”

“You’re so loud when you come in, you’d probably wake me up anyway,” Tsu responds, sticking her tongue out at me.

“Exactly, so don’t fall asleep,” I retort, stepping into the bathroom and closing the door.

“Or maybe just try to be quiet for once!” she calls from the other side.

I scoff at her statement, turning on the faucet and stripping down quickly. The warm water relaxes me immediately. I slowly inhale and exhale, allowing the stress from the weekend to flow away.

As I wash myself I think about everything that’s happened one last time. Maybe this stuff shouldn’t be on my mind as much as it is, but I can’t seem to shake it. Especially now, after my conversation with Tsu, there’s a particular question running through my mind over and over.

Could Emi and I ever be friends again?

It seems almost silly to me that an ex-couple couldn’t at some point put aside their differences and make up. However, our situation is a little different—Emi and I broke up on pretty bad terms, and then we completely cut contact. Our anger towards each other had nearly 6 years to fester. While I’m sure we both moved past it at a point, being forced to interact again without warning definitely showed that neither one of us is particularly fond of the other.

I turn off the water and exit the shower. The silence of the bathroom magnifies my thoughts, interrupted only by my wet feet padding across the tile. The sound seems to bounce off of the walls and surround me even after I’ve stopped moving. I hastily dry myself off, eager to get into bed and lose myself in the bliss of sleep.

Upon leaving the bathroom, I’m greeted by the noise of my wet footsteps once more.

Okay, my apartment doesn’t echo that badly. What the hell is making that noise?

I tread lightly towards my bedroom. The squelching sound gradually gets louder as I approach, reaching its peak directly in front of the door. After taking a deep breath I push through, already having a good idea of what’s happening and wondering if it’s right for me to interrupt.

As I enter the room my vision is shrouded in darkness; the only light comes from the moon which shines dimly through the curtains. Tsu is splayed on out the bed, her figure nearly impossible to see. I can just barely make out that she’s wearing one of my t-shirts (which is quite oversized on her) and that her panties are rolled down to her ankles. Though only her silhouette is immediately visible, the soft gasps and continued squelching is enough of an indication of what’s going on.

I stand still in the doorway, somewhat unsure of what to do. Before I can make a decision, Tsu notices me and lets out a startled yelp.

“H-Hisao!”

I want to respond but can’t seem to find the words to do so with. Instead of continuing to look for them, I force out the first thing that comes to my mind.

“Are you masturbating in my bed?”

Having calmed down from the initial scare I gave her, Tsu’s face turns devious. There’s a glint in her eyes that says she’s about to start toying with me.

“You say that like you’d stop me if I said yes,” she purrs across the room.

I open my mouth, but again find myself without a response. This isn’t exactly the type of question I answer on a typical day. Rather than stand here and ponder what the correct response to this would be, I choose to give in to her (and ultimately my own) desires.

I make my way to the bed and climb in, perching myself directly above Tsu. Without hesitation, I lean in and begin kissing her. Though I try to start soft, Tsu is clearly already riled up, as she quickly turns my delicate embrace into something much more heated. Her tongue works its way into my mouth, seeking my own and wrapping around it once it’s found. She pulls our bodies together and I feel the warmth of her crotch press against me.

We continue like this for a while until I decide to one-up her assault on my mouth. Moving away from her lips, I begin working my way down Tsu’s body; a gentle nibble at her neck, multiple kisses down her collarbone, culminating in my tongue flicking at her nipples. The action causes her to shiver a bit, digging her fingers ever so slightly into my back.

My heartbeat echoes in my ears as I pleasure Tsu, gradually moving on from her breasts to her crotch. She’s been exposed throughout this, her panties still around her ankles, leading to a steady collection of fluids on my sheets. In the back of my mind I think about how I’m gonna clean the mattress if it soaks through, but quickly re-immerse myself in satisfying the woman in front of me.

Our foreplay progresses with Tsu and I returning each other’s favors until we’re both nearly breathless. I lean back on the headboard, already physically drained from the activity. My eyes are closed, but I hear shuffling around and feel something press against my waist. When I open them again, I’m greeted by Tsu straddling me and flashing a sly grin my way.

“What do you think you’re doing, Hisao?” she pants.

“...taking a break?”

Tsu leans down until her lips are mere inches away from my ear, her warm breath tickling my skin as she speaks.

“Well you should know that it’s rude to get someone excited without following through,” she whispers, her voice practically oozing.

Her voice coupled with the alluring gaze in her eyes sends chills down my spine. While I’m used to Tsu’s “healthy sex drive”, for lack of a better phrase, this is more intense than I’ve ever seen her before. It’s refreshing, in a way. I’ve spent so long opting to be comfortable that it feels nice to just...let go.

So we let go.

Time passes with no bearing on us. The minutes tick by as we gradually lose ourselves in each other. We change positions impatiently, unwilling to be relegated to any one style. Our bodies mesh together with the sweat covering our skin; we pant in unison, each thrust sending waves of ecstasy through us and bringing us closer to our limits.

What time is it?

The question passes through my mind, but is immediately lost in a sea of emotions. My pulse rings unevenly in my ears as our tempo increases. I suddenly realize that for the entire night, regardless of how long it’s been, Tsu has been taking the lead. In fact, it’s always been like that. Maybe for once…

In a moment of overwhelming lust I reach out and grab Tsu’s shoulders. Gently yet hastily, I push her forward until she’s moved from her reverse cowgirl position atop me to one in which she’s on all fours in front of me. The action clearly takes her by surprise, a quiet gasp escaping her lips as her hands hit the mattress.

“This is new,” Tsu exhales, grinning at me over her shoulder.

I respond with a sly smirk and our motion resumes. The feeling of taking the reins is odd at first, but my body quickly finds a rhythm. Tsu seems to be enjoying herself as well, her pleasured moans filling the room and edging me forward.

Our pace quickens even further. My heart thumps wildly and my vision begins to blur as I come closer to my limit. Tsu seems to be at hers as well, her breaths coming out in ragged gasps between moans and sighs. I hear her whisper that she’s at her peak and I push forward, ready to meet her there.

...

Without warning, a heavy fatigue falls over me. The edges of my blurred vision slowly fill with red. I find myself unable to keep our motion; I don’t think I have control of my limbs anymore. Despite my attempts to move, all I’m able to do is push off of Tsu and land roughly on my back. My hand instinctively rushes to my chest, clutching it while I pray for this pain to stop.

Why...why me?

I can faintly hear Tsu’s voice calling out to me, asking what’s wrong. She sounds worried.

We’ve done this before. So why now?

Tsu’s crying now. I want to say something, to calm her down and tell her it’s okay, but all I can focus on right now is the red shrouding my vision. I close my eyes and attempt to steady my breathing as much as I can in my current state.

Why do I always end up doing things like this? Dammit, why can’t I ever keep the people I care about from worrying about me?

A few moments pass and I feel my pulse begin to fall. Though my vision is still blurred, the red has receded and feeling has started to return to my body. I loosen my grip on my chest and exhale slowly.

Relax, Hisao. You made it.

After I’ve taken my time recovering, I pry my eyes open. Tsu’s face is the first thing I see. She’s sitting beside me, her cell phone in one hand while the other rests on the arm that was clutching my chest. Tears are streaming down her face as she stifles her sobs and stares down at me.

“Are you okay, Hisao?” she chokes out.

I nod, unable to bring myself to speak.

This causes Tsu to break down completely. Her quiet sobs become loud and pained, interrupted only by her forceful gasps. She leans down and wraps her arms underneath me, cradling my head in her hands while she cries. With the little energy I have left, I reach up and place my hands on her back reassuringly.

“Please don’t ever scare me like that again, okay?”

“I...I’m sorry,” I mutter, upset with myself for allowing this to happen.

We remain like this for a few minutes. Tsu’s bawling slowly reduces to gentle sniffling as she calms down.

“You can’t leave me like that. I love you too much, Hisao.”

“I love you too, Tsuki.”

I stare at the ceiling while we lay here, feeling the darkness as it closes in on me, wondering when my love for someone became so costly.

====================

My usual morning routine feels less than normal today. The events of the night prior are still fresh in both of our minds, but neither of us seem to be willing to address the elephant in the room. Tsu’s face has been especially downcast, and for good reason.

She probably thought she was watching me die. There’s no way anyone could take that lightly.

After brushing my teeth, washing my face, and popping the usual amount of pills, I stare into the mirror and try to make sense of everything that’s happened. Or rather, figure out what I should be doing about it.

Suddenly, I feel something wrap around my waist from behind and press itself against me. In the mirror I can see Tsu’s dark hair peeking over my shoulder. Her head pushes into my back as she squeezes me softly, murmuring something that I don’t quite catch. We stay like this for a moment, neither of us wanting to break apart.

Eventually, however, we do. It is a work day, after all.

The rest of the morning passes uneventfully, Tsu and I finishing up at my apartment and getting on the bus to head to work. The ride to the edge of the city is filled with even more silence. There are things that I should probably be saying, explaining to Tsu, making sure she understands everything I haven’t told her. But instead, I think.

I think about the entirety of my weekend. The people I talked to, the things they said, and the things that happened to me. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m slowly starting to realize that I don’t have as much of a grasp on my life as I’d like. Things I should be in control of are practically left to fate.

Maybe it’s time to start taking that control back. But how?

This thinking continues even after we’ve arrived at the school. Before we go to our own classrooms, Tsu gives me a quick kiss and rests her hand on my cheek.

“Lunch?” she asks, gently stroking my face.

“As always.”

Tsu beams at me, but in her eyes I can still see a hint of concern.

“I’m fine, Tsuki. I promise.”

This causes her to pout a bit, but I sense a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. Still, she refuses to leave just yet, as if she’s afraid that I’ll disappear once I’m out of her sight.

“Ms. Yamaguchi, I need your help!”

The student’s cry breaks us out of our trance. We both look towards the voice and see a 3rd year student waving at us, clearly distressed about something. Tsu turns back to me and smiles bashfully.

“Guess that’s my cue to go.”

“I guess it is,” I chuckle. “Have a good day, Ms. Yamaguchi.”

Tsu sticks her tongue out at me as she turns on her heels, walking briskly to the student to assist with his problem. Once she’s gone, I turn down the hall and walk a few doors further to my room, stepping inside and setting my belongings down at the desk. A few students are already at their seats, some reading or studying while others are fiddling around with their phones.

As I pull papers and other things out of my bag I notice someone stand and skip up to my desk.

“Good morning, Mr. Nakai!”

Chiho Sahashi, a sweet girl who isn’t exactly the sharpest, but always seems to put 100 percent into everything she does. The type of person who brightens up the room when she walks in and does her best to be positive and happy with everyone. Every time I see her I’m reminded of a certain someone from years ago who possessed the same bubbly attitude.

“Good morning, Sahashi. How was your weekend?”

“It was great!” she exclaims, her long brown hair bouncing around as she hops a bit. “I hung out with a bunch of my friends at an amusement park and then I dyed my hair! Look!”

The girl excitedly pulls her hair in front of her, showing off the reddish ends that contrast slightly with the darker natural locks.

“I’ll never understand the desire to change your hair color, but it definitely suits you.”

Sahashi giggles at this. “Hehe, thanks! So what about you? Do anything fun this weekend?”

The question throws me for a moment. While searching for an answer I consider that a majority of my weekend was neither good nor appropriate to tell a student about. So do I lie, or do I attempt to give her some sort of vague, half-truth?

In all my debating I realize that I still haven’t answered Sahashi, who is now staring at me quizzically. Slightly flustered, I fumble around for any sort of reply.

“I-it was great! Uh, my girlfriend and I went on a picnic on Sunday, so that was pretty fun.”

Sahashi continues to eye me, and I can tell from her somewhat worried expression that she isn’t fooled.

“Are you sure everything’s okay, Mr. Nakai?”

I sigh, determining that furthering the lie would be futile. “Yeah, I’m just...trying to sort out some personal issues, that’s all.” I’m not quite sure why I’m telling her this.

Sahashi puts one finger on her chin and looks up at the ceiling as if she’s thinking. After a few seconds, she looks back at me with a sparkle in her eyes.

“Well, if sorting it out by yourself hasn’t worked, then why don’t you go to someone who can help you? After all, that’s what friends are for, right?”

Her statement, despite being somewhat generic, sparks a realization in me.

“I suppose you’re right,” I reply, smiling at Sahashi. “Thank you.”

The girl’s face lights up at my thanks, but she quickly reverts to a mischievous look before responding.

“So anyway, a picnic? That’s soooo adorable!” she squeals before lowering her voice and leaning closer to continue. “So when are you and Ms. Yamaguchi getting married?”

“Alright alright, go back to your seat, you little bugger!” I demand, jokingly shooing the girl away.

She skips away to her desk, giggling and murmuring something or other about a wedding. I can’t help but laugh as well, shaking my head at the absurdity of it all. Though I don’t necessarily understand how this girl can radiate such a positive aura, I will say that I’m extremely grateful for it.

Not to mention that I think I finally know what I have to do now.

The first half of the day comes and goes. Everything is painfully normal, from my students’ confusion when I attempt to explain physics to the expected interruption by a fellow teacher asking for my help with some mundane task. It may not always be the most exciting job, but I can at least take pride in the fact that I’m decent at it.

Lunch rolls around and my students file out of the classroom, heading for the cafeteria. Sahashi waves at me before leaving and I give her a smile as she runs off to catch up with her friends.

To think that goofball might’ve just saved me.
After everyone has left I pull myself to my feet and enter the hallway, moving towards Tsu’s class. Poking my head through the door, I spot her sitting at her desk grading papers. The slight furrowing of her brow shows that one of her students didn’t quite know what they were doing; seems to be a common theme in literature classes.

“Pssst!”

My “greeting” startles Tsu, making her jump a bit in her chair before turning to me, eyes wide.

“How is it possible that that always scares me?” she whimpers, leaning back in her seat.

I shrug, trying to keep from laughing. “Beats me. I thought it’d stop after a week or two.”

Tsu just sighs and rolls her eyes. “Anyway, you ready for lunch?”

“Actually,” I begin, rubbing the back of my head sheepishly. “I have something really important to take care of first. Is it alright if I’m a little late?”

Tsu frowns a bit, but I can see her face lighten up when our eyes meet. I’m not sure I’m ready to tell her everything yet, for her own sake, so my only hope is that she won’t press me to elaborate.

“Alright,” Tsu responds finally. “But if you miss lunch you owe me, big time.”

I agree to her terms and head back to my room, closing the door behind me. Once I’m inside, I pull out my phone and call Rin. As odd as it is, she’s kind of the only person that can help me out right now. It’s fortunate that she got in contact with me for her birthday dinner, or I’d be stuck figuring out where to go from here.

After dialing, the phone rings for a few moments before someone picks up.

“Hello there.”

“Rin?” I ask, though it’s obvious from her greeting that it’s her.

“Mmhm,” she confirms through the speaker.

“Listen, I…” I pause for a moment, gathering myself. “I need your help, Rin.”

“Do you need my help, or do you want my help?”

That feels like an odd question to ask, but regardless I think for a bit before replying.

“I definitely need it. It...it’s about my heart.”

I can practically feel Rin nodding through the phone. “What do you need?”

I explain the situation to the best of my ability and Rin provides what she can. At the end of the exchange I sense something in her voice, almost sounding like satisfaction. When I listen again, the odd tone is gone and I’m left wondering if I was just imagining it in the first place.

Before I can hang up Rin murmurs one final comment into the phone.

“Try to be the right amount of Hisao from now on.”

I can’t even begin to process what she means by this, so I decide to just accept her request, thanking her again for the help. We say our goodbyes and the call ends abruptly.

I’m left alone with my thoughts yet again, taking a moment to steel myself for what I’m about to do.

C’mon, Hisao. You’re an adult. You can’t keep acting like a lost child.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I unlock my phone again and slowly dial the number I was given. Part of me hopes it’s the wrong number and that I can just give up on this plan and say I tried. Then again, maybe that’s the part of Hisao Rin wants me to avoid being.

Someone answering the call almost immediately causes me to jump a bit. The voice makes me nervous and I have to will myself with every fiber of my being to not just hang up and go eat my lunch with Tsu. I end up sitting in silence long enough for it to be awkward, as the person on the other end speaks again.

“Hello? Is anyone there?”

Deep breaths, Hisao.

“Hi, Emi? It’s Hisao. I need your help.”

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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emilogue (Chap 2 - Updated 7/28/

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:40 pm

Very good chapter - and I rarely say that about chapters containing H-scenes.
After chapter 1 I was more or less hoping for Hisao and Emi getting back together. Now that I know that would necessitate him frst breaking up with his current girlfriend I changed my mind :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
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: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emilogue (Chap 2 - Updated 7/28/

Post by scratchminus » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:47 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Very good chapter - and I rarely say that about chapters containing H-scenes.
After chapter 1 I was more or less hoping for Hisao and Emi getting back together. Now that I know that would necessitate him frst breaking up with his current girlfriend I changed my mind :-)
Thank you, I appreciate it! Hopefully I can deliver in future chapters as well.

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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emilogue (Chap 2 - Updated 7/28/17)

Post by scratchminus » Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:18 pm

Author's Note: This chapter has been completed for quite some time, but I've been editing it for a while. I figured it was time to finally post it since I was basically just avoiding it at that point.

Chapter 3 - Exertion

My fingers drum absentmindedly against the cool plastic of my water bottle, condensation dripping down my hand and onto the pavement below. Fortunately for me, the heat of the day has begun to fade off. The rest of my walk to the track is guided by a gentle breeze that, coupled with the cold of the bottle, keeps my body from overheating.

I briefly wonder if I should have brought a jacket; the nights tend to get rather cold this time of year, despite the daytime heat. After a bit more deliberation, I shrug and decide that the long sleeve shirt in my bag should be fine. Should the temperature drop, I’ll just suck it up.

As I approach my destination, my mind wanders back through the past couple of weeks. The first thing I think of is probably the most obvious question: why did Emi agree to help me? Because of our past and especially after our most recent reunion I had reason to believe she’d never want anything to do with me again.

Yet here I am, running with her 5 days a week.

It’s almost surreal, in a way. Like some sort of callback to our days at Yamaku, only these are filled with a tension that I’m sure neither of us are fond of.

Still, for better or for worse, I’m exercising. After my heart flutter with Tsu I realized it wasn’t just a matter of my own health. The way Tsu stared at me that night, the shocked pain in her eyes as I clutched at my chest...losing my life wouldn’t only affect me, and I think I finally understand that again.

Why it took me so many years to remember that fact is beyond me.

As the asphalt comes into view around a corner I make a decision. If I’m going to start taking charge of my life once more, I can’t just stop at getting healthy. While that is my priority at the moment, at least one other thing I should be doing comes to mind.

Today, regardless of what happens, I’ll attempt to bury the hatchet with Emi. Though that might be easier said than done.

Satisfied with this goal, I speed up a bit, oddly eager to get to my workout. As I enter through the steel gate I spot Emi near the bleachers. She’s squatted down, stretching out her legs—or more accurately her thighs—in a pose that I imagine can’t be comfortable. The squeaking of the gate must have been rather loud, as Emi lifts her head like a frightened animal before calming and raising her hand in greeting.

“How’s it going, Emi?” I say, offering up the most convincing smile I can muster.

“Pretty good, I guess,” she responds, springing out of her stretch rather flexibly. “Just another day of whipping people into shape, ya know?”

The way she puts it almost makes it sound like torture rather than exercise. Still, I laugh quietly at her comment and begin my warm up routine alongside her. Once we’re sufficiently loosened up we both set off onto the track.

Because of the current condition of my health, I’ve been sternly relegated to a light jog by Emi. The goal right now is to build up enough stamina to avoid fainting at the drop of a hat. Simple, right?

I glance to my right towards Emi. The pace that I’ve set is clearly nothing for her, and I can already see that sparkle in her eye that says she’s ready to go. Sure enough, after giving me an awkward side glance to make sure I’m fine, she takes off at a speed I could only dream of achieving. I continue my jog, knowing better than to try to compete with her.

The run passes rather uneventfully, me keeping my controlled pace while Emi jets off into the beyond. No different than any other day.

Or at least, not yet.

Though I’ve already retired to the bleachers from fatigue, Emi is still walking briskly around the track for her cooldown. Her face looks calm as she taps away, but there’s a hint of something more...like she’s deep in thought and doesn’t want to show it.

Despite my instinct to think that it’s odd, I have to admit I’ve been feeling the same way to an extent. And I have to remember that I said I’d fix this today.

Deep breath.

In.

Out.

After taking the necessary preparations, I push myself off the cool metal of the bleachers and fall in step next to Emi. She glances in my direction before turning her eyes back to the track. I guess the initiation is left up to me.

“So, Emi…” I start, trying to figure out how I should word this.

She tilts her head towards me slightly, a quizzical look in her eyes.

“I was planning on grabbing a bite to eat before going home. Would you...like to join me?”

God I’m awful. It sounds like I’m asking her out on a first date or something. Doesn’t help that I’m pretty much lying about intending to grab a bite to eat by myself in the first place. Maybe I should just retract the offer and try again when I’m not so terrible at talking.

“Well, I don’t have anything better to do.”

The “positive” response catches me off guard. I peer into her eyes, searching for any lack of sincerity, but I come up empty handed.

“If you haven’t decided on a restaurant yet,” Emi continues. “I know this great noodle place that’s not far from your apartment. Wanna go there?”

Her voice lacks the discomfort from before and it brings a smile to my face. It’s quite refreshing after so much tension; but then again, maybe Emi is just as ready as I am to finally move on.

“Alright, Miss Ibarazaki,” I declare. “Lead the way.”

====================

Night is upon us much quicker than I’d anticipated. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked; Emi and I usually don’t get to start our routine until early evening, but today we were even slower than usual. Guess I can blame my nervousness about asking her out for that.

Well, not out out, but...

During the walk I recall that Tsu is going to be at my place when I get back tonight. It’s probably best to call and let her know so she doesn’t get worried.

I shoot a “hold on just a moment” gesture towards Emi and make my call.

“Hello?” Tsu’s polite greeting buzzes through the speaker. I instinctively smile at the sound of her voice.

“Hey Tsu, are you back at my place yet?”

“Yeah, I just got here. Why, what’s up?”

“I just wanted to let you know I’m having dinner with a friend,” I answer, glancing towards Emi. “I won’t be home until later tonight.”

I hear Tsu’s laughter on the other end, followed by a joking remark.

“Other friends? You? Who could that possibly be?”

I start to respond before realizing something—Tsu knows absolutely nothing about Emi. While keeping her identity a secret likely isn’t the wisest choice in the long run, I decide to table the issue for now. I’ll tell her everything another time.

“Oh please,” I tease. “You know I’m your only friend too.”

“You’re so mean, Hisao!” Tsu pouts, though I can hear the giggles rising in her throat. “Alright, well I’ll see you tonight then. Love you.~”

“Love you, too.”

I hang up and slide my phone into my pocket, a wide smile still spread from cheek to cheek. However, the feeling of eyes boring into me reminds me that there’s another presence here. I look over at Emi, who has a mischievous grin plastered across her face.

“Who might that have been, Hisao?” she asks slyly, narrowing her eyes at me.

The thought that Emi also knows nothing about Tsu suddenly crosses my mind. I start to wonder how that’s possible, considering the fact that I brought her up at Rin’s party some weeks ago. Upon further reflection, I remember that Emi had been absent from the table at the time and would know nothing about this.

I sigh, pulling myself back out of my mind. There’s practically no reason for me not to just be honest with Emi.

“That was Tsuki,” I respond, the words coming out much more bashfully than I intended. “She’s...my girlfriend.”

I’m not sure what kind of reaction I expected, just as Emi seems unsure of how she should react. However, her blank stare quickly changes to one of curiosity.

“That’s so cute!” she blurts. “How long have you two been together?”

“About six months,” I say, slowing as we reach the bus stop. “I assume your next question is how did we meet?”

Emi nods enthusiastically.

“We both teach at the same school,” I begin. “Tsu teaches 3rd year literature and I teach 3rd year physics, so our rooms are relatively close together.”

As I talk the bus rounds a nearby corner and lurches to a halt in front of us. Emi and I clamber aboard and sit down towards the middle.

“One day we bumped into each other on the way to the break room and just started talking. She was jealous of how the kids immediately took a liking to me. I was jealous of how well she fit in with the rest of the faculty. I guess those differences made us gravitate towards each other and we just got closer and closer.”

The retelling of this story brings another smile to my face. I gaze out the window and watch the buildings scroll by, taking a moment to appreciate what I often take for granted.

“Sure sounds like she means a lot to you,” Emi murmurs.

The rest of the trip to the restaurant passes uneventfully. Emi continues to ask the occasional question about Tsu, my job, and what I’ve been up to, but nothing really goes beyond typical small talk.

By the time we reach our destination, I notice that Emi is wearing the same expression from when she was cooling down at the track earlier. Such a serious look doesn’t suit her at all, and it leaves me searching for a way to break the silence. A chance to do so doesn’t arise until we’re seated at a table, so I immediately hop on the opportunity.

“I sense that something’s bugging you,” I say, attempting to appear nonchalant about it.

Emi bites her lip before responding. “I’m just...I’m just curious why you’re so stressed about your health again now. I mean, after so many years it just seems odd.”

She pauses for a moment before adding onto her statement.

“I imagine it’s for Tsuki, but it’s still a very sudden shift.”

The waiter chooses now to come take our orders, and for that I’m grateful. The interruption gives me time to think and consider what I should tell Emi. She isn’t wrong in thinking that I’m doing this for Tsu, but I’d like to remain tactful in my response. As the waiter leaves with his notepad and our menus, I settle for giving her a vague yet truthful explanation.

“I guess, to put it simply,” I begin. “I had a heart flutter the other week with Tsu.”

Emi flinches a tiny bit at my words and her eyes widen, but she nods to tell me to continue.

“The way she cried over me, like she was so helpless...I can barely describe it. But I never want to see a look like that on anyone’s face again. Especially not Tsu’s.”

I take a few deep breaths to calm myself.

“I thought I had settled into a safe enough routine that this wouldn’t be an issue. I guess I was wrong, and this one slip up was all it took to make me realize that.”

My explanation complete, I lean back into the seat and allow a sigh of relief to escape me. As heavy a subject as it is, it feels good to speak freely about it with someone. Although Emi’s downcast expression does make me feel a little guilty about dropping this all on her.

A moment of silence passes, and soon Emi’s somber look has transformed into her characteristic sly smile.

“You don’t seem to be one for traditional exercise or anything crazy, Hisao,” she murmurs, her eyes narrowing. “I wonder just what you two could’ve been up to that led to such an occurrence.”

Heat spreads throughout my face and I’m positive that I’m currently glowing an intense shade of crimson. I suppose I shouldn’t be expecting tact in any conversation with Emi.

“Nonononono, you’re waaaaay off, Emi,” I stammer, trying to think of a way to change the subject.

With her eyes piercing my mind itself it’s rather hard to think clearly. I half expect her to prod further, but instead she sticks her tongue out at me and moves directly into a new topic of conversation.

We transition rather smoothly into more small talk until the food arrives. Once it does, all conversation dies immediately as we stuff ourselves. After so many years without physical exertion I forgot the effect it has on your appetite.

About halfway through our meal I notice Emi growing restless. In between bites she shifts her weight in her chair, fidgeting uncomfortably.

“You’re easier to read than a book, you know that?”

Emi jumps at my comment. She either didn’t think I noticed or wasn’t expecting me to call her out.

“I was just wondering…”

“Wondering?”

“Why did you come to me of all people?”

I open my mouth to respond before fully taking in what she just said. How I’m so lost for words is beyond me, as I definitely shouldn’t be this surprised. It’s a valid question that I should have been expecting since we started running together.

Emi continues, seemingly wanting to correct any misconceptions I might have about what she just said.

“I’m not saying I’m not glad you came to me, but...how do I put this?”

She takes a long pause.

“I suppose I assumed you could’ve asked anyone to do this. All I’m really doing is spotting you while you run to make sure you stay safe.”

“That’s exactly why it had to be you!”

I realize how quickly I blurted that out and blush furiously, sinking into my chair. A light pink creeps into Emi’s cheeks as well and I notice a slight smile curling up on her lips. However, it’s soon washed over by an inquisitive look.

“But why don’t you trust Tsuki to do this for you? I mean, isn’t she the most logical person to ask?”

I shake my head. “Of course I trust Tsu, but I didn’t want to put her in this situation. She’s just as bad at keeping a schedule, and I know that being directly involved would just make her worry about me to no end.”

“What, so you don’t think I worry about you?” Emi mutters, puffing up her cheeks and folding her arms.

Her response baffles me for a moment. It isn’t quite what I expect from Emi, especially considering the fact that we hated each other all of a month ago. Hell, until today we hadn’t even had what could be considered a normal conversation.

“No, no, that’s not what I mean. Your experience in coaching is invaluable in this situation, though. Not to mention the fact that you understand what I can and can’t handle better than anyone.”

My words seem to strike some sort of chord with Emi. The blush from before is finding its way across her entire visage and she looks away in an attempt to hide it. Something dawns on me suddenly, and I make a decision to leap forward.

“Emi, I want to apologize.”

She looks at me, wearing a confused yet somehow understanding expression.

“Not only for the things I said at my apartment, but for everything. I understand that there’s still so much we need to talk about, and I know it’s probably not possible to cover it all in just one night. But I’m willing to bury the hatchet for real, not just temporarily.”

“...I wouldn’t mind being rid of all the tension and awkwardness,” Emi agrees.

“No promises.”

This earns me a glare which I accept with laughter. Once it’s silent again, Emi returns my statement in kind.

“I’m sorry for everything, too. I made a lot of mistakes, but I’m willing to sit down and talk about it sometime.”

“So it’s settled.”

“So it is.”

Another silence falls over the table as we finish up our meals.

“Wait, was it really that easy? This entire time?”

Emi makes a good point, and I consider her question for a moment before answering.

“Maybe we’d already forgiven each other, but once we were back together we instinctively returned to our old ways,” I suggest.

“That doesn’t make sense. I mean, why would I forgive a dork like you?”

I wince. “7 years and you’re just as brutal as always.”

“Oh please, you missed my sass.”

“I get plenty of that already, thank you very much.”

My joke has quite the opposite effect on Emi as I see her face shift downwards just slightly. I wonder briefly if what I said offended her somehow, but as she perks back up a bit I decide against it. A few moments of silence go by, though much less uncomfortably than before. After a short time we’ve both paid for our meals and are getting up to leave the restaurant.

As we exit the building the cool nighttime spring air washes over us. I glance over at Emi who flinches a tiny bit in the wind, pulling herself deeper into her jacket.

“Want me to walk you to your bus stop?” I ask, figuring it’s the right thing to do since it’s completely dark out now.

Emi hesitates for a moment, looking like she wants to decline the offer. However, she exhales and gives me a small nod.

“I’d appreciate that.”

We set off towards the stop for the A bus. The trip passes without incident, the two of us opting to stay mostly quiet for its duration. Once we’ve arrived, we stop a few feet apart and maintain the awkward silence.

I suppose I shouldn’t expect miracles right after we vowed to make up. These things do take time.

The light breeze has followed us to the stop, and while I’m not particularly bothered by it I can see the chills running through Emi. Against my better judgement I close the distance between us, hoping that at least a small bit of my body heat might transfer over.

“I can move back if you wan-”

“Stay.”

Emi closes the remaining space, brushing against me lightly to share my warmth without overstepping her bounds.

Well, to an extent at least.

I feel my face start to burn and I almost regret my decision, but I stick it out. Partially because I don’t want her to be cold, but also because moving away now would only make things more awkward.

“You know, I think you and Tsu would really get along, Emi.”

Emi looks up at me curiously.

“Maybe...if you’re not too busy, we could go out with a few other friends and get drinks or something. I’m sure Tsu would be happy to meet the person keeping me alive.”

She glances around for a while, though I can’t discern if she’s formulating a reply or looking for a way out of this conversation. I almost take back my suggestion, but her voice stops me.

“That sounds fun.”

Emi is practically beaming at me, and I find myself hard pressed to doubt her sincerity once again. Instead, I return her smile.

“I’m looking forward to it, then.”

As our chatter reaches a stopping point I spot her bus pulling around a nearby corner. Its brakes squeal as the wheels grind along the road, guiding it to its resting place a few feet in front of us. The doors open, inviting Emi into the lit interior.

We move apart as she steps forward, boarding the vehicle. Before disappearing entirely, she turns around.

“Try not to do anything too stupid while I’m not around.”

The smirk on her face makes me chuckle.

“Once again, no promises.”

Emi rolls her eyes at me, giving a light scoff.

“Goodnight, Hisao.”

“‘Night, Emi.”

With its last passenger boarded, the bus accelerates down the street and into the darkness. Once it’s out of sight, I begin the trek back to my apartment complex. It’s much more lonely this time around, leaving plenty of opportunities for me to collect my thoughts on the night and plan out how to move forward.

Regardless of the future, I’m glad we took the first few steps today. I won’t take this chance to fix a perfectly good friendship for granted. And from what I can tell, Emi feels the same way.

A newfound vigor works its way into my steps as I stride down the street. The only thought still nagging at the back of my mind is just how I should explain all of this to Tsu.

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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emilogue (Chap 3 - Updated 3/11/18)

Post by Downix » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:15 pm

There's few enough good Emilogue options. I am so far enjoying this tremendously

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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emilogue (Chap 3 - Updated 3/11/18)

Post by QuietlySomething » Sun Mar 11, 2018 5:14 pm

Really good chapter. The dialogue between Hisao and Emi is very believable and is shaping up their relationship nicely. You've created a very interesting dynamic between the two of them and Tsu and I'm really curious to see how everything turns out.

I'm surprised I didn't leave any comments on this fic earlier but it's really coming along nicely so far. Well-paced, and good dialogue and characterization. Good work.

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Re: Ungraceful Reunion - An Emilogue (Chap 3 - Updated 3/11/18)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Mar 11, 2018 5:35 pm

“Tsu teaches 3rd year literature and I teach 3rd year physics, so our rooms are relatively close together.”
Minor nitpick: If they teach the same class they will also teach in the same room.

Otherwise nothing I can add to QS's assessment.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
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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