Crafty's One-Shots (Apr 8, 2019: Undercover Journalism)

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NoticeMeOppai
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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Dec 25, 2018: Project Blue Curtain [S9])

Post by NoticeMeOppai » Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:30 am

You absolute madman, that was glorious. Had some initial doubts as to why the director's daughter would choose to play Hanako if she was looking for a boyfriend, but you explained it all in the end. Wonder what happened to her though. Assuming some kind of major therapy.

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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Dec 25, 2018: Project Blue Curtain [S9])

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:33 pm

Okay, it took me a while to get to read that with so many other stories appearing lately, but it finally happened, and... man what a ride...
This not only deserves its own thread, it has easily taken its place among my top ten favourite stories around here. I don't keep a list, so no idea where exactly it would settle. :wink:
I did notice the timeline issue, but frankly I understand why the change was made, and I think the story works better with it.

If there is one thing to compl... No I can't even call that a complaint... one aspect I'd have liked to see explored, it would have been if Emi had taken longer to recognize her feelings - say until the relationship was already under way - but even there I can see that it wouldn't have worked, because it would have been a different story. Also an insteresting one, but a different one.

Anyway, this story was above and beyond all expectations anyone could have had for this project. Thank you for being as crazy as you are!
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: Crafty's One-Shots (Dec 25, 2018: Project Blue Curtain [S9])

Post by Craftyatom » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:54 am

ProfAllister wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 8:02 am
Can't help but point out there were some timeline issues (most notably that Hisao's lock-in scene with Emi comes on the second run)
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:33 pm
I did notice the timeline issue, but frankly I understand why the change was made, and I think the story works better with it.
I originally wanted to keep all the events from Act 1 the same, but I ran into a problem: the VN is broken up into many small scenes, some with timeskips in the middle, whereas my story has (relatively) few chapters, with almost no mid-chapter timeskips. As such, the story worked much better when multiple separate lines/actions were combined into single scenes. The first and second days of running were combined, and then the first rooftop lunch ended up being moved up with them. This is to make no mention of all the scenes I outright skipped, though I did my best to reference them in later chapters. That said, I do think that I made the right choice, in the end - there's simply no graceful way to fit a VN peg into a short story hole.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:33 pm
If there is [...] one aspect I'd have liked to see explored, it would have been if Emi had taken longer to recognize her feelings - say until the relationship was already under way - but even there I can see that it wouldn't have worked, because it would have been a different story. Also an insteresting one, but a different one.
I agree that Emi's feelings for Hisao kind of come out of the blue - at the end of one chapter she's only just happened upon the idea that she might have real feelings for him, and the next chapter starts with her proclaiming that she loves him completely and undoubtedly. That transition took a long time for the characters (and included more times when Emi had to act loving while trying desperately not to think it for real), but was almost instantaneous from the reader's point of view, because I simply didn't have the time or energy to write it all out, but it had to happen sooner rather than later. I considered adding a number of extra chapters: more rooftop lunches, the second time Hisao goes running, the track meet, their first date, a subsequent date, and their first time. I eventually decided that it was better to consolidate chapters, and I almost cut it down to 7 at one point. In the end, I think that I covered everything well enough, and that readers could fill in most of the gaps.
NoticeMeOppai wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:30 am
Wonder what happened to [Hanako] though. Assuming some kind of major therapy.
I hadn't thought much about the life of various characters after the end of the story, besides the fact that Hanako never returns to class for "medical reasons", and Lilly leaves after a short grace period due to "summons from relatives in Scotland". I do think the Director would try to help his daughter, both with professional therapy and a more personal role in her life. It wouldn't be a quick or easy fix, of course, but it might work out in the end. I don't think I'll ever write any continuations or additions to this story, despite some interesting ideas here, so if anyone ever wants to try and flesh out that concept, they're free to give it a go.
brythain wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:27 am
That's a classic, needs a thread of its own to do it justice.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:33 pm
This not only deserves its own thread, it has easily taken its place among my top ten favourite stories around here.
I did seriously consider a standalone thread for this one, especially since it was so long, but looking forward, I needed to make a one-shot thread at some point, and although neither this nor Dreamy are short, they are both standalone stories with a single central concept, so I think having them compiled like this is the best way to do things. I do plan on adding another somewhat-short story to this thread in future, so it really is meant to be my one-shot thread. I know, semantics, but I felt I should justify a decision that makes this story somewhat more difficult to find.
Downix wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:11 am
Dude! I am absolutely speechless. Well done! Bravo!
brythain wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:27 am
Bravo. Quite the thriller.
ProfAllister wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 8:02 am
To say that I'm happy with the result would be a gross understatement. This was pretty phenomenal. Doesn't hurt that The Truman Show is one of my favorite movies.
NoticeMeOppai wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:30 am
You absolute madman, that was glorious.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:33 pm
Anyway, this story was above and beyond all expectations anyone could have had for this project. Thank you for being as crazy as you are!
Thank you all so much for the kind words (it's weird to hear my work rated as highly as some of the classics here), and to Prof, you're overwhelmingly welcome! As for being crazy, I hadn't realized just how insane my one-shots are, on the whole. Strange, because I don't feel like I'm that kind of author, but I guess the stories speak for themselves. Still, as long as people enjoy reading them, I can't ever say it wasn't worth writing them!
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Destroyer, Dreamy, Undercover Journalism, and Project Blue Curtain)
Old poetry: Google Drive Collection

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Re: 2 - Epic

Post by Oddball » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:18 am

Noise ...

It's a cute idea, but doesn't really work as well as it could have. I think the joke with all the screaming would have worked better if Misha had felt more like an actual person before hand. She feels a bit too one dimensionally cheerful for most of this story.


Epic ...

This is a weird one. You do a good job establishing a light hearted mood slowly getting less and less serious but in the end you swerve completely giving it the feeling that you were building up for some kind of joke and decided not to tell it at the last moment.


Command ...
On the other hand, there was an implication that any problem they couldn’t answer wasn’t really a problem at all - it was more of a rhetorical question, to be considered but not worried about.
I really love this part. Actually I really enjoy how you handle their relationship altogether in this section. The little game with the shackles was an interesting touch as well. It's original and it fit both characters perfectly without being too overboard. THEN you go overboard.

It was a nice little twist slowly devolving into irrational nightmare in a properly dreamlike tone, but I think I enjoyed the actual relationships parts of the story better.


Serenity ...

I think this is probably your weakest one. Lilly's character seems off and you can tell that your heart isn't into their relationship.

Flow ...

Nothing really to say about this one. Not great. Not horrible. Decent enough.

Power ...

I do like how you made Hisao a bit more negative in this story. It fits the Rin route better. The fact that Rin seemed to know what was going on when nothing made sense and Hisao didn't also really fit with the characters. The ending where Rin revealed Hisao was the one that made everything this was was also oddly sweat.

I like that you didn't end the chapter with him thinking about another girl after waking up. It helped drive the emotional impact home.

Surface ...

Harsh, but a nice end to the story.

As a whole, the thing was a nice entertaining read. The impact does lessen a little as you read more of it though knowing that it's always going to end as a dream, but that's somewhat unavoidable and you did a nice job at doing new things with it.

...

Project Blue Curtain

...

I have to admit, you got me curious on this right from the start. The character you were describing certainly matched Emi, but didn't seem anything like her personality wise. I started to wonder if maybe it wasn't supposed to be her then with the recording angle, maybe it was her years later...

Then you reveal that they're all "actors". Then I became REALLY curious.

I loved the new personalities that you've given the cast here. Bitchy murderous Hanako might have been a bit over the top but the rest were great. Misha being the tech genius with Shizune as her sidekick was great, as was Lilly being he bodyguard for Hanako. There was also something hilarious about Kenji being Rin's girlfriend.

I also loved how Rin kept trying to worm her way into more screentime.

I think the story does wrap itself up a bit too quickly though. It's also a shame we never got to see Meiko's appear.

Still otherwise it was a phenomenal read.
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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Dec 25, 2018: Project Blue Curtain [S9])

Post by Craftyatom » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:29 am

I can’t tell if this is longer than it needed to be, or shorter than I wanted it to be. Possibly both. I guess we’ll find out.

Hello everyone, and welcome to my latest one-shot, Undercover Journalism! This is my entry into a small competition, for which each participant was given five character pairings, and then told to write a story using at least one of those character pairings - I chose Hanako and Miki as my pairing. However, I was also offered “Miki and Hisao” as an option, and was tempted to just post the next chapter of my main route and call it an entry... but that would’ve been a bit cheesy. Besides, it’s fun to branch out from what I’m used to.

Speaking of which, I did go into this thinking that, since the pairings are given right away, I might as well just write the best sex scene I could muster! But then... well, none of my pairings really screamed ‘smut’ to me. I wasn’t feeling it. So this isn’t a kosherbacon-esque orgy, or even a romantic fling. However, it does still contain adult content, so be warned, I guess.

Anyways, enough blathering - let’s get to it, shall we?
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Destroyer, Dreamy, Undercover Journalism, and Project Blue Curtain)
Old poetry: Google Drive Collection

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Undercover Journalism

Post by Craftyatom » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:29 am

Undercover Journalism

Don’t think about it. Just do it.

“Um... Excuse me?”

The dark-skinned girl from my class, who I know as Miura, looks up at me from the laundry in her hands. “Oh, hey. Hanako, right?” I nod, somewhat surprised that she knows my name, and she smiles. “Sup?”

My brain starts to lock up, but I move on before it gets the chance. Stay focused on what you came here for. “I was wondering if... if I could interview you about the t-track team?”

Her face lights up. “Oh right, you’re working with the newspaper girls now! Well you’re in luck - I happen to know a hell of a lot about the track team.” She grins. “Including some stuff they’d rather I didn’t.”

“O-okay then.” I look down at my notepad for help, and see only a few simple questions. That’s intentional: I’m trying to be more spontaneous, and coming up with questions on the spot is one way of practicing. Still, it makes me a bit nervous, having so little to go on. Before that nervousness can get to me, though, I preoccupy myself with asking the first question. “How long have you been doing track, Miura?”

She puts her hand on her chin. “Well, I started pretty soon after I got to Yamaku, so... two years, two and a half?” Almost as an afterthought, she adds “Oh, and you can call me Miki.”

“Okay.” I jot down her answer - that’s the kind of thing I’ll forget otherwise. “You have a meet c-coming up, right?”

She shrugs. “Yeah, a week from tomorrow.”

I thought so, but figured I’d make sure. “D-do you... How do you think the team will do?”

She sighs, and looks bored. “I mean, we’ll probably crush ‘em, just like last time, I guess.”

“And you p-personally, how-”

She cuts me off by grabbing my shoulder and staring me in the eyes. I feel incredibly intimidated - she’s got a powerful glare - but I just about manage to listen to what she says next.

“Listen, forget all that boring stuff. What you want is a juicy story, something that’ll grab readers right from the headline, right?”

Still somewhat frozen in fear, I only manage a soft “Uh...”

“Exactly. You want a big scoop, the real deal - that’s why you lucked out when you found me! So how about this: I’ll finish this load of laundry, then show you exactly what people get up to here in the track team. Whaddya say?”

My subconscious is screaming ‘no’, but I remember that the entire reason I joined the newspaper club was to get more involved with people. Isn’t this the perfect chance? Sure, I’ll miss class, but it’s Saturday, so I’ll only miss half a day. Besides, it’s official newspaper club business, which is a much better excuse than I’ve ever had before. Not to mention that if she’s telling the truth, it might be a big deal for the newspaper. The more I think about it, the more it sounds like a good idea.

Fighting back the urge to do otherwise, I nod. “Uh, sure.”

She smiles again, and pats me on the shoulder. “Awesome! Just give me a minute here, and I’ll take you over to practice.”

Thirty minutes later

It turns out that, with the meet coming up, the track team is practicing every day - and since the summer sun is making it unbearably hot outside in the afternoon, they have permission to skip class and practice in the morning. So there they are, running around the track, while Miura and I crouch in the adjacent wooded area. Which, I’ll be honest, I’m still not sure about.

“Uh, so... Why are we hiding?”

“Because,” she replies without taking her eyes off the track, “if they know you’re reporting on them, they’ll only show you what they want you to see. This way, you get to see everything unfiltered.”

Well, her reasoning isn’t wrong, per se. Undercover journalism is a real thing. I just don’t think it’s entirely necessary here.

Regardless, Miura taps me on the shoulder with her stump - something she does surprisingly often, if my short experience with her has taught me anything - and points at a specific area of the track. “Look, look, over there!”

“What?” I have no idea what I’m supposed to be looking at.

“The guy in the blue shorts, Kazuo - watch how he passes this girl.”

I watch as the boy approaches somewhat slowly, then drifts sideways, far away from the girl in question, before suddenly increasing his speed and sprinting past. It’s strange, certainly, but I’m not entirely sure what it means until Miura fills me in.

“They were dating until a few days ago. And let me tell you, that breakup was a sight to behold. It was like a fireworks show gone wrong.”

That part about the breakup sounds a bit grim, but the fact that it’s so visible is interesting; I would never have expected that.

“Ooh, ooh, and over there, look at those two!”

I don’t even need to ask this time - it’s obvious which two she’s talking about. A pair of boys, both red in the face and gasping for breath, are sprinting around the track, shoulder-to-shoulder.

“That’s Mahiro on the left, and Hiroshi on the right.” I don’t get the chance to ask whether she means our left and right or theirs. “They’re both serious contenders for first place, and they know it. They both know that they’re each others’ only serious competition.” She grins. “Also, thanks to a little mix-up I may or may not have been a part of, they kind of hate each other. You know, standard high school drama.”

A little unnerved by that last part, I jot down their names in my notebook. If nothing else, that’s something worth publishing. I expect Miura to interject with another observation right away, but it takes a few minutes before she finds something else to point out.

“Oh ho ho, Junji, you filthy dog! There, the really skinny kid.”

I quickly spot the boy she’s talking about, but have no idea why she’s pointing him out. He looks a bit bedraggled, but otherwise, just like anyone else on the track. “What’s d-different about him?”

“Notice how he’s staying just a little bit behind Emi?”

I look at the girl in front of him, with a pair of prosthetic legs - Ibarazaki, if I remember correctly. Sure enough, the boy keeps his distance, but is never too far behind. “Yeah... Why?”

“He’s got the best seat in the house: right on Emi’s behind.”

It takes me a second to realize what she’s alluding to. “You d-don’t mean...”

“Yup! He’s taking the opportunity to stare at her ass. And getting a pretty good workout while he’s at it.”

That’s a rather disturbing thought, but something else comes to mind. “Wait, isn’t Ibarazaki d-dating Nakai, from our class?”

“Well, yeah, but I mean...” She shrugs. “She does have a nice ass.”

Luckily, before I can digest that too much, someone near the track blows a whistle, and the runners slow down, eventually coming to a halt - practice must be over. I find myself rather relieved by that fact; crouching in the overgrowth next to a girl I’d never spoken to before today is far from my ideal morning.

“So whaddya think? Is this the best inside scoop you’ve ever gotten, or what?”

“Well, I, uh...”

“If you want, I can show you more - a lot more. Plenty of weird shit you haven’t seen yet.”

Crap. I was hoping this was everything, and I could just go home. But, despite my body’s intense desire never to do anything like this ever again, Miura has piqued my interest, and this all counts as being social, and will make for a great story to tell, and hopefully publish.

I gather my nerves, and ask a small but decisive question: “D-do we have to hide in the forest any more?”

“Nah, nothing interesting is going to happen on the track for the rest of the day, so there’s no point camping out here any longer.”

Well, I guess that settles it. “Okay, then. You lead the way.”

Three hours later

I should’ve been less specific.

I’m not hiding in a forest. In fact, I’m nowhere near a forest. Instead, I’m sat in a large box, its lid propped open and its contents strewn about the floor of the shed. Not that it changes the look of the place much - this shed, used for storing athletic equipment, looked like a mess when we first walked in. It’ll probably look like a mess forever; even the wooden walls suggest a certain ramshackle nature.

Of course, to be fair, I’m not currently hiding at all. I’m just sat in this box, in a shed, waiting for someone else to come along - which Miura insists will happen eventually - at which point we’ll both have to hide in this hastily-emptied box. As if that plan wasn’t bad enough, nobody has shown up yet, so we’re just waiting around. At least the forest was open and calm.

“M-Miura, it’s been hours, and I think I heard the lunch b-bell. Are you sure we’re... going to see anything?”

My tan-skinned guide stands by the door, holding it open a crack and peeking through. “Oh, someone will show, I’m sure of it. These are high schoolers we’re talking about.” She chuckles to herself, then adds, “And really, you can just call me Miki.”

She keeps talking about how people are bound to show up, but hasn’t said why they’d show up, or what they’d even do here. I can’t imagine anything interesting happening in a place like this.

Just as I begin to consider making an excuse and leaving, Miura gasps. “No way... Ha ha ha! Perfect!” She turns around and sprints over to the box, jumps in next to me, and pulls the lid down, completely enclosing us. “This will absolutely be worth the wait, trust me.”

It’s not exactly comfortable in here, and I can’t see out, but I guess I’ll just have to wait. Not like I could leave now, given that someone is presumably just about to come in. Sure enough, a second later, I can hear the door open, and a pair of footsteps - one set normal, the other more a series of metallic clicks - enter the shed.

“Man, this place brings back memories.” I recognize the voice as Nakai, the boy who answers lots of questions in class.

A girl’s voice - I don’t recognize it, but given the sounds of her legs and the fact she’s with Nakai, it might be Ibarazaki - groans in response. “Yeah, not the best memories I have of us.”

Nakai laughs. “Aww, c’mon, it wasn’t that bad.”

“Maybe not for you, dummy! It was pretty bad for me!”

More laughter. “Alright, alright, I get it. I was just teasing.”

“Hmph. Anyways, given that last time was such a disaster, I figured we should make some new memories of this place. You know... do it over? The right way?”

“Well, with an offer like that, how could I refuse?”

There’s a brief pause, and then a number of shuffling sounds, including what sounds like a brief effort to clear up some of the junk on the floor, and what might be the clicking sound of a lock. With neither of them saying anything, and no view of what’s going on, I really have no idea what’s happening - until a single, distinctive sound catches my attention.

The sound of a zipper being unzipped.

Surely not. Here? Like this? I mean, I know they’ve been together for a while, but... this seems almost surreal. I feel an urge to run, to leave as quickly as possible, but remain petrified, fully aware that I can’t move a muscle, lest things get even worse. I’m trapped.

After some more shuffling, and the creaking of some floorboards, Nakai speaks again. “Well look at that. I’m making good memories already.”

Ibarazaki giggles. “Come on, stupid, get on with it, before I get cold.”

“Okay, okay. Hmm... Now which of these was it, again?”

“Wha- Hey, don’t even think about it!”

“They both look pretty inviting... I wonder...”

“Hisao, I swear to god, don’t you fucking dare- Ahh!”

For a moment, only their breathing, slightly quickened, can be heard. Finally, Nakai speaks, in a whisper. “Better?”

Way better. Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet, we’re just getting started!” Another moan, followed by some grunting, and heavier breathing.

I’m almost in a daze, trying not to even think about what’s going out there, when Miki taps me on the shoulder with her stump. Were I not so desperately trying to keep quiet, I would yelp in surprise - instead, I just turn to face her, eyes wide.

She nods towards the lid of the box, and before I can figure out what she meant, she begins lifting it, a few millimeters at a time, opening the tiniest crack in the top, and letting light in.

I feel my heartbeats quicken, terrified of being found out, and my eyes begin to dart around the opening in the box, searching our new line of sight for predators. Instead, I see something much more disgusting: a pile of undulating flesh, just beginning to glimmer with sweat, writhing on the floor of the shed.

Transfixed, I begin to see individual components. A pair of legs, ending in stumps just below the knee, wrapped around a body - Nakai’s. A pair of arms, also from below, grab his shoulder blades. From these shoulders come his own arms, which caress and squeeze the body below his - Ibarazaki’s. Her head, with long twintails flowing behind it, reaches up to meet his, and muffled moans emanate from where their lips meet.

I turn to Miura, hoping at least to share in a mutual feeling of discomfort, but instead find her staring at the mound of entangled limbs before us, her eyes wide and a faint smile on her lips. Evidently she’s having fun, while I am definitely not.

Realizing that all I can do is wait for it all to be over, I lower my head and close my eyes, hoping to block out the intricate pink construction a few feet away. While I succeed in seeing only black, I find myself assaulted on another front - sound. The moans, the gasping breaths, and now even the slapping, like the rhythmic playing of a meaty drum with another slab of meat as a drumstick...

I cover my ears with my hands, but it only dampens the noises, rather than muting them entirely. I can still hear them, the vibrations permeating my own flesh - the thought sickens me. I try remembering songs, playing melodies in my head, even bad ones, in an attempt to block out the terrors of the real world. When the songs prove too soft, I try screaming in my head, being very careful not to let my vocal chords follow suit. This proves to be a tiring, yet somewhat effective, reprisal. I continue, willing the screaming to become endless, in hope that the present will pass quickly.

One hour later

Something catches my attention.

It’s gone for a moment, then comes back - it sounds like someone calling my name. Upon hearing it again, I open my eyes, and look up to see Miura, standing above me. I then realize where I am: in a box, in a shed. After taking in my surroundings, I stand up, and climb out of the box. I guess I don’t need to be in there any more.

She grins. “Looks like you fell asleep - was it really that boring?”

I begin to remember how I got here. Miura was showing me the track team. We came to this shed because she said someone would show up. I hid in the box. And then... I swear I remember Nakai and Ibarazaki coming in and having sex. Did I dream that?

I reach into the box to pick up my notepad, and while it contains no new details, it draws my attention to the mess on the floor. For the most part, bits and pieces are evenly distributed, but there’s a large, slightly damp patch in the middle of the room, devoid of miscellaneous objects.

It all rushes back to me: the flesh, the sweat, the grunting and groaning, and eventually, an unending scream. I feel my stomach churn at the memory, but shake my head to try and be rid of it.

Miura, for her part, notices. “What’s up? You seem kind of out of it.”

I open my mouth to speak, but find it difficult. After a few attempts, and some stuttering, I manage to begin, “M-Miura, I...”

“Okay, seriously, just call me Miki. I hate it when people call me Miura, it reminds me of my fucking parents.”

A bit stunned by her rebuttal, I take a moment to try and collect my thoughts. I’m still in a bit of a daze, for a number of reasons. Plus, Miu- Miki just shared something really important to her, and I should take note of that. Before I can get it all together, however, she starts the conversation on her own.

“Anyways, there is one more thing I’d like to show you about the track team.”

I flinch, averse to the idea. “Uh, M-Miki, I’m sorry, I... I d-don’t really...”

“Is it the hiding thing? I promise we won’t be hiding anywhere. Especially not the forest.”

“I... It’s...” I feel myself closing off.

“And it won’t be boring. I know waiting here all morning was dull, but seriously, this will be fun! I promise.”

Twice today I’ve managed to convince myself that following Miki around was a good idea. Both times I’ve ended up regretting it. Am I really going to give her yet another chance? I mean, at least we won’t be hiding out somewhere. And it sounds like she knows I haven’t enjoyed the day so far. Maybe she’s really trying to make up for how bad today’s been.

I decide that I’ll follow her for now, but the moment she goes somewhere I don’t want to, I’ll turn around and go home, no matter what she says. That way, I can give her the benefit of the doubt, without getting too caught up in anything.

I try to say something, but end up just nodding, and she smiles. “Awesome! Alright, let’s go!”

She sets off in the direction of the dorms, and I follow, somewhat hoping that she’s just going to show me some pictures she has in her room, or introduce me to one of the runners doing laundry or something. At this point, I’d take it.

Ten minutes later

We end up in the girls’ dorms, which is somewhat comforting - I’m just around the corner from my own room. At the very least, I have a way out.

Miki also says something slightly comforting as we reach the end of a hallway: “By the way, if anyone gets on your case, just let me do the talking. I know how to handle these guys.” With that, she knocks on the door we’re standing in front of.

After a few seconds, it opens, but not much - just a crack, with a single eye peeking through it. The eye recognizes Miki immediately, but narrows when it gets to me. A terse female voice follows it. “Can I help you?”

Miki scoffs. “How about by letting us in, Kotomi? C’mon, you know it’s me, open up!”

“Yeah, I know it’s you, but I’m not so sure about who you’re with. You know not to bring uninvited guests.”

“Seriously?” Miki pats me on the shoulder with her stump. “This is my friend... Honoka. She just wants a taste of the awesome parties you guys throw. And I gotta say, this isn’t the best first impression.”

I freeze up when I hear the word. ‘Party’. Large, loud, sociable gatherings, which I do not have good experiences with. I clutch my notebook tightly as my muscles all tense up in unison.

“Right... Well then, Honoka, what have you heard about us?”

The eye continues to stare straight at me, only tightening my lips further. I can’t do it. I can’t say anything. I don’t know what’s going on. I should turn and leave, but my legs are frozen stiff. Luckily, Miki comes to my rescue. “Oh, she’s mute. That’s why she’s got the notepad.” She motions to the pad and pen I’m holding, and I feel a bit relieved. I guess I really am supposed to let her do all the talking.

Before the girl behind the door can reply, another eye, belonging to someone taller, peeks through the crack in the door, and a different, much deeper voice speaks. “Hey, Miki! Wait a minute... Is that the girl I saw you with by the shed earlier?”

Miki grins. “Boy, I’d love to tell you, Mahiro, but apparently she’s not allowed in.”

“Whaaat? Come on, Kotomi, what’s the deal?”

“But... ugh, fine, whatever.”

The girl leaves, and the door opens, revealing a tall boy with a big smile. He holds out one fist, and Miki punches it softly with her own before walking into the room. I cautiously follow, and the door swings shut behind me.

The room is far too packed for my liking. It’s a normal dorm room, like my own, but with six people crammed into it - eight, actually, now that Miki and I are here. One guy’s sitting on the desk, a boy and two girls are sitting on the bed talking to each other, and Kotomi, the girl we first met, is leaning against the wall by the door. I have no idea where we’re supposed to go, but Miki and Mahiro sit down on the floor next to the bed, so I follow suit.

I’m content just to listen to them talking - from what I gather, it’s something about an injury Mahiro just got over - but I’m interrupted by the boy sitting on the bed, who leans over towards me. “Hey, new girl!”

I turn to look at him - he’s staring back at me expectantly. I panic a little, then remember I’m supposed to use the notepad, so I scribble down a greeting. [Hi. I’m Honoka.] The name is weird, but I’ve come this far, and can’t turn back now.

I hand the notepad to the boy, and he smiles. “Honoka, huh? Nice name.” He hands back the notepad, then motions to one ear. “You can hear me, right?”

I nod in response, and hope nobody here knows sign language, because I certainly don’t.

“Awesome! So, what brings you to one of our infamous track bangers?”

Uh oh. I freeze up again, not sure what to do. I don’t even really know what he’s asking. Luck must really be on my side, though, as I’m saved by a knock on the door.

Kotomi opens it, and a boy carrying a large gym bag walks in. “Ladies and gentlemen, the party has arrived!”

The room suddenly becomes even more cramped, as everyone else stands up and clusters around the newcomer, who starts rifling through his bag. I don’t understand why until the partygoers return to their seats carrying suspicious-looking aluminum cans. My theory is confirmed when someone hands me one, and I read the label: it’s a cheap beer. At this point, I’m not even surprised, just kind of exasperated.

I do briefly consider that this is supposed to help everyone relax, which I could certainly do with. That thought is quickly shot down by memories of the last time I had alcohol, for Lilly’s birthday. It was just the two of us back then, and it’s still embarrassing to think about. Acting like that in front of strangers is the last thing I want, so I set the can on the floor next to me, unopened, as Miki downs an entire can in one go and asks for another.

Everyone starts talking to each other, and someone starts playing some electronic music out of a small CD player, only adding to the cacophony. I try to pick out interesting bits and pieces of conversation, but it’s just too loud and chaotic.

Not wanting to draw attention to myself, I just sit and stare at one unoccupied corner of the room, and try not to think too hard about how today has gone.

Seven hours later

“Hanako, how are you doing, girrrrrl?”

Miki using my real name would’ve been bad earlier, but by now it doesn’t matter. Of the other people in the room, two just went home, two passed out on the bed together at some point, and the other three “went to the bathroom” a few hours ago and haven’t come back. That makes Miki and I the only two conscious ones here - though ‘conscious’ might be a bit generous at this point.

“We did all this fucking awesome stuff today, but we never really talked, you know? Like, about your life and shit.”

I was hoping she’d pass out too, so I could go home without anyone caring, but she’s proven resilient. As if to prove a point, she reaches over, grabs the single unopened can I was given earlier, and downs it in one go. She tosses it towards the trash can, misses completely, then leans over towards me.

“You’re, like, a mystery. There’s gotta be sooooo much cool shit in your head, right? Like, who even are you, sister?”

Finally deciding that I’m too tired to deal with all this, I get up, stretch, and leave the room - only to find that Miki is following me, her breath carrying a noticeable scent of alcohol.

“I get it, right? You’re the loner type. Not about to spill the beans with those fuckers around, am I right?”

I should really take her to her room, since I don’t think she’s in much of a state to find it herself. But then, I have no idea where her room is, and I’m not about to try and work it out of her. I decide that it’s her own problem, and start the short walk to my room.

Unfortunately, she follows me all the way there, and as I unlock and open the door, she barges in before me. She spends a moment looking around, no doubt thinking that my room looks bland and undecorated, but forgets all that the moment she sees my bed.

“Oh fuck yeah, this looks comfy as hell! You sure know how to throw an after-party, sis.” Then, before I can protest, she flops down onto my bed, face-first, and goes still.

It takes me a second to realize what’s happened. I realize that I haven’t even closed the door, so I do that first, before going over to inspect her. Sure enough, she’s out cold, her limbs draped lazily over the bed. I wish she had done that ten minutes ago, but I guess this will have to do.

I take off my shoes and tie before realizing that she’s sleeping in my bed - which means that I can’t. There’s no room around her, and I don’t particularly feel like sharing anyways.

I briefly try to shake her awake, or pull her off the bed and onto the floor - this is my bed, damn it - but she’s too heavy and awkward to move. Instead, I yank my pillow out from under her and place it gently on the floor, then sigh. It’s a long sigh, encompassing everything I’ve had to deal with today. I guess it’s not over yet.

I lie down on the floor, the soft pillow at least making my head comfortable, and close my eyes, hoping that tomorrow will be better than today was.

The next morning

The first thought that comes to mind is that my shoulder hurts. I instinctively try to move it away from the pain, but doing so shifts my entire torso instead, which wakes me up a little. I slowly gain awareness of my body, and feel myself pressed up against a hard, flat surface. As it’s below me, I gather it must be the floor.

Not sure why I’d be on the floor, I open my eyes, just a little. Sure enough, I’m on the floor. And yet, my head feels rather comfortable. I turn to see why, and find my pillow. Why is it on the floor too?

That wakes me up just enough to remember: I’m on the floor because Miki took my bed, after... after the mess that was yesterday. Great.

I groan and get up, wondering what I’m even going to do with her. When I look over at my bed, however, it’s empty, if a bit ruffled. Maybe she left already? Wondering whether I could be so lucky - and also how she managed to do so, while hungover, without waking me up - I stand up and survey my whole room.

Sure enough, the tan-skinned girl is nowhere to be seen. My bed isn’t empty, though; an unfamiliar piece of bright pink cloth sits in the middle, along with a permanent marker taken from my desk. I lean in to get a better look, and immediately regret it.

It’s a pair of neon-pink panties - presumably Miki’s, since I certainly don’t own any underwear that loud - with the word ‘Thanks!’ written across the front in black marker, along with a little heart.

Ew.

I guess it was silly of me to think that yesterday’s disastrous events wouldn’t spill over into today. I sigh, then try to think about how I’m going to get rid of these.

Looking at my trash can, it’s only half full, and I don’t want to leave these just sitting in plain sight until I have to take the trash out again. I decide that I should take them to the trash can in the bathroom, which is deeper and covered and anonymous and not in my room. I groan, then carefully grab one corner of the garment between my thumb and index finger, and slowly pick it up, holding it at arm’s length.

Next, I open my door a crack, just making sure that nobody’s in the hallway. Perfect - the last thing I want is to be seen.

I duck out of my room, then rush to the bathroom door, and barge through it - only to find a large figure staring back at me. “Ah!”

“Ah!” The figure flinches and gasps too, by which point I realize that it’s just Lilly.

I freeze for a second, having been caught in a compromising position, before realizing that she can’t see what I’m holding, which is relieving. “Oh, Lilly, sorry, you... you scared me.”

She chuckles. “As did you.” I begin to walk over to the garbage, but she continues. “Were you out last night? I didn’t hear you around.”

“Oh, y-yeah. I was out working on... the newspaper.” Not a complete lie.

“Oh, good!” She smiles. “You had fun, I hope?”

By this point I’ve made my way to the garbage, and drop the disgusting garment in. “It was... an experience.” I walk over to the sink to wash my hands, and finally be done with this crazy morning.

Lilly giggles. “Well, that’s something, I suppose. Anyways, would you be up for lunch in the tea room later?”

“Sure, that, um... that sounds good!” Something comes to mind as I go to dry my hands off. “I have t-to meet with the newspaper club first, though.”

“Goodness, they really do work you to the bone!” she says jokingly, still smiling. “Ah well, I won’t keep you, then. Until later!”

“O-okay, bye!”

She turns and leaves, and I’m left alone in the bathroom. Right, the newspaper club meeting. What am I even going to say? Maybe all the stuff I dealt with yesterday could make a good story? It seems unlikely, but I should at least ask.

Perhaps it wasn’t a total loss after all.

One hour later

Naomi, Natsume and I gather in the center of the room. We like to start each meeting of the newspaper club by talking about what we’ve been doing since the last meeting, to get ideas for what stories we can run. At the last meeting, I found out that the track team has a meet coming up, and figured I could learn something about that... if only I had known.

Naomi begins, a smile on her face “Alright then! Who wants to start us off?”

I don’t feel great - I didn’t sleep particularly well last night - but I should just get it over with. There is, however, something worrying me, in the back of my mind, and I should deal with that first. “Um... B-before that, I have, uh... I have a question.”

Naomi cocks her head to one side. “Sure thing, what’s up?”

“Is there anything we... aren’t allowed publish?”

Naomi smirks. “Of course not! As this school’s official newspaper, it’s our job to publish everything people need to know, even if they don’t want to!”

Natsume sighs, then adjusts her glasses. “Yes, Hanako, there are things we aren’t allowed to put in the paper.” She holds out three fingers, and counts them off: “Lies, defamation, security concerns. If we breach any of those, we had better have a damn good reason for it, because it could well end up in front of the principal.”

“Okay...” I’m not really sure if those apply to what I learned yesterday, so I decide to be more specific. “So what about... what if, during an... interview, someone talked about other people who were... not getting along?”

Naomi’s eyes light up, but Natsume is less enthused. “Nope, that’s just rumor, which is as good as a lie unless you have evidence to back it up. Besides, if you included someone’s name, they could claim it’s defamatory, too.”

Well, there goes that part. “Okay. And then, what if some students had a party on campus, and had a bunch of alcohol?”

Naomi audibly gasps with excitement, but Natsume is there to bring her back to Earth. “That sounds like security’s job, not ours. If you have evidence of that, turn it over to them, and we can interview them afterwards for a story.”

Crap, that’s two strikes. Well, I still have one more shot. “Alright, b-but then, what if... what about if two students did... inappropriate things in a... school room?”

Naomi gets so excited and jumpy that for a moment I wonder if she’s having a seizure. “This is fantastic! We have to-”

“Nope, nope, no way.” Natsume stops her prematurely. “That’s definitely defamatory, so we’d have to remove all references to any real people or places, and just run the headline ‘Students Have Sex on Campus’.” She turns to Naomi. “Perhaps you’d also like to headline the weather section with ‘Rain Found to Be Wet’?”

Naomi seems rather peeved at being shut down so hard, but groans and carries on. “Fine. So, Hanako, what did you pick up over the past few days?”

“Um...” I flip through my notepad, finding many of the things I wrote yesterday, all of which are apparently out of the question. “I, uh...”

Natsume tries to help jog my memory. “You were interested in the track team, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, they, uh...”

I search frantically, before finally finding a line that I had completely forgotten I wrote. I take a deep breath, then go for it.

“I interviewed someone who’s b-been in on the team for two and a half years, and... they think they’re going to win this next meet.”

END.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Destroyer, Dreamy, Undercover Journalism, and Project Blue Curtain)
Old poetry: Google Drive Collection

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Scroff
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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Apr 8, 2019: Undercover Journalism)

Post by Scroff » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:40 pm

So much fun! Wonderful dynamics between Miki and Hanako, and Naomi and Natsume.

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