Crafty's One-Shots (Oct 26th, 2019: Someone Part 2)

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Someone (1/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:41 pm

Someone
Emi couldn’t tell whether she wanted time to pass faster or slower.

Lying on her bed, the side of her face pressed into her pillow, she stared at the alarm clock on her nightstand. Every time it ticked up, it was proof that she had spent another minute doing absolutely nothing. If she stared long enough, days might slip away, like sand through her fingers.

That thought brought back a memory. She pushed it away. She had enough problems as it was. The last thing she needed was to start worrying about how many days were left until she cared which day it was.

She hadn’t actually wasted whole days like this, at least not yet. Her appetite, though diminished, wasn’t gone, and still made her get up to eat every now and then. She tried to do it late at night, going out to the convenience store in town so as to avoid having to see any of her classmates or friends.

She could’ve stocked up on food, letting her spend more time here in her room, but something inside her hoped that maybe, while she was out eating, something would happen. What exactly she was hoping for, she didn’t know. Something good? Something bad? Anything at all?

She closed her eyes. Sometimes this made time go faster. Sometimes it made it go slower. Eventually, she got bored of holding her eyelids closed, and opened them again. Things had gone slower this time. She wondered if there was a way to tell which it would be. She decided that she didn’t need to know.

Soon after, however, someone knocked at her door, which surprised her. She decided to ignore them. They couldn’t help, and she didn’t want them to waste their time trying. So she remained still and silent, expecting to hear them leave.

Instead, they knocked again, and a familiar voice called from outside. “Come on, Emi, I know you’re in there.” It was Miki. She probably didn’t actually know that Emi was inside, she was just guessing. So Emi remained quiet.

Shortly thereafter, the doorknob turned, and Emi’s eyes widened in alarm: she hadn’t locked the door. Maybe she had forgotten the last time she came in, or maybe the part of her that was hoping for something had left it that way on purpose. Regardless, the door swung open, and a familiar tan-skinned girl walked in.

Emi exhaled slowly, partly in annoyance and partly to show that she was alive. Miki approached, the door swinging shut behind her, and sat next to Emi on the bed. Emi expected her to say something, but she remained quiet, and eventually Emi couldn’t stand the judgemental silence any longer.

“Did Kenta send you?” The track captain was someone Emi knew might be looking for her.

“No, Kenta wanted to come find you himself. I convinced him to let me come instead. You’re welcome.”

Emi sighed, but knew that this was indeed the better option. “Thanks.”

“So. What’s wrong?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know damn well what I mean.”

Exactly how Emi has imagined this conversation going. She tried stayed quiet again.

“Look, you haven’t shown up to class in a few days. I get it. Screw class. You haven’t shown up to running practice in a few days, either. Whatever. We’re not gonna make you practice. Hell, we’re not gonna make you run if you don't want to.” Miki shifted, leaning forward a bit. “You haven’t spoken to, as far as I could find, a single person in a few days. We missed you, but fair enough. Everyone needs some alone time.” Miki finally turned to face Emi, who tried not to make eye contact. “You haven’t been to the cafeteria in days. Now something’s up. So what is it?”

Emi mentally celebrated for pulling off her food runs without anyone knowing. That was something, at least. Not that it would make this conversation any easier. She rolled over onto her back, and stared at the ceiling. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know, or you do know and just don’t want to tell me?”

Emi had to think about that one for a moment. “A little bit of both.”

“Alright then. Is it a medical thing?”

“No.”

“Is it a drama thing?”

“No.”

“Is it your- Is it a family thing?”

The emphasis was pretty clear. “Sort of, but not really.”

“Okay. Is it a boy?”

Emi’s face scrunched up. “No, of course not!”

“Really? Seemed like you were pretty salty about-”

“Shut up.” That had been annoying, certainly. And, truth be told, Emi had been thinking about that a bit over the past few days. Not about any specific boy - certainly not the specific boy who was practically ancient history to her by now - but about boys in general. About having a relationship and getting married and living a happy life. “It’s not a boy, okay?”

“Fine, sure, it’s not a boy. But would a boy help?”

While there was a possibility that a boy could theoretically help, Emi knew that Miki’s attitude towards the situation would never produce such a result. “I promise that it definitely would not help.”

“Alright, suit yourself. So what about me? What can I do to help?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, tough, because I have to try something anyways.”

“Miki, please don’t-” Emi’s protest was cut short when Miki gasped.

“I’ve got it!”

Emi groaned. “Miki, seriously, can you-”

“This is a perfect idea, and you’re not going to convince me otherwise.”

“Whatever it is, I don’t want to.”

Miki sighed. “Look, Emi, please will you do this for me? Even if it’s just to get me off your back?”

Emi knew that Miki wouldn’t stop trying, so that part was an empty promise. But maybe Miki really would feel better if she felt like she was helping. Besides, once she left, Emi could lock the door and never have to worry about anyone bothering her again, if it came to it. With that backup plan in mind, she finally gave in. “Fine. What is it?”

“There’s someone I want you to meet.”

Emi narrowed her eyes. “Miki, if you’re trying to set me up on a date, I swear to god-”

“I’m not setting you up with any boys, okay? Geez, stop being so touchy. I just want you to meet someone, because I think you two would gain a lot from talking to each other. That’s all.” She smirked. “Besides, why would I let you have any of the good boys when I could have them for myself?”

This made Emi laugh for the first time in days. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think you had found any boys, let alone any good ones.”

“Shut up.” Brushing it off, Miki stood up. “I’ll text you the details once I talk to them. Go meet ‘em, or I’ll tell Kenta you wanted to see him personally.” That threat actually worried Emi. “Oh, and, uh... I hope you feel better, okay? Seriously.” With that, Miki left, and Emi went back to doing nothing.

That said, some little part of her had something new to hope for.
Last edited by Craftyatom on Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Someone (2/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:41 pm

Emi hadn’t done much in the day since Miki had visited. Or at least, she hadn’t physically done much. Her thoughts had been much more animated. Miki had apparently been in contact with this stranger - but who were they? What were they like? Why was Miki so insistent that the two of them meet? Why hadn’t she said anything about who they were? Emi could only wonder.

Not that she would wonder for much longer. Miki had texted her, saying that the meeting had been planned for 5:00 PM today, on a small secluded bench behind the school. Emi took this to mean that she was probably going to be meeting up with another student here, which ruled out more possibilities than it should’ve. Still not quite able to convince herself that it was the right thing to do, she left her room and began walking there.

It all seemed so surreal. Part of that was just being out and about in the daylight for the first time in a few days, but part of it was simply not knowing who would be there. Or maybe nobody would be there yet - she had left a bit early, and would probably show up before the stranger.

Finally turning the corner and sighting the bench, Emi saw that she had indeed gotten here before the stranger - but there was a problem. The bench was occupied. Emi recognized the interloper as Misha, the student council vice president with bright pink hair. She had cut it fairly recently, doing away with her once-characteristic drills, but the loud color still made her unmistakable.

As Emi stood there for a moment taking in the situation, Misha noticed, and waved at her with a smile. They were friends, certainly: they had talked to each other a lot, sometimes at lunch, sometimes in the hallways, sometimes at track meets. At some point, Emi had spoken to her about a new transfer into her class, who could often be found with her and Shizune. That felt like a long time ago, now.

Knowing that anything else would look suspicious, Emi smiled back, and began walking over. In her head, however, she was terrified: what if Misha saw her meeting the stranger? There were sure to be rumors. Emi had to convince Misha to leave. Maybe she could make up a story about Shizune needing her? Since the blue-haired girl was - somewhat surprisingly - nowhere to be seen, that would probably be a good distraction.

As Emi approached and sat down, Misha greeted her. “Hey, Emi~! I haven’t talked to you in a while.”

“Yeah, hey Misha, so, um-”

“What brings you to this lovely~ place?”

“Well, uh, you know, I just saw Shizune.”

Misha seemed to take notice, her smile becoming a questioning look. “You did?”

“Yeah, I did! And, um, she said she needed your help, actually.” A short, uncomfortable silence began to drag on between them, that Emi felt the need to fill. “So maybe you should go help her, right? I mean, maybe she really needs you?”

Misha’s face, having been mostly expressionless, seemed to darken for a fraction of a second before she burst into laughter. “Wahaha~! You know, Emi, you shouldn’t go around telling lies to your friends like that.”

Emi was dumbfounded. How could Misha have known? “Wh-what? No, I-”

“How about this, Emi: I’ll tell you why I~ came here, and maybe that’ll jog your memory a bit! Okay?” Emi wasn’t even given a chance to respond. “Okay okay! So! I got a message from a friend of mine, saying that there was someone she really~ thought I should meet, so I suggested that we could meet here at 5 o’clock!”

The gears in Emi’s head had to turn for a second before she realized what Misha was getting at. “That friend of yours, was that... Miki?”

“Wahahahaha~! So you are here to meet me! Hooray!”

One mystery had been solved, but another presented itself as a corollary. Why would Miki have wanted them to meet? Sure, they were friends, but not best friends. It wasn’t like Misha’s smile would burn away the gloom that had been following Emi - if anything, her overbearing nature was kind of grating now.

Beginning to think that Miki might’ve just made a terrible decision, Emi decided check with Misha. “Did Miki tell you why she thought we should meet up?”

“Well, she said you had been feeling down lately, and that maybe I could cheer you up! And I think I know exactly~ how to do that!”

Emi’s fears that this whole effort was a huge mistake were temporarily quieted by her curiosity. What could Misha possibly do to lift her spirits? Knowing her, it would be something stupid, like cake or balloons or a good joke. And yet, a little piece of Emi told her that she had to find out. “You do?”

“Yes I do~!” Misha stood up. “Come on, follow me!”

Emi got up and followed. “Where are we going?”

“My room!”

This almost confirmed Emi’s suspicions: Misha probably had something in her room that she thought would just magically make everything better. She didn’t understand. And yet, Emi had to follow her. Around the school building, towards the dorms, through the common room, up the stairs, and down the hall, finally arriving at the door to Misha’s room.

Misha unlocked her door, pushed it open, and motioned with a smile for Emi to enter.

Emi walked in and took a look around: the room was about what she expected. Bright pink sheets, a few stuffed animals here and there, one or two posters on the wall. It was bright, loud, and somewhat grating, just the girl who lived in it. Well, no surprise there.

Emi heard the door close behind her, then heard Misha exhale deeply, which sounded strange. She turned around to look, and shrieked a little at what she saw. “Ah!”

Misha wasn’t really that much different, but something about her had definitely changed: her face, always in a wide smile, was downcast. Her mouth was a thin, emotionless line, and her eyes looked more tired than she could possibly be. Her whole body seemed to have slumped a bit. Even Emi’s brief squeal didn’t get much of a reaction out of her, besides a cursory question. “What’s up?”

It took Emi a moment to collect herself. “You... You, like, died a little once the door closed!”

One corner of Misha’s mouth turned up, just the slightest bit. She chuckled, and it sounded unlike anything Emi had ever heard from her - rather than her characteristic, boisterous laugh, it was just a few soft, raspy sounds. “Sorry. It’s tough keeping up appearances.” She walked over and sat down on the side of the bed.

Emi, still standing, was confused. “Appearances?”

Misha nodded. “Yeah. I don’t always feel very, uh... you know, upbeat. But I do my best to look happy anyways.” As a demonstration, she showed off her glowing, carefree smile for a second, before deflating into a fatigued mess again. “Ugh.” She shook her head.

“So... You’re just putting it on like that? All the time?” The thought was terrifying.

“Not all the time.” Misha sighed. “A hell of a lot more lately, though.”

Emi sat down next to her, to move the conversation to a more even footing. “What happened recently?”

“Shizune got herself a boyfriend.” Misha’s face showed she felt bitter about it.

A realization struck Emi, and before she could even think about it, a name rolled off her tongue. “Hisao.”

“Yup, that’s the one.”

Misha glanced at her alarm clock, then groaned, which worried Emi a bit. “What’s up?”

“Ugh, it’s...” She sighed. “So yesterday, I followed Shizune to the store. Sometimes it really helps for her to have a translator along, you know? That’s kind of my thing. And she kept saying that I didn’t have to come, I could stay home if I wanted, she could handle it, but I thought it’d just be nice to spend some time together, you know? Without me feeling like a third wheel?”

She pursed her lips. “Turns out the main reason she was there was to buy ‘intimate protection’ for when she went over to Hisao’s place today, and they’re probably using it right now. Eugh.” Her face remained scrunched up in disgust for a bit. “That’s how I knew you were lying earlier, by the way.”

While she wasn’t entirely sure that she should be privy to this information, Emi understood how it could be a bit unsettling. Still, it didn’t seem like the sort of thing that would’ve made Misha this depressed. Something was missing. Something else about this relationship was hurting her.

“A-ha!” Emi exclaimed, drawing Misha’s attention.

“What?”

“That’s not the whole story, is it? There’s a reason their relationship gets to you!”

A grim smirk spread onto Misha’s face. “I guess so.”

“You feel worse about all of this because you had a crush on Hisao too!”

Misha’s smirk disappeared, leaving her with a blank expression for a second. Shortly thereafter, however, her smile returned, and she began to laugh. It was heartier than her earlier dull chuckles, but still nothing like her usual laugh. Finally, after a while, she calmed down, and spoke to Emi, who was by now somewhat confused. “Close, but not quite. He wasn’t really what I wanted.”

This only confused Emi further. Close? “Huh? What do you mean?”

Misha sighed, then stared at her feet. “Her. I wanted her. Shizune.” She brought her hands up to cover her face, muffling her words. “God, it’s been like a year since I confessed to her, and still...”

Emi was still in the middle of processing this when Misha dropped her hands back down at her sides and continued. “You know, sometimes I think about finding a boy, just to get back at her. Hell, sometimes I think the only reason I’m still looking for a girl is to get back at her. I shouldn’t be thinking like that, I mean, she’s supposed to be my best friend, but... I’ve never actually felt that way.”

The room fell silent for a few seconds before Emi tried to respond. “So you, uh... You’re, uh, into, you know...”

Misha nodded. “Yeah, I like girls. Which I kind of hate, at this point. And, I mean, it’s not even consistent: sometimes I get interested in a boy, sometimes I can’t stand a girl... But with Shizune, I knew, from the moment I saw her. Fat lot of good it’s done me.” She paused again, then looked at Emi. “So I’m assuming you’re not?”

“Huh?”

“You’re not into girls.”

“Oh, no, of course not. Well, I mean, I guess I’ve never really, y’know, uh-”

“Don’t worry about it. Just means you’re normal, like everybody else.” Misha sighed. “Sometimes I feel like it’s just me. Like there isn’t a single other person out there who can relate.”

Finally, Emi saw her opening to try and help. “This might, uh, sound weird, but I can relate. Sort of.” Misha looked interested, so Emi continued. “All you want is a... a nice relationship. Someone who really, really cares about you.”

Misha shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. I just want to love someone, and actually have them love me back.”

“Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s part of why I’ve been feeling so down lately.” Emi folded her hands in her lap. “I had a crush on Hisao, when he first showed up.”

Misha grinned, though her eyes still looked sad. “He’s in high demand, huh.”

“You know what, I don’t even care about him any more. When I first found out he and Shizune were kind of a thing, I was kind of pissed, but by now, whatever. It’s not that I still want him, I just want... someone. I spent all this time thinking about getting into a relationship, and now it’s like I have to go back to real life.”

“Yeah... yeah.” Misha hung her head. “I can relate to that.”

“But we can handle it! I mean, it sucks, but at least it only sucks for now. Give it a few months, and we’ll be at university, and then everything will be different. Hopefully better.”

Misha thought about it for a moment, then smiled. “I guess you’re right. We’ll just have to deal with it for now. And I’m good at that.”

Emi didn’t particularly like the implication, but it sounded like they had reached an accord. “Well hey, um... Thanks for talking with me. And sharing all this with me.” Only now did she realize how much Misha had revealed.

Misha smiled, and it looked genuine. “No problem. It was nice to have someone to share with.”

Emi got up and headed for the door. “I’ll see you around?”

“Yeah. I’ll see you.”
Last edited by Craftyatom on Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Someone (3/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:41 pm

“Well look who it is!”

Emi rolled her eyes at Miki’s greeting. “Yeah, I showed up to practice, big whoop. I need to talk to you.”

Miki smirked. “Oh? And what might you need to talk to little old me about?”

“Shut up, let’s start running.” Emi made her way to the track in a huff, and Miki followed, still clearly amused.

They started jogging at a relatively slow pace, which gave Emi more than enough breath to hold a conversation with. “Did you try to set me up?”

Miki was now grinning from ear to ear. “Who, me? Whatever do you mean?”

“Miki, I’m not even into... that!”

“Are you sure?”

Emi was glad she could blame her reddened cheeks on the exercise. “Yes I’m goddamn sure!” She narrowed her eyes in disbelief. “Didn’t you watch me practically run myself ragged trying to go after Hisao?”

Miki shrugged, as much as she could while still moving her arms. “So? Misha was kinda into Hisao too. Besides, you seem like the adventurous type.” She punctuated her sentence with a wink.

“Ugh! Look, I’m not, okay?”

“Alright, alright, you’re not. So maybe setting you two up was never going to work. But she got you out and about again, didn’t she?”

Emi had to cede that point. “Fine. It was really nice talking to her. I never knew she was-”

“A raging lesbian?” Miki’s grin only seemed to grow stronger.

“No! Okay, I mean, I didn’t know that either, but I didn’t know she was so... so sad.”

Miki’s smile finally dimmed a bit. “Yeah. It was a shock for me too. I knew she probably wasn’t quite as upbeat as she put on, but she’s really, really, just... yeah, sad. But actually, that’s why I thought you two should meet - I felt like you had something in common.”

“Huh?”

“Oh, come on. You’re telling me you don’t have a bunch of dark emotions stashed away behind that cutesy exterior of yours?”

Emi had to think about this one. “I don’t... think so? I mean, I try my best to be positive, but I don’t really bottle things up like she does.”

“If you don’t bottle it up, then can you tell me why you were so down the past few days?”

Emi got the feeling that Miki had planned that one. “Ugh, fine.” She took a deep breath. “I want to be in a relationship.”

“Called it!” Miki yelled.

“No, no, not like - like, I want a significant other, not one of your stupid boys.”

“Ooh, how romantic - might you have a certain someone in mind? A certain someone who’s tall and handsome? And who went running with you, like, twice? And who-”

Emi groaned. “No, it’s not about him. He got me thinking about it originally, but I don’t care about him anymore, just... the whole idea.” She pursed her lips. “Not to mention that the anniversary is coming up soon. That’s not helping.”

Miki took a second to realize what Emi was saying. “Oh. Right. I wondered if that was coming up.”

“Yeah. It’s not the best. But I think I feel a bit better about it now. I should focus on the future, not the past.”

They remained silent for a bit, just running along next to each other, before Miki reached over and patted Emi on the shoulder. “Well hey, you’re welcome.”

Emi raised an eyebrow. “For trying to set me up on a date with a girl?”

“For solving all your problems, dumbass.”

This made Emi laugh, and Miki followed suit. “Alright, alright. Thank you, Miki, for your ideas, which weren’t complete BS.”

“Any time.”

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

Trying not to hesitate, Emi knocked on the door as soon as she reached it. Sure enough, a cheery voice responded from inside.

“Come in~!”

Emi turned the handle and opened the door, stepping inside Misha’s room, which seemed mostly unchanged since she had seen it last.

Misha herself was sitting at her desk, and smiled. “Oh, hey Emi. What’s up?”

“Nothing much, really, I, uh... I just wanted to talk to you about something.”

“Oh? Are you feeling down again?”

“No, I’ve actually been doing a lot better recently. Thanks for that, by the way. I wanted to return the favor.”

Misha raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I talked to Miki, and she mentioned how she kind of keeps an eye out for anyone who might be... interested. In you. I was thinking I could do that too, if you wanted me to.”

This got a chuckle out of Misha, which Emi wasn’t quite expecting. “Thank you for the offer, Emi, but I don’t know if... if I even want something like that anymore.”

Emi thought back to their prior conversation. “Come on, we talked about how it’s perfectly normal to want something like that. I still do, at least a bit. Don’t you?”

Misha stared blankly for a moment, then sighed. “I guess you’re right.” She perked up. “So you’ll keep an eye out for me?”

Emi nodded. “I’m not sure how useful it’ll be, but I’ll try my best.”

Misha grinned. “In that case, I’ll keep an eye out for boys you might like in return!”

“Oh god no, send them to Miki. She’s not picky like I am.”

This caused Misha to break out giggling for a bit, and Emi joined in. “That’s rude, Emi! But I guess you’re right.” After exhaling to calm herself down, Misha made another offer. “Well, how about in return, you can come and talk to me whenever you need to?”

“Sure - and you can always come talk to me, too.” This reminded Emi of something else she had thought of while talking to Miki. “Actually, I think you really should. I feel like you might be bottling some emotions up.”

Misha’s smile faded. “Yeah, I do. And it feels bad. But... what else can I do? That’s just how-”

“Come talk to me, seriously. If nothing else, you can get some stuff off our chest.”

Misha thought about it for a bit, then nodded, and gave Emi a wide smile. “Alright, then. You’ll be the official outlet for all my sad thoughts!”

Emi had to chuckle at that. “Glad to help. You deserve it.”

Misha opened her mouth to object, but stopped herself, and paused for a moment before replying. “Thank you, Emi.”

“Thank you too, Misha.”

END.

Part 2
Last edited by Craftyatom on Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:09 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Brief Exchanges, Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
Old poetry: Google Drive Collection

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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by brythain » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:46 am

That was sweet and warm and kind. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:49 am

"...Give it a few months, and we’ll be at university, and then everything will be different. Hopefully better.”
This sentence felt strange coming from Emi.

Was this story in any way inspired by certain recent revelations by a certain KS dev?
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 (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by NuclearStudent » Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:10 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:49 am
"...Give it a few months, and we’ll be at university, and then everything will be different. Hopefully better.”
This sentence felt strange coming from Emi.

Was this story in any way inspired by certain recent revelations by a certain KS dev?
?

Anyway, on Someone the story itself:

The introduction has a handful of prose issues which could be improved. For instance, it's a rather jarring cliche to have days slip away "like sand through her fingers." Additionally,, the transition to depressed Misha gave me pause. It very much felt like Misha suddenly revealed herself as a depressed middle aged man wearing a wig. Just that little something goofy and off about the transition. Regardless of how well the transition was handled, I enjoyed candid depressed Misha herself. She was fun. I didn't enjoy the tone-break back to Miki jibbing about Misha being "a raging lesbian," which seemed tonally inappropriate. This story was a good thing overall.

edit:

to be more specific about the goofiness, Misha had been apparently keeping it in from everybody else for literally the entire run of KS, and never really comes out with it to anyone

except poof here

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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:03 am

to be more specific about the goofiness, Misha had been apparently keeping it in from everybody else for literally the entire run of KS, and never really comes out with it to anyone - except poof here
Tbf, on Shizune's path Hisao - our only source of information as readers - does not have much contact with anyone but Shizune and Misha, plus he is... not the most observant in issues like that, so I'm not sure just how secret Misha's secret actually is. At the very least in this story it is not so secret that Miki wouldn't catch on to it...
Also she needs someone to talk to and sees Emi has similar problems, so opening up to her seems logical.
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 (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:27 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:49 am
"...Give it a few months, and we’ll be at university, and then everything will be different. Hopefully better.”
This sentence felt strange coming from Emi.
It's definitely not in-character for Emi canonically. I think it works for the version of her being depicted, though: without Hisao, feeling kind of lost or trapped, university might seem a lot more inviting, and certainly might to Misha. That said, I may well have swung too far - tough to tell.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:49 am
Was this story in any way inspired by certain recent revelations by a certain KS dev?
I'm not even sure what you're referring to, so definitely not.
NuclearStudent wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:10 am
The introduction has a handful of prose issues which could be improved. For instance, it's a rather jarring cliche to have days slip away "like sand through her fingers."
While the metaphor itself is certainly very old, I followed it immediately with her remembering a moment when she literally had sand slip through her fingers. This is a very real feeling, and it would be silly to feel a need to describe it differently just because others have used the same terminology in the past. I'm definitely not the first person to describe a depressive episode, and I don't claim to be. If you have further, unrelated qualms with my style, feel free to voice them.
NuclearStudent wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:10 am
Additionally,, the transition to depressed Misha gave me pause. It very much felt like Misha suddenly revealed herself as a depressed middle aged man wearing a wig. Just that little something goofy and off about the transition.

[...] to be more specific about the goofiness, Misha had been apparently keeping it in from everybody else for literally the entire run of KS, and never really comes out with it to anyone[,] except poof here
In canon, the fact that Misha has a whole host of suppressed emotions is a huge deal. I'd call it the biggest point of conflict, but recognize that might not be completely true. Regardless, there's a lot that she tries to keep hidden from Hisao and Shizune, one of whom is the only canonical narrator we have. I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that she could have friends with whom she shares these hidden thoughts, as she's still an inherently social person. In this story, Miki is one of those friends, and Emi becomes another. It's canon that Misha, at certain points, is "putting on" her cheery demeanor, and this story is simply an extension of that fact.
NuclearStudent wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:10 am
I didn't enjoy the tone-break back to Miki jibbing about Misha being "a raging lesbian," which seemed tonally inappropriate.
That particular line was Miki using a satirical label in an attempt to unsettle Emi (a form of teasing) - it's jarring because that was the intent behind its usage. That is a success of, not a fault in, her characterization. That it bothered you simply means that you might not get along with the Miki being depicted.
NuclearStudent wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:10 am
I enjoyed candid depressed Misha herself. She was fun. [...] This story was a good thing overall.
brythain wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:46 am
That was sweet and warm and kind. :)
Thanks for your feedback, and I'm glad people enjoyed it (overall)!
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Brief Exchanges, Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:48 am

I'm not even sure what you're referring to, so definitely not.
TheHivemind said in a recent interview that there was a scrapped Bad End Epilogue for Emi's route where Hisao meets Emi at college, and she has since gotten together with Misha.
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 (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by NuclearStudent » Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:38 pm

That particular line was Miki using a satirical label in an attempt to unsettle Emi (a form of teasing) - it's jarring because that was the intent behind its usage. That is a success of, not a fault in, her characterization. That it bothered you simply means that you might not get along with the Miki being depicted.
I think I'd quite get along with Miki. She's like friends I know. I found it rather like using the phrase "big sexy." I think I really wouldn't mind if someone said that IRL, but in the meta context of a story, I find it rather annoying unless the story is a meme story.

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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by Feurox » Mon Sep 30, 2019 6:10 pm

Whist it is likely I would have commented on this story regardless, I feel it prudent to acknowledge that Crafty’s ‘Someone’ was written in response to the Yamaku Academy discord server competition, and that as such, Crafty was assigned one of three potential judges to give feedback for his piece. It so happens that I was randomly selected for this process, and so here we are.

With regards to the scoring of competition entries, the judges have opted for a five-point system. With one point allocated to SpaG and another allocated to style. The remaining points are attributed based on whether or not we liked the story. Each judge will do this for each story, and the winning competition entry will be the story with the highest number of points. Is this system perfect? No. It does however allow us some simplicity with regards to curating and judging these stories, and hopefully means our turnaround time isn’t too bad.
Whilst I won’t reveal how many points I gave this story, I will preface my comment by saying that I have given full points to this story for both SpaG and Style, and thus I won’t be discussing those things in this criticism.

Anyway, onto the story itself.

I’m very much torn about my feelings on this one. As a story about attempting to overcome, and mostly succeeding, a depressive episode, this story is superb. As you’ve said before on one of my own stories, when someone is depressed things just kind of…stop. Things crawl at a snail’s pace, and life hardly seems to exist at all. Emi is in that state as we begin this story, though the reasoning seems to be a convergence of many things. This first section is, in my opinion, the strongest element of the story. Emi’s lethargic and defeated attitude is conveyed perfectly. And Emi doesn’t agree to Miki’s help out of a desire to get better, but really just as an excuse to avoid further bother.

Of course, things change, and upon meeting with Misha, Emi’s attitude is altered. I think that in her moment of defiant optimism, your Emi is the closest thing to being in character that this story reaches. I don’t necessarily believe this to be a problem, the contest often does that to our characters, but it’s absolutely a dramatic change. Emi is once again unconquerable, but it’s not for her, it’s for Misha’s sake. That, to me, perfectly showcases Emi’s character, putting others first even if it’s detrimental to her own self, (in this instance it isn’t, but hey ho).
I very much enjoyed the second to last scene as well, with Emi not having realised that she’d actually become more of herself, I think it even answers some concerns about Emi being OOC. Despite this, I found the last scene to be both unnecessary, and unfortunately, a moment that saps the powerful realisation that Emi had actually started to feel a little better. I’m a sucker for a slightly sad ending, and I understand the motivation to finish this story with something as close to optimism as possible, with Misha and Emi now friends, and I still believe this to be in character for your Emi. Despite this, I think this story could have benefited from calling it off early, having Emi essentially tricked into feeling a little better. It feels like the journey from the first scene to the last is too vast for the scope of this story, and I would have enjoyed the poignancy of a bit of a sucker punch ending. You don’t write these for me though, and despite my personal preference here, it’s a wonderful and brilliantly written story about a girl overcoming her sadness, even for a little, and it’s ending (whilst a bit too sweet for me), absolutely captures the growth I think you wanted to demonstrate.

Again, I cannot reveal my score here, but you have my assurance this was a fantastic and brilliant read. I’m honoured to have been selected as the critic for this story, and I hope you find my comments useful and interesting. Thanks for this story.

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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by Oddball » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:44 am

One early thing that bothers me in the story is how you make it seem like Emi has locked herself away for quite sometime, but it feels like if she did that, somebody would have checked on her before now. You do have Miki come after her, but the timing and description feels somewhat off. Just by saying it had been a couple of days or that she had been going to class but not talking with anyone and skipping out on track meets would have cemented a stronger timeline.

Miki seems more friendly with Emi here than you usually see her, but at the same time there's a sense that they aren't really close. The idea that Miki thinks she and Emi are on good terms simply because they happen to know each other a little does actually help sell her character. It's not a clean cut relationship.

I also really like how you handled Misha's sexuality. It's not a straight or gay things. It's not even quite bisexual. It's confusing and even she doesn't really get it. That adds a good bit to her character. Again, you make things fall into the “it's complicated” category.

Honestly though. I'd skip the third part entirely. I think the second part ends the story nicely. Maybe add a single line or two about Emi wondering if Miki was trying to set her up. I think you basically end up overselling the explanation at the end.
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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Sep 21st, 2019: Someone)

Post by Craftyatom » Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:03 pm

DISCLAIMER wrote:The following post was written in response to Stiles Long's writing contest. Each participant was given a list of KS character pairings and a list of locations. One of each was chosen for this fic.

There were a limited set of options available to participants in the contest and it may be that this fic resembles others. Any such resemblance is coincidental.
Hello again! It's contest time, so here I am, with a story involving the prompt Emi and Saki helping each other out (and also Emi and Shizune on the roof as a backup). Maybe I’m a broken record at this point, but I kind of worry that I went too fast when writing this piece. I wanted to take it slow and get it right, but it was for a contest, and so there was a deadline, and this is what I managed in the time allotted (exacerbated by the fact that I wrote most of it in the last four days, thanks to schoolwork and a road trip). On the other hand, I’ve heard that I tend to tack too much resolution onto the end of these stories, so maybe I have the opposite problem. Point is, if I missed the mark, don’t be too harsh, please :P

Anyways, this piece is actually a continuation of my previous contest entry, Someone, if for no other reason than that those characters fit well into this story. That said, you could probably read this one on its own just fine, if you wanted to. Regardless, I hope you enjoy!
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Brief Exchanges, Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Someone Part 2 (1/2)

Post by Craftyatom » Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:03 pm

Someone Part 2
It wasn't often that Emi saw someone during her morning runs.

The track was out of the way of most of the buildings on campus, and besides, it was too early for students to be going to class. Most of them probably weren't even up yet.

That had always been his complaint - the boy who had been Emi's running partner for a few days, months ago now. He didn't understand how hot it got, running in the afternoon, nor how annoying it was to shower once before class and again in the afternoon. Nor would he ever likely know - he hadn't been to the track since, apparently pursuing a "more relaxed exercise regime".

Sure. A regime so relaxed that nobody had seen him exercise since. Misha had hinted at what he and Shizune got up to in private, but that was no more an exercise regime then carrot cake was a vegetable.

Would it have an effect on his health? Would he lose days, or even years, off the end of his life, just because he didn't like getting up early? Or worse, just because he didn't like Emi?

She pushed that thought from her mind. It had been too long since this had all happened for her to still be dwelling on such things. Her recent talks with Misha had taught her to focus on the future, not the past.

Easier said than done.

Luckily, her attention was drawn away, to something interesting: another girl walking past the track. Emi recognized her as Saki Enomoto, a girl from her class, who walked with a cane, presumably due to a bone disease - it couldn't've been a muscular issue, since Emi had heard from Nurse that she was an avid swimmer, often using the indoor pool on campus in the mornings.

This morning, however, she wasn't swimming. She wasn't going to class early, either, since she wasn't wearing her uniform - in fact, she was wearing a long, flowing blue dress, which seemed completely out of place, as though she should've been attending a fancy ball, not wandering around campus.

She waved as she walked past, and Emi waved back, but neither said anything. Saki continued on past, towards the forest adjacent to the track. Just as Emi thought how strange it would be for her to venture into the underbrush wearing such a nice dress, she stopped, thought for a moment, and then turned around, heading towards the track.

Emi slowed to a stop near her, intrigued. "Hey Saki, what's up?"

"Ah, not much, Emi, just going for a walk. It's really nice out here in the morning."

"Sure is! It's the best time to go running."

Saki chuckled. "I'll leave that to you, if you don't mind." She shifted her cane to her other hand, at which point Emi noticed that she was carrying something: a small envelope, by the look of it. "Say, can I ask you for a favor?"

"Sure. What do you need?"

Saki held out the envelope that had caught Emi's eye. "Can you hold onto this for me? Just for today. You can give it back to me tomorrow during class."

Emi took the envelope, and looked it over. On one side, a fancy-looking sticker kept it closed; clearly it wasn't meant to be opened. On the other side, a flowing script simply said 'Saki Enomoto'.

Unable to stifle her curiosity, Emi asked "What is it?"

"Oh, it's..." Saki stopped to consider. She probably didn't want to tell Emi the whole truth. "Well, it's nothing, really. Just something important to me."

That only reinforced the idea that it was something personal, not to be intruded upon. Emi knew plenty about that; she nodded, and took it from Saki. "I'll look after it. I promise."

Saki smiled. "Thank you, Emi. It means a lot to me." And with that, she turned around and walked away - towards the forest again. Once again, Emi was baffled. Maybe there was a shortcut through the trees? Still, the time it saved couldn’t be worth the potential for damaging that dress. Besides, wouldn’t the rough terrain make it even more difficult for anyone using a cane?

Emi tried to forget about it. It wasn’t her business - much like the contents of the letter she had been given, which would get sweaty if she ran with it. She walked over and wedged it gently into one of the joints in the bleachers, so that it wouldn’t blow away in the wind. And then, just like that, she started doing laps again.

Far from having cleared her mind, that run-in with Saki had made things worse. Now her mind kept jumping back and forth between lingering on her past and wondering about Saki. She kept running, hoping it would help, but it didn’t seem to. Just more thoughts, over and over. It didn’t help that every lap she ran past the letter Saki had given her, sitting right where she had put it.

Much as she didn’t like to admit it, running often made Emi lose track of time. This time, she wasn’t sure which direction she was losing it in. Normally, it made time fly by, with each lap blending into all the ones before it; with her mind occupied, however, it felt like she could think through something over and over and over, all before completing a single lap.

All too soon, she found out which direction she had lost track of time in. The school bell rang, notifying her that she had only fifteen minutes - an alarmingly small amount of time - to go back to her room, shower, get dressed, and run to class. She sprung into action, heading for the dorms, but stopped abruptly as she passed the bleachers.

Saki’s letter was still there, of course. Instead of just picking it up on her way past, however, Emi stared at it for a bit. It still didn’t make sense. On top of all the other weird things about Saki this morning, now she was going to be late for class - Emi could only just make it by sprinting, and Saki had trouble walking, let alone running. Plus, that dress she had been wearing wasn’t suitable for the classroom, so she’d have to change.

Emi knew that she didn’t really have time to do anything but rush through her morning routine, but she decided against that. She would be late today - no big deal, she had been late plenty of times before. Besides, if Saki wasn’t going to be in class either, then Emi could at least claim that she had been checking up on her before class. Which, technically, is what she was going to do now.

Content with her new plan for the morning, Emi turned around and headed for the edge of the forest.

For all their advantages, Emi’s leg blades were not at all designed for hiking, let alone treading through underbrush. They didn’t offer good weight distribution, and got caught on sticks and leaves with almost every step. Then again, Saki’s cane would also have caused problems, so she couldn’t’ve gotten far. Emi tried looking for some signs that she was following in Saki’s footsteps, but didn’t even know what to look for, and quickly gave up trying, just heading in the direction generally opposite the track and keeping her eyes open.

The first thing she noticed was that something smelled wrong. She couldn’t tell what it was, but it didn’t feel like a forest smell. Its very presence seemed to thicken the air, to the point that she found herself breathing harder just to cope with it.

She stopped for a moment and looked around, searching for the source, and immediately finding something: a patch of blue, contrasting with the earthy greens and browns of the surrounding foliage, its color a perfect match for the flowing, out-of-place dress she had seen earlier.

She couldn’t remember the hurried steps she took toward it, but would never forget what she saw as she approached it.
Last edited by Craftyatom on Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Someone Part 2 (2/2)

Post by Craftyatom » Sat Oct 26, 2019 10:04 pm

Ordinarily, Emi and Rin would come to the roof of the academic building to eat lunch.

It wasn’t lunchtime, though. It was still early morning, and classes had only started a few minutes ago. Rin was probably in class, as Emi had tried - with some difficulty - to help her get ready this morning. It would’ve been easier if Emi had gotten any sleep last night.

Emi should’ve been in class too. She was still in her running outfit, though. She had tried to go running in the morning, but for the first time in a long time, she had found herself unable to. Hoping that it would help clear her mind, she had come up to the roof, only to sit there, motionless, as the bell rang once, then twice, and classes started on the floors below her.

She had thought about the motions she could take to try and fix today. She could still go home, shower, get dressed, and come into class a bit late. But she didn’t. She just sat there, staring off into the distance.

She was interrupted by the sound of the door to the stairs opening. Her heart jumped, well aware that she wasn’t really supposed to be here. If a teacher found her, she’d be in trouble. And yet, she remained completely still, her body staying put.

Luckily, it wasn’t a teacher; in fact, it was a voice Emi recognized. “... Emi?”

She turned her head to look, and sure enough, saw Misha standing at the door, with Shizune next to her. “Hey Misha, hey Shizune.”

Misha dutifully translated for Shizune, but they both seemed a bit uncomfortable. “Are you... okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Her automatic response wasn’t completely true, but wasn’t completely false either. Regardless, the last thing she wanted was for them to be worried about her.

The two girls signed between themselves for a bit before Misha spoke again. “What are you doing over there?”

Ordinarily, when eating lunch up here, Emi and Rin sat on a small bench by the door. At the moment, however, Emi was in the exact middle of the roof, sitting on the cold gravel surface, hugging her knees to her chest. She had started off on the bench, but it had seemed too close to the edge, so she had walked towards the middle. Each edge had, in turn, seemed far too close for comfort, until she ended up right in the middle. She had subsequently felt very unstable standing there, and had carefully sat down, ending up where she was now.

Of course, she wasn’t about to say that. “No reason.”

Once again, Misha and Shizune silently deliberated on that before responding in a manner that Emi had somewhat expected. “We heard about yesterday.”

Of course they had. The student council had to have its finger on every pulse. Any time anything notable happened, they had to be involved.

Emi noticed how angry that thought was, and tried not to think about it that way. Misha was her friend, and probably had good intentions. Shizune... well, despite all the reasons Emi didn’t really like her, she wasn’t evil. Her concerned expression made that much obvious.

It occurred to Emi that the other girls were probably expecting a response. “Yeah.” She paused again, trying to think of something else to say about it. “It was difficult.”

Misha nodded. “I can imagine.” She smiled widely, and it seemed natural. “But they say Enomoto’s doing better!”

Emi didn’t feel like smiling. “I know.” Nurse had come by Emi’s room yesterday afternoon to fill her in on Saki’s condition. And also to tell her that-

“You’re a hero, you know!”

Emi had found out during Nurse’s visit that, strangely, she didn’t like the word. She usually loved this kind of praise, but this time felt... different. Something about it didn’t make sense to her, so each time the words felt empty. And if she denied it, then she was being humble, which only earned her even more praise. So she tried to just avoid it. “Sure. Thanks.”

The confusion Misha and Shizune expressed was one that Emi had herself. She had saved one of her classmates. She was a hero. Everything had turned out okay. So why wasn’t she happy about it?

Misha, with Shizune close behind her, walked over to the middle of the roof and stood in front of Emi for a moment before sitting down. She flinched as her legs touched the cold gravel, which hadn’t yet been warmed by the sun. “Ah! Wow, that’s cold~.” She signed a warning to Shizune, who sat down carefully before they both looked at Emi. “So what’s wrong?”

Emi remembered having a conversation like this, not too long ago, with Miki. Even her response was familiar. “I don’t really know.” That said, she had been thinking about it a lot, and felt comfortable sharing those thoughts with Misha and, to some extent, Shizune. “I mean, part of it is that it brought back bad memories.” She could handle the blood. Blood wasn’t inherently bad. The cuts along Saki’s arms, long and thin, were worse, but palatable. But what kept reappearing in her thoughts, more vivid than anything else, was Saki’s face: pale, limp, lifeless. “But that doesn’t explain why I feel so bad now.”

After a long silence, Shizune began to sign, with Misha translating shortly afterwards. “Have you considered visiting her?”

Strangely enough, she hadn’t. “No, actually.” Seeing her awake might help with the memory of her face. Then again, “I don’t even know if I’m allowed to.”

Shizune rolled her eyes, and made a dismissive-looking motion. “You absolutely should be. And if you’re not, tell us, and we’ll change that. Good point, Shi-chan!” Emi always found the weird switch between the two girls’ words funny.

“Alright. I guess I should.” She still didn’t quite know how it would help, if at all, but it was worth a shot. It would be a bit weird to visit a classmate that she had spoken so little with - after all, at Yamaku, students having to go into hospital for a bit wasn’t exactly uncommon, and thus seen as not much to worry about - but she’d make it work.

Misha smiled, leaned forward a bit, and put one hand on Emi’s shoulder. “I hope it helps.”

Emi nodded. “Thank you, Misha. And Shizune.”

Shizune tapped Misha’s shoulder to get her attention. “Huh? Oh, right! And if you ever need anything from the student council, just ask us~! Or your class rep.”

Emi wasn’t used to the student council being on her side. Generally, they just chastised her for running in the halls. But Misha was her friend, and Shizune had good intentions, clearly. She nodded “I will. Thanks again.”

All three of them got up together, though Emi tried not to focus too much on her surroundings, still feeling a bit disoriented. She wanted to get back to her room, change, and then go see Nurse about setting up a visit with Saki.

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

Emi still recognized bits and pieces of the hospital - she had been here herself, not too long ago. Those memories were uncomfortable, but she had long since managed not to focus on them. So while the unfamiliar ward she was being led through still seemed all too familiar, she didn’t let it get to her. She was here to see Saki, and wouldn’t compromise on that, no matter what. She had even brought homework to do, in case she needed to wait around - luckily, it sounded like she wouldn’t need to.

The nurse she was following stopped and peeked into one of the doorways, which lacked a door. “Miss Enomoto? You have a visitor.” Emi didn’t hear a response, but the nurse stepped back and motioned her in, so she entered the room.

It wasn’t the type of hospital room she was used to: it lacked most of the implements she associated with them. No EKG, no drawers full of medicines, no adjustable beds - it wasn’t exactly plush, with the same standard hospital paint scheme and flooring, but it still felt a bit cozier, or at least less mechanical. It did, however, have two beds - an unfamiliar teenage girl, her head buried in a book, occupied the one to Emi’s right, while Saki sat on the one to her left, looking Emi in the eye.

At first, Saki’s expression was noticeably uninterested, her lips pursed and her eyebrows low, but it softened as Emi walked towards her, taking a seat in the chair by her bed.

They both sat there for a bit, trying to think of what to say - despite thinking a lot about this visit beforehand, Emi had been unable to come up with anything to talk about. She didn’t even know why she was here, or what she was looking for, so how was she supposed to have anything to say?

Luckily, Saki spoke first. “You’re not like I was expecting.”

Emi wasn’t sure what that meant, and cocked her head to one side. She didn’t hear any malice in Saki’s voice, so it probably wasn’t confrontational, just... strange.

Saki realized that Emi was confused. “I mean, I thought you’d be, uh... I guess I expected you to be happier.”

Emi was taken aback by this, but then saw the irony in it, and chuckled softly. “Sorry.”

“No, no, don’t be sorry! I just mean...” Saki sighed. “All my other visitors have talked about you. About how you saved me. About how you’re a hero. If even my parents thought you were so great, then I figured you’d think pretty highly of yourself.”

Emi found that oddly comforting. “You know, I didn’t like hearing them say that stuff either. I don’t know why, but I just... I didn’t feel like a hero. That’s actually why I came here, to figure out why.”

Saki shrugged. “Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can help with that. It’s not like I remember much of what happened. Well, except giving you that letter.”

“Oh!” That jogged Emi’s memory, and she reached into her bag and pulled out an envelope, slightly wrinkled now, that simply read ‘Saki Enomoto’ on the back.

Saki smiled as she took it in one hand. “You really did hold onto it, huh.” She examined it, and noticed that the seal on the front was unbroken. “You didn’t even open it?”

Emi shook her head. “Nope. I thought about it, after the fact, but figured it still wasn’t really my business.”

Saki stared at the letter for a while before asking a question that Emi wasn’t prepared for. “Do you want to know what it says?”

“I, uh... I mean, it’s personal, right? I don’t want to, you know, intrude on your... stuff. Especially if it’s something sensitive, about why you did... that.” Emi felt awkward even bringing it up.

“Is that something you’ve thought about?”

Another difficult question, but one that had crossed Emi’s mind. “I guess so. You didn’t really seem like... like there was something wrong. So I was kind of surprised.”

Saki smiled. “Do you know why I’m at Yamaku, Emi?”

“Some sort of bone thing, right?”

The words dampened Saki’s expression. “Unfortunately, no. It’s a neural thing.”

That came as a surprise. “Neural? So, like, your brain?”

“Part of my brain, and part of my spine. It’s a disease called Spinocerebellar Ataxia. Basically, those parts are slowly dying. Over time, they get worse and worse, until eventually, a few years from now... that’s it.”

Emi took a moment to contemplate this. The thought of damage to the brain was a terrifying one. “So what do you do?

“I wait.” The words were quiet, but still carried significant force. “I wait, and I watch myself begin to die. It starts with mild tremors in my extremities, issues using my muscles, then some trouble using my eyes, continued motor function degradation, potential onset of seizures and/or cognitive-”

“Saki!” Emi finally spoke loudly, tears running down her cheeks, to try and get Saki to stop - which she did, realizing that she had got caught up in the words.

“Sorry.” She waited as Emi collected herself, then continued. “So that’s why.”

Emi tried her best to look composed. “That’s why you...”

“Yeah. I don’t want to see that stuff happen to me. I really don’t want my friends to see that stuff happen to me. If I could just stop everything now, while I’m young and active, and have all my friends around me... I would.”

The thought was alien to Emi. So much of her life had been about survival and recovery, about chasing her goals, and mourning those who had been left behind. Death was the enemy, the antagonist keeping us from our futures - futures which, as she and Misha had discussed, were what helped them through the present.

The idea that those positions might be reversed was almost haunting.

“I... I understand.” Maybe she’d never know how Saki felt, but she could see why.

After a long, somewhat uncomfortable silence, Saki spoke again. “But I don’t blame you.”

“Blame me? For what?”

“For saving me.”

Again, the thought had never crossed Emi’s mind, but she realized it now: she had, in effect, thwarted Saki’s plan to freeze her life where it was. She felt briefly compelled to apologize, but remembered what Saki had said. “You really don’t?”

“Not at all. It’s what you do - and you’re right to.” She smiled. “You should always save every life. Never give up on it.”

Emi was a bit surprised by this. “But you just-”

“That’s my problem, not yours. You save every life, and I’ll focus on the exceptions.”

It was baffling to Emi that Saki could keep smiling after a conversation like that, and yet, it gave her a sense of closure. That reminded her to check the clock on the wall, which told her that she couldn’t stay here much longer - she had to catch the bus back to Yamaku. She stood up and bowed lightly. “Thank you, Saki.”

Saki lifted one arm and put it on Emi’s shoulder, showcasing the bandages on her forearms. “Of course. And thank you for coming to see me.”

Emi nodded, and despite feeling like she didn’t want to, turned and headed for the door. She kept wanting Saki to just say something else, keep her here a bit longer. She didn’t want to go, though it was difficult for her to tell why.

Luckily, her wish was granted. “Oh, and Emi?”

She spun around, eager for anything else. “Yes?”

“I don’t really... I don’t know if we’ll get a chance to see each other again. So if we don’t, well...” Again, in complete contrast to Emi’s expectations, Saki smiled. “Goodbye. And good luck.”

Emi’s lips quivered, but she did her best to force them into a smile as well. “G-Goodbye, Saki.”

She wanted to say more, and less, all at once - instead, she just headed for the doorway. The nurse outside waved to her, and was about to lead her back out of the building, but Emi stopped her. “Sorry, um... Where’s the nearest bathroom?”

The nurse showed her the way, and once Emi had closed and locked the door behind her, she turned on the faucet, put her hands on her face, and began to sob.

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

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