Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 12/2/18)

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Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 12/2/18)

Post by PabloPabloPablo » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:30 am

I figure that, not acknowledging a few things before I actually start would be disingenuous. At least, I think I might need to. I'm new, so bare with me.

The first thing is Summer's Clover. I've read it, and I like it. This pseudo is not an attempt to outdo or redo that fic. I'm new here, but I figure that a majority of people consider SC to be the definitive Miki route because of it's author. I would agree. I'm not trying to challenge that. I'm just some guy who had an idea for a Miki route lying in my brain, but only just now had the confidence to try and make it a reality. This goes for both COM(promise) and Dancing, which I believe are the two Miki pseudo's still going on. This is just a story I want to tell. That's all.

The second thing is the Miki curse. People say it's broken because of Summer's Clover, others don't. Regardless, I do think that the trend for Miki routes dying halfway is something to keep in mind. So, I'm keeping it in mind, but I'm not going to let it stop me from trying.

The third thing is the fact that I'm a new poster and I'm already starting a Pseudo. I do realize that it is a large task to take on, and it'll be extremely difficult to complete. However, I feel like if I do not post this now, I never will be able to. My word means nothing as a complete newbie, but regardless, I'm going to finish this. It's a hard thing to accomplish, but I wouldn't be doing this in the first place if it was easy.

With that out of the way, let's get to the fic. I don't actually have much to say about it, as I feel like if I just spout out reasons for why I'm making it or what it's about, it wouldn't really do anything. Hopefully the fic will speak for itself. All I can say it that, I've been brewing this up since about 2014, when I finished KS. Miki didn't really stuck out to me for any particular reason save for the fact that I wish I knew more about her. I came up with my own headcanon, but I only started writing everything down about two years ago. Then I actually started writing the thing about a month ago. Some people on the reddit discord have read it already, and despite my ignorance to renai or to forums in general, they gave me the push I needed to post this. I really would like to thank the people that have helped me edit out a lot of my silly spelling and grammar mistakes, especially Mirage for his proofreading input on the chapters. I appreciate everyone who gave this fic the time of day, as well as anyone who reads it now that it's on the renai.

Well, enough rambling. I hope you all enjoy the story I have in store for you, and thank you for reading it.

Chapter List:

Act 1: Life Expectancy
Act 2: Blooming Hibiscus
Last edited by PabloPabloPablo on Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:29 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route

Post by PabloPabloPablo » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:31 am

I forgot to give context when I first posted this, whoops. This fic starts out on the friday before the festival, and assumes Hisao has made every choice that wouldn't lead him to any singular path. It basically is a safety next to the Kenji route.

Back Up Plans

I think the last time I felt this lonely was back at the hospital. The lunch bell already rang, but I can’t bring myself to get out of my chair and leave the classroom like everyone else. Instead I sit here, hand propping up my head as I look out of the window, seeing nothing but blue sky and green trees. All my fears about this place seem to have come true this past week. Everything, the people, the staff, they all feel so abnormal, so far away from reality, as if this school was in its own world. The atmosphere is like that of a normal high school, despite this clearly not being a normal high school. You don’t pass around the corner and see people with missing limbs, burn scars or canes in normal schools. I don’t get how a place like this can expect me to just ignore the people in front of me, the people that are are broken as I am.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe there’s something wrong with my approach to this place. All this sulking makes me think back to what Yuuko said: The elephant in the room… Am I making this a bigger deal than it really is? Everyone I’ve met so far seems content with the school, even happy. Well, save for Hanako, but she’s clearly not the norm for this school. Still, I can’t bring myself to accept it. How can I pretend there’s nothing wrong with these people? No, that’s not the problem… How can I pretend there’s nothing wrong with me? With how jarring this whole experience is, I just find myself hoping that I can wake up back in my house. I almost wonder if I’d rather be back in the hospital instead, though I quickly realize this place is at least slightly better.

My depressing thoughts are cut off by a knock on my desk. It snaps me back to reality, enough to look up at the dark skinned classmate that is responsible.

“Ah, hey. Uh…” I stumble over my words trying to recall her name.

She smirks in response. “Miki Miura, but just go ahead and use Miki.”

All I can do is nod, a bit of embarrassment still on my face. “Sorry… Just call me Hisao then.”

“Heh, no need to be sorry. First couple days ‘round here, I’m not gonna expect you to memorize my name of all things,” she says, hoisting herself up on top of my desk.

It surprises me a bit, but I don’t think I’m in the position to be angry about it. That, or I don’t care. Admittedly, she is probably the most familiar face in the class for me, outside of Misha, Shizune, and Hanako, that is. I remember her from when I introduced myself. She had a bandaged stump and had to use her wrist to clap at my awful greeting. It made me cringe then, and thinking about it makes me cringe now. Still, Miki didn’t stand out as much as some other people in class.

With her sitting on top of my desk, I now manage to get a better look at her. It's clear she's athletic, given that I'm close enough to see the definition in her arms and legs. Her dark skin makes her stand out, though it meshes nicely with her brown hair and brown eyes. The boys’ uniform also helps to make her stand out. She's definitely attractive. Most girls are in this school. It's a bit odd, admittedly. Even after Kenji pointed it out, I never really noticed until now. It’s weird to think he’s actually right about something...

I shake the thoughts away before I finally manage to come up with something to say. “So, do you need something?”

“Nah,” she retorts. “I just saw you looking out into space all depressed like and thought you needed some company.”

Was it really that obvious? I can’t help but sigh out of embarrassment. “That’s a pretty blunt way to put it.”

“But not wrong, right?” She smiles, picking up my eraser from my desk before she starts to fiddle with it. It bothers me a bit, but I choose not to speak up. “It’s no good being like that in your first week here. Don’t want you to end up all sulky and stuff.”

“Fair enough,” I say with a shrug. “I concede that I have nothing better to do. Since you came to me, I assume you have something in mind?” I try to take the eraser from her before she responds, but she moves her hand quickly enough to dodge mine.

“Not really. I just thought I’d wing it and see how it goes.”

I sigh after failing to rescue my eraser. “Well… How’s it going so far?” Some sarcasm is added to my tone to hide my genuine curiosity.

“Too early to decide,” she says with a smirk, hopping off my desk and handing the eraser back to me. “How ‘bout we get something to eat? I’m pretty sure I heard your stomach whine just now, and I wouldn’t mind something small either.”

I hold my hand to my stomach out of instinct, as if that’d muffle the sound. Though I realize that there was never any sound in the first place. “Yeah, why not. Cafeteria, I suppose?”

“Only choice you have unless you wanna be late. I’m down with being late, but you’ll probably never hear the end of it from Shizune. Or I guess Misha if you wanna be exact.”

I concede with a nod, and the two of us head out the classroom and into the busy hallway. Out of the corner of my eye I spot Emi looking wide-eyed towards us. Her surprise quickly dissipates as she waves and heads off in the opposite direction. It’s a bit concerning with what little I know about her. I’ll have to ask Miki about it later…

One thing that I didn’t expect is just how many students are enrolled in Yamaku. I expected it to be pretty small, maybe one or two classrooms with a few students each. Much to my surprise, however, the place is pretty packed, having about the same population a typical high school. It’s odd, given how used I was to the rather empty room and hallways in the hospital. Compared to those chemical-filled rooms, any place is a theme park. Even so, Yamaku attempts to feel much more… cozy, I guess is the best word. The hallways feel a bit wider, the colors less depressing. It makes me almost forget that the place is just a less grim hospital. Maybe that’s just how I feel, though.

As much as I appreciate the time to delve into my thoughts, I do find the silence awkward. I try to think about what I say for a change, seeing as I don’t want to mess things up with another person this week. “Where’s your usual group?” I ask, remembering a few guys talking to her in class during breaks.

“Huh? Oh, you mean the track team. Yeah, they all had plans for today. And my backup is out of commission for the moment, so I needed some company. Win-win, right?” She says, flashing a smile as if that was some kind of positive development.

“So I’m basically the backup for your backup?”

She scoffs, putting on an obviously fake frown. “Well, when you put that way it sounds bad.”

“Maybe it’s not the way I put it, and instead it’s the way it is.”

“Maybe. And maybe it’s just because you think about it way too deeply. Chill out man, no need to be such a downer.” She gives my shoulder a bit of a punch before she picks up her walking speed a bit, leaving me behind. To be honest, I’m not that mad about being her third choice. She clearly means well with what she said back in class, and I feel as though I’m less of a backup plan and more of something she just picked up on a whim. Either way, I can’t help but smile a little.

The cafeteria is about as crowded as usual, with various different voices all having various different conversations. It’s about as loud as the school gets. The menu is packed with items, and I still have no idea what to pick out. I just go for something random again while Miki seems to take more time deciding. Makes sense, given she doesn’t wanna lose all the hard work she put her body through for a slightly less bland meal. It doesn’t take the two of us long to find some empty spots to sit towards the back of the cafeteria. Before I can get to my food, Miki pipes up.

“Any idea what clubs you wanna join?” she asks, much to my dismay.

“Uh, no. Not really,” I answer quickly before I begin to eat.

A small silence hits before she speaks again. “Very chatty today, I see,” she says, her face still having that smile etched onto it. “It’s fine if you don’t wanna talk, but that ain’t gonna work for me, you know? Though I guess you could just sit there and listen as if I was your empress or something.”

“Roger, Empress Miki,” I retort halfheartedly.

“Ah, first mistake. You ain’t talking through a radio, you’re talking directly to the empress, man. You should be all like, ‘Yes, Your Majesty.’” She puts on a passionate voice with her interpretation, which does get a bit of a chuckle out of me even though it’s fairly childish.

“Sorry, Your Majesty. Please forgive me.” I say correcting myself and even giving a little bow to her.

“Forgiveness rejected. This is grounds for public execution if I do say so myself.”

“What, all for that? Don't you think that's a bit too harsh?”

“Nothing's too harsh unless I say it is. I'm the empress after all.”

Her logic seems flawed, but I guess you don’t need logic when you’re an empress. I can only respond with a shrug as I go back to eating. Though the bland food is enough to make eating the meal a tedious endeavor. It’s not long till Miki starts up again.

“Still haven’t answered my question. Well, you did, but it was like a shitty fake answer that you give when you wanna be left alone.”

“I dunno what you want me to say. The only club that caught my interest was the Literature club, but apparently it’s full.”

“Oh yeah, that club is pretty popular for some reason. But there’s other clubs, you know. track and field is pretty cool, even though I’m forced to say that. Though to be fair, you don’t seem like the athletic type.”

Her teasing struck a bit of a nerve there. “Hey, I used to be athletic!” I protest before my mind goes blank. Right, used to. After that run the other day I’ve come to realize just how out of shape I really am. Even taking away the bad heart, it’s still pretty pathetic. I look back up to see Miki’s smile has faded. She’s got a more solemn look now, which I can’t help but feel is my fault.

I clear my throat before speaking up for a change, hoping to salvage some semblance of a conversation. “So, you’re a member of the track team then?”

It takes a moment for her to respond. “Yeah. I sorta just joined on a whim.”

Her tone makes it seem as if she’s trying to tread carefully now. Nice going Hisao. “Was there any particular reason you picked that over-”

“Over the book club? Or art club? Yeah, cause it wasn't as boring as those. Ah, no offense if you like books.”

“Fair enough.”

In the end I can’t think of anything else to say to her, so we just continue eating our lunches in silence, though my appetite seems to have disappeared by now. I end up just poking at the food with my fork. Every now and then I glance up towards Miki, trying not to stare for a long time like a creep. Our eyes do meet a few times, and each time she just smiles softly before she goes back to her food. It looks genuine, but I have a feeling it's fake.

I noticed that her left arm, the one that’s missing the hand, is limp most of the time. It’s understandable given its uselessness, but sometimes she seems to try to move it for half a second, as if she’s reaching out for something, before quickly letting it go limp again. It’s pretty random, and it makes me feel a little sorry for her. She seems to have her problems figured out, but she still has some muscle memory left in her hand. Here I thought she was a fairly normal person, only to be slapped back into reality. I almost ask about it before stopping myself from making that dumb mistake. It’s the first time this week that I have the forethought to stop myself.

The two of us finish our meals after a while, with mine remaining partly untouched. The walk back is about as awkward as one would expect. We only exchange a few pieces of smalltalk on our way back to class. She looks fine, but her tone is much more subdued. She doesn’t go on for more than a few sentences and stops pushing the conversation forward. The longest sentence I can get out of her is only a few words longer than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Somehow this whole event has left me just as lonely as before, if not more. Miki felt like my last chance to actually relate to the people here, and I just screwed it up. She was probably the most normal presence in this school, but my own abnormality got the better of me.

That dumb “elephant in the room” advice passes through my mind again. Well, no, it wasn’t dumb. It was good advice. I just didn’t do anything with it. There were tons of times I could've heeded the advice, but I didn't. And I continually made excuses for it. Hell, even Mutou told me the same thing Yuuko did, and I still didn’t listen. Every time the girls in this school reached out, like any normal girl would, I just gave them the cold shoulder. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hated me, or at the very least deemed me to be a lost cause.

Just before we enter our class, I decide to try and fix my idiocy for the first time. “Hey, Miki.”

She turns to me with a nod of acknowledgment. A lot of different sentences pass through my head, but they all sound way too hammy for this. I should just keep it short and sincere...

“I just wanted to say thanks for the company. I really appreciate it.”

One thing that I’ve noticed about Miki is that her facial expressions are pretty easy to read. For example, at the moment she looks to be confused by my words. For a second I think I did something wrong, then she speaks up. “No need to be so dramatic about it, man. You’re welcome, though.”

The same smile she had before returns. It’s infectious. The two of us enter the classroom without another word, heading back to our respective seats. Looking back, I might have misread the situation. She didn’t seem all that uncomfortable throughout the situation. Maybe I just assumed she was, given it’s what I felt. Not to mention her expression at the end, which leaves me just as confused as she was.

My thoughts are cut off once Misha bursts into the class.
Last edited by PabloPabloPablo on Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:54 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Fri Nov 16, 2018 3:00 pm

ayyyyy it's this fic. I wrote a pseudo route as my first post on the forum and now I'm nearly done with it, so! If I can do it, you can! You've already got my feedback, it's a good start IMO. We'll see where it goes!

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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:36 pm

Off to a good start I think, though it's too early to say much more.
There's a bit of odd grammar in the first part, but it gets better towards the middle. You said you had proofreaders on discord, but in case they didn't make the jump here together with you, just drop me a PM.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route

Post by PabloPabloPablo » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:05 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:36 pm
There's a bit of odd grammar in the first part, but it gets better towards the middle. You said you had proofreaders on discord, but in case they didn't make the jump here together with you, just drop me a PM.
I think most are here, but still, I could use all the help I can get if that's alright with you.
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route

Post by Oddball » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:19 pm

It's a nice start so far. Miki comes off nicely characterized.
Much to my surprise, however, the place is pretty packed, having about the same population a typical high school.
This is wrong though (although to be fair it could just be Hisao being wrong). The school is somewhere between 200 and 300 students depending on who you ask.
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route

Post by PabloPabloPablo » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:57 am

Oddball wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:19 pm
Much to my surprise, however, the place is pretty packed, having about the same population a typical high school.
This is wrong though (although to be fair it could just be Hisao being wrong). The school is somewhere between 200 and 300 students depending on who you ask.
This is a mistake on my part, definitely. However, Hisao being wrong could work in my favor, so I'm considering it a happy accident for now. I'll try to be more consistent with the canon next time, though.

-----

Waking Up

I decide to stay in the classroom after the final bell rings, mainly to finish the questions Mutou assigned to us. Even though I don’t have any plans for the festival, I’d rather not spend the day doing homework. To be honest, not knowing what I’m going to do for tomorrow is a bit depressing. I’m sure everyone else has plans or is working the stalls. Then there’s me, with nothing to do. It’s probably my own fault, given how I’ve acted the past week. I wonder if I should ask Shizune if I can work the class’ stall... That would beat walking around aimlessly, I’d imagine. But… I also don’t want to stand around, serving food or handing out prizes. So there goes that idea. Maybe I could ask Miki if she had any plans, but, even after hanging out with her yesterday, I doubt she considers me anything more than an acquaintance. I really have no favorable options in this situation, it seems.

Regardless, I just need to focus on getting these problems done. However, nobody else seems to share my willingness to do the work early, given how empty the class is. It's silent, save for the soft chirping of birds whose sounds are muffled by the windows. The only other people here are Hanako, who I assume is waiting for Lilly, and Miki, who casually walks up to my desk with her signature smirk.

“Yo. Working hard?” she asks, opting to sit in Misha’s seat.

“Yup. Don’t wanna forget to do it. What about you?”

“Eh, not gonna worry about it.”

I glance over, confusion written all over my face. “Does that mean you’ll do the work tomorrow, or does it mean you won’t do it at all?”

“Uh… Probably the last one. Sounds pretty ‘Miki’ to me.”

“Yeah, no kidding…”

She scowls, kicking my leg weakly. “Didn’t ask for your opinion.”

I shrug off the hit, opting to focus on the problems on the paper rather than the distracting girl. It's not that I don't enjoy her company, it's just that her company is probably the second worst company to have when doing work. The first being Misha... without Shizune that is.

She sighs as my attention slips through her grasp. “Anyway, that’s not why I’m here. So, first off, do you know Emi? Short, pigtails, pretty cute, runs really fast.”

“Yeah, I know her,” I answer, eyes still on the paper as I write out my answers.

“Well, she told me that you two were supposed to run in the mornings, or something. I wasn’t really listening to all that, but she asked me to take you out jogging.”

I look over, slightly confused by the prospect. “Where’s that coming from?”

Miki shrugs, “I dunno. I think she probably saw us all buddy-buddy yesterday. Still, I’m fine doing it if you are. I already exercise with someone else after track practice anyway.”

“Wouldn’t you already be tired from track practice in the first place?”

“Bold of you to assume I attend track practice,” she says in a rather serious tone before beginning to laugh. “No, no. I don’t work that hard during practice. Kinda pisses Emi and the Captain off, but they know I run afterwards so it ain’t that big a deal.”

“Fair enough… Who else do you practice with then?”

“Suzu Suzuki, from class. Blue hair, pretty short, sits in the front row to my left.”

It takes me a moment to realize who she’s talking about, but the mental image is pretty clear. She’s exactly as Miki describes her, as basic of a description as that is. Most of the time when I look over at her, she'll have her head down. Sometimes I even catch her sleeping in class, which Mutou never calls out. It must be the reason she’s here then. That, or Mutou doesn’t really care.

I soon realize I’ve been thinking for a bit too long, and nod frantically in response. “Right, right. I know her.”

“Nice! You two are super similar, you know. Both nerds. She’s even in the literature club, funnily enough,” she says, rubbing her chin as she tries to think of any other comparisons she can make. “Uhh… That’s it, really. But hey, it’s something, right?”

I’m a bit surprised Suzu would be in the literature club, though I don’t know why I would be given how populated the club apparently is. Besides, I think I've seen her in the library at least once. “Good to know, I guess.”

“So what do you say, then? Exercising with two cute girls has gotta be every man’s dream, right? It’s as good a deal as you’re gonna get.”

I don’t know if cute is the best word to describe Miki, but I choose not to voice that opinion. Regardless, I definitely need to exercise regularly. That trip to the town I made with Lilly yesterday definitely shows me how out of shape I am. “Uh, sure. I was thinking of starting again anyway.”

She claps my shoulder a few times, startling me enough to make me drop my pen. “Alright! So just show up at the track before dinnertime, like around five,” she explains, picking up the pen and handing it back to me.

“Oh good, I get to be all sweaty before dinner time,” I say in my usual sarcastic tone. “Why not just run in the morning like Emi?”

“Pfft, you expect me to wake up at that time?” Miki chuckles at the thought. “I can barely manage to wake up before class. Besides, she’ll probably be there and then get on my ass about it.”

“Yeah, fair enough.” I say, sighing in defeat. “Alright then, I’ll be ready.”

“Sweet! Seeya then.” she says, getting up from the stolen seat and giving me a quick salute before disappearing into the hallways. Finally some peace and quiet. Miki’s not as loud per se, but she's a chatterbox for sure. I don’t mind that much, but it’s a definite distraction from work. After she leaves, I end up finishing the problems without too much trouble. Though it’s only after I finish that I realize I have nothing to do until the evening. The silence of the room seems to invade my thoughts, as any idea I have for wasting a few hours gets dismissed one after the other.

I opt to just spend the rest of my time in the library

~~~~~

The sun seems to have barely moved an inch by the time I head to the field. Waiting in the library proved to be fairly boring, as Yuuko doesn’t really have anything that I haven’t read already. The little that is new to me doesn’t hold my interest at all, mainly because a lot of it is in braille. Regardless, time passed like a snail until inevitably the time came to meetup with Miki and Suzuki.

I find the field to be fairly empty, save for a few students conversing on the bleachers. It’s a bit like the morning, only with an extra five or so people. It’s more silent though, given the clacking of metal is absent. It makes the place feel much more peaceful, with the sounds of birds, soft voices, and cicadas having no rhythm to them. Much more natural, I'd say.

It doesn’t take me long to spot Miki stretching by the side of the track, alongside a blue-haired girl I recognize as Suzuki. They both have their gym clothes on, though Miki seems to have ditched the bottom portion of the uniform, opting for black compression shorts instead. Not a bad look for her, I must say. What does strike me as odd is Suzu’s black knee brace, which I remember having seen before in class. There’s probably some story behind it that I’ll idiotically ask about. Miki quickly spots me as I walk up, flashing a quick smile before finishing her stretching.

“Yo! Right on time, Suzu just barely got here too.”

I nod in response, looking over to the girl with a smile. She is relatively small compared to Miki and me. Her eyes are baggy, as if she hasn’t slept in days. It almost looks as if she’s only half there, staring through me.

Regardless, she holds her head up with a smile. “Hello,” she says in a soft voice. “I’m Suzu Suzuki. You probably don’t know, but I’m in your class. Though… I admit that I have forgotten your name. Sorry.”

Her genuine apology hits me in the gut. It makes me feel bad, even though I had nothing to do with her forgetfulness. “Ah, it’s fine, it’s fine,” I quickly reply with a chuckle. “Hisao Nakai, but you can just call me Hisao.”

She stares blankly for a second, blinking slowly. It’s a bit weird, though she quickly reverts to normal with a smile. “Ah, nice to meet you, Hisao. You may call me Suzu, if you want to.”

“In that case, it's nice to meet you too, Suzu.”

I spot Miki staring at us with a grin. Honestly, I'm not sure why, but it can't be for a good or normal reason.

“How are you enjoying the school?” she asks, causing my short bout of paranoia to disappear.

“It's been alright. The people seem nice, and the food is... average. Not much I can complain about.”

She tilts her head, looking as if she didn’t actually hear me. I almost repeat myself before she speaks up, “Ah. Well, I’m glad it hasn’t been bad, at least. If you need a club… The literature club would be happy to have a new member. That way you can meet people easier…”

“Oh? I heard that the literature club was full.”

A small pause, as her face goes blank again. “Ah!” she exclaims suddenly, “That’s right, I’m sorry… I must have forgotten.”

“Uh, don’t worry about it,” I say, chuckling awkwardly. “We should, uh, start stretching.”

She nods, beginning her stretching exercise. Normally I wouldn’t do any sort of warm-ups, but I just needed to end the conversation as soon as possible. When I look over at Miki, it’s clear she’s trying to suppress her laughter. I just glare at her as I stretch, which just makes her even more pleased. She seems to find Suzu’s quirkiness amusing. I, more or less, am concerned for her. It looks as if she exits our reality for half a second before returning, without her even noticing. Exhaustion can make you do that, as I have personally experienced, but Suzu is more extreme in that regard. Though admittedly, she could just be weird, and that weirdness has nothing to do with her condition. Or it could be both. I'm leaning towards the ‘both’ side, personally.

After a few warmups, Miki beams at the two of us and points to the field with her thumb. “Alright, let’s get rollin!”

Before I can even respond, she’s off. Suzu doesn’t waste any time either, bolting towards Miki with surprising enthusiasm. Not wanting to be left behind, I follow suit. It's about as hard as it was a couple days ago. Once I pick up my stride, I notice how slow I am compared to Suzu. That’s when I notice how slow she is compared to Miki. I knew she was in the track team, but I didn’t think she’d be that quick, especially considering her laid-back demeanor

My breathing starts to get sporadic. Probably because my focus was on the girls rather than myself. I find myself starting to give way around the same time as my last session with Emi. This is seriously as good as I can do? I get that this kind of stuff takes time, but at this point I don’t feel as if I’ll ever get any better. Maybe I need to go all out. Maybe I need to push beyond whatever restrictions I put on myself. Maybe I'm just an idiot. As I begin to falter, I consciously increase my speed. I'm definitely an idiot, it seems. However, my concentration is broken as Miki begins to jog next to me, having lapped around me a couple of times by now.

“Yo,” she says in between her breaths. Her smile is betrayed by a concerned tone. “Probably should take a break, yeah?”

She speeds up, leaving me with those words. It’s a punch to the gut, but she’s right. I slow myself down to a sluggish walk, focusing on my breathing as I do so. It’s not hard to keep it steady at the moment, though to say I feel exhausted would be an understatement. I walk over to the bleachers to sit down for a second. After stabilizing my breathing, I look back over the track, seeing Miki and Suzu still going strong. The shorter girl is noticeably slower however, and seems to be running out of gas quickly. Miki, on the other hand, barely looks tired at all, bolting along the track at speeds that would make a cheetah jealous. It's an impressive sight, seeing someone like her or Emi run. It seems natural to them. I suppose that's what practice gets you. That or talent. I can never tell the difference.

Suzu eventually gives in, panting as she heads over to the bleachers to take a seat next to me. Miki follows suit, looking like she could go for some more laps, maybe around a couple hundred. Seriously, aside from the sweat, she looks as if she's still brimming with energy.

“Alright! You guys did pretty good,” she says with a grin. I half expected sarcasm, given I did less than half the laps they did.

“No I didn't…” I reply with a bit more dejection than I had wanted.

Miki frowns, which is a first. “Ugh, don't be so depressed. It'll give you grey hair.”

Suzu's previously blank face scrunches up. “It will?”

“No it won't,” I say before Miki has a chance to mess with her further.

“Oh…” Her tone is a mixture of relief and disappointment all at once. I don't know what to make of it, and neither does Miki it seems, as she laughs about as awkward as one can manage.

“Anyway. Don't be such a downer, Hisao,” she explains, taking a seat next to me. “You'll just end up gutting your motivation. Gotta stay positive. You'll get there soon.”

Suzu nods in agreement, “As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day…” she says with a blank face. I don’t know how to feel about her words of encouragement. Still, I appreciate it. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s easier to say all this than to put it into practice.

I opt not to share my pessimism though. “Thanks,” I say half-heartedly, which the two girls seem to notice judging by their concerned faces. However, I’m saved from a lecture by my stomach growling, which gets a chuckle out of Miki.

“Hungry man, I see,” she remarks with a smug grin. “Don’t worry, Suzu’s got you covered, right girl?”

“Uh…” Suzu looks over at her gym bag, trying to work out quantum mechanics in her head judging by her expression. “No, I only made two meals.”

“Gah?” Miki utters, before realizing her mistake. “Ah, right, I forgot to tell you about Hisao…”

“No, you told me someone would be joining us. However, you told me about a minute before Hisao met up with us. That’s not enough time for me to prepare another meal, I’m not that skilled yet.”

I just shrug in response. “It’s fine. I think I’ll just get something from the vending machine and call it a day”

Miki scowls at me. “That shit isn’t healthy for you. You need meat! Protein! Stuff that’ll make you all roided out without having to use roids, you know?”

“Uh, no thank you,” I say, thoughts of big bodybuilders from America flooding my thoughts. God, do they look scary as hell. Not to mention unnatural. “I’d rather be skinny than be a bodybuilder.”

“Hey, I don’t mean like a bodybuilder. Can’t really get that kinda look through cardio anyway. Besides, just a little muscle will look good on you, I bet.” Miki says with a wink. “Ain’t that right Suzu?”

The girl is startled out of a trance once Miki elbows her. She looks at the two of us, partly confused, before smiling and nodding. “Yes, I agree.”

Their comments cause a bit of red to seep into my cheeks, even if Suzu probably had no idea what she agreed with. I rub the back of my head, trying to think of something witty to say back to Miki just so she doesn’t get the last laugh. However, I’m drawing blanks. “Yeah yeah… Fine, I’ll get a protein bar or something.”

Miki grins, patting me on the shoulder. “Good boy. I’m sure Suzu will have something for you to eat next time, right?”

The short girl, looking awake this time, nods in reply. “I think I can make an extra meal next time. Protein, right?”

“Ugh, yeah,” I give in, much to Miki’s delight. Getting up from my seat takes a bit more effort than I expected. My legs are sore even after a little bit of running, which is too embarrassing for me to admit. “Guess I’ll see you two… Monday?”

Miki tilts her head. “Aw, not gonna hang with me for the festival?” she asks with a fake tone of disappointment.

“Don’t you have your group to hang with?”

“Eh…” she shrugs. “I think they’re all busy with stalls or some shit. Either way, I’m all alone.”

I look towards Suzu, only to notice she is completely devoid of consciousness at this point. She looks that way, at least. All that I can do is sigh and nod. “Yeah, sure. Where do you wanna meet?”

“I dunno. How ‘bout by the dorms? Like at noon or something.”

That doesn’t sound like a very concrete plan, but I shouldn’t really be surprised. “Alright, see you then.”

“Seeya!” Miki says before elbowing Suzu, knocking her out of her trance.

She looks around for a moment, only to stare at me for a few seconds before nodding slowly. “Until next time.”

With goodbyes out of the way, I head off to the vending machine to get my crappy dinner. Once I get there, I find that most of the good things are gone. All that’s left is a piece of bread with some weird flavor to it. I almost contemplate just heading to the cafeteria. That’s when I notice the sweat stains on my shirt. The choice has been made for me, it seems.

I end up walking to my dorm with my gourmet meal, which tastes pretty bad. My mind keeps wandering over to the festival. Being alone tomorrow was an unspoken worry for me. I didn’t want to say it, but I’m grateful to Miki, even though I am just a fall-back. It seems that’s becoming a theme with her. A part of me worries about being abandoned after tomorrow. Given she already has a big group of friends to hang out with, I sort of doubt she’d go out of her way to hang out with me regularly. With that on my mind, it feels less as if I’ve made a legitimate friend and more like being pitied. She doesn’t seem to pity me, though, which just confuses me even further…

I end up showering and heading to bed with a blank mind.
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route

Post by PabloPabloPablo » Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:28 am

I updated this story like 3 times in a little more than a week because I had a pretty large backlog, so just to clarify, I'm not writing these are rapid speed to burn myself out. Anyway, hope you guys enjoy the end of Act 1

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Fireworks in the Garden

Checking the clock through my groggy and blurry eyes reveals it to be ten minutes till noon. That revelation wakes me up faster than any coffee I’ve ever drunk. I rush to get dressed, not really caring if I look presentable, though when I glance in the mirror out of the corner of my eye I notice just how messy my hair actually is. Not wanting to look like a bum, I opt to brush it for a few seconds. However, once I’m done getting ready, I realize I have one final, impossible task to complete.

I open my door, slowly enough to not make any noise. Kenji’s only legally blind, according to him, but if his hearing is even half as good as someone like Lilly’s, making the slightest of sounds could be dangerous. In any other circumstance, I wouldn’t care enough to try to sneak past him. But, I’m on a time crunch, and I can’t afford any rambling about feminists right now. Closing the door behind me, I make sure to turn the door handle until it’s shut, mitigating most of the noise. Next is actually getting out of the hallway. I carefully plan every step I make, calculating each muscle movement in my legs to reduce the sound of my footsteps. I only last about four steps before I realize how dumb I probably look. With the end of the hallway being not too far away now, I just give up and start walking normally. It’s only as I turn the corner that I hear a door opening. I’m too scared to look back.

It doesn’t take me long to find Miki once I leave the dorms. She seems to have found a nice wall to lean on, listening to something through earphones with an mp3 player at her side. It’s not exactly a shocking sight, but it does catch my interest. What’s especially odd is that she seems completely out of it, almost looking like Suzu whenever she enters her little trances. I almost hesitate as I walk up to her, due to how peaceful she looks. But I figure she’d never let me hear the end of it if I’m even a second late.

The moment I walk up is the moment she notices me. She flashes a smile and waves, taking out her earphones one by one and stuffing them down her shirt. It’s a bit confusing, given I’ve only seen girls do that in those fanservice-filled romance manga. The confusion is apparently written on my face, as she looks back at me with a smirk. “What? I don’t got pockets, so I gotta use my boob pocket.”

I just shrug, putting my hands in my pockets afterwards. “Hey, I wasn’t judging.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure. You were just staring like a perv,” she replies with a chuckle. It catches me off guard, I must admit. My attempts to think of some kind of comeback are futile, as nothing but embarrassment fills my mind.

“No, I wasn’t like… I wasn’t staring… Not like that!” I try to explain to the best of my abilities, even after stammering every other second. Though my mind finds a raft in the flood of embarrassment, one that sticks out enough for my to say. “Wait, where do you have your money then?”

“Huh?” she says, looking at me with a dumbfounded face. “Why does that matter?”

“Well you gotta buy things at the festival. Otherwise you’ll just starve,” I reply, shrugging with my new-found indifference to the situation.

She stares at me for a second, which feels more like an hour. That’s when her eyes widen, she holds her hand and her stump up to cheeks as she looks down in horror. “Fuck… Where did I put my wallet?”

“What?” I ask, the words just flying out of my mouth as they leave my thoughts behind. “Did you lose it?”

“Okay, no, no I didn’t. Just calm down, okay? Calm down,” she explains, probably talking to herself rather than me. She starts pacing back and forth as she looks as if she’s trying to solve a murder. “Uh… I got nothing,” she says, before smiling as if she just won a game. Should have figured she wouldn’t take this very seriously.

“It’s probably in your dorm room. You just forgot it.”

“Probably. Cause shitty skirts don’t have pockets. Stupid as hell,” she says with a pout. It’s pretty funny, I admit. At least, it’s enough to get a chuckle of out me, though my laughter is quickly snuffed out by Miki’s glare.

I clear my throat to compose myself before nodding towards the girls dorm. “Well, we should probably go look for it.”

The girl stares at me for a moment, eyes narrowing as if she is trying to discern any nefarious intent. She eventually gives up and smirks. “Yeah. Beats standing around and complaining ‘bout it.”

The two of us then head off to the women’s dorms, which are pretty close to the men’s dorms. I’m thankful for that. The less walking I have to do the better. I’m sure my heart is thankful for it, too.

The inside of the woman’s dorm is pretty much the same as the men’s. I’m not sure what I expected, to be frank. Maybe my own expectations are heightened as I figured this was some forbidden palace that’ll kill me upon entry. Though in my defense, the buildings had noticeably different exteriors. It’s fairly bland, designed to be more functional than pretty. The place still makes me feel a bit nervous, though it’s helped by the common room being empty and the hallways being silent, save for Miki’s soft whistling that is. If she’s trying to whistle a tune, then it’s either a horrible tune or she just sucks at it. She doesn’t seem to care all that much.

Once we reach her dorm room, she starts fishing underneath her shirt for what I can only assume is a key. I have the forethought to look away this time. She eventually takes out a key and quickly unlocks the door, bursting through the room without any care in the world. Her dorm looks pretty standard. It’s not as bland and lifeless as mine, but she clearly doesn’t put much thought into her decor. Mostly it’s filled with clutter, with notebooks, pencils, pens, and other such things scattered all over her desk haphazardly, along with some food wrappers and a can of soda. It’s messy, but not much worse than my room back at home, so I can’t really judge. What does catch my attention are the numerous medals and trophies she seems to have stockpiled on her shelves. At a glance, it seems like all of them are from running. However, the strangest thing in here is a collection of flowers in a pot, sitting on a nightstand right next to the window. They’re pink, at least I think they are. The things are a little too wilted for me to tell. One of the flowers’ petals seems to dangle on the flower, hanging on by only a thread. They’re all leaning downwards, instead of showing off their petals proudly, devoid of any beauty they once possessed or could have possessed.

It just proves Miki is awful at taking care of things.

My train of thought is suddenly blown off its rails by a loud “Yes!” coming from the only other person in the room. “Found my wallet,” she says waving it proudly, smug face and all, behind a messy bed she was busy tearing apart in her search.


“Congrats. The room is now messier than before,” I reply as I start clapping as slowly as I can manage. This does the job of annoying Miki rather nicely.

“Listen, bastard. Only reason your room ain’t like this is cause you’re new,” she retorts, sticking her tongue out at me. She then looks over her room, only for her eyes to lock onto the flower. “Ah shit! I forgot to water it for the past few days…”

“Yeah. Never knew you were into gardening.”

“Huh? Oh, no. This was a gift,” she quickly spouts out her explanation, very clearly wanting to end the conversation there. I figure she is just embarrassed about it and is trying to shut down any questions that pop up in my mind. She grabs a small bag that hangs from her chair, tossing it over her shoulder and shoving the wallet into it. “Alright, let’s head out.”

With that, we head back outside the dorms and straight for the festival. The outside is filled with a variety of people, old and young, students and non-students. What’s surprising is that everyone seems used to this. Sure, the occasional kid steals a glance at anyone with a cane or prosthetic, but all the adults just walk around and act as if this is normal. The festival is held annually, so it probably is fairly normal. What’s odd is that, even with all the people and noise, it’s surprisingly calm. The light whispers of conversations mesh well with the calls of the cicadas, and the business oddly makes the place feel more cozy. It’s just easing my worries, knowing that the town doesn’t treat Yamaku like a freak show. Regardless, it is a nice feeling.
Miki and I eventually stop at a takoyaki stand, buying two plates of unhealthy food as we try to find somewhere to sit. I feel a light poke on my back, coming from Miki’s stump. She nods to the plate she’s holding in her hand before explaining. “Yo, toss one in my mouth.”

“Eh?”

“‘Eh?’ what?” she mocks me with a smirk. “It’s self-explanatory, dude. Stab the ball with the pick and put it in my mouth.”

“I’m not gonna feed you your food,” I say sternly. “Just wait till we find a place to sit.”

She waves her stump around as if I didn’t know her reasoning before. It’s pretty clear to me why she wants me to feed her, but that doesn’t stop it from being embarrassing as all hell. “Look, there ain’t nowhere to sit, and I’m too lazy to walk much farther. I skipped breakfast bro. Cmon, it ain’t that big a deal. I promise I won’t hurt you. You can even pretend I’m your girl, and you’re like feeding me to be all romantic. Whatever makes you feel better.”

“How they hell would that make me feel better?!”

“I dunno, just… stop being a little bitch, and do it,” she stresses with a more serious tone than before. I guess she won’t really let up. Well, it’s not that big of a deal right? I’m just feeding her because she’s unable to. Nothing weird about that. It’s nothing to be embarrassed over… though even as I say that, my face feels about as hot as an oven. I take the wooden pick on her plate and stab into the fried ball of octopus and dough. Miki looks at me expectantly as I raise the pick up into her mouth. She quickly takes the takoyaki and chews the whole thing, holding up her stump as if to tell me to wait. After gulping it down in a few seconds, she stays quiet, looking back at me with a straight face.

That straight face only lasts a few moments before she bursts out laughing.

“Holy shit…” she gasps in between her laughter. “The look on your face! That is priceless!”

Her continued amusement just embarrasses me even further. I say nothing as I turn around and continue the search for seating. All the while Miki laughs behind me. She does so for a couple of minutes.

Once we do find seating, I’m able to eat my food in peace. It’s about as bland as one would expect student-made takoyaki would be. Miki seems to enjoy it though, as she cleans her plate in the time it takes me to eat half. I finish the food a few minutes later, just in time for the sound of bells to kick in and deafen my ears. From there the P.A system comes on as the principal makes an announcement. Miki looks just as disinterested in it as I am, toying with a strand of hair instead of listening. It’s a weird sight, I must say. Not because it’s really out of the ordinary, but more because it is ordinary. Miki is not an ordinary girl, in fact hanging out and talking with her feels more like I’m with a guy rather than a girl. When I see her playing with her hair in such a cute way, that illusion dies. I was stupid not realize to she is just a normal girl beyond her rather boyish personality. In my defense, she seems to try to avoid being stereotypically feminine anyway.

The sound of clapping breaks my concentration. It seems the announcement is finished. I clap out of respect, even though I don’t really know what I’m clapping for. Miki hesitates for a second before opting to clap with her wrist like she did for my introduction. She stands up to stretch before scanning the area for anything to drag me along to. “I kinda wanna head to our class’ stall… But I might be dragged in to help, and I’m not about to spend the rest of the day working my ass off.”

“I’m sure they’ll be fine without you,” I say standing up and tossing the paper plates and wooden picks into a nearby trash can.

“Yeah, I’m not much help, but Shizune might just enlist me anyway. Wouldn’t matter if I was missing my other hand as well,” she spouts out, much to my surprise. I suppose given her personality, Miki wouldn’t be against joking about her circumstances. Still, it trips me up.

“Uh… Well, if we see pink hair and drills, we run away.”

Miki thinks over the prospect before nodding with a grin. “Sounds good to me.”

We walk over to the courtyard, keeping our eyes peeled for the student council duo. They never appear, though, and the two of us make it to our class’ stall safe and sound. It doesn’t take long for me to notice the artistry of the stall. The colors of the borders and signs are so varied that it’s incredibly eye-catching to anyone just passing by. It seems to be an ice cream stand of some sort, running on some kind of conveyor belt system, with two people taking orders and a few others along the way to add toppings and pay for your cone. There are only a few people staffing the stand, with only one person that I am actually familiar with. Suzu seems to be the one dealing with payment, which I question given her quirkiness. She seems to be doing fine, however, having a smile on her face as she counts the bills and coins and hands back people’s change. However, one person does catch my eye, as he seems to be staring daggers at either Miki or me. I hope it’s not me, because he looks pissed.

“You’re not getting any free shit, Miki,” he spouts with a glare towards her as we approach.

“What?” she asks in surprise. “That ain’t why I’m here, dick. Just wanted to see the stall.”

“Yeah, if you say so,” he replies with an annoyed tone. “Just hurry it up and order.” He turns to me, expression softening as he smiles. “Yo, new kid. She dragging you around again?”

“I ain’t dragging him around!” Miki protests, but the boy purposefully ignores her. She sighs before she gives her order to the brown-haired girl that sits next to her.

“Er, I guess she is,” I shrug, unable to really figure out if I’m here on my own volition or because it’s better than being alone. “But… I don’t mind it so much.”

“You’ll mind it soon enough, I’d say,” he says with chuckle. “Oh, name’s Haruhiko. Just call me Haru though. You’re Nakai, I’m pretty sure, but I’mma call you New Kid if you don’t mind.”

Well, I do kind of mind, but I feel that even if I expressed my displeasure, he’d just ignore it. So I give in. “Sure, that’s fine.”

“Great then.” He smiles before he realizes the growing line behind me. “Oh, right. No time for chit-chat. What’ll you be having?”

I realize I haven’t really thought about having ice cream today. It’s hot outside, that’s for sure, but I was never really a fan of ice cream to begin with. However, backing out would make me look stupid. I let peer-pressure get the best of me and order a scoop of strawberry. He passes the cone over to another one of my classmates who asks me if I want any toppings, which I decline. It finally reaches Suzu’s hand. She spouts out the price before looking up at me. After staring for a good few seconds, for which I imagine she is trying to calculate the surface area of my face, she smiles. “Hi, Hisao.”

“Hi, Suzu,” I say, handing over the money before taking my cone from her. She gives me my change and waves me farewell. Miki seems to be hanging by the side of the stand, pistachio cone in her hand.

She looks over to the other side of the stall, calling out to Haru, “Yo, Haru! Come chill with Hisao and me.”

The boy looks over with the same glare he had before. “Screw you, I’m working here,” he replies before returning his focus to another student ordering.

“Lame ass,” she says underneath her breath. Miki shifts her focus to Suzu, who is still counting change. “Yo, Suzu, wanna take a break and chill?”

After she hands the change back to a customer, she looks back with a deadpan expression. “No,” she says, without any sliver of emotion to it. It’s cold, heartless, and brutal. It isn’t anger or spite, but pure unadulterated apathy.

Miki looks devastated. She opens her mouth, with nothing but silence coming out. “So… so cold, Suzu…”

The short girl tilts her head. “Did I offend? Sorry… let me try again.” she clears the throat before smiling at Miki. “No thank you. I just barely got here after Hakamichi found me in the crowd, so I can’t afford to take a break.”

The mention of Shizune prompts me to gently elbow Miki on her side. “We better get moving before the council comes back.”

The still heartbroken Miki looks back, barely being able to process what I’m saying after that gut punch. “Uh… yeah, let’s head out. Seeya, Suzu,” she waves half-heartedly, though Suzu doesn’t notice as she waves goodbye.

After finishing our ice cream, and stuffing our faces with some more junk food, Miki leads me to the school gardens. The area is slightly less crowded than the courtyard, which seems rather odd to me. The place is beautiful, having a variety of different flowers and bushes all neatly planted close together. With the sky glistening orange from the sunset and the cicadas slowly dying down, it creates a peaceful atmosphere that I haven’t seen in Yamaku so far.

My mind starts to wander towards the events of the festival as I sit in the gardens. It was short, and the food could have been better, but it was still fun. I think a lot of that had to do with being around Miki. Sure, her antics can grind my gears a bit, but she always seems to know not to take it too far. She’s a nice, calming presence most of the time. Unlike the other students where I feel as if I have to walk on eggshells to not offend, I feel as though I can speak my mind to her. Maybe that’s how everyone is, though, and I just don’t notice. There’s the obvious faux pas I don’t want to commit, but it’s nothing dissimilar from interacting with anyone in public. After a week, I think I’ve finally started to understand this place a bit. However, I just can’t shake this feeling that something is wrong. It’s not something that’s wrong with the school, but rather something that’s wrong with me.

I can’t just ignore the fact that my life has changed. I’m not as athletic anymore, and I can never be as athletic again either. A bad fall or something hitting me in the chest can kill me, then and there. If I don’t take the billions of pills I need to take everyday, I run the risk of dying as well. That is my life now. I can never go back to my old life, go back to my old friends, or go back to my old school. The change is just too jarring and sudden for me to just accept. This school is forcing me to accept it, or at least it feels as if it is. I’m not ready to.

Miki pokes my cheek, probably to check if I’m still alive. I look back. “Sorry. Was just thinking about stuff.”

“Thinking ‘bout what?” she asks, hand propping up her head.

“Just, you know, my life I guess.”

I shrug, which seems to cause Miki to frown. “What, were you thinking about depressing shit?”

“Well, I guess that’s one way to put it,” I explain, rubbing the back of my head. Sad thoughts seems to be this girl’s weakness. I make a mental note to exploit that if she ever gets too annoying.

“Quit it then. Depressing thoughts do you no good.”

Her words echo through my mind. I suppose she’s correct in some regard, but it’s an ignorant thing to say. “It’s not as easy as just not thinking about it, you know?” I sigh, looking up to the stars as they fade into view. “My life is never going to be the same. Not with my condition, you know? It’s a hard thing to swallow.”

Miki hesitates before she lets her question flow out of her mouth. “What is your condition?”

Here I thought it was an unwritten rule to never ask someone about their disability. I guess rules matter not to her, though. I wait a moment, letting the willingness to share my plight build up. “Arrhythmia. It means I have an irregular heartbeat. It’s part of the reason I’m not so athletic as I was. Also why I’m really bad at running, as you’ve seen...”

Silence. Miki looks down trying to process the reveal. At least, that’s what I think she’s doing. However, she looks at me with a smile before holding up her stump. “Hiking accident. A boulder came off a small ledge I was climbing, ended up crushing my hand. By the time I got to the hospital, it was too fucked up to fix. So… Well, you can piece together what happened.”

She chuckles for a second, before her expression turns somber. “It was hard to adjust, I’ll admit. I was left-handed, so all of a sudden the things I was doing so easily before, I had to relearn. Hell, I’m still bad at writing things down; But I did it. It wasn’t easy, it was hard as hell. But you know what didn’t help? Looking back and thinking about how things were before.”

The amount of passion she puts into her voice is a first. I’m unable to comeback in any way. I don’t disagree, but I’m prompted to continue to listen to her go on. It’s captivating.

“I get that this is a new thing for you, Hisao. I’m sorry that this is such a jarring change for you. But you have to accept that it’s your life now. Fuck the past, Hisao. The past has already happened, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The future hasn’t happened yet, so why even bother thinking ‘bout it? The present, though, that’s where we live. That’s what you gotta base your life around, dude. Take it one step at a time. If your life is going up or down, it doesn’t matter, you’re still moving. Heart condition or no heart condition, you’re still living. That’s all it takes to live your life to the fullest.”

Silence returns once more, though this time it’s much more comforting. “Hell of a pep talk,” I say, which gets a laugh out of her. My face grows more somber though as I realize my thoughts just moment before. “I’m not ready… Not yet.”

Miki, with a smile, places a hand on my shoulder. “You’re only as ready as you want to be, Hisao.”

Those words stick to me, up until a loud crack assaults my ears and a bright pattern of light fills the skies. The beauty is nearly unparalleled. Various colors flood the sky, forming various patterns that flick on for only brief moments. It is like paint being splattered on a canvas. Miki looks up in awe, hand having retreated back to her lap. The display is captivating to say the least, as I almost forget what I was all sad about in the first place.

It didn’t matter, really. The fireworks are too enamoring for me to look away. With every fading light there seem to be endless more to take its place, all different in size and color. The peacefulness of the garden is turned to stunning beauty, as the brief flickers in the sky light up the flowers and plants.

However, the festival needs to end, so do the fireworks. The last light fades away, and the far-off applause echoes through the school as the day finishes. It’s bittersweet. At least, it should be. The disappointment of the day closing doesn’t hit me at all. Only the thankfulness of getting to experience it does. I look over to Miki, who still has that grin on her face. “Thank you, Miki” I say with a smile.

With a smile and a small punch to the shoulder, she gives me the response I was expecting.

“Stop being so dramatic.”
Last edited by PabloPabloPablo on Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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AJT135
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 11/24/18)

Post by AJT135 » Sun Nov 25, 2018 4:34 pm

That was a good act 1. I'm really liking this story so far, you're off to a good start. I look forward to reading more!

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Razoredge
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 11/24/18)

Post by Razoredge » Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:02 pm

That was some good stuff.
I'll look forward too.
Kenji > Lilly = Miki = Hanako > Emi > Rin > Shizune

Misha is a MOAB, she's out of the competition.

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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 12/2/18)

Post by PabloPabloPablo » Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:25 pm

Thank you for your guy's kind words! I should also really thank Mirage for proof-reading all of these chapters and the few upcoming ones, otherwise they'd be a completely mess.

Anyway, hope you guys enjoy Act 2!

---

Act 2: Blooming Hibiscus

Study Agreement

Waking up proves to be more difficult than I imagine. I think the festival knocked out all the energy I had for the day and then some. Part of it has to do with how hard it was to sleep. I kept thinking about what Miki said to me, about forgetting the past and living life in the moment. To be honest, it's a tempting offer, but not one I feel like I can pull off as effectively as Miki can. It’s not that I’m not ready, more that my mindset isn’t the same as hers. She takes a bad situation and can somehow perform a ton of mental gymnastics to shine it in a good light. That kind of skill takes a lot of talent that I don’t have.

Now’s probably not the best time to think about this, though. After shuffling out of bed, I pour my necessary pills out of the bottles and gulp them down. Once I reach the bathroom I shower as quickly as I can and start getting ready for class. I’m not late, really, but I will be if I slack off. Eventually I head out of the dorms and towards the main building. The outside feels a lot more empty without the stalls and people wandering around. Makes it hard not to miss the festival. But, it’s a thing of the past, and I have to remember what Miki said about the past after all.

Entering my class reveals just how empty the place is. There are only about half of the students inside, and those who are there seem completely devoid of life. Well, most of them do. Misha and Shizune look about as cheerful as ever. I give the two of them a small wave as I pass by and sit down at my desk.

“Hi Hicchan~!” Misha says in a voice loud enough to wake the rest of the class up. Shizune doesn’t notice, for obvious reasons, and gives me a nod of acknowledgement before she signs something to her partner in crime.

“So Hicchan, did you enjoy the festival~?” she asks in a much more subdued tone, which I am very grateful for.

“Yeah,” I answer, briefly remembering the time I spent with Miki. “It was really fun, actually.”

“Really? That’s great Hicchan~!” she replies in the same bombastic tone as usual. Shizune pushes up her glasses with a smirk and begins to sign. However, before Misha can translate whatever she is saying, a loud crash from the door rings in everyone’s ears.

It’s Miki. At least, it’s some sort of creature that resembles her when you tilt your head in the right way. Her hair is in utter chaos by the looks of it, and her eyes have as many bags under them as Suzu’s do. What’s weirder is that the sight seems to faze only me. Guess this is a common occurrence. The girl yawns, rubbing her eyes as she heads for her desk, only to be swiftly cornered by the student council duo and held up against the wall.

“Huh, what? What the hell?” she asks frantically, as if she has finally woken up. She looks at the two, whose glares are piercing through her heart, with an awkward grin. “Haha… Hey guys, how are you two doin’..?”

Shizune starts to sign frantically, more so than I’ve ever seen before. Her hand motions cut through the air like knives, scaring even Misha. She looks at her hands, unsure of exactly how to translate everything that was said.

“Uh… T-this hasn’t been the first time you’ve avoided your responsibilities to your class, Miss Miura. In fact the amount of times you have done so are almost too numerous to count! Just because you wish to have fun, that does not excuse you from abandoning your duties. Your act made everyone working at the stand have to work even harder and longer. I hope you understand the severity of your actions!”

Misha takes a breather after that tirade. It seemed to have caught everyone’s attention, especially the people that walked in on this. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Haru looking vaguely disappointed. Miki, oddly enough, is still smiling, though it seems to be a lot more shakey than before.

“Yeah… Sorry,” she apologizes, chuckling for a moment before stopping abruptly. “Listen, Hisao was all alone at the festival, looking like a lost puppy. I felt, like, bad, you know? So I decided to spend the festival with him.”

It takes me a moment to process what I'm hearing. I can’t tell if I’m being thrown under the bus or if she’s attempting to use my perceived loner persona to get a free pass. Shizune, still looking furious, does take a moment to consider her words before she looks at me.

“Is that true, Hicchan~?” Misha asks, in what I can assume was a nicer version of what Shizune actually asked me, considering she was signing for a long time.

I think for a moment, before nodding. “Yeah. I felt bad at pulling her away from the stall, but… She insisted.”

My words seem to calm Shizune down, if only just a bit. She starts to sign back at Miki which Misha quickly translates. “Well, regardless of the reasoning, that’s still an excuse. If your intentions were noble, you should have informed the student council before taking breaks. We’ll let you off with a warning one last time, solely because your reasons weren’t selfish. Next time, expect severe consequences.”

Miki nods, putting her stump to the forehead before straightening her body and putting her feet together. “Yes ma’am!”

It gets a laugh out of Misha, but Shizune looks less than pleased. As Miki hops over to her desk, she flashes me a wink. I can feel my heart fluttering a bit, though thankfully not in the ‘potential death’ kind of way. Regardless, I just nod in response.

The moment Mutou stumbles into the room as groggy as everyone else is the moment I remember we have a test.

---

Miki, looking visibly depressed as she brushes her messy hair, hops on my desk with a loud groan. “That test… it kicked my ass man. Like, assault levels of ass kicking.”

I shrug, twirling my pencil in my hand. The test wasn’t too bad, though admittedly it did catch me by surprise. Science is one of my better subjects, thankfully, so I didn’t have that hard of a time on it. Miki looked to be doing fine, though now that it’s lunch break, her emotions are allowed to spill out.

“I know you’re a giant nerd and that test was super easy for you, but you gotta understand that for normal people, that test was a kick in the balls.”

“I assume you didn’t study for it, then?” I ask with just a hint of sarcasm there.

“No, obviously not,” she pouts, fixing her hair with the brush for a few more seconds before handing it back to a girl that I believe she called Ikuno. “Like, who the hell is gonna study for an exam on the day of the festival? That’s some dumb shit, right there.”

“That’s why you study the days before the festival. You’re not supposed to cram, you know.”

“Why not?” she asks, tilting her head. “It works, bro. Just cram that shit into your brain and you’re good to go.”

I open my mouth to speak, but stop myself, deeming it would go over the girl’s head. She seems to notice, though, and smirks as if she had won a game.

After having a good look around the class and noticing that Misha and Shizune have left, she leans in close to whisper in my ear, “Thanks for covering for me. My hero~.”

“Quit it,” I say, leaning back in my chair. Miki laughs for a few moments, which leaves her distracted long enough to will the blush away from my cheeks. Before I can say anything more, I notice Haru walking up to my desk, particularly focused on the girl sitting on it rather than me.

“Yo, Miki,” he says in the same annoyed tone as yesterday. Not sure why he talks to her so much if he is annoyed by her, but hey, I don’t judge. “Stop bothering him and hurry up. The guys are waiting.”

“Hell nah, I’m still pissed at them,” she says indifferently. Seems there’s a bit of drama that I don’t know. It piques my curiosity enough for me to pay attention.

However, Haru is quick to notice the awkward situation and acts accordingly. “I’m not gonna talk about this here. Come on, we can talk about it in private.”

Miki just shakes her head. “Nah, I’mma just hang with Hisao instead.”

Her words make both Haru’s and my eyes widen. Normally I’m supposed to be the backup plan to the backup plan, which I figure is Suzu. Now I’ve been thrown right into the forefront. Admittedly, it’s weird for her to choose me, who I think would still be considered an acquaintance, over her long time friends. But, she seems serious.

The boy shrugs. “Alright then. Seeya at track.”

He walks off with a tone of indifference. Given the way Miki was talking to him, I have to assume he was as much in the middle of the drama as I was. She stares at the door for a moment before looking back at me with a smile. “So! What do you wanna do. Cause… I have no idea.”

“I don’t know. I was honestly going to skip lunch if I could.” Those words seem to annoy Miki, given the glare she gives me. I want to ask about the altercation, but I have a feeling she would just shut it down. Still, she’s pretty open about this kind of stuff...

“Cafeteria it is, then,” she says as she slides off my desk and pulls at my wrist. Looks as if I don’t have a choice in this. I give in, letting her drag me to our destination.

Once we reach the cafeteria, the two of us opt for some noodles instead of anything remotely healthy. For someone that is into exercise, Miki sure does love to eat anything so long as it has meat to it. Judging by her physique, I don’t think she has any reason to care. That or she just works herself extra hard to burn off any excess calories. Either would not surprise me.

The two of us sit in silence for the majority of our meal, exchanging small talk every now and again. What’s different from the first time is that the silence is actually quite peaceful. I’ve come to enjoy just being around her, as if her aura gives off a calming energy. That, or I’ve come to appreciate the moments she doesn’t tease me. Still, the altercation from before rattles in my mind. Miki is pretty open about things, I’ve come to learn, and I don’t doubt that if the situations were reversed, she’d be asking me about what happened back there. Though, I don’t really know how good of an excuse that would be if things go south.

After finishing my food, I decide to be an idiot for the umpteenth time. “Hey, if you don’t mind me asking-”

“You wanna know what I was arguing about with Haru?”

She cuts me off, almost as if she was reading my mind. I’m pretty bland and obvious, I can admit, but that was pretty impressive. I just nod as I await her next words.

Miki rubs the back of her head with her stump before speaking. “It’s nothing too serious, really. The guys said they had to work stalls in the festival, but instead most of them were out hitting on girls, trying to get laid. Just kinda pissed me off that they lied, is all.”

“Isn’t that that kind of what you did?”

Miki glares at me for a moment. “I didn’t lie to them. I told ‘em I was gonna ditch to hang around the festival. They said they weren’t gonna, and then did anyway…”

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but the drama seems rather tame compared to the ideas I had in my mind. Seems more like typical drama I’d hear back at my old school. In fact, I think one of my friends pulled the same trick on me a few years back. The memory is enough to get a chuckle out of me, which I immediately regret. Miki doesn’t look too mad, thankfully. In fact, she ends up smiling.

“Yeah, pretty dumb, I know,” she says, shrugging before she chuckling.

“I mean, it was stupid of them to not just tell you. But the way I see it, the intentions weren’t negative, you know? I figure that they just didn’t want to just tell you that they were ditching you for other girls.”

“It ain’t about the other girls,” she retorts, her tone revealing her annoyance. “I’m not jealous or anything. If they thought I would get jealous then they’re dumb as hell.”

A small, tiny part of my brain is joyful at the prospect of her not being jealous, but I shove that part of me down into the cellar for the moment. “That’s true. But guys are dumb and dense, so what can you do?”

“I know that. Hanging out with you makes that clear.”

Walked into that one. I concede with a nod, which gets a grin out of her. “Regardless, you shouldn’t hold a huge grudge on them. I’m sure they didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Miki looks out to the other people in the cafeteria, seemingly contemplating my words. “Yeah, I’ll forget about it after a day, probably.”

She seems all fixed up after that brief talk. I’m glad I could help her, but that little part of my brain is screaming at me right now. I’m only talking to her in this situation because she’s angry at her typical group of friends. They’re all a bunch of track guys she’s probably known for years, while I’m just a random new guy who can barely run a couple laps. It’s not hard to see who she’d rather want to hang out with. Obviously I don’t want her to be angry at her friends forever, but things would go back to normal fairly quickly, with her hanging out with her group a majority of the time. That leads me to be the backup plan to the backup plan. Sure, I run with her, but with Suzu there I feel more like a third wheel.

I think I’m just being selfish here. Miki has a large group of friends, so it’d be impossible for her to always hang out with me. Problem is, sad to say, Miki is about the only friend I have in the school. I’m down to be a loner sometimes, but being one ninety percent of the time stings a bit. Besides, I do want to get to know her more. That’s just hard with her being as popular as she is.

That’s when an idea strikes me. One that would be a benefit to Miki and hopefully help me get to know her better. I clear my throat to get her attention. “You said you just cram when you study, right?”

She looks up a me, a bit confused. “Well, I never said I did that, but I sure as hell implied it.”

“That’s no good then. If you’re gonna want to pass finals coming up, you’re going to have to study harder.”

Miki just laughs at my statement. “Okay Mr. Nakai, I get it. I’ll try very hard next time.”

“You sure will, cause I’m going to tutor you,” I say in a nonchalant voice.

“Okay, okay,” she says with a smile. It’s only after a few seconds of realization that I’m not joking that her face spells out her confusion. “Wait, are you serious?”

“Yup. Only if you want to,” I say, which does noticeably relieve Miki. Can’t have that. “But, without me, all those final exams will kick your ass. And you’ll probably fail. So, your choice.”

Miki thinks for only a split second before shrugging. “Eh, what happens happens.”

I nearly spit out my drink that I was sipping. My brain tries to mentally rewind what she said just so I can make sure she wasn’t messing with me. Judging by her face, she was serious. “You… Nah, not what happens happens... This is about failing or not failing.”

She doesn’t seem to process what I’m saying at all, given her expression hasn’t changed. “I get what you’re saying, but there isn’t any use worrying about it till it happens.”

“So… Let me try to explain your logic so that I can understand,” I say, holding my hands up as I try to contain my composure. “You only worry about failing a class when you actually end up failing it, when it’s too late to change anything about your grade?”

Miki nods and smiles. “Yeah, pretty much.”

I almost want to bang my head against the cafeteria table, but that might cause a stir in this school. I get that she’s all about living in the moment, but this is a bit too much. I shake my head, trying so desperately to think of something to convince her. But nothing comes out. Miki has all but crushed my idea, and I'm left stunned at the aftermath. “So… No tutoring then?” I ask in a defeated tone.

“I didn’t say that,” she replies, sticking her tongue out at me and winking.

I hate this girl.
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