Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 1/8/21)

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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 1/8/21)

Post by PabloPabloPablo » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:14 am

Reformed Hypothesis

I decided to head to the faculty office immediately after my reflection. I don’t know how long staff tends to hang around the school after the day is over, but I would hate to miss the chance to talk to Mutou today. I’d have to wait till Monday if I did, and it feels like I don’t have the time to wait that long.

The hallways become rather desolate at this time of day. Most people are busy with club activities. Those that aren’t seem to stay clear of the hallways. Where they go is anyone's guess. When I think about it, I start to feel weird not having any place to go after school beyond the library. Honestly, I haven’t been reading as much as I wish these days. I have no idea why. I have literally no plans before six o’clock and there’s a crap ton of variety there. Even if they don’t have something I wanted to read, I could always ask Yuuko to order it for me. Really that only reason I can think of for not reading is a lack of motivation.

I rarely have the motivation to do much of anything beyond living my life. Before the heart attack, I was sort of on autopilot. It got worse when my incident occured. I could barely rack up my motivation to wake up in the morning. I just did it because that was the only thing I could do. Back at the hospital, my motivation for reading was mostly the same, though it also helped me cope a bit better. Outside of that, I don’t have much motivation to do anything. I don’t know how bad that actually is, but it seems pretty bad. Without motivation, why would people bother to do anything? I don’t know. I also don’t know how to even gain motivation in the first place. I don’t know a lot of things, it seems.

I can’t help but wonder what the hell is my motivation for going to Mutou in the first place. If I wanted to be cynical, which I’m pretty good at, I’d say desperation. To be more of an optimist though, I’d say my motivation is looking for guidance. It feels like I’ve just been stationary for the past couple of days. It’s like I’m on some escalator that’s broken and I’m too lazy to walk up the damn stairs. Well, maybe I’m not lazy. Maybe I’m just scared, or unsure. I just need to figure out where I’m going, and I figure that an adult would be the best bet in helping me figure it all out. Mutou has probably been through the same stuff I’m going through. After all, he used to be a teenager too.

The staffroom door is shut, as usual. Honestly, going here is a pretty scary experience. The place feels closed off, as if it’s some forbidden palace that no mortal would ever dare enter. It’s not. From my experience with my old school’s staffroom, it looks like a typical office with less legroom. Though I think students aren’t supposed to enter without good reason. I’m not sure if my questions about science would constitute a good reason, but I won’t know until I ask.

I slide the door open, which causes none of the teachers to even so much as look up at me. Most of them are on their computers typing away or talking quietly amongst themselves. The cubicles they sit in are much more spacious than the ones from my old school, and the room itself is a fair bit larger despite clearly having less teaching staff than a typical high school. Mutou sits in the corner of the room, tapping his foot away as he examines some papers in front of him. I walk over to him, making sure not to disturb the other teachers who are clearly hard at work.

I clear my throat in some vague attempt to get his attention. It doesn’t seem to work, as he continues to stare blankly at the papers in front of him.

“Uh, sir?” I say, breaking him out of his trance.

“Yes, yes, what?” He asks just before looking at me. “Ah, Nakai. What are you doing here?”

His voice is confused and stilted, which doesn’t instill much confidence in me. “Uh, I just wanted to ask you a question.”

“A question,” he says, his confusion turning into a smile. “Uh, yes, of course. What is your question?”

“Well, I guess it’s less a question, and more just asking for some advice. I’ve been trying to look into science as a potential career option, so I was wondering if you had any advice for that. Like, potential schools, internship, stuff like that.”

Mutou stares directly at me with a face that betrays his excitement. “Science? You’re interested in science? Well, that’s… That’s great to hear. You’ve got a knack for the sciences, I must admit. In fact, I’d almost say you’re a natural at it.”

“I don’t know about all that...” I say as my embarrassment leaks through into my voice.

He shakes his head as he continues. “No need to be so humble, Nakai. Some people are born with certain… Well, certain gifts. Some people are good at English.” Mutou frowns at that statement. “Not a big English fan. Much prefer the sciences. Hard sciences like chemistry, astronomy. Biology is a fine science too, though I could never really become that well versed in it. I actually almost got into physics. I switched back and forth from that and chemistry… Anyway, where was I?”

“Gifts,” I remind him.

He perks up immediately. “Right, gifts. Basically there’s different gifts given to different people. You, Nakai, have the gift of logic. Science is all about following the logic of the world to figure out the logic we don't know, and you seem to get that. So, I’m happy to hear you’re interested in this.”

Mutou has a big dumb grin now. Honestly, it’s quite endearing, if not a bit awkward. I smile back, rubbing the back of my head. “Thanks. So, you’ll help me?”

“Oh, of course,” Mutou says with a nod. “There’s a few things I can do to help. The science club is one option.”

“We have a science club?” I ask in a shocked expression.

“No,” he says, shaking his head. “But we can start it up. We’d talk about science… Get you prepared for college… Stuff like that.”

“Huh…”

That doesn’t sound too bad, honestly. I don’t have a club, after all, so I’m pretty much stuck doing nothing until I have to run with Miki and Suzu, or have our study sessions. I’ve thought about joining a club, but none of them really seem to interest me outside the literature club. Which, of course, is full. Now I have the chance to do something that actually interests me. I think I'd have to be dumb not to take this chance.

"Are you interested?" Mutou asks in his stilted manner.

"Yeah, it sounds interesting," I admit. He smiles awkwardly.

"Splendid! We should start as soon as possible."

"Doing what?"

Mutou looks unsure himself. "Uh, well… I could give you reading material. Then we can discuss that in detail. You and me can recruit others if you’d like.”

“I feel like that’d be a good idea,” I say. “I think there could be more interesting discussion if we have multiple people. Plus we can help each other with… Well whatever we’re going to do in the club.”

Mutou smiles awkwardly. “Spoken like a true scientist, Nakai. Though I don’t know that many students that would be interested in a science club. Not to mention lots of students already have a club, and those that don’t, well… They don’t join one for their own reasons.”

“Good point,” I mutter, thinking about the best ways to recruit people. “Well, for now we could just set up flyers on the bulletin board and see who shows up. I think it’s better to just let them come to us rather than aggressively advertise, right?”

“Possibly,” Mutou says as he rubs his chin. “I’ll get to work on that. Or you can make one. Whichever works.”

“I don’t have a computer, so I’ll leave it to you.”

Mutou nods, looking at his computer absentmindedly. “Where did this come from, anyway?” he asks, looking curious. “Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that you’re taking an interest in the sciences. Like I said, you’re great at it. However, most students don’t really take an interest in these kind of things without a push.”

I ponder the question for a moment. “Well, I was just talking to Miki about college, and getting into science just sort of popped into my head.”

“Miura?” Mutou asks, frowning. “That would be the last person I’d expect to talk about college.”

“Yeah, you’re not wrong…” I admit, rubbing the back of my head.

“Don’t get the wrong idea, Nakai, I’m quite happy to hear that you two are actually talking about this. Most people your age don’t. Most are more concerned with just getting through high school, which is a fair thought process, though not exactly one I’d suggest.”

Mutou stops for second, as if he’s trying to watch exactly what he says. “You two are quite different though, in distinct ways. You both have the qualities of brilliance.”

I have to focus myself not to say ‘huh,’ to that. To say that’s a surprising thing to hear that Miki is brilliant is not only an understatement, it’s probably the last thing I’d expect to hear from Mutou. Still, she admits to everyone that school is not her forte. I sigh, shaking my head. “Thanks for the compliment, but… I don’t know if Miki would exactly agree with you there.”

Mutou frowns. “Well, it doesn't matter too much. Point is that you two should discuss these things further. Going into college with a good plan is extremely helpful in the long run."

"She wasn't very interested in the conversation, sadly."

"Oh," Mutou mutters. "That's a shame. Not unexpected though. As I said, most teenagers aren't thinking about those kinds of things. I didn't, and it made me waste some time. I'd rather you and her not have to go through that. And, well, if anyone can convince her to get into gear and work harder, it’s you.”

What? Me? I suppose I am her tutor, but Mutou doesn’t know that. At least I think he doesn’t know that. Even if he did, I can’t exactly see why I’d be the one to convince her to change her ways. See seems set in stone with them, and it’s not like I’m her best friend. That’s still Haru…

I rub the back of my head and ask, “Uh, why me?”

Mutou pauses and rubs his chin. “I figured you two were good friends. Was that a bit too presumptuous?”

“Oh,” I say, chuckling awkwardly. “Uh, no, you’re right.”

“That’s the reason then,” he explains. “Most people don’t listen to anyone but their friends. Family too, but you know how family can sometimes be.”

“Yeah, I get what you mean,” I say as flashbacks of my dad starts to haunt me. Stubbornness and density runs in the family, it seems. Though his answer does cause some thoughts to creep into my head. Good friends is how I’d describe Miki and me. Though, is just being a good friend really enough to force someone to change their ways? I don’t think so.

“By the way,” Mutou says, clearing his throat and shoving some paperwork into a drawer. “Do you have any preferences to the science, Nakai? Like, which field you’d want to study.”

Damn those hard questions. I shake my head. Not really, no. I was considering physics, though.”

Mutou nods, flashing an awkward smile. “Physics is a fine field. I think it suits you quite well. Do you want to go into the macro or the micro?”

“Huh?”

“Like, astrophysics or quantum physics,” Mutou explains. “With astrophysics you get to deal with celestial bodies. Interesting stuff. However, Quantum physics is just as interesting. It deals with the microworld, beyond atoms and into stuff like quarks, bosons, all that good stuff. It has its own rules too, and we haven’t been able to fully understand it yet. It’s brimming with potential.”

“Both sound interesting,” I say, nodding my head as I listen.

He blinks, smiling in his stilted manner that makes it hard to know exactly what he’s thinking. “Good, good. I’ll be sure to recommend you interesting reading material during science club.”

I smile back, a bit awkwardly. “I’ll look forward to it.”

Mutou checks his watch, causing a frown. “Meeting coming up. We can discuss this Monday, if you’d like. I’ll be sure to have that recruitment flyer done by then.”

“Thank you sir,” I say, moving myself out of the way so Mutou can escape.

He nods and whispers a thanks as he rushes out of the room. I follow after, noticing that he’s nowhere to be seen in the hallway. If I had to guess, he’s running late. That’s how it is during class, too. He always comes in a few minutes after class has officially begun. I used to think he was just indifferent, especially given his typical demeanor, but seeing him today has given me a fresh perspective. I think he’s just horrible at time management. He seemed so focused on his work when I came in, so I have no doubt that he might have been even later for his meeting if I hadn’t broken him out of his trance. Though that leaves me to wonder what exactly does he do before class starts.

Now that I think about it, I don’t have anything else to do. Guess that leaves the library…

---

As I approach my destination, I spot a familiar face in the hallway. Suzu stands outside a door just a few steps away from the library, rubbing her eyes and leaning against a wall as she holds a book in her hand. She groggily looks over towards me as I approach, smiling a stiff smile as she waves. As I get closer, the sounds of jolly yelling and laughs from the room next to her gets louder and louder.

“Nobody read the book,” she mutters, nodding her head towards the door. “So I said there wasn’t much of a point to having a meeting today.”

“Is it common for that to happen?” I ask in concern. It’s hard to tell what she’s feeling right now, given her monotone voice and blank expression. I can’t tell if she’s sad, annoyed, or anything else.

She shakes her head. “No. Not really. At least half of the club read. Half never do, they just join the club to mess around.”

It’s brief, but as she says that, she lets out a dejected sigh. “Why not get the club president to kick them out?” I ask.

“She encourages it,” Suzu explains. “She says it makes the club more fun than just… Reading. And talking about the stuff we read. Normally Akio, Lezard, and I can have some good discussions and analysis, but since it’s just a few of us, it’s brief. That leaves the rest of the time spent to just being a social club, I guess.”

“Sounds rough,” I say, looking towards the door in confusion. I think I’m starting to see why the literature club is so popular…

Suzu sighs onces again as she closes the book in her hand. “It’s a shame. The book is super good…”

I scan the book once again. The title short, simply called The Stranger. Doesn’t seem familiar, though to be perfectly honest, I’m not super interested in reading anything at the moment. Even if it seems like a shorter read, given how thin the book is. “Well, if you don’t plan on going back in there, I was just about to go to the library. Could probably read in privacy there.”

Suzu nods, turning towards me with a smile. “That sounds good. I just need to get a coffee first. Want to come?”

“Uh, sure,” I say, remembering the other day were she downed a bottle of coffee like it was a shot of liquor. “By the way, is coffee healthy for you to have?”

Suzu tilts her head, looking up at the ceiling above as she looks lost in deep thought. Eventually she shrugs. “I don’t know.”

That’s extremely concerning. However I don’t think I can argue with her about it. Even if I did, she wouldn’t listen. The two of us start walking towards the vending machines downstairs. Suzu explains to me how it has the best kind of coffee, for some contrived reason. I just take her word for. Once we get to the stairs, she stops. She slowly lifts her right foot up and places it onto a lower stair, as if she were trying to tiptoe her way down. Her small hand grabs hold of the railing to guide her down one step at a time. I’m puzzled at first, but then I remember what Miki told me about her condition.

“Want me to help you head down?” I ask, holding my hand out in front as I pass her on the stairs.

She looks down at me, tilting her head. “Why?” She asks with a tone of ignorant curiosity.

“Uh, I figured you were going slow cause you were worried you would pass out.”

She blinks rapidly, eyeing narrowing. She leans her head towards me, using the railing as support. “That’s not how narcolepsy works,” she explains with a stilted pouty face. “I’ll know if I start to pass out.”

“Oh, crap…” I mutter, rubbing the back of my neck in an attempt to ease away my embarrassment. Doesn’t do much. “Sorry, sorry. Why are you walking down like that then?”

“I just don’t like stairs,” Suzu says, returning to her monotone voice and blank stare. “Anyone can fall down them and get hurt, so I don’t want that to happen to me.”

I nod, looking down at the gentle angle the stairs have. “Well, I can hold your hand as we go down. Might make you feel a bit more comfortable, right?”

Suzu blinks again. “So you’ve gotten over Miki, and want to try to flirt with me now? You’re quite the womanizer, Hisao.”

“All right, never mind,” I groan, heading down the stairs at a quick pace. Suzu follows behind, still taking her time. She eventually makes it down and the two of us continue towards the vending machines. They’re stationed right next to the cafeteria, which at the moment is pretty much dead. It’s too late for lunch, too early for dinner, so most of the activity is found on the machines filled with various junk food. The drink machine has a line of about five people, so it’ll go by in about a minute or so. Suzu takes out a few coins from her purse, holding them tightly as she waits her turn. Each time the line gets shorter, Suzu shuffles her way up to the next position. She looks back at me as we get to the front of the line, holding out a coin.

“I’m good,” I say, waving my hand in a polite refusal. She nods, walking up to the machine and putting her coins in. She selects her coffee, and it clatters against the machine for a second before landing in the little hatch on the bottom. Suzu grabs it from out of the hatch and opens it to take a quick sip. Her eyes brighten for a brief second before they narrow once again. She looks at me with a smile before pointing towards the many empty tables in the cafeteria.

“Since we’re here, might as well settle down, right?” She suggests. “It might be less busy then the library, at least.”

“Sure,” I say, walking over to the tables. Suzu skips behind me, taking another quick sip of her coffee to give her another burst of fleeting energy. I question whether or not the coffee actually works that well, or if it’s all in her mind. I pull out chairs for the two of us as we reach a table. Suzu bows swiftly in thanks as we take our seats. She places the coffee down onto the table, looking at me expectantly.

“Did you follow my advice?” She asks with a tilt of her head. It takes me a second to figure out what she’s talking about, but eventually the memory pops back into my brain. That advice gave the day after Miki rejected me. The extremely odd and hard to understand advice. What was it again? Accept my feelings, don’t try to ignore them. Something like that. I really don’t even see how that helps at all. I know I have these feelings, and I accept that. That doesn’t really make me feel any different.

“Oh, right. No, I haven’t. Sorry.”

I figured honesty would be the best thing to give her, but judging by her frown it might not have been. “Why not?” She pouts, which begins to break my heart even further than it’s already been.

“Well…” I stop myself, trying to figure out how best to word my answer. Honesty makes her sad it seems, but I think I’m forced to be honest in this particular situation. “Listen, I just don’t quite get what your advice was getting at, you know? It was hard to wrap my brain around exactly what ‘accepting my feelings’ means in this situation. Like, I’ve clearly accepted I have my feelings here. And I still don’t see how ignoring them is a bad thing.”

Suzu stares blankly at me. I expect her to frown, or be upset in some way, but she just keeps a deadpan expression for a while. She blinks rapidly, taking another drink of her coffee before she sighs. “I understand. I’m not the best at explaining things, but I can try to explain better, if you want.”

“Of course,” I say, leaning in close. “I”m willing to hear the advice out, I’m just confused as to what it is.”

She nods, taking a drink of her coffee once again. “I was in a similar situation to you. It was… Two years ago. Maybe three. Anyway, it was a long time ago. There was a guy that I really liked, and I thought he might have liked me too since he was so nice to me. However, when I asked him out, he rejected me. I was very upset. So upset, in fact, that I started to blame myself. I didn’t figure that the rejection was just because the feelings weren’t mutual. I thought it was because I did something wrong. It was my fault for being to pushy about it, or being too clingy. And I hated myself for having these feelings that I couldn’t control.”

I listen closely, making sure to not interrupt her speech. She smiles ruefully, brushing a piece of hair out of her face. “I didn’t realize it wasn’t my fault. What you feel is never your fault. But I suffered by not realizing that fact. That’s want I originally meant when I said that you should accept your feelings. Not just accept that you have them, but accept that you’re not in the wrong for having them. Trying to ignore them doesn't really work. I’ve tried. It just makes you blame yourself even more for when they don’t disappear. Then you try and ignore them more and you wind up in a cycle.”

Well... That makes more sense now. With that context her words start to take on a different meaning. I have to wonder why she didn’t tell me this before. Maybe she was going to, or maybe she just didn’t feel up to it at this point. Judging by the sad expression on her, it doesn’t seem like the most jovial of topics for her. It’s weird for me to actually be able to read what she’s feeling for a change. It sounds bad, but often when I’m with her I forget that she can emote when she wants to. Or maybe she doesn’t want to, and she just can’t hold it in right now.

I pat her on the shoulder gently. “I’m really sorry to hear that…” I mutter in a low tone. She stares at me, her expression having returned to her typical deadpan style. Suzu slowly pulls me into a brief and loose hug. I don’t do anything to resist, though I don’t really react fast enough to hug the girl back. So it manages to be what is probably the most awkward hug of my life. Once she lets go, she claps her hands together, forcing a stilted smile.

“Did that help you understand a bit better?” She asks in a fake, cheerful tone. It comes out of nowhere. How weird. In fact, it’s too weird.

“Yeah, I understand it now,” I mutter, looking back at her as I try to rack my brain around her act. Though, before I can actually confront her, a question comes to mind. I try to push it aside, but it keeps gnawing at me. “Mind if I ask you a personal question, Suzu?”

“No,” she says, shaking her head and taking a sip of coffee. “I don’t. But you should hurry, as this caffeinated beverage is not doing much of anything against my current drowsiness.”

Well crap. That leaves me with two choices here. Either I can ask her about her weird emotionless nature or I can ask her that burning question I have... Why did the guy reject her? Cause the feelings weren’t mutual, obviously, but I have to wonder exactly why that was the case. Suzu’s a nice girl, after all. It just feels like there’s more to this than just him not liking her. Maybe there isn’t, though. There’s probably isn’t. I don’t even know why I want to know. Well, okay I do, but I’m doubtful it’ll help in any meaningful way. Whatever his reasoning is, it’s most likely far different from Miki’s reasons. Still, if I ask, I could at least gather some semblance of reasoning as to why. That’s what’s really been eating away at me this whole time, when I think about it. I just want to figure out what I did wrong…

Did I do anything wrong?

Not according to Suzu, I didn’t. According to her, I just followed my heart. That’s not a bad thing. It can’t be. Like she said, it wasn’t my fault what happened. It wasn’t Miki’s either. A rejection isn’t something to blame on a person. Something else happened. I’m not really sure what, but I doubt my stupid question will answer it for me. It’s like Haru said the other day, nobody is going to tell me what happened. I’ve just got to figure it out for myself. How will I do that? Hell if I know, but I’m sure I’ll think of something better than asking a sleepy girl why she got rejected.

I open my mouth to say something and am met with an immense wave of hesitation. That other question, the one about her emotions, doesn’t seem appropriate either. I know she said that she doesn’t mind, but I can’t help but feel like that doesn’t apply in this situation. Her monotone voice and overall deadpan nature is core to her. It’d be like if I asked Misha why she’s so loud, or ask Hanako why she’s so shy. It’s what a jerk would do. Actually, it's also probably what Suzu would do.

“Nevermind,” I say. “Just get some rest. I’ll keep watch.”

Suzu nods, rubbing her eye one last time before laying her hands and head down onto the table. “Hope you feel better, Hisao…” she says as she closes her eyes and slowly drifts off into sleep.

Hope I feel better, huh? Thanks for that. I sit there, unwilling to move with Suzu in such a vulnerable position. I wait and wait, contemplating the day thus far and all the advice I was given. Looking out the windows, the sky seems a bit clearer than before. The presence of a friend, though sleeping, is comforting in the large and empty cafeteria. It’s relaxing to the point where time seems to flow past my notice. It’s only till I realize that it’s thirty minutes till our study session that I start to wake Suzu back up.
Last edited by PabloPabloPablo on Sat Jan 09, 2021 1:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Currently working on Flowers Before the Fireflies: a Miki Pseudo-route

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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 12/10/19)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Tue Dec 10, 2019 3:32 pm

Nice cozy chapter. Congratulations on keeping your project going for so long, and good luck moving forward!
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
Riposte (Rika Mini-Route)
One-Shots Thread (Random Smut/Meme Stories)

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PabloPabloPablo
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 12/10/19)

Post by PabloPabloPablo » Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:33 am

Hey.

It's been a bit, hasn't it? I'm not going to make any excuses about why or how there hasn't been an update in the past year. Life just happens, motivation dies, etc. I just wanna get back into this and hopefully finish it sooner rather than later.

This chapter has actually been "done" since 2019. However I've edited it a bunch of times since then by myself, with this being the finished product. It might be a bit janky because the wonderful proofreaders I had to help with the other chapters didn't look at some of the later parts of the chapter, and I would feel bad to throw this one at them after a year of radio silence. Plus, I just want to get it out there. Still, I hope you all enjoy it.

---

Plans

After Suzu wakes up from the ruckus of the cafeteria, the two of us decide to head back to the library to wait on the study session. Her attempts to climb the stairs were amusing now that I knew it wasn’t anything related to her condition. She holds onto the hand rails as if she were on a rickety wooden bridge, slowly putting one foot up a stair and her other foot up another. Meanwhile I’m hanging out at the top, waiting patiently as she takes her time with the staircase. I wonder why she doesn’t like them if it’s not directly related to her condition. Miki did mention that she did slump over at one point, but Suzu seems to say that’s not exactly how her condition works. I suppose she could have two conditions, but whatever the second one might be, I haven’t seen it. And honestly, I hope I don’t, as it sounds terrible for the poor girl to experience.

The light from the windows is still as bright as ever. It feels as if hours have gone past, but the sky says otherwise. Typical summer trickery. Back in the winter, days felt shorter than ever, as just flew by without any sense of importance. I woke up to find a week has passed without even noticing, and I think the fact that it was winter played a part of that. Days always feel shorter during the winter, and in terms of daylight they obviously are. To blink and find that the sky has gone from bright to darkness is a terrible feeling. Wasted time is what it is. I look over to Suzu and realize that she has to deal with that idea all the time.

Before we enter the library, Suzu pulls on my sleeve. When I look back, she’s staring at the clubroom for the literature club. She walks over, opening the door to poke her head into the quiet room. After a few seconds, she pops her head out, and closes the door. With a look and a small shake of her head, she walks past me and towards the library. Her expression is as wooden as ever, though I feel like she’s still upset over the club. I do feel bad, as there’s not much I can do to help her on that front. Maybe I can convince her to join the science club instead? Though given how much she likes reading, I doubt she’d want to drop her old club for one about…

I don’t even know what the science club would do, to be honest. I might want to figure that part out before I decide to start stealing members from other clubs.

Once we get to the library, the two of us sit at our usual study table. Most of the tables around us are completely devoid of people; most of our peers have realized that we’re quite the rowdy group. Well, Miki is rowdy, the rest of us only get loud trying to reel her in. It’s honestly quite embarrassing when I think about it. I look over to Suzu, who sits next to me reading her book from before.

“We need to find a better study spot,” I whisper to her, looking around at the various students who are staying as far from our table as possible. “One where people won’t give us dirty looks because of how loud we are.”

“We?” Suzu asks, “just Miki.”

“Right. Well, there’s the tea room,” I mention, remember how close it was to the library. “Though I think Lilly uses that one.”

“It’d be rude to kick her out, then.”

“Yeah, true…”

Suzu tilts her head, looking up at the ceiling above as she seemingly ponders our options. “We could use someone’s room. That way we’re not as limited by the library’s operating hours.”

The idea is promising at least. “Whose room?” I ask, curious about the options available. I’ve seen Miki’s room. A mess, but nothing that we can’t work in. My room is pretty empty, with nothing but a few knicknacks on my desk. Though I don’t think I’m read to show the three of them my tower of pills I have...

Suzu’s eyes widen. She blushes, and shakes her head. “Not my room, please. It’s embarrassing.”

Well that was adorable. “Ah. Mine too. That just leaves Miki or Haru’s then. I doubt either of them would have any problem with us using their rooms.”

“Ask them,” Suzu mutters, pointing over towards the entrance of the library. Haru and Miki are walking into the library together. Haru looks like he normally does, but Miki on the other hand looks completely dead. It’s as if the life has been all but kicked out her. In fact, her expression looks awfully similar to Suzu’s typical face. Haru waves as the two of them approach, with Miki just weakly lifting up her hand.

“What happened to you?” I ask in a hushed voice.

“I was late to practice,” Miki answers with a defeated smile.

“The captain makes us do more laps if we’re late,” Haru explains, trying to contain his laughter. “Normally it’s only like one or two, but he adds on more every time you’re late. Since it’s Miki we’re talking about… Well, you get the picture.”

“Ugh, shut up,” Miki mutters, collapsing onto the table. “Let’s just skip this session, yeah? My brain is all slush right now.”

“You say that every session,” I say, causing her to pout.

“Yeah, but… Now I mean it.”

“Boy who cried wolf,” Suzu mutters as she nods sagely. “Or girl, in this case.”

Miki groans, lifting her head up and holding it up with her hand. “Alright, fine… What do we gotta study today?”

“More math,” I reply, which causes her to groan even more. “But, me and Suzu were talking, and we thought it might be best to move our study group somewhere else. Since, you know, we’re loud.”

Haru points to Miki, which causes her to slap his shoulder. “Shut up, you bastard,” she mutters, folding her arms together.

“Hey, I didn’t say anything,” he says with a smug expression. “I just pointed out the obvious reason is all. Anyway, I agree. The dirty looks we get annoy me.”

I look over to Miki, who’s still frowning. Eventually she throws her hand and stump into the air. “Fine, fine. Not it.”

“Not it,” Suzu yelps out.

“Not it,” I mutter, looking over to Haru in response.

He stares at the three of us with confusion in his eye. Eventually his eyes widen, and he starts to glare at the group. “The hell… What are you guys, like ten years old?”

“Calling not it is law, Haru,” Miki explains with her own smug expression. “Besides, I’m sure your room doesn’t have any embarrassing crap in it that we can make fun of.”

“Haha,” Haru mocks, getting up from his seat and slinging his bag over his shoulder. “Come on, then.”

The three of us follow him out of the library and towards the dorms. I have to admit, I am interested in how Haru’s room looks like. The only other room I’ve been into, not counting my own, of course, was Miki’s. That room is just a mess. Probably why she didn’t want to go to her room. I’m more interested in seeing what a normal room looks like anyway. Hell, maybe I can even get some inspiration as to how to decorate my room. I could use it.

Haru leads the group, with Suzu hovering towards the middle of the line and Miki and me lagging behind. She walks up next to me with her arms behind her head. “Seriously, do you think I can pass my finals?”

“You asked me earlier today,” I say, looking over to her.

“Yeah, and you didn’t answer,” Miki says with a frown. “You just went on your little lecture. I want a clear cut answer.”

“Fine,” I say, lowering the volume of my voice. “At this rate? No. You need to do more studying and you need to take studying more seriously. No more ‘better luck next time,’ stuff.”

Miki groans once again, looking down at her feet. “Right…”

With that she walks off and catches up with Suzu as I’m left still trailing behind them. Wonder if I made her mad. It was the truth, though. If she’s serious about actually trying to pass, then she needs to start as soon as possible. However, I seriously have my doubts that she will try. Maybe that’s mean, but it’s true. Miki isn’t one to take things seriously. Our talk from earlier made that even more clear. It worries and frustrates me. It worries me because I don’t want to see her fail, and it frustrates me because nothing I can say will get her to try. It’s all on her, and I just don’t trust Miki to do what’s best for her.

Though, honestly, hell if I know whether she will or she won’t. I said at one point that she was easy to read. That was a damn lie. Sure, she might wear her happiness or annoyance on her sleeve, but any other emotion or thought she has is a complete mystery. What’s worse is that I can’t even approach her about it without seeming clingy. Hell, maybe I am clingy, but I know that’s there’s something more to it than that. I just can’t for the life of me figure out what.

The four of us make it to the dorms without any complications. When we approach Haru’s room he lets out a noticeable sigh and takes his keys out of his pocket. After unlocking it, he throws the door open, moving out of the way to give the rest of us a good look at his room.

The biggest thing that catches my eye is all of the various movie posters that are scattered along the walls. A lot of them are old western movies that I remember hearing about. One that catches my eye is of a foreigner in a cowboy outfit with a revolver. The literal definition of a western movie. A few posters are of Japanese movies too, mostly those cheap giant monster ones from the 50’s and 60’s. On his desk is what looks to be a DVD player and various DVDs of some of the movies he has posters of. He also has a few mystery novels on a mini bookshelf near the desk. One book that catches my eye is about UFO conspiracy theories. Weird, but I won’t judge. Miki on the other hand, feels the need to take it from the shelf and examine it further.

“What’s this?” she asks, pointing her stump at it before Haru grabs it from her.

“Don’t touch crap without asking,” he says, placing the book back where it came from. “Actually, don’t touch anything. Even if you ask, the answer’s no.”

“What, you’re embarrassed over the fact that you believe in little green men?” Miki teases with a smug grin.

“No, I’m not. God, this is horrible… Why’d you make me do this, New Kid?”

I flash a guilty look before smiling. “Sorry. It looks nice though. Honestly.”

Haru grumbles before pulling his chair from the desk. “You and Suzu can sit on the bed. Miki… You get the floor.”

“Huh?!” Miki yelps, looking at Suzu and me in disbelief. The two of us shrug, which causes Miki to pout. “C’mon man. There’s room for three on that bed, right?”

“Gross,” Suzu mutters, placing her hands on her cheeks to hide some of the red hue that’s forming.

Haru shrugs, nodding his head towards Suzu. “She says it’s gross. Suzu’s word is final.”

“But she meant it li-... Ugh, nevermind.”

Miki crashes to the ground, arms crossed as she looks annoyed. Feeling a little bad, I move from the bed towards the ground, settling myself down on the floor. It seems to cheer her up enough to get rid of her frown. Suzu follows, crossing her legs as she takes a seat on the floor. I look over to Haru, who’s still sitting on his desk chair. Eventually he chuckles in response.

“Hell no. You guys can chill on the floor all you want, though. Makes me feel like I’m above you guys.”

“You wish,” Miki mutters, pulling out her notebook and math textbook. She immediately turns to me, leaning in and asking a variety of questions about today’s chapter. I do my best to keep up with her questions, explaining them with visual examples on my own notebook. Suzu and Haru seem to be working together on Mutou’s work for the weekend. The four of us are noticeably louder than back at the library, for obvious reasons. I don’t know if we’re loud enough for Haru’s neighbors to hear, though. I hope not...

As the session progresses, it starts to feel as if Miki is getting it. Well, barely getting it. I’d explain the concepts, and she’d do them right for the most part. Maybe some of the computations are wrong, but every step she does is correct. It’s a drastic change from the first session, seeing as back then she could barely solve anything beyond algebra. Now she can, so long as I’m there to correct any small mistakes. That’s progress, I suppose. Thankfully, she seems more focused today than she normally is. After a few problems, however, she groans loudly and lays her head onto Suzu’s shoulder.

“Brain hurts,” she mutters, turning to Suzu for help. Suzu shrugs, accidently causing Miki’s head to slide off her and land right onto the wooden frame of the bed. Suzu gasps as Miki yelps out in pain, rubbing the back of her head with her hand. “Ow…”

She eventually shakes the injury off, though not after Suzu apologizes a few times. Haru just sits there trying not to laugh.

Miki sighs, standing up abruptly with her hand still resting on the back of her head. “Alright, that’s a sign for me to get the hell out of here.”

“What?” I ask in confusion. “We were making good progress. Besides, it’s been less than an hour.”

“Seriously? It felt like ten hours to me.”

Haru checks his watch. “To be exact, it’s been about 48 minutes, not counting the minutes that it took to get here.”

Miki looks at Haru in surprise before frowning and taking a seat back onto the floor. “Break then.”

“Sure, we can take a break,” I say, closing my textbook for the moment.

Haru looks around at his room. “What would we do other than talk?”

“Nothing wrong with talking for once, stupid,” Miki says with an annoyed tone. “Why don’t you watch your movies if you don’t feel like talking.”

“Hell no, if I put on a film I won’t get back to studying,” Haru says with a smug smile. “This is cinema right here. Films that are high art and shit.”

Miki looks at one of the posters along the wall. “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is high art?”

“Guilty pleasure,” Haru retorts, rubbing the back of his head. “Whatever, let’s talk about something else. Like… What are you guys doing over summer?”

“Sleeping,” Suzu replies in a monotone voice. The room falls silent for a second, before Suzu looks around. “It was a joke.”

Miki awkwardly chuckles before clearing her throat. “I dunno. Might just chill at school or something.”

Haru acknowledges her response with a nod before turning towards me. I try my best to come up with some answer that isn’t boring, but ultimately the only thing that comes to mind is the boring answer. “I’ll probably just move back to my hometown for the summer. I’ve got nothing better to do, really.”

Haru frowns at that answer. What was I supposed to say? However, his frown turns into a smirk as he claps his hands together. “Well, if you guys don’t got plans, how about this: a camping trip. Out in one of the parklands near here. Like proper camping too, no RV or any of that bullshit. We’d set up a fireplace, pitch tents, maybe fish in the river, go hiking up some mountains, all that crap.”

A camping trip, huh? It sounds interesting. I remember that I went once a long time ago with my parents. It was… Well quite frankly, it was awful. Mainly because I was a spoiled ten year old. Eight years later, and I’d say I would give it another try. I’m sure it can’t be that bad. Well, assuming I don’t have a heart attack in the middle of the forest.

I look over to Miki, whose expression is blank and almost unreadable. Almost like how Suzu looks, but somehow even more devoid of emotion. It’s the same stare she had at the track meet. That one that I can’t determine for the life of me what it means. It’s an unexpected reaction, to say the least. I figure given what Miki likes that she’d be more into the idea than she looks to be. I mean it’s just a camping trip right?

The realization hits me like a truck. Her hand was lost in a hiking accident. That doesn’t necessarily have to do with camping, but the two are intertwined. Not to mention the fact that he mentioned hiking. That’s got to be it. There’s no other reason for Miki to be so… Apathetic to the idea. How could Haru not pick up on that? He of all people should know about Miki’s incident. Sure, Miki casually brings it up a lot, but I’d have to guess she doesn’t want to go on hiking trips in particular any time soon. Besides, it’s hard to get over something that traumatic. Given she still bandages her stump up, I’d bet that she still has a hard time with it.

Haru notices Miki’s expression, raising an eyebrow. “No good, Miki? I thought you liked trees and stuff.”

Miki seems to exit a trance as he calls her name. Looking back at Haru with an awkward smile, she rubs the back of her head. “I guess I do. I like the forest behind the school at least. I just… Don’t care for hiking at all.”

Well, there it is. I want to say something about it, but I’d rather not make a scene about an innocent invitation. Haru probably just forgot about the whole thing, is all.

“Why the hell not?” Haru asked with a chuckle. “You more of a sprinter than a hiker?”

That seems kind of like a shitty thing to say to a person that lost her hand while hiking. I almost couldn’t believe he actually said that to her. Seriously, he’s acting like he doesn’t know.

Wait, does he not know?

There’s no way he doesn’t. Miki and him are practically best friends. She talks with him everyday, hangs out with him everyday, and are both in the same class and the same club. There’s no way that she hasn’t told him that. Hell, Haru even said himself that he knows her well. Not knowing how she lost her dominant hand is a pretty big secret to not know. Besides, she told me after like, three days of talking with me. I’m supposed to believe she hasn’t told her best friend that in, what, a year or two that she’s known him?

And why would she tell me of all people if she didn’t even tell her best friend?

“So, what do you guys say?” Haru asks, as if nothing is the matter.

Suzu tilts her head, oblivious to what’s happening. “Yeah. It might be fun, right?”

She turns her head towards Miki, who still seems a bit out of it. She looks down at her hand, clenching it lightly before looking back up at Haru. “Sure.”

She’s fine with it? Well, it doesn’t seem like she’s fine with it. Then again, what the hell do I know? Like I said, she’s impossible to read, and it’s all the more frustrating for it. I have to be missing something here. Either she is upset and is just not telling anyone, or… Actually I can’t think of any other possibility. There’s no way she wouldn’t be upset over this.

“New kid?” Haru waves his hand in front of my face, snapping me out of my trace. “Don’t feel peer pressured into it if you don’t wanna go.”

“No, I uh,” I stumble upon my words, still trying to make sense of the whole event. When I look at Miki, she’s aimlessly twirling her hair around a finger with that same look. “Yeah, sure. After finals, right?’

“Well, it’s settled then,” Haru says with a clap of his hands. “Now we just gotta hope to pass. Not that it really matters for our trip, but I don’t want you all to be depressed over the scores while we’re camping.”

Eventually our conversation fizzles out, and the four of us get back to studying. Miki seems more into it than ever, but I can’t bring myself to have the same drive. Even as I force feed my brain with problems, formulas, and calculations, it eventually goes back to her. It goes back to Miki and all the confusion that surrounds her. I’m probably just being overly dramatic, but it’s hard not to when I’m smacked over the head with a revelation like that. No matter what explanation I’m given, I’m just more confused. All of the implications are especially confusing. If she didn’t tell Haru about her accident, why would she tell me? Because we’re close? We’re closer in three days then Haru and her have been in a year? Why the rejection then? Was I just friendzoned? Then why did she reject all the other people from before? Were they all friendzoned too?

Screw it, I’m tired of these stupid mental gymnastics going on in my head right now. If I want an answer, then I’m just going to ask her.

After an hour or so passes, Haru decides it’s time to kick the rest of us out of his room. As Suzu, Miki, and I walk out, he quickly shuts the door behind us. Suzu waves goodbye as she skips down the hall. Miki moves to follow her, but I stop her with a quick tap on her shoulder.

She looks at me with a tilt of her head. “What’s up?” she asks nonchalantly.

“Does he know?” I ask, getting straight to the point.

Miki squints her eyes, chuckling a bit at the vague question. “You gotta give me a bit more context for that if you want an answer.”

“About the hiking accident,” I reply. Her eyes widen as he expression changes to shock. Miki looks at the door to Haru’s room, gently pulling me by my sleeve with her hand as she walks away from it. After about ten or so feet, she speaks up.

“No… He doesn’t.”

There’s that. Fine. Though it does produce another question. “Why haven’t you told him?”

“Why would I tell him?” Miki asks, raising a brow.

“You told me,” I retort, causing her to scoff.

“You’re you. Just cause I told you doesn’t mean I have to tell him.”

“You told me after three days. You’ve known Haru for way longer than that.”

Miki pauses, looking down at the floor for a moment before glaring at me. “That doesn’t matter. You were… You were opening up, so I just wanted to return the favor, that’s all. Why does it matter to you, anyway?”

That’s her answer. I guess it makes sense, but if it’s such a big deal as to not tell your best friend, I fail to see how she’d be a-okay with telling me just because I gave her a sob story. “It matters because you were obviously upset when Haru brought up the camping trip.”

“Whoa,” Miki says, holding her hand up. “Who said I was upset? I wasn’t, and it sure as hell wasn’t obvious either. Don’t just assume that.”

“Miki… You were completely out of it. Even when he asked you if you were down to go you were hesitant.”

“So what?” Miki asks, as her tone raises. “That doesn’t mean anything, Hisao.”

“Really? It doesn’t?”

“It doesn’t,” Miki states with a scowl. “Now can you stop being an ass about it?”

“I’m not being an ass about it, Miki,” I say with more volume to my voice. “I’m just trying to help!”

“Why do you care, Hisao? You’re not my fucking boyfriend, so just get off my case.

A twinge of pain comes from my heart. Not from the stupid condition that put me in this situation in the first place, but from the words she says. They honestly cut me a lot deeper than I was expecting, however true they might be. Her expression, building up in anger, now bears the eyes of regret. “Look… I know you’re trying to be helpful or whatever, but I know my own feelings better than you can, okay? I’m sorry…”

Well… She has a point there. That being said, she still seems hesitant. It’s just hard to tell is all. It’s so obvious she’s got some problems, but no matter how much I try to get through to her, she closes herself off. And now I look like a pushy jerk in this situation. I probably was being one. I don’t know. What I do know is that I can’t help but be a bit concerned. She’s become so closed off all of a sudden. Maybe that’s how she always was? Back at the track meet she didn’t even so much as acknowledge the fact that she had that conversation with her mom, let alone admit how stilted and awkward it was. I’m willing to bet Haru doesn’t know much about that situation either. Nobody does other than her, and that fact can’t help but bother me.

“Right,” I mutter with a sigh of my own. “You’re right. I’m being too nosy, I can admit. Sorry. But I… Look, I’m not your boyfriend, but I am your friend. So I want to help you in whatever way I can. I’m not going to force you to tell me about anything that’s going on up there in your mind, or anything that’s happening. That being said, if you want to come to me to talk… Well, then, you can.”

Silence. It feels thick. Having her gaze at me with her light brown eyes makes the situation even more uncomfortable. They’re like beautiful, dark pearls, but ones with a small crack in them. One that can’t be seen with the naked eye. One that you see only after staring at them for so long. An imperfection.

Miki slowly nods. “Maybe,” she mutters as she twists a piece of her hair around a finger. “Just… Just not today, is all. Thanks for the offer, though.”

I nod in response, not sure what I would even want to say if given the chance. She flashes me a quick smile as she walks off down the hall. Without much left to do I just head back to my room and call it for the night. I have a lot to think about anyway.
Last edited by PabloPabloPablo on Sat Jan 09, 2021 4:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
I'm too young to have ever used forums before.

Currently working on Flowers Before the Fireflies: a Miki Pseudo-route

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Razoredge
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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 12/10/19)

Post by Razoredge » Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:56 pm

Welcome back Pablo. You don't have to justify yourself, everyone has their own problems, and it can impact their writing. So, don't feel bad about it, it's still good to see people come back to the forum. I really liked your chapter, especially the last part. The fact that Hisao wants to be kind with Miki and it turns against him was a good idea. I really like your writing style, and a route with Miki is always a pleasure for me. This was a good chapter, I liked it, and I'll follow the next chapters with great interest.
Lilly = Akira > Miki = Hanako > Emi > Rin > Shizune

Stuff I'm currently writing : Beyond the haze : A Lilly Satou pseudo-route, Lullaby of an open heart : A Saki pseudo-route & Sakura Blossom : A way with Hisao

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Re: Flowers Before the Fireflies - A Miki Pseudo-route (Updated 1/8/21)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Jan 09, 2021 11:42 am

...and I would feel bad to throw this one at them after a year of radio silence.
Just throw away, but it seems fine even without much editing this time :-)

Nice build up to the twist and nice aftermath as well. One of the best chapters so far I'd say.

Glad to see this story continue, and I hope you find the time/motivation to finish it.
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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