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

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

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 Thu Dec 12, 2019 4:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Currently working on Flowers Before the Fireflies: a Miki Pseudo-route

Hanako Fancopter
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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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