Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

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Tetrax333
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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by Tetrax333 » Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:24 pm

Procrastinated Really hard so my post got pushed a few days late.

I tried my best and I hope you all enjoy this, especially you Brythain.
Victim: brythain
Prompt: dramatic performance in winter, with the theme of shadow-play

AN UNSEEN PLAY

The story of Ramayana.

A five thousand years old epic originates from India that tells the story of the brave hero Rama and his journey to save his soon to be wife Sita. It is a story that has been told through many forms and has countless iterations over millennia. It is truly a story that defines not just India, but many other cultures who adopted the Hindu faith, some experts even suggest that this story and the Mahabarata may very well be the reason why the Hindu faith is still so strong in the region.

This iteration is a story told through the medium of shadow puppetry, known as Wayang, that is popular in the Java region of Indonesia. It tells its story through the puppets as well as the beautiful and traditional gamelan instruments that are accompanied by a team of traditional singers known as the sinden.

You are welcome to enjoy this beautiful traditional performance at this year’s Asian Culture Festival. The performance will be held on Saturday night at 19:00 PM at the-

I raise my finger from the brochure to stop reading the braille text that details the location and time of the performance. Since I’m already inside the theater where it’s going to take place, reading further would simply be a wasted effort.

As I’m waiting for the performance to start, I can hear the voices of the crowd around me gets louder and more numerous, a clear sign that the show is about to begin.

As I begin to relax in my seat, a warm and smooth object which, I’m guessing is a plastic cup suddenly touches my cheek, surprising me a little. I flinch, moving my face ever so slightly away from it.

“Whoops, sorry, was it still too hot?” The familiar voice of Hisao speaks up.

I simply smile in response to his apology, “No, I was just surprised since I didn’t hear your footsteps since it is getting rather crowded here. What took you so long by the way?”

“There was a long line at the buffet table, including the drinks. Not to mention that the staff forgot to actually heat up the damn thing, so I have to wait around for that,” His tone is devoid of any signs of frustration, and he even lets out a small laugh after explaining it to me.

“I would think that going through such an ordeal would cause you some frustrations Hisao, but you seem as chipper as you were this morning."

“Well... ” his words trail off momentarily as he takes a seat next to me, “It’s hard not to when it’s our first anniversary you know? I don’t want to sour the mood just because of a long queue.”

As if responding to his words, I run a finger across the outside of the ring, feeling the slight dimples on the ring. When I first noticed it, I thought it was a flaw in the ring but Hisao told me to feel it again and that's when I recognized the inverted Braille that had been carved into the cold metal. The dimples are still relatively new and legible, but I suppose that someday, they be won’t be.

But, I won't forget their heart-felt message: L&H 2018

I remember when were buying this, Hisao wanted to get us a fancier wedding ring that’s made out of gold or silver at first. But I convinced him, and also my parents, to get something simpler instead. Tungsten, to be more specific.

When my parents asked me why I wanted a simple ring, the main reasoning I gave them was purely economic. Gold wedding rings cost almost ten times as much as a tungsten one, and that money can be better allocated elsewhere. At least, that was my excuse for it.

It wasn’t just an excuse, but it wasn’t the full truth either. We had the money to spare, and my parents are more than willing to chip in even if we don’t. But I mainly wanted to keep them away from the decision making for our wedding, at least, for that part of it. I wanted it to be about us, about me and Hisao and no one else.

Although they did still pay for a large amount of the reception.

“How thoughtful of you. Can I have my tea, please?” I ask while outstretching a hand.

“Oh right, it’s still kind of hot, so be careful,” he warns me as he moves the plastic cup so that it touches my open hand.

I grab the tea and notices that it really isn’t that hot. The entire theater building is quite cold, so maybe it just cooled down after being in his hand for so long?

Well, it doesn’t matter, I suppose, so long as the tea is good. I take a sip to test the flavor and find myself very disappointed in the taste. It’s basically just a very mediocre tea with some sugar in it.

“This is pretty shit tea,” I curse quietly, but making sure it’s just loud enough so that Hisao can hear.

He lets out an exaggerated gasp and responds in an equally fake way, “Honey, mind your language!”

Considering that I would often warn him about proper language use to him, It’s quite obvious that he’s making fun of me with that little sarcastic remark of his. I simply smile in response to his little joke, appreciating our brief moment of playful banter.

“Oh, Hisao dear, what time is-” my question is suddenly cut short by the sound of music.

The music starts out slow and quiet, with only a few instruments starting the piece. As it reverberates through my ear, I begin to try and understand what I’m hearing and what type of instrument could make this sound, which is proving rather difficult.

It’s hard to describe since it sounds so unfamiliar with any type of music I’ve listened to. The closest thing that I can think of that sounds somewhat familiar would be those improvisational metal instruments that’s made out of steel drums, except this is a much more refined version of that.

“Hisao, is the instrument made out of metal?” I ask.

“Well, I can’t actually see the instrument since it’s covered by a semi-transparent curtain. So I can only see the shadow of the puppets,” he explains.

“That’s unfortunate.”

“But, I can see the shadow of the puppets and they look really elaborate.”

“How so?”

“Well, normally when you see a shadow of an object, it just looks like one big lump, as in... just try just imagining an object or a shape in your head and you’re probably not far off.”

As per his suggestion, I try imagining a human-shaped doll in my head. I can imagine the overall shape and perhaps even the more intricate things like its facial features and the shape and texture of the hair, but nothing beyond that.

“I’m guessing that you want me to imagine the silhouette of a person, right? If that’s the case then I think you should know the imagery that’s popping into my head perfectly well by this point.”

“Well not perfectly, but I can figure it out more or less,” as he says so, his seat makes a slight creaking sound, indicating that he’s standing up to get a better view, “the projection of the puppets on the screen is actually not just black, in fact, you can see the patterns of their clothes and even the details on the face.”

“Is that so? It sounds very pretty to look at. I guess it’s too bad that I can’t see them,” I joke with a fake disgruntled tone.

Well, I suppose it’s not entirely a joke. As comfortable as I am with my blindness, not being able to see things that have been described to me as beautiful still somewhat bothers me to a certain extent. I’ve learned to mainly ignore this feeling by enjoying other things about the world like sound and small, but it still gets to me from time to time. But, I should be grateful for what I have I suppose, not many have the opportunities I have in life.

Hisao lets out a small laugh as I hear him sitting back down in his seat, “Well I’ll give you play by play for the entire thing, so don’t worry about that.”

“How sweet of you, dear.”

“It’s my pleasure, honey,”

I begin to relax in my seat while enjoying the music. I feel around the right armrest of my seat to find Hisao’s hand and holds it in mine when I find it.

As the music comes to a stop, a man speaks up, announcing that the play is about to begin.

_______________________________________________________________

And thus the play ended. I get up from my seat and hold Hisao’s arm as we walk out of the theater together.

“So, what do you think?” he asks.

I let out a quiet hum, recalling the play and the story that takes place.

The show started with the puppetmaster speaking in a theatrical manner. He told us the premise of the story, about the warrior prince named Rama who won a tournament to wed the princess named Sinta.
The two got married shortly after, but it is then revealed that Sinta is actually a descendant of a goddess, and thus many forces want to take her for themselves.

The main meat of the story, from what I can gather anyway, is mainly about Rama rescuing Sinta from the clutches of a man named Rahwana and his eventual success in rescuing her, ending it off in a nice “happily ever after” ending.

To be perfectly honest, it’s a pretty... shallow story. I understand it’s historical significance, but it really is just a classic hero rescuing the damsel in distress story. Another thing is that the story’s pacing feels way too fast, which is understandable considering that, if I remember correctly, the Ramayana itself is a book-sized epic and this show condensed it all in just an hour.

But despite all that, I actually really enjoyed it. The story itself is nothing amazing, but the live music performance was simply phenomenal and the women who sang the songs were a joy to listen to.
And from what I can tell, Hisao enjoyed the show greatly as well.

He would try his best to describe every scene to me to the best of his abilities. Things like, what each characters look like and what they’re wearing, the different props that the puppetmaster would pull out and even how the puppets move, and he would also excitedly describe the action scenes whenever there was one. Although... he mainly described the fights as being two puppets smashing into one another, which sounds rather boring, to be perfectly honest.

I wasn’t able to enjoy the spectacle of course, but I did greatly enjoy listening to him describe it for me. It’s an act I greatly appreciate out of him.

Even though I know it’s difficult for him to describe the play for me and even though he knows that he can’t communicate perfectly the things that he sees to me, he still does it anyway. It seems small, and perhaps even he thinks that it’s a small and insignificant thing, but I wholly disagree.

I remember the times when he stumbled constantly, always trying to be sensitive about my blindness around me.

I remember the days where he would be utterly confused about how to describe things to me in a way that I would understand.

Now those days are in the past. Precious memories from our teenage years to remind us about how much we’ve grown accustomed to one another.

“It was wonderful, but the story was a bit bland in my opinion,” I answer with a little smirk.

“Is that so? I think it was a nice story, but maybe it was just because I enjoying the puppetry so much.”

“I’m sure it was wonderful to see.”

“It really was. I wish you could’ve seen it, I think it’s something you’ll really love,” his words comes out soft and quiet, tinged with a hint of sadness.

Even as the years go by, some things will remain the same, I suppose. Even though I told him many times that it doesn’t bother me, he will always be like this, constantly worrying and wanting me to see the sights that the world has to offer. Not out of pity, but because he cares.

I stop in my tracks and let go of my grip on his arm. I turn towards him and move my right hand to his cheek, feeling his face and enjoying his warmth. As I hold him, I move my face closer to him and give him a small kiss.

“That’s not something you should be concerned about dear, we don’t want to sour the mood during our anniversary right?” I give him a smile as I comfort him.

He lets out a giggle before speaking again, “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

I grab his arm before we begin walking towards the exit of the building once again.

A sudden change in temperature informs me that we are now outside. I stop walking to breathe the cold night air, and my mind begins to wonder about our lives together.

I’m no princess and Hisao is no prince, just two normal couple celebrating their first anniversary together. Our relationship isn’t perfect, and it could’ve ended so much earlier in our life. But it didn’t, and that’s something I will always be grateful for.

It doesn’t have to be an exciting journey, full of thrills and adventure. Life isn’t some fairytale or some epic like that show we just watched after all.

Perhaps our lives will forever be normal and mundane. And that’s fine. That’s perfectly fine.

I tighten my grip around my husband’s arm and ask him, “Shall we head home?”
Late to the party. But having fun in it.
Ongoing Project Falling Up and Down

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brythain
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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by brythain » Sat Dec 28, 2019 1:25 pm

Tetrax333 wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:24 pm
I tried my best and I hope you all enjoy this, especially you Brythain.
Hey, Tetrax... the Mahabharata and Ramayana were two of the earliest epics my father fed me when I was a kid. This has unexpected resonance, and I enjoyed it very much because of that. What a strange and wonderful juxtaposition—my favourite L/H combination and a blast from my past! Also, tungsten where I'd chosen ruthenium in AtD. Thanks very much!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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brythain
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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by brythain » Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:21 pm

This one is for PKMNthiefChris, with warm wishes for many great Christmases to come!

Winterhome

Thanks to Prof_Allister for setting up our annual event, and Mirage_GSM for hosting this! Merry Christmas, everyone!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Solistor
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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by Solistor » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:46 pm

All these entries were positively fantastic, and it really warms my stony heart to see so many familiar faces still writing here, even after five years and counting. It almost feels like a time bubble, as though I never left.

Merry christmas and happy holidays, all you glorious bastards.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:50 pm

Nice story.
One thing that I found strange was that the theatre troupe went to the trouble of printing flyers in braille but not providing an option for audio commentary. I'd hate to be the one sitting next to those two :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
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Tetrax333
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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by Tetrax333 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:25 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:50 pm
Nice story.
One thing that I found strange was that the theatre troupe went to the trouble of printing flyers in braille but not providing an option for audio commentary. I'd hate to be the one sitting next to those two :-)
Yeah... I kinda had to trim up a lot of the details about the play itself since it got really long. But let's just say that I actually sat through a two-hour play of the wayang play blindfolded and actually understood the stuff that happened, but I just can't exactly imagine the scenery and the action involved, so that's where I focused on. Thank you for the reply man.
Late to the party. But having fun in it.
Ongoing Project Falling Up and Down

NuclearStudent
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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by NuclearStudent » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:37 pm

Victim: KSFFWriter
Prompt: Misha learns something about herself
Note: I'm sorry. I did the best I could.

Hothouse

Glass shatters and slices my feet. I feel blood trickle out from shards in my toes, and I instinctively step back. A cut bites into into my heel and I fall over backwards. I flail upwards and spin my head around. I am in my kitchen. I am alone. I look down at myself. A jagged sliver of glass larger than my palm has cut into my foot, cutting it right open. I hold my breath, reach down, and pull it out. I see and feel the blood run.

I fling the glass away and squeeze down. A pulseless run of blood wets my fingers. It is not so bad, it is not so bad, it is not so bad. I sit stock still, not daring to stop to bandage it, just holding it in place. Am I doing the right thing? I can’t have lost that much blood, have I?

What was I doing? How did this happens? Did I drop my cup and step on it? That doesn’t seem possible. Shouldn’t have driven the glass into my feet like that. I look up at my ceiling. No way that anything could have fallen from there. It’s blank wood paneling, with nothing that could possibly be hQidden on its flat surface. So I must have dropped it. I must have dropped it.

Did I? I don’t remember picking up a cup. The cupboard is open, but I don’t remember taking anything out. Who threw it at me? I shiver and look around, but I know that all the exits are locked. I’ve checked them myself, secured the deadbolt, duct-taped everything extra shut just in case. Dragged the furniture in front of the doors, risking that the sound might alert him.

If he’s waiting. I don’t think he can be. A vision of Saki’s father suddenly looms from around the corner and his black eyes bear down at me. He’s not real, this one isn’t real, I’m not scared. He disappears. He will reappear. It’s alright, I’m used to this, I just haven’t slept in a while, I know it isn’t real, I know he isn’t real. I’m used to this. I know I can get through this. The blood is trickling through my fingers more slowly, more slowly, more slowly. I try to close my eyes. My own breathing scares me into opening them again.

If you’re listening, and I think you can hear me, I’ll think to you what happened. I’ve always been a loud thinker, though I never knew it. You don’t know these things until someone tells you. I saw Saki’s father for the first time before last summer when he was prowling around school, searching for the teachers. Saki hobbled behind When I ran into him and asked him to please check himself into the office, he grabbed onto the front of my shirt and told me to shut up with how loud my thinking was.

I saw him again at night last week, him prowling with hunter’s energy, searching and searching for a what I didn’t know. Black-grey reaper. Stupid me, pink-haired idiot me, I ran up to him and got his attention. I asked him to check in with the school office. Pretty please. He stared down at me. His lips didn’t move. I just kept trying to smile, you know, just trying to avoid letting my friends down. It’s my job to tell people things, and I guess it was his job too. I laughed my little wahaha and he leaned in and said that he’d be back later. His eyes burned into mine and I couldn’t blink.

So it was alright, alright, when he backed off. He waited for me to leave first. I didn’t want to turn my back on him because it felt like he’d run after me and grab me if I did. I blabbled, just regular nonsense small-chat blabbling, talking ada and dada as I backed off and off. Then I threw myself into the school building, slammed the school shut, and ran for it to get deeper inside.

I’ve always been a loud thinker. He could hear me the entire time, hear where I ran, hear that I’d gone back to my dorm. I don’t know if he can hear me right now. I know that he can hear you. He dragged me off when I was sleeping. I woke up in his car. I was in the back. Rumbling around me. Light from the narrowest crack in front of me. Hands tied, mouth gagged. I could hear him think.

He came out after I’d had the longest ride. He opened the trunk and I shook my head. He didn’t hit me. He pulled down my pants and I braced for the worst but he only cut me. Two shallow cross-cuts, one on each thigh. Hot slice, hurt, bled, blood running down. But fine. Maybe fine. He dropped his bloody razor blade, threw me up onto his back and carried me away. Almost all of me away. I didn’t realized until later that he’d already cut off the middle finger on my left hand. It didn’t hurt. It still doesn’t. I barely feel the gap, don’t notice much of anything. Only when I look down at it do I see.

Hung up on his back I was. He thought to me what he was doing. I understood. I understood. I just needed to learn, listen, and follow. That was all. Simple lessons so I could do simple jobs. Don’t ask questions I don’t want to have answered, don’t learn things I don’t need to know, don’t question any of it. Alright. Alright alright. He dumped me inside a small square room and sung one high, clear note. He

Then he spoke again. We will begin the New World Symphony, by Dvorak, he intoned. Repeat what I said, Misha. He nodded sharply at me. So I tried to copy him. We will begin the New World Symphony, by Dorvak, I said. He grabbed me. He didn’t hit me. He gripped my left hand firmly and used his other hand to bring out a knife from a pocket. He blew on it, and it turned hot, glowing hot. I noticed that I was missing my middle finger right when he sliced through the rest and turned them into stubs.

He explained that I’d said my words wrong, and he made me say it right. I got it, I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t. It’s almost funny, haha, get Misha to pronounce the funny words she could never pronounce. Misha is dumb. Misha can’t say anything. Misha is alive. Misha was alive.

He asked me to cut my wrist and draw a few things on the floor in blood. He handed me another razor blade. I looked at him, and then I looked at his knife. I said okay, and then I drew a few things for him. It didn’t take too much blood. It was fine. I could do that part. He left the room. I didn’t dare stop drawing. He came back in with Saki in his arms and put her down gently. He asked me to get up and fetch her cane from a corner, and I saw her cane, and then I went and got it.

Said he didn’t ask for a disabled daughter. He took the cane, took his knife, and spat fire on them both. Ash rose. But he loved his daughter. He loved Saki and would see her walk fearlessly again. A transference. Fear for fear, ability for ability. He clicked his tongue. I understood. I picked up the bloody razor blade.

Open up your wrist.

He held the glass cup underneath. I stared at him. I pricked myself a bit. A few drops of blood fell o He tapped the side of the cup immediately. I cut myself again, going deeper and wider than I meant to, and I watched in horror as the bottom of the cup filled and filled and filled. He grabbed my hand, stopping me from holding onto the wound. The blade cut into his arm. He didn’t care. It just kept dripping until he finally nodded in satisfaction.

Good. Now open up your throat.

He looked at me again and I knew what would happen if I did nothing. But even knowing what would happen to me if I didn’t, I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. I want to live, everybody wants to live. Even if you want to die, you find that you still want to live when the razor blade is at your own throat. I kept shivering and he walked slowly back towards me. I couldn’t do it. I heard his thoughts very clearly but I couldn’t do it to myself anyway.

Cup and room. How long have I been here? I think it wasn’t so bad. He let me go. I thought it wasn’t so bad. There are many rooms and this one is mine. It’s been a few days. I don’t remember exactly where I am. I don’t hear him so loud here. Cup and room. I was going to fill my cup. There is blood on the shards, but only because I dropped it, not because I filled it properly.

Where am I? I didn’t cut myself properly. Where did he send me? I hear him thinking clearly now. He stands tall in the corner, brown suit neat, suspended above the floor by a rope. He blinks at me. Simple lessons. I need do a few things. I’m alright alright alright. It’s not so bad. You can hear me think. I’ll be wearing a suit myself any day now. He was always in the room, wasn’t he?

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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by PsychicSpy » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:26 pm

Not going to hold you, I've been waiting for this story to be posted.

This is probably the best story from you Nuke. The discord had a conversation about attributing things to authors outside their intent if they don't state it.

So I'd say the thing that this story draws me because I can't tell if what's happening is real or not. Also, it is an interesting depiction of madness on the part of Misha, not being able to tell the line between real and fake.
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Re: Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection

Post by NoticeMeOppai » Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:39 pm

Here's my belated SX entry, really sorry it took so long to get it done for you Stiles! Hope you enjoy it, despite no longer really being the season for it. Thanks to Feurox for proofing for me.
Victim: Stiles Long
Prompt: Yamaku's Secret Santa accidentally misses a person, leaving them bereft of presents! Without resorting to sex, who makes up for this loss and how?
A Festive Flashback

"Wahaha!~~ I wonder who could have got you that Shicchan!" Misha boomed, her hands awkwardly trying to keep up as she signed to her new friend.

Shizune’s polite smile didn't reach her eyes as she placed her gift back in the box and put it by her feet. She looked over at the table everything had been piled on, [Yes. Well that seems to be the last present.] Out of the corner of her eye she could see Misha's long brown hair bouncing enthusiastically as she translated for those who didn't understand sign.

It hadn't been long since the brunette had started trying to translate for her, and she still struggled at times, mostly with speed and long amounts of signing. Shizune suspected sometimes her words weren't being translated exactly, but she had to admit it beat dragging a pad and pen around constantly.

Looking around the circle she noticed one girl sitting and awkwardly fidgeting next to Lily. Shizune was trying to remember what she had received, when she realised Misha was translating Lily's conversation with the girl. "-did you get from your Santa Hanako?"

"I uh, I d-didn't get, um." Hanako trailed off, her face nearly completely obscured by her hair. She was clearly unhappy about having this brought up and sank into her chair as if wanting to disappear. Hearing Misha translating her words, the parts of her face that were still visible went an even deeper shade of crimson and she hunched into herself as if for protection from the extra attention this brought her.

Shizune's eyes narrowed as she looked around the room for any signs of who might not have brought anything and still turned up to receive something. As she scanned the room she was already signing, [Who was supposed to get Hanako's gift?]

Everyone looked uncomfortably around at their fellow students, though none looked as uncomfortable as Hanako herself. Shizune's eyes finally came to rest on one of the boys from Lilly's class, quietly fidgeting with the hand-knitted red and yellow scarf he'd received.

For a moment he stared back defiantly through glasses so thick she couldn't be sure he could actually even see her. Suddenly he jumped to his feet and shouted something, gesticulating wildly the whole time. As abruptly as he'd jumped up he ran from the room, ranting and waving his arms around as he went.

Shizune turned to Misha who shrugged apologetically, [He was just shouting nonsense I think, something about feminist conspiracies?]

Shizune sighed and shook her head.

[As the organizers I feel we, the student council, are partly responsible, so how about we take you to the Shanghai for a meal as your gift?] she offered.

As soon as she had translated this, Misha followed along with her own suggestion, [Ooh, If you don't want that we could do this thing I heard about!~ It's called Yankee swap~, and everyone picks the gift they want so everyone is happy!~] she struggled over the finger spelling for the name, but Shizune had heard of it before. She wasn't sure that was exactly how it worked, but already Misha was translating ideas from other students as people started chipping in.

Without warning, Hanako went from cowering in her chair to bolt upright and dashed from the room. Misha shrugged again at Shizune's questioning gaze, [She, uh... Had to go do something?]

***

Hanako was sitting in the library reading when she finally noticed the dimming light as the sun started to dip outside the window. The library usually started closing around this time, so she should probably start to gather her things. She stretched, always surprised by how quickly a few hours could pass when she was immersed in her books.

As she went to stand she noticed a small parcel sat on the bookcase next to her, wrapped in crinkled newspaper with a purple ribbon around it. It definitely hadn't been there when she sat down, though she hadn't noticed anyone coming near her. She found this vaguely disconcerting, but had previously come out of her reading trance to notice people were sat near her that she hadn't noticed approach so it wasn't a new feeling.

Lifting it gently, she noticed a small label on the top which read "To Hanako, from Santa". She smiled softly to herself and put the parcel in her bag to open later. As she left the library there was a slight spring in her step that hadn't been there earlier in the day.
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