The following post was written in response to Stiles Long's writing contest. Each participant was given a list of KS character pairings and a list of locations. One of each was chosen for this fic.
There were a limited set of options available to participants in the contest and it may be that this fic resembles others. Any such resemblance is coincidental.
My prompts are at the end of the story.
Some Other Beginning’s End
Akira and I arrived at our uncle’s home in Saitama shortly after lunch. My understanding was that he graciously allowed us to stay overnight so that we would be closer to the airport for our flight tomorrow. My uncle Jigoro and I frequently disagree, but he is family and, if nothing else, a welcoming host.
After unpacking our overnight bags, we settled down in the living room to catch up. After all, it had been a long time since I’d last had the opportunity to talk with Akira in private.
Sadly our conversation was broken by the sound of the door opening in front of me. I paused to listen to whom it might be. I needn’t have done so, as she immediately made her presence known.
“Wahaha~!” Misha laughed. “Look Shicchan! Lilly and her sister are here! Hi Akira! Hi Lilly! I thought we’d be alone this week.”
“Yo.” Akira replied. “Don’t worry about us. We’ll be out of your hair tomorrow.”
I add, “I didn’t expect that you would arrive so early.” And I didn’t. I was certain that their train would arrive in a few hours. Perhaps they took an earlier one?
Before my cousin could reply I heard the door behind them open and close again. I assume Hideaki has joined us. Then I heard Shizune’s translated reply. “Shicchan says: I should have rearranged my entire schedule just for you~!”
I smiled as I replied, “That would have been nice, but I would not expect you to do such a thing.” Again, also true. I’ve never known her to even consider putting other people’s needs before her own. Why should she start today?
My sister interjected, obviously trying to keep the peace. “Both of you, just stop. Even today of all days, the two of you can’t have a civil conversation. Shizune, Misha, how was your trip?”
“It went well. We decided to leave early, since we could rest on the train. Well, at least you were able to Shicchan! I needed to make sure we wouldn’t sleep past our stop.” Misha yawned, apparently for dramatic effect.
I giggled softly as the phone in the corner of the room started to ring. My earlier suspicion was confirmed when, after one ring, I heard Hideaki answer it. “Hakamichi residence,” he stated in his dry voice. After a few seconds, he said, “No, but I can get someone. Just a moment please.”
A moment later I heard my sister walk over to him and she said, “This is Satou.” After a quick moment, she answered again, the tone of her voice lowering slightly, “No, I’m his niece. What is this about?”
The room fell into silence, broken again when Akira asked, “I see. Which one?” Another pause, then she said, “Okay. We’ll be there soon. Thank you for your call.” And the phone was placed back on its receiver.
“Uncle Jigoro is in the hospital. Apparently he’s had a heart attack.”
“He’s resting in here.” The ER nurse opened a curtain. The nurse was shorter than me, but judging from her voice, much older. There was a monitor emitting a steady beeping sound, presumably indicating my uncle’s heart rhythm. Then I heard the ER nurse leave, closing the curtain behind her.
Akira remained beside me while I heard my cousins move towards his side. She leaned towards me and whispered, “Will you be okay here for a sec?”
“Of course,” I replied, holding my cane at rest. I heard Akira walk back into the ER, moving swiftly past the curtain. I could hear her discussing something with the nurse outside, but with all the activity going on, I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Although judging from the relative silence in front of me and the activity going on behind me, it seemed that my uncle was unconscious.
That silence was broken by the curtain being thrown open and Misha’s voice calling out, “So this is where you guys are. Akira’s just outside! Oh … Shicchan’s dad.” Her voice seemed to cut out suddenly. I heard her rush towards Shizune as I searched for the edge of the curtain.
I could hear Misha wrap up Shizune in a hug that, judging from the sound Misha made, seemed very tight. I slowly closed the curtain. My uncle’s heart monitor kept beeping steadily, and it was that steadiness that I took solace in. Eventually I heard Akira re-enter.
She said, “The nurse just finished bringing me up to speed. He’s doing okay; they think he had a mild heart attack and he’ll hopefully come around soon.”
Misha asked, “Shicchan wants to know how soon. Do they know?”
“Nah,” Akira replied, “Every case is somewhat unique. But he’s young and in good shape. So they’re hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery.”
Misha’s voice seemed to intensify, “I know! Let’s go and get him a present. Something that’ll make him feel better when he wakes up! Wait … what was that, Shicchan? You’re staying right here?”
“I’m staying too, “ added Hideaki dryly. “When he wakes up I’ll make sure he sees me first.”
Akira says, “That sounds like a good idea. But I can’t join you. There’s some paperwork that they need me to verify. And I need to bring dad up to speed. I think he should be waking up soon.”
Already I know where this is going. To be honest, I think I’d prefer Misha’s company to waiting in this noisy ER. I asked, “Why don’t I accompany you, Misha?”
Misha squealed with delight, grabbed my arm and practically dragged me out of my uncle’s room.
“Wait! Stop!” I called out as she let me go. “Misha, I do not appreciate being dragged around.”
“Sorry, sorry,” came her immediate reply. “It’s just … nevermind. Let’s head over to the gift shop. I’m sure they’ve got some flowers that’ll cheer Shicchan’s dad right up!”
I took a moment to compose myself before replying. “Misha, while that’s a nice gesture, I doubt my uncle would appreciate it.”
“How come?” Misha asked as she took my arm. “Shicchan’s dad is always wearing bright, flowery shirts.”
“That may be so, “ I replied, “But that does not mean that he would appreciate a bouquet or a vase at his bedside. My uncle has … specific tastes. He is a more practical person.”
“So … not the gift shop?”
“Not the gift shop.”
“Well,” Misha began again. “We passed a nice looking shopping mall on the way here. I think it’s only a kilometer or two away.”
“That sounds interesting,” I said. “And hopefully it will be quieter than this hospital. Please lead the way.”
The two of us didn’t say anything until we were well outside the hospital. The weather had cooled somewhat, although it was still very much a summer’s heat. It was Misha that broke the silence of our walk.
“So, you and Akira are really leaving?”
“We are.” Then I added, “Although I can imagine that my uncle’s … condition … might delay our departure. My father and uncle have very different outlooks on life and business. But, he is still family. I doubt my father would want us to leave when things are in such disarray.”
“Yeah. I’ve never seen Shicchan look so sad.”
“That is to be expected,” I added, perhaps a bit too coldly. “But uncle Jigoro is a strong man. Akira mentioned that he will most likely make a full recovery, and I share that sentiment. I suspect that Shizune does also.”
“Yeah …” Misha’s voice trailed off. “But it’s still so sad.”
“Once he wakes up, I’m sure everyone’s spirits will rise.”
“Not everyone’s,” Misha said. “You and Akira are still going to be leaving.”
“Yes.” I said, “It may not be as planned, but Akira and I will reunite with our family in Scotland.”
“What about your other friends?” she asked. “What about Hanako?”
I took my time before I answered her question, “It is bittersweet, but inevitable. Whether now or after graduation, our paths are destined to diverge. I will study to become an English teacher. Hanako will ... pursue her own ambitions. I know that Hanako will do well. She is stronger than she seems to be.”
I winced as Misha laughed, “Wahaha~! I’ve never heard anyone describe Hanako as strong.”
“Nevertheless, I believe her to be so. Her strength is difficult to perceive. Some people, like my uncle, are strong like a raging storm. Their winds knock over what opposes them. Other people, like my own father, are strong like steel. Their rigidity allows the construction of tall buildings that form great cities.”
I turned my head to face Misha as we continued walking, “Hanako is not strong in those ways. She is strong like a willow tree. A storm strong enough to destroy a building may damage a willow tree. But once the storm has ended, as all storms must, the tree survives. The steel building, once knocked over by the storm, will never stand again. The willow tree outlasts both storm and steel.”
I pause to once again face forward, trying to hold my head high even though my voice slightly wavers. “That is how I know Hanako will do well without me.”
“You miss her already, don’t you?”
I take a breath before replying, “I do.”
We walked together in silence for a while. I’m genuinely unsure how to proceed, so I’m relieved when Misha said, “I think I’m going to miss Shicchan too.”
I turn my head to face her, softly asking, “Are you still planning on studying abroad?”
She answered, “If I can get my grades up. Mutou found a couple of good schools in America that I could apply to. I’m working really~ hard! But … “
“Yeah,” Misha replied. “I mean, there are lots of schools here~ I could go to. It’s just … I feel I should be able to study in America. I know if Shicchan wanted to do it, she would. So I want to be like her.”
“Just … don’t be too much like her. Regardless, I wish you all my best. I’m sure you will succeed.”
“Thanks~ Lilly!” Misha stopped walking, and I awkwardly stopped beside her. “Don’t tell Shicchan about … well … any of this.”
I couldn’t help but giggle at her bizarre request. I composed myself quickly and then replied, “Of course. She won’t hear it from me.”
This time it was Misha that couldn’t stop herself from giggling. “Right! Right~! Okay then!” She resumed walking, and I matched her pace. “I mean it though Lilly. I know you’ll be sending everyone emails when you’re in Scotland. Don’t even send Shicchan an email about it. Or me.”
“You needn’t worry. I don’t think I will. When I started at Yamaku, my parents bought me a computer with a screen reader. I hated it. Even when it was as quiet as possible, when I used the computer I felt like I was being yelled at by an impatient robot. I’d rather just not use one.”
“Wait … so you aren’t~ even going to email Hanako?”
“Akira has Hanako’s email address. But I’d prefer not to inconvenience my sister more than necessary.”
"That’s no good Lilly. No good at all. You’ve got to keep in touch with your friends. It’d be just too sad if you don’t."
I sighed. “There isn’t much more I can do Misha. I can’t send an email message without using a computer, and I can’t really use one.”
Her swift reply was unusually energetic. “But you can’t give up! There’s too much at stake. Shicchan would never give up that easily. So I won’t let you either!”
“Misha, please,” I replied as calmly as I could. “I am not giving up on communicating with my friends. I still plan on calling when I can. And I’m sure Akira would be willing to use the computer for me on occasion.”
“Not good enough, Lilly.”
“It will have to be, because no other alternative exists. I suggest we focus our attention on the matter at hand; our shopping trip for my uncle’s present. Are we getting close to the mall?”
“Yes, yes!” Misha replied cheerfully. “We’re almost there. I can see an electronics store from here.”
“Why don’t we start there?” I suggested. “After all, boys love their toys.”
Misha giggled, “They sure do!”
“Unbelievable!” Jigoro shouted into his new voice recorder. “My niece and the pink-haired girl managed to almost live up to my expectations by finding and giving me this new voice recorder. Now I can narrate my auto-biography while my flesh and blood children stand around being disappointments. Typical.”
“Shizune and I were just concerned about you”, Hideaki said, his normally flat voice betraying some small amount of resentment.
“Nonsense!” my uncle replied. “No one has ever achieved anything of importance by just waiting around. That reminds me; where is my doctor? He needs to start the discharge paperwork so I can get out of here.”
“He briefed me while you were unconscious,” Akira answered. “Heart attack patients typically remain in the hospital for three to five days.”
“That’s for normal people. I’ll be home in two! Just call my secretary and have her rearrange my schedule.”
“Of course Uncle,” Akira replied. “Would you like me to make arrangements for Lilly and I to remain in Japan while you’re hospitalized?”
“Yes! Of course!” my uncle loudly replied, “You’ll be assisting me until the doctors here realize they’re wasting their resources by keeping a healthy man in one of their beds.”
“I’ll start making phone calls. Until tomorrow?”
“Yes. Go! Get out of here, Akira! Don’t end up being lazy like my own children.”
“You heard the man. Let’s go.”
Akira took me by the arm and led us out of the cardiac care unit. I heard my uncle say, “Two days lying on my back? At least I’ll finish my auto-biography using this thing.”
Once we were a few steps away, Akira asked me, “What else did the two of you buy?”
I answered, “Misha told me that this model of recorder can convert text to speech, so I bought one for myself. Hopefully it will make keeping in touch with Hanako easier. If nothing else, she can listen to my messages.”
“That would work. I’ll have to take a look when we’re back at our uncle’s place. We might even be able to test it before we leave.”
I turned to face her as we walked towards the elevator. “So we’ll be staying for a few more days?”
“Father thinks that’s best.”
“I guess that means that you’ll be spending more time with our uncle while he recovers. I hope you’ll manage.”
Akira giggled, “Don’t worry about me. Enjoy spending summer break with your cousins.”
My chosen prompts: Misha and Lilly, Medical Emergency