Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Hacksorus » Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:39 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:53 am
When reading this Secret Santa Submissions I always think about what I would have done if that prompt had reached me. Most of the time I feel thankful that it didn't :-)
This time I almost immediately had a picture in my mind of Hisao organizing a Christmas party with the Student Council and dragging Shizune along behind him for a change. :lol:
That sounds wonderful honestly. Do you take commissions? :lol:

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Silentcook » Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:15 am

Hacksorus wrote:
Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:39 pm
That sounds wonderful honestly. Do you take commissions? :lol:

Keep it to PMs, please.
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Hacksorus » Tue Feb 16, 2021 9:11 pm

Oh, sorry. I thought it was clear enough that I was joking. Will play it more safe in the future.

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The Last to Leave - SS20 for Downix

Post by Feurox » Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:10 pm

The Last to Leave

Empirically speaking, we are made of star stuff. Why aren’t we talking more about that?
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

The bell rings, and any interest I had managed to encourage in my class immediately dissipates. Chairs screech, and the chatter rises quickly as nearly everyone races for the door. Some of the slower-paced students pack up quietly, or finish their notes, but whatever momentum I had has well and truly vanished.

After a while that feeling gets a little less disappointing. If you want to be a good teacher, you have to learn to not take things so personally. Some kids just don’t care for physics, some just don’t care.

Maybe part of the job is that you’re supposed to make them care; maybe I used to see it that way too. Well, I don’t anymore. You’re either passionate, or you’re not, we waste too much time in our lives wasting time. That’s a valuable lesson you learn after you really needed it.

Life does that to you a lot, it teaches you a lot after you need it most. Maybe we’re all destined to grow older looking back with regret, looking back into a past that we half-imagined.

Still, there are a few things about the past I’m sure I didn’t imagine.

I slump back into my desk chair as the last of my class disappears into the hallway. It’s the end of the day, so most will be heading to club activities like band, or track. A few will be heading for the bus stop, or to their dorm rooms. There’s probably a fair number of students who rarely leave campus at all; I can think of a few in my class like that. I pull my sleeve up to check my watch, it looks like I have about thirty minutes to kill before I can leave.

The sensible part of me knows I should use this time to go over tomorrow’s lesson plans, but I just can’t seem to get into the mood. Instead, I reach into my bag and pull out a familiar, time-worn, book and open it around the middle mark. It’s been doodled on, flowers, sunbeams, snow-droplets… images from the window, the doodles of a child. I smile, and then I stop, and put it back.

I’m not in the mood for that either.

The empty time is the hardest. Not because you can’t fill it, but because you don’t want too. Or maybe because nothing can.


I turn to face the door. Yamaku’s resident nurse is standing with his hand on the frame like some heartthrob. He does that on purpose to be funny, and sometimes, I admit, it is.

“Giro, you’re early,” I say, and scoop the last of my things from the desk into my satchel. “I take it that means we’re ready to head home?”

He nods and stands up straight. His rucksack looks ridiculously threadbare, but from what I gather it’s because he takes his work home with him, and he has a lot of work.

He’s a little shorter than me, and about fifteen years younger, but he makes for a good pal. He offers me a can of coffee as we head out. It’s the crap from the vending machines but I’m not one to turn down a free drink.

“Busy day?” I ask over the gentle hiss of the can. He cracks his open and takes what can only be described as a glug.

“More paperwork than usual, you have a new student tomorrow, it appears.” We take the stairs together, but he skips a little fast for my liking.

“Yeah, maybe this one will be interested in my lectures.”

“Nah, this one will be the literature type,” he says. “Shall we make a bet?”

I consider it for a moment, but better judgements prevail.

“I’ve lost to you on less risky bets, I’m out.”

It would be nice to have another science type, like Molly Kapur, but it’s unlikely. For whatever reason, most of the kids we get are more of the artsy types, literature, music, that kind of thing. Maybe I’m not selling the sciences enough, or maybe people have a predisposition to be interested in certain fields that is only further brought about by the unique situations that lands them here. I’m probably overthinking it, and under-criticising my teaching style.

“One day I hope to sneak into one of your classes, I hear they’re exhilarating,” Giro teases, taking another long glug and pulling his phone from his pocket. “This new night-nurse has a lot of questions for someone several years my senior.”

We laugh and continue the rest of our walk in relative quiet until we reach the main entrance, and I hold the door for us both. Giro taps another text into his mobile, before finally putting it away and finishing his canned coffee in a final swig. I force mine down as well; it should at least help keep me awake for the drive home.

“So, are we making a detour tonight or heading straight home?”

I consider suggesting the coffee house but shake my head. I’m already fairly exhausted and I doubt I’d make for excellent company right now.

“I’m tired, so I wouldn’t be much company.”

“You never are,” he jokes a bit flatly, before sitting down in the passenger seat. “How’s the new apartment?”

I start up the engine and half-laugh, half-cough.

“It’s cramped,” I admit, and Giro nods. “I haven’t really unpacked, so that probably contributes to the feeling.”

“Well, let’s hope it’s only temporary, heavy rains make for bountiful harvests.” He says with a thin smile, as I pull out of the gates and head off down the hill past the town.

“That isn’t a saying, I’m not even sure it’s true.”

“It doesn’t have to be true to be a saying,” he laughs quietly. I’m thankful that he doesn’t seem to mind the rather sombre attitude I’ve been carrying with me the last few days. Good friends do that, I think, they weather the stormy weather. There’s another made up saying.

“I guess,” I half-heartedly admit. I’m amazed at how dark it’s gotten, despite it not being that late, but it’s been threatening to rain again for a while; the menacing darkness is probably just that.

Sure enough, a single raindrop lands on my windscreen, and then another. And then the whole sky falls down.

“About time, I suppose,” I say, switching the windscreen wipers on. Giro is replying to another text but laughs non-the-less.

“It really never ends,” he laughs.

“The winter?”



We keep driving into the rain, and I pull off the main road into the city side-street. Thankfully, Giro lives only a short drive from my apartment, though his place is considerably nicer and in a far nicer area.

I pull up just before his apartment and turn off the engine.

“Same time tomorrow?” Giro asks, still occupied on his phone.

“Let’s make it thirty minutes earlier, we can get a coffee before work.”

Giro laughs, and finally puts his phone away.

“You read my mind. We’ll get something warm instead of a can.”

With that, he opens the door and steps out. The rain pelts him, but he doesn’t seem to care and chuckles dryly again.

“Wonderful weather, so refreshing,” he says with a cheesy grin.

“Go for a run or something,” I joke.

“I may just,” he replies, before shutting the car door and walking calmly to his apartment entrance. Nothing phases Giro, he’s always so composed. He’s younger than me, but his life is so much more together.

I sigh and start up the car again. The rain has gotten heavier, and the evening has gotten a little darker too to a cool purple colour. That kind of colour is Rayleigh scattering, I mutter to myself. I wonder if any of my students would know that. It takes the car behind me honking before I realise, I’ve completely stopped, and I continue down the road a few streets until I reach my run-down little place and park up. Everything feels so close but miles away… I’ve felt that way before. The optimist in me hopes that this too shall pass, but you just can’t shake reality.

I climb the steps through the rain, and crash onto my couch.

A familiar film is blaring from the small box television, but I don’t catch much of it, and slowly zone out of reality.

A gruff looking American man yells out on screen, and I snicker as the recognizable line bounces around in my head.

“Yippee ki yay,” I mutter into the sofa pillow, and drift away into a world where it isn’t too late.

A world somehow separate from this one.

All that flashed into my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again, I called out for Midori from the dead centre of this place that was no place.

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
I yawn and stretch out my arms. Mari giggles beside me and snuggles by my side.

“I thought this was your favourite?” she asks and pokes me a little too hard for my sleepy state.

“It is, but I guess I might have seen it too many times now,” I admit, “knock it off you monster. Who pokes a sleeping beauty?”

On screen, McClane crawls through the vents, his eyebrow bloody but his face determined. I smile, and Mari giggles again.

“Let me guess, you know every word?” she asks, well, accuses.

“Well, my English isn’t great…” I narrow my eyes and take a mock serious expression. “But yes, I do.”

The DVD stutters and skips, so I let out a sigh and untangle myself from Mari, much to her protest.

“Yippie ki yay,” I groan and shake my head.

“You’ve watched it too many times,” she laughs.

“It’s just a story that speaks to me,” I return, thumping the top of the player. I’m a physicist, not a tech wizard. “It’s a story that proves its never too late to be the hero,” I explain, and she laughs again.

I turn back to face Mari. She’s still wearing her lab coat, and she’s splayed out onto the sofa like she’s posing for an oil painting. There’s some ‘scientists grime’ on her sleeve, but it’s probably just ink or lead smudges.

Even in her work clothing, half-asleep, she looks gorgeous and timeless. Behind her, out the window, the city lights are roaring and it’s sprinkling with snow.

“Something on your mind?” she asks with a sly smile.

“I’m just admiring you,” I answer.

She blushes, and sits upright, stretching her arms out wide to be hugged. I’m more than happy to oblige, and I wrap my arms around her back as the movie continues to play, only to be interrupted by a loud thump from the hallway.

Mari sits up from the sofa with a smile and kisses me on the forehead.

“It’s your turn,” she says quietly. There’s a somewhat guilty look on her face, but I don’t mind at all, and separate myself from her to deal with the thumper in the hall.

I stomp to the doorway and begin huffing and puffing, making each movement and sound exaggerated, as the tiny sound of giggling comes from around the corner.

“There better not be any little ladies up past their bedtime,” I say in my evil villain voice.

Another giggle is cut off by a squeal as I round the corner and see the little lady in question. She’s tiny, and very, very guilty looking.

“Give me one good reason not to put you up for adoption, Emicia,” I joke, and the little criminal karate chops me in the leg. “Ow!” She splutters into a violent cough, but just as I kneel down to make sure she’s okay, it passes, and she smiles at me.

“Because I’ll beat you up,” she blurts out confidently, before hitting me again.

“You take after your mother, little goblin.”

“I heard that,” Mari laughs, “and trust me, I hit harder.”

I rub the back of my neck and exaggerate my sigh, before picking Emicia up and carrying her into the living room. Mari gives me an affectionate smile as I drop her down on the sofa, and John McClane continues to look out from the TV, paused.

“I don’t have to trust you, I already know,” I quietly mumble, before either of the little demons can whack me. Both do, and I mock yelp.

Emicia snuggles into her mother, and I resume the film. I’ve made Emicia watch it multiple times by now, but this is actually the first time Mari has sat down to see it. Actually, this feels like one of the first times Mari has sat down in a while… She puts her hand on mine and squeezes.

“Have you thought more about that job offer?” she asks, Emicia looks like she might be dozing off.

“I turned it down,” I answer and avert her gaze. “I think teaching might suit me but…”

“But money matters,” she sighs.

“Besides, if I do teach, it won’t be at some high-end snob factory, I want to really make a difference.”

Mari squeezes my hand again and bring it to her lips before letting go and stroking Emicia’s hair.

I take a look at my watch, and smile.

“What?” she asks, lowering her voice, but Emicia opens her eyes, nonetheless.

“It’s twelve,” I chuckle.

Emicia sits upright and doesn’t try to hide her excitement. She coughs violently again, but quickly settles down again, and Mari’s concerned look vanishes.

“Christmas!” she exclaims.

Mari laughs.

“Well, you know it’s a romantic holiday girly, I was hoping Akio and I could spend it without you,” she bops her daughter on the nose and earns herself a mean look.

“Now hang on,” I laugh, and release myself from the comfortable sofa. “I know it’s a western tradition, but I couldn’t help but get you both a present.”

Emicia claps her hands together excitedly, but Mari just looks on with a quizzical expression.

I round the corner into the hall and open up my satchel. At the bottom of the bag, two messily wrapped gifts have been waiting all night to come out. I place both behind my back as I re-enter the living room.

“Okay, first, little demon child.”

“That’s me!” Emicia jumps off her mother and grabs the present from my outstretched hand.

“Akio, you really didn’t have to…” Mari begins, but trails off as I offer her the second, smaller present.

She juggles it between her fingers, feeling the weight of it. It’s small, but, as she begins to peel the wrapping, I feel my heart jump up my throat.

Emicia hoists her own present into the air, the wrapping all over the floor now. It’s a book that reminded me of her, about a little girl who breaks the mould by speaking up where no one else will. She opens it and begins thumbing through the pages as she settles onto the floor.

“Thank you,” she whispers, already engrossed in the first page.

I nod, and return to Mari, who has opened the box and is… crying.

I kneel down and take her hand in mine.

“Yes,” she whispers. Emicia looks up, not understanding what’s really happening.

“Yes,” Mari whispers again.

“Yes,” she whispers once more, her heart forever bound with my own.


I ended up scrapping about 7,000 words on this one, maybe to be reworked someday, hence the delay. I can't say this prompt spoke to me, and I'm dreadfully sorry it's so late Downix. (I also still haven't watched Die Hard).

I figured it was best to get this out so you at least have something, despite it not being worth the wait at all, and then I can move on from it as well.

For any curious, my prompt was:
Thought to take it up a notch this year and bring out the true spirit of the holidays with a Christmas movie themed idea. It needs to incorporate the ultimate Christmas movie, Die Hard, in some manner, but otherwise it is as open as can be. Kenji saving the school from terrorists, Hisao bumming out at movie night, girl’s night sleepover watching it, do whatever you want to!
Happy April, all. Bah Humbug.

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Downix » Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:19 pm

Love it!

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by brythain » Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:44 pm

7000 words? What a bummer!
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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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by PsychicSpy » Wed Sep 15, 2021 7:50 pm

At long last, a very late S11. My apologies to Crafty; I really should have gotten it done earlier, but I just had massive writer's block. I really hope that you enjoy this!

Prompt: Someone at Yamaku is having a bad time: either they were involved in a bad/neutral end, or someone else took the good end. Regardless, they need some time to come to terms with things. With the help of another character, however, they're able to let it go, and look ahead to the future.
An Ibarazaki Guarantee

“Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock! Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring!” The tinny Christmas music rang out of the radio in the student council. Hisao had never been great at English, but he could make out a few of the words in every verse.

If he was being honest, he didn’t feel like celebrating at all in the moment and wanted nothing more than to turn the music off, but Misha had been adamant about it. This was a Christmas party, so they needed Christmas music, she had reasoned, albeit with more loud laughter interspersed in her explanation.

Hisao sighed as he looked out of the window at the campus grounds, which were blanketed with snow. The moon cast its glow down upon the snow-crested hills that surrounded Yamaku, the stark light illuminating the spindly, bare tree branches and leafless bushes, giving a drab reminder of the harshness of winter.

“Hey, stranger. Long time no see,” a familiar voice said. Hisao turned to see Emi leaning against the counter, looking at him. She was dressed in the spirit of the holiday, with a snowman sweater and a Santa hat on her head.

“Hey, Emi,” Hisao responded, turning back to the window.

“It’s been a while, Hisao; I haven’t seen you try to outrun me in a while.” Emi slid over to him, looking out at the winter night too.

“I just haven’t felt like it.” Hisao mumbled.

Emi paused for a moment before going down a new avenue of conversation. “Pretty nice party, right? I think it was all Misha’s idea.”

“Yeah, the party is nice,” Hisao echoed, tapping his fingers on the countertop impatiently. He wanted Emi to leave him alone. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Emi’s smile grow into a look of concern.

“What’s wrong, dude? Something’s up,” she questioned.

Hisao didn’t look at her. “Nothing.”

“Are you still thinking about her?” she asked carefully.

Hisao knew it was pointless to lie; when Emi sniffed something out, she would hound it until she got what she wanted. “Yeah.”

“Hisao, it’s been months since Lilly left,” Emi said. “I understand wanting to be sad for a little while, maybe even a month, but it’s been several months.”

“Is that the only reason you came over here?” Hisao grumbled. “To criticize how I’m feeling?”

“No! I just wanted to see how you were doing and where your head's at,” Emi replied defensively.

“Well, I’m just fine, so you can go back to enjoying the party.” Hisao expected her to walk away at this point, but instead he felt a hand grasp his wrist and roughly pull him towards the door.

“C’mon! We’re going for a walk, Hisao!” Emi dragged him out of the room and down into the entrance hall, ignoring any of his protests. She pushed the door open and pulled him out into the frigid air.

“Emi! Let me go back!” Hisao turned to go back inside, but Emi got in between him and the door.

“No. We’re gonna talk about what happened, Hisao. You’ve been essentially working like some kind of stupid robot since Lilly left. You get up, go to class, do your work, then go back to your room and read or whatever it is you do in your room. You barely talk to anybody anymore.”

“I’ve just decided to focus on studying at this point, that’s all.”

Emi stamped her prosthetic foot, sending up a poof of snow flurries. “That’s not a good enough answer, Hisao. I know what self-isolation looks like.” She looked off in the distance wistfully, before turning back to him with determination in her eyes. “I’ll make you a deal: we go on this walk, we talk about what happened, and then I never ask about it again.” She stuck her hand out for a handshake. “I’ll even throw in some of my mom’s home cooking. Deal?”

Hisao thought about it, and against his better judgement, he half-heartedly shook her hand. They started to walk down the paved sidewalk, which had much less snow on them.

“I know that you spent time with a bunch of different people during your first week here,” Emi started. “Why don’t we start there?”

With some hesitation, Hisao began to talk about what happened between him and Lilly. He talked about the first meetings in the tearoom, shopping for Hanako’s birthday, and Lilly’s first trip home. Emi listened carefully throughout all of it, keeping an uncharacteristically serious expression on her face.

The words began to tumble out easier as he continued, describing their trip to Hokkaido, especially the incident with his heart and the scene in the field with Lilly, while leaving out some of their escapades. He continued on, describing their fancy date, his talk with Akira and how he found out about Lilly leaving. Summarizing the night Lilly had left was the hardest part, and Hisao didn’t even notice the tears rolling down his cheeks until Emi gently brushed them away with her gloved hands.

“Thank you, Emi.”

“No problem.” Emi stepped away as they turned the corner to walk through the courtyard between the school building and the gym. “So, what about after that? What happened after she left?”

Hisao looked down. “Well, we tried to keep calling one another, texting back and forth, but things were different- I mean, how could things not be different after she hid that our relationship was being built on a time limit?”

“Yeah, I can see how that would really impact you two.”

“Yeah. Eventually our conversations grew fewer and shorter, and a few weeks ago we just didn’t bother to call each other. She only sent a text telling me it would be better if we broke up completely and didn’t talk, for both of our sakes.”

“That really hurt, didn’t it?” Emi said quietly, looking at him with sympathy in her green eyes.

Hisao felt his chest tighten. “It did. It felt like it made the distance so much more permanent.”

“Did you feel that maybe, at some point, she would come back, or that you could go to her, or something like that?”

“Yeah, honestly, somewhere inside me I did think that, as pathetic as that sounds.” He felt Emi wrap her arms around him and pull him into a hug. Slightly surprised, he embraced the shorter girl back as they stayed silent, with tears slowly streaking down his cheeks.

“I don’t think it’s pathetic,” Emi said, muffled by his coat. “I know that with the loss I’ve felt, somewhere in my mind I’ve prayed that one day I’ll wake up and it will all be a dream.”

Hisao stayed quiet but hugged her a bit more firmly, wanting to console her as much as she did for him. After a few minutes, they broke apart, before continuing their route back to the school building.

Emi spoke up again as they turned the corner towards the door. “I can see how much this affected you.”

“It has, as much as I hate to say that, especially in this weather.” Hisao gestured around. “It’s very gloomy and dead during winter.”

“Maybe you should look at it in a different way.” Emi pointed to a tree on campus. “That tree looks skeletal now. The snow has blocked all green life from the world, and you look at it through the lens of your Lilly issues.”

Hisao considered this, then nodded. “I guess that’s true. What’s your point?”

“Winter might be this time where things look dead, but plants are strong. Those trees still survive without their leaves. When spring comes, the trees and things that look dead are reborn as vibrant and colorful. You could see winter as a time of renewal and rebirth, don’t you think?”

“I guess I see what you’re saying,” Hisao replied, stopping at the door.

“In the same way, it’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to feel hurt. However, remember that this time will end. It will lead to your rebirth and renewal. It won’t be like this forever; you’re an eligible guy. You can and will find somebody who really cares about you, and that’s an Ibarazaki guarantee!”

Hisao smiled. “Thanks, Emi, for the kind words, and for taking me out on this walk. I think that it really helped.”

Emi lightly punched him in the arm. “Of course, Hisao. Even though you don’t come run with me, you’re still my friend. I still care about your well-being. You needed this. Now c’mon; let’s go enjoy the rest of this party before Misha eats all the Christmas cookies!” Emi charged into the building like she was leading the cavalry.

Hisao chuckled before following her, leaving the cold of winter behind.

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Oddball » Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:07 pm

Well, better late than never.

Overall it wasn't too shabby. It had a nice simple sweet feel to it.
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Craftyatom » Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:47 am

PsychicSpy wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 7:50 pm
An Ibarazaki Guarantee
Excellent! I can't fault you for having some trouble coming up with ideas for the prompt, since it's a bit open-ended, but you definitely did it justice in the end!

I did find myself thinking that I enjoy fics where Hisao is sad - perhaps sad Hisao is easier to get right? But of course I loathe a sad ending, hence the prompt!

Thank you very much, and of course (as I know very well) - better late than never!
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