Thank you for your comments! I think now's a good time as any to continue the story since my creative juices are flowing at this hour of the night... or day, whatever you call it.
Anyway! Let's get started once again!
I kept staring at the girl standing at my bedside. Again, I said, "You've got to be kidding me..." I placed a hand on my forehead and sighed, getting out of bed and looking at her, my hand sliding down from my forehead to my chin, taking a pose that would put The Thinker to shame.
"Artemis isn't much of a girl's name. You sure are pretty enough to pass as a girl. Maybe a nun's outfit would suit you more..." I said jokingly, trying to pass her off as another hallucination. She gasped in an insulted manner, and raised her hand, making a swift horizontal motion across my face.
Guh! That definitely was a slap... and it kind of hurt. Actually, that hurt like a bitch. A really mean bitch, like the kind of bitch that gets your hopes up on a date and cancels on you, on top of telling everyone that your penis is subpar, like your skills in bed. That kind of bitch. Damn, my face..!
But... hallucinations shouldn't hurt... should they?
"That hurt, didn't it? You've become much stronger than before. Mentally, anyway - and I'm not talking about smarts here either, jerk... I really missed you..." she said, looking down. "... Sorry that I smacked you..."
I quickly look up at her while rubbing my face, "N-No... I probably had that coming sooner or later... but what do you mean that I've "become stronger"? I don't feel any different," I said to her as the stinging pain subsided.
Artemis, the girl, I guess, let out a small sigh and shook her head, "It hasn't sunk in yet? Basically, you've become an esper. A master of what the mind can do, telekinesis, psychokinesis, pyrokinesis, cryokinesis... you can basically create and move things with your mind and your mind alone at will," she said bluntly.
"Ah, I see, maybe that explains-- Wait."
What. The. Fuck..? Esper? When the hell did I become that? What the hell is she talking about? How can she just say that bluntly without trying to explain what the hell "sunk in" first? Did she do this to me? Did Artemis..? Was this really just a very wild dream? No, the slap felt real enough to wake me up from my intense napping I do during math. Christ I hate math... wait, focus dammit! Okay, she says I'm an esper. Do I believe her? I suppose I should, since it's the only thing I can go on for now.
"When the hell did this happen to me?" I ask Artemis.
"It happened when you first came here, and had tea with Lilly for the very first time. I'd say she slipped you a mickey. A real mean mickey. The kind that you don't come back from. In your case, you getting that weird stuff in your drink was only the first step," she answered, walking back and forth, pacing my bedside.
"Lilly? She poisoned my tea? That-" she suddenly cuts off my stream of angry swears like a sailor who got his third leg ripped off.
"Whoa, don't get too angry. She did you a favor! We couldn't talk like this and touch each other if she didn't do that, even if everything went bad..."
"Wait... what do you mean?" My eyebrow raises, confusion sets in.
"The Artemis you knew during your childhood - the one that is trying to kill you, isn't him. It's me. I was your hallucination. I was the voice, the person that talked to you everyday when you were lonely... the one that you told secrets to... the one you said that..." her voice trailed off.
"Then... you came from me?" I inquired, getting up from the bed as I reached out towards her, my hands inches from her face.
She silently nods, taking my hands and putting them on her face, as if she's showing me that she's real.
This... this can't be possible. There's no way. You mean to tell me that my memories of the other Artemis weren't real? He was an impostor? Were the memories fake or something? Well doesn't this just shove a phallus into your corpus callosum? And then... and then the real one shows up yet she's real? Come to think of it, the other Artemis did seem like he was real as well - like he was on the same plane of existence as me. Was it a result of me being an... esper was it?
"I'm... so glad that you can touch my face..." Artemis says, her lips quivering, her eyes filling up with water as she bursts into tears, wrapping her arms around me and burying her head deep into my chest, sobbing and crying.
I... don't know what to say. I return her embrace, holding her gently in my arms. Hearing her sobs feel... nostalgic. As I hold her longer, the feeling gets increasingly nostalgic... this is real. This is the real Artemis. My memories... my memories of her are coming back to me.
It was hot, the playground was literally sizzling from the heat of the brutal sun beating down like a heavyweight boxer. The children retreated to all of the shady areas of the playground, hiding out under slides, awnings, and other places where the sun's gaze was adverted. I was sitting quietly under a tree, all alone as usual. It's been two years since my introduction to the shadowy blob that served as the court jester to my strange kingdom of weird. I'm eight years old, and a social outcast because of the hallucination that I responded to day in and day out as it tried to make me laugh, and would respond to my laughs and requests of certain tricks.
I sat there, the shade of the tree barely helping against the heat, waiting for it. Waiting for my friend to come play with me. Instead, I heard footsteps approach me, the soft rustling of grass under someone's shoes. I looked up, to see a girl, around my age at the time, standing over me. Her hair breathed the essence of midnight, and her eyes were deep caverns of sapphire. I was taken with her beauty, but I tried to play it cool with a tough sounding cough and an annoyed look,
"Do you need something?" I asked the girl, my eyes fixed on her face, trying to grimace, sometimes looking down her body to notice a pure white dress that reached down to her knees.
"Do you feel lonely?"
"...Lonely?" I asked, completely perplexed with her question.
"You're all alone... again. You wanna play?"
"Again? How are you? What makes you think you can just say things like that to me?" I say, trying to puff my chest out threateningly.
"U-Um... I'm sorry..." She said sheepishly, "You don't recognize me, do you?"
"Recognize you? I'd remember you if I knew who you were," I said bluntly, blushing slightly at my words.
"Oh... well... I... you know that weird thing that would do tricks for you?" she asked.
My eyes widened. I never told anyone about the shadowy blob that would do tricks for me - not even to my closest "friends". This person I've never seen before should not even know anything in the slightest about what no one but I can see. But, I was too intrigued to question her knowing - I wanted her to confirm her question - to see what she knew.
"Y-Yeah... What about it...?" I said to her slowly, my eyes narrowing.
"I... I'm that thing. I kind of changed. Do you... like the result?"
I just looked at her. How could she say something so stupid to me? I couldn't believe what she said to me - I couldn't accept something like that. I stood up and grabbed her by her dress... but my hand went through her. The sheer feeling of nothing that I felt when my hand went through her reminded me of... the shadowy blob that I would attempt to touch every time I saw it.
"Kiyoshi...?" The girl asked me, her eyes filling up with tears.
"I... w-what is it...?" I was dumbfounded. There was nothing that I could say. There was absolutely nothing that I could say to her that would make the situation any freaky. It was at that moment that I truly felt like I was a freak - like I really was sick - like there was no place for me in this world. I stared at her tear-stricken face and my face became sullen instead of horrified.
"Even if I take this form... I still can't touch you... you go right through me..." her sobs became louder, tears streaming down her face, "Y-You even look at me like I'm... like I'm a freak... I knew there was no way you could ever..."
My expression intensified. I could feel the sadness in her words, twisting my face into a face of regret in my actions - the cold way I treated her.
"H-Hey..." I tried to say, but she only screamed at me,
"I knew there was no way you could ever like me!" she screamed, sobbing.
And there I was, standing like an idiot, talking to someone who didn't exist, someone who was only in my mind, but strangely enough, I felt compelled to comfort her. I was no good with dealing with girls. I thought I knew about women from dealing with my mother: keep your mouth shut and take your pills and they will be happy with you. I could already tell that I wasn't going to be a "ladies' man" like my dad says any time soon with that logic. But I suppose I'd give it the old college try... whatever that meant. I never get what my dad says...
"Even though I can't touch you, I can still like you for who you are!" I blurted out.
Her sobbing suddenly slowed to a crawl, "R-Really? You mean it...?"
"Yeah! I think you're much cooler than the other way you were! And you're really pretty!" I said with great enthusiasm, pretty much yelling in her face. She immediately blushed. Looks like being honest with her was the best way to go, so I continued to roll with the punches... as my dad says.
"Thanks... you're really nice..." She says.
"Do you want to be friends?" I asked straight out, "You'd be the first one in a long time. I couldn't ask you properly last time I asked when I first met you... so..."
"Yes!" She answered enthusiastically, her face beaming with a smile that warmed my heart.
"I'm Kiyoshi! What's your name?"
"I'm Artemis! It's nice to meet yo--" she began, but I started to laugh.
"What's so funny?"
"Your name! Isn't that a boy's name?" I chuckled.
Suddenly, I felt a sharp whip of air across my face. Did she smack me...? Judging by her expression and hand movement, she at least tried to. Right then, I was kind of glad that she wasn't real. Or at least real enough to everyone else.
She... She was real enough for me.
From that moment on, I wouldn't forget her. Artemis... the real Artemis is with me again, in my arms. And thanks to my power, I was able to bring her from my mind and make her real. This is a fine turn of events to finally recover my memories again. Hopefully there will be no more surprises like this. Even though I'm an esper or whatever-the-hell I'm supposed to be, I'm glad to have a grasp on at least something. I can believe something.
"I remember now. Thanks for reminding me of how important you are to me," I said, rubbing her head affectionately.
She giggled, nuzzling her head into my chest even more. I guess she likes being praised.
I suppose I could rest for now. The next day was going to be where I played the amnesia kid that was supposedly touched in the head. Oh well, at least with Artemis by my side I could rest easier. The night was upon me before I knew it, and I didn't want Artemis to wander off and get herself into trouble, so I ended up sharing a bed with her. With her holding me like I could slip from her fingers at any moment, I slept with a warm, loving embrace.
The morning came with an alarm to wake me up, an ecchi encounter of the painfully inevitable kind, and an awkward dressing dance while I tried to keep myself from being late.
"Hey, Kiyoshi," Artemis said as I was trying to get out of the door,
"What is it?"
"I'll see you later!" She said with a smile, "We'll have to find a way to get rid of that impostor."
I nodded to her, walking out with toast in one hand, and one bag in the other.
Class was easy to find enough, but I decided to ask passing students and faculty to make it seem convincing that I had no idea what I was doing. After trying to find a way to be late by about 20 minutes, I made it into Mutou's class.
"Forgive me Mr. ... Er..."
"Mutou, now take a seat next to Rui, Kiyoshi," He said, treating me exactly how he did before I "lost" my memories. I couldn't help but smile. He pointed at Rui, whom seemed to be surprised and relieved to see me. I glanced over to Hisao, Shizune, and Misha. They seemed confused, talking amongst themselves, probably trying to figure out how they should approach me now that I had amnesia. I moved over to my seat, sitting down next to her. I looked forward, trying my best not to look at her. After a few painful minutes of her looking over her, fidgeting, and opening and closing her mouth, I decided to say something.
"Hi. I was told that I know you," I said flatly, looking at her with a goofy smile.
"I-I guess you could say that. And what's with that smile? You're such an idiot... even if you lost your memories..."
"Hey, that's no way to treat someone who has amnesia..."
"Tch, like I care!"
"Hmm," I responded, closing my eyes, as if in thought. I thought that I might as well take this opportunity to screw with her while I had the chance.
"W-What? Did you remember something?" She said, showing genuine concern.
"Yeah... I think I'm getting something..." I said, rubbing my temples as if there was something actually coming to me. Her interest piqued as I did this, leaning over from her chair.
"You... were... you had sex with... Mr. Mutou...?" I said, with my fake realization blowing her away.
"W-WHAT?! IT WASN'T ME AND MR. MUTOU! IT WAS ME AND Y-Y-Y0--" She stopped in her tracks as she realized where she was before she flew completely off the handle, but let's face it... it's already too late. Mr. Mutou's face was completely red with embarrassment, and the students were completely caught off guard. Shizune, however, was looking around confused as Misha was completely out of commission with that outburst. I could barely hold back the laughter.
Rui immediately stood up, "Wait! It's not what you think! I-I uh... JUST FORGET WHAT YOU HEARD!" she shouted, nearly blowing out my eardrums. As I was rubbing my ear, she cocked back her hand and swung with all her might, decking me straight out of my seat, sending me through the door. OW! DAMN! That hurt...
Before I could get up, someone was already at my aid, picking me up off my feet.
"Are you okay?" she said.
As my vision cleared up, I realized that I was being tended to by Artemis. She was wearing the school uniform.
"W-What are you doing here?"
"I'm the new student. You sure like causing trouble..."
My eyes narrowed, "I didn't think that when you said you were going to 'see me later', that you were going to be this early...!" I snapped.
Mr. Mutou came out of the classroom, "Hitayame... get back in here... and oh - Artemis you're here already. You get in here too," slinking back into the classroom with such dexterity that it sent a chill down my spine.
I scrambled to my feet, Artemis still holding onto me.
"Alright, play it cool..."
"Roger!" she replied.
I sighed, fixing my jaw as I went back into the classroom. I found my seat again after apologizing to Rui over and over again for making the wrong assumption. Making jokes do hurt... Other than that, Artemis' introduction went off without a hitch, aside from another seat needing to be found. After a few minutes, she had a seat somewhere over with Misha, Shizune, and Hisao.
The class went by quietly. All the while, Artemis made glances back to me, which both me and Rui registered. Rui shot me dirty looks, but I feigned ignorance. I suppose I shouldn't torture the girl I deflowered with another one waiting to steal me away from her, but my life's on the line and I can't get her involved either. The glances from Artemis continued until the end of class, starting lunch. I picked up my things and quickly moved myself away from Rui, trying not to get roped into another world of hurt. I suddenly found myself being dragged into a lunch group with Misha, Shizune, Hisao, and Artemis.
"N-No... I don't think--"
"C'mon Kiyocchan! You lost your memories! Let's make some new ones - starting with having lunch with us!" Misha said, with Shizune nodding in affirmation.
"Sorry, we were just worried about you while you were gone. You've been gone for a long time. A lot of things have happened since you were gone, y'know," Hisao chimed in.
I rubbed my head in embarrassment, "I guess so... Hisao... was it?" my already tiring persona played, with Hisao nodding at my remembering of names.
Artemis said nothing, besides wave her hips from side to side with a happy expression, as if she was enticing me. I couldn't say that it wasn't working.
"A-Alright..." I said, throwing my hands up as if I was being taken in.
My captors seem pleased with the results, and off to lunch we went.
I saw Lilly and Hanako maneuvering through the crowd. Hisao waved to them, with Hanako responding as she informed Lilly of what was happening. Shizune seemed to disapprove, but Lilly scowled as well, as if she detected her anyway, before Hanako informed her that she was there. A bit creepy... Which reminded me of how I had no idea how Lilly played into this big conspiracy. There was something about Lilly that seemed... off. I couldn't deal with Artemis, and it seemed that Lilly was involved with him... which made her dangerous. I felt a nudge, which was Artemis. She looked at Lilly, and glanced up to me. I had a feeling she instantly understood. She is a part of me... or was, I guess. The crowd started to become even more dense, but we were wading out of the crowd into the cafeteria. With quite a bit of resistance, we managed to get some lunch. The place was way too crowded, so we decided to head upstairs to the roof.
Climbing up the stairs, we found ourselves up on the roof before we knew it. It brought back memories to see the gravel on the ground. There were light stains where me and Rui... on the gravel... forget it... thinking about it makes me go stiff. Before I could go down farther into my bad thoughts, we were greeted by two people already having their way with their lunches at a bench. It was Rin and Emi.
"Hello, Hisao, and amnesia guy," Rin said, "Looks like I forgot your name," she smiled... the way she smiles anyway.
Emi sprang up to her... well damn, this is awkward. Anyway! She's upright, looking right at me as she said, "Hey! How are you feeling? I heard that you lost your memory. That's tough!"
I smiled at their concern and humor, "Thank you for worrying about me, really. I'm fine," I said as the rest of my party came up behind me, filling up the bench with the rest of them. Taking my seat at the bench, we started to make small talk.
"So... what's been going on while I've been gone?"
"The usual things," Rin answered.
"Even though we only met for a while, it was pretty lonely without you around," Hisao added.
"Well, the festival went off without a hitch. Rin's mural was great! Did you see it?" Emi said, her smile shining so bright I wanted to put on some sunglasses and make a pun.
I shook my head, to which Rin and Emi shrugged.
Misha started laughing again, piercing the air. I winced slightly, "Rin's mural was pretty weird! But people seemed to like it anyway! Wahahaha~!" Misha said, with Shizune nodding in approval.
Artemis laughed a little, "I'm kind of into weird things, I'd like to see it."
"Oh? So you think that Kiyoshi's weird?" Hisao said with a smirk. I almost choked on the bread I was eating. That smug bastard!
"W-What do you mean by that?" Artemis said, blushing lightly.
"Oh... nothing at all..." Hisao said, trying to hold back from laughing. Misha didn't hold back laughter though, and burst into a laugh that caused a chain reaction of laughing. Lunch proved to be lively. With more conversation, lunch was quickly over.
With Artemis being preoccupied with Shizune and Misha with girl-talk, I had some time to talk with Hisao on my way back to class.
"Hey, I'm going to have tea with two friends of mine after school, you wanna come along? I think it would be better if it was two guys and two girls rather than just one guy," Hisao offered.
At first I was going to decline, but I had a feeling I had to say something to Lilly - to try to talk to her. I might be blowing my cover, but at least maybe I could get it out of her covertly... like use my amnesia as some sort of excuse. If that didn't work, I'd be putting Hisao in danger. I might as well warn him beforehand.
"What? Something wrong?"
"It might be nothing, but... I want you to be careful around Lilly."
"It might be nothing that you should be concerned about, but..."
"... I didn't mention Lilly's name."
I froze... Shit. Shit! SHIT! I wasn't thinking straight!
Hisao stopped me, putting his hand on my chest. I looked down at his hand, then back to him.
"What the hell's going on?"
"Don't say anything! If anyone finds out, I'm dead. Seriously. Which is why..." I say as I'm looking around, making sure Artemis and the others aren't in ear range, "... you need to be careful around Lilly. She's involved with the reason why I was in the hospital for those months..."
"Dude, seriously? You really are crazy... I'll keep your secret, but there's no way Lilly could have any reason to do that to you. There's got to be some mistake."
I saw that Hisao wasn't really going to budge on this, but I suppose it's for the better for him to have doubts instead of him blindly following whatever I say. I guess we'll get the story from Lilly. The classroom was in sight, and now it was time to learn.
My incoming encounter with Lilly made me too anxious to getting into taking notes, so with a quick word with Artemis and directions, I had notes coming to my room before I get back from having tea. I chuckle slightly from that thought. My life's on the line. Why the hell am I thinking about taking notes? Maybe I just wanted to keep from Artemis following me by giving her a menial task. And Rui... how am I gonna deal with her? My mind's crowded with too many things worrying about too many things at once. But before I knew it, I was with Hisao in a room that's quite spacious. The Tea Room? I looked over to my right, and I saw Lilly sitting there.
Hanako was nowhere in sight.
"Hmm? Hisao? Is that you?" Lilly said, her words dripping like honey.
"Yes, it's me. I brought a friend too. I think you know him, Kiyoshi?" Hisao answered. I could see Hisao's heart flutter. He must really like her, but whatever. There were things I need to ask her.
"Hey, Lilly. Long time no see," I said, faking a smile at her.
"Good afternoon Kiyoshi, I'm glad to see you're doing well. Sorry that Hanako isn't here to say the same to you. She had some errands to run," Lilly said, nodding in the direction of my voice, slowly opening her eyes.
"Oh, is that so? I guess I'll see her tomorrow or something then. At least you're still here, and look, Kiyoshi's here to take Hanako's place. I don't know if he'll have the same amount of charm as she does, heh," Hisao jokes. Lilly laughs at Hisao's joke at my expense. Hisao walks towards the table, sitting down. I stand my ground. With resolve, I narrow my eyes.
Detecting that a second person hasn't sat down yet, Lilly asks quizzically, "Aren't you going to sit down? I believe it's better to enjoy tea when you're relaxed."
"... There's something I want to ask you," I say to her, causing her expression to change from gentle to a slightly more serious expression. Hisao looks at her with surprise, turning to me.
"Kiyoshi...?" Hisao says. I ignore him calling my name.
"I remembered something, and I was hoping that you could help me..." I began, causing Lilly's expression to turn into a more stressed, serious stance.
"Yes?" Lilly asked, her eyes were strangely... fixed on me, like she could actually see me.
"It happened before my accident. There was a guy there... and he said something... he said that you knew something about me... Lilly... tell me, what's going on?"
Lilly took her teacup, and took a long sip, not taking her eyes off of me for an instant. Besides the fact that she was blind, her icy cold stare freaked me the hell out. Hisao frowned, as Lilly placed her empty teacup on the saucer.
"Kiyoshi, don't you think you're going too far...?" Hisao said, "There's no way Lilly--"
"No, Hisao... it's okay," Lilly said, trying to keep Hisao from freaking out. But it was too late. She took a deep sigh, closing her eyes.
Suddenly, her eyes shot open, as she stood up, sending a swift knee up to the table, knocking it over. The tea set and cups were sent crashing to the floor as Hisao shot up out of his chair and ran out of the way, as Lilly kicked the table towards me. Taken by surprise, I barely took time to brace myself as I threw up my hands as they made contact with the table. Surprisingly, it didn't make much of an impact, as I threw the table to the ground, breaking it into pieces. With little time to take to be in awe of my feat of amazing strength, Lilly was standing up from her chair, as she took out her walking stick.
"My my, I'm sorry Hisao, but there's more to me than meets the eye..." she said as she extended it. A swift poke in the back of Hisao's neck caused him to make a small sound, then fall unconscious... I think.
"Now then..." Lilly said, as she turned to me. Wait... she turned to me? I didn't make a sound!
"Don't worry, I can see you, Kiyoshi Hitayame. Well, not really "see" how you can, but I can see the vibrations made by your body. Like how dolphins and bats find their prey," Lilly said with a smile that radiated seemed... no... was evil.
She brandished her walking stick. Something clicked, and a sudden surge of electrical energy surrounded her walking stick, turning it into a stun rod.
"It looks like you were somehow able to recover from your ordeal with your friend Artemis. I suppose I should take you in with Hisao for a check-up while he gets taken in as well," Lilly said as she took a battle stance.
"T-This is insane! There's no way I can fight a chick that can kick tables across rooms!" I thought to myself.
"What do you mean "taken in"? What are you planning to do?!" I demanded.
"My my, we are impatient. You will find out soon if you come quietly, Kiyoshi," Lilly answers.
"No way! You're not taking me alive!" I said, putting up my fists in defiance.
"Hmm... I guess not then. I'm going to have to kill you if you don't take your lumps quietly. The area's been cleared, no one will come no matter how loud you scream. Accept your fate, and know your place," Lilly said, getting ready to pounce.
Ah shit, I can tell this won't end well.
Before I could finish my thought, Lilly was already upon me, with her stun rod walking stick thing ready to jab me in the chest.
... I really should stop talking to myself.
Oh yeah, fight scene! See you all later. Hope you like this addition to the story.