A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (completed)

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/11)

Post by Elcor » Tue May 15, 2012 12:35 am

andros414 wrote:
Elcor wrote:
Scissorlips wrote:Glad you liked it Elcor, and I agree, I think Skrats captured the essence of the moment perfectly. As for Hanako, maybe something like this?
Yes like that, now I can't help but think of Hanako swinging down from the ceiling to snatch Hisao who is wearing a dress, not sure why, he just is.
It's not a dress, get it right! It's just an overly elaborate and frilly hospital gown. :lol:
Well, I was trying to give Hisao some dignity by him being in a full on dress. But to be in an overly elaborate and frilly hospital gown you just want to give Hanako easy access to Hisao's goods.
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Dark As The Sky

Post by Scissorlips » Wed May 16, 2012 8:56 am

What were we talking about? It's late. Again. This time when I told myself I would be done at 6 AM, it was supposed to be a joke, not a prophecy. I think I've lost control of my life.
Oh well. Here's some more, I hope you enjoy it.

Dark As The Sky

Over the next few days, life steadily returns to what passes for normal. Miki's phantom pains come and go, just like my insomnia, and both of us are lucky enough to be enjoying a reprieve for now. In the blink of an eye, it's Sunday. Finally, a day without having to go to class, or sleep through class, or come from class. In my experience, it's something best celebrated by sleeping until noon, at the earliest.

My alarm goes off at the regular time, but I quickly put an end to any such nonsense. It's Sunday, we are not playing that game. Instead, I root around for my phone on my nightstand. When I find it, I pull it to my fortress of blankets and pillows, and flip it open. The bright lights sting my blurry eyes, but I don't need to use it for long. I take the time to set the ringer volume to maximum, and then set my phone back down before returning my head to its rightful place, buried beneath my pillow.

Sunday means I can expect a call from home. Mom usually calls sometime in the afternoon, but since I can't really make sure I'll be awake when she does, the safest bet is to ensure that my phone is loud enough to wake me up. Which is sometimes loud enough to wake up the rest of the floor. But sacrifices must be made.

For now though, I'm sure that the world will be just fine without my presence for... a couple hours more at least. I roll over to face away from the sunlight filtering through my window, carefully adjust my legs to avoid twisting my injured knee, and then wriggle into the most comfortable position possible. Now where was I? Oh yeah. Me, Taro and Akio were building a cabin in the woods and Miki had gone to catch some fish, and there was a bear but...

A few hours later I'm awoken by another loud blaring noise, but this time it's coming from my phone. I feel my dream slip away from me like... like something already slippery that's covered in oil or other such things. That sounds almost impossible to--phone, right. Here, this button makes the noises stop.



“Good morning, Suzu dear.” My mother's voice calls out from the other end. I weakly hold the phone against my ear with one hand while slumping back into a laying position.

“Morning?” I clamp my eyes shut, keeping them open feels wrong and vaguely painful at the moment.

“Afternoon then. But I can tell I woke you up, so it sounded appropriate.”

“Oh, I see. Very funn...”

“Wake up, Suzu.” My mom raises her voice, gently but firmly. I open my eyes again.

“I'm here, I'm here mom. What's new?”

We then begin our normal, routine conversation, the one we have every Sunday. Mom talks about dad and the family business, I talk about Yamaku, the literature club, things like that. My knee is doing just fine, mom. Miki's fine too, thanks for asking. Yes I know exams are coming up, no I'm not looking forward to them. Yes, I'm sure I'll do fine too. I'm not even holding the phone to my ear anymore, relying entirely on gravity.

Then, the conversation takes an unusual turn, one I probably should have seen coming if not for slippery, oily things. And bears. Oily bears?

“Did you hear me, Suzu?” My mom asks.


“I asked how things are going with that boy. You know, the one you were with at the festival?”

Things are fine. I think. I'm pretty sure. Hisao's been eating lunch with us every day lately, and his mood seems to have improved. And he's still interested in the literature club, so that's good too. But I can't tell my mom all that. She doesn't need to know, and besides, she might tell--

I hear a muted voice on the other end of the phone, and my mother gives a playful sigh.

“And your father would like to remind you that you're not allowed to date until you're twenty six.” She says.

I can't help but smile, even though I know they can't see it. Dad is always like this. He doesn't really mean any of it. Probably. It took him a long time to accept that he couldn't protect his daughter from her own brain. Now he just fusses and clucks, knowing that after everything that's happened, Yamaku is still the best place for me to be right now.

“So when do we get to meet this boy, Suzu?” My mother asks warmly. I can feel myself beginning to wake up. Serious questions are being asked, far too serious for this early in the morn--afterno--whenever.

“Maybe you can bring him with you the next time you come home for a visit? You said you have a three day weekend coming up before long, right?”

I crack one eye open, staring into space. I don't like to think about this kind of thing. Too far ahead. Too much strategy involved, I'm only good at doing things one turn at a time.

“Mom, that's like a month away. I don't even know if we'll still be friends by then.”

“Don't be silly. Well, boy or not, it will be good to see you again. We're all looking forward to it.”

I open both eyes now, staring across my room at nothing. A long pause fills the air, the only sounds being the faint chirping of birds outside and the tiny hiss of static coming from my phone.

“Suzu dear? Are you awake?

Trying not to think, I take a breath, then let it out. Take a breath, let it out.

“I'm here, mom. It will be good to see you too. Say hi to dad for me.”

“I will. Oh, one last thing, he wants to know if you've gone over those college papers we sent you.”

Now with something to look for, my gaze slowly drifts around my room. They were on my desk at one point, but now I see a few sheets, brochures, and fliers scattered around my floor that may or may not fit the profile of the mound of documents that arrived in the mail last week. The answer is no, I haven't read them yet. Or, I started to, and then I had to stop.

“Are you there? Suzu?” I don't answer. I'm not even pretending to be asleep this time. I just don't know what to say.

The silence stretches for even longer than before. My mother waits, probably in hopeful anticipation, but then I hear her voice.

“Well, I'm sure you'll get around to it eventually. We love you, Suzu. Hope to see you soon.” Her cheerful voice only serves to drive the final guilt-ridden nail into my coffin. She hangs up, and I'm left alone with only my thoughts echoing through my slightly fuzzy head, the afternoon sun making a respectable effort at forcing me to greet the coming day.

“I'm glad you could drop by.” He says, smiling brightly. I wish I could return that smile, I really do. But I can't, not here, and not now.

“I hope you're ready Suki, cause I won't go down without a fight.” His expression grows thoughtful as he studies his side of the board game set out on the table. I pay the pieces in front of me no heed, instead staring intently at the boy sitting across from me. Every detail is exactly how I remember it. His messy hair, the sloppily done tie, the bags under his eyes. It's like looking at a photograph. Or a cracked mirror. He glances up at me again, and I look away, unable to meet his gaze.

“I thought you said you were letting me win.”

He laughs, a sound like a spring morning. I've missed that laugh. I wish I wasn't hearing it now.

“That doesn't mean I have to make it easy for you.”

“I don't appreciate the mindgames.”

He spreads his hands, smiling like a shark. “Are you telling me you prefer the usual getup?”

“Yes.” I can't believe I'm saying I would rather see a skeleton in a black robe, but it's the truth. This isn't right. This isn't fair.

Death grins, a wide, toothy grin that looks alien on the face he's borrowing.

“I'll see what I can do. In the meantime though, D8.”

We go back and forth, my opponent continuing to make the occasional fanged remark. I play along halfheartedly, just hoping that I'll wake up again soon. But then something catches my interest. I hadn't even been paying attention to the game, but now I see the stack of pieces laden with red pips, dumped haphazardly on my opponent's side of the table. There are four ships there.

He only has one left.

“Your turn, Suki.” He says with a smile.

I try remember the past few moves. My own pieces are still in pretty good condition. How long has the board been like this? I don't know, I don't know.

Death clears his throat.

“A1.” I blurt out. Corner shot, almost definitely a miss, but I still have enough pieces to keep hunting down--

“Hit.” He says, his expression unreadable.

I take another look at the ships in his scrapheap. Carrier, battleship, submarine, destroyer. The only one missing is the patrol boat. Which can only take two hits.

I suck in a breath, wide awake now. So to speak. I mean. I could win this. He only has one ship left, I know where it is, it only has one hit to go. And I still have all of my pieces, there's no way I can lose before my next turn.

I could win this.

“E4, Suki.” The boy across from me speaks up. I find myself looking straight into those eyes now.

“Miss.” I breathe. He smiles.

“It's your turn.” He says.

My heart is beating firmly in my chest. A2. That's all I have to say. One letter and one number are all that stand in my way. But. But.

What happens if I win? I remember asking that question before. I had been scared to lose at the time, but now I find myself just as terrified of winning. Maybe it's a trick. Maybe he'll just smile and pull out some even more annoying game. Maybe he'll get mad again. A year's worth of battleship, and I'd never won or lost before. Some stupid part of me had almost gotten used to this, almost accepted it. Why now? What do I do?

“Come on, Suki.” I'm snapped out of my daze as my opponent calls out to me cheerfully.

“Don't you want to see the sun set over the power lines?” He says, smiling warmly.

I wake up.

My eyes are immediately accosted by the rays of a late afternoon sun. I cover them with one hand as I slowly take in my surroundings. My back is against one of the trees on the school grounds. There are students out walking or having picnics on the grass, enjoying the last hours of their Sunday. Sitting leaned against the same tree as me is Hisao, a book perched in his hands. Noticing my moving, he sets it down to look over at me.

“There you are.” He smiles. “Did you win?”

“Did I what?” I answer groggily. My head still feels heavy, the warm air certainly isn't helping me wake up.

“You were mumbling something about a game in your sleep. Did you win?”

I look at the boy next to me for a long moment, then shift my gaze to the bright blue sky, which is slowly starting to grow tinged with orange.

“Don't you want to see the sun set over the power lines?” I mumble.


I glance back at Hisao, who sits there watching me curiously.

“It's something that someone used to tell me, a long time ago.” I look back at the sky. “To get me out of the house.”

I can tell he's thinking about it, but Hisao decides not to press further, and I breathe an inward sigh of relief.

“Well you certainly are out of the house right now. Can I ask why? I was wondering why some girl walked over to me and promptly fell asleep in the grass.” He cracks a grin, and I feel my face grow a little bit red. Nothing is worse than passing out in front of strangers. Being woken up to worried or sometimes sneering expressions. Having to explain that no I'm not drunk or anything, my head just doesn't work right. Hoping that someone either caught me and let me down easy or that I landed on something soft. Even now, the various bandages and bruises scattered beneath my clothing are a reminder that any rest could be paid for in pain.

But I'm not here to mope. I came here for a reason. Right. That reason was... it was... oh, yeah.

“I was looking for you.”

“For me?”

I nod. “There's a track meet coming up this next week, Miki wanted to know if you'd come cheer her on.”

The way Miki had worded it, she seemed more interested in sitting me on the bleachers next to Hisao than wanting him there for support. It doesn't sound like that bad an idea, but I can't tell him that. Is this being dishonest? It's Miki's plan though, I'm just a helpless victim in all this.

“A track meet? Oh yeah, she's on the team, that's right.” He appears to think for a moment. “Sure I'll come. You'll be there too, won't you?”

Ulp. I feel my cheeks begin to burn again, just a tiny little bit. Hoping that the setting sun will cover it up, I give another nod. “I always go. It's nice to have someone to sit with though, last time I drifted off and kind of fell off the bleachers.”

Hisao winces, his eyes flickering to the brace on my knee. Oh no, that's not where that came from. That's an even better story, one for another day. Maybe.

“You came all the way out here to ask me that? You could have just texted me.”

“I don't have your number. And you'd better come, I had to hunt you down. I even looked for you in the boy's dorms. The guy across the hall from you is weird.”

Hisao looks worn out at the very mention of his dorm mate. “You talked to Kenji, huh?”

I frown in irritation at the memory. “I tried to. He said you weren't there, then accused me of planting listening devices and threatened to call the army.”

He laughs. “Let me guess, he thought you were a sleeper agent for the feminists?”

“Oh, you think you're so funny.” I lean over to punch him in the arm, but a sudden wave of fatigue robs me of the strength to return to resting against the tree. I end up sinking to the grass, looking and feeling like a sack of potatoes falling over sideways.

“Ack.” I mumble, and then yawn. I just woke up, I shouldn't be so tired already. What did I dream about? Oh, yeah. That.

“Sorry, I shouldn't be making light of your... condition.” Hisao stumbles over the words, sounding apologetic. Eager to have something else to think about, I roll over to look at him, one side of my face still pressed against the ground.

“It's okay. That was a good one, actually. And I've heard a lot.” Hisao looks relieved to hear it, and I find myself smiling.

“My dad used to s--” Pthft, grass in my mouth. “--used to say, 'there are some times when you can either laugh or cry. And crying is for girls.'”

Hisao chuckles. “Your dad sounds like an interesting guy.”

“Oh, he is.” My eyes drift from the sideways boy in front of me to somewhere off in the distance, which happens to be the patch of black that is the grass right in front of my face. “He laughs a lot.”

“Can I ask you something, Suzu?” Hisao looks curious, and a little bit apprehensive too. After the last big question he had though, I don't even bother reacting.

“Fire away.” I raise my eyebrows. The effect is probably lost when you're rotated 90 degrees.

“What's it like, being a narcoleptic?” He stares at me, his gaze inquisitive. It's nowhere near the first time I've been asked that, but I don't mind. I'm reminded that Hisao has some problem of his own that he's facing down too. Maybe helping him understand me better might help him understand himself a bit, too.

“Well...” I turn onto my back, then push myself up to rest on my elbows. I'm sure bits of grass are sticking to my shirt, but I can't bring myself to care right now. The sun is setting.

Where do I start? “I was diagnosed when I was six years old. It can run in families, but neither of my parents have it. Um. A lot of narcoleptics have cataplexy, which is where strong emotions make you lose all muscle control. I don't have that, though.”

Hisao looks aghast. “That sounds awful.”

“It can be, yeah. But I'm one of the lucky ones, I just have 'excessive daytime sleepiness', and sometimes sleep paralysis. And it's not uncommon to have hallucinations when waking up or going to sleep.”

The look on Hisao's face hasn't changed much. I continue.

“Sometimes my mind goes to sleep but my body doesn't, and it keeps doing whatever I was doing at the time. That's called automatic behavior. Like, I'll keep writing the same thing in my notes over and over again until I wake up. I sleepwalk sometimes, and sleeptalk too. Not very often though.”

“And then there's the insomnia.” Losing strength in my arms, I let myself sink back down onto the grass, staring straight up at the fading sky. I almost feel like I'm on a couch somewhere, talking to a psychiatrist. This is a lot cheaper though, probably.

“You're kidding.” Hisao says.

“Nope.” I sigh. “It comes and goes. Sometimes I can't sleep for a night, sometimes it's for a week or two.”

I hear grass rustling next to me, and look over to see Hisao lying down beside me. He's frowning in concern, it's cute. I give him a smile.

“It's okay though. Some people have it a lot worse than me. They can't even live by themselves, or they feel like they're in a dream almost all the time.”

One particular story comes to mind. “Some people even have to wear helmets around their own houses.” Picturing it makes me wince, and I see Hisao mirror my expression. But I try again to reassure him.

“But I'm not like that. I just can't really go places by myself, and stairs aren't my friends. I wish Miki liked books more, at least then she'd have something to do when she's waiting for me to wake up. I feel bad.”

“That's not a problem for me though.” Hisao smiles.

I laugh. He does have a point. There are times when I really wish I could go off and do things by myself though. It must be pretty boring to spend a lot of time with a narcoleptic. I'd make a terrible date. Um. But maybe like he said, he could bring a book or something. Anyway. Anyway.

“So yeah. That's about it, I think. It could be better, it could be worse. I've had a lot of time to get a handle on things.”

Hisao nods sagely. I think that's one thing that he might really be looking for. Being around all these kids with special conditions, not to mention being one of them himself, must be pretty strange for him. But he's getting used to it, I can tell. It's a good feeling, watching him slowly settle in.

Looking at the boy laying in the grass next to me, I'm really glad that I passed out that day and woke up in the nurse's office. If I hadn't gotten to talk to him then, we might never have become friends. I'm pretty sure now that he wouldn't be more happy hanging out with the student council, and I've gotten used to having him around. This is kind of nice, actually, talking like this. It's something I wouldn't mind doing more often.

“Sooo.” I look Hisao in the eyes, and he stares back. “What's it like to be a... boy who... wears sweater vests?” I end my question with a shrug.

Hisao's expression grows cloudy, but he rolls with the punch. “What do you have against my sweater?”

“Nothing at all, it's just that it's Sunday and you're reading a book on the school grounds. You're not even going anywhere.”

I let out a mock gasp and raise my eyebrows. “So that's your secret! Your disability is poor fashion sense!”

He grimaces, and then turns his head to look up. I notice that a few stars have started to come out.

“I like my sweater. And you're one to talk, I've only ever seen you wearing the school's uniform.”

“Fine then, I'll dress up for the track meet. You'll see, it'll knock you right out.”

I'm pleased to see the grin spread across his face. Hisao rolls his eyes. “Fine then, I'm looking forward to it.”

I'm curious as to what Hisao's reason for being here at Yamaku really is. But I'm not going to drill him about it. We all have things that we find hard to tell other people. It could be something as little as carpal tunnel or diabetes, or it could be something that might kill him in six months, it's impossible to know. So I'll keep having moments like this, and one day, when he's ready, I hope he'll tell me. Before he dies of some rare medical condition that causes sweater vests and awkwardness.

“Suzu? Hey.” The voice of the boy next to me wakes me up. Was I sleeping? I thought I was thinking. Maybe I thought I thought I was thinking. But I'm awake now. I think.

“It's getting late, it'll be curfew soon.” He stands up, walks a little closer, and then extends a hand down to me. I look at his outstretched hand, then to the stars that have begun littering the now night sky. The brilliant expanse reminds me of home, and I'm grateful that Yamaku is set far away from any big cities that tend to steal away the starlight.

“I was going to make a wish.” I say slowly. Maybe I did fall asleep, I certainly feel like I'm waking up now. “But I don't know which one I saw first.”

I reach up and take his hand, and Hisao hoists me to my feet. The warm evening has fully given way to cool night air by now. I look up at the stars again, then back at Hisao.

“I got nothing.” I say flatly.

He shrugs. “Maybe you should sleep on it.”

I nod, trying not to smile. “I'm sure that won't be a problem.”

We part ways after Hisao promises to come to the track meet. It's not until next Sunday, but time flies when you're having fun or unconscious. I stumble back to my room, kick off my shoes, and make sure that I don't have any homework due the next day before collapsing into my bed.

As tired as I am, tonight is another night where sleep seems to elude me. My head is swimming with thoughts of today's events and refuses to shut down, even as the hours begin to drain away and fly by. Again, I've got that zombie feeling, tossing and turning in my bed. Finally, I open my eyes and peer at the outline of the fuzzy blob on my table. The stretch of carpet that divides us is still devoid of padding, either I keep forgetting to clutter it or I somehow keep policing the path in my sleep.

I don't want to walk on that clean floor, but I have class tomorrow and I'm desperate. I lay in my bed for a long moment, thinking it over.


I slip out of the bed, and, taking long, quick strides, walk over to the table. I snatch up the stuffed animal and beat a hasty retreat, throwing myself back into my bed and wrapping my arms around my prize. The squishy mass fits surprisingly well next to me. I hug it tightly.

I close my weary eyes, and the world fades away.

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Last edited by Scissorlips on Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:09 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by The O.H.L. » Wed May 16, 2012 11:10 am

Hm, that was a nice read. I'm too tired to comment on it properly (it's 3am here), but I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when she wins the game of battleship, or if she will just procrastinate so she doesn't have to deal with any new situations.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by Elcor » Wed May 16, 2012 12:22 pm

Suzu taking jabs at Hisao's sweater priceless, another sweet addition.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by lolawesome » Wed May 16, 2012 2:14 pm

I'm giggling like a schoolgirl reading the flirting between Suzu and Hisao

another thing I thought was, didn't Suzu see Hisao without his shirt in the Nurse's office? Or did she only see him from the back?

Anyways, I love this chapter, it's on par with the first one in terms of Dawwwwww-ness, especially Suzu mocking Hisao's sweatervest haha

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by turbulentDuvet » Wed May 16, 2012 3:17 pm

Scissorlips, I take my funny hat off to you good sir, for here is an other mastefully rendered tale in-the-making, and I eagerly await more.

There have been some excellent fanfics from the girls POV but an arc using the girl as the protagonist is refreshing, and you have handled it so very well.

PLEEZ MOAR <3 when you're good and ready, oh and I totally know from being at your most creative when you should be sleeping, maybe there is some part of our phsyche that is wired to save stories and their telling for after the sun has set?
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by Darrien » Wed May 16, 2012 3:47 pm

I agree, using the girl as the protagonist is a nice change of pace. Looking forward to more.

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by nemz » Wed May 16, 2012 3:48 pm

Another fine addition to a charming story!

I'm a bit disappointed in Hisao though. First he misses an obvious opportunity to share his affliction, then he doesn't walk with her to her room or at least the girls' dorm's front door? For shame, sir.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by Titus » Wed May 16, 2012 8:55 pm


I really like Suzu and Hisao's relationship, and I love the dialogue that goes on between them. Suzu's thoughts are fun to read, she's quite a thinker when she's awake. That Grim Reaper guy too, I'd love to see whatever happens to him. You can't kill death...maybe he's a bro with dickish behavior? I don't know...

Good continuation, of course I'm sticking around!
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by Guest » Thu May 17, 2012 2:47 pm

nemz wrote:I'm a bit disappointed in Hisao though. First he misses an obvious opportunity to share his affliction, then he doesn't walk with her to her room or at least the girls' dorm's front door? For shame, sir.
Definitely not the brightest kid. Pretty true to character.

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by grey_ » Thu May 17, 2012 11:20 pm

This is great!

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/16)

Post by Scissorlips » Tue May 22, 2012 10:53 am

lolawesome wrote:another thing I thought was, didn't Suzu see Hisao without his shirt in the Nurse's office? Or did she only see him from the back?
She, uh, only saw him from the back, or his scar was covered by Nurse's stethoscope. Yeah, that's it. Haha. Ha. (Another example of how all this started off as a one-shot. Thanks for pointing that out.)

Guest wrote:
nemz wrote:I'm a bit disappointed in Hisao though. First he misses an obvious opportunity to share his affliction, then he doesn't walk with her to her room or at least the girls' dorm's front door? For shame, sir.
Definitely not the brightest kid. Pretty true to character.
Very good point, but I admit that I missed out on some potential there. That's one reason why I'm trying harder not to rush things out before passing out in the wee hours of the morning. However, it can lead to having things fully finished and proofread in the even wee-er hours of the morning. Like now.
Again, thank you, thank you, thank you very much to everyone who has taken the time to read and respond so far. It means quite a lot to me.
Sorry for the impending double (or triple or even... I don't want to think about it) post, but this next chapter spiraled completely out of control, and for the first time I'm worried about having post size and bricking the thread being an actual issue. I had to break the update into two chapters, hopefully I won't need to break it up any further.
One thing I forgot to mention: almost done with Act 2. Does it feel like it's been as long as journey as it has? I don't know.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Tue May 22, 2012 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Look Both Ways

Post by Scissorlips » Tue May 22, 2012 10:54 am

Look Both Ways

The next week plods along. The fuss of the festival has faded into memory, and the general mood of the school is subdued. The weather has been nice enough lately, and with nothing huge to look forward to everyone is focused on floating along in their classes, surviving their next test, or just doing little things to have fun and pass the time. There isn't a whole lot of excitement to be had at Yamaku or the sleepy town down the hill, but where there's a school full of teenagers, there's both a will and a way, always.

I sit at our table in the cafeteria with Miki, the boys have all gone up to jostle their place in the growing line for a shot at the best food. My best friend has pulled out all of the cute stops today, even though most of the group is immune to her charms by now, and Hisao and Taro agreed to grab something for us. So for the moment it's just me and her, as the sounds of the war being raged on food clatter and echo throughout the spacious dining hall.

“You did what?” Miki stares at me incredulously.

“I may have told Hisao that I would dress up for the track meet.” I grimace, squirming in my seat a little. Miki gives me a long look, the kind that she usually makes while chewing her food. At least this time I don't have to worry about her responding before she bothers to swallow.

“Two things.” She says after a few moments. “First, I'm proud of you. Second, this is an emergency and requires our full attention after class.”

“What do you mean an emergency?” I glance over my shoulder at the mob of people surrounding the cafeteria servers. Hisao and the others have finally broken off, looking like the triumphant members of a winning sports team as they begin to limp back towards us, bags of bread, drink cartons, and other goodies in hand.

“I've seen your closet, Suzu. Those puffy jackets you like might work in the winter, but it's gonna take some serious effort to make sure Hisao doesn't laugh you off the school grounds on Sunday.” She winks to soften the impact of the words, but I can't help but frown. Those jackets make great padding in case of sudden naps, but maybe she's right. I don't really have anything suited to the spring weather. To be honest, I don't go out very much, so there's usually no need to wear anything but my normal school uniform. And judging from his own taste in clothing, I doubt Hisao will really be that judgmental. Still, I can't back down now. The die's been cast, or something like that.

“Fine then, after school we'll draw up battle plans.” I say.

The boys have returned. “Who's fighting and why?” Taro asks, taking a seat next to us.

“Never you mind, Taro, it's girl stuff. Is that for me? Thanks!” Miki reaches for the bag of mutton bread laid on the table and quickly snatches it up.

“Actually, that was mine, I got you...” But she's already unwrapped the rare treat and started biting into the bread, an impressive feat for someone with only one hand to defeat a plastic bag so quickly. Miki still has trouble dealing with the loss of her hand when it comes to a lot of things, but I guess obtaining food is pretty high up the priority list for anyone. Sighing, Taro begins poking dejectedly at the bowl of noodles that remains before him. I pass him some of the crackers that Hisao deposits in front of me to cheer him up, and then begin digging into the rice that Miki had also guilted them into buying for us. Being cute has its advantages, but I'm usually not awake to notice them. Something tells me I don't want to get used to this, though.

I want to talk to Hisao, but he and Akio are already discussing the book that we're reading for the literature club this week. I try to follow along with what they're saying, but listening to them and eating my lunch at the same time becomes increasingly difficult. I can feel myself slipping away, despite the noise of the cafeteria and the fact that it's only lunch time. Against my wishes, my head begins to droop, a little at a time. The distance between my food and my mouth grows shorter and shorter with each passing moment. Chewing becomes an impossible task. Lunch break with friends, it was nice knowing you.

Just as I'm sure I'm about to pass out, I feel Miki's hand on my shoulder.

“Mind the chopsticks, Suzu.” She says, giving me a firm shake. Right, right. I blink away sleep. I could poke an eye out with those. It wouldn't be worth it. I don't even really like rice, at least not stuff they serve here anyway.

The bell's chime marks the end of class, and it couldn't come soon enough. Mutou says something about studying for a test coming up, but even that's not enough to stifle the collective sigh of relief that goes around the classroom.

I begin gathering my things, more than ready to escape. Hisao seems to have the same idea, as he's speeding in the direction of the door. He comes to a full stop when he reaches my desk, though.

“Hey,” He says, his bag slung over one shoulder. “You're still alive.”

“It would take the lectures of a thousand Mutous to defeat me.” Even as I say it, I reach up to cup my chin in one hand.

“Maybe so. But just surviving isn't enough sometimes.” Hisao smiles. He seems to have gotten a feel for when he should and shouldn't believe the things I say. Good.

“You have a point, sir...” I lean over to gaze past him at the lecture notes sprawling across the blackboard at the head of the class. Then regret doing that. Then grimace. Then lean back.

“Are you struggling that much?” Hisao says, making an effort not to sound condescending.

It's not my fault. I hate saying that, I know I don't get a free pass in life just because I'm not exactly the picture of normal. I know there are students here who have it much worse than me, like that girl in 3-4, who has no arms. Tezuka. How would you do anything with no arms? And she paints, too. I can't even imagine doing homework with no arms, much less works of art. She's weird though.

I notice that Hisao is still standing in front of my desk, waiting for a response. But I think I forgot the question. All I can think of now is that I'd probably be weird too if I didn't have any arms.

Hisao coughs. My head snaps back up, and I find myself staring straight into those deep brown eyes. Somehow, I can't seem to think about anything at all when we do this. He just looks at me, watching and waiting for me, and I just look at him, doing the same thing. I can't tell if this is a pause in the game or the best part.

I like it. But I hope it's not the best part.

“Still here?” Hisao finally asks, breaking the silence.

“Present and accounted for. Arms and all.”

“So it seems.” Hisao nods sagely, stroking an imaginary beard with one hand. “But can you do science?”

“Not at this rate.” I half moan, half sigh. He looks like he's waiting for me to go on, so I do.

“Everything we're learning about is building on top of something that we talked about earlier. I only catch bits and pieces of the lecture units, so I'm missing too much to understand what we're going over now. And the more I go back to look at the things I missed, the more things I miss in the meantime.” I feel like I'm ranting. Part of me knows that I would probably still be doing okay in this class if I made the effort to study thoroughly in my free time. But I guess I've been so distracted lately. Part of the reason for that is standing in front of me.

Hisao nods again. He doesn't look at me like I'm lazy, or like I'm stupid. But when he replies, I detect a note of pity, which is almost as bad.

“It sounds like you need a study partner.” He says.

“I tried that, but some people are highly unmotivated.” I glance over to my right and see Miki, standing next to the door of the classroom. Her cheeks are slightly puffed as she looks back at me, and she points at her wrapped wrist with a finger from her good hand. What.

“Unless you were making a suggestion?” I turn back to Hisao.

“Well, I do owe you for getting me into the literature club.” His words make sense, but he has a sly look on his face. That's more like it. This is far more interesting than pity. “If it will help you stay caught up in class, I--”

Before he can go any further I feel a hand--or more, a bandaged stump--wrap around my shoulder.

“Not today Hisao, she's mine.” Miki leans into me with her shoulder, before turning her head to whisper into my ear.

“Quit flirting, we have business to take care of.”

That wakes me up. I feel my face start to go a little red as Miki drags me out of my chair, again, showing remarkable skill for someone missing a hand.

“Sorry Hisao, important girl things to do. I'll bring her back in one piece, I promise!” Miki grins as she half drags, half steers me out of the classroom by the shoulders. I don't even have time to say goodbye. The last thing I see before I'm swept into the hallway is a bewildered and slightly disappointed looking boy, hands thrust in his pockets. 'I'll make it up to you!' I want to shout, but we're out of the classroom and headed down the hall in the blink of an eye.

“I wasn't flirting.” I protest as we make our way down the stairs. At the rate we're moving, I don't have time to worry about falling asleep, and all the bad things that would entitle right now. Being busy is kind of nice sometimes.

“You were and it was adorable, but we have work to do, Suzu.” Miki replies. I guess there's no escape. I made my bed, now I have to lie in it. That actually doesn't sound like such a bad idea, on second thought. Once there's no more stairs to deal with, anyway.

And so, here I am, standing in front of my mirror, on the day of the track meet. Miki had attacked my closet with reckless abandon, throwing winter coats, long sleeve shirts, and the few pairs of jeans I own all across my floor. A glance around my room reveals them to still be there. Right. I'll fix that. Maybe.

In desperation, Miki had brought over some of her own clothes for me to try on, but she's a bit... bigger... than me, in more ways than one. The various sundresses, tank tops, and other, even more revealing things she forced me to try on only made me look childlike in comparison to how they probably looked on her. I had ended up just going with a gray t-shirt, long enough to come down and cover half of a pair of brown shorts. My “fashion adviser” told me to wear a pair of long, striped socks to go with them. Personally I think they clash with my knee brace, but Miki, having exhausted all other options by this point, was content to declare me as “looking cute” and leave it at that.

I appreciate her efforts to help me out, but Miki is just more of a... sensual? Person than I am. I never really cared about dressing up or looking good for boys, I didn't really have a reason to. And as I stand here, gazing at the sleepy looking girl staring back at me in the mirror, I remember one of the reasons why I try not to care too much about my appearance.

I trace one hand over my exposed arm and elbow, feeling the memories, visible or otherwise, of countless scratches, bruises, bumps and jostles. A band aid here and there, a scar--my eyes narrow--in more places than I would like. The wounds always heal, but scabs and scars have no real meaning to me. They don't remind me of any particular mistake I've made or lesson I've learned, since I have no control over when I'm up and when I'm down. They aren't badges of honor, proof of enduring some painful operation or near death experience, like the scars that a few of the students wear proudly. They aren't even a dark secret, like the ones some others would hide away. They're just a constant reminder of my condition, something I can't stop, escape, or change.

My parents always said that we had to accept things that we have no control over in life. They've certainly had a lot of chances to put that philosophy to use over the years, and maybe one day I'll be able to think like that. I glance again at my image in the mirror. I might be used to the whole routine by now, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. The bruises and scratches up and down my limbs, the wide scar at the base of my hairline, the stiffness and lingering aches in my left knee. I pretend that it all doesn't bother me. It's all inevitable, really. It's happened before, and it will happen again. But I'm not like my parents, I can't just accept it so casually.

I think I hate it. But hate is such a strong word, and I don't have strength to spare on feelings like that. I can't stop to dwell on it, or on much of anything else, sometimes. Some things take longer to heal than others. Some things don't ever heal at all.

I shake my head back and forth, hoping to clear away the cloudy thoughts that linger inside. The track meet will be starting soon, I can't afford to hang around here much longer. One last peek at the mirror. I look okay. I mean, I'm not drop dead gorgeous. But I look cute. I'm cute. That's good enough for me, I think. And I never pretended to have curves like Miki, so it should be good enough for Hisao, hopefully. Why am I worried? This isn't even a date, it's just a track meet. What could go wrong?

Wait wait wait, no. Can I take back a thought? Can I--no, nope, no. I'm sure something horrible will happen and everything will be ruined forever. Yeah.

That was close.

We should be good now.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Tue May 29, 2012 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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I'm a writer for a visual novel project called Familiarity, where I go by the name Lunch.

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Gold Coast Hustle

Post by Scissorlips » Tue May 22, 2012 10:55 am

Gold Coast Hustle

Finally certain that I'm as ready as I'll ever be, I make my way outside and greet the warm weekend sun. The amount of people buzzing around the school grounds takes me by surprise, but then I remember that track meetings at Yamaku are pretty popular, since it's rare that we do things involving other schools in the area. I find myself slowly sucked into the wide trail of people headed towards the track. The intensity of the crowd surrounds me, the roar of voices, laughter and footsteps pressing me from every side. That's right. I don't know if I'd call the school that our competitors hail from a rival per say, but it's always good to know that Yamaku isn't the only place like this. Even in a country as relatively small as Japan, there are still enough people like me to fill more than one school for disabled teenagers. I can't help but wonder, somewhere out there, is another sleepy-headed girl headed out to watch her dark-skinned, one-handed friend compete? Are there more student councils manned by a deaf-mute and a... a... mobile drilling platform? What about their libraries, do other schools have librarians who flinch at the drop of--

My feet seem to have stopped moving. A shoulder bumps into me, then its owner disappears as quickly as they came. In my daydreaming, I had forgotten how much I hate crowds. A twinge of uneasiness creeps into my throat. If I were to fall asleep here, never mind the concrete, it would be the crushing feet of the people all around me that could prove fatal.

A familiar face emerges from the crowd. It's Lezard.

“Hey, should you really be out here by yourself?” He asks, eyebrows furrowed in concern. Or that could just be the sun in his eyes, he still looks like he bit into something sour recently.

“I'm waiting for someone.” I reply, trying to catch a glimpse of Hisao among the masses of people drifting past us. Lezard's eyes narrow.

“Yeah, I've heard that before.” He says simply, then turns and walks away, disappearing as quickly as he had come.

My classmate's words stir up old memories. I glance back towards the girls' dormitory, half expecting to see a girl sitting, perched on the steps, her arms wrapped around her knees. She would wait there for hours and hours, falling asleep, waking up, falling asleep again, but never moving. Waiting for someone who never came. Who wasn't coming. That girl was me, once. It's not now.

Hisao squeezes his way through the mob of people to stand next to me. My wait is over.

“You came after all.” I force a smile onto my face, hoping that the boy before me will say something to make my smile a genuine one.

“I try to keep my promises.” He says flatly, tucking his hands into his pockets. He seems to be enjoying the energy of the crowd about as much as I am, that is to say, not a whole lot. Hisao looks me up and down for a moment, taking in my outfit. It's awkward. He knows it. How are you supposed to do this normally? There should be a guidebook for this kind of thing. Maybe there is.

“You look cute.” He says with a smile. Yessssss. My own grin is now nowhere near fake.

“Thanks. Miki helped m--I mean, I just threw on whatever I had lying around.” Right, girl trade secret. That was close. “Where's your sweater vest?”

Hisao reveals himself to be vulnerable to simple distraction tactics. Worth noting. “I thought about wearing it, but didn't want to show you up.”

“Wait, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.” He fires off another jab, going for a two hit combo. “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?”

My smile grows even wider, I probably look silly but I can't help it. The Shakespeare again, he needs to stop, it's awful and corny and why do I love it it's stupid.

“Let's not and never say we did.” I retort. Again, he gives me that look like he doesn't believe the words I'm saying. I motion in the direction that the crowd is flowing, hoping that his ability to get distracted continues. I'm in luck, I think, as he nods and we begin following the rush of bodies.

We talk a little more as we begin walking towards the track. Even with all these people around, I can feel myself perking up. It's kind of strange, and kind of great. We reach the bleachers, where Hisao steps onto the first row and quickly begins moving upwards to get a better view.

“Lower, please.” I say, feeling deflated. He looks back at me, confused for a moment, but then nods in understanding.

“Oh, right. We don't want you falling off again, sorry.”

“It's okay.” We settle down in a spot somewhere near the middle of the stands, where we can still get a good view of the track but I'm less likely to break something in the event of a sleeping spell.

“They should be starting soon.” I'm craning my neck trying to spot Miki, but next to me, Hisao is glancing around the bleachers, probably trying to see if he can find any other familiar faces.

“Hey, there's Rin.” He says. I turn my head to follow his gaze and see the auburn-haired girl, sitting near the top of the bleachers next to an older looking woman.

Hisao waves for a moment, before quickly lowering his arm, a horrified expression creeping into his face. Rin doesn't seem to be as bothered by the fact that she can't return the gesture though, and cocks her head to one side quizzically. The woman sitting next to her laughs.

“I'm an asshole.” Hisao says through gritted teeth, turning back to watch the track. I can't help but laugh as well.

“You are not, you're just new. It's really not that big a deal, you'll get used to it.” Hisao nods, but he's still a little red in the face. It's cute. I watch him blush through half-lidded eyes, and realize that I'm starting to droop.

“Hey.” I poke him in the shoulder to get his attention. Hisao looks over at me, eyebrow raised.

“Wake me up.” I feel my body begin to slump towards him. “Quick.”

Hisao panics for a second, a tinge of red refusing to leave his face. For all his witty jabs, he isn't good at thinking on his feet sometimes. He reaches towards me with one hand to stop me from falling sideways onto him.

“Hey hey, it looks like they're starting. C'mon Suzu, look.”

I comply, turning my head to see the runners assembled on the track. There's Miki, second from the front, just behind the legless girl from 3-4. Ibarazaki, I think. She's tiny, but is made of pure fast, from what I can remember. She looks like a tiger, or I guess that would be a cheetah, I'm not good with animals. Either way, Ibarazaki--Emi, I think that's her first name--is crouched and ready to go. Behind her, Miki perches in an identical position, a determined look on her face. She's our class's best bet at this year's track meet, and even though the most important thing is that our school wins, I know she wants to be the one to come in first.

Hisao's ploy works, I feel myself waking up. I also still feel his hand keeping my weight from depositing my head on his shoulder, but he seems to have forgotten about it for the moment.

One of the officials raises a pistol to the air. Is that a real gun? Don't bullets eventually come down somewhere? What if it hits--bang.

The runners burst forward in a the blink of an eye, the same moment that Hisao's hand gives way. My head hits his shoulder with a plop, but we're both too entranced with the sight before us to notice. The athletes on the track are almost a blur, they look less like regular high school girls in gym shorts and more like machines, sleek, fluid in form, made only for one purpose. I'm too far away to see the look in Miki's eyes, but I don't need to. I've watched her lap around that same track enough to know the far away, entranced and joyful expression that's surely playing across her face.

Love of the sport isn't enough, though. The two of us watch with dismay as, despite our friend's best efforts, tiny little Ibarazaki seizes a firm grip on the head of the pack and refuses to let go. The runners cross the finish line, and people all around us cheer, but I can't stop myself from sighing.

“That was still really impressive!” Hisao says. The top of my head is just barely touching the side of his throat, and I feel the vibrations of his words. It feels nice.

“No matter what, Miki just can't seem to beat that one.” I yawn, despite the excitement all around. “Luckily for her, Miki isn't the jealous type.”

“Really?” Hisao asks. He apparently still hasn't decided what to do about the head resting on his shoulder. “She seems like she wouldn't be above getting even if you pissed her off enough.”

The image of an irate Miki pops into my head, complete with puffy cheeks. I can't help but giggle a little.

“That's actually very true. But she doesn't get mad over things like this.”

There's another shot, and the scene down at the track steals our attention again. Both Miki and Emi are participating in most of the events today, and every time, the girl who helps me wake up every morning just barely comes in second. That's okay, though. I'm not a child, I don't need my heroes to be perfect.

“Do you ever wish you could be like that?” I mumble. Hisao turns to glance at me, not an easy task in our current position.


“The way they move.” I watch the runners bolt around the track, my eyes at half mast. “The way they can focus only on one thing, going as fast as they can. Nothing else matters.”

Hisao nods. “I did a little running when I first got here. It's not my thing, but I can see why Emi and Miki like it so much.”

I nod, which, at this angle, only has the effect of nuzzling my head deeper into Hisao's shoulder. So be it.

“She tried to get me to run with her a few times, back when we first started hanging out. It didn't go very well. But I would sit and watch her do laps, and I always wished I could be like her. They just look so free, when they're in the middle of a run like that.”

I close my eyes slowly, then force myself to open them again. “Like they could just sprout wings and fly away.”

Hisao gives me a strained smile, looking at me the same way he did when I was explaining my narcolepsy. In this moment, I'm jealous of Miki, for being able to do something as pure and simple as running. And I'm a little jealous of Hisao, too. Whatever it is that's landed him at Yamaku, he was still able to run. And he's still able to cheer on a friend at the track meet without feeling like he's about to--

Oh, I'm about to pass out. That explains it. Come on Suzu, come on. I muster up the effort to look back at the track. It's the relay race already, the last event. I have to cheer Miki on, I have to!

I try to raise my head, but it suddenly feels like it's made out of stone. I need to give my friend a yell, pump my arm in the air, something like that. But I also need a nap. Yeah, that's probably the best course of action right now. In fact, that's the best plan I can possibly come up with at the moment. It makes perfect sen...

I raise my head. I don't remember folding my arms across my chest. But then again, I don't remember Hisao leaving, either. Or sitting down at this table and setting up this--oh. Yeah.

The chair across from me is conspicuously empty. The pieces are still set up the same as last time--was that last time? I think so. The red pips laid out on my side of the screen tell me that I'm winning. In fact--that's right! I'm only one turn away from winning. From ending this game.

But I can't win if I don't have an opponent. I glance around to my left and right and see nothing but the same vast blackness that goes on and on in every direction.

Maybe I don't want him to come back. Maybe I can just announce my move and call it good. Oh well.

“Hello?” I call out. My voice echoes. That's new, I think. “Is anyone there?”

No response. I slowly stand up. This is probably another trick of some kind, I take another look around. But I don't see anyone, or anything. No cloaked skeletons, no fake Hisaos or lunchroom staff or...

With nothing better to do, I walk around to the other side of the table. What does it say about my life if even my dreams are boring? Just as I'm about to come into view of my opponent's side of the game, though, I feel something reach out and ensnare my hand.

My eyes shoot open. The darkness of that vast, tiny room is washed away in a torrent of sunlight, and the roar of the crowd and afternoon heat come rushing back. My hand is being held high above my head, wrapped tightly in that of the boy next to me.

“Go, Miki! You can do it!” Hisao yells. I stare at him as I blink away the last vestiges of my nap, but he doesn't notice my gaze. He must have moved me back into a sitting position in order to grab my hand and raise it high in a cheer.

I think I need a drink, my face is on fire.

The noises from the crowd all around us intensify, and I tear my gaze back to the track below us. The runners are crossing the finish line. Once again, the girl with the prosthetic legs is taking first place, with Miki just trailing behind.

I dozed off, when my best friend needed me to cheer her on the most. I feel terrible, even though I know it's not my fault. I can't help but wonder if I could have made even the tiniest difference. If I had been there, yelling along with Hisao, would she have heard us? Would she have gotten a second wind, soared across the track, and left the legless wonder in her dust? All I know is that I can't know for sure. I still feel bad.

The hand in mine is slowly pulling away as the people around us begin to stand up and disperse with the end of the events. Hisao looks over, and, upon seeing that I'm awake, immediately lets go.

“Sorry.” He says, giving an embarrassed smile. “I figured it was what you would probably be doing, if you could.”

I give a slow nod, still not feeling fully awake yet. “It's all right.” I don't mind, although I can't help but wonder if he has the guts to do something like that when I'm awake yet. Probably not. But then again, I doubt I'm much better. Oh well.

Wanting to bring an end to this awkward moment, I stand up, stretching my arms above my head. Being outside on a nice day like this feels great, I'm glad I'm wearing a t-shirt and shorts, even if I don't have much to show off. Was I worried about that? I don't know why I was worried. Hisao is still here next to me, even if I don't have a chest like Miki's. Speaking of Miki...

“Let's go congratulate the winners.” I say.

“Good idea.” Hisao nods.

The crowd is beginning to thin now that the excitement is over. We make our way down towards the track, where all the members of the Yamaku team are gathered around their star runner, the girl with the twin-tails hairstyle and no legs. But that last part isn't that unusual around here.

Just as I expected, Miki is congratulating Emi along with the rest of them. Her skin is glistening with sweat, she almost looks like she's glowing. I'm glad that, even if she couldn't take first place, the thrill of helping win the track meet for our school is enough to make my friend shine with happiness.

The entire track team is still absorbed in celebrations. I feel someone walk up to stand next to me.

I have a bad feeling about this, and turn to see Rin Tezuka, standing there staring back at me with those dark, impassive eyes.

Ulp. We've never really talked. Well, we have. But I don't know if you could call what Rin does “talking”. She says things that make even me seem like a dedicated observer. But she's not entirely spacey, I don't think. It's more like she's wearing ten different pairs of glasses at the same time. I think back to a few days ago, when I was trying to imagine doing the simplest thing without arms. I guess you'd have to see things in a different light in order to live like that.

“Hello.” Rin's deadpan voice brings me back to the present. She's giving me a look that somehow manages to be both incredulous and impassive at the same time.

“Hi.” I say, then gesture to the track team. “Which one's yours?”

“The short one.” Rin inclines her head in the general direction of Ibarazaki. I guess that's as close as she can come to pointing someone out. I swallow any pity that I might be starting to feel, knowing that my time at Yamaku has taught me better. The most important thing about the girl in front of me is that she's weird, not that she has no arms. That's all I care about at the moment.

While we're waiting for Emi and Miki to notice us, respectively, Hisao and Rin exchange greetings. I should have guessed from his attempted wave earlier, but it seems they know eachother. It makes me wonder where he would be now if me and Miki hadn't snatched him up, but then again, he wasn't exactly beating off girls with a stick on the day of the festival. So I suppose I don't feel guilty.

Finally, at least one person on the track team takes notice of us. I see Emi look up, her cheeks still flushed from her victory. She's flashing a wide grin as she bounces over on her prosthetics.

“Hisao! I wasn't expecting to see you here!” She chirps. This half-girl, half-machine in front of me beams with seemingly boundless energy. If this were a science fiction novel, I'm pretty sure being this near to her would have caused me to explode in some sort of matter/anti-matter reaction.

I scoot one step closer to Hisao.

“Hey Emi, it's good to see you. Yeah, they asked me to come cheer you guys on.” He replies, returning her bright smile. I don't see how anyone couldn't with a face like hers, but still. I take another tiny, tiny step closer. “You've obviously been keeping in shape.” He adds.

Emi clasps her hands behind her back, grinning proudly. I guess I'm not the only one that Miki puts to shame.

“Damn right I have!” But then her expression shifts to one of confusion. “Wait, who's 'they'?”

“Hi-” I begin to say, but the appearance of Miki herself cuts me off.

“Yo!” She waves her good hand at us, striding over to wrap an arm around my shoulder and squeeze tightly. She does that a lot.

“That would be us.” She grins, the tiniest bit of cheekiness in her voice. Emi blinks a couple times in complete surprise, although her smile only goes down by the tiniest notch.

“Hi.” Now seems like the best time to throw that out there. I accompany the greeting with a yawn. I can't help it, even though I just slept, being in this close proximity to a fiery ball of energy with metal legs wears me out.

“Hi. Suzuki, right? I don't think we've met.” Emi's bright smile masks the slight narrowing of her eyes. Rin, who had somehow disappeared and has now reappeared next to her friend, frowns vacantly at the scene.

“We haven't. But, uh, I've heard a lot about you.” I feel like this conversation is going nowhere very quickly. Luckily, my rescue arrives in the form of one of the male members of the track team.

“Hey Emi, Miki! You guys are going to miss the medal ceremony!” He says. Emi goes back to flashing her brilliant smile. If I could, I would fish a pair of sunglasses out of my pocket to protect me from the glare.

“Oh yeah, thanks!” She replies, before turning back to us. “Are you coming, Miki?”

“Nahh, screw the medal ceremony, it's boring as hell.” Miki bats her stump in the air dismissively before wrapping her other arm around Hisao, and I immediately notice Emi's smile fade another notch. Seeing her slowly start to look more and more put out gives me a sort of strange satisfaction, although I wouldn't admit it.

“C'mon guys, whaddaya say we get something to eat? I'm starving.” Miki says, looking back and forth between me and Hisao. It's obvious that the other two girls aren't invited. Out of the corner of my eye I see Emi's lips are drawn in a pouty line. It's cute. ...Too cute. I make a mental note to practice pouty faces in the mirror later tonight. I don't know if I can pull it off, but it seems like such a neat trick that it would be worth a try.

“But don't you want to stay for your silver medal, Miki?” I ask.

“And it's Sunday, don't you have homework and stuff like that?” Hisao chimes in.

“Forget it. I can pick that up any time. And as for homework, let's see if we can find a dog somewhere along the way to eat it.” Miki's grip around our shoulders tightens. She grins at us, and I can't stop myself from smiling back. She might not have taken home the gold, but there are things that are more important than trophies. And besides, there's no saying no to Stumpfist sometimes.

We take off from the grounds, leaving a perturbed Emi behind us, and begin heading down the hill towards the sleepy town that sits below Yamaku. This is the first time that the three of us have ever left the school together before, but Hisao claims that he's come this way to do some shopping in the last few weeks. The evening sun hangs high in the sky as we carefully make our way down the steep hill.

Who puts a school at the top of a hill like this anyway? What do the students in wheelchairs think? Maybe they should install a system like they have at one of those foreign ski parks that I've read about, the one that involves a rope, constantly being pulled forward and you just grab it and hold on. But how would that work on concrete instead of snow... maybe provide each student with a pair of rollerblades? No, no, I'm pretty sure that's an even worse idea than building a school on top of a steep hill in the first place.

I sigh. Back to square one then, all that for nothing.

“Something bothering you?” Miki nudges me in the side. We always stick close together when we're walking into town, the thought of passing out now and maybe rolling down the hill is so horrifying that I don't even want to think about it but I guess I just did.

“Nope. Where do you want to eat?” I respond, trying to shake the mental image from my head.

“Hmm.” Miki looks thoughtful as we finally reach the outskirts of the small town. It's mostly populated by old people, and they've gotten used to the occasional disabled kid in a Yamaku uniform wandering into their midst, so our arrival barely even attracts any notice.

“Well, there's the Shanghai.” Hisao says. Miki and I exchange glances. That must be something that rubbed off on him from his time with the Shizune and Misha. Well, we can fix that.

“Nah, the Shanghai is boring.” Miki looks back at me, and I nod. “We have a better idea.”

“Ta-da!” Miki gestures to the restaurant before us with her good hand.

“'The Beijing'?” Hisao squints as he reads the sign above the door.

“You got it. C'mon, c'mon, let's go!” The Student Council might have grabbed him by the arms and led him inside, but Miki marches up to the door and pushes it aside before quickly waltzing in. I follow suit, looking back at Hisao, who shrugs and begins walking after me.

The inside of the Beijing is as bright and shiny as the outside. It's a small establishment, probably much more modern and sleek than the elderly townspeople would prefer. The menu is cheap but everything still tastes good, so it's a popular spot for students who are willing to risk being late back to class if it means an escape from the cafeteria or vending machines at the school.

A server grimaces at us as we enter. “We're closed.” He says.

“Piss off Lezard, we're hungry.” Miki counters, immediately headed to our usual booth. I stop to wave at the chef in the back of the restaurant, barely visible through the space that provides a glimpse of the kitchen.

“Hi Taro!” I call.

“Hey~!” The sing-song voice that comes back brings a smile to my face. A lot of people seem to get grumpier when they're at work, but Taro seems to genuinely enjoy being here. It's nice to see him in his element, so to speak.

“Hi, Lezard. Is that Taro?” Hisao stands next to me, craning his neck to get a better view. “I didn't know students were allowed to have jobs.”

“You're allowed, as long as you get permission from the school first and prove that you can keep up with your classes.” I explain. Lezard continues to scowl at us, even though I leave out the part about needing the extra income to help offset the cost of tuition. Some people have it better than others, and it can be easy to forget that a place like Yamaku doesn't come cheap.

“Taro can cook?” Hisao's expression goes from curious to downright puzzled.

“He's mostly here in case a door breaks and we need a battering ram to get it open.” Lezard says dryly.

“His cooking is a lot better than whatever you do with one hand!” Miki's voice rings out from a corner of the restaurant. Lezard rolls his eyes, but his sour expression tells me that it's time to take our seats.

We walk towards the booth where Miki and I always sit, but I notice that she's still standing next to the table. I have another bad feeling about this. Looking only slightly apprehensive, Hisao sits down at one end of the table. I move to sit at the opposite side, but Miki gently grabs me and starts pushing me towards the same side as him.

“What are you doing?” I whisper.

“Shut up! Just do it, gaylord.” She whispers back. Her cheeks are puffed, but her eyes are sparkling.

And so I end up plopping down next to Hisao. Luckily, he was too busy inspecting the menu to notice our little exchange. He stares at the laminated folds of paper as if they were a delicacy in themselves.

“Never seen a menu before?” Miki asks. Hisao frowns.

“Not since I've moved here, no.”

“And that is one of the reasons why we don't go to the Shanghai.” Miki grins.

The most unenthusiastic waiter ever arrives at our table. “Welcome to the Beijing, what do you want.” Lezard croaks. His bow of greeting is barely more than a slight inclination of the head.

Miki demands something sweet while Hisao orders a sandwich and juice, and I ask for a side of spring rolls and a tall cup of coffee. The walk into town is starting to take its hold on me. I just hope I can hold out until my drink arrives.

...This proves to be too much to ask for though, as I pass out shortly after. My dream is hazy, clouded, devoid of board games. The kind I like. Before long though, voices start to break through, and I find myself drifting back to reality.

“...were pretty incredible out there. I don't think that other school will forget how bad we beat them any time soon.” Hisao is saying.

I decide to keep my eyes shut for the moment.

“You got that right.” Miki responds, her words punctuated by what are probably bites of her dessert. “We could have pulled it off without Emi, but she did go a long way in helping them eat our dust. Plus, she's pretty cute.” Knowing Miki, that last part ended with a wink.

“Well...” Hisao starts, but then gives in. “Yeah, she is. I guess that's a scientific fact.”

I'm reminded again to test out some of the pouty faces I witnessed today in the mirror. But what happens next steals my attention.

“Speaking of cute, though...” Miki trails off, and I can almost feel two pairs of eyes on me. Oh god. Act natural. Just breathe. And don't snore. Was I snoring before? I don't snore, do I?

“Yeah. This one's pretty cute, too. That's more like a scientific theory, I think.”

“A scient-what?”

“It's when there's an observed phenomenon that's--”

“Never mind, forget that.” Miki interrupts. I hear the clatter of her spoon being set down. “Since you could say I finally have you alone, I have a question for you, Hisao.”

I'm sure that next to me, Hisao is making that vaguely uneasy face that I've come to expect from him in situations like this.

“Shoot, I guess.”

Miki clears her throat. “Hisao, what do think..."

"...what do you think of me?” She asks, all traces of jest gone from her voice.


There's a pause that feels like it lasts for centuries, but in reality probably only goes on for a few seconds.

What. What? What.

“What.” Hisao sounds like he's choking on a bite of his sandwich. Miki erupts in laughter.

“You didn't--why do they always--I can't believe you fell for that!” She says between gasps for air. I feel my stomach begin to unclench. I hadn't realized it was tensing up in the first place. But then things begin to fall into place.

“I'm joking, I'm joking, geez. You'd better not be dying because I don't think I can do the heimlich maneuver.”

“Besides,” she says, “even if I wasn't kidding--which I was--I've seen the way you look at her.”

Oh. Uh oh. Act normal Suzu, act normal. I'm a leaf on the wind. I'm a master spy. I'm undetectable.

There's another long pause, and I can feel their eyes on me again. I feel my pulse quicken. I hope they can't tell, but I think only some animals can pick up on things like that. Or is that fear? That they smell? I don't know.

“Serious talk here for a second, Hisao.” Miki says. “Suzu is a sensitive girl. There's a lot of shit that's been thrown her way and even if it doesn't look like it bothers her, some of it does.”

“I was starting to get worried about her for a while, but she's cheered up a lot since you've been hanging out with us. I like that. Suzu is like a little sister to me. And if I find out you've made my little sister cry...”

I hear the cracking of knuckles. How Miki manages it with one hand is a mystery. Maybe it's one of Stumpfist's superpowers. I'm certainly feeling a little in awe right now. I hope I'm not blushing. I probably am.

“Let's just say you might receive an offer that you can't refuse. An offer to have a horse's head in your bed.”

Hisao takes a long sip of his juice. “...I have no idea where that's from and even then I'm sure you mangled it somehow.” He responds tentatively.

“Oh well.” I can almost hear Miki shrug and then wink. “My offer stands though. Horse's head. Bed. I don't even know where to find a horse but I will if you make me.”

“I promise I will not make you kill a horse to get back at me, or whatever it is your offer entails." He replies. "Besides, I don't think that even counts as an offer either, that's totally a threat.”

“Same difference." Miki retorts lightly. I hear the sounds of her eating her sweets resume.

“I'll hold you to that promise, though. And if you're going to do something, do it soon.” She says through mouthfuls. That's my Miki--wait, what?

Hisao takes a few long moments to formulate a response. The sound of my heartbeat fills the silence.

“I will. I want to. I'm planning on it.” He says, managing to sound fond, nervous, and somehow wistful all at once.

“I just need it to go right this time.”

Artwork by Thighs: Gold coast hustle

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Last edited by Scissorlips on Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:50 am, edited 6 times in total.
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I'm a writer for a visual novel project called Familiarity, where I go by the name Lunch.

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/22)

Post by bradpara » Tue May 22, 2012 11:23 am

Nice writing. I like how this relationship is progressing and can see them beacoming an offical couple very soon.
Family Game Night A Shizune After Story Fic

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