Freefall [Updated, Chapters 7 & 8]

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CrossRook
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Freefall [Updated, Chapters 7 & 8]

Post by CrossRook » Wed May 16, 2012 7:56 pm

Obligatory Jacket Blurb: Ritsu Tainaka is a student at Yamaku High, a specialty school for the disabled. But when a new student is found dead in an apparent suicide, Ritsu must journey into the seedy underbelly of the school. Just who was Hisao Nakai? Why does he have five girls overly concerned with his demise? "Freefall," a thriller from 'Compromised' writer CrossRook will have you at the edge of your chair as Ritsu must fight off demons, personal and physical to uncover the truth.

So I know Ritsu was included as a joke/reference character, but what Yamaku really needed was a hardboiled detective. Someone willing to get their hands dirty. At the same time, I didn't want to do an OC character as I have a really long story about a bunch of OC characters already. Ritsu, despite having Carpal Tunnel, would be physical active enough to go through the rigors of being a detective. So here's Chapter 1: Thirty-Two Bar.

I’d say that the sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel, but I haven’t seen a tube TV in years now. The rain hit the glass of my dorm room window near silently. A May rain, cloaked in the heat and the humidity of the coming summer but missing all the ferocity of a thunderstorm. It had been a dark week.

I leaned back in my desk chair, pushing the papers around on my desk. Mutou had assigned us homework over the past week but never got around to discussing it. The whole school was in a bad way, especially 3-3. Death is never easy, especially at such a young age.

I picked up my notebook. Small and leather-bound, it held most of my private thoughts and notes. I’ve had it for years now, and it’s almost out of pages. Sort of fitting, considering it’s my last year of high school. Enough room for a few more months, I think. I slipped the elastic cover off it and worked my fingers through the pages. There’s a certain satisfaction you get when tracing your way through your own recorded thoughts and memories, and the finality of ink on paper. It feels so worn, so lived in. Almost something I should be proud of.

There was a knock at the door. Unusual and unexpected. I took my feet off the desk, replaced the elastic band around my notebook and placed it on the surface with the rest of my mess. I sat up from the chair and walked over to the door, peaking out through the fisheye peephole to see who was at my door.

Long, dark purple hair, hand covering on side of her face, left eye fidgeting in its socket. She was nervous, but then again Hanako Ikezawa was always nervous. It was unusual, Ikezawa was not known for leaving her comfort zone. She rarely was seen without her better half, Lilly Satou. I supposed I better had let her in; she wouldn’t have come up all the way to the fourth floor of the dormitories without a good reason. I unlocked the door and opened it wide, showing both my hands. I knew she was prone to scares, so I had to be as open as possible. She stood there, mouth trembling, words at the tip of her tongue.

“Do you want to come in, Ms. Ikezawa?” I asked.

She nodded, and I stood to the side, beckoning her in. I motioned for her to sit on my bed.

“I’m going to make some coffee. Would you like a cup?”

“S-sure,” she said.

Alright, she’s talking, I thought. I was lucky to have my own coffeemaker. Smuggled in under the cover of night, or rather, in the bright of day in my suitcase after last summer vacation, the little device had kept me awake through many a long night. I set the machine to brew two cups, then sat back down at my desk, turning my chair to face Ikezawa.

“Okay, Ms. Ikezawa, what can I help you with? You look shook up.” A blatant lie, she looked like hell. In the dim light of my room I could see bags under her exposed eye, and her eye itself was red. She’d been crying. Now that I was thinking back, I realized she hadn’t been in class much over the past week. Since… the incident.

“I-I… I-I-I h-heard f-fr-from some people… t-t-that…”

“Slow down, take it easy.” Damsel in distress. What a cliché.

She took a deep breath and started again. “I-I heard… that you… y-you used to l-look into… things.” She pronounced the last word as if it were a disease.

“I used to be a member of the journalism yes. But not for a while now. I don’t do that anymore.” I admit I had a little bit of the muckraking spirit in me but my days as a reporter were over. Kicked out of the club, off the paper, abandoned and alone.

“P-Please… y-you have to help me.”

“I don’t know if I can Ms. Ikezawa. After last time,” she must have heard about last time. Everyone had. “…after last time, too much went wrong. I don’t do that anymore.”

“B-B-B-But you must… I’m s-scared… I d-didn’t know where to go… w-who t-to trust. Y-You didn’t know him… y-you're safe.”

“Know who?”

“Hisao. Hisao Nakai.”

The jumper. Found dead a weak ago that morning, head smashed against the school courtyard. An empty bottle of whiskey found on the roof above. Textbook suicide. Kid transferred to a new school because of a condition he never realized he had, something that changed his life. Couldn’t take the change. Got loaded the night of the festival and jumped.

“Nakai? Nakai committed suicide.”

She looked like she was ready to bawl, eyes watery like the puddles outside. I glanced at her shoulders. She was wet, she’d been out in the rain. It wasn’t a cold rain, but…

“Here,” I said, draping a blanket over her shoulders, “You’re shivering.”

The coffeemaker went off, so I walked over and poured out two cups. I’d forgotten to ask if she wanted cream, but I didn’t have any anyway. I handed her the cup and sat back down, sipping the dark liquid. She raised the cup with two hands to her lips, the steam obscuring her face further.

“Tell me about Nakai,” I said.

“H-He… h-he was n-nice. D-Different from the others… h-he saw m-my scars b-but looked past t-them r-right away. I t-thought w-we were b-becoming f-friends. A-And then…”

“Then he jumped.”

She shook her head. “N-No. H-Hisao w-was sad… depressed, e-even. But he w-wouldn’t do t-that.”

“It happens, every so often. You have to accept it.”

“NO!” She yelled, eye full of anger and rage and… sadness, loneliness. “H-Hisao was ready… ready to s-start over.”

She did know him better than I did. All I remember about Nakai was his introduction. Mutou had to introduce him, he was too shy. He sort of stood there, wringing his wrists. I looked down at my own wrists then, there with Ikezawa. The black splints ran from halfway up my hand to halfway down my forearms. Instinctively I picked up my coffee cup, hoping to distract myself from my own issues.

“T-Tainaka… p-please… you have to help me with this.”

“With what, exactly?”

“I-I think… no, I-I’m s-sure… Hisao was murdered.”
Last edited by CrossRook on Fri May 25, 2012 12:16 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Freefall

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu May 17, 2012 8:26 am

Very well written. I have so far only seen a few episodes of K-on (though I hope to remedy that soon, now that the dvd box is out) but I think you have to take a few liberties with her character to make her a hard-boiled detective...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: Freefall

Post by acewing905 » Thu May 17, 2012 8:59 am

I don't know much about K-On!, but this is probably going to be the only Hisao death centred fic that I'll read. I was hooked from the dramatic "jacket blurb" itself. :lol:
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Re: Freefall

Post by turbulentDuvet » Thu May 17, 2012 10:00 am

Ah, more original thoughts <3 I love it and I'm looking foward to your next installment. I think you captured Hanako perfectly ^^
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Re: Freefall

Post by CrossRook » Thu May 17, 2012 3:48 pm

Thanks for the comments guys. Chapter 2, coming up.

Chapter 2: First Verse
I was walking through the little town next to Yamaku. It provided things most everyone needed, a convenience store, shops, restaurants, housing for the teachers and staff. The town was grateful to have Yamaku, and most of the students could walk around without being stared at. People were used to us there. At least, some of us. There was a kid in year 2 who was missing an arm. His hook still got looks.

I rummaged through my green canvas messenger bag for my camera. An old digital camera, it nonetheless got the job done. More useful in my journalism days but came in handy for a number of other reasons. I took a picture of the Shanghai from the outside. I’d been there a number of times before; it was a popular hangout for Yamaku students. But any evidence helped, and I thought better when I had a visual line of progression.

A couple of snaps of the outside and of students sitting in the booths near the windows and I put my camera back in my bag. I walked up to the front doors, pushing one open and crossing the threshold. While waiting to be greeted by Yuuko, the waitress, I took my time to observe the occupants of the crowded teahouse.

For eight o’clock in the evening, the place was packed. Yamaku students mostly, though I recognized few uniforms from a high school the district over. Small groups crowded the high booths and tables. Scanning the crowd, I Maeda sitting with Lamperouge, the aphasic. I heard a crash and a shrill apology off somewhere in the back. Yuuko was busy, so I walked over to Maeda’s table.

“Ah, Takashi, my good friend,” I said standing over them.

Maeda was sipping a cup of some green liquid. Tea, I presume. Lamperouge was eating a sandwich and drinking juice.

“Ritsu,” Maeda responded.

“Mind if I sit down? This place is packed.”

Maeda’s face shifted. His normally droll and bored look flashed with a bit of anger and resent, then back to normal. He gave me a fake smile.

“Not at all,” finally came the response.

The table was square, with the two boys facing each other. I pulled out the chair closest to the door and sat down between them. I took my hat off and placed it on the table.

“Why don’t you take off your bag, stay a while?” asked Maeda.

“There’s no need, it’s just going to be a short visit.”

Maeda cocked an eyebrow. Lamperouge put down his sandwich and looked at me.

“I need some information,” I said to Maeda, “I’m looking into something. I need Lelouch.”

“What’s in it for us?”

“Don’t give me that, Takashi. You owe me, you owe me good. Might I remind you of last year’s incident?”

Maeda was dragged through the mud last year when someone accused him of copying other people’s paintings. I cleared his name but he’s always resented me for it. He thought he could do it himself. He couldn’t, but would never admit as much.

He scowled now, crossing his arms.

“Don’t ask me, he’s sitting right next to you,” he said, nodding over to Lamperouge.

A deflection. Maeda was the only one who ‘got’ Lamperouge so they were nearly inseparable. Lived next to each other for three years now. Lamperouge was so grateful to have someone understand him that he pretty much did whatever the artist said. But Maeda had thrown the ball in my court, given me the go-ahead. A win, in my book. I turned to the poet.

“Lelouch, are you willing to help me out?”

Lamperouge looked from side to side, then over at Maeda, pleading for an answer from his friend. For his part, Maeda nodded slightly. Mimicking his motions, Lamperouge nodded slowly and turned his head to me. A yes.

“You see everything, Lelouch. But you don’t say anything. That’s why you’re good to have around,” I started. “What did you see about Hisao Nakai?”

In my peripheral vision, I saw Maeda uncross his arms. His face went white. Lamperouge was no different. Blood drained from his skin. Everyone was still recovering from the shock of his death. Like I’ve said before, death is a part of a school like this but it still hits everyone hard. Nobody wants to see anyone go, though him being new meant less pain for most people to go through. I guess Ikezawa didn’t get that message.

Lamperouge began talking, his words fumbling and stammering out of his mouth. “Pentagram… pentacle… no, no, constant harmony? Yes, that. Constant harmony of… o-of…” He frowned, lost on the word. “Venus? Venusian… chakusai… s-sokushitsu… Constant Harmony of Venus.”

As usual, Lamperouge’s ramblings would have to be translated. He was a good source of information, though it had to be parsed out. I looked over at Maeda. He glowered. I raised my eyebrows. He sighed.

“Five,” he said, “Five girls.”

Lamperouge nodded emphatically.

“Nakai… was involved with five girls?” I asked allowed.

Maeda shrugged. “That’s what he says.”

“Who were they, Lelouch?”

Lamperouge motioned for a pen. Clearly he needed to think things through more thoroughly. I took a pen and my notebook out of my bag and handed them to him. He solemnly opened the book to a fresh page and began writing. Words, unrelated to anything, appeared on the page, got crossed out, and replaced. He worked like this for a few minutes, then handed me back the notebook. I glanced at Maeda.

“Your on your own, when he gets to writing like that I don’t think I’ll be much help.”

I glanced down at the list. Five names, or rather, five descriptions.

‘1. Wilting Flower
2. Sight for Sore Eyes
3. Deckard of the Track
4. Two Van Gogh
5. Bird With No Wings’

This was going to be difficult. I got up from the table, thanked the two for their help and left the teahouse. I’d make coffee when I got back. I had work to do now. I had to go somewhere I could think. I replaced my hat and started walking back to school. Rummaging through my satchel, I pulled out my pack of cigarettes.

I didn’t like smoking- Wait, that’s a lie, I do. I like it a lot. I don’t like that I smoke though. I coughed and smelled like shit and it was expensive. But it calmed my nerves, especially those in my wrists. It was relaxing and let me think. I’m justifying, I know.

Taking a cigarette out of the pack, I held it in my lips as I put the box back. I felt around for my zippo, which always fell to the bottom of the bag. Pulling it out, the flick of the metal opening was enough to get my brain ready for the nicotine infusion. Lighting the smoke and taking a puff, the smoke filled my vision and my lungs. It felt good.

I stopped walking for a minute to lean against a brick wall. My life was a cliché. Wilting flower… wilting flower… wait. Ikezawa’s first name was Hanako. Flower Girl. Wilting because she’s always shy. She’s one of the five.

Time to get cracking on the others.

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Re: Freefall

Post by DaGarver » Thu May 17, 2012 3:55 pm

Very well written so far. I like the idea of turning this into a detective story a la Law and Order. Most of Lelouch's references are pretty obvious, but it took me a moment to figure out why Shizune was Two Van Gogh: Van Gogh is famous for cutting off his ear and sending it to his mistress (deafness), and Shizune is part of a pair with Misha, hence Two. Subtle, I like it.

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Re: Freefall

Post by andros414 » Thu May 17, 2012 4:15 pm

CrossRook wrote: I glanced down at the list. Five names, or rather, five descriptions.

‘1. Wilting Flower
2. Sight for Sore Eyes
3. Deckard of the Track
4. Two Van Gogh
5. Bird With No Wings’
1. Hanako
2. Lilly
3. Emi
4. Shizune
5. Rin

Kinda obvious to me, but they sound rather appropriate.
Shizune > Emi = Hanako > Lilly > Rin

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Re: Freefall

Post by CrossRook » Thu May 17, 2012 6:08 pm

andros414 wrote:Kinda obvious to me, but they sound rather appropriate.
Well the idea is that they are five students (and the five KS girls) but Ritsu doesn't necessarily know them. She's run with a different crowd. Hell, the amount to which the girls know each other is up for debate, besides the obvious friendships. Lelouch knows them by appearance and personality but they weren't around for him to say "those five," so he did the best he could.

Edit: picture added.
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Re: Freefall

Post by CrossRook » Fri May 18, 2012 1:33 pm

Chapter 3: Bridge
Turning the corner, I saw the room. Unremarkable and indistinct from the other dorm rooms. No picture or name, as Yamaku custom. But people knew who’s room this was, at least after the poor kid had gone. No flowers or notes, but I suppose that was understandable. Nobody really knew him well enough to honor him.

The hallway was quiet. This particular wing was nearly empty, I’d noticed when reviewing the room assignment list before I’d headed down to town this evening. It was night now and I’d snuck in through a bathroom window. Snooping was best left for the cover of darkness. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d broken into another student’s dorm room, though they’d never been dead before.

I searched around my bag for the thin leather case. My fingers felt the worn hide and I pulled it out. I’d made the case in a fashion class I’d regrettably taken out of some scrap leather. It served its purpose well. Opening the clasp on its side, I unraveled the case to reveal its contents. Fully unraveled it was about 10 by 15 centimeters but what it held was more important. A few bent sewing needles, a few paper clips a universal key for most of the doors at the school and my most prized of tools, an honest-to-god lockpick. I’d picked it up at a travelling flea market. It was a perfect fit for most of the dorm room locks.

Slipping out the pick and one of the needles, I threaded them into the door lock and started working them around the tumblers. It wasn’t hard, just painstaking. Eventually I popped the last one and the handle turned easily. Perfect, I was in.

Stepping inside and closing the door over, I turned on the light. I have to admit, it was not what I was expecting. Most dorms are dirty, but this had been ransacked. Clothes strewn about the floor, mattress lifted off the bed, dresser moved out of place. A dozen or two pill bottles littered the floor. I picked one up, ‘Verapamil.’ Patient: Hisao Nakai. Heart problems, eh? The bottle was empty. I picked up the next one. Same story, heart medication in an empty bottle. Someone had come along and taken the pills. But why not the bottles?

Someone with experience with these kinds of medication, obviously. They knew enough about them to identify them without bottles. I need to find this person who was feint of heart. This was starting to look much less cut and dry.

But that wasn’t the only clue. Whoever had come for the medications would have no reason to tear the room apart. With this many bottles it’d be impossible to hide them, and given that he had to take these daily that would be pointless. He probably kept them on top of the dresser, ready to pop them down every morning and evening. No, there was something else here they were looking for. Hell, it could have been two people. One came for the meds and another for the secret. Now the question is, did they find it? More questions and no answers.

I supposed I should look around myself, see what I could glean about the late Hisao Nakai from his personal effects. Twenty to thirty books were scattered around the mess, none of them marked as being from the Yamaku library. An avid reader then. A pair of unused soccer shorts. Newfound heart condition had probably put a hamper on his playing ability. Notebooks with a few bits of chicken scratch about Mutou’s lecture. I was getting nowhere. Whatever it was the person was looking for they’d found or it wasn’t here. Nakai’s stuff yielded no answers either, not even a fetish mag or a weapon or anything personal. He was a blank slate, a bland and boring character. Identifiable but unremarkable. I took a picture of the mess and a few of the pill bottles. I was done here.

I walked over to the door and flicked the switch. Opening the door, I was greeted by a pair of coke bottle glasses, the moon outside reflecting off them and obscuring the owner’s eyes.

“Feminist,” it said.

I looked the guy over. Thick glasses, messy hair, scarf around his neck in in May. One of the crazy types famous for inhabiting the dark places of Yamaku.

“I come back from my midnight shopping and find someone breaking into Hisao’s room. He’s dead you know, that’s disrespectful. That’s how I know you’re a feminist.” He was basically shouting.

“Whoa whoa whoa, keep it down, do you want to get us both in trouble?”

“Trouble? What can they do to me? Lock me up? I’m the last sane man on this planet now that Hisao’s gone. He learned to much, I think. They assassinated him.”

“Wait who?”

“The feminists,” he said matter of factly, “It was probably you. They sent you hear to clean up now, get rid of any deadly information. Now you’ll have to kill me.”

He crossed his arms. His breath smelled like liquor.

“Look… I uh… I’m an agent. Undercover. I’m an agent of the Tokko.”

“The secret police? I thought they were abolished.”

“What good would we be as secret police if people knew about us?”

He nodded, his eyebrows drawing together. He was buying it.

“I see… Let me see your badge.”

I started at him, shooting darts through his glasses. We were about the same height but I lifted my shoulder to seem bigger. He was in pants, I had my skirt on. I had more mobility. I could probably take him.

“…Right,” he finally said, turning around, “Secret police wouldn’t carry badges either.”

“Did you know Nakai?”

“Knew him? We were brothers in arms against you feminists-”

“I’m not a feminist. I’m an investigator.”

“Bah, I don’t believe you. That’s just what a feminist would say.”

“Whatever. What can you tell me about him?” I took out my notebook and a pen. Figure I’ll impress him with the secret agent act. It always worked. Pen in hand, you could point it at people and they instantly cower before your authority.

“Hisao was a brother, truly. I mean, I didn’t know him that well. I knew him alright enough. He was committed in the fight against the feminists – I’d show you documents and proof if I didn’t know you were one of them – we shared information and planned for the war. They’re trying to get us any way they can. I mean just the other day I saw them stealing from Hisao’s room! He’s not even been dead for a week now! Or maybe it has been a week. I lose track of time sometimes, I’m so busy preparing these days.”

I pretended to scribble something down. “Wait, you said you saw someone go into Nakai’s room? Who?”

“I don’t know her name.”

“A girl though?”

“Yeah, that’s how I know she was definitely a feminist.”

“What did she look like?”

“White shirt, green skirt.”

I cocked an eyebrow.

“What? It’s hard for me to see sometimes. But I always see the truth.”

“Any details on appearance?”

“Uh, her hair was made of platinum, or silver. Or maybe it was just died that color. Or maybe it was white, naturally. Scared by the feminist training.”

Another mystery girl to look out for. Or maybe she was another one of the five.

“Alright, that’s good. What’s your name, son?” I puffed out my chest as much as could, wishing that I looked more intimidating. Hopefully my hat was doing its job of obscuring my face. Though his vision did seem pretty poor.

“Kenji. Setou. Serial number See-Elle-Vee-Four-Six-Oh-Eight. That’s all you’ll get from me, feminist.”

Back to square one, I guess.

“Well thank you for your help, Mr. Setou. The Special Higher Police thanks you for your service.”

He leaned in close, presumably to look at my face, then wordless turned around and entered a room across the hall. Quite the character. I don’t think I can take much of his ranting for truth but he did bring up a new suspect. A silver-haired girl, who either knows a lot about heart medication or was desperately searching for something… else.

More and more questions.
Last edited by CrossRook on Sun May 20, 2012 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Freefall [Updated, Chapter 3]

Post by Elcor » Fri May 18, 2012 4:55 pm

Wow. This is getting very interesting.

Personal Opinion, it seems like you've made Hisao open up more to Hanako earlier in his only week there.
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Re: Freefall [Updated, Chapter 3]

Post by CrossRook » Fri May 18, 2012 10:49 pm

Chapter 4
Mutou’s lecture droned on and on. I wish I didn’t have to be in class, but at least gave me time to think. And opportunity to stare daggers at Lamperouge’s back. I understand he has aphasia, but would it kill him to point out one of the five if they were in room?

Sight for Sore Eyes… Suzuki? Sleeping through half her life would certainly bring in some interesting views of the world and ‘sore eyes’ sort of fit. But it wasn’t perfect. Deckard of the Track? I didn’t know where to start with that one. Two Van Gogh… Van Gogh was an artist. Should I be looking for an artist? Maeda was Lamperouge’s friend, perhaps he had educated him about great artists. But wait… Ah, I’ve got nothing.

So I waited out the rest of the class period until lunch. Had I not been out late last night I probably would have been able to ask them earlier, but work came first. The bell came sooner than I expected, trying to parse out the riddles with nothing to go on at all wasted a lot of time.

After it run, I stood up and called out to the pair, I really wasn’t sure who too address. A binary being, it was hard to tell who to look at and who to talk to when dealing with Hakamichi and Mikado.

“Uh, Shizune, could we talk for a minute?” I asked from my seat behind them.

Mikado spun around in her chair, drill-like formations of hair spinning around her.

“Oh hello Ricchan~! Did you have a question for Shicchan?”

The nicknames. How I hated the nicknames.

“Uh… yeah, Shiina,” I replied, “Can you ask Shizune if she knows someone?”

“Oh~ Investigating a big story? And call me Misha, everyone does~”

“Something like that.”

Mikado signed something to Hakamichi, who responded with what seemed to be overly long sentence.

“Uh… Shicchan says… that you aren’t a member… of the newspaper club anymore… and that she’d be glad to answer your question… if you’d join the student council~ wahaha~” Mikado laughed once she put together the entire sentence, like she’d just completed a challenge or something.

For my part, I sighed and rubbed my eyes, then dragged my palm down my face.

“Look Shizune, I’m just looking for someone. I don’t want to be part of any club at all right now.”

Mikado signed my response to Hakamichi, whose brow narrowed, then relented. She signed to Mikado.

“Shicchan says fine, one question~ Everyone is entitled… to a little help from the Student Council… once in a while~”

“I’m looking for a girl,” I said as Mikado signed along, “Silver or white hair. Possibly with a heart condition, possibly not.”

Hakamichi tapped her chin, apparently thinking hard. She lifted her finger to the air and smiled, then signed back to Mikado.

“Shicchan says~ there’s a girl in 2-3… with a heart condition and silver-white hair.”

“What’s her name?” I asked, impatiently.

“Shicchan doesn’t know her first name, but her last name is Katayama.”

That was enough to go off of.

“Thank you, both of you. You’ve been a great help.”

I moved to leave when Mikado spoke again.

“It is the duty of the Student Council President… to inform all students that we are entitled to a right of privacy here at Yamaku… and that all non-sanctioned student investigations… into the private lives of students – Shicchan that doesn’t sound right – are against school policy.”

“I’m not doing anything, I swear.” I crossed my heart.

Hakamichi raised an eyebrow and corrected her glasses. Then she signed something to Mikado.

“Then~ as you were, Ricchan.”

I took my leave of the pair. Hopefully I wouldn’t have to deal with them ever again.

Then it hit me. Van Gogh. Two. The pair of them. Van Gogh, besides his amazing works of art, was quite unstable. He cut off his ear and mailed it to his lover. Two Van Goghs, one with both ears, one without either. Hakamichi and Mikado, the pair was inseparable. They were fourth name on the list. Now I had to speak to them again. Just not now.

As I stepped out of the classroom, a voice peeped up behind me.

“R-Ritsu?”

I turned around and saw Ikezawa standing a few feet from the door to the classroom. She must have been waiting for me.

“Hey Hanako, what’s up?”

“J-Just w-wondering… h-how are things g-g-going?”

“Can we not talk about this here? Some of the things are pretty outlandish, I don’t know if it’s best to talk in public about it.”

Never mind that she was now a suspect, as one of the five to be investigated. A common ploy (or so I’ve heard). Pretend to be a client when you want to take down someone.

“O-Okay… s-sure. I’ll c-c-come by your d-dorm… after c-c-class.”

“Thanks Hanako.”

She nodded to me, then walked off. Detective mode, engage. I stayed about twenty paces behind. Throngs of students crowded the hallways during the lunch breaks, working their way to activity rooms, the cafeteria or outside. I was able to stay mostly unnoticed, but Ikezawa’s paranoia almost reached the levels of that Setou kid. She couldn’t walk past a classroom without glancing back and forth. We’d been in the same class all year but, sheesh, she had some issues I’d never noticed. In fact, I would have picked her for the truant type, considering how often she failed to show up for class. I figured I might be able to bum a cigarette off her.

Eventually, she found her way to a small classroom by the library. I waited a minute, then peeked in through the square glass window in the door. She was sitting at a table, chessboard out and pieces arranged. Two or three moves had been made. Her opponent was a tall, tall blonde girl. She never seemed to look at Ikezawa, always staring out at the wall behind her.

Wait, I knew her. That was Lilly Satou, class representative from 3-2. Or she was. I remember Natsume and Naomi talking about it last year, there was apparently some kind of falling out amongst the student council. Naomi had done some digging; Satou was Hakamichi’s cousin. There was some kind of bad blood between the two and the council fell apart as a result. Now it was just Hakamichi and her shadow Mikado.

Sight For Sore Eyes. Satou was blind, and had a reputation as a goddess amongst humans – the prettiest girl in the school, by traditional standards. I liked to think I wasn’t half-bad looking. Satou was the Sight For Sore Eyes. The second riddle. So Satou and Ikezawa were friends, then? I wonder how that got started. Why that got started. How did they each know Nakai? Were they a group of friends, together?

Moreover, Hakamichi and Satou had a history. Had Nakai uncovered something about the student council? Did he know too much? Or was it a rivalry, both girls pining after the new kid? There were a lot of possibilities. I just wasn’t sure which was right yet.

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Elcor
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Re: Freefall [Updated, Chapter 4]

Post by Elcor » Fri May 18, 2012 11:15 pm

Ritsu going at the bad blood angle, she's gonna get an ear full.
Fan Fiction writer's are drug dealers and they don't even know it.

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Scissorlips
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Re: Freefall [Updated, Chapter 4]

Post by Scissorlips » Sun May 20, 2012 1:22 am

Can I just say that I really, really really like this idea? I think it's great to give the side characters the spotlight like this, and especially in such a unique way. I feel like a douche for saying this, but I confess that I haven't had time to read it yet, though.
Also, um. I'm kind of--okay, I can't describe it. But I cleaned up your avatar for no real reason, I have no idea of the context behind it so you might prefer the original version, but if you want it, here.
My pastebin.
I'm a writer for a visual novel project called Familiarity, where I go by the name Lunch.

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CrossRook
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Re: Freefall [Updated, Chapter 4]

Post by CrossRook » Sun May 20, 2012 1:26 pm

Scissorlips wrote:Can I just say that I really, really really like this idea? I think it's great to give the side characters the spotlight like this, and especially in such a unique way. I feel like a douche for saying this, but I confess that I haven't had time to read it yet, though.
Also, um. I'm kind of--okay, I can't describe it. But I cleaned up your avatar for no real reason, I have no idea of the context behind it so you might prefer the original version, but if you want it, here.
Thanks. The context is kind of part of the avatar but I do like it cleaned up. Context is uh, well, a really not safe for work manga. I love your Suzu route by the way, it's headcanon now.

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CrossRook
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Re: Freefall [Updated, Chapter 4]

Post by CrossRook » Sun May 20, 2012 5:28 pm

This is a short chapter so I've got a few pictures to make up for it.
Image
Ritsu Tainaka, Investigative Journalist.

Chapter 5

I saw the thin girl leaning on the wall in the alley between the school buildings. She held her cigarette daintily between two fingers and flicked the ash off the end. Her silver hair was tied into a braid and slung around her shoulder, laying gently on her chest. Her eyes were a pale red, full of fire and intensity.

She was Rika Katayama, second year with cardiac arrhythmia. Asking around at lunch found me her name and her usual hangout, this alley. The cigarette hanging in her pale hand gave me an idea. I pulled my own pack of smokes out from my bag and slipped a single one out. I grabbed my lighter and pretended to flick it, then made a face.

“Hey, got a light?” I asked, “I’m all out of fluid.”

She eyeballed me cautiously. I held out my cigarette. Her stone expression relented and she took it from me, and then touched the ends together. After a little blowing, mine caught and she handed it back to me. I put it to my mouth and took a deep puff. Crisp smoke filled my lungs. Yeheyuans were good.

“You’re Rika Katayama, right?”

“What’s it to you?”

“Nothing, just wanted to ask you a question or two.”

Katayama’s eyes narrowed, then looked left and right. She faked to the left, dropped her cigarette and took off running to the right. Fuck, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I ditched my smoke too and followed.

She corned the alley and started heading across the main school grounds. A late spring day like this there were people hanging out all around the grass and trees, enjoying life. Katayama darted between a couple holding hands and a kid in a wheelchair rolling himself along. I dodged the wheelchair but forced myself between the couple. Sorry guys. She ducked close under the branches of a low tree. I followed but one of the branches knocked my hat off. I double backed and grabbed it, then continued the chase. We were getting close to the dorms now; I assumed she was going to go to her room or something.

Didn’t this girl have a heart problem? I wasn’t expecting someone comatose, but she smoked too. Surely she’d get tired soon. Or maybe that was just me. I was slowing down, I knew it. She bounded up the steps to the courtyard in front of the dorms two at a time. At the front door of the girl’s dorm she took a quick right and headed around the side. Clever, the dorms weren’t the goal in the first place.

I chased her around the back of the building where she headed off into the forest behind. I couldn’t figure out where she was heading now, but I gave due chase. Maybe she was just trying to tire me out. Did she run or something?

About a hundred meters into the trees I caught a break. Katayama headed off the beaten path but tripped on a root and tumbled to the ground. She turned over and laid on her back, gripping her chest.

I slowed up and walked over, standing above her with my arms crossed.

“Hurt yourself?”

“F-Fuck off,” she said, gasping.

“You probably need medical attention. I could help.”

“Fuck. You.”

“I’d be glad to do it.”

She winced and took in a deep breath. I crouched down over her.

“Just answer a few questions and I’ll go get a nurse.”

“Can’t you see I’m about to die?”

“Yup. That’s arrhythmia for yah. Shouldn’t have tried to run. All I wanted was to talk.”

“Fuck. You.”

“Why did you steal pills from a dead man?”

“I didn’t-“

“I’ve got a witness. Give up the game, answer the question.”

“I needed them.”

“Why?”

“Mine got taken.”

“By who?”

“Fuck you.”

“I can leave right now Rika, play nice. You want to have a heart attack out here in the woods it’s fine by me.”

“The Captain. The Captain took them.”

“Who’s the Captain? Why did he take your pills?”

“I fucked up, he took them because I fucked up.”

“Who is he?”

She tensed up, her breathing more and more rapid. Shit.

“I’ll be back,” I said.

I took off for the dorms. I needed to find a nurse. Once inside the girl’s building I approached the security guard. An older woman, she was pleasant enough but gruff as hell. I suppose the school thought we needed tough love once in a while. We didn’t exact see eye-to-eye. Snooping about wasn’t something she approved of.

She must have seen me out of breath. I really should cut back on the cigarettes.

“Something up, Ritsu?”

“There’s… a girl… heart attack, forest.”

“Wait what, slow down?”

“There’s a girl out in the forest, having a heart attack. You need to send help.”

“Oh my god.”

She had the receiver of the phone in her hand in a flash. Numbers were dialed and an ambulance called. Less than I minute later I saw two orderlies of the nursing staff run by the dorm with a stretcher. I collapsed into a chair in the dorm lobby.

The security guard walked over a few minutes later.

“You did a good thing Ritsu, you saved that girl’s life. It seems it was only a minor cardiac incident but if she’d been left alone out there it could have become much worse.”

“Yeah… thanks.”

“She’ll be over in the medical wing, if you want to see her. She’ll probably want to thank you.”

If only she knew.

Image

And finally, an updated version of Ritsu's notes.

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