Once More [Update: 9/26]

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Re: Once More [Update: 5/29]

Post by Dr.Worm » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:42 pm

--- Chapter 8, Part 4: Showdown at Shogun's Castle

I slide my hand over Emi’s on the joystick. She shrinks under my touch. It isn’t from shyness or anything like that. She just doesn’t really want to touch me. I get it. I’m an asshole. Blah blah blah.

“Relax. I’m not trying anything.” I mutter.

“This is turning into a date again.” Emi warns me.

“Well stop thinking about it like that. Hayate’s already starting.”

Her gaze snaps back to the cabinet and she sends a low punch across the screen. Hayate blocks it easily and continues to advance. I push us back and Emi keeps sending low punches across the screen.

“Don’t spam the same move over and over Emi.”

“Stop moving backwards then, Katsuo!”

“Just hold on for…” Hayate sends a hadoken at us. I jump over it.

“Heavy punch.”

We headbutt Ken again. Hayate doesn’t let us get into the string of combos before hitting us with that stupid five-hit Tatsymaki Senpuukyaku. Emi’s murder look returns and that wild series of attacks comes out as she forces Ken across the screen again. Hayate shifts his weight again and I look down. Really? You’re stepping on her foot again, man? Haven’t you figured out that doesn’t work?

He knocks us back with a Shoryuken.

The game turns into a series of exchanges of blocked combos. I clench and unclench my jaw. Hayate’s doing the same. Emi isn’t even there, sandwiched between us, anymore. It’s just thirteen year old Katsuo up against an acne riddled older kid in a fake leather jacket. It’s the fight of the century. It’s the showdown that’s been waiting six years to finally happen. I lick my lips in anticipation of the end. We just have to wait for one little slip-up. One little mistake and that’s it. Hayate’ll kill me. I’ll murder him.

I take it back. This would be a pretty good movie. Even if it wasn’t a parody.

One of Hayate’s attacks just fails to hit us. The fire inside of me flares up. There it is. Emi’s there at my side again, ready to take down one of the worst memories of my childhood.

“Teleport, behind.”

Emi and I execute the command flawlessly and Dhalsim blinks out of existence and then reappears behind Ken. Emi and I don’t even bother with special moves. We just slam every basic attack we can at him before he has a chance to block. He stumbles as Emi moves her legs and knocks his foot off her own.

Ken goes down like a chump.

“HAHA! YES!” I pound my fist against the cabinet. Victory! Sweet, sweet revenge!

Hayate rips his headphones off his head and wheels on us. I don’t even care. I step back from the cabinet so Emi can breathe.

Emi throws her hands over her head again in victory. She turns to me, beaming with pride. Yeah. We beat some dude who used to pick on me in Street Fighter II. In most instances, I could see how lame this whole thing is. But for Hayate, these sorts of games are everything. I should know. They used to be everything to me too. And this is the end of the movie. And at the end of the movie, the hero always gets the girl. In fact, he would lean in for that sweet, sweet kiss of victory right about now. Too bad this is Emi and I have no intention of kissing her.

“Katsuo, what are you doing?”

I blink and reality slams back into place. Emi’s leaning away from me, one hand braced against my shoulder. She’s actually pushing me back? Why? What am I doing that’s so- OH. Oh jeez.

I stand up straight, pulling my face away from Emi’s cheek.

“Sorry. Got caught up in the moment. In a movie this would be the…” I trail off as Emi frowns.

“Nevermind. We won!” I masterfully change the subject.

“You got lucky.” Hayate butts into our conversation. I roll my eyes and turn to him.

“Don’t be a sore loser. Just gracefully accept that we kicked your ass and one of us happens to be a girl who’s played this game like… three times now.” I place my hand on Emi’s head and she swats it away. I guess we aren’t that friendly yet. Or it could just be that she’s upset I just tried to kiss her.

“And you were trying to cheat the entire time, Hayate.” I add.

“What are you talking about?”

“You kept stepping on Emi’s foot. And you’re wearing boots. You could have seriously hurt her over a stupid game.” I point down at the floor.

“He was what?” Emi looks down at her feet and then up to Hayate again.

“Stupid? Stupid? It’s my game! It’s Super Street Fighter Two!” Hayate places his hand on the cabinet. I guess I hurt his pride. I can’t believe I used to be scared of this guy. Now that I’ve beaten him and he’s getting so upset, I just feel… kind of sorry for him.

“Dude. You’re like… twenty-two. This game came out like…fifteen years ago. Don’t you think it’s time to move on?” I laugh.

“I want a rematch.”

“Haha. No.” I snatch the cards off the cabinet and give them both to Emi.

“I deserve a rematch.” Hayate continues.

“Maybe another time. I owe Emi ice cream,” I point at the girl with my thumb. We turn away from the machine and I throw my hand over my head to wave goodbye to my former nemesis. “Take it easy, Hayate. Get yourself a new hobby or girlfriend or something.”

And that’s coming from me, man. If I think you need a new hobby or girlfriend then you’re pretty freaking sad.

“Don’t you walk away from me Yoshida.”

Emi stops walking and is jerked backwards. I turn around to see Hayate’s got her by the wrist and is keeping her from joining me.

“Let me go!” Emi tries to pull her arm away from him. Hayate just pulls back.

“Dude, let her go. You’re going to hurt her.”

“Not until you play me again.”

“Hayate. If we beat you again, then what? Are you going to let us go?” I hold my hand out to Emi.

“Just let her go, man. You’re acting like a child.”

Emi wrenches her arm from him. Hayate just snaps his hand around her other wrist. I groan quietly. Dude. Come on. This is pathetic.

“You aren’t going to beat me again! One more match.” I can see spittle fly from Hayate’s mouth as he continues to try to pull another match from me.

“You need to let her go, man. It won’t end well for you. She’s not some little girl.”

Hayate pulls on her arm again. Emi’s face clearly says that she’s had enough of this. I cringe, knowing what’s about to happen. I’ve seen that look before.

Emi turns around to her captor and cocks her arm back.

It takes all of my willpower to not yell “SHORYUKEN!” as Emi’s fist collides with the bottom of Hayate’s jaw.

He lets her go and falls to the floor. Hayate grabs his jaw and starts working it up and down. Is he checking to see if it still works? Oh come on. Don’t overreact. She didn’t even hit you as hard as she hit me. Don’t be such a baby.

Emi walks past me and the whole situation sinks in. Emi just punched a guy. In a public arcade. I spin around and guide her through the arcade with my arm around her shoulder. Emi opens her mouth, most likely to protest about how I’m touching her, but sees the serious expression I’m sporting. She clamps her mouth shut and picks up the pace.

I guess I’m not going to come back here for a while. That’s okay, I guess. It’s just a silly arcade. Well, a silly arcade that my best childhood friend owns and would let me play in for free now.

Damnit, Emi. Why did you have to ruin this for me?

Nobou nearly stops us at the entrance and I slap the cards against his chest. He’s confused. I would be too. I bet we look like we just killed somebody and are fleeing the scene of the crime.

“It’sbeenfunIhavetogogeticecreamTellSachiIsaidhi!” It all spills out of my mouth as we rush past him and out the door. We rush up the stairs and I wave at Nobou over my shoulder before we’re out in the gray, dreary light of the city again. Emi and I share a look of panic that dissolves into nervous smiles before we take off down the sidewalk.

Emi starts laughing as we keep running.


“You’re running again.”

“Shut up, Emi.”

She laughs again.

“What now?”

“I told you you’d get ice cream.”

“Shut up, Emi.”
Last edited by Dr.Worm on Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Also, I write Fanfiction, apparently. [Once More] & [Breaking the Sound Barrier]

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Re: Once More [Update: 6/21]

Post by Mader Levap » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:11 pm

Good read, considering topic. Done well - I dont know anything about fighting games, but was still interesting.
BTW I can see why they are ex.
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Re: Once More [Update: 6/21]

Post by WRXJoey » Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:17 am

This chapter was incredibly satisfying

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Re: Once More [Update: 6/21]

Post by masterchiefr75 » Sat Jun 22, 2013 3:11 pm

Really good. I think it's too late for suggestions, but have you thought of making Emi kick Hayate instead of punching? I would think that it would crush him even more to realize that he just lost to a girl without legs.

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Re: Once More [Update: 6/21]

Post by Dr.Worm » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:05 pm

--- Chapter 9, Part 1: Reminiscing

I push open the front door and I’m greeted with the lovely sound of absolutely nothing. I give a glance over my shoulder to Emi and swing the door open all the way. The lack of bedspring squeaks is a good sign for our return. I guess Hisao and Rin have to stop to rehydrate at some point, right?

Emi walks in past me as I hold the door open for her, like a gentleman should. She gives me a tight smile, one I’m not entirely sure isn’t forced, as she passes.

I close the door behind me. All right. Just time to start dinner and-

Emi stops me from going anywhere by holding her hand out. I walk straight into it and she drops it from the middle of my chest.

Emi mutters something under her breath. I lean down closer, hand cupped to my ear.

“What was that?”

Emi sighs. “I had… fun today. Thanks for letting me come along.”

I drop my hand and smile. She had fun? That’s a good sign right? Maybe this is the part where we reconnect and totally fall in love again. At least that would happen if this was one of those stupid romantic comedies. But it isn’t. Its real life and I need to stop shoving my head into the cinematic world of my fantasies. All it means is that she had a good day hanging out with an ex-boyfriend, after they put aside their differences from the break-up. The very, very rough break up.

Still, she did do something nice today and I should thank her for playing Street Fighter with me. And for punching Hayate. Mostly for the second thing.

“Actually, thank you.” I cup her shoulder with my hand. She sort of withers away from my touch again, so I guess we’re not past that point yet. I lift my hand and mouth a quick apology.

“You know… for helping me stand up to Hayate after all these years and for… well, for punching him in the jaw,” I rub the back of my neck before breaking out into a grin. “I really liked that part where you punched him. Highlight of the day.”

Emi giggles. I, as is tradition, feel my heart melt into my stomach.

“I still can’t believe I did that,” Emi places her hand against her forehead as her giggling drains away. “I could have gotten us into serious trouble. I could have gotten arrested or something.”

“Yeah. We aren't in high school anymore. I guess it’s a good thing I won’t be going back to that arcade in a while.” I turn away from Emi and walk towards the kitchen. Well that's enough pleasantries for the day. I have a dinner to prepare. To my surprise, Emi follows me into the kitchen.

“Where do you think Rin and Hisao are?”

I shrug before opening up the fridge. Tonight, it’s curry. Curry is always delicious and the curry bread I had this morning has drove the hankering into my belly. Mom has already cut up a bunch of vegetables for that too. God bless her. I pull the containers out of the fridge and place them all on the counter next to the sink.

“Probably sleeping off the beast with two backs. They were going at it like two elephants when we left.”

Emi groans before shuddering.

“Poor choice of words?” I open one of the cabinets and fish the biggest wok out from its depths. This should be large enough the amount of food I need to make for all of us.

“Ugh. Why would you say it like that?”

“Because I’m weird. You have to remember that.” I wiggle my fingers and roll my eyes before pulling a package of ground beef from the fridge.

“I remember that awkward boy who tripped over his own two feet when he ran.” Emi retaliates. “And who didn’t know where he was supposed to hold his hands when talking to a girl.”

“Hand, you mean.” I wiggle my fingers again.

I wish she hadn't brought that up. I’d been doing so well with just thinking about Emi as a girl version of Hisao, free from our history. But when she has to drag up how pitiful I was when I met her at Yamaku, that’s all my mind can think about. I try to shove it away, but it’s the pin in my brain now. Not thinking about it makes me realize how hard I have to concentrate on something else just to not think about it and then I’m thinking about it and-

Oh boy. There’s the headache kicking in.

Maybe cooking will help.

“You know what I meant, Katsuo.”

I shrug again and place the wok on the stove. “Curry’s alright with you?”

“Mhmm. Curry is okay.” Emi circles around me and opens up the container of vegetables.

“You don’t have to help. I can get Hisao to do that.” I wave her off.

Emi pushes my hand away, giving me a very stern look. “You don’t even know where Hisao is. Besides, I’m much better at cooking than he is. My cooking would kick his cooking’s ass.”

“Nice to see you’re still so humble.” I mutter.

Emi shoves me again.

“Of course I am! Humility is a sign of a good athlete.” Emi proudly proclaims. What? How does that work? I don't know what cooking has to do with running, but whatever.

“Do you even know how to make curry?”

“No. But how hard can it be? It’s just curry. You just throw everything into the pan and boom. Everything’s all cooked together, right?”

“No. Everything has to cook for different amounts of time so that it comes out perfect and tender.”

“Well whatever. I’ll just add stuff in when you tell me to. And I can cut up more vegetables if we need to since you can’t.”

“Aren’t you at least going to wash your hands?”

“They’re clean!”

“Oh my god, Emi. Just go find Hisao. He follows directions better than you do.”

“He does not!”

“Does too.”

“Nice to see that you two are getting along.”
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Re: Once More [Update: 6/21]

Post by Dr.Worm » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:08 pm

--- Chapter 9, Part 2: Reminiscing

I nearly drop the container of vegetables I’m trying to wrestle from Emi’s grip as I wheel around. There’s Hisao standing in my kitchen doorway. I could kiss him. He’s come to save me from cooking dinner with a cute girl who is starting to drag up old memories that I don’t want to think about ever again and there it is. They’re all flooding back now.

“Hisao! Don’t sneak up on us like that!” Emi chides. She forgets instantly about the vegetables we’re fighting over. I almost spill them all over the floor as she suddenly lets go of the Tupperware container filled with them and storms over to my best bro in the world.

He salutes the short girl. “Aye aye, Captain!”

Oh right. The pirate thing. I almost forgot about that.

Hisao drops his hand and tilts his head towards the hallway.

“So do you want to help Rin wash her hair? She says I do it wrong. I can take over and help Katsuo here prepare dinner.”

Emi turns to me for a second. The look she’s giving me… Is she asking me for permission?

“Hey, if the man can’t wash a girl’s hair correctly…” I start.

Emi just shakes her head, smiling.


“He is. Thank god he has me to help him get dressed in the mornings.” I add.

“Looks like we’ll just hold his hand for the rest of his life.”

“Har har. Whenever you two are done making fun of me, Rin’s waiting in the bathroom already.” Hisao groans and shoves past Emi in frustration. What a hard life my boy has to lead. I rip into him. Emi rips into him. Rin…

Rin does that stuff that Rin does to him or whatever. I don’t want to think about that stuff.

Emi giggles again. “I guess I’ll take a bath too.”

Hisao and I instantly make eye contact. I know what he’s thinking. He knows what I’m thinking. And we both don’t need our brains to go there. That would be a sexual overload for the both of us, I think.

“Uh. Good idea. Take your time. We’ll have dinner done when you two are done.” I cough.

Hisao has now found the act of picking lint off his sweater-vest to be the most urgent matter in the universe.

Emi leaves our manly minds to their own devices and heads down the hall to the bathroom. Hisao and I make eye contact again and I break into a huge grin.

“You want to go see if we can’t sneak a peek? Like a couple of middle school kids? This is the perfect time to get into some wacky hijinks.”

“One of them is my girlfriend.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

Come on! Hiijinks Hisao! This is the kind of stuff that the Sharkfighter and the Heartbreaker have to jump on when we have the chance! Our only hope at getting those ratings and a second season is to sprinkle our fresh new idea with old outdated sitcom standards and capers.

Hisao sighs heavily, covering his eyes with his hand. Yeah. What are you going to do with me, Hisao? I’m just so rambunctious.

“I was kidding. Come on. Help me out with dinner,” I place the vegetable container down on the counter and wave him over. “We’re making goddamn curry.”

“Alright. Seems easy enough.”

“Easy? Hisao, this is my kitchen. We do things the hard way because that’s the most delicious way.” I slam my fist down on the counter.


Hisao just stares at me. I try my best crazy grin at him. I eventually drop the look first as Hisao seems to be on the serious side tonight.

“I’m kidding. My mom cut up the vegetables already.” I slide the container over to him and pick up the ground beef.

“You’re weird.”

“Says the guy in the swea-“

“Katsuo, I’ll murder you if you make another joke about my sweater vest.”

“Duly noted.”

Hisao and I busy ourselves with making dinner. I only make one slightly sexist joke about how the gender roles have been reversed and the men are in the kitchen. Hisao doesn’t find it a hilarious as I do. Then again, I guess he’s got a pretty terrible sense of humor. I figure some of my awesome sense of humor will rub off on him eventually. It’s only been almost two months now. He’s got time. We’ve got years ahead of us to get Hisao in the know on what “funny” truly is.

It takes a few minutes of silence before I decide to throw the jokes aside. That pin in the back of my head is really starting to irritate me. I’m going to have to do something drastic about that soon.

“You two seem to be okay.” Hisao remarks. He plugs the rice cooker in and covers it.


“You and Emi. You seem to be doing alright now.”

“Eh. We’re… tolerating each other.”

“It looks to be a little more than tolerating to me,” Hisao nudges me with an elbow. “What did you two do today?”

“We went into the city.”

“We were wondering where you two went after-“

“After you two started going at it like two elephants in heat?”

“I was going to say “went to our bedroom” but I suppose your explanation is-“

“More poetic. I know. But yeah. We left a little bit after that.” I shrug and toss in the last of the vegetables to the curry. That pin buries itself deeper into my cerebellum. I don’t think I can take it much longer. I’m going to have to do something drastic. Something my mother always wanted me to do after I graduated from Yamaku. Too bad she isn’t going to be here for that.

“What did you two do?”

“Went to an arcade. Got some ice cream.” Emi punched a guy. You know, just the normal Sunday afternoon stuff that young people get up to.

“So you two are cool? No fighting?” Hisao leans against the counter, arms crossed over his chest.

“There was a little thing at the bus stop where we kind of had it out but I think we’ve buried the proverbial hatchet for now.” I scratch the back of my neck before covering the wok with a lid. This just has to simmer to perfection now.

“That’s good. I’d hate for you two to have to avoid each other all we-“

“How’d you meet Rin?”

Hisao’s mouth clamps shut. He’s confused. I’d be too. I just totally asked that out of the blue. It’s nothing more than an excuse for me to talk about something else, but I wanted to try to ease into the topic. Mostly because I have to still gather up some of the nerve to actually do what I’m thinking about doing.

“Uhm… I walked in on her eating in the art room one day after I transferred into Yamaku. Then I just sort of… spent a lot of time with her. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I liked her as more than a friend.” Hisao’s got this look on. Fond memories, I guess. First love? Is Rin his first love?

“And you two just shacked up?”

“It was a little messier than that,” Hisao chuckles. “Well, actually a lot messier. Why are you asking this all of the sudden?”

I take a deep breath.

“Do you want to hear about Emi and I?”

Hisao just stares at me. I might as well have dropped my pants and told him that we needed to make a sweet, sweet beautiful man-love baby right here on this counter. And that he was catching. His brain might still be trying to wrap itself around how I leapt to this idea out of the blue like this.


I scratch the back of my neck. “Look, I’ve been shoving this to the back of my mind for a year now and as stupid and bitchy as it is to whine about an ex, I’d like to do something my mother’s been on my ass about the whole time.”

“And that is?”

“Talk about Emi and I.” I drop that turd into the pool.

Hisao opens his mouth but words apparently fail him. He shuts it and frowns.

“And as much as it’ll probably disappoint my mother that I’m not sharing it all with her, you’re the only viable option right now.”

Hisao’s frown deepens. “I’m the last resort?”

“No. This whole thing is my last resort. I’ve already researched memory wipes and apparently they aren’t real. So yeah, I guess “talking about it” will just have to do. And you’re my best friend, so there you have it.” And I’m pacing. I’m pacing around the kitchen like a mad man. Yeah, I’m about to go fucking crazy and stab someone. Hisao better pick up a knife or something to defend himself with. I don’t know how this is going to play out.

We’re about to boldly go where no man has gone before.

“I’ve known you for like two months.” Hisao scoffs.

“Yeah. You climbed the ranks pretty quickly, which isn’t that hard considering my friend list consists of you, six people I’ve never met in person and the handful of kids I know from my old school that I’ve mostly cut off contact with when I went to Yamaku.” I explain. Everything coming out of my mouth has a frantic edge to it. Like there’s a bomb that’s about to go off and the only way I can stop it is if I explain my back-story about some girl I dated in high school. That’s a pretty shitty plot device, but it’s what I’ve got going for me right now.

Hisao just nods and smiles as best he can with the hyperventilating one-armed lunatic in the room just staring back at him, desperate.

“If you think it’ll help.”

“Yeah, just… don’t talk or anything because I don’t know how much of this I’m going to get through without freaking out or whatever.”

“Is it that bad?”

“No. Yes. Look, I don’t know. Just… shut up and listen, Hisao.”

“Okay. Okay.” Hisao holds his hands up and tries another smile.

Awesome. I’m being a dick about it already. Way to be a best friend, Katsuo.

“Sorry. I just… Sorry.” I sigh and rub the back of my neck. Well, here goes nothing,

“I guess I should start with the first day I met Emi…”
At least I still have The Worst Miki

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Also, I write Fanfiction, apparently. [Once More] & [Breaking the Sound Barrier]

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Re: Once More [Update: 6/21]

Post by Dr.Worm » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:09 pm

--- Chapter 9, Part 3: Reminiscing

The man across the desk from me twirls the empty pill bottle between his fingers. I try to keep looking at the clutter on his desk rather than at him. That pill bottle shouldn't be empty so soon. He knows it shouldn't. I know it shouldn't. But it is. And I need more of them.

"You know that these are habit forming if you're not careful, right Mr. Yoshida?" He asks.

I rub the back of my neck, biting my bottom lip.

"We just filled this for you a week ago."

"N-Nine days, actually." I correct him. Though I shouldn't. I can't help it. My stupid mouth and brain hardly seem to agree these days.

"That's hardly the point." He says, darkly. He slaps the empty plastic container on the desk between us, before picking up a thick bundled file on his desk. My file. The file that tells him all about my completely messed up lower back and right arm and shoulder. About the chronic pain that I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life.

About how I'm lucky to be alive after it all.

"W-Well, it's just that my back has been bothering me a lot lately and I had those phantom limb pain things a few days ago and-"

"You want a refill, I assume?"

I nod solemnly. Yes. I do. Very much so. The walk down here was practically hell on my back.

He runs a hand through his purple hair, eyes focused on the paperwork in my folder.

"You went through two weeks’ worth of pain killers in a week, Mr. Yoshida."

"Nine d-days." I correct him again. I clench my eyes shut as soon as it dawns on me that I did, indeed, utter that out loud. Stupid mouth. Stupid brain. Just work together for once so that I can get some more pills and we can get out of here before the Nurse says something else to make you uncomfortable. Why's it so hot in here?

I loosen the tie around my neck, already feeling the wet spots of sweat on my collar.

"Yes. Nine days." He says back to me again. That is one dark tone coming off him. Nurse could be the leader of Big Fire with a voice like that.

"Have you been keeping up with the exercise plan we drew up for you?"

Haha. No. No I have not. In fact, I haven't done a single thing on it since you gave it to me this year. I have locked myself in my room for the last three months when not in class as to avoid human interaction. I would have done the same thing last year but the Nurse in charge of the butt end of my rehabilitation made me go outside and get that awful fresh air in my lungs.

Look Nurse, I just want to make it through my last year of school safely. So if you could just fill that stupid plastic bottle, I'll be on my merry way.

"Should I take your silence as a No?" The man asks me, an eyebrow arched.

Oh god, I've just been sitting here, sweating like an addict this whole time, haven't I?

"Uh... well, not as closely as you pr-probably would want me to." I give him a weak smile.

The Nurse looks back down into my file.

"So that's definitely a no."

I frown and look down to the floor. Well, he's got me there. By the balls.

"Not at all, sir."

"Could you stop tapping your foot against the floor please? It's very distracting."

I slap my foot against the ground and stare at it. That was me this whole time? I thought it was him. But I guess it wasn't. It was me. Haha. That's weird. Okay. I'm starting to do it again. Stop it foot!

"Mr. Yoshida, I understand that you might think of the advice of the adults here at Yamaku as annoying, but we're just trying to do what's best for your health. And judging by your state right now, I think we've let your care slip through the cracks."

I look at him carefully before adjusting my glasses.

"Wh-what do you mean my state?"

The Nurse slaps my folder down on his desk, rattling the pens and coffee mug with the vibration of it all.

"You're got a waterfall of sweat going down your face and the air conditioner is set at a comfortable twenty-two degrees in here. You've got your tie facing the wrong way." He points at my chest.

My tie is backwards. Oh. Okay.

"And you won't stop fidgeting."

I tense my whole body in an attempt to stop it from moving.

"And your hair is a mess."

Ha! That’s nothing! It's always a mess! I get that from my mother's side of the family.

"I don't comb it, sir. Ever."

Is that gross? That’s pretty gross, isn’t it?

The Nurse, still frowning, just stares back at me.

"The point of your exercise plan was to eventually wean you off these painkillers and to something weaker once your health started to improve. Mr. Yoshida, I think you might be relying too heavily on your pain killers. You should have been on a much lower dosage than this already."

No. It's just that someone's shoved a cleaver into my spine and I had to walk all the way down here with no pain killers. I'm not addicted. I can stop taking pills as soon as my body stops screaming in agony at me. Which it won't. So you need to give me my goddamn painkillers so that I can leave and get back to class.

"And this wouldn't be happening if you had stuck with the exercise that we recommended that you do." The Nurse lays into me with the force of a thousand mother-grams. A mother-gram is the unit of measurement for guilt. I can't even meet his non-existent gaze anymore. All I can do is stare at the floor.

"Sorry." I mumble.

The Nurse opens his desk and pulls out a different pill bottle. He opens it quickly, as though he's done the same motion a hundred thousand times today and doles two blue pills out onto his other hand. He passes them across the desk to me. I don't know what they are. My painkillers are white. What are these?

"What're these?"

"The painkillers you would be taking if you had stuck to your exercise schedule." He says, pointing to the water cooler on the other side of the room. Ah. Okay. I see.

I nod and dutifully make my way across the room. The Nurse wheels his chair over to me as I throw the two pills into the paper cone and start filling it with water. I down the whole thing in one gulp.

"I'm going to write you a note excusing you from morning classes. Why don't you lie down on the bed over here?" He pulls back the curtain revealing one of the small beds behind it. I would rather go to class as I'm pretty sure Mutou is talking about particle theory again today. Alas, the Nurse didn't sound like he was making a suggestion when he pointed out the bed to me. I just give him another nod and follow his instructions.

I let out a tiny sigh as my head hits the pillow. I don't know how he expects me to sleep with all this pain and...


I blink a few times.

Well, I am pretty tired. It took a lot to walk down the flight of stairs in the dormitory and then across the campus. Don't get me wrong, normally it wouldn't. I'm not that out of shape. I can walk down the stairs and across campus when I'm not fighting the urge to collapse and scream with every step. And it's not like this every day. It's just been a rough last few days for me, apparently. It sort of dawned on me last month that I didn't really have any friends left on Campus. So I haven’t really had anyone to talk to. At least not since that lady nurse from last year left, which is why I stopped going on the daily walks that were recommended to me last year. I know a few of the other guys on my floor, but it's not like we hang out.

Can loneliness affect the body like that? Is that why I feel like shit all the time?

Or is it really just the lack of exercise?

I close my eyes and concentrate on trying to slow down my breathing. It takes quite a while for the painkillers that the Nurse gave me to kick in. They dull the sharp pain in my lower back into a manageable deep throbbing.

I don't remember much else besides the Nurse's occasional shuffling at his desk as my world goes black.
Last edited by Dr.Worm on Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Once More [Update: 6/21]

Post by Dr.Worm » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:14 pm

Chapter 9, Part 4: Reminiscing

"Thank you for coming so quickly, but could you have made more noise running down the hall? I'm not sure if everyone in the main building heard you or not."

I shift in the bed, muttering about how someone could keep it down. My back pain has decided to come back on another, more annoying day apparently. Unless the Nurse knocked me out with those pills to do some sort of crazy, experimental form of chiropracty.

"I'm sorry! I won't ever do it again." A girl's voice rings out.

Is that girl mocking him? I open my eyes and turn towards the voices.

"But what did you want to see me for?"

There's more shuffling of papers. The Nurse must be looking for something on his desk. A thick thump follows it all. I think I can pretty safely assume that he's got my medical file out now.

"I've got a boy laying down behind that curtain who refuses to stick to the exercise routine we drew up for him when he started here, despite all our warnings about how it would be beneficial to his well-being and lead to a healthier, happier lifestyle." The nurse goes on. God, how many mother-grams does this guy have crammed into him? I guess he thinks I'm still sleeping. Maybe he'd be a bit nicer if I said something.

Nah. Probably not.

"Oh?" The girl inquires. I see the shadow of a hand pass over the curtain and slam my eyes shut again. The feeling of someone staring at me creeps up my spine. I want to open my eyes, but I'd rather they not know I've been listening in.

"Do you particularly enjoy staring at sleeping boys?"

"He looks awful."

You look awful. Well, probably not. You're probably tall and nice and really pretty and smart and clever and have tons of friends. I'm sorry I thought you looked awful. I'll never think that again. Please stop staring at me.

"I think his back pain is keeping him from getting any proper sleep. I've already called his parents-"

Oh well that's just fucking great.

"-and now you're here for the next part of it."

Finally, metal grates against metal. Most likely the metal rings on the frame for the curtain that divides the room. This girl must have taken her head out of my cozy little bubble. I crack open an eye to check.

Both purple and brown fuzzy blobs are poked in my little curtained area. I think they're both staring at me. My hand awkwardly searches my face so I can fix my glasses. It takes a few tries before I get it right.

The girl has two twin-tails of brown, held in place with two beaded hairbands. Her bright green eyes widen as mine do, both of us surprised at each other being there. But she gives me a little smile, as if to say "Welcome to the land of the living, Mr. Sleepy Pill Addict."

I bite my bottom lip. This girl is really cute. At least her face is. It's like cuteness swaddled in candy and sugar and oh god please don't talk to me because I'm pretty sure I'll just vomit all over the floor. She isn't tall like I thought she would be. In fact, I think I've seen her somewhere before. I mean, I don't get out of my room much these days. But I've probably seen her in the halls before. It's not like there's a gigantic student body at Yamaku.

"You're awake, Mr. Yoshida."

I nod feebly before sitting up in the small bed. The Nurse draws back the curtains to reveal the short girl's entirety and the rather flattering gym clothes she has on. And the funny metal bits coming out of the bottom of her knees.

"And how much of that did you hear?"

I glance at the girl and then to him. I open my mouth.


The girl giggles. My heart slams into my stomach. Stupid mouth. Stupid brain. Just agree for once please so I don't look like a complete jackass in front of this girl.

"You must still be groggy. Would you care to join us out here?"

I give him another feeble nod before hopping off the bed. They move out of the way as I shuffle over, avoiding looking at either of them.The nurse picks up the conversation first, after picking up my medical folder again. You could probably kill a man with something that heavy. Maybe if he dropped it on my stomach it could pop my back into something that actually worked? I don't know how this stuff works. He's the medical expert.

"Mr. Yoshida, this is Emi."

The girl gives me a little wiggle of her fingers and mouths the word "Hello" at me. Oh god she's cheery. I force vomit back down my throat. Well, not really. But it certainly felt like I did.

"Now, as we discussed before," He opens up my file and pulls a single sheet of paper from its depths. The nurse holds it out to me. I gingerly pluck it from his grip. This thing will probably explode if I hold it wrong, won't it?

Emi grabs my arm and pulls it down so she can look at the paper in my hands. I promptly drop it at the skin on skin contact.

"Geez, you klutz." Emi mutters. I mutter something along the lines of an apology and stoop to pick it up. Emi grabs my arm again as soon as I pop back up. She moves my entire arm so that she can see the writing on the paper.

"That's the old plan we drew up for him two and a half months ago. Now, I get that sticking to it when you're less than a year from graduation, Mr. Yoshida, is going to be impossible." He opens an eye.

"So I've devised a new plan for you."

Oh god this is going to be awful isn't it?

"You're going to start running."

That is awful. I don't think I've run since... ever.

"And to make sure you stick to your plan, I've enlisted the help of one Emi Ibarazaki."

Emi gives me another little wiggle of her fingers. My heart melts and drips all over the floor.

"I happen to think there's no better motivator for a young man than a pretty young girl. But Emi was the best I could do."

Emi gives the Nurse some sort of hurt look.

"Hey! I'm pretty!" She shoves me with one hand, still glaring at the nurse.

"Tell him I'm pretty."

I make another squeaking noise. Because that certainly isn't going to happen, Emi.

And they're staring at me now. Great. My eyes shoot back to the floor. Is that gum?

"Well, in any case, Emi you're to make sure that this young man goes running with you every day for the rest of the year."

I look up again. He can't be serious. Running? Every day? I'm going to die. My back is going to snap in half on the first day and then I'll be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life and...

"Okay! No problem!" Emi pipes up. She's practically jumping up and down. Why is she doing that?

"Very well. And as I said while you were sleeping, Yoshida, you are welcome to pick up your medication refills from me personally. At least until we're sure you're going to be alright."

I look down at the floor again as he pushes a filled bottle of my pain killers into my hand. It’s filled with the lower dosage ones he gave me earlier. Awesome.

"That's all! You two play nice now." The nurse hands me a small slip of paper. Ah. The note excusing me from morning classes. I take it and mutter a barely audible thank you. The Nurse cracks an eye open.

"Be sure to see me after your run tomorrow, Yoshida."

I give him a feeble nod before heading towards the door. Emi already has it open. She's leaning against it to keep it in place. I shuffle past her, avoiding any chance of possible physical contact. She lets the door swing shut behind her as she falls into line with me.

"What class are you in?"

I blink a few times and try to work my jaw.


Emi starts giggling again. She stops abruptly and grabs my arm again.

"You can talk right? Like... that's not why you're here, is it?"

No. I can talk just fine. That's just because you're a pretty girl and you're touching my arm.

"N-No. I can t-talk." Why are my teeth chattering? It's not even cold anymore. Did I just pee my pants? I might have. I don't know anymore. Please let go of my arm, Emi. You're doing things to my head that I don't understand and I'm so bad with girls like that time I threw up on Yuka in gym at my old school and why is it so cold now because it was really hot in the nurse's office even though he had the air conditioning set to sub-arctic levels and why are you still touching me could you PLEASE LET GO OF MY ARM.

Emi giggles again. "Good! It'd be really hard for us to get along if you had trouble talking."

I just give her a tiny nod, trying to look at anything but her face.

"So you'll meet me on the track tomorrow at seven, right?"

"S-Seven? In the evening?"

Emi actually laughs. Oh god. I'm an idiot. She's laughing at me.

"No! I mean seven in the morning! Morning runs are the best! They'll wake you up and get you pumped for the rest of the day!" She lets go of me to slap me across the stomach with her forearm. I let out a very audible "oomph" and nearly double over. She's a lot stronger than she looks apparently. Emi stops walking as I groan in agony.

"Wha- I'm sorry! I didn't mean to hurt you!"

That didn't hurt! You just surprised me is all! I'm not weak! I'm strong! I'm a strong and manly man!

I shove myself up, holding a hand to my lower back. That sudden movement sort of irritated that dull throb.

"It's... It's fine. Really." I hold up a hand to stop her from getting any closer. "I wasn't expecting you to do that. You caught me off guard."

Emi stares at me. "Are- Are you sure?"

I nod. "Yeah. Had I been expecting it, I would have totally flipped you over my shoulder. On account of my ninja instincts."

Oh god I'm actually talking to her. And that was what I had to say? Some stupid joke like that?

Emi starts laughing. She doesn't have to do that. I know how bad that was.

"I'll keep that in mind. But you really wouldn't hurt a cute little girl like me, would you?" She starts walking again and I find myself following behind her.

I shake my head. "Not unless you attack me again."

Okay. Brain. Stop making stupid jokes. This isn't Nobou. This is a girl. You aren't going to impress her with stupid jokes like that.

"I think I could probably take you." She retorts.

I shrug.

"So what class are you in?"

"Uh, 3-3. With Mutou."

"You're a third-year?"

I nod. What? I don't look old enough to be in my last year of school? Please don't tell me I look like a little boy or something like that.

"I thought you looked younger."

Ugh. You had to say that? Is that even a compliment? Or is that just a statement? How am I supposed to take that? Girls are stupid. Wait! No! No they aren't. I am. Please don't be mad at me because I thought you were stupid. Well, I don't mean you. I just meant your entire gender.

Oh god that's worse. I’m making this so much worse.

"Well, I'll see you tomorrow..." She trails off, staring at me.

"It's Yoshida. Katsuo Yoshida."

"Right! I knew that! I'll see you tomorrow, Katsuo! Bright and early at seven, right?"

Anything you say, pretty girl.

"Uh, yeah. Seven."

She grabs my arm again and fixes me with a very, very stern look.

"You better be there if you know what's good for you, Katsuo."

Please stop touching me.

"Y-Yeah. I g-got it."

She lets go of my arm and her look dissipates and turns into that cheery little smile again.

"Okay! Bye!"

And without further ado, Emi runs off down the hall, leaving me alone to stare at my arm. That gooey feeling overtakes my heart. She was very friendly. And helpful. And pretty. She was a very friendly, helpful pretty girl.


Seven? In the morning?

"Who goes running at seven in the morning?."
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Re: Once More [Update: 7/16]

Post by Doloni » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:23 pm

I can't help but think of this poor fellow when I read your writing. Otherwise I find it quite hilarious and the story's good too, eagerly awaiting your next update!

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Re: Once More [Update: 7/16]

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:02 pm

Great chapter. Found his thoughts upon meeting Emi for the first time very entertaining.
Best girl

Best route

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Re: Once More [Update: 7/16]

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:55 am

and the air conditioner is set at a comfortable seventy degrees in here
Japan uses Celsius scale, not Fahrenheit.
Very sensible people, the Japanese...

In other news: Yay, backstory!
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
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Re: Once More [Update: 7/16]

Post by Dr.Worm » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:11 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote: Japan uses Celsius scale, not Fahrenheit.
Very sensible people, the Japanese...

In other news: Yay, backstory!
Gah! You've told me that before.

One of these days, I'm going to remember that Celsius thing.
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Re: Once More [Update: 7/16]

Post by Dr.Worm » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:28 pm

--- Chapter 10, Part 1: Flexibility

Seven in the morning comes a lot slower than I thought it would.

I spent the remainder of the previous day in a haze, due to the combined forces of a low throb of pain in my back, the lack of comfortable sleep and the knowledge that I would get to see Emi again tomorrow. Usually, I’m a pretty good student, with my undivided attention focused on the lesson. But that certainly wasn’t the case yesterday. Yesterday, I was too preoccupied with equal parts enthusiasm and dread over my morning runs with Emi that would start today.

The last time I ran was at Shogun’s Castle and I was running away in shame. Before that was the time I punched Nobou in the balls and he threatened to kill me over a comic book. And that was four years ago.

I suppose I wasn’t the most active child.

Before the hospital, I was always kind of a hefty kid. Not grossly fat, but definitely chubby. I have a pretty healthy appetite. But after my hospital stint, along with my body rejecting anything remotely edible I had the mind to chase my morning medication cocktails with, my fat sort of just melted off.

And it’s not a healthy looking skinny either. I kind of look like I’ve been dealing with an eating disorder the last few months or something. I’m just skin and bones in some places.

So maybe, just maybe, the Nurse is onto something by sending me on these morning runs. I could stand to gain some definition to my form. I could probably also use the sunshine. I don’t get out of my room so much, so the only sort of “shine” I get is from the glow of my laptop’s screen. Oh, right, and he said it should help with my chronic back pain so that’s also a plus, I suppose.

What would have really helped with being prepared for this run was a good night’s sleep. So I made it a point to be off my computer and in bed by ten thirty that night. Of course, my brain had other ideas and had to linger on things like Hayate and Shogun’s Castle, then Sachi who turned into Emi and then my sister as she looking down at me in horror. Then my back pain showed up to really get the party started. I ended up staring at the ceiling until I was too exhausted to keep my eyes open anymore.

I slept for maybe an hour.

And there wasn’t enough time to get anything to eat before I was supposed to be at the track.

So here I am now. Standing in my ill-fitting gym shorts and white shirt and a pair of beat up Velcro secured sneakers with the track stretched out before me, taunting me. It’s the Sahara that I’m about to cross. I’m not actually dreading the running anymore. I know that I can’t run properly. I know that I won’t be able to run for very long. I’m more concerned with how Emi is going to look at me when I run like I’ve just discovered my legs ten seconds ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m comfortable with who I am… when I’m alone in my room with no one there.

But I am highly uncomfortable with who I am around other people.

Mostly on account of all the staring and snickering and pointing.

The sun is already beating down on the track, but there’s a breeze flinging a chill around. I shiver. Maybe I should have just put on some regular shorts or something. I only put on the damn gym shorts because I figured Emi might go a little easier on me if I looked like I was taking this more seriously than I really am. And maybe she might think I was kind of cool or something and this was a terrible idea. Why did I ever think this would work? It’s going to be so obvious in a matter of minutes just how athletic and clumsy and out of shape that I am. What difference is a pair of old gym shorts going to make then?

Okay. I can stand to be a little late, right? Emi’s late already. By like a minute or something. I’m just going to run back to my room and pull on some normal shorts and then I’ll be back and I can totally apologize over and over again about being late. I can just say that I overslept because my back kept me up all night. Which is only slightly a lie.

But as I turn around, that little bundle of energy appears over the top of the bleachers, clad in a gym uniform that I’m sure gets more use than mine. She practically starts shooting light out of her body with excitement as she bounds down the stairs on those funny metal leg blade things towards me. I guess leaving is out of the question now. Why does she have to be so chipper in the morning? It doesn’t make me feel any more chipper and fails to put pep in my step. It just makes me feel even shittier about my lack of sleep.

I’m also now aware that no matter where I hold my arms at, it’s completely awkward. And that I slouch when I walk and it kind of makes me look like I’ve got a hunch and everyone can totally see that but I should try not to think about it because then it’ll be more obvious. So I should just not think about it. Also I shouldn’t think about that zit that’s forming on my chin because then I’ll try to hide it and Emi will see it and think that I’m being an idiot. And she’ll think that I don’t wash because I have acne.

So I’ll be totally okay as long as I don’t think about any of those things.

I cross my one and a half arms across my chest and attempt to look casual.

Yeah. Just casually standing out in the open at the track. At seven in the morning. Doing nothing.

“Katsuo! You’re early!” She beams.

“No. You’re late.” Smooth.

I do have a way with the ladies. It doesn’t work at all, but it is certainly a way.

“Only by a minute.” She pouts. “Don’t be such a jerk.”

While Emi’s trying her hardest to look genuinely hurt, the puffed cheeks and pouting lip just makes her look more adorable. I don’t think this girl can do mad. She might be one of those air-headed balls of sunshine that I’ve heard so much about. That look pulls me up by my testicles and slaps me across the face.

I’m certainly awake now.


I try to give her a smile in some sort of half-assed apology. Her grin reappears, so I guess it worked.

“Did you get a lot of sleep?”


“Sort of. My back kept me up for a while.” I uncross my arms and drop them to my sides.

Emi nods as if that is an acceptable answer.

“Well a good night’s sleep is really important if you’re going to be exercising! “ She grabs me by the wrist and starts tugging me closer to the track.

What is with this girl and physical contact?

She suddenly drops her hand from my wrist and turns on me. She opens her mouth and then furrows her brow. I put my hands on my hips.

“Did you stretch?”


“Do I have to stretch? I thought we were just going to run. Isn’t that just walking but slightly faster or whatever?” And that is probably the stupidest sentence I have ever let come out of my mouth.

Emi laughs. I don’t know if it’s because she thinks I’m being funny, which I’m not, or because I’m an idiot, which I am.

“Stretching is the most important thing! If you don’t stretch properly then you can cramp up or really hurt your muscles during the workout.” She lays into me. I guess she borrowed a few mother grams of guilt trips from the Nurse today.

“Oh. Alright.”

“Yep! Flexibility is really important, Katsuo!” Emi beams, before bending at the waist and practically shoving her head between her legs. I groan quietly and avert my gaze. It is way too early in the morning to be aroused like this.

“Okay. Well, I’m not going to be able to do that.”

Emi shoots up and gives me the cutest, angry look anyone has ever given me.

“You can’t be a pessimist like that! You have to try or you won’t get any better!”

I’d love to go into a fifteen minute discussion on just why I’ll never be able to shove my head between my legs, but I actually detest the idea. I just shrug my shoulders at Emi. She stomps over to me and starts shoving my left arm up and across my chest.

“Hold that there! You need to stretch!”

It kind of hurts but I’d rather deal with that than disappointing this girl. So I hold the pose until she starts pulling at my stumped arm.

“Wait, you can’t just-”

“You have to stretch both sides,” Emi starts, as she shoves my right arm up. I attempt to step back, but she’s got some sort of iron grip on my arm and I can’t pull away from it.

“Otherwise you’ll-”


Emi jumps back in shock as I scream.

“What was that for?” Her normally cute smiling face is replaced with something I'm more accustomed to seeing on my sister. Anger.

“I have fucking pins in my shoulder holding my arm together!” I get out through my pain-clenched jaw. I can feel a bit of spittle slip through my teeth. Normally I wouldn’t swear in front of a lady like this, but I think this is a special circumstance.

“You… What?” The anger disappears for a mixture of concern and confusion.

Jesus! Didn't the nurse explain this to you?

“I can’t move my right arm up that far! It hurts too much,” I explain. I make a futile attempt to dull the pain by rubbing it with my hand. “Sorry for swearing.”

“Oh… Okay. And it’s fine. I don’t mind,” Emi trails off as she takes a tentative step back to me. “You’re alright, right?”

I wave her concern off. While it’s going to freaking sting all day when I move my shoulder, I’ll just deal with it. She didn’t know, so I can’t get mad at her. Not that I would get mad at some cute girl who’s actually agreeing to spend some time with me, even if it is a Nurse ordered directive.

Emi takes that step closer to me, a hand outstretched. More concern? That’s understandable. I did just scream out of nowhere. I wave her off again.

“I’m fine now, really.” I’m not.


“Yes.” No.

Emi’s concern seems to wash away as she giggles. “Well, I’m still sorry. But come on! Let’s finish up those stretches or we’ll be late for class.”

“Ugh. Class. Right. I have to go to that after this, don’t I?” I moan. I’m really going to feel the lack of sleep as Muto goes on about whatever science-y thing he’s got planned for today. There might be nothing I love more than science, but there’s no way I’m going to make it through that without a nap.

Emi leads me through the rest of the stretches which, thankfully, mostly involve my legs. I can do them with little to no difficulty, though Emi still has to hold my hand and walk me through each and every single one of them. It makes the run that’s quickly approaching look even worse. Emi does everything effortlessly and looks so graceful, while I’m just barely managing to keep myself upright through it all.

The only shining bit of this morning so far is the face that Emi makes when she has to teach me something. She scrunches her face in concentration, almost pouting. I can feel my heart get lighter each time I catch sight of it. She giggles every time she has to tell me to hold a stretch longer or that I’m holding it for a bit too long.

Damn you, Nurse. Damn you.

Emi finally pulls me up by my good arm and begins dragging me to the track. I wish she’d stop dragging me around like this. Especially for this.

Here it comes. Here comes the part where I make myself look like a complete idiot.
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Re: Once More [Update: 7/16]

Post by Dr.Worm » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:31 pm

Chapter 10, Part 2: Flexibility

“Come on! Come on! We’ve got to start running already or I won’t be able to shower after the run.”

Damn you, Nurse. Damn you.

Emi lets go of my arm and lines up with me on the track. I tug on my shirt collar and look around. The last time I wore these clothes wasn’t exactly pretty. I’m usually glad I was able to opt out of gym classes here after my first few weeks. Bur right now, I’m kicking past Katsuo up and down this track for being so stupid.

I can’t even remember the last time I set foot on a track like this. Middle school? Maybe. I don’t think I tried very hard to run though. I think Nobou and I just walked around and argued over the coolest gundam series.

“We’re just going to go for a mile today, alright?”

“A mile?” I repeat, stunned. Why not half a mile? Why not less than that? Why don’t I just jog to the end of the bend here and fall over and pass out? Does that work? I hope it does. That’s probably what I’m about to do.

“Yep! Four laps around the track. Ready?”

“No.” I mutter.

“Too bad! Come on!”

And like that Emi pushes out from our line and sets the pace. I groan quietly and attempt my best jog after her. I can feel my gym shorts ride up against my thighs in protest of the current turn of events. I guess I should have picked up a newer uniform yesterday, but hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Emi stays in front of me, but at least she doesn’t get too far ahead of me. She’s probably slowing down for my sake. I’m sure that the Nurse filled her in on how badly out of shape I am. Or she just sort of guessed correctly based on ten seconds of looking at me. Gah. I can’t think like this or I’ll just fall over in front of her. I lower my head and concentrate on my thudding of my sneakers against the dirt of the track. One. Two. One. Two. One. Two.

We pass the first bend and I can feel my whole body get lighter. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

I look up and Emi’s gotten even further ahead of me. Another groan of frustration comes out of me as I pick up the pace and try to close the distance.

The effort makes me start breathing through my slacked jaw before we even get to the second bend.

Emi glances over her shoulder and gives me, what I can only assume, is an encouraging look. I don’t exactly have enough experience with girls to compare it with anything else but a weird scowl or Sachi’s quiet laughter and matter-of-fact corrections. And my sister’s behavior and I don’t want to start comparing this girl to my sister more than my dream already did last night.

“Keep going Katsuo! We’ve only got three more to go!” Emi calls out to me.

Oh look at that! We already went once around the track.

Too bad I don’t have much more in me. I can already feel my heart threatening to burst out of my chest. But, like all men, I push it aside and give Emi a thumb up, in an effort to impress her. She gives me a nod and turns her gaze forward again.

I take the opportunity to let out a particularly ghastly wheeze for air.

She giggles ahead of me.

“We won’t speed up or anything! Just keep going!”

Guess I should have held that in for a little bit longer.

“And you don’t have to swing your arm up and down like that! It won’t help you run any faster!”

Well, excuse me. I’m new to this whole running thing.

We round the first bend again. Half of the second lap down, right? I can at least make the second lap. I have to hold it all together for the second lap. Emi won’t want to keep talking to me if I can’t do a measly half-mile run.

Sweat drips off my nose and flies into my open mouth. I cough and nearly throw up on myself. Disgusting! I taste disgusting!

I make it to the second bend before my back decides it’s had enough of this crap and tells my legs that it’s time to mess everything up. I crash my right foot into my left ankle. My whole body decides to go along with the trip and I crash into the ground, rolling over twice.

My back laughs at my agony and that sharp pain returns.

I lay there in agony, staring up at the open skies. That’s what I get. That’s what I get for trying to change how I’ve been living these last few years and attempting to impress a pretty girl.

Emi suddenly appears in my skies, her visage splashed with concern again. I guess after my whole yelling at her for shoving my arm thing earlier, me taking a nasty spill is pretty scary.

“Katsuo! Are you okay?”

I shake my head, stirring up dust.

“What happened?” Emi grabs me by my good arm and starts hauling me up. It’s a slow, arduous process to get me up into a sitting position, but this girl is a lot stronger than her tiny frame allows her to appear. Not to mention I practically go catatonic when she touches me. She crouches down next to me as I catch my breath and try to form something better than “I tripped over my own feet.”

“I… uhm…. fell.” I scratch the back of my neck. It feels dirty. Oh right. I landed in dirt. I’m really going to need a shower after all of this.

“Well, I got that much, Katsuo.” Emi pouts. “But how? Did you trip? Is it your back?”

Oh god. Yes. That would have been a much better explanation. Let’s go with that. Not with how I tripped over my own two feet.

“Yes. I got this sudden, sharp pain in my lower back and I guess it just floored me.”

“Do I have to go get the nurse?” Emi shoves herself up.

I wave her concern off again. No. Don’t get the Nurse. God knows how badly he’ll lay into me today.

“No. It’s gone now. Just help me up, please.” I hold my arm up. I’ll have to deal with my awkwardness with Emi touching me for two seconds. Emi pulls me up with her freakish strength faster that I thought humanly possible.

I place my hand against my back and wince.

“That doesn’t look like it’s gone…” Emi trails off as I shoot her a glare.

“It’s fine. I’m fine.” I say each syllable sternly.

“Well, maybe you should keep walking… as a cool down. You almost ran half a mile today. The Nurse said you probably wouldn’t even be able to do one lap around the track without having to stop and walk.” Emi explains. She grabs my stumped right arm very gingerly and starts pulling me along. I stifle a groan and let her drag me along with her.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Nurse.

Emi lets go after I pull my arm away and keep walking.

“I’m going to finish up and do some sprints, alright? Just keep walking and stop me if we need to go to the Nurse.”

I just give her a quick nod and turn my gaze back down to the ground. My back still hurts, but at least it isn’t that deep stabbing anymore. It’s returned to that low throb that it turned into yesterday. Emi dashes off, I can tell from the chik-chik-chik of those blade leg things.

Great. She thinks I’m some wimp that can’t even run half a stupid mile. At least she isn’t as bad as the Nurse’s “less than a quarter mile” crap. I don’t even look up as she runs past me. Why should I? I can’t run a stupid mile. I shouldn’t even think about looking at Emi. It’ll just get my hopes up.

She passes me again. My heart has already settled at the bottom of my stomach. Still, I plod on with my head hung low and my spirits even lower.

Eventually, Emi stops me from walking any further.

“Come on. We’re going to the Nurse’s office. You keep wincing with each step.”

“I’m fine, Emi. Really.”

“No excuses. You need to go see the Nurse after we run so you can get your pills anyway.” Emi lays into me and grabs my left hand. I immediately pry it from her vice-grip and give her the biggest frown I can muster.

“I s-said I was fine. It wasn’t even that bad of a fall.”

“No excuses! Come on.” Emi circles around me and places both her hands on my shoulders. She pushes forward, in an attempt to get me going, but I am kind of bigger than her and probably weigh more too. Scratch that, I definitely weigh more than her, despite my sudden loss of fat from my time in the hospital.

“Gah! Fine. If it’ll get you to stop shoving me around like this.” I heave myself forward and off her hands. Emi stumbles into my back from the sudden loss of weight against her palms.

If this were some sort of perverted anime, I’m sure we’d both fall down and somehow she’d end up sitting on my face. And then there’d be a nose bleed and a slap across my face.

So thank fuck for this being real life, I guess.

“Sorry.” I mutter. I can feel my face burning up. I can’t believe some girl bumping into me gets me so excited.

“Come on! Get your ass in gear, Katsuo!” She shoves me, a smile on her face.

Well, at least she’s in a good mood.
At least I still have The Worst Miki

I'll leave the front unlocked because I can't hear the doorbell.
Also, I write Fanfiction, apparently. [Once More] & [Breaking the Sound Barrier]

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Re: Once More [Update: 7/16]

Post by Dr.Worm » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:35 pm

Chapter 10, Part 3: Flexibility

The Nurse’s visit with me was pretty quick. He just asked if I had any back pain after my fall. I lied and told him that it was nothing more than usual, mostly to try to save a shred of dignity in front of Emi. Then he gave me my pills and told me I was free to go.

Emi stopped me before I left the office and told me to meet her up on the roof for lunch. It was an offer, but the tone and demeanor of the offer pretty much made it an order. And I had to go ahead and stupidly nod my agreement to the plan, despite my reluctance with going anywhere near the roof of the school building.

Class with Mutou was nothing special. I chugged down two sodas before class and the sugar just barely managed to help me keep my eyes open for his lecture on string theory. I had been hoping for more discussion on particles, but I guess I can’t get everything I want, now can I? And while I did manage to stay awake for the whole lecture, I didn’t exactly absorb anything. The group work he assigned for the last half of class was easy enough that I breezed through it without saying anything to the other two guys I always get paired up with. I just filled out the formulas and spun my worksheet around for them to copy off of.

Lunch arrived much sooner than I had hoped it would. I’ve managed to scrape up nothing in the terms of nerves for lunch on the roof with Emi. I’m tempted to turn around and head back into my room. Nothing sounds better right now than curling up in my bed and watching a movie. I won’t have to embarrass myself in front of Emi and I won’t have to go up onto the roof.

I’m not sure what I’m more scared of: The roof or Emi being upset with me. Here I am, one and a half days into knowing about this girl’s very existence and I’m already worrying about standing her up at lunch. It’s not like I’d be lying if I said I was too tired to do anything but go back to my room and sleep. But with the Nurse’s command that I run with her every day looming right there in front of me, I should really give this some thought. With how pushy she is when she’s happy with me, I don’t want to see what she’s like when I’ve ticked her off.

It’s just… the roof is really high up and I have this thing with heights. We don’t get along very well. Heights are scary and I’m prone to sweating and shaking and being really, really uncomfortable with them.

I place my foot onto the first step of the stairwell that leads to the roof. I can’t even deal with my room being on the second floor of the dormitories on most days. And I’m about to go up a lot of stairs to a place located even higher than that.

This is stupid. I should just go back to my room and lay down. I’m just going to pass out on the roof at this rate, either from shock or exhaustion.


I turn my head to see Emi dashing down the hall, weaving through the other students. Damn, she’s spotted me. I guess I’m going up to the roof now. The girl running directly at me isn’t supported by those weird leg-blade things she had on this morning. She must have some other prosthetics on under those long socks. How does she run on those things? Isn’t it weird to just sort of have your legs end there and be supported by basically… stilts? I get all shuddery when my stump accidentally brushes against a wall or a person or anything really. The skin there feels really sensitive and tender still for some reason. It’s part of the reason I wear the long sleeve uniform all the time.

“You actually came! I thought you’d blow me off for sure.”

“Well, actually I am really ti-”

“I brought us some bread. Do you like curry bread?” She holds up a plastic bag, which I assume the aforementioned bread is in.

And did she say curry bread?

“Curry bread is delicious.” I reply almost robotically.

Emi smiles and nods enthusiastically. “Good! Hurry up now! She’s waiting for us on the roof!”


“Yeah. Lucky you, huh? Getting to eat lunch with two high school beauties! I bet you weren’t expecting that today!”

Crap. Another girl? That’s the last thing I need right now. I open my mouth to spit out something about having to go back to my room and lay down. Emi doesn’t let me get a single word out before she places her hands against the small of my back and gives me a shove.

“Come on! We’re already late!”

“Uh, can’t we just eat in the cafeteria? Or someplace normal? The roof is pretty far up and my legs are tired…”

“Come on, Katsuo! Didn’t I say this morning that you have to be flexible? The roof isn’t that bad! Besides there’ll be two girls up there.”

Well someone’s pushy, isn’t she? Literally. I sigh, letting any ideas of having a peaceful and boring lunch in my room drift away as I let Emi guide me up the stairs. As we climb up, each foot increases its weight as anxiety starts to flood into me. The roof. The roof. It might as well be on fire. That would be my luck.

As we near the door, I swear I’m drowning in sweat. I was sort of hoping that Emi would pick up on how uncomfortable heading up this stairwell was making me and how I was dragging my feet to slow us down. But I guess she’s just the sort of person who steamrolls over everything. She’s certainly a short steamroller, at least. And cute one too.

I guess that’s why I’m still moving.

Emi has to slip around me and push the door open, because I’m frozen in place at the top step. She holds the door open for me. I make a noise halfway between a groan and a whimper before lifting my foot and placing it on the pebble covered roof. I close my eyes and take my first step onto the school’s roof.

And then another. And one more.

The door clacks shut behind me.

“You’re late.”

I extend my arm behind me until I feel the wall around the door. I press my back against it and finally let go of that breath I’ve been saving for what seems hours now.

Then I open my eyes.

Sprawled out on the roof in front of us is a girl, eyes focused on the sky above. I’d look up but I think I’d puke with how much closer we are to the atmosphere now. Emi reaches into the bag around her arm and tosses one individually-wrapped pastry onto the girl’s stomach. At least I think it’s a girl. If it is, she’s wearing a boy’s uniform.

Her short red hair fans out just below her ears, or at least where I assume her ears end. It doesn’t look like she combs it. I don’t either. But at least she has an excuse, considering she’s lacking both of her arms. She looks up to the sky with half-open green eyes, her face oh so perfectly blank.

“Well someone had to drag his feet all the way up the stairwell.” Emi shoots me a dirty look, but quickly follows it up with a little smile. I guess she isn’t really mad at me. Good. I don’t think I could mentally process that at the moment.

The girl sits up and stares at me. I stare back and slowly lift my hand in a half-hearted wave.

“Uh… h-hi, Emi’s friend…” I manage to keep myself from hyperventilating long enough to sputter that out.

No wave comes back. Probably because she lacks the arms to actually wave back. With how much time I spend locked up in my room, sometimes I forget about the disabilities of other students. I’m just really concerned about mine. I quickly drop my hand, lest this gesture be offensive to her.

“Hello, Emi’s other friend.” She nods.

Emi’s face lights up in sudden realization that this is the first time that this girl and I are meeting. She stoops and picks up the bread on the other girl’s stomach before starting with the introductions.

“Right! Katsuo, this is Rin! Rin, this is Katsuo! Nurse said I have to make him run because he’s even lazier than you are.”

I give Rin another little wave. She blinks and her gaze immediately snaps to my stumped right arm.

“How’d you lose your arm?”



Seriously? That’s the first thing she asks me? How did I lose my arm? I’m barely holding it together right now and she wants to ask about how I lost an arm. Great. Fantastic. Just fantastic.

“Sorry, Rin’s a little… blunt.”

“It’s a perfectly reasonable question.” Rin drawls.

Emi gives me a sort of apologetic pout for her friend, who is still staring at my arm, might I add. Something tells me that Rin isn’t going to be easy to get along with if she’s this… open about it.

“How’d you lose both of yours?” I ask in return. Maybe shooting the question back at her will get the hint across. Besides, I really don’t want to think about the accident when I’m already barely holding it together from being on the school roof. I shove my back even closer to the wall behind me. My heart demands to be let out of my rib-cage so it can return to someplace with a much safer, much shorter distance from the ground.

Rin blinks and silence stretches between us. Finally, she flicks her gaze to my face for a fraction of a second before it turns back to my stump.

“I asked first.”

“It’s not a very interesting story.” I lie.

Seconds tick by. Seconds tick by while I’m standing on the roof. Why? Why did it have to be up here? I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. It doesn’t help.

“I didn’t ask for a story. I asked how you lost it.” Rin continues, frowning.

“Guess.” I spit out without thinking. A second passes before I fully realize that those words just came out of my mouth. I don’t actually want this girl to guess. I just want her to stop asking. And then I want to hurry down the stairs and back to my room so I can curl up in the fetal position under my blanket.


Rin stares at my arm for a second more before standing. She turns away from Emi and starts heading down the roof. I turn my head to follow her. There are a few old benches and tables scattered about the roof just a short distance away. It still looks like miles away to my aching body and shaking nerves.
At least I still have The Worst Miki

I'll leave the front unlocked because I can't hear the doorbell.
Also, I write Fanfiction, apparently. [Once More] & [Breaking the Sound Barrier]

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