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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:18 am

MIKI

Knock. Knock.

The fuck? It’s a quarter to six. Mmm, warm. Soft too.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

I give Neko a little shake. “They’re not going away.”

“You take care of it, arse-face. I’m pinned to the wall.” Oh, I guess you are. Sorry about that.

I don’t know who I was expecting to find on the other side of the door, but it wasn’t Emi. She seems just as surprised to see me. I give her a quick look-over, but everything seems to be in place except one. She’s dressed to run, but in walking legs. I hold the door open about 15 cm. “Morning, sunshine. To what do we owe the honor?”

“Oh, hi, I um… left my running legs in the radio room last night.”

Neko’s voice emerges from a pile of blankets against the wall. “Bloody hell. You deal with this, arse-face. The key is attached to the rest by a clip, so you can take just the one. Give it back later, or if there’s someone using the room already, leave it with them.”

I rummage through the keys hung on the back of the door. “You have several keys clipped on that way.”

“It’s the one that says DO NOT DUPLICATE.” Alright, there’s only one of those.

I step out into the hall and close the door behind me. “If you’re willing to swing by my room and let me dress, I’ll run with you. I’m still a bit sore, Kenta had me on two-a-days in your absence. I think it’s your turn now.” I wait until we’re out of the halls before getting nosy. “So how was your second date with Sharky?”

Emi stamps her foot and crosses her arms. “Dammit, he doesn’t like it when you call him a shark. He thinks it’s disrespectful. I know you two don’t like each other, but you can at least be civil. Also, it was the first date, not the second.”

“Alright then, let me rephrase. How did your date with our attorney go?” I stretch as I slip into my gray sports bra, but Emi is already doing her track stretches and not paying attention.

“Ever been to Sendai Hi-Land?” Her eyes flash as she looks back up at me.

“Nope, not since I got here. Would you recommend it?”

“I’d recommend the whole team go once the season is over. It’s pretty bad-ass.” She’s starting to sound a bit like me, except I probably would have said hella.

“Convince Kenta, not me, but you have my vote. You ready?”

Upon reaching the empty radio room, it takes only a moment for Emi to locate her legs, as they were exactly where we’d planted them before yesterday’s deposition. She changes them on the spot, and is bouncing down the stairs on the way out.

I really am sore from yesterday’s double workout, and take it pretty easy this morning. I notice Emi isn’t going out all that hard either, maybe because I’m not pushing her or maybe she just isn’t feeling quite herself yet, or maybe she is saving something for a second session. Whatever it is, Kenta notices it as well and takes a moment to talk to me.

“You think Emi’s alright? Something seems a little bit off today. Maybe I should have made her take another day off.”

“Good luck with that. She probably would have tried it regardless. I’m a little bit surprised she took the two days without cheating or complaining, although she is just a little bit distracted right now. In case you hadn’t noticed, she’s suffering from a case of sharkbite. But yeah, she’s not exactly ready for prime time.”

“Fine, then you’re getting the afternoon session. I have to torture someone. It’s in my job description.”
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:24 am

DAISUKE

I hate this fucking car. I swear Toyota designed the Ractis to be as boring as humanly possible. My boss promised I’d get upgraded as soon as someone newer came along, but so far, no new hires have been deserving of a company car. I shouldn’t complain – it’s one less thing to pay for, and that allows me to take a place much closer to the office than I otherwise would – but still I feel like the hazing ritual has gone on long enough.

On the bright side, it’s easy to find parking for it, and I make it to the 1 pm court session with a good twenty minutes to spare. Usually being the first session after lunch means things move as slowly as the judge’s digestive tract, but today I catch a break and my motion has not even been opposed. Fifteen minutes after one, and I’m on my way back to the office with a court filing in hand.

By two, I’m done trying to convince my boss about the merits of our case. “Do your best, but we get paid either way,” was the way he put it. Fine, I’ll be in the library doing a bit of research with my zero-man staff.

Just before three I get a text from Sally that the rule books have arrived. Books? Apparently she got two. That works, this way the team can just send me page numbers and paragraphs instead of waiting for them to mark up their whole book. I figure getting my hands on that will beat anything I could be doing in the library, so I head on out to the ranch.

For a change, Sally answers the door personally. “Coffee, wine, martini? I’d offer you food but Ben’s out and you don’t want to see my cooking.”

“Coffee’s fine, nothing more, I’m not going to stay long. I wanted to deliver the good news personally.” I follow wherever she is leading.

“What news is that?” I hand her the injunction. “So you won then?”

“I wish the news was that good. No, we haven’t won, but this means a judge feels our case has sufficient merit that Emi must be allowed to run.”

“Any idea when this might really get settled?” Sally has a bit of a ‘why did I get dragged into this’ look about her.

“No less than a month, the committee won’t even take up the issue until the season ends. Practically speaking though, we’re probably looking at this running well into next year. Don’t worry,” I say when I catch the look on her face, “that doesn’t mean we have to be working, or billing, that entire time. Sometimes all we can do is wait.” It’s not the answer she wanted, but it’s honest.

“So I hear you’re getting to be rather friendly with her.”

“More the other way around. She’s been rather friendly with me, not that I’ve exactly tried to persuade her otherwise. And just what makes you think you are in a position…”

“Ah! Stop right there, before you say something stupid.” She wags a finger at me. “I wasn’t going to give you any grief about it. In fact, I think you’d make a cute couple. Do you still want to finish that statement now? I didn’t think so.” She sets the coffee cups on the kitchen table and pours for both of us. She pours Irish cream in hers, holds it up for me, and I raise a hand to decline. I help myself to a spoonful of sugar and stir, and her cup is already half empty. Taking that as a bit of an invitation, I polish mine off the moment the temperature permits.

“I can drop off the second book, if that’s alright with you. I need to deliver the injunction anyhow, and I want to make sure I get there before it’s too late.”

“Too late for what?” She looks at me a bit oddly.

“Well it’s a bit of a surprise… I didn’t tell anyone I was coming. I want to make sure they don’t leave before I get there.”

“Are you sure this is the most efficient use of your time?” I can practically see her counting the billable hours in her head.

“No, I’m sure it’s not, but I’m being given a great deal of latitude on this case and I intend to use it. Besides, if I didn’t, they’d just make me research someone else’s cases, and I really don’t need that distraction right now.”

“Alright then, be on your way. People to do, things to go, and places to see, or something like that, right?”

It’s not particularly funny, but I smile anyhow.

It takes only a few minutes to drive the remaining distance down to Yamaku, and another few to find the track. Kenta and Miki are there, along with a few others I don’t recognize, but I don’t see Emi. It looks like they’re just getting warmed up, so I decide to make myself noticed. It’s not long before Kenta wanders over.

“Hot off the press.” I hand him the injunction, and he skims it quickly and hands it back.

“Perfect. So we do as you said and pretend there’s no protest?”

I nod. “That’s pretty much all there is to it. You already have your work cut out for you from what I understand. You’ll be running against four teams on Saturday, not three. Fukushimaminami opted to allow my motion to pass unopposed, provided they get to run in Hokkaido as well. Same legal logic: if they aren’t allowed to run, and the decision goes their way, then they’ve been irreparably harmed. I couldn’t exactly argue against it without shooting down my own case.”

Kenta shrugs. “We beat them once, we’ll beat them again. Don’t worry about that. So do you want to tell the others or should I?”

“If everyone is here, we might as well let them know.”

“Unfortunately, Emi’s not here. She showed up for practice this morning but couldn’t hide her discomfort. I told her to take it one day at a time. I’d rather have her a little short on conditioning than short on legs.”

She’s even shorter on no legs. No, you did not just almost think that out loud. Bad Daisuke. I give Kenta the book and leave it to him to inform all those present, and wander off to search after the one missing, who I have been informed is most likely in her room. I check the directory at the entrance, and debate using the in-house phone to let her know I’m coming. Ultimately I decide that just winging it has worked pretty well thus far today, and head on up.

In the hallway, I see a red-haired girl in a boy’s uniform struggling to open her door. Her sleeves are dangling, and there is a cloth bag held in her teeth.

“Can I help you?” I ask, not wanting to intrude if my assistance is not desired.

“I don’t know, can you?” She turns and looks at me (with those same green eyes!), but there is no hint of sarcasm in her voice or her expression. I try the door lever, but the door seems to be wedged. When I try again, the girl gives the door a swift kick at just the right moment, and it gives way. “Well, there’s your answer.” She disappears into her room and closes the door behind her.

I turn to the door helpfully marked Ibarazaki, and give two sharp raps with my knuckles. I hear a squeak from the other side, perhaps from a chair, so I wait rather than knocking again. The door opens a crack, and it takes me a moment to realize that the face peeking out is at about waist level.

“Holy shit!” She covers her mouth. “Get in here before someone asks questions!”

I do as instructed and wait until the door has closed behind me. Emi is standing on knee pads. It appears she was working at her desk when I arrived, and if her legs have been bothering her then it only makes sense that she’d not be wearing any prosthetics. Still, it’s the first time I’d actually seen her without them, and it makes me realize just how tiny she really is.

I glance around the room. There’s an unmade bed directly under a window, a nightstand with a clock radio, her writing desk and chair, and a bookcase. That about does it for furniture. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it seems pretty spartan. The walls are another matter. Among with the band and anime posters I would expect, one particular poster catches my eye – Alex Zanardi. I suppose that shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, given her apparent love of racing in all forms, but there are about a dozen little heart stickers scattered around various places on the poster.

“So, you didn’t tell me you already had a boyfriend.” I gesture at the poster.

“Nah, he’s married. He just gets a heart every time he helps me out.” She hand-springs herself onto the bed. “So that was you I heard in the hall?”

“It was indeed. I met your neighbor, she’s a bit of an odd duck. What is it with the green eyes around here?”

“I’m not sure about hers. We’re not related or anything, if that’s what you were wondering.” It wasn’t, but it probably would have crossed my mind sooner or later. “Anyhow, I’m sure you didn’t drive here just to have a chat about Rin, so what brings you here?”

“This.” I hand her a copy of the injunction. “Just as I promised.” She reads, at first with an expression of concentration, but gradually morphing into one of excitement.

“You did it!” She holds her arms up toward me. I’m sure she would have pounced on me if she could, but I don’t want her to get too excited about this.

I grab the chair and take a seat across from her. “I got you declared eligible… for now. That’s a far cry from winning the case. Still, this is about all we can do right now. The committee won’t be hearing any appeals until after the close of the season. That gives us plenty of time to strengthen our case, but right now, you just need to concern yourself with the next race. If you win there, they have to let you go to nationals.” They’ll also let the next team through too, but why spoil her fun by mentioning that? “When you hit the course, just run like it’s the only thing that matters. Don’t let any of this bullshit get to you.” I wave the papers. “I’ve got your back. We all do.”
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:28 am

HISAO

“Don’t worry, it will become automatic soon enough.” Neko grins at me and launches into a crawl stroke at a speed I can’t hope to match, at least not yet. I try to remember how everything fits together, but my head is full of conflicting orders. Keep up your form. High turnover. Two kicks per arm stroke. Breathe in rhythm. Don’t think too much. That’s the hardest one of all, not thinking.

Now she’s passing me going the other way, in some other stroke she hasn’t yet shown me. I reach the end of the pool and just hang on for a while, trying to catch my breath, but decide to get back in motion before she can complete another lap. By the time I reach the other end, she’s made it there herself and is hanging on the edge waiting for me.

“You’re doing fine!” She rubs the top of my head. “Keep working on that, I don’t want to confuse your muscles by having you try something new until you have that firmly ingrained. In a couple more sessions we’ll get you on the backstroke. That’s so completely different that you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping the two separate in your mind. Once you can go forward and backward, you’ll be in pretty good shape. The other two competition strokes are just gravy.”

“I appreciate you spending your lunch this way. I know you miss being behind the radio.”

“Don’t worry about it, I still get my time. Lunches are supposed to be fairly evenly distributed so I can’t spend every day that way even if I want to, and Nurse says I only get to pound on you three times a week for now. In any case, I need to work on my starts and turns now. That’s something I can’t do in the pool at home.” She drops beneath the surface, plants her foot against the wall, and pushes off. She ripples along completely submerged, surfaces just at the end of the red part of the rope, and breaks into the butterfly. All I can do is get a little push and start swimming the only way I know how so far.

The next time we meet at the wall, she changes the agenda a bit. “I think it’s time you get used to not stopping every time you cross. If you’re going to swim in open water – and if you stick with me long enough, you will – you can’t stop and hang onto a wall every fifty meters. Try crossing twice between breaks.”

One hundred meters. That’s only the length of the straightaway on the track. I should be able to handle that, right? My head says it’s not that far, and my eyes say it is, but it’s my heart that’s going to make this decision for me. Somewhere in the middle of the second crossing, I have to grab on to the rope for support or risk passing out in the water. I have enough strength to make it to the side of the pool and climb out before I start coughing so hard it makes me dry heave. I carefully drink from a half liter of bottled water, in case I should continue to feel sick. At least puking up water would beat cramping and bringing up nothing.

“Bloody hell. I didn’t break you, did I?” Neko drapes a towel over my shoulders and sits on the deck chair across from me. I didn’t even hear her coming. All I could hear was the pounding of my heart.

I shake my head, swallow a bit more water, and blink back the nausea as best I can. “I guess mermaids… don’t get… seasick, huh?”

“If they do, they have the decency to do it underwater where nobody has to listen to them. Except for the whales that is, and they cough up some epic lung butter themselves. Can you believe they used to put that stuff in perfume? Get yourself dried off a bit and into your shoes, and I’ll walk you over to see the nurse. I’m sure he’s going to want to have a look at you. I need a moment to get mobile myself.” She dives back into the pool and cuts across on a diagonal, emerging at the end where she placed her belongings.

By the time I get back into my shoes, she’s traded in her tail for legs. She grabs my bag and slings it over her shoulder along with her own. “You can lean on me if you need to, but not too suddenly. It should be fine as long as I have time to adjust to the change.” I just nod and accept the outstretched hand to help me up.

On arrival, Nurse looks at me and jumps out of his chair to help support me. “I told you not to break him the very first day!” He only sounds half-joking as he walks me into the examination area. Neko follows, and stands close at hand but out of the way as he checks my vital signs. “This is odd, I can’t actually find anything wrong with you. Did you eat lunch before you got in the water?”

I shake my head no. “I thought that was a bad idea. Cramps or something.”

“Maybe if you eat an entire duck all by yourself, yes… but it’s perfectly safe to eat a little before you swim. I think you just gave yourself a low blood sugar attack. I’d suggest a banana, if you like them.”

“I do, but they always seem to ripen at once and I don’t like them enough to eat the whole bunch the same day.”

“Try taking the bunch apart so they ripen over a few days instead of all at one time. Regardless, you need to start carrying some instant food with you at all times. Apples and oranges are probably better for this, they have a longer shelf life. Energy bars will do in a pinch, though fruit is healthier. And you, Miss Rogers…” He looks over his shoulder. “...should probably heed the same advice. I know you’re in the habit of eating your lunch after your swim, but you’d probably go a bit faster and train a bit harder if you ate a little something first.” He turns back to me. “In any case, you should be just fine. You can use the restrooms to dress, and eat in the waiting room if you brought your lunches. It’ll make you a bit late, but medical needs always come first around here.”

“We brown-bagged it today, so we’re good there.” Neko digs out her uniform and heads for the near restroom.

Once she’s out of earshot, Nurse raises an eyebrow and asks, “Seriously though, is she working you too hard?”

“I don’t think so… she only said I should try to go two laps between breaks instead of one, and that was right before I got sick. I think I probably swam further than that in her pool, though it’s hard to say since you don’t actually go anywhere in that pool.”

“Okay. Just don’t let her goad you into over-exerting yourself. You alone know your limits.” I’d say that’s overstating it by one.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:33 am

SUZU

The entire student body is being released forty-five minutes early? Inconceivable! This must be something special indeed. I make the trip out to the track with everyone else, but can’t see anything from this distance. The stands are already full, and most of us have nowhere to go to try to get any closer. A few brave souls are sitting or standing on top of nearby buildings, probably drawing much angst from the staff.

“And here they are, ladies and gentlemen… the Yamaku cross-country team!” Megaphones sure sound like shit, but at least we can hear them. A couple teachers part the Red Sea of students to allow passage, and the now famous foursome passes through the crowd like a bunch of conquistadors, slapping extended hands all the way through. Bringing up the rear, a member of the grounds crew follows in an electric cart loaded down with equipment bags. After they pass, most of the crowd disperses and goes about their way, but a few follow behind like a wedding procession, and there are even some with large, heavy video cameras. Hmm, most of them don’t look like students. I guess someone called in the press.

What to do? I suppose I have time to pay Abe a little surprise before he gets picked up from school. I fall into the tail end of the procession and wander out the front gate, but slip away rather than watching the team board a shuttle for the airport. I have to cool my heels for perhaps twenty minutes before I see him leading his three droogs. I slip in behind them unnoticed, and slowly elbow and nudge my way to the front to give Abe the ‘Guess Who?’ treatment.

“«Pakshet!» It’s you! Did you cut class or what?”

“Nah, someone moved the clocks up an hour and the staff fell for it. I’m sure they’ll make us stay an extra hour tomorrow when they figure it out.”

It takes a few seconds for him to decide whether I’m serious or full of shit, but then he breaks into that charming grin of his and says “Hey, we’re about to take the bus into the city to go bowling, and you’re quite welcome to tag along.”

“Sounds like fun to me! I’ve never been bowling before though.”

“That just makes it even more fun then. Don’t worry, I can give you some pointers.”

If their astonished and admiring gasps are any indication, it is his friends who could use some pointers in kissing.
Last edited by NekoDude on Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:39 am

THE FORGOTTEN FOURTH

I spent most of the morning saying ‘no comment’ as forcefully as possible. How many times do we have to say it before they take a hint? The normally low-key walkthrough of the course became a media frenzy, as nobody thought to keep outsiders off the course. I barely got anything out of the trip that I couldn’t have gotten from the official scouting report, being too busy shouldering microphones and cameras out of the way at every turn. Finally I’ve had enough.

“Look, why don’t you spend your time finding a place to watch the race instead of interfering with it? Or had you forgotten we’re having a race in less than three hours? Leave us alone and let us do what we came here to do. Now move, a man needs his breakfast.” Fortunately they aren’t allowed past the flaps of the large canopy tent erected to house us for communal meals, but I know they’re waiting for us just outside.

After assembling a plate for myself – mostly pancakes, protein is only going to be dead weight at this late hour – I catch sight of Miki, who is taking a rather leisurely approach to breaking fast. She has a fork in hand, and a book pinned to the table. Wait a minute. Does not compute. Miki… and a book? I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. “What’s this all about? I thought you and the written word were on chilly terms at best.”

She allows the book to close around her paw and gives it a backhanded flip that sends it spinning across the table in my general direction, all in one motion. “When’s the last time you actually read the rules of your sport? Some interesting stuff in there, if you think about it.”

“You’ve done more thinking in the past week than in the entire time I’ve known you. You’d better take care not to overheat your brain.” Or just install better air-cooling. I glance at the rule book, and put it back beside her plate as I take my seat.

“Have you noticed the odd atmosphere around here? It’s as if we’ve become untouchables.” Now that she mentions it, it does seem odd that she was the only one sitting alone in the entire tent. “I’d expect tensions to run a bit high, since this is a level most of us have never been to before, but everyone else seems to be getting along.”

“It’s not just your imagination. I’ve heard the other runners throwing around the K-word like it was our school mascot or something. Maybe they’re afraid of catching katawa.” I put enough stress on the last word to make it overheard at adjacent tables, and a palpable moment of quiet passes through the entire tent before conversations resume. “It’s as if we were contagious or something.” I wasn’t making an effort to keep my voice down before, but now I want to be heard. “Ooh, don’t touch the captain or you might catch the gay! If you let the others near you, expect to start spontaneously bleeding, or for body parts to mysteriously wither up and fall off!” Half a dozen forks hover in mid-air. “Bloody imbeciles. We got here the same way the rest of you did, by working our asses off, and we deserve to be here every bit as much as the rest of you…” I turn to the table with a couple of the Fukushimaminami team seated there before continuing, “...and in some cases, more.” This causes one of them to rise and storm out. Good, maybe that will give the media something to chew on.

Apparently Miki appreciates my outburst. “I had no idea you really gave a rat’s ass about any of this. You don’t generally have much to say. Sit back down and keep your voice low, we have things to discuss.” I hadn’t even realized that I’d stood up. “First and foremost, you’ve been promoted.” What. “You’re our third, so I need you to stick with me the way Emi did last time. I’ll push you exactly as hard as I think you’re capable of, and then just a little bit more.”

Oh. I didn’t know I’d have to back up my words with actions. Well, shit. “Is something wrong with Emi?”

“Not that she’d ever admit to… but yeah, there is. I’m pretty certain she’s running through some serious pain. Just in case I’m wrong, I’m going to give her a target just like before, but I want you to stay in visual range. There’s a very good chance we’ll need you to finish what she starts, and I want her to know you’re there so she doesn’t destroy herself. We don’t need you to set your usual decoy out front, nobody here is going to fall for it anyhow.”

I nod slowly. “We’re not gonna win today, are we?”

“Nope, not short of a miracle. If we had another week for Emi’s legs to recover, we might have a chance. But we don’t, so we’re gonna go down fighting.”

“In that case, I’m gonna have some bacon.”

Miki laughs. “Bring me some too.”
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:53 am

HISAO

“Nakai.” Miyagi’s voice is low and measured, but has a distinct trace of irritation to it. “Improvement will be expected by the end of the grading period.”

“Yes, Ms. Miyagi.” I give a small bow and turn to leave, but she repeats my name, this time a bit more gently. “Nakai. May I suggest finding a native English speaker, and try speaking only English between the two of you for a prescribed period? It’s called «immersion», also known as ‘speak English or starve’. Perhaps I can arrange for time with someone from another class? I understand you are acquainted with one Miss Rogers, perhaps she would be willing to look after you in this matter?”

I suppress an oncoming blush of embarrassment and reply, “That is actually a superb idea, Ms. Miyagi. Miss Rogers insists that English is the closest thing amateur radio has to a universal language.”

I turn and walk away before the rising heat can make its way to my face, and grab my books. I am relieved despite the lecture. I am doing well enough in math and science (Miki had said ‘blowing the damn curve is more like it’), and even scored better than I had a right to hope on the last history exam. I couldn’t get too down on myself for a C-minus in English, could I? Still, I didn’t think Neko would mind speaking English with me.

There is about half an hour left before the vanpool arrives, so I text Neko to see if she would like me to walk with her to the pickup point. Although she already has a license, she is taking a more difficult test to upgrade to a more advanced class, with greater privileges. The reply comes back, “Yes, my room,” and I head toward the girls’ dorm.

Upon arriving, I knock on her door, quietly at first, but there is no response. Then I hear various rustling noises through the door and knock louder. The door flies open, and a very red-faced Neko half-shouts “I. Can’t. Find. My. Fucking. Keys!

I take a step inside, and the place looks like it has been ransacked. Drawers have been dumped on the floor, books shoved from the desk, and all the bed covers are piled up in one corner against the wall. Then I see her keys, in the last place she ever would have thought to look.

“They’re in, your… um… other hand.”

Like a Terminator robot, she very deliberately swivels her head to look as she raises the prosthetic limb. She plucks the keychain from the split hook and pockets it, then unsnaps the restraining harnesses keeping the arm on and yanks it off. “Guh!” she exclaims as she flips it across the room backhanded, narrowly missing a desk lamp. “I don’t need that piece of shit anyway. Let’s go.” She charges out, not the least bit embarrassed by her outburst, and doesn’t even look back to see if I am following her until she reaches the end of the hallway. As we make the way across the courtyard to the main gate and her frustration begins to fade, she slows down and begins to roll up the sleeve that has been left flapping by the absence of the prosthetic.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, sorry you had to see me like that.” She now looks a bit sheepish. “That… that thing. I’ve never felt as if it were a part of me. I wish people didn’t expect me to wear it, as if their emotional comfort outweighs my physical comfort. Fuck that noise. This is my day.”

I have never heard her speak in such a manner before, and it comes as a bit of a shock. I do, however, agree with her basic premise. “You’re right. You’re the one who has to feel good in your own skin, and whatever is attached to it. It’s not fair for people to expect otherwise.”

This causes her to come to a halt, and the unexpectedness of it means I nearly run her over. She whirls about, pulls me in close with both arms, and kisses me on the forehead before breaking into the closest thing to a run I’ve ever seen out of her. I half expect her to start doing one-armed cartwheels across the lawn. The tension that had been flowing through her seems to have simply evaporated. “The van is here. Better hurry if we want to sit together!”

***

Fifteen minutes after Neko ditches the extra hardware, it seems to be lightening her entire state of being. Her gestures while speaking have already adapted, and she moves as if she had two perfectly normal arms, albeit one shorter than the other.

“So they’re giving us a full hour for lunch break? How long is this test anyway?” asks Hideki.

“Same as the last one – but sometimes people schedule more than one test on the same day,” Neko explains. “We could spend the extra time in the city, as long as we don’t miss the van coming back!”

This sounds good to me. It has been quite some time since I've been able to simply wander a major city without an agenda or someplace I have to be. “Thinking of doing some shopping?” I try to make it sound as humorous as possible but I’m genuinely curious what she has in mind.

“Affirmative. Speaking of which…” She pulls a small, folded paper from her purse and passes it to Hideki, who passes her a similar note. She tucks it away without looking at it.

“What was that about?” I ask.

“Top secret.” She flashes me one of those thousand-watt smiles. Hideki turns his attention back to his Nintendo DS and his PowerBar, so I guess that line of conversation is closed.

***

Neko was right, the test was dead simple. Much easier than one of Mutou’s physics quizzes to be sure. The hardest part was waiting for the results to come back, as this involved waiting either for the time to expire, or the slowest person to finish, whichever came first, since the forms were batch-processed by machine. Fortunately, even the slowest of the bunch finished with ten minutes to spare, so we all had our results in hand before the test was officially over. Those of us that passed were given forms to sign, which were sent off to some ministry for processing, and our official documents would be mailed to us. However, our callsigns would appear on the ministry website just as soon as they had entered our data, and we were free to rag chew and CQ to our hearts’ content once we knew them.

I step from the exam area into the lobby, to find that Neko and Hideki have beaten me to it. “How’d you get out before me?” I asked.

“Because only three people passed,” Hideki solemnly announces. “Keeps the volume of paperwork low.”

Neko has yet to speak or look in my general direction, and I immediately think the worst. “No… you didn’t…”

Suddenly she turns my way and switches on the kilowatt beam. “What do you think, silly goose?” I notice that Hideki is grinning from ear to ear as well. “He failed to mention that only three people took the test.” Nice job you two, I have officially been Punk’d. “Let’s hit the town!”

At the very first department store we encounter, Hideki suddenly decides he needs to be somewhere else. Anywhere else. We bid him good day for now, and enter the three-story storefront.

I assume Neko can make some sense of what just happened, as she doesn’t seem terribly alarmed by it. “What was that all about?”

“Hideki has severe asthma. This has made him positively petrified of being sprayed with perfume. Have you ever been to a department store that didn’t have at least two counter attendants spraying perfume?”

“Honestly, I can’t think of one that had any at all. Maybe I don’t browse in the same departments as you, but they sure don’t hang out in Men’s Wear or Athletic Footwear.”

“I see you are not in the habit of shopping with dashing, captivating young females such as me then. Very well, I’ll do my best not to be proven right." She pulls the note Hideki had slipped her out of her purse and reads it. "Typical. He wants lavender soap for Tomiko. Now I’m quite certain we’ll be facing the atomizer-wielding maids of cloying death.”

“The same Tomiko that never shows up to radio club meetings?”

I get a nod and a smile in response. “One and the same. She shows up to claim her time slice at the desk, but I don’t think she has transmitted in her life. The gear is barely even warm when she finishes with it. If she spent any significant time talking, not only would the gear be warm, so would the room itself. It’s pretty tiny.” I had noticed it got a bit warm in there, but I had attributed this to two, three, or more warm bodies in a confined space, and its location on the roof where it directly soaks up the sun.

“So why is she in the club at all? Is that a requirement to get some time in the radio room?”

“Not necessarily, though members do get dibs on the most desirable time slots. There are a few members of the faculty who have been known to enjoy listening when nobody else is around, so there are no hard rules on who can use my – err, our equipment. But until you came along, we needed her as a fifth member for the club to exist at all. She’s not hurting anybody, and it would deeply offend Hideki if anyone were to ask her to leave, so nobody will.”

“You gave him a note too, is it also a shopping list?”

“Double top secret, my dear! Double top secret.” I can’t resist raising an eyebrow, causing her to say, “I can’t spoil all the mystery, now can I?” followed by a wink.

We manage to find and purchase Hideki’s desired lavender soap while only being sprayed once each. On the way out of the store, I decide it’s as good a time as any to bring up the English thing. “«Say, Kat…»” I begin in halting English. She comes to a dead stop again, but this time I’m half expecting it and stop with her. “«Ms. Miyagi asked me to ask you if you would help me in … immolation?»”

If Neko had been drinking milk, it would have just shot out her nose. “«Silly Hisao, immolation is when you burst into flame. I think you meant ‘immersion’. Okay, I’m up for it. I need a DXing buddy, a fellow English speaker! But you have to commit, do you hear me? No cheating. From now until we rejoin Hideki, I cannot understand a word of your strange Japanese language unless it’s a matter of life and death.»”

“«Strange? This English is the strange language. But I will do my best.»” I was concentrating so hard on what I said that we are still standing on the sidewalk, not moving, while pedestrians squeeze by on both sides of us. “«Can we get coffee? That is one of the best words in any language.»”

“«Bloody hell, you’re worse than Suzu. Sure, let’s grab some coffee.»”
Last edited by NekoDude on Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:53 am

MIKI

The gun sounds, and the jackrabbits are off as always. The rest of us jostle for position a little, then we start to separate into smaller and smaller packs. Kenta doesn’t even try to stay out front this early in the race, but Haruhiko stays within tracking range just as we agreed.

Before we’ve completed even the first kilometer, it’s painfully obvious Emi isn’t going to be our salvation today. Literally painful. I can see it in her face every other step. I stop and wait for her to catch me, and tell her, “Shut it down. We’ll do this without you or we won’t, but you’re done.” She gives me a grimace and a weak nod, and I take off after Haruhiko.

I’m slowly closing up the gap, working my way through the stretched-out pack that he leads. Kenta should just be hitting his stride about now, and should come through the pack soon. Four to catch. Then three. Then it happens. In the blink of an eye, I’m on the ground, pain shooting up the back of my right leg like I’ve been stabbed. A couple of the runners I just got done passing are unable to avoid me and whoever just tripped me up, and they go down as well.

It is then that I realize who just took me down. It’s the same person who stormed out of breakfast after Suzumiya’s little speech, and he’s looking quite pleased with himself. Suddenly, the pain in my leg seems like a distant memory as I leap to my feet and stalk toward him. He skitters backward like a crab a couple times before getting to his feet just a couple meters in front of me.

I remember giving him a shove. I think. Or maybe he shoved me. I’m not sure any more. All I am sure of is that I’m in a golf cart now, being driven off the course, and that I’ll be eating my meals through a straw for the next few days.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:56 am

NEKO

“«The test was easy, but… what’s a cakewalk?»”

English may be a pile of motley bits of other languages, stitched together by Dr. Frankenstein, but damn if it’s not fun. “«That’s what a cakewalk is. Something easy, a piece of piss.»”

Hisao sits with his mouth open, but no words are coming out. Finally he just shakes his head a couple times as if to clear out the cobwebs. “«How long have you lived in Japan?»”

“«I’m a native. I was born here, and we moved away when I was four. Mum and I moved back last March so I could go to school.»”

“«Umm… Why?»” His lack of vocabulary makes it difficult for him to dance around the point. We might have to try this more often.

“«Mum wanted to get me away from the yobbos I was running with, and pops wanted to get me away from the hoons he was running with.»” Hisao looks at me in confusion. “«Let’s just say I had bad influences on every side of me. It was either Yamaku, or the ranch back of beyond, and I managed to find trouble even when we lived there.»”

“«So there is another ranch, in Australia?»” At least he got that much.

I nod. “«When we first moved to Australia, we started out in Sydney since that’s where most of the other shipping companies are centered. I really don’t remember that time very well. When I was old enough for school, mum and I moved out to the ranch. There was a teacher there who taught me and the jackaroos’ kids, about twenty of us.»” Sensing his growing confusion, and also to give him a chance to process what I’ve already said, I stop to explain some terms. “«Jackaroo and jillaroo are ranch hands. Sort of like cowboy and cowgirl, if you know those words.»” A nod. Alright, I’ll try to Americanize my slang for him then. “«Mum taught Japanese to anyone who was interested, and made sure I learned to speak it well as a child. She also was in charge of some... farming. Pops came out to visit for a week or two at a time but still needed to be in Sydney to run the business.»”

“«What kind of business?»” He’s not doing too bad at keeping up.

“«International shipping, same as now. I don’t know if we were moving wine back then, I didn’t really pay much attention. In any case, it’s the sort of job that requires being in the city to take care of things personally. He used to fly all over too: China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand, India, South America. Once I got a little bit older, mum took over some of the traveling. Sometimes I’d stay on the ranch, sometimes I’d stay in the city with pops.»”

“«What did you do for fun on the ranch? Ride horses?»”

“«I never was much into horses. I learned to ride, but it never was something I did for fun. I swam a lot, we all did. It was a good way to stay out of the heat. Also, we spent a lot of time on the radio. When you live fifty clicks from the nearest neighbors, and there are no phone lines, radio is crucial – a matter of life and death even. There were satphones, but they can be very expensive to use, so we spent a lot more time rag chewing by radio. I’m not cut out to be a jillaroo, so I spent most of my spare time reading – my favorites were always about history and faraway places – or tinkering with leftover bits of electronics and machinery. Pops bought me a chemistry kit, but mum took it away after the second time I started a fire in the barn.»”

“«That must have been scary.»”

“«Meh, I had an extinguisher and I knew how to use it. Still scared the piss out of mum though. She decided maybe I needed another interest, one a little less hazardous, and that’s how I met Jacob. He was the son of a newly hired jackaroo, but he wasn’t very interested in becoming one either. We played a lot of games, caused a spot of trouble here and there, and he taught me bawdy songs with his guitar.»” I blush a bit at the recollection of a couple verses. “«He suggested I sing and play harmonica, since I didn’t need two hands to do either of those. Sadly, I never was much good at them.»”

“«I would like to hear you sing. I am sure you are better than you think.»” He smiles at me optimistically.

“«No, you don’t. Really. I could barely carry a tune if you gave me a bucket. But practicing my singing did improve my diction, rhythm, inflection, and other things that go into making a clear speaking voice. I don’t regret it for a moment, unlike some other things we did. Have you ever heard of Vegemite?»”

He shakes his head. “«No… wait, maybe, it’s in that ‘down under’ song, right?»” He shakes his coffee cup, doesn’t appear to like the result, and places it back on the table.

“«It sure is. There’s a lot of other truth in that song too. Anyhow, it’s basically tar in a jar, made from the parts of beer they don’t expect you to drink. Suzu was spot on when she said it tastes like ass. Anyway, Jacob loved the stuff, and I pretended to like it for his sake. We ate vegemite sandwiches together every arvo. For two years.»” I shudder at the repressed memories. I still have no idea how I managed to fake it for so long.

I’m feeling rather ambivalent about the idea of another cup of coffee, and this little hole in the wall has nothing but snack food. Just as I’m about to propose moving along to someplace with better facilities, my phone buzzes with an alarm.

“«Well, it looks like we should head back. The van should be here in twenty minutes or so.»” We collect our belongings and our trash, making sure to dump the correct pile, and head back onto the street. We don’t talk much, since Hisao walks slowly while trying to parse English, and not at all while trying to speak it. Unlike his swimming form though, I don’t know how to help him except to just keep working at it.

Jacob had a joke he used to tell: How do you get a guitarist to play quietly? Put music in front of him. My private version might be: How do you get Nakai to freeze in place? Speak English to him.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:00 am

DAISUKE

“With all due respect, Miss Miura… have you lost your fucking mind?” As she sits on the hotel bed opposite me, I think she’s still checking and double-checking to make sure all her teeth are there.

“He ran up the back of my leg,” she mutters through gritted teeth, “and then stared at me like he’d do it again if I tried to run away. That’s not just a dick move, that’s a potentially career-ending attempt to injure!”

“That’s not what I meant.” I give her a somewhat sympathetic look. “I understand why you confronted him. What I’m referring to is the way you pushed him like you wanted him to take a swing at you, and then did next to nothing to block it when he took the bait. I’ve seen the video.” Yes, that’s right, the whole thing was caught on camera. “He’s got fifteen centimeters and twenty kilos on you, and you just stood there and let him slug you!”

“That certainly wasn’t the plan, but that’s the first time I’ve been toe to toe with someone in over a year, and only the second time since…” She holds up her bandaged arm. “My instincts must have said I could catch that punch. Obviously I didn’t, at least not the way I intended.”

She looks quite like a hamster, with an ice pack held to the side of her jaw by a bandage wrapped around her head. It’s difficult not to chuckle at the humorous side of it, but realistically it’s just another fan and another handful of shit to deal with. It remains to be seen whether this will work for us or against us.

“Well whatever you do… don’t leave. If you need something, we’ll bring it to you. There are reporters everywhere now.”

“Am I popular yet?” Emi calls out from the bathroom area, before waddling out very gingerly.

“I’m sure you’d be a media sensation, but I don’t think it’s such a great idea to be on your feet either.”

She crosses to sit next to me on the edge of the bed. “So when do we get to see that video? Is it on YouTube yet?” She quickly drops the walking legs to the floor and scoots back toward the center of the bed.

“Oh, quite possibly, but if so we had nothing to do with it. No point in tipping our hand to our opposition.”

She looks disappointed for all of a second or two, before resuming her quite un-subtle task of undressing me with her eyes.

“You just want to see how many teeth I lost, you little sadist.” Luckily, Miki is giving about as much of a smile as the ice pack allows. “I’ll be next door if you need me. I’ll still be next door if you think you don’t need me.” She grabs her travel bag and knocks on the door that connects the two suites, stepping through when it is unlocked from the other side. I take a moment to lock it from our side, which I’m quite certain they heard.

“You know what?” Emi asks dreamily. “You look good in jeans. Don’t get me wrong, you look good in a suit too, but you look much more at home in casual clothes.”

“The whole staff dressed this way for the trip. We didn’t want to stand out from the crowd.”

“Whole staff? God, how many did you bring up?” She looks a bit alarmed.

“Four, counting me, all armed with video equipment. We figured we’d blend right in with the reporters, and we did. We got a tip-off that something was going to go down out there today, but we didn’t think they’d target her.”

“You thought…” She tilts her head at me.

“Yes, we thought they’d come after you. After all, slowing the second runner doesn’t accomplish anything if she still finishes ahead of you. It’s the third that determines your time. We never imagined they’d actually try to take one of you out of the race entirely, and the notion that they’d go for blood was just inconceivable. We expected they’d bump you around and try to knock you out of balance, nothing more.”

“Nobody laid a finger on me, I broke down all by myself.”

“Hey now… no need for shame! You gave it everything you had, and frankly you probably weren’t going to win even if you’d been at full strength. Kenta finished behind not just one, but two of the Sapporo team members. It wasn’t even close. Don’t get down on yourself.”

“You’re absolutely right, and I won’t. There’s a time and place for regret, but this isn’t it.” I give her the courtesy of acting surprised when she pounces on me.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:03 am

HISAO

“Tadao! I didn’t see you on the morning van,” Neko says in Japanese.

Tadao raises his head with a familiar look that takes me a second to place – it’s the same look Kenji gives when he’s not exactly sure where you are.

“Neko! Yes, I came to town with my brother and took the afternoon session. I’m a third class now!”

“Well congratulations!” Neko grabs his hand and raises it, which Tadao correctly interprets as a request to stand up. Once he does, Neko embraces him excitedly, then releases him. “«Perhaps you and Hisao here can do some DXing together.»”

“«Speaking of which,»” Tadao continues, in accented but quite passable English, “«I finally managed to track down the voice attachment for the frequency display. Once that arrives, Mariko and I will be much less worried about transmitting out of band, and I can get on with chasing you down.»”

“«Excellent!»” Then Neko pauses with a look of concern. “«This doesn’t mean I’ll have to fight over time slots now, does it?»”

“«Not with Mariko at least, she’ll want to talk to the same people she already does. She just won’t have to wait to identify them before jumping in. Me... I understand I’m now another country behind on QSLs?»”

“«Mmmmaybe. I haven’t gotten a card yet. I sure hope he didn’t forget me!»”

“«You are a hard person to forget, Neko. I would not worry.»”
Just then, Neko’s phone buzzes. She glances at it, then passes it to me. “«It’s in that language I don’t understand. What does it say, Hisao?»”

“«It is from Hideki. He says he has arranged a ride back, and to not worry about him.»”

“«Well then I won’t. He’s a big boy.»”

***

The ride back to Yamaku was more animated than the ride out had been. Nobody was studying, and most were talking. There were several people that were obviously not of student age, and I recognized two of them from my own test. I had taken a window seat, angled into the corner, with Neko leaned back into me. At first both of us were talking shop with Tadao across the aisle, until Neko started yawning. She explained to Tadao just why we were speaking English, and he promised to continue doing so if she fell asleep. Taking that to mean she was relieved of duty, she did exactly that. She was snoring softly by the time we returned, and I had another half hour of English practice under my belt. Tadao grinned at a few of my malapropisms, but made no effort to correct me.

I gently shake Neko to wake her, and she seems momentarily confused about where we are. “«We are home,»” I say, sticking to our all-English bargain. “«We need to leave the van.»”

“«Roger that.»” She pulls herself slowly to her feet, and I follow her out of the van. Tadao waits for everyone else to clear, as it is much easier for him to navigate an empty aisle than a crowded one. We are still standing there when he exits, and I ask if he would like to walk back together.

“«Actually, I think I’d like to get on the air. Talking about radio just makes me want to do it that much more.»”

I nod, catch myself, and say “«I understand. Have a good time!»”

Tadao unfolds his cane with a practiced flick of the wrist, and starts toward the gate. “What about us?” I ask Neko, who gives me a strange look. I repeat in English.

“«Well we never did catch up with Hideki, so our bargain has not ended. You’re stuck speaking that strange language with me for the duration.»”

“«The duration of what?»”

“«Well tonight at least... or at least until I get tired of torturing you.»” She flashes me her patented kilowatt grin. “«I can see it almost makes your head a splode every time you have to speak. You’re getting better though.»”

“«Where would you like to go? Are you tired?»”

“«I was, but you’re an excellent futon. I think I’m good to go. Wanna make it a movie night?»”

“«Do you think maybe we should eat first?»”

“«I have a full fridge, and I think you trust my cooking by now, even if it doesn’t hold a candle to Ben’s. We can start a movie in the common room while we make the food.»”

“«That sounds good to me!»” Watching movies would mean less talking, and less speaking English means less of my head exploding. We head toward my room first, since I have to pick up my evening pills and would prefer to grab a jacket as well.

“«Grab two sets,»” Neko says.

Huh?

“«Hisao, are you in the habit of carrying a spare set of pills?»”

“«Uh, no… why?»”

“«I think it would be wise. Why risk missing a dose due to schedule complications?»”

“«Where do I carry them? I do not have a purse as you do.»”

“«Use your man-purse, otherwise known as pockets.»”

I shrug, toss an emergency supply of pills into a plastic bag and shove them into my pocket with my phone, and swallow my current dose with several swigs of water. Then I grab a light jacket and we’re off. Crossing over to the girls’ dorm, I ask, “«Have you chosen a movie?»”

“«Yeah, if you’re okay with English.»”

“«Does it have...»” I draw a frame in the air with my finger, with writing at the bottom.

“«Subtitles? Not in Japanese, it’s an Australian release pops sent me. Fight Club.»”

“«Oh! I have seen that before, with... subtitles. I think I will be able to keep up.»”

“«I can turn on English subtitles, if you think that would help.»”

“«It might. I would like that.»”
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:12 am

KENTA

Why do straight couples have to make such a show of the whole mating ritual? I can hear them doing the slap-and-tickle on the other side of the door, before making my way back to my seat on the bed.

“Well are they talking, or are they fucking?” Miki looks at me expectantly.

“Yes. By that I mean it sounds like the former, progressing into the latter. Are straight people always this elaborate in their dance?”

She shrugs. “You might try asking one. Girls do take longer to get up to cruising speed though.” Something bumps the wall loudly. “But apparently not that long.”

“Shit, if it were me in there instead of her, I’d have him halfway to paradise by now. If the engine’s gonna start, it usually only takes one turn of the key. Why did you have to get in a tumble? Now I’m stuck here watching after you when I could be out getting some myself. Would it bother you terribly if I took a shower? I’m really not in a mood to listen to that.” As if on cue, we hear giggling from the other side.

“I was about to ask you the same thing. They’ve got the hand-held shower heads here, you know. I also left the ice bucket next door, would you mind filling yours? My teeth are still rattling, but at least they all seem to be there.” I grab the bucket and the key card. “Take your time.” I don’t think so.

I do try to keep it short, but there isn’t an ice machine on this floor and I dare not use the one in the lobby, with the press corps likely still in attendance. This sends me on a search of adjacent floors, and I guess wrong before I guess right. By the time I return with a bucket of ice, even a quick ear to the divider door shows Emi and our attorney are in a private session, and my shower is running.

I knock on the bathroom door. “I got the ice.”

The shower stops, and the door opens a crack. “What? Couldn’t hear you over the water.”

“I said I got the ice.” I shake the bucket.

“Oh, perfect.” She opens the door far enough to pass the ice bucket through, and doesn’t seem to mind the fact that she’s half exposed as we make the exchange. “I’ll need some help securing this again afterward.” She sets the ice bucket on the edge of the sink and starts unwrapping the bandage from around her head before stepping back into the shower, leaving the door open. The water starts up again. “I might as well wash the dirt and blood out of my hair, I couldn’t do it earlier.”

I don’t suppose I actually have to wait around, but for some reason I do, taking a seat on the toilet and closing the door behind me. I can hear her spraying water into her mouth and spitting it back out, then she sets in on her long hair. “Aw, fuck no. This hotel shampoo is not going in my hair. Would you mind getting the one I brought up? It should be in the zipper pouch on the outside of my bag.”

I fetch like a good puppy. Slender, blue, kinda odd proportions. “Salon certified, huh? I didn’t think you’d go for girly stuff like this.”

She opens the shower door and extends her hand. “Girly or not, can I have it please?”

“Only if I can use it when you’re done. It looks like a serviceable manly substitute, if you know what I mean.”

“You don’t need it,” she states emphatically.

“I kinda think I do. Look, I’ll even wrap it and everything…”

“Just shut up already and get your ass in here, okay? What do you need, a written fucking invitation?” Her left wrist bangs on the glass. “This is all the man you need tonight.”

I’d better go get the lemons.

-----------------------

NOTE: When I posted this haiku, I hadn't yet gotten to this point in the story but I knew the event was going to happen. Now you know what the hell I was referring to.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:16 am

EMI

I lead with a kiss, those are always nice. Before I even have a chance to wonder if he’s planning to play hard to get tonight, I get my answer when he hooks an arm around me and pulls me on top of him. Unfortunately he wasn’t paying much attention to clearances, and bounces the back of his head off the headboard pretty hard. He’s rubbing the bump with one hand, but doesn’t seem to feel too much pain if the activity of his other hand is any indication. I may not have much frontside, but he apparently finds I have enough on the back side – not that I mind at all, it’s good to see someone appreciates my work at the track.

Neither of us is wearing anything that buttons down, so we’re kind of reduced to undressing ourselves rather than each other. He doesn’t seem the least bit surprised that I had nothing on under the T-shirt. There’s very little bounce to suppress at the best of times, but once the running legs come off there’s practically no need at all. We take the partial and temporary separation to rotate around a bit, going corner to corner on the stiff hotel bed rather than trying to fit the length of it. This also gives me the chance to give him a good look over. I’d noticed long ago that he was neither cut nor soft, but somewhere pleasantly in between, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to see it directly, and I like what I’m seeing. Broad shoulders and a strong and almost hairless chest transition into a clearly defined midsection, without looking like he’s trying too hard.

The first touch of his fingers on my side come unexpectedly, causing me to flinch and giggle a bit. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to tickle you,” he whispers. Rather than pulling back, he firms up the pressure so that it no longer does. The hand slides around to my back and finds a place between my shoulder blades, allowing him to pull me in close. I can feel his breath over my heart, then his other hand is gently moving upward and outward, as his lips work their way ever lower. Before I even know it’s happening, I’m the one on my back and four hands are working in concert to remove my little red shorts.

First it’s a fingertip, then it’s a tongue, and any worries I had of having to take the lead dissolve away like dandelions in the wind. He soon has me hovering on the edge, and he can feel it as he holds me there seemingly without effort. I try to thrust into his pressure, but he knows just how much to pull away to leave me hanging. I barely realize that he has transitioned over to fingers alone until I feel his breath on my neck, then his lips nibbling at my ear. I throw both arms around his neck and my tongue seeks his aggressively, just as the pulsations below deepen and intensify. Then…

My God, it’s full of stars. I thought that was just something made up, but no, it’s completely real. Stars. So many stars. A brief squeal manages to make its way through my nose, my mouth being otherwise engaged already, before he breaks off the kiss and puts all of his effort into the rhythm. I try to keep quiet but it’s no use as I feel every pulse to the core. My back arches, and I can feel his free hand and lips working in concert to give my chest a little love. One of my hands grips the sheets and the other covers my mouth as I make a vain effort to stifle my cries. With a final yelp, the tension goes out of my back and I gasp for air just as I feel him shudder along side me, emitting a low groan of his own.

“You didn’t…” I try to ask while trying to catch a breath, “you didn’t just… umm… finish, did you?” I haven’t even gotten your pants off yet!

“Not a chance, but it’s just as satisfying to feel it when you do. The gods didn’t see fit to give men the power of multiple orgasms, but you don’t mind if I just piggyback off yours for a while, do you?”

No no, maestro. Play on.

A few star explosions later, I do have to call a halt. “This is awesome… but I think my… I think my brain is about to melt. Where in the world did you pick up that trick?”

“Oh if only my father could see me now. He always said all that time spent playing the guitar wasn’t going to amount to anything.”

“Guitar, huh? I always kinda thought you had a bit of that rock star aura happening. Still doing it?”

He holds up his hands in front of me, palms facing away. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be looking at until he turns the right hand around and points the fingertips at me – he has nails. “Compare and contrast.” He does the same with the left hand. No nails. “This one’s for plucking, and this one’s for… nah, that joke’s too lame, even for me.” He catches me rolling my eyes at him. “My stage name is ‘Tokyo Mississippi’. We still play about once a month at a little dive bar downtown. You can check us out next time. I shouldn’t have any trouble getting you in if we say you’re a roadie, especially if I give you a ride.”

“How about I give you a ride? If we can peel those skinny jeans off of you, that is.” I think he may have just set a new world record.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:20 am

HARUHIKO

That was somewhat of a waste of time. There was very little I could tell them that they hadn’t already caught on video. I was out front of the pack when the incident took place behind me, so I only caught the second half of it. Beyond confirming the basics – she has no history of picking fights with anyone that I know of, and she hadn’t made any remarks at all about an expectation of trouble on the course – about the only thing I was able to help out with was the little speech I gave at breakfast. I’m not sure how that helps, since you’d think they would have come after me for the outburst, not Miki. It wasn’t until they showed me the video that I realized that the one that took her down was the same guy that stormed out after my pep talk. Still, why her and not me? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Sure, they wouldn’t have gotten a fight out of me. The last thing I need is to take a gut punch and bleed out internally. Or maybe they knew that. They also wouldn’t attack me if they thought I was still the forgotten fourth, and even I didn’t know I wasn’t until hours before the race. They couldn’t attack Emi, that would be much too obvious since she’s at the heart of the protest. It would also look really bad to pick on the little girl with no legs. Kenta probably could have inflicted some damage if called upon to fight, there’s nothing broken about him. He also tends to run roughly in the middle of the order until halfway through before turning on the jets to pass people left and right, so he would have barely been winded if they’d tried to take him at the same point in the course.

Maybe these lawyers know something I don’t. I would certainly hope so, that’s what they get paid to do. They weren’t sharing any of it with me though. At least they shared their food.

When I get back to the room, I don’t see Kenta but I do hear the shower running. I leave my shoes by the door and bounce onto the bed. I’m almost tempted to jump on it a while. Anything that would loosen up these springs could only be an improvement, as I found out sleeping on it last night. I grab the remote and start channel-surfing, settling in on some sort of horror movie in black and white. When the zombie apocalypse comes to Japan, we’re gonna look pretty stupid for not having guns. The dialogue doesn’t seem to be adding much, and the commercials are really loud and annoying, so I decide to just leave it muted.

I’m half asleep by the time I hear the bathroom door open. I hadn’t noticed that the shower had stopped. I look up expecting to see a towel-draped Kenta, or perhaps even without the towel, but to my surprise he’s fully dressed. Then I hear another voice.

“See, I told you that’s all you needed. Did me a world of good too.” I catch sight of Miki exiting the bathroom, wearing a bandage wrapped around her head which holds an ice pack to her jaw… and absolutely nothing else. It’s probably only two or three seconds before she realizes I’m there, but that’s more than long enough for the sight to engrave itself in my mind permanently. Then she walks right by the foot of the bed, grabs her bag (bending over right in front of me in the process!), and calmly returns to the bathroom.

This is twenty shades of fucked up. She’s only the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever laid eyes upon, and she apparently just got done banging the gay guy! Then she parades around in the nude like I’m not even there.

I wish I was queer so I could get chicks.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:28 am

HISAO

Neko begins fishing through her purse for her keys then stops dead in her tracks. “«Oh fuck a duck.»”

“«What?»”

She holds up her keys. “«Don’t you remember how we left?»”

“«Oh. That. Can I help you clean up?»”

“«No, I can take care of that. But could you take care of dinner? I’ll give you the food, and there’s an electric range and microwave in the common room.»”

“«I do not know much about cooking.»”

“«It's okay, I have some simple things with instructions on the package. I’m sure you’ll manage. They’re in that foreign language of yours anyhow, I’d need you to read them to me,»” Neko says, followed by a wink.

Dinner is a casual affair, consisting of instant miso soup and yakisoba. For my first time frying anything, I think I did well enough. At the very least, my sampling seems to indicate that it’s edible, and I didn’t set anything on fire. There is a wheeled cart in the common room, which comes as a relief since I find myself unable to carry two plates and two bowls of hot soup. I can’t even imagine how someone with one hand would manage such a feat without a cart.

I knock on the door and open it without waiting, to find the place is in substantially better order than the last time I saw it. The small television has been moved to the desk, and a low folding table has been placed in front of it, wide enough for us to comfortably sit side by side. Neko is not here, so I place the food on the table, return the cart, and settle in to wait. I notice that although things are relatively tidy, it was still a rush job. Two drawers appear to be off their rails, and one of them isn’t closed properly. I decide to take care of it, which is how I come to have Neko’s underwear drawer in my arms when she walks back in.

“«Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.»”

I turn around to find her standing by the door, arms crossed and head tilted. “«I... uh... it was a little broken.»”

She relaxes. "«Yeah I suppose it probably was, I was in a hurry and needed to hit the dunny.»”

“«Hit the dunny?»”

“«Sorry, use the loo. Err, bathroom. Hey, it looks like you did fine without me,»” she says as her eyes drift to the table setting, “«and none too soon. I’m starving.»”

We sit down at the table, with Neko on the right and me on the left. She sticks a finger in the soup, apparently decides it’s still too hot, and starts into the noodles, as do I. They’re not bad, though it’s hard to screw up when your sauce comes pre-mixed in a plastic bag. After a couple bites, she sets down her chopsticks and grabs the remote to start the movie.

A warning screen announces that unauthorized duplication is a crime, and she hits skip a couple times. Nothing happens. "«Bloody hell, I’m sure the AFP gives zero fucks about us in Japan.»” Resigned to sitting through the pre-movie garbage, she sets down the remote and turns her attention to the soup. “«’S good too. Gonna make you cook more often.»”

About twenty minutes into the movie, she pauses the DVD and pushes the table aside.

“«Stand up a sec, would you?»”

I comply, and she grabs the mattress of her bed about midway along its long side and drags it onto the floor, then places pillows along the edge of the now vacant bed frame. She probably had that in mind all along, as I notice she hadn’t bothered to fix the covers during her cleanup.

Much as one might expect from a cat, Neko tosses herself onto the mattress with a floomph! before starting to remove the prosthetic leg. Then she looks up at me looking back down at her and says “«Well are you going to join me or do I have to keep it warm by myself?»”

Soon enough we’re spooning on her mattress on the floor. The subtitles are too small for me to read, so we have switched them off. I’m not really paying all that much attention to the film anyhow, what with the warm bundle of joy curled up in front of me and all. She occasionally reaches out for a handful of wasabi peas, offering them to me a couple times, but food is as far from my mind as the movie.

Suddenly she’s shouting. “«I want to have your abortion. Say it Marla! Say ‘I want to have your abortion!’”

“«What.»”

Neko pauses the movie and looks back over her shoulder at me. “«That line where she says ‘I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school’ was originally ‘I want to have your abortion.’ The censors made the director change it, but as soon as he did they begged him to change it back. He refused.»”

“«I see.»” It had been a while, but I couldn’t remember a line like that from when I watched it before. Maybe they toned down the language in subtitles.

My eyes are locked onto hers and there is something to her look that seems vibrant and alive. It’s the same look she gets when she’s on the radio or in the pool. “«I’m hungry, Hisao.»”

“«We just ate.»”

“«That’s not what I mean.»” Suddenly I feel her hand rubbing me through my pants, and the response is instantaneous. “«I’m hungry like the wolf.»” She hooks the short arm under my right arm and pulls me on top of her, drawing me into a passionate kiss. My own desire presents itself in a rather obvious way as she raises her knee to press her thigh between my legs and grinds at me.

A few twists and turns later, the position is largely reversed and I find her sitting on top of me. She is opening my belt with a bit of a struggle since she can’t both pull to release the tension and unbuckle it at the same time. I debate giving her an extra hand but soon enough she manages on her own. Then she’s unbuttoning and unzipping my pants, hand and short arm hooked under the belt working in concert to wriggle my pants down over my hips and down past my knees. Then she works the short arm up the leg of my boxers and grasps me between her little nub and upper arm. I begin to release the buttons of her blouse, while she deftly reaches behind her and releases the clasp of her bra. As soon as I have popped enough buttons to make it possible, she grabs the bra and whisks it out from under the blouse.

She releases the grip of her short arm, reaches over her shoulder with her hand, and in a single motion pulls her blouse over her head and tosses it aside. Small brown nipples highlight her considerable bustline. She helps me wriggle the boxers down as well, and takes me gently into the embrace of her lips and tongue. A few well placed flicks of the tongue and a few gentle nibbles are all it takes to get me near bursting. Oh no Hisao, not yet, don’t you dare!

Neko notices the change in my demeanor and instead begins caressing me with her hand as she finds her way into position on top of me. She leans in tight, propping herself on her elbows, and grinds the entire length of her body against me. She hooks the short arm under my shoulder and aligns my anatomy to her liking with her hand, then grinds against me with only the barrier of thin and very soaked panties between us. I squeeze my eyes tightly shut and throw my head back, and she nibbles on my neck, causing me to gasp.

At that, she takes the opportunity to aim an impassioned kiss at my open mouth. Our tongues dance in a frantic embrace of their own, as she grinds me with faster and ever more fierce thrusts. I find myself unable to resist any longer, and I release my passion with a cry and a shudder. The grinding continues, and gradually slows. She climbs down from her position atop my hips and rolls over next to me. I look at her longingly, torn between embracing her further and cleaning up the mess I just made. She looks over at me, then at the spill of rapidly cooling drops.

“«Oh, heh.»” She smiles and stands, pulling a small hand towel out of a dresser drawer. “«This will have to do for now,»” she says as she drops it on me. “«Get out of that shirt before it sticks to you, too.»” Meanwhile she selects herself a replacement pair of panties and changes them on the spot. The sight of her bare behind during the change sets my mind to racing again. She follows with a plain white T-shirt which she pulls on quickly. I still haven’t moved. “«Are you planning to clean up, or do you want to soak in it? C’mon, I need to rinse that shirt out if you don’t want it to stain.»”

I quickly mop up as best I can with the towel and remove the shirt, placing both in a small wicker basket that she has set on the floor. She drops in the used panties, picks up the basket, and hops her way out of the room with an enchanting jiggle. The only light in the room comes from the television screen, which sits still paused on Tyler and Marla’s pillow talk scene.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:33 am

MIKI

“Did you see the look on his face? It was fucking priceless!” As much as I may wish I had had a camera, I’m more glad he didn’t.

“If by priceless, you mean he couldn’t afford to pay you to do it again… then I suppose that’s accurate enough.” He shrugs. “I don’t know exactly what you hoped to accomplish. Poor kid’s probably in the shower rubbing one out with my lemon lube, and trying not to think too hard about the fact that you’d never touch him. You’ve probably screwed up the calibration on his hot-o-meter for years to come.”

This gets my attention. “You actually think I’m hot? It sure didn’t seem like it earlier. I found your assistance getting the crud out of my hair to be quite valuable, but I never got the feeling you were looking at me that way. I’m generally quite aware of when I’m being looked over with that kind of interest.” Often because I’ve invited it.

“Keep a couple things in mind. First, I’m not exactly used to someone being quite that casual about nudity, so I assumed you felt safe around me and expected me to remain calm. Now, of course, I realize that you really are that casual about it.” That makes me shrug. “Second, no matter how I feel about these,” he says as he gives me a little squeeze through the Hawaiian shirt I had to borrow from him, “you’re not exactly packing what I generally look for down below. It hadn’t occurred to me you already had that problem figured out, but you can bet I’ll never forget. I don’t know who will be walking more bow-legged when we get off the plane tomorrow, Emi or me.” Good question. I think you both got more than you expected.

“It’ll be cute to hear what comes through the rumor mill by Monday. You know, he actually showed some spine at breakfast this morning. He stood up for you when he really didn’t have to. He stood up for the rest of us too, but I think he has more respect for you than he generally lets on.” I do my best to recall his exact words for Kenta’s benefit. “Then he brought me probably the last solid food I’ll eat for a while. He earned that little show earlier, whether he realizes it or not. What’s wrong with a little showing off, anyhow? I’m not gonna get knocked up or catch something from his eyes.” That’s definitely one advantage to same-sex relationships: no accidents. The fact that it doesn’t count as sex by Japanese law has its upsides as well. Technically, both of us are still virgins.

“Is that all that keeps you on good behavior, a fear of cooties and children? I don’t have the latter to worry about, and even for me, reputation exceeds reality. Did you know you’re only the fourth person I’ve ever been with like that – and the first girl?”

“Don’t even go there. The double standard is insane. You are aware, no doubt, of my reputation. Some of it is earned, but not on this score. Fuck the hypocrites and the slut-shamers. You want to take a guess at my total? Hint: I still have enough fingers to count that high.”

He hesitates and furrows his brow before answering. “Uh, four also?”

“You’re off by one.”

“Well, five’s not so bad…”

I punch him in the shoulder. “See what I mean? Even you give me too much credit, or too little. Nope, you’re number three, and much like your own situation, this was a first for me. I’ve approached a few other girls, but not successfully. One of them could be considered quite the misstep.” I’m still sorry about that, Hanako. “For all my swagger, I’m really not very good at this game.”

“Half of success is suck. If you’re not willing to fail, you’ll never win. But, where does that leave us? As much as I enjoyed that, I’m not sure I’m ready to do it again any time soon.”

Us? Oh please. Just because I’m wearing your clothes doesn’t mean we’re an item now. “You’ve still got a boyfriend back home, right? Any idea how he’s going to take this? It’s not going to stay a secret, that much I can promise.” Not unless we lock Suzumiya in the bathroom forever.

He sighs and fixes his gaze at a random spot on the ceiling. “I have no fucking clue. Ryu has stepped out on me before, but always said it didn’t mean anything and it was just physical. Until today, I believed him. But now here I sit, having done the inconceivable, and realize that although we were both blowing off steam, it meant something. Exactly what, I’m not sure, but I’d be lying if I tried to claim it didn’t. He and I need to have a serious talk before I’ll be able to answer your question any better than that. What about you?”

“Oh I’ll have to break the news to Neko, no doubt. It could only be worse if she hears of it from another source. Our dynamic is rather different from yours – I already know she’s pursuing someone else, and I feel it’s just a matter of time before I’m crowded out. Then again, maybe she thinks she has room for both of us. We haven’t discussed it.” I’m not sure I have room for him regardless.

“Don’t you think it’s time you had that discussion? You’ve been together what, over a year now? And you haven’t even talked about exactly what being together means?

“Not even once.” This deserves the two-palms-up super-shrug, but I’ll have to make do with one. “Outside of the bedroom, I think I get along better with her mother than I do with her.”

“Well don’t you think you should? I mean if neither one of you knows where you’re going, chances are that one or both of you are going to be pretty disappointed when you get there.”
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