COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Sep 29th, 2019)

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azumeow
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 4th)

Post by azumeow » Thu Dec 04, 2014 2:23 pm

Craftyatom wrote:
azumeow wrote:But it wouldn't be KS without everybody involved tossing the idiot ball everwhere.
I like this excuse. I'm not a fan of using it, and I'd prefer to say that the misunderstanding is a combination of fatigue and poor word choice, but whatever works, I suppose.
Oh, no, I wholly understand where she's coming from. That kind of irrational, pointless pain is motherfucking INFURIATING. I suffer from chronic pain, which I am beginning to suspect is a side effect of my anti-depressants, and it is so god damned frustrating that my roommate and I have a running gag of how we should just cut my limbs off and replace them with cybernetics. It's just the perfect storm of bad timing, which I've been a victim to rather frequently.

And from the way she interpreted Hisao's comment, I don't blame her for being mad. But Hanlon's Razor, yo:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 4th)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Dec 04, 2014 9:10 pm

To clarify, the nurse is aware that Miki has in the past suffered from phantom pains, but she keeps the frequency and fashion in which she gets them now a secret because she believes she has it under control. Regarding relief, I suppose I should've moved this further up, but Miki attempted multiple types of possible treatment in the hospital directly after losing her hand, and none were found to work, so she refrains from going to the nurse for possible help because she believes she has exhausted all medical options. (If you'd like the pseudoscience as to why running works for her when all other methods do not, I've come up with it, but I remind you that I am a programmer at heart, not a doctor)
Why yes, but while there may not be a cure for many sufferers there is always medication to mitigate the symptoms.
Running being a useful remedy might not be too much pseudoscience as well:
If you're exhausted you might be able to sleep despite some pain, and if you believe that a remedy is working, it might really help - especially for pain that is probably mostly psychological in origin - not sure how phantom limb pain actually arises...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Craftyatom
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 4th)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:43 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Why yes, but while there may not be a cure for many sufferers there is always medication to mitigate the symptoms.
When I started this story, I did a lot of research. I then forgot almost all of it. I'm forgetful like that, so my bad.

You're right, some painkillers would temporarily alleviate phantom pains, but evidently Miki hasn't considered or explored the option of going to the nurse for something like those. The reasoning behind this is a combination of her being resigned to accepting her condition as it is, the fact that she has a way of coping that's only somewhat intrusive, and of course in part a sense of pride (possibly related to her early interactions with the nurse). I won't pretend that I had been planning this, but I think that, in a warped kind of way, it makes sense.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Brief Exchanges, Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Countablekitty
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 4th)

Post by Countablekitty » Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:39 pm

Don't remember when i started reading your route but I've got to say, I get really excited when I read new installments
When I started this story, I did a lot of research. I then forgot almost all of it. I'm forgetful like that, so my bad.

You're right, some painkillers would temporarily alleviate phantom pains, but evidently Miki hasn't considered or explored the option of going to the nurse for something like those. The reasoning behind this is a combination of her being resigned to accepting her condition as it is, the fact that she has a way of coping that's only somewhat intrusive, and of course in part a sense of pride (possibly related to her early interactions with the nurse). I won't pretend that I had been planning this, but I think that, in a warped kind of way, it makes sense.
While I personally don't mind little holes (not much of a critic, I read ficts for the sake of more content), It may be nice to add in these sort of details in later somehow. Not completely necessary if you don't want to since you're the writer but explaining the situation outside the story feels like its in vain.

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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 4th)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:46 am

Well, it's perfectly possible that painkillers don't help her enough to get to sleep or that she doesn't want to take them before the track meet because of side-effects... or because they might be on some doping list - always a possibility with such medication.
Almost every explanation would be better than keeping it a secret from the nurse because of pride.
Since this is apparently only an issue in the bad ending anyway it's not that big a deal.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 4th)

Post by hyroglyphixs » Fri Dec 12, 2014 4:30 am

A week late to the party but that didn't make it any less good :wink:

Interesting to see that you had a branching off point, guess I'll have to see where you take it from here..
"No one knows what the future holds. That's why its potential is infinite" - Okabe Rintarou
El. Psy. Congroo~

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Craftyatom
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 4th)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:32 pm

Merry Christmas/Happy Crimbo/Festive Whatever-Solstice-Based-Celebration-You-Enjoy, I finished up these scenes a few days ago but figured that I’d save them for this route’s anniversary - which is, by the way, just another painful reminder of how slowly I work. Trust me, nobody would be happier than me to see this stuff released every other day or something ridiculous like that, but all I’ve got so far is my best. Here’s hoping it makes a decent present <3

In a rather surprising development, Suriko has posted a story involving Miki, and although I haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet (it was released just a few hours before this update is going out), if it’s anything like the rest of their work, it’s gonna be good, so I feel no shame in linking to Summer’s Clover. This link is done in good faith, though - please keep commentary on the two in their separate threads (because I really don’t feel like being compared to one of my favorite writers right now, I’d rather not spend Christmas Eve revisiting all my flaws :P )

Back on track, as promised, two different scenes are being released at once, but they are obviously rather similar, as they cover roughly the same events over the same time period. There are a few minor changes, and most notably the narrative changes quite a bit, but they’re both about the track meet, and although I considered changing some of the race outcomes based on the choice, I ultimately decided against it.
Last edited by Craftyatom on Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Vigil (1/2)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:33 pm

>Vigil<
5 minutes.

It’s hard to think straight at this point. I’m not looking forward to this.

2 minutes. Does time always go by that fast? Maybe I subtracted wrong. I wouldn’t blame myself, I don’t feel like doing anything right now, let alone math.

30 seconds. I shuffle a little and hold my hand out, palm down.

My alarm clock finally goes off, but it only manages to force out one loud tone before I slam my hand down on it. Oh boy. Here we go. Time to get ready for the track meet.

Well, originally I thought I’d have to use this time to wake up, get dressed, brush my teeth, the usual... As it turns out, I don’t have to do any of those things now.

Because I did them to try and pass the time during the past few hours.

Well, I may as well head out early, I guess. Before opening my door, I look down to make sure that I’m fully dressed - in this state, I wouldn’t put it past myself to forget to wear shorts or something - but find that everything seems to be in order... Except for my left arm. It takes me a second, but I realize that I never covered it back up after my shower. I was too busy trying to get it not to hurt.

Surprisingly, as I inspect it further, I recognize something I haven’t seen in a long time: a bruise forming somewhere near the end of my stump. I must’ve hit it on something last night, I can’t remember actually hurting it, but I certainly do want to fling it against a wall right now, so I’m not too surprised. Good thing I remembered, I guess.

I bandage it up again, and try to remember the last time I actually bandaged it because it was injured. It happened consistently during my first few weeks at Yamaku, but once I realized that I could dull my phantom pains by running, I was never really in a position to be that angry again. Maybe I should stop bandaging it sometime...

Nah, it’d be too much of a shock to everyone else. This has been my style for over a year and a half, no point just changing it now. Besides, according to last night, I still need it. Sigh.

Finally content with my appearance, and aware that I’ve got work to do, I head out of my room and begin the walk to the track.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I do finally show up at the track, after a walk that took a little bit longer than I thought it would due to a rather slow pace, I see that most of the team is already here, so I jog over to join them.

As I trot over to the large gaggle of runners occupying the center of the track, I turn my head to try and look for Hisao or Suzu on the bleachers, but I can’t see them. I’m not really surprised, though - the crowd is almost nonexistent, as the actual event won’t start for a while. It’s only as I meet up with the group in the middle that the team spreads out to begin stretching, everyone spreading out and following the instructions of Kenta, though most of us have already memorized this stretching routine by now.

I say that, but I find myself following the rest of the group, as I’m too tired to reliably remember how this particular routine goes. As well as that, I haven’t been to a team practice in a while, and the stretches I do running on my own are slightly different.

Luckily I manage to maintain my balance all throughout the assorted stretching, despite the urge to lie down in the grass and sleep. Heck, Suzu has slept on the grass around school at least once, and she doesn’t seem to have any issues with it. Before I can consider taking a quick nap any more seriously, though, we all finish stretching, and Kenta jogs up to me.

“Miki! It’s good to see you.” I’ll admit, his upbeat demeanour is refreshing. Normally perky people are a poor complement to tired mornings, but for whatever reason, Kenta’s smile isn’t coming off as annoying, just upbeat.

“Same!” I respond, stifling a yawn. Something tells me I’ll be doing that a lot today.

“You know,” he says with a smile still plastered on his face, “you haven’t been showing up to practice lately. I don’t think I can let you run in any of these races.”

A smirk spreading onto my face as well, I fire back with “Well, if you really want to ruin our chances of winning, I guess I can’t stop you...”

Finally the both of us burst into laughter, and he pats me on the shoulder. “Hey, you’re gonna do great out there today, right?”

I nod rather vigorously. “You can count on me.”

“Awesome, I’m looking forward to it.” With that he walks off to talk to some of the other runners, presumably just making sure that the people he’s chosen to be running each race are present. He takes a long time to put the lineups together, and if people end up being absent on the day of the race, it throws a wrench into his plans.

I continue to warm up on my own, repeating some of the stretches that felt the most effective and generally just trying not to fall asleep. I consider joining some of the groups of guys who are taking this time to share any tips they’ve heard about the school we’re running against, but in the corner of my eye I spot Hisao and Suzu arriving at the field and heading to the bleachers.

I could jog over and say hi, but know that if I do, I’ll only get halfway there before Kenta calls me back to warm up for the first race. Instead, I settle with waving at them as vigorously as possible, trying to catch their attention. It’s no use; Hisao is looking across the bleachers at the rest of the crowd and Suzu’s eyes are half-closed, so neither one of them seems to notice me.

Oh well, I’m sure once the races start they’ll be watching.

As I suspected, it’s only a few more seconds before I hear our captain calling for the girls running in the 400-meter dash to meet up. Luckily for me, I’ve been running for long enough that the mechanics of a race are second nature, so the fact that I’m half asleep doesn’t introduce any issues with my form, and Kenta clears me to run. He shows us the lineup, and as usual, I’ll be starting just behind Emi.

In what feels like not very long at all, we’re called to line up, and I try my best to get pumped.

This is it.

This is what you’ve been training for.

It’s time to kick some ass.

Unfortunately for my mentality, my train of thought is interrupted by a yawn as I walk onto the track, despite my best efforts to stifle it. I compensate by jumping up and down a few times once I get to my mark, trying to get my blood flowing a bit faster. There’s no time for yawning. I have a race to win.

Yeah, that’s right, I can do this. I’m about to turn around and take a look at my competition, but don’t get a chance, as the familiar call of “Runners, on your marks!” sounds, and I crouch down at the line, my whole body coiled like a spring. In front of me, Emi does the same.

Ah, yes - it’s comforting, really. I’ve started behind Emi for most of my races at Yamaku, and it’s almost like a routine now, crouched down, the race seconds away from us, sisters in arms. Or, well, sisters in legs. Actually, no, I guess-

“Get set!” I tense up further, my legs now itching to be released and send me forwards.

We’ve been to different schools, different tracks, on different days or in different weather, but no matter else what changes, no matter what place I think I’ll come or how ready I am, I can always count on my field of vision landing squarely on Emi’s butt.

*BANG*

I barely even notice the race start, but it doesn’t matter; my body is trained for moments like this, and without even thinking I’m rocketing forwards, my arms acting as counterweights, my feet gripping on the rubber surface of the track. There’s no time to think anymore, I spend all of my effort concentrating on making myself fast, keeping my feet steady, and preparing for the upcoming turn.

We round the corner, and I still look to be in a good position, though I’m hardly concentrating on my peripheral vision. My eyes are trained dead in front of me, and making sure that I can fit into the pack as I come off of the turn. I can only see one girl in front of me by the time I get to the inside, Emi, and if I could be anything but tense right now, I’m sure that would be a relaxing thought.

Wait a minute.

I’m here to win.

Emi’s right there.

I can do this.

I’ve still never figured out how I’m supposed to go any faster when I should already be running as fast as I can, but for whatever reason, as we come to the second turn, I could swear that Emi gets a little bit closer.

Coming off of the bend, with the finish directly ahead of us, I push myself, try to keep going, try to close the gap-

-but it’s no use. Emi turns on the afterburners and begins to slip away from me on the home stretch, and I cross the finish line a fair distance behind her - although, slightly to my surprise, nobody else finishes between the two of us. Only a few moments later, a loud and rather familiar voice sounds over the loudspeakers.

“In first place, Emi Ibarazaki of Yamaku! In second place, Miki Miura of Yamaku!” The third name is a girl from the other team, but by that point I’ve honestly stopped paying attention - I have to focus my tired brain on getting to where I need to be for the next race.

As Emi and I trot over to the rest of our team to cool off, Kenta comes over and high-fives the both of us in quick succession. “Hey, great job! You’re both looking fantastic, just keep it up, alright?”

Emi quickly affirms his upbeat expectations, but I only manage to nod halfheartedly. It’s going to be a long day. Hell, it’s already been a long day, and it’s only going to get longer.
Last edited by Craftyatom on Tue Jan 27, 2015 11:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Vigil (2/2)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:34 pm

I drive myself across the finish line, baton in hand, and for the fourth time today I can finally bring myself out of the running mentality and focus on coming to a stop. I haven’t got a great memory of the races before this one, this whole morning is kind of a blur, but I do know that this is the last race I run in.

“In first place, Yamaku Team 1!” I haven’t been keeping track of the combined score across all the races, but as far as I can tell, we’re absolutely dominating our rival school.

The other 3 runners who carried the baton before I did sprint over, and we all do a tiny group hug, which I’ll admit is kind of refreshing. It’s nice to have people who are so supportive, and finishing in first is a nice feeling. That’s another thing I can remember pretty well about the races prior to these: I consistently finished behind Emi. I’m not really bothered, by now it’s just kind of a fact of life that she comes first. I’m also pretty sure that, without her, we’d have a much harder time beating other schools. With her on the team, though, it’s almost impossible to lose.

As soon as the dust clears and my team breaks up, a few of them warming up to run in the 4x400, I begin to leave the track. I’m just going to stumble back to my room, fall asleep, and not wake up until some wonderfully late hour tomorrow afternoon. It will be the most glorious sleep I’ve ever had, and I deserve it for all this goddamn running.

As I cross the track and begin walking up the hill away from the bleachers, I could swear I hear Kenta calling my name from a distance; “Miki!”

Screw him, I have sleep to... to sleep, I guess. He’s probably gonna tell me to stick around for the medal ceremony or something, which I honestly can't be bothered with, especially not when my bed is calling for me.

“Hey, Miki!” I don’t care, I don’t care, go away, just let me go home.

Suddenly I can hear footsteps behind me, getting closer and closer, and then Kenta is stood in front of me, clipboard in hand. “Miki, I gotta ask you a big favor.”

This doesn’t sound good. “What.”

“One of our teams in the 4x400 is missing a member.”

A brief silence still gives me no idea what he’s asking for. I yawn before asking, “... and?”

“... and it would be really, really great if you could fill the empty spot.”

He wants me to... Oh, no, c’mon, “No, sorry, but I’m really tired, isn’t there someone else you can ask?”

He sighs, “I’ve tried, but the race is starting really soon and a lot of people left already. Besides, it’s one of the lower teams, so you don’t even have to be that fast, just be a fourth member for them, please?”

This is a really bad idea. I’m not sure if I can even meet the expectations of a lower team in this state. “I just spent everything on that last race, Kenta. I seriously don’t know if I can do a decent 400 meters.”

He purses his lips, sighs, and then turns around, though he motions me to follow. “C’mon, I gotta show you something.” Well, since I’m already turning down his request, I suppose I owe him at least this much. I follow him back towards where Yamaku’s runners are getting ready, and the group is in fact noticeably smaller than when the meet started, so I guess he was right about not being able to find another replacement.

Finally, he stops in front of a group of 3 girls, who are all signing to each other. I don’t recognize them, but they look like second-years, so I guess that’s not really a surprise. I am a little surprised that they have at least one deaf member; there’s nothing stopping deaf students from running track, but for some reason we don’t seem to get many. It’s probably mostly to do with deaf classes generally being separate, since they have to be taught in sign, but even then...

As they notice Kenta, they all turn to him, and he turns to me. “Miki, meet Yamaku’s 4x400 team 3: Mura, Harue, and Kana.” The rightmost, a fairly tall girl with long black hair who I assume is Kana, says hello, but the other two simply wave and then throw each other a few quick signs before looking at Kenta expectantly. He points to me, then says “I think I found you guys a replacement.”

All three girls go wide-eyed, and the two who I assume are deaf turn to Kana, both signing rather furiously. This overwhelms her, and she shakes her head before presumably telling them to slow down and go one at a time, though I’ll admit that sign language isn’t really my forte. I’ve been mildly interested in sign language before, if only as a way to talk during class without getting noticed, but with only one hand, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

Finally done signing between themselves, Kana turns back to Kenta. “You mean we actually get Miki as our fourth?” I’m a little surprised that they know my name... I guess they heard Misha announcing placings over the loudspeaker. Probably.

Kenta smiles, then looks at me with a cheesy grin on his face. “Well, I mean, that’s only if she wants to, of course...” All three of the girls look to me, and I’m suddenly assaulted by three pleading gazes. Kenta leans in next to me and whispers in my ear, “These three have been training for the past month to try and secure a spot here, but the girl who was going to be running third ended up being sick today.”

Stupid Kenta, trying to guilt me into this race. The girls haven’t stopped looking longingly at me, though, and I wonder why their fourth girl actually couldn’t make it. Most of the people who don’t show up to meets just oversleep or randomly decide not to show, but if this girl really is sick, then missing the meet was probably out of her control. Besides, at Yamaku, ‘being sick’ could mean anything from having a cold to being hospitalized, with all sorts of horrible stuff in between.

Realizing that I’ll never be able to live with myself otherwise, I sigh and say “Fine, I guess,” though I close my eyes, which feels really good at this point. All three girls smile, either having heard me or read my lips, and then the leftmost one, a short girl with medium-length brown hair and glasses, begins signing to her friends again. Kana, acting as a translator, says “Oh, Mura says that if Miki’s on the team, then-” She gets confused and stops, then signs something back, and Mura begins again, slower this time. “If Miki’s on the team, then she should run anchor, Mura will run third, and Harue can be second.” The girl in the middle, a lanky figure with blonde hair in a ponytail down her back, nods, presumably in agreement with the position changes.

No sooner do the three finish than the speakers blare, calling for the girls’ 4x400 teams to line up. Just in time, I guess. Kenta nods to the three girls, pats me on the shoulder, and then walks off, leaving the team to get ready. It will be a few minutes before I actually need to line up, but I’m interested to see how my new comrades perform, and I also need to make sure that I don’t fall asleep in the time between the race starting and me having to run.

Kana lines up first, and I realize that she’s the only one of these three who can hear the starting gun go off. I’m sure that there’s a way to start races so that deaf students can run, but I’ve never seen it done due to the scarcity of deaf runners here, and due to the fact that we mostly race other schools that are more focused on physical disabilities than deafness. I’ll have to ask Kenta if he knows. Or maybe one of these girls knows. The race starts.

Kana isn’t particularly fast, and she falls behind most of the other runners, but she manages to stay with the pack until she can hand off to Harue, who is an absolute rocket compared to the girl handing her the baton - probably why she was supposed to run anchor. She passes a lot of the other runners, but is unable to get into the top three before handing off to Mura, who isn’t quite as fast, but maintains her position, and as I get into place on the track, she still looks to be holding her own.

I’ve been on teams who botched handoffs before, and I’m almost expecting something to go wrong, but just like her friends before her, Mura manages to hand the baton off perfectly, and as soon as it’s safely in my grasp, I accelerate, my legs burning a little but my head far too focused on the race to care. Emi and some of the other anchors have already taken off before me, but I manage to regain some ground, and am back in third by the time we finish the first bend.

I’m a little surprised that my team has managed to do so well; I was expecting a little less from second-years, but they’ve really put a lot of time into this. I’m too tired to think straight, and they’ve still got me in a position where I’m in the top three. Props to-

Wait. The top three? Ahead of me are a girl from the other school and, unsurprisingly, Emi, who seems incredibly close. She is incredibly close. I know I can pass the girl in front of me, but as we finish the second corner, something clicks.

I can pass Emi.

I’ve been wrong each time today that I’ve thought that, but here on the final stretch, here in the final moments, I know I can go faster. A familiar feeling washes over me, and the golden gears in my legs seem to lock together at last; these final few meters suddenly look strangely like the side of the boys’ dorms.

The girl who was in second stands no chance, and the sound of her frantic breath fades behind me as I pass her. Now, my eyes trained directly on Emi, I strain, trying desperately to catch all the way up, closing the distance between us, until finally, surprisingly, incredibly, for the first time today, I pass her-

But it’s already over. Looking back, I realize that the two of us crossed the finish line moments before I was able to take the lead. The loudspeaker confirms my suspicions; “In first place, Yamaku Team 1! In second Place, Yamaku Team 3!” Well... Oh well. I was close enough not to feel bad. Plus, I mean, second place, as I’ve been saying all day, is no particular-

Suddenly I feel a set of arms grab me from behind, knocking the wind out of me. I spin around to face my attacker, but instead find Harue, dripping with sweat, holding me in a hug. Her teammates follow shortly after, and suddenly I’m encased in warm, sticky bodies, though I guess it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. I turn my head to address Kana, and ask “Hey, what’s with all the love?”

She laughs. “Are you kidding? We weren’t expecting to beat any of the other teams, let alone come in second!” The girls step back, and Harue signs something to Kana. “Oh, and Harue says that you should have been first anyways, it was so close.”

I smile, then chuckle. “Hey, I only ran 1/4th of the race. You guys were pretty good too!”

The trio blushes, then Maru extends her hand, and the other two girls follow suit. I grab each of them and give them a hearty handshake. They really did do pretty well, especially that Harue girl - she managed to outpace some of the third-years. Once we’ve finished our pleasantries, however, the girls begin signing to each other again, and I suddenly realize how incredibly tired I am. If I there was any doubt beforehand, I am now 100% sure that I’m on the brink of passing out.

Unfortunately for me, Kenta corrals me before I can leave the track, a smile on his face. “You were amazing out there, Miki!” I try to say thanks, but it ends up being more of a mumble. “Anyways, thanks a ton for helping out those girls - you made their day, you know.”

I nod. “Yeah, it was... It was good.”

“So, are you sticking around for the medal ceremony this time?” Crap. Damnit, Kenta, you know how much I hate those things, and today of all days...

Suddenly I spot Suzu and Hisao out of the corner of my eye, talking to Emi and... Tezuka? Doesn’t matter. “Oh, hey, look, my friends!” Before Kenta can protest, I force out “I’llseeyoulaterokaybye!” and sprint in their direction.

The discussion being held seems to be mostly between Emi and Hisao, with Suzu looking strangely at Emi and Tezuka looking strangely at Suzu. Not even bothering to listen to what they’re talking about, I hop between Suzu and Hisao and put my arms around their shoulders. “Hey guys, how’s it going?”

Hisao seems a little startled, but Suzu quickly responds with “Oh, hey Miki. Good running!”

I smile and nod towards Emi. “Don’t look at me, Emi here is the one winning us all those gold medals!” Emi grins, and is about to say something before I cut her off, unable to stay upright much longer. I’m already sort of leaning on Hisao for support, as Suzu is a bit too short to actually lean on. “Anyways, we have go do the thing, remember?”

Suzu instantly picks up on what I’m getting at. “Oh, yeah, celebrations and all, we should probably get going if we don’t want to be late.”

Hisao looks a little confused. “Don’t you need to stay to pick up your medals and stuff?”

I shake my head, since both of my arms are occupied, although this has the effect of turning my hair into somewhat of a sweat sprinkler, which causes Hisao to flinch and Suzu to act disgusted. “I can pick that stuff up from the office, the ceremony’s way too boring to sit through. I’ll see you later, Emi!”

She barely has time to respond with her own goodbye before I push on Suzu and Hisao, causing the three of us to turn and start walking away from the track. We have to make our way through a light crowd, but only for a little bit, and soon we’re almost at the dorms.

“So, Miki, you ready for the thing?” Suzu asks as I head towards the girls’ dorms, poking fun at my earlier excuse to Emi.

“Har har, very funny.” She smiles, but Hisao looks incredibly confused, so before I leave I address him. “Hey, thanks for showing up. Oh, and Suzu can explain.” With that I turn and clumsily walk towards the entrance, leaving Hisao almost as confused as before, which causes Suzu to burst into laughter.

My legs ache a little, but that’s to be expected, and I don’t consider showering or even changing as I absentmindedly make my way up to my room and into my bed.

Good work today, Miki.

Now go the fuck to sleep.

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Last edited by Craftyatom on Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Structural Integrity (1/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:35 pm

>Structural Integrity<
The trek over here in the cool night air has given me a bit of a chance to calm down, and my pains were eased just a little by the swift walking that I did to make it into the boys’ dorms. That was an acute reminder of how much I hate walking when I could be running, but because there’s still a decent chance that I’ll be competing in the meet tomorrow, I saved myself, and got a nice long walk’s worth of time to contemplate during. I started off spending this time trying to focus on my anger, to keep it fresh, but that kind of thing never lasts long when I’m out in the cool night air.

Walking around also reminded me a bit of Hisao, and our friendship - two straight weeks of doing cooldown walking with him have evidently burned that connection into my mind. I know that when I first offered the walking position to him, I did it for his benefit, more as exercise for him than as company for me, but I feel like over the time we’ve been walking together he’s started doing it less for his health and more as something social, something for my sake. I mean, if his heart suddenly healed, would he still come along?

Even though I believe that the answer is yes, especially because of the tutoring that he’s so selflessly done for me, I decide that it’s not really a good way to think of things. If my phantom pains magically stopped, I’m not even sure that I’d still run. But these are questions we don’t need answers to. My phantom pains might be with me for the rest of my life. His heart... I guess I’ve never asked, but I’d assume that it’s nothing curable. He probably wouldn’t be at Yamaku if it were.

I’m lucky that the doors to the dorms are always open, though I feel kind of bad for abusing that fact. The dorms are unlocked on the premise that if a student somehow ended up locked out during the night, being outside in the cold for so long could be a major health issue. Of course, there’s the nursing staff available at all hours, but they don’t have time to deal with every kid who didn’t quite make it back before curfew. It’s not really a breach of safety, either, because the night guards patrol the grounds and borders, which means that only students and staff should ever be on campus at night.

I’m just lucky there’s nobody down in the common room to see me, although I suppose I could sneak past, but who knows whether that would work out. Instead, the place seems desolate, so I pull off my sweater, bundle it up, and wedge it under my left arm, making sure that only black fabric is visible from the outside.

I head up to Hisao’s room, take a deep breath, and knock. I hope I wasn’t any longer than I told him I would be. I also hope he hasn’t texted me to say that I shouldn’t be here for whatever reason; my phone is still in my room where I left it after angrily storming out. Luckily, Hisao doesn’t seem too fazed when he answers the door, taking a second to adjust to the dim hallway lighting.

Neither of us says anything for a few seconds. I wasn’t sure what I was going to tell him, but I also thought I could at least get a few words out. Come on, Miki. “Hey.”

“Hey,” he replies, his voice a little rough. His hair is messy, and his eyes are slightly pink, but he doesn’t seem annoyed or anything, just tired.

I take a deep breath and fidget for a moment, I was expecting him to open conversation with something like ‘How are you?’ or ‘What brings you out here?’ or... Anything, really. But he’s just standing there, looking bored. Looks like I’ll have to take matters into my own hands.

“May I come in?” I ask, tilting my head towards his room for emphasis. This seems to snap him out of the daydream he was falling into, although I suppose it’s not really a daydream at this point. A nightdream. Or something.

Unfortunately, he immediately breaks eye contact with me and begins to wring his hands. “I, uh... Can’t we just talk out here?”

“No.”

He’s kind of stunned, like he was expecting me to just give up. Not after coming this far, Hisao. Not when I’ve got so much on the line. I’m willing to talk this through, and I’m willing to share my secrets, but if you’re going to keep pushing me away, hiding your past or your fears from me, then I will just turn around and spend the rest of the night angry at you.

Luckily, after a bit of deliberation, and a few worried looks on his part, he opens his door a little wider and motions me in, and I gladly accept. Stepping through the doorway, I can see that not much has changed since I was last in here; the room is still bland and rather unremarkable. The only thing that really stands out is the large collection of pill bottles on his nightstand, the one feature I can remember from before. I don’t dwell on it, though; I walk straight to his bed, turn around, and sit down on the side, leaving plenty of space next to me. Hisao, after closing his door and turning the light on, seems a little uneasy, but eventually walks over and joins me, his eyes unfocused, staring off into space.

It’s so quiet that I almost feel bad breaking the silence, but I didn’t come here just to stare at his room.

“So why were you so worried about letting me see your room? It looks fine to me.”

He’s startled a little by my voice, but once he understands, he gives me a quizzical glance, then points to his nightstand, and my gaze again falls on his stack of medications.

“What, the meds?”

He nods. “Yeah.”

I scoff. “Come on, Hisao, this is a school for the disabled, more than half of the kids who go here take some sort of medication.” He thinks this over a little, and I add “I don’t know anyone who takes that many, but still, it’s not a big deal. If that’s what you have to do, then who cares?”

A sigh. “I guess you’re right. It just makes me feel... It reminds me of how weak I am.”

“Again, this is a school for kids with disabilities - you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t at least a little weak.”

“I know, I know, but- Look at you, for example. You’re here because you’re missing a hand, but besides that one thing, there’s literally nothing wrong with you! I can’t run or exercise at all, I can’t fall over or bump into people, I have to take a billion pills every day, and you just get to be perfect all the time!”

Now I remember why I came here. Luckily for Hisao, the sense of serenity I got on the walk over is still with me, so rather than raising my voice to match his as I probably would’ve done a few minutes ago, I simply slump my shoulders and stare down at my feet, arms limp on my lap. It’s more a sign that I’m trying to think of what to say, but Hisao misinterprets it.

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t-”

“No, no, it’s fine, I see where you’re coming from. But it’s not that simple.” What was the word he had used? “I’m not invincible.”

I sit back upright and stare straight ahead, trying to focus on my words rather than my surroundings.

“I’ve told you that I had a hard time when I first came to Yamaku, but nobody really knows how bad I had it. It was a step up from the hospital, but I still wasn’t thrilled. The transition itself was hard enough, but my phantom pains made things a hell of a lot worse. Almost every night, it felt like, I’d wake up and I could feel my left hand. My body was sure it was there, and it was tightening, clenching - and it hurt. I didn’t get much sleep, and then I was tired all day, and the only thing I had to look forward to was another painful, sleepless night. You know how my left arm’s always bandaged?”

I look at Hisao, and he nods, cautious but evidently aware of the cloth I keep wrapped around the stump on my left arm.

“Well, I figured I’d take the bandages off when I came to Yamaku, but every night I was up with my left arm in pain, I’d always try to hit things with it, like the wall, the floor, my bed, myself... It got really bruised up, and I realized that if I didn’t want people asking questions, I’d have to keep it covered.” I chuckle. “Nowadays I only really do it out of habit, but for a while, I actually needed it.”

“What changed?”

“Hmm?” I look at Hisao to see him looking back at me, intrigued.

“You used to do all that stuff, but you’re not like that now... What’s changed between now and then?”

I sigh. This is it, huh. You wanted to have someone to talk to in the middle of night, and you got ‘em. I could still back out now, I guess. I could say that I don’t want to talk about it. Or that it doesn’t matter. Or that it’s-

It’s kind of a long story. That’s what Hisao always said. When I asked about his room, about his heart, about his life before Yamaku, anything, he’d just wave it off, pretend it never happened, and pray it never came up again. But he’s getting better. He told me about his heart. He told me about almost dying in the middle of the night. He let me into his room. He let me into his past.

Could I possibly deny all that progress and just push him away as soon as the tables were turned?

You can be someone special.

You can be worth something.

“It’s... It’s kind of a long story,” I warn him, “but if you haven’t got anything planned, I’d be willing to share.”

He smiles, and pretends to think hard on the matter. “I don’t know, my schedule’s a little booked right now.”

I giggle, both because of his joke and because I think the mood has changed. “Anyways, so back then, I was staying up every night with phantom pains, and hitting a lot of stuff, and in general not having a very good life. Then, one night, I got so fed up with having to deal with all of this, with not being able to be a normal person, that I went outside and just started running, as fast as I could, just going wherever my legs would take me. I wasn’t a runner at that point; I had never really gone running just for the sake of exercise before, but it felt nice.”

“You didn’t run before you came to Yamaku?”

“Nope, not once. That was my first time.” He nods, and I continue. “I didn’t really know where I was going, but I also didn’t care - until one of the night guards spotted me. Students sprinting around campus after curfew isn’t really allowed, so the guy started chasing after me, presumably so he could turn me in. I didn’t really care about punishment at that point, but something about being chased made me incredibly afraid of getting caught, so I ran away, and what do you know, I was faster than him. Lost him somewhere on campus, then quietly snuck back into the dorms, lay down in bed, and realized that my pains were gone.”

He’s bewildered. “Wow, that’s... That’s pretty cool.”

“It sounds great, but honestly, it’s not. It’s dangerous, and kind of dumb... I only kept up with it because it was the only answer I had to my phantom pains.”

His face becomes one of concern. “Is it like that every night?”

“Luckily, no; over time I got a bit better, so now it’s only every once in a while.”

He takes a moment to mull this over. “You know, if you wanted to make a point about how you’re not invincible, you probably shouldn’t have told me the story of how you battle you phantom pains by sprinting around campus in the middle of the night.”

I roll my eyes; he kind of has a point, but I sure don’t feel much better for it. “That’s not everything, though.” He raises one eyebrow, and I take it as permission enough to go on. “I realized that if any of the night guards saw me on one of these runs and then recognized me during the day, or told the administration what I looked like, I could still get in trouble, and not the kind I could just run away from, either. So I bought a black outfit, so that nobody would know who I was.” I take my sweater out from under my left arm and begin to unfold it.

“Wow, so in addition to running in the middle of night, you started wearing a costume to hide your identity? I’d say that’s pretty-” He stops as I finish unfolding the bundle of fabric and point one of the sleeves towards him, revealing an intricate white pattern against the black cloth. His mouth is still open, but it’s obvious that he’s not pausing naturally - he’s having a realization. An important one.

After a few seconds of incredibly tense silence, he manages to force something out. “Miki, i-is... I mean, you, y-you...” He looks up from the object in my arms, and his eyes meet mine. He looks lost, forlorn. I wasn’t exactly expecting a warm welcome, but I was also hoping that he wouldn’t take it quite this hard.

Let’s soften the blow.

I drop the black sweater onto the floor, lean towards him, and wrap him in a hug. He’s still shocked, as evidenced by his lack of response; his shoulders are still rigid and his arms are still limp. I try to fill the empty space in the conversation with my apology.

“I’m really sorry, Hisao. I was dumb, and I should’ve called for help, or taken you to the nurse, or anything besides just standing there and watching you suffer, watching you almost die, but I didn’t, and I’m so, so sorry.”

He seems to be listening, and he relaxes a little, his neck becoming a bit less tense, although his arms are still at his sides, unwilling to return my embrace. Neither of us says anything for a while, but I honestly don’t mind - I realize that I’m incredibly worried about how Hisao might react to this. He might let me stay and explain myself, but this is certainly grounds for never wanting to talk to me again, and there’s a chance that, as soon as I let him go, he’ll make me leave, and I know I couldn’t come back.

But I don’t want to let him go. So I pull back, resting my right hand on his left shoulder, and ask him.

“Hisao, can... Can you forgive me?”

He looks me in the eyes, which I would take as a good sign if he didn’t seem so distant, for a little bit before looking down at my sweater, which is crumpled on his floor. “I could’ve died,” he mutters, his voice shaky and quiet.

“I know, I know, I... I knew. Even back then, I knew something was wrong, I knew that you were in pain, and I knew that with your heart, something like this could be really, really bad. And I was scared, I was so goddamn scared that I was going to be the last person to see you alive, and that I’d never get to see you again, but... I was also scared that someone might find out about me. About how weak I really am.”

He thinks about this for a while, it’s hard to tell exactly how long, it feels like quite a while but eventually he speaks and I lose track of how long I was waiting. “So who else knows?”

“About me running my pains off? Nobody. Well, now you do, I guess, but nobody else.”

He smiles, good sign. “Besides Suzu, right?”

I shake my head. “Nope, not even Suzu. Just you and I.”

With this his eyes go wide with incredulity. “Wow, I’m... I’m actually kind of honored.”

I chuckle. “Well to be fair, I’ve also never given Suzu a heart flutter, so it kind of evens out.” This makes him smile, and I think I might be in the clear, but then he sighs, and goes back to looking very distanced. “What’s wrong?” I ask, not wanting to let all of this go to waste.

“Oh, it’s...” He shakes his head a little, then sighs. “You were really scared I was going to die?”

“Of course! I don’t think I could deal with you being gone, let alone being the one responsible for it. I could never forgive myself for something like that.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. Why?”

He slumps his shoulders, letting out a dull chuckle. “Honestly, between my heart condition and moving schools... I think that’s the first time in a long time anyone would’ve cared.”

Ouch.

My brain tries to grasp the situation, to let me comprehend, but Hisao’s words hold me back, briefly chaining me down with him. The sadness in his voice and the emptiness in his eyes leave me at a loss for words.

I guess actions will have to do. I lean in again and throw my arms around him, pulling him into another hug, although this one is tighter than the last - I press my head into the side of his neck, and can hear his heartbeat. It’s strange, irregular, but before I can ponder it any longer, he at last returns the favor, putting his arms around me and reciprocating.

Only after a fairly prolonged time in this position do I finally think of something to say. “Hisao, you are the nicest guy I have ever met. Don’t you dare think for even a moment that this whole goddamn school wouldn’t miss you.”

He doesn’t say anything in response, but he doesn’t move either, and I take it as sign enough that he’s understood.

We stay like this for a while, and I’m not quite sure what he’s thinking, but I think that I’ve helped, and that he understands things a bit better now. I told him my secret, I apologized for my mistakes, and I think we’re a little closer for it.

If there was any doubt, the heat of his body next to mine pushes it away.
Last edited by Craftyatom on Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Structural Integrity (2/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:35 pm

After a while, Hisao mentioned that I should probably go back and try to sleep if I could, and he was right - some sleep is better than no sleep at all. So I grabbed my sweater, slipped it on, and walked back to the dorms. Well, I walked most of the way; a short sprint to the doors couldn’t hurt, right? I fell back into bed, and my left arm wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been, and after only a little bit of tossing and turning, I managed to get to sleep. I won’t say that getting up was easy, but I suppose it could’ve been worse, and now, arriving at the track, the sun having warmed me up, I feel okay. Not perfect, not prime, but good enough to run.

As I trot over to the large gaggle of runners occupying the center of the track, I turn my head to try and look for Hisao or Suzu on the bleachers, but I can’t see them. I’m not really surprised, though - the crowd is almost nonexistent, as the actual event won’t start for a while. It’s only as I meet up with the group in the middle that the team spreads out to begin stretching, everyone spreading out and following the instructions of Kenta, though most of us have already memorized this stretching routine by now.

We go through the motions, and I’ll admit that it feels good to be working with the team again. I still think practicing on my own was the right decision, but there’s a certain sense of camaraderie that you can only ever get from a team like this. Eventually we finish stretching, and break into small groups, discussing the meet ahead of us, repeating any stretches that were particularly effective, or just joking around to lighten the mood. Adrenaline is great and all, but being nervous about a race is a surefire way to mess something up, especially for some of the newer runners here.

I’m about to go find some friends to talk to, but see Kenta making a beeline for me, and walk over to meet him. He smiles as he gets close. “Miki! It’s great to see you.”

“Same!” I respond - it has been some time. Suddenly, his friendly smile turns into a devious grin.

“You know, you haven’t been showing up to practice lately. I don’t think I can let you run in any of these races.”

A smirk spreading onto my face as well, I shrug and fire back with “Well, if you really want to ruin our chances of winning, I guess I can’t stop you...”

Finally the both of us burst into laughter, and he pats me on the shoulder. “Hey, you’re gonna do great out there today, right?”

I raise my left arm to my forehead in a mock salute, which also serves to shield my eyes from the sun as I look up at him, given that he’s at least a few inches taller than me. “Yes sir!”

“Awesome, I’m looking forward to it.” With that he walks off to talk to some of the other runners, presumably just making sure that the people he’s chosen to be running each race are present. He takes a long time to put the lineups together, and if people end up being absent on the day of the race, it throws a wrench into his plans.

I return to the task of trying to find some people to chat with, but as I look around I notice Hisao and Suzu making their way onto the stands. I consider jogging over and saying hi, but know that if I do, I’ll only get halfway there before Kenta calls me back to warm up for the first race. Instead, I settle with waving at them as vigorously as possible, trying to catch their attention. It’s no use; Hisao is looking across the bleachers at the rest of the crowd and Suzu’s eyes are half-closed, so neither one of them seems to notice me.

Oh well, I’m sure once the races start they’ll be watching.

As I suspected, it’s only a few more seconds before I hear our captain calling for the girls running in the 400-meter dash to meet up.

After only some quick checks and an incredibly compact pep talk, we’re called to line up, and as I walk to my spot on the track, I try my best to get pumped.

This is it.

This is what you’ve been training all that time for.

Funnily enough, I suppose this is also why I got to have that conversation with Hisao last night - if I hadn’t been worried about hurting myself before the race, I never would’ve been screwing around trying to get to sleep when he first texted me.

My train of thought is interrupted by the familiar call of “Runners, on your marks!”, and I crouch down at the line, my whole body coiled like a spring. In front of me, Emi does the same.

“Get set!” I tense up further, my muscles now itching to leap forwards, my brain waiting anxiously to let me loose. Any second now, any second now, any-

*BANG*

Suddenly all the tension is released and I find myself rocketing forwards, my arms acting as counterweights, my feet gripping on the rubber surface of the track. There’s no time to think anymore, I spend all of my effort concentrating on making myself fast, keeping my feet steady, and preparing for the upcoming turn.

We round the corner, and I still look to be in a good position, though I’m hardly concentrating on my peripheral vision. My eyes are trained dead in front of me, and making sure that I can fit into the pack as I come off of the turn. I can only see one girl in front of me by the time I get to the inside, Emi, and if I could be anything but tense right now, I’m sure that would be a relaxing thought.

Wait a minute...

I’m here to win.

Emi’s right there.

I can do this.

I’ve still never figured out how I’m supposed to go any faster when I should already be running as fast as I can, but for whatever reason, as we come to the second turn, I could swear that Emi gets a little bit closer.

Coming off of the bend, with the finish directly ahead of us, I push myself, trying to keep going, trying to close the gap-

-but it’s no use. Emi turns on the afterburners and begins to slip away from me on the home stretch, and I cross the finish line a fair distance behind her - although, slightly to my surprise, nobody else finishes between the two of us. Only a few moments later, a loud and rather familiar voice sounds over the loudspeakers.

“In first place, Emi Ibarazaki of Yamaku! In second place, Miki Miura of Yamaku!” The third name is a girl from the other team, but by that point I’ve honestly stopped paying attention - I have to get ready for the next race.

As Emi and I trot over to the rest of our team to cool off, Kenta comes over and high-fives the both of us in quick succession. “Hey, great job! You’re both looking fantastic, just keep it up, alright?”

Emi and I both affirm that we plan to repeat these results, and moments later the call for runners to head onto the track for the girls’ 200-meter dash comes over the speakers, and I jog over to my place.

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Structural Integrity (3/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:36 pm

I drive myself across the finish line, baton in hand, and for the fourth time today I can finally bring myself out of the running mentality and focus on coming to a stop. This is my last race today, and I’m glad it went pretty well.

Really well, actually; “In first place, Yamaku Team 1!” I haven’t been keeping track of the combined score across all the races, but as far as I can tell, we’re absolutely dominating our rival school.

The other 3 runners who carried the baton before I did sprint over, and we all do a tiny group hug, which I’ll admit is kind of refreshing. It’s nice to have people who are so supportive, and finishing in first is a nice feeling - one that, as expected, I didn’t get to taste during the individual races, thanks to Emi. I’m not really bothered, by now it’s just kind of a fact of life that she comes first. I’m also pretty sure that, without her, we’d have a much harder time beating other schools. With her on the team, though, it feels impossible to lose.

As soon as the dust clears and my team breaks up, a few of them warming up to run in the 4x400, I decide to walk over to the bleachers and say hi to Suzu and Hisao, just to... Well, just to say hi. As long as Hisao’s okay with it, we can probably leave early to get something to eat, saving us from having to walk through crowds of people leaving the track.

As I begin to make my way towards my friends and away from where the rest of the running team is gathered, I hear a familiar voice call my name; “Miki!”

I turn around to see Kenta running towards me, clipboard in hand. “Miki, hey, I gotta ask you a big favor.”

Something tells me it doesn’t involve leaving early to go eat celebratory lunch with friends. “What is it?”

“One of our teams in the 4x400 is missing a member.” Well, the fact that he’s telling me this can only mean one thing:

“You want me to fill in for them?”

He gives me his best puppy-dog eyes, knowing that I spent almost all of my energy on the last race and probably don’t want to run any more today. “I’ve tried looking for someone else to fill the spot, but the race is starting really soon and a lot of people left already. Besides, it’s one of the lower teams, so you don’t even have to be that fast, just be a fourth member for them, please?”

Well, it could be worse. And if he’s telling the truth about having looked for other people first, then I might be the only one available to fill the empty space - and with only three members, the team couldn’t participate even if they wanted to. I guess I can stick around for a bit. “Okay, sure. Where’s the team?”

He smiles. “Follow me, replacement!”

I follow him back towards where the other runners are getting ready, and the group is in fact noticeably smaller than when the meet started, so I guess he was right about not being able to find another replacement.

Making our way through some of the runners I know, he stops in front of a group of 3 girls, who are all signing to each other. I don’t recognize them, but they look like second-years, so I guess that’s not really a surprise. I am a little surprised that they have at least one deaf member; there’s nothing stopping deaf students from running track, but for some reason we don’t seem to get many. It’s probably mostly to do with deaf classes generally being separate, since they have to be taught in sign, but even then...

As they notice Kenta, they all turn to him, and he turns to me. “Miki, meet Yamaku’s 4x400 team 3: Mura, Harue, and Kana.” The rightmost, a fairly tall girl with long black hair who I assume is Kana, says hello, but the other two simply wave and then throw each other a few quick signs before looking at Kenta expectantly. He points to me, then says “I got you guys a replacement.”

All three girls go wide-eyed, and the two who I assume are deaf turn to Kana, both signing rather furiously. This overwhelms her, and she shakes her head before presumably telling them to slow down and go one at a time, though I’ll admit that sign language isn’t really my forte. I’ve been mildly interested in sign language before, if only as a way to talk during class without getting noticed, but with only one hand, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

Finally done signing between themselves, Kana turns back to Kenta. “You mean we actually get Miki as our fourth?” I’m a little surprised that they know my name... I guess they heard Misha announcing placings over the loudspeaker. Probably.

“Yep,” replies Kenta, “she’s all yours.” I’m a little peeved at the notion that I’m being traded around like an object, but any hint of annoyance melts away as all three girls smile. The leftmost one, a short girl with medium-length brown hair and glasses, begins signing to her friends again. Kana, acting as a translator, says “Oh, Mura says that if Miki’s on the team, then-” She gets confused and stops, then signs something back, and Mura begins again, slower this time. “If Miki’s on the team, then she should run anchor, Mura will run third, and Harue can be second.” The girl in the middle, a lanky figure with blonde hair in a ponytail down her back, nods, presumably in agreement with the position changes.

No sooner do the three finish than the speakers blare, calling for the girls’ 4x400 teams to line up. Just in time, I guess. Kenta nods to the three girls, pats me on the shoulder, and then walks off, leaving the team to get ready. It will be a few minutes before I actually need to line up, but I’m interested to see how my new comrades perform.

Kana lines up first, and I realize that she’s the only one of these three who can hear the starting gun go off. I’m sure that there’s a way to start races so that deaf students can run, but I’ve never seen it done due to the scarcity of deaf runners here, and also because we mostly race other schools that are more focused on physical disabilities than deafness. I’ll have to ask Kenta if he knows. Or maybe one of these girls knows. The race starts.

Kana isn’t particularly fast, and she falls behind most of the other runners, but still manages to stay with the pack until she can hand off to Harue, who is an absolute rocket compared to the girl handing her the baton - probably why she was supposed to run anchor, before the lineup changes. She passes a lot of the other runners, but is unable to get into the top three before handing off to Mura, who isn’t quite as fast, but maintains her position, and as I get into place on the track, she still looks to be holding her own.

I’ve been on teams who botched handoffs before, and I’m almost expecting something to go wrong given that these are younger runners, but just like her friends before her, Mura manages to hand the baton off perfectly, and as soon as it’s safely in my grasp, I accelerate, my legs burning a little but my head far too focused on the race to care. Emi and some of the other anchors have already taken off before me, but I manage to regain some ground, and am back in third by the time we finish the first bend.

I’m a little surprised that my team has managed to do so well; I wasn’t expecting this much from second-years that I’ve never met before, but they’ve obviously put a lot of time into this. I feel a bit fatigued, as expected, but these girls have managed to deposit me safely in the top three. Props to-

Wait. The top three? Ahead of me are a girl from the other school and, unsurprisingly, Emi, who seems incredibly close. She is incredibly close. I know I can pass the girl in front of me, but as we finish the second corner, something clicks.

I can pass Emi.

I’ve been wrong each time today that I’ve thought that, but here on the final stretch, here in the final moments, I know I can go faster. A familiar feeling washes over me, and the golden gears in my legs seem to lock together at last; these final few meters suddenly look strangely like the side of the boys’ dorms.

The girl who was in second stands no chance, and the sound of her frantic breath fades behind me as I pass her. Now, my eyes trained directly on Emi, I strain, trying desperately to catch all the way up, closing the distance between us, until finally, surprisingly, incredibly, for the first time today, I pass her-

But it’s already over. Looking back, I realize that the two of us crossed the finish line moments before I was able to take the lead. The loudspeaker confirms my suspicions; “In first place, Yamaku Team 1! In second Place, Yamaku Team 3!” Well... Oh well. I was close enough not to feel bad. Plus, I mean, second place, as I’ve been saying all day, is no particular-

Suddenly I feel a set of arms grab me from behind, knocking the wind out of me. I spin around to face my attacker, but instead find Harue, dripping with sweat, holding me in a hug. Her teammates follow shortly after, and suddenly I’m encased in warm, sticky bodies, though I guess it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. I turn my head to address Kana, and ask “Hey, what’s with all the love?”

She laughs. “Are you kidding? We weren’t expecting to beat any of the other teams, let alone come in second!” The girls step back, and Harue signs something to Kana. “Oh, and Harue says that you should have been first anyways, it was so close.”

I smile, then chuckle. “Hey, I only ran 1/4th of the race. You guys were pretty good too!”

The trio blushes, then Maru extends her hand, and the other two girls follow suit. I grab each of them and give them a hearty handshake. They really did do pretty well, especially that Harue girl - she managed to outpace some of the third-years. Once we’ve finished our pleasantries, however, the girls begin signing to each other again, and I decide to leave now, before Kenta can-

Suddenly there’s a familiar voice talking to me again. “You were amazing out there, Miki!”, Kenta says enthusiastically. I try to say thanks, but it ends up being more of a mumble and a blush. “Anyways, thanks a ton for helping out those girls - you made their day, you know.”

I nod. “Yeah, it felt good.”

“So, are you sticking around for the medal ceremony this time?” Crap. I was hoping he wouldn’t ask that. I hate medal ceremonies.

I rub the back of my neck with my hand, trying to quickly come up with some sort of excuse as to why I can’t go, when I spot a very distinctive head of hair in my peripheral vision. Sure enough, Suzu, along with Hisao, has come down from the bleachers to see me, although at the moment they’re talking to Emi and Tezuka. But that’s a conversation I wouldn’t mind joining - at least, if it will serve as an excuse to leave without having to slog through some boring ceremony.

“Hey, look,” I point out to Kenta, “it’s my friends! I should probably go and, y’know, talk to them.”

He gives me a look that leaves no doubt in my mind that he knows what I’m playing at, but instead of being apprehensive he just rolls his eyes. “Alright, I’ll make sure they hold your stuff for you. Go have fun.”

I smile at him, trying my best to express my gratitude, but also trying to quickly make my escape. I sprint over behind my friends and put my arms over their shoulders, my left arm resting on Suzu and my right hand grabbing onto Hisao’s arm. Suzu almost doesn’t react, but Hisao flinches a little, then calms down once he realizes it’s just me. Emi, standing across from the three of us, is a little surprised at first, but then breaks into that trademark grin of hers.

“Hey Miki, great job out there!” Emi and I have known each other through track for quite a while now, but both of us have changed our schedules since we first met, so we don’t see each other that often anymore. Still, I’m a little surprised that all we have left is small talk about the race we just ran. It could be worse, I suppose.

“You too, Emi - placing strong as usual.” Honestly, what are the first and second placing members of a team supposed to say to each other? I feel like our conversation is lacking substance, and so I turn to my right for help. “I would introduce you to Hisao, but from what I’ve heard, you’ve already met?”

“Yep! I was the one making sure he got some decent exercise during his first week here.” She lowers her eyebrows. “Speaking of which, where have you been, Hisao? My morning runs are all lonely now.”

Hisao, looking like a deer caught in headlights, thinks for a moment before replying “It was just a little... intense for my tastes.”

Emi rolls her eyes. “Well what were you expecting from a proper routine? Go hard or go home, am I right?” She pumps her fist in the air, then looks to me for justification, but instead Hisao and I share a knowing sideways glance.

I know I said I’d chew Emi out for her role in Hisao’s early heart flutter, but honestly, coming off of a big win, standing around chatting with friends... I can’t bring myself to be mean, or even unpleasant. Instead, I change the subject, hoping nobody asks any further. “Well I’m really hungry, you guys want to head into town and find something to eat?”

Emi frowns. “You’re going to stick around for the medal ceremony first, right?”

Before I can reply, Suzu speaks up, throwing a cheeky sideways glance at me. “Yeah, don’t you have to stick around to pick up all your silver medals?”

For her insolence, she receives a soft bonk on the head from my stump, which I manage to disguise as a shrug. “Nah, I’ll just pick that stuff up from the office sometime next week, I’d rather not sit through this whole ordeal.” Emi is still frowning, and I can tell that she’s not pleased with my decision, but she also knows that she doesn’t have a choice in the matter. After a few more seconds without any objections, save for Emi’s pouting face, I squeeze my two friends. “Alright, it’s settled, then! I’ll see you around, Emi.”

If she’s still bothered by my decision to leave, she covers it up with another smile. “Okay, seeya Miki, bye Hisao!”

Hisao nods. “Emi, Rin, it’s been good talking to you.”

Tezuka, who until now had been silent, closes her eyes and inhales deeply through her nose, then looks disappointed as she exhales. “Too much brown - I was at least hoping for blue.”

As Emi tries to figure out what Tezuka could possibly have meant, I gently nudge Hisao and Suzu away from the track, and the three of us head for the gate at the front of the school.

Previous: Cover ~ Next: Weightlessness
Last edited by Craftyatom on Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Brief Exchanges, Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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brythain
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 25th)

Post by brythain » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:45 pm

Ooh. I am officially over-Miki-ed today, I think. This is a very welcome addition. I like the reconciliation, the track meet; I do think a little confusion over tenses does exist (at least from the reader's perspective) but the story's fine. Thanks!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

azumeow
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 25th)

Post by azumeow » Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:08 am

That went shockingly well. Though, those five minutes or so of walking to Hisao's room probably made all the difference. Glad I was right in thinking that telling him was the right choice-someone else did too, but the actual revelation was...really nice, if a bit tough for the two to get through.
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Dec 25th)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Dec 25, 2014 6:46 am

See that's why I hate branches in fanfictions.
Finished reading the chapter about the track meet and suddenly there's a complete non-sequitur, and I have to figure out if there has been a time-skip or what. Then I had to reread the two endings of the last chapter an figure out which part goes where. It completely rips apart immersion and tramples it on the ground.
At least put in an indicator for that, will you? Even the VN scripts contain those, and they are not supposed to be read by anyone who isn't working on them.
Also, most of the later two thirds of the "good path" are completely redundant. In a VN you have the option to skip over read lines. You don't get that in a FF. So you either have to read all of it again or search for the point where everything diverges again and hope there haven't been any small but important changes in between..
So, if you absolutey want to do branches and they remerge at some point later try to keep them chronological:
1. The part where Miki goes to Hisao's room - with a direction that this only happens on the good path at the beginning.
2. The track meet.
3&4. The two diverging paths again.

Other than that great writing as usual.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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