COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Sep 26th, 2020)

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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Oct 15th, 2018)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:38 am

since you already know about Miki and I
about Miki and me.

Thanks for the new chapter! Pleasure as always :-)
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 Oct 15th, 2018)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Oct 24, 2018 1:13 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:38 am
since you already know about Miki and I
about Miki and me.

Thanks for the new chapter! Pleasure as always :-)
Fixed! Thanks for the catch, and I'm glad you enjoyed!
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Path of Least Resistance, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Oct 15th, 2018)

Post by Feurox » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:56 am

It's a crime that I haven't commented on this yet. A crime.

Your Miki is potentially my favourite character in any story I've read on the Renai. That's a tough realisation to have had, given the quantity of versions of Miki alone. And yet, here we are, and I can say with confidence that it is the Miki of COM(promise) that earns the title of best girl in my eyes. She's relatable, troubled, passionate and kind - but it's the relatable one that really stands out amongst the other praise I could lay on the character.

Your writing perfectly captures the thoughts of someone at odds with themselves, the confession from Hisao being a stand out scene in that regard. Miki just feels so real, and I think part of what makes that so possible is because her relationship with Hisao, with Suzu even, it feels so attainable. There's not some high-octane story going in the background; Miki is fundamentally a teenager, and with this stories sharp focus on acceptance and self-improvement, I think that works wonderfully. Nothing feels contrived, it all feels natural - especially the progression of Hisao and Miki's relationship. And the romance is top notch so hats off.

I'd also like to commend your Hisao in this story. He feels like a character with substantial weight, not just some vessel of a man. The titbits of backstory we get about his childhood, and the growth he's shown surrounding his condition and his relationship with Miki are beautifully inspiring - again this is probably thanks to just how believable the story is between these two. It feels very well thought out. I'd also praise your depiction of Suzu, though we certainly take her in different directions :lol:! Suzu's story doesn't feel like some tacked on addition, and it's never a distraction delaying the Miki and Hisao scenes - which considering how brilliant those scenes are, speaks for the quality of Suzu's character. You've given yourself a small cast, but it truly works to make each of them feel like you're putting your heart into each of them.

As far as anything constructive, I'd definetly say that whilst all of what i mentioned above is true, some conflict wouldn't hurt this story. There are some intriquing turns I can foresee this story taking, but so far, the only readily apparent problem facing our cast is Suzu's downcast attitude. I have absoulely no doubt that you've already considered this, given who you are, and how talented as a writer i know you are, but it feels like a wortwhile comment to make at this moment in time. As we stand right now, things feel wonderful, but they also feel interstitial, we're definetly in the calm... I just hope that the storm continues to maintain the delicate realism you've infused this story with thus far.

TL;DR, I am in absoulte awe of this story. As i mentioned in Gravity's first post, it is people like you, like Brythain, like Mirage, on this forum, and the brilliant stories I have the privelge of being able to read that you put out, that I am inspried to write myself. I can give no higher praise for a story of this quality, but I hope that my humble piano tinkering does something in the way of thanks. Here's the piece I (composed? I guess?) in tribute to a wonderful story, and a very, very taleneted and interesting writer.

For CraftyAtom, Plyometric Heart

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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Oct 15th, 2018)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:56 pm

Feurox wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:56 am
I'd also praise your depiction of Suzu, though we certainly take her in different directions :lol:!
You're absolutely right there - I can remember the first time I read your take on Suzu, and being surprised at just how different she was from my own depiction.
Feurox wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:56 am
As far as anything constructive, I'd definetly say that whilst all of what i mentioned above is true, some conflict wouldn't hurt this story. There are some intriquing turns I can foresee this story taking, but so far, the only readily apparent problem facing our cast is Suzu's downcast attitude. I have absoulely no doubt that you've already considered this, given who you are, and how talented as a writer i know you are, but it feels like a wortwhile comment to make at this moment in time. As we stand right now, things feel wonderful, but they also feel interstitial, we're definetly in the calm... I just hope that the storm continues to maintain the delicate realism you've infused this story with thus far.
You're absolutely right: recent scenes have ended some conflicts (Hisao and Miki's relationship, their attitude towards physical contact, and the upcoming test) and not started any new ones, leaving Suzu as the only real current point of conflict, and even that has been somewhat addressed. You're also right in that I've planned for this - I hope it will suffice to say that Act 3 is far from over. (To be fair, this whole "planning" thing is relatively new to me: I didn't have much of a plan until a few scenes ago, though I'm quite happy with it now.)
Feurox wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:56 am
For CraftyAtom, Plyometric Heart
Thank you so much! This is the first time, to my knowledge, that my writing has ever inspired a piece of art, and I absolutely love it! The progressions are wonderful, and it captures Miki's character really well, with both quick sprints of confidence and short moments of brief uncertainty, with an overall uplifting tone. Funnily enough, it has some parallels with a piece of music that I used for mood when designing my Miki early on: Early Morning May by Ronald Jenkees. While I don't think it fits exactly any more, there are certainly elements that do, and I think those are the ones which also appear in Plyometric Heart.
Feurox wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:56 am
TL;DR, I am in absoulte awe of this story.
Thank you very much for your kind words - I would hope you know just how joyful and emboldening it is to have someone truly enjoy your work. To hear that you find my story and characters believable and realistic gives me confidence in my writing - to hear that I helped inspire you gives me confidence in my decision to write. I'll do my best to continue to live up to your praise!
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Path of Least Resistance, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Oct 15th, 2018)

Post by Craftyatom » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:04 am

Well, then! This chapter only took 349 days, which is, uh... the second-slowest release of this whole story. Except that the slowest release was almost 3 times longer, so this is technically the fewest words per day (13.8) of any chapter in this story. On the plus side, I fleshed out a lot of the planning for the rest of Act 3. I’ve got a firm plan for the next 6 chapters now, which is a far cry from when I started this act. Will that translate into the next few releases being quicker? I couldn’t say - not only have I been working on a lot of one-shots recently (six since the previous chapter of this story, totaling almost 50 thousand words), I’m also back at university for the semester, which could either help or hurt my writing pace, depending.

I also have a proofreader now - Feurox - who helped me iron out some wrinkles in this chapter prior to release, for which I am forever grateful. It’s good to have a proper feedback loop on this stuff, as I’m always worried that releasing without having someone look it over (as I have done a few times in the past) will result in some horrible unforeseen plot hole or mischaracterization making its way into the story. But no more! Unfortunately, the two of us don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to an acceptable number of commas in a sentence... but nobody’s perfect. :P

Regardless, I hope you enjoy this new chapter - I’m happy to be following the plan I’ve put together, and I truly believe that I’ve got some great stuff set up for all of you who still enjoy reading this story after almost six years.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Path of Least Resistance, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Local Dawn (1/2)

Post by Craftyatom » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:04 am

>Local Dawn<
As I make my way across the school grounds, in amongst the small islands of light created by the pathway lamps, I let my mind wander, in an attempt to ignore my phantom pains.

I end up thinking about what Suzu said earlier, about me and Hisao. About how she thought it was ‘obvious’ that we were together. When did she know? How did she know? If the roles were reversed, would I have known?

I also remember something that occurred to me, while Suzu was teasing me about my these late-night visits to Hisao: that really, Hisao and I could do anything with this time. Memories of our date on Sunday fill my head, and in the back of my mind, I start wondering whether we could do more like that tonight.

Of course, regardless of how I feel, I probably shouldn’t push him about it. It’s the middle of the night, and I just woke him up, so maybe now isn’t the best time. He probably expects me to come in, talk with him a bit, and then leave and let him sleep.

I do think of something to talk about, though: maybe I can suggest another date, for when we actually get some more time to ourselves. Time when we're both fully awake, and not in pain - speaking of which, I clutch at my stump as I enter the boys’ dorm. The wave of icy pins and needles subsides after a bit, but I hurry up the stairs anyways, wanting to get to Hisao’s room before another hits.

Knocking quietly on his door, I remind myself, one last time, that I'm only here to talk, like I told Suzu yesterday. Talking to him is nice anyways, so it's not like I won't be having a good time.

He opens the door, then smiles, and I smile back. He looks a bit tired, but not incredibly so. I probably look about the same - my body knows it really shouldn’t be up this late, but I’m willing to ignore it.

He steps back from the doorway and gestures inside, with a bit of a flourish. Amused, I step into his room, which feels comfortably familiar - except for one object. In the moment before he closes the door, the light bleeding in from the hallway illuminates something eye-catchingly colorful on his bedside table. I’m about to investigate it, but stop when I feel his hand on my shoulder.

I turn around to face him, only to be caught by surprise when he presses his face against mine, catching me with a kiss. It takes me a second to realize what’s going on, but once I do, I close my eyes and join in. I wrap my arms weakly around the boy in front of me, and lean into him, as if exhausted. And yet, my core feels warm, and my lips feel like they could keep going forever. It’s a strange combination - being both tired and invigorated - but it’s also comfortable, like staying under the blankets even after waking up.

Before too long, however, Hisao pulls away, and I let go of him, though his hand remains on my shoulder. We look at each other, my eyes now pretty much adjusted to the darkness, and I can’t stop myself from grinning. “Thanks.”

He chuckles. “It was my pleasure.”

“No, really, thank you - I didn’t know whether that was something we, uh... something you were willing to do after being woken up in the middle of the night.”

He scoffs. “As if I’d say no!” He moves his hand up to my cheek. “You don’t have to be afraid, and neither do I.”

I have to laugh a little at his use of my phrase, corny as it may be. “Well, then, thank you for not being afraid.”

“Any time!” After a brief pause, he adds, “Besides, I wanted to see whether it might help with your pains.”

My... oh, right, my- “Ow!” I grab my stump, which is back to its dull ache. I completely forgot about that. After rubbing it a bit, I look up at Hisao again. “They’re not gone, but it definitely took my mind off them.”

“Well, if you want to take your mind off them again, just ask!” He winks, and I giggle, before he turns and walks over to sit on his bed.

Instead of joining him, though, I make a point of investigating the flash of color from before. Sure enough, there’s something unusual on his bedside table: a letter, written by someone with frilly handwriting. It’s difficult to tell in the darkness, but I could swear that it’s written in pink pen, only adding to the script’s flowery nature. Curious, I ask Hisao: “Hey, what’s this?”

He takes a moment to realize what I’m referring to. “Oh, that. It’s a letter from Iwanako, I just got it today.” He looks at his alarm clock. “I mean, yesterday, I guess.”

“Iwanako... She was the girl from your old school who confessed to you, right?” I think I’m remembering that correctly - the girl who caused Hisao’s first heart attack, and then left him in the hospital.

“Yeah, that’s her.”

Well now I’m even more curious. I instinctively reach out to pick up the letter, then stop myself. “Can I read it, or is it... personal?” Another question I’m pretty sure I know the answer to, but I still feel the need to ask.

Hisao seems a bit surprised at the notion that the letter might be ‘personal’. “Sure, go ahead.”

I pick it up and begin reading, not quite sure what to expect - what would a girl like that even write to Hisao about?
Dear Hisao,

How are you? I hope you are well and happy at your new school. Everyone here misses you. Almost all of our second-year class got put together in class 3-1 for the final year, so we are pretty comfortable right from the beginning of the year. I'm sure you would've been assigned to this class as well.

The mood among third-years seems to be very anxious about the final exams, even though they are so far away. The teachers are badgering us about it all the time - even old Mr. Tachibana who is, by the way, our homeroom teacher this year. Would you believe it? I was sure that he'd retire after our second year, but here he is, nagging everyone about studying for exams.

I think things like that are the main reason why the mood among the third-years is so nervous. I must admit that I'm somehow losing confidence in myself as well, even though I've always fared reasonably well in exams.

It's so weird to think that we are already seniors, isn't it? Time has really flown past. I wonder where it went. The new first-years seem so young and somehow really innocent. I keep wondering if I was like them in my first year. I've been feeling nostalgic like this for the whole first trimester.
Everything so far reads like a very one-sided attempt at smalltalk. How have you been, things are great here, so and so did this, classes are pretty much the same... it almost feels like she’s actively glossing over all the crazy stuff that happened between her and Hisao, and just writing the letter to nobody in particular. Convinced that there's no way she would send a whole letter’s worth of filler, I keep reading.
There are other things I want to say. I'm writing to you because I felt that there are things I should've said after the incident back in winter. I really regret that I wasn't able to say them in person, and I have no excuse for it.

The truth is, the times when I visited you at the hospital made me worried about you. I am not talking about your health. You seemed to become more and more distant and disheartened. It was natural after something like that happened, I'm sure, but somehow I got the feeling that you had given up on something back then. Happiness, maybe?
Now we’re into the important stuff. I know exactly what she’s talking about: when Hisao first arrived at Yamaku, there was something missing. He seemed like a shell of a boy: unresponsive and mechanical. But then, if Iwanako saw that happening to him, why didn’t she do anything about it?
I wanted to somehow express my feelings, but the right words didn't come to me. I couldn't say anything to comfort you. I am really sorry for not being able to support you when it mattered the most, even though I like you so much. At least now, finally, I can be more honest.

If I could go back to those quiet days in February and March, I'd tell you not to give up on yourself. That's what I would say. Maybe you wouldn't have drifted so far away if I had just said something. I hope you've managed to get back on your feet on your own.
I had gone into this letter thinking of Iwanako as an enemy, but her words are simply too sad and relatable. She wanted to help, just like I did. She tried to think of something, anything, to make things better - but she never managed it. And now, all she can do is hope that someone else did. With that thought, I feel a sense of pride: I’m the one who managed it. I almost want to talk to her, now, and tell her that it’s okay. I hope she hasn’t let all of this bother her, but I feel like she wouldn’t’ve sent a letter if that were the case.
Now that the distance between us is also physical, it also feels more final, somehow. I wonder if we will meet again. Perhaps it's for the best if we don't? Still, if you would like to correspond with me, by all means write me back. I'd very much like to hear about your new school and how you are doing. I wish you all the best.

Sincerely, Iwanako
I put the letter back on the nightstand, then sit down next to Hisao.

He looks at me curiously. “So, uh, what do you think?”

“I feel bad for her.” I consider taking more time to think about what to say, but realize that I kind of know already. “She knew something was wrong with you, but she never managed to do anything about it. Now she’s kicking herself for it.”

It takes a bit for Hisao to digest that idea. “I guess... I never really saw myself that way.”

“Oh, trust me, the boy she’s talking about in this letter is definitely the same one I met during his first week at Yamaku.”

He shrugs. “I’ll have to take your word for it, I suppose.” After thinking on it for a bit more, he adds, “So I’m guessing you think I should write her back?”

I scoff. “Of course! She’s afraid that you never got any better, and blames herself for it - obviously you should let her know that things turned out okay!”

“I’m worried she’ll take it the wrong way, though. If I tell her that things are going great now that I’m at a new school, with my new friends, in a new relationship... it might sound like I’m implying something about the old stuff. What if she starts thinking that it’s her fault I was having such a hard time?”

“Well then tell her that it wasn’t her fault! That’s the whole point, that’s the only reason she- ugh, here.” I reach over, grab the letter again, and find a particular sentence at the bottom. “Ahem: ‘I'd very much like to hear about your new school and how you are doing.’ Case closed.”

“Alright, alright, I get it, I’ll write back.” Satisfied that he understands, I put the letter back where I found it - as soon as I finish doing so, however, Hisao grabs me in a bear hug. “Thanks. I think I needed that.”

I wiggle a bit, trying to find a position where I can hug him back, and just about manage it. Even though he can’t see it in this position, I smirk. “Don’t thank me, I was only reading it to make sure she wasn’t trying anything funny.”

We laugh, and I feel Hisao’s chest bounce. Soon enough, though, it returns to calm, slow breaths - the kind of rhythm I could fall asleep to, speaking from experience. That sounds rather tempting right now, but I know that I really shouldn’t, so I try talking to keep myself awake, though we remain in our embrace.

“Do you miss your old life?”

There’s a pause as he thinks about it. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, Iwanako’s letter talked about your old school. And you mentioned thinking about new versus old stuff. I wondered if you were, you know, thinking about the way things used to be.”

“I mean, it crossed my mind, but not really in a nostalgic way. I haven’t really thought much about my old school since... well, probably since my first week at Yamaku.” I can practically hear him grinning as he speaks. “I guess I found something I like here.”

I giggle at the implication. “Come on, that’s way too corny.”

“No, really! Since coming here, I’ve been feeling a lot better, and my health has improved, and I’ve met so many amazing people - including you, of course. My life’s changed a lot in the past few months, but... I think it’s actually better now than it was before.”

He has a point. I know he’s grown a lot since I first met him, but maybe that’s also because of how much around him has changed. Maybe the thing he needed most from Yamaku was a fresh start. And if that’s what’s done him the most good... “I think that’s what you should tell Iwanako.”

He’s quiet for a moment. “To be honest, that’s exactly what I was worried about telling her. But maybe you’re right - maybe that’s what she wants to hear.”

“I think it is. Even if she still blamed herself, I think she’d be okay just knowing that it all worked out in the end. If you enjoy your life, and she enjoys her life, then why worry about the past?”

“That’s... That’s a good point.” He thinks for a moment, then chuckles. “Now the only problem is actually writing a letter that explains all this.”

“Come on, Science Boy, it can’t be that hard!”

“Writing letters isn’t a science thing! There’s no standard operating procedure, almost no guidelines, the objectives are ambiguous... but I guess I’ll just have to give it a go.” I didn’t expect him to be so worried about this part - then again, I guess this isn’t really his area of expertise. He sighs, then changes the subject a bit. “So what about you?”

This catches me by surprise. “Huh?”

“Do you miss your old life?”

I had completely forgotten that that’s where this started. I was also completely unprepared for having the question turned around on me. “I-I don’t really know. I mean, I definitely like it here. I guess I wouldn’t want to go back.”

“So you don’t really miss it?”

“Maybe. But my life before wasn’t bad - it’s just that I’m used to Yamaku now, and it would be a pain if everything changed. I like to have... not a routine, exactly, but a way of life. That way I can just kind of take everything one day at a time, and not really focus on the big picture.” Saying that, however, reminds me of the few big-picture thoughts I’ve had recently. “Well, mostly.”

“Mostly?”

“Yeah. Lately, I’ve kind of been thinking about us as maybe, you know, a ‘big picture’ kind of thing.” I feel a few butterflies begin to flit around my stomach, and do my best to defy them. “I mean, I really like... being with you. A lot. Sometimes, when we're together like this, I just want to stay with you..." I stop, knowing full well which word should come next.

Forever.

I find myself paralyzed by the thought. I want to tell him that he's my big picture, that I care about him more than I fear the Future, but the same nagging thoughts hold me back. We've only been dating a few weeks. We're just high school students. In less than a year, we won't even be at Yamaku.

As always seems to happen when stuff like this comes up, I feel way in over my head. What am I even doing?

While I'm getting lost in those thoughts, however, Hisao squeezes me tightly, and speaks a bit more quietly. "That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me. Thank you."

I feel like I should say something in return, but I can't really find the words. It would feel like a bit of a letdown to add anything, especially that I wasn’t even able to properly finish my sentence. Instead, I just squeeze him back, and try to focus on his warmth instead of my worrying thoughts.

After a bit, however, I notice my pains again, and remember Hisao’s offer from earlier. “Hey, uh, speaking of being together... You said you’d be willing to help me with my pains some more, right?” I feel my cheeks flush, and I can’t tell if it’s due to nervousness or anticipation.

He chuckles, then leans back a bit so we can look at each other. “Well, yeah, sure. I’d be happy to, uh... Yeah.”

He trails off, and I’m left not knowing what to do. Our eyes are locked, but I’m not sure if he’s supposed to make the next move, or if I’m supposed to say something, or... my stomach tightens up a bit. Nervousness or anticipation? I don’t know, I can’t tell - but the solution is the same.

I close my eyes, lean forward, and press my lips to his. The knot in my stomach comes undone, the tension in my muscles that I hadn’t even realized was there melts away, and the familiar comfort of being so close to him returns. He puts one hand around the back of my neck, his fingers gently sliding under my hair and across my skin, his soft touch making me even more comfortable. Just like before, I can't stop myself from wanting to hold onto this feeling forever - and this time, I feel just a little more confident in that thought.

As always, though, it has to end eventually, and for the second time tonight, Hisao pulls away, a smile on his face. “You’re tired, I can tell.”

I hadn’t even noticed it, but he’s right, I am feeling a bit drowsy. “I guess so.” Probably because it’s the middle of the night. Why was I even up this late? Right, pains. I notice them again, and they hurt again, but now I feel like I could probably fall asleep despite them. Hisao seems to have worked his magic once again.

“Well, don’t fall asleep yet, unless you want to dash back to your room in the morning like last time.”

I briefly consider that option; after all, last time wasn’t so bad. Well, except that I made Hisao sleep on the floor. Maybe I could sleep on the floor this time. Or maybe we could just share his bed. That thought alone is too embarrassing, so maybe not. “I guess you’re right, I should get going.” I lean forward and grab him in a goodbye hug, and feel him return the favor.

A few seconds pass, and I still don’t really want to go. This was supposed to make leaving easier, not harder. I sigh. “I wish I could memorize this feeling. It never feels the same when I try to remember it.”

“I know what you mean. Like you know how much you enjoyed it, but you can’t make yourself actually enjoy it again.”

I hum in agreement. “Like, imagine how much easier it would be to get through class like this!”

He pauses, then chuckles. “Okay, that one, I don’t understand.”

I groan. “Of course you don’t.” Finally, I manage to pull myself away and sit upright. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” It might be a while until we actually get a chance to be together like this again, but at least we’ll be able to talk and stuff. That’s better than nothing.

He gets a stupid grin. “You mean later today.”

I roll my eyes, though I find myself smiling. “Whatever, you know what I mean.” I look back at him, and he nods, but doesn’t say anything. Evidently, there’s not much more to talk about. It feels weird to just leave it at that, but I guess that’s what I have to do. I stand up, making sure I have my sweater, and head for the door.

As I reach for the door handle, I stop and look back at Hisao, who’s watching me from his bed. I feel like I should say something. ‘Goodbye’ feels bland. ‘Seeya’ is too casual. I’m going to miss him, but ‘I’ll miss you’ doesn’t feel right, since I’ll see him again in a few hours. But it reminds me of something similar, something I barely have to consider before saying.

“I love you.”

He smiles. “I love you too.”

With that, I open the door and leave, finding myself in an empty hallway. Feeling less alone than I thought I would, I begin the walk back to my room. It’s only once I get back outside that I realize I forgot to ask him about our next date. I guess that’ll just have to wait.

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Local Dawn (2/2)

Post by Craftyatom » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:04 am

The bell rings, and I get ready to head to lunch. It’ll be nice to just talk with Hisao and Suzu after sitting in class all morning.

It seems I’ll have to wait a bit longer, though, as Mutou’s voice follows the bell. “Nakai, Miura, see me for a minute.”

I sigh. It’s probably nothing bad, but having to stay after class always feels like a bit of a drag. I got my hopes up when the bell rang, and now they’ve been dashed. Or at least temporarily postponed.

As I get up, I feel something poke me from my left. I look over to see Suzu staring at me, a grin on her face. She wiggles her eyebrows a bit, then winks, clearly insinuating something about Hisao and I having to see the teacher after class. I roll my eyes, and she laughs before leaving to go get lunch. I envy her for that. Ah well, I'll only be a few minutes behind her. For now, I should just relax.

As I approach Mutou’s desk at the front of the room, I see that while I might be relaxed, Hisao isn’t quite - he seems a bit nervous, and his cheeks are slightly more pink. I’m not sure why, he of all people shouldn’t be worried about talking with the teacher, but know that I won’t get an answer from him until we’re done here, so I try to focus on what Mutou says.

“Since it’s only been a few days since the test, I’ve only been able to grade about half of the class’s papers so far. However, since I know that you two have been trying out peer tutoring, I graded yours first, so that I'd have a better idea of how it was going."

Without saying any more, he holds out two stapled sets of paper, one for each of us, and we take them. I find myself briefly worried about what mine will say, but dismiss that thought and turn it over to look at the front. Up at the top, in red pen, it says 87%.

It takes a moment for this to sink in. It's not like I haven't gotten grades like this before. But on a test like this, in a difficult subject that I didn't even care about until Hisao started studying with me? A month ago, I wouldn't have believed it. But thanks to Hisao's help and Suzu's insistence - even if I still don't understand why she was so insistent - I managed it.

I look up from the paper, and Mutou addresses us again. "I must admit, I'm pleasantly surprised. It certainly looks like you two have really come together and worked hard to improve.” I get the feeling that one of us has improved more than the other, but it was certainly a team effort. “Now, I’m not going to be on your backs about this, but I would strongly suggest continuing whatever tutoring regime you ended up using, given the results it created.”

Hisao nods. “Absolutely, sir, we’ve got a good routine. Suzu also joined us, so we formed a little study group.”

“Suzu... Ah, yes, Suzuki.” He thinks for a moment, then rifles through some papers on his desk, eventually finding the one he was looking for, and studying it for a moment before setting it back down in the pile it came from. “I thought as much - it seems her grades have improved as well. Whatever routine you’re using, it’s exceeded my expectations, certainly.” He smiles at us - an expression I’ve never seen him use before - and Hisao smiles back, and fidgets a little. I let myself smile too, finally getting past the surprise and enjoying the good news.

To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about Suzu’s grades. I knew she was worried about the test, but I just assumed she was getting worked up over nothing. Was she really doing badly before? Surely not, I would've noticed, or she would've told me, or something.

Then again, I haven't exactly been paying much attention to Suzu recently - yesterday was the first time in a while that we actually got to have a heart-to-heart. And I'm probably not the first person she would've gone to for help with school stuff... unless she went through me to ask for Hisao's help.

Uh oh.

I snap out of those thoughts just as Mutou’s face returns to its normal, blank expression. “Well, I won’t keep you two from your lunch any longer. Thank you for your time.”

Hisao gives him a bow. “Thank you for you advice, sir.”

I try to follow suit, but it feels kind of ingenuine, and I don’t really put much force into it. I settle for smiling and saying “Thank you”, which seems to be enough.

With that, Hisao and I leave, and find ourselves alone in the now-empty hallway, and I set aside what Mutou said about Suzu and let myself celebrate a little.

“Yessss!” I pump my fist in the air, and Hisao chuckles. Knowing that this is as much his victory as mine, I grab him in a hug. “Don’t forget, it’s thanks to you!”

He returns the hug, but disagrees. “Don’t give me too much credit, you’re the one who put in the effort. I just kept you on track.”

“Well, whatever. We did it together.” I pull away, and we smile at each other. It’s a nice moment, which continues for a few seconds, until Hisao blushes and looks around.

The hall is completely deserted, so nobody saw us, which seems to be a relief to him. “Misha was teasing me a bit about the two of us. Something about ‘what kind of trouble are you two lovebirds in now?’”

That explains why he was looking nervous earlier. “I guess that makes sense. She probably heard it from Emi.” I sigh, and think about how much it bothered me to have Suzu tease me - and she’s my best friend! Not to mention that Misha isn’t exactly known for her hushed voice, so everyone around probably heard, which would only make it more embarrassing. “Sorry you had to deal with that.”

He chuckles. “It’s fine. I’m just not used to it, I guess.” We start walking briskly towards the cafeteria, well aware that we’ve lost a few minutes of lunch time. As we do, however, Hisao smiles again. “It kind of reminds me of a story I read once.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. A couple who fall in love, but then find out that they’re not allowed to be together, so they pretend to have a huge public breakup and continue their relationship in secret.”

I smirk playfully. “I hope you’re not suggesting anything.”

This gets a laugh out of him. “Nah, that sounds like way too much work. I’d rather just have you.” To emphasize this, he puts one arm around my shoulders and squeezes me a little.

I smile, and use one arm to squeeze him back. “Me too.”

Previous: Uplink, Downlink ~ Next: Cockpit Resource Management
Last edited by Craftyatom on Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Path of Least Resistance, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
Old poetry: Google Drive Collection

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

Post by DackFayded » Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:55 am

So glad to see this getting continued! I really love your Miki, and I would be incredibly sad to see the same fate as so many other pseudo-routes befall this one. Keep up the good work!

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

Post by Feurox » Mon Sep 30, 2019 6:39 am

A wonderful continuation for this story, and I’m honoured to be your proofreader - even if proofreading for you mostly means suggesting things for you to ignore ;) (I jest, I jest, mostly).

As I mentioned during the editing of these story, things continue to move at a healthy and organic pace - and further cracks are bringing to show in what was starting to seem like a perfect life for Miki - Suzu seems to be in real trouble, and hopefully Miki will get down to business and try and fix things for the poor girl.

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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Oct 15th, 2018)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:03 am

Craftyatom wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:04 am
Well, then! This chapter only took 349 days, which is, uh... the second-slowest release of this whole story. Except that the slowest release was almost 3 times longer, so this is technically the fewest words per day (13.8) of any chapter in this story.
Well, despite the long wait I could still remember much about the story so far, which means it is one of the more memorable ones around here.
Also with a few other currently running stories that feature Miki in some role or other, this one is certainly a pretty unique take on her character which I appreciate a lot.
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 Sep 29th, 2019)

Post by SuzuSuzuki_bestgirl » Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:52 am

Hey crafty, posting a reply to let you know new readers (i.e me) are still finding this amazing fanfic. Love your depiction of Miki and even (very oddly for me), Hisao. Very excited to read the next eventual installment!

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

Post by Craftyatom » Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:10 am

I really need to start doing these more than once a year.

In fairness, I wrote a bunch of other KS stuff in the past year. About 32000 words, all of which you can find in my one-shot thread. But still, this is supposed to be my “main route”, and I haven’t been treating it as such. I’m still not entirely sure how far I want to take it, but I have at least 5 more scenes planned out, and I’d rather not wait until September 2025 to have released them. I’m not gonna promise anything, because you know as well as I do how that goes. Within a few months I’ll be finishing up my Bachelor’s and looking for a job, so my writing might take a nosedive when that happens. But we’ll see.

Unfortunately, despite the wait, this scene is not a particularly exciting one, imo - it’s much more expository and slice-of-lifey than I tend to do. I was surprised that it turned out to be this long, actually; originally, I wondered if I’d have to move some of the next scene into this one just to keep things interesting. Still, it covers multiple ongoing themes, starts some new ones, and does some setup for the next few scenes, so I’m certain it can stand on its own.
Feurox wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 6:39 am
A wonderful continuation for this story, and I’m honoured to be your proofreader - even if proofreading for you mostly means suggesting things for you to ignore ;) (I jest, I jest, mostly).
Thanks very much for your help, both on that last scene and this new one - having that little sanity check before everything goes live is a lifesaver!
DackFayded wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:55 am
So glad to see this getting continued!
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:03 am
Well, despite the long wait I could still remember much about the story so far, which means it is one of the more memorable ones around here.
Also with a few other currently running stories that feature Miki in some role or other, this one is certainly a pretty unique take on her character which I appreciate a lot.
SuzuSuzuki_bestgirl wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:52 am
Hey crafty, posting a reply to let you know new readers (i.e me) are still finding this amazing fanfic. Love your depiction of Miki and even (very oddly for me), Hisao. Very excited to read the next eventual installment!
Thank you all very much for your support! It means a lot to me that people still find this story interesting. With luck, I'll pay you all back for the kindness you've shown me!
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Path of Least Resistance, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Cockpit Resource Management (1/2)

Post by Craftyatom » Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:10 am

>Cockpit Resource Management<
The school grounds are pretty quiet at the moment - a few grey clouds have started rolling over, so nobody's risking lunch outdoors. Hisao and I were already running a bit late due to our talk with Mutou, but now we walk even faster, not wanting to get caught in the rain ourselves. It's kind of a shame; if we had more time, I'd talk to him about planning a date, since I completely forgot to bring it up last night.

I also really want to talk to Suzu. I'm not sure if she's going to be angry that I heard about her grades from Mutou, or whether she'll even be willing to talk about this kind of stuff with Hisao around. Then again, we're all study partners, so it's probably fine. And since she's clued in on our relationship, I guess I could talk to Hisao about a date even if she were listening. Maybe I can get everything cleared up before lunch is over.

As we arrive at the cafeteria and go to get food, I look across the tables at our usual spot, hoping to see Suzu - and I do, right where she usually sits. Strangely, however, there's someone I've never seen before sitting next to her.

Looking closer, it's a boy with short black hair, who's wearing the usual boys' uniform and a pair of sunglasses. I assume he's wearing them because he's blind - this is Yamaku, after all. It looks like he and Suzu are having a conversation, so I guess they know each other.

Having picked up his food, Hisao follows my line of sight, and notices the new boy too. "Hey, who's that with Suzu?"

"Dunno." I grab the last of my own lunch and begin to head over. "Only one way to find out."

As we make our way towards them, I try to recover my train of thought from before, something about... Right, asking Suzu about her grades, and Hisao about a date. Neither of which are things I want to bring up with some random boy around.

Well there go those plans.

Suzu catches sight of us and waves as we walk over to the table she's at, but the new boy doesn't seem to notice us until we sit down and I start talking, pretty much confirming that he's completely blind. "Hey Suzu. Who's the new guy?"

"Mmm." She finishes a bite of her lunch before responding. "Miki, Hisao, this is Rokuro."

The boy turns to face us, just about, and smiles. "Hey."

"He decided to try out the literature club, and came to yesterday's meeting. I saw him while I was getting lunch, and figured I'd invite him over." She grabs a piece of broccoli from her rather boring-looking lunch and pops it into her mouth.

The new guy - Rokuro, I probably shouldn't forget his name right away - nods. "Yeah, Suzu was great at the literature club, so I went and talked to her afterwards. She had some really interesting takes on the book they were reading." Suzu is clearly happy about the praise, but tries her best to pretend she didn't hear it. She's probably glad he can't see her reaction.

Suzu's never really talked about her role in the literature club, and I've never really asked, but I hadn't thought of her as one to lead the discussion. She's generally pretty quiet and laid back, both as a person and because of her narcolepsy, so the idea of her being at the center of a big debate or something is weird. Then again, maybe this guy just got the wrong idea.

Regardless, Hisao seems interested. "What did you think of the club?"

Rokuro's face lights up. "Oh man, it was great! I mean, I hadn't read the book, since it was my first time, but it was really cool to hear what everyone thought about it." He chuckles. "I don't really get to talk about books much with my classmates, as you might guess. The library has a lot of books in braille, and audiobooks, but I hadn't really met anyone else here who loves books. Heck, I didn't even know there was a literature club here until they came around doing their book drive thing."

Hisao thinks for a moment. "3-2... I met your class rep shortly after I transferred here, and she seemed pretty interested in braille books."

"Oh, Satou? Yeah, I guess so, but I don't know. She never really talks about what she's reading. Or at least, I've never heard her talking about it. Who knows what she reads... probably something really dry." He chuckles lightly, but it sounds kind of weird, like he's got something in his throat. "She's one of the reasons I never bothered joining a club, actually. The way she juggles schoolwork and the student council, it seemed like too much for me. Super rigid."

Hisao laughs in return. "Oh yeah, I had my fair share of experience with the student council in my first week here. Honestly, that's probably why I never joined a club either!" They laugh again.

"Well, do you like reading?"

"Oh yeah, a lot. I really started churning through books back in the hospital, and now it's kind of second nature." I'm a little surprised to hear Hisao talk so openly about his time in the hospital with a complete stranger - then again, he's been trying to be less defensive about it, so maybe this is a good step for him.

Rokuro gestures broadly, almost hitting Suzu in the head. "You should join the literature club, then!" Wait a minute-

"I thought about it, originally, but someone told me it was full. I ended up doing other stuff instead, I guess." Damn straight, he-

Suzu scoffs, and rolls her eyes. "Full, yeah right. Smallest club meeting room in the school, and it still feels empty sometimes."

The three of them chuckle, and I suddenly realize that I haven't spoken since I sat down. I feel like more of a spectator than anything else. Then again, this isn't exactly a conversation that I can be 'in' on - I don't know the first thing about books and literature and stuff. Luckily, the new guy throws me a bone.

"So, uh, Miku, are you in any clubs?"

I purse my lips, even though he can’t see it. "It's 'Miki'. But-"

"Agh!" He winces, as if in actual pain. "Sorry, sorry! I'm really bad with names!" Next to him, Suzu is desperately trying to keep herself from laughing. Did she not mention me to him by name, at least a bit? Is my name really that hard to remember? He taps his temple a couple times. "Miki, Miki, right, gotta keep that one in my head, Miki. Anyways, you were saying?"

"Uh..." Right, clubs. "Yeah, I'm on the track team." It sounds like such a lame response compared to the conversation they've been having, but what else am I supposed to say? I'm on the track team, that's it!

"Ooh, track. Do you do well?"

"Well, yeah, I guess I'm pretty fast."

Hisao jumps in. "She's one of our best runners! I went to their last meet, and they destroyed the other team."

Rokuro smiles. "Hey, that's cool! I don't really hear much about our sports teams - we don't have many runners in 3-2 either, if you can imagine." He does another one of those weird throaty chuckles, and the conversation quiets down.

As I pick at my lunch, Hisao and Rokuro continue to chat back and forth about some book series. Suzu doesn't really join in, but it doesn't look like she wants to - the new guy will occasionally prompt her, asking whether she's heard of a particular book or what she thinks of something, but she just gives quick answers and leaves it at that. This would probably be a great time to talk to her about her grades, if only-

"Oh, that reminds me, Miki." Hisao catches me off guard.

"Huh? What's up?" I haven't really been paying attention to their conversation, so he catches me off-guard.

"I started working on that letter, like we talked about, but it's really hard."

Letter... right, his reply to Iwanako. "Hard? Why?"

"I don't know, I'm just having a lot of trouble figuring out what to write. I was wondering if you could help me out."

"Me? What am I gonna do?"

"Well, I mean, you'd probably have a fresh perspective. You know, just having a second set of eyes on it might help, I guess."

Maybe he's right, but still, I can't see myself actually helping that much. Before I can say anything to that effect, though, Rokuro jumps in.

"What are you writing?"

"Oh, uh, just... just a letter to a friend I haven't seen in a while." I guess Hisao's not comfortable enough with this guy to go into the whole story with Iwanako. I don't blame him.

"Well, if you need help, Suzu's pretty good at writing."

I immediately look over at Suzu, whose eyes have gone wide. I've known her a long time, and she's never said anything about writing. "She is?"

Rokuro smiles. "Yeah, she read me some of her work, and it was pretty good!”

Suzu’s look of surprise evolves into one of betrayal, and then mild contempt, as she glares at the boy next to her, who is blissfully unaware of the daggers in her eyes. Eventually realizing that mean looks won’t get her anywhere, she sighs, and turns back to me. “I mean, I guess.” She shrugs. “It’s just part of literature. You know, reading, writing, same deal.”

“I don’t know,” Hisao joins in, “I read a lot, but I’ve never been any good at writing.” Rokuro nods in agreement from across the table. “So maybe you could help me out with this letter? I could really use some advice.”

Suzu exhales loudly. “Well, I can give it a shot, if you want to meet up after school.”

“Ah, shoot, I‘m supposed to see the Nurse after school today.” That’s interesting - I wonder if something’s up. I’ll have to ask him later. “How about tomorrow?”

Wait a minute... “Hey, I thought we were gonna start walking again tomorrow!” It’s bad enough that tomorrow would still only be the first time in a week.

“Oh, right. I almost forgot about that, it’s been a while. Yeah, I guess I’m busy tomorrow after school too.”

Rokuro seems interested, because of course he is. “Walking? What do you mean?”

Hisao starts to answer, which is just as well, because I don’t really want to. “Oh, it’s... Miki and I take walks around campus, just to get some fresh air. My heart’s not really strong enough for sports and stuff, so walking is good exercise, too.”

“Oh, okay. Makes sense.” Rokuro thinks about it for a bit. “So does Suzu usually go along too? I know you guys-” He’s cut off by Suzu bursting into laughter, leaving him confused as Hisao and I exchange glances. “What?”

Suzu seems to laugh even harder once he asks, but after a few seconds has calmed down enough to explain. “Walking is kind of their time together.”

“Oh.”

She rolls her eyes. “They’re a thing.”

“... Oh! Sorry, I, uh, I didn’t realize.”

Hisao chuckles nervously. “It’s fine, not like you would’ve known.” Thank goodness - I don’t think I could stand to be one of those couples that’s always flaunting their relationship in front of everyone. “Anyways, Suzu, how about Friday?”

“Yeah, Friday’s fine, I guess.”

“Cool. Do you want us to meet up in your room?”

Suzu thinks about this for a bit, but seems a little uncertain, so I add a suggestion. “Or we could do the library, if that’s-”

“Nah, my room’s probably best, let’s do that.” Guess she wasn't that uncertain after all.

Hisao nods. “Sounds good!”

I hum in agreement, then turn my attention to my lunch, wanting to finish it before the bell rings.

Hopefully it’ll be a chill meetup on Friday. I mean, we’ll be working on that letter, but we can just hang out for a bit too - after all that studying last week, we deserve a break. Plus, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to relax with Suzu.

And of course, I won’t turn down the chance to spend some more time with Hisao.

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Cockpit Resource Management (2/2)

Post by Craftyatom » Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:11 am

Well, homework still isn’t easy, but it certainly feels easier than before.

I guess that’s yet another benefit of those study sessions last week. Mutou excusing my old unfinished assignments definitely helped too - it’s a lot easier to motivate myself without that mountain of catch-up work weighing me down.

That’s only for one class, but for some reason it seems to have helped with the others. I’m not entirely sure why; it just feels more natural now. Maybe it’s something you can get into the habit of doing. Maybe it’s always been like this, and I just felt like it was worse. After all, it wasn’t too bad prior to Yamaku, right? Maybe that transition is what made it feel so difficult.

Regardless, some things never change: the moment a suitable distraction presents itself, I can’t help but break my focus and investigate it. This time, it’s my phone, which vibrates once to tell me I’ve got a new message. I grab it from the corner of my desk, see Hisao’s name, and flip it open.

<Hey, are you free right now?>

I guess he finished at the nurse’s office pretty early. <Yeah! Want to hang out?> I was sort of in the middle of homework, but I definitely don’t mind leaving that for later.

<Actually, Nurse said he wanted to see you.>

Well that’s a surprise. I drop by the nurse’s office every now and then, but it’s been a long time since he asked to see me specifically. <Oh. Now?>

<If it’s no trouble, sure. He said he wasn’t busy at the moment.>

Well, I guess there’s no reason not to. <Alright, I’ll pay him a visit.> It feels weird to end the conversation like that. <I’ll see you tomorrow?>

<See you then!>

I get up, stretch my legs, put on some shoes, and head out.

The air outside is nice, and helps me relax a bit after all that work. It also reminds me of walking with Hisao - which, hopefully, I’ll get to do tomorrow, after we had to skip last week. I don’t know why it feels like it’s been so long; it’s only been a week, and I think I’ve gotten to talk to him at least once a day since then anyways.

I suddenly feel a bit nervous, and pull out my phone, looking for a message I sent just a few minutes ago.

<Yeah! Want to hang out?>

I grimace, and quickly stuff my phone back into my pocket.

That was so clingy.

I spend all this time around Hisao - lunch in the cafeteria, studying in the library, walking in the afternoon, going out to eat on the weekends - and still, the moment he texts me to ask about something completely unrelated, I immediately ask if he wants to spend even more time with me.

Which, I mean, to be fair, I do want him to do. I definitely can’t pretend I don’t want to meet up and just talk or hang out or whatever. And he probably wouldn’t mind spending time with me, either - after all, he seems perfectly happy to have me over in the middle of the night, so I doubt he’d be that bothered about having me around for an afternoon. Still, he probably has stuff to do, like homework, or... well, whatever. It’s not like I have a monopoly on his time.

I think back to lunch today, and feeling excluded from the conversation. Am I just that used to having all of Hisao’s time to myself? Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him mention any other friends here at Yamaku. Well, he’s mentioned the guy who lives across the hall from him, but not in a good way. Maybe Rokuro would be a good friend for him? They seemed to get along pretty well. I still can’t say I feel happy about it - the guy just rubs me the wrong way - but at the same time, maybe I should leave them some room. I’m Hisao’s girlfriend, not his babysitter.

I try to put all of that out of mind as I arrive at the nurse’s office. I’m still not entirely sure why he’d want to see me, but I guess there’s only one way to find out. I’m about to swing the door open, but remember what happened the last time I was here, and knock instead. I hear the nurse call “Come in!” from the other side, and make my way through.

As expected, the room is empty, except for the nurse, who’s sitting at his desk, wearing that wide grin he always seems to have. “Wow, he really did get you here quickly!”

At first, I have no idea what he means. Who’s ‘he’? And what does ‘got me here’ mean? I walked here myself as soon as Hisao messaged me, why would...

Oh.

I can’t help but feel a little peeved. “Hey!”

The nurse laughs, and waves one hand at me dismissively. “I kid, I kid. Come on, have a seat.”

There are a few empty chairs in one corner of the room, but he’s gesturing to the patient bed, so I hoist myself up and sit on it, leaving my legs hanging off the side. I wonder whether he actually wants to check me out, but he quickly rules that out.

“Anyways, speaking of Nakai, I actually wanted to talk to you about him for a bit.”

Despite the nurse’s smile, I can’t help but feel uneasy. “Is something wrong?”

“No, no, he’s fine. Trust me, I had him in here a few minutes ago, and he was in good shape.” Well that’s a relief. “In fact, I was almost surprised at how well he was holding up without exercising - at which point he told me that he was exercising, and that you were the one holding him to a regime.”

So that’s why I’m here. I may not be Hisao’s babysitter, but I could manage being his personal trainer. “Oh, well, I guess so. I mean, I wouldn’t really call it a ‘regime’, we just go walking every now and then.”

The nurse nods. “I see. Do you have a schedule?”

“Sort of? We usually try to do Tuesday and Thursday at least. But last week, for example, we didn’t manage to get out at all, since there was a big test coming up.”

“As long as you can keep it up in the long term, taking breaks is perfectly fine - especially when it comes to academics. I’ve seen plenty of students make the mistake of never wanting to miss a day, trying to juggle everything at once, and letting their grades suffer as a result.” He sighs.

I wonder if he knows about the homework Mutou let me get away with because of the track meet; it certainly sounds like the kind of thing he’s talking about. Probably not, though - it’s not like teachers get together to talk about that stuff. I think. I hope?

“Anyways, besides sticking to it, the other important part of such a regime is being aware of Hisao’s condition.”

His normal smile becomes a more serious expression, and he looks at me rather intensely, as if studying my face. I gather that he’s expecting a reaction out of me, though I’m not really sure what kind. I decide to keep it simple. “Well, I do know a bit about his condition.”

“Good, good.” A piece of his smile returns. “What can you tell me about it?”

I can’t help but feel like I’m being put on the spot. “Well, uh, he has a heart problem.” I don’t trust myself to remember the word for it, so I decide to skirt around it. “His heart doesn’t beat quite right, like it’s, uh... out of time, sort of.”

I reflexively think back to the times I’ve listened to his heartbeat, including our last date, but am pulled back into the present by the nurse, who nods approvingly. “Anything else?”

“Let’s see... He was in hospital for a while, and had to have some heart surgery done.” Don’t mention how you know about the scar, that might make things weird. “He takes a lot of pills to help his heart.” Don’t mention how you know that one of their side effects is insomnia. “And he’s not very good at exercise, he gets out of breath quickly.” I remember a story he told me not long after we met, which makes me grin. “Apparently when he first came here he tried to go running with Emi? Not his brightest idea. He said it gave him a heart, uh... flutter, I think.”

The nurse chuckles, but not in a particularly happy way. “I really expected them to get along a bit better. Ah well.” Only after hearing his response do I remember Hisao mentioning that the nurse was the one who paired them up like that.

Whoops.

Before I can wonder whether apologizing would make things better or worse, he continues, his expression far less intense than before. “You know a lot about his condition - most of the important stuff, actually. I won’t bore you with any of the medical jargon behind it. That said, there are a few more things I’d like you to keep in mind for the future: in particular, what to do if his heart starts acting up.”

I think back to that night I ran into him on the school grounds. Not only was that definitely not the right thing to do, it’s also not something I should tell the nurse, so I decide to stay quiet and listen intently.

“First of all: always always always call for help. The fact that you kids all have cellphones now, and can just call 119 whenever you want, is an absolute godsend. Don’t worry about whether it might be a false alarm, or whether you should call someone else first, or whether it might cause a scene or something; call for an ambulance as soon as you can. The faster you call, the faster help arrives, and that can make a huge difference.”

It’s scary to think about, but I guess that also makes it fairly easy to remember. “Alright, got it. Then what?”

“Once you’ve given them all the details, and an ambulance is on the way, it’s worth looking for an AED. You’ve probably seen them dotted around the school - they’ve got the heart symbol with a lightning bolt through it.”

“Yeah, I walk past them a lot, but I, uh... I have no idea how they work.” I guess I’ve never really thought about them much.

“Don’t worry, they’re pretty easy-to-use, and come with instructions - the ones we have here will even read the instructions out to you. Basically, it comes with two pads, which you have to place on the patient’s bare chest, here and here.” He motions to two corners of his own chest. “The device listens to their heartbeat, and if necessary, it will shock them to try and fix it - generally, you have to make sure nobody’s touching them, then press a big red button to initiate the shock.”

As if calling for an ambulance didn’t sound scary enough, now we’re onto big red buttons and electrical shocks. “Okay... I think I can manage that.”

He waves one hand dismissively. “Like I said, they’re fairly straightforward to use, so don’t worry about having to remember all the details. There are plenty of stories about elementary school children using them, so I’m sure you’d have no problem.”

Well that’s something, at least. “Alright. What next?”

“Have you been trained in CPR?”

“No.” I feel surprisingly sheepish about that answer, more than I probably ever would have in the past.

“In that case, ask - loudly - whether anyone nearby has. If they haven’t, though, it’s best that you don’t try; you might make things worse if you did it wrong. That said, if you ever want to learn, Yamaku offers free first-aid courses that cover it.” Sensing that I’m already a bit overwhelmed, he adds, “But it’s up to you, don’t feel pressured.”

“Okay.” I’ll have to think this over later.

“Besides that, just keep him safe until the paramedics arrive, and they’ll take over.”

I nod, but still haven’t really been able to process everything, and the nurse notices.

“I know this all sounds kind of... serious. And it is. But I want to make it clear that although we spend a lot of time planning for these stressful situations, they’re an exception, really. What matters a lot more is how we take care of ourselves in our daily lives.” He pauses for a moment. “Have you ever seen Nakai get really out of breath?”

“Yeah, a couple times.”

“What did you do?”

That one takes a bit more thought. “I just kinda made sure he sat down and relaxed, got him out of the sun, that kind of thing.”

“Perfect. See, if you can recognize something like that, and deal with it quickly, then you’ll probably never have to call an ambulance. The best way to treat an injury is to prevent it happening in the first place.” He leans back in his chair. “That’s why I always say that Yamaku’s greatest asset isn’t its nursing team, but its students. We can’t possibly keep a close eye on everyone, but as long as you’re all looking out for each other, we don’t have to. It’s not uncommon for students to notice problems in their peers before we do - and if you catch it early, the fix is easy.” After zoning out for a moment, he looks back at me. “Sorry for rambling, but do you get what I’m saying?”

“Yeah, and... I agree.” After all, Hisao and I have helped each other with our conditions quite a lot by now.

His grin returns. “Good! Point being, I think you’re the best thing Hisao could’ve hoped for. In more ways than one, I hear.”

I don’t like that there’s an implication there. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, I won’t repeat gossip, but I gather that you two get along rather well.” Well duh, you just-

Oh.

Of course, Emi probably said something to the nurse about our relationship. Figures. “Ah, yeah. Is that, uh... something you need to know?” I don’t want to sound rude, but I really didn’t expect to be talking about that kind of stuff when I showed up here.

“No, not necessarily. It can come in handy, though.” His grin morphs into a smirk. “For example, now I know exactly who to hold hostage if I ever need to bring you in for a checkup.”

He laughs, and I laugh along with him, but I do find myself a little disturbed by the thought. Luckily, he heads back to his desk before I can think about it too much.

“Anyways, thank you for your time, have a good day, and don’t hesitate to come see me if you need anything!”

I hop down from the patient bed, and do my best to smile back. “Thanks!”

As I step out into the hallway, I’m tempted to try and forget some of the more serious issues we discussed. The thought of having to call an ambulance for Hisao, or hook him up to an AED, is a chilling one. Then again, maybe it’s an important thought to have, as a way of coming to terms with that possibility - even if, as the nurse said, it never actually ends up happening.

Hopefully it doesn’t keep me up all night in the process.

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Craftyatom
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Cockpit Resource Management (Medical Footnote)

Post by Craftyatom » Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:11 am

With that scene over, I wanted to mention one last thing regarding the nurse's advice. Based on the small amount of research I did, back in 2007 (when this story is set), medical consensus was that untrained bystanders should not attempt CPR, lest they exacerbate the victim's condition. However, around 2009/2010, consensus changed (thanks to some good retrospective studies on survival to discharge rates) to support the idea that untrained bystanders should be encouraged to perform compression-only CPR, generally with assistance from the emergency dispatcher they're in contact with. To be clear, in case you ever find yourself in such a situation and think back to this moment:

At time of writing, it is suggested that untrained bystanders perform hands-only CPR in emergency situations. As one medical professional was quoted by the BBC: "[P]eople who are untrained should have a go at doing chest compressions because something is better than nothing and they could be buying time for someone who desperately needs it."

I know it's not a huge deal, and some amount of artistic license is reasonable, but I found it significant enough to warrant this brief footnote. If I've done my job correctly, this won't spark debate, but please do let me know if you think I've made a mistake.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Path of Least Resistance, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
Old poetry: Google Drive Collection

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