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

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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Aug 29th)

Post by brythain » Sat Aug 29, 2015 5:04 am

I'm happy. Bad route or not. Will read carefully, have to start over again. 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.
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Aug 29th)

Post by timetravelzero » Sat Aug 29, 2015 5:30 am

Ouch.

Great ending, VERY happy with how you wrapped it up As fucked up as that sounds, I've always said that you can't appreciate the lighthearted moments without the darkness to compare them to. Looking forward to the Good Ending, and yes- I did wait around (mostly patiently) for the updates to come. No worries on timing, I understand better than most that good work takes more than a couple weeks or a month to come together.
Akira>Lilly=Shizune>Emi>Hanako>Mutou=Nurse>Saki>Misha=Rika>Yuuko>Meiko=Miki>Suzu>Kenji>Rin=Iwanako>Jigoro>Nomiya>{POWERGAP}>Hisao Eh, my opinion anyway

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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Aug 29th)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Aug 29, 2015 7:01 am

and a figure is stood outside
"is standing"
This is quickly becoming one of my pet peeves. ^^°

As bad endings go, this one wasn't too much so. :-)
Looking forward to the good one.
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Aug 29th)

Post by azumeow » Sat Aug 29, 2015 6:23 pm

The hype train has arrived at the station!

A good read, crafty! Hope the good end is just as good, if not better.
"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
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Aug 29th)

Post by Alpacalypse » Sun Aug 30, 2015 3:30 am

I never posted here before, apparently. Time to rectify this matter.

Okay, I'm gonna say this now, I always found this route the most appealing of the Miki routes for some reason. Maybe I just prefer the writing style and the fact that it isn't riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes *stares at Summer's Clover*.

Anyway, here's my thought process from when I checked the forums yesterday:

Holy shit, COM(promise) has an update! YAY!
Aw, but it's a bad end. Boo!
Holy shit, this bad end is actually really nicely written and now I have to re-read the whole story again while I wait for the next update. YAY!

Yeah, that was a good morning. Excellent work, Crafty! Hyped for the good end! :D
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Aug 29th)

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:06 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
and a figure is stood outside
"is standing"
This is quickly becoming one of my pet peeves. ^^°
I'm pretty sure the original is grammatically correct, but I agree that "is standing" flows better, so I changed it.
azumeow wrote:Hope the good end is just as good, if not better.
I hope so too, I'm really looking forward to getting it absolutely right.
Alpacalypse wrote:Holy shit, COM(promise) has an update! YAY!
timetravelzero wrote:I did wait around (mostly patiently) for the updates to come.
I guess I should say that I'm not sure when the next one comes out - preferably before 8 months pass, but again, no promises.

Anyways, thank you all so much for the kind words, I will be trying my best to get the next release out, and believe me when I say I much prefer writing the good stuff than the bad stuff, so the upcoming scenes will hopefully be the best yet.
Main route: COM(promise)
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Aug 29th)

Post by Hesmiyu » Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:15 pm

Craftyatom wrote:Anyways, thank you all so much for the kind words, I will be trying my best to get the next release out, and believe me when I say I much prefer writing the good stuff than the bad stuff, so the upcoming scenes will hopefully be the best yet.
Good stuff is always better :-) , but sometimes you have to do the bad stuff for the good stuff to have a higher and better effect :-).
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Re: COM(promise) - A Miki Route (Updated Aug 29th)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:06 am

So... hi. It's been a long time since I last updated. 669 days, to be exact. A lot has happened in that time, both on this forum and in my life. If you're a new reader, then welcome; if you were here the last time I updated, then all I can offer is an apology for taking so long.

At some point, a few months ago, I realized that I had been gone for a long time. That was mostly due to a job I took in September of 2015, and worked in for a full year; it was grueling, it took all my free time, and it made me strongly resent my coworkers (and the entire industry), hence my resignation from said job. I then spent a long time trying to get back into a university, and I'm making progress, but it has been slow, and I've been living slowly as a result. I'm actually just about to start classes at this new place, so there might be another hiatus on the horizon, but as always, I really just don't know.

Anyways, on to the story: since there may or may not be another hiatus of undetermined length coming up, and since I don't want to be torturing my beloved readers with a cliffhanger, I've made the decision to release the remainder of Act 2 in one large chunk, instead of scene-by-scene. That means you're getting 3 scenes in one release - not a bad deal! This will bring us to a nice clean stopping point... sort of. I know of a lot of places that I want this story to go, and I'd love to explore them all in Act 3: Protectors, but I can't guarantee anything, especially with so much of my future in question.

Before I do anything with Act 3, however, I want to go back and fix a number of things in Acts 1 and 2. The story has evolved over time: Suzu's narcolepsy was overblown in the beginning, I accidentally created some minor plot holes, and I'm much less beholden to Scissorlips' storyline than I originally envisaged, so there are a fair number of scenes that need some revamping. I've actually gone ahead and made one change in particular already - there was an entire portion of "Little Angels" that was just horrendous padding, and I've removed it so that new readers don't have to slog through it. Also, I've changed the act names - originally, the four acts were to be called "Sunrise", "High Noon", "Dusk in Their Eyes", and "Brilliant Night", but that was before Overwatch came out. Now I can't stop thinking "it's hiiiigh noon", so I've changed motifs. The acts will now be called "Commoners", "Adventurers", "Protectors", and... well, I have the name of Act 4 written down, but you'll have to wait and see. ;)

Anyways, as always, thank you very much for reading, feel free to leave any feedback you might have, and I hope you enjoy!
Last edited by Craftyatom on Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Weightlessness (1/4)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:07 am

>Weightlessness<
The afternoon is still somewhat young as Suzu, Hisao and I walk down the sloped road that leads from Yamaku to the sleepy town below. Luckily, it’s pretty quiet out here - most people probably stayed behind to watch the medal ceremony, including the final results of the meet, so the three of us are pretty much alone out here.

Suzu and Hisao are setting a pretty leisurely pace, especially given that we’re going downhill, but for once I don’t mind; my legs are already beginning to ache. Walking like this will help a little, but given the amount of running I’ve just done, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be sore for the next few days.

Strangely, not much has been said since we left the school. Suzu, walking on my left, looks drowsy, so I guess she’s not up for much conversation. Hisao is staring out at the town as he walks on my right, looking a bit like he’s daydreaming, so I guess he’s thinking rather than talking.

Just as that thought goes through my head, though, he remembers something and turns to me.

“Hey, Miki.”

“Yeah?”

“I remember you saying that you were only going to run in four races, but I thought I saw you running in the fifth one too.”

“Oh, yeah - one of the second-year teams was missing a member, so Kenta asked me to fill in for them.”

“Okay, makes sense. The girl handing off to you did look a bit young.”

“Yeah. They were nice, though.”

Hisao nods, then goes back to looking out into the distance.

The silence between the three of us persists until we get to the bottom of the hill and reach the edge of the town, at which point I realize that although I know I want food, I’m not really sure where to eat.

“So where do you guys want to get food?” I ask, looking over at Suzu. She shrugs, evidently not too worried about where to go, so I turn to Hisao.

He purses his lips in thought. “I’m not sure... The only place I’ve been to around here is the Shanghai.”

Suzu makes an unenthusiastic groan, and I agree. “The food there’s okay, but it would take forever, especially once the medal ceremony finishes and everyone else decides to get food there too.” I turn back to Suzu. “You okay with the Jiuquan?”

She shrugs again. “Sure.” Hisao doesn’t raise any objections, so we start walking into town.
Last edited by Craftyatom on Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Weightlessness (2/4)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:07 am

After just a few minutes, we arrive at the Jiuquan - a small Chinese restaurant, sandwiched between two larger shops. From the outside, it doesn’t even look like there’s enough room for people to sit, with only a counter visible from the small front window.

I wave to the woman behind the counter as we walk in - I’m not exactly a regular customer, but I’ve been here enough that I recognize the staff, including the short-haired lady who asks “What can I get you?”

My stomach has been grumbling since we left Yamaku, so I have no trouble deciding what to get. “A large chicken platter for me, please.” The waitress scribbles on a small notepad before turning to Hisao and Suzu, who are both looking up at the brightly-lit menus hanging from the ceiling.

Suzu makes up her mind next, ordering fried rice. Finally, after some deliberation, Hisao just asks for broccoli with some rice on the side. We’re told that our food will be ready in a few minutes, and that we should take a seat. Hisao is a bit confused by this, probably because there’s no obvious place to sit. Suzu and I, knowing better, start walking further into the restaurant, and after a moment of hesitation Hisao follows.

Making our way past the counter and around a small bend, we arrive in a thin room with a few small tables and chairs. They’re finished in shiny colors, and give off a clean, modern look - or rather, they would, if it weren’t for the cracks in the walls and the creaky wooden floor. It’s pretty obvious that the owners have tried to make things as nice as they can without altering the building itself. Still, it makes for a nice atmosphere, one which I’ve come to enjoy. It’s enhanced by how empty the place is - a grey-haired man, slumped over at a table near the back with a glass bottle on it, is the only other person here.

Suzu beelines for the nearest table, slumps down in a chair, and props her chin up with one hand. I sit down next to her, and Hisao sits across from me, the three of us now just waiting for our food. I wonder if this wait is going to be as quiet as the walk here was, but Hisao breaks the silence.

“So do you guys come here often? You seem to know the place pretty well.”

“We’ve been here a few times, it’s good for when you want good food but don’t want to wait too long.” To my left, Suzu nods, her head sinking a bit in the process. It’s true that the wait usually isn’t long here, but even so, she might be asleep by the time our food arrives.

After another brief bout of silence, Hisao speaks again. “I remember you saying that you were doing extra running in preparation for the track meet - now that it’s over, how often are you actually going to be practicing?”

“Well, my normal schedule before was practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I guess I’ll just go back to doing that.”

“So those are the only days you’ll be walking, right?”

I hadn’t really considered it, but I suppose that technically I only really need to be walking on those days. Well, actually, with no meet in the near future and fewer practices each week, I don’t even ‘need’ to be walking after practice at all, but... “I’m fine with walking on other days too, if you want.” It also comes to mind that cutting down on our routine might affect Hisao’s heart; I don’t know whether he’s improved much, but I doubt that cutting back on exercise will help.

“I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to mess up your schedule - we still have to fit in tutoring, and Mutou’s not going to let you miss homework now that the meet’s over.”

Before I can let the prospect of doing homework get me down, a surprised voice comes from my left. “What?”

I turn to look at Suzu, who’s staring apprehensively at Hisao and I. Hisao briefly considers saying something, but decides to stay quiet and stare sheepishly at the table, causing Suzu to focus on me. Sigh. Guess I’d better explain myself.

“Apparently Mutou decided to ignore my missing homework while I was practicing for the track meet.”

Suzu lets out an exasperated groan. “Of course he did. All these students with clubs and stuff, all this time trying to fit studying and homework in, and he just handed you a free pass.”

“Look, I didn’t ask him, he just did it. I didn’t even know it was happening until a week ago.” Suzu softens a bit. “If I could make him do it for you instead, I would, but I can’t.”

She sighs, then leans forwards onto the table, resting her chin on her crossed arms and staring straight ahead. “I wouldn’t want to take it from you, I just... I could do with some help too.”

Suzu’s words remind me that she’s not just scheduling her schoolwork around a club or hobby - she’s constantly having to schedule it around herself, too. Most people can count on staying awake for about as long as they need to, whether they’re in a lecture or doing homework. Suzu can’t, and as much as she hates admitting it or using it as an excuse, that puts her at a disadvantage. She can end up spending a lot of time trying to make up for it.

Thinking of it, I’m reminded of what Mutou said when he got Hisao to tutor me: that peer tutoring was good at fitting into a student’s schedule. I’m not really sure how it would work out, or what Suzu and Hisao think, but I’ll never know if I don’t ask.

“Say, do you want to join Hisao and me during tutoring sessions? It’s not exactly a free pass on homework, but it still helps a lot.”

Suzu looks back at me, her eyes much brighter. “Could I? I mean, I wouldn’t want to be a burden, if you guys work better as a pair then that’s fine too...”

I look at Hisao, who shrugs. “Three people is still a pretty small group, so I don’t think it would be a problem. Besides, this way you two can back each other up.”

I smile. “Alright then, it’s settled - Suzu, you want to meet up with us in the library tomorrow?”

“S-Sure, I’m free.”

“Hisao?”

“Yeah, tomorrow’s fine with me.”

“Perfect!” I lean back in my seat, stretch my arms, and close my eyes for a moment. I briefly wonder if we’re going to go back to an awkward silence, but when I open my eyes, the waitress is already carrying food to our table.
Last edited by Craftyatom on Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Weightlessness (3/4)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:07 am

After a few minutes, I’m almost done with my meal, but Suzu and Hisao have only gotten about halfway through their respective dishes. Unfortunately, it looks like Suzu isn’t going to be finishing hers anytime soon: her head begins to sink a bit, despite her best efforts. Eventually she decides to give in, and slowly pushes her food out of the way, then lays her head down on her arms. “Sorry, guys, looks like I’m out for a bit...”

I tap her gently on the shoulder with my stump. “Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere.”

Hisao chuckles. “To be honest, I kinda wish I could join you, I’m feeling pretty tired myself.”

Suzu doesn’t take much note of this, especially as her eyes are already beginning to close, but it causes something to click for me. Hisao seemed really quiet on the walk here, and it’s only now that I realize it’s probably because he was up late last night... with me. Sure, he said he was up anyways with insomnia, but I doubt that my visit made him get to sleep any earlier. And now he’s walking around tired.

I almost consider saying something about it, but then realize that there’s a reason neither of us have talked about last night yet: Suzu has been next to us the whole time, and we’re both sort of keeping secrets from her. Since her eyes are closed, I briefly consider trying to motion something to Hisao, but quickly decide that I probably couldn’t get much across. Hisao has already returned to eating, so I do the same.

As I eat, however, I notice Hisao looking over at Suzu now and then. At first, he glances over in quick saccades, but by the time I finish my food, he’s staring at her. I decide to investigate.

“What’s up?”

He jumps a little at my voice. “What?”

I point at Suzu and wink. “You seemed to be giving her some longing looks there.”

He blushes. “N-No, I was just wondering whether she was completely asleep.”

Sounds like we’re thinking the same thing. “You want to talk about last night, huh.”

Hisao seems a little anxious, but nods nonetheless. I turn to look at Suzu myself - not to see if she’s asleep, I’m pretty sure she’s well and truly out by now, but just to put her at the front of my mind. I don’t like keeping things from her, but here I am having an entire conversation that she can’t be allowed to catch a word of. I fight off a pang of guilt by telling myself that I’ll tell her about all of this someday - now that Hisao knows about my phantom pains and late-night running, I can’t possibly justify keeping Suzu in the dark for long. It might not be today or tomorrow, but I promise myself that I’ll tell her soon.

Come to think of it, Hisao has also been hiding his fair share of secrets. Suzu will have to know about all of that fairly soon too - I doubt she’ll let me dodge questions about him for long, so Hisao will have to spill the beans eventually. Either that, or I’ll have to beg his forgiveness for doing so myself.

For now, though, it’s just Hisao and I. “Anything in particular you wanted to talk about?”

“Yeah, I, uh... I guess I mostly wanted to thank you for telling me about your pains and stuff. I know that it’s difficult to open up about things like that, but I’m glad that you did. It made you a lot more, more...” He thinks for a moment, trying to come up with the right word. “More human.”

I’m not entirely sure what that’s supposed to mean, but I just smile and shrug. “It was no big deal. I owed you at least that much for the late-night heart flutter.”

He mulls this over for a bit, not quite seeming satisfied with my answer, but doesn’t end up saying anything, so I ask him a question instead.

“Speaking of last night, how exactly does your insomnia work?”

He rubs his chin in thought. “I don’t really know, to be honest... I only started noticing it here at Yamaku, so it hasn’t been going on for too long. I assume it’s caused by one of my meds, since more than half of them list ‘insomnia’ as a side effect, but I don’t really know for sure.”

“It’s not like that every night, is it?”

He shakes his head. “No, only sometimes, and it seems pretty random. It hasn’t been a huge issue, but even so, I should probably tell the nurse, when I get a chance.”

I nod, but catch myself wondering whether I really want him to - having someone else to talk to in the middle of the night has proven to be quite nice. I don’t want to rob Hisao of sleep, but still...

I decide not to dwell on it. Besides, his mention of the nurse has reminded me of something from earlier.

“Speaking of the nurse, how has your heart been doing? Is the walking helping?”

“Oh, yeah, I think it has. I’ve noticed that I’m out of breath a lot less now.”

“Awesome. If it’s working, then, shouldn’t we keep up with the walking schedule we’re on now?”

“Hmm...” He thinks about this for a bit. “I don’t think it’s a huge deal if we don’t do it every day, but you’re right, maybe we shouldn’t cut it all the way down to two days.”

“Well, how about on any days we’re not studying with Suzu? That way we don’t have to do too much in one day, but can still fit a lot in.”

“That would be great, if it’s not too much trouble for you...”

I smile. “Don’t worry about it. It’s nice to get some extra fresh air and talk for a bit, so I’m more than willing to make time.”

He smiles back, and it’s settled.

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Weightlessness (4/4)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:08 am

After some intermittent conversation between Hisao and me, Suzu woke up, finished as much of her food as she could, and then generously gifted me the remainders, which I scarfed down pretty quickly. We walked back to Yamaku together before heading to our separate rooms, at which point, my legs tired and my stomach full, I went straight to bed. And now I’m awake again - unfortunately, it’s the middle of the night, which can only mean one thing.

Sure enough, my absent left hand lets off steady, wrenching pain. On top of that, my legs are aching; of course, after the track meet yesterday, that’s a given. That alone makes the prospect of a late-night run unappealing. Thinking about the meet, however, reminds me of eating with Suzu and Hisao, which reminds me of an alternative.

I reach out with my right hand and fumble around for my phone. Finally touching it, and subsequently grabbing and opening it, I type out a quick message while grinding my stump into the bed beneath me. Luckily, Hisao’s name is still at the top of the “Recent Recipients” list, so sending the message to him takes no time at all.

<Hey, are you up?>

My phone happily lets me know that it has sent my message, and then I sit there and remember the downside to this method. It will take Hisao some time to reply, and in that time, I’m left alone with my thoughts, and more importantly, my pains. What if he doesn’t reply at all? How long should I wait before giving up? Or should I send another message in case he missed the first one? How long should I wait before doing that?

In the time it takes me to start worrying about these things, Hisao has typed his own message, and my phone buzzes excitedly.

<I am now. Phantom pains?>

<Yeah.>

Another long pause, though this time without worrying about whether Hisao’s awake or not.

<Well, if you want to talk a bit to take your mind off them, you can come over.>

Perfect.

<Thanks, be right there.>

I toss on my sweater and shoes, then start making my way outside.

Hopefully I can talk to Hisao for a bit until my pains die down, then come back and sleep. And if that doesn’t work, I can always run for a bit once I leave.

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

Doing my best not to make too much noise, I knock on Hisao’s door by slapping my palm against it, instead of my knuckles. It makes a much softer ‘thump’, but shortly afterwards I hear Hisao stirring inside, and then the door is open.

Hisao motions me into his room, where the lights are already on. I walk in and sit down on his bed, and just like last time, he sits down to my right. He looks pretty tired, and I’m wondering if he’s really up for a late-night conversation, but he sighs and starts talking.

“I’m a little worried, you know.”

“Huh?”

“I worry about you running in the middle of the night.”

Well, that’s... unexpected, but also not completely surprising. “What about it worries you?”

He looks at me strangely, as if I’ve missed something obvious, but softens up a bit before speaking. “I worry that you’ll get caught. Do you know what the school would do if it caught you?”

Although I’ve thought about it a bit, I don’t really know, partly because there isn’t really a good way of finding out. “No.”

“Oh.” He fidgets a bit. “Well... neither do I. But it can’t be good - if they figure out that you’ve been doing this for so long, they might even expel you!”

“No, they wouldn’t go that far.” After saying that, though, I’m forced to amend it with “... probably.”

“But is it worth the risk? Is it really worth the chance that Suzu and I will never see you again?”

I’ll admit that it sounds pretty bad when he puts it that way. Sigh. “Well, fine, even so, what do you want me to do about it? I can’t just lay awake all night in pain.”

“Well... You can always come here to talk. Hell, if you told Suzu, she’d...” He pauses. “Actually, you probably couldn’t wake her up at this hour, huh.”

I shake my head. “Nope.”

“Okay, so you can’t go to Suzu. But seriously, you can always come here, my room’s completely open to you.”

I chuckle a little, and Hisao raises an eyebrow. “A few weeks ago, I’m pretty sure the idea of your room being ‘open’ was a foreign concept.”

He grimaces, then nods. “Yeah. Sorry again about all that.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s in the past.” This doesn’t seem to comfort Hisao much, but I decide not to dwell on it. “Anyways, if you’re willing to go to the trouble of having me here, then I guess I’m willing to give it a shot.”

“Really?”

I do my best to smile reassuringly. “Yeah - if my late-night running bothers you that much, then I’ll try to stop.”

It takes him a bit, but Hisao finally settles on “Okay.” With that, however, he’s out of things to say, and silence descends upon us.

This reminds me that, despite his invitation and good intentions, Hisao is tired. He was up last night with insomnia, but he said that I woke him up tonight - I actually missed that when I was reading his texts, but realized it on the way over. If that’s the case, though, then it’s easy to see why he might not be talkative. He's clearly pretty fatigued; his eyes are half-closed, his hair is messy, and of course, he’s still quiet.

While I’m preoccupied with Hisao, my phantom pains sneak up on me, and a few stray itches and tingles quickly ramp up into burning pain. I lurch forward, doubling over, then grab onto my stump with my right hand, trying to stifle the sensation. This, combined with a small grunt through gritted teeth, quickly grabs Hisao’s attention.

My eyes are clenched shut, but I can hear Hisao’s voice waver as he asks “Are you okay?”

I just about get a feel for the pain, and decide to take this opportunity to calm Hisao. I reach out my right hand to wave him off, and manage to get out “It’s fine, just give me-”

At this point, the burning seems to feed back on itself, and my whole body clenches. My mouth opens, but my brain retains just enough control to keep me from releasing the scream I can feel bottled in my lungs, scratching at my throat. I focus on driving every muscle I can into exhaustion, the dull aches in my legs now just simple memories of happy times past.

After a few moments like this, things begin to clear. My muscles relax, my lungs start breathing again, and the burning in my left hand drops down to a low buzzing. I slowly come back to my senses, sitting back up and opening my eyes. My right hand, oddly enough, feels strange now.

I look over to see it grabbing Hisao’s shoulder, presumably where it landed after the heavy wave of pain. Stranger still, though, is Hisao’s hand, placed on top of my own. Before I can think too much about it, though, Hisao sees that I’m feeling better, blushes, and removes his hand, leaving mine to slide off of his arm.

I take a deep breath, trying to forget what just happened, and to ignore the thin layer of sweat left on me. I let my torso fall backwards onto Hisao’s bed as I exhale, my head bouncing for a bit before coming to a rest. Hisao looks at me worriedly, but once he sees that I’m doing so out of exhaustion and not pain, his look softens.

“That was... pretty bad, huh.”

I try to nod, but it doesn’t do much in this position. “Yeah.”

“Is it like that every time? It didn’t seem that bad last night.”

I sigh. “It’s not always that bad, it’s just kind of random. After that, though, I don’t think it’ll flare up for the rest of the night.”

“Flare up...” He thinks for a moment. “But it still hurts now?”

Well, I was trying my best to ignore it, but there’s definitely still some light pin pricks and dull buzzing. “Yeah, a bit.”

Hisao is quiet for a bit, presumably taking everything in. I use this time to appreciate his bed. It’s pretty much the same as mine, but right now I care more about location than quality, and Hisao’s bed is right here. I could almost close my eyes and drift off... Probably best that I don’t, though.

“So... Miki.”

“Hmm?”

“Can I... Can I see it?”

I’m not really sure what he means, so I sit up and give him a questioning look. “‘It’?”

“Your, uh, your...” He makes some strange motions to his left wrist with his right hand as he tries to find the right words, and just as I realize what he means, he settles on “Under your bandages.”

“My stump.” He’s a bit uncomfortable with the word, but nods. Well, it’s a bit of a strange request, I’ll give him that. “It’s really not anything interesting, just an arm without a hand.”

“I know, but... Seeing you in so much pain, and the idea that it’s all connected to one part of you, it made me curious.” He then hurriedly adds “But if you don’t want to, that’s okay too, I’m just wondering.”

“No, it’s fine, I guess. Just gimme a sec.” I shift my seating a bit, then untuck and unravel the bandage around my wrist, giving way to the smooth skin underneath, which seems so far removed from the dull pain it’s currently associated with. I hold it up for Hisao to see, doing my best not to twitch at the occasional twinge of pain. I’m not sure what exactly Hisao expects to see, but I doubt he’ll be surprised.

Sure enough, his face is emotionless as he moves his eyes in small saccades, scanning my left wrist. After looking it over, and evidently seeing all he’s going to see, he reaches out towards my stump, but stops just short of actually making contact.

“Can I touch it?”

I was under the impression that he was going to, and didn’t think too much of it, but it somehow seems stranger now that he’s spoken it aloud. Still, I quickly decide that there’s nothing wrong with it. He’s just curious, after all - this is probably what makes him such a quick learner, or something like that. Besides, maybe it’ll help take my mind off the pain. “Sure.”

He slowly moves his hand just a bit closer, until his fingertips lightly brush against me. It’s an odd, kind of tickling sensation, but it’s not bad, just kind of weird. I close my eyes as he moves his hands a bit, feeling across the rounded end of my arm. He seems to mostly just be tracing out the shape, confirming what his eyes told him - that is, until he gets closer to my wrist.

He stops moving as he reaches the thin, almost invisible scar left by the stitches after the actual amputation. After staying still for what seems like quite a while, he gently yet firmly presses his fingers into it, getting a better feel for the small dent in the skin.

Strangely, it feels like he isn’t just blindly feeling along the scar - he knows where it should be. He even manages to find the tiny dots nearby where stitches once held purchase, a long time ago. It makes me wonder how he knows so much - does he have a scar of his own, or just general medical knowledge? Maybe someone in his family has something similar? I’ll have to ask him at some point, when he’s done.

After sizing up my stump and feeling around the scar for a bit, he lets go. I keep my eyes closed for just a moment, but in that time, I notice my pains again. They were there the whole time, but I managed to ignore them, for a short while - I guess Hisao really did manage to take my mind off of things.

I open my eyes, return my left arm to its resting position at my side, and stuff my unraveled bandage into my pocket - I’m not going to spend the time putting it back on now.

I look over at Hisao to see him looking at me. “Thanks.”

“No problem - having something to focus on helped block out the pain for a bit.”

His eyes light up for a moment, though that enthusiasm is quickly recaptured by drooping eyelids. “Oh - so it helped?”

“Well, it didn’t stop the pain, but it certainly took my mind off of it. So yeah, I’d say it helped.” The dull throbbing to my left reminds me that any respite was only temporary, but still.

Actually, I’m almost tempted to ask Hisao to try again, just to keep the pain at bay. I also want to ask him how he knows so much about scars. But Hisao is seriously running on empty, and I don’t really want to keep him up any longer. I guess this will have to do.

I get up and zip my sweater back up. “You should get some rest.”

“Will you be able to?”

Good question. There’s still some pain there, but a lot less than before - that horrible wave of pain from before seems to have been the worst of it. “Yeah, I think I’ll be okay.”

“Okay.” I turn around, put up the hood of my sweater, and begin to head for the door when Hisao stops me. “Miki?”

I turn back around to face him. “Hmm?”

“Just... Just to put me at ease, will you promise not to do this whole midnight running stunt again?” I shuffle a bit, uneasily. “You don’t have to come here, but don’t put yourself in danger, okay?” Don’t have to- Wait, no, it’s nice coming here instead, I’m- “You’re not invincible, remember?”

That manages to get a chuckle out of me, and Hisao smiles as well. “Alright, Hisao. I promise.”

“Thank you, Miki.” I nod, then turn to leave, and Hisao calls after me. “Good night.”

“Night!” I say over my shoulder as I open the door. I do Hisao the courtesy of flipping the lightswitch as I leave, then slowly close his door, so that it doesn’t make a sound. The last thing I need is to run into the guy across the hall again.

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

Lying in bed, I can feel myself on the edge of sleep, but... not quite. Some lingering pins and needles dance around my stump, keeping my brain from shutting down. I know from experience that I can’t do much about it, and at this point, I’m too tired to try. Until, that is, I have an interesting thought.

Back in Hisao’s room, he managed to take my mind off of my pains. If I could do that again, just for a bit, it might let me get to sleep. I slowly move my hand over to my stump, then grab hold of it.

Okay, no, too tight. I let go, then try to be gentler. After only just making contact with my fingertips, I move them slowly, rubbing the skin slightly - now it itches. Scratch that.

Clearly I’m doing something wrong here. I close my eyes and try to remember how Hisao did it. Gently, yes, and slowly; I can distinctly remember these things. He started further back, then kind of worked forward, his fingers around-

Suddenly, my stomach feels a bit uneasy, and I open my eyes. After a few seconds staring at my empty room, I realize that it’s just butterflies, as the feeling moves up and into my chest. Before I can consider the sensation any further, though, my eyelids grow heavy, and I gladly give up being awake.

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Last edited by Craftyatom on Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Coelliptic (1/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:08 am

>Coelliptic<
Hisao is tired.

To be fair, the majority of the class looks half-asleep. I’m pretty tired too, but that’s not surprising, given the track meet yesterday and then my phantom pains last night. Despite my fatigue, though, I feel fantastic - some underclassmen recognized me on my way to class after seeing me at the meet, which has pretty much made my day. So now I’m sitting here, nonchalantly listening to today’s lesson, and noticing that Hisao is tired.

His eyelids are drooping, and he’s resting his chin on one hand, trying desperately to keep himself focused. He’s a good student, and probably hasn’t even considered sleeping during class - admirable, but also clearly very taxing. I doubt he’s going to get much out of today’s lesson; then again, he has a knack for picking this stuff up, and will probably learn it all from the textbook shortly after getting a good night’s rest.

I hope he does get a good night’s rest. The past two nights, he’s been up late into the night - once because of insomnia, once because I wanted someone to pass the time with. It still sounds so selfish, waking him up like that for my own good. I still think I should be out running instead. But he said he wanted it this way, and I promised I’d play along... I just hope he knew what he was getting into. I should really ask him about it sometime, sooner rather than later, before he gets fed up with me.

That said, I much prefer our late-night talks to going out running. I spent a long time thinking that my running in the dark was fun, but looking back on it, I think that’s just because it was the only way to combat my pains. Now, it seems so tiring, so bothersome... Or at least, I think so. It’s difficult to tell, given that this all happens when I’m supposed to be sleeping. Also available for consideration, of course, is how Hisao managed to take my mind off of my pains last night - that alone probably makes seeing him the better option. Or is that selfish too?

Before I can ponder that too much, the bell rings, and everyone starts heading to lunch. Suzu and I linger just long enough for Hisao to pull himself together and walk over to us, and then we all head to the cafeteria. Much like yesterday, we’re all pretty tired and thus not very talkative - Suzu and I talk a little bit, but Hisao is completely silent as we get food and sit down at our usual table. I briefly consider saying something about how tired he looks, but decide that, with Suzu here, it would probably just force him into coming up with an excuse.

Suzu finishes a mouthful of her lunch and looks over at Hisao. “You okay, Hisao? You look pretty tired.” I guess he’ll need that excuse anyways.

He chuckles. “Yeah, I was up a bit late last night, that’s all.” That was pretty smooth, actually. I had expected him to be much more nervous about all this.

“Ah, oh well.” Suzu goes back to eating, accepting Hisao’s explanation at face value. I think back to yesterday, when I told myself that Hisao and I would have to explain ourselves to Suzu sooner rather than later - until we do, conversations like this one will just keep happening, I guess. But I wouldn’t want to have that kind of conversation here - too many people around. I’d rather it just be the three of us. Also, if possible, I’d rather that Hisao be properly awake, which brings me back to wanting to talk to him about things we can’t talk about with Suzu around.

Of course, I don’t have to talk to him in person; I could just text him! Not now, it would be pretty obvious if we started texting each other, but I can wait until after class. Then I’ll send him a message, talk to him about keeping him up at night, and we can get this all sorted out. Confident that I at least have a plan, I finish the rest of my lunch without worrying.

Suzu finishes not long after me, and looks at Hisao again. “So Hisao, are you still up for tutoring us today?”

Hisao raises his eyebrows a bit. Maybe he forgot - I certainly did. He quickly nods, though. “Yeah, of course.”

“Okay, I just didn’t want to drag you into it if you don’t feel up to it.”

Again Hisao is quick to allay her concerns. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” He yawns. “Miki, you’re still up for it, right?”

“Yeah, absolutely.” I wonder if he thinks I’m tired, too - after all, I was up just as late as him last night. I’ve got more practice than him, though, so it’s not a huge surprise that I’m faring better.

Suzu smiles. “Alright! Looking forward to it.”

I make a mental note that I’ll have to wait until after we finish studying to text Hisao. Shouldn’t be a big deal, though.

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

Hisao looks at his watch, his brow furrowed. Then, after a few seconds, he looks up at Suzu and me, though Suzu is still copying something down in her notebook.

“Hey, do you guys mind if I leave a bit early? I think we’ve covered a good amount, and I have some stuff I’d like to get done.”

I shrug. “I don’t mind, I think I’ve got the hang of this. Suzu?” She looks up, then shrugs as well.

Hisao closes his textbook and begins picking everything of his up off the table. “Alright, thanks. I’ll see you guys tomorrow!”

Suzu and I both mutter “Seeya”, then slowly begin to gather our books together. Unfortunately, it’s not until Hisao’s almost out of the library that something occurs to me: Hisao might be trying to get to bed early. He might be trying to catch up on his sleep, or even worse, he might be expecting me to wake him up again tonight. The idea of him changing his schedule around to accommodate my phantom pains is worrying, to say the least. Furthermore, this throws my plans to text him out the window - ironically, me asking whether I’m causing him undue fatigue might do just that.

Oh well. I turn to Suzu. “So what did you think?”

“Hmm? Oh, the tutoring. It was actually really nice, being able to have some of the material re-explained.”

“So you’ll keep doing it?”

She nods as we both get up, having packed our things. “Yeah, I think I will, if you and Hisao don’t mind.”

“Of course we don’t mind, it was awesome having you.” I drape my left arm across her shoulders as we walk out of the library. “Say, I need to go pick up some medals from the office, you want to come along?”

She shrugs, to the extent that she can with my arm in the way. “Sure, may as well.”

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Coelliptic (2/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:09 am

It’s common knowledge among runners that the worst aches come 2 days after exercise, and today is no exception - I can feel the stiffness in my legs, left over from the track meet on Sunday, even as I finally bring myself to a stop. I’ve decided to finish a little earlier today, but not just because of my legs - I also really need to talk to Hisao. I’ve been needing to have a one-on-one conversation with him since yesterday morning, and finally, as he approaches and we start walking, I get my chance.

“Hisao, I have to ask you something.”

“Hmm?”

“Yesterday, you looked really tired all day.”

“Well... I guess I was pretty tired, yeah.”

“That’s my fault, isn’t it?”

He looks confused for a moment, then realizes what I mean. “Oh, with the whole...” He sighs. “Technically, yes, you were the reason I was tired. But it’s no big deal, really. I’m perfectly fine missing a bit of sleep to stay up with you if you want to talk.”

Well, there’s that confirmed, though I guess I never really doubted it. “I appreciate it, really, but you don’t have to go to that level for my sake. I don’t want to be dragging you down.”

“Miki.” His voice is serious, stern, and as I turn to face him, his eyes only reinforce that tone. “I said I’d be willing to help you whenever I could, and I meant it. I know that it means being up late sometimes, and I’m willing to deal with the consequences.” His face softens slightly. “Please don’t think you have to hurt yourself for my sake.”

“But then why should you?”

“Because you’re my friend, Miki, and I want to help you!”

I smile reassuringly. “You already do! You tutor me, and you walk with me, and you hang out and talk with us at lunch... You’re my friend too, Hisao. You don’t owe me anything.”

“Yes, but... I just...” He struggles to find words for a second before suddenly looking somber. “Comparing my tiredness to your pains isn’t quite right.”

I raise an eyebrow, skeptical but interested. “How so?”

“Yesterday, when I was tired and having to sit through class, it was kind of rough. But the whole time, I was never really that bothered.” He looks up at the clear blue afternoon sky above us. “Whenever I felt bad, I told myself that I was doing this for a reason - a good cause. Being able to say that I was enduring, that I was fighting the fatigue - I felt strong.” He clenches a fist in emphasis. “Yeah, it was a pain, but it was worthwhile. To be able to say that I was helping you, protecting you... it made me feel important.” He turns back to me. “Do you understand?”

“I...” I’ll admit, that sounded a bit weird, especially towards the end. Do I understand? I’m not sure that I do... Until, that is, I realize something. “I actually know exactly what you’re talking about.”

He’s surprised, but remains silent, waiting for me to continue.

“Suzu and I have been through a lot together. We’ve known each other pretty much since I came to Yamaku. And, from the very beginning, I’ve been looking out for her. Usually, it’s little stuff, like staying with her when she naps someplace. But I can remember having phantom pains, and getting as far as her door before realizing that I didn’t want to disturb her. Instead, I toughed it out, eventually with the whole running thing. I told myself that I was doing it for her - I was ‘protecting’ her.” I chuckle. “Actually, to tell the truth, I kind of felt the same way about you when you first showed up here.”

“Huh.” He thinks on that for a moment. “Well, that could be a good thing. Maybe we can protect each other.” Before I can reply, though, he quickly adds “But that still means you should text me when you get late-night pains.”

I laugh. “Alright, alright, I will, promise. But the second you need help, you had better let me return the favor.”

This causes him to laugh as well. “It’s a deal, then.”

We walk quietly for a little while - personally, it feels nice to have gotten the worries of the past day or so off my chest.

“So Miki...”

“Yeah?”

“If you were worried about me being tired yesterday, why didn’t you say anything?”

“Well, I couldn’t really bring it up with Suzu around.”

“True... But then, you could’ve texted me.”

Funny, that’s pretty much the same line of reasoning I followed. “I considered it, but when you said you were leaving tutoring early, I thought you might’ve been trying to get some extra sleep, and didn’t want to disturb you.”

“Oh, that. No, I actually just wanted to look around for some good walking paths that we could use on days when you weren’t running.”

Huh. “I hadn’t actually considered that, I thought we’d just meet up here, but I guess a change of scenery could be nice.”

“Well, if you’re up for it, I found a pretty good route around the outer edge of the school. We could try it out tomorrow, if you want.”

I nod. “Sounds like a plan!”

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Coelliptic (3/3)

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:09 am

Just as planned, Hisao and I met up after school, and we started walking this new route. It was interesting, especially the small loop around the back of the school, which I didn’t even know existed - then again, I guess I had never really looked. Finally, we ended up behind the admin building, and Hisao suggested we stop and sit under a large tree next to the pathway. So now we’re sitting here cloudwatching, the leaves above us rustling gently in the breeze.

One thing I realized halfway through our walk was how quiet it was out here. There really isn’t much of a reason for students to come this way, which means it’s just the two of us for now. Even if someone else came past, they’d probably just be looking for somewhere quiet to go. It’s a fantastic place to just relax; I close my eyes and do just that.

Before long, however, I hear Hisao’s voice to my right. “Hey, Miki?”

“Hmm?”

“Can I tell you something?”

“Sure, go ahead.” I open my eyes and turn to face him, slightly intrigued. The way he phrased that makes it sound important. I’m not really sure what it could be, but that alone makes it worth listening to.

“When I got here, to Yamaku, I was pretty down about the whole situation. And you helped me out, which I’m really thankful for. But the more you did for me, and the more I talked to you, the more I thought of you as perfect. Infallible.”

I smile. “Invincible.”

He chuckles at the word. “Exactly. When I said that, I meant it - everything you did seemed to turn out so well, without you even trying. I really believed that you were just overall better than me, better than most people.”

I’d consider that a bit unhealthy if I didn’t already know what was coming next.

“Then, when I found out that it was you who ran into me, and you told me how scared you were, and how bad you felt about it, everything changed. I replayed it in my mind, over and over, and instead of a ghostly figure, it was you - and you were afraid, afraid because of a mistake you made. It finally made me think of you as... as a human.”

He looks up at the sky, resting his head against the tree trunk behind us. “But as much as it changed how I thought about you, it changed how I thought about myself as well. Before, I was almost hiding in your shadow, living a boring life far removed from the likes of yours. But learning that you had pain, and fear, and imperfections, just like me, showed me how similar we were. I had seen the good in you, but assumed that I could never come anywhere close. Suddenly, I realized that we were on the same level, and that all of the things I had seen in you were in me too.”

He turns his head back to face me. “We’re equals. I mean, we’re obviously pretty different, but overall, we’re the same. And so I’ll worry about you sometimes, just like you worry about me sometimes. And I’ll help you whenever I can, just like you help me whenever you can. And I’ll always be honest with you, just like you are with me. And...” He takes a deep breath. “And honestly, I would love to go on a date with you sometime.”

Hold up.

My mind is very quickly hoisted out of its relaxed state and tossed into mild panic. What happened? Hisao asked me out. Was it a joke? No, he looks pretty serious. What now? He looks like he’s expecting me to say something. Okay, then I should say something.

“I...” I don’t know what to say. Alright, think, what should I say? Probably yes or no. Which one? I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it at all. Hisao asked me out?

I stop myself. “Just, uh... Just give me a moment to think this over, okay?”

“Sure, take your time.” Hisao leans his head back against the tree again, putting his hands behind his neck as he watches the clouds go by.

I take a few deep breaths, stare straight ahead, and try to calm my thoughts a little. Let’s start over. Hisao asked me on a date. That’s a romantic thing. That’s how you start a relationship. A relationship? There’s something else I haven’t thought about at all. Should I be getting into a relationship? How does that affect the future? I have no idea, I haven’t thought about the future in a long time. Do I have to do that first? Has Hisao done that? Does he think about us being together in the future, as... lovers? Is that it - he loves me?

That certainly seems right; it would explain him asking me on a date. Well, then, the answer should be simple: do I love him, too? I don’t know. I can’t say that I’ve ever thought that I ‘loved’ him, romantically. But then, when I reverse the question, I can’t say that I don’t love him. He’s kind, and smart, and patient - shouldn’t I? He’s put so much effort into helping me, and accepts the help I’ve given him - doesn’t that mean a lot?

I don’t have all the answers. But maybe, with the help of the boy sitting next to me, I can find them. “Okay.”

Hisao turns back to me. “Okay?”

I smile, and it feels reassuring. “I’ll go.”

His eyes light up, and for a few seconds he can’t find any words. Finally, he smiles as well. “Thank you.”

Previous: Weightlessness ~ Next: Rendezvous
Last edited by Craftyatom on Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots
Old poetry: Google Drive Collection

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