Yuletide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story (Updated Dec 19)

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Helbereth
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Yuletide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story (Updated Dec 19)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:29 pm

Firstly, Merry Christmas Katawa Shoujo boards!

Last year, I gave myself a very small amount of time to try and write a holiday novella. Turns out it wasn't enough time. This year, I'm finally finishing this thing, even if doing so kills me. It probably won't, especially since it's almost done, but I'll not discount any possibilities.

Many of you may recall this, so I won't front-load the revamped introductory message with meaningless preamble or statements about expectations for the story. There are no doubt several new forum members - lurkers or otherwise - who haven't read this before, so I will mention that this tale, while it doesn't focus on them at all, does mention characters from outside the basic universe of Katawa Shoujo. Most are recognizable, and many have been thoroughly mentioned in other fan fictions, though the remainder are part of my own extended universe, Tomorrow's Doom, and you might not know them.

If not, I suggest reading Tomorrow's Doom (link in my signature)... it should only take you a couple weeks, but I'm told it's a solid read.

To all I bid you welcome, and thank you for your attention. Please feel free to leave any comments you'd like to provide, as I always read them and often respond; I'm a conscientious author. That seems like enough meaningless blather, so I'll just let you all get started reading.


Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Chapter 1: The Merriment Project
(Part 1)(Part 2)
Chapter 2: The Dirty Denigration System
(Part 1)(Part 2)
Chapter 3: Trickster Toady Scapegoat Scribe
(Part 1)(Part 2)
Chapter 4: Lies, Blame, and Bolognese
(Part 1)(Part 2)
Chapter 5: Diary of a Wallflower
(Part 1)(Part 2)
Chapter 6: A Midwinter Day's Nightmare
(Part1)(Part 2)


Originally this line contained pertinent text, but, in the interest of being obtuse, it was removed in favor of this meaningless blather.
Last edited by Helbereth on Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:17 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Helbereth
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Chapter 1: The Merriment Project (Part 1)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:29 pm

Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7
________________________________________________________________
Chapter 1: The Merriment Project

The holiday season was in full swing, and that meant snow, biting cold, strained relationships, and more than a little excessive drinking. Only some of those things were true around Yamaku Academy—maybe more than Hanako thought—but she wasn't complaining on that brisk Wednesday afternoon. In the spirit of the season, she donned her big, puffy black winter coat and an aptly named holiday hat—green felt with fluffy white fringe and a big white ball on the end—and set out across the campus carrying an impressive stack of gifts. Christmas Day wouldn't arrive for another week, but the holidays wait for no one—least of all a Hakamichi.

Despite their somewhat standoffish relationship, Shizune had started trusting Hanako with numerous tasks—at least ever since she and Lilly had reconciled—which had most recently included wrapping the Secret Santa gifts turned in by their fellow students. There were several still hidden in her dorm room for safekeeping, but the students setting up for the stage for the holiday play had requested a few packages so they could define the layout, and Hanako was eager to get away from her laptop. Writing the holiday play for room three-three was starting to wear on her, mostly because she'd been blocked and completely out of ideas for the past week. Luckily, Shizune remained unaware of that little hiccup, or Hanako might not have been allowed to enjoy a nice wintry walk away from her laptop.

Making her way along the winding paths, only recently cleared after the previous night's snowfall, Hanako listed to her side as she walked against the steady chill breeze. Using her knee as a brace, she tried balancing the tower of packages, but that just sent her stumbling toward a patch of black ice. Giving up on trying to prevent the inevitable, she let go of the stack and dropped to her knees, slamming her eyes closed as the lovingly-wrapped boxes scattered across the cement walkway. Nothing in them being breakable, she didn't bother worrying about damage to anything except her pride; she could already hear some familiar snickering.

“Wahaha~!” Misha laughed as Hanako's shoulders slumped. Seeing that reaction, the pink-haired girl slapped a mitten-covered hand over her mouth and apologized, “Sorry, Hana-chan, d'you need a hand~?”

Still resting on the cold walkway, Hanako reached up to adjust her hat, lifting it just enough to uncover her eyes, and turned to shake her head. “N-no thanks, M-Misha... I just lost my b-balance,” she mumbled, springing back to her feet and dusting off her knees. Noticing that Misha's conjoined twin seemed to have gone missing, Hanako inquired, “Where's S-Shizune?”

“Back there,” she replied, pointing over her shoulder toward the girls' dorm, “Probably still arguing with Lilly over refreshments... C'mon, I've only got a few boxes to carry~!” she held up her little stack of packages, “Lemme take a few of yours~!”

Imagining Lilly and Shizune trying to argue using deaf-blind signing made Hanako smirk derisively, which Misha took as an invitation to assist with the packages. In the months since joining the newspaper club, largely because Hanako often acted as the emissary between Natsume and the Student Council, she and Misha had become friends, so the offer wasn't unexpected. Figuring it would probably be easier to accept her help than try to argue or explain, Hanako let bubbly Misha take some of the burden, and they soon continued along their way into the main school building.

After reaching the auditorium without further incident, they found half the student body was already there—or about fifty of them, at least. As expected, they were all buzzing about, decorating the room for the holiday play, setting up concession stands, and generally making a lot of noise. When the two girls stepped in carrying stacks of wrapped presents, a hundred eyes seemed to turn and watch them pass, and Hanako silently thanked the boxes she was carrying for providing a barrier against their scrutiny. She knew they were probably wondering about the gifts more than her presence, but irrational fears aren't rational.

Misha, bombastic and cheerful as always, laughed loudly, “Wahaha~!” then aimed a curious eye toward the stage and called out, “Hicchan~! I thought you said you were too busy today~?”

“Misha?” he called back, sounding a little anxious; he often got roped into helping the Student Council even though he had never actually joined. Looking up, Hanako quirked an eyebrow at seeing Emi resting atop his shoulders, but just shook her head as Hisao added, “I thought you were working in the Council Room today?”

“We were~! She still is—well, kinda, but not really~!” Misha replied, the bustle of the auditorium restarting as she started bounding down the aisle. Giggling as she went, she cheered, “Yay, Emi~! You got the Grinch to come help~!”

“He's not a Grinch!” Emi balked, wobbling a little on her shoulder-perch, “He just needed proper... motivation!”

Evidently Hisao had told Misha he would be unavailable, but considering he was there holding a box of glass ornaments with Emi sitting on his shoulders, Hanako presumed his girlfriend had convinced him otherwise—she didn't want to know how. Smiling softly, and deciding not to eavesdrop further, Hanako trailed at a more leisurely pace, mostly keeping her head down and concentrated on not tripping over something—or someone. Upon reaching the stage, she hefted the gift stack up next to Misha's pile and, instead of leaping up onto the raised stage like the pink-haired girl had done, she walked over to the stairs.

By the time Hanako reached the stage, Misha had already wandered off somewhere, which left just Hisao, Emi and a few others milling about behind the tree. Guessing that she might as well do the courteous thing, Hanako lifted her hand and offered Hisao a mitten-covered wave, which garnered a smile and a greeting, “Hello, Hanako. How's the script coming?”

Before Hanako could reply, Emi waved from atop her perch and beamed, “Heya, Hanako! You look festive—I love your hat~!”

Their greetings put a smile on Hanako's face, but she still felt a little nervous, especially having half the school in the room behind her. She felt like every last one of them was staring at her behind, and hoped—perhaps naively—that it was mostly because of the Christmas trees embroidered on her jean pockets; she knew from behind she cut quite the silhouette.

“Th-thank you, Emi,” she replied, managing a courteous bow that probably wasn't necessary, and made her cringe when she thought about all those eyes. “Hello, Hisao,” she added, shrugging slightly as she answered his question, “It's... a w-work in p-progress...”

“Your secret's safe with me,” he assured her, glancing up at Emi to whisper, “Don't tell Shizune!”

“Like I'd tell her anything!” Emi balked, slapping his shoulder abruptly then turning to grin at Hanako. “Like my step-ladder?” she joked, flicking Hisao's perpetual cow-lick, “He works cheap—runs on kisses~!”

Shaking his head slightly, the cow-licked boy glanced up at her and sighed, “That's why I keep taking us under the mistletoe—I need more fuel!”

At hearing that, Emi ducked down and kissed his forehead, then sat back up with a girlish giggle and cheered, “Onward, steed! We have a tree to decorate~!”

Reaching up to rub the patch of lip gloss off his forehead, Hisao grumbled, “I'm not your horsey!”

“I really like riding you, though!” she remarked, smirking suggestively as he turned them away, “Seeya 'round, Hanako~!”

Watching them go back to the tree, Hanako shook her head and shrugged. For a while she had entertained the idea of getting to know Hisao more closely—beyond friendship—but he had already gravitated toward the little runner girl by that point, and they just seemed to fit together—so to speak. Still, even if romance wasn't an option, she considered Hisao her friend; they shared a love of reading, and often traded books. Besides that, the holidays were hardly a time for jealousy, and she felt content having made friends with Natsume and Naomi, and Emi was okay, too—though preferably in small doses.

When she first started writing for the school paper, the Emi and Hisao relationship provided a wellspring of material for Hanako's burgeoning gossip column. Writing little relationship speculation pieces wasn't exactly fulfilling in a creative sense, but it allowed her to flex her journalistic muscles. Having ghost-like status around the school really helped when it came to pursuing those kinds of stories; people rarely think to check for phantoms before running their mouth, or acting in a less than savory manner. That had led to a number of juicy stories that slowly built her readership.

The real kicker came later, when her story detailing the infamous lemon shed incident cinched her column's readership school-wide—even omitting most of the witnessed details, and without using names—so, speaking optimistically, romantic loss had brought professional gain. Sometimes she couldn't quite convince herself of that, especially late at night while she was alone in her room, but there was little she could do about it now that Hisao and Emi were practically married; any relationship of Emi's that lasted more than an afternoon or two would probably last forever—her friendship with the reclusive Rin proved that.

In the interim, Hanako was hardly looking for any kind romantic entanglements; she had barely started figuring out friendships, and she doubted anyone around the school looked at her that way, anyway. So, with that thought in mind, she slowly turned her Christmas-tree-covered behind away, and started walking back across the stage. However, before she could even get close to the stairs, a pink blur suddenly appeared at her side, caught her by the elbow, and abruptly turned her back around; Hanako still hadn't quite figured out how to predict Misha's erratic movements—they seemed truly random.

“Hey, you came here to work, right~?” Misha boomed, the volume making Hanako flinch—the acoustics on stage made her voice even louder. “Right~!” she answered her own question—still with ear-piercing loudness—then held up a beckoning hand and added, “C'mon, our class is on decoration duty—we could use those dexterous digits~!”

Setting aside Misha's likely accidental alliteration, Hanako took a moment to think. The tradition around the holidays at Yamaku was for the whole school to put together a holiday festival, and the graduating class would also put on holiday-themed plays. Each classroom was responsible for its own costumes and staging, and Hanako had been entrusted with developing the script for her class, which was waiting back at her dorm on her laptop—completely stalled. Thus far, it had been fun to write, and she liked flexing her creativity writing fiction, but she also missed helping with the decorations. That's why she volunteered to help with the Secret Santa packages in the first place: it made her feel a little more involved in a communal sense.

Considering that, being given the opportunity to make hand-crafted ornaments was an offer she could hardly refuse, so, nodding gleefully, she replied, “O-okay... I could use a b-break, anyway...”

Agreement secured, Misha let out a cheerful, “Wahaha~!” and turned to lead her backstage.

The dim, narrow hallway running behind the main stage served as storage area, and a small workstation was set up amidst the various remnants of previous productions. Cramped into that small area, a half dozen of her classmates sat working with glass baubles, ribbons, construction paper, and all sorts of glue and glitter. Hanako had to try really hard not to grin like an idiot at seeing their determined smiles, holiday hats, and the colorful decorations on which they were working; it was all so festive. A few glanced up to watch the two girls approach, but, being too engrossed in their work, none bothered saying anything.

However, Misha broke the silence almost immediately. “There's paper, hooks, ribbon, streamers, glitter...!” she lilted, pointing out the various resources, “All kinds of... stuff~! Go nuts—make whatever you want, Hana-chan~!”

Turning to watch as Misha started walking away, Hanako asked, “Y-you're not helping?”

“Shicchan has me supervising~! Of all things...!” she replied, shrugging noncommittally, “Though I think she just wants me to help keep spirits up~! The loudest voices bring the most cheer, I think, right~? Right~!”

Deciding not to argue, if only because Misha did that well enough on her own, Hanako simply nodded and watched her leave; it was good to see her wielding some autonomy on the Council in any case, regardless of the reasons. With Misha gone, though, she turned back to inspect the group and sighed inwardly. She had come a long way toward being more social, even managing a few friends outside of Lilly, Naomi and Natsume—one of which had just exited stage left. However, even though all six of the students in front of her were quite familiar with her, and she had known most of them for years—mostly indirectly—she felt nervous sitting down with them, even in an nonthreatening holiday setting.

On the far end sat Miura and Suzuki, tied at the hip like always, both trying to muddle their way through constructing ornaments out of glass baubles, ribbons, and tape—lots of tape. Miura still operated as though she had both hands at times, which resulted in a lot of accidental hand slips; the shattered remnants from a few some glass baubles proved as much. Meanwhile, Suzuki didn't look like she was in any condition to focus on anything more complicated than a television set—the holiday rush effected some more than others. They were both smiling, though, which could easily have been from fatigue, but Hanako decided to think of it as holiday cheer.
Last edited by Helbereth on Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:18 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Chapter 1: The Merriment Project (Part 2)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:29 pm

A little closer sat Maeda and Valeth, both seeming to have equal skill at piecing together snowflakes out of construction paper and glitter—that is to say, none at all. The evidence of their failed attempts lay scattered all over the floor, in their hair, and probably in a few places best left unmentioned, and looked more like confetti than anything else. She didn't know either of them particularly well, except that she sometimes saw Valeth in the library—he was in the book club—but watching them made her wonder whether either should be allowed to wield scissors. Still, they were trying, and, around the holidays, that's all that really mattered.

Closest to her, and perhaps the least familiar of the bunch, sat Arai and Kapur, who seemed like an odd pair, but were often seen together outside of class. Rumors of their being involved romantically had become part of Yamaku lore, but all assumptions about their being a couple remained hearsay; it was almost on the level of a certain formerly twice shy couple from room three-one. If they opened up to her, maybe she could get another fluff piece for her gossip column—a cute little love story just in time for the holidays. Realizing she might be stepping into a golden opportunity, Hanako decided to sit down next to the odd couple.

As Hanako got herself situated, Kapur greeted her cheerily, “Hi, Hanako!” Her soft voice and penchant for skipping formality left Hanako with a crooked smirk. “Got roped into this too, huh?” she speculated, casting a glance toward the rest of the group, “Don't worry, we all got suckered into this—it's all in good fun, right gang?”

A chorus of noncommittal groans followed, along with a series of synchronized shrugs. Kapur rolled her eyes and shrugged along with them as she conceded, “Okay, this kinda sucks,” she then raised a cheerful fist in the air, “but it'll be worth it in the end!”

“Can it, Missy Mnemonic!” Miura groaned, setting down her unfinished ornament as she leaned toward Hanako, “So, did Misha trick you into this, or were you really that bored?”

“U-um, w-well... trick me?” Hanako sputtered, her nervousness bringing out more of the stutter that she had been trying to repress, “N-not exactly... I-I was w-working on... the script, a-and-”

Letting out a hearty laugh, Arai interjected, “Boor-iiing...! Cooped up in front of a computer monitor for umpteen hours? You must have cabin fever—no wonder you're here... not that we're bothered! The more the merrier, I say!”

The fact that he was right made Hanako smile, but the bombastic way in which he spoke made her cringe a little. “S-something like that...” she mumbled, turning her eyes toward the craft supplies, “I needed to g-get away for a w-while, I guess... c-clear my head.”

“Well, you're welcome to stay,” Kapur said with a hopeful smile. “These two idiots might as well just burn the snowflakes they're working on,” she remarked flippantly, pointing at Valeth and Maeda who both shrugged in agreement, “and Snoozu keeps falling asleep on the glue sticks...”

“I heard that!” Suzuki protested, glaring at the dainty Indian girl as she grabbed her friend's shoulder and groggily added, “Miki, engage battle plan alpha!”

Raising an eyebrow at her sleepy friend, Miura asked, “Which one is alpha again?”

“B-ten, C-four, D-eight!” came the hazy reply, followed by a raised fist and a sleepy cry, “The Bharatiya Nausena dogs are attacking! All hands to battle stations! Cry havoc...! And...” The rest of her declaration came out as a garbled, incoherent groan—something akin to a snore, but much more dramatic.

“Don't mind her, she didn't sleep last night,” Kapur stated, rolling her eyes as she turned back to Hanako, “Apparently she was staying up to see Santa... a week early, no less...”

“That old fat-ass owes me a new lamp!” Suzuki balked, slumping back against the wall as she grumbled a few unintelligible expletives.

Everyone, even Hanako, started laughing at that—well, except Suzuki, who simply glowered at the floor. Although she felt a little bad for Suzuki's plight, her being the object of attention helped Hanako relax as they continued their work making holiday decorations. The conversation from there went on to less pertinent matters—mostly complaints about all the extra schoolwork their teachers had been handing out—and Hanako made use of the slight lull to keep an eye on Arai and Kapur. Based on their constant bickering and mutual name-calling, it seemed like they functioned as an old married couple might, but that was no different from how anyone else in the group acted, so she probably needed to observe them alone.

That wasn't likely to happen anytime soon, though, so Hanako just focused on her handicrafts and kept her ears perked toward the discussion—just in case something interesting came to light. By then most of the group was talking about past holidays, family, upcoming visits, and other cheerful fare, some of which left Hanako feeling a little dejected. Still, she refused to let a little thing like being an orphan get in the way of enjoying the holiday spirit, or getting her story. Their tales of past holidays actually brightened her mood in some respects; reliving happier days, even if it was only vicariously, made her smile.

After a while, Misha returned from her rounds with another box of crafting materials—mostly salvage from previous holiday events—and decided to abandon her morale-boosting duties so she could join in constructing handicrafts for the tree. The presence of Misha brought a renewed fervor—or volume at least—to the conversation, but shattered any illusions Hanako might have had about getting a story from Kapur and Arai. However, all she had really learned so far was that Arai was willing to bloody his fingertips trying to build a popcorn garland, and Kapur had a very methodical approach to weaving evergreen wreaths, so Hanako didn't consider it much of a loss.

Sometime later, a lull in the conversation brought Hanako's curious eyes up to peek at the group, if only to make sure they hadn't left. Maeda noticed her glance, then immediately turned back down to focus on the snowflake he was steadily destroying. The partially deaf boy—which she assumed was the case based on knowing he had tinnitus—had barely said a few words, and had seemed even more uncomfortable than herself, ever since she arrived. She figured it had something to do with there being unexpected additions to their group—except for Misha, they were all friends with each other—though she wondered if he also might have a problem with her or Misha in particular.

That's why she was somewhat surprised when Maeda tapped Arai's shoulder and suggested, “Hey Taro, tell the Santa story.”

Miura immediately slapped his shoulder and scolded, “Dammit, Tin-Tin, why would you go and ask him that? You know it always makes me cry, and I hate crying!”

Rubbing his wounded arm, Maeda replied, “Well, I don't think Hanako or Misha have heard it...”

“I wanna hear~!” Misha cheered, clapping her hands together, “I love stories that'll make me cry~!”

“Anyone surprised by that?” Suzuki questioned sardonically.

Directing a sour pout at Suzuki, Kapur interjected, “Quiet, Miss Long-Distance Sendai, nobody asked you!”

“C'mon, it's just a stupid story,” Arai stated with a shrug, “It's not like it's anything special...”

Surprisingly, Valeth was the calm voice of reason suggesting, “How about we stop bickering and ask if our other guest would like to hear the tale?”

“Yeah!” Kapur agreed, turning toward Hanako with a slight shrug, “Whaddya say Hanako? You feel like crying?”

The simple fact that the story in question had caused so much contention almost made her want to refuse; Hanako never wanted to cause undue friction. On the other hand, part of the reason she had sat down was to learn more about Kapur and Arai, so hearing a story from one of them would probably help that along. Besides, the thought of hard-nosed Miura crying for any reason sounded intriguing. At the very least, hearing a cry-inducing tale involving Santa might help with the block on her holiday script, so, after a brief moment of consideration, she started nodding.

“U-um... I'd like to hear it,” she said, turning toward Arai, “I-if you don't mind, um... Taro?” Using his first name wasn't how she was accustomed to addressing him, but she thought it might clear up the melancholy frown he'd been displaying since Maeda brought up the subject—which it did.

Shrugging, Arai finally smiled and let out a little sigh before tentatively inquiring, “Well... if you all really wanna hear it?” To that everyone nodded—even Miura, although she was keeping her arms folded indignantly—but Arai still seemed unwilling, taking an extra long moment, and probably hoping someone would protest.

Finally, Valeth gave an inviting wave of his hand and said, “Regale us once again, Taro... And don't spare the details.”

“Okay, alright...!” Arai grumbled, accepting a pat on the shoulder from Kapur as Misha let out a squeal of joy. “It all started back a few years ago when I was in the hospital... because of my arm...” he started, giving his paralyzed right arm a shake as he spoke, “Anyway, it was right around this time of year, and...”

Hanako sat in silence as Arai retold the story from when he was fourteen, shortly after the accident that resulted in his paralysis. Evidently, while he was stranded in the hospital over the holidays, he got roped into playing Santa by a group of nurses after the orderly who had planned to play the role suddenly fell ill. The suit fit him perfectly, so they just got him a fake beard, sat him down by the holiday tree in the children's ward, and he spent half the night listening to requests from all the sick kids.

Some of them, like himself, simply weren't able to go home for the holidays because of their recent injuries or illnesses, while others had been stranded at the hospital for months, going through chemo-therapy, or dialysis, or a dozen other long-term procedures. There was even a little boy—barely seven years old—who had been trapped in a house fire, though Arai didn't go into much detail after everyone turned a glance at Hanako. It made her feel a little bit coddled, but she understood, and didn't begrudge him his reluctance.

In any case, instead of the expected requests for games, toys, and other such things, Arai received requests for their illnesses to go away, their injuries to heal, and for their parents to take them home for the holiday. Although he'd had similar holiday wishes, the fact that so many of them wanted the same thing really made him think at the time. Even four years later, Arai still remembered every single one of those kids, their names, and their ailments—the experience was burned into his memory.

The story left all the girls, Hanako included—and even Maeda, which Valeth found hilarious—a least little misty-eyed, while Miura was practically blubbering. “Dammit, Taro!” she wailed, “It's that little bald girl that gets me every time!”

Suzuki saw to comforting Miura, though she couldn't help snickering at her friend's reaction. Meanwhile, Arai leaned against the wall and sighed, seemingly still reliving parts of the story he might not have mentioned. Feeling curious about what was causing his angst, Hanako turned toward Kapur, who seemed surprisingly calm compared to the other girls, and whispered, “I-is he alright?”

Leaning toward her, Kapur smiled and matched Hanako's whisper as she replied, “He's fine, just a little homesick—he's staying here over the holidays. Something about his folks being away...”

“O-oh,” Hanako said as she sat back.

“He really likes telling that story, but this year he can't relive it... not like usual, anyway,” Kapur added, which made Hanako quirk an eyebrow in confusion. At seeing that, the twin-braided girl added, “He usually goes back to that hospital over the holiday break... to play Santa for the kids, but... he'll be up here in Sendai instead of down in Kyoto this year...”

Feeling sympathy for the compassionate young man, Hanako wondered if there might be anything she could do to help Arai, but she could hardly get his parents to return home in time. As she sat there and tried to think of some way to cheer him up, the group slowly went back to its task. It took a while longer for Hanako to go back to her crafts, but the thought that Arai would be stranded in Sendai wouldn't leave her mind. Nobody should feel depressed over the holidays, least of all someone with as much heart as Arai seemed to have, so Hanako wanted to do something. Unfortunately all she thought she was really good at lately was writing.

Actually, after a bit of consideration, she thought that writing might be a perfect idea. It wouldn't help with the gossip piece she was hoping to put together, but maybe she could help Arai and break her writer's block in one fell swoop. If she used his story as the basis for her holiday script, which she had already planned to include a visit of some kind from Santa Claus, it would make for quite the heartwarming play, and she might even convince Arai to actually play the role of Santa. That might be asking too much, but he seemed to like being the center of attention, and he was a really good storyteller, so acting on stage probably wouldn't be much of a stretch.

Having a plan in mind, Hanako stopped paying any attention to the conversation and instead focused on finishing the snowflake angel she had been crafting; she wasn't about to abandon it with only Maeda and Valeth there to try completing her masterpiece. As she worked, she plotted out the whole scene in her mind, and even found herself snickering a few times at some of the lines she imagined. Once her angel was finished, she stood, thanked Misha for letting her help, sent a soft smile around to each member of the group, then darted out past the stage, through the school, and all the way back to where her laptop waited.

After fetching a cup of tea and telling Lilly she'd be in her room for the night, she set about writing the scene as she envisioned it, though she added a few things—as often happened. As she outlined the tale, the whole thing sounded a little too corny, but she thought she could spice it up with some medical intrigue, or maybe something as simple as a power outage. That seemed like a good idea; it would mean cutting all the stage lights for a few moments, which would give the audience a little scare. She thought that could draw them in a little more, and might even make the heartwarming payoff seem all the more poignant, or something to that effect.

So focused on plotting the script, Hanako stayed up well past her normal bedtime working, and didn't fall asleep—rather unceremoniously in a heap at her desk—until well past midnight. That night she dreamed of a jolly, plump Santa coming to see her when she was still in the burn ward, and awoke with a broad smile, and wispy tears in her eyes. As she groggily dressed for class, she hoped Arai would agree to play Santa, especially since the thought of art imitating life in such a way put a spring in her steps. It may also have been something else entirely making her feel that lively, but that thought didn't even cross her mind.
________________________________________________________________
Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7
Last edited by Helbereth on Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Post by bhtooefr » Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:25 pm

Hanako as a gossip columnist? :|

It feels a bit out of character for Hanako to do that. She'd be capable of it, but I think she'd have a specific complex about talking behind people's backs.

Interesting that she can only handle small doses of Emi (although, Emi and Hisao together, I could see her only handling small doses of that). I'd think it'd be Misha she'd struggle with more.

I don't think Hanako x Taro has ever been done before, though, and that could be an interesting approach.

Edit: Also, Hanako having any confidence in her appearance whatsoever (even if she's right). This Hanako actually seems rather overconfident altogether, really.
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Re: Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Dec 25, 2013 3:33 pm

bhtooefr wrote:Hanako as a gossip columnist? :|

It feels a bit out of character for Hanako to do that. She'd be capable of it, but I think she'd have a specific complex about talking behind people's backs.
Yes, that was my first thought as well when I read it...
I don't think Hanako x Taro has ever been done before, though, and that could be an interesting approach.
So far it looks more like Molly x Taro... Maybe with a sprinkling of Hanako x Takeshi, but his reaction could be interpreted several ways...
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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Helbereth
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Chapter 2: The Dirty Denigration System (Part 1)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:01 pm

Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7
________________________________________________________________
Chapter 2: The Dirty Denigration System

The classroom buzzed with activity as the latest of Mutou's group projects was analyzed, debated and solved, but Taro couldn't think straight. Instead he sat alone in the back corner—as per usual when he needed a moment alone—though this time he had something besides classwork to consider. His silly hospital story had apparently inspired Ikezawa to write a scene involving Santa and some hospital kids, a blackout, and a little holiday miracle, all for the class play. He had already read most of it during Mutou's lecture, but had to stop when Captain Monotonous noticed his lapse in attention, so he was finishing the latter half.

Of course, Taro didn't know much about literature, plays, or anything much about writing, but he had enjoyed the read; it seemed like a touching tale with just the right amount of humor. The fact that he'd inspired it, at least in part, made him feel honored, but her request was bothering him: she wanted him to play Santa. The fact that she'd asked was overwhelming enough, but her reasons had also seemed completely reasonable; he looked the part, knew the role, and was a decent storyteller. Normally, when one of his friends asked him to do something—even completely rational things—they worded it in a convoluted way that often left him feeling confused.

Ikezawa had been completely direct, and even smiled when she presented her arguments—he knew that was rare for her. As he sat there thinking it over, it occurred to him that accepting the part would probably make her smile again, and even that alone that might be worth all the trouble. Still, being on stage like that sounded terrifying, and—simple as they all seemed—he worried he'd be too sweaty and awkward to actually say any of the lines. Of course, most of his time on stage would be spent sitting down, which might make remembering the lines easier, but he'd also have to contend with being surrounded by a bunch of girls in scant elf costumes, and he'd be wearing little more than festive red sweatpants—a disaster in the making.

It would take more than a holiday miracle for that situation to not have an embarrassing result, and in front of the entire school no less. However, if he could survive through that scene without anything arising, he'd get to play the hero on stage in front of all his classmates—the script called for Santa to rescue a young girl from a respirator malfunction. It was only a play, but it seemed to Taro that actors got plenty of praise, even for their phony heroics. Getting that kind of notoriety might actually land him a girlfriend, which he thought he sorely needed. There were a few questions he wanted to ask before committing, but, of course, Hanako had promptly left the room when the group project started.

Molly was already giving him the stink eye for taking so long to read the little script, so he decided to put his decision on hold, at least until after helping his friend with another boring group project—Mutou really knew how to deal those out. Hefting himself up to go join her on the floor by the front of the class—her preferred spot—he slumped his shoulders a little at noticing her icy glance, but he knew she wasn't really mad. They had a system that worked: as long as they got the project done, she wouldn't bat an eye at his lazy tendencies. With any luck, she might even help him make the Santa decision in the process—that's what friends are for.

“Sorry it took so long, Mols,” he said as he sat down beside her, “It's a pretty nice script, I think—did you read it yet?”

“I've been working on classwork, Dummy!” she scolded, holding up her textbook for him to take, “Page one-eighty... and try not to sweat on my book...”

Taking the book and opening it to the page in question, he repeated, “I'm sorry,” then added, “I'm just a little excited is all...! She asked me to play Santa, y'know?”

“Yes, I heard her—I was five feet away when she asked. She's probably trying to save on costuming by asking the fat guy to play the jolly elf,” Molly replied, shaking her head in dismay, “It doesn't mean she wants to hump you in the hall closet, so don't get too excited!”

Her assessment made plenty of sense, though he thought she could have worded it less hurtfully. Looking down at his bulbous gut, Taro muttered, “Hey, y'know it's hard for me to lose weight...! I only have one arm to exercise with!”

“You get a lot of repetitive exercise with that one arm, though...” Molly countered with a disgruntled sigh.

Taro frowned and put on his best hurt expression as he replied, “That's just mean... I've been putting work into it with Miki, but-” he cut himself off and grumbled, “Wow that sounded wrong...”

Cocking her head to the side, Molly agreed, “Yeah, Miki would shover her stump someplace you don't want it to go if she heard you say something like that...”

“Can we maybe get off this subject?” Taro requested.

“Ha-ha, you said get off,” Molly replied, snickering as Taro grimaced at her, “Okay, okay! Sorry, Taro... I'm just on edge with the holidays and-” she paused and shook her head, finally smiling as she continued, “You'd make a great Santa for the play... and Hanako probably liked that story of yours—you really tell it well... so that's probably why she asked...”

“You think?” Taro prompted, not a hint of sarcasm in his tone.

“Yeah~!” she replied, giggling at his innocence, “You almost made me cry—me! And I've known you for three years...!” As she shook her head in dismay, Taro smiled at hearing the typical cheerfulness return to her voice. “Now, can we get this damned project done?” she requested, turning back down toward her paper, “It's due before the end of class... in twenty minutes.”

Getting mollified by Molly, sarcastically or not, was something Taro had gotten used to, though this time she had sounded serious; it was hard to tell with her sometimes. In light of the season, Taro took her encouraging words at face value, and decided to accept the role Ikezawa had offered, regardless of the potential embarrassment. The only problem was that after the group project was assigned, Hanako had predictably vanished; it was hardly unusual, but he didn't know how to find her outside of the classroom—she seemed to disappear into the ether the moment she stepped through the door.

She didn't return even after lunch, and as the day wore on, Taro started to give up hope that he'd be able to put a smile on her face; it was a lofty goal, but a worthy one in his mind. Taro slept through most of Ito's trigonometry lecture, and paid about the same amount of attention during Miyagi's English lesson, all the while sending furtive glances every time he heard something that sounded like the door opening. Hoping to catch her coming back to hand in Mutou's group assignment, as stupid as that sounded almost five hours later, Taro even stayed in the classroom for a while after all his classes ended.

It wasn't long before Takashi and Lezard were looming over him, their impatient stares burning into his forehead. “C'mon, Taro,” Takashi groaned, hooking a hand around Taro's useless arm and tugging him to his feet, “We still have snowflakes to make... and popcorn to skewer.”

“We have to swing by the library for a few things first, though,” Lezard mentioned, starting to lead them out the door, “In the meantime, you can tell us all about your new girlfriend, Taro!”

“She- Wha- who?”

“Waiting for her after class, rereading that like script a hundred-billion times?” Takashi taunted, exiting into the hallway and turning back with a wry smirk, “Don't deny it!”

Being used to this sort of hazing, Taro folded his arms—mostly to take his numb one out of play—and walked ahead of his friends. Both of them continued snickering as they trod through the halls, but at least they kept their idiotic whispers to themselves. As they neared the library's double-doors, Taro slowed his pace to let them catch up because he didn't actually know why they were visiting the library. When the doors burst open a moment later, he thought they might be there to meet someone, but that thought flew out of his mind when he realized who was treading past them at a blistering pace.

The Student Council themselves came barreling out, single-minded Shizune stepping right between Takashi and Lezard as Misha brought up the rear. The fact that the dynamic duo frightened most everyone in the class didn't stop his leery-eyed friends of his from watching the pair walk away. He joined in, of course, but only because he couldn't resist the chance to check out some Misha-booty. As they disappeared around the a corner, Taro noticed Takashi side-stepping to try keeping them in view, and rolled his eyes when he realized what his friend was probably thinking.

Once the pair had left audible range, Takashi declared, “Hot damn, I'd like to get a me piece of that!” then, thrusting his hips lewdly, he added, “Use those drills like handlebars!”

“Never put your dick in crazy, Maeda,” Lezard chided, turning a crooked smirk toward Taro. “Right, Big Guy?”

Sighing as he turned back toward the door, Taro scolded, “You guys are perverted...”

Jogging to catch up, Takashi countered, “Oh, like you weren't thinking the same thing?”

Lezard decided to answer instead, “I'd prefer the President, myself... Sure, she's a little tsundere-”

“A little?” Takashi balked, turning on his heel with a look of disbelief.

“She's probably wild in the sack, though,” Lezard finished, moving to catch the library door before it could swing shut. “Probably tie me up and do all kinds of... naughty things,” he continued, flitting his eyebrows as Taro approached, “Maybe get the Pink Ranger involved too—though I'd insist on a ball-gag for her...”

“You both belong in institutions,” Taro groaned, slapping the back of Lezard's head as he passed.

“And you belong in a zoo!” Lezard retorted indignantly.

“That still doesn't make sense, man,” Takashi said as he entered, pointing at Taro and adding, “I mean, who would go see that? Even in a zoo?”

Folding his arms as he strode away from the door, Lezard scoffed, “Your mom likes to pet gorillas, Takashi, so she'd probably go for a little Taro action—I'm sure he'd be gentle, being romantic that he is...”

That earned a punch in the arm from Takashi, but Lezard shrugged it off and beckoned for both of them to follow him toward the back room. Evidently Lezard had volunteered the trio when Miss Miyagi requested for someone go retrieve some video equipment from the storage closet, along with a slide projector for use in the holiday production; it got them out of failing at making snowflakes for a while. The whole library seemed empty, so, as they went about collecting the items on the list, Takashi and Lezard continued their vulgar little conversation. Taro tried to ignore them for the most part, though that only lasted until they asked for his opinion directly.

“So, what about you, Big Guy,” Lezard said, patting Taro's shoulder as they exited into the main part of the library, each carrying a few items, “If you got your holiday wish, but had to spend it getting any girl in the class to polish your knob, who would it be?”

“What kind of question is that?” Taro countered, trying to shut down the conversation.

The denial merely made Lezard more determined, and he quickly reiterated, “How about I just name names, and you try not to blush? Hmm?”

Hefting the projector he was carrying up onto the cart, Taro snorted, “You're a jerk, Lezard,”

“That's what I do, not who I am,” Lezard retorted, his typically astute mind not catching the double-entendre that made Taro snicker.

“How about Suzu?” Takashi blurted, having to yell from inside the storage room.

Waving his hand dismissively, Lezard replied, “Nah, she'd fall asleep half way through...”

“That'd be kinda hot, actually,” Takashi said as he peeked out through the door, drawing irksome looks from both his friends, “She'd wake up with tears in her eyes and a load in her mouth—a real Christmas miracle!” That comment got him a punch in the arm from Lezard, followed by another from Taro before he could duck back inside.

With that taken care of, Lezard reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose and scolded, “No more comments from the peanut gallery—I need to concentrate!”

Taro groaned at the possibilities, but he'd gotten used to this regular ritual. Neither of them ever actually acted on these perverse ideas, but, every so often—seemingly on a daily basis—Lezard and Takashi would end up talking about who would bang who, and where, and how—typical beta-virgin posturing. That day, whether out of boredom, irreverence, or simple malice, it seemed they were determined to get Taro playing along. Were he in a joking mood, maybe he wouldn't have resisted quite so much, but he never enjoyed objectifying his classmates like that—it seemed dishonorable to him. Unfortunately, he didn't have the fortitude or the ambition to stop the two of them from engaging in their perverse games.

“Let's see, how about Miki for starters?” Lezard said, aiming his query at Taro.

Takashi decided to cut in, “Yeah, right... in all our dreams!”

“If she got really drunk, though?” Lezard hazarded.

“Still a no-go,” Takashi rebutted, looking toward Taro as he spoke, “'Sides, the Big Guy didn't even flinch.”

“She's not my type,” Taro replied, offering a slight shrug as he returned to the storage room. “And I see her every other day at the track, so it'd just be weird...”

“That's bullshit, but... for now, I'm not gonna argue,” Lezard conceded, turning a speculative squint toward Takashi. “Taro likes the brainy ones for some reason—being besties with Mnemonic Molly proves that,” he remarked, to which Takashi nodded, then he raised his voice toward Taro, “So, how about Natsume?”

“Dude, Natsume's a total bush-licker,” Takashi remarked crudely, “I'm pretty sure she and Naomi are already picking out sperm donors for after their Jane-Austen-themed wedding...”

“That doesn't negate the question,” Lezard countered, raising his voice again for Taro to hear, “In the context of the fantasy, she'd be wholly willing, regardless of orientation.”

“In that case...” Taro called back, pausing only to hold his friends in suspense, “Still a no! I wouldn't get between two girls in love like that—it'd be wrong...”

Unwilling to give up the premise, Lezard retorted, “What if she'd never know?”

“I'd know!” Taro shouted with finality.

“Just drop it, pencil-dick,” Takashi scolded, snickering as Lezard turned a cold glare at him, “Besides, Taro has a point—if the internet has taught me one thing, it's that lesbian love is beautiful and should be preserved~!”

“Fine, keep your fantasy, numb-nuts,” Lezard groaned, leaning against the cart with his foot on the lower shelf. As Taro started his way back out with a handful of cellophane sheets, Lezard suggested, “How about Molly, then—or is that one too close to home, too?”
Last edited by Helbereth on Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:23 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Chapter 2: The Dirty Denigration System (Part 2)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:01 pm

Pausing a few feet from the door, Taro took a moment to think about that suggestion, mostly because Lezard hadn't actually brought it up before. He and Molly had been friends almost since they started their first year at Yamaku, and they got along so well people sometimes mistook them for being a couple. Still, even considering all of that, Taro couldn't justify getting involved with her romantically even if it were possible. She was more like a sister to him than anything else, and there were obvious reasons for him to consider her asexual—reasons he wouldn't reveal to those two chuckle-heads on a dare.

Leaning out to show them his serious expression, Taro replied, “No, not Molly—she's like a sister to me. It'd just be... weird.”

“You sure about that? Bet she's real kinky behind closed doors,” Takashi said, jabbing Lezard with his elbow playfully, “It's always the cute little ones in sweaters, am I right?”

Eying Takashi—who was short, and had a penchant for wearing sweaters—with narrowed eyes, Lezard stated, “For me to agree with that, I'd have to think the same of you... And, I'm not prepared to accept that mental image...”

“Ugh, yeah, sorry,” Takashi muttered, backing away and shaking his head in dismay. After a brief pause, he added, “Still, we aren't through the room yet... What about Ritsu?”

Shrugging, Taro disagreed, “Too snobby.”

“Ikuno?” Lezard suggested.

Genuinely confused, Taro prompted, “Who?”

“Sits next to Miki—kinda mousy,” Takashi described.

“She's kinda smart—you'd like her,” Lezard added.

Shrugging, Taro claimed, “Well, I can't really answer if I don't know her, can I?”

“Good point,” Takashi stated, then pontificated and added, “You know Misaki, though, right? The one that's always taking pictures and annoying everyone with-”

Flashing a grin, Lezard interjected, “You'd offer up your imaginary girlfriend as Taro's cum catcher?”

“She's not my-” Takashi stopped himself and sighed, “Fuck you, Valeth! Anyway... are we gonna have to dip into other classrooms?”

“There are plenty of buxom, brainy beauties around the school... but we haven't even mentioned the coup de gras yet,” Lezard stated, pushing off the cart and aiming his pointed finger at Taro, “The one he's pining for...” he aimed the finger at the floor, “Right now...! The dark-haired enigma who delivered a document and a request unto him this very day!”

“You're a shit, Lezard,” Taro stated, stepping out through the door and placing a stack of cellophane sheets on the cart. Knowing where the conversation was going, Taro realized that making Lezard doubt himself was the only card he had left to play, and the last-ditch gambit probably wouldn't work, but, sighing either out of desperation or resignation, he added, “Also, you have no idea what you're talking about...”

Unfortunately, as expected, it hadn't worked. Worse, it may actually have done the opposite of what he intended. Chuckling devilishly, Lezard adjusted his little oval-framed glasses with a haughty smirk and sucked in a breath. Meanwhile, Taro slumped against the cart and sighed inwardly; he really did have a thing for Hanako, even before she visited him earlier in the day. At that moment, though, he couldn't decide whether to feel angry at himself for having let it slip, or mad at Lezard for drawing out the suspense; his bespectacled friend really liked to overplay the drama.

With a flourish of his hand that ended with him pontificating obnoxiously, Lezard stated, “We both know the only girl on your mind today is the one and only, tall, dark and frightful,” he paused, drawing out the suspense for just a few more ounces of drama before shouting, “Hanako Ikezawa!”

“Scarface?” Takashi blurted, trying to sound surprised; he had merely been waiting to speak.

In his best game-show-host voice, Lezard replied, “You heard right, my friend!”

“She's not even... why would anyone? Are you fucking serious?” Takashi sputtered, probably reveling a little too much in his mock disbelief, “I mean, Taro's a total beta, but Ikezawa? That's a whole other plane of existence—a lower plane, at that.”

“That's a little unfair, isn't it?” Lezard said, raising an eyebrow as he rubbed his lapel dismissively.

Long ago Taro came to the conclusion that he was better off being friends with these two because nobody else would have him. However, if this conversation continued, he didn't know whether he could justify lying to himself like that anymore. Even if she wasn't in earshot, Hanako hadn't done anything to deserve this kind of treatment, and neither had any of the other girls they'd been objectifying. Still unable to voice his argument, Taro grabbed at the cart and found the handle blindly, then held it tightly—he knew things would get worse before they got better.

“Well, okay... let's break this down,” Takashi continued, his superior tone grating on Taro's ears, “She's tall—there's that. Honestly, it's not a favorable factor for me, but maybe it is for the Big Guy here.”

Rolling his hand, beckoning Takashi to continue, Lezard prompted, “Go on...”

“And I don't know how she does it, but that body of hers is definitely worth a second look—and probably a third,” Takashi added, still maintaining that irksome tone, “But, really... when you get right down to it, she's... a total butterface—frightfully fucked up from the neck up!”

Completely deadpan, Lezard agreed, “That's not quite how I'd phrase it, but it's a fair assessment...”

As he waited for Takashi's reply, Lezard's superior chuckling inspired Taro's grip to tighten once more, this time turning his knuckles white as he silently berated himself for not speaking out against their crassness. Even though they disagreed almost constantly, and he thought most of what his two friends said was wrong—not just on a factual level—he accepted their ravings because they were his only friends. This time, however, they were just being malicious for no apparent reason, and Taro started to feel sick, partly because of what they were saying, but mostly due to his own inaction.

Nodding solemnly, as though he were revealing some great truth of the universe, Takashi stood with a hand behind his back and a finger pointed at the ceiling. “In conclusion,” he stated, pausing only to draw out the drama, “considering we're talking about a Game of Blows...”

“Nice literary reference,” Lezard complimented.

“Thank you, I just finished the second book last night,” Takashi replied, then, apparently pleased with his vile logic, grinned viciously as he concluded, “Since you'd have to spend the whole time looking at her face, I don't think Hanako would be a suitable candidate to provide a miraculous blow-job.”

“Ah, but what about the bonus round?” Lezard asked, gripping his lapel as he spoke, “Assuming things played out naturally, would things then escalate, or-”

Summing up some courage, Taro finally interjected, “Guys, seriously! Fucking stop it...!”

“Hmm?” Lezard grunted, then shared a look with Takashi before asking, “Do you suppose that was a declaration?”

“Seemed more like a request,” Takashi stated, placing a calm fist against his chest.

Chuckling grimly, Lezard remarked, “Boldness from Taro Arai? Be still my heart, I thought it impossible—I had resigned to knowing the only thing he did passionately was masturbate...”

Gritting his teeth at that remark, Taro barely managed to bite back his snarling response. Molly being flippant like that he could handle because he knew she was kidding, but Lezard only said anything to get a rise out of people. When he advocated telling the Santa story the previous evening, it certainly wasn't out of any appreciation for heartwarming tales, or a desire for anyone else to hear the story. He had simply done it because he knew Taro was missing his family, and wanted to make him feel worse. Lezard also knew he wouldn't refuse if Hanako were the one to make the request because Taro had regrettably confided in the prick the last time they went out drinking.

“You shut your pig-mouth, Lezard!” Taro snarled, the anger boiling over for just a moment.

Takashi responded in Lezard's stead, though not to Taro's question. “There would have to be a paper bag involved,” he said, apparently referencing Lezard's earlier question, “But... if things did escalate, and I didn't lose my erection at seeing her horrifying face... and the bag were secured tight enough not to fall off mid-coitus... I'd bend Scarface over the nearest wall for a good stand-up rogering!”

Uproarious laughter followed Takashi's remarks, but Taro's building fury set his heart pumping, and the rushing blood thankfully overpowered that unforgivable sound. Instead of their laughter, all he heard was their snide, unprovoked, malicious comments, and vicious, unfounded accusations playing over that white noise. Usually Taro tried hard not to upset people, or throw his considerable weight around, but Hanako hadn't done anything to deserve their attacks, and now they were just standing there, laughing. In that moment, with their awful words echoing in his mind, all Taro knew for certain was that he couldn't let the maliciousness of his so-called friends go unanswered anymore.

“Shut the fuck up, Maeda—you don't know shit!” he shouted, almost flipping the cart off its wheels as he shoved himself back, “You little shit! Who do you think you are?”

“Uh-oh, we have a cave troll,” Lezard stated flatly.

Ignoring Lezard for the moment, Taro aimed his one working index finger at Takashi and continued, “Who're you to judge, anyway? Nobody, that's who! You've got all the class of a mud puddle, and you're judging people? And what kind of asshole wears a beret? Wait, no, it's that kind of asshole!” he shouted as he pointed, which successfully silenced Takashi's retort. Turning toward Valeth, Taro continued, “And you...! Dick-headed King of the Betas!”

“Me?” Lezard balked, raising his eyebrow haughtily, “I've done nothing but listen! Takashi trounced your disfigured girlfriend, Taro, not I!”

“But you agreed with him, egged him on!” Taro accused, shoving the cart away, which sent it crashing against the wall as the cellophane sheets scattered across the floor. “Chuckling like a fucking douchebag, grinning and making fun!?” he yelled, snarling every word, “She's not even here to defend herself, you son of a bitch!”

“Oh, did we strike a nerve, there, Big Guy?” Lezard taunted, apparently unaware of how grating his voice already sounded to Taro. “You're here, aren't you?” he added, grinning obnoxiously, “If you're so concerned, why don't you step up and defend her in absentia?”

“Not that he could,” Takashi said, drawing an angry glare from Taro, “All brawn and no brains—he'd be walking into a battle of wits unarmed~!”

As those last few melodic syllables rolled off Takashi's misguided tongue, he'd probably already begun to regret them. With almost supernatural speed, especially considering his considerable girth, Taro's rage exploded into a charge—arm drawn back, teeth bared. Caught off guard, Takashi barely managed to start a retreat, but he was too late, catching Taro's fury-propelled fist across his jaw, which only briefly interrupted its path toward breaking his nose. As Takashi then spun gracelessly to the floor, Taro nearly overbalanced and followed him down, only barely managing to catch himself on a bookshelf that wobbled against his weight.

Taro heard a whimper as he spun around—presumably from Takashi—but he ignored it as his eyes locked onto Lezard's hawkish face. Standing exactly where he had been a moment before, mouth agape, a hand held out in silent protest, his bespectacled eyes darting between Taro and Takashi, Lezard seemed completely overwhelmed. Guessing that meant he wasn't about to leap in to defend his friend, Taro huffed a breath and snapped a quick look down as Takashi groaned and rolled away, cradling the red welt on his jaw which was stained crimson by the stream flowing from his nose.

Upon turning back to see Lezard's renewed, and horrified expression, Taro almost felt guilty for a moment, but that passed the instant the trickster started speaking. “The fuck, Taro?!” Lezard shouted, grabbing both his lapels and leaning forward as he spoke, “It's just a bit of harmless fun—what'd he do to deserve-”

“No! Fuck you, Lezard!” came Taro's biting reply, “You sit back and judge people all day, make fun of them, call them names, say nasty things—you're a God-damned disease!”

“And you're what...? The cure? I'm not the one going around hitting people, Taro,” Lezard said coolly, though from the slight quiver in his voice, Taro could tell he was barely hanging onto his rationale.

“You do worse!” Taro countered, taking a bold step forward, one that made Lezard retreat, “You get in people's heads and make them feel bad about themselves, about their lives—even the people you call your friends! Me! Molly! Even Takashi!”

“That's not-”

“Don't deny it!” Taro screamed, taking another step forward. As Lezard took another step back, which put him against the library counter, Taro grimaced and pointed toward Takashi—or where the little toady had been, anyway.

“You're the one-”

“You caused this... you shit!” Taro barked, silencing Lezard again as he turned a quick glance to see Takashi had already leaped up and darted away toward the exit. Looking back at his bespectacled former friend, he continued, “Egging him on, encouraging him to be an asshole because what? You enjoy it? You get off on it!? You're a fucking disease!”

Still indignant, Lezard sidled away against the counter, eying Taro warily as he went. His uncontrollable shaking made Taro smirk, but Lezard hadn't quite lost his ability to speak just yet. “S-say what you want,” he stuttered, almost tripping over a chair as he continued backing away from Taro's closing strides, “When N-Nurse sees Takashi's f-face, you'll be the one who's ex- expe... Expelled!”

As Lezard and Takashi ran out of the library, tails between their legs, Taro stopped his pursuit and yelled after them, “Go find a hole and die in it, assholes!”

It probably wasn't the best line ever uttered, but saying it made him feel better. The rage took a few minutes to peter out, and the adrenaline rush soon subside, leaving his head a little clearer, and his hand throbbing with pain—Takashi, if nothing else, had a solid jaw. The fist didn't hurt nearly as badly as the clarity, though, which brought the realization that Lezard was probably right; Nurse would see Takashi's nose, and listen to their silver tongues tell the story, then there'd be an inquest—one that Taro probably stood no chance of surviving without expulsion.

In the end, he didn't regret anything he'd said, or even punching Takashi; they were being assholes, and he was sick of going along with their bullshit—it had been a long time coming. As things go, maybe Molly would speak for Taro's character at the inquest—Miki and Suzu, too, if they could be bothered—but it wouldn't be enough, and then he'd then be shipped back to Kyoto to face his disappointed parents—at least he might see them for the holidays. What he did regret was that nobody had been around to see his hero moment, hear him defend a girl's honor, or watch him lay the irksome knave down like a disobedient dog. It was just as well, though; he wasn't the most eloquent or graceful of warriors.

Shrugging as he headed for the exit, Taro wondered if he should bother sticking around to face the music. He figured he could just run away and find work at a restaurant; his uncle would take him in if he asked, and the education wouldn't have ended up mattering much in his case. That hardly seemed like the hero's path, though, and not all the cards had yet been dealt, so he lumbered his way back to the dorms so he could await judgment in his fortress of solitude. Besides, even though he couldn't imagine how it could end well, he had a feeling in his considerable gut that his story wasn't quite finished. That could just have been gas from the salad Miki had made him eat for lunch, though.
________________________________________________________________
Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7
Last edited by Helbereth on Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Post by Comrade » Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:34 pm

except for the Jews!
:evil:
Damn goyim *grumblegrumble*
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Helbereth
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Re: Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:47 pm

Comrade wrote:
except for the Jews!
:evil:
Damn goyim *grumblegrumble*
I'll have you know I only used Jew there because I hate them passionately... wait, that's not what I meant to say! Um... :idea: How about I make a donation in your name to- Crap, I don't have any money. That's probably not the best thing to say when apologizing to a dirty Jew. Ah! Shit, there I go again... Really I'm sorry, my fingers apparently hate dirty stinking money-grubbing Jews with the fiery passion of a thousand suns :twisted: , but I think they're good people... :D who happen to wear stupid caps and spew spittle with every other word :roll: . Dammit, hands! If this isn't already offensive enough, why don't I just start drawing Muhammed in Paintbrush using a broken mouse that can only point left? :mrgreen:
In case anyone's wondering, this is intended to lampoon Jew haters, not offend people of the Jewish faith.
Last edited by Helbereth on Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Post by beardedsubmarine » Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:51 pm

Ambiguous. I loathe holidays, and I love your writing. Where do I run, to the ones who are pretty, or to the smart ones?
Anyway, the X-Mas magic's in the air, and I may be dense, but some characters took a .. lessay, an unexpected turn in the pitch of their development. Really, Hanako as a gossip miller is wonderful. As she always is.
And Shizune cring for her as much as tasking her... Damn, as they say in my motherland, something's dead in the forest.
Never mind, I simply liked the reading you magnanimously provided. (See? I speak in the same manner as I write OLOLO).
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, mi ritrovai nel cul una matita. O mio Dio, che dolori e bruciori! Era una carioca de dodici colori!

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Chapter 3: Trickster Toady Scapegoat Scribe (Part 1)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 9:25 pm

Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7
________________________________________________________________
Chapter 3: Trickster Today Scapegoat Scribe

The silence in the library seemed almost supernatural as Hanako sat wordlessly on the bean bag chair—her favorite secluded spot—trying to decide what to think. On one hand, she'd just heard probably the most vulgar conversation ever to grace her young ears, or perhaps anyone's ears, the topic of which left her feeling violated. However, the way it all ended, especially that sound—flesh striking flesh—and the angered declarations from the typically sweet and carefree Arai, seemed far more important.

For a long while Hanako sat there dumbfounded while Arai stayed in the library, probably thinking about that last biting comment from Valeth, and the impact it would have on his future at Yamaku, or even life in general. Wanting to help him somehow, she considered making her presence known, but didn't think it would do either of them any good by that point. If anything it would probably be too little and too late, and she thought it might even make matters worse. Before she could get over her indecisiveness, he finally meandered out of the library, leaving her sitting in her secluded corner, the only witness to the entire exchange.

She wasn't just a witness, though. Some of what had been said got lost in the echo of the big room, but she had heard every hurtful thing Maeda said near the end—all of which was aimed directly at her—and that alone was enough to make her angry. Even though she'd heard almost all of it before, most of which to her face, and she had learned to ignore comments like that for the most part, the context made it feel a lot worse—a miraculous blow-job, indeed. In that moment, she had almost stood up to yell something in her defense, but she was too shocked to move, or utter a single word. Then everything started escalating, and Hanako had cowered in her corner, just praying none of them noticed her.

Then Arai started yelling, and most of it had to do with his friends and their antics rather than Hanako herself, but she realized it wasn't until they started talking about her that his protests became so heated—as though attacking her was the last straw. Even though she didn't like being coddled, the fact that he'd turned on his friends like that, and over someone whom he didn't even know was in the room, had actually made her happy, even proud; it felt good having someone defend her like that in her absence. Still, even though laying Maeda out like that seemed wholly justifiable—not to mention completely awesome in retrospect—Valeth had a point; the blame would fall directly on Arai.

In her eyes—or her ears at least—Maeda, and especially Valeth, had provoked Arai into the punch, but the chance of the school-board siding with the Big Guy—as they had called him—was remote. Even though the school year was almost over, and graduation was a mere couple of months away, a school like Yamaku—which acquires the majority of its budget from private benefactors with lots of conduct clauses—would have to side with the physical evidence in the absence of witness accounts. That evidence would be turning black and blue to mix with bloody in the near future, she realized, and all Arai had to combat the coming inquest was his word against both Maeda and Valeth—hardly a fair fight.

Yamaku staff and students in general, in her opinion, had a responsibility to practice the school's ideals, even when nobody was watching. Although he could have handled it better, that's what Arai was ultimately trying to do, but he would need help proving it to the board of inquest; Arai was a nice, charitable guy at heart, but the incident report needed a scapegoat. The fact that trying to defend his classmates, and ostensibly herself, might get Arai expelled made Hanako feel responsible, which translated to her having a personal stake in seeing justice served. So, perhaps ironically, instead of being the damsel in distress, she'd become the white knight, and that exciting thought put the fire of resolve into her veins.

The only problem would be figuring out how to provide an adequate defense, but her gears were already turning. Fortunately, not only had Hanako witnessed the entire exchange, but she also had the writing chops to paint the plucky paladin—cherubic Taro Arai—in a positive light. Unfortunately, her appearing at the inquest to provide a witness statement wouldn't necessarily guarantee a favorable verdict. Besides that, with the break fast approaching the process of justice would likely get sped up, and the board might be prone to rubber-stamping the proceedings before the holiday, so her time was limited.

To combat that, she figured if enough of the student body spoke out on Arai's behalf, there was a good chance the board would fold under the pressure; they wouldn't risk potentially losing tuition revenue over one expulsion. All she needed was a way to get the word out, but that remained an obstacle. Mechanical pencil hung over her ear, Hanako leaned back in her chair and tried to focus; the time had passed for indignant outbursts, physical altercations, and feeling depressed. She needed to come up with a plan—something elegant, thoughtful, and not to mention diplomatic—to help dig Arai out of the hole his righteous actions had dug.

Unfortunately, the best way to go about that was eluding her typically sharp mind; Hanako just couldn't think of anything worthwhile, so things were looking bleak. She considered posting fliers around the school to garner support, but time was an issue in that regard, and so was manpower. Using the school intercom to make an announcement crossed her mind, but she was ill-equipped for public speaking, and nobody listened to those anyway. The holiday plays would gather the whole school in one place—the auditorium, no less—and by then she could find someone else to give a speech on Arai's behalf—Hisao would be a good candidate since they seemed to have been friends—but the inquest would probably be over by then.

Groaning aloud, Hanako wished real life were more like it is in books because then she could skip to the part where the plucky journalist figures out a plan to save the day, and not have to worry about coming up with said plan. Thinking some music might help get her creative juices flowing, she queued up some of her favorite Christmas songs—it was still the holidays, after all—and started tapping and humming with the melodies. At one point she actually started singing along, loudly, even going so far as to get up and dance, though nobody was around to see or hear her exuberance. In the end, none of that ultimately helped her think of a way to help Arai, and singing just made her thirsty.

Upon returning from the vending machines, and feeling somewhat desperate, her eyes wandered down to the papers Shizune had left; a collection of notes on the holiday script, along with a few requests for alterations. Hanako had started making changes to the play before the boys arrived, and seeing the open file didn't help much, but looking at her laptop made her realize she still had an editorial to write. Natsume was expecting something with a holiday theme for the coming paper, which was due to go out in on Wednesday, but, as she stared at her monitor, a plan started forming in Hanako's mind; the power of the written word would save the day—or so she hoped since it was the only idea that could work in time.

Considering the disturbing conversation she had overheard, there was certainly enough material for a seven-hundred word editorial, and she could probably convince Natsume to give it the front page; it would make for one hell of a story no matter the result. Resolved to set things in motion, no matter the consequences, Hanako closed the file containing her speculative notes on the Kapur and Arai involvement—Arai had basically disproved it anyway—and started a new document. Titling the new file, [Belligerent Boy Browbeats Buddies Into Battle! Has Bullying At Yamaku Become Blasé?] made her smirk; it was ridiculously long and probably overwrought, but would look great in bold lettering.

Thus, instead of a fluffy holiday piece, she started hammering out a biting editorial detailing the vulgar, heartless antics of two social deviants, and the righteous young man who so selflessly defended the virtue of his classmates. Recounting the horrible conversation put an angry gleam in her eyes, and Hanako operated on adrenaline and canned coffee as her keyboard's clacking sound filled the empty library. Her healthy sensitivity toward the downtrodden, which she had developed through years of personal experience with peer torment, fueled the fire in her words. Sentences and paragraphs danced across the screen, each one punctuated with literary daggers aimed at the story's true villains: Maeda and Valeth.

After burning through seven-hundred words in less than an half an hour, she started focusing on editing to make every word as clear, concise, and socially damning as she thought possible. When she thought it was as perfect as possible, she packed up her things and moved to leave the library. As she walked toward the exit, though, her eyes fell upon the cart that Arai had shoved against the wall, and the scattered cellophane left on the ground in the scuffle. She had peeked at the scene before, but hadn't spent much time looking because she felt guilty; she probably could have stopped them had she not been frozen with panic. Unfortunately, there was nothing she could do to change the past, but it still made her furious.

If anyone saw her passing through the halls that night, her eyes burning with righteous fury, they probably would have wondered whether it was really Hanako. Taking broad strides, the kind only a tall girl like herself could take when wholly focused on arriving at a destination in as swift a manner as possible, she marched straight to Natsume's room to deliver the file. Maybe she had been useless to Arai in the moment, but there was nothing stopping her from making it right. Following Hanako's decidedly discourteous knock—which was more like a pounding—Natsume answered her door with a cheerful giggle that turned into a curious pout the moment Hanako placed the flash drive in her hand.

Staring down at the device blankly, the confused girl asked, “What's this?”

“My editorial,” Hanako explained abruptly, then locked her gaze with the bespectacled girl's two-toned eyes and demanded, “Run it on the front page, and don't spare the ink.”

Natsume held the drive in her hand and stared blankly for a few moments, shocked by the determination in Hanako's voice, is not her lack of a stutter. Nodding slowly, she replied, “Okay, I'll give it a loo-”

Leaning closer and enunciating each word, Hanako interjected, “Front. Page,” then, grimacing apologetically, she requested, “Please?”

“We'd have to rework the whole paper,” Natsume groaned, “it'd take hours of-” Hanako, eyes practically glowing with resolve, glared so convincingly that Natsume stopped in the middle of her sentence. After only a few moments, she cleared her throat and conceded, “I'll take it seriously—don't worry! Stop staring at me like that...!”

Looking away for a moment, Hanako sputtered, “S-sorry...”

“Not that it isn't a good look for you!” Natsume added, tossing the drive up and catching it deftly, “I'll just assume this is the most important thing you've ever written—it had better be good.”

“It's b-better than good,” Hanako assured her, frowning a little at her disappointing stutter.

“I believe you,” Natsume said in as serious a tone as the typically flippant amateur journalist had ever mustered.

Convinced that Natsume would do as she said, Hanako bowed slightly and smiled, then left her in peace. It wasn't until she was half way back to her own room that creeping doubts started entering her mind, and her blistering pace slowed. She begrudgingly realized that there was no guarantee people would bother to read her editorial, much less act on the injustice. Also, Natsume might not even agree to print it—even if it really was the best thing Hanako had ever written—especially considering the somewhat vulgar language it contained; all direct quotes from the two assailants.

Feeling conflicted, and not to mention exhausted by the whole ordeal, as she approached her own door, Hanako's eyes turned toward that of her neighbor and friend, Lilly Satou. Since joining the newspaper club, Hanako had been functioning quite well on her own—that is, without leaning on Lilly all the time—but this was different. The editorial was a Hail Mary pass at best, and Hanako had understood that from word one, but she also felt like there was more at stake somehow. She had a personal investment of sorts in the outcome, and maybe a little bit of a vendetta, but that wasn't what made her pause and consider talking to Lilly.

There was something disturbing about seeing the sweet, kind Arai, who had played Santa Claus for a hospital full of sick kids, turn into a twisted nightmare, even if only for those few fleeting moments. Although she didn't exactly know why, as she stood there staring at Lilly's door, she considered what could have happened if she had been in Arai's place. Hanako couldn't shake the thought that she too could suddenly snap and start screaming at her supposed friends, or even attacking them physically. It was almost too horrifying and irrational to imagine, but in the wake of what she had witnessed, she needed some reassuring.

So she knocked, and, as expected, especially after hearing the conflict in Hanako's voice, Lilly invited her inside. Initially Lilly assumed it was concerning the latest draft of her holiday play, so when Hanako instead explained about what had happened in the library, Valeth and Maeda's awful comments, Arai's outburst, the assault, and the editorial she had written, Lilly was justifiably overwhelmed. As any true friend would, Lilly then sat up with her long into the night, drinking tea and helping settle Hanako's racing mind. Even though Lilly couldn't say for certain whether things would work out or not, when Hanako left and returned to her room, she felt a little lighter; it had helped renew her dwindling hope.

~^~

Another wintry day dawned over Yamaku, and before Hanako could even make her way into the main building, the rumor mill was already operating at capacity. As she ambled her way through the halls, keeping her head down and eyes forward as always, she caught snippets of speculative conversations. Not everyone was talking about the library incident, but those who were all seemed to echo some version of the same story: Arai went crazy following a brief argument he chased down and bludgeoned Maeda half to death. That was only one retelling, of course, and one of the more tame versions by far, but Hanako wouldn't let its inaccuracy bother her.

She knew the truth, after all, and when the newspaper arrived at their doors the next day, so would the rest of her classmates—unless Natsume nixed the editorial, of course, but Lilly had assured her that possibility was unlikely. She had said that when the truth came out, and all those tales from the rumor mill were disproved, the backlash would be so overpowering, it might lead to an inquest for Arai's provocateurs. Hanako hadn't pulled any punches in detailing the downright unsavory, degenerate, and unconscionable comments they had made, after all, and although the possibility seemed remote, learning about that might actually inspire the school-board to pursue an inquest against Maeda and Valeth—that would feel like justice, Hanako thought.

Either way, fantasizing about them being led off of school grounds by security made for quite the satisfying image, so Hanako wore a slight smile as she walked into the classroom. Stopping just inside the door, she found Maeda seated in his usual spot, and almost broke out laughing. Wearing a neck brace, Maeda sat there straight-backed, eyes forward, and wearing an idiotic grin—probably from the painkillers. The right side of his face from the cheek to the jaw was wrapped in gauze, along with his entire nose, and that made sense, but Hanako doubted the brace was actually necessary; it seemed more likely Maeda had tried to make his injury seem worse to garner sympathy from Nurse—a pathetic maneuver befitting his cowardly character.

She didn't know what the bruise looked like under all that alcohol-stained cotton, but considering how it got there, she hoped it would leave a giant scar. Part of her disliked that she enjoyed seeing him so injured, but the writer in her snickered at the irony, and cheered at the poetic justice. Maeda had earned that injury and potential facial disfigurement by insulting someone with a disfigured face, and Hanako wasn't one to hold a grudge, but she was that person, so maybe just a little bit of her smirk was from personal satisfaction. In any case, he had no idea she had been there to witness the attack—at least not yet—so she made an effort to act normal—or some version of normal—as she quickly walked around past him, headed for her desk.

As Hanako sat down, it occurred to her that Arai hadn't yet arrived, though he was often late. Still, usually Kapur would make an effort to ensure he got to class, but she was already in her seat. That probably meant Arai wouldn't be attending that day, which didn't bode well. Considering what had happened, and the consequences he might be facing, Hanako worried that Arai might have simply left the school entirely. That wasn't a very positive thought, and neither was the more likely case that he had been sequestered to his dorm room, but, between the two possibilities, the latter had better prospects, and at that moment she wondered what her classmates might be thinking—especially those who knew him best.
Last edited by Helbereth on Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:22 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Chapter 3: Trickster Toady Scapegoat Scribe (Part 2)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 9:25 pm

Down in front, heads on their desks as always, Miura and Suzuki didn't even bother interrupting their inspection of the wood grain when Valeth walked in and marched straight to his seat. Hanako suspected their indifference had more to do with lack of sleep than anything else, though Kapur didn't seem quite so forgiving. Pouting angrily, arms crossed over her chest, Kapur had been staring at the two girls almost since Hanako walked in, and her gaze didn't show any sign of relenting. For a moment, she cast a quick wondering look toward Valeth, but found only an emotionless stare in return, so she grumbled something inaudible and turned away; Hanako assumed the fact that her friends were either fighting, under scrutiny, or completely ambivalent was probably tearing her up inside.

On the other hand, the hawkish Valeth didn't seem terribly concerned with either his friend's injury or the associated debacle, but he had always exuded ambivalence. Sitting with his hands on the desk, palms overlapping, perfectly straight and proper, Valeth looked like the most confident man in the room, though that was obviously a facade; he had been on the verge of crying, or pissing himself—or both—as he scurried out of the library the previous evening. Now, though, there was something disturbingly robotic about his demeanor; it seemed as though he didn't even care about what happened. That made him sound like a sociopath, though that possibility didn't make Hanako flinch.

When Hisao walked into the room, he strode across the room to his desk, passing right by Maeda without a single glance, and giving Valeth the same courtesy, though he paused to give Kapur a quick pat on the shoulder. He and Maeda had never gotten along, instead seeming to share a mutual dislike, but he and Arai sat in the same row with Kapur, and Hanako often noticed them sharing a laugh or two during class. For what it was worth, Hisao would probably take Arai's side, and he might convince Emi to do so as well. The legless runner girl maintained a standing invitation to help Arai get in shape, after all, though that may only have been extended because he approached Miura first.

Soon after Hisao's arrival, Shizune and Misha burst through the door with all the subtlety of a pack of elephants. Both cast speculative glances at the injured boy as they passed, but neither showed any sign of being surprised or concerned, and Shizune really just looked annoyed. The speed at which word traveled around Yamaku still amazed Hanako at times, though Lilly had probably informed them of the facts after she left the previous evening. A quick nod and a determined squint from the Class President indicated that much was true, and gave Hanako a little burst of confidence; if the student government took Arai's side, that would mean something to the school-board, so Hanako actually felt more optimistic for a brief moment.

That was until Mutou stepped in, making it to his desk just as the carillon bells signaled the start of the school day; he didn't seem at all pleased with anything, though that was normal for him. The class quickly fell into a hush, turning their undivided attention on him almost immediately, though it wasn't out of any academic interest. Undoubtedly Nurse had already sent out an incident report to the faculty, and the class eagerly awaited news of Arai's fate. True to his social awkwardness, Mutou blanched a little at the scrutiny, but he had the benefit of an eight by eleven sheet of paper to hide behind. After clearing his throat, and in a voice akin to his monotonous scientific lectures, he began reading aloud, directly from the report in his hand.

“Last evening, as you may already have heard, an incident occurred in the school library involving three of your studen- Err... your fellow students,” he began, tugging his shirt collar and blowing out a sigh at his flub before continuing, “Taro Arai, Takashi Maeda and Lezard Valeth have all given statements on the incident, and Mister Arai has been sequestered in his dorm room until an inquest can be assembled...”

Hanako's shoulders slumped at hearing that, even though she had expected as much—at least they hadn't simply expelled him immediately. Meanwhile the class sucked in a gasp, and a few speculative comments started floating up from different corners of the room. Annoyed by the outburst, Mutou cleared his throat loudly and patted the air to hush the crowd.

“In the interim,” he continued, still reading from the report, “school business will be carried out as per normal, and all extracurricular activities will progress as deemed...” Trailing off and stopping there, Mutou rolled his eyes, then crumpled up the paper and tossed it unceremoniously over his shoulder—evidently it was too dry and boring even for him.

“Everything is normal, nothing important to see here, basically,” he said, rolling his eyes again, “You all know the drill... School goes on like normal, except Mister Arai isn't here, of course... and we're just supposed to ignore what happened until the board figures out what to do—sound fair?”

The break from protocol shocked a few of her neighbors into dumb stares, but Hanako nodded along with the majority of her classmates. There really wasn't anything anyone could do about the Arai situation, at least not anyone without witness information, or a crystal ball, so, rationally, all there was for most anyone to do was wait for the dust to settle. In the wake of his declaration, Mutou let the class have a few moments to get the commentary out of their system, during which Naomi gave Hanako a tug on her uniform sleeve.

“We're putting it on the front page,” Naomi whispered, and Hanako turned slightly to see the grim smile on her face, “Come help us get the typesetting redone after class?”

A sigh of relief escaped her lips before Hanako gave a quick nod and replied, “I will... and Th-thanks...”

“Takashi's a dick—Lezard, too,” Naomi added, still wearing that grim smile, “At the very least, they aren't getting wedding invites...!” It took all her fortitude for Hanako to bite back the laugh at that declaration; Natsume and Naomi had actually started those lesbianism rumors to discourage would-be suitors.

“Okay, that's enough,” Mutou stated, which silenced the murmuring voices as he turned to Maeda, “If your swelling gets worse, don't hesitate to ask for leave.”

In that moment, Hanako wasn't sure whether Mutou was just being courteous, or if he would have preferred that Takashi had left; she decided to hold out hope that her homeroom teacher didn't like him much either. After pausing a few beats to wait for Takashi's nod—the stilted motion of which nearly caused Hanako to snicker—Mutou turned and waved a hand across the class. “The rest of you open to page one-eighty-five, and find the paragraph starting with the word Causality,” he commanded, his voice going up in volume as he added, “And, no... This isn't a change in lesson plan, it's just a coincidence...”

~^~

Getting Natsume to go along with putting the editorial on the front page turned out to have been the easy part. Working into the night, which she didn't like coming sooner every day, Hanako had to completely restructure the entire layout of the twenty page newspaper in order to give her editorial its due significance—or so Naomi had said. They even ended up keeping the entire original alliterative title, and included an adorable image of Taro Arai from back during Tanabata wearing a bright blue yukata and a heartwarming smile. If seeing that and reading about Maeda and Valeth's horrible behavior didn't turn the whole school to Arai's side, Hanako didn't know what would.

As Hanako finished the last few alterations, and made a final pass to find typesetting errors, Naomi left to grab some snacks, and Natsume started gathering the paper and extra toner cartridges from the storage closet. Hunched over the keyboard with her tongue pressed against the corner of her mouth, Hanako didn't notice the sound of the door opening, nor the two shadowy figures stepping up behind her, until it was almost too late. Noticing their reflections in her long-since-emptied can of coffee, she spun around and let out a nervous yelp before managing to calm down and extend a proper greeting.

“Hi, M-Misha,” she said, then nodded toward Shizune, trying to fumble through a signed greeting that probably translated as, [My hand says good morning.]

In response, Shizune offered a slight bow and smiled as she signed a reply, which Misha translated almost in unison. “Hello, Hana-chan~!” she beamed, which probably wasn't exactly what Shizune had signed, “Where's Natsume? We were about to head home for some sleep, but wanted to check in and make sure you finished in time~!”

Pointing toward the lighted closet on the far end of the room, Hanako replied, “Getting t-toner and paper—we're about r-ready to start p-printing.”

“Natsume~! Need a hand~?” Misha called, which drew the bespectacled girl out after just a moment—she had probably heard them arrive.

“We could,” Natsume replied, leaning against the door as she brushed a few strands of hair off her forehead, “We still have to get things printed, collated and bound up—extra hands would be welcome!”

Misha signed everything for Shizune, who replied with a brisk nod—they had figured as much, Hanako assumed. That settled, Natsume beckoned Misha over to assist with the supplies while Shizune crouched down to keep an eye out for any mistakes Hanako might have missed. Having her looming over her shoulder put her on edge, but the pleased smile on Shizune's face never changed, even when Hanako had to fix a broken line on page five; either she hadn't noticed it, or she simply thought Hanako catching the error was enough. The lack of complaints was probably a compliment of sorts, Hanako thought; she had no doubt Shizune would have read her the riot act—or written her the riot act, as it were—had she skipped repairing that line.

Later, as Shizune and Misha both lent their hands to assist with collating, folding and stapling the Yamaku Monthly Reader together, Hanako felt compelled to ask why they had gotten so involved. At first she thought she'd done something terribly wrong because the Class President was eerily still after Misha translated the question; the fact that Misha didn't answer for herself was troubling, though not unexpected—she had kind of sneered when Hanako mentioned Takashi. Meanwhile, Shizune took up a blank page and started writing out a response; apparently she didn't want to relay her explanation back through Misha. The reason why was another matter entirely, which became apparent as Hanako took the paper and started reading.

[Valeth and Arai have never really bothered me, aside from their being somewhat lazy—not to mention both have a higher than average frequency of inadequately explained truancy! However, Maeda has wandering eyes, and I've caught him leering at Shiina, myself, and a number of other female classmates on numerous occasions. After my cousin relayed your account of the altercation, I extrapolated that Maeda's behavior has become potentially dangerous, and Valeth seems to share his deviancy. Now that I've read your complete editorial, I think Valeth may be the root of it, actually.]

Hanako paused there to glance toward Shizune, who had gone back to collating without even waiting for her to finish. The analytical way in which she had described Maeda's leering didn't do much to hide the underlying pathos; he had been leering at her, and especially her friend, and she didn't like that. It was as good of a reason as any, and a very human one at that. Perhaps Hanako should have expected that, especially considering how close Shizune and Misha seemed, but it felt out of character for Shizune to base her actions on something almost entirely emotional. Either way, the thought of Shizune defending Misha like that, and Arai by proxy, placed a smile on Hanako's face as she continued reading.

[Thus, supporting your campaign to highlight the virtuosity of and reverse the accusations against Arai became an endeavor of paramount importance. With some solidarity from the student body, including additional accounts of their character, it should be simple enough to shift the blame from Arai onto the deceptive perpetrators: Valeth and Maeda. Seeing them mollified for their transgressions would go a long way toward improving school morale... and don't think I haven't noticed the real reason behind your supporting Taro Arai so vehemently—your heart and mind functioning so in concert is quite inspiring.]

That last bit gave Hanako pause, though mostly because she didn't know what Shizune was talking about; her reasons for helping Arai were completely rational and platonic, not romantic. In any case, if what Shizune had written were true, then Maeda's behavior had precedent, so painting him as the provocateur might not be quite so difficult, and, if nothing else, that gave Hanako another reason to stay hopeful. Turning up to find Shizune casting her a quick glance, she almost forgot herself and went to respond verbally, but stopped before uttering a word and started writing a note on the back of the same paper instead.

Handing the note over, Hanako gave a few quick nods toward Misha, then watched as Shizune read her brief reply, [Thanks for the support, and the kind words. As for your real reason for helping: I won't tell Misha if you don't tell Taro.]

Shizune narrowed her eyes for just a moment, probably at reading the mild threat, though Hanako had mostly written it as a joke—it didn't matter whether Shizune knew that, though. Instead of writing a biting reply as Hanako expected, Shizune simply smiled evenly, nodded respectfully and went back to her work stacking the newspaper pages together. That kind of calm deference probably carried a deeper meaning, especially from the typically competitive Class President, but Hanako decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth—it was almost Christmas, after all.

When Shizune stood up a few minutes later, Hanako wondered if she was about to find herself on the receiving end of a lecture, or a challenge, but she let out a sigh of relief when she heard the paper shredder chewing through their note. It seemed Shizune didn't want to leave any evidence of her irrational rationale, which Hanako only then realized could have made for quite an eye-opening story, but anything put through that shredder was, at best, unsalvageable. As Shizune returned to her seat, Hanako endured curious looks from both Naomi and Natsume, but she had a big stack of papers she could focus on until they gave up their staring—not to mention a potential exposé on the infamous Class President.

The evening moved along with only a few paper cuts to interrupt the silence. Shizune's presence curtailed the typically more talkative process of piecing the newspaper together, but nobody complained—or they were waiting until she left, at least. Even with the added help, it still took almost until midnight to finish. Although, considering they had to restructure all twenty pages, the fact that they still managed to get all three-hundred copies folded together and ready for delivery was quite the holiday miracle. That kind of miraculous result usually inspired a bit of celebratory cheering which it did, and Natsume got up from her chair to go fetch something from the filing cabinet.

As she watched Natsume having to physically stop herself, Hanako tensed up and shot a look at Naomi, who looked no less panicked for once. Natsume kept a bottle of scotch in there that they had used in previous celebratory toasts, and it was so automatic she almost pulled it straight out in front of the Class President; Shizune most definitely would not approve. Apparently thinking quickly, instead Natsume used the motion to grab a bag of Sunchips she kept next to the bottle, and Hanako breathed a sigh of relief along with Naomi. Misha seemed curious about their actions—they all tensed up at seeing Natsume grabbing a bag of chips, after all—but thankfully didn't ask any questions.

“That was close,” Naomi whispered after Natsume sat back down.

Hanako nodded and replied, “Too close!”

“Sunchips anyone?” Natsume asked, holding out the open bag, trying to sell the deception with an innocent smile, “They're baked, not friend!”

Soon after that near-debacle, which Hanako wasn't convinced they had gotten away with completely, the five girls went their separate ways. All of them generally headed for their dorms, though everyone seemed to go by a different route. Misha and Shizune cut through the school, probably to avoid the cold, while Natsume and Naomi went straight outside, and Hanako took the long route leading past the classrooms. As she walked, Hanako entertained a fantasy that after the second year newspaper club members made their deliveries, the rumor mill would be churning out tales of Taro's heroics by midday. There was hope in Hanako's heart, and something in the wintry air besides freezing temperatures and biting wind—something inexplicable.

Whether it was the season, or the camaraderie, or something else entirely, it made her feel hopeful. She believed her plan—their plan—actually had a chance of working, so, after barely managing to slip into her nightgown, she crawled into bed, and it only took a few minutes before she drifted off to sleep. Inspired by that inexplicable feeling, or maybe just because she hoped everything would turn out okay, Hanako dreamed of sharing a toast with Taro in front of the holiday tree. Even in her dream she didn't entertain any delusions, but some small part of her wondered if what she felt was more than a desire to help her cherubic classmate out of a jam—maybe Shizune was more perceptive than Hanako had thought.
________________________________________________________________
Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7
Last edited by Helbereth on Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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hyroglyphixs
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Re: Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Post by hyroglyphixs » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:05 pm

I really like this story so far! Hanako seems a little too confident, but as long as the story is great I don't care at all :P
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bhtooefr
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Re: Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Post by bhtooefr » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:19 pm

A couple typos I noticed... Hanaoko and Madea. (Find and replace will get them at least.)

And how did she exactly get the confidence to stop relying on Lilly so much and get to this point?

Is the gossip column thing her trying to exact payback on her bullies from elementary and middle school? Otherwise, she's smart enough to know that it's hypocritical as fuck and not want to inflict that pain on people, and I think even your Hanako would have that come to mind.

And, as far as the article, I could see her wishing she did some of this (right up to and including smearing Takashi and Lezard on the front page of the paper), but not actually getting past her anxiety.

Also, yep, I totally called Hanako x Taro. (Hanako showed no signs of any feelings other than maybe negative for Takashi after chapter 1, and everything positive was for Taro.) I could actually see that ship happening, although I could also see her resisting it with all of her willpower if the thought ever crossed her mind of pitying Taro for his weight, because she wouldn't want him to pity her for her scars.
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Helbereth
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Re: Yule Tide Yamaku - The Yamaku Reader Story

Post by Helbereth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 11:42 pm

bhtooefr wrote:And how did she exactly get the confidence to stop relying on Lilly so much and get to this point?
It was already happening by the end of July in Lilly's route, so I extrapolated perhaps a longer time-table on her coming out of the shell a little more, but figured her involvement with the newspaper club, any way it happened, was triggered by Natsume and or Naomi, rather than herself. They still would have requested her help at some point, and there's a little bit of a hint about her and Hisao becoming friends anyway in my narrative--they trade books, and so on--so the bit of confidence she attained from that friendship would have helped her agree with the request from the newspaper club.

As for this point in the story, it's the end of December--a full five months later. If she was already moving toward coming out of her shell with the little bit of help from Hisao, adding Natsume and Naomi would have helped that along, and Lilly's eventual reconciliation with Shizune made things go even faster; in my version of the Emi-verse, Lilly stays at Yamaku at least partially because Hanako still needs her help. She refuses her father's summons based on that, and wanting to finish school in a familiar place, so she's still around, but as Hanako became more social she has slipped into the background a little more.
Is the gossip column thing her trying to exact payback on her bullies from elementary and middle school? Otherwise, she's smart enough to know that it's hypocritical as fuck and not want to inflict that pain on people, and I think even your Hanako would have that come to mind.
It's sort of not by choice, in case that wasn't obvious from the way it's written. She does the gossip column because Natsume asked her to, and because she has an easy time staying in the background, finding herself overhearing things when people don't realize she's there--like fights in the library. She would rather write more important things, but she's on sort of a low rung on the ladder in terms of journalistic chops, so she does what they ask.
And, as far as the article, I could see her wishing she did some of this (right up to and including smearing Takashi and Lezard on the front page of the paper), but not actually getting past her anxiety.
I flatly disagree. I think if someone spent that long being repressed and developed anxiety bordring on panic attacks, and perhaps developed a stutter--especially someone with such a favorable interest in literature--they could, and or would, start expressing themselves through writing, and with much greater ease. Hello personal experience, how d'ya do!?
Also, yep, I totally called Hanako x Taro. (Hanako showed no signs of any feelings other than maybe negative for Takashi after chapter 1, and everything positive was for Taro.) I could actually see that ship happening, although I could also see her resisting it with all of her willpower if the thought ever crossed her mind of pitying Taro for his weight, because she wouldn't want him to pity her for her scars.
When I started writing, about all the idea I had was Hanako carrying the packages, and it went from that straight to the ending (as yet unpublished) without any of the preceding intrigue and or pathos (all this literary gobbledygook) explaining how they reached that point. That was largely because, at the time, I figured I couldn't go into much detail in the time I had (seven days 'til Christmas), but, then I realized I was me and this 30,000 (some odd) word story happened. Anyway, I still have writing to finish (I fell asleep for four hours) so I'll answer any other comments later.

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