Gravity: A Molly Pseudo- Pseudo Route. Updated as of 08/01/2019

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Zerebos
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Re: Gravity-Molly pseudo route [09/07/16]

Post by Zerebos » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:58 pm

I just recently discovered this, and I'm absolutely loving this story! Not only is your writing fantastic, I feel like your depiction of Molly is so unique and with such a mysterious background that I just can't get enough of her!

Edible_Funk
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Re: Gravity-Molly pseudo route [09/07/16]

Post by Edible_Funk » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:47 am

Finally caught up. Love me some Molly. Good work.

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Craftyatom
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Re: Gravity-Molly pseudo route [09/07/16]

Post by Craftyatom » Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:21 am

Well, it's been over 2 years since I last posted on this story (just after ch1), but I wanted to re-read this given all the updates it's had, and here we are.

This fic started out kind of poor in my books because of its spelling errors - first two scenes are riddled with 'em. Not that they necessarily detract from the story per se, but I find it very difficult to let them go in the middle of reading. They're immersion-breakers for me, if that makes sense. Anyways, Brythian completely nipped that in the bud, so from the third scene onward everything reads much smoother.

With that out of the way, I'll say that the early scenes also didn't really appeal to me because of the intense levels of banter - nothing necessarily wrong with that, it makes sense that four friends kind of joke around, but sometimes it felt a bit overdone. That said, I'm no good at that kind of interaction irl, let alone writing it, so I'd consider this more of a personal preference than an actual flaw with your characterization.

That said, the situation changed over time, and the closer Hisao and Molly got, the less banter we got and the more each conversation seemed to make sense to me. I guess I'm just a sucker for romance - but you've done an incredible job with it, so I'm happy nonetheless. I felt like the transition from friendship to relationship was well-done, too, but at the same time it's hard to tell because literally everyone (except Mutou, thank heavens) was pushing the protagonists as a "thing" from day one. Again, not necessarily wrong, but it got a bit tiring after a while, in my opinion.

The only other problem I really had with this fic was the way Molly and Hisao were handled in terms of how smart they were. I absolutely love nerdy romance, but I feel like the extent to which you played up the intelligence of the protagonists was a bit too much - they're too smart. I'm not saying they should be dumb, I love that they're both big into science, but the whole "they answer every problem completely correct in record time" is too much. I was momentarily excited to see a line about biology being Molly's "worst science", hoping that she'd actually get some flaws in the intellect department, but she turned out to still be a super star student anyways who just found biology boring. Point is, just because Hisao and Molly are smart doesn't mean they're genius-level, and even then, they shouldn't be as incredibly well-rounded and proficient as they are. No idea if anyone else cared about this, it might just be me, but it felt wrong, in my opinion.

Anyways, having covered all of the bits and pieces I didn't like, I want to stress that I loved coming back and re-reading this. I can't say I enjoyed every paragraph, but that's a ridiculous bar to try and hit, so trust me when I say that you've done a great job so far. The romance is fantastic, the backstory you've given Molly seems well-planned and adds to the story, and your writing is great, especially with a proofreader. I know as well as anyone how much life can get in the way of writing, so no worries about the timing of releases, but I'll be here to get excited about updates as they come!
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Brief Exchanges, Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Re: Gravity-Molly pseudo route [09/07/16]

Post by Oddball » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:37 pm

This is a good story. Molly comes across as very adorable adn Taro is likewise a strong character.

Suzu tends to be a bit more inconsistent. Sometimes she's a good friend with just some bad manners or habits sometimes she seems to crank it up to megabitch. It's hard to feel like she's a good person that they want to hang around.

The relationship moved along nicely, a bit fast at first, but no deal breaker. It also doesn't feel like a retread of anything else, which is nice. Even having Emi coming across as unlikable was well played.

I do wish we knew more about Rika breaking up the old student council though. That seems like it deserves a fic of its own.
Not Dead Yet

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Path
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Re: Gravity-Molly pseudo route [09/07/16]

Post by Path » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:37 pm

So i finally got around to read your fic after ignoring it since when I posted mine. Main reason was I thought it would be the same fic and for the most part that is not the case besides a few things, just flipped with how Molly feels about her parents and her brother I think. Which is funny to see how both our fics will play out about that.

Anyways, back to your fic. I like it every word i read and was engaged by the banter between the four characters, while some just seem like banter to be banter, that happens, so its not a bad thing. Suzu being a bitch, lack of better word, is neat and the way she uses Taro, despite having return feelings for adds to it besides "I'm using him cause I can." Taro is neat as well, seems like a bro to Hisao and overall good guy. Any time Taro is in a fic, it's cool how he is interpreted. Looking forward to seeing how those two develop from fuck buddys to couple, if it goes there.

Your Hisao is neat in that he has some layers beside the game version of him being sad because life. His home life seems like a mystery here and in game, but adding glimpses of it and asking question on his stand with his folks. Plus his attempts of being quip is nice and awesome when it falls flat. It kind of reminds me of Suzu version of him but its been forever since i read that one, so i might be off by a lot.

And now to the main character of your fic, Molly. I like her and her geekiness about science, tho it flies over my head sometimes, but thats me not good with science terms. Her trauma is interesting and like I wrote earlier, the family problem is almost the same but reverse on the parent for our fics. Looking forward t seeing how it plays out more after seeing Molly told Hisao about her mother's one night stand.And her Brother? playing a part to her losing her legs i think, is gonna be interesting how it plays out if thats what i think happened, tho i am not good at predicting stuff. In short , I like your Mollly a lot and her point system is adorable.

I like your fic a lot and ignoring it this long made me like it more, seeing what you wrote compared to mine, and seeing the similarities is few but funny to see we had the same ideas. Keep up the good work and looking forward to your next chap, whenever it drops.

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Re: Gravity-Molly pseudo route [09/07/16]

Post by PKMNthiefChris » Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:54 pm

I started reading this awhile ago but got side tracked by something else at the time, something unimportant like dinner probably. Since I had to call in sick today I sat down and read the whole thing and I gotta say, it's excellent. I like your characterization of all four of your main cast. And I'm as curious about Hisao's past as I am Molly's. Indeed we probably know more, not much more but more, about Molly's past then his at this point. I've seen people saying their relationship moved a bit quickly but I kinda disagree despite seeing where they're coming from. People can develop interest quickly and if that interest is reciprocated quickly the relationship will move quickly. Molly herself acknowledges they don't know a lot about each other yet, but they're both trying to learn and to show. Mr. Kapur seems like a dick to put it bluntly and if this had gone further I'm betting a confrontation (on some level) would've happened sooner or later. I was kinda blind sided by the "Suzu as a bitch" thing but that's just because my head canon is different having been influenced by multiple other fics. The strife there with her and Taro was... interesting. Despite her explanation being sympathetic it doesn't sound like she ever said this to him. So his remarks on her using him and, well, being a bitch are fair, if not accurate. She is using him, even if it's not entirely intended that way.

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Blueshift PT1

Post by Feurox » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:50 pm

Act 1

Blueshift
PT1

“I wasn’t, not that it matters!” Taro protests, trying to remain composed despite his embarrassment. The seriousness of his attempt, and Suzu’s playfully crossed arms, force me to suppress a laugh.

In all honesty, I don’t think Taro even paid any attention to the girl we’re accusing him of ogling; his flustered, sweating, denial is just too humorous to end prematurely.

“I’m with Suzu, I saw you.” Fuelling Taro’s frustration, whilst cruel, is pretty fun. Suzu gives me a wink and stifles a laugh of her own as Taro’s face meets the palm of his hand.

“I don’t even know what she looks like.” His voice is barely audible over the general chatter of the cafeteria, but it doesn’t help that his tone has become increasingly resigned, like he’s speaking through gritted teeth.

“Well, you weren’t staring at her face.” Suzu’s comment causes me to finally lose it. In my attempt to stifle the laugh, I end up snorting and coughing, drawing the attention of the table opposite, though they go back to their food near enough immediately. Suzu tries to give me a stern look, but she ends up caving as well, joining me in my laughter as Taro lifts his head from his hands with a slow, confused, look.

Suzu has a really pretty laugh, but it always feels tempered by something, like she’s holding herself back. It’s deliberate of course; intense bouts of any emotion could trigger her condition and cause her to lose control of her limbs. It took me a long time to get used to that laugh; it always felt like she wasn’t really laughing. To some extent, I guess she never really is – her mind is always concerned with something more important.

“Asshats.” Taro tries to confront us seriously, but ends up joining our laughter and wheezing appropriately. Hey, what did he call us?

It’s a bit difficult to tease Taro. He’s rarely a sensitive person, save for a few things, and he usually shrugs things off that would cause me to shrivel in embarrassment. From my experience, only two things work to truly embarrass him – girls, and his weight. Obviously, I only tease him about one of those things, though I can’t say the same for Suzu. Still, he usually takes things in his stride – he’s wearing his stupid bright smile again despite us laughing at him. He’s defiant like that. I think it’s probably why we love him so much.

“You guys about done?” I’m not sure if Taro is referring to our breakfasts or our laughter, but from the way he glances at his watch I guess it doesn’t matter. I take a look at my own, fingering the leather strap to get the angle right as I do.

It takes the three of us some effort to get up from the cafeteria table. Suzu swings her legs out from beneath it effortlessly, but myself and Taro take slightly longer as usual. For Taro, the process involves straddling the bench with one leg, dragging his slung arm from the surface of the table until it drops off of it, then swinging around in his entirety. For me, the lifting is in the arms. I push myself upright from the bench seat, and shimmy along between the seat and the table until I’m out at the end. We each pick up our bags and join the crowd surging towards classes.

It feels unusually busy this morning as we join the throng of people hobbling, wheeling and walking towards their classes. Normally there’s only a handful of people eating breakfast, most choosing to opt in for an extra hour of sleep instead of waking up so early. Today, however, Suzu was already awake and waiting for me outside my room, tapping her foot impatiently and beaming from ear to ear beneath her sea-green mop of hair, and the smell of food, cooking and cooked, slipped out from beneath the double doors as we approached, I could have sworn she started floating like in those cartoons.

I have a pretty good idea why she was awake so early. Her hair was messy, the sleeves of her blouse were pretty crumpled, as though they had been put on hurriedly before she came here. Regardless, she decided to join myself and Taro for breakfast; the awkward, timid, smile the two exchanged confirmed my suspicions as they pretended it was their first meeting of the morning. The thought made me smile, and grimace in equal parts.

“Hey, can we take the lift? My leg’s killing me.” Suzu asks, tapping the brace on her leg as she does. I’m in no position to complain at the request, and neither is Taro. The Yamaku staff discourages using the elevators unless absolutely necessary, and even with her injury, Suzu could use the stairs. For a school built to accommodate the physically disabled, Yamaku has a surprisingly small number of elevators, and the philosophy seems to be that they belong to the wheelchair kids. I think between Suzu’s leg brace, and my own lack of legs at all, we have a good enough reason to skip the stairs today.

Just as we come in sight of the elevator, we see the doors close and a group of who I presume to be second years – with all their limbs still functional and attached – are whisked up to the higher floors. Some disabilities at Yamaku aren’t always visible, but the cynic in me can easily see them as lazy. Taro is already at the panel, repeatedly pressing the elevator call button and beckoning Suzu and me to come over, as if it will come quicker by doing so.

“You know that won’t make it come any faster, right?” I ask.

“I know, but it’s therapeutic,” his eyes go from mine to my legs and back again. A smile crosses his lips like he’s had an epiphany, “You’re a priority passenger! We should have express elevator privileges.” He gives my prosthetics a kick in each shin, gently, even though I won’t feel it and they give a small thud. He’s likely worried he’ll be too forceful and tip me over. He’s done that before.

I offer him a laugh, shoving him gently as I do. “Not likely, they’ve seen me use the stairs enough by now.”

“Rats.” All three of us laugh as the elevator finally arrives and a member of the nursing staff steps out, pushing a student in a wheelchair before him. We let him through, and he bows his head in thanks. The boy in the wheelchair is asleep, or, dead.

It’s probably the less morbid of those options.

I remember first arriving at Yamaku. I never thought I’d get used to that kind of sight. Half-people everywhere. It felt like I was a member of an exclusive freaks club; each member ranked in terms of what was wrong with them, how long they had left, that kind of thing. I don’t know when I stopped being shocked at seeing other people like me, people with missing limbs or broken parts. It might have been the same time I stopped being shocked whenever I looked down – when I started feeling, or rather, thinking I was feeling, the ground beneath me once again. Eventually I wasn’t the girl missing her legs, and the girl beside me wasn’t the cataplexic narcoleptic, but Suzu Suzuki, my best friend.

We file into the elevator and I press the button, taking us up to the third floor with some time to spare before classes. Not that we’re early or anything, it’s just that our homeroom teacher is usually about five minutes late.

When the three of us file into room 3-3, a few heads rise from their arm-desk pillows or their conversations to see us, before promptly returning to their original positions. The student council president, Shizune, looks up at us and back down to her watch; it’s pretty obvious she’s unhappy with how fine we’ve cut the time before classes, but she doesn’t say anything, uh, sign anything for Misha to say. Shizune is deaf so Misha interprets for her, usually missing the tone of what she was meant to deliver. It makes for somewhat amusing listening if you’re not on the receiving end of Shizune’s tirade.

Taro pats me on the head as he passes on his way to the back of the class. You’d think Suzu would sleep in class the most, given her narcolepsy, but whenever I glance behind me, he’ll be sitting with his mouth open, eyes closed. Sometimes he snores which is hilarious, and I can’t help but wonder how Misha would translate that into sign.

I take my own seat, right at the front opposite the teacher’s desk. Suzu’s made all the teacher’s pet jokes there are to make regarding that. It suits my character apparently. Luckily, it’s also right next to the window – keeping me warm in the sunlight and entertained during some of the less stimulating lessons, like English. Ew.

There’re still a few minutes until class is set to begin; two until it’s meant to and five more until it usually does. Without much else to do, I pull out my physics workbook. You stay on top of these things by constantly revisiting and repeating them, as my mother says. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t bother for a subject like biology or literature studies, but physics deserves my attention. The body might be interesting, but it’s fragile. Many of the kids in this very class are a testament to that. I’d rather worry about what could be, not what I know already is. There’s only so much here, at Yamaku.

I fill out some of the equations we covered in class last week, stealing glances to the door in between thoughts and pencil strokes. Suzu’s got her head in her arms to my right, presumably asleep, and Lezard, who sits between me and Suzu, is spinning his pen over his fingers, It’s… mesmerising.

Despite my intentions, I get lost in Lezard’s dexterity. He notices me looking and gives me a smirk. What an ass. He’s about to say something presumably obnoxious, when the door opens and our dishevelled teachers enters, late as usual.

What’s unusual is the new guy who follows him inside. He looks awkward. I immediately give him the Yamaku standard check: Arms? Yup. Legs? Check. Head? Well, you’d think so. Torso? Looks normal enough. Face, ears, mouth, nose, eyes? Check, check, yep, check and check, pretty handsome too in a cute, nervous way. Green across the board – the most intriguing of Yamaku student.

Despite its pretences, Yamaku is a school like any other and rumour rears its black feathery head constantly. For students without an obvious deformity, a sort of guessing game takes place among us all, whether we admit it or not. With each week it’s unknown another, usually awful, condition fills in the blank. I can already imagine the resident gossipers at the back of the class speculating and ruminating on the list of terrible conditions that he might suffer from.

Our teacher, Mutou, clears his throat and the atmosphere of the class changes visibly. The air goes still, and approximately eighteen glances look the new guy up and down, performing the same checks I did. A guilty pleasure of us all. Something feels different than usual; our class is predominantly girls, and there’s no use beating around the bush - the new guy is attractive. A bit of his hair sticks up at the front annoyingly, but his eyes are big and warm, his face is thin and serious, like a survivor – maybe he’s diabetic like Ikuno, another girl in our class who sometimes has a face like that. I don’t like wondering; I’d rather just know. I shake away the speculation and listen to the new guy’s introduction with my eyes looking out the window onto the Yamaku grounds.

I can almost feel the examinations he’s getting from the student council terror couple behind me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Miki, the resident track star of 3-3, was eyeing him up as well. There’s only one spare seat in class, behind me. Advantage: Student council.

He doesn’t mention anything telling. Nothing like, “Hi I’m dying of an incurable disease so please don’t get too used to me.”

His name is Hisao Nakai, and I find myself making a mental note of that even as he passes me to the duo behind. It’s a nice name. As far as names go, I like it.

With a task written onto the chalkboard, and the dragging of Lezard and Suzu’s respective desks towards my own, I lose myself in the group work that’s set and the scratching of graphite.

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

The bell for lunch rings, pointlessly, since pretty much everyone in class clocked out mentally about five minutes ago. Still, the official okay sends chairs screeching away from their desks and Mutou gives everyone a slightly disappointed look as they file out eagerly, before returning to the stack of papers on his desk. I notice the new guy leave with Shizune and Misha, poor dude, and pretty shortly after Taro comes over and leans on my desk whilst Suzu talks to the others by the door.

I get up in the usual motion, swinging round and out. Taro is looking thoughtful which is normally a bad thing – he’s scratching his chin with his unslung arm. Oh boy…

“A new guy, didn’t think we’d be getting another of those so soon after Lelouch.”

I shrug as I stand up with my bag, “Do you think he’ll escape the claws of the student council?”

From across the room, the aforementioned Lelouch scoffs at us. He must have been listening to our conversation. The barrier between their kinds of communication, and evidently Lelouch’s lacking interest in joining the council, quickly eroded that relationship. If we find Nakai, we’d better give him the best advice we can offer:

Run.

Maybe he can’t run, he seemed to walk fine but… actually I’m not exactly a runner myself.

Hobble. Hobble like hell new guy. Godspeed. Lightspeed. Actually, I wonder which is faster… Whatever speed you can manage new guy. Nakai-speed.

“Molls.” Huh? Oh. Suzu’s tapping her foot at me again. “Come on, daylight’s burning! If I spend another minute in this classroom, I’m going to… you don’t want to know.”

I really do, but she doesn’t give me time to ask as she heads out into the corridor, waving Taro and Lelouch along to the cafeteria. We take it in turns to buy one another food, it’s a roulette of sorts. The food doesn’t offer much in terms of selection, or, uh, quality, but surprising one-another keeps lunch at least a little interesting.

It’s also pretty convenient since Suzu wants to take the lift again and it’s pretty slow moving, giving Taro and Lelouch plenty of time to buy our food. We get inside and press the ground floor button. Today is feeling particularly odd. Everything is moving in slow motion.

“You know, you missed the knew kid’s introduction.” I mention, filling in the time as the numbers go from 3 to 2 to - oh come on; It’s one floor It shouldn’t take this long!

“Sort of, I was half-awake. I couldn’t lift my head, you know how it is. I heard, though.”

The doors open slowly, and out we go into the busy corridor again, against the current that feeds into the cafeteria behind us. It’s a struggle but we work our way upstream, until eventually, holding Suzu by the hand, we break out into the great Yamaku outdoors. “Great” is a bit of an overstatement, but it is quite nice today. There’re a few benches dotted around outside, but most are already occupied. I know where Suzu wants to sit; she’s got a “comfort hill” as she calls it, just shy of the path from the main entrance. Sure enough, we find the spot unoccupied and take our seats unhurriedly. I think part of our friendship has stemmed from our generally slower pace. Sure, Suzu can be energetic, but her condition usually means she’s either being careful, or she’s too exhausted or actually asleep to be active. I don’t really mind – it feels nice to sit with her, even if the conversation is sometimes one way because she’s fallen asleep, or gotten lost in her own mind.

“Molly!” The click of her fingers ground me again. God, I’m a hypocrite. Suzu shakes her head in frustration. Crap, I feel kind of bad for ignoring her before. “We were talking about the new guy!”

Oh yeah! “Did you manage to get a good look at him?” I ask.

“Sort of, he had a cute butt.”

“Suzu!” She laughs at my mock outrage, but I lean in and whisper, “You’re right though.” That sends her giggling.

It feels nice to talk about boys with Suzu, it’s so reassuringly normal, I think that’s what Yamaku’s all about.

“You damn hypocrite!” I’m laughing too. Even in its oddness, Suzu’s laugh is contagious. I flick her on the forehead. She rubs the spot I flicked and lays down onto the hill we’re sitting on with her eyes closed, sighing as she does.

There’s usually a sort of ‘wind-down’ period when Suzu’s narcolepsy kicks in. Her body turns off kind of rapidly, her limbs droop and then drop, usually with just enough time for her to sit down safely. It took some getting used to, but now her episodes are kind of a part of the routine, as is turning off for a little while alongside her. There are things that can help to keep her awake, but those things should be done sparingly, since they’re more likely to trigger a cataplexy attack, which is worse.

“Damn, is the party already over?” Taro asks from behind us, and I have to crane my neck backwards to see him. Damn, the sun’s bright, Taro can you – yeah, that’s it. His frame budges over and blocks out the sun.

I’m a bit hurt that Suzu is the life of the proverbial party. I’m the party!

“Am I not enough for you?” I ask, only now realising I still had my left eye closed from the sunlight, but I didn’t need to.

“You’re plenty good,” Taro says. Lelouch appears from behind him, and beside him there’s… I’ve got to squint again… It’s Lezard.

Great, like I didn’t have enough of him in class.

I don’t mean too, but I feel my smile waver a little at seeing Lezard. Lelouch notices and smirks at me.

“Nao Feyighting nyow,” he stops smiling and closes his eyes. “Feyighting. Faiting. Fieyghting. Fieghtying.” It still makes me sad to hear him struggling like that. I guess there are some things that take more adjusting then others– going from speaking without struggle to wrestling with every word must be terrifying; apparently, he used to quite a good singer too.

“Hey Lou, you’re not the new guy anymore!” I might be a bit transparent in my attempt to distract him, but I don’t like hearing Lelouch get worked up over this stuff. I guess it worked, because he’s smiling again.

“Pyoor Nyakai.” The guys laugh and take their seats beside me and Suzu respectively. She’s still asleep, so Taro leaves the food he bought beside her gently. He’s usually a very clumsy and forceful person, he’s even been nicknamed the human battering ram for when the door in the guys common room gets stuck, but with Suzu he’s always light as a feather. It’s cute, and you’d have to be blind not to see the chemistry between them.

That’s not really funny I guess, because lots of kids here are blind.

You know what, I stand by it.

See that’s also funny.

Lunch continues with the usual small talk, and Lelouch hands me my food. He’s gotten better at surprising me. Today’s treat is curry bread, and as far as the cafeteria food goes it’s quite nice. The four of us eat, with Lezard bragging about some stuff he probably didn’t even do last Sunday. Suzu wakes up and tells him to shut up, which is about as close as Lezard gets to being accepted in the group.

“You know, someone’s going to have to rescue him, right?” Taro asks, rubbing the crumbs from his mouth.

“Who?” His question takes me off guard. Who is he even talking about, we were talking about planes before.

“The new guy!” he responds, apparently it was obvious to him, “We can’t really let those two try and trick him into the student council.”

“It’s not really our business,” Lezard, ever-boring, responds patting crumbs from his legs. “Besides, those two will do a good enough job at driving him away.”

“What, they’ve been taking lessons from you have they?” Ouch, a zinger from Suzu.

“Ha. Funny.” Somehow, I get the feeling that he didn’t really find that funny at all. Somehow. “Maybe he’s into all the school duty stuff anyway, you never know.”

“I guess. We’ll see.” I reply.

It’s strange how the arrival of a new person at Yamaku stirs up things like this; factions are already vying for power over him and we only really know his name. It was the same with Lelouch, people got talking almost immediately. It likely didn’t hurt that he was nice to look at, Suzu and I were equally guilty of looking. For a while I thought things might – well, not really. It was pretty clear that someone already had their hooks in Lou by the time he’d started hanging out with us; in fact, I kind of suspect that it was that person that got him to reach out to Taro in the first place. It makes me feel a bit bad for the new guy. Being new makes you feel out of place – and nothing feels real.

With that, the five of us get up from the hill. It’s a bit of a struggle, but Lelouch offers me a helping hand that I take. I remember when I was getting used to my new legs, and how I never wanted to accept help. I’m glad I grew out of that; nobody should try to be something they’re not.

It doesn’t take us long to get back inside, Taro and Lezard take the elevator with Suzu. I don’t want to spend anymore time in there so opt for the stairs with Lelouch. He seems to be in good spirits despite his frustration earlier – like every day, even if only slightly, he gets closer to accepting himself.

The Yamaku Process strikes again.
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“You know, if you just shove it to the back of your throat it doesn’t taste awful.”

“You’ll choke if you do that Suzu,” I reply, trying and failing to not grimace as I take another bite of the noodles Taro made. Despite the rather pleasant smell, they taste terrible. “Are you sure you’re from a family of chefs and not undertakers?”

Suzu starts coughing with laughter and a spray of noodles fire from her mouth back into the tub, gross.

“I’m done! I’m done! I can’t do anymore I’m sorry Taro.” She pushes the tub away from her with her chopsticks. Poor Taro.

“You guys are terrible; I went through all this trouble for you - so what if I accidently used cloves instead of chilli.”

Pfft. No, no no no. I’m not doing this anymore.

I push my tub away, and Taro starts laughing. It’s no wonder he wouldn’t eat any! And to think I bought that lie about him having already eaten some, there’s so much damn food here you could feed everyone on campus. You know, if you were a psychopath. He grabs both tubs with his un-slung arm and deposits them in the bin behind with a satisfying crunch. Goodbye demon noodles. Goodbye.

The common room is unusually busy, as is the theme this week apparently. It seems that everyone at Yamaku has been caught in the furor of festival preparations. Even now, some of the more excitable first years gather around a laptop designing a menu for a noodle stall by committee. It’s hard not to smile at that, how different we feel now, how different we are.

I guess Taro notices me staring, since he puts his hand on my shoulder.

“You got plans for the festival yet, Molly?”

“Not really, I was just going to wander around until you two are done with the stall stuff.” Taro is, unfortunately, cooking for a rice stand and Suzu is… it’s some kind of game, I think. It’s a thing I won’t be visiting considering her lack of enthusiasm.

“I think Lezard might be free too,” Suzu teases, “You could do something romantic.”

“I’d rather eat the terrible noodles, thanks.” They laugh, and – oh damn what’s the time?

I pull the sleeve up on my jumper to look at my watch. Phew. I still have some time to get to the library; if I don’t try now, I know I never will. I need a book to finish the English homework we were set last week, and there’s no way I’ll ask Suzu for lessons again.

The two give me a weird look for standing up.

“Sorry, as much as I’m enjoying Taro’s torture, I’ve got to get to the library before it shuts.”

“A clandestine encounter with Lezard, I presume?” Thanks, Suzu.

“No, just giving you two some private time.”

“Hang on –“

“It ain’t –“

They both stop their sentences. What a strange pair. With a laugh and a wave, I head out from the common room and out of the girl’s dorms into the corridor, and the great outdoors.

It’s a golden evening with a cool breeze, peacefully serene. The gentle sway of the trees and the hum of chattering birds, the creatures of twilight coming alive. It doesn’t take me long to get from the girl’s dormitory to the main building but it’s nice to see it quiet again following the hubbub of the previous days -everything is still and calm. There’s enough going on as I enter the school to prevent it from being creepy, but the sounds are slow and hushed, matching the tempo of the evening. I pass room 3-1, where there’s some sort of club meeting on and various noises of chat and laughter emanate from within. It helps keep the school alive even when lessons have ended.

As I enter the library, I see Yuuko the librarian talking to a tall blonde girl. She’s normally a very timid person, but she looks genuinely calm talking to the girl. I vaguely know the blonde. Satou, I think. She’s the 3-2 class rep, and seeing as 3-2 is for the blind and visually impaired it’s safe to assume that she’s one of the two. Ha, seeing. That never stops being a ‘duh’ moment.

From somewhere in the library I hear a squirrelly noise – it came from the sitting section. Acting maybe on impulse, but also because the books I need are in that section, I head in the direction of the noise.

I immediately regret that decision.

I barely manage to avoid the girl barrelling towards me, her hair flying everywhere and her hand in front of her face, I don’t have to get a good look to recognise her. Ikezawa. If she hadn’t already passed, I’d ask if she was okay – but the sad truth is there’s no good in asking either, since she’ll rarely respond. Unlike Lelouch, she still hasn’t adjusted, or rather, she’s adjusted in a way so alien to me I can’t pretend to comprehend it. I find that frustrating more than anything. I don’t like not knowing.

I can’t help but wonder what’s gotten her so riled up as I continue past the shelves to the bean bag section –

Oh.

Things start to make a little more sense. Half in the bean bag and half out, the new guy looks like he’s just seen a ghost, or startled one, more fittingly. I can tell from his face he feels awful, even though he shouldn’t. It’s awkward, but I guess as far as introductions go this will have to be it. He looks like he’s about to say something.

“I, uh – she… I just said hello…” His voice is timid, like another thousand egg-shells have just been laid before him. Great. I bet that’s making the acclimation easier. Thanks, Ikezawa.

“Don’t worry about it, Lelouch made the same mistake earlier this year.”

“Is she okay?” He asks, tugging his shirt to straighten the creases that have come from standing up. It seems he’s noticed my lack of legs, as his eyes go down me and shoot back up again awkwardly.

“Yeah, well, everyone has a reason to be here, right? Some just handle it differently. Even some of the Yamaku veterans like Ikezawa struggle sometimes. Please don’t take it personally.”

He seems to relax a bit, if only a little, and he pretty much falls back into the bean bag. It must be exhausting being the new kid on the block, especially with pitfalls like that.

“Takes some getting used to, huh?” I ask, well aware that he’s feeling awkward and probably a bit guilty for what just happened.

“I just hope I do. Hisao, by the way, we’re in the same class I think.” I take my seat in the chair facing the bean bags. They’re pretty lethal for my prosthetics, and they’re so damn comfy I’d likely fall asleep if I managed to settle into one.

“Molly Kapur, and we are. It’s nice to finally meet you,” I hope that doesn’t sound like an accusation but he gives me a small smile so I guess not. “And you will, get used to it that is, it just takes time.”

“It’s just a lot different than my last school,” his smile wavers again, the memory apparently painful. I know a thing or two about bad memories, but he continues, “Everyone I’ve met has been lovely, I just…”

“Don’t know where to look?” He looks back at me, guilty again. Poor guy. It’s nice to finally get a good look at him, he has warm eyes but… something’s not on inside him. I can’t explain it, he just looks half alive, you recognise that look at Yamaku. I try to give a sympathetic smile – that or I look like a maniac, but I’m really hoping the former.

“I, uh,” he laughs nervously, “or say to be honest.”

“You’ve just got to be upfront, I think. Not everyone will react the same to questions about their…situation, but some of us can’t hide these things.” To demonstrate, I open my arms out towards my prosthetics and give my right leg a tap. “I don’t think this school is so different than others, there’s just an extra degree of uniqueness to contend with.”

That seems to do the trick, if only a little, as he gives me a smile. It’s not like the one from before it feels… real. It spreads to my own lips.

“You know, if Shizune and Misha get a bit much for you, you could come have lunch with us.” It takes a larger portion of my self-control then I’d like to not refer to them in their rather cruel nicknames, but the last thing I want is for the new guy to think I’m a nasty person, even if the nicknames are warranted.

“Well, they’re sweet but… I might take you up on that offer.” That makes me happy, he adds, “Who’s ‘us’?”

That’s a good question, our group has expanded a bit recently. “Well, it’s usually Taro, he’s the big guy at the back of the class, and Suzu, who’s the one you’ve probably seen sleeping on her desk in class, and me of course. Sometimes there are others too, but it’s usually just us three.”

“Okay thanks, I’ll keep you guys in mind – sorry I didn’t introduce myself to you sooner.” He looks like he’s making a mental note of the names I rattled off and I wave away his apology, getting up from the table – the light pouring in from the windows has gotten more golden, the library will shut soon.

“Don’t worry about it, being the new guy is difficult. You’ll figure things out and hopefully we’ll see each other again soon.” It looks like he’s about to let the conversation end there, but he smiles once more. It’s a… dangerous smile, I think. I don’t know what comprises the lethality of a smile but… it’d probably be one like that.

“I hope so too. Thank you for the advice.”

I don’t know why, but I really want to see that smile again. I think about that name again, Hisao Nakai, and that smile…

I better find those books.


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Last edited by Feurox on Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Feurox
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Blueshift PT2

Post by Feurox » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:53 pm

Blueshift
PT2


The festival preparation has picked up new speed in the last two days, and it’s getting increasingly hard to find any space to finish my work in the common room. I’ll admit, I’m a bit envious of the first years, and their excitement is proving contagious. Last year I had student council work to occupy the festival prep, but now I have… Biology. Great.

I never thought I’d miss the student council. The preparations last year were stimulating and I felt like I had a purpose, but now, it’s like I’m aimlessly existing until the festival passes. Suzu has the literature club, and Taro has menus to prepare for his rice or noodle stall, I can’t remember which, but more importantly they have each other. Even if they won’t admit it, the dynamic of their friendship has undoubtedly changed, and I don’t know if it can change back.

Last year, Taro, Suzu and I spent the festival like fluttering moths – darting between stalls and food booths beneath the paper lanterns. Suzu and Taro hadn’t worked on any stalls that year, and the student council had banded together to make sure our stalls were up and running way ahead of time. It was a lot of hard work, but it felt incredible once I saw them all lit up in the night. The student council president and vice president insisted that we all take the night off, and with the exception of a few of the more eager second year students, Shizune, Misha, and I think that Satou girl, we relented and struck out into the festival atmosphere.

I want that back. Suzu, Taro and me – the three musketeers. Nothing to complicate things, nothing to get in the way of any of us. It feels a million miles away lately, with Taro and Suzu’s relationship evolving it’s like I’m falling to the wayside, or worse, I’m being dragged behind them, headlong into other people’s dreams.

I don’t even know what they are. They don’t even know what they are. But everything has changed since last year, and I don’t think it can change back. For all my excitement to see the festival again, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to end up as a third wheel. God, I hope I’m wrong.

Regardless, the festival hubbub has resulted in me being here, the library, once again. As far as places to study go, the library is probably up there in the duh, obvious category, but I personally prefer to use the common room. I work best with the sounds of life around me, and the library air is always too still. I guess it can be peaceful, but it mostly just feels unnatural to me; as though everyone here is trying their best not to be alive, or breathe, or move. I wonder if Ikezawa is here again, frightening new students with her disappearing act.

A quick glance tells me she’s not. If she was, she’d usually be in the bean bags behind me, but there’s no one there. From what I can tell, she’s a creature of habit, so if she isn’t there, she’s likely not in the library at all. That’s fine by me, I guess.

My biology workbook is staring up at me from the table. I hate it. I should burn it, or eat it or…

Fine. I’ll do it.

I really don’t like biology, and though I hate to admit it, I’m also pretty terrible at it. I mean seriously, what the hell is a meristem? Why does it matter, no seriously, I’d love to know!

The textbook to my right is way too old, and I’m really struggling to stay motivated in the warm light pooling through the library. Who designs a library to have such big, distracting windows? Maniacs and sadists. That’s the answer.

Urgh.

Okay no, I’m on it now. This time I’m on it for real-

“Hey, Molly, yeah?”

YES. YES. THANK GOD DISTRACTION.

“No, well, yes I am but… never mind. Hi.” I turn around and see the new guy looking down at me, he’s doing this awkward stance where he’s got his hand rubbing the back of his neck, it’s actually quite cute. I guess he doesn’t know what to say. “I mean, I am yes. Sorry, I was trying to stay focused.”

Oh crap, wrong thing to say, I don’t want to work dude, don’t go.

“Oh, should I – “

“Don’t go I – “

Well. This is certainly more awkward than our conversation the other day.

He coughs.

“Is that the biology work?” Really dude, stop making me think about impending deadlines!

“Yeah, but it’s not getting done here. The festival preparations have commandeered my usual study spot. “

“Oh, you don’t like working in the library?” He asks, putting his hand on the chair in front of me, looking at me for permission to sit. I nod my consent.

“Not really, it feels too quiet most of the time. Like someone is listening in on your conversation.”

Hisao chuckles dryly at that and pulls the chair out from the table to sit. I tilt my head in responsive questioning.

“Sorry, sorry, just sounded a bit like my neighbour, a bit like a conspiracy theorist.”

I guess that’s kind of true; why would anyone be listening to my conversations? Listening to me turn the pages in this old, sticky –ew- book.

“It’s more like, I feel I stand out against the silence, you know what I mean?” He shrugs as he sits down, taking a few items from his bag. A pencil, and that same biology workbook. I notice that he’s filled in about as much as I have - actually, crap, he’s done a bit more.

“I think so, actually I feel the same lately, like I’m sticking out.” I kind of guessed as much.

“Isn’t that to be expected? You’re new, people are getting used to you as much as you’re getting used to them.” He looks tired as he ticks off an answer in the workbook, but he’s trying his best to smile through either the biology or this conversation. I can appreciate that.

“I think you’re right. Maybe I’m trying too hard. Or maybe I’m not trying enough. Which is worse?” He delivers that with a smile, it’s a bit warmer than what I’ve seen so far.

I laugh and it echoes through the library. Luckily, aside from the librarian – a elderly lady who looks up from her reading at the front - we’re alone and I don’t feel so guilty for making noise in the warm quite atmosphere. On busier days I could die from embarrassment doing that.

The conversation over, we both settle into the rhythm of work, the striking of pencils on paper filling the silence of the library. We talk about a few other things, he mentions that he’s trying to catch up with the workload he missed, but I don’t press about why he missed it. He mentions he’s taken up reading lately, which is why I’ve only bumped into him in the library so far. Somehow, the scratch of graphite on paper becomes a steady rhythm, and the light from the window moves from the top to the bottom, following the setting sun.

A vibration clatters in my bag, and the shrill noise makes me jump, forgetting the question I was just on. I would kick myself, but I’m not really sure how or where… plus, from my experience kicking Suzu, prosthetics hurt to be booted by. I reach down and flip open my phone and Hisao gives me a curious look from over the table.

[Meeting S by gate 4 Shanghai – Coming?]

Taro doesn’t normally text, but I realise I’ve missed a call somehow – so that explains the message. I always find the reception in the library to be patchy at best on account of it being, you know, designed by sadists and maniacs and all.

The invitation is appealing, even though I really should try and get ahead of this biology work, but I can’t shake the feeling that I won’t be able to get anything else done in this sleepy setting. I reach out and tap the table in front of Hisao, who has returned to his textbook with… focus? No, more like mindlessness. He looks up.

“Taro and Suzu, the people I mentioned the other day, are headed to the Shanghai for some tea, and probably some food as well knowing them, do you want to come?” I hope he doesn’t see this as a pity offer, but then, maybe it kind of is. He seems nice enough, and the only way we’ll get to know him is if he talks to us. He hasn’t accepted my last offer as of yet, but maybe the immediacy of this one will change that.

He looks thoughtful for a moment, like he’s about to say no, which would suck, but he doesn’t, instead closing his workbook with a half-smile.

“That actually sounds like fun,” he says as he gets up from the table, sticking his work back into his rucksack and kneeling down to fasten it. I do the same, although the process is different. Hisao looks at me for a moment, with a look that makes it seem like he wants to offer me help, but he doesn’t say anything, just sort of watches awkwardly as I push myself off the table and onto my legs. He does that thing where he looks down at them, and then away as quick as he can.

With our workbooks locked away, thank God, we exit the library and head out through the hallways. The sounds have mostly gone now, with clubs having ended and the lights having gone out from windows and beneath doors. Yamaku is taking a well-deserved nap before the festival activity.

I think, being next to Hisao, I’m more aware of my prosthetics. It’s like being in his presence, his general unease, is contagious. No, unease is the wrong word, more like the beginning of a metamorphosis. Even if it’s not my story, things feel like they’re starting. It’s a feeling that makes me feel a bit sick; it’s a feeling that makes the thud of my prosthetics against the tile reverberate in my head. Still, we push on and out.

Are we both beginning somehow?

It doesn’t take us much time to escape the school and cross the grounds to the main gate. Sure enough, Taro and Suzu are resting against it chatting. Surprisingly, Lelouch is there too, although unlike the others he’s hunched over… tying his shoelaces it appears. Taro’s face lights up with surprise, and I can’t help but wonder if his beaming energy will be enough to kill Hisao even from way over there. Suzu looks a little worse for wear, but she tries to smile as we approach.

“So, Hisao…” Uh, crap, I don’t know how to do introductions. I gesture to the three people before us, with Lelouch looking up and Suzu pushing off from the wall with Taro to bow. “The gang. And Lelouch.”

“Hey –“

“Wassup”

Lelouch meekly waves, looking like he wants to say something. It’s no wonder he doesn’t though, Hisao looks quite overwhelmed as it is. Without pause, Taro strides over to us and clasps his hand firmly with a shake.

“Man, it’s good to meet you! I’m Taro Arai, but you can just call me Taro. I’m the last line of defence between this motley gang of freaks and the destruction of all that is holy.” He gestures to me and Suzu.

I literally have no idea what that means. From the look on Hisao’s face, he doesn’t either.

“Taro, don’t be weird for once, he’ll run away.” Suzu joins us, leaving only Lelouch against the wall. “It’s good to meet you, I take it you’re joining us for tea?” Taro finally stops shaking his hand.

For his part, Hisao looks to me, as if for permission to say yes. I guess I did kind of throw him in at the deep end with this lot.

“It’s nice to meet you all. I’d like to, if that’s not a problem, of course.”

Suzu and Taro both laugh, I can even see Lelouch smirking from the wall as we amble over. I try not to laugh as well, but ultimately fail as Suzu makes eye contact with me. Hisao gives each of us a curious look. Damn, we’re horrible people.

“Well, since you were so polite and obviously don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, you’re more than welcome to join! I’m Suzu Suzuki by the way, but Suzu is fine.”

With that, the four of us hobble over to Lelouch by the gate and exit onto the road that leads down from Yamaku to the sleepy town below. I end up at the front with Suzu, and can vaguely overhear Taro explaining to Hisao about Lelouch’s aphasia. For his part, Lelouch introduces himself slowly and as clearly as possible – the two newest members of Yamaku. I bet that’s a strange feeling, maybe Lou will feel some kinship with Hisao.

As much as being new must be terrifying, I think I’d quite like the second chance that comes with it. I think if you asked me now, I’d happily leave everything behind again, start over somewhere new. It’s not like anything is bad here, quite the contrary actually. In fact, if I could, I’d probably start it all again rather than leave. Maybe I’d do some things differently too.

“So,” Suzu whispers to me, tugging my arm to pull herself towards me, “where’d you pick up the stray?”

I giggle at the word stray, it’s pretty accurate. “It’s actually the second time I’ve met him, both times in the library. Seems he’s a bit of a nerd.”

“Oh, a male version of you! Great!” I flick her on the cheek for that, and she lets out a laugh of her own.

The chatter between the five of us is pretty regular, and Hisao doesn’t really contribute as we shuffle down the hill. At least he doesn’t appear to be bothered by the slow pace we take on the way down. He probably wouldn’t last long with us if he wasn’t the patient sort. Taro asks a few generic questions, like where he’s living and what his favourite sport is, the usual stuff. The obvious question at Yamaku is why you’re here, but it’s also the most taboo one. It may be a bit unfair, but I can’t help but feel a bit irritated not knowing the answer to that question. Out of the five of us, he’s the only one whose condition isn’t immediately visible, even in the case of Lelouch, it doesn’t take long to realise that something isn’t quite right. Still, I don’t expect to hear an explanation, I just really don’t like not knowing things; that’s not Hisao’s fault.

Eventually, after the sky has turned from golden to purple, we arrive at the Shanghai. It’s a quaint little tea place with an assortment of different drinks and meals. It’s all pretty good, not that I’ve been through every item on the menu. One of the stranger things about the café is the misconceptions that go with it, like the rumour about there being no menus, or it constantly making little to no profit; I don’t even know how students would know that, but I hear it all the time.

We waste no time getting inside, and the atmosphere as always is super welcoming. From behind the counter, a meek hello and hard thump sends cups and plates clattering against one another. The culprit of both, Yuuko, sticks her head over the counter and rubs the top of her forehead where she likely bumped it. I still find it strange that Yuuko has time to work both here and at Yamaku’s library, but I suppose it’s nice to see her skittish behaviour is consistent between jobs. I like consistency. She smiles at the five of us; she speaks to Suzu in the library often so her smile is probably directed at her, and she shows us to a booth. It’s a bit of a squeeze getting all of us in, and we opt for boys on one side with girls on the other. Taro tries to protest the lack of room, but he relents after I give him my best puppy dog eyes. That’s good, I didn’t want to pull out the amputee material again. Before long, Yuuko is back and taking our orders.

It’s a bit weird seeing Hisao next to the guys. Actually, it’s a bit weird that Lelouch is here too… but then it wouldn’t be ‘the guys’. Anyway, everyone seems to be a bit on edge, not knowing what to say in the presence of the unfamiliar. I’m no better, in fact I’ve probably said the least of everyone, except Lou of course. I think I might have to change that; I don’t want to come across as shy or anything.

“So Hisao,” okay I’ve started, now what do I ask.

Everyone is looking at me.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

“Where are you from?”

Despite my flustering, I seem to take Hisao off guard. Everyone is looking at him now, and the silence makes me wonder if I’ve crossed some sort of boundary. I mean, I don’t think it was a personal question, right?

“I guess I’m not that far away, I’m from Sendai.” As he’s talking Yuuko approaches the table with our orders, setting them before each of us with a gentle clatter. It’s remarkable how focused her energy becomes when she has a task in mind, not a single drink spills, and she darts back to the kitchen, fixated on getting the sandwiches Lelouch, Suzu and Taro ordered onto the table as quickly as possible. With the food delivered, she reverts to her old self and the determined look drains from her face as we all assure her that, yes this is the right order, and no we don’t need anything else.

“So,” Suzu starts again, taking a tentative sip of her coffee, “Sendai huh? What was it like growing up in the big city?”

Hisao laughs, and it reminds me of Suzu’s laugh – like it’s only half there. But he answers her, whilst Lelouch pulls out his notepad and starts to sketch something that catches his eye out of the window.

“Well, it’s quite different to being here at least. It felt like there was always something happening.”

“Oh, we’re not keeping you entertained?” Suzu jokes, her tone is pretty obvious so that Hisao won’t get the wrong message, but I give her a flick regardless. Sending everyone into laughter. Even Hisao chuckles dryly.

“Of course, you are, I didn’t do that much back home anyway, save for going to the arcade every now and then.”

Has he always been a watcher then? Someone who observes the world as it passes around them? I can relate to that, I think. I’ve already found my eyes start to wander from his face down to Lou’s sketching pencil, the shades of graphite on the sheet and the lights behind the window.

Suzu continues to probe Hisao, as does Taro. I even throw in a few questions myself, between sips of my tea and a bite of Suzu’s sandwich. I think Hisao has even managed to unwind a bit, as everyone gets to know one another. Taro mentions his family in Kyoto, and the chain of restaurants they run, but luckily, I intercept him before he can offer Hisao a taste of his own cooking. Imagine killing the new guy with those noodles; it took two years of conditioning myself on Taro’s awful food to be able to resist instant death from those things!

“So Hisao, you got plans for the festival yet?” Taro asks harmlessly.

“Not anything concrete, I figured I’d end up stumbling around eating terrible food.” Ha! Terrible is right!

“Not if you come to the stand I’m working, you’ll be eating like a king!” Suzu shakes her head from side to side as Taro talks, motioning with her hand left to right next to her neck – the universal ‘nope’ as it were.

“Well me and Lou will be hanging around until these two are done, if you want some people to spend it with,” I ask, though it doesn’t feel so much like a pity offer this time. I think I’d actually really enjoy his company, and Lelouch smiles affirmatively as well.

I feel relieved for asking him, even though it wasn’t really on my mind before now. Hisao’s smile tells me I was right to ask, and I reciprocate with one of my own. He really has got a handsome smile, even if it’s not all there yet.

“Thank you, that sounds better than asking my hallmate his plans.”

“Oh, already fighting over the showers?” It’s a playful jab from Suzu, but I can tell she’s also hoping to hear some drama.

“No, no. Just a strange first impression was all.”

He tells us his name, and a collective sigh escapes from the table. Apparently, this ‘Kenji’ guy is infamously peculiar. He sounds interesting to me if I’m honest.

Taro places a hand on Hisao’s shoulder, and gives him a gentle shake. Unsurprisingly, he looks uncomfortable with the contact.

“You, my good man, will have death looming over your shoulder for the rest of your Yamaku days.”

Hisao’s face drops and his eyes dart to the swirling black of his coffee. I guess I’m the only one to notice it, as Taro continues to rattle of some story about Hisao’s neighbour, with Hisao barely lifting himself back into the conversation at all. Something about that resonates with me, but I can’t place why.

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

After finishing our drinks at the Shanghai, the five of us stumbled up the hill to Yamaku, the lights from the houses on either side dimming or turning off completely as their residents retired for the night. This town has a predominately elderly population, most of which likely retired here for the peace and quiet of the countryside surrounding it. Aside from a few festivals, Yamaku doesn’t produce a lot of noise pollution.

I thought I’d be able to sleep, but I suppose the caffeine in my blood has other ideas – and the sound of the wind rattling tree branches against my window promises to keep me up if I try. Since I suppose it does have to be done eventually, I make another start on that biology homework, clearing my desk by shoving another pile of letters into the attached drawer.

Everything in my room reminds me of something I should be doing. On my windowsill there’s about 6 cups I promised myself I’d clean, and if I don’t open the letters mounting inside my desk, I’ll run out of space to put them. My bed needs to be made, and my hamper of washing is nearly over-flowing.

On my bed, her legs wiggling in the air behind her lazily, is Suzu. Though I don’t think she’s doing the biology either from the absent look across her face. She does that a lot, stares blankly at things she doesn’t want to do, as if she can out wait the inanimate. I share her apathy for this homework, but I don’t know if I’m willing to adopt her strategy just yet.

I don’t know if Suzu’s here because she can’t sleep, or she’s just bored, but I don’t mind the company. She’s been fairly quiet so far, so it’s not like she’s distracting me. Besides, the worksheet is fairly simple. It’s only my distaste for the subject that’s prevented me from completing it thus far. Most of the questions correspond to a page in the textbook we’re given, so it’s just a case of flipping through and scrawling out the answer. I can’t help but notice Suzu doesn’t have a copy of the workbook, so her actually finishing the assignment tonight is unlikely.

After about an hour of boredom, I finish the questions and hear Suzu shifting around behind me, twirling one of the envelopes I stuffed away in her hand.

“Hey, how’d you get that!” I shout, well, whisper-shout, since it’s past curfew and I don’t want to wake up Ikuno down the hall.

“Really? They’re everywhere Mori, you’ve got a serious hording problem.” To illustrate her point, she rolls onto her side, revealing a stash of letters on my bedside table that, again, I’ve neglected to open.

“Still,” I get up from the table and snatch the letter from her. She doesn’t fight it. “Haven’t you got work to do?”

“Nah, I finished that ages ago.” She replies, the completed worksheet beside her.

I’m about to ask her exactly how she completed it before me, when I notice her answer to the first question. She’s literally written ‘I don’t know’. Suddenly, I’m less surprised she finished so soon.

“Aren’t you ever going to open them?” Suzu presses, sitting up on the bed to make room for me next to her.

“Eventually I will.” I answer, as non-committal as I usually am when discuss the letters.

An awkward silence follows. I know she’s concerned, but it’s not a big deal, and I do my best to hide them whenever I have a friend in my room. She’s noticed them before, but it’s been a long time since she last saw them all, and sure enough the pile has gotten bigger without me checking the contents.

“You’ve got some serious daddy issues.” Suzu finally says, tugging my plait gently to confirm she’s only teasing.

I flick her on the nose in response, and we both laugh quietly. After a little idle chat, and a bit of gossiping, she retires to her room and I tuck myself into bed.

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Last edited by Feurox on Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Feurox
Posts: 181
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:03 pm
Location: England, Oxfordshire

Blueshift PT3

Post by Feurox » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:55 pm

Blueshift
PT3

After a few days of relative boredom, the festival has finally arrived, and I can’t help but be relieved. It’s even prettier than I thought it would be; lights stretch out in canopies between stalls and dance like ballerinas in the gentle breeze. It’s not dark enough for them to be on just yet, but the daylight helps to bring the throngs of people to life in all their contagious energy. It threatens to take me over completely, not that I’d mind. The stalls are decorated in charming sashes of colour, some blue and orange, some a regal purple, and whilst a lot of the food stands are still in the process of being set up, many of the games are well underway, with young children begging their siblings or parents to play with them.

It’s strange seeing this many people at Yamaku. The majority of them will be relatives of the students here; I know that Suzu’s parents often make an appearance. It’s also nice to see so many of the local townspeople here as well. It helps to make Yamaku feel like more than just a blight on the area, and instead a big part of the community here. That’s what the festival is about after all, normalcy – showing the world that we still function in spite of our misfortune. I still don’t know if I like that message, or if that’s the message at all. Maybe I’m cynical, but in the magic of the festival I don’t think I care about messages.

There’re a few hours to kill before Taro and Suzu are let off from their respective stands, so Lelouch and I are sitting at one of the many picnic tables set up for today, awaiting two others who may or may not be coming.

I don’t know how we got roped into waiting for Lezard, but here we are. If we weren’t also waiting for Hisao, I’d probably make a run for it.

Well, a fast hobble.

Sure enough, Lou barely has time to sketch anything down in that notebook he carries before I notice someone approaching us through the crowd. It’s…

I’m tempted to say something dumb, like ‘who’s that Pokémon?!’ But I don’t bother since it’s Lezard and he probably wouldn’t get it.

“Hey guys! Thanks for waiting for me.” Okay, it’s hard to be mean to him when he’s actually being nice. He gives us a confused look, as if we’re going to spring up and run to the nearest game stall and start playing. I wouldn’t mind that actually, but we have another refugee to take in. “We waiting for someone else?”

“Nyew Guy.” Lou says, budging up on the bench so Lezard has some room to sit beside him.

“That so? I haven’t met him yet,” he gladly takes the seat offered by Lou. “Thanks.” With his seat taken, he gives me a smile. Damn, now I feel a little guilty for being so mean about him in my head.

“So, how’d that happen anyway?” He asks, peering over Lelouch’s sketch sneakily. Well, not that sneakily.

“I just bumped into him in the library, twice actually, felt bad to not ask him to join us.” I try and return a smile of my own.

“Oh, is he having trouble settling in?”

“No, well, I don’t know actually. It wasn’t a pity invite though, he seems like a nice guy.” I mean that. It was nice to have a new face in the Shanghai, and to have his company in the library for that matter.

Sure enough, the subject of our conversation approaches from another crowd of parents, kids and students by the ring-toss stand. He’s rubbing the back of his head again, it seems to be something he does quite a lot. I wave him over with a smile from ear to ear.

“Hisao! Over here!” Maybe that was a bit over-excited. After all, he was already walking in our direction, he knew where we were. Why did I shout that? Maybe I should figure out a way to kick myself.

I could take off my prosthetic and clobber myself over the head I suppose, but that sounds painful and a bit over the top.

Lezard stands up to greet Hisao, giving him a bow as Lelouch and I get up from the table. Legs swing out, hands push off from the table.

“You must be Nakai, I’m Lezard Valeth, but of course I’m fine with Lezard. I’m class 3-3’s resident literature club representative, should you ever consider joining.”

Good, back to acting like an ass. I can always trust Lezard for that.

“I, uh, yeah. Hisao is fine, good to meet you.” He returns the bow Lezard gave, with admittedly less of the force. Awkward.

“No time fwor recur – recur-it-ment Lezyard.” I laugh and Lezard scoffs at us. It takes a moment for Hisao to understand Lou, but he smiles a tiny, inconspicuous smile so as not to offend the ‘literature club representative’.

“Okay, so there’s about two hours until Taro and Suzu are free, what do you guys want to do?” I’m not expecting much from Hisao, but it’s probable that Lou and Lezard have a few ideas.

“Why don’t we start with a few games, then get some food from Taro’s noodle stand?” Hisao answers, surprisingly. The other guys smile like it’s a good idea, but I’ve sampled Taro’s noodles, and I’d like to stay relatively alive thank you. Still, I haven’t got a better plan, so we head off in the direction Hisao just approached from – back into the heart of the horde.

The first stand that doesn’t seem too busy is a fun little game where you have to hook fake fish with a plastic rod. It’s quite stupid, but I end up having fun, hooking then failing to hoist out any of the little pieces; it reminds me of those crane machines and it feels equally impossible. It was kind of Lou to pay for each of us, and when we arrive at the next stand, a game where you have to guess which cup is hiding the ball, I return the favour. I even pay for Lezard, so caught up in the festival spirit as I am.

It seems that I’m not the only one who’s having a good time. Hisao tries his best to understand what Lou’s saying, taking care to listen intently so that he won’t have to repeat himself. He doesn’t say anything, but I can tell that means a lot to Lou as he points at another cup and – crap wrong again!

Even Lezard has a stupid grin on his face as he hands over some money for the next game – a vigour tester with those flashing lights and a comically oversized rubber hammer. I don’t bother playing in that one; I can’t get much power behind my swings and I’m a bit worried I’ll topple over from the motion anyway. Hisao sits it out too, I wonder why. Is it just to keep me company? That’s sweet, if that’s the case at all. He takes a seat beside me as we watch – the abundance of seating during the festival coming in handy after the walking and waiting at stands.

“You didn’t want to play?” I ask Hisao, who’s watching with a bemused smile on his face as Lezard swings with all his might… and gets a terrible score on the light up display. How humiliating.

“I’m taking things easy,” he responds. I notice that he’s glancing at my legs again, and then at the crowds that gather before stalls and at tables around us. It feels like he’s finally taking things in, like maybe a part of him is getting used to being different. “I don’t want to over-exert myself, especially when I’m enjoying myself.”

That’s pretty telling. Sure, there may be nothing wrong with Hisao, some kids at Yamaku are here simply because of the facilities it provides. But from his caution over exerting himself, I can’t help but suspect that the problem is internal – something in him isn’t working. That’s pretty fitting actually, given his earlier concerns and defeated look. Hopefully with me he won’t stick out quite so much.

I can’t say I’m minding the company anyway.

“Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself; I’m having fun too.” Which earns me another warm smile. It’s nice.

Just as we finish talking, Lou brings the hammer down onto the platform, sending a ringing noise thought the air and earning a celebratory dance from him as the score lights up on the board. The man behind the counter congratulates him, and I see Lou point towards one of the medium sized toys at the back, which the attendant passes to him.

Both he and Lezard approach us, one looking happier than the other.

“Well, I don’t know about Lelouch, but I’ve worked up a bit of an appetite.”

Lou gives me a particularly childish smile, one that beams from ear to ear. It’s made even more ridiculous by the plush cow under his arm, like a kid who’s just been told they can have some more chocolate.

“So which stand is Taro working at?” Hisao asks, getting up from the bench.

“I’ll tell you but first let me ask you a question.” I reply, endeavouring to do the same. “Do you value your life?”

“I uh…” Lelouch starts to laugh and even Lezard shows signs of smiling. “Is it that bad?”

“Do you wanna find out for yourself?”

There’s a brief pause as Hisao presumably weighs up the value of his life. Eating anything Taro cooks is always a gamble, I wonder if it’s one he’s willing to take. Are you feeling lucky punk?

“I think I’ll pass.”

“Gyood call.” Lou replies, offering his free hand to me as I swing my legs out and around the bench seat to get up.

It takes a bit of aimless wandering, but we eventually find an appropriate place to eat, a teriyaki stand being run by class 3-2, a predominately blind class. Hisao recognises one of the girls working there, Satou I believe, the class representative and he catches himself saying ‘see you later’ with a horrified look. It’s hard not to laugh at that, so I don’t really try and he gives me a playful frown. It feels good to meander between the stalls with him, I even feel a bit like a tour guide, pointing out the stalls to avoid and the ones that can easily be won. Or the food stalls that are guaranteed to put you in hospital, a feat not hard considering Yamaku almost doubles as one anyway. Though I get the feeling he didn’t appreciate that joke as much as I did. I don’t really know when it happens, but eventually the bright light from earlier becomes a pale orange, and one by lanterns are lit and the fairy lights between stalls come on. It feels like Yamaku is really coming alive, with the lights turning on one after the other like waves on a beach lapping closer and closer to my feet.

By the time we’ve found a place to sit and eat, there’s only about thirty-minutes until Suzu and Taro finish their shifts. I find myself surprised by how quickly the time has passed, to be honest. I guess time truly does fly when you’re having a good time – and I’m well and truly having a good time despite my anxiety earlier this week. I’m starting to feel like maybe it –

“AHHH!”

I elbow the stomach of the culprit covering my eyes, it’s squishy. The wrongdoer, who I knew even before I felt him, doubles over and back away from me, releasing my eyes as he does.

“Ah, what the hell.” Taro breathes, “That – that was harder than usual.”

“I did warn you,” Suzu says, revealing herself from behind him. “She’s a fighter.” She delivers that last line with a wink and I can’t help but laugh. I might have hit him a bit harder than I meant too, but the look on his face, a cheesy smile, tells me it’s alright. He straightens up and bops me on the head with the back of his hand.

“We’ve gotta channel that energy of yours. Hey fellas,” he nods at the other guys sat around the table. “Hisao, you never came for noodles!” The accompanying pout does not suit Taro at all.

“Yeah, I uh – “

“It turns out he actually values his life.” I interrupt, grabbing the hand that hasn’t stopped thumping me since it started, and flicking it off to the side.

“Oh, really? That’s boring. I thought for sure he was a risk-taker.” Once again, nothing can topple the happiness of Taro. It’s pretty admirable that he still cooks considering the amount of crap we give him for it. It’s a shame he can’t channel that enthusiasm into getting better at it though.

Hisao wears a strange face however, did we somehow cross a line? He quickly changes back to normal, but I can’t shake that look, like I’d just elbowed him and not Taro. Maybe we should ease of on the jokes about his life, he could be terminally ill or something.

“So, have you enjoyed the festival so far?” Suzu asks, taking a seat beside me and brushing a lock of her hair behind her ear.

“Yeah, it’s been fun. “Hisao responds, to which Lelouch returns a smile in agreement, Lezard, however, mutters something about the games being rigged with a scowl.

“See, not so boring after all, are we?” she teases Hisao, who chuckles with a guilty smirk.

“I didn’t say you were, It’s still pretty different from the city though.”

“Fair enough,” I guess Suzu doesn’t know how to respond to that as she gives a non-committal shrug and turns her attention to fixing the sleeves of her school uniform. “I can see you’ve all eaten, so, want to play some more games with us?” Taro looks pretty happy with that idea.

“Sure,” I say, pushing myself up from the table and accepting the helping hand Taro offers. Those of us that have eaten deposit the rubbish from our food into the bin, whilst Taro scans the festival for something to play with his hand over his eye like the captain of some cartoon vessel. “Anything of note sir?” I ask, standing to attention beside him. It takes him a minute, but he quickly realises how he looked and fully dives into the role.

“That’s an affirmative soldier, I spy one fun looking game past the poop deck.” I don’t really think he knows what he’s saying, but following his pointed finger does in fact reveal a ‘fun’ looking game, where teams are competing against one another to hit stacks of cans with a plush ball.

“Shall we be off then?” He offers me his unslung arm, and so with a giggle, I take hold and the six of us head off towards the stall with Suzu and Lezard taking the lead. Maybe things aren’t so different from last year after all.

I let go of Taro, who sighs dramatically and pretends to weep. To make us all laugh further, Lelouch rubs his back and coos at him. “Tyhere tyhere”, I hear him say over our laughter. I really am lucky to know these guys. Except Lezard, and I guess the jury’s still out on Hisao.

Since the queue to play – I squint at the sign – ‘Hit me if you CAN’ - is moving pretty slowly, I take the opportunity to talk to Hisao some more whilst the others chatter and joke before us. I guess he has the same idea since he’s the first to start a conversation.

“I wanted to thank you, for the other day. It was nice of you to invite me to lunch, I should have taken you up on your offer right away.”

“That’s okay, you’re still finding your feet, right?” I respond, making sure to give him an obvious grin so that the irony won’t be lost on him. He grimaces, but chuckles, like he’s trying not to allow himself to. It reminds me of Suzu’s laugh, a particularly sad thing to be reminded of really.

“Yeah, I am a bit. I’ve been running in the mornings the last few days – I met this girl Ibarazaki, Emi Ibarazaki?” I can feel myself becoming frustrated at her name, but Hisao continues oblivious. “I ran this morning actually, maybe we’ll bump into her whilst we’re walking.”

I’m hoping that the obvious comment won’t spring to his mind.

“I guess, uh,” He laughs awkwardly, “you guys have something in common.”

And there we go. Thank you Hisao.

“Please don’t associate me with her, we’re not the same.” I try not to come across as awfully blunt, but he quickly gets flustered by my response. It’s not surprising I suppose, since I’m the one who’s been telling him not to worry about these things. I let out a long sigh. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude. We don’t get along particularly well, and these -” I tap my prosthetics on both sides, “- aren’t enough common ground to change that.”

He gives me an understanding smile. One that makes me feel better for being straight with him, rather than sweeping my feelings towards the ‘fastest thing on no legs’ under the rug to become an issue some other day. I get the feeling it isn’t the last I’ll hear about her, somehow. Hisao seems quite inquisitive.

“I’m sorry for the comparison.”

“Don’t sweat it. Sorry for being upset about it.” It’s like I told him the other day, Yamaku is, at its heart, an ordinary school. Just because some of us are a little oddly put together, or rather taken apart, doesn’t mean we don’t still have our likes and dislikes. Especially of people.

We quickly catch up with the others, who have wormed themselves to the front of the line to play, and split into teams. Hisao is assigned to team Lelouch, along with Lezard, whilst Suzu, Taro and I comprise the other. I’m not really sure what we’re competing for, but considering Taro’s sling and my general weakness, the boys on the other team seem to have the advantage.

After a few throws from Taro, I realise that may not be the case. He’s actually quite skilled, if throwing beanbags at cans can be equated to a skill. Lou gives him a run for his money, and both are able to win a handful of small prize tickets for their efforts. Suzu and I don’t fare quite so well, with Suzu getting too tired out and my general bad aim; we barely manage to knock down three of the twenty something cans set up. Lezard doesn’t do great either, but he nets himself a few prize tickets at least. Most curiously, Hisao manages to net himself a significant amount of prize tickets, nothing to scoff at anyway but he stops playing halfway through his turn, and although no one presses it, I can tell it concerns everyone. He wears that lost face again as he retires from the game.

Interesting, if a bit worrying.

Thanks to our lacklustre effort, team Lelouch wins, and so we hand over our prize tickets. There’s enough for each of them to redeem a small plushie prize, which all three do. Lezard gets a strange looking snake thing, whilst Lelouch and Hisao redeem their tickets for a more traditional cat and dog respectively. It’s kind of cute seeing the guys all carrying around stuffed animals.

With the game concluded, and the light from the evening beginning to fade, we find ourselves roaming between stalls, not really doing much but enjoying the atmosphere of the festival and each other’s company. We have a brief scare when Shizune and Misha approach us after the ring-toss, but it turns out to be pretty friendly. Surprisingly, Shizune even smiles at me and says something to Hisao about settling in well with a good group of people. I don’t know what that means, or why she’s seemingly fond of his decision to hang out with us, but I know a thing or two about gift horses and their mouths.

At some point, Rika, a second year that sometimes hangs out with us, joins us with an apology for missing out on the fun. She’d been working at one of the stalls we missed, apparently, and Lou is quick to hand over the cow he won as a prize. It was a pretty cute exchange, with Lelouch stuttering and slurring more than usual as they spoke – his happiness is bit contagious and even Lezard smiles as the two lead our group, a distance between them and us that no-one wants to transgress.

It’s also surprising just how many people Hisao seems to have met in his first week at Yamaku. We end up stopping and chatting to both Lilly and, unfortunately, Emi and her weird friend Tezuka. They’re only brief encounters, and thankfully he doesn’t offer them an invitation to join us. I imagine Suzu would be pretty standoffish if so actually, since she shares my dislike for Ibarazaki.

The biggest event coming up is the closing ceremony for the festival, where fireworks will commandeer the sky with their cinders. I can’t pretend to be excited by the concept, but I’ll plough through them with some help like last year – I guess my anxiety still shows through a bit, since Hisao asks me if I’m alright twice, but doesn’t seem to believe my answer. He doesn’t press the issue though, which is a nice change of pace from my first year here, with Suzu pestering me non-stop as to why I didn’t like them.

I’m a lot better at dealing with them now. In my first year at Yamaku, I buried myself in my room during the firework ceremony. I think that’s when I realised Suzu was a friend for life too, since she wouldn’t leave from her perch outside my dorm room.

On Taro’s request, we settle down into one of the hills behind the stalls, watching the last of the evening light recede and sink below the horizon line. Suzu gives my hand a squeeze in reassurance, before taking Taro’s arm and sitting beside him.

Once again, I feel that familiar strange feeling – like the glass of life has been spilled over and is draining out fast without me. Lelouch and Rika… Suzu and Taro… they’re all sitting below me on this hill, their arms on one another – a thousand miles from me. If it weren’t for Suzu’s continual glances up to me, her reassurance, I might completely fade away here – the ghost at a funeral.

Would that be so bad? To fade away? To just disappear –

“Molly?” The voice beside me is soft and warm.

“Hmmm?” I ask, reaching into my bag for my phone and headphones.

“I wanted to thank you, again.” Hisao continues, “When you came up to me in the library, I was worried I’d crossed some sort of unwritten rule – “He shoots me a puzzled look as I start to unwrap my headphones from my phone. “I think I’m settling in a bit now, but you were the first person that made me feel like I wasn’t breaking every rule in the unwritten book.”

I’m about to tell him it was nothing, but he breathes in deep to continue. It looks like this train is coming in regardless.

“I think I’m settling into Yamaku, even if only a little. You’re right – it’s just another school in the end.” He says that, but I can’t shake the feeling that he still feels lost, like there’s something in him that refuses to work despite his attempts to fit in. “I haven’t felt like I was moving forward for… a while, I think.”

I know that feeling well. That looking down at where your legs should be and they’re not. For me, literally, but for Hisao, apparently metaphorical. I finish unwrapping my head phones and tentatively offer him one of the ear buds.

He looks confused for a moment, but accepts, turning his head to face me so that the wire isn’t stretched out too much. I look back, and place my hands over my ears, one on the skin and the other pressing the headphone firmly. I want to block out the sound as much as possible. I can tell Hisao is confused, but he doesn’t say anything – maybe putting two and two together from my earlier anxiety.

I press play on the first song in my que, it’s some old pop song that my mother got stuck in my head during car rides, and before long I hear the countdown over the sound of the music.

One by one, a symphony of colours explodes and dance in my peripheral vision, but I keep fixated on Hisao’s deep brown eyes. The colours popping and then melting in them, like matches lighting and vanishing into the sea. He stays locked on my gaze, and I notice his own hand has found his other ear, and he gives me a timid smile. I don’t know if I’m returning it, but all I can see is the sparks being born and then subsequently dying inside his eyes.

I don’t want to look away as the fireworks cease, but the cheering brings Hisao’s eyes away from mine and onto the crowds below us. I blink away as well, looking over the crowds as they get up or lean into one another, as families wave goodbye and the magic of the Yamaku festival wraps up and concludes.

“I don’t like fireworks,” I finally say to Hisao. I guess that much was obvious.

He gives me a smile, and turns back over the crowds below. I think there’s something I should say, but it doesn’t come to me.

So instead we sit in silence, watching other people fall in love below the settling embers of my last Yamaku festival.


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Last edited by Feurox on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

PKMNthiefChris
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Joined: Sat May 12, 2018 9:35 pm

Re: Gravity: A Molly Route Updated as of 06/26/2019

Post by PKMNthiefChris » Fri Jun 28, 2019 11:12 am

You really can tell you've grown since then as a writer. Greatly looking forward to reading the relaunch further.

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Scroff
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Re: Gravity: A Molly Route Updated as of 06/26/2019

Post by Scroff » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:28 pm

I really enjoyed the original, but I agree with PKMNthiefChris that you're more accomplished now than when you started this.

I've got a real soft spot for Molly so I'm very much looking forward to where this goes!

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Mirage_GSM
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Location: Germany

Re: Gravity: A Molly Route Updated as of 06/26/2019

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:06 am

NIce to see this... Well "continued" is not quite right, so... Nice to see more of this.
It's been quite a while, but I don't remember there being much wrong about the story - but on the other hand it's been so long I don't remember most of the details, so I can enjoy this one as almost fresh. :-)

A few minor issues:
“I, uh,” he laughs nervously, “or [what to] say to be honest.”
making noise in the warm quite quiet atmosphere.
Also the festival seems to start quite late in the afternoon. When they meet up it's supposedly two hours until Taro and Suzu are free, and when it starts getting dark it's still half an hour. In the VN the festival seems to start in the late morning...

I don't think you had Lelouch and Lezard in the first version... Nice to see some less-used characters get some spotlight. I particularly like Lelouch, since I have fond memories of trying to write him in one of my own stories.
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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Feurox
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Act 2 Constants and Variables: Entropy PT1

Post by Feurox » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:36 pm

Act 2: Constants and Variables

Entropy PT1
Is that the light at the far end of the tunnel, or just the train?




After the excitement of the festival closing ceremony, and a bit of idle chatter that only served to highlight how tired everyone was, our ragtag group retired into our dorm rooms for the night. All in all, despite it being bittersweet, the festival was really incredible. My fears of being a third wheel, or being alone, were mostly unfounded, and aside from a few minutes during the firework display, everything felt like it always had. Steady.

There’s a lot to think about from the festival. I was so worried about things changing, that I didn’t stop to consider if that was a good thing or not. Hisao, whilst new to Yamaku, has begun fitting into place. I can’t complain about his company, in fact, it’s probably thanks to his wordless support that I made it through the fireworks at all. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but I think a lot hinged on whether or not he’d accept the headphone I offered him, and whether or not he’d press me for why. I’m thankful that he didn’t, even if I might have relented and told him. I don’t think it was the right time for confessions of any kind.

As my eyes circle the beige of my ceiling, I can’t help but giggle at the image of essentially all the Yamaku students in halls doing the same. Trying, and failing, to get up in time for classes. If I didn’t have my morning obligation of waking Suzu, I’d likely smash my head into the pillow until I either passed out or transcended into some sort of dream realm.

I rub the sleep out of my eyes as I swing the ends of my thighs out and around the side of the bed. The idea of kicking myself rears its head again, when I realise that one of my prosthetics has fallen from its leaning position against my nightstand. With a lot of stretching, and a firm grip on the edge of my bed, I’m able to roll it towards me and buckle myself into it without much trouble. It’s only after I’ve gotten both on that I remember I’m meant to be checking the skin for breakdown, rubbing cream on them and checking the inner lining. Actually, I don’t think I did that yesterday either…

Weighing up the risk of a wheelchair, and the ten minutes it will take to undo, check, and redo my prosthetics, I end up going with the path of least resistance. A path that avoids another lecture from Nurse.

Once both are off, it’s only a matter of seconds lifting each nub and checking them. I run my hands over the smooth ends, and even though it’s been years, I still get a shiver each time. I get about a coin’s worth of cream on my hands and rub them together before applying it to my skin. It’s meant to take two weeks to form a habit, right? Either way, the day I missed yesterday will undoubtedly make getting up tomorrow and going over these things difficult, as every break in routine seems to do. I really should figure out a way of kicking myself one day.

I’m glad that I managed to shower before getting into bed last night. The humidity from the night made it necessary, and it was a nice opportunity to reflect on the day with the warm water running down me in the shower chair. It certainly makes slipping into my school uniform feel fresher than it otherwise would. Today feels like a new day, despite the tiredness.

As I slip my school jumper over my blouse, I can’t help but think about a comment Hisao made a few days ago in the Shanghai, about me being the only girl he’s seen wearing one. I’m not sure why that comes to mind, is it weird that I wear it? It’s not like I haven’t realised no-one else does… It seems like a strange thing to stand out for though.

I’m not sure what else I could stand out for. Emi Ibarazaki kind of has the double amputee thing on lockdown.

It’s a little too early to be thinking like that, and so, officially awake for the morning, I stand up from the bed and start getting my things ready for the day. I shuffle a few of my textbooks from my desk into my backpack, carefully avoiding the layers of envelopes I’ve endeavoured to ignore so far stacked up on my desk. Besides packing my bag, I take a firm look around my room. It’s about time I reorganised it again, a task I’ve found myself doing every two months or so. Other than a few posters - some artistic renditions of nebulas and a large periodic table spread against the back wall, I haven’t added much since arriving at Yamaku. Well, except that…

Sitting on the end of my bed, staring at me lovingly, is the small plush dog Hisao won at the games. He’s got one black ear folded down covering his eye. I’m not a lover of stuffed animals, I find they’re pretty ‘girly’ as my brother said once. Yet, for some reason, this one makes me smile – probably because it was a gift.

Hisao gave it to me last night, after the display when everyone was turning in for the night. I think he saw Lou giving his prize to Rika and took inspiration, and whilst the implications of that are…interesting… I’m not going to assume anything. After all, he mentioned how grateful he was to me last night, even if I haven’t really done anything to help him – it’s nice to have a new friend.

I click the door shut behind me as I leave, twiddling the key for Suzu’s room in my other hand. The straps of my bag settle into my shoulders, and I cross the hall. Her room is a few doors down from my own, by the stairs at the end of the corridor, so it doesn’t take me long to get there. I twist the key into the lock with the usual fumbling, and hear the unusual sound of motion on the other side of the door. That’s good, she’s up in time –

“No wait Mol – “. The door only opens a crack before Suzu’s weight slams into it and forces it shut. I’m left a bit stunned, but the door opens again from inside, only a crack, but enough to make out Suzu’s face and bare shoulders peering around.

“I’m up, I’m up.” She continues, clearly very flustered. A deep groan comes from within the room and Suzu visibly flinches.

Oh.

Oh!

“I can see that.” I respond, in what I imagine is a mock-disapproving tone. Suzu looks at me from behind the door, with a look that’s begging me for mercy. I open my mouth to say something, but I decide that right now probably isn’t the time. “We’ll talk later,” and then, just before I leave, I add in a quieter whisper, “You were safe, right?”

I haven’t got a lot of experience with anything like this, but the basic questions and concerns come to mind. As far as I’m aware, that’s the first time she’s had sex, I mean, if she did, that is. I realise I might be jumping to conclusions… do people sleep naked together if they don’t have sex? Urgh. Now I’m blushing.

She closes her eyes again, I guess grateful I’m not pressing her for details so early in the morning. She gives me a smile, but it isn’t the kind I’d expect to see if she was beaming with happiness; it’s a regretful one. I wonder why. “Thank you Mori,” she hesitates for a moment before adding, quieter still, “Yes.”

She closes the door and leaves me standing in the hall gobsmacked. Those fears from before, about our relationships changing, all come back to me. I can’t shake the uneasy feeling in my stomach, whether it’s from Suzu’s frustrated smile, the fact that Taro and her haven’t ‘officially’ gotten together, or how utterly in love with her I know he is. None of that is indicative of something healthy, but before now I guess it was ‘a bit of fun’ for them. Maybe it still is and maybe I’m overthinking.

Autopilot takes over, and I head down the stairs slowly and past the common room. At least I’m not the only one awake, as a few second years chat idly on the sofa, ready and dressed in their school uniforms. Rika recognises me and waves, bidding goodbye to her friends as she joins me by the door.

“Hey Molly, how – woah, did you see a ghost?”

Did I what?

I must look pretty shocked still.

“Hi Rika, no, sorry, just had a shock this morning.” I realise my voice sounds a bit raspy, so I clear my throat with a cough. “Don’t worry, it’s nothing. Just the early start after last night!” I think my smile works to convince her, since she starts beaming again. Being a morning person must be nice.

“Oh, tell me about it! Last night was so much fun!” She says, grinning from ear to ear.

With that, we head out of the door from the common room and into the morning air. It’s a bright day, and the heat is offset by a cool morning breeze thankfully. There’s a faint smell of fried food from last night, and a few stands are yet to be taken down, but otherwise it’s like any other day.

“Yeah, it was a nice way to spend my last festival.” I reply. Saying that aloud makes me feel a bit sad, and Rika’s happy mood dims a little. I sometimes forget that she’s a second year, and won’t graduate with us – I hope she won’t be lonely when we go.

“Well, there’s still Tanabata in a few months…” She declares, obviously a little depressed by the realisation she’ll be left behind when we go.

“Hey, you should have seen Lou trying to win that stuffed cat for you last night.” I decide changing the subject is best, and she brightens up again with a smile that could outshine the sun.

“Really? He said it was nothing!” Rika giggles, doing this adorable little skip as she walks.

“Nope! He was more focused than I’ve ever seen.” Rika starts laughing and blushing at that. The path to the auxiliary building is getting a little more crowded by the few early risers who weren’t entirely demolished from yesterday’s activities. I don’t want to embarrass her, but it’s nice to see Rika so happy, not that she seems to be embarrassed at all actually.

“I wish I could have spent more of the festival with you guys, the art club stand got awfully boring at lunchtime.”

“I’m sorry we didn’t come by,” She bats away my apology with a cheerful smile, and a mischievous look takes over her face.

“Say, how did you end up with that new guy anyway? Lou said he was a transfer student?” It’s an innocent question, but her playful smirk makes me think it’s not really the one she’s asking.

“Hisao? We’re in the same class and met in the library, he didn’t seem to have anyone else to spend the festival with so we invited him to join us. I think Lou and Taro have taken a liking to him.” It’s the truth, Taro always makes everyone feel at home, but it was surprising to see Lou trying to talk so much with him. I don’t know if that was because they’re similar as new arrivals, or because Lou was appreciating the effort Hisao was making to understand him. He seems like a thoughtful guy.

“Yeah Lou said as much, it was nice of you guys to take him in.” Rika isn’t the only person to say that to me, Suzu mentioned the same thing when I brought him with us to the Shanghai. I’m not sure why everyone is making a big deal about it. Maybe because Hisao seems to have met quite an assortment of people in his short week at Yamaku. Maybe by spending the festival with us he inadvertently ‘chose’ us as his group.

By now Rika and I have crossed most of the pathways that separate the dormitories and the main school building. Our classes are on separate floors, with my class being a floor above hers. It seems neither of us are in a rush to get to class, so we end up just milling about on the lobby floor as other students begin to trickle in behind us.

I’m glad I bumped into her; she’s got this kind of energy that’s hard to describe, but I already feel a bit more at ease after my brief moment of surprise this morning. I know I can’t talk to anyone about that, but I can’t help but worry about what the future will bring now. It’s an uneasy feeling, and one that I haven’t really felt until the last few months. Life here used to be so steady and easy. It was predictable, and the pieces all fit together neatly. Then Lelouch arrived and things briefly stirred up again, and then Taro and Suzu started… whatever they’re doing. Now Hisao, and graduation beyond that.

There are a whole lot of variables, and not many constants.

“What’re you thinking about Mori?” Rika asks. She’s sat herself on the bench against the wall to avoid another dribble of students passing us down the hallway. I don’t really have time to sit down if I’m taking the stairs.

“I’m just worrying about things. It’s stupid.” I don’t want to lie to her, but I don’t really want to engage in a conversation about my feelings either.

“I’m sure everything will sort itself out.” It seems Rika can tell I don’t want to discuss it, so she gives me a shrug and gets up. “You’ve always thought too much.”

I laugh. She’s probably right.

“How would you know? We only met a month or two ago.” My tone is pretty joking, but it can be easy to forget we haven’t known each other very long.

“Hey, a month is a long time.” She gives me a wink, but I’m not really sure what it means. “We should probably go; I want to get there early and annoy Tanaka.” I don’t know ‘Tanaka’ is, but an educated guess would suggest it’s someone in her class.

With that, we head up the stairs and I wave goodbye to her on the second floor. I don’t know how, but Rika has managed to brighten my morning. Maybe her and Hisao have something in common, since they’ve both succeeded in elevating my spirits.

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Despite the cruel intentions of our English teacher, who set some particularly difficult questions for us to work through in groups, we survive the morning classes, rising from our desks like a horde of zombies hungry for lunch and sleep. I doubt I’d be particularly drained if I hadn’t been grouped with Suzu and Lezard who were both useless. One slept through the class, and the other kept going on and on about some book he was reading. Taro has already gotten up from his seat and wandered over to Hisao’s desk, so I take it upon myself to rouse Suzu for the lunch rush.

It doesn’t take much effort to wake her up because it turns out she’s already awake. In fact, it seems she was faking being asleep to avoid doing the worksheet this morning. Part of me wants to use the brief moment we have alone to talk about this morning, or, uh, last night, but it’s not really the place. Suzu’s exhausted face reveals as much. She sits up groggily, despite being awake for some time, and takes a few steadying breaths as she rises from her desk. Lelouch and Lezard arrive next to us with their bags slung over their shoulders.

“Ready for some lunch?” Lezard asks, and we all unanimously agree. Taro and Hisao join us by the door, though Taro is wearing an over-exaggerated pout on his face, and Hisao looks guilty.

“Hisao is ditching us today.” Taro says, rubbing away a fake tear with his good arm. “He has a clandestine encounter waiting on the roof.”

“It isn’t like that,” Hisao protests. “I promised Emi I’d get lunch with her and Rin today, since I didn’t see her much during the festival.”

It’s admittedly quite cute watching Hisao fluster guiltily, even though he doesn’t owe us anything. I have my own opinions regarding Emi Ibarazaki, but it’s nice to see Hisao has become more comfortable at Yamaku. When I first met him in the library, he looked like he was entirely lost. Before Suzu can make a snarky remark, I decide to speak up.

“That’s alright, I think we’ll all pass out as soon as we’ve eaten anyway. We’ll see you later?” I ask, patting Taro on the back to cheer up his fake sadness.

Hisao seems to immediately become more comfortable again, which makes me smile. “I’d like that.”

He reciprocates my smile, and agrees to see us tomorrow for lunch, leaving the classroom ahead of us with a wave. Something about him seems different from last night, like a part of him believe what he said about finding a direction. Meanwhile, Taro pretends to sob again, but this time Lelouch gives him a gentle shove with a laugh, and the five of us head for the cafeteria.

With Suzu now upright beside me, and Taro, Lelouch and Lezard following behind us, we make our way down the hallway and stairs until the double doors of the cafeteria open before us. We would have taken the elevator, but waiting for one would have cut further into the clock ticking until lunch is over.

Throughout the cafeteria groups mill about at tables, sometimes gossiping, but mostly just eating in a quiet, post festival reverie. The whole atmosphere of the school today is sleepy, from both the students and the staff, as everybody seems to be in wordless agreement that today is a write-off. In the centre of the room, Shizune and Misha are signing to one another furiously, interrupted by Misha’s outbursts of laughter.

Suzu and Lezard claim a table at the back of the cafeteria whilst the rest of us join the still short line for lunch. Taro taps me on the shoulder.

“Mori, about this morning…” He begins. Shit. Not a conversation I want to have. Well, not with Taro at least. Where’s Lelouch – oh, the line’s moving.

“Let’s not talk about it.” I whisper back to Taro, rubbing the back of my neck and moving forward in the line behind Lou. He laughs and grabs me by the shoulder.

“Thank God, it seems we’ll all be happier to pretend it never happened.” Something about the way he says that sounds deeply pained, but the grimace on his face quickly vanishes and I’m distracted by a firm squeeze. “What’re you having?” he asks, changing the subject and making me realise we’ve made it to the front of the line.

“Just some curry bread today.” The lady at the counter nods at me, and before I can reach into my bag, Taro pays for my meal. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“Yeah, but I wanted too.” He does this often enough that I don’t protest, it would be pointless. So, I take my bread and the rice box he’s bought for Suzu with a ‘thank you’, and the three of us head back to the table. Evidently Lelouch bought Lezard lunch today, for whatever reason.

I guess the student body has recovered some energy after the somnolent morning, as the sound of chattering and eating has gotten louder since we arrived. Somehow the proximity to such liveliness makes me feel more awake; that, or the sharp taste of my bread. I give Taro a nudge with a smile. Everyone else at the table is wordlessly eating, actually, Lelouch is drawing something.

“Why’d you give Hisao the waterworks?” I ask playfully, biting into another piece of bread as I do. Everyone at the table turns to listen in, except Suzu, who’s too busy eating.

“Well I thought he had joined our motley crew of misfits.” Lelouch laughs at that, and even Lezard is cracking a hint of a smile. “That, and I thought you’d miss his company if I didn’t.”

I feel the crimson rush into my cheeks before Taro has even finished his sentence. I can’t help but turn my face down to my food.

“Yumph – “Suzu stops chewing and swallows her food. “Lou, where did you and Rika slink off too after the fireworks last night?” I don’t know if Suzu is deliberately changing the subject to save me, or if she’s actually digging for some gossip, but I’m not about to turn the conversation back.

“Ish that a lo – loadish question?” Despite the stuttering, Lou is smirking as he rebuffs Suzu’s transparent attempt to discover some sordid details.

“It’s innocent, I promise.” Suzu replies with a wink, so Lelouch laughs and folds the notepad he was drawing in over, and turns to face her.

“W-We went seshperate way- waysh after the firewa – firewo – fireworksh.” He seems to particularly struggle on that sentence, but he keeps smiling. I guess when he’s thinking about Rika, he’s less worried about his stutter, which is a sweet thought.

I feel a vibration in my bag as Suzu continues to needle Lelouch for juicy details, so I open it up to see a text:

[Hey Molly, I’m off work early today so figured I’d swing by. See you at the main gate for 7?]

“Who’s that Mori?” Taro asks, drawing the attention of the others back onto me.

“Just my brother, he’s visiting tonight.” My brother doesn’t visit often, but it’s common enough that they all nod in understanding, and return to their conversations or the remains of their lunch. Suzu, however, shifts her focus from Lelouch onto me.

“Amir’s gonna be here? Can I come?” I can’t really think of any reason to say no, since Suzu and Amir get on like a house on fire whenever he visits. Which is maybe a little weird, considering how different the two are.

“Sure, he’s been dying to see you again, I imagine.” We both laugh, but out of the corner of my eye I could swear I see Taro frown. Before I can be sure, the moment passes, and the bell signifying the end of lunch reminds everyone in the cafeteria how painful post-festival noises can be.


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Last edited by Feurox on Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Feurox
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Location: England, Oxfordshire

Act 2 Constants and Variables: Entropy PT2

Post by Feurox » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:37 pm

Entropy PT2


After lunch, the five of us trudged back to class and resumed our seats. Suzu resumed her napping, or fake napping or whatever she’s doing, and Lezard resumed his book. Even Shizune looks distracted. Thankfully, this afternoon’s classes are both science subjects, Chemistry and Physics to be exact, so at least the later half of the day will be enjoyable.

Our Chemistry teacher, a short and stocky man called Mr Yamada, enters the room with a kinetic energy that it seems only I’m finding contagious. He gives me a polite nod as he sits down at his desk, which makes me feel a little embarrassed. It seems he’s noticed I’m one of the only people looking ready for his lesson.

After shuffling some papers around, he stands up from his desk and begins to write on the chalk board, talking loud enough for Taro at the back to hear him. “On account of the festival, I’m inclined to take today’s lesson easy. Complete the following questions in pairs of your own choosing. “He hastily chalks a few numbers down on the board. “We’ll go over them as a class at the end of the lesson, so don’t slack off too much.”

It’s rare that Mr Yamada allows us to form our own groups. He usually structures each lesson strictly, but I guess the festival affects everyone, students and staff alike. Satisfied, he sits back down at the desk and begins reading through the earlier shuffled papers.

Just as I’m about to drag my desk alongside Suzu, for all the help she’ll be, I get a tap on the shoulder.

“Hey Molly,” Hisao, speaking just above a whisper, is leaned halfway across his desk in order to reach me. “Do you want to work together on this?” A quick glance around the room reveals his only other options to be Hanako, who is already up and slinking out the door like she usually does, or Lezard, who’s not even bothered to close his book since class started. Still, it doesn’t really feel like I’m the back up option, so I give him a smile.

“Sure. Lezard and Suzu can do some actual work for once.” That manages to get Lezard’s attention, who scoffs at me, but Suzu is still sleeping. I figure after this morning’s group work, they deserve each other. That, and it would be nice to work with someone other than Suzu, especially someone like Hisao, who can clearly hold his own.

“Great, I’ll pull up my desk.”

He proceeds to do just that, with the screech of the metal legs being dragged instead of lifted sending a myriad of dirty looks towards him. He raises his hands in apology, and the class gets back to work, or in the case of most, idle chatter.

“Do you want to try that again? I don’t think you annoyed everyone in 3-2 across the hall yet.” I whisper jokingly, opening my workbook.

Hisao gives me a helpless shrug, dragging his hands over his face. He smiles playfully.

“I wouldn’t want to leave them out, I guess.” He pretends to get up, so I laugh and shuffle my desk a little closer towards his until they’re practically joined. Before we can dive into the work, he gives me a gentle nudge on the shoulder.

“Sorry for not joining you at lunch, I did want to.” It’s nice to hear him say that, but I don’t think I was jealous of Emi. I mean, maybe I was a little. After Hisao and I spent the festival together, it felt like things were left unsaid, but I still have no idea what. He continues, smiling at me the way he did when I gave him the headphone last night. “I had a really good time at the festival after all.”

Am I blushing again? It’s just a biological reaction. Stop cheeks. Please stop. I look away.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s good to have more than one group of friends.” For good measure I add, “And I really enjoyed myself too.”

Now it’s Hisao’s turn to look away, so before things can derail, I slide my textbook in between us.

“The first three questions are just balancing equations,” I glance over them, as Hisao beings jotting answers down. I reach over and point at the second question, “This one is already balanced.”

He looks at the question in, uh, question, and smiles. “Oh yeah, so it is.” From the sounds of it, very few people are even bothering with the questions at all, the only other sound of graphite on paper in the room comes from Shizune behind me, but there was never any question as to whether she’d be slacking off.

There’s something really relaxing about answering these questions with Hisao, but I can’t place it. It’s like it feels natural; and when I muse on it, I think I felt the same in the library last week when we worked on the biology together.

But then again, considering we didn’t get much work done, I doubt it’s the classwork aspect that I’m enjoying. It’s a peculiar feeling, and not one I’ve felt for some time. Maybe briefly, when Lelouch first asked me to study with him, but nothing ever came of that and those feelings have since faded.

That’s all these feelings really are, right? Flashes in the pan. Flashes, that I have no reason to believe are even indicative of anything, or reciprocated. I don’t even know what it means, that weird, spinning feeling I’m getting.

Before I get too lost inside my head, Hisao nudges me, and a more focused look in his eyes than before.

“Do you think we’re meant to do this one?” He asks. Let’s see.

“Probably not,” I respond; the question is a little too easy in comparison to the others, so it’s likely that we’re meant to do the one below it. “Let’s do the one below it instead. Mr Yamada doesn’t usually set easy questions like that.”

Hisao smiles, “Are you a teacher’s pet Molly?” He asks playfully. I feel myself begin to blush again. I kind of am, I guess. But pot-kettle-black, or something.

“That’s rich,” I say with a hushed laugh, “You’re already one of Mutou’s star pupils.”

Hisao looks a bit embarrassed too, but his smile also looks a little proud. “I think it’s just because I’m new.” I return a sceptical glance. “Okay, well, I’ve always been okay at Physics.”

I laugh a little louder, but nobody pays it any mind. They’re all too busy pretending to work, or not pretending at all. “I’ll take the extra work sheet please sir!” I lower my voice to imitate his, aiming somewhere between a grumble and a husky chain smoker. I don’t think I do a very good job of emulating him, because his smile turns into a pout.

“I don’t sound like that.” While I’m pretty sure his pout is exaggerated, he leans a little closer and adds, “Do I?”

I try to restrain my giggle this time, and end up having to cover my mouth. “No, no. I’m just awful at doing impressions.” He smiles again at that. It’s that same warm smile I saw after the fireworks.

“But evidently not at Chemistry.” To illustrate his point, he aims the eraser end of his pencil at the answers I’ve filled in so far. Nearly all of them. I realise I’ve managed to fill out a few more than he has.

“Well, I’ve always been good at Chemistry.” Hearing that makes him chuckle quietly as he copies down one of my answers. He seems to find that particularly funny, but he doesn’t tell me why. Still, there’s something familiar in the way his eyes look into mine and then dart away; and that touch of crimson growing in his cheeks…

I look back down to the question sheet below me. It’s about Ionic bonding, a process that involves oppositely charged ions being attracted to one another.

I wonder, what’s the opposite of an Ionic bond, when the ions aren’t so opposite after all?

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When the school day finished, practically everyone in school dragged themselves back to their dorm rooms, leaving the grounds of Yamaku eerily quiet. According to Taro, the guys are spending the evening hanging out in the common room watching TV or something. It was probably a wise decision not to invite Hisao to meet my brother, even though I felt a bit bad leaving him to experience ‘guy night’ with Taro. Amir can be quite the character, and he’d no doubt tease me for bringing a boy to dinner.

It’s just after six ‘o’ clock now and Suzu’s tapping her feet impatiently. Apparently, she’s been waiting for me outside the front of the girl’s dormitories for some time. Behind her, the trees and shrubbery are bleeding into the twilight. The lights have already begun to come on, but the chill in the air adds to the prevailing feeling that post-festival Yamaku is a ghost town.

With Suzu in tow, I amble down the pathway that leads from the dormitories to the main gate, where Amir said he’d meet me. Sure enough, there he is, one hand holding a lit cigarette and the other putting his phone back into his pocket. He waves at me, and Suzu rushes over to him with a beaming smile on her face. Amir reaches down to hug her, and I roll my eyes at him as he does, causing him to laugh as he puts out his cigarette on the wall he was previously leaning on.

“Hey Suzu. Hey Sis.” Suzu lets go of him, and he walks over to me. Amir looks like usual, dressed in a plain grey suit with his hair cut short and his beard trimmed cleanly. He has some law job in the city, something big, from what I gather, but he never dresses like a big-shot, nor does he really talk about it. I don’t ask. It’s not what I’m interested in anyway; I’ve always been more of a sciences girl, much to the disappointment of our grandparents, who I think set Amir up with his current employers.

I smell the faint scent of cigarettes as he leans in to hug me, but I can’t really complain. Amir gives amazing hugs. Even if Yamaku actually was a ghost town, I don’t think I’d be too afraid if Amir was here to give me one of those wonderful hugs. How does he always do that?

“So, you two hungry?” he gestures towards his car parked behind him at the gate.

“Starving,” I answer, and Suzu simply nods. The three of us amble over to his car and get in, It’s quite new, but there’s an assortment of papers and documents in the back seats. I get the front seat, sibling priority of course, and Suzu shoves the papers in the back to one side as she gets in asAmir drives us down the hill into town.

It’s funny how small that hill feels from Amir’s car, considering the effort it usually takes when I’m walking up it. Luckily Suzu isn’t very fast either, even without that brace on her knee, so I don’t usually feel like a burden.

The lights meld together as we pass, and Amir parks up on the street just a short walk from the Shanghai. Even down the road, the café’s energy is spilling out onto the street in the form of laughter and general chatter. It’s unusual to see it so busy, but it’s quite charming too. Amir leads the way in, and gives a wave to the older man behind the counter. I’m pretty sure that that’s the owner, which is probably a good thing because if it was only Yuuko working, she’d probably be a bit overwhelmed with the crowd.

We take our seats at the back of the café, by the side window. Thankfully, it’s not so loud back here, and a polite older lady takes our order for coffee and sandwiches quickly. Suzu’s kind of zoned out.

“So, Sis, how’re your studies coming along?” Amir asks over the clatter of his coffee cup on the china.

“So far so good, I’m struggling a little with Biology and English, but I got some good results back from my Chemistry and Physics classes.”

Suzu calls me a nerd, which makes Amir chuckle, but he returns his focus to me, and his eyebrows furrow.

“Struggling? How bad? Do you want me to try and find a tutor?”

I take a sip of my coffee and giggle.

Amir has always been over-protective of me. He relaxes a bit, my giggling an answer to him, but I clarify anyway.

“It’s not at that stage yet, but I’ll tell you if I do.”

“Good, your studies are important this year. Have you started looking at colleges for when you graduate?”

Urgh.

“No, not yet. I will soon though, I promise.”

Amir gives me a sceptical look, one that doesn’t seem satisfied with my answer. But he doesn’t press it and relaxes back into his chair. Suzu, meanwhile, has already started nibbling on my sandwich, having eaten hers.

“Hey,” I give her a gentle whack on the back of the head and take my food back from her. Amir laughs again.

“That’s right!” Amir states suddenly, leaning back onto the table and clasping his hands together. “How was the festival?”

“It was amazing!” Suzu and I exclaim excitedly, the energy from the front of the café proving a bit contagious even back here. I continue, “Suzu was working for some of it, but when we all met up the games were so much fun.” I smile again at the memory of the festival, last night’s revelry. The memory of the fireworks reflected in Hisao’s eyes make me blush.

Suzu jabs me in the side playfully, a mischievous look on her face.

“I think Molly has a certain someone to thank for that.”

Amir raises an eyebrow. He tries to sip his coffee, but it’s empty, and instead he rests the cup on his bottom lip with an intrigued look. At the front of the café, the door opens with the ring of a bell and an old gentleman enters with a newspaper tucked beneath his arm. I know, because I’m looking everywhere but at Amir now.

“And who is this certain someone?” He catches my attention again. Suzu squeals as I poke her in the side. I’m glad that it hurts, since even after the kick she’s giggling.

“It’s nobody, just a new arrival at Yamaku.” Even as I say that, I feel the colour in my cheeks rising.

It’s not like there’s anything between Hisao and me. We’re just friends. Fast friends, I’ll admit… but friends nonetheless. The fireworks felt intimate, but I’ve had intimate moments with Taro too. Like that time he nearly choked on an almond…

Okay, maybe I haven’t had that kind of moment with the other guys.

“A hot one at that,” Suzu adds with a laugh.

Amir laughs, but sits forward with a serious expression. “Suzu. I’m going to pay up. Would you mind if Mori and I had a moment?”

Oh God.

“Sure.” With that, Suzu gets up and heads out the front of the door with a chime into the purple night.

“Molly…”

Oh God. Oh God.

“I need to talk to you about dad.”

My brain jolts into another mental gear. Oh God. Please go back to asking about Hisao. Anything but that.

I guess I sighed very loudly without realising, not that I was trying particularly hard not to, as Amir exhales deeply and looks away from me with frustration. He signals the lady who took our order earlier in order to pay, and drops his wallet onto the table. Still looking away, he continues,

“He told me you still haven’t replied to him. He’s concerned.”

I really don’t want to talk about this.

Amir sighs loudly, just as the waitress places a silver plate with the bill on the table.

“You still haven’t opened them yet, have you?”

Even though talking about this makes me feel sick, I still feel guilty. Amir shouldn’t have to be stuck in the middle of this.

“Look,” Amir continues, obviously feeling put out by my reaction. “I know how you feel about him. And I know talking to me about it doesn’t get either of us anywhere.”

He helps me to my feet, and pulls me into a hug. It feels really nice.

“But promise me you’ll at least consider opening one of them.”

I know I can’t promise to open one, but considering it… I think I can promise that. If it’ll make Amir feel better, then I don’t see why not.

“Okay,” I mumble into his chest, still hugging him.

“I’ll take it,” he says, giving me one last tight squeeze before releasing the hug. Immediately the air feels less tight, even if my promise is a hollow one. Before we leave, he stops me again, and reaches into his jacket pocket, producing an envelope lighter in colour than the ones I’ve stockpiled. It’s a clear white envelope, rather than another brown one.

“Before I forget, here’s your ration money. Why not take this ‘hot’ new student on a date?”

He laughs as I take the envelope. Even I can’t help smile a bit at his teasing. Amir has been giving me pocket money ever since I arrived at Yamaku. One day, I’ll pay him back for everything. Though the hugs are priceless.

With that, we walk out into the night behind Suzu, who’s sitting on the curb waiting for us.

“Do you two want a lift back up the hill?” Amir asks, searching around his pockets for his car keys. Before I can answer yes, Suzu tugs on the sleeve of my jumper.

“I wouldn’t mind the walk,” she says, winking at me.

Weird, but it’s a nice enough night I suppose.

Amir shrugs, and gives us both a hug before getting into his car and driving down the road, the lights disappearing around the corner beside the Shanghai.

Suzu remains quiet as we walk up the hill. Maybe she’s just enjoying the night breeze, and the chance to disconnect from Yamaku. It certainly feels healthy to be relaxing after last night’s chaos. We still haven’t talked about whatever happened between her and Taro, but I’m not about to raise the issue on my own accord.

There’s this smell in the air, like that smell from fresh rain. But it’s more delicate somehow, like the whole world has become cool and still around us as we walk. We don’t even pass any cars, or rather, no cars pass us. After pushing the conversation with Amir away from my mind, I feel contented. More so than I have in a long while. Like I’m a part of the world moving forward and not watching from outside.

The stars stretch out above us as we finish our walk up the hill, they hang; hang, but refuse to ever fall, and something about that gives me hope. Finally, at the gates, Suzu turns towards me, her eyes red and puffy.

“Molly, I need to talk to you about last night.”

My heart sinks, and the sick feeling from the café comes back to me. She continues.

“I think I made a terrible mistake, and I don’t know how to take it back.”

And all those stars, hanging on their strings of hope, come crashing down to earth.


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Last edited by Feurox on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Gravity: A Molly Route Updated as of 07/19/2019

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:29 am

One heck of a cliffhanger, though one that was telegraphed quite heavily...
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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