Within These Worthless, Broken Wings

Within These Worthless, Broken Wings

1x1 between myself and FamishedPants. Read if you want, but please don't post a character.

757 readers have visited this universe since Tsukiakari created it.

Introduction

Within These Worthless, Broken Wings
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Kawazakura Town. A small, insignificant suburb, surrounded by equally small, equally insignificant suburbs, all of which were dwarfed by the renowned cities surrounding them. Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara... amongst so many well known places with so many well known sights, of what importance was this small town, or its residents? The answer, in short, is that they were of no notability whatsoever. They were normal people living normal lives in a normal town. They were born, they grew up, they went to school, they graduated, they went to work, and started families of their own. Some found the happiness they sought in life, and others did not. But, in any case, there was nothing out of ordinary about the city of Kawazakura, save, perhaps, the countless species of Sakura trees planted around the river running through its center, which earned the town its name: River Cherry Blossom Town. No matter what the season or the weather, at least some of these many trees were always blooming, showering the city in a gentle, pinkish rain. To the inhabitants of the city, that was just another ordinary thing in their ordinary lives. And so the people of the town lived on, just a sequence of disconnected points in space that sometimes met, sometimes joined for a time, and then were separated just as surely as the cherry blossoms eventually fell from the boughs of the famed trees upon which they bloomed, their lives short, beautiful, and, most of all, perfectly ordinary.

But sometimes, even ordinary things can seem miraculous, can't they? The blooming trees were always so glorious as they were reborn time and time again, reaching for the heavens over the tranquil river of Kawazakura. No matter how sad their eventual end, they continued to bloom, day after day and year after year. Wasn't that, in and of itself, extraordinary? Mundane though it might have been, perhaps there was a cycle through which sadness eventually might be defeated by joy, and hope might one day rise from the ashes of despair. And, perhaps, old dreams long since ended might restart where they had first begun, and might, rather than falling to pieces before the eyes of their lone dreamers, struggle forward to grasp the heavens themselves, and connect two of the single points long since severed and alone.

This is not a story of magic, or of adventure. This is a story of the mundane, of the miracles that, rare as they are in daily life, make all the difference to those they connect.

This is a story of the red string known as fate, and of the two points it connected and held tightly together despite the sorrow and despair that threatened to tear them apart.

This is the story of the extraordinary dream called "hope."

Prologue: Separation
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BGM: Separation


The sounds of revelry were heard almost throughout the entire city. Kawazakura Town's traditional fall festival dedicated to the newly bloomed fall Sakura trees, and to viewing their petals beginning to fall over the river, was quite possibly the town's most important ceremony. Almost every denizen of the suburb - a number which was still rather considerable despite its small size - attended. Many came dressed in Yukata, some even wearing very traditional Kimonos. They gathered in the small, flat glade by the banks of Kawazakura river, and beneath the pinkish flowers and the light of the full moon, they enjoyed themselves to the fullest until a very late hour, with countless festival shops and games to attract their fancy, and the fireworks show at the end of the celebration to commemorate the new season, and the new blossoming of the flowers that, despite their only recent blooming, would soon fall away and be carried off on the gentle current of the river over which they grew.

The girl in white didn't care about that. Perched on a small outcropping at the foot of the bridge that spanned the stream - predictably enough named the same as both the river and the city - she sat clad in the school uniform of the previous term - as it was one of the few sets of clothing she had that hadn't simply been shoddily repaired when what it needed was to be replaced, due to her rather limited personal budget - an outfit which would be replaced the very next day when the fall term was to begin. The thought of it brought a sigh of helpless irritation. While she hadn't particularly enjoyed her short break from classes, it was one less bothersome thing to worry about, and she wasn't particularly looking forward to being forced into an environment whose occupants loathed her almost as much as she mistrusted them.

While she might have once numbered herself amongst the joyous and carefree masses frolicking in the fair below, that had long since changed. She would never set foot in that festival again. That much she had sworn. At the thought of it, a sort of fire gleamed for a moment within her dead green eyes, and she gazed down at the yellow ribbon in her hand with the sort of disgust generally reserved for capital criminals and abominations. But, despite the venomous glare she shot at the seemingly insignificant object, as though exorcising it of some great evil with the sheer force of her hatred, she not one moment later wound it into her hair, tying off a sort of ponytail on the left side of her long, dark tresses, around which the ribbon spiraled like a double helix.

She had been wearing her old uniform then, too, for almost exactly the same reasons. She'd looked rather out of place in the gaudily colored sailor suit, sitting alone on the rocks beneath the bridge and crying her eyes out when all the rest of the city was rejoicing just below her. But despite this, all of those coming and going from the festival had been far too preoccupied to notice her lone, small form sitting in solitude over the river, and none had heard the sound of her quiet sobs over the shouts and laughter that wafted up from below. Everyone simply ignored her problems and went on as solitary dots, leaving her alone, a single point in space unconnected to anyone else. Everyone save one person, that is.

"Hey, are you okay?"


"No," The girl muttered icily under her breath, blinking away the memory as she rose to her feet, dusting herself off as though contaminated, although whether it was by the spot or by the memories it held was hard to say. Reaching out idly, she soon grasped one of the falling cherry blossoms as it wafted slowly downward towards the river far below. Glancing down at it, she gave a mirthless smirk, a twisted smile that was, quite simply, not.

She had tried to smile then, too, and had failed. The tears that still flowed from her eyes were a dead giveaway that she was lying when she nodded and tried to pretend everything was okay. But despite this, the speaker had drawn closer, his face concealed by the darkness of the evening and by the droplets that blurred her vision. And, as he continued to speak, kindness in every single cadence of his voice and in each reassuring touch, she had felt her sadness evaporating like melting snow. For that instant, as he led her down the hill and into the crowded, wondrous fairy-land of the festival, she had finally managed to accomplish the feat she had sought to achieve before: she had smiled. It was as though she had been reborn, as though through the simple kind gesture of wiping away her tears and inviting her to join him in the festival, the boy had led her down the path not to the small, well-lit glade below, but onto the road to recovery from her despair.

"There is no such thing as rebirth," She said at last, gazing down at the solitary flower petal as she spoke. Whether she was talking to herself, the flower, or to the ghosts of the past that haunted her was not clear, but the utter contempt that filled her voice could not be mistaken. "There is no hope of recovery."

"Why were you crying?"

"Because I'm useless. A useless being has no place in the world. A useless being should just go and die. I... I should just go and die, b-but I can't. Dying is scary. I'm too useless to even die properly," the girl had said tearfully. To her surprise, her comforter had reached out and grasped her chin gently, turning her gaze upward from where it had focused intently on the ground below.

"Hey, don't talk like that. People can change, can't they? I'm sure that if you just believe in yourself and work hard, you could do something great. Give yourself some credit, and believe in yourself. I've only just met you, but I can already tell you're someone worth believing in."


"Humans are Humans, and can never hope to change what we are. How can you believe in a caged bird with broken wings? How is a tree that does not bloom something worth believing in?" The girl hissed. "Our fate can't be so easily escaped. We stand up, we fall down, we are crushed-" In an instant, the girl's pale hand was clenched into a fist, and the soft flower petal gave a quiet crunch as it was ground into countless tiny fragments by her frail but iron grip.

Then, she spread her hands, and flung the scattered shards of the blossom to the breeze, letting it take them and whirl them away toward the rushing water that flowed far, far below.

"And we plummet helplessly into oblivion."

"Will you promise me? To believe in me always?"

"I promise."


"Liar."

"Then... say the words with me."

"Liar...!"

"Alright. Tell me if I say anything wrong, okay, Asuka? 'The world at times can be-'"

"Liar! That promise meant nothing, was nothing. And that so-called gift... the only thing you've given me is a reminder of my curse," The black haired girl snarled, her hands clenched in fists of rage as she gazed down with a righteous vengeance at the ground where the two had stood so long ago, and at the place where they had in the same night parted, never to meet again.

"I don't just hate you, I forget you. Leave me alone, forever!"

The fireworks had begun to burst overhead, but as Asuka spun about on the ball of her foot and strode away, leaving the festival and all of its accursed memories behind, she no longer cared. And yet, made plainly visible in the flashing, multicolored light above her, was the single golden ribbon that she still wore, even as she crossed the bridge, out of the light, and into darkness....

Can one such as me possibly be "loved?"

Next Chapter...

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The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 2 authors

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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BGM: Stride

For a while, the new kid simply stands there, glancing about himself in surprised silence. Well, I admit my method of bringing him into the room was a bit rough, but still, getting away from Shinji and Katsuro was important. While I am caving to their unspoken demands, I don't have to be polite about it, and besides, it was best to leave quickly before they decided to push their luck - read: push more tasks onto me. Commander Clueless here was too busy spacing out, anyway, and it'll do me good to keep him on his toes, anyway. I don't want him thinking he can push me around, if cultivating that impression is even at all possible.

When he finally does talk, it's with that annoying grin of his. I don't know where he's coming from, to be able to smile like that constantly, but at this point, I get the feeling he's just trying to irritate me. His words don't help any, since when he speaks, it's with a level of politeness and courtesy that just has to be forced, yet comes off as being flawlessly sincere.

"You sound like you believe I just want to run off and join the others. I'd much rather enjoy the tour, personally, but if it bugs you, you may continue at whatever pace you wish. Oh, and, I have no questions as of right now."

"Well, you don't look particularly comfortable here, anyway," I reply as innocently as I can, although my half-smirk betrays my real meaning. The rather accusing tone I used didn't help much, either. "Fine, then. If you're so eager for a tour, then I guess you should be happy. While I'd like to 'continue at whatever pace I wish,' I don't really have much choice in the matter, anyway. My dear brother and his associates will probably start getting troublesome if I skim over anything, and, as they're currently probably still waiting in the corridor, I suppose I'll just have to tolerate this for now." Turning about with a wry chuckle, I quickly find my way back to my seat and place myself casually in it, keeping an eye on my unwanted guest while I do.

"So, yeah. This is the library. Forgive me if I'm not the most entertaining guide ever, but I don't think there's much more to say on that count. Time to pretend I'm doing something productive for the next few minutes until I can finally get things moving again. Isn't this fun?" I snark again, making it pretty clear what I think of things while also helping me get a measure for exactly how far this kid's act goes. If he's going to keep up that annoying gentleman impression, I'm at least going to make it hard on him.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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It would seem like Asuka won't be dropping that tone of hers anytime soon, as even such as casual statement leaks sarcasm in it, and that was just her first sentence! She is apparently trying to express both her displeasure for her task, her dislike for me, and her hate for her brother and his friends all in only a couple of sentences by the way she makes everything seem so.... poisoned. It would take an idiot not to see the blantant hate that both ooze when in the presence of one another, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and believe it is genuine mostly. Not like other sibling rivalries where they seem to hate each other but then jump down someone's throat if they insult their brother/sister. They might laugh. Again, I feel this way with less than a whole day knowing either of them, so either it is true, or very wrong. I'll probably be completely sure at the end of the week at this rate.

I'll admit that I wasn't expecting her to do much during the tour, but I had hoped that maybe she'd show me a few of her favorite books or something because I can't think of anything else she does but read considering her attitude towards social interaction. Well, maybe she just hates my hair because it reminds her of my younger self, and she's actually a social--.... I probably shouldn't kid myself like that. It isn't mean accepting the truth; she probably has no friends aside from those books she probably immerses herself in. Her view of this world makes that theory quite feasible - what better way to look away from the ugly of one world than by staring at the beauty of another? Video Games interest me more than books, I'll admit, but I'm not her, and games are much harder to come by in a school anyways.

I hope that maybe we share the same genre interest, for at least she wouldn't be able to use her tongue against that. It wouldn't break me for her to point out all the stuff that she doesn't like about a certain category, but it would be nice to have, at the very least, one thing in common with her. Odds would be in my favor, for I like all different kinds of books. Action, Fantasy, Drama, Romance, Suspense.... They all interest me, but with my luck, she'd only like the few I don't.... I doubt she'd like autobiographies, because she wouldn't even be jumping out of this world when she read. I might as well take a gamble and throw out one of my more favorite kinds, and hope I at least don't somehow piss her off by saying that. Hopefully.

"Well..." I began, moving my glance around the entirety of the library. "I don't mind any of that, but I hope you can at least point me to some decent fantasy books? That's only if you know of any, of course. If not I'll simply scout for myself and not bother you."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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"How accommodating of you. You don't have to bother trying to be so polite all the time, you know. If you feel like you've gotten short shrift here, might as well just come out and say it. I don't really care all that much about your good opinion, anyway, so there's no need to make a doormat of yourself for my sake. I'm not buying what you're selling, regardless." I say rather pointedly, casually swirling the last remnants of my once-hot cocoa as I trace the white-haired boy's movements across the room. At this point, I don't really expect him to bluntly and truthfully state his honest opinion without being disgustingly obsequious or obliging about it, but I decide to press him on it anyway. Might as well see how much it takes to make him lose his composure, just for future reference. So far, so good, since he's stopped calling me "Yukinoshita-san" and has settled on the more blunt address of "you." (Anata.) Not exactly polite or formal, but still much moreso than my chosen derogatory yet similar pronoun. (Omae.)

Similarly, I'm not all that worried at this point about him taking any sudden actions. If he's this determined to keep the whole "nice guy" persona up - even in a locked room, one-to-one with someone who's probably already started to infuriate him, I might add - then I highly doubt he'll suddenly take a 180 in demeanor and start acting all threatening. Still, I decide to keep a steady watch on him, just in case. It's mostly out of habit, and serves the added purpose of making sure he doesn't mess up anything in my library. I don't need a bull in my china closet, thank you very much.

Just then, my thoughts are disrupted by another question. While normally I'd be pretty irritated that he still insists on bothering me when I want nothing more than to get this over with, this time is a little different. For one, his attitude seems a little less forced. How should I put this? Even if his act before now was almost flawless, it was still like he was just putting up with me because he felt somehow obligated to. At least, that was the only way I could explain him simply giving up and leaving earlier when it seemed like he was trying to be as polite as he possibly could. Now, though, I can tell that he's actually interested in something for once. It helps, too, that he's brought up one of the few subjects I actually like, although I doubt this is just a coincidence. I suppose there's no real need to be an ass about the books I like so much, so, against my better judgement, I let my own facade slip a little, and give up on trying to break down the act of my unwanted conversational partner for the time being.

"So you're a bookworm, huh?" I ask with a wry half-smile, an expression a little less sour than my usual patented evil eye. "Well, at least we have one thing in common, then, and that's more than I can say for most people." Taking a sip of my cocoa, I ponder the subject for a moment, and then continue, rising from my chair and beginning to search a nearby stack.

"Well, since this is a school library, and a small one, at that, you don't really see many fantasy novels besides the really famous ones. Even with the additions I've made - at least, while the Lit club had a budget - most of the fantasy books we have are either ones you've probably already read, or in foreign languages. Well, or manga, but I have a feeling that's not exactly what you're looking for." Glancing about, my eyes fall upon a stack of more compact volumes, only recently set aside after being completely read through. It was a series I enjoyed a great deal thanks to its sarcastic humor and creative premise, and, although it was a light novel collection rather than a full-blown one, I figured I might as well recommend it.

"Hey, how about these books here?" I ask, motioning to the pile, from which stared up an anime-styled portrait of a red-headed girl with a wolf's ears and tail, labeled prominently with the title Ōkami to Kōshinryō (Spice and Wolf). "It's not exactly full-blown magical fantasy, but it has a pretty interesting concept and compelling story. You might like it. It's set in a sort of medieval Western culture, but with elements of traditional Youkai stories thrown in. It's got a pretty heavy focus on economics rather than actions, though, so if you're just looking for a light, easy-to-grasp read, it might not be the best choice." Without even realizing it, I find myself falling a lot more naturally than I'd have expected into the role of librarian and guide, quickly and precisely listing off the pros and cons of the book without even hesitating in my speech. As I did so, I didn't even realize that I'd stopped with my abrasive tone and wording altogether, caught up by accident in a trap I'd already recognized as such. By the time I realized that I was actually drawing small enthusiasm from the subject, I'd already finished talking, and, although I quickly corrected the slight smile that had taken shape on my once-again distant and aloof expression, I probably couldn't be so fortunate as to hide anything beyond that, having already made my little speech and suggestion. Damn. Perhaps this Yoshida boy was more charismatic than I'd realized...

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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As she tells me to drop the 'act' that I have been putting up, I can't help but wonder when she'll realize that I am not acting, and am simply able to smile so easily. Far be it from easy to do this, I've heard, but because I can in fact just smile like I do, it isn't impossible, though Asuka seems to think that it is, as far as I can tell. Just like 'usual' - if I can use that word for the short amount of time we've known each other - I don't really allow any of that to change how I act, and continue smiling, challenging her 'belief' that I'm doing this simply for her sake. I'm not.

When she begins to answer my question with one, rhetorical as it might be, of her own, I can't help but chuckle a bit and naturally, my hand reaches to the back of my neck and begins to rub. "Well, I wouldn't say 'bookworm', but I really do enjoy sitting down on occasion and reading a nice book." I explain almost humble-like in a way. Before I know it and after my hands return to their normal places at my side, I somehow smile a bit wider as I get to witness her be enthusiastic about something that isn't negative and down-inducing. Again, knowing her for only a day, I can't say for the complete percentage that this is true, but I have a feeling that seeing her like this is... uncommon, rare possibly.

While she goes on explaining to me about the library, I listen with both ears, enjoying this moment of actual conversation. I know that any talk between the two of us has, for the most part, been just myself trying to get her to smile, willingly and truthfully. That, or she'd insult me or otherwise let unpleasantries out of her mouth. I find it odd I can say that and I don't recall her using a curse word yet. Hopefully, one of those words leaving her mouth is less common than an actual smile from her, which I know might be one of those things I cannot ever see again. I should be glad I got to see it when we were younger, but I am not. Well, not wholefully. I mean, I can't think of a more cherished memory than that, rivaling anytime I've ever spent with Sakura, but I won't allow myself to be happy because I never came back - now doesn't count - and I might as well have gave her the finger as I left.

Wait.

Can it be? I notice something small, barely perceptible curved-shape on her mouth. It gave me hope. Hope that I might be able to see more of that if I can 'worm', as I'm sure she words it in her mind, into a better standing with her. Hope that I am the cause of said smile, because causing happiness to someone else is just something I enjoy doing. And finally, hope that this friggin book is pretty good, because that would just be icing on the cake. If she can smile, then I can maybe change what I'm pretty sure I did, and that's enough for me. But Rome wasn't built in a day, and niether are relations, and maybe, just maybe, I can be a friend. It is definetly worth a shot.

"Thank you, Yukinoshita-san. The book sounds like it would be enjoyable, which is more than I can say for one I would likely have picked at random, after seeing I had spent too much time screwing around." I express my gratitude with my casual tone, which is anything but. I had been told at one time I sound like a mother greeting her son's girlfriend, which hopefully is a good thing. I guess, apart from my head, it sets me out from the crowd. A brief glance at her emerald orbs takes place before I take the book out of the pile, looking over the cover. It seems well enough to read, and with a reccomendation, what do I have to lose? "It seems perfect for now."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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(Back to Touhou songs. XD)

As my charge gives his reply, something tells me he noticed the small slip-up I tried to hide. He hid it well, but there was somehow an air of self-satisfaction in his countenance that was ever-so-slightly different from his somewhat tense manner upon entering the room. It wasn't all that hard to guess why he'd have suddenly changed. There were several possibilities, but, in the end, they all amounted to the same thing. He had noticed my half-smile upon actually doing something as a librarian for the first time in a few months, and had settled upon that as some kind of indicator. On the one hand, he might have decided that I was secretly vulnerable, and would now endeavor to make me show that weakness to him through false smiles and feigned kindness, just so he could wrench the dagger deeper into my already fragile heart, so to speak. Still, this approach seemed, admittedly, unlikely, and was probably just an imagining of my paranoid mind. Generally, if somebody wanted you to feel broken and depressed, they would be much more quick and direct about it. There was, in my experience, no such thing as a sophisticated bully. They would call you names or break your nose or beat you until you couldn't move, but they would never settle upon a long and arduous course of manipulation for the express purpose of breaking you as a human being. It just wasn't worth the time. Why shatter your heart when they could much more easily crush your body and lay waste to your will? The results were the same, anyway.

Similarly unlikely was the opposite approach. While it could have meant that he was simply glad to see me smile, and felt successful for having done so, this could be crossed off the list of possibilities with similar ease. Every person in the world has an ulterior motive of some sort. There are no wandering philanthropists who live to bring happiness to others at the expense of their own time and effort, and to think that this strange transfer student was something like that was simply naive foolishness. I have learned this same painful lesson many times over, and have no need to be taught it again. That's right... that worthless, lying voice called "hope" only serves to bring us more pain if we listen to it. Better to dismiss false light outright and live forever in darkness than to try to brighten yourself, only to have that light snatched yet again. I don't intend to make my own life more miserable, so I turn away from this idealistic silliness and embrace reality once again.

The most likely plan Yoshida has for me is to win me over, just to see if he can. Given how he made his introduction - calling me "beautiful" and trying to cheer me up, even when it was pretty obvious I wasn't buying it, and making those strange comments about remembering me - he was probably trying to make himself seem memorable, harmless, polite, and kind. The whole "Knight in Shining Armor" act only made this more clear. Likely, he would embrace and yet attempt to overcome my cynicism for one reason: to gain my trust, win my heart, enjoy me as his puppet, and then throw me away when something more interesting came along. Probably, he just wanted to try his hand at being Casanova, and seeing someone apparently downtrodden, helpless, and lonely, an isolated outcast who he could easily bend to serve his purposes, thought he'd found an easy target. Well, if that was the case, he'd find me a much more difficult conquest than he expected. I didn't care to be toyed with or manipulated, and if that was his goal, then I'd impede his progress at every step of the way.

...Starting now. The first order of business is obviously to undo the damage I've already done, but I can't be obvious about it. For example, if I were to start acting even more rude than I was at first to drive him away, it would be painfully clear that I was just trying to keep up an act - a harsh, cold exterior meant to protect myself from harm. "I-It's not like I'm showing you this for your sake, you know! I'm just doing this because I have to, so quit smirking, you idiotic dog!" and similar remarks are completely out of the question. Besides, to even consider acting like that, I'd need a second ponytail. So, instead, I just need to revert to normal and act like nothing ever happened. If I could just stay cool and keep my guard up, I could cast doubt onto the truth of the self I'd let show a moment before. Resolving thus, I cleared my mind and began to speak, using the first response that even seemed appropriate in the hopes of acting as natural as possible.

"Heh. Well, then, if you're satisfied, shall we continue? The idiots outside will probably have left, which means there's no sense in idling here any longer. I have much better uses for my time, so can we get going?"

...

Damnit. I still sounded like a Tsundere there, didn't I? A very sarcastic one, but a Tsundere nonetheless.

...

I really, really hope he doesn't recognize anime cliches.

...

Oh, who am I kidding. I'm just digging my own grave even deeper at this point.

...

Wait a minute, another thought. That was one of the first responses I came up with. In short, that means that's something I actually felt like saying! I didn't fake that, which means-

...

NOT. GOING. THERE. I reject the existence of that train of thought. As far as I'm concerned, that never happened. That was most certainly just an act, and my brain is definitely not subtly trying to make me turn into a sugar-and-ice character archetype. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me, especially not anything even vaguely relating to the characterization known as "Tsundere!"

...

Definitely not.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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I can tell. I can tell something's going on in her head, but as to what, I am unsure. Everything about her seems to be thought over before being commenced; every movement, ever word, every breath. I have to wonder if she's just playing chess or something in her mind each and every second, thinking over each and every possibility before making her move in order to have the best outcome. I could only assume that whatever it is, it's complicated and elaborate. Or just something with too much thought put into it. If this is the case and I'm not just thinking random thoughts on the matter, then I believe that we contrast greatly in that effect, for I spend too small amount of time with my actions. I simply play by ear. I guess this has its ups and downs because I don't take much time in responding which makes conversation flow smoother, but I bet it would be possible for myself to seize better outcomes to situations if I had given an extra moment or two to think it over. If that's the case, well, I guess I should switch myself up sometime.

It must be strange that I am already used to her tone of voice at this point in our short, short relationship. It doesn't really have much of an effect on me but I believe that it is because she just acts this way for everyone, not just myself. Of course, I think this one sounded a bit.... Tsundere. Just a little bit though - I'm not too big on the slice-of-life anime and manga that Tsunderes are known to inhabit. It still sounded just like her though, so I think I'm just in the need of my fix of some form of Japanese entertainment for today, that must be it. Only with strength can one endure suffering and torment, so that means I must be strong, right?

Ha.

Even I laugh at myself.

"Of course, Yukinoshita-san." Aside from wasting her precious time, I have not a single thing left to do here but simply gaze around, therefore I see no reason to rob her of her wishes of solitary confinement within a library. It is the least I can do since she actually took time to explain what kind of content this book withheld inside of it, which is more than I can say anyone else might've ever even seen in their lifetimes, I am almost completely sure. I even saw a smile from her, and I haven't seen one of those in so many years, so ha, this 'tour' wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Certainly, it was a much better interaction between the two of us than the roof, so job well done and whatnot.

I'm too happy for one simple smile.

Calm down, Hideyeki, you didn't do anything too special.

Now if you made her laugh, or do a flip!....

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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(Yeah, more Touhou BGMs. XD)

Although my charge agrees with me almost immediately, I can't help but notice that he seems very pleased with himself somehow. That contented smile hasn't faltered for a minute, but now it seems even more annoying than usual. His words seem almost knowing, which means he probably, as I feared, picked up on the slightly-too-blatant reminder of my time preferences. This is probably his way of calling my bluff without ever even having to break his carefully crafted facade. In short, he's just trying to get me flustered, something which I'm quickly realizing he is some kind of super-genius at doing. Still, I can't afford to lose my composure. At this point, if I was to do that, everything I've done so far would be for naught. I absolutely cannot allow him to see right through me, no matter what.

This situation, it's all wrong. Past experience tells me that everyone around me will just approach me directly and bluntly call me out on what I am: a useless, hopeless outcast. It's always been that way. So why is it that this anomaly has suddenly appeared? Why is there now a person who's actually pretending to be nice to me, someone who's simply going along with all of my acts meant to piss him off without even batting an eyelash or even ceasing to smile? I don't have any experience dealing with this sort of interaction. I don't know how to drive somebody like this away! I can't cope with this weird situation! How am I supposed to keep him away through my own facade if his act is even better? He has the advantage of experience and skill, and has already started to find ways to circumvent my outward identity completely and to break my composure. I'm already in the process of being completely outmaneuvered, and I can't even seem to find a way to make him leave me alone. I can make it as hard on him as I like, but at this rate, the ending will, without a doubt, be completely unfavorable to me, even if I thwart his probable goal of using me.

But I can't let him know that I've realized this. If he understands that I'm already beginning to crack under the weight of an unfamiliar situation, then he'll just press his advantage. I just have to stay calm, and think this out like I always do. If I can just regain my composure, then maybe I can still make the things he's noticed thus far just seem like flukes, or, even better, delusions of his own optimism. So, gathering my wits as best I can, I quickly - but not too quickly - make my way toward the door, sidestepping a few large piles of books and heading back to the exit.

"Well, then, let's get going," I speak in a resigned tone, not trying to seem overt about my distaste for the situation, but not really bothering to hide it, either. It seemed more natural, in my opinion, which was a good sign for the future. If I could just keep my act together, I might just be able to survive this situation with my reputation as an antisocial egotist intact. If I could just last a little longer....

I reach the door. Opening it, I motion for the white-haired boy behind me to hurry up and get going, stepping aside to allow him through. Even if his polite act means he probably won't try anything, I still don't trust anybody in my library unsupervised.

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Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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I follow behind Asuka as she makes here way to the door of the library, after voicing her desire to get this show on the road. As I remember, she has still got me for a little bit because she is supposed to show me what I am supposed to be doing. A chore, was it? I seem to have forgotten, how careless of me, but because I usually play life by the ear, this doesn't surprise or impede me in the least.

I step out the door and turn around as I wait for her to 'barricade' it shut or something. If the library 'needed to be protected from those who would destroy it' came out her mouth - that of course being paraphrased - then I'd not be too surprised. Whoever 'those' are. Yukinoshita seems a bit... paranoid about her library, or at least I get that feeling. Either way, it doesn't really matter to myself so long as it doesn't cause her or anyone else harm - and how can that possibly cause harm? Maybe if someone snuck in and got locked up..... for a while. Summer break, yeah that ought to do it.

What am I even thinking of?

I wonder what kind of adventure this school is going to be. Not that I believe that school is an 'adventure' in reality. The only time I've heard someone call it that was in the school-made PSAs or their advertisements. To me, I believe adventuring is daring, exciting and fun which school rarely fits into the category of. In general, I believe it to be a waste of time for anything other than academic purposes. This is good considering the fact that that's exactly what they are made for and try to be, so I can't complain now, can I?

Something about not talking would feel awkward to me. Maybe not her, but me. I come up with a random subject to start off with, though I'm positive she'll give me a time trying to keep it going. "Yukinoshita-san, does this school have any special activities, such as festivals or the such?" I asked, but then add. "Aside from the one the town has, of course. Does this school have a book fair?" While I'm sure I'd get a better response by just asking about the book fair, I'd personally like to know what the school is going to do - and I only expect a name and the basic of it. I can find out details from someone else if I really like the sound of one. That, and simply talking about books would probably give her weird ideas, like I'm just trying to nestle my way into her head or something just to break or betray her, like she's made it sound like the world has done.

Betraying her.....

I won't do it ever again, but if she knew, would I have ever had the second chance? Probably not.

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Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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(Asuka is trying really, really hard not to be a Tsundere. I'll give her that much. XD)

It seems the new boy has no objections to leaving and continuing on our not-so-merry way, since he follows me the moment I move for the door, and steps out quickly. I follow quickly on his heels, intending to go through my usual pattern of stepping out, shutting the door behind me, and locking it out of habit, only to be slightly surprised, as it seems Yoshida managed to predict I'd do this, since he stops almost immediately and turns about as though waiting for something. Unfortunately, it is even more evident that he forgot that the library door opens outward. Why do I say this? Well, it's because he stopped rather close to the door. Specifically, close enough that I, who was neither paying much attention to him nor expecting him to halt so suddenly, ended up taken by surprise, trying and failing to stop myself in time as I stumbled a single step too many forward, giving a slight cry of surprise as I found myself colliding with Yoshida, catching instinctively onto the nearest available handhold - his shoulders - for support as, despite my valiant attempts to stay standing on my own, I found my head buried in his chest. Although it wasn't as though I'd fallen completely over and ended up lying top of him or anything similarly stupid - look, we were walking, and he was at least a head taller than me, not to mention much more well-built that my own somewhat fragile physique. It was highly unlikely that I even had enough force or mass to make him stumble, let alone fall backward - the end result was more than sufficiently awkward/embarrassing/aggravating/infuriating/choose whatever similar adjective you like. Again I find myself wondering if he is some kind of diabolical mastermind whose single goal in life is to make me lose my composure, or just an idiot who serves the same purpose regardless due to a mutual lack of common social skills and a series of bizarre, freak accidents. At the moment, it didn't really matter to me, though. In an instant, my face had begun to turn quite considerably red, and I suddenly found it very difficult to remain calm and to concentrate on how to maintain my mask. You know, for some reason I now completely understood exactly why characters in fiction, when faced with similar situations, more often than not simply responded with seemingly irrational anger and shouts of "idiot!" or other such insults. I was feeling just a little bit livid, and it was becoming hard to resist the urge to do the same. Of all the annoying, embarrassing things, the seemingly innocuous act of stopping in someone else's way and causing them to run into you was suddenly rising very rapidly on my list of unforgivable social indignities.

But, I have to remain calm. Especially after my failures to maintain my facade before now, it is absolutely imperative that I not slip up now. Just stay cool, resist the urge to act out of embarrassment and irritation - and probably just humiliate myself more in the process - and things can still be salvaged. Oh, and also, whatever you're going to think up, brain, could you please do it fast? I've been in this situation for a little over a second now, and I seem to have completely recovered my balance. If I don't move quickly, things will become much, much more awkward, very quickly.

Acting on the first somewhat reasonable plan out of my head, I swiftly reposition myself, stepping back without raising my head in a somewhat futile attempt to hide the blush my face was now sporting. Perhaps it's childish of me, but if he is subtly orchestrating everything like some manipulative mastermind just so he can wreck what little serenity I have, I don't want to give him the sense of victory that would come from seeing that his plan had worked perfectly. And, even if he's not, I still don't like people seeing how easily I get embarrassed. It's annoying.

Keeping my hands on Yoshida's shoulders, I brace myself, then muster what strength I have to push him gently yet firmly a step backward and out of my way. Considering he's probably surprised from having me suddenly crashing headlong into and falling against him, I'm hoping I'll be able to move him without much difficulty. "Why are you stopping like that, exactly? I can't close the door if I'm stuck standing in it, you know," I say as I swiftly disengage myself, spinning about to keep my face from view until I can calm down a bit. Taking hold of the door, I close it swiftly, then pretend not to know which pocket the keys to the lock are in, just to buy myself some extra time. "Finding" them at last, I swiftly take them, place them in the lock, and methodically seal off my sanctum until my next return. Withdrawing the key, I at last turn about, taking control of my expression and my emotions as best I can.

"Well? What are you standing around for? Let's get going. What haven't the others showed you already?" I say pointedly, trying to move the situation away from what had just happened as quickly as possible. I don't like it when the conversation dwells on something I find awkward, like a clumsy mistake of mine or something similarly puerile, and if at all possible, I will prevent our discussion from reaching that point at all. If not, then I'll just perform damage control as best I can.

I sigh. This is why I avoid people. Well, awkward situations like this, and the fact that most people I know happen to hate my guts and remind me of all of the shortcomings I already know I have on every possible occasion. What exactly did I do to deserve this?

Oh. Right. I forgot. It's because I've committed the unforgivable sin of existing. By being born, I brought this upon myself, didn't I?

This isn't a subject I like to think about any more than I like to dwell on the embarrassment I'm only just now getting over, so I decide to drop it as well. I just hope this nuisance has enough tact not to bother me about all this. It's his fault, anyway.

...Baka.

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There was the smallest thump and I felt something hit my chest. There was no pain from it, but I could still feel it. As I looked down to see what it was that hit me, it hit me - it was her running into me. Her head found itself onto my chest and I bet from another it would have looked how it shouldn't have, and that kinda scared me. There was a lag with my movements before I reacted though - I still had to realize what was happening - and it was only after then did I show signs of life, aside from my widened eyes that is.

I begin to realize how this had happened as I also realize the door was opened towards me. Was. Because I had not paid attention to my surroundings, Yukinoshita-san had probably went to turn to leave her locked sanctuary and that's when she was met with my clumsy self. Gosh! I'm such an idiot! That's so stupid - forgetting which way a door opens! Who does that?! I mean sure, it isn't something you memorize for when you get home, but when you're standing right next to it and....... ! Gah! I need to pay much much more attention to where I'm going or something worse can happen.

Good thing she couldn't knock me over.....

I decide that thinking about a really awkward situation while in an awkward situation is probably not the brightest idea and that thought is thusly and swiftly removed from mind as I take my apologetic face instantly. "Ah! I'm so sorry, Yukinoshita-san!" I don't go into a bow, but someone who might have overheard us may think of someone bowing when they heard me speak - I was sincere after all. I nudge only slightly from her push, but enough for her. She then gives me information suggesting my theory on this awkward occurance was correct and so I feel even worse because it was my own carelessness. Glad she walked into me and not the other way around, or I could've actually hurt her. in comparison to her slender figure, mine looks like a brute's.

When she had turned and began locking the door, the red on my own face which had remained hidden from her sight as hers was from my own, had begun leaving my cheeks... somewhat. I will say that it has been quite a while since I've genuinely been embarrassed in such a way. First day of school and you're trying to bulldoze down woman. Nice work, Hideyeki.

After Yukinshita-san turns to me and begins speaking, I'm relieved to hear she wants to put this behind her. If I don't have to think of it, I'll be happy because I'm honestly upset a bit at myself for being such a clutz. But to the task at hand..... Did we miss anything on the tour? I'm not sure..... "Uh...." I take a moment to think. "They showed me most everything around here, I believe. I know where the classes and sort are, and the gym." I scratch my head.

Note to self: Short-term memory loss is a side-effect of Embarrassment.

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Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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"Alright, good," I reply quickly, jumping at my chance. It looks like he doesn't overly like the situation, either, so I guess that makes it easier on me to quickly pass over any discussion of the embarrassing accident that just occurred. "In that case, I won't have to take you through the first floor and the sports clubs, then, at least." Turning and beginning to walk towards the far end of the hallway, I glance back over my shoulder. "Come on," I add. "If you don't hurry up, all the schmucks looking to join a club will be up here within a few minutes, and, although you might not have noticed, I'm really not the type of person who jumps at the chance of meeting new people." With this, I manage to lapse back into my usual calm persona, flawlessly delivering one of my usual bits of sarcasm before turning away again and heading for the nearest door, one across the hallway.

"The Library is the only club location on the left of the hall. Everything else on this side is either a science lab or a teacher's office. In order, the other clubs are..." I swing open the first sliding door, revealing a traditional-style room floored with tatami with a small, cushioned ring at the center. There are several people standing around in white gi uniforms, most of whom are going through various physical drills or practicing complex-seeming techniques on each other. "Aikido," I say by way of explanation, allowing my charge a moment to glance in before turning, shutting the door again, and moving on to the next one. Going through the same routine with each door, I quickly list off the Tea Ceremony club, the Anime and Manga club, the Video Game club, the Light Music club, the Computer Sciences club, the Occult and Traditional Mythology research club, and a small three man Society devoted entirely to filming some sort of amateur Super Sentai production that was trying now for what seemed like the millionth time to be recognized as an official club. This last item's name was rather long and silly, though, so I shorted it to the "Society of Idiots with Video Cameras and too Much Time on Their Hands." They just glare at me from inside the largely empty room they occupy, but, seeing who it was who insulted them, don't otherwise acknowledge my presence. I can see why they wouldn't bother. I'm a legendary antisocial and sarcastic bitch and I know it.

"And that concludes our short and completely pointless tour," I finish, shutting the last door and turning back to my unwanted charge. "Thank you for participating, and please visit our gift shop so we can persuade you to waste all your money on a thousand things you couldn't conceivably need in this life or the next. You know, I can't help but wonder if those buffoons actually expected I'd give you any sort of explanation more detailed than a brief summary introduction. But, it doesn't matter. Let's head down so we can clean the classroom and leave before the herd makes their way up here." I don't really notice it, but I find myself speaking more naturally that I was before. Nothing has changed in my demeanor or my attitude - I'm still as asinine and cold as always - but despite that, I'm beginning to grow a little more used to dealing with this boy's presence without having to analyze everything that happens around us, and, because of that, I'm saying a lot more and doing it with a lot less restraint that I usually do.

I just hope he doesn't get the wrong idea and think I'm trying to get chummy with him. I'm not warming up to you, I'm just adapting to your unwanted presence, you got that? I want to say it out loud, but I decide against it. Nobody said anything about befriending anyone, so there's no need to bring it up. If you do, you just sound suspicious, not to mention stupid and cliche. No, the Tsundere option is most certainly not going to be my first resort. It's not even going to be my last resort. In fact, it's not going to be any sort of resort whatsoever! I hereby disavow all that Tsundere is and stands for! Hah! Take that, brain!

...

I wonder if I'm going crazy, or if I was always this way. If it's the former, I blame Katsuro and Shinji, and their contagious stupidity. And Yoshida, for that matter. In fact, I think I'll just blame Yoshida. He's the one who's been screwing with my composure ever since the moment he first approached me. Yeah. That makes sense. I'm just stressed. Not crazy, just stressed.

...

Or I'm a sociophobic lunatic with Dissociative Personality Disorder, but excuse me if I don't particularly like that option.

(By the way, Famished, happy 4th of January, also known as the first anniversary of the release of Katawa Shoujo! In light of this fact, I'm A: using one of its BGMs and B: going to go replay it, so excuse me if my responses are a little delayed by das uberfeels. See you around!)

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Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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With the awkwardness of the prior situation being pushed aside, hopefully forgotten by the both of us, I continue follow my tourguide as she leads me around the various clubs of the school, offering the briefest of explanations before moving on, never stopping for more than a few seconds. I believe that I do enjoy these tours more so than longer ones. Probably because I can guess what happens in anime club or a science class. It isn’t like you need to tell me and, most likely because she just doesn’t feel like it, she doesn’t over-elaborate. Simple and clean, the tour is.

Although I have not joined a club in my lifetime, the Akido club and anime club pique my interest, for my old schools had none of the sort. Maybe, just maybe I’ll join one. It would give me something to do other than be physically abused by my younger sibling, though I do enjoy that time so. I’ll ask later, when I’m not being a nuisance to Yukinoshita-san.

As the tour comes to a sarcastic close, I chuckle just slightly at her bit about the gift shop, mostly because I honestly don’t get the point in gift stores as well, aside from draining someone’s wallet. It was a genuine chuckle too… well, that’s not to say my smiles, laughs and chuckles are false all of the time, but this one was…. More genuine. “I don’t mind the short tour. In fact, I prefer it. Short and to the point with no unnecessary details or information I’m liable to simply forget unless I joined. If I really wanted to know more about a club, I could simply ask someone in it.” I give a small bow – a “thank you” for bearing with me this entire time. I do think I notice she’s…. actually somewhat talkative. At least more than before. Maybe it’s just me. Then again, I’m not really talking too much anymore, so I’m probably forcing her to because she wants to avoid awkward silence……..nah.

“If that is all we have left to do, then we should get to it. I wouldn’t want to waste more of your time, Yukinoshita-san.” I smile.

Smiling and not wasting her time is the least I can do for destroying her life…..

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Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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I raise an eyebrow as he simply chuckles and seamlessly goes into a routine about how my short tour - if it could be called that - was exactly the thing he was hoping for. He grins, and essentially just parrots my own words back at me. Is he trying to be witty, or just being ridiculously humble in the hopes of somehow winning my favor? Well, I don't think it's the former. He said that with such a straight face, it's hard to read sarcasm into his statement, even if it seems like the most natural connotation for his words. But, on the other hand, I really can't be sure. Deciding to take a somewhat middle-of-the-road approach, I simply snark at him as I always have. "Have you ever heard the expression, 'If you're overly polite, it borders on rudeness'?" I ask rhetorically. "Or, if you were trying to be funny, should I be flattered that my love of subtle wit is apparently contagious?" Sighing, I turn away and motion for him to follow me to the stairs. "Whatever. It doesn't matter. Let's just get going. The classrooms should be empty about now, so we shouldn't have any trouble."

Opening the door to the stairs, I start making my way down, not even bothering to look back and see if my exasperating charge is following me. Immediately, I'm assailed by the sounds of voices echoing up the stairwell from the first floor. So, there are still students in the hallways, huh? Probably going to and from the sports clubs, if I had to guess what they were up to. It seems that they're also beginning to make their way up to the indoor clubs, as I'm shoved rather carelessly aside by two students who pay me no mind as they just continue strolling along up the stairs. I'm long since used to this treatment, though, and take it in stride, not even losing my balance as I just continue heading down. The door at the bottom of the stairwell opens with a creak, and I step out into the hallways. A couple students start slightly, and move a little ways away. It seems my favored facial expression, a haughty one of bored distaste for the world in general, is enough to make people think I'm in a sour mood - my only setting is 'sour,' okay? - and those more easily cowed by the rumors decide not to get in my way. Well, I suppose there are upsides to being universally hated. Since I'm afraid I'm not adequate enough to be loved, I'll settle for feared. Thanks, Machiavelli.

Cutting my way through the crowd without much interruption - save those anonymous faces bold enough to bump into me or otherwise try to trip me up for some quick laughs, then fade into the crowd before I can deploy my angry face - I quickly make my way to the classroom, entering it and sitting down while I wait for him to catch up. I take a glance out the window, watching the sunset outside with a someone bored air. I hope that idiot hasn't gotten lost or distracted by a particularly shiny object along the way, because I'm only going to do this once, and it's only for his sake that I'm even here. Baka.

...

Damnit, brain! I thought I told you to stop that!

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Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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It’s only because it is her that I actually pause everything and consider what she said. Maybe I am being a bit too polite. But it’s not like I can stop – not near her. Not after leaving her to a cruel world and breaking a promise. If I ruined her life, it is only fair I help fix it in some way if I can, right?

And thusly, I find myself thinking a bit too hard on a harmless comment made by a sarcastic girl.

“Yukinoshita-san… If you feel I am being rude or insulting, please tell me.” I almost ask of her. I’m quite a silly person, aren’t I? My mouth is still curved into that same, stupid smile I always have on, but I can’t say I’m feeling stupidly happy at the moment right now. Ever since I’ve met this girl, I’ve been acting quite strange. Almost like myself one moment, and then worried or depressed the next. My smile is bright and it is dim spontaneously, and I can’t figure out why. I must be troubled – no – I am troubled with what I’ve done, but more than I originally thought I guess. Something just doesn’t feel entirely right about being near her, but leaving her alone doesn’t feel just either.

I resist the urge to literally shake this confusion from my head.

Our footsteps clack as we walk across the stairs of the school, as well as others. Maybe because I’ve been thinking a lot, I seem to have fallen a bit behind Asuka. As I catch a glimpse of her back, I also see her shoved aside as if she were nothing. She doesn’t even look behind. That does anger me a bit. They don’t treat her with any respect, as if she were nothing. I catch stares with one of the boys, who seems to be smiling. I can’t tell if it’s because he just did that, or because of what his friend and him were talking about, but either way, it’s uncalled for. Doing nothing, I continue behind my guide.

I’m afraid that treatment doesn’t change once we enter the hallway. As I shut the door to the stairs behind me and continued behind Yukinoshita-san, I look up to see her braving the crowds of students, some of which intentionally bump into her and I think I ever saw a foot try to catch hers. I wonder if this happens to her often and the fact that she carries on without missing a beat gives me an answer I don’t really care for. No, that’s incorrect; I hate it. I can’t stand anyone picking on somebody, and the whole school seems to be picking on her. I’m slowly beginning to realize that my comment about looking at the world a different way might have been useless if the ugly world just stands in your way on purpose. It seems that even as she’s parted from her mischievous brother, she’s treated almost less than dirt by the rest of the student body.

I might be the only one who has genuinely not wanted to annoy or harm her in some way.

I might be the only nice one to her.

That almost makes me sick. It almost makes me throw up that the town I’ve gone back to after so long has turned into…. This.
And she doesn’t even deserve it. I do, don’t I? For lying and leaving.

The door to the classroom creaks a bit as I open it. Asuka is already in here, sitting down and gazing towards the orange windows. I almost mutter “Beautiful, isn’t it?” but I’m coming to feel that such pointless comments would only annoy the girl before me. I instead just keep my smile. It would do no good to lose it now, would it? I watch the brilliant orange for a minute, maybe two, before I decide that I won’t be the one breaking the silence, for I’ll either come across as hasty, or stupid. Even if I probably look that way right now, I don’t speak.

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Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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"Well?" I ask at last, turning back my head to gaze pointedly over my shoulder, my emerald eyes flashing with their usual piercing light as, I should hope, I drag my somewhat distracted companion back down to earth. Apparently hypnotized by the view of the sunset dropping slowly beneath the crest of the hill the school is built on top of, even though he entered the room shortly after me, Hideyeki's simply been standing around, staring into space. I give him time to say something, but, evidently, he's leaving it to me to break the silence. Well, at least he's not rhapsodizing about something inane, or trying to act all nice. I think I'm managing to outwit him, whatever his plans are, since it seems he's no longer trying to endear himself with me. So, now I guess it's my job to be as generally asinine as I can no matter what he does, hiding my secrets from him and hopefully frustrating him into just giving up on... on whatever it is he wants from me. I won't be fooled again, no matter what.

Still, I have to admire the boy's persistence, in at least some capacity. Unlike most people who deal with me on a regular basis, he's managed to keep largely composed. I'm not even sure how much of what he's saying is partially true and how much is just a lie. But, at any rate, I've as of yet failed to break down his act completely enough to tell. I have to wonder how many times he's wormed his way into others' good graces, since he seems uncannily good at it. At any rate, he's clearly a cut above most of the idiots I usually deal with, and not someone who should be taken lightly.

"Are you just going to stand there, or can we actually get things done so I can go home?" I ask bluntly, standing up and crossing my arms casually as I turn to coldly appraise the boy in the doorway. Yup. He seems totally spaced out, as I thought. I wonder if he's trying to psychoanalyze me, or something? He's probably just letting me lead for now so he can get a feel for my personality. If he knows more about me, he'll probably be able to devise some method of pushing my buttons, and I know it. And, as I don't particularly like being toyed with, this presents a bit of a problem for me. I need to distance myself, then.

"Well! Come on," I say more forcefully, motioning to the several desks still set up in the middle of the classroom. Normally I'd just do it myself instead of expecting help from somebody else, but I feel like I can push my reputation just a little bit with this kid, since he's new and inexperienced at dealing with me - for the moment. And, I know that he'll have no choice but to lend a hand if he wants to keep up his nice guy appearance. For now, it's my turn to manipulate him, and we both probably know it. "Help me move these into the corners so we can sweep off the floor." I pick up a desk to demonstrate, but I'm not exactly the strongest, nor the most coordinated person in the world, so it takes me a moment to get my balance while straining to keep a hold on the surprisingly heavy object. Trying to adjust my grip as I walk, however, I realize only too late that a large cabinet against the side wall is just a little closer than I thought. With a loud bang, the leg of the desk collides with the cabinet, the impact in turn causing me to drop the desk and, to my surprise, also dislodging a heavy-looking globe perched atop the cabinet. I realize only too late that this falling sphere is now headed straight for the top of my head, and, with my balance taken by the collision, I can't get out of the way in time. Can't be helped, then. I just hope this doesn't break my wrist. Bringing up my arms over my head, I try to shield my skull from the impact, at the same time taking a step backward. Hopefully, the globe will just glance off my arms instead of striking them directly. Then, I might just get out of this with just a few bruises.

Perhaps a little unusual in someone else's eyes was the fact that I never once assumed that the boy would try to help me. It would go with his facade, to be sure, to "save" me from the danger I was now in. But by the time he thought of that, his window of reaction would have long passed. The only way I'd get any help from him would be if he actually gave a damn about my well being, something that I sincerely doubted...

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Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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"Well?"

It was only after an awkward silence did Asuka finally speak. I’d assume she had realized that I probably wasn’t going to talk. It takes me a moment to say anything, as I just noticed that the light makes her eyes almost shine a green color. She did have beautiful eyes, it’s just a shame they’re always narrowed in suspicion.

"Are you just going to stand there, or can we actually get things done so I can go home?"

I ignore the tone and smile as if the tone was that of a friend asking me for help. I don’t mind helping out when needed, and since we came here for my sake, I most certainly am ready to get things done. As I’m sure she’d rather just get back to her lonesome and away from my ‘annoying’ self, the least I can do is make things quick. Shouldn’t take too long either, since I doubt we’re practicing rocket science.

Moving desks doesn’t have any sort of relation with science as far as I’m concerned, and since Asuka asked me to help her move them so that we could get started on the floor, I’m entirely convinced I won’t have to worry about such things. I begin over to a desk to help, but notice she’s not having the easiest time. Then again, so much is to be expected – it’s not like she has definition or any real visible muscle. But that brings me to question how much these things weigh, if they can cause such a fuss to anyone. My hands move down to grab onto a desk and before I can give it a pull, I hear something.

A loud something.

I turn to face the obnoxious noise that had come from Asuka’s last known whereabouts (because I was not looking at her at that time) and witness her drop the desk she had picked up. Then, as she, I looked up as well and notice a pretty big globe making its way towards the ground…..or what was between it and the ground – Asuka. Obviously, I do what I can to ensure she is not hit by it.
I am not even four feet from her, so I take a quick step towards her and shoot my hands out the catch the globe. I was hoping that it was not as heavy as it might have looked, since I did not have much time to brace myself for such an impact.

*Catch*

Making it in time, the globe lands safely in my hands and…….ow. This thing is heavy! Owowowow! What is it, a bowling ball?! That’s what it feels like, at least. I was attempting to save her from a small bruise, but I think I managed to save her life there.
Snapping back to where I was, I noticed…..where we were.

In the confusion, I had reached out to the globe before really thinking anything else through. In doing so, I reached around Asuka, who had stepped back away from the darned thing. We were kinda close.
Kinda too close.

Like, she backed up into my chest kinda too close.

I quickly lift the weighted globe over her and moved away then, so as not to cause any awkwardness like earlier. Then, I set it down with a thud on a desk that we hadn’t touched yet (probably because we just started).

“Are you alright, Yukinoshita-san?” I ask. I can obviously tell she wasn’t hit by the thing, but it’s just a courtesy to ask regardless.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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To my surprise, just as I expected to feel the large ornamental globe crashing against my arms, the incoming object was suddenly stopped, or rather, caught, by a familiar pair of hands. I found my movement halted by a warm body close behind me, and felt two arms reaching over my shoulders to catch the falling object. Naturally, I know exactly who it is who stepped to my assistance. The Hideyeki boy and I are the only people in the otherwise empty classroom, making it so obvious that even a blind person could tell that it was him who had intervened. What I don't understand is why.

Analyzing the situation, I realize that, between when he must have seen the falling globe and when he caught it, there couldn't have been time for a disinterested person to realize that, to keep his image up, he should have stepped to my assistance. Rather, the only way he could have caught that globe so quickly is if he reacted on instinct, realizing that I was in danger and moving to "save" me. But that means that... He wasn't lying all this time? It doesn't seem possible that somebody I only just met today would feel like he had something personally invested in my well-being, especially not after seeing how high the odds are stacked against me and those who support me. And yet, that's the only conclusion I can come to from the observations I've made thus far. Yet, that's no answer. Rather, it just opens up more questions to be asked. What is it he wants from me? Why does he care? Who is he, anyway?

I realize after a few moments of wonderment that I'm still standing awfully close to my charge-turned-guardian. He seems to notice this at the same moment, for both of us hastily step away, and I spin about to face him, my face a half-composed mix of embarrassment at being saved in such a manner, and distrusting confusion. To him, it probably looks like I'm back to how I was this morning at lunch. Which is partially true, actually. I'm now having to re-assess everything I thought I knew about this boy's intentions, and to accept the fact that I really don't know anything about him despite all of my deductions. I try to tell myself that I wasn't wrong, that he's just really good at faking, but that no longer cuts it. At least in some capacity, I have to face the fact that Hideyeki Yoshida is at least a "nice" person. That doesn't mean, however, that I have to like or trust him for it.

"Of course," I say quickly, shrugging and casually brushing back my hair, trying not to let my embarrassment at having to rely on somebody else for protection, even if it's just one time, show through my voice. Unfortunately, I think I sounded a little too put-off there. If you deny something too vehemently, that, in and of itself, makes you suspicious. I just hope I didn't go that far. At any rate, I need to change the subject before he starts getting any ideas. I don't need a knight in shining armor, thank you very much.

"Thanks," I say offhandedly out of irrepressible habit, only to mentally slap myself a moment later. Great. After all that effort to drive him away, that one word will probably make him think he's gotten somewhere. Hoping to regain the ground I just gave up, I leave him a moment to process the fact that probably the greatest bitch he's ever met just honestly thanked him, even if it was just in a casual, throwaway manner. Then, I add another, sharper comment to remind him of who he's dealing with, and hopefully to dispel whatever ideas he might be getting.

"Well? What are you staring at? Did you think my face would crack if I ever thanked someone, or something?" I say, crossing my arms and raising an eyebrow to accentuate my already piercing gaze and rather irritated expression. "I swear, if you accuse me of being an impostor, I will prove you wrong and those idiots from class right, all at once. Just let me get my Windex."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

0.00 INK

“Of course.”

The response I – and anyone else for that matter – would have expected actually brings me joy. I would have probably been a bit unhappy if my hand took that beating for just about no reason. But, she’s physically alright, so that’s wonderful. I began to open my mouth to say “I’m glad.” Or something to that effect, but she gives me no time – as usual.

“Thanks”

This time I make sure to get a word in. “No problem.” I say. It really wasn’t any problem. I, foolish as I am, am still under the impression people should help other people like I did by nature. I couldn’t imagine someone just watching that thing fall onto her while they just watched. Such a thing disgusts me to the core, so I probably don’t think as much on the matter as she does. Still though, I am happy she appreciates it. Anything to help.

"Well? What are you staring at? Did you think my face would crack if I ever thanked someone, or something? I swear, if you accuse me of being an impostor, I will prove you wrong and those idiots from class right, all at once. Just let me get my Windex."

….

I….don’t even.

“…” I remain quiet for a couple of moments after she speaks. My eyebrows manage to rise, and I might have had a strange expression on my face, since I was a caught off-guard from that….response of hers. She’s making a much bigger deal out of this than I was expecting, which leads me to think about a certain archetype I previously mentioned. It’s almost cute, if I wasn’t partially terrified of her getting Windex.

And then I speak as I make proper eye contact with her.

“I’m sorry, your eyes just………”

Or I was about to speak, then I thought about what I was saying. It sounded too much like a compliment that could be taken the wrong way – like I was hitting on her or something.

…or was I about to?

No, I wasn’t. That’d be really, really weird. Especially since we ‘just’ met today. It was probably just because her eyes reminded me of that bitter-sweet night years ago.

Actually, I’m not sure how else to respond to that. I mean, I thought of a few different things in a second.
Mentioning that she’s inflating this situation would probably either make her flustered or angry – maybe both.
Ignoring it and trying to immediately get back to moving the desks would probably give her the impression that I do in fact think she’s an ‘imposter’.

Of course, these are simple predictions from a simple man. I don’t think I could easily read Asuka, since she’s proven to be complicated (in personality) more than most people. I could have these mixed up or wrong completely, so I just say something else entirely so that I don’t expect anything.

“Imposter? Of what? Yourself? The rumors?” I ask. Because I don’t have the same opinion on her as just about anyone else in this school, I am unsure. Probably just me being odd again. “In any case, I’m not claiming anything, so don’t worry. I appreciate your thanks, however.”

((OOC: .... I could NOT find a good response to her last lines. I literally spent an hour on it and just sighed and gave up XD))

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

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"Tch," I grimace slightly, before sighing and averting my gaze from this annoying, clueless boy. I don't understand how he can always seem so carefree like this, and what's even more baffling is the fact that, evidently, this is actually his real personality and attitude toward things. Is he really so clueless, or is he some sort of super genius who finds it hilarious when people mistake him for a simpleton? At any rate, it looks like my usual approach of subtle wit and pointed sarcasm is only going to backfire on me in interacting with this indecipherable and unpredictable person - at least, if I actually expect him to understand what I'm saying and be pushed away by it. Then again, if he really is as literal-minded as he looks, maybe I can make him leave by just confusing him to the point where he just gives up on trying to understand me altogether? Or, maybe I'm just getting my hopes up. At any rate, I get the feeling that none of my plans will go off as well as they usually do in regards to this new student. Hideyeki Yoshida is a mystery to me, a person whose mind works on a completely different wavelength from those I'm used to. He doesn't seem like he's stupid, and yet almost all of my sarcastic remarks seem to go completely over his head. But, most strange of all is the fact that apparently, he's taken some kind of an interest in me. I don't know why, but for whatever reason, it seems that he thinks I'm useful to him, or else he wouldn't have stepped in so readily... would he have? I don't know. Maybe I'm overthinking this. It seems too optimistic to just assume that he's on my side, even if its just for now. There's got to be a catch. I don't know what or how, but something about this situation just seems off to me.

I realize I've been silent for a while, just indulging my paranoia while mentally facepalming at how oblivious my companion is, so I decide to speak up again, hopefully clarifying whatever ambiguity was in my statements up until now.

"Excuse me for evidently not being clear before," I say, veiling my biting tone behind mock politeness. "I just thought it would be obvious by now that I was being... oh, I don't know... sarcastic?" I speak casually, then abruptly shift tones back to my usual blunt, pointed approach. "Allow me to let you in on a little secret. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit of a bitch. I like mocking people - a lot. I find it tremendously amusing, in fact. Approximately 99% of the things I say are just me making subtle jokes at the expense of people like you. Incidentally, 64.9% of all statistics are made up on the spot." I smirk slightly. "Oh. Hey. What do you know? There I go again. I apologize, but you see, I go into withdrawal if I don't cleverly mock at least one person for every four minutes I spend interacting with other Human beings. That's why I like being alone so much, you see. It's very hard for me to keep coming up with all these witty remarks." I stop my little string of snarky comments, having delivered it up until this point with a completely straight face. Then, giving him a moment to process what I just said, I smile with an unnerving level of calmness.

"You don't need to think too hard," I add. "All of that was just me mocking you, too. Now, can we please get back to work? I'd rather get home before my idiotic relatives do, if it's all the same to you."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

0.00 INK

"I see..."

I close my eyes for a moment and, as if thinking to myself, I nod to myself, keeping my eyelids down for just a moment. Finally, after a second or two, I open them and smile. "Is it bad that I don't offend easily then? Is it just the fact that you've said it, or a person's reaction that you look for?" I ask, keeping an innocent smile on my face while I turn to retrieve a desk. I can work and talk at the same time, so I might as well make use of that important skill while we speak and maybe she'll do the same since she's the one who wants to get home in such a haste.

When I'm turned away from her, I can't help but thinking what is running through her mind. If she's keen enough, she'll notice that I subtly admitted that I do catch her insults, just that I don't much mind them. Well, with the exception of that last string. I will admit that it caught me off-guard and I wasn't really thinking, but a mistake is a mistake and whatnot. But that aside, I figure this will send her around a bit in her head. I mean, who asks someone what they like about mocking people?

I guess I did that just for fun.

While I wait for her to voice a response, I place my hands on a lonesome desk and give it a pull up. The desk is... actually not that heavy. I'm not even sure how she struggled with this, so I pick it up slowly. She'll probably not like seeing me pick up a desk so easily when it nearly caused her to tip over, even if she's a girl. I don't look too strong either, so that doesn't help things. I then start moving over to the corner of the room and set down the desk. One done, more to go, and this is not even the actual chore we have to do. But that just leaves me with the thought that we should hurry up and move these damn things so we can get work done. Time is money, as they say. I guess we aren't getting paid but...... whatever. Again, I stand up and move to retrieve another desk so I can repeat the same process again.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

0.00 INK

I raise an eyebrow at this. Just what kind of question is that, anyway? On the surface, his inquiry seems perfectly innocent. And yet, I can't help but feel that he's subtly implying something. Of course, the truth is that the only reason why I act this way is because of the results it yields me. It makes people leave me alone, and keeps me from seeming vulnerable. In short, it ensures that people overestimate me, that they're intimidated by me. Through that means, I can keep them from approaching me, or being too overt in their attempts to make me miserable. It might seem like an overreaction, true, but if I make myself seem like an indiscriminately hateful sociopath, people will think that I'm dangerous, and stay away from me. It's a fact of Human existence that people care most about not getting hurt. By accepting this fact, I can then use other people's desire not to be involved in something that might result in harm coming to them to keep them from hurting me. They'll hate me, sure, and some of them will definitely try to act on that hate. However, if I can just keep the majority of the people around me too scared to bother with me, then I'll be safer than if I risked reaching out to others. So, does the fact that Hideyeki is asking me this mean that he's realized that my actions are actually a pretense to keep me from getting hurt? Again I have to wonder if he's secretly some sort of genius bent on breaking me as a Human being. And yet, his actions before would disprove that theory... wouldn't they?

In any case, I need to respond quickly and without seeming suspicious. Composing myself, I lie as casually and flawlessly as I can. "Hah! Don't flatter yourself," I say dismissively. "While I suppose it is more satisfying to see people get all mad, to be honest, I don't really care what people like you think, in case that fact wasn't obvious enough for you." Alright, good. I think I managed to say that without being suspicious, and I managed to do it promptly and naturally instead of something painfully forced like "I-it's not like I care, or anything! I just... uh... feel like it! Don't question me, idiot!" That's enough to satisfy me for now, so I figure I should probably get to work if we're ever going to get done with this job. I don't want to spend any more time here than I have to. So, picking up the desk I dropped before, I manage to move it into the corner without much difficulty, although its size is still troublesome even if it's not too heavy. Carrying large objects is a task more suited to someone at least a head taller than me. Still, although it's kind of annoying, I manage, like I always do, and between me and my irritating partner, the room is soon largely clear.

"Alright," I say matter-of-factly. "Pay attention, because I'm not going to go over the whole room a second time just because you spaced out, or something stupid like that." With those words, I start up my usual cleaning routine. Open the cabinet in the back, withdraw a... a... Damnit, what is this thing even called, anyway? I recognize it, of course, as a fairly standard house appliance - one of those sweeper things you stick the special damp pads to and use like a mop/broom - but I can't think of its name for the life of me. Look, I'm a cynical, antisocial jerk, not a housewife. I have no idea what specialized cleaning appliances are called. I'll just call it an unspeakable nameless scrubber thing and leave it at that. That issue resolved, I withdraw it, assemble the pad at the bottom, and then set to work.

"First thing's first. Wipe down the floor, get rid of any leftover crumbs or scraps of food from lunch," I direct. "There should be another one in there, since we usually clean in twos. Grab it and make yourself useful instead of standing there like an idiot, will you?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yukinoshita Asuka Character Portrait: Hideyeki Yoshida

0.00 INK

That wasn't a suitable answer in my own personal opinion, and it was more like she dodged it than answered it. Well, whatever. I have my own thoughts as to why she does that, and quite frankly, even as simple of a person as I am, it's probably hitting the nail right on the head. After all, there's not really much other reasons aside from getting a reaction, which would be what a bully did this for, and she was no bully. She was bullied.

It makes me wonder what event started all of this. Sure, I mean, maybe someone could manage to convince a whole classroom that she was someone bad, that they should treat her like dirt and whatnot. But she was infamous! I've seen people trying to abuse her everywhere we go. That, or attempting to flee in fear. Something I'm unaware of must have happened to have essentially everyone in school despise her. I just can't fathom that something being a small rumor spreading this far. And shouldn't she have at least one friend? I remember her being a good person at heart when we were young. She was just lonely, and...

I was that one friend.

Was...

I don't use my head much for anything. I'm not that smart of a person, I know. But recently, everytime I attempt to even think of how to deal with or understand her situation, it just ends up with me realizing it's my fault she's here. I can't afford this, considering I can't be in a blue state near her, for her. She's the only one of us I believe deserves to do that, and I'm sure she has already done so. Her remarks and general demeanor towards the world as a whole have told me that she's done with sobbing.

And done with procrastinating, as she snaps me back to attention with a sharp 'alright'. Even if I wasn't paying too much attention, I hadn't left her solely with the task of moving the desks. I helped, just I did so as a machine, not a person since my thoughts were elsewhere than the desks. That being said, I think I still managed to beat her. She begins her small lecture as she prepares the Japanese equivalent to a Swiffer. I, realizing what item my job might entail, simply walk over to the cabinet and spot another one and retrieve it while she's finishing up with the assembly. It's at this time that she tells me to retrieve the very one I just took out of the cabinet and stop standing around. I have already done both of those before she even said that, so I do believe she needs to catch up with me. I wear a smile. "I'm over here." I say, noticing her eyes must have been on the Swiffer-thing when she said that, and that she hadn't heard me make my way over here. "And I've already done that. We've got work to do, you should pay attention." It's then that I start over to one corner of the room and began cleaning, as instructed.

When it comes to work, I'm a bit experienced, moreso than her, probably.

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Re: Within These Worthless, Broken Wings

I would like to state that the reason that I've stopped putting themes for my posts is because....

Wings of Condemnation and music like it just do NOT fit the mood...currently. XD

Re: Within These Worthless, Broken Wings

Eh, it works. For future reference, if you can't find a good pic, just go with a landscape to show the area, I.E. the picture of the bridge at the very top of the first page.

Re: Within These Worthless, Broken Wings

Yeah.... the theme is them two hanging out and stuff. I couldn't find a better picture than this with my limited time....... D:

Within These Worthless, Broken Wings

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