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Author Topic: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) <DROPPED> - Thank You For Reading, a Summary  (Read 90580 times)

Offline Shinoki

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Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Detour 1 + Checkpoint 30 (May 11, 2018)] <AOI>
« Reply #120 on: May 11, 2018, 10:05:39 PM »
It's exam season, so I'm not quite writing, but... luckily, I actually did write over the hiatus! Kind of! That's why I have enough material to update with until exam season ends.

@Minami-chan: Do you think you can solve the mystery in the newest checkpoint? Hehe~
@four4four Techi's our adorable yet cool main character. Although she ended up not doing much in the previous arc. TechiNeru did resurface at around the same place since Neru swam toward Techi at the end.

Detour 1

The air conditioning buzzed in a classroom located at a wing of the building far from the Keyaki class classroom. Light filtered in from the windows but hit a collection of canvases, sketchbooks, and art supplies rather than desks.

A black haired girl whose hair was tied into pigtails sat at a stool, drawing. She wore the Sakamichi uniform, not the Keyaki class uniform, and a weak pair of glasses. On her paper, she sketched out water and a siren with the precision expected of the art club president. She paused, wondering what was missing from her mental image.

Quietly, she set down on her pencil and touched the paper, placing her index finger on the empty face of the siren. That was what was missing, but she knew not how to fill in the blank.

Then, the door to the art club room opened.

Hearing that sound, the girl with pigtails turned around to see who it was. Seeing another girl wearing the same uniform, her hair not tied up, the art club president smiled.

“Memi, there’s no one else here today.” The girl who entered the room came over to Memi and took a seat on a nearby stool.

“Yea, we don’t have any club meetings over summer vacation.” Memi explained. She was still at school, living in the dorms, due to her own circumstances. However, most students went home. “Manafi, did the literature club meet today?”

Mana nodded, “The president wanted to apply for the club summer camp.”

“Isn’t that for sports clubs to have an extra training camp?” Memi asked.

The club summer camp was an annual activity at the school that clubs go apply for. During the middle of summer break, a building in the school would be used for a pseudo-club dorm where each club that applied got a large room fit for the size of the participants of the camp. The sports clubs, as they still met over the summer, used the camp as an opportunity for a three day intense all-day practice and team bonding.

“Mostly.” Mana answered.

“The art club wasn’t going to participate. Is it fun?”

“The upperclassmen said that it was like a big sleepover. Apparently, last year, they wrote some crazy things in the middle of the night, but the teacher didn’t let them publish those stories for the school festival.”

“Eh, I want to read that.”

“I have a copy!”

“Can I borrow it?”


“Maybe this year, they’ll write fanfiction about the Keyaki class.”

“N-san on the site is actually that upperclassman.”

“I… did not expect that.”

The pair chatted quietly. Memi set her drawing aside and decided to cling onto Mana in a somewhat spoiled manner.

Mana smiled, “Memi, let’s participate in the summer camp together.”

“I guess I’ll intrude on the literature club for a bit.”

Checkpoint 30

By the time the Keyaki class returned to the dorms, there was a dark package in the lounge area. Hirate Yurina stepped forward, picking it up, looking over the strange case at a number of angles.

“What is it?” Yuuka asked curiously.

Sato Shiori wondered aloud, “Is this the first task that we’re supposed to do?”

Coming up to the short haired girl, Aoi prodded at the package, crouching to look at it from below, “But, it’s just a dark box, isn’t it?” She gave it a jab in a slightly caved in area of the package, and a small cracking sound come out.

“Did you break it?” Risa half jokingly asked.

Just as Aoi was about to retort, Yurina shook the box. Out came a small portion of a white card with a bit of text written on it in small golden font.

The short haired girl removed the card from the box and murmured, “No, this is… a recipient.” Then, her eyes widened in surprise, causing her to drop the card by accident.

Neru picked up the card. “Yukiteru?” She read the name written in English letters on the top of the card. “I wonder who that is.”

“Let me see.” Imaizumi came up to the front as well, squeezing in between her taller classmates.

Neru read, “It says to deliver it to a persimmon flower blooming from a bud but not yet a fruit.“

“What’s that even supposed to mean?” Yui-pon asked Imaizumi.

The girls pondered about it for a while, some dropping in suggestions. However, as they had all summer and no one was hurting for points, the girls gave up rather quickly.

Akane shook the box, trying to pry it open to get some more clues. They couldn't even open the box, leaving the class curious about what was inside. Manaka took a seat nearby and made Risa sit on her lap while she laughed at her friend's frustration.

Yuuka took the box out of her roommate's hands and handed it back to Yurina, “Techi should hold onto it.”

“Huh?” Surprised, Yurina took the box.

“I don't think we're making progress like this, so we should probably stop and come back to it with a fresh head later.” Yuuka glanced toward Oda Nana who was trying to snap pictures of Yui-pon while Suzumoto snapped pictures of Oda Nana. She turned back to Yurina. “I think you're the best detective in the class.”

The girls who were still paying attention gestured in agreement.

Yurina eyed the box in her hands warily but nodded that she would hold onto it. When Neru returned the card, the short haired girl flipped it over to the blank side and tucked it back where it came from. She let out a light sigh that only her roommate noticed, but Neru said nothing.

—Please don’t say that.

Night fell late. The sounds of the cicadas outdoor in summer couldn’t be heard in the dorms. Harada Aoi stepped out of Yuuka’s room, closing the door behind her, closing off the sounds her friends playing cards, into the hallway.

Just as the childish girl let out a sigh, she suddenly heard a voice, “Aoi, what’s wrong?”

Kobayashi Yui was walking down the hallway. She held some clothes, a pillow, and some daily necessities in her hands. Yui-pon noticed an upset look on Aoi’s face.

“I-It’s nothing.” Aoi shook her head unconvincingly, but she redirected the conversation, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to sleep over at Zuumin’s place.” Yui-pon answered without elaborating. She was holding more than just one night’s worth of stuff.

The classmates shared an awkward moment of silence. Laughing a little at their unusual situation, they parted ways.

Aoi headed back into Yuuka’s room. She saw her friends waiting for her to rejoin their game. She couldn’t help but grin.

“We can’t start without you. Come on, hurry up.”

When Aoi and her friends stopped playing, time had gotten rather late. Yawning, knowing that it was way past her normal bedtime, Aoi made her way back to her dorm room. Fumbling with the door a little bit, she managed to get inside. The lights were off, her roommate already asleep.

Aoi quietly came into the room, sliding into her seat at her desk. Looking at the digital clock on the table, she could make out the time to be past midnight. She thought to go to sleep, but she wanted to do a little bit more.

Turning on her desk’s lamp to the lowest brightness setting, Aoi retrieved a small journal from her desk.

She started drawing a picture of what she did today like a picture diary. Aoi didn’t want to let her classmates to know about her diary since she was afraid that they would tease her for it. Her drawings weren’t the best, so she left some space to paste in a photo once she got some printed.

Suddenly, her roommate roused and mumbled, “Aoi-chan...? Still not asleep?”

“Sorry, Shiichan. I’ll go to sleep soon.” Aoi replied to her roommate, Sato. “I’m not bothering you, am I?”

Readjusting in her sheets, Sato returned to sleep, “No, it’s okay. Don’t sleep too late...”

Aoi started writing. ‘Today, I went to pool. I had lots of fun. We ate ice cream and played a bunch of games. Techi, Akanen, and Risa raced.’

Continuing, she jotted down the unlucky incident that occurred, ‘Miichan got a cramp, but I wasn’t able to help her. Luckily, nothing happened since Techi immediately jumped to the rescue. That was really cool, but I felt bad about how I wasn’t about to help.

‘I wonder if I’m a good friend sometimes.’

Aoi stopped her pencil. She shook her head at her 1:27 AM type of thought, but she didn’t erase that sentence.

She finished writing her diary for the day, including the strange task that the class received and the fun that she had with her friends. Although the writing was a bit unorganized, she closed her journal and tucked it back into its hiding place.

As she got ready for bed, tucking in under her thin summer blanket, Aoi smiled, thinking about her friends in the Keyaki class. She really loved those big sister-like figures who could sometimes be more immature than she was.

That was why she wanted to be with them.

« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 10:00:39 PM by Shinoki »

Offline Minami-chan

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Poor Aoi.

‘I wonder if I’m a good friend sometimes.’

Why does she feel that way?

Offline four4four

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Detour 1:
Is this a new ship?

Checkpoint 30:
Who is this 'Yukiteru'? Sounds familiar... That or I am thinking of something else. :lol:
So this box is important to Techi's past?
And the diary seems like it will be important in the future.

Offline Shinoki

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Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 31 (May 17, 2018)] <AOI>
« Reply #123 on: May 17, 2018, 09:59:45 PM »
@four4four: ManaMemi/MemiFii could be considered a new ship. Hiragana-chans will feature in the Detours (although I don't think they'll really be taking a large role on the main stage of the story). As for Yukiteru, he has been mentioned before (Interlude 4, if you want to check). Huhu.
@Minami-chan: Aoi's feelings can partially be attributed to the whole mess of the previous arc (where she wasn't able to do anything).

Checkpoint 31

With the summer sun bright in the sky, a yellow-green-ish tennis ball flew through the sky like a miniature blazing sun, going back and forth across the net. The Sakamichi tennis club was engaged in a match with another school’s, Majisuka, tennis club.

Akane intensely played against the other school’s player, a girl named Yokoyama. It was a somewhat rare chance as she couldn’t quite play at away games, the Keyaki class forbidden from leaving the large Sakamichi campus. Nonetheless, Akane was a bit of a secret weapon for home games on the tennis team.

Huffing and puffing, Aoi ran over to the tennis court spectating area out of breath. She complained as she reached the Keyaki class group that had come to watch Akane play tennis, “No one reminded me of this…”

Akane’s usual friend group and Yuuka had come along.

“We didn’t know if you wanted to come watch.” Fuyuka chuckled, “Well, you’re here now, Aoi. Not too late.”

“I guess that’s true.” Aoi pouted. She turned her eyes toward the tennis court.

The referee suddenly called, “Fifteen-love!” Akane fumbled up for a moment, letting the ball hit the ground on her side.

“Akanen! You can do it!” Aoi yelled out.

Following Aoi’s surprising lead, Yuuka cupped her hands around her mouth and cheered as well, “Akanen! Do your best!”

Akane wiped away some of the sweat on her forehead. She glanced at her friends happily. Even though her other schoolmates were also cheering, Akane heard her classmates. The competitive girl’s eyes lingered on her roommate for a little longer than the they did on the others, and the roommate pair shared a look of confidence for the game.

She went back into the game, burning with spirit.

Aoi watched the ball and the players intensely. She nearly got lost in the game until she heard the referee call out, “Game point!” Aoi had tuned out the other calls.

Risa casually tapped Aoi on the shoulder, “Hey, not taking any pictures?”

“Oh, yea.” Aoi blushed. She had forgotten about her camera in her enthusiasm for the match.

Using the camera, she snapped a number of pictures of Akane in action. Of course, she also took the chance to get some pictures of her classmates cheering. Before Aoi knew it, the match finished.

“Match set! Sakamichi’s Moriya wins the match!”

After Akane chatted with her opponent and shook hands in a friendly manner, Aoi and the others came over to congratulate her. Aoi made sure to get a nice picture of Akane being lifted up off the ground in cheers.

In the afternoon, Aoi walked through the school hallways with her roommate, Sato Shiori. Randomly wandering around, wondering what to spend her time doing after lunch, Aoi happened upon Sato and ended up offering to help move a painting for her. Thus, the two of them headed toward the art club room.

They passed by Neru who chatted with them for a bit. However, Neru seemed to be occupied with something. The latecomer was alone, but she received a phone call before she had to leave.

Aoi inquired, “Shiichan, you’re a member of the art club, right?”

“I’m kind of half a member. I’m not really an official member since I never really joined, but I still participate in the activities. I think I’m what they call an honorary member.” Sato rambled a little in response.

Aoi nodded, taking in the information.

They quickly reached the art club room. No one was present beside the canvases and art supplies spread across the room. Aoi entered, looking at the eclectic collection of works in various states of progress and completion.

She spotted a incomplete picture of a mermaid without a face. Something about the emotions in that piece of art struck her.

“Ah, what’s that one?” Aoi pointed at it.

“The club president’s drawing that. She’s in our year, but I respect her art.” Sato explained. “Oh, she’s named Kakizaki Memi.”

Aoi wondered at the spelling of the name, what kanji was used, but she let that thought flutter away. She followed her roommate through the art club room until they reached a canvas that was covered by a cloth.

Sato unclothed the canvas revealing a shining painting of a Keyaki tree, “This is the piece that we have to submit.”

Her mouth dropping open, Aoi’s eyes took in the painting, glittering. She felt that her roommate was really amazing as she herself couldn’t paint something like that.

The two of them successfully transported the painting to another room.

The sound of the basketball hitting the rim of the hoop, rolling around seemingly wobbly but entering nonetheless, was nostalgic. Hirate Yurina caught the ball as it bounced off the ground.

Holding the ball, attempting yet failing to spin it on her finger, the short haired girl sighed. She no longer played the game like she used to. As much as she could feel the texture of the ball, she could also feel a throbbing phantom pain in her hands and in her heart.

“Hey, Techi!” Then, a voice called out the Yurina.

Turning around, the short haired girl saw Aoi. “Aoi-chan.”

“You haven’t headed back to the dorms yet?”

“You haven’t either. I’ll go back later.”

“You like basketball a lot, huh?”

“Not particularly.” Had she been asked the questioned a few years ago, she would have answered yes, but at the particular moment, Yurina couldn’t choose a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ “I just played it a lot with… my family when I was younger.”

Then, Aoi’s stomach grumbled. She blushed in embarrassment a little. The sun had set, the sky beginning to darken. Of course, it was already time to eat dinner.

Yurina told Aoi, “You should head back before me and eat dinner.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to head back together?”

“It’s okay.”

“Sure then. See you later, Techi.”

“Yea, see you.”

After Aoi left, Yurina dribbled the ball a little bit and went further back. Mentally imagining a game situation that she had once seen before, she moved and she tried to throw the ball. This time it missed, clanging on the rim but bouncing off.

She mumbled, “Hey, I wonder how you did it…”

« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 07:12:23 PM by Shinoki »

Offline Minami-chan

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Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 31 (May 17, 2018)] <AOI>
« Reply #124 on: May 17, 2018, 11:48:15 PM »
many thanks
You're right, maybe Aoi just felt that way because of what happened in the afternoon at the pool.
Thanks for following the story, the updates are greatly appreciated.

Offline Shinoki

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Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 32 (May 26, 2018)] <AOI>
« Reply #125 on: May 26, 2018, 07:11:30 PM »
What a disorganized chapter... sorry for the wait!
@Minami-chan: Thank you for reading!

Checkpoint 32

Her eyes were intense, dark and endless. Even though that wasn’t quite the right way to describe them, even though the sky was already darkening, her aura still overwhelmed the artist.

‘Ahh… this person is…’ Such a thought perhaps fleetingly touched upon the artist’s mind. Yet, not from thought but rather from some sort of instinct, the artist was drawn to her and began to draw, drawn into a curiosity of an unknown.

Clang! Clang! Clunk! The ball entered the hoop.

Hirate Yurina wiped away the sweat on her forehead, her bangs a little damp. She let the ball hit the ground, bounce and roll to a stop on the empty court. Glancing around, she saw that it was already dark. Some lamps were lighting the campus, and the moon was covered by clouds that had appeared during the night.

Knowing that she couldn't just let the ball roll off, she walked over to retrieve it.

To her surprise, Yurina found a girl, a normal student, intently drawing while sitting on a nearby bench that faced the court. Pausing as she picked up the ball, the short haired girl stared at the artist. Black hair tied in pigtails, a pair of glasses, and light skin under dim lighting, the drawing girl was like a French doll.

“Oh.” Then, the drawing girl lifted her head, making a voice of surprise at seeing Yurina.

Yurina inquired of the girl, “What's your name?”

“Kakizaki Memi. You're Hirate Yurina-san, right?”


“I'm sorry if I intruded on you playing.” Memi smiled apologetically. She removed her glasses, rubbing her eyes a little as she had been focusing them too hard on her sketchbook. “I must have lost track of time when drawing.”

“You didn't intrude. What were you drawing?”

“It's a bit embarrassing… but I guess I can show you.” Memi opened up the sketchbook so that Yurina could see.

On the paper was a lonely moon in a starless night sky, too high above the flower covered ground to be reached. Even though there was no moon in the sky right now, Memi’s hands had moved. This was the image that she had thought of when watching Yurina. As much as she wasn’t drawing the short haired girl, she was.

Reaching the moon on the paper with her fingers, Memi spoke, “It’s only a draft though. I might change the drawing.”

“You’re amazing, Memi-san.”

“Not really.”

“You are.”

“…are you like this with everyone?” Memi grumbled, feeling a little flustered with Yurina’s prodding. “Your fans will be surprised.”

“They'll just have to deal with it, Kakizaki-san.”

“You're very interesting, huh.”

It was Yurina’s turn to be embarrassed. “Eh…”

The pair looked up at the sky in silence. The clouds parted, showing the moon’s shadow. Yurina tossed the ball in her hands into the bin that it belonged in, watching it fly through the air with a clean curve.

“I’ll look forward to seeing the finished piece.”

Aoi wondered to herself why Yurina and Neru were such a mysterious pair of roommates. It wasn't that they were all that aloof or enigmatic, but there was just some sort of aura about the pair. Of course, it could have just been Aoi’s own late night thoughts. Walking out of the dorms for a stroll, she noticed Neru talking heatedly on the phone under the shadow of a tree. Both Yurina and Neru were out rather late. Aoi hadn't spotted the short hair girl back at the dorm yet.

“…I disagree…” Neru spoke, but Aoi couldn't catch most of the conversation. “…that person…” Neru hung up on the call with a huff.

“Neru-" Aoi called out to Neru.

“Aoi?” Neru interrupted Aoi, taking control of the conversation. “You’re out late.”

Aoi prodded curiously, “You are too. I’m just taking a walk. What were you doing?”

Needing to make up an excuse on the spot, Neru quickly replied, “Just calling a cousin.” She sheepishly smiled.

“Cousin?” Aoi was convinced. Hearing the word cousin, she couldn’t help but think about Yuuka’s situation where a strange man tried to break into her friend’s happy school life with Akane. Since Neru looked to be arguing, Aoi’s voice couldn’t help but hold a sprinkle of worry.

Neru quickly shook her hands in the air, gesturing reassurance, “Ah, it was nothing bad. He was just complaining about how his teacher caught him and his boyfriend kissing in the classroom after school. He’s a bit immature, so I ended up scolding him a little.”

“He has a boyfriend?” Aoi pouted, reassured, “Lucky~”

“We’re in a girls’ school after all.” Neru laughed.

“Yea. Techi’s the closest thing we have to a boy.”

“Yurina-chan is a cute, cute girl.”

“That’s mostly to Neru.”

“What can I say?”

“Oh, yea. Have you seen Techi though?” Aoi inquired. “She was out at the basketball court way out there, but she hasn’t come back to the dorms yet.”

“I haven’t seen her much the whole day. I’ll drop by there.” Somehow, Neru seemed distracted as she spoke.

Kakizaki Memi passed by a girl, a person who she had never talked to but could recognize, as she started heading back from the court. The artist paused for a moment, imagining painting water, a tumultuous ocean.

Nagahama Neru seemed a little different.

Pitter. Patter. Pitter. Patter. In the end, the moon was once more hidden behind the clouds, which let down a light summer rain. Hirate Yurina suddenly felt a pair of hands covering up her eyes coming from behind.

“Guess who.” The owner of the hands said.

Yurina gently removed the hands, “Neru. What are you doing here so late?”

“Looking for you.”


“I haven’t seen you for the whole day. Let me recharge a little.”

“Ah, it’s already tomorrow, isn’t it?”

Neru nodded, and then she looked up, putting a hand on her head to try to block the rain, “We should head back before the rain gets heavier.”

“Hey, Neru. Can I tell you something?”

“Of course.”

« Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 09:45:24 PM by Shinoki »

Offline Minami-chan

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Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 32 (May 26, 2018)] <AOI>
« Reply #126 on: May 28, 2018, 12:25:10 AM »

Neru nodded, and then she looked up, putting a hand on her head to try to block the rain, “We should head back before the rain gets heavier.”

“Hey, Neru. Can I tell you something?”

“Of course.”

What? WHAT? Noooo! this is to leave us with honey on the lips.

Offline Shinoki

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Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [OS (YuzuMiko) (MonaRisa) (May 28, 2018)]
« Reply #127 on: May 28, 2018, 03:35:09 PM »
@Minami-chan: My cruel foreshadowing will bear fruit next (well, technically this week, most likely) week!

For the time being, I have 2 one-shots.

Floating Away

The seasons changed. The cherry blossoms, they’re once more in full bloom. Blowing, the wind tore away a smattering of pink and white petals, letting them fly away in the wind. So fleeting, so ephemeral, so early to die, saying those same words over and over again, I wondered if I regretted it.

Wearing this same uniform, I had exited the school building, but I could no longer go back. No matter how many times, no matter what world it was, I just wished that I could see your face again.

If I closed my eyes, then perhaps, I could see your face. If I closed my ears, then perhaps, I could hear your voice.

I wished that I stayed at your side on that day, that I could have. I wanted to apologize. Not to everyone, only to you, and more than anything, I just wanted to hold onto your hand, not to look into the water and see your reflection gone.

Perhaps we already died beforehand. One of us. I wondered when we changed.

I let myself fall into the river with a splash, floating along with the cherry blossom petals. I was sure that people stared at me strangely; I was strange. The water pooled upward, covering my body with coldness. I closed my eyes.

So I called out in a wish.

Please let me see you again.
Whoever exists out there that can grant my only wish.
Please let me meet Yuzuki again.

And then I thought, what a cruel god watching, as I opened my eyes to the classroom.

Your Time

A small sequence of numbers on the body of people, their wrist, maybe their neck, their side, maybe their hand, Watanabe Risa could see a small number ticking down to nothing little by little like the alarm clock on her smartphone. On her own inner wrist, she could see the white timer ticking down.

She had first realized that these numbers were death on her grandfather’s birthday and death day. When he, a man who had always pampered her, collapsed and the extended family ran to him to try to revive him, calling the hospital, she had seen the numbers hit zero. No matter what they tried to do, he died, and the timer disappeared.

Closing her eyes as she sat at her desk in the classroom, Risa could remember countless numbers of times where the numbers ticked down to nothing, and those who fought to save the dying failed. She hated passing accident scenes, looking at the people there.

A voice of a friend, Yuuka, called out to her, “Risa?”

“Are you already asleep? Class hasn’t even started yet.” Another friend, Akane, laughed, seeing Risa’s eyes closed and not responding to Yuuka’s call.

Risa opened her eyes and responded coolly, “I’m awake.” In the first place, she had been sitting up straight in her seat.

Risa glanced up at the clock on the wall. There was still a good ten minutes before class actually started, the time when she would likely end up falling asleep from the annoying teacher’s rambling. That teacher never taught anyways, so everyone just studied from the textbooks.

After the friends greeted each other, they chatted for a bit. Before long, there was only a little bit of time before class. Everyone in the class went to their seats and waited for the teacher.

Risa leaned back in her chair a little, placing the back of her hands over her eyes. It was tiring, seeing the numbers endlessly changing. Even her two best friends, Yuuka and Akane, had numbers, and those numbers were extremely close to each others, meaning that right after Akane died, Yuuka would die too. It was good that their timers weren’t in easily seen places.

The seat behind Risa was empty, always empty.

It seemed that originally someone else was supposed to be in their class, but that person never showed up. The teacher had long since stopped calling that person’s name in roll, so Risa couldn’t remember the name.

The door to the classroom opened with its usual sound.

Risa sat up properly again and looked toward the door, expecting the homeroom teacher. To her surprise, instead of that old man, there was a girl.

The class murmured, wondering who that girl was. No one knew who she was, not even the people who had friends in other grade levels and in other classes.

The mysterious girl took the empty seat behind Risa, looking somewhat awkward despite her cool exterior. Risa looked at the unknown girl. This new person had dyed short hair and beautiful eyes, and her time to death floated cleanly on her throat, counting down with only 46 days and 21 hours.

Eyes quickly averting from that number, Risa felt that she should look away. She couldn’t help but glance back at the girl who was peering down at her desk, aloof almost but surely actually nervous.

Before Risa could make up her mind on what to say to the girl, the homeroom teacher entered the room.

The teacher glanced over the room. Spotting the unknown girl, he nodded to himself and marked on the roll, “Oh, right. Shida. Shida, right? Shida Manaka’s here today.”

Risa thought to herself, ‘So her name is Manaka.’ She thought that she would forget soon enough because everything was too ephemeral.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. In the end, Risa hadn’t talked to Manaka on that first day.

Three days passed. At that point, the class had made their conclusions on their new classmate. When they asked her, Manaka couldn’t reply properly, so they thought her cold and unfriendly. Since she hadn’t been in class, Manaka was also floundering in her studies.

Risa couldn’t really understand why Manaka was even in school, wasting away the last bits of her life. She wondered if the girl knew that her life was going to cease.

It was English class.

The teacher walked around, explaining the English. Risa didn’t particularly care for the lesson and looked out the window, jotting down something once in a while. However, behind her, she could hear Manaka confused to the point that Manaka stopped writing.

Suddenly, the teacher called for Manaka to answer a question. When Manaka couldn’t answer the question, the teacher scowled and berated her, “What are you even coming to school for?”

Manaka looked down at her desk, unwilling to say anything.

Risa couldn’t help but give the teacher the stink-eye.

“Watanabe, answer the question.” The teacher ended up noticing Risa’s expression and went to attack Risa.

By break time, Risa was in a foul mood.

Manaka sat behind her quietly, listening to music out of a pair of blue headphones, while staring out the window. For a moment, Manaka smiled lightly, Risa noticing out of the corner of her eye.

Then, Risa frowned. That smile was something to be preserved, but she found that Manaka hadn’t been smiling much at all during class or in school.

Risa stood up and turned to Manaka. Of course, Manaka didn’t notice her, so Risa tapped Manaka on the shoulder, and Manaka twitched in surprise, eyes widening upon seeing Risa right in front of her, and removed her headphones.

“Don’t waste your time here.” Risa told Manaka.

The classroom was silent; it was as if they could hear a pin drop. Everyone turned to look at the pair’s interactions.
Manaka stared up at Risa with an incomprehensible expression.

Akane broke the silence by suddenly grabbed Risa’s hand and asking in a scolding voice, “Risa, what are you saying?”

There were whispers that Watanabe was finally bullying someone. Risa wasn’t the most popular member of the class, and the way she dressed, thin jacket tied around her waist, a band around her wrist, and earrings didn’t help it.

Risa shook off Akane. “I’m just saying what I think.” She responded.

At this point, Manaka put her headphones back on and took to ignoring the rest of the class and Risa again.

Glancing at the numbers on Manaka’s neck, Risa explained, “It’s a waste of time to be here.” However, the person she wanted to tell was already ignoring her.

Akane sighed, knowing her friend’s failure in communication this time.

The week ended soon enough without Risa managing to clarify what she meant to Manaka. They hadn’t talked at all since despite sitting so close in class. Risa accidentally listened in on a conversation that Manaka had with another classmate about a band that she was passionate about, but apparently, the band was having a concert on a school day and tickets were difficult to get.

Risa couldn’t help but dig out her phone and search up the band, One OK Rock. She huffed silently to herself that the members weren’t all that good looking. Taking out her earbuds, she listened to a few of their songs.

Risa murmured, “...they’re pretty good actually.”

She looked back at Manaka, but quickly averted her eyes when Manaka noticed.

Texting Yuuka, Risa asked for a favor in getting 2 tickets for the band’s upcoming concert. Yuuka gave Risa a knowing smile from across the classroom, but she replied affirmative with a horse emoji in the text.

By the next school day, Yuuka gave Risa the tickets, which Risa quickly hid away. “Good luck on your da-”

Risa quickly put her hand on Yuuka’s mouth. “Thanks, but it’s not that.”

Yuuka giggled, but with the way that Risa was flustered, she could tell that Risa had a little bit of a crush on someone. She eyed a certain girl who sat behind Risa.

“Ew.” Risa quickly removed her hand as Yuuka pretended to lick it.

“I wasn’t actually going to lick you.”

“Akanen would probably get mad at me if you licked me.”

“Would she?”


“Well, you’ll be skipping class tomorrow anyways, won’t you?”

“Not going to stop me?”

“I got you the tickets, so you might as well have fun, Risa.” Yuuka gave Risa a hard slap on the back, which caught Manaka’s attention for a moment. The friends didn’t notice the other girl’s look.

Concert day arrived. Risa fumbled with the tickets that she had been given, almost crumpling them from nervousness. She waited outside the classroom door with a straight face, but her fidgeting gave her away to her friends. They greeted her and gave a pat of encouragement before entering the classroom as to not scare away her target.

Then, Manaka came along, heading to the classroom with her headphones on.

“Shida.” Risa first called out to Manaka, stuffing the tickets in her pocket. However, Manaka didn’t hear. Thus, Risa grabbed Manaka’s wrist. “Hey.”

Manaka took off her headphones. “What?”

“Let’s go to the concert together and skip.” Risa showed Manaka the One OK Rock tickets.


“Treat it as an apology for saying something rudely before.” Risa said. Then she added on what she actually meant, “I want to talk to you.”

After a sequence of emotions passed through Manaka’s face, Manaka finally answered with an amused grin, “Okay. Sure.”  As Risa had let go of Manaka’s wrist, this time, Manaka took Risa’s hand and dragged her into the classroom, “Let me put my bag in my locker. You hold the tickets until we get to the dome.”

Risa felt her heart speed up a little looking at the bright Manaka. She hoped that her hands weren’t sweaty.

After Manaka dropped off her bag, the pair left the school, much to the chagrin of the teachers who spotted them heading out to skip class. They headed to the station and boarded a train so they could go to the dome where the band was performing.

On the train, Risa watched as Manaka bounced in her seat excitedly. They were the only people wearing school uniforms, shamelessly skipping class, so they stood out quite a bit on the train. From the side, Risa couldn’t see the numbers on Manaka’s neck, but she found herself looking at Manaka’s eyelashes and lips.

Manaka turned to Risa, “So, Watanabe, what did you even mean before?”

“This isn’t really a good place to talk about it.” Risa replied. “But you can call me Risa. There are two Watanabes in our class.”

Seeing Risa’s reluctance to answer, Manaka joked, “Then you might as well call me Manaka.” She didn’t feel that they were close enough to use first names yet, especially with their bad first interaction.

“I suppose I will, Manaka.”

“I don’t really like my name.” Manaka sputtered, flustered.

Risa grinned, “It’s cute like you. Manaka.”

Manaka teased and huffed, “What a sadist, Risa-sama. The way you say things makes people misunderstand.”

Risa awkwardly said, “What I said on your first day was supposed to mean that school sucks.” This wasn’t the whole explanation.

“You’re such a delinquent, encouraging me to skip.”

“Here we are.” Risa shrugged, gesturing that they were indeed skipping.

The train made a stop. People got off; people got on. The seats filled up, but there was an old lady who didn’t have a seat. Manaka didn’t need any prodding for her to get up out of her seat and give it to the old lady who thanked her.

Risa stared at Manaka who was now standing, holding onto the train handles.

Risa stood up and made Manaka sit in her seat, “Take my seat.”

Their roles were reversed now with Risa standing and Manaka sitting. Risa wondered if she should have just stood up without offering the seat because now she could see the numbers of Manaka’s neck. In addition, Manaka looked a bit like a small animal.

They spent the rest of the train ride relatively quietly.

The roaring excitement of the concert blew away any quietness of the trip. In the loud and crowded dome, Manaka waved a light stick and cheered happily. She held Risa’s hand in her hand and swung the cool Watanabe’s arm back and force without minding the expression on Risa’s face.

Risa knew that her arm was going to be sore when it was all over and wondered where Manaka even got all this vitality from.

Nonetheless, when she listened to the band perform and looked at Manaka’s overwhelming joy, Risa couldn’t help but join in on the fun too.

Manaka hugged Risa as the encore chant came on, “Risa-sama, you’re the best! Encore!” She almost kissed Risa.

Risa blushed, but luckily, her blush was hidden in the frenzy of the concert.

The concert ended, and the pair exited the dome. There was still time left in the day to hang out, and as neither girl had really brought much money, they didn’t drop by the places selling goods of the band.

“That was really fun…! I didn’t think I would be able to go to one of their concerts before I d-” Manaka stretched out her arms with a smile that she froze in a middle of as her mouth got away from her.

“Die?” Risa finished quietly, “Yea, you have about 36 days left.”

Manaka laughed awkwardly, “That’s more time than I expected.”

“I think that’s already too little time.” Risa spoke before she could stop herself. She had already accepted that the timer to death couldn’t be paused for anyone, but she still kept seeking Manaka. “You should spend that time having fun instead of wasting it in school or something.”

“Ah, so that’s what you meant.”


“Thanks. Although coming to school was actually my choice.” Manaka gave a wry smile, “Ah, do I really look that bad though? Like a near-dead person?”

“Not really. You’re beautiful. I’m not actually sure why you’ll die, but I…” Risa wasn’t ready to tell anyone about her special ability. She had never even told her own parents. “I guess I just wanted to see you enjoy the rest of your life more.”

“Why don’t you go out with me until I die then?”

Risa stared into Manaka’s eyes seriously without responding.

Manaka tried to wave her words off as a joke, “I’m jokin-”

“I’m fine with that.” Risa placed her index finger on Manaka’s lips to shush her.

“Risa-sama, you’re really a sadist.”

“Just Risa is fine, Manaka.”

The next morning came. As Risa sat in her seat, eyes closed, Manaka greeted her, showing Risa that their exchange the day before had actually happened. Risa introduced Manaka to Yuuka and Akane, and her new not-quite-girlfriend hit off nicely with her friends.

They spent their next school days together, living a casual everyday of halcyon happiness. Yuuka and Akane helped Manaka with some studying tips, the latter of Risa’s friends even forcing Risa to listen too since Risa didn’t have the best grades.

After school, Risa hung out with Manaka and her friends, finding that Manaka surprisingly didn’t know many of the fun activities that made up a normal high school student’s life. It seemed that she had been sickly.

On the day 25 days before Manaka’s death, Yuuka and Akane ditched Risa to go on a date. Risa and Manaka went to spend their afternoon together without the lovey-dovey pair.

Risa brought Manaka to the arcade. The flashing lights and noises of the arcade were pretty different from the places that they had gone previously.

Manaka pointed at a machine, “I want to play that one.”

Risa looked to where Manaka pointed, “The shooting game is really hard. Are you sure?”

“I’m pretty confident in myself.” Manaka boasted baselessly.

Risa laughed, “Let’s play it then.”

They went to the machine and started up a game. Picking up the toy guns, Manaka and Risa waited as the screen showed a countdown to start. Pew. Pew. Pew. Playing and laughing, they went through a few rounds of the game.

Whenever the attacker on the screen came too close and killed Manaka’s player, Manaka would close her eyes and accidentally stop shooting. Risa giggled at Manaka’s silliness, so in their last round, she helped Manaka shoot the zombie before it killed her player character, Risa’s hands on Manaka’s as they used the toy gun.

The last round was about the only one that Manaka won.

After having their fill of arcade games, they passed by the purikura machines, but unluckily, the machines were out of order. Then, Manaka’s eyes lit up as she saw a crane game machine filled with plushies.

“I’ve only seen these in manga and tv.” Manaka came up to the machine. “Risa, I’m going to get something. That dog plushie.”

Manaka put in some coins and started with the crane. At first, she didn’t even manage to maneuver it properly. She tried again, but each time, the crane’s grip on the plushie wasn’t good enough and the plushie fell again. In her last go, she picked up a plushie, but it ended up being a cat not the dog she wanted.

“I guess dog-Risa-sama wasn’t meant to be.” Manaka sighed as she held the cat plushie.

Risa put her hand on her face as she gave an amused sigh, “What is that name…?” However, she didn’t like the dejected look on Manaka’s face, so she said, “Let me try it.”

Putting a few coins into the machine, Risa moved the crane with Manaka watching intently. Risa failed a few times, but in a final go, she managed to pick up the dog plushie wobbly and it dropped into the chute.

“Risa, you got it!” Manaka cheered and hugged Risa. She pressed the cat plushie’s mouth on Risa’s lips.

Surprised and blushing, Risa couldn’t say anything but pick up the dog plushie from the slot and say, “This is yours.”

“And this one is yours. ‘Nyan. I’m Shida-cat.’” Manaka gave Risa her cat plushie. “Remember me, okay?”

“Yea, I will.”

Risa looked as the numbers, the timer, that ever present white smear, ticked down. Manaka was saying those kinds of things too soon, but everything was going too soon. Risa didn’t know why her chest felt painful.

She couldn’t yet say, ‘I like you.

All this time, Manaka seemed strong, not sickly. Risa was sure that the cause of death wouldn’t be a sudden accident or a heart attack because Manaka had already said that she knew that she would die. However, Manaka never showed her weakness, so Risa could almost forget about the painful truth.

They were walking together with 16 days left.

That was when Manaka suddenly stopped. Cold sweat beaded on her forehead, her face paler than usual, breathing shallow, Manaka looked to be in pain. She dropped down to a crouch and clutched her chest.

“Manaka, are you okay?” Risa asked worriedly. “I’ll call an ambulance right now.” She fumbled for her phone in her bag, having more trouble finding it than she should have.

Manaka nodded, unable to really form words. Then she pointed to her own bag and choked out, “… get me the medicine.”

Risa barely managed to call the ambulance, still talking to the ambulance people, but she quickly searched for the medicine, pulling out a surprising number of bottles before she saw Manaka nod and give a shaky signal for 2.

Grabbing her water bottle, Risa helped Manaka swallow the medicine with water.

After what seemed like too long, any bit of pain in the girl who she had fallen for was an endless suffering, Risa finally heard the ambulance. She was holding tightly onto Manaka’s hand as support, looking at the numbers for reassurance that it wasn’t time yet.
Manaka was taken to the hospital in the ambulance.

Risa was unable to go see her because Risa wasn’t a family member.

“It’s not time for you to go yet…” Tears welled up in Risa’s eyes.

Risa knew that doctors could do nothing to extend the time of life, but she wished that they could, just for Manaka. She had seen many people’s lives being fought for desperately against the clock, but she had never seen a success.

Even if Manaka sent her a message saying that she was okay, Risa didn’t believe it.

Manaka stopped coming to school. Yuuka and Akane asked Risa about it, not having gotten responses from Manaka when they contacted her, but when the friends saw Risa’s dejection, they stopped asking. They didn’t know about Manaka’s condition.

Risa visited the hospital everyday since the incident. However, it was only with a little under two weeks left for Manaka that visitors were allowed.

Manaka texted Risa not to come visit her. Instead she explained to Risa her illness.

It was a rare disease resembling both cancer and autoimmune diseases where her body destroyed itself from the inside sporadically with seemingly no pattern, almost like a curse. As a child, she had been especially sickly and always bedridden. However, in the recent year, she had seemingly gotten better, but the doctor projections for her life were still not long.

Asking to meet, Risa called Manaka. Manaka rejected that request with a shaky voice.

Risa repeated her request, “Manaka, please…”

“I’m sorry.” Manaka’s voice nearly broke.

“I lo-” The phone cut off. Risa murmured, “I love you…” She realized that she did.

Risa couldn’t accept what Manaka asked of her. Skipping school, Risa entered the hospital and asked the front desk for Manaka’s room number. She ignored the judgemental look on the nurse’s face and quickly headed to Manaka’s room.

After going up the elevator, walking through the hallway, Risa couldn’t help but pause as she reached Manaka’s room. Then she made up her mind and opened the door without knocking.

Manaka’s eyes widened in surprise. “Risa? Why are you...” Manaka sat in bed, dressed in a hospital gown, looking thin and vulnerable.

“Hey.” Risa greeted Manaka, “Don’t waste your time here.”

“Risa, you’re skipping class.”

“Hm. Let’s go out somewhere together. You still have 9 days, 19 hours, 37 minutes, and 46 seconds left. No less.”


“The time is going down. Let’s go.” Risa gestured that she brought clothes for Manaka to wear instead of a hospital gown.

After a long pause, Manaka gave Risa a weak smile, “Okay, sure.”

Manaka got changed, Risa obediently not looking but rather facing away. Then, the two of them snuck out of the hospital, Risa holding Manaka’s hand and leading the way.

When they passed the parking lot, Risa noticed Manaka glancing at the cars. Risa jokingly said, “Maybe we should go on a drive date.”

“We should hijack a car.” Manaka answered half seriously.

“I don’t know how to drive yet though.” Risa lightly retorted before pondering aloud, “I guess I’ll learn how.”

The two of them boarded a train and headed to their destination. As their train moved along, the sky started raining, drizzling little droplets of water in a sunshower, freshening up the air.

Manaka and Risa passed their ride in relative silence.

When they started walking to their destination, the rain had ceased. They reached an aquarium. There was a small amusement ride outside.

Risa noticed Manaka’s gaze naturally tend toward the ride. It was one where the customers took a seat, buckled up, and the ride threw the seat high into the sky and let it fall back down.

Naturally, Risa took Manaka along to the ride to ride it. Manaka screamed happily as she enjoyed the ride. They ended up riding it twice.

After they got off the ride, they started heading to the main attraction of the aquarium.

“Your hair got a bit messy.” Risa helped Manaka readjust her bangs.

They entered the water wonderland. With blue surrounding all sides only separated by glass, the couple walked entranced. For a moment, they could almost forget their worries, their lack of time left, because this was another world.

Manaka laughed, pointing at a funny faced fish, joking that it looked like Akane when she got overly competitive. Risa smiled because she could see Manaka smiling.

“Risa, these fish are so pretty!” Manaka called out to Risa, having let go of Risa’s hand and gone up ahead. She pointed up to a squad of shiny fish swimming next to a swarm of bright jellyfish.

To Risa, Manaka was the prettiest. Risa unconsciously took out her phone and snapped a picture of Manaka smiling with that fantasy-like background.

“Sorry, I couldn’t help but take a picture.” Risa apologized as she once more held onto Manaka’s hand.

They walked through the aquarium, ate some ice cream and a delicious lunch, and even played with a dolphin. By the time that they finished, it was already getting into late afternoon. Risa wanted their aquarium date to finish with time left before sunset.

Leaving the aquarium, Risa led Manaka to her own special place overlooking the city. They arrived just in time to see the sunset light up the whole place in a melancholic yet striking scene.

“This place looks even more beautiful in the winter.” Risa said aloud even though there was still a number of months before the seasons would change to winter.

They spent the next few minutes watching the sunset in silence.

Finally, Manaka broke the silence with a smile toward Risa, “I had a lot of fun. Thanks, Risa.”

“It’s nothing.” Risa shook her head.

Manaka felt glad that the sky was getting dark as she couldn’t stop the tears glazing over her eyes, “This is really selfish of me to say, but… I’m really glad that you talked to me.”

“Well, I like you after all, Manaka.”


Risa grabbed onto Manaka’s hands and repeated her words more strongly, voice hitching as she felt herself about to cry, “I love you.” The numbers flickered.

“I love you too.” Manaka replied, tears dropping down from her eyes, “...isn’t it kind of silly… that we fell in love with each other in such a short period of time?” Even though she was smiling, she couldn’t help but cry.

Their first kiss was the taste of tears.

Time flew. Risa skipped again the next day much to Manaka’s scolding. They tried to make the most of the last days that Manaka had left. Risa snuck Manaka out of the hospital a few times, but in the end, they ended up getting intense scoldings and were told to ask for permission.

The doctors and Manaka’s parents didn’t approve of Risa skipping school, but they were aware that they couldn’t change Risa’s feelings for Manaka.

Akane and Yuuka finally found out what was happening, and they promised to help keep Risa up with school. They visited Manaka everyday after school except for when Risa dragged Manaka off away from the hospital.

It was as if Risa would lose track of the days of the week but she wouldn’t lose track of Manaka’s time. She wanted to treasure it, to life it as long as was possible.

Even so, when there was only 1 day, 12 hours, 10 minutes, and 15, no 14, and a utterly unpreservable number of seconds left, Manaka collapsed again. Clutching her body in pain, shivering with an inexplicable cold, Manaka called for Risa who had quickly pressed the call button for the doctors to come.

“Risa… Sorry.” Manaka said weakly, “Please… forget about me.”

“No, I can’t. I-” ‘I love you.’ Risa did.

“You don’t need to say it.” Manaka mustered up the little bit of energy she could to kiss her index finger and put the index finger on Risa’s lips to quiet her.

The doctors and nurses then came in. They forced Risa out of the room and tried to resuscitate Manaka. Risa could only helplessly wait and be told to go home because she would be no help clogging the hallways.

When Risa was allowed back, rather she forced herself in to be able to visit Manaka, not wanting to miss the last day of the life of the girl she loved, Manaka was in a deep coma. The doctors seemed to have no hope left. No matter what, Risa wouldn’t let her be removed from Manaka’s side.

Risa recounted the times that they had spent together to the seemingly peacefully sleeping Manaka. She remember their bad first meeting and their first outing together. She talked about the funny things they did. She talked about Akane and Yuuka and how everyone loved Manaka.

Risa sat vigilantly at Manaka’s bedside, hating the white time numbers more than anything else in the world. The day markers disappeared. The hour markers too disappeared.

The sky was dark, but she didn’t fall asleep; she wouldn’t. The doctors gave up on making Risa leave. Tears leaked down her cheeks as she saw the last minute marker disappear, and the countdown from 59 seconds to zero started.

“I love you, so please… don’t leave me.” Risa gripped Manaka’s hand and begged to any deity out there, “If there’s anything in this world, please don’t let her die. I’ll trade my life instead, so please….”

Three turned to 2 to 1. And the only step next in the sequence was zero.

So Manaka died, the heart monitor sounding with the flat red line.

Footsteps sounded in the hallway. Doctors came into the room, once more moving Risa to the side, trying to revive Manaka, but the zeroth point had already been met.

Risa cried helplessly, “I won’t forgive you if you let her die…!”

White sequences of numbers, a timer, a countdown to the time of death, Watanabe Risa could see those concepts with her strange eyes. No matter how much she disliked it, as she saw the numbers go down to zero, counting mindlessly like a machine, she always saw the owner of the numbers die.

That was simply how life worked, or rather how death worked.

Risa sat in her chair, wrist above her eyes, and she looked at the numbers on her wrist. She had 30 years and counting down. Yet the numbers were shrinking two seconds per second, twice as fast as normal in an anomaly that she had been granted, a blessing in all honesty.

When she looked beside her, Manaka was asleep, gently breathing as the sunlight filtered in through the blinds. Risa felt Manaka’s heartbeat and warmth through their intertwined hands.

Manaka’s number had risen back to 1 second and stuck there, flickering 1 each time Risa’s number changed seconds.

Risa closed her eyes for a second, and she saw the god of death who she saw that night. As she begged, crying and screaming, the god of death had noticed her, commented on her eyes, and agreed to scythe through her lifeline and attach it to Manaka in a small favor.

It was simply because Risa had the eyes to see death that she had been this lucky. Now, as she opened her eyes again, for a moment, it was as if she couldn’t see the numbers. She could still see the white smears on the world, but if only even a little they had begun to fade.

Manaka stirred in her sleep. A dog plushie and a cat plushie sat sweetly next to her pillow. They were Dog-Risa-sama and Shida-cat, a pair of plushies with a terrible set of names.

“Risa… I love you.” Manaka mumbled in her sleep.

Risa replied gently, “Yea, I love you too.”

“Risa-sama has dog ears… hehe. So cute.” Manaka shifted a little.

“What are you dreaming of…?” Risa sighed, teasing her girlfriend who was still asleep, “Once you get better, I’ll get you some cat ears.”

Manaka was still not completely healthy, but she was getting better. She had to sleep a lot, but bit by bit, she was able to return to a normal life.

While dreaming, Manaka scrunched up her face, “...Risa-sama is a pervert.”

Risa laughed awkwardly, feeling misunderstood. She could feel the warmth of the person she loved, so she was happy.

MonaRisa was a happy ending. Originally, the ending was going to be sad, but I was told by a certain crocodile that I should make it happy or else by penguin-comrades would have their bloody, half-eaten pics shown to me. As far as things go, this happy ending was a little of a deus ex machina, but the kind of happy, fluffy MonaRisa makes me happy, so it's probably okay.

If you're interested in the original ending plan, continue reading. If you want to hold onto happy MonaRisa, you can probably just scroll down past the next section now:

**Mainly branching at the last scene. Manaka dies.
***Risa does not cry out helplessly in the second to last scene.
****The numbers do not flicker, betraying their lack of absoluteness, in the confession and kiss scene.

Risa falls into deep depression, revealing that the number on her wrist is actually very low, only a few months. Risa loses her will to live, something that she didn't have much of from the start. She's always been fatalistic, going on and on in her mind about how the timer is absolute and the zero is death, but Manaka's death tears something more away from her.

Not even trying to fight her own death, Risa's life becomes like a self-fulfilling prophesy. Yuuka and Akanen become worried sick about Risa while still mourning Manaka's departure. However, the friends fail to bring back the Risa who had smiled while loving Manaka.

As Risa's death approaches, she dreams about meeting Manaka again. However, it's merely a dream. She thinks that there's at least a silver lining to death, meeting Manaka again.

The numbers continue to tick down. It feels almost surreal. Glancing down at her inner wrist, the time ticks down to zero. With only one second left, Risa just stops. She gives up. Standing in the middle of the road, she waits for that last second to disappear.

She dies. Even as her friends cry, even as they had tried to save her in the last second that they noticed her stop, Risa's number turns to zero.

At least, she can meet Manaka again.

End Summary

A trivia tip: Techi is the god of death.

Offline MaYukiIsLife

  • Starting to become addicted to Keyakizaka46.
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Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [OS (YuzuMiko) (MonaRisa) (May 28, 2018)]
« Reply #128 on: May 28, 2018, 11:44:56 PM »
lol that reference to techi there

Offline four4four

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Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [OS (YuzuMiko) (MonaRisa) (May 28, 2018)]
« Reply #129 on: May 30, 2018, 07:41:28 AM »
Wahhh~~~ I am so behind.

I like ships. :)
Would be interesting to see how you could tie them into the main story.
I shall take a look. :)

Checkpoint 31:
Aoi was so mesmerized by Akanen's skills that she forgot to take pictures.
I see that YuukaNen moment. :P
Why doesn't Shiori join the art club officially?
Ooo, Techi with the mysterious dialogue at the end. :O

Checkpoint 32:
A challenger has arrived for Neru. :lol:
Who was Neru talking to on the phone? Suspicious... :?
Ooo, what does Techi want to say? ... Confession of love? :wub:

Offline Shinoki

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Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 32.5 + 33 (June 10, 2018)]
« Reply #130 on: June 10, 2018, 09:43:12 PM »
@four4four: Thank you for reading! Shiichan isn't in the art club officially since she thought that the Keyaki class would be more busy in the beginning but never got around to properly joining after realizing that the Keyaki class is pretty mild. As for what Techi's going to say... well, a storm of drama is going to start?
@MaYukiIsLife: Techi cameos are fun XD

Sorry for the wait! The update has come with two installments!

Checkpoint 32.5

“I used to have a big brother.”

“...yes?” Neru nodded. She felt as if she had heard her roommate once say something about that brother, but Yurina didn’t talk about herself very often.

“He was an amazing person.” The short haired girl didn’t try to block the rain at all. As Neru extended a hand, Yurina simply seemed to slip away. “He was older than me by only two years, the best brother that I could have had, the best person who everyone saw. He taught me a bunch of things, tutored me in the classes I was bad in and even introduced me to basketball.

“He always dragged me along to play. Since I was a pretty shy kid, he helped me make most of my friends. But honestly, it got a little annoying sometimes since I wasn’t good at basketball, and he liked to show off.

“But he was the best big brother I ever had.”

Neru responded, “I’d like to meet him some time.”

Yurina gave Neru a difficult to decipher smile, a sad smile that couldn’t be seen well in the night. The rain rolled down her cheeks, but the short haired girl didn’t cry at all.

At some point, they had been walking back. At some point, they had stopped walking. The rain continued to drizzle down lightly with whispers of sound, not pouring and cancelling everything out with noise. The roommates looked at each other, both with undecipherable emotions flying through a frozen face.

“Sorry, that was meaningless.”

Neru jokingly responded, “Yurina-chan, you were really bragging about him. It makes me a little jealous.”

“Sorry.” Yurina nodded, sheepishly. “Being at the court so late reminded me of this one time we got in trouble for playing too much.”

—I can’t tell her who I killed.

In a neighborhood in the Aichi prefecture, as the fireflies glowed sporadically in the grass and the cicadas chirped, a group of elementary school kids played into the night in the park. The streets were lit by street lamps and the glittering of the unseen stars.

Two boys, one with an androgynous face resembling Yurina and a stocky one, and a pair of girls, one with pigtails and one with short hair, the Yurina of the past, chatted on the basketball area of the park. The Hirate boy held a basketball in his hand.

The pigtails girl pouted cutely at the boy with the basketball, “Yuu-chan, it’s really late. When are we going home?”

The stocky boy pushed the pigtails girl to side and snorted, telling his male friend, “Hey, stop trying to do it.”

Originally, they had come to the park to play on the holiday. However, the boy, Yuu-chan, had gotten into his head to try to dunk backwards, in other words, a reverse dunk. He wasn’t even tall enough to do a proper dunk, but he wanted to try to get the ball in backwards.

“What are you talking about, Ren? Yuu-chan can totally do it!” The pigtails girl growled, pushing the stocky boy to the side in their usual playful argumentative style.

“Weren’t you just saying ‘let’s go home?’” The boy, Ren, grumbled and flippantly said, “Girls like you are so weird. Miki the weirdo.” He made a face as if the girl, Miki had cooties.

Miki grabbed Ren by the shoulders, “Hey! Who are you calling a weirdo!?”

“You’re a weirdo.” Ren stuttered before retorting.

Miki then turned to the short haired girl next to her and strongly called out, “Yurina, back me up here! Us girls verses Ren.”

“Eh?” The short haired girl was taken by surprise.

Miki took Yurina’s hand, “Come on, don’t be so boring. Be cool like Yuu-chan.”

Ren shouted, “Hey! No fair!”

Yurina didn’t know how to arbitrate the argument. Miki was her classmate and her closest friend, a friendship brought together by Yuu-chan who was Yurina’s brother. Ren was in the grade above them, but he was a nice boy who had protected Yurina from a garden snake.

Saving Yurina, her brother moved the arguing duo apart, “Don’t argue, you two.” He removed Miki’s hand from Yurina’s. “Can you apologize to Yurina-chan for grabbing her so roughly?”

“A-ah, okay.” Miki blushed under the dim lighting. Then, she turned to Yurina and quickly apologized, “I’m sorry.”

Yuu-chan smiled, “It’s okay if you head home first. I don’t want your moms to get mad at you because of me.”

Ren shrugged and waved, “See you later then.” He left.

Miki gave the Hirate siblings a ‘see you tomorrow’ and quickly headed home as well.

The Hirate siblings found themselves alone in the night. Yuu-chan’s name was Hirate Yukiteru. Only Yukiteru was referred to as Yuu-chan even when Yurina’s name shared the same ‘Yu’ sound.

Watching as her brother did his best to do the basketball move, Yurina found time passing.

She couldn’t help but wonder aloud, “Do you think we’ll get scolded when we get home?”

“Urk.” Her brother nearly dropped the ball and sheepishly laughed, “Well, I’ll make sure mom and dad know it’s my fault that you stayed out this late.”

Yurina shook her head, “No, it’s okay.”

“You’re too kind of a little sister.” He praised her warmly. “But I’ll definitely make sure they know, okay? Last time, they accidentally scolded you over the book I lost.”

Clink, clank! The sound of basketball filled the air.

Before long, Yurina’s brother’s forehead was filled with sweat, and he took a seat on the ground next to where Yurina had been watching, “I don’t really know if I can do it…”

“Um…” The short haired girl wasn’t sure what to say to cheer him up.

“Sorry for showing you your big brother’s uncool side.” The boy sighed before quickly brightening up with an idea, “I know! Yurina-chan, let me teach you how to do a jump shot.”

He tossed the basketball to Yurina who caught it in surprise. Yurina quickly threw it back to him, and he rubbed the back of his head with a grin. Demonstrating what a jump shot was, the siblings got to work, playing with the basketball.

At the end of the night, he completed his reverse dunk.

—I don’t want to become hated for not being like this.

“It’s okay.” Neru gave her roommate a sudden hug, whispering as if speaking about something else that Yurina had never told Neru about, “Don’t blame yourself for anything. It’s not your fault. You’re Yurina-chan, and I lo-”

The sky began pouring, a lightning strike broke through the darkness followed by a quick thunder.

Checkpoint 33

The Sakamichi summer camp started, making little difference for the Keyaki class except for more festivity across the campus than usual and a little less people around. Akane was with the tennis club, sleeping over with them for the duration of the camp, so Yuuka had left the dorms early to send her girlfriend a love-packed lunch.

One way or another, Aoi found herself sitting in between Yurina and Neru in the cafeteria at breakfast. A week ago, when the pair had come downstairs looking a bit sleep deprived from staying outdoors too long even with some heavy rain, Aoi had joked and taken a picture for later blackmail and memories, but since then, a strange air had found itself floating between the roommates.

Neru asked no one in particular, “Can you pass me the ketchup?”

Yurina was poking at her food listlessly, staring up at the ceiling. She was closest to the ketchup but hadn’t moved. Thus, Aoi passed Neru the ketchup.

A few seconds passed before Aoi processed the monstrous actions occurring before her eyes with the ketchup in Neru’s hands, “Wait… You’re eating pancakes though?”

Neru wordlessly put the ketchup covered pancake in her mouth. With a sigh, she glanced at her roommate and down at her plate before continuing.

“Gross.” Sitting across from the three, Risa made a face at the inedible thing on Neru’s plate. Suzumoto also inched away from Neru without a word.

Aoi had finished her breakfast already, but she wasn’t sure if she should get up from between Yurina and Neru. The mood felt too stifling.

Across the room, Habu spoke excitedly to Koike, “Want to sneak in on the manga club and see what they’re doing?” The tall girl’s voice reached Aoi’s ears.

For a moment, Aoi felt soothed. She wished that she had sat with the otaku-ish pair, but then, a spark of inspiration hit her.

Hirate Yurina found herself walking through the hallways with Aoi as a barrier between herself and Neru. She was moving it mindlessly, but suddenly, she couldn’t help but feel the metal on her wrist and the fluttering in her chest.

I love you.” The thunder had cut Neru off, but Yurina had heard her anyways.

Yurina shook her head mentally. Neru’s words hadn’t been love as much as like, a type of like that was used in confessions. These were intricacies of the Japanese language that the short haired girl never thought about, but regardless of what Neru meant, Yurina didn’t know how to reply.

Her mind filled with thoughts, she nearly walked into the wall.

Aoi called out to Yurina, “Techi, the literature club room is over here.”

The short haired girl spotted Neru giving her a worried gaze. The way Neru’s eyes seemed to pierce through Yurina was almost scary even though usually, that attentiveness brought a sense of security to Yurina’s heart. When Neru glanced away, Yurina’s heart unconsciously dropped.

They reached the literature club room.

A voice suddenly yelled out, “Puns! Let’s put some puns in there!”

Just from the bit that the trio could see through the door, the club room was full and very rowdy, an unexpected sight from a cultural club. With a bit of hesitation, Aoi opened the door.

“Wh-” A club member was about to question who opened the door.

Everything went silent as the club spotted the Keyaki girls. A few literature club members even suddenly hid away their writings and pretended that nothing strange was going on.

Yurina’s eyes swept across the room. She blinked a few times when she saw the artist Memi in a compromising position on top of another girl. When Yurina blinked again, Memi had gotten off the other girl and quietly apologized to the girl whose name Yurina barely picked up as Mana.

Aoi sheepishly grinned, “Sorry, we were just curious what all the clubs were doing during the camp.” She hadn’t expected the club to just topple over like that.

On the side, Neru had an amused but distracted expression that struck the writers in the club in the heart, inspiring a deep fanfic in their hearts. Yet, neither Neru or Yurina spoke.

Then, the short haired girl suddenly mumbled, holding her chin in deep thought, “Puns…” She pointed at Memi and asked, “Kakizaki-san, is your name the ‘kaki’ of persimmon and the ‘me’ for bud and the ‘mi’ for fruit?”

Surprised, Memi nodded, “Yes, it is.”

Confused, Aoi’s eyes darted between the two girls.

“Can you meet me at the basketball court from a week ago tonight?” Yurina said calmly.

All the clubroom’s eyes were on Memi in trepidation as if a love confession was about to occur in the night.

—I don’t know what to call my feelings for her.

After that visit to the literature club room, Aoi awkwardly walked through the hallways with the pair. Neru didn’t seem to be in the mood to visit more clubs, and Yurina seemed to be trying to ignore Neru’s mood. Aoi noticed when the pair’s hands seemed to reach out for each other only to move away as if shocked.

They split off, heading into different directions.

Aoi quickly followed after Neru. “Neru, are you okay?”

“I’m okay.” Neru smiled, shaking her head.

Aoi frowned. She didn’t need to look at the pictures in her camera to figure out that the smile was different from Neru’s usual smile; it was fake. “You can tell me. We’re friends.”

“It’s okay, Aoi. It’s nothing that you have to worry about.”


“Don’t worry about it.”

Aoi visibly deflated.

Neru noticed, but she still chose to leave. She entered an unused wing of the school and looked out the window. The sun shined down brightly as if mocking her disconnect with her roommate.

Neru sighed, “I want to recharge.” She took out her phone.

Typing out a message, she thought to herself, “She’s just solving the riddle. She’s just… not giving you a response. Let’s just take it back, so we can stop being like this.”

« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 04:23:14 AM by Shinoki »

Offline Minami-chan

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Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 32.5 + 33 (June 10, 2018)]
« Reply #131 on: June 11, 2018, 12:56:33 PM »
Suddenly I feel very sad for Neru.
But I also feel very nostalgic for what happened with the Hirate brothers ...
You left me with a lot of intrigue.
I will wait for the next update with much desire.

Offline four4four

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Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 32.5 + 33 (June 10, 2018)]
« Reply #132 on: June 12, 2018, 02:41:32 AM »
Checkpoint 32.5:
Hmm... slowly revealing Techi's pass I see.
And come on mother nature. Why did you have to ruin the moment?

Checkpoint 33:
Is this uneasy air really just from Neru's confession? Seems like there is something more to it than that.
So did Techi just like ask Memi out for a moonlight date?
Hmm... Neru and her mysterious thought.

Offline Shinoki

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Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [OS - Seasons - OdaPon (June 15, 2018)]
« Reply #133 on: June 15, 2018, 09:13:47 PM »
@Minami-chan: Thank you for reading! The past is something that sticks with Techi very deeply for the good and the bad.
@four4four: TechiNeru are like rain women given how many rainy scenes they have, haha. The uneasy air between the two isn't really from Neru's confession but rather from the ghosts - really, living ghosts in Neru's case - haunting Techi and Neru. Techi didn't ask Memi out for a date, but some people (like Manafi; it's a ManaMemi world here) might misunderstand and cause something funny.

The next Eccentric update should be in a few days. But first, OdaPon.


It was winter when those feelings had started, the snow falling outside, the students in winter clothes and hanging together near the heater. Kobayashi Yui had sat at her desk, listlessly gazing out the window. At the other side of the room, Oda Nana was chatting brightly and handing out mikans from her hometown to everyone.

When Kobayashi said everyone, she meant literally everyone, even the members of the class who were delinquents or stuck-up and vapidly superficial. Of course, Kobayashi wasn’t an angel either, but sometimes, Oda Nana seemed too kind.

It annoyed her.

Oda Nana came over and casually put a mikan on Kobayashi’s desk.

“What is this?” Kobayashi asked coldly.

“It’s a Mikkabi mikan.” Oda Nana advertised, “They’re delicious, just so you know.”

Kobayashi shrugged and started peeling the orange, placing one piece in her mouth, “I’ll judge that myself.”

Oda Nana watched closely, “So, how is it?”

“Sweet…” Kobayashi murmured.

Oda Nana grinned, very satisfied. Normally Kobayashi would have wanted to wipe that victorious grin off of any other person’s face, but she just quietly looked at Oda Nana’s face. That staring made Oda Nana flee in shyness, eliciting a light chuckle from the cool Yui.

Even though it was winter, Kobayashi felt warm. At that time, she simply hadn’t realized that she had started to fall in love with the mikan-giving Oda Nana.

When spring came, Kobayashi Yui found herself once more in the same class as Oda Nana. It was raining outside, the pitter patter of the water falling from the sky made so much noise that she couldn’t stay in the classroom and play guitar for the noise would drown out her own sounds.

She walked down to the school entrance and changed her shoes, getting out her umbrella, just in time to see Oda Nana and another classmate, a clumsy penguin like girl called Koike Minami.

For some reason, seeing the two together but only Oda holding an umbrella made Kobayashi stop in her tracks to wait and watch.
Oda Nana asked Koike, “Miichan, did you forget your umbrella?”

Koike nodded, looking out at the rain with a pouting face, “Yea, and it’s pouring really hard right now…”

Then, Oda Nana took a moment to think. “You live next to Habu, right?” She inquired, knowing that she herself lived in the complete opposite direction.

Koike nodded.

“Ah, that’s pretty far away.” Nodding almost sagely, the kind Oda made the decision in a split second and handed her own umbrella to Koike, “Here, you can have my umbrella. I don’t want you to get drenched.”

“No, it’s okay. I can wait for the rain to stop.” Koike shook her head hurriedly and waved her hands in a rejecting gesture.

The sky started thundering, the rain intensifying rather than stopping.

“No, you can use my umbrella.” Oda Nana firmly pushed the umbrella into Koike’s hand. “I just remembered that I still have something to do, so I’m going to stay after school a bit anyways.”

Koike awkwardly looked at Oda Nana while holding the umbrella, “But…” She clearly didn’t believe Oda Nana’s words.

Oda Nana shook her head and gestured for the penguin-like girl to go home, “Don’t worry about it.”

When Koike finally left and went out of site, Oda Nana let out a sigh. Stretching her arms a little, she hummed to herself a question of what she would do to waste her time. She took out her phone to check the weather and made a disgruntled noise when she found out that the rain was actually going to get worse into the afternoon and night.

That was when Kobayashi came up next to Oda Nana. “Hey.”

“Oh, Kobayashi-san. What’s up?” Oda Nana greeted Kobayashi.

Kobayashi frowned, “You’re pretty stupid, giving your umbrella to Koike.”


“We live in the same direction, don’t we?”

Oda Nana nodded, not catching onto the flow of the conversation.

Kobayashi casually opened the umbrella and took a first step out of the entrance of the school, leaving room for another person under the umbrella, “Well, get under the umbrella then.”

Although surprised, Oda Nana came up under the umbrella and smiled, “Kobayashi-san, you’re a really nice person, huh.”

The guitar playing girl didn’t know how to respond to that, so she just shrugged. She hoped that her ears weren’t turning red.

The two classmates walked relatively quietly through the rain. Pitter patter. Pitter patter. They were on the sidewalk, moving along with a space in between them under the umbrella. Although Kobayashi wasn’t getting wet, she glanced over and saw Oda Nana’s wet shoulder.

Kobayashi casually moved the umbrella over a bit. It didn’t really matter if she got a little wet since she was fine skipping school over a small cold anyways, but she didn’t want Oda Nana to get wet.

Oda Nana responded by pushing the umbrella over to Kobayashi.

They ended up pushing the umbrella back and forth, almost pushing each other, in an attempt to keep the other dry. They seemed like children who weren’t talking at all.

Thus, the pair suddenly heard a giggle.

“Yuipon, Yuipon’s friend, you two are pretty silly fighting like that.” A short girl with her own umbrella gestured, “Just stand closer, and neither of you will get wet.”

Kobayashi, or Yuipon, sighed, grumbling at the short girl who she seemed to know, “Zuumin…”

“Well, it’s true after all.” The short girl casually grinned, “By the way, I’m Imaizumi Yui. This tsundere’s bandmate, if she hasn’t told you about me yet.”

Oda Nana introduced herself, “Ah, I’m Oda Nana.”

“Oh, I see.” Imaizumi let out a knowing smile toward Kobayashi.

Kobayashi shooed, “Zuumin, shoo. Don’t you have something to do with Techi or something?”

“Well, see you later then.” The short haired girl quickly disappeared into the crowd.

Exchanging a few words, Kobayashi and Oda Nana huddled closer to each other under the umbrella. For Kobayashi, it was as if her heartbeat overpowered the sound of the rain, and she couldn’t see the flustered expression on Oda Nana’s face.

Unluckily, their little moment was interrupted by a car driving by too quickly and splashing water onto both of the girls.

Summer shined down soon enough with its hot rays and often humid air and of course, the end of exams marking the upcoming vacations. Kobayashi’s class found themselves out at the pool on the last day of school before vacations, playing around with water and cleaning tools in the empty pool.

The class officer Moriya yelled out at some of the girls playing around, “Hey, we’re supposed to be cleaning here!”

One of them shouted back playfully, “Don’t be such a bore. We have more than enough time! Let’s play a little first!”

All the while, Kobayashi sat in the shade, watching. She wasn’t part of the group that had volunteered the class to clean the pool. Even if they got to play in the pool afterwards, she wasn’t really interested. Instead, she hummed a self-written song to herself, thinking about a band performance with her out of school friends.

Suddenly, she found the shade enlarge.

“Hey, Yuipon.” Oda Nana smiled, holding some cleaning materials.

“Oda Nana.” Kobayashi greeted. She was about to shoo the kind girl away when she realized something. “Actually, you can stay there and be my shade.”

Oda Nana pouted, “Eh, I’m going to help clean the pool though.”

Kobayashi shrugged. She had expected that.

Oda Nana went back down to the pool to help clean up. Aiding the class officers Moriya and Sugai with getting the class back into order, Oda Nana energetically scrubbed the pool floor.

For a second, Kobayashi turned her eyes away and looked at the sky. She almost wanted to join in on the fun after seeing Oda Nana.
A spurt of water, a few playful yells, those types of noises caught Kobayashi’s attention. She glanced back at the pool cleaning bunch and saw Oda Nana’s shirt soaked. If she squinted, she could see Oda Nana’s bra. Blushing at what she was doing, Kobayashi closed her eyes to calm down.

Then, she got up to join that rowdy bunch of classmates.

Autumn was the falling of leaves to the ground, the cool weather returning along with delicious fall foods. The thing that wouldn’t fall off at all was Oda Nana who had taken to clinging to Kobayashi.

Oda Nana had her phone out, ready to take a picture, “Hey, Yuipon, can you pose for me?”

Kobayashi looked up from her book for a second and looked back down, ignoring Oda Nana completely.

Nonetheless, Oda Nana happily took a picture.

Classmates like Shida and the two Watanabes had come to sit near Kobayashi and Oda Nana, creating an odd little friend group. For Kobayashi who usually sat by herself, this was a new situation created by Oda Nana’s strangeness. Of course, she didn’t mind it at all.
Oda Nana hugged Kobayashi from behind and casually took a two-shot picture.

Koike called out from the other side of the room, carrying a bunch of boxes, “Can someone help me with this?”

Oda Nana went over to help the penguin-ish girl set down the boxes. After finishing, she quickly came back to bug Kobayashi.

Kobayashi huffed, “You’re too nice to everyone. Make them do it themselves.”

“Well, it’s better if everyone can be happy though.” Oda Nana replied.

“I guess I do like you for that, but it’s kind of annoying.” Kobayashi said nonchalantly, ignoring the playful snickers of her other friends. Speaking quietly, she added, “Rather, I’d be okay monopolizing your kindness.”

Oda Nana’s eyes sparkled in surprise before she tried to give Kobayashi a big hug and a kiss, “Yuipon loves me? I love you too!”

“Hmph.” Kobayashi smoothly pushed Oda Nana away.

She glanced out the window, and she couldn’t help but glance back into the classroom at Oda Nana’s smiling face being squished against her hand. Kobayashi Yui wondered if something had changed throughout the seasons.

“I do love you too.” She mumbled under her breath.

Offline Minami-chan

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Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [OS - Seasons - OdaPon (June 15, 2018)]
« Reply #134 on: June 18, 2018, 01:13:24 AM »
Thanks for the OS.
The truth is that I am more than other couples. But your effort to continue writing stories is appreciated.
Waiting "Eccentric" with impatience  :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :inlove: :inlove: :inlove:

Offline Shinoki

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Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 34 (June 25, 2018)]
« Reply #135 on: June 26, 2018, 04:22:24 AM »
I shall prostrate myself in shame for the long wait for such a chaotic chapter. Thank you for waiting! I also kind of want to smack past-me on the head for putting the focus on TechiNeru too much because Aoi's part and their part doesn't really overlap, but it's Aoi's arc, which is making the organization difficult.

I got distracted by an internship, writing YuukaNen (if things go well, I can probably put up another one-shot soon), and reading Japanese Keyaki fanfics. If you know basic Japanese, you should totally read these fics! here and here They're really good fics. On another note, if you know Chinese, go check out hapojun's (a twitter artist) older drawings since there's some amazing YuukaNen there.

@Minami-chan: Thanks~ What's your favorite Oda ship? (I'm really sorry about the long wait for Eccentric)

Anyhow, enjoy! (please don't kill me for this weird checkpoint)

Checkpoint 34

The metal about her wrist notified her that the task had been completed as the box was handed over to the regular Sakamichi student Kakizaki Memi. As the sun was about to set, Hirate Yurina was about to leave, yet suddenly another regular student came out of the left field, tackling Memi down in tears and sobbing out a love confession.

Yurina froze for a second. Then, she quickly turned away, giving a departing statement of good luck to Memi or perhaps to the confessing girl and ran away.

Her feet kept moving, the air rushing past her, her dark hair that had been getting longer slapping her face. By the time she stopped, her forehead was filled with sweat. The sweat droplets rolled down to her chin, dripping off. The short haired girl put her hands on her knees and gasped for her breath.

“, why did I run away?” Yurina ran her fingers through her bangs, covering her eyes with her hands, “Why do I keep running away?”

She realized quite simply that the painful feeling in her chest right now was jealousy.

The short haired girl spotted Neru in the distance. She couldn’t call out to Neru. Just acting distant in the morning had been painful enough. The idea of facing Neru again dug into her like the claws of a beast.

If she just kept pretending, then it would be okay. If she just closed her eyes and took another shaky breath, then she could keep living like before.

Words like love were just lies.

But she fell in love anyhow—

Inside, they could not see the night sky filled with stars. The moon was beautiful, wasn’t it. Those words that meant I love you couldn’t be heard—

“Is there something bothering you?”

A soft voice broke Aoi out of her stupor, the voice coming from beside her. In the dorm cafeteria, Aoi poked at her food listlessly while sitting next to her friends Habu and Koike. At some point, she had zoned out.

Aoi shook her head, “Ah, it’s nothing.”

“Are you sure?” Habu followed up for her close friend.

Aoi nodded, “Yea.”

She felt her face twitch because she was lying. Her internal hypocrisy gnawed at her, making her feel even worse about being upset over her other friends’ choice to not let her in and her inability to help.

Koike and Habu didn’t force the camera-wielding girl, but they shared a glance of worry.

Aoi looked toward the exit of the cafeteria. There, a short haired girl and a long haired girl were talking. Rather, Yurina and Neru seemed to be talking, whatever Neru saying causing the short haired girl to be taken aback and quickly run out.

Neru seemed to meet Aoi’s eyes before leaving as well.

“Hey, what are you worrying about right now?” A voice came from behind Aoi. Risa jokingly started to ask, “Not going to take nosy pict-”

Feeling her worries flood out in what should have been a normal retort in their usual conversations, Aoi inadvertently shouted and threw the camera at Risa, “I don’t need this thing anymore!”

“Oof! What?” The cool Watanabe caught the camera, scrunching her eyebrows in confusion at her annoying pseudo-little sister’s outburst.

Akane, grabbing dinner together with Yuuka this night, came over and asked, “Hey, what’s going on here?”

“Sorry for being nosy! I just wanted to-” Aoi stopped in the middle of her sentence. She froze before turning away and quietly walking out of the cafeteria.

Koike frowned at Risa, “Risa, why did you make Aoi cry?” Both of them had spotted the tears in Aoi’s eyes.

“I didn’t mean to make her cry.” Risa scowled. “What’s wrong with her today?”

Akane spoke up with her interpretation, “It’s because she’s a good kid who always wants to help fix other people’s problems even if she’s a bit meddlesome.” She gave a wry smile to Risa and glanced at Habu as well, remembering how she had gotten mad at Aoi before exams.

Risa shook her head, “No, you and Yuuka were just being annoying back then.” Risa starting walking toward the cafeteria door while holding Aoi’s camera carefully.

“You’re still going to apologize, huh.” Akane praised lightheartedly, “Risa’s also a good kid.” She gave Risa a light slap on the back to go on and find Aoi.

The cool Watanabe huffed, “Shut up.”

“Let’s continue being just friends like before.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”

Aoi hugged her pillow, sitting on the edge of her bed with puffy eyes. Her roommate Sato had prepared a cup of hot chocolate for her when she calmed down and was floundering in worry over Aoi.

Aoi mumbled, taking the off-season hot chocolate, “Thanks, Shiichan.”

“Don’t worry about it, Aoi-chan. We’re roommates and friends, and I don’t like to see you sad.” Sato replied.

Sato’s long-winded answer brought a small giggle to Aoi.

Then, Sato asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to let Risa in and apologize?”

They could hear Risa at the door, knocking continuously.

Aoi shook her head, “I don’t want to.”

Sato laughed awkwardly. “I’ll tell her that.” Getting up from her seat, the long-winded artist went to the door to tell Risa that Aoi didn’t want to talk right now before coming back.


“You’re welcome.” Sato inquired, “Do you want to tell me what’s worrying you?”

By default, Aoi began with a rejection, but she changed her mind, “Actually… if you’re okay with listening.”

“Of course I’m okay.”

“Well, the thing is, every time I try to do something, I feel like I mess up a lot.” Aoi blurted out, “I wonder if I can call myself a friend since I’m so useless. When I see my friends worried or in trouble, I want them not to have problems, so I get myself involved, right?

“But, I keep messing up. Right now, even though I just wanted to let Techi and Neru make up, I think they’re fighting even more now.” Aoi continued.

The whole while, Sato nodded, listening attentively.

Aoi regurgitated everything out rapidly. By the end of her piece, she buried her face into her pillow and wouldn’t look up at Sato. A broken shard stuck in her heart whispered that perhaps her roommate would see her as a meddlesome annoyance too.

Yet, Sato gently hugged Aoi. “You’re a good friend, Aoi. Just the fact that you worry about your friends is important. Because sometimes, we’re just not ready to say these things to anyone, but knowing that someone cares can save people.

“I’m a little weak in the mental department, which is why I keep on talking for so long, but you’ve helped me a lot of times. You don’t abandon your friends. Even when I start rambling, you listen and chat with me. You help me out with art stuff too.

“I know that it’s hard to remember the good things over the bad things, but there are a lot of good things. Friends fight all the time, and we can be stupid by not talking it out even when it would be better to do it.

“You don’t need to take on the burden of everyone’s problems. You’re Aoi, and you don’t need to be a fix-all. Even though it really hurts to see our friends sad.

“I think it’s the same with everyone that it’s sometimes really hard to spit out what we’re thinking and agonizing over. Even though we should be able to communicate better. It’s a human thing, I guess.

“I’m glad you told me about your problems.” Sato finished flustered and worried that she had come off as lecturing.

Aoi hugged Sato back, burying her face into her roommate’s shoulder, and she smiled, “That was long.”

« Last Edit: July 15, 2018, 06:55:27 AM by Shinoki »

Offline four4four

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Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 34 (June 25, 2018)]
« Reply #136 on: June 26, 2018, 07:43:00 AM »
I was so engrossed in TechiNeru that I completely forgot that this was Aoi's arc. :lol:
I hope she will be able to help TechiNeru out though. :(
But I am just wondering what Neru said to Techi in the cafeteria. :?

Offline Minami-chan

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  • Still Love You
Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 34 (June 25, 2018)]
« Reply #137 on: June 26, 2018, 12:15:58 PM »
Poor Aoi.
She should not feel bad, she has not done anything wrong. In reverse try to help everyone.
Now the one who's going to be terribly worried about doing something wrong is Risa, and she really has not done anything.
I'm also intrigued by what happened outside the cafeteria with Neru and Techi.

Offline mooza

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  • Posts: 7
Re: Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [Checkpoint 34 (June 25, 2018)]
« Reply #138 on: June 29, 2018, 08:07:08 PM »
jfc for some reason, i havent been receiving any emails about eccentric's update so i assumed you were still taking a break. i just realised i missed like 5 chapters O_O ohwell anyway, good job as always! techi's pretty smart, i was almost worried about a love triangle between techineru and memi for a moment. yikes. i hope they make up soon tho :<

Offline Shinoki

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  • MONA
Eccentric (TechiNeru+) [OS - Bamboo Cutter - YuukaNen (June 30, 2018)]
« Reply #139 on: June 30, 2018, 10:30:55 PM »
Not the Eccentric update. That'll come... at some point. Rather it's a YuukaNen one-shot with Kaguya-hime story pieces that escalated way too far all over the place. (It was supposed to end at a 2000 word point but got to almost 8000 words instead. Totally the reason why Eccentric always has updating problems - me writing excessively for my one shots.)

By the way, should I make a separate thread for the one-shots from now on?

@mooza: Thanks for reading! MemiTechiNeru drama is fun, but Manafi already put in her claim for Memi.
@Minami-chan: The Keyaki class kids are a troublesome bunch sometimes, but their experiences together will help them to better communicate with each other in the future, hopefully.
@four4four: Aoi will do her best.

Bamboo Cutter

Watching the cherry blossoms fall from the tree in her courtyard, Yuuka wondered how the water birds at Lake Biwa looked as the spring came. She held her brush and journal in her hand, carelessly writing a poem of her thoughts.

Yet, she knew that she would not be able to see the Lake that she had once visited with her father. She pondered, concluding that she might not have the chance to see it ever again.

For all the beauty of the courtyard of the Sugai family, a family of officials loyal to the Emperor, this estate was merely a cage within a vaster world. Just a little bit of evidence for a plot to overthrow the Emperor, damning evidence under the magistrates’ eyes, could cut off the bloodline of the Sugai family with its head ready to be executed.

Yuuka, a mere scholarly girl, had been put under house arrest.

She did not expect a good end. Even blood relatives of the Fujiwara family in charge of this land of the rising sun had been quietly dealt with when they fell out of favor. She thought quickly back to the situation where the uncle Michinaga put his own daughter as the Emperor’s empress when his niece had already been the Emperor’s empress.

Her brush stopped. The ink dried slowly on the paper, and she quickly tore it out. Like the fleeting blossoms, she felt that her words were also ephemeral, and they like her loyal family would soon be forgotten as if eaten by a hakutaku.

If she rode a horse, perhaps she would reach a land far away and be free. If she became a Buddhist nun, perhaps she would be spared her life. Yuuka mused escapes as quickly as she shot them down.

The exotic cat that her uncle had brought home long ago let out a lazy meow, interrupting Yuuka’s thoughts.

“Tom, are you hungry?” Yuuka asked the cat, walking into her room from the open courtyard.

The cat with the strange name from somewhere else waved his tail, but he kept his fat torso happily on the tatami mat. He seemed to almost shake his head no. He hadn’t enjoyed his food as much recently with the disgrace of the Sugai family, which had caused the servants to leave as well.

Suddenly a noise came from the front of her family’s estate.

Yuuka jumped while Tom lazed about. The girl panicked, Perhaps it was the Emperor’s people coming to take her head already. Even if it was just a thief, she was alone with no way to deal with it. Then, she mustered up the courage within herself. She had no choice but to check the noise out.

The scholar went to the front with a decorative sword that had been left in her father’s study. If someone found out that she was going to the door with a sword, she would have been doomed with a label of rebellion, but that hadn’t come to her mind.

Slowly going to the location of the sound. She also heard some rustling and the faint outline of a voice. It didn’t seem to be the Emperor’s people. A common thief seemed more likely, even if thieves didn’t often have the guts to attack officials.

Yuuka approached the sound and charged.

Forgetting to unsheathe the sword, she slammed the sword, which was basically a stick, toward the intruder’s head, “Stop right there- Huh?”

The intruder caught the sword and threw it to the side, nearly making Yuuka trip, “Ouch! Hey!”

Yuuka’s brain stopped as she set her eyes on the intruder. It was a beautiful young lady that seemed around her age. This young lady was dressed in simple and fresh clothing of good quality fabric, showing an amount of wealth thrown onto her. Yuuka’s gaze went to the intruder’s red lips, and Yuuka slapped herself in her mind for thinking that it would probably feel nice to kiss this person even though she had never kissed anyone before.

“I-I’m really sorry about that…” Yuuka apologized.

“No, it’s okay.” The intruder shook her head. She showed off her hand as if saying that her guts were too great to be defeated by a mere stick. “I’m the one who climbed over your wall to get away from those annoying suitors.”

As if the deities above planned it, the sounds of young men running by asking where a beautiful young lady had went could be heard right outside the estate. The intruder quickly placed a finger on Yuuka’s lips to keep her quiet.

The thought that the intruder was single crossed Yuuka’s mind before she internally chastised herself again.

Tom then meowed, having walked over sometime in the middle of the two humans’ interaction. He gave a sharp look toward the intruder before warming up, rubbing himself against her leg with a series of purrs. The cat then proceeded to tell his master that he wanted food.

“Tom is hungry right now. It seems he likes you though.” Yuuka extended the intruder an invitation, “Would you like to join us for dinner?”

“Thank you.” The intruder smiled brightly toward Yuuka.

Keeping her blush under control, the scholar introduced herself, “I’m Sugai Yuuka.”

“Moriya Akane.” The intruder replied. With a thoughtful face, she then took Yuuka’s hands lightly and asked, “Actually, if you don’t mind, is it possible for you to hide me here from those suitors for a day or two, Sugai-sama?”

Startled, Yuuka nodded, “Of course. But, you don’t need to call me Sugai-sama. The Sugai family has already fallen out of favor… so it may perhaps be better to not be here.”

“I don’t particularly care what the Emperor thinks. That man has no guts.” Akane reassured Yuuka.

Yuuka had no words. People didn’t insult the Emperor so easily, but she couldn’t protect the Emperor either. Instead, she just followed Tom as he led the way to making dinner and having said dinner. A small nagging feeling bugged Yuuka as she thought about Akane’s name, an intense color for a beautiful woman but also something else.

They ate a plain dinner together at a small table. Tom sat off the side, happily rolling around with fish in his stomach. Yuuka heard not a single complaint from Akane despite their meal being so plebeian, unsuitable for those who belonged to the class that wore glamorous, layered clothes.

Yuuka sighed as she set down her chopsticks with a last word of thanks for the food, “Akane-san, I apologize for the state of our dinner.”

“No, it’s okay. It reminds me of home.” Akane shook her head, smiling at Yuuka. She then joked, “You’re just a little clumsy with cooking.”

“Home, huh.” Yuuka murmured. A few poetic words fluttered through her mind, but her home had already faded around her for home was family.

Akane explained, “I grew up in the countryside with my grandparents.”

“Hm.” Akane’s words sounded familiar to Yuuka, but she couldn’t quite place where she had heard them before.

“Although they always liked to say that I came from a bamboo tree.”


“I guess it’s better than coming from a peach or the stars.”

“Wait? Akane-san, you’re… Akane-hime!?” Yuuka finally came to the realization as to who Akane was. She was a beauty from an unknown family who had been so sought after by the upper class,  courted intensely, that she had even caught the eyes of the Emperor. She had even been given an honorary title of princess.

“Don’t get me started on people who call me that.” Akane pouted, “I’m just a normal girl.”

Yuuka could understand that living in the part of society ruled by court and polite society rules around the Emperor was stifling and unrewarding at times. She still couldn’t help but say, “Well, you are pretty.”

Akane giggled, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“But those nobles and even the Emperor who said things like that. They’re a bunch of shallow little jerks. I give them a task, but they come back with fakes.”

“I suppose that’s how it is.”

“Yea.” The princess leaned forward toward the scholar and teased, “Hey, Yuuka, would you give me Tom in exchange for my hand in marriage?”


“Tom for me.”

“Sorry, but Tom is part of the Sugai family.” Yuuka replied plainly, “You can become Tom’s other master though. The house is so empty right now.”

The fact that everyone else had been taken away, only herself under house arrest here, saddened Yuuka. Even Akane, her new companion, would definitely leave in a day or two.

Akane consoled Yuuka with a pat on the head, gaining a confused look from Yuuka.

Night fell. Yuuka set out a futon for Akane and let Akane go to sleep. She herself could not yet fall asleep, so she stepped out into the courtyard with the light of dim candles and the moon up in the sky. Tom accompanied the scholarly girl, wrapping around her leg for a moment.

Holding her brush and page in her hand, Yuuka wrote out a quick line.

Suddenly, a voice read out the line on the page, “The moon is beautiful.”

Yuuka turned around in surprise to see Akane still awake, standing behind her. Akane smiled apologetically for surprising Yuuka, and the two exchanged silent words with their eyes.

The two sat down on the porch and looked at the courtyard at night. The fireflies glittered like stars on the ground. The moon reflected in the koi pond, glimmering with the stars. Even the cherry blossoms drifting down seemed like the sky falling.

“Your handwriting is pretty.” Akane pointed to the ink on Yuuka’s page.

Yuuka smiled shyly, staring down at her words, “Thank you.”

“Do you like the moon?”

Yuuka murmured, briefly gazing at Akane, “It’s very beautiful. It… The moon is beautiful, isn’t it.”

“It is.” Akane nodded, “I like the moon a lot.” She extended her arm, hand reaching up for the moon like the monkey reaching into the water’s reflection. She couldn’t reach it.

“Do you want to go to the moon one day?”

“I rather like it here actually.”

Akane stood up and stepped down into the courtyard. She twirled around happily, and the fireflies hovered around her. Her cheeks
held a rosy complexion; perhaps it was from the warmth of spring that lingered even in the night.

Yuuka’s hands moved without her thinking. Her eyes followed Akane’s figure while her heart sang words and phrases that appeared on paper. The girl under house arrest felt that if she closed her eyes a moment too long, Akane would disappear just like the cherry blossoms.

Yuuka said in reply to Akane’s words, “Yea, I like it here too.”

She was sure that they meant different things.

Two days passed like a flowing river. Surely, the time for Akane to leave had come, but Yuuka’s selfishness scolded her and said to take Akane’s hand and keep her in the Sugai estate. Yuuka slapped away that selfishness because she knew that there was little future for the Sugai family.

“This is goodbye.” Akane said sadly at the front gate of the estate, “Let’s meet again.” Her usually strong and energetic voice trickled off at the end of her sentence.

Although Yuuka couldn’t promise such at reunion, she nodded, “Yes, let’s meet again.”

“I don’t really want to leave. Even though I’ve only been freeloading here.”

“You can stay here as long as you want.” In the end, Yuuka’s inner selfishness broke out. “The Sugai household can be your second household. My father would have surely said something like that too.” She hiccuped a little at the thought of the Sugai family head.

“Thank you, but I don’t want to trouble you further.”

“I’ll fight off any suitors you have. Even though I look like this, ink grinders are pretty hard, you know?” Yuuka made a show of rolling up her sleeves.

Akane giggled. It was when Tom came and gave a similar show of strength that Akane finally gave her normal bright smile and said, “Then, I’ll be in your care for a while more. I might never leave, you know?”

“That’s fine too.” Yuuka clumsily cheered and hugged Akane.

In the middle of the hug, Yuuka realized that Akane smelled very nice and felt very nice to hold. Even if she wanted to part, Yuuka was stuck in the embrace by Akane’s strong arms, and she worried to herself if Akane could hear her heartbeat racing.

The cherry blossoms finished for the year, their short two weeks ending. Yet, when Yuuka woke up in the morning, she found her lonely life changed. Next to her futon, she would find Akane who had claimed that she felt more at ease sleeping with others due to her childhood in a relatively small house.

They had grown incredibly close, Yuuka clinging to Akane’s warmth.

Hearing the chirping of the songbirds, Yuuka opened her eyes one morning, feeling a weight atop of her. She blinked away the lingering pieces of sleepiness and found Akane on top of her.

Yuuka turned red, heart suddenly racing, overly self-conscious of Akane who appeared to be still asleep, the placement of Akane’s leg between her own legs, and the way that Akane’s arms pinned her down. Yuuka internally chanted sutras to herself to calm down, and she cried out silently as she saw Tom exit the room with a judging look that seemed to accuse them of being too bold so early in the morning.

“I… hate…” Akane murmured in her sleep. “The Emperor…”

The scholar pinned underneath wondered what the princess was dreaming about. Soon enough, she heard Akane mumbling about beauty foods and shoes, the dream topic seemingly changing until Akane stopped sleep talking.

Feeling overwhelmed, Yuuka tried to shake Akane lightly and wake her up.

Akane woke up with blurry eyes, not all coherent yet. Seeing Yuuka underneath her, Akane tightened her hold on Yuuka and gave Yuuka a kiss.

“...I love you.” Akane said as if about to cry.

Yuuka felt her breathing stop for a moment. Although Akane only gave her a quick kiss, Yuuka could still feel the sensation of Akane’s lips on her own. They were soft.

Even though they shouldn’t have, even though they should have kept their heads above the sea of inappropriate acts in the morning, Yuuka kissed Akane again, “I love you too.” She threw away the last bits of self-control holding herself back.

By the time they got out of bed, it was noon. Their clothes were thrown to the side. Yuuka softly breathed in the scent of Akane’s hair as they embraced. Akane really was beautiful, and Yuuka had been dyed madder red. She could understand the suitors who chased after the princess in her arms.

She wanted to apologize. Hearing Tom’s resigned footsteps at the two women who he had accepted as his masters, Yuuka opened her mouth.

Akane spoke first, “I’m sorry for making you do this…” Her heart sounded loud with guilt for trying to seduce the scholar in the morning.

Yuuka quickly retorted, “No, I should be the one apologizing for… dirtying you like this.”

“Don’t apologize.” Akane shook her head and peered into Yuuka’s eyes, “...I really have fallen in love with you, Yuuka.”

Akane’s fingers intertwined with Yuuka’s. Perhaps, Akane felt a red string of fate looped around their pinkies, tying them together. Yuuka wished that she could see it, or at least, she desperately turned her ears away from her heart’s whispers that words of love were as ephemeral as the faded red of cherry blossoms.

She fell  in love with the warmth beside her.

Even if she couldn’t tell lies apart from truth, she chose to think that their moment together was truth.

They didn’t talk about their lust filled morning again. Soon enough, the heat of late spring and early summer settled into the estate. Flowers began to bloom on the branches of a tree leaning in from the wall of the courtyard.

At this time, the youthful scholars and noble young people would be gathering and creating poetry and music. Yuuka reminiscenced on the year before where the daughter of the Nagahama clan had almost fallen into the lake where a gathering had taken place only to be saved by a quiet youth of the Hirate clan. Yet now, all she could do was look at the lonely flowered branch and move her brush.

A poem from the land of the setting sun, a large kingdom that her own home had connections to, came to mind as Yuuka looked at the flowers. Before she could finish reciting the Chinese characters in her mind, the scholar found Akane come up from behind.

Akane placed her chin on Yuuka’s shoulder, “Aren’t those flowers beautiful?”

“Yes, they are.” Yuuka nodded. The romantic inside of her mumbled that the blossoms were not as beautiful as the woman beside her.

Akane took those words and walked toward the branch of flowers. Using the slowly deteriorating wall as steps, she climbed up a little to the worry of Yuuka and gracefully plucked a flower from the branch. Hopping down with the flower in her hand, Akane smiled widely.

“You worried me, suddenly scaling the wall.” Yuuka let out a sigh of relief as she saw Akane return to her side.

Giving a sheepish apology, Akane tucked the flower into Yuuka’s hair, “I just thought that this would look beautiful with you.”

Yuuka blushed. She felt Akane’s cool hands gently adjust the flower and her hair. It was her face that had become warm rather than Akane’s hands that had become cold.

The flower pulled from its living branches wilted away without a sound, unnoticed. Festival goers played music in the streets for summer had come. Even joyous shouts for prosperity could be heard from the common people as the Emperor’s carriage passed by.
Yuuka and Akane sat in the courtyard, looking at the stars and the moon in the night sky. Beside them sat a bowl of chilled fruit. Tom entertained himself away from the couple, petting the koi fish in the pond.

“Do you not want to go enjoy the festival?” Yuuka glanced toward Akane, “The food and shows are a once a year pleasure.”

Akane replied as if her words were obvious, “You aren’t going.”

“I’m under house arrest after all. That his Majesty allowed me to live this long so peacefully here is already too kind.” Yuuka placed her hand on Akane’s.

“Don’t say that.” Akane scowled. “I want to stay with you. I’ll freeload here for eternity. A man like him doesn’t deserve the life of someone like you.”

“Rude as always about him.”

Akane laughed, “You’re using the same rude pronoun.” Some parts of her rubbed off on Yuuka just as parts of Yuuka rubbed off on her.

Throughout their time together, Akane had revealed to Yuuka why she hated the Emperor so much. There was his arrogance, his inner palace, his politics, his casual disregard for human life, his uselessness, and his ideas that women belonged to him because he was descended from a god. Akane added another reason onto her list, that Yuuka’s life was in his hands.

In this courtyard together, they could temporarily forget about the world. This courtyard was their own paradise together.

“I’m okay with you freeloading forever though.” Yuuka spoke lightly, “Rather, this has already become your home.”

“Eh?” Akane paused.

Yuuka didn’t continue to elaborate. “You’ve got some juice on your lips.” Instead, she casually licked the corner of Akane’s mouth.

They turned away from each other, blushing in the dimness of the night. Yet, their fingers didn’t dare to part. Tom swatted the koi fish that had come to close, causing the reflection of the moon in the pond to break apart.

Eventually the time came for the warmth that Yuuka could barely tell apart from the chilling truth to end. On a night without the moon, the orb in the sky having shrunk into a crescent and then into darkness across the days, Akane stayed outside, looking upward rather than to go to sleep.

Yuuka joined Akane on the wooden porch with an uneasy feeling.

Suddenly, Yuuka felt her eyes blinded by a bright light. When she managed to pry open her eyelids, she spotted a celestial being holding a white furred, red-eyed rabbit, a veil like the moon covering the being’s face. That entity ignored Yuuka but exchanged glances with Akane.

Yuuka’s heart dropped as she saw Akane’s expression.

“I have to go back to the moon.” Akane whispered, turning her eyes away from Yuuka, taking a tiny step toward the moon’s messenger. “I’m sorry.”

Yuuka shook her head and tried to smile, “Thank you for letting me live a happy illusion up until now.”

“No-” Akane stumbled in her step. She twisted to face Yuuka with a desperate cry that she was misunderstood.

“Princess, do not linger any longer on this impure Earth. You must return to the moon.” The messenger interrupted sternly.

Yuuka tried to ignore the messenger. “You don’t need to say anything because I was aware from the very start.” Yuuka shook her head again toward Akane, her voice cracking as she tried to convince herself that everything was okay. “Was this lowly servant’s body able to satisfy you, Akane-hime?”

“…” Akane choked.

“I really loved you.”

Even though she was a simple scholar who could not compose even a single line of a masterful poem, even though her family had already fallen to disaster as a clan of traitors, Yuuka’s heart gave itself away to Akane. Yuuka was glad that she could fall in love before waiting for a final execution.

“I love you. Why don’t you understand that?” Nearly shouting, Akane grabbed onto Yuuka’s wrist and tried to kiss Yuuka, “I won’t touch people that I don’t love…”

The messenger seemed disgusted by the pair’s physical intimacy so foreign to the sterility of the moon. The being tried to call again to the princess but was quickly ignored.

Yuuka faced away silently.

The messenger tried to speak again, “Princes-”

“Leave.” Akane spat out furiously, sending a glare toward the moon’s messenger. “I won’t return to the moon tonight regardless.”

Backing away, the messenger spoke quietly with the rabbit and retreated, leaving the courtyard to just Yuuka and Akane again.

“Yuuka.” Akane called out.

Yuuka lightly shook her arm, removing Akane’s hand from her wrist. To the scholar’s surprise, Akane let go. Yuuka didn’t face Akane but she said quietly, “You don’t need to lie. You can go home if you want. I was happy to have been able to love you.”

“I’m sorry for being too greedy… hic… I’m sorry that I just do what I want… hic. Please don’t hate me. I knew… hic… I shouldn’t have tried to take advantage of you.”

The scholar whipped around and denied, “I was the one who took advantage of you.” Her heart screamed in agony at Akane’s tears, the usually strong princess broken down.

“Can we j-just continue living our idle happy days together?” Akane rubbed her eyes as if it would stop the tears but only made them puffier and red. “Is it so bad that I want to stay here with you? This is home.”

Yuuka knew that she had gone mad long ago. She could no longer convince herself with insecurities but breathed clearer with the reaffirmation of a mutual affection.

A bit unsure if she still had the right to do so, Yuuka embraced Akane and murmured, “Akane looks the prettiest when she’s smiling.”

Finishing up a simple yet delicious lunch made by Akane, Yuuka and Akane walked throughout the compound, strolling about. They passed through another courtyard that had fallen into disrepair.

Akane entered the garden of that courtyard and looked around at the flowers in full bloom still despite the lack of servants caring for the plants.

Yuuka followed after Akane, and she stopped under the shade of a large pear tree that was in the middle of bearing fruit. Placing her hand on the bark, she noticed a swing on the other side of the tree.

The swing had been something that her father had the head steward install. Though the children of the Sugai family originally played on it, when they had gotten bored of it, Yuuka’s mother had taken to sitting on it to watch the children laugh while Yuuka’s father stood behind her mother.

Yuuka took a seat on the swing, seeing that it was still usable.

“Yuuka, are you tired?” Akane inquired upon seeing Yuuka sitting.

Yuuka answered, “No, I just wanted to sit on this. It’s nostalgic.”

“A swing?”


Akane asked, going behind Yuuka, “Would you like me to push you?”

Yuuka laughed like a child as she flew up into the air on the swing and Akane pushed. A split second anxiety brushed her mind that she would crash into Akane going down, but luckily, her princess had the common sense to move.

Tom meowed, bathing in the sun as he drowned out the cheerful noises of his two masters.

The Emperor’s decree came roaring down like the executioner’s blade. In the middle of afternoon tea, the Emperor’s men broke into the Sugai estate. The paper of the sliding door was torn apart. Marching intimidatingly, they entered the room to find Yuuka conversing with Akane, an official halting in surprise at the beauty beside the scholar.

The lead official of the squad read out from a scroll to Yuuka, “The Emperor has decreed for you to become an example for the traitors within the court.”

Yuuka set down her cup. Even though she was shaking, her heart resigned itself to a calmness of death, so she nodded, “I see.” Glancing toward Akane, Yuuka smiled apologetically, unable to word out anything in response to Akane’s grim expression.

The Emperor’s men pulled Yuuka harshly to her feet and grabbed onto her arms with vice-like grips, dragging her away. They peeked at Akane but quickly looked away.

“You will be escorted to await your punishment.” The lead official stated primly, “Be thankful that his Majesty has given you this time before the judgement you should have received.”

Akane rose to her feet, calling out to the people taking Yuuka away, “Wait.”

She was ignored, and Yuuka was quickly being forced away toward the exit, leaving the place that they had spent so much time together in. Akane chased after Yuuka and shouted for the Emperor’s men to stop again.

The lead official walked toward Akane and told the princess, “Akane-hime, do not worry. We will be taking this criminal away.”

“If you wish, the Emperor will receive you any time, princess.” Another official spoke up. “Please stay back as to not get involved with this traitor Sugai.”

Akane bit her lower lip in frustration.

“Please don’t get involved any further, Akane. Thank you.” Yuuka called out to Akane, twisting back to see the face of the person she wished she could spend her life with.

The people holding Yuuka scowled and roughly pushed her, giving her a punch in the face to shut her up, causing her lip to start bleeding. Yet, Yuuka didn’t let out a sound, only a glare toward them.

Akane barked out, “Stop.”

The lead official gestured for the men to halt in their actions, only letting them grip Yuuka’s arms to the point of bruising. He nodded at the serious tone in Akane’s voice.

As the Emperor had already spent much effort into courting the moon princess,  even legitimately dispatching people to China to find the fire rat’s legendary robe, and the Emperor had spoke of his willingness to trade anything reasonable for Akane’s hand, the official knew that he would be in trouble if the Emperor knew of Akane-hime’s presence at the Sugai estate and if the official did nothing to try to promote his lord. Those expeditioners died, but he preferred to keep his own neck.

“Spare Yuuka’s life.” Akane spoke slowly, “And I’ll marry… his Majesty.” Enunciating every word so that she could not be misunderstood, she wanted to gag at the idea of being with the Emperor. Yet, she was willing to sacrifice a small thing for a greater selfish desire.

“No-” Yuuka objected, only to be jolted violently.

They had already reached the exit of the compound. Yuuka thought to herself that this was how her short happiness would end, parting at the same place that she had first met Akane.

Out of the corner of her eye, Yuuka spotted the ceremonial sword from long ago that she had tried to attack a mysterious intruder with. It was still in the same place that it had been haphazardly thrown to, and that intruder had been Akane. Yuuka could no longer waver back and forth before picking up her courage to fight.

Her mind went blank, choosing not to hear anymore talking about marrying the Emperor. Smashing her shoulder into one of the people holding her, Yuuka tore her arm away from the other, ripping herself free. She fell to the ground with the way she tried to escape, but she wasn’t trying to escape.

Instead, she scrambled to grab the weapon.

“I can’t accept that!” Yuuka cried out. She found herself unable to get the sword, a heavy foot coming down on her fingers as she was more firmly captured this time. Choking, Yuuka reached for Akane, “Akane!”

Yuuka saw as familiar fingers picked up the sword. She looked upward with all she could to look at Akane’s face as the Emperor’s men tried to push the scholar into the ground to stop her from struggling more.
“I’m sorry, Yuuka.” Akane mouthed, ‘I love you.’

A harsh pain hit Yuuka, an impact to the back of her head. Everything went black, and she could no longer see the beautiful madder red. And yet she could imagine the glistening of tears dripping away nonetheless. Perhaps she was the one crying.

The prison cell felt cold. Yuuka shook her head and paced about. She had recovered from her injuries, but not once again had she been able to meet Akane. This cell that she was held in was more like a room than a prison. Again Yuuka was under house arrest.
Given good food, good water, good sanitation, even soft bedding and a desk with materials to write with, Yuuka should have felt cold at all.

At night, flower petals fluttered into the cage-room. Yuuka took a deep breath, holding paper and a brush in hand, and she gazed at the full moon. She wrote a meaningless sentence. Then she wrote another.

“The moon is beautiful tonight, isn’t it?” The scholar murmured aloud to no one.

No matter how well she calligraphed her strokes, there was no one to read them. For some reason, the ink seemed to leak down and blur, but she had already run out of tears.

By morning, the moon had left, and the sun came up.

Yuuka heard the sound of impatient footsteps coming closer to where she was staying. She nearly jumped in surprise when the visitor came into site.

It was a young man with sharp features wearing elegant clothing. Rather than just that, her visitor was the Emperor. At first glance, he appeared handsome, the work of many generations of the Fujiwara family. Yet, his expression seemed severe and upset. His advisor behind him appeared to fade into the shadows.

Without a preface, he barked at Yuuka, “What did you do to her?”

Yuuka was taken aback. “What do you mean by that?” The female that the Emperor spoke of was Akane, but Yuuka hadn’t received a single word on Akane since she had been taken away.

“Why is it that you are so special in her eyes, Sugai?” The Emperor’s voice seemed to almost crack.

Yuuka stayed silent.

“We should just kill you here.” He grumbled.

Although afraid of death, Yuuka ignored her shaking hands and spoke boldly against the Emperor. “If you can make her happy.” She gripped her hands into fists and stopped shaking.  “Then kill me as many times as you want.”

Seeing her resolve, the Emperor folded his arms, “As if we would. At the very least, we will fulfill this request of hers.” He looked at Yuuka as if she was stupid.
Yuuka glanced away.

The Emperor’s advisor handed the emperor a small box. He took the box and threw it at Yuuka’s feet.

Stating regally, he told the scholar, “Go. Disappear from this court. The Sugai family is no more. We bestow a scholar the main section of the former estate and lock away the rest.” In other words, he was letting Yuuka go but forcibly erasing the existence of the Sugai family. “You have no more relationship to any of us.”

Yuuka didn’t pick up the box.

The Emperor walked away with a smirk, “Never set foot in the heart of the capital proper again.”

The Emperor’s advisor paused to tell Yuuka, “You will be escorted home tonight.” Then, the advisor left as well.

On that night, rain fell fiercely, the sky covered by clouds. Yuuka returned home with nothing having come with nothing, but she lost something that she could never replace. At the entrance of her home, she saw guards stationed there to keep her locked in.

Walking inside, nothing seemed to have changed. Tom, still alive but a little skinnier, came up to his master, eyes darting about for his other master, and rubbed against her as she curled up into a ball on the floor.

Akane pushed aside the servants, storming ahead in a multi-layered kimono. After seeing that smirk on the Emperor’s face and his declaration that she could see where Yuuka had been kept, she immediately headed toward that area.

When she arrived at the room, she found people already cleaning up and throwing away the signs of a prisoner ever being there. Seeing papers being discarded, Akane hastily grabbed one and held it close to prevent it from disappearing.

She felt alone here.

Behind her, she heard the sound of footsteps. The servants all stopped in their work and bowed in respect. The Emperor arrived.
Akane refused to bow to him.

The Emperor took the paper out of Akane’s hand. “Why don’t you throw away that scrap in your hands?”

“Give that back.” Akane tried to retrieve it, but he held it above her head.

“It’s a poem?” He shrugged, looking at the contents of the paper, “We will admit that the scholar has pleasant handwriting.”

“Her words aren’t for your eyes.”

“Nor are they for yours. You will be our consort, and she will live in a separate world.” The Emperor embraced Akane, but she didn’t fight back, staring at him hatefully resigned like a doll.

He kissed her, his rough lips brushing against her. Objectively, as the Emperor, his skin was smooth as were his lips, but Akane could feel nothing but disgust, seeing his possessive eyes.

The paper fell to the side.

Yuuka woke up in the morning feeling cold. When she looked out to the courtyard, there was snow falling like flower petals from the sky. The flowering trees were however flowerless, bare with only the white of winter as decoration.

She once more felt herself used to being alone.

She was informed that a visitor had come. A small spark in her heart wished the visitor to be Akane, but the most she could ever see Akane again would be if the Imperial carriage passed by her home. She hated the idea of Akane belonging to the Emperor and had lost many nights of sleep.

Instead of just one visitor, a pair had come. Yuuka invited them in.

After the destruction of the Sugai household, Yuuka had been put under house arrest again, but people were allowed to visit. Although still considerably dangerous to associate with someone from a traitor’s family, even when the family was gone, the Hirate and Nagahama youngsters who Yuuka had met and chatted with at gatherings before came to visit as friends frequently.

“Neru, Yurina, I’ll brew some tea for you.” Yuuka let them sit down and went to prepare tea for her guests.

They chatted about meaningless topics for a while such as poetry or the instrumental skills of the noble girls around the capital. This was their usual preface to the darker side of their conversations.

“You likely know already, but the Emperor still has not announced his marriage with Akane-hime.” Hirate Yurina spoke.

Yuuka nodded. Over half a year had passed since Akane exchanged her marriage for Yuuka’s life, but the Emperor had since not made any outright moves.

“His uncle is trying to push a consort, the Emperor’s cousin, onto the Emperor.” Neru took a sip of tea, giving a theory as to why the marriage had not been fixed. “It seems that there is some disagreement in the back.”

Yurina quickly reassured Yuuka upon seeing the scholar’s worried look, “If you worry that Akane-hime will get caught in the crossfire, you shouldn’t worry too much. The Emperor takes great care to keep her isolated and protected from others, be that good or bad news.”

“Thank you.” Yuuka weakly smiled, “I just don’t know how to feel when they do get married.”

Yurina and Neru couldn’t give Yuuka empty words to believe that the Emperor and the moon princess would not get married.

“If he dies, then they won’t get married.” Yurina said lightly.

Yuuka smiled wryly, “Are you planning treason?”

The Hirate clan was a vassal clan to the ruling family of the Fujiwara, and they had intermarried with their ruling clan before, Yurina being third cousins with the Emperor. Yet, a great divide had formed between the clans, causing rumors of planned insurrection to build in the recent years.

“You didn’t hear those words from this mouth of mine.” Yurina fiddled with her short hair and gave a cheeky smile.

“Who knows.” Neru laughed.

On the other hand, the Nagahama clan was a strong military family of loyalists, loyal to the crown and the Fujiwara clan. Neru seemed to be an outlier.

They changed topics, returning to the more light-hearted side of conversation. The tea had gone cold, but no one cared to drink anymore. The Hirate and Nagahama pair left as the sun went down, promising to meet with Yuuka again.

Although the snow began to melt, Yuuka fell ill with fever. Sweating profusely, feeling a burning heat matched with a freezing chill, she could barely get water to drink. Preparing food was unlikely to go well.

She heard visitors come in worriedly and tuck her into bed and take care of her.

Bedridden, Yuuka’s brain dreamed of happier days. A cool towel was pressed onto her forehead, and porridge was made. The porridge was tasteless, nothing like what Akane made, being the porridge of Yuuka’s two friends.

Tom sat as a pile of warmth on Yuuka’s feet, meowing for her not to die.

Her sight was blurry. In truth, she could make out the panicked faces of Yurina and Neru, but there was someone else she wanted to see.

“...please freeload here… forever...“ Blinking away tears, Yuuka mumbled, “Akane, don’t leave.”

Yuuka fell unconscious, struggling to breathe. Her body burned, gasping for air. She could vaguely hear a cat’s crying and shouting to quickly go find a doctor to treat her. She ignored all that as she chased painfully after a dream in a dream.

Her friends watching could do nothing to help.

By the time the doctor came, Yuuka’s body calmed down a little, allowing him to do a check-up. The doctor’s diagnosis was that Yuuka’s body had suffered too much stress in the recent months, hurting her ability to fight off sickness. He prescribed some medicine and advised Yurina and Neru on how to take care of a sick person.

After the doctor left, Yurina and Neru stayed to watch over Yuuka.

“Yuuka is really…” Yurina spoke to Neru. “A precious person.”

Neru berated herself, “To think that we first came to talk to her because we’re a pair of traitors against the royal family.”

Tom swished his tail and gave a look toward the pair. He had already accepted that they were a part of his master’s circle of humans, so he was making sure that no one else left while they waited for his master’s other half.

When the first sprouts of spring popped up in the hard ground, Yuuka coughed, choking, not because of a lingering sickness but because of a shocking piece of a news. Various testimonies on the event popped up around the capital, and Neru was recounting them to Yuuka.

Apparently, Akane killed someone with a ceremonial sword. After silence for months on the activities of the moon princess, she did an outrageous deed.

Some said that the princess was mad. Some said that she had stopped an assassin that was trying to kill her beloved Emperor. Some said that she was being framed for a crime.

When Neru described the supposed appearance of the sword, Yuuka couldn’t help but pause in wonder.

Yuuka whispered under her breath, “...isn’t that my family’s sword?” She was glad that Akane kept it at least.

In the next moment, Yurina entered the room, panting as if having rushed to deliver a piece of news. Taking a second to catch her breath, the short haired girl blurted out, “Akane-hime killed the head of the Fujiwara clan.”

The room froze.

The head of the clan wasn’t the Emperor, but he was practically the puppeteer of the Emperor. Though the Fujiwara clan was the ruling clan, it was a separate entity from the Emperor on technicality.

Neru shook her head and asked for a repeat, unsure if she heard that correctly. She heard it correctly the first time.

“Also, there’s other news.” Yurina frowned. “The Emperor has announced that Akane-hime will be crowned Empress tomorrow.”

Sitting in the courtyard, watching the cherry blossoms bloom, Yuuka sipped a bitter white wine. There was no moon in the sky. Her emotions in turmoil, she gazed at the courtyard.

The scholar noticed a white rabbit with red eyes. She wondered where it came from but simply watched the rabbit bounce around the courtyard.

The rabbit approached Yuuka and turned into a girl, a goddess from the moon. The rabbit-goddess caused the container of wine to spill onto the grass and took the cup out of Yuuka’s hand. Dipping a tongue into the wine, the goddess made a face of disgust and threw the cup away.

“The princess is not by your side.” The goddess observed as if scolding Yuuka. Then, the goddess declared, “She will be taken back to the moon.”

Yuuka choked out in shock, “I don’t want that.”

“Don’t worry. You will be able to see her beauty all you want from the Earth as you look up at the moon.”

“Even if I were blind, I wouldn’t want her to go to the moon.”
“Then, do you wish to touch her body, you lustful human?”

“I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy being with her like that, but even if I lost all my sense of touch, I wouldn’t want that.”

“You speak pretty words.” The goddess praised Yuuka as someone who only talked and never did anything. “Then, what do you want?”

“I just want to be by her side.”

Soon after the Emperor crowned the Empress, he announced that Akane-hime belonged to the royalty of the gods of the moon and had no choice but to return to the celestial object in the sky. Rumors started that the princess gifted him the pill of immortality out of love before she left, and that an expedition of men heading up to burn something on the tallest mountain, the one closest to the moon, had been decided strengthened the people’s beliefs.

In truth, the emissaries from the moon came to retrieve Akane once more. This time, they would not let her stay on the tainted Earth. The Emperor argued back, but he was powerless against the people from the moon.

Akane did not love him. Living with him and feeling his flesh, though he never truly touched her to her relief, she found that the Emperor was a pathetic man. Yet, she was afraid that he would kill Yuuka since leaving for the moon would be tantamount to breaking their pact.

She begged the people of the moon to give the Emperor a pill of immortality. She beseeched of him to never touch Yuuka in exchange for the magic elixir. He agreed emotionlessly.

Akane sat in the carriage flying through the sky, looking out the window.

The beautiful princess saw the cherry blossoms blooming. Spring had arrived, and nearly a year had passed since she first met Yuuka. She wondered if Yuuka was looking up at the sky and if the flowers in their courtyard had blossomed yet.

A handmaiden called out to her, “Princess, there are much more beautiful flowers on the moon.”

Akane ignored the servant. Looking out the window, she found herself crying, the tears falling from the sky like jewels.

The capital burned, lit up red by flames consuming the court and the palace. People frantically tried to put out the blaze, but the red continued fluttering like petals. The noise of swords tinkled like bells amidst the chaos.

Three pairs of footsteps hurried through the halls of the Emperor’s dwelling. They could hear shouts and sounds of slaughter.

Yurina quickly spoke to Yuuka, “Yuuka, you don’t need to be in such a dangerous place.” Even as they ran, Neru, Yurina, and Yuuka,
the former two attempted to shield the latter from the mess of an attempted coup from their faction.

Yuuka shook her head, “I need to talk to the Emperor one last time.”

Yurina nodded. Then, looking to collapsed hall to the side, the short haired girl cursed under her breath, “Tch. It’s escalated way too quickly.”

“This way.” Neru quickly pointed in a safer looking direction to the place they expected the Emperor to be escaping from. “If we’re too late, he might be already killed.”

The three girls ran. As they had predicted, the Emperor was attempting an escape through a hidden back entrance of his palace. Aided by an eunuch, he was injured by an arrow to the shoulder.

Upon seeing the girls, the eunuch fled.

The Emperor barked out a laugh, “I see. You’ve come to take my life.”

“No, I’m here to talk.” Yuuka stepped toward the Emperor, signalling for her friends to stand back. She noticed the Emperor holding a sheathed sword.

“There’s no meaning to talking anymore.”

“What difference does it make for you to speak a few more sentences?”

“A world of differences. They say that a flap of a butterfly’s wing can cause the world to change. If she had never met you, perhaps things would have been different.” The Emperor spoke so melancholically that Yuuka had nothing to say. Seeing her troubled expression, he threw the sword to her feet. “This is your sword that she used to kill the Fujiwara head.”

“I see.” Yuuka nodded. She picked up the sword and took a little bit of it out of the sheath to check the condition. The sword had been cleaned and sharpened.

“Kill me with it.”

“That’s not what I’m here for.”

“Then I’ll kill myself with it.”

“I don’t particularly care what you do with your life, but before that, let’s talk.”

“I’ve already said that I have nothing to talk about. You wish to talk about Akane, do you not?” The Emperor sighed.

Yuuka nodded.

“Why don’t you take this pill and ascend to the moon like Chang’e then?” The Emperor threw a package wrapped in paper to Yuuka. Speaking lowly, he laughed, “Maybe then she’ll smile for me once.”

“Thank you.” Yuuka passed the sword back to the Emperor.

She turned her back away as she saw the image of the Emperor committing suicide reflected in the eyes of her friends. Opening up the paper package for a moment, she saw that the paper was one that she had used in her short arrest to write on and that there was indeed a pill inside.

Akane heard a sound from the front of her extravagant new house on the moon. She had chased away all of the people who she could, but the moon’s denizens kept a careful watch over her to prevent her from escaping. They knew of her longing for the Earth.

Sluggishly heading toward the entrance, Akane wondered what sort of wild animal got in. She hoped that it wasn’t a rabbit. There were basically only rabbits on the moon, and she was so sick of them.

What she saw wasn’t an animal but rather an intruder, a human.

Akane halted in her footsteps.

The intruder rubbed her shoulder in pain, having climbed over the wall and landed on her shoulder in a bush. The intruder had a few leaves stuck in her hair, but when she noticed Akane, she couldn’t help but give the biggest teary smile.

The moon princess asked disbelievingly, “Yuuka?”

“A-Akane!” Yuuka sniffled and ran to Akane.

Akane squeezed Yuuka tightly in a hug and laughed while crying tears of happiness, “You’re pretty bad at climbing walls.”

Yuuka nodded and cried, “Let’s go home.”

Yuuka took Akane’s hand. It was warm. Holding hands, they started on an adventure to go home, to go back to Tom and enjoy the flowers peacefully and to grow old together happily and healthily.

The moon gazed fondly upon them.

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