|After All This Time
Author: Marie Hawkins PM
"The way that he acted like a lost, scared puppy was… weird. But in a good way. Of course, he'd have to fix that, because boys weren't supposed to act that way... Maybe she should stick around." Expanded moment one-shot that will hopefully evolve into a multi-shot... takes place pre-Program.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Drama - Takako C. & Hiroki S. - Words: 2,662 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 12-02-12 - id: 8759173
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A\N: Well, I'm several years late, but I've gotten my hands on (basically) all the Battle Royale media I could. I actually just finished the novel yesterday (I thought it was basically too beautiful for words). There was one thing about the novel in particular, though, that didn't really stick out to me in the movie or film- and that would be Takako and Sugimura's friendship. I feel like I got a better feel for their relationship and interactions as best friends in the novel than I did anywhere else. And their relationship really touched me. Not because there was anything extraordinary or super-special about it. And I think that's why I liked it so much. It was natural. It was totally relate-able, especially for me. And, well, since I'd been dying to fic about BR (but didn't know what to write) I was really grateful I got this inspiration C:
This is intended to be a "time lapse multi-shot" story (if that makes ANY sense to you, good. It makes sense in my head, so Imma leave it!) Depending on how busy I get (and how motivated I remain) it may or may not just remain a one-shot. But anyways, thanks in advance for stopping by! Leave me some feedback, perhaps?
It was a slightly rainy afternoon, and Takako slightly dragged her feet across the wet sidewalk as she began her long trek home. Her mind was on lots of things. What she would eat for a snack when she got home, how her dog's new puppies were doing, whether or not she would be able to …
Raised voices made her snap out of her own thoughts. Takako stopped walking, looking around for the source of the noise. She couldn't see who was talking- actually, they were yelling- but she could tell it was a boy. She sighed, intending to continue walking, but as she rounded the street corner, she found the boys that were making all the racket.
They appeared to be a little older than she, maybe in the fourth grade. There were three of them, and they were circled around something- or someone- but Takako couldn't quite tell who or what it was. She stopped again, unsure of whether she should step in.
"-It's not even like you can read that well anyway," She heard one of the tallest boy in the group say. "I'll put it to better use than you."
"Look, he's crying," one of the other boys piped up, in a mocking tone of voice. He had lots of freckles. "Is that all they teach wimps like you to do in the second grade? Cry?" He laughed and the other boys joined in.
Takako took a timid step forward. She didn't know who the boys were teasing, but the situation was kind of getting on her nerves. She couldn't stand bullies, and she had even less of a tolerance for mean boys. She placed one hand on her hip- kind of like her mom did when she was mad about something- and called out:
"Hey! Leave him alone!"
The boys turned at the sound of her voice, but they were clearly undaunted by her presence. They made Takako feel a little uneasy, but she didn't back down. She lowered her eyebrows at them, hoping that they would just decide to leave.
"Looks like his girlfriend has shown up to save the day," the tall boy said, still laughing.
"Nah," said the one that had been silent until now. "He wouldn't have a girlfriend, he's probably still afraid of cooties."
"Yeah don't kid yourself. It's probably just his sister or something. C'mon," said the freckled boy, turning to his companions. "Let's go. If this punk cries any louder, his mom might come running, and we'll have to give it back."
The three older boys grinned rudely at Takako, and gave rough parting shoves to the person they'd circled earlier (Takako still couldn't make out who it was). The tall boy shoved so hard, the kid fell to the ground, a soft 'oof' escaping his lips. He made no attempt to get up. With that, the group of boys disappeared down the street. Takako walked up to the boy who was sitting on the wet pavement and offered him her hand. He looked up at her.
When their eyes met, Takako realized he looked familiar. He was from her class… or at least her school. She'd definitely seen him around. That meant he was close to her age.
He looked pitiful. His hair was damp from the rain, and clinging to his slightly rounded face. He had a morose expression on his face, his eyebrows twisted upwards. His big, bright eyes were indeed brimming with tears, and lots of them had already spilled down his cheeks, mixing in with the rain that dampened his skin. He accepted her hand and stood, but still remained silent.
"Why were those jerks picking on you?" she asked, stepping closer so he could stand under her umbrella, too. She was taller than he was, so her slightly large umbrella easily accommodated the both of them.
"They wanted to read my comic book," he said softly, looking down at the ground. "I didn't want to give it to them, but they took it anyway."
That's it? Takako couldn't help but think. She had always suspected that boys fought over stupid things, but nothing that stupid. And why the heck was this kid crying about it? Sure, those boys were jerks, but things could have ended up a lot worse. It wasn't like they punched him- at least, not as far as she could tell. The kid hadn't even really tried to fight back. He just… stood there. Stood there and took it all. But, in the end, what really bothered her most about the whole situation was his tears.
"Come on," she said, groaning a little. The boy looked up from the ground, his eyes slightly widened with surprise. "Boys don't cry," she said bluntly. She figured that was why his tears were bothering her. Boys weren't supposed to cry. The really tough ones never did. "Don't be such a wuss, be strong," she realized her words were kind of harsh, but she meant them in a kind way. After all, it was just a stupid comic book, wasn't it? Surely a boy didn't need to be this upset about losing something so simple. She only hoped she'd used the right tone of voice. She was never very eloquent when it came to talking to others. In fact, the only person who always seemed to understand her was Kahoru Kitazawa, the only girl in her class that she'd managed to make friends with. However, judging by the boy's expression, she had delivered them the way she had intended. Or at least, he understood her underlying meaning. He seemed less shocked, but hadn't quite cheered up yet. She wasn't really sure what else to say. She just knew she needed to get this boy to stop crying. It made her… sad? Was she sad to see him cry like that? No, she was sure it just annoyed her more than anything. Boys don't cry.
"Our dog just had puppies," she said, changing the subject. Maybe if she got his mind off of those jerks, he could cheer up a little easier. "Wanna come see?" The boy was silent for a moment more, but her invitation had the desired effect. He quickly brushed the tears off of his cheeks and rubbed his eyes. He gave Takako a small smile.
"Okay," he said, after a pause.
Takako walked with the boy down the street to her house. They were silent at first, letting the slight rain fill the silence between them. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence. Takako found it to be kind of nice. She already felt comfortable around this boy she barely knew. It was nice. Takako had never really been one to go out of her way to make friends with new people, and she didn't think this instance was an exception. She'd just happened to run into this boy who needed her help and she gave it. She hadn't really expected things to go further than that. Once the problem was sorted out, she had assumed that the two of them would have continued on with their lives. Now, however, she couldn't help but think that since she was already comfortable with him, they could- perhaps- become good friends. It wasn't as though she had an overabundance of friends anyway. Most days it was just her and Kahoru against the world.
"I'm Takako, by the way," she found herself saying. "Takako Chigusa."
"Hiroki Sugimura," the boy said softly.
Sugimura. She'd never recalled hearing the name before, which meant that he wasn't in her class. They probably just went to the same school. She knew she'd seen him somewhere before.
They approached Takako's house, just as the rain was beginning to disappear. Takako bounded up the front steps of her house to the safety of her porch. She collapsed her umbrella, shaking it slightly to remove the drops of rain, before she set it down by her front door. She noticed that Sugimura wasn't by her side. She glanced behind her. He was hesitantly waiting at the stairs, looking slightly bashful.
"You'll never see the puppies if you wait at the bottom of the stairs," she said, grinning a little. She walked down the stairs and grabbed Hiroki by the hand, gently leading him along. "Come on." She led him through her house, stopping only in the doorway to the kitchen as her mother called out to her.
"What are you up to Taka?" she asked, looking up from the book she was reading to her younger daughter, Ayoko.
"I brought Hiroki to look at the puppies," she said, a little more excitement in her voice than she had intended to convey. She gently tugged Hiroki forward so that he fell into her mother's line of sight. Sugimura stiffened slightly, bringing his left index finger up to the bridge of his nose by his eye. He tapped nervously.
"Nice to meet you," she said softly. Takako's mother smiled.
"Make sure you're not too loud around the puppies. And don't take them out of their box, Taka," her mother said kindly.
"Uh-huh," Takako said, barely letting her mother finish her sentence before leading Hiroki along once more. She led him up the stairs into her parent's bathroom. Her father had fashioned a box of sorts for the puppies to stay in. It's frame seemed similar to that of a sandbox, but of course, there was no sand in the box, just six little puppies. She knelt down beside the box and rested her chin against its frame, looking at the small creatures. After a moment of thought, she reached in the box and picked up one of the puppies. She held it softly against her chest, stroking its fur. She turned to Hiroki, who had knelt down beside her.
"Wanna hold it?" she asked, holding it out to him. He glanced toward the door nervously.
"I- I thought we weren't supposed to take them out of their box," he said nervously. Takako laughed a little.
"We're not," she said, "but that's only because my mom's afraid I'll drop one. Since we're sitting down, it's okay." She continued to hold out the puppy to Hiroki. He bit his lip, but reached out and took the small puppy into his arms. He set it down on his thighs, gently petting it. His nervous expression faded away into a smile. She felt slightly accomplished, having cheered the boy up. She crossed her legs and sat facing towards him, petting the dog, too.
"Do you have any pets?" she asked, looking at Hiroki. He shook his head.
"I want one," he said, speaking slowly. "But my mom thinks I should wait until I'm older. She says that pets are a lot of work."
"Yeah," Takako agreed with a sigh. She had to help take care of her family's dog. She took her on walks on Wednesdays, fed her dinner, and bathed her one Saturday a month. It was work, but she never really minded. "My mom says we can't take care of all of these puppies along with our dog. She's letting me keep one puppy, but we have to sell the rest."
"Which one are you going to keep?" Hiroki asked, looking up at Takako. Takako smiled, and gestured to the puppy in Hiroki's lap.
"I want to keep this one," she said. "Her name's Hanako."
"Hanako," Hiroki repeated in a soft whisper. He turned his attention back to the puppy, stroking it tenderly. The two shared a brief, peaceful moment, equally enamored by the small animal. Takako noticed, however, that Hiroki suddenly stiffened, his face growing red. He nervously tried pushing the puppy off of his lap.
"What is it?" she asked, picking up Hanako and putting her back into the box. She turned to face Sugimura, but didn't wait for him to answer. "Oh," she said, biting her lip and holding back a smile. His dark school shorts had a darker stain, right were Hanako had been lying.
"You'd better get home and change," Takako suggested, giggling a little. Hiroki looked a little upset, but he wasn't too upset to shoot her a contemptuous look (which, of course, made her laugh even harder.) "Come on," she said, taking his hand again. "I'll walk you downstairs."
"I can make it back by myself," Hiroki said as they reached Takako's front steps. "I don't live too much farther from here." As Hiroki waved goodbye and began to walk away, Takako's small smile grew. He made me laugh. Not many kids her age were able to make her do that. And the way that he acted like a lost, scared puppy was… weird. But in a good way. Of course, he'd have to fix that, because boys weren't supposed to act that way. In any case, he was a good kid. A nice boy. Someone she was able to connect with, where previously it had only been Kahoru. He wasn't in her class, but it wouldn't hurt to have another friend. Plus, if he lived close by, they could at least walk home together. He needed someone to watch out for him until he learned to do it himself, in any case.
"Hey, Sugimura!" she called before he turned the street corner. Hiroki looked back at her. She paused, not really sure what she wanted to say to him. He waited patiently, his eyes slightly widened and fixed on her with excitement. "The puppies won't be house trained anytime soon, but you're always welcome to come back," she said, finally. He smiled slightly, tapping his nose again. She waited for a response, but he seemed too clammed up to say anything. "I'll wait for you after school tomorrow, then," she said, crossing her arms and smiling at him. "Besides, you'll want me there if those punks show up again." If he always cried like he did today, she didn't doubt they would show up.
He smiled and turned to walk away; Takako just barely heard what he said before he disappeared from sight: