This story is concurrent with the KS timeline, starting a short time before Hisao's arrival at Yamaku, but his interaction will be fairly limited at best. This is a story about two girls, their interactions, and their demons.
And please, don't hesitate to leave a review. I really would be thrilled to hear from somebody for a change.
Chapter 1: Eurydice
It's an odd relief, to put things bluntly as could be. Gates aren't terribly welcoming, and neither is this one, with its far too ceremonial appearance. Wrought iron is a cold and terrifying thing to create anything out of, or at least that's what I'm feeling right now, but there's some kind of strange warmth I can derive out of it as cherry blossoms blew gently about in the light afternoon breeze.
A thought such as "This is home now," perhaps?
It doesn't seem like a gate for any kind of school, but to say that Yamaku Academy is a school unlike any other in Japan is such an understatement that I can't even begin to start picking out what's truly wrong with saying such a thing. Lots of things to fix, I suppose. There has to be a more artistic way to say, or rather, to think that, but I'm just not bothered enough to produce a better method, certainly not in this short walk between gawking and walking onward with an already exhausted father in tow.
"Which would be the girls' dorm?" Dad offers breathlessly, his statement expectedly dull-minded, though I've had far less concern lately over such a teenaged issue, even if I am just newly 15 years old now anyway. It's strange how partial paralysis and extensive nerve damage changes how annoyed you become with your family's habits and awkwardness. I almost forget the courtesy of the answer anyway thanks to these ultimately pointless thoughts.
"Wherever the other mass of girls my age wearing this same pompous uniform as me are, I'd imagine." This stated with a sigh.
I expect a slight reprimand, but thankfully Dad at least sees how obvious the observation is and keeps his mouth shut. Perhaps his lack of confidence even around his own daughter could be considered quite a serious character flaw, but I always have and still do consider it to just be the sign of a typical, awkward father. We continue on our way, I with a normal schoolbag slung over the left shoulder and he with indefinitely more to drag along and carry. It's almost a comedic sight on the first day. Somebody should have definitely put "Sora Akiyama's father struggles epically to carry his daughter's entire wardrobe and batch of school supplies to her dorm" on the itinerary for the day's activities.
I suppose for now we'll just have to settle for the smaller crowd that already exists just inside the gates. Girls and boys, all in their baggy uniforms still stiff from how fresh they are, are gathered around far more extensive families than my own. The faint smell of cigarette smoke has wandered into the area but I cannot pinpoint any sort of location for it at the moment. Instead, I look at the faces, all of my new classmates, as I walk down the path with very deliberate caution so as not to leave Dad in the dust behind me. It's here that the reality of everybody's situation is most apparent.
One boy is missing an ear, and the shape of his torso on that same side, even underneath his too-large shirt, is grotesquely obvious. There are too many white canes to possibly begin counting, and each has a person tied to it. Some have dogs, though none will be able to stay at Yamaku. A girl is favoring a leg and a closer look reveals the favored leg is out of place, plastic and lifeless. The sight of it sends a light spike of pain through my own, but I simply cringe and continue onward. Misfires are nothing new by now.
It's equal parts a depressing and uplifting scene, I realize. The people born with their conditions are finally arriving at the fabled Yamaku Academy, where they can live their golden years without fearing that their existence will get in the way. Those like me, who've acquired their disabilities from accident, or did not discover the problem until very recently, lend the depressing side as they still struggle to come to terms. Yet even we're bright-eyed and ready to get this started, not over with. There's ambition leaking out of everybody I see.
Somehow those ugly gates have done nothing to diminish this magical sensation.
Before I can wax too lyrically, a voice carries over towards my ears, piercing and perhaps a bit shrill. I decide it's mostly masculine after some struggle grasping its ring and range, so it's indefinitely not my father's thin baritone. I have no idea what's been said, but it comes from behind and it prompts both of us to stop. Moments later, the culprit walks up in no great rush to Dad and puts a hand on his back.
"You're going to hurt yourself there, friend. Need some help?" The man offers with a smile.
This newcomer is a curious sight, middle-aged and with a healthy gut, salt-and-pepper hair, dressed in a dull grey, expensive peacoat, wearing a black dress shirt and slacks with a flamboyant pink tie, a metal tie bar, an ornate triangle pin, and… Wait a moment, are those black and white sneakers? He's making little effort to conceal his white t-shirt underneath from how loose the tie is, too.
My father is too glad to accept some help, having no such thing as manly pride or something foolish like that to keep him from it. He starts to unload a few bags of stuff off of his back, clearly what this strangely flamboyant, half-Japanese man was worried over when he approached. I don't have any time to protest or the like, but it's hardly bad that Dad is getting a break.
I don't bother to tune into their small talk as the other man starts gathering up all of the things my father dumped on him, instead looking about at the other students again. My peers for the next three years, are they? I suppose there's plenty of time to get to know them, so I don't see much reason to start just yet. I don't even know how to begin, honestly. The various things bringing us all here aren't exactly things to make first conversations out of, are they?
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Sora." I'm broken out of my strange trance by the mystery man with a smile on his face and some of my bags slung over his shoulder. His posture is far better than Dad's. "I'm Dr. Eric Tadamichi. Ah, well not a medical doctor though, you won't be seeing me anytime giving checkups."
He chuckles at that comment, but I can only offer an unseen cringe at it as my voice catches slightly in my throat. What use is introducing myself if Dad already did so for me?
It's fine though, I suppose, as the self-proclaimed Doctor-Not-A-Doctor continues without waiting for me to speak. "Say, I don't want to keep you away from moving in or anything, but it's kind of a nice day and my niece just finished moving in. She's not too far behind us with her family if you wouldn't mind Miss Akiyama?"
"Decide what you're calling me, please." I think to myself, but only sigh outwardly, looking to Dad first. The hopeful look in his eyes tells me everything I needed to know, so I let myself perk up a bit.
"Sure, I don't mind." I nod, glad now I'm wearing a scarf even if my arms are still woefully under-insulated.
"Right, thanks!" He grins, closing his eyes and standing for a second with a rhythmic bobbing to his body.
It's only as we turn around that I realize he has a distinctive waddle in his step, like an awkward, self-confident duck. I imagine his figure and disposition have much more to do with it than any conscious decision to look outright silly. In any case, I start scanning the crowds for who this niece of his could possibly be. I try not to set any expectations based on his odd appearance, especially since he spoke of his niece and not his daughter, but I nevertheless let it sneak into my thoughts, even before I use his trajectory to help out.
Unfortunately, I find no fashion disasters with greying hair anywhere else around and finally settle on the small group the doctor is making a beeline for. He arrives first, Dad and I not too far behind.
The family there isn't extensive, just a mom and a very young sister at the moment, though a tall, thin foreign man leaves another group as soon as he notices the doctor returning. There's no resemblance I can see at all to the girl in question, however, her back to me but the Yamaku uniform all too evident, her hair long, flowing, and dark.
"Kyouko!" Her uncle yells out, not too jarringly as the girl doesn't jump at all, though her conversation with her mother is cut short rather obviously as a result
"Found you someone." He continues, a snide smirk on his face before taking up a position next to this Kyouko's little sister and patting her head to much fanfare and delight.
My colleague is whom I have my eyes on, however. She lets a light sigh at his behavior I imagine, before turning slowly. It's only now that I realize what she'd been gripping in her right hand, one of those far too numerous white canes. That answers a question before it needs to be asked, but more pop up rather instantly as more of her face comes into view.
If it had been intentional that the Sun illuminated her hair and face as it had, I would believe it. Nevertheless, a glowing aura envelopes the short brunette in front of me before her features come into clearer focus. Dull, amber eyes. The same flowing hair from the back, but with an unnaturally scraggly grey streak running diagonally from her right bang towards her crown. And most notably, deep, skin-tone colored pockmarks, slashes, and scars all over her face, never running over her eyes but deforming her nose, lip, and an ear, and continuing down her right side very clearly, her hand apparently unscathed. Her voice is of normal pitch, but it's clearly scratchy and older than her young, if scarred appearance, suggests. Her words are impossibly clear and easy to understand, despite the scratch.
"Just went and grabbed some poor soul off the cobbles, is it? Well, I suppose that's Uncle Eric for you." She chuckles, covering her mouth instinctively.
I can only think to nod dully in response, even if the gesture is likely lost on her. Kyouko doesn't wait anyway, just as her uncle didn't, bowing immediately towards my direction, though not quite to me, her motion clearly practiced and refined.
"It's nice to meet you. The name's Kyouko Tadamichi. What about you, unfortunate soul?"
My voice catches in my throat again, but for far shorter a time as she returns to a standing position.
"Akiyama… Sora Akiyama."
So it is here that the two of us meet for the very first time.