A/N: This is a continuation of the story "Escape," by the prolific author nobodD. While one could understand this story without reading nobodD's work, I HIGHLY encourage you to read their story first (if nothing else, because it's really good).
nobodD was gracious enough to allow me to try to continue their work. I tried to be as true to the original as possible, though I did change one element of the dynamic between the three girls. I leave it to you to decide if my interpretation does the original its full justice.
I hope everyone enjoys my first piece of fan fiction.
To all who read these lines, my thanks. To all who enjoy these lines, my happiness.
A solitary snowflake made its way from the sky to her face, setting itself upon her cold, red nose. Thousands of meters it had fallen from the clouds above, and while many of its brethren had set themselves upon each other in drifts deeper than the young woman's waist, this flake would gently caress the nose of a girl waiting on the platform a train station.
This train station. Where were they, exactly? Honoka had mentioned something about taking local trains to their destination, rather than express trains or the high-speed shinkansen. 'If we're spotted leaving on a local train, the others won't expect us to travel hours and hours to our final destination. They'll think we're just skipping to the next town!'
I guess that's Honoka for you. Impulsive, carefree, yet when it's most needed she can dazzle with foresight and guile.
So how far away are we now? They had ridden for a few hours then slept overnight in Shim-Maebashi station so that the next morning they could catch the first train northward. Now standing in a station waiting for their final transfer, Arisa pondered the distance between Tokyo and their current location….. wherever that was.
'Tokyo is big, so let's put something even bigger between us and our old lives,' Honoka had said. Mountains. Towering behemoths that define a region and a lifestyle. A metaphorical wall to keep our old fears and troubles at bay. A literal passage from one way of life to another.
A big city in Hokuriku, an area north of Tokyo on the Sea of Japan. That's where the girls had agreed to move to, while leaving their precise destination up to Honoka. If only one of them knew exactly where they were going, the less likely it'd be for the information to slip out accidentally.
With four of the five legs of their journey complete, they now waited for that final train to take them home.
*sigh* Just one more train. Then… then we can stop running. Then we can breathe. Then we can...
Arisa felt a small smile form on her lips as the final train in their journey pulled into the station. She lifted her suitcase into the shelf above her seat on the train. 10:30am trains always had few passengers and extra room, so the girls took up a pair of 4-person booths as their own and spread out for the final leg of their journey.
Arisa glanced at Yukiho now sitting across from her. Yukiho already looked like she was asleep, just a few minutes into their trip. I wish I could do that so easily.
Inwardly she chastised herself for envying anything about the girl. Yukiho had been her best friend and ally for many years, yet as the months had passed after the three of them became one, Arisa felt… jealousy? No, that's too negative. She didn't hate the girl at all - in fact, quite the opposite. Arisa loved Yukiho, possibly more than Yukiho loved her. She wanted to be everything to Yukiho, just like Honoka.
She wanted to be sisters. Connected but independent, for each other but on their own. Unfortunately, as sisters do, she often quarreled with Yukiho. It wasn't out of spite or anger, but in trying to maintain the attention of the girl they both loved.
I know she loves Honoka, but is it really the same as the love I have for Honoka? Could it ever be completely the same? Why can't we be three together but different? Why does she have to love her sister the way I love her? Can't she just be satisfied with sisterly love and the occasional romantic embrace?
Covetous. This was Arisa's true self. She desired complete equality between the three girls to the point that she could seem monopolizing and demanding. She didn't mean to be that way, it just happened. Yet while she desired relational equality, she often commanded more time and attention in her relationship with Honoka.
It seems she wanted it two ways. Though, she thought, at least I can admit it. I want Honoka for a lover, Yukiho for a sister, and happiness for us all.
Polyamorous relationships are tricky. It's a small miracle that the three of them found each other in the first place. Another small miracle that they all agreed to be equal among each other - friends, companions, lovers. Each to one another, they gave their mind, body, and soul.
But there was something truly out of the ordinary, even amongst the already out of the ordinary world of polyamory. Honoka and Yukiho were sisters. Literally sisters. Yukiho had spent all 20 of her living years with her sister. Arisa had arrived at year 14, become Yukiho's lover at 15, and again Honoka's at 16.
How can I be jealous of those 14 years when I didn't even exist in their lives? Maybe that's why I'm so selfish in wanting to keep Honoka for myself all the time.
She knew it was fair to be a little jealous, but she also realized the danger of letting that harmless feeling grow into something which could only drive the three of them apart.
To dwell is to make a feeling grow. So I shall dwell upon love.
This is the mantra she had come up with by herself (which she was actually quite proud of). She created it a few months ago when she had gotten into a kerfuffle with Yukiho for… well, who knows what about. That's how trivial it was. All she remembered was how she'd focused on some small negative emotion, making it bigger than it was in the first place. Then she she didn't want that feeling anymore, she released it upon Yukiho.
I'm still sorry, dear sister. I hope one day I can show you that you really are my only true sister. She leaned forward, pulling her blonde hair behind her ear, and softly kissed Yukiho on the cheek.
All had been forgiven, but Arisa still strove to be better every day. It's not easy to cure oneself of jealousy within one's own relationship.
But anything is worth doing for these two girls. My girls. My lifelong companions.
Arisa smiled and rested her head against the window. Snowbanks and icy ponds filled her vision as they streaked by the train. Seeing winter's embrace upon the land, she closed her eyes and began to dream of snowflakes falling upon the cherry-colored noses of her two best friends and lovers.
If I cry I won't be strong enough for them.
Yukiho stepped onto the newly-arrived train and promptly collapsed into a heap on one of the benches. Barely having put the suitcase underneath her seat, she curled up like a cat against the train wall and tried desperately to sleep.
Sleep was her safe place. While normally a strong, independent girl, she'd recently seen the deterioration of her older sister - the slow withdrawal from everyday life and happiness. It reminded her of the months that followed their parents' deaths. It was a time she knew she would never forget, and because of that it constantly reminded her of the strength she needed to keep her sister moving forward every day.
She'd also witnessed the way Arisa fell in love with Honoka and, though she hated to admit it, those two often acted and loved much in the same way that Yukiho and her sister did. This made her feel… left out? Not exactly, but it did feel like something had now come between the two sisters. Sometimes Yukiho would sense this and her needy side would come out. While it'd never really been a problem, Yukiho did have a tendency to be the cuddle-snuggle type. This sometimes caused Arisa's protective instincts to kick in, demanding more time with Honoka.
A vicious cycle to be sure.
Not that she blamed the blonde - Honoka was amazing and deserved all of the love the two girls could afford to bestow upon her. Honoka herself seemed to teeter between the two sometimes. It must be hard having a girlfriend and a sistergirlfriend.
They all harbored deep emotions that could burst at any time, given the right situation.
So Yuhiko slept.
Not out of indifference or avarice, rather out of love. She tried to be the one constant in the lives of the girls around her. Life could create a hailstorm of emotional destruction, but Yukiho pledged to be a beacon among the stormclouds, directing her lovers to safe harbor.
Time to herself was meant for release. Letting tears flow in front of her girlfriends was out of the question. No matter how angry or distraught they became, she would be steady for them.
Yukiho liked pillows. Need to cry? Pillows make the loudest of wails mute. Angry? A pillow gladly suffers jabs and hooks. Want a nap? Pillows send you into a world of dreams and fantasy, leaving you comfortable and rested.
I want to be like that for them.
But… Honoka often tells me to be more open about my feelings. I know she's serious but is that really okay? Where's the line between expressing my emotions and complaining about life? Why can't I just keep all that to myself and work it all out in my own time?
Yukiho let out a breath and closed her eyes with force. These thoughts plagued her and prevented sleep more often that she would openly admit. Something to work on for the future, she supposed.
For today, let's sleep. I need to be strong on our first day together as a new family, in a new home, with a new purpose.
Honoka had been listening to music as the train pulled out of the station. She glanced left towards her two girlfriends sitting across from each other and saw two different expressions.
Yukiho, the model of a girl who could block out whatever part of the world is bothering her and focus on that which is pleasant to her. When the world threatened to crash down upon her, she would resort to cleaning or sleeping; often it happened one after the other. Her ability to consciously remove herself from an unpleasant reality was one of her greatest assets.
Arisa, a fiercely loyal companion whose occasional ire towards her younger girlfriend is only matched by the hidden love she holds for the girl. Honoka had discovered this early in the relationship and made it a point to encourage the growth of these feelings - though occasionally it backfired and handbags ensued. But her desire to amend tattered relationships as soon as possible showed her strength of character.
Honoka could see Arisa as she stared intently upon the visage of Honoka's sister. A cloud of intense thought swirled across her face, occasionally producing a small smirk or a quick furrow of the brow.
A penny for your thoughts wouldn't be enough, Arisa. You're always thinking about things so intently and completely.
A smile that could only be described as hopeful sprung upon Arisa's face and she leaned forward and placed the most gentle of kisses upon Yukiho's cheek. She lingered for only a moment before returning to her side of the booth and leaning against the window, almost as if she was ashamed of what she'd done.
Eyes not of ice, but of peacefully frozen water stared out of the train window. Blonde locks shifting gently as Arisa drifted into a dream world.
Honoka felt warm. Each day would be better from here on out. She would make sure of it. The girls had worked together to get this far, so she wouldn't let them fail now.
But how can I lead these two women who mean so much to me when I can't even properly lead a group of high school singers? My leadership led to our failure. And our failure led to their betrayal.
In this new life she needed to transform into that which she longed to be, yet failed to become - a leader, a teacher, a confidant. But how?
I suppose that's not a question I can answer staring at my girlfriend on a train.
But at least she had a goal. As painful and as undesirable as that goal may be, she knew what must occur. If they wanted to live the rest of their lives together they had to move forward with purpose and goals. She could do that if she tried, right? She could try it all again, right?
A long sigh fogged the train window slightly as she tilted her head away from her girlfriends.
Snow-covered mountains. Frost-tipped fields of grain and bush. Winter was slowly releasing its grip from this island. The warmth of spring wind, rain, and sun endeavoring to rid the world of its frigid blanket. Three women casting aside self-inflicted restraints daring to bloom together.
The train began to slow. They'd been in a city for a while, but it seems they were finally-
Thank you for riding JR East. The next station is the end of the Shin-Etsu Line…
"I suppose it's that time," Honoka murmured to herself.
Standing up took a lot of effort even though it was only 11:30am. She staggered over to her girlfriends and gently rubbed the shoulders of the two girls. Sleepy eyelids gave way to shimmering irises of blueish-gray and sea green.
"Hey… we're almost there. Let's get ready, ladies!" Honoka flashed a grin of excitement to encourage the pair. It worked, and the younger girls began collecting their belongings to disembark.
Gathering at the door they waited as the train slowly came to a stop. A small jolt and the sound of air pressure releasing signaled the unlocking of the doors.
For a moment they looked at each other with unsure grins, but upon seeing each other together in this treasured new land, those grins quickly grew into beaming smiles of happiness. Softly giggling, they took a step onto the platform of their new home. A new land.
They looked up and read the station sign:
Welcome to Niigata.
By the way, I don't own Love Live! Because reasons.