There is a wonderful OreGairu fanfic on this site, Frog-kun's The End of the Affair. The work seems to be as if season 1 of the anime, or about half the volumes of the Light Novel, were to occur but the path of the rest not taken. It is not wonderful because it gives the fan comfort or warmth or happiness, but rather because it contains problems and issues that real people have, and most importantly for the reason it tears a hole in the soul of the fan, desiccates the heart and makes a haunting ache that lingers. Oh wait, that's horrible isn't it? But those negative trajectories of our beloved characters' futures, the antithesis of what most of us anime/LN/manga readers seek, are the things that make it so fine a work. But some of us survivors need a healing balm, and so I have mixed this concoction for that purpose. Beware there will be pain here too though, we need to wash the wound and hack out the necrotic tissues before we can apply the salve, yes?
Apologies to Frog-kun for the clumsy hijacking of your vessel!
The romantic relationship with which this story starts might not endure either. But I see hints of it in the parent work, and it is a necessary part of the earthwork now. There will be some sprinkles of season two or later volumes mixed in but Frog-kun's story is forked from going that route so major parts of that canon will be ignored or sidestepped.
Drifting about the grounds of the high school of my long gone late teen years like a rolling fog with no purpose through groups of students I don't recognize, did not seem abnormal at all. For that was quite the default state of mine even in those days, and most people in that institution were ever and always unknown to me. Only through one involuntary activity, a sentencing to an asylum of sorts by a most unusual teacher, did I ever become friends and acquaintances with some of them. Somehow the bell tones that sound from many directions and PA speakers on the campus I know to be the dismissal signal for the last class of the day, and I have a realization that it is time to go to to the Service Club. The club where she is, where I can see her. I look to the window of the Special Activities building, and in a window so far away and so high there is that sight makes my chest tighten even as a desire that should be long dead to me is rekindled. My only wish is to merely see her face and eyes from some close distance on the scale of a room, for she could never be my acquaintance nor friend, and it would be dishonorable in the extreme for my lowly pitiful self to even attempt any manner of communication again. Pink petals are blown through that open window, around shiny strands of long black hair coming into view at times, outlined in golden sunlight as they are lofted by gentle gusts. Those pieces of blossoms are fluttering over the ends of frail and extremely feminine delicate fingers seen for but a couple seconds as they rise over the window sill to slowly turn the page of a book. Hair I knew as Sabon scented, that in those school years would occasionally and by accident softly glide over the back of my shy hand when sitting close to its bearer at committee meetings and club writing projects. Fingers so dainty and yet powerful that back then would grab my sleeve or hem of my jacket when the owner scared or insecure or wanted my attention, fingers I once held in a hotel during a bizarre tryst of long philosophical discussions as we sought to recreate an atmosphere of two years of our shared past. An adrenaline burst energizes my body. She is there!
Running for the entrance, dismay grows along with that increasing grip behind my sternum at my discovery the building has no doors to be found! Faster I work my legs, propelling my body past ground floor windows behind which students are leaving rooms, and soon I am weaving and dodging my way around them as they are now filling the grounds on their way home. How are they leaving? Why can't I find that egress? I am at last turning the corner to the main entrance where the doors are closing, and I manage to slip though a gap not bigger than myself right before the metallic clunk of the latch. Down a long hall I have to zig and zag through a multitude, around a corner where Yui leans against a wall and yells "Hikki! Just a minute..." but I've no time for indulging that woman as I bound up the stairs to a sliding door beneath a sign full of stickers, heaving it aside to see…...a recently occupied room. The bits of pink sakura flowers twirl and land on an closed book which I know to be of western literature, with a protective book cover bearing a drawing of a cat. A petal lands inside a dainty teacup decorated with images of frolicking kittens, with just a couple millimeters of red tea at the bottom.
The one I seek is not there, and I turn and glance up and down the hall, I run and look along the crossover between buildings, down stairs to quickly check passageways in all possible directions, I dare not call her name aloud for that would violate a sacred promise and possibly create a bothersome stain on that which should never be sullied. Only to see, only to know, only to have assurance the Ice Cold Beauty of Sobu High, Snowden née Yukinoshita Yukino, is safe and still on a path she made with her own will six years ago, that was all I the need I had.
My frantic search is interrupted by the song of my alarm clock, jarring me awake to the present and to the world of the waken, a mournful sigh escapes me from the sadness and dashed expectation concentrated as a lump in my chest. Crap, I've had that particular kind of dream, another one of those damned hated dreams, that has come around to haunt me about every other month for over five years. A dream that comes from an untamed and foolish part of my brain that refused to learn or believe that making a construction of naught but unfulfilled wishes, rising a puny distance over a ground toward an objective that lay at interstellar scale, was ever only folly and waste of the soul's energy. My subconscious was the remains a comet of grimy dirty ice, forever damaged by twice orbiting far too close to the inferno of a star-goddess of blue diamond, that creature of cold light that seared all in proximity.
Holding my iPhone that is presently in suspended animation, I mentally brace myself with the dread of the unplugging of the dike to let the torrent of the worlds cares and troubles and demands invade my precious sanctum. The phone is activated, and messages are sucked from the ether into its hungry vacuum.
Hikigaya don't forget the appetizer soup tonight.
Hikigaya, I know you're awake now.
Hikigaya, are you ignoring me?
Hikigaya, you ARE ignoring me!
Dr. Hikigaya Hachiman! I know you're reading these messages!
So very scary, does her husband get this treatment too? But Satoshi-san somehow manages to defuse any mounting anger of hers with a smile and gentle words before the point where she launches one of her attacks for which some of us have thus far failed to invent counter or dodge. Hiratsuka-sensei's quickness and strength also were honed to even greater sharpness in recent years since she quit smoking and put herself to a regimen of hard exercise and further martial arts instruction to "remain young", and indeed she at least remained quite shapely and her well developed chest muscles keep certain assets high and on a prominent display so rare in a 41 year old female. You are one lucky bastard, Satoshi-san! Were I ten years older, it could have been me kneading those…..OK, just slam the brakes on that Hayajiro Kotetsujo, Hachiman, before the Kabane of Horniness ahead bite you and make you theirs!
Guilt and regret of one ex-Christmas cake led her with kind and supportive spouse to reinsert herself into the lives of those once under her care as school counselor. After "the affair" Sensei and her husband Satoshi-san often had me and other Sobu alumni over for dinner "pot-luck style" to use British phrase, or had us all meet at ramen (usually) and other types (occasionally) of restaurants so she could needle, wheedle, nudge, poke us into her vision of a better life, with our consent and agreement of course. My past self would have asserted that allowing ones self to be changed by another was just a form of running away from ones true self, and yes I still maintain that to be true. However, as long as I choose a path newly revealed from another person as looking promising enough to me to attempt passage, then I can accept my turning onto a new way.
My teenage self would also say any phase of school, grammar or middle or high, would cause resets of relationships with them banished to the ash can of past regret. And this was provably true, as those of my high school years did indeed evaporate within half a decade of graduation. And this was provably false, as Hiratsuka Shizuka and certain others had scooped up the dust of my cast off history, potted it, poured water and fertilizer upon it, and so some of my past friendships and acquaintanceships were as a phoenix reborn. I am of a Zen mind of this, cursing and giving thanks, can I claim as my invention cursed thanks and thankful curses?
In no small part due to her pressures and occasional kicks to the hind side over the last five and a half year, I now held a PhD in Japanese literature, and so augmented my freelance writing efforts with the position of a professor. A key difference from my struggle from dismal bachelor degree being I had friends and acquaintances to study with and discuss things. The success of certain light novels of mine, the first of which had assistance of industry insider connections from my friends, provided most the fuel for a master's degree, and teaching assistant work and then actual staff position came later. Yes, Japan though infamous for mostly having advanced degrees in the technical fields, also had colleges where the humanities turned out men and women of letters. And so I joined that very peculiar temple hierarchy known as "higher learning", to be a kind of priest though yes still very much a kind of corporate slave.
"Yes yes I'll see you and everybody tonight," I texted back to Hiratsuka Shizuka, hopefully to avert the building pressure on the local tectonic plates.
The potluck dinner at Sensei's house meant I should make a list for shopping after my series of lectures today, besides a more basic and masculine a stock of ingredients for the next few days as I'd only be cooking for myself instead of for two. Which brings up the matter of another person who has applied forces over five years and pushed aside branches revealing a path to induce an unbelievable change almost a year ago.
My study and professorship of Japanese writings and related ancient histories really was an extension and indeed amplifier of my being an otaku, besides helping my serious writings the studies also made my light novels (ever a source of disdain and mockery from my more serious colleagues at the University) more rich and full (or it would seem their rising popularity would indicate). Indeed one could say those immature and juvenile portions of my mind, one of my favorite things about myself, being augmented by a complimentary career were wrong as expected. However, this other change, this bizarre "experiment" as its proposer dubbed it, is still a source of doubt and confusion. For yes I had love for this person even during high school, and she was always important to me, though both us know there was and will ever be one higher tier reserved in my heart, for an incomparable unobtainable other woman.
Weights of voluptuous yielding mounds of femininity rest on my right arm, right torso and right leg, and they extended grapplers, like a ship from Outlaw Star, that were locked firmly onto my left side. Instantly making me feel guilt from dreaming of another woman less than twenty minutes ago, but still those sensations also swept the negative emotions away. Unbelievable I know for Hikigaya Hachiman to be found so entrapped by a creature of the opposing sex, but a kind of "experiment" was proposed by a certain significant person from my past and accepted with some amount of reservation by myself; at the ripe old age of 32 I've been in an intimate relationship with someone from my youth who reappeared in my life after her first taking a journey through heartbreak and abuse from two boyfriends in her adult years. My vows of loner-ism and chastity finally were torn down by a combination of Komachi's conniving and insistence, and a certain scatter-brained but ever warm hearted and loving ball of unfiltered child-like emotions who undoubtedly was thrown onto me again by the RomCom gods (acting through their faithful minion my Imouto) after their failed first attempt a decade and a half ago. But she too had to face the realities of her adult responsibilities and PR job today, and so rubbing her back and shoulders to pry her from the depths of slumber I finally was able to make her stir.
The grapplers pulled at my starship hull, er no that is to say a hug was given me with a right arm and calf, and a face lit up with happiness and joy popped up into my view of the ceiling. A deep kiss tasting of strawberries and honey filled my mouth, giver caring not for my concern of my own morning breath which I imagined as the distilled essence of the ashes of a Max Coffee factory razed by arson mixed with sludge from remaining firehose water.
"Good morning, Hikki!" said Yui. "Let me give you something so you'll think of your Yui when she's away for a few days!"
And so she moved her head down to my waist as I turned off my phone with its growing stack of textings, and she gave me a very intimate gift of pleasure while I ran my fingers through her hair and caressed her face. Oh how the tall and mighty loner redwood has finally been toppled by years and years of patient axe swings, to be rendered into firewood for the hearth of love!
"My special little pocket" of Chiba was sick, that was how I thought of those few blocks of my happy place of the past decade and more, they include the three stores that pandered to otaku and the couple of cafes that loved book readers. Graffiti had come over the past two years, along with steel cages added that shuttered the windows at night and criminal happenings in the news that angered me. Very worst of all was the interactions I sometimes observed between shop owners and adult bullies of the variety we call "Yakuza".
I approached a shop specializing in used hard-to-find older manga and light novels, seeing in front of it a city truck replacing for at least the third time a broken street light, and something in the corner of my eye brought me to a halt. Though the windows were mostly a mirror to the street, still I could see down the center aisle two shady and very dangerous looking men. Because of the bright lights in the back, I saw they were leaning close to the face of the old bald shopkeeper, one from each side, making him quiver as he looked at his feet and made slight movements with his mouth. With a start I realized the two goons had turned in my direction, coming down the aisle toward the exit, and I hurriedly pretended to be continuing to walk by the store disinterested in my surroundings. Stealth Hikki mode activated! Behind me I heard the lowlife exit my favorite used book store and tromp with purposed and brisk footfall to a stationery store (that Komachi used to adore) across the street , and they went inside to no doubt harass another owner.
A familiar silhouette approached me, that of a powerful and stocky (thanks to the exercise program his former high school counselor had years ago prodded him to start) and portly (thanks to his still enormous appetite) otaku man. I don't know him! Even if I actually knew him, I don't know him! Even if we often run into each other after work right here to go have ramen together after shopping together, I don't know him!
"Hachiman! Ho-ho-ho, we kindred spirits meet again on this the hallowed piece of our forefather's land, drawn by our quest for knowledge of worlds and dimensions beyond our own!"
Seriously Zaimokuza Yoshiteru, just quit that already, we're grown men in our 30s and don't need to be yelling chuuni-talk in the public eye and ear. I'm a professor of the hand recorded stories and pasts of an infinitely adaptable and ever philosophical people, while you're employed by the Ministry of Justice and assistant to a prominent and rising kensatsu-kan (public prosecutor). That job by the way was partly thanks to Sensei's loving whip lashes over the last five years and to her connections via other former students, with a small dash of her guilt over pithy replies on Yoshiteru's submitted career plan forms way back when.
"Zaimokuza, can we at least agree you not reveal your true chuuni and otaku power levels to the commoners?" I replied in a subdued voice, making him return his trademark exaggerated chuckle lifted right from an anime soundtrack. But suddenly his face became quiet serious, and he stepped close and spoke in uncharacteristic hushed tones.
"Hachiman, there is something peculiar afoot in this our beloved holy place. Those two loathsome minions of darkness that passed behind you may lead us to unmask the fell demon that invades and bewitches our revered place!"
"Oh no, Zaimokuza, I definitely do not want to be led to any demon. And I definitely don't think we should be prying the masks off of invading demons, and since when did you become something other than a cowardly overworked bureaucrat salaryman?"
Well other than when you amazed us and married that meek yet enthusiastic slightly older woman with the gift of comforting leadership of our mutual school past. That ball and chain was forged as penance for your enthusiasm making just a few too many of her projects successful over the year: stuco ones in the long past and charity ones in the present.
"My comrade-in-arms, we need not perform any deeds of heroism or grandeur this day, but rather we only need reconnoiter at a safe and prudent distance. And thereby perhaps acquire a bit of intelligence useful to my employers before shopping for our lady master's gathering tonight."
Behind him the two gangster-types had exited the stationery store and instead of staying on the sidewalk had passed between a gap between buildings to the alley.
"All right Zaimokuza, I'll indulge your whim for a bit, so long as there is no trouble for us, and by us I mean me and myself!"
"That's the spirit, Sir Hachiman, you make me proud to call you brother-in-arms."
"My arms and your arms are for toiling for long hours on a keyboard only, and let that truth ever remain so."
We near-jogged to the alley and peered round the corner, him down low and me leaning over him with our hands on the sides of a boarded and closed store, to see the pair yet again go between a space between buildings to the next street. Again Yoshiteru and myself assumed the same position to watch the Yakuza foot soldiers repeat the process of entering a cleft mid-block that led to another alleyway. Hurrying to the entrance of that alley, our childish peek-a-boo antics finally had a return on investment. A beyond-merely-expensive limousine garishly out of place and character for any local gang leader was idling there, and the driver's window came down. And even at that distance of some eighty meters I had recognition and gasped.
That man was known to me! In my high school days I mentally called him "the Harbinger of Doom" in my mind, he was "that other driver" of the Yukinoshita's. Not the kind hearted and apologetic Tsuzuki-san that accidentally hit me while I was cradling Yui's dog, who usually had Haruno and Yukino as passengers.
No it was the one that was tasked with the shuttling of The Most Terrifying Yukinoshita Woman, i.e. Yukino's manipulative mother. His bulldog like jutting jaw and lumpy nose looking like it had been badly repaired more than once were unmistakable even at half a block's distance. Long ago there was an apology from Yukino for her mother making us all uncomfortable after a school event, Yui and I tried to put her at ease with small talk minimizing the situation. I vaguely remembered Yukino once mentioning this driver's military background while scoffing at my nickname for him. Several times during high school Yukino's mother had appeared, always let out of the limo by that man, to either berate or scold Yukino, leaving my poor club president gloomy and dismal for hours.
"I know that driver! He drove Yukino's mother around in our high school days!" I hissed into Zaimokuza's ear. Of course, there was no way whomever owned that limo, even if evil and into organized crime, would stoop to waste time with petty local street thuggery and harassing of small shop keepers, there was obviously something much bigger going on.
My rather better than average eyesight was puzzling my brain with an oddity about that car, the license plate seemed to have the components of the usual numerals and letters of a government-issued one, yet were not resolvable into any coherent set of symbols. It was as if a piece of pattern disruption camouflage were instead mounted there.
We saw the driver turn and speak with a passenger far behind him, shrouded in the darkness of that ridiculously long and wide rolling fortress. Zaimokuza made a sharp intake of breath in reaction to the simulated shutter-click of a cell phone camera, that sound was a retaliation of our lawmakers upon perverts' upskirt and downshirt photos.
"I was about to do the same!" said Zaimokuza in shaky breaths as I pocketed my iPhone. Belying his words, he looked more about to wet himself than engage in amateur small-format digital photography.
The window of the limousine started to close.
"Hachiman, let us retreat!" and my large framed friend had not even finished that much welcomed outburst before we were both beating feet back to the shop that was our original destination as the limo went into gear and began to roll, us fleeing back to the realm of a couple of too-old otaku indulging their shameful hobby on the sly.
The shop was half-empty, always the shelves were full in my fond memories but now it was apparent the sickness was taking a toll.
"Excuse me, young men, could I have a word with you both?" the shopkeeper's tired elderly voice interrupted Zaimokuza and my treasure hunt amidst remaining volumes.
After we came to him he bowed to us, and we instinctively returned that bow going even lower per our training from youth that is the common Japanese heritage.
"I am deeply grateful for your being such great customers of mine over the years. I would be thankful if perchance you young fellows would consider visiting the new store I'll be opening with my grandson in two weeks," he said while reaching into his pocket and giving us each a card. "I'm afraid I have to close my store here, for the neighborhood is changing in a way that is not good for my family and business."
The door opened and a woman came in, and she poked her red glasses higher on her nose. A BL seeking missile incoming! Deploy chaff! Her face morphed into an evil deviant rotten-girl grin, and I feared the inevitable wild ideas of imagined boy-love about to be proclaimed.
"Oh ho ho ho! At last Hachiman X Yoshiteru have come from the closet, finally unveiling their loving bond to the world!"
"We haven't been in any closet, Tobe Hina-san, and please stop manufacturing unsavory back stories!" I retorted, attempting to close the subject and sit on the lid.
Yes, Tobe had finally caught his bashful (in matters of heterosexual romance only) and fearful (of heterosexual couplings only) Ebina Hina, but though married Tobe Hina remained a fujoshi through and though.
"Welcome Hina-chan, could you please come here and listen to a request of mine?" asked the shopkeeper.
We all solemnly promised him we would certainly be customers of his and his grandson's new store, paid for our selections, and left after looking around and taking photos with sad nostalgia at the place that brought us so much happiness since middle school age. Hina and spouse Tobe-san also would be joining us for potluck at Sensei's, so we all three went shopping together.
I stand inside a halfway, one based on a certain one of my secondary school's, but rendered in the reflections of parallel mirrors, such that it extends on and on with multiplied depth in front and behind me. But nearly to the vanishing point there is for a fraction of a second a perfectly formed long leg, sheathed in dark stocking having a white stripe nearly at the top, a stripe intended to accentuate that bit of bare soft thigh exposed between skirt hem and stocking top though its wearer would dismiss any such viewpoint as belonging to a lewd mind of the baser sort. The leg and the ends of trailing black hair disappear into a doorway. I run and run down the hall, past an impossible count of vacant rooms, finally after many minutes arriving at a sliding door under a sign bearing silly kid's stickers. I slide the door before my body even halts, and propel myself into the club room. A teapot stands next to a full cup with a pan-san motif ("just a paper cup replacement", she had said) at the near end of the table, that end that was my reading place for two years. The window is open and cherry blossoms drift in and settle on some books wrapped with cat themed book covers. A feeling of loss and sorrow starts to overwhelm me. I awaken to my alarm clock's song, my mind melancholy and pensive.
"Why are you treating me to an overpriced Western lunch practically in the Yukinoshita's corporate back yard? Heck they probably own this place too!" I complained to Zaimokuza.
We sat in a second story restaurant geared to corporate salarymen much above our pay grade, overlooking the plaza of Papa Yukinoshita-san's corporate headquarters, on a Wednesday when I had no classes though I should have been reviewing student's papers and constructing an exam or three. A skyscraper with blue mirrors for windows was in the rear for the foundation business, the construction company. Another angled on my left having mirrors of gold for a wall, was for subsidiaries in real estate and property management and property investment, and I didn't even know what happened in the other reddish-purple windowed building, that together with its siblings formed a kind of letter 'Y' if viewed from the air, though that later one was often in the background when Diet Councilor Yukinoshita-san spoke in the news.
"We await a view of the visage of a certain driver in the mirrored windows" replied Zaimokuza with his mouth around a grilled club sandwich. Soon a limo, very likely that limousine we saw two days before, drove up and into the covered turnabout and stopped in front of the golden skyscraper. Since the cover was a good two floors above our second story level, we had a clear view of the driver reflected in gold, The Harbinger, as he stepped out and walked to the rear doors.
"That driver is our mark?" asked Zaimokuza.
"Yes that's the same driver from before, though please let's not speak like mafioso planning a hit in a B movie", I informed my friend as I snapped a picture with my iPhone.
A graceful woman grabbed The Harbinger's hand and lifted herself out, it was The Scariest Yukinoshita Woman, Yukino's mother. Another man followed as I snapped another picture, and immediately I made a rude gulping sound and dropped my phone onto the plushly carpeted floor. It was without mistake the only man ever to punch me in the face, James Snowden! None other than Yukino's foreign born (failed-)embezzler husband! He bowed to Yuki-mom, and started his way away along the turnabout. Coming to the end, he crossed the street to our building, making my half full stomach start to feel extremely ill at ease and sorry for most the turkey-avacado-goat-cheese-spouts "california style" sandwich I had consumed. Surely he wouldn't be coming here to grab a bite? Curse the gods of RomCom (Post-Affairs Department)!
Three minutes later I hyperventilated "Shit shit shit, he's coming out of the lift behind you" to Zaimokuza, who only gave me a confused stare.
I grabbed a drink menu, mumbling "I just want to see the absurd prices" to Yoshiteru before cranking Stealth Hikki Mode to maximum deflective power. A smell I remembered all too well, that of filthy lucre distilled into fine cologne, started to permeate the air. I intently studied the cocktail menu like a student at 3am before finals, waiting for that smell to dissipate. The smell did not, it stayed at the same level for far too long a chunk of a minute, and to my immense dismay from a source far far too close.
"That ahoge! I knew it! It IS you!" growled a voice from a face centimeters above the top of my menu, that face that would be at home on a movie star and set most women's hearts a-fluttering away. Only one thing for a cornered man to do in a situation like this, play dumber than dumb!
"Excuse me sir, do I know you? " I inquired in a timid and oh so non-threatening a mouse voice.
"Hikigaya Hachiman, you will never ever come within a kilometer of here again, or I will have Yukinoshita's security detail make you disappear!" he bellowed, making all the patrons and waiter and head waiter look disgustedly in our direction, and making Zaimokuza in particular slouch deep into his seat and stare at his belly with features gone totally limp.
Then Snowden seemed to deflate a bit, and added in a voice of disappointment, "Now look what you've done, Hikigaya, I've completely lost my appetite."
He turn, sighed, and exited via the lift.
Zaimokuza and I then remembered the particular ability of breathing we had been performing since our expulsion from our mothers' respective wombs 32 years prior, and we panted like dogs. The head waiter came by for the check and also kindly requested that we should consider not ever returning to that establishment.