A/N: My thanks to everyone who has read the first chapter, and a second thanks out to those whom reviewed. I'm very sorry for the delay in updates, was recently evicted from my apartment so the past couple months have been a bit hectic. Finally got my computer up and running the way I like it at the new place, so here's an update.

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Stories or any of the characters within.

Back to (Para) Normal Part 1b

It had been several hours since Hajime had fled the school. He was casually making his way home at last, his hands resting comfortably in his pocket, while he stared up at the sky. He was lost in thought, recalling his visit to the hospital to check up on Leo.

Hajime burst into the hospital room in which he was told Leo was staying. He was panting heavily, having run the entire distance from the school to the hospital, and it proved to be a struggle just to stay standing. He scanned the room for his friend, spying Leo sitting on the bed staring at him with a shocked expression.

"Leo, what happened?" He managed after catching his breath, to which Leo just shrugged. "Hey, I'm the one out of breath, say something, and don't just shrug."

Leo moved his lips as if to speak, but no words left this mouth, only silence. He tried again, visibly shaking as his lounges forces air past his vocal cords, but still not a peep. He stared down at the floor, disappointed, as if he'd hoped the sight of his best friend, really one of his only friends, would give him the strength to speak. Sadly that was not the case, as Hajime noted.

"They stuck you in the hospital just 'cause you lost your voice? Damn it Leo, I thought you were dying or something," Hajime inhaled deeply one last time, his veins no longer feeling as though they might pop out of his skin. "See, I told you not to stick weird things in your mouth," He sneered.

Leo cast an angry glare at Hajime, and tried to speak, forgetting his condition yet again. Failing that he leaned over the side of his bed to where a school bag sat, retrieving a pen and paper. He scribbled something down then passed the paper to Hajime.

"Wow, a good idea, from you, maybe the hospital is good for you after all," Commented Hajime as he took the paper and read. "You woke up this morning and your voice was just gone? Because there were no symptoms your parents were concerned it was a new virus and didn't want it spreading? Some loyal family you have there!" Leo frowned at this, and Hajime didn't push the subject.

Hajime crumpled up the piece of paper and threw it aside for a hospital staff member to clean up. "Seriously though man, you have to get better soon. Satsi is really mad at me, and I need you around to take some of the heat."

Leo raised an eyebrow at this, as if to ask what happened. Hajime caught the clue and decided to elaborate, going on to explain about the doll, and Satsuki's outburst. Leo just nodded, not really paying attention as Hajime went on for what seemed like a half hour about an event that took only a minute. "Seriously though, I just don't know Satsi's problem, I mean yeah I feel bad, but I've never seen her that angry before!"

Leo gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder, and then shrugged, causing Hajime to sigh. "Yeah, I didn't think you'd have the answers, man why can't I have computer problems, at least then you're of some use to me," Leo furrowed his brow and frowned. "I'm kidding Leo, really. If my computer ever does break, you are fixing it though. I mean it," Hajime got up to leave. "Well I should get going, you know what today is and all, parents will be pissed as it is, don't need to be late getting home."

Leo's eyes went wide as he suddenly remembered the day. Once again he dived into his bag, pulling out a small box wrapped in parcel paper. He tossed it to Hajime, who managed to trip and fell while catching it.

"Man, whatever it is, it better not be breakable," He climbed to his feet and walked to the door. "Thanks man, I can always count on you at least," Leo waved goodbye, and Hajime did the same before leaving.

As he approached his house Hajime heard whimpering nearby. Hajime looked about, and soon found Keiichirou sitting on the steps leading to his and Satsuki's house. Glancing at his watch Hajime realized that school wouldn't be out for another three hours, so Keiichirou would have a long wait for his sister. He was about to continue on his way when Keiichirou began to actually cry.

Hajime inhaled deeply and sighed, before turning down Satsuki's sidewalk and approaching Keiichirou. The young boy apparently didn't notice Hajime, as he jumped when the older boy set his hand upon his head. Keiichirou looked up to see who was there, and seeing Hajime, he jumped forward, latching himself onto the older boy's pant leg, continuing to cry.

"Hey Keiichirou, what happened? Did your cat die again?" Asked Hajime sarcastically, he could at least act like he wasn't being nice, or so he thought. He couldn't maintain his tough guy image for long with the small boy still crying like there was no tomorrow. "Come on, you can tell me."

Keiichirou wiped away some tears using his shirt, and struggled to stifle his crying. "Some mean kids at school stole the lunch money Satsuki gave me. Now I'm hungry and Satsuki is going to be mad at me!"

With that Keiichirou began to cry again, Hajime just sighed, rubbing the back of his head. "I thought we went over this, when someone picks on you just run away!"

"But, but I did run, but there cornered me, and…" Keiichirou's speech became inaudible as he cried harder and harder. As Hajime examined Keiichirou's face, it was evident that the kid's eye was swollen; likely it would darken into a bruise in a couple hours.

Hajime pulled away from Keiichirou, and stared up into the sky before pulling out a wallet from his pocket and checking its contents. "Damn it," he mumbled, dissatisfied with the meagre five dollars. He placed his hand on Keiichirou's head and messed up the younger boy's hair.

"Hey stop that!" complained Keiichirou.

"Come on," spoke Hajime as he released Keiichirou. "Let's go get you some food, how does ice-cream sound?"

"Really?" Keiichirou smiled, and then frowned. "Wait, since when are you this nice to me? Or to anyone?"

"Honestly, your sister is really scary when she gets mad, even I wouldn't make you go through that."

"She's not that bad!"

"Oh? I've never seen her kick you in the face, I don't think you're the best to judge."

"I've also never tried to look up her skirt!"

"Well if you ever did I'd say you have deeper issues than Satsi kicking your ass."


"Oh, uh, let's go get that ice cream, hey?" Hajime started to run, Keiichirou following behind.

"Hey wait up, that's not fair you cheater!"

For Satsuki, the rest of the day passed uneventfully, or rather it had to be the dullest hours of her life. Who would have guessed that having Hajime around actually made things more interesting? "Ah, who needs him anyway?" She spat as she continued on her way to the elementary to pick up her brother.

Satsuki arrived home close to an hour later, having spent most of the hour searching for her wayward brother. From a teacher she'd learned that he'd not gone to any classes after lunch, and no one knew where he was. Needless to say, the girl was fuming.

"Keiichirou, are you home? You better get your butt down here right now so I can kick it!" Screamed Satsuki as she entered her house, but no reply followed. She threw her bag into the hall and prepared to set out again, now becoming seriously worried about Keiichirou. She opened the door only to reveal Keiichirou standing on the doorstep, his hand stretched out to grab the door knob.

He quickly retracted his hand, and forced a grin onto his face. "Oh, hey sis, just get home?"
"Yes and where have you been?"
"Um, school?"

Satsuki took her younger brother by the ear; pulling him into the house she began to scold him "Don't you lie to me! I went to the school and they said you never went to any of your classes during the entire afternoon!" She moved to slam the door, but something held it open. Turning to see what was blocking the door Satsuki noticed Hajime standing at the doorway.

"It's my fault he missed class, sorry Satsuki."

"You ass, stop trying to mess with my family!" screamed Satsuki as she kicked Hajime, sending him stumbling backwards. Before he could recover, Satsuki slammed the door, and he could hear the sound of a lock clicking.

"Man, why the hell do I even do try," mumbled Hajime as he made his way home.

Satsuki turned to face Keiichirou, but before she could say anything she finally took note of the large mark on his face. "So where exactly have you been?" She questioned.

Keiichirou looked puzzled, until he noticed he'd spilled a large amount of ice cream all over his shirt earlier, and it was now a rather apparent stain. "Well I really wanted some ice ream so-"

"I'm not talking about the stain!" interrupted Satsuki. "I'm talking about what you did to your face!"

Staring blankly at his sister for a moment, Keiichirou suddenly remembered the rather nasty bruise he got earlier. "This? I uh," he paused to think of an excuse, not wishing to trouble his sister with more tales of bullies. "I fell at school."

"Oh really?" Satsuki didn't even need to know Keiichirou to know that he was lying, the pause alone would have given it away never mind to poor excuse he used.

Keiichirou on the other hand remembered something that Hajime told him to say if he got into a jam. "Satsuki, when is dad getting home for supper?"

"Oh crap! I haven't even started to make supper and dad will be home in less than an hour!" Forgetting their previous discussion, she made a dash for the kitchen and scrambled to throw something together for supper.

Taking this opportunity to escape, Keiichirou ran up the stairs to his room, rather than risk Satsuki pressing him for more answers. He'd promised not to say anything to her about what he and Hajime spoke of. "I wonder why he was interested in what mom used to do for Satsuki's birthdays."

Satsuki struggled in the kitchen, barely managing to hold a multitude of ingredients in one arm while using her other to prep the gas stove. She leaned at an awkward angel as she reached for the dial to turn on the element she would be using, and with a crash, various jars slipped out of her grasp. They fell to the hard tiled floor where they shatter, scattering broken glass and their contents across the kitchen. Quickly becoming frustrated, she smashed her fist against the surface of the stove, which yielded far less than her hand. Grimacing in pain, she looked at the mess on the floor before deciding to turn on the element. She could at least get the stove warmed up before she cleaned up the spill, but upon seeing the flames of the stove light up, she was reminded of the incident earlier in the day. Deciding to focus all her frustration and anger towards Hajime, she let out a scream, though it was more of a roar.

Keiichirou was on his way to the kitchen to grab a drink when he heard Satsuki yell. He came running to see what the matter was, and found his sister nearly in tears, her face red with anger. Somehow she'd managed to convince herself that everything that went wrong today was Hajime's fault, from the obvious destruction of the doll to the little things like the mess on the floor. Daring to tempt the beast, Keiichirou spoke. "Satsuki, what's the matter?"

"That stupid Hajime! Why does he have to be such a pervert and a jerk all the time? Why can't he try being nice for a change?" She muttered, though loud enough for her brother to hear.

"He's not always a jerk, he can be nice!" Keiichirou defended, knowing full well that while Satsuki had a right to be frustrated, this much rage was taking it too far. What's more, if he was able to realize it, then how come she couldn't?

Satsuki looked at her brother, as she wiped away a few tears. "Yes he is! He's such a pervert, and he acts brave until something goes wrong then he's nothing but a snivelling coward! He never says anything nice and only ever makes fun of people, even his best friends!"

"He was nice to me; he bought me ice cream today…"

"Yeah, after he convinced you to skip school, I don't even know why you're defending him. Just stop talking about him, I hope I never have to see or hear form him again!" To emphasize her point she once again smashed her hand hard into the stove, and once again it failed to yield. This time though, she didn't grimace, instead she just ignored the pain, the adrenaline form her outburst was more than enough to stifle her aching nerves.

Next door Hajime was in the middle of changing a light bulb, standing precariously upon a rather unstable chair. A sudden wave of pain passed over him, and he became dizzy. His vision blacked out before he could see the skin on his arm contort, as if being gripped and scratched by dozens of bony like hands. He fell forward, landing heavily on the same arm, barely managing to gasp for air as the pain from his arm completely overwhelmed him. Whatever was attacking him had ceased, but the fall onto his already very sore arm was enough to push him past his limit. "What the?" He whispered to himself, a second before losing consciousness.

A/N: There's the second chapter, finally. Now that I'm settled in I should be updating once every week to 2 weeks, as the trip to and from works eats up over two hours I find myself with less time to just sit down on my computer for anythig other than checking e-mails. Sorry about the delays, I hope to locate a cheaper and more conveniently located residence soon so I can focus more on my hobbies. Anyway, my thanks goes out to everyone who took the time to read, and if you happened to review you get a second round of appreciation. Til' next time.