The group stared at her incredulously as Nagisa held her sides, laughing boisterously. Really? Of all the things that could have become a ghost story, this was one of them? It was just too amusing. Had she not been so disturbed last night, she probably would have realized it sooner.
This morning had been a rough one. Lack of sleep had made Nagisa cranky, and the dreams she had whenever she managed to fall asleep only made things worse. If she wasn't having nightmares of crazed butchers, it was awkward dreams of her in one of the two positions she had walked in on last night, and the girl she was with changed each time. If anyone knew why she had trouble sleeping, they would understand why she had refused to make contact with anyone all morning.
From what she could gather the few times she dared to look at her friends, Tamao seemed exhausted from lack of sleep while Tsubomi seemed a bit…jittery, most likely a result from the same combination of awkwardness and horror that Nagisa had experienced.
When the group gathered, the three that had the roughest time trying to sleep glared at the apparently well-rested Yaya. In fact, she seemed to be full of more energy than ever before. Chiyo also seemed fine for the most part, though there was an obvious nervousness, as if she expected to be attacked. Nagisa had given Chiyo a smile that promised forgiveness.
Forgiveness, and plans of getting some sweet, sweet revenge.
Hikari hadn't joined them. Nagisa had assumed that the blond had been really spooked, but according to Yaya, Hikari had left early to go see Amane off. Nagisa had completely forgotten about what she and Hikari had recently spoken about. Whoops.
Now the five of them were gathered in front of the closed doors of the library, three of them wondering if the redhead had finally lost it, and one of them already knowing she never had it to begin with.
"Maybe she really is possessed." Yaya muttered flatly.
"N-no, that's not it. I just realized how stupid this rumor is, e-even though it's the only - the only one that's actually kind of true." Nagisa said as she tried to force herself to stop laughing.
"Well there used to be someone who would cause all those noises, but the reason they've stopped happening is because she's been buh…" Nagisa's voice quickly died off as memories of last night came to her. "She's been busy." She mumbled at the end, looking away from the group.
"So the 'Crying Trees' rumor is nothing more than someone goofing off in their free time?" Looks like these rumors are really good at raising Yaya's hopes and immediately crushing them. Even Tamao's sources had been wrong about these, and that almost never happens.
"Something like that, yeah." You have no idea.
"Son of a-" Yaya's potential profanity was cut off by the fast-approaching sound of galloping hooves. The group naturally turned their attention towards the direction of the approaching horse, soon seeing Amane emerge from behind the tree line. "Well, that's new."
"You all…" Amane slowed her horse to a stop in front of the group. "You are Hikari-san's friends, are you not?" She asked, immediately recognizing Yaya as the girl that Hikari almost always seemed to be with.
"We are, but…" Tamao leaned to the side to get a better look behind Amane, noticing the lack of a blond-haired girl with the horse rider. "Is Hikari not with you?"
"You seem panicked." Nagisa added, noticing that the taller student's usually stoic expression showed trace signs of worry that the redhead was able to notice. "Did something happen?"
"I have been searching for Hikari-san. I am normally able to pick her out in the crowd when I leave, but when I wasn't able to find her this morning, I found myself feeling a bit…uneasy." Amane wasn't sure how to explain it. When had she even started intentionally looking for Hikari in the crowd? Why was her failure to find the blond troubling her so much, to the point of rushing away to search for her? She…she didn't understand that foreboding feeling, like she would have regretted it if she didn't see Hikari before leaving.
"In the crowd? You mean at the rally? Why were you looking for her there?" Yaya asked uneasily, looking a bit pensive. "Shouldn't you have already seen her before that even started?"
"What do you mean?" Tsubomi spoke up. "You said it yourself yesterday, didn't you? Hikari should see Amane-san off in the morning, and give her that, whatever that is, after Amane-san returns later, right? Why would they have already met in private?"
"Last night, after out little adventure-" Cue more glares directed at Yaya, though they were weakened by their concern for their apparently missing friend. "-Hikari mentioned that she had gotten a letter from Amane-san stating that the two of them should meet before she has to leave for her competition…or whatever it was." Yaya looked around at the surprised group and frowned. That frown deepened when she saw that, among those that were surprised, Amane was one of them. "You…you did write that letter, didn't you?"
"I…" Amane's feeling of unease spread to the other students assembled as she answered. "I have written no such letter."
Sister Hamasaka was having a rather peculiar day. It had started off innocent enough. She had been taking a leisurely stroll around campus as she so usually did when the weather was as peaceful as it was today. Sure, there was still a little fog, but that wouldn't stop this head sister from getting some fresh air!
As she had been walking along, she came across two students that were fighting; however, it wasn't the type of fighting that she was used to seeing. Fighting was a rather rare occurrence on Astraea Hill, but whenever it actually did happen, it usually consisted of two or more girls shouting back and forth with the occasional delicate slap if one of the arguers were feeling bold, or just really angry. Overall, it was an event that just seemed to never happen in this peaceful school.
If she were to use that as a frame of reference, the actions of the two students she encountered on the forest floor could not be considered fighting. No, the only word that she had found that could adequately describe the confrontation between the two girls was a brawl. Punching, kicking, scratching, biting – whatever the two could do to inflict harm upon the other, they went for it. In all of the undisclosed number of years she had been a sister of this school, she had never seen her students doing anything so barbaric!
The head sister leaned back in her office chair, gently rubbing her temples in a poor attempt to fight off the headache she was experiencing. For the first time in years, she was feeling her age, as she just did not know how to handle this kind of situation, simply because it had never happened before. She had no cases of such violence in the past to reference, and her standard punishment didn't seem appropriate. Having the two of them clean the cafeteria together would probably result in another brawl.
Sister Hamasaka sighed wearily as she glanced at the six girls in the room. She first looked at the two girls standing on the other side of her desk, who were exchanging rather heated glares. Aoi Nagisa and Kenjo Kaname had been quite viciously attacking each other when the head sister had found them, and both of them currently looked worse for wear.
Their uniforms were covered in dirt, leaves, twigs, and there were even traces of blood. There were also tears scattered on both uniforms, likely from small rocks hidden throughout the ground. The biggest damage to either uniform seemed to be only hanging on by a single thread- oh, no, it just fell off. The head sister noticed a few scars on the arm, as well as an armband over her wrist, but the two girls currently glaring at each other didn't seem to notice the sleeve falling.
Other than the damaged uniforms, both girls' hair seemed to be a mess, which was more noticeable on Aoi-san as her hair was longer. They both had a few bruises here and there, but they each had a few unique injuries. Aoi-san's face had a few cut marks that ran parallel across her cheek, most likely from being clawed at some point. The left half of her sunglasses seemed to be broken. The frame was barely in one piece, and the left lens was completely missing, leaving Nagisa to have to keep her left eye closed. The redhead was just lucky the glass didn't break into her eye. There was some bruising around the side of the eye as well, indicating that Aoi-san was likely punched there when her sunglasses were broken.
Kenjo-san's face seemed to be mostly unharmed, except for the busted lip, indicating that she had been hit in the mouth at some point. The biggest injury she seemed to have suffered was the bite on her arm. Sister Hamasaka was still surprised that one of her students had actually bitten another. The bite seemed to have been a strong one, as it had broken skin and caused bleeding. When she had found the two of them rolling on the ground, Aoi-san's jaw was firmly locked around Kenjo-san's arm. All in all, it didn't look like a good experience.
"ENOUGH!" The voices of both Rokujo Miyuki and Tomori Shion echoed through the room, apparently putting a stop to some bickering between the two troublemakers while the head sister was distracted. The head sister, like anyone who dealt with any of the student council members, knew all too well about how often the two presidents would bicker. Knowing this, it was strange to see the two presidents so synchronized, both of them giving sharp glares to the troublemaker affiliated with their respective school. The head sister noticed that Rokujo-san's glare had lightened up a bit when compared to Tomori-san's, likely due to the outburst between her and Aoi-san.
"Why would you do something like this, Aoi-san?!"
"Why? Why?! You of all people should know why I did what I did!"
Until the synchronized shout with Tomori-san, Rokujo-san had remained quiet after Aoi-san's response. Regardless, the two injured students immediately straightened up under the threatening glares of the two presidents, and the head sister was glad she called for them both as soon as she brought the other four to her office.
Speaking of which, the sister glanced at the last two students in the room, who had remained silent for quite some time. Ootori Amane and Konohana Hikari had both been on scene when the brawl had started, and Ootori-san had helped the head sister separate Aoi-san and Kenjo-san. Rather brave, considering most of the students that attended this school wouldn't have known how to act in that kind of situation. The head sister still wasn't sure how to act, given the circumstances.
The sister had decided that it would only be fair if she had gotten the story from each of the four girls that had been present, and part of her wished she hadn't asked. If she hadn't asked for anyone's side of the story, she could have just suspended Aoi-san and Kenjo-san for a few days for fighting, and things would have been left at that. Unfortunately, the whole reason that this has become a predicament is because there was more than just a fight going on.
From what she could gather from the collected stories, all of this started with some fabricated letter written to Konohana-san. For some unexplained reason, Kenjo-san had written the letter to call out Konohana-san to an isolated location, pretending the letter was from Ootori-san. At the time of the meeting, Ootori-san had some 'bad premonition' which caused her to seek out Konohana-san.
During her search for Konohana-san, Ootori-san came upon Aoi-san and some of Aoi-san's friends. After explaining the situation, Ootori-san and the rest of the gathered group were informed of the letter by Nanto Yaya. Ootori-san denied having written the letter, and since Nanto-san did not know where the letter had stated for Konohana-san to supposedly meet with Ootori-san, the group split up in order to track down Konohana-san. Nanto-san had taken Okuwaka Tsubomi to search for Konohana-san in Spica's academic building, Suzumi Tamao and Tsukidate Chiyo had gone to search the dorms, while Aoi-san joined Ootori-san in searching the forest.
When Aoi-san and Ootori-san found Konohana-san, the blond was pinned to the ground by Kenjo-san. Kenjo-san had denied this, saying that she had been there by coincidence and tripped, but the rather colorful response from Aoi-san, and the fact that Konohana-san was hiding from Kenjo-san by standing as far away from her as possible and behind Ootori-san, led the head sister to believe it was no accident.
Accident or not, as soon as Aoi-san had seen Konohana-san pinned down, she attacked Kenjo-san, and the events between then and when the head sister had found them were just the descriptions of the brawl. Kenjo-san's assault on Konohana-san with unknown intentions, followed by Aoi-san's assault on Kenjo-san for reasons that were probably unknown to most of the people in the room, but at least known to the head sister and apparently Rokujo-san, made this all more complicated than it needed to be. Of course, Sister Hamasaka would have preferred if this incident had never occurred, but it was too late to do anything about that now.
"What do you two suggest their punishment be?" The head sister turned her attention to the two student council presidents. Neither of them had any built-in ideology of what acts would receive what level of punishment, and although she felt there could be some bias, it would at least give her some idea as to where things should go. Upon seeing how deeply the two presidents considered the sister's question, she felt they would at least give an honest answer.
"I would say they should at least each have a week of academic probation. During this time, since the two of them most likely won't be able to stay in the same room together by themselves, Kenjo-san should be tasked with scrubbing the floor in Spica's building while Aoi-san scrubs the floors in Miator's buildings." Tomori-san suggested first, returning the glare that Kenjo Kaname sent her way.
"Why punish them with academic probation instead of expelling them?" Rokujo-san had asked the question on the head sister's mind.
"Despite the fact that they've both made rather stupid decisions,-" This earned Tomori-san glares from both Kenjo-san and Aoi-san, though she ignored both. "-Spica's student council does still need all of its members, considering we're still making up for wasted time from the beginning of this year." Rokujo-san frowned at that. "From what I've heard, it doesn't seem fair that Aoi-san should have a more severe punishment than Kenjo-san either. I'll be giving Kenjo-san plenty of work as well, and I'm sure you or Etoile-sama will have some work for Aoi-san as well."
Seeing the frowns on both Aoi-san and Kenjo-san's faces, the head sister cleared her throat. "For now, you two will be placed on academic probation while you each scrub the school you attend. Any further punishment will be decided at the end of the week. Do I make myself clear?" After receiving two nods, she continued. "I want you both to return to your rooms…separately." She added the last word as an afterthought, not wanting another fight in the halls. "Dismissed."
Kenjo Kaname wasted no time in leaving, not sparing a glance at Ootori-san or Konohana-san as she stepped out. The two presidents followed behind her, ensuring there was no violence. As Aoi-san moved to leave as well, Konohana-san whispered something to the redhead that the head sister couldn't hear. When they were all gone, the head sister pondered if this was what people felt like before they took up smoking.
Nagisa sighed as she tossed her ruined uniform aside. As she was no expert at sewing, and didn't even know where her sleeve had gone, she knew she couldn't fix her uniform. The redhead wasn't sure if she would be receiving another one, or if she was supposed to wear her regular clothing, or- oh god, what if they expect me to go to classes naked?! That sadistic, perverted devil! Maybe that was why their punishment seemed so light!
Nagisa's eyes shot open at the thought of the school actually forcing her to do something so wrong, and she immediately regretted it. Due to having not changed her shades since the uniform was a bigger concern in her mind, the light hit her exposed eye, causing her to flinch it shut from the sudden pain. She had been quicker to shut her eye when her sunglasses had broken, but that might have been because she was being punched in the face.
She groggily leaned against the wall as she sat back on her bed. The weary student could safely say that today sucked. She had snapped and recklessly charged into a fight, had a pair of her shades broken, had her oh-so-wonderful uniform ruined, was told she had to clean an entire friggin' school building, and now the poor girl was bound to her room and didn't even get to eat breakfast! Hungry… The headache wasn't helping much either.
Deciding to just take the easiest route to end this headache and the day in general in the quickest manner possible, she discarded what remained of her sunglasses for her shaded goggles, and then took one of her painkillers. As she always seemed to do, she would momentarily ponder what was in those pills that made her so tired so quickly before she would find herself being too tired to care. She plopped down on her bed and was out before her head hit the pillow.
At least, that's how she thought it was supposed to go. It seemed as if she had only just gone to sleep before some incessant object poking at her side brought her back to the realm of the living, or the wake, or whatever.
She tried so desperately to swat away at the offending object with what little energy she seemed capable of mustering, but her efforts proved futile and her arm fell lazily to her side. Anyone who had seen the action would deny that the arm had even moved. It's the thought that counts, right?
Eventually, the object of her ire seemed to give up whatever it was trying to accomplish by repeatedly interrupting her peace, as the poking came to a complete stop. She could barely hear traces of a female voice mumbling something, but her consciousness was lost almost as soon as it had left the first time.
Again? Nagisa had no idea how long it had been since the last time it happened, but the repeated poking in her side had returned. It seemed that something or someone disapproved of her trying to get through this day the easy way. What else did the world want to bring her down with today? Would it be worse if she didn't wake up?
With a weak sigh, the drained redhead slowly and awkwardly pushed herself up into a sitting position, trying to wake herself up enough to focus on whoever else was in the room with her. When her vision cleared, she saw Yaya standing over her.
"Finally!" The aforementioned Spican muttered in exasperation. "Didn't think you'd ever wake up. Cute pajamas, by the way."
As Nagisa's haggard brain tried to figure out what the hell Yaya was talking about, she glanced around the room. A glance at the clock told her that she had slept a good portion of the day away, seeing as how classes had ended some time ago. Using the power of half-asleep deduction, she figured that someone had probably tried to wake her around lunch time.
She turned her attention to the other people in the room. She first noticed Tamao, who was standing closest to the clock. Her best friend was sporting her standard worried look and seemed to be holding the shades that Nagisa had discarded earlier. When her mind started functioning at its normal pace, she'd be able to tell Tamao that she had more shades tucked away…somewhere. She also noticed that Tamao seemed to glance up at Nagisa from time to time, but tried to make it look like she was studying the shades. Why Tamao would do that, Nagisa didn't know.
Her focus moved to the girl directly in front of her, Yaya. The girl that dared to interrupt her rest seemed to be studying Nagisa, or her body, it seemed. Rather strange, since Nagisa, tired or not, didn't seem to recall Yaya doing something like that often, if at all.
Deciding that thinking about it was too much effort at the moment, she turned her attention to the next person she saw, Tsubomi. Her adorable little tsundere was sporting an incredibly deep blush, and seemed to be trying, and failing, to not look directly at Nagisa. She had her head turned away, but frequently shot glanced at Nagisa, then appeared more embarrassed each time she looked away, if that were possible.
After internally questioning why Tsubomi kept acting the way she did, the last of Yaya's words finally seemed to register. Pajamas? She looked down at her body and saw what was making the pinkette blush so deeply. It seemed that Nagisa had forgotten to change, distracted by the state of the clothing she had discarded at the time.
It was most likely thanks to the medication that she didn't immediately freak out from being seen in her undergarments, with at least two of her friends examining her scars in their own ways – one trying to be subtle, and the other apparently not knowing what the word 'subtle' means.
"Like what you see?" Nagisa imagined that, if she had been wide awake, the question would have been asked in a faux flirty tone. Nagisa also imagined that she wouldn't have asked the question at all if she had been wide awake because she would have been freaking the hell out. Should have used a blanket.
"I know someone that does." Yaya answered, turning her head to look at their pink-haired kouhai.
"Shut up!" The blushing girl cried out in protest.
"Oh? Why? It's not like I accused you or anythi-" The bickering between the two Spican students was lost on Nagisa when she noticed that there was one more person in the room. The last person was standing near the closed door, completely shocked by what she was seeing. The realization that someone who didn't know about the real her was now seeing her in such a state finally dawned on Nagisa as she greeted the final person in the room.
Remember when I said I can't make a schedule for updates? Yeah, I think I've proven that poin-what? You don't remember? It's only been nine months!
I'M BACK, OH LOVELY READERS! Yeah, I didn't expect my return either. I was originally planning to have a chapter out by Christmas, but that totally didn't happen. I really don't have much excuse for not working on this at the time. Then my final semester at university started and some of the classes were WAAAY harder than I expected. Heck, I've probably only logged on like two or three times in the nine months I've been gone. But yeah, I've finally graduated, got my bachelor's, and now the job search is on!
For my return, I brought you guys a little bit of that oh so lovely drama. Did any of you expect an actual fight? I hope not. I'd like for my update schedule not to be the only thing that's unpredictable. I had originally planned to show the fight starting from Nagisa's perspective before it switched over to everyone in the office, but a storm knocked my internet out for a week (which is a totally crappy birthday present, mother nature), so I couldn't look up what was actually said and decided to fudge that idea. I think that part turned out well. Also, the reason everyone is referenced so formally is because it's from the head sister's perspective while in the office. I put everyone's full name the first time they were mentioned in case anyone forgot or didn't know a character's last name. Also, screw putting dashes over the o! I'm lazy!
Now for those reviews that I've been way too slow to respond to.
doodles – If one were to listen closely after Nagisa intruded, they would find that Nagisa had done little to actually ruin the mood. Perverts!
the cold raven – If I had answered that, I'd have totally lied. If this one took nine months, who knows when the next one will come?
KittyAttack – Oh. My. God. Perfect opportunity for a joke, completely wasted! I have failed!
silverFang – It's always the shy, quiet ones that you have to watch out for. Since they don't talk much, it gives them more time to think, and plot. Mwahaha
The Burning Hunter – It's not all lighthearted. I gotta throw in some drama to keep people on their toes. I'd like to think that there's some deep, complex underlying to an otherwise silly story, but I don't think my writing is on that kind of level.
Gnarled Bone – Pretty sure I'm the only one that should apologize for not updating. I have successfully resisted your puppy dog eyes! …but in this case, that's probably not what I should have done. Oops!
bogey654 – A book? Oh, that would never happen. It's easier to write a story when there's already some sort of foundation, like already existing characters and setting. If I tried to write this story from scratch with completely original characters…*shudders*
Guest – Oh, you and your poorly placed optimism. When I actually sit down and write, the chapters don't take that long. The problem is that I never really get to sit down and write, or I'm just a lazy arse.
2takuya – No, don't cry! My updates are inconsistent, but I've said before that I don't plan on abandoning this story. You'll just never know when it'll update, cuz I don't know either!
MYSTERY-SANCHAN – Totally didn't get what the name meant until I read your review. I must be getting old. Half a year? We've passed the ¾ mark now! It sounds like you, dear reader, have fallen victim to my evil ways. Mwahahaha! As for mystery girl, I have an idea of two possible people, depending on how the story goes later on, and I'm not gonna tell who they are. Neener neener!
Jeys17 – Guess what? I came back, baby.
Sad Person – Your name made me a sad person. I'm not dead…I think. Let's see. Pulse? Check. Heart beat? Check. Brain function? Uhh…close enough.