My second Hyouka story. Unlike my first one, this one is a lot more dramatic so you'll have to forgive me for that, and the fact that it's pretty rushed. Otherwise, enjoy!
A/N: Italicized sentences are Houtarou's thoughts.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hyouka.
Chapter 1. Why?
Pale, Winter morning sunlight filtered into Oreki Houtarou's room.
His alarm clock rang mercilessly as he begrudgingly took the effort to open his eyes, extend his arm, and turn it off. That's enough energy exertion for one day. He decided, allowing his arm to flop back down onto the bed. He closed his eyes again and tried to revert his mind back to the recesses of the dream he knew he had just been having. He did not fully remember it, but he knew it was somehow pleasant; perhaps he had been sleeping in his dream as well.
Dreaming about sleeping. The very rock bottom of energy exertion.
However, just before Houtarou could fall back into the comforting chasms of slumber, an annoyingly familiar voice rang out from the hallway.
"Hou~ta~rou~! Uppy, uppy!" His sister sang in that certain tone of voice that automatically put him on maximum defenses. She's too energetic for mornings. Houtarou was under the impression that if he just lay still and remain quiet, she would give up and go away, like a rabbit hiding from a hunter. "Houtarou? If you're not out here in 5 seconds, I'm coming in there and jumping on you~"
Che. Good luck. The door's locked.
"Oh my the door seems to be unlocked~"
"What?!" Houtarou leapt out of his warm covers the second he heard the doorknob click. He stood flustered as he faced his elder sister, the mischievous smile spread across her cheeks seemed to drain the energy from him.
"That's a good boy. Breakfast is ready~"
"Aneki..." he grumbled somewhat threateningly before she turned and left him. Unable to do anything else since he was now fully out of bed, Houtarou sighed and prepared to face the all-too-bright outside world.
He deconstructed his bedhead that seemed to get more and more ridiculous with each passing morning, before washing up and putting on his school uniform. The entire process took about 10 minutes, and when he arrived downstairs, his warm toast and eggs had lost their appeal. Oh well. It's the only fuel I'll get if I'm to spend energy today.
As he began eating, he contentedly noted the absence of his sister, but immediately began to grow suspicious. Slowly, he turned his head to glance behind him, but shockingly enough, she was not there, ready to pounce on him like a cougar. He was not about to ask aloud where she was, but before he could even wonder, he got his answer.
A dramatic, muffled sobbing was coming from the living room, accompanied by the distant sound of voices from the television. Soap operas this early? He glanced at the clock and decided to give himself another 5 minutes before he should head out, but perhaps 3 would be better, if it meant being able to avoid her exaggerated weeping.
Unfortunately for him, his miscalculation was probably what almost made him late to school that day.
Within the moment it took for him to finish his toast, Tomoe had already dashed into the kitchen, blubbering like a child who had lost her favorite toy.
"Houtarouuu!" She wailed.
"Whyy? Why are people so stupiiiid?" She whined.
"Wouldn't we all like to know."
"But it was so romantic as well! How can something so horrible be so romantic?"
"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm gonna be late-"
"I mean he pushed her out of the road so she wouldn't be hit by the car and he got hit instead! Why him? He was my favorite! I swear if they kill him off I'll-"
"That's great Aneki, I've gotta go."
"No, seriously." She slammed her hand on the table, preventing him from rising. Houtarou groaned. "Why are people so obsessed with self-sacrifice? Do they want to be honored or something? You're smart, aren't you?" That stung a bit. "Why would he do something like that? I mean, I know it's a drama but it happens in real life, too, right?"
"Aneki, I really-"
"Oh, come on. You're always making up theories for your Classic Club friends, right? Well without your dear Aneki-san here, you'd never have even met some of them," What a travesty that would have been. "So why can't you give me a theory too?"
"Because I'm late for school."
"And you're going to be even laterer if you don't at least try."
That's not a word, Aneki. And you graduated high school. As if able to read his mind, she gave an unscrupulous pout.
That was it. He was trapped. He knew from experience that there was no way he could escape unharmed after she made that face.
Heaving a huge, negatively-enthusiastic and unamused sigh, he began to think. Or, rather, he just used common sense to give her any kind of answer so that she would set him free.
"You said he pushed her out of the way, right?" He clarified. His sister nodded eagerly, tears still in her eyes. "Well that's just dumb. Sure, you get the other person out of the car's path, but you'd obviously replace them. Why not just pull them backward out of the way? I think that character was designed to die."
"Uwaah! My favorites always are!"
"Naturally." He agreed with her, simply for the sake of the already wasted time. "Maybe it was just momentum. But either way, I don't think this guy did it for any glory or anything. If he couldn't think to pull her back, then it was probably just reflex he ended up pushing her and getting hit himself."
"Hmm, really? Is there really nothing else to it? Maybe he really liked her or something!" She beamed. No, that's just your fangirl speaking.
"Were these characters married or in love?" He wondered.
"Nooo. Just friends."
"I rest my case. May I go now?"
"Well, since you've given me sufficient food for thought, then yes, Aneki shall allow it." She moved out of his way and he finally managed to stand. "Take your jacket. It might snow later." She advised.
Responding with an indifferent "mm", he slid into his off-white winter jacket, wrapped his tan scarf around his neck, grabbed his bag and unceremoniously left the house. He was running late now, thanks to his sister's tendencies to not care about other peoples' lives, so he was forced to quicken his pace against the frigid air.
Snow already blanketed the sidewalks and rooftops and Houtarou wished he was back in his room. He walked along the edge of the street where the black pavement was visible and he was less likely to get his shoes wet. He nearly slipped on black ice as he neared the school. Um, isn't this a bit too hazardous? He thought as he steadied himself. Continuing on, he somehow made it to class before the bell rang and let loose another sigh. Why did I get out of bed this morning?
Once classes had ended, Houtarou debated whether he should skip out on the club meeting and just go home and go back to sleep as soon as possible.
Yosh! If I can just sneak past Satoshi, I can do it.
Gathering his bag, he slipped into his coat and scarf before briskly heading for the hallway.
Damn. It. All.
There was something about the way Satoshi said his name...no. He was definitely doing it on purpose, because he knew Houtarou's ears were unable to avoid the way in which his elder sister called him. It was his body's natural defense to respond immediately, by either answering, or more commonly, getting away from there as soon as physically possible.
But his defenses backfired on Houtarou, causing him to hesitate just a second too long, allowing Satoshi to jump up from behind him and swing his arm around his neck. "Shall we be off to the club room then?" The goofy smile of the Magician beamed almost as brightly as his temptress of a sister's as Houtarou blinked and pulled away a bit.
"It's supposed to snow this evening." Houtarou tried to slink out of his friend's grip. "I should-"
"It's already snowing, Houtarou." Satoshi jabbed his thumb over his shoulder at the snowflake-clustered window as proof. "At this point, wouldn't it be better to wait it out?"
"Or I could leave now before it gets worse."
"You're so pessimistic."
"You're too optimistic."
"Aw come on." Satoshi urged. "Can you trust this database, just once? I promise you, it'll stop within the hour."
"And this is based on...?"
"Alright, let's goooo!" Without allowing another second for Houtarou to object, Satoshi grabbed him by the scarf and tugged him along.
"O-Oy, Satoshi! Gack-that's danger...ous..." Houtarou's protests were cut short as he was literally forced to follow his so-called 'friend' to the club room.
As he followed, unenthusiastically, Satoshi of course made a grand entrance and threw the door open with a loud bang, shouting "We're here!"
The girls were already present and visibly jumped at the sudden noise. Eru recovered quickly, the shock on her face instantly replaced by delight. It was as if she was on a time limit to greet people within 5 seconds or else she would forget who she was.
"Good afternoon, Fukube-san, Oreki-san." She got up from her seat and bowed politely. Is that really necessary?
Nautrally, Mayaka was far less forgiving. "Geez, you guys nearly gave us heart attacks!" She glared accusingly at them, mainly Houtarou, for some reason or another.
"You look fine to me." He mumbled. She snorted and turned back to the table and her textbooks. Eru took her seat once more as the boys did likewise, Houtarou keeping his jacket on due to his strong dislike of the cold.
As the other three chattered aimlessly, Houtarou could not even bring himself to pull out a book and attempt to read. At almost the same time, the girls looked his way, a pair of amethyst and rose-quartz irises directed his way from directly and diagonally across from him as they asked,
"What's the matter with you?"
"Is something wrong, Oreki-san?"
He could not help but grimace at the painful difference between their methods of speech.
"It's Winter." He replied simply. "We should be hibernating right now. Or at least migrated to someplace warmer."
"...What are you, a bear?" Mayaka replied, unamused.
"I think they set quite the brilliant example to follow." He defended.
"Yeah, I know what you mean." Satoshi surprisingly backed up his fellow male. "Today was just one of those morning where you didn't wanna get out of bed, huh?" He reminisced.
"Really?" Eru's high voice chimed in. "I felt quite awake this morning..."
That's because you have no human limitations when it comes to energy.
"Sometimes I wish I could be as active as you are, Chii-chan." Mayaka sighed.
I could live without it, thanks very much. Houtarou menatlly put in his unwanted opinion.
"Say, what are you studying, Chitanda-san?" Satoshi asked, leaning over to see her text books.
"The Law of Conservation of Energy."
Houtarou probably could have gone into nirvana from the complete bliss he felt upon hearing those words.
"The Law of Life." He added.
"Creepy..." Mayaka gave him a disgusted look to which he glared back at.
The trio, excluding Houtarou who merely tried to keep warm in his jacket, continued on with their daily conversations and study sessions for about another thirty minutes, until Satoshi spoke up,
"Ah, see? I told you it'd stop within an hour." He announced smugly as he directed their attention to the window. The snowfall had almost completely stopped as the gray evening moved in, however the roads and sidewalks were now covered in new layers.
"Good. I'm leaving then." Houtarou said bluntly as he picked up his bag and stretched his arms a bit, adjusting his scarf to cover his chin. As if on cue, the other three packed away their books and slipped their jackets on.
"Chii-chan your trench coat is so cute!" Mayaka pratically squealed.
Looks like a normal trench coat to me.
"Thank you. Yours looks very warm." She replied modestly, tucking her pale pink scarf under her long, ebony hair.
"I'm pretty sure they give each other almost the same compliments every day." Houtarou muttered half to himself. Satoshi overheard and shrugged.
Once the four of them had packed up, they headed out together into the freezing outside air. Houtarou shuddered involuntarily. In contrast, Eru let out a rather loud "brr!" as she hugged her arms. Despite this action, she energetically announced, "It's so refreshing!"
"How could you think that?" Houtarou muttered, still finding it hard to believe in her never-ending positive energy.
"I've always appreciated the cold because it keeps me awake!" She smiled as if she would win some kind of award.
"Do you ever sleep?" Houtarou wondered.
"Do you not like the cold, Oreki-san?" She wondered innocently.
"How could you tell?"
"Hey, don't be mean." Mayaka butted in. "Chii-chan," she immediately directed her voice to the other girl, as if speaking to him any longer would be somehow poisonous. "What about your bike?"
"Eh?" Eru turned around before replying thoughtfully. "Ah. I didn't bring it today. When it snows like this, my father would rather I walk than risk skidding." Houtarou unconsciously nodded his head in agreement, not at all liking the thought of her crashing into something due to ice.
"Huh? Isn't that a really long way for you to walk by yourself, though?" Mayaka objected.
"I've done it enough times before." Eru smiled simply.
That was something Houtarou could not let go of. He felt a small flicker of anxiety at the thought of her walking by herself on such a cold evening. He bounced back into reality as he realized Mayaka was glaring at him, and Satoshi was smiling his trademark smile.
"What?" Houtarou asked defensively.
"Chii-chan! Oreki says he'll walk you home!"
"Hah?!" He could not believe the words that had just flown so carelessly out of this girl's mouth.
Eru stopped in her tracks and turned back to look at him, obviously taken aback at the sudden suggestion.
"Eh? Oh, n-no! I couldn't possibly put you through so much trouble, Oreki-san!" She threw her hands up in front of her chest, flustered.
See? See? There's no need for me to-
"Come on, Chitanda-san, it'd be his honor."
I'm going to kill you, Satoshi.
His friend merely nudged him with his elbow and gave a wink. Moron! What's that supposed to mean? Houtarou bit back the words as his eyes focused on Eru. Her hands were clasped tightly before her chest and her face was angled downward, a faint red blush on her cheeks, most likely from the cold.
"No, Oreki-san has to get home as well, and it's far too long a walk to my house and back to his. I really could not accept such an offer..." her voice had begun to trail off until she suddenly gasped. "I-I mean, unless it would inconvenience you for me not to!" She squeaked, letting a bit of her wealthy discourse show.
"Well, actually-" Satoshi began speaking but Houtarou roughly knocked the back of his head with his knuckles.
"Don't listen to these idiots." Was what he had been about to say, but Houtarou found the words dying on his tongue as he was captivated by two pools of shimmering amethyst. He could tell that she truly did not want to inconvenience him from the bottom of her heart. Yet there was something else hiding in her eyes, some emotion that seemed to say, 'but if it wouldn't inconvenience you, I wouldn't mind...'
Despite his annoyance at the troublesome, tiresome idea of walking her home, Houtarou opened his mouth to speak.
"It's fine, Oreki-san. I know you don't like to do things if you don't have to. It's your motto after all." The perfect smile remained on her face as thought she was completely unbothered by walking home alone so late in the evening. However, even if she were unbothered by it, Houtarou could accept that he ever would be. He glanced at Satoshi who sheepishly mouthed 'you don't have anything else to do, right?'
Houtarou's eyes flashed back to the girl walking ahead of him, her slim figure seeming to struggle through the ankle deep snow with the weight of her schoolbag. Houtarou glared daggers at Satoshi and Mayaka as he passed them by, to which they both smiled delightedly back at. Without looking back at them or even saying goodbye, Houtarou caught up to Eru.
"Let's go." He mumbled.
"E-Eh?" She blinked up at his profile several times but he merely continued walking straight ahead. "W-Wait, Oreki-san! Ah, f-farewell Mayaka-san, Fukube-san! I'll see you tomorrow!" She hurriedly bowed before trotting back to Houtarou's side with a little more bounce in her step that usual.
Houtarou continued to grumble under his scarf as Mayaka and Satoshi waved them off from behind, no doubt poking fun at him all the while. Therefore, he was extremely thankful to Eru's unawareness of the situation the troublesome two they had left behind had created.
Unlike the mocking pair, Eru strode on beside him happily, as if everything was right in all the world. In fact, she seemed a bit too happy, to him. She kept quiet as she walked beside him on the snowy sidewalk, her breath billowing softly before her.
They continued on in silence for a few moments as Houtarou's anger died down and vanished altogether by simply stealing glances at her from the corner of his eye. When about five minutes had passed, he noticed her begin to lag behind and her easy breathing turned into a ragged panting she did her best to conceal, but to no avail.
"What's wrong?" He asked, stopping for a moment.
"N-Nothing..." she gasped. "I...I just think Oreki-san's legs are a bit longer than mine..." She confessed.
"Ah." Now that she mentioned it, he did noticed that she was clutching the strap of her bag tightly on her shoulder, her feet buried in show, whereas it only reached the side of his shoes. "Sorry."
"No! There's certainly no need for you to apologize!" She shook her head vigorously. "I'm the one who made you come along so-"
"No, you're not. I chose to come with you." Well not really, but in the end I guess I did.
"Eh? Ah..." His words seemed to silence her for some reason or another and she looked down again. "Okay."
Houtarou checked to make sure she had caught her breath efficiently before he started walking again, this time matching her pace evenly. They neared a crosswalk and waited for the light to turn green.
"Careful. There might be ice." He warned as they stepped onto the hard, frost-covered pavement. Eru nodded determinedly and he almost let slip a chuckle as she did so.
That morning, when his sister had told him about the drama she had been watching, Houtarou had formed a basic image in his mind.
But now, as he crossed the road, he never would have expected to see such a scene so terrifyingly clearly.
As they walked slowly across the frozen street, he was so focused on waiting for her to catch up that extra step that he had no idea what had happened until it was too late.
Suddenly, an earsplitting screeching noise sounded from behind as a car rounded the corner.
There was absolutely no time to react; or so he thought.
Without really thinking at all, Houtarou shoved Eru to the other side of the street with all his strength as the car tried to stop in time, but the tires skidded on the ice beneath. He squeezed his eyes shut and heard a loud thud before everything went completely numb. He was thrown across the street and landed in a pile of snow.
At least, that was how it should have happened.
That was what he thought was supposed to happen in his mind.
But it did not.
Something a million times worse happened instead.
He heard her scream his name beside him, and without even a second to blink, he felt her small body against his, pushing him forward with all of her might. He stumbled forward and fell to his knees in the snow, his bag landed several feet away.
He heard a dull thud and he froze entirely.
Right before him, he watched in horrified terror as the car skidded and crashed into her.
It was as if his mind was covered with a veil, telling him that none of this was actually real.
But it was.
Her body was tossed onto the sidewalk like a broken doll several yards away from him, the contents of her bag strewn haphazardly across the street.
Several onlookers shrieked, grabbed their phones, ran away. But none of that mattered.
Houtarou felt completely hollow as he forced himself to his feet. His legs were shaking so badly he could hardly move himself forward, but his eyes were fixed on her crumpled figure, lying on her side, her scarf and her hair pooling into the snow, along with something else.
As he neared her, he collapsed to his knees as he stared at her back; from beneath her head, a red liquid was staining the snow.
He lost all sense of time and touch and feeling as he blankly, numbly stared at her unmoving figure.
He wanted to reach out and touch her, to feel her warmth. He wanted to see her push herself up and smile up at him while hearing her say "I'm okay!" He wanted to see her open those beautiful amethyst eyes. But none of those things happened.
For a long moment, he could not even manage to speak. He felt something hot forming behind his eyes as he finally forced out a hoarse voice.
"Chitanda..." he croaked. "Oy..." He gently placed a hand on her shoulder, expecting her to jump up and blush a bit, but she did not even flinch. He was not even sure if she was breathing. "Chitanda? Oy. This isn't funny..." without fully knowing what he was saying, Houtarou continued to let words spill from his mouth. He did not even notice when the tears began dripping from his eyes, staining her coat with tiny, dark circles.
He did not hear the ambulance arriving.
He did not hear the police officer when he asked him questions.
All he could do was watch as they took her away.
His mouth would only produce one word.
And his mind would only think one question:
A/N: This is probably only going to be a 2-shot, so chapter 2 will be up next week! Again, I apologize it feels so rushed.