Inaba Chorus 1: Yasogami School Days
A/N: Warning! POV change to Second Person. Expect a bit of adjusting to reading a bunch of "you"s if you're not familiar with Second Person Point of View.
Melpomene Mask XII
April 26th, Samegawa Floodplain, Morning
You are Yosuke Hanamura, and you are having a bad week.
You thought that life had finally given you a break for once after you had awakened your inner Persona Jiraiya, joined forces with Shirou and Satonaka, and braved the frontier of Teddie's world to save Yukiko Amagi. Yes, it was the adventure of a lifetime like your Shadow said, but it was all for a good cause. You were no longer the world's punching bag and it felt great to take a stand against it and all who had pissed on you in the past.
But there were no Shadows in the real world. No murder cases to solve. No need for action or superheroes. In boring old Inaba, you were still just Yosuke Hanamura, and people had no reason to change their actions around him.
Housewives still gossip behind your back, students from the shopping district avoid you like the plague, and your coworkers at Junes only pay attention to you if they had something to bitch about on store policies. In short, life as usual.
And you still have to go to school too, which sucks. But today, you hear a few of your fellow classmates talking ahead. "Did you hear? They found Amagi-senpai."
You feel a surge of pride and accomplishment, being one of the few responsible for rescuing the school idol. Yes, it was a team effort, but they couldn't have done it without you.
"Huh, really?" the other student asked. "So, does that mean she wasn't part of the case?"
"How should I know?" the talkative one replied. "I just heard people talking about it."
Your pride soon gives way to annoyance. They didn't sound happy at all that Yukiko Amagi was rescued, let alone cared. They were gossiping about the murder case as usual.
"You think Amagi-senpai might have been the next target after Konishi-senpai?" one of the gossipers asked. "The culprit must be going after people for their looks."
"No way," his friend dismissed. "Those two are completely different. I mean, one's an inn heiress that's pretty much royalty around here, and the other's a tramp who—"
Suddenly aware of the implication, you are about ready to snap and show some Jiraiya-fu on the dumbass freshmen, consequences (or King Moron) be damned. But before you can, another student briskly walks past you from behind, and then the gossipers. They both pale and promptly clamp their mouths shut as soon as they see him.
As soon as he was out of earshot, they changed topics. "B-by the way, did you hear that it's going to rain tonight?"
You don't care about the idiot gossipers anymore. You're more concerned about that boy. You've never seen that kid before, yet you can't help but find him familiar. Maybe if you had gotten a closer look before he rushed past you…
June 7th, Homeroom
You have a plan. A devious plan. One that will make the most out of this sucky ass camping trip coming up, even if it kills you. All you need is to borrow Shirou for five minutes while you both browse the swimsuit area for women at Junes.
But that idea hit an impromptu roadblock.
"Emiya! Hanamura!" the demon king's voice bellowed. You were just about to sneak out of the room when he saw fit to call you both. Shirou happened to still be in his seat getting ready to leave too. "Do you know what day it is?"
Shirou, your friend, your team leader, possible eroge protagonist in another life, stated the obvious. "June 7th?"
"And what's important about June 7th?" the King of Morons asked patiently.
You ponder over it, and then snap your fingers. "Araki's birthday!"
Moron and Shirou look at you funny. You would expect the former not to get it, but you can't help but wonder what kind of life the latter has to be so ignorant…
"It's Health Week!" your teacher said. "And last I checked, you two aren't part of the Student Health Association! Do you know what that makes you?"
"Unaffiliated?" Shirou shrugs.
"Out of here?" You quip, already turning to leave.
"Slackers! And I hate lazy, good-for-nothing kids wasting space in my classroom! So I signed you both up to fill in for a few absentees."
"WHAT?!" you screech. "You can't just drop this on me–us! –like this! I have to go make my rounds at Junes for crying out loud!"
"You can go shopping for lingerie on your own damn time!" he dismisses you scathingly. You bite your tongue off to avoid ranting because chances are he's not going to listen. He doesn't seem to care whether you work at Junes or not, if he implied you wasted time shopping there. Not that you really want to correct him that on what you had planned to do there today…
"You big city boys are all so damn spoiled! Well, tough! At this school, we expect every student to pitch in! Or are you not man enough to do something as simple as stock inventory?"
You see three options in your head:
1. Punch him.
2. Punch harder.
3. Kick him in the nads.
You are SO tempted to pick number three, but for your sake, Shirou once again saves the day. "We'll be on our way."
"Good," Moron nodded; he seems to have grown a sort of soft spot for Shirou Emiya of all people, but he'd rather die than admit that out loud. "Now hurry up to the infirmary. I went ahead and called them saying that you'd be there. You're welcome!"
And with that, the fugly-faced teacher with a hunch stormed off, leaving you both mad and crushed. Why today of all days?
Shirou just smiled and patted your shoulder reassuringly. "Let's go."
You didn't know what to expect, but as it turned out, the Health Association group really did need all the help it could get; because the ones in charge reminded you way too much of two certain Junes employees. Always complaining, didn't care about the work, and always tried to dump everything on you the first chance they could get.
It was startling that as soon as you and Shirou walked through the door, the group left both of you on infirmary guard duty while they pranced around the school to see if "anyone needs help" or something. If anyone should be thanking King Moron, it was them, not you.
The only thing of interest that happened was some white-collared businessman (Kitano from Sando Inc. or something?) and saying that the gauze order wouldn't come in for another month or two. Luckily Shirou remembered all that when he relayed it to the health team.
At this point, you don't even care what they're talking about. You haven't done anything since coming here, short of playing secretary. Shirou, bless his heart, doesn't seem to mind or care, and still hung on their talk like he's part of the group and ready to help. The custodian has found his calling, it seems.
All you hear right now is:
"Blah, blah blah. Blah blah blah."
"Blah, blah Konishi blah blah."
You snap your head up and look at Shirou. He stares back with the same shocked expression that tells you, "Yes Yosuke, I heard him too."
Konishi is the surname as the late Saki, your coworker and… friend, from before.
"Oh yeah, Konishi-kun." The Health Association president nodded sadly. "He can't help it, after what happened…"
"He"? Oh, that's right; Saki told you once that she had a younger brother. Were they talking about him?
It was at that moment the door opened. Everyone stopped talking and stared. It reminded you of that little incident on the road after saving Amagi, and you recognize him as the same kid from before. You also saw Saki's likeness in him: the slanted eyes, the grey hair, the facial structure… but instead of a smile you had grown used to on Saki's face, his expression was stoic and rigid. Blank. Almost like he could fade into the background without anyone noticing.
And given how nervous and skittish the health group was acting now, they probably wished that he was anywhere but here. Which is weird, as not just a minute ago they were complaining about him. What was their deal?
"I'm sorry I'm late," Saki's brother said as he stepped inside.
"I-it's okay, Konishi-kun!" the president said rather quickly. "You don't have to come anymore, really! We found two replacements to fill in for you, and you have to help out in your parents' shop anyway!"
"But I don't want to be the only one…" he trailed off, too melancholic to even finish the sentence.
"Well, then… help out Emiya-kun and Hanamura-kun clean up this room!" You almost miss it, but Saki's brother twitched at hearing your surname. That was one of two warning flags going off in your head.
"Wait," you speak up. "You mean help the rest of us, right?"
"Someone has to go report to the teacher," one of the health kids explained.
And there was the second one.
"It's simple! You clean a little, and you're done. Y-you can handle that, right?" Without so much as waiting for a response, they move for the door as the depressed grey-haired teen stepped aside. "Bye, guys!"
They quickly leave the room and you hear them all but run after closing the door behind them. Leaving you stuck in this room with clean-up duty and a moody, upset teen.
To be fair, you can't really blame them for wanting to bolt as quickly as they did. You certainly don't want to be near him, and he shared that sentiment from the way he refused to meet your eyes.
You don't think that you would be able to handle this without Shirou around, if for nothing else than moral support. "Nice to meet you, Konishi," he smiled and extended his hand in greeting. "I'm Shirou Emiya; just transferred here from Fuyuki City this year."
He just stares at it before looking up to Shirou's smiling face. Then he turns toward you, as if expecting you to say something.
…you feel like you should, but you don't know what.
"Y-Yosuke Hanamura," you finally squeak out. "And you must be—"
"Saki's brother, yes. First year," he says, with a hint of annoyance. Then his face shows the first bit of emotion ever since stepping in— anger. "And I hate you. Both of you."
You wince. Shirou's arm pulls back. Not a very good start, but you figure that you deserve it anyway. You may have not been the one to kill Saki Konishi, but you sure as hell made her personal life worse getting worked up over a crush.
Thinking back, you really were a pain in the ass. Still kind of are, too. You're sitting there feeling awkward as the silence drags on, and then the brother breaks it as if he didn't snap at all.
"Can I go now?" he asks lazily. You're confused; earlier he said that he wanted to work, but now he wants to get out? That doesn't make any sense.
Shirou mulls it over a moment, and then nods. "Sure." Saki's brother is already making his way for the door—
But you call out and tell him, "After you help us clean this place."
Both Shirou and Saki's brother stare at you. Your friend is confused and concerned regarding your reasoning, and the young freshman seems to challenge you.
"I have to help out at home," he explains. "It's a mess… you understand, right?"
Of course you understand; you know how Saki really died and are doing everything in your power to prevent her death from happening to anyone else. But it's been two months since she passed away, and he's acting more or less the same as you saw him on that odd April morning. You can't just let this continue on.
You want to help Saki's brother, at least to make it up to her in some way.
"If you're really needed back home, you wouldn't be here," you counter. "And didn't you just say you wanted to help?"
He stares at you for a long moment. You almost forget that Shirou is in the same room until he says, "I'll get the mop."
That seemed to be the right thing to say as Saki's brother shrugs and holds out his hand. "Get me a rag and I'll do the shelves."
Between the three of you, you clean the shit out of that infirmary. None of you talk the whole time and eventually go your own separate ways when you're done… and when it was painfully obvious that the Health Association group was long gone.
Thalia Mask XI
June 4th, Faculty Office, After School
You are Chie Satonaka, and you sometimes play a hero for fun.
But right now, you're in the faculty office with Kondo-sensei to decide what after school club you want to join. It's kind of a requirement for Yasogami students to join at least one cultural and/or sports club, but the options don't look so good in your opinion. Your best friend Yukiko had talked about trying out for drama, but you don't see yourself as an actress. You're not pretty enough for that.
You wish that there were better sports options, but the fact is that Yasogami High is a small high school in a small country town. The men's sports are limited to soccer and basketball, and they aren't very popular. There used to be some girl sports clubs like tennis and track, but a lack of members and general interest saw to them being disbanded for the year.
"Don't you have an English culture club?" You ask hopefully. If you need to take a club, you want to improve your language skills.
Kondo-sensei shrugs apologetically. "I barely have the credentials to teach English, and I'm more of a P.E. teacher and sponsor for the sports clubs. I don't want to overload myself by stretching too far!"
You slump your head down, discouraged.
"Well, maybe there's something we can do," he said. "Our current sports teams lack managers. It's something both captains have argued about because none of the members have the motivation to even clean up after themselves."
You perk up. "Really? Can I work out with the team too?"
"Sure, why not?" You like Kondo-sensei; he's so carefree and open-minded. Why couldn't he have been your homeroom teacher? "You're free to do whatever you deem necessary working with the team of your choice. Oh, and I should mention that we are planning on giving another student a similar position, but as a means for her to make up on missed credit. Since you asked first, she'll be given the club you don't pick by default."
Oh, well, at least one club won't be left hanging. But who would be forced in such a position in the first place?
"So, would you like to help the basketball team, or the soccer team?"
You ponder over it. You remember that Ichijo-kun and Nagise are the respective captains of each team. You don't necessarily dislike either boy, though you do know that Nagise has a serious aversion to girls and Ichijo-kun is another Yukiko fanboy. If you are going to be a team captain, you need to decide which you would rather put up with for the rest of the year. Not to mention how both teams have problems in motivation and team spirit, not unlike what doomed the women's sports.
Will be it basketball or soccer? Soccer, or basketball?
You decide to settle your decision with a yen coin flip.
June 7th, Field, After School
It's your first new day as the soccer team manager, and you introduce yourself. "Hi! I'm Chie Satonaka! I look forward to working with you guys!"
Everyone is smiling at you, even Nagise. With confidence, Kondo-sensei leaves to check on the basketball club and introduce their own new manager. As soon as he does, almost all the soccer guys swarm around you a little too close for comfort. You flinch back in reflex, barely stopping yourself from snapping a forward kick at the nearest set of legs.
"So, Chie-chan, you want to hang out after practice?"
"Actually, can we end practice now? You're a guy like us, right?"
"Can you help do our laundry first?"
You fight the urge to frown. While very flattered that you're being given the kind of attention that follows Yukiko around, what you're getting doesn't feel right. Well, you never like how the guys hounding your best friend acted either, but the guys here are treating you like you'll give them cheat-sheets out of practice.
You fight dangerous Shadows that can kill you with ease, and these wusses are afraid a little labor and sweat. How pathetic.
To get their attention, you blow on your whistle (a little something you bought to really drive home the image as soccer manager). The shrill noise makes all of them stagger back while covering their ears with a wince.
"Okay, that's enough soliciting!" you shout. "I'm in charge, and you are all going to start working your asses off! Now get in formation and start with team passing!"
"Wait, what about—?"
You blow again. Harder, and longer this time. The boys all scramble in position, grumbling in annoyance.
Good. You're here to shape up a team, not make friends.
The practice ends on a good note in your opinion. The guys are grumbling about pain and sore joints, but exercise is all about pushing your body further each time and getting stronger for it. The soccer team has been too complacent until now, and you're going to have to make up some lost time this early spring. You take the time to write down notes on your clipboard about each member's strengths; Hanamura calls your writing illegible but you traded these with Yukiko all the time.
The only spectator that showed up was a first-year girl who came to watch Daisuke Nagase play. She stayed and cheered for a while before leaving. Nagase didn't seem to notice or care, and was outright dismissive when the guys teased him about it.
After practice, you made sure to tell each and every one of them to clean up the field. Any complaints they made were silenced by your whistle.
The only one still left in the now clean field is Daisuke Nagase, with his tan skin and iconic bandage-over-the-nose look. He is grinning from ear to ear as he pats your back. "Man, you're a natural, Satonaka-kun! We might actually win a game for once."
"I appreciate it Nagase," you tell him. "But soccer is a team sport, and everyone needs to pull their own weight. I suppose I don't need to tell you, the star player, how to work, right?"
"Yeah, yeah," he shrugged it off, almost indifferent.
"Hey, Daisuke! Are you up for some ra…?"
Coming from your six, you see the blue-haired captain Kou Ichijo approach you two and wave in greeting. His voice trails off as he glances at you. "Ch-Chie-chan? What are you doing here?!"
"I'm acting as the new soccer team's manager," you shrug. "It was Kondo-sensei's idea."
"Seriously?" He sounds both incredulous and disappointed, as he then sighs and dips his head in defeat. "I wish our team manager was half as enthusiastic, at least."
"Who do you have?"
"Ai Ebihara." You and Nagase both winced in sympathy. "She flat out told us the only reason she took the job was to make up for her absences before blowing us off."
You've heard rumors about Ebihara. The moon to Yukiko's sun. Witty and smart, yet cruel and abrasive. Pretty on the outside, stingy on the inside. Possesses full confidence in her looks and actions, but ultimately rebels and acts on personal interest.
Or the too-long-didn't-read version: Ebihara's a cold-hearted bitch.
Still, she is popular, so she must have some sort of fanbase. But even knowing how sour a person she is, they must either have the delusion of making her nice, enjoy being dominated or something of that nature. Maybe if you had that image too… Gah, no, get your head out of the gutter! No more Shadow Bananas!
"Man, just for going through that, you deserve an Aiya special," Nagase said, before turning to you. "What do you say, manager? Up for some ramen?"
You perk up at the mention of Aiya and ramen. No Junes brand stuff or Hanamura trying to bail out on a deal. You're faintly aware of Ichijo paling and trying to say something, but you don't care. You want a meat bowl supreme. "I'd love to!"
You are in blissful, euphoric heaven. Or at least somewhere close enough. And no, it's not because you're sitting between two admittedly cute guys and having dinner together; that kind of crap is for cheesy girl-centric romance manga. No, you're here only for food, as it has been too long since you had a yummy bowl of meat and ramen.
You still haven't beaten the Rainy-Day Challenge, with food going as far as the Meat Dimension, but one day you'll accomplish it. Until then, practice makes perfect, and you're making good time on this meal so far.
"Mmmmhm! This is the best!" you cry.
From your right, Nagase laughs. "Glad you think so. We try to eat here at least once a week, but can never decide on what day to do it. Our practice times never align, you see."
From your left, Ichijo-kun groans. "You can't just decide something like that right away, Daisuke. We barely have enough money for ourselves here."
"It's cool, I can pay for myself," you waved it off. And you mean it. Your allowance was just enough to see a good 'ol Aiya bowl once a week, so long as you don't do something stupid again like break an umbrella or ruin the shoji door. Maybe you could try commissioning for a weighted umbrella weapon next time?
"Man, look at you, acting all independent now!" Nagase said. "And here I thought you'd be stuck in Amagi's shadow forever."
Luckily your mouth was full; gulping food down was no different from gulping down your fears and anxieties, or that roller coaster of emotions from the castle. Yukiko eloping, the princess fantasies, your Shadow going on and on about Yukiko and Emiya-kun…
They're bad memories, and you don't want to think back on them again.
"What are you talking about? Of course I'm my own girl!" But that doesn't mean you can't be miffed at the idea that you have no social life.
"I think what Daisuke is trying to say"—Ichijo smiles—"is how nice it is to see you without Amagi-san all the time."
You glare suspiciously at him. "So you can try and ask Yukiko out, you mean."
Ichijo's face blanches, to your small satisfaction. "Th-that's not it at all!"
You don't buy it. Next to Yukiko's family, the Ichijo family is the closest thing that Inaba has to royalty. Tea ceremonies, traditions and customs, the works. Whenever you hang out with your other friends like Hanamura and Nagase, he's nice and cool and friendly. You actually found him cute at one point while watching him play basketball last year.
But whenever he bumps into Yukiko, he gets all tongue-tied trying to say something like a confession or asking for a date. You were there each time and made it clear to him not to ask her out again, but he keeps persisting even when he said he wouldn't. You never trust a guy alone with Yukiko, and Ichjio is no exception.
Still, you're vaguely aware of what Emiya-kun told you the other day. "Give him a chance," he said. It's weird, as it's not like the magus knows Ichijo any better than she does, but he seems to find the good in anyone. Probably because of that Social Link perk he also mentioned before.
You can trust Ichijo at least… just not anywhere around Yukiko. There's a difference.
"She's outta your league anyway, man," Nagase reminded him. Ichijo glares back, but you smile at your star player for his agreement. "Why not ask that girl from our class? Sada… Saki… whatever, you know the one."
"Oh? Ichijo-kun has a girlfriend?"
"A real doting fan, this one. She keeps making sweets in Home Ec., saying stuff like 'I made these for you, Kou-chan!' "
You and Nagase laugh. It was all in good fun, as while you don't like the idea of Yukiko and Ichijo being an item, you think he's a decent enough guy who deserves a girlfriend. It was kind of sweet that he had someone call him Kou-chan, too.
Only Ichijo-kun wasn't laughing. He was sighing. "You don't like sweets?" you asked him.
"Nah, I like sweets just fine," he shook his head. "I just wish all the girls would stop calling me 'Kou-chan'. I mean, Kou's such a crappy name. I hate my name."
"Yukiko: how I hated that name."
You cringe. That little admission hit too close to home, going right back to Yukiko's Shadow.
Nagase shrugs in a very insensitive manner. "Well, what are you gonna do?" Then he protects his newly bruised abdomen in a very unmanly manner. "OW!"
"I think what Nagase is trying to say," you explain as you pull your elbow back, "is that you don't need to think too deeply about the name meaning something. I mean, my name has so many different ways it can be written, but I'm stuck with the kanji that means 'thousand branches'. I stopped trying to figure out what that meant years ago."
Ichijo looks at you in bemusement. You're not sure what you're trying to say either, but if I could cheer up Yukiko about her name then you can do the same for him.
"You're a nice guy, a skilled athlete, and pretty easy on the eyes too. But if you're still upset about being called your given name, I guess I'm stuck with calling you Ichijo-kun."
Ichijo blushes, to your faint surprise. But he smiles too and seems to have cheered up again. "Th-thanks, Chie-chan. That means a lot."
It was nothing really, but it still feels good to be praised on a job well done.
Aside from plans on future club meetings and when to meet up at Aiya's again, the three of you eat in comfortable silence. It was a nice change of pace from the Investigation Team, not having to worry about life-threatening Shadows and monsters.
Being a team manager is going to be a piece of cake!
Melpomene Mask XIX
May 26th, Spare Classroom, After School
You are Yukiko Amagi, a new rising star.
Yesterday you had purchased a book all about job licenses. You certainly intend to apply yourself as an interior decorator, but building different skills and a wide range of options is ideal for a good résumé, and it pays to have a back-up plan. So instead of wood shop or home economics, you join the drama cultural club.
You arrive at the door of the classroom where they host the club, but hesitate. You briefly wonder how taking up acting will affect your schedule around the inn, but find the concern to be silly. You plan to strike out on your own in the future, so if you can't make little choices like these, you really will be stuck in Inaba forever.
Besides, after what happened with your kidnapping, the inn staff has been reorganized, and your mother fully recovered. You take a moment to compose yourself, and with a determined nod, you go inside.
"…Now let's move on to tongue twisters," you hear a voice say as you slowly close the door behind you. You walk in further, but softly to not draw attention from their on-going practice. "Ready? The sixth chick cheek's shixth cheep… Argh!"
"The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick!" A brisk voice cuts in, so fast and yet nuancing their s's perfectly. "You're still not saying it correctly. Are you sure you're the club president?"
You see a small group of students gathered around, more girls than boys. The one that strikes you the most is a girl with short dark hair with a green tint, and a light blue hairclip over her right bangs. She's wearing the typical school uniform, only with a slightly longer skirt and knee-high socks. She notices you first, with wide grey eyes and a growing smile.
Eventually all the other club members do too, as they stare and gossip amongst themselves.
"Wow, is that Yukiko-chan?!"
"Miss Amagi is joining our club?"
"Holy crap! She's looking right at me!"
"She looks so pretty in person…"
"Where do you think she bought that sweater?"
You feel a little self-conscious from all the attention, especially as it seems like the girls are talking almost like the boys Chie warned you about. What have you ever done to warrant a "Princess Yukiko Challenge" anyway?
"Quiet down, everyone!" A stern voice cut through the room, and its speaker, a bespectacled male, walks over to you. "Yukiko Amagi, I'm President Nagai. It's a pleasure to have you join us. Welcome to the drama club!"
He quickly introduces the other members in the club, who all greet you with mutual enthusiasm.
"Thank you," you reply. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
"Not at all. We're just practicing today, and our main play isn't set until the end of the year," Nagai explained. "Just try to catch all future meetings every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and you'll be fine."
"Don't worry about meeting every day, either," another girl spoke up, also wearing glasses. "We won't kick you out, but the more you train, the better you get at impressions, expressions and stuff."
"Thank you, miss…?" you ask, as you don't quite remember her name yet.
"Oh, Mika's fine," she says quickly. "I'm the vice president, by the way. I don't see myself as much help though, or very good…"
The president quickly turned to her with a smile. "That's okay, Mi-tan. I know you put a lot of effort into the club. And you're so cute too."
"Don't call me Mi-tan in front of everyone!" the vice president scolded in a tone that was embarrassed… yet teasingly affectionate. And they seem to be in their own little world staring into each other's eyes.
Huh. So this is what Chie calls "sickening sweethearts."
Rolling her eyes, the brisk student grabs your hand and leads you to a corner of the room. You remember her name being Yumi Ozawa. "Forget about them. You need all the practice you can get, so let's get cracking."
"N-now?!" This was happening a little too fast for your liking!
"Hey, no time like the present! Now, let's go over our voice lessons."
You quickly find Ozawa to be an inspiring teacher and expert in drama. She explains things in a simple and easy to understand manner. Even when you make mistakes she quickly and gently corrects you.
You were both so involved in your perfected breathing that you fail to notice everyone else has left. Seeing no reason to stay any longer, you say goodbye to Ozawa and head home.
You give your parents slight worry coming home late,, but then you quickly pick up late night duties, homework, and cooking practice. You've been surrounded by teachers and knowledgeable peers all your life, and it seems weird that you only started to notice after what happened in April.
As grateful as you are, you can't be a porcelain princess forever, and will have to move out of this town one day. Until then, you make sure to learn every important self-sufficient skill that you can.
June 2nd, Amagi Inn
"Auuuugh," you sigh as you collapse onto your bed, naked sans towel. If there's a perk of owning a hot-springs inn, it is having access to its very soothing water after a long day, even indoors with showers and built-in bathtubs. Unfortunately, you were so tired and ready to doze off at a moment's notice that you couldn't stay in longer.
You were very lucky today. You almost died, trying to save Rise-chan. It never occurred to you until that moment about the very real danger of facing Shadows, and you were a kidnappee just a few months ago. The water has helped in soothing your aches and pains that didn't carry over to the next world. But you were still full of stress and anxiety that couldn't be washed away in a single bath.
If only you were stronger, or better in control. You slipped up at a funny joke that the Shadow made, and Emiya-kun rightfully reprimanded you. You attacked the Shadow with Sakuya's strongest flames only to get blindsided by a counter-spell of ice. You were helpless when a second Megidola was all but ready to turn you into ash, and saw your life flash before your eyes.
And in that moment, you realized how much your friends, inn staff, and especially parents worried about you. How they cried when Chie carried you limping through the door. How they hugged and kissed you and uttered "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" over and over as if they were blaming themselves. You had almost caused anguish to them all over again by rushing to your demise.
But it was better than living with the fact that Rise would have died. You don't regret your choice to fight, just your inability. At the very least, if you can't stop the Shadows on your own power, you'll make sure that no one else dies on your watch.
You owe this to your friends who saved you before, and especially Emiya-kun and Teddie who pulled off a victory at the last moment. For all his flirting, Teddie was downright loyal and brave when the chips were down. And Emiya-kun, even in his bloody and battered state, looked so strong. So manly…
The sudden ringtone of your phone interrupted your lusty daydream with a start. Now wide awake, you reach into your bag and check the caller ID. It was Ozawa, whose number you obtained earlier this week after practice.
You've only known Yumi Ozawa for a short while, but she's a savant on the stage. The other day, she perfectly rehearsed a part that was intended for Mika, and had taken the role of the character as her own. Her one-on-one sessions with you also helped you get better among your fellow drama club members, although she insists that you have talent as well.
Curious as to what she's calling you for, you answer. "Hello?"
"Hi, Amagi. Sorry about missing practice."
You blink. Today was Thursday so… oh right, Mika said they had drama club practice that day. "It's okay. I missed practice too."
"Really? What happened?"
"Something… important came up," you answer. You had forgotten all about practice when Chie and the others decided to visit Teddie, and from there it became a mad blitz to rescue Rise-chan from inside the TV world. "What about you?"
"The hospital called and said that my mom collapsed."
"Oh my!" You shot up from your bed. Memories of your own mother passing out during Yamano's visit come to mind, and every bad thing leading up to your kidnapping too. "That's horrible! Is she all right?"
"Yeah, she's fine," Ozawa said. "After all, she wasn't the one hurt at all."
You're confused. Not only is Ozawa starting to sound peeved, but what she's saying doesn't make sense. "What do you mean? Didn't she collapse?"
Ozawa sighs from her end on the phone. "My mom lied, saying it was the only way she knew I'd come. She didn't collapse, but someone else was in a hospital bed."
A tense silence followed, before Yumi uttered two words full of contempt and anguish. "My father."
You're almost positive that you misheard that. How could anyone hate their own father? You weren't sure what to say in response, but the moment passes as Ozawa speaks again.
"No, not my father," she amends, before growing in volume and achieving the intensity of a rant. "He left us ten years ago for another woman. He's always been a dirty scumbag like that. And now he's all sick and on his deathbed. He comes crawling back, saying that he wants to see his family again, and it pisses me off!
"I was finally able to move on! I had completely blocked him out from my life! And now he's ruined that, just like he's ruined our lives before! And despite the fact that he LEFT HER, mom is actually going to stay by his side until he dies! I can't believe how stupid she's acting!"
You're taken aback by Ozawa's anger. You've seen her act before and know that she's very expressive in emotions, but this feels unsettling. She seems to have been through a lot concerning her father, but wants nothing to do with him even as he's dying?
"Ozawa," you finally speak. "I'm sorry to hear about you and your father, but… don't you think you should honor his wish?"
Ozawa immediately snaps at you. "What do you know?! You never had to live with him, or see him walk out with some… some hooker on his arm!"
You choke on your words. It's true that you can't understand Ozawa's position, but she's also ignoring the important issue. Death is final. You've had a brush with it more than once to know that horrid feeling of helplessness. If her father was fine, she'd be free to act like this. But when you die, that's it. And to die with regrets is just awful…
"I'm sorry, Amagi," Ozawa says softly. "I… we just decided on the major roles in our upcoming play, and then he drops back into my life. I just really needed to tell someone how unfair this is, you know?"
"I know," you reply. Chie has always been a close confidant for you and vice versa. You can sympathize with Ozawa's conflicting emotions, and needing to tell someone.
"Don't worry, this won't affect practice," she tells you. "My absence was a one-time thing. Same for you, right?"
"That's right," You tell her. You doubt anyone will get kidnapped again now that Rise-chan is safe.
"Great! Then we'll play catch up next week! See you then. And… thanks for listening, Amagi."
"Of course, Ozawa. Take it easy." You hang up, slumping down to your bed again.
This has been such a depressing, exhausting day. You can save people from the TV world, and yet others still die in unfair ways.
You get dressed, find your father, and hug him tight. The scare of your kidnapping is fresh on his mind too, and he hugs you back.
You may not want to take over the inn, but you certainly would never wish ill to the family you love.
Thalia Mask XIX
June 6th, Music Room, After School
You are Rise Kujikawa, retired idol by the name of Risette.
You didn't really know what to expect upon entering Yasogami High School. Yes, you were popular and had fans, but every student in the general area tries to hound you with questions, shake your hand, and other stuff. You ignore it, believing that the craze will die out soon and you can make some friends past the idol persona.
You love music, and want to try playing an instrument at least once. So, after discussing it with some teachers and your friends Chie-chan and Yuki-chan, you decided to join the music band club, or music club for short. You hesitate for a moment, taking a few deep breaths. With the memory of your big entrance this morning still fresh on your mind, you have a feeling that you'll get a lot of unwanted attention before everyone gets used to you.
You open the door and step into the music room just as a girl was about to leave. "Oh!" She looks no older than you, is shrinking back in a posture like she could fade into the background, but her face sticks out. Her short green hair tops her head, her small brown eyes… and those cute red cheeks! She looks almost like a Pikachu!
She seems to stutter as she looks you over, her shock and surprise increasing two-fold. "Y-y-yo-you're—!"
"Yes, I'm Rise," You smile at her. Between all the screams and requests for autographs or pictures, having someone stutter cutely was a welcome change of pace. "I came by to see if I could join the music club."
Her mouth flaps around like a fish before she runs inside. "Captain! Captaaaaain!"
As it turned out, everyone in the music club was rather mellow. There were faint whispers and a lot of staring, but it didn't look like anyone cared that you were famous.
"As you're all aware"—the band captain gestures to you—"this is Rise Kujikawa, a first-year. She'll be joining our troupe starting today, so let's give her a warm welcome."
You were standing before the school's symphony band, sitting in chairs with sheet music stands next to them. A wide variety of instruments were available, ranging from clarinets and violins, to trumpets and trombones. You swear that you can even see a tuba player in the back. "Welcome!" they all chorused.
The band captain turns to you after introductions. "So Kujikawa, aside from singing, have you had any experience with musical instruments?"
"Not in the slightest," you admit with a chuckle. "But I'm familiar with notes and sheet music, if that helps."
"We can always use another coach." He nodded. "We'll decide on what you can play later. Just sit back and watch for today. Matsunaga, bring her up to speed in the meantime, alright?"
The girl from earlier stuttered again. "Y-yes, captain!"
The two of you sit down on a few seats in the far corner, away from the rest of the band members. "Okay, break's over! Let's take it from the top!"
The symphony that followed was appropriately rustic. It wasn't perfect by any means (since they're training to perform together) but it was getting close. You're excited to be a part of this. No single important star that takes over and no background singers are around to make the lead look good. This is just a well-oiled cohesive group where everyone's nearly the same and they have their own part to play.
"U-um," the Matsunaga girl next to you stammers again. Not loudly of course, as she doesn't want to interrupt the other band members. "So, Risette, I-I mean, Kujikawa-san—"
"Just Rise is fine," you tell her. You see no reason for the two of you to be politely distant.
"Okay, Rise-chan." She smiles. "So, like the other culture clubs, we meet every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Except for a week before finals, so everyone can study."
You cringe at the mention of "finals." At least you came to the school year late and have one less test to worry about.
"We don't worry about attendance either. Our band is good, but we usually perform at small places. Like senior homes and hospitals."
So the symphony band was only eligible for charity events? You have mixed feelings about that, honestly. On the one hand, you did just retire from showbiz so it's nice not having to go directly into the limelight of big featured events like school-to-school band concerts. On the other, it's such a major step down from your idol career that it is almost sad. Not mention that not as many people could hear the band play their hearts and souls out.
After a few more songs, the captain calls rehearsal to an end. Then everyone packs up their instruments and leaves. They don't spare you or Matsunaga a second glance. Matsunaga herself seems to slip into a routine of standing up, dusting her skirt, and collecting the sheet music.
You sit there in confusion, watching and wondering why one girl is doing clean-up, or why she's even in the band. "So uh, Matsunaga?"
"M-my full name is Ayane Matsunaga," she tells you with a smile. "I never got a chance to properly introduce myself, and it's only fair that we call each other by our given names, right?"
…It takes all your self-control not to jump up and squeeze the cute out of her, but you manage. The Investigation Team's reactions told you that not everyone likes the sudden touchy-feely reaction.
"A-anyway, what exactly do you do around here? Why are you in this club?"
"Oh, I play the trombone," Ayane smiles. "I joined this club because I love music and have always been inspired by the songs that bands and idols played, like yours!"
"Glad to hear it." You smile. You can tell that she's one of your more modest fans, drawn by your singing appeal rather than sex appeal. Not that it would make you want to go back ever…
Then you blink as a thought occurred to you. "But wait, why weren't you playing today? And why were you running around doing errands instead?"
Ayane looked down and away from your gaze. "O-oh, I'm not very good. I'm a reserve member, so I don't go to performances. I practice sometimes, but I mostly help take care of the paperwork and cleaning."
That sounds more like a manager's job… or a secretary's.
"But someone's gotta keep this place all clean, right? I can't do much regarding music or performing yet, so I help out with this." She continues collecting sheet music and putting them back in the giant locker-like storage. "You can hurry on out of here, Rise-chan. Don't let me keep you waiting."
You suddenly get why you're so attached to Ayane. You thought it was just how she was cute, young, and innocent (probably ideal in the idol market). But more than that, she's so lonely and wants to be a part of the band so much that she'll do grunt work. She was like you before you ever became Risette.
"I'll help." You announce as you rise from your chair.
Ayane looks at you in surprise, not at all expecting the offer. That alone makes you sad and all the more determined to help her, even as she's shaking her head no. "N-no, it's okay, Rise-chan! It's my responsibility, so please don't go out of your way or anything!"
"I insist," you state and move your chair towards the back end of the room. "We're bandmates now and we help each other out like a team. And what kind of bandmate leaves someone to do all the hard work?"
Ayane's cheeks glowed bright red, nearly reached her whole face.. "W-well, okay. Thanks, Rise-chan."
You both clean up the music room quickly, and manage to finish in time to leave before the sky got too dark. You look forward to the next practice, and in the meantime ask your grandma about getting a new instrument.
A/N: Not necessarily a new chapter, true, but there's more to F/RO than just Shirou's adventures. Here we see his friends in their day to day lives and interact with the characters that would otherwise have been man-whored by the player character for fusion boosts and Ultimate Persona.
Also, why the tone change you ask? Well, the main story is Third Person Omniscient, and the Fuyuki Gaiden was First Person. Since the FG was made that intentionally to invoke the feel of reading a VN, or Fate/Stay Night in general, Inaba Chorus was made Second Person to grasp the feel somewhat of the games, where the dialogue trees would fill in your responses or actions by saying stuff like "you put your hand in the TV" or "you tried to stop Kanji from doing something stupid". I found it to be a lot of fun to write myself, if not a little tricky as I slipped up in first or third pronouns, but don't worry; this won't take up too much of the main story. Speaking of, while the next chapter will finish up the camping trip and onward, don't expect it to come anytime soon. Still have a life, you know, like the online job and looking for more steady work to boot.
-Vegeta the 3rd