Well bet any of my old readers probably never thought they'd see me writing again, well like a phoenix coming from the ashes I am back. Kind of. If anyone's a fan of my old stories I'm sorry to say that I have no plans to revitalize them at anytime, it's not out of the question for the future, but very unlikely as I just don't have the will to work on them or even the time.
Anyways want to thank IIonezerozero for betaing this chapter and answering all of my stupid questions, seriously dude you're awesome thank you so much. Because without him this story would probably not have even been written and would have just been left to the side. So if you like Corpse Party and are in look for a good read check out his stories, they really should have more views, so give them a read.
Anyway, on with the story.
(Currently under revision. Old ANs will still be preserved. For new AN please go to the very end.)
Life at the Shinozaki's
This is a disaster... Kishinuma Yoshiki thought to himself before slowly lowering the full to the brim trash bag to the soot coated floor. Striding over to his tattered couch he heaved a sigh before collapsing onto it.
Upon returning home from work last night he had received one hell of a surprise. The apartment next to his had caught fire and by the time the flames had been put out his own living space had been greatly affected. According to the fire marshal the cause of the fire had been due to the building's less than reputable wiring.
Closing his eyes Yoshiki slowly shook his head. 'No way in hell will I be able to stay here.' The blond youth realized as his gray eyes scanned his ruined home. Everything before him had been greatly marred by flames. 'What am I going to do?' He thought to himself before settling deeper into his charred couch.
Yoshiki knew that he paid next to nothing for his dingy living space. Thankfully the building's owner had charged a very meager rent, though that also proved to be a double edge sword. 'That man wouldn't spare a cent to fix this place.' The landlord was notoriously cheap, which was reflected in the building's poor condition. And that was why Yoshiki had been able to afford living in this apartment with a part-timer's pay.
With tired eyes he turned his gaze to the only window in the room and was mildly surprised to see sunlight seeping in through the charred curtains. The last time he had checked his phone for the time it had been nearly five in the morning. That was quite a while ago. 'There's no way I'm making it to class today.' The blond youth thought as a tired yawn escaped from his throat. Having been active for nearly twenty-four hours and not having eaten since lunch at school yesterday he didn't have the energy to handle going to class today. Which was kind of a shame since he did try his best to keep from missing more than one day of school a week.
'Oh well...' Closing his eyes he allowed the fatigue to finally claim him. His lips curved upward into a slight smile as a familiar image came to mind. The figure of a small statured blue haired girl, with matching colored eyes, fixing him with a stern look and a lecture on the tip of her tongue. 'Shinozaki will probably be pretty ticked off that I skipped again this week.' Was the blond ex-delinquent's last thought before drifting into a dreamless yet peaceful sleep.
Shinozaki Ayumi didn't realize it until around lunch but... "Where's Kishinuma-kun?" She inquired out loud during the break as she realized that the group's headcount was short by one. The class-rep hadn't noticed during the morning lessons due to her sitting in the front and him further in the back, but this was the second time he had missed school this week. Which worried her slightly that he could be falling back into his old ways.
From across her a boy with light blue hair and glasses looked up. Morishige Sakutaro's eyes spotted the dark haired girl. Shinozaki Ayumi was a small statured second year student with dark blue, almost black, hair tied in twin tails. She was dressed in the standard girl's uniform for Kisaragi Senior High. A tan colored long sleeved sailor outfit with a blue collar and light blue cuffs with a blue skirt. Shrugging he offered his best theory. "Kishinuma's probably just sick or he's skipping." The drama club student supplied simply before returning his attention to his meal.
The only other male of the group, Mochida Satoshi, shook his head in disagreement. "I don't think Yoshiki's skipping." The brown haired student chimed in rising to the defense of his best friend. "He might not like coming to school, but he does do his best to be here as much as possible. He's probably just home with a cold." Satoshi explained good naturedly. The brunette male was not under the impression that his friend could do no wrong, but he recognized that Yoshiki did his best when it came to working. Not to mention that Satoshi knew his blond friend wouldn't skip school to the point where he couldn't graduate.
The class-rep of 2-9 frowned after hearing Sakutaro's and Satoshi's input. 'He better not be skipping.' She uttered in thought before chasing it away. It wasn't exactly fair to immediately come to the conclusion that Yoshiki was skipping just because his attendance record had an unexpected smudge on it. 'He's done pretty good this year.' Ayumi told herself as she recalled the blond ex-delinquent's time at Kisaragi.
During their first year as high school students Yoshiki had made quite the name for himself. Constantly skipping class, getting into fist fights, and even smoking on school property. But not long after she intervened and kept him from punching that horrible excuse of a gym teacher, Tsubota, he became good friends with Satoshi and seemed to adjust his tune.
He started actually coming to class and the fights almost never happened. Sure there was the occasional confrontation. But according to Satoshi, and she was inclined to believe the brown haired boy, that Yoshiki never threw the first punch. The only things he really seemed to struggle with was smoking and actually excelling in school.
Every once in awhile Ayumi would smell cigarette smoke on the ex-delinquent. 'It's not easy to quit.' The dark haired class-rep would remind herself before lecturing her blond classmate about the dangers of smoking and why he needed to stop. Though it had been a good three weeks since he had hit the lighter, as far as she knew. Which was an improvement compared to catching a whiff of the stuff on him every other day.
Also his school work, while shoddy, was at the very least being completed and turned in on time. Even if he did always seem to miss one day a week he always did turn in his work. Ayumi would like very much to see his grades rise above the usual D's and C's he managed to slide by on. But she couldn't fault him too much for struggling in school considering he wasn't the first student to get by with just barely passing grades. Not to mention the fact that having to manage a part-time job just to maintain his living conditions must leave him with little time for studying.
As far as Shinozaki Ayumi could see Yoshiki had been putting in an honest effort. She sincerely hoped that this lapse was just a simple case of him being too sick to make it to school today and that he'd recover and be back in class soon. 'At least it's a weekend, if Kishinuma-kun is sick he'll have Saturday and Sunday to get better.' Ayumi thought to herself optimistically before returning her attention to the conversation her friends were having. The subject matter had switched from Yoshiki's whereabouts to the upcoming midterms, which would then be followed by the month long summer vacation.
From across the short class-rep sat a brown haired girl with curls. "I can't wait till summer vacation." Shinohara Seiko announced excitedly before taking on a lethargic posture. "But first we gotta deal with midterms." The usually energetic girl sighed lacking her usual vigor.
From besides her a girl with short brown hair, also dressed in the girl's Kisaragi Senior uniform, patted her shoulder reassuringly. "Don't worry Seiko, I'm not really all that prepared for exams yet either. Maybe we should have a study group at my house?" Nakashima Naomi offered helpfully to her best friend.
Satoshi nodded in agreement to Naomi's suggestion. "That sounds like a good idea, I could use a refresher for chemistry and calculus." He commented as Seiko excitedly glomped Naomi.
"Oh thank you, Naomi-chan!" An overly grateful Seiko exclaimed happily as she shoved the side of her head against Naomi's bust.
Face flushing lightly the short haired girl quickly tried to push away her affectionate best friend. "Hey Seiko, cut it out!" She complained in embarrassment.
Sakutaro pushed his glasses up while he waited for the two girls to settle down before throwing his two cents into the mix. "A study group would be a good way of reviewing the material for those who need the help." He commented even though he didn't really need to study. 'But if Mayu goes I guess I don't mind too much being there.' And he knew how likely it was that Mayu would be in favor of a study session among friends.
Next to the blue haired boy a girl with brown haired tied into a pony tail on the right side of her head nodded happily. "A study session sounds like fun, and I could use some help for the English exam." Suzumoto Mayu admitted somewhat sheepishly as English was one of her weaker subjects. She could speak it well enough, but the writing and reading portions often proved difficult for her
The girl who had originally brought up the subject of midterms, having finally been separated from Naomi, nodded in agreement. "Same here. I also need some help in history, math, chemistry-." Seiko started listing off the subjects on her fingers before being cut off by Naomi.
"Basically everything." Her best friend interrupted with a teasing smirk which widened slightly as Seiko's carefree expression morphed into a sheepish smile.
Rubbing the back of her head Seiko sighed. "Eh, Naomi you know me too well." The curly haired girl said with a good natured grin.
Naomi nodded before glancing at the rest of her friends. "So how about it? Study session at my house next weekend?" She proposed.
"Sure." Satoshi nodded with a light smile.
Mayu nodded in agreement as well. "Sounds like fun." The small teen answered with a smile of her own.
Sakutaro held back a resigned sigh before nodding in affirmative. "I'll be there." He answered somewhat hesitantly. While the glasses wearing boy felt that attending was pointless he wasn't exactly sure he could trust any of these people to be able to properly give Mayu the help she would need. But if he could help her he wouldn't mind having to be subjected to a study session.
Ayumi, having been following the conversation, nodded as well. "I'll be there too." She interjected, speaking up for the first time since the subject popped up. Even if she didn't need any help for exams, study sessions with friends were always fun. Not to mention it could prove for a good chance to help them on any subjects they were struggling with. 'Mochida-kun admitted to not being very confident with chemistry and calculus.' The dark haired class-rep mentally filed those two points away with a secretive smile as she spotted an opportunity.
Seiko sighed in relief as she finished her lunch. "Now that I know that I'll be able to prepare for exams we should figure out what we'll do for summer vacation." The excitable girl announced before fixing the group with a somewhat sly look. "I was thinking the beach, excessive splashing, skimpy swimsuits-."
Naomi groaned at her bubbly friend's perverse streak. "Seiko, there's still six weeks till vacation. We're only in the middle of May." The short haired girl gently admonished, quickly applying the brakes to her best friend's fun.
Ayumi tapped her chin with her index finger. Despite it being a bit early to start planning for summer vacation she couldn't help but think up a few ideas herself. Though Ayumi wouldn't care too much for going to the beach. 'Mochida-kun probably wouldn't care too much about seeing me in a bathing suit...' The small statured girl thought ruefully at her lack of curves and small bust. Though her cheeks did heat up ever so slightly at the thought of seeing her shirtless crush in swimming trunks.
Lightly shaking her head she quickly returned to the conversation at hand. Thankfully none of her friends seemed to have noticed her reddened cheeks. "What about a camping trip? We could roast marshmallows, tell ghost stories..." She paused before fixing Satoshi with a slightly sly look. "And maybe even do Kimodameshi." Ayumi suggested with a smirk as she watched the tall brunette stiffen up slightly.
Satoshi gave a nervous chuckle before expressing his reluctance at her ideas. "I'm not sure that's a good idea Shinozaki, I don't think it'd be good for my health." He was still somewhat skittish after her previous attempt at scaring the hell out of him with her last ghost story. He didn't think he could handle what she might have in store for him.
Ayumi's smirk widened ever so slightly as she remembered the last time she had scared him. His reactions to her horror stories really were the best. And if they did do Kimodameshi there was a chance that they could be paired up, and the scary situation might prove for a good chance to have him cling to her for once. 'Though usually he ends up clinging to Nakashima-san.' The horror class-rep thought with a frown as most of her ghost stories ended with him grabbing the person nearest to him which was either Naomi or sometimes even Yoshiki, the latter of which tended to slug the easily frightened teen's shoulder for being such a scaredy cat.
Mayu, having noticed Ayumi's sudden dampened mood, spoke up. "Camping sounds like it could be fun." She said, hoping it would bring a smile to her friend's face.
Glancing over at her friend Ayumi met Mayu's smile with an appreciative one of her own. 'Thanks Suzumoto-san.' The blue haired girl uttered in thought before the conversation continued without incident.
The latter half of the lunch period passed on with casual chit-chat. Before the group knew it the first warning bell had rung, signaling the end of their lunch. Having roughly five minutes before the afternoon classes began the group quickly threw away any trash they had before rearranging their desks and returning to their proper seats.
The afternoon classes went by in a blur and before Ayumi realized it the final bell was ringing. The class-rep of 2-9 sighed in content as she started packing her school supplies. While she did enjoy being at school she couldn't help but be pleased that for the next two days she wouldn't be confined to Kisaragi Academy. Once she finished her homework she'd have the weekend to laze about, maybe get some drawing practice in, play some video games on her PSP, or possibly even get in contact with her older sister who was currently backpacking through Europe.
"-zaki?" A familiar voice pierced through her thoughts. Bringing her eyes up she met the soft brown irises of Satoshi. Her brown haired friend was standing in front of her desk with a mildly concerned expression. "Shinozaki, are you alright?" His voice holding a slightly worried tone to it. He had been talking to her for about a minute and she hadn't responded the entire time.
Shaking her head Ayumi somehow found it within herself to keep her cheeks from heating up. "I'm okay Mochida-kun. I was just lost in my own thoughts, sorry." The blue haired girl explained with a sheepish smile. Suddenly her eyes locked onto the stack of papers in her crush's hands. "What's that for?" She inquired, effectively changing the topic.
Satoshi decided to take her answer at face value as she seemed alright and he didn't exactly have a lot of time. "Today's assignments." He answered simply before elaborating. "I was going to take them to Yoshiki, but I forgot that my sister has a dentist appointment after school, and I need to take her." Satoshi explained, doing his best to keep from showing how much of a hurry he was in. Usually he'd have little problem delivering missed assignments to his best friend. But his sister's appointment required her getting a filling and he didn't want to make Yuka walk to Yoshiki's apartment while still sleepy from the anesthetics. "Do you think you could deliver these for me?" The brown haired youth asked hopefully while restraining himself from glancing at the clock. He didn't want to make Yuka wait much longer.
Ayumi's expression became surprised at the unexpected request, and while she was mildly disappointed that this was just a simple favor to bring Yoshiki his missed work, Ayumi couldn't find it in herself to refuse. Considering she was the one who usually got on his case to keep up his schoolwork it would be counterproductive to not make sure he got the work.
The only person close enough to Yoshiki who would deliver his missed classwork was Satoshi, but with him being tied up today that duty fell onto her shoulders and as class-rep it wouldn't be right to ignore someone who needed help. "I'll do it." Ayumi agreed, making sure to keep her resignation out of her tone. "But I'll need Kishinuma-kun's address, I've never been to his place." She explained. All Ayumi knew about Yoshiki's living conditions was that he lived in a cheap apartment complex not too far from the school.
Satoshi felt his shoulders relax at Ayumi's agreement. "Thanks Shinozaki." He told her in appreciation. At her request for Yoshiki's address he nodded. "Of course." He said before pulling out a piece of paper he had written in advance on the chance that she accepted the task.
Taking the slip of paper blue eyes scanned the address and directions from Kisaragi to his apartment. Ayumi didn't recognize the address, but the directions were pretty familiar to her as most of it was the same route she used to walk to and from school everyday. At the very least Ayumi wouldn't be going too far out of her way. "Alright." The twin tailed class-rep said before pocketing the scrap of paper.
Satoshi smiled thankfully again. "Seriously Shinozaki, thanks for this. You're a life saver, but I gotta go now. I'll see you on Monday." The brunette told her before making his way out of the room to pick up his younger sister from the junior high school.
Now that her crush was gone Ayumi allowed herself to heave a sigh before deflating. While she didn't dislike Yoshiki she never really enjoyed being alone with him even if she did consider him her friend. He was blunt and lacking in any sort of sensitivity; the complete opposite of Satoshi. Sighing once again Ayumi rose to her feet, making sure to grab Yoshiki's missed schoolwork. Well whatever, all she had to do was deliver the assignments, tell him to get well (If he's actually sick) remind him to finish the work, and then be on her merry way.
It didn't take Ayumi long to locate Yoshiki's apartment complex. Thankfully most of the directions Satoshi had detailed were the same directions she took to go home, and his apartment was just across from a park that she passed by everyday. After a fifteen minute walk she found herself standing outside of his apartment complex.
The place was a bit run down, most likely due to poor maintenance. 'That's probably why Kishinuma-kun can afford to live here.' The class-rep thought to herself as she entered the dingy complex. Unfortunately the elevator wasn't in working order, and it hadn't been for quite a while considering the police tape and layer of dust on it. Taking the stairs she took a quick glance at the slip of paper Satoshi had given her to see that his apartment was on the third floor, C12.
Upon arriving to the floor in question she quickly located his apartment. Pausing in front of his door she raised her balled fist up and lightly knocked on the door before waiting for him to answer.
Yoshiki awoke sometime much later in the day. According to his phone it was nearing four-thirty in the afternoon. If he had forced himself to go to school today he'd be coming home right about now to get something to drink, change out of his school uniform, and get a head start on his homework before heading off to the music store he worked at from six to twelve.
Stifling a yawn he stood up and stretched his stiff limbs. He groaned while popping his back and found that he couldn't help but chastise himself for falling asleep on the couch. His back was going to be sore for a while now. "Probably would have been better off just sleeping on the damn floor instead." He muttered to himself while rubbing the leftover sleep from his eyes. Walking to the kitchen he pulled a glass out of the cupboard before placing it under the faucet and turning the tap on. Thankfully the water hadn't been shut off yet.
While filling the glass up he took a peek out of the window over his kitchen sink to see the sun was high in the sky. Pulling out his phone to double check the time, Yoshiki noted that he had about an hour and a half till his shift at the music store started. Pulling his now full glass away from the sink he took a quick sip while shutting off the tap.
Looking back at his ruined apartment he sighed tiredly. There was still quite a bit of cleaning to do but he didn't really feel like doing that right now. He would need his energy for work tonight. 'Guess I should get something in my stomach while I can.' The blond thought to himself remembering that he hadn't eaten anything since yesterday afternoon.
Checking the cabinets he was annoyed at the lack of food he had. He didn't bother looking in the fridge, he was out of lunch meat so he couldn't make a sandwich. And anything else he had in there required the use of a microwave which wasn't an option to him right now with the power being off after the electrical fire. He had been needing to go shopping the last few days but he had been holding off as he was waiting until Monday when he would get paid. But due to recent events he probably wouldn't be going grocery shopping anytime soon. 'Oh well, I can make do.' The ex-delinquent thought to himself before pulling a box of cereal out. Just as he was opening a cabinet to grab a bowl he heard the sound of someone knocking on his door.
Wondering who that could be Yoshiki wordlessly placed the box of cereal on the counter top before striding over to the door. Upon opening it he was surprised at the unexpected visitor. "Shinozaki? What are you doing here?" He inquired dumbfounded that she was standing at his front door. While he did like the idea of Ayumi coming to see him he doubted that this was a social visit.
Ayumi froze in place as she took in Yoshiki's haggard appearance. His gray shirt and jeans had numerous patches of dirt and soot on them, and he looked a little sweaty. Now that she thought about it Ayumi couldn't feel any AC, which wasn't a good sign since summer was right around the corner and the temperature had been steadily rising.
Breaking out of her stupor the dark haired girl reclaimed her voice. "What happened, Kishinuma-kun?" Ayumi inquired as she tried to discretely peek around him. From what little she could glimpse it looked as though his apartment had caught fire.
Yoshiki frowned as he glanced down at his less than presentable appearance before looking back up to meet her eyes. "Had a little fire problem." He admitted vaguely as he stepped back in a nonverbal way of communicating to Ayumi that she could come in. There wasn't really much of a point in not inviting her in. She probably already had a pretty good idea of what was inside.
Stepping into his apartment Ayumi allowed her legs to carry her into the living room. The place was in shambles. The walls and floor covered in ash and debris, the furniture blackened and tattered, and even the small TV in the corner of the room hadn't been spared from being roasted. Glancing to her right she spotted a small kitchen that looked much more untouched than the living room. Turning around to meet Yoshiki's gaze she looked at him with a sympathetic expression. He appeared pretty worn out. "What happened?" Ayumi repeated as she found that she couldn't get anything else out.
Yoshiki, having closed the door, followed Ayumi into the living room, watched silently as the girl who usually occupied his thoughts took in the appearance of his apartment for the first time. While he doubted that anything would ever happen between them he found that this really was not the most ideal situation he had dreamed up of having Ayumi in his home for the first time. He had imagined that her first time stepping foot into his home would have been preempted with him going above and beyond to make the place look nice enough to hopefully guarantee that her first visit wouldn't be her last.
Seeing as she had finished taking in the sight of his charred home Yoshiki answered her casually. "This place is crap." He told her while keeping himself from showing just how distraught he really was at his living space having been roasted. Walking to the other side of the room he crossed his arms and leaned against one of the blackened walls not caring that his already dirty clothes had just gotten more soot on them. "The fire started in the apartment next to mine, faulty wiring." The blond teen bluntly explained to her.
Ayumi took another quick glance around the room. In the corner she noticed a few trash bags, obviously filled with debris and things that could not be salvaged. "It looks pretty bad..." The dark haired girl muttered feeling really bad for Yoshiki.
The twin tail haired girl knew that he worked hard to keep up his living situation but now in a single fell swoop it was in ruins. 'There's no way Kishinuma-kun will be able to keep living here.' She came to the conclusion easily enough. If it was a fire due to the building's less than adequate wiring then most likely his utilities had been disconnected. Also she doubted he had the money to replace all that had been lost in the fire, much less find a new place to move into on such short notice. "What are you going to do?" She questioned without really thinking.
Yoshiki, despite the dismayed feeling of having lost many of what few possessions he had couldn't help but feel slightly elated that his crush was concerned for him. The blond teen quickly banished that thought, now was not the time to give any attention to his unrequited feelings for Ayumi. At her question he shrugged, trying to play it off as not being that big of a deal. "I'll figure something out." The gray eyed ex-delinquent told her easily enough. He didn't want her to worry about him, especially since there wasn't anything she could do in this situation. This problem was his own and like with every difficulty he experienced since meeting Ayumi he'd grit his teeth and get through it.
Ayumi didn't feel much confidence after hearing Yoshiki's casual response. "Kishinuma-kun, there's no way you'll be able to stay here." Ayumi, opting to for once take a page out of Yoshiki's book, decided to be blunt. "This place looks awful." And so far all she had seen was just the living room and kitchen. "I don't know exactly how much it cost to get an apartment, but I get the feeling that you got this place for cheap. I seriously doubt you'll be able to find anything you can afford on such short notice." She paused before glancing down at the debris scattered about the wood floor.
Not including the incident with Tsubota Ayumi had for the most part refrained from getting too involved with Yoshiki's personal life. The only other incidents of her meddling with his business involved reminding him to keep up with his schoolwork and lecturing him on not smoking whenever she caught him red handed. But still she wanted to help in someway.
Sighing softly Yoshiki scratched the back of his head. He couldn't really refute her points, so he decided that being honest was the best way to go about this. "You're right Shinozaki. Rent here is dirt cheap, I won't be able to find another place for so little." He admitted before pushing himself off the wall. "But I'll manage, I have options, don't worry about it." The former delinquent tried to assure her.
Ayumi quirked an eyebrow at him. For whatever reason she felt that the latter statement was his way of trying to simply ease her concerns rather than him actually having an optimal plan of action. But his words only seemed to do the exact opposite. If anything her worry was only on the rise. "When you say options what exactly do you mean?" The class-rep of 2-9 suspiciously inquired.
Yoshiki couldn't hold back the frown at her suspicious tone. Softening his expression he tried once more to ease her concerns. "Shinozaki, don't worry. I'll be okay. I started with nothing and I got this far, I can do it again." He told with what he hoped was an assuring smile. He really hoped that she bought his words, because his options were actually pretty limited and not very promising. He could either let his schoolwork decline and pick up more hours at the music store while looking for another job or he could keep up with his schoolwork and be homeless for awhile. 'I get the feeling that if I tell Shinozaki this she'd just chew me out.' The blond thought to himself with an internal groan.
Ayumi shook her head as her frustration hit the roof. "Kishinuma-kun!" She called out while stamping her foot on the wooden floor. The blue haired girl was becoming fed up with him avoiding and deflecting her questions. "Stop dancing around my question and tell me." She firmly told him with all the authority she could muster as the class-rep of 2-9.
Yoshiki flinched slightly at her snappish tone before sighing in defeat. Who was he kidding? If Ayumi really wanted something from him she could get it no problem, despite his coarse nature he found it difficult to deny her. "Alright Shinozaki, just calm down." He told her in what he hoped was a soothing voice. He didn't want to raise anymore of her ire than he was already about to. "I...I'll probably have to take a little break from school for awhile, pick up some more hours at work until I can find something affordable."
At his defeated tone Ayumi did calm down somewhat, crossing her arms she waited patiently for his answer. Once he finally told her what he was considering she felt her frustration reignite. "That's no good Kishinuma-kun!" The dark haired girl snapped at him. "You can't let your education take a back seat, if you leave school halfway it'll only be harder for you to finish later." Ayumi, all but yelling, told him.
Yoshiki for a second time raised his hands in surrender. Looks like that option had been vetoed. "Okay, okay. Calm down Shinozaki it was just a suggestion." He explained softly so as not to further invoke her ire, he didn't want to add any more kindling to the fire if he could help it. "I promise that I won't let my schoolwork suffer." The gray eyed teen swore as he knew that he didn't make promises that he couldn't keep.
Ayumi, still annoyed with her blond friend, huffed. "A stupid suggestion." The blue haired girl scolded him before biting her lip. "You need to make it to graduation with us." Turning away from the blond Ayumi muttered that last bit to herself while holding back a sniffle. When she thought about it Ayumi found that she didn't like the idea of her group of friends not all graduating together.
Yoshiki, just barely picking up the last bit of her statement, couldn't help but smile. The fact that Ayumi still believed he could graduate really made him feel like he actually would. Looks like he'd be going along with option B. Considering it wasn't something completely new he knew that he could handle it. "Well than I guess I'll be camping again." The ex-delinquent quietly said, more to himself rather than to Ayumi.
Ayumi's eyes snapped back to him as her ears picked up on his words. Not liking where his train of thought was heading she questioned him. "Camping?" The dark haired girl inquired in a thick voice. "Would you care to explain?" The dark haired girl asked despite already having a decent idea of what he was insinuating. Her sharp tone was conveying that Yoshiki best choose his words carefully...He was so screwed.
Scratching his cheek Yoshiki didn't realize that he had just stepped back onto the minefield. "Shinozaki, you don't think I found this apartment on the exact day I left my parents' house do you?" He questioned before quickly explaining. "When I got kicked out that summer I spent a couple weeks living in an old tent in the nearby park. I got this place a couple weeks later, it's not a big..." Yoshiki's voice faded as he noticed the obviously dissatisfied expression his crush was sending his way. He really knew how to dig his own grave.
"Unacceptable!" Ayumi yelled at him, very fed up with the bleach haired boy. "You can't live on the streets! That's dangerous, you could get mugged or worse!" The dark haired girl cried out appalled at Yoshiki's plan.
Yoshiki clenched his jaw at Ayumi's reactions to his suggestions. So far every idea he had proposed had been quickly shot down, and now that he knew what her opinions were regarding his plans he knew that he wouldn't be able to intentionally go against her wishes. He despised the very thought of disappointing her, but still he had to do something! The blond ex-delinquent couldn't help but feel a little self-conscious at how wrapped around her finger Ayumi had him, the only silver lining to that being that she didn't even realize it. Biting back his scathing retort Yoshiki couldn't help but feel his patience dwindling with his crush.
Taking a deep breath in order to try and calm himself Yoshiki suddenly realized just how thirsty he was. Spinning on his heel he quickly stalked out of the living room to the kitchen with the intention of finishing his glass of water.
Wordlessly the occult-loving class-rep followed Yoshiki into the kitchen. Still remaining silent she watched him down his glass of water like a man who had been in a desert for a week without a drop of the stuff. The momentary pause in their argument did allow Ayumi some time to calm down and think rationally. When she really thought about it Ayumi knew that she had no right to meddle in his life she wasn't his girlfriend or anything, but she didn't want to see her friend on the streets or drop out of school. Yoshiki wasn't perfect but he didn't deserve to be homeless or have his education suffer.
After downing the rest of his water Yoshiki definitely felt calmer. Breathing a tired sigh he absently ran a hand through his short hair. Looking at the palm of his hand he was unsurprised to see soot on it. Repressing the urge to sigh he wiped away the black ash on his pants leg. After another moment where the silence stretched on he turned to face Ayumi. Thankfully she seemed to have calm down as well. Though her eyes did look a little watery and red rimmed.
"...whenever I get emotional I just start crying without really meaning to..."
Yoshiki smiled gently as he recalled her words from that day. Afterwards she probably didn't put much thought into it, hell she would have done that for just about anyone. But to him it was a very defining moment. For once in his life someone other than his sister had cared enough to cry on his behalf and even believe that he could do more. That was enough to get Yoshiki to try and better himself. From that moment he had the overwhelming desire to make her right, to show, despite what everyone else said, that she wasn't wrong to think that he could make something out of himself.
"What do you suggest, Shinozaki?" The blond ex-delinquent inquired, effectively breaking the silence.
Ayumi's brow furrowed at his unexpected question. "What?" She asked not completely understanding of what he was asking.
Yoshiki placed his empty glass in the sink before walking over to her. "You've shot down all my ideas, so I'm outsourcing." He told her with a weary sigh. "If you got anything I'm willing to listen." He told her with a light smile. In a way he did hope she'd have the perfect answer. Ayumi was smart, she could easily come up with an acceptable solution.
Ayumi swallowed thickly as she realized that Yoshiki was willing to take any ideas she had. Glancing down in thought at her shoes which, she realized with some embarrassment, she had forgotten to take off before entering his home. Shaking her head Ayumi mentally chased away the tangent in her thoughts before trying to brainstorm and come up with an acceptable answer. After a moment of deliberation she had something. "What if you asked Mochida-kun? Maybe his parents would be okay with taking you in until you find a new place?" The class-rep suggested with a smile as she was pretty certain that Satoshi's parents would have little trouble temporarily accommodating Yoshiki.
Yoshiki sighed before shaking his head. He was mildly disappointed that Ayumi's idea was one that he had decided wouldn't be feasible. "Sorry Shinozaki, but that won't work." He announced regretfully. The blond went on to explain his reasoning. "I had already considered that, but Satoshi lives on the other side of the city. And it's easily over an hour long walk from my workplace to his house. I usually close up shop at midnight and the trains don't run that late." He continued feeling a little bad at having so easily shot her idea down. "I can't waste that extra hour it would take getting to his house, that's usually when I finish up my homework. And I can't quit my job or else I'd just be freeloading and I wouldn't be able to save up to afford another place." Yoshiki calmly finished his explanation.
Ayumi couldn't help but sigh at how easily her suggestion had been denied. As much as she wanted to argue it she couldn't, he did raise some really good points. It wasn't right for him to waste that hour that could be used to further his education and he couldn't just quit his job or he'd never be able to afford another place. Frowning the blue haired girl tried to think of whether or not any of the others might be able to take him in for a little bit.
Unfortunately the only other guy friend he had was Sakutaro but according to Mayu he lived in the same general area Satoshi did. Ayumi couldn't ask any of their other friends, the only ones who lived close enough where Yoshiki would still be able to maintain his job were Mayu and Seiko. Not to mention she had the distinct impression that he wouldn't be comfortable asking either of them for shelter. Plus she had absolutely no idea if they'd even be able to take him in.
Ayumi's frown deepened as her head started to hurt. She couldn't think of anything acceptable. The only friend Yoshiki would be okay asking for help was Satoshi, but that was out of the question due to the reasons he had laid out. 'Morishige-kun's out for the same reason as Mochida-kun. Can't ask Suzumoto-san or Shinohara-san...' Ayumi's eyes snapped open...when had she closed them in the first place? Forget that! She had it, she had the answer, and even though it wasn't exactly ideal she still didn't want to see Yoshiki fail. Especially if she could help him, and this was something she was willing to do. 'I just need to convince them...' Ayumi narrowed her eyes as she felt a strange determination swell from the pit of her stomach, a feeling that was very similar to that time she had stopped him from slugging that gym teacher.
Yoshiki stood silently as he watched the range of emotions play out on Ayumi's face. Her lips curled into a frown as she seemed to really be racking her brain on this one. After a few seconds of thinking she clenched her eyes shut as she seemed to be trying even harder to come up with a solution. Just as he was about to call out her name Ayumi's eyes popped open and her expression became thoughtful as though she had come to an epiphany of sorts.
A small smile framed her face before she fixed her gaze on Yoshiki. "Kishinuma-kun, grab a bag and fill it with some clothes." Her tone was much gentler than it had been during their argument but it still carried the weight of authority that she used as the class-rep of 2-9.
Yoshiki looked at her oddly before complying with her command. 'What is she thinking?' He wondered before entering his small bedroom which like the living room had also been nicely cooked. Peeking into his closet, which had been thankfully spared from the flames, he pulled out the backpack he had tossed in last night. Digging through the small closet he began stuffing his whatever clothes he had into the backpack before zipping it up and slinging it over his shoulder. Sadly the rest of his clothes in his cheap dresser had been lost to the fire. 'Good thing I keep my school uniform in my closet, those things aren't cheap.' He thought to himself with a relieved sigh.
Ayumi remained rooted in her spot in the living room. Right now she was trying to think of a way to convince her parents of this insane idea. Hell even though she was the one who would be pushing for this she wasn't sure if she was completely convinced. 'If I can get my parents to agree then...then I'll be living with Kishinuma-kun for the foreseeable future.' Actually thinking that thought caused Ayumi's face to flush lightly.
It was crazy, but it was also the only acceptable solution she could think of. Yoshiki couldn't live on the streets, Ayumi would never be able to sleep at night knowing that one of her friends was homeless. Also she was adamantly against the idea of him putting his education on the back burner so he could work more. And he couldn't stay at Satoshi's house as that would inconvenience both parties.
'But if Kishinuma-kun stays with me he won't have to drop school and he'll be able to keep working.' Also this turn of events could prove even more beneficial as she could possibly get him to improve his performance at school. Plus this arrangement wouldn't be permanent, just until Yoshiki could find an affordable place. 'How long could that take?' Ayumi wondered to herself. A week? Maybe two? A month at the most? Rubbing her temples the dark haired girl found herself curious as to how long she could handle living under the same roof as Yoshiki. Her twin tails swayed as she shook her head Ayumi swiftly banished the thought, she'd cross that bridge when she came to it.
The bedroom door opened with a drawn out creak and a few instances later the subject of her thoughts walked out with a backpack slung over his shoulder. Spotting her standing near his couch Yoshiki moved towards her. "Alright Shinozaki, what are we doing?" His query was met with a moment of silence.
Ayumi reevaluated his less than presentable appearance. To an outsider who didn't have any context they might make the insane mistake of thinking that she was bringing her thug boyfriend home for a disastrous 'meet the parents' scenario, ugh that was such an embarrassing thought. Not exactly the most ideal situation of taking a boy home for the first time, but this was serious. 'Plus it's not like that.' Ayumi reaffirmed in her mind. Yoshiki's appearance wasn't good, but that could work to their advantage considering her mother was a very sympathetic individual. "Just come with me." The blue haired girl told him before turning to lead him out of his apartment.
While he was locking the place up a sudden thought occurred to her. "Kishinuma-kun, do you have to work tonight?" Ayumi inquired hoping that they weren't on a tight schedule.
Finished locking the door Yoshiki turned to her curiously before nodding. "Yeah, I gotta be at the store by six." After saying that he pulled out the phone to check the time, it was ten till five. He had a little over an hour before his shift started. Taking note of the battery icon on his cellphone the ex-delinquent was relieved that his phone was about half charged. Thankfully he didn't use his phone for much, which was good considering he currently didn't have the means to keep the battery from dying. Pocketing his phone he shifted his attention back on the twin tailed girl.
Ayumi nodded, they were on a timer but it shouldn't prove to be too troublesome as long as they didn't drag their feet. "Okay then, that means we've got a time limit, so we'll have to be quick." The dark haired girl informed him before breaking into a brisk walk towards the stairs. Ayumi silently thanked whatever deities that existed that both her parent's didn't work today. It wouldn't do to have Yoshiki wait at her house for three hours just to be possibly turned away.
Due to her vague statements Yoshiki found himself at a loss as to what his friend was planning. "Hold on Shinozaki." He called out while moving to catch up with Ayumi. "Quick for what? What's going on?" The blond questioned her as they went down the stairs.
Narrowing her eyes slightly Ayumi made sure not to let Yoshiki see her expression. The twin tailed girl wasn't exactly ready to let Yoshiki in on her plan, at the very least he'd probably say she'd lost her mind. Though since she had chosen this course of action Ayumi wondered if this was a sign of her losing her sanity. "Just follow me." The twin tailed girl curtly told him.
Even if she did have some reservations about this course of action Ayumi knew that she'd do this to help her friend. If she told him her plan the twin tailed girl wasn't sure how Yoshiki would take this gesture. There was the possibility that he could take offense and accuse her of making him into a charity case. But if the blond found out her plan while in the midst of trying to convince her parents than he'd have a hard time trying to argue. 'That's assuming Kishinuma-kun doesn't just storm out.' Ayumi mentally deadpanned.
Yoshiki wanted to argue with the twin tailed girl to tell him what she was up to. But decided that he didn't feel like pushing her. Whatever it was she was planning he'd find out soon enough, he could be patient. Shoving his hands into his pockets he released a weary sigh before quietly trailing after the short statured girl.
They were an interesting sight as they walked down the fairly deserted streets. A small teenaged girl in a high school uniform with a blond haired teen covered in ash and soot following in tow. Thankfully there weren't many people out and no one really paid them much mind. The walk passed on in silence until they came to stop at a house with the nameplate Shinozaki on it.
It took somewhere near ten to fifteen minutes after leaving his apartment complex before they arrived at the house Yoshiki had never been to. But upon spotting the nameplate he was able to put two and two together. "Shinozaki?" He called out unsure of exactly how to react. Stopping in front of the house he tried to think of what he should say but found himself at a blank as he needed a moment to process exactly what he was assuming.
Ayumi came to a halt in front of her home, Yoshiki behind her had also stopped walking. At his hesitant call she ignored him as a sudden thought came to mind. 'If my dad finds out he smokes than there's no way he'd be allowed to stay here.' Her face paled lightly at the thought of what she was about to ask of him. In the time the class-rep had known Yoshiki she had never gone this far in her attempts to better him, but this had to be done if she was going to get her parents to agree to let him stay.
Taking a deep breath she turned around to face the blond. "Kishinuma-kun, please be honest with me. When was the last time you smoked?" Ayumi asked him in a tone that promised that she would try not to become judgmental or angry with his answer. Considering she was about to be crossing one hell of a line in a few moments, and not to mention a few more before the day was through, she didn't really have a right to become angry.
Yoshiki raised an eyebrow at the unexpected question but quickly caught onto why she might want to know. After a moment of debating whether or not to tell her he decided to answer her with the truth. "About a week ago, I had a cigarette." He regretfully admitted with averted eyes. "But I have been trying to quit." The blond youth earnestly told her as he did feel some shame at not having quite kicked the habit and her knowing that he still struggled with it. Every now and then he just had the urge to smoke, hell this morning when he had been cleaning his apartment he had considered having a cigarette but ignored the compulsion as he felt that his home had seen enough smoke for one day.
Ayumi had to fight off the impulse to break into her usual tirade of the dangers of smoking and how it could lead to health problems in the future. Now was definitely not the time and for some reason she felt like if she did she'd be in the wrong since this was probably the first time the blue haired girl had ever seen Yoshiki emit remorse for not having given up the habit. Taking a deep breath she then asked her follow-up question. "Do you have any packs or lighters on you?" At Yoshiki's muted nod she held her hand out expectantly. "Give them to me so I can dispose of them. There's no way my parents will let you stay if they find out you smoke." Ayumi firmly told him.
And there it was. Ayumi was going to have him stay with her. Yoshiki made sure to keep from reading any deeper meaning into that gesture. Because he highly doubted that this alluded to any more than friendly feelings he wished she had for him. Even if he doubted she'd ever go this far to help just any other nobody out, he knew for a fact that she didn't see him as anything more than a friend. "Shinozaki, I appreciate this, really I do, but I'm not sure that this-."
"Kishinuma-kun, this is the only way." Ayumi said, derailing him. "You can't stay at Mochida-kun's because he lives too far away from where you work. And Morishige-kun is out for the same reason. I know that you'd never be able to ask Suzumoto-san or Shinohara-san for shelter. And Nakashima-san's out for both reasons." Ayumi listed off before taking a deep breath. "Kishinuma-kun I want to help. And I'm willing to possibly beg my parents for this, so at the very least let me try." Ayumi pleaded as her eyes glistened ever so slightly.
Yoshiki couldn't help but frown at seeing her eyes water. At the prospect of her tears he couldn't help but feel any desire to dissuade her slip away. It was just impossible to deny her, especially when she was once again crying on his behalf. It reminded him a little of the incident with Tsubota, she was going out of her way to keep him from failing. But this time the gesture was an even bigger one, one that he wouldn't dare forget. Heaving a sigh in resignation Yoshiki raised his hands in defeat. 'The things Shinozaki can convince me of.' The blond thought to himself with a rueful smile. If he could name his biggest weakness it was Ayumi crying for him.
Reaching into his pocket he fished out a pack of cigarettes. "My last pack." He told her as her small hands accepted the item. "I bought it nearly two months ago and I did plan on this being the last pack. Been trying to wean myself off them." Yoshiki explained as he remembered the first time he managed to go a couple weeks without smoking. It hadn't been very pleasant, the withdrawal headaches were anything but enjoyable. 'But I'll manage.' For Ayumi he would do his best. "They're not good for me anyway, not to mention that they're just a waste of money. If there was ever a good time to quit I guess now's as good a time as any."
Ayumi nodded as she accepted the pack, upon taking a peek she saw that there were only a couple cigarettes left. Repressing a sigh she pocketed the pack, she'd toss them out sometime later. "No lighter?" She inquired after putting them away.
Yoshiki's hand instinctually went into the pocket that usually housed the Zippo lighter that he had pilfered from his father on the day he got kicked out. "Lighter's have more uses than just cigarettes." He told her simply enough. He was rather reluctant to part with it, in a way the lighter acted as a reminder for him. Plus it did also serve as his childish sort of way of having the last word to his father.
Ayumi nodded, that was acceptable considering she had used lighters for her candles, though she had a preference for matches. "Alright then." She said, deciding to allow him to keep his lighter, as they did have practical uses. "Just know that if I catch you smoking I won't forgive you. Not to mention my parents won't tolerate it one bit." The small statured girl informed him with a firm look in her eye. At her friend's prompt nod she relented. "Okay, when we go in I'm going to ask them, don't say anything unless they address you. If I can at least convince my mom than we should have a pretty good chance." She explained knowing that her father, despite being a firm man, was terrible at fighting her mom.
With that said the two continued up to her house before Yoshiki stopped Ayumi as her hand landed on the doorknob. "One moment Shinozaki." He uttered before the twin tailed girl could open the door. He realized that she was willing to do this but...he couldn't help but still have some reservations.
Ayumi paused before turning back to him. "Hmm?" She sounded out as she tilted her head, wondering what he had to say. She really hoped that he wasn't going to try and dissuade her again.
"Its just..." Scratching his cheek Yoshiki sighed before meeting her blue eyes. "Are you sure about this? If you actually do manage to convince your parents then we're going to be seeing a lot of each other until I'm able to find an affordable apartment. Not that I'm ungrateful for this. Because really I am, honestly." Yoshiki hastily told her. On the inside he really was happy that she would actually be willing to go this far to help him, more than she'd ever know. "But are you sure you're okay with this?" He questioned hoping that she would rethink this yet at the same time a small part of him hoped she'd go through with it. There was a part of him that was excited at the prospect of living under the same roof as Ayumi, but at the same time he couldn't help but feel some dread.
Their friendship was a complex one. She never hung out with him on a one on one basis, and most of the time he just seemed to annoy her with his thoughtless words and actions. Yoshiki would love for this experience, if her parents were actually crazy enough to let an unfamiliar boy live under the same roof as their teenage daughter, to be a pleasant one for their relationship. Even if it was just as friends he'd be happy if she didn't always shoot down or ignore any offers for them to hang out when Satoshi wasn't part of the equation. Yet at the same time Yoshiki couldn't help but worry about what this could do to their existing relationship. Even if she didn't view him the way he viewed her he hated the idea of their connection being severed.
Ayumi firmly shook her head as her blue eyes shone with determination. "Kishinuma-kun, if I wasn't so sure do you think I'd be willing to plead with my parents to let you stay?" She asked before quickly continuing on not allowing him to actually answer. "Sorry, but I'm going to do all I can to make sure you don't have to drop out of school or end up on the streets." The blue haired girl promised him as her expression morphed into a warm smile.
Deciding that the conversation had come to an end Ayumi turned around and opened the door. "I'm home!" She announced to the other residents of her house. 'Please let this go okay.' Ayumi thought nervously as she mentally prepared herself for the upcoming confrontation.
Hesitating slightly Yoshiki took a moment to look inside her house before squaring his shoulders and following Ayumi into her home. While he couldn't help but feel slightly intimidated at what was ahead he couldn't dare run. 'Not when Shinozaki is willing to do this.' If she could steel herself to try and convince her parents of this then he'd follow her. To him though it seemed highly unlikely that her parents would actually be okay with taking in some random boy. If they did say no then he didn't know what exactly he'd do, the only viable option left would be to be homeless for a while. Even if Ayumi didn't like that course of action she couldn't force her parents to take a stray in against their will. 'Shinozaki...good luck.' Yoshiki uttered in thought as the front door closed behind him.
Well that ending was a tad cliché, but meh I've written worse. Anyways hope everyone enjoyed this first chapter, I sure enjoyed writing it. Be sure to review, let me know what you liked or disliked. Also once again thanks go out to IIonezerozero for proof reading this story, seriously I am not exaggerating just how much help he has given to this story, so give him some love and check out his stories.
Also if anyone's curious Kimodameshi is the test of courage. Google it.
Not sure when the next chapter will be posted, but I'll try to have it out some time next week. So that's all for now.
Whew. I can not believe exactly how long it has been since I first wrote this story. It's so hard to believe that I started and finished LatS in roughly two years, and that was nearly five years ago. Things are very different since those days. I sadly still have not heard a peep from IIonezerozero, and I assume I never will despite occasionally sending him a random PM with the hope that one day I'll find out what happened to him. Regardless, if this does reach him, I still value the kinship we shared and cannot express how much he helped pushed this story forward. Even if he was unable to see it to it's conclusion, I wanted to finish LatS for his sake. And I did, and I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish with this story.
And of course I want to give a big thanks to Fear Silencer for filling the big shoes left behind by him. Without your help I like to think I still would have finished this story, but it would not have been nearly as good as it was without the help you gave. So thanks again man, I know we haven't talked much these last few years. But we have each other's numbers and I'm just a text away if you ever need something.
So final part of this extra note. I am FINALLY getting around to revising this story. I have reread LatS many times since I finished it. Why wouldn't I? This is one of my personal favorite fanfictions, considering when I wrote it, I was writing the exact kind of story I personally wanted to read. It just so happened that a lot of people enjoyed it as well. Again to all my readers of this story, thank you so much for all the support you gave me over the years I was writing this.
Also to any new readers I hope you enjoy this. I will be cross posting this to my Ao3 account. So to the people of Ao3 welcome, I'll try and post the chapters as I finish revising them. But in the meantime if you haven't read this on fanfiction net before, you can find the (old) completed version of this story on my account under the same name. For now the story on FFnet will remain unchanged, save for the first chapter, until I finish revising all 15 chapters. Not going to lie, it will take a while. This first chapter I was able to revise in an hour or so because I'm still pretty satisfied with it. As we go further in I intend to make some small changes. Mostly adding more detail or changing a few words here and there, (while fixing many glaring mistakes that have haunted me to this day...) But overall this is still the same story that many people loved and enjoyed. And I think I've rambled on enough. See you all in the next chapter.