AN: Hayama Hayato is dead. Suicide, during Miura Yumiko's birthday party. Hachiman however, a reluctant guest that night, is not convinced by the police verdict. He witnessed something that night, but when everyone has something to hide, can he really trust anyone but himself?

Broken Glass

Chapter One:

People have many fears. Fear of spiders, or loneliness, or enclosed spaces, or open spaces, or anything under the sun. Fear is like tendrils of glistening moonlight, reaching down from a reflected heaven and splashing onto us all, no matter the totality of the shadow we hide ourselves in. And, the oldest fear of them all is very probably that of death.

Fear is a helpful emotion- a necessary one even, that motivates us through hardships, though the nature of the nowaday hardships will be very different to those of the monkeys that fear first blossomed for. Necessary does not extend to rational though, so its probably fitting that the most rampant fear of them all is the least rational. Fear should compel to escape, but what is the hope in escaping something that grows with the fervour and constancy of death. It occures every day. Every second, even.

Eventually, there will come a day or a second for me too. And yet still, I fear it. Without willingness, and without any hope of escaping from its clutches.

Certainly, that fear has increased as of late. I cannot deny that. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I suppose, in some stange and twisted way, that old idiom is applicable here. I had never really had any contact with death, and so I always considered it in a more flattering light. The death of a grandmother at a young age, yes, and the reports of some repugnant killing on the news, yes, but these are mere glances. The brush of a shoulder between pedestrians as they walk down the street.

A pedestrian will only be a short distance away from a car crash, however. It's incredibly easy to forget how hauntingly that collision looms over us all.

The realisation

Hachiman stares at the notebook, reading over the words, again and again and again.

It is ten minutes past five on a late autumn afternoon, somewhere in the month of August. Time has an irritating habit of slipping through a person's fingers, especially when the monotony of, say, a school routine sets in. Hachiman knows that particular form of monotony as if it were an old childhood friend he liked dearly, but one that is now beginning to grate on his nerves. Not that he could claim to have much experience on the matter of friendship.

Nonetheless, Hachiman prides himself in being observant. He can pick out, or perhaps just acknowledge, a person's good qualities, even if they are solitary waves on a raging ocean of bad. Sometimes, the waves will be closer to ripples, barely noticeable, but still, he might catch a glimpse when the sunlight splashes on a calm tide just right. So, there are times when a routine might not be monotonous. If one fills it with the right components, that is.

A fulfilling student might fill it with lunchtimes with their friends, or perhaps save such interactions for after school and spend their lunchtimes being studious or reading in the library. An after school club might be appropriate. Hachiman actually meets this idyllic requirement, though if he were to use two adjectives to describe the Service Club, they definitely wouldn't be idyllic or fulfilling. But a little more so than the other components in the machine of his school life, nonetheless.

He has wondered whether he and Yuigahama Yui and Yukinoshita Yukino are friends too frequently to keep track. Even if they aren't, both are attractive enough to make the commitment, albeit enforced, worth his while.

And so he, and the two girls who tolerate them, and the rest of Class 2F, and the rest of Sobu High on top them, had lived out their little fantasies, uncaring and mindless, like a shoal of fish. One entity, singularly breathing and singularly never thinking. Singularly never noticing the stirring of water beneath them as the body of a shark moved closer and closer.

And then, what that shark drew near enough to steal a bite, and rip flesh from bones and stain the water red, they had the nerve to act surprised.

Hachiman shakes his head and closes the notebook. He presses his fingers to the bridge of his nose.

Why has Yukinoshita Yukino penned this? Often, while he and his clubmates are sat with their herbal tea and reading on and speaking nothings, she will take out the notebook and write something down. He had assumed that, today, it would be another of the nothings, though clearly, Yukinoshita Yukino was dissatisfied with their awkwardness and decided to use the time to write down her true feelings.

He can see, hear, feel her voice in the words. Her feelings, for once unrestrained by the paltry ugliness of their usual conversation.

Of course he knows what they are about. It is clinging to Sobu High like a clump of mistletoe to an aging tree, and will continue clinging there, very probably growing, for a long time. It started growing two weeks ago. Two weeks, since it happened.

Hikigaya Hachiman had never once liked Hayama Hayato. Not even in the slightest. True, his typical, or rather atypical prejudices prevent him from liking anyone of the "riajuu" status (whatever that means), but there was something even more disagreeable about Hayato, something even more irritating, that sometimes he couldn't quite identify. Something in that confident charisma, that persuasive conviction, those punchably immaculate features.

They had their disagreements, some more on a moral level than a practical one. Hayato believed in the routine that Hachiman would change, or at least would aspire to change. Words and actions are far too often like distant lovers, trapped on opposite sides of some insurmountable divide.

When Hachiman was told that Hayato was dead, he wasn't happy or sad or lost or confused. He was just surprised.

He was told by Hiratsuka-sensei when he arrived on Monday morning, two weeks ago. The homeroom had been deathly silent, no one crying, no one talking, every one of them thinking of some impossibility or some change, or feeling some vague, disjointed hope that the news might just go away.

In the Yumiko's spare bedroom, on the night of their daughter's birthday, after all those lucky enough to be invited had left. That was where he'd been discovered, and by the birthday girl herself. Some birthday.

Like that, the routine was broken, so easily, as if it had never once existed in the first place. There and then gone, like condensation resting on a window pane, or the brown singed leaves spattering the Sobu High courtyard that you could see from the Service Club room. It only took a day or two for that unnerving, terrifying silence to lift and be replaced by a rush of tears from a dozen eyes in the school corridor, many of them belonging to people who'd only known of him. In some ways, it was almost relieving. Hachiman realised quickly that, when in a terrible crisis, you could always rely on people to strive for the limelight.

Strangely enough, those who undoubtedly suffered the most seemed far more proficient at hiding it. Miura Yumiko, who came into school with her make up pristine, and her clothes as stylish and fashionable as the year and a half before, and her eyes deadened with sleepless nights and a bloodied image no one should ever be subjected to. His friends, who brooded in a hushed quiet, that would only be broken by the slightest of whispers. Yuigahama, who couldn't bring herself to speak at the Service Club, or Tobe, whose jokes seemed to have abandoned him.

This is the eleventh meeting of the Service Club since it happened. Hachiman knows this clearly- he has counted, and not just the hours themselves, but the minutes within them and the seconds within them. Each has brought, or rather enforced, its own personalised brand of silence, cold and unforgiving as a gravestone, and its own erray of barely withheld agonies. Time, instead of slipping through the crannies of their fingers in these hours, appears to be trapped within them. They were all there that night, and though they cannot think of anything else, they could never possibly find the right order, the right combination of words, and neither would they want to.

For the first time, Hachiman has found himself relating to Hayama Hayato. One can only truly hate a routine until it chooses to abandon you.

Only a day ago has the talk of a funeral begun to filter through the twisting blocks of students in the Sobu High corridor. For once, this talk, occupying everyone's attention without a morsel of effort, is not gossip, but more like the relaying of an armistice at the end of a blood soaked war that no one has won. They were tired murmurs, close to broken ones, that followed the news that the police had started and carried out and finshed an enquiry in the course of seven days. Blink, and you would've missed it.

Hachiman himself had been called to make a statement, just after six o'clock in the evening. The officer who questioned him was an aging man with a bored and colourless face. He recounted the night that had signed, sealed and delivered him nightmares, and his response was an expectant nod, the vague scratch of a pen on a notebook, and the affirmation that his words were in accordance with the rest of those at the party. Just as Hachiman left the equally colourless room to see his family waiting, the officer told him one thing.

"Dreadful thing, a suicide that young," he'd said, without much sincerity. "I'm sorry you've lost a friend."

Hachiman half wished he'd responded then, instead of only nodding tiredly. It was as if the officer had opened and closed a door that hid something Hachiman could only guess at, and yet this something was of such indiscernible consequence, such excessive significance, that he could hardly bare for it to remain locked.

Hayama Hayato was adored by almost all who knew him. He was captain of the soccer team. He was top in many of his subjects. He had a life awaiting that glistened with an already near fulfilled potential. Then, as if propelled by a lost instinct known but unknown to us all, he opened his wrists and pierced his heart with a piece of shattered glass, and dropped dead to the floor in the spare bedroom of one of his best friends.

Why? Why would he even want to?

The question had been on the teetering edge of everyone at Sobu High's lips, including Hachiman's own. Yet the answer, which he thought he might know, was somehow more of a burden than the question itself.

He bit his tongue. He shouldn't be looking at this. These were Yukino's most personal, reveaing thoughts, laid bare to him with a terrible clarity. The Service Club meeting was over. Yuigahama Yui had already gone home. Yukinoshita Yukino would be returning to collect her school bag imminently after giving Hiratsuka-sensei the key. And here he was, perusing her insecurities after lingering behind for them like some crazed, obsessive lover.

Five seconds later, he had ripped out the page from the notebook and was walking away from the clubroom.

On either side of the gates to Sobu High is a curving line of bushes, encroaching on the school like a row of green infantry. Once he'd passed their circumference line he pressed his back against the cold metal and sighhed. Her thoughts on the paper were already lightly crumpled against his soiling fingers.

Hachiman is not arrogant, but neither is he the kind of person to shield his natural abilities beneath a cloak of indulgent modesty. He is naturally able, and will study accordingly, and his mind, like most of those who are naturally able, is constantly assessing and judging and speculating on the people around him. Yukinoshita Yukino has reserved more of his speculations than most. Speculations on her family, on her philosophies, on her lies. Though it may make him a little uncomfortable, he'd much prefer to waste time over her beauty than what he is wasting time over currently.

The stunning ineptitude of language occured to him once more. He has so many things to ask her. So many awful, inappropriate reservations to communicate to her. How would such a conversation even go?

"Yo, Yukinoshita. Nice day, isn't it? By the way, I'm pretty sure they were wrong about Hayama-kun. I mean, why would a guy like that wanna kill himself, am I right?"

Trying desperately not to crush the stolen paper ensnared in his palm, Hachiman continued his way back home, retracing the steps of his feet made a thousand times previously.

"I think we can all agree that party was pretty weird. We all said some shit we didn't mean. Most of us were drunk; some for the first time, I could tell. But me? I wasn't drunk, Yukinoshita."

Suddenly, he felt nausea, surging up from his stomach and up to his throat.

"I saw some pretty weird shit, as well. Much more than anyone else. Not even you were entirely sober, little Miss Perfect. But you know who the only other person who was sober was? He's no longer with us, if that's any indication."

He swallowed it down before it could emerge, and for a moment, its rancid taste rested on his tongue. His footsteps continued, stabbing into the sidewalk like shards of glass.

"And considering everything that's happened, if anyone would want to murder him, it would probably be-"

Hachiman's thougts remained restless and intrusive until he arrived back home.