Most chapters will be longer than this. Have fun.
Shrieking winds made the air feel frigid, blowing snow in hypnotic patterns, people running along desperate to get as far away from this storm of cold as possible. Ice, slippery streets, cold, wind. This didn't sit well for the ginger who pulled her crimson scarf closer to her mouth, lips ready to freeze off, eyes struggling to stay open against the gale of absolutely freezing air that threatened to knock her over if she let her guard down.
And that was Kousaka Honoka's current struggle. It was her fault, she knew, as she had decided to stay late to help out a friend of her father's in the shopping district. The walk was a long one, but the weather hadn't been a torrential snowstorm when she had left, but now she was realizing her mistake. Red fingertips, red ears, bone-chilling air freezing her throat and cutting through her dark orange parka, making her limbs feel as if frostbite was coming on. At least she had the foresight to bring boots, so she wasn't slipping and falling on these snowy, frozen, god-forsaken sidewalks that wanted so desperately to throw her into a snowbank on either side.
She considered just heading back to university instead of her home, but she realized she left her key to her apartment at her house. Planning wasn't her strong suit, but she also hadn't considered the current dilemma she found herself in, instead planning on walking through only slightly chilly weather on her way home. Yeah, this wasn't going to happen, she realized ten or so minutes into the walk, her legs ready to collapse beneath her, her breaths coming in labored gasps as the cold air threatened to freeze her lungs every time she opened her mouth even slightly. As she considered her options, a passing car, who the hell would want to drive in this weather?, pulled up next to her.
Great, it's probably some creepy guy out on the prowl for women who happen to be walking in this shitty frozen wasteland of a city we call Tokyo, wait that's exactly what I am right now. How did I pick the wrong weekend to decide to spend at home? My apartment at the university wouldn't have gotten me into this mess, I'll say that. Well, all I have to do is tell him to leave me alone and hopefully I can just get on with it.
Honoka reluctantly stopped, trying her best to cover her face as the snowstorm pummels one side of her head, afraid that if she stands still for too long, she'll turn into a snowbank herself.
The door to the car opens and out steps, to the ginger's shock, a redhead beauty with curves of a model, violet eyes that captured Honoka's eyes immediately, soft pink lips undamaged by the horrific weather. This girl couldn't have been older than Honoka, looking like she just stepped off a college campus herself, her red cardigan showing that she hadn't exactly planned on stepping out of her car until she was just feet away from a warm cozy home. She must have said something that Honoka didn't respond to because she was waving a hand in front of Honoka's face to get her attention, snapping Honoka out of her daydream-like state of being transfixed on the beauty.
"I said, do you need a ride? A girl shouldn't be walking in this kind of weather. You'll definitely catch a cold or worse."
"Ah, no, I…" Honoka held her hands up as if trying to show that she wasn't cold, but her shivering body gave it away easily enough and the redhead grabbed the sleeve of her parka, pulling her towards the still-running car, the heat emanating from it enough of a temptation for Honoka to not resist, the allure of the girl another reason entirely and much more so than the car. She opened the passenger door and motioned for Honoka to get in.
"I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight if I just passed by a girl freezing to death, so hop in. You probably don't live that far away, right? So, it won't be that big of a deal. I don't want to hear any arguments." Honoka gave no arguments, transfixed by this redhead with curves of a goddess violet-eyed beauty that basically had to shove Honoka into the passenger seat before closing the door and running around to the other side to hop in.
There was an awkward silence at first, the girl clearly waiting for some kind of response from Honoka who just stared at her, still entranced by those violet eyes, the alluring soft red hair, the… She was broken from her thoughts by a glance from the girl, a brief one, but the seeing those violet eyes stare into hers for even just a second was enough shock to bring her back to world of the living where people actually have to voice concerns and opinions if they want others to understand.
But before she could organize her thoughts, the redhead threw a question her way. "Are you alright? Did the cold freeze your tongue?" She stuck out her own tongue for a emphasis and Honoka felt her heart take a leap at the cute gesture, a slight blush coming to her face that she shook away. This wasn't like her at all, so why was she acting like this now?
"Ehe, no, no. Sorry, I just… um… thank you for the ride." Thoughts were flying in every direction and casting out her fishing line, she pulled up her belated thank you. Honoka internally slapped herself for not being able to fish up anything that would actually keep a conversation going, but the redhead beauty that she couldn't take her eyes off of helped her with that.
"Mm. Like I said, leaving you out there would have left me with a guilty conscience. Ah, where do you live? We don't want to drive around in circles for hours in this weather." Honoka gave her directions and the girl just nodded, seemingly pleased that the distance was even shorter than she had initially thought. "I take it you're not the talkative type, huh?"
Honoka tries to say something to that, to refute it, but her jumbled thoughts once again destroy any chance of her coming up with anything coherent. While it was true that Honoka's friend count was a flat one, she wasn't against socializing and, with that one friend, socialized quite a bit as well as with her family. As these thoughts processed, Honoka bit them back, deciding that declaring, "I talk to my one friend plenty," would just put her in a pitiable position that she didn't want to be in with this girl.
"I, uh, just a little cold still, ehe…" Honoka tried to laugh it off but the redhead threw her a genuinely concerned look before cranking the heat up a bit more, an unnecessary action because Honoka felt completely fine temperature-wise. If anything, being so close to the redhead was making her feel warmer, but she couldn't say that.
Before long, with the rest of the conversation being Honoka awkwardly giving directions, Maki pulled up in front of her home, a Japanese sweets shops, Homura, that doubled as the Kousaka household.
"Thank you again for the ride." Honoka managed, finally pulling herself together enough to communicate a coherent thought to the girl who probably saved her.
"Of course. Leaving a cute girl to freeze doesn't sit well with me." Honoka felt her heart leap, an assault on her chest that threatened to make her faint or worse, a sudden pull that made her want to lean into the girl, to stay in the car, to drive away from her home and be somewhere else, anywhere with her longer, but that thought was washed away as the redhead held out a hand. "Hopefully we meet again."
Honoka smiled widely, perhaps the first smile she had shown this girl she thought and took that hand. And everything froze. This is… An involuntary use of her… Images flashed across her mind, Honoka unable to grab just one. Sights, smells, sounds, feelings, everything washed over her, overwhelming her senses, her brain working overtime to just process this rush, a headache threatening to drive her down. And then she found herself no longer holding the warm inviting hand of a redheaded beauty, but standing on her university's campus, next to the Health Sciences building, a newer building than the others with a wide archway that led into a fancy interior, part of which was still being renovated due to some electrical issue. Honoka had experienced this enough times to know what she was looking for, but it never ceased to disorient the her to the point of almost fainting.
As she caught herself and managed to keep her senses intact, a glance around showed nothing of note, most sounds were dulled, the air was cold but not freezing, people walked all around her, heading to class or away, none acknowledging the existence of this girl. A flash of red. The red hair that she somehow already felt familiar with, short wavy red hair, a girl with the curves of a goddess, soft pink lips, piercing violet eyes, walking right by Honoka, not sparing a glance for the girl even when she tried to call out. The redhead who Honoka just realized she hadn't even gotten the name of walked by her and into the Health Sciences building, Honoka following close behind, her senses feeling dull to everything besides this one girl. But even through those senses, she could hear something, a dull scream sounding as if it was underwater, a loud sound and she knew what was happening long before it happened.
As she tried to call this time, information flooded her head, so many details, most of which didn't register in her brain, but plenty got through.
Nishikino Maki. 20. April 19. AB.
A host of information continued to pass by, but she pushed through, determined to ignore it, watching the redhead as she looked above her, everything moving in slow motion for Honoka, all colours except that beautiful red hair muting, sounds becoming nil, and Honoka forced out the name that had been pushed on her against her will.
Reaching out, but too late. As a large electrical unit fell, Honoka knowing there was no possible way to reach it in time, tears flying from her eyes, her hand suddenly feeling much colder, a scream that would hurt her throat for the next week, the terrified look in those violet eyes. But before she could witness the end, gone.
"Hey, are you okay?"
Honoka's eyes snapped open, the warmth of the car, the warmth of that hand, the violet eyes no longer filled with fear but concern, car, snow outside, her house. Everything came back all at once and she was no longer witnessing the death of a girl she had just met. Her breathing had picked up and she could feel her heart slamming against her chest, her hand suddenly sweaty and she reluctantly released that hand, almost immediately regretting it but knowing she had to move. She pushed opened the door and hopped out, looking back only for a second, unsure of what her face must look like. Honoka tried her hardest to keep a passive expression, but she knew she must look like a nervous wreck now, must look like… she just witnessed someone dying.
"Thank you for the ride, Nishikino-san." Words spoken into a white mist that blew from her trembling lips, she closed the door and sprinted into her house, slamming that door shut behind her, not looking back at the redhead, too nervous to.
A quick hello to her family and she ran up the stairs, tossing her coat on the floor of her room before hopping on her bed, the house feeling colder than ever despite the heater keeping the other members of her family warm. Honoka felt a cold sweat dripping down her back and struggled to throw her shirt off, deciding that a bath and sleep was needed.
The warm water enveloped her, briefly trivializing every problem she had ever had, a smile flashing across her face before her mind drifted back to the redhead driver, Nishikino Maki. Honoka lifted her hands out of the water, hands that were still shaking, but she took a deep breath to stop that. Thoughts flooded her mind about the… vision, or whatever, she had witnessed, a phenomenon she was all too familiar with, though she rarely had one so vivid, with so many sights, sounds, feelings, that had almost overwhelmed her. Yeah, this was something normal for her, gathering information about something just from touch, unwillingly. And that escalated to visions sometimes, visions of the past, future, either, sometimes of trivial events, sometimes… that.
Honoka let herself sink deeper into the bath, praying that the hot water would soak that power right out of her body, drain it, and leave it where nobody would ever be able to claim it. A futile wish she knew, remembering the first time, when she was just a child, that this had occurred. She shook her head, not wanting to remember the past, just wanting to focus on the present, on a new life where she could try to lead a normal life, her sole wish. To lead a normal life. That was the one thing Kousaka Honoka wanted and the one thing that she could never be granted.
After all, there is no treatment or doctor she can visit about "psychic abilities." She would be laughed at or called crazy and sent off to some mental hospital for schizophrenia or something. And then she'd just be in an even worse position.
Honoka sat up straight, sending water flowing over the edge of the tub. "Get it together, me!" She pinched both of her cheeks. "University life will be fine! You already have a great roommate who accepts you. This semester I'll definitely get out and make more friends! I can't let this hold me back forever! Yeah!" A fist pump and she was feeling a bit better. "But first…" The image of the seconds before NIshikino Maki's death flashed in head again. And the information she needed was already in her head. Tomorrow, 2pm, Health Sciences building, all the positions of everybody who was there at the time. She would need to ditch her Archaeology class, but her professor would understand if she was saving a life, right? Of course, Honoka pushed that idea out of her head, the idea of unveiling her power only to be called a joke and kicked out by the professor wasn't something she would look forward to, and people regularly ditched that class anyways.
Jumping out of the bath and another fist pump later, she was ready to turn in for the night, deciding to wake up early and head over to the university so she could think about her plan.
"Ahh… I'm home." Honoka lazily called out as she entered her apartment, but with a glance, every light was off meaning her roommate had either yet to return from home or had headed out super early for something, whichever was fine for her, she knew they would see each other that evening. She ran into her room and grabbed her back, checking textbooks and notebooks quickly before setting out, her destination the Health Sciences building.
On arrival… Honoka couldn't really come up with a reason for being there. With her schedule, she would make it in time easily by skipping Archaeology, but what else could she besides pull Maki aside or push her out of the way. The second seemed risky so she was going to opt for the first, not wanting to risk the slightest mistiming. Nodding at her "plan," she left for her morning class, which she mostly slept through, not really caring to take notes with something so heavy weighing on her mind.
"Eli-chan!" Honoka yelled out, spotting her blonde half-Russian roommate from across the way, having forgotten until just a few minutes ago that they both had time off for lunch. Eli was sitting at an outside table, a bento she had prepared herself with an assortment of meat and veggies in front of her, Honoka running up to her and jumping in the seat across from her, ripping open the plastic holding the bread she had just bought from the school store. Spoiling herself with bread would get her mind off the whole situation. But she shook her head, knowing now wasn't the time be thinking like that.
Honoka's emotions must have been showing on her face because Eli called out to her with a worried tone.
"Is something wrong, Honoka? Is it about that ?" She leaned in and whispered the last part, glancing around to make sure nobody was within earshot. Honoka almost laughed at the way she treated the secret Honoka had shared with her, always acting like somebody was trying to listen in on their conversation. When it came to this secret, Eli was prepared to go to spy levels of stealth to avoid any unwanted eavesdroppers.
"Mm." Honoka slowly chewed her bread before swallowing, savoring the taste and the energy restoration that she would need throughout today. "Do you know a NIshikino Maki?" Eli shook her head. "She drove me back home the other night and I shook hands with her. And now I'm in some deep stuff. If I don't do anything, there's going to be a big accident involving her. I know you don't like me skipping class, Eli-chan, but you might have to make an exception this once." Honoka flashed her an innocent smile and begging puppy eyes to which Eli sighed.
"If you're helping someone, of course I don't mind. Do you need my help?" The genuine concern Eli always showed when Honoka got herself into these situations warmed Honoka's heart. She knew she really couldn't have asked for a better roommate and friend to go through this stuff with.
"No, it's fine. I'll be helping her before the accident happens so there shouldn't be any risk. Thanks though, Eli-chan." Honoka smiled warmly, grateful for the sole friend that she could share these experiences with. Eli just nodded and went back to eating her bento, not seeming the least bit concerned, her trust in Honoka full and unwavering.
After the conversation, Honoka thanked her and ran off, almost slipping and falling into one of the snowbanks that surrounded every path because their university was insane enough not to cancel classes after the horrible snowstorm last night. Well, at least they had taken the time to push the snow off the pathways, and it felt significantly better not being pelted by snow no matter which direction she turned to. Two hours until showtime, Honoka internally psyched herself up.
Honoka was planted behind the Math building which neighbored the Health Sciences building, bread in her mouth as she waited for her target and, sure enough just as she'd seen, the redhead walked down the same path Honoka had been standing when she'd seen that vision, moving towards the building with a confident walk. Guys looked at her and whispered to each other, Honoka munching on her bread harder, upset that so many people were ogling the redhead that she wanted to be close to, but she threw the bread away, knowing her task was more important than getting upset over something so useless. She took out her phone and, without calling anyone, placed it up to her ear.
"Honoka, engaging target." A few seconds would be enough she figured, if she could just buy a few seconds she could prevent the otherwise inevitable tragedy. And she dashed out, pulling up a white face mask for colds that she had swiped from the Health Center in preparation, pulling on a pair of Sloan's, hoping that would be enough to hide her identity, miraculously managing to not slip and fall face first into the snow. And off she went, a straight line for the stunning redhead, absolutely no plan besides dragging her away… Honoka's mind paused, her feet luckily still moving towards Maki. Earlier, her only "plan" had been physically stopping the girl, but if her identity was revealed while doing that, she would have no chance… Honoka shook her head. Now wasn't the time to think about that.
"Maki!" She got more than a few looks, one of those being the confused look of the redhead as she turned to see who was yelling her name, and that look only got more confused when she saw a ginger haired girl with a face mask and sunglasses running at her. Before she could attempt to flee, Honoka grabbed her arm, holding on tightly, determination and adrenaline surging through her body. "Don't go!" Honoka internally slapped herself for not coming up with something reasonable to say except for that.
"What are you talking about? I don't even know you!" Maki yanked her arm away and fled towards the building, probably hoping to grab the closest on-duty campus security officer to get this strange girl chasing her to leave her alone. Right as Maki took her first step into the arch, Honoka heard the scream from a man, the one she had heard in her vision. She was just inches from her goal, pushing her body to go as fast as it could.
Just once! God, Buddha, whoever is out there! Just let me reach her, please! If I'm going to live with this curse, then just once, let it reach! Let me save her, at least! I have to have this stupid curse for a reason, right!? So, let this be it! If Nishikino Maki is the reason for my curse, I'll never complain about it again! I'll treasure it and use it protect her! So… don't let it end like this!
A surge of energy filled her, her body squeezing out everything it had for just one more step that was quick enough, her arm stretched as far as it could go, fingers brushing the light fabric of the redhead's shirt.
Just… one more step!
Honoka felt her foot plant solidly on the ground and pushed off, every ounce of strength in her body moving her towards that sole goal: Nishikino Maki, the redhead who had flipped her world for just seconds, the redhead that she knew was the one reason she would suffer through this curse for. Honoka lunged forward, her hand wrapping around the girl's thin arm, tightly, never wanting to let go, just needing to make sure that in this moment, this girl would live. Honoka stopped and pulled back as hard as her body would allow, yanking Maki right off her feet. Honoka fell backwards from the sudden lack of force, Maki landing on top of her and blowing all the air from her lungs, just as the two heard a loud sound, an electric unit crashing down just feet from them inside the building.
A few people screamed in shock, trying to see if anybody had gotten hurt but Honoka, even with the air expelled from her lungs, even with the promised soreness the current pain in her body made her realize, she knew she had done it, reluctantly letting go of Maki's arm, she let her head rest back for just a second, catching her breath and letting a smile form under the face mask.
Nishikino Maki was alive.
After recovering from the fall, Maki stood, ready to go off on this random girl who had, in her eyes, assaulted her, but she turned to see the destroyed unit, the floor where she would have been standing cracked from the impact, and turned to look at the ginger haired girl who was getting back to her feet, briefly looking at Maki before taking off in the other direction.
"Ah! Wait!" Maki tried to give chase, but she had twisted her ankle when the girl pulled her down so there was no chance of her running, much less catching up to the ginger running full speed. "Who…?"
Honoka sprinted as fast as she could, and she was fast, but she felt the repercussion of trying to move faster than her body recommended and, as soon as she was nearing the Liberal Arts building, where her skipped class was being held, she fell to her hands and knees, gulping down air, sweats pouring down her face, her heartrate through the roof, but a smile on her face, bigger than ever before.
"I did it!" She yelled, briefly drawing looks from the people around her. She tore the face mask off to make breathing easier. "I… I did it… Maki… is alive…"
"Good work, Honoka." Something cold touched her cheek and she looked up to see Eli standing there, a bottle of water in hand. Before questioning anything, Honoka grabbed the bottle and downed half the contents, finally cooling down and finally able to start catching her breath. "I assume you were successful?"
"That's right…" Honoka spoke up, her smile still there, the feeling of triumphant victory still making her blood rush. "Maki is safe… I'm so glad… But Eli-chan, what are you doing here?"
"Pfft. Like I would just sit and class and hope the best for my best friend when I can be there in person. Looks like I was a little late since I missed the actual event though." She laughed a bit and Honoka internally laughed, too tired to actually perform the action.
Eli offered a hand to her and she gratefully took it, quickly downing the rest of the bottle as she stood.
"So, do you still want to show up to class?' Eli asked, full well knowing the answer, draping one of Honoka's arms around her shoulders so she could support her.
"I think… I just want a bath and a nap."
Eli laughed and the two walked off in the direction of their apartment.
Fun stuff. I thought writing a good ol HonoMaki fic would be great, since I think they're too underrated as a couple.
Anyways, this doesn't mean I'm gonna start ignoring Musings of the Dead, I'll just be writing two fics at once (because that always turns out well, right?). But I'll try to get on some kind of posting schedule when I can be bothered. Big exam on Thursday and next Tuesday though, so don't expect much else this week in regards to any fic.
As always, hope you enjoyed.
Till next time. Be seeing you.