[Fandom] Malory Towers
[Notes/Summary] Darrell/June. June is different from how she used to be.
The air is cool and Darrell’s breath clouds in it but June, next to her, feels warm.
“Jolly nice of you to give me the tour,” the younger girl is saying, face pale in the cold, barely seeming to notice it. They stand at the top of the hill. “You didn’t have to. I didn’t expect Alicia to do much to play the hostess, to be honest.”
“It’s fine. A bit of a cheek for her to be finishing up an essay when she knew she was going to have company.” Darrell’s voice sounds too loud. She feels like the jolly aunt, the hearty older relative. When did she start caring how she appeared to Felicity’s schoolfriends? But away from Malory Towers she has to struggle to remember that that is who June is. The girl is taller, she’s filled out a little, she could be a first-year student here at St Andrews. It is as if Darrell is misremembering what she – what school – was like.
June laughs. “Gosh, I’m hardly company, Darrell. Though it’s awfully nice of you to say so.” Her usual mocking tones which usually inspire nothing more than mild irritation that she is so very confident, so very willing to pick out your weaknesses.
There is something about the confidence that Darrell can’t stop returning to in her head. Something about wondering is June always this unshakeable? What is she like sleepy, or after a glass of wine, or if she’s talking to a boyfriend? Does she want to have a boyfriend? Does her insouciance scare them away? Would she let a boy kiss her or would she laugh that soft laugh and tell them how awfully silly they look?
What if I kissed her, Darrell says in her head over and over again, the unsayable, the unthinkable, hot with shock that she’s admitting it, what if I kissed her, what would she do then?
“You’ve gone awfully red,” June says. “You must be freezing. We should go back to your room. Or something.”
Darrell manages to nod. “We can… we can swing by Alicia’s dorm. See if she’s got any further. If you want.”
“Why should I want that?” June says. “I’ve had quite enough time with Alicia over the years. Whereas I think this is the first day I’ve spent with you where no one’s been trying to make anyone furious. It’s rather a novelty.”
Darrell feels herself blushing even more, although some of this is at least due to embarrassment at the reminder of her temper. “Oh, shut up. You make people furious just by being yourself. It’s just I’ve got used to it.”
“Mm-hm. So I don’t have any effect on you at all now?” A slow smile on her face and Darrell thinks she knows and then but how on earth did she –
“Not a thing,” she says, turning away, making to walk back down the path.
June laughs, but it’s gleeful now, simple pleasure in a game. She runs round to face Darrell, walks backwards to keep them facing each other. “You’re a rotten liar, did you know that?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Darrell can feel she’s bright red but the conversation is almost a joke. She can pretend it’s just a joke, that she isn’t actually saying to June I want…
But too-clever, too-confident June knows it all anyway. “You know just what I’m talking about,” she says. And then, “Oh, do stop being so silly. Come on. Let’s go back to your room and I’ll prove it.” Her gloved hand clutches Darrell’s, tugs her on down the path, and Darrell feels as if she’s about to fly free from the ground. She’s warm all over now.
[Fandom] Azumanga Daioh
[Rating] G. Mention of bullying
[Notes/Summary] AU - Osaka was reallocated to another class after all. But she's sure making new friends will be fine.
Osaka was all set to try and make new friends. Sure, she was plenty upset about bein’ kicked out of Miss Yukari’s class but she’d moved halfway across the country and done all right, so wouldn’t it be okay again?
“It’s fine,” she said to the others as she headed off to a new homeroom. “Gonna make a whole bunch of friends, you’ll see. Not as cool as you guys, a’course, but…”
And they waved her off and she couldn’t help wondering if they was glad she was outta their hair.
So that meant she was sorta distracted and sat in a seat someone else had already picked out. Didn’t mean to! She was just wondering where she’d got this pretty pencil case from ‘cause she didn’t recognise it when this girl Kusama stood over her and asked her what the heck she was doing. And her mind was sorta elsewhere so she babbled a bit and Kusama just said, like, not even trying to keep her voice down, “My god, what kind of freak have they sent us from the other class?”
End of the first week and Osaka realised she had a problem. She thought she’d been doing okay – like, sure she’d fallen asleep in class once or twice and one time she forgot to change her shoes coming in and she shouldn’t have maybe said stuff like boy, Miss Yukari drives like a getaway car, or you ever think about whether you could fly if you jumped off the roof? but end of the first week and she came into the room and no one looked at her, no one said anything to her, and she thought, uh-oh, ‘cause she’d seen this before, though she’d never been the one it was happening to.
She made like she was cool with it. Like, wasn’t as if she knew any of them, so she didn’t have anyone to miss, right? And if they didn’t want to talk to her, that was okay. She didn’t want to be talking to people if they didn’t want to talk to her.
Only it wasn’t okay though. You sit in class and you just got this nasty feeling in the pit of your stomach ‘cause you know everyone’s taking real care not to admit you exist, you know? And then if you answer the teacher or you go up to write on the board or you doze off then you hear people gigglin’ behind you or passin’ notes. And you know you shouldn’t care and you’re stupid for caring but you do.
She didn’t want Chiyo-chan and Tomo and the others to see she had no friends. She didn’t wanna be following them around actin’ weird. So she made sure to leave school when she wouldn’t run into them, and she mostly went up to the roof to eat lunch even if the sun wasn’t out. It was better that way too ‘cause they were starting to get meaner, in class, like bumping into her desk to knock her stuff on the floor, or taking things and hiding ‘em. (Well, with the hiding things she wasn’t totally sure, it could be just her forgetting. But the bumping was definitely happening.) One time when they were cleaning the classroom after school some of ‘em managed to lock her in the supply cupboard. Wasn’t so bad. She sat on an upturned bucket and waited til someone found her, figured if she had to she could sleep in here.
Only turned out it was Yomi and Sakaki who found her.
“What were you even doing in there?” Yomi demanded.
Osaka shrugged and said she guessed she forgot. Yomi rolled her eyes but said she may as well come and walk home with them seeing as she was here.
Osaka thought she’d been pretty cool, played it off and kept her secret, but maybe she hadn’t so much. ‘Cause her friends started showing up more.
Like, she’d changed her shoes and was walking away from the racks when she heard Chiyo-chan saying all bright, “Oh, excuse me, but those aren’t your shoes, those are my friend Osaka’s. Here, I’ll help you put them back. Which ones are yours?”
Like, in the classroom at lunch waiting to sneak off to the roof – it was pouring with rain but she didn’t like the look of the whispers and giggles directed at her – when Tomo burst in and yelled, “Osaka! I choose you!” and pointed dramatically and then, when Osaka stared at her, said, “Duh, I mean to eat lunch with. Come on, this room smells of feet,” and dragged her out to eat in her old classroom, where the people she’d been in class with last term all smiled and were like “Hey, Osaka,” like she was normal.
Like, in the volleyball match when Kusama slammed into her and sent her flying and then suddenly Sakaki was there, walking through the crowd head and shoulders above it, and reached down to Osaka and gave her a hand up. And then turned to Kusama and said, “You should be more careful, you know,” but in a Sakaki way, which meant if you didn’t know her it kinda sounded like she was going to do something bad to you later.
Kusama never really spoke to her but other people sorta got bored with it, started talking to her like she was real again. Didn’t matter, though. She didn’t need a whole bunch of new friends after all.
[Title] Only One Answer
[Fandom] Detective Academy Q / Saw
[Rating] PG-13 for violence
[Notes/Summary] Jigsaw wanted to make Q Class play a game.
The classroom was dark and still and they all had blankets put round their shoulders – for the shock, Megu remembers someone saying – and someone has made them hot drinks. She has green tea. She doesn’t remember asking for tea or even being given it and her hands keep shaking too much to hold the cup.
“Kinta’ll be fine, right?” Kazuma says. It’s like the fifth time someone’s said something like this. “It was… I mean… it looked bad, but he’ll be fine, the ambulance was right there and…”
Megu is closing her eyes and looking at photographs of a crime scene like she always does. Kinta is kneeling on the ground with someone’s sweater wrapped round his hand. Not his hand. What’s left of his hand. There’s blood spreading over it like someone’s changing the colour settings of the world. Ryu, kneeling next to him, has taken off his belt and is pulling it tightly round Kinta’s wrist. Kinta is the colour of rice porridge and he’s saying over and over again, too quickly, But I got the key, but I got the key, don’t worry, guys, I got the key…
She can feel a scream rising up in her throat and she wants to punch the wall or hit herself in the leg or something. It’s not fair, she shouldn’t have had to see that, Kinta shouldn’t have had to do that –
Kyuu is patting her on the arm and saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay. You know it always looks horrible for you when you remember but you’ll be okay just like you always are…” and Megu sniffs and tries to smile at him and nod.
“Kinta will be all right,” Ryu says.
Kazuma looks like a little boy again and Kyuu is almost humming with fury and worry and Megu can’t imagine how crazy she looks but Ryu is no different from usual. He sits resting his arms on his desk, hands wrapped round his coffee cup.
“How do you know?” she hears herself say, like she’s only a little girl herself.
“We put the tourniquet on very quickly. He is young and healthy and he’s receiving medical attention. It’s all…” Ryu stops, takes a breath: “It’s all positive. He’ll be all right.”
“But… we didn’t… they don’t have anything to sew back on,” Kyuu says, numbly. “We should’ve brought… we should…” He swallows. “I didn’t think… we should’ve…”
“No,” Ryu says. “It wasn’t as if we had any ice or anything, and we needed to keep our hands free. The most important thing was to get out alive.”
Megu nods and all at once she is remembering opening her eyes, something cold round her neck, the smell of rot and blood, and Ryu saying, quietly, Nobody move – don’t move a muscle –
“Maybe they’ll let us go home soon,” Kyuu says. “I mean we’ve told everyone what happened.”
Megu shrugs. She isn’t sure she wants to go home. She doesn’t want to bring all this back home with her and she really doesn’t want to sit around alone and see it every time she closes her eyes.
“They could get some clues out of it,” Kazuma says. “I mean… we all know it, every time a… a killer strikes again there’s a chance they’ve got careless. We could get some clues out of it. I mean, we’re DDS students, this isn’t any… this isn’t any worse than anything else we’ve…”
Megu can imagine Kinta saying, aggrieved, No, anything where I have to cut off my limbs is definitely worse than anything else. She wants to laugh and then she hates herself for thinking anything can be funny.
Kyuu is scowling at his hot chocolate.
“It’s not like that,” he says. “He didn’t have to – to put us in that game. He mostly picks on people he thinks need to be… reformed, right? Cheats and liars and… But he picked us. He knew all along that we’re good at solving things.”
Megu wants to put her hands over her ears.
“We… we did better than most people do,” Kyuu carries on. “I’ve… I’ve been thinking we… we got off lightly. Everything had a – a solution. He knew about Megu’s memory to spot where the second key was hidden. He… there was an electricity trap and Kazuma could get in to rewire it so we didn’t actually die. He knew that… he knew Kinta would be all brave and stupid and be the one who had to chop off…”
Ryu is looking over, nodding. “He wasn’t targeting our weaknesses. He was targeting our strengths.”
“Why?” Megu’s voice is going scream-y – she tries to keep it down to a whisper. “That’s a – that doesn’t fit, he… you mean he was being nice to us?”
Ryu says, “Perhaps he’s encouraging us to stick to our chosen path. Develop our skills. Or… or perhaps he’s making a point that… that this is what being a detective is. Saying – saying that the games are... are real.”
Kyuu’s mum shows up at that point and starts hugging Kyuu in front of everyone and Kyuu doesn’t even shove her off or act embarrassed. Megu sees that it pretty much finishes him off, he’s crying for real and hoping no one will see. Ryu doesn’t move but he keeps his gaze on Kyuu so Megu doesn’t even bother trying to get him to step back. She just prods Kazuma and the two of them wander out into the corridor, cold drinks in their hands.
“What’s their strengths?” Kazuma’s voice is still shaking. He wrenches out the words as if he’s trying hard to sound normal. Megu shivers – standing up is exhausting – and tries to focus on the puzzle. The clue. Because that’s what a detective does. No matter how awful the thing you’re trying to solve is.
“Kyuu figures things out quickly,” she says. “He and Ryu both… we could’ve worked out the puzzles but they do it fast and they, they work out better solutions when they’re talking to each other.”
“Yeah, but we all do that. I mean, if it’s just that, then it means they basically didn’t get tested and… that’s not fair.” He tries to laugh and it turns into a gulp instead. “This is so stupid. Why are we being so upset when we survived the death trap?”
“We’ll feel better when we’ve had some rest,” Megu says, trying to sound like her mother. “And when we know how Kinta’s doing.” Blood. A rusty blade. Kazuma staring, dead white, and Kyuu still yelling No, I won’t let you, and Ryu with no expression on his face…
Oh. That’s what it is.
“I think I know what it was,” she says. “Their strengths.
“Kyuu… he believes in people. He believes in us. He believes things are going to be okay. In the first room Kinta was all set to… to sacrifice himself and Kyuu yelled at him, remember? He said there was no way they were going to solve the puzzle like that, and… we didn’t have to. He never gives up and he never lets people down.” Her voice is going shaky again.
“Right.” Kazuma straightens his glasses, tries to put a thoughtful expression on over the miserable face. “And… Ryu?”
Megu can just see into the classroom from where she’s standing. Kyuu is mostly hidden by his mother. Ryu sits and watches them and his face isn’t blank, it is…
She’s seen faces like this before. She calls them up in her head and she realises. This is the face of someone working really hard not to acknowledge how bad they feel. How upset. How guilty.
“Ryu does what needs to be done,” she whispers. “I don’t think… with the hand trap, I don’t think there was a way where one of us didn’t have to… you know. Ryu didn’t waste time yelling about it. He just stayed calm and… got it done. He did that all the way through. He wasn’t scared about any of it.”
“Yeah,” Kazuma says. “And he’s still all calm now, he’s practically the same as usual. When the rest of us are all freaking out…” He can’t see into the classroom. Megu resists taking another glance. She thinks, but doesn’t say, No, I don’t think he is. Instead she forces another shaky smile, says, “We can thank him when Kyuu’s mum’s stopped crying on them.”