Drag It’s Dead Weight Forward
Made on: 29 Jul, 2023
Word Count: 5,626 words
Relationship(s): Yuuki Tougou & Akane Kasai & Shino Kominami, Also Kind-of Background Akane Kasai/Shino Koiminami
Characters of Focus: Yuuki Tougou, Akane Kasai, Shino Koinami,
Metadata: Alternate Universe: Role Reversal, Technically also: Age Swap, Fluff and Angst
Setting: Technically during canon (for the most part), just an AU version of it
Prompt: Paradise Lost
Warnings: ghosts and talk of off-screen car accidents, murders, and (implied) suicide, although none in detail.
Beginning Authors Note: This was originally written for tinyfandomflash!
As she nears the club room the steady tapping of her shoes against the tile slows to a nervous rhythm. All she knew about these people was that Shiho knew them and that they were in charge of the forums. Were they older than her? Or maybe they believe the rumors spreading around?
The storm of worries pauses as she reaches the doorway. She clears her throat before knocking.
"Come in!" A muffled voice calls back.
Handle squeaking as she turns it, she lets herself into the room. It's small, taken up mostly by shelves filled to the brim. Opposite to her, there's a window and, in front of it, a desk where two teens sit; one in front of a computer, the other clutching a plush bunny.
They both stare at her.
The one with the pink bunny in her hands jolts into action first, leaning forward towards Shino. "Hello! Do you need help with something?"
Her warm voice somehow washes the remnants of Shino’s worry away. "Yes. You're in charge of the forums, right?"
The girl nods, her hands bouncing slightly with her.
"Can you," Shino breathes deeply, forcing every inch of confidence into the next words, "Take down a message for me?"
The girl blinks, then turns to the other teen, the other returning with a wide eyes stare.
"Oh!" The chair clatters as the girl bolts up to her feet, "Oh! It's those weird posts!"
Shino freezes, trying to think over the response, "I'm sorry?"
The other, a red head, starts clicking away at the computer. "It's these ones right?" And turns the computer around to show–
What she was there for.
"Yes, those. Can you take them down?"
The boy nods, turning the computer back around and going to work. Arms positioned as if hugging herself, the girl turns to her, gnawing on her lower lip.
"I'm sorry about that, we were going to look into it before deleting them, but we got so busy with a—another project and it slipped my mind." She ducks her head into a bow, "I'm sorry for all the stress."
Heat rises to her cheeks, this girl… is a bit much. "It's no worry—I mean, it's fine. It all worked out now."
The girl lifts her head, eyes blazing. "If something like this happens again, just come to us. Ok?"
Shino agrees and shuffles out the door before she can start apologizing again. It's only when she gets back to her desk that she realizes that she never got their names.
This is, despite her hopes, not the end of it. Even with the lack of posts, she can still hear the rumors when she walks in the halls. Whispers between friends in the library. Harsh murmurs at lunch. The words twisting into another beast given the room of a couple of weeks, a lack of real sources to turn to making egging them on.
She tries her best to ignore it.
Keeping her head down, she weaves through the exiting students. She passes the main stairway, overcrowded and loud as it is, and heads instead for the one deeper into the school. Outside the windows is the rush of foot traffic, as students take a shortcut through the back of the school to get to after-school clubs.
She passes a classroom with its door still ajar, inside are two students leaning against desks chatting lightly to each other as the teacher collects her papers. Past that is the stairs.
The stairs are usually slightly dusty, but untouch by the mud usually trailed in during this time of year. The only ones using it are probably only some of the staff and, now, Shino herself.
Today, though, there is someone there.
A young teen, probably no older than Shino, loiters at the top. Leaning on the handrails while scrolling her phone. It’s none of her business as to why this girl has decided to hang out here, despite Shino never seeing her in all the time she’s used this route.
Averting her eyes, she goes to walk on the other end of the stairwell so as to not disturb them only to be stopped by a sharp bark of “Hey!”
Phone pocketed, the girl stalks forward and Shino instinctively shrinks towards the wall behind her.
“I've been waiting for you.” The girl smiles, an empty, hungry look, and circles closer.
She leans in, not by much, but enough to make Shino's hands start to get clammy, her back already pushed all the way up against the wall.
“I can't believe they let someone like you even come to this school.“ She sneers.
The girl opens her mouth again but in interupted by the sound of loud footsteps clacking against the wooden floors. A person comes around the bend and enters the stairway, the girl glances at whoever it was before turning back to Shino.
”Is something going on?“ The other student, no, it's the newspaper club boy, asks, walking over to the two of them.
The girl, realizing that the older student wouldn't ignore what was going on, huffs. ”Nothing, just talking.“
The boy stares down at the two of them, eyebrows furrowed, and the girl huffs once again before turning, decisively, and trotting down the stairs, giving Shino one last glare.
After watching her go, the boy turns his attention back to Shino, ”Are you doing alright?“
”Yes, thank you.“ she wipes her hand off on her skirt.
He waves it off, although Shino can see a hit of blush on his cheeks, ”It's nothing, this is more of Akane's type of thing than mine anyways.“
”Oh, uh, Akane Kasai, the other newspaper club member. I'm Yuuki Tougou, by the way.“
”Shino Kominami, nice to make your acquaintance.“
Yuuki laughs at the formality, but replies with a smile, “Nice to meet you too.”
He stares off to where the stairs turn, down a couple dozen steps, and glances back over to Shino with furrowed brows. “Would you mind if I walked with you a bit? You're heading home right?“
She is, so she walks in almost lockstep with Yuuki down the stairs. It's silent at first, as two strangers walking together somewhat awkwardly tend to be, until Yuuki starts chattering about some articles that they might publish in the paper.
It's odd to think about the newspaper club actually making papers, since, well, Shino never really pays attention to them enough to pick up the monthly articles, but it would be rude to say so, so she keeps her mouth shut. It does seem like an interesting club, if not a bit boring.
Yuuki was talking about a new local plant shop opening nearby the school that Akane's thinking about having him interview, when they have to part ways.
”Stay safe, Kominami-san,“ Yuuki waves at her, already half turned towards the street he has to go down, ”If you need to get away at any time, the clubroom is always open for you. Akane never minds having company.“
Shino nods, waves back, and continues on to her house.
Her sleep that night is restless, but it’s sleep.
The club room becomes a bit of a respite for Shino in the following weeks. She's not there all the time, but occasionally when the whispers become too much she comes to sit and work on homework. She usually visits during lunch or before school proper starts, not one to stay after school much.
The company is nice, Shino has to admit, and Akane does seem to enjoy having someone to hang out with when Yuuki goes out to investigate stuff for the paper.
This lunch, it's only Akane in the room when Shino arrives. She sits down at the main table, pulling out math homework as the apparent club leader reads something on the computer.
Her pencil scrapes across the paper, gray lead lines slowly working out each equation. The window allows a nice line of light into the room. As she works, Shino can hear the clicking of the computer keys as Akane taps around at something.
Eventually she takes out her lunch, brought from home today, and sets it up around her papers as she moves on to her social studies homework.
She's gotten through most of it –both her lunch and papers– when something odd happens. A sudden thud to the room next to them, which Akane looks up at.
“That's the storage room.” The senior mutters, picking herself off of her chair.
A yelp, distant, before the table shakes enough that Shino's pencil case knocks over. She stands up as well, the tremors slight but still present through the floor, and backs up to the wall.
“An earthquake?” Shino asks, somewhat obviously, “Kasai-san, we should get to the gym.”
Akane, instead, stares out of the window and points, “The tree's aren't moving, which means...”
Akane looks up and to the left suddenly, up through the ceiling like she could see through it somehow, before shushing Shino and, after making a quick few steps towards her, push her towards the corner next to the door and downwards, so that she ends up sitting on the ground.
Now standing almost protectively over her, Akane looks down and gives a sheepish smile, “Sorry to involve you in this, but you'll be fine Kominami-chan, I promise!”
The tremors get worse for a second, knocking off items on the table and a chair to the ground, and then a hand appears out of the ceiling.
It's white, with a tattered cuff circling it, and it pushes against the walls dragging in the rest of it. An arm, A head, A body. It half falls, half floats onto the floor in front of Akane and Shino watches dumbstruck from between the gap of Akanes legs as the bare, white, feet make a sopping mess of the floor.
It, the thing that looks like a person, hisses at Akane. It takes a moment for Shino to realize that it strings together as words.
“Join me...” It moans, “Join... Me... Now...”
It grips Akane's shoulders, water dripping down in beads off its clammy fingers and seeping into the girl's sweater. Akane looks straight back at it, head high.
“Hello miss!” She starts brightly, not even attempting to struggle out of its grip, “I’m sorry but I don’t think I can.”
”You're that woman from the office downtown, right?“
Akane reaches up and places her hand over the one on her shoulder. Her voice turns more morose, “I'm sure you were quite scared, being all alone in that car.”
It's quiet, movements cease and inhumanly still. Even the water has stopped dripping off of it, beads of it frozen mid motion.
“It's not fair.” Akane states, “You had so many hopes for the future, a whole career and life to get to, but it just didn't work out.”
Akane looks down at its hand, a sad expression now revealed to Shino.
“Join...” It stutters.
“You just wanted someone to be there, right? For someone to pause and take the time to look at you.”
“It's okay.” Akane looks back towards it– the women. Torn clothes now pristine, feet sheathed in black flats, water absent on her body. “It's all okay now. It's over, and you won't have to feel like that ever again.”
“Please...” She leans forward, hands dropping off of Akane's shoulder to now pick up the girl's hands. Her head dips towards one of Akane's ears and Shino gets a glance at her face— lively and filled with grateful sorrow, eyes pinched at the corners with a small, small smile.
She whispers something, and then she is gone.
It’s silent, for a moment, the only hint that anything ever happened in the first place is the items still strewn about on the floor. There's no spilled water in the room.
Akane breaks it by turning back to Shino, who gazes up at the older girl dumbly.
“What— What was that?”
Akane smiles, not unkindly, but in an odd sort of pinched way that makes Shino’s heart ache something fierce.
“Hey, Kominami-chan, do you believe in ghosts?”
Shino later learns that what was tinting Akane’s smile was grief, but that’s not for a while yet.
“I think we need to head left up here, Yuuki-senpai.”
Shino joins the club proper soon after that, it turns out that there’s a lot more to it than those once a month prints. A part of being in the club proper is going out for investigations, apparently. She's still green to all this, It was hard enough to wrap her head around rumors being able to come true through the forum, and honestly she's still getting her brain adjusted to the idea, and harder still to tamp down of the reflexive skepticism when faced with her senpai's treating ghosts as if they were real.
But, what would she call what happened in the clubroom if they weren't? She checked later, there was no announcement about earthquakes that day and none of the other students talked about experiencing one online, not to mention that woman that appeared.
Yuuki studies the paper he printed out before glancing back up at the park in front of them. “I think this is it.”
The park is next to an apartment, clearly meant for hyperactive children to get their energy out without having to walk too far from their homes. The rumor they’re investigating is apparently about lost objects appearing with weird marks etched into them and this park is the latest place where this event is happening. If they got it right based off of the photo posted to the forums, of course.
“Now what?” Shino asks. This is her first time out on field work, so to say.
“Now we look around for clues.”
They split up for a bit, searching around the park for any items. But other than some shovels in the sand pit it's remarkably well kept.
After about 20 minutes Yuuki waves her over to the swings, where he sits in one of them and gestures for Shino to do the same.
“Let's rest our feet for a moment, okay?”
“I can stand.” Shino does not care much for being patronized.
Yuuki shrugs, “Well, I can't make you do anything. I didn't find anything, how about you?”
Shino shakes her head.
“I figured,” Yuuki sighs, “Well, it's not like false leads or dead-ends are uncommon. I'm sure we'll figure something out tomorrow, if Akane doesn't already having something cooked up for us to do.”
They've been out long enough for the sun to start tinting the ground orange, the shadows starting to stretch out before them, and it's only now that Shino asks the question that's been gnawing on her since this started.
“Why isn't Akane out here with us?”
The slight swinging motion that Yuuki has started nudging his swing towards stops as he puts his feet firmly on the ground, frowning, “Something about the outside just doesn't treat her right anymore, so she can't be out too often and has to rush home or else she becomes sick.”
Shino already regrets asking, despite her curiosity. It feels like overstepping somehow. “Oh.”
“It's a bit of a shame, really, when I knew her my freshmen year she used to love exploring and dragging me places. That's why I agree to do most of the work she wants me to do. I don't like her feeling like she's limited in some way by circumstance.”
His gaze turns to face Shino fully, who's standing awkwardly by one of the poles of the swingset, half tempted to start wringing her hands. “I know she doesn't mind me mentioning it, but she really dislikes talking about it so uh, please don't ask her anything about this?”
“Of course.” She wouldn't even if he didn't ask.
“Ah, sorry to bring down the mood. I hope she gets better somehow so she could join us. You two get along really well already!”
Shino flushes, “I like to think I get along with everyone in the club, Yuuki-senpai.”
Picking himself off of the swing, He laughs, “I didn't mean anything by it! I should start heading home now, would you mind walking back together?”
Despite being in actual danger more often than anyone would have liked, Shino finds the club really enjoyable. More enjoyable than any club she's been in previously, which isn't a lot, but the thought still counts. She enjoys their company even if she does have to suffer through Akane's winning, begging Yuuki to help her with homework, or Yuuki's infrequent teasing of her. It's really nice, and she finds herself hoping for it to last.
This, of course, is a fool's wish.
”Aw, I miss my sweater already!“
Yuuki sighs, a rueful smile on his face, ”Akane, you've only started to wear your summer outfit today.“
Yuuki laughs at Akane’s disgruntled expression, and after a moment Akane starts laughing too. Shino giggles at the dramatics behind her hand.
Akane sobers up, ”Summer, huh? We only have a few more newspapers left to do.”
Not that any of them really put a whole lot of effort into them, it was more of a thrown together thing the two older teens leave for the last moment to do.
“I hope we can solve a lot more rumors before it lets out!” Akane finishes.
”Shouldn't you want less rumors?“ Shino asks, a tab exasperated, ”or did you forget how scared you were with the last five?“
”But without rumors we can't help anyone!“
Shino has to concede that that does make some sense, Akane-logic wise.
“There's always next year.” Yuuki points out, before stopping, “Oh. Huh, nevermind, I forgot you're a senior, Akane-senpai. What with how many times you've asked your kohai for help.”
“Hey! It's not my fault that math is evil and targeted specifically to destroy my weeknights!”
He's right, Shino almost forgot as well. Graduation seems so far away for a freshman like her, but it's such a close reality for Akane. What will she do after this? What college will she end up going to? Hopefully somewhere close, she would hate to have difficulty in meeting up with her someplace once she graduates.
Nothing can last forever, but that doesn't mean Shino shouldn't try to stay in touch.
After months of absence, another forum post by anonymous appears near the end of the year.
The three of them crowd around the computer to read it. Shino has to wiggle between her two seniors to even see.
It reads out something along the lines of this: the forum has angered a ghost because it is being used to spread terrible horror stories and not being used to help people and prevent these stories from happening. Because of this, the ghost will haunt those that have used the forum maliciously in 74 hours after this is published unless the club hosting it can assuage its worries.
Shino cannot be absolutely sure, because she kept on getting jostled while trying to read it. Geez, she should have just used her phone instead of letting herself get wrapped up in her seniors' excitement.
Although now, they've both mellowed out.
"Angered…" Yuuki notes, glancing sideways to Akane.
She's unresponsive, staring, hard and longing, down into the computer. As if by staring it down it will start to sweat bullets and admit as to how, exactly, they should solve this problem that it put in their laps. Or something of the like.
"Geez." Shino can't help but huff, and then, for added emphasis, "Geez."
Akane snaps back to herself at that, turning and angling away from the screen in order to poke at Shino.
"Aw, now, don't be like that, Shino-chan! We'll figure it out just like always." She laughs. It somehow seems more strained than usual. "Now, how do you guys think we should tackle this?"
Shino ends up scouring the library, and then interviewing people around who have used the forum. All dead ends.
She returns to the club room long after the normal time for a student to leave to find Yuuki paging through old archives, Akane nowhere to be found. Probably due to her illness again.
The boy looks up at her entrance, "Shino-san, Hello! How is the investigation going?"
"Not very well, I'm afraid."
"It's the same here." He sighs, letting the pages fall from his hand and back onto the table, "Well, nothing left to do but to get ready for tomorrow. I'm sure we'll figure it out then. Would you mind if I walk with you for a bit?"
The answer never changes to that, so the two find themselves walking down the streets together. Shino's quick and efficient pace paired with Yuuki's more relaxed gait. The street lamps above them buzz in golden yellow, bathing the concrete in its dull, fading light. Above that is the dark blue skies, littered with tiny glinting stars and an almost new moon with only a sliver in the sky.
Below, the two of them go on in silence until they have to part ways.
"Take care Shino-san! With you on the case, I'm sure it will get solved."
"Don't tease me."
Yuuki laughs, "I'm being serious! Sleep well!"
He waves, and Shino waves back before heading down the street.
She doesn't sleep well. She keeps on tossing and turning over how malicious use is categorized by that ghost.
It turned out to be as simple as checking the archive of the forum — she's been asked not to before, because they were worried about restarting old rumors, but desperate times call for desperate measures and they only have a couple hours left— and she doesn't even have to look hard.
The first post in the archive is a notice as for why it's being retired, dated about 5 years ago.
"As many of you may have heard already, due to unfortunate circumstances the club now has only one member. One was killed due to a hit and run near downtown two months ago. Last week, our other member passed away.
I will be dissolving the club and closing down the forum this Friday. Thank you for having us, and please keep the families of the students in your mind.
Akane Kaisai’s desk is in 4-D, if you want to leave your respects.
Thank you. I'm sorry."
It's titled simply as shutdown and Shino stares at it, almost shutting down herself. Re-reading the post over and over until the door to the club room opens.
"Shino-chan!" Akane bounds into the room, "I was wondering where you went—Oh!"
Shino turns to see her looking shocked at her, only a few steps away.
"Aw, Shino-chan, it's okay."
Akane closes the distance between the two of them. Ducking down and pressing her hands up against the younger girl's cheeks. Cupping her face. Wiping her thumb against the tears leaking out of the girl's eyes. Soft skin against soft skin.
"It's okay," she says in a low, quiet voice, unlike the usual bolstering yells Shino has come to expect, "Shh, it's okay Shino. It's not your fault if you can't solve this, it's okay."
Shino hiccups once and then curls into herself and sobs her heart out.
Her tears run dry eventually, the remaining ones are soaked up by Akane's shirt. The older girl had changed from attempting to wipe away the barrage of tears to just wrapping her arms around her at some point during her cry. Now her head lays on Akane's shoulder, encouraging fluffy words dancing around the space between. Akane's always been good at that.
"It's okay Shino, it'll all be okay."
"No it's not." She manages to get out around the snot in her nose.
"Aw, don't be like that—"
"You're a ghost." Shino raises her head to look Akane in the eye and sniffs, "you're the ghost in the rumor who's going to haunt people."
Akame smiles, a sad, faded thing, and Shino would give anything to have her just laugh in her face and call her ridiculous. Anything for it to go back to before. Anything to keep this haven of a club— this one in a million friendship.
"I knew you would figure it out. It's okay Shino." Akane says, "I'm sorry it has to come to this, but you'll be okay."
Shino's hands bunch up in Akane's shirt. Clawing her to stay.
"I won't! I can't! How— Why?!"
"It's a very sad story, but I'm sure you'll want to know: The newspaper club back then had rumors come true too. We never figured out why. It could be scary, sometimes, but I had Yuuki by my side and Yuuki had me by his, so we were always alright.
"But," she laughs, hollow, "you know how his luck is. One day, he got into some terrible accident, but I wanted to continue helping others for the club. I didn't want to linger on how much I missed him.
"I threw myself into it too much, got in over my head chasing down rumors and spirits and ghosts until one day I wasn't able to help. I remember, at the end all I could think was that I wanted everyone who ever used the forum for help to get it. That everyone hurting in some way could be healed… Our kohai worried so much over us, just like you. I hope she didn't hurt too much over us."
Akame sighs, in a deep way that seems to shutter her very being.
"I hope you don't hurt too much over us, Shino. I really am sorry that we had to end up this way, but still I'm really glad I got to meet you, even if that is a bit selfish. I'm so glad I could meet someone who is so brilliant and kind, and I'm so glad I could help people alongside you."
“Don’t say that. Don’t leave me, Akane, you can’t–” Shino pushes herself into Akane’s arms, holding the other girl painfully tight, “You can’t.”
She can feel Akane hug her back. Feel the girl’s head resting on top of her, her nose pressing up against her scalp.
“You’ll be okay Shino. Thanks for being my friend. I love you.”
And then she’s gone.
For the second time that day, Shino cries until she runs out of tears.
Yuuki is waiting for her at the entrance to the school. She didn’t expect anything less. The sky is dark, only filled with stars, and the moon is gone completely.
He rests against the stone fence that lines the school, raising his hand in a wave as she exits. They're the only students left here.
“Hey, Shino-san. Let's walk together tonight, ok?”
Shino nods, too concentrated on keeping her breathing even to respond verbally, and trails behind the boy as he starts walking.
His gait is slow. Even more so than normal. Savoring the environment and company he finds himself in.
“I'm sorry if she hurt you, Shino-san, she really didn't mean to.”
Shino sniffs in response, reaching up to wipe at well worn tear tracks.
They walk, lockstep, down the street and onto the next. The low buzz of crickets haunting each step. Despite never walking with Akane, it still feels like there's an absence between them.
“She wasn't ill, was she.” Shino states more than asks.
“No. She was tied to the school, so she couldn't leave. Sorry for lying.” He does actually seem a bit apologetic, Shino has to give him that even if she doesn't particularly want to.
“Even if we did lie a little bit, I want you to know that we did really care about you.” He continues, “We really did care about the club, and helping you out. We weren't trying to use you for anything.”
Shino glances over, Yuuki stares straight ahead down the rock lined path, face stony, until he feels her eyes on her and turns to smile.
“We're both really glad to have known you, Shino.”
Shino nods, and lets the feeling of her ribs tightening pass over her, “I'm really glad I got to know you guys too.”
This is the corner, and Shino can't help but linger.
“If... If you see Akane again, could you tell her I love her too?”
Yuuki smiles down at her, eyes tight around the corner.
She can't stay forever, but she takes a moment to look at him, bathed in the yellow glow of the streetlamp, the glow reflective in his eyes, the way his chest moves as if breathing. She hopes desperately that there is something after this.
Her steps stutter down the path, slow and crawling in a nervous rhythm, looking back the whole time.
“Goodbye Shino! Take Care!” He waves, as always, and before her eyes fade away into nothing.
A soft exit.
Shino goes home and buries herself in her bed.
She takes the next week off.
The clubroom is empty when she gets to it. A light layer of dust being the only difference from the last time she visited. Shino really shouldn't have expected anything else. Nonetheless, it's still off-putting, to see a room she has gotten so used to this past year as being a haven in the school so dark and empty.
The computer is in the same place as the day before, still open to that damming post. Which one of them was Anonymous? And whom the trickster friend that they often commented on. Or did they take turns? Both of them could fit the bill, maybe it was a collaborative effort to write up those posts. Chain another dead person to this world like they were. Chain them to the violence the Rumors seem to crave.
Well, it's not like she can ask.
Shino shuts down the computer decisively.
She's not being fair and she knows it. They had a point. A drive. Such awful things to think about such close friends.
Such awful things to think about the dead.
On the table lies the old pages Yuuki was looking at before. The stack still parted down the middle where he was reading through it. It hasn't been moved since he last touched it.
Shino takes a seat, and pulls the papers closer. Its old newspaper ideas. She flips through them, the first handful of pages being about topics she's never heard about, handwriting changing from Yuuki's to Akane's to someone she doesn't recognize.
She flips over them, and the handwriting goes to just two, then a single page with just one. Shaky, the topic’s easy and light, only getting a third of the way down the page before switching to a starting draft of that post.
After, the paper becomes less yellowed. Less torn and bitten by age. The handwriting of Akane returns, and so does Yuuki. She remembers some of the topics written down, tossed to her for her opinion before she joined. Testing the water for an audience's approval while she hid during lunch breaks.
Then there's pages she recognized from brainstorming sessions before the week they had to release something. Chaotic and rushed, the handwriting still as messy as always. She supposed this was always their method. Her handwriting is there. Small and neat loops and curves, jostled occasionally from its path by some, now invisible, obstacles bumping into her arm.
She flips through these two, only skimming the already familiar contents, before arriving at the last page. It has the password for the forum's admin account written on it in even more foreign handwriting and a picture of the three of them paperclipped to it.
Akane's face is close to the camera, beaming into the lens, and somehow also poking at Yuuki, who shoots an annoyed look back at her.
Packed between them sits Shino, who's smiling.
The ghost child bounds ahead of Shino, walking towards where she knows the nearby pier is.
She hopes that she doesn't have to get into the water, she's wearing her business clothes, which are fairly annoying to walk home wet in, never mind the odd stares she gets from her fellow office workers on the train.
She takes solstice in the fact that the weather is fairly warm, so even if it comes to that, she'll at least cool off a bit.
“Here!” The ghost child shouts, “Here it is!”
They stand before the pier, old wooden boards creaking under Shino's sleek flats as she walks up and next to the kid, who points at the depths of the sea.
Shino crouches, peering down into the water. There's already a faint outline of something below, akin to a particularly large stationary fish, that slowly forms into a lady. Her arms break the water first, before her black hair and pale face comes above.
“Darling!” She calls, reaching for the child, “Oh, where on earth did you go! I've been searching for you for so long!”
The child, now content in their mothers arm, giggles as their mother pulls them close, caring not for the ocean water licking at their dangling legs.
The mother stops kissing the crown of her child's head to look at Shino, ”I cannot thank you enough miss! I hope she wasn't too much trouble?“
”Not at all,“ Shino replies, still crouched, ”I'm glad they could make it back to you.“
The mother thanks them again, before lowering herself and her child into the sea, almost dissolving in it.
Hopefully now there will be no more upsets at the docks. Shino wipes off her pants habitually as she stands up and starts to make her way home.
Ending Author Notes: This is an old AU I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while (in fact, I’m taking quite a bit from year old outline notes!) and the prompt from tinyfandomflash finally pushed me to write this all out!
You may notice that I’ve tried somewhat to preserve the natural clumsiness that the original game has in its dialogue, since I find it both distinctive and charming. I say somewhat because I do try to keep it in the range of “dialogue someone who knew english as a first language would make” as well as just straight up adding honorifics, since Yuuki’s usual “Ms” doesn’t quite sound right, but I still wanted the get the respectfulness of it and it sort of spiraled from there.
Anyways, who knew I could write this much about this VN? This ended up longer than the (previously) longest fic I’ve written, which was A Scar and Kind Words, a multi-chap ALSO about MF&7R. XD I suppose that's what I get for leaving this idea to stew for so long!
But I digress. Thanks for reading!!