|2009-03-30, 12:45||Link #1|
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Kagurazaka, Tokyo
Kamichu: Shoukichi/Miko After
So a little discussion about after stories over on the Clannad boards got me thinking about this old gem, and how much I wanted to see this subplot resolved. Which led me to the manga, to see if it did a better job than the anime in doing so (it didn't). Which oddly inspired me to actually pick up the keyboard and write something, for the first time in a very long time. Since I have no artistic talent whatsoever - which puts doujins out of the question - this is the result.
Warning: Shou-chan/Miko-chan cuteness to follow.
“Onee-san! You’re late again. Wake up!”
“Yurie, come on. You’re in high school now – you should be able to wake up on your own!”
“Snrf… So… tired. Is breakfast ready?”
“Mom and Dad already left.” Shoukichi Hitotsubashi adjusted his tie, glancing nervously at the cat, standing upright staring at his sister. “Freak.”
“Shou-chan… Make me some toast.”
“Make it yourself!” the boy snapped, stuffing books into his school bag. “If some of us were lucky enough to be a God we’d take ourselves a little more seriously, you know.”
The boy reached for his bow, then glanced back over his shoulder to where his sister was slumped, blanket around her shoulders, rubbing her eyes wearily. With a sigh, he disappeared into the kitchen and returned a few moments later, plate in one hand and a steaming mug of tea in the other. “Here. Now hurry up already.”
“Shou-chan!” Yurie grinned, biting down on the toast hungrily. “Mffk fffrrww.”
“Whatever.” Shaking his head sadly, Shoukichi slung his bow over one shoulder, bag over the other, kicked on his sneakers and strode quickly out the door, stealing one last nervous glance at Tama. “Freaky.”
“Today’s the day.” He muttered to himself, swinging a leg over his bicycle and pedaling off towards the ferry. “C’mon – you’re a year-two now. You’re a man – just do it. Today is definitely the day.”
“What about a fertility service?”
“You know – fertility. Fertility Gods make the big bucks. You should see what some of those shrines bring in – offerings you wouldn’t believe! And what about all those fertility clinics couples are paying tens of thousands of yen to when they can’t have babies? It’s in the news all the time! Yurie could-“
“No!” Mitsue snorted, crossing her arms defiantly. “First of all, Yurie isn’t a fertility God and second – she’s only sixteen!”
“So – you’ve never heard of the Nubians?” Matsuri grinned. “Besides – A God is a God.”
“No. And look at her!” Mitsue stared at their divine mutual friend, idly scribbling “Ken-chan” on a scroll over and over as she sat across the table. “Who would pray to that for fertility?”
“What?” Yurie asked defensively. “Are you talking about me?”
“Well… You may have a point. It doesn’t exactly instill confidence, that visage.”
“Well – we have to do something. Times are hard – we’re barely bringing in enough for school clothes and manga. And Otousan’s no help, unless we’re running out of vegetables. When the economy goes bad, offerings are one of the first things people cut.”
“What’s that?” Yurie asked.
“That thumping noise. There it is again!”
“That’s Miko – she’s out back by the rice bales practicing for archery club.” Matsure laughed. “Don’t you ever pay attention? They’ve been at it for the last half hour!”
“Miko and Shoukichi, Baka.”
“Oh! Shoukichi’s here?”
“Honestly, Yurie! Sometimes…”
“Shou-chan’s been coming over here a lot lately, hasn’t he?” Mitsue asked thoughtfully, peering over her glasses at the pair of thirteen year-olds in the distance as another arrow thumped into a bale of rice.
“Has he?” Matsuri glanced up absently from her calculator. “I suppose he must have, since I hardly even notice him anymore.”
“Hmmm.” A small smile peeked at the corners of Mitsue’s mouth.
“Don’t start with that again. I told you – not with my Miko.”
“Don’t start with what?” Yurie interjected.
Mitsue continued to stare over, watching at Shoukicki dashed down to the bales, gathered up the arrows and sprinted back to Miko’s side. “He’s rather nice to her, isn’t he?”
“Nice?” Matsuri frowned and looked over at last.
“Yeah, you know. What’s that word? Chivalrous! That’s it. Almost chivalrous.”
Matsuri continued to frown at the younger teenagers for a moment, then returned to her calculator. “Well – I wouldn’t know anything about that. Now can we get back to business? We’re looking at a shortfall of at least a hundred thousand yen this quarter if we don’t do something. How about marriages?”
“I can’t marry people!”
“You’re getting good. Your technique is better.”
“Oh, um. Thanks.” Shoukichi mumbled. “I’m still not good enough for the competition squad though, like you.”
“You want to keep going?”
Miko stretched. Still small for her age, Shoukichi noted that she only stood tall as his shoulder now. “I’m tired. Want to rest for a while?”
“Sure.” The boy smiled. He glanced over to the shrine, where the three older girls still sat on the stoop. Were they staring at him? “How about over by the rice?”
“OK.” The two kids ambled slowly across their makeshift range, dropped their bows and sat back against one of the large bales of rice. “We don’t get as many of these as we used to.”
“The rice?” Shoukichi looked at the brightly decorated bales.
“Yeah. But its fine – it’s not like we actually make sake here or anything. They’re mostly just for show. At a shrine it’s sort of expected.”
“Oh.” Shoukichi found his eyes glued to the lone drop of perspiration that glistened on Miko’s temple, having to resist the urge to wipe it away.
“Nothing!” Feeling his cheeks burning, the boy turned his glance off into the woods, whistling.
“Are you OK?”
“Sure! Just a little tired, I guess.”
“We don’t have to do all this extra practice, you know – we have club every day, after all.”
Too many people there. Shoukichi thought to himself. Truth be told the boy really didn’t care about archery all that much – it was fun enough, but he might have given it up after elementary school if it hadn’t been for… Well. For other reasons.
“Sorry.” He mumbled. “I guess I like practicing here better. It seems like more fun than at club.”
“Oh.” Miko blushed a little. “OK, then. I just didn’t want you to think you had to, because of me. Or anything.”
“It’s no problem. Maybe this year I might actually make it onto the competition squad.”
“That’d be great! Keep working hard.”
“Hai.” Shoukichi found himself sweating more than he had while they’d been exercising. Tell her, you coward. Just tell her!
“Would you… Would you like you come in for some tea, or juice?”
“Oh, uh… No. I better go. I have… A lot of homework. They’re really loading it on this year, huh?”
“Yeah.” Miko smiled. “If you’re sure-“
“I’m sure!” Shoukichi bounced to his feet, glanced over at his sister and her friends again, then briskly strode towards his bicycle. “I’ll see you at school tomorrow, OK?”
“OK. Bye, Shoukichi.”
“Bye.” The boy waved, then hopped onto his bike and pedaled off, tires bouncing on the uneven ground. He could feel his cheeks burning again, but not from embarrassment this time. What an idiot you are. What a pathetic excuse for a man!
“Are you finished with the daikon yet?”
“I’ll say this for Daddy – at least he won’t let us starve to death.” Matsuri sighed, setting the sweet potatoes to boil on the stove. She glanced over at the little girl chopping daikon on the counter, not so little as she was maybe. But still little. “Be careful with that knife.”
“Sorry.” Matsuri smiled, patting her sister on the shoulder. “Are you OK, Miko-chan? You seem a little quiet lately.”
“Hmmm.” The smaller girl held out the cutting board to her sister. “Thanks. So…”
“So nothing. How are things at school?”
“How’re you and Yashima getting along? Is he still driving you crazy with that whole band thing?”
“He still talks about it, but I think he’s pretty much given up on ever making it big as a rock star. It’s sort of sad.”
“About time. So…”
That was a tone Matsuri hadn’t heard from her sister before. It sounded so – So… Adolescent. She wasn’t sure she liked it. At all. “So Mitsue was noticing that Shoukichi Hitotsubashi has been over here a lot.”
“Has he? I guess. We’re practicing.”
“Almost every day, huh?”
“He’s trying to make competition squad this year.”
“He’s about as likely to do that as Yashima is to have a platinum record.” Matsuri smiled.
“He’s trying really hard! And he’s getting better!”
“OK!” the older girl threw up her hands defensively. “He’ll be at the Sanjusangendo Temple in January at this rate, I’m sure.” She grabbed a stack of plates and headed for the table. “He’s a pretty nice boy, isn’t he?”
“Who do you think? Who’ve we been talking about?” The blush on the younger girl’s face didn’t escape her sister’s notice. “Isn’t he?”
“Yes.” Miko said softly, fetching a small bottle of sake for her father.
“I mean – he just seems like he’s very kind. To you. Boys that age can be jerks sometimes.”
“Shou-chan’s just nice.”
“Maybe.” Matsuri mumbled, thoughtfully. Her sister spoke in a soft tone, but her flush in a much louder one. “Do you have fun when he comes over?”
“I guess. Why are you asking so many questions?”
“Just curious about what’s happening in my imouto’s life, that’s all!” Both girls worked silently in preparation for their evening meal for a few moments, Matsuri aware of a tension between them she hadn’t noticed before. “Do you like Shou-chan, Miko?”
“Onee-san!” It was the loudest either girl could remember the younger speaking for a long time.
So it’s true! How did she grow up and I didn’t notice it? “So… You really do.”
“Stop it, Onee-san!”
“What’s wrong, Miko-chan? It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Miko frowned angrily. “He… I- Never mind.”
“What? I know it’s a little sensitive to talk about-“
“I… I like him.”
Matsuri’s mouth opened into a little “O”, though she’d known it already, to hear the little girl admit it. “Oh, but that’s… That’s good!”
“But I don’t think…”
“I don’t think he likes me.”
“What? Why would you say that? Don’t you see him after school almost every day?”
Miko grimaced. “Yes! But he never says anything. He talks about archery and teachers and how much cooler you are than his sister-“
“But he never talks about anything else. I don’t understand it, Onee-sama. He never talks about himself at all and he hardly ever talks about me… It’s like he could be talking to anybody and I just happen to be there.”
Matsuri laughed. “Oh, Miko… I definitely don’t think that’s the way it is.”
“No! I don’t think it works that way with guys in middle school.” She kissed her younger sibling on top of the head. “He probably just doesn’t know that you like him, Miko-chan.”
“How could he not know? We practice together every day!”
“Never ask how a boy could not know something, or you’ll spend all day asking questions and never get anything else done.”
“Oh.” The younger girl frowned, perplexed, and stared at her feet. “So – what do I have to do, then?”
“You don’t have to do anything, Sweetie. You never have to do anything you don’t want to do.” Matsuri sighed and shook her head. *I* don’t even have a boyfriend yet! How did this happen?
“But - you do like him, Miko-chan?”
“And you think he’s cute?”
“I guess.” Miko blushed. “Especially in his gym clothes.”
“And he’s always nice to you? He never bullies you or makes fun of you or tries to-“
“No! Shou-chan would never do those things!”
No – no, he wouldn’t. Matsuri said inwardly, realizing that she’s always known it to be true. It would be nice knowing little Miko had someone like that watching over her. Besides – it couldn’t be a bad thing, could it? He was a God’s brother, after all. That was rife with possibilities...
“Well, then. I think maybe Shou-chan doesn’t really know what to do.”
“What do you mean?”
Matsuri knelt at the table and patted the mat next to her, where Miko joined her. “I think he probably doesn’t know you like him, Miko-chan. Boys can be pretty clueless that way. So he’s probably too scared to say anything to you about it.”
“Really? Poor Shoukichi.”
Matsuri giggled. “Yeah, well… Maybe it would be a nice thing if you were to tell Shoukichi how you feel. Do you think?”
“But – aren’t boys supposed to be the one to say that?”
“Are they? I don’t think it matters that much. Besides – like I said, he’s probably just scared. So if you like him, I think it’d be OK to tell him that.”
“What if… What if he really doesn’t like me back?”
Matsuri smiled and pinched her sister’s cheek. “Really, now – how could that be possible? Seriously! You’re so kawaii!”
“Ow - Nee-san!”
“Come on, Shrine Maiden – the potatoes are done. You do what you think is best – it’s your life after all…”
“Shoukichi-kun – are you coming to the game center?”
Shoukichi frowned, wrestling with temptation. It really would be so much easier – being with Miko was the hardest thing he did, every day. It was torture – had been for the better part of three years, ever since he’d realized that she was all he ever wanted in his life. Every time he was with her a torture of suspense, wondering if it would finally happen. Wondering, but deep down knowing – knowing it wouldn’t, and that he’d hate himself by the time they parted ways. The game center really sounded pretty good.
“No – I can’t.” the boy sighed, waving at his friends and turning away. “Got club duties…”
It wasn’t so bad during club itself, really – there were so many other people around that they hardly even talked, which was a different kind of torture altogether - being so close to her and not being able to talk to her. But at least there wasn’t that nagging pressure, that sense of responsibility. When? Shoukichi hated that worse than anything.
So it was this day during club that he finally made the decision – he wasn’t going to tell Miko. Not today – not ever.
Why not? Every day the boy told himself that was going to be the day – and it never was. All it ever accomplished was to ruin the time he did have with Miko, fill it with doubt and uncertainty and eventually frustration. If he just gave up, would that be so bad? At least that way he could enjoy being with her! It would never be more than practicing archery or studying or an occasional cup of tea, but it would be her, at least. And that would be better than nothing.
Until she found someone else, anyway.
“You didn’t do too well today, Shoukichi.”
There she was, in front of him, smiling nervously. “Your shooting. Your concentration was off.”
“Uh, I guess.” He smiled with a shrug. “Not that I’m ever that much better. So – want to go practice at the shrine?”
She looked away, quickly. Uh oh – is this it, already? I wonder who it is! “Um… I thought maybe we could just go for a coke, or something. If that’s OK?”
“Yeah, I’m kinda tired. Is that OK?”
“Uh – yeah! Yeah, of course! If you want. You aren’t sick or something, are you?”
“No, I’m fine Shou-chan. Want to just go to the machines and sit by the old school building?”
“Sure – fine.” The boy nodded, puzzled at this change of routine but relieved, in the end, to be with her after all. It wouldn’t be so bad, now that he’d given up, would it? At least this was he wouldn’t be disappointed. Miko-chan led the way to the drink machine and reached for her pocket but he stopped her, dropped 120 yen into the machine. “What would you like?”
She smiled at him and blushed a little. “Milk tea. Thank you, Shou-chan.”
“Milk tea it is.” He tapped the button and handed her the bottle, then reached back into his pocket. “Crap! I only have 90 yen left.”
“That’s OK. You can have this one – it was your money-“
“No! That’s fine – I’m not that thirsty anyway.”
“Shoukichi! You’re all sweaty, don’t be silly. I have money-“
“No! It’s OK, don‘t worry about it.” He strode off towards the old school building. He heard the soft footfalls a few paces behind him, felt the girl staring at the back of his head.
“We’ll share.” She caught up to him and held up the can, blushing, and he felt himself blushing too. Hard. “Here.”
Swallowing deeply and feeling the tightness in his throat, the boy took the plastic bottle from her and stared at it for a moment. It was ice cold in his warm palm. He took a quick sip and handed it back to her with a trembling arm. “Cool. Thanks.”
“Shou-Chan – wait up! You’re practically running!” He was – he could feel it – but couldn’t stop himself. Not until he was staring at the wall of the old building right in front of him, and he turned at last and slid down to the ground, hugging his knees and forcing himself to smile at Miko-chan. She was breathing heavily as she caught up to him. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Must be the tea. It gave me energy.”
She stared at him for a moment, then slid down a couple of feet away from him with a shake of the head. “You’re acting weird.”
Miko took another sip and handed him the bottle. My God – she’s so beautiful. So perfect. I wonder if she knows. “Here – you finish it, Shoukichi.”
“Just finish it! You’ve only had a sip.”
“OK.” He said meekly. The tea burned his throat like acid as he tried not to think about the mouth of the bottle. And another mouth. “Mmm. Good.”
There was a long moment of silence now – no talk or archery, or sisters, just the sound of birds in the trees behind the building. No one was around, scattered to their various club duties or off to cafes or the game center in town. Normally Miko would have said something to fill the awkwardness, but she sat like a stone, hugging her bare knees a few inches from his own.
Shoukichi felt a strange wetness at the corners of his eyes and wiped it away quickly, startled. “M-Man… Still sweaty.”
Miko looked over at him then away. “Thank you for practicing so much with me, Shou-chan.”
“It’s OK – I don’t mind.”
“I know you don’t like archery as much as I do. It’s nice of you to help me so much.”
She frowned, an odd perplexed look clouding her soft features. “So, um… Shoukichi, I… I was…”
“I like you.”
Shoukichi heard gasping, then realized it was his own lungs pumping madly. His heart was a taiko beat throbbing in his ears. Who was it that had just said that? “I like you, Miko-chan!”
The boy closed his eyes, not daring to see her reaction and wishing he could block out his own panicked one. “Oh, God! I’m sorry!”
“I... I shouldn’t have said that, I’m sorry!”
“Open your eyes, Baka!” He wiped them quickly and peeked at her through slotted lids. “Why shouldn’t you have said it? Is it true?”
The boy gaped for a moment. “Um… Yes.”
“Yeah. Is… God, I can’t believe I said that!”
“Do you really like me, Shou-chan?”
“Of course I do!” Shoukichi couldn’t stop himself now, not if he’d wanted – and he didn’t. “I really like you a lot, Miko-chan. I’ve always liked you, since elementary school. I like you!”
Now that it was out, the boy found time at last to notice the girl in front of him. What had she said? Oh, God! “What?” What did it mean?
“Stop saying that! Do… Do you-“
“Yes!” she blurted out. “I like you, Shou-chan.”
Shoukichi didn’t know what a heart attack felt like, but he was certain he was having one. He fell back against the wall, hard, and closed his eyes. “Wow.”
“Now you’re saying it!”
“Sorry.” He gasped.
Try as he might, Shoukichi couldn’t open his eyes. Or even his mouth. Now that the moment had come, he was utterly spent – a gnawing emptiness inside him where his frustration and anxiety had been, slowly filling with relief. He willed himself to say something sexy, then something clever, then anything at all. Finally, for her to say something. But the both of them sat side by side in silence for long moments.
Then, as if on its own, the boy felt his hand slide slowly to his right. He felt his pinky brush Miko-chan’s. Then his palm was on top of her hand, slowly squeezing, and then they were locking fingers and their palms were touching. His was clammy with sweat and hers soft and cool, but he didn’t care.
Finally, from a thousand kilometers away, he heard her gentle voice. “Say something.”
“I don’t know what to do.” He heard his own voice, straining in his breathlessness and its own gradual change, say in reply.
Finally he forced his eyes open and wearily let his head fall towards her. “Now that I finally said it, I don’t know what to do.”
Miko giggled softly. “I guess I don’t know what to do, either.”
They were silent for another moment. “Can I walk you back to the shrine after club tomorrow?”
“You do that every day, practically.”
“Oh.” Another moment passed. “Can we have lunch together?”
“We already do.”
“Oh. Can we-“
“Shoukichi! Stop asking me questions!”
“Sorry.” He mumbled. The boy sat for a while, reveling in the strangeness of the feelings inside him and of the hand encircling his own. Then in an instant, he felt his lips brush gently against the soft warmth of Miko’s cheek.
The boy pulled back, holding his breath. “I didn’t ask.”
Miko-chan met his eyes, then smiled. “That’s true.” He saw her eyes close, and then he felt his own close too, and even blind he could sense what was happening. Then he felt the soft exhale on his cheek and turned his head slightly, and their lips were touching and it was wonderful, a moment that was all other moments he’d ever felt in one moment, and then a thousand times that. It might not have been a God’s kiss, but no God had ever had a finer kiss that that – Shoukichi was certain of it.
Last edited by Guardian Enzo; 2009-04-01 at 23:57.
|2009-04-12, 02:38||Link #2|
Join Date: Dec 2005
What else have you written?
Solid writing, abundant and rich imagery. The dialogue was convincing and in character, particularly between the sisters and the formal tone between Miko and Kyoukichi. The lead up to the climax confession was excellent. An awkward romantic is so difficult to set up and conclude but you nailed it.
The ending was bit abrupt. An extra paragraph or two, showing the day after, or reactions from the two elder sisters, or Yurie inadvertently catching the scene while exercising her powers, might have completed the upbeat tone of the story better.
|2009-04-12, 21:24||Link #3|
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Kagurazaka, Tokyo
Thanks for that feedback - it's much appreciated. This is the first anime-themed material I've written (well, finished) though I have a bunch of other stuff on fanfiction.net.
I take your point about the ending, but I sort of intended it to be abrupt. I see lots of stories (including many anime) that suffer from anti-climax because they keep going after the emotional climax has passed. It's a tough call - I do enjoy a little postscript and often include one when I write fiction, but it's clear what the emotional high-point of this story was - the confession and then the kiss (and I couldn't very well deny them the kiss, could I? ). In the end, I decided to let that be the finale.
|2009-05-12, 21:46||Link #4|
Join Date: Jan 2004
Thanks for dropping me a line about the story! It does indeed make me very happy to read it. Like Cal-Reflector, I think you captured the awkwardness of the children's romance very beautifully. The fact that they didn't know what to do next was so cute. Also, I like how it seems like you really got inside Shoukichi's head in conveying his shyness and lack of confidence.
I do wonder a bit though, because canon seems to suggest that she has a bit of a childish crush on Yashima. I would have liked to see how you would have approached that aspect of the story as she moves on (that is, if you saw it at all).
|2009-05-19, 20:19||Link #5|
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Kagurazaka, Tokyo