Notes & Responses
IMPORTANT – PLEASE READ!!!
If anyone ever thinks they are writing an essay for a comment and that they’re talking too much, I’m going to outshine you right now.
Last chapter wasn’t so well-received. I can assure all of you that I have a plan. I am 100% glad that the vocal of you lot are expressing disappointment, actually, because it means you are invested and want to fully see what’s going on. I don’t LIKE disappointing you, but ultimately it helps when it does happen. Constructive criticism and all that.
For the sake of reassuring those who want to know what happened with Monika, MC, and Sayori, Chapter 11 will display that memory early on as well as have some more fresh interactions between them. Additionally, part of the reason MC is brushing off his own issues and trying to forget about it is because he’s too focused on the others and is less interested in his own health. His seeming indifference to the missing events is another symptom of what’s going on with him, not a reflection of his character. DDLC doesn’t give much of a look inside of his head, but it seems like he’s lived a pretty alright life without issues clogging his head, so he isn’t used to these recent developments. Maybe being so blatant about this stuff outside of the story itself is poor of me but I don’t care lmao. I don’t want to keep anyone turned off. You want it? It’s yours, my friend, as long as you have enough patience. Plus, I want to reassure those concerned and put you at ease so you can focus on this very important chapter.
Ultimately, this work is for me. It is a labor of love and that is what inspired me in the first place. The fact that others enjoy it is merely a bonus. A huge, huge bonus. I won’t do you all dirty 😉 And I will not lose my love for it. The kiss and MC’s mental health were seeds that needed to be planted and I came up with the idea to do it then when I sat down to write. That chapter was 100% on-the-spot improv past literally those ideas, and that’s a lot of what made it fall flat since some answers wouldn’t come immediately.
I had hoped that the kiss would have brought intrigue and while some hoped I’d revisit it to see what led to it (which I will, as stated above), it did nothing to help the immediate reception. Whoopsie! Biggest oof goes to me. I will say that the kiss is definitely not supposed to be an emotional payoff. It is just the beginning and sets the tone for some things between them. It is supposed to come off as confusing because one should wonder how that happened and why it did when there doesn’t seem to be much between them. The truth at this point is that there really isn’t much between the two of them right now compared to the other girls, leading to questions rather than answers. After all, Monika wasn’t terribly focused on MC in the base game, so I felt it made sense for things to be much different compared to what I’m doing with Natsuki and Yuri. Having said that, their bonding and what develops of their relationship will not be ignored because of the whole “Monika was focused on The Player” thing. Since I’ve said I’m going to revisit the kiss scene in the next chapter I will point out that I wrote it that way on purpose. I did not skip out because I simply didn’t want to write it. I skipped it with the intention of bringing it to light later. I’m going to be writing some things down the line that go beyond a simple kiss. One kiss, even their first one, is not how Monika shows a passionate amount of affection, as will be revealed.
From here on out, though, begins the meat of the scenarios I’ve had planned out for twice as long as I’ve been writing this fic. If the biggest gripe most have had so far is what I’ve covered up there, then that will be easily rectified and the higher-quality stuff will start pouring in. Before the response to Chapter 9, I intended Chapter 10 to be an important one with something I came up with only a few days before I updated. I switched some things around, however, and now it’s even more important. I was super excited to write it because it contains a large scene that was fleshed out months ago.
With this chapter, the “Introductory” stage of this fic will be complete, which thus far will have been the slowest part of the story. Part of why I’ve been going slower is because the build-up was a lot of complete improv that I came up with as I wrote, and it was a slog. Chapter 1 was 100% improv, Chapter 2 all I knew what would happen was poems, bonding, and “Wassup, bitches?” Chapters 3 and 4 were improv. Chapter 5 was the first plot point planned out from before I began writing. Chapter 6 was partially planned due to Chapter 5. Chapter 7 was improv. The general topics of Chapter 8 were planned but it was all stream of consciousness, and 9 was complete improv as stated.
I don’t know exactly how long or how many chapters this story will be, but it is not an insignificant amount. I’m reaching over 100K words with this chapter and that number will multiply quite a number of times before the end is in sight. Everyone has major character arcs. There will be so, so much, and I cannot overstate my confidence about my readers enjoying what is to come. This fic is playing the long game, and no one will get left out in the rain.
Kuro lol (AO3) – Thank you. So far this has been the weakest chapter, as said above. I’m glad you enjoyed it though. This next one… Uhuhu~
Guest (FF) – Nope. As said above, I did things a bit differently for deliberate purposes.
TheForgottenRune (FF) – Yep haha, he’s commented. And yeah, MC’s mental predicament is peculiar, eh?
The Beyond Unstable Crew (FF) – I really fucked it up this time, eh? Sorry to the lot of you. Hey, if you need to be honest, be honest. I’m glad y’all still seem to enjoy MC and Sayori shenanigans. Em & Cee will be used more sparingly. I’ve got to center their focus on helping MC navigate things, but in a much more efficient way. Monika indeed has had the least interaction with MC thus far, but oh, don’t you worry. That will change. I’m doing the most… out-there things with Monika’s character arc. Most of what you lot addressed is actually highlighted above because I felt it was more important for it to be something everyone would pay attention to instead of located in a response that most won’t read on their own because it isn’t a reply to them.
ThePersonThatIsAGuy (WP) – That’d be him lmao. MC sure is going through a mental thing, ahaha! The kiss will be revisited as stated above, and I’m doing the oddest, most out-there things with Monika compared to the other girls IMO so there will be… more things on the horizon. I’m glad you enjoy MCyori fluff <3 I do, too. And yes, you are the first person to point it out in the comments I’ve gotten lol.
Chapter 10-1: Charred Confectionery/Coal Cupcake
The Literature Club’s collective members have been slower to get to the club room lately. Well, I guess everyone else would seem slow by comparison. I have nowhere else to be and was quickly joined by Sayori. We push two desks together and sit facing each other.
Perhaps it is because there’s now less pressure on club activities that the others aren’t as quick to get here. Monika herself never set a great precedent as President for showing up in a timely manner. Oh well, it isn’t anything to be concerned about. What is to be concerned about, however…
“I’m sorry I waited this long to tell you.”
“It’s Tuesday! Why would—” Sayori practically smacks her hand against her forehead. An uneasy feeling fills my stomach. Seeing her disappointed is not something I’m accustomed to. Because of the past month’s worth of events, I feel creeping regret for hiding something concerning my health from her when I was upset that she did the same. Granted, there is a vast difference between being suicidally depressed and having some memory loss, but still.
Sayori reaches out and takes one of my hands. “Sweetie, I don’t want you to hide these things from me! I’m worried about you! Don’t think I didn’t notice what was going on, either! I just wasn’t sure what to make of it. I thought it was because of the past month’s worth of sleeping issues.”
“Yeah, I’m not surprised.” My head lowers down, coming to a rest on top of my other arm. “I thought it would pass but I’m missing like three days.” A slight pause. “Well, I guess it did stop. I haven’t had any problems since… Uh… When did Monika come over?”
“Sunday, right. So, yeah. I’m doing better.”
“And I’m really thankful for that. Just remember that I’m here for you. I may not know what I’m doing, just as you aren’t sure what you’re doing with me, but we have to put our faith in each other.” I can sense that Sayori is winding down. She places my hand gently down on her desk and starts idly toying with my fingers. “We both know you’re smarter than this.”
“Yeah… Yeah, I am, I guess. Logic would dictate that I’ve become more aware of what’s going on in life lately.” I sigh into my arm. “Logic doesn’t mean a thing in the wake of emotion, though.”
“…” Her silence means she knows what I’m going on about. You can have all the answers in the world, but when emotions are involved things can get messy. That’s how all of this came to be. If emotions didn’t screw up someone so bad, then Sayori would have never been at risk.
A harsh pang of guilt stabs me in the chest when I feel her shift my hand back into her grip and hold it tightly. I just indirectly brought that horrible night to mind. Will she despise me for making her feel foolish about trying to kill herself? “Shit. Sweetheart, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say something like that.”
“Don’t you worry about it. It’s clear you’ve got some fog in your head. Plus, you’re right. I didn’t see the bigger picture until after all was said and done. I should’ve brought my problems up way sooner. I was blinded by my conflicting emotions.” Her grip relaxes. She brings my hand up and nuzzles it against what I assume must be her cheek. “But I’m trying to get better at that now, and I want you to understand the same thing. It’ll help us both in the long run.”
“Yeah…” Really, I’m kind of skating by on this topic. The lack of effort I’m putting forth bothers me. I can only hope it’s just a temporary thing, as though Thursday through Sunday’s missing memories drained me and I’m playing catch-up. I do remember bits and pieces of that timeframe now. I guess it’ll come back to me more as time goes on. Does amnesia work that way? I guess I wouldn’t know. There’s a lot in this world that I just know nothing about, but my imagination will be there to fill in the blanks with something. I just hope it doesn’t conjure up things that didn’t actually happen.
When Sayori goes from nuzzling the top of my hand to the inside of it, I put in a little energy into caressing her cheek. My reward is a soft hum. At this point, I raise my head just enough to see her soothing smile. It may not be a miracle cure but it sure makes me feel a little better.
“Do you want to talk about the nightmare you had Thursday night now?”
So that confirms that I did have a nightmare. The fact that I couldn’t recall having one in the first place makes it no surprise that I lack any sense of what happened. “Actually… I can’t remember.”
“…” Sayori’s expression falters for a bit. The concern I felt is just what I need to sit back up properly. She notices my movement and resumes functioning. “It's probably better that way.”
“Well…” Instead of Sayori’s grip simply tightening, her fingers intertwine with mine. “I had woken up from a nightmare of my own and curled up against you for comfort. Call it hypocritical of me but I didn’t want to bother you then. Maybe I would have brought it up to you later on, but it wasn’t anything either of us aren’t used to by now. It was typical stuff.” The fact that she can allude to something like that so casually is unnerving. I know it has been a decent amount of time since the incident, but still.
Sayori’s nostrils flare out as she exhales deeply. “Just as I was on the cusp of falling back asleep, I heard you whimpering. It escalated quicker than I could react, and before I knew it you were clinging to me like your life depended on it.” That choice of wording makes my insides hurt. “You were hysterical. Inconsolable. When I tried to ask, you wailed out about how you just wanted to forget about it. I didn’t pry further at the time; I almost didn’t want to know, and I didn’t want you to get worse.”
A bitter smile crosses my face. “Heh, well I guess I got what I wanted.”
Sayori narrows her eyes at me. “I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Still, though!”
A pause puts the conversation on hold. I’ve seen Sayori dead in so many nightmares over the last month. What could be worse? It’s almost nightmarish in and of itself that something more heartbreaking could exist. If my reaction was really that bad, then I’m with her. I’m relieved to not know, and I will be lucky to never recall such a thing. If only it hadn’t screwed me up so badly for three days.
“Um…” A sullen expression falls over Sayori. She looks like she doesn’t want to say something, but she nevertheless persists. “I don’t know if this is right or not but… I really am glad you don’t remember. That night, you looked more messed up than when you saved me. I can’t put into words what I felt seeing you like that, so…”
Well, at least that makes two of us. “It’ll be okay.” I connect our free hands. “We don’t need to linger on this. Instead, let me ask you about the past few days. I started regaining myself midway through Monika’s kiss” You know, something about that mystifies me. “I’m most curious about that, but just give me a quick summary from Friday on, I guess. Best to stay in chronological order so I don’t get confused.”
“Eh, I mean…” Sayori’s face scrunches some as she revs up her brain. “Nothing out of the ordinary for Friday. Saturday, we made plans for Yuri to come over on a whim.” Her expression relaxes. “We each cuddled up to one side of you and just talked about random stuff. Good things, like teasing you and how adorable you are! It was a nice time!” I’d blush, but I’m not feeling the energy. Instead, I give a small smile. “… Sorry you had to miss it.”
“Forget it,” I say dismissively.
“Uh, no pun intended.”
“Ehehe… Got’cha.” We collectively ease up a little. “Yuri was kind of getting affectionate with you, actually. I’d say I was jealous but I can have you whenever I want, my little sugar-booger!”
“Is that your idea of flirting?”
“Mmmmmaybe!” Oh Sayori, whatever will I do with you? “Actually, she pointed out how you steadily became less and less attentive. You looked like you were enjoying yourself, so I didn’t think anything of it. I thought you were just becoming a shy tortoise from not being used to Yuri.”
“That sounds like me.” My vision lowers. I spot our handholding taking place and I shake mine free, opting to hold hers inside of mine.
“Even though the last time Yuri spent time with us, you acted all unfazed by her face buried in your stomach? It can’t be both.”
“Her face wasn’t buried, she was just… resting it there…” Sayori is right, though. “Maybe I was more high-strung on Saturday, then, or maybe I was more susceptible to the shy introvert side of me while I was out of it. Maybe I was simply more relaxed that previous time. Hell, I had just woken up during that. I had time to get used to it while we were talking.” My eyes rise back up to meet hers. “If she started loving on me randomly—”
I shudder a little—strictly a spine-tingling shiver of relative excitement—imagining what kinds of things may or may not be included in Yuri loving on me. Despite Natsuki’s behavior after my confession and despite the fact that Monika is the person I know the least, I feel like Yuri is the most unpredictable. After all, I wasn’t expecting her to be the first to want into this relationship. There’s also the thing from festival weekend where she licked my finger. I mean, I did that to Natsuki just the following day, but Yuri did it because I had pricked my finger on her knife like an idiot. Now, if she were to be doing that when blood wasn’t involved…
My cheeks heat up. Sayori notices. Of course she does. “Oooh, is my Sweetie smitten?”
“I-I mean the wording choice that I made, ummm, I made it sound weird and it go-got me wondering…”
“Does imagining Yuri giving you some smoochie-smoochies on your cheekie-cheekies make you all warm and fuzzy inside?”
“Sayoooriiiii!” I groan, cradling my head in my hands. How could she possibly tease me like this? How cruel! How indecent! How… something else similar! I don’t have the brain power to chronicle the other ways in which my girlfriend pokes fun at me. My body is putting priority into the climate control of my face.
Sayori’s giggling at my embarrassment is interrupted by the sliding of the classroom door. I take the time to recover. Instead of investigating, I fold one arm across the desk, rest my forehead on it, and close my eyes.
“Ah, greetings, you two.”
“Heya, Yuri!” Sayori exclaims. I give a wave and a grunt of acknowledgement.
“I’m not interrupting something, am I? I heard commotion just before opening the door.”
“Nope! In fact, we were just talking about you!”
“Uh…” To the surprise of not me, Yuri sounds worried. “N-nothing but goo-good things, I hope?”
“Of course! I was just teasing him.”
“Oh. Ah, aha, and hooow ar-are you doing tha-that, I wonder…?”
“Bringing up how cute you two were when you were nuzzling him~”
“Aah!” Yeah, sounds like Yuri is flustered now, too. I detect movement.
“Come on over and join us! If you want, you can hold his haaa~nd!”
“Sayori, we’re in public!”
“So? Hasn’t stopped us!”
Yuri goes silent, as does Sayori. I can hear the sound of shoes on the floor. Both approach. I feel a hand snag my wrist, with another hand inserting itself into mine.
“Hmm… That isn’t Yuri’s hand.”
I glance up. Sure enough, Yuri is standing off to the side. Her cheeks are pink, but she looks at least somewhat amused. Sayori is the one holding my hand. Now that the jig is up, she looks on with a coy expression and releases it.
“It seems you are always so full of vigor when it comes to teasing him, Sayori. Why do you do it, anyhow?”
“It’s fun to see what I can get away with. Plus, it’s fun-ny and entertaining being a sneaky little scamp!”
“Tell me about it.” I sit up and run my hands through my hair. “Never a dull moment, but I suppose that’s part of her charm.”
“I’ve gotten a bit of a taste so far. No doubt, I will experience more of it as time goes on.” Coming down from her small flustered episode, Yuri closes in on our desks. “If I didn’t know better, Sayori, I’d think you are trying to accelerate how quickly he and I bond. If you’re trying to be subtle, it isn’t working.”
“Whoops!” Sayori sure doesn’t say that as though it’s a bad thing. It isn’t defensive at all; she says it like she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. “Well if I don’t have to be subtle anymore~” Without warning and with surprising speed, Sayori snags one of each of our wrists. Before I know it, I’m holding Yuri’s hand.
“Aah!” Both Yuri and I are shocked, but neither of us move. I don’t think I can move anything below that shoulder. Yuri, on the other hand, is twitching. I have to admit; her slender hand is soft to the touch. Sayori looks on from beside us.
“Yes! I am the ultimate wing-woman!” She is so proud of herself. It honestly is a mystery as to what goes through her head. I’ve never heard of someone so eager to set their significant other up with someone else. Well, I guess since we are all in a relationship, I suppose Yuri also counts as a significant other. That makes it less bizarre. Sayori really wants this to work out, doesn’t she? Maybe I should be suspicious. I can do that later. Ugh, so much stuff to do and it’s always later. I mean, I am indisposed at the moment, but still.
“Um… Ah… Uuu, I hope this isn’t weird for you!” Yuri is surprisingly kept-together in her words, even though her voice is wavering.
“No, n-not at all!” I seem to have inadvertently restarted puberty with how cracked my voice got.
“Okay, you two! I guess that’s enough.” With just as much mystification as her earlier actions contained, Sayori gently tugs our hands apart. “Don’t want you to explode, ehehe! But now that that’s happened, next time will be easier!” When Sayori said she was being the ultimate wing-woman, I didn’t think that’s what she was actually going for. Funnily enough, Yuri hasn’t seemed as though she needed the help to come out of her shell. Sure, she questions things after the fact, but her actions come first.
With full possession of my hand resumed, I rest it in my other and try to remember how to function. During my thoughts, it occurs to me how much peppier Sayori got when Yuri joined the conversation. I hope that isn’t a sign that she’s masking something. Well, actually, that’s kind of my fault huh? We did just have a serious conversation about my memory. Ah, and we didn’t finish it, I just realized. Was I always this bird-brained? It seems like my ability to focus on one thing is being challenged lately.
Sayori’s weirdness is making recovering from the hand-holding easy. When I take a look at Yuri, she seems to be even more shocked at what just happened than while it was actually happening. Her hand is in front of her face and she’s staring at it as though experiencing an alien sensation. I guess something new on an emotional level could do that to you. Well, assuming this is something new to Yuri. For her to have never held someone’s hand yet in life would be a crying shame. I mean, I guess I hadn’t in a romantic way until recently myself but Yuri is such a beauty that most should have lined up at the opportunity.
“Oh, and about Monika…” Suddenly, Sayori’s whispering into my ear earns my attention. “I really wish you remembered this, but it’ll be funny to see your reaction again: when you agreed to Monika entering the relationship, she was talking about the prospect of it being physical.” What?! “I mean, obviously it’d be an emotional thing too, but she said how you were right and that she needed to find some way to relax and unstressify—that’s my word, not hers—and figured there was no harm in asking.”
The harm? The harm will be to my fragile self-esteem! Of all the people to come to while emphasizing the physical proponents of a relationship, why would Monika come to me?! I may have been able to bullshit my way through a month of poems punctuated by a sentimental and emotional ending, but that doesn’t mean I’m good at being tender! Or, at least, whatever Monika is looking for. Sayori and I may be content with my assuredly lackluster lovemaking skills but I am a mere mortal compared to Monika! I couldn’t get on her level if I was born that way!
“Who knows, maybe you two will even spend time in bed and— Hrrr!” My hands quickly found Sayori’s face and covered her mouth. In the past, it has been said that my dull, golden eyes made for a hell of a soul-piercing stare. Sayori didn’t seem to be affected. She never had been. In fact, she stepped away and started giggling. I sigh and try to chill out, looking to see if Yuri was paying attention. Instead, the hand that had held mine was caressing her cheek. I’m… not sure what to make of that. I guess she enjoyed holding my hand? When Yuri notices my gaze, she seems to freak out a little and whirls around to face the opposite direction.
“And I agreed to that?!” I hiss in Sayori’s direction.
“Well, not the sex part”—I groan in embarrassment, not ready to tackle the idea of that at all—“I made that up. But yeah, Monika was like, ‘I’m looking for an outlet for physical tension and I trust you.’ ”
“What was I thinking?! I can’t please Monika!”
“How do you know? You haven’t tried! Well, there was the kiss…” Sayori does the finger thing. “Oh, Monika said you need to step your kissing game up.”
“PFFT!” Okay, well no surprise there. I take great amusement in my own self-deprecation when it comes to anything physical with someone other than Sayori. She and I have chemistry because we’ve known each other for so long. The other girls? Not so much. “We’re not going to count that. Even without any memory issues, I would have been too dumbfounded to respond correctly.”
“Aren’t you such a lucky guy though~? You got two of the most beautiful girls in the school after your affection.”
“Hah. Yeah. It’s like a dream come true…” When Sayori puts it like that, I feel a pressure on me. This was just more evidence that I didn’t know what to expect when I confessed to the club. I absolutely didn’t think things through. How shortsighted of me. Again, emotion before reason. “Wait, come on now. You’re beautiful too!”
“Uh, w-well…” Sayori, don’t you dare say you aren’t. “If that’s what you think, then I’ll accept that. Besides, I can’t be after your affection when I already have it! I still think they’re better-looking than I am.”
“Is this about your b—” No. Don’t say it. There’s been so many times they’ve been brought up. I can think it instead: is this about her boobs not being as big? She did seem excited the last time it was addressed that they grew. Come on Sayori, you should know that there’s more to someone than the size of their chest. Take Natsuki, for example; you’re always so eager to interact with her even though she—WHY AM I THINKING ABOUT THIS?!
“Sayori,” Yuri interjects, freeing me from my thought process. “You’ve been so eager to point out how others can bond with him. You aren’t trying to get rid of him, are you?”
Time seems to come to a standstill. Sayori’s expression freezes. What a question to ask. I mean, surely Yuri isn’t serious, but still. After a moment, it seems Yuri realized what she said.
“Ah, I di-didn’t mean—” This poor girl deals with so much from her own self-criticism. I suppose if she really wanted to prevent saying things she regretted, she would have to put a little more thought into what she’s about to say before it leaves her lips. She has said in the past that she can wind up too absorbed in her own thoughts to pay attention to others. This is just an extension of that, right? “What a horrible thi-thing to joke about! I’m so s-sss-sssorry!”
A look of absolute sternness crosses Sayori’s face for just a moment. She shakes her head and suddenly it has disappeared. “Nope!” Her chipper tone makes it feel like I imagined that change of expression, but I know I saw it. “Look at it this way: when he’s with me, I feel better than I usually can on my own. Since he’s interested in all of us, I want you all to get to that level where he makes you feel better just because you’re close to him.”
I feel Sayori’s arms wrap around my shoulders from behind. She leans into me and rests her chin on top of my head. “I just want good things for all of you.” Okay, that’s a noble cause, I suppose.
“How can you possibly be so nonchalant when I say things like that?”
“Because I know you don’t mean it.” Sayori nuzzles the top of my head. “My therapist has said before that one’s first thoughts aren’t always a reflection of their true self. I’ll think bad things about myself, but it’s because of weirdness happening in my brain. I don’t want to think those things. It’s what you do after, how you react to what you just said or think, that is a better reflection of you as a person.” I am eternally grateful to Sayori’s therapist. She’s taking a bunch of this advice to heart, it seems, and has become a bit of a philosopher to boot. Maybe Monika or Yuri are helping influence her.
“You said something without thinking. Then, you were not pleased with yourself and you made that clear. That says to me that you are not trying to say bad things. I’m learning to give myself some leeway when it comes to my own thoughts, so I won’t hold it against you.”
Yuri still looks unsure. “I don’t know how you can possibly look at it that way.”
“That is not how that works… Ah… I just raised my…”
“It’s okay!” And now both of us raised our voice to Yuri. She gets spooked, but oddly enough it seems to quell her. I guess snapping her to attention helped get her out of her own head.
“Ah. Aha, r-right…” You know, for all that I wish I knew more about my own head, I kind of wish that I could see into everyone else’s. That would help solve a lot of problems and give me so many answers. Of course, it could never be that easy.
A thought occurs to me. “Hey, Yuri. You’re smart, right?”
“Ah…” Yuri’s expression turns timid.
“Of course she is!”
“Sayori, don’t be so frank…”
“Aw come on, give yourself some credit!”
“She’s right, you know,” I tack on. “Anyhow, before you entered, we were talking about some issues I’ve been having recently. According to Sayori, I had what was apparently the worst nightmare ever a few nights ago. Most of my memory of a few days is missing, including the contents of that nightmare. Can they really do something like that?”
“Hmm…” Yuri moves a desk closer to ours and takes a seat. Sayori hops back into the desk she was occupying before. “Obviously I am not an expert, but my experiences with—” A moment of hesitation leads to a grim expression from her. “—um, learning about what negative experiences can do to you, I mean…” I almost want to ask about what she just said but like with other things she’s let slip in the past, I shouldn’t pry. As long as she is okay now and assuming she comes to us when she is ready, then all will be okay.
Yuri composes herself a bit and resumes. “If you had, say, a night terror about something emotionally devastating, it could lead to a panic episode. It can be worse when you’re just waking up because of how disorienting it is. Dreams have a habit of feeling all too real in the moment, especially those of the surreal variety.”
Yuri’s expression turns a bit glum. Her eyes lower themselves to examine the surface of her desk. “Short-term memory issues can either come after the fact, an example being that you forgot whatever caused your episode, or you can simply have not retained the events of a few days due to heavy dissociation.”
“To put it simply, not all of your mental faculties would be operating on the same wavelength due to some kind of issue with your mind. You may feel distracted, zone out, fail to react or respond to much.” Yuri begins to list things off on her fingers one-by-one. “Feeling disconnected from yourself, problems handling intense emotions, memory problems as has been covered, trouble with cognitive awareness which is linked with concentration and memory. Just don’t take this as a diagnosis. It’s only what I can give you off the top of my head since you asked.”
Suddenly, Yuri’s expression shifts. “That explains some of your behavior the other day, doesn’t it? Oh dear, I’m so sorry!”
Eh? “Sorry for what?”
“For not noticing how bad things were! I was so absorbed in my own actions that I neglected to ascertain your mental state!”
“Yuri, it’s okay. Not even I was aware of what my brain was doing.”
“But still, I—”
“Yuri.” I’ll admit, I was getting a bit frustrated with her. It wasn’t out of annoyance, no; my agitation was because of how much she was second-guessing herself and placing the blame in her hands. I will admit that it was cute how she would respond like this when we first met, but now it makes me worried that she will trip over herself and cause herself way more problems than is necessary. Humility can be an endearing quality, but this is not that. It’s like she’s on a self-sabotage mission. “If you regret, then do something about it going forward. Don’t be caught up in what has already passed. These are extraneous circumstances. Shit happens. We pick ourselves up and move forward.”
“… Yes, I suppose… you are correct. Extraneous circumstances.” I can tell that it’s difficult for her to keep composed when she feels she’s overstepped boundaries. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before she opens up more to me. To us. “Please accept my apologies.”
“Done and done!”
“Thank you both. I can tell that I am in a lucky position.” Yuri’s focus is on me now. She reaches out and takes my hand in hers. The smile she flashes me is enrapturing. Sayori’s eyes are like looking into the most gorgeous sky. Yuri’s, conversely, are like staring into the far reaches of space. Her soul is like a vast galaxy filled with complexities and intricacies waiting to be discovered. Heh, how appropriate given the contents of her last poem. Our shared gaze is broken when Sayori gives Yuri’s other hand a squeeze. Yuri smiles back at Sayori, but it is a different smile. Not lesser. Just different.
When we hear the classroom door slide open, Yuri frantically pulls her hands back to herself. We look to see Natsuki entering.
“Hey,” she greets us. We respond with a litany of our own brief hellos. “I bumped into Monika in the bathroom. She said she isn’t coming to the club today. Something about screwing up taking a medicine.”
“Oh, I hope she’s gonna be okay,” Sayori audibly worries, whipping out her phone.
“She looked okay, but sometimes you can’t tell. I’d say it could be that time of the month, but since when has that ever kept her from doing anything?”
“Even if that were the case, it would still be rather indecent to mention,” Yuri speaks softly, though just loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Aw, come on. We’re all girls here!” Natsuki eyes me. “M-Mostly.” I throw up a peace sign of acknowledgement.
“She came to school, but is skipping club?” My question is rhetorical and I provide a potential answer immediately. “I guess she really is trying to take it easy. The club is important to her, but I guess we’re getting through to her.” As far as I know, only Sayori and I have talked to her. “Not like Sayori can’t stand in, being Vice President and all.”
“So hey, I’ve got an idea!” Sayori doesn’t even look up from her phone. The way her fingers are going, it seems she’s texting someone. “Since Monika isn’t feeling well, how about we all go home?”
“And skip out on the time here? No way!”
“Oh, uh… Not home home, Nattie. Ehehe… Not your home. Or Yuri’s home. It’s kinda like… my home.” Sayori glances up to me expectantly.
“Um… Well…” Okay, so that wasn’t a bad idea. Having two girls over at the same time? Three, technically, but Sayori is always there now, so that’s nothing new. “Sure, if that’s what everyone wants to do…” Admittedly, I’m a little sheepish. This is on very short notice, I would have thought that Yuri would share my apprehension, but Natsuki looks to be the one frustrated.
“Yesss!” So Sayori is excited.
“I wouldn’t mind that at all,” Yuri adds, “what with having been there recently. It does offer us a modicum of privacy and a more relaxed environment…”
“…” Natsuki raises an eyebrow at Yuri, which the tallest girl doesn’t catch. “Go over to some boy’s house? How gross, but…” She slings her bag over her shoulder. “I’m not about to stay here by myself. You better not live like a slob!”
“I can assure you, Natsuki, that the place is well-kept.”
“If you’re saying that, then you clearly haven’t seen his room yet!”
“Heeheehee! Gotta get in at least one jab before we leave!” Natsuki spins around on one foot and heads towards the door. “Well, what are we waiting for?” For someone who appeared so hesitant a moment before, Natsuki is showing unparalleled excitement now.
“Aww heck!” Sayori stands up, her exclamation drawing our attention. “I asked Monika about the idea since she wouldn’t have to be stressed out by leading the club, but she declined to join. She just wants to go home and sleep. I wished her better from all of us.”
Damn. I was really hoping to spend more time with Monika after my fiasco this weekend. I feel like the universe is keeping us separated. Even when I first joined, she wound up being too busy, or I too nervous, for us to get anywhere. Hell, I’ve spent more time with her since the last poem day than in the entire previous month of being in the club! Yuri might be unpredictable as our resident Maiden of Mystery, but Monika is a curious case. She is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
“Well, what are we waiting for now?” Natsuki taps her foot impatiently. No one else has an answer, so we quickly return the desks to their positions and head out.
I find myself seated between Yuri and Sayori. I swear those two are teaming up on me now, and with how these couches are more for two people rather than three, the girls are in very close proximity to me.
“Isn’t this nice, Yuri? Just you, me, and a cutie-patootie!”
Come now, if anyone here is the cutie-patootie, it’s you!
“I must admit, this is quite quaint. The… cutie… His shoulder is very comfortable.”
She’s resting her head there oh my goodness.
“Yeah it is!”
And now Sayori as well. I feel heat flooding my cheeks. I am afraid to move because I might disturb them and make them stop. As embarrassed as I am, this is nice. What attracted Yuri to a loser like me? Man, why am I having second thoughts about all this? I’m so… average at best.
“I fear that we may be putting too much pressure on our poor Darling. He looks petrified.”
“Sweetie, you okay?”
“Huh? Yeah! Just… Put yourself in my shoes. Your inner shyness would come out, too.”
“You’re not even wearing shoes!”
“You know what I mean, you dork!”
“As long as you’re okay. And, um… Uuuuu, as long as you don’t mind this.”
“No worries, Yuri!”
“I’m not overstepping any boundaries, am I?”
“Not at all!”
She’s nuzzling her head against my shoulder.
“That is pleasing to hear.”
“Ehehe, how long until you two kiss, I wonder.”
“Pffahaha! Sorry! I’m just teasing. You two look sooo adorable! It’s really nice watching my friends get along and be comfy with each other!”
“Aha, aha, right, you goober…”
AAH! I-Is that… I swear Yuri’s lips just grazed the base of my neck! Sayori, stop giving her ideas!!!
“Ehehe, your face is getting sooo red right now!”
And it’s only gonna get redder when you point it out!
“Yuri, look at him! Doesn’t he look like a tomato?”
“Mmm, yes, he does…”
“Huh? You’re not looking.”
“A-Ah! I mean, I-I can feel the heat of his cheeks from here… Um, uuuhhh… Are you sure you’re okay with this?”
Oh my lord, she really just whispered in my ear like that! I’m going to have an aneurysm!
“I’m… I-I’m enj-enjo-enjoying… th-this. Ple-Please continue!”
Why am I so uptight? Is it because it’s Yuri? I never thought her to be the physically affectionate type, or at least not like this! Will I be this way when Monika comes over tomorrow?
“…Aha… Ahaha… Uhuhu~ If you insist!”
And now she seems so confident. Is it because I outright told her to resume? AAH! That was definitely her lips touching my neck!
“You’re never like this with me. What gives? I wanna see you all blushy like this more often!”
“I always get like this when you tease me unexpectedly!”
“Yeah, but like, not when we’re cuddling and stuff!”
“You just don’t pay attention enough. You’re still a bit of a ditz, you know.”
“Whaaa? You just agreed to being a meanie?!”
“I mean, um! N-No! I just wasn’t paying attention.”
“Ehehe, you got a big ol’ distraction, huh? Are you afraid of beautiful girls? You look scared stiff!”
“Uhuhu, I bet he’s scared stiff… AH! I-I-I— I didn’t mean— I-I’m…”
“Aha, aha… I-It’s okay, Yuri. We’re all adults he-here. We can handle a double entendre…”
“I never thought you could be like this, Yuri! Getting to learn more about you is fun!”
“Ah, w-well there’s a lot you don’t know about me, I guess… Aha, aha…”
“Is this really so enjoyable for you, Yuri. I’m not exactly… well… the pinnacle of attractiveness.”
“You aren’t exactly a dominant force either, but I’ve found you to be an irresistible one.”
“I know the feeling, ehehe!”
“In more ways than you could hope to experience, Sayori.”
“Ehehe, is that so?”
“Oh, I think you know. That’s just one of the differences between you and me. As I’ve assured you, though, that isn’t a bad thing.”
“Uh, you wanna fill me in on what you’re talking about?”
“It’s nothing at all, Darling.”
I don’t have the mental capacity to pursue this further. I feel… I can’t place it. Not my best.
“I’m, uh, really glad you’ve gotten so comfortable with me so quickly.”
“Are you enjoying our time together?”
“I am elated to hear that. Perhaps it is embarrassing to admit, but I have been experiencing touch-starvation for far too long. Despite my impressive vocabulary, I can’t hope to express how euphoric this is. To be able to indulge in this is comforting. No matter how I connect with characters in my books, nothing can replace the touch of a human. The idea that someone is enjoying your physical presence, the warmth of one’s body, the intimate sensation of touch with someone you care for…”
“Wow, Yuri. That was really well-said! Don’t you think, Sweetie?”
“Eh! Uh, oh yeah. Sorry. Perhaps I’m enjoying this a bit too much. Plenty of guys would be incredibly envious right now. Um, as far as what Yuri said… It… I could never hope to describe something like you just did. It isn’t embarrassing at all! Sayori and I both realized recently that our need for physical interaction was higher than we could have thought. We, uh, engage in plenty of casual intimacy throughout the days.”
“I’m always a slut for cuddles!”
“NNNGH— Hahaha, holy crap.”
“Some of the things… that come out of your mouth… make it seem as though Natsuki… is influencing your speech.”
Is Yuri losing focus? Or is she more focused? Her face has not left the crook of my neck, and—
That was definitely the tip of her tongue!
“Hm? What’s up?”
“Mhmhm~ As long as you’re enjoying yourselves!”
Of all the things I’d have to focus on when it came to bonding with the girls, I didn’t account for how hard it would be to tame Yuri. When I called her intense during festival weekend, I guess I had no idea she would live up to that.
“Hellooo~o? Earth to dumbass?” A small flick to the forehead brings me back to the present. I grunt and defend my face. “Oh please! Your skull is thick enough to withstand even the mightiest of blows!”
“Thanks, Natsuki. Love you, too.” The sarcasm dripping from my voice could flood a cavern.
“Hmph! Yeah, I bet you do!” Natsuki returns to her seat. Right, we’re in my living room. Sayori is next to me on one couch. Yuri and Natsuki are on the opposite couch.
“Are you okay?” Sayori’s concern is obviously about—
“Geez, it was just a flick! I’m not a monster, yanno!”
“N-No, it isn’t about that,” Sayori responds. “Hey, talk to me. You aren’t zoning out, are you?” I lean back in my seat, my hands falling into my lap.
“Well, I was, but I wasn’t forgetting things. I kinda daydreamed about the… significant portions of Saturday with Yuri.”
“Sat-yur-day?” Sayori’s moment of silliness got Natsuki snickering. “So your memory isn’t being a doodoo-head?”
“Well, it was only Saturday, but that gives me hope towards this being a temporary thing. It’d be nice to remember what happened with Monika.”
“Geez, sounds like you had a busy weekend with girls flinging themselves into your house. Before you know it, you’ll be cleaning your bedsheets more often… PFFT!” Oh, here we go. Natsuki’s got a sick burn for me. “I almost couldn’t say that with a straight face! Like you could please a woman like that.”
“Natsuki…” Yuri doesn’t look too pleased at Natsuki’s comment. Odd, I would have figured she’d be embarrassed by such insinuation. I guess I’m doing the blushing for both of us.
“Eh? Oh! I get it.” And Sayori says it so nonchalantly. Her sense of shame is— "Hey! I’m responsible with my periods, and I’m sure the others are, too!”
Well, that stopped the conversation in its tracks. Now everyone that isn’t Sayori is flustered. Yuri is looking away and toying with her hair. Natsuki looks dumbfounded.
“Uh. Yeah. I was referring to blood. Thanks, Sayori.”
“You’re welcome!” A ditz she may be sometimes, but Sayori absolutely knows what she’s doing. There’s no more reasonable doubt in my mind that’s she’s as meticulous as they come. Without warning, I feel Sayori lean against me and nearly topple over as a result. “I’m glad you’re feeling better, Sweetie! I never want you to miss out on affection with the others.”
“Wuh! Heh, thanks. So am I.” I reach up and ruffle her hair. Realizing that this may be a bit off-putting, I stop and glance up. Natsuki is who I’m worried about since she isn’t in on this. When she notices I’m looking at her, she looks away in a hurry. Yuri doesn’t seem bothered. In fact, she looks like she’s the one off in her own little world now. Is she still blushing? She is fidgeting with her fingers.
“Sorry about all that. Yeah, long story, but I kind of slogged through the weekend. I’m fine now.”
“You better be! I’ll kick your ass if you aren’t!”
“You’d kick my ass for any reason.”
“Yeah, and you said you’d let me. What kind of idiot are you to say something like that?” Natsuki leans forward. “You better not have said that because you underestimate me, ‘cuz then I won’t even feel bad about knocking your block off!”
“No, no, I don’t underestimate you at all. I’d be a fool to do that.”
“Good! And it better not be some kinda masochistic thing either!” Natsuki’s words seem to have caused Yuri to hide her face to the best of her abilities. I’m unfazed. Maybe it’s because it’s Natsuki and I exchanging jabs that I’m not bothered.
“Why? I mean, it’s not. That wouldn’t matter unless you were planning to beat me up anyhow.” Now it’s my turn to lean forward. I put my soul-piercing gaze to good use. “Were you planning to do that?”
“Get real! You just want another girl to touch you! Such a desperate pervert! Guh-rooo~oss!” I can hear Sayori giggling next to me. Yuri, again, doesn’t look amused. I guess she snapped out of whatever daydreaming she was doing.
“Trust me, I can give him all the attention he would ever need. Your childish attitude towards showing affection would simply turn him away.”
Natsuki seems taken back for a moment. I can feel the tension settling in. Natsuki is bothered and shows it, but nonetheless fires back. “Wow, big talk coming from the shyest girl in the district!”
“Whoa. Whoa now.” I have to step in. Unlike with conflicts about poems or anything of the sort, this directly involves me and I feel less awkward about coming forward. “Please don’t fight. Yuri, you gotta understand that Natsuki and I just have that kind of friendship. Nothing’s changing for the worse, and neither of us take any offense to the other’s words.”
“Yeah,” Sayori chimes in. “That’s why I was giggling. I can just feel when there’s something uncomfortable in the air between people, and there hasn’t been with them.”
“… Ah…” The regret on Yuri’s face tells the whole story. “I’m sorry for speaking out of line. I just… felt bad for staying silent the last time there was a conflict.”
“Well, there isn’t one. I may be childish but—”
“Nattie…” Though soft, Sayori’s words cut through whatever remark Natsuki was about to fire back with. Natsuki goes quiet and looks away.
“No, it’s okay, Sayori.” Yuri’s the one speaking up now. “I insulted her. She has a right to be angry at me. Natsuki…” Yuri turns towards the shorter girl, who is still facing away. “I’m sorry for saying such harsh things. It was incredibly rude and, dare I say, childish of me.”
“…” The room goes silent. It’s hard to tell what Natsuki is thinking. Her body is still and her demeanor is stiff. I can hear a loud, drawn-out breath leave her body. “… Whatever. Don’t worry about it. I know I can show affection when I want to. Besides, we’re just friends, so I don’t have to worry about that anyway.”
“Hey, platonic friends can still show affection for each other, you know!” Sayori’s right, but I’m unable to get a supportive word in before Natsuki responds.
“I meant physical affection, Dumdum…” Natsuki resumes sitting normally. She only partly glances in Yuri’s general direction. “It’s all good.” She raises a fist and gently bumps it against Yuri’s shoulder. Utter relief fills Yuri’s face, who returns Natsuki’s gesture with a pat on the shoulder.
“I will treasure your forgiveness.”
We all take a moment to lean back and collect ourselves. Conflict, no matter how small, takes a lot out of us. I’m just glad it’s over.
Bzzt! A phone vibrates. Yuri picks hers up.
“AH!” Yuri suddenly stands up. “I’m so sorry! Mother is here! We were going shopping and to the book store downtown after school and I told her earlier I’d be here at a friend’s house and my phone accidentally got put on vibrate and I missed an earlier text because of our talking and I have to go!”
The amount of energy Yuri put into her rushed explanation almost gives me whiplash. She fumbles with her shoes, grabs her bag, and swings open the front door. “Please do take care!” We hastily say our own farewells—Natsuki quieter than Sayori’s or mine—as Yuri bows and takes her leave.
“Oh, crud!” Now Sayori is the one standing up with her phone in hand. “I gotta get to the bus stop!” Ah, right, it’s Tuesday. Therapy time. I guess everyone lost track of the clock. That’s what happens when the day is less than ordinary.
“You haven’t even changed.”
“No time! If I miss the bus, I’m fricked!” I hear a faint snicker come from Natsuki. Sayori follows Yuri’s example, kicking her shoes on and snagging her bag. “Bye, Sweetie!” She rushes over to give me a hug, the bag whacking me in the shoulders. “Sorry!” I shrug it off. “Bye, Cutie!” Sayori adjusts her bag so it won’t hit Natsuki and falls into a hug. Natsuki looks utterly surprised but remains silent until Sayori is practically out the door. We both call out a goodbye as she closes the door.
Well, now it’s just Natsuki and me. Considering she’s the only one I’m not in a relationship with, I feel like merely existing in the same place with just her is enough to cause tension and awkwardness.
“I’m… gonna go.”
“What? No, you don’t have to.”
“I feel like I should, so I’m going to.”
That’s… rather disappointing, but not unexpected. I let out a sigh.
“Alright. Um, I’m sorry. I would have liked to spend time with you alone since the opportunity arose.”
“You don’t have anything to apologize for.” Something’s definitely up. She’s acting weird again now that we’re alone. I want to stop her but instead I put my hands on my head. What do I do? I don’t want to screw things up. I don’t want her to wind up being the only girl ostracized. At the same time, I don’t want to anger her.
“But I caused this rift in our friendship.”
“For Chri— What were you meant to do, keep your feelings hidden and just suffer in silence?” Natsuki powerwalks over and leans over me. “You did what you had to do. You did what was best for you. So what if things didn’t turn out how you wanted? You tried, and that’s what matters! You’re a lucky boy with some lucky girls.”
“If I didn’t—”
“Shut up! ‘If I didn’t! If I didn’t!’ Yeah, and if Sayori didn’t confess to you—”
If Sayori didn’t confess to me, she may have died before I could do anything about it.
Without another word, Natsuki starts to make a distraught exit with her things. As she opens the door, I call out to her:
“You can always talk to me. I’ll listen.”
She hesitates, but ultimately closes the door behind her.
I deposit another sigh into the filling frustration jar that resides in the living room. Must be some kind of record. I can feel a headache coming on so I snag some OTC painkillers from the bathroom and head to the kitchen. Water bottle fresh from the fridge, I return to my spot on the couch and down the half-dose.
Cool. Man, I wish Natsuki was easier to get through to. I’ve now had some practice with Sayori, both with seeing through the mask and dealing with the pain underneath, but Natsuki fortifies her walls when she senses emotions bubbling to the surface. Maybe Sayori can do something about this. Natsuki seems to soften up when it comes to her, after all. A more delicate touch may be required, and they’ve known each other longer than I’ve known Natsuki.
I close my eyes and try to ignore the complexity of emotions.
End Chapter 10-1