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Posted: Mar 5 2017, 08:49 PM
Member No.: 114
Joined: 30-November 16
During a lull in the conversation, Fukumi sighed happily. “I can’t believe we never tried doing this before. It was a great idea, Mirai.”
“Hell yeah,” Yuki said, leaning back in his chair. “It feels good to talk to you again. Face to face. Real talk. Even with this bloody framerate and shitty robotified voices.”
Akane feigned shock; it was so over the top that it couldn’t possibly be real. “Yuki-chan! Language! I’m ashamed for you and anyone who’s ever met you.”
Yuki slowly turned to look at her. “You know you’ve met me, right, Akane-chan?”
“Well, then. I’m ashamed of myself.”
Mirai smiled wanly. Her three friends were crowded into Fukumi’s bedroom, cramped around her desktop computer to video call Mirai. The girl was sitting on her bed in her dorm room, hugging her knees (which were drawn up to her chest) and watching them on her phone, which was balanced in front of her on a stack of pillows. “Don’t fight,” she said.
Akane poked her tongue out at the camera. “Don’t you tell me what to do, Mirai.”
“Yeah,” Yuki chipped in, poking his tongue out too. “You ain’t the boss of me, Micchan.”
Fukumi only rolled her eyes. “Come on, you two. We get to talk to Mirai properly for the first time in ages and you fool around?”
“Hey, don’t judge me. It’s the only thing I’m good at.” Yuki placed a hand over his heart.
Fukumi rolled her eyes again and looked at the webcam with an expression that said, save me from these morons. Mirai only sighed and didn’t say anything.
The grin flickered off Yuki’s face. He leaned forward, propping his elbow up on the desk and resting his chin on his hand.
“Oi! Yuki-chan!” Akane complained. “You’re taking up too much space. I can’t see the screen properly now.”
Yuki ignored her; instead his eyes flicked across the screen, as if he was searching for something in Mirai’s face. “Say, Micchan,” he began mildly. “You’ve been full of sighs today and not saying much. Everything OK over there in Edo?”
Her other two friends fell silent immediately as it dawned on them that Yuki was kind of right. And it wasn’t a light, content kind of silence; it was heavy.
Mirai glanced down, away from the camera. She didn’t say anything, but perhaps that in itself said everything. It was enough to confirm the suspicion that something was most definitely not right.
“Mirai...” Fukumi said. She didn’t finish; she didn’t know how to finish. The three on the other end of the line fell into silence once more.
Akane spoke up suddenly. “You know, she doesn’t have to say anything. You’re not obligated to tell us anything you don’t want to, Mirai, and if you haven’t said it already then I’d guess you don’t want to say it.”
“With the greatest respect, I completely disagree, Akane-chan.” Yuki lifted his elbow off the desk and turned to look at Akane. “You know what Micchan’s like. She doesn’t parade around what she feels even if she wants to. I don’t mean to say that’s a bad thing; it’s just the way she is.” He glanced between Akane and Fukumi. “I’m not wrong, am I?”
Fukumi slowly shook her head. Akane opened her mouth to protest but then shut it again and sighed. Taking this as a win, Yuki directed his next comment at Mirai. “In fact, I’m willing to bet part of the reason you suggested this call is because you wanted to talk to us about something, right, Micchan? But you’re just not saying it because you don't want to think about it. We’ve seen you do that sort of thing before.”
The whole time the others were talking about her, Mirai was looking down, the lump in her throat growing bigger with each word her friends spoke. She'd told herself that she was proposing the call because she just wanted to talk to her friends for a casual chat, but Yuki-chan was right that part of her was desperate to talk with them about the upcoming mission, and she wasn't going to deny it now that he'd said it. Mirai didn’t look up when Yuki asked the question but she did nod, a movement so small it was almost imperceptible through the blurry and slow video.
“See? We know you too well, Micchan. You can’t fool us.” His tone had gone a little quieter and a lot gentler. “And look, I don’t know what's going on, but it’s OK. I promise it’ll all be OK. And we’re here for you while it’s not, yeah?” Akane and Fukumi murmured their agreement. “So don’t worry. We’re not going to make fun of you for whatever it is that’s on your mind.”
Mirai still didn’t look up, but she did speak. “...they’re sending me to war.”
If the silence before was heavy, this silence was stunned.
Akane was the first to speak up. “You’re kidding.”
Mirai shook her head and finally faced the camera again. She sniffed; the beginnings of tears glinted in her eyes.
“But they - they can’t do that. You’re still a minor! They aren’t seriously sending children to war. That’s just plain wrong!”
“Akane,” Fukumi laid a hand on the other girl’s shoulder. There was a warning note in her tone.
“This is fucked up. I’m sorry, Fukumi, if I’m being unruly, but this is fucked up and it’s just not right. They shouldn't be sending schoolchildren into real battles.”
“You’re not helping, Akane-chan,” Yuki said, though his own voice had a quiver in it; he was distressed by this, too. He looked at Mirai’s face on the computer screen. “Just breathe, OK, Micchan? Calm down a little and tell us exactly what’s going on. If you’re allowed to, of course,” he added as a hasty afterthought.
Mirai hugged her knees to her chest even tighter and took a sharp breath. She didn’t really know if she was supposed to be talking about it either, but whatever. “There's a city under attack from some rebels, so some of the Edo Bugei students are going there to help defend it. I signed up to help them, and we’re leaving tomorrow.”
Fukumi spoke up. “Do you know how long you’ll be gone?”
Mirai shook her head, and sniffed again. “I don’t know. But civilians are in danger. I want to help. And I think I could make a real difference to the fight. I don’t regret signing up. But it's scary,” her voice broke then. “I don't know what could happen.”
For a moment, no-one said anything. All four of them wore downcast expressions.
When someone finally spoke, it was Yuki. “You know what, Micchan? I know you're going to try and deny this but you're brave. You're really, really brave. If someone told me I had to go to war I would find a box to hide in and never come out from it. I guess most people would. And you admitted that you’re scared. Maybe that's the bravest thing about this all.”
Mirai didn’t share in Yuki’s positivity. She didn’t feel brave; how could someone be if they were scared of what might happen to them and what they might have to do? She wished these doubts would just go away, that she could go into battle assured that she was going to be doing good and unafraid of death. But instead she was here, on the verge of crying, telling her friends she was scared she might get hurt but conveniently omitting the part she was most scared of, the part where she might have to end up killing other people. Even if she knew those other people would be trying to kill her and many others, she didn’t think they deserved to die in turn, and she was afraid that at the crucial moment that thought might stop her from carrying out her duties as a soldier, and leave her or others in a vulnerable position. But that was a thought she couldn’t bear muse over for long, yet alone bring it up, not even with Fukumi, Akane, and Yuki.
Fukumi nodded. “You’re right to be scared, too, Mirai. Anything could happen. That’s why you need to be careful, all right?”
“Look after yourself,” Akane chipped in. “Don’t try to be the best warrior out there. Don’t run headfirst into it. Do what you have to but don’t try to do more than you’re able. Don’t be afraid of running away if you have to.”
“Yeah. And if you do that, I’m sure you’ll be fine. Just remember it’s more important to keep yourself alive than to be a hero. OK?” Yuki sighed. “But you know, we’re gonna be worried sick about you, worrying if--” He stopped and gave her a smile. “No. I’m not gonna say 'if something might happen to you', because nothing is going to happen, right?”
Mirai wiped her eyes on her sleeve and nodded. Even though she still had her misgivings, it was reassuring to know that there would be people thinking about her and praying for her safety. “I guess it won’t.”
“Atta girl. If you ever have a spare moment and you need to talk to us don’t hesitate to give any of us a call. We’ll all make sure to keep our phones turned on as much as possible.”
“Thank you,” Mirai said. Yet again, the group fell into silence for a moment.
“In other news,” Akane said, perking up in an effort to direct the conversation somewhere more cheerful for Mirai’s sake. “Do you remember Yui and Akihiko from middle school? Did you hear they got together? Whadda you think about it? Personally, I didn’t think it was a great match at first, but after seeing them together…”
((OOC: their call didn't end there, but the rest is basically just random chit-chat about various gossip in Kitakyushu so I'm not going to write that bit. This is way too long already haha))