幸山 -sakiyama- Chapter 3: Unexpected Effects

Author’s Note: After a bunch of months, I return with the third chapter of sakiyama! This chapter was supposed to be longer, but after reading beta reader Noeybody’s feedback, I decided to rewrite it and go with a different way of telling this story! I think you’ll notice what I mean if you check my blurb for sakiyama.

Also, I’d like to thank Pri for her illustrations again, as well as her beta reading for this chapter! Special mention also goes to her rephrasings! And speaking of feedback, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated!

Now, here’s the next chapter of sakiyama! Also, mature guidance is advised while reading this, especially if you’re under the age of 17, yo.

After the school bell rang sometime during the noontime, Fira Taffy was expecting her usually stone-faced best friend inside the classroom some doors away on the same floor, dealing with the source of her “Ace Detective” nickname and his band of idiot friends.

But certain events led her to knowing about Rockpile not hanging out with said friends, surprisingly, and his idiot friends weren’t doing their usual stuff too. When she saw them in their classroom, Forest was silently frowning at the floor, arms crossed. Sanders was hanging his head on the back of a chair, muttering something about traitors and being abandoned. As for Shielder, he was shaking in place, looking like he saw a ghost.

“Speaking of ghosts…” Fira thought, remembering her recent encounter with one, “I guess they’ll be alright if Saki’s with Rockpile and the kids…probably…”

The dyed bluenette was apprehensive about that at first, but something about the ghost girl gave her reassurance. Her poise, expression, and voice had a heartmelting power that was beyond Ruby Rose’s puppy-dog eyes. Saki…the name sounded kinda familiar to her, but anyway, Saki managing to convince Fira that fast was disturbing. Also, Mira and Kou being with Rockpile made the older Taffy worry, despite the presence of that older sister, as Rockpile wasn’t trustworthy to Fira.

So, Fira decided to search for her best friend in the hopes of finding Johnny Rockpile. Justitia Firelight, also known as Rockpile’s archnemesis, would most likely have an idea about where the tan and blonde delinquent was.

Fira didn’t expect the hiding and crying of her best friend in a toilet cubicle when she went to the girls’ washroom, though.

“…Justy?” the dyed blunette asked without her usual, bursting energy, making sure the door was closed before moving with quiet steps to her friend. “What’s wrong?”

Suddenly, the crying went silent. Fira, feeling like she made a wrong guess, tried to open her mouth to apologize, but…

“Nothing,” Justy’s voice carried.

Fira breathed a sigh of relief, relief that lasted a few seconds before she realized that she wasn’t out of the woods yet.

“You suck at lying, Justy,” Fira called, “And I’m not as traitorous as you think.”

“Leave me…leave me alone…” Fira’s best friend replied, cracking despite the attempts at using a hard voice. “You…you won’t understand.”

“Is this about your abandonment issues again?” Fira asked. If it wasn’t Justy’s abandonment issues, then what?

“…”

Much to Fira’s dread, they took a long while with their silence there.

“…Yes,” said the voice from beyond the cubicle door. “That monster called me someone who would be played with and then thrown away! I AM NOT SOMEONE WHO SHOULD BE THROWN AWAY!”

Fira flinched, feeling the hate in her best friend’s words. She didn’t fully agree with Justitia’s methods in terms of dealing with rulebreakers, but Fira’s anger would rise when other people managed to break Justy’s spirit…and when Fira knew that she wasn’t there to help Justy. As far as the dyed bluenette knew, the redhead had stupid parents, workaholics of a damn disturbing level. Fira clenched her fists, remembering when those heartless people showed that they even had the guts to justify it.

“‘For the greater good’ my foot…” the bluenette best friend snarked mentally before knocking hard on the cubicle door. “Open the door!”

And as expected, Justy opened the door. When Fira saw her best friend’s face, she remembered the day when Justy rang the doorbell of the Taffy residence, the day when Justitia Firelight became totally orphaned, for better and for worse…but mostly for worse. Her reddish-brown hair was a mess, and her blue eyes were reddened, teary, and empty.

Fira suddenly felt regret for putting force into her command. She never wanted to see that face again, but she felt that she had to do that to stop Justy from locking herself away again.

Without further hesitation, Fira pulled her best friend into a hug, letting Justy cry on her shoulder.

“T-That damn Rockpile…H-He told me that…damn Rockpile…damn delinquent scum…”

Fira raised an eyebrow at that. “Johnny Rockpile was the one who triggered this? Strange. Rockpile would harass Justy, yeah, but with how she is, breaking her would take a genius…which Rockpile isn’t, as far as I know. Still, Justy sucks at lying, and Rockpile would only attack when Justy here would approach…which means…a wild guess hitting the mark? Still…”

The bluenette frowned. Wild guess or not, Fira would still look for that dumbass, ’cause he hurt her friend…the friend who she considered a sister, even though they weren’t related by blood.

Fortunately, Fira and her frequent walks throughout Tree City helped her know where to find Rockpile. She wasn’t sure of his exact location, but she had some knowledge about where he usually went when he wasn’t at school.

“Like, for example, Oasis Mall, where he and his idiot friends would go to play at the arcade and buy whatever crap he and his crew were into. There’s also Sanders’s mansion, but the first two locations aren’t likely locations, now that those nuts look torn up…so…”

“Let’s go, Justy,” she told her foster sister, taking her by the hand. “We’ll be teaching a dumbass a lesson.”

The redhead nodded, wiping her eyes with the sleeve of her blazer before wearing her stone-faced expression again. The reddened eyes weakened the force of her intended expression, though, and she quickly looked away, withdrawing her hand from Fira’s.

Still, Fira walked, knowing that her foster sister would follow her.

“The Ace Detective’s crying?”

“Looks like Rockpile really broke her…”

“Did you see her shaking back there this morning?”

Without another word, they walked out of the school, passing by and trying to ignore students who pointed and whispered at them. Fira grit her teeth, feeling pissed at her friend and at her schoolmates. She knew that losing her temper wouldn’t help, though, so she kept on walking forward, up until the point when they needed to turn and walk through the streets outside Tree City Central School.

If Fira’s memory served her correctly, she would be able to find him in a cafe where she saw him work as a waiter during summer break.

The dyed bluenette also hoped that nothing bad happened to Mira, to Kou, and to Saki. She wasn’t a fan of this new trend where girls and kids trusted Rockpile as soon as they met him. “I’ll punch him if he even has the guts to call himself a protagonist,” she mentally added, fists clenching and eyes twitching. A scolding seemed to be in order for the ghost girl too, considering how strange she and her younger brother acted.

Fira couldn’t understand it. Kou couldn’t pick up on the fact that his sister was dead. It didn’t help that Saki enabled it, acting like she’s alive and well, when it’s plain to the eyes that she’s a ghost. Little Mira going along with the pretending was understandable, considering how young and naive she was, but that naivety also kept Mira from noticing the problems that Kou and Saki had, doubly so for Rockpile and his delinquency.

So, Fira concluded that Kou wasn’t quite right in the head, that Saki and Mira needed a scolding, and that she would be giving Rockpile a scolding for going along with Saki, complete with a shiner for hurting Justy.

Then, Fira grinned.

“We’re here,” the bluenette said, looking at the sign of that cafe. “Aurora’s.”

Justitia Firelight (also known as “Ace Detective,” thanks to that delinquent scum) was amazed at how long she managed to hold her emotions in during the morning. Being described in that hateful way by that scum was torture, and she sorely wished that she could choke that fool to death in an alleyway. She had the strength for that, thanks to Fira, her dear best friend and foster sister, but she wasn’t going to risk further destroying her image in front of a crowd of fools.

“Mother would be disappointed if I did that,” Justitia thought. Even though Justitia knew that her mother was dead.

Now, Justitia liked considering herself a person who wasn’t delusional. Still, she didn’t want to recall the memory of her mother’s and father’s death, deaths that could have been prevented if she exceeded their expectations and kept them from getting themselves killed. Justitia’s foster family would tell her that it wasn’t her fault, but Justitia believed otherwise. That’s why she worked hard to be a protector that society deserves. That’s why she volunteered to be the President of Tree City Public High School’s Student Council. She wanted to show them how things should go, and she had confidence in herself when it came to that.

Yet, that scum managed to tear her heart apart. Clearly, Justitia wasn’t working hard enough, and to reduce the damage that her weakness would inevitably cause, she held her emotions in up until she reached the girls’ washroom during the noontime.

And even though she was happy with her bluenette friend’s hug, the redhead felt ashamed. Showing weakness to other people was something that people hated, right?

“We’re here. Aurora’s.”

Justitia turned to look at Fira, who was looking at the sign of what seemed to be a cafe. Justitia tilted her head when she looked at it. The so called “scum,” Johnny Rockpile, was there, but he wasn’t alone. Past the transparent window, he was sitting with two middle school students, making her go “How low can he get?” in her mind.

Then, she realized that there was a strange third person.

A translucent, glowing third person.

Justitia wouldn’t admit it out loud, but she had begun rethinking her views on the credibility of those ghosts sightings in those news programs. From “completely foolish jumble of attention-seeking hoaxes,” she changed it to “mostly foolish jumble of attention-seeking hoaxes.” Also, she hoped that no one heard her recent gulp, because she didn’t want anyone to know that she was nervous…at the ghost, especially.

The puzzled redhead tried to speak, to inform Fira about the ghost (“That I am not afraid of”), but when she felt the roughness in her throat, she decided to stay silent. She had already showed weakness out in the open, and she wouldn’t show more, especially while she was near that scum…and that ghost.

“Justy, stay outside, in front of the owner’s house,” Fira told her, pointing to the house beside the cafe. “As much as you want to deal with the dumbass, well…you don’t seem calm enough to deal with him properly. Sorry.”

Justitia silently nodded, turning and walking away from Fira. Then, she sat in front of the gate to the house, trying to ignore the people on the street and in the other shops, each having a house beside them.

Those residential-commerical structures were commonplace in Miniterra, a pride for the country and an envy of the rest of the world. Justitia rested her chin in her hand, reminded of Miniterra’s history. She almost wondered why people like her parents ever lived here, but she quickly caught herself. She bit her lip as she focused on the concrete ground. She knew her parents would called her foolish if they knew she admired the country’s founders.

Justitia smiled wryly. She felt like a gigantic disappointment, indeed.

Suddenly, the ringing of a chime caught Justitia’s attention, making her wonder about how much time actually passed during her brooding.

Fira had returned, and behind her was the delinquent scum, who suddenly glared after spotting his nemesis. That led Justitia into standing up, but…

“Okay, let’s do this properly,” Justitia’s foster sister interrupted, standing between the two glaring students. “I’ve decided to hold back on giving dumbass behind me a shiner–“

“Wait, what?”

“–’cause Granny had a point back there about mercy and all that. Still…”

And Fira turned to face the tan blonde scum behind her. Her expression was most likely serious, for it was making him wear a serious one too.

“You,” Fira continued, pointing at the scum, “will have to talk with her,” followed by pointing to Justitia.

Justitia looked on with widened eyes, feeling disbelief at what she was witnessing. Mercy? Apologies? Those rarely worked! Her parents had shown her proof!

Again, Justitia wondered if Fira was actually trying to be a proper friend. Since when did apologizing help matters? That scum would just fake it and keep on tearing her heart!

“I understand Granny’s point, I do,” the redhead heard the blond say, right before she forced her hoarse throat to voice her protest. “But she looks like she doesn’t want to talk with people like me, unfortunately, let alone have her presence within range.”

“Well, you two are going to have to work hard and build a bridge between you two,” Fira responded, looking at the two one by one before returning to the delinquent scum. “Rockpile, I’m gonna have you hang out with me and Justy here every after-school starting tomorrow.”

Wait, what?

“Yes, I just said that, you idiots,” the dyed bluenette said with a smile. Justitia did her best to bite her tongue. She was dying to get back at Fira calling her an idiot, but she knew from experience that talking back would only cause more trouble.

“Actions speak louder than words,” the redhead repeated in her mind again and again while taking deep breaths, and then her shoulders felt the taller girl’s hands.

“Justy. Look at me.”

Closing her eyes, Justitia wanted to disappear, and she wanted that scum behind Fira to disappear too. It was too much. Too much.

“Look at me, Justy. It’s okay.”

Even though a part of her screamed that it wasn’t okay, Justitia opened her eyes and saw her foster sister’s concerned expression. The shorter girl wanted to cry, but the sight of blond hair caused her to hold her tears back. She didn’t want to show weakness to others, let alone to that scum.

“You’ll have a hard time, but I won’t abandon you. Trust me, Justy. We won’t abandon you.”

Justitia couldn’t form words in response. The hard shouts of her mother, the cold silence of her father, that insult from that blond delinquent scum–and then Fira was acting like things can get better. Did Fira understand?

“I’m here, Justy…I’m here…”

“Yeah, Big Sis Justy…Mira’s here too…”

Justitia closed her eyes. She wanted to scream at them, to demand that they go away, but the Taffy sisters’ embrace was warm, so warm…truly unlike the life that she had lived under her late parents…

“I don’t know if you’ll accept it, but I’d like to apologize. I guess I should leave now too.”

And as her own sobs filled her hearing, Justitia thought that she heard that blonde announcing his exit. And did he apologize as well? Truly? From the bottom of his heart?

“Don’t worry. Things will be better.”

A girl’s voice rang in her mind. By themselves, statements like that could have been empty, a cheap attempt at easily cheering someone up. Any other time, it wouldn’t have made her feel any better, but this time it struck something inside her. Justitia blinked through tears to look for who said it.

It was the ghost from before, but she was running off with the middle school boy.

Justitia felt a tugging, like she had seen that ghost before, but she ignored it. She felt very tired, so she closed her eyes again and leaned on Fira’s shoulder, unafraid of the sneers that her parents were giving inside her mind.

“Thank you,” Justitia whispered.

“”You’re welcome,”” her sisters replied.

And Justitia smiled, wishing that the warmth that she was feeling would last forever.


Next Chapter: [I’ll be waiting for a proper update, Tobby. Do your best, yo!]

Previous Chapter: Routine Changes

幸山 -sakiyama-

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