Crafty's One-Shots (Dec 31st, 2023: Happy With Yourself)

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Craftyatom
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Happy With Yourself (1/4)

Post by Craftyatom »

"Are you happy with yourself?"

The meaning of those words changed a lot, depending on how Misha said them in her head. Often, they conveyed disappointment, like her parents chastising her for something - the implication was that she should not be happy. But they could also represent a sick reversal of that sentiment: when someone else was upset by her actions, but Misha herself felt perfectly happy about it.

Or at least, that's how she wanted to feel.

In the heat of the moment, when she was finally able to feel something, a sick, malicious grin would rise up through her throat and onto her face. And in those moments, she would ask whether she was happy with herself, and, without fail, answer "yes".

But with all of that now in the past, little more than memories floating in a familiar sense of emptiness...

Was she happy with herself?

Sitting alone in the student council room, with her time at Yamaku all but complete, the answer was beginning to worry her.

Admittedly, this was roughly where she had wanted to be, back at the start. She was going to school for education: she would get invaluable experience with sign language, and passable grades in whatever other subjects would get her into a half-decent university, and that would be that.

But that had all changed years ago, when she had first entered this very room. The only person there had been a single girl, with short hair dyed a medium shade of blue, staring intently through a pair of glasses at the paperwork spread out in front of her.

She had looked up and locked eyes with Misha, with a stare that was powerful and yet also welcoming. And as she had described, in sign language more fluid than Misha had ever experienced before, that she was part of the student council and already knew who Misha was and why she was here, something within Misha melted into a small puddle, never to regain its original shape.

And that had been the status quo for quite some time. Sitting near that fire of a girl to stay warm, but never coming close enough to get burned. But the longer it went on, the harder it was to live with.

And then, on Christmas Eve, a miracle had happened.

~~~~~

Misha felt unnerved, standing alone in a small changing room - she hadn't been to any hot springs since childhood, and this one was completely new to her. Apparently Shizune's dad knew the guy who owned it, though she had gathered that the less she knew about that arrangement, the better.

Still, it meant that there was space for the two of them on Christmas day - though Misha hadn’t really understood why they would need to reserve “space”. Regardless, without any other plans for the holidays, Misha had taken Shizune up on her last-minute offer, they had packed their things on the night of Christmas Eve, and now, on Christmas day, wrapped in only a towel, Misha stepped out of the changing room and onto a stone-paved patio.

Whatever surface-level nervousness she had felt before, it suddenly morphed into a deep and gut-wrenching anxiety.

In front of her was not a large pool for many groups of people to soak in, but rather, a small pond of steaming water, only big enough for four or five people at once, with tall wooden walls surrounding it on all sides.

This was one of a set of private hot springs.

The only people who would be using this specific bath tonight were Misha and - already in the water, her eyes closed - Shizune.

Misha's mind began to run wild as she made her way across the smooth stone floor. Shizune had invited her, just her, nobody else, to a private hot spring, on Christmas day. Was there any other way to interpret it? Surely this was... romantic?

Trying not to let her nerves shake her too much, she lowered herself into the water - it was nice, but it didn't help calm her racing thoughts. At first she expected Shizune to do something, to make a move now that they were together. But nothing of the sort happened.

Maybe it would take time. But as the seconds passed, Misha found herself unable to bear the wait. She would have to do something.

But what? And how?

She needed to say something. After swallowing nervously, she turned to her right and tapped Shizune on the shoulder.

The girl next to her had to quickly wipe off her fogged-up glasses, but then waited for Misha to speak - something which took longer than usual.

[I... Thank you for taking me here.]

[Of course.] Shizune knew there was more than that, and didn’t look away.

[So... Why did you bring me here, anyways?]

[Because we both deserved it. The student council puts in a lot of work - we could use some downtime.] Focused on work, even when she was relaxing.

Unfortunately, that didn’t really answer the question Misha had been asking. [Did you invite Lilly?]

[I think she had some sort of family thing for Christmas.] That made sense, she was quite close with her sister. And Misha knew better than to bring up Shizune’s family - plus, she wasn’t exactly eager to discuss her own.

She decided to try something out, and play it off as a joke if necessary. [I mean, with just the two of us here, it’s almost like a date!]

She watched closely as Shizune smirked for a second, but didn’t say anything.

... what did that mean? Was it a mild chuckle, or a knowing smile? Shizune’s laughs were generally rather timid, but that face had also been kind of like the face she made when she was in the middle of a game. Was she calculating a strategy, somewhere in her head? Or was she not thinking of much at all? Misha wasn’t ready to give up... but she also didn’t know where to go.

Completely lost, she tried to think about all the romance books she had read that were like this. What was it that those characters always did in these situations? When they were nervous and awkward, how did they manage to push through to the cute stuff?

She locked eyes with the girl next to her. [Shizune, I... I really, really care about you. A lot.]

Shizune smiled - this time a calm, relaxed smile. [You mean a lot to me too.]

That had to be it. No more waiting, no more wondering, no more stalling. Misha was finally going to turn the page and step into the flames. As her heart pounded in her ears, she leaned forward, watching as Shizune’s face drew nearer. Slowly, she closed her eyes and puckered her lips, reaching out, hoping desperately to feel Shizune’s touch.

Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive the way she wanted - the next sensation Misha felt was the sharp slap of Shizune’s palm against her left cheek, causing her to recoil.

Misha quickly pulled up one hand to cradle the stinging skin, and opened her eyes. Before her, Shizune was looking at her own hand, an expression of disbelief on her face. She looked up, and briefly locked eyes with Misha again.

[Misha-]

It was too late. Misha quickly turned around and left, tears welling up in her eyes.

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Craftyatom
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Happy With Yourself (2/4)

Post by Craftyatom »

And yet, at least on the surface, life had continued... pretty much as normal. Neither of them had ever spoken about that night again.

But inside, Misha had felt like a hole had been torn in her. She had expected it to be painful, but it hadn’t been an acute pain - it had been more like hunger, with her stomach slowly collapsing in on itself out of sheer emptiness.

She had tried so hard to satiate it. With food, with friends, with the student council. With books and music about love, about sadness, about anger. But finally, she had simply given up. She would be empty forever.

Or so she had thought.

~~~~~

Translation was a difficult job, and this was never lost on Misha. Yet, despite her emptiness, she remained dedicated to it; in some ways, it made her feel better. She was still empty, but it didn’t matter: she could do something useful anyways. And, for all of the strange feelings she felt about Shizune, she never wanted to deprive the girl of her surrogate ears and mouth - that much would simply have been unfair.

But her translation duties kept her, in some ways, chained to Shizune. Every day of school was a day of understanding and repeating whatever Shizune said. Long ago, Misha had relished the chance to gain insight into her friend; now, she generally felt more like a rubber hose, with words being stuffed in one end and simply falling out of the other.

But one late night, as she sat in the student council room with Shizune and Lilly doing paperwork, the latter sighed and got up from her seat. She organized her papers, filed them away on a nearby shelf, and headed for the door.

Shizune tapped Misha on the shoulder. [Where are you going?]

Lilly stopped, a tired expression on her face. “Home. To get some rest.”

[But we’re not done.]

She let out another defeated sigh. “I don’t have the energy. I need to sleep.”

[We need these done by tomorrow morning.]

Lilly pursed her lips. “That’s a shame, then.” She turned around, trying to leave again.

[You’re just leaving work for me to do. I’m going to have to stay even later.]

“No, you don’t! You can go home too!” Lilly pinched the bridge of her nose. “This is a deadline that we can afford to miss.”

[It’s a deadline that we would already have met if you had spent more time on it the past few days!]

“I didn’t have more time to spend on it!”

Shizune narrowed her eyes. [Funny, I remember plenty of times when you weren’t here helping.]

“Yes, because I had other things to do!” She paused briefly to regain her composure. “The deadline you set was too tight. Just let them know that, and they’ll cut us some slack.”

[My deadline was fine. You chose not to stick to it.]

“I chose? Yes, I suppose I did choose to have a life outside of this awful room! And I’m sorry that you chose not to!” With that, Lilly turned around, fumbled momentarily with the door handle, and left.

Misha half expected Shizune to simply put her head down and get back to work, but instead she stared blankly at the door for a while, lost in thought.

Misha felt uniquely aware of the silence in the room, and eventually tapped Shizune on the shoulder to try and break it - though she wasn’t really sure what to say herself. [Are you okay?]

[Of course. She was just angry, she didn’t mean anything by it.] Another long pause. [I wish it wasn’t like this, though.]

[Like what?]

[Lilly means a lot to me. She’s one of the few people I can talk to as a friend. I just wish we weren’t so at odds with each other. Arguing with her doesn’t make me feel bad, just... empty.]

Misha’s brain lit up at the word, and was about to reply with “I know what you mean” when she stopped herself.

She knew that feeling because of Shizune. And Shizune wasn’t stupid; she would probably figure out what Misha meant. And that would break their unspoken promise, to forget that night.

But in the time it took her to realize that, another part of her realized something else: that she didn’t actually feel very empty. Something about this moment made her feel... better.

And finally, it clicked: Shizune’s face, clearly conflicted, betraying how empty she felt. Misha’s chest filled with some sort of emotion, though she couldn’t really describe it. And she didn’t need to.

All she needed was to get more of it.

[It’s not your fault.]

That was her strategy, her master plan for the weeks that followed. She took care to seek the pair out at every turn, to get every conversation going. If they were both there, she translated dutifully for them, and whatever happened happened. But if she could get either of them alone, she made sure to reassure them that it wasn’t their fault.

And finally, after all that work-

“I’m DONE! I’m done with your demands, I’m done with your rules, and I’m DONE with this stupid club!”

Misha did her best to soak in the look on Shizune’s face as the door slammed shut, but the true prize was one she wasn’t even expecting.

Later that same night, she was woken up by a knock on her door - which was odd, because when she checked her alarm clock, it was midnight. Wearily, she got out of bed.

On the other side of the door was Shizune, in her pajamas, looking... uncertain. [Can I talk to you for a bit?]

It took a moment for Misha’s eyes to adjust to the hallway lighting, but once she did, she finally noticed an extra little shine in the corner of Shizune’s eyes - just as the feeling began to grow inside of her again.

Long ago, she would’ve jumped at the chance to offer that helping hand, to be the confidant. But now, with her newfound emotion?

[Sorry, I’m really tired after all that paperwork earlier... Can it wait until tomorrow?]

Shizune’s face grew even more cloudy, but eventually she nodded, trying desperately to keep her lips still, and went back to her own room.

Misha closed her own door, and was barely able to contain herself any longer - the feeling took over. Images of Shizune flashed through her mind, forming a collage of a girl - a girl wearing an expression that made it look like she had nothing left.

Misha, meanwhile - without even noticing - had begun to laugh.

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Craftyatom
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Happy With Yourself (3/4)

Post by Craftyatom »

Misha had been completely reinvigorated by her newfound hobby. Watching and talking with Shizune became interesting again - Lilly never quite scratched the same itch, but that didn’t matter.

All that mattered was that Misha felt alive.

She got more work done, she spoke more confidently, she felt better - in fact, she felt like she could do anything. She styled and dyed her hair; Shizune hated it, but Misha felt like it suited who she had become.

And when Shizune had finally gotten close with a new boy in class, Misha kept up every step of the way. She had acted as a perfect accessory to the relationship - until, finally, her chance had arrived.

The feeling had been incomparable. Not for any of the usual reasons; rather, because when she closed her eyes, she could imagine Shizune’s reaction, and it had made Misha feel unstoppable.

And then... nothing.

The school year had drawn to a close. Shizune’s slow fall away from her last attempt at having someone special in her life had been fun, but now it was over. They would likely never see each other again.

And Misha realized that the emptiness within her had never left - only been momentarily satiated.

Worse, she knew that other people couldn’t fill that void. Lilly and Hisao never did. Only Shizune ever filled that gap, and now... she was finally gone, off to exist somewhere else.

And so Misha sat alone in the student council room, wondering where she herself would exist, if at all. Wondering whether she was happy with herself.

Or at least, she felt like she was wondering - but she hadn’t really thought much of anything since she came here early in the morning, and it was now afternoon. She was empty; kept company only by the ticking of the wall clock.

And then, that too disappeared.

For a moment, she wondered whether time had stopped. Or if she had died.

But a quick glance up - though something felt off - showed that the clock was still moving... just not ticking.

She stared at it for a bit before realizing why it looked odd: something was near her eyes. She could feel it on her nose.

She reached up and removed a pair of glasses that she swore she recognized; the world went blurry without them, and they made no sound, even as the tips of the frame fell inward and contacted the lenses.

Slowly beginning to piece everything together, she put her hand up to her hair, ruffling some of her bangs into her field of vision, and saw a mid-tone blue.

She was lost for words - though she also quickly realized that she couldn’t really say anything anyways. Whatever had happened, she was unmistakably Shizune.

And so she put the glasses back on, and began to think.

There was no point trying to figure out what had happened; this kind of thing didn’t happen. It made just as little sense to try and ask why it had happened, but part of her felt like maybe she knew the answer to that one.

Maybe she deserved it.

And, as if in response, the door opened, not making a sound. Misha - or rather, the girl who had once been Misha - looked up to see who was there.

It was a girl with long brown hair, looking somewhat lost.

It was Misha - or rather, Shiina, soon to become Misha - walking into the student council room for the very first time.

Once-Misha instinctively knew what part to play here. She locked eyes with the girl, who froze. [Shiina Mikado?]

[You... know my name?]

[I’m in the student council; I’ve read through your file a bit.]

[Oh. Um...]

[You’re here because you want to be a sign language translator, correct?]

[Oh, uh, yes!]

Finally, it was clear to Once-Misha what was happening here. She was about to watch herself grow, over the course of her years in the student council, from a passionate young girl into a woman who wanted nothing more than to hurt her closest friend.

And she would finally feel, once and for all, exactly how it felt to be on the other end of that relationship.

And despite the horrifying prospect of being trapped there for years, in another body, just to let herself be abused, she felt... nothing.

Empty.

And maybe that was why.

[If you want more experience with translating - more than you’d ever normally get - then I have a proposition for you.]

Because this was what she deserved.

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Happy With Yourself (4/4)

Post by Craftyatom »

But... was it?

They hadn’t yet gotten to the point where Now-Misha would begin hurting her, but it was drawing close. And yet, Once-Misha still felt... nothing. No fear, no anger, no sadness. If this was happening because she deserved to be punished, then why didn’t she feel bad? Surely it was supposed to hurt?

Alone in the student council room, she knew that she had to go and tell New-Misha about the hot springs trip she had reserved for tomorrow. That much was set in stone.

And then, of course... well, she knew how it would go. She knew that better than anything else.

But did it have to?

She had done so much wrong, all because of that one moment. Did it really have to happen the same way again? After all, she hadn’t yet been compelled to follow things the way they had originally happened to her; was it possible that her own agency could prevent everything from happening over again?

Maybe. But did she want to? After all, to make that encounter end differently, she would have to... accept her own proposition. And that wasn’t something she wanted.

But none of this was what she had wanted. All she had ever wanted was Shizune, whether as a lover or a toy. And she couldn’t ever get that back, but maybe she could give it to Now-Misha.

Maybe her punishment didn’t have to be about making her feel sad. Maybe it was enough to make someone else happy.

The moment that thought crossed her mind, she got up and hurriedly headed for the dorms.

~~~~~

The warm water lapped silently against Once-Misha’s skin as she sat and waited, her eyes closed.

The last time she had been here, the slightest wait had been a source of anxiety - but now, she was more than willing to take the time to relax. Or at least, forestall the inevitable.

Nevertheless, eventually she felt someone else get into the hot water next to her. And, after not long at all, Now-Misha tapped her on the shoulder. Once-Misha wiped off her glasses, turned to her left, and prepared herself for what was to come.

Now-Misha took a while to formulate her words. [I... Thank you for taking me here.]

[Of course.]

[So... Why did you bring me here, anyways?]

[Because we both deserved it. The student council puts in a lot of work - we could use some downtime.] It was too easy to stick to the words she had played over and over in her head.

[Did you invite Lilly?]

[I think she had some sort of family thing for Christmas.] The moment drew nearer and nearer.

[I mean, with just the two of us here, it’s almost like a date!]

Once-Misha could help herself from smiling wryly at that. She wanted to laugh and sigh at the same time. But she kept quiet. And finally, the end approached.

[Shizune, I... I really, really care about you. A lot.]

Once-Misha smiled. [You mean a lot to me too.]

Finally, as if in slow motion, Now-Misha leaned forward, closed her eyes, and puckered her lips.

And, at long last, Once-Misha broke character and returned the favor.

Their lips touched softly at first, but after being frozen in shock for a few seconds, Now-Misha seemed to explode with pent-up emotion, putting her hands on Once-Misha’s cheeks and leaning deeply into the kiss, trying desperately to get all of it, as if it would evaporate at any moment.

Once-Misha, for her part, tried to put in some effort, to make it feel real. She didn’t feel much herself, but there was a momentary spark of comfort - she was helping someone, and it felt right.

Finally, they pulled apart, and slowly opened their eyes again. However, much to Misha’s surprise, the girl in front of her wasn’t the girl she had once been - instead, it was a girl with short blue hair and a pair of glasses.

Now it was her turn to freeze for a moment in disbelief. She put one hand to her face, pulling some hair into her field of vision: it was long and brown.

She was back.

Her next thought was worrying, and she looked at Shizune - or at least, the girl she once knew as Shizune. [Are you... me?]

Shizune raised an eyebrow. [What?]

Hope began to bubble up through Misha’s chest. [Was that kiss... real?]

Shizune smiled, rolled her eyes, and leaned forward to kiss Misha again.

And as she began to understand that she had somehow found her way to where she had always wanted to be, and tears began to well up in her eyes, Misha wrapped her arms around Shizune, feeling more whole than she ever had before.

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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Dec 31st, 2023: Happy With Yourself)

Post by hdkv »

My, my, thank you, Craftyatom, you delivered me a wonderful gift for New Year's Eve!

I really liked your take on Misha becoming Shizune, this was interesting to read. Also, a happy ending story, yeeeeeee! After reading other charming, but bittersweet stories that were posted on the forums lately I'm glad that two girls literally found themselves in the end.

Hope you liked thinking around my prompt and thank you again ;)

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Re: Crafty's One-Shots (Dec 31st, 2023: Happy With Yourself)

Post by Mirage_GSM »

Ah, that was sweet...

And nice to see the story have a happy end after it took a dark turn in the middle. :-)

Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.
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