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Thread: The Frozen Palace [Nasuverse AU]

  1. #1

    The Frozen Palace [Nasuverse AU]

    A fair warning. This fic is basically almost made up of mostly OCs and re-imagined characters. If that's not your kind of thing, then it's not for you. For the rest well, I hope you all enjoy what I've written up. This is my first fic here in Beast's Lair so I'm extremely kinda nervous.

    If you find any typos, spelling mistakes, odd sentence structure feel free to point them out to me, because frankly I'm still an amateur writer who's still learning the ropes. Also because I'm a perfectionist who can't let go of the feeling that his own writing is shit.



    INDEX:
    Chapter 1: Frozen Static
    Chapter 2: Normal Problems
    -For future chapters-

    Chapter 1: Frozen Static



    I smelled something sweet. That was the first thing that came to me. The smell was like chocolate, freshly baked from an assortment of egg, flour and freshly crushed cocoa. It wasn’t the only smell, there’s also the smell of melting wax and fire, the striking scent of alcohol and antibiotics. There was also sounds, blurry chanting of sorts. There were multiple people, that much was for sure.


    I felt a back against a bed, it was soft and it held a body at an angle. There was something in the arm, something that pierced the skin. There were people on the bed, sitting on the edge. I got curious so I opened a pair of eyes.


    I saw a sterilized room. It was very white, I didn’t think it could be this white but it was. The only things that weren't white were the cyan coloured lines that ran across the wall, the pieces of medical equipment carefully placed around me and the group of people who were staring at me. Oh, and the cake, can’t forget the cake. I looked around at the group around me, faces dumbstruck as if they saw a ghost.


    I looked at the cake that stood on a lap, well a tray that had cake on it anyways. Yup, it was chocolate. Not just one chocolate, it had strawberry chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mint chocolate, so much chocolate you’re at risk of getting sugar overdose. It had sixteen candles on it, all lit up. I stared at it for a while before I spoke up, out came a quiet voice that sounded like it hadn’t been used in a long time. It was a whisper, a feeble vibration of air that pathetically came out of a mouth. “Can I have some?”


    The room exploded into a chorus of cheers and shouting.


    -(O)-


    I was sad, very sad. The doctor told me I can’t eat cake. He said I’ve been on a liquid food diet for so long that if I ate anything stiffer than gelatin this body might go into shock. That made me sad. All that chocolate and I can’t eat any of it. Instead they gave me strained tomato juice, I didn’t like it.


    I lifted a hand to a face, they said they did exercise for me so this body didn’t get stiff but it was still hard to move. The arm was all thin, black skin and veins that popped up from below the skin, it wouldn’t stop shaking. There was hair that was connected to a head, it was long and reached down to the waist. It was the colour black, I prefer periwinkle.

    They gave me a mirror. I held it up to myself. There was a face, it was smallish with cheekbones that stuck out and eyes that looked sunken. Other than that, it looked very cute with childlike eyes that seemed to have endless curiosity. The face was frowning for some reason, I wanted it to be happy. I asked it to be happy and it smiled, it felt hollow though so I asked it to go back. It was frowning again. It was strange, I asked the doctor why the face does the things it did. He frowned and told it that it was my face. I looked at it again, it sure didn’t feel like my face. If it was my face, then I would know why it was frowning. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get cake? That made sense, when people don’t get cake they get all sad. People would be less sad if they had cake. I told the doctor that.


    He gave a laugh. “Lots of people would love to have cake. Some however can’t eat cake due to many factors and circumstances, others just don’t like cake.”


    People who don’t like cake? That’s absurd. I told him that it was absurd. He laughed again. “I know it’s a world breaking revelation but it’s true,” he gave a few snickers. “There are people out in the world who prefer well done steak over a medium rare, Hawaiian over pepperoni and etc, etc, etc the list goes on.”


    “However it’s time for me to give you some more relevant explanations. You have been asleep for… about a year or so. Your body has gone weak but with help and support we can get you back to your old self.” He smiled at me. “Now then, I’m sorry I had to remove your family and relatives from the room but it’s best that you slowly acclimate into things. We’ve already checked your vitals and other than weakened muscles and bones, you’re just about as healthy as any other person. Plus by how you’re able to hold a solid conversation with me I’d say your mind is still sharp. First things first however I would like to ask you some questions.”


    The man grabbed a chair and sat on it. He had a woman with him in a white and blue nurse’s outfit. It was pretty plain and practical. She had a clipboard with her. “Now, what’s your name?”


    I stared at him for a bit. “I dunno,” I whispered.


    He looked at me with a worried expression. “Oh dear.”


    -(O)-


    He was talking with someone outside the door. That nurse gave me another cup of tomato juice. “Drink up miss, you need to get back your muscles if you want to go out again.”


    I looked at the drink. “The taste is bad.”


    “I know tomato juice may not be your thing but please, bear with it,” the nurse left as she joined the doctor in the hallway.


    There was another person in the room. I didn’t notice it until now, I didn’t know how. One minute there was nothing in the corner, the next minute there it was.

    It came over to me. Regarded me with cold red eyes, no wait I think they’re blue… Purple? I don’t know, the colour doesn’t seem to agree with me. “Hello Sleeper. It seems you’re awake.”


    “I guess?” I whispered. “Do I know you?”


    “Once,” it said. “We were friends in school, before the incident. In official reports, I am dead.”


    “Are you a ghost?”


    “No.”


    “What happened?”


    “Sorry, not feeling like it,” it brushed me off.


    “Why?”


    “I just don’t feel like it.”


    “Then why are you here?”


    “I’m watching you.”


    “Watching me?”


    “Please don’t repeat my words. It’s poor use of time.”


    Who this person? Why are they in my room? I don’t know any of the answers, all I do know is that I don’t know anything. “Why do you watch me?”


    “Because you’re under my protection,” the nurse came back and walked around it. She looked at my cup and frowned.


    “You really don’t like tomato juice do you?”


    “I told you that already,” I shook my head. “Are there other flavors?”


    “Sorry, but tomato is all we got. The snowstorm outside had delayed the deliver tanks. It’ll be another hour or so before they get here.”


    “I hope they get here. I want something other than tomato.”


    “They’ll get here, don’t worry,” she said before leaving.


    “How annoying. They should manage the delivery tanks better, that way they can be on time. Even in the middle of a blizzard.”


    “She didn’t see you.”

    “I didn’t want her to. It would complicate things.”


    “You said you weren’t a ghost, but she didn’t see you. Are you lying?”


    “That’s good. It’s good to be suspicious of things that people tell you are true. However as I said, no. I don’t care if you believe me or not but I’m not a ghost.”


    “Then what are you?”


    “Not feeling like it.”


    The doctor came back along with the nurse and two people. They walked around it. The two people were a man and a women, the woman held a baby in her arms. It was sleeping.


    The lady had light skin and dark hair styled in a bob cut, she wore a thick beige coat, a deep blue scarf around her neck and a pair of heeled boots. The man also had light skin with short brown hair with a short boxed beard. He wore a thick white parka, a black pair of snow pants and brown boots that looked like they’ve been used for a long time. His stark blue eyes were hidden behind a pair of glasses. The baby was wrapped around in a thick cloth of sort, it was trying to reach for the women.


    “Hey honey,” the woman said to me. “The doctor told us about your... well your circumstances. I know you don’t recognize me but… well… it’s me, your mother.”


    I titled a head at her, “mom?”


    She gave a sad smile, “I know it feels strange to you right now but we’ll help you get through it all.”


    I looked at the baby. “Is that a boy or a girl?”


    “Huh? Oh! You mean Aoko,” she brought the baby closer to me. “This is Aoko, your new baby sister.” The little baby stared at me with round, curious eyes that too were stark blue.


    “Sister?” I poked at the little blob of cuteness and flesh with a hand. It started sucking on a index finger. “Why is her mouth around this finger?”


    “I think baby just mistook it for a pacifier. That’s all kid,” the man who I assume to be my father told me. He had an odd smile, it was happiness shrouded in grief or perhaps something of irony? I don’t know, I’m not an expert on faces.


    “Why does she suck it like that?”


    “Oh babies are like that,” my mother said. “They think that whatever’s in their mouth is something to eat or drink. Because that’s what mouths are used for.”


    “Well you better be careful with that,” the man said. “Not everything that goes into the mouth is good for you.”


    “Oh, you mean like all those little sweets that you’ve been giving to little Aoko haven’t you?”


    “Hey, nothing wrong with the occasion sugar every once in the while.”


    “You’re going to make her all fat and sticky!” She pouted at the man. “At this rate the only thing she’ll eat are candy and bakings!”


    “Hey it’s just on occasions! Honest!” The two broke into an argument. Despite the heated exchange of words, they both seem more happy talking about Aoko than when they were talking to me. I felt an odd pang of irritation.


    As I watched them argue over Aoko, I noticed something. She had a name, I didn’t. Somehow my irritation had gotten stronger. “What’s my name.”


    They both stopped as they stared at me. “Oh, the doctor hasn’t told your name hasn’t he?” My mother said to me


    She handed the baby over to father as she sat beside me, she looked nervous but she smiled all the same. “Come on Touko, drink your tomato juice.”


    -(O)-


    “Good morning Winnipeg! This is 144.43 Jam. Your daily source of the good old classics. Today’s May 7, 2018 and boy do I have good news for all you folks, it seems like the snow will let up for the week so expect those roads to be cleared for today. Dress cozy though since it’s gotta be minus thirty-five Celsius. Now for this morning’s music we have some Queen for you all, I’m Going Slightly Mad-


    I turned off the radio beside me on the bedside table. “Oh come on honey it was just getting to the good part,” my mom pouted at me.


    “I want things to be quiet,” I whispered to her.


    “But it’s Queen!... Fine…” She mumbled under her breath. “Anyways, you’re learning, or rather, relearning your kanji rather quickly.” She took the paper from my lap and made a frown. “Your handwriting still needs more work though.”


    “It’s not my fault that these hands are shaky..”


    “Your hands honey, your hands.”


    I looked at the hands in front of me. I ask them to stop shaking, they didn’t listen. I asked the fingers to move and they did move a bit but not much. The arms moved around in front of me but they didn’t feel like my own. It felt more like hands that so happened to be connected to a body that’s just so happened to be connected to a head which just so happened to be connected to my brain.


    It’s been a week now since my birthday. They started me on physiotherapy and it felt so odd and painful. I had to do small exercise everyday and the arms feel sore after each one. They had to move my legs for me, they said that the part of my spine just above the base had been split apart so I can’t use the legs anymore. They still exercise it so that it doesn’t develop anything bad, not sure how that works though.


    My mom gave me another paper. I took the pencil and started writing again. I had to spell it twice, once in kanji and again in English. 蒼崎 橙子, Aozaki Touko. You couldn’t tell because it was printed in plain text on this paragraph but on the paper I was writing on, it looked like someone was vaguely scribbling something on the wall with a crowbar.


    “Don’t worry honey. You’re just out of practice is all.”


    Well, it only was just one week since I woke up. I guess I just needed to give it time, maybe then these thin black hands that mom says are mine will actually write something that doesn’t resemble someone’s butt. I had to say, I was confused as to why my skin was dark while the rest of my family was white. I asked that question two or three days ago and they told me I was adopted.


    They couldn’t conceive a child a long time ago so they got me. The fact that they managed to have Aoko was a miracle and the doctor still wasn’t sure how they did it. He even ran DNA tests just to check if it was legit. It was. It felt like she was more legit than me, I felt irritated again.


    Dad was somewhere else, working at one of those fancy steakhouses as one of their chefs. Mom was off from work due to some sort of renovation happening. She worked at a tech firm where she helps maintain the servers. Aoko was at a daycare so mom could spend time with me, I felt good about that.


    “Mom, when am I going to get out of the hospital?”


    “The doctor said that you’ll be discharged on the first of June if you make your progress as steady and fruitful as it is now. Just be patient honey and you’ll be able to go home with us. We’re even preparing you a nice electric wheelchair for you to use.”


    “Okay mom. I can wait.”


    “Good girl. It’s so nice that you’re listening to me, you used to do your own back when-,” she stopped herself as a frown formed on her face. “Oh uh… Please excuse me deary I need to powder my nose,” she told me before leaving the room.


    The room was empty now. At least, I think it was.


    “Are you there?” I called out. No response.


    I haven’t seen it in a long time. It has chatted with me for an entire week now. I wonder where it went? I really wanted to ask it because I wanted to know why everyone kept avoiding a certain question of mine. Whenever I tried asking how I ended up here, they kept avoiding it, changing the subject or ignoring it altogether.


    I wonder why. I mean, I kinda want to know why I’m in a hospital bed while being comatosed/paraplegic and getting amnesia all on top of it all. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I lost large chunks of my memory but that kind of combination seemed kinda far fetched even to me.


    “Are you there?” I called out again. No response.


    -(O)-


    “Good morning Winnipeg! This is 144.43 Jam. Your daily source of the good old classics. Today’s June 1st, 2018. Buckle up folks, there’s a storm incoming. Remember to check your emergency generators just in case the power goes out. It’s gotta be -forty-three Celsius out there. Good luck folks. Now for something to calm the nerves, ladies and gentlemen, The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel-”


    I turned off the radio before I looked out the window. The snowfall was thick and I couldn’t see anything past the house across the street and even then the house itself was at risk of getting blurred from sight as the snow raged harder.


    I was in a room that hadn’t had a soul in it for a long time. I could tell the room was recently cleaned up, the mattress was new with a fresh cover and a nice thick blanket in the colour of periwinkle. The room had a strawberry smell to it, I guess to make it more welcoming. The walls had a white and blue striped wallpaper, they looked new as well. There was a machine in here, a hoyer lift to help me get on and off my bed. There was a desk with a bunch of books and sketchbooks that I assume were mine before whatever happened to me. I had a small bedside table with my birthday present on it. They gave me a 2DS XL for my birthday, they said I had a bunch of games waiting for me at home. I found them neatly organized on a repurposed bookshelf that had been well cared for.


    I was sitting in an electric wheelchair. The one they promised to get me. It was tilted slightly backwards since I don’t have any control over the legs, the body would just lean forward awkwardly. I had to learn how to use the toilet all over again, not that I even remember using the toilet before all this. The butt seemed to just poop all on its own. I’m actually wearing some adult diapers just to deal with it at the moment. It was annoying.


    “How’s your room honey?”


    I used a little joystick to turn around my chair. “It’s nice,” I said to her. “I have lots of games to play so I won’t be bored. Also,” I grabbed a piece of paper from a pile on my bed. “Look mom! My writing doesn’t look like someone tried to draw a zebra by holding their pencil with their butt!”


    “Seriously honey what’s with all these weird little metaphors (or was it similes) that you’ve been making recently? I mean, there was ‘taste like someone shoved a dead rat into the crevice of a bug infested air conditioner’ or ‘feels like someone rubbed my arm with a wooden board that had flaming nails haphazardly sticking out of it,’ just where does it all come from?” She shook her head before inspecting my handwriting. “Well it’s almost perfectly legible but some more practice wouldn’t hurt.”


    “I guess,” I threw the paper into the pile. “The metaphor thing? They just kinda come to me.”


    “You don’t say…” She paused for a while. “Well… The doctor says that we can now start introducing some solids into your diet, well, soft solids anyway. Hope you don’t mind mashed potatoes for dinner tonight.”


    “Mashed potatoes?... I don’t think that I would mind that too. Better than strained tomato juice at the very least.”


    “You never did quite like tomatoes honey,” she laughed. “Now I need to go downstairs to help your father budget our taxes and consolidate the budget spent on all those new additions to our home. Just remember, if you need anything just call us,” she said before leaving.


    Left all alone in my room, I started gazing out the window again. It decided to talk to me again. “So, what do you think of the snow? Hasn’t let up for almost an entire year now.”


    I looked at it. “Where were you?”


    “With you,” it said.


    “Why didn’t you responded before? I have been calling for you the entire last month, some of the nurses even asked why I called for them when I needed nothing. That sure was embarrassing.”


    “There was no need.”


    “You’re annoying,” I told it.


    “I know. I just don’t care,” it also looked out the window with me.


    We both kept silent for a while. The house across the street was gone now. Absorbed into the raging billow of the blizzard. I decided to break the silence. “Mom told me that there used to be spring.”


    “That is correct.” The snow seemed to enchroach on us. What little I could see of the driveway and mailbox was taken by the frost. If I was outside I could probably only see about 3 to 4 meters ahead of me.


    “What was spring like?”


    It paused for a while. "It was warm. I remember hotdogs fresh off the barbecue, ice cream that stood out in the heat, picnics and laughs. Family and friends gathering. Tree after tree after tree littered the city. Funny, Canada always had a lot of trees even in the urban areas. If there was a patch of green and there was enough space to plant a tree in it, then a tree was there. The only trees left here in this frozen land that still have leaves on them are the evergreens. The rest are all bare wood, asleep and waiting for the faithful day that the sun will bare its light on the world again. We did have have a wide variety of trees here.”


    “That was the most amount of words that I’ve heard from you.”


    “I did rant a bit, didn’t I?” It was gone again. It’ll probably be a long time before I see it again if my best guess is correct.


    I gazed out to the world outside. The window looked more like a television screen that had static on. That’s what it felt like at that moment, a newborn girl staring at useless static on a television. A hand was raised up to it, it didn’t quite reach. The body was tilted backwards in the wheelchair. A body that didn’t feel like mine.


    I decided that it wasn’t a good use of time, staring at frozen static. So I swiveled around my wheelchair when something caught the corner of my eye. The sudden stop made the body jerk around. Ii was nice that this strap was around the waist, it kept the body from falling out.


    I strained my neck around so I could take a look at the window again. I saw nothing. Nothing but the same useless static of ice that played across the window. “Huh… Could’ve sworn I saw a person outside…” I turned away from the window. Time to check out those sketchbooks over at the desk. I wondered if my spelling was better before.

    Last edited by Look to the Left; June 15th, 2018 at 08:32 PM.

  2. #2
    Chapter 2: Normal Problems



    “Good morning Winnipeg! This is 144.43 Jam. Your daily source of the good old classics. Today’s June 6th, 2018. You folks still doing okay? The storm let up a bit but it's still pretty chilly out there at about minus thirty one Celsius. As always dress warm and make sure your insulation is still intact. Now for today's song, we have Men At Work's Who Can it-"



    I was staring through a window, to the house at the other side. There were children playing, all dressed up in thick jackets. They were trying to make a snow castle and to be honest it looked poorly built. Even then, the kids looked so happy. It made me irritated. I liked the irritation, it was better than the bottomless emptiness that I was feeling ever since I came back home. The burning nothingness that was boredom. For the past few days it was the same routine, get out of bed, eat, take a bath and change from my dirty set of blue pajamas into a clean set of blue pajamas, rinse and repeat. I really wanted to beat this head against the glass but I had a feeling mother wouldn't take too kindly to that.


    A while ago I had looked through those old sketch books of mine. I had to say I was pretty good back then. It was all mostly landscape drawings but they were good landscape drawings with the occasional portraits. I tried to draw, but the pencil would just hover over the pages doing nothing. I stopped after two days.


    I left the window and wheeled over to my shelf full of games. I thought that playing my 2DS would help, instead it left me very frustrated. No, that isn't the right term. It was more that I was frozen. The hand would do it again, it would hover over to the shelf full of my games but then it would retract back to my body. I don't know, I feel this odd heaviness in my chest as I try to decide which games to play.


    This was the first time I had ever felt this overwhelmed after I woke up. I'll be frank, I was very annoyed by this.


    "How about I try this Animal Crossing game..." The hand reached out before it retracted, "no... Maybe I should try Fire Emblem... Wait, aren't there like, four of them here? Which one am I supposed to choose?"


    This kept up for a while, an hour really. I had woken up early, mother had went up to help me out of my bed. It was still weird being hoisted up by a machine but it was for the best. The doctor says it's very dangerous to pick me up by the arm strength alone as it could risk damaging me should I fall or the body gets held in a bad posture.


    After securing me in my wheelchair, she told me that she's going to convince her husband to help with cooking as she went down. After that I heard sounds of protests and pleading about not wanting to be poisoned. I should really ask about that later but right now my focus was on the games in front of me. "Why can't this be simple?"


    Maybe it's because I had no clue what any of these games are. Actually now that I thought about it, there's no reason for me to be so hesitant, I mean if I had no idea what any of these games are (minus the synopsis on the back) then why should I care about which one to try? It doesn't matter that I'm hearing a bunch of footsteps downstairs along with what sounded like three voices. It doesn't matter that I can hear the creaking of the stairs as feet rushed up to the second floor. What matters is that I just stick this hand out and grab a game to get this all over with.


    With grit and determination, the hand stretched out and snatched a game out just as the door to my room slammed open and a voice called out, "Touko! Guess who's here!"


    The game slipped out of the fingers as two large arms encircled me and held me in a death grip. I may have been exercising but I still woke out of a coma, these spindly arms can barely do anything to pry off the arms off the neck. "S-Stop... Need... AIR!"


    "I miss you so... Oh, like, I am so sorry." The arms retracted from the neck as a hand was held to it. I coughed out for a while as I tried to look around me. "Behind you."


    Straining the neck to look behind me, I saw a girl. She was about 164 cm tall, with long blond hair that was let loose, fair skin and moderate amount of make up with lips in light pink lipstick and mascara. She smiled at me with cheerful blue eyes and a sort of carefree air. She wore a light jacket and short pink skirt and a pair of knee high, pink leather snow boots with heels. I stared at her for a while. "Isn't it cold in that outfit?"


    She gave me a cheeky smile. "Cold? Why should I care about the cold when I'm this hot."


    I titled the head. It was odd since it was also trying to look backwards and that annoyed me so I tried to swivel my wheelchair around when I remembered that the game fell on the ground. It was just next to the front wheels, I tried to reach for it but it was too far away.


    "Let me help you with that." The girl behind me picked up the game as she examined it with one eye closed. "Say, didn't you hate this game?"


    "I did?"


    "Yeah, you always hated how linear Ocarina of Time was," she explained before handing me the game. "You were, like, on about how A Link to the Past was far the more superior game because it let you choose your own path at your own pace rather than force you down a path."


    "I said that? Sorry, I can't remember."


    She stared at me for a bit before something dawned on her. "Oh crap, I totally forgot that you lost all your memories."


    "That's fine. You just forgot for a moment, that's all," I responded. "Besides, I didn't lose all my memories, just memories of who I was."


    "Memories of who you were huh..." She walked over to me with a curious expression. "You know, you're awfully calm about this you know that?"


    Before I could answer, a cough came from the door. Standing there was a plain looking girl with long wavy brown hair and eyes of the same colour. She had a roundish cute face and she wore a long beige winter coat with black practical winter boots. "You know Annabelle, busting into people's rooms is a bit rude you know."


    "Oh come on Hakuno, I just wanted to meet my old friend again," she pouted.


    "Yes, because invading someone's private space is a sure sign of friendship and respect," she stated plainly.


    "Kill-joy," she scowled.


    I looked back and forth between them. "You two don't seem to like each other."


    "Nah," the blond one waved off. "We're both totally friends. It's just that she tends to have a stick up her ass," she beamed.


    "Trust me. We would be at each other's necks if we didn't know each other so well," the plain one stated.


    I looked back and forth between them. They seem friendly enough, though I'm not sure what to make of them. "So uh... You're Hakuno right?"


    "Kishinami Hakuno. I maintain a close relationship with your family and others."


    "No fair! I got here first! I should be the one to introduce my name!" The girl beside me pouted.


    Hukuno simply just sighed at her. "You had plenty of time."


    "No I didn't! You just barged right in as I was just having a pleasant conversation with Touko and... Hey? Why are you rolling away from me like that?"


    "Rolling?" I looked at my wheelchair a bit. I moved it backwards some meters away from her. "I think a better term would be wheeled."


    "Nah, it's totally rolling and... AH! That's not the point! Why are you getting away from me like that?"


    "Oh, it's that you feel a bit overbearing is all."


    "Overbearing?!" She looked very hurt.


    "What's so surprising about that?" Hakuno stated as she walked up to me, "it's only natural that she feels that way in the state she's in."


    "Come on, just give me some slack. I haven't talked to her for, like, a year now."


    "The same applies for myself as well Annabelle but the person we should be thinking about here is Touko," she looked towards me. "You want us to leave for a bit?"


    I thought to myself. "Nah, you guys did burst into my room but I'd like some people to talk to other than my parents and little sister."


    "Yay! I knew you'd understand!" The blond girl beamed out loud as she jumped forward and gripped me into another hug.


    "Ack!- Air! Need air!" A loud grumble came from the stomach as I felt vibrations ripple across it. "Oh- Some... Food would be...- AIR!"


    -(O)-
    We were all downstairs now. The blond girl, who told me her name was Annabelle Della, was drinking a mug of hot chocolate, same with Hakuno. I was eating a plate of mashed potatoes and a cup of strained mango juice. The mashed potatoes had a nice texture, all soft and smooth without any hard pieces in it with some freshly made gravy to spice up the taste.


    "Mashed potatoes?" Annabelle noted. "Is that all you're eating? Get some bacon or eggs, eating nothing but mashed potatoes is going to get old quick."


    "The doctor says that my body would go into shock if I ate any solid without slowly acclimating to it," I responded. "Though I would like to eat something like bacon. I'm already hating the taste of gelatin because of this diet."


    "Well that sucks, being forced to eat only one type of food," she grumbled in response.


    "Such procedures are needed when you wake up from a coma," the plain one said.


    "At least it tastes good," I said.


    "Glad you're enjoying it kid," father replied. He was currently washing the dishes as my mother was sitting in a chair grumbling to herself. "Oh don't mind her, she's just mad that she didn't get to help cook today."


    "I needed the practice okay?"


    "Yeah, but having our daughter as the test subject is paramount to shoving poison down someone's throat."


    "Hey! It's not that bad okay? I just... Lack practice is all."


    He looked at her incredulously. "Kirika, I've been trying to teach you for about 18 years and you've never improved your culinary skills in the slightest in that amount of time. It's safe to say that you should stay away from the stove."


    "Fine, fine... I won't 'poison' our daughter then... Oh? I think our baby's crying. Better go check up on Aoko."


    As she left the room, father turned his attention towards our group. "So girls, you need anything else before I go to pay some things over at the bank?"


    "Some more hot chocolate would be nice Mister Aozaki," Hakuno responded.


    "Sure, sure. One refill coming up, how about you Annabelle?"


    "Nah. Trying to watch my sugar intake."


    "Suit yourself," he shrugged. "It that all?"


    "Hmmm," the blond thought to herself for a while before speaking again. "When can Touko go out with us?"


    He froze before he could pick up the kettle. "Excuse me?"


    "Well... She's been cooped up in her little bed at the hospital for a year right? Sure she can't flex her legs anymore but I think she'd like to get out for a change."


    "I-I'm... I'm not sure if we can let her out now. She only just got out of the hospital just a few days ago."


    "Come on! She's a tougher girl than that. Sure she's uh... Well you know..." She looks at me.


    "Don't worry. No offense taken."


    "Hmmm..." She seemed to be taking note of something. "Anyways. I think getting a bit of fresh air would be great for her. Even a visit to Polo Park Mall would be nice, it's indoors so you wouldn't have to worry about snow getting in her wheelchair."


    "Well I don't think that-"


    "I would like to go outside for a change," I interrupted.


    "Wait, kid you're still recovering and-"


    "But I don't like being all cooped up," I told him. "I don't know why. The butt doesn't feel itchy, not that I could feel anything from it. I haven't felt any sensations from these legs since I woke up but after I just learned how to write in English and Japanese again and getting through all those procedures back at the hospital I found that I really wanted to get out for a change. I mean sure I got all those games and stuff to keep me preoccupied but I don't know any of them and well... I'm just bored I guess, bored and curious..."


    "You sure you-"


    "I want to go out," I said again.


    "Fine... I guess after you finish your breakfast you and your mother, sister and your friends can go out to Polo Park Mall on the wheelchair taxi while I go to the bank," he said reluctantly. "Oh, and I almost forgot. You gotta need to take a bath before we get going kid."


    I sniffed myself. "I don't smell that bad."


    "Just go take a bath kid."


    -(O)-

    I looked out the window as the taxi drove down the crowded street. The roads have been cleared up of most of the snow but you could barely see the asphalt through the ice and snow. Some of the cars that we've passed by even had chains attached to their wheels to keep traction. The snow pile that had been pushed off the road by snow plows were about 3 meters tall. We passed by abandoned houses and stores, I could tell because they were covered completely in snow and no one had bothered to shovel them. The sky was nothing but a complete canvas of clouds so thick that any light that got through was a dull mist that only made everything feel moody.


    I was currently wearing a blue jacket with black snow pants and a new pair of snow boots the same colour as the latter. My mother, sister and Annabelle were with me while Hakuno said that she'd be in her own car. Turns out she had her own maid, a girl with orange hair in a long blue winter coat that was waiting for her outside one of those old cars, all black with leather seats and blocky shape. The maid seems very affectionate.


    My electric wheelchair was locked down to the vehicle by a bunch of straps. At first I thought they would be weak but turns out they're stronger than they looked. That was helpful, this wheelchair was quite heavy after all. Though at the time that wasn't where my focus was. I was more focused on the figure that seemed to be keeping up with us from a distance, the figure hid behind the snow and jumped across the roof but for some reasoned no one seemed to have noticed it. I didn't bring it up but I kept my focus on it as well. Much like it, I wasn't quite sure if I could even tell anyone and have them believe me.


    Mother seemed to have noticed it as well however. She kept giving quick glances out the window with a worried expression as she tended to Aoko who was strapped to a child safety seat. Annabelle didn't seemed to noticed it at all, she just kept tapping her fingers on the armrest as she looked out the window. "Hey, Touko, how many snowman did you counted so far?"


    "Oh? Snowmen? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention. I think I counted two so far."


    "Yeah, that sounds about right. Most people don't go outside that often anymore because of, you know, the non-stop snow and stuff."


    "Oh I think it's because all you kids spend so much of your time on those little electronic gadgets of yours," mother responded, though she seems to be only keeping half her focus on the conversation.


    "Whatever," the blond grumbled.


    I was about to say something when I noticed that the taxi turned a corner and into a parkade that was adjacent to a two storey building. "Oh, is that Polo Park Mall?"


    "Yup. It's got everything, a food court, electronics, medicine, furniture and clothing shops up to your waist." Annabelle said delightfully.


    "That sounds nice."


    "Oh wait till you see the place. It's practically the best place to shop other than maybe the Forks."


    "Yes, the Forks do have some nice clothes..." Mother responded.


    Annabelle gave her an odd look. "Hey, Touko's mom. You feeling okay over there?"


    "Oh? Oh! Yes, I'm totally fine. Fine as the day when I was born!"


    "Okay... It's just that you seem worried about something."


    "Oh... Well, you see. This is Touko's first outing since she got out of the hospital. Of course I would get worried."


    "Nah. She'll be fine, you'll see," she beamed. "We'll go to all the shops! (At least the ones that matter.) We'll get you some new underwear, better pajamas then those same tacky blue ones you all have, get you a phone, eat out at the food-"


    "Can't eat solids, remember?"


    "Oh right..." She said as she scratched the back of her neck. "So feeling excited about hanging with your old friends again?"


    "Oh that? Well..." I thought to myself for a bit. "I'm sorry. To me this is the first time I've ever met you guys. I wanted to go on this trip because I wanted to get outside. Sorry if I... Hey, why're you smiling at me like that?"


    Annabelle had turned her head to me from her seat. She had a small smile on her face before talking to me. "You're a lot more polite this time, you know that?"


    "I am? I don't know, only you knew the me before me."


    "Eh, you were a lot more blunt before. Acutally you're still kinda blunt but in a innocent kind of way you know? Back then you told other your thoughts about them to their faces but that itch to get out? Still the same."


    "You mean I was easily bored?"


    "I meant that you liked to get out a lot," she explained. "Never liked indoor places, made you all anxious to move and stuff."


    "Well I guess it's good that I'm getting out of the house then."


    "You know, you should smile more."


    "Huh?"


    "You got that flat frown now," I felt the taxi stop as the driver went out and opened the back door. "Oh, looks like our little conversation has to continue another time. Time to unload you Touko!"


    "You're making it sound like I'm cargo," I noted. It took a while but we managed to get me off the taxi. Mother took off the baby seat with Aoko still in it from the taxi before paying the driver. He thanked us as he drove away.


    The cold air bit the bare skin. The arms wrapped around the body as I looked up to the massive building. "There seems to be quite a lot of people going in."


    "Actually there are less people going in than about a year ago," she explained. "When your four seasons get switched for non-stop snow that tends to ruin a lot of people's days."


    "You don't say..." I looked around. "By the way, where's Hakuno?"


    "Oh she said to meet her over at Starbucks. She said something about meeting someone before going with on our little reunion party," she patted on my shoulder. "Come on Touko, lets get in. This cold is freezing my legs off."


    "Hey! Wait for me honey!" Mother was about to come with us when someone stopped her. There was another woman, about her height and wearing a nun's outfit. Her hand was currently on her shoulders. "Oh... It's you..."


    "We need to talk Kirika." I couldn't see the other woman's face because it had a hood that obscured it but oddly enough her voice was quite similar to mother's. I don't know why, but that nun really made me cold, not literally cold but more like she was making me cold on the inside. Something was telling me to get away from her.


    "Okay then..." She looked towards us. "Go on without me honey! I'll catch up with you later! Oh, and find Hakuno quickly, I bet she's gonna get lonely quickly."


    "Lonely? Please, she has that over enthusiastic maid with her," she muttered under her breath before turning to me. "Come on Touko! Guess it's just the two of use for now! Time in head inside Touko! First off, to Starbucks! Hakuno got a lot of cash with her, she gonna pay for all the the clothes we're going to get you."


    "I don't know, my clothes seem fine to me."

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