inarticulate: Gakkou de Atta Kowai Hanashi (Apathy): Iwashita looking to the side. (馬鹿よね)
Lepidopteran ([personal profile] inarticulate) wrote in [community profile] tentacles2012-11-02 01:22 pm

[Gakkou de atta Kowai Hanashi] Knot Ropes to Make a Net

Title: Knot Ropes to Make a Net
Fandom: Gakkou de atta Kowai Hanashi
Characters/Pairing: Sakagami Shuuichi, Iwashita Akemi, OMC/OFC(?)
Rating: teen
Length: ~2500 words
Content notes: discussion of suicide and murder, horror themes, unhealthy relationships and interactions, that foggy land between gen and shippy.
Author notes: This is AU, in that in doesn't take place after any particular one of Iwashita's paths. In fact, I don't think it's possible in any version of canon, since it follows the assumption that there was never a seventh story.
Summary: Shuuichi runs into Iwashita again the morning after the storytelling. She seems a lot more interested in his company than a third-year would ordinarily be.

Alt link: At AO3

I arrived at school the next morning, as usual. My lack of sleep made everything seem hazy and unreal, but the jostling students brought me back to reality soon enough. I looked around and saw ghosts out of the corners of my eyes.

"Is something wrong, Sakagami-kun? You look upset." I looked up to see Iwashita-san smiling at me. I was reminded for a moment of a snake; I felt like I was a mouse looking straight into the jaws that would close around me.

I forced a laugh. "I-it's nothing, Iwashita-san. I was just up late last night writing that article."

Her smile widened. "Oh? Did you get nightmares, Sakagami-kun? I'm so sorry. You're very young, aren't you?"

I'm not a middle schooler! I didn't say that out loud; there didn't seem to be any point. Iwashita-san would probably laugh, anyway, and it wouldn't be polite. "Are you sure you should be talking to me? I mean," I added when her smile faded, "I'm just a first year student."

That didn't work. Her smile returned. "You're sweet, aren't you, Sakagami-kun?" I wasn't going to answer that. "Walk me to class."

The thought of going up and down pointless flights of stairs made me want to cry a little, but I couldn't very well refuse. So instead, I found myself trailing after Iwashita-san like a duckling. Didn't she have friends she could walk with, instead? Or one of her many admirers?

She stopped in front of her classroom and turned around. "How nice of you to accompany me, Sakagami-kun," she said. "Will you meet me here after school ends?"

"I have the newspaper--" I started.

"Really," she scoffed, flicking her long hair back over her shoulder. "It's so cute that you're worried. I've explained the situation to Hino--"

Had she always referred to him without an honorific? For some reason, it sent a chill up my spine.

"--and he understands that since you got your article written--"

How did he know that? How did she know that, for that matter?

"--you can take a break, just for today." She put her hand over her mouth and giggled. The sound did absolutely nothing to reassure me. "Just meet me here, okay? It's a promise. You wouldn't want to break your promises, Sakagami-kun."

I really didn't.

I waited until the majority of students had left either for clubs or for home before I returned to Iwashita-san's classroom, which proved to be a mistake. Her mouth curled down and her brow was pulled together. The look that she threw my way stopped me in my tracks because it looked like she wanted to kill me.

In an instant, it melted away. "There you are, Sakagami-kun," she purred, walking towards me with quick strides. "You shouldn't be so late next time. I was starting to worry."

Next time? I didn't question it. I was too busy trying to come up with something polite to say. "I'm sorry I was late," seemed safe enough.

She tipped her head back and laughed. The sound was delicate and deliberate. "Tell me, Sakagami-kun. Do you have a girlfriend?"

"No? No." I stared at the floor in front of my feet. It seemed safest. My heart rate felt too fast to be normal.

"You should never be late for a date, Sakagami-kun. A girl might start to think you don't love her. That would be awful, wouldn't it? You would never do that, right?"

I hadn't thought this was a date. Was it? No, she would have said something. "No, I wouldn't," I agreed, dry-mouthed.

"You wouldn't." She sounded satisfied, like there had never been any doubt in her mind. "Of course you wouldn't, because you're a good boy. You'd treat your girlfriend right. You would try hard." She paused. "Sakagami-kun, I'm going to show you something good."

I wished she would stop saying my name like that. It sounded like fingers brushing up my spine felt. "I have to get to the newspaper club…"

"I already told you I worked that out. Pay more attention when someone's speaking to you." She frowned at me, but it didn't hold the anger it had before, thank goodness. "I have something to show you that I think you'd be… interested in."

What did that even mean? "I really-- I should be going--"

"Really, you're so stubborn. It's for your article." Her upper lip slid up just enough for me to catch a flash of white teeth in her mouth. "I'm offering to help you."

"The article is finished. I don't really need any more help…" I stopped, my stomach twisting. Would she take offense to that? I didn't know. Iwashita-san wasn't an easy person to read.

She didn't. "Of course you need help," she said. "You finished the article, but you didn't write about the seventh wonder of the school."

I was pretty sure I didn't want to hear anything about the seventh wonder, after yesterday. "I don't really think--"

"Sakagami-kun," she said, her voice like ice. I froze. "Follow me."

She turned on her heel and strode the wrong way down the hallway. There wasn't really anything I could do but follow.

To my relief, we didn't end up in the basement or on the roof. Iwashita-san led me out of the building, the long way around, pausing every once in a while as we passed a club meeting or a student lingering in the hallway. I couldn't even imagine what she was up to. I'd heard a lot of rumors before meeting Iwashita-san; who hadn't? She was the most popular girl in school, despite the rumors about her last boyfriend's sudden disappearance and her icy exterior. I knew there were some boys in my class who tried to sneak peeks out the window during her gym period and sighed loudly to anyone who would listen about how beautiful she was and how lucky they would be if she acknowledged their existence.

I wasn't feeling very lucky, personally.

Iwashita-san paused to watch one of the sports teams do laps. I followed her gaze and recognized Shindou-san leading them. "Iwashita-san?" I ventured. Somehow, I didn't think Shindou-san was the seventh wonder.

Sure enough, she scoffed and led the way past the running boys towards the old building. It had been in the process of renovation for years, I'd heard, as the school tried to balance the budget. No students were allowed inside.

Iwashita-san, of course, breezed right in as though it were her home. I looked around to make sure nobody was watching before scurrying after her.

The inside of the building looked like it had been scraped out, leaving nothing but an outer shell. Iwashita-san stood in a doorway further down the hall, her shoes still on. She stared up at something in the next room.

I picked my way towards her, slowly, avoiding as much of the debris as I could. I followed her gaze again to see a series of large sturdy beams instead of a finished ceiling. A rope dangled from one of them, and a sick feeling rose in my throat. This was the seventh wonder, wasn't it? The rope wasn't fashioned to be a noose or anything, but why else would a rope be here?

"Have you ever wondered what it would be like to die, Sakagami-kun?" Iwashita-san asked. I looked over to find her gaze resting on me instead of the beams. I opened my mouth but no answer came. I shut my mouth instead. "It would be strange, wouldn't it? And painful. The only ways to die are painful. That's just how life is."

She tapped a finger against her lips. "This is called the hanging room. It's the seventh wonder of the school. Do you know how many students have died here? Oh," she added, almost as an afterthought, "and teachers, too."

I took a step back. "Iwashita-san, I'm not really sure we should be here."

She laughed and reached for my arm. Startled, I let her touch me. "I hear," she said, her voice sly, "it started with a girl."

"The girl was a second-year student. She wasn't in my class, of course, but I heard about it afterwards. Her name? Ufufu… Let's call her Youko. Youko was a very good student. She got top marks in her classes. She had friends and a boyfriend. Her boyfriend was very kind.

"What do you think a kind boyfriend does, Sakagami-kun?"

("I don't know.")

"You don't know? That's a bit of a cop-out. You should be more assertive, Sakagami-kun. I'm sure you know how to be a kind boyfriend. You're so sweet, after all.

"Youko's boyfriend was sweet as well, but he was manlier than you. He was assertive. He had asked Youko out the previous year. He took her on dates and bought her presents and was a wonderful boyfriend. She loved him, of course. How could she not? He was perfect.

"Everyone at school who saw them interact was jealous. They looked like they belonged together. Surely they would end up spending the rest of their lives together. Doesn't everybody want that sort of thing? Ufufu… Well, I'm not sure about that. Perfection doesn't really exist, after all. There were plenty of things that their classmates never saw. Youko kept up her grades, but she had to help her boyfriend, as well. He struggled through his classes, so Youko, because she loved him, did his homework for him sometimes.

"Oh, I'm sure it was just one time at first. Maybe he was sick, or tired, or something bad had happened. But by the end, he wasn't doing any of the work himself. Youko never told anyone, of course. Nobody found out.

"After all, wouldn't you do anything for the person you loved? It would be tempting for any boyfriend with a smart girlfriend. After all, you should get some extra benefits. What would you do, Sakagami-kun? If you were Youko's boyfriend."

("I wouldn't do that.")

"Ufufu… You're very idealistic, Sakagami-kun. Not many boys are like you. I'm sure there are more boys like Youko's boyfriend. Of course, you have to wonder… Did he really love her, or was she just convenient? It's hard to say. Maybe that was his goal all along. What do you think?"

("I think he really loved her.")

"How naïve… Well, it doesn't matter. Whatever the truth was, he'd stopped loving her by the end. Do you know what happened, Sakagami-kun? He must have stopped loving her, because he decided to date another girl at the same time. Isn't that terrible? Poor Youko didn't know what was going on; she didn't find out until someone else from their class saw Youko's boyfriend with that other girl in a park, kissing.

"It's a cliché by now, isn't it, Sakagami-kun? The scorned, used girlfriend. This happens all the time, doesn't it? Boys think they can have it all without any consequences. Without any consequences at all.

"But there are consequences. Youko confronted her boyfriend, of course. He didn't bother to explain himself. He just said that they were over and he had a new girlfriend now.

"What do you think, Sakagami-kun? What would you have done in Youko's place?"

("I would have been crushed.")

"How tedious. Of course you would have been crushed. Anyone would be. That doesn't tell me what you would have done. Please pay more attention to the question next time, Sakagami-kun.

"Where was I? Youko felt humiliated. I hear her life wasn't very good at home, either. It wouldn't have taken much to push her over the edge. She found this building with this beam and this rope, and she decided to end it.

"Do you think she succeeded, Sakagami-kun?"


"Ufufu… That would be a very short story, wouldn't it? She loved him, he betrayed her, and she died. No, Sakagami-kun, I'm afraid you're wrong. Youko didn't die. But someone did.

"It turns out that this rope is very special. Everyone who uses it succeeds… and if they don't, someone else dies in their place. Isn't that fascinating, Sakagami-kun? That's what the rumors say, anyway. They're probably not very trustworthy.

"But, Sakagami-kun, the thing is that Youko tried twice. She meant to kill herself the first time, of course. But the knot fell apart, and she thought she'd failed. It wasn't until the next day that she found out her boyfriend's new girlfriend had slipped and drowned in the river.

"It could have been a coincidence. Youko wasn't trying to kill anyone, after all. Right? Do you think that was a coincidence, Sakagami-kun?"

("It couldn't have been anything else.")

"That's what anyone would think. But Youko couldn't stop thinking about it. She ended up back here the next night. And she tried again.

"And what do you think happened? She failed again. And the next morning, she found out that her boyfriend had died the previous night. Right as Youko was failing to kill herself, her boyfriend was dying. Twice in a row is a bit too much of a coincidence, don't you think?

"Youko stopped trying, after that. Who would have died if she'd tried a third time, do you wonder? She was afraid of what she'd done. That's a bit silly, don't you think? Her boyfriend is the one who betrayed her. She should have been mad. She should have wanted to get even. And she did.

"But that doesn't really matter in the end. Rumors started to go around after that. People say if you try to kill yourself here, you'll end up killing the person causing your problems, instead. They'll go away, just like that. Except if you're trying to murder someone with this rope, it won't work. It won't break, and you'll die. And once you've heard that story, if you use this rope, how can you be trying to kill yourself for real? That's the real question.

"That's what they say, anyway. I wonder if anyone's really tried, after Youko."

I waited until she had stopped talking, her eyes fixed on me in a way that made my skin feel hot and prickly. What should I say to that? How should I feel about that? It was a ridiculous story, except for the way Iwashita-san's voice had slid over the words. She'd sounded sharp, in places, too.

She had to be making it up, there was no way something like that was real, but if it were… The only person who Youko could be was Iwashita-san. My throat felt too tight to talk. How much of that could have been real?

Iwashita-san laughed low in her throat. "Oh, don't take it so seriously, Sakagami-kun," she said, her voice light. "It's just a story, right? You'd have heard about it if students had died here… probably." The wind chose that moment to whistle through the window, and I jumped. "It's just a very silly story, that's all."

"Did he really die?" I blurted out before I could stop myself.

Iwashita-san's eyes widened. My heart jackhammered in my chest, but I couldn't stop back. I couldn't move. Iwashita-san smiled. I felt like I was frozen in place as she leaned forward, her hair brushing past my cheek. Too close. "Yes," she murmured in my ear. Her breath was warm against my skin, but I shivered.

Iwashita-san pulled back, and I managed to start breathing again. "Goodbye, Sakagami-kun," she purred. "I'll see you tomorrow."

She turned on her heel and left me there in the doorway to the room with the rope swaying gently in the breeze.