This story is now concluded. A huge thank you to everyone who supported me over the some ten months it took to finish it. What is this?
This is a pseudo-route for Suzu Suzuki, told from her perspective. It started out as a one-shot and then grew into something larger when I realized that I had a fair amount of ideas for exploration, and writing the first part turned out to be quite a lot of fun. Who is Suzu?
Suzu is a girl from Hisao's class, who appears briefly in Act 1 during the classroom CG. She suffers from narcolepsy, which is a chronic sleep disorder
. Her name and disability are derived from this image
There are probably some other things that should go here, but I can't think of them at the moment.
Now that that's out of the way.
Scissorlips' pseudo-pseudo Suzu route"Can you live your dreams?"
A thousand thanks to the amazing drawfriend Skrats for providing this cover image for me. Click for larger version. Act 1:
Who Loves Me? (This post)
-A new player arrives at Yamaku, interrupting a game already in progress.Act 2: Making Up A Changing MindPop Quiz
-The morning after the festival, inquiring minds want to know.Gazing At The Glare
-More festival aftermath, and some things are gotten straight.Maybe Tomorrow
-Suzu drags Hisao to lunch, and almost finds a stairway to heaven.Someday Is Everyday
-A morning chat with Mutou takes an unpleasant turn.I Can See It In Your Face
-Hisao begs Suzu to get into the literature club, and old wounds are treated.Dark As The Sky
-A phone call from home, and a talk with Hisao about the life of a narcoleptic. Look Both Ways
-Lunchroom strategizing, and a nervous Suzu fusses in front of the mirror before the track meet.Gold Coast Hustle
-Suzu and Hisao cheer Miki on at Yamaku's track meet, then head into town for a bite to eat.Fill Your Eyes
-Hisao shows off his tutoring skills, but his confessing needs some work.So Much In The Dark
-As one game begins, another draws to a close. Looking For Love (But Not So Sure)
-The best laid plans of arrhythmiacs and narcoleptics. Act 3: Passing By Behind Your EyesWe Must Go On
-Suzu and Miki are spies, caterpillars, and damage control experts.Finally Moving
-Suzu almost becomes a casualty in the war on feminism, then shares a heart to heart with Hisao. Easy Way Out
-Questions about the future force Suzu to fall in with the old crowd. Almost Familiar
-Top secret research leads to the regaining of lost ground.Future Blind
-In full retreat, Suzu finally reaches out. Down The Line
-Our heroes rally against the dark. And curfew. The Last Passenger
-Caught, released, and then making plans to be caught again. Understand Me Now
-The trip home. As the sun sets over the power lines, walls are coming down. Cold Feeling
-Returning to Yamaku, returning to exams, returning to older fears. If I Gave You My Love
-As pressures mount and stars begin to dim, the rules of the game grow unclear.Path A: I Know The Truth
-Placing all your ships together in one spot is a risky strategy.Path B: Stay
-You should record all the spots you missed and all the spots that were a direct hit.Act 4: Glowing In The Darkest NightStill Night
-Summer vacation has arrived.Summer's Thirst
-Duos return to being dynamic as Suzu and Miki are reunited.Try To Remember
-The boy is back in town, and the horizon is nothing but blue.Solamente
-Suzu's day at the beach continues, but more than castles will come crumbling down.Take The Sun Away
-Home is where the heart (of the problem) is.Shining Bright, Despite The Plight
-There are some times when you can either laugh or cry.Summer's Gone
-Torn between past, present and future, Suzu and Hisao finally return to Yamaku.Short Cut / Detour
-Suzu searches for solid ground, but finds a crossroads instead. Path B: City of One
-Suzu takes a stand. Drift Away
-A showdown in the student council room could lead to a Pyrrhic victory.Fly Away (Another Day)
-Don't panic. It's just a game.Path C: Ask Your Friends
-Suzu takes a leap of faith.Aiming At Your Head
-Sometimes, the best offense is just a good offense.Out Of Time
-Mix up your fleet positioning. Don't guess. Be sure.A Million Tomorrows
-Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.Thanks And Acknowledgements Miscellaneous stories:Time
-During their second year at Yamaku, Suzu goes for an impromptu moonlight stroll. Miki gives chase.Chocolate
-Suzu and Miki endure White Day.Broken Bones
-A day in the life of [REDACTED]Losing Keys
-Second year Suzu and Miki find a common ground.Closing Time
-There is no free dessert.Paradise
-It's her party, and she'll cry if she wants to.Miscellaneous artwork:
- Good morning
- Submarine down
- Leaked scenes (not really) (maybe) part 1
- Leaked scenes (not really) (maybe) part 2
- I hope he doesn't
- Suzu it's four o'clock in the morning why on earth are you reading Shakespeare
- Movie poster
- Suzu of Vinheim
(and Gaping Dragon Plushie
: Kiss him, gaylord!
: Suzu 1
By d3v14nt13: A Private MomentOther Links:Thighs' tumblrSkrats' deviantartDoomish's pastebinMeadows' Miki routeWho Loves Me?
“E7.” He states nonchalantly, watching my face for any signs of reaction.
“Miss.” I reply halfheartedly, unable to keep the bitterness out of my voice despite the fact that my cruiser is safe and sound, tucked in a corner of the map. He shrugs, staring at me expectantly.
“Well? It's your turn.”
My gaze drifts from the plastic pieces of the game in front of me to the man at the other end of the wooden table.
I don't want to play. Today, he's wearing the face of one of the servers from the cafeteria, but I know who he really is. And I'm not scared of him anymore. I'm pretty sure I'm not, anyway.
“Come on, Suki. Or are you giving up?” He teases me with a smile, but my hands ball into fists at my sides.
“That's not my name.” I hate it when he calls me that. No one calls me that.
“I'm not allowed to be a little friendly?” His smile never wavers. “But we've known eachother for a year.”
He glances down at his side of the game with mild surprise.
“Well, what do you know.” He chuckles. I cross my arms. I wasn't trying to pull any mind games, but I'd rather play the damn game than continue that conversation.
As he pulls out a red pin to mark one of his pieces as hit, I glance to my left and right, and see only an immense darkness. I've thought about leaving this tiny little wooden table, leaving this stupid board game and my opponent behind, and venturing out into the vast black. But even after all this time, I haven't had the courage to try. I might be miserable here, but out there is unknown, and it's terrifying. I don't even know if I would be able to walk on it, I could end up falling for--
“Good morning everyone, sorry I'm late again.”
The sensation of the desk under my arms comes rushing to me, and I slowly open my eyes. The usual buzz of conversation dies around me as I lift my head to watch our teacher walking into the classroom. In behind him walks a new face I haven't seen before. Messy brown hair, dark eyes, average build. Kind of cute. Fatigue continues to stab at me and my head begins to sink back towards my desk, but I make an effort to keep watching him. He looks around the room with barely disguised unease, obviously aware of the seventeen pairs of eyes that follow his every move.
The teacher begins to ramble some introductions, but all I really hear is “Hisao Nakai”. It's a nice enough name. The boy stands there awkwardly in silence as the speech goes on, stealing quick glances at different students, his expression varying from surprise quickly followed by guilt to confusion.
He doesn't look at me. I decide that I don't really care. In fact, I might even be lucky that I don't have anything obviously wrong with me that attracts attention.
“...please welcome our newest classmate.” The teacher finishes his speech, and everyone begins to clap. Screw it. I place my face on my desk, bring my hands over my head, and clap along with them. After everyone's done, silence falls, and I feel my senses begin to dull. Maybe I'll go somewhere else this time. Maybe I won't go back to that room. It does happen, I would probably go crazy if I was stuck there every time.
But it ends up being a moot point, I feel my desk jostle beneath me, the result of a practiced kick. I pull my head up again, blink several times, and then glance to my right. My friend Miki winks at me, then motions with her head to the front of the class, where the new kid is writing his name on the blackboard and trying not to freak out. I can't help but grin a little. Was I that nervous on my first day? I dunno. I can't really blame him, starting in the beginning of the school year like normal is completely different from transferring in. But still. It's not like anyone here is going to bite.
Or will they? I glance at Miki with a raised eyebrow. Her response is a noncommittal shrug, and I give a tiny nod. It's too early to say, of course. And besides, we only have one seat open in the class right now, so we both know where he'll end up. The girl in the row behind me with the pink hair, Misha, doesn't need another excuse to be loud. But it does make it harder to fall asleep in class sometimes. Sometimes. And that's a good thing, sometimes.
Our teacher starts saying something about everyone getting along with the new student, and we're clapping again. My arms protest as I clap along, but I know we've got to be almost done with introductions by now. And I'm not wrong. After talking to the teacher for a few more seconds, he begins to walk towards the row behind me. As he passes my seat, he glances down at me, and our eyes meet. I don't even have time to smile before he's gone and talking to the two girls behind me.
I sit there for a moment, trying to think how I should react, or if I should react at all. Did I mess up? Should I have tried to say something? Would it have been awkward if I had? But Miki is pulling her desk next to mine, and apart from the occasional outburst of laughter behind us as we begin chipping at group assignments, the new kid is driven from my mind. The rest of the day goes by fairly quickly, and I manage to stay awake. Not too bad at all.
The next few days pass by at a blaze, or a crawl, or like watching paint dry, it's all the same. The new kid is firmly in the clutches of the student council for the moment, I still haven't had a chance to talk to him. I still don't know if I really want to. I mean, he seems nice enough. It's just hard when everyone seems to have settled into routines and rhythms by this point in the school year.
I realize that I know everyone in my class pretty well by now. I may not know much about them, but I know who they are. I know what they're like. But this guy, Hisao, he's an unknown, and I can't decide if that's a good thing or not. I mean, it probably is, but--
The lunch bell rings and we begin filing out of the classroom. I'm walking down the stairs next to Miki with Lezard trailing us, talking about some event coming up for the literature club. And then the next thing I know, I'm back here.
“D6.” He says. He's smiling again, but that comes with the territory now.
He's back to the way he usually looks.
I want to scream. I want to shout, because this is the last place I want to be. Stairs, damn it, stairs! Why does my classroom have to be on the third floor? I glance at the figure at the other end of the table, with his stupid getup and dark, empty eyes.
Are they trying to kill me?
“It's your turn, Suki.” He whispers.
Skeletons shouldn't talk.
And they shouldn't call people cutesy nicknames.
I want to grab the game and throw it, I want to overturn the table and kick it away into the consuming darkness. But the eyes, or lack thereof that stare at me from underneath that black hood freeze me to my seat.
“Play the game, Suzu.” Death says.
I'm a prisoner in my own mind. I know that I'm not really here, I'm probably at the bottom of the staircase with a couple bruises if I'm lucky, but I can't do a thing about it right now. Except keep playing this stupid game.
This is a joke. I'm not some emotional teenager, obsessed with death, who wears black all the time and cries because nobody understands me. I'm a normal person. I like books, I like hanging out with friends, I like going to the beach and watching TV and things like that.
I'm a normal person, who loses consciousness at random intervals, and plays battleship with the grim reaper.
He scratches at his head with a bony hand.
“That's a hit. You're pretty good at this game, Suki.”
I ignore the compliment as he fishes out a red tab for the ship that I just exposed.
How long have we been playing this game? There's always only a handful of tabs laid out on my side of the board, every time, I think. I can't remember exactly. But it's always been like this, in the middle. I don't remember setting up pieces. And I don't remember ever...
“What happens if I lose?”
Death looks at me. I didn't think empty eye sockets could stare that hard.
“Do you want to find out?”
It might just be me, but it feels like the air just got a lot more cold.
“I don't think--”
I tear my gaze away from the skeletal figure in black to look at my screen.
It's a hit.
“J-J9.” I stammer.
Another hit, this time on a different ship. My throat begins to go dry.
“What happens? J8.”
“You sunk my patrol boat.” Death shrugs off the small defeat, leaning forward, his bony face a constant grin.
Again, another hit. I watch as every one of my ships slowly begins to be overtaken with small red pips, each one step from oblivion, teetering on the edge. Panic begins to claw at my chest.
“What happens?” I almost scream. My voice echoes into the vast darkness all around us.
“Whoa, Suzu, what are you talking about?” My eyes fly open. Miki is staring at me, a look of surprise mixed with concern on her face. I glance around slowly, feeling the world come back on all sides. The light on my face, the gentle roar of conversations, the afternoon heat.
“What happens is that you pass out on the stairs, get carried to the cafeteria by some good friends, and then wake up all shouting and almost give them a heart attack.” Miki grins teasingly, and I feel myself relax. I don't hurt anywhere, I don't think I even got a scrape.
I guess they're getting pretty used to this. I'm lucky to have my friends.
“Sorry, I was just having this... you got me bread?” I look down at the table in front of me, where a small wrapper and a carton of milk sit waiting.
“Can't have you starving on me, now can I?” Miki punches me in the shoulder with her good hand, and I can't help but laugh.
My body still feels heavy. Any moment now I'm expecting to be facedown on the table and back in that room that isn't a room, with him staring at me and saying “Welcome back, Suki”, or “Thought you could get away, Suki?”. The thought sours the taste of the bread in my mouth, but it doesn't happen, and the rest of the day passes by without incident.
The next day sleep claims me again, somewhere on the way to class. Thankfully I manage not to dream, and I wake up in the infirmary. The sterile smell and boring walls are all too familiar to me by now. Someone must have dropped me off here and then had to go to class. Probably Miki. I hate it, but I try not to go too many places by myself these days. You never know what some weirdo with an agenda would do if they stumbled over a sleeping girl.
“Just try to breath normally for me.” A voice comes from the other side of the curtains separating my bed from the rest of the infirmary. I recognize it as belonging to the head nurse here at Yamaku.
I wonder what's on the other side of the curtain? It could be anybody. It could be something horrible. But I don't want to spend any more time here than I have to, I've probably already missed too much class. Rolling off the bed, I dust myself off, and then walk over to the curtain, pulling it aside in one swift motion. The nurse is there, pressing his stethoscope to the bare chest of a male student. Both look up at me. The nurse gives his usual calm grin, but the boy looks more like a deer caught in headlights. I recognize him as Hisao, the new kid from my class.
We stand there for a few seconds, like a Mexican standoff, until the nurse finally breaks the silence.
“Hello Suzuki, are you awake now?”
I nod, but Hisao is looking me right in the eyes, and I can't bring myself to break the spell. I think this might be my chance. Did I mess up last time? Maybe it wasn't my fault. But it will be if I mess up this time.
Okay, say something, don't mess up. But now I'm thinking about how horrible it would be if I said something stupid, and with every second that passes, the situation gets more and more awkward.
The image of that hooded figure sitting across from me, grinning, appears in my mind.
“Your turn, Suki”, he would be saying.
Shut up. You don't get to call me that. Only one person ever called me that.
“You're Hisao Nakai, right?”
“Y-yeah, that's me.” He replies. The nurse starts grinning wildly and removes his stethoscope, maybe measuring his heartbeat just got a bit more difficult. Maybe. I smile.
“I'm Suzu Suzuki, we're in the same class.” He nods, but he's clearly uncomfortable having this conversation shirtless.
“This is the first time we've talked.” I try not to sound accusing, he doesn't owe me anything. But Hisao laughs apologetically, and starts putting his shirt back on after the nurse hands it to him.
“Yeah, sorry. I've been pretty busy getting used to everything here, and it's hard to escape from Shizune and Misha sometimes.”
“The trick is to close your eyes and plug your ears. And then run as fast as you can.” I start to walk towards the door, and to my surprise, he begins to follow, smiling.
“That seems like it could get pretty painful at times.” He glances back at the nurse, who gives him the goahead, and then follows me out the door into the hall.
“Well, you could say that I'm used to it.” I reach down and pat the brace on my left knee, roll my sore right shoulder, and crack my neck with a pop. That hurt, why would I do something like that? I start to feel frustrated, but Hisao almost looks impressed. I get the feeling that all this is a lot more new to him than it is to me.
“Do you have the hang of the grounds by now?” I ask as we begin to walk back to class. What I really want to know is why he's at the nurse's office instead of in class, but it's sort of taboo.
“I think so, it's not really all that complicated after a while.”
“Well, that's good. I'm not the most reliable tour guide.” I wink, but I'm not sure if he gets it. I'm not sure if I want him to. Stupid joke, I guess. I suddenly feel very tired.
No, nope, no, not going to happen. Not here, not now. We pass the rest of the trip to class in relative silence, although I wish I could think of more to say, conversation would help me stay awake. I notice he has some trouble climbing the two flights of stairs up to our classroom, and it makes me smile bitterly. I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't do well with stairs.
Well, that and the students in wheelchairs. It would probably be nice falling asleep all the time in a wheelchair.
Unless you were on a hill. How horrifying.
When we finally make it to the door of class 3-3, we stop.
“I'm sure we haven't missed much.” I can hear the teacher rambling from the other side of the door.
“Yeah.” Hisao reaches to open the door, but stops, and looks at me. He pauses for a long moment, as if coming to decision.
Your move, I can't help but think.
“I'm glad I got to actually meet you.” He says at last. I can't help smiling.
“Yeah, same here. There's more to the class than the student council and the shy delinquent, you know.” I can't resist making the jab. Hisao half-grimaces uncomfortably, and then opens the door.
I end up seeing Hisao more often over the next few days. His reasons for being here might not be as obvious as some of us, but anyone can see that he's still coming to grips with it. I manage to pull him to the cafeteria with me and Miki a few times, and he always looks relieved to have someone to talk to. Not that I dislike Shizune and Misha, but I'm sure that their company can grow exhausting very quickly. And I already get exhausted quickly.
But I should have known things would get worse as a result.
“How are you today, Suzu?” Hisao asks with a smile.
“Shut up.” My glare could probably curdle milk, if I had any milk. But all I've got is this table, and this damn board game.
“Now now, there's no need for that. I'm just asking a friendly question.”
The last thing I want is to be here again. I wish I was still--I can't remember what I was just doing. Damn it. But now I'm here. I glance at my side of the game with a mix of resignation and disgust. The pieces are in some random assortment, in different places and various states of damage.
Last time, he was more honest. The time before that, I think he was just messing with me. I don't care about the server in the cafeteria in any way shape or form. But now he's just taunting me.
“Why are you wearing his face?”
“Do I need a reason?”
“Miss. And yes.”
The figure in front of me takes on a thoughtful expression, and it makes me sick. It's just death again, wearing the face of someone I know. It's happened before, and some were worse than others. I hate it almost as much as I hate being forced into this tiny little space within my brain all the time.
“How much longer are we going to play this game, Suki?” He asks after a while. I don't bother to give him a response. He knows I wouldn't be here if I had a choice.
“I mean, think about it.” He smiles a smile that would probably be warm if it actually belonged to the person he looked like.
“Sooner or later, you're going to be someplace high and decide to take a nap, or you'll be taking a bath, or on the stairs and you won't have dear Miki to catch you.”
I fix my gaze on the pieces in front of me.
“Heck, it might not even take something like that. Maybe you'll just hit your head on something hard. No reason at all, just a stroke of bad luck and that's it. You're gone.”
I can feel his eyes boring into me, but I ignore it, focusing all my attention on the game.
“After all, isn't that what happened to good old--”
“What happens if I win?” He doesn't look like Hisao anymore. I almost wish he still did. My voice is shaking, but I get the words out.
“I said, what happens if I win?”
The idea seems to have never occurred to him. He appears to think it over, looking at me, then the pieces laid out before him, then back to me. I can't meet the gaze of the boy in front of me, even though I know it isn't him. Even though I know he's gone.
“Well Suki, do you want to find out?”
I wake up before I can answer, my head resting on something bony. I open my eyes to find myself in the cafeteria again, slumped onto Hisao's shoulder.
I feel my cheeks start to go red, and from the other side of the table, Miki winks. Hisao doesn't seem to have noticed yet though, and is still trying to eat his lunch as gently as possible without waking me. I don't particularly feel like changing this, he's actually kind of comfortable, who knew. But eventually he turns to steal a glance at me, and my time is up. He stares with a mix of surprise and embarrassment, as if I'd caught him trying to steal from a cookie jar.
“Hi.” I say, straightening up and stretching.
“Welcome back to the land of the living.” Miki winks in the direction of a particularly flattened bag of rice cakes.
“Oh. A casualty.” I stare at what remains of my lunch, then turn to look at Hisao. If that was where I passed out, then...
“Sorry.” He looks like a man facing the firing squad. “I couldn't really leave you like that. And it was Miki's idea, anyway.” Miki puts on her best innocent face, but her grin gives her away.
“We all need a shoulder to snooze on sometimes, right Suzu?” She laughs. I roll my eyes, and begin trying to salvage my rice cakes. But the memory of my dream lingers. And I'm tired of playing battleship.
I manage to have normal dreams for a while, and the day of the festival is upon me before I know it, the entire school is flooded with people. Most of my friends are spending the day either wandering around seeing the festivities or catching up with their families, showing off their dorm rooms, things like that. My own parents are pretty busy with the family business, but they promised they would make it in time for the fireworks. With my luck, I'm sure I'd be able to take a nap and they'll be here in the blink of an eye, but I don't want to miss out on the all the stalls and festival food. This is my last year at Yamaku, after all.
I squirm through the crowds inside the dormitories and make my way into the courtyard, and then I spot him. Hisao is walking towards the main building, a fairly miserable look on his face. But he stops when he notices me, and I stare back, smiling even though the energy of the crowd is already starting to sap my own.
“Hey.” I call, the continuous flow of people like a river between us. He makes his way over.
“Enjoying the festival?” I ask, and he shrugs.
“Well, I had some pretty bad noodles. Can't say I'm that impressed so far.” He seems to be only half joking.
“Oh man, was it the yellow stall with little pictures of the menu items with eyes and happy mouths drawn all over them? Their food is always bad.”
He thinks for a second, and then frowns. “Yeah, I guess it was.”
“This is why you need a guide. Although you might deserve it for eating something that looks so happy to be eaten.”
He squirms a little. It's kind of cute.
“Unless you've already got one?” I ask.
He shakes his head. “Well, I didn't have anyone lining up for the job, so I kind of made plans with a friend of mine to hang out on the roof.”
“Oh.” I wish it didn't, but seeing him reminds me of my last dream of that room, and the words that were spoken there.
It's true. There are a lot of things that could go wrong at almost any time. Even now, it's dangerous to be standing on concrete. At almost any second, I could be out, and anything could happen.
But that's the chance I have to take if I want to do anything. And I'm not deep sea diving. I'm not feeling my way through the dark. I'm just asking a boy to go to a festival with me. It can't be that hard.
I've been through worse.
It's my turn. What happens if I win?
Time to find out.
“Well, it would be a shame to miss all the food that's actually good. And they have stuffed animals to win, and tons of other games...” I try to fight a yawn that suddenly comes on with the force of a freight train, but fail miserably.
“They don't have battleship, though.” I mumble, recovering.
“What?” Hisao asks, trying everything in his power to avoid yawning in involuntary response.
“Never mind. My point is, if you still want a guide, I'll try not to fall asleep on the job, but no promises.” I say with something between a smile and a smirk. He seems to think it over a for a few seconds, but apparently he wasn't very interested in a rooftop adventure, because he turns to glance around at the festivities, and then looks back at me.
“Where to first, then?”
Artwork by Thighs
: The game
- Tour guide
Artwork by Doomish
: That's not my nameNext