The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/27!)

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 2/22!)

Postby Alpacalypse » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:16 pm

Hullo, hullo, hullo, what 'ave we 'ere? Good to see you again, Pun! :D

And no need to apologise for the late running - there have been much longer waits for lesser pieces of work than this one. Just glad that things have settled, and I'll be looking forward to what you've got for us.
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Act 3, Chapter 1 - The Morning After, Interrupted

Postby Puncyclopedia » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:13 pm

By the time my eyes open, I realize two things.

One, it’s morning - the light is coming in through the curtains. I usually don’t sleep well due to my heart medications, but I slept like a baby last night.

Two, I’m in a bed that’s not my own, and I’m not alone.

Memories come flooding back - a blonde haired girl in my embrace, a kiss, her body spooned against mine - and I realize where I am. Lilly Satou’s apartment. My mentor at Yamaku. My...girlfriend? I think?

It’s a pleasant thought. Equally pleasant is the position we find ourselves in - we must have shifted during the night because I remember her being spooned against my back. Now? It’s the opposite. She’s still asleep, best I can tell. I’ve woken up with a hand possessively holding one of her breasts, and her bottom snuggled tightly up against my crotch. It’s exceedingly comfortable - I could get used to this particular position.

The woman in my arms shifts - apparently, she’s waking up, too. As she does, I feel her snuggling in closer. “Good morning, Hisao,” I hear. Her face is buried in her pillow, so it’s muffled, but I can hear well enough to know now that she’s well and truly awake.

“Good morning, Lilly. Did you sleep well?”

It’s the most stereotypical question I could have asked. She doesn’t seem to mind, though. A cute little yawn escapes her as she works her way to wakefulness. It’s surprisingly comforting just listening to her breathing and heartbeat.

“Very well, thank you,” she replies, her voice still full of sleep. “Especially well with you curled up against me like this.”

She wriggles against me, and I suddenly remember that I’m not wearing any clothes. Lilly’s wriggling has woken me up, in more ways than one. She giggles - that sound is so full of promise that it makes me ache almost as much as what she’s doing right now.

“I take it,” Lilly teases, clasping one of her hands over the one of mine eagerly clutching her breast, “that you are interested in making what we discussed last night official?”

“Isn’t this coercion,” I ask. She hasn’t stopped grinding, and by now I’m arching against her and squeezing her breast lightly, testing the weight of it in my palm. “How am I supposed to make an unbiased decision with you doing this?”

“You aren’t,” she says, brightly, before turning around in my grasp. Now, those full breasts are pressed to my chest, and her arms wrap loosely around my neck. “Now, answer me.”
Who am I to deny such an impressive sales pitch?

“I would love to make things official. Lilly Satou, will you go out with me?”

She leaves me hanging for a moment. Only a moment though, and then I feel the feather-light press of her mouth on mine.

“Yes., Hisao. I.”

A kiss.

“Will.”

Another kiss, this one at the corner of my mouth. I jump a little in her arms; it kind of tickles.

“Go.”

She licks my bottom lip.

“Out.”

Now she bites it.

“With.”

Another peck.

“You.”

And with that, mercifully, she kisses me properly, long and slow and sweet. My tongue tangles with hers, and it feels like time’s starting to slow down. As if kissing me wasn’t enough, her hands move, too - one in my hair (which must be a horrible mess right now), and one crawling down my body in search of -- oh. Oh.

When she lets me up for air I gasp out her name, and she smiles. I can’t let her win so easily. I initiate the kiss again, carefully easing her down to the bed. She doesn’t protest, save for a soft little whimper as my lips claim hers. It’s a very, very satisfying sound. I’m making my own fair share of them, too, because her hand is still wrapped around my cock, soft and warm and stroking ever so gently even as our kiss grows more and more heated. The contrast is incredible.

This time, I break the kiss to find a gasping Lilly. Her head is turned to the side, and I take full advantage, moving in to kiss and nip at her neck. She gasps even more, and pulls me down flush on top of her. I would be upset that she stopped, but both of her legs wrap around my waist, and suddenly there’s something even more enticing pressed up against me.

I wonder if this is moving too fast. And then, I look down at the woman in my arms, beautiful, alluring, and whispering my name under her breath, and I decide that I can worry about such things later.

...

BEEEEEEEEP!
BEEEEEEEEEEP!
BEEEEEEEEEEEP!


We both jump at the same time - Lilly winces as her head hits the backboard of the bed. I groan, looking around in search of the offending noise that has ruined the moment.

I find it on the small table by Lilly’s bed in the form of a small alarm clock. It takes me a minute, but I’m able to reach it from atop Lilly and smash the snooze button.

“I’m sorry, Hisao.” Lilly’s voice sounds small, and she’s rubbing her head and wincing. “It must be nine. I usually set the alarm for nine so I can get up and get started on grading on Sundays…”

She pouts, and it’s truly heartbreaking. There’s a conflicted look in her eyes. Seeing her like this is unbelievable - her pale, bare skin is broken out with goosebumps, and her breathing is erratic. My entire body is screaming for more - I can’t even imagine what I must look like. I feel a bit guilty for being thankful that Lilly can’t see me, but her senses are much sharper than mine. She can probably tell what a wreck I am in any number of ways.

“We...should stop now,” she decides.“Today’s a busy day for us both, and if we start this…”

If we start this, papers won’t be graded and most of the day will be spent in bed. There’s no need for her to finish that sentence, and we both know it

“You’re right,” I sigh. “Even if I really wish you weren’t.”

“The feeling is mutual, believe me. I’m so sorry, Hisao.”

The fact that we both have our self-control is impressive to me - that was not a staple of my previous relationship. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m an adult now. That we’re both adults. It’s a sobering thought.

“Tomorrow night,” she says, a moment later. “I am coming over, after classes.”

Her tone is equal parts authoritative and lustful. There’s no mistaking that she expects something to happen tomorrow night. Most likely, what was about to happen if that damned alarm hadn’t gone off.
“Yes, ma’am,” I reply. What else am I going to say, other than ‘can time please fast-forward to tomorrow night?’ “But if we are going to stop, you should probably stop hugging me to you while we’re both naked, or I’m not going to be able to control myself.”

Her mouth forms a silent ‘o” as she somewhat sheepishly releases me from her grasp. I want to tell her a dozen things - that we have time to enjoy ourselves, at least a little. That we can be responsible later. Deep down, though, I know she’s right. Once won’t be enough. For either of us.

Slowly, I stand up, looking around the bedroom in search of my clothes. Moments later, Lilly too admits defeat, and begins looking through a dresser for something to wear. I rather enjoy watching her search as I pull my boxers on - very carefully. I decide to wait to put my pants on until I’ve calmed down a bit.

She decides on a long, thin t-shirt and a blue pair of pajama pants. She’s probably not planning on going anywhere today. Not that I blame her, of course. If I had my way, I probably wouldn’t be leaving either.

Lilly finds me just as I pull my shirt back on. She embraces me from behind, and all I really want to do is just relax into her embrace.

“I’ll make it up to you tomorrow night,” she says, her breathy, whispery voice right in my ear. I may never get to put my pants back on at this rate. “So make sure that you get all your grading done tonight.”

Never in my life have I ever been so excited to get to work on grading. “I will,” I promise her.

“Excellent. Until then, Hisao.”

She leans in for one more kiss, quick and soft and full of promise. “Goodbye, Lilly,” I say, scooping up my bag and carrying it with me to the door. The door is opened and I’m halfway out when I realize there’s a slight problem.

“Yes, Hisao?” I hear, as she hears me walking back towards her. “Is something the matter?”

“I should probably put my pants back on before I leave.”

The giggle fit that ensues makes me feel somewhat better about being an idiot.

* * * * *

By the time I finally make it out of Lilly’s apartment (I had also forgotten to put on shoes and socks, leading Lilly to wonder if I’d manage to get home without her help), I’m calmed down enough to be able to think about things that aren’t how incredibly beautiful my girlfriend looks nude.

I still can’t quite believe this entire turn of events even as I walk back towards my apartment. I’m dating again - no, more than that. I’m dating Lilly Satou, my coworker. My mentor.

And, a little voice in the back of my mind reminds me, Shizune Hakamichi’s cousin

That thought makes me wince. I don’t even want to imagine what would happen if Shizune found out about this, considering how strained her relationship with Lilly is. I can very clearly remember Shizune’s hands precisely and angrily signing the words “I’ll devour you!” at Lilly, and I can only imagine what she’d say to me if she knew I was dating one of her “favorite” people in the world.

It’s a good thing that I don’t intend on telling her. Besides, it’s really no business of Shizune’s who I date now. She doesn’t have a permanent hold on me just because we dated for four years.

The fact that I’m dwelling on this so much concerns me. The past is the past. I have a new girlfriend now. That’s what matters.

Sunday is, for teachers, a frantic day of catch-up and grading. That was why Lilly’s alarm had been set - and much as I didn’t want to think about it, I had a pile of papers to grade back home. Tomorrow night, she would spend the night at my place, which meant that in addition to work, I’d need to clean up the apartment.

I have a long day ahead of me, so I justify my decision to stop for a drink at the Shanghai as being “the calm before the storm.” As I step inside the building, I look around and smile. Time inside the Shanghai stands as still as ever. The waitress is different - it seems business is up enough at least that they’ve hired more staff, but not up so much that I’m not completely alone on a Sunday morning. I order my usual coffee and cake and relax back in my seat.

Before long, I’m jolted to awareness by the sound of the door. Two familiar figures enter - Shinichiro and Kaede, Student Council President and Class Representative. I note that Shinichiro is wheeling Kaede into the Shanghai - and moreover, that he bends down and kisses her softly on the mouth. Well, then. I file that away as a Piece of Information that Mutou-sensei Would Tell Me I Need To Know, before the waitress escorts them to a table right in front of my own.

“Hey, you two,” I say, waving. They both immediately realize who I am, and stiffen. “Want to sit with your bored teacher on a lazy Sunday afternoon? I’ll cover drinks and cake.”

There’s a brief huddle, and finally Kaede nods. They shuffle into the booth across from me, and I can’t resist the chance to press the offensive against Kaede. Is it immature? Yes, but she got me good last time and I must have my revenge.

Shizune would be proud.

“So, Kaede,” I begin, Cheshire cat grin spreading over my face, “is Shinichiro-kun your whipped male friend who carries all the heavy things and is smitten with you?”

The Student Council president looks as if he wants to disappear. The class representative, by contrast, simply smiles at me.

“Yes, actually. He knows the duties of his position, but don’t worry. There are some pretty nice benefits in it for him.”

Kaede is terrifying in many of the same ways as Shizune. I give Shinichiro a sympathetic look as he tries to retain some of his dignity.

“What she means to say is that we’re dating, Nakai-sensei.”

That much I’d figured out. I could be obtuse sometimes, but not THAT obtuse.

“You of all people should understand,” Kaede chimes in. “Long, hard hours spent alone with the Student Council President, sparks start to fly, romance blooms…”

I do understand.. Too well, actually. Given how much time I spent with Misha and Shizune, it felt inevitable that I would develop feelings for one, or both, of them. Shinichirou and Kaede seem inseparable even in class, and I can only imagine the amount of time they spend together considering how busy the Council is.

“It’s a good thing dorm security sucks,” she continues. “Means I can fall asleep with him every night.”

This all seems to be a game designed to make the more-proper Student Council president into a helpless, cherry-red tomato. He hisses and elbows Kaede in the ribs, the words “hesateacher!” coming out in a tumble.

“Don’t worry,” I say. “I’m not going to tell anyone. Lord knows that I wasn’t any better in my day.”

In truth, I’d been surprised at how sex-positive Yamaku was. The nurse’s office was full of materials on practicing safe sex, and I’d even heard he had a supply of condoms to give out to the students. I had been surprised by that, but the older I got, the more it made sense to me.

I was convinced the school turned a mostly blind eye to the machinations of its students, at least as it came to sneaking into dorms of the opposite sex. There was no other way to explain how often it happened, and how easy it was.

“See, Shinichirou,” Kaede says with an easy grin. “Teach understands how things work around here. Besides, if he said anything we could always talk about whose apartment we saw him leaving today, right?”

Shinichirou looks even more mortified now. It’s clear to me that I’m never going to be able to beat Kaede at anything. Some people are just beyond my scope; I spent four years of my life learning that very lesson.

“It’s not like we were spying on you or anything,” Shinichirou replies, as quickly as he can. “We just saw you leaving an apartment complex and Kaede went to go see who lived in it, so…”

“It’s alright,” I manage. “No need to apologize. I will thank you in advance for keeping things quiet, though. Workplace romance isn’t technically forbidden at Yamaku, but I imagine it would be rather frowned upon.”

“It’s the least we can do given that you’ve cut us slack on Council duties,” Kaede days, “and since you’re covering our drinks today. Besides, you have good taste - pretty much everyone interested in women at Yamaku thinks she’s super cute.”

She raises a hand to flag down the waitress, a welcome reprieve from an awkward conversation. It reminds me, though, that Lilly and I will have to be careful if we want to keep this under wraps.

Luckily for me, the waitress has my coffee. The Student Council orders tea, and the conversation soon turns to other things - class, the inner workings of the Student Council, favorite foods, and all manner of other things.

I’m glad that my students feel like they can talk to me about anything. Given how the conversation kicked off, though, I’m a little afraid that the definition of “anything” is too broad.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Dash9 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:51 pm

Well worth the wait.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Yukarin » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:12 pm

I had a grin from ear to ear the whole time I was reading that. Your Lilly is so lovable!

It has been so long. Welcome back. We've missed you.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Mirage_GSM » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:51 am

That much I’d figured out. I could be obtuse sometimes, but not THAT obtuse.

Again one sentence in past tense...

Not sure why Yamaku would frown upon "workplace romance" when they turn so many blind eyes to the students' relationships. By most standards the latter should be less socially acceptable...

Apart from that, very nice chapter. Good to see you back after your "break" :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby azumeow » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:30 am

Hot damn, I was beginning to worry that this had died.

What a wonderful way to end a birthday. Glad to be reading this again
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Lydon » Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:45 am

Not sure why Yamaku would frown upon "workplace romance" when they turn so many blind eyes to the students' relationships. By most standards the latter should be less socially acceptable...


My guess on the logic is, that at Yamaku you have a lot of depressed, crippled, and fatally ill teenagers that are basicly hidden from Japanese society. You are only going to realistically get so much control over them. The administration technically bans going into the opposite sex dorms and likely sexual relations too but mostly turns a blind eye because they realize its a battle they can't win for the most part.

Staff is a different matter, much much easier to control for the most part though Hisao and Lilly as alumni and well known. They might get away with a bit more as they would be put up as the "Poster children" of Yamaku's system working. Or they could get slammed extra hard for the same reason.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Mirage_GSM » Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:35 pm

Not sure if they would be easier to control, since they are adults and live off campus :-)

And my main question was "Why would they even try to?"
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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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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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Lydon » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:18 am

How? Adults can be fired, blacklisted, reputations shattered, making it harder to get a job everywhere else. Lots of things they can do to adults to make life suck more. Why? Same reason professional workplaces always frown on workplace romance. Because of the drama it can cause, that can and does interfere with the job they are supposed to be doing. Loss of objectivity can be a thing too.

Compare that to a kid that could never walk, can't see, can't hear, or might not see their 21st birthday among other stuff. You have kids if pushed too far that can and will say "Screw it. What do I got to lose?" It might not be true, but teens have never been the bastion of wisdom. So easier to just pick and choose your battles with the kids.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Mirage_GSM » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:55 pm

I have no idea where you live, but "professional workplaces" by no means "always frown upon" such a thing.
In my company they only care whether the relationship is between someone and their superiour - and when that happens one of them can simply change departments, and the problem is solved. I know several people who met their spouse at work, and at the school I went to there were not one but two married teacher couples - and that was more than 20 years ago.
In fact it would probably even be illegal in most European countries to discriminate against a couple as long as the relationship doesn't effect their work.
So maybe you can understand that just the concept that the emplyoer would try to have a say in the private life of their employees is utterly foreign to me.

Compare that to kids where the parents will have a strict word with the school if there are any "unplanned consequences" of illicit behaviour. :-)
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.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Puncyclopedia » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:41 pm

Time for the usual comment recap! Before we get into that though, some housekeeping.

The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice a Moments in Hindsight section in the Table of Contents (that and I've added an Act IV heading - Act IV will be the final act of TBoH). Moments in Hindsight is going to be for shorter stories that take place within the universe of this one. I have a few things in mind, but they're going to wait until after the main story is finished.

3-2 will be up tonight. 3-3 will be up by the end of the week - and it will include the story's first H-scene. Consider yourself warned - I like to think that, like KS, there's enough character development to make it worth reading even if you're not pruriently inclined, but should you desire to skip it, I'll provide some guidance for doing so.

Onwards!

Dash9 wrote:Well worth the wait.

Welcome back,
--Dash


azumeow wrote:Hot damn, I was beginning to worry that this had died.

What a wonderful way to end a birthday. Glad to be reading this again


Yukarin wrote:I had a grin from ear to ear the whole time I was reading that. Your Lilly is so lovable!

It has been so long. Welcome back. We've missed you.


Thank you, everyone. I'm glad to be back! I've got enough written ahead now that I'm confident I'll be getting through at least Act III before I start panicking again, but the goal is to (of course) finish without disappearing again. I have a few other stories outlined that I'd like to get to before I'm an even older man than I am now, so here's hoping!

Mirage_GSM wrote:
That much I’d figured out. I could be obtuse sometimes, but not THAT obtuse.

Again one sentence in past tense...

Not sure why Yamaku would frown upon "workplace romance" when they turn so many blind eyes to the students' relationships. By most standards the latter should be less socially acceptable...

Apart from that, very nice chapter. Good to see you back after your "break" :-)
Mirage_GSM wrote:
That much I’d figured out. I could be obtuse sometimes, but not THAT obtuse.

Again one sentence in past tense...

Not sure why Yamaku would frown upon "workplace romance" when they turn so many blind eyes to the students' relationships. By most standards the latter should be less socially acceptable...

Apart from that, very nice chapter. Good to see you back after your "break" :-)


Thank you, as always, for your sharp eyes. Past-tense is my normal writing style, but I chose present for this and I always screw up at least one thing. I'll do my best going forward.

My thoughts on the "workplace romance" thing, so as not to quote the next few posts and make this one too large:

The initial bit about the kids was meant to hang a lampshade on how easy it is for Hisao and co. to sneak around and basically do whatever they want in terms of amorous matters. Workplace romance is generally, I think, more frowned upon in the United States than it is in Europe, though there are exceptions. My perception is that having a married couple working in the same place is fine - it's when two people get together while working together that companies tend to have problems with it - because it creates drama if things go bad and bad morale and people taking sides and all of that.

Hisao/Lilly is more complicated still because she's technically his mentor - and is likely to write him a glowing review for entirely legitimate reasons that might be considered less legitimate if people knew they were dating. The plot thickens - I'll probably come up with a way to edit some of what I wrote in this chapter to be less problematic. I've generated a lot of debate for a largely throwaway bit, that'll teach me for the future. xD

3-2 tonight, and 3-3 end of the week, complete with your first H-scene (...yes, I'm enough of a dork that I decided to put the sex scene in the chapter number that's the same as Hisao's homeroom.)
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Mirage_GSM » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:24 pm

Hisao/Lilly is more complicated still because she's technically his mentor - and is likely to write him a glowing review for entirely legitimate reasons that might be considered less legitimate if people knew they were dating.

Okay, that might indeed be a problem - or at least an inconvenience.
I wasn't aware that Lilly was supposed to write Hisao a review. I thought being a mentor just entailed showing him the ropes a bit since it would be unusual to let someone as junior as Lilly judge the performance of someone who is basically her equal in seniority...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Sore wa himitsu desu.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/16!)

Postby Puncyclopedia » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:24 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Hisao/Lilly is more complicated still because she's technically his mentor - and is likely to write him a glowing review for entirely legitimate reasons that might be considered less legitimate if people knew they were dating.

Okay, that might indeed be a problem - or at least an inconvenience.
I wasn't aware that Lilly was supposed to write Hisao a review. I thought being a mentor just entailed showing him the ropes a bit since it would be unusual to let someone as junior as Lilly judge the performance of someone who is basically her equal in seniority...


I think of it more as a "how is Hisao adjusting to life at Yamaku?" rather than a "how is Hisao doing as a professional?" sort of review - important but probbbbably not determinative of whether or not he gets to stay. In any of the mentor/trainee relationships I've had in my life, the mentor's been expected to do something of that regard - though that may not, and likely isn't, universal.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.
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Act 3, Chapter 2 - Driven to Distraction

Postby Puncyclopedia » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:18 pm

Monday is crawling.

Lilly and I have different lunchtimes, so we don’t get to see each other during the day. It’s just as well - given how badly my hormones are running amok, the result might not be appropriate for school. It feels like I’ve devolved into a teenager - with all of the emotions that implies.

Keeping Lilly out of my mind during class was nigh-impossible. I’m pretty sure Kaede knew what I was thinking about, she spent half the class shaking her head at the mistakes I made. Everything after homeroom went better, but I still wasn’t at the top of my game by a longshot.

Lunch couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Food will help. Maybe. Hopefully.

The teacher’s lounge is largely empty - no, scratch that, it’s entirely empty. I sigh and relax back into a chair that can be called moderately comfortable at best, intent on enjoying last night’s reheated Chinese food leftovers.

I barely get a few bites into my lukewarm beef with broccoli when I hear something that makes me lose my appetite.

“I understand your bravery, comrade, but you really need to rethink these deep undercover missions. That woman has taken many of our best. Losing you would be a grave blow.”

I know that voice. It takes me a moment to figure out why he’s in the teacher’s lounge, but the giant trash barrel on wheels tells me all I need to know: shockingly, Kenji is here to do his job as janitor of Yamaku.

He actually seems to take it seriously, too, not waiting for me to respond as he empties the contents of one of the trash bins in the room into his giant barrel.

Kenji is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vast feminist conspiracy. I’ve never figured out how to reply to him, so why should this be any different?

“Deep undercover is my specialty,” I reply, for lack of anything better. I don’t often humor him, so why not?

He shudders. “You’re a brave man, Hisao,” he says. “Braver than I am. I’m glad I found you. I should tell you that I’m...moving on.”

Silence ensues. I’m too genuinely shocked to speak. Can I possibly be this fortunate? And if I can, why am I mildly sad about this news?

He jabs me in the side and whispers to me. “This is the part where you ask where I’m going.”

“Where are you going, Kenji?” I’m nothing if not good at following instructions.

“...far away.”

...of course. What else did I expect him to say, really?

“It’s for the best that I don’t tell you. My life is in danger already, I don’t want to endanger my closest comrade as well. I have been found out. I may never be able to return here.”

What this means, I have no idea. Was he fired? Did he quit out of a paranoid delusion that the vast feminist conspiracy was onto him? Like everything else about Kenji, it is a mystery, and would likely forever remain one.

That thought bothers me more than I wanted to admit. Kenji just...leaving is unsatisfying, but that's how things work, sometimes.

“Well,” I manage, “best of luck to you, wherever ‘far away’ is.” As exhausting as Kenji can be, part of me thinks I’ll miss these conversations. I won’t miss his access to information, though, or his attempts to get me to sit through puppet shows.

He takes a step closer to me, and before I know it, he’s giving me something resembling an embrace, patting my back three times strongly before backing off.

“You’re a good man, Hisao. When I get to safety, I’ll let the resistance know about all the good work you’re doing. Hopefully you won’t be captured by the time they come for you.”

Kenji surveys the teacher’s lounge one more time. He spots one small unemptied bin of trash in the corner.. He walks over, grabs it, and triumphantly empties it into his larger barrel.

“Mission complete,” he says. “Stay safe, Hisao. Do the best you can to protect Yamaku from the blonde broad’s machinations.”

And with that? He’s gone, out of the teacher’s lounge, and presumably soon out of Yamaku Academy and my life as well. I frown - I would ask how he knows about my relationship with Lilly, but it seems to be fairly obvious. Shinichiro and Kaede know - and even if they didn’t, the fact that walk home with her every day would be grist for rumor mills anywhere, let alone when you consider that we were once classmates.

With a sigh, I look down at my leftovers, and package them back up. I’m not particularly hungry anymore, and they should keep for another day. Tucking them back in the refrigerator, I gather my bag and step back out into the halls of Yamaku.

* * * * *

It’s a few minutes after the final bell, and I’ve made my way back to homeroom. Afternoon classes went better than morning classes, so my spirits are elevated as I sit down at my desk. The room isn’t as empty as usual - there are, in fact, two of my students sitting there, working away at something or other. Yuka, the kendo-ka, is in my old seat, alternating between glancing out the window and frantically scribbling away at a worksheet.

Megumi, she who is “very single” (or was - her social life is active enough that it’s hard for a teacher to keep up with), is also present, which is extremely rare. Between clubs and other activities, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in the room after class.

She looks up for a moment, and I see my chance.

[Everything okay,] I ask, fingers moving carefully as I figure out how to phrase this. [It’s not often I see you here after school.]

Megumi’s head cocks to one side, but her fingers move almost immediately. [Exams are coming up, Nakai-sensei,] she says. [As a teacher, you should know that. I keep busy, but I don’t neglect my studies. Unlike some members of the Student Council.]

Ouch. A moment later, she signs an apology.

[Please forget I said that last part. I spoke too freely.]

I nod. [Forgetting works for me. Anyway, I’m happy you’re taking my glass seriously. Your grades reflect it.]

I glance up and see Yuka still working. In some ways, I’m more curious about her. Megumi may not stay after to study much, but she asks questions about the things she gets wrong on quizzes and participates in class. Yuka’s grades are fairly average, and she’s pretty quiet.

[Mind if I go check up on Yuka quickly?] I ask Megumi, and she nods her head. [If you need anything, I’ll be here.]

[I will. Thank you, sensei!]

That frees me to go check up on the kendo-ka. She’s one of the non-hearing impaired members of the class - and given Megumi is deaf, I can have a conversation without worrying about prying ears.

“Good afternoon,” I say, standing against the wall. Yuka seems surprised to see me, and frantically covers up whatever she was working on. Her cheeks seem red, and I realize instantly that it’s highly unlikely she was doing schoolwork. “Sorry to bother you, I just wanted to ask you some questions about the class, if that’s okay?”

She looks almost like a scared, cornered rabbit, but she nods her head after looking around the classroom. I wonder WHY she’s so concerned - her grades aren’t great, but they’re not terrible either.

“How do you think I’m doing as a teacher so far?”

Yuka relaxes - her previously stiff-as-a-board posture now looks far more comfortable. I can only imagine she thought I was going to talk to her about grades; with that off the table, we might actually now have a conversation.

“Pretty good,” she says, after another moment of thought. “Science is hard for me, so I don’t know if I’m a really good judge, but you explain things really well and your grading is fair.”

I’ve asked a lot of the class similar questions - and I get similar answers. On one hand, I’m flattered. On the other hand, I’m worried that I’m not quite doing enough.

I am hopelessly biased in that regard, because it was Mutou-sensei’s class that inspired me to a path towards science, even if that path ended up being as a science teacher. Without my time in room 3-3 learning about science? I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I have a lot of bright students. Some of them are even eager to learn. Much to my dismay, though? Not a single one seems to particularly enjoy the subject I teach.

“Why do you find science hard,” I ask. “I’m not judging - it’s something that I like a lot and am pretty good at, so I need to understand other perspectives.”

“It’s like math and history combined,” she replies, almost immediately. “It involves math, and I don’t like math very much. Numbers scare me. It’s like history because you have to memorize things. Like laws, and all of that. Too complicated for me. I like hitting people with bamboo swords.”

She grins - it amazes me that such a tiny girl is so into kendo, and yet I can see all of the advantages (and disadvantages, to be fair) that her size likely grants her.

“I’m afraid I can’t do anything about those problems,” I say, apologetically. “There is a lot of math, and a lot of memorizing. I guess for me is that the formulas and everything make math mean something, if that makes any sense.”

Yuka nods her head. “It does! That’s why I hate math! Why does it matter if x equals three-hundred and seven? Two plus two equals four - four what? Four potatoes? Four classrooms?”

She bangs the stump of her left arm on the desk for emphasis. Apparently, I’ve gotten her all riled up without knowing it. I ponder briefly how well one can wield a shinai with only one hand, before remembering that there are any number of possible solutions. Yamaku Academy probably has the most ingenious group of people in the country, when I think of things that way.

“...at least in science, there’s a point to the stupid numbers!”

I have apparently zoned out long enough to miss most of Yuka’s rant, though I certainly catch the crescendo. Megumi is blissfully reading what looks like a history textbook, unbothered by Yuka’s rising voice and bang of the desk.

“It’s not everyone’s tea,” I agree, though it pains me a bit to do so. “All that I ask is that everyone gives their best effort. Even if you don’t like science, or think it’s hard, life unfortunately requires us to do things that we don’t like or that are hard a lot.”

Yuka nods her head, slowly and sheepishly.

“Yeaaaaaaah, Nakai-sensei,” she agrees. “I know. It’s no fun, but we have to keep soldiering on, right?”

“Right. I’m glad you understand, so keep on trying your best. I can help with any questions you have, okay?”

“Kay!”

I take that as my signal to go away, and so I return to my desk. No sooner have I sat down to start grading papers than Yuka pulls back out whatever she was working on and returns to it with renewed vigor. It’s not science, but hopefully, whatever it is that she’s this passionate about will provide her a path to follow in the years to come.

I say that as someone who followed his path perfectly in some respects, and utterly horribly in others.

* * *

Thirty minutes have elapsed, and I find myself alone in my classroom. Any minute now, Lilly should be ready for me to escort her back home.

Well, not exactly. Today I’ll be escorting her to my home. That thought is enough to quicken my heart and dry my throat. It has been a very, very long time since I’ve felt anything close to this. If I let myself think back on that, it’s been since my one year here as a student, dating a force of nature that went by the name of Shizune Hakamichi.

That was all-encompassing and all-consuming - but in a different way than this. Shizune demanded attention. Revelled in it, really. We went about Student Council business, but took whatever spare time existed to be with one another. When I followed her to university, she kept up a breakneck schedule, but no curfew and fewer formal responsibilities meant that we had more time for each other, and for what I was fervently hoping was going to happen when Lilly and I returned home.

This was a kinder, gentler form of all-consuming. Being away from Lilly hurt, but it was a sweet ache, a longing ache, and not pain that felt like it would tear apart my already wounded heart. I’d grown to love everything about her; the walks that we’d take, to and from school had rapidly become the highlight of my day before the idea of dating her ever jumped into my head.

Now that we were together, now that we’d kissed, even the sight of her in the hallways threatened to reduce me to a teenage boy again. In time, I’d gotten used to it with Shizune; I imagined I’d get used to it with Lilly, too, but I wondered sometimes.

It was miraculous enough that I’d spent years of my life with Shizune. For someone like Lilly Satou to decide that Hisao Nakai was worth dating, well, that was the sort of thing that made me feel fortunate in spite of everything that life conspired to snatch away from me.

Before I can think too much more on my past, there’s a knock at my door. It’s actually five knocks, one, then another two, quickly, then two more, with a significant pause between them. It’s our signal - that would be Lilly, at my door.

I almost jump up from the desk, clonking my knee on the frame. Wincing and rubbing it ruefully, I sling my bag over my shoulder and cross the room to open it and let her in.

“Good afternoon, Nakai-san,” she says, with a formal nod of her head. We’re still in school grounds, so we have to pretend that we’re just two teachers. Mentor and pupil. “I’ve gotten a taxicab for us, so we should be off.”

“A taxi,” I ask. “Why so?”

“It is raining out,” Lilly replies. “Or so I’m told - I haven’t left Yamaku at all today.”

“Neither have I,” I sigh. Sometimes I’ll take my lunch break outside - today was not one of those days. “Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I’ll split the cab with you.” I don't know how I didn't notice it when I was chatting with Yuka, but I was focused on that conversation and not what lay outside the window.

“No need,” she says, waving her hand as she takes hold of my collar with the other. “You’re providing lodging for the night. That is more than enough.”

Her cheeks are tinged ever so slightly pink as we walk out of the room. Is she thinking about the same sorts of things that I am? It’s possible - she seemed nearly as upset as I was at the prospect of not taking things further over the weekend.

That makes me feel better, at least. We make it out of Yamaku without incident, and to the front gate minutes later. As promised, there’s a cab waiting there for us. I silently thank Lilly for being on top of things; the rain is pouring down from the sky at an astonishing clip. I give the driver my address, and we’re off down the winding road to down, Lilly relaxed, half against her seat and half against me.

She feels warm. Nice. Soft. Entirely too comfortable.

We talk about nothing for five minutes or so - how our respective days went, minor annoyances, and general small talk. I tell her that Kenji seems to be leaving, and she seems surprised. To her way of thinking, Kenji really loved the place.

I can’t tell for sure if I agree with her, but there has to be at least some truth to it. I can’t imagine he only stayed here because of his ridiculous devotion to a ridiculous theory about a vast feminist conspiracy at Yamaku.

I can’t imagine it, and yet, when I think of Kenji…

No, Hisao. This is TOO much thinking of Kenji. Kenji is gone now. Focus on important things, like your pretty girlfriend.

It doesn’t take long to arrive outside the apartment. Having motorized transit helps with that. Lilly pays the driver, and before long, the situation hits me.

As we step out of the taxi, I feel nervous. More nervous than I probably should. The apartment is clean - it would have been anyway if I was bringing a woman home, but given Lilly’s blindness, it’s all the more important to make sure there’s nothing she could trip on. The place is cleaner than I’ve seen it since I moved in - which took the better part of Sunday after returning from the Shanghai to make happen.

“Is something the matter,” Lilly asks. Perceptive as usual.

“I’m just a little nervous, is all.” Better to be honest. Honesty is how we got to this state of our lives, after all. Sharing the stories that nearly broke us was, in no small part, proof that we trusted and cared about one another enough to do this.

“I don’t bite, Hisao,” an amused Lilly replies. I look over and see her grinning.

“I might not mind if you did,” comes out of my mouth before I can stop it. “But that’s not why I’m nervous. I just hope the place is okay. I worked pretty hard to clean it.”

“If you’re worried about my lack of sight, Hisao,” she explains, her tone even, “I will be fine. I do ask that you escort me around the apartment, and let me get my bearings. I imagine that I will be spending a good deal of time here in the future.”

That thought makes me smile even as rain pounds down on us. Lilly’s fingers find my collar, and we walk forward together, up stairs to the apartment building’s entrance.
Last edited by Puncyclopedia on Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 3/20!)

Postby emi » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:59 pm

Good update. I only recently started reading this and I really like it.
Emi > Misha > Miki > Suzu > Lilly > Hanako > Rika > Saki > Rin > Shizune
Art: http://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=10495
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