Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#55—'Clubbing') (S9)

Post by brythain » Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:44 am

ProfAllister wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:03 pm
A fic that only Brythain could write. Whenever I read one, I'm reminded that I need to eventually get around to reading *After the Dream* in its entirety.

As it is, it's Sci-Fi Christmas Katawas. What's not to like?
Thank you very much, ProfA! Dreaming that world entire is something I would very much like to do as well.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#56—'Comfort') (X)

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 04, 2019 4:01 am

This one's written as one of the random pairings (1 of 5) issued to me anonymously. It was fun. Not sorry.


Comfort

No, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry
I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

— G M Hopkins


*****

She had not been able to find her friend for quite a while. It perturbed her. The work had gone on and on, and at the end of the school year, with so much more to do, the lack of support had been at first irritating, then annoying, then worrisome. And now, she was, she had to admit, a little frightened. Something had happened.

Something had happened to her, to her friends, to the school itself. It was like a dull ache under her ribcage, where she thought she might still have a heart. It took her a while, as she paced the courtyard between the dormitories, to realize that there was a person slinking around in the silent spaces. Then, that person wasn’t slinking anymore. Whoever it was had decided to run straight at her with things swishing around in the air.

He’s shouting at me, was her first thought. It’s some idiot boy shouting at me. Last thing I need is for campus security to give me a citation just before graduation. She put her hands reflexively up in a warning to stay back, only to see her target come to a stop at the edge of the courtyard.

Sighing, she dug into her skirt pockets (she’d never understood why the other girls didn’t get extra pockets engineered into their uniforms—so useful!) and pulled out a pad of sticky notes and a mini-pencil. She waited for an opening and then lunged.

Momentarily stunned, the gesticulating figure stepped into the light and dumped two bags of what looked like small milk cartons on the ground. His mouth shut slowly as he stared at her through the thick lenses of his spectacles. The yellow sticky note looked incongruous dangling loosely from the end of his garish scarf.

Oh, it’s Kenji. How could I not have known? Shizune felt even more depressed, but she handed him the mini-pencil anyway.

He looked even more stunned, if that were possible. Then he took the pencil from her and began to write, in big, clear characters: [I SAID WHY ARE YOU MAKING EVIL SIGNS AT ME ALL THE TIME, CANT A MAN BUY MILK WITHOUT YOU FEMINIST NAZI BOSS SPYING ON HIM????]

There wasn’t much space left after all that, so she peeled off another sticky note and held out her hand for the pencil. To her surprise, he gave it back quite readily.

[Kenji, I’m not spying on you. I just want to know if you’ve seen Hisao Nakai recently. Or perhaps my friend Misha.]

He glanced down at what she’d written, still upside-down. Then, a rather peculiar thought seemed to have struck him, because his face changed completely.

She put the note into his hand. Her small, neat handwriting had not used up much of the space. He seized the pencil from her with his other hand. This time, the writing was a little smaller, but his scribbling was more intense.

[YOUVE LOST, HAVENT YOU? MY MAN HISAO HAS TAKEN OUT YOUR MAIN ASSET. I CAUGHT HER LEAVING HIS ROOM IN DISARRAY SOME NIGHTS AGO. I HAD TO SAY COMFORTING THINGS TO HIM BECAUSE HE WAS ALL BENT.]

Even if she had been able to say something, she’d have had nothing to say. What have I done to Misha? Did I accidentally break her? She’d never have… he’d never have… Her mind was like a cloud of butterflies rising towards the moon. She could not imagine where she’d learnt that metaphor, but it was apt.

It explained a lot. They were always somewhere else. And when she communicated with them, there was always this sense of a conversation never to be completed.

He was scrawling something on the reverse side.

[ARE YOU OK? YOU DONT HAVE TO SELF-DESTRUCT, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS RENOUNCE FEMINISM AND EVERYTHING WILL WORK FINE.]

She was crying. She’d dropped the notepad.

She hardly noticed when he tore a note off the fallen pad and began to write again.

[AH SHIT IM SORRY. EVEN IF YOU ARE A FEMINIST. BETRAYAL IS THE WORST.]

He was offering her a little pack of something. Milk—cold, creamy Hokkaido dairy. It was surreal. Coldly, beautifully so. A small white carton with blue print and a two little cartoon cows. Two tiny cows, minding their own business, waiting to be milked. A mountain in the background, big and white and serene. Her tears were mingling with the condensation on the carton.

She was holding it, and slowly, her strong, slim fingers were opening the top. It tasted good. She didn’t know why. She didn’t know why she was drinking it.

[SEE? MILK IS ALWAYS GOOD. MAKES THE STUDENT BODY STRONGER HAHA.]

He was using up her entire pad, one silly message at a time.

She didn’t mind. Carefully, she put the milk down and held out her hands.

[NO, IM NOT GOING TO HANDCUFF YOU.]

She grabbed the pencil and notepad from him before he could react.

[Thank you. For the milk, and the advice.]

*****

In February, the breeze on the dormitory roof was chilly. Her hoodie kept her warm enough. The view at night was beautiful, watching the distant lights of the city centre and its tentacles reaching into the surrounding area.

Suddenly, he was there. She stood up with a start, and spent a few seconds fumbling for the new notepad and pencil.

[How did you get up here, Kenji?]

[HAHA I CAN TELL YOU BUT YOUD HAVE TO KILL ME.]

Her confusion must have been obvious. Frowning, he looked at what he’d written and mouthed what looked like a sound of consternation. Frantic scribbling ensued.

[I MEAN, YOUD KILL ME.]

[WAIT HOW DID YOU KNOW I WAS BEHIND YOU?]

She grinned. He’d probably found the dangerous path along the back wall, where the gap between the dorms was smallest. She’d never thought anyone would risk it.

[That’s my secret. And nobody is killing anybody.]

[RIGHT, YOU FEMINIST SCUM.]

He grinned back. Clearly, he meant little of what he said.

[You know I’m not a feminist. Any more than you are Catholic mafia.]

[ITS YOUR COUSIN ISNT IT?]

[She’s in Scotland, Kenji.]

[HAVENT YOU READ THE DA VINCI CODE?]

She laughed. He’d made her read it. It sounded a bit like her cousin’s other family, but completely fantastical.

Sadness poked her in the ribs. At least she’d had family in Yamaku, even if she had never quite seen eye to eye with Cousin Lilly. And now she was gone, and things were going, and Misha had cut her hair short, and Hisao…

She was crying again.

A bottle appeared. [WHISKY?]

A carton appeared. [MILK?]

He kept writing.

[YOU CANT BE SAD ALL THE TIME. YOU GOTTA GO DO SOMETHING.]

[DONT THINK TOO HARD, A WOMAN HAS TO BE ALL ABOUT ACTION!]

The writing got smaller as he started to squeeze text into the margins. He was scribbling like a madman.

[YOU CAN THINK ALL DAY, BUT CHANGING THE SITUATION AROUND BY DOING SOMETHING IS BEST WAY. I DO LOTS OF THINGS WITHOUT THINKING. THATS WHY IN MIDDLE SCHOOL THEY CALLED ME <CAUSES-MANY-PROBLEMS>. I THOUGHT IT WAS COOL, SOUNDS LIKE TRIBAL NAME.]

She was laughing again. She didn’t know why, but it felt good. She reached for the whisky, and found herself wondering momentarily what would happen if she mixed the milk with the whisky. Mentally, she scolded herself for thinking such silly thoughts. Just act, Shizune, don’t think!

The whisky tasted interesting. It got up her nose and told her stories.

*****

Weeks had passed. The Student Council had come to the end of the term, an ending that couldn’t have come soon enough for all of them. The new Council were strange people, but they had their hearts in the right place, mostly.

Shizune was sitting on the roof of the girls’ dormitory. She’d found that it was indeed a peaceful place at night, free of annoying little females with dangerous bladed legs or weird ones with silly expressions.

She waited till the shadow shifted, then she turned around quickly, pivoting on the firm muscles of newly-toned rear. Her pre-written note simply said [HI THERE KENJI!] in very large capitals.

He looked shocked, then grinned and held out his own pre-written note: [IT CANT BE SOUND, IT MUST BE LIGHT.]

He flipped it around. [IRISH CREAM, NOT HOKKAIDO CREAM.]

He was carrying a bottle of something, and a pair of whisky tumblers. She grinned back and made space for him on the rooftop bench.

Time passed in perfect silence for a while. Nothing stirred. They drank, watched the sky, didn’t bother to exchange notes even though they’d both brought pads and pencils. The wind in late March was still cool, up here in Sendai, and she could almost see his alcoholic breath fume into the sky. Then she felt him stamp his foot once on the ground.

She dipped her finger into her tumbler. There was still some sticky residue of this strange non-whisky alcoholic drink. It had been pleasant, and she hadn’t left much in the glass. She drew a fragrant question mark on the table.

He lifted his hands, as if about to frame a view. Then, he signed: [Okay, no more crap. No more wasting paper. Let’s just do it this way.]

She punched him—a good, short, sharp thump to the chest, right where the trailing portion of his scarf dangled over his buttons.

[You could do this all along? You misled me!]

He had a smug expression on his face. [I can read sign. Of course. Otherwise female spy will use code you cannot crack and you might think they are casting magic spells on you.]

She could feel an angry blush coming on. She’d never liked being the target of humour.

[But I could only read it. Did not have persons to talk to with it. Now I can sign. For you.]

There was something touching about that. A sudden sense of giddiness, of loss and outrage, struck her deep within. Why now? We’re about to graduate, there aren’t many days left, and I have a new friend.

He was waiting for a reply. He looked anxious. His hands were frozen in mid-air, like two ungainly crabs.

She’d already seen his strangely tidy room, full of little boxes, files, charts and gadgets. Everything had its place, even though it almost crowded the living area out. She could live with that, perhaps. Heck, she’d even eaten pizza with him, an experience, given his choice of blueberry/yellowfin/salami, that should probably not be repeated much.

She noticed one of her hands was tapping on the table, uncertain about what to do next. The other one, having just delivered a punch, felt satisfied with not doing anything.

His breath was warm and gentle, despite his temporary paralysis. She reached up and pulled his hands down. Now neither of them could communicate. But, as they say, love always finds a way.

=====
alt index
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#56—'Comfort') (X)

Post by Scroff » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:54 pm

It always seemed to me that you have a special affection for Shizune and Kenji, I bet you didn't have to think twice about which pairing to choose.

I found this heart-warming but the thought of a Shizune-Kenji alliance running amok after graduation is more than a little scary...

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#56—'Comfort') (X)

Post by brythain » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:55 am

Scroff wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:54 pm
It always seemed to me that you have a special affection for Shizune and Kenji, I bet you didn't have to think twice about which pairing to choose.

I found this heart-warming but the thought of a Shizune-Kenji alliance running amok after graduation is more than a little scary...
I have some degree of affection for both characters, true. However, I do have history with Kenji x (others), in his autobiography and elsewhere in this thread. Even Kenji x Misha! :)

As for that Shizune-Kenji alliance running amok, it's hidden there in 'After The Dream', although it's not really Shizune x Kenji.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Post by brythain » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:03 am

Some things never change. Even in 2007, Hisao might have suffered from such a problem.


Unwritten Rules

“Haha, you need to calm down, young man, and tell me everything. As Chief Nurse, your wellbeing—and the wellbeing of everyone else here, of course—is my greatest concern!”

Hisao looked hunted. His eyes darted restlessly from place to place, as if noting and checking every entrance and exit. But this was Nurse’s domain, and escape was impossible.

“Uh, well…”

“Spit it out, Nakai-chan!”

“Hey…” he began half-heartedly to complain, before sighing. His scrunched-up face somehow managed to look gaunt as well, and even his usually sprightly hair had begun to droop.

“Come on, I won’t treat you like a small boy and you can treat me like your favourite uncle. Deal?”

“Well, you see, I’ve had uncontrollable urges to…”

“Oho!”

“… make promises to various young ladies…”

“Aha!”

Hisao persevered through the increasingly sardonic radiation emanating from the Chief Nurse’s eyes.

“… and I don’t know why, but it’s like I’m being controlled to try again and again to meet unreasonable expectations. It’s almost as if somebody in my head wants me to spend all my time hanging out with these girls even though the rest of me just wants to stay healthy and get through my studies!”

“Are there any specific young ladies who are the targets of your obsession, or is it a general affliction? I need to know, because then the psych staff might be better able to help manage the situation.”

“Well, there’s…”

Hisao hesitated, clearly reluctant to provide incriminating information of any kind. A strange look of disbelief, an incredulity that had to do with the surreal situation he’d found himself in, kept appearing on his face.

“It’s all right, you can talk to Uncle Goro here. He’ll handle everything with perfect tact. Even things to do with Emi Ibarazaki.”

“Whaaaat?”

“She’s one of them, right?”

“How did you… I suppose you know everything anyway.”

The way the air of his sigh leaked out of his face, Nurse couldn’t tell if it showed relief or despondence. Goro Kaneshiro shook his head just a little, and waited for the continuation.

“It started with Emi. I collided with her, almost died, and she told me not to surrender her name to you if anyone were to ask. But you know how that turned out.”

Indeed. The situation had been a difficult one. But in the end, Emi had given herself up as the instigator of that unfortunate episode.

“Then, it was my class representative. She’s very forceful, even though she doesn’t talk much, or at all. She made me want to do something for the school, and so I joined the Student Council, and I felt that no matter what I did, I would try very hard never to disappoint her.”

Nurse nodded. He was happy that young Nakai was opening up. Shizune Hakamichi could be a tough customer, but this kind of motivation was probably a good thing.

“There was this strange girl who was painting a really interesting mural. With her feet! And she thought I was always running around with Emi, but one day she told me she hated being alone when I was not there, and one thing led to another, and then there was an art exhibition. And clouds. Or something. Maybe butterflies. So I found myself mixing paint and talking about really strange things.”

Ah. Rin Tezuka. Oh dear.

“Also, Shizune’s very loud friend! Who turned out to be a very sensitive girl pretending not to be one. And she was all sad, and I tried to comfort her, but in the end she just said, ‘Don’t make me cry, Hicchan!’ and I don’t know what got into me, but I said, ‘I’ll never make you cry!’ and she said, ‘Aww, that’s sweet.’”

Nurse could just imagine the effect of pink drills at close range. He scribbled a bit, then continued to listen.

“And there was this shy girl in my class whom I thought I was getting along well with, and she friendzoned me, and I don’t know why. I tried to tell her that we still had a friendship and we didn’t have to say goodbye for good, but she slammed her door in my face!”

“Is this Hanako you’re talking about?”

“Yeah.”

“It takes a lot to get that kind of response from her. Perhaps you should have asked her friends about all that first.”

Hisao nodded unhappily. “Yeah. Speaking of which, I’ve also been talking with her best friend, who’s also the representative of the class next door. Did you know she was Shizune’s cousin? Oh, sorry, of course you knew.”

Goro just kept smiling gently, like a favourite uncle. He was beginning to see a pattern. Unobtrusively, he sat up a little straighter. He could hear it in his head.

“I think this was the most honest relationship I’ve ever had with anyone. We even went up to Hokkaido for the break, and shared some quiet moments together, and she asked me about Hanako, and one thing led to another…”

Nurse made another note. With Hisao, it was always one thing leading to another.

“… and I told her I’d tell her the truth, but maybe I hadn’t been entirely truthful with her—and now she might be leaving school because I might’ve hurt her.”

“No, I don’t think that’s the whole reason.”

“Really?” Hisao sounded skeptical.

“Family is always a bit of a problem with some people.”

“Right. So what am I going to do?”

“Are there any others?”

Hisao thought for a while. Nurse would never believe him. There were some he knew he would never have any kind of relationship with, but voices in his head were telling him to try. Voices. He shuddered. Nurse would just point out that these episodes were known side-effects of some of his medication, and change the pills.

“No,” he said firmly. Then his resolve cracked a bit. “What do I do?”

Nurse looked smug, as if a pet hypothesis had been proven.

“Let me summarise your problem. It’s one that a particularly unwise young man came up with almost two decades ago, and it’s never really gone away.”

“What is it?”

“I think you’ve been subconsciously influenced by that voice from the past. Tell me, does this sound familiar to you?”

Nurse rose from his chair, got his elderly laptop, and placed it in front of the boy. It took a while to load the file he wanted. “Here we go,” he said as it began to play.

Never gonna give you up . . . . . . . .
Never gonna let you down . . . . . . . .
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry . . . . . . . .
Never gonna say goodbye . . . . . . . .
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you…


“Well, Hisao, you might be the first, but I don’t think you’ll be the last to be subconsciously influenced by popular lyrics.”

=====
alt index
Last edited by brythain on Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Post by Silentcook » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:40 am

AAARGH. Sorry Corner, you. Two EONS. :evil:
Shattering your dreams since '94.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Post by Feurox » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:49 am

Brythain. That was the best written piece of trash I’ve ever read. I hate love you. :lol: What a way to start my Monday haha

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Post by brythain » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:15 pm

Silentcook wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:40 am
AAARGH. Sorry Corner, you. Two EONS. :evil:
Very sorry, boss. It happens, as you've noticed, once in a rare while. 8)
Feurox wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:49 am
Brythain. That was the best written piece of trash I’ve ever read. I hate love you. :lol: What a way to start my Monday haha
You're very welcome. I aim to please. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Post by dewelar » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:12 pm

Sure. Of course. I check one of your threads for the first time in ages, and this...THIS is what I find! I...j...qxklrbt...

(descends utterly into angrish for several minutes)

...GAH!

:lol:
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Post by brythain » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:03 am

dewelar wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:12 pm
Sure. Of course. I check one of your threads for the first time in ages, and this...THIS is what I find! I...j...qxklrbt...

(descends utterly into angrish for several minutes)

...GAH!

:lol:
I am honoured, senpai! :D
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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