Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/5/21)

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CirnouliK
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2021 2:07 pm

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/12/20)

Post by CirnouliK » Sat Feb 06, 2021 5:55 am

I just wanna say semi-quickly before I hit the sack that this story's making me incredibly happy. It's well-written, Akira is really good so far, the OCs are interesting and funny, and the whole atmosphere makes it feel pretty surreal.

I like it. A lot. Please keep up the great work...!
Shizune=Misha>Emi>Hanako>Lilly>Rin
Just another internet drifter that likes cute girls with short blue hair, and glasses, that are deaf-mute.

Currently Writing:
God's Gift to Yamaku (An OC-centric Psuedo Route)

MoashLannister
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 11:19 pm

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/12/20)

Post by MoashLannister » Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:27 am

Chapter 7

I feel a chill breeze as I move down the streets, and for a split second I think I see my own breath. It makes sense, considering autumn is coming to an end, with winter just on the horizon. The dropping temperature is just one of the many ways that the passage of time reminds us of its existence.

Much as I’d like to ignore it at the moment.

Walking past a building with a metal plated wall, I take a look at myself. Adjust my hair, brush some imaginary dust from my shoulders, wondering why I’m feeling so nervous. All pointless things, as my hair isn’t a mess, there’s no actual dust on my shoulders, and I know exactly why I’m feeling so nervous.

I take a look at my watch and realize that it’s almost time. Picking up the pace, my slow walk turns into a brisk jog. Both my body and mind are at odds with one another, as if it’s two separate entities fighting for control. A part of me wants to get this over with as soon as possible, the other wants me to make it last for as long as I’m able.

Perhaps I should study the theory of opposing forces in physics next. I’ve certainly been accustomed to such conflicts in recent days, so it’ll probably be easy. Certainly easier than getting through tonight.

I cross the street and finally reach my destination, a large office building not unlike the one I work at. On the large sign right outside its large entrance are the words “Satou Conglomerate Building” fashioned from stainless steel, making a rather imposing reminder of just how powerful the name is.

The implication that their family was wealthy and powerful was always there, but this sign seems to finally drive that point home to me. As far as social status is concerned, I’m a peasant and they’re royalty.

People are currently exiting the building, all of them wearing suits and carrying briefcases. Some stare at me as they pass by and give me a disapproving look, though most treat me as if I’m not even there. Among the crowd I see a tuft of blond hair stand out amongst the others and move towards it, hoping that it’s her.

Eventually, that hope is confirmed as I see the ever familiar black suit and hairstyle.

She’s facing away from me, talking to someone else from the look of things. He’s wearing a suit and tie just like everyone else, though his face makes him look younger in comparison to most of the people here. His expression is a stern one, his eyes sharp and suspicious.

As I get closer, I manage to tune in on what they’re saying. The man pays no heed to me, his eyes fixed solely on Akira. “I’m just doing what I need to," he says calmly, though there is little friendliness in his tone. “I’ve got a house and a car to pay for. Not all of us can get by on family connections alone, Aki.”

I stop at that statement, mostly for how his tone suddenly turns from calm to almost cruel in its harshness. Akira seems to take it even worse, as I can actually see her hands clenching.

“How can you say that?” she demands, her voice soft but fierce. I hear her take a deep breath before continuing. “After all we’ve been through, I was hoping that…”

“That what? I’d treat you any differently from the rest of them? Because we happened to be lovers at one point?” he says, scoffing. Crossing his arms, he lets his anger and contempt show on his face. ‘You’re the one who left, remember? I was willing to work things out, you weren’t. Said that it was pointless to go on and left for another country the next day. Any of those things ringing a bell?”

Now Akira isn’t the only one clenching her fists, as I realize that I’m clenching mine as well. I try my best to look away from that mysterious man, knowing that the sight of his face will just make my sudden feeling of anger even worse.

I almost want to cover my ears, or to shout aloud, whatever will make that conversation stop in its tracks. But I do nothing but stay still, not knowing what I should do. It seems that I never know what to do in matters like these, either due to cowardice, indecision, or a simple lack of experience in these kinds of situations.

Regardless of the reason, I can’t bring myself to do anything, and I hate it.

“Fuji…” I hear Akira say, her voice visibly cracking either from anger or pain. Perhaps both. “I know I was wrong, all right? Is that what you want me to say? I was wrong to just cut you out of my life so suddenly. I’m sorry…”

“I know you are,” the man named Fuji responds with a sigh, his hostile tone slipping just a bit. “But what’s done is done. You choose to end things the way they did, and you gave me no say in it. That doesn’t go away just because you’re regretting it now. If anything, it makes it even harder to talk to you right now.”

“I…” Akira says nothing further, and straightens up a little. “I guess that’s how things have to be.”

Her cold tone is met with an even colder stare from Fuji, who’s expression seems to harden right back up. “Then we have nothing further to discuss, Aki. We had...good times," he says, without mirth or sympathy. “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye. It’s been fun, Fuji," she says, her voice dull and void of anything resembling the Akira I’m familiar with. With that final word, the man walks away without so much as passing me a glance, just like the rest of them. As for Akira…

Well, she turns around and I finally get to see her face, which is a disaster in both the physical and emotional sense. Her hair is extremely disheveled, her eyes extremely tired, with very noticeable black circles surrounding them.

What distresses me the most is that she isn’t even trying to hide how much pain she’s in. She looks like she’s crying without tears, just barely holding it all in. I can only imagine the hell she’s been through in the last twenty-four hours, and even that imagination might be an understatement compared to the actual reality of it.

She looks at me for a split second, as if to see I’m really there. Right now, we’re two people standing still amidst a tide of people coming and going, passing us by without a thought. The only person who acknowledges our existence is each other. We’re the only ones here that cares about our pains and joys, our struggles and our victories.

But like the people passing us by, our separation is merely a matter of time. What value will that acknowledgement mean once it happens?

Akira slowly walks up to me, and despite all odds, actually cracks a bit of a smile. “So, you saw that, huh? Probably heard it too?”

“Yeah…” I admit. “The tail end of it, anyways.”

“Well, then you’ve heard more than enough to know what happened," she says, trying to brush it off. Giving my face a hard look, she gives an approving nod. “Glad to know one of us is dressed up for the occasion.”

“I dunno, I think I might have overdressed.” I respond, my brain firing on all cylinders to try and make this easier on her, to make her not think about anything other than the night ahead of us. “Besides, you don’t look that bad.”

“Nice try, big guy,” Akira retorts as she motions to a sidewalk across the street, indicating that that’s where she wants to go. “I look like garbage and we both know it. A night at the office will do that to anyone.”

“I still think you look nice," I say defensively as we walk, finally joining the tide of people walking about. I’m not lying either, as her smile still looks radiant despite her obvious fatigue. After the conversation with her former boyfriend, I know the smile is mostly for my sake, and that makes it all the more valuable to me.

She doesn’t respond to my quip, instead taking my hand in hers and squeezing it lightly. The act surprises me, but I squeeze back as a sign of approval. Feeling the soft skin of her hand on mine makes me happy, I confess. But also a little more anxious than I already am.

Feeling like this is as good a time as any, I pull out a can of beer and hand it to her. I wasn’t sure what brand she liked, so I picked one at random. She takes a look at the can and grabs it, raising an eyebrow. “Honestly, I was wondering if you’ve forgotten.”

“Why would I?” I say as we continue down the street, hand in hand with no destination in mind.

“Well, it’s been quite a day, so I’m honestly surprised I haven't forgotten,” she says before opening the can and downing the beer desperately, as if she’d been deprived of water for an entire day.

“I like to keep my promises," I say after she’s done chugging down the entire can, subsequently throwing it down the nearest trash can. “Besides, I know you’ve had a rough day. Figured you might need a little break.”

I try to move forward, but found myself being tugged back. Akira stands still and looks at me, her penetrating gaze seeming to indicate...something, but I’m not sure what. After a moment, she lets out what might be the most grateful smile I’ve seen from her. At least our last night is starting out well.

“You really are sweet, you know that?” she says, her confident voice offsetting how unusually insecure she looks right now. “Well, sweet in comparison to all the other people I have to deal with, but still...thank you. I…”

She says nothing more and breaks away from me slightly, my hand immediately missing her touch. She opens her mouth, but words fail to come out, which seems to frustrate her. “I…” She manages to let out, but ultimately shakes her head. “I’m sorry. God, I’m not usually like this. It’s just...I don’t really know how to put things into words. Not right now.”

“Do you want to cancel?” I ask, even as every part of my mind begs me not to ask that question. I don’t want it to end, but at the same time I don’t want her to suffer just to appease me. “If you’re too tired, I understand.”

“No. Absolutely not an option,” she responds decisively, which lifts a little weight off my chest. “It’s my last day here, and I sure as hell don’t want to spend it alone in my hotel room. I just...need a bit of time to adjust, really. Mind if we stop someplace and grab an early dinner?”

I nod, looking at my watch for a quick second. We still have time.

“Thanks," she says, and she walks away, myself trailing just behind her.

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“I guess you already know, but he was my boyfriend. We dated for a few years before...you know," she says as our bowls arrive, finally breaking the silence that she’s maintained ever since entering the restaurant. It’s a simple ramen place with not many people around, and the lack of a heater here makes this place colder than I’d prefer.

Still, the ramen is warm. Breaking our chopsticks, we eat a few bites before continuing the conversation.

“Are you really all right?” I ask after sipping on some soup. “With telling me about this, I mean.”

“Well, who else am I going to tell? There’s certainly no one else I’d trust with this stuff," she grumbles as she grabs the mug of beer she’d ordered and downs it with a big gulp. “Besides, you said you didn’t mind hearing me bitch. Finally turning back on that stance?”

“No,” I respond firmly, which she seems to appreciate. “Fire away.”

“Right, where to begin," she says, looking wistful. “Well, we met shortly after I got my first job at the company. When I was still considered ‘that girl with the very powerful father,’ even more than I am now if you can believe it. Fuji was the only one who really treated me like a regular person, which really meant he was the only one who didn't suck up to me or treat me like dirt.”

“One thing led to another, and we started seeing each other for more than just ‘mandated company gatherings,’ if you catch my drift...” She trails off slightly, her face looking pained despite her nostalgic smirk. “It was really fun, all in all. We’d go out to movies, eat at fancy restaurants, wake up next to each other, and do all that sappy stuff couples do.”

Despite knowing how they ended, I can’t help but feel a pang of envy for “all that sappy stuff” they got to do.

She doesn’t say anything after that, content with letting the awkward implications be left unsaid as she eats her ramen. I follow suit, eating while suppressing my urge to say what I really want to say. Besides, I’m more familiar with why they’re no longer on good terms, even if I hadn't eavesdropped on them.

In hindsight, I feel as if I should sympathize with Fuji more than I do Akira. After all, she’s the one who left him without letting him weigh in on the matter, or even the opportunity to say a proper goodbye, from the looks of things. At least Lilly granted me that much, even if it did little to ease the feeling of abandonment.

Am I a massive hypocrite for siding with her despite knowing that logically, I shouldn’t?

“Anyways, that bridge has burnt down now," she says after finishing her bowl, reaching for her mug only to sigh when she realizes that there isn’t any beer left in it.

“I wasn’t exactly hoping for a do-over, but...I don’t know, something different from all the shit I’ve been given in my life recently. But it seems he’s fine treating me how almost everyone else does nowadays, either a tolerable enemy or a begrudging tool to have around. And all because I’m a Satou, and not because I’m Akira. Jeez, hate me for who I am for a change...”

“I…” I want to say something to comfort her, but can’t find the words.

“The worst thing is, I can’t even say he’s wrong,” she continues after waving for another beer. She slumps down pathetically on the counter. “I’m the one who ended it the way it did, so I guess it’s just karma that he’s treating me like this.”

Her beer arrives, which she immediately raises to her lips. Afterwards, she puts the glass down and looks me straight in the eye, gazing at me as if she’s looking for some sort of forgiveness. “Honestly, some days I wonder if it’s just me. That I’m the one in the wrong for everything. That underneath it all, I'm just a terrible person for being so bitter at everyone in my life.”

“You aren’t,” I respond immediately, surprising both of us with how loud I am. Even the waiters are giving me a look.

Akira ignores how loud I am, instead letting out a bitter chuckle as she looks down at the table. “How can you be so sure?” she asks, her voice insecure. “You know, I’ve only told you what I wanted to tell you. How would you know if I wasn’t making things to be far worse than they actually are? How can you be sure that I’m not just complaining about what I have instead of being grateful for them?”

“Because…” I start to answer before stopping to really think about it. This isn’t something I can answer impulsively; it requires a calm and logical answer, as most things should. With a deep breath, I continue. “I don’t know, alright. I can’t give you a definite answer, but all I know is this. Looking at how miserable you are right now, and after all the time I’ve spent with you, you aren’t a horrible person. I just...know, alright?”

Good work, Hisao. That came out just like I wanted it to. Insult her to cheer her up, then give an answer that doesn’t actually answer anything. Perfectly sound logic.

Miraculously, I manage to make her laugh, which is worth the embarrassment of giving such a weak answer. “Wow. Not your best line there, big guy," she says, adding some levity to the heavy atmosphere. “Seriously though, way to rag on how I’m looking right now. What happened to ‘You still look nice?’”

“I’m serious," I say, trying to reaffirm my answer. “Whoever or whatever is putting you through so much suffering, enough to make you look so…” I cut myself off in order not to use any word that might dig myself deeper into this mess. “You don’t deserve to be put through all that.”

“Well, I’ve learned in this world that the word ‘deserve’ really doesn’t apply to anything," Akira says as she slumps down in the chair. “Still, thanks for trying. I appreciate it.”

I look down a little in defeat, my reasoning unable to sway her cynicism. We stay silent for a good while, many people entering and exiting the place as we wait for...nothing, really. Just the passage of time and the courage to finally break this uncomfortable stalemate, considering it’s about the only uncomfortable thing that’s able to be broken.

“Will you be coming back here?” I ask suddenly. The question isn’t what I really want to break the silence, but ever since this morning, my unease about her departure continues to fester to the point where asking it is a matter of sooner rather than later.

Akira eyes me curiously and shrugs. “Don’t know," she says casually, the lack of worry in her voice dampening my hope a little. “I’ve messed things up pretty badly, as far as the Japanese branch is concerned, so they might decide to lock me up in Inverness for the rest of the foreseeable future.”

“Oh.” I try not to let my anxiety show. Looking at my watch tells me it’s seven, my time with her diminishing bit by bit, like sand in an hourglass. In spite of that, we still have time. “So, what do you want to do tonight?”

“Honestly, I can’t tell you," she says, sighing as her posture droops even further. “I can tell you I want to visit a kabuki show, or a jazz club, or maybe even see a live play or two, but I think that’d make things harder for me.”

“Harder?” I ask as I fiddle around with my chopsticks, feeling eager to head out somewhere. Where, exactly, I don’t really know.

“Yeah, just reminding me of all the stuff I wanted to do back in the day," she says, her voice a mix of nostalgia and anger. “I told you I wanted to be an actor, right?”

“Yeah. But then something happened and you had to give it up.” That memory was easy to recall. Funny how I remember events of the previous week with ease, while having absolutely no real recollection of the days, or even weeks, that came before. Before Akira.

“That was my main passion. Back when I had those, not so long ago.” She gets up from the table and stretches. “Let’s bail. We can talk on the way…”

I get up too, pulling out my wallet and placing some cash onto the table. “On the way where?”

She moves ahead of me, and I catch up with her, still uncertain about where this night is heading. “Who knows? All I know is that you’re the only person who makes me feel as if not everything is going wrong in my life, if only a little bit. Mind making me feel that way for a few more hours?”

I’m still slightly behind her as we exit the ramen place, so I can’t see her face. Still, I don’t think I need to. She’s conveyed what she wants out of me, a simple yet urgent request.

I push my feelings of worry to the side, along with all the things I wish to say to her. We still have a little while longer, so hopefully there’s no need to rush. Picking up my pace to match hers, I give a reassuring nod and a smile in response.

For perhaps the first time, and hopefully not the last, she flashes me a smile that completely radiates through her dispirited demeanor.

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We make our way through this street or that, mirroring our first night out together. No set course, with little idea of where to go next. Perhaps it’s symbolic of where we’re currently at at this juncture, me with her departure and her with...well, life in general. Or perhaps I’m simply drawing connections that aren’t there.

We stop and listen to a street musician for a few minutes. “You said you had other passions?” I ask, as we continue our walk. That’s been the pattern even since we left the ramen place, a constant stop-and-go to anything that catches our interest. Momentary waystops to an unknown destination.

There are a few differences between this outing and the one before, mostly in terms of atmosphere. In the past, there was a sense of...detachment concerning that night, an acknowledgement that it was temporary and should be treated as such.

Tonight is a different matter, though at first glance it seems to be similar. But underneath the superficial peace is a hidden sense of...something. Fear of it ending? An understanding that this might be the last time we’ll ever see each other? Embracing what little relief this night would offer?

I can’t exactly pin it down, but it’s definitely something that both of us notice as we continue along, considering that our bodies are closer than they were the last time, and Akira would occasionally sneak a touch of my hand or glance at me with a pained smile for no reason at all.

Not exactly the most intimate of gestures, but enough to make me guess at her intentions, which simply adds another layer of confusion.

“Yeah, I wanted to do all sorts of things when I was younger," she says with a smile, her expression slowing turning back into her usual expression of confident nonchalance. “Though I guess they all had to do with acting in some form or fashion. Singing, dancing, a music instrument here or there.”

“Seems like you’re pretty multi-talented,” I compliment her as we cross another street, our back and forth slower than usual. Sometimes minutes would pass by before a response is given. Then again, everything seems to feel slower tonight, from the people surrounding us to the changing of streetlights to even the beating of my heart. Everything seems so...sluggish.

Perhaps it’s simply my perception, my subconscious mind wanting to drag out this night as much as possible.

“Nah, I just really wanted to learn back then, but I wasn’t persistent enough to stick with them when things got hard for me,” she responds with a shrug, her words carrying a twinge of bitterness. “Follow your dreams, Hisao. If you have the freedom to do so, do it no matter how ridiculous it may be. Otherwise you’ll lose them forever.”

“Dreams, huh?” I mutter, smiling grimly. “If you can show me one, sure. Right now, I really don’t have any.”

“We all have them. It’s just a matter of what you’re willing to give up trying to get them," Akira says with a chiding voice. We stop yet again to look through the glass storefront of an antique shop. It doesn’t hold anything I would call interesting, but the sight of a shiny looking music box brings me back to some rather unfortunate memories.

“Isn’t there something you really want? Something that’ll keep you satisfied for a long while, even if it seems impossible? I’d say that’s a dream.”

Something I really want, even if it seems impossible? Well, I can think of at least one thing. But telling her that right now might be troublesome, for the both of us.

“Yeah, there’s one thing that fits that description," I say, as vague and as unemotional as I can. A part of me is disappointed that I wasn’t fully honest, the rest is glad I manage not to slip anything that might complicate things. And once again, I’m left extremely conflicted.

“Not going to tell me?” she asks curiously as we move on. My gaze lingers on that music box for just a little longer. The memory it brings reminds me of what happens if I lean too far into sentimentality and ignorant comfort.

“Maybe later," I say, leaving the door slightly open for her to pursue that line of questioning. If she decides to. A part of me hopes she does, just not right now. We still have time.

“Fine by me," she says as we turn to another street, letting out a sigh. “Care to indulge me for a bit?”

“What have I been doing for the last week then?” I retort, flashing a wry smile at her.

She returns with one of her own, laughing a bit. “Smartass. I can’t believe I still have energy to laugh like this. Guess you have that kind of effect on me.”

Her compliment probably wasn’t meant to make me blush, and yet it does. Akira doesn’t seem to notice, or maybe she chooses not to notice. “Back to what I was getting at, before being rudely interrupted.” She nudges me a little before continuing. “You can ask me anything, and I’ll answer it no matter what. No lying, being vague, or any bullshit like that. However, I get to do the same after that. Seems fair?”

“Sure," I say, nodding slightly. “Never thought you’d be so...childish?”

“Girl’s gotta have her ways of staying young. And sane.” She stops, sitting on a bench and stretching out her legs. I sit beside her, which she seems to deem the beginning of our game. “So, what’s the worst thing that your parents caught you doing?”

“My parents weren’t around for much,” I mention offhandedly, trying not to sound begrudging. “I got away with a lot of things.”

“Oh come one, one question in and you’re already dodging the topic," she says with a pout on her face, which I can’t help but find cute.

“All right, all right," I say, relenting and trying to think of a proper answer. “One time I accidentally broke dad’s baseball card case. It held all the rare cards he collected over the years, and he was pissed when he found out. Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t have a heart attack the moment he saw me. Literally, given my condition.”

“Heh, well at least you didn’t intend for it to happen. I wasn’t so kind to my old man when I was a kid.” She lets out a loud yawn. “Hey, uh...Hisao? Mind if I rest my head on your shoulder for a little while. I think my body is finally trying to tell me that I’ve been working it too damn hard.”

I’m caught off guard by her request, even more so by her unhesitant delivery. I give a slow nod, trying to act calm. That act completely fades the moment she rests her head, letting out another yawn, though this one much more relaxed. If she could see my face, and thankfully she can’t, Akira would probably tease me to no end about how much I’m blushing.

“Thanks," she says, moving her head to get a better position. “Anyways, it’s your turn.”

“What would you do if you could do anything you wanted to?” I ask simply, deciding to lean back on the bench to get some rest as well.

“Well, I definitely wouldn’t be working in my current job, that’s for sure,” she answers with a bitter laugh. “Being honest, I don’t know. The idea of doing whatever I want to is weird because I feel as if I’ve never done it before, even though I definitely did. Ain’t that a kicker?”

“Yeah,” I respond simply, then teasingly add, “That was your question, by the way.”

“Oh.” She doesn’t seem to react much to my quip, instead opting for another yawn. “Ah, whatever. Go ahead.”

“Back during our first night out together, were you really expecting it to turn out like this?” I ask, closing my eyes.

My body is really starting to feel the cold, almost as if winter’s come early this year. Perhaps I could have worn some gloves, though that would have prevented me from really feeling Akira’s hand. Opening my eyes, I only now realize that this street has barely anyone walking by, and the ones that are giving us curious glances, most likely mistaking us for a couple.

A couple, after two years of relative social isolation on my end and several years of supposed frustration on hers. Wouldn’t that be a great thing? Of course, something like that is impossible under present circumstances, even if we had those sorts of feelings.

Even if…

“Honestly…no,” she responds at last, sounding oddly guilty about that admission. “Also, I was lying when I said it might have been because of the alcohol. I don’t get drunk that easy, so sorry if you had any ideas about using alcohol to soften me up.”

“So you intended for us to go back to the hotel together?”

“That wasn’t part of the plan, really,” she continues, ignoring the fact that I asked another question. “I just wanted to do something that I wanted to for once, and not by myself. At first, I was just ready to have a normal night out with you; talking, drinking, all that crap. But then it got late and I didn’t really want the night to end, because...don’t laugh when I say this, all right?”

“I promise," I say softly, which she seems to respond with a grunt of approval, her head sliding across my shoulder to the point where it’s almost touching my cheek.

“Good, ‘cause this night is over if you do.” She giggles a bit, moving her hand onto mine. At this point, I wonder if she’s consciously doing this, or if she’s simply so tired that she doesn’t understand the implication of her actions.

“I didn’t want it to end because it was the first time in a long while that I was doing something that I decided for myself. Not because of work, not because of family, nothing like that. And well, I got carried away a bit and wanted more of that. That’s why I asked you to come back to my hotel room, the outings afterwards, you get the idea…”

“Yeah, I think I do.” Deciding to feel a little bold, I rest my head on top of hers, her soft hair on my cheek feeling oddly comforting. Akira doesn’t say anything, though she definitely does notice it.

“You don’t resent me for that?” she asks as we draw even more glances from onlookers. If we don’t seem like a couple before, we certainly do now. “In a way, I sort of used you for my own ends without even considering what you thought of it. That’s pretty horrible, when I say it out loud.”

“Well, I’m guilty of that as well,” I admit, sounding just as accepting of it as she did. “I accepted your invitation because I didn’t want to go home to an empty room with nothing to do. I didn’t really care why you wanted to go out, or even why you picked me specifically. So I guess we both used each other.”

She laughs at that, sounding bitter, amused, and sad all at the same time “Well aren’t we a couple of messed up people? I guess we deserve each other.”

Again, the choice of words. Subtle hints? Or simply me overthinking things. I don’t know, and it hurts that I don’t. If it was merely teasing, I could brush it off. But what if it isn’t?

“Maybe," I say in slight agreement, feeling drowsy. “As much as I enjoy this, we should move on. Sleeping on a bench in the middle of a street is a bad idea.”

“Wouldn’t be the first one either of us had,” she quips, though she detaches from me all the same, getting up and stretching a bit. Without turning to look at me, she asks. “How much time do we have left?”

I look at my watch, which reads 9:45. Time’s ticking away, tomorrow and what it brings inching closer…

We still have time. Hopefully.

I get up as well and imitate her stretching, releasing some of my tension. Letting out a barely audible yawn, I say offhandedly, “Almost ten. How long do you want this to go on?”

She doesn’t give a response at first, though she turns to look at me, her eyes suddenly turning serious. “I’d say it’s about time we call it quits. My legs are probably going to give out at any moment, plus I got some packing to do.” Her tone grows colder, the kind she uses when dealing things business-like. “It’s been fun, Hisao.”

While I try to keep a calm exterior, on the inside my mind is panicking. I didn’t expect her to end this suddenly, I was…

What was I expecting? That somehow this night won’t ever end? That I could just stall this forever, making small talk with her until she inevitably ends it? No, this isn’t what I want. Every meeting so far has been me going with the flow, following her lead.

If nothing else, I don’t want to conclude this so unsatisfyingly, with barely any resistance on my end. Not like the last time this sort of scenario was presented before me.

“Akira!” My voice is loud, perhaps a bit too loud as she jerks a little in response. Mercifully, she seems neither repelled nor suspicious about my sudden outburst, merely quizzical.

“I don’t want this night to be over,” I blurt out, my words coming out before I can think over them. “Not yet, anyways. So…”

I break off, my mouth refusing to speak anymore as my logical side finally catches up. What am I doing? What is this going to achieve other than giving me a few sparse hours with her, if even that. This doesn’t make any sense, it’s not going to solve anything.

And yet, I want to do this. Logic be damned, I still want to continue. Another hour, another minute, another second. Greedy and pointless it may be, but the fact remains that I want to spend more time with her.

“Want to come over to my place?”

I realize that I sound, for lack of a better term, completely pathetic. The way that I asked her was more of a pitiful half-beg than a heartfelt request. And yet she doesn’t see it as that, giving me a look of deep consideration.

“You sure?” she asks, brushing off the apparent weight of my question. And yet there’s an undertone of some hidden emotion behind her casual façade. Despite having no basis for it, I’m almost certain that it’s there.

God, what a mess I am tonight. Assuming things with no proof behind them, acting and thinking completely out of line, and even having the gall to pull off a stunt like this. No doubt any scientist would be foaming at the mouth at the level of illogical stupidity I am displaying.

But...this is what happens when someone lets their emotions take over, I suppose. And it’s not like I can back out of this now. So the only thing I can do is follow this choice to its conclusion.

I give her a quick and firm nod. She stares at me for a few more seconds before saying something, her face showing neither joy nor anger. “All right then, let’s go.”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unlike last time, we decide to take the bus. At this time of night they’re mostly empty. Despite traffic being rather thin, it still feels as if we’re moving at a sluggish pace, stopping and starting despite the lack of people getting on or off.

Turning to face Akira, I see that she’s leaning on the glass, her hand on her mouth and her cold scarlet eyes completely fixated on the outside. She hasn’t said a word ever since accepting my invitation, and I feel as if I’ve asked too much of her to force her into any sort of conversation.

She’s not mad at me, I think. But I don’t think she’s looking forward to spending the night with me either, despite agreeing to it.

At last, the bus stops near my apartment. I get up and exit the vehicle, Akira following close behind, maintaining a small but noticeable distance between us. We walk a bit towards the building, silence still unbroken. It isn’t a hostile silence, or even an unwelcome one. It’s just...silence, as if neither of us has anything to say to the other that wouldn’t be meaningless small talk at this point.

I have so many things I want to say. That I almost feel that I should say, and yet at the same time I shouldn’t. If there’s any place to reveal what I’ve kept secret from her, it’ll probably be in my apartment.

After a climb up the steps, and having to deal with the unpleasant scent of burnt cigarettes multiple times along the way, we finally reach the door to my home.

Home. A concept that I’ve never given much thought of. Why would I? It’s simply the place you reside in, isn’t it?

I hesitate a little before turning back to Akira, almost as if she’s going to disappear on me. She’s there of course, and her expression is still the neutral look she’s been giving me for a while. Deciding it’s pointless to delay, I open the door and turn on the lights.

“Welcome to my apartment," I say out of politeness, but mostly to break the silence. “I think this is the first time I’ve ever said that here.”

“I can imagine,” she responds, her voice lacking her usual sarcasm. Walking in and taking a look around, she adds, “Not much of an apartment, but I suppose you’re on a tight budget.”

“Not really,” I correct, closing the door shut. “I could afford a bigger place, given the amount of money my parents give me every few months. But I didn’t see the point in having space I wasn’t going to use.”

“I suppose I can see the logic behind that," she says, while glancing at my bed, yawning. “Got a place where I can freshen up? Haven’t been in a proper bathroom for a whole day, so…”

I point to the only door in this place, besides the entrance. “There’s a sink and a shower, and I probably have a spare towel in there somewhere.”

“Thanks.” She gives me a lingering look before heading towards the bathroom, shutting the door. A few seconds later, I can hear the sounds of the shower being turned on inside there. Another small delay, but I’m used to those today.

With little to do, I place my bag on the desk and head towards the balcony. It’s a tight fit as always, though the autumn wind makes standing out here just a bit better than usual. I stare out into the night sky mindlessly, waiting for the inevitable to occur. It’s just a matter of time before she gets out, and then…

And then what? What do I even say in a situation like this, if I even say anything at all? What words can possibly give me an outcome that I’d be satisfied with? Perhaps there isn’t, and I should just enjoy these final hours with her while I can.

The noise of the shower stops, the creak of an opening door following soon after. Then Akira’ arms are wrapping around my waist, and she rests her head against my back. Her hair feels damp and her arms feel cold, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it feels nice. And distracting.

“Sorry about the wet hair," she murmurs, as if that’s the most important thing right now. “You should buy a hair dryer.”

“I’ll think about it,” I respond as she continues to embrace me.

“The view from here must be pretty nice," she says, a bit of her playfulness returning. “Too bad you’re in the way.”

“Sorry my back isn’t all that great to look at,” I quip back, despite wanting to say something more serious. Once again, she’s leading the flow of the conversation. I don’t mind, but I also know that we’re not going to get anywhere unless I try to take hold of it.

She pulls away from me, and I turn around to take a good look at her. Akira looks more composed than the messy, though still beautiful, state that she was in a few minutes prior. Her face looks sharper and her hair less messy.

More noticeably, she’s only wearing her shirt now, and her chest is more...pronounced than it was. Embarrassingly, she seems to notice as she puts a finger on my chin, lifting my face up. “Eyes up here, big guy," she says, feigning offense. “Or were you expecting them to be bigger?”

“No, I…” I cut myself off as I try not to stare. “You know, I always wondered how you manage to make your chest...you know.”

“What, make myself look flat?” she responds with a snort, this time the offended tone sounding genuine. “I bind them. Granted, I don’t exactly have a bust size the rest of my relatives seem to have, but in the office “a little bit of chest” is still reason enough for people to give me a snide look whenever they can.”

“Oh…” I can’t think of anything else to say, so I simply look down at the ground. “Sorry…”

“Not your fault. Besides, it’s not like I mind letting some people stare," she says, as her finger makes its way to my chin again, pushing me to look at her. Akira gives me a comforting smile and plants a quick kiss on my lips. “So, you ready?”

“Ready?” I ask, perplexed. “For what?”

She pauses for a second, blinking in genuine surprise. “You’re...joking, right? You invited me back into your house to spend the night, what else would it be for?”

It takes me a second too late to finally figure out what she means, at which point I shake my head in disbelief. Of course she would think that, because it’s the only logical reason why I would do such a thing.

“No.” I mutter, too embarrassed at the situation to really raise my voice. “That wasn’t why I asked you here.”

“Then what?” she asks, sounding genuinely confused. “I don’t get why you would…”

“Because I don’t want you to leave!”

I don’t exactly know what took hold of me when I blurt out those words, looking straight into her eyes as I do so. It’s something that’s been building up for some time now, and yet as it comes out I startle myself.

Akira doesn’t seem as shocked as I, or maybe she’s better at hiding it. She returns my stare with one of her own, her smile fading completely. Sighing, she looks away from me, as if the sight of me pains her.

“Really shitty time to bring that up, you know.” She sounds conflicted, which further drives the point across that I’ve overstepped the boundaries we’d both laid out for each other. “That isn’t possible, Hisao. You know that...”

“I know," I say, conceding that point. “I just…”

“Stop.” She cuts me off, and for a moment I fear that she intends to leave. “I think we should take a second to calm down before talking about this.”

All I can do is nod in agreement. Since my apartment lacks any other place to sit, we make our way to the bed. Sitting down, we don’t say anything at first, but eventually she’s the one to speak up. “Today’s been a tiring day, Hisao.”

“I’m sorry.” The apology comes immediately, without hesitation.

“Let me finish," she continues, sighing. “I’m tired and I don’t think I can keep my eyes open for long, so...would you mind if I just...lay down here?”

The request takes me slightly by surprise, but at this point refusing her would probably end any chance I have of continuing this, so I give her a nod. Akira takes little time in flopping down on the bed, turning away from me so that I can’t read her face, which demoralizes me further.

“Why do you want me to stay?” she asks after a while, her body completely still.

I don’t answer at first, knowing that by answering I’ll be admitting to something that I’ve been trying to repress. The last couple of days have been spent denying, suppressing, or rationalizing my feelings to myself. But in the end, no matter how much I try, that fact is no longer a possibility but a certainty.

“Because I’ve fallen for you,” I confess in desperation, both to her and to myself. “I know I shouldn’t. I know it’s stupid of me to, for so many reasons, but that’s what ended up happening. And I’m...I’m sorry.”

I can feel something wet on the corner of my eyes, ever so slightly. Damn it, are tears really forming? I can’t even recall the last time I really cried, and yet now I’m on the verge of it, any semblance of cold, logical thinking completely gone.

“When?” she asks.. I wish she was facing me, so I could see her expression. “When did you...you know...”

“I don’t know.” I know the answer is a flimsy one, but it’s the truth. “When you invited me back to the hotel, when you asked me to the bar, just...somewhere along the line, It just happened, and it only became apparent when you mentioned you were leaving.”

“At least you’re honest," she says, though there’s little comfort in her words, for either of us. “Though, again, really bad time to bring that up.”

“I’m sorry," I say again, sighing in frustration. “I know this isn’t how you wanted to end things.”

“Well, you got that part right,” she admits. “Honestly? I wanted to end things quickly. Not to the point where I’d brush you off, but coming here definitely isn’t part of the plan.”

“Then why’d you come?” I ask, gripping my bedsheets in nervous tension. If it was simply out of pity, then there’s probably no salvaging this conversation, or whatever bond we had. “You could have refused, you know.”

“I know, but I figured I owed you one for all the time you’ve spent listening to me. When you asked me here, I was willing to sleep with you one last time before heading back to Scotland. Go out with a bang, right?”

So it was pity after all. I say nothing, knowing that whatever I could say would just worsen things. It seems that this was the inevitable result…

“But…” She pauses, moving her head ever so slightly. “...I won’t lie and say I don’t feel anything for you, either. In fact, I think I feel the same way you do. That’s probably why I wanted to end it as quickly as possible.”

“What?” I say softly as my eyes widen. I’m hearing her words, yet my mind is still trying to convince me that it was simply what I wanted to hear, not what she actually said. “What did you say?”

“Do you really need me to spell it for you? I think I’ve might have...fallen for you too," she says, so matter-of-factly that I’m torn between believing it to be genuine and it simply being a lie to console me. “Guess we’re both idiots…”

“Why?” I ask, which finally causes her to let some sort of emotion into her voice. Namely, a soft but sad chuckle, one that finally convinces me on the authenticity of her confession. A miniscule amount of hope begins to form, even as the reality of the situation threatens to snuff it out.

“I can’t give you an exact reason. Never was good at this sort of thing,” she answers with a shrug. “But I suppose it’s because you make me feel happy, and wanted. Both things I haven’t felt in a long time.

“Whenever I see you smile, I can’t help but want to keep that smile going. You’re the only person that I feel comfortable talking to about things that I’d otherwise never say to anyone else in my life. You remind me that there’s more to life than suffering for the sake of a goal I don’t even want to achieve. I’d say those are a few of the reasons why.”

I say nothing, trying to let the monumental revelation sink in. She reciprocates my feelings, and suddenly everything about today snaps into place. How she acted, how close her body was to mine. They weren’t due to a desire to tease, or exhaustion, but genuine affection.

Perhaps under different circumstances, a revelation like this would be great. It might even be the best thing to happen to me ever since my fleeting days back in Yamaku. But now it simply adds more fire and confusion to this already deteriorating situation.

“So...yeah,” Akira finishes, once again trying to casually brush off the weight of her comments. “I don’t hate you for inviting me here, but this...this is making it harder to accept leaving here. For the both of us, I would imagine.”

“Yeah,” I agree, feeling this conversation taking its toll on what little energy I have left. “I’m sorry…for everything...”

I see Akira shifting her body, as if contemplating whether to turn around and face me. She doesn’t, though she does tilt her head a little.

“Don’t be, Hisao," she whispers softly, a gentle somberness to her voice. “Even if I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t have hated you for it. Things like that just...happen. But no matter what, I have to go. My life can’t stop for yours, just like yours can’t stop for mine.”

I try to say something, anything, but all that comes out of my mouth is a tired and defeated sounding yawn. Looking at my watch, I realize that it’s close to midnight. It seems time refuses to give me any sort of peace, even for a moment like this.

“Go to sleep.” Akira suggests bluntly, moving her body to free up space on the small bed. “You must be dead tired.”

I want to object, but couldn’t find any argument to counter. What point is there in talking things out? Regardless of what we say, regardless of our feelings, genuine or not, the fact remains that we’re destined to go our separate ways. We can’t stay in this temporary intersection, we have to move forward with our lives. Our growing, but ultimately unsatisfying, lives.

As bitter as that is, it’s the undeniable truth. And the truth cannot be swayed or changed.

Lethargically, I decide to follow routine and take my medications. As bad as I feel and as much as I want to just forget about it, I grudgingly follow the familiar drill of taking medicine after medicine in order to keep myself alive. If Akira cares or even notices, she doesn’t let me know.

Frankly, I don’t blame her. It’s hard to care in a scenario like this.

In a way, the day I had my heart attack was the day that I realized that my life held no true freedom. The days hospitalized was the realization that I was caged by the body that I was born with, and that it was a cage that I had no hope in escaping. I can’t fix what’s wrong with my body, just as I couldn’t fix my broken friendships with my old friends, my potential relationship with Iwanako, or even my short but very real relationship with Lilly.

As I graduated Yamaku, another sort of captivity dawned upon me. College wasn’t an option in my life, it was a requirement. No matter how dull I felt, it didn’t change the fact that I still had to study. No matter how lonely I was, it didn’t change the fact that I had to work someday, regardless of any kind of fulfillment that a job might provide me.

No matter how much I wanted to stop, life continues to push me forward. Because to stop would be tantamount to death, both in a social, financial, and, in my case, a literal sense.

With that utterly depressing train of thought, I lay down on the bed beside Akira. Our backs are to each other, knowing that seeing each other’s face would just make things even harder to accept. If we can’t do what we want, the least we can do is make things easier.

An allegory of our entire time spent together this past week, condensed into this simple action. It’d be thought provoking if it wasn’t so damned heartwrenching.

“Do you want to stay here?” I ask as I begin to close my eyes, torn between the hope of sleep arriving soon and wishing it never comes.

“Yes,” Akira answers after a long silence, to the point where I was almost convinced she was already asleep. “But when do we ever get to do what we want, huh? My life’s been laid out for me since day one. My old man, my mom...Lils...”

She sounds almost guilty at mentioning the last name, and I can feel her back push up to mine. “Did you hate her when she left?” she questions. “I know that’s probably a shitty thing to ask, but…”

“Yes.” I sound just as ashamed as her when I admit that, though there’s really no reason to hide that fact. “But I hated myself even more for not even trying to stop her.”

Once again there’s another long silence, as if she needs to prepare her reply. “She had her doubts about going back, you know. Of course she never told me about it, and it wasn’t long before she got used to her situation in Inverness, but for a while she did consider staying.”

“What does that matter now?” My answer is immediate and quite bitter. I’ve had enough difficult things to face tonight, the question of what might be if I’ve taken a different decision back then is not something I wish to add to the pile. “The past is the past, nothing can change that.”

“Try to sound less offended, will you?” she jabs, perhaps as at attempt to add some levity to one of our last conversations. “But you’re right, nothing we can do to change what’s already happened. All we can do is…”

“Move on…” I finish for her, knowing that’s what she’s trying to say.

“Yeah…” Akira concedes, with a tone of finality added to her voice. “Goodnight, Hisao.”

It seems our conversation is at an end. It was long, but like most things, it has ended. All I can do is wait for tomorrow to come and go, and for her to leave. I guess it really was inevitable after all…

Did I regret confessing my feelings to her? Should I have even tried? I’m too tired and frustrated to really answer that for myself. Or perhaps I do know the answer, and simply dislike what it represents to me.

Regardless, there’s no point in thinking about it any further. It’ll all be meaningless in the end, after all.

“Goodnight, Akira.”

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/2/21)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:01 am

After all, she’s the one who left him without letting him weigh in on the matter, or even the opportunity to say a proper goodbye, from the looks of things. At least Lilly granted me that much, even if it did little to ease the feeling of abandonment.
Not sure where Hisao got that from. The conversation he overheard had nothing about Akira not giving him a chance to say goodbye.
Conversely it was Lilly who probably would not have given Hisao a chance to say goodbye if Akira had not clued him in in time.
The simple fact that Akira did that for Hisao makes it seem very unlikely that she would not have been at least as considerate towards her own boyfriend.
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.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

MoashLannister
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Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/2/21)

Post by MoashLannister » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:16 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:01 am
After all, she’s the one who left him without letting him weigh in on the matter, or even the opportunity to say a proper goodbye, from the looks of things. At least Lilly granted me that much, even if it did little to ease the feeling of abandonment.
Not sure where Hisao got that from. The conversation he overheard had nothing about Akira not giving him a chance to say goodbye.
Conversely it was Lilly who probably would not have given Hisao a chance to say goodbye if Akira had not clued him in in time.
The simple fact that Akira did that for Hisao makes it seem very unlikely that she would not have been at least as considerate towards her own boyfriend.
Ah that, well I think I explained that in the earlier conversation with Akira and her ex. "Said that it was pointless to go on and left for another country the next day. Any of those things ringing a bell?”

I suppose I could have reworded either the inner monologue or the conversation a little better, to showcase that Akira's final days before leaving for Scotland wasn't too dissimilar to Lilly's own. As for Akira telling Hisao back then...well they simply weren't as close back then, so Akira thought nothing of telling him as opposed to her then boyfriend. At least, that was my mentality while writing that particular bit.

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Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/2/21)

Post by Razoredge » Sun Feb 14, 2021 2:30 pm

The only thing I need to say is : They need to stay together. They need it. Your writing, buddy, is, as always, very good. Knowing that Akira will leave when Hisao told her she loves her, and she basically told him the same thing, just make me curious about how the situation would be resolved. About how they would come with a situation to fix this mess. And they deserve a solution.

But, whatever you'll do, I'm curious to see the next chapters. I really like this story, because of your writing style, obviously, and because Akira too. Once again, you did a good job.
Lilly = Akira > Miki = Hanako > Emi > Rin > Shizune

Stuff I'm currently writing : Beyond the haze : A Lilly Satou pseudo-route, Lullaby of an open heart : A Saki pseudo-route & Sakura Blossom : A way with Hisao

MoashLannister
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Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/2/21)

Post by MoashLannister » Thu Apr 15, 2021 8:02 am

Chapter 8

Sleep doesn’t come easily to me that night, but it does come eventually. If anything, it’s a blessing that I could rest at all, despite the fact that it would mean the arrival of that dreadful tomorrow.

Unfortunately, after a period of blissful unconsciousness I find myself awake thanks to a rather annoying alarm. Opening my eyes, I feel the glare of the sun assaulting me. Today is not off to a great start, and I have a sinking feeling that it’s only going downhill from here.

I immediately look to the other side of the bed. Akira’s not there, which just drives another small bit of depressing realization into me. She’s probably still here, but it’s just another reminder that whatever joy I found in spending time with her is effectively going to be buried today.

“Morning,” I hear her voice call out, though with far less emotion than usual. It’s only then that I realize that she’s sitting on my work desk, her hand on her cheek. She looks much more energized than yesterday due to getting some sleep, and she’s even giving me a small smile, though it’s probably forced. “You really couldn’t afford a dining table and some chairs?”

I’m caught off guard by the sudden jab at my living space, but it’s probably her trying to make things as friendly as possible before leaving. Might as well play along, I guess. “Didn’t really see the point, considering I’m always the only one here.” I respond as I get up from bed, groaning slightly. “Maybe if you’d come over more…”

That last sentence wasn’t said in desperation or a genuine belief that she would change her mind about things. It’s simply something I said for the sake of meaningless conversation, which she also seems to realize.

“Yeah well...you know…” Akira brushes off my comment before standing up. “So, breakfast?”

“Breakfast.” I repeat the word in agreement and get up from the bed, sleepily stumbling to the fridge. I pull out some milk and cereal, along with two bowls and two spoons from a cupboard. I’ve never pulled out food for more than one person since I moved in here. Maybe I really should invite someone over sometime…

I pour some milk and cereal into each bowl and put the milk back into the fridge. Turning to face Akira, I hand her one, feeling mildly embarrassed that this is the best I can do for her. “It’s not hotel food, but it’s better than nothing…” I say, trying to play down the fact that all I can do is give her such a crappy meal for staying over.

“Thanks," Akira says, sounding genuinely appreciative as she grabs the bowl and spoon. Sitting on my bed, we eat in silence for a bit, slowly letting the fact that these are our last moments together sink in. The last moments before we’re sucked back into the routine of our everyday lives, unyielding in its demands.

“So…classes today?” she asks, breaking the silence. Again, she’s probably not interested and simply wants to have a conversation for conversation's sake.

“Yeah,” I answer, hating the fact that this is all we’re able to do now. “Until late in the afternoon, then I’ve got to work at my internship. Hearing a hundred people tell me what to do, and being expected to do a hundred different things at once.”

“You’ll get by.” Akira gives me a comforting smile as she says that. “I did, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t.”

I want to tell her that I didn’t simply want to “get by”, but there would be no point in saying that. “What about you?” I ask instead. “How long do you have until…”

“My flight?” she finishes for me, and lets out a sigh. “Afternoon, around two or three. I’ll have to go back and pack my things, then I’m heading straight to the airport. Not like there’s anyone in the office who’d wish me goodbye, so good riddance.”

“I see…” I let that statement hang in the air awkwardly, looking down. “Well, I’ll need to change and head for the bus station.”

“Don’t wanna be late for class," Akira says in a joking manner, before handing her bowl to me. “Next time someone sleeps over, offer them a better breakfast. Not that I hate cereal, but you really can do better. Portable stoves aren’t that hard to find.”

“I’ll think about it," I say as I take the bowl and head towards the faucet, washing them before setting them back into the cupboard. Every second of every action makes me want to stop doing what I’m doing and simply...stand there, as if I can convince time itself to stop if I simply did nothing.

Unsurprisingly, reality doesn’t work that way, so I don’t stop. As I finish cleaning everything, I turn back towards Akira and say in a quiet tone. “I...need to change.”

“Then change,” she responds plainly, raising an eyebrow. “I’ve seen you naked and you’ve seen me naked, no need to be so embarrassed. If you want to get some privacy, last time I checked the bathroom’s still over there.”

Realizing she’s right, I head to the wardrobe and pick out the clothes I wish to wear for the day. Despite what she said, there’s a clear blush on my face as I strip off my clothing, Akira staring at me all the while. I quickly put on my clothes and throw my old ones in a corner someplace, to be collected and washed at a later date.

“Honestly, I’m surprised you did that,” Akira admits, chuckling a little. “Not that I mind.”

“Like you said, we’ve already seen each other naked,” I respond calmly as I start taking my medications, my mind recalling the night we spent at her hotel room. Such a weird experience, and one born out of our mutual frustration, but I still find it a fond memory.

A fond memory that’ll soon be like all the others; holding little meaning in the end, its only value being nostalgia and a pointless question of, “Should I have done things differently?”

“We’ve done a lot of things together, huh?” Akira says as I’m taking another pill. “Honestly, we’ve done more in a week than I’ve done with...pretty much anyone else in two years. And yet I still wish we could have done a little more, ya know?”

“Yeah,” I respond in agreement as I take my last pill, heading over to my desk to pick up my bag. “But we can’t think about that now, can we?”

“I suppose so.” Akira stares at me, her eyes wavering as she gives me some sort of expression. Guilt? Regret? Acceptance? “Ready to go?”

My answer to that question is to walk towards the door, opening it without turning back.

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The wait for the bus is mostly silence between us, any will to carry out conversation dissipating after that breakfast. When it finally arrives, we board the crowded vehicle and squeeze ourselves in, not a single word said. What was there to say, anyways?

It’s only until we pass by a couple of stops when Akira finally decides to say something. “Do you still mean what you said yesterday? About not wanting me to leave?”

I turn to face her, my expression a suspicious one. What is she trying to get out of me by asking that? Does she really want me to express that opinion one last time before leaving, as if to rub salt into the wound?

God, am I already resentful of her? I can’t help but kick myself for thinking like that, but at the same time it does nothing to change it.

“I do,” I answer, and say nothing else. I don’t trust myself to say anything that wouldn’t hurt her, or myself for that matter.

“I appreciate it, Hisao. I really do," Akira says in a somber tone, but also a grateful one. “It’s probably the first time in a long while that I really feel like I don’t want to leave. But I’m sorry, I can’t stay…”

“I know,” I acknowledge, already feeling tired despite the fact that the day’s only beginning. “We have responsibilities, after all.”

“Yeah, that’s what being an adult is like," Akira says before chuckling. It isn’t her usual playful chuckle, but one that’s trying to wring some enjoyment out of this. “Kids have it easy, being able to believe that they can do whatever they want and be whoever they want to be. But eventually every kid has to grow up.”

“Life isn’t a fairytale,” I mutter, the phrase suddenly popping in my head. “I think I’ve heard that phrase somewhere.”

“I think I’ve said that exact line before, back when I still lived here. Maybe that’s where you’ve heard it,” Akira answers, her recollection seemingly better than mine. “Funny, it’s only been a few years since I left Japan, and yet that time feels like it was an eternity ago.”

“Really? To me it only feels like yesterday that I was still in Yamaku, or back in my old highschool...” I confess after thinking about it. “Time feels so...fast sometimes. Too fast.”

“I guess how you see it depends on whether or not you want to relive your past.” As the bus stops once again, her face shows a deep frown. “Speaking of time being too fast, this is your stop, isn’t it?”

I look out the window in surprise. This is indeed my stop, which means what little time I have left with her is running out. Any other time, I would have been grateful to finally get out of the bus. Now I don’t want to even move a step.

Akira seems to notice my hesitation. “Hey…” She calls out to me. “It’s been fun, Hisao. But it’s time to go.”

And so it ends, not with a friendly hug, not even with a quip or a snark. Just a brief dismissal, a way to make this as painless as possible. Our little fling has run its course, and now it’s time to move on…

“Yeah," I say at last, stepping out of the bus. I turn back to look at Akira, who gives me a short wave and a smile. The best goodbye she could give, and one I return with a smile of my own, painful as it is to do so. The bus begins to move on, unsympathetic to our plight, and eventually I can no longer see her.

Now, and perhaps forever.

My forced smile turning into a defeated sigh, I turn and walk towards the college. It’s over, so there’s nothing left for me to do but to move on.

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“Morning, man,” Toshiro says as I enter class. He and Sayumi are the only ones here, looking at a textbook together. While I've occasionally seen Sayumi here when I enter, this is the first time I’m seeing him come here so early. “How are ya?”

“All right.” I lie as I take a seat just above them. “Why are you up so early?”

“Well, Dad just ‘fired’ me yesterday,” Toshiro complains angrily, nearly slamming his fist on his desk. “Said I wasn’t needed at the bakery, that I should focus more on my studies and crap like that. After the hundredth time, I stopped paying attention.”

“You know why he did that," Sayumi says in a placating manner, putting an arm on his shoulder. “Your grades are slipping, and your dad wants you to graduate. You know how much getting a diploma means to him.”

“Yeah, doesn’t mean I have to like it...” Toshiro grumbles and lets out a sigh, turning around to look me in the eye. “Hey, Hisao?”

“Mm?” I respond, barely paying attention to the conversation. All I really want at the moment was for the day to end. Everything else along the way is superfluous.

“What would you do if you were in my shoes? My dad wants me to get a diploma, then a real job, but all I really want to be is a baker. What should I do?” He sound serious, his face looking like he’s in deep thought. “Like, I know it’s a bit of an odd question, but…”

I simply give him a shrug as an answer. I don’t know what his situation is, so I really wouldn’t know how to answer him. What he does with his life is entirely his decision, with the only answer I can possibly give him if I really was in his situation being two very simple words: “Get by.”

“I thought so.” Toshiro exclaims once it’s made clear that I’m not going to give him an answer, letting out another sigh as he turns his head back. “I asked the others the same thing and they answered the same way. Guess I’m the only one who can really decide, huh?”

There’s a gloomy silence after that, one that I thought would last until the class finally begins.

“Hisao, Sayumi,” Toshiro calls out after a while, suddenly breaking the silence. Sayumi looks at him with a curious look on her face. “I think...I think I know what to do. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, but I think I’m going to focus on getting a diploma.”

While I don’t really react to his answers, Sayumi seems to react in a mix of surprise. “Toshiro…are you sure?” she asks, sounding uncertain.

“It’s not what you think.” Toshiro turns to face his girlfriend, and there’s a slight smile on his face. What could possibly be the reason for that smile? “I’m going to get a diploma, then I’m going to convince my dad to give me a full-time job at the bakery.

“I’ve been fighting with my old man, saying I don’t need a diploma because I want to be a baker. We’ve gone back and forth, neither of us really listening to the other side and neither of us really being happy with how things have turned out. I used to smile at my dad every day, now it’d be lucky if we even manage to have a normal conversation without turning into another damn argument. So, I figure I should meet him halfway.”

“So you’re going to get a diploma to please him?” Sayumi asks. “Is that why you asked me to meet you here so early?”

“Yeah, sorry I didn’t tell you, but I was sort of unsure about the whole thing.” Toshiro brushes the back of his hair in embarrassment. “It feels like for the first time, I’m focusing on something I don’t really feel like I should be doing, so it kinda seems...off? I don’t know.”

“Well, the fact that you’re studying at all is definitely off to me,” Sayumi comments with a giggle. “You sure you’re MY Toshiro?”

“I am, trust me.” Toshiro gives Sayumi a light jab on the shoulder, the couple laughing like it’s the funniest thing in the world. “But after I get my diploma, I’m going to demand my dad to give me a job there, no exceptions. No matter what, being a baker is what I want to do. And if it means I have to go through another year and a half of studying, then bring it on.”

“I’ll be sure to help you," Sayumi says in an assuring tone. “You need it, trust me. Besides, Hisao can also help you out, since he’s an ace student and all. Right, Hisao?”

The two of them turn to me, their eyes hopeful. All I can offer them is a nod, which they accept with a grateful look.

“Thanks, man,” Toshiro exclaims. “I’m really grateful for your help, so if you ever want anything from my ba...from my old man’s bakery, it’s on me. Every time, if you really want it.”

“What, nothing for your girlfriend?” Sayumi says, pretending to be angry. “Wow, why don’t you date Hisao while you’re at it?”

“Aw, come on, you’re friends with my parents. You get all the free bread you want,” Toshiro complains, which only causes Sayumi to turn away in mock offense.

As the two continue to playfully bicker, I couldn’t help but bring my attention to his answer. He’s willing to compromise with his father by using his diploma as a bargaining chip, but he still wants to be a baker despite it. He doesn’t even know if his father would agree to his terms, so why is he doing it without that knowledge?

Is he so confident that he’ll gain his father’s permission to work full time if he does this? That can’t be it. From what little I know of their situation, his father is adamant about him using that diploma to get a job. So why?

Or perhaps he’s willing to risk that compromise if it means a chance of doing what he’s passionate about. It’s not that he doesn’t think it’ll fail, it’s that he doesn’t care so long as there’s a chance...

Is that really it? The idea of attempting something without even knowing if there’s a chance of success seems so ludicrous to me.

Sayumi and Toshiro continue to have a lively conversation, with me joining in when prompted. I’m not really in the mood to talk, but it’d be rude to just stay silent to them. Eventually the rest of the class starts to trickle in, including Mr. Tatsunagi himself. I notice that he looks different, having a different haircut and having shaved his face.

“Good morning, class," he says at the exact second when class is supposed to begin. “Today we’ll be discussing chaos theory, as well as revise on some lessons in the earlier classes, since there seems to be some gaps in most of your understanding of how Physics work.”


Despite being my favorite lecturer, I can’t bring myself to pay attention to the class or even take notes. All I can really do is listen to his words as he speaks, trying to be attentive, only for my apathy to push it all down. It’s just one class out of countless, a part of me reasons, I can afford to not pay attention just this once.

“Hisao?” A voice whispers from below me. Looking down, I notice that it’s Takeshi. “You all right? You look out of it.”

“It’s nothing,” I reply in an emotionless whisper. “I’m fine.”

“Really? It’s not like you not to pay attention in class," he states, disregarding the fact that he isn’t paying attention either. “Seriously, is something wrong?”

“No,” I lie, not wanting to tell him what was troubling me. If he knew, he’d laugh at me at best, or offer me some useless advice at worst. “It’s nothing.”

“All right then…” Takeshi says, obviously unconvinced. Thankfully, he doesn’t continue the conversation and insteads turns his head back to face the lecture. I almost want to thank him for dropping it so quickly.

Time seems to be agonizingly slow as I periodically look at my watch, hoping it jumps another minute every time. Any attempts to pretend that I was invested in the class is completely gone, leave me impatient for it to end. And then…

And then nothing. More classes, a job shift, and the end of the day. That’s what awaits me for today, and for the days to come. Maybe hanging out with Sayumi and the others will change my mind, but the future is looking rather...dull.

“Try to embrace your life a little more, eh? Things aren’t always as bad as they seem; just because you get knocked down a lot doesn’t mean you just stay on the ground.”

I don’t know why those words from Akira suddenly pop into my head, especially now. But they continue to stick in my head, as if they can help with my mood. I’ve embraced my life now, having people that I can call acquaintances, and even friends, a far cry from before. Isn’t that embracing my life? Isn’t that good enough?

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I keep mulling over that question to the point where I don’t even notice the class ending, or even Mr. Tatsunagi calling my name. “Nakai," he says sternly, snapping me back into reality to face him, his face looking more curious than offended. “I would like to have a word with you. The rest of you are dismissed.”

All I can do is nod in embarrassment as the rest of the class begins to make their exit. As I get out of my seat to face him, Sayumi calls out to me right as I walk past her and the others. “Hey, Hisao? We’ll go ahead to the cafeteria. Meet you there?”

I turn back to face them. They’re looking at me with genuine worry on their faces, even if I’m only someone they just started to allow into their social circle. Without thinking, I try to give them a reassuring smile. Even if it’s false, they deserve more than a blank stare or a scowl.

“Yeah, say hi to Daisuke for me,” I answer, trying to sound friendly. “If you can, buy my lunch for me. I’ll pay you back when I get there.”

“You got it,” Kazuma answers, returning my smile with his own. Despite my attitude, I can’t help but feel a little less depressed. The fact that there are people who care for me for no real reason other than empathy is a rather nice thought.

I walk down with them to the front of the class, parting ways as they head for the exit while I head for the lecturer’s desk. Mr. Tatsunagi is looking at some papers as I walk up, and I immediately notice the large black binder just beside him. His divorce papers.

“Hisao.” He addresses me as I stop right in front of his desk, not looking up from his papers. “You weren’t paying attention in class today.

“I’m sorry,” I apologize immediately. “I wasn’t in the best state of mind. I know that isn’t an excuse, and I’ll promise not to re-”

“I know, there’s no need to apologize.” Mr. Tatsunagi finally looks up at me, and I get a better look at how different he is. His demeanor seems more refreshed compared to what I’m used to, as if he somehow went back in time.

Even his voice seems a bit more energetic than usual. It isn’t just the haircut or shave that’s the cause, but something that led to those physical and mental changes.

“It didn’t take a lot to realize that you weren’t in the best of moods, I believe the whole class would have noticed if they looked at you,” he continues, smiling despite the fact that he should be reprimanding me. “Were it any other student, I might have been a little harsher. But you’re my best performing student, and as biased as it may seem, you’re allowed some leniencies because of it.”

“Thank you,” I answer, not really feeling grateful. “Still, I promise it won’t happen again.”

“On that note, what’s bothering you?” he asks, no longer focusing on his papers and directing his full attention at me. “Perhaps I’m overstepping my bounds, but it’s not like you to be so out of sorts during class. Did something happen?”

“Yes,” I respond, not saying anything more. It feels wrong to admit what’s really bothering me today, especially to him. He’s dealing with a divorce, I’m just dealing with a brief encounter.

“Something important?” he asks again, sounding genuinely curious. “If you need to talk about it, feel free to do so. After all, you know what I’m going through, it’s only fair if I listen in return.”

“No, nothing important," I say, shaking my head. It’s not even a lie, considering how trivial my problem is. Realistically speaking, it shouldn't have been an issue in the first place. “...It’s hard to explain, but I suppose I’m making something out to be bigger than it is.”

“I see,” Mr. Tatsunagi says, obviously not believing me. “Well, my offer stands. Especially considering the other reason I called you here.”

I raise my eyebrow in mild confusion, though I have some idea of what that other reason is, considering he brought his divorce documents here, and with me being one of the only people with that knowledge. I look at him without saying anything, waiting for what he intends to reveal.

“I’ve reached a decision, and I was hoping to have someone hear me out on a personal matter,” Mr. Tatsunagi admits with a fond smile. “I’ve decided to try and make amends with my ex-wife and son for failing them. Yesterday I got back in contact with them after some attempts, and my ex-wife is amenable to having a face-to-face discussion on how we should proceed.”

I don’t know how to react to that news at first, but in the end all I can do is be happy for him. “That sounds great, Mr. Tatsunagi.”

“Please, class is over. It’s Hisato,” he insists with a laugh. Not a soft chuckle, but a loud laugh full of energy, the first time I’ve heard something like that come out of him. “It feels weird, a few days ago I was lamenting having anything to do with my family, but now I’m almost...welcoming it. I’d call it ironic, but I’ve had colleagues lambast me over my misuse of the word.”

“What changed?” I ask, now genuinely curious. A difference in mentality isn’t something that changes by itself. Something must have happened to cause it. “Did something happen?”

“That’s the funny part, Hisao,” Mr. Tatsunagi says, laughing again. “Nothing happened! Nothing at all! It’s like a particle suddenly manifesting in the void of space; it just is.”

“I don’t understand.” I look on in complete confusion as he continues to laugh, seeming like a different person entirely.

“Ah, I’d imagine you wouldn’t, given how I’m laughing like a madman," he says, before taking a moment to compose himself, his laughter subsiding. “But I do speak the truth when I said that nothing really happened to cause this, apart from a lot of thinking on my end.

“Nakai, the fact that I’ve been a horrible husband and father is an undeniable truth. That past is something that will not change, and I have no intention of trying to hide the past. However, I realize that that doesn’t mean I cannot make up for those mistakes in the present. Do you recall that I said that I chose this job in order to chase after a passion I once had?”

I nod in response, that memory vividly coming back to me. It seems that my time with Akira isn’t the only thing that I can recall better than the past year or so.

“Well, the truth is that I wanted to be a teacher in my early years of college.” He sounds guilty, as if confessing a sin. “My wife, though this is before we married, was supportive of that idea. But I choose not to pursue it. For a multitude of different reasons, really. But the one I held onto the most was the fact that choosing to be a scientist would provide more for my future family.”

“That makes sense," I say, thinking about it a little more. It’s hard to think of him as once my age, especially with how different our college lives seem to be. He was in a relationship then, I was not. He was thinking for when he would have a family, I was thinking of having a job for the sake of having a job.

“Yes, financially speaking,” He agrees. “But for all the wealth we had, it meant nothing for the state of our marriage. After taking up a job, there’s only one important moment where I was truly there for them: the birth of our child. I might as well have been a ghost otherwise, merely existing to provide them with more money than they needed or wanted.”

Mr. Tatsunagi lets out a sigh after saying that, leaning back into his chair. “I used to be a loudmouth back in my youth, if my penchant for speeches didn’t tip you off. Do you find it offputting?”

“No,” I answer honestly. For as long-winded as he can be, I never found myself bored or univested, my lack of attention in class today notwithstanding.

“Good! It proves that some part of the old me is still present," he says in relief, as if he’s trying to reassure himself. “I refuse to sit idly by any longer, Hisao. Time is something I’ve not given much to them, and I intend to make up for that, if they’ll allow me. Even if they don’t, the fact that I tried is what’s important, and I’ll accept their decision if I fail to win them over.”

The fact that he’s trying is worth the risk, even if it fails. Another thing that seems so strange to me. Don’t you attempt something with the assumption that you’ll succeed? Or at the very least, with the intention to?

“Ah, I apologize. I seem to be using you as a means to vent again,” Mr. Tatsunagi says before laughing again, though this time he keeps it to a low chuckle. This is easily the most I’ve seen him laugh at once. “I’ll make it up for you, I promise. In fact, I intend to meet with some old friends at a Korean place in a few days. You’re free to attend, and I’ll completely pay for the expenses.”

“I can’t possibly accept--” I say, trying to refuse politely. Not that I wasn’t touched by his offer, but simply because...I don’t know, really. An inherent reluctance, I suppose.

“I insist, not as a teacher but as an acquaintance. Or a friend, if you’re willing to extend me the courtesy.” He picks up his papers and gets up, placing a hand on my shoulder in a surprisingly fatherly way. “In the class, we’re teacher and student. Out of it, well…that’s ultimately up to you, but I would like to consider you a part of my circle of friends, as small as that circle currently is.”

I can’t really say I’m shocked, but it definitely is an odd feeling about this situation. Nevertheless, it’d be extremely rude of me to respond otherwise. Whether I’m putting up a facade or not, there’s really only one response in my mind.

“All right,” I respond, the words sounding more unimportant than I intended. “Assuming I’m not doing anything then, I accept your invitation, Mr...Hisato.”

“Good. I hope you like beef, because there’ll be a lot of it,” Mr. Tatsunagi says in a joking manner. We exchange numbers, and I agree to inform him on whether I’ll be available to join him. We exit the classroom conversing about classes, finally parting ways soon after.

As I head over to the cafeteria, I can’t help but think of things. A lot of things, almost too many. The fact that I have friends now without compromising my studies. I’m well on my way to graduating, with an internship to add to my resume. Life is...good, I can admit. And it’s getting better, and yet…

And yet...why can’t I feel satisfied at that?

“Why do you want me to stay?”

“Because I’ve fallen for you.”

“Do you really need me to spell it for you? I think I’ve might have...fallen for you too.”


Last night’s conversation begins playing in my head, our mutual confession. It’s illogical to think that two people could fall in love within the span of a week, and I’ve tried to convince myself of that time and again. And yet, what is this feeling of frustration, if not the fact that I do hold some affection for her? That I want her in my life?

I try to dismiss it by thinking of a simple fact; you can’t always get what you want in life.

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“Hey, Hisao?” A voice breaks me away from my thoughts again, but I can’t determine whose. I look up from my half-eaten food and see that everyone in the table is looking at me with curious eyes.

“Is...something wrong?” I ask, futilely hoping that it would convince them that nothing’s wrong.

“Only that you haven’t been talking, haven’t been eating, and are doing your best impression of a mannequin I’ve seen in quite some time. Bravo,” Daisuke says with no sense of pity or concern, leading the others to glare at him as usual. Ironically, he’s treating me how I would rather be treated; as if there isn’t a problem at all.

“Sorry. I’ve been thinking about some things,” I admit as I take another bite of my lunch, which has gone cold by now.

“Well, we won’t push you to talk,” Sora says, and it’s then that I realize that all their meals are finished. They’re probably waiting on me, which only makes me eat faster. “Just know that you can tell us if you want to.”

“Thanks…” I say looking at them. “But I don’t think you guys can help me, and it’s not that big of a problem anyways.”

“Not that big of a problem, eh?” Daisuke says curiously. “Well, I hope you’ll forgive me if I think you’re lying, but I think you’re lying. If it makes you not pay attention in class, or so I’ve been told by these other people, I’d say it’s a pretty big problem. Or perhaps a small problem, but a very personal one.”

I almost want to hate how on the mark he is, but in the end all I can do is confirm it. “Yeah, it’s a personal problem. But it’s nothing major, it’s just...not how I wish it’d turned out.”

“Ah, what a shame,” Daisuke says, dropping his jerkish facade for a second. “Can you fix it?”

That question hits me like a ton of bricks. Does waiting it out count as fixing it? I doubt it, but there’s nothing else that I can do, so I give the only appropriate answer. “I don’t know.”

“Do you want to?” Takeshi asks. “I don’t know what exactly is the problem, but I do know that if it’s affecting you this much, you should solve it. Or try to, at least.”

“Yeah,” Kazuma says, nodding his head in agreement. “I know what it’s like to have a problem lying around. Not a good feeling at all.”

“It’s not that simple." I try to think of how to explain it without being specific, fearing they’d think me foolish if I gave them the full details. “It’s not something that can simply be solved with a snap of my finger, especially now that it’s over.”

“What’s over?” Sayumi asks innocently, though she and the others are quick to back down after it’s clear that I’m not willing to answer.

“Hmm…do you want the problem to be solved? Not in a second or a day or even a month, but solved nevertheless?” Daisuke asks seriously, his question once again hitting dead center.

I answer with a silent nod, which only causes him to laugh. What is it with people and laughter today? “Well, I still don’t get your problem. But if you’re willing to accept this humble suggestion: do what you want to do. That’s all I’ll say on the matter. Now then, if you’ll excuse me I have better things to do than hang out with you lot. Namely, the progression of my blooming career.”

“Just say you’re going to class like a normal person,” Kazuma complains as all of them get up from their seats, with me joining them a second later.

“Ah, but it wouldn’t be as fun, now would it?” Daisuke responds cheekily before walking away with a wave. “I’ll see you people afterwards, assuming I don’t have better things to do.”

“Jerk…” Sora grumbles as we start to walk towards class together. “But he has a point. It’s almost one, so we need to get going to classes.”

I don’t know why, but I look at my watch to confirm. Indeed, it is almost one in the afternoon, which means…

“Afternoon, around two to three. I’ll have to go back and pack my things, then I’m heading straight to the airport.”

Almost two hours left…

“Do you want to stay here?” “Yes.”

That one answer, above all others, rang loudest in my head today. She wants to stay here. Perhaps not because of me, but it would mean her being here with me regardless of the reason. I thought that simple desire wouldn’t be enough to convince her to stay, and yet…

I clench my fisting, knowing that I still have time. Time to convince her to stay; maybe not immediately, but someday. It’s a reckless and illogical decision to make, but it’s the only one with a chance of giving me a happy conclusion. Should I even take that chance? Without even coming to a conclusion, I take out my phone and dial her number. All I’m met with is a voicemail greeting.

Which means that if I really want to tell her, I’d have to do something even more irrational. In a way, to chase after her would mean abandoning the mindset I’ve built up over the past year, one that dictates responsibility and conformity as my highest values. Am I really going to throw that all away for a chance, not even a guarantee, of trying to convince her?

Do I value her enough to throw away all that? To throw away conventional logic and do something that would come off as irrational, possibly insane?

I stop the instant I find an answer, the rest of the group turning back to me in confusion. Before they can say anything, I say in an apologetic tone. “There’s someplace I need to...there’s someplace I want to be, so you guys go ahead to class.”

“Hisao?” Kazuma says with a raised eyebrow. “Are you...going to skip class?”

“Most likely,” I answer, even those two words sound like blasphemy to my ears. I’ve not missed a single class since I entered college, but there’s a first time for everything I suppose. “Sorry…”

The others take it better than I do. “Hey, do what you gotta do,” Toshiro says, even giving me a thumbs up. “Hope it turns out all right for you, Hisao. I mean it. Just make sure you’re still around for our study group.”

The rest of them voice similar sentiments, and I can’t help but smile. I’m glad I managed to meet them; a feeling that may change with time, but a feeling I wish to keep in the present. We go our separate ways, and as I walk past the college doors, I still can’t quite believe that I’m doing this.

But I’m already on this path, so I might as well see it through.

My walk turns into a brisk run towards the street, and I can’t help but feel like I’m not just running away from classes. I’m running away from my duties, my obligations, the things that I need to do to prove I’m worth something to society. And yet I feel...exhilarated? Not even the knowledge that it’s an illogical emotion prevents me from embracing it, pushing me forwards.

It’s true that I’m running away, but to run away from something is to go towards another. And right now, what I want to go towards is to chase down these fleeting feelings I have.

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Thirty-three minutes. It’s been thirty-three minutes since I’ve left, and yet I’m still wondering if I’m really doing this or not. The taxi hasn’t moved an inch in the past five, thanks to the heavy traffic, though seeing the driver’s face from the rear view mirror tells me that he’s rather calm about the whole thing.

I, on the other hand, am not. As the vehicle finally starts to move again, I check my watch for what is possibly the hundredth time, tapping my feet in a desperate attempt to remain calm. It’s now half an hour past one; another thirty minutes left before she’s gone.

“Trying to catch up to a flight?” the driver asks, probably sensing my impatience.

“No,” I respond as the taxi stops yet again, every delay making me feel as if my heart is what has stopped. “I’m just...trying to catch up.”

The driver doesn’t inquire any further, leaving me to my thoughts again. By now, classes would be well underway, and I wonder if the lecturer will even notice my absence. For once, I don’t care if I’m simply forgotten. Instead, my mind races at all the possible scenarios I’ll face when I finally get to the airport, though there’s little doubt that Akira will chew me out if I manage to meet her there.

If I manage to meet her there…

I can’t help but find this situation funny. There’s a lot of questions on my mind: Will I even manage to find her? What will I say once I do? Will she even listen, let alone agree with me? And what do I do afterwards? And yet, none of those questions worry me in the slightest right now.

Not only that, I’m eager to find out the answers, whether those answers are something I want or not. The feelings of anxiety or doubt I expected to manifest are instead feelings of impatience and anticipation. Perhaps it’s because I’m doing something so bizarrely out of character for me, or perhaps it’s simply that I’m doing what I wish to do, risks be damned.

For the first time in a long time, I feel free. Free of anything forced upon me, free of simply going through the motions of what society expects of me. Whatever may come of this admittedly irrational escapade, I’ll face the result on my own terms.

As the taxi finally makes some headway through traffic, I check my watch yet again. It’s been thirty-five minutes, and the sight of the word “airport” on a road sign manages to reassure me that I might not yet be too late. I’ve still got time.

I should really think about what to say to her, and yet I feel as if I don’t need to. I already know what I wish to say to her, and all I can do is hope she listens.

As the airport comes into sight, I feel like I want to stop the car right then and there and sprint towards it at full speed. Of course, I still have some common sense remaining, so I disregard that ridiculous idea. I’ve still got time.

After what seems like an eternity, we stop at the entrance to the departure hall. I quickly pay the fare and get out, rushing into the building like a madman. I take one last look at my watch and see that it’s forty minutes past one, and decide to walk just a little bit faster.

The place is large and densely populated, which means finding her is going to be hard. I start by walking towards the various counters before moving to the waiting areas, moving and pushing past people all the while. If she’s already checked in her flight, there’s a chance that she’s already gone past security, in which case she’s already out of reach.

I press on regardless, allowing myself to hope that I’ll find her. That she hasn’t left yet. That she won’t immediately blow me off. As crazy as it seems to me, if I see her from far away, I might actually shout her name to catch her attention. An idea as dumb as it is amusing.

I don’t know why, but I’m certain that I’m going to find her. At this point, I’ve no reason to question the illogicality of things anymore. All I want to do is to find her, and so I simply believe that I will. Blind faith is something I never really understood, and yet it’s all that’s keeping me going.

I wade past another group of people, circling the hall again. Each minute that passes makes me move just a little bit faster, feel just a little bit more nervous. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest, though mercifully it doesn’t seem to be causing me any pain. The idea of having a heart attack while I’m so close to reaching her is unpleasant, to say the least.

Yet despite my bravado, I can feel doubt trying to seep in, telling me that she’s long gone.

As I make yet another desperate round of searching, I find myself slowing down, a part of my mind wanting me to stop my search in order to make myself see sense, to make me see that what I’m doing is completely wrong.

And then I find her right in front of me.

She’s just sitting there on an iron bench in the middle of an intersection, luggage right in front of her. For a moment I think my eyes are playing tricks on me, trying to make me see what I want to see. Believing you’ll do something and actually managing to succeed can feel very discongruent sometimes, as it does now.

But no, it’s her. She’s right in front of me, and I’ve finally managed to find her. Such a simple act, and yet it feels like I’ve scaled a mountain. And as Akira turns her head to look at her surroundings, she spots me as well.

She looks genuinely caught off guard, her mouth even hanging open as she continues to stare at me with widened eyes, probably feeling the same sense of disbelief I have. As I slowly make my way towards her, she slowly returns to a more casual and stoic expression, neither one of gratitude or anger.

Thankfully, the seat beside her is unoccupied, allowing me to sit beside her. We don’t say anything as I catch my breath, feeling my racing pulse slow down to normal. We don’t even look at each other as I stare at the countless people passing us by. Of all the people in the world, of all the roads that could have crossed, it just so happened to be ours that did. That should mean something, shouldn’t it?

“Sorry,” I manage to say at last, not specifying what I’m apologizing for, probably because there’s too many things to be sorry about.

“Silly. You don’t need to be,” Akira replies, and as I face her I see she’s giving me a sad smile. “Let me guess, you tried calling me first.”

“Yeah…” I admit with a laugh. “I’m glad you didn’t pick up though. I think saying what I want to say would work better in person.”

“Well...I’ve got about twenty minutes, give or take," she mentions before leaning back. I want to hold her hand, to move closer to her, to do anything but simply sit beside her. But I know that she wants to keep her distance from me, so all I can do is use my words. “So, what do you want to say?”

“Stay.” I put it as simply as I can. No need for a long speech, no need for elaborate reasoning. For me, just pouring all my emotions into that single word is enough. “I want you to stay here with me. I don’t want you to leave and never come back.”

“Well, you’re certainly doing a good job of letting me know now,” Akira responds, chuckling. For a moment I wonder if she’s taking me seriously, but once the laughter stops it’s clear that she isn’t taking this lightly. “You know I want to stay here too, but I can’t.”

“Not today,” I agree. “But there’s always the future. Maybe it won’t happen in a few weeks, or a few months, or even a few years, but I know you can change your life to what you want it to be. Akira, I don’t want you to move on if it means you’ll be miserable. I want your life to be happy, and I want to be a part of that life. Not just for a short moment, but for a lifetime.”

It’s pretty audacious for me to say that, but it wasn’t hyperbole. I want to be a part of her future, and I want her to be happy. If that sounds vain or arrogant, then it’s a small price to pay if it means conveying my feelings with the weight they deserve.

“Hisao...I’m happy that you came out here to say that. It’s not everyday where a guy chases me down to tell me something like that," Akira says gratefully, though I can hear she still isn’t convinced. “But I can’t possibly do that. Maybe I can move back to Japan, but there’s all sorts of things to consider. My job, my family, where I’ll live and how I’ll adjust. That all takes time and effort, I can’t possibly ask you to give up that much for my sake.”

“You don’t need to,” I respond reassuringly, finally mustering the courage to place my hand on top of hers. “I’ll wait, simply because I want to. No matter how long it takes, or how many things need to be settled. As long as you’re reaching out towards me, I’ll be waiting for you on the other end. You’ve convinced me to live my life a little, now I want to convince you to live yours how you want to, and damn anyone who tells you otherwise.”

My last sentence causes her to laugh, and as I turn my head to face her I see that a tear is rolling down her face. It’s only a single one, but I can’t help but be awestruck to see her crying, her lips stretched into a wide and genuine smile. It’s a sight that I’ll never forget.

“I don’t know when you got so pushy, but I’m glad you are. And I’m glad you chased me down," Akira says softly, wiping the tear off her face before standing up. “But...I’ve got a flight to catch.”

I stand up beside her, the two of us looking at each other with a bit of uncertainty in our eyes. While I have some idea about the answer she’s going to give me, she can just as easily walk away from me. Staring at her in anticipation, I wait for what she’s going to say next. The final answer that determines the path we’re headed.

“All right Hisao, I’ll come back," she says firmly, and in that instant all my doubts seem to fade away. “I don’t know when, but I’ll definitely come see you again. We’ll work...something out together, one step at a time. As long as we both want this, I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t.”

I finally wrap my arms around her. It isn’t a desperate hug, but one that attempts to convey all my feelings for her. She returns it, placing her head on my shoulder and holding onto me as if her life depended on it. Regardless of what the future may hold for us, in this one present moment, I’m completely satisfied.

And for perhaps the first time, I can fully admit to myself that I’m in love with her.

As we part, Akira gives me a longing gaze. “I wish I could just stay like this with you, talk about how we’re going to handle...us, I suppose, but I’ve got a horde of angry people to deal with back in Scotland. Wouldn’t be in my best interests to keep them waiting.”

“Yeah, I know," I say, this time with no hint of bitterness or disappointment. “But I also know you’re more than strong enough to deal with them. What’s another day with them in comparison?”

“Ah, you’re just buttering me up,” she responds, chuckling in amusement. “You’ll need to give me your phone number again, since I’ve been calling you with a company phone all this time. And just a bit of advice, let me do all the calling. You’ll be stuck eating instant noodles if you’re always calling a foreign number.”

“Couldn’t be any worse than the cereal I gave you earlier today,” I tease back, the tone of our conversation turning to how it used to be a scant few days ago, back when we were simply hanging out together without a care. However, along with that is something more, a subtle but unrestrained affection in our exchanges.

We no longer have to hide how we feel, and that in itself is more than worth whatever wait I have to endure to be able to see her again.

After giving her my phone number, Akira gives me another hug. A briefer one this time, but appreciated all the same. “I’ll give you a call once I settle down in Inverness. Don’t you dare leave me hanging, you hear?”

“Wouldn’t even think about it,” I respond heartily. As much as I hate to see her leave, the knowledge of her return is more than enough to remedy it. While it isn’t set in stone, I feel more sure of that than ever.

“Well, time to go…” Akira says reluctantly, backing away from me slightly. “Funny, getting away from you feels easier now, but also harder somehow.”

“Yeah, I know the feeling.” I reply before giving her an encouraging smile. “Go. I’ll be waiting, always.”

“Yeah, you’re committed all right. Or crazy, but I don’t care at this point.” She gives me one last look, as if she’s trying to capture my image to take back with her. “I’ll be seeing you, Hisao. Soon, if I have it my way, which I’ll damn well try to.”

And with that, she turns around and gives me a wave before walking away, luggage in hand. I linger on for a while, watching her blend into the crowd until she’s completely out of sight. The smile on my face refuses to fade.

Looking at my watch, I wonder what to do with the rest of my day, though I’ve more or less done what I wanted to do. Class isn’t an option anymore, but I’ll still have time to take a cab back and make it to my internship.

Just as quickly as that thought emerges, I just as quickly shut it down. It’ll probably earn me a reprimand when I go back; maybe I’ll even get fired. But just for today, I’m going to allow my wants to completely take over, and what I want is not to go back to that dull and dreadful environment, at least for now.

Is that childish of me? Yes, but my childishness is what makes me happy, that made me admit my true feelings and act on them. So I’m willing to embrace that side of me once again, little by little.

I don’t know how long I stayed at the airport, wandering around aimlessly. All I know is that as I leave the building, I take a look up at the sky, and the sun getting close to the horizon. A light that’s out of reach, but its radiance a necessity. Never close by, but beautiful nonetheless.

Staring at the horizon, I can’t help but feel that the future is now truly something to look forward to. There’s no need to rush towards it, I can simply take it a day at a time until that future inevitably comes.

And, for the first time, I feel certain that it’s one I’ll be satisfied with. Because it’s a future I choose to make for myself, not for anyone else. A flourishing education, a growing group of friends, and a budding relationship; all things to work on keeping on.

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The rest of the day goes by mundanely, not that I can complain after my little escapade. I mostly wander around the city once I get back, walking around with little direction or purpose. When I feel like I had enough of that, I immediately head home. No doubt Mr. Kurosawa is fuming at my absence, something I’ll bear the brunt of the moment I return to my internship.

Another problem for another time.

As I sit on my bed, I take a look around my apartment. Its emptiness is something I’ve tolerated, even enjoyed, but perhaps it’s time to do something about that. A touch-up here, some better furniture there, something to make this feel more like a real home as opposed to temporary lodgings, especially since I’m expecting a certain visitor in the future.

On the subject of doing something about my life, I take out my phone. It’s too early to expect a call from Akira just yet, but I open my contacts list and write two simple text messages. Another little step forwards.

“Hey, Toshiro. Wondering when you’ll want to start our Physics study group with the others. This Sunday afternoon, perhaps? -Hisao.”

“Hisato, when are you going to the barbeque place? I hope your invitation is still open. Also, there’s something Mr Kurosawa wanted me to give to you. -Hisao.”

Once that’s done, I take my medications and wash up before bed. But instead of laying on my bed and waiting for sleep to arrive, I decide to go to the balcony.

Looking at the beautiful view before me, I start laughing completely out of the blue, suddenly realizing something so unexpected that I can’t help but find it funny. The fact that, contrary to what I predicted, this day turned out alright after all.

I couldn’t be any happier that I was wrong.

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Razoredge
Posts: 180
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Location: Bordeaux, France

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/4/21)

Post by Razoredge » Fri Apr 16, 2021 2:01 pm

I have a feeling of deja-vu for a specific scene of this chapter. But the good kind. I love how you "rewrote" this particular scene, I would say it feels way better in your chapter. This feels like a good ending for the first act, maybe because I was expecting something painful. Yeah, I was expecting something like Hisao being torn apart because of Akira's decision. And I was pleasantly surprised to read this "deja-vu" scene, because it feels in its place. The only minor complain I would have would be Hisao over-apologizing for his personal problem. But I guess it's your take of the Master of Romance's behavior, so I respect that.

Now, I'm extremely curious to see how Akira and Hisao would build something together. Overall, it was an extremely pleasant read, as usual because I love your write style, and now, I can't wait to read the following chapters. Really good chapter, pleasant reading, and a good job. I liked that.
Lilly = Akira > Miki = Hanako > Emi > Rin > Shizune

Stuff I'm currently writing : Beyond the haze : A Lilly Satou pseudo-route, Lullaby of an open heart : A Saki pseudo-route & Sakura Blossom : A way with Hisao

MoashLannister
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 11:19 pm

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/4/21)

Post by MoashLannister » Sat May 15, 2021 8:07 am

Interlude 1 - Next To You, A World Away

Like most days, my morning starts with something forcing me to wake. Recently however, the sound that’s pulling me away from the clutches of slumber is not the beeping of an alarm clock, but the ringing of my phone. And unlike before, I react to that noise not with annoyance but with a feeling of content anticipation.

After all, the feeling of someone you care about calling shouldn’t be anything less than satisfying.

I take my phone, which I’ve been keeping closer to my bed as of late, and look at the screen to see if it’s her that’s calling, and it is. I smile as I accept the call, and position the phone so that the camera is facing me. In a few seconds, her face pops up on the screen. Akira looks tired, but the smile she’s giving me is genuine.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” she greets while rubbing her eyes, her voice sounding as pleasant as ever. From what little I can see of her surroundings, it seems that she’s already laying on her bed.

“Good evening, Akira,” I say in a sleepy tone, eager to start our usual conversation. Just one of the many things that’s recently been added to my daily life. “You’re a little early today.”

“I was hoping you wouldn’t notice,” Akira responds, her face pouting slightly. “But yeah, I had an exhausting day today, so I don’t think I’ll last long before passing out. Sorry...”

“Want to talk about it?” I offer as I sit up.

“Considering I couldn’t call you this morning, and considering what I had to go through? God, no,” Akira insists with a loud groan, one of the many signs that she’s in the comfort of her own home instead of in her office, the other place she usually calls me from. “Let’s talk about you, please. And nothing about college or internship, especially since your semester is just about over.”

“Well, I finally got a portable stove like you suggested, along with a frying pan,” I mention casually, glancing at the object laying on the floor, just next to the kettle. “So I can finally make something that isn’t instant noodles or canned soup.”

“About time. I was wondering if I needed to repeat myself,” Akira says with a wry smile, though her repeated insistence that I cook something for myself is only half the reason why I decided to buy one. The other being something I intend to tell her in the future. “Used it yet?”

“Yeah, I used it to make some eggs. I’m actually thinking of making them for breakfast today too,” I answer, feeling oddly proud of that fact I can finally make food for myself instead of relying on takeouts. “Keeping it simple for now, nothing fancy.”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly expecting restaurant level stuff from you anyway,” Akira teases playfully, her head sinking into the pillow she’s laying on. “How’s the beginning of winter treating you? Hopefully the cold isn’t making you freeze or anything.”

“I’ve adapted, though it’d be better if I had space for a kotatsu,” I respond, grateful for the fact that the heater in my apartment is working fine. “Honestly though, I don’t really like winter. Can’t wait till spring comes around.”

“Because of the cold?” Akira asks.

“Nah...it’s for a personal reason,” I answer bluntly, appreciative of the fact that I’m able to say it without any difficulty, a sign of how comfortable I am with her. “I know you probably want me to explain, but I don’t want to bring this conversation down, especially with the day you had. Another time, I promise.”

“...Alright, I suppose it’s only fair,” Akira answers after a pause. “I have some really good news to tell you, by the way. But it’ll have to wait until tomorrow, because I don't want to pass out without properly hearing how grateful you are.”

“I think I know what you have in mind,” I say, my smile growing at the possibilities. “But I’ll be patient and wait until you say it yourself, and then proceed to shower you with praise afterwards.”

“You better. I’m sure you’ll be over the moon about what I’ll tell you tomorrow,” Akira lets out a chuckle, then a large yawn. “Man, I really want this to go on longer, but I’m probably gonna pass out at any second. So this probably is goodnight.”

“It’s fine. There’s always tomorrow,” I reassure her, an optimism in my voice that’s been getting easier and easier to come by these days, especially with her.

“Yeah, I’ll definitely make sure to call you then. That’s a promise from me,” Akira says, sounding determined. “Hey, Hisao?”

“Yeah?” I answer, wondering what she wants to say before she goes.

She stays silent for a moment, simply staring at the camera with an uncertain smile on her face. “...Honestly, I was hoping you would say it first, but it’s been long enough and I can’t wait anymore so...I love you. There, I said it.”

I love you. A phrase that I haven’t heard in a long time. After I left my parents to go to college, it’s something I hadn’t thought I’d hear for a long time, if ever. Until now, Akira and I haven’t needed to say it to make our significance to each other clear, but hearing it for the first time is just another reminder that this isn’t something that’s trivial to her.

It’s a real, genuine relationship. One that may have had a flimsy foundation to exist, but one that we both wish to move on with nonetheless.

“I love you too, Akira,” I respond with the only answer possible, my smile widening. “And I’m sorry that I didn’t say it earlier.”

“Yeah, well...you better make up for it then,” Akira jabs, sounding both playful yet shy before returning to her normal casual self. “Don’t wait until I have to say it next time. Anyways, I’ll call you before you sleep, alright? Goodnight, Hisao.”

“Goodnight, and sleep well,” And with that, the screen showing her face turns black, leaving me to process the sense of elation I’m feeling right now.

It’s only been a little over a month since that fateful encounter at the airport, with a promise to see each other again. True to her word, Akira gave me a call the very next night, and once again insisted on calling every time afterwards. We didn’t talk about anything serious, or even directly acknowledge our newly established relationship. All we did during that first conversation was to ask things about one another, discuss some facets of our lives, and generally became comfortable with simply talking...

That first conversation lasted until well past midnight for me, and it only ended when Akira was forced to go back to work.

Even since then, we’ve had similar conversations almost every day, usually once in the morning and once during the night. We sometimes texted one another when we’re too busy for calls, though both of us agreed that an actual conversation was something that was vastly preferable than just words on a screen. After a bit of discussion with her, I’d even switched phones, installed a data plan, and made an online account on a communications program, all in order to be able to see her face.

A rather wasteful use of money and effort, some would say, but the feeling of seeing her smile when we used it for the first time was more than worth it. In a way, it’s a temporary substitute and a small step to what I really want; for her to be right next to me in reality.

But regardless of the method we used to communicate to each other, our conversations remained the same, talking about our days and some minor details about us that we didn’t share before: past memories, likes and dislikes, ideal scenarios, and other similar subjects. We both agreed about not having conversations be too personal or have anything that could sour what little time we had with each other. Those are to be saved for when we meet face to face.

Those conversations and rules might seem like insignificant things from an outsider’s perspective, but they’re crucial in getting to know one another, and to be closer from such a long distance apart. No matter how short the conversation ended up being, it was always the part of my day that I look forward to the most.

I still recall those first days since her departure, where I waited on every call with an unhealthy amount of anxiousness, secretly wondering if each one would be the last before cruel reality kicked in and she’d change her mind about us. But over time, my worries subsided as I came to realize that she wasn’t going to thoughtlessly abandon me, and eventually I’ve accepted the fact that I simply needed to have faith in her, something that got easier as the days talking with her went on.

Of course, that isn’t to say I wasn’t disappointed when she failed to call on the rare occasion. But something she said during one of our calls made it clear that she shared my disappointment.

“Honestly, as crazy as it sounds, I actually considered ditching that meeting just to talk to you for a few minutes. Man, what’s wrong with me?”

We may be half a world apart, and our lives may still not be where we wish it to be, but as long as we’re trying, I’m sure we change that. All I need is to be patient and to believe in her, and an opportunity will present itself.

Rising from bed, I go about the rest of my morning routine: take my medications, change my clothes, and prepare breakfast. I open the fridge, which is now mostly full of several types of foodstuffs, and take out two eggs. With those in hand, I move to my new frying pan and I begin cooking a simple but serviceable breakfast.

Once I’ve cooked my eggs and properly seasoned them with some salt and pepper, I turn off the heat and carefully move the sunny side up eggs from the pan and onto the plate. I take a fork and knife from the cupboard, and pour myself a glass of milk. Perhaps I’ll try adding some rice to my list of possible breakfast meals in the future, but for now this’ll do.

I take my breakfast and place it on my desk before sitting down, eating it while looking around my apartment. The place hasn’t changed a whole lot in the past month, but what changes I’ve made to it definitely serve to make it more of a home, as opposed to a place where I simply resided in. A new set of sheets here, a Sunday spent cleaning up there, subtle touches that makes this small apartment a more appealing place to return to during the evenings.

And for when people eventually come to visit, something that I think I’m prepared for now. The place still needs a chair or two more for people to actually sit on, but I think it’ll be at least an adequate place to host a study group. Or even for someone to visit, should they want to.

Once breakfast is done and the dishes cleaned, I sling my bag over my shoulder and head out the door. The smell of burnt cigarettes immediately assaults my sense of smell, which is a downer on what is otherwise a rather nice morning. It’s a smell that I probably will never get used to, though I tolerate it as a necessary part of my daily life.

For now, anyways. Like most undesirable aspects of my life, it’s just another problem that I intend to fix in the future.

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“Morning, Toshiro. Sayumi,” I greet as the two enter the class, which is still a long way from starting. The two are wearing thick coats and scarves to combat the chill of winter. “You know, it’s the last week of the semester and tests are over, you guys don’t really need to come this early anymore.”

“You’re one to talk. Besides, we’ve gotten too used to it by now,” Sayumi jabs back as they take their seats beside me. “Anyways, how’d your test go?”

“I expect nothing less than an A,” I respond confidently, rolling my eyes at the memory of that day, where I was done in no time at all. Tests are still boring, but at least they’re over and done with quickly. “And you two?”

“Eh…” Sayumi trails off, looking just a bit ashamed. “I think I’ll pass, but anything above that is up in the air, really.”

“Fifty-fifty,” Toshiro says with a shrug, slumping down on the table. “Either I’ll pass or I’ll fail. But I think I’ll pass...maybe.”

“Just when I thought I was actually being helpful,” I mutter aloud, shaking my head in disbelief and pulling out my stack of notes from my bag. “I covered more than half of those questions in our study groups. The least you can do is recall them during the test.”

When they offer nothing in response, I hand them several papers from the stack. “Each of these has answers to a lot of the first part of the test. Try to remember if your answers were similar to what’s written on it. If not, then you probably answered incorrectly.”

They quickly take the papers, probably eager to see an early forecast of what their results might turn out to me. Looking at their faces, I can’t help but feel just a little amused as their faces go from relieved to horrified to ecstatic and back again.

“So, more or less confident in your test results?” I ask once they’ve read through all the notes.

“I think...more? I don’t know,” Toshiro answers, rubbing his temples. “Man, how do you memorize all these things?”

“It just comes naturally to me,” I say with a shrug. My explanation doesn’t seem to satisfy them, as they give me slightly annoyed looks. “Seriously, I just pay attention in class, write things down, and memorize them. That’s all.”

“Well, all we can do is wait for our results, I guess," Sayumi says with a sigh, sounding like she’s given up trying to predict her results. “Whatever happens, I’m sure Daisuke will make fun of it somehow.”

“If I get an A and he still says something sarcastic, I might clock him,” Toshiro swears while clenching his fist, causing his girlfriend to giggle.

“I don’t know what I want more, you to get an A, or Daisuke to actually get punched in the face.” Sayumi seems to give it a bit of thought before coming to a conclusion. “You know what, you can still get As during the final semester, I actually want to see Daisuke get punched more. Did you know he called me fat last week?”

“Wait, he did?” Toshiro exclaims with both surprise and disgust. “Right, he crossed the line. I’m really going to deck him now.”

I laugh before joining the conversation, mostly to prevent Daisuke from meeting an unfortunate end at Toshiro’s hands.

While these two weren’t always here early in the morning, they arrive early often enough that I expect their arrival, and look forward to our conversations. It makes the time waiting for class to start a little livelier.

A few weeks back, I might have disliked things disrupting the peaceful quiet. But now, I find that a little chatter here and there is nice to have. Especially with friends.

“Oh right,” Toshiro says, realizing something. “I just came up with a new recipe for the bakery. Chocolate and jelly bread, sweet as can be, but tangy as well. Was hoping you guys would try it when we go there after class.”

“I’m not all that fond of jelly,” I admit, shaking my head slightly. Glancing at Sayumi, she already seems enamoured with the idea. “Though the girls would probably love it. Jelly and chocolate are their two favorite types of pastries. Mix them together and they’d probably have a heart attack. In fact, I think Sayumi is currently drooling right now thinking about it..”

“I’m not!” Sayumi refutes, turning her head away. Her denial only causes Toshiro to laugh at his girlfriend, earning him several light punches to the chest.

Conversation goes on for a little bit before more students, including the rest of our circle of friends, trickle in. The final person to enter is Mr Tatsunagi himself, looking as energized as I’ve ever seen him. Though I suppose it’s no surprise, given that our last conversation just a few days ago ended with his announcement of a possible reconciliation between him and his family.

Of course, it also ended with him slumping over my shoulder, extremely inebriated. But given the news, I figured it was worth hauling him for a little while until he recovered.

“Good morning class,” Mr Tatsunagi says, his voice loud and vibrant. “I know this is our final class together, and that you are eagerly waiting for the results of your tests, but please pay attention. This lesson is as important as all the rest, regardless of timing, so it’s imperative that you retain what you learn during the semester break.”

And with class starting in earnest, I quickly begin taking down notes. As fond as I’ve become in conversing with my new friends, there’s a time to be social and a time to be focused on academics. And now is the time for the latter.

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“Welcome to Ito Bakery!” Mr Ito shouts out as the seven of us enter the bakery, grateful to be somewhere remotely warm again. The place is mostly empty, save for a few elderly people I recognize as regular customers. “We’ve got some hot bread, ready to warm up any winter chill!”

“Hey, Dad,” Toshiro greets his father in a cordial tone, even bowing a little. “I was thinking of giving them that new recipe I created. Mom made a few batches today, right?”

“She did, though they didn’t sell well. But I’ll blame that on the season: Winter always slows down business,” Mr Ito says as we sit around our usual table. Whether or not it’s reserved specifically for us, it’s always empty when we get here, so I simply chalk it up to the group’s familiarity with the specific table before I was a part of it.

“Yeah, I figured,” Toshiro mutters, looking around the nearly vacant bakery. “Old folks don’t really like to go out during the winter, huh?”

“Don’t go badmouthing our customers,” Mr Ito reprimands before going to the back room. “I’ll grab you all some of Toshiro’s new bread, but you’ll have to pay, I'm afraid. Can’t afford to be too generous during this season.”

“Well...someone is certainly mending relations with their family,” Daisuke notes, his usual smirk growing wider. “I’m happy for you, Ito. Though you honestly could have come up with that compromise sooner and save yourself the trouble.”

“Yeah, well, ever since we came to an arrangement, things between us have gotten a lot less rough. Hell, I almost miss our old fights,” Toshiro responds, looking mildly annoyed that Daisuke is being his usual condescending self.

“It’s good that you and your dad are finally getting along,” Sora says, sounding happy for him. “Considering we all helped you with your studies, it’d suck if it all came to nothing.”

“You mean Hisao has been helping him with his studies,” Kazuma corrects, chuckling slightly. “I don’t recall you giving Toshiro pointers, or giving him copies of your notes, or giving him answers after trying to make him figure it out for himself.”

“Hey, I provided moral support,” Sora defends, hiding her blush by covering it with her scarf. “Besides, it’s not like you did anything to help him. At least I told him not to give up a few times.”

“Yes, I’m sure that helped immensely,” Daisuke comments sarcastically. “He’ll hold those moments with you as the turning point in his academic career, alongside such inspiring memories such as the time you begged him for more free bread.”

Takeshi stifles a chuckle, and the conversation probably would have turned heated if it wasn’t for the timely arrival of Mr Ito, carrying a tray of small brown loaves and placing it right on our table.

“Heated those up for you. My wife says that they taste a little too sweet, by the way,” he mentions, glancing at Toshiro in particular. “I can’t give you all free bread now, but since your semester is ending this week, I’ll at least give you all a free drink.”

We all give our thanks to Mr Ito and order our drinks. Once he left, Sayumi and Sora predictably grab the bread first, immediately stuffing it into their mouths and letting out a delighted squeal, their voices muffled by the bread.

“Well, your new recipe has two fans, at the very least,” Daisuke comments before taking a piece of bread and taking a bite out of it. “Oh God, your mother was right, Toshiro. This definitely is too sweet. I’m going to need something to wash this whole thing down.”

“It’s a work in progress. I just need to get my ratios right,” Toshiro says defensively as I take one of the loaves and bite into it. Like Daisuke said, it’s definitely a little too sweet, but the jelly makes for a nice sour contrast. Not something I’d have every day, but not bad either.

“So...semester break,” Takeshi says as our drinks arrive, most of them being either hot tea or hot chocolate. “Any idea what you guys are going to be doing? I mean, I’m stuck with Daisuke so I’m spending mine in what’s basically hell.”

“Hell with paid meals, I might add,” Daisuke points out, completely unoffended. “I doubt the devil would be as accommodating when, and I really do mean when, you reach that infernal pit.”

“Eh, was thinking of taking it slow,” Kazuma answers as he takes a sip of his drink. “Parents aren’t exactly thinking about me right now, so I might as well spend it playing video games, walk around the city. Nothing too fancy.”

“Same here,” Sora answers, sounding just a bit more forlorn than Kazuma. “I’ll probably pick up some new clothes, hang out at a shrine during New Years but otherwise...nothing special. What about you, Sayumi?”

“Well my parents are thinking about a trip to Okinawa,” Sayumi answers, though she doesn’t exactly look excited at the prospect. “...Without me. They actually want me to stay at Toshiro’s place during Winter Break...”

That last statement almost causes Toshiro to spit out his drink. “Wait, what? Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell my parents?”

“We already know and we approved,” Mr. Ito says casually as he passes by, a smirk on his usually grim face. “You’ve been with her for over a decade, boy. Learn how to sleep next to her, or she’ll start to think you’re no longer interested in her.”

Toshiro and Sayumi’s faces immediately turn red, and they look away from each other. The rest of us start laughing, and even I can’t help but chuckle at their expense. It’s comforting to know that these are people I can be happy, amused, and even annoyed by, and that they genuinely enjoy my company.

Truth be told, I hadn’t been expecting to hang out with them as often as I do, and yet there’s rarely a day that doesn't go by where I’m not eating lunch with them, in the cafeteria or elsewhere. During the weekends, we would hang out at arcades, and I would help them study while simultaneously doing assignments with them, to varying degrees of success. The six people I now call friends quickly ate up what used to be a vast amount of free time, and I can’t say I miss it.

Time has done much to solidify my bonds with them, and where once I felt completely alone in the world, there are now people to refute that grim view I had. How quickly things can change in a month.

“A-Anyways…” Sayumi says nervously once the laughing subsides, turning to me. “What about you, Hisao?”

I think about it for a bit before answering, the idea of what I’ll be doing during that period being vague at best. “Well, my internship will be over after this semester ends, and my parents aren’t going to visit me so...probably what I’ve been doing. Study, hanging out with you all, that kind of stuff. Mr Tatsunagi says he might invite me to go drinking with him a few times.”

“You know, I still can’t get over the fact that you’re friends with our lecturer,” Toshiro points out. “It just feels weird, no offense.”

“There’s nothing wrong with trying to fraternize with your betters,” Daisuke argues after raising his hand and ordering another drink. “That’s how you get ahead with this society. A man is judged by who he knows just as much as what he can do. And if he knows no one, he goes nowhere.”

“I think friends is pushing it,” I say, in an attempt to downplay the situation. “It just...happened.”

“Anyways, I’ll just be working at the bakery.” Toshiro beams with pride as he says that. “Full-time shifts, but I’ll still have some time to hang out with you all. Maybe spend New Year’s together at a shrine or something.”

“Good idea,” Kazuma responds with enthusiasm. “We should all hang out during New Year’s, considering we’ll be staying here during winter break.”

“Sounds good to me. Always fun to try out a new kimono,” Sora sounds just as enthusiastic as Kazuma, particular when she mentions trying out a kimono. The rest of the group express various levels of approval, leaving me the only one yet to give an opinion about it.

“I’ll think about it,” I say when their heads turn to me. “But the answer is probably yes, assuming nothing gets in the way.”

“With that matter over with, I will be so bold as to prematurely celebrate the end of our second year in college.” Daisuke holds up his cup, and the rest of us follow suit. “A toast! To the end of our semester!”

“To the end of our semester!” we repeat in a celebratory tone, softly clinking the cups against each other.

The rest of the afternoon consists of more idle conversation before we start to leave, one by one and for various reasons. In the end, I’m the last one remaining besides Toshiro, who eventually leaves the table to work. After he’s gone, I take that as my cue to exit the place.

As I get up and leave, I feel someone pressing something onto my hand just as I’m about to open the door.

“I always give free bread to friends,” Toshiro says as I turn around, handing me a plastic bag with some bread inside. “Haven’t given any to you yet, might as well do it now. Consider it thanks for helping me study.”

“Thanks, Toshiro,” I reply in sincere gratitude, more for the gesture than the gift itself. “Good luck on being a baker.”

“Heh, yeah,” Toshiro says before returning to work and I exit the bakery. With nothing to do, I decide to take a walk around the city.

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The sky is starting to turn orange as I cross a street into a part of the city that I’m not sure I’ve been before. Despite going out more, there’s still many places in the city I’m living in that I’ve never visited, and some that only left a faint impression on me.

Still, my legs are starting to ache from all the walking, so I take a seat on an empty bench to reflect on how much my mentality changed over the past month. About how I see myself, and how I see others.

The idea of my condition killing me is still something that fails to horrify me, but now that I’ve gotten close to other people, I’m starting to grow more aware of it. The price of caring about other people, especially with a condition like mine, is the subtle but ever present fear that you might one day lose them.

Though between losing them because of my condition, or losing them simply because they no longer want to have anything to do with me, I’m still unsure of which would be the reason I’d be more worried about. Perhaps both should be treated with an equal amount of fear.

On a whim, I pull out my phone. A new phone, bought specifically to better communicate with my girlfriend who is six years my elder, and the sister of a previous girlfriend to boot. A few months ago, I’d consider every part of that statement to be impossible and ridiculous, and I still do, to some degree.

And yet the fact that it's true is something that I’ll always be thankful for.

I look through my messages and find one that Akira sent me a few days ago, containing a picture of her smiling towards the camera. I didn’t ask for one, and yet she sent it to me to make sure that I can always see her, regardless of how busy we end up being. It’s almost as if she’s already aware of my fears, and is preemptively trying to calm me down.

I really should send a picture of myself in return, and tell her about my condition in more detail, or elaborate more about my past and my feelings about it. I feel as if I should tell her a lot of things, too many for a single conversation to hold.

But we agreed to save heavier topics until we see each other again. I wonder if she thought the same thing I was thinking when we established that rule, that a second meeting would truly solidify our desire to continue this relationship.

Perhaps it’s just my anxiety getting the better of me, but it does feel like seeing her again would ease any remaining doubts I had, and allow us to discuss our relationship going forward. Even if it was for a day, there would still be plenty of time to talk about all the things we need to, at least for me.

It feels perplexing knowing the person I was before, and now the person I wish to be after experiencing recent events. It feels as if I’m still changing into the latter, or that I’m stuck in between. Melancholy and anxious in one moment, calm and optimistic the next. If nothing else, the fact that I’m optimistic at all is a sign that I’m not the person that first entered college, simply going through the motions that society expected from me.

Feeling as if I’ve had enough rest, I get up from the bench and begin walking again. I’m not particularly hungry despite being way past dinnertime, so I decide to just wander around aimlessly until I decide to actually eat something, enjoying the sights of the city.

A buzz from my phone makes me pull out my phone again. Flipping open the screen, I see that it’s a text from Akira.

One hour in and I already want to check out of work. Will call you in three hours and share the good news I got, can’t wait.

P.S - I just remembered the question you asked me a few days ago, before I got dragged off. Can’t believe I forgot to answer that. I prefer light-hearted comedies over action or romance, though I like a good romantic comedy every once in a while. Keep that in mind when you ask me out to the movies.

I can’t help but chuckle at the second paragraph, though it’s the first one that captures my interest. If she’s texting me to let me know about it, it must really be something to be happy about.

Again, my hopes that she means what I think she means begins to rise, though I make sure to temper it. I might be overthinking things, or simply asking for too much of her.

Besides, if she’s happy about whatever she wishes to share, that’s all the reason I need to be happy about it too.

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I open the door to my apartment and turn the lights on. As always, the apartment is exactly how I left it, though at least it’s more inviting than it was before. Throwing my bag onto the bed, I take off my clothes and proceed to take a hot shower, the warm water feeling nice after an entire day spent in the cold.

After the shower and a fresh change of clothes, I take my nightly medications before checking the time. I still have an hour before she’ll call, so I decide to spend it on improving my academics. Not the most interesting pastime, or the most productive now that the semester is just about over, but studying and reading is always a familiar way to allow time to go by.

Picking a book at random from my bag, I sit down on my desk and start to read it. As expected, there’s really nothing new that I can glean from reading this for what’s perhaps the twentieth time, and I find myself constantly glancing at my watch. Every minute that passes just makes my anticipation go higher, and conversely my interest in reading this book wanes.

Perhaps I should buy more than just educational books. Reading used to be one of the few things that brought me any sort of joy during my hospital stay, it probably would do me some good to have a more varied range of books to choose from.

Realizing that it’s pointless to even do a cursory glance at the book, I close it and lean back in my chair, simply allowing time to pass without doing anything. Just a few more minutes, and she’ll call.

My thoughts begin to turn to that of the future, specifically once I’ve graduated. It’s not something I’ve thought of in any specific detail, just an inevitable outcome of the diligence I’ve put into my academics. As for what comes after, my mind still leans towards that of a researcher, though Mr Tatsunagi’s warnings have given me new insight towards that particular line of work.

That job, should I take it, would be one of constant work and very little time to myself or those that I care about. Of course, that concern is based on the fact that it effectively ruined Mr Tatsunagi’s personal life, something that I’d never fully grasped until I’ve formed social connections of my own again. Having work simply erase all my friendships, and even my relationship with Akira, is not something that I can simply disregard, but at the same time I don’t really see any other job that I would be as interested in. That would be worth having after all my efforts.

The idea of being a teacher comes to me, almost as if the back of my mind is whispering the suggestion. It’s not exactly a bad idea, and it would fulfill my desire to leave a legacy behind via teaching students, who would hopefully move to better things thanks to my influence.

The question is whether or not the life of a teacher is something I really want for myself, or simply a lingering interest from a past desire, a dream that may not truly be mine. I think about it some more, but ultimately can’t decide on an answer.

So many questions, so many uncertainties. When I’m with others, those things seem to be pushed aside to allow myself to enjoy life again, but once I’m alone they come back in full force. In some ways, they’ve gotten much more prevalent now that I have a circle of friends. Now that I’m in a relationship that, for all the happiness it’s given me these past few months, is in a very uncertain position in regards to the future.

I’ve gained so many things, but that only means I have that much more to lose.

The ringing of my phone immediately brings my thoughts to a halt, and I quickly answer it. Glancing at my watch, I realize that she’s calling exactly three hours after the text she sent me. Holding the phone to my ear, I answer the call. Afternoon is when she’s at work, so it’ll simply be an audio-only conversation, not that I mind all that much if it means we get to talk more often.

“Hello? Who is this?” I ask playfully, with a grin.

“Oh, I seem to have gotten the wrong number, I thought I was calling my boyfriend. So sorry,” Akira responds in an overly exaggerated voice, humoring me for a moment. “Seriously though, it’s always nice to hear your voice during my lunch break.”

“Glad to help ease the pain a little,” I say, getting off the chair and immediately lying down on the bed. “Work’s been rough, huh?”

“Eh, besides some shit I had to deal with the moment I got there, it’s been the usual stuff,” Despite those words, I can still hear the excitement in her voice. “But enough about that and more about something actually worth talking about. I managed to buy something really nice for myself yesterday. Care to guess what it is?”

“Oh? Let me think about it...” I muse nonchalantly, trying to play dumb. “Is it a bottle of wine? That’s about the only thing I can think of.”

“Nice try, but I think we both know what I’m talking about. It’s a plane ticket,” Akira answers exuberantly, confirming my suspicions. “Just a little one week vacation to Japan. You don’t happen to know of a half-decent place where I can crash in, do you?”

“Well I wouldn’t call my place half-decent, but…” At this point, it’s hard for me not to contain the excitement in my voice either. It seems I didn’t have to wait that long for a reunion after all. “When are you arriving?”

“A week and a half from now,” Akira mentions, sounding annoyed for the first time. “Sorry I won’t be able to spend Christmas with you. If I could, I’d rather skip my family’s Christmas party. But at least we’ll have the New Years together.”

“Hey, as long as I get to spend time with you, I don’t really care what time of the year it is,” I respond, feeling so happy that I can’t help but let out a giggle. “Thank you so much, Akira. For coming here so soon.”

“You’d better, trying to find a plane ticket near the end of the year by myself was a pain,” she says, actually laughing along with me. A rarity when we’re talking in the middle of her work day, where she’s required to be as professional as possible. “Honestly, I’m really looking forward to this, Hisao. Probably more than anything else after moving to Scotland. Does that sound weird?”

“No, not to me,” I respond honestly, feeling as if my chest is tightening for no reason at all. “I’m looking forward to this too, more than anything since...I don’t know, really.”

“You really have a way with words, big guy,” Akira jabs, laughing again. “But yeah, a week over in Japan, crashing at your place. Can’t think of anything better to spend my vacation days on.”

“I’ll need to get some beer in the fridge, don’t I?” I ask in a teasing manner.

“Hey, I’m paying for the plane ticket, it’s only fair if you handle some of my needs. A place to stay, some beer, maybe a massage...” Akira says the last one in a coy tone, letting the idea of me massaging her linger for a moment. “It’s my vacation, I have the right to be pampered, wouldn’t you say?”

“Alright,” I relent, glancing at the fridge. “Guess I’ll stock up on a six-pack or two then, maybe try to find someplace nice to eat…”

“Oh, don’t worry about finding someplace nice to eat,” Akira assures me, sounding sure of herself. “I actually have a few ideas on how we can spend our week together. Make it something special for the both of us, you know?”

“I look forward to hearing all about it,” I respond, knowing that she’s probably not going to reveal what these ideas are. “When you’re here, we can talk about things...more serious things. About us, you know?”

Our relationship is getting serious, and the idea both frightens and comforts me. We’re heading somewhere, but where exactly? I suppose I’ll find out when she arrives.

“Yeah…” Akira says in agreement, sounding both nervous and excited at the prospect. “That sounds like a good idea. We’ve been at this for more than a month now, just beating around the bush and acting all playful with each other. I think it’s about time we get a little bit serious about things, maybe tell each other a bit more about how we really feel about certain things.”

“I love you, Akira,” I say suddenly. Without knowing why, I just utter those words with barely any thought or reason put into it. “I love you…”

She stays silent for a moment, but eventually responds with a chuckle. “Hey, you’re only saying that because of last night, aren’t you? You know, telling me you love me twice sort of makes it sound less convincing.”

Akira’s trying to act calm and playful about what I said, but I can hear the appreciation in her voice. She’s right, I probably should have said those words a long time ago. After all, given everything that I’ve done to keep her close to me, I’ve already accepted that what I’m feeling towards her can’t be anything else but love.

“Well, you did tell me to make up for not saying it all this time,” I jab back before sounding more resolute. “But I do mean it, no matter how many times I’ll say it.”

“I know. You can be really mushy when you try, Hisao. Though I can’t exactly say I’m any different,” Akira replies. Even if we’re not seeing each other right now, I know she has a bright smile on her face. “Well, you know how I feel by now, but I get the feeling you want a proper reply. I love you too, obviously.”

Much like our first conversation, the conversation lasts for a long time, well past when I usually fall asleep. I don’t want to focus on anything else but the sound of us talking to each other about anything we can think of. About small things, silly things, little bits of information about each other.

In the end, she has to go back to work, and reluctantly says her goodbyes before hanging up. Surprisingly, I don’t mind it ending at all, knowing there’s always tomorrow. After getting up and putting my phone back on the desk, I lay back down on the bed again and close my eyes.

My final thought before I fall asleep is the childish wish of making time go faster, until it’s finally the day she returns.

I don’t think I’ve had an easier time sleeping in a long, long while.

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Razoredge
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Location: Bordeaux, France

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/5/21)

Post by Razoredge » Sun May 16, 2021 6:52 pm

Another great chapter, my pal. Even if you shared a little part of it some time ago on Discord, it was a really pleasant reading. What Akira told to Hisao was a nice thing to add on this chapter, I have to say, and I really can't wait to read the others. I really hope their relationship will last long, Akira deserves it. But, there is a question I asked myself about this chapter: How do Hisao's friends will react if he tells them what Akira told him? I'm sure you'll answer this question, and I really can't wait to see how it will change (or not change, I don't know) their relationships.

Maybe I'm saying the same things than before, but I do mean it. Your writing style is lovely, your chapters are great, and I really can't wait to know what'll happen in the future chapters. I do wonder if I would ever tell you "I didn't like this chapter, for once" one day. I hope I won't, but at the same time, I'm sure it won't happen, because you do know how to keep quality in your writing. Still, thanks for this reading.
Lilly = Akira > Miki = Hanako > Emi > Rin > Shizune

Stuff I'm currently writing : Beyond the haze : A Lilly Satou pseudo-route, Lullaby of an open heart : A Saki pseudo-route & Sakura Blossom : A way with Hisao

clarity
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu May 20, 2021 9:24 am

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/5/21)

Post by clarity » Thu May 20, 2021 9:48 am

i loved it!

i've been lurking on the fanfiction board here for a while now, but this story finally got me to put my foot down and register an account. there's a lot to love here. the pacing was on point. Hisao's lampshading of his own feelings and on his situation really sold the believability of the drama. i also love the setup and payoff of the side threads, especially Mr. Tatsunagi - i mean, Hisato. it helped fuel the whole catharsis of the ending, while also just being darn good writing in it's own right. speaking of which, that ending was beautiful, and hit me way harder than it had any right to. all i can say is it really resonated with me and my own feelings on life as a whole right now, and for that i'm grateful.

i'm not too great at constructively criticizing, but if i did have to poke at anything, it'd be Hisao's dialogue and demeanour during his first few interactions with the college group. hisao acting like a complete social potato felt overdone, and while it was reasonable to an extent, it had me suspending my disbelief. it did serve for good (unintentional?) comedy, but that still felt like too big of a departure from the overall tone of the story.

all in all, great stuff! looking forward to whatever you post next! :D

jesien
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat May 29, 2021 7:03 pm

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/5/21)

Post by jesien » Sat May 29, 2021 7:11 pm

Thank you for the story.
I love the pacing and the way you write.
I also love the side characters and their antics.

Sorry that I don't really have much to say.
I just want to show my appreciation for you for making this story.
I feel like it's the least that I could do after reading.
I can't wait for the next chapter.
-jesien

Mavezza
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2019 6:12 am

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/5/21)

Post by Mavezza » Sat May 29, 2021 7:32 pm

I'd just like to say that I love this story
Why does it matter?

SuzuSuzuki_bestgirl
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:29 pm
Location: Victoria, Australia

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/5/21)

Post by SuzuSuzuki_bestgirl » Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:40 pm

Mavezza wrote:
Sat May 29, 2021 7:32 pm
I'd just like to say that I love this story
I'd like to second that opinion. I haven't posted here in a while but I've still been lurking, and coming back to check on this story is one of the main reasons.

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