The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 4/16!)

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/8!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:38 pm

swampie2 wrote:I'm loving this fic so far, keep it up!

On a slightly unrelated note, is there any way I can "Subscribe" to this thread and know when there are updates? I'm relatively new to this forum :)
Welcome aboard! Good to have you reading, and thank you. :)
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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Act 1, Chapter 7 - Sidetracked & Shanghaied

Post by Puncyclopedia » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:10 pm

And heeeeere's Act 1, Chapter 7 - also known as the last chapter of Act 1! Act 2 will commence soon - with a frantic week of prepping for a local anime convention over last week, I can hopefully get back to a more regular writing schedule now!

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

Somehow, it's Saturday, and class has been over for about a half hour.

The week was a blur, in spite of my doubts and worries and nervousness. The students are gone, and as I've just finished packing up my things and making sure I have everything, it's time for my Saturday afternoon Shanghai visit with a certain tall blonde woman.

It occurs to me that we've made no arrangements on where to meet or anything of the sort. Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I head for the door, only to find it opening as I get there.

Standing in front of me is the tall blonde woman with whom I'm meeting. I gasp in surprise, but she takes it seemingly well.

“My apologies if I startled you, Hisao,” she says. Her speech is prim and proper and perfect as always. It amazes me sometimes. “I realized that we hadn't agreed on a place to meet, so I thought it would be good to meet somewhere where you couldn't miss me.”

It's good logic, really. It's also Shizune logic, the more I think about it. The thought makes me sigh a bit as I regard Lilly with an amused smile that she can't see.

The two of them are more alike than either would ever like to admit, I think. The differences come in their mannerisms. Lilly politely comes to the classroom to make sure I don't miss her for our trip to the Shanghai. Shizune and Misha surround me the second I leave the classroom to make sure I go with them to the Student Council room.

The message of “there is no escape” is equally clear, but only one of those scenarios makes me feel like a dangerous prisoner being transported to his cell.

“Besides,” she continues, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips, “you seemed a bit hesitant when you agreed to it. I wanted to make sure you remembered.”

...maybe there's even less of a difference than I thought.

“It's kind of hard to forget,” I reply. “You are my mentor after all. It would be bad for my career to avoid you for any length of time.”

“Oh? Is that the only reason you're coming to the Shanghai with me, Hisao,” she asks, in mock reproach. This is a dangerous conversation, but it's one that I've had enough practice at over the years to understand how to win it.

My goal here, though, isn't to win. Playing to win is exhausting.

“Of course not, Lilly. I mean, you're really the only friend I have here, except for--”

I cut myself off immediately. She notices, and I cringe.

“I assume that you refer to Kenji,” she asks, and I have no choice but to admit the truth. She takes it in stride.

“I am glad that he has a friend. He strikes me as someone who needs them.”

I can't really disagree with that assessment. He definitely needs friends. And therapy.

Potentially, lots of therapy.

“He's a good guy deep down beneath everything, I think,” I offer, somewhat lamely. “He's just a little...”

“Worried about a mass feminist conspiracy that holds Yamaku in its grip?” The words sound utterly foreign rolling off of Lilly's tongue, even if she smiles as she says them. Given how secretive Kanji can be, the fact that she knows stuns me.

“Something like that,” I say.

“Everyone knows,” Lilly tells me, casually. “Rumors spread around here very quickly, as you may be well aware. No one knows why, though. He has...apparently told different stories to many different people as to why he is so...adamant about his position.”

My cheeks grow hot for a moment. To think, I actually believed Kenji for a while. Though, as I think about it, if the reason he gave me isn't it, why the Hell IS he so obsessed with the “vast feminist conspiracy?”

I don't know. I don't think I want to, either.

Blind or not, Lilly can sense my unease, and neatly cuts off my thought process.

“Shall we be off, then, Hisao,” she asks, to which I give a grateful “yes.”

* * *

The Shanghai, much like Yamaku, seems somewhat frozen in time. Sure, Yamaku's technology has gotten a little better, and sure, Yuuko no longer works at the Shanghai, but the vast majority of everything else is the same. The impossibly tiny cakes remain – Lilly has eaten hers in two dainty bites, and mine remains on its miniscule plate. I know it'll take just one bite for me to finish it.

She has tea, I have coffee. The Shanghai's coffee isn't particularly good, but nor is it bad. It is average. Perfectly, comfortably average.

“Do you ever drink coffee,” I ask Lilly.

“I have tried it,” she admits, “but I don't think much of it. It is too bitter.”

“Not if you put sugar in it,” I point out. I stopped putting sugar in my coffee a few years ago. I still need a splash of milk, though.

“If I need to put sugar in something for it to be palatable,” she asks, regal as ever, “why would I want to drink it to begin with?”

It's a fair point. She drinks her tea plain, with slow sips seemingly designed to maximize the flavor and aroma of her drink. By contrast, I drink my coffee quickly, enough so that I'm ready for a refill before she's finished half of her teacup.

“What about you, Hisao,” she asks. “Do you ever drink tea?”

“Not much,” I admit. “I prefer coffee. It's not that I dislike tea, though.”

If coffee were to somehow disappear from the world, I would mourn, but tea or hot chocolate would eventually take its place. I can't imagine the same for Lilly, though, unless she happens to really like hot chocolate.

“What is it about coffee that you prefer,” is the obvious question that I expected, but I find myself struggling to answer it.

“Now that you mention it, I don't really know. I'm just...used to coffee, I guess. It helps get me through long days, maybe? Tea can do that too, though...”

I finally throw up my hands. I have nothing, which means it's my turn to ask the question.

“What about you? Why do you like tea so much?”

I briefly hope that she'll falter here, but she has an answer ready.

“It reminds me of Scotland and my family,” she says, without missing a beat. I feel silly for a moment. Of course.

“They have teatime over there, right,” I ask. “That makes sense, then, that it would remind you of your family.” I think back, and remember that Lilly was overseas before returning to Japan for our mentorship meeting. That makes sense, too. She was probably back home.

“Was that where you were before this semester,” I ask. She seems a bit surprised, but recovers neatly.

“I was, yes,” she replies. “I spent a few weeks at home with my mother and father. It was...a nice time, I suppose.”

It strikes me as an odd comment, but I don't press it. Her family is related to Shizune's. Who knows what her mother or father could be like? Maybe the relationship is bad. Maybe it's great. If she wants me to know, she'll tell me – and it's not my place to pry, considering this is the longest I've spoken to her in one sitting ever, probably.

“We've spoken about everything but school, I think,” I say, rubbing my chin a bit self-consciously. “Is there anything I should be doing that I'm not? Any horrible rumors spreading amongst the faculty about a first year teacher in way over his head?”

She shakes her head vehemently no. I'm almost flattered that she feels she has to do that on my account.

“From what you've been sending me, everything seems to be going well thus far,” she says. Friday night, I sent her a copy of my lesson plan. The school itself already had it and approved it, but somehow, I was more nervous to have someone I knew well critique it.

“Thanks, Lilly. I'm constantly afraid I'm going to screw things up, so I'm trying really hard.” It's the truth. I look comfortable enough, I think, but I don't feel comfortable. It's the beginning of the year. Everything's easy. I know it won't stay that way.

Perhaps the most infuriating and long-lasting effect of my heart attack before coming to Yamaku is that it's left me always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Invariably, it does, usually after I've finally managed to stop waiting for it. I have little reason to expect teaching is going to be much different.

“The best thing you can do, Hisao, is just continue doing the best you can. Things get more difficult, but you can handle them. I was in your position not that long ago.”

“How did it go for you?” My expected answer is 'very well,' and it surprises me a bit when a slight blush comes to her cheeks.

“Well enough, in the end,” she says, looking a bit uncomfortable. It's as if having to admit weakness wounds her, somehow. “You are already doing better than I was at the start.”

Things are getting uncomfortable. Again. Maybe it's because in spite of knowing each other for a long time, we don't really know each other? Polite talk at family reunions isn't enough to truly get to know someone.

It's for the best that I drop this train of thought, too. Something else, Hisao. Come on. Something else. Anything else.

“How's Hanako doing,” I ask, in an effort to make small talk.

She flinches at the question, which is enough to almost knock me out of my seat. By the time Lilly manages to stammer out a non-committal “well,” I realize that I've yet again managed to blunder my way into territory that I don't want to be in.

This time, though, the awkward silence is too much for her, and she speaks, saying one of the last things I ever expected to come out of her mouth.

“Hanako and I had a falling out,” she explains. “Almost immediately after I left for Scotland for what I thought would be the final time.”

That last bit sounds vaguely familiar to me, but only vaguely. If I remember correctly, Lilly left before the end of the school year. It came up once or twice at the reunions – but if she left for Scotland, why is she here now?

Now's not the time to think about that, though.

“I'm sorry to hear that,” is the most intelligent thought that comes to mind. “Do you want to talk about it?”

The mere idea seems to make Lilly wince in pain. Even so, though, her face bears a determined look, as if trying to make sure that I can't see her struggling.

“I do,” she says, her shoulders slumping in defeat. “I am not ready to, though.”

That sounds more than a little familiar to me. I can't help but say so.

“I know how that feels. Same goes for me and a certain cousin of yours. I just...want to get the whole story out, but...”

“You can't,” she concludes, a small, wry smile creeping onto her face. “That is exactly it.”

Lilly fiddles with her near-empty teacup for a long moment, before she finally smiles at me.

“When I'm ready to tell you about Hanako,” she says, calmly, about to make my worst fears a reality, “you'll have to tell me about Shizune as well. Do we have a deal, Hisao?”

The question hangs in the air as I think about it. Lilly isn't exactly an open book. She seems to weigh the merits of everything she says very carefully.

If she trusts me enough to reveal what has to be something very personal to her, shouldn't I be able to trust her enough to tell her my story? A story that I've desperately wanted to tell to someone, if only to get it off my chest after all this time.

This isn't something that's going to happen tomorrow. Probably not next week, or even a month from now. I have time.

“It's a deal,” I say, before I can change my mind, and the two of us clink cups. “Now, can we please find a non-depressing topic to talk about? It feels like everything I'm bringing up is upsetting one or both of us.”

To my relief, she smiles, and our afternoon conversation finds more pleasant things to discuss.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/17!)

Post by brythain » Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:12 pm

That's a great way to end Act One. Feels very natural, the unnatural bits are explained away, these are still the characters we know, although 'made weak by Time and Fate'. Good job!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/17!)

Post by Omicronus » Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:06 am

Yeesh, dude. Way to keep me hooked. First my OTP had a falling out and now Lilly and Hanako?

I should hate you for wrecking my OTP and BrOTP, but I shall reserve my hatred for you until it is all explained.

If it is done well, perhaps I will not hate you.

I actually don't. I'm jealous because you're pulling this off so well.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/17!)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jun 18, 2015 8:39 am

“It reminds me of Scotland and my family,” she says, without missing a beat. I feel silly for a moment. Of course.
This made me wonder if people really drink that much more tea in Scotland than in Japan... Apparently they do, though there is no number for just Scotland - just the UK.
I was surprised that Japan comes so far down the list. I would have thought they'd be near the top.
Expectedly Japan is near the bottom of the list for coffee - despite there being an awful lot of Starbucks there...

I disgress...

That was a very nice ending to the first Act. No dramatic reveals, no cliffhanger - just tea and coffee :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/17!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:00 pm

Thanks one and all. I'll address you each below, but I'm glad you enjoyed this. I had a difficult time writing it - I knew what I wanted to do, but execution can be tricky. I wanted this to feel like the end of Katawa Act 1, where you're locking yourself in for the ride and you know that from an OOC perspective, but precious little in the overall story otherwise has been determined. At this point, I think it's safe to call this a Lilly route, though how that route ends and its twists and turns remain open for speculation. ;p
brythain wrote:That's a great way to end Act One. Feels very natural, the unnatural bits are explained away, these are still the characters we know, although 'made weak by Time and Fate'. Good job!
Thank you. :) The heavy lifting starts here. The quote, I think, is actually very appropriate for this story, as both concepts are actually rather important to everything that's going on, as shall be made apparent down the road.
Omicronus wrote:Yeesh, dude. Way to keep me hooked. First my OTP had a falling out and now Lilly and Hanako?

I should hate you for wrecking my OTP and BrOTP, but I shall reserve my hatred for you until it is all explained.

If it is done well, perhaps I will not hate you.

I actually don't. I'm jealous because you're pulling this off so well.
Don't worry, you can join Blank Mage, I'm pretty sure he hates me by now as he patiently waits for Shizune's first appearance in the story. xD I hope you'll find the explanations to be to your liking in the end. I'm a bigger fan of Shizune x Hisao than most people are, and I'll probably tackle that subject in something longer form in the future, but for now, I have this to work on. And a Hisao x Shizune one shot that I really need to finish. x.x
Mirage_GSM wrote: This made me wonder if people really drink that much more tea in Scotland than in Japan... Apparently they do, though there is no number for just Scotland - just the UK.
I was surprised that Japan comes so far down the list. I would have thought they'd be near the top.
Expectedly Japan is near the bottom of the list for coffee - despite there being an awful lot of Starbucks there...

I disgress...

That was a very nice ending to the first Act. No dramatic reveals, no cliffhanger - just tea and coffee :-)
One of the reasons for the lack of coffee is that, in spite of the lots of Starbucks, coffee in convenience stores is somehow a recent phenomenon in Japan, in spite of the fact that such stores there carry practically everything else. xD

I have time for dramatic reveals and cliffhangers. For now, I'm content for tea and coffee to take center stage. After all, to modify one of my favorite quotes from Brillat-Savarin, "tell me what you drink, and I'll tell you what you are."
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/17!)

Post by Blank Mage » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:51 pm

Puncyclopedia wrote:Don't worry, you can join Blank Mage, I'm pretty sure he hates me by now as he patiently waits for Shizune's first appearance in the story. xD
aaaaaaaaggggghhhhh

In all seriousness, though, I'm enjoying your Lilly quite a bit, mostly because she doesn't come across as the effortlessly perfect girl I disliked in the original game. Here, we have a Lilly who isn't as sure of herself, and I think you've nicely alluded to the idea that Lilly hasn't been as successful in life and love she might like Hisao to think. (I'm not sure if you're being impressively subtle or if I'm reading into it, though.) She's clearly distraught over the loss of Hanako, and her failure to patch that friendship up in the years that follow is no doubt a huge blow to her, one that she struggles to play down. Basically; I don't like Lilly, but I like this Lilly, because she's no longer the Purity Sue I always kind of thought she was. Life has kicked the pedestal out from under her.

I can't help but wonder about that, of course. It's easy to guess that Lilly tripped the Misstep after continuing to stifle Hanako with her usual motherly antics. The fact that you've again mentioned the start of Kenji's madness leads me to think it has a place in the larger story, and I'm dying to know how this all relates into the Shizune/Hisao angle. You've got a few tricks up your sleeve, that much is obvious, I'm just trying to see if they're not all part of an even bigger conclusion. You certainly seem to have the writing props to pull it off.
Last edited by Blank Mage on Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/17!)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:35 am

One of the reasons for the lack of coffee is that, in spite of the lots of Starbucks, coffee in convenience stores is somehow a recent phenomenon in Japan, in spite of the fact that such stores there carry practically everything else. xD
It's probably the other way around: If there were a demand for coffee, conbinis would certainly carry it.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
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Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Act 2, Chapter 1 - Point of View

Post by Puncyclopedia » Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:57 am

To reflect popular opinion, dialogue (and only dialogue, not letters or notes and such) occurring in written form will be indicated with < > from here on out. I've updated the first post with an author's note on this as well.

----

There's no alarm to wake me on Sundays, but a week of getting up early means that my body decides that it's time to get up far before my mind really wants to. I try to close my eyes, but it's no use. It's awake time at...7:00 AM.

Stretching my limbs, I yawn loudly. It's not like I have to hold it back in an empty apartment. Besides, the sound reminds me that I'm supposed to be tired. The fact that I'm not after one of the more stressful weeks of my life is sort of astounding, really. Between my first week of teaching and Saturday's discussion with Lilly, I have more than enough on my plate to keep me in dreamland, but here I am.

Sitting up, I realize that I have nothing planned today. The students' work is graded. The apartment is, thankfully, at an acceptable level of mess. Too clean makes me feel like I'm back in the hospital, with its sterile walls and sterile people. Too messy means that I feel like I'm a five year old throwing his toys everywhere. Right now is the sweet spot.

Letter after letter comes out of the package. Most of them are bills that I've paid already – and in truth, I thought I'd discontinued receiving mail based notification of them a year or two ago. I make a mental note to make sure of that as I put them all into a pile.

That's most of the letters. There are a few takeout menus, too. Most of the rest is equally uninteresting, until I find a single piece of mail that catches my eye. The envelope is a light blue color, and the handwriting on the front of it is neat and impeccable. It doesn't take me long to identify the writer. Her name helps, but the writing itself is more than enough.

I don't want to open this letter. It reminds me, unpleasantly, of a similar letter I received during my time at Yamaku as a student. Back then, it had been a would-be lover writing to sever ties forever. Now? I have no idea what is in this letter. Unlike Iwanako's letter, though, I feel bound to open this one. Too much has happened with Shizune and me to ignore something she has to say to me. A quick look at the postmark confirms that the letter is two or so months old.

Carefully, I open the envelope, and take out the contents – a single sheet of neatly folded paper. The creases are perfect, as is the penmanship. I force myself to read the letter aloud, so as not to skip ahead or skim. I want to read this in its entirety, and judge it on those merits.

* * *

Hisao,

I hope this letter finds you well. It has been far too long. You're probably teaching by now, or close to it. I'm sure that you're an excellent teacher if so. Dedication was always one of your strong suits.

I want to see you again. I don't like losing people, especially not people who are important to me. For four years, you were the most important part of my life. Your absence is a hole in my life that I feel every day. I miss you.

I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

Yours,
Shizune

PS: Misha says hello. She wants you to call her.

* * *

It's short and to the point. It's almost...e-mailesque. I imagine it might have been an e-mail, if she had a current e-mail address for me. I can recognize the style as Shizune's, but there's something sterile about it. That's probably because I never had to communicate with her in words beyond the awkward days at the start of our friendship. Everything was sign. Everything was face to face. We understood one another completely. This? This is different.

Reading the letter is strange. Her name sounds foreign, somehow, when it rolls off my tongue. I don't say it much these days. For as much space as the former student council president takes up in my mind, her name is verboten. Saying it reminds me of the crushed, hopeless feeling that accompanied our breakup.

It didn't feel quite as bad as waking up in the hospital, but I doubt anything could reach that level of despair. It came close, though. Closer than I really want to admit, because the woman who broke up with me was the same woman who saved my life.

There's no other way for me to put it, no sugarcoating I can possibly apply. I was a shell of a human being when I arrived at Yamaku. I was going to sleepwalk through my time there and put a happy face on, but that plan didn't survive first contact with a bubbly pink-haired girl (who apparently wants me to call her?) and her best friend, a playful, competitive girl who could see just how much I was suffering no matter how much I tried to hide it. She never let me pity myself. She never babied me. She let me find myself at my own pace, and she helped me along every step of the way.

I fell in love with her. I was in love with her before I realized that I was in love with her. She's a difficult person. She knows it. She wears it like a badge of honor, sometimes. I'm pretty sure she knew I was in love with her before I did. I learned sign language for her. How could that have been interpreted as anything other than a silent confession?

I don't want to think about where I would be if I hadn't met her. When I do think about it, none of the answers are pleasant. No more detail is necessary. If not for Shizune, I wouldn't be teaching at Yamaku. I wouldn't be on the road to being a successful human being. I owe her a debt I can never repay.

I want to think of her happily, even now. How can I, though? How can I remember her with a smile on my face when...

No. That's not the path I want to go down. It'll waste an entire Sunday.

I want to crush the letter dramatically in my fist, but I can't bring myself to do it. She wants me to forgive her? I forgave her a long time ago. I even told her that I forgave her on that horrible day.

She probably doesn't believe me. Which is okay, really, because I don't think I would believe me, either. It's the truth, though. I did forgive her, and I'm not even particularly angry at her. Even so, I can't respond to this letter.

Shizune Hakamichi was the love of my life. We shared wonderful years together. At one point, I thought I would marry her.

Now, though? Shizune is a wound, a proverbial scar over my heart to match the literal one. Both fade a bit more over the years, but neither will ever truly heal.

That, more than anything else, is why I can't respond to her letter. That, more than anything else, is why I don't think I could ever see her or speak to her again.

I can't let that wound be ripped open again. I don't know if I'd be able to handle it.

I certainly don't want to find out.

---------

I don't want to be alone right now.

Those words reverberated through my mind, again and again, after I put down the letter. I don't have many friends here, which makes not being alone harder than it probably should be. A call to Mutou-sensei went unanswered. He's probably busy with research and grading papers and all that a university professor has to deal with.

That's why I'm here at the school on a Sunday after a walk that the nurse would have approved of. No official club activities go on, but for the majority of the student body who lives on campus, the athletic fields are open for all manners of activity. I smile as I see a bunch of students kicking a soccer ball around in something vaguely resembling an organized fashion. It brings back memories.

Usually, for me, just having people around isn't enough to make me feel less lonely, but there's something about standing here on the Yamaku campus that makes me a bit better. Maybe it's positive memories – even if most of those memories are somewhat tainted in retrospect.

Watching the soccer players is a familiar face. Hiroaki is probably the quietest student in my class. He doesn't speak, nor does he sign. My communication with him is limited to written word, though he can hear me just fine.

I don't know what it says about my social life that I'm going to strike up a conversation with a student on a Sunday, but beggars can't be choosers, and he seems a nice enough sort.

Rather than tap him on his shoulder and risk startling him, I walk around to his front and wave to him. He looks surprised at first, but he quickly takes his bag off of his shoulder and fishes around in it until he comes up with a pad of paper and a writing utensil. He writes quickly, and turns the pad of paper to face me,

<Good morning, Nakai-sensei! How are you today?>

My hands automatically begin to sign, before I remember that he actually doesn't understand it. My cheeks turn red in embarrassment before I recover enough to speak.

“I'm okay,” I say, with a shrug. “Just came up here to clear my head a bit, I guess. It's a nice walk from town.”

<It is, isn't it? I usually walk into town to get my groceries. Everyone here's been so nice and helpful so far, too. Yamaku is a wonderful place.>

It's his first year here. Judging by what I was told, the decision for him to come here was made no more than a month before the semester started, courtesy of a surgery gone bad robbing him of the ability to speak. In spite of all of that, he's always smiling. Even his writing seems cheerful.

Hiroaki is the exact opposite of how I was. I wonder how he does it. Granted, his life isn't at risk, but the trauma of losing the ability to speak coupled with having to go to a new school seems to me like a one-two punch of suffering that would be hard to recover from.

“It is a wonderful place,” I agree. He'll get no argument from me on that front. “I'm glad to hear everyone's treating you well, too. You're making a very quick adjustment.”

He looks embarrassed for a moment, and then writes frantically for several long moments, before turning the pad back to me.

<The nurse says that too. Really, I didn't have a choice. Things just kind of happened, you know? It could be worse. Much worse. I miss being able to speak, but there are workarounds, aren't there? Like sign language. I want to learn it. This pad is useful, but I'd like to be able to communicate more fluidly with my classmates.>

It is an undeniably familiar argument. Suddenly, he remembers something, and writes a quick addendum.

<Was it difficult to learn?>

“Not particularly,” I reply. “I'm pretty good at most languages, though. If you're motivated, it's a lot easier, and it sounds to me like you're motivated. The school offers sign language as an elective. Sometimes the classes fill up, but given your situation, I think a recommendation could get you in regardless of class size.”

<I'd like that. I want to make more friends here. I've had enough of being lonely.>

“Believe me, I know that feeling,” slips out of my mouth before I can stop it. Hiroaki cocks an eyebrow at me, and then scribbles on the pad some more.

<Are you lonely, Nakai-sensei?>

Big, brown eyes look at me with concern. It almost feels like he's the teacher and I'm the student. Hiroaki is mature beyond his years, and very perceptive. His gaze, in the classroom, darts from me, to the board, to his fellow students, but he always seems to be listening at the same time.

“I guess you could say that I am, yeah,” I admit. “I don't have many friends here – just another teacher and one of the janitors. I actually went to school here with both of them. Otherwise...I sort of just go home and grade papers and watch TV.” Embarrassing, but true.

<What about before you came here to teach? Did you have more friends back there?>

I am certainly not going to tell him about Shizune. The more I think, though, the more I realize just how depressing the answer is.

“Not really, no,” I'm forced to admit. “Only one or two good friends, really.” One was, of course, Shizune. The other was Misha. Sure, I talked to other people, and sometimes even hung out with them, but they were acquaintances at best.

<If they're really good friends, though, that's all you need, isn't it? As long as you have people to spend time with and laugh with, isn't that what matters?>

It is, and I'm being half-lectured about it by a student.

“It's awkward though,” I say. “The janitor is really more of an acquaintance. He's kind of strange.”

More frantic writing follows, and a small smile even lights Hiroaki's face.

<You mean Kenji, don't you? He is an interesting fellow. I see him on the way to class a lot. I haven't had the chance to see his puppet show yet, though. I feel kind of bad about it.>

“You shouldn't,” I say, a little too quickly. “You probably don't want to. Consider it friendly advice.”

Hiroaki considers this piece of information for about two seconds, and nods.

<Alright, then. I probably have to get going, though. We do have a quiz tomorrow, you know.>

“Of course I know,” I grin. “I assigned it. Don't worry too much, though. You'll be fine. Your grades on the assignments thus far are very good.”

He begins to write again, even as he picks his bag back up. This, I presume, will probably be the last thing he writes to me before he heads off to go study for my quiz. He seems to hesitate a bit more as he writes, thinking carefully before he rips the page off the pad and hands it to me. Waving goodbye, he turns, heading off in the direction of the dorms.

That leaves me alone with whatever it was that he had to say.

* * *

If you could ask about getting me into that sign language class, I'd really appreciate it. I want to be able to speak to as many people as possible without this pad, and I'd be able to participate in class more easily. I like science, but it's hard for me to express myself in the classroom setting when all I have is the written word.

Thank you for not pitying me. Everyone else who knows about what happened to me does. I suppose it's natural, to some extent, but I decided when I woke up unable to speak that I was going to make the absolute most of everything that I still do have.

Yamaku is where I can do that, with your help, and the help of my classmates.

* * *

It's difficult for me to imagine it was written by someone his age, and yet the words are certainly his. It's a remarkably mature view of life: focus on what you have, rather than what you don't.

It sounds pretty good to me, even if I'm someone who has a tendency to fixate on what he doesn't have every now and again.

I fold the piece of paper neatly and stuff it in my pocket before I begin my long walk back to town.
Last edited by Puncyclopedia on Sat Jul 04, 2015 8:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/30!)

Post by Alpacalypse » Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:37 am

Dude, 12 days since the last chapter - you're still one of the fastest writers on the forums, although I think that award may now be bequethed to Sharp-O (that guy writes like a frickin' printing press).

Anyway, good chapter! We're starting to see just how deep Hisao's depression goes. I'm curious as to exactly how Shizune and Hisao eff-ed up so badly - I assume that all will be revealed in time, though.
Also, Hiroaki reminds me of a few people I know IRL. I'll be interested to see if he gets more development, because I'm starting to like him. :D
I am the harbinger of your destruction... By herbivorous, mountain dwelling quadrupeds... fear me
---
I also write now, apparently. Since everyone else does it, I'm putting it here
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I have also discovered that I'm a decent proofreader. Anybody with SPaG problems is free to PM me their work for a thorough analysis and/or evisceration. Depends on how I'm feeling.

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Re: Act 2, Chapter 1 - Point of View

Post by Silentcook » Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:07 am

Puncyclopedia wrote:Quick note - for written down material, I'm going to use the same [ ] that I use for sign. If this is confusing, let me know, and I'll go with < > instead.
...Could it be anything BUT confusing? I mean, you have even already made an alternate decision. It's baffling why you went ahead with this ambiguous version in the first place.
Shattering your dreams since '94.

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Re: Act 2, Chapter 1 - Point of View

Post by HoneyBakedHam » Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:15 am

Silentcook wrote:
Puncyclopedia wrote:Quick note - for written down material, I'm going to use the same [ ] that I use for sign. If this is confusing, let me know, and I'll go with < > instead.
...Could it be anything BUT confusing? I mean, you have even already made an alternate decision. It's baffling why you went ahead with this ambiguous version in the first place.
Shush, you!

And I agree with Alpaca: You're still at a good pace with the updates. Sharp-O just doesn't seem human with his update speed (I think he's a cyborg that is currently linked to the KS fanfic servers).

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/30!)

Post by Sharp-O » Tue Jun 30, 2015 12:17 pm

Alpacalypse wrote:Dude, 12 days since the last chapter - you're still one of the fastest writers on the forums, although I think that award may now be bequethed to Sharp-O (that guy writes like a frickin' printing press).
HoneyBakedHam wrote:And I agree with Alpaca: You're still at a good pace with the updates. Sharp-O just doesn't seem human with his update speed (I think he's a cyborg that is currently linked to the KS fanfic servers).
They're on to me! Cheese it!
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Out of the post-Yamaku fics I've read on here, this one has my attention. I'm digging the scenario and I'm looking forward to how this all plays out. The new blood seems nice varied and Hiroaki seems like a good kid, hope things work out for him. Hisao and Lilly's new work relationship is also pretty fun. All-in-all, a damn good story so far, Pun! :mrgreen:

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/30!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:18 pm

First off, Silent's absolutely correct, so I've edited the fic. I had reasons that, I assure you all, made sense to me when I posted it this morning - but now with the chance to think about it more make very little sense at all. Changes made.

I appreciate the support re: my post times. I like writing, so I get a bit sad when I can't get things polished in a timely fashion. It also helps keep me sane during a pretty hectic period in my life, so getting to sit down and focus on this is always a good thing.

Alpaca: Thanks. The main goal of this chapter was to get across just why Hisao is so upset - and why, in some ways, he can't be as upset as he really wanted/wants to be about everything. It's a delicate, tricky balance.

Sharp-O: Welcome aboard, and thanks for the kind words. :) Things will be picking up soon - with Act 1 over, it's time for some more meat and potatoes.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/30!)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:31 pm

Too much has happened with Shizune and I
with Shizune and me.

No other noteworthy SPaG issues.

The story itself continues to intrigue. Looking forward to the next chapter.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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