Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

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Flopsy
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Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:45 pm

I wrote the following fan-route over a few years in-between other things. It's always been a very personal project of mine, and I've always ended up coming back to update it and keep it going, like one might with an old diary. It's a very personal project because I myself have an electrical defect with my heart, and when I draw from my own experiences regarding it while writing this. It's a bit cathartic that way. It's not just catharsis, mind, I've really enjoyed writing the chapters and attempting something so outside of my literary comfort zone.

So that bit of blogging out of the way, the following story has a couple of quirks from other routes. It's written from Rika's perspective, not Hisao's. No particular reason for that other than I have an easier time writing from a female perspective much as many of you have an easier time with guys. So it's almost a Hisao fan route with an alternative protagonist? Secondly, this starts from Act I since Rika is the protagonist, so it kicks off around when Hisao arrives in Yamaku. Thirdly, I am probably not all that faithful to the timeline of the other routes and take a bit of liberties as far as that is concerned. Let's put that one down to the butterfly effect of a different start. This is mostly because I wrote this quite casually, it's not intended to function perfectly as a Katawa Shoujo route, just mostly.

I originally wrote this for the 4chan community and kept it in pastebins, so I'll be re-formatting it for the forum as I go along. I'll get it done as quickly as I can, and then continue on with Act II. I'm not sure how easy the transfer will be so we'll see. I actually decided to bring it here largely because people kept telling me that I really should, but I am an awful procrastinator. The end of Act I seemed like as good a time to do it as any. I should mention that these are written over a three year period, so you'll find 1-1 will read a bit differently (worse) than 1-11.

That said, I'll post it below. I'm new to posting stories in forum posts, so excuse any formatting errors and please let me know so I can fix them up. The cover image was drawn by Tile.

"Can You Skip a Beat?"

Act I: Ventricular Tachycardia
rika.jpg
rika.jpg (106.67 KiB) Viewed 3903 times
1-01: Reflection
1-02: Control
1-03: Release
1-04: Pause
1-05: Conditional
1-06: Silhouette
1-07: Withdraw Part 1, Part 2
1-08: Inflict Part 1, Part 2
1-09: Drift
1-10: Simper
1-11: Dream
Last edited by Flopsy on Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:45 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:52 pm

1-01: Reflection

'I don't know if I'd call it curiousity, exactly.'

'Then what's wrong?' Saki asked, leaning closer in her chair.

I wish I could tell her. Taking a sip of tea, I reflect if it was a good idea to ask her here. We've been sitting here for ten minutes and that's the first thing I've managed to say. She's trying her best to be a good friend, but she can't help me, not really. How can she if I don't even know what's wrong? Her dark eyes are boring into mine in the silence, but I don't know what to tell her. I eventually collect myself and respond, 'Suppose... suppose I told you there was a boy--'

Saki's eyes shoot open with delight as she clasps her hands over mine, 'Tell me everything! Is he in our class? Is he cuuuute? Oh, is he an older guy, you know I always took you for the type to chase after older guys!' I'm not given a chance to respond before she pulls me up off my chair, narrowly avoiding spilling my tea everywhere, and throws her arms around me; bouncing up and down with what I assume is joy. I fear she may have misunderstood the situation. I pull myself out of her embrace (with great difficulty).

'No, Saki, he is not my sweet-heart. He's just a new student.'

'That you're in loooove with!'

I put my hand up and keep going, 'No, I don't think so. We met each-other in the nurse's office, I'd had a little bit of an episode, so I wasn't in the best condition.' I frown at the memory, in all actuality I'd broken out in a cold sweat and swooned in the middle of the hall. Briskly shaking my head, I continue, 'The nurse had gone to answer the phone, so he came in and sat on the chair beside my bed and introduced himself, but before I could do the same the nurse reappeared.'

I go over everything that happened in the nurse's office with Saki.

'Ah, you must be Mr Nakai, push yourself, did you? I suppose you didn't take your heart medication today, either?' The nurse didn't look please as he stood and tapped at his clipboard. Nakai didn't look happy, either.

'I was, uh, running late this morning.' He squirms and fidgets, looking like a guilty kid.

'Uh-huh, sounds a lot like your last visit. You realize that you have limitations, don't you? And the medication does help you prevent those limitations being the death of you.' The nurse shakes his head, but notices I'm still here.

'Oh, Miss Katayama, I'm sorry. I didn't intend to scold Mr Nakai in front of you. You should be alright to leave, but I'll have you miss the rest of classes. I'll send a note, but you go home and get some rest.' Nurse smiles at me, motioning at the door. I get the message and leave him to scold Nakai more.

'That's all? What's so special about some guy getting told off by Nurse? Half the school gets his lectures.' Saki asks, with a look of confusion on her face.

'Heart medication, weren't you listening?' I snap, surprising myself.

'So what?' She doesn't seem to notice.

'So...' I pause. So what, she's right. Why has that been echoing throughout my head since I left the nurse's office?

'... Rika?'

I put my hand to my chest, holding it gently over my heart. He was flushed when he came in, I could see the shine of sweat on his face, like he ran the whole way there. But that wasn't it. Nakai was pressing his hand against his chest when I was leaving, too. Palpitations, his palpitations mustn't have calmed down yet. Like mine a few minutes before. Is it that simple, is it just that he's like... he's like me?

'Rika! Anybody home?' Saki shouts, waving her hand in front of my face. I snap out of it.

'He was just... he just looked like someone I knew.'

'That's it? Why were you in such a state over that?' Saki folds her arms and pouts at me. I just smile.

'Just being silly, of course,' I raise a hand to my forehead, 'you know Saki, I'm feeling a tad unwell. Do you mind if I go to bed early? I'm sorry for dragging up here.' I smile at her, but Saki meets my gaze in silence. She looks suspicious, but she sighs and rises to her feet anyway.

'Alright, get your rest then. I'll see you tomorrow in class.' She gives me a last smile, and leaves me to my own company. I lean back in my seat, staring at the ceiling. I've never been one to let my condition matter to me, so why does his? Wrapping my hand around my cup, I take another sip, and immediately spit it out. It's gone cold. Brushing myself off, I stand and head to my desk, where my medication is sitting. Take two every day, the bold lettered sticker proclaims upon the bottle. I open it and shake one into my hand to inspect it. A little beige capsule. I wonder if his medication are little beige capsules. With a sigh, I slip it back into the bottle. I'm over-thinking this, is all. There's more than two people in Japan with less-than-functional hearts, I'm sure. My thoughts are interrupted by a knock at the door.

'Saki, what is--' I start, before noticing the figure in front of me is Hisao Nakai.

'Rika Katayama?' He tilts his head.

'Present.' What's he doing here?

'I'm Hisao Nakai, I don't know if you remember me from Nurse's office.' What's he doing here?

I laugh, 'How could I forget such a lecturing?' What is he doing here?!

'Sorry to bother you, but you left this on the bed.' He lifts up a bright red medical alert bracelet. Arrhythmia and cardiac disease is inscribed along it. I blush.

'Oh, goodness, it must have fallen off.' I snatch it from him and hide it behind my back, straining a smile.

'Arrhythmia, huh?' Nakai flashes me a nervous grin.

It's not returned. 'I'm sure there must be some faux-pas about reading a lady's medical alert bracelet,' I say, but he just laughs.

'I didn't know what it was when I picked it up until the nurse told me, I'm sorry,' his smile flickers, 'but I, um... I have the same problems, weird huh?' I wish I could tell you, Nakai, I really do.

'Aha, what are the odds of that?'

'Not much, not much.'

I shuffle my feet. He does too. Eventually he breaks the silence.

'Uh, so I'll be on my way. I'll see you around.' He turns and starts to head down the hall without waiting for a reply. I have to poke my head through the door-way.

'Oh, yeah, we're not in the same class or anything but I'll probably see you in the cafeteria or something!' I yell down at him. He turns back around and nods, waving. I wave back. Closing the door, I slump down against it. The gold cross on the medical alert bracelet shines up at me from my hand. I fling it across the room and curl up into a ball.

We're not the same.
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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:02 pm

1-02: Control

A flurry of pages erupts into the air in time with the shrill din of the alarm. Groggily, I try to catch them as they fall back down, unpeel the page from my cheek and stumble over to shut off the damned clock all at once. The resulting fall lands me in a pile of my notes and pages, but I at least managed to knock the alarm-clock onto the floor beside me. You have to take the little victories in a day, I think as I slam the top of the alarm to silence. I don't remember falling asleep studying last night, but nor do I remember having the sense to set the alarm in case of such an event. I thank myself for being so predictable.

The papers stacked as neatly as time accommodates for, I toss aside my pajamas and get ready for the day. The mirror hanging above my drawers informs me to remember that I'm having gym today and not to have a coffee this morning. I thank the note before tossing it in the waste-bin and threading my bow through my collar. Normally, I'd rue the lack of a morning boost after such a late night, but after yesterday's events I know better than to complain; I shouldn't really have coffee at all with my heart, and I've been pushing myself a little too much lately. Which is terribly unlike me, really, but I've been terribly unlike myself this weather.

Grabbing a few locks, I tie my silvery hair in my usual braid. It's about control, Rika. The hairs spin and weave neatly as I meet my eyes in the mirror. It won't happen again.

The hall's unusually still, I take note. I close the door behind me and wonder if my clock's fast again. Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I head down towards the courtyard. It doesn't take long to notice the effects of a late night and a caffeine deficiency, but if I'm as early as I think I am there might be time to steal some of Lilly's tea and make a cup before class. She tells me she doesn't mind, and she has such nice blends I've never cared whether or not she's just being polite.

'Rika! You're up early!' Saki confirms my suspicions as she jogs up beside me outside the dorm.

'I always try to be a diligent student, you know that.'

'Uh-huh. You got ink on your cheek,' She comments as she licks her finger and rubs my cheek while I grimace, 'late night, huh? You know the exam isn't for a fortnight?'

'I told you, diligent student.' Saki doesn't need to know what I was studying in truth. I flash her a grin, 'so I suppose you're not at all worried about the English test, then?'

'Me? You know I got that in the bag, I'm a twelfth British on my father's side, it comes naturally to me,' Saki boasts, before glancing off in the distance and shouting, 'oh! It's Molly, she owes me breakfast this morning! Sorry, gotta' run, I'll see you in class!' Saki dashes off before I can ask her why Molly owes her breakfast, but my own grumbling stomach quells my curiousity. Maybe some of yesterday's cakes in the tea room. The corridors of the school building are near as silent as the dorm halls, save for Mr Mutou looking panicked about something as he runs up the stairs. Again, my grumbling stomach prevents me from pursuing my nosiness. The door to the tea room isn't locked even this early, thankfully, and I push inside to see Nakai and Lilly already in occupation.

'Oh, pardon me.' I stammer out as I turn to leave as quickly as I entered. The sight of Nakai is still not something I want to see until I've gotten myself in order.

'Rika, is that you? Please, sit, we were just talking about you,' Lilly's airy voice calls out from behind the closed door I'm leaning against, her words doing absolutely nothing to encourage me back in. But it's too late now, it'd just raise more questions me running out like that. I take a deep breath and open the door again.

'Lilly, Nakai, I'm sorry, I thought I was intruding,' I manage to say.

Lilly turns her head in my direction and just smiles at me with her big pale eyes. 'Of course not, you're always welcome. Hisao was telling me you were in the nurse's office yesterday, are you alright?' She asks, as innocent as a Winter snow. She means no harm, of course, but it's a subject I'm still tender about, in front of Nakai especially. I try to be nonchalant and walk over to the counter.

'I'm perfectly fine, just a flutter.' I tell her over my shoulder, pouring a blend of black tea I haven't seen before into a cup and then having a seat while it brews. I choose to sit beside Lilly on the opposite corner of the table from Nakai.

I think he notices something, but he doesn't show it as he says, 'Funny bumping into you again. Are you and Lilly friends?' I sit for a while in silence, before it becomes obvious Lilly won't answer this for me.

'Recent friends. We've seen each-other in the halls before, but we met down in the Shanghai after classes last week. Lilly was the only person there when I came in, and I suppose heard me ordering from Yuuko and recognised me. We share a fond appreciation in dirty leaf water,' I laugh, but Nakai stares blankly, so I correct myself, 'tea, I mean. I don't normally have tea with Lilly here mind, I just steal from her not-so-secret stash.' The story flies out of me and I politely laugh at my own joke, far, far louder than I'd intended. Clearing my throat, I look to see Lilly was nodding while she was listening, and reaches her hand over to rest on my arm once I finish.

'Hanako is still warming up to her, I'm afraid,' Lilly reassures Nakai. He laughs.

'I've had the same problem, don't worry,' he laughs again, and I keep up my smile.

I make a show of glancing over at the counter and say, 'excuse me, I have to go see to my tea.' Fiddling with my braid, I try to snap out of it. This is deathly uncomfortable, but it is grossly apparent I'm the cause of that.

The tea glazes from a deep black to a milky brown as the milk pours in, then back to a chestnut hue as I stir. I take a deep inhale of the tea's aroma, and breathe it back out. The cinnamon tinge smells relaxing, that's good. That's all, I just need to relax. If I don't think about yesterday's events and just focus on the cinnamon, I'll be fine. Nakai's just another student.

But when I turn around and see him, the image of his hands around my medical alert bracelet flashes through my mind.

'Rika, is your chest okay? You've gone pale,' Nakai asks from the table, looking uncomfortable.

'Rika, you've gone pale? Should I take you to the nurse?' Lilly's stirred from her chair and from the worry writ onto her face, she thinks this is more serious than it is.

'Lilly, no, I'm fine. Despite what my doctors might tell you, it does takes more than the caffeine in a sip of tea to cause me harm,' I shrug, 'I was just thinking about... that exam next week. That's all.' Lilly's face washes with relief, but Nakai's been squirming since I mentioned doctors. The bell rings when Lilly opens her mouth to reply, and both Nakai and I take our turns to sigh with relief. Setting the tea back down on the table, I mumble an apology to Lilly and rush out the door, with Nakai on my heels. He doesn't stop to say goodbye, however, and rushes down the hall away from me.

Well.

... I cannot say that is how I wanted nor expected my morning to start. The rumbling in my stomach reminds me I was so busy making awkward chit-chat that I completely forgot to eat, but I think I've lost my appetite. Nakai's face comes back to mind when I mentioned doctors. It could well be that he was as uncomfortable as I was. Still, I'll have to avoid that room from now on if he visits there. I run my braid through my fingers again. No, not until I can sort this mess out.
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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:09 pm

1-03: Release

Gym class is a very strange affair here, and why wouldn't it be? The towel pinned gently under my chin while I glance around the changing rooms, every person has a different rulebook in front of them; a different list of limitations that they'll have to carry through their lives, obeying to the letter. Miki catches my eye snapping an unsuspecting student's bra and laughing boisterously. It reminds me that in some instances, students who have an easier time here on the track may have their work cut out for them trying to do up their shirt buttons. I, of course, am no exception, and have a rulebook of my own. One that's a little thicker than most, even. Laying out my neatly folded new gym uniform, it's hard to forget the nurse's face when I asked him for a note to begin participating. A mixture of shock, curiousity and worry. A face that I've seen before on the faces of friends and strangers, but I never thought it would appear on the nurse. Still, he wrote it out only asking me a single question.

"Do you know what you're doing?"

A question I'll admit I hesitated with, but not one I hadn't considered before. I told him I did, but I'm still not certain. I'd been made exempt from participating in gym when I arrived, and I didn't complain. In fact, it never really crossed my mind until yesterday, but everything changed, yesterday.

'You gotta' love the smell of a fresh uniform, don't you?' Emi beams up at me, already dressed and ready to go. When I arrived in the change room, I found out Emi was the condition of me participating I hadn't been informed of. Not that she said as much herself, but her reputation does precede her, and she's not terribly subtle with spying on me either.

'I prefer it to the smell of a used one, certainly,' I respond, pulling the shirt over my head and untucking my braid from underneath. She giggles and stretches her arms above her head.

'You'll get used to it. Wanna' warm up with me?'

I raise an eyebrow and ask, 'warm up?' I know what it is in theory, but I've never put any thought into the act itself.

'Stretches, jogging, getting the air flowing and the blood pumping!' Emi cries, bouncing up and down. Well, I stretch when I wake up in the morning, this can't be terribly different. My uniform on, socks pulled high and shoes tied tightly, I follow Emi out into the grass of the track. After raining yesterday, the grass is particularly lush this morning, and the warm Spring sun has dried up any dew. I can feel the heat dance across my skin, and the warm breeze gently sway my hair. I feel good about my decision to join gym today, I don't normally get to enjoy weather like this. 'It's a good day to run, don't you think?' Emi asks, standing hands on hips beside me, overlooking the track and the few students peppering the yard in the distance.

'Couldn't think of a better day to start,' I reply, stretching my arms out, trying to mimic what Emi was doing earlier.

'Let's get started then!' Emi announces, jogging a few feet ahead and spinning to face me, 'first, we stretch. Can you touch your toes? Keep your legs straight!' I have no idea how I'm supposed to reach them doing that, but I give it my best anyway, and get about half-way down my shins before I feel tendons in my legs threatening to catch fire. Looking up to Emi for mercy, she just tells me to hold to position for ten seconds. By ten, the pressure in my legs has convinced me I'm simply going to snap in half before I ever get to the track, but Emi calls for me to relax.

Standing back up, I let out a long groan of pain. 'At least that's... over with. Shall... we hit the track?' I gasp out to her through ragged breaths. In response, she simply laughs.

'Don't be silly, we've just started!' She replies, far too happily for my liking.

After ten more minutes of agony, Emi finally hops up and points to the track, calling out, 'let's get started!'

'We haven't even started?' I cry back out to her as she jogs off to the field. Every muscles and joint is crying out in protest, but I manage to stagger forward and break into a jog to follow her. We start with what I assume is called a brisk jog. By now, the other students who either skipped warming up or just weren't as thorough about the affair are already running, with a few doing hurdles on the outside lanes and others trying out the long jump in the middle of the oval. We're running on the inside lane, with Emi just ahead of me. She seems to have slowed down her usual pace to stay close to me, but it's hard to tell as I pump my legs to keep up. Cheering erupts from the centre field as I look over to see Miki roll to her feet in the sand and throw her hands up in the air as everyone applauds. I pretend they're cheering for me instead, and it gives me a new burst of energy to power ahead. I catch up to Emi, huffing and puffing, jogging alongside her. She turns her head to me, looking proud.

'Oh-ho, got your breath back from the stretches, did you? Well, time to really get going!' Emi's strides grow longer and she starts to pull ahead, and I try to match pace. I'm a good head taller than her, so in theory my legs should be having an easier time. Theory is theory, however, and in practice I can only watch helplessly as Emi thunders ahead around the bend in the track. I'm not willing to be beaten so easily. Wiping off the sweat from my forehead with a swipe of my hand, I take a deep breath and run. The wind rushes through my hair and I can hear it whipping past my ears as I pick up the pace, overtaking a few students running on the lanes beside me. Taking each one as a victory, I try and pump my feet faster, pushing myself to where I never have before. All of a sudden, Emi's beside me again, but when she looks over, I don't see a smile. 'Rika, maybe we should slow down a bit, you don't look so good,' Emi advises, frowning at me. I feel good, though. I feel like I'm in control.

'I'll be fine! Let's see if we can get ahead of those two up there!' I proclaim, racing ahead again. There's a voice in the back of my head telling me to stop, telling me to take Emi's advice, telling me that she knows what she's talking about. But I know what I'm doing, I can prove to myself that I'm not the person I think I am. The two students ahead of us in question are a pink haired girl and a boy with a bandage over his ear. Waving to them, I continue to push ahead. There's more cheering from the middle of the oval, but this time I don't look, I just close my eyes and listen. The world becomes a haze of cheering, of wind, of sweat, of... of another sound. It's faint at first, but I hear it more and more as I keep going. A pounding, like an ominous drum, getting faster and faster. At first, I think it's the beat of my shoes thumping against the track, but it's not in rhythm. Feeling the sweat on my head, I realise it's gone ice cold. I try to open my eyes, but the world's gone blurry. A stark and cold realisation creeps into my head, but too late as I cry out a scream and the ground comes to meet me.

Lying there, on the field, I notice faintly that I've stumbled onto the grass when I fell. The soft green feels comfortable as I hear the cries and footsteps of students around me. I manage to force my eyes open long enough to see Emi standing over me, crying out for the nurse, and a haze of other concerned face looking down at me. I can't hear the cheers anymore, just the mumbling of the crowd and the frantic beating of my heart.

"Do you know what you're doing?"
Last edited by Flopsy on Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by emi » Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:23 pm

Your writing is good and I'm looking forward to reading more.
Flopsy wrote: 1-2: Control


Sak 'Rika! You're up early!' Saki confirms my suspicions as she jogs up beside me outside the dorm.

Rik 'I always try to be a diligent student, you know that.'

Sak 'Uh-huh. You got ink on your cheek,' She comments as she licks her finger and rubs my cheek while I grimace, 'late night, huh? You know the exam isn't for a fortnight?'

Rik 'I told you, diligent student.' Saki doesn't need to know what I was studying in truth.

Rik I flash her a grin, 'so I suppose you're not at all worried about the English test, then?'

Sak 'Me? You know I got that in the bag, I'm a twelfth British on my father's side, it comes naturally to me,' Saki boasts, before glancing off in the distance

...
...
...

and both Nakai and I take our turns to be sigh with relief.
Couple mistakes here, during that conversation you split rika's speech which makes it look like saki starts talking at first.

Then for the last part: "take our turns to sigh with relief"


Cheers!
Emi > Misha > Miki > Suzu > Lilly > Hanako > Rika > Saki > Rin > Shizune
Art: http://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=10495

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:38 am

emi wrote:Your writing is good and I'm looking forward to reading more.
Ah, thanks! I'll bring over a few more tonight.
Couple mistakes here, during that conversation you split rika's speech which makes it look like saki starts talking at first.

Then for the last part: "take our turns to sigh with relief"
Yeah, that's about what I get for formatting in the wee hours of the morning. Thanks for catching those.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:50 am

1-04: Pause

Sometimes, I think I'm awake.

Sometimes, I find myself still lying there on that field, Emi laughing and pulling me to my feet. She jabs me in the arm and tells me to look where I'm going if I'm going to run that fast, that I didn't see the girl I bumped into and fell. We laugh about it the whole way back to the changing rooms, then I wave goodbye and think about how silly I was. Usually, it's around that time that things go black and I hear some people mumbling about dosages and limited responses. That's when, I think, I'm really awake, if you can at all call that awake. It's hard to tell, because as soon as I start to figure out what's going on I'm back on the grass with Emi telling me another reason why I fell over. There was a hurdle I didn't notice left on the track, my shoelaces were untied, I was tired and I stumbled. I wish I could believe them. Always a different reason, but I can always hear that frantic, deafening pounding in my ears.

The room was dark the first time I opened my eyes. The only way I could tell I'd managed to open them was by the light leaking through the gap in the door from the corridor beyond, and the small blinking numbers of the monitor beside me when I turned my head. Everything was spinning wildly, and it felt like my head was made of stone when I tried to lift it. Not one to be discouraged by a little obvious dehabilitation, I laid my palms flat on the bed and tried to force myself to sit up, but the effort made me cry out and fall back with fearfully little progress. The door swung open and the room was engulfed in light, but as soon as it was the world went black again, the silhouette of the nurse running to my bed disappearing as fast as it appeared.

I'd figured it out by then, of course. I was in the hospital, and I must have done myself some serious damage on the field. Hindsight is 20/20, they say, so I don't see the point chastising myself now for it. Even now, with most of my senses having returned to me, I have no idea what had come over me to drive me to the point I'd come to. Normally, I'm cautious and very aware of my limitations. That day... yesterday? A week ago? A month? I don't know, but I do know I wasn't myself then. With a creak that seems as loud as a firework going off, the door swings open. Struggling, I open my eyelids to see my usual nurse with a clipboard and a tray, tightening a strap around my arm to do the usual checks. I managed to read her name-tag last time she was here, Lin is her name. Time for introductions, Lin.

Slowly, very slowly, my mouth opens and I force out a sound, 'h-hello... Li... Lin.' The clipboard crashes to the ground with a yelp from her I shock her so much. She looks at me for a while, eyes wide, and runs off out of the room. I barely have time to think about how rude it was she didn't say hello back before an important looking man in a white coat throws the door back open, with a trail of nurses behind him (Lin included). Standing at the end of the bed, he looks me up and down, and asks me how I am. 'To be honest, d-doctor, I've... I've felt better.' I reply with a weak smile, but he doesn't look very amused. The rest of what I assume is the afternoon is spent with a plethora of questions about how I am, how I was, the details of the incident, the status of just about every organ I have, and he even manages to squeeze in a brief scolding before other arrangements take him elsewhere, leaving behind a mushy looking dinner brought in by a nurse. No solids, alas, I could really go for a nice custard tart after all this business. Still, the miso and the jelly afterwards taste as good as gourmet dining I'm so famished. It doesn't take me long to slip back asleep afterwards, a pang of fear going through me when I wonder how long it'll be before I wake up again. Thankfully, it's not long before the grass, the frantic beating and Emi disappear into blackness again, with a familiar voice in my ears.

'Rika, are you awake?' Lilly asks, running her hand through my hair. I try to answer, but I don't have the energy just yet.

'Maybe it was a bad idea to visit this early. The doctors said she just woke up yesterday,' Another familiar voice chimes in. The last voice I'd hoped to hear in my current condition, I just don't have the energy to worry.

'Nonsense, Hisao. I imagine she'll be more than happy to see us, you'd like your friends to visit you if you were cooped up in a hospital all week,' Lilly replies, tsking. Hisao makes a very unhappy sound to that, but doesn't say anything. My eyes finally find the strength to open again.

'Lilly, Nakai,' the trouble being now that although I can speak, I have no idea what to say. I settle on asking a burning question, 'how'd you hear what happened?'

'Half the school have heard what happened, Rika. You collapsed right in front of the school, Hanako said she saw the ambulance taking you away from her window. How are you feeling?' Lilly explains, much to my horror. I feel a chill going up my spine at the thought of the whole student body watching my unconscious self being loaded into an ambulance.

'Weary. I was drilled with a million and one questions yesterday, I haven't really had the chance to think about how I feel. Soup here is good, at least, but the tea is just woeful. Tastes like boiled ash,' I reply, rambling a little to shake off the thought of all those eyes on me.

'I'll treat you to the Shanghai tomorrow then, if you're sure you feel up to it.'

'Tomorrow?' I'm confused, I've only just started to recover.

'The doctors say that all you need is rest, as long as the nurse can check up on you. Early discharge is a perk of attending Yamaku in that regard,' Lilly laughs, or better described as a titters, at what I believe she meant as a joke. I laugh too, but Hisao is still silent. He hasn't said a word since I opened my mouth, in fact. I'm too busy fretting about returning so soon to take too much notice. 'My sister Akira will be joining us, as will Hisao if he so wishes. You've met my sister already, haven't you?' Lilly elaborates, clasping her hands together and smiling in Nakai's direction, awaiting an answer. Nakai snaps out of whatever thought he was engaged in and stammers.

'I, uh, yeah, I have. I'd love to,' Nakai rushes the answers out of mouth. There is something up with him, for certain. Just then, there's a ringing from a beige bag resting on the bed-table. Lilly quickly rummages through what I believe is her bag, and answers the phone inside.

'Yes? Oh, of course,' Lilly speaks into the phone, before putting a hand over it and facing us again, 'I do apologize, but I have to take this call. I'll be back in a moment.' With that, Lilly heads out into the hall, cane tapping on the floor as she goes. Nakai and I are left alone together, and the silence is palpable. Pushing down the usual boiling and bubbling anxiety in the pit of my stomach, I decide to break it.

'So, Nakai, I suppose you saw what happened as well?' I ask, surprisingly eloquently. Nakai was busy staring out the window, but he turns back at my question.

'I was in the same room as Hanako, but no, I didn't. The whole class went to the windows, though, so I heard enough about it,' he replies while squirming in his chair like it's the most uncomfortable thing he ever sat on.

'Why didn't you?'

'Just didn't want to see that... sort of thing,' he explains, bowing his head down at that. The pieces of Nakai's behaviour are starting to come together.

'You mean... our condition?' The word "our" feels very, very strange on my tongue. Nakai's face suggests it sounds strange to him as well.

'I guess so,' he pauses, but looks back up at me and continues, 'I was in a place like this not very long ago. A hospital, I mean. I collapsed, too. I don't have as good an excuse for it as you do.'

The news surprises me, but it makes sense. It's probably how he ended up in the school, Nakai doesn't seem the type to attend a school like ours voluntarily. 'Oh? How'd your ticker give up on you?' I ask.

'It's... I'll tell you another day.' Nakai trails off, but he's reminded of something by his wrist. He shows it to me. Looks like a...

'You got one as well?' I asked, more shocked than I should be.

'After what happened to you, the nurse insisted. He said if something happens when I'm out and they try to administer adrenaline or something, they can make it worse,' Nakai explains, unattaching the bracelet and inspecting it. I knew that myself, and I'm surprised nobody told Nakai before. It's what finally pushed me to get mine, as well. We sit there for a while, both looking at the spinning bracelet between us.

"Cardiac Disease, Arrhythmia, Type 1 Long QT" is inscribed along it. It's almost the same as mine.

Almost.

Just then, the door opens again and Lilly reappears, the tapping announcing her arrival before she does. 'I'm sorry Rika and Hisao, it was my sister. She told me that she can't make it to tea tomorrow like we planned, something came up,' Lilly says, sounding a little sombre, 'I'm afraid you'll have to meet her another time, Rika.'

Nakai seems to notice her shift in mood as well and asks, 'are you alright, Lilly?'

She looks up, seeming more upset we noticed her mood than by anything else, 'yes, perfectly fine. I am afraid we'll have to go, class will be starting soon.'

'It's that early?' I ask, genuinely shocked. I have lost my sense of time entirely.

'I'm afraid so. I'll be back tomorrow to escort you home, Rika. Get well soon!' She calls out, as she and Nakai make their leave. Nakai especially seems happy at the excuse to get out of the place, and hurriedly says a a goodbye before trailing out behind Lilly. I'm left alone again, but at least I won't be here for much longer. I mean, I think I'm happy about it. The chill that set into my bones when Lilly told me everyone saw my fall still remains. There's nothing that can be done about that. I lean back in my bed, turning my head to look across the room. Instead, I see a glittering silver chain with a red cross on the table.

Hisao has forgotten his bracelet.
Last edited by Flopsy on Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:44 am

1-05: Conditional

"What is the third conditional?"

Tapping my pen on the desk, I silently mouth the question again and again. On any other day, I'd have finished the entire exam by now, but today it may as well be in another language. I mean, it is, but that's not the point. Pushing the English test across the desk, I lean back in my chair and sigh. Looking around the classroom, most people are done already and are chatting about plans for lunch. The teacher had to run out to take a phone call, so the classroom is as noisy as the cafeteria, despite the test conditions written in big letters on the blackboard.

'It's about the past, you know,' a voice from the desk beside me announces. Saki tilted her head at me, tapping my sheet with her own blue glitter pen, 'the third conditional, I mean. Something that could have happened.'

'You know I hate asking for answers,' I say, frowning back at her. She simply shrugs in response.

'I didn't hear you ask,' Saki replies with a coy smile. Summoning up the best dirty look I can give her, I resolve myself to writing it down. No point pretending I didn't hear her now. "Could have, would have, should have", I jot down. Looking at the remaining questions, of which there are a little under half the entire exam, I admit defeat. Either I can't read them at all, or I'm simply drawing a blank. My mind is foggy today, and I don't think it was just skipping breakfast. Nakai's bracelet is still in my bag under the desk. My own is in the drawer at my bedside table. Looking at it, all I can hear is the frantic beating in my ears from that day on the grass. All I can see is the sky, the sky and the faces of the other students who had gathered around, and especially the face of Emi, screaming for an ambulance. The thought makes a chill go up my spine.

'You alright, Rika? Your hand's trembling. Should I go get the nurse?' Saki asks, resting her hand on my own to steady it, big brown eyes heavy with worry. Ever since I returned from the hospital this morning, Saki has been fussing over me; she'd have me resting in bed all day if she had her own way, piled high with blankets and with a thermometer in my mouth.

'No, no, I'm just a little cold is all,' I lie. Saki might fuss over me even more if I told her the truth.

'Well no wonder!' She exclaims, pushing herself to her feet, and slamming shut the window beside my desk. 'I told you to sit closer to the radiator', she tuts. Looking indignant, Saki furrows her brow. She doesn't get a chance to scold me too much, as the teacher chooses now to reappear. The class goes dead silent and stares at their tests, fumbling for pens to put on the usual act of being dedicated students. With an incredulous frown, the teacher shakes her head and returns to stand in front of her desk.

'Time's up, kids. Bell isn't gonna' go for another five minutes, but you're free to go. Pass your papers to the front but don't run out the door just yet, I have some applications for you guys to fill in,' She explains, as the students at the front pass forward the tests, and pass back the applications. Most people don't look twice at it before shoving it in their bag and running to the cafeteria before the bell rings, but the big bold letters at the top of the page freeze me in place.

"COLLEGE APPLICATIONS: PLEASE LIST FIVE COLLEGES OF YOUR CHOICE IN DESCENDING ORDER".

It's the third conditional all over again. I'm reading the words, but my brain won't process them, although this time there's a distinct undertone of panic in them. Hearing a shaky breath beside me, I see Saki holding hers in front of her, looking like she's taking the news as well as I am. Resting my hand on her shoulder, I try to give her a reassuring look. Saki slowly looks up at me like she forgot where she was, but her usual grin flashes back on her face in no time. 'Wasn't expecting this so soon, huh?' Saki says, the tremble in her voice betraying her smile.

'At least I can rule an English major off my list after that test.' The joke was awful, but Saki's face lights up again. Folding the sheet in half, I slip it in my bag and offer her my hand. Still giggling at the cheesy joke, she grabs it and pulls herself to her feet, picking up her cane from the desk and taking my lead out the door. Saki is more than capable of walking by herself, but she usually appreciates the support with our arms linked together.

'Why don't we head to the library? We can worry about that silly sheet of paper together,' Saki suggests. Nodding in agreement, we head up the stairs. On the next floor, we can still hear the droning of various teachers from the classrooms that are still in session. Pushing open the door at the end of the hall, we emerge into the library. As empty as the halls were, it's dead silent in here, save for the usual cluttering noises of Yuuko sorting book beneath the desk.

'Good morning, Yuuko!' Saki and I tunefully announce in unison. There's a bang and a crash, but Yuuko pops her head from behind the desk, hand rubbing where she's smashed into the desk.

'G-good morning, Rika. Good morning, Saki. Is it lunch already?' Yuuko stammers, looking out the window as if to tell by the sun.

'Not yet, Yuuko!' We call back over our shoulder, walking to the beanbags at the back of the room. One of them is already occupied by a dark haired girl buried in a scruffy looking copy of 1984. She doesn't even notice us until we plop down on the beanbags to the left of her, causing her to squeak in fright and drop the book.

'Good morning, Hanako,' I say, on the seat closest to her.

'G-g-g-good... good m-morning,' Hanako mumbles to her shoes.

'You always have time for some light reading, don't you?' I tease, and she turns her head up, still avoiding eye contact at all cost.

'S-sure do,' she manages to force out, just as the bell goes off. Taking this as an excuse, she jumps to her feet and flees, leaving her book behind her. 'IGOTTAGOEATLUNCHNOWSORRY!' She yells as she runs out, doors swinging behind her. Still not warmed up to me, I see.

'Ikezawa sure is something,' Saki muses, watching the double-sided doors slowly stop swinging.

'Don't be mean, she's delicate.' I scold her, jabbing her shoulder.

'Everyone here is delicate, it's Yamaku,' she sighs back, reclining into her beanbag. 'What are your plans for this troublesome little form, then?' She asks, waving the form loosely side-to-side.

'I haven't even begun to think about it, to be honest. It always seemed so far away,' I answer, retrieving it from my own bag. Nakai's chain shines up at me as I fold the clasps of my bag back in place. 'You?'

'I've thought about it. I've thought about it a whole lot, actually. I just...' she trails off, studying the words at the top again, 'I just can't make my mind up. ' Looking back at my own sheet, I feel myself frown. How do you make a decision that will affect the rest of your life when you're seventeen years old? Whatever I choose now, I could be stuck in until I'm old and grey. Well, grey-er. And Saki...

She catches something in my eye when I look back at her. Her own eyes narrow for a second, but just a second. 'Don't worry, I'll make it through college. Physiotherapy's been going great!' Wrapping her arm around my shoulder, she laughs. A little too hard. There's no point bringing Saki down, I'm sure she doesn't need reminded of her situation. 'I've actually been thinking a lot about an art major. Don't laugh, hear me out. It doesn't involve a lot of moving around, but it involves enough of it to keep my quacks happy. Plus, I've actually been enjoying the art club,' Saki says, as though she were revealing a dark secret. Maybe it would be to her other friends. They're pursuing fashion colleges, or acting schools, or something else equally vain I'm sure.

'You don't need to make excuses for wanting to paint, Saki. I still have that portrait you drew of us when you started the club on my mirror,' I tell her with a wide smile.

'I know, I keep asking you to at least put it in a drawer or something every time I'm over,' she grumbles in response, before her eyes light up again, 'hey! Why don't you do history? You love reading about Ramens!'

'Romans?' I ask, raising an eyebrow.

'Romans, ramens, whatever. You love that junk, is the point,' Saki happily gushes. I've been much more interested in the Gauls lately, in truth, but she has a point. Being paid to read history books to a classroom mightn't be so bad, not very intensive at any rate. Maybe I could write my own books eventually, I have some interesting theories on the fall of the Byzantines.

'You know, you might be on to something,' I reply, thinking about what font I'd use for the book title, 'you could illustrate the covers of my best selling series.' That makes her laugh.

'It'll take a long while of college before I can do anything like that,' she replies, waving me off. I just wrap my arm around her and move the other one along imaginary text in front of us.

'Think about it! Crumble of Byzantine: The Hands of Gold! Written by the keen and clever Rika Katayama, illustrated by the talented beauty Saki Enomoto!' Saki laughs harder as she follows my hand tracing the non-existent title.

'Maybe some day,' she says, trying to regain her composure, 'but for now, how about the keen and clever helps the talented beauty to the courtyard? My stomach's grumbling and lunch will be over before we know it.' I oblige, helping her out of her beanbag and handing her cane to her. We walk out of the library, still giggling. Out in the hall, there's a sudden shock of yellow hair and I'm knocked flying off my feet by some sort of blonde high speed train. I land on the ground hard, the contents of my bag spilling open beside me.

'Oh, sorry! This is the second time today!' The train apologises, before my vision returns to me and I see it's Emi. Her eyes widen when she sees who it is. 'Rika? Oh my gosh, Rika! Let me get the nurse!' She begins tot run to bolt down the hall, but I catch her by a leg-blade.

'I'm fine, Emi, really. No need for that,' with a groan, I pull myself up. Aside from a minor pain where I was hit, my heart feels normal. I gather the stuff in my bag back up, and manage to get to my feet. Checking through my bag to see if I've got everything, I notice that something's not here.

'Is this yours?' The voice from behind me asks. I turn to see Nakai, with his bracelet in his hand.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:03 am

1-06: Silhouette

Lower than sixty beats per minute, higher than one hundred.

My hand brushes over the diagram of an irregular heart-beat. I've read through the book twice now, and I still haven't found my answer. With a groan, I rest my weary head on my desk, pushing aside the books for now. To find the answer, I suppose I would need to find my question first. Yet it's there, fuzzy in the back of my cluttered mind. Lower than sixty beats per minute, higher than one hundred. To cause an arrhythmia, the heart must be beating uncommonly fast, or uncommonly slow. The doctors tell me that mine beats too fast, but when I put my hand against my heart I can barely feel it all. Rolling my head over to the side, I study the spines of the pile of medical journals and studies I've been torturing myself with. There must be something in one of these, some trick I don't know yet. Something that will make me feel normal again.

The world stubbornly continued to spin while I was reading, however, and I see that it's now late afternoon. Time enough to drive myself mad over this after tea. My legs, stiff after hours of reading, complain as I force myself to my feet. Truth be told, I can't say I'm not a little excited despite myself. I can't remember the last time I went out with friends, even if it's just the Shanghai. Dragging myself over to the mirror, I see that my late night reading has caught up with me. My skin's paler than usual, and bags are appearing under my eyes. On most days, this wouldn't concern me, but I think etiquette dictates that I should try to look at least presentable. I muss with my hair while I pull open the drawer, revealing the make-up kit Saki bought me for my last birthday. Studying the various palettes and tubes, I feel suddenly less confident I remember how to use any of this stuff, and settle for something simple. Once I'm satisfied I look like a member of the living, I walk over to my closet and select my favourite coat. Despite the season, there's still a bite to the air this late in the day. Pulling the pale grey sleeves over my uniform, I throw my backpack around me and slide out the door into the hall. The halls are noisy with the din of students coming and going from their dorms, chatting about whatever it is people chat about after class. I spot Molly and Saki lying on the floor, facing away from me through Saki's open door, pouring over a magazine.

'And just where are you off to, Rika?' Saki idly asks, without lifting her head from the colourful pages of the latest gossip.

'I will never understand how you do that,' I reply, leaning against her door-frame.

'She's psychic, I swear,' Molly chimes in, turning to beam up at me.

'You didn't answer my question,' Saki tunefully says, leaning up to her knees.

'I'm going out,' I respond, with a little hesitation.

'Out where?' She sings again, 'you know you're not going anywhere until you tell me, so why drag this on?' She smiles, eyes burning with curiosity. Or maybe malice. One can never tell.

'Tea,' I offer, trying to dodge the real question.

'With?' She asks again, eyes drilling into me. But there it is.

Matching her stare for a while, I eventually concede and sigh, '... Nakai.' Saki jumps to her feet and squeals with delight, rushing over to me, but I anticipated this and managed to close the door between us in time. It'd be pointless to tell her Lilly's coming along as well. I'm not sure why I didn't open with Lilly, really.

'You'll have to tell me the details sooner or later!' Saki yells, her voice muffled by the door I'm struggling to keep closed.

'We'll see!' I yell back through the door. Taking my chance when she seems to have given up trying the door, I rush through the hall and down the stairs. With a glance over my shoulder, I can dare to hope I'm in the clear. That's good, can't have anyone telling on me, I'm sure I'd get in trouble for feeding it, even if it's not technically a pet. Instead of going through the main doors, I sneak out the side door through the kitchenette on the ground floor, where I'm greeted by an excited meow. Kneeling down, I pat the ginger cat with one hand while I pull the food from my bag. 'Now say please.' I tell the cat, standing up with the tin in my hand.

'Meow!' The shaggy stray responds.

'Close enough,' I shrug while I set the food down for the cat to eat. I fed it part of my dinner when I found it out here yesterday, and I had an inkling it'd return. Rubbing its head a few times, I set off for the main gate. I feel reassured in my decision to bring a coat as the wind kicks up through the trees, swaying my braid over my shoulder. The clouds overhead don't look promising, either. To counter it, I huddle deeper in my coat, drawing the sides closer together and folding my arms against the cold. It couldn't have been at least a warm day, could it? I close my eyes and see myself in that hallway again. Nakai standing with his bracelet in his hand, looking confused. I can feel the blood rushing to my face as I snatched it from his hand and ran down the hall. Far from my most graceful moment, but I never claimed to work well under pressure. After that, I'd sat in the courtyard staring at it, wondering how I was going to explain what happened and return it. Even now, I have no idea what came over me yesterday. I'm not usually one to panic. Not to that extent, anyhow. Looking up ahead, I see Lilly standing beside the gate, tapping her foot and humming some tune. She looks my way at the sound of my footsteps and I call out out to her, 'Hey Lilly! What are you humming?' There's a hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth as I draw up beside her.

'Just a piece I'm fond of. Ready to depart?' Lilly replies, indicating towards the road with her cane. I can't help but notice Nakai isn't here.

'Of course. Is Nakai not coming?' I ask, looking around as we begin to head off.

'Hisao offered to go ahead earlier to save us a table,' she explains as we round the corner to the main road. Strange, the Shanghai is hardly busy even during lunch, I can't imagine it being crowded at this hour. I keep my questions to myself, however, and enjoy the walk. Despite the wind and the cold, the afternoon is pleasant with the first hues of orange appearing over the hills as the day fades into the still of the evening. Lilly smiles contentedly despite missing the views, assumingly simply listening to birds nesting and the smell of flowers on the wind. It's times like this that the world feels at peace, and I can let my disjointed and distracting thoughts sink down somewhere where I can forget them for a while. The road inclines down as we get closer to the town and the day gets a little darker as we descend down towards the Shanghai. Towards Nakai, waiting for us. I chew on my lip as the thought shatters the temporary peace of mind I had. Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I could have just given the bracelet to Lilly to give to him and pretended I never met him and this mess never happened, but that feels wrong. No, I need to try and get rid of these anxieties that bubble up in my chest every time I see him. If that means forcing myself through this evening, I'll do it. Anything to feel like myself again. 'You're being terribly quiet today.' Lilly pipes up, turning to face me. She isn't hiding the concern from her voice very well.

'I'm just thinking.' I tell her, brushing it off.

'You've been "just thinking" a lot recently,' she counters. I hesitate before answering.

'...I've had a lot to think about recently,' I frown, adding, 'just haven't been thinking clearly, is the problem.'

'Perhaps something changed recently?' Lilly asks, smiling a knowing smile. Am I that transparent?

'Something has. A few things have. Normally I'm fairly good at rolling with punches as they come, but this has been something of a haymaker.'

'I understand. It's alright to feel vulnerable, you know.'

'Have you felt vulnerable?' I reply. She simply smiles in response. 'It sounds like we're here,' she announces. True enough, I hear the chatter of the town. I hadn't even noticed. People are still passing through the streets at this time, and the streetlights flicker into life as we pass under. Just across the street, the Shanghai's lanterns are lit as well. The bell above the door chimes happily when we walk in, and I scan the room before seeing Nakai sitting in a booth by himself, nursing a steaming mug. He's easy to spot as the Shanghai is as empty as I thought it'd be. I point him out to Lilly and she leads the way over to him.

'Good evening, Hisao,' she greets him as she guides herself into her seat, with myself choosing the seat beside her rather than beside Nakai.

'Oh, is it evening already?' He glances out the window, confirming his suspicions before turning back to us, 'well, good evening then, Lilly. Rika.' Nakai nods to us each in turn. Yuuko appears beside our table, struggling to balance a teetering tower of dishes against her chest while she holds out a notebook and a pen.

'Welcome to the Shanghai! Can I--oh! Lilly! Rika! Hisao!' She almost drops everything she's so precariously holding in shock before somehow managing to regain her composure, 'c-can I take your order?'

'I believe tea will do us for now, thank you Yuuko. Is that alright with everyone?' Lilly suggests.

'It should be fine,' I respond.

'Yeah,' Nakai says as well, despite the mug of what I now see is coffee in his hand.

'We'll order our food when you're a little less over-encumbered. Thank you,' Lilly says as she nods towards Yuuko, who nods back frantically, seemingly in appreciation, then scurries off to the kitchen. Alright, here we go.

'How have you been, Nakai?' I politely enquire, slipping my coat off. He seems taken aback for a moment.

'I've been... good,' not much to go off of there, but I ford on regardless.

'That's good to hear. Are you settled in at class?' That's a question people ask new people all the time.

'Well, it's been different. Life at Yamaku isn't what I'm used to,' he begrudgingly returns.

Lilly folds her hands in front of herself and nods. 'It most certainly can be a bit of a culture shock, but you'll find the students to be the people you'd find at any other school, once you get to know them. Not everyone is as strange as Rika,' she giggles fiendishly.

'You're cruel, Lilly,' I pout. With a clatter, Yuuko appears with the tea, setting three cups down. She hurries off again before we can thank her. I reach for the teapot first, filling my cup, then Lilly and Nakai's. He looks uncomfortable at the gesture. Throw me a bone, Nakai, please, this isn't easy for me either.

'Oh, if you could excuse me, I must ask Yuuko something before I forget,' Lilly suddenly claims, smiling at me. Oh Lilly, you truly are cruel. She wanders off towards the busied waitress. Stirring some milk into the cup, I regret not asking for a different blend, but I can live with English Breakfast. Taking a long sip, I shut my eyes. No time like the present.

Setting the mug down, I turn to Nakai, 'hey, remember your bracelet? You left it at the hospital! Funny, right?'

'I... I guess.' Nakai looks increasingly more uncomfortable by the minute. He clearly hasn't forgotten yesterday any more than I have. Regardless, I rummage through my bag for it and hand it to him. 'Thanks,' He mutters, as he looks down at it, 'uh, Rika...'

'Yes?' I say, trying to smile away the sudden urge to flee out of the room.

'... Nevermind. How's the tea?' He slowly finishes.

'Pardon?'

'The tea. You like tea. Dirty leaf water, right?' Nakai offers, forcing his own smile.

'Oh. Oh! Yes, tea, no, this isn't my favourite blend. I mean, I don't hate it or anything, it's just not in my top ten.' I rush out in a string of what is the equivalent of word vomit.

'You have a top ten?' He smiles again, a little more genuinely. The blood rushes to my cheeks.

'Yes, no, yes, but I mean, I don't have it like written down or anything,' I stammer out again. Nakai laughs. I laugh too.

'I didn't think there was even that many kinds. Do you just drink tea in your free time?'

'No, I do other things sometimes,' come on Rika, you do other things, think, think! 'History! I like to study history,' I suddenly add. Oh God, I sound like the most tedious person on Earth.

'History? I read some history books. Or, I read some history books, past tense. I've been reading fiction mostly since I got here,' he replies, despite how terribly boring I think I sound.

'I read a lot of fiction too, I really like sci-fi. But uh, I've been thinking of taking up a club or something,' I chatter back, sounding surprisingly excited.

'Me too. There's these girls in my class who are trying to get me to join the student council, but I don't think doing paperwork is much of a hobby,' Nakai responds. We both laugh again at that. Lilly returns, apparently done with her discussion. She slides back into the booth, beaming at me.

'You two seem to be having a good time without me,' she says, feigning a pouty frown. With a nervous chuckle, I take another sip of tea. Lilly's right, this isn't so bad. Even so, something still feels... off. Before I can worry about it, Yuuko reappears with three delicious looking cakes. She sets the French vanilla slice before Lilly, the caramel tart before me and the scone before Nakai.

Nakai glances at her suspiciously. 'Lilly...?'

'I'm afraid I took the liberty of ordering while you two were chatting away,' she smiles, innocently. I don't bother to question that Lilly remembered the same thing I ordered when I met her, and I'm sure it's the same case for Nakai as he breaks some of the scone off to dip in his tea. We sit in silence as everyone enjoys their tea, but it's not the same palpable awkward silence that was evident last time we had tea together. As I munch away on my tart, I can't get my mind away from that one niggling worry, like a dog tethered to a leash. Sneaking a glance up at Nakai, I can't tell if he has the same feeling. The feeling rises up and I do my best to ignore it. Chewing my lip again, I stare down into my tea. Seeing the worry evident on my face in my reflection, I quickly draw the cup to my mouth and try to wash away the anxiety with English Breakfast, but it's too late, Nakai noticed and he's frowning at me.

'E-excuse me, Nakai, Lilly, I need to go get some fresh air.' I mumble, throwing my coat on and half-running towards the door. I don't look back to see their faces and throw the door open. Rain, it's raining outside. I can feel myself tremble as I slide down the wall, well away from the window. Everything was going so well. I lean my head against the bricks and stare up into the rain. My mind feels like it's going fast and slow at the same time. Lower than sixty beats per minute, higher than one hundred, right. I wonder if it's fast or slow now? Feeling my heart, it gives out the same weak response as it usually does. Useless thing. The bell chimes again and I see Lilly wander out of the Shanghai, stopping to look up as she feels the rain. Despite it, she turns her head around, helplessly searching for me.

'... I'm over here,' I call out. I can't stand to look at her so helpless, no matter how much I want to be alone. Lilly darts her head over to the sound and rushes over to me, tapping me in the leg with her cane.

'Rika? Why are you on the ground? Are you okay? It's raining, aren't you cold?' Lilly ushers out a torrent of questions to rival the torrent of rain pounding down on me. Through raindrops and tears, I look up at her, her meticulously neatened hair hanging limp over hair face. Damn it.

'I'm okay. I just... I'm sorry. You should go inside. I'll be fine.' I lie through my teeth, and Lilly's frown deepens.

'Rika...'

'No, Lilly. You're getting soaked. Go back inside and enjoy your tea with Nakai, I'll head back, don't worry.' I cut her off, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand. She stands frozen, deciding what to do.

'Wait here,' she decides, hurrying off back inside. I don't think I'm going anywhere. Lilly returns shortly, producing a bright yellow umbrella. 'At least take this,' she says. I stare at it for a while, the clouded over sun blurred through the yellow plastic. Reaching up for it, I push myself to my feet and hold the umbrella over the two of us. 'Hisao will worry about you, do you want me to tell him you felt sick?' She asks, as the rain thunders against the umbrella above us.

'That would be lovely,' I don't think for a second he'll buy it, but it's something. 'Thank you, Lilly. I'll be fine,' I reassure her. Lilly frowns again and rests her hand on my shoulder.

'Everyone feels like they don't have total control sometimes. It's normal,' She sadly says, staring into my eyes with her own empty pale ones. I can't manage an answer and she walks off back inside, leaving me standing in the rain with the yellow umbrella. I look back towards Yamaku, the lights of the school a haze of yellow in the hills beyond the town through the rain. If it's normal, why do I feel so strange?
Last edited by Flopsy on Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:06 pm

Okay, commenting as I go along...

- You use apostrophes instead of quotation marks, which makes me try to read all dialogue as interior monologue first. A bit inconvenient, but I'll get used to it.
- The segue into the flashback in Chapter 1 is too abrupt. You should start a new scene there by adding a few more line breaks and a line containing something like " * * * "
- I'm not really sure here is Saki knows about Rika's condition or not. If she does she's being awfully dense, but if she doesn't why would Rika expect her to offer advice?
but she sighs and raises to her feet
"rises"
but nor do I remember
"neither"
and breath it back out
"breathe"
but her reputation does proceed her
"precede"
The whole class went [] the windows
She calls out, as her and Nakai make their leave.
"as she and Nakai take their leave"
Hisao has forgot his bracelet.
'I told you to sit closer to the radiator', she tuts.
Radiator? In June?
I'm sure she doesn't need [to be] reminded of her situation.
but you'll find the students the people you'd find at any other school, once you get to know them.
Something's wrong here...

Okay, the story is quite good so far.
One of my pet peeves is that it's a bit implausible if you write a story with first person pov and still try to keep secrets from the reader. Your Rika obviously has a problem she thinks about a lot, yet she doesn't think about it. The reader has a clear view of her thoughts yet a small segment is compartmentalized and not accessible...
But that's the only complaint I have about your story so far, so no worries :-)
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.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Wed Jan 25, 2017 2:22 pm

- You use apostrophes instead of quotation marks, which makes me try to read all dialogue as interior monologue first. A bit inconvenient, but I'll get used to it.
British English has slightly different rules regarding syntax than American English. How we use quotations is probably the most evident example, but we also use brackets or "parenthesis" differently. In speech, single quotation marks are called speech marks and used for dialogue.
- The segue into the flashback in Chapter 1 is too abrupt. You should start a new scene there by adding a few more line breaks and a line containing something like " * * * "
I'm honestly not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that. Still figuring out how I'd write it, I suppose, I thought about deleting that scene entirely when I moved it over here. I'll do something like you suggested.
- I'm not really sure here is Saki knows about Rika's condition or not. If she does she's being awfully dense, but if she doesn't why would Rika expect her to offer advice?
She does, Rika just thinks she's a nag.
Radiator? In June?
I suppose that's sort of the joke there, didn't read as well as I thought.
One of my pet peeves is that it's a bit implausible if you write a story with first person pov and still try to keep secrets from the reader. Your Rika obviously has a problem she thinks about a lot, yet she doesn't think about it. The reader has a clear view of her thoughts yet a small segment is compartmentalized and not accessible...
Well, first person writing is very much just a style of writing, but I'm not terribly sure what you mean here. Rika doesn't understand what her problem is, that's largely her issue. There's no secret kept from the reader, you understand as much about her situation as she does. There's also quite long sections of her monologueing about it, particularly in the latest one I posted. Moreso in the ones I've yet to post, too. You're pretty much privy to everything she knows, she's just very confused at this stage.

Thanks for catching all those little mistakes. Seems like no matter how many times you review something there's always something you missed. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:02 pm

Well, first person writing is very much just a style of writing, but I'm not terribly sure what you mean here. Rika doesn't understand what her problem is, that's largely her issue. There's no secret kept from the reader, you understand as much about her situation as she does. There's also quite long sections of her monologueing about it, particularly in the latest one I posted. Moreso in the ones I've yet to post, too. You're pretty much privy to everything she knows, she's just very confused at this stage.
Well, maybe I'm just reading too much into it, but there were two or three times where she implied her situation was somehow different (or worse?) from Hisao's even before she read his bracelet and knew the exact condition he was suffering from.
One of them was this here:
We're not the same.
At other times her reactions seem a bit too exaggerated to be explained by just what we've been told...
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.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:54 am

Nah, she's just in denial. Hisao being around has made her feel worse about her own condition and looking at Hisao is like a mirror for it. She's denying they're the same because she doesn't want to admit her condition is as bad. She hasn't dealt with it well, that's all. Her reactions are exaggerated because she's very anxious about her health/Hisao, and also you know, a hormonal teenager.

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:52 am

Sorry for the absence there, I've had a terrible flu. Still do, just well enough to actually make it to my desk today.
---------------------------------------
1-07: Withdraw

By this point, the rain and unseasonable cold had soaked so thoroughly through my socks that I'm beginning to wonder if I did really have toes, for I certainly can't remember a time when I could feel them. Droplets of water freshly shake of my clean shoes as I sway them back and forth in my hand, not pausing my ascent for a second to ask myself why I'd taken them off. My other hand is firmly grasped around Lilly's umbrella, folded up neatly in my fist. Stretching where I think my toes are in my socks, I can feel the old mud crack and flake off to be immediately replaced by more as step by step, I make my way through the woods.

It was an alternate path back to Yamaku I'd discovered one day with Saki. Going out with her is much like walking a dog that is much stronger than you, pulling you along to wherever she thinks is interesting. On the particular day we discovered this, we had intended to go out to the park in town for a picnic, but Saki declared the park "lame" half-way there and set out to find a better spot in the woods. We wandered up a winding trail, snaking through the underbrush towards a gap she spotted at the crest of the mountain. The memory of her pouting face when it turned out we'd looped back to Yamaku brings the beginnings of a smile to my face, but the more painful, more recent memories quickly set it back. The whole point of that stupid trip was to ease the situation with Nakai, and not only did I make it much worse, but I may have succeeded in making Lilly upset with me as well. The rush of panic when I ran out, the pang of shame when I saw Lilly look at me with genuine pity, it's all too fresh in my mind to wish away with happy memories.

As the hill begins to get steeper, I know I'm almost home. The thought of seeing Saki eagerly awaiting news makes my stomach turn with dread, but I can hardly wander through the woods all night. Suddenly, I see the muddy ground coming up to greet me as my foot catches on something and I fall onto my hands and knees, narrowly avoiding landing face-down in the slippery dirt. Crouched stock-still, I stare down at it, my neatly combed hair in tangles and knots spread throughout the mud. I wonder when my braid came loose. Almost sliding in the mud and falling again, I push myself to my knees and sob. Nakai, Lilly, I'm sorry I'm such an idiot, I don't know what's wrong with me. If I could just understand, just get a foothold somewhere in this sodden mess of my mind lately, maybe I could try and fix things. The little red cross of my medical bracelet looks up at me, half concealed by the mud, snapped off in the fall. I ball it up in my fist and hurl it into the dusk, shimmering as it flies through the rain. Useless thing just reminds me I'm useless. The thought makes me begin to well up with tears again, but I forcefully shake them away and rise to my feet. Tonight is the last night I feel this way. With purpose, I carefully make the last bout of the climb, guiding my steps with caution on the slippery ground. Before long, I emerge from the trees to see the streetlights shining blurrily in the rain against the school gate, illuminating Saki standing with an umbrella staring down the road. Lilly must have beat me here. I wonder how.

The sudden, now familiar, urge to flee becomes evident but I clench my hands into fists and walk on anyway. It's a funny thing, watching someone's face transition through so many emotions at once. Concern, shock, anger and empathy all flashed across Saki's face as she spotted me, to be replaced with a simple look of bitter worry. Wordlessly, I ducked under her umbrella and stood beside her, forcing something that I hoped resembled a smile. 'It went well,' I offer. Saki opens her mouth to speak, closes it, opens it again and then just sighs.

'Let's go inside and get you in something dry, huh?' Saki says, looping her arm around mine and heading to the dorms. We don't encounter many people on the way, but I catch the stares of the few that are there. Looking down at myself, I do look quite a sight; drenched by rain, with mud and grass stains running up the legs of my tights and all over my coat. Endeavouring to ignore them, I fix my eyes on the entrance to the dormitories. Saki is quiet as we walk, so the only sound to distract me is the ever-present rain pattering on her umbrella. I listen to it, and close my eyes, imagining I'm sitting beside my window in my old room, wrapped up in a blanket beside the window on a rainy day, laughing about a joke with a friend whose face I can't remember. 'Rika? You there?' I open my eyes to Saki standing inside the dormitory hall, waving her hand at me with her umbrella folded and leaning against the wall.

'Of course, sorry, lost in thought,' I mutter offer her an apologetic smile. She returns it, but it's not her usual carefree grin that she seems to wear everywhere. Stopping to pick up her umbrella, she reaches for my hand; I pull away, beginning to protest due to the matter of my hands being caked in mud, but she cuts me off.

'Don't be silly,' she assures me as she snatches my hand and drags me down the hall. Pausing at the stairs, Saki looks me up and down. 'You know, you should probably shower off the dirt you've got on your everywhere,' she tuts, running a strand of my hair through her fingers, 'even in your hair! Although I can't remember the last time I saw you with it down.' Saki adds, before dragging me to the bathrooms and practically tossing me through the door, a towel shortly following.

'And come straight up to my room when you're done! We have some talking to do!' She shouts through the closed door. I nod, before I realise that there's a door between us. My head's processing things with a several second delay. As is to prove that, I only now notice the steam clouding my vision. I feel my body ease with the warmth, but it does mean that the bathroom's not as unoccupied as I had assumed it would be. Walking down the stalls where the showers are, I see two small bare feet through the gap of the one furthest to the wall, and a peaceful snoring carrying out from it. While I'm curious, I'm more concerned.

Knocking twice on the door, I hear a sleepy 'Yeeeeeah?' come from inside. It's enough to content me that mystery sleeping shower girl is alright, so I head off to my own stall. My clothes practically have to be peeled off of me, and I throw them haphazardly over the stall door. The warmth of the water feels pleasant on my skin and running through my hair, but I can't shake the feeling of numbness despite the heat. Saki's demeanour was hard to read, and I feel as though I should brace myself for a scolding. I wonder what Lilly told her? Does she know I ran out? Does she know how I was outside the Shanghai? The last remnants of my make up run down my face and into the drain in a murky black puddle and I wring the dirt out of hair. Maybe all Lilly did was ask if I got home okay, and Saki went out looking for me when I hadn't. Did Nakai ask after me? No, that's not going to help, I shake my head as though manually shaking out any thoughts of him. Idly, I finish scrubbing the last of the foliage off myself and allow my mind to settle into quiet. Better to think of nothing at all than to make myself upset again. With on a mild strain of effort, I manage to turn the water off and the pipes creak in response. The door is opened a crack as I grope about for my towel beside the stall, and I pull it around myself before grabbing my muddy clothes into a sort of ball in my hands. The mystery sleeping shower girl has plodded off to the sink while I was in the shower, and as I walk up beside her to inspect myself in the mirror I see she's the girl from Nakai and Hanako's class I often see sleeping on the bean bags in the library. 'Hey, mud-feet,' she mumbles in greeting as she buttons up her pajamas.

'Mud-feet?' I ask, not sure whether to be offended.

'S'all I could see in the stall. You possessed very muddy feet,' she looks down before continuing, 'look clean now though. Good job.'

'... Thanks?' I reply, a little stunned. She gives a thumbs up gesture and plods down out the door, humming some non-discriminate tune. I look out the door after her for a while, trying to process the brief encounter before simply giving up and turning my attention to the mirror. The bags under my eyes certainly don't look better than they did this afternoon, and my eyes themselves are still puffy from crying. Terrific. I hate looking how I feel. Nothing for it I suppose, and turn to walk out the bathroom, throwing my dirty clothes in the general direction of the laundry room's open door. There aren't any more strange encounters as I head up the stairs to my room, turning the door handle to see my pajamas freshly folded on my bed. The small gesture warms my mood a bit, and I slip them on then knock on Saki's door. It opens without a moment's delay to reveal her standing with her arms crossed.

'You took your time,' she says, frowning.

'I had a run-in with the blue-haired girl from Hanako's class. Nice girl. Strange girl,' I answer, walking past her to sit on her bed. Saki decides not to inquire and sits down beside me, regarding me sternly.

'What happened today, Rika?' She asks, voice still held stern but with sympathy creeping in.

'Lots of stuff, you know. Had tea, went for a walk in the rain, pleasant day all in all,' I joke, unsmiling. With a deep breath, Saki looks down then regards me again.

'Honestly, Rika. Lilly came in asking if you were in your room. She wouldn't tell me anything other than that you "weren't feeling at yourself", but you were supposed to be out with her. Between this and the hospital visit I don't know what to think. What happened today?' She asks again, worry now evident in her voice. At least Lilly didn't rat me out. Although I want to talk, the words simply won't come, so I just stare back at Saki, trying to stop my mouth from quivering. After a while Saki stands up, taking a deep breath and turning around with something of a smile. 'How about I brew us up some tea while you think about it, huh?' She says, patting my hand before she heads into my room to fetch my teapot. I take the opportunity to lean back on the bed and push my hands to my temples. What can I tell her? "I broke down in tears seemingly out of random while having tea and cake and then walked without shoes through a forest in the freezing rain"? Although she probably figured out the last part already.

[Cont.]

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Re: Cup and Saucer: A Rika Fan Route

Post by Flopsy » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:57 am

Saki returns with teapot in one hand and a tin of tea labelled Nilgiri in the other. I smile at her opting for something strong, and she catches me and smiles back. 'Now that's more like it. Ready to talk?' She requests over her shoulder, busying herself with brewing the tea at her counter.

'Ready as I'll ever be,' I reply, taking the cup she offers as she sits down beside me. Pressing it to my lips, I can't help but think back to the night Nakai arrived and I tried to explain how I felt to Saki. So much has happened in so little time. I take a deep breath and begin, 'have you ever felt like you don't know who you are anymore? Not just in a typical day-to-day adolescent manner of it, but having something come and topple over everything that you thought made you who you are?' Saki furrows her brow, then takes a long sip of her tea.

'If I follow like I'm pretty sure I don't, this is about Nakai, right?'

'Yes? Maybe? I don't know. I think it is, but then I think it's my heart, and then I think it's my future, and I've been reading all these books...' I trail off, stumbling over my words.

'Well, when did this all start?' She softly asks, resting her hand on my shoulder.

'Around when Nakai arrived, but that doesn't have to mean it was him, right? At the same time as that the tests were coming up, and I was very upset Winter was over because you know I like snow--'

'Rika, you're rambling. You know full well that it was Hisao arriving,' Saki interjected.

'What if I do? What does that mean?' I moaned, falling back onto the bed. Saki looked down at me and raised an eyebrow.

'No, it does not mean that,' I clarified, folding my arms in protest.

'Alright, alright, ignoring that you obviously have a massive schoolgirl crush on Hisao, what else could it be?' She demands playfully, pulling me back up to the edge of the bed.

'It'd be so simple if I knew the answer to that, wouldn't it? Much too simple, which is of course why I don't know. It could be one thing, it could be a combination of things, it could be none of those things and something entirely different that hasn't even crossed my mind yet, despite how long I've been torturing myself with this!' I get a little heated as I explain my circumstance, almost spilling my tea as I throw my arms up. Saki is silent as I take a sip and continue, 'and you know what the worst bit of it all is? I'm helpless. Every time I try and fix things I end up running down a hallway like an idiot or in a damn hospital bed.' The sounds of Emi screaming for help echoes through my head again, accompanied by the thudding of my heart that day and I have to turn my head to hide the tears welling up again.

'Oh, Rika, it's alright,' I hear the soft clank of Saki setting her tea down before she throws her arms around me and squeezes me in a hug, head resting on my shoulder. 'Sometimes life takes you in unexpected directions. You know that, I know that, everyone in this school has first hand experience with it. And you know what we do, Rika? We roll with whatever is thrown our way. We always have, and this isn't any different.'

She turns me around and pulls my chin up when I try and hide away. Wiping the tears off my cheeks, she continues, 'and you know you'll figure this one out, you always do.' With a sniff I look at her and manage a weary smile.

'Maybe I will.' I say, voice cracking.

'There's my girl! We'll figure this out bit by bit, but how about some sleep for now?' Saki suggests. I nod, and she hurries into my room, shortly returning with my blankets. 'I'll sleep on the floor, but you're sleeping here tonight. I'm not leaving you to torture yourself.' She insists, laughing at the last part. Nodding stupidly again, I burrow my way under Saki's blankets as she arranges the blankets to a makeshift bed on the floor.

'Good-night, Rika. Cheer up, alright?' Saki calls out as she switches off her lamp.

'I'll try.'

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