Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

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AJT135
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by AJT135 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:13 pm

Another great chapter. There's only a couple of minor issues, like near the start when you misspelled tanabata as "tarabata". Also, I've also noticed that you tend to leave out some question marks, specifically when the speech is followed with "asked Rika", "they asked" and so forth. For example:
“Should you be drinking coffee with your heart,” Rika asks.
Should have a question mark.

Lastly, there's an apostrophe where there shouldn't be one in the Shanghai scene when menus are being discussed.

Minor grammatical issues aside, I liked this chapter. The scene at the end where Hisao reads Rika's wish was cute. I'm also liking your version of Rika so far, since I'm generally not a fan of the depressing nihilistic one that's so common.

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:45 am

So I seem to have missed the last update, so here the comments for the previous chapters as well.

- Still quite a few instances of past tense. Not going to list them all.
- Still a few instances of "counsel"
After we finish our drinks, we head back to campus
Didn't he go to the Shanghai because he was hungry?
a familiar voice three times too loud enters the room.
A voice can't enter a room.
A pair of arms both give me a hug at the same time.
Two pairs of arms? Because it would be hard for one pair to give a hug NOT at the same time :-)
“You… left a letter from her in my grocery bag.
You had a time-skip of several weeks between the letter and this scene...
Rika indeed was wearing a yakuta
Yukata. Misspelled one more time further down. Also one of the instances of past tense.
Add on that Shizune's route includes a day or two of classes after Tanabata, making ballpark of August 13 a reasonable time to start the summer break.
A possible explanation - if you need one - could be that they let the school year run longer to allow for the larger than average number of days missed because of hospital stays etc.

Your Shizune is not really in character - she's WAY too likeable. Not that I'm complaining :-)

Apart from that some very good chapters - especially the scene at the end!
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.

Downix
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:57 pm

This part gave me an opportunity to explore multiple paths to reach a specific point. I'd had the plot role of Miki and Suzu done by Shizune and Misha, Keiko and Aoi, and even Kenji in previous iterations. I thoroughly enjoyed the final result however.

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I really need to take a day to clean up the older sections.
Rika_Act3.png
Rika_Act3.png (254.54 KiB) Viewed 701 times
ACT 3 Wool and Water:

The Lion and the Unicorn:


I remember what happened last night.

The wish.

The kiss.

Two broken hearts, there, before anyone and everyone.

What are we doing?

What is this madness?

For that moment, all was right.

The ride back to campus holding hands.

The kiss goodnight before we returned to our respective dorms.

We are broken people.

We are broken together.

It is enough.

The morning alarm reminds me that the world continues to spin. There she is, as every morning. But today is different. Instead of falling into step with a clear space between us, I find a hand around my arm, and a warmth leaning against my body as we walk.

“Sleep well?” I ask her.

She shakes her head. “Too much on my mind. You?”

“Same,” I look at her, and could not help but smile. Her cheeks are flush, but the slight smile there made it all worthwhile.

It takes a few steps to say the next thing on my mind. “Are you ok with this?”

She nods. “As long as it’s you, I think it will be alright.”

“So, can’t have a boyfriend,” I ask to her in a half mocking tone.

“Well, father said…” her voice fades off before finishing the sentence. “Well, he said a lot of things. I suppose he can be wrong over one thing. Then again there are… things boyfriends and girlfriends do. I don’t… that is….”

Now it is my turn to blush. “Oh, right.”

That really was a concern, wasn’t it? What if we are in the middle and…?

Ahead of us, I could already see the twin pigtails stretching. A bold wave, then she froze, eyes wide staring at us. A few moments, then a huge smile crosses her face.

“Oh, I knew it,” Emi says bounding up to us. “Tell me how it happened! Tell me, tell me! Who confessed first?”

I chuckle and look over to Rika. “Neither. It just, happened.”

“Oh, come on!”

“Hey, what are you, the school gossip? And don’t I have to run?” I ask Emi.

She gives me a stern look. “Ok… lunch, you two join us for lunch! Tell me then!”

I guide Rika to the bleachers, and sneak a quick kiss from her.

She calls after Emi, “Alright, just this once.”

I look at her, puzzled.

She laughs and yells after me. “Lunch. Emi’s been trying to get me to join her for ages.”

“Is this eating on the roof going to become a weekly occurrence?” I yell back to Rika.

She shrugs. “Would it be bad if it did?”

“I guess not. Ok, need to run.”

As we start our run, I ask Emi with mock indignation, “So, you ask everyone to lunch, huh? And here I thought I was special!”

“Well, not everyone.”

I just laugh.

--------

“What kind of activities are we discussing here,” the nurse asks, with a knowing grin.

It is so embarrassing to ask, “Well, um, I dunno, stuff.” I am sitting on the edge of the exam table in his office.

He looks at me suspiciously. “And this, stuff, has it anything to do with the fact Rika joined you here this morning?” He breaks out into one of his grins.

I just blush there.

“Well, I can tell you that many people with your condition do, indeed, enjoy… stuff. You just have to be a bit more cautious, take it slow. Stuff does not need to be rushed into. Take it slow, nice and easy. And, make sure you’re careful in doing… stuff… with her. I do know what you both take for medicine after all.”

In a more serious tone, “You sound fine this morning. Were you just here to discuss stuff, or did you do something last night that had you worried,” nurse asked, his grin returning.

Don’t talk about what happened. Don’t talk about what happened.

“I had to run after Rika,” My mouth really needs to check in before it opens sometimes.

Nurse looks surprised. “Wait, so you both were running?”

“Er, yes.”

Now he looks stern, then goes to the door and looks out. “Rika, in here.” Once she has entered, and sat down next to me, he continues. “Rika’s not in as good a shape as you Hisao. It was irresponsible for you to drag her out running.”

Rika looks a bit embarrassed. “Actually, I was the one who ran. He was only trying to catch me.”

Nurse then sighs and rubs his head. “So, the stupid is contagious, great. Rika, did you experience any pains or discomfort?”

Rika keeps her eyes on the floor. “Yes… I stated to feel a pounding in my chest, and could not breathe. Hisao helped me calm down, and it stopped.”

“And where were you running?” The nurse asked.

“In town, the park,” she replied.

Now it was turn for his eyebrows to go up. “Did you take a taxi into town?”

Rika shook her head. “We… walked.”

Nurse looks like he does not fully believe us. “You walked? Into town? Then while down there, you ran?”

Rika nods.

The nurse considers a moment before speaking next. “Hisao, can you sit in the hallway a moment. I should check her heart.”

“No, he… can stay,” Rika blurts out.

Nurse looks at her, the skepticism clear on his face.

Rika nods. “It would… I would… feel more comfortable… with him.”

I don’t even remember when she began holding my hand.

I watch as the nurse checks. Right next to her, I can see her scar in more detail. It looks more vicious than mine, and more that there is a scar, on top of an older scar. Then I realize, she is not wearing the sports bra I’d seen before, but a regular black one. My eyes follow the scar up, to her collarbone, continuing past the scar to wander up her neck, then her face. When I reach her eyes, I realize she’s been looking at me out of the corner of her eye the whole time, with a small smile on her face.

“Enjoying the show?” the nurse asks, taking me completely by surprise.

“No sir, I, um...” My cheeks feel like they are on fire.

Rika just sits there giggling.

The nurse finishes checking. “Your heart sounds fine Rika. Frankly, if I didn’t know better, I would have said it was perfectly normal, which is unusual.”

“Is that… bad?” Rika asks.

“That’s good, actually. It means you can likely go out and do… stuff.” Nurse winks at me.

Rika looks puzzled.

“Ok you two, off to class before you’re late.”

--------

Arm in arm, me holding her parasol, this was something I could get very used to.

“What did you think?” Rika asked.

“Of what?” I ask back.

“My bra,” she answered.

“What should I think?” I ask.

“Usually a boyfriend compliments his girlfriend’s underclothes,” Rika says in a matter of fact tone.

I decide on playing this coyness back to her. “Usually when a boyfriend gets the chance to see them, he is trying very hard to remove them.”

Rika giggles a bit.

I smile “Well, I don’t know. I’d have to get another look. The atmosphere there was not exactly romantic.”

“How forward of you Mister Nakai,” Rika’s playful tone carried itself to my ears, and I could not help but smile.

A few steps later she rubs at her chest. “Everything alright?” I ask her.

“I usually wear a sports bra because normal ones rub at my scar. It’s itchy.”

I can’t help but laugh a little bit at that.

“It’s not funny! Ah!” She tries to adjust.

We finish the walk in comfortable silence, and a few chest scratches.

-------

“Hicchan,” the too loud for the whispering tone it was trying for voice next to me said.

“Not now Misha,” I whisper back. I look up and see Mutou glaring at Misha as well.

“Hrmph,” came the response.

I get back to work. However once Mutou’s back is turned to writing something on the board, I suddenly feel something hit the side of my head. I glare back where it came from, and saw Shizune trying to look far too innocent for that playful look in her eyes. Looking down, I see a folded piece of paper, that paper football thing she tried to convince me to play before.

Looking up, Mutou is still back to, so I pick it up and unfold it. Inside is a note.

“According to the student handbook, there are to be no public displays of affection during school.”

I blink, then look at her. She looks at me with a less than pleased look on her face.

Misha finally gives in to the pressure and bursts out in her patented “WAHAHAHA!”

The entire class glares at her at once.

Mutou starts to speak, “Miss Mikado, kindly….”

The lunch bell cuts him off.

I stand up to step out of the classroom, then notice Miki and Suzu just leaning on their desks, looking right at me. Suzu looks on in shock, while Miki looks very pleased with herself.

“Told you,” Miki finally says to Suzu, winking at her. “And in public, too!”

Suzu starts to chuckle. “Wow, just wow.”

I try and walk past them, only to have Miki grab my sleeve. “Hold on, just a moment. You forgot something.” She pulls Rika’s tanzaku out of her bag. “You guys left this in the park yesterday. Thought you’d want it back.” As I move to take it from her, she pulls it away, asking “You guys have any date plans yet?”

“Well, no. It’s all new to both of us.”

Miki thinks a moment. “Ok, meet us at the track after practice Friday.”

“Why there?”

“So we can go on a double date, goofball,” Miki says. “It’ll be a good way to open a three day weekend, right?” She hands the tanzaku over to me.

“I don’t know, Rika’s not good at long walks.”

Suzu waves a hand. “Don’t worry. We were going to use the bus anyways. Come on, it’ll be fun!”

“I’ll ask Rika, alright?”

Miki looks very pleased with herself. “See you then, lover boy.” Suzu walks out with her.

I quickly walk to the stairs and out onto the roof. The light blinds me briefly. When I look out, it seems I am the last to arrive. Sitting on the benches, Emi and Rin are across from Rika.

Emi cries out to me, “No fair, she won’t tell me!”

Rin is actually sitting there with a smile on her face, clearly enjoying Emi’s annoyance. I think that’s the clearest emotion I’ve ever seen her express.

I mosey on over and slide down next to Rika. I look over to her. “Well, shall I?”

Rika just looks over at me before resting her head on my shoulder.

I then pull out the tanzaku and hold it so it can be read.

Emi looks it over, then goes “Oh? OH! Ooooohhhh.”

Rin looks at it blankly. “I don’t get it.”

I hand it to Rika. “Miki apparently saw us last night, and picked this up after I chased you.”

She sits up, takes it and places it gently on her lap. Then with careful grace she puts one hand on it and looks at me, with a sweet smile on her face. “I. Don’t. Care.” I could feel her feet swinging under the bench.

“She and Suzu asked if we’d go on a double date with them,” I tell Rika.

Rika’s eyes go wide. “A… a date?”

“Do you want to?” I ask her.

“I’ve never… I mean, I don’t… no, yes, I mean yes, let’s go.”

I look back at Emi… and I swear she had a full lunchbox when I sat down. Now it’s sitting there all but empty. How did she eat it that fast?

“Still, it’s good that you two finally got together. Rin and I had a bet over you two,” Emi says.

Rin then says “I lost 500 yen,” in her flat style between mouthfuls of noodles.

I cannot believe it. “Seriously, you bet on us getting together?”

“Miki and Aoi did too,” Rin says flatly.

“I can’t believe any of you guys,” I say, hiding the laughter from my voice very poorly. “Explains why Miki was so pleased with herself.”

Rika rubs a hand down my arm. Her sunglasses dig in a little bit where she is leaning, but I don’t mind.

Rin then looks at us, swallowing the food in her mouth before asking, “Does it feel different?”

“Does what feel different?” Rika asks.

“Being boyfriend and girlfriend?” Rin asks, her eyes never shifting from her food.

Rika says “No, I suppose it doesn’t. But it does mean I can do this now.” I find my head yanked to the side, and Rika’s lips locked to mine.

So that’s what the veal cutlet tastes like.

The bell rang. I start picking up our lunches when Emi slaps my hand away. “No, I’m cleaning up. You two go, do, couple, stuff.”

Rika and I just look at each other, and give one more kiss before we enter the school, and the “no public displays of affection” zone.
Last edited by Downix on Tue May 15, 2018 2:15 am, edited 3 times in total.

Downix
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:04 am

Walrus and the Carpenter:

Despite the dullness of English, the afternoon classes on Friday go quickly. Before I know it, Rika and I are standing by the track, watching the team meeting and waiting for Emi, sitting in the bleachers together. I am holding her parasol for her, and she snuggling up under my arm. This is a good feeling.

“Aww, how cute,” a voice behind us says.

“Hi Suzu,” I call back to her, not even bothering to look around.

“Aren’t you guys going to make yourselves presentable?” Suzu asks.

“What do you mean?” Rika asks.

“Well, get out of your school uniform, put on some makeup, maybe perfume, jewelry, you know, be presentable,” Suzu says.

“I don’t actually have any outfits besides uniforms, save for my old soccer clothes and sweaters and it’s a bit too warm for those,” I tell her.

Rika looks a bit nervous. “I have other outfits, but no, no makeup. And no perfume or jewelry. They hurt my skin.”

“Nonsense, there are plenty of options designed not to cause an allergic reaction. Come, the meeting can last up to an hour, and I know another girl who also has allergies. She should be able to recommend something,” Suzu says, grabbing Rika’s hand. “You stay here Hisao! Don’t want to spoil things.”

The meeting is rather dull to watch. I find myself turning to a book I’d kept in my jacket’s pocket to pass the time. I am vaguely aware of the meeting ending, and pull myself out of my book as Emi and Miki both come up to the bleachers.

“Ok, ready,” Miki asks. Then she looks around. “Um, where’s your cuter half? Or mine, for that matter.”

“Right here” Suzu says as she walks up. “Had to help Rika get ready.”

Miki whistles in an appreciative manner as I turn around to look, and find myself stunned by the vision before me. Rika had changed out of her school uniform, and is how wearing a very puffy red dress, I vaguely recall some kind of French style popular over a century ago which was having a comeback of some kind. Long gloves cover her arms, and she wears knee length socks over tights on her legs. No patch of skin is exposed, save for her face, which was now adorned with a hint of color. Her lips are red, reminding me of when she stuck her tongue out at me. On her shoulder, her parasol sat lazily.

“Yeah, cuter half, what did I say,” Miki says as she poked me with her arm stump.

Emi breaks out in her signature grin. “I don’t think I could pull off that look. Wow.”

Miki laughs. “Come on. I just need to shower and change. Meet me by the pool.”

I break out of my trance to look at Miki. “Why the pool?”

“Because, dummy, that’s where the showers are. I’m not going back to my room and fight with four other girls for a shower when I can do it right here without any wait,” Miki’s smile is rather infectious. “Plus, now I’ve got to make myself look all pretty. Otherwise Rika might steal my girlfriend!”

“Would not!” Rika exclaims. “I only have eyes for one person.” She walks up and curtseys to me.

“You look, amazing. I feel very under dressed now,” I tell her.

She blushes.

Emi was positively beaming, “Great! You guys have fun!”

“What, you’re not coming?” I turn and look at her.

“Nope, I don’t have a date! Next time I have a boyfriend though, it’s on!” Emi trots off.

Walking towards the showers with the track team was a new experience. All of them seemed to be in some kind of hurry. Rika and I just walked together at a gentle pace, arm in arm. A stark contrast.

The pool was not too busy today. Some girl I’d not seen before was doing laps, but that was it.

“I’ve not actually been in here you know,” Rika says, watching the pool reflections along the wall with amazement. She looks like a child, standing in awe at the world.

She puts a hand up, to see the shadow in the reflection. Cautiously she steps forward, to see that shadow grow.

“Don’t get too close there,” I cry out to her. “The floor is wet.”

She looks at me and sticks her tongue out at me before smiling and returning to gazing at the light reflection. She has her hand all the way up, just gazing at her shadow in the light display.

Miki finally exits the showers, changed back into her school uniform. “Alright everyone, ready?”

“Ready,” I cry out. “You coming Rika?” I yell in her direction.

Rika comes out of her trance. “Coming.”

She turns, and the world shifts into slow motion. Her left foot slides out from under her on a patch of wet concrete. We all can only watch as she falls over, a face of pure surprise.

She lands with a thud on her side. As we rush over, she looks confused.

“Are you alright?” Miki asks as I help sit Rika up. Then I hear another thump, a bit softer, and Miki looks up. “Oh shit,” Miki then says, and rushes over to Suzu, now lying on the floor herself.

Rika shakes her head, and blinks her eyes. Then she pulls her hand off of the ground. I could see water dripping from her glove where she’d accidentally put it into a small puddle left behind by some previous swimmer. With a look of horror she pulls her still damp glove off, holds her hand up in front of her, then freezes.

“What, is your hand hurting?” I ask.

A look of confusion settles in on her face, as she turns her hand from front to back, looking at it.

“Are you ok?” I ask, a bit firmer this time.

Rika finally realizes I am there, and shakes her head for a moment. “Oh, yes, I’m fine.”

“Here, let me help you up,” I tell her. “If it makes you feel better, Suzu also fell over.” A few moments later, she is back on her feet, and we head over to Suzu.

Miki is squatting next to her form. As we approach she looks up. “Welcome to Cataplexy. Her muscles stop working when she gets shocked or has big emotions. It’s like, bang, you end up a lifeless doll.”

“Will she be alright?” Rika asks.

Miki laughs. “Yeah, it takes a minute or two, don’t worry.”

As Miki says, a minute later and Suzu begins to move. “Pain in the ass,” she says as she moves her arms under her to try and stand up. Miki helps, which is interesting to watch on many levels.

“Come on, let’s go to the nurse, better safe than sorry, plus we have to walk past his office on the way out anyways,” Miki says to us all.

The nurse has Suzu with him for a few minutes. Rika is sitting in silence next to me, just looking at her wet hand, while holding me tight with her other hand. I wound up carrying her parasol over one arm, getting more than a few snickers from Miki and Suzu.

“You sure you’re ok?” I ask Rika.

“I… Nurse!” she cries out as Suzu leaves his office.

“Yes, what is it Rika?” He puts on his serious face.

She walks up to him and holds her bare hand out. “I got wet at the pool.”

He raises an eyebrow. “And? What’s all this about?”

“I can’t go into a pool! I break out in a rash!” She sounds confused, like she is trying to put thoughts together. Then in a quieter voice, “I break out in a rash…”

“While yes, people with your condition have skin sensitivity, I’ve never heard of a case involving pool water before.” Nurse looks very matter of fact on the matter. “Who told you that you had issues with the pool?”

“My… my father…” Rika’s voice trails off.

The nurse muses that for a moment. “I don’t remember any skin rashes or allergies in your medical records. Let’s review your file quick, alright?” Nurse guides her into his office.

Before she’s fully inside, she stops.

“Hisao, please?” she looks back, her eyes pleading.

She was scared of something.

I hurry up to her, and hold her hand for comfort. It was shaking, and still wet.

The nurse goes through a few filing cabinets, and pulls out a folder. We sit there watching as he flips through it. “Nope, not seeing anything about pool water causing any issues for you here. I see the pool exemption, citing being unable to swim, but that’s it. Not finding any skin issues at all, beyond your albinism. Take a look for yourself.”

She just about grabs the folder out of his hands, and starts to read. Then she re-reads it. even more frantically she reads it again.

“No, no, no… not in here… nothing’s in here…” Rika looks at the nurse. “Why isn’t it in here?”

“Did you ever have a dermatologist perform an allergen test?” the nurse asks.

“All done as a baby. He said it was all tested as a baby,” Rika whispers.

The nurse frowns. “Well, your medical records don’t show any kind of positive test. Maybe it was left out?”

“You’ve never checked your own medical history before?” I ask her.

“Well, no. Father always took care of it,” she says in a dazed voice.

“Well, I’ll check with him. Don’t worry about it right now,” the nurse says in a reassuring voice. “Now get going, it seems you guys are dressed up to go somewhere.”

Miki smiles as we exit. “All set? Let’s go!”

Suzu then checks her side. “My purse? I must have dropped it back at the pool.”

“No worries, we’ll swing back by it on the way out,” Miki says as she takes Suzu’s hand.

I find Rika clinging to me a bit more than before, shivering slightly. “Are you ok?” I ask her.

“Just walk for now,” she says in a quiet voice. I could see on her face that she was troubled.

As we walk back into the pool room, Rika lets go of my arm and stays behind me.

“Shoot, not there. Come on, help look for it, must have slid when I fell,” Suzu says.

I walk into the room and we all head out in different directions, our eyes on the ground.

I don’t realize that Rika has walked away from us until I look back, and see her now kneeling at the edge of the pool, her body hiding whatever she is doing. I guess that she is looking at her own reflection in the water.

Miki cries out, “Found it! Come on guys or we’ll miss the next bus!”

Rika snaps out of it, and quickly rushes over to my side looking down. I have never felt her cling to me this tightly before. Nor have I seen her face so troubled.

“Are you cold?” I ask her. “You’re shivering.”

“What? Oh, no, let’s go, I don’t want to miss the bus.” She pulls on my arm a bit.

I then notice that she’s dripping water, a lot of water, from her still bare hand, the one that’s not holding onto me.
Last edited by Downix on Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:39 pm

“Same,” I look at her, and could can not help but smile. Her cheeks were are flush, but the slight smile there made makes it all worthwhile.
Still quite a fe past tenses slipping in. This is an example with three in one line.
Surprises me a little since the rest of your SpaG is really good...
I’m not going back to my room and fight with four other girls for a shower when I can do it right here without any wait,
Given that a) it's afternoon and b) the whole track team just came off practice, there'd probably be less of a wait in the dorms :-)
Next time I have a boyfriend though, it’s on!
Great line for Emi!

Also nice development for your story. But don't feel rushed to finish a new chapter every other day!
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.

Downix
Posts: 152
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:39 pm

Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:04 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:39 pm
Also nice development for your story. But don't feel rushed to finish a new chapter every other day!
This makes me laugh, as truth is I'm writing two different stories at once, because of course I am. I'm only putting one on here, and it's several chapters behind where I actually am.

Downix
Posts: 152
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:39 pm

Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:33 am

For this, I borrowed locations from the excellent Miki route, Summer's Clover. I'll admit a love of that route, and how it really developed both Miki and Suzu as characters. If you've been under a rock for the past several years, or are new to KS in general, I highly recommend it.

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

A Mad Tea Party.

“You seriously wanted us to get dressed up, for burgers and fries?” I really am astonished.

For her part, Suzu smiles in her devilish manner. “Hey, it’s only the first stop. Plus, have to admit, every eye in the place is on your girlfriend.”

I squeeze my arm which is over her shoulders a bit. “Well, they can’t have her. So, is everybody ready to order their drinks at least?”

General nods all around.

Miki says “Melon Cola.”

Suzu orders “Mango Smoothie.”

I say simply “Coffee.”

Rika then turns to the waiter and says “Coffee for me too.”

As the waiter walks off, I look over at her. “I thought you said you can’t drink coffee.”

“One cup will be… ok I think.” She has this look of determination on her face.

I shrug. “Well, ok.”

She has a small note pad out, and is writing down something in it. I try and peek over her shoulder to see what she is writing, but she moves to hide it from me, holding a finger up in front of my face. “Ah, secret!”

Suzu snickers at this. “Oh come now, you can’t take out a notebook in front of him, then say it’s a secret.”

Rika just sticks her tongue out at Suzu, then calmly closes the notebook and puts it into her clutch.

“So, is everyone ready to order their food when the waiter gets back?” I ask.

“Don’t worry about that, already ordered,” Miki says.

I look at her. “Uh, when?”

She grins like she is proud of herself. “While you guys were dilly dallying about getting to the table. I ordered the house special, a burger for each of us and a bucket of fries to split!”

I shrug. “Well, I guess that’s what I would have ordered anyways. What about you two?”

Suzu and Rika both mumble general agreement.

Miki’s smile just stays. “So predictable.”

Our drinks are set out before us. Rika quickly picks up her cup and takes a sip, before making a disgusted face. “Yuck!”

We all laugh.

I tell her, “Few people drink it black. See, I add sugar and milk to mine. Why don’t you try that?”

She looks skeptical, but tries it. A hesitant sip later, she nods. “Ok, better. But still, not what I was expecting.”

Suzu looks at Rika curiously. “You’ve never had coffee?”

Rika shakes her head.

“Why did you decide on trying now?” Suzu asks.

Rika pauses a moment, then answers. “To prove something to myself.”

Miki’s smile at this point seems a permanent feature of her face. “Good girl! You’ve got nothing to prove to anybody else.”

“So, why did you guys want a double date anyways?” I ask.

“Are you kidding? Two girls by themselves, we’d have every creep in 7 kilometers hitting on us. You with three girls, nobody will mess with us. It’s the perfect creep repellent.” Suzu takes a sip once she finishes talking.

“Yeah, instead it’s you get to be the ultimate stud for a 4 kilometer radius,” Miki says.

Why do creeps have a larger radius than studs?

I hear a clink of a cup next to me, and see that Rika’s coffee is empty.

“Did you like it?” I ask her.

“I don’t know yet. It’s so, alien to me, I want to try more.” She looks down at the cup, as if trying to explain to it what was on her mind.

“Oh good, the food’s here,” Miki says. “Dig in.”

Despite the quantity of food, it disappeared rapidly.

As we prepare to get up, I notice Rika taking out that little notebook, and crossing something off from it, then getting up and taking my arm. I consider asking her about it, but her kiss wipes away that curiosity.

“Shall we be off?” Suzu smiles as she stands.

“Lead away,” I tell her.

--------

All of us gasp as the giant manta passes by the aquarium window above us. The pale blue light coming from the tank illuminates our faces, filled with wonder.

“So, why haven’t you taken me here before?” Miki asks.

Suzu rests her hands on Miki’s shoulders. “Because the last time I came here I was… 7, I think.”

“Well, you’re not 7 now,” Miki says, leaning her head onto one of Suzu’s hands.

I look down at Rika, pressing herself against my chest, and tighten my arms around her. “Well, you’re local. Have you ever been here?”

Rika shakes her head and speaks softly. “No. Father always said… well, no.” Her eyes follow a pair of turtles swimming by.

I look over, to find Suzu and Miki have wandered off. I look around, and the aquarium is relatively sparse for visitors right now. I suppose that it is closing soon has something to do with it.

Rika looks up at me. “Do they have one of those areas where you can touch things?”

I gesture in a direction with my head. “Let’s go find out.”

As we walk along, I see Miki and Suzu standing by the shark tank. Miki is miming clutching her arm stump while Suzu laughs. I just shake my head as we pass by.

I point to a sign. “There, Touch Pool.”

As we walk up, she slowly takes her gloves off, and puts them into her clutch.

I kneel next to it and pick up a sea urchin. “Hold your hand out.”

Rika hesitates before closing her eyes, and slowly holds her hand out, palm up.

I gently set the ball of spikes in her hand.

Standing there grimacing, she holds it like the thing is going to bite her. But as it sits there, her face relaxes. She slowly opens her eyes, then looks down at the creature. Gingerly, she reaches out with her other hand to touch the top of it.

I wish I could capture that look of wonder on her face.

“Don’t leave it out too long, they are ocean creatures after all,” I tell her.

She nods, and slowly kneels by the tank. Then I notice she is breathing very hard while staring not at the urchin, but the water below it. She slowly lowers her hand, closing her eyes just before touching the water. As her hand settles in, she opens them again, and watches as she sets the urchin down. Then she just looks at her hand, as the water shapes and distorts its image.

A smile spreads over her face.

I hear the announcement of the aquarium closing come over the speakers. She looks up and around, as if trying to find the speakers it is coming out of. Then a look of sadness crosses her face as she stands back up and starts to put her gloves on.

“Hey, why the long face,” Suzu says as the pair of them walk up to us.

“I don’t want to go,” Rika says in a childlike manner.

Miki ponders a moment. “Ok, I know how to cheer you up, come on!”

--------

“What is it with women and shopping?” I ask.

The bags I am carrying makes me wonder if this whole idea was just so I could be used as a pack mule.

“Oh come now Hisao,” Miki says with a wink. “You get to see three beautiful ladies such as ourselves trying on outfits. What man wouldn’t enjoy that?” She is sorting through the clothes she is going to try on while sitting next to me, a task made more difficult by having only a single hand.

“That may be the case, but it looks like you two are the only ones actually trying anything on.” I look over at Rika, who is exploring a hat display.

“Not our fault if she’s more interested in head wear,” Suzu says from behind the changing partition. As she exits, she then asks, “How’s this?”

“Honestly, it looks like the last two,” I tell her.

Suzu turns to Miki, “Oh poo, what about you?”

Miki winks. “I just want to take it off you.”

“Impossible,” Suzu says before heading back behind the partition.

I lean over in Miki’s direction. “You sure you’re not actually a guy? I mean, you act more like one than I do sometimes.”

You know, stumps can still punch. Ow.

“Asshole,” she tells me as she stands up with the clothes she was waiting to try on and goes behind the partition herself.

“What did Hisao do now,” I hear Rika say behind me. I look back and smile. “Found anything?” I look down and see a small bag. “I guess you have.”
.
Rika comes around and sits down next to me. She now has a smile on her face, like she just discovered some terrible secret on her worst enemy.

“Um, what’s with the grin?” I ask her.

“Come here,” she tells me.

I slide over, and she wraps both arms around me. Then using one hand, she guides my head to rest on her shoulder. It takes a moment before I notice something different.

“Hey, where did you get this necklace? And, I smell… perfume?”

She lets go of my head and nods, looking all too pleased with herself. I notice her cheeks now have some kind of powder on them, adding a slight pink tint.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear any jewelry before, or use perfume,” I tell her.

She shakes her head. “I haven’t.”

I really am confused. “So, why now?”

“I… want to try out new things, Hisao.” Rika suddenly looks nervous. “Is that bad?”

“I guess not,” I finally say. “It’s just all of a sudden, that’s all.”

She rests her head on my shoulder. “We can talk about it later, ok? I just want to enjoy this right now.”

I close my eyes and enjoy the sensation.

“How about… no fair, nobody is looking!,” Miki’s voice interrupts us.

Rika and I both chuckle to each other.

“It looks fine, Miki,” I tell her.

“You haven’t looked!”

Rika and I both sigh, then look over.

Miki is standing there making a stupid face while Suzu is putting her arms out from under Miki’s armpits, giving her four arms like some Hindu goddess.

We all just burst out laughing.

--------

Suzu and Miki said they planned on going north to visit Miki’s father in the morning, so they were spending another hour in the city tonight. Rika and I walk to our dorms, and stop at the area between the boys and girls residence.

“Alright, we’d best get to our rooms,” I tell her.

Rika pouts at that. “Can you come to my room for a little bit?” She asks, looking up at me.

I check my watch.

“Only for a few minutes, ok? In another 15 minutes, it’ll be curfew, and then there would be hell to pay.”

She nods.

In her room, I sit down in the desk chair, but she does not sit on the bed as I’d expected. Instead, she picks up a small box from her desk before pacing back and forth. Then she takes out the notebook she was writing in earlier, and holds it to her chest, along with the box.

“Is something troubling you?” I ask.

“My father has told me since I was a child that the world was full of dangerous things, that it could kill me at any time,” Rika finally says, looking down into her little notebook. “You saw what happened at the pool today, or rather what didn’t happen?”

I nod. “I’ll admit, I don’t fully understand it.”

She pauses, like she’s searching for the right words to say. “I’ve had it hammered into my head that there was a list of things I could never do. I could never go to a beach, or a pool, drink anything with caffeine. I could never have a boyfriend. I could… I could...” She finally starts to tremble, tears clear in her eyes.

She breaths in. “Nothing he said would happen has. None of it. Not the coffee, not the pool, not salt water, not the necklace, not perfume, not even makeup.

“They were lies, weren’t they?” She rubs her throat, clearly having difficulty talking. “What else has he lied to me about? What?” Rika stops her pacing finally. “Why tell me these things?”

She closes her eyes. “Imagine being told your whole life that the world is deadly to you? That you cannot let yourself fall in love, or have a family of your own? What kind of life is that? But, you don’t know any different, so you smile, and all will be fine.

“But it’s not fine. Did you know that I have spent so much time in a hospital, I’m a year older than my classmates? Did I really have to go in at all? I keep questioning everything. Do I even need these?”

At this moment she does something I’ve never actually seen before. She reaches up, and puts a finger into her eye. She then puts what she removed into the box she took off her desk before repeating it with her other eye. She blinks, very hard. She looks back at me, and it seems that she is fighting to keep her eyes open.

I have never seen eyes so blue before. They tremble as she looks at me. “It hurts,” she whispers out as she closes her eyes. I look around, and turn off the main light to the room, leaving only the desk lamp on. She gradually opens her eyes more, and look around.

“Thank you,” she murmurs. Her eyes flit quickly from point to point, never stopping.

“You’ve never gone without them?” I ask.

She points to her window, where a heavy curtain covers it. “I was trained since a child to put them in and take them out only in darkness.”

“And now, how is it?”

“It’s… different without them. More vibrant, I guess. But that vibrancy, it hurts.” She breathes deeply, then looks in my direction. “It’s also hard to focus. You’re jumping all over the place.” I see her eyes twitching, far more severely than the slight movements I have seen before.

“So, he did not lie about everything,” I tell her.

“He told me I needed to wear these every day, otherwise I would be completely blind.” She shakes the container for her contact lenses and closes her eyes.

“Hisao, there’s one thing left on my list… what he told me I could never, ever do. But, for that I need your help,” she says, almost in a pleading tone.

“I need to prove to myself, if what he told me is true. Please, Hisao, I’m scared.” Rika’s voice is just above a whisper. “Can you… can you…” she pleads.

She looks down at her notebook, and crosses one more thing out before handing it to me. Inside, a simple list.

Pool
Makeup
Ocean
Contacts
Coffee
Jewelry
Perfume

Sex

My own heartbeat increases as I look over her list, and realize what she is asking for. “Rika, I...” I look up.

Her chest is heaving, her breath shallow and harsh, her face red and sweat is clearly visible on her scalp. I reach over and hold her trembling hand. “Are you sure?”

She nods, eyes still tightly shut, before hanging her head. Her shoulders give away how tense she is.

I ask her, “Are you pushing herself into something you may not be ready for?”

“I… I… I’m scared. I need to… to know.”

“Hey, there is no need to rush this, alright?” I gently squeeze her hand to try and reassure her. But she does not respond, her hand hanging there limply. I reach out, and squeeze her other hand, no response either. A terrible thought strikes me. I squeeze both hands hard. “Rika, can you feel this?”

“Feel what?” she says, her eyes still closed.

“Lie down, right now,” I tell her sternly, standing up, grabbing her arm and pulling her to the nearby bed.

“What?” Rika says as I push her onto the bed, eyes now open and attempting to focus on me, looking a bit annoyed. “That’s not romantic at all.”

I then run a finger up the bottom of her foot. “That? Do you feel that?”

She looks down, then realizes what I’m doing, her eyes going wide. “Oh, oh! Not now, not now.”

“Come on, focus on your breathing. Breathe with me. One… two… three… It’ll be ok. You are ok.” I say words to try and comfort her. “Hold on, I’m right here. Breathe, focus on your breathing. Calm. Calm. I’m here. Don’t be afraid, I’m right here.”

A minute passes before she starts to relax, her breathing settling down. On her face, tears flow openly. I just hold her hand, and smile at her.

Rika looks exhausted. Her voice has faded and her eyelids are drooping. “I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I’m so sorry.”

I kiss her forehead as I pull her covers over her. Already her face is returning to it’s normal pale coloration. I take a tissue from her desk and wipe the sweat off of her forehead, then dry her tears.

“Shh, hush. You’ve been pushing yourself today. Rest now,” I tell her before breaking into a smile. “We caught it before an attack happened. Next time, alright?”

She smiles weakly and nods. “Would you, really?”

“If it is with you, I think it will be alright.”

I rub her head, smiling all the while. Soon, she drifts off into that exhaustion I knew so well.

I sigh, then look at the clock. 10:04.

Shit.
Last edited by Downix on Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:16 pm

When I sat down to write this section, I did not expect it to go in the direction it did. My original thought was for a PG rated scene with flirtation, and instead I wound up writing an H scene. So, standard NSFW warning, and, um, be gentle? 8)

Shaking:

I wake up with the recognition that I’m not exactly in the same condition I fell asleep in. I recall falling asleep next to Rika’s bed, holding her hand. I awake finding myself in her bed, under the covers, with a sleeping Rika pressing her back up to me. Then I notice that her exposed shoulder no longer has the cover of the red dress she was wearing when I put her to bed last night. In fact, it lacks any cover at all.

I cautiously lift the covers and look, and immediately drop it, recognizing her state of undress. I check and find myself still in the clothing I remember from yesterday. The room is incredibly dark, just a trace of light around the heavy cloth covering her windows. I try to get up, and realize I can’t. My arm is currently being squeezed like a beloved teddy bear by Rika.

I crane my head to look at the clock, and realize that I am easily an hour past my run time with Emi. I look at my phone with my free hand. Yes, there is a message. “Where are you two? Do I have to kick both of your asses?”

I message back, “Rika had problems last night, I stayed up taking care of her. Will catch you later in the day. I know where to find you.”

I dimly start to process where Rika has positioned my arm, and that my hand was resting on the top end of her sternum. I start to run a finger along, when it comes against something different, but familiar. I realize at once, it’s scar tissue. My finger was on top of her scar. I trace it, following as far as my finger could go without moving my arm.

She stirs slightly, and her hands, still clinging to my arm, drag it a bit further down her body. I gasp as I realize my hand now was right between her breasts. I freeze, my mind racing in a dozen directions all at once.

“You know, you can touch them,” Rika says in what sounds very playful.

I look down at her. “How long have you been awake?”

“Long enough,” she says, just before she rolls her body slightly, putting my still trapped hand right on top of her breast. Her head turns to face me.

“Hisao?” she says softly. “I meant what I said last night.”

“Now would not be a good time, for either of us.” I say. “We both missed our evening medication, and I can’t take my morning pills while here, can I?”

Rika smiles. “I did remember to take my medication this morning,” she says.

“Oh really, when?”

“When I got up to undress,” she says slyly. “You know, that dress is a pain to sleep in.”

“Next time I’ll be sure you don’t sleep in it, er, I mean...”

Rika bursts out laughing at that. It is a beautiful sound. She then looks down. “Did you peek?”

“No!”

“Do you want to?” She looks back up at me.

“I would be lying if I said no.”

“I might let you,” she says in a playful tone.

“It’s nearly pitch black in here, you realize,” I tell her.

“Then what’s the harm?” She asks.

“The harm is that because I can’t see, I may feel instead, and that will lead to the place we shouldn’t go right now.”

She gasps slightly. It dawns on me that my hand has been playing with her this whole time, just gentle finger motions. With her grip on it, she controlled where those motions are on her body. As well, her back is pressed hard into my front, moving just slightly to make me very aware of her.

“And what if I like feeling?”

“How did you get me into the bed, anyways?” I ask her, trying to focus my mind elsewhere.

“I poked your shoulder and told you to go to bed,” she says in a matter of fact tone. “You listened very well.”

“Well, most men will obey a beautiful naked woman.”

I can just about see her eyes go wide at that. “I… you… uh… think… beautiful?”

“Certainly, isn’t it obvious?”

She bites her lip before allowing a small smile to spread across her face. She then presses herself against me even harder, her curves pressing in areas that demanded attention.

“I like it when you call me beautiful,” she says, her eyes closing. She leans in to whisper to my ear, “You are beautiful too, Hisao.” The trace of kisses down my neck send shivers along my spine. She lays back down on the bed, and using a leg, pulls the covers off of us with a few kicks, exposing herself fully to me in the dim light.

As my eyes wander down her form, I can feel my will eroding. Why was I resisting again?

I answer that question the only way I can, by meeting her mouth with mine. When we part, I find my lips wandering. A gentle kiss on her chin, neck, collarbone, sternum. I realize dimly that my hand is now free and slowly sliding down her side. Lips meet one breast, then the other. I am dimly aware that she has rolled over to allow me better access to her.

The cooing noises Rika is making only encourage me onwards. Her hands in my hair guide me further along her body. At this point, instinct is what is driving us, an instinctive drive so primitive it defies rational thought.

I vaguely remember that this was a bad idea, but I cannot remember why.

I am guided back to her lips once more. I have a vague feeling of buttons being undone, and my shirt being slid off my shoulders. My pants feel too restrictive for some reason. No, they’re not there, my hands moving on their own accord. It is not important.

She looks, nervous, but wanting. I can feel her hands tremble as she runs them up my chest. I take hold of them, and kiss the knuckles one by one before release. Her eyes close in enjoyment of the sensation.

I feel her legs around me, an awkward position while to the side of her. I shift over her to be more comfortable, returning my lips to hers. She shifts a bit more, and then something changes. We both freeze as we feel it happen. I find myself buried in warmth.

She starts to gasp, her eyes wide as I see her trying to make sense of what she was feeling. Her hands settle on my sides, just above my hips, and gently try and pull me closer to her. As I follow her guidance, I find the sensation increasing, setting us into a shared rhythm of motion.

All I know is need. I need her. I need all of her. Why was this a bad idea again?

An eternity of need, of hunger, and want, all fueling what is driving us both. I can feel it building, the pressure, the need, the heat. She cries out as something in her is driven over the edge. And then, the white noise of release.

Slowly, my awareness returns, my breathing deep and relaxed. Dimly, my reason starts to awaken again, and I close my eyes to focus on my heartbeat. It is high, but not dangerously so. Not even a twinge of pain. I breathe a bit easier.

I look to my partner, still below me, and gaze at her in the dim light. She seems to be doing the same as I was, her eyes closed in concentration. Seemingly pleased with her conclusion, she opens them and looks up at me.

“Good morning,” I tell her.

She laughs. “And a good morning to you too.”

“I guess your list is complete?” I ask her.

She shrugs a shoulder. “I guess so.”

“How do you feel?”

She wraps her arms around my shoulders. “Happy.”

At this point is when the thumping at the door wakes us out of our bliss.

“Rika, I heard some noises,” came Aoi’s voice on the other side of it. “Are you alright?”

Quickly I get off Rika and look around, not remembering where my clothes had vanished to. Rika seems to have thought of the same thing, but neither of us had managed to make much progress when the worst sound we could have imagined filled the room.

The door opening.

We freeze, and look at the door, terror clear on our faces.

Then, the simple white cane leads Aoi into the room. “Rika? Are you there?”

She coughs a bit. “Yes, I’m here. Fine, everything’s fine, so you don’t need to worry about it.”

I stay silent. Between the dim light and Aoi’s sight, maybe she won’t realize I’m there.

“Oh, then what did I hear?”

“Just, uh, stuff,” she replies.

I suppress a chuckle.

“Well, if you’re alright, I’ll get back to reading,” Aoi says as she turns to walk out.

At the door she calls back, “And when you and Hisao head out, don’t take the elevator. Too many eyes in the main room this morning.” She giggles as she closes the door.

We both lay there in shock a moment before we burst out laughing.

When we stop, she gives me a small peck before reaching over to her table, and the notebook sitting on it. With a bit of a flourish, she crosses off the last line of her list, then throws it back to the table.

“There, all done.”

“Did you really need to do all of them in 24 hours?” I ask her.

“I did not want to lose my courage.” She then sighed a bit. “And I wanted to know before I saw my father today.”

I nod.

She considers something a moment. Then she reaches over to her clutch, and pulls out her phone. She opens it, and dials a number.

“Hey, dad? About lunch today. Could I bring a friend with me?” She pauses to hear the response. “No, nobody you’ve met before. Only transferred in a bit over a month ago.” She pauses again. “Sounds good. I’ll see you then.”

“Did you just invite me to meet your father?” I ask.

“Is that ok?” She looks at me, a bit of apprehension on her face.

“I thought after last night you would be angry at him.”

She nods. “I am more confused than anything.” She sighs. “And I’m not ready to confront him about it yet. Not all of it anyways. Today, let’s try with one item, ok?”

“And which item would that be?”

She gives me a coy look. “Well, that depends on if you are joining us, doesn’t it?”

It takes me a few moments to realize what she’s saying. “Oh! You mean, having a boyfriend?”

She pushes at my shoulder playfully. “Well, naturally. And, I think you may be the easier one for him to handle.”

“Handle?”

“If he objects due to my condition, we have your own condition to defend with,” she says.

I ponder this a moment. “Makes sense. But, when will you ask about the rest of them?”

She nods. “I need to process everything still. If I try and confront him now, I could say something that would hurt him, and I never want to do that.”

I nod. “Anything I should know before meeting him?”

“My father,” she sighs before completing her thought, “is not in good health either.”

“Is that why your mother works so much while he has more free time?”

She nods. “His own disabilities limit what he can work. He still works, but it’s not to anywhere near what my mother does.”

“Should I ask what they are?”

She says, “He lost a leg in an industrial accident, and has some chemical burns remaining from it. You likely will not see them, but you may notice the slight limp from his prosthetic. It all happened before I was born, mind you.”

I nod. “Alright. I’ll avoid the topic.”

“So, you’ll come?” She asks.

“I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
Last edited by Downix on Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Zerebos » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:38 pm

I was actually in the middle of replying when I noticed you updated. The story so far is cute, but to me it feels like things are being rushed along especially with that most recent post. Perhaps that's intentional especially due to how your Rika is but the whole timeline feels very quick. Your SPaG errors have decreased in the last couple updates which is good. I'll reserve other comments for later updates.

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:21 pm

I agree, that last chapter was almost completely without tense problems - and other SpaG problems as well. Did you take time to go over it before posting? If so you should keep the habit.

Remember when I told you the thing about Rika almost passing out on her way down into town was over the top? Now it's coming back to bite you, because she didn't show any problems at all on her whole-day-shopping-aquarium trip...

The H-scene was actually quite good. Most of the time it's better not to go into too much detail, because it will certainly end up cheesy.
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.

Downix
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:28 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:21 pm
I agree, that last chapter was almost completely without tense problems - and other SpaG problems as well. Did you take time to go over it before posting? If so you should keep the habit.
Took an extra step in my editing process, yes.
Remember when I told you the thing about Rika almost passing out on her way down into town was over the top? Now it's coming back to bite you, because she didn't show any problems at all on her whole-day-shopping-aquarium trip...
I think I need to revise that part now, you are right.

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:06 am

Alright, spent today working on cleaning things up. Moved a few scenes about, including some I'd written for later sections, realizing that they would work better elsewhere, and generally working to tighten up the story.

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:36 pm

Red King:

Why did I agree to meet the parent so quickly?

A trip back to my room to change my clothes and take my pills, and this time I remember to bring my emergency batch with me. My doctor back at the hospital emphasized that I should always have a pouch with one day’s medicine supply with me at all times in case of emergency. The events of the past 12 hours reminded me as to why.

By comparison, Rika was always prepared. She kept her emergency pills in her case, so whenever she was traveling any distance she didn’t need to even think about it beforehand. I suppose having to deal with this for years will instill that kind of diligence.

It seems a cold front came through last night, so I put on one of my sweater vests before we head out. It feels strange getting dressed with someone watching, but I think it is a sensation I could get used to.

Rika is wearing a different, more plain dress than the one from the night before, with tights and long gloves covering her skin. With her contacts back in, her eyes are back to their normal slight flutter. I do miss the bright blue of her naked eyes, but the red is still highly interesting. She has with her the rolling bag I’d seen her with before.

“You know, your case there looks pretty full.” I tell her as I finish getting ready.

She smiles a bit, still looking down. “I brought a change of clothes with me.”

“Oh? Preparing if things go badly?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “Not exactly.” A small smile crosses her face.

As we exit my room, I suddenly hear the distinctive sound of Kenji’s door unlocking. He swings it open, and with an aplomb, walks into the hallway. “Hey buddy, I…” He catches sight of Rika and immediately dives back into his room. “She’s after my blood now! AAGHHHH!”

The door slams and all of the locks flip in order, followed by the distinctive sound of Kenji’s Banjo CD playing at full volume.

Rika looks at me with a surprised look on her face. I shrug. “It’s Kenji,” is the only explanation I can give.

When we reach the bus stop, she stops, and puts her rolling bag before me.

“Once a month, I bring my father… a kind of progress report.”

I consider this a moment. “That’s a bit odd.”

She shrugs. “It’s just how he is. I don’t mind, plus I get to have lunch with him regularly. He only does it because he cares.”

“And what is in these progress reports?” I ask.

“Updates on schoolwork, health information, my diet, that kind of thing. My dad is a bit of a number cruncher, so he loves details.”

I ponder this a moment. “So, how many details about this morning do you have in there?”

Her cheeks turn pink. “There are some details a girl cannot share with her father.”

I smile at that. “It must be nice to have a parent who takes such interest in you. Mine have always been rather absent. So long as I had decent grades, they left me alone.”

She ponders this a bit. “I don’t think I’d know what to do if that were the case.”

I laugh. “I didn’t either. I just wound up wasting time a lot with little to show for it.”

“Our parents are very different it seems,” Rika says.

“That they are,” I respond.


The bus ride into the city was uneventful. As we get off, she points to a cafe across the street.

“Did you pick this due to how close to the bus it was?” I ask her.

Rika nods. “It was father’s idea. It’s not only close to the street, but it’s interior is very shaded.”

She is holding her parasol today, but is holding my arm. She is clearly trying to give an impression for her father. I am handling her rolling case.

I hold open the door for her, and follow her then to a table in the furthest end, where a short, bald man a bit older than my father can be found. He stands up as we approach, pushing his glasses, sporting very thick lenses, up onto his face, and gives Rika a hug. “Hello my dear.” He looks over at me, and quite noticeably sizes me up. “And who is this young man?”

“Dad, allow me to introduce Hisao Nakai, my… a friend. Hisao, this is Takeshi Katayama, my father.”

“It is an honor to meet you sir,” I tell him as I bow respectfully.

He returns the bow. “I will admit, when I heard I would have a new friend to meet, I was not expecting a boy.”

I tilt my head, curious as to why. “Is this a bad thing?”

“I mean, there are far more girls at Yamaku than boys, it was statistically more likely than not to be a girl, that’s all. Come, sit.”

Out of habit, I pull out Rika’s chair for her, hook her parasol over the back of it, and push it back in before taking my own seat.

If he thinks anything, Takeshi is not saying so. He simply waves to the waiter, before folding his hands on the table. “I ordered your usual Rika. I could not know what Hisao would want, so I left that open.”

“Coffee, please,” I tell the waiter.

Takeshi seems to consider that, before nodding to himself. “So, Hisao, Rika mentioned that you are a recent transfer.”

I nod. “Yes sir. I transferred to Yamaku the first week of June.”

Takeshi’s gaze seems very penetrating, like he was searching for something. “Highly unusual for any student transfers at that time of year. Did you find it difficult to catch up to your classmates?”

I shake my head. “No, I had kept up my studies before the transfer, so it was not difficult for me.”

He nods as his eyebrows rise slightly. “Ah, I see. And how did you meet my Rika?”

Rika gives him an irritated look. “Dad, stop interrogating him.”

“What, it’s a fair question!” He holds his hands apart in a gesture of pacification.

“It is a fair question,” I agree. “A member of the track team ran into me in the middle of the hallway between classes. When I went to the nurse to make sure I was not badly injured, Rika was there.”

She smiles. “He did not even realize I was there at first. It was funny to see his reaction when he saw me.”

“Yeah, well,” I rub the back of my head nervously. “She invited me to a weekly game of Kakeya Toranpu, to be her partner.”

He nods. “Well, good. She used to enjoy that with my father before he passed away. I am glad she has found a new partner.”

He studies me a bit more. “I am going to guess you do more than just play cards together.”

I nod. “We have come into the habit of enjoying dinner most evenings. She is a very good person to discuss the days events with. She also comes to observe my physical therapy sessions. On occasion I help tutor her in science as well.”

He considers this a moment, then nods. “I do remember how troublesome physical therapy is.” He taps his leg, likely without realizing it. “And I remember how comforting it is to have someone else there to act as a cheering squad as well.”

Takeshi looks back to me. “And your family?”

I say, “My parents are both office workers. My home is in the south, and I do not see them often.”

“No brothers or sisters?”

I shake my head.

He muses a moment. “Rika is my youngest child. Her older brother died before she was born.”

I bow my head slightly. “I am sorry for your loss.”

“The pain from the loss of a child is one which can never diminish. I am fortunate that I was given a second chance with Rika, and will do everything in my power to ensure her safety.”

I cannot help but notice the knife hidden within his words.

“Are you aware that you are the first friend of hers from school that she has invited to meet with me?” He asks pointedly.

I shake my head.

“You should be grateful to have such a rare honor.”

“I certainly am grateful for many things from Rika,” I tell him.

“I see.” His curiosity satisfied it seems, he turns back to Rika. “So, do you have this month?”

She nods, and without hesitation opens up her case and pulls out a thick folder, passing it over to him.

He lowers his glasses to look through the folder. I feel Rika’s hand grab mine under the table as he reviews.

I don’t think I have seen Rika this nervous before.

“Well, your marks in science class have shown improvement since past month. Your health metrics seem in order. But, why this?” Takeshi takes one page and sets it on the table before her. “You did not write down your third meal yesterday. You know skipping meals is incredibly dangerous for you.”

Her eyes went wide.

With everything else that happened last night, she must have forgotten.

She stammers out, “I… I…”

I cough. “That would be my fault, sir.”

Rika squeezes my hand tightly.

He sits back and looks at me through his glasses. “Oh?”

I ponder my words a moment. It does seem that Rika does not want him to know what happened.

“I was helping her study for the science exam next week.”

Rika loosens her grip on my hand before nodding. “We lost track of time, and when we’d realized what had happened, the cafeteria was closed.”

He seems satisfied with this answer, withdrawing the paper. He gestures to her with the folder. “You need to be more careful.” Then he turns his attention to me. “If you are to be tutoring her, set an alarm to make sure she eats her meal plans as given. That said,” he pauses to clear his throat, and returns his gaze upon Rika. “Isn’t there something else you need to be telling me?”

Rika bows her head slightly. “I do not know what you mean.”

“Do I look a fool? The first friend you bring with you, and it is a boy with whom you share a meal daily? And do not think I miss that I cannot see either of your hands right now. What is your goal with this, child?”

She steels herself. “Papa, Hisao is more than just a friend. Last Sunday I… we… started…”

“Stop right there,” he interjected. “Rika, you know my feelings on this matter. It is dangerous it is for you to get excited, or to push yourself physically in any way, and dating will inevitably involve both. This boy, he cannot grasp your situation, what you have been through.”

“But dad,” Rika cries.

“No interruptions. You are a weak child.” he looks sternly at her, before snapping his attention to me. “And what do you think you are doing? Are you aware of her condition?”

I nod. “Yes, we have discussed her heart surgeries at length and she has familiarized me with her albinism.”

He looks sternly at me. “Then you know the danger she is in. To date, to be intimate with a boy, any boy, it would be an incredible risk for her. No, this I simply cannot allow.”

Rika responds. “I only have another year of high school, and then I will be at university. After that, I will be on my own. I need to make decisions on my own, and, this is one I want to make.”

“Nonsense. I will always be there for you,” Takeshi says. “You are not experienced enough for the world. I am the only one who can take care of you.”

I blurt out, “I can take care of her.”

His eyes flash angry at me. “You cannot possibly know how to take care of her!”

I set my face before answering. “Yes, I do.”

“Don’t talk back to me boy. I am her father. She has been through numerous surgeries, and is incredibly fragile. What do you know about the life for someone in her condition?”

I consider how to respond to him, when an idea strikes me. I reach into my sweater pocket, and take out my emergency pills pouch. I then throw it into the middle of the table.

“What’s this?” Takeshi asks, eyeing the pouch on the table. He picks it up slowly, and turns it over to look at the contents. Studying his face, it strikes me that not only has he shaved his head, but even his eyebrows are gone.

“That is what I take, every day. 17 pills daily, many of them the same medicine that Rika takes, as you can see.”

He looks back at me, a momentary look of confused on his face before he hides it.

“In February, I suffered a heart attack, caused by heart arrhythmia. When I say I do know how to care for her, I speak from first hand experience. I know what life is like for someone in her condition, that is because I am in her condition.” I try and maintain an even tone of voice.

Takeshi sets my pouch down, and slides it back in my direction. He says nothing however, his face set in a stone mask. Then it relaxes slightly, and he sips at his drink.

Rika is the next to talk. “Hisao was being polite when discussing last night, because he did not want to reveal what I might find embarrassing without permission. The reason we missed dinner was because in the middle of study, he noticed the early symptoms of an attack. I was too focused on my work at the time. Because he noticed them early on, I was able to prevent an attack, papa. Please, I know you worry, and I know you only want what is best for me. Hisao, he may be the only boy who can be this for me.”

As she spoke, I could see Takeshi’s resolve softening. Whatever else, he clearly does care for his daughter.

Rika is holding my hand openly now. She still seems nervous, but with the first hurdle passed. Before too long she is leaning on my shoulder.

Her father looks a bit amused at this. “You say he is your boyfriend, but instead he seems to be your pillow,” he jokes with her.

“I don’t mind,” I tell her.

“You are something different, boy. Tell me, is my Rika your first girlfriend?”

I shake my head. “I had a girl confessed to me once before. That confession is what led to my heart attack,” I tell him.

His eyes do go wide this time. “I… see.” He then mumbles to himself. “Perhaps…”

Takeshi’s eyes soften, then he nods. “Perhaps you are right. You are growing up after all. This may be an opportunity, yes.”

His gaze turns to me. “If you mean to date my daughter, I will need you to be as diligent as Rika. So, bring me a write up of your care, along with any dietary and therapy plans you have.”

Rika says “I can help him prepare that for you papa.”

Her use of the more affectionate name for a father does not escape my notice. She is really pushing things with him it seems.

He now eyes the cup of coffee before me. “Isn’t coffee bad for your condition?”

I think fast. “The Caffeine helps to relax the vessels around the heart. So long as I do not drink much, it helps prevent a serious flutter from happening.” (Author’s note: Go Go Gadget Bullshit)

He considers this a moment, talking to himself. “And as your condition is inherent, while Rika’s is due to heart reconstruction, yes, does not apply to her, yes.” He seems to conclude something. “Rika, be sure to share your treatment plan with Hisao as well. If you two are to be partners, then that means being brutally frank with each other.”

He ponders a moment more. “And as you enjoy dinner together already, it simplifies dietary management.” He certainly talks to himself a lot, a bit disconcerting considering I am the subject.

“What is the nature of the physical therapy you mentioned earlier?” He asks.

“Daily runs, overseen by one of our chief nurse’s aides,” I answer.

“That seems like it would stress the heart,” he considers.

“Because my issue is due to a heartbeat irregularity, maintaining a low-impact cardiovascular program is one of the better treatments for prevention.” I vaguely recall the doctor at the hospital using those words. They sound impressive, but damned if I know what they all mean. “That is why I am closely monitored as well, to prevent me from putting too much stress on my heart.”

“Again, the structural difference between an inherent defect, and one caused by surgery,” he mutters to himself. He nods to himself, apparently pleased by the result of his train of thought.

“Perhaps, you are more fortunate than you imagine, Hisao. Rika, this desire for a relationship with Hisao might work after all. Your conditions are similar in many ways, but different in one critical one, which is where you both must be patient,” Takeshi says. “I will need to see your information in two weeks Hisao, that way I can formulate a plan for our next update, Rika.”

He then sits back and pulls out papers himself. “Now, the school nurse called and pointed out that some of your medical records had not transferred properly. I have retrieved the missing data for him, here.” He hands them over to Rika. “Be sure to drop them off with him.”

The folder is thick, very thick.

“I will father,” Rika said, using very formal language. He has hit her nervous spot. But if he realizes this, he does not give it away.

The rest of lunch goes very smoothly. Takeshi is as quiet once the information is shared as Rika herself is. I would even say that he generally ignores her beyond when he himself initiates the conversation.


It is not until we reach school again that Rika finally relaxes.

“You really wanted his approval, didn’t you?” I ask her as we settle down in my room.

She nods. “Is that strange?”

“Well, I suppose not. You were not kidding that he demands information. I don’t think I’ve ever had someone ask for what I ate daily.” I shrug. “Do you really write all of that down for him?”

She nods. “That’s why I carry a notebook with me everywhere.”

“Makes sense. Doesn’t it feel a bit intrusive however?”

She looks at me with a puzzled look on her face. “What do you mean?”

I consider my words a moment. “Well, like your life is under a microscope.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Ok then, let me ask you this, have you ever had any privacy?” I ask. “Things you kept to yourself?”

She considers this a moment. “I guess, not really. Why?”

“That’s not… normal I guess,” I say, then realize the words I used. “Then again, do any of us count as normal to begin with?”

“What is normal,” Rika says, “but a generally agreed to sentiment? In some cultures, it is normal to kill people like me in order to use their bones as medicine. I don’t think I would like normal there.”

I close my eyes to consider that a moment. “I guess you’re right.” I look at her.

“Normal is what you make it, I figure,” she says. “To me, it is normal to track my diet and report that to my father. I had to do that daily in middle school, before he would even let me consider living in a dorm for high school. Then my first year here, I had to report weekly. This year, monthly. He wants to make sure I am able to live on my own.”

“Then, why the allergy claims?” I ask.

She looks down. “I don’t know, but it has to be because he’s trying to protect me.” She pauses before saying “I’d like to take my contacts out.”

Without another word, I turn off the main light to my room and close the curtain. It’s not as thick as hers, so some light comes in, but it still is significantly less.

With the same motions she repeats the ritual from last night. This time, when she opens her eyes afterwards, she closes them quickly. “Still too bright.” Blind, she fumbles for her case, and pulls out the sunglasses she had before, placing them on her face. “There, better.”

As she looks around, I glance at her open case, and note the thick folder her father had handed over. “Are you going to read it?” I ask.

Rika looks at me, then at the folder. “I want to, but not right now. I’m… scared to know.”

I nod.

“When I do, I’d like you there.”

I nod. “Deal.” A few moments later I look at my watch and say “Now, as it’s just about dinnertime, but you’re not going to be able to head out to the cafeteria without your contacts, your cunning plan to convince me to order delivery Chinese has worked.”

Rika looks at me with a puzzled expression on her face, which quickly melts into a smile. “And if it was not a cunning plan?”

“Then I guess you don’t want Chinese,” I tell her.

“Oh, clearly was a plan, you figured it all out,” she says in a highly sarcastic tone.

We both laugh at this.
Last edited by Downix on Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:01 am

Okay... I wonder how he managed to fake medical records. That's probably a crime in Japan as well, and It's very likely nurse will notice - especially after the conversation from the last day...
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Downix
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:40 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:01 am
Okay... I wonder how he managed to fake medical records. That's probably a crime in Japan as well, and It's very likely nurse will notice - especially after the conversation from the last day...
I actually covered a medical records forging ring out of Kyoto several years ago. That is what gave me the idea to use that angle.

Fun fact, Japan was one of the last industrialized nation to permit electronic records. It only was widely permitted starting in 1999, with only limited, specific records allowed beforehand. By 2007, less than 60% of the medical facilities in the nation even could access the electronic medical database. Add to it the high percentage of folk medical practitioners, medical documentation forgery has been a serious issue for Japan for decades, and has been widely considered to be behind the death or hospitalization of tens if not hundreds of thousands of people.

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