Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

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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 11:34 pm

Jub-Jub Bird

THUNK THUNK THUNK

I groggily am aware of the rapping at my door. As I move to stand up, I find myself pinned down underneath something. It takes me a moment to process that fact, and to look down at Rika’s sleeping form laying over mine.

Wait, if she’s in here, then who is knocking at my door this early?

“Hisao, you awake? You didn’t show up, again!” Emi’s high pitched tones carry through the door.

I look at the clock, and groan. I forgot to reset it after yesterday.

“Yeah, coming,” I yell back.

This seems to be sufficient to rouse Rika enough to roll off of me. Laying there on her back makes for a very interesting image. Thoughts cross my mind, and I get the idea to lay back down with her. Wait, I have to do something.

I crack open my door and peer out. There stands Emi in her running suit looking a little irritated. “What gives? Both you and Rika vanish two mornings in a row!”

I hold up a hand to pacify her ire. “My apologies. It will not happen again.”

Emi still looks a bit irate with me. “You know Hisao, I have got a mind to...”

And that is when the worst timing in the world strikes.

“Hisao, come back to bed,” Rika mumbles in a half asleep voice.

Emi and my eyes both go wide.

“Oh… sorry… I’ll… bebacklater.” Emi charges off down the hallway.

I wander back, and sit at my desk. Without conscious thought I begin to take my medication. One, two, three, it is robotic, automatic. A fixed routine, muscle memory so ingrained I don’t even think about it.

As I finish, I feel something poking my back.

Looking back, Rika is laying there, poking me with a toe. Her eyes are squinting slightly in the light, but the smile on her face is very playful.

“Was that Emi?” she asks.

“Yeah, we missed this morning’s run it seems,” I tell her. “I think we got enough exercise yesterday however. Here.”

I reach into her case, and hand her morning pill pouch over to her, before handing her the still half full cup of water I was using. I watch her do the same routine which I’d just finished and smile.

She finishes, then looks down. “You answered the door, like that?”

I look down, and realize that if I’d opened the door a bit more, it could have really been embarrassing.

“Well, we have two days to ourselves. Any ideas?” I ask her.

“First, message Emi to apologize, I’ll handle it.” Rika says, taking her phone out of her case sitting next to the bed.

I nod, then pick up my own phone off the desk, and see that I have two messages. “Seems Emi was insistent, have a few messages…” my voice trails off as I check my phone. “Well, one from her. The other one is from my mother, asking me to call tonight.”

I put my phone away.

Rika says, “Well, Emi invited the two of us for a picnic with her and Ren today. I told her we would love to join them.”

“Seems our plans for today are all set.” I say.

Rika lays down on her back, her hands over her head. “It does indeed.” The playful mood on her face slips away, and she looks more melancholy than before.

“Is something the matter?” I ask.

Rika closes her eyes and lays her head down on my pillow. “Hisao, I’ve got something on my mind from yesterday.”

I sit down on the bed and run my hand over her cheek. “What is it?”

“Father mentioned my brother. Truth is, I know little about him beyond what you heard yesterday. He was still young when he died. I don’t even know how he died. I have visited his gravesite several times to tend it, but he has always been nothing more than a name on a piece of stone to me.”

“I don’t have any siblings, never have, so I can imagine that the idea of a sibling you can never know might be a bit strange to deal with,” I tell her.

“But, it’s always been like this. So it’s not strange, just normal for me. He serves as a reminder of how brief my own life is. The doctors only expected me to live more than a few months you know.” She rubs over her own scar. “But, I survived all of the surgeries. My father kept me safe from harm. And now, I have you.” The smile on her face was so bright I could not help but return it.

“So, where is your brothers grave?” I ask her.

“In town, I could take you if you’d like,” Rika says.

“Not much of date material, but sure. When?” I ask.

Rika considers. “Not this weekend. Maybe in a few weeks?”

I nod. “Sounds good.”

Rika sighs. “In the meantime,” she reaches out, and holds my hand, “we need to get ready. Want to help me get dressed?”

It takes us far longer than normal to get dressed this morning.


It takes a few false starts before we finally are dressed and out of my room.

I notice as we exit that Kenji’s door now has several sets of prayer beads now attached to it. I just roll my eyes. “Come on,” I tell Rika.

Rika is sporting a green puffy dress similar to her outfit the other night. This time, she is wearing the necklace she picked up that night as well.

“You look very assured of yourself,” I tell her.

She smiles. “I’ve won, why shouldn’t I be?”

“Oh? Won what?” I ask her.

She leans her head on my arm as she speaks. “I won you.” She then looks a bit more somber. “I really was afraid my father would deny it.”

“And what if he did?”

She looks away. “I’m glad we did not have to find out.” Looking back at me, she smiles again. “Best not to dwell on might have been, and instead on the situation we have.”

I ponder that a moment. “You may be right.”

Those words seem a bit deeper than they should have been, and I find myself lost in thought for a bit. For her part, Rika seems content to walk alongside me.

Isn’t that what drove away my friends from before the accident? Not that I was injured, but that I could not move past my heart attack? I was not a friend back then. But, could I be a friend now?

And next to me, my mirror image, as broken as I am, but more whole than I ever was. I cast my mind back to the hospital, and the bitter child laying there. All I did was dwell on what might have been, on what could no longer be.

Would she have liked me then?

No, and nobody should have liked me then. That was a hollow person, me physically but empty inside. Lost in what could have been, I failed to appreciate what I had before me. My friends who visited not out of some sense of duty, but because they missed me. They stopped not because they did not want to, but because I’d driven them away with my despair.

I have a lot of bridges I need to repair. Even if they are damaged beyond all home, they deserve me to at least try.

“Rika, do you still have the letter Iwanako sent me?”

She nods. “You said you were not yet ready to write her back, so I kept it safe for when you were.”

I smile. “I think I am ready.”

She freezes for a moment. “What… will you say?”

“Tell her who I’ve become, who I know, and who I’ve fallen in love with.” I give her a kiss. “But before then, I think I have a few phone calls to make.”

“Oh,” Rika says. “Do you need to be alone?”

I shake my head. “Quite the opposite. I need you right here.” I look into her eyes. “I always need you right here.” I pull out my phone, and dial a number I hadn’t in half a year. It rings for a few times before it is picked up. “Hey Takumi, got a minute?”


Three friends, three phone calls, and while bridges were not fixed, the groundwork is there.

All the while, Rika stood with me, quietly supporting my actions.

As I finish my third call, she nods. “So, your friends visited you in the hospital? I never had anyone visit me in the hospital but father.”

I quirk an eyebrow at that. “Not even your mother?”

She shook her head. “Father says she can not handle hospitals.”

I nod. “I can understand that I guess.”

Rika pauses a moment. “Hisao, would you visit me in the hospital?”

I smile. “They’d have to force me to leave, and then I’d sneak back in.”

As we approach the track, I recognize the distinctive footsteps coming up behind us. “Emi, you failed your ninja training.”

“Pirate! The arch enemy of the Ninja!”

I chuckle. “Where did that come from anyways?”

“What? The Pirate vs Ninja thing?” She considers it a moment before she shrugs. “No clue! You ready?”

My goodness she can change topics faster than she can run.

Rika and I both nod.

I notice Rin is standing next to a picnic basket, likely Emi was carrying it before she tried to sneak up on us. She looks at me, then kicks it slightly. “You should carry it.”

I shrug, and pick it up with my free hand. So now I have Rika on one arm, which is holding her parasol, and a picnic basket on the other. I now am fully expecting someone to throw something at me to juggle at this point… like chainsaws.

The image makes me chuckle, bringing a puzzled look from Rika. “I was just amusing myself with the idea of juggling your parasol and the picnic basket, and how silly it would appear,” I tell her.

She eyes me. “Let’s not do that.”

After several minutes following Emi, Rika asks, “Where exactly are we going, anyways?”

Emi freezes in place. “You know, I had not really thought of it.”

“But you are the one leading,” I point out to her.

Rin keeps walking, saying “I know someplace.”

I shrug. “Lead the way,” I tell her.

“I am,” Rin responds.

I don’t think I’ve ever explored the woods behind Yamaku before. Tall trees, with some paths between them it seems. Rin seems to be filled with a determination to reach wherever she was planning on going.

When it became clear that the forest was thick enough, Rika puts away her sunglasses, and starts to look in every direction at once, as if trying to absorb all she could see.

Rin stops, and sits down back to a tree. I look around and realize it is a small clearing in the woods. Emi smiles at this. “Ooo, good spot Rin. How did you know of this place?”

Rin shrugs.

I wonder if Rin had no idea where she was going and just was wandering around aimlessly till she forgot what she was doing.

Emi as ever dominates the conversation as we eat. Rin for her part eats peacefully, watching a pair of butterflies overhead while returning banter with Emi. Watching them, it is evident that Emi and Rin are equal partners. It stands in stark contrast to other pairings I’ve seen on campus, with Shizune effectively using Misha as a telephone, and Hanako relying on Lilly as a security blanket. I guess that is why I do enjoy hanging out with them every so often.

And then there is this beautiful woman I am seated next to. Neither of us talk particularly much, but it feels like we say a lot. As if sharing my thoughts, Rika leans in and rests her head on my shoulder.

Emi brings us both back into the world with a sharp, “So, you two are being safe, right?”

“About?” I ask her.

Emi gives us both a stern look. “Sex, you idiots!”

I note in the back of my brain that Rika’s face can go from pale to pink in less than a second. Then again, my own face feels about the same.

I sift through my memories, and I can see Rika’s brain performing the same tasks. Both of our eyes go wide at the same time. Clearly I was not the only one with a complete lack of foresight.

Emi then puts on her scolding face. “Hisao, Rika, shame on you!” Then it blends back into her usual grin. “Well, you need to fix that from now on. No surprises from you two!”

“Do you live vicariously through our lives or something?” I ask her.

Emi sticks her tongue out at us. “I have to do something to keep entertained until I find a boyfriend, don’t I?”

Rin pipes up in her monotone, “Me too.”

We all look at Rin at once.

“So, any prospects?” Rika asks them.

Emi pouts. “No, only fresh blood all year, and you snatched him up!”

“Hey now, I’m not a piece of meat!” I object.

“Hush,” Rika says, resting a hand on my arm. “And it is unfair for you to have considered him that way, Emi.”

Emi pauses, then looks a bit sheepish. “Well, and he is cute.”

My face returns to it’s blushed tones from earlier.

Rika says with a hint of amusement in her voice, “Yes, and he’s all mine.” She uses a hand to point my head in her direction. I notice she has a very impish look on her face before she kisses me.

It takes a few minutes to realize that the clearing has become quiet.

Rika and I finally part our kiss, and in a practiced motion both turn to face Emi and Rin. But instead of the pair, we notice that they both have vanished, with the picnic basket. I look around, and notice their forms in the distance, heading back to Yamaku.

“I guess that’s lunch,” I tell Rika.

She giggles a bit. “I’d asked Emi to leave us alone for a few minutes after we’d eaten, and that was the signal we’d agreed to.”

“Oh? So, you two did code like a pair of secret agents, huh?” The smile on my face felt a mile wide.

Rika smiles and bats my arm with her hand. Then she sobers up a bit, saying “I have been giving it some thought, and I want to talk about it with you, because I’ll need your help.”

“Alright,” I tell her, curious what she means.

She hesitates a moment, as if trying to seek the right words. “I am a bit jealous of what you and Emi have.”

“What do you mean, what we have?” I ask, very confused.

“You, work on making yourself healthier, stronger, while I, don’t. I can’t run, we both know that. So, I was wondering, maybe, since I don’t break out, about… swimming.” She seems to be working through her sentences as if a practiced speech.

“That sounds fine, but what did you need my help for?”

“Father has never bought me a swimsuit, so, um...” she stammers out, clearly embarrassed.

I ponder a moment. “I’m not the best guy to ask, but I may know who is. Come with me,” I tell her.

In about a half an hour, we stand before the performing arts center once more. “In here,” I tell her.

“But why?” she asks, quite confused.

“Trust me,” I tell her.

Inside, I hear the tones of someone practicing in the main room once more. This time, I wander in, with Rika close behind me, and sit down. On stage, the same two performers we had seen before, with a teacher giving instruction.

“We’ll talk to her after this. Let’s watch for now,” I tell her.

The two musicians seem to be practicing a piece I am unfamiliar with, and trying their best to get it just right. But, it seems we were fortuitous and the end of their session was only 10 minutes after we arrived.

As they pack up, I stand, helping Rika up, and walk up to the stage area. The girl who has returned Rika’s science book took a moment to realize we were there, and turned to us. “Oh, hello, what brings you here? Is it raining again?”

I shake my head. “No, nothing like that. You use the pool regularly, don’t you?”

She puts on a look of surprise. “Well, yes, why do you ask?”

“Rika has mentioned wanting to use the pool, but does not own a swimsuit. Where would one buy a swimsuit around here?” I ask.

The girl ponders this a moment. Then turns to the other girl on stage with her. “Chisato, do you mind if someone else joins us tomorrow?”

The girl, Chisato I assume, looks from around the piano and says “No problems here, why?”

The girl with the cane nods. “Good. Ok, Rika it was? Join us at the bus stop at 8am tomorrow. We were going to the city tomorrow anyways, so you’re in luck.” Then she looks at me. “You joining us as well?”

I shrug. “I didn’t have any plans, so sure.

She smiles at that. “Sounds good.”

Chisato calls out from behind the piano, “Who is joining us again Saki?”

“Rika and…” the girl, Saki, turns to me. “You know, I don’t know your name.”

“Hisao Nakai,” I introduce myself. “And this is Rika Katayama.”

“Saki Enomoto, and my partner is Chisato Souma.” She bows, which I and Rika both return.

Rika then pipes up. “Then I suppose we will be seeing you both bright and early tomorrow. Have a good afternoon.”

The formality is not lost on me. As soon as we reach the center’s lobby, she leans in and tells me “If you wanted another date, you just had to ask.”

I smile at her. “I just remembered that she uses the pool regularly, so if anyone were to know where to buy a swimsuit, she would.”

Rika looks a bit playful. “And will you help me pick it out?”

I smile. “It would be my pleasure, Miss Katayama.”

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:47 am

“I think we got enough exercise yesterday however.”
If they continue doing stuff there should be a few precautions to be taken. I'm surprised nurse didn't mentioned any of that...
I do hope you don't intend to throw a pregnancy into the story for added drama...
Edit: Already taken care of it seems... :-)
Join us at the bus stop at 8am tomorrow.
What, no school the next 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: 149
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:39 pm

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

Post by Downix » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:25 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:47 am
“I think we got enough exercise yesterday however.”
If they continue doing stuff there should be a few precautions to be taken. I'm surprised nurse didn't mentioned any of that...
I do hope you don't intend to throw a pregnancy into the story for added drama...
Edit: Already taken care of it seems... :-)
not doing the pregnancy scare (which would be out of scope for KS anyways) but good way to highlight their inexperience and that they rushed into things quickly.
Join us at the bus stop at 8am tomorrow.
What, no school the next day?
3 day weekend.

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

Post by Downix » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:50 pm

Waking:

Habits form over time. The nature of them is that habits fall out of conscious thought and occur without us really thinking about it. For example, that I hold Rika’s parasol for her, in order to maximize coverage, is a habit. That I position my body while riding on the bus between her and any errant sun beams, that too is a habit. And to those who do see our behavior, we must appear very, very odd.

So, I was not surprised that Chisato and Saki both were catching glimpses of Rika and myself as we shifted and moved in our seats to help keep her from unwanted exposure to sunshine. I’ll admit, the movements themselves must look quite funny from the outside. However, their curiosity eventually overcame any resistance about halfway to the city.

“Why are you two doing that?” Chisato asks from the row behind us.

I look back? “Doing what?”

“Shifting in your seats as the bus turns.”

I look down, and realize I am currently sitting sideways, with my shoulder blocking the errant sunbeam from hitting Rika.

Rika smiles and says, “Sunlight hurts me. That is why this,” she holds up her hand sporting long gloves, “and this,” she taps her parasol, folded and resting in her lap. “Hisao is only doing his best to help.” She pats my knee while smiling.

“Oh,” Chisato says. “Are you going to be alright being out today?”

Rika nods. “So long as I have decent shade and frequent stops, I should be fine. If not, I have Hisao to help remind me to take it easy.”

“You do the same for me, so don’t make it sound like it’s only me looking out,” I tell her.

“Oh, get a room you two,” Saki says, the smile on her face betraying her words.

“But, yes, it is basic safety. That he is adorable doing it does not hurt,” Rika says.

She is being very forward today it seems. It feels good from her.

“So, what made you decide on taking up swimming?” Saki asks.

Rika pauses, as if picking her words carefully. “I’ve been afraid to for a long time. I think… it’s time to stop being afraid.”

The pair of them both nod, seemingly satisfied. “Next stop,” Saki informs us.

As we pile out, I notice that the store that the pair make a beeline to is rather higher end than any I’d normally enter, but not as high end as several other stores I see in the area. Thank goodness for small favors.

Wait a second, I’m not buying anything, am I? Instinctively, I presumed I would be buying Rika’s suimsuit, not even giving it a second thought. I calm down, and focus. She is her own person, so has her own means. Need to trust in that.

I look over at her, a slight presence on my arm as I hold the parasol up for her. She glides forward with me to the store, not even trying to catch up to the two girls in a rush.

Once inside, we see the two of them standing there, looking a bit unimpressed at us. “What took you two?” Chisato complained.

“Bad heart, can’t run,” Rika says in a matter of fact tone. Only my familiarity of her breathing patterns told me that even the pace we kept was a bit much for her.

“Oh, sorry,” the girl looks a bit chastized.

“Don’t worry about it,” I tell her. “We live with it every day, no reason you should have known.”

“But I’ve seen you at the track in the mornings,” Saki says.

“My condition is a bit better than Rika’s,” I tell her. “And you’ve seen me, huh?”

“It’s just down from the pool exit, hard to miss when anyone is on the track,” she answers matter of factly.

I shrug. “Fair enough.”

The two of them guide us through the rather sizable store to the swimwear area. I look at it, and my eyes just glaze over. Now I remember why I only have three outfits aside from school uniforms.

Saki guides Rika over to some racks while discussing about various swimwear elements. For my part, I just look around at the few men’s suits nearby, idly curious. Some of these swimsuits are just too much, or rather, not enough. That pair looks like some kind of fancy European underwear. That pair leaves nothing to the imagination. Oh, a fundoshi, still, too revealing for me. That pair… ok, it doesn’t look too bad, but still.

I realize I’ve been subconsciously tracing out the scar on my chest. Any swimwear would reveal it to the world. Then I look back to Rika, and consider if she will be picking an outfit which reveals hers.

I focus on my hearing a bit, seeing if I can overhear the three girls. No luck. I turn my head, and they all seem to have vanished. I sigh, and sit down at the bench next to the changing rooms. This certainly feels very familiar, save for the distinct lack of Miki and Suzu’s laughter.

I then turn my eyes around the store, watching the people going about their shopping. Just watching the world go by, apart from it yet still very much part of it. A very comfortable place to be, sitting here observing.

“Hisao, you ready?” I hear a voice from the changing rooms.

“I suppose so,” I answer back.

I look over as Saki and Chisato at the same time go “Ta da” as Rika steps out.

The look on her face tells me that she is very uncomfortable. The swimsuit itself is very cute on her, a one piece which covers up her chest area completely. It has a pattern of colors across it which makes little rhyme nor reason. At the bottom, a short skirt covers the top of her thighs. She’s holding her hands in front of herself, looking very shy at the moment.

“What… do you think?” She asks in a soft voice.

I smile. “I think it suits you well.”

Still with her head down, but looking at me, she smiles a bit. “Really?”

I nod. “Really.”

Chisato pats her arm. “Told you.”

Saki then tells me, “Wait outside of the store, would you Hisao? Pick us up something to drink while we check out.” Before I can answer, all three have headed back into the changing area.

I shrug, and head out of the store.

There are a few vending machines across the way, and I pick up 4 different things, to give a variety. I don’t know what Saki or Chisato like, after all, so figure give them a choice.

The girls are exiting as I walk back up to the entrance. “I did not know what everyone would like, so I picked a few options.” I hold out the cans, and notice that Rika is holding two bags in one hand.

Saki and Chisato both grab a can each, then start walking away.

“Time for us to head out. See you guys later!” Chisato calls back to us.

“Bye you two,” says Saki.

I shrug, then unfold Rika’s parasol for her. “Shall we do anything else while we are here?”

She considers a moment. “Lunch?”

I nod. “Lunch.”

The ramen place we found had some very tasty options.

Once we have filled ourselves, I finally turn to the two bags. “So, what else did you buy?” I ask her.

Rika shuffles her feet a bit. “Um… You know how I can’t… swim? I… was wondering… if you don’t mind… teaching me?”

“What does that have to do with…” my voice trails off as she pulls out of one of the bags another swimsuit, a men’s swimsuit. I look at it, and realize that it is not a briefs, nor shorts, but instead some kind of one piece which covers the torso as well. “Saki called this a compression suit. It… would cover up your scar…”

“Well, if you are going to go to all this work for me, how could I say no?”

“Tomorrow before dinner?” she asks.

I look at her more closely. “Are you just trying to add more time with me during the day?”

Rika smiles a bit. “Would it work?”

“I don’t know… let’s meet up tomorrow before dinner and see.” Then in a less playful mood. “Back to classes tomorrow. We do need to study tonight as well don’t we?”

Rika sighs. “I know.”

“Last thing we want to be is that student who spends an entire three day weekend goofing off before exams, right?”

Rika smiles and nods. “Right.”

“Anything else we want to do while we’re down here?” I ask her.

She shakes her head. “I think I’m good.”

“Alright, so let’s head back to the bus.”

The trip back to the bus stop reminds me that, for being in the city, we’ve not actually gone that far. A few hundred meters at most. A reminder of our condition.

It is as we approach the bus stop that I suddenly find a pair of hands over my eyes and a far too bubbly for her own good voice giggling out “Guess Who!”

I ponder a moment. “Hanako!”

“Wrong, guess again!”

“Shizune!”

At this point the laughter erupts, as I knew it would, and Misha comes out from behind me. “I got you this time, didn’t I? WAHAHA!”

I cannot help but notice that she is carrying at least a half dozen bags from 4 different stores, all full. “Going shopping I see?”

“It’s a three day weekend! Of course I’m going shopping!” Misha looks far too pleased with herself.

Rika looks at her from behind those sunglasses and says, “Exams are coming up. Shouldn’t you be studying for them instead?”

Misha laughs that off. “You sound like Shichan!”

“Speaking of which, I’m surprised not to see her with you,” I say.

Misha’s face closes up a bit. “Hicchan, we are separate people who live separate lives!”

I shrug. “Suppose so. Not like I socialize with either of you outside of school. Heading back to campus?”

“No way! There’s a new shop down this way I’ve got to check out!”

I think a moment. “Well, don’t let us stop you. We do want to get some studying in before tomorrow. Have fun Misha and see you in class.”

Misha’s laughter is easy to pick out for dozens of meters as she walks away. I wonder if her hearing is alright, as she is so loud all of the time.

Rika stifles a laugh.

“Oh sure, laugh at my pain. I have to sit next to her!” To emphasize, I use a finger to pretend to unclog my ear.

I look after Misha for a few more moments before sighing. “Let’s go home.” I smile at Rika.

“Let’s,” Rika says back.

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:39 am

fundoshi
Okay, I like to think my Japanese is quite a bit beyond the beginner level and I had to look that up... :lol:
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: 149
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:39 pm

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

Post by Downix » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:41 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:39 am
fundoshi
Okay, I like to think my Japanese is quite a bit beyond the beginner level and I had to look that up... :lol:
Only reason *I* knew about it is due to having gotten hooked on a Manga years ago which had a running joke about underwear in it. (Then again, a lot of them have running jokes about underwear, come to think of it)

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

Post by Downix » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:23 pm

Here is where my life gets an opportunity to bleed through. My sister and I both have contact allergies, her to formaldehyde, myself to sulfates. Means she can't wear most makeup, means I can't use several forms of skin cream. My former career in yellow-rag journalism (let me admit it, the place had crap standards) had me cover a medical document forgery ring out of Kyoto some time back, and I learned of all sorts of odd pieces of Japanese medical records and the regulations thereof, so I've included a piece of that knowledge here.

Thank you everybody for the feedback so far. It's helped me improve my narrative writing tremendously.

---------

Haddock’s Eyes:

Some couples distract each other, as I witness with a small fight between Miki and Suzu in the entryway as Rika and I walk into her dorm. Unlike them, studying together seems to work for us. That we can spend hours in each others company without speaking means that doing so while working on schoolwork has always been relatively straightforward. While this weekend was enjoyable, now, we study.

The work is tedious, but not overwhelming. Rika for her part works on her own, but does turn to me when she hits a particularly troublesome area. I note that is becoming fewer and further between for her as well. Otherwise, we work in peaceful silence.

“I think that is enough today,” Rika finally says, putting her books away.

“Oh? We still have several hours before curfew,” I point out to her.

She nods. “I am distracted. I want, no I need to read this. It’s weighing on my mind,” she says, pointing to the folder her father had given the other day.

“Alright. I’ll sit right over here.” I set down my study material, sit back, and wait.

She takes the folder, closes her eyes for a moment to take a deep breath, then opens it.

Almost immediately, her expression becomes one of confusion. Page, after page, she pours over the folder. Eyes scanning, looking for, something I know not what. She gets halfway through, then closes the folder.

“Hisao, please tell me what you make of this.” She hands it over to me.

Puzzled, I open the folder.

Inside, I find a lot of documents. Newspaper clips, magazine articles, photocopies, all on severe allergic reactions. Then at the end, a handful of medical records, but they all look wrong.

“Not many records at all, just these sheets at the end. And… there’s something off here.” I re-read them a few times, trying to figure out what seems off about then. I finally look at the top, and realize what the matter is. “Rika, when is your birthday?”

She blinks. “June 14th, why?”

I hand her a sheet. “Look at the date.”

She blinks a moment. “This is… 4 months before I was born.” She grabs the folder again and looks at it. “All of these are from before I was born.”

“What was your brother’s name?”

“Riko, they named me Rika because… to help honor his memory.” She then puts a finger on a page. “These are his records… His vaccine shot record, his visits to the pediatricians office, weight chart…” Then she looks at the last page and freezes. “His autopsy.”

She pulls up one sheet and reads aloud. “Most likely cause of death being severe anaphylaxis. Final determination inconclusive as to what caused the initial allergic reaction. Substances found on the body which may have caused the reaction include…”

She stumbles trying to pronounce some of the next few words, “nickel, formaldehyde, mercaptobenzothiazole, aluminum, latex…”

The tongue twister behind, she takes another deep breath before continuing. “It also says that it might have been due to rapid exposure to cold temperatures, or unexpected exertion… I don’t even know what half of these things are.”

“My guess is they are found in whatever your parents wanted you to avoid.” I consider this a moment. “How old was he?”

She re-reads the report. “15 months. So young. I can’t imagine…”

She hangs her head down.

I take the folder off her lap, put it on the desk, then sit on the bed holding her as I feel the tears fall.

“Are you ok?” I ask her.

She nods. “I’ll be ok. I just… it… It’s going to take some time to process.”

We stay like that for awhile. I don’t know when she drifted off to sleep. The whole thing must have been too much for her. I gently give her a kiss and exit her room quietly. I note that sunset is just about upon us. Plenty of time to exit before curfew.

In the hallway, a distinctive pink hairdo can be seen at the end of the hallway nearest the elevator, opening a door to what I presume is her room.

I close Rika’s door, then call out as I walk up to her, “Hey Misha, finally back from a long day shopping, huh?”

She turns and breaks out in a smile. “Hicchan, you know it’s almost curfew! Don’t let Shichan catch you here past that.”

I look at my watch. “Curfew’s not for three more hours. In any case, I’m actually on my way out.” I motion to Rika’s door. “She’s had a rough day, so I stayed till she got some sleep.”

“Is she ok?” Misha asks.

“I think so,” I tell her.

“What happened?” She asks.

I ponder a moment. “She got… Well, some stuff to handle.”

“Anything I can do?”

“I think she’ll be fine in the morning,” I tell her.

“Hicchan, if either of you need anything, you know Shichan and I will be there,” Misha smiles, like she has a good plan in place. Then she sobers up a bit. “I’m jealous, you know.”

“Jealous of what? Two lovers who could die at a moments notice?”

Misha rests a hand on my shoulder. “You returned her feelings, that makes you a wonderful person. Having a confession rejected is one of the worst feelings in the world.”

I chuckle. “So too is having a confession, and being unable to respond. I was not going to let that happen to Rika.”

“Do you love her?” Misha asks.

“What kind of question is that?”

“An important one,” she says.

I smile. “Yes, yes I do.”

Misha ponders a moment. “And, when did you fall in love with her?”

I close my eyes a moment “When I came here, I thought my life had ended, that I was sent here to die. Then, I had all of these people open themselves up to me, cheering me on. Even Shizune, as annoying as she was with that overcompetitive streak of hers, made me feel part of something again. Then Rika, just as broken as I am… If she could make it, I knew I could. I wake up every morning to her cheering me on, and I don’t know what I’d do if she was not there.

“As to when I began to fall in love with her, I’d have to say it was that first morning she showed up to make me get some exercise. She went out of her way to support me, and I wanted to do the same for her. She helped me grow. I’m more comfortable with myself than even before my heart attack. I guess having someone I could open my heart to, in more ways than one, made all the difference.”

I pause a moment, then lean on the wall. “You know, I should thank the two of you for helping to make me feel accepted here. It drove me nuts at the time, but in hindsight, it really helped. Thank you.”

Misha now looks like I’d just given her the best present ever. “Awww!” She gives me a big hug.

Then the neighboring door opens, and Shizune steps out into the hallway drinking a juice box and not paying that much attention. She turns, sees Misha hugging me, and freezes.

I tap Misha’s shoulder. Misha lets go with a confused look, then sees Shizune, and starts laughing.

Shizune’s expression goes from surprise to irritated.

I take out the notepad which Rika had picked up for me, write down, “Thank you,” and tear the page out before handing it over to Shizune.

She looks it over, then at me with a clear expression of puzzlement.

So, I wave, turn on my feet, and walk out, the sounds of Misha’s laughter still ringing down the hall.

-------

In the morning, I wake up a half hour early, and wait outside the girl’s dorm. Right on time, Rika exits, looking like she got enough sleep the night before. Under her arm, the folder.

“Good morning beautiful,” I tell her.

She smiles, then says “You didn’t stay last night.”

“Shizune saw me, and I was reminded of curfew.”

Rika nods. “Well, shall we be off?”

I offer my arm, take her parasol, and we begin our morning ritual.

“So, going to ask the nurse this morning?” I ask her.

She nods. “There is likely an explanation for it all.”

“I agree,” I tell her.

“Should I ask why Misha this morning gave me a hug out of the blue?” Rika asks after a little bit.

“She asked me about when I fell in love with you.”

“And?”

I wink. “I told her.”

Rika then falls into the comfortable silence, the smile on her face saying it all.

Our morning routine passes quickly enough, as our main goal this morning is the nurses office.

“You go first Emi, I think we might be awhile,” I tell her.

“Are you sure?” Emi looks skeptical. “Well, alright.”

I sit next to Rika, and pat the folder. “Nervous?”

She nods, not looking at me.

Exiting the room, Emi says “Your turn,” as she rushes past.

I just roll my eyes.

“Come on,” I tell Rika.

“Oh? Two for one today too?” The nurse smiles at us.

“I got the file from my father you asked for,” Rika says.

“Oh, good. I’ll take a look once I’m done with your boyfriend.” The nurse gives that grin of his.

It finishes up quickly for me. Then, the nurse sits down, and takes a look at the folder.

“Hmm, I see.” He sets it down on his desk.

“I don’t really understand it myself,” Rika says.

The nurse sits back and looks back at her. “Oh? It’s actually quite simple. When a child demonstrates a severe allergy, doctors used to assume any younger siblings would have the same allergy by default. This would stay in their file until they were tested, typically around age 4. They only changed this a few years ago.

“It seems that your brother’s allergic reaction was so out of the blue that they never did identify the root cause. However, you also never had the follow up testing as far as I can see. Since it was conditional, based on relation, and the guidelines for this have changed, your doctor did not forward it to us.”

“So, I was listed as having allergies, because my brother died?” Rika looks a bit disturbed from this knowledge.

The nurse nods. “Right.”

I muse, “I don’t know how most of them relate to her restrictions however. I mean, her parents prohibited her from wearing makeup.”

The nurse winks, flips to the autopsy sheet and points to one item on it. “Formaldehyde. It is used for manufacturing many kinds of makeup. Also for most sun blocks, which could be deadly for someone with your skin condition, Rika, if you did not take the extra steps you do with the parasol and clothing. Now, I’m going to guess, your parents also prohibited you from eating pears?”

Rika nods. “Pears have… that stuff in them?”

The nurse nods.

“You seem to be quite the expert,” I eye the nurse suspiciously.

He smiles. “We actually have have several students with an allergy to formaldehyde. It’s uncommon, but not unknown. It’s usually just dermal lesions or hives however, nothing deadly. Main thing people with this allergy do is use different makeup and skin care products than usual, that’s all. And they can’t eat pears or else they would be out for a day or two with a severe stomach ache.”

I then say “So, if they want to skip a class…”

The nurse smiles. “Don’t give them any ideas. As for the others, you have things used in the manufacture of jewelry, swimsuits, bunch of stuff.”

Rika thinks on it. “So, my parents ban on me going to the pool, was due to the swimsuit, not the water?”

The nurse nods. “Most likely. Did they ever explain why?”

She shakes her head. “They just said not to, so I didn’t.”

I consider it a moment. “I think I understand what happened now.”

Rika nods. “I think so too. The doctors just put down every possible cause for my brothers death, and my father…”

“Took no chances with you?” I completed her thought.

The nurse has his serious face on. “Not that abnormal for people in grief to over protect a surviving child. And don’t forget that you have genuine health issues which were obvious from birth. Those needed near continual care for the first few years of life. If I were in his position, I’d likely have been over-protective as well. Now, you are old enough to make this decision for yourself if you want.”

Rika looks up. “What decision?”

The nurse smiles, “Well, for the testing…”

“Yes! Test me!” Rika just about screams.

The nurse laughs at this. “I figured as much. Turn around and take your shirt off.”

Rika blinks. “Don’t you need to order the test?”

The nurse smiles. “After last week, I took the precaution and ordered one already. I figured you’d want it as soon as possible.” He then pauses to look at me. “It will, however, take over an hour to perform, and I can’t give you a late pass for her test Hisao.”

“Oh, right. Will you be alright Rika?” I ask, squeezing her hand.

She nods. “I just want this over with. Can… would you… I mean… come to my classroom when it’s lunchtime, please?”

I nod. “Of course.”

--------

“Hicchan,” came the voice next to me. “Help me! Help me, help me, help me!”

I eye her. “What is the matter?”

Misha looks absolutely maudlin. “Shicchan's going to be fine, but I think I might die. Am I going to die, Hicchan? Will you let me die from all this work?”

I give her a level look. “You were shopping all weekend instead of studying. What did you expect?”

Misha smiles, “Studying's too boring to waste a holiday on, Hicchan! Shopping is much more fun!”

I groan, then look at Shizune. “You studied, right?”

Shizune signs back her answer, which Misha translates dutifully. “Of course, Hicchan. It's only sensible to study in the days before…” and then Misha stops, and makes a sound like a dying farm animal.

Both Shizune and I look at her, then at each other and break out into a smile while chuckling to ourselves as Misha rests her head on the desk moaning.

Shizune then pokes Misha, and signs something to her. Misha looks up, then translates. “So, what was last night about?”

“Talking to Misha last night reminded me of how the two of you helped cheer me up when I got here. It means a lot to me that you took the time to make me feel welcome, and I never had thanked you both for that,” I tell her.

Shizune pauses, and seems to think of what to say. Then smiles and nods before turning back to her work.

The lunch bell did not come soon enough.

I make it to Rika’s classroom in no time at all. Peeking into the room, I don’t see her. I do see Keiko and Aoi just inside the door, talking to each other.

“Hey guys, have you seen Rika this morning?” I ask them.

They both turn towards me, and I notice that Aoi is now looking right at me again, eyes focusing. Time with Rika has made me recognize that in other people now I think to myself.

Keiko talks first however. “No, I thought she was with you this morning.”

I nod. “Well, if you see her, let her know I’m looking for her. Oh, and Aoi, glad that you can see again.”

Aoi smiles. “Thanks Hisao!”

“Oh, Hisao?” Keiko blurts out.

“Yes?”

“We could… use some help.”

I stand a bit straighter. “How can I help you?”

Aoi pipes up. “We have been talking, and we want to run a haunted house at the end of October.”

I am a bit puzzled. “Sounds like fun, but what does that have to do with me?”

“You’re in the Student Council President’s classroom. When we approached her, she… was less than supportive. Could you…”

I raise a hand. “I’ll talk to her, alright?”

Keiko and Aoi both smile. “Thank you!” they say in practiced unison.

I smile, step back from the room and lean on the opposing wall. Where can Rika be?

“Hey,” comes Rika’s voice.

I look over, but my smile halts when I see the look on her face. “What’s wrong?”

“Not here. Come, please.”

We fall into our habit, and walk to the garden before sitting down.

“Ok, so what happened?”

Rika leans onto my shoulder. “You’ll love me no matter what, right?”

I nod. “Of course.”

“Promise?”

“What is this?” I ask. Then I nod. “I promise. So what’s wrong?”

She sighs. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” I ask.

She nods. “Nothing. Nothing reacted. No allergies… At all”

“Isn’t that a good thing?”

“I guess, it’s just… my… condition has always been part of who I am. How I defined myself. I’m… lost right now.” She looks very fragile right now.

I muse. “You spent Friday exploring, to see if you would react, but now you’re in shock that you didn’t react.”

She does not look up at me. “There is a difference between experiencing something, and knowing something. Part of me still believed that I was… allergic. And that it was all just a happy coincidence that I could not be for one night, some strange alignment of stars, or a haiku which pleased the gods, or a blessing of sorts, something fleetingly brief. Which is why I pushed to do everything in a day. Some miracle which would vanish the next day.

“Instead, it was nothing at all, never anything at all... and… and… I don’t know who I am now.” Tears start flowing down her cheeks.

“Hey, you are not defined by your condition, just like I am not. This is just something new which we need to get used to, that’s all.” I hold her hand. “We’ll get through this together, alright?”

She leans in. “Please, just hold me.”

I do as she asks.

After a few moments, I ask, “Were you really afraid that I’d stop loving you if I found out you were different?”

She nods into my chest.

I rest my head on top of hers. “I love you for you, no matter what happens. Your health improves, or gets worse, I’m here for you, ok?”

We sit there for a bit before she says, “Hisao, the nurse did add another pill to what I take every morning.”

“I thought you said nothing…”

She interrupts me with a finger on my lips. “One covering what Emi mentioned the other day.”

I look down at her, and that slight smile on her face. I can’t help but join in.

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:32 pm

I do hope she doesn't report that additional pill to her father :-)

So no forged documents after all just ones that weren't for Rika in the first place... He might have expected her to be pset once she read those - but I guess thinking about Rika's feelings is not somthing he has much experience with...
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: 149
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:39 pm

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

Post by Downix » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:29 pm

This scene took me several tries to get just right. It was not until the idea of introducing the chess game that it finally came together.


Queen Alice:

The end of class comes quickly, and I remember the promise I’d made Keiko and Aoi. Misha and Shizune were next to me as ever, holding an animated conversation.

I really wish I did not have to go through Misha to talk to Shizune. I keep feeling like something is lost in translation.

Shizune notices me looking at them first, and signals to her partner.

Misha’s head whips around. I swear a few more inches, and those drills could have sliced my nose off.

“Hicchan! Shichan says you looked like you wanted something!”

I nod. “Well, not me precisely. Keiko and Aoi asked me to ask you about their proposal.”

Shizune gets that look in her eyes when she feels that a challenge is coming on. Her signs are very bold. Clearly this was something important to her.

“The Student Council cannot spare the time to organize a Haunted House for them,” Misha translates.

What Misha says, and the look in Shizune’s eyes, do not entirely jive. Shizune wants to be challenged here. But, with only two members of the Student Council, they clearly cannot do the task and maintain everything else they need to do. So, what else could be done?

An idea hits me. “Well, could they organize it themselves, with the Student Council only handling the finished paperwork?”

And then Shizune tents her fingers, and gets that smile, before answering.

“Certainly they can.”

I nod. “I will tell them.”

------

I find myself at our card game early today, hoping to catch Keiko and Aoi. However, the only one who has arrived early turns out to be Suzu.

And Suzu is not really here either.

I walk up to the sleeping form and check to make sure she’s physically fine. A quick inspection, and it looks like she’s ok. I ponder a moment, take off my jacket, fold it, lift her head and slide my jacket under to serve as a pillow.

“Aww, how cute,” comes a voice behind me.

“Hi Miki. Your girlfriend’s sleeping,” I tell her.

“She does that,” Miki says as she walks up to the table and sits down.

I consider a moment. “She sat through class fine today too.”

Miki’s smile drops. “Yeah, that’s the nasty part of narcolepsy, you really can’t control where you fall asleep.”

My mind goes back to the first time I saw her, with a knee brace on.

“Hey Miki, can I ask you something?”

Miki smiles. “Sorry Hisao, I’m taken!”

I give her a level look.

“And Rika knows where I sleep.” Miki’s smile gets even bigger.

I roll my eyes.

“I don’t know what there is for couples to do in the area. Taking Rika out to the Shanghai every week would get dull quick.”

Miki’s eyebrows go up as her trademark grin returns. “Oh ho, so you’re trying to find date suggestions!”

“Please,” I tell her.

Miki ponders a moment. “Well, what do you guys do when out and about?”

I shrug. “People watch.”

“Ok, I’ll make you a list of options!” Miki winks.

Suddenly Suzu’s voice pops up with “Options for what?”

Looking over, her eyes are blinking, and I see that she’s trying to figure out where she is.

“Welcome back to the land of the living,” Miki says.

“Not funny,” Suzu retorts. Then she looks at my jacket. “Who… oh, Hisao, is this yours?”

I nod. “Figured you could use a pillow.”

Suzu smiles. “Thank you.” She looks around. “How long was I out?”

I consider class. “Less than an hour. I remember you in class.”

Miki then says, “As for your first question, options for Hisao to take Rika out for a date.”

Suzu smiles. “Well, hopefully you can guide him.” Then she yawns. “I don’t think that I…” her eyes glaze over, and then her head goes back onto my jacket.

“I think this is going to be the pattern today,” Miki says.

“So, card game might be delayed?” I ask.

“Oh, it’ll be really delayed. Keiko and Aoi got hung up with something,” Miki says.

“Shoot, I was hoping to run into them. They asked for help in dealing with Shizune, and I wanted to give them an update.” I ponder. “Any ideas how to pass the time?”

Miki looks around. “Well, the cards aren’t here. Only games I see are Clue and a Chess set.”

“Clue needs more than two players. Want to play Chess?”

Miki shrugs. “Nope! No good at it. And I think someone stole pieces out of that Clue set anyways.”

I laugh. “Well shoot.”

“I p-play Chess,” came a quiet voice behind me.

I look over my shoulder. “Well then Hanako, feel like a game?”

“S-sure,” she says and sits down quickly.

Miki laughs to herself. “I should go get Suzu to her room anyways. You two have fun.”

I watch Miki pick Suzu up and onto her back.

“No matter how many times I see that, it still impresses the hell out of me,” I say as she carries Suzu to the elevator.

I then look over to Hanako, who is almost finished setting up the board.

“Black or White?” I ask her.

She considers. “White.”

As we play, I try and hold a conversation. “So, do anything exciting over the holiday?”

White King Pawn to King 4.

It takes a few moments before she replies, “L-lilly and I went to her family’s house in Hokkaido. It was nice.”

Black King Pawn to King 5.

I nod. “Sounds nice. Glad you two enjoyed yourselves.”

White King Knight to King Bishop 3.

“W-what about you?”

Black Queen Pawn to Queen Pawn 6.

“Rika and I did not do much. Met her father for lunch one day, otherwise nothing too exciting.”

White Queen Pawn to Queen Pawn 4.

“R-rika and… are you two… d-dating?” Hanako sounds surprised.

Black Queen Bishop to King Knight 4.

I chuckle. “I’d figured the rumor mill was all over that. Yes, we are dating. You didn’t know?”

White Queen Pawn to King 5, capture King Pawn.

Hanako says, “I-i thought you might, but wasn’t sure.”

Black Queen Bishop to King Bishop 3, capture King Knight.

I smile. “What about you?”

Hanako freezes in mid move, her eyes wide.

I tell her, “It is a fair question.”

Clearly Rika’s father is rubbing off on me. I mentally chastize myself for using that phrase.

She shakes her head “N-no, nobody.” She finishes her move.

White Queen to King Bishop 3, capture Queen Bishop.

I nod. “Well, you’re a cute young woman in your last year of high school. You’ll do fine.”

Black Queen Pawn to King 5.

She blinks at that. “C-cute? I-I-I...”

I nod. “My heart is broken, not my eyes. Yes, cute. You have beautiful hair, very stunning eyes, certainly you are cute. Shy, but cute. But, some people like shy girls.” I shrug.

I’ve clearly made her uncomfortable, so I change the subject. “Ready for exams?”

White King Bishop to Queen Bishop 4.

Black King Knight to King Bishop 6.

She seems to shake herself out of her shock. “Y-y-yes. I am feeling good about them.”

White Queen to Queen Knight 3.

I smile. “Great to hear.”

Black Queen to King 7.

White Queen Knight to Queen Bishop 3.

I really cannot stand the awkward silence she falls into if you let her, so I just keep picking a topic to help prevent it. It is jarring, compared to the silence Rika and I fall into.

“So what do you like to do for fun aside from read and play chess?”

Black Queen Bishop Pawn to Queen Bishop 6.

She sighs. “Y-you don’t need to do this?”

White Queen Bishop to King Knight 5.

“Do what?” I ask.

Black Queen Knight Pawn to Knight 5.

“Pretend to care a-about me.”

White Queen Knight to Queen Knight 5, capture Pawn.

I sigh. “I don’t know anything about you Hanako in order to care. What I do know is that you are shy, and that makes me feel awkward. So, I am trying to learn about you, to help me stop feeling so awkward.”

Black Bishop Pawn to Knight 5, capture Knight.

I look at her. It then strikes me that I now have to actively think about her scars, they’ve become normal to me.

White Queen Bishop to Knight 5, capture Pawn, Check.

She seems to be weighing something behind those eyes.

I nod. “Hey, it’s ok if you don’t tell me anything. I just don’t want to be in the position in 6 months of not even remembering anything about most of my class again.”

Black Queen Knight to Queen 2.

She blinks. “A-again?”

White King Castle with Queen Rook.

I sigh. “You only know that two months ago I transferred to this school. What you don’t know is that I spent the four months before that in the hospital. And, if you ask me about my former classmates, want to know how many I could name?”

She pauses, then shakes her head.

Black Queen Rook to Queen 8.

“Four. Shin, Takumi, Mai and Iwanako. That’s it. A class of 20, and I can only remember 4 of them, and one of them mainly because she was there when I had my heart attack. I don’t want that again. So, I’m trying to at least know something about my classmates.” I tell her.

Black Queen Rook to Queen 7, Capture Knight.

She blinks again. “Heart attack? I-i knew your heart, but...”

Black Queen Rook to Queen 7, capture Rook.

I smile and point my thumb at my chest. “Yes, that’s how they discovered the arrhythmia. Had to have surgery to save my life.”

White King Rook to Queen 1.

I notice in my peripheral vision a familiar form sitting down at the table, watching us. I smile, not taking my eyes off the board, while reaching out and taking her hand.

Black Queen to King 6.

Hanako then says “Sing, I like to sing.”

White Queen Bishop to Queen 7, Check.

I smile. “Sounds like fun.” Not looking over, “Hello love, Suzu is having an episode, Miki’s taking care of her. Keiko and Aoi got hung up with work.”

Black King Knight to Queen 7, capture Queen.

“Well, I’m enjoying watching you two,” Rika says.

Hanako’s eyes go wide, and turns to look at her before returning to the game. “R-rika! I mean, hello!”

I know Rika’s just smiling, and watching.

White Queen to Queen Knight 8, Check

“You play very well you know Hanako,” I tell her.

Black King Knight to Queen Knight 8, capture Queen

“T-thanks,” she says, a small smile coming across her face. It is quite cute.

White King Rook to Queen 8.

“And t-that’s Checkmate.” Hanako beams.

I look it over. "And so it is. Well played,” I tell her. “We should play again sometime.”

“I-I’d like that,” Hanako says.

“Have a good evening Hanako. Rika, are you ready?”

Rika nods.

Hanako looks between the two of us. “Ready?”

Rika looks back at her with a small smile on her face. “Hisao has agreed to teach me how to swim.”

-------

“I’m really not certain about this” she says.

“Relax. Now, lean your head back,” I tell her.

We’ve been at this for at least a half hour. Rika’s nervousness makes it very difficult to teach her anything, but I’m doing my best.

I stand there in the shallow end, holding her up in the water, trying to help her gain the confidence needed.

Resting on my arms, Rika, in her new swimsuit, rigid as a board.

“Shh,” I whisper to her. “You’re safe, right here.”

I ignore the snickers from the few other people who have passed through the pool area.

Here I am, teaching Rika, how to float in the pool.

“When I lean my head back, I… I’m afraid I’ll get water…” She sputters out.

“I know, it feels like that, but that won’t happen. I’m right here,” I tell her gently.

She closes her eyes. “I feel like such a baby.”

“Hey, you’re doing fine,” I tell her again.

I consider something a moment. I move to float under and just behind Rika.

“What are you doing?” She asks, very confused.

I smile and wrap my arms around her. “Just trying something. Lean back into me.”

While the position is a little awkward, it does mean that she can feel my chest behind her, and my arms around her. I feel her breathing, and know when she starts to relax.

I repeat softly the mantra I’ve whispered to her many times before. “Breathe, one, two three. Breathe with me.”

I let my arms go, and wait. She still is breathing calmly.

I inhale, and slowly sink, leaving her floating on the surface of the water without me.

I quickly swim to the side, and surface next to her. Looking down as I stand, her eyes are closed, her breathing soft and relaxed.

Reaching out, I take her hand.

Her eyes go wide, and she looks in my direction.

I wave at her, and smile.

Her face starts to relax, and I can see her breathing settle back to normal.

She’s floating.

All of the stress, all of the false starts, it all is worth it for the look of pure joy which crosses her face as she closes her eyes.

Holding just her hand, I start to slowly walk her around the pool.

“Just be. Don’t worry about the world. Just be here, now.” I tell her as we slowly move.

I can feel her heartbeat through her hand, and I don’t think I’ve felt her heartbeat so relaxed. Focusing on it a moment, I could feel her own tremor, a slightly lop-sided beat. Then I listen to my own, different, stronger than hers, also off-tempo, but in its own way.

“Before you run, you must walk. Before you walk, you must crawl. And before you swim, you must float,” I whisper to her.

Then I feel the prickle on the back of my neck, that sensation of being watched. I look over my shoulder, and do a double take.

“Keiko, what are you doing here?”

Rika’s eyes go wide, and her concentration fails. And so too does her buoyancy. For a moment, she finds herself completely submerged.

It takes me a moment to recover her.

Keiko’s eyes go wide. “Oh no! I’m sorry! Miki mentioned that you were looking for me earlier, and someone else mentioned you two were here.”

I sigh as Rika gets the water out of her eyes. “Yes, I talked to Shizune.”

“And? Will they?”

“The Student Council lacks the manpower to organize and manage such an event. However, if you were to handle the organization and management, they can handle the necessary paperwork for you.”

Keiko looks a little disappointed. “Oh, well, it was a nice idea.”

“What? Giving up?” I ask her.

Rika, still recovering from the momentary submersion, takes a look at Keiko. “Wouldn’t you like to wipe the smug look off of her face?”

“Rika’s right. Are you going to let Shizune win this round?” I ask her sternly. “She said that knowing that you would lack the follow through. Prove her wrong, and do it.”

Keiko ponders. “Well, I mean, I don’t know anything about organizing anything on this scale.”

I suggest, “Why don’t you ask Lilly from 3-2? Her class made the largest booth at the festival back in June. She’d likely be able to point you in the right direction.”

“No, you’re right. Let’s do it! We’d better get planning!” Keiko suddenly looks excited, and rushes off.

“Don’t run in the pool, it’s slippery!” Rika yells after her.

A moment passes before I feel her hand gently touch my arm.

“What’s up, Rika?” I ask, looking back to her.

She looks nervous. “Hisao? Can.. can I try on my own?”

I shrug with a smile. “Don’t see why not. You were doing fine. I’ll be over here in case you need me, alright?”

I take a few strokes away from her, and grab hold of the edge of the pool, watching her from a few feet away.

She takes a few deep breaths, like she’s uncertain if she can do it. This is her fight however, and only she can face the task in front of her.

Slowly she leans back, letting the back of her head pass below the waters surface. Seeing the tips of her toes break the water, I see she’s done it. I can’t help but smile, but I am not going to say anything, else distract her.

She drifts, passing over to the deep end. I move along the wall, ready in case something happens.

“Hey,” Keiko’s voice surprises me.

And apparently surprises Rika too. Once more she goes under. But before I can push off to get her, the swimming cap and coughing face comes back up, and looks at Keiko annoyed.

“Stop doing that,” Rika yells.

Glancing over, Keiko looks embarrassed. “Sorry, sorry. I just remembered something else. Rika, do you have a copy of today’s history assignment? I, uh, spilled something on mine.”

Rika sighs. “Yes, just... swing by my room in an hour, alright?

Keiko smiles. “Thank you! See you then.”

As she shuffles off again, I look back at Rika, still bobbing there in the water.

“Hey, Rika?”

She looks at me.

“What?” she asks.

I point down. “Take a look.”

She glances down, and her eyes go wide.

“You’re doing that all on your own,” I tell her.

Looking back up, she still seems surprised. “I… I suppose I am.” Then she looks around. “Uh, what do I do now?”

“That’s entirely up to you. I’m only here in case you need me, remember?”

She smiles slightly. “Yeah, I suppose so.”

Leaning forward slightly, she starts to move under her own power, slowly. I wonder if this is the feeling of pride a parent has of their children when they begin to accomplish things on their own.

Once she reaches the shallow end again, she stands back up and calls over to me. “Ok, we need to do some studying tonight. Let’s go get dinner.”

I nod, then start to swim over to the stairs. “Sounds good.”

She then puts on a sly smile. “Then, my room?”

I smile. “Why ma’am, people might get the wrong idea.”

Rika smiles a bit. “Not during exams. Nobody has time for that.”

I nod. “Too true, too true.”
Last edited by Downix on Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Downix
Posts: 149
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:39 pm

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

Post by Downix » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:35 am

And here is the final piece of Act 3. All of the pieces are on the board for the drama of Act 4.

Snowdrop and Kitty:

I will admit, this is not how I expected to spend this evening. I look down at the white haired beauty currently using my lap as a pillow as she slept. How did I get so lucky?

On the desk, the letter from Iwanako. I re-read it, and I no longer feel the bitterness of those days in the hospital. I guess it is time to do the right thing.

I take out a pad of paper, and begin to write.

Iwanako,

It is good to hear from you. When I received your letter, I found myself unable to respond right away. Normally one would say that exams were troublesome or that club activities were keeping them busy, but the truth of the matter is that I needed more time to collect my thoughts before responding.

It may have only been a few months, but it feels like a lifetime ago. The atmosphere here is quite different from our old school. Once I settled in, it feels more like home than my parents house ever has. I have greater independence, and also greater responsibility.

Transferring schools was surprisingly easy, due in large part to how welcoming my schoolmates are. As expected, my class representative, who is also our Student Council president, Shizune, and her partner, Misha, handled my initial acclimation. While Misha is bubbling laughter on legs always sporting a smile, Shizune is dedicated, intelligent, competitive, and tries her best to drag the best out of people, no matter how much they may not want to. They make a good team, which was good in my case, as I transferred right into the middle of preparing for a school festival.

I now have a rather fixed exercise routine, rather necessary due to my condition it is sad to say. Every morning I do light jogging with a girl named Emi. She is a bundle of energy, and filled with a never say die attitude. On occasion I have lunch with her and her best friend Rin, who is an incredible painter, even if I can’t ever figure out what her paintings are about, or what she’s talking about most of the time.

I’ve also joined a weekly card game with two of my classmates, Suzu and Miki, along with three classmates from 2-3, Keiko, Aoi and Rika. Miki is on track with Emi, and is the fastest girl in our class. Suzu is a much less active girl, who adores Miki to pieces. Keiko and Aoi are a pair bound at the hip, with ambition to succeed Shizune to the student council. And then there is Rika.

Rika helps wake me up mornings, so I don’t miss my exercise routine. We enjoy dinner most nights. I help her study. And, like me, she too has a heart condition. I’ve come to rely on her, just as she relies on me. Sharing a problem with someone, it has helped me to not feel so out of place, as strange as it may sound.

And now, I feel the need to apologize. That time in the hospital, I was less than a good friend to anybody. I was bitter and angry. And very much depressed. I could not see beyond myself, I was so pulled inward to my own pain at that time. You stayed by a broken child even as he pushed you and everyone else away. Truth is, I’d given up on life, just as you said. When I arrived at Yamaku, I genuinely thought I was being sent here to die.

Rika is the one who helped drag me away from that abyss, from the hollow boy sitting in that hospital bed. It becomes hard to stay focused on ones own pain, when you see someone else in the same condition who has grown to accept themselves. Without her, I do not want to think about what could have become of me.

Over the past two months, she and I became quite close. Then two weeks ago, I received my second confession. And if you ever want another way to handle it, let me tell you, a tanzaku is highly effective and less stressful. She remains one of the best surprises of my time here.

I need to tell you, what happened that day was not your fault. I was born with this condition, and there is nothing you or I could have done to prevent it. We should be grateful it happened how it did. If I had followed my normal routine, gone home to my parents house, and had my attack there, I may not have been found until they came home several hours later. In a real way, you did save my life, and I am grateful for that.

Summer Break is coming up, and I am likely to go visit my parents for part of it, hopefully with Rika. This means the possibility that we might run into each other and I do not want things to be awkward if that should happen.

You are a good person Iwanako. I genuinely wish you all the happiness you can have, for you deserve it.

Regards,
Hisao


I look it over, and realize that I’d already begun thinking of things like vacations and trips together with Rika.

I look at the clock, only 7pm. I meant to call my parents on Saturday, but with everything that happened, it slipped my mind. I take out my phone and dial the first entry in my contacts list.

“Aira Nakai speaking,” comes the voice on the other end of the line.

“Mom, hi. Sorry it took me awhile to call you,” I say into my phone.

“Five days this time? You’re speeding up Hicchan. How go the exam preparations?”

I smile a bit. “I feel pretty confident, so I’ve actually been helping others prepare.”

“That sounds good. And afterwards, are you coming home to visit during summer break?”

Right to the point, as ever. “That was actually why I was calling. Could I bring someone with me?”

“Certainly, what is his name?”

I sigh. This was going to be awkward. “Her name is Rika. We’ve… starteddating.” I ramble off the end.

“Oh?” comes the response. This was about to be question and answer time. “Well, tell us about her.”

Damn, I was hoping she would ask questions instead of leaving this open ended.

“Well, she’s a few months younger than I am, but in the 2nd year class. I think you would like her. She is quiet and thoughtful.”

Now that I’m thinking on it, what am I attracted to with her? I can’t name any one specific thing, it’s more like magnetism where it’s all around her there is some kind of Hisao attraction field.

“Before you ask, I’ve already met her father. He’s interesting.”

“Well good, one’s parentage helps to demonstrate their foundations. But you’re not really telling me about her, just describing her,” my mother says. “I mean, things like, how did you meet, what do you do together, things like that. Indulge an old woman.”

I laugh. “You would have to find an old woman first for me to indulge her.” Then I consider this a moment. “We met in the nurses office actually. He wanted to check that I was ok after a member of the track team accidentally ran into me, and she was already in there getting a checkup. We compared scars.” I start to laugh thinking about it.

“Scars?” My mother sounds concerned.

“Yeah, scars.” I tell her. “Rika also has a heart problem. So, she has a very similar scar up the center of her chest.”

“Wait, how did you compare scars?”

Oh shit, did not think of that. “Well, you need to expose your chest for a heart exam.” I tell her matter of factly.

“Uh huh,” she sounds suspicious.

It is at this point Rika yawns and stretches. She opens her eyes and smiles up at me. “Hi, who are you calling?”

I smile back. “My mother.”

My mother appears to have heard the exchange, and pipes up, “Is that her? Put her on the phone!”

“Mom, she just woke up. Exams have us worn out,” I tell her.

“I tell you put her on the phone, and you do it,” she insists.

Rika stifles a chuckle. “What does she want?”

“To talk to you,” I sputter before going back to my mother, “Mom, please…”

Rika just reaches up and plucks my phone out of my hands. Putting it up to her ear she says “Hello Mrs. Nakai. I am Rika Katayama.”

I roll my eyes then start to chuckle.

“About two weeks… 18…” she tells my mother. “Want to finish University first… not certain… um, 4… yes, plenty of time… yes, very handsome…”

Now my face is turning red. Then I wonder something, and say “Wait, what is 4?” I ask her.

She hushes me. “Oh?… He did?… Uh huh… He’s sneaky like that…”

I tune things out at this point, because much more and I would become permanently the color of a boiled lobster. Rika, for her part, seems happy to talk to my mother. I zone out, and just enjoy the presence of the girl still laying on my lap.

A finger poking me brings me back to reality. I look down, and Rika is holding my phone out to me, still open. I put it back up to my ear.

“Satisfied?”

“Hicchan, you two had better be on that train at 10:30 the first day of break. Now please focus on your exams, and I will see you in two weeks. Love you, and get some sleep.”

“Love you too mom.”

The phone line goes dead.

“So, what was that?” I ask Rika.

“What? The question which I answered 4 for?” She asks back.

I nod. “Yes, it seemed out of left field.”

She just sits there smiling enigmatically. “Come on, guess.”

I think for a moment. “What age you had your last surgery?”

She shakes her head.

“Hmm, how many takoyaki you can eat at once?”

She smiles and shakes her head again.

“Let me think…. How many boyfriends you’ve had?”

She bats my nose. “No, silly. Give up?”

I nod.

She looks at me in a very playful manner. “How many grandkids I would give her.”

And I hit a new record for how red my face can get.

Rika just sits there giggling like a madman before breaking into a laugh.

“You’re not serious, are you?” I ask.

“It was her question, and I answered her honestly,” Rika says in between giggle fits.

We both catch our breath. “Four kids?”

Rika nods. “How many do you want?”

I think. “More than one. Being an only child isn’t much fun.”

“Agreed,” she says.

“Do you already have names picked out?” I ask.

She laughs. “No! I didn’t even think about having kids until…”

“Until?”

Her smile deepens a bit while she closes her eyes. “Until she asked.”

I think some more. “Can you?”

She opens one eye and looks at me. “Can I what?”

“Can you have children, with your heart condition?”

She opens the other eye while she considers this. “I will have to talk to a doctor. Worst case we could adopt.” She closes her eyes again.

“You do realize that we have only been going out for a few weeks, and now are discussing kids, right?” I ask her with a smile in my voice.

“Blame your mother.” Rika says. “Just now you know, that will be the 5th question she will ask any prospective girlfriends.” She muses a moment. “That would make most girls very uncomfortable, so you would do best to protect them by never breaking up with me.”

“Deal” I tell her.

I then ask with dread, “What other uncomfortable topics did you two talk about?”

She smiles at this question. “Your baby photos.”

I look at her. “Seriously?”

She nods. “Apparently I am to bear witness to the glory of 2 year old Hisao.”

“Anything else?”

“Nothing too interesting. I’ve given more information to my father on a weekly basis,” she says matter of factly.

I chuckle. “Well, your father is a bit unusual in that regards.”

She shrugs. “It is who he is. I don’t think he could be any other way.”

I smile back. “Neither could my mother. So, you’ll meet her for summer break then?”

Rika smiles. “I’ll make sure it is ok with my parents first.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Both of them, not just your father?”

“Yes, for this need both,” Rika says.

“You usually only mention your father, so I don’t know much about your mother other than she works a lot.”

“I don’t see her often due to her schedule. Extended breaks are when I do see her usually, so I’ll ask her too.” Rika says.

I consider a moment. “Perhaps we could go see her before break?”

Rika pauses and thinks about it. “Maybe Saturday, could meet up during her lunch? She usually has them late in the day due to work.”

“Ever done that before?”

She nods. “A few times. I have to coordinate it with her, without dad knowing.”

I laugh. “Really? You and your mother sneaking about?”

Rika shakes her head. “Dad does not like it when I go to the city except to meet up with him, so, I…”

I smile. “I got it. So you’ve always been a little rebellious?”

Rika smiles then sits up to rest her head against my shoulder. Then looks at the time. “She should be getting off work soon. Could try now.”

I nod.

She takes out her phone, hits something on the speeddial, and starts to talk. “Mom, could I meet you for lunch on Saturday?… I wanted to ask you something… Without dad, yes… And I’m bringing a friend… Ok, good. I’ll see you then.” She hangs up.

“Well, your call went a lot quicker,” I say.

Rika shrugs. “I figure we’ll be able to say everything at lunch. It will be more dinnertime for us, about 5.”

“Want to see a movie in the city before then?”

Rike smiles. “That is a very good idea.”

We sit in silence for a moment. “Should you tell her or should I what you told my mother about grandkids?”

Did you know that a pillow can travel at supersonic speeds? Because I did not hear that coming.

------

“Mom likes to meet people at a cafe near her office. There is a movie theater about a block past it from the bus stop,” Rika tells me.

“Well then that is good. It means short stretches of movement, so you don’t overwork yourself.”

She nods. “Next stop is ours.”

“So, what movie do you want to see?” I ask her.

She bats my arm. “Now, you’re supposed to surprise me.”

Rika is smiling as we exit the bus and head in the theater’s direction. Half a block up, she points to a spot about 30 meters to our right..

“There is the cafe we will be meeting her in four hours...” Rika’s voice trails off as we approach, and I feel her hand tighten on mine.

“What is it…” my voice trails off as my gaze follows hers. At the cafe, the only customers in sight are a middle aged couple enjoying a meal at the cafe. They seem to be very flirtatious. “Everything alright?” I ask her.

She backs into me a bit, her eyes not leaving the couple. I can feel her whole body shaking as the man gets up, helps the woman stand, and gives her a very unseemly kiss. A very, very unseemly kiss. And his hands go… in public, do they have no shame? Once his exploration of the woman was finished, he departs.

“What is it?” I whisper to her.

At that moment the woman turns, sees us standing there, and freezes, the look of surprise on her face. I notice that she is a bit shorter an I am, has long, dark hair and is wearing a business suit. The woman manages to recover enough to talk quickly. “Rika? What are you doing here at this hour?”

Rika is just shaking her head saying to herself quietly, “No, no, no.”

The woman starts to walk in our direction rapidly, saying “Rika? I can explain…”

Suddenly the pressure on me vanishes, and Rika runs down the sidewalk away from the woman.

“Rika, wait!” both me and the woman say seemingly at once.

I rush after her. The woman is left behind quickly, seemingly in heels inappropriate for running. But by the end of the block, I’ve lost sight of Rika, and crane my head around to see if I can find her to no luck.

Out of breath, the woman catches up to me. “Did you see where she went?”

I shake my head. “No.”

She sounds upset. “This is not how I wanted this to go. Rika!” Clearly the woman is upset as well.

Now the woman looks at me, and directly notes me holding Rika’s parasol. I got a clear impression of being sized up. “You there, where did she go?”

I look back at her. “I don’t know. I lost sight of her.”

“And what was she doing here at this hour in the first place?” she asks sternly. “In her condition, extensive trips are not healthy!”

“We were going to see a movie before dinner, so it would only be a short distance for her. Who are you anyways?” I ask, meeting her gaze.

“Hana Katayama, Rika’s mother. And who might you be?”

I blink a moment before answering. “Hisao Nakai, her… boyfriend.”

Now it was her turn to blink. “She… she didn’t mention… nevermind. We need to find her before she hurts herself, or worse. Can you think of any place she might have gone?”

I shake my head. “No. We need to find her.”

---------

After we exchanged numbers, we split up to search. The first hour neither of us have any luck. We meet up in the cafe again to try and come up with some kind of plan.

“She would not go home,” Hana says. “Takeshi is there and would let me know if she shows up unannounced.”

I shudder at that, remembering my encounter with him last week.”

Hana notes that with a dry smile. “I see you’ve met my husband. He gives that reaction to everyone.”

“Where else in the city does she like to go?” I ask.

“I don’t know, honestly. Takeshi handles her care. He does not let me see her often,” Hana looks for a moment a bit sorrowful.

I wrack my brain, then get an idea. “How far away is the aquarium?”

Hana asks, “Why there?”

“We went there last week on a date.” I shrug. “It’s someplace she knows in the city.”

“A date…” Hana takes a moment to compose herself. “I must seem like a pitiful mother at this moment.”

“Self recriminations later, please Mrs. Katayama?” I ask. “I just want Rika safe.

She sighs, pulls out her phone, and checks the address.

“It’s about 8 kilometers,” she says. “But there’s a bus which runs there which stops not too far from here. We can take my car, it will get there faster.”

As I stand up, I look at Hana. “Mrs. Katayama, we will find her, I promise. Let’s go.”

--------

As we walk up to the aquarium, I notice Hana slowing down. “Anything the matter?”

Hana’s eyes are wide, staring at it. “I… I can’t… I’ll wait out here, in case…”

I look at her, then at the aquarium. “Alright, if I don’t find her, we’ll rendezvous here.

Hana makes a sign of relief, and sits down.

I head in. But, I don’t need to wander around, I know where Rika is.

I slowly walk up to the touch pool, and stand beside the puffy dressed girl kneeling next to the tank. In her hand, a starfish sits as she pets it.

“Hi,” I tell her.

“Hi,” she says back.

“Your mother is worried you know,” I say.

Rika closes up at that, and sets the starfish down, leaving her arm in the water limply.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but I do know that you deserve to hear it from her,” I tell her.

Rika just stares.

“We can stay here as long as you want, ok?”

Rika then just exhales, and leans into me. My arms go around her, and we just stay that way for awhile.

After 20 minutes she nods. “Let’s go.”

I help her up, then offer her my arm. “Do you want to talk to her now?”

Rika inhales deeply. “If I don’t, I may not be able to face her later.” She takes my arm, and we start to walk.

I smile. “You know, you’re breathing well, considering that you ran earlier.

She smiles back. “I guess I did. Must be your influence, and all the exercise over the past few days.”

I smile at this. “The nurse did say swimming is good exercise.”

“You can swim, I barely float.” Rika hangs her head slightly. “I’m sorry for making you worry.”

“I know you’re safe now, that’s all that matters,” I tell her.

Some distance away, Hana is sitting at a small table, her back to the aquarium.

“Mama, I’m sorry,” Rika says as we walk up.

Hana wipes away a tear. “No, I’m the one who needs to be sorry. I should have told you, a long time ago.”

Rika’s eyes go wide. “How long?”

Hana sighs. “16 years.”

Rika and myself just stand there, shocked by this.

Hana continues. “Your father knows, and approves. But, we kept that from you. Did not want the stigma of our arrangement to affect you.”

“What is your arrangement?” Rika asks.

Hana sighs. “Do you honestly want to know?”

“No, but now I need to know,” she says.

Hana nods. “Rika, your father’s accident happened just months before you were born. It took, well, that part of a marriage from him. So, he made arrangements, to fulfill that part in his place. On his schedule, with whom he chose. Today was a colleague, so it would help my career, or so Takeshi says.”

She wipes away a tear. “There are times he would watch, you know. Living vicariously through others he called it. I think he just likes to see me humiliated.”

“But why?” Rika asks.

She considers a moment. “What happened to him, I think he… was blaming himself, blaming me for…” She sobs, before recomposing herself. “For what happened to…”

Rika completes her thought. “To Rico?”

Hana nods.

“What did happen, mama?” Rika asks.

Hana takes a few breaths. “It was only a few seconds. There one minute, then, gone.” She manages to recompose herself. “We’d taken him to the pool for the first time. A family outing. I was pregnant with you. I started to feel a little ill, so I’d stood up for some air while Takeshi was playing with Riko in the splash pool. He turned to make sure I was alright. The whole thing….”

I could see Hana’s tears. “By the time we knew what had happened…” She takes a few breaths. “Less than 30 seconds, half a minute, all it took… his throat shut, he could not breathe. Severe anaphylaxis they called it. They never did find the cause.”

She breaths in deeply. “Then Takeshi’s accident. I think he blamed himself, and let that forklift… then you were born, like you were, pale and with the bad heart. He felt that we were being punished for what happened to Riko. He pushed me away, called me misfortune, and cursed.

“I don’t think he slept for months after you were born. He even banned even me from the hospital room when you were recovering from your surgeries.”

Hana looks up at me. “You’ve met him. Clearly you can see how controlling he is.”

I ask, “Why have you stayed with him?”

“Because, I do still love him. And, part of me does feel that I deserve it, for what happened.”

Rika considers this a moment. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Hana nods. “Because, that is what he wanted. And I could not, never could, hurt the two of you.”

Rika reaches out to hold Hana’s hand. “I know you wouldn’t.”

“But… one second.” She turns Rika’s hand over. “Your hand, it’s wet?”

Rika smiles. “I had my arm in the touch pool.”

Hana blinks at that. “But, Takeshi always said...”

“Father was wrong. I have been tested. I have no allergies, at all.” Rika looks positively pleased with herself.

Hana stumbles in her attempt to pull Rika into a hug. “Oh? Oh! Oh Rika! Really?”

Rika nods. “Really. Come, look at me.”

Hana blinks, then looks at her more closely. “Is that… you’re wearing makeup! And, a necklace?”

Rika nods. “Does nothing to me.”

Hana suddenly deflates. “So, all along…”

“It’s ok mama. You did the best you could,” Rika tells her. “The doctors made a bad assumption, that’s all, and father followed their instructions to the letter.”

Hana manages to recompose herself. “So, young lady… boyfriend?”

My face suddenly goes red.

“He may have met your father, but does he know that you two are together?”

Rika nods. “He met Hisao last week, in fact.”

Hana’s eyes widen. “And he was alright with this?”

Rika lets go of her mother then holds my hand as I put it on her shoulder. “He accepted it. That is good enough for me.”

“He certainly jumped to try and find you. And he knew where you were. That is someone worth keeping around,” Hana looks almost pleased at this. “Shall we start on dinner early then?”

Rika pauses, “One thing first. The reason I asked to meet you in the first place is because Hisao’s parents invited me to visit during summer break, and I wanted, no, needed to ask…”

Hana laughs. “After all this, you think I could deny you? And don’t worry about Takeshi. I’ll… think of something.”

Hana wipes away her eyes. “Now, I did promise you two a meal, so, let’s go so I can get better acquainted with Hisao.”

As we walk back to Hana’s car, Rika stays at my side, smiling to herself. It only now occurs to me that I’ve been dutifully holding her parasol for her since exiting the aquarium. Habits.
Last edited by Downix on Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:06 am

Huh, didn't he already reply to the letter in an earlier chapter?
And reading the reply I noticed that it almost sounds like "Don't worry about me, I'm surrounded by cute girls. I'm even dating one of them and she handled her confession WAY better than you did!" :-)
Also he adressed her as "Iwanko" instead of Iwanako.
...
And his mother is probably supposed to be Akira instead of "Aira"... ^^°

Rika's mother is nice, but I think it's a bit soon for Hisao to call her Hana like he does once or twice. Still after that phone call I look forward to Hisao's mother even more :-)

And Rika's father is now officially confirmed to be a dick, even if he doesn't have one anymore.
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: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:02 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:06 am
Huh, didn't he already reply to the letter in an earlier chapter?
And reading the reply I noticed that it almost sounds like "Don't worry about me, I'm surrounded by cute girls. I'm even dating one of them and she handled her confession WAY better than you did!" :-)
Also he adressed her as "Iwanko" instead of Iwanako.
He said he would, but was not ready yet. And yes, that actually is the idea that he is rubbing it in her face.

And damnit!
...
And his mother is probably supposed to be Akira instead of "Aira"... ^^°

Rika's mother is nice, but I think it's a bit soon for Hisao to call her Hana like he does once or twice. Still after that phone call I look forward to Hisao's mother even more :-)

And Rika's father is now officially confirmed to be a dick, even if he doesn't have one anymore.
Aira is an actual Japanese name, means "Of the Wind." I got it from Aira Yūki, who performed the closing theme to Space Battleship Yamato 2199.

You can hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVyodjM15uk

(I grew up watching Space Battleship Yamato, so it has a special place in my heart)

Just double checked, and he refers to her only as "Mrs. Katayama" or in her role as Rika's mother when discussing her directly.

As for Takeshi, sad part there is that I know many men like him.

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:55 pm

He uses Hana multiple times in his interiour monologue. Is he really already so familiar with her that he would do that?

As for Aira, when I checked earlier I found it as a native american name and as a nordic one. Looking further down the google results I have now also found a Japanese one, but it's apparently quite uncommon. My mistake then.
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: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:01 am

Ok, funny bit, I ran across a Hanako fanfiction called "Meet the Nakais" where they also used the name Aira for Hisao's mother as well. In deference to that, I'll use the name they had for his father as well, Senzo. Sounds better than that I'd picked out (which was Itsuki incidentally)

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Rika_Act4.png
Rika_Act4.png (297.01 KiB) Viewed 495 times
Act 4: Broken Glass


Which Dreamed It?

And with the passing forward of a sheet of paper, that is it. Exams are finished. I get to breathe a sigh of relief, as now I will no longer be getting regular pestering for help on the science and math exams. Not that I mind helping people, but there is such a thing as too much. And in return, I got some help in studying for my English and history exams.

As annoying as it was, once the exams were over, it dawns on me that I would miss helping people. What I discovered while tutoring people is that I actually really enjoyed doing it. Even Misha.

The bell’s ring only puts into motion what has been waiting in tension for the past few minutes. Quickly, the room empties, save for one desk. I look over at Suzu and see that she’s moving very slowly. I look to the front, and even Mutou has apparently departed. Or perfected invisibility.

I walk over and kneel down next to Suzu, laying on the desk and moving slowly.

“Need a hand?” I ask her.

Suzu focuses on me, just realizing I was there. “I can… I can…” Her eyelids look like they have lead weights on them.

I sigh, then start loading her books into her bag for her.

I look around, and realize why this is strange to me. No sight of Miki anywhere.

“Huh,” I say to noone in particular. Then I look back to Suzu. She is out like a light.

“Well, I can’t just leave you here. How hard can this be when Miki does it one handed?”

Within moments of lifting Suzu, it becomes clear how bad of an idea this was. It’s not that she weighs much. It is in the difficulty in moving a limp body.

“Remind me never to get into the serial killer industry,” I joke to myself.

I slowly set her back down in her chair. “That was a bad idea. Ok, then the next best thing I can do.”

I once more take off my jacket, fold it, and slide it under Suzu’s head.

Then I sit in the desk next to hers, can’t ever remember the guy’s name, and take out a book to read while I stay to make sure she’s alright.

I feel bad that I cannot remember the guy’s name. I look around, and mentally go over the desks in the room.

I start talking to myself. “Right there is… Kapur. And, on the other side of Miki is… is… it’s not Konami, but that’s the name which got stuck in my head. Wait, it’s Komaki! OK. And at the end is… Suzumiya. Ok, I do know this row. Now, there’s me, Misha, Shizune, that jerk Maeda, the empty desk, but I swear it had a kid when I first arrived at class, or was it a different kid, and the photography club girl… um… Kawana. And last row we have Arai, Tainaka, Hayashi, Hanako, Naomi and Natsume.”

I feel proud of myself. Then it strikes me that most of them are little more than family names with basic mental descriptions like “has a cane” or “can’t move their arm.” I sigh. I really don’t know my classmates very well, do I? What will it be like in 8 months, or a year?

After about 20 minutes, I hear Rika’s voice from the doorway. “You’re still in here?”

I point a thumb at Suzu. “Did not want to leave her alone like this. I didn’t know where Miki got off to.”

Rika smiles. “So thoughtful. I was looking for you to see about an early dinner. But, considering the circumstance, I’ll join you here instead.”

“Nah, you don’t need to sit here and wait.”

“Nonsense. It is only polite.” She sits down in Miki’s desk, opposite me from Suzu.

“Ready for this weekend?” I ask her.

“Nervous,” she tells me. “Not only is this the longest trip I’ve ever taken, but I’m meeting your parents.”

“Well, my mother already likes you,” I tell her. “You should have heard when I talked to her on Monday.”

“Oh?” Rika asks, lowering her eyes in a flirtatious manner. “So she’s not worried about the poor albino seducing her son into wickedness?”

Hisao then pauses. “Come to think of it, I never mentioned that to her. It’s just so normal for me now, I don’t think about it.”

Rika then closes her mouth and twists it as if deep in thought. “So, does that mean you will forget about our hearts as well?”

I shake my head. “Can’t. Whenever I do, this reminds me.” I tap my chest with the palm of my hand.

She smiles. It is such a beautiful sight. “So, how shall we celebrate the end of exams?”

I ponder a moment. “I’m certain we can find something.”

“Get a… room…” comes Suzu’s sleepy voice between us.

“Good morning sunshine,” I tell her. I give her a few minutes to get her bearings before talking again. “Miki wasn’t here, and I can’t carry you, so I made sure you were comfortable.”

Suzu’s face goes cold for a moment. “Well, no surprise there.” She sits up, with a foul mood written across her face.

“Did something happen?” I ask her.

Suzu’s eyes blaze for a moment, then she deflates. “It’s not important.”

Rika says, “It clearly is for you to be so worked up about it.”

“It’s just… we were supposed to go together for break. Now, she’s not,” Suzu says in a very sad manner.

“Did she give any reason why?” I ask her.

Suzu shrugs. “Don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Well, we’re here for you,” I tell her.

Rika nods with that.

Suzu sighs. “I must look pathetic.”

I shake my head. “No, you look fine. Rika and I were about to get dinner, want to join us? No need to talk, just some company I figure.”

She shrugs. “I guess.”

Rika and I both get up.

Suzu looks at her bag. “Did you pack my bag for me too?”

I nod. “Yeah, well, I intended to carry you, but…” I thump my chest lightly for emphasis. “Sorry.”

Her eyes go wide. “You should not…” she takes a deep breath and closes her eyes to calm down. “I mean, I’m not…”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” I tell her. “I did a test lift, and it was clear I was not up for it. So, I stayed with you instead. Now, come on before the good bread’s all gone.”

Rika puts a hand on Suzu’s arm. “Come on, you’ve had a hard day. Let’s get going.”

Suzu closes her eyes and nods, shuffling behind us.

---------

We eventually get Suzu to the cafeteria and I fetch food for us. When I get back to the table, Rika is just holding Suzu, who is leaning on her shoulder, asleep.

“Well, I can confirm that you are a good pillow,” I tell her.

Rika for her part just chuckles.

“Wonder why Miki isn’t going with her,” Rika says.

I shrug. “Could be anything. Best not to guess. But, where is Miki anyways?”

“Asshole,” murmurs Suzu.

Rika chuckles. “Snoozu at it again.”

“That is a terrible nickname,” I tell her.

She shrugs. “First heard her brother use it when I first met them last year.”

“Brother? I didn’t know she has a brother.”

Rika nods. “I didn’t know till I met them that Narcolepsy ran in families. Was hard on her when his accident happened.”

I blink.

Rika ponders a moment. “I don’t know what happened, I just know it was one of the funerals we had last year”

“One of?”

She nods. “Yamaku has people who can die at a moments notice, through accidents or as a result of their condition. Last year we had three funerals in total. It’s always sad when it happens, but it reminds us all that we are still alive.”

She sighs a bit. “Mortality is something that everybody has to live with sooner or later. It’s just a bit more obvious here, that’s all. I mean, I will likely not live to be 30. The oldest person with my particular condition is only 35.”

And that hit me like a load of bricks. “I… didn’t know.”

Rika continues. “While you could live into your 60’s.”

I look at her, a bit stunned.

She waves her free hand. “I did a little homework on your condition. I hope that is alright. I want you to be happy. My heart could give out tomorrow, next week, or 10 years from now. But, until that happens, life is too short to worry.”

She then puts her free hand on mine. “Does it bother you that much?”

I nod. “A bit. I just… enjoy you being here. I don’t want to think about…”

“Hey,” she interrupts me. “I’m right here, and barring an accident, I’m not going anywhere for now. And accidents can happen to anyone.”

I sigh a bit, then sit back, closing my eyes to process this a bit.

Rika, dead by 30, while I could live to be double that? I now feel very sheepish for my first feelings about my heart. And Rika, I don’t want to imagine losing her.

“There you are,” a familiar voice appears from behind me.

I look back, saying “Hey Miki. Don’t worry, kept her safe.”

Miki does not have her usual happy face today. “Did she tell you?”

Rika answers. “She only said you weren’t going with her for summer break. That’s all.”

Miki sighs, looking deflated, taking the seat next to Suzu. “It’s her mom. She really doesn’t like me. I mean, really doesn’t like me being with Suzu. And my dad asked me to come home. It… it would be easier.”

I give Miki a level look. “You? Easy? You willingly race against the fastest thing on no legs. You date a narcoleptic while having only one hand to lift them with. Miki, let’s be frank, easy and you don’t go together, at all.”

Miki flashes her usual smile. “I guess so. I just… I know it’ll be hard on her, and…”

“And being away from you won’t be?” Rika says. “I don’t know about you, but I want to spend every moment I can with Hisao here.”

Miki’s smile actually grows at that. “Well, he is cute, but I’m taken.”

“Damn right,” murmured Suzu.

Rika looks at the girl leaning on her arm molified. “How long have you been awake?”

“Long enough to tell you that I hate that nickname,” Suzu replies.

Miki laughs at that. “What? Did Rika call you Snoozu?”

Suzu slowly sits up, and nods. “And she talked about…” She sighs. “I don’t want to fight Miki.”

Miki’s face gets somber. “Me either. I just… your mother…”

“What about your father?” Suzu asks.

“But it’s the country, and I know how much you don’t like farming,” Miki says.

Suzu holds Miki’s hand. “If it’s with you, I’ll be fine, ok?”

I nod to Rika, she returns the nod, and we both silently get up and slip away while they talk.

Rika leans against my arm as we walk to our dorms. “Does it bother you to know I won’t live as long as you?”

I sigh. “A bit, yeah. I guess this explains why you’re so forward with my mother about kids.” I flash her a smile.

Rika chuckles to herself. “When you know you have an expiration date, you want to aim for living as much as you can before you reach it. In my class we have one girl who has a terminal disorder. She has given into despair, and I swear she has slept with half of the second and third years, and at least two teachers I know of, in her quest for nihilistic oblivion.

“That is why I worry about your health… why I want you to get yourself into better shape physically. It feels like… I’ve won if you live.” She smiles sadly at this.

I cannot help but smile slightly. “You certainly seem to like winning.”

“I’ve won the best prize of all. I have you,” she says, just as she kisses me gently on the lips. Then her smile slips a bit. “Do you regret getting involved with someone who you can’t grow old together with?”

I shake my head. “Hey now! You’ll be leaving me with 4 kids to raise on my own, I won’t have time for regrets, will I?”

I joke, to try and hide the pain I feel inside. For just a brief moment, I remember my own feelings when I came to Yamaku, of being sent here to die. Then I look at Rika, and think to myself, instead of dying I came here to live, didn’t I?

For her part, she laughs. Then she stops, turns to me, and puts a hand on my cheek. “Before I met you, I felt… I can’t even describe it. Afraid. I was alone. I would go to school, university, and maybe get in 2-3 years of a career before I was gone, having left nothing of substance behind. But now, I have you. I am not alone. And if what little time I have allows you to live a full life, then I have left something wonderful behind, for I have you.”

“This subject could be rather depressing. Perhaps we should pick another one,” I suggest.

“Ok,” Rika says, returning to walking. “So, what should we name a boy?”

I groan. “My mother is just going to love you.”

Rika just walks on, smiling her own little ways, while saying quietly to herself, “I won.”

--------

It is impossible to see Rika’s eyes clearly behind those sunglasses of hers, but I am familiar enough to recognize when she is afraid of something. And seeing her eyes now, I saw the terror in them. The terror of the train pulling into the station.

“Rika, have you ever been on a train before?” I ask her.

Not moving more than the minimum of muscles, she shakes her head no.

“I’m here, alright? It’s just like riding the bus, but with meal service available, and air conditioning that works.” I crack a smile to try and cheer her up.

“Just… be here, ok?” Her language is rather stilted.

As the doors opened, and the pleasant voice announced arrival and departure, we stepped on. I let Rika go first, and rather enjoyed how she daintily stepped onboard. Very cautiously is how I would describe it.

It takes moments to reach a pair of seats where we could enjoy ourselves. She studies the window, then looks over the lighting, before taking off her glasses. “Not too bad it seems.” She settles in, then turns to me. “Did you ever tell your mother about… my condition?”

“I haven’t gotten a chance to. She’s been too busy to talk to. Not abnormal for her, sadly.”

Rika sighs. “So the first time she sees me…”

I hold her hand. “It will be fine. You’re beautiful, as you are.”

She sighs. “I don’t look normal. My skin is pale, my hair white. I can’t even look at people properly without special contact lenses. I’ve seen the reactions. I just… I’m afraid of a bad first impression.”

“You will do fine, trust me,” I tell her. “After all, can it be any worse than how I met your mother?”

Rika gives me a flat look, just before breaking out in a laugh. “No, no I suppose not.”

“And I suppose I do have some news for her,” Rika says after a moment.

I nod. “Certainly, learning that you can, in fact, have children, would do wonders for her temperament.”

“You should have seen the nurse when I asked,” Rika says, smiling slightly.

“Wiped that grin right off his face, didn’t you?”

“Worth every moment,” Rika says with a satisfied look on her face.

The train ride descends into comfortable silence. The 2 hours, 33 minutes pass without the need for conversation.

When we pull into the station, I check, and Rika is snoozing comfortably on my arm. It takes a few shakes to wake her. “We’re here.”

Through bleary eyes, and looks around, then sighs. “Need to…” she yawns. “Right.” Her brain is clearly still asleep. But, she puts on her sunglasses, and stands there, waiting for me.

I smile, and fall back into our habit. It then strikes me how light we are traveling. One suitcase for each of us, and mine is so small I’ve strapped it to her rolling case.

I take a moment to look over this doll I am traveling with, and doll is right. She clearly wants to be as presentable as possible, so has dressed herself in what she views as her best outfit. This one is a teal dress of the same cut she prefers.

Exiting the train, the platform is full, but not packed like it is during the week. It gives me a chance to look around, and sigh. The noise, the air, it all feels alien to me now.

Rika notices my tension and kisses me on the cheek. “Come, what’s the matter?”

“It feels wrong. I guess Yamaku’s rubbed off on me. It’s too loud, too busy. I am already missing the quiet.”

She smiles. “Well, we will have quiet soon enough, won’t we?”

I shrug. “In the city? Doubt it.”

She laughs at that.

We both scan the crowd for my parents.

“Is that them?” Rika asks.

I look, and nod. “Well, yes, but how did you know?”

She looks at me, then down at my sweater vest, lays a hand on it and says, with a sweet smile, “Your father is wearing a sweater vest as well, and it’s boiling hot out here. Neither of you with any common sense.”

“You are the one standing here with petticoats in this heat,” I joke back at her.

She smiles. “But a girl must suffer for fashion, don’t you know that?”

I wave and direct us in their direction.

They look… much the same as ever. Neither one particularly tall, merely average. Father is slightly balding, a bit heavier than he should be, with a pleasant smile on his face. My mother however is smiling a bit wider than normal once she sees us… oh dear. Both of them do the quick one over glance, and for a brief moment I notice something odd in my mother’s look, but she quickly hides it.

Once at the proper distance Rika and I both bow as I do introductions. “Mother, father, this is Rika Katayama. Rika, my parents, Aira and Senzo Nakai.”

“It is an honor to meet you,” Rika says, still bowed respectfully.

“Oh come now, up, up! Hicchan, I have missed you,” my mother says as she gives me a hug, then turns to Rika. “And you my dear, as lovely as a lotus. But you both must be tired. Come and let us return home.”

As lovely as a … oh dear, my mother is up to something to be using that language. It’s never good when she talks like that.
Last edited by Downix on Tue May 15, 2018 2:17 am, edited 3 times in total.

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:57 am

Rika ponders a moment. “Imagine if one of her sleep episodes happened at just the wrong moment. Fall out a window, don’t move out of the way of a car, that kind of thing. I don’t know what happened, I just know it was one of the funerals we had last year”
No, that's not how Narcolepsy works.
With the search function broken I can't find them on short notice, but there should be a few posts by ProfAllister or myself explaining in deatil - or you could consult wikipedia.
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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