Yet another one-shot thread

WORDS WORDS WORDS
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Scroff
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Re: Collection due

Post by Scroff » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:09 pm

calcifer wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:37 am
This was a funny one!
Thanks! Is it shameful to admit that I was chuckling as I finished my last read-through before posting?
Poor, poor Hisao :)
Hopefully it was a case of stage-fright rather than a genuine fatality :lol:
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:11 pm
NIce twist at the end. Didn't see that one coming.
Thanks! I wrote the end both ways and the I liked the one I posted much better.
Comes at the price of Rin being a bit ooc, but who cares :-)
Desperation will do that to a girl!

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calcifer
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Re: Collection due

Post by calcifer » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:51 pm

Scroff wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:09 pm
Is it shameful to admit that I was chuckling as I finished my last read-through before posting?
Not at all! If anything, being able to put a genuine smile on the reader's face is an accomplishment!
Shizune = Rin > Emi > Hanako > Lilly
FluffandCrunch wrote: Every day is a gift, every hour is golden, every minute is a diamond. Life is wonderful, if you have the courage to live it.

PKMNthiefChris
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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by PKMNthiefChris » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:57 pm

Now I just have this as how Hisao gets on Miki's route
Insist I don't think it'll be on a test
>Explain String Theory to Miki

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Scroff
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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by Scroff » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:34 am

PKMNthiefChris wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:57 pm
Now I just have this as how Hisao gets on Miki's route
Insist I don't think it'll be on a test
>Explain String Theory to Miki
I heard that she only wants him for his brain :shock:

PKMNthiefChris
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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by PKMNthiefChris » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:02 am

Scroff wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:34 am
PKMNthiefChris wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:57 pm
Now I just have this as how Hisao gets on Miki's route
Insist I don't think it'll be on a test
>Explain String Theory to Miki
I heard that she only wants him for his brain :shock:
Nah she has a thing for nerdy boys that change her perception of reality with things other than their dick, she just hasn't had the chance to experience it till now.

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Scroff
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Consider this an intervention!

Post by Scroff » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:32 am

Hisao concentrates on his lunch, tucked into a comfortable corner of the cafeteria where he can indulge in some people-watching. Or, more accurately, people-ignoring. Integration is proving to be a difficult process, so much so that it would be better to call it a process of dis-integration.

"What are you doing sitting here Nakai?" asks Natsume.

"Eating."

"We can see that!" chimes in Naomi with a roll of her eyes. "She means what are you doing sitting here alone?"

"Its quite full in here." He flushes when confronted by their sceptical scoffs; the cafeteria is quiet even for a Saturday and they all can see dozens of empty seats. "What? Its not like anyone has come to sit next to me either."

"Why do you think that is Nakai?" Natsume doesn't give him a chance to reply. "You can't keep all those emergency trips to Nurse secret in a place like this. Ain't nobody got time for someone who'll be dead inside a week."

Hisao reacts angrily. "W-what gives you the right to barge over here and..."

"Oh shut up." Naomi strikes a pose, one hand on hip, index finger on the other pointing straight up to the ceiling. "Consider this an intervention!" With this she plops down in the seat opposite Hisao, who is starting to stand up to escape his tormentors.

"She means shut up and sit down." He subsides under Natsume's mismatched glare. "Actually this is probably going to get messy. We should relocate." The girls exchange glances and nod. "Can we trust you not to cut and run?"

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't?"

"Do you want to die a virgin?" Naomi giggles.

"Naomi!" Natsume glowers at her flighty friend. "That wasn't an offer by the way."

"Whatever. If it'll get you off my back..."

"Great!" Naomi jumps up and beckons to Hisao. "Come on, you'll need to pick up a couple of things from your room."

"Wait, what? Why?"

"Just in case Nakai. Its up to you how long this'll take."

The girls trail behind Hisao as he leads them to his room, planning next month's issue of the newspaper while watching for signs that he's about to escape. More glances are exchanged once they finish looking around his featureless room.

"Change into something warm and comfy and I'll grab these." Naomi moves towards the night stand and starts scooping the pill bottles into her bag. "Nakai, they've barely been touched! Have you been forgetting your meds?"

"Not exactly," he replies sheepishly.

"Come on, change!" Natsume chides.

"No peeking."

"Don't flatter yourself." Naomi packs the last bottle and elbows Natsume who is staring at Hisao's back as he dresses.

***

As they walk to the newspaper club's room after visiting the girls' rooms, Hisao wonders how they managed to pack so much of their personality into the decoration of their rooms. He can't help but notice the contrast between his drab unbranded clothes and their trendier choices.

"We put the last edition to bed on Wednesday so none of the others will come by till Monday at the earliest," Natsume notes.

"Welcome to our domain!" Naomi says proudly as she unlocks the door.

Hisao takes in a pair of comfortable couches arranged around a low coffee table in the centre of the room. A table bearing a kettle and microwave oven stands against one wall, flanked by storage cupboards on one side and a sink on the other. A waste bin and fridge sitting under the table complete the fittings.

"Everything we need for editorial meetings and all-night brainstorming sessions," Naomi says with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Social lubricant!" Natsume announces, setting a large plastic pouch and some glasses onto the coffee table.

"Is that pre-mixed strawberry daiquiri?"

"It may not be the booze you want Nakai, but it's the booze you need." Naomi fills a glass with the crimson cocktail, digs straws and cocktail parasols out of a cupboard, and sits down in the middle of the larger couch. She starts unpacking her bag full of medicines onto the coffee table, drawing Natsume's attention to a small bottle and dropper that she sets aside from the others.

"Those are not all mine..." Hisao starts.

"You're not the only one who needs the contents of a small pharmacy to function. C'mon, eat up!" The girls match actions to words and Hisao reluctantly follows suit; he can't remember the last time he forced himself to take his pills.

"You didn't drag me all this way just to make sure I took my meds. What's this all about anyway?"

"It's obvious to us that you're not settling in well Nakai, and like I said those trips to Nurse haven't gone unnoticed. We're here because you need to talk and you need to listen. Naomi and I are willing to be completely, brutally honest about our conditions and want you to do the same. Its going to be difficult for all of us and we don't expect you to go first, but you have to promise that you will participate fully. There's no point even starting otherwise."

Hisao frowns, "After all that fuss in the cafeteria you're saying I can just walk out of here if I won't play along? Tell me why you're doing this."

"Why are we prepared to open up to you? Because we think it might help you to hear what we've got to say. We think that you need to so you can start accepting why you're here. Why do we want to help?" Natsume hesitates for a moment. "You missed the principal's start of year address. We've heard three different versions now, but he always ends with: 'You are not alone, and you are not strange. You are you, and everyone has damage.' We want to help you learn the truth of these words."

"OK. I don't agree that I'm in as much trouble you seem to think I am but I could do with making some changes. I promise I'll participate fully." He is surprised to see the look of relief on the girls' faces.

"Final things before we get started: this isn't a pity party. No wallowing in your own misery, no lies or over exaggerations, no missing out stuff because you think it's embarrassing or makes you look bad. Questions are fine but judgemental bullshit isn't. And I will end you if I see even a hint of pity on your face. I've had enough of that to last a lifetime," Naomi glowers at him. "Expressions of empathy and solidarity are acceptable." At Hisao's nod of agreement, Naomi gulps down her drink and pours another.

"I'm at Yamaku because of my severe epilepsy. I have been having seizures for as long as I can remember. One minute I'd be fine and then I'd be coming round with a gap in my day. I used to have hair like Hanako's but I'd thrash around so much when having a seizure that my parents were scared I'd strangle myself and got it cut short. I think they just got tired of brushing the knots out. I don't hate this look," she runs a hand through her spiky blonde locks, "but I wish it had been my choice rather than a convenience forced upon me."

"Usually a seizure will leave me with some muscle soreness or minor bruising, confused for a while, maybe a headache. I might injure myself if I bash against something." She leans forward, parting her hair to show Nakai a scar on her scalp. "Occasionally I'll lose control of my bladder which is mortifying." Seeing Hisao's shocked look, Naomi says sharply, "as hard as this might be to listen to, it's ten times harder to say and a hundred times harder to live!" He nods an apology and decides to grab a glass of daiquiri after all.

"Now you're going to learn how to help me when I have a seizure. Don't look surprised, it's not rocket surgery," she giggles. "You do want to help don't you?" Hisao nods.

"Great! When I'm having a seizure just do what you can to stop me hurting myself. Don't hold me down or anything stupid like that, try to clear a space around me and maybe put something soft under my head if you can. I mean it's normal for a gentleman to offer his jacket to a lady right?" She is pleased to hear a quiet chuckle from the other couch.

"Try and time how long the seizure has lasted. They're usually over quickly but if it's gone on for five minutes or more, call a professional. If you can do it safely, put a couple of drops of this between my gums and cheek." Naomi shows him the small bottle that she'd set aside earlier. "It's called midazolam and I always keep it with me. Don't forget to tell whoever you called in that you've given me some so I don't get a double dose! But to reassure you, I've never had a seizure that lasted more than a couple of minutes. Otherwise all you need to do is sit with me and talk calmly, help me relax. You'll know it's all over when I remember your name and start asking for chocolate!"

"I-I can do that." Natsume has been watching Hisao's reactions as Naomi describes what he can do to help and she's pleased to see some resolve and determination on his face. It seems to her that a little of his uncertainty has been defeated by the simple knowledge he's gained. "Impact statement Naomi?" she prompts.

"My epilepsy didn't have a big impact when I was little. Yeah I've got a pretty severe case but the docs found what meds worked and my mum watched out for me. It was a bit awkward at school and I didn't have close friends, not helped when some little shit spread rumours about my seizures being caused by evil spirits that possessed me. But it was OK."

"Things got a lot more complicated when I hit puberty," she chooses to ignore the embarrassed shuffling from across the coffee table. "Irregular periods, mood swings causing more frequent seizures, interactions between my meds and the birth control pills that I started taking to make my periods more regular. My grades took a real hit and for the first time I thought about how I'd make a living. Still working on that," she grimaces.

"And of course I wanted to start hanging out with other kids. My mum is awesome but you can't stay tied to those apron strings all your life. She was pretty good about giving me some freedom but it was like having to fill out a risk assessment any time I wanted to leave the house without her! I'm sure you can imagine the sorts of things I need to be careful of."

"Do you get any notice of a seizure?"

"Yeah there's a couple of early warning signs I've come to recognise, like a weird smell or lights in the back of my head. I can't really explain it but yeah a bit of notice, maybe up to a minute."

She can see Nakai running through possibilities. "That actually makes things easier. I was wondering what I'd do if you had a seizure while we're crossing the road, but it sounds like we'd have time to get to the other side."

"Right! As long as I'm with someone who's clued in I can actually do a lot of stuff. Dating, on the other hand, really sets my mum off. She's convinced that any boy who catches me in the middle of a seizure will be unable to stop himself from molesting me." She giggles, "Suzu's mum's just the same apparently."

"And then I became an aunty." Hisao isn't sure why this memory would cause tears to appear in Naomi's eyes "Kazue's such a precious bundle, I'd never hurt her, but my sister-in-law wouldn't let me hold her." Natsume's arm around her shoulders is welcome if not unexpected, but she is surprised to see Hisao perched next to her and shyly reaching for her hand. She is glad to see anger rather than pity on his face.

"Oh I understand where she's coming from but that doesn't stop it hurting. Still, seeing the three of them together made me realise that I would like to be a mother some day. But the more I think about it and the more I read about it, the more impossible it seems. Even if I don't miscarry during a seizure, there's so many other things that could go wrong when I'm bathing her or feeding her or... what if I give her my epilepsy?" she sobs, tears running down her face and Hisao's hand locked in a death-grip.

"Life finds a way Naomi," Natsume says softly, stroking her hair. "We've read enough success stories on that website to know it's absolutely possible for you to be an awesome mum."

Naomi flashes a cheeky grin through her tears, "anyway before I can have a baby I've got to get pregnant. And that means having sex." She shudders. "Its not like I don't want to," she laughs at the look on Hisao's face. "Too many surprises for one day? It's not much of a secret that girls like sex too, but we've got to be feeling right for it to happen. I have experimental evidence that I'm in full working order..."

"I think you broke him Naomi," Natsume says in amusement, looking at Hisao as he slinks back to the other couch and tries to hide his face behind a glass of daiquiri. "Don't boys talk about this stuff?"

"Not like this," he mumbles.

"Like I was saying, I have extensive evidence that I'm fully functional," Naomi giggles as she waves an apology to Hisao, "but I'm hung up over having a seizure in the heat of battle as it were. Knowing my luck I'd totally lose control and pee all over the place. How would I ever face him again? Or her?"

Its Natsume's turn to be surprised. "I sometimes think it'd be easier with a girl, boys are so alien," Naomi continues. "But it's not like I'm overcome with lust at the sight of you Nat. Or him for that matter. I guess it's more about finding the right person and less about what plumbing they have. Not that there's anything wrong with either of you two. I'll shut up now," she finishes sheepishly.

"Trust!" Hisao blurts out. At the girls' puzzled looks he clarifies, "if there's enough trust between you and your partner it'd be OK right?"

"I... I think so. Maybe. Probably. But it takes time to build that sort of trust and we live in an instant gratification society. Hmm," Naomi gazes into the distance, deep in thought.

"Focus up Naomi! Care and maintenance, and long term prospects?"

"Care and maintenance is pretty easy; just take my meds and keep talking to my docs about how I'm doing, any side effects or if I'm having more seizures than usual. Keep buddying up to reduce the chances of having a seizure when I'm alone. I should be doing some weight bearing exercise cos my meds can make my bones weak, but its not a big issue right now." She catches Natsume's disapproving look. "What? It's not like you can join me in the Body Pump class, and anyway I'm happy swimming with you in the mornings."

"It's OK for us to do different thing sometimes!"

"Yeah but you know how I worry about you when I'm not around, and you deal with my seizures so well. Alright, alright don't look at me like that. I'll think about it OK. Long term prospects are pretty good. There's a tiny chance that I'll just drop dead in the middle of a seizure, but its so tiny that its not worth thinking about. My consultant said that there's very little difference in the average life expectancies of someone with epilepsy and anyone else. But when I asked him about standard deviations and whether lifespans were normally distributed or skewed somehow he didn't have an answer and looked at me funny. I don't think he expected a dizzy blonde to come out with stuff like that," she said bitterly. "Anyway that's me done. All that talking has made me hungry, anyone else?"

Natsume checks her watch. "Yeah its time to grab something to eat, and to be honest I need a break before I start. That was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster Naomi! We should have some microwave meals and instant noodles left over from the last layout meeting."

"Leave it to me. My parents were never around in the evenings so I became the Morimito of the microwave, the Kurihara of the kettle!"

Natsume looks sceptical but Naomi lays a hand on her arm. "Great! Knock our socks off Nakai." She continues more softly, "how do you think it's going?"

"You were very brave, had me in tears a few times."

"Thanks but that's not what I mean. He's coming out of himself a little, less broody."

"That doesn't mean what you think it does," Natsume snorts, "but yeah I wouldn't say he's got a spring in his step yet but at least he's not on his knees. I hope we've got to him in time; he's not taking care of himself at all, you could play his ribs like a xylophone."

"So you were staring at him changing for research purposes eh?" Naomi laughs at Natsume's blush. "Wasn't his room awful? I could totally imagine him pulling an Armstrong in there every night, just waiting for the alarm clock to reboot him in time for classes."

Natsume shudders. "Still, he was paying attention to what you were saying and thinking about it. Some of the stuff he came out with was pretty smart."

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Scroff
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Consider this an intervention! (continued)

Post by Scroff » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:43 am

Natsume is surprised when Hisao puts a tray of steaming food down on the coffee table, not realising that she had been chatting with Naomi so long. "That was quick! And it looks, err, fancy." She laughs at the cocktail parasols he has used to decorate their meals. "Thank you Hisao."

He looks up, surprised. "You're welcome Natsume, Naomi."

"Hisao, can I ask," Natsume begins, "what changed this last few weeks? You seem much more withdrawn now than when you transferred in."

"Everything just became... impossible. Running with Emi reminds me of what I used to be and will never be again. It was OK at the start because I expected to be unfit, but I didn't improve at all. I can't understand Rin and she can't understand me, it's got to the point that we're upsetting each other. Shizune has become more and more demanding and trying to keep up with her is killing me. Hanako's sweet but I spend most of my time around her wondering how I'm going to set her off this time. And I can never live up to Lilly, she's too perfect, you could dash yourself to pieces against her."

"Have you talked to any of them about how you feel?"

"It's better to let them get on with their lives without me dragging them dow..."

"Oi!" Naomi interjects, "what did I say about this not being a pity party?"

Natsume breaks the awkward silence, "Hisao, thank you for the food and thank you for answering my question. Its my turn now, though I don't think I have as much to say as Naomi did. I am at Yamaku for chronic rheumatoid arthritis which I seem to have contracted thirty years too early." Seeing Hisao looking puzzled she says, "it's mostly middle aged women that come down with it but for some reason Mother Nature was in a hurry when it came to me, and for extra laughs she decided to make this one half blind." She points to her right eye.

"In many ways my damage is the opposite of Naomi's. She can go long periods of time with no issues then bam! she's gone, but she's back again real quick. I'm in discomfort every waking minute, it's always there, sometimes better sometimes worse, but always there."

"Don't you have painkillers?"

"Do you know what a progressive disease is Hisao?" Seeing understanding coming into his eyes, Natsume continues. "Yeah, this is as healthy as I'll ever be and they're not giving me much in the way of pain relief yet, I'll need all they can throw at me by the end. To be fair it's not that bad right now, I've got used to tuning out the pain most of the time. There's lots of little adjustments I've made too, like getting this haircut instead of standard issue long hair down to the waist. I couldn't brush it properly when I had a flare up."

"How do you mean?"

"Sometimes my symptoms will get worse for a few days, more pain, more swelling. It's like a taste of what's to come, a glimpse of how my arthritis is going to progress. I'm always thankful when it calms down again but I know one day it won't."

Hisao grimaces as he thinks about what she hasn't said. "What causes them?"

Natsume shakes her head, "I've never really thought about it. I guess its just random."

"My mum kept a food diary when she started getting allergies, maybe you could do something similar..."

"Nice one Hisao! Why didn't you think of that Nat?"

"I guess it's worth a try, I'd certainly be happy to have fewer episodes."

"Great! I'll help you look for patterns."

"You're such a stats-nerd," Natsume says affectionately. "Anyway, I should be talking about the impact it has on me. Honestly there's not a big physical impact right now, outside of flare ups. Yes I'm in pain and yes I'm not exactly light on my feet and I might get a little cranky at the end of a long day..."

"'Cranky' like a sun bear!"

"Hush you! Its different when I'm having a flare up, much more pain, much less mobility. When it affects my hands I really struggle. Dressing takes ages and forget about using chopsticks, even a spoon gives me trouble. Honestly Naomi, I can't say how much of a help and a comfort you are and I'm sorry for the times I snap at you or take you for granted."

"Hey, friends right? Partners. You take care of me too."

Natsume notes the wistful look on Hisao's face as she moves on. "While the physical effects are manageable right now, I... struggle with the emotional side. I know what the future holds, how I'll end up, and it terrifies me. I already hate how the arthritis makes my joints looks," she holds out her hands for Hisao to see, "and it's only going to get worse. Its not that I'm vain but when people concentrate on my hands or my eyes it really throws me you know? Like all I am is my damage."

Hisao nods in understanding, touching the scar hidden under his clothes.

"Constant discomfort, body image issues and a dread of my future means that I can get pretty low. There are times when the mental energy needed just to get out of bed is overwhelming, particularly when I can blame my aching joints for not even trying. Honestly it's more debilitating than the physical effects."

"So how do you deal with it?" Hisao asks, hoping for a solution that he can adopt.

"She doesn't," Naomi interjects crossly. "She shuts people out--she shuts me out--and tries to go it alone. I wish she'd talk to me when she's down."

"Or me," Hisao joins in, "I-I have similar thoughts and feelings. Maybe we can help each other."

"This is supposed to be an intervention for your benefit Hisao!" Throwing up her hands, Natsume continues, "but point taken. I can't promise to seek you out when I'm in a funk but I'll do my best not to shut myself away. Good enough?"

In response to their nods Natsume continues, "OK final stretch. Care and maintenance is pretty easy; take my meds, do my low impact exercise, keep my weight down to reduce stress on my joints-"

"Like your girls skinny do you Hisao?" Naomi chirps, seeing him look Natsume up and down as she talks about her weight.

"What, no, it's just she was saying..."

"-and from now on, talk to my friends when I feel bad. If I have any friends left after this." Natsume glares at Naomi as she rolls around on the couch, giggling. "I can look forward to a normal life-span, meaning I get to enjoy many years of being a gnarled husk in extreme pain, confined to a wheelchair, alone because no-one can put up with my foul temper."

Hisao looks shocked at the bitterness in Natsume's voice, but Naomi says softly, "Natty, we've talked about this. Those pictures you've seen on the internet, that's not you. You know the therapies are super sophisticated now and you were diagnosed early enough, before any serious joint damage. Hisao's not getting away with wallowing in self pity, be sure that you aren't either. Anyway, you've missed out the best bit. If I can talk about my hypothetical love life, so can you."

"Well not all of us are..." Natsume is cut off by Naomi's stare. "Fine. It's not like there's much to say anyway. Like Naomi said earlier, we've got to be feeling right for sex to happen. And I don't feel comfortable with my body, so it doesn't. Given how my joints ache, it's hard enough to find a comfortable position when I'm on my own. I can't imagine how painful it'd be when adding someone else's weight into the equation."

"There's bound to be stuff on the 'net, recommended positions, techniques... I bet Hisao'd help you out with your research."

"I'm not going to dignify that with a response! Don't forget that I'm just going to get worse with time, how could I expect anyone to stay with me when the only certain thing about our love life is that it's doomed from the start?"

"Nat, sometimes you've got to live in the present..."

"Ha! Don't see you following your own advice!"

Uncomfortable with the girls' bickering, Hisao stands up. "Umm can I take a bathroom break before we go on?"

"Oh yeah, sure, I'm done anyway. Turn left when you go out then down one flight of stairs, it's on the right when you get to the landing." Waiting only until Hisao has left, Natsume turns to Naomi and hisses, "what the hell do you think you're doing?! No don't give me that innocent look, what's with trying to throw me at Hisao?"

Naomi sighs, "I'm not stupid Nat, this was your idea all along. Oh you're absolutely right, he really really needs help and I'm very happy to be here. But you're the one who noticed, you're the one who cared enough to do something about it."

"I'm just doing what anyone would do for a fellow classmate," Natsume replies defensively.

"'What anyone would do' eh? How come he spends all his time alone these days then?" Waving away Natsume's protests she continues, "you don't have to admit anything to me, just to yourself. And for the record, he's totally into you. He's hanging on your words like he never did when I was talking, and it's killing him that he can't work out how to help you. Ah, welcome back Hisao, good decision not to run!"

He snorts, "it might not mean much but I keep my promises."

"Ignore her, it's just what passes for her sense of humour. And it means something to me. Knowing there's someone else I can trust, another person I can talk to, is important to me. Are you ready for your turn now?"

He nods. "For nearly eighteen years I was just your average kid. Drifting through school, hanging out with my friends at the arcade, playing pick-up soccer games. Just like thousands of others. One snowy day a note in my maths book directed me to the grove behind my school where I received a confession that broke my heart. Turns out I'd been born with a heart defect but never experienced any symptoms until Iwanako rocked my world." The girls start giggling and he can't decide whether to be offended or join in.

"I'm sorry Hisao but you realise how ludicrous this sounds don't you? If you handed in a piece of creative writing with that opening scene to Mr Ishiguro he'd rip you a new one!" Naomi collects herself and continues, "still, it's a better love story than Twilight."

"If you two have quite finished! I woke up in a hospital bed wired up to all sorts of machines, with a wound in my chest where they'd performed some sort of surgery."

"Show us Hisao." Seeing the unease on his face, Natsume continues, "just because you can hide it doesn't mean it's not there. You've seen my hands and you were very keen to check out my figure. Fair's fair."

Hisao shakes his head, "not even my parents have seen it. Keeping it hidden lets me forget that all this ever happened."

"But that's exactly why you've got to stop hiding! It happened. You've got to accept it, got to learn how to live the rest of your life."

"I never asked for this! I don't want this new life, this damage," Hisao's voice is getting louder, reflecting the agitation he is feeling.

"You think any of us want to be here?" Natsume shoots back. "I understand that this is new to you, most of us have had years to get used to our issues. But you have to accept, you have to adapt. If you don't you'll die!" She takes a shaky breath, "I don't know how I would handle that."

Hisao sits back in shock. "I've been so wrapped up in my problems, I never thought how they affect the people around me!"

"That's not so unusual, kinda childish but understandable. The question is, now you've realised, what are you going to do about it?" Naomi asks with a challenging look.

Hisao stands up without speaking, unzips his hoodie and starts unbuttoning his shirt. Blushing deeply, he shows them his scar.

"I'd score that a 5.5 on the Katayama scale, what do you say Naomi?"

Seeing the confusion on Hisao's face Naomi explains, "Rika Katayama's a second year who has a heart problem, you should talk to her. She's had so many operations, she says they should just install a zip in her chest! Anyway Hisao, it's very manly but you can put it away now."

"I don't know what I was expecting to happen when you saw my scar, but it wasn't that!"

"'You are not alone, and you are not strange.' Stay here long enough and you'll see everything. You can always find someone to compare notes with if you take the time to look."

"Unless its problems in the pants. Rin says there's no-one in the school who'll admit to that," Naomi adds.

Laughing and shaking his head, Hisao continues, "My first week or so in the hospital was pretty hectic. Specialists, consultants, surgeons all dropped by. Even three different sets of medical students with their minders. All to see the freak who'd not only won a one in seven thousand chance on the health lottery, but who'd managed to be symptom free through a normal, rough and tumble, childhood. Once I was well enough I started to get visits from friends and classmates, little gifts and cards. But there's no 'get well soon' for us is there? No happy ending."

He breaks off to finish his glass of daiquiri. "Eugh this is nasty when its warm. Soon enough things settled down and the crushing boredom of those four hospital walls made a reader out of me. Reading let me withdraw from the world and I started to resent anyone who interrupted me. After a while I didn't bother to stop reading when people visited. That was the last straw even for Iwanako who'd visited every day without fail, though it took me nearly a week to notice that she'd stopped coming."

"How did that make you feel?" Naomi asks, a troubled look on her face.

"To be honest, I was glad. I know that sounds awful but I was reading compulsively and the fewer interruptions the better. It didn't take me long to work through the hospital's library so I resorted to the school textbooks my parents dropped off. One of the doctors saw me reading a science book and she lent me more advanced texts. Studying those meant that I could maintain my distance from people in a way that earned me praise, unlike when I was reading 'trashy novels'. I genuinely came to enjoy science, especially after I learnt enough maths to properly understand the deeper stuff."

"There's not much more to say about my stay in the hospital. About four months after the heart attack my consultant sat down with my parents and me to finalise my discharge, and to tell me that I'd be moving here rather than back to my old school. I was not pleased but they'd obviously decided before meeting me and I really didn't care enough to make a fuss, so here I am."

"Before you give us the details of your heart problems, can you talk about your time so far at Yamaku?" Natsume asks, looking over her glasses as she sips her drink.

"It was a huge relief to leave the hospital and I felt... well it's a bit hard to describe. I was nervous about the change in environment and unsure about meeting new people after spending so much time on my own, but at the same time I was looking forward to it. What I'm trying to say is that I was willing to give it a go. It started off pretty fun, people were kind and welcoming, even getting run over by Emi was more funny than scary."

Naomi giggles as Natsume rolls her eyes, "she'll run out of luck one of these days and really hurt someone."

"I guess arriving a few days before a festival meant that there was more going on than normal." Seeing them nod, Hisao continues. "I was swept up in the excitement; running with Emi, helping Rin finish her mural, building stalls with Shizune and Misha. It was exhausting! I managed to sneak away a couple of lunchtimes to sit with Hanako and Lilly for a bit of peace and quiet but still, it was hectic compared to the months of seclusion I'd just left behind. On the day of the festival I slept in pretty late and bumped into Kenji on my way out of the dorms. He babbled on about a 'manly picnic' which sounded terrifying so I made my excuses and left."

"That's Kenji for you. Do you remember the articles he tried to get us to publish Nat?"

"I've been trying to forget... 'Surviving the Feminist Conspiracy' was probably the least offensive of the lot!"

Laughing, Hisao says, "yeah that sounds exactly like him. Once I got outside I bought the biggest plate of unhealthy food I could find and snuck off to eat it somewhere Emi couldn't find me. It was fun to watch all the people milling round, enjoying the festival. I must have had a nap because the next thing I remember is the fireworks. They were pretty impressive, this school must have some serious backing. After they finished I headed back to my dorm and finished off the homework Mutou set us before turning in."

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Scroff
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Consider this an intervention! (continued)

Post by Scroff » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:01 am

"It sounds like you couldn't really have had a better start here, I'm surprised you ended up like this," observes Natsume.

"Well, I found myself slipping back into my bad old habits after the festival. In hospital I was used to spending all but an hour or so a day on my own, and without the excitement of working to a common goal I started to find being around people all the time tiring and stressful. Plus we're all boarders so its not like I could go home, be on my own for a bit and recharge my batteries. I didn't even feel safe in my room with Emi banging on my door in the morning to go running and the Student Council banging on my door in the evening to do paperwork or play Risk. I hate Risk!"

Naomi snorts, "yeah there's no-one left in the school who'll voluntarily play against Shizune except Misha, and she doesn't put up much of a fight."

"I ended up avoiding people, then I felt bad because I was avoiding them so I avoided them some more so I didn't have to explain why I was avoiding them and doesn't that word sound strange when you repeat it so many times? It was a short step from there to getting angry with myself for being weak and I, well, I decided that I could prove to myself that I was strong by not taking my meds."

"What the hell?! What were you even thinking?" Naomi shouts.

"It seemed to be the most logical thing in the world at the time. If I could take control of that one little thing then it would all be fine, I wouldn't have to hate myself for being weak. Of course it just ended up with those trips to Nurse that you picked up on. Maybe I was trying to sabotage myself so I would get sent back to the hospital where I didn't have to worry about anything or anybody. Anyway that's the situation as of lunchtime today."

Natsume sighs, "well there's a lot I could say but I'll save it for now. Tell us about your heart problems."

"I have Long QT syndrome. There's a lot of very interesting biochemistry behind it but the upshot is that I can have episodes where my heart doesn't beat in a normal, predictable way. Most are short-lived, painful and scary but not threatening if kept under control. Severe ones could lead to a heart attack, which can kill me if I don't get treatment. Physical or emotional stress can cause an episode, as can knocks to the chest."

"I have everyday symptoms like Natsume does, combined with the possibility of sudden, serious events like Naomi gets. The best of both worlds if you like. I have to be ridiculously careful all the time. Don't over-exert myself, don't get upset, don't bump into anyone or anything, avoid jump-scares in movies or video games. And even if I do all that I could still just die randomly. One of the first documented deaths associated with this syndrome was a girl who dropped dead when a teacher yelled at her."

"I often say Mutou will be the death of me. But for you, he literally could!" Naomi says with a cheeky wink.

Natsume rolls her eyes at her friend. "So apart from being careful, what can you do to reduce the chance of having an episode?"

Hisao shuffles around on the couch, embarrassed.

"Let me guess: take your meds and strengthen your heart with exercise." Seeing Hisao bury his head in his hands in shame, Natsume makes a conscious effort to calm herself. "I would slap you so hard right now if it wasn't for your damned heart! How would doing that alter the odds?"

"Reduces the chance of death from fifty percent in the fifteen year period after my heart attack with no treatment, to less than one percent in twenty years," Hisao whispers.

Naomi grabs Natsume as she's about to launch an attack at Hisao. "Calm down Nat, that's not going to help anyone. To be honest I don't know if what we're trying to do is enough. He's suicidal, we should talk to Nurse, get proper help."

"You can let go of me, I'm not going to hit him. For now. I need to think for a bit."

Hisao watches Natsume as she stands up and walks to the cupboards, deeply regretting how much he has upset her. Natsume uses the time it takes her to collect and set up a flipchart to decide what to do next. Nodding decisively she sits down next to Hisao and takes one of his hands in both of her's. Looking intently at his face for any hesitation or sign of a lie she asks, "is that what this is all about Hisao? You decided to take the easy way out?"

"No!" He thinks for a few seconds, "well, not consciously anyway. But it hurts all the time."

"Nurse can give you something for..."

Hisao shakes his head, "no I mean it hurts to be so fragile, to have to be so careful." He looks into Natsume's eyes, "to know that, whatever I do, I could leave behind people I care for at a moment's notice."

As Naomi covers her mouth with her hands to hide a knowing grin, Natsume abruptly walks to the flipchart, facing away from the others to hide her blush. She writes:
It is more necessary for the soul to be cured than the body; for it is better to die than to live badly. --Epictetus

"Ignore the dying part, we need to learn from Naomi how she stops her epilepsy dominating her life. While we're stressing about ending up a physical wreck or dropping down dead, she's living well, spreading cheer with that sunshine smile of hers."

"Aww that's a sweet thing to say Nat! Though what I'm most interested in learning about right now is Hisao's love life," Naomi laughs.

Natsume joins in with the laughter as she sits down next to Naomi. "Yeah, your turn to embarrass yourself!"

"Well you'll have a lot to laugh at before I've finished," he says ruefully. "To use Naomi's euphemism, experimenting in the hospital was a nightmare. Fairly early on, when I was still hooked up to the monitors, I attempted an experiment. I was still in the, um, preliminary stages when my heart rate went high enough to trigger an alarm. The nurse that came running almost caught me with my pants down and the best explanation I could come up with was that I'd been woken up by a nightmare."

Hisao welcomes the girls' laughter, pleased that the tension from earlier has started to ease. "It was a long time before I dared to conduct my next experiment."

"No hanky panky with Iwanako during those daily visits then?" Naomi asks with a wink.

"We never once talked about the confession or being in a relationship. It was more like being visited by an aunt than a girlfriend. No, my next attempt was when they finally let me take a shower on my own. I tell you, the reality of a blanket bath is very far removed from the fantasy of a stocking-clad nurse armed with a sponge and a sexy smile!"

"So I can add 'wears stockings' to 'skinny' on your list of preferences then," Naomi teases.

Shaking his head, he continues, "you can imagine that once I got into the shower, warm water streaming down my body, smooth slippery soap on my skin, I was very keen to start a new experiment. This one went much better and I had almost got to the, umm, data collection phase when my heart decided to pull the plug on it; that was the first heart flutter I experienced. It scared the hell out of me, it felt like my heart was racing then it'd suddenly pause, resume with an extra hard beat, then go back to racing. I ended up slumped over in the shower long enough for a nurse to come and find me. They thought it was the effort of standing that had caused the flutter and I wasn't going to tell them otherwise."

"So is that always going to happen? Are you going to turn into one of those angry incels?" Naomi asks sympathetically.

"I don't know. The shower experience put me off experimentation and to be honest I've been too scared to try again. Which was OK in the hospital but here... This school is packed with cute, friendly girls, it's too good to be true! The urge to experiment is very strong these days but I'm still worried that it'd cause a flutter, or worse."

"I bet that getting into shape and taking your pills would mean that you'd be OK, as long as you didn't go at it like a bull in a china shop," Natsume says pointedly.

"Sounds like you two should start up a programme of research into gentle experimentation," Naomi says slyly, narrowly dodging a slap from Natsume.

"Seriously Naomi? No more daiquiri for you! Hisao, do you think you've told us all we need to know about your situation?"

He thinks for a while. "Yeah, I just want to say that I know I'm in a rut and I know I've made bad decisions, but I'm at a loss to know what to do. It feels like I've gone through a series of irreversible reactions and my entropy is about to reach its maximum." Seeing their blank looks he clarifies, "a lot has happened that I don't know how to undo and I'm almost at the end of my tether."

"Should've just said that the first time. I'm gonna start calling you Mini-Mutou if you keep talking like that," Naomi mutters.

"I was thinking that we'd try and do some action-planning with you Hisao, if you're up for it. Maybe the three of us together can find a way forward." Seeing him nod, Natsume stands up. "I just need a couple of minutes before we start."

"Me too," Naomi choruses as they leave the clubroom.

Remembering the set he saw in the cupboard, Hisao decides to make tea while he waits for the girls. He tidies the coffee table and sets out cups while the kettle boils. As he walks back to the couches with the teapot, the girls return.

"We should keep him Nat, he's well trained!"

"What do you think Hisao, would the prospect of being our tea boy motivate you to stick around?" Natsume challenges him.

He smiles shyly and replies, "Looking after you is one of the best reasons I can think of for being here."

"Eugh! I'm going to see if there's any salty snacks left, need something to get this sweet taste out of my mouth," Naomi exclaims as she walks to the cupboard, doing her best to hide a pleased grin. "I was thinking about what you were saying earlier Hisao, when you mentioned taking control," she says over her shoulder. She comes back to the coffee table, puts down a packet of rice crackers she found in the cupboard and sits down next to Natsume.

"Just about everything in your life in the last few months has been out of your control; your heart attack, your time in the hospital. Coming here you fell in with Shizune and Emi, both of whom had you dancing to their tune. Any plan we come up with is going to have to let you take some control back."

"That's a really good point Naomi, it matches up nicely with an idea I had about Hisao needing to establish boundaries with his friends, like no more than three hours a week on Student Council work."

"And no Risk!" Hisao adds, making the girls laugh.

"We better start making notes before we forget what we're coming up with." Seeing Hisao reaching for the marker pen, Natsume snatches it up. "Not you Hisao! I never can read what you scrawl on the board when you do problems in class."

***

Hisao looks at the discarded flipchart sheets, drained teacups and empty snack wrappers, evidence of the night's discussions. "When did Naomi drop off?" he asks.

"Not sure, but I'm glad she did. Being overtired increases her risk of having a seizure. I'm surprised it took us all night to come up with that." She gestures towards the flipchart.

"Well we didn't exactly stay on task," Hisao says, thinking back to how they'd got sidetracked, sharing good and bad memories, laughing and commiserating with each other, cementing their friendship. He reminds himself of the final version of the plan:

1. Improve health and fitness by taking meds and exercising
2. Rebuild friendships, but...
3. Set boundaries
4. Be more open and honest

"It looks so simple and logical, boiled down to those four actions. I'm not really sure how to begin though."

"'A journey of a thousand li starts beneath one's feet.' We both know there's something you can do that'll make a good start on the two most important points on that list."

"I hardly know what to say to her."

"You'll think of something."

Nodding, he grabs his 'phone and types: [Can you forgive me for ditching you? I want to make it up to you and that includes being your running partner again, if you'll have me.] Seeing Natsume's nod of approval he presses the send button. "I don't know if she runs on Sunday mornings, we might not hear from her..." He's interrupted by a notification and reads her reply. [Be @ trk by 7]

"I think she might be a bit angry but it's good to see that she's willing to meet you. How did it feel to do that?"

"Scary, but it feels good to have taken the initiative and have it work out OK." His face takes on a determined look as he decides to make another bold move. "So Natsume, I was um wondering if maybe, sometime you'd, err do me the honour of having tea with me at the Shanghai?"

"Hisao..." She holds a hand out to him, which he gratefully takes. "I admit that Naomi's helped me to understand that I do like you in that way." Seeing a relieved smile spread across his face she holds up her other hand. "But for my own sake I have to be careful, I can't get closer to you when you're so careless with your life. If you could convince me that you're doing your best to stay around it would be different, but right now..." She shakes her head sadly.

"But it's not a definite no?"

"Let me be clear: show me that you're taking your health seriously and it's an enthusiastic yes."

"OK, OK... So, um, I'm not going to get that much fitter overnight..."

"I'm not saying you have to become the next Naoko Takahashi, just make progress on those actions," she gestures at the flipchart. "If you run with Emi in the mornings then we can meet up for breakfast after Naomi and I have finished swimming. We can take our meds together, it'll be so romantic!"

Hisao laughs, "that's something you'd only ever hear at Yamaku! How long do you think it'll take to..." Seeing the beginnings of a frown on Natsume's face he adds hurriedly, "I'm not trying to rush you, I just want an idea of what I've got to do to convince you. You can't blame me for being a little impatient."

"Who knew I was such a catch!" Natsume giggles. "I don't mean to be a tease, but there isn't some sort of threshold, some feat of strength I'm looking for. Its a change in attitude I need to see. If your actions show me that you're committed to getting better then it won't be so very long." She looks into his eyes and says, "you're not the only one who's impatient."

Hisao grins like he's won the lottery. "You'll see." Looking at his watch he stands up. "I better go and get into my running kit, can't be late for Emi."

"Take your pills while I wake Naomi, we'll come down to the track with you for moral support."

***

"Think he'll make it?" asks Naomi as she watches Emi stifle a laugh at Hisao's attempts to stretch.

"Its up to him now." Natsume shakes her head, "I mean it was always up to him, but let's hope he wants to."

"Well from what I heard, you found a powerful way to motivate him..."

Natsume blushes a deep red. "I thought you were asleep!"

Naomi laughs, "my name's not Suzu. I hope it works out for you two, I've been thinking for a while that you need a special someone in your life. Something to counteract those gloomy spells you've been having."

"Nothing's certain, it depends on whether he can break out of the downward spiral he's been in."

"But we're not going to let him struggle on his own are we?"

"No, we'll support him but we can't do too much or he'll never learn to stand on his own two feet. I want to be his girlfriend, not his mother. He better make it though!" she says, suddenly becoming fierce, "I don't want the pain I went through, exposing all my innermost secrets, to go to waste."

"It was rough alright." Naomi looks thoughtful. "But I feel better for sharing mine, somehow lighter..."

"Same here. I think he does too."

"I never knew you..."
"I didn't realise you..."

Naomi giggles as she stands up and offers a hand to her best friend. "Let's leave them to it."

"We'll meet you guys in the cafeteria for breakfast when you're finished!" Natsume calls to the tiny taskmistress and her new apprentice, who wave back. Emi's encouraging shouts ring in their ears as they walk back to the main building, enjoying the new strength and depth to their friendship resulting from yesterday's revelations.

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calcifer
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Re: Consider this an intervention!

Post by calcifer » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:51 am

Well written, and it was definitely a nice read but it felt too unrealistic. Bunch of angsty teenagers (one of which is basically a stranger) get together and have an adult, articulate, methodical discussion of their medical conditions? And then they discuss their masturbation habits and possible sex positions? In Japan?
Shizune = Rin > Emi > Hanako > Lilly
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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:24 am

Wow, a Mini-Natsume-Route...
Not what I would have expected in a one-shot thread:-)

I agree with Clacifer that a few passages were a bit too explicit to be realistically shared between people who just met each other not matter the motivation. That and Hisao telling about his attack was too flippant. he might tell the two about it, but I think joking about it was too much.

I didn't really mind the "adult, articulate, methodical discussion of their medical conditions", though. That has to be more or less par for the course for people who have lived their whole lives with said conditions and/or for Yamaku students.

Overall it was very well written, and it kind of works out fine.
We can take our meds together, it'll be so romantic!
Favourite line :lol:
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by ProfAllister » Tue Jul 24, 2018 11:28 am

Still digesting this, but a few things stick out:

- You seem to have done a fair bit of research, so good on you.

- Placing this scene in present tense feels... off. A constant present tense narration carries a sense of dynamism that, set against the mode of "dialog->reaction" seems to break the flow, resulting in a rather choppy narrative. The best recommendation I could give here is to try to break up longer sections of dialog into discrete parts, allowing characters to react mid-sentence rather than waiting for the speaker to finish before they react.

- Naomi and Natsume felt like they had the same "voice". Ideally, you should be able to tell who's speaking by word choice, manner of phrasing, verbal tics, etc.

Overall, I think I liked the idea, but it feels like it could use a little more polish.
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calcifer
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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by calcifer » Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:24 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:24 am
I agree with Clacifer that [...]
That's calcifer actually :P
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:24 am
That has to be more or less par for the course for people who have lived their whole lives with said conditions and/or for Yamaku students.
If they were half a decade older, maybe. Or, I'm just too jaded and cynical to believe today's teenagers can realistically carry a conversation of that level. It certainly hasn't been my experience. Oh well...
Last edited by calcifer on Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Shizune = Rin > Emi > Hanako > Lilly
FluffandCrunch wrote: Every day is a gift, every hour is golden, every minute is a diamond. Life is wonderful, if you have the courage to live it.

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Scroff
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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by Scroff » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:48 pm

Thanks all for the feedback, really useful points for me to work on

Also an interesting discussion about what Japanese teens would/would not talk about! I've never been Japanese and it's a long time since I was a teenager... But I'm an academic and teach the first year discrete maths module, so I talk to a lot of late teens and find many of them able to talk very knowledgeably about things they're interested in or experienced with

My daughter is 17, maybe she's a bit full-on but she doesn't shy away from talking about sex-related things with me. Like a few months ago when she told me about one of her classmates contracting an STI, which lead a discussion on the importance of condoms - telling her the sad tale of a friend of mine who'd been left infertile after contracting one reinforced the message. She even got me to agree to buy condoms for her :roll:

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calcifer
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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by calcifer » Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:46 pm

Well, I'll just defer to your experience then. I'm old, but not have-a-17-year-old old :)
Shizune = Rin > Emi > Hanako > Lilly
FluffandCrunch wrote: Every day is a gift, every hour is golden, every minute is a diamond. Life is wonderful, if you have the courage to live it.

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Re: Yet another one-shot thread

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:03 pm

I think it depends on the person, and you can't necessarily generalize to a whole population. I've known 18 year olds who are more mature talking about sex than some 30 year olds. Within KS itself, for example, you have characters who are almost totally comfortable with their situations, such as Rin and Lilly, compared to someone like Hanako who has such a huge complex about her scars that letting Hisao see them represents the biggest step that they take in their relationship.

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