The Sands of Time

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The Sands of Time

Post by Oddball » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:48 pm

Chapter 1:
School Days

The bell rings and school is officially out for the day. However there's still quite a few people more interested in asking questions to the famous guest speaker than they are in leaving. The questions go on for another fifteen minutes before Misha stands up. She politely but firmly lets the class know that it is now time to go officially and the class's guest has other business to attend to. Even then there's a few more questions and a few more autographs before the students disperse completely. It's about time too. Not that I'm ungrateful, but it's been a long time since I've done this much signing and my hands are tired.

“Thanks for coming,” Misha says to me. It's the first spoken words I've heard in what feels like a hundred hours. “The deaf classes so rarely get any visitors to come and talk with them," she pauses for a moment as she realizes what she actually just said. "I suppose that's kind of obvious," she adds with a light chuckle. I had half expected her old thunderous laugh "and celebrity guest speakers? That never happens." She continues with a smile and a sigh of relief. Now that class was out, I could see her well practiced responsible teacher facade was slipping away revealing something of the old Misha I knew back in high school. It wasn't as pronounced and over exaggerated as it used to be, but the playfulness was still there

I try to play it off. "Oh, you know me. I'll take any excuse I can to talk about myself," I say running my hands across my beard. It's the only place where the gray hasn't completely overtaken my natural hair color. I'm slightly disappointed she beat me to the joke about guest speakers for the deaf.

“You sure you're the same Hisao I went to high school with?” she smiles teasingly. “I recall him being a bit more tight lipped with details of his personal life.”

"You sure you're still the same Misha? I don't see any pink hair anywhere, I reply. She rolls here eyes at me and sighs. “You're not upset that I let it slip that you were 'Misha', are you?"

"I'm not upset, I just really wish you wouldn't have done it. It's hard enough to keep the kids respect without that hanging over my head." She twirls her light brown hair around her finger as she says this. Whether it's to imitate her old hairstyle or whether she was just bored and playing with her hair, I can't tell.

“I said Misha was based on you. I didn't say it was you. Besides, I seem to recall there were a few real characters teaching back when we went here.”

“We did,” she says wistfully. I can't tell who she's thinking back on, but it's obviously she's recalling some old teacher from our shared history, maybe more than one. "I suppose I should consider myself lucky Shiich- Shizune didn't come with you. I'd probably dye my hair pink again before I realized what I was doing." She pauses and sighs. "Do you two still keep in touch?" Now that she's stopped signing, she seems to want to make up for the long periods of silence. I can almost see the life and energy flowing back into her.

"Not as much as I'd like… Not much at all really. Shizune and I both drifted our separate ways. She's got her company and I've got my stuff," I give Misha a sad smile.

"-and I'm the only one of us that didn't end up rich. How is that fair?" Misha says crossing her arms and pretending to be upset. Even if she did notice my mood, she isn't reacting to it. Although, I suppose it's also possible she's just trying to cheer me up. She was always sharper than she let on.

"Hey, you wanted to be a teacher," I tease. It's been a while since I smiled this much. It feels good to get be joking around with old friends again, even if it's only for a moment. "so… are we done here? I'm ready to go get something to eat.”

There's a brief look of dread on her face followed by a soft curse that I can't quite make out. “You're going to have to give me a few minutes here. The staff wanted a quick write-up on your visit. I really meant to work on it while you were still talking with the kids but …,” she smiles and shrugs.

“That's okay. There's nowhere else I have to be today,” I say. I can only guess why the faculty needed a write up. My relationship with Yamaku's higher-ups hasn't always been the best one. Sure on the surfaced we're all smiles and friendly handshakes, but behind closed doors it becomes obvious that they don't approve of a lot of things I do. Not that they're going to come out and say it. That would be a PR nightmare. The number one school for the disabled in Japan isn't going to come out and bad mouth the guy who made being disabled acceptable. Instead, they just try to make things as difficult for me as possible while hiding behind a shield of paperwork and procedure.

“Thanks. I think I can whip something up in about fifteen minutes. Maybe twenty,” Misha says. “Actually, let's make it half and hour. Then I'll have to hand them in, so forty five minutes. An hour? Yeah, give me an hour. I'll meet you at the front gates then.”

“That's fine,” I say. “I wanted to look around around anyway.” I say this, but I'm not quite sure how true it is. I smile back at her and nod as she takes her seat again behind the teacher's desk. I can easily keep myself busy in the meantime. I pick my cane up and walk to the door.

When I first came up with the idea of meeting Misha here, I had looked forward to seeing how the school had changed. The answer is 'not much'. They had done some repainting and re-tiling of the floors but the majority of the school seemed like it had been back in my day. There were changes though. They were few and small, but they were enough to make everything feel just slightly off.

I take one last look at Misha as I close the door and walk into the hall. She's certainly came a long way since I first met her. Between her long straight brown hair and her far more restrained way of expressing herself, I almost wouldn't have recognized her. Of course even if I hadn't, she would have given it away when she smiled. It might not be the same wild toothy grin she used to use, but the energy behind it is unmistakable.

Now she's a teacher.

I remember her saying she wanted to teach sign language, but something in my mind never quite connected that to her actually teaching kids. I'm even more surprised that it actually seems to suit her.

I remember once upon a time I wanted to be a teacher. Life didn't work out that way. A major heart attack in college made me reevaluate where I was heading. It's like the saying goes, I ended up taking the road less traveled and that made all the difference.

Walking out the classroom door, I half expect to be mobbed by more of my adoring fans. Instead the halls seem mostly clear. Either word hadn't gotten around I'm here, the faculty is keeping them away, or I'm overestimating my own popularity again.

I'm pretty sure it's not that last one. I'm a popular guy.

With time to burn and nothing else planed, I decide to see the sights. Sadly the old student council room is locked. I can't even remember what room Lilly used to have tea in. I thought I did, but unless they completely rebuilt things while I was gone, it seems like my memory was playing tricks on me.

With those places lost to me, my next stop is Mutou's old class. Whenever I think of Yamaku, I always think of sitting in his class listening to his science lectures. While I might not have been able to remember my way to Lilly's tea room, finding Mutou's doesn't even require thinking. All these years later, my feet still know the way.

I'm trying to think of exactly what to say to him as I reach the door. I end up deciding to just go right to my old seat, sit down, and apologize for being late to class. I think he'd get a laugh out of that. I might have to remind him who I am first though.

Opening the door, I'm tremendously disappointed. Not only is he not here, the class doesn't appear to have seen use in some time. The air is still and the desks have a layer of dust over them. I wonder if he even still teaches here; I really should have asked about that.

Just for old times sake, I take my seat anyway. I feel like and idiot, but at the same time, it feels like the right thing to do. “Here's too old times, teacher,” I say as I toast him with an imaginary wine glass. This is the place that redefined who I was. I'm not sure I ever really understood people before coming here.

I close me eyes and I can almost see them all again.
Rin painting her mural.
Emi running track.
Tea with Hanako and Lilly.
Student Council…

“Excuse me, Mr. Nakai?” a voice says pulling me out of my memories. I look towards the direction and stop dead. There's a girl with short blue hair and glasses and her companion a tall exotic looking girl with long blonde hair. “We're not bothering you are we?” the blue haired girl asks. It's not until I see that she's the speaker that I realize these aren't just phantoms from my past.

“Sorry. I was lost in thought,” I say with a forced smirk. “How can I help you?”

“We really really hate to bother you, but we're both big fans and we were hoping that you could maybe sign an autograph for us. Please, oh please,” the blue haired girl says. She's unabashedly excited and isn't even trying to hide the fact. Her taller companion seems a bit more reluctant to speak.

“Sure thing,” I say to them. “What do you have for me to sign?” I ask. The girls each pull out a different volume of manga. The shorter haired girl steps forward with a collection of “The Kid with the Broken Heart.” It's my Based-on-a-true-story-except-for-all-the-stuff-I-made-up-to-make-it-more-interesting series. Somehow that description has never found it's way onto the back of any of the books. I blame the editors.

The taller girl hands me a copy of Sweet Heart Girls. It features the same cast and setup, but while Broken Heart is a more realistic mature school drama Sweet Heart is far more wacky and kid friendly. It's also moves more merchandise and is just generally more fun to write. It's all the wacky hi-jinks of a harem series without the actual harem. I take both of them and set them down on the desk in front of me as I try to remember which pocket I've put my pen in.

“Thank you, this means a lot to us, Mr. Nakai. You're our favorite writer,” she says. She looks like she's on the verge of endlessly parading a list of compliments and admirations before I speak up.

“It's Hisao. Just Hisao. I see no reason to be formal with fellow Yamaku alumni.” I give them a friendly reassuring smile. I've been told my ability to put people at ease is one of my greatest strengths.

“Oh no. We couldn't call you that. That's way extremely too familiar. It wouldn't be respectful!” the taller of thew two girls says.

“You're already reading my works, telling me what a fan you are, and asking for autographs. If you were anymore respectful, I don't think I'd be able to handle it,” I sigh. “Maybe this place just brings out the sentimentality in me.” I look at their faces and see that there enthralled by my words, as though any minute I might just casually tell them the meaning of life. “It seems I'm the one being rude. I never asked for your names.”

“I'm Yuriko and this is Kyouko,” the blue haired girl says. The blonde shows me a strange awkward grin, like she knows she's supposed to be smiling, but isn't sure how.

“I'm pleased to make your acquaintance,” I stand and give them a bow that's more polite than the situation calls for. “If you don't mind me pointing it out,” I say taking a few strands of the blonde girls hair in my fingers, “I've seen better wigs in my time.”

“Yeah, it's … err... I had a treatment and, well, all my hair fell out.” She paused for a second and played with her hair slightly before continuing. “I don't like being bald so... I went looking and found this costume store and … yeah, so...” I suppose that would explain the doll-like quality of the wig.

"The doctors have high hopes and she's been looking healthier lately, but she's sensitive about her hair." Her friend chirps in. At least one of them seems optimistic.

I reached into my pockets for a piece of paper and ended up with a receipt for some fried chicken I had the night before. I quickly jot down a name and a phone number on the back. “I won't invade your privacy by asking for more details, but let me give you a hand. Call this number, ask for Old Man Ryouji. He'll get you a good wig made of real hair within the week for less than you probably paid for the one you have now. Make sure you tell him I gave you the number.”

If there's one thing I've learned over the years it's that favors can open doors for people quicker than any amount of money. Make friends where ever you can. You never know when that guy you pass on the street or the old lady behind you in the grocery store will turn up again in your life with contacts you need. That, and I generally try to be a decent person. It's good for my karma, if you believe in that sort of thing. “Make sure you call him 'Old Man' Ryouji too. He likes that nickname.” He hates it, but good is a friend if not for teasing on occasion?

“Thank you very much, Mr. Nakai,” the blonde says. Looks like they're not comfortable enough calling me by my given name, such is one of the annoyances of fame. I autograph each of their volumes, adding a very quick and roughly scribbled sketch of my own character meeting them. I'm no artist, I've got other people that do the drawing for me, but I can still do sketches and make it look mostly what I want it to look like. Sometimes. If nothing else, the bad art style gives it a bit of charm.

I like to think that anyway.

They ask the usual questions with a bit more than the usual apprehension, the blue haired girl doing most of the talking for her shy friend. Where do you get your ideas? What was such-and-such really like? Did this or that really happen? Is it hard being a professional and disabled? I give them the normal answers. They're actually rather nice girls. I'll have to make a note to stick them in a quick cameo somewhere in an upcoming volume. That'll be a nice surprise for them when they see it.

“Is somebody skipping out on the assembly?” Misha's voice calls from the doorway. I had been caught up in conversation and hadn't even heard her approaching. For some reason I have a feeling the school held their assembly at this particular time not to make my life easier but to keep the kids from interacting with a me.

I'm a bad influence, after all.

Yuriko and Kyouko look like, well, they look like they were just caught skipping out on a school assembly and don't have any excuse. Misha's standing there looking at them sternly with her hands on her hips. Although knowing that particular pose and expression are copied from an old mutual acquaintance of ours lessens the effect on me.

“So, did you get your paperwork done?” I ask hoping to take the pressure off the girls. Lord only knows Misha, Shizune, and I used to skip classes with less of an excuse than this. Their only problem is they aren't as good as justifying things as well as our old school council president. I can't fault them for not being devious.

“I did,” she say. Her posture relaxes a little.

“Well, then, maybe we should be on our way,” She knows exactly what I'm doing. We've known each other too long for me to be able to pull the wool over her eyes that easily.

“I'll let you two off this time, but you shouldn't make a habit of skipping out on school functions. It's important to show your support and loyalty to your school, not just to us, the faculty, but to your fellow students as well.”

I turn slightly to hide my smile. It's not quite Shizune that Misha reminds me of now, although the influence is definitely there, but there's just something about how much of a responsible adult she's acting that throws me.

Once the girls give their humble apologizes and leave, I address Misha. “We would have done the same you know. Given the choice between tracking down a famous visitor or attending a normal school function, we would have tracked down the visitor.”

“We wouldn't have gotten caught,” Misha corrects me with a large smile. I nod at her, conceding the point and we both chuckle slightly over it. “Now, I'm sure you didn't come all the way back here just to give lectures to my class. What did you really want to talk about?”

I stop and look around. “Actually, this doesn't seem to be the right place to talk about this. Is the Shanghai still open?”

“It is, and you'll be happy to know the old place hasn't changed much at all,” Misha says, “and they've got great desserts too!” It's still hard for me to believe this lady is a teacher sometimes.
Last edited by Oddball on Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Feurox » Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:15 pm

Well, that was amazingly adorable, and since it's seemingly a multi-part series, I'll look forward to the next instalment. There's definitely some sad undertones coming through, especially with Misha having lost touch with Shizune and Hisao in kind. I presume this follows a timeline where Shizune and Hisao got together, but that opens up all kinds of possibilities. Is this a world where Hisao 'comforted' Misha? Did Hisao's stories cover all the girls in a positive light? Has there been any conflicts?

Tl;Dr, I look forward to the rest. Good job.

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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Fowlor » Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:56 pm

You do a great job establishing atmosphere. I'm really curious to see where this goes.

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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by brythain » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:32 pm

Aha, that's a wonderful bout of 'subverting the tropes'. And a salt-and-pepper mass media Nakai. :D

Only one thing that made me reflexively wince: "The staffed wanted a quick write-up on your visit." Other than that, the title seems to promise more, and such, should it appear, would of course be interesting to see.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:22 am

Yes, this was indeed a very interesting start (at least I hope it is a start of something...) I'M looking forward to finding out what exactly Hisao might have done to antagonize the school.
Apart from the "staffed" there were quite a few more typos in there, e.g.
but it's obviously she's recalling some old teacher
Once the girls give their humble apologizes and leave...
But the one thing that irked me most was this one:
With those places lost to me, my next stop is Mutou's old class.
I wonder if he even still teaches here; I really should have asked about that.
It's not Mutou's class, it's his class, and Mutou is not teaching just there but everywhere a class currently has science on their timetable.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Oddball » Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:33 pm

It's not Mutou's class, it's his class, and Mutou is not teaching just there but everywhere a class currently has science on their timetable.
You do have a point. While Mutou taught in other classes, this was still his home room class. Hisao going there and expecting to see Mutou again and finding the place unused I think still has the desired effect of disappointing him.
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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:13 pm

While Mutou taught in other classes, this was still his home room class.
Well, it was the classroom of class 3-3 of which Mutou happened to be the homeroom teacher. Not sure if you meant that...
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.
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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Craftyatom » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:08 am

Been a while since I read a "KS X years on" fic. You clearly avoided the "everyone is here" trope, without dismissing those characters entirely - which is a nice, realistic take on a nostalgic visit. And you avoided the "clones of the KS cast but X years younger" trope too, once again acknowledging its place in reality - of course Hisao finds all these little similarities to his own experiences - without going overboard.

Hisao actually feels very well-characterized and believable, in that he's a bit of a self-centered bastard, but he's also a nice guy who tries to help people out. Fits surprisingly well with canon. That said, his fame seemed a bit odd to me. He's a writer, and kind of a figurehead, which is enough for him to be like a pop idol to these students? Not that someone in his position couldn't attain that level of fame, and of course his most avid fans would be at Yamaku, but the reaction just felt a tad disproportionate. Of course, this is without me knowing any of the details about his rise to fame, or his beef with the school, so maybe all will be revealed!

Overall, simple and well-written. Nothing unusual, just some nice interactions and exposition. And the requisite sprinking of SpaG errors, of course. But maybe that's part of the charm :P
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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Oddball » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:47 am

Chapter 2
Everyday Fantasy

It's been a long time since I walked down to the Shanghai. Due to the conveniently timed school assembly, there aren't any students on the streets. Of course, there usually weren't many students in town back in my day either. I suppose that could have changed though.

“So, how's life, the universe, and everything?” I ask as we start out.

“That's certainly a vague enough question,” Misha replies. “You couldn't think of anything more specific?”

“How's the love life?” I ask without missing a beat.

"Why are you so curious?" She says giving me a mischievous smile.

"I've taken up a new hobby. I live vicariously through others now. It beats golf,” I say with a smile and a shrug. “So, how are things?"

She sighs and for a minute looks uncomfortable before speaking again. "Well," she says interlacing her fingers behind her head and gazing up at the sky. "It's the same as usual really. Bad."

“I picked a bad topic, didn't I?” I respond. “It was just the first thing that popped into my head.”

“Sorry, it's just that I'm … well, I broke up with my boyfriend recently. I'm thinking of going back to girls again. I don't know.”

“I chose a bad topic,” I reply. It was meant as a casual conversation starter, but I'd forgotten how messed up Misha's relationship troubles could be. I never really kept close contact with her but I've been more or less aware of some of the things she's gone through over the years.

Mostly we just followed each other on the various social media sites and apps that have appeared and disappeared over the years. Every once in a while she'd post some long drawn out sad rant about how women are the worst or how she doesn't understand men. All this time and I still don't think she even knows what her own orientation is. She is, however, rather adamant that she is not “one of those bisexual types”. What she actually is depends on when you ask, what day of the year it is, and how much she's been drinking.

“It's okay. I should have seen that question coming from you, Mr. Romance writer.” She says. She knows that I don't like being considered just a romance writer.

“I write life. Life just happens to have romance in it,” I say to her.

“Don't be shy. You're really good at it. What was it that magazine called you again, The Master of Romance?” Misha adds.

“I swear, I want to kill somebody every time I hear that,” I say. “It has to be the stupidest sounding title I've ever heard.”

“I think it's sweet,” Misha says. “Catchy too.”

“Whoever thought it up needs to be drug out in the street and shot,” I raise my cane up and make a firing motion with it.

“Wouldn't they get run over?” Misha asks.

“I thought that went without saying. That's why they're in the street,” I say.

“Okay,” she responds with the tone of somebody that's clearly missing something. “I don't get it.”

“Here I was thinking that teachers were supposed to understand everything,” I say with a smirk.

“Mutou,” she raises as the counterpoint. It doesn't need any more explanation than that.

“You know, I used to think that he knew science but didn't understand anything else, but looking back, he was a lot better with people than I realized at the time.”

“Yeah, I just wished I had some more time to actually work with the guy. He was going out the door as I was coming in it. We only taught together for two years, and even then it wasn't the same grade,” Misha sighs.

Eventually, we arrive at our destination. The walk down to the Shanghai was longer than I remembered it being. I'm breathing harder than I'd like by the time I make it. I also feel some pins and needles in my limbs and chest, but it's nothing bad. Experience tells me it'll go away once I sit down for a few minutes.

While Yamaku hadn't had too many changes in it, the Shanghai has gone though a massive revamp. It's now decorated with a far more obvious Chinese style to better match it's name. Apparently this did wonder for business. It's far busier than I remembered it ever being.

Part of me expected Yuuko to come out to greet us, but that was just a stray thought in the back of my head. I knew she wasn't here and hadn't been for years. The waitress that did come out has long black hair and wears a shiny red Chinese style dress with her hair done up in ox horns.

The detail that most catches my eye is her single flesh toned glove. Looking closer, some of the fingers in the glove seem a too thin and don't bend right as she hands us our menus. I can't tell if it's injury, deformity, or a stiff prosthetic. She looks too old to be a student, so I'd guess either she is a former student that stayed in the area or somebody that moved here so they wouldn't stand out as much.

Of course, age isn't always as obvious as it looks. Sitting here with Misha, I could easily be mistaken for her father. Hard work, stress, fast food, and a few heart attacks too many have aged me beyond my years. Where I once had a head of light brown hair it's now mostly gray speckled with patches of pure white. The cane I use these days doesn't exactly help maintain a youthful image either.

I do still have a full head of hair though. That's more than most of the men in my family could say at my age.

The waitress gives us each a menu and asks us what we'd like to drink. I order some ice tea. Misha asks her about the specials and follows it up with a bit of small talk. They seem to know each other enough to exchange pleasantries but they don't seem really close.

The whole experience feels really nostalgic. It's one thing to write these scenes, but living them again feels so refreshing. I close my eyes for a moment and picture Misha not as she is now, but as the crazy haired teenager she used to be and myself as the awkward schoolboy.

“You seem distracted,” Misha says to me.

“What makes you say that?” I ask.

“You didn't order any food,” she says. I hadn't even noticed the waitress had left.

“Sorry, I'm juggling a lot of things right now,” I reply trying to make my thoughts sound more important than they are.

“I told her to bring the drinks and you'd order then ,” Misha says. “You looked like you needed a few more minutes to think.”

“Maybe. That was probably a good call,” I reply.

“Let me guess, you took time out of your busy schedule and now you're worried about missing your deadlines.”

“Actually, I'm on sabbatical for the time being. I've got a backlog of stories waiting for publication and quite a few guest writers lined up after that,” I say. She replies with a mere 'huh'. “I've actually got enough friends and acquaintances in the industry to go for years on guest work alone,” I continue.

“Anybody I've heard of?” she asks. I'm actually ready to start on a long list of well known and even award winning authors and what ideas we talked about when she decides to change the subject. “Are you going to keep me in suspense all evening? Why the face to face meeting?” So much for me bragging about famous friends.

At this point the waitress comes back with our drinks and a small plate of bread sticks.

“I'm putting the band back together,” I say with dramatic flourish.

Misha looks at me strangely. “A band?”

I sigh. “That's just something I've always wanted to say.”

“I just don't remember you being in band,” she continues.

I wave my hands in that way that's both apologetically and means 'just ignore what I said'. "I have something big coming up and, well, I wanted to see all the people that made it possible I suppose."

“Good luck with that,” she says dipping one of the bread sticks into a sauce of some kind. “We weren't even all that close back then, not like in your stories anyway.”

“I'm working on it. Besides, it wouldn't be any fun if it was easy, would it?” I say.

“I'm the first person you thought to track down? How sweet,” Misha says. I'm not sure if she's teasing me or not. Misha looks at the bread stick still dripping in sauce. I should probably stop talking for a moment and let her eat it.

“Not quite. The first person I thought to track down is actually the last I'm going to visit,” I say to her.

"That makes no sense." She says, taking a large bite out of the food and pushing the plate to me, nods as smiles as if to say 'try some. They're good'.

"Welcome to my life." I felt kind of bad about that response the moment I say it. She deserves more than that. "Sorry. It's just hard to explain."

"You want to see Shizune again and don't know what to say to her." Misha completely nailed it. No matter how long I've known her, I always tend to forget that she's not as silly and simple minded as she looks, even now that she doesn't look so silly and simple minded anymore.

"Maybe it's not hard to explain," I take a sip of my tea. It tastes watered down and weak. "You're smarter than you let on." I hope that doesn't come off sounding too much like an insult.

"I'll take that as a compliment," she mumbled with a mouthful of bread.

“You shouldn't eat too much of that, you won't have room for your actual food,” I say.

“If there's one thing I can do, it's eat. I actually went and bought one of those blowflex machines a few years back. They're great for working off calories. You should get one,” Misha says. I assume that's her nice way of saying I should lose weight.

“I'll have to look into that,” I tell her. I feel it's better than explaining how I use my track machine as a coat rack.

The food soon arrives and we both dig in. Neither of us mentioned Shizune again and neither of us mentioned my trip to see everybody, but conversation continues between us for an hour. Nothing else really meaningful is said but it feels nice to talk again.


“That was good,” Misha sighs as she pats her stomach.

“I think the food's gotten better since I've been away,” I say.

“Do you really think so? I hadn't noticed,” she replies. “That might just be because I eat here all the time.”

“That could be it,” I sigh. What's the saying? Absence makes the heart grow fonder? I had actually grown fond of how Yuuko tended to under-season everything except the spicy dishes, which she tended to over-season. Her cooking style was off just slightly in a way that I've never seen matched by anyone, no mater how much I tried. It wasn't always good, but it was memorable.

“Oh, god. Don't look,” Misha suddenly blurts out. Whenever anyone says that, the natural response is to look. Disappointingly enough, I can't see what she's talking about.

“What aren't we looking for?' I whisper.

“That guy that just came in? That's Nomiya. I really don't want to deal with him right now,” she says. “The old art director,” she adds to clarify. I vaguely recall him. He was overweight with hair so white it was silver and a creepy smile.

I look again to try and see how he's doing these days. There's only person in his age group I can see is a lanky skeleton of a man in a bad toupee. He looks like he died weeks ago and somebody forgot to tell him. “That's Nomiya?” I ask.

“Yes,” Misha switches over to sign language. She obviously doesn't want to be overheard.

“He's aged rather poorly,” I sign back trying to make things sound as polite as possible. I know I'm not the one who should talk.

“Cancer,” Misha signs to me. Now I feel bad for mocking him.

“That would explain the weight loss,” I reply. I watch as the almost skeletal and nearly bald Nomiya pays and leaves with a large brown paper bag. Misha audibly sighs in relief as he leaves.

“Sorry. I just … “Misha stops and plays with her food a bit before continuing. “I know I'm around disabled people all the time and it shouldn't get to me, but I really dislike seeing somebody I used to know waste away so badly.” I can understand this.

“That's no excuse for the hairpiece though. I'm not sure the blind classes would be fooled by that thing?” I joke trying to lighten the mood back up. Misha smiles widely and bursts into laughter.

“Thanks, I really needed that. You always were good at lightening the mood,” she says to me. It's a lie, but I take it. I used to be rather depressing.

“What's he even still doing around here,” I ask. “Shouldn't he be retired by now?”

“He's retired from teaching, but he's stuck around as part of the Yamaku Foundation staff. He does do a little substitute teaching here and there as well, but not much,” Misha explains to me. Honestly, I don't really remember much about the guy. There's only some vague bits floating around my memories, most of them second hand stories about him. I'm not sure if we ever interacted at all. Because of this, I really have no interest in hearing about him, so I move the conversation on to another topic.

"Anyway, there's one more thing I wanted to ask since I've got your attention. My sign language is a bit rusty--"

"You seemed to be doing pretty good in class," Misha says. She takes a sip out of her glass. When she finds it already finished, she rolls her eyes a bit and instead just crushes one of the ice cubes between her teeth, chewing on it. "...but ask away" she says with a mouth full of partially chewed ice.

“I want to make sure this means what I think it means.” I make a few quick gestures with my hands. "This means …"

"I quit," she says.

"hmm… I was going for 'I surrender' or 'I forfeit'." There's still a small piece of pie on my plate. I stab it with my fork but really don't feel like eating anymore. I just hate wasting food.

"It could be interpreted as that." She shrugs slightly.

"I just want to make sure I get what I'm saying one hundred percent right," I swallow down the last piece of my pie. I'm more than full at this point.

"Maybe you should spell it out." Misha says swirling her fork around the small fragments of food left on her plate until it becomes a indistinguishable goo. I nod, taking that into consideration.

My cellphone ring interrupting our conversation. I hesitate to answer it at first. There were too many people that want to talk to me that I don't want to speak to. I suppose I could look at the ID before I answer, but for some reason I never do.

"Go ahead," Misha urges me.

"Nakai." I say hitting the button to answer it.

"Just making sure you were still alive, boss," the voice on the other end says.

"I'm fine. Just catching up with an old friend," I say back to him, my mood lightened. . "Just keep doing what you're doing, Kenshiro." He makes a clicking sound with his voice telling me he gets the message and hangs up.

"Who's Kenshiro?" Misha asks curiously.

"He's my 'you'." I say. She looks at me strangely. "You like you were for Shizune. My personal assistant. He does a little bit of everything for me. Actually, he does a lot of everything for me. Plus the guy is quite literally a genius. He had degrees by the time he was eighteen."

"I was not a personal assistant. I was just trying to help,” she says managing to go from slightly offended to slightly embarrassed in seconds.

“Sorry,” I mutter.

“And what's a guy like that doing working for you?"

"I've know the guy since he was a little kid," I tell her.

There's a bit more chatter between us, but at this point, we've both talked about everything we really care to talk about, so the noise is mostly just there to fill the silence.

Eventually, Misha looks down at her watch and yawns. "I suppose I need to get going now. I've got tests that aren't going to grade themselves." She drags herself to her feet and for the first time, I notice how long we've actually been here. "Try not to wait so long between visits next time," she says, putting on a false front of having more energy left than she does. Somewhere along the lines that boundless bundle of energy and enthusiasm got old on me.

"I'll try to keep in touch," I tell her. I'm not sure how truthful my statement is, but it's what we both want to hear at the moment.

"Oh, one last thing, Hisao. Take it from somebody that's made some really horrible choices when it comes to personal appearance, that beard doesn't suit you." She follows up her bit of advice with a hardy laugh.

"Really? I thought it helped me looked distinguished." I run my hands across my face.

"The gray hair make you look distinguished. The beard just looks ratty." There's a playful tone in her voice again.

"I'll make a note of that," I say with a smile. Misha leaves and I take the last sip of my drink. As the bill arrives, I pull out a single coin and flip it.

Misha wins. Next time we meet, I pay for that meal too.
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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Feurox » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:13 am

A nice update Odd. Thoroughly interesting seeing the somewhat now subdued Misha, and if anything, the more animated Hisao. It’s a pretty fitting contrast.

Seems we’ve confirmed that Shizune is Hisao’s past lover from Yamaku at least, so it’ll be interesting to see their reunion. Also, love that you’ve taken a more grounded approach with the staff, Nomiya is getting on, Mutou has gone... its real, real and sad.

(Also, I always assumed that the Shanghai has a chef and Yuuko just fetched orders and made coffee?) Doesn’t matter much, just wondered.

Thanks for the update!

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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Dec 08, 2019 1:05 pm

Good writing as always, though I still don't quite understand what Hisao is planning to do here...
"I have something big coming up and, well, I wanted to see all the people that made it possible I suppose."
I thought he might be talking about organizing a reunion, but that doesn't seem to be the case...

Also while skimming over chapter one to remind myself what this was about I remembered this interesting video about the poem you mentioned.
Hope you find it interesting as well.
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: The Sands of Time

Post by Hacksorus » Thu Dec 26, 2019 3:00 am

It's always a treat to stop by the forums for the first time in a few months and find one of my favorite authors on here with something new. I don't know what you have planned but I'm enjoying it.
I'm going to hazard a guess and say that the concept of returning to Yamaku and its characters years later, reflecting on how so much has changed, is something that may have been inspired by the real life time that has passed for us since the release of KS. That's a feeling that this has invoked in me, in any case. Maybe I should try coming here when I'm not already in a sentimental mood sometime :lol:

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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Oddball » Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:04 pm

Chapter 3

There's a man leaning against my car. I approach him slowly. I don't do anything fast these days. You could say my heart just isn't in it anymore, but only if you had a morbid sense of humor. He's wearing worn out combat boots, army style camouflage pants, and a faded baggy t-shirt. Several gold earrings dangle from one ear. What stands out most is his jacket, a designer label sports coat with the sleeves torn off. As if to further mock the business attire, he had a tie loosely hanging around his neck. He looks like he's part of a street gang that kidnapped some karate guys girlfriend.

“Hey, old man.” He says it casually while glaring at me like he's daring me to acknowledge him. I take the bait.

Hey, yourself,” I say. “Nice jacket.”

“I dress to impress,” he smiles at me.

“It's does leave an impression,” I say. He smiles and nods. “That wasn't quite what I meant when I said you should wear a jacket and tie to work though,” I prod.

He shrugs and bends down to look himself over in the rear view mirror of the car and touches up his hair. “Like you're one to talk with those hideous Hawaiian shirts of yours.”

“I'm the artist, I get to be eccentric,” I say. “You're the assistant. You're supposed to be all buisness.”

“I'll have you know, this was a very expensive jacket,” he says, spinning around to show me all sides of it. It looks like he's added a symbol of some kind to the back with spray paint. It takes me a minute to realize that it's a highly stylized version of his name. “There's no point using a cheap jacket. It lacks style.” He does have a point there.

I'm not going to get any further in this conversation. We have similar discussions like this every few days. It's a little game we play. In a way, it's rather comforting to know that he'll listen to whatever advice I give him and still find a way to turn it completely on it's head. When I don't continue the conversation about the jacket, he takes that as a win for today and opens the car door for me. “You're chariot awaits, boss.”

Several heart attacks ago I decided that being behind the wheel of an automobile wasn't the safest thing for me or those around me. Kenshiro seemed eager to add 'driver' to his workload, so it all worked out. I can guarantee nobody else has a chauffeur and personal assistant quite like him. If nothing else, it provides me another weapon to use against the stuffed shirts that I have to work with more often than I'd like. Anything that makes people like that uncomfortable gives me an edge.

Kenshiro opens the cooler that sits on the passengers seat. "Dr. Pepper for me," he says pulling out a can. "Orange juice?"

"Grape," I tell him. He pulls out another can and hands it to me.

"Music?" he asks reaching for the CD player.

"Your choice," I say.

"Transform car into giant robot?"

"Let's do it," I say in a deadpan tone. He puts the car into drive and pulls out of the parking lot.

"You forgot the giant robot part," I say sounding as serious as possible.

"Sorry. That car is in the shop," he says. I'm wondering exactly how long we can keep the game going. I pop a few pills for my heart, wash it down with some juice, and lean back against expensive leather.

When I told him that I needed to see them all again, Kenshiro took to action. He put together the entire plan, tracked them down, and spaced it out to keep the stress down giving me a rest period between each one. It had been a long time since I'd seen most of them, but they were never exactly gone from my life.

The radio blared a song called "Girls," and I chuckle. I didn't have to see him to know there was a smirk on his face. He loves his little jokes. It was one of those things that makes having a personal assistant not so bad. Like so many other people I've surrounded myself with over the years, he was a character in every sense of the word. I don't think could put up with a plain suit and tie wearing yes-man, or a nurse maid that babied me. Kenshiro takes good care of me and keeps me on my toes. "Just remember the giant robot for next time. That's what I pay you for isn't it? Piloting a giant robot?"

"That and other things." A manila folder, stuffed with papers and photos flies across the seat nearly missing my lap. "details, photos, everything you need," he said.

“That's just creepy,” I say. “Sometimes you really remind me of a certain guy I used to go to school with.”

“I know all about your school friends,” he says.

“I suppose.”

“So does everybody,” he adds.

“I just meant that all I really needed was the address and a time when she would be home.” It's scary that he was able to put this together so quick, or even that he thought he needed to.

“It's been a long time. I thought you might want to know what she's been doing all these years.”

"I can play it by ear," I tell him, putting them folder down on the seat without looking through it. "Unless there's any big surprises I need to know about."

“All that fact finding for nothing. Tsk Tsk.” Kenshiro laughs. “You'll be happy to know she's remarkably normal," he pauses for a second and then adds "at least as normal as any of your crowd gets."

I stop for a moment, close my eyes and think, trying to remember her the best I can. The problem is, I'm having a hard time sorting out what I actually knew about her and the stuff I made up for my stories. Short, energetic personality, track star, … I know she didn't have a dad, never did find out why. I'm pretty sure I didn't find out about him until after graduation. ... did I meet her mom ever? … I did meet her mom once, that was at some school function I think.

A short while and some annoying English music later, we arrive at a rather nondescript house in the suburbs. I stumble out of the car and prop myself back up on my cane.

"You sure you're up for this?"

"No. Not really," I say.

"Man's gotta do?" he asks.

"Man's gotta do," I repeat in agreement. “Just circle the block. If I'm still standing here when you get back, she's either not home or doesn't want to talk to me.” I tell him.

“And if you're laying unconscious on the pavement steal your pants and call the tabloids. I got it,” Kenshiro replies.

“Good man. Give them something to talk about,” I say as I grab a few gifts I've picked out for the occasion and knock on the door. I'm greeted promptly by a short young woman in a wheelchair with light brown hair and legs that end just past the knees. I gave her a wide smile. She just sat their dumbfounded for a second before she's able to respond.

“Hisao! Oh. Sorry sorry. Am I supposed to call you Mr. Nakai? Wow! It's been ages. She says gleefully. “Come close and let me give you a hug!” I start to say 'who could resist an offer like that,' but don't have the chance before she grabs me. Then I quickly reconsider. She's got a hold like somebody crossbred a vise-grip with a professional wrestler. It's a good thing we never dated in school because I think she would have killed me back then.

“I still need to breath,” I gasp.

“Right, sorry,” she says. I help her regain her balance and get back into her chair.

“I wasn't sure how you'd react after so long. I guess I worried about nothing.”

“You did. Now come in, Mr. Nakai! Let me show you my place!” she exclaims, and wheels herself out of the way of the door. She's not wearing her legs and her hair isn't in the familiar pigtails of her high school years, in fact, I think her hair has got darker as she's gotten older, but the youthfulness and enthusiasm is unmistakable. I may have aged before my time, but she's the exact opposite. She's easily a decade younger looking than she should be.

“It's Hisao. You know me well enough for that,” I say. She half mumbles, half blurts out something that vaguely sounds like “if you insist”.

Inside, her home is neat and well organized with a slight nautical theme to the decorations. Pictures of Emi along with a man I'm assuming to be her husband and three children that couldn't be anything but hers are scattered around taking up spaces on the walls and the mantle. On one wall is a small rack contain various medals, but a slight layer of dust and a stray cobweb tell me they haven't been touched for a while time.

“Nice place you have here,” I say before realizing how corny something like that sounds. “I don't mean to sound cliche. I really do like it. It's got personality.”

“Personality is a good way of putting it. There isn't a person in the world that could keep a house immaculate with three children running around it,” Emi says.

“Running? Do they ...” I don't even feel I need to complete the sentence for my thoughts to come across.

“Sakura, my second oldest sometimes comes out with me, but the other two I couldn't make if I tried. Buncha' slackers,” she laughs.

“I suppose they get that from their father,” I say.

“Maybe,” she says quickly and with a tone that sounds at least partially guilty. I return a slightly accusing look. “Anyway … wow. I mean … I haven't seen you in forever. Why the surprise visit?”

“You're not just trying to change the subject are you?” I ask.

“I am,” she says smugly, “but if you don't want to get to that point just yet, then you could at least give me those presents. I assume they're for me, right?” I hand them over to her and she tears into the first package like a mad dog. “A book,” she says plainly before looking at it closer. “My book!” she add with more enthusiasm when she realizes this is the one that was based loosely on her.

“It's autographed too,” I add.

She flips open the cover, looks at the autograph, and quickly moves on to the next package and tears it open with every bit as much energy and excitement. This time she laughs out loud. “This is perfect! This is just perfect!” she exclaims. She holds up a doll
of her character. However, this particular one has her actual hair color and the colors of the Yamaku uniform rather than the colors used in my work. The regular versions haven't even hit shelves yet.

“It talks too,” I say taking the doll from her and giving it a squeeze.

“You can Do it! I believe in you!” the doll says.

“I don't sound anything like that, so … not as perfect. Like, 86% perfect. That's the best I can give you.”

“I can take that,” I say.

“You know, my kids have a huge selection of this stuff,” she says. She looks partially guilty and embarrassed for a brief moment before continuing “Well, actually I do,” she finally adds with a blush. “You have no idea how surprised I was when I first found out about all this. My kids were watching TV and they just suddenly called out, “Mom you're in this the cartoon! I got in there and saw a pig-tailed girl with running blades on and thought that it was a fun little coincidence, until they actually called her Emi. Then she had an armless friend named Rin and I was hooked.”

“How is the cartoon the first you heard of it?” I ask perplexed.

“I don't read much, I guess,” she says. “At least I didn't back then. I mean, I read all your stuff now.”

“I distinctly remember sending you a check and a letter asking for permission for your likeness,” I say. I'd already started the books at that point, but I hadn't branched out into the manga field yet.

“Sorry. That's not ringing any bells,” she says.

“You signed your permission and sent it back to me,” I reply.

“Yeah, I probably just thought that was some Yamaku thing and didn't read it.” I stare blankly at her not knowing what to think. “Now that you mention it, I do kinda remember a big check, ” she replies sheepishly. “So that's what that was about...”

I sigh. “I know some lawyers that would have a field day with you.”

“Whatever. It all worked out anyway,” she laughs and I can't help but smile. It feels like she's able to shoot positive vibes right into a person. “It's not like I just randomly show up at a person's house after not talking to them for a bazillion years.” That stung. Sometimes I feel I spend so much time with my fictional friends that I forget I ever had real ones. “So, what's up with that? And the cane? And the lack of beard? You're looking a lot different than the last time I saw you on TV.”

“I thought it was time for a change so I shaved,” I start.

“I miss the beard. You looked great with a beard,” she says.

“I miss the pig-tails,” I reply.

“Twin-tails,” she corrects me. “There's nothing pig-like about them. Also ... wow, I haven't worn those in literally forever.”


“If it makes you happy, Rei, my youngest daughter wears her hair that way. I can show you pictures later.” She stops dead after her statement and looks at me guiltily. “I'm sorry.”

“It's okay,” I say. If she's been keeping track of me, then she knows my history.

“So, the next question is the cane,” she changes the subject. “I don't remember you using a cane from any of the stuff I've seen on you,” she points out.

“I've been using it since the last time I got out of the hospital. I've lost some feeling in my legs.” I smile letting her know that this isn't a sensitive topic for me. “You know how it is.”

“Yeah, I couldn't tell you when the last time I could feel my legs,” She smiles and I just know she going to keep pushing the bad jokes. “I wonder what happened to them,” she grins back at me and chuckles a bit softly. “Did you know Rin once asked me if they brought my legs in to say goodbye to me after they cut them off or if they had a funeral for just my legs?”

“Bye, legs. I'll miss you,” I say in my best high pitched girls voice.

“More like, 'Hey, bring those back. I'm not done with them yet!” she says. We both have a nice hardy laugh about that and I insist that as some point that's line is going into one of my stories.

Then I feel that old familiar pain again that spoils everything.

"Hey, hey! You alright?" she asks. It takes a few minutes before I can regain my composure. "You're not going to die on me or anything are you?" she asks again when it's obvious that I'm breathing normally again. At some point she went to get a ice water and hands it too me. Nothing ever tasted so good.

"I'll be okay," I say. It's more of a reflexive action than a statement. When I realize what I'd told her I stop myself. "Actually, that's a lie."

Emi pulls a small wicker chair up beside me and sits down. "Do you need help? Anything I can do?" There's a pause while she looks me over. "Is that why you're visiting?"

"Yeah," I feel ashamed to say it.

"So, you're dying and you wanted to come see everybody again?" she says matter-of-factly.

"Last time I talked to the doctors about it, they told me I had a year left to live if I kept at my current pace." Her face goes deadly pale at the news, which is when I smile at her with the second part. "That was more than five years ago. I've cleaned up my act since then," I add with a grin.

"Asshole," she laughs and hits me with a nearby pillow from the couch. Her laughter isn't quite as sincere this time. "Seriously though, are you going to be okay?"

"Depends on if you ask me or the doctors. Personally, I don't trust doctors," when I say this, she bites her lips. It seems like she weighing that words in her mind to determine whether she agrees with them or not.

"I think that generally they know what they're talking about, but that doesn't mean you can't still surprise them and do better than they expect." She finally comes out and says. “Seriously, listen to them. It's okay to need help. If I had figured that out a decade or two sooner, I would have saved everybody I know a world of grief,” she says.

"I get by and I get help when I need it. I have a good decade or two left in me. It's just a gut feeling, but I've learned to trust those." Saying it out loud, it sounds really depressing.

"Well, If that's what you have, you should make the best of it!" She says with more of a cheerful tone than I had expected. "And don't do anything stupid. If you go and do something stupid and get yourself killed, I'm going to b really mad at you." Time and age has taken away the effectiveness of her angry pouts, but they're still rather adorable.

"How could I live with myself if I died and made you mad?" I say in mock defense.

"That's ri-HEY!" Emi catches herself mid-statement and gives me the angry pout again. God, I've missed stuff like this. It makes me feel like a kid again.

That's how the rest of the afternoon goes. We sit around, talking, laughing, catching up on old times, and telling stories. I told her of my plans for a little reunion and she seemed ecstatic about it further commenting that she hasn't seen any of the old gang since high school ended. Eventually though, I'm reminded that she's still a housewife and does have things she needs to do today that don't involve me.

“It's been nice seeing you again. I'll try to keep in touch better and send you more details about our reunion when I have them.” After several hours of snacks and chatting, it's finally time for me to go. I'd rather get out of here before her husband and children come back as well. Nothing against them, they just aren't part of my world the same way Emi was.

“Hisao, I know you said you're okay, but if you're dying don't do anything stupid.” The bluntness of her statement throws me off guard for a moment and I don't have anything to in say in response. “I'm sorry. This whole thing just feels like somebody's last wishes or something dumb like that,” she says.

"I might not be in the shape I used to be, but don't worry about me. I plan on living forever." There's a slight chuckle from her.

She must think I'm joking.
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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Feurox » Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:04 am

Thoroughly interesting, and I’m loving the dark under currents of this story. The realism is particularly appreciated, you’re showing lots of restraint here and it’s really serving the story.

Also, Hisao’s daughter mystery hm? This story has a lot of crinkles.

I look forward to more, well done!

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Re: The Sands of Time

Post by Razoredge » Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:09 am

Oddball, your writing is excellent, I have to say. It's always enjoyable to read your writing. Sometimes, I need some time to be able to understand one or two sentences, but overall, it's great. Besides, I really like the fact that you took the titles of the songs of the OST to name every chapter, it's a good catch for me.

I will await your updates with impatience, because I really like what you offer to us. A story with shadow parts, written like this, is ALWAYS enjoyable.
Lilly = Akira > Miki = Hanako > Emi > Rin > Shizune

Stuff I'm currently writing : Beyond the haze : A Lilly Satou pseudo-route, Lullaby of an open heart : A Saki pseudo-route & Sakura Blossom : A way with Hisao

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