Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/2/21)

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CirnouliK
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Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2021 2:07 pm

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/12/20)

Post by CirnouliK » Sat Feb 06, 2021 5:55 am

I just wanna say semi-quickly before I hit the sack that this story's making me incredibly happy. It's well-written, Akira is really good so far, the OCs are interesting and funny, and the whole atmosphere makes it feel pretty surreal.

I like it. A lot. Please keep up the great work...!
Shizune=Misha>Emi>Hanako>Lilly>Rin
Just another internet drifter that likes cute girls with short blue hair, and glasses, that are deaf-mute.

Currently Writing:
God's Gift to Yamaku (An OC-centric Psuedo Route)

MoashLannister
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 11:19 pm

Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 15/12/20)

Post by MoashLannister » Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:27 am

Chapter 7

I feel a chill breeze as I move down the streets, and for a split second I think I see my own breath. It makes sense, considering autumn is coming to an end, with winter just on the horizon. The dropping temperature is just one of the many ways that the passage of time reminds us of its existence.

Much as I’d like to ignore it at the moment.

Walking past a building with a metal plated wall, I take a look at myself. Adjust my hair, brush some imaginary dust from my shoulders, wondering why I’m feeling so nervous. All pointless things, as my hair isn’t a mess, there’s no actual dust on my shoulders, and I know exactly why I’m feeling so nervous.

I take a look at my watch and realize that it’s almost time. Picking up the pace, my slow walk turns into a brisk jog. Both my body and mind are at odds with one another, as if it’s two separate entities fighting for control. A part of me wants to get this over with as soon as possible, the other wants me to make it last for as long as I’m able.

Perhaps I should study the theory of opposing forces in physics next. I’ve certainly been accustomed to such conflicts in recent days, so it’ll probably be easy. Certainly easier than getting through tonight.

I cross the street and finally reach my destination, a large office building not unlike the one I work at. On the large sign right outside its large entrance are the words “Satou Conglomerate Building” fashioned from stainless steel, making a rather imposing reminder of just how powerful the name is.

The implication that their family was wealthy and powerful was always there, but this sign seems to finally drive that point home to me. As far as social status is concerned, I’m a peasant and they’re royalty.

People are currently exiting the building, all of them wearing suits and carrying briefcases. Some stare at me as they pass by and give me a disapproving look, though most treat me as if I’m not even there. Among the crowd I see a tuft of blond hair stand out amongst the others and move towards it, hoping that it’s her.

Eventually, that hope is confirmed as I see the ever familiar black suit and hairstyle.

She’s facing away from me, talking to someone else from the look of things. He’s wearing a suit and tie just like everyone else, though his face makes him look younger in comparison to most of the people here. His expression is a stern one, his eyes sharp and suspicious.

As I get closer, I manage to tune in on what they’re saying. The man pays no heed to me, his eyes fixed solely on Akira. “I’m just doing what I need to," he says calmly, though there is little friendliness in his tone. “I’ve got a house and a car to pay for. Not all of us can get by on family connections alone, Aki.”

I stop at that statement, mostly for how his tone suddenly turns from calm to almost cruel in its harshness. Akira seems to take it even worse, as I can actually see her hands clenching.

“How can you say that?” she demands, her voice soft but fierce. I hear her take a deep breath before continuing. “After all we’ve been through, I was hoping that…”

“That what? I’d treat you any differently from the rest of them? Because we happened to be lovers at one point?” he says, scoffing. Crossing his arms, he lets his anger and contempt show on his face. ‘You’re the one who left, remember? I was willing to work things out, you weren’t. Said that it was pointless to go on and left for another country the next day. Any of those things ringing a bell?”

Now Akira isn’t the only one clenching her fists, as I realize that I’m clenching mine as well. I try my best to look away from that mysterious man, knowing that the sight of his face will just make my sudden feeling of anger even worse.

I almost want to cover my ears, or to shout aloud, whatever will make that conversation stop in its tracks. But I do nothing but stay still, not knowing what I should do. It seems that I never know what to do in matters like these, either due to cowardice, indecision, or a simple lack of experience in these kinds of situations.

Regardless of the reason, I can’t bring myself to do anything, and I hate it.

“Fuji…” I hear Akira say, her voice visibly cracking either from anger or pain. Perhaps both. “I know I was wrong, all right? Is that what you want me to say? I was wrong to just cut you out of my life so suddenly. I’m sorry…”

“I know you are,” the man named Fuji responds with a sigh, his hostile tone slipping just a bit. “But what’s done is done. You choose to end things the way they did, and you gave me no say in it. That doesn’t go away just because you’re regretting it now. If anything, it makes it even harder to talk to you right now.”

“I…” Akira says nothing further, and straightens up a little. “I guess that’s how things have to be.”

Her cold tone is met with an even colder stare from Fuji, who’s expression seems to harden right back up. “Then we have nothing further to discuss, Aki. We had...good times," he says, without mirth or sympathy. “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye. It’s been fun, Fuji," she says, her voice dull and void of anything resembling the Akira I’m familiar with. With that final word, the man walks away without so much as passing me a glance, just like the rest of them. As for Akira…

Well, she turns around and I finally get to see her face, which is a disaster in both the physical and emotional sense. Her hair is extremely disheveled, her eyes extremely tired, with very noticeable black circles surrounding them.

What distresses me the most is that she isn’t even trying to hide how much pain she’s in. She looks like she’s crying without tears, just barely holding it all in. I can only imagine the hell she’s been through in the last twenty-four hours, and even that imagination might be an understatement compared to the actual reality of it.

She looks at me for a split second, as if to see I’m really there. Right now, we’re two people standing still amidst a tide of people coming and going, passing us by without a thought. The only person who acknowledges our existence is each other. We’re the only ones here that cares about our pains and joys, our struggles and our victories.

But like the people passing us by, our separation is merely a matter of time. What value will that acknowledgement mean once it happens?

Akira slowly walks up to me, and despite all odds, actually cracks a bit of a smile. “So, you saw that, huh? Probably heard it too?”

“Yeah…” I admit. “The tail end of it, anyways.”

“Well, then you’ve heard more than enough to know what happened," she says, trying to brush it off. Giving my face a hard look, she gives an approving nod. “Glad to know one of us is dressed up for the occasion.”

“I dunno, I think I might have overdressed.” I respond, my brain firing on all cylinders to try and make this easier on her, to make her not think about anything other than the night ahead of us. “Besides, you don’t look that bad.”

“Nice try, big guy,” Akira retorts as she motions to a sidewalk across the street, indicating that that’s where she wants to go. “I look like garbage and we both know it. A night at the office will do that to anyone.”

“I still think you look nice," I say defensively as we walk, finally joining the tide of people walking about. I’m not lying either, as her smile still looks radiant despite her obvious fatigue. After the conversation with her former boyfriend, I know the smile is mostly for my sake, and that makes it all the more valuable to me.

She doesn’t respond to my quip, instead taking my hand in hers and squeezing it lightly. The act surprises me, but I squeeze back as a sign of approval. Feeling the soft skin of her hand on mine makes me happy, I confess. But also a little more anxious than I already am.

Feeling like this is as good a time as any, I pull out a can of beer and hand it to her. I wasn’t sure what brand she liked, so I picked one at random. She takes a look at the can and grabs it, raising an eyebrow. “Honestly, I was wondering if you’ve forgotten.”

“Why would I?” I say as we continue down the street, hand in hand with no destination in mind.

“Well, it’s been quite a day, so I’m honestly surprised I haven't forgotten,” she says before opening the can and downing the beer desperately, as if she’d been deprived of water for an entire day.

“I like to keep my promises," I say after she’s done chugging down the entire can, subsequently throwing it down the nearest trash can. “Besides, I know you’ve had a rough day. Figured you might need a little break.”

I try to move forward, but found myself being tugged back. Akira stands still and looks at me, her penetrating gaze seeming to indicate...something, but I’m not sure what. After a moment, she lets out what might be the most grateful smile I’ve seen from her. At least our last night is starting out well.

“You really are sweet, you know that?” she says, her confident voice offsetting how unusually insecure she looks right now. “Well, sweet in comparison to all the other people I have to deal with, but still...thank you. I…”

She says nothing more and breaks away from me slightly, my hand immediately missing her touch. She opens her mouth, but words fail to come out, which seems to frustrate her. “I…” She manages to let out, but ultimately shakes her head. “I’m sorry. God, I’m not usually like this. It’s just...I don’t really know how to put things into words. Not right now.”

“Do you want to cancel?” I ask, even as every part of my mind begs me not to ask that question. I don’t want it to end, but at the same time I don’t want her to suffer just to appease me. “If you’re too tired, I understand.”

“No. Absolutely not an option,” she responds decisively, which lifts a little weight off my chest. “It’s my last day here, and I sure as hell don’t want to spend it alone in my hotel room. I just...need a bit of time to adjust, really. Mind if we stop someplace and grab an early dinner?”

I nod, looking at my watch for a quick second. We still have time.

“Thanks," she says, and she walks away, myself trailing just behind her.

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“I guess you already know, but he was my boyfriend. We dated for a few years before...you know," she says as our bowls arrive, finally breaking the silence that she’s maintained ever since entering the restaurant. It’s a simple ramen place with not many people around, and the lack of a heater here makes this place colder than I’d prefer.

Still, the ramen is warm. Breaking our chopsticks, we eat a few bites before continuing the conversation.

“Are you really all right?” I ask after sipping on some soup. “With telling me about this, I mean.”

“Well, who else am I going to tell? There’s certainly no one else I’d trust with this stuff," she grumbles as she grabs the mug of beer she’d ordered and downs it with a big gulp. “Besides, you said you didn’t mind hearing me bitch. Finally turning back on that stance?”

“No,” I respond firmly, which she seems to appreciate. “Fire away.”

“Right, where to begin," she says, looking wistful. “Well, we met shortly after I got my first job at the company. When I was still considered ‘that girl with the very powerful father,’ even more than I am now if you can believe it. Fuji was the only one who really treated me like a regular person, which really meant he was the only one who didn't suck up to me or treat me like dirt.”

“One thing led to another, and we started seeing each other for more than just ‘mandated company gatherings,’ if you catch my drift...” She trails off slightly, her face looking pained despite her nostalgic smirk. “It was really fun, all in all. We’d go out to movies, eat at fancy restaurants, wake up next to each other, and do all that sappy stuff couples do.”

Despite knowing how they ended, I can’t help but feel a pang of envy for “all that sappy stuff” they got to do.

She doesn’t say anything after that, content with letting the awkward implications be left unsaid as she eats her ramen. I follow suit, eating while suppressing my urge to say what I really want to say. Besides, I’m more familiar with why they’re no longer on good terms, even if I hadn't eavesdropped on them.

In hindsight, I feel as if I should sympathize with Fuji more than I do Akira. After all, she’s the one who left him without letting him weigh in on the matter, or even the opportunity to say a proper goodbye, from the looks of things. At least Lilly granted me that much, even if it did little to ease the feeling of abandonment.

Am I a massive hypocrite for siding with her despite knowing that logically, I shouldn’t?

“Anyways, that bridge has burnt down now," she says after finishing her bowl, reaching for her mug only to sigh when she realizes that there isn’t any beer left in it.

“I wasn’t exactly hoping for a do-over, but...I don’t know, something different from all the shit I’ve been given in my life recently. But it seems he’s fine treating me how almost everyone else does nowadays, either a tolerable enemy or a begrudging tool to have around. And all because I’m a Satou, and not because I’m Akira. Jeez, hate me for who I am for a change...”

“I…” I want to say something to comfort her, but can’t find the words.

“The worst thing is, I can’t even say he’s wrong,” she continues after waving for another beer. She slumps down pathetically on the counter. “I’m the one who ended it the way it did, so I guess it’s just karma that he’s treating me like this.”

Her beer arrives, which she immediately raises to her lips. Afterwards, she puts the glass down and looks me straight in the eye, gazing at me as if she’s looking for some sort of forgiveness. “Honestly, some days I wonder if it’s just me. That I’m the one in the wrong for everything. That underneath it all, I'm just a terrible person for being so bitter at everyone in my life.”

“You aren’t,” I respond immediately, surprising both of us with how loud I am. Even the waiters are giving me a look.

Akira ignores how loud I am, instead letting out a bitter chuckle as she looks down at the table. “How can you be so sure?” she asks, her voice insecure. “You know, I’ve only told you what I wanted to tell you. How would you know if I wasn’t making things to be far worse than they actually are? How can you be sure that I’m not just complaining about what I have instead of being grateful for them?”

“Because…” I start to answer before stopping to really think about it. This isn’t something I can answer impulsively; it requires a calm and logical answer, as most things should. With a deep breath, I continue. “I don’t know, alright. I can’t give you a definite answer, but all I know is this. Looking at how miserable you are right now, and after all the time I’ve spent with you, you aren’t a horrible person. I just...know, alright?”

Good work, Hisao. That came out just like I wanted it to. Insult her to cheer her up, then give an answer that doesn’t actually answer anything. Perfectly sound logic.

Miraculously, I manage to make her laugh, which is worth the embarrassment of giving such a weak answer. “Wow. Not your best line there, big guy," she says, adding some levity to the heavy atmosphere. “Seriously though, way to rag on how I’m looking right now. What happened to ‘You still look nice?’”

“I’m serious," I say, trying to reaffirm my answer. “Whoever or whatever is putting you through so much suffering, enough to make you look so…” I cut myself off in order not to use any word that might dig myself deeper into this mess. “You don’t deserve to be put through all that.”

“Well, I’ve learned in this world that the word ‘deserve’ really doesn’t apply to anything," Akira says as she slumps down in the chair. “Still, thanks for trying. I appreciate it.”

I look down a little in defeat, my reasoning unable to sway her cynicism. We stay silent for a good while, many people entering and exiting the place as we wait for...nothing, really. Just the passage of time and the courage to finally break this uncomfortable stalemate, considering it’s about the only uncomfortable thing that’s able to be broken.

“Will you be coming back here?” I ask suddenly. The question isn’t what I really want to break the silence, but ever since this morning, my unease about her departure continues to fester to the point where asking it is a matter of sooner rather than later.

Akira eyes me curiously and shrugs. “Don’t know," she says casually, the lack of worry in her voice dampening my hope a little. “I’ve messed things up pretty badly, as far as the Japanese branch is concerned, so they might decide to lock me up in Inverness for the rest of the foreseeable future.”

“Oh.” I try not to let my anxiety show. Looking at my watch tells me it’s seven, my time with her diminishing bit by bit, like sand in an hourglass. In spite of that, we still have time. “So, what do you want to do tonight?”

“Honestly, I can’t tell you," she says, sighing as her posture droops even further. “I can tell you I want to visit a kabuki show, or a jazz club, or maybe even see a live play or two, but I think that’d make things harder for me.”

“Harder?” I ask as I fiddle around with my chopsticks, feeling eager to head out somewhere. Where, exactly, I don’t really know.

“Yeah, just reminding me of all the stuff I wanted to do back in the day," she says, her voice a mix of nostalgia and anger. “I told you I wanted to be an actor, right?”

“Yeah. But then something happened and you had to give it up.” That memory was easy to recall. Funny how I remember events of the previous week with ease, while having absolutely no real recollection of the days, or even weeks, that came before. Before Akira.

“That was my main passion. Back when I had those, not so long ago.” She gets up from the table and stretches. “Let’s bail. We can talk on the way…”

I get up too, pulling out my wallet and placing some cash onto the table. “On the way where?”

She moves ahead of me, and I catch up with her, still uncertain about where this night is heading. “Who knows? All I know is that you’re the only person who makes me feel as if not everything is going wrong in my life, if only a little bit. Mind making me feel that way for a few more hours?”

I’m still slightly behind her as we exit the ramen place, so I can’t see her face. Still, I don’t think I need to. She’s conveyed what she wants out of me, a simple yet urgent request.

I push my feelings of worry to the side, along with all the things I wish to say to her. We still have a little while longer, so hopefully there’s no need to rush. Picking up my pace to match hers, I give a reassuring nod and a smile in response.

For perhaps the first time, and hopefully not the last, she flashes me a smile that completely radiates through her dispirited demeanor.

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We make our way through this street or that, mirroring our first night out together. No set course, with little idea of where to go next. Perhaps it’s symbolic of where we’re currently at at this juncture, me with her departure and her with...well, life in general. Or perhaps I’m simply drawing connections that aren’t there.

We stop and listen to a street musician for a few minutes. “You said you had other passions?” I ask, as we continue our walk. That’s been the pattern even since we left the ramen place, a constant stop-and-go to anything that catches our interest. Momentary waystops to an unknown destination.

There are a few differences between this outing and the one before, mostly in terms of atmosphere. In the past, there was a sense of...detachment concerning that night, an acknowledgement that it was temporary and should be treated as such.

Tonight is a different matter, though at first glance it seems to be similar. But underneath the superficial peace is a hidden sense of...something. Fear of it ending? An understanding that this might be the last time we’ll ever see each other? Embracing what little relief this night would offer?

I can’t exactly pin it down, but it’s definitely something that both of us notice as we continue along, considering that our bodies are closer than they were the last time, and Akira would occasionally sneak a touch of my hand or glance at me with a pained smile for no reason at all.

Not exactly the most intimate of gestures, but enough to make me guess at her intentions, which simply adds another layer of confusion.

“Yeah, I wanted to do all sorts of things when I was younger," she says with a smile, her expression slowing turning back into her usual expression of confident nonchalance. “Though I guess they all had to do with acting in some form or fashion. Singing, dancing, a music instrument here or there.”

“Seems like you’re pretty multi-talented,” I compliment her as we cross another street, our back and forth slower than usual. Sometimes minutes would pass by before a response is given. Then again, everything seems to feel slower tonight, from the people surrounding us to the changing of streetlights to even the beating of my heart. Everything seems so...sluggish.

Perhaps it’s simply my perception, my subconscious mind wanting to drag out this night as much as possible.

“Nah, I just really wanted to learn back then, but I wasn’t persistent enough to stick with them when things got hard for me,” she responds with a shrug, her words carrying a twinge of bitterness. “Follow your dreams, Hisao. If you have the freedom to do so, do it no matter how ridiculous it may be. Otherwise you’ll lose them forever.”

“Dreams, huh?” I mutter, smiling grimly. “If you can show me one, sure. Right now, I really don’t have any.”

“We all have them. It’s just a matter of what you’re willing to give up trying to get them," Akira says with a chiding voice. We stop yet again to look through the glass storefront of an antique shop. It doesn’t hold anything I would call interesting, but the sight of a shiny looking music box brings me back to some rather unfortunate memories.

“Isn’t there something you really want? Something that’ll keep you satisfied for a long while, even if it seems impossible? I’d say that’s a dream.”

Something I really want, even if it seems impossible? Well, I can think of at least one thing. But telling her that right now might be troublesome, for the both of us.

“Yeah, there’s one thing that fits that description," I say, as vague and as unemotional as I can. A part of me is disappointed that I wasn’t fully honest, the rest is glad I manage not to slip anything that might complicate things. And once again, I’m left extremely conflicted.

“Not going to tell me?” she asks curiously as we move on. My gaze lingers on that music box for just a little longer. The memory it brings reminds me of what happens if I lean too far into sentimentality and ignorant comfort.

“Maybe later," I say, leaving the door slightly open for her to pursue that line of questioning. If she decides to. A part of me hopes she does, just not right now. We still have time.

“Fine by me," she says as we turn to another street, letting out a sigh. “Care to indulge me for a bit?”

“What have I been doing for the last week then?” I retort, flashing a wry smile at her.

She returns with one of her own, laughing a bit. “Smartass. I can’t believe I still have energy to laugh like this. Guess you have that kind of effect on me.”

Her compliment probably wasn’t meant to make me blush, and yet it does. Akira doesn’t seem to notice, or maybe she chooses not to notice. “Back to what I was getting at, before being rudely interrupted.” She nudges me a little before continuing. “You can ask me anything, and I’ll answer it no matter what. No lying, being vague, or any bullshit like that. However, I get to do the same after that. Seems fair?”

“Sure," I say, nodding slightly. “Never thought you’d be so...childish?”

“Girl’s gotta have her ways of staying young. And sane.” She stops, sitting on a bench and stretching out her legs. I sit beside her, which she seems to deem the beginning of our game. “So, what’s the worst thing that your parents caught you doing?”

“My parents weren’t around for much,” I mention offhandedly, trying not to sound begrudging. “I got away with a lot of things.”

“Oh come one, one question in and you’re already dodging the topic," she says with a pout on her face, which I can’t help but find cute.

“All right, all right," I say, relenting and trying to think of a proper answer. “One time I accidentally broke dad’s baseball card case. It held all the rare cards he collected over the years, and he was pissed when he found out. Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t have a heart attack the moment he saw me. Literally, given my condition.”

“Heh, well at least you didn’t intend for it to happen. I wasn’t so kind to my old man when I was a kid.” She lets out a loud yawn. “Hey, uh...Hisao? Mind if I rest my head on your shoulder for a little while. I think my body is finally trying to tell me that I’ve been working it too damn hard.”

I’m caught off guard by her request, even more so by her unhesitant delivery. I give a slow nod, trying to act calm. That act completely fades the moment she rests her head, letting out another yawn, though this one much more relaxed. If she could see my face, and thankfully she can’t, Akira would probably tease me to no end about how much I’m blushing.

“Thanks," she says, moving her head to get a better position. “Anyways, it’s your turn.”

“What would you do if you could do anything you wanted to?” I ask simply, deciding to lean back on the bench to get some rest as well.

“Well, I definitely wouldn’t be working in my current job, that’s for sure,” she answers with a bitter laugh. “Being honest, I don’t know. The idea of doing whatever I want to is weird because I feel as if I’ve never done it before, even though I definitely did. Ain’t that a kicker?”

“Yeah,” I respond simply, then teasingly add, “That was your question, by the way.”

“Oh.” She doesn’t seem to react much to my quip, instead opting for another yawn. “Ah, whatever. Go ahead.”

“Back during our first night out together, were you really expecting it to turn out like this?” I ask, closing my eyes.

My body is really starting to feel the cold, almost as if winter’s come early this year. Perhaps I could have worn some gloves, though that would have prevented me from really feeling Akira’s hand. Opening my eyes, I only now realize that this street has barely anyone walking by, and the ones that are giving us curious glances, most likely mistaking us for a couple.

A couple, after two years of relative social isolation on my end and several years of supposed frustration on hers. Wouldn’t that be a great thing? Of course, something like that is impossible under present circumstances, even if we had those sorts of feelings.

Even if…

“Honestly…no,” she responds at last, sounding oddly guilty about that admission. “Also, I was lying when I said it might have been because of the alcohol. I don’t get drunk that easy, so sorry if you had any ideas about using alcohol to soften me up.”

“So you intended for us to go back to the hotel together?”

“That wasn’t part of the plan, really,” she continues, ignoring the fact that I asked another question. “I just wanted to do something that I wanted to for once, and not by myself. At first, I was just ready to have a normal night out with you; talking, drinking, all that crap. But then it got late and I didn’t really want the night to end, because...don’t laugh when I say this, all right?”

“I promise," I say softly, which she seems to respond with a grunt of approval, her head sliding across my shoulder to the point where it’s almost touching my cheek.

“Good, ‘cause this night is over if you do.” She giggles a bit, moving her hand onto mine. At this point, I wonder if she’s consciously doing this, or if she’s simply so tired that she doesn’t understand the implication of her actions.

“I didn’t want it to end because it was the first time in a long while that I was doing something that I decided for myself. Not because of work, not because of family, nothing like that. And well, I got carried away a bit and wanted more of that. That’s why I asked you to come back to my hotel room, the outings afterwards, you get the idea…”

“Yeah, I think I do.” Deciding to feel a little bold, I rest my head on top of hers, her soft hair on my cheek feeling oddly comforting. Akira doesn’t say anything, though she definitely does notice it.

“You don’t resent me for that?” she asks as we draw even more glances from onlookers. If we don’t seem like a couple before, we certainly do now. “In a way, I sort of used you for my own ends without even considering what you thought of it. That’s pretty horrible, when I say it out loud.”

“Well, I’m guilty of that as well,” I admit, sounding just as accepting of it as she did. “I accepted your invitation because I didn’t want to go home to an empty room with nothing to do. I didn’t really care why you wanted to go out, or even why you picked me specifically. So I guess we both used each other.”

She laughs at that, sounding bitter, amused, and sad all at the same time “Well aren’t we a couple of messed up people? I guess we deserve each other.”

Again, the choice of words. Subtle hints? Or simply me overthinking things. I don’t know, and it hurts that I don’t. If it was merely teasing, I could brush it off. But what if it isn’t?

“Maybe," I say in slight agreement, feeling drowsy. “As much as I enjoy this, we should move on. Sleeping on a bench in the middle of a street is a bad idea.”

“Wouldn’t be the first one either of us had,” she quips, though she detaches from me all the same, getting up and stretching a bit. Without turning to look at me, she asks. “How much time do we have left?”

I look at my watch, which reads 9:45. Time’s ticking away, tomorrow and what it brings inching closer…

We still have time. Hopefully.

I get up as well and imitate her stretching, releasing some of my tension. Letting out a barely audible yawn, I say offhandedly, “Almost ten. How long do you want this to go on?”

She doesn’t give a response at first, though she turns to look at me, her eyes suddenly turning serious. “I’d say it’s about time we call it quits. My legs are probably going to give out at any moment, plus I got some packing to do.” Her tone grows colder, the kind she uses when dealing things business-like. “It’s been fun, Hisao.”

While I try to keep a calm exterior, on the inside my mind is panicking. I didn’t expect her to end this suddenly, I was…

What was I expecting? That somehow this night won’t ever end? That I could just stall this forever, making small talk with her until she inevitably ends it? No, this isn’t what I want. Every meeting so far has been me going with the flow, following her lead.

If nothing else, I don’t want to conclude this so unsatisfyingly, with barely any resistance on my end. Not like the last time this sort of scenario was presented before me.

“Akira!” My voice is loud, perhaps a bit too loud as she jerks a little in response. Mercifully, she seems neither repelled nor suspicious about my sudden outburst, merely quizzical.

“I don’t want this night to be over,” I blurt out, my words coming out before I can think over them. “Not yet, anyways. So…”

I break off, my mouth refusing to speak anymore as my logical side finally catches up. What am I doing? What is this going to achieve other than giving me a few sparse hours with her, if even that. This doesn’t make any sense, it’s not going to solve anything.

And yet, I want to do this. Logic be damned, I still want to continue. Another hour, another minute, another second. Greedy and pointless it may be, but the fact remains that I want to spend more time with her.

“Want to come over to my place?”

I realize that I sound, for lack of a better term, completely pathetic. The way that I asked her was more of a pitiful half-beg than a heartfelt request. And yet she doesn’t see it as that, giving me a look of deep consideration.

“You sure?” she asks, brushing off the apparent weight of my question. And yet there’s an undertone of some hidden emotion behind her casual façade. Despite having no basis for it, I’m almost certain that it’s there.

God, what a mess I am tonight. Assuming things with no proof behind them, acting and thinking completely out of line, and even having the gall to pull off a stunt like this. No doubt any scientist would be foaming at the mouth at the level of illogical stupidity I am displaying.

But...this is what happens when someone lets their emotions take over, I suppose. And it’s not like I can back out of this now. So the only thing I can do is follow this choice to its conclusion.

I give her a quick and firm nod. She stares at me for a few more seconds before saying something, her face showing neither joy nor anger. “All right then, let’s go.”

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

Unlike last time, we decide to take the bus. At this time of night they’re mostly empty. Despite traffic being rather thin, it still feels as if we’re moving at a sluggish pace, stopping and starting despite the lack of people getting on or off.

Turning to face Akira, I see that she’s leaning on the glass, her hand on her mouth and her cold scarlet eyes completely fixated on the outside. She hasn’t said a word ever since accepting my invitation, and I feel as if I’ve asked too much of her to force her into any sort of conversation.

She’s not mad at me, I think. But I don’t think she’s looking forward to spending the night with me either, despite agreeing to it.

At last, the bus stops near my apartment. I get up and exit the vehicle, Akira following close behind, maintaining a small but noticeable distance between us. We walk a bit towards the building, silence still unbroken. It isn’t a hostile silence, or even an unwelcome one. It’s just...silence, as if neither of us has anything to say to the other that wouldn’t be meaningless small talk at this point.

I have so many things I want to say. That I almost feel that I should say, and yet at the same time I shouldn’t. If there’s any place to reveal what I’ve kept secret from her, it’ll probably be in my apartment.

After a climb up the steps, and having to deal with the unpleasant scent of burnt cigarettes multiple times along the way, we finally reach the door to my home.

Home. A concept that I’ve never given much thought of. Why would I? It’s simply the place you reside in, isn’t it?

I hesitate a little before turning back to Akira, almost as if she’s going to disappear on me. She’s there of course, and her expression is still the neutral look she’s been giving me for a while. Deciding it’s pointless to delay, I open the door and turn on the lights.

“Welcome to my apartment," I say out of politeness, but mostly to break the silence. “I think this is the first time I’ve ever said that here.”

“I can imagine,” she responds, her voice lacking her usual sarcasm. Walking in and taking a look around, she adds, “Not much of an apartment, but I suppose you’re on a tight budget.”

“Not really,” I correct, closing the door shut. “I could afford a bigger place, given the amount of money my parents give me every few months. But I didn’t see the point in having space I wasn’t going to use.”

“I suppose I can see the logic behind that," she says, while glancing at my bed, yawning. “Got a place where I can freshen up? Haven’t been in a proper bathroom for a whole day, so…”

I point to the only door in this place, besides the entrance. “There’s a sink and a shower, and I probably have a spare towel in there somewhere.”

“Thanks.” She gives me a lingering look before heading towards the bathroom, shutting the door. A few seconds later, I can hear the sounds of the shower being turned on inside there. Another small delay, but I’m used to those today.

With little to do, I place my bag on the desk and head towards the balcony. It’s a tight fit as always, though the autumn wind makes standing out here just a bit better than usual. I stare out into the night sky mindlessly, waiting for the inevitable to occur. It’s just a matter of time before she gets out, and then…

And then what? What do I even say in a situation like this, if I even say anything at all? What words can possibly give me an outcome that I’d be satisfied with? Perhaps there isn’t, and I should just enjoy these final hours with her while I can.

The noise of the shower stops, the creak of an opening door following soon after. Then Akira’ arms are wrapping around my waist, and she rests her head against my back. Her hair feels damp and her arms feel cold, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it feels nice. And distracting.

“Sorry about the wet hair," she murmurs, as if that’s the most important thing right now. “You should buy a hair dryer.”

“I’ll think about it,” I respond as she continues to embrace me.

“The view from here must be pretty nice," she says, a bit of her playfulness returning. “Too bad you’re in the way.”

“Sorry my back isn’t all that great to look at,” I quip back, despite wanting to say something more serious. Once again, she’s leading the flow of the conversation. I don’t mind, but I also know that we’re not going to get anywhere unless I try to take hold of it.

She pulls away from me, and I turn around to take a good look at her. Akira looks more composed than the messy, though still beautiful, state that she was in a few minutes prior. Her face looks sharper and her hair less messy.

More noticeably, she’s only wearing her shirt now, and her chest is more...pronounced than it was. Embarrassingly, she seems to notice as she puts a finger on my chin, lifting my face up. “Eyes up here, big guy," she says, feigning offense. “Or were you expecting them to be bigger?”

“No, I…” I cut myself off as I try not to stare. “You know, I always wondered how you manage to make your chest...you know.”

“What, make myself look flat?” she responds with a snort, this time the offended tone sounding genuine. “I bind them. Granted, I don’t exactly have a bust size the rest of my relatives seem to have, but in the office “a little bit of chest” is still reason enough for people to give me a snide look whenever they can.”

“Oh…” I can’t think of anything else to say, so I simply look down at the ground. “Sorry…”

“Not your fault. Besides, it’s not like I mind letting some people stare," she says, as her finger makes its way to my chin again, pushing me to look at her. Akira gives me a comforting smile and plants a quick kiss on my lips. “So, you ready?”

“Ready?” I ask, perplexed. “For what?”

She pauses for a second, blinking in genuine surprise. “You’re...joking, right? You invited me back into your house to spend the night, what else would it be for?”

It takes me a second too late to finally figure out what she means, at which point I shake my head in disbelief. Of course she would think that, because it’s the only logical reason why I would do such a thing.

“No.” I mutter, too embarrassed at the situation to really raise my voice. “That wasn’t why I asked you here.”

“Then what?” she asks, sounding genuinely confused. “I don’t get why you would…”

“Because I don’t want you to leave!”

I don’t exactly know what took hold of me when I blurt out those words, looking straight into her eyes as I do so. It’s something that’s been building up for some time now, and yet as it comes out I startle myself.

Akira doesn’t seem as shocked as I, or maybe she’s better at hiding it. She returns my stare with one of her own, her smile fading completely. Sighing, she looks away from me, as if the sight of me pains her.

“Really shitty time to bring that up, you know.” She sounds conflicted, which further drives the point across that I’ve overstepped the boundaries we’d both laid out for each other. “That isn’t possible, Hisao. You know that...”

“I know," I say, conceding that point. “I just…”

“Stop.” She cuts me off, and for a moment I fear that she intends to leave. “I think we should take a second to calm down before talking about this.”

All I can do is nod in agreement. Since my apartment lacks any other place to sit, we make our way to the bed. Sitting down, we don’t say anything at first, but eventually she’s the one to speak up. “Today’s been a tiring day, Hisao.”

“I’m sorry.” The apology comes immediately, without hesitation.

“Let me finish," she continues, sighing. “I’m tired and I don’t think I can keep my eyes open for long, so...would you mind if I just...lay down here?”

The request takes me slightly by surprise, but at this point refusing her would probably end any chance I have of continuing this, so I give her a nod. Akira takes little time in flopping down on the bed, turning away from me so that I can’t read her face, which demoralizes me further.

“Why do you want me to stay?” she asks after a while, her body completely still.

I don’t answer at first, knowing that by answering I’ll be admitting to something that I’ve been trying to repress. The last couple of days have been spent denying, suppressing, or rationalizing my feelings to myself. But in the end, no matter how much I try, that fact is no longer a possibility but a certainty.

“Because I’ve fallen for you,” I confess in desperation, both to her and to myself. “I know I shouldn’t. I know it’s stupid of me to, for so many reasons, but that’s what ended up happening. And I’m...I’m sorry.”

I can feel something wet on the corner of my eyes, ever so slightly. Damn it, are tears really forming? I can’t even recall the last time I really cried, and yet now I’m on the verge of it, any semblance of cold, logical thinking completely gone.

“When?” she asks.. I wish she was facing me, so I could see her expression. “When did you...you know...”

“I don’t know.” I know the answer is a flimsy one, but it’s the truth. “When you invited me back to the hotel, when you asked me to the bar, just...somewhere along the line, It just happened, and it only became apparent when you mentioned you were leaving.”

“At least you’re honest," she says, though there’s little comfort in her words, for either of us. “Though, again, really bad time to bring that up.”

“I’m sorry," I say again, sighing in frustration. “I know this isn’t how you wanted to end things.”

“Well, you got that part right,” she admits. “Honestly? I wanted to end things quickly. Not to the point where I’d brush you off, but coming here definitely isn’t part of the plan.”

“Then why’d you come?” I ask, gripping my bedsheets in nervous tension. If it was simply out of pity, then there’s probably no salvaging this conversation, or whatever bond we had. “You could have refused, you know.”

“I know, but I figured I owed you one for all the time you’ve spent listening to me. When you asked me here, I was willing to sleep with you one last time before heading back to Scotland. Go out with a bang, right?”

So it was pity after all. I say nothing, knowing that whatever I could say would just worsen things. It seems that this was the inevitable result…

“But…” She pauses, moving her head ever so slightly. “...I won’t lie and say I don’t feel anything for you, either. In fact, I think I feel the same way you do. That’s probably why I wanted to end it as quickly as possible.”

“What?” I say softly as my eyes widen. I’m hearing her words, yet my mind is still trying to convince me that it was simply what I wanted to hear, not what she actually said. “What did you say?”

“Do you really need me to spell it for you? I think I’ve might have...fallen for you too," she says, so matter-of-factly that I’m torn between believing it to be genuine and it simply being a lie to console me. “Guess we’re both idiots…”

“Why?” I ask, which finally causes her to let some sort of emotion into her voice. Namely, a soft but sad chuckle, one that finally convinces me on the authenticity of her confession. A miniscule amount of hope begins to form, even as the reality of the situation threatens to snuff it out.

“I can’t give you an exact reason. Never was good at this sort of thing,” she answers with a shrug. “But I suppose it’s because you make me feel happy, and wanted. Both things I haven’t felt in a long time.

“Whenever I see you smile, I can’t help but want to keep that smile going. You’re the only person that I feel comfortable talking to about things that I’d otherwise never say to anyone else in my life. You remind me that there’s more to life than suffering for the sake of a goal I don’t even want to achieve. I’d say those are a few of the reasons why.”

I say nothing, trying to let the monumental revelation sink in. She reciprocates my feelings, and suddenly everything about today snaps into place. How she acted, how close her body was to mine. They weren’t due to a desire to tease, or exhaustion, but genuine affection.

Perhaps under different circumstances, a revelation like this would be great. It might even be the best thing to happen to me ever since my fleeting days back in Yamaku. But now it simply adds more fire and confusion to this already deteriorating situation.

“So...yeah,” Akira finishes, once again trying to casually brush off the weight of her comments. “I don’t hate you for inviting me here, but this...this is making it harder to accept leaving here. For the both of us, I would imagine.”

“Yeah,” I agree, feeling this conversation taking its toll on what little energy I have left. “I’m sorry…for everything...”

I see Akira shifting her body, as if contemplating whether to turn around and face me. She doesn’t, though she does tilt her head a little.

“Don’t be, Hisao," she whispers softly, a gentle somberness to her voice. “Even if I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t have hated you for it. Things like that just...happen. But no matter what, I have to go. My life can’t stop for yours, just like yours can’t stop for mine.”

I try to say something, anything, but all that comes out of my mouth is a tired and defeated sounding yawn. Looking at my watch, I realize that it’s close to midnight. It seems time refuses to give me any sort of peace, even for a moment like this.

“Go to sleep.” Akira suggests bluntly, moving her body to free up space on the small bed. “You must be dead tired.”

I want to object, but couldn’t find any argument to counter. What point is there in talking things out? Regardless of what we say, regardless of our feelings, genuine or not, the fact remains that we’re destined to go our separate ways. We can’t stay in this temporary intersection, we have to move forward with our lives. Our growing, but ultimately unsatisfying, lives.

As bitter as that is, it’s the undeniable truth. And the truth cannot be swayed or changed.

Lethargically, I decide to follow routine and take my medications. As bad as I feel and as much as I want to just forget about it, I grudgingly follow the familiar drill of taking medicine after medicine in order to keep myself alive. If Akira cares or even notices, she doesn’t let me know.

Frankly, I don’t blame her. It’s hard to care in a scenario like this.

In a way, the day I had my heart attack was the day that I realized that my life held no true freedom. The days hospitalized was the realization that I was caged by the body that I was born with, and that it was a cage that I had no hope in escaping. I can’t fix what’s wrong with my body, just as I couldn’t fix my broken friendships with my old friends, my potential relationship with Iwanako, or even my short but very real relationship with Lilly.

As I graduated Yamaku, another sort of captivity dawned upon me. College wasn’t an option in my life, it was a requirement. No matter how dull I felt, it didn’t change the fact that I still had to study. No matter how lonely I was, it didn’t change the fact that I had to work someday, regardless of any kind of fulfillment that a job might provide me.

No matter how much I wanted to stop, life continues to push me forward. Because to stop would be tantamount to death, both in a social, financial, and, in my case, a literal sense.

With that utterly depressing train of thought, I lay down on the bed beside Akira. Our backs are to each other, knowing that seeing each other’s face would just make things even harder to accept. If we can’t do what we want, the least we can do is make things easier.

An allegory of our entire time spent together this past week, condensed into this simple action. It’d be thought provoking if it wasn’t so damned heartwrenching.

“Do you want to stay here?” I ask as I begin to close my eyes, torn between the hope of sleep arriving soon and wishing it never comes.

“Yes,” Akira answers after a long silence, to the point where I was almost convinced she was already asleep. “But when do we ever get to do what we want, huh? My life’s been laid out for me since day one. My old man, my mom...Lils...”

She sounds almost guilty at mentioning the last name, and I can feel her back push up to mine. “Did you hate her when she left?” she questions. “I know that’s probably a shitty thing to ask, but…”

“Yes.” I sound just as ashamed as her when I admit that, though there’s really no reason to hide that fact. “But I hated myself even more for not even trying to stop her.”

Once again there’s another long silence, as if she needs to prepare her reply. “She had her doubts about going back, you know. Of course she never told me about it, and it wasn’t long before she got used to her situation in Inverness, but for a while she did consider staying.”

“What does that matter now?” My answer is immediate and quite bitter. I’ve had enough difficult things to face tonight, the question of what might be if I’ve taken a different decision back then is not something I wish to add to the pile. “The past is the past, nothing can change that.”

“Try to sound less offended, will you?” she jabs, perhaps as at attempt to add some levity to one of our last conversations. “But you’re right, nothing we can do to change what’s already happened. All we can do is…”

“Move on…” I finish for her, knowing that’s what she’s trying to say.

“Yeah…” Akira concedes, with a tone of finality added to her voice. “Goodnight, Hisao.”

It seems our conversation is at an end. It was long, but like most things, it has ended. All I can do is wait for tomorrow to come and go, and for her to leave. I guess it really was inevitable after all…

Did I regret confessing my feelings to her? Should I have even tried? I’m too tired and frustrated to really answer that for myself. Or perhaps I do know the answer, and simply dislike what it represents to me.

Regardless, there’s no point in thinking about it any further. It’ll all be meaningless in the end, after all.

“Goodnight, Akira.”

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/2/21)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:01 am

After all, she’s the one who left him without letting him weigh in on the matter, or even the opportunity to say a proper goodbye, from the looks of things. At least Lilly granted me that much, even if it did little to ease the feeling of abandonment.
Not sure where Hisao got that from. The conversation he overheard had nothing about Akira not giving him a chance to say goodbye.
Conversely it was Lilly who probably would not have given Hisao a chance to say goodbye if Akira had not clued him in in time.
The simple fact that Akira did that for Hisao makes it seem very unlikely that she would not have been at least as considerate towards her own boyfriend.
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.

MoashLannister
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Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/2/21)

Post by MoashLannister » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:16 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:01 am
After all, she’s the one who left him without letting him weigh in on the matter, or even the opportunity to say a proper goodbye, from the looks of things. At least Lilly granted me that much, even if it did little to ease the feeling of abandonment.
Not sure where Hisao got that from. The conversation he overheard had nothing about Akira not giving him a chance to say goodbye.
Conversely it was Lilly who probably would not have given Hisao a chance to say goodbye if Akira had not clued him in in time.
The simple fact that Akira did that for Hisao makes it seem very unlikely that she would not have been at least as considerate towards her own boyfriend.
Ah that, well I think I explained that in the earlier conversation with Akira and her ex. "Said that it was pointless to go on and left for another country the next day. Any of those things ringing a bell?”

I suppose I could have reworded either the inner monologue or the conversation a little better, to showcase that Akira's final days before leaving for Scotland wasn't too dissimilar to Lilly's own. As for Akira telling Hisao back then...well they simply weren't as close back then, so Akira thought nothing of telling him as opposed to her then boyfriend. At least, that was my mentality while writing that particular bit.

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Razoredge
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Re: Running Away To You (A Post Lilly-Neutral Story) (Updated 14/2/21)

Post by Razoredge » Sun Feb 14, 2021 2:30 pm

The only thing I need to say is : They need to stay together. They need it. Your writing, buddy, is, as always, very good. Knowing that Akira will leave when Hisao told her she loves her, and she basically told him the same thing, just make me curious about how the situation would be resolved. About how they would come with a situation to fix this mess. And they deserve a solution.

But, whatever you'll do, I'm curious to see the next chapters. I really like this story, because of your writing style, obviously, and because Akira too. Once again, you did a good job.
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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