Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

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Mirage_GSM
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Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Nov 28, 2020 6:33 am

Seasonal Greatings everyone!

It's time for the annual Secret Santa!
The prompts have been sent out, so I'm opening the collection thread in case some submissions come in early. So far there are 23 participants. If you haven't written in your participation yet - some elves told me that the Prof is still accepting stragglers.

As always using this thread to post your story is encouraged but not mandatory. If you decide to post it elsewhere I will just put up the link the the story in here.

For those interested the previous years' story collection threads can be found here:
Secret Santa 2019 - Story collection
Secret Santa 2018 - Story collection
Secret Santa 2017 - Story collection

Happy Holidays!

Index
From Craftyatom for Mirage_GSM - Rising Steam
From Mirage_GSM for Brythain - Christmas at Rock Bottom
From Brythain for Retrograde - Twain

From ProfAllister for Tetrax - Dear Hisao

From NoticeMeOppai for Emii - Simpathy for the Devil

From Chatty Wheeler for BristerXD - Cats and Dogs, Snowflakes and Stars
From BristerXD for Feurox - To be chilled and to be warm

From Scramblers for MoashLannister - Still
From MoashLannister for Hacksorus - untitled
From Hacksorus for Nuclearstudent - Auftragstaktik

From Lap for PsychicSpy - Let it Snow

From Downix for FrauPerchta - untitled
Last edited by Mirage_GSM on Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:52 am, edited 15 times in total.
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: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Dec 06, 2020 8:59 am

So, since no one else seems to want to go first, here’s my contribution to this year’s Secret Santa: Marry Christmas Brythain! As always the prompt as well as my author’s notes will be at the end of the story.

Christmas at Rock Bottom

Rika brought her old Toyota to a stop in front of the venue and reached over to open the door on the passenger’s side. “Do you need any help, Naomi?”

“No thanks… Watch the head, Lilly!” Naomi half-led, half-dropped the barely conscious Lilly into the passenger seat.

Lilly raised her head slightly. “Where’re we goin? ‘mething to drink?” She mumbled almost unintelligibly.

“Sure, Lilly, we’re going to a nice quiet place to drink something.”

Naomi rolled her eyes. “Are you certain you’re going to be okay on your own? I could…”

“Yes, I’m certain. We can’t both leave, you know. You’re going to have your hands full, too.” She glanced at her watch. “I’ll try to be back by ten or so.”

Naomi glanced over her shoulder to see Natsume approach. “Nako is on the phone with her sister. She also sent you the contact info so you can text her where you’re going .”

Rika pulled out her phone. “Got it.” She entered an address and hit send.

“She also told me to thank you again and that she’d make it up to you somehow and that Lilly would not be sick all over your car…” Natsume’s sceptical gaze came to rest on Lilly. “Probably.”

“Tell her not to worry and to enjoy the evening. If Lilly has an accident in here, I’ll just bill her for some new upholstery,” she laughed.“Family’s loaded… Hand me the belt please?” She reached over to take the buckle from Naomi’s hand and secured it. “Anyway, I’ll be on my way. See you later!”

***

Exhausted, Rika sat down on the armchair. Luckily she’d found a parking space close by, but it had taken longer than expected to get Lilly out of the car and through the double door at the entrance.

She put three fingers on her throat to check her pulse – a bit faster than normal but nothing problematic. Relieved, she let herself fall back into the cushions and glanced over at Lilly - who was slumped forward over the table - before waving at the waitress and placing her order.

***

Just a few minutes later the door-chime rang again, and a tall, blonde woman entered. She glanced around and then headed straight to their table and sat down in an empty armchair.

“Hey, you must be Rika. I’m Akira. Thanks for looking out for my sister,” she waved to the waitress. “One iced coffee for me, please!”

Rika glanced out of the window. A light snow had started to fall. “Isn’t it a bit cold for iced coffee?”

“Only outside, right? In here it’s nice and toasty. Nice place by the way,” she added gesturing at the dozen or so cats lazing around the room. “Good thing we don’t have allergies.”

Rika shrugged. “It’s close. It’s warm. And at this point I couldn’t care any less about her allergies.”

“That bad, huh?”

“Well, bad enough that she had to go. And by this point Hisao and I were about the only ones who could safely drive, and obviously he couldn’t leave.”

“You don’t drink at all? Not even on this occasion?”

“No. Given the meds I have to take, I’d probably be dead long before I reached the condition she’s in now.”

Akira’s grin vanished for a second. “That must suck.”

“On the one hand I don’t know what it’s even like, so I don’t know what I’m missing – on the other hand there are certainly times when I wish I had an easy way out.” Now it was Rika’s time to grin mischievously. “On the Gripping Hand, your sister just provided a powerful disincentive.”

Lilly stirred slightly. “Moootieees, tehehehe,” she giggled, still half-asleep.

Rika shook her head with a wry smile. “I don’t know what I should be more surprised about – that she knows the book or that she’s conscious enough to react at all.”

The waitress approached the table with the orders. “One hot chocolate, one iced coffee and one house special. Can I bring you anything else?”

“No thank you,” Akira answered, suspiciously eyeing the champagne glass in front of Lilly. After the waitress had left, she looked at Rika questioningly. “What is that?”

“Oh, just something I ordered specially for her: raw egg, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper – and a dash of cream, so I can tell her it’s a White Christmas.”

Akira grimaced. “You’re evil… What did she do to deserve this?”

“You mean besides getting clingy with the groom at his own wedding?” Rika started carefully sipping her chocolate.

“Ouch.” Akira contemplated what to say next, while Lilly began snoring silently. “You know, leaving Hisao is something she has regretted for the last four years. Isn’t there anything you wish you had done differently?”

“Plenty of things. Sometimes I even wish I’d made a move on Hisao before Nako did. But I know it’s better this way. I know he and Nako are perfect together, and that’s why I’m here today as his best man, and not drunk at the wedding reception telling all the guests how perfect we were together.”

“Double Ouch… I guess Lilly will have some apologizing to do tomorrow.”

“I don’t know… It might be better if she didn’t show her face around Nako for a while… It would probably be okay if you said hello sometime. She was looking forward to seeing you again, and it looks as if that won’t be happening tonight.”

Akira glanced at Lilly’s still snoring figure. “What about you? Aren’t we keeping you from the reception right now?”

“Nah. Naomi and I planned this thing together, and she will just have Natsume sub in for me for an hour or two. We planned for that anyway in case I needed a break somewhere along the line. I can’t keep running around all evening like that.”

“Yeah, you mentioned your meds…”

“It’s okay to ask about it. In fact I try to make sure as many people know about it as possible just in case something happens. Since you already know Hisao, I’ll keep it short. I have something similar. Not the same, but close enough for non-doctors.” A cat jumped on Rika’s lap, and she started slowly stroking it as she continued. “In fact that’s how we met. After Lilly was gone, he was pretty down, but Nako got him to start out a training regime in the gym. The nurse scheduled us to always be in there together so we could look out for one another… We still do.”

Rika finished off her chocolate and sat up with a sigh, careful not to scare the cat on her lap. “Except I messed up this time. I should have protested more when I learned that Nako wanted to invite her groom’s Ex…”

“Hey don’t beat yourself up about that. Even I didn’t know she’d react this way, and I’ve known her all her life. In fact, I should feel guilty that I wasn’t there, but I haven’t been back to Japan in four years, and there were some friends I wanted to catch up with, so I thought coming fashionably late wouldn’t hurt.”

“It’s okay.” She glanced at her watch. “Anyway, I’d best make my way back soon, before the snow starts falling any harder.” She grabbed the cat and gently put it down on the ground. “You know the bill’s on you, right?”

“Certainly. Least I can do. Please tell Hanako I’m sorry and that I’ll be around sometime tomorrow afternoon to say hello and give her my present…” She buried her face in her hands.” That reminds me, I probably should get a new one. I don’t think those two bottles of Scottish Whiskey would go over well…”

***

Prompt:
”Brythain” wrote:Akira, Lilly, and Rika walk into a drinking establishment and each has a different drink. The phrase 'White Christmas' is involved. It needn't be snowy.
And now for some author’s notes. Feel free to skip if you’re not interested.
So, the first thing I knew was this wouldn’t be a story about a typical drinking establishment like Akira would usually frequent. At the opposite end of the spectrum were a maid- or a cat café, so I decided on the latter.
Next how to get those three together. In all but Lilly’s own route she would be gone to Scotland, so there needed to be a reason for her and Akira to come back to Japan and meet Rika. Then a reason why they would not be at the place of that occasion.
From there it was pretty straightforward. I found that Rika and Akira had surprisingly good chemistry together.
I decided to be a bit more experimental with this one. It’s not the usual first person, present tense story; instead I decided to go with limited omniscience, past tense.
Also, I decided to use descriptions and inner monologue very sparingly, instead revealing the backstory piece by piece with the dialogue.
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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brythain
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by brythain » Tue Dec 08, 2020 5:08 am

Mirage! You managed to squeeze in cats as well, and a White Christmas, and whisky. It's a great story, with lots of back-story and allusions to various other matters. Thank you very much. Christmas has indeed come early for me!

(My only sorrow comes from not having much Lilly—and indeed hardly walking, haha—in the tale. But I loved it anyway.)
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.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Feurox
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Feurox » Tue Dec 08, 2020 10:37 am

brythain wrote:
Tue Dec 08, 2020 5:08 am
Mirage! You managed to squeeze in cats as well, and a White Christmas, and whisky. It's a great story, with lots of back-story and allusions to various other matters. Thank you very much. Christmas has indeed come early for me!

(My only sorrow comes from not having much Lilly—and indeed hardly walking, haha—in the tale. But I loved it anyway.)
And he even squeezed some pretty wrenching tragedy in there!

Very nicely done Mirage, a great start to the SXI! Was a pleasure to read (again)!

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Dec 08, 2020 11:59 am

Duh, I knew I forgot something... That's what I get for writing all the comments in the draft and then just copy-pasting.

Thanks to Feurox for helping iron out some chinks prior to release!
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: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by brythain » Thu Dec 10, 2020 8:00 am

My contribution is now up.

'Twain' was written for Retrograde. It isn't a traditional Christmas story, except that the poem that is the centrepiece of this story was always a Christmas poem to me. My mother gave it to me in a book of poems when I was kid—at Christmas.

Enjoy!
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.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Sat Dec 12, 2020 5:31 am

Hello Mirage and Brythain!

Thanks for taking one for the team and getting the ball rolling on S11 for the rest of us slackers. :wink:

——————————

Christmas at Rock Bottom (Mirage):

This is very well done, Mirage. This is a fascinating story with a lot of fascinating ideas—all of them presented naturally in a mostly dialogue-driven story. I've always appreciated stories that can use dialogue to handle most of the exposition work because it usually means that the author will have to lean more into show rather than tell, if that makes sense. As we are shown more and more of the story and what directly preceded the events in the story, I went through quite the series of emotions.

At the beginning of the story, Lilly is drunk for an unknown reason, but given that Lilly is prone to lighthearted drinking quite a bit in the visual novel, I thought that we were in for a humorous story—if you can believe that. Despite my initial take of this story being a humorous one, I knew that there was some sort of mystery behind it all. Lilly is prone to lighthearted drinking in the visual novel, but she's not prone to heavy drinking, as she is shown at the beginning of this story, and that seemingly inconsistency stayed at the back of my brain—making me want to read on and figure out everything.

Then, through a natural escalation of dialogue, we find out the tragedy that had befallen Lilly. It definitely shows us the worst case scenario that could have happened after Lilly's bad end. Lilly has always been a drinker, but this is the first time we see her really drunk. We've seen her loose her cool before, but this is the first time we see her loose it in public. We know that Lilly and Hanako have always been close, but the end of this story indicates that they probably won't be seeing each other for a while. It's a real worst case scenario.

This one-off has the potential to be its own story, but I think what you have written is just fine as a standalone story. The story has played all of its cards and revealed all of its surprises in a way that didn't feel too hammy or melodramatic.

Again, I really enjoyed this one. I always like it when stories like these come out and show us glimpses of how things might have played out in a slightly different universe than the one we got in KS.

——————————

Twain (Brythain):

All in all, a very cute story that is executed with style and intelligence. The Saki Act and the Rika Act both closely mirror each other: English homework, description of Hisao's hair, description of the girl's hair, reading some English stuff, the 'what is love?' question, a display of love. But there are enough differences for us to connect the dots between the years that went by between the two acts. We can piece together that something happened to split Hisao up with Saki for some reason, and that getting together with Rika filled that whole in his heart.

Then we get to the Epilogue Act... If the first two acts where about two different legs in a relay, the third act was the baton pass. Not only is Saki passing the baton of the student council responsibilities on to Rika, but she's passing the baton of Hisao onto Rika... because she is dying. That's probably why the two of them had to break up. Saki wanted to spare Hisao the sadness of having her slowly wither away—a 'warm, dead body' she would have been.

In addition to the plot of this story, there are so many little things on display that I adore. I love how Hisao struggles with the word "thee" in the Saki Act, but nails it multiple times in the Rika Act. It subtly shows how Hisao has grown even in the absence of Saki; even though he has lost Saki, he still carries her with him in a positive way. I love how all four characters—and yes, I said four characters—have unique voices and speech patterns in their dialogue. Saki sounds more playful, confident, and subtextual in the way that she relays information through dialogue. Rika always refers to herself as "this one" and is always more straight-forward in her intentions and meanings when speaking with Hisao. The Hisao from the Saki Act is more of a kid, attributing his lack of English enthusiasm on English itself. The Hisao from the Rika Act (the fourth character) is a lot more refined in the way he speaks, he has clearly wisened up, and he now doesn't feel the need to knock English, instead he merely states that he likes Japanese more. It's a subtle difference, but the first Hisao turns the ordeal into a negative, while the second Hisao turns the ordeal into a positive.

I love this paradoxical line of narration:
brythain wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 7:54 am
[Saki's] eyes sparkled mischievously, large pools of dark light that seemed to lure Hisao’s gaze far away from the treachery of the English.
Pools of 'dark light' doesn't make any sense, but it does. Hisao is a curious, scientifically-inclined individual, so it makes sense that such a scientific anomaly would ignite his curiosity and lure his attention, as it does in the story.

There's plenty more details that I'm probably forgetting, but they are there. Well done with this one, Brythain! This was a fun story to analyze.

——————————

Great job to both of you! I look forward to reading more S11 entries as they come in!

Take care, everyone.
Last edited by Chatty Wheeler on Tue Dec 15, 2020 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Dec 15, 2020 11:28 am

This one-off has the potential to be its own story, but I think what you have written is just fine as a standalone story. The story has played all of its cards and revealed all of its surprises in a way that didn't feel to hammy or melodramatic.
Thanks! I don't plan to continue this scenario (unless I get a very fitting prompt next year :lol: )
I always like it when stories like these come out and show us glimpses of how things might have played out in a slightly different universe than the one we got in KS.
Well... Arguably we don't know if things would continue to play out that way after Lilly's bad end.
Personally, I think both Hisao and Hanako getting together and Lilly being the one regretting her actions are very likely. Whether or not that will lead up to very heavy drinking at very inappropriate occasions is up in the air...
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: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Hacksorus » Tue Dec 22, 2020 4:28 am

Christmas at Rock Bottom

Very nice. Makes good use of the source material to create some heavy drama in a very short bit of writing. I feel like a lot of people on here have trouble capturing Lilly's less pleasant side, but it felt very believable here. Fitting enough for someone who doesn't like Lilly as much :lol:
(i think i remember you saying that anyway)

Twain

Also very nice. Does a great job of capturing how the same person can approach the same conversation in a wildly different way depending on who they're talking to. It's not just that Hisao is adjusting the language for his audience, but we can see how his ways of thinking have changed based on who he's been spending his time with. Idk if I explained myself well on this lol


Oh boy, I sure did write these reviews as procrastination for actually working on my own entry.

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by brythain » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:41 am

Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 5:31 am
All in all, a very cute story that is executed with style and intelligence. The Saki Act and the Rika Act both closely mirror each other…
Hacksorus wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 4:28 am
Does a great job of capturing how the same person can approach the same conversation in a wildly different way depending on who they're talking to. It's not just that Hisao is adjusting the language for his audience, but we can see how his ways of thinking have changed based on who he's been spending his time with…
Thanks very much, people! I'm glad my 'mirroring' effect worked for both of you!
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.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by ProfAllister » Thu Dec 24, 2020 10:39 am

Well, it's right around Christmas, especially depending on your time zone, so here y'all go:

Dear Hisao


A small box, long-forgotten. Inside, a small collection of miniature cassettes - outdated even when they were new, but inexpensive and available.The memories all came flooding back.


Tape 1, Side A - 0212

*Click*

“Okay, so that light means it’s on, and it should start recording when I push th-”

*Click*

*Click*

“I think I got it this time. Does this work? Test, test.”

*Click*

*Click*

“Okay, now that I’ve figured out how this works, I guess I should get started. This feels so weird~.

“But~! The therapist said that this would help - if I talked to you, and kept a record of it. So that’s what I’m doing. Right here.

“So~! …

“...

“Uhm…

“...

“I guess a good place to start is to say that I’m sorry. The doctors say it wasn’t my fault. And no one at school seems to blame me. Even your parents have been treating me as if I were their own child. But I still feel responsible. And even if it’s not my fault, I still feel really really bad that it happened to you. So yeah…

“Sorry.”

*Click*


Tape 1, Side B - 0215

*Click*

“And here we are again.

“It’s funny, really. We barely talked to each other. I would just admire you from across the classroom. And you - you probably figured that I was the unapproachable one. If you had only asked, I’d have readily made time for you~.

“But that’s all in the past now. I’ve asked the doctors, but… they don’t know how long you’ll be like this. Days, weeks, months? No idea.

“And me? I’m not even sure what I should call you. I mean, Nakai would be appropriate, given our relationship as it is, but… what about what it could be? Before… all this… Just before, I called you Hisao, and, it was just a glimpse, but I thought you looked happy? Overjoyed, even~.

“It was probably just me imagining things, seeing what I wanted to see, but it’s just us here, and, to be honest, it’s kind of only me. So I might just call you Hisao.

“Or…

“Your mother… she calls you Hicchan. It’s such a cute name~. And you do kind of look like a Hicchan. Oh my, it makes me blush, talking to you in such a familiar manner.

“Shall we just keep this our little secret, Hicchan?”

*Click*


Tape 2, Side A - 0221

*Click*

“My, my, Hicchan, that was something, wasn’t it~? The whole class, sending their well-wishes with cards and flowers. It almost makes you forget the effort the teachers and Student Council went through to get it done. But still, it’s… nice.

“And now… well, now it feels like everyone’s used to you being gone. I’m sure your little group misses you, but even they realise they have to move on.

“It’s sad, really - for you, it’s the end, but for everyone else, well, life goes on. It has to go on. But don’t think you’re forgotten. I mean, one of your friends even made this guest book, so that you’ll be able to see how much you’ve been missed, i- when you get better. And look! Every day, it’s someone new, letting you know you aren’t forgotten! Isn’t that nice~?

“Well, not every day… And it’s not exactly crowded. But there are people that care about you, and miss you.

“Get well soon, Hicchan. We’re all waiting for you~.”

*Click*


Tape 2, Side B - 0301

*Click*

“It’s been pretty quiet for you, hasn’t it? That book I told you about? The only names in it since my last visit are your parents...

“It’s not fair! I know that people can’t put their lives on hold for your sake, but this is absurd! Even with everything I have to do on the Student Council, I can find some time to come and visit. Why can’t anyone else?

“I promise you! I’ll always be here by your side, Hisao.

(Muted sobbing)

“I’ll w-wait for you…

“U-until you open your eyes, and wake up from-

(Sobbing)

“C-coma.”

(The recording continues for several minutes, until the tears eventually subside)

*Click*



Tape 3, Side A - 0314

*Click*

“I’m pretty pathetic, aren’t I? Here it is on White Day, and I just can’t let go. The doctors are… not optimistic.

“You obviously didn’t know, but… I made you chocolates. Not just friend chocolates, either. The box is right there, collecting a thin layer of dust. Too much to hope that you’ll give me a return gift, huh?

“... Yeah, that was a pretty bad joke, wasn’t it?

“...

“Third Year will be starting soon. I… won’t be able to visit as often. I’d tell you to take care of yourself, but… well…

“...

(Deep breath)

“I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to tell you this, but… I love you, Hisao. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you! Don't go away, I beg of you. Never, ever go away. I love you, so please...!”

*Click*


Tape 3, Side B - 0323

*Click*



(Rough Scraping Sounds)




“Goodbye.”

*Click*


Tape 4, Side A - 0620

*Click*

“Dear Hisao,

“How are you? Everyone at school misses you. Almost all of our second-year class got put together in class 3-1 for the final year, so we are pretty comfortable right from the beginning of the year. I'm sure you would've been assigned to this class as well.

“The mood among the third-years seems to be very anxious about the final exams, even though they are so far away. The teachers are badgering us about it all the time - even old Mr. Tachibana who is, by the way, our homeroom teacher this year. Would you believe it? I was sure that he'd retire after our second year, but here he is, nagging everyone about studying for exams.

“I think things like that are the main reason why the mood among the third-years is so nervous. I must admit that I'm somehow losing confidence in myself as well, even though I've always fared reasonably well in exams.

“It's so weird to think we are already seniors, isn't it? Time has really flown past. I wonder where it went. The new first-years seem so young and somehow really innocent. I keep wondering if I was like them in my first year. I've been feeling nostalgic like this for the whole first trimester.

“There are other things I want to say. I'm writing to you because I felt that there are things I should've said after the incident back in winter. I really regret that I wasn't able to say them in person, and I have no excuse for it.

“I wanted to somehow express my feelings, but the right words didn't come to me. I couldn't say anything to comfort you. I am really sorry for not being able to support you when it mattered the most, even though I like you so much. At least now, finally, I can be more honest.

“If I could go back to those quiet days in February and March, I'd tell you to not give up on yourself. That's what I would say. Maybe you wouldn't have drifted so far away if I had just said something. I hope you manage to get back on your feet on your own.

“Now that the distance between us is more physical, it also feels more final, somehow. I wonder if we will meet again. Perhaps it's for the best if we don't?

“Still, I'd very much like to hear that you’ve recovered. I wish you all the best.

“Sincerely, Iwanako.

“...

“Somehow, I thought that would make this easier. Looks like it didn’t work.

“I didn’t mean to wait this long to come back. Things got so busy, and before I knew it a whole month had passed. And at that point, I was too embarrassed to come back. Pretty silly, huh? As if you’d give me a stern look of disapproval and ask why I hadn’t visited. One month became two, and then here we are now.

“My god, you’ve gotten so thin. And pale. I know the doctors are taking good care of you, but… it’s hard to see you like this.

“Anyway, I came here to apologise. And to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness I know that you can’t give me. So here’s what I’m going to do: every two weeks, I’ll make a point of visiting. I’ll find something to talk about, so you can look forward to my visits. And if I miss one… Then I’ll visit two additional times to make it up to you. Because you’re worth it.

*Click*


Tape 4, Side B - 0704

*Click*

“I made it, Hicchan~.

“Guess what? Today’s my birthday. I’m sure when I get home, there will be a big party. But you know what? It kind of feels fake, the way my parents make a big deal of it. I wish they acted like I mattered any other day of the year. My father’s pretty important for a big company up in Hokkaido. They’re working on making inroads into business overseas. But even when he’s right in front of me, it feels like my father’s in another country - I don’t think I’ve been able to really talk to him since I was six. The few times he seems to notice me, it’s just lecturing me on how I’m not living up to my potential. And the worst part? He’s probably right.

“I don’t know. I just kind of feel like I’m drowning. For all my struggles, and everything I do, it never feels enough. Have you ever felt that way?

“...

“See you in a couple weeks. Unless you decide you can’t wait - that would be okay, too~.”

*Click*


Tape 5, Side A - 0718

*Click*

“I hope you don’t mind, but I’m kinda using you as an excuse to escape from exams.

“You want to know what first made me like you? I mean, on a more personal level - not just ‘Hey, he’s got a cute butt…’

“It was a little over two years ago now. Back then, I was in the Track Club. I’m not even sure why - I don’t really have the legs for it. But I gave it my all, all the same. You were at one of our meets to cheer on that girl you’d always hang out with. I think her name was Mai?

“Anyway, after the race was over, you came down to congratulate her. I still don’t understand why, but you noticed that I was cold, and gave me your jacket without thinking. You’re always thoughtful like that, in your thoughtless kind of way. I know it’s probably really weird, but I still have that jacket. Ahaha~, I wonder if you even remember, or knew that it was me - I changed a lot that year, and I don’t think you recognised me when we were in the same class second year.

“...

“That’s a pretty embarrassing story, now that I say it out loud. I guess I am a bit of a weirdo.”

*Click*


Tape 5, Side B - 0801

*Click*

“Exams are over now. I can breathe a little easier. Summer break is coming soon.

“... I sometimes wonder - are you in there somewhere, listening, but unable to speak up? Desperately shouting ‘I am here!’ through a body that won’t cooperate? Or is it more like a dream? You’re hanging out in your own little world, having dreams and adventures while the world out here passes you by.

“I can’t decide which feels more sad.

“...

“Now that the end of high school looms large, my mind keeps wandering back to the Student Council. Did I tell you that I’m President now? It’s a lot of work, but there’s something nice about being in charge, working ourselves to the bone so we can accomplish big things for the school at large. Even if no one says thanks, it feels good seeing people enjoy the fruits of our labor.

“I’ll admit that this work ethic scared off a few members, but I feel that the people who left were only interested in making their university applications look nicer. I get so frustrated when people seek out positions of power and are then so lazy - taking advantage of the perks without putting in the work.

“I want to make sure it’s in good hands. So I think I want to try holding elections early this year. That’s not silly, is it? At least, not too silly?

“I’m glad you agree.”

*Click*


Tape 6 Side A - 0801

*Click*

“Surprise~! I came again early~!

“...

“Yeah, you guessed it. A romantic occasion and no one to share it with. I really can’t move on, can I? Half a year and I’m still in love with the boy in a coma. Is this going to continue for a year? Five? Ten? Fifty?

“I think about that, and it occurs to me - I don’t think I’d mind that. One more chance to see you smile - even if it’s not directed at me. Just to see that, I think I could die happy.

“...

“Yes, I know that people celebrate Tanabata in July these days. I just… have a fondness for the traditional date. I don’t know why. It’s such a beautiful story, too - two lovers, separated for an eternity, only able to meet one day a year.

“...I’m such a dreamer, aren’t I? Here I am, falling apart over you, and I honestly don’t know if you were even going to accept my confession! It’s amazing that the doctors, nurses, and your parents have been humoring me for so long.

“...maybe I should give up. You wouldn’t blame me, would you? No sense wasting my life here, right? I’ve got a long life ahead of me! I’m young, and healthy, and-

“And so stupid and selfish and unthinking. I can’t do that to you. My mind goes back to the second you saw me, just before everything went to hell. I can swear you looked like the happiest man on earth. So, until you wake up, please, let me have this dream.”

...

...

“Miss? A moment please.”

(Departing Footsteps)

(Muffled talking)


“...na...ko…”

*Click*

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

As the tape ended, Iwanako felt a familiar pair of arms wrap around her waist.

“You know, ‘nako, I never knew you had those tapes, but I’ve got the damnedest feeling that I’d heard them before.”

Standing up, she turned around to face her husband, planting a quick peck on his lips.

“Well, you were there, weren’t you?”

“A cute butt, eh?”

“Oh, grow up!”

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

Victim: Tetrax

Prompt: one of the katawa, after ten or so years, found an old recording of themselves "talking" to their future selves (topic can be whatever the writer wants)

A little bit of an explanation/semi apology. You see, this fic is actually something that's been floating in my head for about 8 years, from a much older prompt. As such, it's not exactly what was wished for, but this was probably the best chance I'd have for this to escape from my brain. Hope you enjoyed it!
Current Project: Misha Pseudo-Route

Discord ID: ProfAllister#9754
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brythain
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by brythain » Thu Dec 24, 2020 11:33 am

Yay! A happy Iwanako story for once. Good for the season.
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.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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NoticeMeOppai
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by NoticeMeOppai » Thu Dec 24, 2020 12:32 pm

Christmas at Rock Bottom

Man, I don't envy Lilly the following morning that's for sure. It would be interesting to see what actually happened inside and Hisao and Hanako's reactions and feelings about it but perhaps it's better we don't know.

Twain

I love the parallels in this one, and the growth of Hisao as has been covered by others already. As always with your stuff I feel there's layers there that I don't quite grasp the significance of but I always enjoy reading it anyway.

Dear Hisao

An intriguing idea, well executed. It was fun seeing all the bits of the different girls in Iwanako's narrative and a sweet ending to what could have been quite a dark tale.
NmO Does Shorts

I deeply regret my choice of username.

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Chatty Wheeler
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:05 pm

Hello ProfAllister,

Nice one! That was a charming, if a touch bittersweet, story. I like how you worked in some lines and descriptions from the original visual novel into this story. The way that Iwanako exclaims her love to the tape seemed very similar to Lilly's confession—maybe even word-for-word in some places. The ending was very lovely—Iwanako deserves a little more love than she seems to get, so it's nice to see her get a happy ending!

Again, this is a very well written piece, and I very much enjoyed it. Take care!

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NoticeMeOppai
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by NoticeMeOppai » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:26 pm

My victim this year was Emii. This probably wasn't what you envisioned when you wrote the prompt but hopefully you enjoy it anyway. I should also probably apologise for the awful pun in the title but frankly I'm not going to.

Simpathy for the Devil

Merry Christmas to all!
NmO Does Shorts

I deeply regret my choice of username.

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