Lullaby of an open heart - A Saki pseudo-route

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Razoredge
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Lullaby of an open heart - A Saki pseudo-route

Post by Razoredge » Thu Jan 07, 2021 7:56 pm

When the April Fools Joke was released, I was in love with Saki and Rika, but especially Saki. I refused to admit that Saki would stay a joke, this character had so much potential, and her design was lovely. As the years passed, Saki simply became my favorite "non-existent" character, all fandoms included, because the concept behind her attracted me a lot. But, as the years passed, I was forced to admit that we would never see an official route for Saki. I still think she has great potential, and I hope it will happen one day, but my hope is slight. About one year ago, the idea to write a Saki pseudo-route appeared in my mind, but I had too few material to write something I see as decent. Also, Euro's Saki was so well-built it almost made me give up on that idea. Which is quite stupid, because Euro is a writter I love and one of the role models I have on this forum. Months went by and I had more ideas to build my own idea of Saki. This will be difficult, and I will have a lot of work to do, but I will enjoy writing this story, and I hope you will enjoy reading it. After months of doubt, I present to you Lullaby of an open heart.

Writer's note: This pseudo route exists as the fusion of both Beyond the Haze and Talmar's Switching Dynamics universes. Some characters, events and relationships of the two stories will be present on this one, but they will occur in an alternative way as this story can be seen as an alternative path.


Act I: Adagio
- Ouverture
- Rainfall
Last edited by Razoredge on Thu Jul 15, 2021 5:28 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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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Razoredge
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Re: Lullaby of an open heart - A Saki pseudo-route - Act I-I added 01/08/2021

Post by Razoredge » Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:00 pm

Act I: Adagio

Ouverture
This scene takes place on Tuesday, during most of the smalltalk scene

Waking up in an unfamiliar room is a jarring feeling. This is the third room this year that I’m supposed to call ‘mine’, but I feel like a complete stranger here. My bags are against the wall, my medication is on my night table, but this place feels impersonal. It could be someone else’s room, I wouldn’t be surprised, and it will take a moment before I get used to this.

I shake my bottles and take some pills, swallowing them with a bit of water. Since my heart attack, I had time to get used to the medication, and now, I take it without thinking about it. I must take them every day for my sake, even if I don’t feel any change, but I may not be the best judge for these things.

I finally get out of my bed and open my closet, where several school uniforms are stored. I always liked fresh new clothes, it was like a reward when my mother bought me new clothes. This uniform isn’t much different from what I used to wear before, but this school isn’t much different from my previous one, except for the people of course.

“This is a new start Hisao, see this as an opportunity. You’ll meet new people, you’ll make new friends, and you’ll learn new things. We’re here for you in you need us.” That’s what my mother told me, before we left the house. She’s right, even if I didn’t come to terms with this situation yet.

I know they’re here for me if I need it, but I need to face this situation by myself. She’s right, I met new people yesterday, my hallway neighbor Kenji, and two classmates, Misha and Shizune. Kenji is the weirdest of the three, maybe because his way to greet someone is not something I’d expect from a student. I can’t say they act like normal students, especially Shizune, since her only way to communicate with someone is through Misha’s voice. But I’m sure the other students are normal. Or does Kenji pass for a normal student here?

This question remains in my mind all the way through the cafeteria. I’m starving, and I can’t think correctly on an empty stomach. I reach the place pretty quickly, and when it’s my turn, I take the first thing I see, a bowl of rice with some eggs. I will miss my mother’s breakfasts here, but when you’re hungry, you can’t be picky.

While I’m eating, I think about what Kenji told me yesterday, and his suspicion. It may be his own way to warn someone, but thinking that my parents would be some mysterious and mean people is over the top. But it was the first time I’ve seen him, so I don’t judge him too fast; he doesn’t seem like a bad guy after all.

I finish my meal without thinking about it too much. The food here is decent, not that good, but not that bad. This is maybe a common thing in schools, since so much students bring their own meals in class. I guess I’ll buy some supplies one of these days; I have to improve my cooking skills, and I wouldn’t say no to eating something other than cafeteria food.

Today, I’m one of the last students to come in class, a few minutes before the first teacher comes in. We split into groups, and then I decide to ask Shizune if she knows a good thing to do after classes.

“That’s a good question, Hicchan. There’s a lot of after-school clubs to join. You don’t have to join one, by everyone is encouraged to do so. Do you like something in particular?” I don’t know if Misha is genuinely concerned about it, or if she only translates Shizune thoughts as much as she can.

“I used to play soccer with my friends before. It was just a hobby, though. As of late, I read a lot, I really like to read.”

“There is a book club Shicchan, right?” Misha signs desperately to Shizune, whose smile shines in satisfaction for being the one who gives the answer. “We have a book club, but it seems there’s no room left for another member, sorry Hicchan.”

“Oh, well, it doesn’t matter, I’m not in a hurry. Do you have clubs based on writing activities?” I ask, not very convinced myself.

“We have a newspaper club, but it’s pretty boring.” Misha answers, signing nothing back to Shizune with a childish giggle. Maybe she considers that writing or reading isn’t an enjoyable activity to do.

I don’t answer to this comment, and the rest of the morning lessons run their course. I take notes nonchalantly, because I’m hungry, such as Misha, who doesn’t listen to the teacher anymore. The lesson is interesting, but we are all hungry, so our attention drops. The lunch bell finally frees us from this torment, and most of the students pack their things before rushing out in the hallway.

“Where do you want to eat, Hicchan?” Asks Misha with a kind tone.

“I don’t know, the cafeteria must be a good choice, I guess?”

She just laughs, as if I said something stupid. It’s an obvious choice for me, since this place is still new to me, and I’m not familiar with all the school’s facilities yet. Things which seem obvious to her or Shizune are foreign to me, but it’s only my second day here, I’ll become accustomed to it with time.

Luckily for us, the place isn’t packed, so we get our meals quickly. During our meal, Misha catches my attention while I was focused on my fish piece.

“So, Hicchan, you want to join a club, don’t you?”

“Not really, I was just thinking about a way to do something after school. If I don’t have a book to read, there’s nothing much to do.”

“If you don’t know what to do, you should join the Student Council, definitely.” This playful tone makes her proposal not as innocent as it seems.

“Why me?”

“Because we could hang out together, Hicchan! We’re in the Student Council with Shicchan, she’s the President, actually. And some help would be welcome.” She answers, with her usual loud tone, with a grin too. This only confirms what I was suspicious about, Misha doesn’t want me to join the Student Council for professional reasons.

“You know I just got here yesterday, right? I think it’s a bit too early for me to join something as important as the Student Council.”

Misha pauses for a moment, signing back to Shizune what I’ve just said. They exchange a cheerful glance, and Shizune signs energetically, her signs translated for me by Misha with the same energy.

“It would show a sane interest for your school Hicchan. There’s nothing better than helping the Student Council to fit in your school.” She pauses between each sentence to take a bite of her fish, like me.

I’m trapped here, I can’t answer positively for now because I think it’s too early for me to do something so important, but I can’t frankly say no because I don’t want to hurt them. Spending time with Misha and Shizune would be a great thing, because they are friendly with me, but it’s quite demanding from them to ask me to join the Student Council after only my second day here.

“I will think about it, and I’ll get back to you on it, don’t worry.” I promise, taking one last bite of fish to finish my meal.

That’s the best I can do for now, committing to something so important so early wouldn’t be a good thing. Misha seems a bit sad for a second, but she quickly gets back to her cheerful mood. The bell indicates us that the lunch break is over, and we go back to class.

The first lesson of the afternoon is a reading comprehension, which is a relief. This is something I like to do, it’s a simple way to have good grades, and most of the times, the text isn’t that hard. Misha doesn’t share my enthusiasm; she sighs in desperation when she sees the text. It’s clear she doesn’t enjoy reading, but I can’t blame her; everyone have their own tastes, after all.

The class is silent, everyone read the text quietly and some classmates answer the questions pretty quickly. But I don’t want to rush it, even if my reading pace is fairly quick. Reading was my only pastime in the hospital, and I began to read a lot because of it. I started to feel naked without a book around me, and I don’t think I will quit reading that easily.

For me, the text isn’t hard, but it has some subtext which can lead to wrong answers, but it’s an easily avoidable trap. Taking my time, I proceed through the questions with a steady pace, allowing myself to develop my answers when I consider it’s required. Near the end of the lesson, I take some time to polish my answers up, and I give my sheets to the teacher.

The other lessons of the afternoon are just lectures, but I won’t complain, the pace is bearable, and I take notes without too much efforts. The lessons are interesting, however, I have to admit that I tire myself easily. Getting back to a normal pace after a hospitalization is much more difficult than I thought. But as I look around me, I can see the same tired expression on some students’ faces. At least, I’m not the only one.

The last minutes of the last lesson of the day seem like an eternity, and I hear Misha yawn behind me, taking upon myself to avoid yawning too. After a few more minutes, which seemed like hours, the bell finally rings, ending the school day. I let out a sigh of relief before Misha tapes on my shoulder to get my attention.

“Hicchan, we have a bit of work to do for the Student Council with Shicchan today, but do you want to come with us? We’ll show you some clubs rooms.” She asks with this cheery tone that suits her well. Is this a new attempt to get me on the Student Council, or does she genuinely want to show me some clubs’ rooms? I’ll try to wriggle out of this situation.

“Nah, don’t bother with me, I’ll distract you. Is there any club room on this floor? I can handle it myself, don’t worry about me.” I answer, trying to extricate myself from this situation without being harsh.

“Yes, you have the art club, the newspaper club, and the books club on this floor. But, are you sure, Hicchan? It doesn’t bother us to guide you through the school, you know?” I just answer with a nod. “All right then, have fun Hicchan, see you tomorrow.” I wave them when they leave the classroom, a few moments before me.

In the hall, some students are walking in groups, maybe toward their club activities or the dorm. Misha told me that at least three of them are on this floor, but where? I leave it up to chance, and I head toward a room at the left end of the hall. There are no distinctive signs on the door, and when I open it, I realize it’s only a storage room. But it doesn’t discourage me, I’m not in a rush.

In another room, there are students who are probably doing their homework to whom I apologize wholeheartedly for disturbing them. Why are there so much doors with no signs on them, and how people can recognize them? It makes no sense, and I’m lost because I wanted to check some rooms by myself.

“Are you looking for something?” says a voice behind me.

As I turn around, I can see the source of this voice. This is a short girl, just a bit shorter than me, with an adorable face. Light brown hair reaching her shoulders, brown eyes contrasting with the paleness of her skin, fine cherry earrings, are the first things that attract the eye at first sight, especially her eyes. As I look at her, my eyes are attracted by her left hand, clenching the handle of a thin cane.

It strikes me to see someone so young with a cane, even for support. I get a grip on myself as I realize she asked me if I was looking for something. As my eyes meet hers again, I can see them shining with curiosity.

“Yeah… One of my classmates told me that a few art rooms are on this floor, but I can’t find them. I’m new here.” I sigh, once again I have to rely on somebody, this time to find a room.

“Well, there are several art rooms around here. Do you want to see one in particular?” She answers with a slightly amused tone.

“Except the obvious ones where you paint or draw things, I don’t know what this school has, to be honest.”

“That’s something.” She giggles. “Follow me.”

She patiently shows me where the art rooms are on the floor, describing each one of them as she opens each door. Luckily for us, there are no students in the rooms, so I can visit them with no guilt. The rooms are vast, probably more than my classroom, which is already more vast than any classroom I’ve been in before. They are obviously made to allow students to move freely in the room, especially the ones with impaired mobility.

“Do you know what time is it, by the way?” She asks, as I close the door of the last room that she showed me.

I look at my watch. “A bit more than quarter to four.” She looses her curious look to a more serious one.

“Oh, I’m late. But, this an opportunity to show you something. Follow me.” She signals me with her hand to follow her as she heads toward the stairs. “So, you’re new here? When did you arrive, then?” Her serious look switches to her curious one as I walk beside her.

“I was transferred yesterday, so everything is new for me, and I get lost easily.” She giggles, but she doesn’t answer. “But who am I speaking to?”

“Saki, Saki Enomoto.” She smiles, turning her head towards me. “And, you are?”

“Hisao Nakai. Nice to meet you, Saki.” She waves her hand, as if it was pointless to be so polite.

“The pleasure is all mine. I’ll show you the building for the music club, but unfortunately, I won’t be able to give you the tour today.” She apologizes with a frank tone in her voice.

“You took on your time to show me some art rooms, I can’t, in good conscience, ask you anything more.” I reply, she did enough for me, I can’t ask for more. “But why the music club particularly?”

“I’m a part of the music club, and it’s on my way, so I can show it to you.” She confesses. I wonder which instrument she’s playing, or if she does anything else. After a few seconds, she breaks the silence, seeing my curiosity. “I actually sing, and I love it.” Now that she mentions it, it seems pretty obvious, since she has a beautiful voice tone.

After a few minutes of small talk, we reach the music club’s building, and I have to admit, it’s kinda large, larger than almost all the school’s buildings. But given its use, it’s fairly normal for this building to be that large.

“Well, here we are. This building is this large because of the auditorium, and this is where I come for rehearsals. It would have been a pleasure for me to give you the tour, but I’m late, and I really need to practice.” Saki breathes as she heads for the door. “How about, tomorrow?”

“It would be my pleasure.” I accept her kind proposal. She waves at me with a smile before disappearing behind the door.

I said to Misha that I could find the rooms by myself; it was a mistake. But she won’t know, and that mistake allowed me to meet someone. I won’t complain, it was a good encounter. If each day could end like this, eventually I would like my stay here.
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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Oddball
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Re: Lullaby of an open heart - A Saki pseudo-route

Post by Oddball » Fri Jan 22, 2021 11:17 pm

Most fo the chapter is spent going over already familiar grounds, but I think you do a good job of steering it in a new direction without making it feel forced or two obvious.

Saki herself seems rather playful. It's an interesting take on her so far.
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Razoredge
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Re: Lullaby of an open heart - A Saki pseudo-route

Post by Razoredge » Fri Jan 22, 2021 11:36 pm

Thanks Odd. I took the risk but I was worried, thinking it would seem forced. I never did something like that, and I'm glad you potentially liked this first try. Writing a Saki's path will be difficult, but I'm proud of trying new things, and I hope you'll like my vision of her.
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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Razoredge
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Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:31 pm
Location: Bordeaux, France

Re: Lullaby of an open heart - A Saki pseudo-route - I-2 added 07/15/2021

Post by Razoredge » Thu Jul 15, 2021 5:18 pm

Rainfall

The rain sweeping against the window wakes me up a few minutes before my alarm-clock. Opening the curtains, the terrible weather makes me sigh. My second day at school, and it’s already raining, great. Sitting on my bed, I swallow my army of pills with a bit of water, mindlessly, before putting on my uniform and heading towards the cafeteria to eat some breakfast.

Once outside, I hurry to avoid getting soaked, like some other students, with little success. It’s quite early, so the cafeteria isn’t packed yet. It doesn’t take long for me to get my meal, which includes eggs, greens and coffee. Nothing fancy, but I don’t eat that much in the morning. I take my time to eat; there’s no need to hurry, and there are a lot of empty tables, so I won’t bother anyone.

I’m still thinking about my condition, and about what this school means in my life. I know they did that for my sake, but everything happened so quickly, and I didn’t have the time to get used to this. The fact they decided everything for me is still unpleasant, but I can’t backtrack.

The food is edible, at least, but not enjoyable. I don’t know what I expected, all the schools I’ve been in had that type of food, but this is the first time I see specific menus for students. They serve a specific purpose, so there’s no wonder I didn’t see such a thing before. At least, it’s nourishing, but it would be a good idea if I make my food sometimes; a bit of change wouldn’t hurt.

When my plate is finally empty, I let a group of students sit at the table, who thank me with a smile. Unfortunately, the rain hasn’t stopped, it even got worse. Rain doesn’t really bother me, but I expected something different for my second day here. Hopefully, the weather changes during the afternoon, even if it won’t change my mood.

When I enter the classroom, I’m surprised to notice I’m the only one here. Even if I woke up early today, I expected to see a few students, but maybe my classmates are not morning people, after all. The few minutes before some students come in seem to be an eternity; being alone in a silent room with only rain as a background noise is an awful feeling. I spent months in hospital, and the silence in my room was something I hated; it was a painful reminder of my condition and that the people that used to be my friends were too different from me. Silence is a good thing when I choose it, not when I must endure it.

Eventually, the teacher comes, a few minutes before the beginning of the course, telling us we’ll have to work in groups. I don’t have the time to do anything before I feel two hands on my shoulders. “Hicchan, it seems we have to work together.” It was the voice of the girl who offered to show me some clubs rooms yesterday. Misha, I think.

I don’t mind working with them; they were friendly with me yesterday. Communicating with Shizune will be hard, but luckily for me, Misha is there to do so. The only way I could communicate with her without her pink-haired sidekick would be through writing, which always looked like an odd way to talk with someone for me.

This is a Japanese literature exercise, we have to work in groups because of several questions asking for opinions about the subtext. Not my favorite school work, but it’s better than nothing. Misha doesn’t share my thoughts about it, as her face becomes white when she sees the length of the text. It’s no longer than two-and-a-half pages, but if someone doesn’t enjoy reading, getting into it can be quite complicated.

Compared to my partners, my reading pace is pretty fast, and I’m done one or two minutes before them. The first questions are relatively easy, but it becomes much more complicated after the fifth question. We are asked to give our opinion about the subtext, about what the author tried to say and why, or which genre of literature it is. For someone who doesn’t enjoy reading as much as I am, these questions would be really difficult to answer to correctly.

Shizune takes this exercise very seriously, when Misha is more prone to daydreaming than actually working. From time to time, she asks something to Shizune, but she quickly gets back to her daydreaming business. I have the vague feeling of being scammed, but complaining about that would take time, and I want to finish my exercise before the end of the lesson.

We finally finish our exercise a few minutes before the end of the lesson, Shizune’s face glowing with satisfaction. It wasn’t that hard; why is she so proud of herself? When the teacher picks up our exercises, I throw daggers at Misha, who instantly understands what’s wrong. “If you asked me to work with you just to let me do your work, don’t even try to ask for help once again.” I snap.

“I’m sorry, Hicchan, I’m not that good with literature…” she apologizes, making puppy eyes.

“That’s not the point, a group work is supposed to be a group working together, not some people doing the work for other people.” I reply, calming down. I wasn’t supposed to be angry at her, but this behavior was something I hated during my whole time at school.

She’s still trying to apologize for that, and I quickly tell her it’s not a problem anymore. She breathes a sigh of relief when I turn back as the other lesson begins. This time, this is a history lecture, not something I really enjoy, but it’s better than nothing. When I look around me, many students in the classroom share my feelings, except for this dark-haired, tall girl, who’s absolutely fascinated by the lesson, and notes everything down with one of the quickest writing paces I’ve ever seen.

During the morning, the rain briefly stops before it gets even worse than before. It doesn’t help to set up a good mood in the classroom, everyone looks to be disappointed because of this terrible weather. Luckily for us, we won’t have any physical education today. Exercising under the rain isn’t something I like at all, the feeling of wet clothes is more disturbing than anything else.

The other lessons of the morning were uneventful. Maybe it was the hunger that made everyone quiet.

………………………………………………..

Even during the afternoon lessons, the rain doesn’t even stop. It’s not a big deal, it only kills the mood. What I didn’t expect was the loud thunder, and it seems I wasn’t the only one who didn’t expect that, given the frightened scream we all hear. It was the same girl I saw furiously taking notes during the history lesson. When everyone looks at her with surprised faces, she apologizes profusely, trying to no longer attract the attention.

During the last lesson of the day, the storm frequently cut the teacher off, so she spends the rest of the lesson writing on the board. It’s less pleasant, but if she has to be interrupted every two minutes, writing is the best alternative. My attention has dropped, but I’m still trying to focus a bit. The last lesson of the day was always kinda difficult to bear for me, especially during summer. Being focused isn’t something difficult for me, but if I could do something else than taking notes, it would be significantly better.

I never was fond of maths; I don’t have difficulties to understand maths, but this subject is pretty boring. If I could have science lessons all day long, I would be happy, but before going to college, I need to gather as much knowledge as possible.

The last minutes of the lesson seem like hours, but when the bell rings, everyone shares a sigh of relief. As soon as I leave the classroom, someone pushes me against the door. I don’t have the time to realize who did this; the only thing I hear is a girl panicking and calling the same name, over and over. When I turn around, I realize it’s the same girl who screamed because of the thunder. I never seen anyone that afraid of thunder, so it kinda surprises me a bit.

When a shorter girl takes her hand, she instantly calms down. Wait a second, I’ve seen this girl before, she’s the one that showed me some club rooms yesterday. So it seems they are friends, and to be honest, I would have never thought such a thing. Opposites attract, as they say, and I won’t say it’s wrong, since some of my oldest friends have different personalities than mine. Maybe they complete each other, I don’t know.

They are coming towards me and the girl with the light brown hair stops right in front of me. “Hisao?” She says, taking a few seconds to remember my name.

“Yes. You are…” It also takes me a few seconds to remember her name as well. “… Saki, right?” Her smile says it all; I’m glad I remembered her name.

“Are you still interested to visit the music club today, Hisao? We’re not late, so we can give you the tour.”

“It would be my pleasure.” I answer, thankful that she’s taking on her time to show me some facilities.

“Oh, let me introduce you to my best friend, Kaori. Kaori, this is Hisao, a new student. Say hello, sweetie.” She says, taking her by the hand to bring her closer.

The size difference between them is startling, Kaori is extremely tall, and what strikes me the most is that she doesn’t show any foreign traits at all. She’s actually the tallest girl I’ve ever seen, by far. She’s panicking and doesn’t even look at me, and her greeting is so low I could hardly hear it. A girl that tall who’s shaking like a leaf because of a storm is not something I’ve seen a lot in my life.

“Forgive her, she’s afraid of storms. Usually, she’s more lively and talkative, but during days like today, it’s quite hard to get her to talk… But you’ll see, her mood will change once at the music club.”

We slowly head towards the main hall, where a loud crack of thunder paralyzes Kaori, making her cry. Saki instantly notices it, taking her in her arms to soothe her friend. I don’t know what is the trigger of her fear, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had an enormous impact on her daily life during days like today. It takes a while before she’s able to move again; I don’t know what Saki told her while she was whispering, but it seems it worked.

In front of the hall’s gates, Kaori stops once more, shivering, hesitating to move. “Sweetie, I’m here, it’s okay. If you need to stay here a bit, it’s okay.” Saki says, looking at me as if she wanted me to agree. I just nod; it doesn’t bother me to wait for a bit. Eventually, after a few minutes, she manages to leave the hall, holding Saki’s hand in hers tightly, as if she was afraid to see her friend leaving her in the rain. I would have expected them to walk faster, but it seems it takes a lot of effort from her to do such a trivial thing. I would really hate to be in her shoes, and when I see how she reacts, it would be stupid to judge her on her fears.

It takes a few minutes to reach the music club, because each crack of thunder startles and paralyzes her for a bit. We’re soaked, but it would be inappropriate to ask her to walk faster just for us. Once inside the music club’s building, we are greeted with some pleasant music. But as soon as we come, a dark-haired girl with glasses smirks when she looks at Saki. When the song is finished, she puts her guitar on a rack, and while she’s heading towards Saki, her smirk doesn’t disappear.

“Once again, you and your friend are late. Some things will never change.” She says, in a patronizing way.

“Mao, are you just stupid or you didn’t even notice the weather?” Saki sighs, as if she was forced to give an obvious information.

“And what does the weather have to do with your lateness?”

“Oh, so now you’re blind? Did you see the state she’s in?” She hisses, pointing at her friend, which instantly changes Mao’s expression.

“Oh…” She adds nothing, and I’m surprised by a brief flash of red. It was a redhead girl, rushing towards Kaori to hug her. Even if no one is playing, the storm is barely audible here, which must be a good thing for her. When she’s finally calm, the redhead girl takes her by the hand to a guitar rack, which makes her smile. A genuine smile of happiness. And once again, the sight of a tall girl taken by the hand by a shorter girl is kinda cute.

“So, Hisao, you just met Mao Yukimura. She was used to be kinda involved in the music club’s leadership, when I couldn’t assume my duty as the president.” Saki says, with a bit of despair in her voice.

“Is she always like that?” I ask, even if I know asking such things when I just met someone is quite stupid.

“We’re on different pages, but we have to work together, so, sometimes, it doesn’t work as we expected.” I can feel, in her voice tone, that she doesn’t want to elaborate further, and I don’t want to go against her will. “That being said, I will introduce you to my band. I am the main singer, and Kaori is our lead guitarist and also backup singer. But you’ll maybe see her as our second main singer today.” She says, smiling, and looking at her with pride in her eyes. But it kinda surprises me, how can they have two main singers if her friend is supposed to be the backup singer?

She asks me to follow her, and while Kaori is turning things on the head of a blue guitar with clear blue stripes on the body, Saki introduces me to the rest of the band. “Hisao, this is Sara Ueno. Sara, this is Hisao Nakai.” A redhead girl with apple green eyes and fingerless gloves bends her head to greet me, which I hasten to do in my turn. “Sara is our drummer and the most enthusiastic member of our band when Kaori is doing her own music. Don’t blame her if she doesn’t answer you when you talk to her, she’s mute, unfortunately.”

Sara smiles, but she quickly thinks her drum set is more important than me, and she leaves us alone. Then, a brown-haired girl with brown eyes and glasses asks Saki how long the rehearsal will be. She has only one explanation to give her; she doesn’t know how long it will be, as her best friend comes into the equation. But when she’s about to leave, Saki prevents her to go away. “Hisao, this is Umi Nagami. Umi, this is Hisao Nakai. Umi is our rhythm guitarist, and the backbone of our songs. You will understand why I say that in a few minutes.”

She asks me to follow her, and she heads towards a smaller girl, with legs prosthesis, black hair and grey eyes. She’s tiny, smaller than Saki, but she seems to be a cheery girl. When she sees Saki, she jumps everywhere, and it really makes me smile. “This is Ikumi Hironaka. Ikumi, this is Hisao Nakai. Ikumi is our bassist, and the cheeriest member of our band, you won’t be able to bore or tire her out. Even when we’re done, she still wants to play.” When she introduces me to her band mates, she has the same proud tone in her voice, which is really cute, I have to admit.

An all-girl band is a good idea, but I still don’t know what kind of music they are playing. Asking for it when they are almost ready to play would be stupid; I just have to wait a few minutes before getting an answer. While everyone is setting up, Saki controls everything, as if she was an adult supervising a group of teenagers. But something seems to bother her, and I don’t know what this is. It takes a few minutes before the reason comes in front of us.

A grey-haired girl with red eyes, with almost the same size as Saki, apologizes, while breathing heavily, for being late. Apologizing for being late to Saki, who was also late, is a funny thing to see, but I won’t say anything. “We were late too, Rika, there’s no need to apologize.” She chortles, with an almost motherly tone. “Hisao, this is Rika Katayama. Rika, this is Hisao Nakai. Rika is our keyboardist, and our newest member; she joined us a few weeks ago. She fitted the band pretty easily; I’m very proud of her.” Her pride in her band is heartwarming; if I was in her shoes, I would probably be as proud as she is.

To be fair, I was just expecting a tour of the music club, but being at a rehearsal is way better. Maybe I won’t like what they’ll play, I don’t know, but seeing people making music, even if it’s not what I’m usually listening to, is always interesting. I’m surprised to hear that the first song begins with bass and not guitars. An upbeat tempo which turns to a cheerful song when the other instruments come in. But what strikes me the most is Saki’s singing voice.

I was expecting a delicate, cheerful voice, given how sweet her normal voice is. But she sings with a mature, almost motherly voice, which was unexpected, at least for me. I would have associated this kind of voice with an older woman, not a teenager, but this is a really enjoyable surprise. In the middle of the song, the tempo is much faster, and I can see the differences between Kaori and Umi. When Umi plays a group of notes, Kaori plays unique and higher notes, but at a rapid pace, taping her fingers on the neck of her guitar or strumming the strings with a rapid up and down movement. After this little digression, the song returns to its cheerful tempo, talking about a group of teenagers spending an afternoon in the city.

The second song starts with a more sad mood, but with the two guitars instead of the bass first. During the song intro, I notice Umi’s sound is louder than Kaori’s, which makes her playing more distinctive, even if they are playing the same thing, given that their fingers’ movements are the same. I don’t know if it is a mistake or if they did it on purpose, but it kinda highlights what she’s playing.

The sad mood of the song worsen when Saki sings, talking about a girl who lost her parents and had to live in an orphanage. Besides her singing, the guitars are slow, making almost crying sounds sometimes, and the drums make a low, very heavy sound. Compared to the cheerful song they were playing before, it’s like another band is playing now. The sad lyrics, combined with the slow but heavy music, make a perfect mix. It’s a bit too depressing for me, but I have to admit, it’s a very good song. Compared to the previous one, this song is a bit longer, because of the slow playing, even with some quick pace parts.

The lyrics, Saki’s singing and the music they play mix extremely well to create a mood, and I felt the sadness in the previous song, even if I heard it for the first time. I wouldn’t say this kind of music is my favorite genre, but it’s enjoyable, and I would lie if I say they aren’t talented. But I’d rather listen to traditional music, but it’s my own tastes, and I don’t want to force them to do something I want, I’m the guest here.

I was expecting them to play another song, but the two guitarists put their guitars on a rack and they head towards another room, coming back a few seconds later with brick-looking objects that are like other objects on the floor. I guess it’s supposed to change the sound, since they used these a couple of times during the previous songs. But these are way bigger than the others, and I don’t know what purpose they can have to be that big.

While everyone is setting up, Rika does some things with her fingers, probably a warmup, since she didn’t play during the previous songs. I don’t know what they have planned, but such preparation to play a song means they’re probably extremely proud of what they’ll do. They take several minutes to get ready, and when they play, I understand why it took so much time. It doesn’t sound like a rock song at all, but it has an aerial atmosphere. The only thing I can think about when I hear this song is a big blue sky.

Rika does the biggest job with her keyboard, even if the highly modified sound of the guitars plays an undeniable part of the atmosphere of the song. It feels heartwarming; I feel lighthearted, and even the other members of the music club are smiling while listening. Peaceful would be a good word to describe the atmosphere of this song, and I don’t even know why, but I can’t think about anything else than the color blue during the whole song.

It’s longer than the other songs they played, but the length gives this song a particular aura. I don’t know if they wrote it by themselves or if it’s a cover of an obscure song I wasn’t aware of, but whoever wrote this is highly talented. I don’t know how to express my feelings correctly for music, but even if what they play is not something I would listen to daily, it’s a pleasant surprise.

What strikes me the most is how gently the drummer plays during this song compared to how hard she was hitting her drums before. It really sounds like another band is playing, and I can only say that they are really versatile, which is an impressive thing.

They also play a few more songs, but they are less distinctive than the previous ones for me, even if it sounds great. These are catchy songs, I have to admit, but it doesn’t strike me as much as the other ones did. Saki comes over and sits beside me, followed by Rika; but the rest of the band stays where they were. The two guitarists even take different guitars, and Saki’s expression shows more concern than anything else.
“Wait, they will play other songs and you’re not a part of them?” I ask, not understanding what is going on.

“Unfortunately, no. Our band has another side, dedicated to Kaori’s music; even if I don’t really like what she’s playing, sometimes…” she answers, and given her concerned voice tone, I’m not sure it’s only a matter of music tastes.

“But, why do you let it happen if you don’t like it?” Rika quizzes her, showing more concern about Saki’s expression than anything else.

“You know, Rika, sometimes, you don’t like what your friends like. But you don’t ask them to stop because you don’t like something. Seeing Kaori happy makes me happy, even if she does or likes things I don’t. We founded this band together, and I agreed to let her create her own songs or play the songs she wants. Sometimes, you have to let your friends do what they want because it makes you happy to see them happy. It doesn’t matter if we do not share some interests in a friendship, what matters are the interests shared. I don’t like when she sings like that, but she has so much fun, it would break my heart to ask her to stop.” Even with all her concern, Saki looks and talks about her with pride in her voice.

Rika answers nothing, she just nods even if her concern about Saki’s expression doesn’t seem to fade away. “Saki, I wonder, she’s not just your best friend, isn’t she?” I ask innocently.

“You want to know if I’m dating her or if she’s single? I’m sorry, Hisao, Kaori is into girls.” Saki chortles while giving me a nudge. Even Rika is chuckling, which seems to soothe her.

“What? No! I was just asking this because you sound so proud and concerned when you’re talking about her.” I know I sound like I’m confused, but for me, my question was pretty clear.

Saki stays quiet a bit when the other girls are setting their instruments, except for Sara, who religiously waits for them. The other guitarist doesn’t seem to be thrilled by the turn of events, but she says nothing. “You’re right, Hisao. Kaori is more than my best friend; I actually see her as my sister. When she came to Yamaku three years ago, she was scared; everything was new for her. She had nobody to talk with, and she was spending all her free time at the library. Yuuko, the librarian, was the first person she trusted here, and it took quite a while. She struggled to forge links with other students, because she had a hard time to cope with her disability. I was actually the first student who showed some care to her.” Saki explains, taking her time for some sentences, maybe because she doesn’t want to reveal too much.

“So, you became close because she saw an opportunity to open up with you?”

“I would say that she probably saw it would be easier to talk to me because I made the first move. It took quite a while too; she was quiet at the beginning, but as time went by, she became more chatty. We really became friends at the end of the first year, and we became best friends during the second year. I offered her a helping hand; she took that opportunity, and she opened up to me. We watch over each other, and I’m extremely proud of what she became. The same goes for Rika too. I’m a bit more proud of Rika, though, it was harder for her.” She said that while looking at Rika, smiling, like a mother talking about her daughter.

“What do you mean by ‘we watch over each other?’” I ask, quite interested.

“Kaori is there for me all the time, and I’m there for her all the time. We can count on each other, we help each other, even if she does the biggest part. She’s a part of my family, and I’m part of hers. For example, she would be the only one who could do certain things for me, because of the trust I have for her. Let’s just say she’s quite my guardian angel. Rika is an extremely important person for me too, but it’s different. I would say I’m like a mother for her.” She says, gently patting Rika’s head, which makes her blush.

“So, ladies, we nailed it at 70% last week, let’s try to do it at 80%. You can do it. Sara, Ikumi, we can start when you want.” Kaori’s voice interrupts our little chat, which instantly makes Saki concerned about her once again. The beginning of the song, with the bass and the drums, makes it significantly different from the other songs they played before. It’s more aggressive, and when the guitars combined with Kaori’s singing kick in, I’m speechless.

Her singing is way different from the previous songs, it’s deeper, raw, and I can only compare it to the voice of possessed women in horror movies. I’m beginning to understand why Saki was concerned, singing like that for an extended period must be painful. I don’t understand what she’s singing, but given her voice, I don’t think it would be pretty lyrics. But as she plays, I can see a bright smile on her face; she seems to enjoy it a lot, like the drummer, who bangs her head back and forth while she hits the drums as hard as she can.

I don’t even understand the structure of the song, but she seems to sing with an even deeper voice during certain parts of the song, while playing slower. It leads her to cough between lyrics, which makes Saki shivering. It becomes even worse as the song goes on, and she has some troubles breathing during certain parts of the song. However, I’m amazed at how technically skilled they are, given how complicated this song sounds. I don’t know what they are doing, but I don’t think beginners could do the same.

Near the end of the song, her difficulties to breathe and her almost constant coughing leads her to stop playing, and Saki rushes towards her, taking her by the hand, and apologizing for her to every member of the band, which seems pretty useless given how worried they are about her. “I’m taking her to the infirmary. I’m sorry, everyone.” She apologizes once again, even she did nothing. “Hisao, Rika, you can come if you want.” Rika politely declines, preferring to stay with the others to put the instruments away.

Saki wants to help her friend to walk by herself, but walking with a cane and helping someone to walk is just too much, and I take Kaori’s other arm to help her too. We’re quiet until we get to the infirmary; the only thing that breaks the silence between us is Kaori’s coughing. On the way, I look at Saki and her concerned expression hasn’t faded away; it has worsened.

It doesn’t take a long time for the Nurse to ask us to come in after Saki knocked, and surprisingly, he’s not surprised to see us. “Hello Enomoto, Yamamoto, and Nakai. Enomoto, tell me, did she do it again?” He asks calmly, putting his coffee cup on his desk.

“Unfortunately, yes…”

He sighs when he hears her coughing, inviting her to sit on an examination table. While he listens to her heartbeat, Saki paces up and down, whispering things I don’t understand, probably because of her concern. It takes quite a while before the Nurse says anything, taking his time to examine her. “What did I tell you about your singing, Yamamoto?”

“I know… But… I can’t help myself… You know I love that.” She says, trying to explain herself while coughing.

“And I know I can’t ask you to stop doing it because you won’t listen to me. But you have to take it easy, don’t push too hard on your voice, and you have to breathe more, because of your condition.” Nurse replies, his eyes closed, with a kind tone, as if he was talking with his daughter or anyone close to him. “Enomoto, I will give her some medicines and I will watch over her for a bit, you can stay if you want.”

Saki turns to me with a forced smile on her lips. “I’m sorry, Hisao, I wish things had turned out differently today…”

“You don’t have to apologize, Saki, it’s okay. We can postpone things until next time.” I say with a smile, which seems to erase her forced smile a bit.

“You can join us whenever you want; I’m sure the other girls will enjoy being with you.” I don’t know how she feels about it, but I enjoyed my stay with them, watching them playing music they like. It’s definitely something I would do more.

“You can count on me. Tell her to get well soon.” I say, before retiring, saying goodbye to them.

It was a nice late afternoon, aside from the latest events. Spending time with them would be a nice thing, they seem to be friendly people and if I can be a part of a social group, it would be even better. Saki is extremely friendly and seems to be someone with whom it’s easy to talk.

I don’t know what to do until dinner, so it may be a good thing to find the library to borrow some books, since I didn’t take any books before coming. Nothing beats reading a book before going to sleep. Knowing myself, I will certainly get lost, but it is worth trying. If I don’t make it on my own, I will never succeed.
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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