"Can You Open Your Heart?" - a Rika pseudo-route

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Zombiedude101
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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/29/2012

Post by Zombiedude101 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:34 pm

Hallelujah, more of this delicious story has arrived.
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Titus
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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/29/2012

Post by Titus » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:42 pm

Great stuff, I always check this thread for an update :mrgreen: Hopefully some (or most? All?) of Rika's cynical "everything is fucked for me, I don't care" attitude is gone later on.

Can't wait to read the defining moment of the "problem" of this story (even though we've been getting much information already but there's one major moment for every route that will clearly tell), or maybe it'll come bit by bit one after another at the camp scene.

Who knows? I'm excited to find out.

By the way, a question: Is there a reason why Hisao calls Misha by her proper first name instead of her nickname like anyone else?
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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/29/2012

Post by Triscuitable » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:04 pm

Titus wrote:Great stuff, I always check this thread for an update :mrgreen: Hopefully some (or most? All?) of Rika's cynical "everything is fucked for me, I don't care" attitude is gone later on.

Can't wait to read the defining moment of the "problem" of this story (even though we've been getting much information already but there's one major moment for every route that will clearly tell), or maybe it'll come bit by bit one after another at the camp scene.

Who knows? I'm excited to find out.

By the way, a question: Is there a reason why Hisao calls Misha by her proper first name instead of her nickname like anyone else?
On your latter question, I'd assume it's because of his time with Rika, during which he spends less time with others, and more just the two of them. Plus, he never got haggled by the Student Council, and as a result, never really got to know Misha, aside from his first day.

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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/23/2012

Post by BeastlyFerret » Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:59 pm

Rikabro wrote:
More to come this weekend.
Starting to think this is April Fool's >.>
Shizune=Emi=Lilly=Hanako=Rin=Saki=Rika=Misha=Miki Because all girls are equal and deserve equal amounts of love. However, these girls appeal to me the most~

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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/23/2012

Post by WolfStreak » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:11 pm

BeastlyFerret wrote:
Rikabro wrote:
More to come this weekend.
Starting to think this is April Fool's >.>
It's not over yet he could still post more sunight :mrgreen:
Streak as in streaking by at the speed of light.
Not the naked kind of streak...
That would just be odd >.>

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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/23/2012

Post by BeastlyFerret » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:16 am

WolfStreak wrote:
BeastlyFerret wrote:
Rikabro wrote:
More to come this weekend.
Starting to think this is April Fool's >.>
It's not over yet he could still post more sunight :mrgreen:

LETS HOPE SO >.>
Shizune=Emi=Lilly=Hanako=Rin=Saki=Rika=Misha=Miki Because all girls are equal and deserve equal amounts of love. However, these girls appeal to me the most~

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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/29/2012

Post by BeastlyFerret » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:06 am

Since it's midnight here i'll take it as April fools ;). Haha looking forward to your work Rikabro! :)
Shizune=Emi=Lilly=Hanako=Rin=Saki=Rika=Misha=Miki Because all girls are equal and deserve equal amounts of love. However, these girls appeal to me the most~

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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/29/2012

Post by The O.H.L. » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:08 am

Nwaaaaa. I was looking forward to reading the next installment of this story.

It's not fair, everybody pulling April Fools jokes and it's the midnight before the 3rd where I am. You should be considerate of time zones. It hurts people's feelings. :p
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Re: Rika Story - updated 3/29/2012

Post by Rikabro » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:45 pm

Interesting fact: I'm not an April fooler. Just an unreliable bastard who shouldn't set unrealistic deadlines. Sorry, everyone.

[Edit] This part of the story ends with a branch and two possible outcomes. This is not intended as a CYOA. I will post both outcomes regardless of what anyone wants, and I've already decided which one I am writing first.

Scene 7: Spectres

It’s the last Saturday night before exams, and my head is swimming with things learned and half-learned, doubts, worries about my performance, my future. What’s worse, I can’t even focus on my studies without feeling Rika’s voice whispering in the back of my head that it’s all meaningless, that I’m wasting what little of life I have by toiling in uncertainty, that I should embrace the thrill of total abandon.

Rika and I parted ways after returning from the Shanghai, her saying that she wanted to go for a run with Miki at the track, which came as a relief, as I’d already been planning on blowing off my running appointment. After a week-long hospital stay, I can imagine she’s a bit stiff and could use a good stretch.

For my part, I spent a good deal of the evening with my study group, up in the library, which has been open late to accommodate the exam season. Yuuko made a joke about how she might as well have given me a ride back to campus from the Shanghai if I’d only waited. Even though the library was open late, though, it was still relatively empty, and she even had time to run out and treat us all to a round of coffee, as if she were having a hard time distinguishing one job from the other. One coffee for each of us, two for herself. “A little something special to kick you in the butt,” she said. It struck me how seldom I ever see her doing anything but working.

Drinking coffee felt rebellious for reasons I don’t think she was privy to. Even now, I feel a bit jumpy. Paranoid, jittery, and worried about what might be lurking in the shadows of my room as I open my bedroom door.

But all I see the my empty bedroom in the same state of disarray that I left it in this morning. My curtains are still drawn back, and the lunar light is pervasive, drawing out the shapes of my room in a way reminiscent of last night, which strangely makes me feel ill at ease rather than nostalgic. There’s something unsettling about low lighting compared with complete darkness.

Finally, I flick on the lightswitch, drop my knapsack, and start to change out of my school uniform for the first time since yesterday morning. I could really go for a shower.

No sooner am I out of my shirt than my text message notification beeps.

“Nice to see you.”

I blush and my first instinct is to look out my window, but I can’t see anything through my reflection. I cautiously go to hit the lightswitch and then return to look outside.

Rika’s especially good at having eye contact with me the moment I notice her. Where she stands she seems almost to be floating in mid-air, directly backlit by a crescent moon. The dark, thin branch of the tall Zelkova tree outside my window is barely visible beneath her feet. Where you might expect someone to be clinging on for dear life, Rika is simply standing upright, hands in the pockets of her grey hoodie in a nonchalant pose. With her effortless expression and the complete stillness of the tree below, she looks weightless and ethereal.

As usual, her complete lack of apparent unease puts my anxiety into overdrive. Combined with the lingering effects of the coffee from this evening, I feel my heart clattering against my ribcage, and a sweat forms on my forehead.

I open my window, and the cool night air feels refreshing against my face and my bare chest. For a Saturday night, the outside is almost perfectly quiet.

Rika takes a few steps in my direction, cautiously, one foot in front of the other, extending her arms at her sides for the time being, then resumes her casual pose. She must be about four meters from my window, where she’s standing now. I’m still not convinced she could have snuck into my room this way, but far be it for me to expect a magician to disclose her secrets to me.

I open my mouth to say something, but hesitate, fearing that anything I say might cause her to lose her concentration. She smirks gleefully at me, sensing my trepidation.

“What’s the matter, Mr. Nakai?” she says, her voice the only thing audible anywhere in the still of night. “You’re not shy about your body, are you?”

I’d been so preoccupied with my second-hand fear at Rika’s boldness that I’d almost entirely forgotten my semi-nude state. I take a few calming breaths, trying to fight back the surge of blood pressure. Hearing her voice, maybe contrary to her intentions, is helping. I still say nothing.

She takes one step closer, and the branch dips visibly under her weight, its leaves rustling loudly. I subconsciously listen for a cracking noise that never comes, and I swallow my fear in a tense moment of relief. Her arms teeter at her sides, either in an attempt to regain balance or an attempt to restore my terror. I wouldn’t be surprised at the latter.

“I’m just afraid of peeping toms,” I say at last, my feigned confidence betrayed by a juvenile crack in my voice. She giggles, retaining her composure and her upright posture, which seems more and more impossible given her circumstances.

“I just like to watch boys sleeping,” she replies. “It can’t be helped if they occasionally wind up shirtless in the process.” Her eyes wander down to my chest, and I self-consciously hurry to cover up my surgical scar with my right hand. She furrows her brow and stares me at me, her red eyes almost glowing with intensity.

“Hisao, who do you think you're hiding from?"

I sigh and reluctantly lower my hand. The fact of the matter is that I’ve never been seen this way by anyone but Nurse since coming to Yamaku. Rika leans forward a bit, scrutinizing my scar, the branch beneath her dipping even more as she shifts her weight. Her expression turns solemn as she meets my gaze again.

“You’re not used to being visibly disabled, are you?”

I put my hands on the windowsill and lean forward, bringing myself a few centimeters closer to her. As my head leaves the window, I feel like I’m in a tree of my own. A tree made of masonry and steel, one that will let me recoil in safety the moment I feel I’m in any danger. And yet, I fear the sight of the descent below more than Rika appears to fear anything right now.

Again, I say nothing to her. Her expression changes suddenly, and she narrows her eyes at me as she reaches down, tugging the bottom of her sweater with a swift, steady motion, over her head, and casts it recklessly aside, letting it fall into the grass of the courtyard below. Her bright white skin beams with radiance in the pale light of the moon.

For the first time since that night in the woods, I behold the vision of her partially undressed body, her narrow shoulders that almost look frail, her thin but toned forearms, her firm stomach, the flare of her hips in her fitted blue jeans. She closes her eyes, maybe to save my shame, before reaching behind her back and unfastening her bra, slipping it off her shoulders, and letting it fall to the earth as well.

I inhale sharply, my heart at a steady peak as the old feeling returns. The feeling I had in the woods with Iwanako. The feeling that someone is turning herself over to me, seeking intimacy. I struggle to retain my composure, reaching instinctively for my chest.

Eyes still closed, almost as if to mimic me, she places her slender hand between her breasts, her long, spider-like fingers arching as if she were clasping at something that should be there. The scar on her chest, however, is so long that she couldn’t possibly cover it up with one hand if she tried, running almost from her collarbone to the bottom of her ribcage. Its bright red strikes a contrast with her pale features.

As affected as I ought to be by the sight of a beautiful young woman exhibiting herself like this, all I can think of is her scar, the string of operations she’s had, and all the time she must have spent in the hospital over the course of her life. My self-consciousness flees me entirely. I lower my hand, exposing my chest, and watch her face as she opens her eyes again with a gentle expression. A bit of moisture glitters at the corners of her eyes, and she speaks in a voice much softer than I’m used to.

“Hisao… Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished you might see someone else looking back at you?”




Scene 8: Divergence

The vision of Rika’s luminous form nearly burned into my eyelids, I descend the stairs of the dorm building and head for the exit into the courtyard, where I see her resting up against the tree, clothes back on, reposing in the grass lazily and fixing her eyes on me as always. The dull grey of her sweater blends her into the landscape, the hood over her features sheltering her pallid visage almost like a lampshade. She gives me an odd smile as I approach her, hands in my pockets, not sure what I ought to say, or whether anything needs saying. There’s something concerning in her expression.

“Why are you still awake, anyhow?” she asks me. “Aren’t your eyes tired from staring at textbooks all day?”

“I’m on a caffeine rush,” I explain, taking a seat beside her. She interlocks my fingers with hers and stares up at the sky. The clouds are now completely gone and it’s a totally clear night. It would be pitch black if not for the hanging moon and its host of stars. The canopy of the tree branches sways over us as a light breeze catches them. I try to shake from my head the sight of Rika on top of this tree, exhibiting herself for me for no apparent reason. The way her back arched when she slipped out of her sweater, the abandon with which she discarded her garments. And how now, she acts like nothing is out of the ordinary.

I look at the various dorm windows, all of which either have the curtains drawn or the lights off. I wonder if anyone saw her? Or me? Would Rika even care?

Her head rests on my shoulder and she heaves a deep, worrying sigh.

“Something on your mind?” I ask.

“I just hate exam week,” she says. Not what I was expecting from her.

“I thought you didn’t care about exams?”

“I don’t,” she says flatly. “But everyone else does.”

I blush deeply. It hadn’t occurred to me that Rika might feel even more segregated at this time of the year, when everyone is busying themselves with thoughts of the future, flaunting their successes, contemplating university. I’m not much better myself for having tried to impress upon her the importance of exams earlier today in the coffee shop.

Maybe that’s why she tries to put the fear of death in me every chance she gets. Because she doesn’t want to be the only one that feels that way.

I look at her beautiful face, obscured from the light of the sky but practically bursting out of the darkness. Her shiny silver bangs fluttering in the breeze, her long braid hanging out of her hood and resting against her chest. And that matchless face of hers. The worst enemy of her love of espionage. Brighter than any feature in the night. She looks so strange, almost supernatural. “Not like other girls,” as she said to me last night.

“I just,” she starts speaking, and then cuts herself off, looking at me weakly.

“Rika?”

She shakes her head, closing her eyes. “I just feel like you’re so far away right now. I couldn’t wait to see you again the whole time I was in the hospital.”

I furrow my brow at her. “Then why wouldn’t you let me come visit you?”

She lets go of my hand and folds her hands in her lap, looking away.

“You really just don’t get it, do you?”

My pulse gathers audibly in my ears. What did I say that was so wrong?

“I’m trying to get it, Rika,” I say cautiously, “but you can be so secretive sometimes. I’m not a mind reader. You can’t just expect me to always know what you mean, all the time.”

She clenches her eyes shut, a touch of colour coming into her cheeks, and she takes a shuddering, controlled breath.

“I wanted to see you. But not if it meant you had to be around. Knowing that you were back there at Yamaku, filling the empty space that I’d left there, living out my life… that made me feel like we were still together. If you saw me in the hospital,” she says, lowering her voice to almost a whisper, “well, I wasn’t really there, either.”

I rub my eyes with my right hand. After a day of cramming the mysteries of the high school curriculum into my tired brain, I lack the mental energy that it would take to properly construe Rika’s cryptic revelations. She seems to notice my annoyance, and a pained expression overtakes her. Rika doesn’t like to show her weakness, so I can understand how she wants to be as vague as possible whenever she’s emotionally exposed. But I just don’t have the energy for it tonight.

She sighs again. “Let me tell you a story about my mother.”

This is not what I was prepared for. From the look on her face, I think she’s a little delighted at my turn from frustration to intrigue. She leans back against the tree, still keeping her hands in her lap, and looks up at the sky in contemplation.

“My mom used to have dreams about being a career woman. She had a good job and a bright future. But when she got pregnant with me, she was fired. Just like that. My dad still worked, but he never made a lot of money at his job. She couldn't find work anywhere else, either, so she just ended up staying at home and taking care of me. They had to move to a smaller house, change their life around… you know. They used to fight a lot. I think my dad was always embarrassed that we had to downgrade our lifestyle. When I remember my mom, and what she used to be like, all I remember is a person who was tired all the time. A person who had to give up her dreams because of one bad choice she made. Sometimes they would fight about whose life was worse, who was sacrificing the most. I was always afraid they were going to get a divorce, and that me and my mom would be left alone.”

“You don’t have any brothers or sisters?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “No, they learned their lesson after having me. Imagine if your child was a ticking time bomb. Something you love like any mother would love its offspring, but also something you never wanted. And something that you might lose at any moment. Every day you’d have to question whether or not you really want the child to live at all. I can’t blame her for feeling that way.”

“Rika,” I stammer, but can’t think of anything else to say.

She looks away from me, making the distance greater, and goes on in her soft, contemplative tone. “When I became a teenager, my mother started seeing a therapist. And for the first time in my life, she seemed happy. She started smiling more, talking more. She and my dad grew closer again. And she stopped hating herself. And she stopped wondering what life would be like if I weren’t around anymore.”

“That’s good,” I say idly, and she shakes her head at me.

“No, you don’t understand. Nothing changed for her. Her problems were never solved. The only thing that changed was her. Her doctor had given her a prescription that made it easier for her to cope with life the way it was. And now that I’m gone, she’s still stuck in the same marriage, living the same tragedy, and she’s happy about it.”

“I don’t really see the problem with that.”

She sighs again, her voice starting to tremble. “The problem is that my mom is gone. I was looking forward to getting out of the house, coming and living here at Yamaku, because I thought it meant she would finally be able to have the life she always wanted. But she stopped wanting it. Now she’s gone, and that sad woman I always wanted to see happy will never be happy, because she’s gone. I wanted her to finally find what she wanted. I didn’t want her to go away.”

I put my hand on Rika's and look her in the eyes, grappling with her gaze. Tears are starting to gather in the corners of her eyes. She looks a little self-conscious, for a change. A complete about-face compared with the reckless figure I just saw exhibiting herself outside my window.

She puts her hand on her forehead, pushing back her bangs, and closes her eyes again.

“That’s why I don’t like the person I am in the hospital. Or the person I am on medications. You don’t know what it’s like for me in there, Hisao. All my life, doctors have been monitoring me, studying me, filling me up with drugs, treating me like a specimen. Everyone wants to know more about my condition and how to fix it. ‘For the future,’ they tell me. Once my doctor said to me, ‘Rika, you are going to help so many people.’ Can you imagine? And all they want to do is change me. Change the person I am until I'm impervious to death. But I’m sick of pretending my problem isn’t real, Hisao. I don’t want to be the person that I am when I’m on medications, or in a hospital ward… this little life that I have, this problem, it’s not theirs. And I don’t want to be better if it means I’ll be a different person. I’m sick of people trying to make me live forever. I just want to be left alone.”

The last word punctuates her sentence with a poignant efficacy. Once more the silence of the courtyard overwhelms me with the urge to say something. Maybe Nurse was right to suspect that she’d gone off her medications?

[Rika, your life is yours. I just want to be here for you.]
[Rika, getting better doesn’t mean you have to stop being yourself.]
Last edited by Rikabro on Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Rika Story - updated 4/2/2012

Post by BobBobberson » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:56 pm

Ahh shit, the choice between good or bad ending is definitely this one. Gotta admit, you're doing a pretty damn good job as a pseudo-route writer. If someone did all the artwork for Rika and all that, I could easily see this being on KS 1.1.

Just for clarity's sake, was Rika and Hisao on the same level heightwise on that scene when Rika's on the tree? When I first read it I thought Rika was a story or two below Hisao, so the whole imagery that came after got messed up.
Last edited by BobBobberson on Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rika Story - updated 4/2/2012

Post by misterprinny » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:59 pm

I never liked cliffhangers. T_T

Good writing as always though!
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Re: Rika Story - updated 4/2/2012

Post by Rikabro » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:06 pm

BobBobberson wrote:Just for clarity's sake, was Rika and Hisao on the same level heightwise on that scene when Rika's on the tree? When I first read it I thought Rika was a story or two below Hisao, so the whole imagery that came after got messed up.
Thanks. I tried to reword it to clarify a little bit. She's at his level.

So... you guys aren't going to tell me which dialogue option you would choose?

[Edit]: On second thought, as someone pointed out, please don't tell me which option you would choose. That comes dangerously close to "CYOA" which is against forum rules. I am going to post both outcomes in due course.
Last edited by Rikabro on Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rika Story - updated 4/2/2012

Post by BobBobberson » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:16 pm

Rikabro wrote:
BobBobberson wrote:Just for clarity's sake, was Rika and Hisao on the same level heightwise on that scene when Rika's on the tree? When I first read it I thought Rika was a story or two below Hisao, so the whole imagery that came after got messed up.
Thanks. I tried to reword it to clarify a little bit. She's at his level.

So... you guys aren't going to tell me which dialogue option you would choose?
Oh, so the next choice is up to us? Oh crap.

Personally, I'd go with "Rika, your life is yours. I just want to be here for you." Rika may or may not run off after that, but the second option probably would go against her whole "Trying to make me live forever" bs. She's probably heard the argument before.

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Re: Rika Story - updated 4/2/2012

Post by stanman237 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:43 pm

My suggestion is to make them links to pastebin.com and finish the story there as is, one as a bad end and the other as a good end. Unfortunately you cannot do that here in this forum so I guess paste bin is the next choice

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Re: Rika Story - updated 4/2/2012

Post by Grayjack » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:38 pm

I'm going with the first choice. Hopefully it leads to the good end.

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