A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (completed)

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Scissorlips
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/29)

Post by Scissorlips » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:52 am

@ Flutist: I laughed. Then I blushed. Then I laughed and laughed and laughed, I'm writing that one down there and saving it. Thank you so much for your kind words, and thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone else. I, uh. I don't know how to respond to compliments. Like, I really hope it doesn't seem like I'm ignoring them, or I'm waiting around fishing for more people to say nice things about the story, the truth is that I try not to bump my own threads unless necessary and I honestly don't know a good way to accurately convey my gratitude over the internet. I'm even starting to run out of ways to say thank you, so uh. Yeah. I really appreciate it.
Emulsifier wrote:I hate to be a spelling nazi, but it should be "physics", not "psychics"...

But, even with that, I'd gush about this if it weren't for the other readers already having gushed as much as I want to.

As someone else said, "It's full of... good." I can't wait for the next update.
Haha, I thought I'd caught all of those. Thanks for pointing that out, physics has never been my strong point, and my penchant for writing way too late at night starts to show through sometimes.
I've been pretty busy with finals coming up and dealing with setting up school stuff for the fall, but I hope to have the next update posted by tomorrow night (or 6 AM Tuesday, to be true to form). Thanks again for all your interest and support.
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Sin of my sins
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/29)

Post by Sin of my sins » Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:33 am

Are you back to writing more Snoozu now that you're done with Blackout? ^^

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Finn Solomon
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/29)

Post by Finn Solomon » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:05 am

I love this fic! Always had a thing for Suki, she just looks so cute when she's sleepy. I like how you've portrayed her, your realistic depiction of narcolepsy, the hallucinations with the Grim Reaper are very interesting, and of course, Miki. I love your Miki too.

Please update!

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 5/29)

Post by Scissorlips » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:59 am

Sin of my sins wrote:Are you back to writing more Snoozu now that you're done with Blackout? ^^
I am, Blackout was just a short thing that I wrote in one night. This is actually the longest running story I've ever done to be honest, which brings me to my next point:
Hi. Sorry it took me so long to get this out, like I may have said before finals are coming so I've been rather busy lately. I say "may have" because I should have gone to bed about six hours ago and actually have class in a little over three, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Can I... can I say this without sounding arrogant? This update is fairly massive. At almost 14,000 words and nearly 19 pages, it's the longest piece of fiction I've ever written, maybe even the longest anything I've ever written. Because of that, I had to split it into two chapters. Since this marks the end of Act 2, I think this is a good time to try to ask a few questions. Basically, I would really appreciate it if, after reading this update, you could tell me some of the things you've enjoyed about the story so far, and some of the things you thought could have been done better. Likewise, what are some things you would like to see happen further down the line, and things that you don't want to see? Any of these, or really any other feedback that you feel like providing, would really help me out.
Thanks once again for reading, and I hope you enjoy it.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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So Much In The Dark

Post by Scissorlips » Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:14 pm

So Much In The Dark


“So, you and Hisao are going on a date on Saturday?” He asks, positively beaming.

“Something like that.” I stare straight ahead as we make our way from the main building.

“This is going to be exciting. Are you excited? I'm excited.”

“Not really.” I continue walking.

“You're just saying that. You're nervous, I can tell. It's okay to be nervous.”

“Okay.” It's gotten dark so fast.

“Don't worry. I would be nervous too.”

“I really doubt that.”

He laughs. I stop walking, he stops too. We stare at eachother for a few long moments, his expression is unreadable and I wish I could say the same for mine. But just being around him makes me feel like I want to cry. Eager to change the subject, I take a glance at my surroundings. The school grounds are covered with shadows and absolutely still, without even the sounds of the wind or the occasional bird.

“It's so dark.” I fumble with the words. I've run out of things to talk about, I don't want to talk about anything. I don't want to be here. Not anymore, I hate it.

“It's always dark here, Suki.” He says quietly.

“Where's the table? The game?” I ask. This is different again, and different is bad. Instead of that tiny, claustrophobic emptiness, I'm standing outside the girls' dormitory, next to a familiar skeleton draped in black robes.

“Time out.” Death raises his bony hands to form one of the signals I've seen used in sports games on television. Usually something like that would be said in his derisively sarcastic tone, but this time he's completely serious. It only makes my stomach clench tighter with a mixture of fear and dread.

I want to wake up. What was I doing? Where was I? I don't want to be here. Please.

“It's my turn though.” The last thing I want is a nice long chat. I'd rather things be back to normal, back to our game. Hell, I don't even have to be winning again, I just don't want to be here, like this, now.

“Is it? It's so hard to keep track sometimes.” He replies, still completely serious. Slowly, he takes a seat at the top of the cement stairs--I hear the sound of bones creaking--and gestures for me to do the same. I have half a mind to bolt through the doors and make for my room, and he knows it. After all, it's all in my head to begin with.

“Don't run, Suki. You won't like it.”

I won't like it here either, but Death actually sounds tired instead of threatening for once. With no real choice, I sit next to him. He stares across the grounds with empty, dark eye sockets, as if watching the sunset. But the sky is a sheet of black, without stars or lights of any kind.

“This is nice, isn't it? Sitting here like this.”

“No.”

“It wouldn't be any fun if you agreed with me, Suki.” He tilts his head--skull--in my direction, his grating, distorted voice regaining a bit of the usual edge.

“We used to do this all the time.” He says.

“No.” No. This is where I draw the line. I'm not doing this, not in my dreams, not in my head. I stand up, my fear has turned into rage. Or, it's getting there at least. Death slowly lifts his head to look up at me.

“That wasn't with you. It never was.” I glare down at the figure next to me. He stares back quietly for what feels like minutes.

“I don't have much more time to play with you, Suzu.” He turns again to watch the nonexistent sunset. “You'll be gone soon, one way or another.”

“Like I'm listening to anything you say.”

“I happen to be an expert...” Death cups his bony jaw in one hand, still staring off in the distance. “...on this topic.” He chuckles, a sound like someone's choking gasp.

I don't know what to say to that. This is right around the time I usually wake up. I try to pinch my arm through my sleeve, it's never worked before but it's worth a try now. Death watches with what I can tell is amusement, even though he has no lips or eyes to convey it.

“That would be too easy, Suki.” He slowly gets to his feet again, knees and legs snapping and popping, the sound makes me sick. “Too easy.”

“I'll be going now, Suki. You have a lot to do, I'm sure.” He turns to look me straight in the eyes, and I'm frozen in place. Something about that gaze, that stare.

I can't fight it. I can't get away from it. I feel powerless, like a...

Like a scared teenage girl, standing in the street, screaming for help.

My eyes begin to burn.

“The next time we meet, it will be time for our game to end.” Death says solemnly.

“What do I get for winning?” I sniff, wiping my eyes. There's no point in hiding anything from him, I already know those empty sockets see straight through me.

Death smiles. I don't know how he does it, I can just tell that he does.

“What do you want?” He asks.

I don't know what I was expecting him to say. Not that, that's for sure. I try to think of something, anything, but nothing comes, and I don't want to risk testing his patience.

“I don't know.” I say at last. Death smiles wider, again, not in the skull of a face, but in the feeling that he's giving off, somehow I just know. It's in the air, part amusement, a tiny drop of sorrow, and the rest is entirely predatory.

“That's okay.” He says, nodding slightly. “I do.”

One bony hand shoots forward like a snake towards my head and--



I cry out, my eyes snapping open. I feel myself falling backwards. Luckily I land on the tile floor of the cafeteria, instead of the hard cement of the stairs outside. I stare up at the lights in the ceiling, my chest heaving up and down.

Dream. It was just a dream. Right, of course it was. It's always a dream. It's always been a dream.

Geez. That was... that was...

Aaaugh. I don't have time for nightmares. Several heads poke into my vision, Miki on the right, Taro on the left. Miki looks like she's not sure whether to ask if I'm okay or to laugh, and Taro's eyes show concern while his mouth shows nothing but affection for the pork bun currently occupying it.

I can't deal with this crap right now, I'm still freaking out about the physics test tomorrow and the... thing? The date? The thing. Whatever it is that comes after the test and will hopefully be a lot more enjoyable. I pull myself up off the floor and twist my shoulders back and forth to test for any evidence of sprains. No new ones, anyway. I sit back down at the table, a half-eaten but luckily unsquished sandwich in front of me.

“I'd give that one a ten out of ten.” Akio mutters, either his gaze went straight back to the book perched in one hand or it never left to begin with.

“Lunch and a show, what a deal.” Miki bumps me with her left shoulder, smiling encouragingly. I can't help but smile back, she always knows how to push my buttons that way. Sitting across from me, Hisao looks at me with genuine concern.

“Bad dream?” He asks.

You could say that. Actually, yeah. Yup. Bad dream. I guess I get my fair share of those.

“Not really. It's nothing.” I smile, hoping I'm awake enough to sound sincere. He doesn't look convinced, but he nods and goes back to slurping a bowl of noodles. By this point he's completely settled into the groove of eating lunch with us, and doesn't even seem to mind the food anymore. But the sudden disconnect hangs in the air between us. This sucks, I want that smile back. I aim a gentle kick under the table, just enough to tap his leg. Hopefully he's not at a school for the disabled because of crippling explosive leg... syndrome. Yeah.

Hisao looks up, and we lock eyes again. “I mean it. I'm fine.” I say.

Please please please yes. Hisao smiles, a real smile. “Okay. I'm glad.”

We continue looking at eachother from across the table even after the two of us fall silent. That's our thing, I guess. We're dating now, it's probably normal to have a thing. Wait, are we dating now? We haven't actually--I mean, am I technically--I don't know. Man. It's been like this all day, the two of us awkwardly walking on eggshells around eachother, happy but unsure just what to do. I don't feel like a different person than I was before yesterday. The only thing that's changed is that I can't look at Hisao without getting that feeling, what do they call it? Butterflies. It's a good feeling. And it scares the crap out of me.

On the other side of the table, Hisao looks about as attentive to things as I am. I wonder what he's thinking about? Maybe the same thing as me? Did he always used to do that, or are these long staring sessions so boring to him that he's started to daydream too? No, no, if he was bored he wouldn't bother doing it. And if I was that boring he wouldn't have... he asked me to...

Miki appears in my peripheral vision, I can just make out her face, frowning in concentration, and something in her hand. There's a clicking sound. I glance over to see her grinning at us, brandishing her phone.

“Sorry, I couldn't help it. It was a kodiak moment.” She laughs and turns the screen around so I can see the picture she just took. On one side is me, staring intently at Hisao, slightly blushing. On the other is him, staring straight back, a distant smile on his lips and his head just as much in the clouds as me.

“A kodiak is a kind of bear.” I say, trying to hide my embarrassment. Hisao is pretending to be fascinated by his noodles, but now he's blushing a little too.

“Whatever, it was too cute.” Miki laughs again, then she winks at me conspiratorially “I'll send it to you in just a second.” She whispers.

“Yes, that, do that.” I whisper back, then quickly turn to Hisao, my cheeks still flushed.

“That reminds me.” I say. “Your number, I need it. In case of emergencies.”

Hisao's lips turn upwards in a slight grin. He reaches for his pocket. “Emergencies?”

I nod. “Yeah. Sleep emergencies. Test emergencies. Or what, your dorm mate, Kenji right? Maybe I could warn you ahead of time when the feminist invasion is about to go down. It could save your life.”

Hisao groans, glancing quickly at the other guys around the table, but none of them seem to think less of him because of his association with the semi-blind conspiracy theorist. If anything, even Lezard gives him a look of pity, the first time he's even deigned to glance in his direction all day.

He's mad. We haven't even told anyone about our plans to start dating yet besides Miki who's sworn to secrecy, and he's still picked up on the change in the air. He notices me peering at him and I quickly look away.

I wish it didn't have to be like this. Lezard is... well, he's an ass, most of the time anyway. But every once in a while he tries to do something slightly less asinine--is that? Asinine? Nine asses? Is that how--whatever. The point is, sometimes he'll go out of his way to do something nice for me, even if he's not very good at it. And it makes me wonder if it's his weird way of telling me that he likes me. I don't know how to respond to things like that, and when I never seem to react in the right way, he gets even more annoyed and goes back to being an ass again. And that's why, after being in the same class all year, he's still nothing more than a friend. It makes me feel uncomfortable, not like I feel threatened by him or anything, but I think he has feelings that I don't, but he won't say or do anything about it so there's nothing either of us can do but let things stay the way they are. Well things are changing, and even though they weren't great before, it's clear that he's unhappy with the way they're going now.

I'm sorry Lezard, I can't help it. I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I don't know what you want and even if I did I don't think I want the same. There's nothing I can do about that. Thinking about it makes me depressed, but I look up and find that Miki is giving my phone number to Hisao, since I've been present but tied up with other things.

“...452, right?” Hisao is tapping at his cell phone, frowning in concentration. He looks like he isn't familiar with using it much at all.

“You got it.” Miki nods, grinning.

“What?” I look back and forth between the two of them. Someone could have poked me or something, they didn't need to go around my back. Well not around my back, more like right in front of me. I need to stop spacing out like this.

“Don't you worry Suzu, adults are talking.” Miki winks at me, tapping away at her own phone with her good hand. Normally she has trouble doing a lot of things that would require two hands, but being the gossip that she is, navigating her phone was one of the tasks that she adapted to quickly.

“What?” I turn to Hisao, but he's biting his lip, obviously focusing. “Juust a second.” He says.

A few moments tick past. I look at Taro, who's sitting next to me.

“What?” I ask, but he just shrugs and continues jovially chewing his second bun.

My pocket vibrates. “I'm Suzu's phone and I'm getting a text message.” A familiar voice chirps, muted by the fabric covering it. Miki had recorded the notification tone a few months ago without telling me, the first time I'd gotten a message had almost given me a heart attack. But I'd kept it, it's kind of funny in a dumb way, and Miki loves to hear her own voice coming from my phone, so it works for everyone.

“That's your ringtone?” Hisao looks at me incredulously. I tilt my head at Miki, who flashes another wide grin.

“Isn't it great?” She says.

“I'm Suzu's phone and I'm getting a text message.” My pocket replies. The tinny sound next to the real thing produces a weird contrast. I pull out my phone, a message pops up telling me that I have two new texts.

One is from Miki, with the subject of “Just kiss alrdy”. Attached is the picture of me and Hisao that she took.

Right, that's. Right. I make a carefully neutral face as I save the picture and then move on to the next message. It's from a new number, and it says, in all capital letters, “HI. IT'S HISAO.”

I look up at him. “You know you're yelling when you type like that right?”

He blinks. “Oh, yeah. I just really wanted to make sure you knew it was me.”

“Of course.”



Lunch break ends, and we make the trek back to the classroom. Before going in though, I tug on the back of Hisao's shirt, motioning for him to walk with me a little further down the hallway. He complies, looking a little nervous but not irritated or anything. Join the club.

“So, uh. Saturday.” I mumble. There's an elephant in the room and I need a new ivory keyboard for my piano. Actually I've never played a piano in my life, I'd probably make better music passing out onto it than I would actually trying to play it. But that aside. We agreed to do something together the day after tomorrow, and I still have no idea what.

“Right. I haven't really thought about it.” He quickly catches himself. “Well I mean I've thought about it. A lot, actually. I just don't have any ideas yet because I don't really know what you're into.”

Into. That makes sense I guess. What am I into? Not really that many things that would make for an exciting date. I don't go out much, partly by choice and partly by necessity. I don't like unfamiliar places, especially when I'm by myself.

“Well... unless you want to sit around and read together, I think we'd be better off going with something you like.”

“What, no option for a slumber party?” Hisao grins. I scoff in mock indignation.

“That's not funny. You think that's funny?” I can't help but smile though. It was funny.

He laughs, holding up his hands in a peacemaking gesture. “Okay, okay. You'd probably destroy me in a pillowfight anyway.”

“True, true.” I pretend to consider the idea. “I have spent years honing my technique. I wield my weapon, Excali... pillow... with deadly accuracy.”

Hisao frowns, not quite understanding the reference.

“I pulled it from a stone.” I add. He tilts his head, still not getting it.

“Anyway,” I give up. “The point is that if you ever tried to best me in a pillow fight, you would already be dead.”

“I'm not quite sure about that, but I'll take your word on it for now.” He says. “In that case... I don't really know. All I've really done since getting here is read books. I used to play soccer when I was younger, but... do you like soccer?”

I have to shake my head. “Me and organized sports don't really get along. Besides, don't they have spiked shoes in that game?”

“What, cleats?”

“Yeah, those.” I shake my head harder. The thought of passing out and getting trampled by a group of soccer players makes me shiver. Hisao seems to understand.

“I never really played it seriously anyway. And the nurse doesn't want me doing something as intensive as that so I don't mind.” He says. At the mention of something medical, my ears perk up.

“Really?” He still hasn't told me what it was that brought him to Yamaku in the first place. I know something like that can be deeply personal, but, well, we've grown a little close in the time since he's arrived, and we're even dating now. Or... sort of. Not yet? This situation is so weird. I just want the physics test to be over so something, anything can happen.

“Yeah.” Hisao nods. He knows that I'm still in the dark, and a pensive, thoughtful look crosses his face. I think he's about to tell me his deep dark secret. I brace myself, staring at him attentively. He looks like all his... parts... are working. How bad could it be?

Hisao takes a deep breath, opens his mouth to speak... and then closes it again, running out of steam. I stand there and watch him, waiting patiently. It's the least I can do for all the times I've zoned out on him.

“Er.” He gives that uncomfortable frown that I've come to know. Come on, don't chicken out! I won't judge you, I promise. I know I don't really need to know, but I want to understand you more. I want to know who you are, faulty immune system or autoimmune disease or, or genetic mutation and concealed superpowers, whatever. It doesn't make you a bad person.

Please don't be scared. This is nothing to be scared over. I could tell you all about being scared.

“I think the bell is about to ring. We should head back to class.” He says. No!

“I'm pretty sure we have a few more--” The loud chime that suddenly echoes through the halls cuts me off. Damn it.

“See? I was right.” Hisao smiles, looking both a little relieved and a little disappointed himself. He's already walking back towards the classroom, I trail behind him. You might win this time Hisao, but I'm not giving up yet. I'll learn your secret identity if it's the last thing I do.

Actually, that's supervillian talk. I'm not a supervillian, I'm a sidekick. Well. I guess I could be the hero when Miki isn't around. And besides, I of all people don't have a right to pry secrets out of Hisao.


After class gets out, Miki kidnaps me to help time her for some laps at the track, claiming that there will be plenty of chances to be alone with Hisao soon. I don't quite like the tone in her voice as she says it, but at least she hasn't talked to me about the birds and the bees yet. That's a silly analogy anyway, birds don't even like bees. Or do they? Do birds eat bees? And what does that even have to do with... with...

...anyway. Before I know it, it's Friday, the day of the test. No matter how hard I try I can't seem to shake the feeling of impending doom that hangs over my head. Not just for the test, Hisao's tutoring went a long way and it actually feels really good to be caught up in class for once. No, it's not just that, it's the fact that we still haven't ironed out just what our plans are for Saturday. I guess it all depends on how well I do on the exam, if I bomb it we might just be having a pity party. Are those real things? If they were they'd probably serve food salted with the chef's tears, and it wouldn't even be good food because the chef would be full of self-pity, and good food cheers people up anyway so it would be besides the point.

Right, the point. The point is that I'm used to having great big unknowns in my future, that's pretty much all there is. But having something planned to happen tomorrow and having no idea what it is, that bothers me even more. I try to look at it like a mystery, like a surprise, but I don't think I really like surprises. I get enough of those all the time, never knowing when I'm going to be awake and when I'm going to be asleep.

There's a dead silence in the class as Mutou goes from row to row, leaving each of us a gift of several sheets of paper stapled together. How kind of him. I glance through the various questions, steeling myself for the bloody battle that is to come. After reaching the last row, our teacher returns to the head of the class and gives a short speech about knowing we're all up to the task. By this point I'm gripping the sides of my desk, staring at him in stubborn determination.

“Good luck, everyone.” Mutou looks around the classroom one more time, his gaze coming to a rest on me. He gives me the tiniest smile and then nods his head. I wish I had brought a hachimaki headband, one with a cool slogan like “No prisoners!” or “Sucks to your ass-mar!”. But I forgot to do anything like that, and instead I have to rely on returning his nod with a swift, forceful one of my own.

The exam begins. I glance at Miki to my right, who's busy taking in the first page with a growing frown and widening eyes. Hubris! To my left, Lezard is running one hand through his hair in frustration as he chews on his pen. Another casualty! I will climb to the top of a mountain of corpses if I must! Let me just change my shoes first though, that sounds gross.

I sneak a peak at Hisao behind me. His eyes are calmly moving back and forth between the page in front of him and his calculator. He looks engrossed in the material, almost as if he were reading a good book. He doesn't make it look easy, but he gives off the vibe of someone dealing with an old, familiar adversary, one he's come to respect. I wish I could be in his shoes, but my battle spirit won't allow me to approach things so casually.

He glances up, and stares back at me for a moment, and then gives me an encouraging smile. I return it quickly before pivoting in my chair. What... what was I doing? My head feels kind of hot now. No, no! Never turn your back on an enemy! This is no time to get flustered over a boy, now is the time for action! For our date on Satuday! Attack! Attack!

Charge!

No survivors!

Solve for X.

Easily done!

Two billiard balls--billwhat? I don't even know what those are--move on a frictionless surface with speeds of...

Never surrender.

Calculate distance D from the problem above.

Second wind...

Calculate the displacement between--wait, what? I don't remember going over this in class, that's not fair.

Help.

I plow through the exam. It's a long, monotonous slough, but eventually I'm batting aside equations and crunching numbers with the rest of them. There are still a few problems that stump me, and I'm left resorting to the old standby methods. Find X? I circle the letter on the diagram and next to it pencil in “There it is, I found it”. I only have to do that a few times though, and even if I feel shaky on a couple others, the majority of the questions require nothing more than time and effort until they fall before me. There's an extra credit question at the end, but by that point my brain is so fried that I offer up a doodle of The Stump Signal--a beam of light projected onto the clouds that forms a blunted wrist and the words “Hell yeah!”--and then collapse forward onto my desk. Victory is mine, and to the winner goes the spoils of... the spoils of...

And to the victor goes a nap.


I'm awoken a short time later by Mutou tapping on my desk.

“Come Suzuki, wake up. It's over, you survived.”

“Victgrbly or death.” I mumble, feeling like I'm emerging from a pool of warm water. I open my eyes to see my teacher holding my exam in one hand, the stack of papers belonging to the rest of the class in the other. He's glancing over the first page with an expression of satisfaction and almost surprise. Ha, take that. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. You can take that to the bank! And... and ask to withdraw some money, or something. Yeah.

Yeah.

I stretch my arms above my head as the teacher returns to the head of the class. Everyone else seems to be just as wiped out as me, the clock is attracting constant stares. Mutou knows it, and declares that since he can't unleash us on the rest of the school early but doesn't have anything else to teach us today, we can spend the rest of the period talking, as long as we're quiet. It looks like he's about to sit down and start grading the papers right away, but I'm proven wrong as he deposits them in a pile on his desk and pulls out a scientific journal to read. Oh well.

Miki would normally pull her desk over to mine, but she's flopped on top of it like a fish lying in the sun. She raises one hand to me and switches back and forth between a thumbs-up and thumbs-down repeatedly to ask me how I did. Pursing my lips, I give her a determined thumbs up, and she gives me a bright smile before thumping her head down on her desk. I dedicate this victory to you, Miki. May your sacrifice never be forgotten, may Stumpfist be avenged.

Ah, who am I kidding. Stumpfist is eternal. This is only a minor setback. Besides, I should be worrying about myself. I passed the test. I know I did. Maybe not with flying colors, but I still think I did well enough to deserve a celebration. And I know just who I want to celebrate with. In fact, here he is now.

Hisao appears in front of me. “Status report?” He asks.

Even after my nap, I still feel exhausted. I'm leaning on my desk with both elbows, propping myself up.

“Sir, we're reading green across the board. All systems are go.” I raise one hand in a salute, but removing the support causes me to slowly sag forward onto my desk. As excited and terrified as I am for our date, the best solution to all of my problems is obviously another nap. Yeah, that's what I need. Just a quick one, just 40 winks. I'll be back in action soon.

“Fire the missiles.” I whisper as everything begins to go black. Hisao is smiling brightly and saying some joke about making my tutor proud, but as much as I want to hear it, I don't. It's naptime, no time for talk. Naptime.



“Okay, are you all set?” Miki asks, checking me up and down as we stand in the common room of the girls' dormitory.

“Yes mom, I think I've got everything.” I make a pouty face, but inwardly I don't really mind. She might fuss over me sometimes, but half of her whole motherly act is just that, an act. I don't need another mother, all I need is a friend who knows to catch me when I start to tip over. I've found more than that though, I've found a good friend, my best friend. I love Miki like she was family. She might as well be.

“I can't help it, this is going to be great. My little Suzu is all grown up, going on dates with boys. It brings a tear to my eye.” She's grinning again. Miki gives me one last look over.

I had decided to dress myself this time, going with a cream colored sweater that my parents had sent me last winter. My mother made it herself and it's huge. Like usual with the things she tries to knit, one sleeve is a bit longer than the other, but both go well past my hands, and the bottom almost reaches my knees. I had always thought it looked a little like wearing a tent, but Miki had swooned over the sight of me in it, claiming that it was the cutest thing she'd seen in, well, ever. So I had decided to run with it, cute is good. The sweater obscures the pair of gray shorts that meet some long black stockings and brown shoes, they seemed like normal things to go with it I guess. And that was about all there was to it. Miki had tried to deck me out in makeup but I refused, my sleep schedule provides me with all the eyeshadow I could ever need. I think.

Anyway. Miki finally decides that I'm ready for action. I mean, that I'm ready for my date. She checks one last time to make sure my phone is charged and that I know to call her if I need anything, and then pulls me into a tight hug.

“I'm really glad to see you going out like this again, Suzu.” She says into my shoulder, her tone heartfelt and serious. “I mean it.”

“Hey hey, what's all this?” I ask, but I know what she means. It's been a long time since I've done anything close to resembling this. It's just one of the reasons for that uneasy, warm, ice-cold feeling in my chest. Miki gives me a tight squeeze before releasing me, one hand on my shoulder, her other wrist around my waist.

“Just try to have fun. And remember, if he tries anything, if he even thinks about trying anything, you call me and we'll bury the body behind the school.” She says it in a completely casual tone, smiling brightly. I'm about to ask if we can just find a horse to put in his bed instead, but then I remember that technically I wasn't around for that conversation.

“I will. Have fun that is. I'll be fine, Hisao is a good guy.” I smile back. I don't know why, but I trust him. Actually, I do know, it's because Hisao was so vulnerable, so empty when he got here, and I've watched him become stronger and happier, almost like watching him come alive. He's still not quite there yet I think, but he's getting there. And so am I. I realize now that in the months before Hisao came, I was just floating, just watching the days go by. I went to class, I fell asleep, I played battleship in my dreams for some stupid reason. I went to the literature club meetings, I hung out with Miki and the others, but that was about it. Every day was, more or less, exactly the same. Now something's changed, I can feel it. Being around him is waking up some part of me that I think I thought was gone. I think I had buried it, deep in the ground, last year. And now Hisao shows up and I, I feel... alive. Nervous, awkward, terrified at times. My dreams have been getting weirder and worse, and I've made an idiot of myself in front of him more than once, but, but he still puts up with it. With all of it. We're about to go on a date. He wants me around.

I want him around too. But there's something I have to do first.

After making me swear to tell her every detail about tonight when I get back, Miki leaves to meet up with some friends from the track and field club. I'm left on my own in the common room, waiting for Hisao to show up so we can go into town. We had finally decided on watching a movie and grabbing something to eat afterwards. It's an old standard but neither of us really have a better idea and the company is more important than the actual event anyway, or so I hope. He should be here in about an hour.

I take a slow look around the room. No one else is here right now, I should be able to go undisturbed. I wish I could say I was getting some much needed rest before my big night, but somehow I know I won't be that lucky. I settle into of the chairs, twist into a comfortable position, and then begin gently rubbing my knee almost by instinct. After suppressing the tiny ache, I lean back and wait.

I have a feeling about this. Not a bad feeling, not a good one either, I just know. Here we go. It's time.

I close my eyes. When I open them again, the common room is gone. The table is back, and so is the all-consuming dark on every side, as well as the familiar hooded figure sitting across from me. Our game is laid out between us. For the first time I can remember, the pieces are sitting in a small pile, waiting for me to put my ships where I choose.

“Hello, Suki.” My opponent says. I nod back to him, but my focus is on the board set out in front of me.

Without another word, we both begin to set our plastic pieces at different points around the map. Then the game begins.



“J10.” He says.

“Miss.” I don't even bother looking up for a reaction. “C3.”

“Miss.” He seems just as focused on the game as I am, not even bothering to make the occasional joke or obnoxious statement. Is this really it? Is this really the last time? When did this whole thing start, somewhere around a year ago? And this is the first time I can remember it feeling like this. Like we're playing for keeps.

“I9.” He calls. I glance at my cruiser in dismay, I was hoping it was close enough to the corner to avoid center shots but far enough away that it would go unnoticed. Instead, my opponent decided to methodically sweep outwards looking for his next target. “Hit.” I mutter.

Death reaches for a red tab to mark his success, and then proceeds to wipe out my ship over his next few turns. I grimace with each attack that lands, but I'm not losing quite yet. I've already taken out his patrol boat and I think I'm in the process of figuring out which way his main battleship is aligned.

I steal a moment to glance up at the figure sitting across from me. So much strategy for a game that seems to rely completely on luck and reaching around in the dark. Every turn is a step into the unknown, waiting to see if one of my ships will get hit is like watching a teacher look around the classroom, searching for someone to call on. You can only sit there and hope it's not you, hope you get lucky. I hate it. But I think I actually have gotten pretty good at this game, after doing this for so long. Not that I wouldn't rather be doing other things. Not that my opponent doesn't scare the crap out of me sometimes.

“See something that you like, Suki?” He asks. Case in point. His hooded skull is still pointed down at the game in front of him, but I can tell that those empty sockets are looking at me. I don't even know how, I just know, like I can almost see the eyes that aren't there.

I think I'm getting too familiar with this. I think I'm starting to almost get comfortable with this whole screwed up situation. Well good thing this ends today.

I hope. One way or another.

“D2.” I respond. Death looks back at the game--somehow--and slowly reaches for a red tab.

“That's a hit.”



We continue to go back and forth. Despite claiming that he was going to let me win some time ago, my opponent was either lying or he must have changed his mind, because he fights me tooth and nail. Tooth and bone, I guess. I probably shouldn't have believed anything that came out of a mouth looking like that anyway. The board slowly fills with red and white, every time I sink one of his ships I find myself a little closer to the edge of my seat. Every time he takes one of mine, the room somehow manages to get even darker. Now, we each only have one ship left. My submarine has two hits remaining but he's missed the last few turns, unable to find out which way it's rotated. The only thing he has left is his aircraft carrier, it's the biggest ship and can take five hits total. I've only managed to find it twice, but I'm pretty sure I know where it ends and where the empty spaces resume.

I need three more turns to finish this. He can end it in two.

Come on. Come on.

It's my turn. “B9.”

“Hit.” He says. Two more turns. Two more hits. I know where it is. I can do this.

“H3.” He fires back.

“Hit.” I stare at my screen, fighting back the waves of cold panic that begin to rise up from my chest. Two hits on my submarine. One more and I lose. One more and I--I look back up at the person, the thing, across from me. Death stares straight back at me, we manage to lock gazes even though he doesn't have any eyes.

What happens if I lose?

I'm not going to find out. I'm not. I'm not.

“C9.”

“Hit.” He responds, not even looking down at the game. He reaches for a red tab without ever moving his head.

It's his turn now. My heart is pounding like a jackhammer in my chest, the corners of my vision are blurred. I can't see my legs, I can't see the edges of the table, everything is shrouded in darkness. I feel like I'm standing on an island in the middle of a black ocean, like I'm so deep inside my dream that I might never find my way back again.

No. Not me. Not like this.

Please.

“H5.” Death says quietly. I close my eyes. I let the feeling pass through me, a deep shudder threatening to echo throughout my entire body. I open them again.

It's a miss.

He'd skipped over the last end of my piece, hitting the empty water on the other side. I look back up at my opponent.

“Make your move, Suki.” He whispers.

“D9.” The words leave my throat without a second thought. No more time for hesitation. No more wondering, no more being afraid of the unknown. Not here, anyway. No more battleship.

Death watches me for a long moment as if studying my face. Maybe he's trying to burn every detail into his memory, because he's about to leave now and never return. Right? God, I hope so.

“You sunk my carrier.” He says at last. He slowly begins removing the tabs and game pieces from the board, setting them back in the holding slots on either side. The little clicking noises of plastic colliding are the only sound besides my thumping heartbeat.

“I won.” I breath the words, almost as much to myself as to my opponent. Death nods as he continues packing up the game.

“Yes, Suki, you did.” He reaches somewhere under the table and produces a cardboard box, which he places the board and the pieces inside. Then he folds his hands in front of him, and looks at me from across the table.

“What happens now?” I ask. I wasn't expecting fireworks and confetti, or, or a song and dance and cake or something. Maybe I was hoping I'd wake up and that would be it. I could put this all behind me.

“If I let you go, you'll just come back.” He says simply.

“I'm pretty sure I can promise to stay away.” I'll read books on how to control my dreams if I have to. I'll put on headphones with classical music playing before I go to bed or something. Anything. I'm done here.

“You always come back.” His voice lowers, becoming something close to a growl. Why is he the one getting angry? It's me who's been stuck here, it's me who's been forced to play this stupid game all year. And now that I finally win, he's acting like I'm walking out on him or something.

“I've kept you company all this time.” He narrows eyes that he doesn't have.

“Is that what you call this? Company? Like you're a houseguest?” I feel my own anger rising, I am not going through another year of this.

“I've kept you close by, kept you safe.” He snaps. “Do you remember the nightmares you used to have before I came along, Suki? Do you remember how you woke up screaming every single night, do you remember the therapy sessions?”

The anger dies in my chest. I don't have a response to that. I had forgotten. I had forgotten all of it. I wish it could have stayed that way.

“You tried to stop sleeping. You lived on coffee and energy drinks and pills, they said it was going to kill you. A coping mechanism, that's what they said you needed. You found one. You found me.”

I sit in silence. Old memories swirl around my head like sparks and embers and leave burns, each one a tiny, painful reminder of a time before. All I know is that I want to wake up. I want to leave this place.

I want to see Hisao again.

“We're in this together now.” Death says, empty eyes glaring.

“Then why did you let me win?”

He doesn't move, doesn't respond. He just continues sitting there, staring. I press forward.

“You could have beaten me, but you missed on that last turn. You let me win, you wanted me to. You even told me that you were going to let me win. I don't want to do this for the rest of my life, and neither do you.” I'm trying to reason with a skeleton. Why can't I just have normal dreams like other people?

Death leans back in his chair, looking thoughtful. “The rest of your life, huh...” He says quietly.

“The game is over. I'm done, I don't need you anymore.” I stand up, pushing my chair back.

“Is that any way to treat an old friend? Is that any way to treat--” He reaches for his hood as if to pull it down, but I turn around quickly.

“No.” The darkness all around is starting to brighten. My vision is clear, my mind is calm. Somewhere in the distance, I can hear the sounds of other girls in the common room, talking and laughing. Someone has turned the TV on.

That's where I belong. Not here. Not with this thing.

“It's not that easy, Suki. Suzu. It's not that easy.” Death's tone is changing, the howling gasp turning into a voice I know and recognize. I haven't heard it in a long time, except in my dreams. Except here.

I don't dare look back. Some part of me knew this all along. But this charade must have been close enough to the real thing to let me start sleeping at night again. Even if it made me hollow inside, even if it made me lose sight of everything and just drift along through life, it was better than the nightmares.

I don't know if they'll start up again after I let this go. But it's been a whole year, I'm ready to try. And I'm not alone anymore, I have Miki now. And maybe, maybe I have Hisao too.

That's right. I don't know for sure if anything will work between Hisao and me. But I'm ready to find out, and I can't do that here. I have places to go, people to see. Other games to play.

“Goodbye.” I say. I begin walking in one direction, any direction, away from that table and away from the stain on the memory of a boy I used to know.

“See you soon.” Death says.



Artwork by Skrats: Make your move, Suki

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Last edited by Scissorlips on Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:26 am, edited 6 times in total.
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I'm a writer for a visual novel project called Familiarity, where I go by the name Lunch.

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Looking For Love (But Not So Sure)

Post by Scissorlips » Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:14 pm

Looking For Love (But Not So Sure)


I wake up, slowly, quietly. Taking a look around, I find that the common room is abuzz with other students, and that my dream only ate up about 20 minutes, I still have the better part of an hour before Hisao is supposed to show up. Yawning slowly, I turn my gaze to the lights of the television, my mind a hundred miles away.

So that's it then, it's over. I won, and I should be free now. Now I can focus on things like... like seeing a movie with Hisao, and, and... I don't know what else. But the important thing is that my dreams are my own.

As good as I feel about that, I know that nothing else will really change. I'm still the same person, I still have to worry about taking a bad fall, or missing something important or boring my friends out of their minds. But for now, I feel good. I try to put the dream and everything it entails out of my head, I just want to forget all those painful memories that were dredged up. I can't plan moves three turns in advance, it's too much for me. But I can't keep track of what happened three moves ago either, I just can't do it, my life is too chopped up. My days are broken into slices of being awake, each one padded on both sides by a dream or just empty unconsciousness. It's hard enough to recharge my batteries without worrying about what just happened or what's about to, I can't handle it.

Luckily I don't have to worry about any of that right now. All I have to do is sit here and be really, really comfortable, and wait for Hisao to show up. He should be here before too long. I begin to get those butterflies in my stomach again, a completely different kind of fear than the one I just faced.

I don't know how to do dates. I don't know what's expected of me, if we should hold hands, if we should kiss, anything like that. But I have gone to see movies with friends before, even if I slept through part of them. And of course I've gone out to eat with people. So I'll just do what I know how to do, and hope and pray that the rest somehow comes naturally. With any luck Hisao will be in the same situation, maybe we can be awkward together. It's cute when he gets flustered like that, because I know I probably look the same way.

I picture some of the times I've watched him blush, I remember that confession... I don't even know if I could call it that, but still. The memory is a good one, a happy one. I hold those memories close to me, and I start to feel better about tonight, I'm sure this is going to be fun. I sink into the chair as far as I can go and rest my eyes, knowing that even if I do go back to sleep, everything will be all right when I wake up.


The next time I open them, Hisao is standing in front of me, hands in his pockets.

“How long have you been there?” I ask, blinking away sleep. I think I can hear crickets outside, it must be getting dark. Is he late? When were we supposed to meet again? I don't remember.

“Long enough.” Hisao smiles. He's wearing a sweatervest again, underneath his school jacket. It's a different one, how many of those does he have? I would be lying if I said it didn't look kind of good though. I don't know, maybe I'm a sucker for these kinds of things. He must never know.

“I see you're in your usual attire.” I detach myself from the chair with only a little difficulty, standing up. He's only a few feet away and suddenly that's very close, not that I mind.

“Well, I don't really like the uniform jacket but it's supposed to get cold tonight, so.” His gaze lingers on my oversized sweater. “You look cute.”

I feel myself blushing. Miki, you had better have been right. “You mean it doesn't look like a tent?”

“Well...” Hisao pretends to study my outfit, making motions as if he's checking things off an imaginary clipboard.

“Let's see... Suzu, check. Awake, check. Nah, according to my research, that's all that's required to reach cute status.”

I begin to blush harder. “So I'm not cute if I'm asleep?” I try to deflect my embarrassment, but it only comes off as fishing for more compliments. I can live with that. Hisao shakes his head in mock seriousness.

“No, then it's a double-check. Off the charts.”

I laugh, but I don't really know how to respond and he seems to have run out of steam as well, since now he's just standing there blushing too. Every once in a while he's really, stupidly clever, and then he's back to normal Hisao, I like it. I like both, it keeps me on my toes. And that's what I need right now, as I fight off a yawn.

“Shall we go?” I ask. Hisao grins, I can sense another quip coming on. If only I had my pillow here to smack him with. Excalipillow.

“Right away, ringmaster.” He says, motioning towards the doors outside.

“What?” I squint at him as we start to walk.

“It's a circus joke. Because uh, it actually does look kind of like a tent now that you mention it.”

“You!” Excalipillow can wait, right now any of the pillows in the common room will do for a good beating. But as I look around for a weapon, Hisao is almost running for the door of the girls' dormitory, laughing.

“C'mon.” He motions for me to follow, and opens the door. Outside I see the last rays of the setting sun and the lights that have kicked on over the school grounds, beckoning me towards a night out.

I don't know how to do this I don't know how to do this I don't know how to do this. I take a deep breath, my cheeks are still warm and something inside me is so very warm too.

“Okay.” I never had a choice and never needed one.



Together we begin to walk down the hill towards the town. “Do you think we can stop and get some coffee somewhere? Like as an emergency supply.” I ask, staring up at the stars that are slowly beginning to appear in the dark purple sky.
“Will they let you take that into the movie theater?” Hisao looks thoughtful.

“I can be sneaky. Besides, I'll just put the cans somewhere in my tent.” I emphasize the last two words with feigned outrage, and Hisao laughs.

“Actually, that won't be a problem.” He stops walking.

“Huh?”

“Look there.” He points, and I turn to see a pair of headlights slowly coming up the hill towards us. A taxi comes to a stop in front of us, and Hisao pulls open the door.

“You got us a taxi? But we're just going into town.” I swing myself inside and take a seat anyway, careful not to hit my knee on anything.

“About that...” Hisao sits down in the back next to me, and then speaks to the driver. “Ready to go.” He says. The driver nods, and we turn around and begin heading back down the hill.

“We're not going to the movies anymore?” A bit of the nervousness starts to creep back into my throat. I still trust Hisao, but we finally had a plan, and now I'm in a strange car headed into the unknown again. That's not a good combination for someone with a faulty head like mine, I don't even really like car rides, and I hate taking buses or trains by myself. I could fall asleep and wake up half a world away.

I'm not by myself now, though. Hisao is quick to explain.

“I had a better idea. The movie theater is there all the time, and in a little town like this there usually aren't any good movies anyway. So instead, I thought we could go to the city.”

The city? At night? Don't they have muggers and serial killers and organ thieves? Those especially.

“Cities have organ thieves.” I hope he knows this, he has to know this.

“You have such a morbid imagination.” He raises one eyebrow at me, the sight of him lit up briefly with each streetlight the car passes.

“Imagination isn't enough to keep all your organs in your body.” I stare out the window at the scenery for a few moments before turning back to Hisao, who's still looking at me with a mix of bemusement and concern.

“Are you really upset? Do you really think we're going to get our organs stolen?” He asks.

“I'm just kidding. Mostly.” I smile reassuringly, and he returns the gesture. But then I go serious. “You have to promise to make sure I come back tonight with all my organs.”

Hisao grins. “I promise.” He says, offering his hand. I guess I'm supposed to shake it? Is that a guy thing? Is that even a thing? I go with it anyway, taking his hand in mine. We shake hands once, but then neither of us move to let go. We just sit there like that, staring at eachother in the low light.

This is uh. Shouldn't he let go now? But it's not a bad feeling. Quick Suzu, say something. Don't mess it up.

“You really promise?” I mumble. Hisao nods, still smiling, but I think he's blushing too.

“I really do.” He says. We still stay like that for a few more moments, I guess my attempt at averting the awkwardness failed. I want to pull my hand back but I don't want him to think that I don't want to. Um. Touch him. Luckily, the taxi driver does us both a favor.

“Please don't start getting frisky in my backseat.” He says in such a way that I can't tell if he's joking or not. Our hands are split apart in the blink of an eye. I go back to staring out the window, gazing at the reflection of my reddening face. This is going to be a long night, I think.



We arrive at the city in the blink of an eye--I must have fallen asleep at one point, but I don't remember it. The next thing I know we're driving through the brightly lit streets, I stare out at the huge buildings and the throngs of people still walking even though it's well after dark now.

“Have you been here a lot?” Hisao asks.

I shake my head. “I don't really leave the school very much. I grew up kind of closer towards the country, so I'm not used to this.” I turn to look at him. “Are you?”

He shrugs and gives a half smile. “Maybe.”

“Maybe? You mean you don't remember?” But the car slows to a stop, and Hisao cranes his neck to look out the window. “We're here.” He says.

He gets out and I follow, still feeling a little bit uneasy. As Hisao pays the taxi driver, I stare at the huge neon sign that lights up the night above our heads.

It's an amusement park, one of the smaller, themed ones you find in a lot of cities of this size. In the distance I can see brightly lit carnival stands, rides, restaurants, and in between all of these are people everywhere. The mascot looks like a cat with a huge, round head and its mouth open in a wide grin, it's eyes rolled back to one corner. It smiles at us from fifty different places, that smarmy expression is plastered all over the place. I hear the taxi begin to rumble away, and Hisao steps forward to stand next to me.

“I'm sorry for changing our plans like that. It's just that Miki recommended this place, and I really...” He looks disheartened for a second, and stares past me as if gazing at someone else. No no Hisao don't start spacing out, I know that sounds hypocritical coming from me but I want to hear what you have to say.

He comes back after only a moment. “...I really want this to go right.” He smiles a sad, hopeful smile, like if he makes that face long enough it might eventually turn into something genuine and real.

Don't make that face, that's a stupid face. You're here on a date in the city with a cute girl wearing a tent, who likes it when you're happy, not when you make faces like that. I'll show you how it's done. I throw on my brightest smile, the one Miki gives me when I fall asleep at the top of the stairs and wake up at the bottom.

“Come on, let's get this show on the road.” I say, taking a deep breath before slipping my hand in his. That's what you do at times like these, I'm pretty sure. It feels right anyway, it feels good. Hisao's hand tightens around mine, and he nods, his smile turning, transforming into something real. Mission successful.

We walk towards the entrance. It's been a long time since I've moved around while holding someone's hand like this, I'm used to walking arm in arm with Miki, since she needs to keep her good hand free to do things like carry bags and punch people. Hisao pays our way inside while I squirm a little bit, the guy is supposed to do that and he does it without a second thought but it still feels weird. I resolve to win him something at the games to pay him back, maybe I can find something to match the enormous T-rex who's been keeping me company these last few nights. What's the opposite of a dinosaur? Do they have big fuzzy meteor plushies?

“What do you want to do first?” Hisao asks as we step inside. It's a Saturday night, and people swarm all around us, families with small children, couples laughing and talking. All of them are either trying to avoid the various people dressed up in mascot costumes or pestering them for photographs. At least there are no clowns. I can't stand clowns.

“Well, why don't we--” I feel something pull the plug at the back of my brain. My eyelids suddenly weigh a thousand tons, and I slowly begin to pitch sideways. Just as I begin to go though, a pair of arms suddenly grips me tightly, pulling me back upright.

“Thanks.” I smile at Hisao, who nods, wearing a gentle smile of his own.

“So, how about we track down some coffee first?” He asks. I bob my head up and down vigorously, both agreeing and trying to force myself to wake up.

“Yes, that's... yes. Coffee first, yeah.”



We successfully track down some excellent but overpriced coffee, and then set about exploring the park. The night is still young and there's no class tomorrow, so we take our time. It's been years since I was at an amusement park, there was one in the city a little ways away from our house when I was a kid, and every month my parents took time off from their busy work schedules for a trip there. A lot of things are just like I remember, I guess some things are pretty universal. There's the rollercoasters, the souvenir shops and little exotic, expensive food stands all over the place. Every direction I look in, there are bright lights that drive away any trace of darkness. It makes me feel like a kid again, I stare at everything with wonder even though I still feel a tired tugging behind my eyes. Normally being around this many people would make me uneasy, let alone that I'm in a strange new place. But I'm not scared at all, Hisao is here and his hand in mine feels... right. I don't know how to explain it. I'm almost afraid if I think about it too hard then it will go away, like something on the edges of your vision. Speaking of that...

“Huh?” I glance around left and right. Was that?

“What's wrong?” Hisao asks. I peer at the crowds around us, but none of the faces jump out as familiar. That's weird, I could swear I just...

“I thought I saw someone from our class.” I say.

“Damn, and I thought I was so original too.” Hisao smiles, and I get caught up in playing off him again.

“I thought you said Miki recommended this place to you?”

“Details details.” He rolls his eyes. “Hey, let's go on that rollercoaster next.”

“Okay, but if you ask where the circus is one more time I'm pushing you off the top.”

“As long as you don't feed me to your lions, ringmaster.”

I resist the urge to do... something, I don't know, in that case I resist the urge to think up something to do to him. A rollercoaster, I don't think I've ever been on one before. No wait, I actually have, I just fell asleep right at the top. Right, now I remember. That wasn't fun at all. And then I woke up just in time to have some ice cream... which had then melted by the time I woke up again after that.

I realize that I had a terrible childhood. Obviously the only way to fix this is to immediately go for ice cream after riding this rollercoaster. It won't undo years of pain and suffering, but the therapeutic effects of ice cream are well documented. Probably. Somewhere. Luckily, the lines for the rides are short tonight, and we're able to speed past the normal signs warning pregnant women and people with heart conditions and things like that. Passing out on one of these rides isn't as dangerous as having a seizure or something, and as long as I'm not alone I should be fine.

We make our way through the line up the stairs--great, stairs--and finally reach the loading section. The actual, snakelike part that you ride in is divided into three smaller carts, each one with room for two people. There's only one chair per pod, so that means we have to... have to...

“Ready?” Hisao asks as the last group of riders climb out and the automatic gates swing open.

“Um, okay, you first.” I reply. He carefully steps down into the seat, and then looks up at me.

“There's no real way around this you know.” He says sheepishly. Everyone else is strapping themselves in already, I start to feel that panic you get when you know you're missing something that you won't have another shot at, like when you spill salt all over an expensive dinner.

“It's fine.” I can do this. Slowly, and with great effort not to bang my knee against the edges of the cart, I lower myself inside. The way it's set up I have to lean back against Hisao, my back pressing into his chest. I can almost feel his heartbeat speed up, even through the some five layers of clothing between us. Even then, the feeling of his body next to mine is... it's... I can't describe it. Even though he knew it was coming, Hisao stiffens at the touch before gradually relaxing. Being this close is new and alien, I haven't done this in... I can't remember. Maybe never, I was just a kid the last time I tried to ride a rollercoaser. And kids don't think about things like his legs spread on either side of mine, and the way I can feel his breath on my hair, not to mention how my rear is... is...

“Are you all right?” Hisao asks uncertainly. He begins buckling us in with shaky hands.

“I-I'm fine. Are you alright?” I'm glad he can't see my face right now, because I'm blushing for probably the thousandth time tonight.

“I'll live.” He says. Then, “You smell like coffee.”

I laugh, the tension instantly broken and I'm so glad, so glad. “And you're a jerk!”

“Is that what you think?” I can hear the smile on his face even if I can't see it.

“It's a scientific fact.”

“Actually that would be a scientific theory, which is a--” The rumbling of the ride beginning cuts him off. The line of pods lurch forward until we exit the covered loading platform. A cold wind lashes at us, and I try to squirm closer against Hisao as stealthily as possible. If he notices, he doesn't say anything. Then again, it's hard to hear anything at all over the grinding noise of the machinery pulling us forward. We hit a slant where we start to go up a steep hill, and gravity pulls my head backwards to rest on Hisao's shoulder.

“Sorry.” I mumble.

“It's okay.” He says, leaning the side of his head against mine. “Coffee.”

“Sorry!” I repeat, louder over the growing noise of the ride. We're climbing higher and higher, the air grows even colder. Hisao laughs and the vibrations feel weird, his body so close to mine.

“It really is okay. Now hold on to something, this is the best part.”

We reach the peak of the track, I pull my head forward to look around. The people below look like ants from up here, it's a really good thing I'm not afraid of heights. Or maybe I am afraid of heights, I mean, this is actually pretty scary. If I did have a phobia like that, would I be sweating? Screaming? I guess I'm not that freaked out. Actually, it's hard to freak out about anything with my back to Hisao's chest, even through our clothes, just the feeling of touching someone else, someone who cares about you and likes you, is--wait, what's that ahead? Is that? No way. No, no way.

“Is that a sheer drop?” I shout to be heard above the wind and the clicking noises of the ride.

“Yeah.”

“That's crazy!”

“Yup.”

We slowly slide towards the oncoming fall, this is probably what watching a train wreck feels like, except of instead of watching it you're the freaking train oh god. With what appears to be certain death fast approaching, I swivel around to try to look at Hisao, but with the restraints around my waist I can't quite meet his eyes.

“Have you done this a lot?” I ask.

I feel him shrug behind me. “Maybe.” He says again, in that same neutral tone.

“What do you mean mayb--”

“You're going to miss it!” I turn back around just in time to see the cart ahead of us vanish.

And then, quite simply, we're next. At least I'm awake this time.



After surviving my first real rollercoaster ride--it was just like the commercials I'd seen on TV, but with a lot more whooshing and maybe, maybe some screaming. Actually, that was probably the wind. Yeah, that's it--we stumbled our way to the nearest ice cream stand. I made Hisao swear to wake me up if I fell asleep while eating it, no matter how cute it might be, and then we went about seeing the rest of the theme park. Hisao pointed out one of those rides that tries to be scary but usually just comes off as corny, the type where you ride in a tiny little kart while things jump out at you or spout generic creepy lines. I continued to sit and lick my ice cream throughout the entire thing, although Hisao jumped once or twice. I guess after so much battleship I'm desensitized to that kind of thing, but it was worth it to have something to hold over his head later. And despite his remarks about my sweater he keeps stealing glances at me in the neon lights, like he's checking to make sure I'm still here, like he's trying to make sure nothing has gone disastrously wrong yet. Or maybe he just likes what he sees. That, um, that could be it too. I like what I see too. His already disheveled hair is a complete mess by now, I can tell he's exhausted after tonight but he's still smiling warmly, still enjoying himself. I haven't screwed things up, not yet anyway.

Oh, that's right. I'd been so caught up in the rush of the crowd, all the bright lights and noises and exotic smells, I'd forgotten to worry about stuff like that. I'd begun our date sure that I was going to do something to mess everything up, that I would say the wrong thing or not know how to react, but he'd been with me every step of the way. I'm glad we didn't just go to the movies, I probably would have slept through half of it and you can't really get to know someone better while doing something like that anyway.

Here, under the moonlight and the blinking signs that color the few clouds still lingering in the sky, here is where it all hits me for the first time. I won the game, the battle I've been waging in my sleep for a whole year. This boy showed up out of thin air, and here we are, just a little over a month later, sitting together like this. I can't believe it. My life has changed more in the time since Hisao arrived than in the six months before. And I don't regret it one bit.

I look over at the boy sitting beside me on a bench. It's starting to get late, and we're both completely worn out, but tonight has been so much fun. I never did find a prize that would rival the dinosaur that he gave me at the festival, but we rode so many rides, ate some really great food, we laughed and teased eachother and blushed when someone had offered to take our picture together. Now Hisao sits, gazing up at the stars, a faint smile still perched on his lips.
I let myself sink sideways, perching my head on his shoulder. It feels natural by now, it feels good. He doesn't even start, instead just turning his head to look at me.

“Hisao?” I mumble quietly. I have to get this out, the moment is just right.

“Hmm?”

Don't screw this up, a tiny little voice calls to me from somewhere inside. But I'm just too tired to get worked up right now, the words flow straight from my mind to my lips.

“Thank you. For coming to Yamaku.”

He stares at me as if those were words he had never expected to hear in his life. After a few long moments, he opens his mouth to speak, but just then the sound of fireworks going off steals both our attention. I turn to look and end up sliding sideways until my head is in his lap. Hisao glances down at me for a moment, still at a loss for words, before retuning his gaze to the sky, now lit up by a dazzling display of explosions. Fireworks of every color light up the night sky, drowning out even the bright glow of the amusement park. I lay there, my head nestled in Hisao's lap, and can't help but be reminded of the firework show from Yamaku's festival, the one that we didn't get to spend together because we barely knew eachother and my parents showed up. This is almost like getting a second chance at that, in fact, a lot of the fireworks seem to be the same type as back then too.

After a few minutes of watching the exploding sky, Hisao looks back down at me, the look in his eyes... I can't quite place it. He looks... happy, and grateful, and tired but so very alive at the same time somehow. I stare back, and I start to feel something, something way down in the back of my chest.

Is this...?

No, I can't say it. It's just too corny. But maybe.. could this be?

Am I falling in love? Are we falling in love?

Is that what we're doing?

Is that how this works?

“Suzu, I'm... I mean, I'm really glad...” He trails off. That snappy, playfully sarcastic Hisao has made a full retreat now. What's left is the real Hisao, I think. The one underneath whatever bandages and casts and whatever other barriers sprang up around his heart when he was in the hospital. This is Hisao, maybe not the person he was before, but nothing like the one I met not so long ago. Maybe he'll never be the old Hisao again.

Maybe he'll be someone better.

“I'm glad I met you.” He says, and I know he means every word. He leans his head downward, and I move mine upwards to meet him. What comes next feels natural, feels normal. But I check just to make sure.

“This is the part where we kiss, right?” I whisper, his face mere inches from mine.

“Yeah.” Hisao smiles weakly. “Yeah, it is.”

I close my eyes. I feel his lips gently meet mine and--

“Suzu?”



“Suzu?” The voice calls again. It's muted and muffled, like I'm hearing it from a great distance away.

“Suzu. Hey, wake up.” I feel a hand gently shaking me. Slowly and with great effort, I open my eyes.

Hisao is standing there, looking down at me with a bemused smile.

“Hey.” He says. “Come on, we're going to miss the movie. Don't make me carry you.”

The... the movie? What? But we were just... we were just about to...

Did I fall asleep at the amusement park and miss the entire ride home? Is that what...?

I slowly look around, drawing a complete blank. I'm in the common room of the girls' dormitory, slumped in one of the chairs. The other students are gone, but Hisao is there, watching me curiously.

“Suzu? Are you alright?” He asks. I stare back at him, my mind still empty. I don't understand, how did?

Oh.

Oh, that's. It was.

No. No no no.

No. Please.

“Hey, hey.” Hisao moves a little closer, his face a mask of concern.

“Another bad dream?” He asks.

My mouth falls open. A bad dream? That was... that was the happiest I've been in... and we were just about to...

I feel wet, hot tears spill down my face. No warning, no buildup, it just happens. One minute I'm staring at him in incomprehension and the next I'm sobbing and sniffling like an idiot. I should have known. The sudden change in plans, how he was so vague about whether he'd been there before. How familiar the rides and the fireworks were, even the faces of my classmates showing up and then disappearing. It was all a dream, the entire thing.

I can't stop crying.

Through the haze of tears I see Hisao frowning. See, I managed to screw things up after all. All he wanted was a nice date in town and now... and now...

But Hisao doesn't seem upset at all. He leans in closer and, slowly, gently, reaches forward. With one hand, he brushes the hair from my forehead, and with the other, he wipes away a tear just as it's about to run down my cheek.

He looks me straight in the eyes, and slowly speaks in a calm, quiet voice.

“Oh god, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” He says, reciting the words with practiced ease.

Ha. Ha ha. More Shakespeare. That's... that line is...

The next thing I know, my lips are on his, and we're kissing. It's an act of desperation, of fear, all those moments we just had together at the theme park never happened, never existed, and I'm terrified that I'll never be able to get those emotions back, that I'll never be able to get things that right again. Hisao kisses back, a little unsteadily, a little uncertainly. But not reluctantly.

When we finally pull apart, I remember that I might have been ready for this but Hisao almost certainly wasn't. “I'm sorry.” I moan, my face flushed and red and still wet with tears that haven't stopped. “I'm sorry, I'm sorry.”

“Don't apologize.” Hisao says softly. He moves forward and carefully squeezes into the chair beside me. He's wearing that uncomfortable expression that says he's not sure if he's crossing some boundary, but he reaches out and gently puts his arms around me. I curl up next to him, burying my head in his shoulder.

This is... this is the real Hisao too. I might have dreamed those moments underneath that sky blazing with fireworks, but the person I felt those things for is still there, he's right next to me, holding on to me tightly. Some part of me says that I can do it, that I can get that feeling back. Just don't give up, Suzu. Just don't give up.

We stay like that, clinging to eachother, until my tears stop and, eventually, sleep takes me again.



End of Act 2.



Artwork by Thighs: Awake

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Last edited by Scissorlips on Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:28 am, edited 5 times in total.
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I'm a writer for a visual novel project called Familiarity, where I go by the name Lunch.

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AusJake
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by AusJake » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:11 pm

You...... You...... Mother..... Fucking........
Making me tear up and shit. :cry:
Glorious..... Absolutely Glorious.

If that had ended badly, (which is what it seemed like for a bit there) i was ready to flip my shit. BUT!, then it ended on a positive note....man. These Feels. I'm feeling them.
Here lies Jake, Died 1/6/12 of an Awesome Overload

Jesse: nothing says comfort like De-flowering a lesbian with your penis..
Me: your a girl. And what?! Where'd you read that?
Jesse: i didn't, im a hermaphrodite...
Me: you wish.
Jesse: i do.
* the awkward silence that followed.... My gawd!*

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by Zombiedude101 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:25 pm

Perfect... just perfect. Just....HNNNG...you made me have yet another case of the feels.
I support Snoozu.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by bradpara » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:35 pm

You sir are awesome
Shizune=Hanako>Lilly>Emi=Rin
Family Game Night A Shizune After Story Fic
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Elcor
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by Elcor » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:52 pm

My emotions....you are the cat to my mouse. And I'll be hardpressed to give you that list.
Fan Fiction writer's are drug dealers and they don't even know it.

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Ascended Flutist
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by Ascended Flutist » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:46 pm

I...uh...hi...uhm...bye.

*Twenty minutes later.*

The feelings are gone now. Good Lord, Sir, you're really good at doing this. I already said that. It doesn't matter. You're great. Seals of approval, Crowns of Skillfull Writing and Ribbons of Astute Scene Designing to you. And...stuff.

Now on to the more serious stuff.
Scissorlips wrote:you could tell me some of the things you've enjoyed about the story so far, and some of the things you thought could have been done better. Likewise, what are some things you would like to see happen further down the line, and things that you don't want to see? Any of these, or really any other feedback that you feel like providing, would really help me out.
There hasn't really been anything that griped me so far. Good flow/pacing, some romance, some drama, some intrigue, some humor, all of it is great. That must be frustrating for you, but you're too good for me to criticize. So sorry.

Concerning things I liked so far: Suzu is endearing. That's the most fitting adjective I could think of. Be sure to keep her that way, unless you want to have some drama. Funnily enough, the previous sentence applies to your story as much as it applies to these forums.

As for things I'd like to see/wouldn't like to see, I do have something:

If you're going to go somewhere else with the dream sequences, be sure to keep them as well tought out as the battleship/Amusement park scene. You could go for something outlandish 'cause, y'know, it's a bloody dream, but it shouldn't be just there doing its own thing and disregarding the rest of the act in a most shocking display of selfishness.
Then again, you most probably thought of that before, and that probably won't be helpful either. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

And lastly :
Scissorlips wrote:I honestly don't know a good way to accurately convey my gratitude over the internet. I'm even starting to run out of ways to say thank you, so uh. Yeah. I really appreciate it.
You just keep being you, and I'll keep being happy.


You thought this was over? So did I, but then this occured to me: You seem to be getting close to the science stuff. If you want to continue down that road, and if science isn't your thing, I'll be happy to provide physics/math-type exams snippets ranging from "trivial" to "tears of scientists distilled into pure agony" and geared towards japanese high schoolers.
And to live in Peace A post Hanako Good End fanfiction. That about sums it up.

Fanfics Thou shalt not regret reading : Bloodline, Doomish's Misha Pseudo-route, Rika's Story, A Pseudo-pseudo Suzu Route.
There are many other apocryphas worth reading in the fanfiction section. Do yourself a favor, dig them up and read them. Reading is good.

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Henry Spencer
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by Henry Spencer » Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:17 pm

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Just in case I have to post something more than an image macro, that's was glorious.

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Finn Solomon
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by Finn Solomon » Wed Jun 06, 2012 4:40 pm

Oh my goodness I was not expecting that.

I love the little details you add that really bring out the personality of each character, like Miki's creativity and Suzu's shyness. I like the way you describe her thoughts and emotions as well, it has a very natural feel and flow to it. Suzu really feels like a real person to me, well done.

The twist was absolutely heart-wrenching, but I'm not sure where you're going with this, is it building up to a big climax with the Grim Reaper playing a part? Anyway I can't wait to see what happens next!
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by lolawesome » Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:00 pm

You toyed with my emotions and I loved every minute of it

THE FEELS OH GOD THE FEELS
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 6/6)

Post by Bi-Polar Hernandez » Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:49 pm

10/10 ROUTE OF THE YEAR ALL YEARS

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