A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (completed)

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Mistoffelees
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 8/27)

Post by Mistoffelees » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:32 pm

Well enjoy your vacation then! Don't feel obligated to a bunch of anons on the internet, haha! As long as we know you're alive I think we can all keep our Suzu route cravings in check.

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 8/27)

Post by Zombiedude101 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:34 pm

First post of the month, here.
I support Snoozu.
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Scissorlips
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 8/27)

Post by Scissorlips » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:19 am

Mistoffelees wrote:Well enjoy your vacation then! Don't feel obligated to a bunch of anons on the internet, haha! As long as we know you're alive I think we can all keep our Suzu route cravings in check.
Thanks! I had a great time. Everything is kind of up in the air for the next few weeks before some big changes come my way, so we'll see what happens.
Zombiedude101 wrote:First post of the month, here.
Time really does fly. To be honest, I'm not even sure what day it is.

Thanks for your patience, everyone. Like before, I wanted to do a few little extra scenes now that I have the chance to do so without breaking the flow of the story, so even though you might be ready for Act 4 to start, I hope you enjoy them. I had ideas for a few more but they're not very clear right now, so I'll probably get started on 4-1 within the next few days. Thanks again for your continued interest and feedback.
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Broken Bones

Post by Scissorlips » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:20 am

Broken Bones
-A day in the life of the Snuzuki Twins.
Note: this story contains spoilers for Act 3, from 3-8 onward.


The automatic doors slide open, and a small boy walks into the lobby of the hospital. His steps are hesitant at first, but they grow in confidence and speed once he reaches the carpet that extends from the entrance to the front desk. He carries a thick book in one hand and only the slightest hint of a limp in his stride as he reaches the information desk.

The woman behind the counter leans over the top so she can see him. “Well good morning.” She says, smiling brightly. “Are you here by yourself?”

The boy nods, smiling back despite the dark, tired lines around his eyes. “Dad is parking the car but he said I can go in first if I'm careful.”

“That sounds like good advice.” The receptionist glances down at her computer. “It looks like she's in room 243 today. Do you want me to have someone take you there?”

“That's okay.” He replies, looking around for a moment before setting off again. “I think I know the way by now, thanks.”

Even as he says it, his pace begins to grow unsteady as he steps off the carpet, and slows down entirely once he rounds the first corner. The boy grips the wall-mounted railing tightly with his free hand, eyes narrowed in determination as he navigates through the now familiar halls of the hospital. Just as he's about to reach the first elevator, he suddenly topples forward and spends the next few minutes lying, unmoving, on the tile floor. Luckily it was only a short nap and his arms were positioned to help cushion against the fall, so after a little while he picks himself up, wipes sleep from his eyes, and continues forward with only a few minor scrapes to show for it.

Reaching the elevator, he presses the button for the second floor before sinking down to sit in the corner. Another nap wouldn't be such a bad idea right now, but he wants to get there before his father catches up with him, he wants to do it himself. The doors open and he staggers back to his feet, ignoring the hardness of the cool tile floor as he begins to walk faster and with more confidence towards the room marked 243.

To the nurses in the wing, he's a familiar sight. The girl inside had been gazing blankly out the window, but turns her head as the door opens. From the redness of her eyes, she looks like she's been crying recently, but her face lights up upon seeing him enter.

“Seiji.” She wipes her eyes, sitting up weakly. Her sea-green hair has a ponytail jutting out of one side, her left arm is shrouded by a thick cast.

“Good morning, Suki.” The boy says, hiding the book behind his back as he steps over to the bed. All memories of his tumble on the way here and any trace of the lingering aches or fatigue that follow him are buried and forgotten.

“Is it morning?” She glances at the clock hanging on the wall, squinting a bit, but he laughs. It can be hard to tell, for them.

“Does it really matter?” He smiles warmly and she looks back, her bright green eyes staring into his. She wants to return that smile, but her arm... she looks down, frowning at the plaster shackle.

“They say I have to wear this for six weeks, Seiji.” She grimaces. Even with the pain medication, it's ugly, and it's bulky.

“It looks fine.” He replies, as if reading her thoughts. He walks to stand next to the bed, his smile never wavering, there isn't a single trace of the boy who struggled to make it here in one piece. Even at eleven years old, his voice is firm and comforting, the result of years of practice and determination.

He gently runs his hand over her cast. “Blue looks good on you anyway. You look like a kamen rider.”

“Really?” She perks up. He nods.

“Really. Your secret weakness is stairs.” He says with a wink. She grins for a moment, but it fades.

“It's not really that secret.” Her gaze sinks to the bed, she looks like she might start crying again. “The whole class saw it, we, we were headed to gym class and--”

“I know. But guess what?” She looks up.

“Once you get to sixth grade, you'll be able to get out of gym class like me. Then, you'll have to find other ways to stay in shape.” He winks again.

The girl in the bed lets out a tiny laugh. “You mean... you mean like fighting bad guys?”

“Something like that, Suki. Now scoot over.” He moves to climb into the bed next to her and she makes room, hugging him tightly after he gets settled in.

“You're going to be fine.” He whispers, gently patting her hair with one hand while still hiding the book in the other. Oh, right, the book, he had almost forgotten about it.

“Hey, hey.” She looks like she might be falling asleep on him, but he shakes her awake. “I got you something.”

“Hm?” The girl tries to rub her eyes with both hands, but one arm doesn't bend that way anymore, so instead she looks over at him, blinking heavily. He pulls the book from behind his back, offering it to her.

“Assorted Works of William Shakespeare...” She takes it in both hands as best as she can, opening it carefully. On the inside cover is an inscription in pen, which she reads aloud.

“To Suki,” Her expression brightens at the familiar nickname. “May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest, and then bring you straight back to me.”

Her brother laughs. “I don't know what half those words mean,” he says, pretending to be embarrassed. “but I know you like his work, so I thought. Next time you wake up, and I'm not here.”

She looks up, into his eyes, and he stares back as he continues. “I didn't want you to be alone.”

It takes her a few long moments to respond. Even though she knows that he's one of the few people she can always break down in front of, she still doesn't want to. She doesn't want to have to break down, to feel like she needs to. She doesn't want to fall asleep at the top of staircases and wake up needing a cast for six weeks either, but at least she has her friends and family. At least she has him. And now she has this, too, and...

“Thanks, Seiji.” Ten year old Suzu Suzuki says, wiping her watering eyes as best as she can.

“Anything for you.” He replies softly. He leans forward and plants a gentle kiss on her forehead, which brings a smile to her face and a pang of deep satisfaction to his heart.

“So you got a big bed this time.” He says, smiling back. “Comfortable, too.”

“Yup!” Her mood has recovered completely now. “Much better than the beds on the third floor.”

“Yeah, I hate those.” He closes his eyes and shakes his head, which prompts a giggle from the girl sitting next to him. He looks around again, suddenly feeling very tired.

“This one might be a little too nice, though...” He yawns, stretching his arms out before sliding down to lay beside her.

“Maybe we can take it home with us.” She says, carefully setting the book aside before laying next to him. The air in the hospital room is cool, but he always has a way of keeping the bed nice and warm.

“Maybe.” He whispers, but his eyes are closed. With the last of his strength he puts his arm around her but then he's gone, and she's quick to follow. The sunlight that filters through the window paints the two siblings in a warm orange glow as they hold on to eachother, fast asleep.

A man enters the room after speaking with the nurses, they assure him that his daughter will be able to come home tonight. He watches the children with something between pride and some small, repressed sadness, like any helpless father would. Even though they spend so much of their time sleeping anyway, he doesn't want to wake them. So instead, he picks up the red book from the table next to the bed and takes a seat, idly paging through sonnets and plays. Some time later, when the two in the bed begin to stir, he pulls a pamphlet from his pocket and wedges it between the pages as a bookmark. It's something he had gotten some time back but never really looked at until today, a brochure for a school that promises that neither of his children will ever have to be alone.






“Broken Bones” is a song by Aqualung.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Losing Keys

Post by Scissorlips » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:20 am

Losing Keys
-Second year Suzu and Miki find a common ground.
Note: this story contains spoilers for Act 3, from 3-8 onward.


Ha. Haa. Damn it.

Goddammit. I'm standing in front of my door, all I want to do is get inside and turn the lights down and maybe grab something I can smash or punch, but I can't find my damn keys, I've been here for a month already and I keep losing the goddamn things. I could check my other pocket faster if I just had my other hand but I don't, and I wish it would remember that it's gone. I wish it would just BE gone, instead of trying to tell me it's not.

This just fucking awesome hand of mine, it's like adding insult to injury, or more, injury to injury. Not only is it gone, oh, it's gone alright, I still keep the bandage on even though it's been some time now. No, it's gone, but every now and then, it tries to act like it's still here, but instead of feeling like I'm touching things, it feels like it's being crushed or twisted or on fire and DAMN IT where are my keys?

I thump my good fist, my only fist against the door in frustration, I don't think they're here. Must have fallen out, maybe during gym class, that's great. Now I can hear the sound of rain pouring outside and I need to go to the office to get a replacement, this is just--

“Hi.” A quiet voice says. Making a real effort to unclench my jaw, I turn to see a girl standing in the hallway.

“Hey.” I mutter, trying to keep the anger out of my voice, it's not her fault my phantom pains are kicking in. “It's Suzuki, right?”

She nods, smiling a bit awkwardly. “That's right! I'm Suzu.”

Yeah. Suzu Suzuki. Her parents must have had a thing for syllables. But this conversation isn't really getting me anywhere, and it sure as hell isn't getting me my hand back, so--

“Are you all right?” She peers at me. She looks a little intimidated and I guess I can't say I blame her, my first few weeks here were... rough. I think I almost picked a fight with that brother of hers, but he got lucky and fell asleep before I could lay a finger on him.

Ha. Lucky. Aren't we all just so damn lucky.

“Where's your big brother?” I ask, dodging the subject. “I thought you two were joined at the hip or something.”

Suzu smiles again, fondly this time. “He's... out right now.” She says. I'm pretty sure I know what she means.

She motions behind her with her head. “Do you want to come in? I live just down the hall.”

“I dunno, I...” It does sound like a better idea than breaking down my door though, and unless I'm going to steal an umbrella from the common room, I don't want to go out in the rain anytime soon. Why not, I guess. Maybe it will help me take my mind off of the stabbing pain in my--yeah, okay, definitely need to take my mind off of that.

Relenting, I follow her a few doors down. Suzu looks pretty tired, but she flashes me a smile as she pushes her door open. The first thing I notice is the piles of crap... well, stuff... well, crap littering her floor. It's mostly stuffed animals, mixed with clothes and some things like empty water bottles.

“What a mess.” I say flatly, hoping she doesn't notice me clutching my bandaged wrist with my good hand.

Suzu gets what she probably thinks is a sly grin, which tells me that she's happy to look like a slob. On second thought, I guess all this junk might be a kind of defense mechanism, in case she passes out. Which she probably does a lot, that's kind of depressing actually. I won't burst her little stuffed animal bubble then.

Ignoring my hand that's not a damn hand anymore as best as I can, I step further inside. Everything is painted in the soft glow of the television, which is playing some movie with the volume down low enough to be just a gentle noise. The next thing I notice is a boy, sprawled on his back in the bed. It's the brother that she mentioned earlier, his name is... Seiji, I think? He looks like shit. No that came out badly, he's not bad looking, he just looks bad, like, absolutely exhausted.

Huh. Ever since I met the two of them, I kind of always figured that if I had a condition like that, I would want people to wake me up as soon as I went dark. But looking at him now, it really seems like he needs the rest.

Suzu closes the door behind me, taking a seat on the floor with her back against the bed. She gestures for me to do the same and I comply. I'm still gripping my hand... stump, whatever, and I'm sure she's noticed by now, but she doesn't say anything.

I wipe a bead of sweat from my brow, more from the pain than anything else. I would expect this to be kind of awkward, after all, I don't really know the two of them very well and here I am. But something about the dim, soft atmosphere in the room manages to help me relax, maybe my hand is even hurting a tiny bit less. Maybe.

“You're lucky he doesn't snore, huh?” I point my thumb back at the bed, and Suzu lets out a little laugh.

“He's the quiet one, actually.” She makes a pouty face, that's a skill she needs to work on. “Apparently I mumble a lot.”

I chuckle before turning my attention to the television screen. It's some older sci-fi movie, even though I'm pretty sure I haven't seen it before it's still not enough to distract me from the twisting. And the burning, and the needles. The twisting, burning needles that--

In the corner of my eye, I notice Suzu plucking something from the bed behind her. “Hey.” She says softly. I turn to see her holding up a pillow, poking her head around the side.

“What.” is the only reply I can think of.

“I want you to hit me as hard as you can.” She says, pursing her lips.

“You mean the pillow, right?” I reply, staring at her blankly. Suzu freaks out for a second before recovering.

“Yeah that's, that's what I mean.” She mumbles, and then gives me a determined stare. Is this something she saw on TV? Does she know that my hand really freaking hurts, and she thinks this will make me feel better?

Well. Maybe it will, hell I don't know. Fine, if she's offering. I look at her one more time to make sure she's ready--she has no idea what she's doing--and then pull my right hand back, curling it into a fist. Even as I do, the pain continues to stab at my left wrist, the wrenching and the ripping and the--

Screw it. I fire off my best right hook, smashing into the center of the pillow with all the force I can manage. Suzu topples backwards, bumping into her nightstand with a muffled squeak and sending a few objects raining down from above. I hear the boy in the bed let out a groan, but he doesn't sound like he's waking up any time soon.

I feel a little bad as Suzu picks herself up, but part of me feels great. Huh, I guess I've still got it. And actually... that was kind of nice.

“Is that... is that all ya got?” Suzu sets up again, shaking it off.

“You don't have to do this.” I raise an eyebrow at her even as I dig my blunted wrist into the carpet, it's starting to hurt again. Suzu gives me a knowing, tired smile.

“It's fine.” She says, getting back into position, although she scoots a little further from her nightstand.

“I'm tough.” She twists her arm in a circle and I hear a popping noise, both of us wince. I guess she's used to getting knocked around a bit.

Again, she gives me that knowing look. She already seems like she's got enough bruises, but whatever, she's asking for it. I ready another punch, this time to make up for the hassle of losing my goddamn keys as well as these stupid phantom pains that won't go away and if I could I would just smash the whole freaking--

This time, she's a little more prepared. Suzu rocks back but doesn't go flying or anything. She gives me another tired grin as she looks at me from behind the pillow.

“Feel better yet?” She asks.

“I'll tell you in a second.” I cock my fist back again, stupid freaking pop quiz in English and--

“Wah!” She readies herself right before the third punch connects, holding the pillow tightly and trying not to absorb the impact with her somewhat scrawny frame.

I take a few deep breaths. Yeah, actually, I do feel a bit better. Suzu peeks at me carefully, but I turn to rest my back against the bed again, watching the movie on the television. The girl next to me slowly relaxes as she gets that I'm done, sitting down next to me.

“How about now?” She asks, and I laugh.

“Yeah. Yeah, that's better, thanks.” I almost feel more tired than anything else now, maybe it's this room, it's sapping my energy or something. But it's kind of nice too.

“I'm glad.” She says, and I look over to see her smile at me again. She looks pretty wiped out too. This girl...

It must be pretty shitty, having a condition like that. Can't go out by herself, has to be careful around hard surfaces. Always missing out on things, nothing's really certain for her at all. I wouldn't want to live like that, but I guess I've got something I have to live with too.

“Hey Suzu?” I ask.

“Huh?”

“What's it like, having no control over falling asleep all the time?”

She thinks about it, looking melancholy for a few seconds. I have no doubt that she finds it pretty frustrating too, although she doesn't look like the type to let it out by hitting things. Maybe that's why she's always hauling a book around. Or maybe she just has it for when her brother conks out and she needs to kill some time, who knows.

Finally, she looks back up at me. “It's exhausting.” She says, giving me a tired grin. I can't help but grin back.

“Who has the energy to fight with something that you can't really stop?” She says quietly. She turns to stare at the television and I do the same, my left hand has gone quiet. Still trembling a little bit, still the odd pulse of pain. But no grinding, no twisting, no crushing. It's peaceful here, surrounded by soft crap and narcoleptic kids.

A head is suddenly resting on my shoulder. I glance over at a mop of sea-green hair.

“Hey, are you falling asleep on me?”

“Sorry.” She mumbles quietly. “Can't help it.”

I think she's trying to guilt me. “I can't stay here forever, I need to get a new key from the office.”

“But it's raining, can't you wait...?” Her voice is growing softer, it's not much more than a whisper now.

“You're comfy.” She says, and I kind of stop in my tracks.

It's not the nicest thing anyone has said to me since arriving here, but it's up there. This girl doesn't really need me, she's got the boy in the bed behind us to be a pillow, or a teddy bear, or something stupid like that. But...

I guess someone in her position could really only handle it one of two ways. Either she could go completely all out and try to squeeze every last drop out of her waking hours, or she could just kind of be laid back and take things as they come. I always thought Suzu was a little bit awkward, she seems to rely too much on her brother to really get out much, but now I realize that she's actually pretty relaxed sometimes, and it's, well, kind of nice. And my hand... my lack of a hand... it doesn't hurt anymore, somehow. Maybe I should come over and punch her furniture more often, I wonder if she would... oh. She's asleep. Well that's probably not a very rare sight. And she's still leaning on me.

I watch the light from the movie play across her peaceful, soft features for a few moments, and I know I don't have the heart to wake her. I guess she needs her rest, too. That's just... that's just great.

This isn't all bad though, just have to get a little bit more comfortable, and... there. All right. I'm actually pretty worn out myself, and this room has been tailor made to suit sleepy people, so who knows. I watch the television with eyelids that grow heavier as time goes on, the volume so low that I can still hear the steady beat of the rain outside and the soft breathing of the girl who's head is resting on my shoulder.

Maybe I could get used to this. Being at Yamaku. Being around these two. Maybe this could be nice. I don't know, all I know is that I don't hurt right now and maybe, just maybe I have this fragile little sleepy girl to thank for it. The least I could do to make it up to her is hang out here for a while. Who knows.





“Losing Keys” is a song by Jack Johnson.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Closing Time

Post by Scissorlips » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:21 am

Closing Time
-There is no free dessert.


“So wait, she smiles, but only with her eyes?”

Suzu nods. “Yup. And I think she can float, or something. But most of the time she just pulls the strings.”

I raise an eyebrow as I continue to wipe down the counter. “I've never done that before. Smiled with just my eyes.”

“Me neither.” She says, before taking a sip from her straw. “I even tried it, it's hard.”

I decide to give it a shot. Suzu watches me blankly as she takes another long sip. She's right, it's kind of... wait, almost got... no, I don't think I can do it. This is embarrassing anyway, cut it out, Taro.

“You read weird books, Suzu.” I say, giving up. A glance at the clock says there's only ten minutes until it's time to start closing down for the night. Thank god, I want to go home.

“That one wasn't even very weird, though. There was this other one...”

“The one where John dies at the end?”

“Yeah!” She smiles, before biting her lip. “But wait, no.”

Apparently, it's too hard to explain, because she goes back to her drink, staring at the counter in front of her. I can hear the sound of her straw sucking up air.

“Want another one?” I ask, shaking some crumbs from a cutting board.

“No, that's okay.” She says, frowning. “Sorry for... coming in so late.”

About that. “Have you been sleepwalking again?”

Suzu squirms in her seat, looking uncomfortable. “I might have. Or, I might be. Not right now, though.”

“Well, yeah.” I smile, before taking a quick glance out the window for the light of cars or people on the street. Five minutes left, any new customers now would be bad. “You look pretty awake.”

Suzu mumbles something about needing to go deeper before taking another sip from her now empty glass. I don't really mind her being here at all, even if it's kind of disturbing that she managed to get all the way down here by herself. The girl sitting on the bar stool in front of me is cute, no doubt about that at all, but she's a little weird sometimes, too. She seems to like doing things in turns, she mutters a lot in her sleep, usually some random combination of letters and numbers, and she shows up in completely unexpected places. Like at your part-time job, in the small town below Yamaku, in the dead of night.

As I go about cleaning and closing down the restaurant, in the corner of my eye I can see her slowly pitching to one side. Just as I'm about to try to help, she rights herself, shakes her head a bit, and then pulls out her phone, blinking heavily.

“Is someone coming to pick you up?” I ask, reaching with my good hand to flip the switch that turns off the neon lights on the building. There's technically still a few minutes until closing time, but anyone who would come in now is a jerk anyway.

“Yup.” Suzu replies, snapping her phone closed before returning it to her pocket. “Should be here soon.”

“Your boyfriend?” I feel my throat tighten up a bit. A lot is riding on her answer. Suzu stares down at the counter in front of her, beginning to blush a little as an embarrassed grin spreads across her face.

“Nah.” She says softly. “I'm letting him catch up on some sleep.”

I have to stop myself from breathing a sigh of relief. Not that I have anything against Hisao, he's a pretty good guy, he likes reading books and isn't afraid of much, I guess. No, no, it's just that... well, if it's not him coming to get her, then it's probably...

Get a grip Taro, you're starting to sweat. I realize that I haven't said anything in response yet and begin to sweat even more, quick, I have to fill this awkward silence somehow.

Let's see, what to talk about, what to talk about... come on, Taro, think of something. Aha!

“How'd you do on that history test today?” I ask, walking to the back to finish off the last of the dishes. Through the space that lets customers sneak a peak at the kitchen, I see her frown.

“Slept through it. I have to make it up tomorrow.” She says. Whoops.

“That just means you get more study time!” I call, grabbing a broom. Sweeping isn't very easy with only one arm that works, but I've gotten the hang of it by now. Suzu doesn't respond, so I go about cleaning the kitchen floor.

I really kind of like working here, the money helps, and it was a lot of fun figuring out that I could still make some really good dishes, even with my monoplegia. I've met a lot of interesting people, even though it was pretty terrifying at first, I spilled more than my fair share of dishes until I got the hang of things. But by now I have no problem being here, holding down the fort by myself until closing. It's a school night and the town is full of old people, so most of them are already asleep. In fact, before the girl sitting at the counter walked into my door--into, not through, mind you, I'm pretty sure the impact was what woke her up--I hadn't seen a single soul in hours. Now though, the shrill beeping from the door sensor--that's one thing I'll never get used to--alerts me to the presence of a new arrival. I glance at the clock, is it closing time? Yep, and that's a good and a bad thing, good because I don't have to take any more orders and bad because if it's not Suzu's escort then I have to explain to the customer why I can't serve them even though there's still someone in here.

“What's the story, morning glory?” A voice calls, my heart skips a beat. Shit. I mean, this is great. I mean, shit. I was right.

“Hey, Miki.” Suzu replies, sounding tired but cheered up by her friend's arrival. I take a few moments to steady myself and try to calm down before stepping out of the back.

“Yo, Taro. Thanks for keeping an eye on my girl here.” The dark skinned beauty throws me a wink and I almost trip over nothing.

“Not a problem.” I reply, leaning maybe a little heavily on the front counter. “It was nice to have some company.” I laugh and know that it sounds horribly awkward, but I can't stop halfway through or that would be even worse.

As a group, we eat lunch together almost every day. We've gone on school trips before, we've gone to the convenience store and they've even stopped by here on a weekends or for dinner. But somehow, seeing Miki here when I'm just about to get off for the day and head home, it's worse than usual, maybe because I know we're both going to be headed the same way so maybe we could walk together. And then, oh shit, what would we talk about? What would I say?

Suzu smiles at me weakly, but tilts her head to one side, oh god no, don't say anything. Miki just grins before turning to the sleepy girl sitting on the barstool.

“Ready to head out, sunshine? Any longer and I'll be carrying you home. Unless...” She stops, her eyes growing mischievous as she glances at me.

“Unless you have some food tucked away somewhere that you were going to throw away.” She wears her best poker face as she says it. Suzu laughs, but actually...

“Now that you mention it.” I retreat to the back, savoring the look of surprise and delight that plays briefly across Miki's face. When I return with two big slices of cake on a paper plate, both the girls' eyes grow big as saucers.

“We may have made a little too much earlier today. I hate throwing food out, so I was going to see if the guys in my dorm wanted some, but since you asked...” Good Taro, you sound kind of cool. The girls look from the plate to me and then back, their faces lit up with delight. Suzu looks wide awake now.

“Really?” She asks.

“For real?” Miki chimes. I hand them some silverware, the plastic ones, so I don't have to do any more dishes tonight.

“All yours.” I say, unable to stop myself from grinning smugly. I feel... what's that phrase that Haruhiko spouts sometimes? Oh yeah. Alpha as fuck.

The girls dig in gleefully, both of them look a little embarrassed by how fast they shovel down the cake. Suzu eats like she's afraid she might pass out face-first onto the plate, and Miki, well, I guess she just likes sweets. Not that I mind.

I might be a little bit entranced by how she manages to be graceful even as she wolfs down the dessert, until I notice that Suzu is peering at me, moving the fork from the plate to her mouth on automatic as she stares at me. That's kind of weird, I look away hurriedly, she's missing here and there. I opt to finish wiping down the last few things that need it before it's time to go, the sounds of chomping easily filling the silence. They finally begin to quiet down just as I'm flipping the last few lightswitches.

“That was great, Taro.” Miki's voice calls. “You're an awesome cook, you know?”

I think I'm blushing and I'm glad that they can't see it. “Wouldn't he be a chef? You don't cook cake.” Suzu wonders aloud.

“You don't chef cake either, Suzu.” She replies. They're probably getting ready to go. Okay, okay, here... here I go.

I make sure the back door is locked and everything else is put away before walking out of the kitchen. “Well, you bake cakes, but I'm not just a baker.” I throw on a grin, which Miki matches, but Suzu is still looking at me kind of funny, tilting her head to the point where it almost looks painful.

“True that.” Miki says. I throw the empty plate and the plastic silverware away, and then gesture towards the door.

“Shall we go?” I ask. They nod, hopping off the bar stools, Suzu a little more wobbly than her companion. I check one more time to make sure that all the other doors are locked and everything is turned off, and then we walk out the front door and I lock it behind us. All of it's a little more of a hassle with only one working arm, but at least I'm an awesome cook, and chef, and baker.

Right, don't get nervous now, Taro, I'm just going to walk back up the hill towards the school, at night, with two pretty girls. One of them being the one that I've had a crush on all year. Right. Nothing to be nervous about. Nothing at--damn it Suzu, stop looking at me like that. Something's up and she knows it, even though she looks like she would be fine with spending the night right here if it meant she could just go to bed now.

The two girls link arms as we begin heading home. As we walk up the hill, I use every conversation trick in the book--literally, I found a book filled with them and I've used up all the ones I can remember.

I steadily start to get more and more nervous as I run out of things to talk about and my time with them, with Miki, begins to come to a close. Even though I see her every day, part of me would love nothing more than spending more nights with her like this, just talking, even if it's terrifying. But as I glance over at her as we walk, something inside me knows...

...Something just tells me that I don't have a chance.

This is one of the hottest girls at the school, who's a star on the track team, second only to Emi Ibarazaki. She's fiercely loyal to her friends, always willing to step in and help Suzu or anyone else when they need it, and with her disability...

Before I know it, we've reached the dorms, and it's time to go our separate ways. I guess I'm out of time. It's just as well, I would have only screwed things up if I had had longer, and asking her to do something this weekend is out of the question, she'd shoot me down, I just know it.

“See ya later!” Miki is calling and I'm waving, but Suzu is still standing here. The gorgeous, brown-skinned girl looks at both of us in the glow of the lamps that are strewn throughout the grounds.

“Aren't you coming, Suzu?” She asks. The wannabe snoozer shakes her head.

“I need to talk to Taro.” She says quietly. Oh god, oh god oh god. “About the history test.”

Miki shrugs. “All right then, don't be too long. Movie night tomorrow, right?”

“It's a done deal.” Suzu mumbles, smiling. Miki heads into the girls' dorms with a grin.

Is this the part where I run? Maybe I should have already started doing that, shit, shiiit, c'mon Taro, what do we do now?

“What are you doing?” Suzu asks, turning to me. She peers at me curiously, a hint of a sly smile on her face.

“Nothing. What? I'm not doing anything.” We're friends and we have been for a while, but can she see right through me? I'm sweating again, maybe I should just cut and run now. I wish I had found some reason to stay behind at work just a little longer, I feel comfortable there by now, it's all familiar. This is not familiar. This is not good.

“Did you really make all that cake by mistake?” She asks, blinking at me. She doesn't seem upset or anything, and I don't think she's the type who would make fun of me, but... what if I tell her, and she tells Miki? And what if Miki is the one who laughs at me, or tells all her friends? Would she do that? I don't think she would, but...

“What can I say?” Oh hell yes, I've got this. “I like chefing cake.” Yeeeah. Haruhiko would be proud.

Suzu laughs. “You know what I mean, though.” She tilts her head to one side again. “Come on Taro, you can tell me.”

“It doesn't matter anyway.” I force a smile to my face. Even if it was only for a little while, being with the two of them outside of school like this was worth working that entire shift. It was nice, I like being around Miki, it's just...

“...She would never be interested in someone like me.”

Suzu's face falls. “Taro, that's not true!”

“It is though. She's on the track team, and I'm just...” I shrug, glancing down at my sizable figure. A girl like that? She would never want to be with a guy like me.

“You're big boned.” She frowns. I've heard that one before, and true as it may or may not be, it doesn't make a difference.

“It doesn't matter, Suzu. She isn't interested.”

“How do you know that? Have you asked? I can ask her.” Suzu smiles, but the idea is terrifying to me. I think... I think I would almost be better off not knowing, it would just hurt too much if her answer was negative.

I shake my head. No, no, I think this is how it should be. Maybe now that I've accepted it, I can get over this crush.

“It's just...” I glance around, avoiding the sad gaze of the girl in front of me. “With my arm, and her hand, I kind of thought...”

“It's stupid, I know, but... I kind of thought we were alike. A little bit. In some ways.”

“Taro...” Suzu looks pained. And sleepy, I should let her go, I have a stack of manga waiting to help me unwind after today's shift back at my room anyway.

“It's okay, I appreciate it Suzu, I do. But I'm gonna go.” She continues to protest even as I turn to leave.

“Hey, Taro!”

“What?”

She gives me a sad, tired smile. "I know it's scary." She says. "But you should try."

I stand there in silence for a few long moments, she's right, on both counts. I should. I mean, I've been treasuring every conversation I've had with Miki, I've been watching her from afar, not trying to be a stalker or anything, just... just wishing I could mean something to her, I guess. And I know I'll never know until I try, but...

But it's late, I'm tired and I'm hungry and I just want to go home. Today was good, today was great, but I think that's all I can ask for. That's all I can expect.

"Thanks, Suzu." I say under my breath, although I do mean it. I turn around again. "Goodnight."

I'm only able to take a few steps towards the boy's dorms when she calls after me again.

"Taro, wait!"

I glance back over my shoulder. "What."

Suzu looks like she's fighting off sleep with all her might, but she crosses her arms and narrows her eyes in determination. “If not Miki, is there anyone else?” She asks.

“Anyone else what?” Come on Suzu, it's been a long day. I just want to get home and read, maybe catch up on some of my internet message boards.

“Anyone else you might be interested in? What about Ritsu, you two sit together right?”

The little drummer girl? “She's nice, but a little too hyper. We're just friends.”

Suzu looks thoughtful, and still sleepy. “Misaki?”

The shutterbug with scoliosis? “Doesn't she have a thing for Lezard?”

“Does she?” Suzu looks genuinely surprised, maybe that's not very well known, or maybe I'm wrong, I don't know. Either way, she's nice too, but Lezard is my coworker, and the last thing I need is another reason for him to be grumpy, even though he's still hung up on the girl in front of me.

“Hmm.” She files away the information, for future use maybe. “How about Ikuno?”

Ikuno Komaki? She sits in the front row, between Haruhiko and Miki. To be honest, I don't really know that much about her, I think she's part of Molly's group of friends.

“Come on.” Suzu smiles at me in the low light, her words accompanied by the sound of the crickets on the grounds. “She's nice, I think you guys would be cute together.”

“I don't know...” I don't really like the idea of someone playing matchmaker, but... maybe I could use the help? Ikuno isn't really “big”, but...

“She's sweet!” Suzu grins.

“She's a diabetic.” I raise an eyebrow.

She shrugs. “So you can chef her a gluten-free cake.”

“You're thinking of celiac disease.” That's a girl in 2-3, I'm pretty sure.

“Am I? I don't know, I need... I need to lay down.” Suzu smiles weakly. “But you should totally talk to her, Taro.”

“I don't know.” I repeat. I mean, just about everyone in our class knows eachother by now, but we've never really talked, what if she hates me? I guess she is cute though, and not quite as intimidating as Miki would be...

“Come on! She has 'dat plump rear' or whatever it is you guys call it.” Suzu drops her voice to belt out the three words, putting her hands out as if she's gripping... something, I'm not sure if even she knows.

Well, there is that too.

“Maybe.” I'll have to think about it. In my room. With my manga and message boards.

“I'll help.” Suzu says, smiling even though she looks like she wants to pass out in the grass.

“Why?” Why is she doing all this in the first place?

“Because you're a nice guy, Taro." She says. I've heard that one before. It's always nice, it's always friendly, and I am. But that just isn't what people want sometimes, I guess.

"And because I only wound up with... with Hisao because I had people helping me.” Suzu continues, blushing again. She glances away at nothing for a moment, then looks back. “So it's only fair to help other people out too.”

Huh.

To be honest, I'm kind of jealous of Hisao. Well, not quite of him, I could never really see myself with Suzu. But I think I'm jealous of what they have. I wouldn't mind being with someone like that, being able to speak so fondly of someone else, even though it would be easier to just go home and forget about everything under a pile of comics.

Maybe she's right, maybe I could use some assistance. Even after eating lunch together all year, I never had the guts to ask Miki out on my own. I still know I don't have the slightest chance with her, but Ikuno... yeah, I could do it. I could chef her--I mean, bake her a sugar-free cake. That's what diabetics eat, right? Sugar-free things? I'll have to look into it. But I could pull it off. And maybe I could have Suzu deliver it, and I would watch her reaction? Maybe.

“Okay.” I say at last. “It's worth a shot.”

“Great!” She says, smiling brightly. “We could, we could slip her a letter, or I could follow her and see what she's into, or...”

“Are you a spy?” I ask, and she grins.

“Actually, I'm a sideki--” but she doesn't get to finish, she crumples forward into the grass, out like a light.

I guess I should have known this would happen sooner or later. Now what do I do? I mean... I could use her phone to call Miki, or I could go get her boyfriend. I'm not really good at carrying things, although she doesn't look heavy...

“I've got it.” Someone says, and a figure emerges from the darkness. Suzu might not be a spy, but apparently Miki is. I almost reel back in shock.

“H-how long have you been there?” I ask as she walks forward to scoop up her unconscious friend in her arms. With a shrug, Miki slings Suzu over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes, does she always carry her like that when no one's around?

“Just got here. Thought I might be responsible for once and go over the test answers too.” She says, turning to me. She stares straight at me, those deep dark eyes locking into mine. Even an hour ago I would have had butterflies by now, but...

It's not too late I guess. This could be my chance.

I should take it. I really should, but I...

I have to let this go. I have to let her go. Maybe I'll actually have a shot with Ikuno, who knows. But I just don't have what it takes to be with a girl like this, I know that now. Part of me feels like apologizing to her, but I know the one I really should be apologizing to is myself.

“I think she has the right idea anyway, it's getting late.” I say, pointing at her burden. Miki grins.

“Yup yup. See ya tomorrow, Taro.” She begins walking back towards the girls' dorms, hefting Suzu with practiced ease, but turns when she reaches the base of the stairs.

“Good luck with Ikuno.” She says, just loudly enough so I can hear it. Her expression is hard to read in the dark with this distance, but I think she's smiling? I can't tell. I wish I could, I really do.

I don't know what to say. After another moment, she turns around again and begins marching up the stairs and then she's gone, narcoleptic luggage and all.

I stay there, watching the doors to the girls' dorms for a little bit longer. I'm not sure if I'm waiting for something or just trying to process everything that just happened. But there's no point in standing around here any longer. With the chirping of crickets filling my ears, I walk back to my room, drenched in thoughts of what could have been and what could be.





“Closing Time” is a song by Semisonic.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:37 am, edited 5 times in total.
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hernytan
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (extras added 9/10)

Post by hernytan » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:44 am

Cool, another update!
It's nice to have a break once in a while from the main route, and this indeed is quite appropriate.

Losing Keys is an interesting prequel into the life of Suzu and Miki. I thought it was quite nice, especially to have a story where Miki and Suzu and her brother meet. Shame they didn't talk much though.

Broken bones was an intriguing look into the childhood life of Suzu and him, however I must say that I thought it was quite plain and didn't really introduce much, merely reiterated a view of Suzu and her brother. Just my opinion, however.

Closing time was the best of the trio IMHO, with the story seen from yet another character's eyes. It's a little odd to see Suzu acting as a matchmaker, but hey. The pacing was well done and the characterisation quite splendid.
Shame for Taro, though :)

It's glad that you enjoyed your vacation. To reiterate, nice to have an update that features side-stories (but 3 in one week? you must be at your capacity already). Thanks for everything!
Now I shall wait for Doomish to come up with an artwork showing Taro trying to confess to Miki and failing
Shizune=Rin=Emi=Hanako=Lilly
It's a great game guys, stop arguing over who is best they are in order of my preference if you must know
Oh, and Misha >> Everyone else ;)

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (extras added 9/10)

Post by BlackWaltzTheThird » Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:28 am

Suzu mumbling random combinations of letters and numbers in her sleep? Oh my, I wonder what they could be? Co-ordinates, perhaps? No, that's much too obvious. As for Taro... "alpha as fuck"? Man, I laughed far too loud at that. Was nice reading things from other people's perspectives though. Glad to have you back from vacation, sir.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (extras added 9/10)

Post by TheSongofRaven » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:52 am

Short, but so touching and emotional.
Wonder if Hisao still alive when their daughter write her name on the tree ? Sorry, curiousity can't be helped
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (extras added 9/10)

Post by BlackWaltzTheThird » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:23 am

TheSongofRaven wrote:<snip>
I think you may have gotten the wrong thread, there, sir.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (extras added 9/10)

Post by AlchemistR » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:42 pm

Scissorlips wrote:I feel... what's that quote Haruhiko spouts sometimes? Oh yeah. Alpha as fuck.
I fuckin' died, man. I feel like we need to see more Haruhiko, he seems like a complete and utter boss.
Image "This is me...all of me."
Image "He wouldn't wake up...The one time he actually needed me and I wasn't there for him!”

The Suzu quote comes from this.

Hanako>Suzu>Rin>Lilly=Miki=Emi>Misha>Shizune

Snoozu and Miki need routes. As do Kenji and Jigoro. No homo.

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Re: Broken Bones

Post by Bi-Polar Hernandez » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:03 pm

Scissorlips wrote: the Snuzuki Twins.

D~awww.

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (extras added 9/10)

Post by Scissorlips » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:17 am

hernytan wrote:Cool, another update!
It's nice to have a break once in a while from the main route, and this indeed is quite appropriate.

Losing Keys is an interesting prequel into the life of Suzu and Miki. I thought it was quite nice, especially to have a story where Miki and Suzu and her brother meet. Shame they didn't talk much though.

Broken bones was an intriguing look into the childhood life of Suzu and him, however I must say that I thought it was quite plain and didn't really introduce much, merely reiterated a view of Suzu and her brother. Just my opinion, however.

Closing time was the best of the trio IMHO, with the story seen from yet another character's eyes. It's a little odd to see Suzu acting as a matchmaker, but hey. The pacing was well done and the characterisation quite splendid.
Shame for Taro, though :)

It's glad that you enjoyed your vacation. To reiterate, nice to have an update that features side-stories (but 3 in one week? you must be at your capacity already). Thanks for everything!
Now I shall wait for Doomish to come up with an artwork showing Taro trying to confess to Miki and failing
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed them. Those are all valid points, and I'll just say that with Broken Bones, I wanted to show her brother from a different perspective, since the one we get from her point of view is a little skewed. I still haven't decided how much I want to get to know Seiji as of right now, which is why he was and wasn't in the other piece.
To be honest, those were all written in the same day, I tend to work in spurts. And I really enjoy Doomish's artwork, but I know that he's been really busy lately, and I completely understand that.
TheSongofRaven wrote:Short, but so touching and emotional.
Wonder if Hisao still alive when their daughter write her name on the tree ? Sorry, curiousity can't be helped
Whoops. That's okay, we've all done it.

Thanks again, everyone, and sorry for the delay. Here we go, though. I can't believe how long it's been and how much has happened since this story began, it's... weird, to say the least. But I hope you enjoy it. Now I need some sleep, my days of staying up until 8 AM to finish writing these are, hopefully, in the past.
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Still Night

Post by Scissorlips » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:18 am

Still Night


“Taro made what?” I press the phone to my ear, squinting in the darkness.

“Profiteroles. It's a fancy name for little cream puffs.” Hisao says. Oh, that sounds--

“In chocolate sauce.” He adds.

“I want some.” I reply, maybe a little too quickly.

“Don't worry, I'm pretty sure this recipe is a keeper. Taro is the most popular guy in the dorms right now.” He chuckles. The thought of the few students left all rallying around our classmate and his experiments in French cooking makes me smile.

It hasn't been easy, going from seeing eachother every day to talking on the phone at night. Hisao had remained at Yamaku for the first week of vacation, just dragging his feet before heading home I guess. He didn't seem to have any real reason for it, maybe once you finally start to settle in at a place like our school, it's hard to uproot yourself again any time soon. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but the lack of anything to do seems to have made him look forward to our talks even more. Although... although, uh...

I glance at the clock, our nightly phone call has turned into a morningly one.

“It's 4 AM, go to bed.” I'm wide awake even as I say it, and Hisao knows it.

“Sleep is overrated.” He replies. I flop around on the bed, trying to get comfortable despite how exhausted I feel. He doesn't sound quite as tired as me, must be those profligate things.

“If you don't want it, then pass some my way.” I mumble. “And bring cream puffs.”

He laughs, but his tone is gentle. “I would if I could. You know that.”

“Yeah.” I gaze out my window at the dark sky outside. I know that pretty well by now.

“You're doing okay though, right?” He asks softly. “You're sleeping sometimes?”

“Sometimes.” I reply quietly. “Thanks.”

“I did it all for the profiteroles.” He stuffs something in his mouth as he says it, I don't know whether to laugh or pout.

“You're mocking me now.” I groan.

“I can'f help iff.” He replies. I can almost hear him swallow over the phone. “They're delicious.”

“It's not fair.”

“I know.” His tone grows serious all of the sudden. “But like you said, it's 4 AM. You go to bed.”

“Joke's on you, I'm already in it.” I yawn. And it's comfy and everything, but I'm still wide awake.

“Then go to sleep.” He says.

“I can't.” I reply weakly, the stress of last week beginning to show. The line goes quiet for a moment.

Hisao coughs. “Then let's see here. Tonight's scheduled entertainment is...” He roots around for something, then comes back.

“Robert A. Heinlein's 'Starship Troopers'. A riveting tale about soldiers, aliens, and soldiers shooting aliens.”

“You are not telling me a bedtime story.” I try to wipe the grin off my face. “And it's more about politics and the military than action scenes anyway.”

“The cover lied to me then.” Hisao grumbles, but I hear the turning of a page.

“Chapter one. Come on, apes! You wanta live forever?”

“Hisao.”

“What?”

I stare up at my ceiling. “Don't you have to take the train home tomorrow?”

“Who cares about that? There are starships to troop.”

I let out a weak laugh, but... but... he sounds tired now, he sounds worn out. And he needs his rest, I don't want him traveling by himself and maybe missing his train because he stayed up all night--well, all morning--just trying to help me sleep.

No. No, I won't keep him up any longer. Besides, I'm not doing anything tomorrow except reading books and zoning out to daytime television, and maybe spinning in circles in the thick carpet again, that always helps when you feel awful, I've found.

Summer vacation at its finest. Maybe I'll get lucky and pass out a few times tomorrow, but for now, I need to let him sleep.

“Your tour of duty is canceled, soldier.” I don't really want to say goodbye. I don't really want him to go, but I know he has to, even if he doesn't agree.

“Suzu.” He says softly, but I shake my head.

“I'll be okay.” I don't know if I believe it, but I want him to, at least. He shouldn't have to be a zombie when he sees his parents just because of me. He's, he's already done enough.

“I'm going to take your word on that.” He sounds resigned. There's only so much he can do from the other side of a phone, and... I guess we both know that I tend to leave things out sometimes.

But... but there's nothing too bad right now, I wouldn't... I mean, I'm all right. There's nothing I need to lie to him about, I want to say I'm done lying but that would probably be a lie too.

I don't know. It's hard to be sure about anything when your days are just filled with long, hot fatigue. I feel like I'm just watching the calendar tick down, and I guess I am. I finally agreed to go to one of those college success workshops, my parents were delighted. That's coming up this week, I haven't mentioned it yet, but I will, I will. Just, later. When it's not so late at night that it's early in the morning, and when Hisao doesn't need to be asleep right now.

“Goodnight, Hisao.” I whisper, in full knowledge that I might not sleep a wink tonight.

“Goodnight, Suzu. I'll call you when I get home.”

“Okay.”

There's a click as he reluctantly hangs up, and then I'm alone again. Just me, the only one still awake in a house full of memories and regrets.



Warm evening sun washes over my face in waves, the darkness in front of my eyes turning to a deep red every time the car enters the light. The radio is off, I listen to the rumble of the engine and the soft chatter that my parents make as we drive through the city streets.

I pretend to sleep as we head home again, laying on my side in the backseat. It's not very comfortable, the seat belt digs into my hip, but I don't want to move to adjust it, I want them to think I'm out. I want them to think I'm gone. Not because I want to eavesdrop, but because every attempt at conversation so far has been strained at best, and this is the path of least resistance, I guess.

“I just hope she learned something. If nothing else, it was a valuable experience, right?” My dad's voice comes from the driver's seat. I try to block out everything else, listening intently.

“Emphasis on 'value'.” My mother replies, although she doesn't sound annoyed, she sounds... she sounds...

“We both know it's not her fault. We should have asked to go in with her, or told them to keep her awake.”

My mom pauses for a moment. This sounds like a conversation they've had before.

“I know, you're right.” She says. “It's just that...”

She sounds disappointed. And worried and, and stressed. That part is my fault, I think. I'm pretty sure.

“I wanted her to do this on her own, Sumu.” My mother says softly, invoking a pet name for my father that she only ever uses when she's let her guard down. When she's vulnerable. When she's hurt? Now I wish I wasn't only pretending to be asleep.

I wish I hadn't agreed to come here, to do this seminar. I didn't learn anything. All I did was, all I did was sleep through most of it, and when I woke up I didn't know what we were doing, everyone was ten pages further in their notes and I had no idea what the speaker was even saying. I panicked, I felt like I'd been left behind, I HAD been left behind.

I get that all the time back at school but this was different, before long everyone else was up and doing things that I didn't know how to do or where to start. I just... sat there, feeling paralyzed, trying to watch the other students for clues.

My parents had paid for me to come here. They had both taken time off from work, they drove me out here to the city and I, I even managed to hold it together as we walked inside. I was proud of myself, there were streets. And cars and curbs, I don't think I've really been in a place like that since... since last year. Since it happened. But I just took a deep breath, I closed my eyes. I thought about Hisao, remembered his arms around me that day under the power lines, the way it felt. I thought about what he would say, there, if he saw me about to break down at the sight of a sidewalk.

He would say that it was okay.

He would say that things were going to be fine. And he, he would be right there next to me.

He wasn't, but I know he would have been there if he could. We've still been talking on the phone every night, even after he got home. It's been helping me sleep, so far. Some nights. He usually passes out before I do, sometimes I hang up and... and sometimes I just lie there and listen to his breathing. Listen and wish that I was hearing it for real, wish that he was here and that I wouldn't have to be all alone and still awake when the sun comes up again.

But I was able to walk through the streets with my parents, I was able to make it inside the building. The only time they asked if something was wrong I pretended it was a yawn and they believed me, they, they weren't worried. I almost wasn't either once we made it inside, a workshop is like a lecture, right? I get lots of those. I'm one of Mutou's kids, I can handle anything.

My parents wished me luck as they waited in the lobby. I managed to give them a smile, I wasn't doing this for me. I would much rather be home in bed, even if I couldn't sleep. I was doing it for them, I was doing it for Hisao, he had been excited when I told him about it.

I mentioned it was in the city, at a local college in Nagoya. He didn't think to ask if I would be okay.

But that's all right, it was, it was three in the morning when we talked. He says he's catching up with old friends, he mentioned something about avoiding old exes, I would have asked but again, three in the morning. I'm not the best conversationalist when I haven't slept in a day or two, and I cared more about just being able to talk to him than anything else. Just knowing that he was there because he wanted to be, because he wanted to talk to me.

Just knowing that... that this time apart, this distance wasn't changing things. Wasn't making us drift away from eachother, or making me look like some clingy, needy girlfriend.

I guess I'm a little needy. I mean, I fall down a lot and I need someone to catch me or at least make sure I don't hit anything too--

Anyway. I wish he had at least thought to ask if I would be okay. Because I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure until I woke up having missed two thirds of the workshop, and everyone was doing things that I had no idea how to even begin. Right about then, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be just fine.

When it was over, I wasn't a single step closer to learning how to succeed in college or even get into one, I just, I felt even more like I couldn't do it. Like I wouldn't be able to, even if I did manage to figure out how to get there. I was more lost coming out than I was going in.

The worst part was my parents, though. The bright, hopeful looks they wore when I trudged out the door afterwards. The other students looked fine, they seemed fired up or at least more prepared, but, but I...

The way their faces fell. Even if they didn't blame me, even if they knew it wasn't my fault, there was no doubt in my mind that they were thinking...

“Oh.”

“This again.”

They were glad to hear that I had at least been awake for part of the session. The walk back to the car hadn't been quite as easy as the one there, I kept my eyes on the ground, I watched the cracks in the pavement go by. Just hoping to god that my parents would catch me if I fell asleep again.

Just hoping that they would be better at it than I was.

So now here I am, riding in the back of our old station wagon. Dad had offered to buy us some ice cream on the way home. I love ice cream. But I had just mumbled something about being too tired, and then I laid down and pretended to sleep to avoid any more questions. I had spent the last few weeks before summer break dreading coming back to the house, but now I just want to be somewhere else, somewhere familiar. The extra thick carpets and meticulously comfy furniture are a bonus, too.

“I know,” my father is saying. His words pierce my thoughts.“But there will be time.”

I crack one eye open to see him putting a reassuring hand on my mother's shoulder.

“She'll be okay.” He says. She's been through worse.

He doesn't voice that last part. He's probably thinking it, they probably both are. And it's true.

But it doesn't make me feel any better. My parents fall silent, and I spend the rest of the trip home divided between remembering things I've lost, that all three of us have lost, and wishing that I had never gotten out of bed today.



“So, hmm. Eggs, bread. Can you translate this last part for me, girly?” My father squints at the grocery list in his hands and I frown. My handwriting isn't quite that bad, it's just that legibility isn't very high on your priority list when you haven't slept in twenty-four... thirty-six... a while.

“Coffee.” I smile weakly, pointing to the scribbled words on the paper. “And that's a type of energy drink, they come in packs of twelve.”

“Why is there a 'times two' next to it?” My dad fishes his reading glasses from his shirt pocket. Whether he wants a closer look at the list or he just wants to appear more serious, I'm not sure.

“Because they're delicious.” I mumble. They're really not, they taste like turpentine. But they've been doing a good job of keeping me awake in the few days since the seminar, so I'd like to request a resupply, please.

Now my father is the one frowning. “Burning the midnight oil, are you?”

“Something like that.” I make some excuse about catching up on reading, summer homework, things like that. He studies me carefully, I wish he would stop. I'm too tired for this, and it's too bright here in the kitchen, the light stings my eyes.

“You haven't been sleeping very much, have you girly?” He asks, still maintaining a hint of a smile even though he looks concerned.

“Sleep is for the weak.” I reply. I smile back but my lips are trembling, urgh. That's probably not very reassuring. I wish I could be more convincing, but I'm really, really tired.

It beats the alternative, though.

“Suzu.” My father's voice draws me out of my thoughts. He's dropped the nickname, that's... not good. That's bad.

“The school called us, you know.” His brow is furrowed. “When you had your incident during exams.”

Oh, that. Incident. Interesting word choi--

“Have you been sleepwalking a lot?” He asks. I shake my head, no dad, I haven't, and it wouldn't even be an issue if I just, if I just had those energy drinks so please--

“Girly.” He sets the shopping list aside, focusing all his attention on me. My dad isn't a particularly big man, he isn't large or imposing or anything like that, but he always seems to know what to do. He always seem to know how to fix anything that breaks, except when it comes to the things that matter the most.

Like... like his daughter's head. Or her everything else, after last year.

I feel my eyes begin to burn. Seiji probably learned a lot from him, he, he was pretty good at fixing things too. He always knew what to say, what to do to make me feel better, all he seemed to want was for me to be happy.

...When I got out of therapy, it was because I was starting to be able to sleep at night again. They said that Yamaku was probably the best place I could be, it was closer to a hospital than my parents' house, and there were staff there I could talk to. They highly recommended that I begin meeting with the counselors there, my parents made me promise to do it. I stopped going after a few weeks, I didn't like leaving my room if I could avoid it.

I was in so much shock, after it all happened. I tried to tell them, I tried to tell my parents that it was my fault. They didn't believe me, of course they didn't, how could their little girl hurt the big brother that she... that she loved so much? And I didn't, I didn't mean to.

I didn't mean to.

But it happened because of me. And I told them that, but they didn't believe me. I never told them that I carried that weight, every day and every night for months that went on and on. That I still carry it, even if it's lighter now, even if parts of me have begun to forget, begun to heal.

But I can't forget it all. I never will. And as my father stands in front of me, somewhere between begging and demanding for me to open up to him, I can't do that either. They were so, so happy when my nightmares began to subside. They wept with joy when the therapists said I could go back to school, when I looked them in the eyes and told them that I wanted to go back. But it wasn't because I was all better, it wasn't because I had moved on. It was because I was dreaming of simple, quiet board games instead of red-soaked sidewalks and searing, pure-white terror that drowns out the world and almost drives you blind.

I wasn't better. I was just stable, I was just floating. And being in that house wasn't doing me any favors.

This house.

I reach up to wipe my eyes. My parents were so happy when they thought I was all better. I need to be better for them, I need to be okay. I need to look like it, at least.

“Sorry dad, I'm just really tired.” I force a grin to my face with my last drop of strength. “Exams were really stressful and I kind of freaked out my class, but that hasn't happened again.”

No, there haven't been any more starry nights. Not behind my eyelids, anyway. Outside, yes, and the grass is almost as nice as the carpet inside, it gets pretty hot at night here in the summer. But I haven't had that dream since my last exam. That was one of my biggest worries about coming home, that I would barely be able to sleep and when I did, it would... be the nightmares again, or that they would get even worse.

I hate being right, sometimes.

My dad relents. I've had talks with my mother about the future, but he's talked to me about coming forward if there's something that I need, if there's something that I want. If there's something, anything he can help with. Well I need those groceries, dad. I need the coffee and I need the energy drinks, and I need the wakefulness pills that I dug out from somewhere underneath my bed, but they're long expired and I'm too scared to ask them to pick up new ones.

“You must have a lot of reading to do if you're requisitioning this much caffeine, girly.” He's still giving me a careful look, even as he smiles and picks up the shopping list again. I fire off a salute that is nowhere near crisp, I would have to invent a new army to justify its droopiness. The sleepy corps, or something.

“I'll just go get a head start on it while you deploy then.” I say. He gives a sharp, dramatic nod, ha.

Dad, Dad I'm sorry about lying to you. I'm sorry for a lot of things, I--

Now he's hugging me, was it something I said? Was it something I, something I did? I was pretty sure my eyes were dry by now.

“Don't worry about the other day.” He says, demonstrating his fine-tuned hugging skills. If... if he taught a seminar on those, I would be sure to stay awake for it.

I clench my eyes shut, they aren't dry anymore. “Okay.” I mumble, hugging him back. I don't care about the college workshop. Or at least, I thought I didn't. Maybe I was wrong, because that night was the worst in a long time. A very long time.

“I know you'll be okay, girly.” He tightens his grip, his voice even, measured and low. “You're a tough one.”

Seiji definitely learned a lot from him. “Just because I bounce back doesn't mean I'm tough.” I sniffle. “Maybe I'm just rubbery.”

“All that matters is that you keep on bouncing, girly.” So please keep it up, I wonder if he wants to add.

I want to tell him that I'm not very good at bouncing back at all. I'm like one of those putty things that kids play with, but all stretched out and with little bits of dirt stuck in it. That analogy made more sense before I tried to put it into words, but I want to tell him that I'm not nearly as sure as he is about things. That I don't know I'll be okay, not in the long run. I don't even think I will. I think I'm sinking.

I'm already sunk, if my dreams are to be believed.

But I can't tell him all of that, he thinks I'm still moping about the seminar. I don't care about that, I didn't really want to go to begin with.

I'm not worried about that college workshop. It's the things that it stirred up, the new and old fears, the memories and the guilt that are weighing on me now.

Our hug ends. My father looks relieved, and so I. That's how I look, anyway, and he's glad to see it and that's good enough for me. That's what I want. Well, that and those groceries. I shoo him out of the kitchen and on his way before heading back to my room and collapsing into my bed. Can't... can't sleep though. Even if I wanted to, which I don't.

I reach with arms that may or may not be trembling from fatigue and pull a book closer, wedging a pillow beneath my head with my other hand. Nothing to do now but be really, really tired and hot and wait for Hisao to call while catching up on some reading. I must be about 200 Arabian nights in, only... only 801 to go. I gladly lose myself in stories of sultans and thieves and animals that are entirely too clever. My eyelids were drooping before I had even started, but I don't fall asleep as the sun begins to set, I'm grateful for every moment spent awake. Three weeks of summer vacation left.

I want to go home.



“Y-yes, ma'am. Nice to meet you too.”

“Okay, I will. Thank you. Bye.”

There's a beep as the third phone in the conversation disconnects. “I am so, so sorry.” Hisao's voice comes a moment later.

“I can't believe you never told them about me.” I pout, my face still hot. Tonight he was calling from the house phone, our talks had used up all the minutes on his cell. Everything had been fine until a new voice joined in, asking if Hisao was making use of some erotic phone service.

And that was how I met my boyfriend's mother.

“I'm sorry!” Hisao repeats. “I was going to tell them about you, I just forgot.”

His voice drops. “It didn't really matter.” He says quietly. “I'm used to doing things on my own.”

I remember that he never really talked much about his parents, back at Yamaku. I don't think he ever even called them, it must be weird, coming back home after that. And I'm not actually that angry, it was more embarrassing than anything else, thank god we weren't talking about... about some things. I don't know. Things that we've done. Things that I wouldn't mind doing again, but, but that's besides the point.

“It's my fault for using up all your minutes.” I reply.

“You don't have to apologize for that. Besides, I'm going to buy some more tomorrow, corded phones are for old people.”

I can't help but laugh, even though I'm absolutely exhausted. Somehow, he can tell. “How've you been sleeping lately?” He asks softly.

“Fine. Just fine.” I answer quickly. “What did you do today?”

“Not too much.” He says. “I went in and got my helicopter pilot's license.”

“Oh.” I can't really think of anything to say to that. A somewhat tense silence fills the next few moments.

“Suzu.” He pleads. I grimace, moving to lay on my back in the bed.

I'm sorry, Hisao. “I haven't been sleeping.” I admit.

His suspicions confirmed, he lets out a sigh. In frustration? Is he frustrated at me, or, or is it that he can't help me? I don't know. “Why would you lie about that?” He asks.

I squirm a little in the bed, glancing around at nothing in the dim light of my bedroom, my reading lamp turned to the lowest setting. I just... I mean, I...

“I didn't want to worry you.”

“So you were worried about making me worry about you.”

Um. “I guess, yeah.”

“Suzu.” He sounds like he wants to sigh again, he sounds concerned. But there's a hint of warmth in his voice too. I guess he's used to this by now.

“You worry too much.” He says.

I remember, he said that once before. Back before this whole mess, before we'd even been together for long.

“What happened to the gloomy boy who spent his first few weeks at Yamaku moping around?” I ask, smiling at the memory of dragging him to lunch with Miki and the group.

“He met a girl who passed out all the time and gave him too much time to think things over.” He replies fondly. I feel a blush creep back into my face.

“He met someone who relied on him, so he realized that he had to shape up.” He adds. Hisao...

It's true that he's changed a lot since we first met. I would definitely say for the better, but can I really take credit for that? Sure, I wanted to cheer him up, I wanted to see the person he used to be before he arrived at the school. But he's done so much for me too, so much.

He helped me with my grades. He didn't mind when my dreams ruined our first date. He waited and he waited and he listened when I finally caved and began to let him into my head and, and when I went all the way and told him about what happened, he just listened then too, he heard everything and then he held me in his arms. I'll never forget that, I never, ever want to.

And then after that there was the time that he couldn't stop worrying about me falling and... and ending up like...

But we stopped that, I'm okay now, he doesn't have to constantly be afraid for me, even though I guess it could still... I mean, I guess there's always...

I don't want to think about things like that. I don't want to remember all the times a hooded skeleton would lean over the table and remind me that I could be next. No. No, that's something that isn't going to change, that's a threat that will always be there, so I, I can't... I mean, I shouldn't be...

“Hey.” Hisao's voice drifts through the stillness of my room, I realize that I've gone quiet.

“Sorry, um. I got distracted.” I press the phone back to my ear. It's true though, Hisao. I rely on you. I need you. And by now I, I hope you need me too.

Maybe I do worry too much. But it feels like there's a lot to worry about, these days.

“It's okay.” He says softly. “Think you'll be able to sleep tonight?”

“No.” I confess. Hisao makes a thoughtful noise. After a few moments, he speaks up again.

“Okay. Tell you what, can I call you back? Give me about twenty minutes. You'll be around, right?”

I manage a weak chuckle. “Yeah, I'm not going anywhere.”

“Good.” He says. “Talk to you soon.”

“Okay.” I mumble, not really wanting to say goodbye. There's a click, and the call ends.

I lay there, unmoving, for a few more minutes. I wonder what happened, did his parents come in? Were they upset after all? His mother hadn't sounded mad once we had stammered out some quick introductions. She seemed kind of nice.

With nothing else to really do, I kick my reading lamp up a notch and reach for my book again, having long since changed into my sleeping clothes. I have a feeling that this night is going to be as long as any they might see in Arabia.


Twenty minutes come and go, and my phone is silent the whole time. And not because it's set that way, I, um, checked. Another half hour passes before it begins to ring again, but I'm so tired that I barely notice by now. Feeling kind of numb, I flip my phone open and press the button to receive the call.

“Hi.” I say quietly.

“Hey, I'm sorry. That took longer than I expected.”

“What were-” I pause for a yawn, so tired. “-what were you doing?”

Hisao chuckles. “You have no idea how hard it is to find Tank Fuel in this area.”

Ha... “Last time you drank that, you almost didn't wake up.”

“I should be fine.” I hear the popping of a tab in the background. “I think I'm building up a tolerance.”

So he went out for energy drinks. The ones that we bought, that night at the convenience store. Does that mean...

I wish he hadn't. Now I, now I have to lie to him again, either that or...

“This time, I'm going to be the last one standing.” He says lightly, obviously trying to cheer me up. And it should be working. It should be working. This is just another stupidly clever thing that he would pull. I try to laugh, I really do, but Hisao, it's not going to work.

When I don't reply, he speaks again. “I thought I'd mix things up and declare war on being awake this time.” He sounds like he's grinning, I know that stupid grin. I really, really wish I was seeing it now.

“That's so corny.” I groan. Hisao laughs.

“I mean it, though. I'm all set. I've got everything laid out, I even have some Shakespeare.”

He's... that's dumb. He's going all out for me, I feel awful. Well, my body already did, but now the rest of me does too, I...

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind.” I mutter quietly, sinking back into my bed. “Thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude.”

“As You Like It.” He whispers. I almost wince, he's gotten so good at this by now. But Hisao, this isn't...

This won't help me. And I don't want to string him along and waste his time.

“Hisao, I...” Can I do this? I want to, I do. I don't want to be alone with this anymore, I don't want to have to do this by myself. I don't want to dump my problems on him, but he's, he's already here because he wants to help.

“Can we...” I already know how he's going to react. I know what he's going to say. He's going to get all worried again, and it won't do either of us any good, because we're a million miles apart. Or something. We might as well be, there's nothing around me but miles and miles of quiet country roads, drenched in moonlight.

But he could help. And I guess he deserves to know this, too.

“Can we declare war on dreams instead?” I have to keep my voice from quivering.

His reaction is immediate, despite how late it is. “Why?” He asks. “What happened?”

“I just...”

“Suzu, what's wrong?” Here we go. I knew this would happen. He's, he's going to be all upset and concerned and worry about me, I wish he didn't have to.

A tear slips down my cheek, fast and hot, before I even know what's happening. Before long it's not alone. “Are you having nightmares again?” Hisao asks.

“Yeah.” I whisper.

“When? For how long?”

I don't respond right away, he anxiously waits for me to speak up. It...

“It started after I went to that seminar.” I say quietly, collecting the memories in my head.

“The college success skills one? You said you missed most of it.”

“I did.” But, but something about that day must have set something off. Maybe it was being in the city, maybe it was the panic I felt when I woke up or my parents' disappointed faces, I don't know.

“What happened?” Hisao asks again.

“I don't know.” I say. “But, that night, I...” I trail off, still struggling.

“Suzu.” He uses that tone that means he just wants to understand, that he needs to. “Tell me. Please.”

I reflexively pull my arms and legs closer to me as I begin to describe my dream that night, curling up a little. It wasn't that complicated, really. There wasn't that much to it. Just darkness. Just nothing.

I've had that kind of dream before, maybe everyone has, the one where it's not really a dream and you just don't really exist, you're just kind of out until you wake up. But I wasn't out, I was stuck there. There wasn't a table, there weren't any stars.

They had all gone out already.

I felt like I was laying on my back, but I couldn't move my limbs, something was pressing in on me from all sides. It was almost like being underwater, but I... I think I knew what it was.

It was dirt. And I was dead.

I tried to move, I tried to scream but I couldn't, it was cold and dark and suffocating and when I finally woke up I was drenched in cold sweat and tears. I spent the next few hours huddled up beneath my covers, trying to think of something, anything to do and hoping and praying that I didn't fall asleep again.

I haven't, not at night anyway. I've been busy, I've been downing energy drinks and brewing coffee, content to be anywhere but there. Stars aren't so bad. Board games are kind of fun. But I don't want that, the thought of going back to that crushing nothing just makes the tears spill down my face faster.

“You should have told me.” Hisao says softly.

I shrug weakly, although he can't see it. What would that have done? It would just make him feel worse, like he probably does now.

But I'm glad I told him. I'm... I'm glad he's here, that he's listening. I wish he was here next to me.

For a few moments, all I hear is the faint noise of crickets outside and the gentle buzzing of static from my phone. Hisao doesn't know what else to say. What else is there? I'm having bad dreams again, and there's nothing I can do about it and right now, there's nothing he can do about it either.

“Suzu, I'm sorry.” He says at last. I try to wipe my eyes, staring at nothing in particular. “I want to be there.”

“I know.” I whisper.

“I want to be with you, right now.”

“Me too.” I mean, I want that too, I...

We're on the same page. We feel the same way, all I want is to see him, to see his smile. To feel him run his fingers through my hair, to have his warm body next to mine to lull me to sleep. But we're stuck here, like this, reduced to disembodied voices trying to comfort eachother.

Hisao says he'll try to get money for the train ride over, I don't have the heart to resist this time. He's sorry, it might take a while though, I can hear the frustration in his voice. That's another thing I was afraid of, that he would feel helpless, feel useless. But you aren't, Hisao. This is better than being alone, this is better than going through this all by myself, trust me. I did that. That's where I was, until... until Miki started coming around again, after I got back to school.

We had been friends before, but were never really close until she stepped in to help me. She made sure I woke up in the mornings, she dragged me out of my room after class. I don't know if she felt sorry for me or what, but she never complained. She caught me and helped me up and carried me when I was asleep so many times that I started to feel comfortable walking around the school again, I started talking to friends and going back to club meetings.

We became best friends. Once I was back on my feet, or close to it anyway, we looked out for eachother, we went most places together. I owe her a lot, maybe everything.

“Miki is coming over next week.” I'm not sure if I'm trying to reassure myself, Hisao, or both of us. She's been calling a lot too, she remembers how hard last summer had been for me.

“I'm glad.” Hisao says softly. “Does she know?”

“No.” Guilt suddenly starts eating at me. I just...

Maybe I wanted to do something on my own, maybe I wanted to prove my mom wrong. But I guess this is different from attending some workshop on succeeding in college. This is, this is hard, and my dreams are scary. Anyone would want someone to talk with about things like that, and I'm lucky to have not one but two people who want to help me out.

“You should tell her.” I had been drifting away again, but Hisao pulls me back. “She would want to know.”

“I don't want...” I begin. I don't want to look like a poor little baby, I don't want someone to have to shush me and tuck me in every night. I just, I just want to have normal dreams again, or bad ones but not quite that bad. Miki's aleady done so much.

“Suzu.” Hisao's voice grows determined. “You are not weak.”

The warmth of the tears staining my pillow seems to suggest otherwise. He goes on.

“I have never had a nightmare even close to what you described. I've never fallen asleep and woken up at the bottom of a staircase, and I've never...”

Still can't say it. Still don't want to bring it up if either of us can avoid it. It still hurts.

But I'm not hurting all by myself anymore, and, and he's right, Miki would want to know if I was having nightmares again. She would have wanted to know from the beginning, but I was lost on how to explain playing battleship. And besides, that wasn't so bad, in hindsight. I was glad, when it was over. But it's better than some things, I know that now and I guess I always did.

“Miki deserves to know.” Hisao says, and I know he's right. “She'll probably try to punch your nightmares right in the face if she can.”

I laugh, wiping my eyes as my face finally begins to dry. “Maybe you can use those science skills of yours to find a way to let her do that.”

“Actually, I... well, never mind.” He shifts gears. “Promise me you'll call her tomorrow.”

“Okay.” I sniff.

“Promise me you'll be okay.”

“Hisao...”

“Please.”

Haven't I lied enough tonight already? But I don't want it to be a lie, I don't.

I don't, I don't.

“I'll try.” I whisper.


We pass the rest of the night unsteadily, Hisao still wants me to sleep if I can, he says he was studying the label on his Tank Fuel on the walk home and he's worried now. I told him that I'd found a brand that works even better and he pretended to freak out, it was... it was good. Great. After a few more hours of just talking, just saying anything, it didn't matter as long as we were together, I felt myself finally beginning to shut down. I drifted away with Hisao's voice in my ear, and now here I am, plastered into my bed, the morning sun's rays assaulting my eyelids.

I... I didn't dream. Or at least, if I did, it wasn't something worth remembering, that's, that's an improvement.

Thanks, Hisao, I...

Thanks.

True to my promise, I reach for my phone, flipping it open to begin punching in Miki's number.


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Last edited by Scissorlips on Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:15 pm, 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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Mirage_GSM
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (udpated 9/14)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:49 am

What does she need energy drinks for if her problem is not being able to sleep?

I feel that lately your story has been losing a lot of momentum. The few one shots were great, but the mainstory is just chapter after chapter of reading about Suzu's complexes and issues right now.
You might consider continuing the story for a bit...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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