A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (completed)

WORDS WORDS WORDS
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Kitsune Spirit
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 1/17)

Post by Kitsune Spirit » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:22 pm

And that was Doomish being sarcastic... so dont go flailing all over the place about the author giving up on it. lol

Kanetsugu
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 1/17)

Post by Kanetsugu » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:42 pm

I just finished catching up and I'd like to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved how you portrayed Suzu's character and her thoughts. It was really amusing to listen to her bounce around in her head. Thanks for this and looking forward to the conclusion!

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 1/17)

Post by d3v14nt13 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:22 pm

I'm anticipating a fantastic conclusion. It'd be nice if someone made a "visual novel" of this route, I remember hearing once about a spinoff based on KS itself, so it's not unheard of.

It'd be easier to read in small chunks, one little bit at a time. It'd be easier to get into the mindset of Suzu, which was a huge priority in the writing style of this, if it took less concentration and effort to read, allowing for longer periods of time spent reading comfortably.

I'm not saying "DHUHR HARD WURDS," I'm saying there's a reason sites like cracked.com are organized the way they are.

Bite-sized chunks allow you to more easily comprehend what you've read by separating it clearly from the rest of the document, and it makes it feel less monotonous. A visual novel is very suited to this story despite the medium it's already being presented in suiting it just fine.

It's hard to make this kind of comment without sounding like I dislike the current method.

I don't. I love it. I think I'd love it as a visual novel more.

Did that make sense?

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Wookie
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 1/17)

Post by Wookie » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:04 pm

d3v14nt13 wrote:I'm anticipating a fantastic conclusion. It'd be nice if someone made a "visual novel" of this route, I remember hearing once about a spinoff based on KS itself, so it's not unheard of.

It'd be easier to read in small chunks, one little bit at a time. It'd be easier to get into the mindset of Suzu, which was a huge priority in the writing style of this, if it took less concentration and effort to read, allowing for longer periods of time spent reading comfortably.

I'm not saying "DHUHR HARD WURDS," I'm saying there's a reason sites like cracked.com are organized the way they are.

Bite-sized chunks allow you to more easily comprehend what you've read by separating it clearly from the rest of the document, and it makes it feel less monotonous. A visual novel is very suited to this story despite the medium it's already being presented in suiting it just fine.

It's hard to make this kind of comment without sounding like I dislike the current method.

I don't. I love it. I think I'd love it as a visual novel more.

Did that make sense?
I suppose it depends if your a big novel reader or not (and if the story really grabs you). I am quite happy reading one hundred pages of a novel in one sitting. Some people can't do that, come people can do more. I personally like the way its done, but i also like the VN style shown in KS. As long as it doesn't lose the quality and detail when something gets reduced and shortened then im happy.
My recommended fanfic material:
- A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route/Ascent: An Emilogue/Akira Pseudo-Route/Sisterhood (Hanako Epilogue)/One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)/"Can You Open Your Heart?" - a Rika pseudo-route/Closure/Kagami Pseudo-Route/ Tomorrow's Doom - Aiko Kurai (OC)... Damn it people, stop writing awesome fanfic, i'm running out of room in this sig!

d3v14nt13
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 1/17)

Post by d3v14nt13 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:16 pm

Wookie wrote:
d3v14nt13 wrote:words
I suppose it depends if your a big novel reader or not (and if the story really grabs you). I am quite happy reading one hundred pages of a novel in one sitting. Some people can't do that, come people can do more. I personally like the way its done, but i also like the VN style shown in KS. As long as it doesn't lose the quality and detail when something gets reduced and shortened then im happy.
I'm an avid reader as well, but doing so on the computer is something completely different from a book in your hand. Two days ago I read 2 and most of a 3rd book by Louis L'Amour in a row, and while each book was relatively short, the page count is still "high."

And actually in hindsight, I take back what I said. The way it's presented here is the only way this story could be presented without significant changes, because of all the sensory detail and things that I can't imagine any way to emulate through a visual novel. Picturing the sequence of events in your mind would be ruined by the static images, things like when Suzu was getting dragged down during a nightmare.

It sounded better in my head, I'm just doing a poor job of explaining it, I suppose.

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Doomish
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 1/17)

Post by Doomish » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:16 pm

Technically, Scissorlips does present it in chunks. He posts anywhere between 10-15,000 words at a time, but they aren't always contained in one chapter. Sometimes he splits it up into multiple chapters over concurrent posts just to break it up a little bit, I've noticed.

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Scissorlips
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 1/17)

Post by Scissorlips » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:54 am

Doomish wrote:"Is this still being worked on"

Nah Scissorlips just decided he was sick of it and gave up a few chapters from the finish line and 50,000-some-odd views in. Just, y'know, because. (It hasn't even been a month, dude.)
Less the hitcount and more the 240,000-some words it took me to get here. But of course I'm grateful for (and humbled by) the amount of views as well.
Dumanios wrote:Finally read through it all. Great job, and I love the art.
Triscuitable wrote:I'm certainly enjoying this quite a bit.
hawkeye77th wrote:I'm relatively new to the forums, so it took me a bit to discover fan fiction as awesome as this! This kept me up reading two nights straight and I don't regret it. *Claps hands* Bravo Good Sir.
Kanetsugu wrote:I just finished catching up and I'd like to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved how you portrayed Suzu's character and her thoughts. It was really amusing to listen to her bounce around in her head. Thanks for this and looking forward to the conclusion!
Thank you very much. I apologize for the delay in responding, among other things.
Fyzm wrote:Feedback!
Thank you for taking the time to write up all that. I do agree that the story has improved as it's gone along, it took me a little while to really get the hang of Suzu's "voice", and I think I've learned a lot since last April.

While it's true that Hisao and Suzu have never outright fought, I wouldn't go so far as to say that their relationship has been without conflict. Part of the dynamic of Suzu's struggle with her disability is that conflict between wanting to be independent, and at the same time, her being unable to be, in many ways. To me she's in the same situation as Lilly and Rin, in that there are some things she cannot and never will be able to do without help, places she can't go alone, etc, and I find that both an interesting challenge to write and food for quite a bit of thought.

I'm glad you enjoyed the branching pathways. I know that they increased the size of the story by a marked amount, especially near the end, and I can understand how jumping between paths can be confusing and tiresome. To me it was simply too much of an opportunity to emulate the original VN story style, while offering too many opportunities for exploration for me to pass up. I definitely will admit that the pacing of the story has been slow, probably more than most of the in-game routes, and that's a failing on my part. I appreciate your input.
Parliament wrote:This route is so incredibly good. I have a couple beefs with it from a certain point of view, but when I look at it a different way I think there are some contrasts that were put in there on purpose to give extra characterization to Suzu and add layers of uncertainty to the plot.

I love it when a story takes it's time to resolve plot points, and although this story took it's time I think it was justified. If any of the major resolutions came much earlier the emotional payoff for the reader would have been diminished and the story would have less impact.

Suzu's character feels a little inconsistent at times(not wanting to lean on others, not caring at other times since it's out of necessity) but I'm fairly sure I can say it's something you did on purpose, whether or not you did it comes out in a really interesting way to me.
She is constantly having her days(and nights) being interrupted by her narcolepsy so since she has very little influence on her waking hours it becomes a very difficult task to control the direction her life goes.
If I always felt that out of control I would probably act the exact same way, alternating between needing someone to lean on and pushing people away because I don't want to feel weak any more.
This was probably exacerbated by Hisao, he white knights pretty hardcore at points. That might actually not be the right term since most of the time he's sacrificing his own free time, not for personal gain. Anyway- It's also necessary at other points in this fic so I choose to accept it as part of the story, I guess.

Anyway tyvm for this excellent piece of writing, I'm eagerly awaiting the conclusion =)
Thank you very much. Like I mentioned above, something Suzu struggles with is wanting to independent enough to be respected as her own person, as a capable person who doesn't need to be coddled, but at the same time, her condition forces her to lean on other people for support every single day.
d3v14nt13 wrote:I'm anticipating a fantastic conclusion. It'd be nice if someone made a "visual novel" of this route, I remember hearing once about a spinoff based on KS itself, so it's not unheard of.

It'd be easier to read in small chunks, one little bit at a time. It'd be easier to get into the mindset of Suzu, which was a huge priority in the writing style of this, if it took less concentration and effort to read, allowing for longer periods of time spent reading comfortably.

I'm not saying "DHUHR HARD WURDS," I'm saying there's a reason sites like cracked.com are organized the way they are.

Bite-sized chunks allow you to more easily comprehend what you've read by separating it clearly from the rest of the document, and it makes it feel less monotonous. A visual novel is very suited to this story despite the medium it's already being presented in suiting it just fine.

It's hard to make this kind of comment without sounding like I dislike the current method.

I don't. I love it. I think I'd love it as a visual novel more.

Did that make sense?
The idea has been discussed, but I don't believe it would pan out. Not only would it involve the whole "no derivative works" clause, which I have no intention of getting into, but it would also require as massive rewriting of the entire story, to convert it from prose to script format. With that said though, I have considered eventually putting the story into one combined, cohesive format, perhaps like an e-book for easier access and reading. Maybe in the future.

Believe me, I completely understand how massive chunks of words can be difficult to digest and enjoy, which makes what's about to come rather awkward. I suppose all I can ask and suggest is that you take your time to read and enjoy at your own pace.


I don't really know what to say here. Without being too melodramatic, a part of my life is coming to a close. Thank you for helping make my time here such a truly memorable experience.
If you've been following along in silence, this is pretty much your last chance to let me know what you thought of the story. Thank you for putting up with me, all this time.
My pastebin.
I'm a writer for a visual novel project called Familiarity, where I go by the name Lunch.

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Scissorlips
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Out Of Time

Post by Scissorlips » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:54 am

Out Of Time


"What's the pigment in blood that makes it red?" Hisao asks, watching me from the other side of the table as he stabs at his breakfast with a plastic spoon.

"It's..." Hold on, I... I know this one.

I bite my lip. We studied this, and it's probably going to be on the test that's coming up in... soon. Very soon. Uncomfortably soon? That's, I'm not worried at--oh.

"Hemoglobin." I declare with as much energy and enthusiasm as I can manage, which isn't very much. But Hisao flashes a bright smile.

"That's right." He says between bites of his food. "You've got this."

I smile back, but I'd be lying if I said I shared his optimism. I can barely even sit up straight. The urge to sink forward and rest my upper body on the cafeteria table is almost overpowering, and it's not because of the usual reasons. I mean, yeah I'm tired and I, I usually am, but today is worse. This is worse.

I feel a shoe lightly tap against mine underneath the table, and I realize that I've been resting my eyes. For just how long I'm not sure, but nothing has moved, nothing has changed so I know I didn't fall asleep. I blink at Hisao, my eyes heavy and tired and hurting, and he stares back.

"What's the hormone that helps regulate the human sleep cycle?" He asks, his expression gentle but teasing.

I manage to raise an eyebrow, but even that doesn't get far. "Melatonin."

"What part of the heart functions as the body's pacemaker?" I counter.

Hisao smiles. "Touche," he says softly. "The sinoatrial node."

"You... you got it." I stifle a yawn before poking at my own breakfast a little, but I'm so tired. It's just the two of us sitting here in the cafeteria for some last minute studying, our classes haven't been too awful this week so far but--

"How've you been sleeping?"

"Huh?" I glance up but Hisao doesn't repeat himself, he just watches me carefully. Expectantly and with concern in his eyes, like he's waiting for bad news that he knows is coming.

That's not fair, I was expecting another review question. But I know there's no point in lying to him. Hisao, I... I don't want to bear bad news, or anything like that. But I don't want to lie to you, either.

I’ve never wanted to lie to you.

"Not so great." I admit with a sigh. The boy sitting across from me is wearing a strained smile by now, I know he'd be doing more than that if he could. I know he's worried, I can tell, he's worrying right now.

"No nightmares though." I offer, trying to ease his troubled face, his troubled mind. "I just couldn't sleep last night."

It looks like that comes as a relief, even if it's just a small one. I'm glad. "At all?" He asks.

"Yeah." It's one of the many reasons I'm not looking forward to this test. With our classwork ramping up, the staff keep telling us how important it is to get a good night's sleep and to, to eat a healthy breakfast and all that but I'm trying, and I can't. Sleep, anyway. When I want to, anyway.

There's nothing I can do about that right now, though, and as much as I want to just find a quiet, dark corner and lie down until my head decides to stop messing with me, I don't have time for that. Even as I'm slouching and slumping, even as just sitting here at the table is becoming more and more difficult, I focus on eating my breakfast and cramming in as much last minute review as Hisao and I can manage.

Before very long it's time to head to class, and Hisao's arm linked in mine feels good, having him next to me, it feels good. I'm exhausted, I'm nervous about this test and the thought of what's to come, the thought of our impending trip to the city still makes my gut churn with fear but even then, I can't help but smile when I glance up at the boy walking next to me.

Now if only his own smile wasn't so troubled. If only he managed to not look so worried for even a moment.



I should have known this would happen.

Hisao glances up and down the hallway, affirms that the coast is clear for the moment, then turns back to me. "Can I come in?"

Normally he wouldn't even be asking, normally we wouldn't have stopped here, at my door. Normally after a day like this we'd, we'd already be inside. I would be squirming closer to him in the bed, and his hands would be... and his, his mouth would be...

But this isn't 'normally'. This isn't normal. Every inch of my body aches, it feels like I'm worn out and worn thin, I... I need to crash. Crash and maybe burn a bit, but as long as I have him, I know it will be all right.

I'm too tired to think of any snappy comebacks right now, so instead I just smile up at him, even though I'm wincing and squinting and blinking. I reach out to grab his tie, intent on tugging him through the open door behind me but before I can, a pair of girls round the corner. A certain pair. A specific pair.

They don't acknowledge our presence, either out of politeness or awkwardness or I don't know. They don't say a word, but I think I can make out the popping of a wrist here and there as their hands fly back and forth, as they talk animatedly in their foreign tongue. Foreign hand. Which is actually the Japanese version of sign language.

The student council they, they don't even look at us as they pass, but they don't have to. I let go of Hisao's tie, drop my hand away and I'm so tired that it just kind of swings limply at my side. I stare at the floor and try hard to keep my eyelids from drooping, even as I feel my shoulders, no, my whole body begin to sag.

Defeated. And to the vanquished go the... the cold, empty beds.

Maybe this is what happens if I lose. What if I can’t sleep the night before the practice exam? I guess it’s better than the nightmares but what if, what if my insomnia lasts all the way until then, for the next two weeks? It’s happened before, usually only a few times a year but with my luck...

That sinking feeling is back, and it feels like it’s heavier than ever. But Hisao's voice comes again, reaching through my anxious thoughts.

"Forget about them."

I raise my head to look at him and almost crack a bitter smile. Shizune and Misha are so low on my list of things to worry about or be afraid of right now, and maybe he knows that from the way he’s looking at me, but...

There it is. That expression, careful and worried and I... should have known he'd be like this. But I’ve seen that look before, and I don’t want to see it every day for the next two weeks. I don’t want to see it at all.

So I won’t let him make that face. I won't let him wear himself down, just to make me feel better, because I...

I want you to feel better too, Hisao.

We’re in this together, now. Can I say that? Do I want to say that? I guess those were always my words, and no one else’s.

"You're not getting into trouble just because of me. " I smile weakly, forcing myself to stand up straight. My voice is raw with fatigue but the day is over, my bed is only a few steps away and I'll be okay. I will, I will.

"Don't worry, I’m not by myself." I flash him a grin before disappearing into my room, returning a moment later with my... my cuddle buddy for the night. Is that a thing? Is that a term? It is now, I guess. He is my buddy and we shall, we shall cuddle.

Hisao looks like he wants to keep frowning, but even he can't help but smile as I hug my engorged t-rex plushie against my chest. "You've still got him, huh?"

It's so round and big and fuzzy that it's roaring muzzle covers up most of my face, I'm sure I'm just a pair of tired, dark-rimmed eyes blinking at him from under a mop of sea-green hair right now.

"Of course I do." I mumble into the soft fabric in front of me. I close my eyes for only a moment, savoring the sensation of the stuffed animal in my arms and the memories it holds, but I feel myself beginning to pitch forward just a tiny bit. Opening my eyes turns out to be much more difficult than closing them, so I decide to keep them open for a little while longer.

"Does he even have a name?" Hisao asks, still smiling at my antics. Sleepy feminine charms and stuffed t-rexes, the best combination.

Now that I think about it though, he actually doesn't. Have a name I mean, and my plushie I mean, not Hisao, that's... his name is Hisao, that's why he's...

I need to go to bed. But I do have an idea.

"How about 'Hicchan'?" I grin again, lowering the t-rex a little see he can see my face.

Hisao grimaces. "How about not."

"C'mon," I tease him. "That way I can say I spent all night cuddling with Hicchan."

"And besides, he... he reminds me of you." My expression softens as I stare up at the boy in front of me.

When I woke up the day after the festival, this stuffed animal was my only proof that the events of the previous night hadn’t been just a dream. When I woke up after one of my nightmares or I was having my hypnagogic, my going-to-sleep or waking-up hallucinations, my t-rex was there to wrap my arms around, to bury my face in and remember the person who gave it to me. I would think about what Hisao would say, what he would do if he was there, and it always made me feel better. Just like he did. Just like he does.

Hisao is back to smiling now, but his gaze is still careful. "Okay." He relents. "Although I don't see the resemblance."

"Well, you don't have tiny little t-rex arms, so that’s... that’s a plus." I reply hazily, stepping forward until my plushie is roaring into the fabric of my boyfriend's shirt.

"Give me a hug, I need to pass out." I mumble, blinking up at him. Hisao nods as if it's his solemn duty before putting his arms around me and pulling both me and my t-rex close.

This is, it's a little more difficult with a big, fat and round stuffed animal between us, but it's worth the effort. A quick but very nice and almost unexpected kiss from him is harder to pull off too, but definitely, definitely worth the effort.

We part and I almost stumble backwards. I really, really hope I can sleep tonight, but I have a good feeling about it. I think.

"See you tomorrow." Hisao says softly, thrusting his hands in his pockets. I know he'd rather be with me, and... and I'd rather he be with me too, but this isn't so bad. It's not too bad.

He's not worried, all troubled and frowning in concern anymore, and he's not like he was earlier, after science class. It had turned out that half an hour of last-minute studying wasn't enough to make up for an entire night spent tossing and turning, and flipping pillows over and pleading to just get some shut-eye. I guess I should have asked not to fail my science test instead, because... yeah. I just... I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t even remember the things we’d just talked about, and before I knew it I was making multiple choices at random and trying not to look like some small and very tired animal that had just been kicked.

But that was a while ago, that was earlier today. Here and now, I... I might look like that, but it’s not how I feel, and Hisao has finally started to relax. Oh, and he’s... oh. He’s still standing in the hallway, waiting for me to say something back and smirking a little bit by now. Hmph.

“Right, yeah.” I mutter, taking one of my t-rex’s, one of Hicchan's tiny little stub hands in mine and waving it back and forth. "G'night."

Hisao smiles, and there it is. That real smile, that real warmth. It’s still there, even if it’s been covered up by fatigue and by worry. Even if it’s just for a moment, I’m glad to see that smile again. I... I think he’ll be okay. I think we’ll be okay.

For tonight, anyway.

“G’night.” He whispers, stealing one last look at me and my prehistoric companion before turning to go.



I do manage to get some sleep that night, but not very much. I keep waking up every few hours and before I know it, it’s not dark outside anymore. So after another morning of feeling and, and probably looking like a zombie, by the time our science class rolls around the last thing I need is to find out that I did in fact fail our test. So of course that’s exactly what happens.

This doesn't exactly motivate me to give the rest of the day's classes my all, and when I stumble to the library with Hisao after the final bell rings, it's on the unspoken condition that there will be no studying. No, there will be nothing of the sort, today we, we declare war on stupid organisms and pH levels and biomes.

The first step in our grand offensive, although I don’t think it’s very offensive at all, is to seize some of the largest beanbag chairs the library has to offer and hold them hostage. We make sure they don’t escape by sprawling out in them and sinking into their soft, spongy embrace, and next I roll onto my side, tuck my knees under me and curl into a ball. Then I, I shut my eyes and count my breaths, just knowing that Hisao is in the chair right next to me and waiting until the thick atmosphere and the warm afternoon sun accomplish what an entire night of flopping back and forth in my bed couldn’t.

It works, our... our bold strategy, great success. The already dull and distant noises of the library fade away, and then I'm not quite sure how much times passes.

When the sounds of familiar voices begin to penetrate my hazy slumber, I can still feel the heat of the sun caressing my face. I keep my eyes closed, just enjoying the feeling of being recharged and, um, trying to remember where I am and why. But I'm awake enough to hear, I'm awake enough to recognize this voice. And that one too, the other one.

"Why did you call me to this wretched hive of scum and villainy, man? Don't you know what goes on here?"

That's... that's Kenji. And he's, I don’t think this is a...

"First off, the library isn't a hive." That's Hisao! "And second, keep your voice down, she's sleeping."

I guess that's me they're talking about. And I guess I'm in the library and what's... going on?

I begin to stir, but freeze as hot air wafts towards me. From the smell of garlic, even my senses can deduce that Kenji must be leaning in a little too close. And probably squinting heavily while he’s at it.

The presence retreats, I wonder if he... vampires, right? Garlic?

"She's asleep all right." Kenji states, yes. Yess, I am the sneakiest. I don't let it go to my head though, or... or to my face, now I want to know what's going on. And this beanbag chair is, I am intensely comfortable right now, so if I could find out without moving, that would be nice too.

"What's the problem though? Isn't she asleep, like, all the time? Isn't that kind of her thing?"

"Kind of, but there’s more to it than just needing a lot of sleep." Hisao replies. He speaks in the same tone you would use when explaining something to a small child, but his voice takes on a helpless edge as he continues. "She has nightmares. Or she falls asleep during the day but has insomnia at night, and it can be when she’s stressed or for no reason at all. And sometimes she has hallucinations when she’s waking up or going to sleep, or...”

He lets out a long sigh. "That's why I asked you to come here, Kenji. Help me find something to calm her down. Help me find something to make her feel better, because I'm running out of ideas."

Hisao...

There’s a pause. I can almost picture Kenji, hand in his pocket and a thoughtful frown on his face.

“So it’s a mission to raise morale, huh? Support the troops and all that? Anything for the war effort, man.”

“Thanks.” Hisao says simply. He doesn’t exactly sound confident, but I can tell he’s grateful. And... and tired. He sounds tired.

“Hey, do we need a yellow ribbon for this? I’m sure we could find one, there was some second-year trying to restart the fashion club a few months back.”

“A what? No, we don’t need any ribbon. And how do you know that?”

“Gotta keep your ear to the ground when it comes to feminists, dude.” Kenji replies smugly. “How else are you supposed to see them coming? It’s like when there’s a house fire. All the smoke goes upwards, so you stay low.”

“I thought that was so you didn’t--you know what, no. Just help me look for books she might like, maybe something I can read with her, I don’t know. Anything.”

“Alright, whatever. Go ahead and ignore my nuggets of wisdom, it’s not my house that’s going to get burned.”


After that I can hear the two of them scrabbling around, with the occasional muttering or whispers. I would either try to poke my head up and see what they’re doing or just wake up and tell Hisao he doesn’t need to worry so much, but... I’m stuck. My beanbag chair was a trap, like a, a venus fly... venus narcoleptic girl... trap. No matter what it’s called, I can’t manage to get out and I can hear the two boys working their way towards me anyway, so I just flop back into place and close my eyes again. Maybe they can drag me to the cafeteria when I start to get hungry, chair and all.

“Here man, show her this.” Kenji says as they arrive back at our little enclave, our fortress of sleepitude. “Everyone needs to know this stuff.”

“Why would Suzu care about mixed unit tactics? And why does the library have so many copies of this one book?”

Kenji shrugs. Or at least, he sounds like he’s shrugging. “Beats me, it’s probably a conspiracy. No wait, yeah, that’s exactly why! Because it’s a feminist training manual and they order them in bulk!”

Now I can tell that he’s wearing a deep frown. “Don’t show her this book.”

“Whatever. Did you find anything else?”

Some shuffling. “Well, I guess you could always go with something in here. She likes this kind of crap, right?”

“It’s not crap.” Hisao replies. I can tell he’s interested from his tone of voice. “But she is into this, yeah. Let me take a look.”

Kenji appears to be waiting in anxious silence while I can make out Hisao flipping through pages. “This might... actually be perfect, Kenji. Thanks.”

Well that’s. Relief, and excitement? I wonder what they’re looking at?

“Sure, girls always go for stuff like that. Just read her a couple lines at random and she’ll be pancake in your hands.”

“I thought the phrase was putty in your hands?”

It’s totally putty in your hands. I open my eyes to steal a peek at what they’re doing but remember too late that the afternoon sun is in my face. That tingling sensation begins immediately, oh god don’t sneeze don’t--

I bolt upright in the chair, not quite escaping its spongy depths but moving far enough to get the sun out of my eyes, my face screwed up in every effort to resist sneezing and giving me awa... giving me a...

Hisao is staring at me, hands held conspicuously behind his back while Kenji is oblivious to the entire thing and looks about to segue into another speech.

I, uh. Um.

“I want pancakes.” I blurt, causing Kenji to stop in his tracks and Hisao to raise an eyebrow.

“Welcome back.” He says simply.

“Yo. Returning to active duty, huh? I knew it would happen eventually.” Kenji adds, smiling as he tucks one hand in his pocket.

“Yeah, I...” I glance around slowly, try to lurch out of my chair and fail, then look back at them. “How long was I out?”

“Not too long.” Hisao replies, smiling gently. The warm sunlight soaks into his clothes, it makes that smile even better but it also brings out the dark rings around his eyes, the bags that are beginning to form beneath them.

“How do you feel?” He asks, and I want to wince. He, he looks kind of bad. He looks as worn out and exhausted as that, and he’s asking ME how I feel? I want ask him the same question but I know he’ll wave it off, he’s like that. He does that.

Maybe he learned it from me.

“Better, I think.” I extend an arm to the only boy who can see it. There’s a dull thump as... as something comes to rest on the table behind him, but then Hisao steps forward to take my hand and haul me to my feet.

Kenji looks like he would love to warn me about the dangers of sleeping in the library, but suddenly there’s a crash near the entrance. He doesn’t even flinch at the noise, but at the sound of Yuuko’s panicked apologies he goes into full jumpy mode, slamming into the bookshelf behind him and spreading his arms on either side. He mutters something about the area being compromised before giving the space a few feet to the left of us a nod and then walking sideways like a combat crab along the aisles, eventually disappearing from sight.

Neither of us say anything for a few long moments. Hisao stares at the spot where Kenji had vanished and I give the beanbag chair below me an appraising look, contemplating pulling Hisao down with me and trying for another nap. I’m, I’m not all that tired but you are Hisao, you’re tired and I know it. Before I can muster up the strength to start tugging though, he turns to me.

“Hey.” He says, giving me a little nudge with his shoulder. “Think you’re going to be up for a while?”

Well, I... I guess that could be arranged. “Maybe.” I reply, looking up at him. “Why, do you think the cafeteria is still serving pancakes?”

“Somehow, I doubt it.” Hisao chuckles. He gestures to the table a few feet away, but I don’t see anything out of the ordinary. There’s no sign of whatever mysterious artifact Kenji unearthed, just a few textbooks and study guides laid out.

Hisao takes a seat in one of the normal... the normal chairs. The ones that are lacking in beans and squishiness. He took the only one around and I’m not risking another skirmish with the venus thing behind me, so instead I nudge a few of the books out of the way, turn around and then hop backwards to sit on the table. Even that takes so much out of me that I want to groan, but it’s... it’s nice to have the upper hand for once, so to speak. Hisao is taller than me, so it’s nice to be the one looking down at him. Blinking down at him, and hoping very hard that I don’t randomly pass out and fall off the table because that would be so embarrassing.

Hisao’s eyes are drawn to my knee brace. He opens his mouth, probably to ask if I’ve been remembering to stretch and ice my knee and I open my own mouth to tell him that I have. Sometimes, anyway.

He looks up at me, his expression just a little cautious. “Can I ask a question?”

“You just did.” I reply with a smile, but I mean it, I’m talking three to four days a week here. The, the nurse probably wouldn’t be pleased but he’s not around and it’s better than nothing, right?

“Another question.” Hisao says, before raising his fist to his mouth to cover a yawn. I find myself leaning forward a little bit.

I wonder how much sleep he got last night. I wonder how much he’s been getting lately, period.

Does he have trouble sleeping, when I’m not there?

Would he admit it, if he did?

“Shoot.” I reply softly, staring into those warm, those weary brown eyes. He nods.

“I remember, back before summer vacation, you said there weren’t really any jobs you could see yourself doing.” He begins. I blink once but for some reason, even talk like this is low on my list of things to worry about, these days.

“And I know you’ve said you’re not very good at this stuff. Believe me, I’ve noticed.” He says, looking up at me with a wry smile.

“Uh huh.” I mutter under my breath, but he’s still smiling, and I am too.

Yeah. By now, I guess he’s noticed a lot. I guess he saw just how scared I was of everything that’s going on, of everything that’s happening. This practice test and this trip into the city, I know it’s all his way of trying to help me deal with the prospect of graduation, to show me that things will be okay.

I really hope that things will be okay.

Hisao continues. “You spend so much time with your head in the clouds, so I was wondering, I never really asked...”

“Spit it out, boy.” I tease him, even though my voice is barely more than a whisper, my words aren’t sharp at all.

“Fine.” He huffs. He looks me in the eyes. “Suzu, do you have a dream?”

I blink twice at that. “Well, last night I think I was on a train, and there was this woman wearing one of those big Russian hats--”

“Not like that.” He grins, but it’s short lived. “I mean, even if you can’t think of any career you would want to have, is there some place you want to be, when you’re older? Somewhere you want to live, someone you... want to be?”

Hmm. I... huh.

I frown, lowering my head to stare at my mismatched knees.

Only a few months ago, I couldn’t see anything in my future at all. The only things I really cared about were surviving my classes, having fun with my friends and sleeping in as much as humanly possible on Sundays. When I was a kid, it was everything just to manage my days, manage my life in the chunks of it that I spent awake. The present was all I had, the past was represented in bookmarks and bruises, and there wasn’t any time for looking forward. So no, I... guess I never really had a dream.

The future was just something that they talked about on the news in an increasingly worried tone. It was never real, it was never on my doorstep until the day my brother graduated from junior high, and I was left alone in a school full of kids who didn’t have to be afraid of staircases, or rooftops or gym class.

Even when I was old enough to come here, when people around me said things like ‘oh, I want to own a restaurant’ or ‘oh, I want to be a police officer’, I wasn’t really jealous or anything like that. I just kind of shrugged, I just tried not to think about it.

Part of me still wants to change the subject, or find something inside my head to latch onto and wander off with, but...

I glance up at Hisao. Hold on a second, you. Let me think.

Just let me think.

I...

“Now that you mention it...” I trail off. This is, erm.

“What?” Hisao asks, his eyes wide and unassuming.

“It’s kind of embarrassing.” I mumble, squirming in my makeshift seat. This table isn’t even comfortable, he’d better catch me if I fall asleep and slide off.

“I won’t judge you.” He replies, smiling up at me. Well... fine. I guess.

I do remember, there was something I wanted. It’s not very much, it’s not very impressive and I don’t even know if it’s very realistic, but he’s the one pestering me about it, so...

“A window.”

“Hmm?” Now it’s his turn to blink. Hisao cocks his head to one side, he watches me curiously and waits for me to go on. I suppose I can’t stop now.

“I want...” I bite my lip. “I want to live somewhere high up. In an apartment complex maybe, and somewhere where I can see the ocean. And...”

He’s still waiting patiently, the edges of his lips curling up in just a hint of a smile. Here we go again, I’m... I’m letting him in my head again. He’s always grateful, when I do that.

I’m always grateful that he cares enough to want in at all.

“And it has this window that’s almost as big as a whole wall.” I continue, nodding to myself. “And you can see and smell and hear the ocean.”

Hisao leans back in his chair and crosses his arms over his chest, his expression thoughtful.

“That does sound nice. But what if you fall asleep and...”

“It’s a really thick window.” I interject, feeling my face begin to burn. But he’s grinning again.

“Fine, fine.” He says, looking up at me. “So that’s it, huh? No 401K, no pension plan?”

“I don’t know what those words mean.” I pout. Hisao chuckles gently.

“Me either, for the most part. That’s really it, though? A window?”

“Well...” I shrug. “Yeah.”

But Hisao doesn’t roll his eyes. He doesn’t lecture me for being lazy about my future, or for not having everything worked out in meticulous detail.

He smiles.

“It’s a start.”



There are nine systems in the human body. There’s the circulatory system, the digestive system...

The week is finally over, and the entire school is enjoying some well-earned rest. I don’t see a single soul as I make my way through the halls of the boys’ dormitory, but the distant sounds of radios and televisions let me know that the place isn’t entirely deserted.

The practice test just keeps getting closer and closer, it’s only a week away now. Every time I see a calendar, my stomach starts clenching and twisting. It’s past the point of being painful. Every morning when I wake up, that nagging feeling is still there, and with each day that passes it just keeps getting stronger, louder, and harder to ignore.

I’m trying not to dwell on it. I’m trying so hard not to let all of that crush me, and I’ve even been managing to sleep all right, although I did give in and smuggle Hisao into my room once or twice.

...The endocrine system, the respiratory system... there’s the elevator, stairs are for chumps.

Now it’s a Sunday afternoon, which is the earliest anyone will find me up and about on any day that we don’t have class. My parents called to check up on me this morning, I, um, told them that I needed some money. I always hate asking for things like that, but it’s for a good cause. I guess. They were happy, really happy to hear that I needed it for a mock entrance exam.

That changed a bit, when they found out where it was being held. They were worried, even if they didn’t want to come out and say it. And I’m worried too.

I wish the elevators here had music. Maybe, maybe something with saxophones. Something I could tap my foot to, if chronic fatigue wasn’t part of “my thing”. Um, let’s see, the skeletal system, the... the urinary system...

My dad offered to hire a private tutor to help me prepare, but I told him I have the best tutor anyone could ask for. And I do, that’s why I’m here now. Down the hall, past the empty rooms. The muscular system, the nervous system, and the... um.

I come to a stop in front of Hisao’s door.

...The reproductive system.

I bite my lip, raise my hand and knock, but there’s no response and I’m not really surprised. Hisao probably isn’t back yet. He and Miki left this morning, they said they were going on a scouting mission, and I’m pretty sure I know where they went.

As they were walking away, I heard Miki say that she’ll pay for the bus fare if he pays for the flowers.

My gaze sinks to the floor.

You would, Hisao.

You would do that. You would want to do that.

But I won’t let you do it all by yourself. You, and Miki, I won’t let you two do everything just to hold me together. After all, we’re a team, right?

I turn around, before I can start to get wrapped up, get buried in my thoughts and worries and forget why I came here. I’m sure Hisao’s taking his time, I’m sure he’s looking around the whole area. And that’s exactly why I’m here.

I knock on the door across the hall, the one with enough locks to keep out the most dedicated thief/assassin/spy hybrid. According to Kenji those are a thing, and they have laser vision, I think? Or was it x-ray? Maybe both, are there x-ray lasers? God, I hope we don’t need to know that for the practice test.

I can hear a loud whirring noise coming from the other side of the door, but it grinds to a halt. There’s the sound of numerous bolts and locks being undone, and then the door opens just a crack, although I doubt the boy on the other side can see me anyway.

“Who’s there?”

Called it. “Was that a powersaw?”

The tiny bit of Kenji that I can see frowns. “That depends on who’s asking.”

“Kenji, it’s... it’s me.” Still nothing. I let out a sigh. “Agent Ambien? And the password is ‘ham sandwich’.”

“Oh!” His expression brightens, but only for a moment. “That’s not the password.”

“It is, I changed it. Just now.” The logical thing to do is to get into a debate over proper security channels and start making up words just to see if he’ll notice, but fatigue is suddenly gripping my eyes. My legs are starting to feel weak, so I cut to the chase.

“Hey, Kenji. I need your help with something. Can you come with me?”

“Why, have they landed?” He asks, frowning again and glancing back over his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, it’s just a scouting mission.” I reply. “You can leave the saw.”

“You’re no fun.” Kenji scowls, but he begins patting himself down, probably to make sure he’s got everything he needs to survive life outside his room.. Once he’s satisfied--and I’ve assured him that I wasn’t followed or microchipped or replaced by a robot double--we’re off, and I’m explaining the details of my not-really-that-detailed plan. Just before we turn the corner though, I can’t help but take one last look at the door behind us. The one that I’d knocked on first, the one that doesn’t have a bunch of locks and chains and bolts.

Hisao, there’s, there’s just one week left. We only have one week until all this stressing and worrying is over, one way or another. I want so bad for this to be behind us, I want more than anything else to be somewhere ahead, somewhere where I can look back and say yeah, that was pretty rough. But it’s over now.

I know that I’ll be able to do that soon. We’ll be able to do that soon. And I know that until then, you’re working hard to keep me afloat.

But two can play at that game.


Artwork by Doomish: test pls no - Welp.
Artwork by Drawbro, by request: Mean and While

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Last edited by Scissorlips on Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:27 pm, edited 2 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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A Million Tomorrows (mature content) - Part 1

Post by Scissorlips » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:55 am

A Million Tomorrows


What... where...

Arms around me, who...

My face is nuzzled into someone’s chest. I open my eyes, raise my head and... oh.

“Hi.” I mumble, smiling weakly as everything begins to come back.

"There you are." Hisao replies. He's smiling too, but it's a little hard to see, and not just because my vision is blurry. It's... huh. It's dark out here.

I blink as I look around. The two of us are leaning against a tree, surrounded on all sides by... more trees. The undergrowth, I think that's what it's called, it isn't too thick here so we don't have to blaze any trails or anything, but it makes sense for Hisao to stop and wait for me to wake up. After all, I'm the only one who knows where we're going.

I think I’m awake enough to get moving again, and I would apologize for passing out on him--probably in more ways than one--but I'm sure he would just wave it off. By now I know, he doesn't mind.

“Did any bears attack while I was out?” I ask instead, giving my shoulders a little shrug so he knows he can let me go. Hisao does just that.

"You bet. There were at least twenty... no, make that fifty of them." He says, grinning in the dim light. "Don't worry though, I fought them all off."

"My hero." I grin back, taking a few steps away and turning to get my bearings. No pun intended.

Right, let's see... ah, there it is, Kenji's trail marker. Underneath a bush and just barely visible sits a book on cryptography. I have no idea where he got it from, and I don't even want to think about what happens if it rains or, or if small woodland creatures run off with it, but it's one of the landmarks that Kenji has placed along the path through the forest. Genius, he'd said. Weird, I’d said. In fact, I still say that. But I guess it works.

"This way." I declare, linking arms with Hisao so I can be a little closer. It's chilly out here, he has his uniform jacket on and I have one of his spares. And now I have him too, so I should be good.

As we set off again, Hisao asks if I know where I’m going. I assure him that I’m a master of wilderness survival, and I have been since... some vague, undefined point in time that doesn’t really matter. The when isn’t important, all that matters is that now I can name five different kinds of trees and I could probably even tell him if the bushes he's currently wading through are poisonous or not. Or at least I could, if it wasn't hard to see. But he looks like he's fine.

"I know how to construct a lean-to tent," I begin, thinking back to the lectures Kenji had spouted as we stumbled through the woods earlier today. "And I know how to keep food safe from bears, you tie it up and hang it from a tree."

Hisao pretends to think it over. "I don't know if I could haul you up that high." He says. “Your knee’s still stiff, right? I heard you just have to be faster than the other guy.”

"Hey!" I try to steer him into a tree, but he just laughs and nudges us back on course. Hisao opens his mouth to make another quip but changes his mind a moment later, and even in the darkness, I can see that his eyes are heavy with fatigue. I’m always tired so we’re never in much of a hurry when we go places together, but tonight our pace is especially slow, and I know that’s because he is, too.

I give his arm a squeeze, I look him in the eyes and smile, hold on, Heartbreaker. We're almost there.

We're almost there.

It only takes a few more minutes of walking before I recognize a thick patch of trees, lit by the moonlight that just barely filters through the cracks between them. I let go of Hisao's arm, take his hand and then tug him along behind me as I push my way past the branches. A moment later we’re through, and then I can't help but grin as Hisao's tired eyes go wide.

I don't blame him. It's just like I imagined, it was worth it, getting Kenji to show me his secret path through the forest. Before us lies the little clearing and the cliff that’s not really a cliff, but that’s not what Hisao is looking at. That’s not what’s taking his breath away, what would be doing the same for me if I let it.

The last time I was here was impressive enough, but now the horizon is filled with the lights of the small town below. Their glow hangs in the air, it stretches on for miles and miles and past that and in the distance is the city. The place he went today, the place we'll be going together in just one week.

Above that. Above it all and as far as the eye can see, the sky is ablaze with stars. And I don't see a single comet.

I take a few more steps, motioning for Hisao to sit down next to me on the grass. When he does I scoot forward and then sideways, wriggling into position between his legs and resting my back against his chest. A moment later his arms are around me, and I'm not even close to being cold anymore.

"How did you find this place?" Hisao asks, still glancing around in awe. I look up at him and tilt my head, offering a grin that's supposed to be sneaky but might just seem exhausted.

"It's top secret. If I told you, I'd have to kill you."

"Uh huh. So this is where you were when you talked to Kenji last week?"

He figured it out. I narrow my eyes. "Prepare to die."

The smile fades from his face. "I'm always prepared." Hisao says quietly, looking down at me.

Oh... oh god. Oh god, what? Why--

"I'm kidding."

Now my eyes are so narrowed that I can barely see him. "Prepare to die!"

"Hey Suzu?"

"Hmm?" I blink up at him, caught-off guard. I was thinking I would push him backwards and then we could, we could gaze at the stars together or something like that, but Hisao isn’t looking at me anymore. He’s staring off into the distance. I follow his gaze and see the bright city lights.

Hisao’s expression remains serious as he chews on his words for a few moments, his arms still clasped around me.

"Am I making a mistake? Am I wrong?" He asks, his voice low, tired. Weak. He goes on.

"About this practice test, about the city. That was where I went with Miki today."

"Yup." I gathered that much. He glances down at me and cracks the slightest smile before his face returns to being solemn.

"I walked around for a bit, I visited the school. And I...”

He fidgets. With my body leaned against his chest I can feel the faint, erratic pulsing of his heart pick up a notch. “...I visited more than just that."

"Yeah." I whisper, dropping my head to watch the brightly lit shapes at the edge of the horizon.

Hisao pauses. He might think that I'm mad, that I'm hurt because he went there without me. But I'm not.

Maybe he felt like he needed to be there, like he needed to see it. Maybe he thought it would help him understand where I’m coming from, what I’m going through?

Do I need to see it?

I don’t know.

I tear my eyes away from the city in the distance, choosing to gaze back up at the boy above me. I focus on him and ignore the dazzling lights that hang in the sky beyond, but not because the sight scares me. Not because of the memories it brings back.

Because some things are more important.

I give Hisao a tired smile and then a nod. I'm not upset. I'm not hurt.

He looks relieved. "Going there, it got me thinking." He continues. "I couldn't stop thinking about it, actually."

"What if that city is for you what the hospital was for me?" His voice fades another notch. It's something quiet now, almost fragile.

"I never want to go back there." He says softly, a mix of guilt, regret and worry playing across his face. "And if that’s how you feel, how can I ask you to do something I wouldn't want to do?"

I don't think I've heard him talk like this since just before summer vacation, and I don’t know if I’ve missed it. But I’m glad to... to have things out in the open, to have this chance to step back and say what we’re both thinking.

Like equals, like partners. Not like a scared girl with a malfunctioning head and a worried boy who thinks he has to be strong enough for both of us.

I shake my head. "It's not the same."

He frowns as if to ask me what I mean, so I press on.

"Hisao, you... can stay out of the hospital as long as you don't do dumb things, and don't get unlucky." My eyelids are drooping again but I force them open, I put what little energy I have into making sure my smile is bright and reassuring. "And that's what I'm here for."

A slow smile begins to spread across his face, but I'm not done yet.

"Besides, this, everything that's happening right now? Even if I don't want to admit it, it’s all the same stuff that's going to happen sooner or later. When graduation really is here. And anyway, I..."

My neck is getting a little sore from twisting it to look up at him like this, so I go back to staring past the cliff’s edge at the lights that fill the horizon, at the faint neon glow.

"...I can't never set foot in a city for the rest of my life."

"I can't run away forever. And I. I don't want to always be afraid."

My natural reaction is to pull my knees and arms towards my body, to close myself off but Hisao tightens his grip on me, and that... yeah. That, this will do nicely, I think.

It's funny, I wanted to bring him here so he could calm down. Even if it was just for one night, I wanted us to get away from everything. I wanted to show him that he doesn't have to worry about me so much, but I guess we both just kind of admitted how afraid we were. How afraid we are.

It’s okay, though. Being an adult might not be scary, but becoming one is, I know that by now. It’s downright terrifying sometimes, but... even then.

I’m not in this alone. And Hisao, no matter how much he thinks he has to try, it’s not all on his shoulders. We're, we're a team. Him, and me. And Miki too, she’s been helping us study even though she isn’t taking the test.

"We'll get through this." I whisper, watching the faint outline of the city and the stars above and just hoping that Hisao doesn't let go of me any time even close to soon.

I feel him nod behind me. "Yeah."

"Yeah." He repeats softly, and there’s something in his voice. Relief. Gratitude. He rests his head against the back of mine, and it’s then that I know: he needed to hear me say it.

He needed to hear me say it.

It’s... so nice to be right, sometimes. I close my eyes, just feeling him breathe into my hair and gripping his arms, folded around me.

We stay like that for what feels like a long time, although I can’t really be sure. I might even drift in and out of sleep, but here, like this, it’s hard to tell. The moon seems to have moved a bit, and... and it’s a little colder out, but behind and against me, Hisao is still warm.

"You know." He says, pulling me back to reality. "When I first met you, I was pretty impressed."

I... I think I did, I must have fallen asleep. "Really?" I mumble, feeling the heaviness in my head begin to lift.

"Yup." From the tone of his voice, I can tell that he's smiling now. His words, his lips are so close to my skin that he’s starting to give me goosebumps.

"When I was half-asleep and you were writing your name on the blackboard and trying not to freak out?" I grin. He chuckles and shakes his head, that's weird when he's still leaning it against mine.

"Well, not then. But when you first stepped out from the back of the nurse's office and then we talked in the hall, you were so cool. You seemed like you had it all figured out, you were so used to everything and I... wasn't."

"No, you really weren't." If I wasn't still so tired, if I wasn't so worn out I would giggle at the memory of that nervous, awkward and listless boy I used to know.

"Thanks." He pretends to sound hurt. "But to be honest... back then, you were also kind of cold."

"Really...?" I frown.

"Yeah." He lifts his head away, maybe he's looking up at the stars.

"You seemed like you were always distracted by something. You didn't quite have a chip on your shoulder, but you didn’t seem to care about a lot of things. Like you’d given up, on a lot of things."

Really. I guess I could say the same thing about you, Hisao, although your shoulder was pretty chipped. Whatever that means. You’ve changed a lot too, although I remember one thing that struck me even back then.

I twist around to look at him, the corners of his mouth are pulling up again.

"But then you smiled."

"That's my line..." I mumble. I pretend to pout, but even in the darkness, I’m sure Hisao can probably see the red that’s creeping into my face. He totally can, he’s grinning now.

"And when you did," he continues, "there was just something about it. Somehow, I knew I wanted to see it again. I wanted to see you smile more and more, until the person you were when you were smiling was the person I saw every day."

"And what do you know?" He leans forward and I turn my body, picking up my legs and putting them over his until I'm sitting in his lap, his face mere inches away from mine.

I... don't know what I know. I don't know what to say so for a few moments I just sit there, staring into those brown eyes and feeling my heart thumping in my chest.

Maybe Hisao doesn't know either, because he just gives me that warm smile, the one that I'm sure beats any of mine by a mile. And then he closes his eyes.

I do the same, then lean my head forward and upward until our lips meet. As we begin to kiss I wrap my arms around his shoulders, savoring his touch, the smell of his skin, the warmth of his body against mine.

Slowly, carefully he begins leaning backwards, and then he's lying on the grass and I'm on top of him. This is, it’s nice, but I know we're both far too tired, and, um, too exposed to do anything tonight. Instead, when our kiss ends I wriggle into a slightly more comfortable position next to him and then rest my head against his chest before letting out a small, contented sigh.

Hisao begins running his fingers through my hair and probably gazing up at the stars, but I close my eyes again. My arms are still around him and I'm glad, I'm grateful that we can be here, like this tonight. I'm so grateful we were able to get away, to talk like this instead of just studying and worrying, and wearing ourselves thin.

We lay there together underneath the open sky for some time. The hand that was stroking my hair slows to a stop, and I begin to think that he's fallen asleep. I'm surprised that I’m still in the fight, and drifting away again doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, but then I remember something I've been meaning to ask him. It’s something I've been wanting to know, and it could wait till morning but I'll probably just forget it again, or we'll get wrapped back up in everything again and there won't be time.

"Hey." I call, forcing my eyes to open.

"Hm. Hmm?" Comes the hazy response. I gather my strength and lift up my head, it looks like I was right about him nodding off. Sorry Hisao, I promise I'll let you rest soon. When, when this is all over, we'll sleep for days. I'll make sure of it.

"The other day, you asked me what I wanted in the future. Remember?" At my prodding Hisao nods, blinking hard as he begins to come back.

"Well, what about you?" I peer at him curiously, my eyes heavy and stinging but not too much. "Are you still interested in becoming a teacher?"

Hisao looks thoughtful. Well actually, he looks sleepy, but then he yawns. Okay, now he looks thoughtful.

"To be honest? I don’t really know anymore." He shrugs, glancing up at the sky for a moment before turning those eyes back on me.

"I've been talking to Mutou about it, and some of his stories from his days of doing research have me thinking."

I wait for him to go on, and he does.

"I’m pretty sure what I like about teaching is that it would give me the opportunity to do some good. Too many people treat it like a job, and nothing more. To them, it’s just something they do to get paid."

"But... well..." He frowns uncomfortably. He's doing that thing when he's not sure if he's crossing some boundary, but before I can tell him to spit it out again, his gaze focuses back on me.

"I think I can make a difference in one of those research positions, too. I’m pretty good at science, and there are still a lot of disorders, a lot of conditions that we don't understand very well. There are people who suffer because of that, and they shouldn't have to."

He looks me right in the eye as he says it, and I know it's not a promise. It's not an oath.

I’m not naive. I know new medications and treatments don’t happen overnight, and cures, almost never. But Hisao isn’t offering any of those things. All he has is an intention, a desire to help people.

For some reason, it still makes my eyes begin to burn.

"So, so what about university?" I ask, before I can start sputtering. Hisao smiles softly.

"I found one that has a pretty respectable general credit program." He says. "I can take basic classes for a few years until I figure it out."

"I see."

That makes sense. That, I guess that’s smart.

Deep breath. “What’s it like?”

“The university?” Hisao asks. I nod, still lying next to him in the grass.

He gives another little shrug. “It looks pretty nice. Not too large, and it’s in a kind of scenic area that’s a little out of the way, but they offer a lot of scholarships and--”

Quick breath. “Can I come?”

Hisao stops. The only sound is the pounding of my heart, the blood rushing in my ears as he stares at me searchingly. The moment hangs, then starts stretching on and on, I can feel my insides begin to clench and twist but then he smiles.

He laughs, he lets out this quiet, relieved chuckle and then closes his eyes for a second before looking back at me.

“I was really, really hoping you would ask that.” He says softly, smiling again with lips that may just be trembling.

I’m smiling back, relief and fear and things I don’t even know are all flowing through my veins and my eyes, my eyes are burning again. But it feels good. I feel good.

“Me too.”



We go quiet again after that, just move a little bit closer and get some much needed, some much deserved rest. Some time later I’m only just barely aware that Hisao is moving, scooping me up in his arms and then getting to his feet. I blink, or... I think I do anyway, and the next thing I know we’re back on the school grounds. Everything is just a hazy flicker as I continue to drift in and out, but I know it’s all right. I know that, at least for the moment... at least in this moment, everything is all right.

I probably don’t even qualify as being conscious when Hisao wakes me up just long enough to slip out of my uniform and into one of his t-shirts before we both collapse into his bed. He pulls the covers over us, I put my arms around him and then I’m gone. We’re gone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Still, it’s... not really a surprise that we’d end up like this.

Morning light is trying and failing to make it through the curtains as we sit here, together on his bed. It’s pretty early I think, it’s a Monday morning and it’s too early to even start getting ready for class, but somehow we’re not tired, and class is the last thing on our minds. Like last night I’m sitting in his lap, legs tucked over his and behind him, and right now I have just enough elevation to be looking down into his eyes.

Less than a week now. It’s back to school now, back to pressures and assignments and, and so many other things. But we have a just a little bit longer until we have to face all that, and for the moment, I...

I remember back when Yuuko asked me if I really wanted these days to last forever. It had seemed like a pretty good idea then, but now... now, even if I did everything I could to slow down time, to make every day exactly the same, it wouldn’t be enough.

I can’t stop. I can’t go back. And part of me doesn’t want to accept that, it’s something that’s so hard to really believe. I can’t just take it in stride. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

It’s something I have to accept, or I will, one day. I know that. But here and now, like this...

I give Hisao a smile, lean down to rest my head on his shoulder and take his sides in my hands, slowly smoothing my fingers up and down, feeling his skin through the fabric of his t-shirt. The future is coming, and sometimes it feels like some headlong rush. But right now I just want a little more time like this. I just want to spend one more slow, quiet morning with Hisao, I just want one more peaceful day.

Just one more day.

Hisao’s hands are gently tracing over my legs, across my stomach, they’re, they’re curving and twisting, hey. Fingernails, that’s, that’s not fair. I’ve got those t--

He rests his head sideways against mine just as his hands travel upward to begin caressing my chest through my shirt. His... his shirt... my bra is already on the floor with the rest of my day clothes, so I..

“Hey.” I breathe, closing my eyes and tightening my grip on his sides as his warmth begins to seep into my skin. “Hey, hey.”

Hisao offers an inquisitive “hmm?”, but he doesn’t stop and I don’t want him to stop. Maybe he... he knows that, because he just continues to knead, and squeeze and tease, I’m breathing faster now.

“Those are... those are mine.” My protest is weak, my heart’s not in it and I know he knows it. A few weeks ago he figured out this trick where he, he alternates between using his palms and just a single finger against my nipples and he’s doing it right now and--

My gasping and squirming must be cheering him on, because he refuses to let up. He takes my shoulders in his hands, pushing slowly until I lean back and pull my head up to blink at him in the dim light. He gives me a small, satisfied smile before closing his eyes and moving his head lower, and even through the fabric of my shirt his mouth, his lips, his tongue is too much. With a trembling sigh I clamp my eyes shut, take his head in my hands and begin to run my fingers through his hair, Hisao that’s, this...

“This isn’t fair.” I moan. He just gently bites down on one breast while caressing the other with his thumb, my breath catches in my throat.

“Suffer.” He mutters, and I can feel his lips twist into a smile. You... you’re such... but...

He continues to suckle and squeeze, and I manage to endure it for a few more minutes, but eventually I can’t take it anymore. With my free hand I grab the bottom of his shirt and begin tugging it upwards. I regret the decision more than anything else in recent memory as Hisao halts his efforts to lean back and pull his shirt up and away, but it’s all made worth it when he returns the favor before wrapping his arms around me and pulling me closer, pressing my body to his.

By now my face is so red and my body is so hot, we’re still sitting in the center of his bed. I’m still sitting in Hisao’s lap, and as our lips meet and his hands return to smoothing and tracing over every inch of me, I twist my knees inward to lock around his back. I don’t care what time it is, I don’t care that we have class today or that I’m not supposed to be here. I’m lost in his touch, his heat, and some part of me is almost afraid that I’ll die if I don’t get more, like a patient losing life support.

Okay, that... doesn’t make a lot of sense but it’s so hard to focus now that he’s rolling his hips like that, I, I...

As he takes my sides in his hands to pull me closer, to grind our lower bodies together I have no choice but to break our kiss, pulling my face only the slightest bit away.

“Hisao.” I pant, but he won’t stop, he won’t stop, please don’t stop. His response is a long, husky sigh that only gives me more goosebumps as he kisses my chin, my neck, my collar. My head is thick and hazy but with desire, not fatigue as his hands travel downwards. He pinches the sides of my panties with his thumbs, and then begins to pull.

We have to shift a bit, I have to move back and lean upwards as we remove the last of our clothing, and then he has to reach and root through his desk for a familiar foil square. Every moment, every pounding heartbeat feels like an eternity and this part is always awkward, but I think the anticipation is worse. Or... or better? I don’t know. All I know is that now we’re together again, I’m sitting in his lap again and he’s looking up at me, his eyes heavy, pleading almost.

Some nagging worry is telling me to glance at the clock. I could see just how much time we have, but maybe the moments are more precious when you don’t know how many of them are left. So instead I look into those warm brown eyes and smile, I lean my head down and press my lips to his. And then I raise myself upward, gently, carefully take him in one hand, and guide him into me as I lower myself again.

I can’t help but let out a heavy breath as I do, gripping his arm with my free hand. It takes a few moments to adjust, but then the familiar pleasure that we’ve been seeking, that we’ve been aching for begins to burn through me. Hisao breathes another sigh, when he’s sure I’m ready he holds my hips again and then slowly begins to push, and pull. We begin to move, and as we do my arms travel under his, reaching up to grip his back. Pleasure is coursing through me now, I wrap my legs around him, locking myself in place as I hold on for all I’m worth, this feels incredible. Before long our bodies are glistening with sweat, I’m clenching my teeth, rocking my hips to match his thrusts and there’s nothing else, nothing else at all but Hisao and that building, searing feeling that pushes me closer and closer to the edge.

Both of our breaths are coming in short and shallow gasps, I plead and moan and cry out as Hisao bucks and rolls beneath me, plunging inside again and again. Right now I want more than anything else in the whole world for this to continue, for this to go on but something... something is...

“His... Hisao...” I try to maintain my hold on him but it feels like he’s getting farther away, everything is slipping away and my attempts to open my eyes are futile. I... no, I can’t believe I’m...

“Suzu?” He whispers, his movements beginning to slow.

“Please.” I beg, don’t let me fall asleep now. Please, please don’t take this away from me, not yet.

There’s a pause and I... I think Hisao comes to a stop, my senses are all so muted and heavy now. But then I can just barely feel him tighten his grip on me, and a voice is in my ear.

“Hold on.”

Suddenly I’m being picked up, it feels like I’m falling and I let out a squeak as my eyes fly open. Hisao is still right in front of me, breathing heavily, a careful but determined smile on his face.

“What are you--?” I begin, but we’re moving. Supporting me carefully, he steps off the bed and over to the nearest wall, pushing me against it, pinning me in place. Hisao puts his forehead to mine, he looks into my eyes as if begging me to tell him that he made the right decision. To tell him that he's doing something right.

This works. It’s a little uncomfortable but I um, I think I’m light enough for this. I don’t know if my weak, shaky smile is answer enough so I wrap my body, my arms and legs around him again. Hisao smiles back, and I rest my chin on his shoulder as he picks up where we left off. Soon we're panting, moaning, shivering again as we move in and out, back and forth, slowly at first but eventually our pace is steady, and then it’s something quick and maddening.

“Hisao.” This time I almost am clinging to him for dear life, his pressure, his force is the only thing keeping me up against the wall. Hisao is gasping for breath, he was whispering, sighing into my ear but now his teeth are closing around my earlobe--

“Hisao!” I cry, a shock, no, a deep spasm of pleasure rolling through my entire body.

“I’m here.” His breath is hot against my neck. He holds me up with his hands as our bodies collide, as the feeling of ecstasy and release continues to draw nearer. So close it’s, it’s almost in my reach now, oh god Hisao, I...

“Don’t stop.” I whimper, eyes shut tightly even though I’m wide awake now. “Don’t stop don’t stop don’t stop.”

“G-got it.” He rasps back, clutching me tightly. I can feel Hisao’s heart raging inside his chest, and as our pulsing and writhing reaches a head, the tinest part of me that hasn’t been consumed by his heat begins to fear for his safety. But then he’s calling my name, he’s going even faster now and I just can’t. I just, I

With a grunt, a sigh, a whispered cry, Hisao makes one final thrust as he reaches his limit, and my body convulses as he sends me over the edge. I cling to him with the last of my strength, trembling, gasping for air as the pleasure overtakes me, and when its grip finally recedes Hisao stumbles backwards, sinking down onto the bed like something drifting back towards the earth, like... a blimp or... a bird, or... oh...

I feel completely and utterly destroyed right now, but, but in a good way. Like something, something crushed or broken down so it can be made new, but it wasn’t painful, that was... that was so...

I find myself smiling, even though I’m exhausted. I relax my legs to rest on top of Hisao, his arms still around me. His chest is still heaving up and down, but his breathing isn’t panicked, it feels like his heart is beginning to slow again. He stares up at me, our bodies are streaked and dripping with sweat and his eyes are so heavy, but he looks so alive. So happy. The sight has me grinning like an idiot, I have no choice but to lean down and kiss him again and again and again.

“Thank you.” I whisper when I finally bring our lips apart for longer than an instant.

Now he’s grinning too. “Just doing my--”

You dork. I shake my head. “Not that, I...”

I, uh. I don’t know how to say it. I just end up frowning at him, Hisao, there’s been so much. So much has happened, but you never gave up on me. You never went away.

My life is always changing, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. When I fall asleep, sometimes I wake up someplace else but even when I don’t, things have still happened. I’ve still missed out. Even if it’s just on the boring things, it’s still part of living, it’s still a part of life that's out of my reach so, so Hisao, you being here for me... you wanting to stick by me even after I was so afraid...

I can’t tell you how much it means, to have someone who’s always there when I wake up. But I wish I could.

By now I’m painfully aware that it’s still somewhat early in the morning. I'm exhausted but I... I do have an idea.

My smile returns. “I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks.” I whisper, and even his tired eyes light up a little.

“And ever thanks?” He asks. I’m impressed, he knows I like Twelfth Night and he must have read it too, but I shake my head again.

“Actually that, that line was modified from the original Shakespeare. The way it ends is--”

Hisao rolls his eyes, smiling fondly. “Sshhh.” He replies, cupping the back of my head with his hand. He brings me closer and deposits a single, soft kiss on my forehead.

“Fine, be that way.” I mumble, but I’m smiling from ear to ear. I close my eyes and rest my face against the side of his and the crook of his neck as we both begin to calm down, as the heat from our bodies fades to a reassuring warmth and our breathing returns to being slow and even.

Just when falling asleep becomes a very attractive notion, the peaceful silence is suddenly broken by a dull and distant chiming noise.

Well that sounds familiar. It’s almost like... huh.

“Did you hear something?” Hisao asks hazily, shifting as he raises his head.

“Nope.”

“Oh.”

He lays down again, I squirm a little bit to attain maximum comfort and then his fingers are gently combing through my hair. Somewhere, attendance is being taken. Our absence is probably raising eyebrows but I don’t care, I just can’t bring myself to care. Hisao’s embrace lulls me back to sleep, and he’s there, he’s there the next time I open my eyes.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:27 pm, edited 3 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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A Million Tomorrows (mature content) - Part 2

Post by Scissorlips » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:56 am

As tempting as it is, the two of us can’t hide out in his room all day. We end up finally rolling out of bed and, um, taking a quick shower... yeah... and then we manage to get to class just before the lunch break ends. When we walk through the door we get the usual treatment: a couple people smirk, Hanako pretends that she doesn’t exist, Lezard pretends that WE don’t exist. Normally such a display of truancy would have Shizune scowling at us, but today she just pouts. I offer her an apologetic frown, sorry, sorry, it wasn’t planned, I promise.

The only real surprise is Miki’s reaction, or more, the lack thereof. The desk next to mine is empty.

A quick check with Molly and Ikuno, the other girls in the front row, confirms that my best friend never showed up for class today. Hisao and I exchange a glance but just then the bell rings, our next class is beginning. As soon as the teacher turns around to write on the blackboard I whip out my cell phone, maybe she sent me a message, or I have a missed call? Miki wouldn’t just vanish without a trace, not unless something had happened. Something that could make even her go to ground.

My phone’s blank display is proof that Miki hasn’t tried to contact me. I bite my lip as gears begin to turn in my head, but they’re not really going anywhere, I just don’t know what could have happened. It’s true that even Miki is starting to grow uncomfortable now that the school year is winding down, but I know her, and I know that she wouldn’t bottle up her fears until she was left cowering in her room or something. It couldn’t have gotten that bad without me noticing, even as... distracted as I’ve been with all our preparations for this coming weekend.

Maybe I’m worrying too much. Maybe she just decided to go back to bed when she knocked on my door this morning and I wasn’t home. Either way, the next time I get another opportunity to be sneaky, I send her a quick message asking where she is. That’s really all I can do at the moment, so for the rest of class I just sit there, trying to both pay attention to the teacher and ignore the uneasy feeling that hangs over me like a cloud.

Miki still hasn’t responded by the time the class ends. In the few minutes we have before the next one begins I call her, but she doesn’t pick up. I’m still trying not to overthink things, I’m trying not to worry, but when the final bell rings, the only thing I can think to do is grab Hisao’s hand and march into the hall, intent on being the one who bangs on doors for a change.

We only make it to the second floor before I collapse, out like a light but Hisao manages to catch me before I go headfirst down the staircase. He wakes me up and then, then after a few blinks and yawns we’re off again. We reach the first floor, we’re through the main hall and out the door, headed towards--

“Hey.”

Oh, there she is. We didn’t have to go very far at all and that’s... that’s good, because I’m still not quite fully awake yet.

Miki is standing just outside the main entrance, leaning against one of the ornate columns. Her arms are crossed but she doesn’t look angry. She doesn’t look upset.

She looks troubled. And in my experience that’s far, far more worrying than seeing her mad.

“Hey.” I reply, stopping immediately. “Where were you? I tried texting you and I called you but you never answered.”

Miki’s expression twists uncomfortably, something that looks foriegn on her usually relaxed, upbeat features.

“Yeah.” She says softly, standing up straight. Next to me, Hisao seems content to stay out of this. I can tell he’s curious, and Miki is his friend too so he probably wants to help, but no one else at Yamaku knows her better than me, so he just thrusts his hands in his pockets and waits for whatever comes next.

“Suzu, do you... think we could go for a walk or something?” Miki asks. She glances right at me and then breaks eye contact almost immediately, not good. Not good.

“I kinda need to talk to you.” She adds, but I’m already nodding.

“Sure.” I turn to Hisao. I’m tempted to give him a mock salute, leave this to me, I’ll get Stumpfist back in fighting shape again. But the mood just doesn’t feel right. Instead we promise to meet up later, maybe for dinner or something, and then he’s heading off towards the boys’ dorms and I’m walking with Miki across the grounds.

It’s not a particularly nice day out. The sky is a sheet of dull gray and it’s a little windy, a little cold, but Miki doesn’t seem to mind. She leads me to a bench near the gardens, I’m pretty sure I’m wide awake now.

The girl who sits next to me glances around, none of the students filtering out of the school building seem to be coming our way. Even though she’s satisfied that we won’t be interrupted, her face is still troubled as she looks at me and then opens her mouth to speak.

“Hey, so.” She begins. Her posture is rigid, her bandaged wrist is held out of sight and her good hand is clenched in obvious discomfort. She looks... guilty, and that just makes me want to know what's going on even more.

“Miki, come on.” I force a smile but I wish I didn’t have to, we shouldn’t have to play these games. It seems like everyone’s been slow to come forth with things, these last few days. Turnabout is fair play, I guess.

Miki frowns, then sighs and stretches her arms above her head. I can’t tell if she slept in this morning and is just now waking up, or if she’s been awake since early on and is paying for it. But either way, she’s starting to relax now, and I’m glad. She looks me in the eyes again and that’s when it clicks: she has bad news, and it’s worse for me than it is for her.

“Are you still nervous about that practice test next weekend?” She picks back up, tilting her head as she peers at me.

“I’m not nervous.” I say simply, blinking at her. Finally a smile crosses her face, now the one on mine is genuine.

“Fine.” She rolls her eyes. “Are you still scared of it?”

“I’m terrified, yeah.” I laugh, and Miki giggles. My confession doesn’t seem to ease her mind any, but this breaking of the ice certainly does.

Miki, no ice, please. There’s too much going on these days, too many things to worry about without us being weird around eachother. Whatever it is, whatever’s wrong, just tell me and I promise we’ll get through it. If you're with me, I think I can get through just about anything.

My best friend sighs again, turning to gaze at the path below us. She aims a light kick at nothing, then speaks up. “I got a call from my parents this morning.”

“Uh oh.”

“Ha. Yeah.” She smiles with just a hint of bitterness, but continues. “They said they wanted me to come home this weekend. With graduation coming up, they want to have some ‘family time’ and ‘reconnect’.”

Ahh, I think I’m starting to understand why she’s so uncomfortable now, her relationship with her parents has never been very... very... wait, this weekend?

Of course. It’s all so simple. Elementary, my dear Watson. And... and stuff like that.

Miki is watching for my reaction, she was waiting for the pieces to fall into place and now they have. The two of us end up speaking at the same time.

“What should I--”

“What are you going to--”

We both stop. We share a weak smile, and then I scoot a little closer to her on the bench. I get why she’s so conflicted now. I just admitted that the test and the trip still scare the crap out of me, and it’s true that her family life has never been even close to perfect, but...

I look at the dark-skinned girl beside me, usually so calm and confident. She’s usually laid-back and joking, but now she’s torn, and I can only think of one reason for that.

“Well, you want to go home, right?”

Miki squirms in her seat, it’s so weird to see her like this but it’s kind of nice, too. It means she's being honest. Seeing her act this way, it only makes what I have to do that much clearer, even though I know I might regret it.

God, god I hope I won’t regret this.

“You should go.” I give her a tired smile as I say it. The fatigue is beginning to return, but it won’t stop me from doing what I need to do.

Miki looks skeptical. “But you need me there for the trip into the city, right?”

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.” I reply, and she manages a grin.

“You? Lie? Never.”

“Hey!” I pout. She’s grinning wider now, and I am too, and... yeah. I move a few more inches until our shoulders are touching. I’m sitting on her left side, but I tap her leg with the back of my wrist until she takes the hint and reaches over with her right hand to hold mine.

It doesn’t quite work. Holding hands doesn’t really work like this, but we’ll make do with what we’ve got. I give her a squeeze.

“I do need you.” I admit, looking into those dark, piercing and troubled amethyst eyes. “And I, I really am scared. But you might not have another chance at this, you know how your parents are.”

Her face says that oh, she knows all right, but she still doesn’t seem convinced. I’m sure the thought of something happening to me when she’s not around is almost as terrifying to her as it is to me, but... well...

...There’s this look that she gets sometimes.

Not very often. I don’t know how many other people here have even seen it, she hides it pretty well. It’s a look that she only gets when the school has big events, when students bring their entire families to visit or when she comes home with me over breaks.

I remember, she was kind of awkward, kind of uncomfortable when she first started spending lots of time with me and my parents. But when she finally began to relax and enjoy herself, to let her guard down... it’s hard to describe. When my dad would insist on telling embarrassing stories from my childhood, when my mother would draft us into helping her cook even though we did more harm than good, I would always catch Miki slipping into this sort of melancholy mood. It’s part sadness and part envy, not bitter at all, just this wistful expression that says:

“Wow.”

“I wish I had something like this.”

...Normally, she would snap back before anyone else could notice, and I never said anything about it. I mean, what do you say to something like that? ‘I’m sorry your family isn’t as great as mine’?

People at Yamaku are already used to inequalities. We're used to life not being fair, in a lot of ways. It just is, and it makes us who we are, but... the luckiest of the unlucky are the ones who can still change that, who can still make their lives better, instead of just manageable. And here, now, she has a chance to maybe set things right. If her parents really are trying to change, then there’s no way I can deny her that. There's no way I can beg her to come with me. I can’t, I won’t.

I owe her so much more than that.

“I promise I’ll be okay.”

Miki watches me carefully, but she hasn’t let go of my hand.

“You? Lie? Never.” She says, her voice barely more than a whisper.

Fine, fine. “I promise I’ll probably be okay.” I correct myself with a smile.

“Getting warmer.” She replies, and I let out a dry chuckle.

I actually don’t know if I’m lying. I mean I really, really wish I did, and my secret plan to ease Hisao’s mind--with the trip to Kenji’s hideout and the, the getting away from everything, not this morning, that is--seems to have worked, but...

Next weekend, this next Sunday is still a complete unknown for me. And that’s terrifying, it is now and I know it will be then, but still. All of this is happening because the people closest to me are trying to help me.

What good am I if I can’t do the same thing for them?

I nod to myself as if to reinforce the thought, and next me, Miki lets out a sigh. The sound draws me back to reality, I guess I had spaced out a little, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

Knowing that her stump doesn’t bother me, she puts her left arm around my shoulders, pulling me a little closer with the crook of her elbow.

“If you insist.” She says, her gaze cautious but almost hopeful too. “If you promise you’ll probably be--”

“Probably be okay, yeah.”

“Yeah.” Probably isn’t good enough, for me or her, and we both know it. But it’s... it’s the best I can do. I won’t lie to her.

“But if you can promise that, then I’ll meet you guys there in the city as soon as I’m done. Okay?”

That’s more than I was expecting, that... yeah, yeah, okay. That’s better than nothing at least. “It’s a done deal, then.” I reply, smiling up at her.

With that, the shadow of guilt is gone from her face. Miki smiles back, looking grateful but nervous, happy, but still a little scared.

“My little Suzu is all grown up.” She proclaims softly, although I can tell her feelings on the matter are mixed.

“Yeah.” I mumble, resting my head on her shoulder. She’s certainly not the only one.

She doesn’t say anything else after that, she just flashes something that almost resembles one of her catlike grins. Then she looks up, across the grounds and maybe at nothing at all, I can’t tell. My eyes are closing. Everything is going dark, both inside and out, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Miki. I hope that, no matter how much I grow or change, I’ll still be able to lean on you like this. And I think that... I mean, I hope that by telling you to go for it, I’ve reminded you that you can always lean on me, too.

As my condition takes over, as sleep whisks me away the only thing I know for sure is that Miki’s hand is still holding mine.



The next week seems to go by in slow motion, but somehow it’s still over in the blink of an eye. The long evenings and nights spent studying and cramming. Sitting in class with that nervous, lingering fear snaking through my chest as our teachers go on and on about the things that universities look for in applicants. Those moments might be what take up most of my time, but they’re not the ones that stick with me. They’re not the ones I really value, even if I maybe should.

Miki seems determined to make up for her impending absence by doing everything she can to help me and Hisao study. During lunch or even sitting around before class, everyone is glad to take the time to blow off some steam, to laugh and joke and talk about anything and everything. The nights when I can’t sleep, and the next morning, when Miki doesn’t treat me like some poor wounded sheep, she just takes me by the hand and leads me to the showers so we can start getting ready for the day. It’s through all these moments that I... I can’t help but stop and wonder, is this it?

Is this the last time I’ll see my friends like this?

Is this, is this the last time I’ll ever talk with Miki about the latest gossip while we wait an eternity for our noodles to microwave? The last time Akio will ever make a joke and Taro will laugh so hard that he almost chokes on his lunch even though it wasn’t THAT funny, or we all head down into town for dinner at the Beijing, and Molly brings along Takashi even though he’s kind of a jerk and nobody really likes him?

All the little things, the little moments and snippets of peace. I mean, they don’t sound that amazing, they don’t sound like anything that special at all, but even if there was something I didn’t like doing, if someone told me that I would never be able to do it again, I... I...

I try to focus on studying, on preparing for the test and just taking things one step at a time instead of worrying about things that are beyond my control. But I don’t want these days to end.


If there’s one thing that living with narcolepsy has taught me, though, it’s that we don’t always get what we want. Saturday comes and Miki goes, but not before a fist-bump and a long, long hug, in that order. She says she’ll see me tomorrow and I tell her to knock ‘em dead, or break a leg or, or whatever other phrases might work here, because I’m really bad at goodbyes. I hate them, in fact.

Miki doesn’t mind. She says she’ll bring me some of her mother’s cooking, I didn’t know her mother had cooking. I mean, I didn’t know she cooked. Maybe she doesn’t, because then my best friend gives me a wink before climbing into the the cab, disappearing with a smile on her face.

I can’t see her very well as it drives away, but I know she’s watching me as she goes. I know that behind that wink and that grin of hers, she’s nervous.


That was yesterday. It’s Sunday afternoon now. And I am so, so far beyond nervous.

I’m standing in the center of my room. The soft clutter all around me stands guard, it’s at the ready in case my luck goes bad and my plug gets pulled. But I can’t take the stuffed animals, the pillows and papers and bags and coats with me. I won’t have them there, if something goes wrong today.

Tearing my gaze from my safety net of debris, I stare out the window instead. It’s another gray and cloudy day. If I had a choice, I think that...

...If it was up to me, it would be sunny outside. It would be warm.

The sky would be nice and blue.

And my heart wouldn’t be beating at a thousand miles a minute.

Hisao was with me all night long, but he isn’t here right now. My parents called, but all they could really do was wish me luck and tell me their own entrance exam horror stories to try to make me feel better. Then they said they loved me, and asked me to take care of myself. My parents, that is, not Hisao. But I’d be okay if he said it too. I, I think I’d really like it, if he did.

Okay, okay. Just take a deep breath, let it out. Deep breath, let it out. Hisao will be back soon, we have to leave soon and I, I have to keep it together. I have to hold myself together, this will all be over soo--oh god don’t put it like that.

This isn’t working. I think back to that night we spent under the stars, trying desperately to get back that feeling of peace and tranquility but I can’t. I cling to the words that we said, to the memory of Hisao’s arms around me and Miki’s hand in mine but it’s, it’s not enough, I’m shaking now. I’m shaking in my boots and I, I’m not even wearing boots.

My head is crammed so full of information for the test, what if all this stressing, all this anxiety makes me forget? What if I get there and sit down, and my mind just goes completely blank? And what if I never do get there at--

There’s the sound of knuckles rapping on my door frame. I turn, Hisao is standing there, wearing his sweatervest, his jacket, and his warm smile.

Good timing, Heartbreaker. I manage a tiny smile that’s probably shaking just like the rest of me, my chest, my insides feel cold.

"Ready?" He asks. I don’t know if I should, but I nod. We're going to be out past dark tonight, it will probably get cold, so he, he lent me his spare jacket again. Of course I do have my own coats, sweatshirts, things like that, but I need them for the floor brigade. And besides I just like wearing his, and he doesn’t seem to mind.

My hands are balled into fists at my sides but I can barely feel them, why, why is it so cold in here? I feel so tired, even though I’m wide awake, but that's okay, right? Because we'll go to the city. And then we'll come back. Both of us, and then we just won’t care. About anything, about everything, at least for a while. We’ll sleep for days and it will all be okay, right?

Right?

"Right." Hisao says softly, stepping forward. He puts his hands in my pockets, his pockets, and tugs me the last few inches until our chests are touching.

"D-did I say that part out loud?" I mumble, eyes widening.

"Nah." He replies, suddenly so close, so close to me. He’s smiling, and he’s warm.

"I'm just psychic." He says.

Liar. "Then read my mind." I smile weakly, looking up into his eyes. He stares down into mine, his gaze flickering back and forth as if he's searching every corner of me. But he doesn’t have to look very hard. He doesn’t have to go very far.

"Don't be scared." He whispers.

I close my eyes, take another deep breath. Psychic liar.

"Make me."

There’s the slightest pause.

“Okay.”

Hisao plants a gentle kiss on my forehead, and then I hear the crinkling of paper. I open my tired eyes to see him pulling a sheet from his pocket, his face growing serious.

What, what’s that? Some more Shakespeare? I bet it is I, I bet he’s going to whisper some sweet nothings into my ear. Hisao, you’re so corny sometimes.

I wonder if it’s Julius Caesar, is he going to tell me that cowards die many times before their deaths? Why I should fear I know not, since guiltiness I know not. But yet I feel I fear.

God, god I’m skipping all around, I just wish I could calm down. I wish I could breathe normally, I wish my pulse would slow.

Our eyes meet and I offer him a smile and half a shrug, go on then, boy. If you think this will help, if you want to help then help me.

Please.

Hisao looks at me searchingly, those tired but warm brown eyes staring into mine. He takes a long glance at the paper in his hands before wrapping one arm around me in a sort-of hug and pulling me closer. And then he shuts his eyes and begins to speak.

“Fear no more the heat o’ the sun. Nor the furious winter’s rages.”

My eyes go wide again.

“Thou thy worldly task hast done, home art gone, and ta'en thy wages.” He continues. No, no, Hisao, what are you doing? Why are you--

“Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney sweepers, come to dust.”

“Hisao, that’s--” I begin, but he just continues on, he was hesitant at first but now his tone is stronger, firmer.

“Fear no more the frown of the great, thou art past the tyrant’s stroke. Care no more to clothe and eat, to thee the reed is as the oak.”

My jaw is clenching, I can feel wet, hot tears beginning to well up, stop. Hisao, please, please stop. This isn’t what I was expecting, this isn’t what I wanted.

“The sceptre, learning, physic must, all follow this, and come to dust.” He carefully opens his eyes, just as the first few tears begin to fall from mine. Only now does he stop. Hisao looks at me as if he wants to apologize, to take the words back but I just stare up at him, I sniff and wipe my eyes. He’s come this far.

We’ve come this far.

“F-fear no more, the, the lightning-flash.” I begin, sputtering a little as my face feels so hot. He smiles, he gives me a gentle squeeze as he picks back up.

“Nor the all-dread thunder-stone. Fear not slander, censure rash, thou hast finished joy and moan.”

He continues. “All lovers young, all lovers must--” Another squeeze, I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I close my arms around him and bury my face in his chest.

“--consign to thee, and come to dust.” His voice drops to a whisper as he wraps me up in his embrace. He holds me tight, he slowly rocks us back and forth, even as he continues to say the words that have me weeping, and aching and Hisao, don’t you know? Don’t you know what this is?

“No exorciser harm thee!” He nearly shouts, clutching me in his arms, I’m sobbing loudly now. “Nor no witchcraft charm thee!”

“Ghost unlaid forbear thee! Nothing ill come near thee!”

“Quiet consummation have.” His voice softens again, the words strained with emotion. “And renowned be thy grave.”

A pause. That’s the last stanza. “Hisao.” I sniff, raising my head to look up at him with red and watery eyes. “Hisao th-that’s, that’s a funeral song.”

“I know.” He whispers, his expression solemn. He leans down to rest his forehead against mine, closing his eyes once more.

“It’s not for you.”

I swallow or choke, I don’t know, all I know is that I can’t stop crying. Hisao continues, he opens his eyes and pulls away just enough to look down into mine.

“Suzu, I never got to know your brother, and I really wish I could have. He seems like he was an incredible person, and I’m sorry for all the things you had to go through. But you are not him.”

“This could be the longest day of your life, but it will not be the last.”

I stare up at him with trembling lips. I sniff again, let go of him with one hand to wipe my eyes but he beats me to it, he reaches up to gently push my tears away.

“I’m sorry that you were alone for so long.” He continues. “And I can’t, won’t promise that everything will always be fine. I won’t tell you that everything will be easy, or you’ll never have to be scared.”

“But I can tell you this.” He whispers, returning to holding me in his arms as the afternoon sun drapes us in a warm light. “You’re going to get through it. You’re going to graduate. And then you’re going to show me up at university.”

I manage a weak, wet chuckle, my tears still staining the front of his jacket. That, that might be true, evening classes, made for me but I still don’t know what to say. I just nod, I cling to his, his words and to him and Hisao... Hisao, you...

“When are you going to stop making me cry?” I mumble into the wet fabric in front of me.

“Never.” He retorts softly. “Haven’t you been paying attention?”

I manage a shaky laugh before sniffling again, and then I press myself against him, squeezing him so tight. I’m still shaking but for a different reason, I’m not scared but my heart is so heavy, and somehow it feels right.

It all feels right.



We walk down the hill in silence. I probably could have used a little longer to make sure I don’t look like a mess anymore but there isn’t time, there just isn’t time. Soon we’re at the bus stop, and I have no intention of letting go of Hisao’s hand.

By now the clouds have departed, and beams of sunlight hang high in the air. I’m still taking fast and shallow breaths, every roar of an engine causes me to tighten my grip on Hisao but he just smiles softly, he gives me a smile that says I’m being silly. That everything is fine, and it’s going to be fine, and I believe him.

As we wait for the bus I can’t help but look at our surroundings, at the road that leads to the Shanghai, at the school atop the hill, my home.

I don’t know how many more days I’ll have here with my friends, with the people I care about the most. I don’t know if I’ll even miss the stupid things when I’m looking back, like the cafeteria food or Mutou’s droning lectures. But--

“There it is.” Hisao pipes up, and sure enough, the bus is rounding the corner. It hisses to a stop in front of us, and then the doors open for us. Hisao takes a step forward, turning back to me with a gentle smile. He motions toward the bus with his head, and I...

All I really know right now is that I have to go.

“Ladies first.” Hisao quips softly. He begins to let go of my hand but I shake my head. I want to do this together.

Hisao doesn’t object, although he does look puzzled for a moment. We might get some weird looks from the driver and the other passengers, but we manage to squeeze through the doors side by side, walking into the center aisle and then collapsing into the nearest available seats.

The doors close. I let out a long breath as the bus begins to move, but Hisao is sitting right beside me. He gives my hand a squeeze and I steal a glimpse of that warm smile, even if his eyes are tired, even if he looks as worn out as I feel. Then I move to rest my head on his shoulder, I look out the window. As the bus takes us away I soak up his warmth, and watch Yamaku grow smaller and smaller.

Seiji. I don’t know when I’ll see you again. And it’s funny but... I never really had a reason to fall asleep. I don’t know if anyone does, actually. But here, and now.

I think I’ve found my reason to wake up.



End.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:26 pm, edited 1 time 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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Thanks And Acknowledgements

Post by Scissorlips » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:58 am

Thanks and Acknowledgements



Thanks to everyone who has supported me and my writing over the last year, including but not limited to:

Meadows, for your assistance in proofreading, editing, bouncing ideas off of, lighting up the night and just generally being a damn swell guy.

Doomish, for your encouragement, the late night conversations, the doodles, and for being there.

Thighs, for being the first person to ever draw something that I’ve written. You gave my story a face, and I will always be grateful.

Skrats, for being the most talented space viking I’ve ever had the pleasure of begging art from. Thank you so much for your support.

Telvanni, for your wisdom, your encouragement, and your company.

Bonertron69, for cracking the whip in the early days, and for being my friend, hopefully for many more to come.

Hearts, for fostering my efforts in the way back when. I’m glad there was more than just water that was cold.

Mollybro, for proofreading and for your encouragement / tugging me along at times, near the end.

Elcor, lolawesome and Ascended Flutist, for supporting this story in its infancy. May you RIP in peace.

Everyone who contributed art, thoughts, feedback, criticism or encouragement, whether on the renai or in KSG. This story would not and could not have been finished without your support, so again, my most humble thanks.

and Four Leaf Studios, for both inspiring and tolerating me.


Image courtesy of Thighs. Click here for a visual timeline of the story, including some previously unreleased WIP images.
Last edited by Scissorlips on Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (completed)

Post by Doomish » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:10 am

Yessssssssssssssssss this is the best. What an ending. I was proud to be your alpha reader and designated doodler. Godspeed, Scissorlips. Godspeed. ;__;7

One last doodle for the road.

http://puu.sh/284Am

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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (completed)

Post by forgetmenot » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:32 am

Awesome ending.

I'm not crying... I've just been cutting onions.
I'm making a Lasagna.

In all seriousness, finishing a work this big is a huge accomplishment. Congrats. And thanks for being part (read: most) of the inspiration for me to start writing in earnest. Much love.

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Re: Thanks And Acknowledgements

Post by Meadows » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:02 am

Scissorlips wrote:Meadows, for your assistance in proofreading, editing, bouncing ideas off of, lighting up the night and just generally being a damn swell guy.
Ah, wasn't expecting that. I guess I'll allow myself a moment of smugness.
I know I've already said this, but it's been a pleasure and an honor to work with you.
Congratulations and well done. Your faithful editor is proud.

Time to celebrate now.
Last edited by Meadows on Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route (updated 1/17)

Post by fancywalrus » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:16 am

Well it's 4:00am, I should probably at least try and sleep. Huh, Scissorlips posted on the Suzu route, might as well check it out. Oh, looks like he's just responding to feedback, probably an update about where he is at, makes sense, it still says updated 1/17. I suppose I'll read through real quick, wait, whats that?
Scissorlips wrote: I don't really know what to say here. Without being too melodramatic, a part of my life is coming to a close. Thank you for helping make my time here such a truly memorable experience.
If you've been following along in silence, this is pretty much your last chance to let me know what you thought of the story. Thank you for putting up with me, all this time.
Well who needs sleep :D

What can I say that hasn't already been said? This was one of the more powerful things I've had the pleasure of reading and is my favorite pseudo route by a decent margin. You brought the character of Suzu to life so well and I just want to thank you for sticking through from beginning to end. As for the ending, I certainly had more than a few tears in my eyes by the time I finished. I can't think of a better way for you to have ended it and while I'm certainly a little melancholy at the prospect of their journey ending and at never getting to read another update, I'm more happy than anything right now. Honestly, I enjoyed reading this more than I enjoyed certain routes in the game. All I have left to say is congratulations on your accomplishment and again, thank you for all of the hard work and dedication you put into this story, it really shines through. If you ever decide to take up another writing project, I can assure you that I'll be reading it.

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