Iwanako: Mean Time to Breakdown {updated 2015-4-1}

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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence) {u 7/19/2

Post by griffon8 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:41 pm

Hmm, as the editor, I guess I should weigh in on this.

I'm with Helbereth on this: there isn't anything to spoil after the very beginning, so you have to use good writing to carry it. Surprise! You do.

If the surprise was more significant to the story beyond the opening, that would be different. I've seen stories here which depend on hiding who the narrator is for the whole story. Heck, I used it myself for part of my Shizune story. Really, a twist revealed as early as it is here doesn't register as possible to spoil to me.
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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence) {u 7/19/2

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:47 pm

Hmm... When I wrote that entry I didn't even think that someone could consider this a spoiler.
For one thing, as you said, the thread title more or less spoils it already, for another, I don't think anything that happens in the first chapter of a novel can ever be considered a spoiler. It's like Harry Potter is really a wizard or Natsu is the Salamander or Earth is destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass or Ahiru is a duck or The submarine is trying to defect or Ed and Al tried to resurrect their mother or Frodo's ring is actually magical... *have... to... stop...*

I don't usually put a plot summary - if you can call it that - in the remarks section. Most of the time it would just be "Hisao and Hanako living together" which is really not all that useful as information. In case of a retelling from a different perspective or a divergence like this story, however, it is easy to write something short and concise that gives someone a pretty good idea what the story is about. Also, there are people who actively like or dislike this kind of story, (personally, I'm not too fond of retellings, while I love well written divergences like this one.) so it's actually useful information for someone deciding whether or not to read the story.

Of course, if you as the author decide to have it removed or spoilered that's your providence.
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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence) {u 7/19/2

Post by Silentcook » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:40 pm

Well, I'll make a comparison, though perhaps not a good one.

I'm shopping for books. I go to the bookstore, arrive at the desired section and idly gaze at the shelves. I know that every book here belongs to the genre, but all I get to see are the spines, listing only title and author, in alphabetical order. There might be a few bestsellers on display, but even that only shows cover art and perhaps minimal one-line blurb.

If something catches my eye, I pull it out and check the dust jacket, or the back cover, or the preface. Usually I'll find some "eyecatch" text, more or less detailed, in one of those.

If I want to, I can open the book to any page I like - beginning, middle, or end, at random or by choice.

You are starting with your dust jacket already open. Pervert. >:3

By the way, I have no idea why browsing for books - and by extension, for fan fiction - very efficiently would even be a thing, but apparently it is since we now have the archive.
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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence) {u 7/19/2

Post by Leaty » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:48 pm

Everybody makes some pretty good points. Under the circumstances, I think I'm going to maintain the status quo for now. I thought the prologue was capable of being spoiled, but then again I'm also someone who puts on movies with literally no clue what they're about.

On another note, I'm now two thousand words into the next chapter. Unfortunately, I don't see myself publishing this chapter until it's at least five times that length and heavily edited. I'm having some momentum dysfunctions.

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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence) {u 7/19/2

Post by Bad Apple » Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:07 am

I know I'm way late on this, but "What if Iwanako got the heart attack instead of Hisao?" sounds like a solid elevator pitch to me. If fan fiction needed to be pitched in an elevator, which would be rather bizarre. This is a spoiler, at first, but then becomes the premise.

Take your sweet time, Leaty. We're not going anywhere. (And if anyone does, they weren't true fans in the first place! Image)
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Scene Eleven

Post by Leaty » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:00 am


My head throbs with pain, amidst a haze of dizziness and nausea… did I just come out of surgery?

Cracking my eyes open, I flinch at the corona of sterile fluorescent light that erupts into my vision. I’m on a bed of some kind…

Blindly wandering my hands around, eventually my fingers rest upon the cool, distinctive metal railings of a hospital bed. I’m in a hospital… this is where I’m supposed to be.

I… I think…

Pressing my hands against the bedsheet-covered faux leather of the hospital bed, I begin to make an effort to push myself upright, but I’m too drained to pick up any sort of momentum. I try to roll onto my side, but there’s something tugging at my chest, stomach, and wrists… and my ankles. Am I bound down?

Though it’s hard to see fine detail, and the effort makes me want to vomit, I manage to focus on my hand long enough to see the distinctive taped cable of an electrode. I’m hooked up to an EKG machine. I haven’t been hooked up to an EKG in… in a while. Was… was I scheduled for another operation? I don’t remember the cardiologist saying anything about that…

I feel around quasi-blindly for a remote to adjust the bed, glancing over to the nightstand where I usually set it down before going to sleep. Confusingly, the nightstand isn’t there. Instead, there’s a dividing curtain…?!

This isn’t my usual hospital room. Where are all my things? What’s going on?

Looking on the other side of the bed, there’s a large window, and I have to squint to look at it, as the light from outside practically scalds my eyes. I do find a small side table, and proceed to clumsily navigate its surface with my hand until I locate the remote control I’m looking for. The remote, as well, has a different layout than I’m used to. This isn’t the bed I usually sleep on.

As I elevate the head of the bed, my thumb and forefinger angrily pinching down on the little green triangle, more and more of the view behind the window comes into view, revealing not the parking lot and residential neighborhood I’m used to seeing, but… trees and hills? I’m not in Shibuya. What hospital is this? Where am I?!

Could I have been moved somewhere else, perhaps for some kind of uncommon operation? I peer down into the V-neck of the hospital gown I only just now realized I’m wearing. Other than the six distinctive electrodes, I can see that my scar is still the same—the smooth, wine-colored line I’ve grown accustomed to. It’s unbandaged… Nobody’s operated on my heart. So why am I here?

Trying to focus only seems to blur my vision further, and remind me of the painful throbbing within my skull. It’s as though a rabid stoat is rampaging between my ears. I’ve never had a headache this bad in my life.

I move to caress my temples, and a strand of bleached blonde hair falls into my line of vision. Why… why is it…?

For easily a minute—or maybe not, who even knows—I stare at it, nonplussed, trying to figure out why it’s there, trying to puzzle out what it means, until, finally, a flash of insight triggers me to worm my way out of the delirium I’m in.

Of course, of course… I’m an idiot. I got my hair done when I was released from the hospital. I went back to school. At least, I’m pretty sure I did… My memories are a mess. I haven’t felt this bad since… since, well, the last time I woke up in a hospital unexpectedly.

But it seems that, this time, I don’t get the tableau of concerned-looking people I woke up to back then. No nurses, no Mother, no Hisao. Just an empty, white room in an unfamiliar hospital, and I can’t even remember why I’m here. And my vision is still blurry… why? I’m not myopic…

“Hello?” I ask, though my hoarse throat nearly drowns out the noise. “Is…” I cough, “is there someone there?”

No answer, of course. My voice wouldn’t carry into a hallway even if I wasn’t feeling awful and exhausted. That leaves one other option, a hospital call button, but I can’t seem to locate the cord that would activate it. Usually medical staff is supposed to affix it to the bed railing somehow, but apparently I don’t deserve such courtesies.

There’s a phone on the table next to my bed, and next to it is a list of extensions for reaching different areas of the hospital. As I try to read the list, though, the words blur together horribly, and trying to focus on them only worsens my already-splitting headache. It’s as though I’ve awoken to find myself in one of those insufferable point-and-click puzzles where you find yourself stuck in a room for no clear reason and you have to escape it in the most unintuitive way possible.

Well, hospital telephones usually let you dial 110, if nothing else. I could dial that easily enough, but what would I say to emergency services when they picked up? I’m in a completely safe hospital room and I have no idea why, and I couldn’t read how to dial an outside number, so I called the police. Something tells me that wouldn’t really get me the result I desire.

Wait… I’m hooked up to an EKG machine. God, I really am such an idiot.

Sticking my hand into my hospital gown, I grab hold of the electrodes taped to my chest and yank them off with one frustrated jerk. Like clockwork, the EKG goes from its typical staccato rhythm of emotionless beeps to one, long, urgent screech. The sound doesn’t do any favors for the migraine I’m having, but if it doesn’t compel somebody to show up, then this has to be an abandoned hospital, and I’ve seen enough movies to know that if it is, heart problems are surely the least of my worries.

There’s a long enough pause before anybody shows up that I start to get seriously concerned, but soon enough, a middle-aged woman in hospital scrubs pokes her head around the dividing curtain and glances at me curiously. Apparently no one who works here appreciates any sense of urgency.

“Er,” I say, my voice cracking, “Hello. I couldn’t find the call button. Can you… turn this off?”


It isn’t long after the nurse grumpily sets the EKG machine on mute and sends an aide to get me a chilled cup of juice that a doctor knocks on the open doorway and heads over to the foot of my bed. He’s an older man, with thinning hair, a large forehead and a salt-and-pepper mustache. He spends more time looking at the clipboard in his hands than at me.

“How are you feeling, Miss… Daidouji?” His voice is deep and raspy, not quite that of a smoker’s but not exactly healthy-sounding either.

“I have a terrible headache,” I whisper. “Why is it that I’m here?”

He raises an eyebrow at me. “Because of your congenital arrhythmia, isn’t it? Long QT…?” He glances down at the chart and shakes his head. “No, I see here that your condition is slightly different… I’m given to understand you fainted from an accident at school?”

Crap, that’s right. Some girl tackled me to the ground… Why would she do that? It seems so stupid…

Before I get a chance to respond, the man gruffly continues. “With your condition, any sort of strong impact to the chest can cause ventricular fibrillation…”

“I remember that somebody knocked me down… I can’t remember anything after that—”

“You need to be more careful,” the doctor says, cutting me off, “any sort of short, sharp shock to your heart can cause cardiac arrest.”

I know that already. I’ve had this condition for long enough; I don’t need this obnoxious man to give me lessons about my arrhythmia all over again. “I kn—“

“This time, you happened to be lucky. Your heart rate has been relatively normal since you were checked in. It appears that after the palpitations began and you fainted, intravenous aspirin was administered and your heart slowly returned to a sustainable cardiac cycle.”

They gave me aspirin after I passed out and eventually my heart decided not to fail after all. Got it. Since when does aspirin cause headaches?

“That is what we call a ‘cardiac event’,” the doctor says, with all the enthusiasm of a customer service representative reading a payment history. “Had your condition worsened, we may well have had to operate, and you very well could have died, do you understand? This is why you need to be more responsible.”

More responsible?

There’s no way I heard that right. I have to consciously prevent my jaw from dropping, though it’s not like he’s making any eye contact anyway.

Is he seriously blaming the accident on me? Like it’s my fault some lunatic gored me in the hallway?I’m being as responsible as I can!

I furrow my brow at him in consternation, my respect for him as an authority figure rapidly beginning to wane. “I don’t—“

“Now, I want you to rest here for the night, so our staff can keep you under observation, but I see no reason why you should have to stay here any longer than that. You’re not currently experiencing any cardiac discomfort, are you? Any chest pain, shortness of breath, a sensation of building pressure, anything to that effect?”


...There’s pressure building, all right, but it’s not in my chest.

Every time I’ve tried to speak, this doctor has immediately cut me off to reveal how poorly informed he is of my own situation. He is a patronizing, arrogant twit who visibly adores the condescension of his own voice. I see now that I never appreciated my cardiologist in Shibuya enough. There were times when she seemed impassive or imperious, but she always looked me in the eyes, and whenever I saw her she seemed genuinely concerned with my health. This man, however, only seems to see me as a problem he wants to go away.

For him, it’s likely not far from the truth. It’s around the time that most hospitals do their changeovers, so I’m quite possibly the last thing standing between him and a glass of bourbon.

“I’m not currently having any problems in my chest,” I say, slowly and deliberately, trying not to let the frustration seep into my voice, “however; I have an unbearable headache, I’m nauseated, and my vision is blurry.”

The look of agitation on the doctor’s face as I relay these symptoms to him is obvious; no doubt he was simply waiting for me to say ‘I’m fine’ so that he could leave the room and forget about me forever. Not that he’s given me any reason to care what he wants; I already have nothing but contempt for this man, and the splitting headache I’m suffering from doesn’t make me any nicer.

He stands there staring silently at my charts for a moment, methodically pulling a mechanical pencil out of his pocket before finally speaking. “Can you remember which way you fell? My report doesn’t say.”

I furrow my brow at the question, but it’s hard to focus on a memory that’s barely there anymore, and my thoughts are muddled and disorganized. “I don’t remember clearly... It would have to be backwards, I guess.”

“Did you land on your head?”

“It’s possible?” I barely recall it as it is, and I almost certainly would have been more concerned with damage to my heart than to my head. Literally as well as metaphorically.

“And your vision is blurry?”

“I had to ask the nurse aide how to dial an outside line, because concentrating on the phone directory hurt too much.”

He squints at me, with either suspicion or vexation, then takes an ophthalmoscope out of the pocket of his coat and gestures to it. “Mind if I take a look at your eyes?”

He switches the light on before I can respond and waves it in front of my face. The light makes my eyes burn and I can only hold them for a second or two before I have to close them, but doesn’t ask me to reopen them before he puts the light back in his pocket, apparently satisfied.

“What’s your name?”

“What?” I blink at him, confused. “Iwanako Daidouji.”

“Where do you live?”

“Shibuya,” I answer, wondering why he’d ask when the information’s almost certainly in his charts.

“Who is the current Prime Minister?”

What? What does that have to do with anything? “Is this a test?”

“Please answer the question,” he insists, not wanting to dignify me with an explanation.

I do my best to contain my frustration. “Err… Shin…zo Abe, right?”

“Yes. What’s your mother’s name?”

“It’s… Yoshizumi.”

He sighs, rapping the clipboard with the eraser end of his pencil. “Well, based on your symptoms and the circumstances, you probably have a concussion, though it doesn’t look serious.”

Haha, what? It sounded like he said...

“I beg your pardon?”

“A concussion. You probably suffered it when you fell.”

“A concussion?!

“I can’t tell how severe it is, but to prevent further injury, you’re going to need to have plenty of rest for a few days,” he continues, unimpressed with my horror. “Having a concussion so close to a cardiac event could result in some unusual complications… Until we know for certain, I’m going to have to recommend that you remain an inpatient for at least seventy-two hours.”

Three more days in this room? So much for the rest of the week…

“I would have to look at your prescriptions more closely in order to know exactly how your heart medications could interact with a severe concussion… hopefully that dose of aspirin you were given doesn’t make anything worse…”


“You were given a fairly large dose of aspirin earlier for your heart palpitations…” He shakes his head. “Aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding after a concussion.”

“What?!” I begin to feel goosebumps rising on my arms, and I start to wonder if I’m going to have another cardiac event. “You mean, like, a cerebral hemorrhage? Am I… Am I going to be all right?”

“Well, first of all, don’t panic,” the doctor says gruffly. “You’re probably fine. Most likely you’ll continue to feel nauseated for the rest of the night and much of tomorrow, but you’ve almost certainly been through the worst already. We’ll see if we need to add or subtract anything from your nightly medications and do our best to keep anything else from exacerbating your heart or your brain. But you have to stay calm.”

Easy for you to say when you’re not the one who has to worry about dying in your sleep. Or having a stroke, for that matter.

The doctor, who never gave me his name, asks me to get up off the bed and walk to the bathroom, which I suppose is to make sure that I haven’t wrecked any other parts of my body, or ensure my apparent concussion isn’t so bad that I’ve forgotten how to move upright. The motion only nauseates me further, and my legs feel weaker than twist ties, but eventually I’m able to make it to the sink, where I’m greeted by the disheveled nightmare of my own reflection. I take the opportunity to wash my face, and the doctor nods with some measure of satisfaction.

“Good,” he says blandly. “The best treatment for a concussion is to rest, and your heart could use some as well, I’m sure. When dinner comes, try to eat something, but don’t force it down. Throw up in the toilet, if you feel the need. The nurses will come by with your medications around 8 PM.”

Based on the clock on the wall, it’s just after five PM right now… I was out for most of the day.

“Well, then,” he shrugs, again not letting me get a word in edgewise, “have a good evening.”

Fat chance. I nod speechlessly and the doctor briskly exits the room, seeming delighted to finally be done with me. I debate trying to dry heave into the hospital toilet for a few moments before deciding I haven’t really eaten anything today anyway, and return to the bed, pulling down the curtains along the way.

A concussion.

Three days out of the hospital, and I break yet another vital part of my body.

How many more times am I going to find myself carted off to a room like this? Was this time simply a misadventure, or does it presage a more frequent series of misfortunes? Maybe once I’m discharged again, I’ll be back in only a matter of weeks. Maybe I was just deluding myself when I thought anything would change when I came to Yamaku. For all that my parents reiterated how “safe” that school would be for somebody with my condition, it certainly took no time at all for something to nearly kill me.

Where in the hell are my parents, anyway? Since when does hearing one’s daughter was hospitalized not warrant some kind of reaction? Do they even know?

My eyes drift back over to the phone on the nightstand. Maybe if I call Mother, I’ll feel better. She’ll… she’ll have something to say to lift my spirits, I’m sure.

Though trying to read the card on the phone still strains my eyes, I had the presence of mind to ask the nursing attendant how to dial an outside line, so dialing my mother’s cell phone number is merely a matter of hand-eye coordination. Ideally I’d use my own cell phone for this, but, much like the last time I collapsed, it’s gone missing.

The phone rings…

…and rings and rings…

…and goes to voicemail. Because of course it does. Oh, well, time to leave a message.

“Er, hello, Mother,” I say into the machine, feeling more than a little awkward. “I’m calling you from the hospital. There was an accident, but I’m… mostly fine now, I guess. I feel pretty sick, but they say I’ll be fine in a few days. I don’t know where my cellphone is, so if you want to call me…” I give her my extension and room number, and then hang up the phone. What a waste of time.

What now? I’ve got seventy-two hours to kill. Even if I had books or movies I couldn’t read them with the headache and nausea, and even if there was anything on television remotely interesting, I’d have the same problem.

No visitors to talk to, either. Not even somebody in the bed next to mine, though I’m more grateful for that than anything. I’d try calling up my friends, but I don’t really have friends, anymore. I never received the phone numbers of anyone at Yamaku, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have remembered them even if I didn’t have a concussion. I can’t really remember anyone’s phone number, other than my father’s, and there wouldn’t be any point to calling him. He doesn’t answer his calls, unless they’re from a business associate, and expects Mother to take care of everything else. Nothing short of my dangling precariously over the maw of Hell would stir him from his corporate affairs.

What about my brother…?

I know his number, but am I even desperate enough to try to speak with him? I haven’t seen him in over a year, and unlike father, not even my near-death in the snow was enough to tear him away from his career for even a moment. Does he even care about me anymore?

Resolving not to call him, I lie back down in bed, staring at the ceiling for a few minutes, trying to think about something else. I rest my head back on the pillow, covering myself in the thin blanket, and shut my eyes, trying to fall back into unconsciousness until my medication is ready.


I shift onto my right side, flipping the thin pillow over to the cooler side, and try to clear my mind and nod off. When, after an indeterminable length of time, it is painfully obvious I am not falling asleep, I shift onto my left side. This helps about as much as one would expect, so I return to a supine position, sprawling myself out all over the bed.

…This isn’t working.

I’m too worked up to fall back asleep. Too medicated, too injured, too angry, too depressed, too frustrated, too scared, too sick, too uncomfortable, too hot, too cold, too bored… As much as I need rest, it’s not coming easily. I would blame it on having just woken up, but I don’t think injury-induced fainting actually results in the kind of unconsciousness you get from natural sleep. It certainly doesn’t help that this bed isn’t nearly as comfortable as the one at Yamaku or even the one I had in Shibuya.

…I’m thirsty…

…To hell with it. Fine.

Pulling the phone, cradle and all, onto the bed next to me, I dial out the extension for an outside number and call my brother. It’s evening already, so if he’s going to have free time it’ll most likely be around now.

What will I say to him? We haven’t spoken in ages. Maybe I shouldn’t even talk about myself, being in the hospital again and all… He might not have any interest in talking about my medical problems. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t been checking up on me, even. I could just ask him questions about how things in his life are going. Maybe we could talk about his job? His love life? What he’s been doing for fun? I don’t even care. I just want to hear a familiar voice, an affectionate voice, one that’ll make me forget how miserable I am long enough for me to pass out.

The phone begins to ring. I try to breathe deeply, trying to quell the butterflies in my stomach before my heart gets any more overworked than it already is.

It rings… and rings… and rings again…


My stomach does a backflip. “H—“

“…you have reached the voice mailbox of Hikaru Daidouji,” he continues, his voice deep, rich, and distinct even in the tinny recording. “Unfortunately, I’m not here to take this call. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”

A robotic-sounding woman’s voice then proceeds to inform me that the ‘customer’s’ voice mailbox is full, and promptly disconnects me.

…Damn you, Hikaru.

I don’t know why I even bothered—


I nearly pirouette onto the hospital floor as the phone bursts into noise, its lighted display flashing urgently at me. It’s all I can do just to stare at it, stupefied, before I swipe at the receiver and bring it back to my face.


“Eh? No…”

It’s another man’s voice, not Hikaru’s. I nearly lose the strength to grip the receiver to my ear as my heart sinks. There’s a long silence as I lie limp onto the thin mattress and ponder the richness of my disappointment.

“This is Iwanako Daidouji, right?”

“Y… yes,” I answer, unsure if I want to proceed forward with this red herring of a conversation. “With whom am I speaking?”

The name he responds with isn’t one I recognize.

“Please excuse me… I don’t know who you are.”

“The Nurse, remember? From school? We spoke on Monday.”

Him? What does he want? Seems a little unusual for a school nurse to call me at the hospital. The one at my old school never did, though I’m reasonably sure she had a hand involved in keeping me alive long enough for the paramedics to arrive. What’s he going to tell me that Doctor Idiot didn’t already go over?

“The medical staff there filled me in on your current condition a couple minutes ago,” he continues, preempting the question I was about to ask. “In all seriousness, how are you doing?”

A heretofore unknown, primal upwelling of sarcasm suddenly erupts inside me, and it takes the last splinters of my willpower to suppress the savage urge to respond with one of the thousands of snarky responses that quickly spring to mind like mushrooms on an old carcass.

“I have a concussion,” I answer matter-of-factly. “I avoided having a heart attack, somehow.”

“Yeah, I, uh… I heard,” he says, a sympathetic tone starting to slither into his voice. “I’m glad it wasn’t any worse. We were pretty worried.”

Who’s this ‘we’?

“Sorry for making you worry,” I lie. “I… I wasn’t expecting something to hit me like that.”

“About that, uh…” he trails off, and I can barely hear his pained sigh through the phone. “Look, I’m really sorry about that. It’s totally unacceptable that… that happened.”

If there wasn’t such a deep undercurrent of regret in his voice, I would have no doubts that this wasn’t anything more than the traditional ‘please don’t sue us’ apology call.

“Well, it’s not your fault, obviously,” I say, rolling my eyes against the darkness of the hospital room. “It was… was that girl who plowed into me, not you. I have you to thank for getting me here safely, right?”

I’m just assuming he came up and managed the situation after I fell unconscious, because I don’t see who else might have.

“Yeah, you’re welcome, but it still never should have happened in the first place,” he replies, his voice more serious-sounding than usual. “this was… something of a wake-up call for some of us. Believe me, it will never happen again.”

It will never happen again…

It kind of startles me how little I care for this apology, how little a consolation I find this.

Even if nobody ever runs through the halls, even if nobody ever hits me in the chest, nothing’s ever going to be the same again. The major appeal of Yamaku was how ‘safe’ it was supposed to be. It was the feeling of normality I was supposed to get back, the idea that I could sink into a sense of complacency and not worry too much about whether the wrong turn was suddenly going to plunge me into disaster. Now, I’ll never have that sense of complacency again. Even if the hallway is a safe place from now on, I’ll never be able to turn that corner without feeling a pang of fear. I’m never going to feel safe.

And the other major appeal of the school? The idea of a fresh start? So much for that. I know the pathology of a rumor intimately well. Seventy-two hours from now, when I finally get back to class, there won’t be a single person there who won’t know about my heart condition. A lack of substantiated details will only intensify the speculation. When I finally get discharged from the hospital, nobody will act the same… People won’t treat me like I’m a normal person. I’ll just get more of the same dull, apologetic expressions my classmates rained down on me when they swarmed my hospital room after my operation. More of the cringeworthy smalltalk that never felt sincere, no matter how hard we tried to pretend things were all right.

So, to Hell with it. It’s over. There’s nothing else to say.

I don’t care to hear any of this…

“…Daidouji? Are you still there?”

“Yes. I’m just… I’m just tired,” I lie.

“Look, I want to give you a chance to rest, there’s just one thing I need from you.”


“Other than their cell phones, is there any other way to contact your parents? We haven’t been able to get ahold of them yet.”

…So my parents don’t even know I was rehospitalized…

“I’m sorry, I can’t help you,” I reply. “My mother usually answers her phone. I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t pick up this time.”

“And your father?”

“My father’s generally unreachable. I can count the number of times he’s picked up the phone on one hand,” I answer morosely. “I’d say email was more reliable, but it’ll probably get waylaid by his spam filter.”

Another sigh. “I see,” he says, another unwanted note of sympathy reaching his words. “That’s… unfortunate. Well, I suppose I’ll continue trying to contact them until I get an answer. We have to make sure they know about this incident.”

“I figured…”

There’s another lull in the conversation as the nurse seems to contemplate what he wants to say next. I’m already beginning to feel as though our discussion is over, so I ease my eyes shut and try to force myself to relax.

“…Daidouji, would you mind if I asked a somewhat personal question?”

I would, but… “…What is it?”

“Are you doing all right, emotionally? I can imagine that what happened today may have been frightening.”

So, you’re concerned about my mental health…

Of course it was frightening. Death is frightening, it’s terrifying. But more than that, it was depressing. I was taken completely out of control. That girl, whoever she was, may not have intentionally attacked me, but she showed me just how helpless I really am. She illustrated how easy it would be for anybody to just take me out of existence entirely. I feel battered, and violated, and shaken. If she had managed to hit me just a little harder, or had hit me somewhere other than in the school, I… I just wouldn’t be here right now.

But the nurse doesn’t need to know any of that. It’s not like he can fix me.

“I’m fine,” I answer, my voice neutral. “I don’t need to speak to a therapist, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Well,” the nurse replies softly, “I’m glad to hear that. Just… keep in mind that if you want to talk, there are people here for you. I know it’s not always easy adjusting to living with a heart condition...”

“I appreciate that, but really, I’ll be okay,” I lie.

“Good,” he answers, apparently content to let the matter drop. “One more thing, Daidouji; we have your belongings stored here in my office. Would you like me to have somebody drop them off tonight? By now, I thought I would have been able to send them over with your parents, but since I don’t know where they are…”

“Please, if it’s no trouble,” I answer, more than a little relieved to hear that my things are safe and sound. At least it’ll make my stay here a bit less agonizing. “I appreciate it.”

“Sure thing. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.”

If I didn’t have a concussion, I’d ask for my DVD player, but…

“I don’t think there’s anything, thanks.”

“All right, well, I’ll let you get some rest. Concussions are rough—I’ve had one myself—but as long as you get a lot of sleep and don’t get hit again, you’ll be good as new.”


He gives me a cell phone number to call in case I need him for anything, then we say our farewells and I hang up.

The next hour passes in relative silence, other than the hum of the air conditioner and the footsteps of medical staff trolling through the hallway. Lying in bed for so long begins to feel painful, so eventually I get up off the bed and wander around the room. My head swims and my temples pulse angrily when I sit up, but it feels all right to stretch out for a few minutes and clear my head.

Even if I wanted to walk out into the hallway (there’s never much to see,) I don’t know where my clothes are, and all I’m wearing is a hospital gown, so that’s completely out of the question. It isn’t too long before my meager reserves of energy are completely depleted and I return to the dubious comforts of the bed, finishing the remainder of the juice the nurse brought me and putting myself in a sort of half-awake trance until dinner is served.

Meal request forms would have gone out in the morning, before I was admitted, so I already know I’ll have no say in whatever they serve me, but I’m feeling too nauseated to eat much anyway, so it’s nothing to cry over. It winds up being tonkatsu, which isn’t a meal I generally have a problem with, even in hospitals, but I barely nibble on it, focusing most of my efforts on the miso soup and shredded cabbage served with it. I suspect I may not be able to keep this down until dawn, but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

I’m partaking in my dessert, a surprisingly refreshing cup of Italian ice, when I hear someone knocking on the door to my room.

“Yes? Come in.”


“Here, behind the curtain. I’m decent.”

I’m more than a little surprised to see who emerges; it’s Mutou, of all people.

“Oh! Teacher, I wasn’t expecting you.”

It’s an uncomfortable feeling, having my teacher around when I’m in bed wearing practically nothing. Well, not only that, but I look like a total mess, as well. I feel embarrassed and exposed. It’s a feeling I’ve had a lot in the past few months.

Mutou seems to pick up on my discomfort, and keeps his eyes off me in an attempt at amelioration. Though it’s almost 7 PM, he’s still wearing the brown suit he wore this morning. Has he been at school all day?

“I’m glad to see that you’re all right, Daidouji.”

I stare blankly at him for a moment, trying to figure out the most polite response. I settle on a simple “Thank you.”

He holds up a navy blue duffel bag and gingerly sets it down on the floor beside the bed. “The nurse asked me if I might come by and drop off some of your things on the way home. I have them here…”

I don’t own a bag like that, so I look to him askance.

“You can return the duffel bag to the nurse when you come back to school,” he says, preempting my question. “He packed a P.E. uniform as well, so that you at least have some comfortable clothing while you’re here.”

“That was thoughtful of him,” I say, genuinely grateful. I would have gone crazy if I had to wear this gown for three days. Undoubtedly my school uniform is tucked away somewhere on this floor, but I certainly wouldn’t want to lie down all day in it. “I really appreciate it.”

He nods stoically. The awkwardness in the room is palpable, and I find myself torn between a sense of relief from having my belongings returned to me and a sense of anxiety from being alone with my teacher outside of school, justifiable context notwithstanding. Maybe I’m just not thinking straight right now…

“I hope you don’t mind, but I had Hakamichi gather the rest of the week’s assignments from the other teachers,” he continues. “Your main priority should be recovery, of course, but with exams coming up, we wouldn’t want you to fall further behind than you already are.”

School work… I have to take a sip from my already-cold tea to conceal my chagrined expression. It’s not like I have anything better to do, but…

“Ah, thank you for that,” I say with feigned sincerity. “Hopefully… hopefully my concussion doesn’t preclude me from taking a look at them.”

His face has a brief flash of disapproval, and he turns back to face me, his eyes meeting my own. “Daidouji… do you think you’re taking full advantage of the opportunities you have available?”

Eh? What’s this, all of a sudden?

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

“We try our best at Yamaku to prepare you for life, to help you know your limits and learn how to work around them. But if you just give up every time you suffer a setback, you’re making light of the time, effort, and money people have put in to make sure that you and every other student at school can have the same level of education as your peers.”

…Really? He’s lecturing me, as I lie on a hospital bed, about being lazy? I don’t want to deal with this…

“I’m sorry if I’ve given off the impression that I’m ungrateful,” I say, as sweetly as possible under the circumstances. “This has been… a tough year for me, and I know I haven’t been at my best.”

Though I hold out hope that this is sufficient to put the topic to rest, Mutou closes his eyes in frustration, apparently too experienced as a teacher to fall for my saccharine attempt at acquiescence.

“Daidouji, when you have so many people trying to help you overcome your challenges, don’t you think it’s selfish to avoid confronting them entirely?”


I nearly died today, I could die tomorrow for all I know, and my reticence to study is selfish?

What bright, shining future awaits me if I do your blasted coursework, Mutou? What’s the grand payoff? Life in a cubicle? Staying up to meet deadlines and hoping it doesn’t make my heart die? Watching my friends fall in love and knowing I’ll never have anything like that for myself? Is that what you expect me to work towards?

You want to talk about selfishness? Trying to delude me into thinking any of this is worth a damn, just to keep me playing along, is selfish.

Of course, I don’t actually say any of that.

“I do think so,” I say, trying to sound apologetic. “I suppose I have been too lethargic. I’ll try to be more proactive from now on.”

It’s completely insincere, but this time my words seem to breach Mutou’s cynicism, and he nods with an air of satisfaction.

“Well then,” he continues, “I hope you feel better. Hopefully you’ll get out in time to enjoy the Festival.”


“What would you like me to say, if any of your classmates ask if they can visit you?”

“Are you asking me if they have my permission?”

“Yes. I believe most of them have already figured out you’ve been admitted here.”

Not that it takes a genius…

I have mixed feelings about the prospect of receiving visitors; on one hand, I think I’d certainly be in a better mood if my parents were around, but with that apparently out of the question for the time being, it would be nice to have anyone to talk to. On the other, I hate being seen when I’m at my worst, and forcing myself to be polite.

“…Please, no class projects.”

“I’m sorry?”

“No cards or balloons or anything. If somebody wants to come out and see me, feel free to tell them my room number, but if they’re just going to make some trite gesture of sympathy, I already have more than I need…”

As soon as the words leave my mouth, I realize how brusque they are, and I feel a mild pang of guilt as Mutou furrows his brow at me. This concussion must be affecting me more than I’m aware…

“Er, I’m sorry, that didn’t come out right…”

“It’s fine,” he says, his eyes tired. “I understand what you mean. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Thank you. And thank you again for bringing me my things.”

“You’re welcome,” he says, glancing at his watch. “I hope to see you in class on Monday morning.”

“I do, too.”

As soon as he leaves, I feel a palpable sense of relief. It isn’t that I dislike my homeroom teacher, especially when his heart seems to be in the right place, but I always feel tense around him anyway. He’s… very socially awkward. It doesn’t help that he teaches a subject that I loathe with every fiber of my being.


It isn’t too long before a member of the hospital staff comes in and takes away my dinner tray, and not too long after that, a nurse comes in with my nightly medications and a glass of water. Though the doctor I spoke to earlier said he was going to review my prescriptions, it seems he didn’t change a thing; I can’t yet recognize the medications I take by sight, but I swallow the same number of tablets I always do. I’m just going to have to take it on his word that they won’t cause me to have an explosive brain hemorrhage.

If it wasn’t so frustrating, it would be fascinating how having a chronic medical condition affects the tone of every other mishap that can potentially affect one’s health. For example, I’ve been just barely able to resist the pressure to vomit since I wound up in the hospital. I’ve just now taken my nightly heart medications, which I need to survive. If I do vomit, does that mean I have to take my medications all over again? Am I increasing the risk that I could suffer a heart attack? If I have to take more pills, who pays for those? If I’ve metabolized some of the medication, but thrown up the rest, do I risk overdosing?

Maybe I’m overthinking things, but it’s not like there’s anything else to do in a hospital room at eight o’clock at night.

Just a week ago, I would have been sitting up in a bed like this, too, but it’s impressive how much change even a few days makes. As recently as five days ago, I was completely emotionally numb, worn out from grieving, and completely isolated from literally everyone in my life. And, though the epiphany I had on Saturday—and the resolution that accompanied it—is already well on its way to wearing out its welcome, it's still affecting the way I would approach a situation that I’m otherwise familiar with.

I can’t seem to find my way back to that trance, that stupor I was in before. Two-and-a-half days spent back in a school setting, with people my age to talk to and actual expectations to fulfill, was all it took for me to completely forget how to deal with the empty, sterile loneliness of a hospitalization. The silver lining, of course, is that I’m only supposed to be here for a few days. Even if my prospects aren’t anywhere as near as inspiring as they seemed before this, anything’s better than a hospital room.

Since it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any more excitement for the rest of the night, and a fresh brain injury isn’t conducive to contemplating one’s problems anyway, I decide to try sleeping again. My head is still swimming, but hopefully I’m tired enough to make it through to unconsciousness.

I rest my head against the pillow, and after making a concerted effort to clear my head, I finally manage to drift off to sleep.


I’m in the middle of some kind of inscrutable dream when the shrill ring ring ring of the telephone nearly scares me off the bed. I literally gasp as I shoot upright and almost have a panic attack before I realize I’m awake.

I get a glance at the clock on the wall before I locate the telephone receiver—it’s almost one in the morning. Who in god’s name would call me this late?! I’m tempted to leave the phone alone, but it doesn’t stop ringing.


There’s a lot of commotion on the other end. It sounds like there’s a lot of people, and some kind of music, as well. My heart pulses loudly in my chest from the unexpected surprise, and my headache practically roars from the sudden exertion of waking up.

“Honey, is that you?”

“Mom?!” Even as sick and groggy as I am, I’m still unable to contain my surprise. Where has she been? Why is she calling now? Is she coming here?

“I just now checked my voicemails. Are you all right? You didn’t have another heart attack, did you?”

“No, I didn’t, but—“

“Whew! I was so worried. They made it sound as though something terrible had happened.”

I decide to let the interruption slide for the moment. “Mom, where are you? Why are you calling me at one in the morning?”

“Oh! I’m sorry, honey. I completely forgot about time zones.”

“Time zones?! What are you talking about?! Where are you?”

“Oh, I’m in Prague with Kimichan, her husband, and some friends.”


No, no, I know I didn’t hear that right. That would be absolutely ridiculous.

“Prague? You mean, like… in Czechoslovakia?”

“The Czech Republic!” she chirps helpfully. “You have no idea how beautiful it is out here. I wish you could have come along…”

Oh my god. She’s serious, isn’t she? I…

“That, uh, b, but, you, I—” I stammer, tongue-tied, too flabbergasted to articulate a question. “But—wait, wait. Why are you in… in Prague?”

“It’s a vacation! We’re sightseeing,” she says happily.

A vacation? From what? From the job that you’ve never had?

“Why… why…” I struggle to keep my voice level, trying to suppress the urge to shout angrily at my mother. “Why didn’t you think to tell me this? Or anybody?

“Oh, well, it was on very short notice,” she answers matter-of-factly. “Miss Koyama was going to come, but she had a family emergency, so they asked if I would like to go instead. I talked about it with your father, but I just thought you would be too busy starting school again and everything… You don’t need me, do you? Everything’s okay, isn’t it?”

For a moment, I’m too overwhelmed to answer. Well, that’s not really true. I’m too busy willing myself not to scream at the top of my lungs to answer.

“Mom,” I say, with every ounce of self-control I can muster, “I have. A concussion.”

“A concussion? I thought that was a head injury?”

“It is,” I say, trying not to growl it into the phone. “I hit my head when I fell. When a girl crashed into me.”

“Ohhh… my poor baby,” she says, with vapid, if maternal, sympathy. “But you’ll be all right, won’t you? I mean, athletes get them all the time, right? Didn’t Hikaru get one once?”

“I don’t think—“

“Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will be all right,” she says nonchalantly. “You worry too much, honey. Just focus on school and making friends, and these problems will go away.”


“I have to go now, but I’ll call you soon. I’ll bring you back something, okay? Maybe a necklace or some clothes… It’ll be a surprise!”


“I love you, dear.”

I sigh. “I love you too, mom.”

There’s a telltale click, and the phone goes silent.

She’s always been like this… I shouldn’t be surprised…

That’s what I tell myself, but I fear tears of frustration welling up in my eyes anyway.

Was her earlier concern for me, for my emotional well-being, just a game to her? Whatever happened to being there for me when I needed her? Did she think buying me a new wardrobe and sending me to boarding school was all it was going to take for me to stop being a problem and for her to resume her frivolous lifestyle? Did she even listen to any of the school’s voicemails, or did she delete them all?

I just can’t believe it. I’m lying here alone in the darkness, nursing a headache that never seems to end, and my mother’s touring Europe, completely oblivious to the crisis I’m going through. The one person I should be counting on to provide me emotional support, and all I get are a couple of half-baked, ignorant platitudes in the middle of the night. My mother ran off to party with her friends as soon as I stopped being an imminent problem in her mind.

My father is perennially unavailable, my brother’s missing in action, and my mom can’t even be trusted to let people know before she darts off to go globetrotting.

It’s not as though there’s anybody else, either. I’m estranged from every friend I’ve ever had, and I’m making new ones at such a leaden pace that I may as well not even bother.

And I guess that’s the moral of the story. That, even after a disaster happens, nobody’s really going to be there for me, not in the way I really need. All I have is myself. Maybe forever.

It’s a bitter truth, but it’s one I’m going to have to accept.

As the nausea rises, I have to shove myself off the bed, rushing over to the toilet and spending the next few minutes haphazardly vomiting. When I’m finally done, I collapse onto the cold floor of the hospital bathroom and lean tiredly against a wall. I spend almost fifteen minutes there, just sitting in the cool darkness, listening to the air conditioner hum.

I hope this is rock bottom.
<-|-|- Previous Chapter ~Table of Contents~ Next Chapter -|-|->
I've had this basically finished for ages now and was finally sick of it not being posted. I promise things won't be so bleak next chapter. Thanks to griffon8, per usual.
Last edited by Leaty on Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:59 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by griffon8 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:43 am

Yeah, sorry I wasn't faster on getting the edits done. If you could at the very least change all the instances of 'alright' to 'all right', I'd appreciate it.

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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:17 am

Great chapter again!
It's nice to see someone putting some actual medical research into his story.
The only thing I thought was a bit much was Iwanako's reaction to the information that she probably had a concussion. She acted like it was a death sentence even before the doctor told her there might be complications with the medication she's been given. Not really much of an issue, though.
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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by Bad Apple » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:22 am

Ah! I was wondering where this went. I figured a spell of writer's block was to blame, nothing more.

Wow, this has taken a Doomisher turn than I expected all things considered.

I like it.

You weren't kidding either. That was a long chapter to plow through. But I'm a slow reader, so take that with a grain of salt.

Between the beep-beep-beep of the EKG machine, Doctor Dickhead, her family's general 'in abstentia', Nurse, Mutou's lecture and her dear epicurean of a Mother I was almost expecting Iwanako to blow up... Almost.

I was expecting the usual, if predictable, uplifting moment near the end where she receives a genuine visitor --- there was some foreshadowing --- but really this works just as well

This one chapter hit home much as the previous hospital chapter when I first read it many months ago. KS fanfiction does have a habit of doing that, but still, excellently done.

I have a quite few things in mind that I'm looking forward to, but I'll be mostly privy about them in order not to preempt the next chapter and beyond. :)

And now, for some minutiae.
Leaty wrote:How many more times am I going to find myself carted off to a room like this? Was this time simply a misadventure, or does it forebode a more frequent series of misfortunes?
Was this a reference to a certain novel series or is the wording a coincidence?
Leaty wrote:If it wasn’t so frustrating, it would be fascinating how having a chronic medical condition affects the tone of every other mishap that can potentially affect one’s health. For example, I’ve been just barely able to resist the pressure to vomit since I wound up in the hospital. I’ve just now taken my nightly heart medications, which I need to survive. If I do vomit, does that mean I have to take my medications all over again? Am I increasing the risk that I could suffer a heart attack? If I have to take more pills, who pays for those? If I’ve metabolized some of the medication, but thrown up the rest, do I risk overdosing?

Maybe I’m overthinking things,
And here I thought I was the only one who did this.

Lastly, there was only one instance of the word 'alright' being used outside dialogue. Fix that and you're alright.
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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by Blasphemy » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:40 am

I share the same sentiments as Mirage. This was the kind of hospital chapter I was hoping for but didn't expect to get.

Feels like you thought of pretty much everything. I was anticipating how all this would affect Emi (and Nurse) especially much, and you dealt with it nicely so far. Of course, while Iwanako is unaware of the closer relationship between Emi and Nurse, the audience understands why Nurse is so nervous and apologetic on phone. Emi killing someone due to her running-in-corridors antics must be one of his worst nightmares. This time Emi avoided the worst of course but still, a dire situation. Really liked the dialog of Nurse he, I cannot even imagine the amount of scolding Emi got for running there. After all it's such a simply—unfortunately also seemingly negligible—rule that, if neglected, can in rare cases cause major harm, especially in a school like Yamaku.

The whole prospect of Emi seriously injuring or even more or less directly killing another student this way actually got me quite interested when I read the previous chapter. Actually toyed with some ideas for another fan fiction that involves s.th. like this. There are just so many consequences to not just Emi, the "victim" and Nurse but also other students that there could be some interesting stuff to write about. However since I'm terrible at writing and haven't really written anything resembling a story since... forever really (maybe some stuff in high school counts) I'll read some more of the "Tips for fanfiction writers (that means YOU)" thread and other sources before I finally embarrass myself. Also, that was just one premise of many I've thought of so far.

Well, back to this chapter:
It really is looking rather bleak for Iwanako right now and encountering such an uncaring doctor when you're already so down, blergh. Her mother appearing less worried about her on top of that, Jesus...
Can't blame her for shutting herself off to others.

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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by Reese8 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:33 am

It's not dead? It's not dead! Hooray!

Well, I'm afraid that I don't have any detailed commentary (and, um, ought to be working on homework at the moment instead of reading fanfiction), but I'm still quite interested to see what happens next. There are a lot of different potential plots branching out from this chapter.

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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:40 am

Great chapter, well worth the wait. I don't usually like it when characters have such a negative mindset, but in this case it makes perfect sense, so it doesn't bother me. Hopefully she's able to get her more positive mindset back somewhat soon.
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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by neio » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:31 pm

That was excellent. I had a nitpick or two that I might PM you if I read it a second time, but aside from comma trifles, the grammar was solid. I was very happy to see a chapter which managed to be believable and avoid the stereotypical ending. Besides that, I'm usually rather frustrated with grumpy protagonists, but this was somehow an exception.

This did seem a little odd to me:
"...I have an unbearable headache, I’m nauseated, and my vision is blurry.”


“Well, based on your symptoms and the circumstances, you probably have a concussion, though it doesn’t look serious.”

Haha, what? It sounded like he said...

“I beg your pardon?”

“A concussion. You probably suffered it when you fell.”

“A concussion?!”
Between the obvious warning signs and the doctor's reassurance, Iwanako shouldn't be so shocked and bothered. I've had a couple concussions (granted, I don't have arrhythmia) and they're not the end of the world.
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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by Bad Apple » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:41 pm

A few things I forgot mentioning. (I was low on time with my previous post.) I apologize in advance for giving you even more text to read through, Leaty. :?

Personally I don't see much of a problem with Iwanako's overreaction. Sure, we're among relatively astute peers here, but I don't suppose many people (least of all a teenaged girl) have the medical literacy to fully understand a concussion, only that it's a brain injury (which sounds very very bad). It's not like those in the medical profession are known for their plainspoken sincerity either. ("This long sharp needle we're stabbing you with won't hurt.") To top it off Iwanako is already in a heightened state of anxiety and stress, so this is twisting the knife as it were. When you're in that state it's harder to process every word as if you're reading it.

Alternatively I am inadvertently rationalizing an honest mistake on part of the author/editor, but we'll find out, right?

Now for the meat: In this chapter Nurse and Mutou are genuinely there for Iwanako and while she doesn't yet understand this, the reader can if they see past her disaffected POV. I imagine her looking back on this and coming to appreciate the reasonable authority figures that shepherd her after she was sent to Yamaku. I also noticed the Mutou lecture is the same one he gives Hisao --- but with the change in circumstances, so changes its propriety.

I also forgot to mention how unexpectedly you handled the rest of Iwanako's first week and Act 1. In retrospect it's obvious Iwanako would take some time off after that emergency. But in the general complacency of the fandom (KS is mostly lighthearted, considering) I didn't think it over fully. It's upsetting that Iwanako's transition isn't going as smoothly as Hisao's, but that's part of why this is such a great fic.

As I noted before, I have a gut feeling of what the next chapter or two entail. We'll just have to wait and see.
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Re: Mean Time to Breakdown — (Iwanako, Divergence){u 10/20/2

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:48 am

Personally I don't see much of a problem with Iwanako's overreaction. Sure, we're among relatively astute peers here, but I don't suppose many people (least of all a teenaged girl) have the medical literacy to fully understand a concussion, only that it's a brain injury (which sounds very very bad).
While it's true that she doesn't have a medical background, it's not like a concussion is some kind of exotic condition. I know several people who've had a concussion for some reason or other, and it's basically the first thing you check for when somebody hits their head.
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