Five Year Illumination (A Reunion Tale). Updated 8/02

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Helbereth
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Five Year Illumination (A Reunion Tale). Updated 8/02

Post by Helbereth » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:22 pm

Author's Notes:
8/02 - Added A2 - S2 - The Original Species (part 2)
7/14 - Back from... somewhere. Act 2 - Scene 2 - The Original Species (part 1) posted.
7/2 - Added Scene 6 - The Gangs All Hear. Also, I finally thought up a title. I've also added an Author's Notes post where I'll archive all the curious thoughts I had when posting the individual scenes - among other things - link below.
6/26 - Added a prologue of sorts onto the beginning of Scene 1 - Imminent Nostalgia to introduce some of the timeline and establish where and when the story begins.


Author's Notes
Act 1 - Reconnecting
Scene 1 - Imminent Nostalgia
Scene 2 - Sleeping Outside The Lines
Scene 3 - All Signs Point To Home
Scene 4 - How My Tea Has Fallen
Scene 5 - Five Years Later
Scene 6 - The Gangs All Hear
Act 2 - State of Reunion
Scene 1 - Yamaku, Oh Yamaku (part 1)
Scene 1 - Yamaku, Oh Yamaku (part 2)
Scene 2 - The Original Species (part 1)
Scene 2 - The Original Species (part 2)

Upcoming:
Scene 2 - The Original Species (part 3)

Foreword:
Having started this a few weeks ago, I thought I should go back and mention that this story most certainly contains spoilers. It revisits all the original cast, eventually, and references events from the VN frequently. The assumption is that we're five years after the final events of the good Lilly ending. I've worked out the events after that point through graduation, and I have an idea in my head -if not on paper- of where they've been since. I've incorporated peripheral events from the other tales to flesh out the other characters - though they're obviously different from how they play out in the specific stories. I basically assumed that most of the events that happened in the separate stories still happened, but may or may not have included Hisao.

Five years is also a long time. Well, it's not an eon, but it's still time enough for the characters to have changed and matured. Thus, some of them are in a somewhat different state of mind than they were at Yamaku - some more than others.

I'm also writing a separate fan fiction involving a cast of OCs (it's linked in my sig), who share struggles at Yamaku like the rest. I'm likely to use some if not all of them as cameo appearances. There may well be spoilers about those characters as well, so keep that in mind.

Basically, if you haven't finished the game (all 5 paths) there may well be some spoilers in here, so read with caution. I don't want to ruin anything.
____________________________________________________________
Act 1 - Reconnecting
Scene 1 - Imminent Nostalgia

Lying there, face down under the covers, the only thought running through Hisao's tangled mind is on the incessant beeping coming from outside his warm cocoon of blankets. His eyes creak as they open, but there's no light to see. He's buried under a deep layer of plush bedding that's thankfully repelling any of the morning light snaking its way through the curtains of this strange room.

Strange room.

Suddenly remembering where he is, Hisao jerks the covers off his head and looks around. His eyes don't want to focus, but it's clear he's not waking up in his own bed - nor is this place so impersonal as a hotel room. Or a hospital bed. No, this is clearly someone's house - someone with an apparent love of the outdoors. In the corner there is a pair of fishing rods that appear to have been placed there carelessly, one of them with what appears to be dried weeds stuck to the reel. Near them is a shotgun, though it appears to have been left there for some time as it's caked with a thin layer of dust.

That alarm is still beeping.

Scanning around the room, he finds the culprit on the nightstand and gives it a solid tap to end its wailing. Next to the alarm clock there is a haphazard bundle of framed pictures. A couple of them he doesn't recognize, but he does know three of their faces. Shizune, Hideaki and Jigoro Hakamichi are pictured wearing various types of outdoor gear and holding up some of their apparent triumphs. One picture of Shizune holding up a fish that looks like it could topple her over, a determined expression of triumph - or maybe satisfaction - on her face and a fist raised in the air, sticks out.

Hisao remembers their first meeting when that determined smile made him cringe, but now it just makes his head swim in nostalgia. The first time they met, he thought she always looked so disappoined in him - like he'd done something wrong even when he was doing something right. As it turned out, she just wanted to push her friends harder than they thought they could go - a tactic that didn't always work.

That turns his gaze over to the woman sharing this bed. Even though he's sure she heard the alarm, she made no motion to stir; and, even if she were awake, she couldn't see his incredulous expression. She simply lay there, eyes closed, her curly blonde hair draped softly around her face. Her breathing is steady and calm, something he's learned to pick out over the years, that means she probably is still asleep. Lilly Satou. The serenity in her face is simply too powerful to disturb, so Hisao decides not to rouse her. She can sleep a bit longer while he takes care of some morning routines.

Reaching into his luggage, tucked tightly against the foot of the enormous bed, he pulls out his running clothes - simple shorts and a t-shirt - and, taking one last look at Lilly, tip-toes into the bathroom to change. Upon exiting, he walks quietly out the door, down the hall and then straight out the front door into the sleepy morning light. It seems neither of the other two house guests are awake yet, either, which is probably a good thing.

Exiting the fence, Hisao takes a moment to stretch and that brings another memory back to mind. Emi Ibarazaki. The fastest thing on no legs. He was pretty ragged when he first started at Yamaku, and spent months denying the seriousness of his condition until he almost-

It's a painful memory, and one he doesn't like to recall.

He nearly died that day in a crowd of people outside an airport. That had made Lilly cry. He hated when Lilly cried, especially over him. After that, he decided there was no more running away from his condition, so to speak. Upon returning to Yamaku, he took up Emi on her offer to go for morning runs. It was time he started watching out for his own health beyond choking down his pills every day, and Emi was already looking into becoming a nutritionist at the time, so it worked out wonderfully.

Now, five years later, Hisao still goes for a run every morning, five days a week.

The early morning air is crisp and cool after some light rain overnight, and he can see his breath drifting upward as the world lazily scrolls by his peripheral vision. No longer having the legless Emi to compete with, Hisao had settled into a slower pace years ago. This wasn't about training for a marathon, after all. His heart would probably explode even at the thought of a 26-mile run. Instead, it was about keeping in shape and making sure his heart stays healthy enough to keep beating for Lilly. He never wanted to see her cry again.

It would seem that nobody else is awake at 6:30am around here, either, so there isn't much to look at in the neighborhood besides closed doors, rain-soaked lawns and an occasional signpost. The route he picked out that fit with his normal 4-mile run was carefully mapped out, but it's unfamiliar territory, so he digs his phone out to check the route. The squiggly lines are normally hard to read when you aren't jostling the screen around, so it's rather futile trying to check it while running. It looks like he's around half wah through the route, though. And making decent time, at that.

A few minutes later, he regrets not looking at the street view when he planned the route as there's suddenly a long, windy hill in the middle of his path. There's no such hill back around the hospital campus, and he wonders for a moment if he should try to find an alternate route. Deciding that would take too long to do on the run, and stopping would be worse, he grudgingly starts trudging up the hill. It shouldn't be too much of a problem, he thinks. He's in much better shape than he was five years ago. What could go wrong? About half-way up, he regrets that thought as sweat pours over his face and a nagging tinge of pain wells up in his chest.

Stupid heart.

He stops and concentrates on breathing; placing his arms over his head to allow his lungs to expand unhindered, he listens to his heart thrumming in his ears as it slowly calms back to a normal rhythm. Crisis averted. This kind of scare is nothing new, so he takes it in stride. The stress of the flight last night along with the apprehension about... other things... are probably factors along with this unexpected incline. Taking a few minutes to make sure he's not going to keel over, he lifts his phone out of his pocket again and traces the route back to the Hakamichi house; deciding to walk the way back.

This gives him a chance to watch the sky spread open - literally. The clouds that sent a mist of rain across the quiet suburb overnight begin to drift away and an orange hazy glow lifts up from the eastern sky. The sun had been spilling its light out across the area since before Hisao awoke, but now its rays can break through at full force. As they do, the air begins to warm and he feels less bad about his heart deciding to betray him. Simple pleasures are the greatest reward. That's what they say, isn't it? Birds begin to sing - or at least he now notices them - and there's a few friendly voices coming from the houses in the area as the residents start their day. A few of them toss confused looks in his direction, but he just smiles and waves. Some of them respond in kind while others simply go back in their homes. He wonders if any of them know Jigoro, and has a good laugh at what they must think of his girlfriend's brash, forcefully immature uncle. He's hard to get along with even if you have to, but he's surprisingly genuine at times.

The air smells a little sweeter - like someone's doing some baking - as he rounds the corner and approaches the fence surrounding the Hakamishi house. The sun rising behind it makes the structure loom like a sentinel, dark and foreboding. If it weren't for the fact he knew the man wasn't at home, Hisao would feel like Jigoro Hakamichi himself were casting a perturbed gaze down through the visage of his home. However, all that he knows awaits inside are his lovely Lilly, along with Misha and her mysterious friend Samantha.

And a tiny box only he knows about.

He pushes his way through the gate and walks back in as quietly as he'd left. The house is still asleep as evidenced by the light sound of snoring coming from the guest room - and the distinct lack of a "Wahaha~!"

He creeps back through the house and into the master bedroom, peeking over to see Lilly has hardly moved since he left. She needs the sleep. They've been traveling around quite a bit since she took that sabbatical. He was starting an internship in a few weeks, so they took the time to do some world travel before their lives get hectic again. Their flight in from London to attend the reunion - and the Yamaku Festival - had been especially tiring. A screaming baby makes it hard enough to sleep for someone that can close their eyes to tune things out - Lilly has less luck in those situations.

Deciding not to bother her, and still sweaty from the jog, Hisao heads into the bathroom to begin his second routine. Leaning against the sink, he thumbs his daily regimen of pills into his mouth, swallowing them with tap water that leaves a mild chlorine aftertaste. Placing his left hand fingers against his right wrist to check his radial pulse, he sighs and absently counts his pill bottles. He's down to 14 different medications now, but that really isn't much of a victory.

Satisfied with his heart rate and upon closing the medicine cabinet, he steps out of his clothes and into the hot shower. The hiss of the pipes and the cascade of water over his head drowns out the noise of the doorlatch being opened. Evidently his attempts to not wake her were unsuccessful.

"Morning, Lils", Hisao says with a wry smirk.

Lilly frowns for a moment, but then smiles, and speaks groggily, "Hisao, I've said before I'm not fond of that moniker."

"I'm just practicing for later," he retorts flippantly.

"Practice it later." She emphasizes that last word by increasing the volume, but, in her sleep-addled fog, it's still barely audible.

"Will do," he teases.

This draws a stifled, sarcastic giggle from Lilly as Hisao dunks his head back under the stream of water, drowing out her curt response. She shed that classroom nickname years ago, and isn't looking forward to being referred to so informally by her former classmates. Hisao has been sporadically using it endearingly for the past week to reacquaint her - figuring it might ease the shock.

After splashing some cold water on her face to push away the haze, she begins feeling around for her toiletries and asks absently, "Did your jog go well?" Trepidation is in her voice as she's deals with the alien surroundings. She continues while stifling a yawn, "Being in a different place and all?"

"Yeah, there's more hills around here, but I managed alright." He smiles and adds, "It's not like I haven't been here be-" The sound of something small falling to the floor interrupts his train of thought. "Lilly? What was-"

She interrupts his query with a quick answer, "Nothing, just..." She follows the sound down to the floor and finds "a toothbrush...?"

Hisao stops washing and asks, "Is it one of ours?" The thought of asking their host for a replacement briefly flashes across his mind. Jigoro Hakamichi's idea of being a gracious host is as famous as the oceans are dry, so it's not a pleasant thought.

"I don't think so," she says happily.

Bullet dodged.

Lilly turns it over in her hands, feeling some kind of chibi character attached to the end. "I suspect this might have been Misha's at some point, but..." her voice trails off as she attempts to identify the character. It feels like a flat, bumpy circle but lacks raised surfaces that could help her identify it properly.

Hisao resumes his washing routine, "Well this is your uncle's house, so it's entirely possible she left it here at some point..."

Lilly shakes her head and asks, "Do you think she'll want it back?"

Hisao snorts, which is accentuated by the water cascading down his face. Thinking on it, he figures it was likely left here during a previous visit and remarks, "I doubt she has any idea it's even here."

Lilly's knowing giggle is drowned out by the running water. After dropping the mystery toothbrush in the trash, she, upon finding her own toothbrush exactly as it was left, starts going about brushing her teeth while Hisao finishes in the shower.

"Hey avert your eyes, I'm stepping out..." Hisao grins, his joke makes Lilly smile, which she turns into an excuse to start brushing her front teeth. Hisao walks up behind her as he drapes a towel across his midsection to plant a kiss on her cheek, "Will Hideaki be here today, or is he still gallivanting off with that dark-haired girl of his?"

Lilly sighs and leans back to try and talk with the toothpaste still foaming in her mouth, "Shishune shud be hedded up da ta'mac abaut nao," She gives up the pretense and spits the foamy liquid into the sink before continuing, "So I imagine he'll be rushing home to see her, assuming he isn't here already." She shrugs, and punctuates her lack of knowing by sending the toothbrush back to work.

"Reunions all-around today, then," Hisao says, grinning nostalgically, as he heads into the bedroom to get dressed. After a few minutes, he hears the shower turn on and breifly considers getting undressed again to join her, but the thought passes quickly when he thinks about the other two occupants in the house. Instead he turns his attention to the tiny black box resting on the dresser - which he notices is partially covered by the black bra Lilly laid out before going to bed last night.

With unreasonable quickness, Hisao gets up, grabs the little box and stuffs it in his pocket. Over the years he's gotten used to hiding things in plain sight around Lilly, with varying degrees of success, but this is different. This is big. The fact that she could have come across the tiny box prematurely makes Hisao paranoid. He absently turns it over with his fingers as he looks into the giant mirror behind the dresser and sighs inwardly at his ever-messy hair.

Jigoro Hakamichi's graciousness is limited, but he's always accomodated his niece's needs and, with some bluster for good measure, agreed to let them use his master bedroom during their stay to, as he so delicately put it, "Make sure my niece doesn't end up falling out a window while you're not looking."

Of course, he immediately followed that announcement with news that he would be disappointingly absent while he went bear hunting. It diminished the weight of the gesture, but one most certainly does not look a katana-wielding gift-horse in the mouth.

However, a sudden and disturbing thought crosses Hisao's mind. Leaning close to the mirror, he tries to look through it while silently praying there isn't some kind of camera control room on the other side. Maybe Jigoro let them use the master bedroom during their stay so he could gather intelligence? Perhaps he'll use it as leverage in some dastardly plan? Jigoro's graciousness was suspicious, but who would suspect him to be spying on his niece and--

Hisao suddenly wonders if this is what it's like to be Kenji.

It lasts only a moment before he shakes the thought away. Jigoro isn't the type to be perverted - at least there was never any indication, as such - and he's not technically saavy enough, or technically tolerant enough, as it were, to orchestrate such an elaborate scheme. Still, Hisao can't help but wonder if an image of him hurriedly grabbing that little box off the dresser is being beamed across sattelites and sent to some undisclosed facility in an attempt to ascertain whether he'll really go through with the plan.

Suddenly, Kenji's voice pops into his head again, "That's how they KNOW, man! You gotta be careful!" Could Kenji have been right about the Feminist Conspiracy?

After a moment's thought, Hisao calms down and starts thinking logically. What would Jigoro have to do with a feminist conspiracy if one even existed? He's more likely to be among the first to be 'cleansed' if such a war were ever to erupt, after all. The absurdity of that train of thought makes Hisao smile as he continues fiddling with the tiny box in his pocket.

"Could you hand me my bra?" Lilly asks, holding out her hand expectantly. Somehow in his distracted state, Hisao hadn't heard her exiting the bathroom.

He snaps out of his musings and turns as a wide-eyed, guilt-ridden expression crosses his face, one that he's very happy she can't see. His hand yanks out of his pocket, away from the tiny box, and comes to rest on his hip, "What?" He asks, louder than intended, while his hand fidgets with the lump in his pantleg.

Lilly cocks her head a bit and lets out a frustrated sigh, "Hisao, my bra," she even points generally where she's sure the brassier lies, "please?" She stands next to the bed and waits with her hand out, wrapped in a towel that extends from her chest down to her thighs - truly it barely retains her modesty due to her height. Hisao can't help but stare for a moment. Her normally billowing blonde locks rest flat against her neck and back, still wet from the shower. He recalls that look, but he's not sure why.

He's really the only person who ever sees her like this; relaxed and playfully fidgeting as she waits for him to respond. It reminds him why he was so attracted to her in the first place. "Oh, right, sorry," he rambles as he turns back to the dresser.

She frowns and raises an eyebrow at his antics, "you're conspiring something, aren't you?" she asks in frustrated monotone. "You know I can still hear you breathing, Hisao, and we don't have time to-"

"Sorry, Lils," Hisao breaks her frustrated rant - pointedly using the dreaded schoolyard moniker - as he grabs the bra from the dresser and tosses it to her waiting hand.

Before she can say anything else, there's a trio of hard knocks against the door followed by Misha's somewhat deflated, but chipper voice, "Hicchan? Lilly? Have either of you seen my toothbrush? I think I left it in your bathroom last night."

Lilly tenses a bit, but Hisao shushes her quietly and, thinking quickly, stifles a laugh as he responds, "No, neither of us saw your toothbrush at all," smiling stealthily, he continues, "Are you sure you left it in there?" For a moment he wonders what Misha was doing in their bathroom, but his musing is dispelled upon looking at Lilly's expression.

Lilly gives Hisao a sour look, realizing the truth in his statement - neither of them technically saw the toothbrush, after all - but, she quickly grins and relaxes, realizing it's not really important. She gets to dressing while Misha continues her verbal assault through the door, "Aww, Hicchan, you'd have known it was mine if you saw it. It had Bubbles on the end. She's my favorite, y'know."

The mournful lilt in her voice makes Hisao reconsider, but only for a moment. Instead, he looks over to Lilly and whispers, "Bubbles?"

Lilly gives a non-committal shrug, "Powerpuff Girls, I think," she whispers in response.

It sounds accurate enough, and would make sense considering this is Misha, after all. Hisao imitates his best fatherly, judgemental tone in asking, "Aren't you too old for Powerpuff Girls?"

"Maybe it's still in my bag," Misha's voice trails off as her footsteps can be heard headed back down the hall to the guest room.

Lilly picks up her cane while Hisao lets out a few stifled laughs, "That wasn't very nice, Hisao."

"Maybe you shouldn't have dropped her toothbrush on the floor," he loses control for a few seconds and lets out some belly-laughs that he hopes Misha can't hear through the walls.

Lilly lets out an exasperated sigh, "You convinced me to trash it, though." She picks up her hairbrush while straightening her blouse before adding, "She'll end up having to borrow one from my uncle, you know."

Hisao rolls his eyes and shrugs, even though he knows she can't see the gesture, "Don't worry, she and Jigoro get along like family," he then playfully adds, "she'll be fine, Lils."

Lilly grimaces, "Okay, now you're just testing me." With surprising accuracy, Lilly pokes Hisao's belly with her extended cane, causing him to reflexively double over and let out a loud cough that stops his laughing, "Are you ready? We have a reunion to attend."

Recalling an English phrase, he stands at attention and mock-salutes as she passes toward the door, "Yeth m'lady, I wath awaiting your returneth-eth-ing... Fo' glowee and 'onner."

Lilly giggles and sighs as she opens the door, "You're still terrible with accents, Hisao."

He bristles and mouths a mock-protest, but doesn't say a word as she exits the room. Standing back to watch her leave with her hair still wet, Hisao gives up the soldier-facade and starts fiddling with his pocket once more. Finding the tiny box still in place, he breathes a sigh of relief and smiles inwardly. Following Lilly out of the bedroom, he thinks to himself, "Today will be a most eventful day, indeed."

Dear God, I think I've gone and adjusted this like 50 times since I posted it...
Last edited by Helbereth on Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:26 pm, edited 49 times in total.

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Yellow 13
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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Part 1.

Post by Yellow 13 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:46 pm

Please continue

also
Of course, he immediately followed that announcement with news that he would be disappointingly absent while he went bear hunting
oh god mah drills
When the war, has been won
And our march home begins
What awaits has not yet been revealed
What was won? what was lost?
Will our deeds be remembered?
Are they written on stone or in sand?

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Helbereth
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Scene 2 - Sleeping Outside The Lines

Post by Helbereth » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:18 am

Scene 2 - Sleeping Outside The Lines

The cool grass feels good against her bare calves as the sun rises between her feet. The sweet smell of flowers carried by the morning breeze catches in her nose and makes her smile peacefully. The sky is clear and cloudless, which is rather disappointing, but a passing plane left a con-trail that caught the orange glow spreading across the sky, and it seems to shimmer. The melodic chirping of birds fills her ears, and she tries to pick up the tune for a few moments before giving up, thinking it best to leave music to the tiny professionals.

Breaking the melodic silence is Emi's voice. "Hey!" she yells, loud like Emi should, her golden pigtails catching the morning breeze, "Did you sleep out here again?"

Rin closes her eyes for a moment, and tries to recapture the symphony, but Emi is Emi, so her follow-up comes quickly. "You're gonna catch a cold doing that, y'know."

Emi's mocking tone forces Rin to give up on the avian symphony - perhaps they'll play an encore later. Without moving, she answers, "I was going to sleep inside, but I thought it might be nicer if I slept here."

Emi pauses for a moment, expecting something further. Rin's face doesn't move, though, except for her cloudy green eyes which seem to stare right through anything caught in their gaze. After a few moments, realizing that was all the explanation she'd likely get from her airy companion, she offers a nervous giggle. "I made breakfast before coming out here to get you," she mentions, aiming a hand loftily toward the sliding rear door, "Join me?"

"I'm pretty sure someone else made breakfast a long time ago, so I don't think you can claim to have made it just this-morning," Rin replies, the faintest hint of a knowing smirk curling her lips, "I'll join you, though. The song was starting to get repetitive, anyway."

Finishing that thought, Rin sits up quickly and pulls her legs underneath her to stand.

Offering a perplexed stare, Emi prompts, "Symphony?"

Deciding it's probably best if she doesn't ask, She quickly shakes her head, but Rin answers anyway, "Yeah I think the timing was a little off through the mid-section, but the flourish made up for it near the end." She pauses to stretch and yawn before continuing, "I'll try to paint the music later. I'm kinda hungry right now, though."

Emi fidgets for a moment, before sputtering, "Er... right," then taking a sharp breath before adding, "No painting until tomorrow, though. The reunion is today, remember?"

Rin frowns for a moment, but quickly grins, "I remember now. I wonder why I didn't remember a second ago..."

"Because, I hadn't-" Emi starts to explain, but gives up mid-sentence and smiles. "C'mon, the food's all laid out inside..."

~^~

Inside, Mrs Ibarazaki is buzzing about the kitchen, checking on the various herbs hanging from the ceiling. Hearing the door open, she asks without looking, "Emi? Is Rin coming-" She stops, seeing the pair walking into the kitchen. Smiling, she greets Emi's friend warmly, "Good morning, Rin."

Rin's deadpan response follows quickly, "that remains to be seen."

The darkly matter-of-fact response, which can easily unsettle most people, merely makes Meiko grin. "I suppose it does. Did you sleep well?" she asks as she goes back to assessing the state of her herb collection.

"I think so. I'm pretty sure I did it right, but I don't get as much practice lately, so I might have messed part of it up."

Meiko smiles at Rin's roundabout answer, "Emi told me you've been skipping meals and sleep lately. Burning the midnight oil, as it were?"

"I don't think I have any midnight oil, and I'm not sure why I'd be lighting fires in an accelerant-filled studio, but you're right about skipping meals and missing sleep." Pausing briefly, she adds, "I wonder, does sleep miss you when you don't meet up?"

Meiko decides to answer by pointing out the breakfast laid out on the table, "well, there's one meal you don't have to skip."

Emi, who has remained silent during this amusing exchange perks up and brushes a hand across Rin's shoulder to lead her to the breakfast table. "I took the liberty of slicing up your pancakes."

"What was liberating about slicing up pancakes?" Rin asks, already walking over to the table.

Ignoring the rhetorical question, Emi shrugs and sits down.

Emi devours the pancakes with gusto, and, without distractions, Rin eats rather quickly as well. Meiko joins them after a few minutes, but mostly pushes the food around her plate absently while reading the local newspaper.

Figuring she'd best say something before Rin wanders away from the table, Emi lets out a chipper laugh and looks up at the ceiling nostalgically, "I wonder what they've been doing all these years."

Following Emi's eyes instead of her tone, Rin looks up at the ceiling and, not seeing anything of particular interest, asks, "Do you have super-human eyesight because you lost your legs?"

Emi, lost in dreamy thoughts, doesn't quite know how to respond and asks for some clarity, "what?"

"I don't see anything that could have been up there for years, so I naturally assumed you were seeing something that I couldn't. I wonder if I have super-powers too..." she trails off, continuing to stare at the ceiling.

Emi laughs outloud, "I was thinking, silly, not seeing. I- we haven't seen a lot of our classmates in years, so I was trying to imagine how they might have changed."

Rin smiles and nods, but her face screws up in confusion a moment later, "Why were you looking at the ceiling then?"

Emi shakes her head and blinks the confusion away, "nevermind. I think I'll drive us today, you're a little more Rin-y than normal."

Rin smiles, taking it as a compliment, "I had been feeling less like myself recently. Maybe I should visit sleep more often."

Meiko chuckles, having stopped reading and begun listening when the two girls started talking, "You're still just as much Rin as when I met you, dear."

Rin smiles triumphantly and quips confidently, "thanks, it's good to know I've still got it."

Emi taps the table with her finger and shoots her mother a bewildered look before turning back to Rin and asking, "Will you be changing clothes before we get on the road?"

Rin looks down at her blue overalls and checks her shirt. There are some paint globs around the cuffs of the overalls, but that's the case with most of her clothes. Her shirt is practically spotless - indicating that it's rather new. She looks back at Emi and shrugs, "these look fine, I think. I thought you were going to drive us today?"

Emi laughs at that question and turns to her mother, "We won't be getting back until after midnight, so don't wait up, okay?"

Meiko nods as she goes back to the paper. Emi gets up and clears the table before stopping by Rin's chair to ask, "shall we?"

Rin stands and follows Emi toward the door, "Thanks for breakfast, Mrs Ibarazaki."

"Anytime, dear." she replies, absently turning the page of the newspaper.

The sun's rays have crested the horizon by the time they exit the Ibarazaki residence. The sky has lost its morning colors and assumed its normal blue appearance, but the flowery smell remains in the air as Emi and Rin get into the tiny blue sedan. As the engine sputters to a start, the radio turns on suddenly, loudly, and a familiar western pop song drowns out the birdsong symphony.

"Oops!" Emi exclaims, reaching for the volume knob, "the last time I drove, it was raining."

Rin doesn't seem to have heard her, instead staring out the open passenger window with a wistful expression on her face. That was the norm for Rin, after all. Reducing the volume of the radio to a more reasonable level, Emi goes about checking the mirrors and adjusting her seat so she can reach the pedals correctly.

A realization hits her that she might want to go inside and grab her running legs, but she decides they probably won't be needed. In a few minutes, they're on the road headed for Yamaku to attend the class reunion.

---

An impromptu traffic jam, the result of an indeterminate source, blocked their path down the highway; Emi sat, fidgeting in the driver's seat, with a forlorn expression as sweat beaded across her forehead. According to Rin, there had been a short misting of rain overnight, but all that really did was cause the humidity to spike in the early morning. As they sat waiting for the cars in front to slowly inch their way down the normally speedy route, Emi regretted not getting that air conditioning problem fixed.

She sighed inwardly and rolled her eyes at having to physically stop herself from punching the horn in exacerbation. Folding her arms across her chest, she looked out her window and groaned. Of all the days to have a traffic jam blocking up the highway, it had to be the day of their class reunion. The Yamaku Festival was probably just getting started around now - the booths around the school grounds getting set up with colorful signs, silly games, inane prizes, and unhealthy food. The classrooms of the school usually each set up one of the booths, and it was fun just to see them in their element - or out of their element - trying to keep up with the waves of visitors.

Although she didn't really care too much about the festival itself. She was going to see her friends - her classmates. People she hadn't had a chance to see or keep in touch with in the five years since their graduation. Rin had really been the only one she saw regularly - practically daily - which was nice. Emi wondered to herself, though, what the rest of them had been doing. Was Miki still running, or had she finally turned her ability to give good advice into some kind of career? Therapist, maybe? Didn't that require years of schooling? It didn't seem likely in that case...

A stray horn broke her out of her thoughts. Apparently another six feet of space had opened up in front of them and the man in the truck behind her was eager to claim the space. Deciding to appease him rather than start a pointless horn war, Emi lets off the brake, allowing her idling car to roll into the new position. Resisting the urge to toss a particularly crude gesture out the window, Emi sinks back into her chair and looks over at Rin.

Her best friend wasn't being particularly helpful in this kind of situation. Emi wondered what kind of gestures Rin could make in traffic, but she suppressed the urge to ask. Choosing to sit and stare out her open window, an absent expression on her face, Rin was still unique. Her ability to wander out of a conversation without leaving the room was still in tact, as was her unquenchable need to interpret the world through paint and canvas. That thought was oddly comforting in that moment. It reassured her to think that her friends probably hadn't changed too much in the past five years - even though she knew that probably wasn't entirey the case.

Still, if someone as aloof and strange as Rin maintained that part of her personality without falter, Emi figured the rest of her friend's quirks were still present. Misha was probably still loud and bubbly, Hanako was probably still quiet and shy, Shizune probably still commanded a room in silence, Lilly was probably still disturbingly proper and kind, and Hisao... Emi pushes the thought aside. Some things didn't change, it seems. Least of all herself.

Apparently by now Rin was looking back at her and saw Emi's face screw up incredulously, "You look like you're reliving breakfast the hard way."

Emi brought a hand to her face in a vain attempt to stifle a laugh, "No!" she exclaims, forcefully. "I was..." her voice trails off.

Rin, who was still usually slow to pick up on social cues, frowned knowingly. It was disturbing sometimes how well Rin seemed to know what she was thinking even without saying anything. Emi figured it was probably a great skill to have being an artist, but right now it was more of an annoyance. Rin pressed on with a questioning furrow of her brow, "you're thinking about H-"

Emi shot her an angry look, daggers in her eyes.

Rin took the glance in stride, knowing this was a sore spot for her legless friend. After a few moments, Emi softened her expression and looked back out the windshield. Rin took this as a chance to continue her thought, "He'll be there, you know. We could probably avoid him if you want, but I don't think you want to do that. I think you want to do the exact opposite of that, really."

Emi kept looking forward, not wanting to see Rin's caring eyes. She was the only one who knew what Emi went through in those last months at Yamaku after Hisao's hospital stay. At the time, it didn't seem like a big deal. He approached her about getting back in shape and she obliged happily - it was the right thing to do. What she didn't expect to happen was that she'd get so attached to those morning runs, but not for the excercise.

Deciding finally, Emi still looked straight ahead, "no, I don't want to avoid him." Her voice cracked a little, and she barely spoke above a whisper, but she was determined to end this conversation abruptly. "He doesn't have to know, either" she said with finality. That said, she turned her gaze back to Rin, who accepted the statement as fact, nodding complicitly.

Another blaring horn behind her turned Emi's attention to another six foot gap between her and the black sedan in front. She let off the brake and her little blue sedan coasted into the spot. This time, though, she didn't suppress the urge to turn that crude gesture at the man in the truck - and he blew his horn again in response.

Rin was already looking back out the window, but the conversation wasn't quite over, apparently, "you should tell Lilly, I think."

Emi's expression changed back to one of incredulous disdain, "What?"

"She should know her man has other potential mates waiting in the wings." Rin smiled and closed her eyes to think, or perhaps to suppress a more sophomoric thought, "I dunno, I just think she should know how you feel even if you can't tell Hisao." Rin continued staring out the window while Emi processed this information.

After a few moments thought, it seemed like it could almost be helpful to both of them, really. At least, it seemed that way. Emi would certainly feel better in the long run, but how would it make Lilly feel? Would she be able to accept that another woman was -is- in love with her partner? Would it make her angry, or resentful, or regretful or-

"Why would telling Lilly help her?" Emi asked, wondering if her friend had already thought of the reason.

Rin didn't look back at her, but she smiled and shook her head. Silence filled the air, and the heat of the day made the time pass slower than it would normally. Finally, she shrugged her waif-like shoulders and spoke, "Maybe it'd light a fire under her to propose. Then again, it might just make her mad."

Rin, apparently, didn't really have an answer. Emi was left to mull it over as they slowly creeped along a two-line highway slower than a turtle. The heat of the day slowly filled the car, but that hardly mattered. A whole slew of possibilities swimming in her head, Emi leaned back in her chair and gazed toward the clear blue sky trying to imagine the consequences of telling one of her best friends something so terrible.

She would never intentionally hurt a friend, but keeping the secret was tearing her apart. Wouldn't that count for something? Especially with Lilly, who always seemed to empathize with people around her, even though she couldn't see their tired, happy, sad or angry expressions. Lilly would want her to get this out in the open so she could move on, wouldn't she? It might hurt her a little to know, but wouldn't that small amount of hurt be worth lifting a weight off one of her friends? Emi thought so.

Although, she also thought she might be trying to delude herself. Lilly had really only befriended her because she was Hisao's running partner, hadn't she? Emi felt very small in that moment; small and despicable. She had been -was- in love with Hisao. It was something she carried for five years in silence because the consequences of saying anything - especially the likelihood of being rejected - were too awful and terrible to bear. She had only told Rin because she needed someone else to shoulder some of the guilt.

That thought makes her sad - she hated herself for laying something like that on her best friend. But, what if Rin is right and there's some unselfish reason she should tell Lilly about her feelings for Hisao? Would she ever get another chance to say anything? Will it change how Lilly and Hisao feel about each other if she did? Would they end up hating her for the honesty?

Would it ruin their relationship?

That was the farthest thing from what she wanted. Lilly and Hisao were a near-perfect pair, weren't they? Emi believed that five years ago, and it was part of the reason she bottled up her feelings in the first place. If telling Lilly about her love for Hisao somehow resulted in the crumbling of their relationship, Emi couldn't live with herself.

As the traffic started to slowly move forward more regularly, they got closer to the cause. Apparently a truck had jack-knifed on the road ahead and it took half an hour just to get a wrecker out to clear one lane. As traffic slowly moved ahead, Emi thought about her predicament. She had been avoiding relationships ever since High School - ever since she locked her heart away for a man she couldn't have. Seeing the road being cleared ahead of them was almost as cathartic as actually letting the secret go. She didn't usually think metaphorically, but the scene before her was obvious. She realized that locking away her heart was like that truck jack-knifed on the highway. Until she owned up to it and asked for someone to help clear away some of the debris, her life would remain in a perpetual stand-still. Telling Lilly, and maybe even Hisao, would finally let her unlock her heart to the future beyond that stagnant stretch of highway. At least, that's what she hoped.

Rin was looking back at her friend and smiling. Emi wasn't sure how long she'd been watching the thoughts race across her face, but she was apparently happy with the result, "Do you want me to go with you when you tell Lilly? I can be like your bouncer or something. She's blind and all, but I hear she's got a temper."

Emi broke out laughing. The thought of her arm-less friend pushing around a blind girl was just too ludicrous to imagine. After contemplating the gesture for a moment, Emi smiled and nodded happily, "It was your idea, remember."

"Was it? The way you were going over it, I was starting to think you were already onto the idea before I said anything." With that, she leaned back in her seat and put her feet up on the dashboard.

Emi smiled and nodded absently, realizing she had considered it before. She'd never been this close to actually doing something about it though, and that made her nervous. As much as she knew finally saying it would help her feel better, she really couldn't predict how Lilly would react.

"Lilly's pretty cool, though. You shouldn't worry too much about what she'll say. It's not like she hasn't considered the possibility-" Rin stops upon seeing Emi's glare return.

"Whaddya mean?" Emi has to keep an eye on the road as traffic slowly crawls forward, but the knives were in her voice.

"I never said anything, if that's what you're implying. I was just thinking that Lilly probably knows other women wanted a shot at Hisao." Rin closes her eyes and continues, "I don't think it'll bother her as much as you think."

Emi considered the thought for a moment before realizing it was probably true, and nodded. Lilly wasn't vindictive or petty, and she had a sense of humor hiding behind all that pretentiousness. It was still going to be an awkward conversation, though.

As if on cue, the truck behind her again started barking its horn at Emi's little blue sedan. Traffic was starting to merge left in front of her, and he was apparently jockeying for position - he also seemed to have a vendetta against peaceful inward thinking.

"You think the guy behind us knows what a middle toe means?" Rin asked, not moving from her reclined position.

Emi laughed heartily at that thought, "No, he probably doesn't." Laughing made her calm down a little, and she decided not to dwell on how her conversation might go until it was actually about to happen. She was never one to over-think things, after all, and doing that now would just ruin the rest of the day.

Soon, the highway opened up before them and Emi began concentrating on driving as fast as possible to extract the stagnant heat from her little car. Next week, she decided, it was time to take it in to get the air conditioning fixed. That is, assuming Lilly doesn't kill her at the Festival. Whatever the consequence, she needed the catharsis, and decided telling Lilly was a good idea even if it didn't change anything. Rin was good at seeing things clearly, usually, and wouldn't have made the suggestion if she hadn't already thought of a million different contingencies - even if she didn't relay all of them.

There was really only one way to find out.
_________________________________________
Act 1 - Reconnecting
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Scene 3 - All Signs Point To Home

Post by Helbereth » Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:12 pm

Scene 3 - All Signs Point to Home

The giant glass windows let in more light than Shizune's tired eyes want to deal with, and the white walls only increase the visual assault. If it weren't for the crowds of people shuffling through the terminal, and a particularly leery-looking old man who's made no effort to be coy with his wandering eyes, she'd close her eyes while the escalator did its work.

Checking her watch, the dainty gold band reflecting more of that morning sun, she's hardly surprised to see she's late. She didn't know exactly what had caused the airline to make them circle the airport four times, but the shaking in the cabin was a reasonable indicator. She doubted, at least, that they would keep a plane in the air that was actively flying itself apart - though the thought crossed her mind. Flying still unnerved her; which she didn't admit to anyone. Instead, she forced herself to do it because it had to be done - unless she wanted to take a boat across the Pacific Ocean.

Using her peripheral vision to keep an eye on the leering old man, Shizune steps off the escalator and starts walking toward the baggage claim. She hasn't brought much for the journey - which would only last a few days - but with her laptop and other assorted devices taking up the majority of her carry-on, she had no choice but to check a bag with the unreliable airport baggage system.

The area around the baggage claim doubles as a small mall with some food shops, small stores selling garish postcards, and other such souvenir nonsense, and a bank. Standing there waiting for a bag to come around the conveyor is a rather boring affair, so she lets herself be distracted by the crowds. Not being able to hear conversations never bothered her since people are usually telling more with their face than their mouth. A few couples are wandering about or reuniting in bliss, and that makes her think of Cameron.

The thought gets dispelled suddenly when a tapping on her shoulder draws her out of the musing. Pivoting and expecting that leery man to be grinning creepily at her, she's surprised to see a somewhat familiar face. He's signing furiously, which makes understanding difficult, even for Shizune.

[Shizune, you look surprised to see me.] Hideaki grins, his shaved head catching the morning light. Beside him is a young woman who reminds Shizune of Emi Ibarazaki with legs and long black hair. Seeing her gaze, Hideaki introduces the young woman, [this is Keiko Tanaka, my better half.]

Shizune narrows her eyes, [Better half? Did you elope?]

Hideaki blushes and laughs as he translates to Keiko. Her face lights up with that same red flush and she takes a timid step back. Realizing why, Shizune quickly smiles and signs, [Your secret's safe with me.] She finishes with a wink to Hideaki.

[I just call her that because it's true.] Hideaki clarifies. [Like you and Cameron, I'd imagine.]

[So Cameron is my better half?] She places her hands on her hips and leans in with mock anger, [What does that make me, then?]

Hideaki laughs as he translates to Keiko again. This girl does seem to laugh quite a bit, but the way she timidly responds to a direct gaze is more reminiscent of Hanako than Emi. Hideaki seems to dote over her, though, and it makes her wonder if this is what it was like for other people to watch she and Cameron early-on. It's rather disconcerting to think back and wonder how it must have looked.

The two of them seem to be in a conversation of their own, so Shizune looks back at the carousel to see if her bag has come around yet. It should be unmistakable, really. A bright yellow bag with pink polka-dots and green handles - a gift Misha gave her when she moved to California to attend UCLA. At the time, the technicolor pattern earned a disapproving glare that Shizune now regrets. It has proven to be rather functional, after all, since it's so easy to find at the baggage claim.

After a few minutes, the bag finally drops down from the conveyor and Shizune is quick to pick it off the carousel. Turning, she sees Hideaki signing, [You still use that awful thing?]

Taking her hand off the bag, she signs back, [Of course. Who would mistake a bag like this for their own?]

[Misha, maybe?] Hideaki grins. Keiko looks bewildered as she missed all of the conversation.

[Has she met Misha?] Shizune asks, [or have you been hiding her?]

[They met last night, along with Hisao, Lilly and Sam...] Hideaki trails off after that last name is mentioned.

[She brought her girlfriend?] Thinking for a moment, she recalls the conversation with Cameron where she convinced him it was more important he stay and attend the classes they would be missing during the short trip. It hadn't been a very productive encounter. Cameron didn't exactly agree that he didn't need to come along, and the conversation ended with slammed doors and a broken picture frame. Shizune frowns and signs,[I haven't had a chance to meet her, you know. Misha's been dodgy about it and won't even send me a picture.]

Hideaki looks down at the floor, trying to shy away. He looks like he just got asked where his friend planted explosives, or something even more dire. Keiko takes a step behind her boyfriend and paws at his shirtsleeve. Their faces are drawn into a look of fear mixed with nervousness and something bordering on conspiracy.

[What's wrong with Sam?] Shizune presses, but Hideaki doesn't answer. This isn't like him. He's always spoke his mind about people - especially his friends - without any regard for consequence. Seeing him clam up over someone he barely knows is unusual to say the least.

Finally he signs a response, [Misha told me she wanted to do the introductions herself, and not to say anything.]

That seems logical enough. It's Misha's friend, so she should be the one to do the introductions, but, [why the mystery?]

Hideaki just grins sheepishly and answers, [you'll see. It's nothing bad,] he looks to Keiko and frowns, [not really, anyway.]

What could be so odd about Sam? Misha avoids showing anyone what she looks like, and, when they're finally introduced, bars people from saying anything about her? Yamaku had every kind of disability and deformity you could imagine wandering it's halls, so it's not like there's much that could be terribly surprising. What, then?

That frustrating thought makes Shizune pinch the bridge of her nose and adjust her glasses as she absently grabs at the handle of her luggage. She waves at Hideaki to start making their way out of the airport, deciding the faster she actually meets this mysterious 'Sam', the faster the headache she can feel building in her temples will go away.

---

The car ride through the city was uneventful. Keiko sat in the back so the two siblings could carry on a conversation in sign without having to use mirrors - which isn't exactly easy. They talked about how they were enrolling at a local University together rather than seeking greater opportunities, and this made Shizune doubt whether Keiko really is Hideaki's 'better half', but she didn't say anything. They also discussed why Cameron had stayed at UCLA while Shizune took the three-day trip to attend the Yamaku Festival for their reunion, but Shizune didn't mention the fight. Why make Hideaki worry about something that was probably insignificant?

As they neared the neighborhood of the Hakamichi residence, the surroundings began to look more familiar. It had been three years since Shizune came here last - choosing to spend her holidays traveling around America. Her last night here was the going-away party Hisao, Lilly and Misha threw. It hadn't really sunk in until they were pulling up the driveway that she hadn't seen any of them in person for three years. They kept in contact through e-mail, texting and Skype calls, but that's very different from actually being in a room with someone you love. Lilly, even.

That last thought makes Shizune smile as the engine stops its vibrating and, as Hideaki opens the door, hot air rushes into the air-conditioned car. For a moment, she thinks he might be getting out so quickly to open his sister's door, but that thought is dispelled by the distinctive vibration from the rear door opening. As Keiko exits the car, Shizune sits in the passenger seat and folds her arms, putting on a frown that could shrivel celery, and staring straight out the windshield.

A few seconds pass.

She begins tapping her finger on her elbow and looks upward, her face etched in stone.

Finally, the door opens and Hideaki leans in with an apologetic face, [Sorry, I thought you-]

Shizune leaps out of the car and practically knocks Hideaki over with a hug so tight she's sure he'll have a hard time breathing. For the few seconds the embrace lasts, all the world is two siblings locked in an embrace of sweet reunion. Three years of homesick nights come flooding through Shizune, her eyes betraying the stony facade, as tears well up and roll across her cheeks. It feels good to finally be able to wrap a hug around her little brother without a crowd of people or an impersonal computer monitor between them.

She steps back and smiles, tears still rolling down her face, [I missed you so much.] Settling on a beaming smile, she signs a question that's bugged her since the baggage claim, [Why'd you shave your head?]

Hideaki looks a little bewildered for a moment, but quickly recovers into a cool smile as he runs his hand over his bald head, [Bunch of us did it for a friend that's in the cancer ward.]

[Oh, I'm sorry.] Shizune frowns, [I didn't know you had a friend with cancer.]

[Just found out. She's still getting used to it herself.]

Shizune almost doesn't want to ask her next question, [How bad is it?]

[The doctors say it'll probably be more damaging to her social life than her body.] He grins and points to his head, [hence the haircut.]

Keiko is motioning toward the front door with an ear-to-ear grin, but she's also wincing. There's only one possible explanation for that kind of reaction. Misha bounds up toward Shizune and, without a word, wraps her in a hug quite like the one she just had with Hideaki. Watching Hideaki's face wince repeatedly as he casually turns to the side - protecting at least one ear - it seems Misha is being her typical loud self.

When she releases the hug, her eyes are streaked with tears and she's still talking, apparently loudly, but at least now she's signing, [Shicchan, you're late! We already finished breakfast waiting for you. Hicchan and Lilly are inside.] She stops bouncing for a second and points at the house and looks back with a look of trepidation, [and Sam. She's really eager to meet you. I told her all about...] she pauses, still uncomfortable with her past, it would seem, [you- us.]

[Still carrying a torch, are you?] Shizune signs with a sarcastic grin.

Misha rolls her eyes and throws her head back with her trademark laugh, [Hicchan said the same thing.]

Not wanting the awkwardness to hang in the air for too much longer, Shizune cocks her head to the side and signs, [Well, do I get to meet her, or are we going to stand around in the driveway all day?]

Looking over at Hideaki, who went to retrieve the bag, Misha beams a smile that reminds Shizune of their first meeting all those years ago, [I thought you hated that thing.]

[It grew on me,] she signs, [I'm sorry I said I didn't like it.]

Misha just nods and turns to head back into the house. Hideaki carries the bag so Shizune's hands are free, which she's quite thankful for. It's going to be a long day and she suspects her hands will be working more furiously than they have in months - but, she's always up to the challenge.
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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Parts 1-3 complete.

Post by Breaker deGodot » Sat Jun 23, 2012 9:07 pm

I'm sorry to see it stop right when I was really getting into it. I really enjoyed Hisao and Lilly's introductory chapter, and I'm curious to see what kind of shenanigans the plot will get into. Like you said, it's just the preliminary stuff at this point. Looking forward to more.
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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Parts 1-3 complete.

Post by Revvy » Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:12 pm

Looking forward to reading more :)
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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Parts 1-3 complete.

Post by Helbereth » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:17 pm

Revvy wrote:Looking forward to reading more :)
I just added a huge section to the second part (Rin and Emi) that I hadn't thought of. I know it's a little odd, but I had to set up some conflict somewhere along the line - conflict I later came up with when I wrote out an outline. I kinda approached this story backwards.

In the future, I won't be haphazardly adding parts, but this one's a bit too important to leave off for something as silly as continuity.

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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Parts 1-3 complete.

Post by Panthour » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:54 pm

Helbereth wrote:
Revvy wrote:Looking forward to reading more :)
I just added a huge section to the second part (Rin and Emi) that I hadn't thought of. I know it's a little odd, but I had to set up some conflict somewhere along the line - conflict I later came up with when I wrote out an outline. I kinda approached this story backwards.

In the future, I won't be haphazardly adding parts, but this one's a bit too important to leave off for something as silly as continuity.
I like the part you've added, it's interesting that there will be conflict, and this won't be another lovey dovey reunion story, which is good :)
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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Parts 1-3 complete.

Post by Helbereth » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:57 pm

Panthour wrote:
Helbereth wrote:
Revvy wrote:Looking forward to reading more :)
I just added a huge section to the second part (Rin and Emi) that I hadn't thought of. I know it's a little odd, but I had to set up some conflict somewhere along the line - conflict I later came up with when I wrote out an outline. I kinda approached this story backwards.

In the future, I won't be haphazardly adding parts, but this one's a bit too important to leave off for something as silly as continuity.
I like the part you've added, it's interesting that there will be conflict, and this won't be another lovey dovey reunion story, which is good :)
What would be the fun in that?

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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Updated 6/27

Post by PGleo86 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:14 pm

Ooo, this is really good... part 4 can't come soon enough!

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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Updated 6/27

Post by Michael Jackson » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:03 pm

Just gonna sit here and wait...
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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). Updated 6/27

Post by griffon8 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:48 pm

All the mystery about Sam makes me think that she's in her thirties.
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

Completed: 100%, including bonus picture. Shizune>Emi>Lilly>Hanako>Rin

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Scene 4 - How My Tea Has Fallen

Post by Helbereth » Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:26 am

Scene 4 - How My Tea Has Fallen

The ever-expanding pile of garments was beginning to look like a technicolor quilt across the guest room bed. Shiina searched through pockets, checked under seams, and was starting to consider tearing back the linings in search of her missing toothbrush. In her head, she knew it was a vain search, but that didn't stop her from turning every bag over and carelessly tossing the contents around the room with reckless abandon.

It was her favorite!

She felt silly as she finished searching through the pockets of a pair of white capri pants she'd brought incase they went to the beach. Silly, and a little depressed. Samantha had given her that toothbrush the first time she stayed at her girlfriend's apartment. It wasn't a piece of jewelry or anything so expensive, but it was cherished none the less. When she was first adjusting to the American school, Shiina had trouble making friends and Samantha's gift was so simple and yet so meaningful.

And it was gone.

Shiina, suddenly becoming Misha again, sat on the bed in a huff with her chin perched on her hands. At least she still had Sam, she sighs inwardly. They'd exchanged plenty of other gifts since that toothbrush, and it was really well beyond the point when it should be replaced. It shouldn't be that difficult to let it go, but letting go had never been one of her specialties. It took her a full year of searching after High School to find a place where she could pursue her dreams - and herself.

Misha -no Shiina- stood up and looked around at the mess she'd made searching for something so frivolous. She'd packed enough for a two-week trip just to go on a three-day excursion, and that's probably why the toothbrush got lost in the mix. Shrugging the consternation away, she started picking up her clothes and folding them up to return to the confines of her luggage. She chuckled a bit as she started folding and flattening her things out, and this drew the attention of someone at her door.

It was Lilly, leaning in and quietly asking, "Shiina?" Misha spun to see the tall, blonde woman standing just outside the open door. Her hair was wet and she looked a little flustered, but her vacant eyes were lifted in a generous smile. Her arms were folded in front of her and it looked like she was holding a hairbrush. She just woke up, Misha gathered.

Misha tossed the clothes she was folding aside and grinned a bit too broadly - not that Lilly would know, "Misha," she corrected, "You're practically family to me, Lilly." Was that really true? Misha heard herself say the words, but wasn't completely convinced. Shizune was certainly like family and Lilly was her cousin - not to mention Hisao's long-time girlfriend. Still, there was an astrangement between the two of them that perhaps stemmed from her time as Shizune's 'voice'. "You can call me Misha like all my friends do."

"Very well, Misha." Lilly gives a slight bow and Misha responds in kind - the proper thing to do. "You mentioned you were missing a toothbrush earlier and I took it upon myself to find you one." She unfolds her arms revealing a long, narrow plastic package in her other hand, holding it out.

"Oh!" Misha exclaims, "You didn't have to do that."

Misha could barely take a step forward before Lilly spoke again, "I need to apologize as well." She shifts uncomfortably as Misha withdraws the package from Lilly's outstretched hand. "I was-" She stops and collects herself, looking as though she's trying to reword her thoughts.

"It's just that I heard how frantically you were searching for that toothbrush," Lilly started tentatively. Heard? Oh, right, Lilly probably heard her flopping her luggage around frantically. She continued, "and I may have had something to do with it going missing." Lilly's face looks like she just told Timmy she had to kill Bambi's Mom.

Confused and curious, Misha cocks her head and smiles, "Hey, it's just a toothbrush."

This makes Lilly relax for a moment as she continues, "I may have accidently dropped it on the floor and thrown it out." She finishes by taking a step beck and folding her hands across her chest as though she were expecting to be slapped.

Misha steps back, her face going from confused shock to unabashed mirth in a split second. "Wahaha~!" Her booming laugh makes Lilly visibly flinch. "You didn't see it, I guess!" She falls back and sits on the bed, her shoulders shuddering with laughter. In that moment, Misha decides Lilly really was like family. If she could get so caught up in something so insignificant, she clearly cared enough to be called family.

Lilly was still somewhere between mortified and confused, but as Misha's laughter echoed through the house she started to smile involuntarily. "You're not mad?"

Misha choked back the laughter and brushed a tear -a joyful tear- out of her eye as she strode over to wrap Lilly in a friendly hug, "Of course not! I forgive you, Lill-chan. It's just an old toothbrush I should have thrown out months ago."

---

Lilly finally smiled happily, feeling the weight lift along with Shiina's mirthful laughter. She hadn't expected such a response, but it hardly surprised her. It was silly, really. Why she had been so conerned over so small a thing made her wonder if she should have stayed in bed. Hearing the honest laughter made Lilly realize this wasn't the Shiina -Misha- that she knew in High School. Back then, her laughter always seemed jilted, ingenuine and even forced. Now, it echoed through the house with abandon and without false pretense.

Lill-chan, though? Lilly decides to let it go for now, but will bring up her distaste for the nickname later - let Misha have her laugh.

Perhaps Misha really had grown up in her time at Boston University. Hisao was tentative about the idea, but he'd spent a lot more time with Misha when she was deep in depression. Lilly had known Misha before she started generating the false personae. The Misha sending shockwaves of laughter through the Hakamishi house now was much more like the one she'd met while on the Student Council long before Hisao came into their lives. Before she apparently confessed to Shizune and was rejected. When she was still genuinely herself.

Deciding the trip down memory lane had been long enough for Misha's laughter to be calmed down, Lilly gave a cheery smile in the direction of the stifled guffaws and spoke, "I've put on some tea and Hisao is making breakfast with Sam if you'd care to join us."

Misha cuts her laughter and the floorboards creak as she strides back across to the other side of the room, "I have to clean up this mess before breakfast or it'll be here when we get home."

"Mess?" Lilly asked, furrowing her brow.

"Don't worry, it's just all the clothes I tossed while looking for my-" Misha stops and gasps. A moment later the bed creaks as though she'd sat down. "Don't worry about it. I'll be through this in ten minutes, tops~!"

Lilly wants to press the question, but Misha sounds like she's hurriedly tossing things into a box - or her luggage perhaps. Luggage was more likely. Had she been tearing apart her luggage over a toothbrush? Perhaps she wasn't quite as grown-up as Lilly thought. "Alright, we'll be waiting for you."

"Oh don't wait for me." Misha calls back as Lilly starts walking back toward the kitchen. "We have a few hours on the road before we even get to the school, so I don't wanna be holding us up another moment. I'll just eat fast~!" Her voice gets further away as Lilly continues down the hall.

Feeling her way along the wall instead of using her cane, she walks from the guest room back toward the parlor. Her uncle, Jigoro, was well-known for leaving sporting equipment lying around in the hallways and she didn't want to risk knocking something else over today, deciding to keep her cane safely retracted and hanging on her shoulder. The air in the parlor is sweet with the smell of toast -or something similar- and blueberries as she makes her way around the plush chairs and toward the archway that opens into the dining room. The clatter of utensils echoes from the kitchen where Sam and Hisao are still working on breakfast.

Hisao wasn't much of a cook, Lilly mused. He knew how to boil water, burn toast and microwave ramen, but when he tried anything more complex the results were often unreliable or unsafe. It perplexed her how a man so adept at scientific formulae could be so baffled by cooking recipies, but it never bothered her. She was a decent cook in her own right. Or, at least Hisao never complained.

Samantha, it seemed, was commanding the kitchen; and if she couldn't put together a decent breakfast having a culinary degree, Lilly would be surprised. Unless Hisao manages to get in her way, that is. Standing back and listening, it seems like Samantha wasn't giving him the chance to get in the way.

---

"Hey, Lils." Hisao looked away from the bowl of batter he was mixing to shoot an approving look at the tall blonde woman.

Her face seemed to go from smiling to shock to anger in just a moment as she responded, "please stop using that until we're at Yamaku. I can stand having my classmates call me that, but not you."

Looking back at Hisao, his face turned from childish to sagely in an instant. His hands also came dangerously close to pulling the bowl off of the countertop. Stepping in quickly, Samantha pushes against the bowl to try and save it from being knocked on the floor. Lilly said he wasn't much of a cook, but she thought anyone could handle mixing pancake batter. He was supposed to be in med school, wasn't he? Studying biological sciences while working on a doctorate of sciences degree - that's what he'd said wasn't it? If so then, "Why are you so bad at cooking?"

Hisao grinned sheepishly and looked a little hurt for a second before offering a simple, "I dunno." His accent reminded her of Jackie Chan.

"Well, it's probably a good thing all your friends are women, then." Samantha joked, looking back at the pan of blueberries she was reducing into a compote.

This drew a laugh from Lilly, the lovely blind woman who stood by the dining table over Sam's shoulder. Misha's friends were kind enough to speak English around her, and it made her feel less like she was at someone's family house in the middle of Japan, but she wished it weren't necessary. Unfortunately, Sam was less than adept with foreign languages.

Misha had tried tutoring her in Japanese, but it was deceptively complex and she usually felt like she was pronouncing things wrong. And who knows what one of these shogun might do if I accidentally insulted one of their ancestors? She pushed that thought aside, clearly realizing it came from a very dark part of her sense of humor - this wasn't even China. Wait, is Shogun Japanese or Chinese? She knew they'd probably just laugh it off and try to correct her, but she didn't want to spend all her time trying to ask someone where the cheese balls are, either.

Misha hadn't come back with Lilly, and was probably still digging for that silly toothbrush, so that left her in the kitchen with two of Misha's friends whom she barely knows. The silence was deafening. Hisao continued gleefully stirring the batter for the pancakes she was about to start cooking. Lilly was setting the dining table for breakfast and preparing tea. At least they weren't just sitting around a breakfast table staring at eachother in total silence - yet.

Five minutes - maybe ten - crawled by as she went about turning the pancake batter into golden-brown and delicious cakes to enjoy with Misha and her friends. Lilly and Hisao looked like they were trying to say something a few times, but they either decided it didn't need to be said or they wanted to wait for Misha to emerge - or they just didn't like Sam.

That's a childish thought, she knows. Real people are much more forgiving than kids, and they didn't even know her, much less have reason to dislike her. They had been probing but courteous when they were introduced last night - as Misha's parents had been, only worse. She could feel their eyes - or Hisao's eyes, at least - scrutinizing every last inch of her. Listening with bated breath as she tried to fumble through the Japanese introduction she memorized, but finally just offering a handshake. They paid attention to every word she said; talking about culinary school, becoming a culinary teacher, and now spending a few years abroad to immerse herself in some culinary culture.

They were protective, she got it. They were friends since High School, she understood. They didn't want to see Misha hurt and wanted to make sure Sam was 'okay' before they would offer any kind of approval. They hadn't said much of anything during the entire two-hour interrogation -introduction- and these two were apparently the ones Misha figured would be most accepting. Shizune was the one to be worried about, Misha had said. If she's worse than these two, Sam almost wanted to call a cab and jump the next flight back to Massachusetts.

As if on cue, Lilly spoke, "That smells wonderful, Samantha. I trust Hisao hasn't gotten in your way." Her English was surprisingly proper - without much trace of an accent at all. Sam could argue Lilly spoke English better than she did.

"Nah, he's been good. I'd have said something if he got in the way." She offered him a kind smile, which he returned from his leaning position against the counter. "I'm used to dealing with irate underlings." Hisao didn't seem to understand the joke, so she gave him a wink. Apparently he was about as good with English as she was with Japanese.

"I really appreciate you doing the cooking this-morning," Lilly continued, "though I feel like I'm being a terrible host making the guest do the cooking."

"Oh, don't worry about it." Sam reached down and turned off the heat under the compote as it was about done. Taking it off the stove to pour into a serving bowl, she looked back to the lovely blind woman, "though I did wanna start doing some more local, traditional stuff, but that can wait until I find a place and get settled."

Lilly offered a gentle laugh, but looked like she was finished being courteous. She went back to preparing the tea and Sam went back to flipping her pancakes. She wasn't sure, just then, if Lilly had left the conversation or if she'd missed some kind of cue to continue talking. She looked at Hisao hoping he could offer some kind of indication, but it seemed like he didn't understand the conversation. Also, why is he fiddling with his pocket? He smirked, shook whatever daydream he was having out if his head, and put out a hand as if offering his assistance.

"Nah, I'll be all set." She took a second and tried to think of the Japanese phrase, but decided to just simplify the English phrasing, "Maybe. Lilly. Needs. Help?" She offered a nod toward the tall woman. He grinned, nodded and started walking, but stopped a second later, offering one last look as if asking, "Are you sure?" To which Sam just laughed and waved him away.

She hoped in that moment that she'd eventually be able to converse in Japanese. Hisao seemed like a nice guy and it was easy to see he and Lilly were made for eachother - they might even have decent advice for her and Misha. That thought sounds silly in her head though, for more than one reason. It also seemed like they were much more approving after a night's rest. Maybe that's what it was last night? They had just gotten off a 12-hour flight, and that Jigoro guy, loud and boisterous as he seemed, was about as much fun as a tax audit. By the time he'd left to go 'bear hunting', they were all exhausted. So, when the conversation finally came to Sam, they were probably half-asleep and stayed up just to be polite.

Where the heck is Misha?

Sam sighed inwardly as she turned over the last of the pancakes. She silently made a note to hold this morning's uncomfortable silences against her absent girlfriend at some point - it was only fair.

I really hope Shizune likes me.
___________________________________
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Last edited by Helbereth on Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:00 am, edited 5 times in total.

Wolfiermz
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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). S4 Updated 6/29

Post by Wolfiermz » Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:33 am

The story and characters are coming along nice, hope you find the time to continue. I still would have liked a Hanako introduction or something in between those lines, her thoughts after Yamaku intrigue me as to whether she's gotten over her shyness and what she's done in those 5 years. But I trust you'll develop that somewhere in the story.

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Helbereth
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Re: KA 5-year reunion (Lilly's path). S4 Updated 6/29

Post by Helbereth » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:13 am

Wolfiermz wrote:The story and characters are coming along nice, hope you find the time to continue. I still would have liked a Hanako introduction or something in between those lines, her thoughts after Yamaku intrigue me as to whether she's gotten over her shyness and what she's done in those 5 years. But I trust you'll develop that somewhere in the story.
Oh, she's coming along soon. Not to give anything away (I don't think it gives anything away since it was just a logical conclusion), but the five of them (Hisao, Lilly, Shizune, Misha and Hanako) agreed to meet at the Hakamichi house before heading to Yamaku - Shizune insisted. She just hasn't arrived quite yet. The way I figured, the five of them would have naturally ended up strongly connected through Lilly's path. Hisao and Lilly would have been close friends with Hanako, obviously, and, through working with the Student Council with Hisao and their family ties to Lilly, Shizune would have remained somewhat close - and you get Misha by default when you befriend Shizune. At least that's how I thought it out in conception. Emi and Rin are associated more peripherally through the bond with Hisao, but Emi stayed out of contact intentionaly for (what should be) obvious reasons.

It all makes sense in my head.

As for having time to continue, all I really have is time these days. The ambition to continue is what i need to not run out of.

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