Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 04/30/16 ~ recommitted to completion.

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Helbereth
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Chapter 43 - Unexpected Layover (part 1)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:37 am

Well, two months is a long time. Certainly long enough for one chapter. Turns out, I wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 words in the process of rebooting this thing twice. Essentially, it came down to figuring out what the point of the chapter was, and I didn't get that cleared up until I'd almost finished it the first time. Tacking on the stuff that it needed would have just made it the longest chapter ever, and I didn't want to make it that complicated. Finally I found that balance, but it required removing huge chunks of the story, as well as an entire character from the chapter.

Anyway, enjoy!

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Chapter 42 – Unexpected Layover

There's a rainstorm outside my window, apparently here to break the heatwave in the middle of the night, but as I stir from sleep it's the buzzing coming from my nightstand that's holding my attention. My eyes snap open and, figuring there's only so many people who would call this late, I lunge faster than I probably should, reaching out to grab for my phone. As I lift it up to find out who's calling, my blurry vision turns the name to gibberish, and I can't seem to find my glasses. Unsure how to greet the mystery caller, I let the phone ring one more time as I scan around the darkened room trying to spot my frames. They seem to have vanished, or I may have worn them to bed and they got lost somewhere in my blankets; either way, after a few seconds, I shrug, close my eyes and press send.

“Um, hello?” I rasp groggily.

“Aiko! I've been trying to call for an hour!” says the familiar male voice on the other end.

“Hisao!?” I blurt, hardly believing my ears, “I'm sorry, I was asleep... it's...” I glance around trying to find my alarm clock, “like... two in the morning?”

I don't remember unplugging it, so where did it go...?

“Is it?” he replies, sounding genuinely confused, “I guess I got carried away...”

“Where've you been?” I ask bluntly, trying not to sound too accusatory, “You haven't called in four days!”

There's a pause, and I start wondering whether it's because he's trying to remember, or just doesn't want to say. After a few long seconds, he sputters, “Uh, it's good news... honest!”

In the background I hear another voice, but it's too distant and muffled to understand. “Who's that?” I inquire, but there's no response. When he still hasn't said anything after a few seconds, I prompt, “Hello?”

Finally I hear scratching noises, followed by a thump, and the other voice, a high-pitched, female voice that sounds entirely too chipper, speaks, “You're the one I have to thank, then?”

Confused, I reply, “Um... thank for what?”

“Getting my Hisao all fit and healthy, of course~!” she beams.

“Your Hisao?” I bark accusingly, sneering as I demand, “Whaddya mean your Hisao?”

“Oh, come now, there's no need for that—you were integral to our reunion, and I'll want to meet you before the wedding!” she claims, and she doesn't sound like she's joking.

Wedding...! Wedding...!?

Effectively turned mute, I stare blankly at the wall, wondering if I'd set it on fire if I actually opened my mouth to say anything. While I sit here in shock, I'm suddenly put on speaker-phone, and I can hear Hisao chuckling as he adds, “See! It's wonderful news!”

“I'm Iwanako, by the way,” the girl remarks, then giggles as she continues, “but, you probably guessed that—my Hisao is somewhat lacking in social graces...”

“You got me!” Hisao says, laughing along with her, “That's why I love you, dear!”

What the hell is going on...?

None of this makes any sense. Hisao sounds like he just stepped through a portal from the fifties, and this Iwanako sounds just like the one I imagined: high-pitched, annoying, and brainless. Regardless of how unreal it seems, my whole body is tensed, and even if it seems ridiculous, I'm worried I would actually breathe fire if I tried to speak. The only explanation is that I'm dreaming, or, more accurately, I'm having a nightmare—this can't be real. It figures that of all the possibilities, my lucid dream ends up being one of nightmarish quality, but I can figure out why later. At the moment, all I want to do is put an end to this farce, but I don't know how to do that.

I shouldn't have stayed up so late...

Dreams are fickle, but it feels like this needs to play out, and I'm curious about the potential fireball. So, with that thought in mind, I hold the phone out in front of me and bark, “What the hell, Hisao!?” No explosive immolation follows, though I'm certain my voice sounds wrong—demonic, almost. “Two measly weeks and you can't keep it in your pants!” I add, my voice getting deeper and starting to resonate off the walls, “And then waking me in the middle of the night to gloat!? You're a snake!”

“I-It wasn't planned,” dream Hisao retorts, his voice seeming to shrink as it cracks and rattles with each syllable. In the background I can hear a terrified screech from nightmare Iwanako, which makes me smile. “The point is we're together now, Iwanako and I,” he continues, gaining confidence with each word, “and I want you to be happy for us... if you can.”

“Happy for you?” I balk, wondering if I can reach through the phone to strangle him, “I'd rather chop off your balls, throw you in a volcano and laugh as you sizzle!”

He manages a contemptible laugh and retorts, “Y-you wouldn't do that,” his voice dropping to a whisper as he adds, “and besides... what did you expect me to do—wait for you to die?”

My subconscious is a real bitch...

Phony as this Hisao might be, his words make me furious, and, not having anything else to do, I throw the phone against the wall. Instead of shattering, it rips a chunk out of the plaster, and the hole immediately grows to engulf the entire wall, revealing a giant, swirling black void. Glancing out my window, it seems that, except for my room, the emptiness has consumed the whole world, and there might be a deeper meaning to that, but for now I'm just angry. Stupid nightmare Hisao decides to call me up, proclaims his love for someone else, blames me for the whole scenario, then I throw my phone and it blows up the world—and I thought my conscious mind was crazy.

Why aren't I awake yet...?

Frustrated, and lacking anything better to do, I start throwing things into the abyss. My stealthy alarm clock goes first—it had fallen behind the nightstand—followed by my laptop and everything else on top of my desk, except Dad's picture. All of it tumbles away and vanishes in little bursts of light. Soon I've thrown all my bedding into nothingness, along with the mattress, my desk, and when I still won't wake up, I start digging into my closet and tossing all my clothes into the black hole—including the nightshirt I'm wearing. It all gets swallowed up whole, disappearing into nothingness like it never existed, or didn't matter, and I'm left sitting stark naked on the floor of my empty room, still stuck in a nightmare.

Maybe I should have yelled at Hisao more...

Time passes, or maybe it doesn't, as I sit naked on a square of carpet surrounded by three empty walls, holding Dad's picture and staring absently into the gluttonous hole I created. The only things I have left to throw in there are the framed picture or myself, and I'm close to deciding that's all there is left to try when my door suddenly opens. As I turn to see who could be entering from the empty void, bright light fills my eyes, and I slam them shut as I turn away and find a pillow against my face. Confused, I let out a slow groan and roll onto my side, squinting against the light as I try to see the blurry figure standing in my doorway.

“Hey! While I was at work all day, you could have at least showered!” the figure scolds, leaning against my door jamb and folding her arms.

I hope I'm not still naked...

For a moment I feel very exposed, but a quick glance tells me that removing my nightshirt was just part of the dream—I seem to have thrown all my blankets on the floor, though. Letting out a sigh of relief, I turn my attention back to the intruder in my doorway, and squint to try and see some details. Wearing a sleek black pantsuit with her hair in a bun, she's unfamiliar initially, but when I realize her hair is actually red and it's not just my bleary eyes playing tricks, her identity becomes apparent. Yoko's motherly tone needs work, and I wonder whether I left my door unlocked or if she made a copy of my key, but at least I know who I have to thank for saving me from the abyss.

“Th-thank you!” I sputter, the effort leading me into a coughing fit.

I know why I thought I'd breathe fire now...

The rain in my dream was wishful thinking, as the weather has remained consistently dry and hot all week. That combined with a steady diet of overly salty foods has left my throat feeling like parchment paper in an oven. As I roll up into a sitting position, still gasping and choking, and start pawing around for my glasses, Yoko walks over to my desk and grabs something from atop my open laptop. Evidently it's my glasses, which she hands to me promptly, and I nod in thanks as I plant them on my nose. While I yawn and glance around in a daze, she looks at the monitor for a few seconds, then shakes her head and turns to me with a judgmentally raised eyebrow.

Closing my laptop and sighing heavily, she remarks, “Rolled right into bed right after saving the world from Hitler, I see?”

“The Allies triumph again!” I rasp, pumping my fist in the air. Blinking as I let my hand drop down to rub my eyes, I ask, “What time is it?”

“Two forty-two,” she replies, “and we have a bus to catch. Are you really up, or am I gonna have to come back?”

“I'll be fine!” I assure her, pointing toward my bedpost, “I laid out some clothes before I passed out—I just need to shower and we'll go...”

“Okay, fine,” she says with a shrug as she heads for my door, “I'm gonna change in the meantime—if I come back in ten minutes and find you-”

“I'll need surgery to get the boot out of my ass!” I interrupt, pointing toward my door, “I just needed a cat nap before we head into consumer hell...”

And my subconscious already punished me for it...

“It's the mall, not a gulag, and Shizune sent a very specific list,” she scolds, that motherly tone starting to sound a little less forced. “We'll be in and out,” she adds, trying to sound sincere, “no funny business.”

“Promise?” I hazard, which will probably force her to lie.

“Malls are fun, I'll show you!” she says, apparently choosing to deflect instead. Exiting into the hall, she adds, “They have an arcade and everything!”

I'd yell at her for using such a childish carrot... but it's working...

When I agreed to the camping trip, it was definitely an impulse decision; I didn't really think about it much, and now I have to prepare, which means visiting the city mall for supplies. The problem is that while I don't exactly hate going to the mall—I love browsing through the latest gadgets and games—it's full of people—strangers—and that still makes me uncomfortable. Yoko doesn't really know that about me, either, which complicates matters, but I don't have time for a nervous breakdown. We leave in less than two days, so, after taking a minute to let the sleepy haze clear, I grab the bundle of clothes, sling a towel over my shoulder, and head for the bathroom.

I think one meltdown is enough for this week...

“Chin up!” Yoko cheers as I stomp past her door.

“Don't think I won't hold this against you!” I threaten, not even slowing my pace.

As I continue walking, she laughs and calls after me, “You'll thank me, Swimderella! Think of me as your fairy Godmother... except I have better taste!”

Fairy Godmother...? What is she planning...?

“Does that mean the bus will turn into a pumpkin if we're not there in time?” I yell back, but I don't think she can hear me over her music—again with the jazz.

What A Wonderful World, indeed...

This mall trip might not be so bad if I were going with my meat shield, but he basically dropped off the face of the planet, so I can't even call him for a morale boost. After the debacle Saturday, I haven't heard anything from Hisao—except in my nightmares—so when I tried to give her an update, Yoko caught me in a lie. She's sympathetic, and agreed to keep his continued disconnect quiet, but now she's determined to help me cope. When Shizune extended her an invitation to the camping trip, she accepted without a second thought, and made it her goal to see that I don't flake on the invite. Honestly, I'm secretly happy Yoko is making such an effort, but part of me just wants to find a dark corner somewhere and sulk.

It occurs to me that I need to stop hiding myself away whenever something bad happens, but I don't know how else to deal with things that are out of my control; I have a long history of stuffing my head in the ground when I feel helpless, and I know it's really not helpful, but I'm not sure how to break that pattern. After I almost drowned, I avoided large bodies of water for over a year. When I had to face my classmates' persistent ridicule, I turned inward, let my education slip, and focused on digital fantasy worlds. While Dad lay dying in a hospice, I sat in the corner of a waiting room, burying my face in my knees, trying to pretend it wasn't happening.

I might be part ostrich... cartoon ostrich, anyway...

If not for Yoko's influence, it's quite possible the only thing getting me out of my room would be food and bathroom trips. However, the part of me that wants to be a good friend, a good girlfriend, and actually deal with Hisao's absence in a healthy way is the side I want to win, though it's difficult keeping my selfish side in check. That side wants to climb out the bathroom window, find a gallon of ice cream, hide out on top of the pool building and ignore the world until everything blows over, or society is destroyed by thermonuclear war—whichever comes first. For now, though, despite my trepidation, the good me is winning, and I show that by taking a shower and getting myself ready for our acquisition expedition.

I heard her call it that... I think she was talking to her dad...

When I step out of the bathroom wearing just the black jeans and a bra with a towel in my hair, my social drill sergeant is standing in the hall waiting for me, glowering dangerously. “You have ten minutes to change, or we'll have to wait an hour for the next bus,” she says hurriedly, tapping her watch the whole time, “move, move, move!”

Walking around her, I remark, “We're running late and you decide to stop me in the hall to tell me things I already know? I think that bun is cutting off circulation to your brain...”

“Just go!” she barks, waving me along, “You've got five minutes to get dressed!”

“You're buying me ice cream!” I yell over my shoulder, which gets me a quick little sneer.

I don't think it's too much to ask...

Less than five minutes later—which I think is pretty fast—I step out of my room with my hands behind my head as I tie my hair into a loose ponytail. Having added a green tank top and white tennis shoes, I think I look okay, though Yoko seems to have taken this a little too seriously. Finding her staring at my door from across the hall, I have my glasses on this time, so I can see the white Capri pants, matching t-strap sandals, and an orange and red floral blouse. With that she's wearing emerald studded earrings and a silver chain necklace, and I suddenly feel under-dressed. As far as I know we're only going to the mall, but she's dressed like we're headed to an upscale party on a rooftop somewhere.
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Chapter 43 - Unexpected Layover (part 2)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:37 am

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Tilting my head slightly, I wonder aloud, “Why are you dressed like Carrie Bradshaw?”

“Because only one of us can dress like Daria,” she jokes, waving me along as she starts walking briskly down the hall. “Got everything—keys, phone, wallet, pills?” she asks rhetorically, not letting me reply before adding, “I hope so, 'cause we don't have time to double back...”

“That's why I carry this thing,” I reply, holding up my satchel. “And stop worrying so much, I'm not that scattered!” I balk, then hold up my bare arms and add, “And Daria wore a coat... I was going for Sonya Blade.”

She turns a sidelong smirk at me and remarks, “But she's blond.”

As we exit into the stairwell, I shrug and counter, “Lara Croft, then—from the movie, not the game.”

“You are such a geek! You've got the chest, though...” she says, laughing as she starts her descent.

“I'm taking those as twin compliments!” I say, laughing along with her.

"You should~!" she retorts.

Smirking, I add, “Also, it takes one to know one...”

My observation doesn't get a response, but I don't need verbal confirmation. Over the past couple weeks, and especially the past few days, I've found that Yoko is quite the geek, and, despite her being a lot more feminine, both in dress and movements, we have a lot in common. We don't like all the same things, of course—I can't believe she likes trashy visual novels, for instance—but her interests intersect with mine on several movie, game and reading preferences. She even admitted to hiding an interest in costume play, which seems perfectly logical considering her talent with fabrics and colors, but she's too embarrassed to turn any of her ideas into reality.

I wonder how we'd look dressed up as DOA girls...

Continuing our geeky banter along the way, we arrive at the stop just as the three o'clock bus pulls into place. As the driver greets us pleasantly, Yoko ensures that I board first—I think she's afraid I'll try to run. Me being my cagey self, I understand her caution, though I figured the rush would be over after sitting down—I was wrong. Drumming the seat between us with her fingers as she glances around nervously, Yoko can't seem to relax, and won't stop talking. She remarks about the weather, complains about her hair being unmanageable, mentions that her bra is trying to pinch her to death, and repeatedly references a Russel Gunn album she's hoping to find.

I don't even know who that is...

As she continues rambling, I'm tempted to just tune her out by staring out the window, but her nervousness is making me curious. Caught up in my own recent troubles, I haven't been paying her demeanor much attention, but she hasn't shown this many nervous ticks since we left her alone with Kenta at the beach house. Also, while she usually dresses nicely, the only time she put this much effort into her appearance recently was for our restaurant date. That, along with her sudden interest in punctuality, makes me think she has something special planned. Unfortunately, even if that's the case, I can't get a word in edgewise, so I'll just have to find out the hard way.

She probably wouldn't tell me anyway...

When we arrive at our stop a few blocks south of the mall, her babbling comes to a sudden halt, and she quietly prods me along toward the door—she may have just been keeping herself distracted. That doesn't exactly put me at ease, nor does it prepare me for the oven waiting outside the bus. Unlike the shady, windswept hilltop where Yamaku Academy stands, the cement, glass and pavement here in the city all reflect sunlight, amplifying the heat, and making an already dry, miserably hot day about twenty times worse. In light of that, Yoko's airy attire starts making more sense, and I'm beginning to regret my ill-conceived decision to wear heavy black denim.

“Remind me again why we're here?” I ask absently, shading my eyes with one hand while fanning my face with the other.

Yoko doesn't reply right away, instead reaching into her tiny white purse for a pair of little round red-tinted sunglasses. After setting them on her nose, she turns to me with a wry smile. “It's not so bad!” she declares, turning to look over my shoulder. “And salvation is near,” she adds, pointing behind me, “look...”

Turning to follow her finger, I find myself looking through a corridor of buildings at the distant hazy skyline. There, almost indistinguishable from the smog, creeps a line of darkened clouds, inching toward us at a snail's pace. Evidently Yoko has a strange sense of what salvation means because that looks like the broiling tip of a typhoon. Considering this recent heatwave, I'm happy to see rain, but there remains a twinge of foreboding due to the weather in my latest nightmare. Some people believe that dreams can predict coming events, but luckily I think that's a bunch of superstitious nonsense. My only concern with a coming rainstorm is that it might strand us at the mall.

That would be a worse nightmare by far... and much more likely...

“I saw the weather report this morning,” Yoko mentions, still squinting toward the clouds, “If what they said is right, that should break the heatwave.”

“A torrential downpour isn't exactly good news,” I remark, sighing inwardly.

“But...?” she prompts.

Hiding my crooked pout, I admit, “We could use the rain...”

“See—optimism!” she exclaims, starting to pull me along down the street, “Now let's get the hell inside somewhere before the brunt of it gets here...”

“By that you mean-”

“We're going to the mall, and you're gonna like it!” she interrupts coolly, not leaving me any room to argue.

“You don't have to drag me along-”

“Not that I don't trust you, but I don't trust you,” she interrupts again.

I imagine she's been talking to Amaya about me...

So, in tandem, and in relative silence, we creep—or I creep while she saunters—our way along the streets through a column of stern-faced men and women in business attire. As bad as I think my day is going, I have to remember that it could be worse; a lot of these people drudge through this heat every day, so maybe I should count myself lucky. Someday I might find myself among them, and I'll look no less gloomy, but today I'm just visiting. Besides, even if everything seems to have gone sideways since Saturday, I doubt that will last forever. It might just be the ozone from the oncoming rainstorm, but there's something in the air that's telling me my luck is about to change for the better.

Unfounded optimism still makes me feel queasy, though...

While Yoko continues her nervous babble, now about her fascination with shoes, I take the opportunity to check for messages. Not that I think I managed to miss a call, but browsing through some previous correspondence might help me feel better about this. Looking at Naoko's last few messages, I feel a twinge of envy; she spent the last few days on a road trip across Southern France, and she's supposed to be heading into Spain tomorrow. It might not be envy exactly since I've never really thought much about travel, but the pictures make it look like a lot of fun, and it's different seeing someone I know in those places—like her being there makes them seem more real.

While she's gallivanting across Western Europe, Kenta has apparently been doing some exploring a bit closer to home. The trip to visit his Grandmother turned into a vehicular excursion across Hokkaido with his parents and two sisters. His messages repeatedly make references to the Vacation movies, though I don't think his big, burly curmudgeon of a father quite fits the description of Clark Griswald. Evidently Kenta failed to explain—probably intentionally—that the two girls are his sisters, and Yoko very nearly blew a gasket when he sent along pictures from their visit to a hot spring. Come to think of it, that might be a contributing factor to her helping me deal with Hisao's disappearance.

I guess we're in similar boats romantically speaking...

“Kenta's a dumbass,” she remarks, apparently noticing my reading material.

“Yeah, but it was funny as hell,” I retort.

Taking a deep breath to try covering her smirk—Kenta's antics are among the reasons she likes him—she changes the subject by asking, “Nothing new from Hisao, I take it?”

“No... still nothing,” I sigh, slipping the phone back into my satchel.

“He'll call,” she assures me, giving me a nudge with her elbow, “Don't worry so much, it'll just make you miserable, which will just cause gray hairs and wrinkles.”

“Yeah... wait, aren't I a little young for-”

“Instead, think about seeing him again,” she interrupts, leaning a little closer to whisper, “Fantasize about crashing into him with a hug, and... whatever else your dirty little mind can think of~!”

I wonder if she knows how deep that rabbit hole goes...

As her suggestion starts generating a few random, explicit, debaucherous thoughts, she stops and grasps my shoulders. Leaning close for a few seconds, she scans my face in detail, but doesn't say anything. Curious about what she's doing, I clear my throat and ask, “Is there something on my face?”

“Quiet, I'm trying to hear your dirty mind at work,” she claims, offering a suspicious squint as she takes a step back and exclaims, “I didn't know you were so kinky!”

Humoring her, I affirm, “It's true,” then look around shiftily and wonder aloud, “What did you hear?”

Squinting tightly, she describes, “Flowing water, heavy breathing and ecstatic cries...”

“That's... a little vague...”

“It's less vague in context,” she retorts.

Rolling my eyes, I counter, “What context?”

Tilting her head incredulously, she replies, “Well, what do you do with Hisao five days a week?”

As my mind wanders to the wrong answer—wishful thinking based on sexual deprivation—I can feel a blush streaking my face. After a few seconds of staring at her dumbly, I remember the right answer and blurt, “Swimming! We go swimming... there's nothing more innocent than that!”

Even I don't believe me...

“There ya go...! I knew you'd remember eventually,” she says with an exasperated eye roll. Ending with a wry grin, she suggests, “Now, combine that with the thought that's making you blush.”

I'm way ahead of her...

Returning a raised eyebrow, I surmise, “You're just trying to put ideas in my head.”

“Is it working?”

Sighing in defeat, I admit, “Yes...”

“Good, that'll help with phase two~!” she says cheerfully.

This being the first time she's mentioned any phases, I'm intrigued and a little frightened. “Phase two?” I prompt, “Does that make this phase one?”

“No, this is just the preamble—phase one starts inside,” she says, nodding as she turns us sharply toward the street. A quick glance tells me we're about to cross our way to the mall entrance, but I'm not giving up on finding out what these phases are yet.

“And these phases...? They're-”

“The fun I have planned~!” she finishes my statement, though not in the way I planned. Before I can think of a retort, she adds , “Anyway, I'm starving. We'll get lunch first—I'm buying.”

Following her across the street somewhat reluctantly, I remark, “So, you're not gonna explain any of this?”

“Nope~!” she chirps, patting my shoulder sympathetically, “That would spoil the surprise~!”

I need to stop thinking of Yoko as being naïve...

Now that we're in the city and about to enter the mall, it's probably too late to question her motives anyway, so I just keep my mouth shut and follow her inside. My few trips here over the years have usually been accompanied by Amaya, at her behest, and often without my expressed consent. That Yoko is taking a page from her book should probably worry me, but I can't honestly say I've had any bad experiences here; I just don't like the crowds. The first thing I notice once we're through the revolving doors is that I'm not sure whether it's more crowded in here or out on that sidewalk. At least the mall is air conditioned, which makes it a little more bearable, but I still feel uncomfortable.

The one thing I've always liked about the mall is its architecture. With wide walkways, multiple escalators, and a skeleton framework of iron trusses visible through glass walls, the whole building looks somewhat futuristic—like an acropolis. An arboretum at the center of the bottom floor, filled with all sorts of plants and trees, adds to my ridiculous fantasy. It would never work in such a small building, and maybe it's not a wholly original thought, but people would never have to travel far if they all lived in a self-sustaining structure—Hisao would be a few minutes walk away, instead of a six-hour train ride. That fantasy gets shoved aside almost instantly by the sound of shuffling feet, bad pop music and a screaming baby, but a wondrous smile is left behind.

I'd have an apartment on the roof...

Apparently thinking I've already given in to her idea of fun, Yoko remarks, “See, you're already smiling!”

Wiping the smirk away, I retort, “Caution; my facial expressions may contain sarcasm.”

After a long sigh and an exaggerated eye roll, she turns a sly smile at me, which might be encouraging if it didn't look conspicuously evil. “We have two objectives,” she says in a saccharine tone, beckoning me to come closer, “One—getting our camping supplies, of course...”

“Right...” I say, starting to walk toward her.

Once I'm close enough, she reaches out, grabs my shoulder and pulls me close to whisper, “Two... You and I have boyfriends to torture.”

Catching on, I remark, “You're still mad about Kenta? They're just his sisters, y'know...”

“Well, it's the implication that's the problem—he stressed me out just for a laugh!” she says, which makes a kind of sense—Kenta could have mentioned that part, but he left it out intentionally.

It probably isn't worth mentioning that she said it was funny and cute once he told her he'd been toying with her, but I'm going to anyway. “Well, he did apologize, and you thought it was cute,” I say, which makes her shrug and shake her head.

“That's not the point! This is principle!” she retorts, pontificating and closing her eyes reverently. “It's my job to keep him in line when he does something stupid... And... It's not like I have anything horrible planned,” she explains, tilting her head slightly and smiling sweetly. Downplaying the severity of her plan is probably supposed to be reassuring, but that sweet smile has evil roots. “Between me, you and the fern,” she adds, nodding toward a nearby potted plant, “I'm letting his stupidity make me brave...”

I almost don't want to ask this question...

“Brave enough for what?”

She shakes her head slightly and the evil grin returns, then she ducks down to whisper, “I'll tell you later—suffice to say I need your help with something.” Grasping my hand, she starts walking away, dragging me along as she cheerily adds, “C'mon! Have I let you down yet?”

There's always a first time...
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Chapter 43 - Unexpected Layover (part 3)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:38 am

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Setting aside my pessimism, I find myself being dragged through the mall—Yoko would call it being led, I'm sure—past a number of curious onlookers. We really are a mismatched pair, I realize, and that she's almost forcing me to follow along might look suspicious, but she doesn't seem to care—at least that's what her constant giggling suggests. Despite my apprehension, the giggling ends up being infectious, and our trek across the food court becomes a different kind of spectacle. My laughter is a bit more reserved, mostly because I don't really know why we're laughing, but that probably doesn't matter—I'd rather be giggling like an idiot than feel miserable.

Having spent most of my childhood being the classroom punchline, I'm wary of being lured into things, but that's just paranoia. She seems confident that whatever plan is bubbling around in her cotton candy brain will be fun for us both, and, like she said, she hasn't let me down yet. Besides, I like the idea of subjecting Hisao to some measure of torture upon our reunion, and I'm always up for messing with Kenta, so this might actually be fun. The only thought that keeps me from letting go completely is that I know she's hiding something. Even taking into account her insistence on having fun in Hisao's absence, and the phases she keeps talking about, there's something else making her nervous.

She leads me to a noodle shop at the far end of the food court, and a few minutes later she guides us to a table near the center of the dining area. According to her, she likes sitting in a place where she can see all around, but I'm keen enough to realize that the spot she picked will also be visible to almost the entire mall—even parts of the upper floors. Once we've sat down, gotten our chopsticks unwrapped and broken, and started digging into our decidedly unhealthy lunch, I make a point of focusing my gaze on her with an accusatory look in my eyes. For a few minutes she seems to ignore it, poking at her noodles and looking around in silence, but my subtlety eventually wins an exasperated sigh.

“Why are you staring at me?” she asks, even though she knows the answer.

“Was I staring?” I counter sarcastically, looking down at my noodles, “Why would I be staring?”

She folds her arms defensively and sits back fast enough to make her metal chair creak. With a sly smirk, she calmly states, “This is phase one.”

Confused, I settle back in my seat with a furrowed brow and pursed lips. When my expression doesn't garner any more details, I calmly ask, “Mind explaining that?”

As though it should be obvious, she stares at me for a few seconds, then looks out toward the passing crowd, and finally shoves her chopsticks into her bowl in frustration. “Fine, I'll explain...”

Her explanation makes little sense, and I'm not convinced she isn't still hiding something, but apparently this is all about building confidence. The food court is heavily trafficked by teenagers our age, and there's a veritable cornucopia of boys of all shapes, sizes and ages circling the area casting furtive glances in our direction. Even though I'm not fond of being ogled, part of me does enjoy the attention, which I think might be the point. It's something she learned from her grandmother, of all people, and she refuses to tell me what the following phases entail, but she promises it's all leading somewhere. Hopefully that happens before I get too uncomfortable.

I wish I'd worn a shirt with sleeves...

As she maintains her reticence, sitting back with her arms crossed, refusing to answer any questions about the rest of the day, I sit forward with my chin in my hand, trying to discern something from her haughty smile. Usually I'm pretty good at reading expressions, but Yoko has apparently been covering her manipulative streak with shyness, so I'm not well versed in her actual tells. Shrugging in defeat, I wonder aloud, “So we just sit here and look pretty for a while?”

“Just look at all the flotsam,” she says absently, scanning the area behind me with just her eyes, “most of them are too scared to look for even a second, never mind walk over here to say anything...”

I don't think she heard me...

“Earth to Yoko!” I say as loudly as I dare. When she finally sets a questioning glare on me, I ask, “What's the point of this?”

“Just eat your noodles and play your part,” she says dismissively. “Half the guys in this room probably want to find some way into your pants,” she adds, smirking dangerously, “they won't get the chance, of course, but we'll need the confidence boost for phase two.”

Even if it isn't the one I wanted, that's the answer I expected, and I still feel a little exposed doing this, but I guess it is a little empowering catching someone checking me out. The weird thing is that if this idea had come from Amaya, or even Shizune, it wouldn't seem strange at all, but I hardly expect behavior like this from Yoko. She always seemed so shy and timid in class, and that carried over when we'd talk in the common room, on the beach trip, or even when we talked alone in her room. Watching her sitting back in her chair seeming totally unabashed as she scans the crowd with a confident smirk, I wonder whether she was ever really shy. Then again, this phase is intended to build confidence, so it might just be that it's working.

I admit: being an object of attraction is better than being the butt of the joke...

After taking a calming breath, I lean against the table and point my chopsticks at her to ask, “Can you at least hint at what phase two will be?”

“More intimate than phase one, and more entertaining, I assure you,” she explains, her eyes drawn to some distant focus. Wondering what could be distracting her, I start to turn, but she taps the table and warns, “Don't look, just act natural—pretend I said something funny and laugh.”

This can't be good...

Doing as instructed, I force out a giggle, through which I inquire, “What's going on?”

“We might have incoming,” she says, pausing to tilt her head a little for a better look. “Yep, we have a fish headed for the boat,” she adds, giving a slight nod toward something behind me, “Just act cool. I'll deal with him.”

“Wha- wait, you?” I sputter, the realization of what's happening giving me mush mouth.

As I stutter over a few more mumbled words, she just shakes her head and smirks, then starts chuckling. At first I think it's at me, but when she tosses her head back in exaggerated fashion, I realize she's just laughing at nothing—playing her role for whomever is approaching. She settles down after a few seconds and flashes a broad smile at me, which she then turns to aim at our intruder.

Narrowing my eyes at her, I manage to ask, “Why are you smiling?”

“Shh,” she says through her smiling teeth, “You can get the next one! Just be cool!”

I don't like where this is going...

Since this is her plan, I decide to let her handle the fish we apparently lured, unintentionally or not. All I have to do is sit here and act cool, or so she says, which sounds perfectly reasonable, but as I start hearing approaching footsteps it occurs to me that I have no idea what acting cool means; it could mean a lot of different things. The only thing I can think of is to lean back in my chair and try to keep a disinterested smile on my face, so I try that for a few seconds. When Yoko gives me a weird look, I guess I'm doing it wrong, so I quickly go back to leaning forward. That gets me a quizzically raised eyebrow and a confused head shake, so I lean back half way and fold my arms.

Acting cool is hard...!

“Hello, ladies,” a deep, confident male voice greets, and I freeze in place, suddenly overcome with terror.

I hope mall security is watching...!

The really strange part is that Yoko looks completely confident, rather than calmly terrified like myself. As I stare straight ahead with a blank look on my face, fighting the urge to run, Yoko offers our admirer a faint smile and inquires, “Are you lost?”

Quiet chuckling follows for a few moments, then he explains, “Not really, but you seem out of place...”

“Never seen two girls having lunch?” Yoko counters, waving a hand toward me, “My friend and I aren't that strange a sight, are we?”

Who are you, and what did you do with Yoko...?

“No, of course not,” he replies, stepping around to stand behind the chair to my right. As he does so, I quickly blink and attempt a disinterested smile, but since he's looking toward Yoko, I don't think he noticed my awkwardness.

His being distracted allows me a moment to look him over, and my first thought is that he's way too old for either of us. The man's ruddy brown hair has wisps of silver around his temples, and the groomed mustache hovering over his delightedly crooked smile is mostly silver. That, along with the deep crow's-feet around his eyes and the uneven tone of his fair skin, tells me he's around fifty, and that he probably smiles a lot. As I can barely detect any accent in his Japanese, I assume he's frequent visitor if he doesn't live in Japan, but he's obviously foreign—Western European, or maybe American. Seemingly dressed for an important meeting, his brown, three-piece suit looks like it was tailored to fit, and I'd guess it cost more than everything in my wardrobe combined.

I wonder if he owns the mall...

Someone with that much money to spend on clothes seems totally out of place here, and I'm not sure why he's approaching two school-age girls, but I'm starting to feel like I don't want to know. Leaning against the chair, he offers a pleasant nod toward Yoko, then turns to focus his attention on her quiet companion—the one who currently can't speak. It's a little unsettling having a man of his age stare at me like that, and I don't even want to guess what he's thinking, but there's a layer of gentleness to his expression. There's also something oddly familiar about his eyes that I can't quite articulate, but I'm almost certain I recognize that bluish shade of green.

Why isn't anyone talking...?

“Greetings, young Miss,” he says with a cordial nod, “I would be remiss not to mention there's a certain... allure to your appearance.” That's a compliment, I think, and it occurs to me that the cordial thing to do would be to smile, nod, or say something clever, but my mouth is frozen in place along with my neck. As I'm obviously not going to be responding anytime soon, he turns back toward Yoko and adds, “However, one does not see many red-haired vixens in Japan.”

In response, Yoko rolls her eyes and leans back in her chair with a flat smile on her face. “Like I haven't heard that line before,” she says with another more exaggerated eye roll, “You'll have to try harder, old man...”

“Ah, well, that was just my opener,” he says with a bow, setting his black, leather-bound attaché case down beside the chair before adding, “Please, allow me to make another attempt at stealing your heart?”

“By all means, you can try,” Yoko retorts with a disdainful sigh, “But you don't have the key to my heart.”

“Perhaps I'll turn my attentions to your friend, then,” he threatens, but she just scoffs.

Chuckling haughtily, she advises, “Careful, my friend is like a camel when it comes to love—she can go for weeks without a caress... but is never truly sated.”

I'm starting to think this was rehearsed...

It may only have been my imagination, but I think I just saw him wink at her, and she barely reacted, so I'm sure something strange is happening. She sounds too confident, even if I factor in the boost from the supposed phase one charade, and almost sounds cocky. Meanwhile there's admiration in his eyes, but it seems more like pride, rather than desire. All this leads me to conclude that this is part of her plan, and I don't quite know how she got such a well-dressed man involved, but I think I have an idea. Recalling the look of his eyes, I give them another glance, then quickly compare them to hers. The similarity is striking, and I consider just blurting out my suspicions, but I want them to confess.

I might watch too much CSI...

“Okay,” I say, catching their attention, “What's really going on here?”

The man pulls out the chair and sits down slowly, shaking his head as he turns a wry smirk at Yoko. “I think we've been caught, my dear,” he says, looking back toward me with a pleasant smile. “You win the bet, I guess,” he adds, sounding relieved as he fishes a thousand yen note from his coat pocket and holds it out toward Yoko, “Are you going to introduce me, or shall I?”

Taking the note, she snaps it in the air a few times and holds it up to the light for a few seconds to check its quality. Apparently satisfied, she looks toward me, points the note toward him, and quietly announces, “You probably figured it out, and sorry for the little game, but... allow me to introduce Pierre Guidot—my dad.”

I knew it... tricksy Guidot...

As I start nodding, and squinting at her with an appropriate sneer, he holds his hand toward me and adds, “At your service, Young Miss. If you are whom I assume, my daughter's description did not do you justice...”

“Um... thanks?” I reply, reaching out to shake his proffered hand. Instead of shaking it, he grips it lightly in his fingers and bows down to kiss my knuckles gently. A little overwhelmed, I sputter, “Uh, I'm... Aiko Kurai... um... nice to meet you, Mister Guidot.”

He's a charmer, I guess... I hear that's a real problem for him...

“Enchanté, Miss Kurai,” he says, meeting my eyes as he adds, “She tells me little, but any friend of my daughter is a friend of mine.”

His gaze lasts a little longer than seems necessary, but I intend to attribute that to my heterochromia, rather than any other possibility—mostly because I don't need that imagery floating around my mind. After a few seconds, Yoko swats his shoulder and he turns to grin at her.

“You look lovely,” he compliments, tilting his head at her attire, “I see living in the country has done little to dampen your sense of style. Those earrings are new, are they not? Shall I be seeing that on my credit bill?”

“Mom sent them,” she replies, turning aside to model them for a moment, “So, you might... but not from my card.”

He raises an eyebrow and coughs, then looks toward me with a questioningly furrowed brow. Noticing this, Yoko remarks, “It's okay, she knows.”
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Chapter 43 - Unexpected Layover (part 4)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:38 am

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“I had assumed that,” he replies, still looking toward me, “I was just picturing your lovely friend borrowing your new emeralds—a striking match for her eyes... or... eye, rather,” he turns back to her, “don't you think?”

“Dad, stop being yourself for a minute,” she scolds, turning an apologetic smile at me, “He'll hit on anything with a pulse—including my friends, teachers, tutors, dance instructors, dental hygenists, doctors-”

“Alright, alright,” he interrupts, reaching out to grasp her shoulder affectionately, “I'm just captivated easily,” he turns back to me, “not that I don't think highly of-”

She swats his arm and interjects, “Hey, one track mind!”

“Sorry, Jellybean, I didn't want her to think-”

This time she punches his arm and scolds, “First, don't call me Jellybean. Second, she has a very nice boyfriend who thinks she's the only woman on Earth, so don't worry about spiking her confidence.”

There's a compliment hidden in there somewhere, but I'm too busy trying to think of anything else for it to elicit a response. Instead I just stare and nod blankly, totally uncertain of how I'm supposed to react. On one hand, it seems apparent that her dad is attracted to me, and that's both nice and creepy, but I get the impression that doesn't take much effort. My mind can't even process the idea far enough to reach the gross-out level, which I attribute to Yoko's frequent, intuitively timed interruptions. As I'm trying to make sense of their seemingly dysfunctional relationship, she leans over and gives him a sweet little side hug, then sits back and starts shaking her head contemplatively.

“I've missed you, Dad,” Yoko says, turning toward me to add, “I haven't seen him since before school started.”

“Uh huh,” I mumble in response.

“The trappings of the modern world, I guess—I wish I could get that hug every day,” he laments, sighing heavily, “I've missed you, too, Jellybean.”

“Dad! Jellybean? Really...?” she whines, apparently unhappy with the nickname.

I don't think it's any worse than Kitten...

“I thought you loved that nickname,” he rebuts.

Losing the calm in her voice, she retorts, “When I was twelve, maybe! Just call me Yoko, or-”

“I think it's cute,” I interrupt, drawing a seething glare from her.

I can't speak for the last two minutes, and that's what I say...?

“I like this one,” he says, turning to me with a chuckle and an appreciative nod, “she speaks her mind, and damns the consequences—a rare thing.”

Yoko continues her glare for a few moments, but it soon cracks into a sarcastic smile. “I'll deal with her later,” she says, the threat glossed over by an overly sweet tone. Turning back to her father, she remarks, “I was starting to think you wouldn't show up in time.”

“Oh, I got held up at the airport for a while,” he explains, sounding somewhat evasive as he continues, “There was an... issue... with my luggage, and I had to... smooth things over... with the security officer.”

I'm gonna need brain bleach later...

Yoko seems less than ready to believe his explanation, which I understand completely, though I don't think she doubts the part about getting stopped at security. Setting a judgmentally raised eyebrow on him, which is the first expression of hers that I've recognized since his arrival, she tilts her head and stares at him for a few seconds, during which he redoubles his grin. Taking a breath and blowing it out slowly, she asks, “Blond, brunette, or miscellaneous?”

“Platinum,” he states, glancing toward me briefly, then taking a deep, calming breath. “Lovely gray eyes, and one of those... tight bun... things... like yours, but with the sticks... in her hair,” he describes, sounding more confused than embarrassed, “I was drawn to the uniform, I guess... and she liked my mustache,” he chuckles and closes his eyes wistfully, “she said it tickled.”

I... Oh God, eww... Why...?

“Did you get her name, at least?” she asks flatly.

“Uh, um... Hito... Hita... It started with H,” he stutters, looking up at the ceiling in contemplation for a few moments before exclaiming, “Hitomi, I think...! Or was that the stewardess...”

I guess her parents' divorce really was a long time coming...

“A-anyway, there really was a security issue!” he claims, which sounds honest, but I'm watching Yoko for cues about his truthfulness. He watches her, too, and she seems willing to listen, even rolling her hand to indicate that he should continue, so he does. “It seems their machine found something that it thought looked like a detonator,” he claims, turning a smirk at me, “it was my electric shaver.”

Yoko doesn't look entirely convinced, but I think it sounds plausible. Whether she believes him or not, she starts to nod and remarks, “The important thing is you got here.”

“Yes, indeed... Though my time will be less than I expected—my connecting flight got bumped up, so I really only have a half hour at most,” he explains, which makes us both frown reflexively, though probably for different reasons.

I think a half hour sounds like an eternity...

“Well, at least you got to stop by and meet Aiko,” she concedes.

“Indeed, though I wish I hadn't gotten held up at the airport—I always like meeting your friends,” he replies, looking toward me again and adding, “Especially ones with the intelligence to match their youthful figure.”

That's yet another compliment that makes me feel queasy, and Yoko can probably see I'm getting a little pale, but I don't want her to think I'm completely disgusted by her father. “Um, thanks,” I offer, trying to sound pleasant, “I don't know how you could know that, though...”

“My daughter tells me you're a genius with numbers,” he explains, looking toward Yoko to ask, “She's the one who aced the calculus final, right?”

Nodding, she adds, “Does all the accounting for the Student Council, too.”

“Excellent! I worried about Jellyb- er... Yoko's math grades... since she lost access to tutoring,” he explains, which sounds like it makes sense, though Yoko is shaking her head like it's only a half truth.

“I never needed the tutors, Dad,” she claims, sounding particularly annoyed. “You just wanted an excuse to have... y'know what? Never mind!” she barks, her voice jumping up a few octaves, “I have plenty of help from... people... Aiko included, but...” she trails off, looking down at the table with an embarrassed blush, “I'm with... eh... perfectly capable on my... own...”

This sudden change in her demeanor could be from frustration, but I know who helps her the most with her studies, especially lately, and it seems like she's just trying to avoid saying his name. Considering the apparently checkered relationship history of her father, I'd guess his advice would be unwanted at least, and potentially damaging at worst, so I fully understand her trying to keep Kenta out of the conversation—I bet her mom isn't great at it either. As seconds pass and she remains awkwardly silent, I can see hints of suspicion start to appear in his expression. That could potentially turn into awkward questions unless one of us says something, and it's looking like that will have to be me.

“Yoko's better at academics than she lets on,” I say, recalling some of my first impressions. “For instance, I'd go to her for help with English, and I know she's better at science than I am,” I explain, which might be a half truth, but he doesn't need to know that. “She's just not very confident is all—humble, maybe?”

My explanation seems to make sense because he's nodding, but Yoko still isn't agreeing. After a few seconds she realizes what I'm trying to do and mumbles, “Y-yeah, something like that,” looking toward me with an appreciative nod, “I haven't needed much help since moving to Yamaku, I guess... and... what I have needed, I found in abundance, so...”

“Don't look so dejected, Jellybean,” he says reassuringly, the nickname seeming to make her smile this time, “Don't feel bad about rejecting help, or offering it—it seems like you help each other out,” he turns a smile toward me, “and that's great! I'm happy you found friends here—smart ones, even.”

“I had smart friends before,” she protests, which just makes him laugh.

“Of course you did, but you found more! When I met with the headmaster, I was afraid your classmates would be too... um...” he trails off and turns away for a moment, “well, I didn't expect your fellow students to...”

I sometimes forget Yamaku is technically a special school...

“Calm down, Dad,” Yoko says, patting his shoulder soothingly, “You're trying to think too much again.”

He shakes his head for a few moments, then takes a deep breath and replies, “Yes... Anyway, I never really worried about your academic achievements. Merely your social ones...”

There's a sadness in his inflections that makes me wonder what he means exactly. Yoko doesn't talk much about anything other than her dance lessons before the car accident, and the time between then and her arrival at Yamaku is mostly blank. Obviously she has an outgoing side that seems to have gotten repressed during her first few months at Yamaku, but I'm not sure if it's an all-inclusive kind of personality trait, or just one she shows to friends. With me it's some of the former and some of the latter—I can be personable to strangers, but I save my secrets for people I trust. Then again, considering that her dad is something of a womanizer, I wonder if his rather uncontrollable libido became an obstacle for her social life.

I probably shouldn't be speculating like this while they're looking at me...

“What?” I prompt, looking mostly toward Yoko, “Did I miss something?”

“You're right, she does wander a bit,” her father remarks, turning a sideways smirk toward his daughter, “I don't think it's terribly disconcerting, and it's a little strange, but I imagine our behavior warrants some deep thought.”

Noticing my less than amused expression, Yoko whispers jokingly, “Careful, Dad, she can hear you...”

Suddenly feeling like a third wheel, I ask, “Should I go wander around for a few minutes so you two can talk?”

“You said you had something important to show me, Dad,” Yoko mentions, shrugging slightly, “Maybe you'll get around to it if we let her escape for a while?”

“Oh no, please, stay,” her father requests, “I'll have to be leaving soon, anyway,” he reaches down to retrieve that attaché case, “and it's just some paperwork I think you should see...”

The prospect of that seems to turn Yoko's smile upside down, and she looks toward me somewhat pleadingly as he draws out a manila folder. Any thought of actually leaving flies out of my mind, partly because of my own curiosity, but mostly because I think Yoko wants me to stay. The way her father is biting his lip and wincing as he extracts the documents from within makes me think they don't contain good news. That suspicion is confirmed as Yoko picks them out of his hand and starts scanning through the multiple pages. The way her face slowly shifts from relatively cheerful down through melancholy and into anger almost immediately reminds me of Mom whenever she received new information about Dad's dwindling health.

“So it's over, then?” Yoko asks, a slight tremble in her voice.

“Signed and finished as of Friday,” he replies, his expression seemingly less effected, but obviously downcast.

I'm guessing those are divorce papers...

Somehow the bustle of the food court dwindles for a few moments, or it seems to anyway. The tension in the air as we await her response is palpable, and it seems like the whole room is holding its breath. One of the things Yoko said about her parents' divorce was that she wanted it to be over, especially the lawyers, the inquiries, and the waiting, but mostly the guilt. She feels responsible for their divorce, ludicrous as that sounds, because everything started spiraling soon after her car accident—when her dancing aspirations came to a screeching halt. After that, the lessons, coaching and recitals stopped, and her mother suddenly had lots of free time to spend analyzing her marriage—mostly her philandering husband. If she were to ask me, I'd say it just sped up the process, but that probably wouldn't do much to console her guilty conscience.

I don't like considering where that guilt may have led her...

The brief trance is broken as Yoko takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, setting down the papers in the process. After a few moments spent staring at the last page, she shrugs and remarks solemnly, “At least it's over...”

As though someone flipped a switch, the sound of a bustling crowd snaps back into existence, and I can't say I'm feeling any more relaxed, but I feel mobile enough to speak. Not really knowing what else to say, I ask, “You okay?”

For a few seconds I wonder if she even heard me, but then she turns up and smiles slightly. The jovial quality has gone from her expression, and she's still very quiet, but she answers, “Yeah, I guess...”

Her father reaches out and places a hand over hers, but looks no less at a loss for words as he whispers, “I'm sorry, Jellybean... I don't know what else to say...”

She takes another breath, then glances at him and shrugs again, this time holding her shoulders up as she remarks, “I knew it was coming, and I should be happy it's over, but... now it's real, y'know?”

Looking at her squarely, he manages a slight smile as he replies, “Believe me, I had that same thought when we sat down Friday...”

Nodding, she turns back to the papers and relaxes her shoulders, then closes her eyes for a few moments. Seeming to remember something suddenly, she quirks her head at him and asks, “How's Mom?”

Furrowing his brow for just a moment he answers, “Good as always—we left as friends, at least,” then pauses and tilts his head before asking, “Haven't you talked to her?”

She just shakes her head slowly, seeming to lose herself staring at the documents again. A few quiet moments pass before she picks them all up, taps them back into alignment and places them in the folder. “Not since last week sometime,” she says, handing the folder to him and reaching up into a stretch. Resting back in the chair with her hands behind her head, she seems to have relaxed suddenly as she remarks, “She said something about a meeting on Friday, and I guess I know what that was now... But, she's been incommunicado all week.”

I don't usually expect a mood shift like that from anyone but Amaya...
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Chapter 43 - Unexpected Layover (part 5)

Post by Helbereth » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:38 am

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“I imagine she's celebrating in her own way... That's good, I think,” he remarks, shaking his head as he adds, “Don't hold it against her. If she can find it, she deserves far better than me.”

That's a sentiment I can agree with, but seems to bother Yoko. Scrunching up her face in protest, she retorts, “Hey, you're an okay dad, Dad.” Swinging her arms back around to rest against the table, she adds, “But, you really are a terrible husband! And don't gimme that hurt puppy look—it doesn't work anymore.”

“Oh no, it's true. At least the terrible husband part,” he agrees, leaning over in his chair to wrap an arm across her shoulder, “I'm not sure staying together for your benefit counts as good fathering, though—I could have tried harder...”

“I'll get over it... eventually,” she replies, sinking into the hug a little closer, “I think I'm past the angry part, at least. I've got Aiko to thank for that, and... other people...”

“Still afraid to tell me about this boy you're over the moon for?” he asks, almost as an afterthought. Her reaction consists of a shocked gasp and a blank stare, but she can't seem to formulate a response. “It's okay, Jellybean, your mother and I still talk. She told me you said something about a boy in class... oh... at least a month ago, probably more,” he explains, his inside information sounding a lot like Mom's intuition, “I just hope he's nothing like me...”

Even faced with the knowledge that he has apparently heard about Kenta, though not by name, she remains silent. The influx of tension makes me consider saying something reassuring, but I can't do that without revealing more information than Yoko seems willing to part with. To his credit, he doesn't look toward me for answers, and leaves the thought hanging for a while. She seems a little uncomfortable in his embrace, and I don't blame her, even though I think she ought to just tell him. Kenta's a pretty decent guy, and, near as I can tell, he meets the criteria of being nothing like her father; I'd argue that his flawed sense of humor is more endearing than disruptive, and he can't get through two sentences without mentioning her.

But, what do I know, right...?

Eventually he lets her out of the hug and leans back to whisper, “You know my number—any time you feel like elaborating, I'm all ears.”

When she doesn't respond, I take the opportunity to mention, “I'll make sure she does.”

Yoko glares at me for a moment, but her father just laughs and replies, “Thank you. Maybe, if I'm lucky, you can get her to tell me his name...? Or you could just tell me now?”

“Well I could,” I say, grinning wickedly, “but she'd probably kill me. If it helps, he's a good guy.”

Shrugging in defeat, he nods and remarks, “Well, that's a relief. I'd try to press for more, but, unfortunately, my time is short,” he turns to Yoko, “Can I get another hug?”

Sounding less than enthusiastic, she opens her arms and replies, “Yeah, Dad, of course.”

Grinning slyly he turns toward me and asks, “Perhaps from your friend?”

As I stare at him grimly, she swats his shoulder again and chirps, “Nice try~!”

“Ah well,” he concedes, accepting her hug while turning to glance at me through the corner of his eye, “some other time perhaps?”

I have to hand it to him; he's persistent...

“You might get another handshake if you're lucky,” I say, crossing my arms, “don't take it personally, though.”

“I'd be suspicious if you accepted, to be honest,” he says with a laugh, letting her go and turning a wistful smile at me, “Yoko tells me you're quite taken, and I believe it, so please just consider it a test of your fortitude.”

“I can accept that, I guess,” I reply dryly.

Like I'd give up Hisao for... that...

“Chances are he'll screw up a good thing and I can try again,” he says, which I know is a joke, but catches me off guard.

“Dad! Leave. My. Friends... Alone!” Yoko pleads, hopefully distracting him from the lapse in my smiling facade.

“Alright, fine, Scouts Honor,” he replies, holding up his hand in a three-fingered salute. “Well, I must be going,” he says, standing and placing the folder back in his attaché case as he remarks, “Planes rarely wait for their passengers.”

“Call me if you come back the same way—maybe we can get dinner or something?” Yoko suggests, then shrugs and adds, “Unless I'm in Hokkaido by then...”

He smiles evenly and reaches out to brush her cheek with the back of his hand as he replies, “You're so polite, dear. Don't worry, though, I just wanted to make sure you were alright, and making friends.”

Whether she really wanted to invite him back or not, I'm not sure; it doesn't sound like she's just being polite, but I do understand why he might think that's the case. Watching Yoko's reaction more than his, I joke, “You should meet the rest of us sometime. She fell into a whole pack of lying, carousing miscreants.”

“It's true,” she confirms, “every one of them will be in prison within the next five years.”

Not believing us for a second, he laughs and says, “That's good, at least you all have goals!”

After a few moments of laughter, Yoko calms herself enough to say, “Seriously, Dad, I know you think you don't deserve it, but I still think you're cool... you're a philandering louse,” she reaches up to grasp his hand, “but you're also my dad, so I love you anyway.”

I'd like to see that on a dysfunctional Hallmark card...

“Such an excellent liar,” he replies, placing his other hand over hers, “But be careful, I might just drop in next time without a call...”

“I dare you!” she says, narrowing her eyes.

“Love you too, Jellybean,” he retorts, looking down at his watch again.

She frowns slightly at the nickname, but doesn't protest it this time. Instead she pulls him down so she can whisper something in his ear that I'm not supposed to hear. As he backs away, he looks a little confused, and gawks at her for a minute, then shakes his head and smiles. It almost looks like he's blushing, but I'm not sure if it's from embarrassment or anger. Either way, he doesn't have enough time to stand around and debate, so he leans down to kiss her cheek and turns a plaintiff pout in my direction. For a few moments he pauses, like he's trying to think of what to say, then he steps over to stand at my side and bows down close enough to whisper.

“Thank you for being her friend—it means a lot to me,” he says, turning a grin toward his daughter as he very quietly adds, “Let her think I'm asking you out. It'll be our secret.”

His last whisper leaves me with a sneer, which works perfectly regardless of my reasons. Yoko folds her arms and eyes him narrowly as I shake my head, and he backs away, still smiling. “Well, I'll let you get back to your shopping,” he says, nodding toward her, then turning a conspiratorial smirk toward me. “Remember what I said.”

Without another word, he starts walking away, back the way he came, and I'm left staring blankly at a grimacing tigress. For a few seconds she just watches him go and ignores me completely, but, once he disappears from her view, those accusatory eyes turn onto me. “What did he say?” she asks, with no small amount of snarling hiding behind her saccharine tone, “Just now, when he whispered in your ear.”

“Nothing! I swear!” I blurt, my voice squeaking unintentionally.

I'm actually telling her the truth, from a certain point of view...

That isn't obvious to her, of course, but it helps me overcome the fear her icy glare is trying to instill. It seems Yoko is a lot more confident than I had assumed, so having any bit of information over her is very tempting. If it comes down to it I can admit he was just messing with her, but I don't want to give that morsel up without cause.

“Really, he was just thanking me for the company,” I lie, which still isn't far from the truth. Picking up my almost forgotten bowl of noodles, I add, “So, what else do you have planned, besides surprising me with a visit from your... dad?”

I plan to avoid associating adjectives with him for now...

She still looks suspicious, but I think I've earned some amount of trust, so that fades into the background. “Sorry about that part, I didn't want you to go into it having any preconceptions,” she says, taking a deep breath, “Dad is a bit like a whirlwind—in and out, one might-” she stops and slams her eyes closed, “Poor choice of words...”

“Oh, it's probably accurate,” I say with a smile.

Did I just say that...?

“Yeah, probably,” she concedes as an involuntary shudder moves up her spine, “He's a nice enough guy, and very charming... which is half the problem, I think.”

“You think?” I retort in a thickly sarcastic tone.

“Anyway, I wanted you to meet him more than the other way around,” she explains, sounding like she had an agenda in mind. “You've been worried that Hisao is off cheating on you lately, and maybe with good reason,” she remarks, which I can't deny is true, “Dad called and said he'd be swinging through, and I got it lined up with this trip so you could see what a real cheater looks like.”

I haven't even thought to make the comparison...

“That's... manipulative... and a little crazy,” I say, which makes her frown, “but I like manipulative... and crazy...”

Smiling, she nods and asks, “So, are you still worried?”

Am I...?

The short answer is probably still yes, but it's a softer yes than it was a half hour ago. Some of her father's behavior reminded me of Kenta, admittedly, though I know he only makes comments like that sarcastically. It was obvious within a few seconds that her father was attracted to me, despite that being wholly inappropriate and kind of gross—okay, very gross. Granted, he's had a lot of years to perfect his charms, but I haven't seen Hisao so much as look at another woman in my presence. There's a chance that he's just never been caught, but I'm pretty observant, I think. Then again, love is blind, so I could just be missing the signs. That thought leaves me with a perplexed frown, which Yoko apparently notices.

“Hisao is nothing like my dad!” she blurts, slapping the table to punctuate her point, “Even my mom knew Dad was stepping out, almost before they were married! Almost everything he does is some kind of angle, whether he admits it or not. Believe me when I say this: if I thought Hisao were anything like him, I would've said something!”

The level of anger in her voice makes me lean back, but I guess I can understand her frustration—I've probably been difficult to get along with this past week. “Sorry!” I exclaim, holding up a pleading hand, “I'll take your word for it! Jeez...”

“Thank you!” she says with an exasperated sigh, “I happen to be an expert on philanderers!”

“Fine!” I reply, matching her sigh.

Making a show of looking away, she says, “Okay, good!”

“Thanks for the demonstration,” I add, trying not to break out laughing.

“You're welcome,” she replies, looking red-faced and on the verge of giggling herself. Suddenly she halts the breakdown and turns an accusatory glare at me to ask, “What did he say before he left.”

I was gonna hold it for longer, but... what the hell...

“He told me to mess with you and make you think he asked me out,” I confess, shrugging apologetically.

“Well, it worked...” she remarks, trailing off for a moment, “It wouldn't be the first time.”

There's probably a story to that, but I think she's been tortured enough today. Deciding against opening any more wounds, I simply reply, “Sorry...”

Thinking about it rationally, if I look at her father's behavior, exaggerated as it might be, as a template for philanderers everywhere, I can't honestly say I'm worried about Hisao straying. Him calling would do wonders to quiet a lot of my questions, but he hasn't shown an inkling of the impropriety I just witnessed. Even given five hundred miles of space, no phone, and plenty of opportunity, I think the only thing I have to worry about is Hisao's health; that's not particularly comforting on its own, but I feel confident his physical therapy has been effective. If I had a therapist, they'd probably think I'm crazy, but talking to a creepy old man actually helped me feel better about my boyfriend.

I just wish it didn't require wrecking Yoko's day...

Although she's still maintaining a semi-cheerful expression, there's a lot less pep in her smile than there was when she prodded me out of bed. She probably didn't expect her father to drop the divorce bomb on her today, and it obviously took the starch out of her sails. Their divorce is a touchy subject even when she goes into the conversation prepared, and seeing her brought down over something she was trying to do for me, at least in part, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Since Shizune extended her the invite, she's been telling me I should embrace the chance to get away for a while, have fun, do something for myself, and forget about Hisao for a while. That didn't make sense until this moment, looking at her as she sits there trying to look composed while she probably feels like crying.

I need to be her support for a while...

As though she can hear me thinking, she looks up just as I nod toward the exit and ask, “Wanna get out of here?”

“Love to!” she chirps, standing and collecting her purse from the back of the chair. The cheerfulness is still partially a facade, but there's a sly smirk curling her lip as she pushes the chair back in place. “We have shopping to do for the weekend, but... no questions about where we're going first.”

There's still a part of me that's reluctant to go along with her mystery plan, but I feel like I owe her a little leeway—if only for the peace of mind. “Fine,” I sigh, standing and slinging my satchel up over my shoulder, “but I want ice cream when we're done.”

“Sounds good to me,” she agrees, waving for me to follow.

A random thought strikes me as I move to join her, prompting me to mention, “You don't mind if we prevent my mom from ever meeting your dad, do you?”

Apparently understanding, she nods firmly and replies, “I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.”

“No offense,” I add, offering a sympathetic grimace.

“None taken,” she assures me, then tilts her head a bit and inquires, “Why? Is your mom looking?”

I suddenly wish I hadn't mentioned that... stupid brain...

Wishing won't make her give up without an answer, so I shrug and reply, “Kind of, I guess... I don't wanna talk about it...”

“Okay, well,” she says, glancing toward the main concourse, “Shall we go?”

As I walk around to her side, she wraps a friendly arm over my shoulder and giggles lightly. It's a little weird, but I just shrug and accept that her mood might be picking up again—wishful thinking. Actually, it's a little contagious; now that I've gotten some new perspective, I think this weekend might end up being fun instead of a headache. Even if Hisao doesn't find a phone within the next two days and I end up stuck in the Hokkaido woods, I might not turn into a total nervous wreck trying in vain to find a cell signal. The thought that he'll end up eloping with Iwanako hasn't completely left my mind, but, with Yoko's help, I've pushed it onto the back burner. If I can manage to keep it there, maybe I'll be able to enjoy this camping trip, or even the rest of the day at the mall.

I sort of feel like I just jinxed myself...

As we step onto the escalator, Yoko leans a little closer and whispers, “Oh, before I forget: What's your bra size?”

Unsure whether that's what she actually just asked me, I prompt, “What?”

Instead of repeating her question, she reaches into her purse to retrieve her phone. After scanning it over for a few seconds, she smiles, puts it away, and absently remarks, “Never-mind, don't worry about it...”

I'm getting her itineraries in writing from now on...
________________________________________________________________
Previous Chapter|Part 1|Part 2|Part 3|Part 4|Next Chapter

Well, that's done. If any of you feel the need to shower after meeting Yoko's father, I would not hold it against you.

Mustaches can tickle.
Last edited by Helbereth on Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:47 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by OutofBlues » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:59 am

Awww yeah, early morning Aiko update. Chances of getting anything done at work today have dropped to 0.

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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by Blasphemy » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:26 am

Finally a new chapter, was longing for it for weeks.

I'm a bit surprised about Yoko's characterization this chapter. While I understand that she's grown more confident and all thanks to Aiko and co. during the last couple of weeks I didn't expect her to be quite so happy and confident around her father. Mostly because Aiko appeared to be quite depressed beforehand, perhaps even going as far as purposely overdosing? Additionally it seems like the divorce takes a big toll on her, which this chapter validates. So it simply felt a bit off that Yoko would act towards her father the way she did, even though I understand that he's apparently been a good father figure; despite that he also seems to be the one causing the divorce in the first place with his philandery. That Yoko's even capable of talking about that attitude of his so easily, especially when she's still just a 18 (?) years old, seemed weird to me. Then again it's family and matters of love can be especially complicated. Also Yoko oragnized this meeting primarily for AIko's sake I suppose — they really do a lot to help one another huh — and may have been acting tougher.

One aspect I shouldn't forget is that, unless I've forgotten such a passage by now, we still don't know why Yoko is at Yamaku; that condition could be primarily responsible for her prior (or still partially ongoing) depression.

Anyways, that's what I had on my mind reading this, as usual pretty great, chapter. Also yeh, quite the creep her father... *brrr*

One thing further down the line of this story I'm interested in is the Aiko and HIsao talk about Aiko's Huntington's Disease and their future, if that conversation will even come up (I imagine it will). Because unless I'm mistaken I cannot remember you ever pointing out Hisao's life expectancy in more detail or even downright amount of years left to live; that could of course be on purpose. Now Aiko's already conflicted about how their potential future considering her disease, however the situation becomes much more troublesome if Hisao were to tell her that his life expectancy is actually even lower than hers; even if he may be able to prolong his life by having a great physical shape and may just end up being lucky as well. I mean the Huntington's Disease seems to take effect at a more specific age (around 40) while the variance for heart attacks due to Arrhythmia is probably much higher.
That makes a lot of matters even more complicated than they'd already be with "just" AIko's condition. I mean what about getting children, when those would be likely to lose both parents? That's a heavy burden they may not want to put on any potential children of theirs. Or if they'd want them anyways, do they perhaps ask Amaya and Tadao if they'd be willing to take care of the children once HIsao and Aiko aren't capable of doing so anymore or aren't there any longer?

Seems to me that there's really a lot of difficult topics to tackle that have no right or wrong answer and after Aiko's conversation with her mum in the café I'm kinda looking forward to that kind of talk because you did such a good job previously. Of course, at the same time I'd wish these characters wouldn't have to go through shit like that :(

Didn't want to mention any of these thoughts yet, I originally intended to wait until we get closer for that chance of it happening in the first place. But eh, who knows how many more additional months that may take, had to speak my mind.

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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by dewelar » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:30 am

Great work, as always. Yoko might now be my favorite character in this story. Her father is a great character, too. Being half-French myself, he's reminiscent of a few of my own male relatives, in both good and bad ways.

Found one booboo in Part 4 that jarred me a bit:
There's a compliment hidden in there somewhere, but I'm too busy trying to think of anything else for it to illicit a response.
That should be "elicit". Given the subject matter, an understandable mistake ;) .
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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:02 pm

Why aren't I awake yet...?
"Why am I not..."
instead of a six-hour train ride
Six hours would get her almost to Hiroshima...
his expression seemingly less effected, but obviously downcast.
You probably meant "affected"
...
and since noone posted in the meantime, I'll just add my final thoughts here:

Well, it's another great chapter...

...except for the dream sequence in the beginning. For one thing it didn't really feel like a dream (until the part with the hole in the wall).
For another, I don't know why it was even neccessary. You've made Aiko's anxiety obvious enough in the previous chapters, so adding this scene seems to have no purpose. If it was meant to be a red herring to mislead your readers, I doubt very many fell for it.

All that said, I really hope Hisao has a good excuse for not calling for several days...
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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by Blasphemy » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:44 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:All that said, I really hope Hisao has a good excuse for not calling for several days...
Yeah I've also wondered if this isn't getting into the idiot ball trope by now with both Aiko and Hisao continuously failing to make a proper call or getting the message across overall. For now I think it's still alright because their has been such a communication error between the two, that the entire situation seems extremely awkward, causing both parties to be cautious and afraid of messing it up again. We also don't know Hisao's side and I imagine he's got a reason for some of this; I mean he has to, considering his really weird initial call and voice message.
I could also imagine that, given how at least half your cast seems to like friendly surprises so much, Hisao's may reappear sooner than expected, perhaps joining the camping trip. In that case he may not even want to bother much until he can just talk to Aiko face to face.

Well, or Hisao is banging Iwanako so much that he got no time to call!

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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by 13loop » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:01 pm

Welcome back Helbereth :D Thanks to you my 5 minute bathroom break turned into a 30 minute one, but it's all good.

Glad to see Yoko coming out of her shell a lot, albeit a bit surprising. Think a lot of it has to do with her father's visit though. Also, Aiko in a tank top :D No wonder Yoko's dad had no shame, age is but a number after all ;)

Judging from Yoko's description of phase 2, I'm expecting either sultry underwear shopping or public karaoke. Anyways 'twas a good read, looking forward to the next one!

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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by Helbereth » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:18 pm

OutofBlues wrote:Awww yeah, early morning Aiko update. Chances of getting anything done at work today have dropped to 0.
Very sorry for your loss, I'm sure your boss will understand... or he'll fire you. Either way, I already apologized.
Blasphemy wrote:Finally a new chapter, was longing for it for weeks.
You and me both. You have no idea how many times I did a head-desk over the past 8 weeks; there's an N indented in my forehead.
I'm a bit surprised about Yoko's characterization this chapter.
The thing is that I'm not. Up until now, she hasn't been much more than a one-dimensional character--the shy girl in the background that kinda just goes with the flow.
While I understand that she's grown more confident and all thanks to Aiko and co. during the last couple of weeks I didn't expect her to be quite so happy and confident around her father.
...it simply felt a bit off that Yoko would act towards her father the way she did, even though I understand that he's apparently been a good father figure...
She hates that he's a philandering louse of a father, but she accepts that he's her philandering louse of a father.
That Yoko's even capable of talking about that attitude of his so easily, especially when she's still just a 18 (?) years old, seemed weird to me.
It's complicated. Also, yes, Yoko is 18. I forget when her birthday was exactly, but it was before the start of the story.
One aspect I shouldn't forget is that, unless I've forgotten such a passage by now, we still don't know why Yoko is at Yamaku; that condition could be primarily responsible for her prior (or still partially ongoing) depression.
She's there because a car accident ~4 years ago stole the hearing from her right ear--you might recall Kenta commenting that she and Aiko could hear in stereo if they were combined(Aiko lost the hearing in her left ear). That, along with the infrequent migraines that still result from the head trauma she suffered, dashed Yoko's hopes of becoming a professional dancer. That got outlined a long while ago, and gets referenced in this chapter.

What didn't get explained until now is that after the accident, her mother, who had been the one primarily responsible for taking her to dancing lessons, recitals, and competitions, suddenly had a time gap to fill, which resulted in her analyzing her marriage to a marked philanderer. It took three years, but when she filed for divorce, it caused the family to split, and resulted in Yoko being taken out of a local private school, and sent to a boarding school--presumably to keep her from becoming a token in the divorce proceedings. It's somewhat similar to the reason Aiko was sent there, really, except instead of a divorce, she was being protected from her father's dwindling condition.
Also yeh, quite the creep her father... *brrr*
I like to think of him as being a lover of all women, but, yeah... I had an uncle who was known for being... a bit of a tramp. The major problem with Pierre Guidot is that he doesn't quite know the meaning of the word 'boundaries'. He does give out free mustache rides, though.
...Aiko's Huntington's Disease and their future...
That, of course, is obviously going to rear its head eventually--quite soon if you consider how far we are from the beginning--but I'm leaving the details for a face-to-face encounter.
dewelar wrote:Yoko might now be my favorite character in this story.
Now that she's a little more fleshed out, instead of being one-dimensional, I can understand that.
Her father is a great character, too. Being half-French myself, he's reminiscent of a few of my own male relatives, in both good and bad ways.
Yeah, my heritage is mostly French via Canada, and I've found some of my family has some strange ideas about relationships. A particular uncle of mine, who I admit I based Pierre's description on--circa 1988--was known for being a bit of a womanizer. It took a bit of effort making him obviously creepy, but endearing enough for Yoko to still think he's an okay dad--I have some ridiculous tangents in the stuff I removed that just pushed him into Creeper territory.
There's a compliment hidden in there somewhere, but I'm too busy trying to think of anything else for it to illicit a response.
This is a case where I spelled it with an E, but with 2 Ls, and I wasn't paying attention to context when I went back to correct it.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Why aren't I awake yet...?
"Why am I not..."
Gonna pull my dialogue card here. This is a thought bubble, which I've always written as though they were voiced dialogue. You are correct, and that is, grammatically speaking, the proper way to write that statement, but since it's essentially Aiko talking to herself, those rules don't necessarily apply.
instead of a six-hour train ride
Six hours would get her almost to Hiroshima...
Is it ever stated where Hisao is from exactly? I could find no direct reference to either his home city, or the precise location of the fictional Yamaku Academy. Six hours by train sounded like a reasonable period of time, but if you can think of something more accurate, I'd be quite willing to make a change.
...except for the dream sequence in the beginning...
It's a little bit of a red herring, I suppose, but if I'm honest, I never expected anyone to fall for it--that's why Aiko figures it out after just a few quick exchanges. The latter half is the reason for the dream, and I probably could have started out with her finding a big black void in her wall, but I needed her to be aware of the dream for the sequence to work--in this case, the Hisao phone call is really just triggering the lucid part of the dream.
All that said, I really hope Hisao has a good excuse for not calling for several days...
Without giving too much away, I can't say. When the reason becomes apparent, I'm aiming for a forehead-slap moment.
Blasphemy wrote:...idiot ball trope...
I'm aiming for a comedy of errors. That can look like the idiot ball until the end is revealed.
Well, or Hisao is banging Iwanako so much that he got no time to call!
Or she kidnapped him, tied him to a tree and had her way with him until his heart gave out. Perhaps he went boating and fell overboard, got mauled by a tiger shark, and is afraid to call Aiko because the shark only bit off one particular appendage. Maybe his parents sold him to a sweat shop where he's doomed to live out his days stitching women's underwear. Perhaps his friend Ryuji got him to use his knowledge of chemistry to build and operate a meth lab, which summarily exploded during the police raid, severing Hisao's legs, and lining him up to fall for Emi upon his return. Isn't speculation fun?
13loop wrote:Welcome back Helbereth :D Thanks to you my 5 minute bathroom break turned into a 30 minute one, but it's all good.
I'm glad I could fill the slot of your bathroom reader for the day... :shock:
Glad to see Yoko coming out of her shell a lot, albeit a bit surprising. Think a lot of it has to do with her father's visit though.
Putting on a face for daddy? A bit, yeah. Most teens her age try to act older, especially when their parents show up, so she put on her summer best.
Also, Aiko in a tank top :D No wonder Yoko's dad had no shame, age is but a number after all ;)
It's a good thing she never stood up because she's also wearing tight black jeans. :twisted:
Judging from Yoko's description of phase 2, I'm expecting either sultry underwear shopping or public karaoke. Anyways 'twas a good read, looking forward to the next one!
I read 'sultry' as 'slutty'... unless you changed it just before I went to quote your comment. That said, having read karaoke in text, I've never considered it a viable avenue for exploring characters. Aside from making their musical taste and vocal aptitude known, it doesn't help describe them very well, and without hearing the music it's difficult to really bring someone into a musical scene--I tried it a few times, and never liked the results. Also, Keep in mind they're going on a camping trip in the woods of Hokkaido somewhere, and Yoko "read Aiko's mind" early in the story, which implanted an idea.

I might just be messing with you, though...

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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by dewelar » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:49 pm

Helbereth wrote:
dewelar wrote:Her father is a great character, too. Being half-French myself, he's reminiscent of a few of my own male relatives, in both good and bad ways.
Yeah, my heritage is mostly French via Canada, and I've found some of my family has some strange ideas about relationships.
*nods* My father's family is also French-Canadian, actually. They settled in Minnesota four generations back. Definitely a cultural thing.
That said, having read karaoke in text, I've never considered it a viable avenue for exploring characters. Aside from making their musical taste and vocal aptitude known, it doesn't help describe them very well, and without hearing the music it's difficult to really bring someone into a musical scene--I tried it a few times, and never liked the results.
Heh...my own efforts at writing a karaoke scene for Developments probably doubled the time that particular chapter took me to write. I was going for something very specific, and song choice mattered. Finding reliable translations of Japanese songs from 25 years ago was...time-consuming at best, so I wound up going in (extremely) broad strokes. I take solace in the fact that I didn't get any complaints about the scene :) .
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Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:03 am

Is it ever stated where Hisao is from exactly? I could find no direct reference to either his home city, or the precise location of the fictional Yamaku Academy. Six hours by train sounded like a reasonable period of time, but if you can think of something more accurate, I'd be quite willing to make a change.
Well, Yamaku is supposed to be "near Sendai", so if they went to the city to shop that's probably where they are now.
Of Hisao we only know that he lived in "a big city" which is... subjective.
Going north from Sendai by train for six hours would land them sqat in the ocean.
Going south would put them well past Tokyo and even Kyoto and Oosaka. (Though I just noticed that Google Maps seems to give varying time estimates for some routes. Not sure if that is depending on the time of day for the request or the fact that I submitted the request on different computers.
This one gives Sendai-Oosaka as about 5:30 which would be close enough to work.)
Without giving too much away, I can't say. When the reason becomes apparent, I'm aiming for a forehead-slap moment.
My main concern is that I'll probably have to reread the last few chapters by the time you get to the explanation, because I won't remember what exactly happened in the first place.
Knowing you that camping trip will take another three or four of those monster chapters and last well into next year :lol:
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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

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Helbereth
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Location: Massachusetts, USA

Re: Tomorrow's Doom ~ Up: 11/06/13 ~ C.42 - Unexpected Layov

Post by Helbereth » Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:26 am

dewelar wrote:*nods* My father's family is also French-Canadian, actually. They settled in Minnesota four generations back. Definitely a cultural thing.
Mine moved down from the Montreal area sometime before 1930, and settled into Massachusetts.
...karaoke scene for Developments...
The closest I got to that were a few times where Aiko sings, and none of those instances ever felt right.
Mirage_GSM wrote:Well, Yamaku is supposed to be "near Sendai", so if they went to the city to shop that's probably where they are now.
Of Hisao we only know that he lived in "a big city" which is... subjective.
Going north from Sendai by train for six hours would land them sqat in the ocean.
Going south would put them well past Tokyo and even Kyoto and Oosaka. (Though I just noticed that Google Maps seems to give varying time estimates for some routes. Not sure if that is depending on the time of day for the request or the fact that I submitted the request on different computers.
This one gives Sendai-Oosaka as about 5:30 which would be close enough to work.)
So I should perhaps aim at less than six hours? I kind of assume she'd factor in travel to the station, boarding, and time spent squaring away luggage, etc.. Maybe 5 hours would be a safer number, even with all that? I don't have any experience traveling by train, which makes a lot of my assumptions speculative. I'm not even sure on the average travel speed of a Shinkansen. The beach was a six hour bus ride, which I based on a trip I took with my senior class down to New Jersey--which is around 300 miles away, depending on the exact route.

At 8:15am, Aiko leaves Sendai by train, heading south at 150KPH. Meanwhile, at 8:00am, Hisao boards a bus from Tokyo headed north at 90KPH. If they both continue on course, where will the train ultimately crash into the bus, killing everyone involved?
Without giving too much away, I can't say. When the reason becomes apparent, I'm aiming for a forehead-slap moment.
My main concern is that I'll probably have to reread the last few chapters by the time you get to the explanation, because I won't remember what exactly happened in the first place.
Knowing you that camping trip will take another three or four of those monster chapters and last well into next year :lol:
Oh, I don't think it'll take that long. This camping trip is just with four girls--Aiko, Yoko, Shizune, and Misha--whereas the beach ended up having... 10 or 11 people involved. I think the final count was 10... It'll take, at most, two chapters, and there's one more preceding it. With any luck I'll have this done before new years... no promises.

I was going to spoil something here, but decided against it.

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