Akira Pseudo-Route [Complete!]

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Thanatos02
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 1/24]

Post by Thanatos02 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:47 am

I think I went a little overboard with the backstory and exposition, but the plot is moving forward in other aspects so hopefully it won't feel stagnant and boring to anyone. Comments and criticisms are very valuable to me, and as usual I appreciate any input anyone may have.

Act 4 - Part 2: On The Rocks

“Hey, your stuff is dry. Good thing I checked your pockets, otherwise you'd be without your phone and wallet too.” A voice calls from outside the bathroom after a few stark knocks.

Oh.

I almost fell asleep for a second there. It feels like I've been in here for an hour.

The air feels cold and foreign against my skin as I pull myself out of the tub, making my hair stand up on end as chills run up and down my back. Before anything else can be said and done, I grab a towel off of the sink, one which seems to have been waiting for me.

That's six of her towels I've dirtied in one night. I'm gonna have to think of something to make myself less of a nuisance before the night is over and done w-

A few more taps echo throughout the bathroom. “Hey, Hisao, you asleep in there?”

Oh, right, I probably should have said something.

“I'm fine, heh, almost fell asleep in here.” I call back.

I wrap the towel around my waist and step over to the door, positioning myself in such a manner that if the door were to open, she'd only be able to see me from the neck up.

“Have a good bath?” Akira asks with a cheeky smile.

“Maybe.” I reply.

I reach out for the pile of laundry, reveling in the fact that everything is folded in a neat manner, folded with careful attention to detail. On top of that, my phone, belt, and wallet remain unharmed at the tip of the stack.

“Oh, wow, you didn't have to go that far for me.” I remark with a chuckle.

“Force of habit.” She states, glancing away as if she had done something by accident. “Anyway; take your time. No need to rush.”

I give a nod before shutting the door once more.

My mind seems to go blank, for some odd reason. I'm not sure what to think about all of this. There's a strange warmth in my chest, and I don't think it has anything to do with the hot bath I just got out of, or the splendid feeling of freshly-dried clothes against my skin.

Is it satisfaction? That doesn't seem like the proper word for the moment.

Akira opened her door for me in the middle of the night, didn't waver for even a second when I showed up at her doorstep leaving a wet mess in my wake, and then did something as wonderful as drying my clothes for me while I used her bath. Would appreciation be a better way to put it?

It's a nice feeling, at the very least, and it's something I haven't felt in a long, long time. I'd give everything up for it without a second thought.

I finish sliding into my clothes and step out of the bathroom, closing the door behind me. I pass by the kitchen and into the living room, noting that the slew of rainwater left by my trail has been cleaned up, the pile of towels removed, and my socks and shoes placed in the corner in front of a space heater.

The curtains over the massive window overlooking the city have been drawn, the quiet ambiance of rain against glass setting a relaxing mood. Dim light flows over every corner of the living room, projected by a small table lamp, its design thin and sleek like something you'd find in the 'modern' section of a furniture store.

Akira is also in the room, her form laid out on the black leather sofa. The TV is turned on, its screen showcasing the same weather report I was watching a few hours ago. Between her and the television is a glass-top coffee table with nothing more than a remote and what looks like a digital camera lying on top.

“How long was I in there for?” I ask aloud.

“Eh, maybe half an hour? Not too terribly long.” Akira answers, shuffling around in her seat to turn and face me. “Bad news is, you might be here for a while longer since that rain doesn't look like it'll be letting up anytime soon.”

Bad news? Bad news would be finding out that I'm going to have to sleep under a bridge to escape the rain. Staying the night here is good news. The best news ever.

“Better than what the alternative was.” I reply, unable to control the smile forming between my cheeks.

“And what would that have been?” She asks.

“Sleeping in an alleyway. Possibly getting robbed.”

An amused smile spreads across her face. “Like I said, don't be a stranger if you need anything. Doesn't take much for it to get boring here.”

She sits up and scoots over to the other end of the couch, patting the cushion beside her as she leans back and props her legs up on the coffee table.

“What do you mean by that? Seems like you've got everything you need here.” I comment, unable to wait for more than a moment before stepping over and plopping down on the sofa.

“For the most part, yeah. I get along better when there’s other people around, though. Not a lot of fun to be had when most of your friends have gotten busy with other things.” She replies, a hint of longing flashing through her eyes.

“That's just how things get every now and then. I'm sure there's someone who isn't always busy...”

Wait, that's me, isn't it?

“Me and Lyra used to go out practically every night. There was never a shortage of things that girl wanted to do.” She says, a small sigh escaping her lips. “I managed to keep in touch with Sakura and her sister for a while after we graduated from high school, but we've just drifted apart over the years.”

There's something I can find myself relating to. I'm not even out of high school yet and I've experienced the pain of watching everyone I thought I knew just leaving me behind. It's tough to imagine how much of that someone like her had to go through. Drawing them in with a smile and a good sense of humor and only having bitter feelings to remember them by? How terrifying.

“What about Tetsuo? Don't you two get together often?” I ask.

She lets loose a hearty laugh at my question, her voice containing a mixture of regret and amusement.

“We used to do everything together.” She counters, her head tilting back and her eyes meeting the ceiling. “Not anymore, though. Either our breaks and days off don't line up, or he's too tired after work to want to go out, or any one of a hundred excuses.”

Her brow furrows in annoyance as she continues with “and for some reason he doesn't think that's something important. I guess the state of our relationship is only second in importance to whether or not I know my way around the city I lived in for twenty friggin' y-...”

She cuts herself mid-statement and forces a light grin, finishing with “naaaah, no point bitching about that tonight.”

“I guess it didn't go that well, then? Anything you want to talk about?” I state, leaning forward with curiosity.

At least that much hasn't changed since the beginning. If I could listen to her troubles on a park bench despite only knowing her for a week at the time, then there should be no issues now.

“Always eager to help, huh?” She remarks, glancing at me with a smile. “Let's just say our little vacation didn't fix a lot of things.”

Didn't fix a lot of things? It sounded like she was banking a lot on getting the mess between her and Tetsuo cleaned up with their trip.

“Didn't you say you were going to a comedy show in Tokyo? How does that get messed up?”

She shrugs her shoulders before answering with “we did a bit more than that; mostly just got lunch and walked around though. A lot of talking happened, but I don't think there was enough listening to go with it, if you know what I mean.”

So they argued the entire time. Part of me isn't surprised, really.

“At least the weather decided to wait until today to cut loose.” She adds, grabbing a TV remote off the coffee table and starting to flip through channels.

“I wish it could've waited a bit longer. I don't have to work tomorrow.” I return.

“Wouldn't that be nice?” She counters. “How was your first day on the job, by the way?”

“It's a little too early to tell, honestly. It's not boring, but at the same time it wasn't very exciting.”

“Welcome to the working world.” She says with a laugh, reaching over to give me a consolatory pat on the head. “I'm sure Tetsuo and the other guys there will pile more things on you as time goes on.”

“Hopefully that's how it works out, yeah. I don't want them to think I'm lazy” I reply.

“You're not lazy if you get all your duties done. My favorite workers are the ones that finish their work early.” Akira says.

“That's certainly true, yeah. I just feel like I should be doing more. Proving myself, I guess.”

I receive a raised eyebrow as Akira turns and lectures; “everyone wants to prove themselves, Hisao. The best way to do that is to chew through what you're given, not ask for more.”

I suppose she's right. And not just because it's her job to manage worker efficiency, I'm sure.

“Well, it is my only complaint, so it's not so bad. It's a paycheck, And I do get to work first-hand with the people doing what I plan to go to school for. I can hardly complain.” I say.

“That's the spirit!” She replies. “Hey, I'm gonna go get something to drink. You want anything?”

I shake my head and raise one hand in refusal. “Nah, I'm alright.”

She shrugs her shoulders as she stands up and disappears into the kitchen.

On the TV is what appears to be a random game show, lights flashing back and forth as oversized contestants attempt to hop through obstacles that are too small for them. What interests me, however, is not the television but the small silver box on the table.

A digital camera no bigger than my fist. Unable to restrain my curiosity, I pick it up and twirl it around in my fingers.

Is this what she took with her to Scotland? Something like a trip to Tokyo doesn't seem like it'd warrant taking pictures, but she might be the kind of person who gets attached to things like th-

Whoops, I turned it on.

The respectable thing to do here would be to set the camera down and wait for Akira's return to inform her of the mistake I made in the process of observing her possession...

But that would be boring.

The first picture that lights up on the screen appears to be a family photo. Akira and Lilly are both present, as well as two people I don't recognize.

Lilly stands in the middle with her hands folded in front of her. On one side is Akira with her arm around Lilly's shoulder, and on the other is a woman who appears to be about the same height as the older sister. It's safe to assume that it's their mother, as her blonde hair and blue eyes are identical to Lilly's.

If that's the mother, then that means the man standing beside Akira is none other than Mr. Satou, the father – a man of average height and build wearing khakis and a tan suit coat. He sports a ponytail consisting of long, black hair and a pair of spectacles, the likes of which do nothing to obscure the scarlet-red tint of his eyes.

Whereas Lilly, Akira, and their mother seem to be as close as is possible for a family to be, the father stands a short distance away, one hand up on Akira's shoulder and the other resting in his pocket. At the very least he's able to put on a decent smile for the photo.

I almost feel the urge to look around for the button that scrolls to the next photo -- that is until my heart stops for a moment when Akira sneaks up behind me and lays one hand on my shoulder.

“Found my vacation pictures, didya?” She asks, glancing over my shoulder as the camera tumbles into my lap.

My head jerks around to meet her presence, revealing a visage of mixed annoyance. She wears a forced smile underneath a twitching raised eyebrow, arms crossed..

“I-It’s a distinct possibility.” I answer, every muscle in my body tensing up as my heart tries to resume its relatively nominal tempo.

She hops over the back of the sofa and lands beside me, a bottle of water in each hand.

“Just in case you change your mind.” She says as she sets one of them on a coaster on the table. The other is then uncapped and tilted up to her lips.

“Hey, uh, Akira, sorry about…”

“Looking through my camera?” She finishes, cutting me off mid-sentence.

“Yeeeeeah...” I respond, unable to meet her glare.

She stretches out one arm and holds her hand open, prompting me to pick the mystical device up and pass it to her. She sets her water bottle down and begins flipping through its contents with one hand.

“Hah. I was just playing around with you. I don't have anything on here I wouldn't want anyone to see.” She says with a smile, patting me on the shoulder. “No pictures of when I had my hair long or anything like that.”

Go figure she doesn't have any photos of one of the things I'd love to see.

She tilts the camera over to bring it within viewing range. A slideshow of images flashes across the screen, ranging from photos of what appears to be a rather large manor house, Akira standing in front of a red sports car, Lilly and her mother trying on sun hats in a department store, and…

“Oh, looks like Mother snuck one in here.” She remarks in an off-handed manner.

...But she does have a photo of something else I'd love to see.

Black. White. Black and white.

The girl beside me is showcased in the photograph, her body laid out on a blue towel on the beach. Long, smooth legs lead up into hips hugged by a pair of bikini bottoms, two black strings dangling off of either end. From the middle of her slender belly up to her shoulders hangs a white tank top, its cloth rendered sheer thanks to what I assume was a swim in the ocean. Beneath that is the other half of the fabled black-and-white checkered bikini, obscuring her modest chest with enticing effect.

It would seem that Akira is just now finding out about the existence of such a wondrous picture as well, as in the image she seems to be asleep, her eyes shut and a pair of sunglasses resting on her forehead.

“Whatcha staring at, Hisao?” Akira asks with a mischievous grin as she nudges me in the side.

“Nothing. Nothing at all.” I retort as I force myself to glance away, content to have the image already transcribed on my mind.

“Uh huh.” She replies, the tap of a button indicating that my time with that picture is over. I continue to keep my gaze away however, lest she try to play the same prank on me.

“Wow, she really took a lot of beach photos, huh?” Akira remarks.

…Maybe another peep wouldn’t h-

“Made ya look.” She teases, yanking the camera out of my sight.

“Oh come on. You can’t say something like that and expect me not to look.” I counter, crossing my arms in defiance.

“What makes you so interested in my beach photos?” She argues, hiding the camera behind her back and meeting my look with a playful gaze.

“Curiosity.” I assert.

“You know curiosity killed the cat.” She replies, eyes narrowed in faux-suspicion at my comment. “Though I have to admit, Lilly does look pretty gorgeous in a sarong.”

I’m sure she does, but that’s not what I’m concerned about here!

She continues toying with my adolescent desires, playing keep away with the camera until the sound of a lightning strike rips through the calmness of the rain.

As luck would have it, the flash of light that ensues is the last one we see before power drops out, leaving us in partial darkness – the television, the lamp, and everything else that isn’t the object of our attention either cuts off or blacks out.

“Ah. Wouldn’t be the first time.” Are the first words that slip out of Akira’s lips as she looks around, not a hint of surprise on her face.

“I take it this kind of thing happens a lot?”

“Not really ‘a lot,’ but far more often than it should.” She explains as she drops the camera on the cushion and walks over to the window, pulling the curtains apart and allowing a bit of natural light into the room.

I resist the urge to take a consolation glance through the wondrous device beside me, instead standing up and trying to find something to do to help out.

“Nah, don’t worry about it. Should only be a short while before the lights come back on.” She states, the sound of a ‘pomf’ filling the silent air as she sits back down on the sofa.

“I can see how you’d get used to it if it happens every time a storm blows in.” I note.

She gives an idle chuckle before replying with “yeah, the weather has a nasty habit of screwing us over like that. Part of the reason I decided to go and buy my own car.”

Oh, that’s right; she does drive herself, huh? I guess she’s so welcoming since she knows the pain of being stuck without a bus ride.

“Must be nice never having to worry about catching the bus again.” I assert. “I wouldn’t even know where to start with buying a car though, provided I ever even got my license.”

“The bus gets you around well enough, it’s just better to have a car when you have a schedule that doesn’t revolve around half-hour intervals.” She replies.

Despite the lack of power, it isn’t very difficult to make out certain things, such as the bright smile on Akira’s face. Moonlight bleeds in through the open window, working just as well as the lamp Akira previously had turned on.

“True enough, yeah. What drove you to make the shift?” I ask.

She lets out a long sigh, stretching her legs and arms out as if to get more comfortable in her seat. “Lots of things -- my job for instance. I have other uses for it, though. I drove Lilly to and from school before she decided to stay in the dorms there, plus I don’t have to wait for the bus if there’s ever an emergency.”

“Definitely worth it when you’re tired of falling asleep on the bus and subway every morning and evening.” Akira says.

Makes a lot of sense, really. I can see the appeal of driving yourself if only to dodge the crowds you’ll run into in public transportation. I think the school handbook says we’re allowed to stay in the dorm until we graduate, but I can’t blame Lilly for wanting to spend her breaks with Akira.

“I waited until after college to get everything sorted out, though. Being able to study on the subway was what helped me pass my classes.” She adds.

“You can study on the subway? I can't even get myself to focus on the bus or the train.”

It’s just something I can’t manage, mostly because I always get stuck in a standing spot. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve had to take the subway to school though, so it’s not something I’ve had to worry about as of late.

“It's an acquired art,” she responds, “plus it's one of the few things that got me through college. I rarely had time for schoolwork once I got home, between work and Lilly.”

“What do you mean by that?” I ask.

A short huff passes out of her mouth as she shakes her head a few times, eyes downcast as she replies with “it's a long story.”

I think Lilly told me about this before; having to balance home, work, and school all at the same time just for Akira to stay on her own two feet. How did she find herself in such a position, though?

She turns and stares out the window as if trying to to force her mind to think about something else, the bottle of water draining into her mouth as she does so. Upon emptying it, her eyes begin to look around the room, first at the TV, then the camera, then anything else of interest before centering on me, her gaze tinted with thought.

After a short bit of contemplation, she concludes with “welp, may as well get started if I'm gonna be talking about sad stuff all night” before standing up and heading to the kitchen.

Her voice sounded a little bitter – there was this humorous undertone to it, but it's like she was jabbing more at herself than at anything in particular.

All I'm able to offer is a bewildered stare as she stands up and heads back to the kitchen, the sound of cabinets opening and glass clanging against glass following her exit.

However, she's only gone for a few moments before she reappears, two glasses in one hand and a tall, narrow bottle filled with an amber liquid. A black label is affixed to its front with numerous bits of text in english. The language barrier combined with the relative lack of light only allows me to make out a few bits, such as 'aged 21 years' and 'single-malt scotch whiskey.'

“Is that what I think it is?” I remark.

She glances between the bottle and myself before sitting down with a contented smile, placing the three objects of interest on the table. One of the glasses contains a white sphere about the size of a golf ball, radiating cool steam as if it were just taken out of the freezer.

“Depends. What do you think it is?” She counters, a sportive glint in her eye and a more upbeat tone in her voice.

A number of recent events mixed with the fact that I've been in high school for three years work to steer me toward the only logical conclusion.

“It's pretty obvious what it is. I'm more curious as to what the second glass is for.” I answer.

Amber liquid in an ornate bottle with a black label. Anyone with half a brain can figure out what's going even, even if you don't factor in Akira's 'interests.'

“It'd be rude of me to keep it all to myself, don't you think?” She declares.

“Offering alcohol to a minor? I thought you were supposed to be the responsible role model.” I jab, unable to hide my interest.

“Lilly's not here and you're eighteen. Suck it up.” Akira states, a mischievous smile emerging between her cheeks as she reaches for the bottle. “Besides, this has been sitting in the cabinet for a couple of years now.”

I can't say I'm not tempted, considering how much fun I had with her last time alcohol was involved. There's still a bit of doubt in my mind though – I'm not the least bit afraid of breaking the rules every now and then, but the last time I found myself under the influence wasn't an enjoyable experience.

“A couple of years? Never found time to enjoy it yourself?” I ask.

“Huh? Nah, I've just been saving it for...”

Her voice trails off and she seems to glance around with a look of expectation, her expression changing to one of utmost satisfaction as a thunderbolt rumbles overhead and she continues with “a rainy day.”

Content that she’ll get no opposition; she uncaps the bottle and tilts the open end into each of the glasses, filling both about halfway. She then closes the container and grabs both of the glasses, holding the first out to me while keeping the one with the white sphere for herself.

Well, I've got nothing to lose. Wouldn't be the first time I've found myself in the company of aged liquor.

I accept the glass from her hand, letting the two tap together in toast before she tilts hers up to her lips. With nothing else to add, I decide to go along and do the same, letting the fluid slide into my mouth with a bit of caution.

The first thing that bombards my senses is the smell; it's one thing to be strong, but my nose is picking up on multiple things I didn't think were possible to mix together. I can pick out the sweet scent of citrus and something a little more rough like old wood, but the other finer details are lost between my amateur tastes and the sting of the drink.

A burning sensation flares up in my throat as it goes down, but the flavor leaves a strange mixture of gingery spice and wood smoke in my mouth. I wince a little bit at the heat pooling in my belly, but decide that another bit couldn’t hurt.

Akira takes a long sip before bringing her glass back down, a contented sigh escaping from between her lips. “Ahhh~. That’s some amazing stuff.”

I can’t do much to comment on the taste. The only thing I could say is that it’s a bit more palatable than the stuff Kenji and I shared, but that would dredge up some memories of a night that is still very much hazy to me.

At least this time I get a glass to drink it out of. This is a relaxing picnic -- no quilts, no pretzels, no feminist paranoia.

“How you doing over there? Looks like you're taking it pretty well for a first-timer.” Akira states, no doubt taking a bit of amusement in watching my contorted facial expressions.

“Ah, I'm alright. It's a bit better than I was expecting, honestly.” I return, deciding not to mention that it feels like my throat is coated in acid.

“The fact that you can taste it at all means you've got something going. You're gonna be a pro at this some day.” She says with a laugh, taking another long drink out of the glass and emptying it, as if to assert that she’s still very much my superior on the matter.

I don’t want to believe that I’ve got a life of enjoying alcohol ahead of me. I’ve yet to have a taste of the stuff that hasn’t left me reeling or otherwise unsatisfied.

“Anyway, what were we talking about?” She asks whilst refilling her glass.

“You said something about your time in college.” I answer.

“Oh, the long, unnecessarily drawn-out chapter of my life.” She says with a chuckle. “Where should I even start? Hmmm…”

Akira pauses for a few moments, tapping her chin in thought while swirling the glass of scotch in her fingers. “I was nineteen in college – I think that’s a good place to begin. My father was talking about consolidating the family business with a few assets in Scotland, where my mother’s side of the family lived.”

“We discussed it as a family a few times, but that’s it. One day my mother woke me up, asked me to help her and Father pack some things into the back of a taxi, and that was the last I saw of them.” She continues, taking another long drink as her expression begins to turn sour.

“Wait, so, that was really it? Your family had this big, established business in Japan and they decided to just move to Scotland on a whim?” I ask.

“Not really a whim, nah. It was something that was in the works for months, but Lilly and I weren't important enough to find out about it until the last minute, apparently.” She answers.

“That sounds terrible. Why would they wait until the last minute to tell you? Did you at least make a point to stand against it?!” I say, already feeling a bit of anger welling up in my heart.

“Oh, yeah, I tried to fight it. Not like it counted for much though, since my father is just about the most misogynistic piece of crap to...”

She rambles on for a bit in a low voice, sneering as if to spite the memory before catching herself.

“But anyway, it didn’t really sink in for a while. I went to class that day just the same and came back like there was nothing wrong. Father was always out on business and my mother liked to accompany him, so Lilly and I were well-accustomed to living alone at times.”

Her train of thought doesn't break as she reaches for the bottle and refills my now-empty glass. “It hit me like a truck when I finally realized it, though. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Months passed, and they didn’t come back. They were gone.”

A bitter chuckle escapes her lips, “it was a long, drawn-out joke and I was the last person to get the punchline. It took a nineteen year old girl months to realize that her parents had left her behind. Isn’t that hilarious?”

That’s not hilarious. Not even mildly amusing.

“That had to have been one hell of a goodbye to leave you unsure of whether or not they were coming back.” I remark.

She scoffs at my statement. “Oh, yeah, you're telling me. No different from any of the times I helped them get packed for business trips to China or France.”

The motion of her glass tilting up to her lips, depositing a portion of its contents, and then setting back in her lap repeats; like a process mastered over years of practice.

“How did it even get to that? Was there no option to go with them?”

“Nope.” She answers in a stark, matter-of-fact manner. “Father decided that it’d be better for our schooling if we stayed in Japan while he ‘got things set up’ over in Scotland.”

“But… that… that doesn’t make any sense.” I retort. “How does a man just leave his children in another country? I can't wrap my head around such a thing.”

I accept that I had a fortunate upbringing. A roof over my head, an education, and two parents who were ready to give up everything for me at any time. It's easy to take such things for granted, but hearing a story like this really reminds me of that.

“Yep.” She returns. “Expecting a nineteen year-old to be a parent for a twelve year old. Isn’t that the most absurd thing you’ve ever heard?”

It’s easy to see the alcohol beginning to addle her thoughts. Even in the dim light one can notice that her cheeks have become flushed with red, her eyes listless and an exhausted demeanor taking hold of her tone and expression.

“I honestly can’t think of anything to say to that.” I concede.

It's clear to anyone that there's some distance between Mr. Satou and his daughter. You could look at that family picture on her camera and see that plain as day.

“Did he at least help out even while he was gone?” I ask.

“Oh, of course, he sent money to keep us afloat. Got the bills redirected all the way to his shiny new residence over in Scotland.” She responds.

“Well, of course he’d take care of you financially, that’s his obligation. Is that it though? No daily phone calls? No care packages? Nothing at all?” I ask.

“We got calls about as often as a catholic sex-line.” She states, the blunt force of her voice enough to smash a vase. “Mother tried to keep in contact with us at least once a week, but that lasted all of a few months before they got too busy to even bother.”

“We'd get a cheque in the mail each week. That's it.” She states, shaking her head and taking another swig from the glass in her hand. “At the time, it sickened me just to open that envelope each time. He wasn't taking care of us, he was doing it out of obligation."

“Are you sure? Didn’t you say they left you here so that you and Lilly could finish your education? You make it sound like they abandoned you.” I reply.

She shakes her head in denial. “They didn’t abandon us, no. My problem with it is that they didn’t even make an effort to be parents once they were gone. My father didn’t, anyway; I'll bet the only reason we got anything at all was because my mother pestered him to do it.”

I can't say I understand the mindset – then again, there's at least a few thoughts that would enter my head if I came to realize that my parents had moved to a separate country and left me behind for something so mundane.

With nothing of value to add, I decide to take a drink from my own glass. My senses haven't become dulled to the complex mixture of attacks on my taste and smell, but I still find myself drinking it just for the sake of having something to experience.

“Didn't take too long before I decided that I was too big for his money. If he wanted to leave Lilly and I alone on a separate continent, then the least I could do was provide for myself.” Akira continues, turning the half-full glass around in her hands, her ruby-red eyes tracing the small white sphere each time it bobs around.

I can't help but sputter mid-sip, yelling “you just randomly decided something like that?” out of bewilderment.

Rather than answer my question, she points at my glass and returns with “hey, whoa, you need some ice or something? You don't have to force yourself if it's too strong.”

The pain of coughing is amplified by the burning sensation creeping its way around my esophagus, so all I'm able to offer is a haggard “no, I'm alright, it's fine.”

“You sure? Looks like you're having a hell of a time there.” She notes, her face relaxing into a mixture of amusement and worry.

“It- ack- stings a bit, but there's no need for alarm.” I hack out, contorting my vocal cords in discomfort.

“If you insist.” She says with a shrug of her shoulders. “I'm kinda jealous of you, though. It took me a couple of tries just to be able to stomach the stuff, and here you are downing glass after glass like a champ.”

Like a champ, huh? I guess scotch tasting competitions consist of judges coughing and hacking their way through a cavalcade of exotic liquors. Doesn't seem like a profession with a lot of benefits.

“But anyway; no, it wasn't random. It took a bit of thought.” She continues. “Turns out that doing things without a lot of planning seemed to run in the family, though.”

“What did you wind up doing?”

“Well, I made up my balance of stupid teenage mistakes I never had a chance to make in high school.” She says, laying back in her seat and staring up at the ceiling. “Basically my uncle was, at the time, the vice president of resource allocation at a pretty well-to-do corporation. He was a little apprehensive about giving me a chance at first, but I managed to convince him to do so.”

“I was young, stupid, and grew up in a sheltered environment where the concept of a hard day's work had never really made an impression on me. So, with those three things in mind, I decided to take on the hefty task of balancing my new position as assistant to the director of human resources, keeping a passable GPA just to stay in college, and...”

She shakes her head, a deep frown taking hold of her face. “She'd get mad at me for saying this, but Lilly’s the one that suffered the most. If I hadn’t been so stupid and tried to prove myself in that damned feud with my father, then...”

She breaks off into another stream of incoherent ramblings, no doubt influenced and even exacerbated by the amount of alcohol that's drained into her lips mixed with the frustration of having to dredge up past memories.

Interrupting her angry rant is a sudden stop wherein the rest of her glass drains into her mouth, its bottom rattling against the surface of the table as she lets it drop from her hand next to the bottle. Her eyes trace the edges and contours of the whiskey glass, a strange glow in her eyes and against her skin under the luminescence of the moonlight.

I think I’ve managed to gauge my own tolerance levels a little better this time, but I can still feel my head starting to spin. I’m more amazed that Akira hasn’t turned into a slurring, rambling mess at this point considering the fact that she’s gone through a bit more of the stuff than me.

She takes a deep breath to calm herself before continuing with “Lilly was alone. The most I could do for her in all that time was pack her a lunch in the morning and walk her to school every now and then.”

“Can you blame yourself for that? Come on, I'm sure anyone in such an absurd situation would have been pushed to do the same.” I state.

“I can blame myself for it, yeah.” She says in an off-handed manner. “I don't regret going to get that job – it's because I took the plunge there that I am where I am now. But I could have at least done something to be there for Lilly, I could have...”

Her voice trails off as she glances back down into the glass set in front of her, lips pursed together in thought.

I’m not sure if it’s the alcohol going to my head, but I'm unable to hold back any further while she continues to beat herself up like this.

“What could you have done?” Is the first thing to jump out of my mouth. “You had to have the job, and you couldn't blow off school. Could you have taken a shorter shift?”

“Nope, the standard for us was and still is eight hours a day.” She answers, propping her head up in one hand. “I had to block my classes together in the morning just so I'd have time to catch the subway into the city for work. The train ride itself took up an hour on its own since we used to live a while away from here.”

“But that's just the thing, don't you think? You did everything you could to be there for Lilly given the situation. How can you take all the burden for doing what anyone in that situation would have done?” I assert.

It's all a matter of circumstance. There's some things you can't control. One could say that Akira should have just sucked it up and kept taking her father's checques, but what would that have solved?

You have to take Lilly into account as well. I'm not sure if it's because of her time in such a situation, but she is the most independent person I know, far more self-sufficient than most people our age. Can Akira really fault herself if Lilly turned out fine in the end anyway?

“Because the fault lies in my actions.” Akira explains. “You think my father didn't take something like that as a slap to the face? Can you even imagine the extent of the bitching I got when I called him up and told him to stop sending the cheques? When I asked him to stop paying the bills and transfer the title to my name so that the two of us could get this place in the city? I'm the one that triggered it.”

She follows her explanation up with a bitter scoff. “He's threatened to disown me more times than I care to remember.”

“He'd really do something like that? Disown you for choosing to get on your own two feet?” I ask, not even bothering to hide the spite in my voice.

“Yep. He's that kind of man. Never felt a lick of guilt for it either.” She returns. “But why should he? It's justified, if you ask me. I left a blind twelve year-old girl on her own so that I could chisel out a place for myself. If you don't think that's selfish then you might want to get your head checked out.”

“I guess I'll be heading to the psychologist then, because I don't see any fault in what you did. Talk all you want about only looking out for yourself, but the fact that Lilly turned out in such a way is just proof that it's not nearly as bad as you think.”

She stops for a moment to mull over her thoughts, letting loose a long and exasperated sigh in the process.

“Lilly turned out the way she did because of dumb luck.” Akira retorts. “It didn't take her long to figure out how to help herself. She had Niji with her, which is one thing, but it doesn't change the fact that she deserved to have a family behind her.”

“Wait, Niji?” I ask.

“Her seeing-eye dog. Only reason she could even leave the house without me.” She answers with a downcast expression. “He passed away a few years ago though. Such a shame too...”

She stares out the window in a melancholy as if to offer a moment of silence before reining herself back onto the subject.

“You know something, Hisao? You're an amazing listener, but damn you sure hate to talk about yourself.” She comments, leaning over and poking me on the forehead.

Changing the subject, then. I'd love to pull it all back, but at this point I don't think it would lead to anything. I can understand getting sick of the topic as well, since we've been going at this for what feels like an hour now.

Nothing short of getting Lilly's head in this is going to solve anything, I believe. She's the key in all of this. I don’t want to get myself involved in such a way, but there’s nothing else that can be done without her stepping in. I know Akira can’t ‘bother’ her, so I will. I can’t stand to watch her wallowing about in regret like this.

“Talk about myself? I guess I don't, really. Not a whole lot to say if you ask me.” I return. “Unlike you. Seems like you've got a million stories to tell.”

She reaches forward and refills both of the long-since emptied scotch glasses, passing one off to me. Not that I’m suspicious of her motives, but I’ve begun to notice that alcohol is a good way to get people to talk more.

“Nah, that one just takes up a lot of space in my mind. I did say it was a long story, didn't I?” She counters, a bit of her natural energy beginning to resurface. Content that I won't keep pushing into her bad memories, it would seem.

“I've been stuck in one place for so long I may as well go ahead and write an autobiography or something.” Akira adds, a bitter smile emerging on her face.

The first thought to burst into my head is vocalized, “everyone gets stuck from time to time. Just lasts longer for some of us.”

It seems to pique her interest, at which point she relaxes in her seat. “Oh, don't we all know it. What makes you say that?”

“Where do I even begin? I don't have anything nearly as deep and expansive as what you've been through.” I remark, setting my glass down and crossing my arms.

There's the big chunk of the year I spent nestled into a hospital bed, but I think I've already told her about that. I'm not sure if she remembers, but I'd rather skip onto something else regardless.

“Well, hmm... I'm not very good at getting settled into new places. My first week here didn't go well at all. I squandered my opportunities to make friends, blew off all the people that tried to help, and then skipped the school festival to get drunk with a guy on the roof.”

She seems to wince at my explanation, as if the thought of such a thing were painful for her. “Say what you want about my past, that's pretty rough no matter who you are.”

“If you say so, yeah. I can't say it was all bad, though. That night on the roof is the only reason I took this stuff so well.” I state, gesturing to the half-full bottle of scotch on the table and taking a short sip out of the glass in my hand.

“Is that so?” She asks, a short spurt of laughter following her question. “I knew you were taking it a little too well for a first-timer.”

“Yeah, that's my little secret.” I counter, laughing along with her. “I was just out of it. I've been out of it ever since my incident at the beginning of the year. The only reason I've been able to pull myself back is because...”

Because I met you.

Because I ran into her at that suit shop on the right day, at the perfect time, and then again at the Shanghai, and then again on the park bench, and then again in the city...

I know she has this strange aura that attracts people, but it's insane just how easily I find myself yanked into her company, how easily she rubs off on me, how easily everything she says resonates with me...

But... let's be serious; I couldn't say that now, could I?

“Honestly, I think it's because I met you.”

Aaaaaand then I went and said it. The forbidden words I told myself I'd never speak. I should have refused another glass – my head has been spinning since ever since we started drinking this stuff.

She meets my statement with an astonished look. “What do you mean by that?”

“I don't know what it is, really. Things have just started to fall back into place ever since I ran into you at the suit shop. And then again at the-”

“At the Shanghai. And then in town. And then in the city. I'm not the only who thought that was weird, right?” She asks out of amusement.

“No, it was very weird. I almost thought of avoiding you that night in the city because I figured you'd think I was stalking you.” I confess, unable to keep a goofy grin from curling up between my cheeks.

We both share a short bout of laughter at the sheer absurdity of it all. I’m glad this is something we can at least laugh about, rather than theorizing or feeling awkward towards. It's moments like this that really reinforce these feelings for her, it's j-

No, there are much more important things to be dealt with right now.

“There's just these weird feelings about it all, though. I started out as an antisocial, self-hating teenager, and I just feel like ever since I met you I've been able to pull myself out of that pit. It's easier to move forward, I guess.”

“Geez, it almost sounds like you're confessing to me or something.” She says, eying me with curiosity.

“That might just be it, yeah.”

And there it is. In that instant, every shred of restraint leaps full-force from my body.

One weight is lifted, and at the same time an even heavier one is dropped.

I said that.

I really said it.

I just confessed to her. 'Six years older than me' Akira Satou. 'Superior in experience and wisdom' Akira Satou. 'The sister of my classmate' Akira Satou. 'Director of Human Resources at a networking firm' Akira Satou. 'Enjoys drinking and isn't afraid to admit it' Akira Satou.

My heart throbs with an unknown fervor. However, as if to remind me that we were in the middle of a thunderstorm, another bolt of lightning sends a rumbling spike of much-needed sense shredding through my addled thoughts.

'In a relationship with another man' Akira Satou.

She giggles a bit, more out of disbelief than from finding anything comical about the situation. “I, uh, hmm... Is that so?”

It's not easy to tell if she's taking it in one way or the other. She could be accepting of it but may think it's too awkward to embrace, as most confessions are. On the other hand, she could be thinking of a the nicest way to kick me out of her penthouse.

Also, it doesn't help that I can't think of anything to say, my mouth opening and closing in repeated attempts to blather something out while blood rushes to my head.

It would seem that she finds herself in the same predicament, as instead of an answer I get nothing but a pair of ruby-red eyes darting back and forth among my face and the rest of the room between long sips from her own glass.

This could be a drinking game or something – take a swig every time we open our mouths to say something and then give up on it.

After a short wait and numerous failed attempts, however, Akira finally comes out with “I'm not sure what to say to that, honestly. Uh... geez, this makes things complicated.”

“Just forget I said anything.” I reply, trying to force an awkward laugh.

What follows isn't so much a notion of agreement as I'd hoped. A warm smile lights up her expression as she waves her hand back and forth to dissolve any notion of the idea.

“Oh, no, I won't forget it. I just need time to think about what I want to say to that.” She asserts. I'm not exactly sure how I’m reacting to such a statement, but the next thing she makes sure to do is shrug and console me with “c'mon, I've never been good with stuff like this.”

On one hand, it's not a rejection; but at the same time she doesn't seem very accepting of such an outburst. As much as I'd love to fight and get it resolved here, I don't think it'd lead anywhere. It's too early to act on anything – hell, it was too early to let something like that slip out of my mouth in the first place.

“Don't worry, I'm not gonna leave you hanging.” She remarks, laying one hand on my shoulder and flashing a reassuring grin. “Anyway, we’ve still got about half a bottle left. I don’t know about you, but I think this stuff is just a little too amazing to only go halfway with.”

Not gonna leave me hanging, huh? I suppose that's one thing I can be happy about. Better than giving your heart to someone and then having to deal with such a thing never being acknowledged again.

I take the hint and raise my glass, which she refills along with her own.

“To…”

We both pause, unsure of what to dedicate our hapless drink to.

In that instant, another thunderbolt rips through the silence, almost causing me to jump in my seat.

“To bad weather?” I suggest.

“To bad weather.” She accepts with a grin, tapping her glass against mine.
Last edited by Thanatos02 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

komina12345
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by komina12345 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:31 am

Brilliant chapter.
Totally was not expecting that to come out of Hisao's mouth but hey booze does what it wants :lol:
But seriously, you left me hanging at the end :(
Hanako, Akira, and Lilly
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Parliament
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by Parliament » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:54 am

It's moments like this when I wish I had a time machine. I just wanna read through all of Act 4 at once :O
Thanks for another wonderful chapter, I'll be eagerly awaiting the next one!
I wish I had some kind of succinct piece of wisdom to put here. Oh well, bathrobes are comfy =)

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by StudyOfWumbology » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:20 am

Thanatos, you are just an amazing writer and I would like to thank you for that. Another thing: WHY CAN'T I JUST READ EVERYTHING AT ONCE SO MY LIFE CAN BE COMPLETE!?!?!
Things happen. For the best or for the worst we do not know.

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by Exbando » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:36 am

What?! It's over already...Now I have to wait...In the meantime, I noticed some things:
“We'd get a cheque in the mail each week. That's it.” She states, shaking her head and taking another swig from the glass in her hand. “At the time, it sickened me just to open that envelope each month. He wasn't taking care of us, he was doing it out of obligation."
Which is it?
'In a relationship with another man' Akira Satou.
Let's not forget that he's your boss as well, Hisao...
Hanako > Lilly = Emi > Shizune > Rin
Feeling like your heart is broken? Need to get it off your chest? Tell your story here
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by Triscuitable » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:46 am

Niji wouldn't have happened to be a one-eyed dog now, would he?

EDIT: Right, forgot, GOD DAMN CLIFFHANGERS.

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by Gauldoth Half-Dead » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:36 am

I think I went a little overboard with the backstory and exposition, but the plot is moving forward in other aspects so hopefully it won't feel stagnant and boring to anyone. Comments and criticisms are very valuable to me, and as usual I appreciate any input anyone may have.
Ah, in a way, expanding on backstory is moving the plot forward too. Something needed to be said to help drain the bottle of whiskey and a bit of past was perfect for it, so don't worry about that. Personally I don't feel like this part was stagnant, and definitely not boring. I like how Hisao's subtlety disappears and he's about as smooth as sandpaper after the whiskey. Confirmed for accurate depiction.
In short, it's a part nicely done. I have no other comments really, keep up the good work.

But you may want to hurry with the next one, or I'll have to visit you at night...
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by Wookie » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:23 pm

Great chapter, the backstory was good to read and didn't detract from it at all. My only quibble is... moonlight in the middle of a thunderstorm?
My recommended fanfic material:
- A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route/Ascent: An Emilogue/Akira Pseudo-Route/Sisterhood (Hanako Epilogue)/One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)/"Can You Open Your Heart?" - a Rika pseudo-route/Closure/Kagami Pseudo-Route/ Tomorrow's Doom - Aiko Kurai (OC)... Damn it people, stop writing awesome fanfic, i'm running out of room in this sig!

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by YourFavAnon » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:46 pm

The lyrics from this song seem quite suiting to this chapter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhaQ_eeA1lI

The song is actually about alcoholism, but it could be taken various ways.
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 1/24]

Post by nemz » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:29 pm

Thanatos02 wrote:I think I went a little overboard with the backstory and exposition, but the plot is moving forward in other aspects so hopefully it won't feel stagnant and boring to anyone.


Nah, not at all. Getting to know about somebody's past is very much a step forward in such situations. It would make things crazy long here, but I do almost wish you'd made up some new backstory for Hisao to reply with. It does somewhat bother me that Rin's path was the only one in the game to delve into his past beyond what we learn in act 1, though I guess nobody else wanted to touch it for fear of conflicting with others.
Rin > Shizune > Emi > Hanako > Lilly

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by LegyPlegy » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:17 pm

The ending was super awkward. I couldn't help but feel embarrassed myself as I read it, not so much for me but for Hisao..

Sucks. Although there is the possibility of Akira not giving a damn because they were pretty drunk.
Damn paper trails

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by Thanatos02 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:55 pm

komina12345 wrote:Brilliant chapter.
Totally was not expecting that to come out of Hisao's mouth but hey booze does what it wants :lol:
But seriously, you left me hanging at the end :(
Parliament wrote:It's moments like this when I wish I had a time machine. I just wanna read through all of Act 4 at once :O
Thanks for another wonderful chapter, I'll be eagerly awaiting the next one!
StudyOfWumbology wrote:Thanatos, you are just an amazing writer and I would like to thank you for that. Another thing: WHY CAN'T I JUST READ EVERYTHING AT ONCE SO MY LIFE CAN BE COMPLETE!?!?!
LegyPlegy wrote:The ending was super awkward. I couldn't help but feel embarrassed myself as I read it, not so much for me but for Hisao..
Sucks. Although there is the possibility of Akira not giving a damn because they were pretty drunk.
Thanks for reading! Seriously, I'm really grateful for the following my story has gathered around here!
Sorry about the cliffhanger. I'd have kept writing until it was all resolved, but then the chapter would be like 30,000 words long. It'll get sorted out soon! Just not instantaneously. Because that would be boring.
Triscuitable wrote:Niji wouldn't have happened to be a one-eyed dog now, would he?
Let's just say I've spent a bit of time on the Mishimmie. Not sure if Niji was ever an official thing or just a running joke, but I figured it was sensible enough to be thrown into a non-canon work as an off-handed mention.
EDIT: Right, forgot, GOD DAMN CLIFFHANGERS.
:<
Exbando wrote:Which is it?
It was supposed to be weekly. Kinda got mixed up myself when I was writing that part, so sorry for any confusion. And thanks for catching that, by the way haha.
Let's not forget that he's your boss as well, Hisao...
I call it a challenge.
Gauldoth Half-Dead wrote:Ah, in a way, expanding on backstory is moving the plot forward too. Something needed to be said to help drain the bottle of whiskey and a bit of past was perfect for it, so don't worry about that. Personally I don't feel like this part was stagnant, and definitely not boring. I like how Hisao's subtlety disappears and he's about as smooth as sandpaper after the whiskey. Confirmed for accurate depiction.
In short, it's a part nicely done. I have no other comments really, keep up the good work.
But you may want to hurry with the next one, or I'll have to visit you at night...
Slightly intended, slightly dumb luck that it turned out as well as it did. Thanks for reading!

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by Thanatos02 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:00 pm

Wookie wrote:Great chapter, the backstory was good to read and didn't detract from it at all. My only quibble is... moonlight in the middle of a thunderstorm?
I, uh...
I had the image in my mind of a city during a thunderstorm, and I knew that there would still be light but I was having trouble drawing all the details around. Originally there was supposed to be a faint glow coming from the streetlamps down below, but halfway through I realized that if the power knocked out that block or something, then the streetlamps would be dead. Or, at least, the streetlamps around here die when the power's out. Not sure if they use a different sort of grid in Japan. But anyway, partway through I decided to switch to moonlight, apparently forgetting in my mind that there's not really enough sky exposed for moonlight to be visible through the bad weather.
Ehhhhhhhhh. I'd like to just leave it as is. I've seen moonlight during a thunderstorm at night, but it wasn't really as heavy as the one I depicted in the story. I'll play around with it and see what I can do. Thanks for noticing that.
nemz wrote:Nah, not at all. Getting to know about somebody's past is very much a step forward in such situations. It would make things crazy long here, but I do almost wish you'd made up some new backstory for Hisao to reply with. It does somewhat bother me that Rin's path was the only one in the game to delve into his past beyond what we learn in act 1, though I guess nobody else wanted to touch it for fear of conflicting with others.
I'm trying to keep from adding to Hisao's backstory as best I can. I've already thrown in things like him being a big arcade-dweller as a kid and having to take the subway to school and back and how he can't focus while in crowds. I'm sure there's a few things I could play off of, but I'd like to keep him as close to the book as is possible.
YourFavAnon wrote:The lyrics from this song seem quite suiting to this chapter.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhaQ_eeA1lI
The song is actually about alcoholism, but it could be taken various ways.
I rike it. Thanks for throwing this my way.

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by SerRodrik » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:39 pm

Ah, yes, I've reached that part. That part when I finish marathoning through a story only to find out that it's still a work in progress and I'll have to start waiting for updates just like everyone else.

...I don't like that part.

Seriously though, it's been a great story so far. It's almost shocking how well it worked given how many hurdles an Akira route would have to overcome. I'm excited for more (especially with the way that last chapter ended).

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 2/2]

Post by Fiandra » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:29 pm

Nice chapter :D I like it.

And like everyone said : THAT DANG CLIFFHANGER
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